Friday, November 30, 2007

First PETA convention

How was it that the Achim could have actually taken part in such a grave sin like Ever min HaChai? They were not Amei HaAretz, they were the Gedolei Hador!

Yosef and his brothers obviously had 2 separate definitions of what constituted the issur of Ever min HaChai:

a. Brothers – Eating from the animal after it was shechted but moving a little is alright because this is the law for Jews

b. Yosef – We are still Bnei Noach and because of this we must abide by their laws. This means that we are only allowed to eat from the animal when it entirely STOPS moving.

(Gemara Brachos)After G-d changed Yaakov’s name to Yisrael, we see that unlike Avraham and Sarah his new name was just added onto his old name. Sometimes he was Yaakov and other times he was Yisrael.

The tribes had 2 different within their history. They were Bnei Yaakov which included all of Yaakov’s sons and then they were Bnei Yisrael, which was minus Levi and Yosef and in their place there was Efraim and Menashe.

This distinction is essential to the accusations in which Yosef put forth to Yaakov. During this episode in which Yosef accuses the brothers of eating from the live animal, Yosef is of the opinion that because Efraim and Menashe have yet to be born, the tribes cannot be distinguished as Bnei Yisroel, therefore eating from the animal while it was still moving was a complete issur!

The Brothers however, felt that because Yaakov’s name had been changed after his skirmish with the Malach of Esav they WERE ALREADY Bnei Yisrael.

For that reason, we see that the Brothers were not idiots being malicious and insensitive. But they had methodically and systematically thought out every decision which they had made, this included the eating of the “live” animal.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Parshas Vayeishev - Patience is a Virtue

This week’s Parsha has an especially nostalgic sentiment to it, in that I learned it for the first time in 4th Grade with R’ Mordechai Zucker Shlit”a. We learned it with a distinct jingle that I will never forget.

I hope that everyone had a restful vacation. Just in case you did not have time to prepare a vort for Shabbos here is a little something…

Quickie/Funfact: It is stated in the second pasuk of this weeks parsha,

Breishis 37:3 “This is the history of Yaakov; Yosef at the age of seventeen years, would tend the sheep with his brothers, and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives. Yosef brought back bad reports (Dibatan Ra'ah) about them to their father.

Rashi remarks on this verse that Yosef’s reports on his brothers was not just a simple tattle but he was in fact, telling his father that his brothers were taking part in a grave sin. One of cruelty and insensitivity. A sin so cruel, that it is listed as one of the seven mitzvos of Bnei Noach. They were eating the limb of a live animal!

The Question is however, how did Rashi know that this is what Yosef had told his father? The Baal Haturim answers, that the Gematria of “bad reports (Dibatan Ra'ah)” is the same as, “They were eating the limb of a live animal (Shehem achlu Ever Min Hachai)”.

As a result of the relationship of Tamar and Yehuda, two beautiful boys are brought into this world. A peculiar event happens during their births however. As the “first” child Zoreach, sticks his hand outside of the womb Yehuda ties a rope around his wrist anticipating the baby’s birth. Suddenly and amazingly Zoreach pulls his hand back into the womb and out comes the real first born son, the father of the Messiah himself, Peretz.

Rabbi Yaakov Kaminetsky in his work, Emes LiYaakov, tells us that this story is not just a paranormal occurrence, but in fact has a message that we all can carry with ourselves for the rest of our lives.

Often times we jump to conclusions and are disappointed when our initial expectations do not come to fruition. This story with Zoreach and Peretz is telling us that the Messiah will come, but when we least expect it. We might assume that because of certain events in the world or in history that the Mashiach is on the horizon. The truth is however that this is in Hashem’s hands to decide not ours. Patience is a Virtue.

The Brutal Truth

My friend sent me this article that he found on, and Boy O Boy is it true:

A few years after I was born, my Dad met a stranger who was new to our small Texas town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer and soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was around from then on.

As I grew up, I never questioned his place in my family. In my young mind, he had a special niche. My parents were complementary instructors: Mom taught me good from evil, and Dad taught me to obey. But the stranger...he was our storyteller. He would keep us spellbound for hours on end with adventures, mysteries and comedies.

If I wanted to know anything about politics, history or science, he always knew the answers about the past, understood the present and even seemed able to predict the future! He took my family to the first major league ball game. He made me laugh, and he made me cry. The stranger never stopped talking, but Dad didn't seem to mind.

Sometimes, Mom would get up quietly while the rest of us were shushing each other to listen to what he had to say, and she would go to the kitchen for peace and quiet. (I wonder now if she ever prayed for the stranger to leave?)

Dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions, but the stranger never felt obligated to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our home... not from us, our friends or any visitors. Our longtime visitor, however, got away with four-letter words that burned my ears and made my dad squirm and my mother blush.

My Dad didn't permit the liberal use of alcohol. But the stranger encouraged us to try it on a regular basis. He made cigarettes look cool, cigars manly and pipes distinguished. He talked freely (much too freely!) about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing.

I now know that my early concepts about relationships were influenced strongly by the stranger. Time after time, he opposed the values of my parents, yet he was seldom rebuked... and NEVER asked to leave.

More than 50 years have passed since the stranger moved in with our family. He has blended right in and is not nearly as fascinating as he was at first. Still, if you could walk into my parents' den today, you would still find him sitting over in his corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures. His name?

We just call him, "TV."

And the stranger has a wife now. We call her "Internet."

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Who knew the power of a few words

There is a machlokes between the Mechaber and the Gr”a as to what level of learning one is allowed to do before saying Bircas Hatorah:

The Mechaber says that Thinking is not like Speaking (Hirhur Lav Kidibur dami) therefore as long as one does not speak in Torah he does not have to say Bircas HaTorah. The Gr”a however says, even thinking is not allowed.

There is a story that is told about the Gr"a. (The Gr"a once went against his own psak and thought in Torah before saying Bircas Hatorah, because of this he forgot everything he ever learned ...)

Nevertheless we see that the Mechaber says in a few Sifim later that writing down Torah is not allowed! Earlier the Mechaber said that as long as one does not speak in Torah he does not have to recite Bircas HaTorah. We see now however that the Mechaber is contradicting himself by saying that if one writes Torah he is Chayiv in Bircas HaTorah, how can this be?

The answer is that these 2 comments by the Mechaber are not soter each other at all. According to his reasoning the reason for why a person would be chayiv in Bircas Hatorah once it has been spoken or written is because now it is available to the world. When Torah is being thought about however, the only one who it is available to is the thinker.

R' Gedalia Anemer Shlit"a talked about this (within the context of Shomea Kioneh) last Pesach in his Shabbos HaGadol Drasha. Often times we neglect the laws and rules of Shmiras HaLashon. When things are written we rationalize that because they never officially left our lips all is well and more. The truth is however, that when something is written it may be more available to the world then it could have been had it left your mouth.

In Shul Dvar Torah - Parshas Vayishlach

Today in Shul, Rabbi Tzvi Klugerman gave a Dvar Torah about Yaakov. He commented that all of the forefathers had run ins and stories with angels. Avraham in his tent, Yitzchak at the akeida. Yaakov however, seemed to have a little bit more contact with the angels than the other two.

It seems that Yaakov utilized or had a keen awareness of Angels more than anyone else in his time. We see this first with his dream on Mount Moriah, where he lays to rest and he has a dream that entails a ladder that a has angelic creatures traveling up and down the steps. Yaakov even seems to have a relationship with them on a more personal level. We see this in the first Pasuk of Parshas Vayishlach , according to Rashi’s explanation of the verse it says, “Then Jacob sent angels ahead of him to Esau his brother…”. Yaakov seemed to have such a close relationship with the angels so much so that he could tell them to do things for him.

If this is so, then why didn’t he have an Angel fight the battle with Esav’s angel? This would have saved him time and of a considerable amount of pain

It seems that we can learn a lot on a personal level from this happening. It is true that Yaakov could have sent an Angel to fight his battle. He instead made the executive decision that this battle was something that he had to do alone.

Yaakov was teaching us that our biggest battles must be fought by ourselves without any armies or supporting casts. Often times we are so busy, that our responsibilities and true priorities take the back seat to whatever is most convenient for us at the time. Yaakov is telling us that this is a terrible misconception.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Parshas Vayishlach - "You Gotta Feel It Man"

To all of you who did not have time to prepare a Dvar Torah.....

(Breishis 32:5) "I have lived with Lavan, and tarried until now"

Rashi cites the famous Chazal that the word "Garti" (I lived) has the numerical value of 613, indicating "I lived with the wicked Lavan, nevertheless I observed the 613 Commandments, without learning from his evil ways."

Rav Ruderman noted the apparent redundancy in Yaakov's message to his brother, Eisav.

If Yaakov had already sent the message "I observed the 613 Commandments," what is added by further stating "and I have not learned from the evil ways of Lavan?"

Rav Ruderman Zt"l, taught that the inference to be drawn, is that one can observe the 613 commandments and, nevertheless, learn from the ways of a Lavan. Even within the context of a fully observant life-style, a person can wind up looking like a Lavan. Even when an individual's actions are technically permissible, the person may still be acting like a Lavan. A person can live an indulgent life-style -- one that may not technically deviate from the letter of the Law, but one, which is totally foreign from the spirit of the Law.

Therefore, Yaakov clarified: "Not only have I observed the letter of the 613 commandments, I have also not learned from Lavan and have even continued to observe the spirit of those laws."

The concept that there can be a dichotomy between someone's religious life and his social life, that glatt Kosher applies only to what I put in my mouth but not to what I see or how I act or dress, is wrong. It is a violation of "I have not learned from his evil ways".


Happy Thanksgiving

Here is something a little different...

As most and hopefully all of us know, today is Thanksgiving Day. A day which many, both secular and religious, take out of the year to give thanks, to G-d. This sounds awfully familiar however. When else do we Jews, set aside a period of time which is dedicated to introspection and giving thanks?

Besides for three times a day when we say, "Modim" the answer is the year Shmitta. The Shmitta year is a biblical law in which the land of Eretz Yisrael, is allowed to lay fallow and uncultivated every seventh year. The Sforno says that the Shmitta year is more than just a time of abstaining from agricultural pursuits but it is also a time for introspection, meditation and the study of Torah.

During this Thanksgiving year and on this day, take some time aside to introspect and appreciate how fortunate we are.

P.S. What is this weeks Parsha? Vayishlach?

Parshas Vayeitzei - "Got Water?"

To all of those who are studying hard for midterms, BEST OF LUCK! In case you didn't have time to prepare anything for Shabbos here is a little something.

Quickie/Fun Fact: Q: Breishis 28:11 says, "And he [Jacob] arrived at the place and lodged there because the sun had set, and he took some of the stones of the place and placed [them] at his head, and he lay down in that place". Why does this Pasuk say the word "makom/place" three times?!

A: The Baal HaTurim answers that the Pasuk says the word "place" three times to foreshadow that in the future Klal Yisroel will come to that very spot three times a year on the Shalosh Rigalim.

Parshas Vayeitzei starts with the Pasuk, "And Jacob left Beer Sheva, and he went to Haran."

Rashi asks a famous question on this pasuk. Why does the Torah explicitly state where Yaakov left and where he was going? We know where he was coming from, the Torah says in last week's Parsha!

Rashi answers that the departure of a Tzaddik from a town has an effect on the society in which he leaves. Often times a Tzaddik has an aura of truth and piousness that exudes an immense amount of reverence. After residing in society for an extended period of time he has an enormous amount of influence that molds his surroundings. Such a departure has detrimental effect on the remaining inhabitants.

If it is true, that when a pious person departs a place his presence is eternally missed, then why doesn't the Torah mention this by Avraham and Yitzchak when they departed their hometowns?

The Kli Yakar, a 15th Century Torah Commentator answers, when Avraham and Yitchak departed their hometowns, they brought with them "their societies". They brought their entire families and all of their righteous students. There was no one in their hometowns that after their departures would have even remotely missed them. By Yaakov however, when he left Be'er Sheva, alone, he was leaving a town where Talmidei Chachamim and Scholars were greatly appreciated. It is therefore understandable that Yaakov's leaving for the people of Be'er Sheva was something to bemoan.

Rav Asher Balanson Shlit"a (Rosh Kollel of OJ) once said in one of his famous Friday morning shiurim, that a lot is said about a person when they get emotional about something. If a person gets excited about mundane materialistic things, chances are that their priorities are probably within that same frame of mind. If person gets upset about missing a family simcha or a chavrusa chances are that those things are what the dearest to them.

After the death of the great Torah Scholar Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Aurbach Zt"l it is said that 300,000-500,000 came to his funeral to lament over klal yisroel's great loss.

The Gemara states that Ezra Hasofer made a takana that Klal Yisroel were going to read the weekly Torah readings on Mondays and Thursdays. The reason behind his Takana was because just like a person cannot go three days without water he also cannot go three days without Torah.

The Torah adds the detail that Yaakov left Be'er Sheva to show that although he was going to Haran to find a wife. The town of Be'er Sheva was losing its prime source of "water"/Torah, Yaakov Avinu.


Parshas Toldos - "Clothing alone does not make the man"

Recently a few of the readers have told me that before Shabbos, unlike their days of youth, they have limited time to sit and read divrei Torah. NO FEAR. For this reason I will start this week with a short fun fact that I tripped upon after reading YU's "Einim LaTorah". This week's long featured Dvar Torah titled, Two Boys, One Unfortunate Path, the highly acclaimed author gracefully quotes a Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch (Breishis 25:27) that discussed the importance of "Chanoch LaNaar Al Pi Darko" – educate the youngster according to his own way.

In a totally unrelated topic, it seems that a few pasukim earlier while commenting on the physical appearance of Esav and Yaakov (Breishis 25:24) the pasuk says , "When her term to bear grew full, then behold! There were twins in her womb."

This word, behold, tells us that something is of the unexpected. We would expect that based on the description in character of both Yaakov and Esav that their physical appearances would not resemble one another in the slightest. Rav Hirsch explains that because of the word "behold" we must say that in fact their physical appearances were identical! And that the only difference in their appearance was that Esav was almost entirely physically developed at the time of his birth.

The Sefer, Sas Anochi Al Imrasecha Kimotzei Shalal Rav (what a mouthful!) asks, why did Hakadosh Baruch Hu make Yaakov and Esav fight in the womb? The Yeshuos Malko answers that by the fact that Yaakov was holding onto the ankle of Esav, they must have shared a placenta/amniotic sac. Medically, twins that share a placenta are destined either to be identical or Siamese. For this reason Hashem made them move around in the womb to prevent them from being Siamese.

Therefore we must say that Yaakov and Esav were identical twins!

For those of you who are staying in for the long haul below is this weeks food for thought.

If we were to treat this week's Parsha like a movie of sorts we very easily would come to the conclusion that Esav was a bad guy and that Yaakov was good a good guy. Nevertheless, after taking a closer look we see that Esav had one mitzvah down pat. He was seemingly impeccable at the mitzvah of honoring his father.

The Midrash Rabba says that R'Shimon ben Gamliel bewailed the fact that although he served his father for his entire life his actions did not measure up to even one percent of what Esav did for Yitchak. When Esav would serve his father he would put on his finest clothing while helping his father with all of his needs.

R' Shimon ben Gamliel could not have put on his finest clothing as well?

The truth is that he also may have put on his finest clothing to serve his father but the uniqueness of Esav's avodah was that he held a certain sensitivity and emotion while helping his father.

(Gemara in Yoma 47a – for Dovi!) Story with Kimcha who merited having all of her sons serve as High Priests because she never let the walls of her house see her hair.

Many woman make it their life's mission to be modest, very few merit to have all of their sons grow up to be High Priests?!

Rabbi Frand explains that many times we do mitzvos, but totally miss the point when it comes to having the proper mindset while doing them. Our emotions are supposed to be joined with the action at hand. Only then can the action and the intentions work harmoniously together.

The Gemara Brachos 17a says that a person who learns Torah "Shelo Lishma"- Not in the name of G-d, it would have been better had he not been created. Tosafos on 17a asks, "Is there not a Gemara on 50b that says that someone who learns not in the name of G-d ultimately will come to learning in the name of G-d?!" He answers that it all comes down to your initial intentions while learning in the first place. If a person's initial intentions while doing the mitzvos are entirely focused on how others will view them then there logic is skewed.

We must make it our responsibility to do the mitzvos with the right intentions and just because we might have the right clothing this doesn't necessarily mean that it makes the man.


Parshas Chayei Sarah - "Be All That You Can Be"

This time last year I was in Chevron for Shabbos...if anyone has a leftover ticket to me....I'll take one way also.

Just in case you need something to say at your Shabbos table...

Breishis 23:2 "Sarah died in Kiriat Araba which is Chevron in the land of Canaan; Avraham came to eulogize Sarah and to bewail her."

At the beginning of this week's Parsha we hear of the death of our foremother Sarah. In response to the death of his wife of many years, Avraham lets out a cry.

(Fun Fact) It is written in the Medrish Tanchuma, that Avraham Avinu's cry consisted of the words of Eishes Chayil. Only from here do we have the beautiful and sweet words that we sing at our Shabbos tables every Friday night.

A question that one may ask from the simple reading of this pasuk is, why is there such an emphasis on "bewailing HER", everyone cries when they have a loss their family?

Putting this question aside for a moment….

Fast forwarding in the Parsha, Eliezer has been sent on a mission by his master Avraham to find a wife for his son, Yitzchok. Avraham gives Eliezer 2 primary guidelines for finding the appropriate spouse for his son. The guidelines are simple; Yes Haranites (if that is what they are called) and NO Caananites!

What is it about the women of Haran that differs from women of Canaan? And why did Eliezer make up a test for the girl?

It is written in Hadrashas Haran that a person's middos are genetic; Avraham avinu knew that the middos of Haran were faultless. Avraham, however, wanted to test their middos so he devised a test. He did not only want a girl who was going to simply abide by the law, which was characteristic of the girls of Haran, but he wanted a girl who without ever being asked would make herself acquiescent to the klal, someone out of the norm.

When Rivka gave water to Eliezer, she gave it wholeheartedly and enthusiastically almost as if the entire reason why she had drawn it in the first place was for Eliezer. Before Eliezer could offer her the nose ring and bracelets and say, "will you marry Yitchak", Rachel goes another step further and does something that only maybe a Veterinarian would do; she sensitively and appropriately feeds the animals.

(Gemara Shabbos 33b) When R' Shimon Bar Yochai was coming out of the cave he saw that a man was carrying myrtle braches. Upon inquiring as to why he was carrying these branches, the man answered proudly, that the branches were for Shabbos. Only at this point was R' Shimon bar Yochai able to re-reenter society.

Nowhere in the 4 books of the Shulchan Aruch does it say that we have an obligation to buy flowers for Shabbos. R' Shimon bar Yochai was elated to hear that this Jew was going out of his way just to glorify Shabbos. Avraham Avinu was telling Eliezer, the only person who would be fitting for Yitchak is someone who goes above the norm; someone who is modest and has middos.

Now we can answer the question as to why the Torah puts emphasis on Avraham specifically bewailing HER:

When most people lose a loved one, they tend to cry because THEY have lost. Avraham however was crying because SHE had lost. No longer did Sarah have the ability to practice Hachnasas Orchim with vigor and love as she used to. Avraham forgot about himself and his own needs. All that he wanted to do was care for the person who was lacking. Again, a trait, that was atypical.

At the beginning of Parshas Bereishis, Rashi answers the reason for why the Torah starts with Parshas Breishis and not the mitzvah of Rosh Chodesh. He says that it is because Hashem wanted to give us a deed to the land of Israel.

As a follow up question to this, many commentators ask, beautiful, we now have a deed to Eretz Yisrael! But why do we need all of the "stories" of Avraham, Yitzchak, the Shivatim and Moshe this is all seemingly extraneous? The answer is simple. We are supposed to learn from our forefathers that living our lives strictly by the book is unacceptable. The key is to go beyond the call of duty.


Parshas Vayeira - "NO FEAR"

This week's Parsha happens to be my Bar Mitzvah Parsha.I thought about saving some time and just sending out my Bar Mitzvah Speech but, I didn't write any of it and I figured that doing that would be a tad dishonest.

Here is just a few words in case you need something at the table....

While reading this week's Parsha the following instance stuck out in my mind:

Imagine the scene; Avraham Avinu arrives in Gerar with a fabulous entourage. He is held in such high international regard that he even had the opportunity to meet with the provinces King, Avimelech. After a very brief discourse with the King, Avraham tells Avimelech that Sarah is his sister.

So deeply infatuated with Sarah's beautiful looks, Avimelech sends his men to bring Sarah to him, in hopes of possibly initiating a relationship. After Sarah's arrival and settlement in his ornate palace, the King has a dream from Hashem telling him to stop in his tracks. Sarah had been falsely identified as Avraham's sister and is in fact was his lawfully wedded wife.

וַיֹּאמֶר אֲבִימֶלֶךְ, אֶל-אַבְרָהָם: מָה רָאִיתָ, כִּי עָשִׂיתָ אֶת-הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה.

וַיֹּאמֶר, אַבְרָהָם, כִּי אָמַרְתִּי רַק אֵין-יִרְאַת אֱלֹהִים, בַּמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה ; וַהֲרָגוּנִי, עַל-דְּבַר אִשְׁתִּי

Befuddled and bewildered as to why Avraham lied, the king inquires and asks, Breishis 20:10, "What did you see that you did such a thing? Avraham responds, Breishis 20:11"Because there is no fear of G-d in this place and they will slay me because of my wife."

When Avraham was visiting Pharaoh in Egypt, the hearth of immorality and witchcraft, (Tractate Kiddushin 49b) it was justifiably understandable that he would lie and tell Pharaoh that Sarah was his wife in fear of being killed. In Gerar however, one of the most civilized societies, Avraham should have had no such worry?!

The Malbim answers with an eye opening answer. Avraham Avinu was telling AviMelech that, "Gerar is an incredibly upstanding and noble society. Culturally and philosophically they are seemingly unmatched but all of this means nothing. As long as man is dictating the law, it can never be set in stone. The only law that will eternally have force is Divine Law. Therefore, I must lie to you when it comes to matters such as these."

Within the context of this Malbim, Rabbi Frand tells the following story: While sitting with a group of leading Rabbi's from his generation, Rav Elchonon Wasserman delivered over this Malbim. He told it over in regards to what can happen in Germany in the decade immediately prior to the rise of Nazi power.

The other Rabbis scoffed at him and said "Not here. Never Again! Germany is a country of laws, moral standing, and is technologically advanced"

Yes, Germany was a country of laws. In 1933, one of the first laws that the Nazis passed was a law against cruelty to animals. Gypsies should not be allowed to perform with dancing bears. Why? Because it was not right for the German people to stand idly by when innocent animals were taken advantage of and perhaps not cared for properly. Those were the "laws" of Germany. A mere five years later there were different "laws" in Germany.

The phenomenon of a judicial system that does not abide by the divine law is that the wrongdoings of yesterday become the acceptable of today. An act that used to be called murder is now a medical procedure known as euthanasia.

Avraham tells Avimelech that, yes, his people are cultured but if lust or some other motive gets in their way nothing will stop them from satiating their desires.


Parshas Lech Lecha - "Can you feel it?!"

Wow!, What a week. This was definitely a packed one. I figured that I would send you guys a Dvar Torah just in case you feel an itch for a vort.

This week in YU we were fortunate to have The Rishon LiZion, Sfardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Shlomo Amar Shlita come and speak to us on the topic of the intricacies of the Shmitta year.

Before the much anticipated shiur, Rabbi Zevulun Charlap, Dean of RIETS gave a brief but powerful introduction for Rabbi Amar. He began the introduction with the following Dvar Torah.

The first Pasuk of לֶךְ-לְךָ states,

א וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל-אַבְרָם, לֶךְ-לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ, אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר אַרְאֶךָּ.

1 And Hashem said to Avram, "Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and from your father's house, to the land that I will show you.

Rashi , Commenting on the first pasuk says, 1. Go forth.לֶךְ-לְךָ, for your benefit and for your good, and there I will make you into a great nation, but here, you will not merit to have children. Moreover, I will make your character known in the world. — [from Rosh Hashanah 16b.]

Therefore, when Hashem tells Avram to "Go Forth…to the land that I will show you [Eretz Yisrael]" Hashem is telling Avram that it is for his own personal benefit. The reason for his leaving was for his enjoyment.

Within this context the Gemara Messeches Rosh Hashana (28b) quotes Rav Yehuda as saying, "You should not blow the Shofar of an Olah, if you did however you are still Yotzeh. You should not blow the Shofar of a Shlamim, if you did however you are still Yotzeh." The Gemara follows this statement with a question.

If an Olah and Shlamim are Hekdesh(designated for use in the Temple) then how are we allowed to use these Shofars for blowing on Rosh HaShana?! The usage of these Shofars should most definitely be prohibited on all accounts?!

The Gemara answers that it is permissible to blow these Shofars because Mitzvos Lav Lehenos Nitnu, The Mitzvos were not given for our pleasure. Therefore we have not desecrated the property of the Temple.

In conjunction with this Gemara in Rosh Hashana we now have a great question on our Rashi here in לֶךְ-לְךָ. If Mitzvos were not given for our benefit than how can Hashem say that the mitzvah of going to Eretz Yisrael was for Avram's benefit? Avram has to leave because Hashem told him to, not because it was for his pleasure?!

Rabbi Charlap's father offers the following answer; there are two different kinds of enjoyment. There is a physical enjoyment which can be received from doing mitzvos. Hashem gives us mitzvos and although we may inadvertently derive benefit from performing a mitzvah, this isn't why were given the mitzvah because Mitzvos Lav Lehenos Nitnu. Then there is the physical enjoyment that one gets from doing Kiyum Hamitzvos (inherently performing the mitzvah) which we are supposed to derive benefit from.

Rabbi Charlap explained that it wasn't that a physical enjoyment was derived from Avram's travel to the land of Canaan and this is why he went; on the contrary, it was a tenuous journey.Rashi is telling us that Avram derived an immense amount of pleasure and benefit from the Kiyum Hamitzvah itself. By the fact that he was given the opportunity to do the mitzvah of listening to G-d he derived benefit.

On this note, the Gemarah in Messeches Sanhedrin states that everyone has a portion in the world to come. So the question that one must ask is, than what makes one person's plot bigger or more enjoyable the next? The Nisivos Shalom (Slonim) answers, that it is the difference between an animate and an inanimate object. If we don't pro actively derive enjoyment in the Kiyumey Hamitzvos, then we will get reward, but we only have minimal enjoyment out of it because we won't know how to appreciate the glory of the next world. But, if we enjoy ourselves and truly wholeheartedly accept the mitzvos upon ourselves then our experiences in Olam Haba will be riveted with excitement.

Often times we look at our obligation to perform the mitzvos as burdensome. After taking into account all that our busy lives have to offer, the mitzvos seem like a trouble. The truth is however, that our perspectives are skewed by the numerous responsibilities that have been thrown in our direction. Having the ability to perform the mitzvos is really an opportunity. Like in the case of Avram, Hashem always gives us the opportunity to enhance our experiences in the next world but in the end it all comes down to how we play our cards.

Have a Fantastic Shabbos!

Parshas Noach - "When keeping it to yourself doesnt help"

הַלוֹמֵד מֵחֲבֵרוֹ פֶּרֶק אֶחָד אוֹ הֲלָכָה אֶחָת אוֹ פָּסוּק אֶחָד אוֹ דִבּוּר אֶחָד אוֹ אֲפִילוּ אוֹת אֶחָת, צָרִיךְ לִנְהָג בּוֹ כָּבוֹד
In Pirkei Avos 6:3 it says, "If you learn one chapter, or one sentence, or one word of Torah from your friend you must show him honor..." Tonight I was sitting in the Beis Medrish learning with my "Rebbe"/ Chavrusa, Effie, and I momentarily stopped learning to asked Effie if he had any divrei Torah on this weeks Parsha. He proceeded to tell me an unbelievable message which he heard from Rabbi Mordechai Willig Shlita.

The Torah seems to draw an unbelievable comparison between Noach and Moshe.

In regard to Noach:

Breishis 6:9 "These are the generations of Noach, Noach was a righteous man he was perfect in his generations; Noach walked with God."

Breishis 9:21 "And Noach began to be a master of the soil, and he planted a vineyard."

In regards to Moshe:

Shmos 2:19 "They replied, an Egyptian man saved us from from the shepherds, and he even drew water for us and watered the sheep."

Devarim 34:5 " So Moses, servant of Hashem, died there in the plains of Moav, by the mouth of Hashem"

According to the above psukim, at the beginning of Noach's life he was a Tzaddik, but at the end he was just a man of the field. Conversely, Moshe started as an Egyptian man and ended his life as a true Servent of G-d

It seems that the life of Noach regressed and that the life of Moshe progressed this is seemingly an unbelievable phenomenon?! How can this be, Rashi on this Pasuk comments that Noach was such a big tzadik that had he been in other generations he would have been a Tzaddik BiYoter?! To what can we attribute his regression?

The answer is because Noach and Moshe lived opposite lives. Although both of them were unbelievable characters in Jewish history, only one of them took on the official title of leader. By passively abstaining from associaing with people in the Dor HaMabul Noach dug himself deeper and deeper into a rut almost setting himself up for failure. Moshe on the other hand consciously made it his responsibility to caringly aid the Jewish people through there woes.

Similarly, we know that the second Beis Hamikdash was distroyed because Klal Yisroel did not say Bircas HaTorah before they started learning. What does this mean? Is it possible that one day everyone simultaneously decided that Bircas Hatorah was meaningless and from then on they continued learning without the Bracha? CAN'T BE!

The answer lies in the first line that we say after modeh ani in the morning, "Reishis Chachma Yiraas Hashem". OF COURSE Klal Yisrael continued saying bircas HaTorah before they learned! It was something that was entirely attitude based. They did not actualize there learning. It didn't become a life. When Noach was building the Teiva he didn't reach out to his fellow Jew to be mekarev him and because of this he became an Ish HaAdma his true Yiraah was lacking .7:7 "Noah, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him, went into the ark because of the waters of the flood". Rashi comments that Noach had little faith, he did not fully believe that the flood was going to come. Only once the water had come did he enter the ark. His Yiraah was lacking! Moshe, however, consistantly made it his effort to reach out and be there for his brothers and sisters. Only later earning the worthy title of Eved Hashem.

Interestingly enough, my "Rebbe"/Roomate, Raffi, told me that the Kisvei HaAri specifically states that Moshe was a Gilgul (reincarnation) of Noach. His tafkid (duty) was to be metakein (fix) the mistakes of Noach.

Having a Fantastic Shabbos!

You are Sorely Missed!

You are Sorely Missed!