Sunday, December 28, 2008

Jelly Donuts – With a Fork and Knife???



The Elya Rabbah writes (170:11) that one should use utensils to eat with and refrain from using their hands. Additionally, one should refrain from taking large bites of food and make sure not to get any food particles caught in their beard or on their clothing. The Elya Rabbah concludes by stating all these guidelines should be followed even when one eats alone in his home.

The Piskei Teshuvos writes (170:11) that if it is accepted by the general public to eat a certain food with one's hands (i.e. jelly donuts, bagels, or pizza), there is nothing wrong with eating without utensils. However, the Piskei Teshuvos quotes others who say that it is best to be stringent in this area and always use a fork and knife.

Courtesy of Revach.net

Saturday, December 20, 2008

B'LEV ECHAD


In light of all of the terrible things that have happened in our holy community-- I strongly urge everyone to get involved in this beautiful effort to bring achdus and Torah to our nation.

Learn Torah for Klal Yisroel!

Do Mitzvos for Klal Yisroel!

Do Chessed for Klal Yisroel!

PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING:

IS YOUR SCHOOL OR COMMUNITY SIGNED UP FOR A HISTORIC CELEBRATION OF JEWISH UNITY?

On February 24th 2009 (Rosh Chodesh Adar), the first yartzeit of the Mercaz Ha'Rav massacre, eight sifrei Torah will be dedicated in honor of the eight boys and young men who
were killed. Jews all over the world will unite to commemorate and celebrate
these students and the Torah to which they were so committed. The event will
take place in Jerusalem while schools, yeshivot, college campuses, and
institutions around the world participate in this event via a live
broadcast. The event will also conclude a worldwide learning initiative and
worldwide mitzvah project.

*This event will be an unprecedented celebration of unity as schools and
communities all over the world come together as one. Sign up your school or community. Sign up as a volunteer. RIGHT NOW at www.BlevEchad.com

Please post comments to this post if you have any questions about this project or are interested in volunteering.

Tizku LiMitzvos!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Parshas Vayeishev - Q & A


1)Why does the Torah use the root SHAV (VAYEISHEV) to describe Yaakov living and GUR (MEGUREI) to describe his father living? (37:1)


2)Reuven never told his brothers that his plan was to rescue Yosef from the pit. What, then, could Reuven have meant when he discovered that Yosef was missing and he proclaimed, AND I, WHERE WILL I GO? (37:30)


3)Why does the Torah interrupt the narrative about Yosef with a seemingly unrelated story, specifically about Yehuda? (chapter 38)


ANSWERS

1)The Kli Yakar explains that SHAV refers to a more permanent dwelling while GUR is more temporary. Yitzchak viewed his dwelling in this world as completely temporary and he never felt at home in this world. Yaakov's mistake was desiring a more permanent and comfortable dwelling in this world as captured by the use of SHAV and this led G-D to bring him struggles and challenges which eventually uprooted him and forced him to live in a more temporary manner.


2)The Ohr HaChayim answers that Reuven was saying that now that Yosef is gone, he, as the first born would be asked by Yaakov to search the world for Yosef. Had Yosef been killed by an animal in the pit as appeared to the brothers to be Reuven's plan, then they could simply bring the dead body to Yaakov. But now that Yosef is missing, Reuven asks, WHERE WILL I GO in the search which Yaakov will demand of me? This is why Reuven was pacified with the plan to dip Yosef's coat into the blood which would stop Yaakov from asking for a search.


3)The Seforno teaches that Yehuda, as a leader of the tribes, could have saved Yosef by convincing the brothers to simply return him to Yaakov. Instead, Yehuda led the brothers in the selling of Yosef into slavery thereby causing Yaakov years of grief and sorrow with Yosef missing. G-D punished Yehuda immediately for this and two of his sons die in this chapter. Thus, this interruption in the story shows G-D's attribute of justice at work.

*Courtesy of Rabbi Dov Lipman Shlit"a
*Picture from yosefdreams.com

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Q & A on Parshas Vayishlach


1)G-D has related that the Jews will be like the stars, the sand, and the dust. Why does Yaakov choose the symbolism of the Jews as sand when praying to G-D prior to his encounter with Eisav? (32:13)

2)The Torah teaches that since Yaakov was injured in his thigh, THEREFORE Jews should not eat the GID HANASHE. (32:33) Why should we refrain from eating this part of an animal simply because Yaakov was injured? What message or lesson can this possibly convey?


3)Why does the Torah bother relating that the city was named SUKKOT because Yaakov built booths (SUKKOT) for his animals? The name, itself, seems meaningless and it certainly seems to be lacking any eternal message!


ANSWERS
1)The Kli Yakar teaches that the symbolism of the stars captures the times in history when the Jews are the dominant force in the world. The dust captures when we are suffering immense persecution and dark exile. The sand refers to those times when we are being persecuted but where G-D steps in and provides salvation. The ocean water threatens to wash away the sand but then recedes with the tide. Since Yaakov is about to face Eisav which presents a danger to him and his family, he evokes this image of the sand, with the hope that G-D will save them from this time of difficulty.


2)The Da'at Zakainim MiBaalei HaTosafot explain that Yaakov was left open to the attack because he was left alone. The Jewish people were negligent and left someone unaccompanied and this resulted in the injury. Thus, we refrain from eating that part of the body to remind us of the importance of the mitzvah of not leaving people unaccompanied.


3)The Ohr HaChayim answers that at this time and place, Yaakov became the first person in world history to build shelter for his animals to provide them with comfort. This extra level of care and concern was worthy of being captured in the name of the city and it certainly teaches us a lesson about the importance of caring for all living thing.

* Courtesy of Rabbi Dov Lipman Shlit"a

Monday, December 8, 2008

Michael Medved: Chanukah


I happened to have been going through my daily blog searching routine when I happened upon the following blog post on Townhall.com, a political online publication. It was written by Michael Medved:

In this holiday season, Americans hear lots of talk about “Hanukkah” but most Christians—and most Jews, for that matter—don’t know what that word actually means. No, Hanukkah doesn’t mean “Festival of Lights,” or “Festival of Tolerance” – the Hebrew word means, simply, “dedication.” It refers to the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem in 165 B.C., after its desecration by Hellenists who worshipped Greek Gods in the shape of men. The holiday calls for our re-dedication to resisting secularism and assimilation, and recommitting to God’s commandments. The word “Hanukah” has the same root as “Hinukh” –education—emphasizing that there’s no meaningful education without dedication to divine truth. At the darkest time of each year, the glowing candles of Hanukkah signal dedication to bring light to a world that too often worships men, instead of God.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Heroes of Mumbai

Mumbai....Let's Make a Difference


My Dear Fellow Jew,

On Wednesday night I logged onto Reuters on my Blackberry and I saw
something about terrorists in Mumbai. No connection to me. Or so I thought.

The next morning the news slammed home when my chavrusa told me that his
cousin is the Chabad shaliach in Mumbai and that there was some kind of
attack and they can't seem to get him on the phone.

For the next 24 hours I, my family and everybody I know had only one thing
on our minds - the fate of the Chabad shaliach, his wife and the unknown
number of hostages inside the Chabad house.

Information was so conflicting. We tried to make sense of it all, grasping
at straws, hoping against hope that somehow, somehow they would come out
alive. And we davened. Hundreds of thousands of Jews. We all poured out
our hearts in Tefilah in every country, city, neighborhood, yeshiva, shul
and home. An unprecedented outpouring of Tefillah.

And then the news came that the counterattack had begun and commandos were
storming the building. How we sat on edge, imaging in our mind's eye the
commandos fighting room to room…through the bullets and the explosions…

And while all this was going on I thought to myself…

"Ribono Shel Olam, look at your amazing people. Hundreds of thousands of
people gripped by fear, davening for people they never knew and from
sections of Klal Yisrael that they don't belong."

Last Thursday it didn't matter if you were Chabad, Bobov or Toldos Avrahom
Yitzchok. OUR brothers were in that house and we reacted instinctively -
with the love of brother.

And so I wonder, my dear brothers and sisters:

Imagine we could always be this way!

…Imagine we walked in the street and gave a smile and a Sholom Aleichem to
every Jew, even if he didn't look like we did.

…Imagine there was a way we could hold onto the incredible Ahavas Yisrael
that was displayed this past Thursday, that showed we are one nation!

Yes, I know. I realize it's not so simple because tragedy has a way of
uniting people – but it's not impossible! Consider this:

If there wasn't Ahavas Yisrael in our hearts in the first place we wouldn't
have reacted so powerfully and instinctively with nonstop Tehillim…We
woudn't have listened to the news 20 times that day!

If we can just shake loose of the yetzer hora that pushes us to be
divided…If we just took a good look in the mirror we would see that under
that tough exterior we are all really Ohevi Yisrael - lovers of Jews.

My Rav spoke about Mumbai yesterday. He quoted an excerpt from the sefer
Amud HaAvodah. This is a quote from the sefer:

"It is a fact that when Yidden in one city hear that tzaddikim in another
city have been tortured and killed by gentile murderers, the Yidden in the
first city are certain to be terribly pained and anguished. Even if they
had never known them. Even if they had never seen them. Their hearts ache
upon hearing of Jews killed with cruelty.



This phenomenon is rooted in the unity of the souls of the Jewish people.
This is indeed a proof to the existence of this unity.

And so now the horrific truth of what happened in India has become revealed
to the world. My brother died in that Chabad house as did yours…

…and the immense Ahavas Yisrael that we Jews have for each other was
revealed - to the world, and more importantly to ourselves!

But we must not let this event slip by like a ship in the night!

Let's each make a kabalah – a personal resolution - that starting right now
we and our family will take something on that shows we care about every
single Jew.

Not just lip service - but a real goal. One that we write down and post in
our house, tell our friends about, and monitor weekly to see how we're
doing.

For instance:

…Maybe we should work on the way we greet tzedakah collectors at our door –
you know, put ourselves in their position of having to knock on a
stranger's door…

How we would we like people to greet us?

…Or maybe to really daven for specific people from our shul for their
childrens shidduchim or livelihood. And certainly to work on not speaking
loshon hora about individuals and certainly not sections of Klal Yisrael.

Hashem thrust the kedoshim who died in India on the stage of Jewish history
for a few days last week. But their impact can last a lifetime i f w e a
c t!

The last few months have seen major calamities befall the world at large.
They are affecting – and could further affect - Klal Yisrael very
profoundly.

Let each Jew as an individual and as a family take on one resolution - a
single kabbalah - of Ahavas Yisrael, so that in these trying times Hashem
will look down at us and see the love we have for each other. The love
that proves we're a family. His family. And with that impetus may Hashem
redeem His children from all the tzoros and bring us, as the one family
that we are, to our home in Yerushalayim.

Let's just do it NOW! Please pass on this letter to as many people as
possible so together we can keep the flame of Ahavas Yisrael burning.

With a sad but hopeful heart,



Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Parshas Toldos - "Bless me FATHER"


Q: Why does the Torah mention that Yitzchak was Eisav's father, (27:39) a fact which is quite obvious from the entire story until this point?

A:
The Ohr HaChayim teaches that Yitzchak had no plans to give Eisav a blessing at this point. However, upon hearing Eisav cry (27:38), Yitzchak's compassion for his son emerged and he decided to bless him. The words HIS FATHER explain why Yitzchak chose to give this blessing to Eisav.

* Courtesy of Rabbi Dov Lipman Shlit"a

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Parshas Vayeira - "Open Door Policy"


After Maariv on Thursday nights I usually meet up with a Lubavitcher friend of mine and we trade divrei Torah. This week he told me a very nice one bisheim the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

He asked, why in Parshas Lech Lecha are Lot's guests referred to as angels, whereas in Parshas Vayeira these same angels are called men?!

The Rebba beautifully answers that in the story involving Lot, the Torah refers to his guests as angels because that was the only reason why Lot invited them into his house, because of their prestige. By Avraham however, he was known for having a tent with four doors. His reputation was that of an ish chesed, therefore regardless of who his visitor was he was without a doubt going to bring them in. Not wanting to diminish Avraham's chesed it refers to his guests as "men" because Avraham would have brought anyone in need into his home.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Parshas Lech Lecha - "Math of the Week"


The Baal Haturim says that the first words in Parshas Lech Lecha are foreshadowing what is to come at the end of the Parsha. At the beginning of this weeks Parsha we are introduced to Avraham and his many fascinating characteristics but he seems to be missing one thing, fatherhood. After years and years of searching and looking for meaning in his life he lacks the one thing that he wants most, a child.

The Baal Haturim tells us that the words Lech lecha in this weeks Parsha hint to Avrahams eventual bracha of becoming a father. If one were to add up the words lech lecha. It would equal 100 which is the age at which Avraham was zoche to have Yitzchak. The problem is however that Yitzchak was Avraham’s second child not the first!? He answers that that too is hinted to in the words “Lech Lecha.” If we count up the nekudos (dots equaling 10 each and lines equaling 6) then they add up to 86, which was Avraham’s age when Yishmael was born.

Parshas Noach - "Bon Apetit"


In this weeks Parsha we learn of Noach’s teiva (ark). Noach takes his progeny with him onto the ark to seek a safe haven for them so they too will not be decimated by the tumultuous flood. Noach did not go on the ark as a measure of panic, but strictly because Hashem told him too.

Rav Weiss from Kfar Roeh writes that, on Shabbos we have a chiyuv to eat three meals. The first meal is on Friday night after a long week we are famished and looking forward to a delicious and warm meal. On Shabbos day as well, after a long Shacharis and Mussaf in Shul we are anxious to get home to fill our stomachs with the fine delicacies that have been prepared. The third meal however, is different from the previous two meals. It occurs shortly after the second meal when our stomachs are full of food. Nevertheless we still eat this meal because Hakadosh Baruch Hu tells us to. Therefore we don’t call this meal Shalosh Seudos to reflect that even though it appears that we ate the first two meals in order to satiate our own palates we infact ate them for the same reason why we ate the third meal, because Hakadosh Baruch Hu asked us to.

Just like Noach who could have used the teiva as a safe haven but instead enters it because Hashem tells us to. We eat our meals on Shabbos not only because we have delicious food but primarily because Hakadosh Baruch asks us to.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Parshas Bereishis


Bereishis 1:1 "Bereishis Bara Elokim Es Hashamayim V'Es HaAretz"

The the Lubavitcher Rebbe, poses the following question:

Why does the Torah start with a "Beis" [Breishis]? Wouldn't it make more sense for it to start with an "Aleph"?

In his introspective and profound manner the Rebba answers that the reason for why the Torah starts with the letter "beis" is because reading the Torah is the second thing that we are supposed to do. The first thing that we are supposed to do is reflect on the year past. We should internalize the Tishrei season that we just experienced and try to carry it with us into the coming year. Only once we have done that, can we restart the Torah by chanting the famous words, "Bereishis Bara Elokim Es Hashamayim V'Es HaAretz"

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Know The Words is Back!

I would like to bring to your attention that after taking a brief hiatus for the summer CR and Knowthewords are back!

For those of you who have not had the opportunity to visit this site before I invite you to read a review that I previously wrote about the site.

CR has decided to dedicate his time in order to educate Klal Yisrael to make their Shiros and Simchos more meaningful and enjoyable.

Kudos CR and I look forward to hearing of your future success.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Parshas Vayeilech - "Grabbing a Helping Hand"


QUICKIE/FUNFACT: The Parsha begins by relating AND MOSHE WENT before speaking to the Jewish people. Where did Moshe go and why?

The Ibn Ezra teaches that Moshe went to each tribe to inform them about his upcoming death. He too this extra step to provide them with the extra level of strength and courage he knew they would need to carry on with Yehoshua as their leader and without Moshe's presence.

*Courtesy of Rabbi Dov Lipman Shlita - http://www.rabbilipman.com/

(Devarim 32:7) "...Ki Atah Tavoh Es HaAm HaZeh... - ...for you shall come with this people..."

The above verse is contextually referring to Moshe's directions to Yehoshua. Soon Moshe is to expire and it will be Yehoshua's responsibility to go with them into Eretz Yisrael. Thus the Torah makes it clear that the role of Yehoshua when he enters into Israel will not be as a leader but as a civilian.

Shortly after in Pasuk 23 however, Hashem tells Yehoshua, "for you shall bring the Bnei Yisrael to the land." This Pasuk seems to be emphasizing that Yehoshua will be responsible for taking Klal Yisrael into the land as a guiding figure.

This begs the obvious question was Yehoshua's job description that of a regular citizen or one of leadership?

Rav Moshe Feinstein answers that it was Yehoshua's job to lead Klal Yisrael into the land of Israel but "one leader must seek advice in every matter from other leaders of the generation, the elders and the Sanhedrin."

Hashem in fact taught us this lesson in (Breishis 1:26) when He says, "Let us make man." Rashi explains that Hashem consulted other celestial beings about the making of man.

Hashem was telling Yehoshua that it is his responsibility to consult others in his legislative doings but as the Gemara in Sanhedrin (8a*) says, only one man can speak with authority in each generation, not two.

Often times we are stuck in situations when important decisions have to be made. Unfortunately we do not hold an objective point of view on the matter which sometimes will draw us to take the wrong steps. Hashem's guidance to Yehoshua was in fact one for the generations. In a time of need it is essential that we grab a helping hand and accept an objective point of view so that we can make the appropriate decisions for our futures.

* Maareh Makom from Mein Bes Hashoeva by Rav Schwab

HAVE A FANTASTIC SHABBOS!

As an aside, I saw in Rabbi Lipman's "Parsha Pointers to Ponder" that the Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh gives a different answer to our question by saying that Hashem was telling Yehoshua that he was simply the human leader and that it was entirely Hashems doing that they would make it into Eretz Yisrael.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Parshas Nitzavim - "The World Was Created For Me"



I was talking to the famous Ben Yeamans today and he brought something very interesting to my attention. He told me that the Sfas Emes says that if this Shabbos is observed correctly it is michaper for all other sins that have been done on previous Shabbosim.

QUICKIE/FUNFACT: Why does the Torah say that we are responsible to listen to all that G-D teaches TODAY? (30:2)

A: The Seforno answers that the word TODAY teaches that throughout all generations we must strive to perform mitzvot with a freshness and excitement as if they were given TODAY and never by rote.

* Courtesy of Rabbi Dov Lipman Shlit"a - www.rabbilipman.com
(Devarim 29:9) "Atem Nitzavim Hayom Kulchem....Rasheichem Shivteichem"

"You are standing today, all of you...the heads of your tribes..."

The literal translation of the words "Rasheichem" and "Shivteichem" is is your heads, your tribes. This seems to be a rather peculiar language when referring to our leaders. Surely there is more graceful terminology of our lay leaders?

Rav Moshe Feinstein Zt"L answers that it is forbidden for any person to denigrate himself by saying that because his talents are so minor, he cannot be a great man or leader; such humility is actually the evil inclination!

Rather, every man must develop the self esteem to realize that he, too, can be a leader of his generation, and so he must learn the Torah in its entirety and in great depth with all of his ability. If man does his part the Hashem will surely finish off mans plan by instating him as one of the greats.

If man chooses to belittle himself and says that he will never be great in Torah or at good deeds then as a slippery slope he will never learn Torah and nothing that he does will ever be suitable.

For this reason the Torah chooses to write, "your heads, your tribes" instead of saying "the heads of your tribes" to show us that everyone must hold themselves in the highest regard and that everyone is capable of leadership.

We must hold dear to ourselves the concept of "Bishvili Nivra HaOlam - The world was created for me" for without it we accomplish very little. We have outlived many of the greatest civilizations in the world. We hold the most Nobel prizes.It is this adage in addition to the help of the Ribbono Shel Olam which has made us, Jews, successful.

HAVE A FANTASTIC SHABBOS!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Parshas Ki Teitzei - "The Endless War"


QUICKIE/FUNFACT: Why does the Torah say the seeming extra word FOR YOU when it describes the soldier taking the yefat toar as a wife? (21:11) Of course if he marries her it will be FOR HIM!

The Kli Yakar explains that this hints to the fact that there are going to be problems with the children which come from such a union and not a marriage from a true relationship. The marriage will be FOR YOU but it won't be beneficial to the children from that marriage.

*Courtesy of R'Dov Lipman (www.RabbiLipman.com)

Devarim 21:10 "Ki Teitzei Lamilchama Al Oivecha, Unisano Hashem Elokecha Biyadecha VShavta Shivyo"

"When you will go out to war against your enemies, and Hashem, your G-d, will delive him into your hand, and you will capture [its people] as captives."

The above verse forces the reader to delve deep and truly ask themselves whether or not the pasuk is true. Fore we know all too well that there have been many instances throughout Jewish History (even dating back to Yehoshua in Ai) when the Jewish people have been entrenched in wars and have still suffered terrible defeats. So how come Hakadosh Baruch Hu is phrasing this pasuk as if it is a given that Klal Yisrael will win all of their battles?

The Baal Haturim answers this question by telling us a message that we have heard many times but as the maxim goes - "it is easier said than done". Yaakov Ben Asher of Toledo Spain tells us that the answer to our success in battle entirely lies in our belief in the Ribbono Shel Olam. If we truly believe that Hashem will deliver our enemies into our hands then we are ensured victory. If not however, we are destined for failure. This can be derived by the juxtaposition of words from last week's Parsha to the words at the beginning of this week's Parsha. Parshas Shoftim ends with the words, "Ki Taaseh HaYashar BiEinei Hashem - For you shall do what is upright in the eyes of Hashem" while Parshas Ki Teitzei starts with the words "Ki Teitzei Lamilchama Al Oivecha -When you will go out to war against your enemies…." This integral juxtaposition is teaching us that the key to success against our enemies lies entirely in fulfilling what is 'upright' in the eyes of Hashem.

Interestingly, the Chofetz Chaim writes that the introductory verse of this week's Parsha is not talking about physical battle but a psychological, philosophical, and physiological battle that occurs between man and the Yetzer Hara. Unlike physical battles which have a beginning point and ending point, the human battle with the Yetzer Hara is never ending. Rav Asher Weiss Shlit"a posits that we must battle the evil inclination with a steadfast conviction and an"earnest struggle" then Hashem will make sure to handle the rest.

As the days of Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur approach us we must stop and think about even the most mundane of decisions. The Yetzer Hara is persistent and will not relent but Hashem promises us that as long as we do our part Hashem will, "deliver them into our hands".

HAVE A FANTASTIC SHABBOS!

* Image courtesy of judaica-art.com

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Parshas Shoftim - "A License To Carry"


QUICKIE/Funfact: Why is the mitzvah of appointing judges and community leaders juxtaposed to the mitzvah of not planting an asheira next to the mizbeach. Rav Meir Shapiro (creator of the Daf Yomi movement) answers that just like the inside of the mizbeach is made out of dirt and the outside is made of copper, our judges should also be humble and wise yet stern and competent on the outside ready for judgement.

"V'Haisa Imo V'Kara Bo"
"It Shall be with him and he shall read it"

When discussing the mitzvos that surround the institution of the Kingship and the King himself the Torah says that the King must have two sifrei Torah. One to carry on himself at all times and one that should be kept in his royal archives. At second glance however one realizes something very interesting with the introductory words of this Pasuk, "V'Haisa Imo V'kara Bo". The work V'Haisa has a feminine connotation while the words V'Kara Bo are male. Why is this so?

The Daas Zikainim answers that the King would carry with him a single sefer Torah which in actuality only had in it the Aseres Hadibros. The entire Aseres Hadibros are composed of 613 letters which is the equivalent of all of the mitzvos in the Torah. Therefore it is called a Sefer Torah even though it is really only "one" Parsha. A single parsha is a feminine word much like the Eretz Yisrael is also nikaiva (feminine). Therefore the beginning of the pasuk is feminine because it is talking about the Torah that the King had on him at all times (10 commandments) while the second half of the pasuk is talking about the Kings (male) responsibility to read the second Torah which he keeps in his royal archives.

HAVE A FANTASTIC SHABBOS!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Parshas Re'eh - "Every Quarter Counts"


QUICKIE/FUNFACT: Why does the Torah teach that IT WILL BE GOOD FOR YOUR CHILDREN specifically with regards to the command not to eat blood? (12:25)

A: The Kli Yakar explains that the reason why the Torah doesn't allow eating blood is because ingesting blood leads one to develop negative character traits. That, in turn, would certainly impact one's children as well. Thus, the Torah relates that refraining from eating blood will BE GOOD FOR YOUR CHILDREN as opposed to the negative results which would result from eating it.

*Courtesy of Rabbi Dov Lipman Shlit"a

(Devarim 15:7 )"If there be a destitute person among you, of one of your brothers in any of your cities, in your land that Hashem, your G-d, gives you, you shall not harden your heart not shall you close your hand against your destitute brother."

From the above verse we learn that the Torah instructs Klal Yisrael to give Tzedaka . Charity is an incredibly important mitzvah (commandment). This also can be seen in Mishlei 21:3, "Doing tzedaka and justice is preferable to HaShem than a sacrifice". In addition the Prophet Isaiah (1:27) says that It is through the mitzvah of tzedaka that the Jews shall be redeemed, as it says, "Zion will be redeemed through justice, and those who return to her through tzedaka". Giving tzedaka however is not just a noble act, giving tzedaka demonstrates a basic principle in Judaism. The statement is that our money and possessions are not truly ours, but are merely given over to us by HaShem to use as He commands us to.

The Alshech says that the above verse contains an additional moral lesson for man, which comes to explain the logic of the mitzvah of Tzedaka. The Pasuk says, "You shall not harden your heart, nor shut your hand from your brother who is poor; rather, you shall surely open your hand to him." The Alshech expounds that whatever we do now, when we die we will have to open our hands. At that time, none of our material riches will go with us. All that will go with us are our good deeds. Why then, the Alshech posits, should we refrain from opening our hands when we have the ability to open them to others who are in more need than we are?

The Alshech seems to strike a nerve when he explains this mitzvah. In our day to day lives, we seem to live through our money and our material positions. Baruch Hashem many of us have been blessed with good fortune but how often do we think about our brothers and sisters who are living off of welfare when we get something excessively expensive? We should teach our children at a young age the importance of putting a quarter in the Tzedaka box. For Chazal say that "a person should grow accustomed to giving tzedaka by giving time after time, and then giving will become second nature with him, and he will not attempt to avoid giving by using various excuses."

May we receive chizuk from these words of Chazal and may our perspective change ever so slightly so we can not only help others but also help ourselves.

HAVE A FANTASTIC SHABBOS!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Parshas Va'eschanan - "Looking In All Directions"


QUICKIE/FUNFACT: (Devarim 5:12-16) "Shamor EsYom HaShabbas Likadsho…Kabeid Es Avicha V'Es Imecha…"

Why are the commandments of honoring ones father and mother and maintaining the sanctity of the Shabbos juxtaposed to one another?

The Baal Haturim in his commentary on the Chumash answers that just as one is supposed to honor his father and mother by dressing them nicely and by feeding them fine delicacies they are also supposed to celebrate the Shabbos by dressing beautifully and eating lavish meals.

(Divarim 3:27) "Aleh Rosh Hapisga V'Sah Enecha Yama V'Tzafona V'Teimana U'Mizracha V'Rieih BiEinecha Ki Lo Taavor Es HaYardein HaZeh"

The above Pasuk requires some explanation. After being told by Hashem that he wasn't going to be able to enter into Eretz Yisrael, Hashem tells Moshe Rabbeinu to go up on the mountain top and to look out to Eretz Yisrael. To the east, north, south and west. It makes perfect sense that Hashem would tell Moshe to look out onto Eretz Yisrael from the east, north and south because that was holy land that he was not going to be able to touch. Why would Hashem tell him to look in the east? The east isn't Eretz Yisrael?!

Rav Shimon Schwab Tz"l answers that it is correct to say that the land in the east is not Eretz Yisrael. It is however a land known as Ever Hayardein, which was later to be occupied by Bnei Reuven and Bnei Gad. A land that after the capturing of Eretz Yisrael contained a degree of Kiddushas Eretz Yisrael.

For this reason Hashem instructs Moshe to look onto the west as his final measure. Only after Bnei Yisrael captured the land in the east, north and south was the land in the west considered holy. Moshe was being told to first look at Eretz Yisrael proper and all of its borders and afterwards to look at Ever HaYarden fore there also there is an element of kiddusha. First comes the complete holiness of Eretz Yisrael and then the partial holiness of Ever Hayarden.

HAVE A FANTASTIC SHABBOS!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Anonymous On The Parsha

לא תגנב

The famous story of Solomon's wisdom in threatening to split a child in half is known far and wide. There is another story of lesser, but similar wisdom that is told of the Maharal of Prague. There was a Pauper in Prague who because of lack of funds was forced to go to Hungary on business. On the journey home he was traveling home by foot and he happened upon a well to do citizen of Prague. The kindly man offered him a ride in his wagon. The pauper was only too happy to accept the offer. The wealthy citizen was transporting Barrels of wine back to Prague and the pauper hid his savings in one of the barrels for safe keeping for the duration of the trip. Upon arrival back to Prague the pauper went to retrieve his earnings and saw it was missing. Sensing foul play he called "The Kind Sir" to the Maharal of Prague for a Din Torah. The Maharal understood the situation and right away came to his decision. He said since the man who owns the barrels says he did not take the money I can only draw one conclusion on the trip one of the Gentile workers opened the Barrel looking for money. Then it would seem that I must rule all the Barrels to be Yayin Nesach, as he most probably went through all the barrels looking for money. Now our "Kind Sir" broke into a sweat, as the mere penance he had stolen from the pauper was hardly worth the thousands of rubles the wine was worth. The Mahral's decisions meant his shipment would be almost worthless. It was at this point the Sir made a wise decision and asked to see the Rabbi in his private study and the kind Rabbi was only to happy to oblige his request. There he admitted to the indiscrepency, but the Mahral told him that all is good and fine but I can not believe you to change my judgment because of the Talmudic law that a person can not incriminate himself.The only way he would accept his repentance and reverse his decision was if he got up publicly in the Shul and admitted in front of all to his heinous crime.

*Talelei Oros


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Parshas Balak - "One Step in the Wrong Direction"


This is the first of a series of catch up posts that I am doing while on vacation with my family. I'm sorry for missing these Parshios. I will Bli Neder try not to make this a habit in the future.

FUNFACT/QUICKIE: “VaYomer Moav El Ziknei Midian Ata Yilachichu HaKehal Es Kol Sivivosav Kilachech HaShor Es Yerek Hasadeh…etc.”

It makes sense to explain why the parable of the ox eating the vegetables is specifically apropos in this case. The reason for this is because it is not the way of an Ox to eat vegetables, they usually just eat grass. The vegetable is in fact unique to the diet of the human. When the ox eats the grass on the edge of the garden he reaches with his long tongue and subsequently eats a few of the vegetables from the side of the field. This is what the Moabite elders said to Midian. They said that after the Israelites beat the Amorite people and after they inherit the lands of Sihon and Og (they were the crux of their inheritance) they will subconsciously destroy all of the nations on their borders. Just like the ox eats the vegetables on the side of the garden.

“VaYiftach Hashem Es Pi HaAson VaTomer LiBilaam Ma Asisi Lach Ki Hikisani Shalosh Rigalim”

Rashi on this Pasuk emphasizes that the pasuk specifically says the terminology shalosh regalim because it is a hint that Bilaam is trying to uproot the nation that celebrates the three rigalim. Nevertheless this still requires further explanation. In what way does this pasuk specifically point to it being that Jewish people who specifically believe in these three holidays?

It seems that the donkey truthfully wanted to explain to Bilaam why he refused to move. It didn’t want to move because it did not want to go even one step against the will of HaKadosh Baruch Hu. It is written in Sota 22a that if there are 2 Synogogues, One close, and one far, it is appropriate that the man walk to the farther house of prayer because there is more of a reward for walking more steps to get there. It must be mentioned at this point that there is no idea like this anywhere else in the Torah. Only by this case when talking about the length between the 2 Synagogues is there discussion concerning excess reward that would be received.

The truth is that the idea of receiving a reward for walking somewhere is not concerning the walk to Synogogue but it is because of the shalosh regalim and the aliyah laregel. The farther that people came to pay homage to the temple the greater the reward. Therefore it is important to mention this by Shuls also because they are considered to be a small Beis HaMikdash.

This is exactly what the donkey was telling Bilaam. He was telling Bilaam, “You want me to walk extra steps to go against Hashem.” In response the donkey responded negatively by refusing to walk even an extra inch to walk against the will of Hashem. He was saying that just like there is a reward for every step there is also a punishment for every negative step taken.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Crocs For Tisha B'Av?


Crocs For Tisha B'Av? - Rav Elyashiv and Rav Shternbuch On Tisha B'Av it is assur to wear leather shoes. Crocs are synthetic and do not contain any leather. However there is a Machlokes between Rashi and the Rambam if wooden shoes that are not wrapped in leather, are assur on Yom Kippur because since you cannot feel the ground they are like shoes even though they don't have leather. The Shulchan Aruch (614:2) paskens like the Rambam who says that it is permissible while the Mishna Brura (5) says we should be Machmir like Rashi.

On one hand, Tisha B'Av is not as stringent as Yom Kippur, which is Min HaTorah, so maybe we need not be machmir. On the other hand, Crocs are worn by millions of people as shoes every day of the year. The Gilyon Halacha U'Maaseh asked the leading poskim their opinion.

Rav Elyashiv said that since Crocs are worn all year round you are not permitted to wear them on Tisha B'Av. Rav Moshe Shternbuch said that while technically you may wear them, on Tisha B'Av it is better not to. Similarly Rav Nissim Karelitz and Rav Meir Brandsdorfer held that it is not assur but Yirei Shamayim should not wear them.

Important Note: We try to convey the Tshuva to the best of our ability. We admit that our understanding may not be accurate. Please also understand that this Tshuva may not be the final word on this topic. One should consult a Rav before drawing any conclusions.
* From Revach.net

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Reb Shmelke of Nikolsburg


(Devarim 1:17)"...Lo Saguru mipnei ish ki hamishpat lelokim..."
"...You shall not tremble before any man for the judgement is G-d's..."

When Reb Shmelke first moved to the town of Nikolsburg to be their Rabbi and Judge he immediately hung a staff and pouch up next to his stand. He said, "I want everyone to know, especially the Parnassim that my judgment will not be swayed by shochad (bribes) or individual relationships."

The staff and pouch were a sign to everyone that the Rabbi would not find immediate favor in their eyes. That he would leave town before judging a friend or confidant favorably without knowing the truth.


* The above image is a picture of Reb Shmelke's 6th generation descendant, Rav Mechel Lebowitz Shlit"a

* Here is a Wikipedia entry on Reb Shmelke: (link)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

R' Enkin on Tisha B'Av ~ Rashash Story


Rabbi Ari Enkin over at Hirhurim has written a beautiful piece on the prohibition of learning Torah on Tisha B'Av. He finishes the post by relating the following story:
The Rashash was once “caught” studying Torah on Tisha B’av by some of his students. Sure enough, the students quickly rebuked the rebbe for studying Torah on the day of mourning, thereby violating the halacha, as well as what he had taught them. The rebbe, not to be outdone, quipped back: “Yes my students, you are correct, Torah study is forbidden on this day and I have violated the law. But let me ask you, how could God possibly punish us for studying His Torah?”

H.T : Onthemainline for the picture

Eleh Hadevarim - AL"H


(Devarim 1:1) "Eleh hadevarim asher diber Moshe el kol Bnei Yisroel..." "These are the words that Moshe spoke to all of Israel"
The words Eleh as is mentioned above means 'these' in English. But what is it in the word eleh that Moshe has to specifically mention to everyone?

The Gemara Bava Metzia 156a says that "many people steal, some enter illicit relationships, but everyone speaks Avak Lashon Hara."

If one were to break up the first word of this weeks Parsha (Eleh) they would be left with three seperate hebrew letters. Aleph. Lamed. Hey. which stand for the words Avak Lashon Hara. Moshe is telling Klal Yisrael that Avak Lashon Hara is something that he has to speak to ALL of Bnei Yisrael about.

Devarim OR Devorim (Bees)


I was just perusing the Internet and while on one of my favorite sites (Revach.net) I found something that was very interesting and true.

The beginning of this weeks Parsha begins with the word Devarim. Rebbi Yehuda HaChassid however reads it differently. He suggests that perhaps the word is really Devorim (Bees). Moshe begins this parsha by bringing multiple admonishments against Bnei Yisroel. What R' Yehuda HaChassid is saying however is that his mussar was like dvash.

(I found it to be most interesting because the gematria of Mussar and Dvash are equal to each other at 306).
ASIDE: Rashi says that Moshe's mussar was in a sense his last will and testament to the Jewish people. When he was admonishing them he purposely neglected to mention the actual sins that they partook in and instead hinted to them by just mentioning the location where they took place.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Goldwasser and Regev = Joseph

My mother sent me the following article that was written by Dr. Erica Brown. I find it to be rather profound and true. This article most definately puts a rather delicate subject into perspective.

Weekly Jewish Wisdom

Seeking Closure

By Dr. Erica Brown

“Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, ‘When God has taken notice of you, you shall carry up my bones from here.’”

Genesis 50:25

This week, all eyes turned to the Middle East as a prisoner swap shook Israel and Lebanon. The remains of two Israeli soldiers abducted in 2006 – Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev (may their memories be for a blessing) – were exchanged for 5 living Lebanese prisoners. The word “swap” communicates an evenness of exchange. Nothing could have been more uneven. There are people on every side of the political spectrum arguing about the controversy of this painful arrangement. Will it stimulate more kidnappings? Was it fair? Was Israel too soft? Too harsh? Too late? Did they hold out long enough?

All of the politics may mask some of the profoundly human questions we ask about death at times like this. We may get lost in debate and lose sight of the respect owed the actual body and the last wishes of those who can no longer communicate them to us. We often wonder, as we contemplate death, where we will go in the fullness of time. Some people take great comfort in buying burial plots simply because it is a small way to control that which is beyond our control. It is a way of envisioning some physical end when we have little understanding of what spiritually lives after us.

The idea of having one’s remains brought back to Israel for burial is as old as the book of Genesis itself. Abraham and Sarah and their children are buried in Israel; they also died in Israel. Jacob, however, bemoans the fact that he is to die in Egypt. He feels himself unworthy of the legacy of his ancestors because he did not live out his days in the Holy Land. Consequently, he makes a request of his sons: “Bury me with my fathers…” and then enters a lengthy description about the burial plot of his father and grandfather.

In a remarkable act, Joseph asks Pharaoh for permission to return to Canaan with his brothers to bury their father with dignity following Jacob’s last wish. The text conveys the formality of the procession; “all the officials of Pharaoh” came with Joseph on this mission. The group stays in Canaan for seven days and returns. This trip is striking on many fronts, not least of which is that they make this journey there and back so quickly; in only one chapter’s time, we begin the book of Exodus that presages the same return. This time, it takes forty years.

In the very same chapter, Joseph approaches his own death and utters with his last breath the request that his remains be carried back to Canaan. He tells his brothers that they will not stay in Egypt forever but will make their way back following a covenantal promise to Abraham. At that time, they are to take Joseph’s bones back to where they truly belong. Joseph understands that this process may take years but that eventually his remains will reside eternally in the land where he could not live in his lifetime.

This wish enables Joseph to die in peace. In the biblical text, both Jacob and Joseph die immediately after assurances that this promise would be kept. The promise is a comfort and a hope. It is a plea for continuity with the land for those who live after them. It is a way of keeping the memory of these individuals alive by having a marker in a place where their memory will stay sacred. It is also a way for each of them to put closure to a life spent in a place not of their own choosing. It is a way to imagine the rest in resting place.

This week, Israel kept an ancient tradition through tears. Putting aside the politics of it all, this enormous sacrifice offered closure to waiting families and friends. It offered Jews around the world the closure of our open prayers. It helps us understand that there really is no price for a life. It offered dignity to death and gave memory a place to live.

Shabbat Shalom

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bais Ovi: Tefila For The Israeli Government in Shul During Davening


A Rav in Amsterdam wrote a letter to Rav Yitzchok Isaac Liebes saying he was concerned that Shuls say a Mi SheBeirach during davening for the Israeli government. Even more worrisome to him was that they use the language "Medinas Yisroel, Reishis Tzemichas Geulaseinu", the State of Israel the beginning of the sprouting of the redemption.

Rav Liebes in Shu"t Bais Ovi (5:69) addresses the issue of davening for the government and the origins of the Minhag. He says that it is a very old minhag in Germany and in all of Europe to bless the King, Queen, and the heir to the throne each Shabbos by davening, whether they are friendly or even antagonistic towards the Jews, because of Sholom Malchus. This Minhag is brought in the Abudraham and some say the even the Machzor Vitri, a Talmid of Rashi. The Mekor for this Minhag is the Mishna in Avos (3:2) where Rebbi Chanina Sgan HaKohanim says to daven for the peace of the kingdom (although Rebbi Chanina never said to daven publicly).

Even when monarchies were replaced by democracies and the tefila became less relevant, there were still communities that continued to say this tefila. Therefore in these places, if they choose to add a tefila for the state of Israel one should not start a tumult over it. As far as the language of Reishis Tzemichas Geulaseinu, he doesn't see it as a Kefira in Bi'as HaMoshiach. He says that the Imrei Emes of Ger said during the 1947 war, "Kach He Geulasam Shel Yisroel, Kim'ah Kim'ah" that is the nature of the Geula, slowly slowly.

Therefore he concludes, do not feel bad and do not make calculations and get involved in politics. He who goes innocently will rest securely.

* As seen on Revach.net

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Parshas Chukas - "Holy Cow"


Systematically this weeks Parsha begins with the laws and parameters that surround the Para Aduma (Red Heifer). It then follows with the death of Miriam and Klal Yisrael's insistence that they receive water. As a result Moshe Rabbeinu hits a rock to draw water instead of speaking to it, which he was commanded and is punished by being forbidden entry to the Land of Israel.

The seminal topic of discussion in the weeks Parsha is the Red Heifer. At the beginning of his commentary of this weeks Parsha the Baal HaTurim offers an explanation for the laws that surround the red heifer. He says that the laws that surround it are a kappara (repentance) for the sins that occurred at Sinai. His proof is that the gematria of Para Aduma is the same as the words "Al Avon HaEgel - on the sin of the calf."

When mentioning the topic of the red heifer one cannot help but recall the famous story involving Dama Ben Nisina:

Dama Ben Nisina was approached by the Chachamim as they wished to purchase (for an exorbitant amount of money) a jewel that was to be used for the Kohein's breastplate. Upon researching the wearabouts of the jewel Dama realized that the key to the vault inwhich the jewel was located was under his fathers pillow. Refusing to wake up his father regardless of the loss that the family would incur, Dama turned away the Rabbis because of the dire respect which he had for his father. Years passed and Dama's family was repayed by Hashem by having their cow give birth to a Red Heifer. The Rabbi's returned and paid Dama's family a tremendous amount of money for the heifer so that it could be used in the temple.

One can't help but ask, why was Dama's family specifically repaid with a Red Heifer Hashem could have repaid Dama by giving him direct exorbitant wealth or by giving him power?

The Chiddushei HaRim answers that after Dama refused to wake his father, angels in heaven started criticizing the Jewish people. They claimed, "why don't the Jews treat their parents like this? Would they incur a tremendous loss to do a mitzvah?" To quite the angels Hashem provided Dama with a Red Heifer. To most, a red heifer is nothing more than an odd looking cow. Nothing more and nothing less. To Jews however a Red Heifer holds much value. So much so that one cannot possibly put a price tag on how much it is worth. Hashem quieted the angels by showing them that the Jews would go out of their way and even pay exorbitant costs for a simple cow. Something that non-Jews would never do!


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Parshas Shlach - "D.N.A of Gossip"


QUICKIE/FUNFACT: Q: Why does the Torah teach us the seemingly irrelevant and meaningless fact that they called the place from where they took the cluster of grapes, NACHAL ESHKOL? (13:24)

A: The Sforno teaches that the Canaanites were the ones who called the place NACHAL ESHKOL when they saw the spies taking the cluster of grapes. They were astonished to see how amazed the spies were to see these large clusters since, in actuality, there were clusters like these all over the land. Thus, this seemingly meaningless occurrence actually teaches us that the land of Israel was filled with these oversized clusters of grapes.

* Courtesy of Rav Dov Lipman Shlit"a

(Bamidbar 13:1) "Vayidaber Hashem El Moshe Leimor, Shlach Licha Anashim V'Yasuru es eretz Kina'an…"

"And Hashem spoke to Moshe saying, send, for yourself, men, and have them scout the land of Cana'an..."

Rashi on the introductory words of this weeks Parsha famously explains that the reason why the story of the miraglim (spies) is juxtaposed to the story of Miriam's tzaaras is to show that these men did not learn from the story of Miriam and that there exists an issur (prohibition) of lashon hara. It seems from this that because they were punished, there must be some sort of a chiddush in the laws of lashon hara that was learned from the story of Miriam that was otherwise not known. The question is however, what was this chiddush?

Rav Shimon Schwab Zt"l points out that It is known by all that the mitzvah of lashon hara is one that exists between man and his friend. And that at the root of this prohibition lays the reason that the negative words that have been spoken about any given subject are bound to hurt them and cause them damage. Therefore if someone were to speak Lashon Hara about a rock or another inanimate object they would not be performing Lashon Hara because there would be no pain experienced by a rock.

The aforementioned was the understanding of the miraglim. They felt that there was no prohibition in speaking negatively about eretz kina'an because it was nothing more than a land or sticks and stones. What they failed to realize however was that they should have learned that this was not allowed from the story of Miriam. Miriam felt that because Moshe was an "Is Anav MiOd – a very humble man" that her words would not affect him. In essence she was talking about a rock. Her mistake was that she was talking about an object of kiddusha (holiness). The chiddush of lashon hara which can be learned from Miriam is that even when you have an inanimate object, if it is infused with holiness it is forbidden to speak negatively about it. The meraglim failed to learn from the story of Miriam and thus miscalculated and assumed that Eretz Kina'an was just a land. They should have realized that the land was infused with holiness and that speaking negatively about it would only bring them sorrow and pain.

HAVE A FANTASTIC SHABBOS!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Parshas Beha'aloscha - "Living it Right"


QUICKIE/FUNFACT: Why does Moshe initially describe the journey of the Jewish people to Israel as a NESI'A (NOS'IM ANACHNU) and then switch to calling it a HALICHA (LECHA ITANU) when imploring Yitro to join them on this journey? (10:29)

A: The Kli Yakar explains that NESI'A connotes a complete break from where one has been with no ongoing connection to the origin of the trip. HALICHA implies that a connection and relationship remains with that original location. The Jewish people were not rooted anywhere and were not going to maintain a connection of any kind with the desert when they settled Israel. Therefore, their journey is called a NESI'A. Yitro, however, would be leaving his homeland and his people. He could not be expected to simply forget Midian and start completely anew in Israel. Thus, his trip would be a HALICHA as captured by Moshe saying LECHA ITANU.

- Courtesy of Rabbi Dov Lipman Shlit"a

In this weeks Parsha, Moshe Rabbeinu approaches (kiviyachol) the Ribbono Shel Olam and admits to him that he can no longer lead Klal Yisrael alone. As a response to Moshe's plea, Hashem tells him to gather 70 wise men (zikainim) in front of the Mishkan and there Hashem will give them all Ruach Hakodesh, so much so that it was similar to that which Moshe Rabbeinu had (I'm not sure because I think the Gemara in Sukka says that its impossible to have as much Ruach Hakodesh as Moshe Rabbeinu – Aspaklaria Hameira…).

Suddently all at once all of the zekainim received a vision from Hashem in front of the tent of meeting. Interestingly however, two people from the nation of Israel who did not attend this gathering also received this vision. Their names were Eldad and Meidad.

Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch points out that being appointed to an important position is not delegated based on a previous stead that may have been held. If a person is deserving of attaining Ruach hakodesh then he will receive it. He does not have to be a Rov or a Rosh Hayeshiva.

Eldad and Meidad were simple Jews who lived lives as true Torah Jews. As a reward they were given the uncomprehensible gift of prophecy.

-Revach.net

HAVE A FANTASTIC SHABBOS!

* Picture from azimioaratheartist.com

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Shavuos - "The Beautiful Flowers"


The Holiday of Shavuos is well known for many things. One of which is its many names. Whether it be known as Zman Matan Torateinu, Yom Habikurrim, Chag HaKatzir, Atzeres or Chag Hashavuos it is ubiquitously known as the time when the Torah was given to the Jewish people.

One of the many customs which are preformed on Shavuos is to decorate ones home and Synogogue with greenery and flowers:

What on earth do greenery and flowers have to do with the giving of the Torah?

The Mishna Brura 494:10 replies that the custom serves to recall Mount Sinai which was surrounded by foliage, as it is written “Even the flock and the cattle may not graze facing that mountain.” The Bnei Yissochor writes that it is customary to “prepare roses and other fragrant plants for Shavuos and also to decorate the Torah scrolls with them.” He quotes the following midrash as a source for this custom:

As time passed a King came to inspect and orchard and found it in ruins, covered with thorns and thistles. As he was about to command his men to chop down and destroy the desolate ruins, the king spotted one beautiful rose among the thorns. The king took the rose and smelled it, as his spirit was restored. He said, “Because of this one rose, the entire orchard will be saved.”

Similarly the world was created only for the sake of Israel. Twenty six generations after creation, Hashem looked down on his world to evaluate what had become of it: He saw that twice people had been destroyed by water and that plenty of other terrible things continuously were occurring in his world. His world was very much deserving of destruction and renewal once again. But then Hashem looked down again and he saw is one rose, Israel, and smelled its fragrance when they willingly accepted the Ten Commandments. His spirit was restored when they proclaimed, “We will do and we will listen.” Hashem declared, “In the merit of this rose, the orchard shall be saved. In the merit of the Torah and those who study it, the world will be saved” (Shir HaShirim Rabba 2:3)

As we look around our homes and communities during this beautiful Shavuos season we can look at the beautiful plants as a symbolism not only of what Har Sinai looked like when we got the Torah like what the Mishna Brura suggests but as a direct correlation to Am Yisrael’s willingness to study and live by Hakodosh Baruch Hus Torah.

- I saw this in Artscroll’s, Shavuos – Its Observances, Laws and Significance

HAVE A CHAG SAMEACH!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Anonymous On The Parsha

Anonymous Anonymous said...

נָשֹׂא אֶת-רֹאשׁ בְּנֵי קְהָת מִתּוֹךְ בְּנֵי לֵוִי לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָם לְבֵית אֲבֹתָם
(במדבר )
There is an amazing occurrence involving this weeks Parsha. Naso is the longest containing 176 Pesukim. The longest Perek in Tehillim has 176 Pesukim, and Baba Basra, the longest Masechta in Shas, has 176 Dafim. What is the significance of this recurring number? Rav Isbeeז"ל answers there are 22 letters of the Aleph-Beis. This number represents Torah. The natural world (Teva) is always in sevens: there are seven days of the week, there are also Shivas Minim, seven continents, seven notes on a musical scale, and last but not least, the seven seas. Accordingly, eight always represents the world beyond nature (L’maaleh Min HaTeva). Now we uncover the secret of the number 176. When you take the Torah (represented by 22) and multiply by L’maaleh Min HaTeva (numerically 8) it equals 176. Through this number, Hashem is showing us that the Torah is above other studies, it is L’maaleh Min HaTeva.

דבר אל בני ישראל ואמרת אלהם איש או אשה כי יפלא לנדר נדר נזיר להזיר לה'
(במדבר ו:ב)
The Torah describes a Nazir as one who separates himself from worldly pleasures, specifically refraining from consuming wine products and haircutting, in order to attain an elevated spiritual level, greater Kedusha. The Gemara in Nedarim, addressing a person seeking spiritual ascension through acceptance of optional fasting, writes כל היושב בתענית נקרא חוטא. It would seem natural for a person climbing the spiritual ladder to take an active role in reaching his goal of spiritual growth, why then, does the Gemara view it so negatively? The Ostrovtze Rebbe provides profound insight into the true intent of the Gemara's statement. The Gemara is not condescending to one who seeks spiritual elevation through abstinence of worldly pleasures. The words are כל היושב literally translated as “one who sits,” meaning he tortures himself needlessly. He is physically refraining from Hashem’s gifts, yet since the message is not absorbed, is considered spiritually inactive, a יושב. Only in such a case is the Gemara critical and stating that he is נקרא חוטא.
שְׁלֹשִׁים וּמֵאָה הַקְּעָרָה הָאַחַת כֶּסֶף וְשִׁבְעִים הַמִּזְרָק הָאֶחָד כֹּל כֶּסֶף הַכֵּלִים אַלְפַּיִם וְאַרְבַּע-מֵאוֹת בְּשֶׁקֶל הַקֹּדֶש כַּפּוֹת זָהָב שְׁתֵּים-עֶשְׂרֵה מְלֵאֹת קְטֹרֶת עֲשָׂרָה עֲשָׂרָה הַכַּף בְּשֶׁקֶל הַקֹּדֶשׁ כָּל-זְהַב הַכַּפּוֹת עֶשְׂרִים וּמֵאָה.
The Torah tells us that each Nasi brought a set of gifts to the Mizbeach. For what reason does the Posuk mention only the Keilim that held the gifts but omit the seemingly more essential contents of these containers? Furthermore, conversely, regarding the ladles full of קְטֹרֶת that the Nessim offered, we find explicit mention of the contents of the ladles! What is the reason for this apparent dichotomy? The answer requires a brief refresher in Hilchos Kodshim. There is a Halacha instructing that anything made hekdesh/consecrated must be offered on the same day. Violation of this edict results in Lina and the expired offerings become Pasul. Accordingly, the Brisker Rav directs our attention to the גמרא שבועת דף יא. stating that the din of Lina does not apply to the consecration of incense. Knowing this, the Nessiim were not hesitant to preload the incense into the ladles. However, as the Nessiim correctly suspected, Hashem dedicated an entire day to the gifts of each Nasi. Had the Nessiim arrived all at once with their gifts prepackaged, all of the offerings except for those of the one Nasi awarded the first day would fall into the category of Lina and consequently become Pasul. With this in mind, they arrived with the containers for their gifts but left the gifts separate. Only when it was their special day for presenting gifts did they add the gifts to the baskets they had prepared prior.

Parshas Naso - "Humility is the Key"


I hope that you all had a great week. My apologies for not getting a Dvar Torah out last week. It was kind of crazy around here and Bli Neder I will try not to make a habit of it. At any rate, this week was one of celebration and Mazel Tovs for our readers! I would personally like to wish a Mazel Tov to Andy and Samantha Van Houter upon their Wedding AND to Dovi Lamet and Ilana Singer, Michael Schertz and Yael Koenigsberg, and Saul Haimoff and Sara Rosengarten upon their engagements.


Here is a little something...


QUICKIE/FUNFACT: This parsha begins with the census of the family of Gershon. Why was the family of Kehat, a younger son, counted before Gershon who was the first born?


The Kli Yakar answers that G-D wanted us to learn that honor is given first and foremost to those who are involved with Torah, even if they are younger. Thus, G-D gave the responsibility of carrying the Aron which represents Torah to Kehat, a younger son, and then counted that younger son before older sons to teach us the honor due to those involved with Torah.


- Courtesy of Rabbi Dov Lipman Shlit"a


Bamidbar 7:12 "Vayihi Hamakriv bayom harishon es korbano Nachshon ben Aminadav L'Mateh Yehuda"


"And it was the one who brought the sacrifice on the first day was Nachshon ben Aminadav from the Tribe of Yehuda"


In the above Pasuk the Torah oddly chooses not to preface the calling of Nachshon ben Aminadav by calling him a Nasi. Why is this? Rav Shimon Schwab suggests that the reason may be because Elisheva, Nachshon's sister was mourning the loss of her sons, Nadav and Avihu. For this reason the Pasuk chooses not to show the greatness of Nachshon ben Aminadav and lists him as a simple person from the tribe of Yehuda. In addition, we can now understand why the pasuk says "V'karbano" in the adjoining area to show us that Nachshon was clearly in pain for his sister's loss and therefore did not feel the simcha in the bringing of his korban.


The Tur writes that the Torah prefaces all of the Nasiim with the name Nasi except of Nachshon ben Aminadav because he was from the tribe of Yehuda. This gesture was symbolic of Nachshon or the entire greater tribe of Yehuda who both now and eternally will be held in high regard by society and that they will have to teach themselves to be humble. For we see in (Shmuel 1 17:14) "David hu hakatan – David he is the smallest." Even though he was the King!


We learn in many places that a humble person is not considered humble because of his actions but because of his inner self. Nachshon ben Aminadav did not see himself as a Nasi, even though he most definitely was. He saw himself as a simple man from Yehuda even though he was realistically one of the most powerful people in Am Yisrael.


HAVE A FANTASTIC SHABBOS!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Last Bear Minyan

Bear Minyan - Hatzlacha vBracha

May 30, 2008

To the Bear Stearns Minyan, one last time:

After two great years at the Bear, and having been observant for about the same amount of time, I have chosen to exit galus and the world of gashmius (at least temporarily) in order to immerse myself in the ruchnius that I hope to find at Ohr Somayach in eretz Yisroel. I had been planning to go learn at some point, and despite having had a potential opportunity to go over to JPMorgan, the events that took place in mid-March made my decision that much clearer. Not only has Hashem provided me with the ability to go learn but he has blessed me with a “scholarship” care of JPM.

The Bear mincha minyan was really my first regular minyan and it provided me with much inspiration. The whole concept was foreign to me. The idea that a few dozen men at a major financial institution would take time out of their busy schedules and express their gratitude to Hashem, in a conference room within the building no less, was a big motivator for me. Moreover, nobody was talking, rarely were there any cell phone interruptions, and some were even able to achieve serious kavanagh. Thank you to everyone who davened for inspiring me with your tefillah.

While I sympathize with those who lost money and jobs, we know that everything happens for a reason and it will all work out for the best. That being said, the collapse of BSC provided a great deal of mussar to all who wish to see it. There are some employees who gave their heart and soul to the company for many years, and some lost thousands or even millions of dollars (Jimmy literally lost a billion!) – they learned the hard way that money is fleeting. Still there are others who were with the company for only a few months who will receive a nice severance package and have already accepted offers elsewhere at higher salaries. There are those, who because of the extraordinary amount of time that they spent at the office, missed out on many milestones (birthdays, weddings, etc.), and lost it all. And there are those who were just in the right place at the right time. And of course there are stories of everything in between. There are no accidents. Hashem is in charge of the world. Sometimes when we are in certain situations it is difficult to have a clear perspective. In the business world it is so easy to get caught up in the day to day and to lose sight of what really matters This experience has truly served to clarify for me the idea that the only “things” that are timeless are the mitzvahs that we do and the tzedakah that we give in olam hazeh. Bear Stearns will soon be a distant memory but hopefully this lesson will remain with us.

There is a famous story of an extraordinarily wealthy man who wrote two wills. When he passed away his children were instructed to immediately open will #1 and then 30 days later to open will #2. Will #1 indicated that the man’s last wish was to be buried in his favorite pair of socks. The chevra kadisha informed the children that this would not be possible. The children pleaded, informing them that their father was a very powerful man who had given a substantial amount of tzedakah throughout his life. They asked, “Do you know who our father is?” Still, the chevra kadisha told the children that it was not halachically permissible. They informed the children that the dead could only be buried in a white kittel. The children sadly buried their father unable to fulfill his final request. After 30 days had passed will #2 was read to the children. “By now children, you have buried me without my socks. I want you to realize that no matter how many millions of dollars you accumulate in your lifetime, you cannot even take your socks with you to the next world.”

There was once a man traveling through Europe in the 1800’s. He came to the town where the Chofetz Chaim had lived. The traveler stopped in to meet the great Talmid Chuchum. When he arrived at the house, he saw that the Chofetz Chaim lived in a tiny home. He knocked on the door and when he looked inside he saw a nearly empty one-bedroom apartment. The traveler asked the Chofetz Chaim, “aren’t you the great Chofetz Chaim? How can you live like this? Where are all of your possessions?” The Chofetz Chaim turned to the traveler and posed the same question. “Where are all of your possessions? All you have with you is a suitcase.” The traveler answered, “Well, I am just passing through,” to which the Chofetz Chaim responded, “I too am just passing through.”

These are old stories but their messages are powerful. It is of course important to make a living and support a family but it is also important to learn Torah b’yom u b’layla, to treat others with respect, to be a Kiddush Hashem and to always act l’shaem shemayim. As I have been inspired by everyone at the minyan, and certainly affected by the events that have transpired at Bear, I hope that you are all inspired by the messages that Hashem sends us on a daily basis and that you continue to strive to achieve a true closeness to the Rabbeinu shel Olam.

Nachum and I had a brief conversation with our CEO, Alan Schwartz, in the elevator on the way to Mincha yesterday. We invited him to daven with us though we conveyed our feelings that maybe our prayers for the well-being of Bear Stearns had not been received in the way that a lot of people had hoped. He had a meeting to attend but he left us with some great mussar. He said something along the lines of ‘don’t worry fellas – your prayers are being answered – we just don’t know how.’ Now I don’t know if he has been meeting with a Rabbi over the past few months or if it was just the power of the pintele Yid but I thought it was a great attitude reflecting on what has no doubt been the most tragic part of his career. Hashem sends us messages all the time and from the most unexpected places.

A big hakores hatov to Andy on behalf of the entire minyan for all his hard work and for being our shaliach mitzvah. By the way, if you have noticed that Andy hasn’t been around as much lately it is because he has been spending his mornings learning in Yeshiva. Yafeh!

Hatzlacha vBracha!

Robert Savit

Vice President

Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Parshas Bichukosai - "If You Reject..."


QUICKIE/FUNFACT: Why does the Torah teach that we will LIVE SECURELY in the land and then repeat AND I WILL PLACE PEACE IN THE LAND in the very next verse? (26:5-6)

A: The Ramban, Ibn Ezra, and Ohr HaChayim all explain that PEACE IN THE LAND refers to peace among Jews. Aside from the blessing of security from our enemies, we will be blessed to be living in peace and harmony with fellow Jews.



(Vayikra 26:3) "Im Bichukosai Teileichu" - "If you abide by my laws"


What is the opposite of the above verse?


(Vayikra 26: 15) "Im Bichukosai Timasu" – "If you reject my laws"


According to the textual content of the above two verses it seems that there is no middle ground. Either you abide by Hashems laws and you are rewarded or you reject his laws and you are punished. Why can't there be a middle ground?


HaGaon Rabbi Eliezer Man Shach, the late Rosh HaYeshiva of Punivitch answers that the answer to the above question is in a sense axiomatic of life.


If one sits and works at learning Torah, then he will eventually have the ability to study and comprehend everything. His belief will be unaffected and all of his actions will be for the sake of Hashem. But if G-d forbid one makes the decision not to learn Hashem's Torah (remaining stagnant in his religious growth), he will start to decline in his belief system. He will slowly but surely end up rejecting the entire Torah and those who learn it, eventually leading to a full hatred of it. Any Torah that he does take in will be without a backdrop of belief and will make him question everything that he learns eventually causing him to throw it all away.


There is no acquisition of Torah knowledge without a sense of fear of Hashem. Even if the emunah and fear is simple it has the potential to be built upon tremendously allowing people to reach tremendous heights.

HAVE A FANTASTIC SHABBOS!

Anonymous On The Parsha


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Parshas Bechukosai
אִם-בְּחֻקֹּתַי תֵּלֵכוּ וְאֶת-מִצְו‍ֹתַי תִּשְׁמְרוּ וַעֲשִׂיתֶם אֹתָם
1) The Mincha Belulah addresses the reason for the word אִם in our posuk. He says the word אִם is an acronym for the great leaders of Klal Yisrael in Golus. It is an acronym for Aharon and Moshe, Mordechai and Esther, and when Moshiach comes speedily in our day it will be Moshiach and Eliyahu Hanavi.
2) What is the significance of תֵּלֵכוּ in our Posuk? The Tiferes Yonason answers in the Torah people are called הולכים and Malachim are called עומדים. This is because Malachim don’t work on themselves so they are standing still and not moving henceעומדים.Then there are people who are always moving growing as people from one level to the next hence הולכים .Therefore the posuk says תֵּלֵכוּ because if you keep moving spiritually then in the next posukim it says וְנָתַתִּי גִשְׁמֵיכֶם בְּעִתָּם you will reap the rewards.
וְנָתַתִּי גִשְׁמֵיכֶם בְּעִתָּם וְנָתְנָה הָאָרֶץ יְבוּלָהּ וְעֵץ הַשָּׂדֶה יִתֵּן פִּרְיו
Why does the Posuk use the word גִשְׁמֵיכֶם your rain?
Rav Moshe Feinstein answers the question based on a famous Medrash. The Medrash says that Alexander went to meet another king in Africa. During the visit a court case came in front of the king. The case was one man bought a field from the other. They found gold on the field. He claimed he only bought the field and taking the gold would be theft. The second party claimed he sold the field and everything on it and taking it now would be theft and he would have no part of it. They now stood in front of the king for judgment. He asked one do you have a son, he answered yes. He then asked the second party do you have a daughter he answered yes. The king then issued his judgment your daughter will marry your son and they will share in your joint wealth. When Alexander heard this he remarked if it was me I would judge very differently. The African king asked him how would you judge? He said I would chop both their heads off and take the money myself. The King replied do you have rain in your kingdom; Alexander replied yes. The king then asked do you have small animals he said yes. The king told him you should know the reason you receive rain is because of your small animals. Now says Reb Moshe we understand our posuk. The king established it is possible to receive rain not in our own merit but on the merit of small animals so our posuk is telling if you learn torah you will get the rain in your own merit.
What is the significance of the word בְּעִתָּם?
1) The Bnei Yissachar answers it is judged on Rosh Hashanah how much rain that person receives that year. The word בְּעִתָּם tells you if you do Aveirous then hashem could send all the rain at once and there would be no Bracha in fact it would be ruinous so the posuk says בְּעִתָּם it will be in a timely matter that the rain will be for Bracha.
2) The last Posuk in Behar ends off you should watch my Shabbos. The Posukim in Bechukosai promise וְנָתַתִּי גִשְׁמֵיכֶם בְּעִתָּם what is the connection? The answer lies in two Gemara's .The Gemara in Shabbos said whoever keeps Shabbos all his Aveirous are forgiven. The Gemara in Taanis says when the rain does not fall all a persons Aveirous are forgiven. Now we understand the correlation of our posukim. If you want the rain to fall on time like the posuk in our Parsha then keep Shabbos and you will be forgiven so you don’t need Hashem to hold back the rain in order to receive your forgiveness. You therefore see the correlation between the last Parsha and ours. ֹ
וְהִשִּׂיג לָכֶם דַּיִשׁ אֶת-בָּצִיר וּבָצִיר יַשִּׂיג אֶת-זָרַע וַאֲכַלְתֶּם לַחְמְכֶם לָשֹׂבַע
Rashi translates this Posuk to mean you will eat a little and be full. The Sefer Taam Vadaas asks why eat a little and be full why not get a lot? The answer today is tremendously clear. The high rates of obesity and Diabetes and other diseases that come with living in a rich society clear show us Rashi had the right idea. The Torah had the great foresight to say it is not a lot of food but being satisfied with a little that is the key.

Delete
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Final Updated Draft
Parshas Bechukosai
אִם-בְּחֻקֹּתַי תֵּלֵכוּ וְאֶת-מִצְו‍ֹתַי תִּשְׁמְרוּ וַעֲשִׂיתֶם אֹתָם
One time someone came to the Chofetz Chaim and complained "Rebbi, I learn and struggle and yet I don’t understand my learning". The Chofetz Chaim answered him look in Parshas Bechukosai in the first Posuk. There it says אִם-בְּחֻקֹּתַי תֵּלֵכוּ and Rashi says on the Posuk שתהיו עמלים בתורה meaning to struggle in the torah so apparently you are reaching your goal!!!
2) The Mincha Belulah addresses the reason for the word אִם in our posuk. He says the word אִם is an acronym for the great leaders of Klal Yisrael in Golus. It is an acronym for Aharon and Moshe, Mordechai and Esther, and when Moshiach comes speedily in our day it will be Moshiach and Eliyahu Hanavi.
3) What is the significance of תֵּלֵכוּ in our Posuk? The Tiferes Yonason answers in the Torah people are called הולכים and Malachim are called עומדים. This is because Malachim don’t work on themselves so they are standing still and not moving henceעומדים.Then there are people who are always moving growing as people from one level to the next hence הולכים .Therefore the posuk says תֵּלֵכוּ because if you keep moving spiritually then in the next posukim it says וְנָתַתִּי גִשְׁמֵיכֶם בְּעִתָּם you will reap the rewards.
4) Rashi says שתהיו עמלים בתורה the Gemara in Brachos says אני עמל ומקבל שכר והם עמלים ואינם מקבלים שכר .This means we work and get שכר they work and don’t get שכר. The question is how can you compare our work is Torah and their work is a job. The answer is we do the same work but just our approaches are different. The Rambam say if you do your work and have in mind you do it for hashem it is as if you did Avodas hashem all day. Therefore we go to work to make work an Avodas Hashem. They go and think how will to get the most money for the least work. Now the עמל is the same we just get the שכר.

וְנָתַתִּי גִשְׁמֵיכֶם בְּעִתָּם וְנָתְנָה הָאָרֶץ יְבוּלָהּ וְעֵץ הַשָּׂדֶה יִתֵּן פִּרְיו

Why does the Posuk use the word גִשְׁמֵיכֶם your rain?
Rav Moshe Feinstein answers the question based on a famous Medrash. The Medrash says that Alexander went to meet another king in Africa. During the visit a court case came in front of the king. The case was one man bought a field from the other. They found gold on the field. He claimed he only bought the field and taking the gold would be theft. The second party claimed he sold the field and everything on it and taking it now would be theft and he would have no part of it. They now stood in front of the king for judgment. He asked one do you have a son, he answered yes. He then asked the second party do you have a daughter he answered yes. The king then issued his judgment your daughter will marry your son and they will share in your joint wealth. When Alexander heard this he remarked if it was me I would judge very differently. The African king asked him how would you judge? He said I would chop both their heads off and take the money myself. The King replied do you have rain in your kingdom; Alexander replied yes. The king then asked do you have small animals he said yes. The king told him you should know the reason you receive rain is because of your small animals. Now says Reb Moshe we understand our posuk. The king established it is possible to receive rain not in our own merit but on the merit of small animals so our posuk is telling if you learn torah you will get the rain in your own merit.
2) What is the significance of the word בְּעִתָּם? The Bnei Yissachar answers it is judged on Rosh Hashanah how much rain that person receives that year. The word בְּעִתָּם tells you if you do Aveirous then hashem could send all the rain at once and there would be no Bracha in fact it would be ruinous so the posuk says בְּעִתָּם it will be in a timely matter that the rain will be for Bracha.
3) The last Posuk in Behar ends off you should watch my Shabbos. The Posukim in Bechukosai promise וְנָתַתִּי גִשְׁמֵיכֶם בְּעִתָּם what is the connection? The answer lies in two Gemara's .The Gemara in Shabbos said whoever keeps Shabbos all his Aveirous are forgiven. The Gemara in Taanis says when the rain does not fall all a persons Aveirous are forgiven. Now we understand the correlation of our posukim. If you want the rain to fall on time like the posuk in our Parsha then keep Shabbos and you will be forgiven so you don’t need Hashem to hold back the rain in order to receive your forgiveness. You therefore see the correlation between the last Parsha and ours. ֹ

וְהִשִּׂיג לָכֶם דַּיִשׁ אֶת-בָּצִיר וּבָצִיר יַשִּׂיג אֶת-זָרַע וַאֲכַלְתֶּם לַחְמְכֶם לָשֹׂבַע

Rashi translates this Posuk to mean you will eat a little and be full. The Sefer Taam Vadaas asks why eat a little and be full why not get a lot? The answer today is tremendously clear. The high rates of obesity and Diabetes and other diseases that come with living in a rich society clear show us Rashi had the right idea. The Torah had the great foresight to say it is not a lot of food but being satisfied with a little that is the key.

וַאֲבַדְתֶּם בַּגּוֹיִם וְאָכְלָה אֶתְכֶם אֶרֶץ אֹיְבֵיכֶם

When arriving in Israel the Yemenite children where taken on a tour of Ponevitch. Much to the dismay of the adults the children started to make fun of the new immigrant children and their Peyos, which they call Simanim. Rav Yitzchok Zilberstein came over to remedy the situation .He told them it said in this week's Parsha it says וַאֲבַדְתֶּם בַּגּוֹיִם you will be lost among the nations. The Medrash on the Posuk says that the Jews are like a lost object. Therefore said Rav Zilberstein you call them Simanim, because a lost object with Simanim in the context of lost objects meaning distinct demarcation are not considered lost as they can always be identified. The children where consoled, and they learnt a Jew with Peyos can not be lost.

לֹא יְבַקֵּר בֵּין-טוֹב לָרַע וְלֹא יְמִירֶנּוּ וְאִם-הָמֵר יְמִירֶנּוּ וְהָיָה-הוּא וּתְמוּרָתוֹ יִהְיֶה-קֹּדֶשׁ לֹא יִגָּאֵל

Reb Moshe Feinstein takes an interesting lesson from this Posuk. At the literal level Rashi explains it to mean that you are not allowed to set it up that the best animal be the tenth animal that comes out of the Pen to make it Masser. Then it says וְלֹא יְמִירֶנּוּ "You should not substitute it". It would seem pretty simple to say if I am not allowed to set up which should come out tenth of course I cant replace it? Rav Moshe says the lesson for us is we may not say בֵּין-טוֹב לָרַע on ourselves. You may not say I can not learn so therefore I will not, but my friend has a good head let him learn. This is the talking of the Yetzer Hara. Therefore the Torah specifies and says וְלֹא יְמִירֶנּוּ you should not replace yourself from learning.

וְאִם-בְּחֻקֹּתַי תִּמְאָסוּ וְאִם אֶת-מִשְׁפָּטַי תִּגְעַל נַפְשְׁכֶם לְבִלְתִּי עֲשׂוֹת אֶת-כָּל-מִצְו‍ֹתַי לְהַפְרְכֶם אֶת-בְּרִיתִי
The Baal Hatanya in Likutie Torah said that the curses in these weeks Parsha are in actuality Brachos. The concept is found in the Gemara in Moed Katan. There the Gemara has a story. Reb Shimon Bar Yochai sent his son to get a Bracha from Reb Yonasan and Reb Yehuda. They told him things that seemed like the worst curses .He came to his father who explained the actual meaning. It was only then that he saw the greatness of the Bracha. The curses follow this prototype. The first example is וְהָלַכְתִּי אַף-אֲנִי עִמָּכֶם בְּקֶרִי hashem tells them and I will go with you in anger. A person in anger is rash and lashes out at the people around them. When the person realizes his mistake he is apologetic and will go out of their way to appease. The curse here is a Bracha Hashem will punish but after there will be an appeasement were we will receive extra Bracha. A second example is וְעֵץ הָאָרֶץ לֹא יִתֵּן פִּרְיוֹ the land wont give fruit .The Milo Haomer points out it wont give fruit but continue to sprout so it will be clear to you that the lack of fruit is a punishment .Then you will realize your shortcomings and do the teshuva that is required. A third and final illustration is the posuk וַאֲבַדְתֶּם בַּגּוֹיִם you will be lost among the gentiles, this is also Bracha .We all know what it is to lose an expensive object. It can be very upsetting and but later when it is found there is a sense of happiness. The same is true of our relationship with Hashem. When we do Teshuva and are no longer lost we cause Hashem great happiness. The overall perspective we should have on the curses is best explained with a moshul. When a child is punished in his mind his father has done the greatest injustice, but a reasonable adult realizes that the opposite is true. The adult knows the punishment is for the child's own good. In this example we are the child to which Hashem gave the curses. We where warned yet we did not listen. Then we complain of the injustice done to us. We must realize that we are the child and really these curses are a Blessing in disguise. A friend of mine Rabbi Pollack pointed out another way this is true. The Christians have a theory called Replacement theory. This means the Jews where the chosen people but Hashem was dissatisfied the Jews and chose Christianity instead. Their proof is study the suffering the Jews throughout time it must be the Jews are no longer in Hashem's good graces. These Posukim illustrate the opposite is true. It is these very actions that prove we where and still are the chosen nation.

אִם-בְּחֻקֹּתַי תֵּלֵכוּ וְאֶת-מִצְו‍ֹתַי תִּשְׁמְרוּ וַעֲשִׂיתֶם אֹתָם
One time someone came to the Chofetz Chaim and complained "Rebbi, I learn and struggle and yet I don’t understand my learning". The Chofetz Chaim answered him look in Parshas Bechukosai in the first Posuk. There it says אִם-בְּחֻקֹּתַי תֵּלֵכוּ and Rashi says on the Posuk שתהיו עמלים בתורה meaning to struggle in the torah so apparently you are reaching your goal!!!

וַאֲבַדְתֶּם בַּגּוֹיִם וְאָכְלָה אֶתְכֶם אֶרֶץ אֹיְבֵיכֶם
When arriving in Israel the Yemenite children where taken on a tour of Ponevitch. Much to the dismay of the adults the children started to make fun of the new immigrant children and there Peyos, which they call Simanim. Rav Yitzchok Zilberstein came over to remedy the situation .He told them it said in this week's Parsha it says וַאֲבַדְתֶּם בַּגּוֹיִם you will be lost among the nations. The Medrash on the Posuk says that the Jews are like a lost object. Therefore said Rav Zilberstein you call them Simanim, because a lost object with Simanim in the context of lost objects meaning distinct demarcation are not considered lost as they can always be identified. The children where consoled, and they learnt a Jew with Peyos can not be lost.

You are Sorely Missed!

You are Sorely Missed!