Parshat Masei 5774: Consequences of Not Possessing the Entirety of Eretz Yisrael

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, News Reports on Tuesday, July 1st, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off







Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Masei is being sponsored by Edo and Atara Lavi and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh and dedicated Lilui Nishmas to the three kidnapped and murdered Yeshiva Bochurim: Yaakov Naftali ben Avraham, Gilad Micha’el ben Ofir and Eyal ben Iris T’shura. To the Lavi family, many thanks for your sponsorhip and continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua. Please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat Masei 5774: Consequences of Not Possessing the Entirety of Eretz Yisrael

by Moshe Burt

Parsha Masei opens by recapping the events of B’nai Yisrael from Yetziyat Mitzrayim (leaving Egypt), through K’riyat Yam Suf (crossing the Reed Sea) as well as their travels in Bamidbar (in the desert) over the 40 years so that the Am Yisrael will recall the trials and, hopefully, actuate the lessons learned. Following this recap, “Hashem spoke to Moshe… by the Jordan, at Yericho” (Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer BaMidbar, Perek 33, posuk 50) telling him to speak to the B’nai Yisrael and tell them;

When you cross the Jordan to the land of Canaan, you shall drive out all of the inhabitants of the Land before you; and you shall destroy all their prostration stones; all of their molten images…. You shall possess the Land as an inheritance by lot to your families…. But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the Land before you, those of them whom you leave shall be pins in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they will harrass you upon the Land in which you dwell. And it shall be that what had meant to do to them, I shall do to you. (Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer BaMidbar, Perek 33, p’sukim 51-56, pages 922-923)

Rabbi Artscroll (page 923) then cites the Rashbam and follows with it’s own commentary;

… If they fail to do so, they will suffer the fate Hashem had intended to impose upon the Canaanites, and be driven out.

Only in the perspective of Hashem’s wisdom can this passage be understood. No human ruler has the right to decree that an entire population is to be… exiled, but Hashem revealed that the Canaanite presence was incompatible with both the Land’s holiness and Israel’s mission on earth. History is the most conclusive proof of this, for the fact was that the Jews could not bring themselves to eliminate all of the Canaanites, with the result that the Jews were drawn to idolatry, debauchery, and were in turn periodically oppressed and finally exiled.

This author recalls a point discussed several years ago at this time by that kiruv legend, Jeff Seidel regarding Parsha Pinchas:

Parshat Pinchas relates a story (Sefer Bamidbar 27:1-12) about the daughters of Tzlafchad, descendants of Yosef (Joseph). These daughters wanted and loved the Land of Israel so much that they wanted a piece of it. As Rav Moshe Feinstein asks, why do they have to have a claim in the land, just because they love it? Wouldn’t entering or living in the land be fulfilling enough?

R’ Moshe thus concludes that if a person truly loves something, they’d want it to be theirs, and no one else’s. This could explain why the daughters wanted to actually own a piece of the land, rather than simply living in it. This logic applies to marriages, as well as the Torah’s preference that every Jew writes their own Torah (or a portion of it). In our terms, it’s not enough to borrow and read Jewish books. We need to love the Torah we read SO much that we feel the need to own it! As this week’s Parsha urges, we should not only seek, read and enjoy words of Torah, but we should OWN those books, and live those words!

Suffice to say, that as this author understands R’Moshe, and as the title of this Parshat HaShevua implies; passionate love of Eretz Yisrael = jealously possessing it as our own, rather than nonchalantly dropping our spent cigarette butts and empty soda cans on it, or merely caring for and craving for one’s narrow personal comfort and sense of “the normal life” of the nations.

If one could express possessing Eretz Yisrael as our own in human terms: if our land were a human being, one could embrace, hung, cling, possess and squeeze hard never letting go. We understand the Land as the physical, tangible manifestation of Hashem’s being and will. So, based on Rav Moshe’s axiom, a Jew possessing his Land, as if embracing it, seems the physical manifestation on earth of the spirituality of Torah, tefillah, chesed and cleaving to Hashem. And therefore, to one who passionately loves the Land, every inch of it is important — he is jealous for every inch of it and willing to fight for all of it, not just that one piece of the Land where he and his live.

Unfortunately, in today’s Jewish State, we have become handcuffed in “political correctness” by a small, numerically insignificant number who merely reside in Israel: the intelligencia, the elitists, the college and university professors, those with the bulk of the consolidated financial wealth, the ministerial engrained bureaucracies, the so-called “justice system” and the politicians; from the prime minister, to his cabinet, to at least 118 corrupt members of Knesset, who have become embedded in, and have consolidated their hold or power over the masses. This numerically distinct, yet seemingly all-powerful minority has managed to brainwash, endoctrinate, coerce and inculcate the masses with the shekar of “Land for peace(sic)”, inter-faith “dialogue”, the “rights” of one’s enemies — either through attempting to erode and eradicate Torah in the land, or through reinforcing an engrained mindset amongst Israel’s masses of “ein ma’alah sot” (there’s nothing we can do).

And so, because we seem not strong enough to possess the Land and to cause the enemy thieves, murderers and temporary “inhabitants” to leave:

“those of them whom you leave shall be pins in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they will harrass you upon the Land in which you dwell.”

How long will this go on? Will our collective weakness bring Hashem to actuate “what… [Hashem] had meant to do to them, [He] shall do to you”?

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brethren Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Matos 5774: Vows and Mishnayot — The Importance of Clarification in Learning

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, News Reports on Monday, June 30th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Matos is being co-sponsored by R’ Ari and Shayna Enkin and Shmuel and Yitti Bisk of Ramat Beit Shemesh in the merit of Am Yisrael. To our co-sponsors, the Enkin and Bisk families, many thanks for your co-sponsorships and for your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.

Please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat Matos 5774: Vows and Mishnayot — The Importance of Clarification in Learning

by Moshe Burt

Parshat Matos opens:

“And Moshe spoke to the heads of the tribes and to the B’nai Yisrael saying: This is the thing which Hashem has commanded. When a man vows a vow unto Hashem, or swears an oath to bind with a bond (upon) his soul, he shall not break his word; according to that proceeded out of his mouth he shall do.” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 30, posukim 1-3)

From there, our Parsha informs us about the specific laws concerning vows, oaths, nedarim.

R’ Zelig Pliskin, in “Growth Through Torah” (page 366) brings a lesson regarding silence from our Parsha citing Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 30, posuk 15:

“If her husband will remain silent for a complete day, then she must fulfill all of her vows or all of the bans which are upon her. He has established them because he remained silent on the day that he heard them.”

R’ Pliskin cites Sforno on this posuk:

Sforno comments: When a person has the ability to protest and remains silent, his silence is similar to verbal consent. When you do not say something to disagree, it is as if you agree with what was said or done.

R’ Pliskin then adds:

Whenever your silence can be understood by others as agreement with what was said, you have an obligation to speak the truth. This way no one will mistakenly think that you agree with what was said…. A person who is not very assertive might find this difficult. But learn from the person who says things that should not be said. If he is able to say something that he shouldn’t, you certainly have a right to say those things which should be said. He is not afraid to say something improper, you should have the courage to speak up out of idealism.

It is this point which would seem to have importance for both Rabbanim and Talmidim regarding the learning of Torah texts, be they Chumash, Tanach, Mishnayot, Gemora, Shulchan Aruch, Mishne Breurer, etc. And, if this author understands correctly, this point may well pertain, for example, to the laws concerning vows, oaths, nedarim as applied to Mishnayot Terumah Perek 4, Mishnayot 3 and 4.

The above citing of S’forno by Rav Pliskin bears repeating here, with emphasis:

When a person has the ability to protest and remains silent, his silence is similar to verbal consent. When you do not say something to disagree, it is as if you agree with what was said or done.

This author ponders; doesn’t a land owner’s Terumah to the Kohen, i.e. 1/30th, 1/40th, 1/50th, 1/60th of his crop, take on the strength of a vow or nedar, just as when one speaks out a vow, oath or nedar?

Mishnayot Terumah Perek 4, Mishnayot 3 and 4 basically indicate that, if such landlowner who has normally given say 1/30th and, in this year his agent goofs, or there’s a lack of communication, or the owner employs a new agent, or the owner was encumbered with a multitude of difficulties (personal,busness, etc.) and did not properly communicate intent with his agent such that the agent designated 1/50th or 1/60th as Terumah — that even the owner’s designation, by way of the agent, of the 1/50th or 1/60th constitutes valid Terumah.

This author’s point, and where there is disagreement with the way Mishnayot is taught, is that Mishnayot can’t be taught in a vacuum in places where intent is involved. As this author understands, a vow or nedar constitutes Intent – kavanah, which seems to be Judaism 101.

For if we delve deeper, beyond Mishnayot, we see that note #20 of Gemora Bava Metzia 22a-2 thru 22-a3 (Artscroll, Shottenstein edition, Gemora) further clarifies Mishnayot Terumah Perek 4, Mishnayot 3 and 4. Footnote 20 states:

When a person separates Terumah, his act is only valid if he is aware of what he is doing. Thus, it may be derived from the scriptual source… that the agent’s acts are valid only if the principal is aware of what he [the agent] is doing having appointed him beforehand. (Rashi)

That would seem to indicate that where the actual alottment of Terumah is not in keeping with the land owner’s kavanah — intent, but still within what constitutes a valid Terumah according to Mishna, that the Terumah could be withdrawn and resubmitted in accordance with the owner’s true intent.

Sefer Shem Mishmuel, by Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, the Sochaczever Rebbe and translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski (Pasha Matos, page 364) adds this profound statement:

Through a mere declaration, a Jew may dedicate an item to the Beit HaMikdash or prohibit its use for himself or others. Violation of this vow is considered a grave offense…. The power of speech is sufficient to alter the nature of an object entirely, changing it from something ordinary into a mitzvah item.

It would seem to this author that in areas of Mishnayot where questions arise demanding clarification, that it is insufficient to simply accept the words of Mishnayot alone, as being “the way it is.” One teaching Mishnayot, no matter what the time schedule for completion (i.e. “learn all of Mishnayot in two years”), needs to refer to pertinent Gemoras, or other sources, in order for him and his talmidim to do proper justice to the Mishnah being learned, or at least indicate to those learning Mishayot, that there are sources, i.e. Gemora, etc. which come to further clarify in situations where simply learning Mishnayot could contradict or mislead regarding issues, suchas those of intent. For, in this case, by its very designation, the alottment for Terumah is elevated from the ordinary to Kedusha. Thus, the importance of specificity and clarification where questions arise cannot, and ought not to be understated, dismissed or the student ridiculed for asking.

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brethren Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Pinchas 5774: The Impact and Magnitude of the Sin Compelling Pinchas’ Zealousness — Then and Now

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, News Reports on Tuesday, June 24th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Pinchas is being sponsored by Matis and Marla Sklar of Ramat Beit Shemesh in honor of their children, that they continue to grow in Torah and Mitzvot and have much Bracha V”Hatslocha. To the Sklar family, many thanks for your sponsorhip and continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua. Please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
*********************************

Parsha Pinchas 5774: The Impact and Magnitude of the Sin Compelling Pinchas’ Zealousness — Then and Now

by Moshe Burt

We learned near the end of Parsha Balak that Bila’am’s scheme to seduce Jewish men to avodah zora by way of immorality (co-habitation) resulted in a plague which killed 24,000 Jewish men until Pinchas’ act of impaling the prominent co-habitors brought the plague to a halt. However, Bamidbar, Perek 25, posuk 4 and 5 read;

“And Hashem, said to Moshe: Take all of the chiefs of the people, and hang them up unto the Hashem in the face of the sun, that (there) may turn away the fierce anger of Hashem from Israel. And Moshe said unto the judges of Israel: Slay you every one his men that have joined themselves unto the Ba’al Peor.”

A few years ago, Rabbi Chaim Zev Malinowitz spoke out in a Shabbos Drosh what was, for this author, a Chidush (a new thought or idea) which shed some new light on the significance and magnitude of the Jews’ chet (sin) of the Ba’al Peor and Pinchas’ act of slaying Zimri and Kozbi as they co-habited.

Rav Malinowitz asked how it could be that the B’nai Yisrael, through 200 plus years in Mitzriyim and throughout their forty years of wandering in Bamidbar, maintained a derech which precluded illicit co-habitation, and yet have gone so fundamentally wrong in immoral co-habitation with Moabite women on the eve of entry into Eretz Yisrael? He brought a Medrash Rabbah indicating that Hashem brought a stream of water from Sodom to Shittim where the B’nai Yisrael were encamped and suggested that the ingesting the water apparently brought about a test of B’nai Yisrael which many failed.

Rav Malinowitz cites Rashi on Perek 25, posuk 4 and 5, particularly posuk 5:

Rashi on posuk 4:

Take all of the chiefs of the people — that they shall judge the worshippers of Peor and hang them up — the worshippers…

Rashi on posuk 5:

Slay you everyone his men — Everyone of the judges of Israel killed 2 (offenders); and the judges of Israel numbered eighty-eight thousand, as it is stated in Sanhedrin (folio 38).

If we do the math, if 88,000 judges each hung and killed 2 sinners, that’s 176,000 of the Am Yisrael who died by hanging. Now add to that the 24,000 who died in the plague and we see that the Chet of the Ba’al Peor took the lives of fully 1/3 of B’nai Yisrael before Pinchas’ impalement of Zimri and Kozbi as they co-habited brought an end to the death.

Rav Malinowitz also added, citing sections of Tanach, that, for example, Yehoshua noted decades after the Jews entered Eretz Yisrael that the B’nai Ysrael are still suffering for the sin of the Ba’al Peor and that full tikkun (rectification) for the chet will only come in times of Moshiach. He indicates that Hashem did an abundant favor for B’nai Yisrael in permitting them to enter Eretz Yisrael in wake of the chet.

This author reasons further that, just as only 20% of B’nai Yisrael were up to the test of taking the Korban Pesach, slaughtering it and applying the da’am to their doorposts, so too 1/3 of the new generation in Bamidbar failed a crucial test just before entry into Eretz Ysrael.

And so, we can begin to fathom the B’nai Yisrael’s sin and the circumstances which compelled Pinchas’ actions in service and defense of Hashem and in saving Am Yisrael.

Further testimony regarding the magnitude of B’nai Yisrael’s sin is found in “Studies in the Weekly Parsha, by Yehuda Nachshoni” in a citing by R’ Rafael Katzenellenbogen who refers to comments by R’ Sonnenfeld who noted that Zimri’s distorted sense of “acting for the sake of Shemayim” evolved from;

“…a novel, misleading ideology, that evil must be tolerated by incorporating it into the Camp of Israel, to dissuade the lustful man from finding himself in the camp of idolaters.” (Studies in the Weekly Parsha, by Yehuda Nachshoni, Parsha Balak, page 1115.)

The phenomenon of Jewish self-degradation, throughout history, is one of the great mysteries of life.

Continuing discussion of last week’s Parsha Balak, even though perhaps falling short of the magnitude of Zimri’s aveirah with Kozbi, at what point is the extent of one’s sin outside of the pale? At what point is this sinner, whose deeds are outside the pale, chayev cheirem (deserving of spiritual separation) from the Kehal in this world and forfeiture of even the most fundamental merit in Olam Haba — in Shemayim — in the next world? At what point does such a sinner not even merit the neshama of a “toe-nail”?

And yet we learn from Midrashim on Parsha Pinchas that there was much dispute in The Camp as to Pinchas’ action in slaying Zimri and Kozbi. There were those who wanted Pinchas killed for killing another Jew; quoted by Rabbi Artscroll (Stone Chumash page 876, Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 25, posuk 11):

“This grandson of someone who fattened calves to be sacrificed to idols” had the gall to kill a prince in Israel! [Pinchas’ father was married to a daughter of Yitro, a former Midianite Priest, who was called Putiel…]

While Pinchas’s zealousness was a manifestation of”L’Shem Shemayim, Rav Zelig Pliskin, in his Sefer “Growth Through Torah” (page 358) notes:

There are many instances in life in which the correct thing to do is not always the most popular…. But a person whose focus is on doing the will of the Almighty will not be deterred even if others will insult him for his behavior.

Rav Pliskin also cites Rabbi Naftoli Tzvi Berlin (the Netziv) who commented (“Growth Through Torah”, page 359), and then comments:

“Pinchas did a zealous act that could cause someone to be aggressive even when it would not be appropriate. Therefore, The Almighty blessed him with a covenant of peace. In all other areas of his life he should be a man of peace.” (Haamek Dovor)

Our usual state should be one of peace. There are times when it is proper and necessary to be aggressive…. We become molded by our behavior. If we keep acting in a certain way it becomes part of our usual personality. To prevent this from happening…, someone who has to be aggressive on occasion should go out of his way to be extremely kind and compassionate in other instances.

Shem Mishmuel (Shem Mishmuel, English by Rabbi Zvi Belovsky, pages 361-362) notes that while a “sin for the sake of Heaven” could theoretically have a place within Jewish life, it is unworkable if attempted in practice:

An action must be absolutely free of any self-interest or motive other than serving Hashem and realizing His aims. Without this condition, the act is a sin like any other.

Shem Mishmuel then cites a Chazal (Vayikra Rabbah 14:5):

It is impossible for even the exceptionally pious not to have sin as at least a fraction of their motive.

In short, it would seem that in order to have been able to act as Pinchas did, he would have had to be perfectly righteous, to be “absolutely free of any self-interest or motive other than serving Hashem and realizing His aims.”

Shem Mishmuel also notes that commentators render Pinchas as a gilgul of Kayin, but continues that Pinchas took Kayin’s aggressive, self-centered, jealous traits which resulted in his killing of Hevel, and elevated them to a level of acting only L’Shem Shemayim.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe noted in regard to Pinchas’ action (Studies in the Weekly Parsha, by Yehuda Nachshoni, Parshat Balak, page 1113);

“He impailed the woman through the belly”; “He aimed his spear between their male and female members, proving that he did not kill them in vain.” Why would we think that he had killed them in vain? Rather, the Torah here alludes to the law that a zealot has free reign only while the act is in progress.

And R’ Shimshon Raphael Hirsch Z”l (the new Hirsch Chumash published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Daniel Haberman) has a lot to say about the magnitude of the sin compelling Pinchas’ zealous action. R’ Hirsch provides translation of a few of the last posukim of Parsha Balak (Perek 25, posuk 6, page 524 and posukim 14 and 15, page 530) and commentaries:

“…A man from among B’nai Yisrael… brought the Midianite woman…” (posuk 6)

“The name of the slain man of Israel, who was slain with the Midianite woman was Zimri son of Salu, a prince of… the tribe of Shimon.” (posuk 14)

“The name of the slain Midianite woman [was] Kozbi, daughter of Tzur; he was the head of the peoples… in Midian.” (posuk 15)

From [subsequent] verse 14 we learn he [who committed the sin] was one of the tribal princes. Nevertheless, here he is described simply as “a man from among the Children of Israel”, …apparently in order to consider his act solely [that]… of a “Jewish man.” The fact that he was a prince and should… have served as a model of moral purity certainly added to the seriousness of the crime. And Pinchas’ act appears all the more exalted considering that the person from whom exacted Torah’s vengeance was above him in rank. Hence it is fitting that the Torah in verses 14 and 15 informs… of the ranks of both the man and the woman. Nevertheless, the seriousness of the crime… does not depend on the fact that the person who committed it was a prince. What makes the crime so reprehensible is that it was committed by a “Jewish man.”

A man of B’nai Yisrael had, with the Midianit flouted Hashem, His Torah and Israel. Therefore he became liable to punishment at the hands of a zealot… moved by zeal for Hashem, …Torah, and for Israel…

Rav Hirsch then writes on the merit of Pinchas’ act for which Hashem conveyed upon him the Kehunah (Perek 25, posuk 13, page 529):

…Just as the tribe of Levi attained the rank… by it’s actions at the sin of the golden calf and then was expressly chosen for this office, the same happened here: In his act of rescue, Pinchas acted as a Kohen…; he carried out in actual practice the atoning devotion which the avodah of the Kohen performs symbolically in the Sanctuary [Mishkan, Beit Hamikdash]. That is why he was elevated the rank of Kohen [everlasting Priesthood] after his act.

Thus Hashem conveyed the Kahuna, and eternal life upon Pinchas in vindication regarding the vicious, false accusations against him and in recognition of the justness and Kiddush Hashem of his action. We can only hope that Hashem rewards those few and brave voices who speak out about Our Divine Right to Har Habayit and to all of Our Land — Eretz Yisrael. May those voices become our governmental leaders!

Are we of our generation — with our indifference, self-centeredness, short attention spans, our callousness, insensitivity and sectorial disdain for our brethren and our collective proclivity for exhibiting Jewish self-degradation before the gentile nations — any more righteous than the 1/3rd of the new generation of Bamidbar who died for the illicit nature of the avodah zora Ba’al Pe’or? Or of a later generation where the 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva died because they showed each other insufficient respect?

How can we tolerate Israel’s police caring more about beating Jewish heads, expelling their fellow Jews from Gush Katif, bulldozing Federman’s Farm and the properties of other Jews on Jewish land, rousting and arresting pregnant Jewish women and infants at 1 AM in the morning, than they care about saving Jewish lives?. In the recent case of the three missing Yeshiva boys, the police claimed that their hotline, inexcusably manned by seemingly inexperienced sherut leumi (national service) personnel, dismissed a hotline call made by one of the boys as “fraud”, “phony” and took six hours before informing the IDF, Gov’t of the three missing boys, now found murdered on 30 June, 2014.

That even some Jews, as well as governmental leadership, could be capable of treating their fellow Jews with such disdainful deaf-ear, blind-eye, nonchalance, lip-service, prejudice or worse seems, at least, every bit as contemptible as Zimri’s illicit co-habitation with Kozbi in the Camp by way of the avodah zora Ba’al Pe’or.

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brethren Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Balak 5774: Hashem’s Sensitivity for Bila’am’s Dignity; Paradigm for How We Should Treat Various Sectors of Am Yisrael?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, News Reports on Tuesday, June 17th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua is being sponsored by Mutti & Michelle Frankel and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh in honor of the birthday of their son Eliyahu ben Baruch Mordechai, their Chayal. The Frankels are very proud of Eliyahu and wish him a Happy Birthday. To the Frankel family, many thanks for your sponsorship, support and for your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a
Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.

Please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat Balak 5774: Hashem’s Sensitivity for Bila’am’s Dignity; Paradigm for How We Should Treat Various Sectors of Am Yisrael?

by Moshe Burt

As in previous years, we’ll begin discussing our Parsha Balak on the lighter side. It might seem that Bila’am’s actions toward his donkey, enroute to meet Balak, and the resultant historical she-donkey’s dialogue and rebuke of him might have been the inspiration behind a famous long-running American comedy series. It was back in the days when American TV was still clean, slapstick and somewhat pure. You know the one:

Hello, I’m Mr. Ed!

A horse is a horse, of course, of course,
and nobody talks to a horse of course,
that is of course unless the horse is the famous Mr. Ed..

In previous divrei Torah, this author cited a vort by Shem Mishmuel (translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski) pages 347-351 which discussed the significance of the unusual loshen spoken by the donkey in Torah “‘ ‘What have I done to you, that you hit me these three times.” (Bamidbar Perek 22, posuk 28)

Shem Mishmuel (translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski), pages 347-351 comments:

“Hashem opened the mouth of the donkey, and it said to Bila’am, ‘What have I done to you, that you hit me these three times.’”

The word usually employed by the Torah for “times” is pe’amim, but in this verse, an unusual form, regalim, usually denoting “festivals” is used. Rashi quoting Chazal notes:

These three times — It is a hint that he [Bila'am] wanted to uproot the Jewish nation, who celebrate three pilgram festivals each year.

Shem Mishmuel then cites Arizal who suggests that it was not Bila’am’s intention to destroy the entire nation, but to eradicate Jewish observance of the mitzvot of the three festivals: Pesach, Shavuot and Succot.

He then cites The Maharal who pointed out that each of the three festivals signified combatting one of the three cardinal transgressions: idolatry (Pesach), sexual immorality (Shavuot) and Succot which equated with murder (which relates to jealousy and an evil eye).

Shem Mishmuel then summarizes Maharal this way:

It is clear that the character development engendered by the correct celebration of the three festivals represents the complete opposite and negation of the personality of the wicked Bila’am. It is small wonder then that he tried to eliminate the observance of this mitzvah, more than any other, from the Jewish people.

Also discussed were Bila’am’s seven abortive attempts to curse Klal Yisrael where he was compelled to bless them instead, and his parting suggestion, subsequently utilized by Balak, to use the Midianite/Moabite women in a bazaar to entice and seduce Jewish men to idol worship. Only Pinchas’ zealous act of slaying Zimri and Kosbi, with one stroke of his spear, put an end to the Divine plague which took the lives of 24,000 Jewish men who participated in the “bazaar.”

But this time we will discuss Bila’am’s lust for his own honor and dignity and its lessons for today.

We learn that enroute to meet Balak, Bila’am’s donkey stopped three times when faced with obstacles — a moloch (angel) blocking the way, bearing a sword and not visible to the human eye. One of those times, as the story goes, the donkey accidently slammed Bila’am’s leg into a large boulder in a narrow pass. Each time the donkey stopped due to the unseen obstacle, Bila’am struck the hapless donkey to force it to continue on the way.

Torah does not tell of the subsequent fate of the donkey after the moloch rebuked Bila’am in words spoken through the donkey’s mouth. Rabbi Henach Leibowitz, in his sefer “Majesty of Man” (page 244) cites Rashi on Bila’am’s striking his donkey:

Rashi tells us that the donkey died immediately after the episode. Hashem felt that it would be too great a blow to the dignity of Bila’am for the donkey to remain alive, since people would point to it and say, “There is the donkey that silenced the great prophet Bila’am.

R’ Leibowitz goes on to explain:

Hashem is teaching us by example how careful we have to be of each other’s honor. Even the most evil person, one who wanted to curse and thereby destroy Hashem’s Chosen People deserved to have his dignity preserved…. We have to bend over backwards to give everyone, our friends and our enemies, the respect they deserve.

But R’ Zelig Pliskin, in “Growth Through Torah” on our Parsha (page 334) explains:

…What does Bila’am focus on? Only one thing: his honor. He seems totally unaware of how unusual the talking of the donkey is and thinks only about how the donkey has slighted his honor…. Every honor-seeker has aspects of this in him. Because of the negativity of this trait one must do all one can to overcome it. The Chofetz Chayim used to say that true honor is when one seeks wisdom. Gaining more wisdom is honorable in itself and when one seeks it one will free oneself from seeking superficial signs of honor which are only illusionary.

So it seems that dignity and honor represent a double-edged sword. One the one hand, showing sensitivity for the dignity and honor of a fellow Jew and between groups and sectors of our fellow Jews is surely an ideal, a halachic standard to strive for. Sadly, we collectively seem far from achieving this ideal, particularly in inter-relationships amongst the various groups and sectors. On the other hand, there seems something bothersome in R’ Leibowitz’s explanation — the part about enemies:

We have to bend over backwards to give… our enemies, the respect they deserve.

So does that mean that we, Am Yisrael must bend over backwards to extend dignity and honor to an enemy nation who, disdains, mocks and defecates upon our dignity and honor, and that we must do so even at the risk of more Jewish blood and lives? We all know who and what is being referred to here. And what about those within us who were/are totally oblivious to the dignity and honor of their fellows such as by their business-as-usual, take care of themselves first attitude at the expense of expulsion of their fellow Jews from parts of Our Eretz Yisrael?

And what of the unmitigated chutzpah of a rationale for this attitude which in essence says: “They were warned not to set down roots there. They got what they deserved.” Can anyone tell this author that business-as-usual and the above rationale represent dignity, honor and respect for one’s fellow Jews? Not! How can anyone or group dare deign to express that they know the Divine whys and wherefores of the expulsion? Isn’t it fundamental Judaism 101 that sensitivity for the dignity and honor of other Jews and other sectors of Am Yisrael, of other sectors of religious Jews goes hand-in-hand with another fundamental: V’Ahavta L’rei’echa Komocha [acting with love and honesty] toward our fellow Jews? Weren’t R’ Akiva’s 24,000 talmidim taken because inwardly, covertly they didn’t have kavod (respect) for their fellows? So much more so it would seem that overt indignities and disrespect for one’s fellow Jews, individually or by group or sector runs contrary to V’Ahavta L’rei’echa Komocha. Shouldn’t we give thought to what the Chofetz Chayim would say?

Seems we have a lot of work to do. For sensitivity to the dignity and honor of other Jews, both individually — one-to-one, as well as collectively as Am Yisrael seems a key to the unity which will bring us our Ge’ula Shlaima.

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brethren Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Chukas 5774: The Parah Adumah, Chukim and Jewish History

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, News Reports on Tuesday, June 17th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Chukas is being sponsored by Jonathan & Debbie Sassen and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh in dedication for a refuah shlaima for Moshe ben Devah. To the Sassen family, many thanks for your sponsorhip and continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring (or as the case may be, co-sponsoring) a Parshat HaShevua. Please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat Chukas 5774: The Parah Adumah, Chukim and Jewish History

by Moshe Burt

Rabbi Moshe Weissman, in his sefer, “The Midrash Says,” writes regarding Parsha Chukas (Sefer Bamidbar, pages 245-247):

There are numerous examples of chukim…. Since they contain apparently contradictory elements, they are liable to be ridiculed by a rational thinker. The Torah advises the Jew to tell himself, It’s a chok; I have no right to question it.”

Nevertheless, chukim are not “laws without reasons”; rather their logic is Divine. The greatest among our people were able to understand some of them.

Thus the rationale behind the laws of the parah adumah were Divinely revealed to Moshe.

On the other hand, King Shlomo, who researched the reasons behind the mitzvot and found explanations for all of the others, professed that this mitzvah was incomprehensible.

Shlomo…. confessed, “I thought I would get wisdom, but it (the mitzvah of parah adumah) is far from me. (Koheles 7:23)

To appreciate his words fully…:

“And Hashem gave Shlomo very much wisdom and understanding and breadth of knowledge like the sand that is on the sea shore.” (1 Melachim 5:9)

Rabbanim and commentators, throughout the generations, have indicated that at their deepest levels, all of Halacha could be viewed as Chukim which we humans don’t fully understand at their most Divine levels. Halachot regarding the Parah Adumah (the Red Heffer) and it’s purification qualities, Bassar V’Chalav (separation between meat and milk), tumah and taharah (impure or contaminated and pure), and Shatnes (not to wear fabrics with a mix of wool and linen) are a few of the Halachot for which we don’t possess a deeper understanding and rationale. We are told that at a human level of understanding, the Chukim represent a distinction between spiritual and the mundane, Holiness vs profane. We learn that Chukim are to be accepted as expressions of faith, even though we may not understand, or possess a full understanding of them.

The Artscroll, “Stone Chumash”, in its commentary at the beginning of our Parsha (Perek 19, page 838) explains:

It is axiomatic… that since all of the laws of Torah are the products of Hashem’s intelligence, any human inability to comprehend them indicates the limitation of the student, not the Teacher. As the Sages expressed it, there is nothing meaningless or purposeless in the Torah, and if it seems so, it is only a product of our own deficiency. (Rambam)

The placement in Torah of the Parah Adumah, and its qualities of purification from tumah, in our Parsha Chukas raises questions as to why it and it’s Halachot are mentioned here in our Parsha; only after the Affair of the Spies, Korach’s rebellion and after the continued murmuring of the Am against Moshe Rabbeinu, after the plague which killed thousands only ending with Aaron’s carrying an incense pan amongst the people (upon Moshe’s instruction), and after the story of the rods.

“Rabbi Artscroll” presents one answer to the “why” of Torah’s placement of the Parah Adumah with a brief commentary in The Stone Chumash ( Artscroll, “Stone Chumash”, Parsha Chukat, Perek 19, posuk 1, page 839) on the words at the beginning of our Parsha:

“…el Moshe, v’el Aaron…” “Hashem spoke to Moshe and to Aaron saying: ‘This is a decree of the Torah, which Hashem has commanded, saying:speak to the B’nai Yisrael, and they shall take to you a completely red cow, which is without blemish, and upon which a yoke has not come.’”

The answer speaks of the symbolism of the Parah Adumah (the Red Heiffer) coming to atone for the sin of the Eigel Zahav (the Golden Calf) “… as if to say let the Mother come and clean up the mess left by her child…”

The Artscroll, “Stone Chumash”, in its commentary at the beginning of our Parsha (Perek 19, page 838) notes:

.The Torah states that it [the Parah Adumah] is a decree of the One Who gave the Torah, and it is not for anyone to question it. (Rashi)

Back in Philadelphia, in the “Old Country”, Rav Moshe Ungar would render a similar explanation to the Stone Chumash: that the phenomenon of the Parah Adumah as a Tikkun given B’nai Yisrael after the Eigel Zahav was to be an eternal rectification of the tumah, the defilement of the Eigel Zahav. In other words, the Tikkun only later revealed in Parsha Chukat, tells us that, like a doctor treating an ill patient, that the remedy for illness generally precedes the illness itself; that the means of rectification of a Chet precedes the Chet itself.

We have seen the adage play out throughout our history of the remedy for illness preceding the illness itself; that the means, or potential, for rectification or salvation of B’nai Yisrael precedes the Chet or danger itself, as with Esther HaMalka in place, and Mordechai’s foiling of the poison plot against the king written in the annals prior to Haman’s evil plot against the Jews. The existant remedies brought about Haman’s downfall and hanging and the salvation of B’nai Yisrael.

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brethren Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Korach 5774: Lessons for Today from Korach and the Southern Side of B’nai Yisrael’s Encampment

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, News Reports on Tuesday, June 17th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Korach is being co-sponsored anonymously L’ilui Nishmas for the Yahrtzeit of Aharon ben Yosef z”l as well as by R’ Barak and Sarah Schecter L’ilui Nishmas for Barak’s grandfather, Yosef ben Yisrael David z”l who was niftar 2 months ago. To our anonymous co-sponsor and to the Schecter family, many thanks for your co-sponsorships and for your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a
Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.

Please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
*****************************

Parshat Korach 5774: Lessons for Today from Korach and the Southern Side of B’nai Yisrael’s Encampment

by Moshe Burt

This author has cited a Torah Vort over several years by Rabbi Scott Ressler of the Jeff Seidel Student Center who asked the following:

Why would 250 people follow him [Korach] to their certain death, with apparently little to gain?

Parshat Korach relates the story of Korach, Dasan, Aviram and 250 members of the shevet (tribe) of Reuven challenging Moshe’s choice for Kohen Gadol (high priest). The end result was that the 250 members were burned by a heavenly fire, and the other 3 were miraculously swallowed by the earth. From a motive perspective, Korach makes the most sense, because he felt slighted for not having been chosen himself. But why would 250 people follow him to their certain death, with apparently little to gain?

The answer can be found in Rashi, the great medieval commentator, who writes that just as Korach’s family camped on the southern side of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), so did the tribe of Reuven. Rashi quotes the words of Chapters of the Fathers [Pirkei Avot], “woe to an evil person, and woe to his neighbor.”

The 250 people met their death, simply because they were influenced by their neighbors! This points to the awesome influence that friends, neighbors and associates have on us.

The south side of the encampment seems to have been kind of a rough neighborhood full of apparent potential conspirators. One could say the event of the Miraglim brought about an unholy alliance, the opening of the proverbial “Pandora’s Box.”

Korach ben Yitzhar ben Kehat ben Levi (son of Levi) saw that descended from him would be Shmuel HaNavi and, therefore, felt slighted either because Aaron, rather than he, was appointed Kohen Godol; or because he felt passed over by the choice of his cousin Elizaphan ben Ammihud as the Nasi of Kehat, making him (Korach) subordinate.

Shem Mishmuel writes about Korach that he seemed to resent that Moshe was the leader of B’nai Yisrael, that Aaron was the Kohen Gadol and that he was not the one appointed head of the Children of Kehath, his branch of the priestly family. Korach’s motivations were complex, the layers of discontent behind his abortive challenge to the leadership numerous as is discussed by the great commentators. (Shem Mishmuel on Parsha Korach, page 335)

Yehuda Nachshoni’s “Studies in the Weekly Parsha” cites Chasam Sofer (page 1033) who indicates that Korach’s contesting against Moshe stemmed from the Divine Conveyance of:

The monarchy and priesthood to the 2 grandsons of Kehas, Moshe and Aaron — sons of Kehas’ oldest son Amram. This was seen as a total negation of any claim by Kehas’ next 2 sons, Yitzhar and Chevron…

In short, the Chasam Sofer seems to indicate that Korach contested based on promoting a claim that the positions of power should have distributed evenly amongst Kehas’ 3 sons. He thus campaigned based on his assertion that Moshe employed nepotism and consolidation of power.

Shem Mishmuel relates a thought on Korach from Rashi;

“Korach was an intelligent man. If so, why did he involve himself with this nonsense? His eyes deceived him, for he saw a chain of noble descent emerging from him, ending in Shmuel HaNavi [the great prophet], who was considered equal to Moshe and Aaron. He said, ‘On his [Shmuel’s] account, I will be saved.’ There were also to be twenty-four stations of his descendents who would prophesy with the Divine spirit.… He said, ‘Is it possible that all of this greatness will emerge from me and I should be silent?’ Therefore, he joined [with the other rebels] and came to the opinion that when he heard from Moshe that all of them would perish save one … he mistakenly assumed that it referred to him. He failed to look carefully, for his sons did teshuva…” (Rashi, Bamidbar, Perech 16, posuk 7 as related in Shem Mishmuel on Parsha Korach, page 335)

It seems that in Korach’s case, he had basis for reasoning that his decendents, the generations of nevi’im who came before Shmuel would emanate from him and thus “it must be because he himself was a worthy and holy person.” (Shem Mishmuel on Parsha Korach, page 335)

Korach’s perception of history brought him to envision himself as “born to lead” and therefore, he took issue with the leadership of Moshe and Aaron HaKohen. Thus, while Hashem and history look disapprovingly at Korach’s attempt at a leadership grab, one might be able to understand what was behind Korach’s actions and possible rationale behind his false claims.

Then you had those two perennial bad boys Dasan and Aviram (ben Eliav), both of Shevet Reuven who were trouble, with a capital “T”, dating back to their being the cause of Moshe’s earlier flight from Pharoah and Mitzrayim through to being involved with sources of friction which occured in the camp in Bamidbar.

And finally, you had the Shevet (Tribe of) Reuven who harbored ill-will both due to their loss of first-born priestly status to the Kohanim and Hashem’s “redemption” of the Kedusha of the first-borns through the Levi’im.

Yehuda Nachshoni’s “Studies in the Weekly Parsha” (pages 1032-1033) on our Parsha Korach cites Ramban’s view that the cause of the rebellions: Korach, Dasan and Aviram and the First Born’s was:

The spies’ severe punishment, which brought death to the generation of the desert and plague to its princes. It [the punishment]… brought to the surface all of the accumulated bitterness of the dissatisfied, who until now had not dared to come out against Moshe. Now they took advantage… to settle accounts.

This author returns to the above quote by Rabbi Ressler in his citing of Rashi from Pirkei Avot:

“Woe to an evil person, and woe to his neighbor.” The 250 people met their death, simply because they were influenced by their neighbors! This points to the awesome influence that friends, neighbors and associates have on us.

This is a lesson not to be lost on today’s generations, as individuals and as an Am.

Don’t we learn that with our choices, we come to proverbial “forks in the road”, even amongst those who are, or claim to be Observant Jews, and as we traverse the direction of our choosing, Hashem sets tests accordingly? On the one hand, we need to distance ourselves from bad or negative influences, while yet at the same time reaching out to others with positivity to draw them closer to our Creator, rather than negatively forcing or coercing and basically pushing them further away. On the other hand, the various sectors of Observant Jewry must realize that all such sectors have what to contribute via diversity within Halachic parameters. This author has repeatedly noted cases in point, i.e. examples of the twelve identical inaugural offerings of the Mishkan, all of which had their individual, unique dressings, as well as the unique degalim (flags) of each Shevet.

However, there seems a big caveat to the above paragraph. Not everyone has been blessed to come from a stable homelife and upbringing. What about the offspring of violent homes, of criminal, or deceitful, disreputable or drug-addicted parents? Yes, Avraham Avinu was strong enough to withstand the peer group pressure regarding avodah zora until Hashem Sent he and Sarah Imeinu on their mission to Eretz Yisrael. And Eliezer found and took Rivka Imeinu, bringing her to Yitzchak before Lavan could drag her down into the dross of crime, deceit and dishonesty.

What about that offspring of crime, deceit, drug addiction, scandal whose parent(s) run from place to place in avoiding apprehension, who is raised in an atmosphere of crime and the chase where honesty and law abidance is not inculcated?? Are such individuals written off as inherently bad, criminal? And what about the individual who tries hard to reform, to rise above a prior life of crime and cunning brought upon him at a young age by circumstances seemingly beyond his control, but who is dragged back down into the pit by force, threat of life-endangering violence and coercion, blackmail by those with whom he dealt in his earlier criminal life? It seems to this author that, for some, these questions are not the stuff of fiction, of multi-seasonal serial dramas like “White Collar” but of real life and do, in fact warrant consideration as we learn and intellectualize the lessons of Korach’s rebellion.

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brethren Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parsha Shelach 5774: Distortions of the Modern-Day Shelach, and the War for the Jewish Soul in Eretz Yisrael

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, News Reports on Tuesday, June 17th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Sh’lach is being sponsored by Dr. Eli and Miri Behar of Ramat Beit Shemesh L’ilui Nishmas for the Yahrtzeit of Yerachmiel Meir ben Nissim Avraham. To the Behar family, many thanks for your sponsorship and continued kindness.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring (or as the case may be, co-sponsoring) a Parshat HaShevua.

Please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
*************************************************

Parsha Shelach 5774: Distortions of the Modern-Day Shelach, and the War for the Jewish Soul in Eretz Yisrael

by Moshe Burt

Our Parsha Shelach brings to mind the evolution of Israeli political, governmental scene which has brought us to the state of affairs we have faced and continue to face today, including continued governmental tolerance of Arab attacks upon Jews — near the Kotel and throughout Yehuda and the Shomron as well as thousands of Hamas/PLO rockets which have rained down upon southern Israel from Gaza, the prohibition of Jews, even MKs, from praying at Har HaBayit (The Temple Mount), of alleged police framing of Jews regarding alleged violence and damage in so-called “Arab areas.” These all show clearly that the politicians, the elitist intelligencia, and many of the masses still have not learned and internalized the lessons which should have been gleaned after Jew expelled Jew from Gush Katif. Thus, it appears that we have been experiencing a prolonged internal war for the soul of Am Yisrael reminiscent of events surrounding the Divinely-sanctioned directive
by Moshe to send spies (miraglim) into Eretz Yisrael.

Our Parsha brings this author to recall, each year, memories which harken back to one Yom Nora’im (High Holidays) the late-1980s in Philadelphia, in the years just prior to becoming Ba’al Teshuva.

The conservative synagogue attended for Rosh Hoshana and Yom Kippur had a practice of bringing in a young JTS (Jewish Theological Seminary) guest rabbi to help and assist the synagogue’s long-time Rabbi who was getting on in years. This particular Yomim Tovim, they brought in a young fellow who proceeded to pitch the philosophies of Breira, one of the leftist-agendized predecessors of Shalom Achshav.

These were years before Shalom Achshav emerged and succeeded in snowing and propagandizing hundreds of thousands of Israelis while sprouting, with the help of European NGOs, numerous different heads and tenacles which connected with leftist, Arabist, anti-semitic funding

sources. And so this young conservative “traditional (sic)” rabbi-to-be proceeded to turn the Torah’s account of the Meraglim (the spies) on its head. He portrayed the evolution of leftist “ideology”; from Breira, to the Progressives, to Shalom Achshav: of “land for peace (sic)” as a worthy sequel to Yehoshua and Caleiv, who took their lives in their hands to defend Hashem and who urged the people on into Eretz Yisrael.

And of course, this young “Rabbi” wannabe took the truth of Yehoshua and Caleiv: “the Land is good” and turned it upside-down, inside-out and sideways spinning and manipulating it to suit his leftist ideological agenda, just as the other 10 spies used a little bit of truth about the Land and the display of its fruit to further their agenda. Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” (Page 325-326) cites mussar

Rabbi A.M. Shimanowitz, who would cite Rashi on Bamidbar Perek 13, posuk 27:

“And they told him, and they said, we came to the land where You sent us, and it is flowing with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.”

“Rashi cites the Sages on this verse that, ‘Every falsehood that does not start with some truth will not last.’ Unfortunately, today there are many people who mistakenly feel that every truth that is not mixed with some falsehood will not last.” (Chayai Hamussar, vol. 1, page 71)

This wet-behind-the-ears so-called rabbi attempted to gain new adherents to the “land-for-peace(sic)” cause by portraying himself and other Breira, Progressive, Shalom Achshav, Noam Chomsky-types as if like Yehoshua and Caleiv — the minority speaking truth about the Land and, as if life-endangered, “poor, misunderstood” under-dogs when in fact they were the early version of what would later become a full-blown, well-oiled, mega-funded post-zionist Trojan Horse propaganda machine which would team up with the Arab enemy, the EU and leftists worldwide while steam-rolling and endoctrinating Israel’s secular masses — the so-called (by Israelis re: post Six-Day War Youth) “golden youth” and generations whose Jewishness and Torah rooting was anything but solid.

These leftist, elitists — these scoffers are the latter day sequels of the complainers about whom Yehuda Nachshoni (Studies in the Weekly Parsha — Behaaloscha, page 991) cites Akeidah as indicating that:

“They desire to be free of any ethical or spiritual bonds.”

Nachshoni goes on to indicate (Studies in the Weekly Parsha — Behaaloscha, page 991):

This is what Chazal mean when they interpret the word “free” as free from Mitzvot (Sifre). With their exodus from Egypt they had become physically free, but their souls took on Hashem as their master. Now they wished to sever that bond. That is why the Holy One says: “You have abhorred Hashem, Who is in your midst, and you have wept before Him saying: Why did we leave Egypt” (Bamidbar, Perek 11, posuk 20). They did not explicitly say this, but the Holy One, Who knows man’s secret thoughts, knew that they wished to throw off the yoke of Heaven, but masked this with the complaints.

And so, the 10 of the 12 miraglim, seemingly selfish to perpetuate and maintain their little empires, seemingly preyed upon the weakness and vulnerability of the masses of Am Yisrael.

But why would Am Yisrael be such weak, vulnerable and suseptible prey?? Nachshoni seems to trace possible roots behind this vulnerability (Studies in the Weekly Parsha — Behaaloscha, page 995-996):

Chazal say that the controversy over fish was rumblings of immorality; a protest against the laws of matrimony which had become accepted by the community of Israel. The people speak about “meat” and then turn and long for the “fish” that they ate in Egypt; the fish signify licentious desire. And the verse… “crying in families” (Bamidbar, Perek 11, posuk 10) — should be thought of as “crying about family matters.” They complained that the Torah forbade marital unions with relatives they previously had been free to marry (Yoma 75a; Shabbos 130a).

…Israel had been given a marital code at Sinai. Now they wished to be free of that code. Kesav Sofer connects this decline in morals with their earlier demand for meat. They… complained of domestic strife. They went on to developtheir argument and claimed that the family quarrels were a result of the marital code; they were married to comparative strangers. Had they been permitted to marry people who were more closely bound to them by ties of blood, the families would be more…united; these quarrels about fish and meat would never have arisen.

Moshe thought that the grumbling was about fish, meat and domestic strife and “it was evil in the eyes of Moshe.” But Hashem saw the deeper hidden motives — they wished to throw off moral restraints — and “Hashem was very wrathful.”

How do such hidden motives and their possible roots seem to relate to what appears as today’s war for the Jewish soul??

Through the systematic use of a growing financially well-greased left-wing print and electronic media and an ever-increasing leftist influence and control over Israel’s educational institutions, as well as financially well-oiled descendents of Shalom Achshav such as “J-Street”, the left propagandizes the masses such as to subtly, or not-so-subtly impose it’s will on the masses and attempts to bring the secular masses to serve the avodah zoras of disdain for Torah, denial of the righteousness of the modern-day return of the Jew to his land, etc.

In the same way that that Jews in Bamidbar reacted to change — a new code of marital unions which they were unaccustomed to and needed to acclimate themselves to, the leftist media and intelligencia, along with deeply engrained leftist roots in political and governmental institutions seem to have evolved to prey upon vulnerable masses of today’s Am Yisrael who, like B’nei Yisrael in Bamidbar, seem not sufficiently knowlegeable and unaccustomed to Halacha — Jewish law and morality and the eternal Jewish link and connection with Eretz Yisrael.

As a result of this ever-growing, corrosive leftist influence, we see a trend and evolution which has progressed toward such abominations amongst the Am, as the new “civil rights movement” — equality for and evolvement toward state sanction and sponsorship of same-gender relationships and “marriages” and attempted enticements, subversions and coercions by others to bring the state to hand sovereignty over Jewish Holy Places to other religions, i.e., Vatican’s ambitions to acquire King David’s tomb (click here as well).

This young conservative rabbi-wannabe counted on the abject ignorance of American Jews to their history, to their heritage and even to events of contemporary modern days, such as the Entebbe rescue as a means of gaining gullible adherents by default. These were the predecessors of Oslo who blazed their way toward the phenomena of Jew expelling Jew, attempted implementation of “Road Maps” and of leaders being “too tired to fight, too tired to win.”.

“The Midrash Says,” by Rabbi Moshe Weissman (Sefer Bamidbar, Parsha Shelach, pages 162-163) discussses the corruption of the spies:

The twelve spies were dispatched on the 29th of Sivan, 2449.

Although they had been tzaddikim at the time of their appointment, they turned sour as soon as Moshe sent them out. They immediately decided to bring back a derogatory report so as to detain B’nai Yisrael.

What caused the Spies to become corrupted?

They said to each other, “Under Moshe’s leadership, we are heads of the people. As soon as we enter Eretz Yisrael, Yehoshua will become the leader. He will then appoint a different cabinet of ministers. Let us therefore detain the people in the wilderness to ensure that we shall not be demoted from our high positions.”

They spent the next 40 days planning how to make it plausible that Eretz Yisrael could not be conquered.

In a National Council of Young Israel Parshat HaShevua (June 24, 1995) on our Parsha, Rabbi Dr. Chaim Wakslak cites a preface written by Chasam Sofer in his books of Responsa:

It was because of their leadership positions, intense piety and their acclimation to a miraculous existence that they wanted to avoid the non-spiritual, non-miraculous, somewhat pedestrian existence that awaited them in Eretz Yisrael.

Rabbi Dr. Wakslak goes on to write:

Had the Meraglim… realized that it was incumbent upon B’nai Yisrael to move from a realm of the overtly miraculous that they had enjoyed until then, to the fulfillment of Mitzvot…, they might not have arrogantly decided to resist the Divine plan and B’nei Yisrael might have been spared the punishment that the sin of the Meraglim led to.

In essence, the spies provided the perfect “out”, the perfect rationale to sever the bond. As heads of the Sh’vatim, the 10 spies, with their ulterior motives: maintainance and perpetuation of their positions, station and empires, their perks and spoils, they covered and perpetuated their own kingdoms.

And so, true to the form which both Nachshoni and Rabbi Dr. Wakslak describe, the disunity, and apparent mutual jealousy and distrust within the religious sectors today, coupled with the leftist, elitist intelligencia scoffers have fed efforts by successive Israeli governments who sought, seek to divide and conquer, maintain, consolidate and perpetuate their secular kingdom at the expense of the governed and at the expense of Jewish sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael as well as against the advent of a REAL Jewish leadership. Such a Real Jewish leadership would be in nobody’s pocket, would owe no debts to today’s political hacks, would make no bargains with hacks who would throw any locality or segment of the governed “under the bus.” This Real Jewish Leadership would subserviant ONLY to Shemayim.

If today’s political/governmental leaders only realized and internalized the Eternal Incumbency of Shemayim, maybe they would realize that they need to step aside in favor of Real Torah-true Jewish leadership which reconnects the Jews with their Divine legacy: Eretz Yisrael..

We live in contemporary times where the earliest vestiges of disunity and disdain for one’s fellow Jews and for our Eretz HaKiddusha manifested itself in propaganda displays, such as the convoluted logic of the JTS student noted above, and have evolved into engrained, morally corrupt historical revisionist institutions and media which have lost grasp of who they are and why they or we are here in the first place. But we, the masses don’t have to accept, support and rally around these contemporary false miraglim who defame OUR Divine legacy — Eretz Yisrael while endoctrinating and brain-washing successive generations. We must not support a hack “political beltway” whose mindset and actions have their roots in those false miraglim of Bamidbar, and who like them, fear for their modern-day secular empires — empires which would be lost for all time in an Authentic Jewish Torah-based governance, and for their political perks and spoils above all else.

We long for the attributes of a Moshe Rabbeinu, of a real Jewish leadership, which by its very nature, recognizes the necessity of national unity and the continued building and ingathering of the Jews to modern-day Israel. Such a leadership recognizes that success in Yishuv Eretz Yisrael, and in conflicts with enemies bent on our destruction are in the Hand of Hashem, but that the Yad Hashem depends on our unity and the labor, planning and efforts of our unity.

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brethren Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.

Parshat Beha’aloscha 5774 — Contrasting Aaron HaKohen’s Enthusiasm and Constancy of Service With Our Recitation of Aleinu

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, News Reports on Tuesday, June 17th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parsha Beha’aloscha is being sponsored by R’ Seth and Esther Grossman (CREFAdvisors) and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh. To the Grossman family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.

Please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
*****************************************

Parshat Beha’aloscha 5774 — Contrasting Aaron HaKohen’s Enthusiasm and Constancy of Service With Our Recitation of Aleinu

by Moshe Burt

Our Parsha notes:

“Hashem spoke to Moshe, telling him to speak to Aaron and say to him, ‘When you light the lamps, the seven lamps shall illuminate the menorah.’” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 8, posukim 1-2, translation as rendered by R’ Aryeh Kaplan, z”l in “The Living Torah” Chumash)

“And Aaron did so, toward the face of the Menorah he kindled the lamps, as Hashem had commanded Moshe.” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 8, posuk 3 translation as rendered in the Artscroll Chumash, page 775)

Many commentators including Rashi and the S’fas Emes, as cited by by R’ Zelig Pliskin in “Growth Through Torah”, note that this posuk expresses the epitomization of the enthusiasm and constancy of Aaron HaKohen’s Service in the Mishkan as a paradigm for B’nai Yisrael to emulate.

R’ Pliskin writes (Sefer “Growth Through Torah”, Parsha Beha’aloscha, page 318):

Rashi comments: “This is to tell the praise of Aaron that he did not change.”

The S’fas Emes explained that usually when a person starts something new, he feels very enthusiastic about what he is doing. He is excited about the good he is doing and feels very motivated. But after some time passes the enthusiasm and excitement get lost. This is the praise of Aaron. Every time he lit the lamp in the Tabernacle [Mishkan] he did so with the same enthusiasm as on the first day.

R’ Mordechai Katz, in his sefer “L’lmode U’lamed (page 136) expands on the citings from R’ Pliskin in citing an unnamed commentator who provides a “psychologically-based expanation” of Rashi’s comment:

It is human nature to begin an assignment with the greatest enthusiasm. Gradually, however, this initial ardor cools. After a while, the person performs this task more out of habbit than out of devotion. But this was not the case with Aaron. He began his duties in the Mishkan with the most fervent of devotion and maintained that devotion throughout his years of service. His enthusiasm for serving Hashem never waivered. This then is what Rashi is informing us here.

Therefore, it seems clear that Aaron HaKohen’s lifetime constancy of service is l’chatchila (the way things ought to be), the paradigm for all of B’nai Yisrael to emulate for all time.

R’ Katz adds (“L’lmode U’lamed, page 136):

It is sad but true that we have become so used to many of our activities that we perform them mechanically, without any feelings whatsoever. This is why our Tefillos sometimes [?] become exercises in reading Hebrew rather than emotional communications with Hashem.

“Prayer without devotion is like a body without a soul.” (Yeshuos Meshilo)

In this context, Shem Mishmuel (translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski) provides commentary on both Aaron HaKohen and the Kohanim and the service of the Levites (page 319-322). He cites Midrash Tanchuma, on Beha’aloscha 5:

…All of the tribes brought offerings, except for the tribe of Levi…. Aaron did not offer together with the other princes. He said, “Perhaps the tribe of Levi is not acceptable because of me.” Hashem said to Moshe, “Go and say to Aaron, I have prepared you for greater things than that! … As for the offerings, they are only applicable when the Beit HaMikdash stands. But the lights are everlasting… and all of their berachot which I gave to you so that you may bless My children will also never be cancelled.

Shem Mishmuel then cites Ramban from Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 8, posuk 2, and then comments:

…The whole tribe of Levi were servants of Hashem…. When the Beit HaMikdash is not extant and the korbonot are cancelled, lighting the Menorah becomes defunct. Rather, this midrash hints at the Chanukah of the Chasmonaim [the Chanukah familiar to us], which applies even after the destruction…

Thus, in place of the temporary offerings which the other tribes, Aaron was promised something which would be everlasting. The dynasty of the Chasmonaim, who were Kohanim…, fought against the Greco-Syrians in the time of the second Beit HaMikdash. They rededicated the defiled sanctuary and when they came to relight the Menorah, … one day’s quantity of oil burned for eight. In the merit of the Chasmonaim, Jews throughout the world have celebrated Chanukah celebrated Chanukah ever since.

He then contrasted the Kohanim and the Levi’im:

…The Levi… connect[s] earth to heaven. His role in the Beit HaMikdash is as a singer…. He inspires the people to turn heavenwards, lifting them from their physical limitations to the spirritual world. The Kohen, on the other hand , connects Heaven to earth. He draws Hashem’s presence into the Beit HaMikdash, the fire into the altar, and infuses the world with the Divine.

And so, whereas the offerings of the other Tribes at the inauguration of the Mishkan was temporary, the service of both the Kohanim and Levi’im are permanent, i.e. that even throughout the generations of Galut with no Beit HaMikdash, the Kohanim are able to perform Birkat Kohanim daily, or at least on Yom Tov, anywhere in the world, and the Levi’im can sing in any Shul, bringing man to lift soul to Shemayim, to the spiritual heights.

So, what does Aaron Hakohen’s enthusiasm and constancy, and the respective services of the Kohanim and the Lev’im have to do with Aleinu?

Firstly, let’s revisit this jaw-dropping comment and citation from R’ Mordechai Katz (“L’lmode U’lamed, page 136):

It is sad but true that we have become so used to many of our activities that we perform them mechanically, without any feelings whatsoever. This is why our Tefillos sometimes [?] become exercises in reading Hebrew rather than emotional communications with Hashem.

“Prayer without devotion is like a body without a soul.” (Yeshuos Meshilo)

Now, let’s look at excerpts from a piece dated 7 May, 2014 by Rabbi Emanuel Feldman (in Mishpocha magazine) “Where the Holy and Mundane Meet”:

Band-Aids, paper clips, zippers, earplugs, Bubble Wrap, tea bags: What do these items all have in common? This: They are indispensable fixtures of daily life, they make our lives much more livable — and they are taken completely for granted.

Take the lowly paper clip. Do we ever give it a second look? But try holding documents and papers in an orderly manner without a paper clip, and then you will appreciate what life would be like without one.

And what about those useful little Post-it notes? They come in all colors and sizes, and help us organize (or, in my case, un-disorganize) our activities. Our lives are filled with such ubiquitous little helpers: Scotch/cello tape, Saran Wrap, aluminum foil — all those anonymous household items that we take for granted but make life a little easier.

Atlanta’s Museum of Design is now presenting a special exhibition of these overlooked, everyday items, which they call “Hidden Heroes: The Genius of Everyday Things.”

Perhaps we should mount a similar exhibition in the museum of our minds, a …. special room featuring “taken-for-granted prayers.” Inside, you will find specially framed reproductions of overlooked but indispensable prayer fixtures of daily life. Here you will not find Kol Nidrei, or Ne’ilah, or Hallel; instead, in one corner is a framed reproduction of Ashrei (Tehillim 145), recited three times each day, 365 days a year. Ashrei is the paper clip of davening: We say it so frequently that we take it for granted, often mumbling the words while our thoughts are a thousand miles away. But Ashrei is the paper clip that keeps daily prayer together. It deserves a special gallery of its own that will remind us of its glorious role in Tehillim and in davening, and just why it opens up Ne’ilah on Yom Kippur afternoon.

The next frame would feature the Aleinu prayer. Pity the poor Aleinu, the majestic prayer that, because of its ubiquitousness, has been reduced to an exercise in speed reading at the end of the davening as we rush out to our mundane lives. The Aleinu frame would feature its provenance, its authorship (Yehoshua himself), and how it achieved its unaccustomed once-a-year recognition during the Yamim Noraim.

A third frame would show the tiny, three-letter word, Amen. Recited endless times each day by shul-goers, this is the poster child of neglected prayers. And it is a prayer, for it represents the affirmation of the brachah, or the Kaddish, that precedes it. How many people know of its crucial importance? Or that its proper pronunciation requires kavanah, or that its three letters (alef, mem, nun) stand for Keil Melech ne’eman — G-d, trustworthy King? This paper clip of our davening surely deserves a prominent place in our virtual museum.

But it seems that R’ Feldman may not have done Aleinu — Our Duty anything near its due justice.

Well, as if it weren’t enough that we blow through P’sukei d’Zimra and that the Sh’liach b’Tzibbor’s repetition of Shemona Esrei ranges between the speed of Kentucky Derby winner “Carry Back” and the 100-plus mph blur of an Aroldis Chapman fastball, not to mention slurred, mis-pronounciation or non-existent pronunciation — perhaps the cost of the glorification of one’s “chazzonut skills”; by the time we get to Aleinu, most blow through it at warp-speed in a mad rush out of shul. This author has several times previously noted that it seems as if Aleinu is but an after-thought to most. If it weren’t for Kaddish afterwards, gang-way for the stampede! So, from the beginning of Aleinu, the main focus of those saying Kaddish is to rush in a frenzy to surround the Bima — their minds and focus seemingly very far from the mission at hand — “Our Duty” — both paragraphs of it.

This mad dash described above sounds more like what R’ Pliskin subsequently writes on the above posuk (ibid – Sefer “Growth Through Torah”, Parsha Beha’aloscha, page 318):

…After doing the same thing over and over, people get bored… In order to accomplish anything, one needs to master the ability of sustaining enthusiasm…. as if it were the first time.

Aleinu L’Shabeiyach: The verbalization of OUR Chiyuv — it’s our obligation as Jews to praise and glorify Hashem’s name. Aleinu is the most often said, the most repetitious and unchangeable, yet the most under-rated, least respected, but perhaps the most important of all of our daily tefillot. Noone seemingly even bothers to take the time, when vocalizing the tefillah, to even focus on the meanings of it: that Yehoshua davened it forwards, backwards, sideways through as the Jews encircled Yericho and the Shofars blew until Yericho’s walls fell in heaps. Heck, a Shliach Tzibbor was recently timed at less than 30 seconds. He must’ve blown off the second paragraph Akhan’s teshuvah (Akhan’s repentance and striving to improve, to come closer to Hashem — to rectify his sin of taking spoils from battle) entirely.

Rabbi Ari Enkin makes this compelling statement regarding Aleinu in his Halacha Sefer (”Daled Amos” pge 24):

I have heard interpretations that the entire prayer service is simply one gigantic preparation for the recitation of Aleinu.

Rabbi Enkin then includes a reference footnote to the Mishne Berura 132:8A where the Rama tells us:

Say “Aleinu L’Shabeiyach” while standing after tefillah and be careful to daven it with kavanah.

From where and from whom did the impetus for Rabbi Enkin’s compelling statement come? R’Shimshon Pincus, who asks a startling question in his well-known and oft-referenced sefer on Tefillah; Nefesh Shimshon, as well as other sources, provide jaw-dropping citings, some of which are para-phrased here and give clues to back Rabbi Enkin’s compelling statement:

  • 1/ R’ Pincus cites a responsa of the Gaonim from sometime between 500 to 1,000 CE where someone asks: How is it possible that Aleinu is said in Chutz L’Aretz? Such a high-level tefillah shouldn’t be permitted to be davened except in a place close to Hashem, Yehoshua only davened Aleinu upon entering Eretz Yisrael.

    From this question, we see the specialness of Aleinu — that on no other tefillah is such a question asked. There must be something great, mighty and elevated in Aleinu which Gaonim felt can’t be appreciated in any other locale. This testifies to the deep and special meaning of Aleinu.

  • 2/ R’Pincus cites the Gry’z Z’l as noting that the whole power of the Yetzer Hora and its troops on the human mind is through the imagination, convincing man that he (man) is in control.

    If only man would say with vigor and strength that… [all that the Yetzer Hora has convinced man of man’s control of] are Hevel V’rik — vanity and emptiness and that there is nothing real in them, he (man) would then find it easier to recognize that… Hashem Keilokim — that there is nothing else. Afterwards, Satan would not have power to mess with man’s mind because man realizes that everything is dependent upon Him. R’Pincus brings as Aleinu’s purpose that it reinforces the feeling of the Jew, as he leaves tefillot, that he is totally dependent upon Hashem.

  • 3/ Another Sefer, L’David Shiur by Asher Elbaz seems to answer R’Pincus’ citing from Gaonim responsa citing R’Hai Gaon which indicates that by those in Chutz L’Aretz aiming their tefillahs toward Israel and toward the Beit HaMikdash, the Jewish world’s tefillahs rise to Shemayim from the Mikdash.
  • 4/ Sefer L’David Shiur cites the Rokeach who notes that Yehoshua Ben Nun repeated Aleinu on his knees in awe and in a loud voice in a tune which makes the heart rejoice. Therefore, a person should have kavanah to sing Aleinu with all of his might to his Creator. [Can this be done at break-neck speed?]
  • 5/ Sefer L’David Shiur cites the Chida which says to say Aleinu word-by-word [seeming obvious to not slur or mumble-jumble them] because it is a very awesome praise full of very high secrets.
  • 6/ L’David Shiur also cites the M’Chazik Bracha (Koof, Lamed, Bet) which indicates that there is no other praise to our Creator like Aleinu and that it is higher than all of the praises in the world.

But, yet we have the unmitigated gall to blow through Aleinu and then flee out of Shul three times a day, like kids running from school lest they be piled with more lessons and homework? Indeed! People don’t seem to realize, or they seem to discount, that Aleinu is an integral part of Our Service — Our individual and collective Divine Service. It’s Our chance to emulate Aaron HaKohen and pray for the world to cleave to Hashem — the Creator of the world and all that is in it..

And when someone questions why or how it is possible to give such short shrift to Aleinu, the responses seem to come with defensiveness, invoking oft-overused expression: “ti’erka b’tzibbor”, and with rationalization about how they have to get to work, drive the kids to Gan or to Yeshiva Ketanah, etc. — as they run out of Shul like a bunch of scared rabbits, afraid of their shadows, in dread fear of being fired, or of being yelled at by their spouse, etc. instead of acting like men.

But whose time is it anyway?? And if Hashem controls all, might it then stand to reason that, if they took a little more time — if the Shaliach Tzibbor slowed down and properly pronounced the repetition of Shemonah Essrei, even at the expense of cutting back of the “melodious” chazzonut, and didn’t rush through Aleinu, to get to the Kaddish afterwards, so that everyone could then flock out of Shul like a wild buffalo herd, that Hashem would then bring a reconfiguration to our day such that the extra time wouldn’t make kids late for school, wouldn’t makeadults late for their jobs, that all of their work would get done on time and that noone would fear for their jobs?? Or, if things didn’t happen precisely that way, that what did happen would ultimately be for the best anyway?

And could it be, that just as Hashem Gave unto the Kohanim and Levi’im eternal abilities far greater than the fleeting offerings, He Gave Kol B’nai Yisrael an eternal gift — our Aleinu prayer? Again Rabbi Enkin’s compelling comment in his Sefer:

I have heard interpretations that the entire prayer service is simply one gigantic preparation for the recitation of Aleinu.

Shouldn’t B’nai Yisrael always treat Aleinu with the same degree of seriousness to which Aaron HaKohen treated his daily service and to which Kohanim and Levi’im throughout our generations treated their respective service, with or without the Beit HaMikdash??

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brethren Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Shavu’ot 5774: Ruth, Jonathan Pollard and the Impact of Actions L’Shem Shemayim on Am Yisrael

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, News Reports on Tuesday, May 27th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Shavuot vort is being sponsored by an anonymous donor L’ilui Nishmas for the Yahrtzeit of his grandfather Shmuel ben Binyomin Zev. To the anonymous donor and his family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring (or as the case may be, co-sponsoring) a Parshat HaShevua.

Please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
********************************************

Shavu’ot 5774: Ruth, Jonathan Pollard and the Impact of Actions L’Shem Shemayim on Am Yisrael

by Moshe Burt

The Sefer Shem Mishmuel (page 302) cites Rabbi Berachyah in Shemos Rabbah Perek 28, posuk 1:

“The Tablets were six tefachim (handbreadths) long — in some sense, Hashem grasped two tefachim, Moshe grasped 2 tefachim and 2 tefachim bridged the gap between them.”

Shem Mishmuel then explains (pages 302 – 304):

We can sub-divide all mitzvot, and indeed, all human endeavors into three spheres: thought, speech and action. There are some Mitzvot which require a Jew to think in a particular way. For example, the first of the Ten Commandments demands belief in Hashem.

Other Mitzvot are dependent on speech. For example, one must verbally recall Shabbos…. not lie to the Beis Din or speak badly of another.

Finally, there are many Mitzvot which utilize the Jew’s power of action. There are requirements to put on tefillin, shake the lulav, eat matzah, etc.

…Each of these three divisions reflect different interactions between man and Hashem.

Action… is entirely in an individual’s domain. He is not forced to do anything that he doesn’t want to do.

The actions of the Jew determine everything, even the ultimate success or failure of the peoples of the world. This idea is illustrated by Chazal:

“After Yisrael did that wicked act [the sin of the golden calf], Hashem wanted to grab the tablets from Moshe. However Moshe prevailed and snatched them back.”

To conclude, the actions of a Jew can have enormous consequences for good or for bad. Literally, everything depends upon it. And it could be that when the Jews received the Torah at Sinai they had all this in mind when they proclaimed: “All that Hashem has said, we will do and hear.” (Sefer Shemot, Perek 24, posuk 7)

In reflecting on Shavu’ot and the story of Ruth, it is striking to view the similarity of actions between Ruth’s cleaving to Naomi and to Jewishness, and Jonathan Pollard’s actions on behalf of Israel and B’nai Yisrael — putting his life on the line, the price — come what may — now in his 30th year of incarceration, for the survival of the Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael — Our Land. Jonathan is not a Ger Tzeddeket as Ruth was when she clung to Naomi saying;

“Do not urge me to leave you, to go back and not follow you. For wherever you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people are my people, and your G’d is my G’d; where you die, I will die and there I will be buried. Thus may Hashem do to me — and more! — if anything but death separates me from you.” (Megillat Ruth, Artscroll Tanach series, Perek 1, posukim 14-17, pages 79-81)

There was no mandate, no earthly obligation for Ruth to follow Naomi. She could have done what her sister-in-law Orpah did — they were both widowed of Naomi and Elimelech’s sons Machlon and Kilyon. When after the deaths of her husband and two sons, Naomi sought to return to Eretz Yisrael and bid the two widows to return to their Moabite people and land. Orpah tearfully left Naomi and returned to Moav, while Ruth clung to Naomi and her Jewishness thus charting her life unalterably along a Jewish path.

In much the same way, Jonathan Pollard, Yehonaton ben Malka, then working in the US defense department, was under no earthly obligation to act, to furnish Israel with important intelligence. He could have taken the easy path — the path undoubtedly taken by many others, to just do his job, without giving a thought to his people. He would have been free man, not incarcerated for nearly 30 years — but where would Israel be??

Pollard was not under any earthly superior’s orders to provide the dire intelligence which Israel needed to protect herself from what was then an Iraqi nuclear and chemical warfare (wmd: weapons of mass destruction) threat.

The point this author is about to make seems needed to heard, understood and internalized by Rabbanim involved in chinuch (teaching of observant youth in Yeshiva katanah – religious elementary schools) with such subject matter taught to young minds more impactfully and with sensitivity:

Just as Ruth heard/felt a Divine Imperative, the full extent of which she probably didn’t near fully comprehend — the lineage of Jewish Kingship, so too Jonathan Pollard, although guilty of spying against his nation, his employer, acted on internal impetus and initiative in service of a Divine Imperative which overrode any possible allegiance to his employer and to his nation of birth — the security and wellbeing of HIS people. Yes, Jonathan Pollard spied on behalf of an Ally — but he provided Israel with information regarding Iraq and Sada’am Hussein’s capacity for chemical warfare and weapons of mass destruction — information which the US was bound by it’s Strategic Co-operation agreement with Israel to provide her. That Strategic Co-operation agreement between the US and Israel was violated and abrogated by the United States with Jonathan Pollard’s apprehension, American violation of its plea bargain with Jonathan and in the 29 plus years of Jonathan’s incarceration. Jonathon’s term of imprisonment is documented by numerous sources, including these, as excessively far more than even that meted out to spies who cost American lives and assets by the information they provided to hostile and/or enemy nations. One further note: It is thanks to Jonathan Pollard that Israel has sealed rooms in all homes and buildings constructed for well over 25 years.

And so, as we re-read and re-learn the Megillat Ruth and its impact upon Am Yisrael — Am Yehudi, and upon all mankind for all time, of Ruth’s cleaving to Na’omi, of her brief union with Bo’az and their offspring from whom descended David HaMelech, we must also consider the parallel between Ruth actions and impact upon Am Yisrael and Jonathan Pollard’s selfless actions on behalf of Israel and their impact upon Am Yisrael and upon mankind. We must contemplate how his actions and the information provided Israel have added to Israel’s security and have saved countless hundreds or thousands of Jewish lives.

In the spirit of Matan Torah, of Am Yehudi, of Megillat Ruth, of Malchut Shemayim we must daven fervently beseech Shemayim, and scream out letting our voices be heard by Israel’s leaders to push the United States on behalf of our fellow Jew in distress — Yehonaton ben Malka. May we merit that Hashem see fit to bring about Jonathan’s speedy release, liberation and return to his Eretz Yisrael in spite of a mean-spirited, adversarial American president and his predeccesors.

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brethren Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Chag Kosher V’Same’ach!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Naso 5774: Three Why’s of the Priestly Blessings

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, News Reports on Tuesday, May 20th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Naso is being sponsored anonymously in honor of the Bornstein family for all of their kindness and service to the RBS community. To our anonymous sponsor, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.

Please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat Naso 5774: Three Why’s of the Priestly Blessings

by Moshe Burt

In the last couple of years, our Parsha Naso fell out on the Shabbos after Shavuot, but this year it falls out on the Shabbos before Shavuot.

Our Parshat is devoted in large part to counting, and delineating the duties of the three Levite families: Gershon, Kehas and Merari. It also discusses Hashem’s Command that B’nai Yisrael purify the encampment by by removing all of those with tumah to outside camp as well as the inauguration of the Mishkan and the twelve repetitions of the gifts given for the Mishkan by the tribes. Our Parshat enunciates four laws involving the Kohanim: One’s atonement for theft from a neighbor, with emphasis on theft from a convert to Judaism, the wayward wife or the wife so suspected who must submit to drinking from waters of Sotah (waters of bitterness) to ascertain guilt or inocence, the Nazirite of abstinence from wine or alcohol, and the Birkhat Kohanim (the Priestly Blessings) — the part of the service in the Mishkan, later in the Beit Hamikdash and today, daily in Shuls throughout Eretz Yisrael where the Kohanim are as conduits in conveying Hashem’s Blessings upon Am Yisrael. In most places outside of Eretz Yisrael, Birkhat Kohanim is pronounced in Shuls only on Yom Tovim.

There are, however, two questions regarding the Birkhat Kohanim: Why are they all pronounced in the singular, rather than the plural? And why, when pronouncing the Birkhat Kohanim, do the Kohanim face the kehillah, rather than the Aron HaKodesh?

Rav Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” (page 316) cites Rabbi Moshe Leib of Sassov and comments as to why singular rather than plural:

Rabbi Moshe Leib said that this is to teach us that the greatest blessing is togetherness. When we feel as if we are one unit, in this itself there is a great blessing.

It is easy to focus on the differences among people and to consider yourself as separate from the others. No two people are exactly alike. But there are many common factors among people. By focusing on the fact that every human is created in the image of the Almighty you will have greater identification with others and this will lead to greater unity.

The unity of togetherness with our fellow Jews and diversity within Halacha, rather than separation from one’s fellow observant Jews is certainly a lesson to be learned in our times. For we have learned, via the twelve repetitions of the gifts given for the Mishkan by the tribes, that while the gifts were all the same, each tribe offered it’s own unique presentation of their gifts.

Rabbi Mordechai Katz, in his Sefer “L’ilmod U’lamed” (page 133) discusses the direction faced by the Kohanim when pronouncing the Priestly Blessings:

When the Kohanim bless the people, as specified in the Torah, they do something rather unsual. Instead of facing the Aron, as all Chazonim do, they turn around and face the congregation. (Sotah 38a, Orach Chaim 128) Why do they shift their attention and their prayers from Hashem and concentrate instead on the assembly? Aren’t prayers usually directed towards Hashem?

Is there really any need for a Kohen to turn to Hashem and ask Him to bless and favor the people of Israel? For Hashem desires that His children, B’nai Yisrael, should at all times be blessed with happiness. It is, therefore, to B’nai Yisrael that the Kohen must direct his words, to urge them to act in accordance with Hashem’s Will. If they do so, Hashem will provide for their welfare without the need for any intermediaries. (Yerushalmi Berachos, Perek 9, Halacha 1; Rambam, Mishnayos, Sanhedrin, Perek 5)

This author, as a Kohen, finds the last phrase of the above citing from R’ Katz in Sefer “L’ilmod U’lamed” puzzling, and thus a third “why”:

…without the need for any intermediaries.

The Artscroll, Stone Chumash, aka “Rabbi Artscroll” provides commentary on Birkhat Kohanim (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 6, posukim 22-27, page 762) and noting posuk 27 which may give clarity to the above phrase:

“Let them place My Name upon B’nai Yisrael and I shall bless them.” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 6, posuk 27)

Moshe was commanded to instruct the Kohanim that they would have the privilege and duty to bless the nation of Israel, … for all time. This does not mean that they would have any independent power to confer or withhold blessings — only Hashem can assure people of success, abundance and happiness — but that part of their… service is to be the conduit through which Hashem’s blessings would be pronounced upon His people. …These blessings are inserted in the Shemoneh Esrei [of the morning Shacharit service] after רצה, the blessing in which we pray for the return of the Temple service to Jerusalem. To emphasize that the ultimate blessings are Hashem’s alone, this passage concludes with Hashem’s assurance that He will confer his own blessing on the B’nei Yisrael. (citing R’ Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, z”l)

In short, posuk 27 seems indicative of the Kohanim entreating B’nai Yisrael, repeatedly conveying, via the Birkhat Kohanim, the charge “to act in accordance with Hashem’s Will,” that they be blessed with happiness and success for doing so.

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brethren Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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