Parshat Shoftim 5777: Torah-True Righteousness of Judgement Applies to Police/Law Enforcement as to Judiciary

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, August 19th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off



Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Shoftim is sponsored by Dov and Bracha Moses of Ramat Beit Shemesh and dedicated for the aufruf this Shabbos of their son Amitai Yaakov and the upcoming chassuna of Amitai Yaakov to Yael Mayer. To the Moses 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 forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Shoftim 5777: Torah-True Righteousness of Judgement Applies to Police/Law Enforcement as to Judiciary

by Moshe Burt

This author penned this Parshat HaShevua under the heavy cloud of recent “PA” terror attacks; at Har HaBayit (The Temple Mount) where two Israeli Druze policemen were murdered, and on the family in Halamish during their Shabbos dinner where three family members were brutally murdered.

Our Parshat Shoftim opens with the Torah requirement of appointment of judges, and officers of the court to enforce judicial decisions with righteous judgement. The third posuk of our parsha reads:

“Tzedek, Tzedek tierdof…” Righteousness, righteousness (also rendered Justice, Justice) you shall pursue that you may live and inherit the land which the Lord, your G’d gives you.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 16, posuk 20)

Such righteousness in judgement must not be prejudiced by bribes, gifts, appearance of, or financial position of either litigant.

But let’s return to our Parsha’s opening posuk:

“Judges and Officers shall you appoint in all of your cities — which Hashem… gives you — for your tribes…” (Translation rendered by The Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer Devarim, Perek 16, posuk 18)

What about those “officers of the court”?

The Artscroll Stone Chumash (page 1024) explains:

Officers of the court who… would circulate in the markets and streets to enforce standards of honesty and summon violators to the court for adjudication. (citing Rambam Hilchot Sanhedrin, and Ramban)

The Sapirstein Edition Chumash Sefer Devarim “The Torah: With Rashi’s Commentary (page 182) renders Rashi:

“Officers” who impose authority over the people following the order of [the Judges]; with stick and with strap…

In short, these explanations indicate application of righteousness of judgement to police, law enforcement. And the paradigm posuk of our Parshat: “Tzedek, Tzedek tierdof (Justice, Justice) shall you pursue” would seem to apply to law enforcement to at least the same extent as to Judges and Judicary.

Bearing the above in mind, Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, in his Sefer “Torah Gems” provides a jaw-dropping commentary citing Derashot El Ami: “Tzedek, Tzedek tierdof…”:

“Justice alone is not enough, because there are many types of justice, just as there are many kinds of truth. Every regime has it’s own justice. The Torah therefore stresses ‘Justice, justice you shall pursue…’, namely the justice of justice, where both the means and the end are just.” (Torah Gems, Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, Volume 3, Parsha Shoftim page 257)

Doesn’t that “Every regime has it’s own justice” characterize an Israeli media, ministerial, law enforcement, military and judiciary in lock-step with the conviction of a soldier whose “crime” was insuring that an apparently mortally wounded terrorist was, in fact, dead after said terrorist carried out an attack in Hevron and “may have been attempting to activate an explosive device concealed inside his jacket” ? Or when Israel’s “supreme court” decided to partially destroy the home of the terrorist who brutally and mortally attacked and killed a 13 year old girl as she slept in her bed in Kiryat Arba? And these two citings don’t even begin to scratch the surface regarding the “justice (sic)” of the current and successive regimes

We observe the abovementioned fatal terror attack at Har HaBayit, with the resultant controversy and Israeli government equivocation under pressure caused by PA Arab protestations and rioting claiming “change in the status quo” concerning police installation of hi-tech metal detectors and surveillance cameras at the entrance of Har HaBayit. This so-called “change in the status quo” is used as a phony pretext for PA Arab violence, including the brutal terror slaughter of the three family members in Halamish as they sat eating their Shabbos dinner. The government succumbed to this pressure and removed the metal detectors and surveillance cameras in order to secure release by Jordanian authorities of a guard who was attacked by Arabs in the Israeli Embassy in Amman, Jordan.

At this time in Medinat Yisrael, we must add emphasis to that term “officers.” We see how the officers — Israel’s “Finest(sic)”, those who are charged with implementation and enforcement of “law”, i.e. apprehending wrong-doers, as well as the “Judges” of “law”, repeatedly pervert, subvert and bend their “law” through selective enforcement, selective apprehension with emphasis on Jews despite PA terror, and how the “judges judge” through selective judgement — “justice” according to agenda. Such “justice” by law enforcement and judiciary apparently suits the needs of a regime under the control of a handful; the agendized elitists, our own swamp, who dominate the ministerial bureaucracies, the universities, the print and electronic media and the few wealthy families where the financial wealth of the nation is concentrated. These socialist, leftist agendized elites have their tentacles in every Israeli governmental, educational, media and economic institution — Top, bottom, “upside down… inside out and round and round.” So, in the current state of Israeli governance and “justice”, these “officers” indoctrinate, brainwash and intimidate against both Torah and the spirit of Jewish justice.

Have we allowed the “law” to evolve into being the “law” by agenda (read leftist agenda) only, with those indoctrinated and agendized toward the socialist, leftist line — “a state of all its people”, etc. being basically above the “law”? Have we allowed the “law” and biased law enforcement to persecute those who cleave to Eretz Yisrael?

Hmm, a regime controlled by agendized elitists who dominate the ministerial bureaucracies, the universities, the print and electronic media…. and whose socialist, leftist agendized elite — Israel’s swamp — have their tentacles in every Israeli governmental, educational, media and economic institution? Isn’t it about time that Torah Jews got themselves unified, on the same page and took back Israel?

Can it be that the subverted or seduced city (Ir HaNidachas), which serves as the basis for the final Mishne of Perek Cheilik of Gemora Tractate Sanhedrin, relates to this and successive regimes, has a direct connection to the absence of “Tzedek, Tzedek tierdof…”:

That connection appears to be between subversion of the governed and the application of judgement and law enforcement based on subverted law, rather than Torah law.

“Righteousness, righteousness you shall pursue that you may live and inherit the land.”

The bottom-line; An honest, morally clean, straight-forward, self-respecting Jewish government would not maneuver and agendize itself into being controlled by the nations, or by those who subvert within who would look after their own national legacy. Instead, Israel’s corrupt and immoral leaders subject and subordinate themselves and the nation to the follies their own subversion and that of others at our collective, dire physical and spiritual peril. Thus, while the penalties of the subverted city may not apply, it seems obvious that in faith-based governance, charges of treason against an agendized swamp of subversion may.

May we, the B’nei 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 and that the expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of three years ago. 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 prevent Chas V’Challila 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 Al’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 is an Oleh, writer and commentator on news and events in Eretz Yisrael. He is the founder and director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network and lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Re’eh 5777: The Imperative of Eradicating All Forms of Avodah Zora, Paganism From Eretz Yisrael and Striving for Closeness to Hashem

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Friday, August 11th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Re’eh is being co-sponsored by R’ Barak and Sarah Schecter of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for a Refuah Shlaima for Yishaya Shalom ben Malka Gittel (Blass)and by an anonymous donor L’ilui Nishmas Devorah bat Yechiel Michel Of Blessed Memory. To both the Schecter family and our anonymous donor, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses and good wishes.

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

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

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

******************************************************************

Parshat Re’eh 5777: The Imperative of Eradicating All Forms of Avodah Zora, Paganism From Eretz Yisrael and Striving for Closeness to Hashem

by Moshe Burt

Our Parshat Re’eh, early on, reinforces a theme discussed previously in Parshat Masei:

“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….” (Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer BaMidbar, Perek 33, posukim 51-52 and commentary, pages 922-923)

…Apparently, …the meaning here: If you allow the pagan inhabitants to remain in the Land, they will become a hedge [a guard, a protection] around their pagan practices; the nature of these practices will be concealed from your perception and insight, and you will not find fault with them. Tolerance toward the pagan inhabitants will beget tolerance toward paganism. If you tolerate paganism and find justification for it within Hashem’s Land, you will cease to belong to Hashem alone, and… you will be deprived of your right to exist in the Land, and you will not be worthy of protection …. When Hashem removes His protection of you…, those toward whom you have been so tolerant will become your enemies and will oppress you in your own land.

R’ Shimson Rafael Hirsch z”l provides commentary on posuk 52 in the new Hirsch Chumash (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Rabbi Daniel Haberman, pages 666-667):

You must first make the Land fit to be your yerusha [inheritance] by removing all traces of polytheism, and only then will you be able to settle in it.You are not inheriting the Land by your own power and might; rather, Hashem’s will and Hashem’s power are giving you the Land…. Hence, you will not be able to avoid fulfilling the first basic condition on which Hashem makes the [this] gift of the Land dependent.

Sefer Shem Mishmuel (by R’ Shmuel Bornstein, as translated by R’ Zvi Belovski, page 392) provides a summary of Sefer Devarim, Perek 12, posukim 1-3:

…The sidrah describes the actions which Klal Yisrael were to take against the idols they would find in Eretz Yisrael. Hashem commanded them to utterly destroy them and to… uproot idolatry from the land.

The Artscroll Stone Chumash provides further commentary on these posukim (pages 999-1000):

…Idols must be destroyed totally (Mizrachi). This is why it is not sufficient merely to chop down an… idolatrous tree; even its roots must be removed from the ground (Rashi).

Rabbi Akiva inferred… that whenever one saw a high mountian or verdant tree, it should be assumed that an idol or an altar had been placed there (Avodah Zarah 45b). Apparently, the Canaanites set up their idols wherever the surroundings manifested the powers of nature, powers that they associated with their idols.

Not only should the idols themselves be removed, Jews are not even to refer to them by their proper names. Instead, they should use derogatory nicknames for them (Rashi).

All of this may well sound “politically incorrect”, “subversive” or “seditious” in our contemporary secular “western morality”-based governmental environment. But there seem to be lessons to be learned and applied in a Jewish State in OUR Eretz Yisrael regarding objects and texts of Avodah Zarah and their adherents, lest “those toward whom you have been so tolerant will become your enemies and will oppress you in your own land.”

About a third of the way into our Parsha, Torah teaches:

“[After] Hashem, your G’d, shall you follow and Him shall you fear; His commandments shall you observe and to His voice shall you hearken; Him shall you serve and to Him shall you cleave.” (As rendered to English n the Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer Devarim, Perek 13, posuk 5)

The Artscroll Stone Chumash (page 1008) provides this commentary on the above posuk:

“And to Him shall you cleave.” The only way a human being can cleave to Hashem is by emulating His ways.

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” (page 416) cites both The Chofetz Chayim and a story:

The first Hebrew word in this verse is “Acharei” which denotes a far distance. (Rashi)

…Regardless of how far a person feels he is from the Almighty, he should never give up hope. With all of his power he should strive to come closer to the Almighty. Therefore the Torah uses the term ["acharei"] which denotes distance. Even those who are at present far from the Almighty should seek Him and will find Him. Never allow any faults or transgressions to prevent you from coming closer to the Almighty. (Hachofetz Chayim, Vol. 3, page 1160)

Rabbi Chayim of Tzanz once said to an evildoer, “Don’t think that because you give in to your evil inclination in some areas, you therefore must do evil in all areas. Rather, in whatever ways you can, do good and overcome evil.” (Maigdolai Hachasidus Hoadmor Maitzanz)

It would seem to this author that both the imperative of eradicating all forms of avodah zora, and striving to connect to Hashem are connected and would relate to the political/ populous mindset, psyche of Israel in recent decades.

This author wonders, how much of the hate and loathing of Judaism and spirituality, as well as manifestations such as bogus “two-state solutions” and the like by secular Jews is an outward expression of subconscious feelings or perceptions that ones’ faults and transgressions are such that one is soo far from the ways of Hashem, as to feel beyond redemption, to have given up hope of ever achieving closeness to Hashem?

Back in Chuta L’Aretz, early into a Ba’al Teshuva journey, this author learned the significance of the Hebrew letter “ה” [Hei]. The space in the letter “Hei”, as distinguished from the letter “ח” [Chet] indicates that even if one sins, strays or is distant from Hashem, that space or opening in the letter “Hei” avails one, who has sinned or is distant, the ability, the opportunity to return, to renew and to come close to Hashem once again.

May we, the B’nei 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 and that the expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of three years ago. 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 prevent Chas V’Challila 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 Al’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 is an Oleh, writer and commentator on news and events in Eretz Yisrael. He is the founder and director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Eikev 5777: Eikev Mitzvot, Tefillot, “This Mitzvah” — Is It Shema or Shabbos?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, August 5th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Eikev is being sponsored by Dov and Lauren Greenberg of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated in honor of their son Moshe Yitzchak’s birthday. To the Greenberg family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses and good wishes.

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

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Eikev 5777: Eikev Mitzvot, Tefillot, “This Mitzvah” — Is It Shema or Shabbos?

by Moshe Burt

Moshe continues his mussar speech to B’nei Yisrael in Parshat Eikev.

Sefer Shem Mishmuel (by R’ Shmuel Bornstein, as translated by R’ Zvi Belovski, pages 386-387) renders translation of the opening posuk of Parsha Eikev:

“And it shall come to pass, if you listen to these mishpatim (social ordinances) and you guard them and do them, that Hashem Ke’ilokecha will guard the covenant for you and the kindness which He swore to your forefathers.” (Sefer Devarim Perek 7, posuk 12)

The Stone Chumash (Parshat Eikev pages 980-981) cites Rashi in explaining Eikev:

“you will hearken [listen]“ = eikev — the reward: in midrashic terms also means the “heel”, alludes to the sort of commandments that people may regard as relatively unimportant, so they tend figuratively to “tread on them with their heels.” Thus, the Torah assures Israel that if they are careful to observe even these neglected commandments, they can be certain that Hashem will reward them with His Covenant and Kindness.

Stated another way, this means being attentive to the little Mitzvot; the details, the Mitzvot that one tends to overlook, to ignore, to tread one’s heels on in life’s mad dash, but without which the Jewish people would lack the merit which sets us apart from common man. The little mitzvot are the small details, the ones epitomized by V’Ahavtah L’re’echa Komocha — caring for, and attentiveness to your fellow Jew as for yourself.

Shem Mishmuel seems to express Eikev as three means of observance: listening, guarding and doing the mishpatim (the laws). In turn, he equates listening with intellect, guarding with life’s emotions — with one’s heart, and doing with the bodily and physical performance of the Mitzvot. (ibid, Sefer Shem Mishmuel, page 386)

Rabbi Mordechai Katz, in his sefer “L’lmod U’lamed” cites expression of these three means of observance in a contemporary story during the Sho’a (Sefer “L’lmod U’lamed”, pages 165-166):

The ultimate test of one’s love of Hashem comes when forced to die for his loyalty to the Almighty. One of the many Jews who passed the test… the Radiziner Rav… [a] Tzaddik was a Jewish leader when the Nazis began their murderous rampage throughout Europe. As the butchers approached, the Radiziner Rav began planning an escape for fellow townfolk. Word of the plan leaked out… and the Rebbe was forced to flee. The Gestapo arrived in the town and demanded his return. The laid down an ultimatum: either the Radiziner came forward, or the entire town… would be killed instead.

When the town’s Gabbai heard of this, he donned his white Kittel and his Tallit, and presented himself to the Germans. The Gestapo seized him and killed him instantly, believing him to be the Rebbe. He had sacrificed his own life to save his leader.

However, the Germans were soon informed of the trick. Their anger grew, and they delivered their final set of conditions: either the Rebbe emerged from hiding within two hours, or the people of the town would be taken out one by one and shot.

The moment the Rebbe heard of this, he knew what he had to do. He left his refuge and declared, “I am the Radiziner. I am more than prepared to die in place of my fellow Jews, and to die in the service of Hashem.”

The remorseless Nazis dragged him in front of the town and murdered him on the spot. Before the final shots rang out, though, the Rabbe managed to cry out to… townfolk: “Do not surrender to these murderers! Resist! Remain loyal to Hashem! Shema Yisroel, Hashem Kelokeinu Hashem Echad! (Hear O Israel! Hashem is or L-ord!, Hashem is One!)”

With that said, these three means of observance relate to our Tefillot, intellectualizing it, taking our tefillot to heart, and physically manifesting our tefillot by our actions and Mitzvot.

This author equates the Eikev mitzvot with concentration and intent during tefillot, including Aleinu: the most oft-repeated, unchangeable prayer of all — the prayer which some scholars have understood may be the culmination of all tefillot which preceded it.

Eikev could also be understood as equated with the degree of kavod (respect) that we show in the Beit Knesset/Beit Medrash for siddurim, chumashim, other s’forim and the facility itself.

Shem Mishmuel, in another vort on our Parshat Eikev, cites a posuk near the end of our Parsha as well as a Devarim Rabbah and comments (Shem Mishmuel, pages 390-391):

“For if you will surely keep all of this Mitzvah which I command you to do it, to love the Lord, your G’d, to go in His ways and to cleave to him.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 11, posuk 22)

The Midrash notes a difficulty with the text…, and comments:

“For if you will surely keep all of this Mitzvah” — what is “all of this Mitzvah”? Said Rabbi Levi, “This is the recital of Shema.” The Rabbis say, “This is Shabbos, which is equal to all of the Mitzvot in Torah.” (Devarim Rabbah, Perek 4, posuk 4)

The primary function of reciting Shema is to accept upon oneself the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven….

Rabbi Levi, who claimed that the Mitzvah is reciting the Shema, believed that the most fundamental aim of… Torah… was for man to connect himself to Hashem.

The Rabbis claim that it is Shabbos which is the Mitzvah. Shabbos is described by Chazal as “fixed and established.” (Pesachim 117b) This means that man has no control as to when Shabbos occurs. It is, and always will be, every seven days, and has been so since creation. Yom Tov, in comparison, is contingent on the beis din…. Shabbos is fixed by Hashem alone, irrespective of man. The holiness of Shabbos descends from Heaven on a weekly basis. Our job is to prepare ourselves to accept it. We must focus our week’s
activities toward Shabbos and as the day approaches ready ourselves for its arrival.

The Rabbis, who claimed that Shabbos is the Mitzvah believed… that the most basic purpose [of Torah] is to receive the Divine gift of spirituality. Thus Rabbi Levi finds the quintessential Mitzvah to be one which brings man to Hashem, whereas the Rabbis find it to be the one which brings Hashem to man.

The focus of the Rabbis on Shabbos observance, as The central Mitzvah seems, then, to correspond with this author’s previous expressions of Shabbos as: Judaism 101, either the embarkation point bringing one closer to Hashem, or the point of disembarkation where one moves further away.

So, one could understand our Parsha as expressing the importance Torah places on diligently performing the smallest of Mitzvot, even as we would perform THE Mitzvah.

We see from Torah that the context of “if you will surely keep all of this Mitzvah” is Am Yisrael inhabiting and possessing Eretz Yisrael and prospering in it.

All of this, once again, seems to point up the centrality of Sh’miras Shabbos, the guarding of Shabbos observance, in Jewish religious life. And it points out the peril in a Jewish State of a political attitude of benignity regarding Shabbos observance visa vi “alternative” forms of public transportation on Shabbos (via oxymoronic “private” companies), even in the name of so-called “cultural unity”, and the multiple cans of worms such an attitude opens, to our continued possession, habitation,prosperity and sovereignty in OUR Eretz Yisrael, as well as to our very existence.

This author again expresses mystification that lovers of our holiest places who strive for possession of the entirety of Eretz Yisrael can, at the same time, hold to such a benign position regarding Shabbos observance, via:

A distorted sense of “acting for the sake of Shemayim” by way of “…a novel, misleading ideology, that evil must be tolerated by incorporating it into the Camp of Israel…” (Studies in the Weekly Parsha, by Yehuda Nachshoni, Parsha Balak, page 1115.)

May we, the B’nei 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 and that the expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of three years ago. 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 prevent Chas V’Challila 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 Al’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 Va’etchanan 5777: Consolation? Maintaining Hope and Persistence After Amona and Twelve Years After Gush Katif Expulsion and Governmental Deceptions?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Friday, July 28th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Va’etchanan is being sponsored by Ari and Rifka Stern of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for the success of their children in all their endeavors. To the Stern family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses and good wishes.

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

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Va’etchanan 5777: Consolation? Maintaining Hope and Persistence After Amona and Twelve Years After Gush Katif Expulsion and Governmental Deceptions?

by Moshe Burt

The Haftorah for our Parsha begins:

“Nachamu, Nachamu Ami yomar Elokeichem” — “Comfort, comfort my people — says your G’d.” (Yishaiya, 40:1)

This sentiment seems to be silent, but yet a theme of Parsha Va’etchanan.

But, even now, consolation: a full twelve years after the Gush Katif Expulsion — twelve years after Jew expelled his fellow Jews from their homes on Divinely ordained Jewish land in easily the worst post-Sho’a pogrom of our generations? A repeat expulsion from Amona and other expulsions of Jews from their homes in Eretz Yisrael in between: Shabbos Nachamu? One wonders how long it really took B’nai Yisrael to console ourselves after each of the destructions, the persecutions throughout our history. One could wonder whether the term Nachamu – consolation could, in reality, be a euphemism for convenient amnesia/ forgetting just as the Sho’a raises memories too uncomfortable, unwelcome for those who R’ Meir Kahane z”l coined as “comfortable Jews” – comfortable Israelis.

(Note: When referring to the Gush Katif Expulsion, this author includes as well, those evicted from the four towns in the Shomron at the same time.)

Twelve years later, the disbelief and the hurt continues to be too fresh, too raw, too festering, too agonizing for those of us who acted on behalf of our Gush Katif brethren. And the pain of the past three years of the ongoing Islamic Terrorism War on Us on OUR Land — the Talmudei Chachamim murdered in the Shul in Har Nof, the young teenage girl bludgeoned as she slept in her bed in Kiryat Arba, the overturned auto of the Rabbi who was murdered and the Rebbetzin seriously injured on an Erev Shabbos on a road in Har Hevron, the Father and brothers murdered on an Erev Shabbos enroute to a venue for an Aufruf and more are all yet too freshly raw and festering, as a bellicose rhetoric by a government of equivocating and self-interested secular or so-called “religious” politicos amounts to nothing. Meanwhile, a soldier is prosecuted, persecuted, imprisoned to making sure that an fatally injured terrorist, who killed another soldier, was in fact dead.

In the beginning of Parsha, Moshe Rabbeinu recalls for the B’nai Yisrael how he entreated Hashem for permission to cross the Jordan River but that his request was denied. Instead, he was consoled by viewing the Land from Mount Pisgah. (L’lmod Ul’Lamed – Parsha Va’etchanan, page 161).

R’ Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” (page 390), renders translation of Sefer Devarim, Perek 3, posuk 25, Moshe’s prayer to Hashem, and comments citing Ibn Ezra:

“Allow me please to go to the other side and I will see the good Land which is on the other side of the Jordan, this good mountain and the Levonon.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 3, posuk 25)

Ibn Ezra (verse 24) writes: The purpose of this section of Torah is to enable us to cherish The Land of Israel.

If the Land of Israel will be dear to us, we will observe the Almighty’s commandments to prevent our being exiled from it.

….Failure to keep the Torah’s commandments in Eretz Yisrael implies a lack of love for the land.

R’ Pliskin also notes (“Growth Through Torah”, page 389) citing Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz (Daas Torah: Breish’t, page 187):

…The numerical value of… Va’etchanan… amounts to 515. Moshe prayed to the Almighty, say the Sages, as many prayers as the numeric value of Va’etchanan. So strong was Moshe’s desire to enter the Holy Land.

The principle we see is that the way to elevation is persistence and stubbornness. In spiritual matters one needs to adopt the attitude, “I don’t care about anything else. This is matter is crucial and I’ll keep trying and trying.”

Moshe Rabbeinu then recalls for the Am the trials of B’nai Yisrael in Bamidbar and enumerates:

“…The decrees and… the ordinances that I teach you to perform, so that you may live, and you will come and possess the Land that Hashem, the G’d of your forefathers, gives you.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 4, posuk 1)

Later in our Parsha, Moshe Rabbeinu provides further explanation of the laws concerning the Cities of Refuge (Irei Miklat), first enunciated in parshat Masei (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 35).

Shem Mishmuel (by R’ Shmuel Bornstein, as translated R’ Zvi Belovski, pages 380-382) indicates that the laws regarding Cities of Refuge connect with Moshe Rabbeinu’s recitation of “the decrees and… the ordinances” to express that there is hope and consolation even for the accidental murderer who has lost his life force and must stay in a City of Refuge to avoid the deceased’s avenger.

Shem Mishmuel expresses that the Cities of Refuge signify to B’nai Yisrael that despite whatever travails may occur in the future, they can rise above their challenges and feel consolation in their hope. This includes whatever level the generation entering Eretz Yisrael may have been on visa-vi the generation which left Mitzrayim and who were witness to Hashem’s myriad of Miracles and yet transgressed with the Golden Calf (Egel Zahav), the Spies (Miraglim) and with various rebellions in Bamidbar, that they, and succeeding generations should never despair and lose hope. This should be of significance to those who subscribe to this Parshat HaShevua list and who live in Beit Shemesh, one of the locations designated by Hashem as a City of Refuge.

Shem Mishmuel notes:

“The very existence of the Irei Miklat and the laws surrounding them have a clear implication: there is always hope for the future.”

And after the destruction of the First and Second Beit HaMikdash, the starving, the famine, the persecutions, the expulsions and inquisitions, the Sho’a: there was comfort and consolation that one day, the B’nai Yisrael would be redeemed and returned to our former state; a people in it’s land with it’s Beit HaMikdash for all time.

But it would seem that this comfort, hope and consolation would have had to be an evolution as Jewish life, in whatever venue that they resided, in whatever generation, eventually stabilized.

Back in Philadelphia, years ago in the old country, a Holocaust story was told of how Nazis confronted a group of Chassidim:

The Nazis rousted and harrassed the Chassidim, telling them “dance Chassidim, dance and sing!” And the Chassidim were silent. Again, the Nazis accosted them, “Chassidim, dance and sing!” Then, the Nazis aimed their rifles, “Chassidim, dance and sing, or we will kill you!”

At first, slowly, muted, nervously, a niggun with words was heard faintly. The niggun and the words grew in volume as the Chassidim began to dance. “Mir Villen zei Ibber Leiben, Ibber Leiben, Ibber Leiben, Mir Villen zei Ibber Leiben…” “We will outlive you!”

Yes, we have outlived every nation, every vile personality which put upon B’nai Yisrael and so, we should, in theory, be comforted. And we have outlived the presidency of Hussein Obama and will outlive his Iranian Ayatolah buddies and Iran’s nuclear machinations, the EU, the BDS movement, the “extremely careless”, possibly traitorous, self-enriching Clintons etc., as well as the rashayim among us.

But we must take strength from the Torah’s enunciation of the Irei Miklat and never despair or lose hope that we can rise above contemporary challenges, despite the despots — externally or within, and feel consolation.

Rav Zev Leff provides a lesson for all Observant Jews with his citing of Michtav Eliyahu and his comments in a Machon Daniel “MD Torah Weekly” on our Parshat a number of years ago about why Gedolim are taken from us, and how this could provide hope and consolation for us after the mourning of Tisha B’Av:

We must ask ourselves: Why are the gedolim taken? If Hashem wants to teach us… and not hurt us, then leave the Gedolim. We need them to lead us, to teach us. Michtav Eliyahu says that’s exactly the reason:

People do mitzvot by rote, approaching Torah superficially, without seeing the holiness of Torah and life. They rely on the Gedolim to think and feel for them. …to get a bracha from [them]…. So Hashem takes the Godol, and then we no longer have anyone to do it for us. We are forced to think for ourselves. Then there’s hope that we can be cured. You have to learn from the Godol how to be a godol yourself.

The greatness of a Godol is that he’s flesh and blood. Where are the places… we go to remember them?

…Their graves, not… their batei midrashim. Why? To know that they were flesh and blood. But that flesh and blood was a Moloch Hashem… And if I know that another human being like me became a Moloch Hashem, then why can’t I become one too? But if I make him into a superhuman, what does he have to do with me? I am not super human. I cannot apply it to my life. If the Chofetz Chayim was a human being, with the same tongue and teeth, the same mouth for speaking loshen hora that I have, and he could control it, then maybe so can I. But if he was not an ordinary human being like me, then it has nothing to do with me.

The point that Rav Leff seems to be making which is both pertinent to our Parshat Va’etchanan and to Shabbos Nachamu is that our hope and consolation must come from within our collective, unified selves. We need to do mitzvot, from the heart and with consistent fervor, as Aaron HaKohen served in lighting the Menorah daily in the Beit HaMikdash. Our tefillot need to be with intent — whether in an Aliyah b’Torah or with the thrice daily Aleinu — each and every word carefully pronounced. We need to look to Tzadikkim as a paradigm of how we must act and interact with each other — V’ahavtah L’rei’cha Komocha: wanting for our fellow Jew as we would want for ourselves, rather than looking our noses down at our fellow observant Jew as being less so because his Rabbanim and learned traditions may not be precisely like ours, or defaming secular Jews as “gentiles” and preferring to sit in government with Arabs rather than seculars who are their brethren.

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his Sefer “Growth through Torah” cites from our Parsha Sefer Devarim Perek 4, posuk 5:

“See that I have taught you statutes and laws as Hashem, My G’d, commanded me, to do so in the midst of the land.”

R’ Pliskin then adds (“Growth through Torah”, page 390-391):

That is, you should live an elevated life among other people…. True sanctity and perfection is to live among people and behave both towards Hashem and towards your fellow men in a manner consistent with Torah values. (Arvai Nachal)

…The true test… is when you have to deal with others. Only when you are in the company of other people can you fulfill all the aspects of Torah.

And so we see, just as with the Chassidim, who under Nazi duress, began to dance and sing, the Jews will yet survive the downfall of vile, corruptible post-zionist governance. The Jews will yet survive and bring the sanctity and elevation of the Beit Medrash outside, into interactions with their fellow Jews b’derech, throughout Eretz Yisrael:

“Mir Villen zei Ibber Leiben, Ibber Leiben, Ibber Leiben, Mir Villen zei Ibber Leiben…” “We will outlive you!”

However, it seems to stand to reason that nachama: consolation, hope is insufficient of itself, without acting in real, concrete Jewish ways — spiritually with kindnesses, mitzvot of intent, and as a national unity for the protection, security and preservation of the kedusha and sanctity of Jewish lives on the entirety of OUR Land, and wherever Jews reside throughout the rest of the world. Ultimately, with Hashem’s Help, the righteous will prevail.

Yes, we will outlive you, Bibi, Bennett, both evil Ehuds, Bogie, Livni-Herzog, Lapid, etc. (running the gamut of the vast majority of politicians from ALL sectors), and yeah, the Obamanater, the crooked and corrupt Clintons, and the Iranian Ayatolahs too! We, those Deemed (with a capital “D”) to be among the righteous, and Hashem will win out in the end. “Nachamu, Nachamu Ami yomar Elokeichem” — “Comfort, comfort my people — says your G’d.”

B’Ezrat Hashem, as we pray and hope for each year, that the Tisha B’av just past FINALLY be the last Tzom for B’nai Yisrael.

May we, the B’nei 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 and that the expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of three years ago. 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 prevent Chas V’Challila 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 Al’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 Devarim 5777: Sefer Devarim, Tefillin, Unity and Distinction of Halachot, Mussar From Bias, Disdain and Sinat Chinom With Approach of Tisha B’av

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Friday, July 21st, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Devarim is being sponsored by Mattis and Marla Sklar of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for a full and complete Refuah Shlaima for Matis’ Father Shmuel Chaim ben Shaina. To the Sklar family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses and good wishes.

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

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And 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 Devarim 5777: Sefer Devarim, Tefillin, Unity and Distinction of Halachot Mussar From Bias, Disdain and Sinat Chinom With Approach of Tisha B’av

by Moshe Burt

A number of years ago, Rav Aba Wagensberg spoke out in a shiur that Sefer Devarim represents Moshe Rabbeinu’s Mussar to B’nai Yisrael as the time of his death drew near.

Rabbi Wagensberg gave over the thought that the B’nai Yisrael, after all of the rebellions, all of the contention, all of the failures which the rebellions and contention wrought, after the blatantly false accusations of nepotism hurled by segments of the Am at Moshe and Aaron HaKohen and more, Finally: came to the collective, unequivocal realization that Moshe Rabbeinu, now in his final days on earth, was indeed Hashem’s anointed — the undisputed leader and that his words are the words of Hashem.

In fact, R’ Wagensberg wrote in an email vort last year on our Parshat Devarim:

The Yid Hakadosh (Rebbi Ya’akov Yitchak Rabinowitz, 1766-1813, Pshischa, Poland) said that his favorite Mussar sefer was Sefer Devarim. So attached was the Yid Hakadosh to Sefer Devarim that he read several verses from it each day of the year.

He explained the reason why. He said that Sefer Devarim has a huge advantage over any other Mussar sefer out there. This advantage can be understood in the following way.

It is more beneficial to hear rebuke from a living person than it is to read it from a book. This is because when a person admonishes another from a place of true care, love, and concern, we can then apply the age old adage which states, “Words which come from the heart enter into the heart” (preface to Likuttei Amarim).

This feeling is absent when reading reproof from a text.

This is why it more beneficial to study Mussar from Sefer Devarim than from any other source. This is because the Divine Presence spoke through Moshe Rabbenu’s throat (Zohar, Pinchas, pg. 232a). Since G’d is eternal, it is as if Moshe Rabbenu is still speaking to us right now. The words of Sefer Devarim are emanating from Moshe’s heart right now. As such, they are penetrating our hearts this very moment. This live rebuke is something which is missing from other Mussar books.

This is why the opening verse of Sefer Devarim says, “These are the words that Moshe spoke to ALL of Israel” (Dt. 1:1). This does not just mean that Moshe spoke these words to all the Jews that were alive at that time, but it means that Moshe spoke these words to ALL the Jewish people throughout the generations.

Every time we open a Sefer Devarim to study from, it is as if we are streaming it live, with Moshe Rabbenu speaking to us directly.

This is why the Yid Hakadosh preferred Sefer Devarim over any other Mussar work, to the point that he would study a few verses from it every single day. When a Jew studies Sefer Devarim, he will not walk away empty handed. Rather, it will have a positive impact on him by opening his heart.

Not only does Sefer Devarim have the capacity to open the heart, but it even has the ability of opening the heavens.

Shem Mishmuel (Selections on the weekly parshiyot and festivals rendered to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski) comments on our Parsha (page 373):

This book is qualitatively different from the other four. Chazal tell us (in Megillah, page 31b) that the curses in Sefer Devarim were said by Moshe himself. We may assume… that the material in Devarim, while of course presented by Hashem to Moshe, contains more human input, however slight, than the previous four books.

Perhaps it can be considered an in-between stage, bridging the gap between the main Written Torah… and the Oral Torah. Devarim contains elements of both — it is the written word of Hashem…, but with an element of human content, like [oral] Torah.

R’ Wagensberg also related to Sefer Devarim, as distinguished from the previous four s’forim, in an analogy regarding the order in which one puts on and removes his tefillin. We learn that when one begins his morning tefillot, he dons the tefillin shel yad (tefillin for the arm) first, and only afterwards does he don the tefillin shel rosh (tefillin for the head). At the conclusion of davening, he removes the shel rosh first, and then the shel yad.

For forty years, Am Yisrael travelled through Bamidbar (the desert), and now they stood at the cusp of their entry into Eretz Yisrael and day-to-day living and applying Torah in Our Land. In the same way, when one begins to pray and to learn, he dons tefillin shel yad and then the tefillin shel rosh, when he leaves the Shul or Beit Medrash, he removes his shel rosh first and, only after, does he remove his shel yad, the significance being his application of the tefillot and learning of Shul and Beit Medrash to his actions and interactions with his fellows during the day-to-day living in the world outside.

The tefillin sequence equates with a person’s active learning of Jewish law (Halacha) and Jewish history in the previous four s’forim of Chumash, and then in Sefer Devarim, receiving Mussar concerning the practical, day-to-day real-time, real-life applications of what has been learned. In essence, the donning of the shel yad first, and the removal of it last equates with applying in the world outside what has been learned in Beit Knesset and/or the Beit Medrash.

Israel National News reported two years ago that a prominent politician and member of a so-called “religious party” asserted the following:

“Any Jew who observes the Torah and commandments is for us a Jew… A Reform Jew, once he does not follow the religion of Israel – then let us say, there is a problem. I cannot allow myself to say that he is Jewish”…

The report continues:

Orthodox Jews – who strictly adhere to the laws of the Torah – view Reform and other non-Orthodox theologies as illegitimate, due to its departure from Jewish law and even rejection of the Divinity of the Torah.

Even so, [the member] comments that Jews who merely identify as “Reform” should not be considered Jewish have no basis in any interpretation of Jewish law.

[The member] did attempt to reach out to Reform Jews in the same interview, adding: “These are Jews who took a wrong turn along the road and we need to ensure that every Jew will go back into the fold of Judaism and accept everyone with love and joy… we would like for all of those Jews to go back to Judaism according to halacha [Jewish law]. That is all.”

It seems that the politician’s comment, as reported, in the second paragraph can be taken in either of two ways: 1) That there is no basis in any interpretation of Jewish law for those who identify as “Reform” not to be considered Jewish, or 2) That Jews who merely identify as “Reform” should not be considered Jews. Given the poor quality of writing, editing and proofreading currently existing in this particular media platform, the report cited, under either interpretation, the politician’s attempt at clarification was kind of a lame caveat considering his initial statement — words which should never have been uttered in the first place.

And again, just a few weeks ago, another prominent politician and member of another so-called “religious party” spoke, during the heat of debate over pending Conversion Law legislation and the Reform movement’s criticism of it, as well as prime minister Netanyahu’s indefinite freezing of the planned addition of a mixed-gender prayer space at the Kotel, saying:

“Reform Jews are delegitimizing Judaism,” [the member] told Army Radio. “I would be willing to sit with a Palestinian, but not with a Reform Jew.”

[The member] argued that the Status Quo arrangement on religion and state was unworkable, and is in need of an overhaul.

“The Status [Quo] is bad, because it gets violated over and over again; the moment a religious Jew is unable to observe Shabbat, Judaism in Israel is undermined.”

Are these politicians representing their respective “religious parties” expressing that any Jew not Orthodox is not a Jew? This author always learned: “Born a Jew, Always a Jew.” Reform Judaism is an oxymoron. Yes, non-Orthodox theologies ARE illegitimate, delegitimize Judaism in the eyes of the nations and do not represent Judaism’s true form and mission, But Reform Jews, Chilonim (secular Jews) ARE still Jews.

In the years prior to Aliyah this author and his Jewish boss back in Philadelphia had several discussions about his having encountered certain of our fellow Jews who would make such an inference about a non-observant Jew. This author would always respond as never hearing of such a thing and not believing in it for a second. But then again, this author became Ba’al Teshuva at age forty-two. In this author’s humble opinion, the remarks of the aforementioned members of these so-called “religious parties” represent divisive sinat chinom unbridled, unchained.

The Manchester Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Yehudah Zev Segal, Shlita, z”l writes on Parshat Devarim in his sefer, “Inspiration and Insight” Discourses on the Weekly Parashah (page 252);

A prime method of uprooting this devastating trait [sinat chinom] is by striving to fulfill the mitzvah of V’Ahavta L’rei’echa Kamocha, to love one’s fellow Jew as oneself (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 19, posuk 18). Ramban… understands this commandment as instructing us to desire only good for our neighbor in all facets of his existence, just as we desire only good for ourselves, be it with regard to material needs and acquisitions, honor, or attainment of wisdom.

One who lives up to these words of Ramban, … will surely be found guiltless with regard to sinat chinom.

Every believing Jew, whatever his level, must take on day-to-day real-time, real-life reality application of his learning, and translate it into his own righteous leadership mantle within the body of B’nai Yisrael, but without the contentiousness of a million generals.

Application of this individual righteous leadership mantle and of spirituality and learning from Shul and from Beit Medrash to the world outside seems meaning to deal with one’s fellow Jews, at every level, sincerely, justly and righteously, and without bias and disdain.

But, even as we need to treat our fellow Jews sincerely, justly and righteously, without bias, sinat chinom and disdain, thus creating a national, cultural unity among all Jews of all religious strains, as well as with secular Jews, we can’t achieve this unity through a possible benign, look-the-other-way governmental attitude which enables communal, public desecration of Shabbos, whether by way of so-called “private” companies providing transportation on Shabbos to a public, or via any other action enabling such a desecration, as a public, by any segment of the population.. After all, we ARE and aspire to be a state of the Jews.

Similarly, creating a national, cultural unity among all Jews by treating our fellows sincerely, justly and righteously, without bias, disdain and sinat chinom does not mean governance condoning a certain group’s parade in the name of “solidarity” when that group’s appearance, actions and agenda are halachically abominable.

Yet a certain ex-government minister Gidon Saar tweeted this comment on last year’s Jerusalem gay pride parade…:

“The gay pride parade in Jerusalem is a symbol of solidarity, encouragement of tolerance, and protection of the freedom of every man,” Saar tweeted.

And national, cultural unity through treating our fellow Jews sincerely, justly and righteously, without bias, sinat chinom and disdain, is not achieved through physically or verbally abusing religious soldiers on the streets or in Beit Knesset.

These are lessons that many Jews, and particularly politicians claiming religious stripes, need to internalize and take deeply to heart if we are to indeed pray and hope for, that B’Ezrat Hashem, this Tisha B’av FINALLY be the last Tzom for B’nai Yisrael.

May we, the B’nei 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 and that the expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of three years ago. 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 prevent Chas V’Challila 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 Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos, and Fast Easy on Yom Sh’lishi Haba — Tisha B’av!!

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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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Parshiyot Matos/Masei 5777: Am Yisrael Fights Hashem’s Wars and Connects with Eretz Yisrael — and Today?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Friday, July 14th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Matos-Masei is sponsored by Yosef Moshe and Chana Rosenberg of Ramat Beit Shemesh, dedicated for Yosef Moshe’s Bar Mitzvah Parsha Matos and for the health and wellbeing of their children and family. To the Rosenberg 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 forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

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

Parshiyot Matos/Masei 5777: Am Yisrael Fights Hashem’s Wars and Connects with Eretz Yisrael — and Today?

by, Moshe Burt

Our twin-bill Parshiyot Matos/Masei relates the events of the legion of Am Yisrael going to fight Hashem’s wars against the kings of Midian and the evil Bila’am, the allocation and distribution of the spoils of victorious battle, preparations for B’nei Yisrael to enter Eretz Yisrael, with the battles that will ensue upon entry, and delineation of each Shevet’s (Tribe’s) portion in the Land as well as designation the cities of refuge. There is also a review of the liberation from Mitzriyim, the crossing of the Yam Suf (the Reed Sea) and B’nei Yisrael’s travels in Bamidbar. Our Parshiyot also indicate B’nai Yisrael’s belated unequivocal acceptance of Moshe as their Divinely Annointed Leader as well as expressing the ideal of a Jew’s love of, dedication to and connection with Eretz Yisrael.

We learn, near the end of Parshat Chukas, of Aaron HaKohen Godol’s passing and Elazar’s ascension to Kohen Godol. (per Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 20, posukim 23-29)

Parshiyot Balak and Pinchas seem to represent a watershed event in the history of B’nai Yisrael. As noted in Parshat Pinchas, it appears that 1/3 of B’nai Yisrael died either by the hand of the Judges, or by way of the plague which struck some 24,000 Jewish men who partook in the Midianite/Moabite bazaar and the bizarre mode of avodah zora: the Ba’al Peor. The forays of Jewish men at the bazaar in Shittim and cohabitation of Zimri and Kozbi represented watershed and rock-bottom events and things couldn’t have gotten much worse. There was only one way for B’nai Yisrael to go from there — Up!

We saw earlier, in Parshat Chukas:

“Hashem spoke to Moshe and Aharon saying: This is the decree of Torah, which Hashem has commanded…” [Chukas HaTorah: This is the basic decree or statute of Torah] (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 19, posukim 1-2 as rendered in the Artscroll Stone Chumash, page 839)

We learn that Torah uses this loshen in only one other place: in our Parshat Matos (Sefer Bamidbar Perek 31, posuk 21) where Elazar, now Kohen Godol, instructs the men of the army regarding laws of Koshering utensils as they went to war. (New Hirsch Chumash, page 636)

Torah relates both Moshe’s instructions and describes the legion going off to war, winning and the extent of the spoils:

“Moshe spoke to the people, saying, ‘Arm men from among yourselves for the legion that they may be against Midian to inflict Hashem’s vengeance against Midian….’” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 31, posuk 3)

“Moshe sent them… and Pinchas ben Elazar the Kohen… and the sacred vessels and the trumpetsfor sounding in his hand. They massed against Midian, as Hashem had commanded Moshe, and killed every male. They killed… the five kings on Midian; and Bila’am son of Beor they slew with the sword. The B’nei Yisrael took captive the women of Midian and their young children; and all their cattle and flocks and all their wealth they took as spoils.” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 31, posukim 6-9)

We learn that upon the legion’s return from battle, Moshe expressed his displeasure with his commanders regarding certain captives:

“Moshe was angry with the commanders of the army… Moshe said to them, ‘Did you let every female live? Behold — they caused the B’nei Yisrael, by the word of Bila’am, to commit betrayal against Hashem regarding the matter of Peor, and the plague occurred in the assembly of Hashem. So now, kill every male among the young children, and every woman fit to know a man by lying with a male, you shall kill. But all the young children among the women who have not known lying with a male, you may keep alive for yourselves.’” Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 31, posukim 14-19)

In our Parshat Matos, Sh’vatim Gad and Reuven approached Moshe Rabbeinu regarding their desire to graze their flocks and settle their families on the East side of the Yarden. To this, Moshe Rabbeinu replied, “Shall your brothers go off to war, and shall you sit here?” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 32, posuk 6)

Moshe was quite angry at the two Sh’vatim. He was concerned lest Gad and Reuven would avoid taking part in the wars for Eretz Yisrael, that other Sh’vatim might follow suit and B’nai Yisrael might be condemned to wandering in the desert another 40 years. (per Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 32, posukim 6-15)

There are those commentators who hold that the hearts of Gad and Reuven were in the right place and that they had every intention, of their own volition, of taking part in the wars and, in fact, preceding the rest of B’nai Israel into battle.

There were other commentators who viewed the desire of Gad and Reuven to settle on the East side of the Yarden as representing greed, a secular approach to Eretz Yisrael and a tendency toward separatism vs. communal responsibility.

Regarding Moshe Rabbeinu’s response to the pledge of Sh’vatim Gad and Reuven to fight in the upcoming war; “then you shall be vindicated from Hashem and from Israel,” Rabbi Artscroll cites Yoma (38a) on Perek 32, posuk 22 (as rendered in this paragraph):

It is not enough for one to know that one’s actions are proper in Hashem’s eyes. One must also act in such a way as to not engender suspicion on the part of human beings.

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 harass 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 and sent out a couple of years ago at this time by that kiruv legend, Jeff Seidel regarding Parsha Pinchas:

Parshat Pinchas relates a story (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 27, posukim1-12) 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?

Rav Moshe thus concludes that if a person truly loves something, they’d want it to be theirs, and no one else’s. This is 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 understand’s R’Moshe, and as the title implies; passionate love of Eretz Yisrael = jealously possessing it as our own, rather than 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 some who seem merely to 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 managed to brainwash, indoctrinate and force inculcate the masses with the shekar of “Land for peace(sic)” while depending for cover on false, fake PA purported census/demographics in their propagandizing despite this fake data being refuted by independent studies. They endeavor to indoctrinate the populus with inter-faith “dialogue, the “rights” of one’s enemies — either through attempting to erode and eradicate Torah in the land, or through reinforcement of the engrained Israeli mindset of “ein ma’alah sot” (there’s nothing we can do).

And so, because we seem not strong enough to possess the Land in its totality, 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.” We see this posuk indeed playing out in our days. Will our collective weakness bring Hashem to actuate “what had meant to do to them, I shall do to you”? Those of us who cleave to Eretz Yisrael yearn for the day of true Jewish leadership and sovereignty in the entirety of Eretz Yisrael.

May we, the B’nei 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 and that the expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of three years ago. 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 prevent Chas V’Challila 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 Al’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 5777: Halachic Fine Lines Concerning Pinchas and the Zimri/Kosbi Co-Habitation

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, July 8th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week,our Parshat HaShevua Pinchas is sponsored by R’ Joel & Shelly Padowitz and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for Hatslucha for himself and his family. To the Padowitz 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 a Parshat HaShevua.

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Pinchas 5777: Halachic Fine Lines Concerning Pinchas and the Zimri/Kosbi Co-Habitation

by Moshe Burt

We learn from Midrashim on Parshat 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; cited by Rabbi Artscroll (Stone Chumash page 876, commentary on 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) renders our Parshat’s opening posukim and notes:

“Hashem spoke to Moshe saying: ‘Pinchas, son of Elazar, son of Aaron HaKohen, turned back my wrath from upon the B’nei Yisrael in that he was zealous for My sake among them, so that I did not consume the B’nei Yisrael in My jealousy.’” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 25, posukim 10-11)

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.

R’ Shimshon Raphael Hirsch Z”l (the new Hirsch Chumash published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Daniel Haberman) discusses 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)

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…

It seems strange that Zimri, the leader of Shevet (tribe of) Shimon, the Shimon who with Levi, acted against Shechem and the Shechemites after Shechem violated their sister Dina, would now act and condone co-habitation with other than B’not Yisrael.

Rav Pliskin then renders our Parshat’s third posuk and cites Rabbi Naftoli Tzvi Berlin (the Netziv) who commented (“Growth Through Torah”, page 359):

“Therefore say: I am giving him My covenant of peace.” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 25, posuk 12)

“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)

From Torah’s narrative, there is no doubt that Pinchas acted l’Shem Shemayim (for the sake of Hashem) by impaling Zimri and Kozbi and so merited the Kehuna and eternal life. However, there seems to be a point which this author has not previously focused on closely and seems in need of clarity. According to Halacha, as explained by Rabbi Henach Leibowitz in his sefer “Majesty of Man” on our Parshat Pinchas (page 247):

When a Jew sins with a non-Jewish woman in front of at least ten people, the Torah allows an individual to take action — “a zealot may kill him” (Sanhedrin 82a)…. One who is so determined to uphold the honor of Hashem that he cannot let evil exist before him — is permitted to take the law into his own hands.

…Note that Pinchas, who so wanted to carry out the will of Hashem and bring the sinners to justice, did not run in a heated passion to kill Zimri and Kozbi. He first went to inquire of Moshe what the law was and only then did he take action.

The Zimri/Kozbi liaison had to be witnessed in progress by a minyan to halachically mandate their deaths.

But, after Zimri brought Kozbi into the camp and in front of Moshe, they were sequestered in Zimri’s tent which was surrounded by guards. Do we therefore understand that the act of bringing Kozbi into the camp and confronting Moshe were, themselves sufficient witnessing and intent to justify action without the minyan actually witnessing them in the act of co-habitation? Or did the act of Pinchas impaling them both by their members with Moshe’s spear and showing them before the camp, in their impaled state — linked together in the act of co-habitation, constitute proper satisfaction of halachic witnessing and thus mandate their death?

What is meant is that this author has always understood that Pinchas went into the tent (under a rouse as tent was guarded by others from Shavet Shimon) and impaled Zimri and Kozbi in the tent and then displayed them to the public their impaled state — in the act — at the point of the spear. Do we understand this public display as satisfying the halachic parameters (their act witnessed by a minyan) for the mandate of death? Or do we understand that Zimri’s bringing Kozbi into the camp and confronting Moshe, and Pinchas’ impalment of them, taken together justify the mandate of death “in the act”? What we seem to have here is a fine legal point. But it in no way diminishes the meritorious action of Pinchas.

On another point, were there mandated warnings to be issued, as with the wife about to sequester herself with someone other than her husband? Or did Moshe’s halachic ruling to Zimri regarding such co-habitation constitute sufficient warning, if such warning was even necessary?

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.

What the Lubavitcher Rebbe appears to be describing is another legal point which is not discussed by R’ Leibowitz, the concept known under the loshen; Kannoi Pogim Bo — that a zealot witnessing a co-habitation between a Jewish man and a non-Jewish woman may slay them both only provided that the slaying occurs as they co-habit. (bottom of Sanhedrin 81b through top of 82a) Therefore, this author understands that there are apparently two halachot concerning the sin of such co-habitation. One halacha in the case where such co-habitation is witnessed by 10 or more men, and the other where a single zealot witnesses the co-habitation where the parties involved in the co-habitation are sequestered, i.e., in the case of Zimri and Kosbi, where they co-habited in the privacy of Zimri’s tent, and Pinchas’ intervention, killing them both spearing them by their respective members.

May we, the B’nei 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 and that the expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of three years ago. 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 prevent Chas V’Challila 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 Al’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 5777: A Different Take on Toleration of “Novel, Misleading Ideologies” in Bamidbar and Today?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, July 1st, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat HaShevua, Balak is sponsored by Mutti and Michelle Frankel and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh in honor of the recent Chassuna of their son Tuvya to Chana (Lieberman) and the recent Birthday of their son Eliyahu. To the Frankel 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 a Parshat HaShevua.

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Balak 5777: A Different Take on Toleration of “Novel, Misleading Ideologies” in Bamidbar and Today?

by Moshe Burt

One can’t discuss Parshat Balak without Bila’am and his donkey. Although our Parshat is named for Balak, the king of Moav, renowned also as a mighty warrior, Balak played largely a supporting role.

It sure seems that Bila’am’s actions toward his donkey while enroute to meet Balak, and the resultant historical she-donkey’s monologue 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.

After the Jews had defeated the Amorite, Balak and Moabite people feared Am Yisrael. (Ramban, as related in commentary at the opening of the Parshat in the Artscroll Stone Chumash, page 857)

Our Pashat opens by recording:

“Balak, son of Zippor saw all that Yisrael did to the Amorite. Moav became every frightened of the people becuse it was numerous… Moav said to the elders of Midian: ‘Now the congregation will lick up our entire surroundings, as an ox licks up the greenery of the field.’ Balak… was king of Moav at that time.”

“He sent messengers to Bilaam son of Pethor…” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 22, posukim 2-5 as rendered by the Artscroll Stone Chumash)

Our Parshat informs us that as Bila’am traveled on his donkey to meet Balak, three times a moloch (angel) blocked the donkey’s way, and three times Bila’am struck the donkey trying to force it to continue. After Bila’am’s third attack, the donkey miraculously spoke:

“Hashem opened the mouth of the she-donkey, and it said to Bila’am, ‘What have I done to you, that you hit me these three times.’” (Perek 22, posuk 26b as rendered in the Artscroll Stone Chumash)

Sefer Shem Mishmuel (translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski), pages 347-351 comments citing Rashi who quotes Chazal:

It is noteworthy that 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.

“These three times.” (Bamidbar Perek 22, posuk 28) — It was a hint that he wanted to uproot the Jewish nation, who celebrate three pilgrim festivals each year.

There are many lessons that we draw from this sudden chain of events; Bila’am’s arrogance, his bias against Am Yisrael which drove him, even when his donkey’s path was blocked, and his deliberate attempts to circumvent and override the Will of Hashem in attempting to curse Am Yisrael. In the incident with his donkey, Bila’am was unable to see or perceive the obstacle, the moloch, which stood in the way of the donkey’s path. There is a profound lesson here for us today as the media, intelligencia, academia and political elites attempt to subvert the masses, create biases among the various sectors of Am Yisrael and orchestrate actions by successive Israeli governments such as to jeopardize the nation’s security and sovereignty.

Shem Mishmuel adds this from Chazal (page 351):

Bila’am wished to curse Klal Yisrael and destroy their ability to observe the shalosh regalim [the three festivals], which so contradicted his very nature. Hashem subverted his evil designs, and he was forced to bless them time and again, strengthening their ability to observe the very mitzvah he hated most.

And just as Bila’am and his she-donkey might have inspired the TV creation of “Mr. Ed”, so too we can look at Bila’am’s hatching the plot of the Ba’al Peor and sense it’s possible parallels and analogy within contemporary perceptions, actions and rationale amongst the institutions, intelligencia and governance of Medinat Yisrael, as well as, yes — certain streams of liberalized “religious thought” and misguided political entities promoting national cultural “unity” by way of looking the other way regarding compromise of elementary, fundamental Halacha — Judaism 101, if you will.

We learn in our Parsha, that after all of Bila’am’s foibles with his donkey, and having utterly failed in his machinations to bring Hashem to curse B’nai Yisrael, Bila’am left Balak with a scheme to seduce Jewish men to avodah zora by way of immorality (co-habitation), thus evoking Hashem’s wrath. The resultant plague killed 24,000 Jewish men and was only ended by Pinchas’ zealous act in slaying Zimri and Kosbi in one stroke of his spear.

The Midrash Says (by Rabbi Moshe Weissman, Parsha Balak, pages 350-351) indicates that Bila’am’s Ba’al Peor scheme began by attracting eruv rav — the Mitzri “groupies” who accompanied the Jews out of Mitzrayim. But, then the attraction lured members of Shevet Shimon. The account states that Hashem revealed those who sinned by removing The Clouds of Glory from above the guilty ones.

The Midrash Says (page 351) describes how:

….It was for these people Pinchas later prayed and whose deaths he averted.

The members of the Tribe of Shimon were very distressed because many of their kinsmen had been sentenced to death. They came before their nassi, Zimri, and reproached him, “How can you keep silent in the face of so many deaths?”

Zimri reacted by brazenly challenging Moshe in public.

Zimri, the prince of Shavet Shimon and the most prominent individual to take part in this act of physical lust, displayed a distorted and false perception and rationale in bringing Kosbi into the Camp and co-habitating with her before The Assembly.

R’Rafael Katzenellenbogen is cited in Studies in the Weekly Parsha, by Yehuda Nachshoni referring to 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.)

Zimri’s alleged “L’Shem Shemayim” model; bringing co-habitation with Moabite women into the camp of B’nai Yisrael lest men go looking for it outside, i.e., at the Midianite/Moabite Bazaar where the co-habitation was an enticement and seduction to the avodah zora Ba’al Pe’or, seemed a cover for his (Zimri’s) true motivations and intentions. Zimri’s “In your face, Moshe” demeanor appeared as motivated by lust for power, just as Korach’s true motivations were covered by rationale of accusation of nepotism against Moshe Rabbeinu and Aaron.

But perhaps we can’t entirely equate today’s attempts at incorporation of various alien practices into the camp of B’nai Yisrael with Zimri’s alleged “L’Shem Shemayim” model. R’ Katzenellenbogen’s understanding of Zimri’s actions of incorporating toleration of evil within the Camp of Israel, apparently for the sake of Shemayim, might have had some ostensibly outward well-meaning purpose of promoting a sense of unity among varying sectors of the Kehal.

Today’s either benign or activist attitudes of governmental and political leadership, as well as by the so-called intellectual elites, the progressives, academia, the media, etc. toward toleration as normal or new normal and attempted enforced incorporation of alien practices have no well-meaning purpose. Incorporating practices such as same-gender relationships, separation of religion and state, Shabbos desecration, civil marriage, proselytization of Jews away from Judaism, delegitimizing parts of our Divine Legacy — Eretz Yisrael and more into the camp of Am Yisrael appear as having but one purpose: dilution of all vestiges of Judaism and spirituality amongst Am Yisrael toward creation of an Israel, the state of all of its people rather than Hashem’s intent of Israel, a state of the Jews.

May we, the B’nei 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 and that the expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of three years ago. 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 prevent Chas V’Challila 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 Al’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 5777: The Importance of Chukim Despite Lacking Full Comprehension, and Their Role in Am Yisrael

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, June 24th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Parshat Chukas is being co-sponsored by Rabbi Harry and Judith Greenspan of Ramat Beit Shemesh, in memory of their parents, Falik ben Hertske, Miriam Ella bat Yisrael Eliezer HaCohen and Nachum ben Yosef and Janet bat Henry, all of blessed memory, and by an anonymous co-sponsor, also of Ramat Beit Shemesh. To the Greenspan family and our anonymous co-sponsor, many thanks for your co-sponsorships 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 forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And 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 5777: The Importance of Chukim Despite Lacking Full Comprehension, and Their Role in Am Yisrael

by Moshe Burt

Our Parshat opens:

“Hashem spoke to Moshe and Aharon saying: This is the decree of Torah, which Hashem has commanded…” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 19, posukim 1-2 as rendered in the Artscroll Stone Chumash, page 839)

R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, in the new Hirsch Chumash (pages 398-399) provides an even more powerful rendering of our opening posukim and comments:

“Hashem spoke to Moshe and Aharon, saying: This is a basic statute of the Teaching that Hashem has commanded.”

This mode of address to Moshe and Aharon indicates the importance of the subject matter that follows…

…Chukas HaTorah [This basic statute of Torah] — This expression occurs in only one other place in Scripture: in Sefer Bamidbar Perek 31, posuk 21 [Elazar, the Kohen, addressing the men of the army which had gone to war] (New Hirsch Chumash, page 636)

These opening posukim of our Parsha introduce the laws of the Parah Adumah, the Red Heffer whose ashes purify those who had become tamei (contaminated). However, in reality, the chukim of Torah, of Halachot whether 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), or Shatnes (not to wear fabrics with a mix of wool and linen), are but 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.

For example, we learn not to mix fish and meat. When we are served a first course of gefiltah fish, salmon, etc. on Shabbos, at a simcha, or at any meal, we make a separation between the fish dish and the next course of meat — a drink whether wine, some other alcoholic beverage, soda [pop] or even water to clear one’s palate of the fish taste before the meat course. We are told that among the most common understandings of this separation is for health reasons, although like chukim such as above and more, there are deeper understandings and rationales of which we lack knowledge.

A few years ago, this author received by email a D’var Torah for Parshat Shelach written by a Rabbi Yisrael Kaniel which can be seen as thoughts applying to our Parshat Chukas as well. Rabbi Kaniel is Associate Director for Religious Affairs and Manager of Operations at B’Ahavat Yisrael in Israel.

R’ Kaniel writes these powerful words:

It is said about the latter day Torah luminary R. Yaakov Kamenetsky that he was very exacting in adhering to the customs of his father and teachers. A story is told that his son once inquired why he did not eat cheese on Friday, to which he responded, “Because my father did not.” When his son pressed on as to why his grandfather did not eat cheese, R. Kamenetsky replied, “Probably because his father did not.” Just the fact that his father had a given custom was enough for R. Kamenetsky to continue that custom – whether he understood the reason or not. He relied on his father’s understanding and intelligence and accepted that as good enough reason to follow in his footsteps, even though it could be argued that he outshined his father in his level of erudition (see Yonason Rosenblum, Reb Yaakov, pp. 358 – 359).

R. Kamenetsky understood that his father was intelligent enough that if he did something, then there must have been a good reason and, even if he did not know it, it was good enough for him to accept. All the more so, should our ancestors in the desert have come to such a conclusion when it came to something related to them by G-d Himself. Tragically, however, that was not the case. Our ancestors were tripped up by their emotions and egos in the desert and suffered the consequences.

After seeing that the people He guided and led as if on the “wings of eagles” did not exercise enough discretion to trust in Him, G-d responded, “Have it your way.” Choosing then to follow their own thoughts and feelings rather than simply accepting the eminently thoughtful guidance of their Father in heaven brought them eventually to their “undoing,” so to speak.

As it is expected of us to respect and honor our Father in Heaven, we also are instructed in the Torah, in the Ten Commandments (Shemot 20:12), “Honor your father and your mother, so that your days will be lengthened upon the land that the L-rd your G-d gives you.” Rashi on this verse stresses, “If you will honor [them] your days will be lengthened, but if not they will be shortened.” Respecting and honoring one’s parents is not a matter to be taken lightly. In fact, one’s life can depend on it.

When G-d saw that the Children of Israel ignored His eminent advice, He told them, “Have it your way,” watching as they chose the wrong path, something that could have been avoided had they properly recognized the value of the Al-Mighty’s Word. The Children of Israel, unfortunately, suffered the consequences and their relationship with their Father in Heaven was damaged. When parents see that their children ignore their opinion, they too have no alternative but to say, “Have it your way,” and, unfortunately, what could have been a warm, helpful and productive long-lasting relationship can wither and suffer irreparable damage.

Ignoring G-d is obviously infinitely more severe, but, in each case, pitfalls can be avoided if one has the proper approach. Let us not pamper our egos or emotions at the expense of our intellects and common sense. Let us learn our lesson from the Torah and those who uphold it such as R. Kamenetsky and other Torah greats like him over the generations who showed great respect for their parents’ beings, actions and thoughts, even when they eventually outshined them. Let us not seek to have it “our way.” Let us only seek the “right way.” Let us seek proper counsel and let us truly respect that counsel. Let all of us learn to show the requisite sensitivity and respect, as well as gratitude and appreciation, to our parents and all the more so to G-d, and may we all merit, thereby, that “your days will be lengthened” , enjoying fulfilling and thriving lives – without pitfalls that could be avoided.

So, just as R’ Yaakov Kamenetsky carried on the mesorah (traditions) of his Father and passed them on to succeeding generations based on the understanding and intelligence of his Father, and just as other Torah luminaries have carried on the traditions of their Fathers, this story of R’ Yaakov Kamenetsky accepting his Father’s tradition even as he inquired of his Father about not eating cheese on Friday, serves as a parable teaching us about acceptance of all Torah laws as Chukim — laws whose ultimate reasons are known only to Hashem.

Rabbi Moshe Weissman, in his sefer, “The Midrash Says,” writes regarding Parshat 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.

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 3, page 839) on the words at the beginning of our Parsha:

“…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’nei 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 and that the expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of three years ago. 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 prevent Chas V’Challila 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 Al’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 5777: Korach’s Rebellion and Today’s Israeli Political Leaders; as Seen by Electorate and Through the Eyes of the Nations

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, June 17th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Korach is being sponsored by Loren and Sora Deetza Spigelman of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated in memory of Moshe Burt’s Father, Me’ir ben Shabtai. To the Spigelman family, many thanks for your sponsorship, your kind gesture 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 forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And 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 Korach 5777: Korach’s Rebellion and Today’s Israeli Political Leaders; as Seen by Electorate and Through the Eyes of the Nations

by Moshe Burt

Over the past several years, this author has cited a Torah Vort 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?

…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.

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.

Sefer Shem Mishmuel says of 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)

“The Midrash Says,” by Rabbi Moshe Weissman (on Sefer Bamidbar, pages 202-203) notes that although the other members of the Tribe of Levi lived in poverty, Korach was fabulously wealthy because he been a treasurer in Mitzrayim under Pharaoh. Moshe’s command that all the Jews were to take belongings from the Egyptians pertained only to those Tribes who were subjected to slave labor. The Tribe of Levi remained in Goshen, were not enslaved, and learned Torah throughout the enslavement.

“The Midrash Says” also relates that Hashem, Who leads each person in the life’s path of the person’s choosing, satisfied Korach’s lust for wealth by leading him to discover part of riches that Yosef concealed in the royal treasury. This discovery made Korach among the wealthiest individuals in recorded human history.

As a result of his massive riches, “The Midrash Says” records:

Korach was self-assured…. He thought himself favored by Hashem, and therefore entitled to contend against Moshe, for “A rich man speaks with impudence” (Mishlai 18:23).

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 descendants 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 descendants, 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.” (ibid, 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.

There could be another understanding regarding Korach, with enduring lessons for today’s Israeli electorate and “leadership” contenders, as well how the Jews and Israel are viewed and perceived by the nations.

Rabbi A. Henach Leibowwitz, in his sefer, “Majesty of Man” on our Parshat Korach (pages 232-234) comments, citing Gemara Sanhedrin 52b and Rashi:

A Talmid Chacham — a wise man — appears in the eyes of an am ha’aretz — an ignoramus: the Talmid Chacham shines brilliantly, like a golden vessel. However, the Gemara continues, once the Talmid Chacham benefits in any way from the am ha’aretz, he [the Chacham] is viewed by him as a clay container which, once broken, is beyond repair.

Rashi comments that this description applies directly to Korach’s relationship to … Talmidei Chachamim… who eventually came to side with him in his rebellion…. He [Korach] found ways to convince people and bring them over to his distorted way of thinking, Yet, in viewing…Talmidei Chachamim, he felt he could not reach them. They were truly a shining object in his eyes, steadfast in their integrity, and tamim — pure — in all their actions.

However, this aura was shattered when Korach invited the wise men to a meal and they accepted. The Gemara teaches us that accepting this invitation was a fatal mistake, for it caused a drastic change in Korach’s relationship with them. Immediately, their lofty stature was diminished in his eyes. They no longer seemed invulnerable. Korach felt that he could now approach them and influence them. He tried and succeeded.

….In one slightly improper action of accepting Korach’s invitation, the wise men shattered their image as pure, invincibly righteous men in Korach’s eyes. He no longer looked up to them and kept his distance. He approached them, confident he would win them over, and he did. Because of this miniscule miscalculation in associating with an evil person like Korach, they were eventually doomed to the same fate as Korach.

…The Mesilas Yesharim writes that even if we know we are not as worthy as people think we are, we have an obligation to live up to the higher standards they expect of us. This applies in all of our interactions with both Jews, and non-Jews, whether at work, in the community, or at home with our families…. Damaging a good image could lead to tragic results, as in the case of the Chachamim.

It seems then, that human nature indicates that when an individuals’, or a groups’ heretofore high standards are perceived as compromised, the consequences are that others who had previously held that individual or group in high esteem now have less regard, less respect for that individual or group.

One could, therefore, equate Korach’s view of the Chachamim, once he gained their support for his distorted views, with one of the more famous quotes of the late, great comedian Groucho Marx:

“… I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member”.

Can one extrapolate the message of Korach’s diminished view of Talmidei Chachamim and begin to imagine the impact upon an electorate, both observant and secular, of a message of an entity which espouses “separation of religion and state” regarding such a central, basic and seminal Torah law as observance of Shabbos re: public transportation on Shabbos: “each community will make its own decisions, and private companies can fulfill those needs”?

Can one recognize the diminished image among the electorate of such a political entity due to what this author views as a huge contradiction: as benign attitude toward Shabbos observance, while at the same time an activist, possessive attitude for Eretz Yisrael, for Har HaBayit (the Temple Mount), for the Ma’arat HaMachpela (Tomb of the Patriarachs and Matriarchs) and Hevron, Kever Rachel, and more?

And beyond the electoral impact of such benign attitude toward Shabbos observance, what of the impact of how the nations perceive us? Are we viewed by the nations as hypocrites, our Divine raison d’etre compromised such as to be viewed as non-existent?

And beyond the international perception of us due to the issue of “separation of religion and state”, what of the international impact, of a current equivocal political leadership regarding Am Yisrael’s Divine rights to Eretz Yisrael and to an undivided Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital and Seat of Government, particularly on policies of a newly elected president who has heretofore expressed deep friendship and alliance with Israel? As previously stated, possessing Yehuda and the Shomron and construction freezes are mutually exclusive.

We have already seen this president back off of his oft-repeated pledge to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem which would have seemingly denoted American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital.

Again, googley-eyed Groucho:

“… I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member”.

May we, the B’nei 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 and that the expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of three years ago. 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 prevent Chas V’Challila 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 Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos and Chodesh Tov!
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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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