Parshat Ha’azinu 5775: Hashem’s Covenant With Am Yisrael — Are We Living Up to Our Obligations and Responsibilities?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, September 20th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off







Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua is being sponsored by Dr. Eliyahu and Shuli Gherman of Ramat Beit Shemesh to commemorate Eliyahu’s Bar Mitzvah parsha — Ha’azinu. To Mishpochat Gherman, 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
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Parshat Ha’azinu 5775: Hashem’s Covenant With Am Yisrael — Are We Living Up to Our Obligations and Responsibilities?

by Moshe Burt

Parshat Ha’azinu begins with Moshe’s words:

“Ha’azinu HaShemayim V’adabeirah…”

“Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak; and may the earth hear the words of my mouth.” (Artscroll Chumash, Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, posuk 1, pages 1100-1101)

Rav Shimshon Rafael Hirsch z’l, in the Hirsch Chumash (Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, posuk 1, pages 742-743) renders Moshe’s statement “Ha’azinu HaShemayim V’adabeirah…” and comments:

“Incline your ear, O Heaven, I would speak, And let the earth hear the words of my mouth.”

“V’adabeirah — I wish to speak, I have something to say. This is the request addressed to heaven. Moshe is willing to speak only after heaven [perhaps euphemistically meaning Hashem?, although the "h" of heaven is not capitalized -- MB] has inclined its ear to listen to his words.”

Ha’azinu: This is appointment of the heaven and earth as witnesses and guarantors of Hashem’s Covenant with Israel and of what will be said regarding Israel’s future.

Ha’azin is to be distinguished from Shema. Ha’azin means to incline one’s ear; the Ma’azin [the one asked to incline -- MB] turns to the speaker in order to listen to his words. By contrast, one can hear (L’shmo’ah) without wishing to do so.

Heaven and earth are called upon to represent Hashem’s Covenant, and this representation is carried out primarily by Heaven, and only indirectly by
the earth. Heaven is active; the earth is essentially passive, because all of the blessing and curse in the physical development of the earth… results from the cosmic changes that occur outside the earth, and these are included in the concept of HaShemayim [Heaven].

In the service of the purposes of Hashem’s rule, heaven is active, dispensing its gifts, whereas the earth is essentially passive, a receiver.

Shem Mishmuel describes Ha’azinu as;

A poem which Moshe Rabbeinu recited to Klal Yisrael… It discusses the uniqueness of Klal Yisrael, their future, how they should conduct themselves, how they will stray, and how Hashem will treat them mercifully. (Shem Mishmuel, Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, Parsha Ha’azinu, pge 433)

Rabbi Artscroll (Artscroll Stone Chumash, Commentary on Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, p’sukim 7-9) cites S’forno recalling from history that Hashem created the world so that all of the nations would join together in achieving Hashem’s goal of righteousness. But when they failed, He chose B’nai Yisrael as the paradigm of that goal. Hashem gave them a Land where they could serve Him according to Torah’s laws with simcha, success and prosperity. But when the B’nai Yisrael rebelled, forgot and forsook Hashem for other counsel and avodah zora, they deserved destruction. But to avoid Chillul Hashem — desecration of His Name, Hashem, in His mercy, only exiled them in order that they be redeemed in times of Moshiach and the Ge’ula Shlaima.

Tehillim Psalm 81 expresses clearly the point of Hashem’s mercy where B’nai Yisrael rebelled, forgot and strayed from Hashem and Torah (Artscroll Nusach S’fard siddur, page 175):

“I am Hashem, your G’d, who elevated you from the land of Mitzrayim, open wide your mouth and I will fill it. But My people did not heed My voice and Israel did not desire Me. So I let them follow their heart’s fantasies, they follow their own counsels. If only My people would heed Me, if Israel would walk in My ways. In an instant, I would subdue their foes, and against their tormentors turn My hand…. He would feed him with the cream of wheat, and with honey from a rock sate you.”

The Ha’azinu poem asks (Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, posuk 30) regarding either Israel’s conquest over an enemy posssesing vastly superior forces, or Israel’s conquest by her enemies despite her possessing numerically superior forces:

“For how could one pursue a thousand, and two cause a myriad to flee?”

L’lmod U’Lamed, (L’lmod U’Lamed, Rabbi Mordechai Katz, Parsha Ha’azinu, p. 189-190) notes by this posuk, that:

Moshe reminds B’nai Yisrael how when they find themselves capable of defeating a vastly superior army, it was Hashem Who is responsible for their victory

L’lmod U’Lamed continues by describing contemporary instances where Hashem protected Israel, in the Six Day War; the paratrooper who parachuted into Yerushalayim and was hit by snipers and emerged uninjured — a bullet lodged in his Tefillin bag, and in the Yom Kippur War when a tank crew recited Tehillim and then confronted what it thought was enemy tanks and it’s cannon jammed when attempting to fire. Turned out that these “enemy tanks” were actually manned by the fellow Jews who had captured them in battle and who were now returning to their base.

And we now have stories emerging from this summer’s war with Hamas in Gaza, such as these which many or most subscribers undoubtedly have seen versions of:

In the recent Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Iron Dome Missile Defense system has been quite effective in preventing rockets from hitting targets in Israel, thus avoiding many civilian casualties. But it isn’t perfect. According to Israel Today, about 10% of the missiles predicted by the Iron Dome’s radar to hit civilian targets, for some reason, do not hit those targets. Many in Israel and believers around the world say that reason is the favor or hand of G’d.

Recent headlines have brought reports of missiles aimed by Hamas somehow changing direction in midair…. An Israeli commander described a miracle of God covering his troops with a cloud to protect them. He calls them “clouds of glory,” reminiscent of the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night that led the children of Israel through the desert with Moses in millennia past.

Another such miraculous story was reported by an Israeli News site and translated by Israel Today… An Iron Dome battery commander tells an amazing story of a Hamas missile that was thwarted by the hand of God from its trajectory toward likely civilian targets:

“A missile was fired from Gaza. Iron Dome precisely calculated [its trajectory]. We know where these missiles are going to land down to a radius of 200 meters. This particular missile was going to hit either the Azrieli Towers, the Kirya (Israel’s equivalent of the Pentagon) or [a central Tel Aviv railway station]. Hundreds could have died.”

The Azrieli Towers is a majestic set of three skyscrapers with Tel-Aviv’s largest shopping mall located at the base of the Towers. According to Tel-Aviv’s local city guide, the mall has a dizzying array of shops, complete with a play area for children. If the missile had hit there, the loss of innocent civilian life, including children, would have been staggering.

The Kirya Tower is Israel’s sixth tallest building, located next to the Azrieli Towers. It is primarily a government building, although approximately 11 floors of the 40-floor structure are allocated as civilian offices. Again, a missile headed toward it put hundreds of civilian lives at risk.

The Tel Aviv HaShalom Railway Station is likely the other possible target as it is connected to the Azrieli shopping mall by a bridge. It is one of Israel’s busiest railway stations.

Had the Hamas missile hit any one of these targets, which are all very close to each other, the civilian casualties could have been devastating. On that day…, the Iron Dome defense system failed to stop the missile. Devastation appeared imminent.

“We fired the first [interceptor]. It missed. Second [interceptor]. It missed. This is very rare. I was in shock. At this point we had just four seconds until the missile lands. We had already notified emergency services to converge on the target location and had warned of a mass-casualty incident.”

That is the point at which everything changed, and reportedly G’d intervened. Certain destruction was averted. The Iron Dome battery commander continues:

“Suddenly, Iron Dome (which calculates wind speeds, among other things) shows a major wind coming from the east, a strong wind that … sends the missile into the sea. We were all stunned. I stood up and shouted, ‘There is a G’d!’

“I witnessed this miracle with my own eyes. It was not told or reported to me. I saw the hand of G’d send that missile into the sea.”

But, how far we have fallen, how much the B’nai Yisrael has rebelled such that its governmental leaders, and in turn, its military have seemed handcuffed and indecisive, in the Lebanon conflict, as well as in the Gaza battles of 2008, 2012, and this summer’s 50 day operation, the sending soldiers against armed terrorists in Flotillas with paint guns, seemingly equivocal and incapable of decisively defeating a lesser foe?

Even in our equivocation, indecisiveness and lack of emunah in Hashem, He still protects us with His Ananei HaKavod (His Clouds of Glory) as the above stories from the Gaza War tell us in black and white?. Why can’t the Israeli governing powers-to-be take heart, act Jewish, rather than attributing fighting a war totally to the “prowess of man”?

But now Am Yisrael, the Jewish people/nation, in Eretz Yisrael, and throughout the world are left in an even more vulnerable position than before with our adversaries taking heart from our equivocations and indecisiveness. Hamas still apparently has 30% to 40% of their rocket arsonel, will inevitably retool, perhaps with even longer-range and more precisely targeted rockets and who knows if or how many tunnels that the chayalim did not find and destroy. And sporadic rocket fire has been felt on the northern border with Syria, near Kuneitra — is that the next war front — with Hezbollah, with their tens of thousands of rockets, or Syria, or ISIL or all of the above? And ISIL has not limited its aims to the Middle East. Couple that with worsening conditions for Jews in Europe, as well as in the United States where “the knockout game” preys upon Jewish victims and we see that Israel’s
equivocations and indecisiveness promotes a media take and creates an atmosphere and mindset portraying Jews once again as weak, and “fair prey” to attack, threat and intimidation.

Can it be said that Israel may be seen as having lost those conflicts due to fear of eradicating the enemy, more concerned with collateral damage to enemy civilians than to decisively winning a war the way a war is supposed to be fought by eradicating enemy armies and assets — the Divine Mandate of a War for Torah? Israel’s leaders, with their utter lack of Torah grounding and near-complete lack of emunah in Hashem, that HE will fight for us and would subdue our foes, and with their distorted, perverted and total lack of understanding of what a Jew is and the true meaning of
thousands of years of Jewish history, have subverted our national sovereignty in OUR Land of Israel to the will of the “leader” of the so-called “super-power” avodah zora and to the morally corrupt and bankrupt “United Nations.”

What about the government of Israel’s seeming total preoccupation with abandoning and handing over Jewish Lands, including Jerusalem, to avowed Arab enemies implacably bent upon our destruction? Do we see all of this playing out as a result of the complacency and preoccupation of the masses, each individual, each sector with their own individual and group issues and matzavim while Israel’s governance plots, based on the air-direction of public opinion and on principles of divide and conquer, the eradication of all vestiges Torah and Yiddishkiet from its population?

We are, after nearly 2,000 years, a national sovereignty, in OUR OWN Land, Eretz Yisrael. We are no longer in cities, towns, nations dominated by other religions who would demand that we renounce the Almighty, as was the case of the Jews of Mainz where the Bishop demanded that R’ Amnon convert with the implied perilous threat to the Jews of Mainz should he refuse. As Jews in OUR LAND, we have the responsibility to to behave as Jews — both in words and actions — between our brethren and, in wars for our survival, toward adversaries who seek nothing less than our total annihilation.

Can it be said that Hashem on a collective level has denied us His favor? Has the national governance not been an evolvement of foresaking Hashem, our roots, our heritage for other counsels and avodah zora? What of the appointment of the heaven and earth as witnesses and guarantors of Hashem’s Covenant with Israel? We must all collectively ponder and internalize our responsibilites in living up to our obligations to this Covenant with Hashem on this Shabbos Shuva.

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

Good Shabbos Teshuvah! L’Shana Tova — may all who read this be inscribed and sealed for a healthy, happy and prosperous 5775 and every year thereafter to at least 120!!
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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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Rosh Hashanah 5775: Connecting Unsaneh Tokef and Aleinu?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, September 20th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Rosh Hashana 5775 Vort is being sponsored by Avraham and Miriam Deutsch of Efrat who wish Kol Am Yisrael L’Shana Tova! To the Deutsch family, many thanks for your continued kindnesses. Avraham and Miriam, may you know only simcha, success, good health, nachas from your children, and only good things in the year to come and to at least 120 years.

Friends, 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
***************************************************

Rosh Hashanah 5775: Connecting Unsaneh Tokef and Aleinu?

by Moshe Burt

This author has, in previous Rosh Hashanah vorts, focused on Rabbi Amnon of Mainz, his weakening in giving the Bishop or Governor (whatever the correct title was) the perception of his consideration of possible compliance with the demand to convert, his distraught feeling that he betrayed Hashem by having given the impression that he would consider conversion and that he would give an answer to the Bishop 3 days hence, and the tefillah he composed on Rosh Hashana with his last breaths: Unsaneh Tokef as linked here and here.

The Artscroll Rosh Hashanah Machzor (Nusach Ashkenaz page 480-481, Nusach Sefard page 476-477 as well as Yom Kippur Machzorim) relates how Rabbi Amnon of Mainz, upon his refusal to convert, was carried home from the Bishop’s palace as a mutilated cripple, along with his amputated hands and feet and composed Unsaneh Tokef on that Rosh Hashanah:

When Rosh Hashanah arrived…, R’ Amnon asked to be carried to the Ark [Aron HaKodesh]. Before the congregation recited Kedushah, he asked to be allowed to sanctify Hashem’s Name in the synagogue as he had in the bishop’s palace. He recited Unsaneh Tokef and then died. R’ Amnon’s wish was carried out, and the prayer became an integral part of the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services. (citing from Or Zarua)

And so we recite R’ Amnon’s praise of Hashem each Mussaf of both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, followed shortly therafter by Kedusha, our joining with the melachim (angels) as we proclaim our declaration of Hashem’s greatness. (Artscroll Rosh Hashanah Machzor Nusach Sefard, page 482, Yom Kippur Machzor)

But while Unsaneh Tokef serves as R’Amnon’s personal expression of Kedusha: the Glory of Hashem, our Creator and Creator of All Who Fills the world with His Glory, it seems also to express Hashem’s attribute of Mercy in Kingship, all just as does Aleinu. The first posukim of Unsaneh Tokef rendered to English in Artscroll Machzorim say:

Let us now relate the power of this day’s holiness, for it is awesome and frightening. On it Your Kingship will be exalted; Your Throne will be firmed with kindness and You will sit upon it in truth.

The Artscroll Machzorim comments on the third posuk:

Hashem’s greatness is confirmed when he goes beyond the bounds of judgement by showing mercy. By definition, judgement is inflexible because it depends on deeds and laws. By overriding judgement, Hashem shows that there are no limits to His power.

This author therefore reasons that Unsaneh Tokef provides a link between our tefillah expressing our recognition of Hashem as our Creator, and our tefillah heralding Hashem’s Universal Kingship — as expressed by Aleinu:

Aleinu: It is our duty to praise the Master of Everything. To ascribe greatness to the One Who formed Creation. For He did not make us like the nations of the lands…. We bow, prostrate and acknowledge our thanks to the King of Kings, the Holy One, Blessed Be He…. (Excerpts from translation of Aleinu rendered by Rabbi Asher Baruch Wegbreit in his sefer, “The Power of Aleinu.”)

Rabbi Wegbreit writes in his sefer, “The Power of Aleinu.” (pages 35-36, 60):

… The World generally doesn’t apply the term “great” where it truly belongs — with Hashem.

Their reasoning begins with a flawed… assumption that the Creator of the Unverse Who is lofty enough to create the universe would never “lower Himself” to become involved with the lower world that He made…. They don’t feel that the Creator relates to his creations.

We know that the Creator does relate to his creations (Rav Chaim Freidlander, Sifsei Chaim,”Aleinu.”) This recognition makes the Jewish people unique and obligates us “to ascribe greatness to the One Who formed Creation.” (Malbim on Tehillim 34:4)

There are two reasons why Jews are inspired to humble themselves… The first is an overwhelming sense gratitude… Hashem is referred to as the One who “made us” into a people at Mount Sinai –in order to heap blessing upon us for all eternity and make us unique.

The second reason why we are inspired to humble ourselves is the dread and awe that we feel at having the great privilege of being in the presence and service of Creator of the universe.

If one meets an eminent person… who wields vast power and authority, he feels dwarfed and intimidated. Even more so,when one meets a powerful king, one is legally required to show respect. It follows, then, that we can barely comprehend the dread and reverence warranted b a single encounter with the “King of kings, the Holy One, Blessed Be He.”

So we can see the expression of the dual themes of Hashem: as Creator of the Universe who relates to his creations, and Hashem: as Merciful King and sovereign over us and to Whom we are privileged and inspired to serve, in both Unsaneh Tokef and Aleinu tefillot.

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

L’Shana Tova! May You, All of My Brothers, Sisters, be Inscribed and Sealed, for a Year of Life, Health, Simcha, Success and only good things… Now and Always!

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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 Vayeilech 5774: Internalizing the Message of Hakhel Erev Rosh Hashanah

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, September 13th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat HaShevua Vayeilech is being sponsored by Ari and Aliza Rosenstein and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh and dedicated Lilui Nishmas in memory of Aliza’s Mother, Anne Samson A’H: Rochel Rivka bat Mattityahu HaKohen. To the Rosenstein family, many thanks for your sponsorship and continued kindnesses.

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat Vayeilech 5774: Internalizing the Message of Hakhel Erev Rosh Hashanah

By Moshe Burt

First, an admission: This author messed up in assuming that this was a year where Parshiyot Nitzavim and Vayeilech were in separate weeks, rather than what they are: a doubleheader parshat. Thus, you are receiving a bonus: two vorts, each with its own sponsor.

Parsha Vayeilech comes to speak at length about the Mitzvah of Hakhel — the communal gathering which took place every seven years; that is at the beginning of the year following the end of the Sh’mittah year and where Sefer Devarim is read through to the end of Shema, the second paragraph and through to Perek 28, posuk 69 which is in Parshat Ki Tavo.

The Hakhel is a Mitzvah dating back to Moshe Rabbeinu’s mussar talk on the last day of his life when he convened the entire nation; men, women and children — from the wealthiest to the most itinerant woodchopper, to the Ger:

…So that they may hear and so that they may learn and fear Hashem and guard to do all the words of Torah. (Sefer Devarim, Perek 31, posuk 12)

The concept of the Hakhel which this author learned back in Philadelphia, back in the “Old Country,” was that even infants, those not even yet cognizant of language would be touched by this communal gathering and be affected by the enunciation of Halachot. The Artscroll Stone Chumash notes on Hakhel (Artscroll Stone Chumash commentary on Sefer Devarim, Perek 31, posuk 12):

The time to inculcate values in children is from their earliest youth, and especially by the example of the parents and others who sincerely strive for the ideals they preach…. Thus, for bringing their children to Hakhel, parents deserved to be rewarded, for they demonstrated that the Torah was precious to them.

Sefer L’lmod U’Lamed (page 188) notes that the Hakhel is meant:

To emphasize the need for parents to maintain close watch on their children’s development… To set the proper example for their children, especially during the early years when they are their children’s primary role models.

R’ Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” builds on this theme of parents closely following their children’s development:

Rashi cites the Talmud (Chagigah3a) that the young children are brought along in order to bring reward to their parents.

… Even though they [young children] do not understand what is being said, just being there when the king reads the Torah in the presence of the entire nation will have a major influence on the child for the rest of his life. He gains an experience of how important Torah is for the entire people. This teaches us even today to do all we can that children should learn at an early age the extreme importance of Torah. Every experience makes an impression… (Rabbi Simcha Zissel of Kelm: “Chochmah Umussar,” vol. 1, page 150)

So we learn from Torah, with the added clarity of the above citings that the nurturing of children in an insightful Torah, Mussar atmosphere and surroundings insures the growth of a Torah-rooted generation and of Torah-grounded leaders rather than a self-affectionated, self-aggrandised, self-serving, corruption-laden political, governmental “leadership.”

We learn in our Parsha (Sefer Devarim, Perek 31, posuk 16);

“Hashem said to Moshe. ‘When you go and lie with your ancestors this nation will rise up and stray after the [false deities] of the land into which they are coming. They will thus abandon Me and violate the covenant that I have made with them.’”

Torah Gems, by Aharon Yaakov Greenberg (page 314) cites a Mikra MeForash which notes;

Torah refers to this as “rising up”, when it would seem more proper to use a verb such as “to descend.” Rather, what this teaches us is that the people will rise up. They, rather than their leaders, will be the rulers, and that will result in their falling to the lowest depths.

The “people”, rather than their [Torah] leaders, will be the rulers resulting in the nation’s fall to the depths?

Then, in the very next posuk (Sefer Devarim, Perek 31, posuk 17);

“Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles will befall them…”

How very much does this Torah Gems citing sound like modern-day Israeli Torah-devoid governance, even amongst some “religious” sectors? And how very much this citing sounds like the great rhetorical noise, i.e., which Israel’s so-called “leaders” make — about the advent of Iranian nukes, or after terror attacks, or after massive day-after-day rocket blitzes from Gaza — rhetorical noise (boasts) which translate into far less than total victory in a War for Torah? These same so-called “leaders,” these big, brave Shotrim who show mercy to the cruel, arrest and persecute Jews who fight for Eretz Yisrael and for the Torah way against internal ruling subversion? How very much these so-called big, brave “leaders” and their Shabaknikim and Yassamnikim “Shotrim” fit the descriptions of the above citings, i.e. the “people”, rather than their [Torah] leaders, will be the rulers resulting in the nation’s fall to the depths, as they smash Jewish heads and abuse women and babies in Migron and countless other venues? And how very much does this anti-Torah mercy to the cruel translate in the mindset of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the PLO, ISIL, etc. as weakness of the Jewish nation and her leaders?

Oh, that the Netanyahus, Lapids, Baraks, Livnis and a host of other wimp, Torah-lacking politicians, with their fingers in the air to see which way the populous wind blows, would come to realize this, as well as the rest of the above posuk (Sefer Devarim, Perek 31, posuk 17):

They will say on that day, “Have not these evils come upon us because Hashem is not within me?”

And how very much the above Torah Gems citing seems to sound, at least to this author, like certain Rabbanim whose quaking fear and silence give appearance of acquiescense toward a criminal element of several hundred within their constituency who intimidate others in their own communities and who harass and defame their fellow observant Jews who are not exactly like them?

It seems to this author that these questions, points and more regarding both Parshat Nitzavim, and our parsha are crucial for the Kehal — the Am, today’s political governmental leaders, as well as for Rabbanim to internalize and ponder long and hard during Asseret Yomei Teshuva.

To repeat the point this author made in Parshat Nitzavim, Asserting and taking Mutual responsibility — it may just be key to The Ge’ula!

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

Good Shabbos Tefillah! May You, All of My Brothers, Sisters, be Sealed, for Year of Life… Now and Always!

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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.

Parshiyot Nitzavim 5774: Jews Taking Mutual, Collective, Unified Responsibility — Key to The Ge’ula?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, News Reports on Saturday, September 13th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Nitzavim is being sponsored by Dov and Bracha Moses and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh to wish continued refuah shlaima to their son Amitai Yaakov ben Bracha and refuah shlaima to Bracha’s Mother, Chaya Perel bat Rivka.. 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
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Parshiyot Nitzavim 5774: Jews Taking Mutual, Collective, Unified Responsibility — Key to The Ge’ula?

by Moshe Burt

Our Parsha Nitzavim opens with Moshe Rabbeinu addressing the B’nai Yisrael on the final day of his life:

“Atem Nitzavim HaYom… You are standing today, all of you, before Hashem, your G’d…. for you to pass into the convenant of Hashem, …that Hashem… seals with you today in order to establish you as a people to Him and that He be a G’d to you as He spoke to you and as He swore to your forefathers, to Avraham, to Yitzchak and to Yaakov.” (Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash, Sefer Devarim Perek 29, posukim 9-13)

But why is Moshe speaking here about entering into the Covenant of Hashem? Weren’t the B’nai Yisrael initiated into the Covenant back at Matan Torah when they gave this response?:

“Everything that Hashem has spoken, we will do… (Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash, Sefer Sh’mos. Perek 19, posuk 8 )

The Stone Chumash introduction to Parsha Nitzavim (page 1086) states on this question:

What is new about this Covenant was the concept of responsibility for one and another, under which every Jew is obligated to help others observe the Torah and to restrain them from violating it. This is why Moshe [as the Stone Chumash cites from Or HaChaim]… said that Hashem would not hold them [presumably the collective — the Kehal] responsible for sins that had been done secretly, but that they would be liable for transgressions committed openly. This…. explains why one may not be apathetic to the shortcomings of others and why public desecrations of the Torah are the concern of every Jew of good conscience.

Sefer Shem Mishmuel (Written by R’ Shmuel Bornstein, the Sochaczever Rebbe, rendered to English by R’ Zvi Belovski) further explains this Covenant (page 421):

This bris [Covenant] was the establishment of unity between all sectors of Jewish society — male and female, great and ordinary. Through this Covenant, they would be able to conquer and inherit Eretz Yisrael.

In other words, this “entry into the Covenant of Hashem” referred to in our parsha represents a renewal of the original Covenant of Matan Torah with an expanded definition which would apply for all time. Rabbi Mordechai Katz, in his sefer “L’lmod U’lamed” explains this expanded definition in his summary of our parsha (pages 183-185):

A warning was issued… If the public sinned, then the land would be destroyed. When later generations would wonder about the cause of this destruction, they would be told that it had come about because of the abandonment of Hashem and his ways.

After the Jews have experienced Hashem’s blessings and curse and they have returned to His fold, Hashem would gather them from dispersion and return them to the Promised Land. Then the curse would be transferred to the enemies who had persecuted and oppressed the Jews. The Jews, on the other hand, would experience the blessings of prosperity and happiness, provided that they would accept Hashem’s commandments fully.

Therefore, the people should realize that the choice between life and death — between good and evil — is placed before them. The heaven and earth are eternal witnesses to this offer.

Rav Shimshon Rafael Hirsch z’l notes in the Hirsch Chumash, Sefer Devarim, Parsha Nitzavim page 692:

…Scripture stresses the common Responsibility of all Israel for upholding the Torah and fulfilling its commandments. According to this principle, the individual does not fulfill his role if he is faithful to his duty in his personal life alone, but does not do his utmost to promote observance of the Law throughout his community.

The posukim cited in the first paragraph above, as well as both the spirit expressed in the Stone Chumash’s introduction to Nitzavim, L’lmod U’lamed’s parsha summary and the citing from Rav Hirsch raise the following questions:

1/ At what point do aveirot (sins) done by individuals, while giving the appearance of having been done “in secret”, actually impact and affect the Kehal such that, while appearing to be “secret”, the aveirah actually occurs and impacts the Kehal “openly”?

2/ Don’t aveirot such as physical and psychological domestic abuse or child abuse and theft whether done by one’s spouse or by one’s fellow, or forgery, solicitation of illicit or fraudulent loans, organized crime activities, serial illegal breaking-and-entering and more actually constitute “transgressions committed openly” even though, at first glance they appear as “having been done in secret”? Isn’t this so, even though the Kehal may not, for whatever reason, be aware of the existence of such violations by such individual(s)?

3/ Don’t we learn that the terms “in secret” and “openly” may actually be euphemisms for Bein Adam L’Mokom (between man and Hashem) and Bein Adam L’Chaveiro (between man and his fellow) respectively and that Divine punishment meted out for wrongs done by man against his fellow are actually more severe than those meted out for wrongs done by man against Hashem?

4/ What about the value of a marriage ketubah? Don’t we learn that parties in a get (divorce) proceeding, despite whatever strife and contention which existed in the marriage which led them to a Get Beit Din, must act in accordance with Torah and not attempt to circumvent Halachot of Ketubah via coercion or extortion of a spouse in a divorce with immunity? Don’t issues of marriage and divorce represent Bein Adam L’Chaveiro issues in terms of Divine retribution?

5/ And what about the “vigilante” criminal fringe of self-proclaimed “observant Jews” who, on their own, strong-arm their communities while either ignoring or terrorizing their own leaders, and who put upon others who they deem to be not like them, i.e. others who don’t dress exactly like them, or who end their Shabbos not according to Rabbeinu Tam time? One could go on and on here.

6/ Finally, isn’t it our collective Torah responsibility and mandate, each one of us both in our private lives and as part of a unified B’nai Yisrael, to cleave, assert and act to possess This Land that Hashem has given us as Our Own? Even if it means physically fighting to win a mandatory war for Torah, or standing against any attempt by a political, anti-Torah governance to hand over any piece of Jewish land to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication?

Undoubtedly, others could add many more issues and questions based on the above citings. And with Rosh Hashana near, is it not appropriate to for each of us to ponder the myriads of such questions?

In regard to the sixth question, Sefer Shem Mishmuel offers the following and echos R’ Hirsch (page 419-420):

Eretz Yisrael is the land given by Hashem to Klal Yisrael. It is firmly the domain and right of the nation, not the individual Jew. Indeed, Chazal tell us:

‘The conquest [of any part of Eretz Yisrael] by an individual does not have the status of a conquest.’ (Gittin 47a)

We may suggest that the reason for this is that the unity of Eretz Yisrael is the unifying force for the nation itself. The laws of mutual responsibility [the original Covenant of Matan Torah with an expanded definition], which demand a single nation, only came into operation after they crossed the Jordan into the land, in order to relate to its special nature, must be performed by the klal, who are… unified by that act of conquest.

…Whether or not klal Yisrael are victorious in their wars is dependent on them functioning as a unified nation.

It seems to this author that these questions, points and more regarding our parsha are crucial both for the Kehal — the Am, as well as for Rabbanim to ponder as Rosh Hashana approaches.

Asserting and taking Mutual and unified responsibility — it may just be key to The Ge’ula!

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

Good Shabbos Tefillah!

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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 Ki Tavo 5774: Doing the Cheshbon of Aliyah?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, September 6th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week,our Parshat HaShevua Ki Tavo is being sponsored jointly by Dr. David & Tamar Kallus and family and Rabbi Rafael and Vivianne Willig and family, both from Ramat Beit Shemesh. To the Kallus and Willig families, 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 Ki Tavo 5774: Doing the Cheshbon of Aliyah?

by Moshe Burt

Ki Tavo opens by detailing the Halachot of Bikkurim — the first fruits which were brought to the Kohen as a thanksgiving as well as both remembrance of Pharaoh’s cruelty and Hashem’s deliverance of B’nai Yisrael from Mitzrayim to a land flowing with milk and honey.

The Stone Chumash on Parsha Ki Tavo (Sefer Devarim ,Perek 26, posukim 3, 5-10, page 1069) renders the posukim addressing the Halachot of Bikkurim; the presentation of Terumot to the Kohen:

You shall come to whomever will be the Kohen in those days, and you shall say to him “I declare to Hashem, Your G’d, that I have come to the land that Hashem swore to our forefathers to give us.” ….Then you shall call out and say before Hashem: “An Aramean tried to destroy my forefather. He descended to Mitzriyim and sojourned there, few in number, and there he became a nation — great, strong and numerous. The Mitzrayim mistreated us and afflicted us, and placed hard work upon us. Then we cried out to Hashem, G’d of our forefathers, and Hashem heard our voice and saw our affliction, our travail and oppression. Hashem took us out of Mitzriyim with a strong hand and outstretched arm, with great awesomeness, and with signs and wonders. He brought us to this place, and gave us a land flowing with milk and honey. And now, behold! I have brought the first fruit of the ground that You have given me, to Hashem!”

In previous years, this author discussed the loshen of posuk 3 “Your G’d,” not “Our” or “My” and it’s significance relating to the special relationship existing between Hashem and the Kohen, as Hashem’s representative — as if he were a king or a prophet.

The Bikkurim, therefore, are meant to be a gift which is given to the Kohen as Hashem’s representative (S’forno, as cited in The Stone Chumash, page 1069) and as:

Expressions of gratitude to Hashem for having given us the Land. (Rashi, as cited in The Stone Chumash, page 1069)

Thus is the format for presenting tithes to the Kohen and for expressing one’s great appreciation to, and love of Hashem by way of the Kohen, His representative

But there seems to be another point worthy of thought and consideration contained within what one says in addressing the Kohen upon the presentation of Terumot.

First let’s examine Sefer Devarim ,Perek 26, posukim 5-7 more closely:

He [Yaakov and his family]” descended to Mitzriyim and sojourned there, few in number, and there he became a nation — great, strong and numerous. The Mitzrayim mistreated us and afflicted us, and placed hard work upon us.

Rav Zelig Pliskin in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” (page 444) provides what seems to be a crucially important, yet oft-overlooked lesson for Jews living outside of Eretz Yisrael in our times to internalize:

The Torah… is telling us that before the Egyptians afflicted our forefathers they first mounted a slander campaign against them and made them appear evil in the eyes of others. Only after they had everyone [all Mitzriyim] thinking that the Israelites were evil and not worthy of standard human rights could they make their decrees against them, and the rest of their people accepted this otherwise unreasonable behavior. In recent history, this was the strategy of the Nazis with their propaganda vilifying us as a prelude to their actual oppression of our people. (Rabbi Mordechai Gifter; “Pirkei Torah”, Vol. 1, page 30)

Indeed, this vilification propaganda has been in the arsenal of the nations throughout the millennia of our dispersion, and it exists for those Jews living outside of Eretz Yisrael, albeit often in more subtle forms, even today. The Nazis only refined and mass-media produced the standard vilifications used through the ages in Galut. “The Jews are not to be trusted”, “The Jews are aligned with our enemies”, “The Jews are shylocks”, “They use human blood to make matzot” were but some of the defamations used to endoctrinate their peoples to dehumanize us and to afflict, terrorize and expell us.

Through the generations of Golus, when travel to Eretz Yisrael was almost universally either prohibited or prohibitively costly and thus not within the realm of practical possibility, the Jews moved from place to place, got comfortable and developed an element of influence in the society in which they settled and thus became comfortable and complacent in their venue. Each time this false sense of comfort and complacency set in, it was inevitably followed by an evolution of dehumanizing propaganda of vilifications, defamations; either state-sponsored, or exhibited by segments of a nation’s heretofore indigenous populace, as pretext for pogroms, killings, expulsions, etc.

We see this dehumanizing propaganda of vilifications, defamations on raw display today, against the background of Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza. While these displays appear standard for such countries as France, Holland, Sweden, where Jewish leaders are receiving death threats, etc., there is not one nation where this hate and vilification has not manifested itself in full view of the world. There is not one nation where defamations appear absent, not even in the most enlightened, Pro-Israel country in the world: Canada under the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Even in Canada, we see anti-Jewish public expressions and manifestations this summer, under the guise of protests, often violent against so-called “disproportionate” (sic) Israeli actions against Hamas in Gaza.

In the United States, where President Barak Hussein Obama, elected thanks to overwhelming Jewish support in 2008 and 2012, contests with former President Jimmy Carter for the distinction of being the most hostile president toward Jews in American history, a new violent anti-semitic phenomenon has arisen in the public arena: “The Knockout Game”:

The point of this game? “For the fun of it,” said one teen on video footage of an attack which was broadcast on CBS. “They just want to see if you got enough strength to knock somebody out,” said another.

The selection process in these attacks, however, is not completely random; of the innocent victims across at least 14 states a good number have been Jewish.

Seven deaths have already been reported as the result of this “game,” and a number of others have been seriously injured (including a 78-year-old woman and a WWII veteran). “The worst part about it,” Mangel says, “is that while it’s happening, someone else videos it and they put it up on Youtube, like it’s something to be proud of.”

The New York police have become increasingly involved, and some believe that anti-Semitism is at the root of these attacks. The New York Post wrote, “The New York authorities describe a recent series of such attacks and, because Jews have been singled out…are considering prosecuting these assaults as hate crimes.” In fact, according to The Business Insider, some groups are referring to their versions of “The Knockout Game” as “Beat the Jew.”

Anti-Semitism isn’t only in the Middle East. It is rearing its head everywhere from Paris to Pittsburgh. Jewish hatred is becoming more acceptable to voice out loud and it is our responsibility as Jews to acknowledge it, even if the mass media doesn’t.

The mistaken mindset of the Jews of Mainz and Worms, responding to the Jews in Jerusalem upon the building of the Beit HaMikdash Sheini, as recounted in Rabbi A. Leib Scheinbaum’s “The World That Was Ashkenaz” (page 13):

“You stay where you are in the great Jerusalem and we will continue to stay in our little Jerusalem”

has its modern sequels: Lakewood Ir Hakodesh, Monsey Ir HaKodesh, Borough Park or Flatbush Ir HaKodesh. So, can Jews still be safe, secure and fully actuate themselves as Jews in the increasingly dangerous venues of Chutz L’Aretz?

But other questions need be asked, Are these Golus venues, including the U.S., soo comfortable, safe and secure anymore? Consider the example made of our Jewish brother Jonathan Pollard, now into his 30th year of incarceration for gathering intelligence for an American ally, Israel: intelligence America was bound by treaty to provide Israel. 30 years of grossly disproportionate incarceration when compared to sentences meted out for similar offenses committed by non-Jewish spies. And what of Jews singled out for denial of opportunities to serve in critical positions in the state or defense departments if they, or their offspring have ever spent time in Israel, even learning Torah? And what of states who either pass into law, or hold referendums regarding abolition of Brit Milah or Kosher slaughter as being inhumane? What do these tell one about being a Jew in America today?

Is living in Chutz L’Aretz venues even still economic feasible? Traveling to and/or settling in Eretz Yisrael has never been, for the entire length of the golus, more accessable and achievable as it is today. And yet today’s Golus Jew is still complacent, while making more parnossa, the future of that parnossa seems increasingly shaky and he is still chasing his debts and getting less and less for every US dollar he makes. And yet he fears picking up and coming home — to Eretz Yisrael. If one will not even bring himself to a mindset to visualize and consider Aliyah and what it means — one’s actualization as a Jew connected to and fulfilled in his Land, then the obstacles, i.e. bureaucracy, cultural differences, employment, housing, etc. become mere excuses rather than challenges — tests to conquered and overcome. If one will not bring himself to see living in Eretz Yisrael as his true home and fulfillment of his Jewishness, will he at least be able to see his living in Eretz Yisrael as his physical survival and security as a Jew?

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

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt 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 Ki Teitsei 5774: Unity, and Responsibility vs Acquiescense to Evil?

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


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Ki Teitzei 5774 is being sponsored by Nachum and Michal Kligman and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh to wish for much continued success with Mianzi Fashion and Hotslocha to their son Moshe Shlomo ben Michal. To the Kligman 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 Ki Teitsei 5774: Unity, and Responsibility vs Acquiescense to Evil?

by Moshe Burt

Parsha Ki Teitsei teaches numerous Mitzvot such as; returning lost items to their rightful owners, loaning money to one’s fellow Jew free from interest, what one is permitted to or prohibited from taking from another Jew as loan security, the laws of Shatnes (wool and linen together), Tzitzit, and dealing fairly and truthfully with one’s fellow Jews in business. We also learn of Mitzvot such as sending a mother bird away before taking the young or the eggs and helping one’s fellow Jew load and unload a burden, fencing in a roof area and not harnessing together different species of animals on the same yoke.

Our parsha also contains a posuk (Sefer Devarim, Perek 22, posuk 5) regarding male and female garb and the prohibition against cross-dressing, considered by Hashem as “an abomination.” This prohibition relates closely to Parshat Acharei Mos in Sefer Vayikra. There, Torah teaches (Sefer Vayikra, chapter 18, posukim 22-23):

“You shall not lie with a man as one lies with a woman, it is an abomination. Do not lie with any animal to be contaminated with it; a woman shall not stand before an animal for mating, it is a perversion.”

Rashi comments on the word “abomination” in the Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer Vayikra, chapter 18, posuk 22:

An abomination. None of the relationships given above [in Sefer Vayikra, chapter 18, posukim 6-20] are described with this term of disgust, because they involve normal activity, though with prohibited mates. Homosexuality [and bestiality], however is unnatural and therefore abominable.

Rabbi Henach Leibowitz, in his sefer “Majesty of Man”, comments on the state of our society today, something we may all know, but maybe don’t yet sufficiently internalize:

…Conduct once considered unthinkable is now commonplace. Acts of immorality, vulgarity… which Torah defines as abominations and only a generation ago were considered unimaginable, are now paraded openly without shame.

Do we realize the effect our environment has on us? Our neshamas are holy and pure, created in Hashem’s image and instilled with the sensitivity of the Torah’s moral standards.

The Maftir Aliyah of our Parsha tells us collectively to remember, for all time, the actions of Amalek who attacked B’nai Yisrael when they were weak while blotting the remembrance of Amalek from the earth.

We remember the Amelek without, but it seems a necessity that we remember the Amalek within as well; lo nishkach v’lo Nislach — we won’t forgive and we can’t and won’t forget the lack of justice, principle and morality of Israel’s governance as exemplified by the evictions of the last nine years; i.e., the expulsion of Jewish Brethren from Gush Katif, Amona, the events in Chevron — in Shalhevet neighborhood, Beit Shapira, Beit HaShalom, Federman’s farm, Ulpana in Beit El and more.

And we can’t overlook the equivocal actions, best summed up as “being merciful to the cruel, and cruel to the merciful”, by the current Israeli government during a Milchamet Shel Torah, a mandatory war for the defense of, and survival of Am Yisrael and of our sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael.

These equivocal actions amount to not fighting the war with a strategy for complete victory, toleration of repeated ceasefires violated by the enemy,
provisions of such ceasefires perceived as victories by murderous, terrorist enemies and allegedly once again offering to free terrorists in exchange for the 2 dead soldiers apparently in enemy hands.

We also can’t forget Jonathan Pollard who turned 60 years old in August and who has suffered nearly 29 years in US prison and years of solitary confinement. The extraordinary length of his incarceration is due in large part to a benignly neglectful and disdainful Israeli governance who slammed the Embassy doors on their agent when he sought asylum and then were content for decades to seeing him languish in prison. Only recently, over the last two or so years, did Israel’s prime minister, president and governance begin making sounds on Pollard’s behalf due to intense pressure — or perhaps not to be embarrased by being outdone by the numbers of influential Americans calling for the President’s commutation of Pollard’s term to time served.

Only at such time as repeated verbal contrition, and frank admissions of the errors, misjudgements, appeasements and prejudices against other Jews regarding these.past events are substantiated by strong indications, Yehuda-esque (related to confronting the Viceroy regarding hs brother Benyamin) is forgiveness and a beginning to building of unity possible.

In short, our Parsha emphasizes that the unity with which B’nai Yisrael L’Chatchila is to go out to war against her enemies evolves from collective responsibility, kindness, caring and fairness for and with each other fellow Jew. These attributes of being fair, straight with, and caring for another person are kinder than the insensitivity, indifference and disunity of making up any and every excuse or non-reason under the sun for an action or kindness not done. Collective unity — responsibility, kindness, caring and fairness for and with each other negates the possibility of a kindness not shown; whether the action relates to Shidduchim, to employment searching and interviews, to giving Tzeddakah, respecting the kavanah (intent) of others when saying Aleinu, etc. or merely making the effort to hold a bus driver for another few seconds while his fellow huffs and puffs under the weight of grocery bags as he runs to catch the bus. This relates to each Jew and how he relates toward his fellow Jew, both on a personal level and collectively.

In previous writings, the performance of mitzvot has been equated with a weight scale by asking; who among us mortals can know which mitzvah, even the smallest “Eikev” mitzvah, might just tip the scales, both in terms of any particular individual or on behalf of the collective national redemption of B’nai Yisrael? In short, having just entered the Elul season, “the days of awe” and the run up to the Yom HaDin, the Day of Judgement, we need to try honestly and objectively to look back, review and examine our actions over the past year and longer.

Our lives and our hopes for a good year and good things to come hang in the balance of the Cheshbon, if you will, between our Mitzvot (good deeds) and our Aveirot (sins or violations of Divine law). Once again, as 5775 approaches, it’s “Clutch time” and as that famous coach says, “Our Mitzvot aren’t everything, they’re the Only Thing.”

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

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt 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, Israel.
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Parshat Shoftim 5774: Judicial Righteousness and the Paradigm Criteria for Kingship Over Am Yisrael

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, News Reports on Saturday, August 23rd, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

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

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

Please 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 5774: Judicial Righteousness and the Paradigm Criteria for Kingship Over Am Yisrael

by Moshe Burt

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.

A jaw-dropping commentary citing Sifrei 144 and Sanhedrin 32b on the 3rd posuk of our parsha notes on: “Tzedek, Tzedek tierdof…”:

“Shall you pursue” rather than “shall you judge” indicates that the verse is addressed to litigants, rather than the judges. Although they [litigants] may take their case to any competent court, they should make an effort to take it to a court which has the most learned and righteous judges. (Sefer Zikaron, Mesiach Ilmim, Gur Aryeh)

This righteousness extends as well to the litigants regarding their selection of Batei Dinim to adjudicate their case — that the Beit Din should be chosen based the scholarship and righteousness of the judges, not based on which Beit Din is known, or more apt to rule in favor of one or the other of the litigants.

The pursuit of justice opening our parsha leads into Torah’s enunciations in numerous other areas; i.e. prohibitions against blemished offerings, robbery and extortion, as well as avodah zora. Torah also relates that any Kohen (expressed as “Levite”) could come and minister together with the Kohanim of a particular watch and share in the division of that watch’s prescribed communal offerings.

Our parsha also enunciates laws concerning criteria for when, and qualifications for appointment of a king, a head of state for Am Yisrael — the paradigm for justice, loyalty to Hashem and Torah, as well as for national unity.

Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch z”l, in the new Hirsch Chumash (English translation by Daniel Haberman) renders our parsha regarding Malchei Yisrael (kingship) (The new Hirsch Chumash on Sefer Devarim, Perek 16, posukim 14-15. pages 394-401):

“When you come to the land that Hashem… is giving you, and you have taken possession of it and will dwell in it, you will say: I will set a king over me, like all the nations… you will then set a king over yourself whom Hashem… will chose. From the midst of your brethren shall you set a king over yourself; you cannot set over yourself a foreigner who is not your brother.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 16, posukim 14-15)

R’ Hirsch comments (R’ Hirsch commentary in the new Hirsch Chumash on Sefer Devarim, Perek 16, posukim 14-15. pages 394-401) on — “When you come to the land that Hashem… is giving you, and you have taken possession of it and will dwell in it”:

…These words… state unequivocably at the very outset that it is not the role of Melech Yisrael to conquer the land and secure Israel’s possession of it; it is not his role to build up power to be used externally. For it is Hashem Who gives the Land to Israel, and with Hashem’s help Israel will conquer the land and dwell safely under His protection…. For these purposes Israel does not need a king: all Israel needs to do — so that Hashem’s promises may be fulfilled — is to be “Israel”; to prove that it is indeed the people loyal to Hashem’s Torah: to win a moral victory over itself from within so as to be sure of victory also against all enemies from without.

…This need [kingship] can arise for only one reason: … to assure the sole factor on which Hashem’s protection and blessing depend; … the nation be “Israel”, the people loyal to Hashem’s Torah.

You, too, [Israel] will feel the need for national unity in order to obtain the greatest good for yourself… for this purpose, you, too, will seek to establish national unity by means of subordination to one head of state. But… your head of state will… stand out… first among all Jews loyal to Torah…

Imbued with the spirit of your [referring to Am Yisrael] mission, he will seek to win over all hearts and minds to this spirit, in thought, word and deed. With the power of his word, his personal example, and his personal prestige, he will combat anything that will violate this spirit. You are to place all of your resources at his command, so that he may fight for and defend your national mission internally.

Rav Hirsch then makes this jaw-dropping observation, perhaps a prophesy about our times:

Indeed, this is the true vocation of the king in Israel, for… the nation was faced with a threat; the alienation of its individual segments from their one common moral task as a nation. The appointment of a king is meant to combat this danger. (ibid., R’ Hirsch commentary)

R’ Hirsch seems to have outlined the paradigm L’Chatchila (the way things oughta be) mission of Malchei Yisrael, as mentioned above, which seems to be maintenance of a national spirit of unity and loyalty to Hashem and Torah. This author’s understanding of a king’s mandate is the pursuit of Torah righteousness toward all segments of Am Yisrael in all aspects of national life, rather than creating a divisive nation, an Am divided and conquered by equivocating, vacillating anti-Torah politicians who lack, or have lost a handle on the spiritual ability to truly know why they are here and why a modern-day Israel exists.

When considering our present situation today where our “possession” of and “dwelling” in Eretz Yisrael is incomplete, consider again the consequences of not possessing the entirety of Eretz Yisrael:

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

Further, the second part of Perek 16, posuk 15 of our Parshat delivers an important message to be heeded in today’s Israel:

“You cannot set over yourself a foreigner who is not your brother.”

Of course, the B’nai Yisrael cannot set over itself any type of foreigner. But, by extension, any foreigner, any non-Jew ought not, cannot wield governing power, be it executive or legislative or de-facto over a true Jewish sovereignty. For WE ARE a Jewish sovereignty, a Jewish nation and not under the dominion of any foreign entity — not the Obamanator, or any other foreign personage or entity. Torah tells that those foreigners willing to live in israel — under a Jewish sovereignty are welcome provided they live by and obey the rules of a Jewish sovereignty. But they ought not, cannot have legislative governmental power over Am Yisrael.

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

Good Shabbos, Chodesh Tov!

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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.

Parshat Re’eh 5774 — Seeing and Acting with Chessed, Kindness Toward Others vs Consequences of Contempt and Prejudice

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, August 16th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

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

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

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sign up to this list, and 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 Re’eh 5774 — Seeing and Acting with Chessed, Kindness Toward Others vs Consequences of Contempt and Prejudice

by Moshe Burt

According to Rashi, Moshe Rabbeinu begins our Parshat Re’eh by informing the B’nei Yisrael about the Brachot (blessings) and Klalot (curses) to be pronounced to them from Mount Gerizim and Mount Eval upon their entry to Eretz Yisrael.

Moshe Rabbeinu continues his mussar saying: to B’nai Yisrael:

“Behold, I set before you … a blessing and a curse; the blessing if you heed the commandments of Hashem, and the curse, if you will not observe his commandments. (Sefer Devarim, Perek 11, posukim 26-27)

Toward the end of the parsha, we are informed:

“If there be among you a destitute person of one of your brothers within your cities in your land which Hashem … gives you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brother.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 15, posuk 7)

This author views “V’ahavtah, L’rei’echa Kamocha”, that which Hillel told the Ger “on one foot” as summing up the entire Torah: wanting for your brother what you would want for yourself, and not wanting for your brother what you would not want for yourself, as the link which binds these two these p’sukim of our Parsha.

One of the most illustrative stories that is told, whether it really occured or is a tale with a moral, regarding the link between these posukim is one cited in Rabbi Mordechai Katz’s sefer L’lmod U’Lamed (page 170) on our parsha about the consequences of lacking Chesed:

There was once a man who enjoyed all of the good things in life; successful business, devoted wife, a beautiful, spacious home. He was content to continue this good life indefinitely.

One day, as he sat down to a sumptuous meal, there was a knock at the door. A beggar was seeking a few spare morsels of food to suffice his hunger. The man responded scornfully, as he slammed the door; “Why don’t you go out and earn a living instead of depending upon others to support you”.

Not long afterwards, the man noticed that his business began to decline. He soon had to cut back on his lifestyle by pawning off many of his valuable clothing and belongings. The business downturn continued unabated. He gave up all of his furniture and soon, his house as well. His wife volunteered to find work to pay for food but the man refused. Feeling ashamed at not being able to support his wife, he divorced her.

Several months passed and the wife found a new suitor. He was a newly wealthy man and they married and established a household.

Once again, one night as the couple were preparing for dinner, there was a knock at the door. A beggar appeared asking for food. The new husband was much more Chessed oriented than the previous one. He invited the beggar in and provided him with enough food and money for weeks. The beggar, eyes downcast, accepted the Chessed gratefully.

After the beggar departed, the husband noticed a strange look on his wife’s face and asked what was wrong. She explained, “I knew that beggar. He was my first husband. He looked so thin and pale that I hardly recognized him. How sad to see a man sink so low.”

The husband thought for a moment and said, “If that was your first husband, then I just realized something. Do you remember that a beggar once came to your previous home asking for bread and was turned away? Somehow, good fortune seemed to come to me after that and I became wealthy.” We are told, “he who closes his ears to the cry of the poor will himself cry out and not be heard.” (Mishley 21:13) (L’lMode U’Lamed, pages 170-171.)

It is against the background of the two posukim cited above and the consequences of lacking Chesed that one could speak of the importance of a myriad of chassadim (kindnesses).

During the war against Hamas terrorism; their kidnap and cold-blooded murder of three teenage Yeshiva boys, their encroachments into Israel’s heartland hoping to kidnap Jews, their rockets, mortars, tunnels — emanating from Gaza, we have seen Am Yisrael come together as one in ways not seen in many years. Jews have come together in unity behind OUR IDF soldiers boosting spirits of the Chayalim sky-high with supplies of foods, toiletries, and other tools and necessities which the army for whatever reason is unable to supply them. Countless tehillim assemblies take place, both by men and women. Kohanim convey Hashem’s blessings upon the soldiers and their families, and much more — kindnesses to numerous to list here.

But have we done enough? Is our unity full-hearted, complete, perfected, without even a whiff of any beneathe-the-surface prejudice? This jaw-dropping headline — “Hareidi MKs Condemn Attack on IDF Soldier in Beit Shemesh”, and quote from Israel National News:

… Extremists attacked a reserve soldier returning home from the front Monday, according to several reports, as he came home to Beit Shemesh to visit his parents and pray at a local synagogue.

“His two children were very frightened,” an eyewitness told Walla! news Tuesday. “The extremists cursed him, threw stones at his car, and ordered him to leave the neighborhood.”

The incident unfolded on Hillel street at about 10:00 pm, according to the report. The extremists called the reservist a “Nazi” and “vermin.”

Several other eyewitnesses told Arutz Sheva on Tuesday that friends and neighbors of the reserve soldier condemned and apologized for the incident, helped him recover and offered to pay for the damage.

MK Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) said in a radio interview this morning on Kol Yehudi that “there is no sane person who does not condemn the attack on an IDF soldier in Beit Shemesh last night.”

“This is a serious crime, a terrible injustice to the public and an attempt to defame an entire community,” he continued. “The police should take care of
these hardened criminals.”

It hurts deeply that both the reputation of Beit Shemesh and the Chessed and unity of Am Yisrael are once again besmirched by a small, but violent element. In short, there can be zero-tolerance for such actions, as described above, by a criminal element linked to any sector of Jews, particularly if linked to any sectors of Observant Jews. Such individuals should be separated, sequestered from their families and community, not counted in a minyan for tefillah and brought before Beit Din, and if not before a Beit Din, then to the courts and justice system and their families be made to pay restitution for physical damages, whether to the soldier or his property, and to cover costs of victimized soldier’s trauma counseling. And, in this author’s judgement, Rabbanim in the community where these criminals live, and certain politicians who have coddled and tolerated this element for years, due to their fear of this element’s violence against their very persons, share responsibility for the acts of these criminals.

It seems to this author that those who harbor such complete hatred and contempt for their fellows have missed the moral of Rav Mordechai Katz’s story above. It would seem that this moral extends to suffering the consequences of lacking kindness and understanding toward others, even others who seem not to be exact copies of you.

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

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt 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.

Parshat Eikev 5774: The Eikev Mitzvot, Tefillot, Aleinu– Triggers for B’nei Yisrael’s Plea for the Ge’ula?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, News Reports on Saturday, August 9th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Eikev is being co-sponsored by Avraham & Elana Lewis and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh in honor of those who teach and give over Torah and to Kol Klal Yisrael , and by Yisroel & Miriam Schneider of Givat Shaul in Yerushalayim in honor of our Chayalim — may they remain safe, healthy and strong. To the Lewis and Schneider families, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Eikev 5774: The Eikev Mitzvot, Tefillot, Aleinu– Triggers for B’nei Yisrael’s Plea for the Ge’ula?

by Moshe Burt

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 (ordinances) and you guard them and do them, that Hashem Ke’ilokecha will guard the convenant for you and the kindness which He swore to your forefathers.” (Sefer Devarim Perek 7, posuk 12)

Bearing this in mind, the Stone Chumash (Parshat Eikev pages 980-981) equates Eikev:

“you will hearken [listen]“: in midrashic terms as meaning the “heel”. That is 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, the small details are 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 this Eikev as 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.

Later in the Parsha, there are these posukim:

“For the land to which you come, to possess — is not like the land of Egypt from where you came…” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 11, posuk 10.)

“The land which you are crossing to occupy…. is therefore a land constantly under Hashem Keilokecha’s [Our Lord's] scrutiny; the eyes of Hashem Keilokecha are on it at all times, from the beginning of the year until the end of the year.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 11, posukim 11 & 12)

But Rabbi Zelig Pliskin cites in “Growth Through Torah” (pages 405-406) on our Parsha — Devarim, Perek 8, posuk 17:

“[Lest] you will say in your heart, My power and the strength of My hand did for me all of this success.”

R’ Pliskin says on the above posuk:

Don’t allow a feeling of righteousness to cause you to be conceited…. the Brisker Rav, Rabbi Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchik: …this verse also applies to someone who says, “It was due to my personal spiritual merits that we were victorious.” We should always realize that what the Almighty does for us is due to His kindnessand compassion and we should not feel that it is our own righteousness and merits that brought success.

R’ Pliskin, in citing the Brisker Rav, equates the above posuk and feelings of conceit over financial success or victory over an enemy in time of war. But one could question: could it be that conceit — engrained societal conceit has combined with, or is part and parcel of peer-group pressure — macho machismo regarding one’s way of tefillot which seemingly evolves and becomes learned, engrained and systemic from the years of Yeshiva katana and reinforced by macho speed competitions in Yeshiva high schools regarding a Ba’al Korea’s rendition of Chazarot HaShatz (repetition of Shemonah Essrei), leyning, reciting of Aliya brachot (blessings over the Torah), Aleinu and more?

This author previously blogged the following:

But isn’t today’s corrupt, evil and pretentious governance but a mirror reflection of us — our self-centeredness, our insensitivity, indifference and time-expediency. Just as our ancestors “fled from the mountain of G’d like a child running away from school”, don’t WE act the same way?

After a seemingly No-kavanah (no-thought, non-contemplative) break-neck repetition of Shemoneh Esrei, we have the unmitigated gall to blow through Aleinu at the speed of a 100plus mph Arnoldis Chapman fastball in a mad rush to say kaddish, and then flee out of Shul like a wild herd, like kids running from school lest they be piled with more lessons and homework? It often seems as if we treat tefillot, particularly the Aleinu prayer, lightly, as if they were small details in life’s rush, rather than as a thrice-daily major expression of dialogue with Hashem and a key to Hashem’s bringing about the Redemption of B’nei Yisrael.

Peer-group pressure, fear that their peers will look at them impatiently wondering “what’s taking so long?”, compells many to just want to be finished with tefillot, no matter the break-neck speed. Seemingly, not a mili-second of thought is given as to whether or not Hashem desires this type of tefillah and dialogue. And it is the same “system”, the same level of indifference and insincerity of intent which permiates the 30 – 45 second Aleinu — particularly the tendencies to either blow through Aleinu’s second paragraph at break-neck speed, or to blow it off altogether. And so the tefillah of Aleinu, having been blown through for generations in the mad-dash to be through with it, seems the paradigm Eikev Mitzvah. But more than that, is there not a certain arrogance, a certain disregard for one’s fellows: those who for deeper concentration and spiritual reasons, as well as for pronounciation purposes, i.e. they can’t make their mouths run miles a second, cannot finish Aleinu at break-neck speed? And what messages does break-neck speed send to Hashem? And, as this author has asked in the past; are we not disrespecting our brethren as well as showing Hashem insufficient honor and sincerity?

Aleinu L’Shabeiyach: The verbalization of OUR Chiyuv — our obligation as Jews to praise and glorify Hashem’s name. Aleinu is the most often said, the most repetitious and unchangeable tefillah, yet the least respected of all of our tefillot. Unfortunately, few of us even bother to take the time, with missile-launched vocalization of the tefillah, to even focus on the meanings of it: that Yehoshua davened it forwards, backwards, sideways through as the Jews encircled Yericho and the Shofars blew until Yericho’s walls fell in heaps.

Thinking back to last year, this author recalls a Shabbos Drash by Rav Chaim Zev Malinowitz, Shlita, just before Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av. In that Drash, R’ Malinowitz spoke out that we’ve got to feel the void of being without, and feel the need for the Beit HaMikdash. He suggested that we say and internalize daily the Parsha of The Tamid Offering. He equated The Tamid Offering with Sh’ma Yisrael. And he equated the second paragraph of Aleinu with the “Y’hei Sh’mei Rabbah…” — “May His great Name” of the Kaddish.

The Artscroll siddur (page 56 in Nusach Sefard edition) explains that:

“Y’hei Sh’mei Rabbah…” has an enormous cosmic effect…. Halacha states… respond[ing] to Kaddish takes precedence over… respond[ing] to any other prayer, even Kedusha or Borchu. (Mishne Breurah 56:6)

The Talmud (Shabbos 19) teaches that one must respond “Y’hei Sh’mei Rabbah…” with… his total concentration (Rashi, Tosafos)

And so, Rav Malinowitz equated the second paragraph of Aleinu: the “Al Kein N’kaveh L’cha” — which we learn was the prayer of Teshuvah uttered by Achan, who violated Hashem’s ban on taking spoils from Yericho [which were Holy to Hashem and were to go to the Mishkan Treasury (The Living Nach, Early Prophets, pages 17-18)], with the “Y’hei Sh’mei Rabbah…” of Kaddish with someone who acquired a property and enters the bank to apply for a loan to start up a business on the property. If the applicant has no formalized written business plan, only the spoken word with no facts and figures to back it up, he’s rejected out-of-hand. But with a formal business plan, architectural plans, etc, his loan request has a chance of being satisfied. Just an additional note here: We learn that three of the first four letters of the paragraph “Al Kein” — Ayin Khaf Nun — spell out Achan’s name.

It took a while for this author to understand the logic of a possible connection between “Y’hei Sh’mei Rabbah…” and the paragraph beginning “Al Kein N’kaveh L’cha”, but it would seem that “Y’hei Sh’mei Rabbah…” — “May His Great Name be blessed forever and ever” stands as the mission statement of the “business plan” of B’nei Yisrael, whereas the second paragraph of Aleinu: the “Al Kein N’kaveh L’cha” is the nuts and bolts, the details, the achitectural drawings, etc. of making the “business plan” a reality, making it happen. The second paragraph of Aleinu, rather than being an afterthought to be blown off or overlooked, ignored, mumbled and tread on with one’s heels, seems the justification behind B’nei Yisrael’s pleas to Hashem to bring us the Ge’ula Shlaima and to restore our Beit Hamikdash and the actualization of our Mishkan, our Menorah and our daily offerings.

Rabbi Asher Baruch Wegbreit, in sefer, “The Power of Aleinu”, based on Abudraham and which belongs being among the s’forim on the shelves of EVERY Orthodox Shul (even Chabad), goes further noting on Aleinu’s 2nd paragraph:

If we’re preoccupied with our daily concerns, apathetic to Hashem restoring His Divine Presence, and we mindlessly mumble words asking for the Redemption without meaning it, we will witness a “mundane” Redemption — i.e., through political and technological developments. But if we pray for the Redemption as is mentioned in our daily prayers, including Aleinu, with great fervor on a persistent basis, and if we put our emotions into them and actually, sincerely “hope to Hashem,” we can trigger an extremely miraculous Redemption — full of stunning events that will be far beyond those that took place during the Exodus from Egypt.

The geirush, the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif 9 years ago seems but a paradigm representing the sum total of the comparable smaller evils coming from same place — self-centeredness, conceit, insensitivity, indifference — which were perpetrated Bein Adom L’Chaveiro — Jews against their fellow Jews, and indeed, evils Bein Adom L’Mokom (against Hashem) as well. Evils, such as the expulsion of our Jewish brethren from Gush Katif, or expelling male spouses from their homes and towns in Yehuda Shomron and banning them from returning to their families are attrocities perpetrated by the political rashayim (evil-doers) who exploit our self-centeredness, our penchant for divisiveness, sectorial rivalries, discord as well as insensitivity and indifference to our fellows in order to divide and conquer the masses that they govern.

And so, it stands repeating; Indeed! Is it any wonder why we get the governance that we have? Is it any wonder why we are all played off against each other — divide and conquer? Is our governance not a reflection of who we are? And one could ask: Has our abject failure with the Eikev Mitzvot held back the Ge’ula from us?

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

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of http://www.sefer-torah.com/ The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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The Simple Truth About Islamic Terror and the Gaza War

Filed under: Gaza Operation, News Reports on Monday, August 4th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Al-Jazeera reporter Maha Abu Al-Kas is startled when a rocket is launched from nearby during a live news report from Gaza on July 31, 2014.