Parshat Eikev 5776: Connecting the Eikev Mitzvot and “This Mitzvah” and the Centrality of Shabbos

Filed under: News Reports on Friday, August 19th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off







Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Eikev is being sponsored by R’ Joel and Shelly Padowitz of Ramat Beit Shemesh in thanks to Hashem for all the kindness He has bestowed upon us. To the Padowitz family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses and good wishes.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

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Parshat Eikev 5776: Connecting the Eikev Mitzvot and “This Mitzvah” and the Centrality of Shabbos

by Moshe Burt

The beginning of Parsha Eikev is equated in terms of one’s being attentive to the little Mitzvot; the details, the Mitzvot that one tends to overlook, to ignore, to tread one’s heels on in the mad dash, but without which the Jewish people would lack the merit which sets us apart from common man.

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

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

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 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.

With that said, in a previous vort on Parshat Eikev, this author equates the Eikev mitzvot with concentration and intent during tefillot, including Aleinu: the most oft-repeated, unchangeable prayer of all — the prayer which some scholars have understood may be the culmination of all tefillot which preceded it.

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

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

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

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

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

The primary function of reciting Shema is to accept upon oneself the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven…. Rabbi Levi, who claimed that the Mitzvah is reciting the Shema, believed that the most fundamental aim of… Torah… was for man to connect himself to Hashem.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A distorted sense of “acting for the sake of Shemayim” by way of “…a novel, misleading ideology, that evil must be tolerated by incorporating it into the Camp of Israel.” (R’Rafael Katzenellenbogen as cited in Studies in the Weekly Parsha, by Yehuda Nachshoni referring to R’ Sonnenfeld re: Parshat Balak, page 1115)

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

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Va’etchanan 5776: Can We Really Feel Consolation, Even Over a Decade After the Expulsion; As Terrorist Murderers Attack Us on OUR Land with Impunity?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Sunday, August 14th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Va’etchanan is being sponsored by David and Julie Morris of Ramat Beit Shemesh who wish Mazel Tov to their family on the birth of a new granddaughter: Roni Chemda Gilad. To the Morris family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses and good wishes.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Va’etchanan 5776: Can We Really Feel Consolation, Even Over a Decade After the Expulsion; As Terrorist Murderers Attack Us on OUR Land with Impunity?

by Moshe Burt

The Haftorah for our Parsha begins:

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

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

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

Over a decade later, the disbelief and the hurt continues to be fresh, too raw, too festering, too agonizing for those of us who acted on behalf of our Gush Katif brethren. And the pain of the past two years of the ongoing Islamic Terrorism War on Us on OUR Land — the Talmudei Chachamim murdered in the Shul in Har Nof, the young teenage girl bludgeoned as she slept in her bed in Kiryat Arba, the overturned auto of the Rabbi who was murdered and the Rebbetzin seriously injured on a recent Erev Shabbos on a road in Har Hevron and more are all yet too freshly raw and festering, as a bellicose rhetoric by a government of equivocating secular politicos amounts to nothing.

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

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

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

Later in our Parsha, Moshe Rabbeinu provides further explanation of the laws concerning the Cities of Refuge (Irei Miklat), first enunciated in parshat Masei (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 35). Shem Mishmuel (by R’ Shmuel Bornstein, as translated R’ Zvi Belovski, pages 380-382) indicates that the laws regarding Cities of Refuge connect with Moshe Rabbeinu’s recitation of “the decrees and… the ordinances” to express that there is hope and consolation even for the accidental murderer who has lost his life force and must stay in a City of Refuge to avoid the deceased’s avenger.

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

Shem Mishmuel notes:

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

And after the destruction of the First and Second Beit HaMikdash, the starving, the famine, the persecutions, there was comfort and consolation that one day, the B’nai Yisrael would be redeemed and returned to our former state; a people in it’s land with it’s Beit HaMikdash for all time. But it would seem that this comfort, hope and consolation would have had to be an evolution as Jewish life, in whatever venue that they resided, eventually stabilized.

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

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

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

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

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

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

We must ask ourselves: Why are the gedolim taken? If Hashem wants to teach us… and not hurt us, then leave the Gedolim. We need them to lead us, to teach us. Michtav Eliyahu says that’s exactly the reason: People do mitzvot by rote, approaching Torah superficially, without seeing the holiness of Torah and life. They rely on the Gedolim to think and feel for them. …to get a bracha from [them]…. So Hashem takes the Godol, and then we no longer have anyone to do it for us. We are forced to think for ourselves. Then there’s hope thay we can be cured. You have to learn from the Godol how to be a godol yourself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Devarim 5776: Sefer Devarim, Tefillin, Unity and Distinguishing Halachot Mussar From Bias and Disdain

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, August 6th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

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

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate 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 Devarim 5776: Sefer Devarim, Tefillin, Unity and Distinguishing Halachot Mussar From Bias and Disdain

by Moshe Burt

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

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

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

This book is qualitatively different from the other four. Chazal tell us (in Megillah, page 31b) that the curses in Sefer Devarim were said by Moshe himself. We may assume… that the material in Devarim, while of course presented by Hashem to Moshe, contains more human input, however slight, than the previous four books. Perhaps it can be considered an in-between stage, bridging the gap between the main Written Torah… and the Oral Torah. Devarim contains elements of both — it is the written word of Hashem…, but with an element of human content, like [oral] Torah.

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

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

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

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

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

The report continues:

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

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

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

The politician’s addition was kind of a lame caveat considering his initial statement — words which should never have been uttered in the first place. This author countered in a talk-back comment on the report:

I always learned: “Born a Jew, Always a Jew.” Reform Judaism is an oxymoron. But Reform Jews are STILL Jewish. Is [this political leader] saying that any Jew not Orthodox is not a Jew?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ex-Minister Gidon Saar commented on the Jerusalem gay pride parade…:

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

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

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

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

Good Shabbos and Daven Hard, Fast Easy on Tisha B’av!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Masei 5776: Consequences of Not Possessing the Entirety of Eretz Yisrael and of Permitting Terrorist Subversives to Remain/Enter the Land

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, July 30th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Masei is dedicated lilui nishas for recent terrorism fatalities, including Hallel-Yaffa bat Amichai (Ariel) and Micha’el ben Yehuda (Mark), as well as for a full recovery for Chava Rachel bat Ayelet HaShachar (Rebbetzin Mark).

This Parshat HaShevua is also dedicated to the organization Hebrew City whose mission is the restoration of Tel Aviv as a Jewish city by ending the infiltration of Tel Aviv by migrant Africans who violently harass and endanger Jewish lives.

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 Masei 5776: Consequences of Not Possessing the Entirety of Eretz Yisrael and of Permitting Terrorist Subversives to Remain/Enter the Land

by Moshe Burt

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

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

These posukim literally scream out from our Torah to this very generation!

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

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

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

R’ Shimson Rafael Hirsch z”l provides additional enlightenment on the abovementioned posukim the new Hirsch Chumash (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Rabbi Daniel Haberman) which hold important lessons not heeded by contemporary Israeli governance, institutions and political entities (pages 666-667):

On posuk 52: You must first make the Land fit to be your yerusha [inheritance] by removing all traces of polytheism, and only then will you be able to settle in it.You are not inheriting the Land by your own power and might; rather, Hashem’s will and Hashem’s power are giving you the Land. So, too, the division of the Land shall not be done according to arbitrary norms, but according to Hashem’s instruction and decision. Hence, you will not be able to avoid fulfilling the first basic condition on which Hashem makes the [this] gift of the Land dependent.

On posuk 55: …Apparently, …the meaning here: If you allow the pagan inhabitants to remain in the Land, they will become a hedge [a guard, a protection] around their pagan practices; the nature of these practices will be concealed from your perception and insight, and you will not find fault with them. Tolerance toward the pagan inhabitants will beget tolerance toward paganism. If you tolerate paganism and find justification for it within Hashem’s Land, you will cease to belong to Hashem alone, and… you will be deprived of your right to exist in the Land, and you will not be worthy of protection …. When Hashem removes His protection of you…, those toward whom you have been so tolerant will become your enemies and will oppress you in your own land.

On posuk 56: In the end, you will not be worthy of Hashem’s Land, and Hashem will expel you… as He had intended to expel the nations through you.

This author recalls a paradigm of B’nei Yisrael possessing Eretz Yisrael as discussed several years ago at this time by that kiruv legend, Jeff Seidel regarding Parsha Pinchas:

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

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

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

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

Unfortunately, in today’s Jewish State, we have become handcuffed in “political correctness” by a small, numerically insignificant number who act as if they merely reside in Israel: the intelligencia, the elitists, the college and university professors, those with the bulk of the consolidated financial wealth, the ministerial engrained bureaucracies, the so-called “justice system” and the politicians; from the prime minister, to his cabinet, to at least 118 corrupt members of Knesset, who have all become embedded in, and have consolidated their hold and power over the masses. This numerically distinct, yet seemingly all-powerful minority has managed to brainwash, indoctrinate, coerce and inculcate the masses with the shekar of “Land for peace(sic)”, inter-faith “dialogue”, the “rights” of one’s enemies — either through attempting to erode and eradicate Torah in the land,or tolerating as acceptable stonings, drive-by ambush shootings such as that which took the life of a Rabbi and seriously injured his wife and injuring his offspring in their auto in the Har Hevron area on a recent Erev Shabbos, stabbings both in the streets and of a young girl asleep in her bed in Kiryat Arba, suicide bombings, bull-dozer terror attacks and more, or through reinforcing an engrained mindset amongst Israel’s masses of “ein ma’alah sot” (there’s nothing we can do).

These same “political correct” Israeli politicians, media and corrupt Israeli institutions who don’t drive out the pagans from Our Land actually welcome with open arms tens of thousands of subversive African migrants into South Tel Aviv. They accept and enable these terrorists-in-the-making who physically attack and terrorize Jews and take over the streets of South Tel Aviv, thereby both making it unsafe for Jews to travel on foot in the area and creating an economic windfall for area employers who hire them because they can pay them below minimum wages, while denying Jews jobs with living wages.

And so, because we seem not strong enough to possess the Land and to cause the enemy thieves, murderers and temporary “inhabitants” to leave, and, in fact, welcome them in: “those of them whom you leave shall be pins in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they will harass you upon the Land in which you dwell.”

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

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

Good Shabbos!

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

Parshat Matos 5776: The Lesson of Sh’vatim Gad and Reuven for Our Generation and Governance

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, July 23rd, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Matos is sponsored by Yosef Moshe and Chana Rosenberg of Ramat Beit Shemesh, dedicated for the health and wellbeing of their children and family. To the Rosenberg family, many thanks for your sponsorships and for your continued kindnesses.

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

Please 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 Matos 5776: The Lesson of Sh’vatim Gad and Reuven for Our Generation and Governance

by Moshe Burt

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

We find that after the rock-bottom event of the Ba’al Pe’or, the B’nai Yisrael FINALLY smelled what Hashem was brewing and unequivocably recognized Moshe Rabbeinu as their leader, as HaKadosh Borchu’s Annointed. The question is; Why, only now, did the Jews finally accept Moshe as Hashem’s Annointed Leader and ceased squabbling and rebelling? Was there something connecting the timing of this recognition with acquiescence by Am Yisrael to the knowledge that Moshe would not be leading the B’nai Yisrael into Eretz Yisrael? Was it that this latter recognition sunk into the collective consciousness of B’nai Yisrael and they came to the realization that, as the oft-recorded 80s disco tune went, “You don’t know what you got ’til you lose it”?

Near the beginning of our Parsha Matos, Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 31, posuk 5 states:

“So there were delivered from the thousands of the Children of Israel, a thousand from each tribe, twelve thousand armed for the legion.”

Rabbi Artscroll (The Artscroll Stone Chumash, page 905) cites Rashi who states, on the words “were delivered”:

This term implies that the Jewish warriors had to be coerced into going to war [against Midian during which they killed the 5 kings of Midian and the evil Bila'am]. This is to their credit, because they knew that Moshe would die when the war was won, and they did not wish to go, so that their triumph would not be at the cost of their leader’s life. For much of the forty years in the Wilderness, they complained to and about him, but now they showed their love for him and had to be delivered against their will.

And so B’nai Yisrael finally, unequivocally recognized Moshe Rabbeinu as their leader by their words and actions regarding the war itself, by Sh’vatim Gad and Reuven leading the nation in the war and by the inquiry of the daughters of Tzlafchad, descendants of Yosef (Joseph).

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

Moshe was quite angry at the two Sh’vatim. He was concerned lest Gad and Reuven would avoid taking part in the wars for Eretz Yisrael, that other Sh’vatim might follow suit and B’nai Yisrael might be condemned to wandering in the desert another 40 years.

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

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

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

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

But, the most poignant explanation of the situation comes from the Tiferet Yehonatan who is quoted in the sefer “Torah Gems” where he states, on “Shall your brothers go off to war, and shall you sit here?”:

“‘…When your enemies attack Israel — you shall sit here’ — you will remain in peace in whatever country you are living in? Do not think so for an instant, because a war in defense of Israel is a war for the survival of the entire Jewish people wherever they are.’” (Torah Gems, Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, Parsha Matos, page 156.)

This explanation is as poignant now; in the context of recent contemporary history, i.e. the geirush from Gush Katif and the Shomron and more recently, the meek, timid, equivocal reactions of Israel’s current so-called “most right-wing government ever” to the past nearly two years of the latest incarnation of the Arab/Islamic bombing, stone-throwing, hit-and-run driving/shooting, home-invading lethal, Jewish bloodletting, murderous terror war against our very existence.

What’s meant by the meek, timid, equivocal reactions of Israel’s current government? A soldier on trial because he fired at a downed terrorist murder to make sure the terrorist was in-fact dead in order to save his fellow soldiers. And after a 13 year old girl was shot as she slept in her bed in Kiryat Arba, the government promised a “new building tender” of 42 dwellings for Kiryat Arba only to have Kiryat Arba residents discover that this “new building tender” is a retread of an existing tender. And after a family was nearly obliterated — their vehicle overturned, the father, a Rabbi, murdered, his wife critically injured and 2 children injured by terrorists while traveling in their vehicle in the Har Hevron area on an Erev Shabbos, just a day after the attack on the young girl, the government announced that it will withhold from monthly tax transfers to the “PA” an amount equal to Mahmud Abbas’s monthly remuneration to the families of dead terrorists. Within a day or two after that announcement, we discover that the current month’s tax transfer was remitted in total, despite the government’s previous pronouncement.

So, again, the Tiferet Yehonatan provides this lesson from the confrontation between Moshe Rabbeinu and Sh’vatim Gad and Reuven — a lesson to be learned in our contemporary generations and by contemporary Israeli governance.

“‘…When your enemies attack Israel — you shall sit here’ — you will remain in peace in whatever country you are living in? Do not think so for an instant, because a war in defense of Israel is a war for the survival of the entire Jewish people wherever they are.’” (Torah Gems, Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, Parsha Matos, page 156.)

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

Good Shabbos!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Pinchas 5776: A Different Take on Pinchas and His Kehunah

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, July 16th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua is being co- sponsored by Reuven and Leah Goldman and Yedidiya and Miriam Kramer of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated to gabai’im of Beis Tefillah Yona Avraham. To the Goldman and Kramer families, many thanks for your sponsorship, support and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Pinchas 5776: A Different Take on Pinchas and His Kehunah

by Moshe Burt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rabbi Moshe Weissman, author of “The Midrash Says” writes in the final paragraph of rendering on Parshat Balak (“The Midrash Says” on Sefer Bamidbar, page 355):

With his courageous act, Pinchas restored Hashem’s honor. He ignored the importance of Zimri, who was a nassi, and of Kozbi, a Midyanite princess, thus demonstrating that Hashem’s honor matters above all. His achievement exemplifies the powerful results that can be achieved even by one individual who acts leshaim shemayim.

However, Shem Mishmuel (Shem Mishmuel, writings on the Parshiyot by Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, z”l, the Rav of Sochaczev rendered to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovsky, pages 356-358) cites the Zohar in providing a different take on Pinchas and his Kehunah:

Any Kohen who kills someone is forever invalidated from the Kehunah [priesthood], for his act certainly abrogates his spiritual level. As for Pinchas [after he killed Zimri and Kozbi], according to law he was excluded from the Kehunah forevermore. And because he was zealous for Hashem, He needed to give him [Pinchas] a brand-new Kehunah, for him and his descendants after him, for all generations. (Zohar HaKadosh 3:214a)

This text cannot mean that Pinchas received the Kehunah for killing Zimri. If so, it would not have been a reward. Rather, he [Pinchas] would have retained it, despite the fact that he should have lost it.

We have seen that he [Pinchas] was described as “zealous for Hashem” when he killed Zimri and Kozbi. He was not actually obliged to perform this execution, but was entitled to do so under a complex and misunderstood law (Sanhedrin 81b). Pinchas was a man of such spiritual sensitivity that he could not bear to witness Zimri’s flagrant sin and so acted to restore Hashem’s honor.

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

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

Good Shabbos!
**************************************************************
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Balak 5776: Toleration of “Novel, Misleading Ideologies” in Bamidbar and Today?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, July 9th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

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

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Balak 5776: Toleration of “Novel, Misleading Ideologies” in Bamidbar and Today?

by Moshe Burt

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

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

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

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

Perhaps Bila’am’s actions toward his donkey while enroute to meet Balak, and the resultant historical she-donkey’s monologue and rebuke of him might have been the inspiration behind a famous long-running American comedy series. It was back in the
days when American TV was still clean, slapstick and somewhat pure. You know the one:

Hello, I’m Mr. Ed!

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

There are many lessons that we draw from this sudden chain of events; Bila’am’s arrogance, his bias against Am Yisrael which drove him, even when his donkey’s path was blocked, and his deliberate attempts to circumvent and override the Will of Hashem in attempting to curse Am Yisrael. In the incident with his donkey, Bila’am was unable to see or perceive the obstacle, the moloch, which stood in the way of the donkey’s path.

There is a profound lesson here for us today as the media, intelligencia, academia and political elites attempt to subvert the masses, create biases among the various sectors of Am Yisrael and orchestrate actions by successive Israeli governments such as to jeopardize the nation’s security and sovereignty.

Shem Mishmuel adds this from Chazal (page 351):

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

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

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

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

The Midrash Says (page 351) describes how:

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

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

Zimri reacted by brazenly challenging Moshe in public.

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

R’Rafael Katzenellenbogen is cited in Studies in the Weekly Parsha, by Yehuda Nachshoni referring to R’ Sonnenfeld who noted that Zimri’s distorted sense of “acting for the sake of Shemayim” evolved from;

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

Zimri’s alleged “L’Shem Shemayim” model; bringing co-habitation with Moabite women into the camp of B’nai Yisrael lest men go looking for it outside, i.e., at the Midianite/ Moabite Bazaar where the co-habitation was an enticement and seduction to the avodah zora Ba’al Pe’or, seemed a cover for his (Zimri’s) true motivations and intentions.

Zimri’s “In your face, Moshe” demeanor appeared as motivated by lust for power, just as Korach’s true motivations were covered by rationale of accusation of nepotism against Moshe Rabbeinu and Aaron.

Recently, a new political entity handed out a “Q and A” flyer during a presentation of its positions on various issues. One of the Q and A’s read as follows:

What is your position about public transportation on Shabbos?

“Bechira” is a value shared by all Jews, from the most religious to the least. It is not the state’s place, nor is it G’d’s desire, that the state force religion. We will provide an atmosphere to encourage people to keep Shabbos, but each community will make
its own decisions, and private companies can fulfill those needs.”

As outlined in a previous vort, the phrase “private companies”, in the context of transporting a public, or a segment of a public, is an oxymoron — a contradiction in terms.

How closely does one political entity’s benign attitude regarding issues relating to Shabbos observance on a public level in the name of national cultural “unity”, or certain liberalized positions regarding family purity issues by certain contemporary so-called “poskim” mirror the Bamidbar model of toleration for the evil of “novel, misleading ideologies” by incorporating it into the Camp of Israel? What about “civil marriage” and L-G rights and same-gender marriages? And what about attempts to brand Israel as a “gay and swingers paradise” for economic gain? Or acceptance and embrace of evangelical financial and political support?

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

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Chukas 5776: The Importance of Chukim, and Their Role in Jewish History

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, July 2nd, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Parshat Chukas is being co-sponsored by Rabbi Harry and Judith Greenspan of Ramat Beit Shemesh, in memory of their parents, Falik ben Hertske, Miriam Ella bat Yisrael Eliezer HaCohen and Nachum ben Yosef and Janet bat Henry, all of blessed memory, and by Aron and Vered Cohen, also of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated lilui nishmas Shmuel Avraham ben David, Guy Shalem ben Yehudah, Yitzchak ben Iza and Shlomo ben Chaim. To the Greenspan and Cohen families, 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 Chukas 5776: The Importance of Chukim, and Their Role in Jewish History

by Moshe Burt

Our Parshat opens:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To appreciate his words fully…:

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

Rabbanim and commentators, throughout the generations, have indicated that at their deepest levels, all of Halacha could be viewed as Chukim which we humans don’t fully understand at their most Divine levels.

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

R’ Kaniel writes these powerful words:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Rabbi Artscroll” presents one answer to the “why” of Torah’s placement of the Parah Adumah with a brief commentary in The Stone Chumash ( Artscroll, “Stone Chumash”, Parsha Chukat, Perek 19, posuk 3, page 839) on the words at the beginning of our Parsha:

“…Speak to the B’nai Yisrael, and they shall take to you a completely red cow, which is without blemish, and upon which a yoke has not come.’”

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

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

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

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

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

The existant remedies brought about Haman’s downfall and hanging and the salvation of B’nai Yisrael.

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

Good Shabbos!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Korach 5776: Practical Lessons from Korach’s Rebellion for Today’s Contending Leadership Entities

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, News Reports on Saturday, June 25th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Korach is being co-sponsored anonymously L’ilui Nishmas for the Yahrtzeit of Aharon ben Yosef z”l as well as by R’ Barak and Sarah Schecter L’ilui Nishmas for Aviv ben Yair z”l. To our anonymous co-sponsor and to the Schecter family, many thanks for your co-sponsorships and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat Korach 5776: Practical Lessons from Korach’s Rebellion for Today’s Contending Leadership Entities

by Moshe Burt

Over the past several years, this author has cited a Torah Vort by Rabbi Scott Ressler of the Jeff Seidel Student Center who asked the following:

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

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

…Answer can be found in Rashi, the great medieval commentator, who writes that just as Korach’s family camped on the southern side of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), so did the tribe of Reuven. Rashi quotes the words of Chapters of the Fathers [Pirkei Avot], “woe to an evil person, and woe to his neighbor.” The 250 people met their death, simply because they were influenced by their neighbors! This points to the awesome influence that friends, neighbors and associates have on us.

The south side of the encampment seems to have been kind of a rough neighborhood full of apparent potential conspirators.

One could say the event of the Miraglim brought about an unholy alliance, the opening of the proverbial “Pandora’s Box.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shem Mishmuel relates a thought on Korach from Rashi;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There could be another understanding regarding Korach, with enduring lessons for today’s electorate and “leadership” contenders.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Again, googley-eyed Groucho:

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

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

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Shelach 5776: Today’s Ongoing War for the Jewish Soul and Against Laziness Amongst Am Yisrael and Parallels to the Miraglim

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, June 18th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

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

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

Please 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 Shelach 5776: Today’s Ongoing War for the Jewish Soul and Against Laziness Amongst Am Yisrael and Parallels to the Miraglim

by Moshe Burt

Our Parshat Shelach, and the affair of the miraglim — the spies, annually brings to mind the evolution of the Israeli media, academia, political, governmental scene which has brought us to the state of affairs we are facing and continue to face today, and conjures up ways in which today’s state of affairs could parallel the event of the miraglim in Bamidbar.

This state of affairs includes the Nation facing continuing threats of tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of rockets aimed at all parts of Israel by both Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, continued tolerance of seeming governmental indifference to Arab attacks upon Jews — near the Kotel, throughout Jerusalem and throughout Yehuda and the Shomron, whether by terror cells or, as we’ve seen of late, individual terrorist attacks using guns, knives, concealed explosives, or whatever deadly instruments the terrorists can get their hands on. We observe the governmental prohibition of Jews, even MKs, from praying at Har HaBayit (The Temple Mount), as well as alleged police framing of Jews regarding alleged violence and damage in so-called “Arab areas.” And we note the evolution of a leftist-politicized military establishment which prosecutes its soldiers for shooting-to-kill terrorists before the terrorist can kill them or their Jewish brethren.

Lest we forget the thousands of Hamas/PLO rockets which rained down upon southern Israel during the series of conflicts in Gaza since the expulsion of our Jewish brethren from Gush Katif. And we watch as an equivocal prime minister and government speak strong words against a “two-state solution”, only to eat those very words mere days or hours later. These all show clearly that the politicians, the elitist intelligencia, and many of the masses have stumbled and bumbled through numerous fiascos because they still have not learned and internalized the lessons which should have been gleaned from their previous fiascos, i.e., after then-prime minister Ehud Barak’s May, 2000 withdrawal of the military “like thieves in the night” from Southern Lebanon, or after Jew expelled Jew from Gush Katif, and historically, from the lessons of actions of the 10 corrupt spies. The fiascos of our govercnmental and military establishment have led to hundreds of thousands of Hamas and Hezbollah rockets aimed at targets throughout Israel, as well Hamas rebuilding its tunnels into Israel which were such a danger during the Gaza war of two years ago.

These fiascos provide great insight as to the consequences of the bourgeoning influence of today’s misguided spies, the leftist media, intelligencia, academia and the deeply entrenched leftist influence in Israel’s political institutions.

Thus, it seems that we continue experiencing a prolonged internal war for the soul of Am Yisrael reminiscent of events surrounding the Divinely-sanctioned directive by Moshe to send spies (miraglim) into Eretz Yisrael. Just as Am Yisrael cried needless, bitter tears in our Parshat Shelach, modern-day Israelis, many seemingly devoid of Emunah in The Almighty as they are bombarded with leftist endoctrinations and brainwashings, and lies and distortions framed as “facts”, throw their hands up in misguided fear, as if latter-day grasshoppers, bitterly proclaiming; “ein ma’alah sot, ein ma’alah sot.”

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

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

…Israel had been given a marital code at Sinai. Now they wished to be free of that code. Kesav Sofer connects this decline in morals with their earlier demand for meat. They… complained of domestic strife. They went on to develop their argument and claimed that the family quarrels were a result of the marital code; they were married to comparative strangers. Had they been permitted to marry people who were more closely bound to them by ties of blood, the families would be more…united; these quarrels about fish and meat would never have arisen. Moshe thought that the grumbling was about fish, meat and domestic strife and “it was evil in the eyes of Moshe.” But Hashem saw the deeper hidden motives — they wished to throw off moral restraints — and “Hashem was very wrathful.”

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

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

But it seems, at least to this author, that over the last number of decades, there has evolved various degrees of atzlus: laziness among B’nei Yisrael, both amongst secular and observant Jews.

Rabbi Henach Leibowitz, in his sefer “Majesty of Man”, cites Midrash in contrasting the success of Yehoshua’s spies: Calev and Pinchas, with the catastrophic failure of the spies appointed by Moshe in our parshat to scout out Eretz Yisrael. R’ Leibowitz cites Midrash (“Majesty of Man”, page 228):

…The primary factor which made Calev and Pinchas… so successful was their mesirut nefesh — willingness to give of themselves. Calev and Pinchas disguised themselves as salesmen, and went shouting through the streets of Yericho selling there wares so that no one would suspect them of spying.

The spies of Moshe, on the other hand, did not act with such mesirut nefesh. The cause of was a minute measure of atzlus… in them. It was this laziness that caused the nisi’im to view the situation in Eretz Yisrael without exerting the proper effort to achieve total clarity of vision. Their judgement was erroneous due to this small flaw. Had they exerted themselves properly, they would have seen the truth: conquering Canaan was within B’nei Yisrael’s power.

R’ Leibowitz goes on to cite Shlomo HaMelech as related in Devarim Rabbah 8:6):

An Atzel — a lazy person [re: going to learn]…. is having delusions of dangers and obstacles much greater than actually exist.

Shlomo HaMelech, though, is simply stating a fact of human nature: man avoids exertion. This force causes one to see events, actions and situations differently than they actually are. Shlomo HaMelech’s atzel created rationalizations due to his laziness.

As this author’s understands and interpolates then, among the observant, this possible atzlus reflects itself in areas such as fast-paced, auto-pilot tefillah without kavanah: intent, in the haphazard way that siddurim, Chumashim and other texts are replaced (or all to often not replaced) on their appropriate shelves in their rush to leave shul, leaving shul facilities in less than a respectful state and often not being sufficiently zealous for their fellow Jews and for Eretz Yisrael (thinking back to the expulsion of our brethren from Gush Katif an its run-up where many of us prioritized our own needs before those of our brethren). In this author’s understanding, inevitably there are many more such citations of atzlus not mentioned here.

Among the secular, its a case where they have been so misguided by generations of governmental, leftist-defeatist-cancer-infected military establishment, media and intelligencia elitist mythical “dogma” that, even being in close quarters in our small Medinat Yisrael, and having to interact with our various observant segments — sectors, they’ve been conditioned to abhor observance and thus seemingly lack the initiative — the mesirut nefesh to learn the truth. Add to that, the lack amongst most secular Jews to come to the aid of their Gush Katif brethren. And as with the observant sectors, inevitably there are many more such citations of atzlus not mentioned here. Thus is the war for the Jewish heart and neshama — Jews vs Israelis.

And matters are not helped by seeming atzlus on the part of certain rightist-activists who frequent Har HaBayit (the Temple Mount), the Ma’arat HaMachpela, etc. but who, in this author’s view, stumble down the slippery slope of being benign regarding transportation on Shabbos, stating: “each community will make its own decisions, and private companies can fulfill those needs” — leading to myriads of additional Halachic issues, thus acting hypocritically in full view of Hashem and of the nations, thus endangering, with their hypocrisy, our very sovereignty over our Jewish Holy Places which these activists embrace, and over the entirety of Eretz Yisrael.

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

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

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

What caused the Spies to become corrupted?

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

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

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

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

Rabbi Dr. Wakslak goes on to write:

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

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

And so, true to the form which both Nachshoni and Rabbi Dr. Wakslak describe, the disunity, and apparent mutual jealousy and distrust within the religious sectors today, coupled with the leftist, elitist intelligencia scoffers whose distorted historical revisionism have fed efforts by successive Israeli governments who sought, seek to divide and conquer, maintain, consolidate and perpetuate their secular kingdom at the expense of the governed and at the expense of Jewish sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael as well as against the advent of a REAL Jewish leadership. Such a Real Jewish leadership would be in nobody’s pocket, would not pander to certain sectors of the population for their votes by compromising Halacha, would owe no debts to today’s political hacks, would make no bargains with hacks who would throw any locality or segment of the governed “under the bus.” This Real Jewish Leadership would subserviant ONLY to Shemayim.

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

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

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

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

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