Parshat Beshalach 5775: Hashem vs the Prevailing Super-power, International Bodies of the Time

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, January 24th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off



Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua — Parshat Beshalach is being sponsored anonymously Lilui Nishmas Hillel ben Menachem Feldman. To our anonymous sponsor, many thanks for your sponsorship, and your continued kindnesses.

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

Please 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 Beshalach 5775: Hashem vs the Prevailing Super-power, International Bodies of the Time

by Moshe Burt

All of this talk over many years: “occupied territories”, “superpower(s)”, “two-state solutions”, “peace (or is that piece) talks”, — the synonyms go on and on. On the day after the Likud primaries, this author read this typically naive, or rather leftist agendized op-ed piece in The Jerusalem Post. Here are some quotes from this piece of work:

America supports the two-state solution, Bennett doesn’t. If Bennett wins, we could witness the relationship between the US and Israel turn even more sour. If the two-state solution is officially pronounced dead by Israel, Washington, which currently pulls all the strings, might get angry enough to put its foot down. Will the US stop merely “condemning” Israel’s actions and actually do something to change the status quo? I don’t know, but it will be harder to ignore with Israel under blatant far-right leadership.

Netanyahu’s government has been paying lip service to “two states for two people” almost as if to appease the Americans and the rest of the world only. Anyone who has half a brain and follows the conflict closely knows that too many people in power are opposed to this idea, and the actions on the ground go completely against the 2SS ["two-state solution (sic)" MB].

He might be the tipping point, the reason why the EU and others finally get involved, most likely by boycotting Israel just as we did with Russia.

One can’t really tell from the author’s name whether or not she is Jewish, but the brief bio published beneath the op-ed states:

The author is an independent travel and political blogger who has traveled extensively in Israel and visited the West Bank. Next year she hopes to volunteer and work as a journalist in the Middle East.

Another leftist wannabe heard from.

Not that Naftali Bennett would this author’s choice in upcoming elections, but if one clicks and reads the full op-ed, not only the above quotes, one notes the obvious: the total omission of any reference to Hashem, our Creator Who we, Am Yisrael, His Nation, ideally love, believe in, fear and serve.

This op-ed piece, and the multitudes of others — news reports, editorials, and other propaganda like it serve to further dumb-down the masses so that they accept and falsely, naively validate agendized myth, rather than the fact of our salvation by the Will of Hashem, i.e. our Divine legacy of Jewish sovereignty in Eretz Yisrael. But the salvation, the redemption of His Nation is precisely what our Parshat Beshalach is all about.

Rebbetzen Shira Smiles, in her sefer “Torah Tapestries” on Sefer Shemot (pages 57-58) cites Rav Chaim Friedlander (Sifsei Chaim, vol. 2, page 417) in discussing Hashem’s Oneness, Unity and Existence:

At Kri’as Yam Suf, the Jewish people understood the whole Divine plan…. They… saw clearly how enduring all of the years of slavery and suffering was a preparation for the ge’ula (redemption). B’nei Yisrael now fully appreciated the intricate Divine orchestration of events. Circumstances which had caused them pain were now understood as custom-designed pieces of Hashem’s puzzle. Pharaoh, for example, had repeatedly refused to release B’nei Yisrael, causing them much heartache and doubt. Later, this same stubbornness prompted Pharaoh to doggedly pursue the liberated Jews with his army, leading the Egyptians to meet their demise in the sea.

The Jewish people understood how… all the disparate elements of the physical world and time are all controlled by Hashem. They are manifestations of Hashem’s Unity, waiting to be revealed. The Jewish people appreciated masterful orchestration of the world and expressed it. Shirat HaYam is when they burst into song to articulate “ein od milvado” — nothing exists but Hashem.

Shem Mishmuel (Sefer Shem Mishmuel, Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski) renders translation of posukim and Rashi from Sefer Shemot:

“G’d went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them on the way and by night in a pillar of fire to provide them with light, so that they could travel by day and by night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night departed from before the people.” (Sefer Shemot, Perek 13, posukim 21-22)

“And I bore them on eagles’ wings, and I brought them to Me.” (Sefer Shemot, Perek 19, posuk 5)

“It was 120 mil [Shem Mishmuel footnote defining "mil": An early measure of distance, approximately a mile] from Ramses to Sukkot [the first stage of their journey after their Exodus (liberation from Egypt)], and they came there within an hour, as the verse says, ‘And I bore them on eagles’ wings.’” (Rashi on Sefer Shemot, Perek 19, posuk 5)

Rabbi Mordechai Katz, in his Sefer L’lmod Ulamed on our parshat Beshalach (pages 75-76) summarizes events leading to the miraculous crossing of the Reed Sea:

The Israelites had reached Etham on the edge of the wilderness when they were commanded to turn back and camp by the Reed Sea. There, Pharaoh would pursue them, thinking they were trapped in the wilderness.

As soon as the Jewish people had left, Pharaoh regretted letting them go. He assembled his whole army, which consisted of many soldiers and chariots, and pursued the Israelites. The Egyptians were soon on the heels of the Israelites who panicked and complained bitterly to Moshe. “It would have been much better for us to serve in Egypt than to die in the wilderness,” they cried. However, Moshe assured them that Hashem would once again fight for them. The guiding pillar of cloud moved to their rear, creating a veil of darkness that hindered the Egyptian advance. Moshe, at Hashem’s bidding, stretched out his hand over the Reed Sea and a strong east wind blew and divided the water. This enabled the Israelites to cross the sea on dry land. The Egyptians followed them into the seabed but were thrown into confusion by Hashem. Their chariot wheels became stuck in the wet sand. Then Moshe stretched his hand over the sea again, and the waters began to flow over the Egyptian army drowning the Egyptians and their animals.

A song of triumph was sung by Moshe and the children of Israel in which they praised Hashem’s infinite power in destroying the enemy. He would guide Israel safely into Canaan whose inhabitants were terror-stricken upon hearing of the Egyptian destruction.

When the Jews panicked by the Reed Sea, Moshe spoke to them (Sefer Shemot, Perek 14, posukim 13-14) and Hashem spoke to Moshe (Sefer Shemot, Perek 14, posuk 18) :

“… Do not fear! Stand fast and see the salvation of Hashem that He will perform for you today; for that which you have seen Egypt today, you shall not see them ever again!”

“Hashem will do battle for you, and you shall remain silent.”

“Egypt will know that I am Hashem, when I am glorified through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.”

So one could ask: How is it that the Jews, about whom history has irrefutably proven, have withstood inquisitions, expulsions, pogroms, mass murders, holocausts at the hands of the nations, and yet has survived for all time, whereas nations, empires have risen and fallen before our eyes?

This author holds that those politicians and governmental leaders who promulgate, as well as those governed who meekly accept as fact — ein ma’alah soat — an agenda of subservience, of subordination to a so-called super-power or to international bodies, have left Hashem, Our King, the Creator of All out of the equation of human history.

This author hearkens back to an essential point from Parshat Shemot as cited from Rav Chayim Shmuelevitz by Rav Zelig Pliskin in his Sefer “Growth Through Torah”:

As long as they [the Jewish people] were considered important and worthy of respect by themselves [self-respect and self-esteem], the Egyptians were not able to treat them in an inferior manner. Only when they considered themselves in a lowly manner could they be subjugated by others.

Rav Chayim refers to this as how the evil inclination deals with people, i.e. that once a person feels inferior, feels a sense of guilt and worthlessness, “then he is easy prey for being trapped by the evil inclination….”

As He did vs the Egyptians, Hashem will do battle for His Nation, a Jewish people, united as one in actions and intent, and will prevail over agendization and a mindset of surrender and subservience.

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

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

Parshat Bo 5775: The Two Bloods — Bris Milah, Korban Pesach — The Measure of Mesirus Nefesh and Worthiness in Our Times?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, January 17th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua — Parshat Bo is being anonymously sponsored. To our anonymous sponsor, many thanks for your sponsorship, and your continued kindnesses.

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

Please 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 Bo 5775: The Two Bloods — Bris Milah, Korban Pesach — The Measure of Mesirus Nefesh and Worthiness in Our Times?

by Moshe Burt

Parshat Bo is the one which, for me, annually relates to that crazy tune which played back “in the Old Country” a few decades ago, “Does Your Korbon Pesach Lose It’s Flavor Tied to the Bedpost Overnight?” (Actually, the real title to the song was “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose It’s Flavor on the Bedpost Overnight?”)

Over the years, this author has opened with this nutty parody because it cuts right to the chase, to the very heart of our Parshat. The lamb was seen by the Mitzriyim as one of their myriads of “gods”. Therefore, Hashem mandated the Mitzvot of taking the Korbon Pesach, publicly, slaughtering it and applying the da’am on Jewish doorposts. The going up from Mitzrayim (Egypt) to “…a land flowing with milk and honey …” — the Yetziyat Mitzrayim is as relevant to the National entity (B’nai Yisrael) today, as it was then, as it relates to emunah (belief in) and yirat (fear of) Hashem.

Rabbi Mordechai Katz, in his sefer L’lmod U’lamed (page 72) begins a vort on our Parshat:

Hashem was willing to save the Jews from their Egyptian captivity. But were the Jews ready to accept Hashem as their G’d? How would Hashem know, for man has Free Will with respect to fear of G’d. How could Hashem be sure of the Jews’ loyalty?

There was really only one way to be sure. If the Jews would offer to sacrifice their own lives for the sake of Hashem’s word, they would be worthy of His assistance. It was for that reason that Hashem asked them to prepare the Korban Pesach, the Pascal Lamb, publicly.

With B’nai Yisrael chomping at the bit for the redemption, for freedom from Mitzri bondage, Hashem directs them to take the Korban Pesach, and to perform Bris Milah on all males. Hashem commanded that the Korban Pesach must not be eaten by anyone who is uncircumcised. Indeed, taking the Pascal Lamb and slaughtering it publicly, in front of the Mitzriyim, and performing Bris Milah on Jewish males provided justification, validation of the worthiness of the Jews for Hashem’s liberation of them from bondage and for Jewish nationhood.

Rebbetzin Shira Smiles, in her sefer “Torah Tapestries” on Sefer Shemos (pages 29-30) relates a citing from the Navi Yechezchel (Sefer Yechezchel, perek 16, posukim 6-7 regarding Rashi on Sefer Shemos, Perek 12, posuk 6):

“I have passed by you and I saw you wallowing in your bloods and I said to you ‘By your bloods you shall live.’ …. and you [were] naked and unclothed.”

Our sages (citing Yalkut Shimoni, Shemos, page 195) explain that “unclothed” means stripped of Mitzvot. Hashem initially determined that Am Yisrael was unworthy of being redeemed. Therefore, he “clothed” them, enabling them to earn the merit to live through the performance of the two Mitzvot. Note that the word “blood” in this posuk is actually plural “bloods”, referring to two Mitzvot that involve blood…. Korban Pesach (the Passover Offering) and Bris Milah (circumcision): B’nai Yisrael’s implementation of these two “bloods” was the combined accomplishment that gave them life and sanctioned their salvation. Fittingly these verses from Yechezchel are recited at both the Pesach Seder and at a Bris Milah.

The Targum Yonatan… specifies [Commentary on Sefer Shemos Perek 12, posuk 13] that since circumcision was a requirement for males to participate in the Korban Pesach, both the blood of the korban Pesach and the blood from the Bris Milah were used in that fateful night. Further, regarding the placement of both bloods on the doorposts, Moshe told them (Sefer Shemos Perek 12, posuk 24) “Ushmartem et hadavar bazeh lechok lecha ulevanecha ad olam” (“You shall observe this matter as a statute for you and for your children forever”). From this…, we see that these Mitzvot have eternal significance.

But there was a third Mitzvah to the Yetziyat Mitzrayim. In the Sefer “Inspiration and Insight” — Discourses on the Weekly Parashah by the Manchester Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Yehudah Zev Segal, Shlita, Rav Segal (page 113) renders translation of Sefer Shemos, Perek 12, posuk 39, as well as Rashi’s comments and Yirmiyahu Perek 2, posuk 2:

“They baked unleavened bread with the dough that they had taken with them from Egypt, for it was not leavened, because they were driven out of Egypt and could not tarry there; nor had they prepared for themselves any provisions for the way. (Sefer Shemos, Perek 12, posuk 39)

This tells the praise of the Israelites, that they did not say “How can we go out to the desert without provisions?!” Rather, they had faith and went. It is regarding this that the prophet states (Yirmiyahu Perek 2, posuk 2), “[So said Hashem:] I remember for your sake the kindness of your youth, the love of your bridal days, how you followed Me in a wilderness in an unsown land.” What reward is stated afterward? “Israel is sanctified before Hashem, the choicest of His crop” (Rashi ibid.).

Rav Segal then writes (page 113):

…They became a nation whose pure unquestioning faith earned them their Creator’s praise. More than one million men, women and children headed for the Wilderness without provisions, not knowing how they would survive. They followed Hashem’s command in the way of a young child who unquestioningly accompanies his father on his travels. The child doesn’t worry how he will survive, for he has complete faith in his father’s judgement. Such was the pure faith of the Jewish nation…

Rebbetzin Smiles writes in the same vein, in her sefer “Torah Tapestries” on Sefer Shemos, (pages 33-34), by making reference to the term “mesirus nefesh” which is translated as “giving over the soul.” She writes citing a Shabbos HaGadol drosh in 1900 by Rabbi Pinchas Friedman:

Giving over your soul to something means making a statement of total committment. Serving Hashem with “mesirus nefesh” means coming to the deep realization that serving Hashem is all that matters to us. It matters more than life, and from that realization stems the act of serving Hashem “bechol nafshecha” (with all of your soul) (Sefer Devarim, Perek 6, posuk 5) — even if it means giving up that life… We also realize that the service of Hashem matters more than the selfish aspects of our lives.

So what is the sequel today to the “two bloods”? The Pesach Seder is accessible to all, whether at one’s home, with friends or even in the local Chabad House, and Bris Milah is routinely done on all Jewish males on the eighth day (or if complications of birth occur — as soon as the baby’s health permits)?

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his Sefer “Growth Through Torah” on our Parshat Bo (pages 161-162, 166, 168-169) provides some possible answers. Firstly, Rav Pliskin cites, renders and comments quoting The Ramban on Sefer Sh’mos Perek 10, posukim 16-17 regarding the suffering from the plague of locusts:

“Pharaoh called to Moshe and Aharon and said to them: ‘Now I beseech you, forgive my sin only this once, and pray to the Almighty that He may only take away this death.’” (Sefer Sh’mos Perek 10, posukim 16-17)

The Ramban comments…: Pharaoh realized that it was only Moshe who could intercede on his behalf with The Almighty. For this reason the first part of the verse [posuk 17] is written in the singular. But Pharaoh spoke derech mussar (in a polite and tactful manner)… and asked both Moshe and Aharon to pray for him and for this reason the latter half of the verse is written in the plural.

Rabbi Zissel of Kelm [a pillar of the mussar movement]… cited this… Ramban (Chochmah Umussar, vol. 1, page 456) and added that…. we should learn from Pharaoh. …He needed a favor from Moshe, and Aharon was not able to act on his behalf, he still spoke in front of Aharon in a manner that would not imply any slight to Aharon’s honor. This sensitivity should be our guide in dealing with other people.

If Pharaoh, the perpetrator of the enslavement and persecution of Am Yisrael, could make his requests in such a polite and tactful way to seek relief from Hashem’s plague, so much more so must one Jew, or one sector of Jews, speak to another in a polite and tactful way, free of coercion, invective or polarization, derisive name-calling or actions, so as to not slight the other’s honor.

Rav Pliskin then makes a point by rendering Sefer Sh’mos Perek 12, posuk 28 citing a comment by Rashi on the posuk:

When you want to have a positive influence on others make certain to model that behavior yourself.

“And the Children of Israel went and did as The Almighty commanded Moshe and Aharon, so they did.” (Sefer Sh’mos Perek 12, posuk 28)

Rashi comments…, “so they did” refers to Moshe and Aharon. They also did as The Almighty commanded about the Paschal lamb [the Korban Pesach]. The Torah tells us this as a lesson to anyone who wants to have a positive influence on others. It is not enough just to tell others to do good deeds. Your own behavior should serve as a model for them to follow. (Hagigai Osher)

Action is much more difficult than words. The best way to influence others is to be the type of person you wish others to be.

Again, Rav Pliskin seems, to this author, to be conveying that negative actions, such as coercion or derisiveness by even a few of one sector toward those of other sectors, achieves the very opposite of presenting a positive influence on others. Such actions make for disunity, divisiveness, polarization and downright hatred within Am Yisrael. It seems to this author that those who claim to hold themselves out as closest to Almighty, must hold themselves to a higher standard, a higher calling. In short, that now somewhat famous “sports-entertainment” quote makes the point: “To talk the talk, you gotta walk the walk.”

So how do we define “mesirus nefesh” (giving over the soul) today, in a context of B’nai Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael? Is it making aliyah? Is it commitment to selfless kindness L’Shem Shemayim and V’ahavtah L’rei’echa Kamocha toward one’s fellow Jews, regardless of sector? Is it connecting with, and possessing Eretz Yisrael, just as our ancestors “followed Hashem’s command” into the desert with “complete faith in their Father’s judgement”? Is it inserting one’s own body, at risk of billy club beating or arrest, to prevent further expulsions of Jews from Our Land? Or, is it all of the above and more? Is it even possibly the painless right of ALL of Am Yisrael to vote, whether in national or local elections — 1 Jew = 1 vote, in unity, with ahavat chinom, FOR Jewish life, rather than appeasement and resultant bloody terror, or surrender?

Rav Pliskin renders Sefer Sh’mos. Perek 13, posuk 5 and cites The Chofetz Chayim regarding B’nai Yisrael, Torah and Eretz Yisrael:

“…To give you a land flowing with milk and honey, and you shall do this service.” (Sefer Sh’mos. Perek 13, posuk 5)

The Chofetz Chayim commented on this verse…. The Torah and the Land of Israel are one unit. Their relationship is as the relationship between the body and soul. A soul cannot exist alone in this world, The body alone is just dust from the earth. It needs the soul to give it life. The soul of the Jewish people is the sacred Torah. The body is the Land of Israel… The Land of Israel without the Torah, however, is like a body without a soul. It is just a piece of land. Only when both exist together is there a complete unit.

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

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Va’eira 5775: HaKarat HaTov – Appreciation — in Mitzrayim and Before, Toward Hashem and Our Fellow Jews in Our Times

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, January 10th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Good Shabbos Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua — Parshat Va’era is being sponsored by Jonathan & Debbie Sassen of Ramat Beit Shemesh and dedicated to all who return their s’forim to their right places on the Beit Tefillah-Yona Avraham Beit Medrash s’forim shelves. To Mishpochat Sassen, many thanks for your sponsorship, and your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Va’eira 5775: HaKarat HaTov – Appreciation — in Mitzrayim and Before, Toward Hashem and Our Fellow Jews in Our Times

by Moshe Burt

In “Torah Tapestries on Sefer Shemos,” Parshat Va’eira, Rebbetzin Shira Smiles’ takes up a theme (pages 13-17) concerning “Learning to Appreciate.”

Rebbetzin Smiles writes:

Before the first plague, blood, Hashem commanded Moshe Rabbeinu to first warn Pharaoh of the impending plague…. If Hashem told Moshe to warn Pharaoh that he was going to hit the water, we would expect the next instruction to read “And if Pharaoh refuses, then you shall raise your staff and strike the water. ” But that’s not what Hashem said.

Our Parsha (Sefer Shemos perek 7, posuk 19) states:

“Hashem said to Moshe, ‘Say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt…, and they shall become blood; there shall be blood throughout the land of Egypt, even in the wooden and stone vessels.’”

Rebbetzin Smiles cites an explanation from Rashi providing insight into the concept of HaKarat HaTov – Appreciation:

Rashi says that it was inappropriate for Moshe Rabbeinu to strike the Nile for the plagues of blood and frogs. After all, this same river provided refuge for him as a baby, when his mother facilitated his escape from Pharaoh’s decree of infanticide. In the same vein, Moshe Rabbeinu could not strike the soil of Egypt to bring the plague of lice. Egyptian sand… had, in effect protected Moshe when he used it to bury the Egyptian [who was beating the Jew] that he had killed.

Rebbetzin Smiles then cites Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler’s explanation of appreciation:

Hakarat HaTov is mainly about the impact on the appreciator, rather on the one being appreciated. He explains that the human mind is able to distinguish the importance or entitlement of the recipient. Human emotions, by contrast, cannot. It is irrelevant that our beneficiary might have been an inanimate object. Our emotional reality is that when we strike something, its value is lowered in our eyes. It becomes inferior and we become superior. If we previously benefited from it, then our middah (character trait) of HaKarat HaTov certainly diminishes. How would we properly appreciate something that is now so inferior? Moshe’s Divine Mandate was to diligently preserve his middah of HaKarat HaTov, since it is so critical for Avodat Hashem (service of G’d)…

For further perspective, Rebbetzin Smiles then refers back to Parshat Shemos:

Moshe Rabbeinu was commanded by Hashem to go back to Egypt and free the Jews…. Before he left for Egypt, “Moshe went and returned to Yeser [Yithro], his father-in-law. He said to him, ‘I shall go, please, and I shall return to my brothers who are in Egypt and I shall see if they are still alive.’” (Sefer Shemos, Perek 4, posuk 18) The Midrash (Tanchuma, Parshat Shemos 16) explains that Moshe felt compelled to ask Yithro for permission to go.

Moshe Rabbeinu’s actions here appear strange. How could he hesitate when Hashem Himself had just commanded him to go to Egypt? …Was it not an urgent matter of freeing a suffering people, and therefore a case of… (saving a life)? Why did he first ask permission from Yithro? One explanation in the Midrash is… “Moshe said, Master of the World, I cannot [go on the mission], because Yithro accepted me and opened the door to his house to me and I am like a son to him. And anyone who opens his door to his fellow man — he owes his soul to him.”

Rebbetzin Smiles cites Rabbi Chaim Friedlander who provides further insight on Moshe’s need to request his leave of his father-in-law:

If we find ourselves trampling on our middos while running to fulfill a Mitzvah, we should re-evaluate… Hashem wants us to fulfill Mitzvot in ways that preserve our middos. We are often misled to act quickly “in the name of the Mitzvah” and we forget to think about others, crushing our middos along the way. Our sensitivity, kindness and HaKarat HaTov are [then] sacrificed for the sake of these “Mitzvot.”

In other words, it would seem that Hashem (kovei’yokel) recognized Moshe Rabbeinu’s sensitivity toward expressing appreciation regarding his father-in-law Yithro and it would seem that He preempted Moshe’s sensitivity regarding the Nile and the sand of Egypt by expressing to him (Moshe);

“Say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff…’”

Rabbi Mordechai Katz, in his Sefer L’lmode U’lamed speaks about appreciation through the use of its synonym, “gratitude”:

Gratitude is one of the pillars that sustains human society. Without it, we would be cold, insensitive individuals; with it, we can establish satisfying relationships with others. By being grateful, one rewards those who aided him. He shows that he recognizes their efforts rather than taking them for granted.

In a previous vort on Parshat Va’eira, this author applied the above understandings regarding Appreciation, Gratitude: HaKarat HaTov to national questions about governance, Eretz Yisrael, intelligencia, media which bear upon us in our times. However, there is another take: Truly having HaKarat HaTov for another Jew on a one-to-one basis.

In a recent Chanukah drash on Parshat Mikeitz, Rabbi Yehoshua Landau of Ramat Beit Shemesh spoke that Torah records a dialogue between Reuven and the nine other brothers upon the Viceroy’s demand to incarcerate one of the brothers as insurance that the other brothers would return with Binyamin in order to prove themselves innocent of being “spies.” Reuven, at the time of the brothers plotting against Yosef, was apparently cast aside from entire family over the episode of switching beds. So, while other brothers read evil intentions in Yosef’s articulation of his dreams, Reuven heard inclusion and was grateful to Yosef and seemingly didn’t hate him as the other brothers did.

The brothers spoke to one another (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 42, posukim 21-22):

“‘Indeed we are guilty concerning our brother inasmuch as we saw his heartfelt anguish when he pleaded with us and we did not listen: that is why this anguish has come upon us.’ Reuven spoke to them saying, ‘Did I not speak to you saying, Do not sin against the boy? But you would not listen! And his blood as well — behold — is being avenged.’”

R’ Landau provided a paradigm of HaKarat HaTov regarding the above posukim. R’ Landau cited R’ Avraham Schor who explained the posukim by way of a Sforno in which Reuven felt all along that the brothers totally misunderstood Yosef. R’ Schor cited Breish’t Rabbah 84:15 based on the writings of Mishnas Rebbe Aharon (R’ Aharon Kotler) which indicate that Reuven said that Yosef counted him amongst his (Yosef’s) eleven brothers, so how could he not save him in return(?).

To apply HaKarat HaTov toward our fellow Jews, and toward Hashem in our times, two rapid-fire examples come to mind.

One such example is the blessing of a guest toward their host (translation as rendered in Artscroll Siddur Birkat HaMazon = Blessings after Meals):

May it be G’d’s will that this host not be shamed nor humiliated in This World or in the World to Come. May he be successful in all his dealings. May his dealings be successful and conveniently close at hand. May no evil impediment reign of his handiwork, and may no semblance of sin or iniquitous thought attach itself to him from this time and forever.

The Artscroll Siddur notes that “many authorities are at a loss to explain why the prescribed text has fallen into disuse in favor of the briefer version commonly used.” Might we bring our fellow Jews closer together in unity by guests showing appropriate HaKarat HaTov toward their hosts?

And might it go a long way with Hashem for the Am, for the Kehillah to show HaKarat HaTov for HaKadosh Borchu: the Creator of The Universe by saying Aleinu — It is Our Duty — slowly, with distinct pronunciation of each word and melodiously not just in Mussaf of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, but all year long, rather than at the break-neck speed of an Arnoldis Chapman or Ken Giles 100 plus mph fastball?

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

Good Shabbos!
———————————————————
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 Sh’mot 5775: Self-Respect, or Lack Thereof, and the Evolution of Jewish Enslavement — Then (in Mitzrayim), and Now?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, January 3rd, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua — Parshat Sh’mot is being sponsored by Yitzchak and Leyla Gross of Wynnewood, PA to commemorate the Yarhtzeit of Yitzchak’s Mother: Chaya Yita Sarah Bat Aharon. To Mishpochat Gross, many thanks for your sponsorship, your kindnesses through the years in helping facilitate Sefer Torah recycling, 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 comemmorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Sh’mot 5775: Self-Respect, or Lack Thereof, and the Evolution of Jewish Enslavement — Then (in Mitzrayim), and Now?

by Moshe Burt

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin (“Growth Through Torah”, Parshat Sh’mot, pages 138-140) quotes from the beginning of Sefer Sh’mot and cites both Ohr Hachayim and Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz in adding another dimension to the evolution of Jewish enslavement in Mitzrayim and profound lessons we need to internalize today:

“And Yosef died, and all of his brothers, and that entire generation.” (Sefer Sh’mot, Perek 1, posuk 6)

Ohr Hachayim explains that the enslavement of the Israelites by the Egyptians occurred in three stages. First Yosef died, the Israelites lost their power. Then the brothers died. As long as even one of the brothers was alive, the Egyptian still honored them. Even afterwards as long as the members of that first generation were alive, the Egyptians considered them important and were not able to treat them as slaves.

Rabbi Chayim Shmuelevitz…, commented .. that there are two aspects here. One is on the side of the Egyptians. They were unable to treat the Jewish people as slaves as long as they [the Egyptians] considered them important. The other aspect is on the side of the Jewish people themselves. As long as they [the Jewish people] were considered important and worthy of respect by themselves [self-respect and self-esteem], the Egyptians were not able to treat them in an inferior manner. Only when they considered themselves in a lowly manner could they be subjugated by others.

Rav Chayim refers to this as how the evil inclination deals with people, i.e. that once a person feels inferior, feels a sense of guilt and worthlessness, “then he is easy prey for being trapped by the evil inclination….”

Rav Pliskin’s citings (“Growth Through Torah”, Parshat Sh’mot, ibid) connect self-respect and having respect for others, or lack of self-respect and resultant lack of respect for others with a citing in gemara Sanhedrin 37a regarding false testimony, i.e., that in capital punishment cases, the witnesses are told:

“In the beginning only one man was created. This is to teach us that whoever causes the death of one person is considered as destroying an entire world. Therefore each person is obligated to say, ‘The world was created for me’”…. Rashi explains….: “That is, I am as important as an entire world.

Therefore, I will not cause myself to be destroyed for one transgression.” This, says Rashi, will prevent him from delivering the false testimony.

But in talking about self-respect and having respect for others, are we not all witness to contemporary history as we view the lack of self-respect and resultant lack of respect for others resulting in false, slanderous testimony against one’s fellow Jews? Do we not witness the creeping onset in modern-day medinat Israel of systemic persecution of Torah Judaism by an evil, secular, Hellenistic Israeli governance? Are we all not witness as the Hellenists frame us for “price-tag crimes” against Arabs, while these very Arabs destroy our crops, bloody-handedly kidnap, kill and maim our brethren and seize, appropriate and build on Our Land with immunity?

Meanwhile, a corrupt and slanderous Israeli government arrests righteous Jews, accusing us of “spying” and “treason” because these righteous ones who cleave to and possess the Land of Israel, inform our fellow Jews that the Shabak and the army are on their way to uproot more Jews — bulldozing and destroying their homes on historical, Biblical Jewish Land and traumatizing their lives.

When a Jewish governance doubts its’ rights, its Divine entitlement to its’ own sovereignty on the entirety of its’ own Divinely-Given land, with nary a thought of the Divine Jewish mission statement, and thus subjugates and persecutes its’ own for acting to assert their Divine Legacy of possessing Eretz Yisrael, is it any wonder that murderous Arab snipers, suicide bombers, ambushes, arson attacks, land seizures and attempted kidnappings ensue? Is it small wonder that Arabs display their hands filled with Jewish blood? Contrast today with the days which immediately followed the Six Day War, when Arabs in Jerusalem, Hevron, etc. shivered, quaked and waved white sheets of surrender at the sight of a single Jew.

Are we not witness to ever-increasing polarization in Israel amongst the various sectors of Am Yisrael, including and particularly amongst the sectors of observant Jews? Are we blind to one sector, or a fraction of one sector, imposing and strong-arming its will — at the peril of physical violence, traffic disruption, material destruction and vandalism or verbal defamation — upon other sectors whose mesorah (learned chumras, traditions, etc.) seems not in accord with theirs? And does imposition and strong-arming of one’s ways onto others not constitute a form of false, slanderous testimony against another Observant Jewish sector? And does this false testimony not add fuel to a divide-and-conquer, Hellenistic Israeli governance?

There is another negative aspect which accompanies loss of Jewish self-respect and self-dignity. Commentators refer to the Jews as being as being descended from the Tzaddik Ever, the great-grandson of another Tzaddik — Shem, a son of No’ach. Ever, the name from which we are told “Iv’ri” (Hebrew) evolved, has been defined by commentators as “the other side”, separate, alone, i.e. “a nation which dwells alone.” And yet, as with the Jews in Mitzrayim post-Yosef and the brothers where large numbers of Jews left Goshen enmass and inter-mingled with the Mitzriyim in Egypt proper, in the galut, we’ve melted and assimilated, again and again, in whatever nation we happened to reside, misplacing our loyalties with another nation, hoping that they will come to love us (which results in their hate and disdain for us, i.e. “dislike for the unlike”) rather than with our Jewish nation.

And in our modern-day Jewish State, Medinat Yisrael, the politicians, the governance, the intelligencia, academia, the media and most of the governed yearn to be like the nations — to live the “normal” life. Seems as if we can’t get this intermingling and assimilation out of our national system.

In short, we’ve collectively lost our backbone, our uniqueness among the nations, as well as our own self-respect and self esteem in our projected desire to be “like the nations.” Thus, the nations see us not as “a light unto them”, but as a liability, as objects of derision, hate, subjugation.

Are we all soo preoccupied with our individual needs and matzavim that we overlook V’Ahavta, L’Rei’echa, Kamocha; caring for the needs of our fellow Jews in other sectors, be they observant or secular? Are we so shallow, so narrow in view and bereft of ability to do our own cheshbon hanefesh regarding important national or local issues that we leave it to communal leaders to tell us what we must think, thereby leaving all of us prey, through polarization and lack of unity among various religious sectors, to the divide-and-conquer modus operendi of a governance dedicated to the dismemberment and eradication of Jewishness, of Yiddishkeit from the minds, hearts and souls of Israelis? And do these communal leaders consciously, or sub-consciously still have a mindset dating back to guile of the ghetto, of the shtetl, of the hundreds of years which pre-dated modern-day Israeli nationhood — times when anything was justified to save a Jewish life? It would seem that Rav Shmuelevitz’s characterization of how an individual, a sector, or the entire Jewish nation views themselves rings true today, just as it did in Mitzrayim and throughout Jewish history.

“Only when they [the Jews] considered themselves in a lowly manner could they be subjugated by others.”

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

Good Shabbos!
———————————————————
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 Vayechi 5775: The “Closed Parshat “, Aborted Revelation and Onset of Bondage

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, December 27th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua — Parshat Vayechi is being sponsored by R’ Joel & Shelly Padowitz in wishing continued good health for R’ Chaim Zev Ben Kayla. To Mishpochat Padowitz, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Vayechi 5775: The “Closed Parshat “, Aborted Revelation and Onset of Bondage

by Moshe Burt

In approaching Parshat Vayechi we note a phenomenon unique in Torah. Notes in The Sapirstein Edition: “The Torah with Rashi’s Commentary” explain (page 522, notes 1-2 on Sefer Breish’t, Perek 47, posuk 28):

The text in the Torah is divided into paragraph-like passages , which are separated from each other by a number of blank spaces. According to the Mesorah (tradition of the Oral Law), the words “Vayechi Ya’akov mark the beginning of a new passage. Yet in this case, there is a space of only a single letter separating “Vayechi” from the word which precedes it. Rashi, based on the Midrash, asks why this passage is “closed” in this sense. (Mizrachi; Sifsei Chachamim)

Breaks between passages are intended to provide a pause for contemplation (Rashi to Sefer Vayikra, perek 1, posuk 1). The absence of a break indicates that with the death of Ya’akov, “the eyes and heart of Israel were closed” — the change in their relationship with the Egyptians came so suddenly that they did not have the opportunity to pause and contemplate their situation. (Be’er BaSadeh)

Although Rashi to Sh’mot Perek 6, posuk 16 says that the enslavement did not begin until the last of the sons of Ya’akov had died, that refers to the enforced enslavement. With the death of Ya’akov, the Egyptians began to cajole the Jews into hard labor. (Mizrachi; Sifsei Chachamim)

Rashi offers an alternative explanation of the lack of the normal break between the two parshiyot in his commentary on our parshat’s opening posuk (The Sapirstein Edition: “The Torah with Rashi’s Commentary”, page 522, Sefer Breish’t, Perek 47, posuk 28):

The passage is “closed” because [Ya'akov] wished to reveal the end to his sons, but it was closed off to him. (Breish’t Rabbah)

Note 3 on Rashi’s commentary (ibid) defines “end”:

The ultimate end of all of the exiles of the Jewish people. (Gur Aryeh)

In line with this latter note on Rashi’s commentary regarding the “end”, a few years ago Rabbi Harry Greenspan said over a vort on our Parsha which could be understood to amplify on a topic repeated on this blog numerous times over the years — that Jewish unity is prerequisite to bringing about a Halachic, Just State of Israel, the prerequisite to bringing about the Geula Shlaima — the Ultimate Redemption.

Rav Greenspan’s vort, spoken in the name of his Rebbe in Yeshiva University, R’Nissan Alpert z’l, spans some 40 years. R’ Alpert was a Shul Rav on the Lower East Side and gave shiurim at YU. It is said that he was the top Talmid of R’Moshe Feinstein, z’l.

R’ Greenspan related that while Torah, Rashi and other commentators rendered that Yaakov Aveinu called his sons together to tell them of “The End of Days” and then lost his Ruach HaKodesh, R’ Alpert suggested that one could perhaps say that Yaakov did actually tell his sons when the Geula Shlaima would occur.

Sefer Breish’t Perek 49, posuk 1 reads:

Hei-afsu — “Gather [Hei-afsu is rendered by Shimshon Inbal’s English-Hebrew, Hebrew-English Dictionary published by S. Zack & Co,: collect, gather, aggregate, provide shelter, public meeting] and I will tell you what will happen to you in The End of Days.”

Posuk 2 then reads:

Hi-kavtzu — “Gather [rendered by the same English-Hebrew, Hebrew-English Dictionary as; collect] and listen, sons of Yaakov, and listen to Yisrael, your father.”

The two loshonot of the word “Gather” could therefore be understood to mean come together as one.

We look around at the myriad of crises we currently face — droughts, deadly damaging fires in the North in recent years, political division and discord across all sectors, poverty faced by many, sickness — the petrified fear of a single person needing hospitalization in Israel with no one to watch their back or advocate for them before a seemingly insensitive, unfeeling, uncaring medical system, non-existent “law and order” administered by a police and internal security ministry — both seemingly with an agenda geared toward arresting and prosecuting Jews who love the land — we could go on and on.

A number of years ago, this author was zocha to have been handed a little Chabad booklet “Dvar Hamelech” dated in 5760 with Divrei Torah from the Lubavitcher Rebbe for the Torah Sedras. The Rebbe makes a point (Dvar HaMelech 5760, Parshat Vayechi, pages 16-23) which should be self-evident to all of us; basically that “Yaakov is Alive” for “His Descendents are Alive.” Yaakov is alive because his people, who bear his name, Yisrael lives.

In the booklet, The Lubavitcher Rebbe cites Talmudic gemora tractate Ta’anit, page 5b which states:

“Yaakov, our ancester, did not die.” When a protest is raised, “Was it in vain that he was eulogized, embalmed, and buried?”, the gemora replies [citing Sefer Yirmiyahu Perek 30, posuk 10]:

It is written, “‘Do not fear, My Servant Yaakov,’ says Hashem, ‘Do not become dismayed, O Israel, I will save you from afar and your descendents from the land of captivity.’” An equation is established between Yaakov and his descendents.

Thus, Rashi explains [in tractate Ta'anit] “And Yaakov lived,” “Yaakov lives forever.”

The booklet explains the above:

The interdependence between Yaakov and his descendents is…emphasized by the fact that our Sages derived the concept that Yaakov did not die from the equation between him and his descendents, and not from the verse (Sefer Breish*t Perek 49, posuk 33), “And he expired and was gathered unto his people.” Rashi (in his commentary on that verse, and… Tosafot in their commentary to Tan’anit…) notes that in contrast to the verses that describe the passing of the other Patriarchs, this verse does not say “And Yaakov died.” This omission teaches us that “Yaakov, our Patriarch did not die.” The fact that the Talmud… derives it from the equation that exists between Yaakov and his descendents, implies that Yaakov’s ongoing life is dependent on that of his descendents.

This concept of continued life is mentioned in regard to Yaakov and not in regard to Avraham and Yitzchak, because in a complete sense, the concept that “his descendents are alive” applies only to Yaakov. As the Sages expressed it [Rashi's commentary on Sefer Breish*t Perek 49, posuk 31], “Yaakov’s bed was perfect”, i.e., all his sons were righteous and their offspring became the Jewish people. In contrast, Yishmael descended from Avraham and Eisev from Yitzchak. [cited from Pesakhim page 56a] Thus, the concept that he is “alive” because “his descendents are alive” is appropriate only for Yaakov. (Maharsha commentary to Ta’anit].

….Therefore, all of Yaakov’s descendents (including those born in every generation) are alive: they reveal the eternal dimension of Yaakov’s life in this world.

….Therefore, the Torah teaches us that “Yaakov is alive,” because “his descendents are alive,” since he is connected with the “Torah of life.”

Regardless of his present conduct, he has the potential — through turning to the path of Teshuvah, and subsequently through the observance of the Torah and its mitzvot — to reveal his true self. The awareness of this potential strengthens and encourages one to express this essential “life” in an open and revealed manner in his daily conduct

It would seem therefore, that there would be a connection between the words: gather, unite, and perfection. Is our bed “perfect’ in our time considering some attitudes of one Jew toward another, i.e. he’s a friar waiting to be suckered — in business, in bureaucratic offices, by merchants toward potential buyers, etc? He’s not like us, he’s not born here, he’s a late-life Ba’al Teshuva, he doesn’t dress like us, he doesn’t keep Rabbeinu Tam time for ending Shabbos, etc. and amongst some religious sectors toward those who are not observant, or perceived as being not as observant. There are those among us who disdainfully degrade another Jew, calling him a “goy”, an “Am Haaretz” because the other Jew may not be observant, or may not be sufficiently so in his eyes — i.e. Shabbos, lack of a kipa, etc.

This author harkens back to a Yom Kippur vort and a paradigm of the way things ought to be: the Aish Kodesh, the Rebbe Piazecna, R’ Kalonymus Kalman Shapira:

…Every single Jew, even the most belligerently anti-religious, is a spark of Jewish soul that needs only to be reached, opened and ignited in the right way. Rebbe Kalonymous knew how to do this. After several meetings with him, these hard socialist leaders admitted their difficulty arguing with him…

Rebbe Kalonymous was indeed a most devoted leader, both in the spiritual and material sense. “A rebbe who is not willing to enter Gehinnom to save a follower is not a rebbe,” he used to say….

But each group vies with the other, as exemplified by the Rabbanim of the various sectors who seemingly refuse to even to sit and talk civilly with each other, for their respective contentions, i.e. “who’s the most frum” and who will receive the coveted, strings-attached government funding for their respective institutions. And some say of others; “He is no good because his sector or party didn’t stand up for a certain religious principle(s) and, therefore, it serves him right if the government messes with him/them, expelling them or giving his/their money to my group instead.” One could hold that Hashem (ke ve yachol — as it were) is as angry at us collectively for not bringing change in each of us ourselves as He is about the aveirot (the wrong) that we’ve done.

Yes, Yaakov is alive because his descendents are alive. But, if in understanding the connection between gather, unify, and perfection, it would seem that once we meet that standard toward each other of “Yaakov’s bed was perfect”, i.e., all his sons were righteous — to Hashem and toward each other, only then will Am Yisrael truly be UNITED — AS ONE. Only then can the Geula Shlaima occur. Only when there is perfection in unity amongst kol klal Yisrael, as well as a consensus of Halacha and Halachic fences, of checks and balances, of oversight, of transparency, of V’Ahavtah L’rei’cha Kamocha — wanting for your brother, for your brethren, what you want for yourself; will we have the courage to move to change Israel’s governance to a Torah governance. Only then will we be zocha Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima before its time; for our bed will be, as the Lubavitcher Rebbe cites Rashi: “perfect” and as one may understand R’ Greenspan in citing his Rav, Rabbi Alpert: “coming together as one.”

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

Good Shabbos!
———————————————————
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 Vayigash 5775: Yosef, the Brothers, Real Teshuvah and, Forming National Unity amongst Am Yisrael Today?

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


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Vayigash is being sponsored by Daniel and Amy Michaels of Ramat Beit Shemesh, dedicated Lilui Nishmas the yarhtzeit of Daniel’s Father Reb Avraham Pinchas ben Yoel Meir. To the Michaels family, many thanks for your sponsorship and continuing kindnesses through the years.

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

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 Vayigash 5775: Yosef, the Brothers, Real Teshuvah and, Forming National Unity amongst Am Yisrael Today?

by Moshe Burt

Every so often, over the past 9 1/2 years since the expulsion of our brethren from their homes and neighborhoods in Gush Katif and the 4 Shomron towns, we read a report on one of the online news sites, or one of our brethren receives an email, voicing regret from someone who either previously supported the expulsion or who sat on their hands and did nothing, and who now would express contrition and beg forgiveness from their evicted brethren in the hope of either clearing their personal consciences, or sincerely seek peace within Am Yisrael. But with all of the constant repetition of “land for peace” [read 'piece' as in the old Kissinger "slami slicer"] or “2 states for 2 peoples” by a generation of bankrupt governing politicians, media and intelligencia, how do we ascertain true intent, true contrition in these expressions of regret?

What exactly constitutes true intent, true contrition in Teshuva?

Looking back at Parsha Vayeishev one wonders at the incompleteness of Reuven’s saving Yosef’s life. The story of the Brothers’ efforts to be rid of Yosef seems to have occurred chronologically after the Reuven’s episode with Yaakov’s bed. So Reuven urged the brothers to throw Yosef into the pit and then went about his business. One of numerous reasons given that Reuven left the scene being that apparently the day was his day to serve his father.

Renowned Torah commentator Rashi comments that had Reuven known that his action saving Yosef was to be recorded in Torah, he would have carried Yosef back to Yaakov on his shoulders. But Reuven didn’t know and, probably couldn’t have fathomed that his role would later be recorded in Torah. In saving Yosef from being killed, it seemed that his foremost concern was that he would have been held responsible for Yosef’s death by Yaakov until his death. But, had Reuven been truely selfless and wholehearted in completing the Mitzvah he started — it seems logical that he then would have carried Yosef home as he went to serve his father. However, that was not to be.

“The Midrash Says”, by Rabbi Moshe Weissman notes on our parsha (Sefer Breish’t, Parshat Vayeishev, page 354):

Reuven left the company. He never partook in meals since he was constantly fasting and praying for having committed the sin of disarranging his father’s couch.

And then, with Reuven out of the picture, Yehudah urges the other brothers present to sell Yosef, to make some money on the situation, dab blood on his tunic and carry the tunic home to Yaakov who then believes that a wild beast ate or ripped apart Yosef. Reuven returns later to the pit and is grief-stricken having found the pit empty. When the sons see the nonconsolable grief in their father Yaakov, they rebuke Yehudah and cast him out from the family — thus the story of Tamar. But it seems unfathomable that none of the brothers could have anticipated in advance their father’s nonconsolable grief-stricken reaction to what was believed at the time to be the death of his most beloved son. Were they sooo blinded by their jealousy and hatred of Yosef and sooo irresponsible that they cared not about the consequences of their actions until after the fact? Maybe they just didn’t chap that old detective Baretta line — “don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.”

Parsha Mikeitz begins the recording of the whole affair between Yosef and the brothers when they came to Mitzrayim to buy food and were accused by the Viceroy of being spies. We learned how after hearing their story and family history through a translator (actually Yosef’s son Menashe who acted as translator although Yosef understood the brothers completely), Yosef demanded that they bring their youngest brother to him and incarcerated Shimon as insurance that the brothers would indeed return with Binyamin, their youngest brother.

We learn that in the middle of Parsha Mikeitz, with the imprisonment of Shimon, the brothers recognized and attributed their predicament to the sin they had committed earlier by throwing Yosef into the pit and then selling him to the Mitzriyim. Yosef heard and understood their conversation and left their presence to cry silently. (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 42, posukim 21-24)

Then, we learn how when Binyamin was finally brought to Yosef, the brothers were provided with food, but then it was made to appear as if Binyamin had stolen the Viceroy’s silver goblet. The Viceroy detained Binyamin under charges that he had stolen the goblet and released the other brothers to return to their father.

Our Parsha Vayigash begins with Yehuda speaking his appeal to the Viceroy on behalf of his father Yaakov regarding Binyamin’s imprisonment.

Rav Zelig Pliskin (Growth Through Torah, page 119) makes a point regarding Yehudah’s plea to the Viceroy (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 44, posuk 18):

“And Yehudah approached [unknowing that the Viceroy was actually his brother Yosef] and he said, Please My Master, allow your servant to speak in the ears of My Master and do not become angry at your servant for you are like Pharoah.”

“Chumash Mesorot HaRav”, The Chumash with Commentary Based on the Teachings of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik z”l quotes from our Parshat Vayigash (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 44, posukim 18 – 19):

“Yehudah approached him [the Viceroy]…. My lord asked his servants, saying, ‘Have you a father or a brother?’”

In his Chumash commentary, Rav Soloveitchik cites a cheder Rebbe from his youth indicating that the purpose of the Viceroy’s [Yosef's] question was:

“…Whether his brothers were still attached to their roots and origins? Are you… rooted in your father?… Do you see your father as the foundation of your existence?… Or are you just like rootless shepherds wandering from place to place, … who forgot their origin?”

Midrashim indicate that there were also competing tests of strength, some of which the midrashim state could be ascertained as far away as Pharoah’s Palace.

R’ Pliskin continues by citing his Rebbe, the late Rosh HaYeshiva of Brisk in Yerushalayim who explained Yehudah’s speech to the Viceroy in two ways (Growth Through Torah, page 119-120):

Even though Yehudah thought… [the Viceroy] did not understand the language he was speaking, he wanted him to hear the depth of feeling behind his words. Even if one does not speak the language, sincerity will come through. “Words that come from a person’s heart enter the heart of the listener.”

The second idea…, was that when you try to influence someone, it is imperative that he [or she] be open to what you have to say. If a person is close-minded and has made up… [their] mind not to pay attention to you, nothing you will say will influence… [them]. Therefore, Yehudah asked… [the Viceroy] to at least give him a fair hearing. “Keep your ears open to the possibility that what I will say has merit.”

Upon hearing Yehudah’s plea regarding the special love affection which Yaakov had for Binyamin, Yosef could no longer restrain himself and revealed himself as he cried out so loudly that he was heard by Pharoah.

Yehudah, not knowing who he was really talking to, and fathoming all of the power of Pharoah was behind the Viceroy’s edicts and actions, he had to measure his words just right, just so. But in today’s world where communications between people are all-to-often reduced to written text over any number of different chat platforms via computer, cellphone, i-phone, i-pad, etc., not as in the not-too-distant past where communications took place face-to-face and mouth-to-mouth, or by telephone, any textual word or phrase can be strung or understood all out of proportion to how either writer meant them. One person’s joke or light-hearted comment can be misinterpreted by the other person as judgementalness, rebuke or repudiation.

Yosef’s emotions were aroused to the point of tears and crying out by Yehudah’s sincerity and because the brothers had shown, by their rising to the defense of Binyamin, that they had genuinely recognized their aveirah, had done teshuvah, showed true, sincere and serious contrition for what they done to Yosef and were unified in their concern for Binyamin’s welfare. Yosef embraced his brothers and comforted them and “told them not to be sad that they had sold him, for Hashem had actually sent him here to keep them alive during the years of famine.” (L’lMod Ulamed, Parsha Vayigash, page 57).

This unity displayed by the brothers was crucial for the future travails of enslavement in Mitzrayim as the Jewish nation was forged.

But, in our time, the type of unity expressed by Yehudah, and the other brothers, for their brother Benyamin seems lacking amongst B’nai Yisrael.

The modern-day hellenists who continue their drive toward “land for peace (sic)”, toward the absurd, bogus concept of “2 states for 2 peoples”; all disguises for nothing less than the indoctrination of the hearts and minds of Israelis aimed at the mass-eradication of all vestiges and expressions of Jewishness. They seem not to learn from their previous myriad, voluminous errors which have repeatedly placed their brethren in jeopardy. And the vast majority of those who should know better seem unprepared to put their individual lives on hold and collectively act with unity, as one to do everything necessary to confront the evil. We haven’t learned the brother’s lesson yet.

But, in a sense, the political modern-day protexia-class hellenists have learned more than we have — they know our weaknesses intimately and they know how to divide and conquer us by virtue of our own machlokesim (internal disputes/ disagreements). Each sector seems set against the other with little if any effort by any of the sectors to sit together and sincerely thrash out the unity and consensus which is crucial to overcome a Hellenistic regime and to ultimately restore Torah Halachic justice as law of the land.

Are we, in our time, chayev to be asked, as R’ Soloveitchik’s cheder Rebbe asked if we are “still attached to our roots and origins? Or have we forgotten our roots?”

It appears as if the various sectors are sooo blinded and polarized by their pervasive disdain and hatred for each other sector that they can’t see the forest for the trees — that in their polarization, they can’t see the abject error of their ways even as the consequences become ever clearer. And in their polarization, it’s not merely leftist “land for peace” vs “Eretz Yisrael Shelanu”, but it is literally Jew vs Jew — Us vs Them. What is meant here?

Torah’s account of the actions and teshuvah of Yehudah and the other brothers on behalf of their brother Binyamin serves as a paradigm for the genuine, heartfelt contrition — the kind soo vitally necessary amongst the sectors of the religious, the kind of action-backed contrition which needs to be expressed, in a sincere, contrite way in order that those who beg forgiveness from the former residents of Gush Katif be accepted as genuine rather than symbolic — symbolism over substance” so that there can be a true beginning to the binding of the “national self-inflicted wounds” and forming, or re-forming of an overriding national unity amongst Am Yisrael.

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

Good Shabbos!
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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 Mikeitz/Shabbos Chanukah 5775: Assimilation and Complacency Breed Dependence, Indecisiveness and Weakness

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


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Mikeitz is being sponsored by Moshe and Lauren Pitzele of Ramat Beit Shemesh, dedicated in honor of their son Yosef Shalom’s second birthday. To the Pitzele family, many thanks for your sponsorship and continuing kindnesses through the years.

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

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 Mikeitz/Shabbos Chanukah 5775: Assimilation and Complacency Breed Dependence, Indecisiveness and Weakness

By, Moshe Burt

This author harkens back to a vort said over several years ago at a Shabbos Chanukah Oneg about Yosef in Mitzrayim (Egypt) based on Jay Shapiro’s book “Almost Midrash.” The story of Yosef was incorporated into a fictional tale entitled “Duaf of Memphis” from Shapiro’s book.

As Shapiro’s yarn goes, Duaf, a former Barber, sat relating his memoirs to a scribe about how he was drafted and fought bravely in Pharoah’s army during a war in which Pharaoh and his remaining forces rallied to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Duaf’s role in rallying Pharoah’s forces earned him a meteoric rise through the ranks of Pharoh’s army, as well number of important missions on behalf of Pharoah, culminating in his being appointed as the Viceroy’s right-hand man. In one humorous sideline of the tale, during one of Duaf’s missions, he came to become acquainted with the Habiru people in Cana’an.

The vort dealt with the contrast of Yosef’s talent for interpretation of dreams and his ingenuity as Viceroy, second only to Pharaoh, in saving Egypt from famine, and the dialogue of Page 13 A & B of Gemora Megillah Esther (the dialogue between Achashveirosh and Haman resulting in the evil decree against the Jews). The point of the Torah Vort was that just as with their longevity in Shushan and throughout Achashveirosh’s Empire, their longevity and assimilation into Mitzri society, after the deaths of Yosef and the brothers, brought the Jews disdain and disparagement by the Mitzriyim as either being useless or too powerful, such as to ally with Egypt’s enemies. In both cases, the antagonists conveniently forgot about Yosef. The point was made as a lesson to the secular which sadly has been unlearned and the error repeated again and again throughout history in different ways whenever Jews got comfortable, complacent in where they were at the time and forgot who and what they are. In forgetting, they assimilate into the greater “melting pot” of the society where they reside and thus lose their unique Jewish identification. In our time, Chanukah for many Jews evolves into “spin the dreidel”, cutsie, yet shallow assemblies in Conservative Synagogues to make it seem like they are doing something for Jewish youth, yet totally miss the meaning and message of what Chanukah is really all about. Rav Kahane once wrote about Jewish youth in an article circulated on Chanukah many years ago.

But there seems to be another obvious, crucially important national message in Shapiro’s fictional Duaf and the antagonists convenient forgetting about Yosef.

In the story, Duaf is recounting his career and, particularly, his relationship with Yosef, the Viceroy just as one might see well-known people relate their connection with a famous person, either by way of a tribute or condemnation, or upon leaving service of such-and-such president, or upon that famous person’s death. As Duaf nears the completion of his recitation to the scribe, he recounts that “Yosef saved Mitzrayim and will go down in the annals of history.” But we see how quickly Pharaoh and the Mitzrayim subsequently forgot Yosef.

The parallel here, not only for Jews throughout the world, but particularly for Israelis, both secular and observant, is in how quickly alliances, treaties, agreements or commitments pertaining to Israel and the Jewish people which either are signed by Arabs, or for that matter, by the nations, including the Superpower, are forgotten or fall by the wayside in the name of expediency, political alignments or realignments, regional, international and economic pressures. We see that agreements, third-party guarantees, either by the US, the EU, the UN and its UNFIL are worthless and worse — totally detrimental to Jewish security and well-being. From the precedent of forgetting Yosef, and its comparable events throughout Jewish history, the conclusion, the lesson to be drawn, particularly in these times when we are again in the Land of Israel, is that Jews must look only to themselves, and most importantly, Hashem, to guarantee their own security and wellbeing. We must understand and internalize the adage for the chapter from the book “The Revolt” by Menachem Begin z’l entitled “We Fight, Therefore We Are” — that ONLY Jews, with the Help of HaKadosh Borchu, are capable of protecting and defending Jews and insuring their security.

But there are among us, the modern-day Hellenists who spin each betrayal as other than, and who keep coming back for more changeable third-party guarantees or assurances rather than to “bite the bullet” and admit that they’ve “put good money after bad” and repeatedly put the security and well-being of the Jews at perilous risk. And in fact, these Hellenists keep spinning and keep brainwashing the masses, even by attempting to pass laws against outreach and Teshuvah or by attempting to halachically legalize improper (gay) marriages, out of disdain and blind hatred of their Jewishness and anything Jewish.

And so, may our brethren from Gush Katif and the Shomron, together with all intellectually honest and enlightened Jews, rise up to do battle for the Jewish mind and soul, just as the Maccabees did in doing battle against the Greeks.

May it be in this year and in all future years, that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif – the vast majority still seeking their permanent places, our brethren in the South — S’derot and the other towns bordering Gaza, and those in the North who still live under threat of Katushyas and Hezbollah, as well as our dear brethren, Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, be central in our thoughts, prayers, chassadim and actions.

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

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

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Chanukah 5775: Finding Meaning in The Eight Miracles of Yosef, and that Special Flask of Oil

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


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Chanukah vort is being sponsored by Avraham and Miriam Deutsch of Efrat who wish Kol Am Yisrael Chanukah Same’ach! To the Deutsch family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Chanukah 5775: Finding Meaning in The Eight Miracles of Yosef, and that Special Flask of Oil

by Moshe Burt

The sefer “Inspiration and Insight”, Volume 2, Discourses on the Holidays, by the Manchester Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Yehudah Zev Segal, z’l cites the Bach differentiating between Chanukah and Purim (pages 104-105):

…Purim… there is a specific obligation of drinking and happiness. The miracle of Purim is centered around the decree to annihilate the entire Jewish nation. Hashem brought about the issuance of this decree as punishment for the Jews having indulged in the feast of King Achashverosh. In celebration of the miracle which granted them new life, the Jewish people celebrate each year with a seudat mitzvah. The miracle of Chanukah, however, centered around the decrees of King Antiochus against Jewish observance. The Greeks wanted the Jewish people to forsake their Torah way of life in favor of their own [Greek] culture which glorified the physical and extolled indulgence in temporal pleasures. The Greeks were quite content to allow the Jews to remain alive — as long as they abandoned those mitzvot which are at the core of Jewish beliefs. This decree, writes the Bach (based on a Baraisa) was, in fact, Divine retribution for the Jews becoming lax in their mitzvah observance. The… self-sacrifice of the Chashmonaim to preserve Torah life, and restore the service to the Beit Hamikdash brought about the great miracle of their victory over the Greeks and the discovery of the flask of oil which miraculously burned for eight days. Thus Chanukah was a celebration of th spirit, a yom tov which commemorates a victory over the spirit led by warriors of the spirit, the Chashmonaim. Bach concludes, “This was the festival established only to Hallel [praise] and Hoda’ah [thanks], a service of the heart.

In last week’s parshat Vayeishev, we learn that Yosef was thrown in a bor (pit) seething with snakes and scorpions — and the miracle of his emerging unscathed. This author has written in the past venturing that there were seven subsequent miracles that played a role in Yosef’s life and in his becoming Viceroy, including who he was sold to and what was carried in their caravan, his ensuing journey to Mitzrayim and conditions of his slavery, his imprisonment on false charges and his liberation and ascendency to the position of Viceroy, second only to Pharoh.

Yosef’s experience in the pit brings this author back in time to Philadelphia, in “the “old country” and to a point made by Rav Yehoshua Kaganoff which bears repeating:

As we learned about the Neisim (miracles) of Chanukah, i.e., the one flask of oil found in the Beit HaMikdash which seemingly had enough oil to burn for one day, yet burned continuously for eight days, Rav Kaganoff spoke about a nace which happened when the brothers cast Yosef into the pit which contained snakes and scorpions. Although this pit was habitat to snakes and scorpions, Hashem held them back, restrained them within the pit. Therefore, when the brothers removed Yosef and sold him into bondage, he emerged unscathed from the danger within the pit.

And so, as noted above, Yosef’s emergence from the pit unharmed was one of at least 8 miracles which Yosef experienced from the moment the other 10 brothers acted against him. For one thing, our Parsha tells:

“…And behold, a company of Yishmaelim came from Gilad with their camels carrying aromatic gum (for censing), balm and landanum, …to carry it down to Egypt.” (Breish’t Perek 37, posuk 25 as rendered in Growth Through Torah, by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin).

Rav Pliskin (Growth Through Torah, Parsha Vayeishev page 109), then cites Rashi;

Why did the Torah mention what the camels were carrying? To tell us the reward of the righteous. Those caravans usually carried kerosene and resin (used for fuel) which had an unpleasant odor. But the caravan that carried Yosef to Egypt had pleasant spices.

Pliskin then cites Rabbi Mordechai Pragamantsky of Telz, who heard from Rabbi Chayim Stein:

…It was a message to Yosef that all was not lost. Appreciate the Hand of the Almighty that is guiding your life and supplies you with minor pleasures to enhance your life. This is a sign that all the Almighty does is to enhance your life. This is a sign that all the Almighty Does is for your ultimate benefit.

It occurs to this author that other such miracles happened to Yosef which would seem to include; (3) his enslavement brought about his landing in the House of Pontiphar as his head servant and caretaker of all that was his (Pontiphar’s), (4) his escaping a judgement of death regarding Pontiphar’s wife’s false accusations and his sojourn in the dungeon where he emerged as assistant to the warden, (5) his being remembered, albeit after 2 years, by the wine steward for his translation of dreams resulting in his interpreting Pharoah’s dreams and being appointed Viceroy, 2nd only in power to Pharoah, (6) Asnat bat Dina, born out of wedlock (Dina and Shechem) and later banished from Yaakov’s house under death-threat from the brothers, and who landed in the House of Pontiphar and who was said to have witnessed Yosef’s actions on the day of Pontiphar’s wife’s false accusations, and (7) that when all of the women threw down their jewelry to entice Yosef, he was won over by Asnat, with her metal foil engraved by Yaakov testifying to her holiness. And finally, like the flask of oil found by the Macabees in the Beit HaMikdash which by natural means would maybe burn one day, but burned eight days; the final miracle would seem to be the fortune amassed by Yosef as Viceroy which would later be found by the Jews during the plague (mako) of darkness and which would be carted out of Mitzrayim upon the Yetziyat Mitzrayim.

So, the connection between Yosef, and his eight miracles, and Chanukah, and the miracle of the flask of oil burnng for eight days would be, as R’ Pliskin cited above:

Sign[s] that all the Almighty does is to enhance your life…. Sign[s] that all the Almighty Does is for your ultimate benefit.

Jews keep having to re-learn and absorb the message of Chanukah and of the miracles done to Yosef. Time and again throughout our history, the lessons are forgotten by Am Yisrael, including here and now in our times of successive iron-fisted, cruelty to the compassionate, corrupt ruling Israeli regimes posing as free and democratic while dividing and conquering the people it “governs.” ALL of the Medina’s political parties, leaders and governance appear as transparently corrupt, deceitful, selfish, self-serving and self-aggrandizing; as were the Hellenists of the time of the Macabees.

But yet again this Chanukah, as we remember this past summer’s renewal of the indecisive Gaza war, and the efforts of the nations to subvert and eradicate Israel’s nationhood by way of weapons such as possible UN recognition of PA statehood, and more. We keep seeking the cure for today’s illness, like the cure Hashem prepared for Yosef far ahead of time and for the other miracles which Hashem prepared for us throughout our history.

We anxiously await the revelation of what Hashem has prepared in advance for us today. We await the antidote which cures the present malaise which appears soo bleak to the eye — an Israel whose political parties and leaders, the leftist “elitists,” work systemically and intellectually to subvert the masses of B’nai Yisrael away from their history, Yiddishkeit, spirituality and the notion of how and why they came to be here — in the land of Israel. We await revelation of the cure from Israel’s leftist political parties’ and leaders’ blind hatred for anything Jewish — hatred that blinds, distracts and distorts them from the dire security peril of their actions. And we await the cure from a similar blind disdain amongst one or more sectors of the religious for other religious sectors. And we await the cure from the resigned, compacent mindset of much of the masses — “ein ma’la soat.”

The story of this cure, and it’s multi-miracles begins with the inspiration of the episode of Dina’s abduction by Shechem, the son of Chamor, and his proposal of marriage to Dina. We recall from the Torah portion of Vayishlach that the sons of Yaakov made any marriage conditional on Bris Milah of Shechem, Chamor and all the Shechemites. And while they were all incapacitated, they were slaughtered by Shimon and Levi. We recall that Dina became pregnant by her “union” with Shechem.

But what happened to the child? Seemingly, we never hear of the resultant offspring.

The Encyclopedia of Biblical Personalities by Yishai Chasida (pages 97-98) cites Sofrim 21:9 which states that:

Dina was six years old when she bore Asenath (Asnat). The brothers sought to kill Asenath to avoid accusations of immorality in Yaakov’s tents.

And so, as Chasida cites from Pirkei d’Rabbi Eleizer Perek 38, Yaakov wrote all that had transpired on metal foil, or on gold foil (as Chasida cites from Midrash Aggadah, Breish’t 41:45), placed it on Asnat as a necklace and sent her away. The Moloch Michael brought her down to Mitzrayim, to the house of Potiphar.

Chasida cites The Midrash Aggadah, Breish’t 41:45 relates what could have happened;

Potiphar found the child crying while out strolling with friends, read the foil and said; “This is the daughter of a great man. Take her to my house.”

There we learn that his wife (named Zelichah, according to Chasida’s citing of Sefer HaYashar on Vayeishev) in the Encyclopedia page 497, unable to give birth, raised the child, Asnat as her own.

As we learned, Joseph ends up in Mitzrayim and incarcerated, on trumped up, false charges having to do with the wife of Pontiphar. Chasida cites Yalkut Shimoni on Vayeishev 146 which states that Asnat went to Potiphar and testified to the truth, thus sparing Yosef the death penalty:

Said Hashem, “By your life, since you have spoken on Yosef’s behalf, the tribes which I will raise from him will come through you.”

And so, as cited in Pirkei d’Rabbi Eleizer Perek 38, Targum Yonatan and Da’at Zekenim by the Judaica Press Chumash, Parsha Mikeitz, page 523b, after Yosef was appointed Viceroy by Pharoh;

When Yosef traveled throughout Mitzrayim, every maiden who saw him cast a trinket or an item of Jewelry at his feet. Asnat, too, cast her amulet at Yosef’s feet. He ignored all of the jewelry cast before him, but when he saw the amulet bearing Hashem’s name, he examined it and determined that the maiden who had cast it… was of the seed of Yaakov.

The Judaica Press Chumash, Parsha Mikeitz also indicates that Pharoh called to Potiphar (Poti-phera denoting emasculation, i.e. that he was bi-sexual and also had designs on Yosef — stuff of a different shmooze) to give his young daughter to Yosef for a wife;

The damsel was beautiful, a virgin, and no man had been intimate with her, and Yosef took her for a wife.

And so may the spirit of Yosef and Asnat, and the Divine miracles done to both, where their union came only after each of them were singularly committed to the same causes, hashkafic values and spiritual pages. May they inspire us all this Chanukah, and through to the future, that all is not lost, to appreciate and be thankful for what Hashem does for Am Yisrael and toward a modern-day emulation of the Macabees: to stand up against an evil regime, a regime set on self-destruction driven by their disdain for who and what they are.

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

Chanukah Same’ach!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Vayeishev 5775: Yehudah’s Triumph Over His Yeitzer Hara – It’s Meaning Today?

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


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Vayeishev is being sponsored by Yossie and Riki Leff of Ramat Beit Shemesh who wish hotslocha to their family. To Mishpochat Leff, 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 Vayeishev 5775: Yehudah’s Triumph Over His Yeitzer Hara – It’s Meaning Today?

by Moshe Burt

Our parsha relates how Yosef, born to Rachel, was Yaakov’s favored son — his “Ben Z’kunim” (son of old age) to whom he bestowed a multi-colored coat which sources indicate could have been the coat of Eisev which was worn by Yaakov in receiving the B’rachot from Yitzchak. Yosef’s favored son status aroused jealousy amongst his brothers. Yosef’s tale-bearing about his brothers, as well as his dream-telling aroused anger and hatred of him in the brothers.

They saw Yosef’s tale-telling — often without knowing all of the facts and his pronouncement of his dreams, as fostering their perception that he sought to rule over them, that he sought their subserviance to him. His brothers also envied their Father’s preference for him. They viewed Yosef in the light of the family history — their great grandfather’s Avraham’s reluctance to separate from his other son Yishmael and their grandfather Yitzchak’s apparent favoritism for his son Eisev, that “master of kibud Av,” who nonetheless was wicked and not connected with Shemayim.

Yosef’s brothers, while acting inappropriately out of jealousy, perceived Yosef as a threat to the future nation that was to grow from them as the offspring of Yaakov.

When Yosef came searching out his brothers in the fields, the brothers saw him “from afar… and they conspired toward him to kill him.” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 37, posuk 18)

With this background in place, we can then reflect upon the brothers’ plot to kill Yosef, and Reuven’s action urging his brothers to throw Yosef into a pit rather than to murder him. Our parsha records (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 37, posukim 21-22):

“Reuven… rescued him from their hand; he said, ‘We will not strike him mortally!’ And Reuven said to them: ‘Do not shed blood! Throw him into this pit in the wilderness, but send no hand against him!’ — in order to rescue him from their hand, to return him to his father.”

But Reuven left the company of his brothers at that point. This author has yet to see a definitive, unequivocal explanation of why Reuven left, but some say that he went to serve his father, while “The Midrash Says”, by Rabbi Moshe Weissman on our Parshat (page 354) indicates:

Reuven left the company. He never partook in meals since he was constantly fasting and praying for having committed the sin of disarranging his father’s couch.

But the conspiracy discussions continued amongst the other brothers until they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites, with their camels carrying spices and balsam and headed toward Mitzrayim (Egypt). Torah relates Yehudah telling his brothers (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 37, posukim 26-28):

“… ‘What gain will there be if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come let us sell him to the Ishmaelites — but let our hand not be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.’ And his brothers listened. Midianite men, traders, passed by; they pulled and brought Yosef up from the pit and sold Yosef to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver; then they brought Yosef to Mitzrayim.”

Torah relates how the brothers, save Reuven, then feigned Yosef’s death by slaughtering a male goat and dipping Yosef’s fine woolen tunic in the goat’s blood before returning home to Yaakov to report Yosef’s alleged death. Upon hearing the news and seeing Yosef’s blood-stained woolen tunic , Yaakov was inconsolable in his grief mourning for his son Yosef endlessly (Summary – Sefer Breish’t, Perek 37, posukim 31-35):

“My son’s tunic! An evil beast devoured him. Yosef has surely been torn to bits.” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 37, posuk 33)

Torah relates (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 38, posuk 1):

“It was at that time that Yehudah went down from his brothers and turned away unto an Adullamite man…”

Rashi relates on this posuk (Rashi on Sefer Breish’t, Perek 38, posuk 1):

To teach you that [Yehudah's] brothers took him down from his greatness, i.e. from his position of of leadership among them, when they saw the distress of their father. They said, “You said to sell him. Had you said to return them to Yaakov, we would have listened to you.” And he turned away from his brothers.

Although the other brothers sought to kill Yosef, they blamed Yehudah, who they had looked to as King, for the inconsolable grief and suffering of their father. And Yehudah, as leader, made the errant decision to sell Yosef into slavery, and manufacture evidence of Yosef’s death, errors which he would come to learn and grow from on two subsequent occasions.

With this separation between Yehudah and his brothers begins the story of Tamar. We learn that Tamar, the daughter of Shem(Rashi on Sefer Breish’t, Perek 38, posuk 24: The Tanna Ephraim Maksha’ah in the name of R’ Me’ir) married the first of Yehudah’s three sons, Er, but Er was evil and Hashem caused him to die. Yehudah then had his second son Onan enter into levirate marraige with Tamar, but Hashem caused Onan to die for the same reasons as Er. Rashi notes (Rashi on Sefer Breish’t, Perek 38, posukim 6-9):

… Like the death of Er was the death of Onan, i.e., they both died for the same reason. Why would Er destroy his seed? So that [Tamar] should not become pregnant, and thereby spoil her beauty.

And he [Onan] would destroy [it] onto the ground.

Yehudah then told Tamar to remain a widow until his youngest son Shelah is grown, as a pretext to push Tamar aside, fearing that Shelah too would die if he marred Tamar

Torah relates (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 38, posuk 11) that:

“Tamar went and lived in her father’s house.”

A summary of the subsequent posukim (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 38, posukim 12-26, “The Midrash Says”, by Rabbi Moshe Weissman on our Parshat, page 364 ) relate:

Upon the death of his wife, after the mourning period, Torah relates that Yehudah went to his sheep shearers in Timnah. Tamar was told that Yehudah was coming, and that Shelah had grown and that she had not been betrothed to him. Tamar had been a modest in the time that she had lived in Yehudah’s home, and thus she would not be recognized. Knowing that Yehudah was heir to Kingship, Tamar acted L’Shem Shemayim (in the Name of Heaven) in her intentions seeking to conceive by Yehudah. She changed from her widow’s clothing, covering her face with a veil and wrapped herself in order to deceive Yehudah. She positioned herself at a crossroads on the way to Timnah. Yehudah, not recognizing his daughter-in-law, saw a woman that he thought was a harlot and asked to be with her. Tamar asked remuneration and Yehudah promised her a kid goat from his flock. Tamar requested Yehudah’s signet, his wrap and his staff as pledge against the kid goat.

Yehudah attempted to satisfy the pledge by asking his Adullamite friend to locate the harlot and to deliver the kid goat, but to no avail as the Adullamite could not locate the harlot at the crossroads.

That pledge was to be key to saving Tamar’s life and to Yehudah’s asserting righteous leadership which would serve as paradigm for future Jewish Malchut (Kingship) both regarding Tamar, and subsequently, in standing up to Egypt’s Viceroy on behalf of his youngest brother Benyamin.

Tamar conceived as a result of the liaison. Not knowing that the assumed harlot was actually Tamar, three months passed and Yehudah was told that his daughter-in-law had committed harlotry and was pregnant. Yehudah ordered her to be taken out and burned.

Torah records (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 38, posukim 25-26):

“She was being taken out, and she sent (word) to her father-in-law, saying, ‘By the man to whom these belong I am pregnant.’ And she said, ‘Recognize, if you please, whose are this signet, this wrap, this staff.’ Yehudah recognized; and he said, ‘She is right; it is from me, inasmuch as I did not give her to Shelah my son’… “

Rashi relates (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 38, posuk 25) that Taamr said to Yehudah:

“Recognize, if you please…” The… context expresses nothing but request. Tamar implied, “Please recognize your Creator –and do not destroy three souls,” i.e. Tamar and her unborn twins. [Or, if not knowing at the time that she bore twins, did Tamar actually mean Yehudah, herself and offspring? -- MB Author]

Torah then records (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 38, posukim 27, 29-30):

And it came to pass at the time she gave birth, and behold! [there were] twins in her womb. …And he called his name Peretz. Afterwards his brother on whose hand was the crimson thread came out; and he called his name Zerach.

History tells that from the descendants of Peretz came the Malchut, and will come Moshiach.

The point of this entire narration for our times seems to this author to be Yehudah’s learning and growth as a result of his errors in urging the other brothers to sell Yosef into slavery and manufacturing Yosef’s bogus death, as well as falsely concluding that Tamar had sinned. Yehudah could have acted against Tamar, as only she had known what he had done. But instead, as told in “The Midrash Says”, by Rabbi Moshe Weissman on our Parshat, page 367):

When Yehudah saw the pledge, he felt ashamed and was tempted to deny that it was his. But he won the battle against his yeitzer hara (evil inclination), thinking, “I would rather be put to shame in this world than be ashamed before my righteous fathers in Olam Haba.”

He admitted, “She is right. I was at fault for not letting her marry my son Shelah. She is with child by me.”

Would that our leaders, our current prime minister, his cabinet and all of our current crop of politicians — the old ones too, would win the battle with their collective egos — their yeitzer hara and man-up, own-up to the Am Yisrael — the governed; as to the horrendous, abominable, egregious decisions and actions of Oslo, giving away 80% of Hevron, the Expulsion of their Jewish brethren from Gush Katif, inconclusive wars in Lebanon and Gaza fought indecisively out of fear of condemnation by the nations, the enablement of enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication through providing them with water, electricity, internet, allowing them “building supplies” to build still more terror tunnels and much more and the resultant consequences, as Yehudah did regarding Tamar and their twin sons? Isn’t it time that the body of Israel’s governance act Jewish toward Am Yisrael and act as proud Jews before the nations?

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

Good Shabbos!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Vayishlach 5775: The Message Behind Shechem’s “Desire for the Daughter of Yaakov” and Its Meaning for Us NOW

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, News Reports on Saturday, November 29th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Vayishlach is being sponsored by R’ Barak and Honey Saffer of Ramat Beit Shemesh, dedicated in honor of the recent birth of their granddaughter Shayna bat Shimon Yona, may she grow in Torah and Mitzvot and have much Bracha V”Hatslocha.. To the Saffer family, many thanks for your sponsorship and continuing kindnesses through the years.

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 Vayishlach 5775: The Message Behind Shechem’s “Desire for the Daughter of Yaakov” and Its Meaning for Us NOW?

by Moshe Burt

After Yaakov’s confrontation with Eisev, he brings his family to Shechem in Cana’an.

Yaakov bought a field in Shechem and Torah relates a sequence of events (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 33, posuk 20 through Perek 34, posukim 1-4, 6-7):

“He [Yaakov] set up an altar there and he called it ‘G’d is the G’d of Israel.’”

“Now Dinah — the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Yaakov — went out to look over the daughters of the land. Shechem, son of Chamor the Hivvite, the prince of the land, saw her; he took her, and he lay with her, and violated her. He became deeply attached to Dinah, daughter of Yaakov; he loved the maiden and spoke to the maiden’s heart. So Shechem spoke to Chamor, his father saying, ‘Take me this girl for a wife.’”

Chamor, Shechem’s father, went out to Yaakov to speak to him. Yaakov’s sons arrived from the field, when they heard; the men were distressed. and were fired deeply with indignation, for he had committed an outrage… by lying with a daughter of Yaakov — and such a thing is not done.

Rashi notes on this last posuk (Perek 34, posuk 7):

“And such a thing is not done” To violate virgins; for the nations of the world restricted themselves from sexual immorality because of the flood. (cited from Breish’t Rabbah 80:6, “And such a thing is not done” implies a widely accepted restriction… One of the sins for which Hashem destroyed the world at the time of the flood was sexual immorality.)

Sefer Shem Mishmuel (Shem Mishmuel, Rabbi Zvi Belovski, Parsha Vayishlach, pages 57-60) describes Torah’s account of the capture and violation of Yaakov’s daughter Dinah by Shechem ben Chamor:

…Chamor… was the ruler of the area. After the rape [of Dinah by Shechem], Shechem and Chamor negotiated with Yaakov’s family for Shechem’s right to marry Dinah. The condition of acceptance was that Shechem and all of his male townsfolk had to circumcise themselves. Shechem was only too eager to carry out the operation “…because he desired the daughter of Yaakov, although he was the most honored of all of his father’s household.”

Shem Mishmuel goes on to note that Dinah’s name is not mentioned here, but is referred to as “the daughter of Yaakov,” indicating that Shechem wanted Dinah, not simply for his physical desires, but because she was Yaakov’s daughter!

Shem Mishmuel goes on to say:

Shechem wanted to be associated with Yaakov and his family, to be part of Yaakov’s… world. Indeed, Shechem actually means “segment” or “portion”…

We could say that Shechem wanted a portion in Yaakov’s life; he wanted not just Dinah, but also to share… [Yaakov's] greatness. Indeed, this is the opposite of the generally correct position to be taken by a potential convert. The Gemara informs us that the convert should feel that he is privileged to join the Jewish people, even though he is unworthy. (Yevamos 47a) Instead, Shechem felt that he deserved a place within Yaakov’s family.

…Every word in Hebrew is not just a label but describes the essence of it’s subject, the word shechem meaning “segment” or “portion,” describes the person Shechem and also the place…. Each person in Shechem wanted his own portion in life — to be significant and not just a part of a larger entity. Shechem was a place which influenced its dwellers and those who came through it to feel that they themselves were important and worthy.

This trait is one of tremendous power; it can be the greatest or the worst of all attributes. On the good side, the individual is exhorted by Chazal to consider that the whole world was created just for him, and that by performing one mitzvah one can favorably tip the balance toward oneself and bring merit to the whole world.

The converse, however, can be very destructive. A person who misuses this characteristic becomes totally self-oriented…. and becomes an arrogant person. He is so self-assured that he is simply unable to listen to criticism. He becomes like Eisev — completely beyond any rebuke or correction.

Despite the potentially destructive nature of the Shechemite character trait, every person needs a little of it to succeed. It is actually the source of the drive to achieve anything in the face of adversity. It engenders the feeling that one has important things to achieve, and that one will stand up for those aims and execute them, come what may. Too much self-effacement at the start of a project will doom it to failure. One needs to feel strong and independent to commence any activity. This Shechemite middah is a prerequisite for any person beginning any project of significance. However, … the feeling of personal empowerment and independence must be controlled to avoid going to the opposite extreme…. If this Shechemite trait is overemphasized it may overpower the entire project, ruining its chances of success and destroying its instigators.

Shem Mishmuel now applies the trait of Shechem to the B’nai Yisrael entering Eretz Yisrael — first stop: Shechem:

…Although Hashem would be with them at every step, it was an extremely daunting, and probably terrifying prospect to take a new and unfamiliar land. They needed a tremendous boost of strength and confidence to launch their task with the correct mind-set. This was the power of Shechem. As they began the conquest of Eretz Yisrael, …Shechem… gave them the boost of confidence they surely needed at this historical moment.

But, there are dangers inherent in this step. How were Klal Yisrael to avoid falling into the trap of arrogance and unreasonable self-confidence? …Avraham and Yaakov both first visited Shechem when they entered Eretz Yisrael…. Both Avraham and Yaakov realized the importance of the Shechem character trait, they knew that it was essential to temper it with a feeling of personal insignificance. This ensured that they could use the Shechem element when necessary but still retain a proper perspective on life and on their own worth. We can feel sure that they passed on this ability to their descendants, the Klal as a whole, who were able to derive inspiration from Shechem as they entered the land without losing the balance between self-confidence and arrogance.

Perhaps, in our time, we suffer — our governance. politicians, and perhaps our populace as well — from a lack of balance of the Shechem character trait — not the extreme of arrogance, but a disproportionate degree of self-effacement, timidity regarding OUR LAND — Eretz Yisrael. And so, instead of confidently, and with Emunah, asserting our Divine legacy and possession of OUR LAND, our governance and political leaders have lost their handle on why we are here and act in ways which de-legitimize us at every turn.

Perhaps we, the Klal Israel have become arrogant to our fellows, each sector disdainfully, deceitfully and disrespectfully alienating every other sector with their words. And perhaps, the problem is not only disdain for, deceit of and disrespect for our fellows, but a collective sense of collective self-concern, with notable exceptions which this author can attest to in Ramat Beit Shemesh, and a collective lack of Jewish national self-respect and self-esteem.

Shimon and Levi, with their circumcision rouse designed so that could destroy the Shechemites at the height of their pain and thus unable to defend themselves, seemingly acted out of indignance that another nation would dare commit such an abomination upon Yisrael, both upon an individual — Shechem’s violation of Dinah, and to plot the dilution and deprecation of Yisrael.

In light of the latest edition of Gaza War, which has evolved post-”ceasefire” into war against the Jewish people in Israel’s heartland: Tel Aviv, Yehudah and Shomron and in Yerushalayim, this author reasons that some of the same indignation and raised backbone which possessed Shimon and Levi out of Shechem’s violation of Dinah as well as the citing from Chazal above: “that whole world was created just for him” — for the Jewish people, would rise to the fore amongst our government and amongst Am Yisrael in our days in dealing with the violations of Israel by enemies seeking our destruction and eradication. Something to consider??

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

Chodesh Tov and 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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