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 were 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 it’s UNFIL are worthless and worse — totally detrimental to Jewish security and well-being. From the precedent of forgetting Yosef, and it’s 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
*****************************************

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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Parshat Vayeitzei 5775: The Descent and Fall of a Nation’s Malach Vs the Eternality of the Jews

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, November 22nd, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Vayeitzei is being sponsored by David and Julie Morris of Ramat Beit Shemesh honor of their children, that they continue to grow in Torah and Mitzvot and have much Bracha V”Hatslocha.. To the Morris 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 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 Vayeitzei 5775: The Descent and Fall of a Nation’s Malach Vs the Eternality of the Jews

by Moshe Burt

In previous years, this author discussed the attributes possessed by Rivka Imeinu of unconditional kindness and bringing unity, as well as her ability to discern when the use of cunning was appropriate L’Shem Shemayim (in the Name of Heaven) and to pass these attributes on to her son Yaakov Aveinu.

In the times in which we are living, the message of Discerning kindness from cunning, compassion from cruelty L’Shem Shemayim is meaningful, as is the message of Yaakov’s dream on Har Moriah, while laying on the twelve stones which Hashem merged into one.

The Chumash (The Sapirstein Edition: The Torah with Rashi’s commentary), Sefer Breish’t, Perek 28, posukim 11-12 relates:

“He encountered the place and spent the night there because the sun had set; he took from the stones of the place and put [them] around his head, and lay down in that place. And he dreamt and behold! A ladder was set earthward and its top reached heavenward; and behold! angels of Hashem ascending and descending on it.”

Rabbi Mordechai Katz, in Sefer L’lmode Ul’Lamed on our Parsha (page 40), cites Breish’t Rabbah 68 which tells:

During his sleep, Yaakov saw the vision of a ladder thousands of miles long. The ladder rested on the ground but it extended up to the heavens. Three angels resembling humans began to ascend the ladder. They represented steps and then descended. The one representing Modai rose fifty-two steps, and then came down. The one representing Greece climbed one hundred and eighty steps and, then climbed down. Finally, the one representing Edom ascended countless steps, and seemed to climb higher and higher. “Does this one not descend?” Yaakov asked with fear.

“Fear not”, Hashem replied. “Though this nation appears to be reaching great heights, it too will descend.”

…Like him [Yaakov], the Jews have known the uncertain passage from one nation to another. And, like Yaakov during his dream, they have observed the rise of various heathen nations, only to see their eventual fall. Sometimes, though, Jews wonder if the reign of a particular nation will ever come to an end; certain nations seem to be too powerful to ever decline. They ask, like Yaakov did, “Does this one not descend?” However, Hashem’s reply still holds true. All nations will eventually descend and only the Jewish nation will reign supreme in the end.

Rav Asher Baruch Wegbreit, in his sefer “The Power of Aleinu” writes, on the phrase “For He did not make us like the nations of the lands” (pages 38-39):

Who are these “nations of the lands”? And what does it mean that Hashem didn’t “make” us like them?

From the moment of man’s creation, all the world’s inhabitants were called “nations of the lands.” Hashem had intended that all of humanity be brought under the wings of the Shechinah so that He could reveal Himself to them, make a covenant with them and give the Torah to their offspring….

But that was not the plan of those nations. For the first thousand years of world history, people were perpetually wicked. Because of their evil deeds, they forfeited their right to become part of Hashem’s master plan.

We’ve seen this proven time and again, countless times throughout history — the famous 19th century author Mark Twain comments on the rise and fall of great powers, and the eternality of the Jews. And we’ve seen the fall of great powers in our generation such as Germany and the communist USSR. And in our very day, might we be witnessing with our own eyes the descent of yet another malach (angel) — the moral and economic decline and fall of the United States? “…One nation, under G’d, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all” — drowning in moral and fiscal decay because the liberals, the politicians have falsely connected “liberty and justice” with depravity such as “gay rights”, legal abortion, and apply so-called “Western morality” to Israel (i.e. “do as I say, not as I do” regarding alleged “disproportionate responses” against an avowed enemy’s so-called “innocent civilians”) in our constant war of survival. They, themselves (the United States) claim to be “one nation under G’d…”, while their government’s social welfare spending causes trillions of dollars of national debt which conflicts with the Divine lesson to man to “live within one’s means”?

Rav Wegbreit continues (“The Power of Aleinu”, pages 38-39) :

Our patriarch Avraham was the fist person in his generation who not only didn’t anger Hashem, but also reached a uniquely high level in his dedication to Him. Avraham merited that his offspring would experience — 325 years after his death — such an extraordinary event that every other moment in history would pale by comparison…. the revelation of Hashem’s presence at Mount Sinai.

One nation — the Jewish nation — was given the ability to achieve an intimate awareness of the Creator of the universe and a special relationship with Him…. Despite the thick veil of materialism that conceals Hashem, we suffer no illusions of Who the true Master is.

At the “End of Days, all of humanity will come to recognize that there is no corner of the universe, above or below, that is not subject to Hashem’s dominion…. They too (the nations) will be re-”made” and become capable of hosting the Divine Presence.

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

Good Shabbos! Chodesh Tov!

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Moshe Burt, 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 Toldos 5775: “When You are Aggrieved” — Does Eisev Have Grounds to be Aggrieved in Our Times?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, November 15th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Toldos is being sponsored anonymously in the merit of Kol B’nai Yisrael. 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 Toldos 5775: “When You are Aggrieved” — Does Eisev Have Grounds to be Aggrieved in Our Times?

by Moshe Burt

There are multiple lessons and discussions to come out of our Parshat Toldos: the Eisev paradigm of Kibud Av V’Eim (honoring one’s parents), how the childhood nurturing of Rivka Imeinu, in an atmosphere of wickedness, positioned and enabled her to rise above her surroundings and to act l’Shem Shemayim to do chessed to Eliezer. We also learn how the atmosphere of wickedness surrounding Rifka’s upbringing later served her well — that she knew how and when to be kind, and when cunning was called for, thus insuring that the righteous child — Yaakov would receive the Brachot that Am Yisrael would descend from him and that the nations would serve his descendents. We follow the contrast in personality between Yaakov and Eisev, and learn of Avraham Aveinu’s death and of Eisev’s selling of his Birthright for some lentil soup. Our parsha tells of Eisev’s character deception of Yitzchak through the “tithing of salt and straw” and the seeming deception through which Yaakov received the Brachot and more.

But here, we will talk about Yitzchak Aveinu’s bracha to Eisev and what it means when/if the Jews stray from Torah and Hashem’s Ways. Our Parsha, as rendered in the Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash, Sefer Breish’t, Perek 27, posukim 28-29, tells of Yitchak’s Bracha to Yaakov:

“…May Hashem give you of the dew of the heavens and of the fatness of the earth, and abundant grain and wine. People will serve you, and regimes will prostrate themselves to you…, and your mother’s sons will prostrate themselves to you; cursed be they who curse you, and blessed be those who bless you.”

When Eisev appeared, after Yaakov received the Bracha intended for him, Yitzchak answered, as rendered Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash, Sefer Breish’t, Perek 27, posukim 37 through 40:

“…Behold, a lord I have made him over you, and all his kin I have given him as servants; with grain and wine have I supported him, and for you, where — what can I do, my son? And Eisev said to his father, ‘Is there but one blessing to you, Father? Bless me too, Father!’ And Eisev raised his voice and wept. So Yitzchak, his father answered, and said to him, ‘Behold, of the fatness of the earth shall be your dwelling and of the dew of the heavens from above. By your sword shall you live, but your brother you shall serve; yet it shall be that when you are aggrieved, you shall cast off his yoke from upon your neck.’”

Rashi notes on Sefer Breish’t, Perek 27, posuk 40 (The Sapirstein edition: The Torah with Rashi’s Commentary)

“…Yet it shall be that when you are aggrieved…” An expression of pain…. as if to say, “When Israel will transgress the laws of the Torah, and you will have a claim to be aggrieved over the blessings that [Yaakov] took, ‘You may remove his yoke…’”

Rabbi Mordechai Katz writes beautifully in his Sefer L’mod U’lamed on our Parsha, page 39:

Yitzchak granted Yaakov the blessing that all nations would come to serve the people who would emerge from his descendents. However, Yitzchak indicated that this blessing would come true only if the B’nei Yisrael adhered to the Torah of Hashem. Once the Jews abandoned the ways of the Torah their enemies would gain superiority over them.

History has borne out this prediction. While the Jews acted properly, they enjoyed the presence of His Beit Hamikdash. However, when the refused to heed His warnings to repent, they suffered the loss of the Holy Temple and were reduced to living under gentile oppression in exile. Later, Jews tried to assimilate and become like the citizens of foreign countries such as Greece, Rome, Russia, Germany. What they forgot was that the gentiles, the sons of Eisev, have always been their enemies. As a result, all attempts by Jews to assimilate have been met by oppression, pogroms, and wars. It was only when the Jews remembered that they are Jews and tried to comply with the laws of the Torah, that they emerged supreme, self-confident and happy.

This lesson has been hammered home again and yet again throughout our history — they were “good Russians”, “good Germans” — Jews who abandoned Torah ways to assimilate into the society of their current residence, and we bear the historical results, culminating with the Sho’a. And now, “Good Americans?” “Good Israelis”?

One cannot help but ponder how easily many American Jews, who have forsaken their Jewish “bread-and-butter issues” for knee-jerk, reflexual liberal votes setting up a common man as a president/deity based on falicious characterization of skin color, can now be deceived over and over as conditions worsen in the US –even as this president/”deity” evolves ever more publically in his disdain and hatred for Israel (read: Jews). American Jews continue to exhibit a “herd of sheep” (being led to slaughter) mentality by voting one certain way all the time — knee jerk — in national elections, or local elections, afflicted by a blindness which obscures facts, past track-records and subversive affiliations and mentors so obviously evident with the evolution and growth of the internet as an instant source of facts, i.e., Bill Ayers, his wife and others who planted bombs in American government buildings.

In today’s Israel, perhaps this means that those who love and cleave to our Divine legacy of Eretz Yisrael and who love their fellow Jews as brothers ought to think and act outside-the-box and employ their wits and their backgrounds, L’Shem Shemayim, to morally and ethically best the political and governing hacks, the media, the intelligencia, the bureaucracy — who have long ago mostly lost sight of the Jewish mission in, and connection with, Eretz Yisrael: adherence to the Torah of Hashem.

We learn in Torah how Jews are to conduct themselves in wars of Torah survival, how we present ourselves in the sight of the nations and how we are to treat our fellow Jews — V’ahavtah L’re’echa Komocha (to do for our brother as we, ourselves would want to be treated).

Rabbi A. Henach Leibowitz, in his sefer, “Majesty of Man” (pages 80-81), seems to put a different spin on the inter-play between Yaakov and Eisev regarding the Birthright and the Bracha which seems in accord with how Torah mandates that we treat our fellow Jews. He equates Eisev’s grief at the loss of the Bracha with Mordechai’s reaction, centuries later, to Haman’s decree to annihilate the Jewish people. R’ Leibowitz cites Megillat Esther, Perek 4, posuk 1:

“And he cried a great and bitter cry”

R’ Leibowitz then cites Chazal (Breish’t Rabbah 67:1) explaining:

The similarity of language indicates that the decree was in retribution for Yaakov’s actions toward Eisev in taking Ytizchak’s blessings.

…What error had Yaakov committed? He didn’t steal the … blessing, it was rightfully his. Yaakov, although born second, legitimately purchased the birthright from his brother. That sale included the eventual blessings of the firstborn. His actions were not thievery, but merely claiming that which was his.

Perhaps the fault lay in his motives, not his actions. That… was not the case, Yaakov was not driven by desire for glory or [by] greed. He realized that Eisev was not worthy of the birthright or his father’s blessing…. Furthermore, his mother Rivka perceived through prophesy that the bracha belonged to Yaakov. She all but physically forced him to enter his father’s tent to receive the blessing (Breish’t Rabbah 65:15).

We see that Yaakov was not motivated by any personal agenda; rather he was charged with a holy mission — to rescue the bracha from his unworthy brother.

R’ Leibowitz cites Reb Dovid Leibowitz, founder of Yeshivat Chofetz Chaim:

Yaakov was not punished for the pain he caused Eisev, but for an infinitesimal shortcoming in not feeling sufficiently anguished that Eisev had to suffer…. Yaakov should have empathized to a greater degree with Eisev’s plight. …We can be sure that he shed tears for Eisev — and his tears were sincere — in Heaven those tears were scrutinized and perhaps there were not enough of them, or perhaps they didn’t flow from the innermost depth of his soul. It was for this miniscule lack of brotherly love that the Jews of Shushan were taken to task centuries later.

…The lofty level of ahavah — love — for our fellow [is what] Torah demands of us.

All Jews, regardless of their worthiness, deserve our love and our empathy with their pain. Although we may never reach the level of Yaakov Avinu, we have an obligation, within our own individual capabilities, to live up to the Torah’s standards and strive towards that goal: to enhance our love for and heighten our sensitivities toward our fellow [Jew].

And it would seem that how we treat and empathize with our fellow Jews is an important barometer in Shemayim in determining if Israel has transgressed Torah law and if Eisev has grounds to be aggrieved.

These political and governing hacks, media and intelligencia types, and bureaucrats who have lost their way have, for generations, dumbed down large segments of Israel’s population attempting to rob them of their Jewish heritage. As a result, there has been a collective loss of Jewish courage, principle, backbone, connection to Our Land and loss of Emunah (faith) in Hashem among many Israelis who have evolved into disdain and worse for their brethren who love and connect to Eretz Yisrael. We have borne witness yet again, in this summer’s renewal of Gaza war, to indecision, indecisiveness and equivocation by a government on the field of battle, as well as in responding to these past weeks’ spate of terror attacks upon Jews in Jerusalem and in Yehuda and the Shomron.

Doesn’t it seem as if we keep failing because we can’t or don’t rise above our natures, the atmosphere of our upbringings and our societal norms, nor can we perceive Hashem’s tests?

Unfortunately, the solutions to the problem, how most of us are blinded to contemporary evils, have yet to found. A solid L’Shem Shemayim methodology for besting, neutralizing and discrediting, at their own game, either an evil Israeli governance, or individuals who cloak themselves in perceived, projected righteousness and legitimacy, has yet to be struck upon. There seems to be noone in our time so imbued with Divine wisdom as Yitzchak Avinu, Rivka Emeinu and Yaakov Avinu were. Hopefully, the time for such answers will come speedily. May our actions regarding our fellow Jews merit acquiring such Divine wisdom as necessary to humble the evil-doers.

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.
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Parshat Chayei Sarah 5775: Sarah Imeinu — Avraham Avinu’s Soul Partner in Chesed

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Monday, November 3rd, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Chayei Sarah is being co-sponsored by Moshe & Rena Freedenberg and family of Beitar Illit Lilui Nishmas for Rena’s parents: Etel Bas Yosaif and Emil ben Henry and Moshe’s parents: Etel bat Tzvi Hirsch and Chaim ben Shlomo Yitzchak, and by Noach and Miriam Magedman and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh in honor of their parents and for a refuah shlaima for Avraham Yehuda ben Davida Yehudit. To the Freedenberg and Magedman families, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Chayei Sarah 5775: Sarah Imeinu — Avraham Avinu’s Soul Partner in Chesed

by Moshe Burt

Our Parsha opens by giving Sarah Imeinu’s age upon her death:

“Sarah’s lifetime was one hundred years, twenty years, and seven years: the years of Sarah’s life.” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 23, posuk 1)

Why was it necessary to break the 127 years into 3 sections rather than to merely say, as rendered in translation in The Living Torah Chumash by R’Aryeh Kaplan z”l (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 23, posuk 1) ?:

“Sarah had lived to be 127 years old. These were the years of Sarah’s life.”

Rabbi Artscroll, in the large blue Stone Edition Chumash, page 107, cites Rashi’s explanation of this 1st posuk:

Rashi explains that the repetition of years divides Sarah’s life into three periods, each with its own uniqueness [and each period shared the particular characteristics of its neighbor]. At a hundred, she was as sinless as a twenty-year-old, for until the age of twenty, a person does not suffer Heavenly punishment. And at twenty, she still had the wholesome beauty of a seven year old, who does not use cosmetics and whose beauty is natural (Chizkuni).

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer, “Growth Through Torah” (page 52) provides more insight into the character of Sarah Imeinu:

…The Torah ideal is to be aware that the purpose of… [one's] life is to perfect… [one's] character and every life situation is an opportunity for growth.

Sarah mastered this level of consciousness. Therefore at the end of her life, which was constantly devoted to growth, it could be said about her that all her years were good.

Rabbi Mordechai Katz, in his sefer L’il Mod U’lamed (pages 34-35) writes of Sarah Imeinu:

…Sarah had lived a full and rewarding life. She had accomplished much during her stay on earth and her good deeds were innumerable. She had aided Avraham with his devotion to Chesed by opening her house to as many guests as possible and by taking care of all their needs. Because of her outstanding righteousness, Hashem bestowed upon her special personal qualities. In fact, we are told that in terms of prophesy she was even greater than her husband Avraham.

Rebbetzin Shira Smiles, in her sefer “Torah Tapestries” on Parsha Chayei Sarah (pages 71-78) cites Rabbi Moshe Wolfson (Wellsprings of Faith, page 51-52) who cites the Zohar regarding Yerushalayim and Chevron in seeming analogy to Sarah Imeinu and Avraham Avinu:

The Zohar explains that… the Ma’arot HaMachpela is a copy of Yerushalayim. Both Yerushalayim and Chevron have the property of being an intermediary between the people and Hashem. Yerushalayim is a place that connects Heaven and earth; it connects this physical world with the spiritual world. Ma’arot HaMachpela in Chevron is also a point of connection. It is the entrance to Gan Eden and the point souls pass through on their way to the next world.

While Chevron and Yerushalayim are both pathways of connection, they manifest themselves in different ways.

In Yerushalayim there is an open and public revelation of Hashem. It is located on a mountain high up for all to see…. On the other hand, in Chevron Hashem is concealed. He is still very much in all His Glory but He is not standing atop a mountain. He is in a cave within a cave, and one must look very closely in order to see the connection.

So, to return to a point made by this author in Parshat Breish’t:

The sum total of the contrast mentioned above is that while Hashem relates to, and with each of us and with all of His Creations, we are still finite, whereas Torah is infinite. We hope and pray for ultimate Ge’ula Shlaima, where our lives are no longer finite. But in our current finite state, what we do here on earth is critical, for when we are no longer here, our Mitzvot, our kindnesses that we do, because they are needed, whether for family or for the Kehal — they live on, attached to the collective memory of the do’er by his/her friends, family, the Kehal and beyond.

So just as Avraham Avinu was high profile and “bigger than life” doing kiruv and chessed — the Gadol HaDor of his generations, Sarah was his support, behind the scenes — concealed, yet the inspiration and support behind his efforts. One could say that Sarah Imeinu was the wind beneath Avraham Avinu’s proverbial wings, as was the title to that classic song “Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler. Thus it would seem that Sarah Imeinu’s attributes inspired the efforts and costs expended by Avraham Avinu to acquire the Ma’arot HaMachpela — later the burial place of Avraham Aveinu himself, as well as Yitzchak Avinu and Rivka Imeinu and Yaakov and Leah.

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 other 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.
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Parshat Vayeira 5775: Bikur Cholim, Avraham’s Hachnasat Orchim,Tefillot and Actions for Kin, vs Contemporary Israel

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, November 1st, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua is being sponsored by Dr. David and Vida Rier of Har Nof, Yerushalayim to commemorate David’s Bar Mitzvah parsha — Vayeira. To Mishpochat Rier, 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 Vayeira 5775: Bikur Cholim, Avraham’s Hachnasat Orchim,Tefillot and Actions for Kin, vs Contemporary Israel

by Moshe Burt

Our Parsha opens with Hashem, as we understand, visiting Avraham Avinu on the 3rd day after Bris Milah, when Avraham was at the height of his pain following the circumcision, as Rashi indicates, “to inquire about his welfare.” (Metsuda Linear Chumash rendering of Rashi on Perek 18, posuk 1)

It’s not like Hashem needed to pay a visit to ascertain Avraham’s actual condition. Hashem is the Creator, The Master, The Ruler over the world who knows and is aware of everything. But Hashem knew that Avraham had built his life around knowing, and following the ways of his Creator and thus, it seems to this author, Hashem’s visit was to convey to Avraham His Love and Care. And so, as Hashem visited with Avraham, inquiring as to his well-being, Avraham pardoned himself from Hashem when he spotted 3 travellers, inviting them into his tent.

From these events, we learn and gain insight from Hashem as to the Mitzvah of Bikur Cholim; showing, caring, giving strength and encouragement to the ill by visiting and caring about them, and from Avraham Avinu as to the Mitzvah of Hachnasat Orchim; inviting guests into one’s home, as well as tefillah: as vehicles for emulating, connecting with and coming close to Hashem.

We learn from the parsha the contrast between Avraham Avinu’s chesed, and the cruelty of the city of Sodom, as well as about the two melachim who were assigned by Hashem to rescue Lot and his family and to destroy Sodom.

Rebbetzin Shira Smiles, in “Torah Tapestries” on Parsha Vayeira (pages 51-52) cites from R’ Joseph B. Soloveichik’s sefer “The Lonely Man of Faith,” which was quoted in the RCA Edition of Artscroll’s Siddur, while explaining Avraham’s chesed in praying to find some redeeming kindness in the evil city of Sodom. Rebbetzin Smiles writes:

Prayer is called avodah shebalev — service of the heart…. One way of infusing our hearts with love for Hashem is through prayer. But simply saying the words in the siddur (prayer book) is not the essence of prayer, as explained in the introduction to the RCA Edition of the Artscroll Siddur. The words are but a vehicle to connecting to Hashem; it is the feeling that goes into those words that makes the prayer. Through heartfelt prayer we can develop a loving relationship with Hashem.

Of course, if this is so, where does this leave OUR collective relationship with Hashem after the break-neck race with the Shali’ach Tzibbor through Korbonot, P’sukei D’Zimra, Sh’ma, Shemona Esrei and Chazzarat HaShatz (repetition of Shemona Esrei), not to mention Aleinu?

Rebbetzin Smiles continues:

The essay [of R' Joseph B. Soloveichik, z"l]… brings examples of… three ways to approach Hashem in prayer.

… Avraham Avinu in this parsha, Vayeira…. prays on behalf of Sodom, the wicked city…. pleads for the survival of the people of Sodom. He asks Hashem to save the entire city on the merit of fifty, forty and finally, ten righteous people, should they exist.

Avraham Avinu prays to Hashem here as a ben bris, a member of the covenant. We also see that he makes his petition not on his own behalf, nor on behalf of his family. Here is the first formal petition by the first circumcized Jew and it is on the behalf of strangers. …His plea to Hashem is not only to save the righteous, but also the wicked. Avraham Avinu was asserting that the lives of human beings, no matter how debased, are ultimately of value.

According to Avraham Avinu, prayer is about being a ben bris, a partner in the covenant with Hashem…. It is to Hashem’s quality of justice that we appeal.

Rebbetzin Smiles described three types of prayer in her “Torah Tapestries” essay on Parsha Vayeira. Avraham Avinu’s type described above regarded Hashem’s quality of justice to mankind in general, such as what we pray for on Hoshana Rabbah and 3 times a day — everyday in Aleinu.

In the Avraham mode of prayer, as with the later prayers invoking Hashem’s slowness to anger and His Thirteen Attributes of Mercy toward Am Yisrael, there seems to be a commonality of purpose in both — that no matter what the sins of the collective, there could still be a redeeming factor worthy of mercy.

Rabbi Asher Baruch Wegbreit, in his sefer, “The Power of Aleinu” renders the 7th and 8th phrases of Aleinu’s second paragraph:

“All the earth’s wicked will turn to you” (page 127)

“All of the world’s inhabitants will recognize and know that to You every knee should bend, every tongue should swear” (page 131)

R’ Wegbreit then renders summaries of these same phrases as follows:

We pray that Hashem should remove the obstacles for those too weak to overcome their lusts and passions — so that they can repent, and, in so doing, glorify G’d. (page 164)

After the final battle, it will be abundantly clear to all that Hashem is King, and, in perhaps His most charitable act, He will allow the very people who rejected His overtures to become true servants of G’d. (page 164)

Another type of prayer described (“Torah Tapestries” on Parsha Vayeira, page 53) was Eliyahu HaNavi’s for Divine Fire vs the 400 prophets of Ba’al to prove to B’nei Yisrael “that Hashem is THE One and Only G’d.”

But, just as Avraham Avinu prayed for strangers in the hope that there was justification for saving Sodom, Rebbetzin Smiles discusses Yehudah’s actions on behalf of his brother Binyamin as constituting prayer. She writes (“Torah Tapestries” on Parsha Vayeira, page 52):

Yehudah knows that there is a great disparity between Yosef’s status as Viceroy of Egypt and his own. He does not come to Yosef as an equal, or even as a ben bris. Instead, he comes as a servant begging his master for mercy. Yet despite his lowly position, Yehudah pursues his quest with passion.

Yehudah’s model of prayer is based on particularism — prayer as a way to fulfill an individual’s needs — in this case, Yehudah’s need to carry out his responsibility to his father and brother…. He appealed to Yosef’s mercy: do it for an elderly father, for this young man; but do it out of mercy, not out of justice.

We parallel Avraham Avinu’s unequivocal actions to free his blood kin, and Yehudah’s prayers on behalf of his brother Binyamin with modern-day Israel’s actions in the 1970s to free Jewish air-hijacking hostages, particularly the 100 plus hostages held in Entebbe, Uganda. But we contrast all of the above with Israel’s latter and current abysmal failures to liberate, and gain freedom for, Jewish hostages, i.e. the handing to the enemy 1,027 formerly imprisoned terrorists (the majority with Jewish blood on their hands) for Gilad Shalit, the recent freeing of over 100 bloody-handed terrorists as a “gesture” to reopen negotiations with a mortal enemy, the current talk of releasing or re-releasing an undetermined number of Hamas terrorists to gain the return of remains of the two chayalim from this summer’s Gaza war, and Israel’s political and diplomatically handcuffed and impotent efforts toward securing freedom from American prison for Jonathan Pollard. Further, one could ask; How does Avraham’s wartime rescue of his nephew Lot, and the rescue by the molochim of Lot and his daughters from Sodom — acts of Divine Mandate — contrast with the utter failure of successive Israeli governments to make sufficient appropriate efforts — Hishtadlut regarding Jonathan Pollard? Can it be that we lack the ability both to pray, and to act with the intent and power needed to move Shemayim? Might Pollard’s freedom perhaps enable Hashem’s Divine Redemption?

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 other 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 Lech Lecha 5775: The Impropriety of Coercing Stringencies onto Others and the Avraham Avinu/Pollard Correlation

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua — Parshat Lech Lecha is being sponsored by Zev and Sarit Schonberg and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh who dedicate this vort in honor of Avraham Avinu who taught us that sometimes the path less traveled is the right way to go. To the Schonberg family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued your kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Lech Lecha 5775: The Impropriety of Coercing Stringencies onto Others and the Avraham Avinu/Pollard Correlation

by Moshe Burt

This author says over a line each year on the first night of Succot, where Avraham Avinu is the Ushpizin (the one for whom the day in the Succah is dedicated). This brief line is a parody on a line from the classic weekly Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In comedy hour of the late sixties and early seventies:

And now, the man without whom the Jews wouldn’t be the Jews without the Jew, Avraham Avinu!

In Parshat Breish’t, this author spoke of our current finite state, and that in this state, what we do here on earth is critical, for when we are no longer here, our Mitzvot, our kindnesses that we do, because they are needed, whether for family or for the Kehal — they live on, attached to the collective memory of the do’er by his/her friends, family, the Kehal and beyond. His yeomen chinuch efforts in post-Migdal Bavel (Tower of Babel) times to bring awareness and intellectualization of Hashem — The Creator of the universe, of man and of all things stands as Avraham Avinu’s remembrance, his legacy for all time.

Midrashim tell how Avraham Avinu deduced at an early age that Hashem was the Creater and Ruler of the world. He tried worshipping the earth, the rain, the sun, the moon, etc. but deduced that not one of these forces regulated the world and that:

There must be a higher intelligence directing them [the various forces].

“I have not seen Him,” said Avram, “but I can understand that only a mighty and merciful G-d could have created the… world around me, and only his superior intelligence is able to keep it going. To Him will I bow.” (The Midrash Says, by Rabbi Moshe Weissman, Sefer Breish’it, Parsha Noach, page 118.)

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin comments in “Growth Through Torah” on the war of the four kings vs the five kings from our parshat Lech Lecha (page 40):

After Avraham’s victory over the five kings, the king of Sodom was so grateful to Avraham that he offered him much wealth. Avraham refused to take anything for himself…

Our parsha records (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 14, posukim 21-24):

“The king of Sodom said to Avram; ‘Give me the people and take the possessions for yourself.’

Avram said to the king of Sodom; ‘I have raised my hand to Hashem, G’d, the Most High, Maker of heaven and earth, if so much as a thread or a shoestrap; or if I take anything that is yours! So you shall not say, It is I who made Avram rich. Far be it from me! Only what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who accompanied me. Aner, Eshkol and Mamre — they shall take their share.’”

The Sapirstein Edition, The Torah: With Rashi’s Commentary on the above posukim cites Gur Aryeh, Tanchuma 13:

Avram did not refuse the king of Sodom’s offer of payment out of arrogance. He did it for the glory of Hashem, so that people would see that his wealth was the work of Providence.

Avram’s refusal of the king of Sodom’s offer stands as epitomizing Avraham Avinu’s eternal paradigm for all mankind.

But while Avraham took a stringency upon himself Al Kiddush Hashem, R’ Pliskin cites (“Growth Through Torah”, page 40) the Chofetz Chayim:

…Each person has a right to be stringent when it comes to himself. But it is not proper to force others to be more stringent than is actually obligatory. (Chofetz Chayim al HaTorah)

It is easy to tell others not to do things. But it is important to differentiate between an obligation and that which is beyond the dictates of the [Torah] law. The more elevated one acts, the more praiseworthy. But do not place excessively heavy burdens on others. The Chofetz Chayim was a completely spiritual person who symbolized the essence of a Tzadik. Yet he was the one who taught the above message.

Oh, that the kannoi’yim (criminal element) of certain sectors would learn the Chofetz Chayim and understand his way, as it applies in today’s religious world, i.e. that one segmant can’t foist or coerce their chumrahs, their understandings and extremes, educated or uneducated — under threat of violence or other forms of character defamation, onto others who hold by what they were taught according to their Rabbonim, their Mesora.

And perhaps politicians and “leaders” representing certain “religious” political alignments ought to internalize this principle imparted by Chofetz Chayim as applied to their rhetoric, on occasion, of “jumping ship” on the rest of B’nei Yisrael and on Eretz Yisrael due to the policies of a sitting government, or of any Israeli government whose policies are at variance with theirs.

As we learn about Avraham Avinu and his having derived the existence of The Supreme Creator and King, we surmise that he heard a cerebral Divine message.

We learn that Avraham Avinu went on to have great influence on the people of the world and to amass great wealth. But he could have spared himself the years of suffering in prison, as well as the incident in the fiery furnace, had he simply followed his father’s directions, watched over the business, been quiet about A Divine Creator and not shown impudence to king Nimrod. No earthly superior stood forcing or ordering Avraham Avinu to destroy avodah zora and to promote HaKadosh Borchu. But, to repeat that parody from the Laugh-In line: “The Man without whom the Jews wouldn’t be the Jews without the Jew — Avraham Avinu.”

Avraham Avinu’s recognition, acknowledgement of, and Ahavat (love of) Hashem was self-learned, self-directed — coming only from within himself.

As with Avraham Avinu, Jonathan Pollard was not instructed or ordered by superiors or by a handler to provide Israel with the dire information she needed. Pollard could have been a free man today and over these past 26 years, and been successful in his employment within the American intelligence community, had he just looked the other way as America betrayed Israel via the abrogation of the intelligence-sharing treaty between the two nations. But what would be the fate of Israel, of the Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael and throughout the world had the knowledge about Iraqi weaponry and capacity for chemical, nerve warfare not been revealed to Israel? That modern Israeli homes and apartments are required by law to have been built with sealed rooms is directly attributable to the information provided Israeli intelligence by Jonathan Pollard. Yehonaton ben Malka just couldn’t turn away and couldn’t ignore what he saw as the potential for Jewish blood-letting. He couldn’t ignore the fate of his people in order to maintain his own well-being.

And so too, in our times, as we leyn from Parshat Lech Lecha, we bear witness to a great “Kiddush Hashem” in the personage of Jonathan Pollard — Yehonaton ben Malka. Prayers for his freedom, for his aliyah to Eretz Yisrael, are constantly on our lips and in our hearts.

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 other 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.
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Parshat Noach 5775: “Chamas” and How Man’s Principles can be Compromised to the Point of Non-Existence

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, News Reports on Thursday, October 16th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat HaShevua No’ach is being co-sponsored by Yossie and Ester Sussman and family L’Zchut the Chayalim, and by Moshe and Esther Lindner and family who wish for their children Hotslocha, success and simcha. Both families are from Ramat Beit Shemesh. To the Sussman and Lindner families, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Noach 5775: “Chamas” and How Man’s Principles can be Compromised to the Point of Non-Existence

by Moshe Burt

Rabbi Mordechai Katz, in his sefer “L’ilmod U’Lamed” (page 19) outlines man’s generational evolution of moral decline:

There was a span of ten generations between the life of Adam and that of No’ach. Unfortunately, each new generation ‘s acts represented a moral decline from those of the previous one. Mankind seemed to become morally worse and worse. Yet, Hashem refrained from punishing them. He waited, hoping that man would use their Free Will to repent from their wicked ways. Hashem hoped that they would possibly follow the example of the few righteous men and change their ways. However, these few righteous men alone proved unable to stem the tide, and the populace remained cruel and sinful. …One such Tzadik (righteous person) [was] named Chanoch about whom Torah records “And Chanoch walked in the ways of Hashem.” Yet, … a little further in the Chumash, we find that Hashem found it necessary to end Chanoch’s life before his time. Hashem was afraid that Chanoch might somehow find himself falling under the negative influence of his wicked generation. In this way, Chanoch was able to die as an unblemished Tzaddik and would receive his reward in the World to Come.

Rebbetzin Shira Smiles, in Torah Tapestries on Parsha No’ach (pages 11-13) relates this moral decline through the loshen “chamas” and notes the two meanings of the word “chamas”: corruption and robbery while discussing an opening posuk of our Parsha (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 6, posuk 13) to explain how man can slide further and further into evil:

“Hashem said to No’ach, The end of all flesh is coming before Me, because the earth has become filled with corruption from before them, and behold I am destroying them with the earth.”

Hashem tells No’ach that because the world is filled with chamas(corruption), a flood will come to wipe out mankind. It is hard to fathom how an entire generation could have lived in Hashem’s pristine world and defiled it with such abandon.

Rebbetzin Smiles goes on to render Rashi’s understanding of “chamas”:

Gezel: robbery.

Robbery is an anti-social and dishonest act. No one can live for long in a society where one’s belongings are not safe, knowing that they can vanish if one turns his back. But does the sin of robbery warrant such a severe punishment…. the destruction of the world?

Rebbetzin Smiles also cites the Slonimer Rebbe who explains:

No’ach’s generation embraced corruption. Corrupt behavior cannot be contained or limited; it always spreads. The act of stealing personal property was only the beginning of the downfall for the people of No’ach’s time. Normally, stealing is accepted as a wrongful act. However, the more they stole, the more it became accepted. Eventually stealing became the norm and the intrinsic concepts of right and wrong were overturned. When
civilization flirts with immorality, intolerable behavior is suddenly tolerated.

So it was in the time of No’ach. When stealing became acceptable, Hashem knew that the seams of the world were on their way to coming apart. He therefore had to destroy the world and start again.

So it seems to this author that Rebbetzin Smiles’ rendering of “chamas” applies as well when man begins compromising his principles, even when either having, or claiming to have in mind a greater and more lofty cheshbon of self-perceived Kiddush Shem Shemayim by his compromise. But, in actuality, he proceeds down a sliding road of compromised principles by conforming to immoral societal “authority rules and requirements.” When one bows to peer group pressures so as to perceive one’s self as being highly regarded by others, he is inevitably dragged further and further down the road of compromised principles and morality — each time with the compromise becoming greater and the impact on his society becoming ever more crucial.

Each time, however lofty and L’Shem Shemayim (in the name of Heaven) the self-perceived larger cheshbon seems, at some point down that road of compromised principles, the reality evolves that the entirety of these compromises has NOT been and is NOT Al Kiddush Shem Shemayim despite one’s own perception of having a larger cheshbon, i.e. perceiving one’s self as “protecting the populace integrity of Israel as a Jewish state,” or as acting L’Shem Shemayim. This seems true of compromised principles, countless times over, regarding national leadership groups purporting “connection” with Gedolim, or with groups projecting that they hold of the highest purposes, i.e. Jewish dominion and sovereignty over All of Eretz Yisrael, as well as for local communal leaderships and for individuals within the Kehal. National leadership entities cannot continue to campaign to the people wearing one set of stripes and then change stripes, i.e. “vote right and get left,” expulsions of Jews from Jewish Land, “land-swaps“, or “two-state solutions “, etc. once they attain governance.

Having in mind Hashem’s dismay and great disappointment with the state of man in No’ach’s generation, what must He think regarding the state of our darachim in our generations?

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 other 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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