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

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



Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Ki Teitzei 5774 is being sponsored by Nachum and Michal Kligman and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh to wish for much continued success with Mianzi Fashion and Hotslocha to their son Moshe Shlomo ben Michal. To the Kligman family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

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

by Moshe Burt

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

Our parsha also contains a posuk (Sefer Devarim, Perek 2, posuk 5) regarding male and female garb and the prohibition against cross-dressing, considered by Hashem as “an abomination.” This prohibition relates closely to Parshat Acharei Mos in Sefer Vayikra. There, Torah teaches (Sefer Vayikra, chapter 18, posukim 22-23):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our lives and our hopes for a good year and good things to come hang in the balance of the Cheshbon, if you will, between our Mitzvot (good deeds) and our Aveirot (sins or violations of Divine law). Once again, as 5774 approaches, it’s “Clutch time” and as that famous coach says, “Our Mitzvot aren’t everything, they’re the Only Thing.”

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

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt is an Oleh, writer and commentator on news and events in Eretz Yisrael. He is the founder and director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network and lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel.
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Parshat Shoftim 5774: Judicial Righteousness and the Paradigm Criteria for Kingship Over Am Yisrael

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


Shalom Friends;

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

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

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

Best Regards,

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

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

by Moshe Burt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good Shabbos, Chodesh Tov!

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Moshe Burt is an Oleh, writer and commentator on news and events in Eretz Yisrael. He is the founder and director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network and lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.

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

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


Shalom Friends;

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

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

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

Best Regards,

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

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

by Moshe Burt

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

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

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

Toward the end of the parsha, we are informed:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt is an Oleh, writer and commentator on news and events in Eretz Yisrael. He is the founder and director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.

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

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


Shalom Friends;

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

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

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

Best Regards,

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

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

by Moshe Burt

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

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

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

“you will hearken [listen]“: in midrashic terms as meaning the “heel”. That is being attentive to the little Mitzvot; the details, the Mitzvot that one tends to overlook, to ignore, to tread one’s heels on in life’s mad dash, but without which the Jewish people would lack the merit which sets us apart from common man.

The little mitzvot, the small details are the ones epitomized by V’Ahavtah L’re’echa Komocha — caring for, and attentiveness to your fellow Jew as for yourself.

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

Later in the Parsha, there are these posukim:

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

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

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

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

R’ Pliskin says on the above posuk:

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

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

This author previously blogged the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good Shabbos!

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

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


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

Parshat Va’etchanan 5774 — Consolation: Maintaining Hope, and a Godol as Flesh and Blood Paradigm for the Am

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, August 2nd, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Va’etchanan is being sponsored anonymously in appreciation for all the kindnesses done and guidance given by Rav Chaim Zev Malinowitz through the years. To our anonymous sponsor, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat Va’etchanan 5774 — Consolation: Maintaining Hope, and a Godol as Flesh and Blood Paradigm for the Am

by Moshe Burt

The Haftorah for our Parsha begins:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shem Mishmuel notes:

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, we have outlived every nation, every vile personality which put upon B’nai Yisrael and so, we should, in theory, be comforted. And inevitably, B’Ezrat Hashem, history in years from now will show we will have outlived Hussein Obama as well as the rashayim among us.

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

Nine years later, the disbelief and the hurt continues to be fresh, too raw, too festering, too agonizing for those of us who acted on behalf of our Gush Katif brethren.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brethren Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, our dear Chayal: Hadar ben Chedvah Leah (captured and held hostage by Hamas as of this writing), 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 Devarim 5774: Moshe’s Mussar, Bridging the Written and Oral Torah and Taking Back Israel

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, News Reports on Monday, July 7th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Devarim is being co-sponsored by Akiva and Esther Rosenbaum Lilui Nishmas for his father Rav Arie ben Rav Yehuda HaLevy z”l whose Yahrtzeit is the 4th of Av, well as by Rafael and Shifra Goldmeier in honor of the Bar Mitzvah of their son, Tzvi Shalom ben Rafael Mordechai. Both families are from Ramat Beit Shemesh. To the Rosenbaum and Goldmeier families, many thanks for your co-sponsorships and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Devarim 5774: Moshe’s Mussar, Bridging the Written and Oral Torah and Taking Back Israel

by Moshe Burt

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

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

We learned from the previous two Parshiyot, Matos and Masei that the B’nai Yisrael learns that Moshe would not be leading the B’nai Yisrael into Eretz Yisrael. And this author asked if it was that this recognition sunk into the collective consciousness of B’nai Yisrael as they realized, as the oft-recorded 80s disco tune went, “You don’t know what you got ’til you lose it”? And what, if any, are comparable lessons to be learned in our contemporary generations?

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

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

R’ Wagensberg explained that near the end of Sefer BaMidbar, we began to see indications, via the story of Zelafchad’s daughters, as well as the desire of Sh’vatim Reuven and Gad to settle east of the Jordan, and their offer to lead the B’nai Yisrael in combat, etc., that the B’nai Yisrael finally desired to accept Moshe Rabbeinu’s teachings and his Mussar which was meant to bring about the perfection of the Jewish people in emulation of the ways of Hashem as they were about to enter Eretz Yisrael.

R’ Wagensberg also made an analogy between the collective recognition of and desire for Moshe Rabbeinu’s leadership and mussar, and the sequence of donning and removing the tefillin shel yad and shel rosh. He noted that the shel yad is donned first before the shel rosh and then, after tefillahs, the shel rosh is removed first and only afterwords the shel yad. The tefillin sequence equates with a person’s active learning of Jewish law (Halacha) and Jewish history and then, receiving Mussar concerning the practical, day-to-day real-time, real-life applications of what has been learned.

So, in essence, the donning of the shel yad first, and the removal of it last equates with applying in the world outside what has been learned in Beit Knesset and/or the Beit Medrash.

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

Every Jew, every Israeli must look deep within himself and come to true, consistent answers as to why he’s here, why there is a divine connection of, and legacy between the Jews and their land — Eretz Yisrael and how he individually relates to the murderous hatred by the Arab, Islamic nation (in their “Palestinian” facade) and by the Nazis before them. This seems an accounting, a cheshbon of ALL Jews equally (irregardless of whether religious or secular). Every Jew, every Israeli must recognize the manifestations of hatred and loathing existent, to varying degrees, either on the surface, or just beneath the surface, throughout the gentile world — throughout the nations. This murderous hate defies analysis, rationalization or attempts to remediate by way of Israeli misguided, misdirected kindness (misread as weakliness), “morality”, “political correctness” or calls for “land for peace.” And every Jew must similarly look deep within himself and come to terms with how he treats his fellow Jew, regardless of sector — Bein Adam L’Chaveiro and whether it meets the spirit, the intent of V’Ahavta L’rei’echa Kamocha.

Every Jew, as his own leader, if he thinks deeply enough, must come to the inescapable conclusion that the Arab’s irrational lust for death to the Jew and destruction of the State of Israel emanates from Shemayim, as a form of what’s written in Parsha Toldos.

Yaakov Aveinu, in his remaining Bracha for Eisev said;

“…your brother you shall serve; yet it shall be that when you are aggrieved, you may cast off his yoke from upon your neck.” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 27, posuk 40)

Rabbi Artscroll (Artscroll Stone Chumash) renders Rashi;

“When you are aggrieved” as meaning; “If Israel ever transgresses Torah, and is thus undeserving of dominion, you will have a right to be aggrieved that he has taken your blessing and you may cast off his yoke from your neck.” (Artscroll, Stone Chumash page 141: Rashi on Sefer Breish’t, Perek 27, posuk 40)

The Chumash explanation of the posuk concludes in this way;

“This is in consonance with the prophecy given to Rifka while she was pregnant: Her two sons would not be able to coexist; when one ascended, the other would decline.” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 25, posuk 23, as rendered in Stone Chumash, page 141)

Jews, whatever their level of emunah and observance, must of necessity come together, as the masses of the modern-day medinat Israel once were as when they fought the Six Day War, the Yom Kippur War or when Israeli soldiers rescued the 100 hi-jacked Entebbe hostages. They must again, once and for always, shed or subvert sectorial disputes and jealousies in the interest of unity and toward the larger national interest of seeking and bringing to power a true Jewish Leadership. Such a true Jewish Leadership will enable us, in Unity to “take back Israel” rather than continuing to collectively tolerate and fall prey to the cancerous rot of divide-and-conquer, monetarily and morally corrupt, self-interested, self-enriching, weak and lame teflon/etrog governance.

Regarding Torah-based governance: a true, authentic Jewish leadership, based on the Moshe Rabbeinu model, is only as effective as our people’s unity with, recognition of and desire for the application of such leadership. It seems that real Jewish leadership flows from a unified people actively seeking such leadership — a leadership with the audacity to tare down, to deconstruct the entrenched, cancerous rot of present-day Israeli governance with its expedience, political-correctness, band-aids and political goaltenders. In other words, contrary to a Nixonian economic concept; the “trickle-down theory,” an effective, righteous Jewish leadership evolves upward with the Am actively recognizing, endorsing, seeking, demanding and encouraging Torah-based leadership and governance and it’s application thereof.

Our contemporary entrenched cancerous rot encompasses agendized governmental ministerial institutions as well as the university faculties and campuses, agendized courts and justice system, agendized intelligencia and media, the vast majority of Knesset members, as well as ministerial and local bureaucracies. And let us not forget about the consolidation of wealth within the hands of a relative handful of families who control Israel’s financial standing, as well as communal religious leadership which seems handcuffed and incapable of tzedek — justice when it comes to handling issues of business ethics, domestic and child abuse, fraud, criminality and more.

The reality seemingly is that without eradication of these cancers plaguing all sectors of Israeli society, including the religious sectors, even the evolvement of true Jewish leadership is subject to the slippery-slide of political compromise and/or attacks by the above described entrenched institutions which inevitably whittle down the credibility of a faith-based leadership, eventually dooming any attempt to invoke Torah values. We were seemingly witness to the perfect example of this slippery-slide when Menachem Begin, the closest of any modern-day Israeli prime ministers to possessing these true Jewish values, was ultimately unable to lead with any Torah integrity due to the pressure of subversion by the entrenched ministerial, institutional, political rot, as well as agendized media rot.

But maybe, that genuine Jewish leadership, the true Godol HaD’or, the Torah-true head of state is out there, obscured, hidden and waiting for the people to bring about the proper climate for his leadership. This proper climate can seemingly only come about through the deconstruction of the cancerous rot which is modern-day medinat Yisrael’s governance as well as the deconstruction of the rot of sectorial rivalries among the religious, as well as eliminating an atmosphere seemingly devoid of V’Ahavta L’rei’echa Kamocha on a one-to-one level.

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

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

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

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Masei 5774: Consequences of Not Possessing the Entirety of Eretz Yisrael

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, News Reports on Tuesday, July 1st, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Masei is being sponsored by Edo and Atara Lavi and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh and dedicated Lilui Nishmas to the three kidnapped and murdered Yeshiva Bochurim: Yaakov Naftali ben Avraham, Gilad Micha’el ben Ofir and Eyal ben Iris T’shura. To the Lavi family, many thanks for your sponsorhip and continued kindnesses.

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Masei 5774: Consequences of Not Possessing the Entirety of Eretz Yisrael

by Moshe Burt

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

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

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

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

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

This author recalls a point discussed several years ago at this time by that kiruv legend, Jeff Seidel regarding Parsha Pinchas:

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

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

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

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

Unfortunately, in today’s Jewish State, we have become handcuffed in “political correctness” by a small, numerically insignificant number who merely reside in Israel: the intelligencia, the elitists, the college and university professors, those with the bulk of the consolidated financial wealth, the ministerial engrained bureaucracies, the so-called “justice system” and the politicians; from the prime minister, to his cabinet, to at least 118 corrupt members of Knesset, who have become embedded in, and have consolidated their hold or power over the masses. This numerically distinct, yet seemingly all-powerful minority has managed to brainwash, endoctrinate, coerce and inculcate the masses with the shekar of “Land for peace(sic)”, inter-faith “dialogue”, the “rights” of one’s enemies — either through attempting to erode and eradicate Torah in the land, or through reinforcing an engrained mindset amongst Israel’s masses of “ein ma’alah sot” (there’s nothing we can do).

And so, because we seem not strong enough to possess the Land and to cause the enemy thieves, murderers and temporary “inhabitants” to leave:

“those of them whom you leave shall be pins in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they will harrass you upon the Land in which you dwell.”

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

May we, the B’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 Matos 5774: Vows and Mishnayot — The Importance of Clarification in Learning

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


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Matos is being co-sponsored by R’ Ari and Shayna Enkin and Shmuel and Yitti Bisk of Ramat Beit Shemesh in the merit of Am Yisrael. To our co-sponsors, the Enkin and Bisk families, many thanks for your co-sponsorships and for your continued kindnesses.

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

Please 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 Matos 5774: Vows and Mishnayot — The Importance of Clarification in Learning

by Moshe Burt

Parshat Matos opens:

“And Moshe spoke to the heads of the tribes and to the B’nai Yisrael saying: This is the thing which Hashem has commanded. When a man vows a vow unto Hashem, or swears an oath to bind with a bond (upon) his soul, he shall not break his word; according to that proceeded out of his mouth he shall do.” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 30, posukim 1-3)

From there, our Parsha informs us about the specific laws concerning vows, oaths, nedarim.

R’ Zelig Pliskin, in “Growth Through Torah” (page 366) brings a lesson regarding silence from our Parsha citing Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 30, posuk 15:

“If her husband will remain silent for a complete day, then she must fulfill all of her vows or all of the bans which are upon her. He has established them because he remained silent on the day that he heard them.”

R’ Pliskin cites Sforno on this posuk:

Sforno comments: When a person has the ability to protest and remains silent, his silence is similar to verbal consent. When you do not say something to disagree, it is as if you agree with what was said or done.

R’ Pliskin then adds:

Whenever your silence can be understood by others as agreement with what was said, you have an obligation to speak the truth. This way no one will mistakenly think that you agree with what was said…. A person who is not very assertive might find this difficult. But learn from the person who says things that should not be said. If he is able to say something that he shouldn’t, you certainly have a right to say those things which should be said. He is not afraid to say something improper, you should have the courage to speak up out of idealism.

It is this point which would seem to have importance for both Rabbanim and Talmidim regarding the learning of Torah texts, be they Chumash, Tanach, Mishnayot, Gemora, Shulchan Aruch, Mishne Breurer, etc. And, if this author understands correctly, this point may well pertain, for example, to the laws concerning vows, oaths, nedarim as applied to Mishnayot Terumah Perek 4, Mishnayot 3 and 4.

The above citing of S’forno by Rav Pliskin bears repeating here, with emphasis:

When a person has the ability to protest and remains silent, his silence is similar to verbal consent. When you do not say something to disagree, it is as if you agree with what was said or done.

This author ponders; doesn’t a land owner’s Terumah to the Kohen, i.e. 1/30th, 1/40th, 1/50th, 1/60th of his crop, take on the strength of a vow or nedar, just as when one speaks out a vow, oath or nedar?

Mishnayot Terumah Perek 4, Mishnayot 3 and 4 basically indicate that, if such landlowner who has normally given say 1/30th and, in this year his agent goofs, or there’s a lack of communication, or the owner employs a new agent, or the owner was encumbered with a multitude of difficulties (personal,busness, etc.) and did not properly communicate intent with his agent such that the agent designated 1/50th or 1/60th as Terumah — that even the owner’s designation, by way of the agent, of the 1/50th or 1/60th constitutes valid Terumah.

This author’s point, and where there is disagreement with the way Mishnayot is taught, is that Mishnayot can’t be taught in a vacuum in places where intent is involved. As this author understands, a vow or nedar constitutes Intent – kavanah, which seems to be Judaism 101.

For if we delve deeper, beyond Mishnayot, we see that note #20 of Gemora Bava Metzia 22a-2 thru 22-a3 (Artscroll, Shottenstein edition, Gemora) further clarifies Mishnayot Terumah Perek 4, Mishnayot 3 and 4. Footnote 20 states:

When a person separates Terumah, his act is only valid if he is aware of what he is doing. Thus, it may be derived from the scriptual source… that the agent’s acts are valid only if the principal is aware of what he [the agent] is doing having appointed him beforehand. (Rashi)

That would seem to indicate that where the actual alottment of Terumah is not in keeping with the land owner’s kavanah — intent, but still within what constitutes a valid Terumah according to Mishna, that the Terumah could be withdrawn and resubmitted in accordance with the owner’s true intent.

Sefer Shem Mishmuel, by Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, the Sochaczever Rebbe and translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski (Pasha Matos, page 364) adds this profound statement:

Through a mere declaration, a Jew may dedicate an item to the Beit HaMikdash or prohibit its use for himself or others. Violation of this vow is considered a grave offense…. The power of speech is sufficient to alter the nature of an object entirely, changing it from something ordinary into a mitzvah item.

It would seem to this author that in areas of Mishnayot where questions arise demanding clarification, that it is insufficient to simply accept the words of Mishnayot alone, as being “the way it is.” One teaching Mishnayot, no matter what the time schedule for completion (i.e. “learn all of Mishnayot in two years”), needs to refer to pertinent Gemoras, or other sources, in order for him and his talmidim to do proper justice to the Mishnah being learned, or at least indicate to those learning Mishayot, that there are sources, i.e. Gemora, etc. which come to further clarify in situations where simply learning Mishnayot could contradict or mislead regarding issues, suchas those of intent. For, in this case, by its very designation, the alottment for Terumah is elevated from the ordinary to Kedusha. Thus, the importance of specificity and clarification where questions arise cannot, and ought not to be understated, dismissed or the student ridiculed for asking.

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 Pinchas 5774: The Impact and Magnitude of the Sin Compelling Pinchas’ Zealousness — Then and Now

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, News Reports on Tuesday, June 24th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parsha Pinchas 5774: The Impact and Magnitude of the Sin Compelling Pinchas’ Zealousness — Then and Now

by Moshe Burt

We learned near the end of Parsha Balak that Bila’am’s scheme to seduce Jewish men to avodah zora by way of immorality (co-habitation) resulted in a plague which killed 24,000 Jewish men until Pinchas’ act of impaling the prominent co-habitors brought the plague to a halt. However, Bamidbar, Perek 25, posuk 4 and 5 read;

“And Hashem, said to Moshe: Take all of the chiefs of the people, and hang them up unto the Hashem in the face of the sun, that (there) may turn away the fierce anger of Hashem from Israel. And Moshe said unto the judges of Israel: Slay you every one his men that have joined themselves unto the Ba’al Peor.”

A few years ago, Rabbi Chaim Zev Malinowitz spoke out in a Shabbos Drosh what was, for this author, a Chidush (a new thought or idea) which shed some new light on the significance and magnitude of the Jews’ chet (sin) of the Ba’al Peor and Pinchas’ act of slaying Zimri and Kozbi as they co-habited.

Rav Malinowitz asked how it could be that the B’nai Yisrael, through 200 plus years in Mitzriyim and throughout their forty years of wandering in Bamidbar, maintained a derech which precluded illicit co-habitation, and yet have gone so fundamentally wrong in immoral co-habitation with Moabite women on the eve of entry into Eretz Yisrael? He brought a Medrash Rabbah indicating that Hashem brought a stream of water from Sodom to Shittim where the B’nai Yisrael were encamped and suggested that the ingesting the water apparently brought about a test of B’nai Yisrael which many failed.

Rav Malinowitz cites Rashi on Perek 25, posuk 4 and 5, particularly posuk 5:

Rashi on posuk 4:

Take all of the chiefs of the people — that they shall judge the worshippers of Peor and hang them up — the worshippers…

Rashi on posuk 5:

Slay you everyone his men — Everyone of the judges of Israel killed 2 (offenders); and the judges of Israel numbered eighty-eight thousand, as it is stated in Sanhedrin (folio 38).

If we do the math, if 88,000 judges each hung and killed 2 sinners, that’s 176,000 of the Am Yisrael who died by hanging. Now add to that the 24,000 who died in the plague and we see that the Chet of the Ba’al Peor took the lives of fully 1/3 of B’nai Yisrael before Pinchas’ impalement of Zimri and Kozbi as they co-habited brought an end to the death.

Rav Malinowitz also added, citing sections of Tanach, that, for example, Yehoshua noted decades after the Jews entered Eretz Yisrael that the B’nai Ysrael are still suffering for the sin of the Ba’al Peor and that full tikkun (rectification) for the chet will only come in times of Moshiach. He indicates that Hashem did an abundant favor for B’nai Yisrael in permitting them to enter Eretz Yisrael in wake of the chet.

This author reasons further that, just as only 20% of B’nai Yisrael were up to the test of taking the Korban Pesach, slaughtering it and applying the da’am to their doorposts, so too 1/3 of the new generation in Bamidbar failed a crucial test just before entry into Eretz Ysrael.

And so, we can begin to fathom the B’nai Yisrael’s sin and the circumstances which compelled Pinchas’ actions in service and defense of Hashem and in saving Am Yisrael.

Further testimony regarding the magnitude of B’nai Yisrael’s sin is found in “Studies in the Weekly Parsha, by Yehuda Nachshoni” in a citing by R’ Rafael Katzenellenbogen who refers to comments by R’ Sonnenfeld who noted that Zimri’s distorted sense of “acting for the sake of Shemayim” evolved from;

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

The phenomenon of Jewish self-degradation, throughout history, is one of the great mysteries of life.

Continuing discussion of last week’s Parsha Balak, even though perhaps falling short of the magnitude of Zimri’s aveirah with Kozbi, at what point is the extent of one’s sin outside of the pale? At what point is this sinner, whose deeds are outside the pale, chayev cheirem (deserving of spiritual separation) from the Kehal in this world and forfeiture of even the most fundamental merit in Olam Haba — in Shemayim — in the next world? At what point does such a sinner not even merit the neshama of a “toe-nail”?

And yet we learn from Midrashim on Parsha Pinchas that there was much dispute in The Camp as to Pinchas’ action in slaying Zimri and Kozbi. There were those who wanted Pinchas killed for killing another Jew; quoted by Rabbi Artscroll (Stone Chumash page 876, Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 25, posuk 11):

“This grandson of someone who fattened calves to be sacrificed to idols” had the gall to kill a prince in Israel! [Pinchas’ father was married to a daughter of Yitro, a former Midianite Priest, who was called Putiel…]

While Pinchas’s zealousness was a manifestation of”L’Shem Shemayim, Rav Zelig Pliskin, in his Sefer “Growth Through Torah” (page 358) notes:

There are many instances in life in which the correct thing to do is not always the most popular…. But a person whose focus is on doing the will of the Almighty will not be deterred even if others will insult him for his behavior.

Rav Pliskin also cites Rabbi Naftoli Tzvi Berlin (the Netziv) who commented (“Growth Through Torah”, page 359), and then comments:

“Pinchas did a zealous act that could cause someone to be aggressive even when it would not be appropriate. Therefore, The Almighty blessed him with a covenant of peace. In all other areas of his life he should be a man of peace.” (Haamek Dovor)

Our usual state should be one of peace. There are times when it is proper and necessary to be aggressive…. We become molded by our behavior. If we keep acting in a certain way it becomes part of our usual personality. To prevent this from happening…, someone who has to be aggressive on occasion should go out of his way to be extremely kind and compassionate in other instances.

Shem Mishmuel (Shem Mishmuel, English by Rabbi Zvi Belovsky, pages 361-362) notes that while a “sin for the sake of Heaven” could theoretically have a place within Jewish life, it is unworkable if attempted in practice:

An action must be absolutely free of any self-interest or motive other than serving Hashem and realizing His aims. Without this condition, the act is a sin like any other.

Shem Mishmuel then cites a Chazal (Vayikra Rabbah 14:5):

It is impossible for even the exceptionally pious not to have sin as at least a fraction of their motive.

In short, it would seem that in order to have been able to act as Pinchas did, he would have had to be perfectly righteous, to be “absolutely free of any self-interest or motive other than serving Hashem and realizing His aims.”

Shem Mishmuel also notes that commentators render Pinchas as a gilgul of Kayin, but continues that Pinchas took Kayin’s aggressive, self-centered, jealous traits which resulted in his killing of Hevel, and elevated them to a level of acting only L’Shem Shemayim.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe noted in regard to Pinchas’ action (Studies in the Weekly Parsha, by Yehuda Nachshoni, Parshat Balak, page 1113);

“He impailed the woman through the belly”; “He aimed his spear between their male and female members, proving that he did not kill them in vain.” Why would we think that he had killed them in vain? Rather, the Torah here alludes to the law that a zealot has free reign only while the act is in progress.

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

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

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

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

From [subsequent] verse 14 we learn he [who committed the sin] was one of the tribal princes. Nevertheless, here he is described simply as “a man from among the Children of Israel”, …apparently in order to consider his act solely [that]… of a “Jewish man.” The fact that he was a prince and should… have served as a model of moral purity certainly added to the seriousness of the crime. And Pinchas’ act appears all the more exalted considering that the person from whom exacted Torah’s vengeance was above him in rank. Hence it is fitting that the Torah in verses 14 and 15 informs… of the ranks of both the man and the woman. Nevertheless, the seriousness of the crime… does not depend on the fact that the person who committed it was a prince. What makes the crime so reprehensible is that it was committed by a “Jewish man.”

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

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

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

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

Are we of our generation — with our indifference, self-centeredness, short attention spans, our callousness, insensitivity and sectorial disdain for our brethren and our collective proclivity for exhibiting Jewish self-degradation before the gentile nations — any more righteous than the 1/3rd of the new generation of Bamidbar who died for the illicit nature of the avodah zora Ba’al Pe’or? Or of a later generation where the 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva died because they showed each other insufficient respect?

How can we tolerate Israel’s police caring more about beating Jewish heads, expelling their fellow Jews from Gush Katif, bulldozing Federman’s Farm and the properties of other Jews on Jewish land, rousting and arresting pregnant Jewish women and infants at 1 AM in the morning, than they care about saving Jewish lives?. In the recent case of the three missing Yeshiva boys, the police claimed that their hotline, inexcusably manned by seemingly inexperienced sherut leumi (national service) personnel, dismissed a hotline call made by one of the boys as “fraud”, “phony” and took six hours before informing the IDF, Gov’t of the three missing boys, now found murdered on 30 June, 2014.

That even some Jews, as well as governmental leadership, could be capable of treating their fellow Jews with such disdainful deaf-ear, blind-eye, nonchalance, lip-service, prejudice or worse seems, at least, every bit as contemptible as Zimri’s illicit co-habitation with Kozbi in the Camp by way of the avodah zora Ba’al Pe’or.

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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