Parshat Va’etchanan 5775: Can There Really Be Consolation, Even Ten Years After the Expulsion?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Sunday, July 26th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off



Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Parshat a’etchanon is being sponsored by Mattis and Marla Sklar of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for full, complete full, complete refuah shleima for Chaim Yechiel ben Malka (Howard Rothman). To the Sklar family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses and good wishes.

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat Va’etchanan 5775: Can There Really Be Consolation, Even Ten Years After the Expulsion?

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 for the Am the trials of B’nai Yisrael in Bamidbar and enumerates:

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

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

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

Shem Mishmuel notes:

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

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

But it would seem that this comfort, hope and consolation would have had to be an evolution as Jewish life, in whatever venue that they resided, eventually stabilized.

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

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

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

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

But, even now, consolation: a full decade after the Expulsion — ten years after Jew expelled his fellow Jews from their homes on Divinely ordained Jewish land in easily the worst post-Sho’a pogrom of our generations? Shabbos Nachamu? One wonders how long it really took B’nai Yisrael to console ourselves after each of the destructions, the persecutions throughout our history. One could wonder whether the term

Nachamu – consolation could, in reality, be a euphemism for convenient amnesia/forgetting just as the Sho’a raises memories too uncomfortable, unwelcome for those who R’ Meir Kahane z”l coined as “comfortable Jews” – comfortable Israelis.

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

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 Parshat a number of years ago about why Gedolim are taken from us, and how this could provide hope and consolation for us after the mourning of Tisha B’Av:

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

You have to learn from the Godol how to be a godol yourself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 and the Iranian Ayatolahs too! We, those Deemed (with a capital “D”) to be among the righteous, and Hashem will win out in the end.

“Nachamu, Nachamu Ami yomar Elokeichem” — “Comfort, comfort my people — says your G’d.”

B’Ezrat Hashem, as we pray and hope for each year, that 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 and the remains of the two Chayalim from last summer’s Gaza war 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 any piece 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 5775: Taking Beit Medrash Learning and Spirituality and Applying Them in the World Outside

Filed under: News Reports on Saturday, July 18th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Parshat Devarim is being sponsored by Edo and Atara Lavi of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for a full, complete refuah shleima for Yishaya Shalom ben Malka. To the Lavi family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses and good wishes.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Devarim 5775: Taking Beit Medrash Learning and Spirituality and Applying Them in the World Outside

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The report continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May we, the B’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 and the remains of the two Chayalim from last summer’s Gaza war 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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Parshiyot Matos/Masei 5775: Accepting Moshe as Hashem’s Annointed Leader and Connecting with Eretz Yisrael

Filed under: News Reports on Saturday, July 11th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshiyot HaShevua Matos/Masei is being sponsored by David and Julie Morris of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for a refuah shaleima, quickly and completely, for Moshe Burt who has undergone surgery this week. To the Morris family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses and good wishes.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshiyot Matos/Masei 5775: Accepting Moshe as Hashem’s Annointed Leader and Connecting with Eretz Yisrael

by, Moshe Burt

Our twin-bill Parshiyot Matos/Masei actually deals with two related points which bear repeating: B’nai Yisrael’s belated unequivocal acceptance of Moshe as their Divinely Annointed Leader and with the ideal of a Jew’s love, dedication and connection with Eretz Yisrael.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This explanation is as poignant now; in the context of recent contemporary history, i.e. the geirush from Gush Katif and the Shomron and everything that has happened and is happening since.

And so, this caring for and craving for one’s narrow personal comfort and sense of “the normal life” of the nations segues into Parsha Masei which teaches us that “Hashem spoke to Moshe… by the Jordan, at Yericho” telling him to speak to the B’nai Yisrael and tell them (Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer BaMidbar, Peek 33, p’sukim 51-56, pages 922-923);

“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 I had meant to do to them, I shall do to you. “

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

Rabbi Artscroll (Artscroll Stone Chumash, 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 and sent out a few 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?

Rav Moshe thus concludes that if a person truly loves something, they’d want it to be theirs, and no one else’s. This is 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!

Perhaps, the lesson to be learned regarding the B’nai Yisrael’s final, unequivocal recognition of Moshe Rabbeinu as their undisputed leader relates, in our time, to the Jewish people’s Divine title and connection to, and possession of Eretz Yisrael. Again, “You don’t know what you got ’til you lose it”!

If one could express possession of Eretz Yisrael as our own in human terms: if our land were a human being, one could embrace, hug, cling, possess and squeeze hard and 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, it seems important to one who passionately loves this Holy Land, every inch of it — that he be 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.

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!

**YouTube link placed strictly for authenticity of statement.

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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 5775: A Fine Legal Point?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, July 4th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Pinchas is being sponsored by Avraham and Miriam Deutsch of Efrat in honor of our brave chayalim. To the Deutsch 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 Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring (or as the case may be, co-sponsoring) a Parshat HaShevua.

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Pinchas 5775: A Fine Legal Point?

by Moshe Burt

Near the end of Parshat Balak, Torah’s narrative explains that Bila’am’s scheme to seduce Jewish men to avodah zora by way of immorality (co-habitation, halachically disallowed liaison) 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. In addition, 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.”

Rabbi Chaim Zev Malinowitz explained in a Shabbos Drosh a few years ago 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 worshipers of Peor and hang them up — the worshipers…

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 it seems strange that Zimri, the leader of Shevet (tribe of) Shimon, the Shimon who with Levi, acted against Shechem and the Shechemites after Shechem violated their sister Dina, would now act and condone co-habitation with other than B’not Yisrael.

From Torah’s narrative, there is no doubt that Pinchas acted l’Shem Shemayim (for the sake of Hashem) by impaling Zimri and Kozbi and so merited the Kehuna and eternal life. However, there seems to be a point which this author has not previously focused on closely and seems in need of clarity. According to Halacha, as explained by Rabbi Henach Leibowitz in his sefer “Majesty of Man” on our Parshat Pinchas (page 247):

When a Jew sins with a non-Jewish woman in front of at least ten people, the Torah allows an individual to take action — “a zealot may kill him” (Sanhedrin 82a)…. One who is so determined to uphold the honor of Hashem that he cannot let evil exist before him — is permitted to take the law into his own hands.

…Note that Pinchas, who so wanted to carry out the will of Hashem and bring the sinners to justice, did not run in a heated passion to kill Zimri and Kozbi. He first went to inquire of Moshe what the law was and only then did he take action.

The Zimri/Kozbi liaison had to be witnessed in progress by a minyan to halachically mandate their deaths. But, after Zimri brought Kozbi into the camp and in front of Moshe, they were sequestered in Zimri’s tent which was surrounded by guards. Do we therefore understand that the act of bringing Kozbi into the camp and confronting Moshe were, themselves sufficient witnessing and intent to justify action without the minyan actually witnessing them in the act of co-habitation? Or was the act of Pinchas impaling them both by their members with Moshe’s spear and showing them before the camp, in their impaled state — linked together in the act of co-habitation, proper satisfaction of halachic witnessing and thus mandating their death?

What is meant was that this author has always understood that Pinchas went into the tent (under a rouse as tent was guarded by others from Shavet Shimon) and impaled Zimri and Kozbi in the tent and then displayed them to the public their impaled state — in the act — at the point of the spear. Do we understand this public display as satisfying the halachic parameters (their act witnessed by a minyan) for the mandate of death? Or do we understand that Zimri’s bringing Kozbi into the camp and confronting Moshe, and Pinchas’ impalment of them, taken together justify the mandate of death “in the act”? What we seem to have here is a fine legal point. But it in no way diminishes the meritorious action of Pinchas.

On another point, were there mandated warnings to be issued, as with the wife about to sequester herself with someone other than her husband? Or did Moshe’s halachic ruling to Zimri regarding such co-habitation constitute sufficient warning, if such warning was even necessary?

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.

What the Lubavitcher Rebbe appears to be describing is another legal point which is not discussed by R’ Leibowitz, the concept known under the loshen; Kannoi Pogim Bo — that a zealot witnessing a co-habitation between a Jewish man and a non-Jewish woman may slay them both only provided that the slaying occurs as they co-habit. (bottom of Sanhedrin 81b through top of 82a) Therefore, apparently this author understands that there are two halachot concerning the sin of such co-habitation. One halacha in the case where such co-habitation is witnessed by 10 or more men, and the other where a single zealot witnesses the co-habitation where the parties involved in the co-habitation are sequestered, i.e., in the case of Zimri and Kosbi, that they co-habited in the privacy of Zimri’s tent and Pinchas’ intervention, killing them both spearing them by their respective members.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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 Balak 5775: Arrogance and Bias and the Modern-Day Bila’ams Within

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, June 27th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Balak is being sponsored by Dov & Bracha Moses of Ramat Beit Shemesh for a Refuah Shlaima to Bracha’s sister, Yehudit bat Chaya Perel and to her Mother, Chaya Perel bat Rifka. To the Moses family, many thanks for your sponsorship and continued kindness.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Balak 5775: The Arrogance and Bias and the Modern-Day Bila’ams Within

by Moshe Burt

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

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

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

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

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

Hello, I’m Mr. Ed!

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

There are many lessons that we draw from this sudden chain of events; Bila’am’s arrogance, his bias against Am Yisrael which drove him, even when his donkey’s path was blocked, and his deliberate attempts to circumvent and override the Will of Hashem in attempting to curse Am Yisrael. In the incident with his donkey, Bila’am was unable to see or perceive the obstacle, the moloch, which stood in the way of the donkey’s path. There is a profound lesson here for us today as the media, intelligencia, academia and political elites attempt to subvert the masses, create biases among the various sectors of Am Yisrael and orchestrate actions by successive Israeli governments such as to jeopardize the nation’s security and sovereignty.

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” (pages 350-352) presents two crucial points for us to learn and internalize from the incident of Bila’am and his donkey and his attempts to curse the Jewish people. On the first point, R’ Pliskin cites Rabbi Chayim Shmuelevitz:

…Any unbiased person who heard that the Almighty said not to go with the messengers [Balak's] would understand that the Almighty did not want Bila’am to curse the Jewish people. We see here the power of bias to blind a person from seeing what the unbiased person could see.

What did Bila’am report back to the messengers of Balak? That the Almighty considered him so distinguished that He would not allow him to go with them. It is quite possible that Bila’am did not merely lie to them. Rather his own arrogance led him to fool himself about what he thought were the Almighty’s intentions.

On the second point, R’ Pliskin cites Talmud (Makos 10b);

…The Almighty told Bila’am not to go with Balak’s messengers who requested that he accompany them to curse the Jewish people. From here, the Talmud derives the principle, “In the way a man wishes to go, he is led.”

If a person wants to do evil, he will be able to do so. But he will pay a heavy price for the completion of his evil wishes…. When you wish to travel along a certain path in life, you will be divinely assisted.

The existence of the moloch blocking the way was not visible to Bila’am, as it was to his donkey. But in our times, that so many of Am Yisrael could overlook or have selective amnesia regarding history, even obvious recurring contemporary history, regarding South Lebanon and Hezbollah, Gaza and Hamas, the so-called “PA” (read PLO, Fatah), Iran and their nuclear designs as well as outside money-fueled propaganda confounds the mind. And that bias among Jews, particularly against their fellow Jews who populate Our Biblical historical land in Yehuda and the Shomron (Judea and Samaria), land legally acquired in the Six Day War — a mandatory defensive war for Jewish survival, is perilous to the nation and equally confounding.

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 Chukas 5775: Chukim, Tradition and Jewish History

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, News Reports on Saturday, June 20th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Parshat Chukas is being co-sponsored by Rabbi Harry and Judith Greenspan of Ramat Beit Shemesh, in memory of their parents, Falik ben Hertske, Miriam Ella bat Yisrael Eliezer HaCohen and Nachum ben Yosef and Janet bat Henry, all of blessed memory, and by Binyamin and Tracy Skriloff, also of Ramat Beit Shemesh in the merit of Am Yisrael. To the Greenspan and Skriloff families, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Chukas 5775: Chukim, Tradition and Jewish History

by Moshe Burt

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

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

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

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

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

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

To appreciate his words fully…:

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

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

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

R’ Kaniel writes these powerful words:

It is said about the latter day Torah luminary R. Yaakov Kamenetsky that he was very exacting in adhering to the customs of his father and teachers. A story is told that his son once inquired why he did not eat cheese on Friday, to which he responded, “Because my father did not.”

When his son pressed on as to why his grandfather did not eat cheese, R. Kamenetsky replied, “Probably because his father did not.” Just the fact that his father had a given custom was enough for R. Kamenetsky to continue that custom – whether he understood the reason or not. He relied on his father’s understanding and intelligence and accepted that as good enough reason to follow in his footsteps, even though it could be argued that he outshined his father in his level of erudition (see Yonason Rosenblum, Reb Yaakov, pp. 358 – 359).

R. Kamenetsky understood that his father was intelligent enough that if he did something, then there must have been a good reason and, even if he did not know it, it was good enough for him to accept. All the more so, should our ancestors in the desert have come to such a conclusion when it came to something related to them by G-d Himself. Tragically, however, that was not the case. Our ancestors were tripped up by their emotions and egos in the desert and suffered the consequences. After seeing that the people He guided and led as if on the “wings of eagles” did not exercise enough discretion to trust in Him, G-d responded, “Have it your way.” Choosing then to follow their own thoughts and feelings rather than simply accepting the eminently thoughtful guidance of their Father in heaven brought eventually to their “undoing,” so to speak.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Rabbi Artscroll” presents one answer to the “why” of Torah’s placement of the Parah Adumah with a brief commentary in The Stone Chumash (Artscroll, “Stone Chumash”, Parsha Chukat, Perek 19, posuk 1, page 839) on the words at the beginning of our Parsha:

“…el Moshe, v’el Aaron…” “Hashem spoke to Moshe and to Aaron saying: ‘This is a decree of the Torah, which Hashem has commanded, saying: speak to the B’nai Yisrael, and they shall take to you a completely red cow, which is without blemish, and upon which a yoke has not come.’”

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

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

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

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

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

May we, the B’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 Korach 5775: Lessons for Today from Korach, Two Wives and the Southern Side of B’nai Yisrael’s Encampment

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, June 13th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

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

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat Korach 5775: Lessons for Today from Korach, Two Wives and the Southern Side of B’nai Yisrael’s Encampment

by Moshe Burt

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

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

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

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

The south side of the encampment seems to have been kind of a rough neighborhood full of apparent potential conspirators. One could say the event of the Miraglim brought about an unholy alliance, the opening of the proverbial “Pandora’s Box.”

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

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

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

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

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

As if Korach’s self-assured impudence wasn’t enough, he apparently was egged on further by his wife. “The Midrash Says” notes:

Korach’s wife inflated her husband’s ego and repeatedly reassured him that he was on a par with Moshe and Aaron. To his misfortune, Korach listened to his wife.

“The Midrash Says” then cites R’ Bach’ya regarding men whose wives led to their downfall (Sefer Bamidbar, page 203):

There were two extremely wealthy people, one Jew and one gentile, who listened to their wives, were destroyed, and lost their fortunes. The Jew was Korach, whose wife inspired him to rebel against Moshe. The non-Jew was Haman, who listened to his wife to erect a gallows… for Mordechai. Little did he realize that he was preparing the gallows for himself.

Just as the story of Korach’s rebellion relates how Korach’s wife fed his ego urging him on in rebellion against Moshe, another wife, of Ohn ben Peles of the Tribe of Reuven who was an original supporter of Korach, saved her husband’s life by speech and action, preventing him from being swallowed up when the earth opened up enveloping Korach and his other supporters.

The sefer “Inspiration and Insight”, Discourses on the weekly Parsha by the Manchester Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Yehudah Zev Segal, Shlita z”l (pages 226-227), as well as The Encyclopedia of Biblical Personalites by Yishai Chassidah cite Gemara Sanhedrin 109b which explains:

Rav said: “Ohn ben Peles was saved by his wife. She said to him,’What difference is it to you [whether Moshe, Korach, or anyone else is your leader]? If this one is your teacher, then you are but a student, and if the other is the teacher, then you are still but a student!’ Ohn told her, ‘What can I do? I took part in their plans and swore to join them.’ She said, ‘I know that the entire nation is holy, as it is written, “For the entire assembly is holy” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 16, posuk 3). Sit and I will save you.’ She then gave him wine and he was intoxicated and put him to sleep inside their tent. She sat herself at the entrance of the tent and uncovered her hair. Whoever saw her went away.”

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

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

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

Shem Mishmuel relates a thought on Korach from Rashi;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We now return to the wife of Ohn ben Peles about whom sefer “Inspiration and Insight” (page 226) comments:

Ohn’s wife used very simple logic: Why get involved in a dispute of such magnitude when you stand to gain nothing? It would seem that Ohn should have realized this himself…. another proof of the yetzer hara’s prowess in beclouding our thinking and preventing us from recognizing obvious truths. Persuaded by Korach’s arguments and perhaps afflicted with his own envy, Ohn was was at the fore of the… challenge to Moshe’s authority. His wife, however, was free of such influences and had no difficulty perceiving that which was obvious.

This author returns to the above quote by Rabbi Ressler in his citing of Rashi from Pirkei Avot:

“Woe to an evil person, and woe to his neighbor.” The 250 people met their death, simply because they were influenced by their neighbors! This points to the awesome influence that friends, neighbors and associates have on us.

There are lessons here not to be lost on today’s generations, as individuals and as an Am.

In an age where one can easily be manipulated, endoctrinated, swept-up and dumbed-down by questionable national leaders, politicians, academicians and media types projected over easily accessible electronic media, i.e. television, internet, i-phone applications, etc., simple logic can often get lost amidst the maze of talking-heads, i.e. Ehud Barak’s recent calls for Unilateral Steps if the PA refuses to talk. As prime minister, he initiated Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from South Lebanon into which Hezbollah filled the void with the resultant installation of at least 100,000 rockets targeting all of Israel. He supported the expulsion of his fellow Jews from Gush Katif into which Hamas filled the void with the resultant installation of tens of thousands of rockets targeting all of Israel. And now, totally oblivious to historical facts, he wants to set borders in denial of Jewish history, spirituality and the Divine legacy of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael. He wants to set borders characterized by no less that Abba Eban as Auschwitz borders — putting our population centers at risk from short-range rockets, destroying tourism and the rest of Israel’s economy, putting air travel in and out of Ben-Gurion airport at risk from mortar and rocket fire from inside the so-called “Palestinian (sic) state.”

It seems to this author that one does not have to be Halachically observant to apply simple historical logic and common sense gained over Israel’s 67 years of modern-day nationhood to the ongoing equivocal governmental-politically-correct-diplomatic chaos existing in modern-day Israel. But then again, I was born in the year of Israel’s modern-day nationhood, long before the Ehud Baraks, Buzis and Tzipi Livnis, Ya’ir Lapids, etc. came to the political fore.

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 Shelach 5775: Modern-Day Sequels to Distortions of the Miraglim, and the Ongoing War for the Jewish Soul in Eretz Yisrael

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Monday, June 8th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

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

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat Shelach 5775: Modern-Day Sequels to Distortions of the Miraglim, and the Ongoing War for the Jewish Soul in Eretz Yisrael

by Moshe Burt

Our Parsha Shelach, and the affair of the miraglim — the spies, annually brings to mind the evolution of the Israeli media, academia, political, governmental scene which has brought us to the state of affairs we are facing and continue to face today. This state of affairs includes the Nation facing continuing threats of tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of rockets aimed at all parts of Israel by both Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, continued governmental tolerance or indifference to Arab attacks upon Jews — near the Kotel, throughout Jerusalem and throughout Yehuda and the Shomron, as well as the prohibition of Jews, even MKs, from praying at Har HaBayit (The Temple Mount), of alleged police framing of Jews regarding alleged violence and damage in so-called “Arab areas.” Lest we forget the thousands of Hamas/PLO rockets which rained down upon southern Israel during the series of conflicts in Gaza since the expulsion of our Jewish brethren from Gush Katif. And we watch as an equivocal prime minister and government speak strong words against a “two-state solution”, only to eat those very words mere days or hours later. These all show clearly that the politicians, the elitist intelligencia, and many of the masses still have not learned and internalized the lessons which should have been gleaned after Jew expelled Jew from Gush Katif, and historically, the lessons of the actions of the 10 corrupt spies.

Israel National News recently posted an Op-Ed piece well worth reading in tandem with this Parshat HaShevua — Analysis: The Woman Who Brought Israel Under Hezbollah Threat about how, in the late 1990s, Israel’s media distorted their reporting of events on Israel’s border with Lebanon, misleading Israel’s public opinion in order to orchestrate and lay the groundwork which eventually led, under the government of then-prime minister Ehud Barak, to the May, 2000 withdrawal of the IDF from their security belt in Lebanon. This IDF withdrawal is said to have ultimately brought Hezbollah military and political dominance in Lebanon which has led to 100,000 rockets aimed at all of Israel. Some or many of these rockets could be armed with chemical warheads. This Op-Ed provides much insight as to the consequences of the bourgeoning influence of today’s misguided spies, the leftist media, intelligencia, academia and entrenched leftist influence in Israel’s political institutions.

And then there is the leftist’s darling, champion, chief manipulator, and modern-day distorted spy and a former Israel president who recently proclaimed, “There is a clear majority in Israel for ‘Two-State Solution’”.

Thus, it seems that we continue experiencing a prolonged internal war for the soul of Am Yisrael reminiscent of events surrounding the Divinely-sanctioned directive by Moshe to send spies (miraglim) into Eretz Yisrael. Just as Am Yisrael cried needless, bitter tears in our Parshat Shelach, modern-day Israelis, many seemingly devoid of Emunah in The Almighty as they are bombarded with leftist endoctrinations and brainwashings, and lies and distortions framed as “facts”, throw their hands up in misguided fear, as if latter-day grasshoppers, bitterly proclaiming; “ein ma’alah sot, ein ma’alah sot.” One can only wonder whether the current nationalist Justice Minister, Deputy Foreign Minister and Education Minister will carry any clout whatsoever in a government barely a majority and where its prime minister seemingly is waiting on a so-called “national unity” coalition.

Each year, as we reach Parshat Shelach, this author’s memories harken back to one Yom Nora’im (High Holidays) the late-1980s in Philadelphia, in the years just prior to becoming Ba’al Teshuva, and when the seeds of “Shalom Achshav” — “Peace Now” (sic) were being tended by the nascent Israeli/Jewish left.

The conservative synagogue attended for Rosh Hoshana and Yom Kippur had a practice of bringing in a young JTS (Jewish Theological Seminary) guest rabbi to help and assist the synagogue’s long-time Rabbi who was getting on in years. This particular Yomim Tovim, they brought in a young fellow who proceeded to pitch the philosophies of Breira, one of the leftist-agendized predecessors of Shalom Achshav.

These were years before “Shalom Achshav” emerged and succeeded in snowing and propagandizing hundreds of thousands of Israelis while sprouting, with the help of European NGOs, numerous different heads and tentacles which connected with leftist, Arabist, anti-semitic funding sources. And so this young conservative “traditional (sic)” rabbi-to-be proceeded to turn the Torah’s account of the Miraglim (the spies) on its head. He portrayed the evolution of leftist “ideology”; from Breira, to the Progressives, to “Shalom Achshav”: of “land for peace (sic)” as a worthy sequel to Yehoshua and Caleiv, who took their lives in their hands to defend Hashem and who urged the people on into Eretz Yisrael.

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” (Page 325-326) cites mussar Rabbi A.M. Shimanowitz, who would cite Rashi on Bamidbar Perek 13, posuk 27:

“And they told him, and they said, we came to the land where You sent us, and it is flowing with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.”

“Rashi cites the Sages on this verse that, ‘Every falsehood that does not start with some truth will not last.’ Unfortunately, today there are many people who mistakenly feel that every truth that is not mixed with some falsehood will not last.” (Chayai Hamussar, vol. 1, page 71)

So, of course this young “Rabbi” wannabe took the truth of Yehoshua and Caleiv: “the Land is good” and turned it upside-down, inside-out and sideways spinning and manipulating it to suit his leftist ideological agenda, just as the other 10 spies used a little bit of truth about the Land and the display of its fruit to further their agenda.

This wet-behind-the-ears so-called rabbi attempted to gain new adherents to the “land-for-peace(sic)” cause by portraying himself and other Breira, Progressive, Shalom Achshav, Noam Chomsky-types as if like Yehoshua and Caleiv — the minority speaking truth about the Land and, as if life-endangered, “poor, misunderstood” under-dogs when in fact they were the early version of what would later become a full-blown, well-oiled, mega-funded post-zionist Trojan Horse propaganda machine which would team up with the Arab enemy, the EU and leftists worldwide while steam-rolling and endoctrinating Israel’s secular masses — the so-called (by Israelis re: post Six-Day War Youth) “golden youth” and their succeeding generations whose Jewishness and Torah rooting was anything but solid.

These leftist, elitists — these scoffers are the latter day sequels of the complainers about whom Yehuda Nachshoni (Studies in the Weekly Parsha — Behaaloscha, page 991) cites Akeidah as indicating that:

“They desire to be free of any ethical or spiritual bonds.”

Nachshoni goes on to indicate (Studies in the Weekly Parsha — Behaaloscha, page 991):

This is what Chazal mean when they interpret the word “free” as free from Mitzvot (Sifre). With their exodus from Egypt they had become physically free, but their souls took on Hashem as their master. Now they wished to sever that bond. That is why the Holy One says: “You have abhorred Hashem, Who is in your midst, and you have wept before Him saying: Why did we leave Egypt” (Bamidbar, Perek 11, posuk 20). They did not explicitly say this, but the Holy One, Who knows man’s secret thoughts, knew that they wished to throw off the yoke of Heaven, but masked this with the complaints.

And so, the 10 of the 12 miraglim, seemingly selfish to perpetuate and maintain their little empires, seemingly preyed upon the weakness and vulnerability of the masses of Am Yisrael.

As a result of this ever-growing, corrosive leftist influence, we see a trend and evolution which has progressed toward such abominations amongst the Am, as the new “civil rights movement” — equality for and evolvement toward state sanction and sponsorship of same-gender relationships and “marriages” and attempted enticements, subversions and coercions by others to bring the state to hand sovereignty over Jewish Holy Places to other religions, i.e. Vatican’s ambitions to acquire King David’s tomb (click here as well).

This young conservative rabbi-wannabe counted on the abject ignorance of American Jews to their history, to their heritage and even to events of contemporary modern days, such as the Entebbe rescue, as well as an ever-declining attention span, as the means of gaining gullible adherents by default. These were the predecessors of Oslo who blazed their way toward the phenomena of Jew expelling Jew, attempted implementation of “Road Maps” and of leaders being “too tired to fight, too tired to win.”.

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

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

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

What caused the Spies to become corrupted?

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

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

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

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

Rabbi Dr. Wakslak goes on to write:

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

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

And so, true to the form which both Nachshoni and Rabbi Dr. Wakslak describe, the disunity, and apparent mutual jealousy and distrust within the religious sectors today, coupled with the leftist, elitist intelligencia scoffers whose distorted historical revisionism have fed efforts by successive Israeli governments who sought, seek to divide and conquer, maintain, consolidate and perpetuate their secular kingdom at the expense of the governed and at the expense of Jewish sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael as well as against the advent of a REAL Jewish leadership. Such a Real Jewish leadership would be in nobody’s pocket, would owe no debts to today’s political hacks, would make no bargains with hacks who would throw any locality or segment of the governed “under the bus.” This Real Jewish Leadership would subserviant ONLY to Shemayim.

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

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

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

May we, the B’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 Beha’aloscha 5775 — Aaron HaKohen’s Enthusiasm and Constancy of Service Contrasted with Our Recitation of Aleinu

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, May 30th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat HaShevua Beha’aloscha is being sponsored by Dr. Dov & Debbie Rosen of Ramat Beit Shemesh with a wish for hatslocha for the children of RBS. To the Rosen family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

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Parshat Beha’aloscha 5775 — Aaron HaKohen’s Enthusiasm and Constancy of Service Contrasted with Our Recitation of Aleinu

by Moshe Burt

The opening posukim of our Parsha teach us:

“Hashem spoke to Moshe, telling him to speak to Aaron and say to him, ‘When you light the lamps, the seven lamps shall illuminate the menorah.’” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 8, posukim 1-2, translation as rendered by R’ Aryeh Kaplan, z”l in “The Living Torah” Chumash)

“And Aaron did so, toward the face of the Menorah he kindled the lamps, as Hashem had commanded Moshe.” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 8, posuk 3 translation as rendered in the Artscroll Chumash, page 775)

Many commentators including Rashi and the S’fas Emes, as cited by by R’ Zelig Pliskin in “Growth Through Torah”, note that this posuk expresses the epitomization of the enthusiasm and constancy of Aaron HaKohen’s Service in the Mishkan as a paradigm for B’nai Yisrael to emulate.

R’ Pliskin writes (Sefer “Growth Through Torah”, Parsha Beha’aloscha, page 318):

Rashi comments: “This is to tell the praise of Aaron that he did not change.”

The S’fas Emes explained that usually when a person starts something new, he feels very enthusiastic about what he is doing. He is excited about the good he is doing and feels very motivated. But after some time passes the enthusiasm and excitement get lost. This is the praise of Aaron. Every time he lit the lamp in the Tabernacle [Mishkan] he did so with the same enthusiasm as on the first day.

R’ Mordechai Katz, in his sefer “L’lmode U’lamed (page 136) expands on the citings from R’ Pliskin in citing an unnamed commentator who provides a “psychologically-based expanation” of Rashi’s comment:

It is human nature to begin an assignment with the greatest enthusiasm. Gradually, however, this initial ardor cools. After a while, the person performs this task more out of habbit than out of devotion. But this was not the case with Aaron. He began his duties in the Mishkan with the most fervent of devotion and maintained that devotion throughout his years of service. His enthusiasm for serving Hashem never waivered. This then is what Rashi is informing us here.

Therefore, it seems clear that Aaron HaKohen’s lifetime constancy of service is l’chatchila (the way things ought to be), the paradigm for all of B’nai Yisrael to emulate for all time. But for many, tefillot (prayers) and other forms of service seem, through the generations, to have been reduced to automatic-pilot, with words of tefillah slurred and unintelligible. And it often seems as if the one davening repetitions, i.e. Shacharit or Mussaf, for the tzibbor (for the kehillah) is more concerned with his own melodiousness than with making an effort to pronounce each word fluently and distinctly.

R’ Katz adds (“L’lmode U’lamed, page 136):

It is sad but true that we have become so used to many of our activities that we perform them mechanically, without any feelings whatsoever. This is why our Tefillos sometimes [?] become exercises in reading Hebrew rather than emotional communications with Hashem.

“Prayer without devotion is like a body without a soul.” (Yeshuos Meshilo)

So, what does Aaron Hakohen’s enthusiasm and constancy of service, and the respective services of the Kohanim and the Lev’im have to do with our tefillot today, such as with Aleinu?

Firstly, let’s revisit this jaw-dropping comment and citation from R’ Mordechai Katz (“L’lmode U’lamed, page 136):

It is sad but true that we have become so used to many of our activities that we perform them mechanically, without any feelings whatsoever. This is why our Tefillos sometimes [?] become exercises in reading Hebrew rather than emotional communications with Hashem.

“Prayer without devotion is like a body without a soul.” (Yeshuos Meshilo)

Now, let’s look at excerpts from a piece dated 7 May, 2014 by Rabbi Emanuel Feldman (in Mishpocha magazine) “Where the Holy and Mundane Meet”:

Band-Aids, paper clips, zippers, earplugs, Bubble Wrap, tea bags: What do these items all have in common? This: They are indispensable fixtures of daily life, they make our lives much more livable — and they are taken completely for granted.

Take the lowly paper clip. Do we ever give it a second look? But try holding documents and papers in an orderly manner without a paper clip, and then you will appreciate what life would be like without one.

And what about those useful little Post-it notes? They come in all colors and sizes, and help us organize (or, in my case, un-disorganize) our activities. Our lives are filled with such ubiquitous little helpers: Scotch/cello tape, Saran Wrap, aluminum foil — all those anonymous household items that we take for granted but make life a little easier.

Atlanta’s Museum of Design is now presenting a special exhibition of these overlooked, everyday items, which they call “Hidden Heroes: The Genius of Everyday Things.”

Perhaps we should mount a similar exhibition in the museum of our minds, a …. special room featuring “taken-for-granted prayers.” Inside, you will find specially framed reproductions of overlooked but indispensable prayer fixtures of daily life. Here you will not find Kol Nidrei, or Ne’ilah, or Hallel; instead, in one corner is a framed reproduction of Ashrei (Tehillim 145), recited three times each day, 365 days a year. Ashrei is the paper clip of davening: We say it so frequently that we take it for granted, often mumbling the words while our thoughts are a thousand miles away. But Ashrei is the paper clip that keeps daily prayer together. It deserves a special gallery of its own that will remind us of its glorious role in Tehillim and in davening, and just why it opens up Ne’ilah on Yom Kippur afternoon.

The next frame would feature the Aleinu prayer. Pity the poor Aleinu, the majestic prayer that, because of its ubiquitousness, has been reduced to an exercise in speed reading at the end of the davening as we rush out to our mundane lives. The Aleinu frame would feature its provenance, its authorship (Yehoshua himself), and how it achieved its unaccustomed once-a-year recognition during the Yamim Noraim.

A third frame would show the tiny, three-letter word, Amen. Recited endless times each day by shul-goers, this is the poster child of neglected prayers. And it is a prayer, for it represents the affirmation of the brachah, or the Kaddish, that precedes it. How many people know of its crucial importance? Or that its proper pronunciation requires kavanah, or that its three letters (alef, mem, nun) stand for Keil Melech ne’eman — G-d, trustworthy King? This paper clip of our davening surely deserves a prominent place in our virtual museum.

But it seems that R’ Feldman may not have done Aleinu — Our Duty anything near its due justice. And is “devotion” directly related and linked to kavanah (intent)?

Well, as if it weren’t enough that we blow through P’sukei d’Zimra and that the Sh’liach b’Tzibbor’s repetition of Shemona Esrei ranges between the speed of Kentucky Derby winner “Carry Back” and the 100-plus mph blur of an Aroldis Chapman or Ken Giles fastball, not to mention slurred, mis-pronounced or non-existent pronunciation — perhaps the cost of the glorification of one’s “chazzonut skills”; by the time we get to Aleinu, most blow through it at warp-speed in a mad rush for kaddish before running out of shul. This author has noted several times previously that it seems as if Aleinu is but an after-thought to most. If it weren’t for Kaddish afterwards, gang-way for the stampede! So, from the beginning of Aleinu, the main focus of those saying Kaddish is to rush in a frenzy to surround the Bima — their minds and focus seemingly very far from the mission at hand — “Our Duty” — both paragraphs of it.

This mad dash described above sounds more like what R’ Pliskin subsequently writes on the above posuk (ibid – Sefer “Growth Through Torah”, Parsha Beha’aloscha, page 318):

…After doing the same thing over and over, people get bored… In order to accomplish anything, one needs to master the ability of sustaining enthusiasm…. as if it were the first time.

Aleinu L’Shabeiyach: The verbalization of OUR Chiyuv — it’s our obligation as Jews to praise and glorify Hashem’s name. Aleinu is the most often said, the most repetitious and unchangeable, yet the most under-rated, least respected, but perhaps the most important of all of our daily tefillot. Noone seemingly even bothers to take the time, when vocalizing 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. Heck, a Shliach Tzibbor was recently timed at less than 30 seconds. He must’ve blown off the second paragraph Akhan’s teshuvah (Akhan’s repentance and striving to improve, to come closer to Hashem — to rectify his sin of taking spoils from battle) entirely.

Rabbi Ari Enkin makes this compelling statement regarding Aleinu in his Halacha Sefer (”Daled Amos” page 24):

I have heard interpretations that the entire prayer service is simply one gigantic preparation for the recitation of Aleinu.

Rabbi Enkin then includes a reference footnote to the Mishne Berura 132:8A where the Rama tells us:

Say “Aleinu L’Shabeiyach” while standing after tefillah and be careful to daven it with kavanah.

From where and from whom did the impetus for Rabbi Enkin’s compelling statement come? R’Shimshon Pincus, who asks a startling question in his well-known and oft-referenced sefer on Tefillah; Nefesh Shimshon, as well as other sources, provide jaw-dropping citings, some of which are para-phrased here and give clues to back Rabbi Enkin’s compelling statement:

  • 1/ R’ Pincus cites a responsa of the Gaonim from sometime between 500 to 1,000 CE where someone asks: How is it possible that Aleinu is said in Chutz L’Aretz? Such a high-level tefillah shouldn’t be permitted to be davened except in a place close to Hashem, Yehoshua only davened Aleinu upon entering Eretz Yisrael.

    From this question, we see the specialness of Aleinu — that on no other tefillah is such a question asked. There must be something great, mighty and elevated in Aleinu which Gaonim felt can’t be appreciated in any other locale. This testifies to the deep and special meaning of Aleinu.

  • 2/ R’Pincus cites the Gry’z Z’l as noting that the whole power of the Yetzer Hora and its troops on the human mind is through the imagination, convincing man that he (man) is in control.

    If only man would say with vigor and strength that… [all that the Yetzer Hora has convinced man of man’s control of] are Hevel V’rik — vanity and emptiness and that there is nothing real in them, he (man) would then find it easier to recognize that… Hashem Keilokim — that there is nothing else. Afterwards, Satan would not have power to mess with man’s mind because man realizes that everything is dependent upon Him. R’Pincus brings as Aleinu’s purpose that it reinforces the feeling of the Jew, as he leaves tefillot, that he is totally dependent upon Hashem.

  • 3/ Another Sefer, L’David Shiur by Asher Elbaz seems to answer R’Pincus’ citing from Gaonim responsa citing R’Hai Gaon which indicates that by those in Chutz L’Aretz aiming their tefillahs toward Israel and toward the Beit HaMikdash, the Jewish world’s tefillahs rise to Shemayim from the Mikdash.
  • .

  • 4/ Sefer L’David Shiur cites the Rokeach who notes that Yehoshua Ben Nun repeated Aleinu on his knees in awe and in a loud voice in a tune which makes the heart rejoice. Therefore, a person should have kavanah to sing Aleinu with all of his might to his Creator. [Can this be done at break-neck speed?]
  • .

  • 5/ Sefer L’David Shiur cites the Chida which says to say Aleinu word-by-word [seeming obvious to not slur or mumble-jumble them] because it is a very awesome praise full of very high secrets.
  • .

  • 6/ L’David Shiur also cites the M’Chazik Bracha (Koof, Lamed, Bet) which indicates that there is no other praise to our Creator like Aleinu and that it is higher than all of the praises in the world.

Finally, Rabbi Asher Barach Wegbreit of Yeshivat Birkat HaTorah, wrote in the forward to his sefer, “The Power of Aleinu” (page 23):

I am not aware of any other single prayer that… enables you to fulfill a total of 30 mitzvot d’Oraisa (Torah Commandments). These mitzvot include two of the Ten Commandments, and all of them are fundamental components of our faith and existence as Jewish people. And since reward for the fulfillment of just a single Torah mitzvah is limitless, think what you can accomplish every time you recite aleinu in a proper manner.

It is clear that the general public is not aware of this…, as most of the time they breeze through these holy words while rushing out of shul.

But, yet we have the unmitigated gall to blow through Aleinu and then flee out of Shul three times a day. People don’t seem to realize, or they seem to discount, that Aleinu is an integral part of Our Service — Our individual and collective Divine Service. It’s Our chance to emulate Aaron HaKohen and pray for the world to cleave to Hashem — the Creator of the world and all that is in it..

Shouldn’t B’nai Yisrael always treat Aleinu, and for that matter, all designated tefillot with the same degree of seriousness to which Aaron HaKohen treated his daily service and to which Kohanim and Levi’im throughout our generations treated their respective service, with or without the Beit HaMikdash?? Isn’t it time to turn off the automatic-pilot?

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 Naso 5775: The Nazir, and Lessons of Nazirut for Our Times

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


Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat HaShevua Naso is being sponsored anonymously in Ramat Beit Shemesh in honor of all the teachers and gabbaim in the community who serve the community with honor and dedication. To the anonymous donor, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat Naso 5775: The Nazir, and Lessons of Nazirut for Our Times

by Moshe Burt

This year, for the fourth time in the past six years, our Parshat Naso falls out on the Shabbos following Shavuot.

Among the many laws contained in our Parshat Naso are Halachot concerning the nazir (nazirite). Sefer Shem Mishmuel (a selection of the works written by Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, z’l, the Rebbe of Sochaczev, translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski) describes nazirut, cites poskim of our parsha which describe the three restrictions taken on by one who takes upon himself the vows of a nazir and explains further (pages 312-314):

This person takes upon himself a vow to refrain from certain activities and by doing so achieves, at least temporarily, an exalted spiritual state.

“From wine and strong drink shall he abstain…” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 6, posuk 3)

“All the days of the vow of his abstention no razor may pass over his head… He shall grow the locks of the hair of his head.” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 6, posuk 5)

“All the days of his abstention to Hashem he shall not approach a corpse.” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 6, posuk 6)

The nazir may not cut the hair “on his head.” The head is the seat of brain and the intellect of man…. The nazir allows his intellect to burst forth and manifest itself beyond its usual boundaries.

Abstention from wine leads to greater control over the power of speech. Chazal tell us: “When wine goes in, secrets come out. (Eruvin 65a)

Finally, death represents the failure and demise of the physical world. Avoiding contact with it sanctifies the physical, active component of man.

This Parshat HaSheva will not go into the specific steps that the nazir need take in attaining a nazirite status, nor the steps and korbonot he fulfills at the completion of his nazirut.

One may ask why the laws of nazirut follow immediately after the laws concerning a sotah; regarding a man’s jealousy and/or one whose wife has gone astray committing treachery against him. The Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash translates Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 6, posukim 1 and 2 and explains in commentary on Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 6 (page 759):

“Hashem spoke to Moshe saying, ‘Speak to the B’nei Yisrael and say to them: A man or a woman who shall disassociate himself by taking a Nazirite vow of abstinence for the sake of Hashem…’”

…The sages derive that one who sees a sotah in her state of degradation should prohibit wine to himself by taking a Nazirite vow (Sotah 2a)

This sheds light on the underlying purpose of the Nazirite status and what would prompt one to adopt it. A sotah opted to follow her sensual passions and let her heart overpower her mind, her pursuit of pleasure to overcome her responsibility to Hashem…. Someone who saw her degradation — even her horrible death after she drank the bitter water — could easily be overcome by the fantasies of temptation…. The Nazirite’s abstinence from wine signals… that the adoption of a spiritual life can help close the door to the enticement that doomed the sotah.

The minimum period of Nazirism is thirty days, but a Nazirite who so desires may adopt longer periods. (Nazir 5a)

“Shall disassociate.” The translation follows Rashi and expresses the idea that the Nazirite… seeks to separate himself from the temptations of his environment. Targum renders ["Shall disassociate."] articulate, and, indeed, the Nazirite vow must be spoken clearly. Ebn Ezra offers an alternative translation: who shall do something astounding, for it is truly uncommon for someone to undertake a vow that will cut him off from a physical pleasure that others find enticing…. All of the above [translations] are valid halachically and philosophically.

Rabbi Mordechai Katz notes, in his sefer “L’ilmod U’lamed” on our parsha (pages 134-135):

Unfortunately, the influences of society sometimes make us all too much a part of today’s world. We sometimes adopt secular ways and overlook the high standards expected of us… Then it becomes time to take a lesson from the rite of Nazirut. It is necessary to make an abrupt U-turn and head back in the Torah direction. A major change in lifestyle is helpful in reminding us exactly what our life goals should be. If we break dramatically with alien ways and dedicate ourselves entirely to Hashem, …then we can get ourselves back onto the proper path.

It would seem that the lessons of Nazirut should also not be lost on today’s authority figures in Eretz Yisrael, be it the police, the IDF, bureaucratic and governmental offices and agencies, etc. where far too often personages in positions of authority over others often take prohibitive and corrupt liberties with their underlings, their subordinates thus subjecting them to severe physical and psychological degradations. It is time that such authoritarian figures internalize and take to heart the lessons of nazirut and its place in Torah immediately following the laws of sotah.

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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