Parshat Bamidbar 5776: Diversity Within a Common Goal — Unity of National Purpose in Our Time

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, May 28th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off



Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Bamidbar is being sponsored by Avraham and Miriam Deutsch of Efrat lilui nishmas the Yahrtzeit of Avraham’s Dad, Mordechai ben Avraham Aba whose Yahrtzeit is on Yud Tess Iyar. 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 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 Bamidbar 5776: Diversity Within a Common Goal — Unity of National Purpose in Our Time

by Moshe Burt

Once getting past the numbers crunching of the census, our Parsha speaks of Degalim: the flags of the Sh’vatim (Tribes) and their significance:

“Hashem spoke to Moshe and Aaron saying; ‘The B’nei Yisrael shall encamp, each man by the banner according to the insigniasof their fathers’ household, at a distance surrounding the Tent of Meeting shall they encamp.’” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 2, posukim 1-2)

The degalim represented a paradigm of Unity, yet expressed diversity within the various components of B’nei Yisrael, all of which play essential roles within a collective unity. Within a unity, there is room for integration and cooperation of diverse individual and group attributes, skills, strong points and actions when channeled toward the common goals of Unity, i.e. the common goals of B’nai Yisrael:

“When Hashem revealed himself at Har Sinai, twenty-two myriads of angels came down with him … and all of them were arranged in degalim. Once Israel saw them (the angels) in their degalim, they began to desire to be encamped in degalim. They said, ‘If only we could be made into degalim like them.’ Hashem said to them, ‘Regarding that which you desire — to be degalim — by your lives, I shall fulfill your request.’” Hashem then made the degalim known to B’nai Yisrael and instructed Moshe, “Make degalim for them, as they desired.” (Bamidbar Rabbah 2:3, excerpted from a Parshat HaShevua on Bamidbar by Rebbetzin Smiles.)

Shem Mishmuel (Sefer Shem Mishmuel rendered into English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski, pages 296-298) explains that the B’nai Yisrael sought to emulate the myriads of angels which accompanied Hashem on Har Sinai. And so Hashem granted B’nai Yisrael’s request by providing Degalim and establishing their alignment.

Shem Mishmuel explains further:

Angels are not subject to the vicissitudes of human life and are thus able to enjoy a continuous, high-level relationship with Hashem.

Yisrael admired this greatly and asked Hashem if they could also maintain such a relationship. Even while they toiled in the normal physical activities of day-to-day life, they wanted to remain close to Hashem, without ever allowing the physical nature of their lives to impede or cloud that relationship.

…We may suggest that Klal Yisrael connected to Hashem without the necessity of an intermediary. They felt a longing for a relationship with Hashem that was so close that it could not be satisfied by indirect contact. The angels experienced a direct relationship, and it was this that Klal Yisrael yearned to emulate. In this context, we may interpret the verse:

” … and his degel upon me was love.” (Shir HaShirim 2:4)

This means that the degalim of Klal Yisrael in the wilderness were an expression of deep yearning for love, and closeness to Hashem. Thus the ability to encamp in degalim, emulating the angels, was an opportunity for a profound and unparalleled
relationship between Hashem and the Jewish nation.

Each degel, as Shem Mishmuel quotes a Rashi to explain:

” … will have a colored flag hanging from it. The color of one will not be the color of the other, the color of each was determined by the color of it’s stone in the breastplate [the Urim Tumim worn by the Kohen Godol]. Through this, each will recognize his degel.” (Rashi, Bamidbar, Perek 2, posuk 2)

Shem Mishmuel explains that the degel served on a physical level as a rallying point for the members of a particular group whether during battle to prevent troops from getting lost if scattered, or so that each person knows his Shevet’s communal position.

It would seem that the loshen “his degel” would indicate expressions of love within a context of unity.

The spiritual meaning of the degalim of Klal Yisrael in the wilderness seems to be expression of deep yearning for, love of, and closeness to Hashem. Further, the degel of each individual Shevet (tribe) seems a representation of that Shevet’s unique expression of love and closeness to Hashem within the collective unity and cooperation of Kol B’nai Yisrael, just as was each Shevets’ unique expression of individuality manifested in its dressing of each of the 12 repetitions of the same offering at the inauguration of the Mishkan, within the unity of B’nei Yisrael, as we learn in Parshat Naso.

When Hashem formed the system of formation of the B’nai Yisrael during travel and encampments, the east side of the formation was occupied by Sh’vatim Yehuda, Yissachar, Zevulun. The Yissachar, Zevulun relationship is a paradigm of this cooperation and collective unity. We learn that, unlike the formation of all of the other tribes where Hashem used the conjunction “and”, Yissachar, Zevulun were not preceded by or split by “and.” We see in this relationship between the two tribes the sharing between the wealth of Zevulun’s merchants which provided the basis for the scholarship of Shevet Yissachar. For this reason, Shevet Zevulun is not preceded by the conjunction “and” so as to not accord it secondary status. Torah stresses that the contributions of Zevulun are considered every bit as important as those of Yissachar. (Sefer L’lmode Ul’lamed on Parsha Bamidbar, pages 131-132).

Sh’vatim Yissachar, Zevulun each expressed their individuality, their individual talents toward the fulfillment of a unity of purpose, as did all of the Sh’vatim, both in the dressing of their individual offerings for the Mishkan and via their own individual Shevet’s degel, as part of a unity of mission amongst the B’nai Yisrael in Bamidbar.

Regarding these discussions of unity and diversification within unity, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” cites Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 2, posuk 34 and comments, under the heading “Don’t become involved in a quarrel about seating arrangements”, citing Oznayim LeTorah:

“And the B’nei Yisrael did all that The Almighty Commanded Moshe, that is the way they encamped according to their flags, and that is the way they traveled, each person to his family together with the house of his father.”

What is the greatness of Am Yisrael listening to Moshe in this manner? Why would anyone have thought that they would not have listened? This comes to teach us that they did not quarrel about whose place would be at the head and who would be at the end, who would be at the east and who would be at the west. They accepted the will of The Almighty and did not complain or argue.

Unfortunately, in many places arguments do arise when people are not satisfied with the seating arrangements. (Oznayim LeTorah)

Arguments and complaints about this matter are usually based on arrogance and honor-seeking. If a person has a practical reason for wanting a certain place, his request could be quite reasonable. But if the root of his dissatisfaction is based on honor, he is making a big mistake.

So too, in our time, the individual talents, strong points and the potential of ALL segments, ALL sectors of believing Jews, have to be — must be meshed into cooperation, joint responsibility and unity toward achievement of common goals, no matter what their garb, where they live or what their minhaggim are. These attributes must not be wasted in bickering and contending — each against each other and against all of the others — sector vs sector. These attributes must not be squandered by individually wronging one’s fellow Jews in business, amongst their peers, in merchant/customer transactions or by finding ways to wrong one’s fellow both individually and amongst his peers by way of exploiting Halacha.

The common goals of this unity MUST include, but are not limited to blunting, halting and eliminating, by all possible means, any future expulsions, no matter what term the prevailing government and prime minister might coin to mask or package future expulsions of Jews and future land hand-overs to our enemies on any given day, or whatever tactics and slanders that equivocating, self-hating, self-debasing, surrenderist “leaders” might employ in order to attempt to delude Am Yisrael as to rationale, and to what they say will come after such intentional sins. Remember what Sharon said to a former IDF Chief Rabbi about “forty years of peace” before the expulsion of our brethren of Gush Katif? We, both observant and secular, must succeed in bringing a Medinat Torah to The Land of Israel.

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

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Bechukotai 5776: The Tochochah and the Misguided

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, May 21st, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Bechukotai is being sponsored by Baruch and Tammy Labinsky of Ramat Beit Shemesh lilui nishmas Yitzchak Osher ben Yaakov. To the Labinsky Family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Bechukotai 5776: The Tochochah and the Misguided

by Moshe Burt

Our Parshat Bechukotai, the last parsha in Sefer Vayikra, deals with the Hashem’s enunciation of the blessings and curses of the Tochochah: Hashem’s Admonition of B’nai Yisrael.

Dictionary.com defines “admonition” thus:

noun
1. an act of admonishing.
2. counsel, advice, or caution.
3. a gentle reproof.
4. a warning or reproof given by an eccleslastical authority.

Near the conclusion of the Tochochah, Torah states the following (Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer Vayikra, Perek 26, posukim 40-41, 44-45) :

“They will confess their sin and the sin of their forefathers, for the treachery with which they betrayed Me, and also for having behaved toward Me with casualness. I, too, will behave toward them with casualness and I will bring them into the land of their enemies — perhaps then their unfeeling heart will be humbled and then they will gain appeasement for their sin. …While they are in the land of their enemies, I will not have been revolted by them nor will I have rejected them to obliterate them, to annul my covenant with them — for I am Hashem, their God. I will remember for them the covenant of the ancients, those whom I have taken out of the land of Egypt before the eyes of the nations, to be God unto them — I am Hashem.”

This conclusion of the Tochochah, as enunciated in Torah, seems stated in another way in Tehillim Psalm 81 which has been cited in another Parshat HaShevua in a previous year:

“I am Hashem, your G’d, who elevated you from the land of Egypt, open wide your mouth and I will fill it. But My people did not heed My voice and Israel did not desire me. So I let them follow their heart’s fantasies, they follow their own counsels. If only My people would heed Me, if Israel would walk in My ways. In an instant I would subdue their foes, and against their tormentors turn My hand. Those who hate Hashem lie to Him — so their destiny is eternal. But, He would feed him with the cream of the wheat, and with honey from a rock sate you.”

R’ Zelig Pliskin, in “Growth Through Torah” (page 303) entitles his thoughts on these posukim as “Don’t just confess your sins, actually improve.” With those words, R’ Pliskin seems to encapsulate true Jewish teshuvah as contrasted with the mere periodic cyclical confession (“forgive me father, for I have sinned…”) of another ‘faith”, followed by repetition of the very sin just confessed to.

R’ Pliskin cites the Chofetz Chayim from his sefer “Chofetz Chayim al HaTorah” (“Growth Through Torah”, page 303):

…The Torah teaches us that just confessing one’s wrongdoings without sincerely regretting the wrong one has done and without accepting on oneself to improve in the future is not worth anything. The most important aspect of repentance is to improve oneself from now on. Only positive changes in one’s actual behavior is true repentance.

In reflecting on the cited posukim above and the words of the Chofetz Chayim, as cited by R’ Pliskin, they seem to relate just as much on a communal/national level in rectifying national sins as they do to rectification of an individual’s sins.

It pains this author to feel the need to reiterate certain points in certain parshiyot on an annual basis or more, i.e. that for the nearly eleven years since the Ge’irush — the expulsion of our Jewish brethren from their homes, towns and communal lives in Gush Katif by a former Israeli government, despite the recurrent apologies and expressions of regret from many of our brethren for having defamed their brethren or who stood, or rather sat by — not daring to leave their studies, or to put their jobs or family lives on hold to help and support their brethren, and who went on with their lives — “business as usual” during the very days of the Ge’irush. It seems as if we have yet to hear the slightest contrition from many. And there seems to be an insufficient collective rising up of indignation amongst the collective Am Yisrael against the actions of subsequent Israeli governments regarding their constant threats or actualizations through the years, of further expulsions from parts of Our Eretz Yisrael, i.e. Yehuda, the Shomron (Judea and Samaria), the Jordan Valley, etc., of construction freezes, releases of terrorist killers with Jewish Blood-Stained hands, IDF protocols against murderous Arab terror and more.

But it seems at times that Klal Yisrael tolerates a governance, and political entities both new and old, which don’t learn from their disastrous errors of the past, as well as misguided segments of certain sectors of the Am, all of whom seemingly travel yet further away from the Ways of Hashem and the mission of B’nai Yisrael.

To cite two examples in particular: One being a new political entity, who has invoked separation of religion and state, as bechirot — choice in what this author views as a benign expression pertaining to observance of Shabbos visa vi the “issue” of transportation.

The particular political entity in question has framed discussion of this “issue” in a Q. and A. handout:

What is your position about public transportation on Shabbos?

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

Please note the key phrase at the end:

“…and private companies can fulfill those needs.”

This author must express the principle that the term “private companies” is an oxymoron.

Dictionary.com defines oxymoron as:

Noun. A figure of speech by which a locution produces an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect, as in “cruel kindness” or “to make haste slowly.”.

In other words, the words “private companies” have conflicting meanings. Private, again via Dictionary.com:

Adjective.
Belonging to some particular person: private property.

Pertaining to or affecting a particular person or a small group of persons; individual; personal: for your private satisfaction.

Confined to or intended only for the persons immediately concerned; confidential

Company or Companies indicate an organization which either directly or indirectly deals with the public. In short, there seems no such thing as a “private company.”

Of course, in a “democracy”, in principle no one can force or compell an individual regarding Shabbos observance. But, regarding a company or organization, can one begin to contemplate, to imagine the halachic implicatons and consequences spiritually, economically of Bitul Shabbos, Chillul Hashem on a company level and the opening of pandora’s box?

In a Jewish state, we are defined by our Jewishness and there is no other aspect of Yiddishkeit that so defines a Jew as the keeping of Shabbos, and thus it seems clear to this author that Shabbos, as with no other Halacha or Mitzvah can not be treated benignly or subject to so-called “separation of religion and state.” This author has expressed often in the past that Shabbos is either the embarkation point for coming closer to Hashem, or the disembarkation point distancing one from Hashem.

How do they, we justify a Jewish Sovereignty over Har HaBayit, Ma’arat HaMachpela and all of, or any part of Eretz Yisrael without Shabbos observance? Undoubtedly, this political entity will lose more support than it will gain.

The second example is a reiteration excerpted from Parshat Metzora:

What does this author mean by the latter statement above: “possibly the result of a misguided understanding, for lack of a better word, of certain Halachot regarding interpersonal relations”? During the current period of rampant terrorist attacks; stabbings, shootings, drive-by shootings or stonings all over Israel, a Beit Knesset, Beit Medrash began commemorating the murdered victims of terror with a poster placed at the inner entrance to the Shul containing the names and pictures of both the male and female murder victims and meant to keep the kehillah focused, attentive and caring as to the current situation. One day, shortly before Purim, the poster mysteriously disappeared. When the poster was discovered as missing, the Rabbi, the Gabbai and the individual who took on the poster project all were at a loss as to its disappearance. Fortunately, a copy of the poster has since been restored to its normal visible position.

But why would someone take it upon one’s self, without receiving the proper permissions, to remove this poster or, for that matter, anything posted in the shul for the notice of its members? Was this action — the removal of the poster perhaps symptomatic of a wider malaise needing immediate, serious, consistent, unified Rabbinic attention?

This second example is cited here because during Chol HaMo’ed Pesach, the poster went missing again. And so one could ask, what could one possibly learn which would justify removing a poster dedicated to commemorating, in pictures, the memories of their brethren who were victims of murderous Arab terror?

A commentary in Sefer L’lmode Ul’lamed (page 126) on the Tochochah, the admonishment, the reproof, is explicit as to the punishments that will befall B’nai Yisrael if they violate Hashem’s Torah:

“I (Hashem), will set my face against you and you will be smitten before your enemies. They that hate you will rule over you.” (Parshat Bechukotai, Sefer Vayikra, Perek 26, posuk 17)

The commentary is as follows;

The text implies that included among the enemies will be those from Yisrael, enemies from within. These enemies, say our Rabbanim, are the most vicious of adversaries. Jews who do not accept their Judaism, and who seek to destroy their fellow Jews, are the most dangerous of all. They are traitors against their own kind who know where their fellow men are most vulnerable. (Sefer L’lmode Ul’lamed, Parshat Bechukotai, page 126)

They are Jews who seem to deny their roots and do not accept their Judaism. They put their “emunah” in mortals — in the prowess of man, in themselves and their self- interests and self-enrichment, in the super-power of the time while seeking to destroy their fellow Jews, Jewish roots, laws, history and heritage.

It is tragic that often the worst enemy of the Jewish people, and those most dangerous to the Jews, are the Jews themselves.

Indeed, divisiveness, fractionalization, coercion and polarization have set in amongst the sectors of the people of Israel. And the enemy amongst us, within; weak-willed pseudo-right wing leaders who compromise either their ideological and spiritual principles, or the liberal intelligencia, the leftist, socialist, self-hating, self-deprecating, self-affectionated, self-proclaimed intellectuals — they’re hot to seize on this divisiveness and polarization amongst the various sectors of Am Yisrael as the means to their sinful ends — divide and conquer.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of nearly 1 3/4 years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Behar 5776: The Divine, Eternal Connection Between Shabbos and Our Divinely Bequeathed Legacy to the Land?

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


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Behar is being sponsored by Baruch and Yaffa Swinkin in honor of the wonderful Beit Tefillah Yona Avraham community in Ramat Beit Shemesh. To the Swinkin Family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Behar 5776: The Divine, Eternal Connection Between Shabbos and Our Divinely Bequeathed Legacy to the Land?

by Moshe Burt

As noted in a previous Parshat HaShevua on our Parshat Behar, the opening posukim of the previous three parshiyot read:

“And Hashem spoke to Moshe, after the death of the two sons of Aaron.” (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 16, posuk 1 — Parshat Acharei Mos)

“Hashem spoke to Moshe, Saying: Speak to the entire B’nei Yisrael…” (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 19, posuk 1 — Parshat Kedoshim)

“Hashem said to Moshe: Now declare this to the Kohanim…” (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 21, posuk 1 — Parshat Emor)

In each of these three parshiyot, Hashem speaks to Moshe in order to issue an instruction, be it to Aaron and his surviving sons about who may enter the Kadosh Kedoshim and when, or to the entire B’nei Yisrael to “Be Holy” — to emulate the Holiness of Hashem, or again to Aaron and his sons Elazar and Ithamar and to all of the Kohanim for all time regarding distancing themselves from tumah (impurity).

But in Parshat Behar, Hashem’s Torah adds extra emphasis in our parsha’s opening posukim by taking us back in time to relate what Hashem spoke to Moshe Rabbeinu on Har Sinai; namely the laws of the Shemittah year — the Sabbath year of rest, of restraining from planting and harvesting of crops of Eretz Yisrael for market.

Rashi asks a critical question on the very first posukim of our Parsha:

“Hashem spoke to Moshe on Har Sinai, saying: Speak to the B’nai Yisrael, and say to them: When you come to the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a Shabbat to Hashem.” (Parsha Behar, Vayikra Perek 25, posukim 1 & 2)

Rashi asks why the laws of Shemttiah are singled out as having been given at Sinai. Were not all of the Mitzvot said at Sinai?” He answers that just as all of the Mitzvot; their general rules and their specifics were taught at Sinai, so too were the general rules and specifics regarding Shemittah taught at Sinai. Rashi then reasons that the posuk comes to teach us that every utterance said to Moshe, they were all from Sinai. (Rashi on Parsha Behar, Vayikra Perek 25, posuk 1)

The Hatam Sofer reiterates and expands on Rashi’s explanation, asking;

“Why did the Torah list all of the specific rules of Shemittah rather than doing so with any other commandment? The reason for doing this is because the laws of Shemittah prove that the Torah was given in Shemayim (heaven). Had the Torah been of mortal origin, how could any human promise, ‘I will command My blessing during the sixth year and it will provide produce for three years’? — something which is beyond the realm of the natural, and a way to test whether Torah is genuine.” (Torah Gems, Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, Parsha Behar, page 331)

Rav Shimson Rafael Hirsch, z”l, in the new Hirsch Chumash (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Daniel Haberman), page 877 offers commentary on Shemittah and how it differs from Shabbos:

The prohibition of work on Shabbos relates not only to the primary categories of prohibited work…, but also to their derivatives.

The difference between Sheviyit [the seventh year] and Shabbos hinges on their meaning. Shabbos expresses homage to Hashem as the Creator and King of the Universe. Man subordinates himself — and all of the powers at his disposal to control the world — to Hashem. Hence, all exercise of creative power over matter is considered Melacha [work] which is prohibited on Shabbos…. Sheviyit, on the other hand, expresses homage to Hashem as the Master of the Land of Israel, and for this purpose it suffices to subordinate the land to Hashem’s Rule. A man of Israel remembers that his land belongs to Hashem, and that he is merely a stranger or sojourner…; he then neither works his land nor gathers in its produce to ensure his livelihood… Thus, the soil of the entire country is stamped as ownerless, and for the whole year [it] declares before all that [Am] Yisrael is not the master of its land.

But it seems to this author that both Rashi’s and Hatam Sofer’s answers regarding Shemittah are not mutually exclusive. It would seem that not only is Shemittah HaKadosh Borchu’s vehicle for proving that ALL of Torah was given over on Har Sinai, that it was “a way to test whether Torah is genuine” leaving future disbelievers; such as Israel’s political, academic, judicial elitists and intelligencia who would give the land or any part of it away as just ordinary real estate — hard-pressed to disprove the fact that Torah was given to Moshe from Shemayim. But because they can’t disprove the authenticity of Torah from Shemayim, they’ve therefore created a short-circuit disconnecting our historical truth from their contemporary “reality.”

It seems to this author that the mitzvah of Shemittah, the Shabbat for the land, was given to us in order to connect the Shabbos of B’nai Yisrael with the Shabbos year of the Land of Israel. In this way, it seems obvious to this author that Hashem has inextricably linked the two — the B’nai Yisrael and the Land of Israel — for all time. And in doing so, Hashem serves a reminder upon B’nai Yisrael that, He, our Creator is our ruler and that He is the sole and ultimate owner of Eretz Yisrael.

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin in “Growth Through Torah” (pages 291-292) cites Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz regarding Hashem’s Rulership of the B’nai Yisrael and Ownership of Eretz Yisrael:

Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz cites the Raavad (Introduction to Baalai Nefesh) that a fundamental principle behind the commandments is that: “they are to remind us constantly that we have a Creator who is our Ruler.” The Almighty gave us this earth, but after using the earth for some time, a person can mistakenly think that the earth belongs to him, and can forget that the Almighty is the real owner.

Therefore, in all that we do there are commandments that contain restrictions to show that the Creator is above us. …The Torah stresses… that the commandment to rest on the seventh year applies to the land which the Almighty gave us…. A commandment to refrain from work on the land in the seventh year [is] to help us internalize the awareness that He is the true boss of the earth.

This is also the lesson we learn from the weekly Shabbos… It shows a person that the Almighty is the One who gives him the power to work on the other days of the week…. a weekly reminder that we have a ruler who is our ultimate authority. (Daas Torah, Sefer Vayikra)

But there seems more to Hashem’s equation of Shabbos and Shemittah, i.e. day of rest for the Jews and year of rest for Eretz Yisrael. For there is no Shemittah year among the lands of the nations, just as there is no Shabbos for the peoples of the nations. In connecting Shabbos and Shemittah, it seems absolutely apparent that Hashem is also conveying to us — the observant, Torah world and to all perceptive enough and with sufficient emunah to hear, that Hashem has Divinely and eternally connected, as one, the Jewish people and Eretz Yisrael. There is but one place that Am Yehudi can call home and where a Jew can be complete; with its Divine links going back to Avraham Avinu’s destination on leaving his parental home and Am Yisrael’s destination upon going up from Egypt and emphatically spoken by Hashem to Moshe Rabbeinu at Har Sinai in the opening posukim of our parsha — Eretz Yisrael. All else is but temporary, transient.

For us, the Land of Israel is a one-of-a-kind, exclusive, prime piece of real estate to be loved, embraced, possessed, tended and cared for. We see this precious, beautiful land, from Gush Katif to Chevron to the Banias, as a precious gift from G’d to His special bride, his unique people. We thank Hashem at every opportunity for giving us this glorious land and for the fact that we live here; in Jerusalem, in Hevron, in Tel Aviv, in Haifa, in Beersheva, in Tzfat, in Yehuda, the Shomron, the Golan and, not to mention — in Ramat Beit Shemesh.

But, to harken back to this author’s Pesach vort: Dayenu, today it seems that not only is there the tendency not to aspire further, but to actually give up, to relinquish that already achieved. We see this tendency in the political realm, in our equivocal, indecisive governance and so-called “diplomacy” where we’re afraid to win outright, in academia, in the media, even in the IDF where, sad to say, our soldiers are ordered and compelled to follow so-called “protocols” when dealing with murderers bent on killing Jews, thus risking their lives and the lives of their brethren — all in the name of “world opinion.”

As a testament to the inextricable link between Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael, an item is periodically reported in the media regarding a link between Shemittah, last summer’s Gaza war and a nace which prevented a major attack from a Gaza terror tunnel which could have caused immense casualties. Written by Rabbi Binny Freedman, this report tells:

…A group of ultra-Orthodox residents from Bnei Brak came to a field near the Gaza strip to harvest wheat for Pesach. Every summer they search for wheat ripe enough to harvest in August — when the sun dries the wheat most intensely as part of the process in producing shmura matzah (matzo made from wheat specially guarded against moisture to prevent it from rising and becoming unleavened). The wheat is then stored till its use in baking matzos in the spring.

Since this is a Shemittah (sabbatical) year, they needed to harvest enough for two years’ worth of matzos. At Kibbutz Sufa, right next to the border with Gaza, they found a large field sown in mid-January (apparently a rare occurrence) with 2,000 acres of green wheat — was exactly what they needed.

With Operation Protective Edge’s air campaign under way, they could see the pillars of smoke over Gaza, and the Israeli air force hitting back against the Hamas missile launchers, but were nonetheless able to harvest the wheat and load it onto trucks for the cleaning and storage process in the plant located further north.

Two days later, in what is now a well-documented event, 13 terrorists, armed to the teeth, emerged from a tunnel which led from the Gaza strip and opened into the wheat fields of Kibbutz Sufa. The terrorists had been counting on emerging unnoticed amidst the tall wheat stalks all of which had just been cut down by the Bnei Brak Matzoh bakers. As such, they were immediately spotted by the Israeli army and were prevented from launching what would have been a horrendous terrorist attack intended to hit nearby homes all at once.

It is sad indeed that we suffer a secular, western [im]moral governance which embraces having an armed-to-the-teeth enemy entity on any piece of our land and at our collective doorstep, encarcerates Jews for defending themselves, tortures Jews based on false, trumped-up allegations, which endangers lives of chayalim through dangerous battle protocals and much more. And it is equally sad that there are some amongst the observant, Torah world who would separate from their fellow observant Jews, would coerce and disparage those of their brethren not exactly like them rather than outreaching to them. Our governance, as well of segments of Am Yisrael have not yet internalized the deep spiritual meaning of Hashem having Brought Am Yisrael back to Our Home and having given us tools to facilitate His bringing about our eventual completeness and unity.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of nearly 1 3/4 years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Emor 5776: The Kohanim: Paradigm of Physical and Spiritual Purity, Spiritual Unity, — for Am Yisrael, and All Mankind

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, May 7th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Emor is being sponsored anonymously in honor of the wonderful Beit Tefillah Yona Avraham community in Ramat Beit Shemesh. To our anonymous sponsor, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

Please 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 Emor 5776: The Kohanim: Paradigm of Physical and Spiritual Purity, Spiritual Unity, — for Am Yisrael, and All Mankind

by Moshe Burt

The positioning in Torah of our Parshat Emor, following last week’s Parsha Kedoshim gives rise to thought and contemplation.

In the previous 2 pairings of Parshiyot; Acharei Mos and Kedoshim, and Tazria and Metzora before them, we learn about the Kohen as the only one Divinely invested with ruling as to Tumah or Ta’Hara regarding ones’ skin, hair, clothing or homes, as well as with being the vehicle for the Yom Kippur avodah, on behalf of the nation, in the Kadosh Kedoshim and as the model, the paradigm of the Darchim for the entire B’nai Yisrael to emulate as a model for all mankind.

In Parsha Emor, we learn how the Avodah, the Service of the Kohanim necessitated them “…to maintain an especially high standard of purity and perfection.” (L’lmod L’Lamed, Rabbi Mordechai Katz, Parsha Emor, page 119)

Shem Mishmuel (Sefer Shem Mishmuel, Parsha Emor, pages 273-275) explains the function of the Kohen and the manifestation of his Kedusha in this way:

“The job of the Kohen is to join the physical world to it’s spiritual counterpart.” He performs the Avodah in the Beit HaMikdash, the place where heaven and earth meet. He brings Hashem’s fire upon the Mizbei’ach (altar) in a service which joins the physical earth to Hashem.

It bears repeating here that joining, unifying is the very essence of the Kohen. It’s worth repeating a citing of Rabbi Zelig Pliskin in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” (page 253) regarding Parshat Tazria, where he cites the Rabbi of Alexander who posits as the reason why, when one suspected an affliction, with tzara’as, that he is mandated by Torah, by halacha, to go to a Kohen, rather than to a scholar, a Talmud Chacham:

One of the traits of Aharon was that he did everything he could to make peace between people.

The Sefer relates how Aharon “exaggerated and told untruths in order to bring about peaceful relationships between people.”

Whenever people quarreled, he would tell each side how highly thought of they were to the other. “When someone was told that the other person was speaking positively about him, he automatically felt positive about the other person and this greatly improved their relationship.”

Shem Mishmuel (Sefer Shem Mishmuel, Parsha Emor, pages 273-275) continues by noting that the co-existence of physical and spiritual is broken by the tumah (defilement) associated with death. Therefore, it is inappropriate for a Kohen to come into contact with death as death rips apart the unity of the physical and spiritual. He adds, in the name of the Arizal, that prior to death, a person is attacked by impure forces:

“The holy soul which rests within a person can’t bear to be connected with those forces and departs from the body to alleviate it’s discomfort. This is the moment of death. The tumah induces a split between the body and soul which is totally opposite of the Kohen’s role as a unifier or ‘joiner.’”

We learn that it is for these reasons that the Kohen is held to a higher level of behavior, morality and spiritual purity than the rest of the Jewish people. This higher level reflects itself in restrictions, such as to the Kohen’s exposure to tumah (impurity), i.e. the immediate relatives (wife, offspring, siblings and parents, or an unattended Jewish corpse) being the only ones for which the Kohen’s priestly responsibility is superseded by responsibility as a family member or human being to care for the burial of the deceased. This same higher level is reflected in restrictions as to whom the Kohan is permitted to marry, i.e. divorced women, women who converted to Judaism, women of Jewish mother/gentile father and women with the status of Chalutza (widowed woman who bore no offspring to their now-deceased husband) are all denied halachically to the Kohen. The Kohen Godol also has the further restriction that he may only wed a virgin.

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” on our Parsha (pages 283-284), brings a posuk, cites Rashi and comments regarding the Kohen as a paradigm of “The good you do should be complete”, also citing Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz (Daas Torah: Vayikra, page 210):

“And they shall observe My Charge, and they shall not bear sin for it.” (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 22, posuk 9)

Rashi explains that this verse is a warning to the priests not to eat trumah while they are in a state of tumah.

Even though eating trumah is the fulfillment of a mitzvah for priests, they must be very careful not to do so in a manner that will transform the potential good into a transgression. Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz commented that we see here an important principle: even when a person is involved in doing the Almighty’s service, he must be very careful that no transgressions should come from it. On a practical level, whenever [one is] engaged in doing a good deed or involved in a worthwhile project, be on guard that the good [done] is complete and does not include any transgressions.

It seems that this is to say, the good, the kindness should be untainted, with total pureness of heart and mind with no ulterior motives, i.e. without lust for kavod, credit or notoriety.

If the B’nai Yisrael were to only glean from the Kohen, to glean from paradigms of the righteous: constancy of service, kindness, humility, efficiency, the total honesty so as to elicit the implicit trust of others — whether or not they happen to be frum, or to what degree of frumkiet, and apply a higher level of morality and the unity of loving kindness to our brethren, as to ourselves; with Hashem’s help equivocal, corrupt governance in Israel would cease to exist, would be turned upside down and replaced by Torah governance. And then, B’ezrat Hashem, we’ll be zocha to fulfill our assigned mission, to serve as a light, a model to the nations of Hashem’s blueprint for creation and how a G’dly Nation acts on Its Land.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of nearly 1 3/4 years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Kedoshim 5776: Carrying Out Hashem’s Command — Following the Kohen’s Paradigm of Unity and Ahavat Yisrael

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


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Kedoshim is being sponsored by David and Julie Morris and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh Lilui Nishmas for the Yahrtzeit of Julie’s Mother Shulamit Devorah bat Rav Shimshon Raphael z”l. To the Morris family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Kedoshim 5776: Carrying Out Hashem’s Command — Following the Kohen’s Paradigm of Unity and Ahavat Yisrael

by Moshe Burt

Parshat Kedoshim, which in a regular year (with one Chodesh Adar) is leyned together with Parshat Acharei Mos, is read on its own in this year of two Adars.
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One of the main themes underlying Parsha Kedoshim is the loving care with which each Jew l’chatchila is to treat his Jewish brother. Indeed, we see that the first posuk of our Parsha conveys that spirit:

“Hashem spoke to Moshe saying, “Speak to the entire assembly of B’nai Yisrael and say to them: You shall be holy, for holy am I, Hashem, your G’d.” (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 19, posuk 1)

Torah then goes on to enumerate the Asseret HaDivrot, the Ten Commandments in depth.

But the spirit of our Parsha is best expressed by the principle taught by Rabbi Hillel to the convert, on one foot, that the entire Torah can be summed up with this one key concept — “V’ohavtoh L’rei’achoh Komochoh” — “… you shall love your fellow as yourself…” (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 19, posuk 18); to want for your fellow Jew what you would want for yourself, to not do to your fellow Jew what you would not want to happen to youself.

Sadly, in our times, V’ohavta L’rei’acha Komochah, more often than not, is lacking amongst B’nai Yisrael, supplanted by “Me”, “Mine”,“my convenience”, “Me first”. One might add to this list mindsets representative of disunity, division, senseless hatred, i.e. “my group and to heck with yours and, since You omitted us from your ruling coalition and now seek to integrate us into the national social/economic structure, to heck with the Land — we’ll vote with the left.” And the government, in its indecisiveness and equivocation regarding our Divine right to sovereignty in OUR Eretz Yisrael, seems to have omitted loving one’s fellow Jew as one’s self from its lexicon and mindset. This author has recounted various and myriad examples in previous Parsha vorts and won’t repeat them, yet again, here.

This author found these comments from R’ Shimson Rafael Hirsch z’l in the new Hirsch Chumash (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Daniel Haberman) regarding Nadav and Avihu and their unauthorized fire service:

From the very wording of scripture [Sefer Vayikra, Perek 10, posuk 1] we learned that Aaron’s sons behaved arrogantly…. They… did not consult with their father before acting. Or precisely because they were sons of Aaron they felt that they were under no obligation to seek advice from anyone else…. Perhaps they had an exaggerated sense of self-worth, and so relied on their own reasoning…. Each of them acted solely on their own initiative. They did not even consult with each other.

…Their intention [Nadav and Avihu] was praiseworthy, for even after their sin they were called [close ones, those near]…. The fact is, however, that when the entire nation was privileged to witness a revelation of Hashem’s closeness, Nadav and Avihu felt the need to make a separate offering of their own. This shows that they were not moved by the true spirit of the priesthood. For in Judaism the priests are completely identified with the nation. They have no standing in their own right. The whole essence of the Kohanim [the priesthood] is that they stand in the midst of the people, and this accounts for their standing before Hashem.

…In their very “drawing near,” Nadav and Avihu were at fault. Their offering per se was illegal in every respect.

One who brings an offering seeks… closeness to Hashem, but this can be attained through obedience to Hashem and acceptance of His Commandments. This is precisely the point which separates Judaism from paganism. The pagan, through his offering, seeks to make his deity subserviant to his will, while the Jew, through his offering, places himself in the service of Hashem and accepts upon himself the yoke of His Commandments… Offerings of one’s own devising would… glorify personal caprice instead of obedience to Hashem and acceptance of His Commandments.

Now we understand the death of Aaron’s sons. Their death at the… first dedication of the Sanctuary is a warning to all future Kohanim. It bars all arbitrariness, all personal caprice, from the… Sanctuary, whose whole purpose is to be a Sanctuary for the Torah! In Judaism the priest’s function is not to introduce innovations in the service, but to carry out Hashem’s Command.

This last sentence of our cited comments from R’ Hirsch z’l seems to deliver a paradigm message not only to the Kohanim, and pertinent in our times:

In Judaism the priest’s function is not to introduce innovations in the service, but to carry out Hashem’s Command.

The Kohen’s function; carrying out Hashem’s commands is butressed by his innate attribute of bringing about unity amongst B’nei Yisrael.

If certain sectors of observant Jewry anoint themselves as “closest to Hashem” than any other sector, then by dint of their own self-designation, are they not thus compelled to themselves meet a higher, more elevated, Kohanic-like paradigm? Are they not to be held to a standard related to by R’ Zelig Pliskin in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” (Parsha Kedoshim, page 274), i.e., “Only rebuke others with a sincere concern for their welfare”? Are they not to held to a standard of chinuch, of outreach toward other Jews rather than the disdain and insult of sinat chinom (causeless hatred)? Are these self-designated self-anointed, in truth, perhaps of mindset of unknowingly emulating the arrogance of Nadav and Avihu in standing apart from, rather than amidst the nation?

R’ Zelig Pliskin in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” (Parsha Kedoshim, page 274) cites Rabbi Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler from his sefer Michtav MaiEliyahu (Volume 3, page 139):

When someone tries to criticize or rebuke another person, it is obligatory for those words to come from the depths of his heart. The Sages have said that only those words that come from the heart will enter the heart of the other person. Therefore, if… words of correction are not an expression of …[one's] inner feelings of care and concern for the welfare of the other person, they will not have a positive influence on the person… But there is another aspect here. If… rebuke does not come from a sincere caring for the other person, then… [there are] personal reasons for that rebuke and… [one's] motives are not entirely pure. If that is the case, you are guilty of slighting the honor of another person and of causing him pain with words for… personal pleasure. This is a very serious offense.

Don’t we learn from Torah’s account of the offerings upon the inauguration of the Mishkan, and from designation of the individual degalim (flags) designated for each shavet (tribe) that diversity and intent within halachic confines is encouraged?

If the various sectors of B’nei Yisrael were to only glean from the example of the Kohen, and apply the unity of loving kindness to our brethren — both individually and on local and national levels, as to ourselves, the Bibis, the Bennetts, the Livnis, the Lapids, Olmerts, Baraks, Ramons, etc. — who seize on divisiveness and polarization to divide and conquer — would eventually cease to exist. And then we’ll zocha to fulfill our assigned mission, to serve as a light, a model to the nations of Hashem’s blueprint for creation.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of nearly 1 3/4 years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Acharei Mos 5776: The Importance of Seeking Clarity

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


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Acharei Mos is dedicated Lilui Nishmas for My Mother: Chaya bat Zalman who was niferet on 22 Nissan 5775.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Acharei Mos 5776: The Importance of Seeking Clarity

by Moshe Burt

Parshiyot Acharei Mos and Kedoshim are normally what baseball fans refer to as another of the “doubleheader” parshiyot. But this is one of those years of both Adar A (Alef) and Adar B (Bet), so the parshiyot each have their own Shabbos and leyning.

Just as Parshiyot Tazria and Metzora are extensions of each other, visa vi Tumah and Ta’Hara regarding post-birth, regarding skin, hair, clothing or regarding one’s home or building; Acharei Mos and Kedoshim are extensions of each other regarding Kohanim, Yom Kippur, the Kohen’s Yom Kippur avodah in the Kodosh Kedoshim and the Kohanic model of Darchim, which ideally the entire B’nai Yisrael would embrace and exhibit as a paradigm, as model, as a light for all mankind.

Our Parshat opens with Torah describing the service of the Kohen Godol on Yom Kippur:

“Hashem spoke to Moshe after the deaths of Aaron’s two sons, when they approached before Hashem and they died. And Hashem said to Moshe; Speak to Aaron, your brother — he shall not come at all times into the Sanctuary, within the curtain, in front of the Cover that is upon the Aron[HaKodesh] so that he should not die… With this shall Aaron come to into the Sanctuary…” (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 16, posukim 1-3 as rendered to English in the Artscroll Stone Chumash)

Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein z”l, the Sochaczever Rebbe, comments on Sefer Vayikra, Perek 16, posukim 1-3 in his sefer “Shem Mishmuel” (Rendered into English by Rabi Zvi Belovski, page 257):

The verses continue by detailing all of the procedures that the Kohen Godol must execute on that great day. The surprising thing is the verses give us no indication as to which day they are referring. Rashi tells us:

“With this” — even this cannot be done on any day except for Yom Kippur, as it is explicit at the end of the [Perek]: “…In the seventh month, on the tenth day…” (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 16, posuk 29)

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” (pages 266-267) cites Rashi regarding the opening posuk of our Parsha; “Hashem spoke to Moshe after the deaths of Aaron’s two sons” in explaining the effectiveness of not merely citing a fact, but providing examples to illustrate the fact cited:

Rashi cites… Rabbi Eliezer ben Azariya… [about] an ill person who is visited by a physician. The doctor said to him, “Do not eat such and such foods, and do not sleep in a damp place.” Then another physician came to him and said, “Do not eat such and such foods, and do not sleep in a damp place in order that you should not die like this certain person.” The second doctor will have a much stronger effect than the first doctor. Therefore, Torah emphasizes that Hashem spoke to Moshe after the death of the two sons of Aaron.

From this Rashi we see an important lesson lesson in how to make… communications more effective. It is not sufficient to convey to others abstract… and general warnings. Rather, we must add practical illustrations…

Dictionary.com provides the following synonym for “illustration”:

The act of clarifying or explaining; elucidation.

This attribute of providing illustrations and examples, of providing clarity regarding facts or issues applies to more than only behaviors, as described in a full reading of the cited pages of R’ Pliskin’s “Growth Through Torah.” And mere so-called “facts” alone, conveyed through unknowing, jaundiced or prejudicial words can be wrong or inaccurate. Seeking clarity is a particular theme for me at the first Yarhtzeit of my Mother: Chaya bat Zalman, she should have an Aliyah in Shemayim.

Clarity played an important part at points in my Mother’s life. To cite relevant excerpts from my hespid:

Mere days after my parents’ wedding, while on their honeymoon, their hotel burned to the ground — my Father’s life saved due to the advent of penicillin which in 1945 was administered only to US military personnel. Nine months later, my Mother gave birth to a daughter destined to pass away at two years due to the genetic disorder – Tay Sachs which, at that time, was unknown to, and confounded American doctors. It was only once she took the daughter to a doctor in Montreal, that she received clarity, that the child was diagnosed as having Tay Sachs. B’H, later in life, when much attention was focused on areas of genetic research, I was tested and found not to be a carrier of the gene.

In my early childhood years, we lived in a North Philly post-World War 2 community. We lived at 10th and Butler St., a corner house with a store front — my parents together operated a Mom ‘n Pop grocery store for about 6 years. As an only child who was shy, introverted; attending a public school, I was a child written off by a cruel, arrogant first grade teacher as being backward, retarded, seen as never amounting to anything. My Mother was one who fought for her child’s future by having me tested numerous times and by being active in that school’s PTA for as long as we lived in that community — again clarity.

And finally, in September and early October, 2015 some seven months before my Mother’s passing, she was seriously ill, and it was thought that the end was near. A head nurse in intensive care in a Florida hospital was telling the family that she needed a procedure in order to get nutrition, despite the fact that one of the other nurses informed us that my Mother had passed certain tests which never made it to her medical record. My Mother rallied miraculously giving us more time with her, thanks to Hashem’s kindness in giving us great counsel; by way of the gentleman handling my Parents’ affairs, the medical personnel at my Parents’ assisted living facility, Rabbi Dr. Maurice Lamm Founder, President of the National Institute of Jewish Hospice and the Hospice organization which provided care for my Mother in my Parents’ apartment during her final months — yet again, clarity.

I hearken back to Aaron’s question which brought clarity, after Moshe’s chiding of he and Elazar and Ithamar, regarding their not having eaten of the he-goat of the sin-offering after the deaths of Nadav and Avihu due to their unauthorized service.

“Aaron spoke to Moshe; ‘… Now that such things befell me — were I to eat this day’s sin-offering, would Hashem approve?’ Moshe heard and he approved. (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 10, posukim 19-20, translation rendered in the Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash, page 597)

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of nearly 1 3/4 years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Dayenu 5776: Striving for Improvement, Rather than Staying “Status Quo”

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


Shalom Friends;

Our Pesach vort is being sponsored by Avraham and Miriam Deutsch and family of Efrat who make a special dedication for the welfare of our chayalim! To the Deutsch family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Dayenu 5776: Striving for Improvement, Rather than Staying “Status Quo”

by Moshe Burt

This year will mark twenty-one years, and my eighteenth Pesach in Eretz Yisrael, in which I have emailed the rendition of Dayenu quoted from the book “Dear Brothers” by former Arutz Sheva columnist Haggai Segal, as it has become tradition with me from prior to my Aliyah.

Each year, this author tries to touch on factors, insights and lessons, learned or needing relearning, which affect the state of B’nai Yisrael — right here and right now.

As we approach Pesach 5776, it seems to this author that this quoted rendition of “Dayenu” is as vital now as it was in the first year that I emailed this vort out or, for that matter, as vital as when it was quoted in Segal’s compilation of the book in its copyright year 1988.

In the Book “Dear Brothers”, the story is told how Pesach 5738 (1968) was approaching when the first group of Pioneers endeavored to establish themselves in Chevron. Among this group were Rabbis Haim Druckman, Eliezer Waldman, Moshe Levinger, Shlomo Aviner and others.

We pick up the story as the participants, “Sixty people sat down to that historical first Seder…” in Chevron:

“Another participant was the author Moshe Shamir, formerly affiliated with the leftist Hashomer Hatzair (the Young Guard). As he did with each of the celebrants during the Seder, Rabbi Druckman asked Shamir to make some comments appropriate to the festival. The others braced themselves for the minor unpleasantness that was sure to result…”

But at every Seder since then; other guests have repeated the Drosh that Moshe Shamir delivered that first Passover Seder in Chevron and so I try to give it over each year to my friends and relatives on Pesach via the Internet and at the Seder:

“The fourteen verses in the song Dayenu (It would have sufficed) have drawn the attention of the commentators throughout the ages.

Why should we imply that we could forgo even one of the gifts given to us by Hashem three thousand years ago? How would we have gotten along at all without every one of them? The truth is that this part of the Haggadah has only one aim: to teach us how each and every generation of Jews tends to settle for the achievements of the past, to settle for what its forefathers had accomplished — and to rest on its laurels, with no aspiration for anything not achieved thus far. We, too, right here have that same tendency to say Dayenu — ‘It would have sufficed for us.’ The State of Israel? Dayenu. Unified Jerusalem and liberated Hebron? Dayenu. Wasn’t it just last year at the Seder [before the 6-day War -- MB] that we said, ‘If Hashem had given us Israel but had not given us Jerusalem and Hebron — dayenu? That’s why we’ve got to know that we’ll be facing many more ‘dayenus’ until we reach full redemption.”

The book recounts that Rabbi Druckman stood up and kissed Shamir’s forehead.

In his vort at that first Pesach Seder in Hevron, Moshe Shamir spoke about generations of Jews settling for what was and is, rather than aspiring to achieve further and seizing opportunities to fulfill these further aspirations. But today, it seems that not only is there the tendency not to aspire further, but to actually give up, to relinquish that already achieved. We see this tendency in the political realm, in our equivocal, indecisive governance and so-called “diplomacy” where we’re afraid to win outright, in academia, in the media, even in the IDF where, sad to say, our soldiers are ordered and compelled to follow so-called “protocols” when dealing with murderers bent on killing Jews, thus risking their lives and the lives of their brethren — all in the name of “world opinion.”

In the Sefer “Inspiration and Insights”, Discourses on the Holidays and Other Themes, by the Manchester Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Yehudah Zev Segal z”l, Rav Segal notes that Parshat Beshalach begins (page 43):

“It happened when Pharaoh sent out the people that Hashem did not lead them by way of the land of the P’lishtim (Philistines) because it was near, for Hashem said: ‘Perhaps the people will have a change of heart when they see war, and they will return to Egypt.’ So Hashem turned the people toward the way of the wilderness, to the Sea of Reeds.” Sefer Sh’mos, Perek 13, posukim 17-18)

Rav Segal then comments (page 43);

The most direct route there [to Eretz Yisrael] was through the land of the P’lishtim. But that apparent advantage was the very reason why Hashem did not lead them that way. Had the journey been direct, the people would have been tempted to return to the servitude of Mitzrayim when attacked by hostile nations along the way.

Could a direct route back to the land of slavery and persecution really be too great a test to overcome? The Ribono shel Olam, Who sees into the heart of every man, knew that it might. Indeed, as Rashi notes, a call to return to Mitzrayim was voiced even after the circuitous path had been taken. (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 14, posuk 4) Hashem would not place the Jews in a situation where the enticements of their yetzer hara (evil inclination) might be to much for them to withstand.

Therefore, just as the Jews in Bamidbar had to confront and fight off their yetzer hara, it seems that today some segments of Am Yisrael, both secular and religious, as well as prospective governing alternatives manifest suffering from that same yetzer hara. We suffer the same danger, as our brethren who left Egypt, of capitulating to it and thus surrendering the Jewish soul and endangering our Jewish lives and sovereignty in, and over the Land of Israel.

A commentary in the Artscroll Pesach Haggadah (page 137) cites the Malbim and speaks about Dayenu in this way;

“…The bondage of our forefathers was two-fold — physical and spiritual — and so was their redemption. The physical bondage came to an end on Pesach night, but the spiritual redemption reached it’s climax only with the building of the Temple and Hashem’s self-revelation in his sanctuary.”

“Every step on the road to this ultimate goal was a further act of Divine kindness to us, a further revelation of Hashem’s majesty. That’s why we give thanks for each …favor (MB; kindness) bestowed upon us. For every single step, we say Dayenu — it would have sufficed by itself to give our thanks (attributed to Malbim).”

This does not mean that any one step would have sufficed by itself to bring us to our goal. It does mean, however, that each of the happenings of Yetziyat Mitzrayim, Giving of Torah at Har Sinai, the travels through Bamidbar, entry of the Jewish People into Eretz Yisrael through to the building of the Beit HaMikdash “represented a new remarkable miracle — …that Hashem need not have performed these miracles if he had not seen a particular purpose for each.”

Dayenu seems to deliver a message of striving for the building, maintaining and increasing Jewish self-esteem and recognition of the great chessed that Hashem has done for us with every gift that He has given to the Jewish people from Yetziyat Mitzrayim until now. It seems also to mean striving to justify Hashem’s chessed inherent in the gifts yet to come — B’Ezrat Hashem; Moshiach, Ge’ula Shlaima, Torah leadership and governance, and an end to the current indecisive and often cruel, brutal, heartless, totalitarian, dictatorial governance of Memshelet Yisrael.

What is the spiritual road leading to Jewish self-esteem?? It seems travelled by way of our kavanah (intent) and ratzon (desire) in our tefillos, our Avodat Hashem and common decency toward our fellow Jews — V’ahavtah L’rei’cha Komocha as existed amongst B’nai Yisrael even in the depths of Mitzri enslavement. Jewish self-esteem also seems indicative of the strength of our convictions regarding Emunah in Hashem and of striving for the perceived “unachievable”; both inward and outward expressions and manifestations of limitless love for our fellow Jew and for our Holy Land. It also seems to mean breaking out, for some, of their contemporary mold of coercion and dependency, and a mutual recognition and respect for diversity within the realm of halachic observant Jewry.

As writer Moshe Shamir said years ago in his little Pesach vort;

“That’s why we’ve got to know that we’ll be facing many more ‘dayenus’ until we reach full redemption.”

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of nearly 1 3/4 years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos, Good Yom Tov! Chag Kosher V’Some’ach and, remember: BE THERE at the Pesach Seder!
_______________________________________

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 Metzora 5776: Tzaraas of a House or, Of an Am?

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


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Metzora is being sponsored by Dr. Dov and Debbie Rosen and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh of the Bar Mitzvah of their son Eli . 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 Metzora 5776: Tzaraas of a House or, Of an Am?

by Moshe Burt

In most years, our Parsha Metzora is normally the twilight side of a Torah doubleheader parsha. But this is one of those Adar Bet years where these two inter-related Parshiyot each stand on their own.

To quickly review, the term “metzora” as expressed by R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, in the new Hirsch Chumash (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Daniel Haberman):

Metzora, … Motziya rah [transliteration of the 2 words which form Metzora], a slander.

We learned last week in Parshat Tazria that unity, between individual Jews, as well as on a national level, was role of the Kohen (Priest), whose very essence and “inherent trait throughout the generations” has been unity. (Rabbi Zelig Pliskin in “Growth Through Torah”, page 253 citing the Rabbi of Alexander)

Bearing in mind this inherent trait which, l’chatchila, permeates the Kohen, our Parsha opens with two seemingly contradictory instructions given by Hashem to Moshe (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 14, posukim 2-3):

“This shall be the law of the metzora on the day of his purification; He shall be brought to the Kohen. The Kohen shall go forth to the outside of the camp; the Kohen shall look, and behold! — the tzaraas affliction had been healed from the metzora.”

Basically, in posuk 2, we are informed that upon the metzora’s teshuvah, i.e. “…the change [which] takes place within his mind and heart” (Artscroll Stone Chumash commentary citing R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z’l on Sefer Vayikra, Perek 14, posuk 2) during his solitary dwelling outside the camp, that “…Hashem Who afflicted him will remove the mark [the nega'im -- the affliction] of his degradation and he can begin the process of return.” (ibid)

While the metzora is seemingly healed, the Kohen has the final call as to whether the afflicted has healed, has indeed purified himself. Only once the metzora is deemed as purified, can he re-enter the camp.

Later in our Parshat, we learn:

“Hashem spoke to Moshe and Aaron, saying: When you arrive in the land of Canaan that I give you as a possession, and I will place a tzaraas affliction upon a house in the land of your possession: the one to whom the house belongs shall come and declare tio the Kohen, saying: Something like an affliction has appeared to me in the house.” (As rendered in the Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash, Sefer Vayikra, Perek 14, posukim 33-35)

Torah then lists the steps which the Kohen takes; to clear the house of furniture and belongings, lest they become contaminated, to ascertain the extent of the affliction, to have the afflicted stones removed if applicable and the mortar scraped and removed from the affected house and the replacement of any contaminated stones and the mortar so as to hopefully eradicate the affliction.

But what if the entire Am Yisrael suffers as a result of afflictions within segments of various sectors? What if an entire governance is so afflicted by virtue of equivocal actions taken against murderous enemy terror, or military protocols against terrorists which put Jewish lives at risk? What if the affliction is the result of sinat chinom, causeless hatred of governance or between segments of various sectors: i.e. against lovers of Eretz Yisrael who are systematically framed, “administratively detained”, tortured physically and mentally during police interrogations, etc., or possibly the result of a misguided understanding, for lack of a better word, of certain Halachot regarding interpersonal relations?

What does this author mean by the latter statement above: “possibly the result of a misguided understanding, for lack of a better word, of certain Halachot regarding interpersonal relations”? During the current period of rampant terrorist attacks; stabbings, shootings, drive-by shootings or stonings all over Israel, a Beit Knesset, Beit Medrash began commemorating the murdered victims of terror with a poster placed at the inner entrance to the Shul containing the names and pictures of both the male and female murder victims and meant to keep the kehillah focused, attentive and caring as to the current situation. One day, shortly before Purim, the poster mysteriously disappeared. When the poster was discovered as missing, the Rabbi, the Gabbai and the individual who took on the poster project all were at a loss as to its disappearance. Fortunately, a copy of the poster has since been restored to its normal visible position.

But why would someone take it upon one’s self, without receiving the proper permissions, to remove this poster or, for that matter, anything posted in the shul for the notice of its members? Was this action — the removal of the poster perhaps symptomatic of a wider malaise needing immediate, serious, consistent, unified Rabbinic attention?

In our times, as we learn these two related Parshiyot; Tazria and Metzora, we lack our Beit Hamikdash, our Kohen Godol and the entire Metzora process as a means of teshuva for one, or those suffering a degraded spiritual condition. But we do possess the Torah principles regarding our parshiyot and teshuva.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of nearly 1 3/4 years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Tazria 5776: Man, Animal and Their Sequence in Torah; Today’s Context?

Filed under: News Reports on Saturday, April 2nd, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Tazria is being sponsored by Ayton & Ayelet Lefkowitz and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh to honor the memory of Ayton’s grandmothers: Chana Michla bas Zeev Yitzchak and Miriam bas Avraham, both of blessed memory. To the Lefkowitz family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Tazria 5776: Man, Animal and Their Sequence in Torah; Today’s Context?

by Moshe Burt

The opening posukim of Parshat Tazria state:

“Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying: When a woman conceives and gives birth to a male, she shall be contaminated for a seven-day period, as during the days of her separation infirmity [menstruation] shall she be….” (Translation rendered by the Stone Edition Artscroll Chumash, Sefer Vayikra, Perek 12, posukim 1-3)

Rabbi Artscroll (the Stone Edition Artscroll Chumash, page 608) introduces Parshat Tazria by citing Ibn Ezra:

After the laws of tumah that results from dead animals, the Torah turns to the tumah that emanates from human beings. The first subject… is that of a woman who gives birth, because that is the beginning of life and therefore the start of the tumah process.

Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein z”l, the Sochaczever Rebbe, cites Rashi on Sefer Vayikra, Perek 12, posuk 1 and writes on our Parshat Tazria in his sefer “Shem Mishmuel” (Rendered into English by Rabi Zvi Belovski, pages 241-243):

Rabbi Simlai said, “Just as the creation of man came after all of the animals, beasts, birds in the creation story, so too, His laws are recorded after those of the animals, beasts and birds.”

[Shem Mishmuel asks] …How can it be true that the laws pertaining to man were saved until now? The whole Torah deals with the human situation; …human issues, and all of the sections described by Rashi actually deal with means of atonement for man’s sins. There are no laws of animals, beasts and birds as such, for everything is for man.

Let us consider the following midrash:

“You have fashioned me after and before…” (Tehillim Perek 139, posuk 5) — after the creation of the sixth day, and before all of the creation of the first day… If man is worthy, we may say to him, “Your creation preceded even that of the ministering angels [melachim].” If he is not worthy, we may say to him, “A fly preceded you, a gnat preceded you, and this worm preceded you.” (Vayikra Rabbah, Perek 14, posuk 1)

Shem Mishmuel’s take on man and creation is jaw-dropping and profound. He writes further (ibid):

The first was before everything — refers to the Divine soul of man. The second was the last of everything (we find mentioned in the verses of Parshat Breish’t), referring to the body of man. The midrash is telling us that if we make our bodies subordinate to our souls — if we consider our lives primarily for spiritual growth — then we may be proud that we were the first to be created. If, …we make our souls subordinate to our bodies, considering our lives as merely opportunities for physical gratification, then we will… have to admit that even the lowly insects were created before us…. If… we fail to appreciate the purpose of our lives, even the… insect world will realize their potential better than we.

It would seem that the midrash, as well as citings from Parshat Breish’t, both indicate that the Jewish neshama (soul) was created before the universe and all of its aspects. But Torah does not explicitly record, either first or last, Hashem’s fashioning of the Jewish neshama, even as the midrash and its Tehillim citing indicate. Torah does record in Parshat Briesh’t that after creating the universe and all of its aspects, including the animals, beasts, birds, flies, worms and gnats:

“And Hashem said, ‘Let us Make Man in Our image, after our likeness…’ So Hashem Created Man in His image, in the image of Hashem He Created him; male and female He created them.” (Sefer Briesh’t, Perek 1, posukim 26-27)

“….Hashem G’d had not sent rain upon the earth and there was no man to work the soil. A mist ascended from the earth and watered the whole surface of the soil. And Hashem G’d formed the man of dust from the ground, and He Blew into his nostrils the soul of life; and man became a living being.” (Sefer Briesh’t, Perek 2, posukim 5-7)

These posukim, taken together with midrash and its citing of the Tehillim Perek, as well as learned concepts that all of creation was Made for man, for Am Yehudi, indicate strongly to this author that the Creation of the Jewish neshama preceded all other creation.

Shem Mishmuel writes further (ibid):

We may suggest that the order of events mentioned in this midrash are reflected by the sequence of the laws presented by the Torah. As man’s spiritual component was created before anything else, the laws pertaining to his soul were recorded first. Indeed, up to this point in Torah, we have a succession of laws directed at the spiritual development of the Jew in all spheres of activity. Even the animal offerings… from the beginning of Vayikra are intended to provide atonement for the errant soul and to ensure that, even after having strayed, it [the soul] can continue on its G’d-given mission.

…Why two separate creations were deemed necessary for man[?] Why did Hashem not create man’s body and soul in one act?

…This [may] reflect the changes of mood which affect all of us. On some occasions, we feel expansive, in touch with the Divine and intellectually and emotionally comfortable with our role as servants of Hashem. At other times, we feel estranged from Hashem and confused about our spiritual aims. At root, this mirrors the state of the soul relative to the body. When our spiritual powers assert themselves, we feel in contact with Hashem; when our physical powers rule, we seem distanced from Him.

….It is indeed a great gift from Hashem that we have the built-in ability to correct ourselves, for we can be sure that even when estrangement occurs, closeness to Hashem will surely follow.

But, in our contemporary context on a national level, this built-in ability or mechanism borne of “after and before” to collectively correct ourselves, and to truly bring ourselves close to Hashem has been grossly under-utilized, or has not manifested itself. One might follow-up by asking what the moral of this is for the Jewish people in our contemporary times.

We learn in Parshat Tazria that unity, between individual Jews, as well as on a national level, was role of the Kohen (Priest), whose very essence and “inherent trait throughout the generations” has been unity. (Rabbi Zelig Pliskin in “Growth Through Torah”, page 253 citing the Rabbi of Alexander).

The contemporary Jewish State, largely unified, fought 3 wars, in 1948, 1956 and in 1967 winning each one convincingly, particularly 1956 and 1967 when they won overwhelmingly and completely. To recollect and understand how complete Six Day War victory was is to recall reports of relative hands full of Israel soldiers chasing hundreds or thousands of Arabs in confirmation of biblical prophesy, the Arab windows draped in white sheets of surrender pleading for their lives and thousands of Egyptian combat boots found in Sinai when Arab soldiers shed them in order to run, for their lives faster, from the on-charging IDF.

But now there is such a level of divisiveness and discord among the various sectors of Am Yisrael that we stand against each other rather than united with our aggrieved brethren who are persecuted, prosecuted and falsely administratively detained for their love of and expressing possession of OUR Eretz Yisrael.

These young Jews remain under administrative detention, having been mentally and physically tortured due to alleged, unproven “complicity” in an arson attack in an Arab town which could easily been the result of feuding Arab clans. The IDF Chief of Staff has taken issue with the Torah adage: “When your enemy comes to kill you, kill him first” and, with others in Israel’s secular governance. has portrayed Observant Jews as evil, for our spirituality and emunah in Hashem, for no reason other than for their jealousy of the loss of their lock on all power in Israel. The IDF Chief Rabbinate has been undermined by the IDF Chief of Staff such that religious Jews with beards are being ordered to remove them, despite fierce opposition by Rabbanim of all segments of Observance.

It seems to this author that to bring real peace, unity and closeness to Hashem among B’nai Yisrael, we Jews need emulate the Kohen, to rise above common human nature and utilize this innate ability to correct ourselves and care for our fellows — V’Ahavtah L’re’icha Komocha. Only then will our collective express and reflect that spiritual component that merited Hashem’s Creation before all else.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of nearly 1 3/4 years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Shemini 5776: Recognizing the Wisdom of Torah, vs Change Rendering Judaism as Indistinguishable from the Nations

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, March 26th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat Sh’mini is being sponsored jointly by Rabbi Mordechai and Gila Bernstein and Jonathon and Sara Wachtel, both from Ramat Beit Shemesh and dedicated for continued refuah shlaima for Yishaya Shalom ben Malka Gittel. To the Bernstein and Wachtel families, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

Please 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 Shemini 5776: Recognizing the Wisdom of Torah, vs Change Rendering Judaism as Indistinguishable from the Nations

by Moshe Burt

After learning in Parsha Tzav that for seven days, Moshe taught Aaron HaKohen and his sons the laws of their Avodah (the Kohanic Service, i.e. in the Tabernacle and later in the Beit HaMikdash — ” The Temple”) in the Mishkan, our Parsha Shemini begins by relating that on the eighth day, Aaron and his sons commenced their Avodah HaKodosh (Holy Service). It is interesting and ironic that our parsha is the other side of the term; “Tzav-Shemonah” which is the document or order issued by the Israel Defense Forces calling reservists to active duty in event of war. In a regular year, the two Parshiyot are sperated by Pesach, whereas this year, and in all years with two Adars, Parshiyot Tzav and Shemini occur on consecutive Shabbosim.

But the alignment of these two Parshiyot, one-after-the-other, seems to this author, to have deeper meaning, above and beyond mobilization and deployment in time of war. This deeper meaning seems to denote a constancy of service, of humility, modesty and selflessness, of guard over Am Yisrael and their connection to Hashem, to Torah and to their sanctity (consecration, purity, holiness). And with this constancy of vigilance of Am Yisrael’s sanctity, our Parsha also teaches us about Kashrut, and “abstain[ing] from impure, non-Kosher item[s].” (L’ilmode U’Lamed, by Rabbi Mordechai Katz, Parsha Shemini, page 108)

Our Parsha also relates the tragedy of the deaths of Aaron’s two oldest sons, Nadav and Avihu who died while performing an unauthorized Service, offering a “strange fire …, which he did not command them…” (Artscroll Chumash, Vayikra, Perek 10, posuk 1)

Our Parsha relates that:

“Hashem spoke to Aaron saying: Do not drink intoxicating wine, you and your sons …, when you come to the Ohel Mo’ed (the Tent of Meeting), that you not die — this is an eternal decree for your generations. In order to distinguish between the sacred and the profane …” (Artscroll Chumash, Vayikra, Perek 10, p’sukim 8-10).

In previous years, this author discussed the several aveirot (wrong-doings) of Aaron’s sons Nadav and Avihu, including their performance of the unauthorized Service, the offering of a “strange fire …”, uncommanded by Hashem. Also discussed in previous years’ Parshat Shemini, was how Nadav and Avihu sought to perform a unique service, apparently thought by each of them to be pleasing to Hashem, and how many others through our history have sought to alter, to change the traditional modes of service, more often than not, in ways and for reasons not L’Shem Shemayim (not honoring Hashem’s name) and perhaps, eventually rendering whatever service they attempted as unrecognizable in Shemayim, and actually an aveirah (a sin).

In this Parshat HaShevua, this author discusses the exchange between Aaron and Moshe about the status of Aaron and his remaining sons, Elazar and Ithamar, as mourners and as to whether or not Hashem would approve of their partaking of meal-offering.

Our Parshat relates:

“Moshe spoke to Aaron and to Elazar and Ithamar, his [Aaron's] remaining sons; ‘Take the meal-offering that is left from the fire-offerings of Hashem, and eat it unleavened near the Mizbeiyach [Altar]; for it is the most holy.’” (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 10, posuk 12)

“Moshe inquired insistently about the he-goat of the sin-offering, for behold, it had been burned! –and he was wrathful with Elazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s remaining sons, saying: ‘Why did you not eat the sin-offerings in a holy place; for it is most holy; and He gave it to you to gain forgiveness for the sin of the assembly and to atone for them before Hashem? Behold, its blood was not brought into the Sanctuary within; you should have eaten it in the Holy, as I had commanded!’” (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 10, posukim 16-18)

“Aaron spoke to Moshe; ‘Was it they who this day offered their sin-offering and their elevation-offering before Hashem? Now that such things befell me — were I to eat this day’s sin-offering, would Hashem approve?’ Moshe heard and he approved. (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 10, posukim 19-20, translation rendered in the Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash, page 597)

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” cites S’forno (page 251) and comments regarding Moshe’s approval of Aaron’s understanding of the Halacha and his wisdom:

Moshe was under the impression that Aaron made a mistake and censured him for it Aaron then told Moshe the reason why his behavior was proper: “And Moshe heard and it was good in his eyes.” (Translation of Sefer Vayikra, Perek 10, posuk 20 rendered by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer “Growth Through Torah”, page 251)

S’forno comments…: Moshe felt joy upon hearing the reasoning of Aaron. He had pleasure that Aaron was correct in his decision.

People who love wisdom will derive pleasure when they come up with an original idea or when they find that they are correct in some intellectual matter. But it is a rare quality to have such a love of wisdom that one derives pleasure when another person comes up with a good idea. What was special about Moshe’s joy was that he himself made an error and Aaron was right. Many people would feel upset that they made a mistake. But not Moshe Rabbeinu. He was joyful that his brother had an awareness of truth, even though this meant that he was wrong. Moshe’s love of wisdom should serve as our model to strive for.

There is a strong contrast between the application of wisdom, whether by Aaron HaKohen or by the great scholars of our day (irrespective of type of kipa), and the tendency through our history to alter, to change the traditional modes of service, more often than not, in ways and for reasons not L’Shem Shemayim (not honoring Hashem’s name). We see this tendency seemingly alive and well in medinat Yisrael today, for instance, when a Jewish military acts to alter security protocols regarding use of live fire in dealing with terrorists and acts of terrorism. We see this tendency regarding recent military edicts regarding bearded soldiers, when throughout our history, Jewish bearded soldiers fought gallantly in defeating their foes. Then we view this tendency in nascent political entities with kippoted leaders who take a benign view toward public transportation on Shabbos, if provided by “private companies” citing “separation between religion and state.” And these are but a tiny selection of such examples of today’s tendency by many in power to change Judaism with the aim seemingly to render Am Yehudi as indistinguishable from the nations.

Don’t we need to give long and hard thought, as did Aaron HaKohen, about such tendencies as to “would Hashem approve?” Would our brethren approve? Would the nations accept and love us, or hate and disdain us even more for our hypocrisy? Would we then forfeit, in the eyes of Shemayim and the world, our right to and sovereignty in Eretz Yisrael as whatever service attempted is deemed unrecognizable in Shemayim, and actually an aveirah (a sin)?

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of nearly 1 3/4 years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

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