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

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







Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Vayeitzei is being sponsored by David and Julie Morris of Ramat Beit Shemesh honor of their children, that they continue to grow in Torah and Mitzvot and have much Bracha V”Hatslocha.. To the Morris family, many thanks for your sponsorship and continuing kindnesses through the years.

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo. com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat Vayeitzei 5775: The Descent and Fall of a Nation’s Malach Vs the Eternality of the Jews

by Moshe Burt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good Shabbos! Chodesh Tov!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Toldos 5775: “When You are Aggrieved” — Does Eisev Have Grounds to be Aggrieved in Our Times?

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


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Toldos is being sponsored anonymously in the merit of Kol B’nai Yisrael. To our anonymous sponsor, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

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

by Moshe Burt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And he cried a great and bitter cry”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good Shabbos!

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

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


Shalom Friends;

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

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

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

Best Regards,

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

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

by Moshe Burt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good Shabbos!

———————————————————
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Vayeira 5775: Bikur Cholim, Avraham’s Hachnasat Orchim,Tefillot and Actions for Kin, vs Contemporary Israel

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


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua is being sponsored by Dr. David and Vida Rier of Har Nof, Yerushalayim to commemorate David’s Bar Mitzvah parsha — Vayeira. To Mishpochat Rier, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

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

by Moshe Burt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rebbetzin Smiles continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good Shabbos!

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

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

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


Shalom Friends;

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

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat Lech Lecha 5775: The Impropriety of Coercing Stringencies onto Others and the Avraham Avinu/Pollard Correlation

by Moshe Burt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good Shabbos!

———————————————————
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Noach 5775: “Chamas” and How Man’s Principles can be Compromised to the Point of Non-Existence

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


Shalom Friends;

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

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

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

Best Regards,

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

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

by Moshe Burt

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gezel: robbery.

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

Rebbetzin Smiles also cites the Slonimer Rebbe who explains:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good Shabbos!
———————————————————
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 Breish’t 5775: Contrasting Breish’t with the Aging Process of Man

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, News Reports on Monday, October 13th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat HaShevua Breish’t is being sponsored by Binyamin and Barbara Lemkin and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh who dedicate the vort to the brave settlers of Yehuda and Shomron who have sacrificed for Eretz Yisrael.. To the Lemkin family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Breish’t 5775: Contrasting Breish’t with the Aging Process of Man

by Moshe Burt

Somehow, not being rabbinic or a Talmud Chacham, it has always seemed difficult to put a true and deep meaning of Hashem’s Creation to words to express the continu’um that is the end and the beginning of Torah. And it is hard to envision and aptly express the creation and constant re-creation of everything, and potentiality for everything from nothingness — from a void.

And it seems hard to get a grip on on the contrast between the end and the beginning of Torah, and the beginning of life and aging process of man, and the suffering which often accompanies that aging process, particularly when it occurs close to home, i.e. parents, spouses, siblings, etc.

Speaking in the first person, as I rarely if ever do, in a weekly Parshat HaShevua, I have found two vorts on our Parsha: one from Rabbi Mordechai Katz in his sefer, “Lilmod U’Lamed” (page 16) and Rebbetzin Shira Smiles, in her sefer, Torah Tapestries on Sefer Breish’t (Parshat Breish’t, pages 3-4) which seem very pertinent regarding the aging process, particularly as they relate to issues affecting my family regarding my Mother’s (aged 91) medical problems.

R’ Katz cites both Rabbi Akiva and the Rambam who were confronted by heretics who, by their questions and linguistically crude responses, stood in stark, stubborn denial of Hashem, HaKadosh Borchu, Creator of all: the universe, the world, land and sea, man and animal, vegetation and all potentiality.

After the heretic demanded of Rabbi Akiva definite proof of Hashem, the Divine Creator, Rabbi Akiva asked the heretic, the atheist, who made the garment that he was wearing?:

“The weaver, of course,” replied the the startled heretic.

“I don’t believe you,” said Rabbi Akiva. “Prove it to me.”

The heretic looked at him scornfully and responded, “Isn’t it obvious that the weaver was the one who made this garment!”

“And yet you do not realize that the Holy One Created the world!” retorted Rabbi Akiva.

The heretic departed, but Rabbi Akiva’s students, who heard this exchange, said to him, “How is your answer a clear proof?”

Rabbi Akiva replied, “My students, just as the presence of a house testifies that it was constructed by a builder, and the garment testifies to the weaver, so too, does the presence of the world testify to the fact that Hashem, the Creator, formed it.” (citing Meshech Chochmah, Vayikra Perek 19, posuk 18)

In the case of the Rambam’s moment with a heretic, R’ Katz writes:

When the Rambam taught that the world was Created by Hashem, a heretic disagreed. Instead, said the heretic, the world had existed forever and no one had created it. The Rambam then asked the heretic to leave the room for several moments. When the heretic re-entered, a beautiful painting appeared on the wall. The heretic admired the painting and asked who had painted it. The Rambam answered that he spilled some paint onto a canvas and that the painting took shape by itself.

The heretic laughed mockingly and said, “That is impossible. Just by looking at the perfect design of the painting, anyone can tell that someone painted it carefully and purposefully.”

The Rambam responded, : The same is true of the world. When examining how perfectly all of its features exist and interact, anyone can tell that it was formed by an All-Knowing Creator.

R’ Katz also cites a posuk from Iyov:

From my body, I deduce the existence of Hashem (Iyov 19)

Rebbetzin Smiles writes citing Sefer Breish’t, Perek 3, posuk 24 and Perek 4, posuk 16 respectively, as well as the Kli Yakar:

When Adam is expelled from the Garden of Eden, he is sent “mi-kedem leGan Eden.” When Kayin (Cain) is punished for killing Hevel (Abel), he is sent to wander, eventually settling in “kidmas Eden.” The literal meaning of kedem [root word from which kidmas is derived] is east, or eastward. East is where the sun rises, with its promise of a new day. The Kli Yakar… explains that on a symbolic level, the sun resembles the life of a human being. It rises in the east, continues to rise toward its fullness in the sky and slowly fades into the west. Life begins in darkness, rises, reaches an apex and sets at its end.

…. They both “went east,” in the opposite direction of their [respective] sin, indicating their correction of their course [indicating their teshuvah, their rectification of their respective sins].

The point of these two vorts it seems is to indicate life’s span seems to flow from east to west. As Ole’ Blue Eyes would sing near the end of his classic; “It Was a Very Good Year”:

But now the days grow short, I’m in the autumn of the year
And now I think of my life as vintage wine from fine old kegs
From the brim to the dregs and it poured sweet and clear
It was a very good year

Or as the great comedian and pianist Jimmy Durante would sing in his famous tune “September Song”:

Oh, the days dwindle down, to a precious few.
September. November.
And these few precious days, I’ll spend with you.
These precious days, I’ll spend with you.

One’s continued life, as we see and daven for on Rosh Hashanah, and fervently hope to be sealed for on Yom Kippur, is in Hashem’s hands alone for each of us, notwithstanding even the doctor’s care and diagnosis, etc. And Torah teaches us that all of everything is created and re-created by Hashem in the minutest, fractions of mili-seconds.

And so I return to the Rosh Hashanah Vort where Rabbi Asher Baruch Wegbreit, in his sefer “The Power of Aleinu” (pages 35-36), cites Rav Chaim Freidlander, Sifsei Chaim on ”Aleinu” and the Malbim:

… The World generally doesn’t apply the term “great” where it truly belongs — with Hashem.

Their reasoning begins with a flawed… assumption that the Creator of the Universe Who is lofty enough to create the universe would never “lower
Himself” to become involved with the lower world that He made…. They don’t feel that the Creator relates to his creations.

We [the Jewish people] know that the Creator does relate to his creations (Rav Chaim Freidlander, Sifsei Chaim,”Aleinu.”) This recognition makes the Jewish people unique and obligates us “to ascribe greatness to the One Who formed Creation.” (Malbim on Tehillim 34:4)

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

My family davens intensely for improvement of my Mother’s condition, for a Refuah Shlaima for, and continued tefillot for Chaya bat Malka. May we, her husband, her son, her siblings have many more days with my Mother in our midst, notwithstanding the hundreds and thousands of miles which, more often than not separate most of us from her.

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

Good Shabbos!!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Simchat Torah 5775: Moshe, The Final Seal and the Eternal Continu’um of Torah, the Jews and Eretz Yisrael

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, October 11th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Simchat Torah vort is being sponsored by Simon and Aliza Baum and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh who dedicate this vort Lilui Nishmas in honor of Simon’s Mother: Chaya Miriam Bas Boruch. To the Baum family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Simchat Torah 5775: Moshe, The Final Seal and the Eternal Continu’um of Torah, the Jews and Eretz Yisrael

by Moshe Burt

In this year’s Succot vort, this author wrote that the B’nai Yisrael, as an Am Segula (a nation apart and unique from the other nations), as Hashem’s special, chosen people; we visit, bond, and celebrate our special and unique relationship with HaKodosh Borchu. This unique, closely-bonded relationship is expressed by the spiritual connection drawn between the final seal placed on one’s future in the coming year on Hoshana Rabbah, and the recitation of Tehillim psalm # 27: “L’David Hashem O’ri…” from Rosh Chodesh Elul through Simchat Torah night.

To reiterate from the Succot vort:

The custom to recite this psalm of repentence is based on the Midrash [Vayikra Rabbah, Perek 21, siman 4] which expounds: “Hashem is my light” on Rosh Hashana; “and my salvation” on Yom Kippur; “He will hide me in His shelter”… an allusion to Succot. The implication is that Rosh Hashana, Hashem helps us to see the light and repent; on Yom Kippur, He provides us salvation by forgiving our sins. Once we are forgiven, He shelters us from all foes and dangers, just as He sheltered our ancestors in the wilderness.

In Chutz L’Aretz that Sh’mini Atzeres is expressed as if one’s entire family, from various venues, are all together and savoring the love, bonding and enjoyment of being together — between the parent and off-spring and siblings with each other and their parent. And so when it comes time for each to leave to return to their various venues and responsibilites, the parent pleads that the offspring stay together with him for one more day. And so Hashem Kovei’yokhel (as He is) Calls to His loved ones — the B’nai Yisrael to stay with Him one more day. We learn that in Eretz Yisrael, there is one day of Succot Yom Tov, five Chol HaMo’ed days(intermediate days as with Pesach) and, Simchat Torah — the last day Yom Tov which contains within it the attribute of Sh’mini Atzeres — that special time of bonding and expressions of love — Am Yisrael for our Father, our Creator, our eternal and universal King, and Hashem’s special and loving connection to Am Yisrael alone.

Hashem sooo treasures the B’nai Yisrael that after Hashana Rabbah and sealing the fate of the nations in the coming year, He, so to speak, wants to bask in the love and joy of being with and bonding only with B’nai Yisrael. And so, on Simchat Torah, we joyously celebrate as we follow the leyning of V’zos HaBracha and of the seven days of Breish’t in a spirit of bonding with Hashem that is the last day of Yom Tov. And when we make our home in Hashem’s special, designated Land — Eretz Yisrael, the joy of Simchat Torah increases countless-fold for we are with Him in His Very Palace.

Shem Mishmuel concludes a vort on V’zos HaBracha this way;

Let us propose that these brachot are eternal, that they were not just pronounced by Moshe to Klal Yisrael on his last day on earth, but like the rest of Torah, their influence is everlasting. Indeed, the beautiful blessings which Moshe bestowed upon us are still with us, as if he were standing and blessing every one of us today. Of course, as with their inception, the quality of the brachot will depend upon the ability of each of us to successfully receive them.

Perhaps this is why, throughout history, the Jewish people have ended the cycle of Torah-reading on Simchat Torah, rather than at any other time or on any other festival. Tishrei marks the most intense opportunity for spiritual development of the Jewish year. Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Succot, and Shemini Atzeret are all within a few days of each other. It is only after all of these observances and experiences that we are at our most receptive to the Divine blessing. At that zenith of spiritual success, we read the final verses of the Torah, including Moshe’s blessings to his nation, hoping and praying that we will merit to receive them for the year ahead. (Sefer Shem Mishmuel, V’zos HaBracha, page 459)

As a note, R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch z”l, in the New Hirsch Chumash (Sefer Devarim, page 788) writes on V’zos HaBracha:

This blessing… was not Hashem’s word, but Moshe’s words, and the designation given here to Moshe teaches us that these words are to be accorded incomparatively higher than would be accorded to the words of ordinary man. Indeed it was “Moshe the man of G’d” who pronounced this blessing; it was uttered by the msan who Hashem deemed worthy to be in close relationship to Him. Although it is possible that this bracha was not given in the way of prophesy, it was in any case inspired by a holy spirit.

When we receive the Brachot for the year to come, as given over before his death by “Moshe, the man of G’d” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 33, posuk 1) in V’zos HaBracha on Simchat Torah, we should/must recognize, that these final verses don’t mark a finish, a completion but rather just a beginning [like the end of one baseball season with the crowning of World Champions followed almost immediately by non-stop preparations for the inception of the new season].

Sefer L’lmod Ul’lamed, by Rabbi Mordecai Katz (Parshat V’zos HaBracha, pages 190-192) writes on V’zos HaBracha:

“Moshe commanded us the law, an eternal heritage for the congregation of Yaakov.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 33, posuk 4)

This verse… is a most important one in the framework of the Jewish religion. [What this author often calls Judaism 101] The Talmud states that it is this verse which every father must teach his young child. A child who appreciates this will develop into a loyal Jew.

Note the inclusion of the word “congregation”… The Jewish people can thrive only if it remains a congregation, a unified whole…. The entire law cannot be fully observed unless the entire congregation of Jews accepts it…

…Torah laws encourage the maintenance of a congregation, an association of people serving Hashem together…. It is as a congregation that we can best survive and that we can best fulfill Hashem’s laws.

Rabbi Katz then offers a beautiful interpretation by The Rogotchover Gaon followed by his own comments:

The Torah is an eternal inheritance of the Jewish people. It is ours to treasure, protect, love and obey. It will remain ours no matter what circumstances we live in… The Torah will remain the same and the Jews must remain true to it.

V’zos HaBracha… is not the end of the Torah…. There is no end to Torah. Like the water to which is compared, it flows forever…

On the very same day that we finish V’zos HaBracha, we commence the reading of Parshat Breish’t…. Torah remains an ever-fresh spring from which every new generation of Jews can draw.

The eternal Torah renews itself eternally in applicability and pertinence with the end of the current cycle and beginning of each new cycle. The joy of completion must extend to the joy of continuance, the joy of new learning and new perspectives which build level upon level on that already learned.

In Hashem’s expression of creation in Sefer Breish’t, Perek 1, posuk 1; “Breish’t, Bora, Kelokim eit HaShemayim v’eit Ha’Aretz” (”In the beginning, Hashem created the heavens and the earth”), Torah surely wasn’t referring to that parody of Major League Baseball; you know the one, ‘In the big inning.’

As religious Jews, we understand that Hashem continuously, instantaneously creates and recreates. And so the eternality of Torah as well as the meaning, actualization and application of Jewish learning and the continuity and constancy of Hashem’s creation are inextricably linked and maximized with Am Yisrael’s connection and presence in our eternal homeland — Eretz Yisrael.

So we must take the craving for real improvement, the craving expressed during the Yomim Noraim, to make things right between our Jewish brethren and throughout Am Yehudi into the new year. And at this auspicious time, may all of us have our brother Jonathan Pollard — Yehonatan Ben Malka, and Sholom Rubashkin both of whom have suffered the injustices of the US Justice System and extraordinarily long prison sentences, prominently in our hearts, thoughts, prayers and in mind in our actions — that Hashem see to their respective releases and return to their brethren in THIS year — sooner than later.

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

L’Shana Tova, Chag Same’ach — may all who read this be inscribed and completely sealed for a healthy, happy, sweet and prosperous 5774 and every year thereafter to at least 120!
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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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Succot 5775: Prophesy — Semi-Fulfilled

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Friday, October 10th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Succot 5775: Prophesy — Semi-Fulfilled

by Moshe Burt

During Asseret Yomei Teshuva, the ten days of repentence between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, there were heated public exchanges between Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and US president Barack Hussein Obama regarding PM Netanyahu’s announcement of construction of a new housing development in east Jerusalem.

A quote from “L’Dovid Hashem Ori” that we say twice a day from the beginning of Chodesh Elul through Hoshana Rabbah: : “He will hide me in His shelter” … an allusion to Succot. Jews recognize that Hashem has dominion over the world and that man can’t look to or have trust in the physical, such as stone, iron or steel structures, etc. to provide protection. The nations, conversely, look to tall, fortifed edifices for security and protection.

Gemura Mesechet Avodah Zora, daf gimmel relates that in the future, the nations would seek reward from Hashem as they related how they did and made many things to benefit the Jews, and make the claim that had Hashem forced them to accept Torah as He did the Jews, that they would have accepted Hashem’s Law as well. So Hashem offers them one Mitzvah to do — Succah. [Many thanks to R' Ari Enkin, R' Moshe Braun, R' Chaim Zev Malinowitz, Sh'lita for their help in providing a clearer understanding of of the above Gemura.]

When Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu responded to a recent White House rebuke of the new Israeli construction calling the criticism “against American values,” the Obamanator fired back, through a White House spokesman:

“When it comes to American values, it’s American values that led to this country’s unwavering support of Israel,” Mr. Earnest [White House spokesman] said. “It’s American values that have led us to fund an Iron Dome system” to protect Israelis from rocket attacks by Islamist militants.

This author also saw other coverages of the public exchanges which indicated that the White House spokesman also noted that the US permitted Israel to defend herself and provided her with military aid. Ergo, the title above: “Prophesy — Semi-Fulfilled” for we have yet to see the Obamanator, the “leader” of the nations, sit in a Succah — the one mitzvah which Hashem, according to prophecy, offers the leader to prove the sincerity of the nations.

And so, the story goes that a king, or head of state of the nations will sit in the Succah and Hashem would bring an intense heat, more intense than the heavy heat of Arnoldis Chapman’s hardest fastball. The head of state can’t take the intense heat (Well, you know “If you can’t take the heat, get
out of the kitchen”) and leaves the Succah, kicking the door in as he leaves, thereby validating, as if Hashem needs any validation, for choosing B’nai Yisrael as His nation and people.

Our emunah in Hashem as our protector is what distinguishes us from every other nation and people.

Critical Decisions in the Beginning of 5775: Please daven for my Mother — Chaya bat Malka

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, News Reports on Friday, October 10th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Critical Decisions in the Beginning of 5775: Please daven for my Mother — Chaya bat Malka

by Moshe Burt

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We made a critical decision just after Yom Kippur re: my Mother (Chaya bat Malka), to go with Hospice Care and I realize that the issue of Hospice care is controversial and misunderstood by many in the Frum Community. My Mother was discharged from the hospital on Tuesday night and was transported back home to her apartment in their Assisted Living Facility to be with my 96 year old Father under the aegis of the Vitas Hospice team All care will be administered to my Mother in the comfort of their apartment at “The Bridge.”

This Hospice care will be endeavoring to find soft foods for nutrition, hydration which my Mother would be able to ingest by mouth without complication, i.e. regurgitation, etc. and will work on adjusting things such as her posture when eating, etc. to B’ezrat Hashem enable her to get nutrition and stay hydrated (water). This is crucial for her.

This evolves out out my family’s decision to have my Mother serviced by Hospice while being at home with my Father in their assisted living apartment at “The Bridge” in Lauderhill, FL, rather than to have invasive procedures on a 91 year old woman who can’t swallow, or can’t swallow the vast majority of foods, liquids, has internal bleeding from an unknown source and who has been on cumedin blood thinner and other medications. Such invasive procedures as a tube down her throat and a peg-tube through belly into stomach would have precluded her from returning to the assisted living facility which she and my Father love and in which they are receiving excellent care. “The Bridge” does not have facilities to enable handling someone who would have this peg-tube procedure as a means of providing nutrition and hydration. To have opted for the peg-tube procedure would have meant uprooting one or both my parents, both in 90s, perhaps separating them such that they would both suffer and this suffering inevitably would be life-threatening for the both of them. It is mental mindset, quality of life issues and that my parents are secular Jews — I have to go with the flow and not impose frum standards upon them.

My Mother was in the Hospital since just before Rosh Hashana and in the Critical Care Unit until either the day before Yom Kippur or Motsei Yom
Kippur when she was placed in a regular room 209B. I was told by one or two CCU nurses that my Mother had been given applesauce, chocolate pudding and crushed ice by mouth with no complications, no regurgitation, although I am told by the Hospice team that these facts did not appear, or eluded (my word) the hospital’s patient records. Therefore, the Hospice team will hopefully, in my words, be able to extrapolate from the above and to find and administer nutrients and hydration to her orally in coordination with the nursing staff at “The Bridge.”

Further, the Hospice care she is now receiving is from one of the best, if not THE best Hospice care organization in the US — Vitas Hospice care in Florida which is accredited by the NIJH (National Institute of Jewish Hospice) whose President and Founder is Rabbi Dr. Maurice Lamm, a Modern Orthodox Rav, and brother of Rabbi Dr Norman Lamm, former president of Yeshiva University. I came to become aware of the NIJH through Google searches re: Jewish Hospice.

I personally spoke with Rabbi Dr. Lamm and his Rebbetzin who had good things to say about Vitas Hospice care, as does the head nurse at “The Bridge” and my parents’ financial consultant in Florida.