Parshat Korach 5776: Practical Lessons from Korach’s Rebellion for Today’s Contending Leadership Entities

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, News Reports on Saturday, June 25th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off



Shalom Friends;

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

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat Korach 5776: Practical Lessons from Korach’s Rebellion for Today’s Contending Leadership Entities

by Moshe Burt

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

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

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

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

The south side of the encampment seems to have been kind of a rough neighborhood full of apparent potential conspirators.

One could say the event of the Miraglim brought about an unholy alliance, the opening of the proverbial “Pandora’s Box.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shem Mishmuel relates a thought on Korach from Rashi;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There could be another understanding regarding Korach, with enduring lessons for today’s electorate and “leadership” contenders.

Rabbi A. Henach Leibowwitz, in his sefer, “Majesty of Man” on our Parshat Korach (pages 232-234) comments, citing Gemara Sanhedrin 52b and Rashi:

A Talmid Chacham — a wise man — appears in the eyes of an am ha’aretz — an ignoramus: the Talmid Chacham shines brilliantly, like a golden vessel. However, the Gemara continues, once the Talmid Chacham benefits in any way from the am ha’aretz, he [the Chacham] is viewed by him as a clay container which, once broken, is beyond repair.

Rashi comments that this description applies directly to Korach’s relationship to … Talmidei Chachamim… who eventually came to side with him in his rebellion…. He [Korach] found ways to convince people and bring them over to his distorted way of thinking, Yet, in viewing…Talmidei Chachamim, he felt he could not reach them. They were truly a shining object in his eyes, steadfast in their integrity, and tamim — pure — in all their actions.

However, this aura was shattered when Korach invited the wise men to a meal and they accepted. The Gemara teaches us that accepting this invitation was a fatal mistake, for it caused a drastic change in Korach’s relationship with them. Immediately, their lofty stature was diminished in his eyes. They no longer seemed invulnerable. Korach felt that he could now approach them and influence them. He tried and succeeded.

….In one slightly improper action of accepting Korach’s invitation , the wise men shattered their image as pure, invincibly righteous men in Korach’s eyes. He no longer looked up to them and kept his distance. He approached them, confident he would win them over, and he did. Because of this miniscule miscalculation in associating with an evil person like Korach, they were eventually doomed to the same fate as Korach.

…The Mesilas Yesharim writes that even if we know we are not as worthy as people think we are, we have an obligation to live up to the higher standards they expect of us. This applies in all of our interactions with both Jews, and non-Jews, whether at work, in the community, or at home with our families…. Damaging a good image could lead to tragic results, as in the case of the Chachamim.

It seems then, that human nature indicates that when an individuals’, or a groups’ heretofore high standards are compromised, the consequences are that others who previously held the individual or group in high esteem now have less regard, less respect for that individual or group.

One could, therefore, equate Korach’s view of the Chachamim, once he gained their support for his distorted views, with one of the more famous quotes of the late, great comedian Groucho Marx:

“… I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member”.

Can one extrapolate the message of Korach’s diminished view of Talmidei Chachamim and begin to imagine the impact upon an electorate, both observant and secular, of a message of an entity which espouses “separation of religion and state” regarding such a central, basic and seminal Torah law as observance of Shabbos re: public transportation on Shabbos: “each community will make its own decisions, and private companies can fulfill those needs”?

Can one recognize the diminished image among the electorate of such a political entity due to what this author views as a huge contradiction: as benign attitude toward Shabbos observance, while at the same time an activist, possessive attitude for Eretz Yisrael, for Har HaBayit (the Temple Mount), for the Ma’arat HaMachpela (Tomb of the Patriarachs and Matriarchs) and Hevron, Kever Rachel, and more?

Again, googley-eyed Groucho:

“… I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member”.

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 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 Shelach 5776: Today’s Ongoing War for the Jewish Soul and Against Laziness Amongst Am Yisrael and Parallels to the Miraglim

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, June 18th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

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

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Shelach 5776: Today’s Ongoing War for the Jewish Soul and Against Laziness Amongst Am Yisrael and Parallels to the Miraglim

by Moshe Burt

Our Parshat Shelach, and the affair of the miraglim — the spies, annually brings to mind the evolution of the Israeli media, academia, political, governmental scene which has brought us to the state of affairs we are facing and continue to face today, and conjures up ways in which today’s state of affairs could parallel the event of the miraglim in Bamidbar.

This state of affairs includes the Nation facing continuing threats of tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of rockets aimed at all parts of Israel by both Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, continued tolerance of seeming governmental indifference to Arab attacks upon Jews — near the Kotel, throughout Jerusalem and throughout Yehuda and the Shomron, whether by terror cells or, as we’ve seen of late, individual terrorist attacks using guns, knives, concealed explosives, or whatever deadly instruments the terrorists can get their hands on. We observe the governmental prohibition of Jews, even MKs, from praying at Har HaBayit (The Temple Mount), as well as alleged police framing of Jews regarding alleged violence and damage in so-called “Arab areas.” And we note the evolution of a leftist-politicized military establishment which prosecutes its soldiers for shooting-to-kill terrorists before the terrorist can kill them or their Jewish brethren.

Lest we forget the thousands of Hamas/PLO rockets which rained down upon southern Israel during the series of conflicts in Gaza since the expulsion of our Jewish brethren from Gush Katif. And we watch as an equivocal prime minister and government speak strong words against a “two-state solution”, only to eat those very words mere days or hours later. These all show clearly that the politicians, the elitist intelligencia, and many of the masses have stumbled and bumbled through numerous fiascos because they still have not learned and internalized the lessons which should have been gleaned from their previous fiascos, i.e., after then-prime minister Ehud Barak’s May, 2000 withdrawal of the military “like thieves in the night” from Southern Lebanon, or after Jew expelled Jew from Gush Katif, and historically, from the lessons of actions of the 10 corrupt spies. The fiascos of our govercnmental and military establishment have led to hundreds of thousands of Hamas and Hezbollah rockets aimed at targets throughout Israel, as well Hamas rebuilding its tunnels into Israel which were such a danger during the Gaza war of two years ago.

These fiascos provide great insight as to the consequences of the bourgeoning influence of today’s misguided spies, the leftist media, intelligencia, academia and the deeply entrenched leftist influence in Israel’s political institutions.

Thus, it seems that we continue experiencing a prolonged internal war for the soul of Am Yisrael reminiscent of events surrounding the Divinely-sanctioned directive by Moshe to send spies (miraglim) into Eretz Yisrael. Just as Am Yisrael cried needless, bitter tears in our Parshat Shelach, modern-day Israelis, many seemingly devoid of Emunah in The Almighty as they are bombarded with leftist endoctrinations and brainwashings, and lies and distortions framed as “facts”, throw their hands up in misguided fear, as if latter-day grasshoppers, bitterly proclaiming; “ein ma’alah sot, ein ma’alah sot.”

But why would Am Yisrael be such weak, vulnerable and susceptible prey?? Yehuda Nachshoni seems to trace possible roots behind this vulnerability (Studies in the Weekly Parsha — Behaaloscha, page 995-996):

Chazal say that the controversy over fish was rumblings of immorality; a protest against the laws of matrimony which had become accepted by the community of Israel. The people speak about “meat” and then turn and long for the “fish” that they ate in Egypt; the fish signify licentious desire. And the verse… “crying in families” (Bamidbar, Perek 11, posuk 10) — should be thought of as “crying about family matters.” They complained that the Torah forbade marital unions with relatives they previously had been free to marry (Yoma 75a; Shabbos 130a).

…Israel had been given a marital code at Sinai. Now they wished to be free of that code. Kesav Sofer connects this decline in morals with their earlier demand for meat. They… complained of domestic strife. They went on to develop their argument and claimed that the family quarrels were a result of the marital code; they were married to comparative strangers. Had they been permitted to marry people who were more closely bound to them by ties of blood, the families would be more…united; these quarrels about fish and meat would never have arisen. Moshe thought that the grumbling was about fish, meat and domestic strife and “it was evil in the eyes of Moshe.” But Hashem saw the deeper hidden motives — they wished to throw off moral restraints — and “Hashem was very wrathful.”

How do such hidden motives and their possible roots seem to relate to what appears as today’s war for the Jewish soul??.

In the same way that the Jews in Bamidbar reacted to change — a new code of marital unions which they were unaccustomed to and needed to acclimate themselves to, the leftist media and intelligencia, along with deeply engrained leftist roots in political and governmental institutions seem to have evolved to prey upon vulnerable masses of today’s Am Yisrael who, like B’nei Yisrael in Bamidbar, seem not sufficiently knowledgeable and unaccustomed to Halacha — Jewish law and morality and the eternal Jewish link and connection with Eretz Yisrael.

But it seems, at least to this author, that over the last number of decades, there has evolved various degrees of atzlus: laziness among B’nei Yisrael, both amongst secular and observant Jews.

Rabbi Henach Leibowitz, in his sefer “Majesty of Man”, cites Midrash in contrasting the success of Yehoshua’s spies: Calev and Pinchas, with the catastrophic failure of the spies appointed by Moshe in our parshat to scout out Eretz Yisrael. R’ Leibowitz cites Midrash (“Majesty of Man”, page 228):

…The primary factor which made Calev and Pinchas… so successful was their mesirut nefesh — willingness to give of themselves. Calev and Pinchas disguised themselves as salesmen, and went shouting through the streets of Yericho selling there wares so that no one would suspect them of spying.

The spies of Moshe, on the other hand, did not act with such mesirut nefesh. The cause of was a minute measure of atzlus… in them. It was this laziness that caused the nisi’im to view the situation in Eretz Yisrael without exerting the proper effort to achieve total clarity of vision. Their judgement was erroneous due to this small flaw. Had they exerted themselves properly, they would have seen the truth: conquering Canaan was within B’nei Yisrael’s power.

R’ Leibowitz goes on to cite Shlomo HaMelech as related in Devarim Rabbah 8:6):

An Atzel — a lazy person [re: going to learn]…. is having delusions of dangers and obstacles much greater than actually exist.

Shlomo HaMelech, though, is simply stating a fact of human nature: man avoids exertion. This force causes one to see events, actions and situations differently than they actually are. Shlomo HaMelech’s atzel created rationalizations due to his laziness.

As this author’s understands and interpolates then, among the observant, this possible atzlus reflects itself in areas such as fast-paced, auto-pilot tefillah without kavanah: intent, in the haphazard way that siddurim, Chumashim and other texts are replaced (or all to often not replaced) on their appropriate shelves in their rush to leave shul, leaving shul facilities in less than a respectful state and often not being sufficiently zealous for their fellow Jews and for Eretz Yisrael (thinking back to the expulsion of our brethren from Gush Katif an its run-up where many of us prioritized our own needs before those of our brethren). In this author’s understanding, inevitably there are many more such citations of atzlus not mentioned here.

Among the secular, its a case where they have been so misguided by generations of governmental, leftist-defeatist-cancer-infected military establishment, media and intelligencia elitist mythical “dogma” that, even being in close quarters in our small Medinat Yisrael, and having to interact with our various observant segments — sectors, they’ve been conditioned to abhor observance and thus seemingly lack the initiative — the mesirut nefesh to learn the truth. Add to that, the lack amongst most secular Jews to come to the aid of their Gush Katif brethren. And as with the observant sectors, inevitably there are many more such citations of atzlus not mentioned here. Thus is the war for the Jewish heart and neshama — Jews vs Israelis.

And matters are not helped by seeming atzlus on the part of certain rightist-activists who frequent Har HaBayit (the Temple Mount), the Ma’arat HaMachpela, etc. but who, in this author’s view, stumble down the slippery slope of being benign regarding transportation on Shabbos, stating: “each community will make its own decisions, and private companies can fulfill those needs” — leading to myriads of additional Halachic issues, thus acting hypocritically in full view of Hashem and of the nations, thus endangering, with their hypocrisy, our very sovereignty over our Jewish Holy Places which these activists embrace, and over the entirety of Eretz Yisrael.

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

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

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

What caused the Spies to become corrupted?

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

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

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

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

Rabbi Dr. Wakslak goes on to write:

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

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

And so, true to the form which both Nachshoni and Rabbi Dr. Wakslak describe, the disunity, and apparent mutual jealousy and distrust within the religious sectors today, coupled with the leftist, elitist intelligencia scoffers whose distorted historical revisionism have fed efforts by successive Israeli governments who sought, seek to divide and conquer, maintain, consolidate and perpetuate their secular kingdom at the expense of the governed and at the expense of Jewish sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael as well as against the advent of a REAL Jewish leadership. Such a Real Jewish leadership would be in nobody’s pocket, would not pander to certain sectors of the population for their votes by compromising Halacha, would owe no debts to today’s political hacks, would make no bargains with hacks who would throw any locality or segment of the governed “under the bus.” This Real Jewish Leadership would subserviant ONLY to Shemayim.

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

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

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

May we, the B’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 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.

Parshat Beha’aloscha 5776: Aaron HaKohen’s Enthusiasm and Constancy of Service — Do We Strive to Emulate?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Sunday, June 12th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Beha’aloscha is being sponsored by Loren and Sora Deetza Spigelman of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated lilui nishmas for Yonatan Mordechai ben Elisha Tzadok. To the Spigelman 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

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Parshat Beha’aloscha 5776: Aaron HaKohen’s Enthusiasm and Constancy of Service — Do We Strive to Emulate?

by Moshe Burt

The opening posukim of our Parsha teach us:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further, often one needs to arrive at Shul on Shabbos morning a half-hour before Brachot just to be able to keep pace with the Shaliach Tzibbor through P’sukei D’Zimrah. And in the rush to keep pace with the Shaliach Tzibbor, various Shul facilities are often left in a deplorable state after multiple use.

In the end, many Kehillot continuously complete a full Shabbos tefillah in less than two hours, not including the Rav’s drasha, blow through Aleinu at “mach 1″ speed. Then, in their mad dash out of Shul, they either replace their siddurim and Chumashim on shelves in a haphazard manner, unbecoming these holy s’forim, or they simply leave the.siddurim and Chumashim where they sat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And if it weren’t for Kaddish afterwards, gang-way for the stampede! So, from the beginning of Aleinu, the main focus of those saying Kaddish, bearing in mind the break-neck speed with which the Shaliach Tzibbor completes his Aleinu, is to rush in a frenzy to surround the Bima — their minds and focus seemingly very far from the mission at hand — “Our Duty” — both paragraphs of it.

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

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

Aleinu L’Shabeiyach: The verbalization of OUR Chiyuv — it’s our obligation as Jews to praise and glorify Hashem’s name. Aleinu is the most often said, the most repetitious and unchangeable, yet the most under-rated, least respected, but perhaps the most important of all of our daily tefillot. Due to the pressure of the Shaliach Tzibbor’s pace, no one seemingly even bothers to take the time, when vocalizing the tefillah, to even focus on the meanings of it: that Yehoshua davened it forwards, backwards, sideways through as the Jews encircled Yericho and the Shofars blew until Yericho’s walls fell in heaps. Heck, when a Shliach Tzibbor completes Aleinu in less than 30 -45 seconds, could he have entirely blown off the second paragraph Akhan’s teshuvah (Akhan’s repentance and striving to improve, to come closer to Hashem — to rectify his sin of taking spoils from battle)?

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

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

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

Say “Aleinu L’Shabeiyach” while standing after tefillah and be careful to daven it with kavanah. From where and from whom did the impetus for Rabbi Enkin’s compelling statement come?

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

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

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

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

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

  • 3/ Another Sefer, L’David Shiur by Asher Elbaz seems to answer R’Pincus’ citing from Gaonim responsa citing R’Hai Gaon which indicates that by those in Chutz L’Aretz aiming their tefillahs toward Israel and toward the Beit HaMikdash, the Jewish world’s tefillahs rise to Shemayim from the Mikdash.
  • 4/ Sefer L’David Shiur cites the Rokeach who notes that Yehoshua Ben Nun repeated Aleinu on his knees in awe and in a loud voice in a tune which makes the heart rejoice. Therefore, a person should have kavanah to sing Aleinu with all of his might to his Creator. [Can this be done at break-neck speed?]
  • 5/ Sefer L’David Shiur cites the Chida which says to say Aleinu word-by-word [seeming obvious to not slur or mumble-jumble them] because it is a very awesome praise full of very high secrets.
  • 6/ L’David Shiur also cites the M’Chazik Bracha (Koof, Lamed, Bet) which indicates that there is no other praise to our Creator like Aleinu and that it is higher than all of the praises in the world.

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

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

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

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

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

May we, the B’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 Naso and Shavuot 5776: Ruth and Bo’az and Fairness, and Honesty Toward Ger’im, Ba’alei Teshuva and Olim Chadashim

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, June 4th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Naso/Shavu’ot is being sponsored by Dov and Bracha Moses of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for refuah shlaima for Rachel bat Chaya Perel, Yehudit bat Chaya Perel and Chaya Perel bat Rivka. To the Moses 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 Naso and Shavuot 5776: Ruth and Bo’az and Fairness, and Honesty Toward Ger’im, Ba’alei Teshuva and Olim Chadashim

by Moshe Burt

This year, our Parshat Naso falls out on the Shabbos which is followed immediately by Shavuot. Thus it was deemed fitting that this vort relate to both regarding the Ger, Ba’alei Teshuva and Olim Chadashim.

The lessons regarding national unity as expressed by the Kohanim in the Birchat Kohanim, and fairness, honesty in dealings and interelationships between all types of Jews are pertinent for all-time, not just as paradigm for Mattan Torah.

The importance of these common threads in carving out national unity would, or should extend to the nurture and acceptance of Ba’alei Teshuva into the observant community, as well as to an attitude of respect, acceptance and cooperation by an indigenous Jewish kehal, be it on a national level or a local one, toward new arrivals — be they Ger Tzaddikim or Olim Chadashim.

Near the beginning of Parsha Naso, Hashem speaks to Moshe telling him to speak to the B’nai Yisrael as follows;

“… A man or woman who commits any of man’s sins, by committing treachery toward Hashem.” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 5, posuk 6)

R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z’l in the new Hirsch Chumash (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Daniel Haberman) illustrates and emphasizes this treachery by way of equation of man’s sins in his business dealings with committing a breach of trust against Hashem (Hirsch Chumash, Sefer BaMidbar, commentary on Perek 5, posuk 6, pages 68-69):

Every… sin against one’s fellow man is also a breach of trust against Hashem; for… Hashem is the Guarantor of honesty in business dealings between men. The breach of trust is especially serious if the person takes an oath and invokes the Name of Hashem in order to prove his honesty. In such a case, the appeal to Hashem is exploited in order to conceal an injustice. The debt owed to one’s fellow man becomes, as a result of the oath, a debt owed to Hashem. It is elevated to sacred status because the oath taker claims that he is “close to Hashem”; he as it were, wraps himself in the Me’il [the robe -- Rashbam: garment of honor -- Stone Chumash Parsha Tetzaveh, page 467] of the Kohen, and his treachery against his fellow thereby becomes Me’ilah [in modern day Israeli Iv'rit = embezzlement].

Rav Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” (page 312), attributes to Sforno comments regarding “…committing treachery toward Hashem” to the effect that:

… This refers to one who steals from a convert to Judaism. Harming him is considered a trespass against the Almighty because this person had the idealism to come to Almighty’s Torah. One desecrates the Almighty’s name in his [the Gers'] eyes by deceiving him.

A person who comes to Torah on his own volition does so because of the beautiful and uplifted ideas he hears about Torah principles. He made his decision on the assumption that those who follow Torah will act towards him in accordance with all of the Torah laws pertaining to interpersonal relations. If someone cheats him financially or in some other way wrongs him, he will not only suffer a monetary loss. Rather, he might also feel disillusioned with his decision to accept a Torah way of life…. The importance of not harming a convert can be seen from the fact that Torah warns us about this in numerous places.

The Ger Tzeddek has usually given up very much because of his ideals and will experience much pain from his disappointment that the people he is in contact with do not meet the Torah standards he expected of them. The importance of not harming a convert can be seen from the fact that Torah warns us about this in a number of places. From the negative we can learn the positive. The merit of acting with love and kindness toward a convert is great.

Parshiyot HaShavu’ot which this author has developed and said over through the years have tended to focus on the middot of honesty and Ahavat Chinom for our fellow Jews and the impact that a lack of these middot makes on our collective mindset at various levels; from personal, to business, to learning, to the levels of governing and politics. It seems that a paradigm of these middot is how we are taught to treat the Ger Tzeddik. We are taught to go above and beyond the norm –to go, in the vernacular which evolved from American Pro-Football, beyond “the full nine yards” in extending kindnesses to a Ger Tzeddek.

There is an old axiom that was heard back in Philadelphia, in the “Old Country” amongst Religious Jews that he who was born, raised and has lived his entire life as a Religious Jew can’t fit into the shoes or know the road that the Ba’al Teshuva has traveled. Chavel Chomer, that all Jews can’t know and internalize the road that the Ger Tzaddik has traveled in his evolution toward the Emmet of Judaism. But often, there seems to be a chauvinism shown amongst some of those who are frum-from-birth toward the Ba’al Teshuva, the Ger Tzeddek, or the Oleh Chadash.

As with the Ger Tzeddek, an indigenous klal — whether local or national, can’t possibly know the road travelled by a Ba’al Teshuva or the Oleh Chadash (new resident) who, heretofore, lived in a foreign land, or the road travelled by those from whom the Ba’al Teshuva or oleh chadash descended. It seems obvious, yet often disregarded — tread upon with the Eikev — with the heel, that the indigenous klal ought not to use the intricate nuances of their language, or so-called “local customs” to trick, to put “obstacles in the way of the blind” — the oleh chadash — the new resident who made aliyah from a foreign land. The indigenous klal — whether local or national, must also not walk before either the Ger Tzeddek, the Ba’al Teshuva or the Oleh Chadash with feelings of either superiority or priority entitlements because of “their hard lives”, because of their army service, or because of their pain as terrorist victims or loss of loved ones on the battlefield.

Who among this indigenous klal can know the pain and suffering of their fellow Jew; Ba’al Teshuva or oleh chadash, instilled as a result of the Sho’ah, of generations of pogroms, abuse, persecution and more?? It seems obvious that every Jew, that every Oleh Chadash has at least the same merit as the indigenous Israeli Jew, that he merits the same rights to live, earn a living, receive justice in legal proceedings and appropriate, adequate, transparent medical care, etc. in Eretz Yisrael as does the indigenous klal — the native-born — without what might be called the local double-talk.

And the Ba’alei Teshuva and the Ger Tzeddik have earned and deserve the merit, by virtue of the road that they’ve travelled to achieve closeness with Hashem, of being considered fairly for shidduchim based on who they are, what they’ve achieved and continue to achieve in growing in Yiddishkiet. In short, all upright, righteous Jews, be they Ba’alei Teshuva, the Ger Tzeddik, the Oleh Chadash are Holy and merit V’Ahavta L’Rei’echa Komocha from their fellow Jews.

In Megillat Ruth, one receives an indication that the road traveled by Ruth was more substantial than love, admiration for Na’omi and concern for her welfare.

The Sforno apparently equates cheating or wronging a Ger Tzeddik with “committing treachery toward Hashem.” And it would seem that this S’forno would/should extend beyond the Ger Tzeddik to the Ba’al Teshuva who seeks closeness to Hashem and to the Oleh from a foreign land who starts a new life in Eretz HaKodesh. For we see that Na’omi’s return to Eretz Yisrael with her daughter-in-law, the Ger’es, that Ruth was treated with respect, acceptance and kindness. The chessed shown by Bo’az and his community toward Ruth should serve as a paradigm, not only for treatment of the Ger Tzeddek, but for treatment of the Ba’al Teshuva or new Olim as well — on a systemic national level as well as on a local communal level.

Above, we spoke of Perek 5, posuk 6 in Parsha Naso regarding the “sins of man” and “treachery against Hashem.” The very next posuk of our Parsha reads;

“They shall confess the sin that they committed; he shall make restitution for his guilt in his principal amount and add a fifth to it.” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 5, posuk 7)

“The Midrash Says”, comments regarding the punishment of the Jewish thief who steals from a Ger or from any other Jew, as follows;

“When the gentile nations heard about this mitzvah, they exclaimed, How great is this G’d who formulates laws that benefit those who observe them.”

“The Midrash Says” continues by saying;

“The Almighty …is more lenient, as it were, with sins against him personally than with a wrong committed by a man against his fellow.”

This applies not only to a sin committed against a native Jew but equally against a Ger Tzeddek, a non-Jew who converted Leshaim Shamayim.”

Rabbi Artscroll says on the posuk that:

“This law regarding proselytes was especially relevant now that their status was accentuated by the organization of the Sh’vatim. Since proselytes, not belonging to any of the 12 tribes, encamped separately, the Torah now gives the law regarding the theft of their property. This… teaches that financial treachery toward a fellow Jew is tantamount to treachery against G’d himself, for He defends the defenseless.” (Artscroll Stone Chumash, page 752)

It would therefore also seem that any treachery, not just monetary, done toward a fellow Jew, at whatever level of religiosity and under whatever guise; trickery, withholding information, speech, etc. would constitute a treachery against Hashem which will eventually have to be answered for by the perpetrators.

The Sefer Shem Mishmuel (page 302) cites Rabbi Berachyah in Shemos Rabbah Perek 28, posuk 1:

“The Tablets were six tefachim (handbreadths) long — in some sense, Hashem grasped two tefachim, Moshe grasped 2 tefachim and 2 tefachim bridged the gap between them.”

Shem Mishmuel then explains (pages 302 – 304):

We can sub-divide all mitzvot, and indeed, all human endeavors into three spheres: thought, speech and action. There are some Mitzvot which require a Jew to think in a particular way. For example, the first of the Ten Commandments demands belief in Hashem.

Other Mitzvot are dependent on speech. For example, one must verbally recall Shabbos…. not lie to the Beis Din or speak badly of another. Finally, there are many Mitzvot which utilize the Jew’s power of action. There are requirements to put on tefillin, shake the lulav, eat matzah, etc.

…Each of these three divisions reflect different interactions between man and Hashem.

Action… is entirely in an individual’s domain. He is not forced to do anything that he doesn’t want to do.

The actions of the Jew determine everything, even the ultimate success or failure of the peoples of the world. This idea is illustrated by Chazal:

“After Yisrael did that wicked act [the sin of the golden calf], Hashem wanted to grab the tablets from Moshe. However Moshe prevailed and snatched them back.”

To conclude, the actions of a Jew can have enormous consequences for good or for bad. Literally, everything depends upon it. And it could be that when the Jews received the Torah at Sinai they had all this in mind when they proclaimed: “All that Hashem has said, we will do and hear.” (Sefer Shemot, Perek 24, posuk 7)

We reflect on Shavu’ot about the story of Ruth, the Ger Tzeddeket who clung to Naomi saying;

“Do not urge me to leave you, to go back and not follow you. For wherever you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people are my people, and your G’d is my G’d; where you die, I will die and there I will be buried. Thus may Hashem do to me — and more! — if anything but death separates me from you.” (Megillat Ruth, Artscroll Tanach series, Perek 1, posukim 14-17, pages 79-81)

There was no mandate, no earthly obligation for Ruth to follow Naomi. She could have done what her sister-in-law Orpah did — they were both widowed of Naomi and Elimelech’s sons Machlon and Kilyon. When after the deaths of her husband and two sons, Naomi sought to return to Eretz Yisrael and bid the two widows to return to their Moabite people and land. Orpah tearfully left Naomi and returned to Moav, while Ruth clung to Naomi and her Jewishness thus charting her life unalterably along a Jewish path.

It’s important to focus on Ruth’s impact and her legacy, by way of the descendents of her union with Bo’az leading to Dovid HaMelech, and to the Ge’ula Shleima, the Ultimate Redemption, may we see and live it in our times. But it is also important to focus on the kindnesses of Bo’az toward Ruth, as a paradigm for how we should act with kindness and honesty toward the Ger, as well as the Ba’al Teshuva and the Oleh Chadash.

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! Chag Some’ach!

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