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Israel and The Sin of Expulsion

Dayenu 5774: “Being There” at the Pesach Seder and Remembering, Respecting Our Brethren — Then and Now

Filed under: News Reports, Commentary & Human Interest on Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off







Shalom Friends;

Our Pesach vort is being sponsored anonymously Lilui Nishmas for the Yahrtzeit of . To our anonymous donor, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Dayenu 5774: “Being There” at the Pesach Seder and Remembering, Respecting Our Brethren — Then and Now

by, Moshe Burt

This year will mark nineteen years, and my sixteenth Pesach in Eretz Yisrael, in which I have emailed, as it has become tradition with me from prior to my Aliyah, the rendition of Dayenu quoted from the book “Dear Brothers” by former Arutz Sheva columnist Haggai Segal. In each year, Dayenu holds a unique perspective, unlike the perspective of any previous year.

Each year, this author tries to put forth factors that relate to the state of B’nai Yisrael — right here and right now.

And so, the insights and lessons, both current and previous, brought in the quoted rendition of Dayenu are vital now, just as they were in the first year that I emailed this vort out or, for that matter, as vital as they were when it was quoted in Segal’s compilation of the book in its copyright year 1988.

As we approach Pesach 5774, we take time again to ponder this brief section about Dayenu and wonder what lessons and tests of emunah, Jewish unity and collective Jewish self-esteem Hashem has handed us or will toss our way as a Klal which might approach or exceed his tests of our forefathers in Mitzrayim; i.e., taking the Mitzri avodah zora — that parody about“Tying the Korban Pesach to the Bedpost Overnight”, then slaughtering it, and applying its blood to our doorposts so that the Moloch HaMavet passes over our Jewish homes… and eating it at the Seder table on the night before going out from Mitzriyim. Are we there? Can we place our mindsets there?

The Artscroll Pesach Haggadah based on Talmudic, Midrashic and Rabbinic Sources, by Rabbi Joseph Elias (Overview, page xxxiii) provides 2 citings:

‘Just as in the days of your going out from Egypt will I show wonders to them.’ (Michah Perek 7, posuk 15)

‘In the night of Pesach all that happened in Egypt renews and bestirs itself; and this itself helps to bring the ultimate redemption.’ (Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto)

Are we really there? Are we really into having that personal dialogue with Hashem three times daily? Or, are we merely, one-two-six, carrying out the by-rote rabbinic injunction and obligation with Aleinu on-the-fly? And similarly, at the Pesach Seder, Are WE really there?

Are WE really B’yachad with our brethren, even on the Seder night and even with our brethren whose Hashkafot, learned from their parents and Rabbonim, may not be totally in accord with that inculcated to us? Can we feel and understand how it was to be in Mitzrayim, how it was to live through the generations following the death of Yosef HaTzaddik and through the evolution of the enslavement and persecution of B’nai Yisrael by Pharoah and the Mitzriyim? As we make the primary focus of our Pesach Seder experience toward the young children, are we adults still able to direct the Seder experience in such a way as to instill, among the other age segments around the Seder table, insights and transplantations such that they feel as if they are/were there and experiencing the dire pain of their ancestors?

What tests akin to the Korban Pesach, or Kri’yat Yom Suf (crossing the Reed Sea) does Hashem have in mind us this Pesach, as Moshiach approaches B’ezrat Hashem? How will HaKodosh Borchu test OUR mettle, both individually and as a kehal, as a nation, as Jews? Do we have the backbone, the “fire in the belly” to unify with our brethren who may not be exactly like us and to stand up and physically express in a multitude of ways our Jewish sovereignty, connection with and our Divine Mandate of ownership of Eretz Yisrael? Do we have the intestinal fortitude to compel our rabbinic and national leaders’ loyalty to one Jonathan Pollard who has suffered endlessly for 29 years that Medinat Yisrael would survive and thrive in Eretz Yisrael? Do we have the inner strength and gumption to do right, whatever it takes, by our fellow Jews? Are the modern-day tests akin to the tests, the challenges our brethren faced in the day of Pharoah and Mitzrayim? Or the days of Esther, Mordechai, the evil Haman and KingAchashveirosh??

Dayenu!!!

My Introduction

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

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

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

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

“The fourteen verses in the song Dayenu (It would have sufficed) have drawn the attention of the commentators throughout the ages. Why should we imply that we could forgo even one of the gifts given to us by Hashem three thousand years ago? How would we have gotten along at all without every one of them? The truth is that this part of the Haggadah has only one aim: to teach us how each and every generation of Jews tends to settle for the achievements of the past, to settle for what its forefathers had accomplished — and to rest on its laurels, with no aspiration for anything not achieved thus far. We, too, right here have that same tendency to say Dayenu — ‘It would have sufficed for us.’

The State of Israel? Dayenu. Unified Jerusalem and liberated Hebron? Dayenu. Wasn’t it just last year at the Seder [before the 6-day War — MB] that we said, ‘If Hashem had given us Israel but had not given us Jerusalem and Hebron — dayenu? That’s why we’ve got to know that we’ll be facing many more ‘dayenus’ until we reach full redemption.”

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

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

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

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

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

Dayenu seems to mean building Jewish self-esteem as we recognize the great chessed that Hashem has done for us with every gift that He has given to the Jewish people from Yetziyat Mitzrayim until now as well as the chessed inherent in the gifts yet to come — B’Ezrat Hashem; Moshiach, Ge’ula Shlaima, Torah leadership and government and an end to the current and often cruel, brutal, heartless, totalitarian, dictatorial governance of Memshelet Yisrael.

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

Having read the sefer “Let My Nation Go” by Yosef Deutsch, it is interesting that, after some 402 pages of describing the evolvement of the Jewish enslavement in Mitzrayim, Moshe’s birth and time in Pharaoh’s palace, Hashem’s placement of leadership upon Moshe, the Divine Makkot upon the Mitzriyim, Hashem’s release of B’nai Yisrael from enslavement and finally, the crossing of the Yom Suf (the sea) with Pharaoh and the Mitzriyim in full persuit — on the sefer’s final couple of pages, Deutsch indicates that when the Jews saw the dead Mitzriyim float up to the surface with all of their riches and booty, there were some among them who had the unmitigated chutzpah to suggest that with all the booty in their possession, they should go back and take over Egypt.

The sefer “Let My Nation Go”, and indeed the Pesach seder, also holds within an important lesson for the Jews in Chutz L’Aretz. That lesson is how the 70 beings who went down to Mitzrayim with Yaakov Aveinu grew, mushroomed and evolved into viewing that residence as their permanent home, due to their understanding, passed on from prior generations of residence in Mitzrayim. The lesson is how assimilation — calling their country of residence “home”, thus conforming to and melding into the general population resulted in our losing our Jewish identity, spirituality and connection in the process. It is a lesson inherent in the Pesach seder and one which seems an imperative, as fundamental an imperative as that ALL Jews belong being in Eretz Yisrael — our biblical, historical homeland and the only place where a Jew can live feeling spiritually and Jewishly whole and completed.

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

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

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

Good Yom Tov! Chag Kosher V’Some’ach and, remember: BE THERE at the Pesach Seder!
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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 5774: Torah’s Standard of Elevating the Jew Above the Nations and Above Animals

Filed under: News Reports, Commentary & Human Interest on Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Parshat Acharei Mos 5774: Torah’s Standard of Elevating the Jew Above the Nations and Above Animals

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 א (Alef) and Adar ב (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.

Near the end of our parsha, Torah devotes two entire perakim (Sefer Vayikra, chapters 17 and 18) to both discussing and distinguishing the kosher slaughter of consecrated (holy) animals for offerings and unconsecrated kosher slaughter of animals for food while disallowing ingestion of unslaughtered dead or mutilated animals, as well as reminding Am Yisrael that “a high level of moral conduct was expected” of them in order to remain Hashem’s “most favored” people. (Sefer “L’lmod U’lamed”, by Rabbi Mordechai Katz, page 114).

Near the end of our parsha, Torah lists numerous forbidden, illicit relationships and practices in Sefer Vayikra Perek 18. Sefer “L’lmod U’lamed”, by Rabbi Mordechai Katz (page 114) further states on this perek:

…Adultery and illicit marriages were outlawed. Other nations were destroyed because their members had exhibited immoral behavior, and the same fate would befall Bnei Yisrael if they acted likewise.

Along with listing various immoral, forbidden forms of familial and communal relationships and avodah zora (idolatry), Torah teaches (Sefer Vayikra, chapter 18, posukim 22-23):

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

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

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

The Artscroll Stone Chumash adds on posuk 22:

The chapter of immorality ends with two forms of sexual perversion: homosexuality and bestiality. The harshness with which Torah describes them testifies to the repugnance in which Hashem holds those who engage in these unnatural practices.

So the question could be asked: Why does the perek specifying immoral, illicit and abominable relationships (perek 18) immediately follow the perek which distinguishes consecrated animals (animals designated as offerings) from unconsecrated animals and the ingestion of kosher slaughtered animals from unkosher dead animals and animals slain by other means?

The answer could lie in the saying which is suggested in various places in Torah and by commentators: “You are what you eat.” R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z’l in the new Hirsch Chumash (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Rabbi Daniel Haberman) notes at the beginning of perek 18 in our parsha (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 18, page 563):

The(ir) purpose is to train man not to allow his essential nature to absorb animal nature; not to imitate the animal’s life of instincts and turn it into a human ideal. The most powerful of these instincts is sexual life. The moral control over this instinct is the cornerstone of all personal and national flowering. The purpose of the laws contained in the present chapter (perek 18) is to regulate sexual life according to Hashem’s command…

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

Good Shabbos! Chag Kosher V’Same’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 Metzora 5774: The Kohen and the Metzora — “Meeting Halfway”

Filed under: News Reports, Commentary & Human Interest on Thursday, March 27th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat HaShevua Metzora is being sponsored by Benjamin and Gina Fishman and Family of Ramat Beit Shemesh. To the Fishman 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 be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Metzora 5774: The Kohen and the Metzora — “Meeting Halfway”

by Moshe Burt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It would seem to this author that while the metzora, seemingly healed, would have to be brought to the Kohen, that the Kohen has the final call as to whether the afflicted has healed, has indeed purified himself. Only once the metzora is deemed as purified, can he re-enter the camp. Seemingly, for that reason, the Kohen must come to the metzora, therefore leaving the camp.

Yehuda Nachshoni, in “Studies in the Weekly Parsha” (pages 733-734) cites S’forno and other commentators with deeper meaning regarding the healed metzora being brought to the Kohen and the Kohen going out of the camp to the metzora:

S’forno gives… basis for a new halachic insight. Not only did the Torah require the Kohen to go out to the metzora, it also required the metzora to go out to the Kohen. Thus, the Torah requires the metzora to come to the nearest possible place so that the Kohen should not have to travel a great distance. The metzora is to be brought to the closest point outside the camp so that the Kohen can see him without excessive effort.

The Gaon of Lutzk, in his Oznayim LeTorah explains the reason for this commandment. One cause of nega’im is pride. If the Kohen would go to the metzora, the latter would be conceited by that fact. Therefore he has to come to the Kohen.

Sifsei Kohen takes the exact opposite approach. The Kohen must go out to the metzora to show him respect. This is because the metzora who was sent out of the camp was publically humiliated; now that he has been healed, he is entitled to be shown respect in compensation. It is for that reason that the Kohen goes out to him.

Ohel Yaakov explains that the stress on “He will be brought out to the Kohen” is so that the metzora will learn an ethical lesson in realizing that life and death are in the power of the tongue. The Kohen takes him out of his tumah through the word of his mouth. He does not become tohar [pure] until the kohen says the word “tohar.” This is measure for measure, for he [the metzora] became tamei because of his words.

It does seem to this author that this “meeting halfway” between the Kohen and metzora has its practical contemporary lessons in various arenas among the diverse sectors of observant Jews in Israel.

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

Chodesh Tov and Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Tazria 5774: Ascertaining Individual/National Ta’amei/Tahara and Individual/National Sincerity of Contrition in Teshuvah

Filed under: News Reports, Commentary & Human Interest on Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat HaShevua Tazria is being sponsored by Baruch & Yaffa Swinkin of Ramat Beit Shemesh in honor their daughter Racheli’s Bat Mitzvah. 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 be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Tazria 5774: Ascertaining Individual/National Ta’amei/Tahara and Individual/National Sincerity of Contrition in Teshuvah

by Moshe Burt

In learning about the laws of tzara’as, we find posukim which are a pelah, a wonderment.

Torah relates in our Parsha;

“If the tzara’as will erupt on the skin, and … will cover the entire skin of the afflicted from his head to his feet, wherever the eyes of the Kohen can see — the Kohen shall look, and behold! — the affliction has covered his entire flesh, then he shall declare the affliction to be pure; having turned completely white, it is pure. On the day healthy skin appears …, it (the affliction) shall be contaminated.” (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 13, posukim 12 - 14)

Torah informs that one so contaminated by tzara’as is known as a Metzora. (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 14, posuk 2)

In “Studies in the Weekly Parsha” (pages 726-727), Yehuda Nachshoni cited a quote from R’ Simchah Bunim of P’shischa which states:

“Loshen hora … utilizes man’s animalistic instinct only for evil purposes, simply to destroy and tear apart, just as a wild animal.”

The Chafetz Chayim, R’ Yisrael Meir HaKohen, in his sefer “The Concise Book of Mitzvot”, lists as Negative Commandments #77 and #79 (pages 162-169) and comments citing sources:

#77/ It is a negative commandment not to tell anyone things that another person said against him.

#79/ It is a negative commandment not to shame one’s fellow man.

The Sages of blessed memory taught (Talmud Yerushalmi, Pe’ah i, See Rambam, Yad Hilchot de’ot vii 3): For three transgressioons punishment is exacted from a person in this world, and he has no share in the world-to-come: iddolatry, incest or adultery and bloodshed. But evil gossip is equal in seriousness to them all…. And our Sages of blessed memory said, too (Devarim Rabbah, v 10): Evil gossip kills three; the one who tells it, the one who accepts it, and the one about whom it is told….

R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z’l provides commentary in the new Hirsch Chumash (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Daniel Haberman) on the posukim at the beginning of our Parsha regarding Negi’yim — spots, Tzoras (Sefer Vayikra, Parsha Tazria, pages 420-422):

…Every spot of tzoras that strikes a member of the Jewish nation is to remind him of the experience of Miriam. This will lead him to careful observance of relevant halachot. Every spot of tzoras, is to be regarded as punishment for social wrongdoing; and the confinement outside the camp — national area around the Sanctuary of the Torah — has no other purpose or reason than…. to instilll in man the awareness of his unworthiness.

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

Why just for the Metzora is it ordained, ‘…He shall dwell apart, outside the camp shall his dwelling be’? (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 13, posuk 46) He induced a rift between a man and his wife, between a man and his neighbor; therefore he too, is to be seperated from everyone and remain alone outside the camp.

In a wider sense, seven social sins are cited (Arachin 16a) as causes of negi’yim [spots]…. “slander, the shedding of blood, perjury, sexual immorality, arrogance, robbery and stinginess.”

…These sins and faults are… attributed to the organs of the body which are misused in practicing them…. Thus, the eyes, the mouth, the hands, the heart, the feet — in short, the whole person is despised by Hashem…. Instead of using his organs and faculties that have been granted to him to conduct himself with humility and truth, to practice lovingkindness, justice and good deeds, and to speak words of truth and peace, he has become the opposite of all these. Hence he is despised and abominated by Hashem, who sends a mark upon his body as a sign of his anger; thus He expels him from the social sphere…, so that he recognize his guilt and reflect on rectifying his character.

With all of this in mind, let’s return to the case of tzara’as erupting on the skin, and covering the entire skin of the afflicted from his head to his feet, everywhere visible to the Kohen. The Artscroll; Stone Edition Chumash (page 613), comments citing R’ Hirsch, z’l on Sefer Vayikra, Perek 13, posuk 13:

“…Someone whose entire skin has turned white is so morally corrupt that he’s too convinced of his rectitude to think of changing. There is no point in continuing to isolate him. By telling him … that all hope for his ability to improve is gone, Torah shows him dramatically how low he has sunk.”

In a point this author has made through the years, which bears repeating yet again; a number of years ago, this author saw a National Council of Young Israel weekly Parsha sheet (the parsha sheet subsequently misplaced by this author) which spoke of how Israel, in the depths of it’s corruption and idolatry during the reign of King Achav, nevertheless won all of it’s wars.

The Encyclopedia of Biblical Personalities, by Yishai Chasidah, brings a quote from Mesechta Megillah 11a;

Three men ruled over the entire world — Achav, Nevuchadnezzar and Ahasuerus. The world was comprised of 252 provinces and Achav ruled over them all. (Esther Rabbah 1:5)

The Rav who prepared this Parsha HaShevua was indicating that, just as an individual whose affliction covered his own body because there seemed no hope for repentence, so too, when the spiritual level of a the nation seemed beyond rectification, they waged war successfully while being largely Ovdei Avodah Zorah. But yet, later on, when the Avodah Zora was more covert during a period of mass Teshuva, we lost Bayit Rishon.

One might follow-up on this equation by asking what the moral of this is for the Jewish people in contemporary times.

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

A great T’shuvah movement took hold in Eretz Yisrael and throughout the Jewish world after the Six Day War. And so, as this author understands, the essence of that National Council of Young Israel weekly Parsha sheet, just as a Melech (King) subsequent to Achav was dedicated to wiping out avodah zora such that its instances became more covert where they had previously been blatant and Am Yisrael subsequently suffered Korban Bayit Rishon and 70 years of Galut, the great T’shuvah movement after the Six Day War may have caused what may be understood as a collective national tzara’as to recede from covering the entire national body. As a result, derision and demonization of those who settled and built Yehuda and the Shomron, as well as the religious intensified among elitists and an increasingly leftist-controlled media, as well as among those few who held monopolistic control over national capital. Sectors in Israel, including amongst the religious, have become more openly polarized toward each other where previously animosity was beneathe the surface and subserviant to a national unity of purpose.

So we learn that as long as the tzara’as covers the entire, visible body, the afflicted is deemed pure, but when affliction recedes and no longer covers the entire visible body, the afflicted is deemed ta’amei (contaminated) and most be quarantined.

That may possibly be the message behind our current national travails as we mark nearly 104 months since Jew evicted Jew from Jewish land in Gush Katif and 4 Shomron towns, as well as the many subsequent events of horrendous displays of Jew against Jew to this very day. They all carry the shadow of corrupt political, judicial, bureaucratic, academia and media plans jeopardizing 100,000 or more Jews living in Yehuda and the Shomron. This message may also account for the seeming hamstrung western mindset of “no-win” by the IDF in the Lebanon conflict almost 8 years ago, Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in January, 2009 and in the case of the Gaza flotilla in May, 2010 — where the IDF soldiers, armed with paint guns, initially took several casualties while boarding the MV Mavi Marmara as they were beaten by terrorists armed with iron bars,knives and other weapons, before gaining the upper hand.

Now let us deal with the sincerity of an individual’s rectification of the aveirah of loshen hora — Motziya rah, which R’ Hirsch, z’l defined above as “a slander”, and how this author views such rectification when it would seem required on a national scope.

We learn in Parsha Tazria, as well as in upcoming Parshiyot that unity is the very essence of the Kohen.

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin in “Growth Through Torah” (page 253) cites the Rabbi of Alexander who cites as the reason why, when one suspected an affliction, with tzara’as, that “he must go to… the Kohen and not 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.” When 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.”

This trait of Aharon, his sons, of Pinchas; of conveying and facilitating unity was to be an inherent trait in Kohanim (priesthood) throughout the generations — with the Mishkan (Tabernacle), with both the Beit Hamikdash Rishon and Sheini (both the 1st and 2nd Temple) and down through the Galut to comtemporary times. It seems axiomatic; with peace, there is unity — between a Jew and his brother and on a national level amongst all groups and sectors of B’nai Yisrael.

In “Studies in the Weekly Parsha” (pages 726-727), Yehuda Nachshoni cited a quote from the S’fas Emes on our Parsha Metzora;

“In everything, there is a mixture of evil and good. And so with man. In general, good overcomes the evil, for there is more good. But one must be careful not to exclude evil from the community… ‘Guard your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit … seek peace and pursue it,’ which means that (the evil) is to be engulfed by the common good, as indicated in the act of taharah of metzora…’ The emphasis is to return to the source and to cleave to the root, and when one is within the common good he can be rectified.”

This explanation seems to add meaning to the words of the third and final section of Birkat Kohanim (Artscroll Mesorah Series Birkat Kohanim, pages 80-81); “V’Yaseim L’cha Shalom” — “and may He grant you peace.”

In light of the above, the message of the 2nd posuk of Parshat Metzora seems profound (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 14, posukim 2-4):

“This shall be the law concerning the Metzora when he is purified: he shall be brought to the Kohen. The Kohen shall go outside the camp, where he shall examine the Metzora to determine that the tzara’as has healed. The Kohen shall then order that for the person undergoing purification there be taken two live kosher birds, a piece of cedar, some crimson wool, and a hyssop branch.”

And, R’ Pliskin in “Growth Through Torah” (page 259) cites and explains an Ibn Ezra on why the purified former metzora is brought by another person to the Kohen:

…After the tzara’as clears up. he will not want to bring the offerings that he is responsible to bring.

When a person has tzara’as, he will definitely claim that of course he will bring the necessary offerings when the tzara’as clears up. But once he is cured, he can easily forget his obligations. Now that nothing is pressing him, he will focus on other things and not on meeting his obligations.

Some people find it difficult to meet their responsibilities. When they need favors from someone or want to impress someone, the might make many promises. But when the time comes to keep their obligations, they do all they can to avoid meeting them. A person with integrity will derive pleasure from meeting his responsibilities and not need others to coerce him to keep them.

This author finds R’ Pliskin’s explanation of Ibn Ezra a bit hard to understand in the context of the metzora; i.e. that it would be possible that one who was afflicted with tzara’as due to his loshen hora — slander, and did genuine teshuvah for his aveirah resulting in his purification, that such a person would avoid bringing the atonement offering to complete the teshuvah/purification process, thus continuing his slander.

But one can easily see the Ibn Ezra’s point that “teshuvah” followed by avoidance of obligations and responsibilities seems part of general human nature, as does loshen hora, and as does slander by way of complacent complicity, i.e. turning away from one’s fellow Jew’s matzav (difficulties) either on a one-to-one level, or on a national sectorial level. Whether it is the Jew who was cheated by a disreputable Jewish merchant or businessman, or the Jew who received committment for work - for a job under false pretenses, the aggrieved and battered spouse, or those who pled teshuvah for their lack of support and actions regarding the evicted former residents of Gush Katif, but who remain equally silent regarding the possible media-publicized machinations of the government, or who would actively support a repetition of Gush Katif on a wider, larger scale — to make biblical Jewish land Yudenrein, Ibn Ezra’s point and R’ Pliskin’s explanation seem mostly well-taken.

It seems to this author that to bring real peace and unity among B’nai Yisrael, we Jews need to rise above common human nature, answer to a higher authority, and care for our fellows — V’Ahavtah L’re’icha Komocha. Only then will our collective contrition for the previous aveirot be sincere and complete.

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

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Shemini 5774: Loving Wisdom = Taking Joy in the Wisdom of Others?

Filed under: News Reports, Commentary & Human Interest on Tuesday, March 18th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Parshat Shemini 5774: Loving Wisdom = Taking Joy in the Wisdom of Others?

by Moshe Burt

After learning in Parsha Tzav that for seven days, Moshe taught Aaron HaKohen and his sons the laws of their Avodah (the Kohanic Service, i.e. in the Tabernacle and later in the Beit HaMikdash — ” The Temple”) in the Mishkan, our Parsha Shemini begins by relating that on the eighth day, Aaron and his sons commenced their Avodah HaKodosh (Holy Service). It is interesting and ironic that our parsha is the other side of the term; “Tzav-Shemonah” which is the document or order issued by the Israel Defense Forces calling reservists to active duty in event of war. But the alignment of these two Parshiyot, one-after-the-other, seems to this author, to have deeper meaning, above and beyond mobilization and deployment in time of war. This deeper meaning seems to denote a constancy of vigilance, of guard over Am Yisrael and their connection to Hashem, to Torah and to their sanctity (consecration, purity, holiness). And with this constancy of vigilance of Am Yisrael’s sanctity, our Parsha also teaches us about Kashrut, and “abstain[ing] from impure, non-Kosher item[s].” (L’ilmode U’Lamed, by Rabbi Mordechai Katz, Parsha Shemini, page 108)

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

Our Parsha relates that:

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

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

In this Parshat HaShevua, this author discusses Moshe’s wisdom in recognizing the Halachic validity of Aaron and his surviving sons, Elazar and Ithamar, in their refrain from eating what would be their portions of the korban Rosh Chodesh due to their status of aveilut (mourning, shiva period) following the deaths of sons/siblings Nadav and Avihu.

The Artscroll Stone Chumash renders Sefer Vayikra, Perek 10, posukim 12-14, 16-20):

Moshe spoke to Aaron, and to Elazar and Ithamar, his remaining sons, “Take the meal-offering that is left from the fire-offerings of Hashem, and eat it unleavened near the Mizbeiyach [Altar], for it is the most holy. You shall eat it in a holy place, for it is your portion and the portion of your sons from the fire-offerings of Hashem, for so I have been commanded. And the breast of the waving and the thigh of the raising-up you shall eat in a pure place, you and your sons and daughters with you….”

Moshe inquired insistently about the he-goat of the sin-offering, for behold, it had been burned! — and he was wrathful with Elazar and Ithamar…, saying “Why did you not eat the sin-offering in a holy place, for it is most holy; and He gave it to you to gain forgiveness for the sin of the assembly and to atone for them before Hashem? …You should have eaten it in the Holy, as I had commanded.”

Aaron spoke to Moshe: “Was it they [Elazar and Ithamar] who this day offered their sin-offering and their elevation-offering before Hashem?

Now that such things befell me — were I to eat this day’s sin-offering, would Hashem approve?” Moshe heard and he approved.

The Artscroll Stone Chumash then renders these Rashi comments on Sefer Vayikra, Perek 10, posuk 19:

…This tragedy has made me an onen [a mourner], and therefore disqualified me from eating the sacrificial meat…

Would it have been proper for even me [Aaron] to eat the Rosh Chodesh offering? Surely Hashem would not have approved!

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his Sefer “Growth Through Torah” (page 251, re: Parshat Shemini) comments on the preceding dialogue as follows:

When you love wisdom you have joy for the wisdom of others.

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

…It is a rare quality to have such a love for wisdom that one derives pleasure when another person comes up with a good idea. What is special about Moshe’s joy was that he himself made an error and Aaron was right. Many people would feel upset that they had made a mistake. But not Moshe Rabbeinu. He was joyful that his brother had an awareness of truth, even though this meant that he [Moshe] was wrong. Moshe’s love of wisdom should serves as our model to strive for.

In following up on R’ Pliskin’s comments and citing of Sforno, this author has often found that one who has err’d tends to try to cover-up his error and/or act disdainfully toward the one who gets it right. When, in a contention for leadership where observant Jews contest, L’chatchila (L’khatkhila — the way things oughta be), there can be zero-tolerance for even a whiff of taint, of fraud. Actions such as a certain phone conversation in 1960 between a certain US presidential candidate and a certain mayor of the 2nd largest US city, i.e. “How many votes d’ya need?”, or videos showing voters attempting to apply for absentee ballots in multiple states in support of a certain 2012 presidential candidate L’chatchila just don’t fly — no excuses, no “everyone does it” in a Jewish election. It would seem that we, who profess to act with closeness to the Almighty are held to a higher calling — V’Ahavta L’rei’echa Komocha [acting with love and honesty] toward our fellow Jews. And those who would perpetrate fraud, taint upon their fellow Jews, no matter what the possible magnitude, need to have the wisdom l’chatchila to own-up to the error of their ways.

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brethren Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v’yameinu — 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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Purim 5774: The Poison Plot and Esther’s Humility — Keys to Jewish Redemption from Haman’s Eradication Plot

Filed under: News Reports, Commentary & Human Interest on Tuesday, March 11th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Purim 5774: The Poison Plot and Esther’s Humility — Keys to Jewish Redemption from Haman’s Eradication Plot

by Moshe Burt

This vort endeavors to explore and reconcile two insights, from amongst the “127 Insights into Megillat Esther” (compiled from the words of Chazal by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach of Jerusalem) which are, in many instances, expanded upon in the sefer, “Let My People Live”, by Yosef Deutsch. These two insights seem central to the saving of the Jews and their re-acceptance of Torah.

Mordekhai gets word of Haman’s plot to eradicate the Jews. Esther is already positioned as Queen for nine years, after King Akhashveirosh of Persia, in a drunken stupor, accepted and carried out the advice of the most crude and nobility-lacking of his counselors, Memukhan — later known as Haman — who called for queen Vashti’s execution. Mordekhai summons Esther to entreat the king, in his court, regarding the threat to the Jews.

It’s not the first time that Mordekhai summoned Esther to use the power of her throne in defense of her people. There was the assassination plot of two of the king’s servants, Bigsan and Seresh, both of whom hailed from Tarshish (”Let My People Live”, by Yosef Deutsch, page 142 citing R’ Shmuel di Uzidah, sefer Melo HaOmer). The two spoke openly about their plot in their native tongue Tarsi (The Artscroll Tanach Series: The Megillah, The Book of Esther, Chapter 2, notes to posuk 22, page 63 citing gemura Megillat 13b), a seemingly obscure foreign tongue. Seated about 20 paces away from where Bigsan and Seresh hatched their plot and unbeknownst to them, Mordekhai overheard their assassination plot. Mordekhai, a former member of the Sanhedrin (the Jewish High Court) had to be fluent in all 70 of the world’s languages, which included Tarsi, to sit in as a member of that body. The story goes that Mordekhai got word to Esther who informed the King, giving full credit for disclosure of the plot to Mordekhai (despite Mordechai’s wish that his name not be mentioned), taking no credit for herself. (”Let My People Live”, by Yosef Deutsch, page 147)

But, in the case of Haman’s plot and decree against the Jews, Esther is nervous. A bit of background here: according to laws enacted during the reign of Dar’yovesh (Darius) in the aftermath of Balshazzar’s assasination, and updated, with additional provisions and strictly enforced by Haman, she can’t just enter the king’s court without first having been summoned. Such a violation would be seen as “a major breach in security” (”Let My People Live”, by Yosef Deutsch, page 222 citing Aggadas Esther; Menos HaLevi; Akeidah). In fact, Deutsch indicates (page 222 of “Let My People Live”) that Haman would screen all visitors to the king lest anyone reveal that he (Haman) “once sold himself to Mordechai” or lest anyone speak up for the Jews or advocate for rebuilding the Beit HaMikdash. Deutsch also indicates that Esther queried:

“Do you think that he will let me set up an appointment? He hates me! Whenever he sees me, he remembers that if it hadn’t been for me, he might have had his daughter sitting on the throne.” (”Let My People Live”, by Yosef Deutsch, page 222 citing Targum; Rokeach; Targum Rishon; Menos HaLevi)

Esther fears being put to death, not out of fear for her own life, but out of fear of being put to death, and thus being unable to act to save her people.

Megillat Esther (Perek 4, posukim 5 - 16) tell of the dialogue of messages transmitted between Mordechai and Esther and of Esther’s hesitation to approach King Achashveirosh, unsummoned (a crime of protocal punishable by death) on behalf of her people.

In the climactic 13th and 14th posukim, Mordechai responds to Esther’s message:

“Do not imagine that you will be able to escape in the King’s palace any more than the rest of the Jews. For if you persist in keeping silent at a time like this, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another place… And who knows whether it was just for such a time as this that you attained the royal position.”

Esther’s nervousness and hesitation regarding Haman’s decree against the Jews seemed to this author to be puzzling in light of her apparent ease of access in informing Akhashveirosh of the assassination plot (the “poison plot”)? Wouldn’t the Queen, as royalty, be exempted from laws denying access to the King?

The key seems to be that the “poison plot” occurred early in Esther’s reign as Queen, just prior to Haman’s rise to power as Viceroy and his resultant strict enforcement of laws regarding access to the King. Either the Queen may have previously been exempted from laws regarding access to the King, or the enforcement of the law initiated under Dar’yovesh may have been lax or non-existent or the King and his new Queen regularly spent evenings together providing Esther with the timely access necessary to expose the plot. Consider this part of dialogue spoken between Bigsan and Seresh (”Let My People Live”, by Yosef Deutsch, page 143, citing Megillah 13b with Rashi; Ben Yehoyada; R’ Yosef ibn Yachia; Alshich):

“You think you have problems, Bigsan? Be happy that you are not in my shoes. Ever since that Gorilla, as you call him — perhaps a bear would be be more appropriate? ever since he married that Esther he spends all his evenings in her company, and I have to be available at all times to bring him drinks. And after he’s full of drinks, what do you think he has to do?”

“Relieve himself?”

“Exactly. And I am the one who has the high honor of attending him while he relieves himself….”

But it would seem that after the “poison plot”, with Haman’s almost immediate rise to power, things changed radically in the palace, including in access to the monarch. And on top of that, it seemed that Esther’s access to the King became more and more infrequent in the timeframe of Haman’s plot to destroy the Jews. The Artscroll Tanach Series: The Megillah, The Book of Esther explains (notes to Perek 4, posuk 11, page 78) that, in expressing her concerns and hesitation, Esther tells Mordekhai:

“It’s already been thirty days, that I was not summoned by the King….”

Despite Esther’s hesitation in entreating the King, in his court, regarding the threat to the Jews, the dye resulting from Esther’s humbly informing the King, in Mordechai’s name, of the “poison plot” had been cast. Rabbi Weinbach (”127 Insights into Megillat Esther”, page 88) writes:

Mordechai’s decision to report his discovery to Esther rather than directly to the king can… be understood as a means of laying the groundwork for Esther’s redemptive action. But what is the connection between crediting the source and redemption?

To be worthy of the role of redeemer, one must possess absolute humility. The final redeemer of Israel is portrayed by the navi as the personification of humility, “a poor man riding on a donkey” (Zechariyah 9:9). By resisting temptation to take credit for saving the king’s life, thereby endearing herself to him even more, Esther demonstrated this humility.

Thus, Esther HaMalka fits the Moshe Rabbeinu model of selflessness and humility. May we soon see the redemptive emulation of these traits, speedily, in our days.

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

Purim Some’akh!
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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 Tzav 5774: The Bamidbar Paradigm of Jewish Constancy, Self-Control Vs Today’s Rote, Intellectual Complacency, Laxity and Assimilation?

Filed under: News Reports, Commentary & Human Interest on Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat HaShevua Tzav is being sponsored by Dr. Pinchas & P’nina Klahr of Ramat Beit Shemesh, Lilui Nishmas for the Yahrtzeit of Avraham Moshe ben Mordechai which is on Tet Adar Bet. To the Klahr 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 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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Parsha Tzav 5774: The Bamidbar Paradigm of Jewish Constancy, Self-Control Vs Today’s Rote, Intellectual Complacency, Laxity and Assimilation?

by Moshe Burt

In our Parsha, Tzav is Moshe’s command from Hashem to Aaron HaKohen and his sons to take up and clothe themselves in their Vestments, their garments of service in the Mishkan, and to begin their daily Avodah (service and offerings in the Mishkan).

For seven days, Moshe taught Aaron HaKohen and his sons the laws of their Avodah in the Mishkan. (You might say that they were given, as one could term it in the US, OJT from Shemayim.) On the eighth day, Aaron and his sons began their Avodah.

We are taught in our Parsha about the two flames which burn continuously; the flickering light of the Menorah and the powerful flame of the Mizbeiyach (the altar where the various offerings to Hashem were brought). These two flames which burned constantly teach us that a balance must exist between strength and power and modesty and humility. These fires teach us about maintaining a consistency between enthusiasm and constancy. (L’lmod Ul’Lamed, Rabbi Mordechai Katz, Parsha Tzav, page 103-104)

Rabbi Pliskin writes in the Sefer “Growth Through Torah” on our Parsha that one should “view each new day as the first day of your life.” (Growth Through Torah, page 242-243) We later learn that Aaron HaKohen approached his daily avodah over his entire lifetime with a level of enthusiasm as if it were his first day of service in the Mishkan.

In illustrating the point of “…each new day as the first day…”, R’ Pliskin cites a commentary of R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z’l on Vayikra (Perek 6, posuk 4):

“…Carry forth the ashes out of the camp…”

Every trace of yesterday’s sacrifice is to be removed from the hearth of the Altar, so that the service of the new day can be started on completely fresh ground. Given these considerations, we can understand the law which prescribes the wearing of worn-out garments when one is occupied with the achievements of the previous day. The past is not to be forgotten. But it is to be retired to the background, and is not to invest us with pride before the fresh task to which each day calls us.

Rebbetzin Shira Smiles, in her sefer “Torah Tapestries,” (Sefer Vayikra, page 23-24, 28, 38) cites a Sefas Emes (page 25) which quotes Rashi in contrasting these two flames:

He [The Sefas Emes] interprets… Rashi as alluding to two different kinds of fire: a fire that provides light and a fire that burns. From here, one can suggest that the aish tamid represents two kinds of fire within us. On one hand, we have an aish me’irah - an enlightening fire that is the light of knowledge. This fire is fueled by the intellect. The second fire is one that generates heat and energy and is fueled by emotions; aish sorefes – burning – is the fire of passion and enthusiasm….. This dual symbolism… the aish tamid… find[s] relevant lessons for our lives.

Let us explore the connection between the aish tamid and the korban olah. A korban olah was burned completely; nothing remained for a person to consume, unlike other kinds of korbanos, which were at least partially eaten. One of the transgressions that necessitated a korban olah was sinful thoughts. (Midrash Says, page 61) If a person realized that his mind was occupied with thoughts of forbidden matters, he could mitigate this problem by bringing a korban olah, an offering that is given over completely to Hashem.

The aish tamid within our minds needs to be constantly attached to Torah to prevent forbidden thoughts. But does this answer imply that we are held accountable for our sinful thoughts simply because we weren’t engaged in enough Torah study?

…The aish tamid is discussed in context with the korban olah: the korban was offered as a tikkun (corrective measure) by a person who wished to purify his thoughts, i.e. his intellectual aspect. We also understand why the chatas seems to be secondary to the korban olah. A korban chatas comes to correct sinful actions, which are of secondary importance as compared to our sinful thoughts, for which a korban olah should be brought.

We have seen how our aish tamid – our fire for Hashem – must be in our minds and in our hearts. The intellect and the emotions compliment each other. The fire of the mind is one of discipline and training. While this steadfast quality is valuable for establishing healthy thinking habits, any repetition can become rote and dry. The fire of emotions within us binds us in a deeper relationship with Hashem.

However, flames have different levels of intensity and at times they can burn irrationally and out of control. Held in balance, together, these two fires combine into central qualities necessary to help us grow closer to Hashem.

With these understandings of the significances of the two flames, R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z’l in the new Hirsch Chumash (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Rabbi Daniel Haberman) comments on Parsha Tzav’s second posuk in which Moshe commands Aaron and his sons regarding their service in the Mishkan (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 6, posuk 2, page 194):

…Hashem has granted man a share of the infinite outpouring of His Intellect, a share of His holy free Will, a share of His creative Power which dominates the world. Thus Hashem has raised man beyond the bounds of the physical world, set him upright, and made him master over the world — in order that he serve Hashem in it. In the very carrying out of a day’s work, man fulfills the Will of Hashem.

In the heathen perception, the day is a struggle of mortals against the power of the gods. To the Jew, day means serving Hashem, and through his work, he brings Hashem satisfaction.

Physical nature is not an intermediary between the Jews and Hashem. For the man of Israel stands above physical nature; he stands directly before Hashem.

But many among our Jewish brethren have let their guard down, have eased off into complacency, or have turned totally away from their Jewishness. Many of our brethren deny Hashem’s control of the world and/or seek to tailor Torah and their Jewishness to fit the ways of the nations; to assimilate, to melt rather than accepting Hashem’s reishut (command) over the world. There are those of our brethren who live by a huge misconception, who think that tailor-fitting their Jewishness to fit in with the nations, that assimilation — melting, that accepting Superpower dictates rather than Divine law, will somehow endear and ingratiate them to the non-Jew, to the Gentile nations.

And of those who have clung to Jewish faith and traditions, many seem to have sunk into a complacency of rote, of habit, of expediency and who seem to have lost touch with the deeper meanings and intent of Halachot, of their prayers, their service, their chesed and traditions.

So, rather than the “tailored” Jew ingratiating himself, and those like him, to the Gentile, the Gentile nations instead view us with contempt, as hypocrites, as lacking principles when Jews and Jewish Israeli political leaders are repeatedly seen openly desecrating Shabbos, openly eating trief (non-kosher food), etc. R’ Hirsch gives particular meaning to this point when he wrote in the sixth of his “Nineteen Letters” (as translated and with commentary on each of the letters by Rabbi Joseph Elias, pages 106-107):

…This people [the Jews] came to constitute the cornerstone on which humanity could be reconstructed. Recognition of Hashem and of man’s calling found a refuge in this nation and would be taught to all through its fate and its way of life, which were to serve as a manifest example, a warning, an education.

For the sake of this mission, however, Yisrael could not join in the doings of the rest of the nations…. It has to remain separate until the day on which all mankind will have absorbed the lessons of its [Yisrael’s] experiences and the example of of this nation, and will united turn toward Hashem. Joining with Yisrael at that time, mankind will then acknowledge Hashem as the sole basis for its existence, and “as Hashem is one, the recognition of his name will be one.”

Hmmm, doesn’t this last phrase of the above citing, “as Hashem is one, the recognition of his name will be one”, sound very much like a phrase from Aleinu (It is Our Duty) which most of the K’hal blows off in it’s rush to say kaddish and its collective mad dash out of Shul after each davening???

For those Jews who say Dayenu: enough — this will suffice — regarding their Jewishness, it’s an imperative to revisit the lessons of the Mitzri memory (or lack thereof) of Yosef, as well as the dialogue between Haman Y’machsh’mo and Ahasuerus — Haman’s top 10 reasons for seeking the annihilation of the Jews as found in gemura Megillat Esther Daf Yud Gimmel (page13), amud (side) Bet, and the contemporary Nuremberg Laws of Nazi Germany. Neither Pharaoh, Haman nor Hitler Y’machsh’mom, made any distinction among kinds of Jews or between the Religious or Secular Jew. Perhaps, only blatant anti-semitism, harrassment or persecution are sufficient impetus to awaken the pintele yid from Jewish lethargy and indifference.

There is a message here to be taken from Purim, and on to Pesach, into the Seder; A Jew is a Jew is a Jew, period. You might change your name, compromise your principles, morals and integrity, try to adopt some other religion, intermarry or have a liberal or leftist outlook toward those seeking your destruction. But, in the end, you can’t run and you can’t hide from from the fact that YOU are a Jew. So we, in our generations — from Israeli political leadership down to the masses, might as well start being, internalizing and acting Jewish?

And so, while we’re at it, we in the religious sectors ought to draw lessons from, and emulate Aaron HaKohen’s consistent lifetime level of enthusiasm for and diligence with his service as Kohen Godol. We should apply the lessons derived from Aaron HaKohen to our own indvidual tefillot, i.e. reversing the often shotgun-like six minute by-rote Shemonah Esrei and speed-of-light sub-one minute Aleinu, as well as renewing our enthusiasm for our Avodah as Jews and for our Mitzvot. Laxity, rushed expedience in tefillot and Mitzvot are the mark of rote, mere habit, complacency and ultimately, insensitivity. No less than Rabbi Reichman of Yeshiva University discussed the need for Teshuvah regarding tefillot in a video shiur designed to be viewed during Asseret Yomei Teshuvah.

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

Good Shabbos!
_______________________________________

Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Vayikra 5774: Distinguishing True, Strong, Yet Humble Leaders From the Fraudulent Incumbents

Filed under: News Reports, Commentary & Human Interest on Tuesday, March 4th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat HaShevua Vayikra is being sponsored by Dr. Dov & Debbie Rosen of Ramat Beit Shemesh. To the Rosen family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

Please 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 Vayikra 5774: Distinguishing True, Strong, Yet Humble Leaders From the Fraudulent Incumbents

By Moshe Burt

The first word of our parsha; Vayikra is the source of much discussion as to why the word ends with a small “aleph” and tells much about Moshe Rabbeinu’s level of principle, integrity and his standard of leadership of B’nei Yisrael.

We are told how Hashem, Kav’yochal, would call gently, affectionately “Moshe, Moshe” in a voice for Moshe Rabbeinu’s ears only and Moshe would respond “Here I am.” (Rashi on Sefer Vayikra, Perek 1, posuk 1 — Metsuda Linear Chumash & Rashi with footnotes)

Moshe, always shirking honor, kavod, special treatment, or the perception of special treatment, fought “tooth to nail” that this first word, which would typify Hashem’s greeting when he wanted to speak privately with him in the Mishkan, should read “Vayikar.” This loshen “Vayikar” was later used when Hashem “happened to meet Bila’am” (Rashi on Perek 1, posuk 1) in Parsha Balak, like “…strangers who just met on the way”.

R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z’l in the new Hirsch Chumash (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Rabbi Daniel Haberman) renders translation of our Parsha’s opening posuk:

“And He called to Moshe, and Hashem spoke to him from the Tent of Appointed Meeting [Mei-Ohel Mo’ed], saying:” (Hirsch Chumash, Sefer Vayikra, page 1, Perek 1, posuk 1)

Rebbetzin Shira Smiles, in her sefer “Torah Tapestries,” (Sefer Vayikra page 5) cites both Rashi and Rabbi Shimshon Dovid Pincus regarding one’s name as background for Hashem’s expression of “Vayikra” — Hashem’s gentle, loving calls to Moshe for private meetings:

The opening phrase “vayikra el Moshe” teaches us that Hashem called to Moshe by his name. Rashi explains that the alef at the end of the word “vayikra” comes to emphasize how Hashem spoke lovingly to Moshe, in contrast to Hashem’s speaking to Bila’am, in which the word “vayikra” is spelled without the alef – vayiker (which has a connotation of a relationship that is neither permanent norloving). Rabbi Shimshon Dovid Pincus elaborates on the idea that calling someone by name is an expression of love… The giving of a name does not stem from a general parental love. Rather, it is an expression of personal, individual love. Each child in a family is unique and is granted a specific name, exclusive to him. Every son or daughter is individually loved for the distinctive qualities he or she embodies.

Hashem’s wish for “Vayikra” carried the day, although he made the concession of the small “aleph.” Rashi’s understanding of the dialogue speaks volumes about the Dar’chim of humility, modesty and selflessness of Moshe Rabbeinu; his dedication to Hashem and to the people he leads, the B’nei Yisrael. But let kindness and humility not be confused with weakness. For we learn that Moshe Rabbeinu was a strong, yet just leader.

“The Midrash Says” on Sefer Vayikra (pages 1-5) goes further than Rashi’s understanding regarding the beginning of our parsha and the dialogue between Hashem and Moshe Rabbeinu about “Vayikra”.

“Midrash Says” speaks about Moshe’s all-pervasive humility which led him at various junctures to shy away from leadership feeling that “a more suitable substitute might be found.”

This author understands that the meaning and background of the very first word of our Parsha — Vayikra provides the paradigm for the posuk later in our Parsha:

“If the King commits a sin by unintentionally violating one of Hashem’s Commandments which he should not have done …” (Vayikra Perek 4, posuk 22).

Rabbi Pliskin in “Growth Through Torah” (page 238) comments:

“When in a position of power, have the courage to admit your mistakes.”

Rabbi Mordechai Katz, in his sefer L’lmod U’Lamed (page 102), writes about the Chatos offering in his snapshot on our Parsha:

[A] sin offering. An atonement for certain sins committed unintentionally by an individual, including the Kohen Godol (High Priest), the King, or the Sanhedrin (Supreme Court) as a whole. These include prohibitions punishable by Koros when done intentionally.

Rashi (Sefer Vayikra Perek 4, posuk 22) explains on the posuk:

“Fortunate is the generation whose leader is concerned to bring an atonement [offering] for his inadvertent transgressions — all the more so that he regrets his intentional transgressions.”

Rabbi Pliskin adds the comment:

“The king was a person with much power, and power gives a person such high feelings about himself that he is unlikely to admit that he has done anything wrong. For this reason, when the king with unlimited power admits that he erred and regrets what he has done, it is fortunate for his generation.” (Attributed to Maskil Ledovid.)

Rabbi Pliskin continues;

“People who are power-hungry have a … tendency to deny making mistakes. When such a person is in a position of authority, he is likely to consider himself so perfect that whatever he does and says must be correct.” The more power one has, the more compelling is the importance of possessing intellectual honesty and to admitting one’s error. (”Growth Through Torah”, page 238)

So it seems that the leader or king of a generation sets the tone, the norm of how those of his constituency live, act and treat each other. When a leader can be sooo colored by his own self-interest in arriving at decisions or taking actions, i.e. that he perceives that, to remain in power, he must appeal to the will of specific sectors out of lack of strength of personal principles, convictions or emunah (belief) in Hashem, and/or if he seeks self-aggrandizement above all else such that he will do anything and everything and at all costs — including bribery, graft, influence peddling, doing special favors for his friends, playing off opposing sectors of the governed population against each other — divide-and-conquer, and more in order to maintain his office, his title, his power and personal prestige and self-enrichment; How can we not question that leader’s true motivations at every step of his ill-gotten career? How can we not wonder what cynical sinat chinom lurks behind his total divorce from Torah, from his roots in Eretz Yisrael? And how can we measure the impact of the leader’s actions on even his offspring, i.e., one wins a Bible quiz, while the other allegedly dates a Non-Jew? And what of the damage, by example, to Am Yisrael of the spector of intermarraige by their leaders or their offspring? How can such leaders be permitted, under force of “political correctness” or agendized “legality” to, as Shem Mishmuel puts it, “defile Klal Yisrael both in the physical and spiritual sense?” (Shem Mishmuel, Parsha Zachor, page 159)

How can leaders of a nation who, with Hashem’s help, have utterly defeated enemies of vastly superior numbers in all previous wars, suddenly now render their nation handcuffed by Western “morality” and “super-power” dictates to commit national hari-kari, and rendered ham-strung and helpless by this Western “morality” versus locally-manufactured terror rockets and against enemies — both terrorist groups and enemy
government-sponsorship who strategically attack Jewish citizens behind cover of their own human-shield civilian population? How can such “Jewish” leaders have the unmitigated chutzpah to respond merely with either oft-repeated empty words or isolated military responses rather than mounting an all-out victorious action to permanently eradicate terror and evict the perpetrators and their “civilian (sic)” co-conspirators?

How can such “Jewish” leaders now be complicit with an Amalek-like enemy, both by not fighting Arab terror to a decisive, absolute, final defeat and by attempting, by many means, to destroy the very physical and spiritual fabric of Jewish unity and the Jewish people? How can a leader of such a nation have the unmitigated chutzpah to proclaim; “I’m too tired to fight, too tired to win …?” And how is it possible for a leadership, a governance in a Jewish state to ever accept 3rd party usurpation of Jewish sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael?

And is this seemingly willful complicity with and systemic appeasement of Amalek-like Arab terror (by way of Kassam or Katyusha Missiles and Islamikazi Suicide bombers), in fact, cover for the true agenda of the nation’s failed leaders and politicians? Is blind sinat chinom toward anything Jewish, in and of itself not Amalek-like in its attempt at defilement? Are the regime leaders hiding their misguided hatred of anything Jewish behind the facades like “we can’t eliminate terror rockets”, “we must abide by Obama’s “building freezes” or “I’m too tired …?”

Are we able distinguish real leadership, as in the paradigm of Moshe Rabbeinu — leadership which is strong and resolute yet with the attribute of humility, from the current crop of generations of political Amalekim within the camp who know our tendencies far better than the Amalek without and are thus more potent yet than the external Amalek?

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

Good Shabbos!
_______________________________________

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

Parshat Pekudei 5774: Moshe’s Pro-Active Transparency as Paradigm for Today’s Jewish Governance

Filed under: News Reports, Commentary & Human Interest on Wednesday, February 19th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Pekudei is being co-sponsored by Tzvi and Chavi Stern, Hersh Tzvi and Yitta Leventhal and by an anonymous donor. To our co-sponsors, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat Pekudei 5774: Moshe’s Pro-Active Transparency as Paradigm for Today’s Jewish Governance

by Moshe Burt

Rabbi Daniel Yormark of the Young Israel of Etingville, New York, wrote in a National Council of Young Israels D’var Torah on Parshat Vayakhel (25 Adar I, 5755 — 25 February, 1995):

Shabbat is not merely ‘a day off’…. It is not merely a day where there are so many things that I cannot do. It is a day when the Jew enters the realm of The One Above. It is a day when the the theme is Oneg, pleasure and delight. It is a day where even our indulging in physical pleasure can be elevated and becomes an integral part of mirroring Hashem. It is a day when concerns for mundane and ephemeral pursuits is inappropriate…. Shabbat is a Matanah Tovah — a very special gift.

To segui into Parshat Pekudei, just as Shabbos is very special, so was Moshe Rabbeinu, despite whatever the cronic complainers in the camp said. The two are intinsically linked and inseparable. Our Parsha follows immediately after Parshat Vayakhel, and is a doubleheader parsha in years when there is only one Adar. Parshat Pekudei provides Moshe’s paradigm lesson for both today’s secular Israeli governmental leaders, as well as for religious communal leaders in matters of honesty, intent, ethics, accountability and transparency.

Our Parshat Pekudei begins;

“These are the accounts of the Mishkan (the Sanctuary), the Mishkan of testimony, which were drawn up on Moshe’s orders …” (Shemos, Perek 38, posuk 21 — Metsudah Linear Chumash, page 579).

In short, Pekudei is the accountant’s parsha, the parsha of crunching the numbers.

The Sefer L’lmod U’Lamed on our parsha asks what the primary reason was for Moshe’s detailed accounting of the costs of the construction of the Mishkan. The Sages tell that “there were apparently some who suspected that Moshe might have kept some … contributions for his own use.” (Parshat Pekudei, pages 97-98).

The Sefer “The Midrash Says” (pages 357-360) notes that Moshe Rabbeinu overheard mutterings among certain people, presumably sinful individuals such as Dasan and Aviram, who cast aspersions upon his (Moshe’s) honesty regarding the allocation of the people’s donations.

According to “The Midrash Says”, comments were heard such as:

“Of late, Ben Amram’s neck is very fat! ….No wonder; he is in charge of all that money for the Mishkan!”

Moshe Rabbeinu, by his nature, was totally above board and above reproach. But he seemed to have realized that despite all that his leadership meant to Klal Yisrael, whether they realized it or not, that there would still be jealousy, envy and doubt amongst some.

Therefore, Moshe committed himself, proactively, to account for the allocation and purpose of everything donated toward the construction of the Mishkan. “The Midrash Says” (page 357) then relates that not only did Moshe account for all donations, but he “… gave his calculations to a second person, Ithamar Ben Aharon, for verification.” Perhaps this was the first real paradigm of oversight: a Delloite-Touche CPA-like audit.

The irony here is that when the jewelry and gold were collected for making the Chait HaEigel, no accountability or transparency, no source and allocation of donations was demanded from those who compelled the Eigel. However, when the donations came in and the Mishkan was constructed, many demanded and expected such accountability and transparency from Moshe Rabbeinu. Today, we see pretty much the same ironies in the Israeli judiciary’s dual standards of prosecution of those who act on behalf of Eretz Yisrael, those who make their homes on Jewish property, on Jewish land, vs the blind eye or wrist-slap often given toward leftist anti-Israel sources or, (for instance) labor union protestors who disrupt and block traffic, in order to strong-arm through their agendas.

Moshe Rabbeinu was the model of, and set the standard for accountability, oversight and transparency of leadership.

Just as Dasan and Aviram cast false aspersions upon Moshe Rabbeinu, Rabbi Mordechai Katz, in his sefer “L’lmod Ulamed”, (page 98) relates two stories of Rabbinic giants of their eras (Rabbi Bunim of Parshisco and Rabbi Shmuel Kook in Jerusalem) who were observed in acts which, on the surface appeared unseemly, but were actually acts of either saving a life or showing respect by burying the tefillin owned by one who died of a contagious disease.

But it seems to this author that if there is a moral behind our Parshat Pekudei, it would be that observant Jews, by dint of our closeness to, and our striving for emulation of Hashem, must answer to a higher standard, a higher calling. Observant Jews must be above even a sniff of taint, of fraud or dishonesty: in their business dealings, in employment practices, in the whole realm of interpersonal relationships with other Jews — regardless of sector, and in affairs of elective governance.

Moshe is, for all times, the prototype of a true Jewish Leader — humble, modest, without desire for self-aggrandizement and self-enrichment. His first and foremost thought was for the welfare and well-being of his nation — the B’nai Yisrael. Moshe Rabbeinu was above corruption and self-enrichment. Nobody owned him as he could not be bought.

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

Good Shabbos!
_______________________________________

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

Parshat Vayakhel 5774: The Significance of Betzalel’s Appointment as Chief Craftsman of the Mishkan

Filed under: News Reports, Commentary & Human Interest on Wednesday, February 12th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Vayakhel is being sponsored by Yossie and Riki Leff of Ramat Beit Shemesh who wish Hotslocha to their children: Shoshana Esther, Aliza and Yisachar Dov. To the Leff 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 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 Vayakhel 5774: The Significance of Betzalel’s Appointment as Chief Craftsman of the Mishkan

by Moshe Burt

The word Vayakhel — Assembling together of Kol B’nai Yisrael, introduces the building of the Mishkan (Tent of Meeting), the forerunner of the Beit HaMikdash, which would serve as a kappara (atonement) for the Eigel Zahav (Golden Calf). Our parsha opens by teaching B’nai Yisrael about Shabbos which has always, until recent times, been the unifying, defining factor of Judaism. Shabbos seems a gateway to all else — Kashrut, the Chaggim, Torah learning and Ethics, Yishuv HaAretz, Kiddushin, Family Purity, etc. It symbolizes the Jew’s faith in Hashem. And the melachot involved in the construction of the Mishkan were meant to define the paradigms of melachot prohibited on Shabbos.

When Moshe Rabbeinu taught B’nai Yisrael about the holiness of Shabbos and transmitted to them the details of Hashem’s instructions regarding the Mishkan and its contents, Torah records:

“Every man whose heart inspired him came; and everyone whose spirit moved him brought the portion of Hashem for the work of Sanctuary, for all its labor and for the holy garments.” (Sefer Sh’mos, Perek 35, posuk 21)

Yehuda Nachshoni, in his Sefer “Studies in the Weekly Parasha”, page 585, cites both Ramban and Abarbanel, on the above posuk :

Ramban states that the expression “everyone whose spirit moved him” refers to the wise men and artisans … whose hearts stirred them to offer technical assistance in executing the work. The Torah defines their offer as a “stirring of the heart” [”moving of the spirit”], for they were not trained in such work specifically and did not know if they were capable of it. Yet their hearts were filled with longing to put their natural talent to practical use, and it was with this longing that they approached Moshe. Moshe told them that according to Hashem’s command, only Betzalel and Eliav were appointed to the operation. Yet, when the offfering was completely collected, Moshe put these volunteers, together with the collected funds, at the disposal of Betzalel and Eliav, telling them to oversee the volunteers’ work and to supervise the practical application of their talent.

Abarbanel, as well, holds that the selection of candidates to work as artisans was based on nothing more than the eagerness of those candidates themselves, for in Egypt they had no experience in such work.

So it would seem that both Ramban and Abarbanel indicate that the “inspired hearts” and the “moved spirits” related not only to the donations of funds and material items, but to the voluntary labor needed to complete the Mishkan.

But how did it happen that Hashem appointed Betzalel to supervise the construction of the Mishkan? Yehuda Nachshoni’s “Studies in the Weekly Parasha”, cites Chazal in Sanhedrin (page 597) as stating that Betzalel was only 13 years old when Hashem Appointed him. Nachshoni continues (page 597):

At such a young age, he could not have attained his wondrous expertise unless Hashem had blessed him at birth with a brilliant mind capable of absorbing everything.

Nachshoni (page 598) again cites Ramban who comments on Sefer Sh’mos, Perek 35, posuk 30:

“Observe, Hashem has selected Betzalel…”

Hashem has alerted Moshe… Here is remarkable talent revealed, destined from birth to construct the Mishkan: “Before I formed you in the belly I knew you, and before you came out of the womb I sanctified you” (Yirmiyahu 1:5). Besides a lofty knowledge of the secrets of creation, Betzalel was blessed with a broad knowledge of the disciplines of his times, remarkable when one takes into account the circumstances in which the nation lived [under enslavement and persecution in Mitzrayim with bricks and mortar]. They did not learn how to work with silver, gold or precious gems, never having seen them.

So what was the significance of Betzalel that he was so endowed with this expertise and appointed to supervise the construction of the Mishkan? Both Nachshoni (page 599, citing Midrash Rabbah) and Rabbi Mordechai Katz, in his sefer “L’lmod Ulamed” (page 96) provide the significance of Betzalel’s lineage. “L’lmod Ulamed” (page 96) explains:

…Torah lists not only Betzalel’s name, but also those of his father Uri and his grandfather Chur….

…Chur was one of the few individuals who emerged from the episode of the Egel Zahav with distinction. When B’nai Yisrael began insisting on the construction of a golden calf [a different form of service, an alternative spiritual channel (??), lacking Moshe’s presence], it was Chur [husband of Moshe’s sister Miriam] who tried to bring them to their senses. He lectured them severely, warning that their act was sacrilegious and that they would later be sorry. But this opposition only aroused… fury, and they compounded their sin by killing Chur (Sanhedrin 7a).

Chur… made very noticeable his loyalty to Hashem. By way of reward, he was blessed with a grandson [Betzalel] who, helped by Chur’s merit, became the chief craftsman of the Mishkan.

Nachshoni (page 599, citing Midrash Rabbah) notes:

Hashem’s choice of Betzalel was based on the outstanding self-sacrifice of his grandfather, Chur… The Torah details Betzalel’s lineage going back to his grandfather to stress this innate family quality. …This [Betzalel’s charge to craft and oversee building of the Mishkan] is the natural outcome of the grandson’s guarding the great flame lit by his grandfather.

Betzalel was chosen because his grandfather had sacrificed his life to sanctify Hashem’s name. The self-sacrifice of Betzalel’s family contributed to the atonement inherent in the the Mishkan’s construction. Just as its gold atoned for the gold of the calf, transforming an exhibit for the prosecution into an exhibit for the defense, so too did having a grandson of Chur build the Mishkan achieve the same end.

Along with the remarkable wisdom, talent, expertise bestowed upon Betzalel regarding construction of the Mishkan, Hashem endowed him with another attribute which we, today, could do well to emulate. Rav Zelig Pliskin explains in his sefer, “Growth Through Torah” on our parsha (page 250):

“He put in his heart to teach…” (Sefer Sh’mos, Perek 35, posuk 34)

There are people who have special knowledge and skills but do not want to teach them to others. …Torah praises Betzalel because he was willing to share his knowledge with others. (Ohr Hachayim)

A person who desires knowledge only for his own honor will be reluctant to to share what he knows with others. The more people who have the same knowledge the less special he will be. But if a person realizes that his knowledge and skills are gifts from The Almighty, he will readily pass them on to others.

Rav Pliskin reasons that we learn from Betzalel that one’s willingness to share knowledge with others is a sign of one’s true inner attitudes regarding one’s own wisdom.

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