Parshat Terumah 5776: Pure Motivation in “Taking” Hashem’s Portion

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, February 6th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off



Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Terumah is being sponsored by R’ Joel and Shelly Padowitz and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh on the occasion of the birthday of R’ Joel’s friend Gavriel ben Mordechai (Enoch) . To the Padowitz family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat Terumah 5776: Pure Motivation in “Taking” Hashem’s Portion

by Moshe Burt

Parshat Terumah opens (Sefer Sh’mos, Perek 25, posukim 1-3):

Hashem spoke to Moshe saying: Speak to the Children of Israel and they shall take to Me a portion, from every man whose heart will motivate him you shall take My portion. This is the portion you shall take from them: ….”

This author had a dear friend in Chutz L’Aretz who would constantly ask, “am I doing… for the right reason(s)?” This friend was not observant. While this author has not seen or spoken to this friend in some 25 years, the constant questioning of motivation remains embedded in mind.

Rashi writes (The Sapirstein Edition Torah with Rashi’s Commentary on Sefer Sh’mos, Perek 25, posuk 2, Pages 320-321):

“You shall take My portion” Our rabbis have said: There are three portions stated here [as indicated by the word Terumah - portion used three times in the two posukim, including Terumahti - My Portion]. One is the portion of a beka (half shekel) per head from which the sockets for the beams and pillars of the Mishkan were made. One is the portion of the Mizbeiyach — a beka per head placed into the boxes (from these three boxes the communal korbonot – offerings were purchased). And one was the portion for the Mishkan, the contribution of each individual who contributed the… items mentioned [Sefer Sh'mos, Perek 25, posukim3-7].

As this author understands Rashi, the two half shekels per head were mandatory for all, while the contributions for the various materials; cloths, skins, goats’ hairs, oils, anointing oils, spices and stones were as one’s heart was motivated and according to his ability, i.e. what he possessed.

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin writes, in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” (Parsha Terumah, page 201):

Your motivation is a major factor in the ultimate value of what you do.

There is an oft-repeated (on this blog)Torah Gems citing of the Ibn Ezra on Parsha Yithro regarding the appointment of a judicial system, and the application of that lesson to all of us:

“The Torah did not mention ‘G’d-fearing men’ because only Hashem knows what is in man’s heart.” (Torah Gems, Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, Parsha Yithro, page 131)

The above citing of the Ibn Ezra would seem to apply to Parshat Terumah as well, and regarding the posukim cited above, as the point of Terumah seemingly goes beyond the construction of the Mishkan and the Mizbeiyach and beyond the Mishkan’s treasury and into all facets of the mundane. And this author would seem to get some additional mileage from again citing (as in Parshat Va’eira) this classic scene from the Burt Reynolds movie of the late 1970s, “The End.” Reynolds, swimming far from land, and afraid for his life, cries out:

“I could never make it…Help me make it, Lord, Please…., I’ll give you 50% of everything I make, that’s 50% Lord, I wanna point out nobody gives 50%, I’m talkin’ gross, Lord….”

And as he manages to make it close to land, he says:

“I think I’m gonna make it. You won’t regret this, Lord…. I’m gonna start donatin’ that 10% right away. I know I said 50%, Lord, but 10% to start….”

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin continues (Growth Through Torah”, Parsha Terumah, page 201):

Rashi (on Sefer Sh’mos, Perek 25, posuk 2) comments that the donations given for the Mishkan (tabernacle) should be given for the sake of the Almighty.

What is difference what a person’s intentions are when he does a good deed? Rabbi Yehuda Leib Chasman used to give this illustration. …A certain person delivers milk to people each morning. He wants to insure that every child in the community will be able to have wholesome milk for breakfast. He brings the milk to each person’s home early in the morning regardless of the weather.

What would you say about such a person? You would surely consider him an outstanding example of the most elevated levels of kindness. But what if you then heard that he gets paid a few pennies a bottle? He is no longer such a great, righteous person but a plain milk delivery man[? author]. When you do something with pure motivations, your action is elevated. Work on your thoughts to have positive motivations when you do positive acts.

This author questions the statement about the milk delivery man re: “he is no longer such a great, righteous person” reasoning that it seems apparent that one can be still “a great, righteous person” even when he diligently delivers milk daily, making absolutely sure that the bottles of milk are always full, fresh and never spoiled or sour, for those few pennies per bottle as that is his parnossa. One has plenty of opportunities to uplift and sanctify his parnossa, often via the seemingly small Eikev mitzvot, in ways often not apparent to the eyes of others.

In his Sefer “Majesty of Man”, Rabbi A. Henach Leibowitz writes on Parshat Terumah citing The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 231):

…Elevate our physical actions to a spiritual plane by focusing on these actions as a means to the ultimate goal of Torah and mitzvot….

We need not live “dual lives” — spiritual in performing our religious obligations and secular in fulfilling our mundane needs. If we purify our intentions and aim for our ultimate goal of serving Hashem in everything we do, we can infuse the physical world with holiness and harmonize our entire lives into one grand… praise to the Creator.

This author’s former auto mechanic, an observant Jew and a Tzaddik back in Philadelphia, was one such example of a great, righteous person who seized opportunities to uplift and sanctify his parnossa. He always kept a few shop loaner cars available so that when people brought their vehicles in for major repairs, that they were able to borrow a loaner car, free of charge, for work so as to not be inconvenienced while the work on the vehicle was being completed. He also made his loaner cars available, again free of charge, to people when they came to Philadelphia from out of town. He was also a Shul president and active in communal affairs throughout his life.

This author can think of numerous other examples, here in Eretz Yisrael of righteous people giving as their heart motivates them. At the outset of the Gaza War of the summer of 2014, there were numerous successful efforts to provide soldiers at the front with small pieces of equipment which were not issued them by the military but would be indispensible to their ability to perform on the
battlefield. And there were large loving outpourings from many to see that the soldiers going into Gaza received pizza pies.

Who can forget how many of B’nei Yisrael recently opened their hearts and pockets after a murderous terror event to join with the Littman/Beigel families at the Simcha of the marriage of Sarah Techiya to Ariel Beigel. This short-list does not come even remotely close to even scratching the surface of motivation of the heart. It’s what sets us apart from the nations.

R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z’l in the new Hirsch Chumash (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Daniel Haberman), discusses the symbolic significance of the Mishkan in his Sefer Sh’mos, pages 538-540:

The construction of the Tabernacle, which begins here in Sh’mos [in our parsha (author)], is followed by Torah Kohanim [in Parsha Tetzaveh (author)], the series of laws whose purpose is the sanctity of the Temple [Mishkan, Beit Hamikdash (author)] and the sanctification of life.

Hashem does not grace us with His Presence, protection, and blessings merely upon the scrupulous construction and upkeep of the sanctuary, but only upon the sanctification of our entire national and private lives and… dedication to the fulfillment of His Commandments.

The point here seems to be that our inner purity of intent, whether as individuals, as a government, as a nation must represent the sanctification of, and fulfillment of His Commandments.

To again cite comments of R’ Hirsch in the new Hirsch Chumash on Parshat Va’eira, indicative of what could have been Hashem’s monologue to Moshe upon Pharaoh’s initial refusal to free the Jews and his imposition of further hardship upon B’nei Yisrael (Sefer Sh’mos, Perek 6, posukim 1-3, pages 79-81):

“But this people is not to be like the other nations. Unlike the others, this people is to be founded solely upon Hashem and upon the fulfillment of His Will in moral freedom, and is to have an earthly hold and an earthly standing only from and for Hashem and this fulfillment.”

“Hence, this people must start where other peoples have stopped. It had to despair of itself; it had to lie prone, about to perish in its own blood (Yechezkel, Perek 16, posukim 5-6), and to rise to nationhood only through the Creator’s call, so that, by its very existence, the people would proclaim to the peoples of the world: “I am Hashem.”

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the other MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of 1 1/2 years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos! Chodesh Tov!
_______________________________________

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 Mishpatim 5776: Honesty and Morality, Justice and Purity in Judgement of Fellow Jews vs Judicial Prejudice and Bias

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


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Mishpatim is being sponsored by Daniel and Amy Michaels and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh Lilui Nishmas for Daniel’s Mother, Ora bat Avraham Naftali. To the Michaels family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Mishpatim 5775: Honesty and Morality, Justice and Purity in Judgement of Fellow Jews vs Judicial Prejudice and Bias

by Moshe Burt

Yishai Chasidah’s Encyclopedia of Biblical Jewish Personalities (pages 306-309) provides a fitting introduction to parsha Mishpatim in citing an example of how Yithro, for whom our previous parsha was named, was positioned and merited to express insights to Moshe Rabbeinu which were crucial to the evolution of Torah’s judiciary system. Chasidah cites Midrash HaGodol on BaMidbar (perek 10,
posuk 30) which gives insight into Yithro’s righteousness, kindness and integrity. After a drought year in Midian, Yithro the Priest stated;

This has been a year of drought, and I borrowed money which I used to support the poor. If I don’t go and pay my debts, I will be desecrating the Name of Heaven.

This citing expresses a paradigm for kol Klal Yisrael to aspire to emulate, both with respect to repayment of debts incurred, as well as with regard to caring for one’s brethren in times of crisis — both on a national and individual level.

Chasidah also cites Yerushalmi Brachot (Perek 2, posuk 8 ) which writes of Yithro;

When B’nai Yisrael do Hashem’s Will, HaKodesh Borchu searches throughout the world, and if he finds a righteous person among the nations, he brings him and attaches him to B’nai Yisrael. One of the examples given was Yithro.

So, it was much more than Yithro’s past governmental experience as an advisor to Pharaoh, his kindnesses to Moshe and his craving to join B’nai Yisrael to find Divine Truth which positioned him to counsel Moshe as to formation of a Judiciary. Yithro’s advice to Moshe was fully backed by his own actions in standing on honesty, integrity and principle. In advising Moshe Rabbeinu on how to judge B’nai Yisrael, Yithro spoke;

“You will provide out of all the people able men, such as fear Hashem, men of truth hating lucre (gain, money, riches); and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.” (Sefer Sh’mos, Perek 18, posuk 21)

R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z’l, in the new Hirsch Chumash, Sefer Shemos (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Daniel Haberman on the beginning of Sefer Sh’mos, page 361) expresses the spirit of our Parshat Mishpatim through a profound comment on the concluding posuk of Parshat Yithro:

“You shall not ascend with steps upon My Altar, so that your nakedness will not be uncovered.” (Sefer Shemot, Perek 20, posuk 23)

Without morality and modesty, justice and humanity in society will be sought in vain. With immorality the heights of My Mizbeiyach will never be mounted.

Rav Hirsch then cites Sefer Breish’t, Perek 6, posuk 11 and writes:

“And the earth was corrupt before Hashem’s countenance, and so the earth was filled with wrongdoing” — the oldest and gravest experience in the history of man.

Bearing all of this in mind, the exposition of the law to B’nai Yisrael begins in Parshat Mishpatim.

In our parsha, many basic laws of civilized existence are enunciated for B’nai Yisrael. The overriding purpose of the Mishpatim — the civil laws, it seems, is to protect the moral fiber of society by regulating relationships between men, both on a national level as well between individuals, encouraging truthfulness, sincerity and kindness while condemning immorality and deceit.

Rebbetzin Shira Smiles, in her sefer “Torah Tapestries” on Sefer Shemos (Parshat Mishpatim pages 87- 88, 92-96) discusses two laws of judges (in a Torah justice system) and how these laws relate to us, we who don’t serve in the legal system. Rebbetzin Smiles cites Sanhedrin 7b in explaining:

“A judge is prohibited to hear the words of a litigant until his fellow has arrived.” Judges are not permitted to hear a case until both parties are present and prepared to present their arguments, one immediately following the other.

Why is the Torah so particular about a judge hearing the two accounts in immediate consecutive order? Any experienced judge understands that one account is only one half of the story and any initially formulated conclusions are temporary. The judge is aware that his view of the case will change when he hears the second side.

Hmmm? (Facetiously) Kinda sounds like the Israel’s agendized, biased and selective “rush to judgement”, and corruption-ridden police and “judiciary” (sic)???

Rebbetzin Smiles then cites a Maharal (MeiRosh Tzurim, Shemos. page 254) which says:

…As soon as the a judge hears the first presentation, …. in his effort to fully understand the first litigant’s testimony, he mentally validates the initial version of the story. Even if the judge subsequently hears the second side legitimately disprove the original story, it is very difficult for him to listen with equal objectivity. The judge’s natural human inclination is to support his original impression.

Rebbetzin Smiles continues:

And…, time is a factor…. The more time between presentations, the more the first opinion dominates the judge’s mind.

Understanding human nature, Hashem put a Mitzvah in the Torah that advises judges to hear the opposing testimonies one after the other, as close as possible. It is a warning to prevent a first opinion from overpowering the mind and spoiling objectivity

Rebbetzin Smiles then discusses how first impressions can effect us, we who don’t serve in the judiciary, in our daily lives. It may be the new neighbor about whom one may form a first mistaken negative impression from hearing yelling from behind the neighbor’s door. Others, who know the neighbor, would then speak highly of his or her kind attributes. Rebbetzin Smiles asks:

What would it take to convince you that you might have been mistaken?

It’s difficult to let go of… first impressions. Even [Torah-true] judges, who constantly strive to be truthful, were given laws to prevent a biased first impression…. Prevent the possibility of the initial impression becoming a permanent one. When forming an opinion, stop and… mix it with other possible perspectives. Hashem rewards us, as it says in the gemara: “Anyone who judges others favorably will be judged favorably in Heaven.”

When we decide that the truth is more important than our egos, we will be able to swallow our pride and confess our errors. Truth, honesty represent an important linchpin of morality and justice.

As the line from that old Billy Joel tune goes:

“Honesty is such a lonely word.”

In his sefer “Inspiration and Insight”, Discourses on the weekly Parashah by the Manchester Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Yehuda Zev Segal, z’l (pages 128-129) cites sefer “Mesilas Yesharim” (Chapter 11) which provides lengthy discussion regarding levels of falsehood existing within mankind and their “descending order of destructiveness.”

R’ Segal cites R’Moshe Chaim Luzzato:

Our Sages have taught, “The seal of the Holy One is truth” (Shabbos 55a). Now, if truth is what Hashem has chosen as his seal, then how despicable must its converse be before Him… Truth is one of the pillars upon which the worlds exist (Avos 1:18); it follows then that one who speaks falsehood is considered as if he has destroyed the world’s foundation.

R’ Segal also indicates that there is a common misconception that falsehood only occurs through speech. He cites a braisa (Shevu’os 30b-31a) to note how one can violate the admonition against falsehood through deeds.

The second law mentioned in our parsha which Rebbetzin Smiles in her sefer “Torah Tapestries” on Sefer Shemos [ibid] discusses “deals with court dress code.” Rebbetzin Smiles cites gemara Shevu’os 31a:

Two people cannot appear in court dressed differently, meaning one dressed simply and the other extravagantly. Either the one wearing expensive clothing must remove it and dress more humbly, or he must give the other litigant similarly expensive garments for the duration of the court case.

The gemara says… “distance yourself from a matter of falsehood.” The drastic contrast in garments might influence judges to favor the finely dressed person or snub the poor person’s argument. The simply-dressed litigant might feel that the judges are predisposed toward his rich opponent, as Rashi explains (commentary on gemara Shevu’os 31a).

Rebbetzin Smiles cites Rabbi Yehuda Leib Chasman (Sefer Ohr Yahel, Vol. 3,page 124) in further explaining dress as a possible factor in judicial decision-making:

Even though… [a] judge may be committed to impartiality, his eyes can still lead him astray. A gold button and a drape of expensive fabric hypnotize the human mind. Once you remove… visual stimuli, an objective judgement can emerge…. Hashem created our human nature; and therefore, instructs us: Distance yourself from falsehood and remove any visual clues that could mislead you.

Rebbetzin Smiles continues citing Rabbi Chasman who notes:

We judge all the time. We make internal judgements and decide how to act. Some thoughts are influenced by the yetzer hatov (good inclination) and some by the yetzer hara (evil inclination). So how do we tell the difference? …The yetzer hara thoughts are usually dressed in a fancy suit…. to deceive us with positive external impressions: “Think how amazing life will be be when you earn that extra money, even if it’s slightly dishonest.” …The yetzer hatov’s ideas never seem to look as exciting or glamorous on the outside.

The gemara (Berachas 5a) gives us ways to conquer the yetzer hara, it instructs us to learn Torah and to accept the yoke of the Kingship of Heaven…. This is how to enclothe the yetzer hatov in the elegant clothing it deserves; we feel how beautiful and pleasant it is to learn Torah and serve Hashem, and then the desire for sin lessens. If that doesn’t work, then… remember the day of death. That is tearing off the yetzer hara’s finery and exposing the rags that truly lie underneath.

Imagine the merit to be earned collectively by a unity of B’nai Yisrael acting truthfully, justly and treating each other — our fellow Jew, at all levels from daily man-in-the-street dealings, or between merchant and customer, bus driver and passenger, employer/employee, civil-servant and Yosef Q. Jewish Citizen, as well as by the governing law enforcement and judicial systems toward those being governed, as Yithro the righteous Ger did.

And imagine building on that national kindness and unity with the rock-solid, unified, unequivocable principle — Kol Ha’aretz Shelanu (This is Our Land)! This seems a logical evolvement of Bein Adam L’Chaveiro applied to Bein Adam L’Mokom, an outgrowth of fair and righteous dealing between one and his fellow as extended to our relationship with Hashem.

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his Sefer “Growth Through Torah” (on Parsha Mishpatim, page 197) adds to this equation of righteousness, kindness, principle and integrity by citing both Sefer Shemot (Perek 23, posuk 8 ), and Rabbi Avraham of Sochotchov equating one’s bias’ with bribery:

“And bribery you shall not take, for a bribe will blind those who can see, and distort the words of the righteous.” (Sefer Shemot, Perek 23, posuk 8 )

Rabbi Avraham of Sochotchov commented…. When a person is blind, he realizes it and will ask someone who can see to help him. But if a person has a bias, the bias blinds him to such an extent that he does not even realize that he is blind. He feels that what he perceives is reality and will refuse to listen to others.

There are many bribes that distort our judgement. We are not referring to an out and out bribe. Any bias will cause us to view things in a way that will fit our particular bias.

It would seem then that the modern-day adaptation, or application of the term “bias” would be agendization, as in the Israeli left’s promotion of plans which serve to brainwash the population to radicalize as “racist (sic)” (in the very eyes of the agendizers and in the eyes of segments of the public who fall prey to such brainwashing or dumbing down) those who possess the Land of Israel as our Divine legacy. In doing so, they have sooo deluded themselves and sooo numbed and blinded themselves to what should be the Divine, self-evident truth of our Jewish sovereignty in and on Eretz Yisrael. And the same goes for the “bias”, the agendization of divide-and-conquer politicians against the Chachamim who give their beings over to learning Torah, or the agendization of some segments against their fellow Jews who they see as “not as religious” as themselves because of the kippah they wear or the Rabbinic hashkafah they adhere to.

In the spirit of all of the above, the Shabak and the leftist Israeli media’s appearance of a rush to judgement against those of their brethren possessing emunah regarding OUR Divinely Ordained possession of Eretz Yisrael is beyond aggregious and abominable and is a Chillul Hashem (a debasement of Hashem’s name). Arrests and prosecutions of young Jews based on false, torture-forced confessions of guilt or complicity in alleged terror acts just because they live on hilltops on Jewish land in Yehudah and the Shomron, or simply because they wear kippot, seems highly prejudicial, biased and runs 180 degrees contrary in spirit to the inculcation of honesty, principle and integrity in dealing with our brethren engendered in our Parshat Mishpatim. This seems particularly true in the case of the alleged Duma arson attack where Israeli legal systems have not even demanded possession of a supposed video or harddrive still in Arab hands which could prove that the arson could have been perpetrated by other than hilltop youth. That the government of Israel swears by such tactics by it’s law enforcement and judiciary validates how very far we are from achievement of the paradigm envisioned by Yithro in his advice and counsel to Moshe Rabbeinu.

And so Yithro, through his kindness, honesty and principle merited to advise and format the Judicial system of B’nai Yisrael, which stands as the paradigm today for the way a Torah law enforcement and judicial system must be.

Finally, there is the oft-cited Ibn Ezra on Parsha Yithro which Torah Gems notes regarding the appointment of a judicial system, and the application of that lesson to all of us:

“The Torah did not mention ‘G’d-fearing men’ because only Hashem knows what is in man’s heart.” (Torah Gems, Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, Parsha Yithro, page 131)

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the other MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of 1 1/2 years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
_______________________________________

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 Yithro 5776: Why Moshe Rabbeinu, or any Single Principled Leader Today Can’t Adjudicate Am Yisrael Alone

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


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parsha Yithro is being sponsored by R’ Moshe and Marla Braun (Moshe Braun – Fine Judaic Art) and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh in honor of Marla’s birthday on 14th Sh’vat. To the Braun family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Yithro 5776: Why Moshe Rabbeinu, or any Single Principled Leader Today Can’t Adjudicate Am Yisrael Alone

by Moshe Burt

In light of recent events, this author felt it important to repeat last year’s Parshat Yithro vort with additions reflective of our current matzav; the increased level of the murderous Arab/Muslim terror war against us, the seeming framing of hilltop Jews by Shabak (Shin Bet = Israel Security Agency) over events in the Arab town of Duma, and the other Shabak shenanigans which have accompanied the frame-job as well as the apparent ongoing attempts by Shabak to portray Eretz Yisrael-loving Jews as extremists and subversives bent on violently overthrowing the government. For those of us with long memories, haven’t we had enough of “champagne”(codename of former Shin Bet provocateur Avishai Raviv) from at least the 1990s going forward?

We learn that when Yithro had heard all that Hashem had done for B’nai Yisrael, he left Midian with Tzippora and Moshe’s two sons and went to join with the Jews. Sefer Shemos, Perek 18, posuk 9 states “Vayichad Yithro” which Rashi renders as Yithro “rejoiced” at seeing B’nei Yisrael free of Mitzri bondage, at seeing K’riyat Yom Suf and at B’nei Yisrael’s victory over Amalek.

We note that Hashem named only four Parshiyot of Torah for biblical personalities: three of these personalities earned this merit either through their role at a crucial time in human or Jewish history — such as Noach before and during the Flood, or Pinchas, whose action regarding Zimri and Kozbi ended a plague of Jewish death and brought Hashem’s conveyance upon him the Kehuna and eternal life. And we know that Balak had a Parshat named for him and that B’nei Yisrael would always recall the evil perpetrated against them by his biblical axis of evil with Bila’am and how the temptation and seduction of the yeitzer hora jeopardized the Jewish nation — a battle in which Am Yisrael has yet to decisively and finally prevail.

Yithro, Moshe’s father-in-law merited a Parshat titled in his name by virtue of his contributions toward forming and solidifying B’nei Yisrael and bringing them closer to HaKadosh Borchu. Yithro counseled Moshe regarding the formation of a Jewish legal and judicial system — a system which merited inclusion in Torah and which exists to this day as the ideal system within governance in a true Jewish,Torah-oriented sovereign nation, and which would again serve as the legal, justice system in days of the Moshiach and the Ge’ula Shlaima.

Yithro counseled Moshe:

“‘The thing you do is not good.. You will surely weary — you as well as the people that is with you — because the matter is heavier than you, you will not be able to do it alone. Now heed my voice, I shall advise you, and may Hashem be with you…’” (Sefer Shemot, Perek 18, posukim 17-19.)

Rav Zelig Pliskin writes in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” (page 183):

Yithro saw that Moshe took total responsibility for helping the Jewish people in spiritual matters. He foresaw that Moshe would eventually wear himself out. Therefore he advised Moshe to delegate authority and by this means share the burden with others. People who devote their time to helping others need to learn from this. It is very easy for an idealistic person to suffer from burnout by accepting too great a burden upon himself. One must be aware of his limitations. If you are not careful and you overextend yourself, you are likely to wear yourself out. Not only will you suffer but all the people you could have helped if you had not burned yourself will suffer…

Torah relates (Sapirstein Edition, The Torah with Rashi’s Commentary, Sefer Shemot, Perek 18, posukim 21-22):

“And you shall see from among the entire people, men of means, G’d-fearing people, men of truth, men who despise money, and you shall appoint them leaders of thousands, leaders of hundreds, leaders of fifties, leaders of tens. They shall judge people at all times, and they shall bring every major matter to you, and every minor matter they shall judge, and will ease from upon you,and they shall bear with you.”

This concept of dividing responsibilities amongst qualified individuals with solid principles and integrity seems applicable as a lesson in delegation for those who would aspire to form a faith-based governance in contemporary medinat Yisrael.

Rav Aba Wagensberg once wrote in a vort on Parshat Shemot citing various commentators about the G’dly vision that Moshe received at the Burning Bush (Parshat Shemot, 9 January, 2015):

In Hebrew, the Bush is referred to as a “Sneh”. The Sneh was actually on Mount Sinai. As a matter of fact, since the time of creation, that mountain was called “Chorev” (Ex. 3:1). However, from the moment that G’d appeared to Moshe in the Sneh, the name “Sinai” was added to that mountain. The linguistic similarity between Sinai and the Sneh will always remind us of the story with the Burning Bush (Rabbenu Bachya based on Pirkei D’Rebbi Eliezer, ch. 40-41).

This etymological similarity seems to be contradicted by a huge differentiation that exists between the story of the Sneh and the story of receiving the Torah at Sinai. At the Sneh, G’d tells Moshe, “Do not come close” (Ex. 3:5), whereas at Mount Sinai it says, “And G’d summoned Moshe to the top of the mountain” (Ex. 19:20). Why was Moshe withheld from approaching in the story of the Sneh, yet encouraged to draw near regarding the Torah being given on Sinai?

The Ramban (Ex. 3:5) answers, that at the Sneh, Moshe was not yet on the highest level of prophecy. One proof of this was Moshe hiding his face when he was confronted with the Divine Presence on the Bush (Ex. 3:6). Moshe was not yet ready to handle the intense Presence of G’d. That is why G’d told him not to draw near.

However, by the time Moshe stood on Mount Sinai to receive the Torah, he was on the highest level of prophecy expressed in the verse, “He gazes at the image of God” (Num. 12:8). That is why G’d summoned Moshe to the very top of the mountain.

The Shvilei Pinchas embellishes on this Ramban by suggesting that the event of the Sneh was actually meant to prepare Moshe for the receiving of the Torah at Sinai.

The Shvilei Pinchas continues to teach that when it says that G’d saw that Moshe turned aside to see (Ex. 3:4), it means that G’d understood Moshe’s intention which was to climb to the very top of the mountain where the Burning Bush was. But, G’d told Moshe not to come close because he was not ready yet.

G’d instructed Moshe to “remove his shoes”, meaning, distance himself from excessive involvement in physicality, in order to prepare himself to receive the Torah at Sinai later on.

G’d told Moshe that He was able to rest His Divine Presence on the Patriarchs because they had reached this level (Ex. 3:6). When Moshe heard that he was not yet on the level of the Patriarchs, he was embarrassed and hid his face.

Receiving the Torah was imperative for a host of reasons, one of them being to create closeness to G’d. The Zohar (Acharei-Mos, pg. 73a) says that there are three that are connected, G’d, Torah, and the Jewish People.

The Sfas Emes (Parshas Kedoshim) adds that only through Torah can the Jewish People connect with G’d. The Torah is the glue that brings both sides together.

As long as the Jewish People were imprisoned in Egypt, they and God felt the pain due to the distance that existed between them.

By appearing to Moshe in a thorny bush, G’d communicated to Moshe that He felt this pain of being detached from the Jewish People (Rashi Ex. 3:2; Tanchumah 14).

…Since Torah was being hinted to in a bush of pain, G’d conveyed that the most painful thing of all is the absence of Torah which creates distance between the Parent and the children.

When Moshe saw all this pain, he wanted to put a stop to it immediately. Moshe began climbing to the top of the mountain in order to bring the Torah down right there and then. Moshe wondered, “Why won’t the Sneh be consumed” (Ex. 3:3), meaning, why can’t we just remove the bush of pain by bringing the Torah to the people now?

G’d said that He also wants to give the Torah and remove the pain of isolation, but it requires preparation. Moshe and the people were not ready yet. G’d instructed Moshe to first remove the shoes of excess materialism and then he and the People will be ready.

One lesson that we can draw from the story of the Sneh is that we need preparation in order to receive. We must first become proper vessels. Only then will we be able to contain the gift.

Based on the above citings, and their possible lessons for today, perhaps we can determine that, like Moshe’s meeting Hashem at the burning bush, and like Yithro’s counsel to Moshe; although a particular individual may himself possess the ideals and attributes suited toward faith-based leadership and governance, it is crucial that he have infrastructure beneath him, i.e. “men of means, G’d-fearing people, men of truth, men who despise money,” etc.

It would seem that an example of a governing leader lacking infrastructure could be the years of Menachem Begin’s prime ministership. When Likud was formed in the mid-1970s, it was comprised of the remnants of Begin’s Herut party in an alliance with several small marginally right-wing and liberal parties as well as some socialist Labor party left-overs. What emerged from the great expectations of Begin’s victorious election in 1977 was that important cabinet posts such as Foreign Minister: Moshe Dayan, Defense Minister: Ezer Weizman, as well as all ministerial bureaucracies were held by well-entrenched officiaries of liberal or Labor parties, thus eventually rendering Begin ineffectual despite his best efforts and his being the closest in Israel’s modern history to being a Torah, faith-based prime minister.

So, here we are in 2016, 5776, under generations of an ever-increasingly leftist, socialist bureaucracy and agenda, socialist, man-made laws entrenched in every facet of Israel’s governmental and bureaucratic systems. And, aside from equivocal governance regarding Jewish sovereignty in Eretz Yisrael and indecisiveness in war rather than outright defeat of Muslim enemies who would destroy and eradicate us, we are confronted with an entrenched, prejudiced law enforcement, legal and justice system. And still there is no leader strong enough, and with backing of a sufficient infrastructure based on solid Jewish principles, integrity and dedication to go to elections, win and form a duly elected government to take down and eradicate this old engrained socialist, leftist, dictatorial mess, and build toward a real Torah governance and legal, justice system. There is no leadership anywhere in the offing, derech hateva, to bring about a fair and just law enforcement, legal and judicial system based on kindness for the merciful and cruelty toward the cruel and murderous, instead of the other way around.

And although a particular candidate may himself possess the above desirable attributes for faith-based national leadership and governance, a sign as to why he is continually stifled in campaigns for leadership could well be that the masses of the governed, of Am Yisrael remain dumbed-down by elitist left intelligencia, academia, media and are as yet not sufficiently erudite and, thus not prepared for such faith-based governance. In that case, it would seem that all sectors of observant Jewry in Eretz Yisrael MUST get on the same page in order not to continue to fall victim of the dominance of secular, equivocal, anti-Torah, disdainful and Jewish self-hating governance.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the other MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of 1 1/2 years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Beshalach 5776: Why the Circuitous Route for B’nei Yisrael, Is Failure to Reach Our Divine Calling Holding Back the Redemption?

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


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua — Parshat Beshalach is being sponsored by Dr. Edo and Atara Lavi and dedicated for Nachi starting to crunch sugyas. To Mishpochat Lavi, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

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Parshat Beshalach 5776: Why the Circuitous Route for B’nei Yisrael, Is Failure to Reach Our Divine Calling Holding Back the Redemption?

by Moshe Burt

Shem Mishmuel (Sefer Shem Mishmuel, Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski) renders translation of posukim and Rashi from Sefer Shemot regarding B’nei Yisrael’s liberation from Egypt:

“Hashem went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them on the way and by night in a pillar of fire to provide them with light, so that they could travel by day and by night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night departed from before the people.” (Sefer Shemot, Perek 13, posukim 21-22)

“And I bore them on eagles’ wings, and I brought them to Me.” (Sefer Shemot, Perek 19, posuk 5)

“It was 120 mil [Shem Mishmuel footnote defining "mil": An early measure of distance approximately a mile] from Ramses to Sukkot [the first stage of their journey after their Exodus (liberation from Egypt)], and they came there within an hour, as the verse says, ‘And I bore them on eagles’ wings.’” (Rashi on Sefer Shemot, Perek 19, posuk 5)

When the Jews panicked by the Reed Sea, Moshe spoke to them (as rendered in the Sapirstein Edition Chumash with Rashi’s commentary on Sefer Shemot, Perek 14, posukim 13-14) and Hashem spoke to Moshe (ibid, Sefer Shemot, Perek 14, posukim 15-18, pages 155-156):

“… Do not fear! Stand fast and see the salvation of Hashem that He will perform for you today; for that which you have seen Egypt today, you shall not see them ever again!”

“Hashem will do battle for you, and you shall remain silent.”

“Speak to the B’nei Yisrael and let them journey. And you, — lift up your staff and stretch out your arm and split it; and the B’nei Yisrael shall come into the midst of the sea on dry land. And I — behold! I shall strengthen the heart of Egypt and they will be glorified through Pharaoh and through his entire army…. Egypt will know that I am Hashem, when I am glorified through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.”

Our Parshat goes on to elaborate (as rendered in the Sapirstein Edition Chumash with Rashi’s commentary on Sefer Shemot, Perek 14, posukim 19-20, pages 156-157):

“The angel of Hashem who had been going in front of the camp of Israel moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud traveled from in front of them and went behind them. It came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel and there were the cloud and the darkness — and it lit up the night — and one did not approach the other all of the night.”

Rabbi Mordechai Katz, in his Sefer L’lmod Ulamed on our parshat Beshalach (pages 75-76) summarizes events leading to the miraculous crossing of the Reed Sea:

The Israelites had reached Etham on the edge of the wilderness when they were commanded to turn back and camp by the Reed Sea. There, Pharaoh would pursue them, thinking they were trapped in the wilderness.

As soon as the Jewish people had left, Pharaoh regretted letting them go. He assembled his whole army, which consisted of many soldiers and chariots, and pursued the Israelites. The Egyptians were soon on the heels of the Israelites who panicked and complained bitterly to Moshe. “It would have been much better for us to serve in Egypt than to die in the wilderness,” they cried.

However, Moshe assured them that Hashem would once again fight for them. The guiding pillar of cloud moved to their rear, creating a veil of darkness that hindered the Egyptian advance. Moshe, at Hashem’s bidding, stretched out his hand over the Reed Sea and a strong east wind blew and divided the water. This enabled the Israelites to cross the sea on dry land. The Egyptians followed them into the seabed but were thrown into confusion by Hashem. Their chariot wheels became stuck in the wet sand. Then Moshe stretched his hand over the sea again, and the waters began to flow over the Egyptian army drowning the Egyptians and their animals.

R’ Hirsch comments in the New Hirsch Chumash (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Daniel Haberman) on the Jewish mission: the ideal vs the reality of their level upon leaving Egypt (Sefer Shemot, Perek 13, posukim 7-8, pages 220-222):

…The ideal mission for Hashem’s people was… through the laws of the Pesach offering, the festival of Matzot, the consecration of the firstborn and the mitzvot of tefillin…. The people… are in the midst of being redeemed and at the beginning of their path to the fulfillment of their destiny.

…[But] the people had not yet reached that ideal level to which they were called…. We see that they possessed not the slightest trace of that power and courage with which they could have attained — and then retained — freedom for themselves by themselves. Not only the attainment of freedom, but also its enduring retainment was through the work of Hashem alone. If it had been up to them, Scripture says, then seeing war on the road to independence and freedom, they would have returned to the slavery of Egypt — this despite the fact that they went out of Egypt “fully armed”!

The sword was not lacking at their sides, but courage and the fighting spirit were lacking in their hearts. Most importantly, they still lacked trust in Hashem, the quality that gives a person determination and courage, power and enthusiasm, no matter what the task and under any circumstances, since he knows that all is in His hands.

The object of the establishment of the Jewish nation was that, among all of the nations of the world who do not know that their national lives develop under the guidance of Hashem, there should enter one nation that is fully aware of Hashem.

However, B’nei Yisrael were not yet ready for such a way of life. Only extraordinary experiences would educate them to the awareness that Hashem’s providence not only saves His adherents from destruction, but also sustains them, day by day, in all conditions and situations. This was the purpose of Israel’s wanderings through the wilderness; this was the meaning of the detour [through the wilderness because of their faintheartedness] that Hashem now made them take.

Could it be that B’nei Yisrael in our days collectively suffers at least the same lack of mental, moral and spiritual power and courage, the same lacking of fighting spirit in their hearts, i.e. emunah (faith) in Hashem as did our ancestors who Hashem’s Strong Hand Liberated from Egypt?

This may seem a negative thread to discuss on Shabbos Shirah where we commemorate and celebrate the miraculous Splitting of the Reed Sea, but can it be that the collective failure of today’s B’nei Yisrael to reach the ideal level of our Divine calling reflects a failure on an even lower level than that of our ancestors, or even our contemporary Brethren who, with Hashem’s Help in modern-days, fought for independence and statehood and the subsequent major wars (The Sinai Campaign, The Six Day War, The Yom Kippur War, the rescue of 100 plus Entebbe hostages, etc.)?

Could it be that this failure to achieve the ideal level of their Divine calling reflects itself both within Israel’s governance and among the collective governed, represented by denial and derision of our roots,Torah laws and spirituality as being immoral, where trans-genderism is the new norm in Israel (as it is in the US), where Yishuv Eretz Yisrael (living in ALL of Torah-defined Eretz Yisrael) is viewed as violating their distorted view of “Jewish” or oxymoronic Western “morality”, where governments act equivocally toward all strains of Islamic terror and fight indecisive wars for fear of world pressure (i.e. “disproportional responses”), rather than fighting to win unequivocally, where such governments condone a twisted sense of morality which dictates to emergency caregivers at terror attack scenes that terror perpetrators be treated for their serious injuries before treating seriously injured terror victims, where such governmental police and “justice(sic)” resort to evicting a Jewish population from a part of Eretz Yisrael and allegedly resorting to blaming and physically torturing Jews illegally during interrogations, or possibly co-conspiring to frame young, idealistic Jewish lovers of Eretz Yisrael — under the guise of brainwashing the public through assertions that “Jewish terrorists” are “plotting the overthrow of the government” and replacing it with a Jewish “monarch” and much, much more? Could today’s collective failure to achieve the ideal level of our Divine calling be the factor holding back Moshiach and the Ultimate Redemption?

It seems to this author that these are important questions to ponder, respond to and act on, even as we celebrate Shabbos Shirah.

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 brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the other MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of 1 1/2 years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Bo 5776: The Two Bloods — Bris Milah, Korban Pesach — Measuring a Paradigm of Mesirus Nefesh, of Worthiness in Our Times?

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


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua — Parshat Bo is being sponsored by Dr. Pinchas and P’nina Klahr and dedicated lilui nishmas for Pinchas’ Father Rav Nosson Karpel ben Rav Shmuel Zanvil Tzvi and for P’nina’s Father Rav Matisyahu ben Rav Yaakov. To Mishpochat Klahr, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3 .
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Parshat Bo 5776: The Two Bloods — Bris Milah, Korban Pesach — Measuring a Paradigm of Mesirus Nefesh, of Worthiness in Our Times?

by Moshe Burt

Parshat Bo is the one which, for me, annually relates to that crazy tune which played back “in the Old Country” a few decades ago, “Does Your Korbon Pesach Lose It’s Flavor Tied to the Bedpost Overnight?”

(Actually, the real title to the song was “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose It’s Flavor on the Bedpost Overnight?”)

Over the years, this author has opened with this nutty parody because it cuts right to the chase, to the very heart of our Parshat. The lamb was seen by the Mitzriyim as one of their myriads of “gods”. Therefore, Hashem mandated the Mitzvot of taking the Korbon Pesach, publicly slaughtering it and applying the da’am on Jewish doorposts. The going up from Mitzrayim (Egypt) to “…a land flowing with milk and honey …” — the Yetziyat Mitzrayim is as relevant to the National entity (B’nai Yisrael) today, as it was then, as it relates to emunah (belief in) and yirat (fear of) Hashem.

Just a note here for historical perspective: from the point where Moshe experienced the revelation of the Burning Bush on the 15th of Nissan in the year 2447, to Moshe’s first approach to Pharaoh, through the ten plagues (the asseret makot), to the Jews’ liberation from the Egyptian slavery and oppression there spanned exactly one year. On the 14th of Nissan, in the afternoon, the Jews took the lamb; the Korban Pesach, which they had each tied to their proverbial bedpost on 10 Nissan, shechted (slaughtered) it, applied some of its blood to their doorposts and hastily ate it, roasted over fire with Matzot and bitter herbs with their loins girded and with shoes on their feet and staff at hand, on the evening which began the 15th of Nissan. That night began the final mako, the plague of the Egyptian first-born. The B’nei Yisrael left Egypt in the morning of the 15th of Nissan.

Rabbi Mordechai Katz, in his sefer L’lmod U’lamed (page 72) begins a vort on our Parshat:

Hashem was willing to save the Jews from their Egyptian captivity. But were the Jews ready to accept Hashem as their G’d? How would Hashem know, for man has Free Will with respect to fear of G’d. How could Hashem be sure of the Jews’ loyalty?

There was really only one way to be sure. If the Jews would offer to sacrifice their own lives for the sake of Hashem’s word, they would be worthy of His assistance. It was for that reason that Hashem asked them to prepare the Korban Pesach, the Pascal Lamb, publicly.

With B’nei Yisrael chomping at the bit for the redemption, for freedom from Mitzri bondage, Hashem directs them to take the Korban Pesach, and to perform Bris Milah on all males. Hashem commanded that the Korban Pesach must not be eaten by anyone who is uncircumcised. Indeed, taking the Pascal Lamb and slaughtering it publicly, in front of the Mitzriyim, and performing Bris Milah on Jewish males provided justification, validation of the worthiness of the Jews for Hashem’s liberation of them from bondage and for Jewish nationhood.

Rebbetzin Shira Smiles, in her sefer “Torah Tapestries” on Sefer Shemos (pages 29-30) relates a citing from the Navi Yechezchel (Sefer Yechezchel, perek 16, posukim 6-7 regarding Rashi on Sefer Shemos, Perek 12, posuk 6):

“I have passed by you and I saw you wallowing in your bloods and I said to you ‘By your bloods you shall live.’ …. and you [were] naked and unclothed.”

Our sages (citing Yalkut Shimoni, Shemos, page 195) explain that “unclothed” means stripped of Mitzvot. Hashem initially determined that Am Yisrael was unworthy of being redeemed. Therefore, he “clothed” them, enabling them to earn the merit to live through the performance of the two Mitzvot. Note that the word “blood” in this posuk is actually plural “bloods”, referring to two Mitzvot that involve blood…. Korban Pesach (the Passover Offering) and Bris Milah (circumcision): B’nei Yisrael’s implementation of these two “bloods” was the combined accomplishment that gave them life and sanctioned their salvation. Fittingly these verses from Yechezchel are recited at both the Pesach Seder and at a Bris Milah.

The Targum Yonatan… specifies [Commentary on Sefer Shemos Perek 12, posuk 13] that since circumcision was a requirement for males to participate in the Korban Pesach, both the blood of the korban Pesach and the blood from the Bris Milah were used in that fateful night. Further, regarding the placement of both bloods on the doorposts, Moshe told them (Sefer Shemos Perek 12, posuk 24)

“Ushmartem et hadavar bazeh lechok lecha ulevanecha ad olam” (“You shall observe this matter as a statute for you and for your children forever”). From this…, we see that these Mitzvot have eternal significance.

Chumash relates, as the Sapirstein Edition Chumash with Rashi’s commentary ( page 114-116) renders Sefer Shemos, Perek 12, posukim 12-13 and follows with Rashi’s comments and footnotes:

“And I shall pass through Egypt on this night [15 Nissan], and I shall strike every firstborn in the land of Egypt, from man to animal… I shall execute judgement — I, Hashem. The blood will be a sign for you upon the houses where you are; and I will see the blood and skip over you… when I strike in the land of Egypt.”

“The blood will be a sign for you” — It will be a sign “for you,” but not a sign for others — From here we can see that they only put the blood on the inside. It was “for you alone in that it was not visible to one standing outside the house. And I will see the blood — All is revealed before Him. “I will focus MY attention to see that you are busying yourselves with My commandment regarding placing the blood on the door frame and because of this I will skip over you when I inflict the plague upon the Egyptians.”

“And I will see the blood” — …This verse implies that Hashem will take into consideration the merit of their fulfilling His commandment. It does not speak of actually seeing the blood. (cited from Maskil L’David)

But there was a third Mitzvah to the Yetziyat Mitzrayim. In the Sefer “Inspiration and Insight” — Discourses on the Weekly Parashah by the Manchester Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Yehudah Zev Segal, Shlita, Rav Segal (page 113) renders translation of Sefer Shemos, Perek 12, posuk 39, as well as Rashi’s comments and Yirmiyahu Perek 2, posuk 2:

“They baked unleavened bread with the dough that they had taken with them from Egypt, for it was not leavened, because they were driven out of Egypt and could not tarry there; nor had they prepared for themselves any provisions for the way. (Sefer Shemos, Perek 12, posuk 39)

This tells the praise of the Israelites, that they did not say “How can we go out to the desert without provisions?!” Rather, they had faith and went. It is regarding this that the prophet states (Yirmiyahu Perek 2, posuk 2), “[So said Hashem:] I remember for your sake the kindness of your youth, the love of your bridal days, how you followed Me in a wilderness in an unsown land.” What reward is stated afterward? “Israel is sanctified before Hashem, the choicest of His crop” (Rashi ibid.).

Rav Segal then writes (page 113):

…They became a nation whose pure unquestioning faith earned them their Creator’s praise. More than one million men, women and children headed for the Wilderness without provisions, not knowing how they would survive. They followed Hashem’s command in the way of a young child who unquestioningly accompanies his father on his travels. The child doesn’t worry how he will survive, for he has complete faith in his father’s judgement. Such was the pure faith of the Jewish nation…

Rebbetzin Smiles writes in the same vein, in her sefer “Torah Tapestries” on Sefer Shemos, (pages 33-34), by making reference to the term “mesirus nefesh” which is translated as “giving over the soul.” She writes citing a Shabbos HaGadol drosh in 1900 by Rabbi Pinchas Friedman:

Giving over your soul to something means making a statement of total committment. Serving Hashem with “mesirus nefesh” means coming to the deep realization that serving Hashem is all that matters to us. It matters more than life, and from that realization stems the act of serving Hashem “bechol nafshecha” (with all of your soul) (Sefer Devarim, Perek 6, posuk 5) — even if it means giving up that life… We also realize that the service of Hashem matters more than the selfish aspects of our lives.

So what is the sequel today to the “two bloods”? The Pesach Seder is accessible to all, whether at one’s home, with friends or even in the local Chabad House, and Bris Milah is routinely done on all Jewish males on the eighth day (or if complications of birth occur — as soon as the baby’s health permits)?

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his Sefer “Growth Through Torah” on our Parshat Bo (pages 161-162, 166, 168-169) provides some possible answers. Firstly, Rav Pliskin cites, renders and comments quoting The Ramban on Sefer Sh’mos Perek 10, posukim 16-17 regarding the suffering from the plague of locusts:

“Pharaoh called to Moshe and Aharon and said to them: ‘Now I beseech you, forgive my sin only this once, and pray to the Almighty that He may only take away this death.’” (Sefer Sh’mos Perek 10, posukim 16-17)

The Ramban comments…: Pharaoh realized that it was only Moshe who could intercede on his behalf with The Almighty. For this reason the first part of the verse [posuk 17] is written in the singular. But Pharaoh spoke derech mussar (in a polite and tactful manner)… and asked both Moshe and Aharon to pray for him and for this reason the latter half of the verse is written in the plural.

Rabbi Zissel of Kelm [a pillar of the mussar movement]… cited this… Ramban (Chochmah Umussar, vol. 1, page 456) and added that…. we should learn from Pharaoh. …He needed a favor from Moshe, and Aharon was not able to act on his behalf, he still spoke in front of Aharon in a manner that would not imply any slight to Aharon’s honor. This sensitivity should be our guide in dealing with other people.

If Pharaoh, the perpetrator of the enslavement and persecution of Am Yisrael, could make his requests in such a polite and tactful way to seek relief from Hashem’s plague, so much more so must one Jew, or one sector of Jews, speak to another in a polite and tactful way, free of coercion, invective or polarization, derisive name-calling or actions, so as to not slight the other’s honor.

Rav Pliskin then makes a point by rendering Sefer Sh’mos Perek 12, posuk 28 citing a comment by Rashi on the posuk:

When you want to have a positive influence on others make certain to model that behavior yourself.

“And the Children of Israel went and did as The Almighty commanded Moshe and Aharon, so they did.” (Sefer Sh’mos Perek 12, posuk 28)

Rashi comments…, “so they did” refers to Moshe and Aharon. They also did as The Almighty commanded about the Paschal lamb [the Korban Pesach]. The Torah tells us this as a lesson to anyone who wants to have a positive influence on others. It is not enough just to tell others to do good deeds. Your own behavior should serve as a model for them to follow. (Hagigai Osher)

Action is much more difficult than words. The best way to influence others is to be the type of person you wish others to be.

Again, Rav Pliskin seems, to this author, to be conveying that negative actions, such as coercion or derisiveness by even a few of one sector toward those of other sectors, or by the injustice of mental or physical torture of Jews during interrogation without proof of a crime committed, achieves the very opposite of presenting a positive influence on others. Such actions make for disunity, divisiveness, polarization and downright hatred within Am Yisrael. It seems to this author that those who claim to hold themselves out as closest to Almighty, or those who proclaim themselves as purveyors of “justice” and law in a “democracy” must, therefore, hold themselves to a higher standard, a higher calling. In short, that now somewhat famous “sports-entertainment” quote makes the point: “To talk the talk, you gotta walk the walk.”

So how do we define “mesirus nefesh” (giving over the soul) today, in a context of B’nei Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael? Is it making aliyah?

Is it commitment to selfless kindness L’Shem Shemayim and V’ahavtah L’rei’echa Kamocha toward one’s fellow Jews, regardless of sector? Is it connecting with, and possessing Eretz Yisrael, just as our ancestors “followed Hashem’s command” into the desert with “complete faith in their Father’s judgement”? Is it inserting one’s own body, at risk of billy club beating or arrest, to prevent further expulsions of Jews from Our Land? Or, is it all of the above and more? Is it even possibly the painless right of ALL Israelis to vote, whether in national or local elections — 1 Jew = 1 vote, in unity, with ahavat chinom, FOR Jewish life, rather than appeasement, cruelty to the righteous and resultant bloody terror, or surrender?

Rav Pliskin renders Sefer Sh’mos. Perek 13, posuk 5 and cites The Chofetz Chayim regarding B’nei Yisrael, Torah and Eretz Yisrael:

“…To give you a land flowing with milk and honey, and you shall do this service.” (Sefer Sh’mos. Perek 13, posuk 5)

The Chofetz Chayim commented on this verse…. The Torah and the Land of Israel are one unit. Their relationship is as the relationship between the body and soul. A soul cannot exist alone in this world, The body alone is just dust from the earth. It needs the soul to give it life. The soul of the Jewish people is the sacred Torah. The body is the Land of Israel… The Land of Israel without the Torah, however, is like a body without a soul. It is just a piece of land. Only when both exist together is there a complete unit.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the other MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of 1 1/2 years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Va’eira 5776: The Other Purpose of Slavery, Oppression and the Plagues (Makos)

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, January 2nd, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua — Parshat Va’era is being sponsored by Binyamin and Tracy Skriloff and dedicated for a total, complete refuah shlaima for Binyamin’s neice Zeesa Baila bat Mindel Pescha. To Mishpochat Skriloff, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Va’eira 5776: The Other Purpose of Slavery, Oppression and the Plagues (Makos)

by Moshe Burt

Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch z”l in the new Hirsch Chumash (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Daniel Haberman) renders Sefer Sh’mos, Perek 6, posukim 1-3 (pages 79-81 — the last posuk of Parshat Sh’mos and the opening posukim of Parshat Va’eira:

“Hashem said to Moshe: Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh; for by a strong hand will he let them go, Indeed, by a strong hand will he drive them out of his land.”

“Hashem spoke to Moshe and said to him: I am Hashem.”

“[And was so] even when I appeared to Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov as the All-Sufficing G’d but had not become known to them as that which My Name [Hashem] Signifies.”

Hashem spoke these words to Moshe after he [Moshe] complained that Pharaoh “abused the people even more” (Sefer Sh’mos, Perek 5, posuk 23) since he and Aaron had come to Pharaoh invoking Hashem’s Name saying; “Thus says Hashem, the G’d of Israel: Let My people go…” (Sefer Sh’mos, Perek 5, posuk 1)

R’ Hirsch notes that Hashem had the attribute of hiddenness and then comments on the above posukim — indicative of what Hashem could have said to Moshe in long-form (Sefer Sh’mos, Perek 6, posukim 1-3, pages 79-81):

Hashem… acts in the visible world. He is the One Who, in secret, has directed all that has happened to this point.

Now, however, “I am Hashem” the One Who exercises His Will independent of, and what is more, in complete opposition to existing conditions.

This new revelation of Hashem had been prepared from the very beginning of Jewish history. All the paths of Jewish history have led to this moment. Hashem says: “I was already Hashem when I appeared to Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov… and did not allow My intended sovereignty as Hashem to become manifest to them in their own lives.”

“You are wondering why things have only become worse, and why your mission has served only to push your misery to the utmost limit. Do you not see that your entire history…to this point has been a downward road? Avraham was a Prince of Hashem among the nations, whereas Yaakov was an unfortunate, hard-workng servant who had to toil in order to get himself a wife and then was forced to perform additional labor in order to keep her.” (Hoshea, Perek 12, posuk 23)

“I could have led you on an upward path. Instead of giving Avraham a son on his hundredth year, I could have established for him a family by the time he was seventy… But then this people would not have become Hashem’s people, the people through which Hashem will be revealed… Then this people, like all other peoples, would have been rooted solely in the world of things that can be seen or touched…. This people would have had only physical foundations, and would have sought only material power and material greatness, aspiring to the spiritual and to the moral only… [when] compatible with, and beneficial to its material ambitions.”

“But this people is not to be like the other nations. Unlike the others, this people is to be founded solely upon Hashem and upon the fulfillment of His Will in moral freedom, and is to have an earthly hold and an earthly standing only from and for Hashem and this fulfillment.”

Hence, this people must start where other peoples have stopped. It had to despair of itself; it had to lie prone, about to perish in its own blood (Yechezkel, Perek 16, posukim 5-6), and to rise to nationhood only through the Creator’s call, so that, by its very existence, the people would proclaim to the peoples of the world: “I am Hashem.”

Indeed, R’ Hirsch’s portrayal of Hashem’s long monologue to Moshe contrasting Am Yisrael’s nationhood with the mores, goals and mindset of the nations, particularly these indications: “all other peoples, would have been rooted solely in the world of things that can be seen or touched…. aspiring to the spiritual and to the moral only… [when] compatible with, and beneficial to its material ambitions” brings to this author’s mind this classic scene from the Burt Reynolds movie of the late 1970s, “The End.” Reynolds, swimming far from land, and afraid for his life, cries out:

“I could never make it…Help me make it, Lord, Please…., I’ll give you 50% of everything I make, that’s 50% Lord, I wanna point out nobody gives 50%, I’m talkin’ gross, Lord….”

And as he manages to make it close to land, he says:

“I think I’m gonna make it. You won’t regret this, Lord…. I’m gonna start donatin’ that 10% right away. I know I said 50%, Lord, but 10% to start….”

The Sochaczever Rebbe, Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, z”l writes, in his sefer “Shem Mishmuel” on our Parshat Va’eira (pages 118-120):

It is perfectly clear that the Exodus did not actually require any of… [the plagues] — once Pharaoh refused to allow klal Yisrael to leave his land, Hashem could have simply flattened Egypt with one mighty blow, annihilating them… But… the main aim of the Exodus… was not the destruction of Egypt, but a demonstration of Divine power which left no room for doubt that Hashem controlled the world. The more miracles wrought in Egypt, the greater and clearer the realization that the Holy G’d of Yisrael was in charge of the world. This was the point of the continuous barter with Pharaoh: each step in the destruction of their country led Pharaoh… and his people closer to an appreciation of Hashem’s existence and power.

…One great plague would not have convinced the Egyptians as thoroughly of Hashem’s existence as several smaller ones…. This [one great plague] would never have afforded them the possibility of teshuvah [repentance]. As the Egyptians were punished for their wickedness, they had the opportunity to stop and think about their errors and repent. After any of the plagues, having experienced Hashem’s miraculous intervention in their lives, they could have with drawn their opposition to klal Yisrael and accepted… the Kingship of Hashem, and they would have been forgiven…. This did not happen and will not happen to the nations of the world until the ultimate future, but Hashem nevertheless left the possibility of teshuvah open to the Egyptians during the plagues.

But we learn that there was yet another purpose to the plagues, and indeed the slavery and oppression which preceded the plagues. To reiterate R’ Hirsch’s rendering of quotes above:

“This people is not to be like the other nations. Unlike the others, this people is to be founded solely upon Hashem and upon the fulfillment of His Will in moral freedom, and is to have an earthly hold and an earthly standing only from and for Hashem and this fulfillment.”

Hence, this people must start where other peoples have stopped. It had to despair of itself; it had to lie prone, about to perish in its own blood (Yechezkel, Perek 16, posukim 5-6), and to rise to nationhood only through the Creator’s call, so that, by its very existence, the people would proclaim to the peoples of the world: “I am Hashem.”

In order to be forged into a nation epitomizing emulation of the ways of Hashem, the Creator of all, B’nei Yisrael had to have suffered and endured the subservience of Egypt. In Sefer Devarim, Moshe, during his mussar to B’nei Yisrael, speaks of Hashem freeing Am Yisrael from the “Koor Barzel”, the Iron Crucible of Mitzrayim (Sefer Devarim, Parshat Va’etchanan, Perek 4, posuk 20) — the slavery, the suffering and the oppression. And so, the plagues were not only lost opportunities for Mitzri teshuvah, but also had the purpose of forging amongst B’nei Yisrael a rock-solid belief in Hashem, as well as spirituality and morality based in the ways of Hashem and to serve as a paradigm of both these ways and as light of Hashem unto the nations. May we see the fulfillment of Am Yisrael: spiritually, morally and as Hashem’s light to the nations — 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 brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the other MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of 1 1/2 years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
———————————————————
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 Sh’mot 5776: Coalescing Historical Accounts of the Evolution of Jewish Enslavement in Mitzrayim, Lessons for Today?

Filed under: News Reports on Saturday, December 26th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua — Parshat Sh’mot is being sponsored by Yitzchak and Leyla Gross of Wynnewood, PA to commemorate the Yahrtzeit of Yitzchak’s Mother: Chaya Yita Sarah Bat Aharon. To Mishpochat Gross, many thanks for your sponsorship, your kindnesses through the years in helping facilitate Sefer Torah recycling, 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 Sh’mot 5776: Coalescing Historical Accounts of the Evolution of Jewish Enslavement in Mitzrayim, Lessons for Today?

by Moshe Burt

In previous years, this author has indicated through various historical accounts, such as here and here, such as R’ Pliskin’s citings of R’ Chayim Shmuelevitz, by Rashi, by Rabbi Uziel Milevsky z’l in his sefer “Ner Uziel”, by R’ Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, z’l in the “New Hirsch Chumash”, the Kli Yekar regarding Parshat Vayechi, citings of the Slonimer Rebbe in Rebbetzin Smiles’ “Torah Tapestries”, historian Daniel Pipes, etc., that it is difficult to ascertain the precise time in Egyptian history, and which Pharaoh reigned at the outset of the cruel oppression and slavery of the B’nei Yisrael.

These various accounts allude to various historical accounts as to how it was that the “new” reigning Pharaoh had no recollection of Yosef having saved Egypt from famine, whether this Pharaoh was actually leader of a foreign nation which had conquered Egypt, or whether this Pharaoh had convenient politically expedient amnesia regarding Yosef, or was a new indigenous Pharaoh. Accounts also vary as to whether the B’nei Yisrael remained together in the “Jewish province” of Goshen, separated from the Mitzriyim, or whether they (other than the Levi’im) assimilated into the heartland of Egypt. And this author questions: How could it have been that the Jews could have assimilated in Egypt, discontinued Bris Milah, adopted Mitzri idolatrous ways and sunk to such a lowly moral state had they all remained together in Goshen?

R’ Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, z’l, in the “New Hirsch Chumash” renders and comments on posukim early in our Parsha (Sefer Sh’mot, Perek 1, posukim 8-9, pages 4-5):

“Now a new king rose up over Egypt, who knew nothing of Yosef.”

“And he said to his people: Lo! the B’nei Yisrael are a nation, too numerous and too mighty for us.”

“Now a new king rose up over Egypt” — V’yakam…al Mitzrayim” definitely does not imply a normal, legitimate succession to the royal throne. “Koom al” always denotes a violent overthrow. It seems therefore, that the old dynasty was overthrown and that the land and
people of Egypt fell to the power of a foreign dynasty which had invaded the country.

Had the new dynasty been an indigenous one, Yosef would not have been unknown to the new king. It is typical that the explanation for all of the enmity against the Jews… is that the king knew nothing of Yosef. The [Egyptian] people did know Yosef, and did not look askance at the Jewish province [Goshen] and at the Jewish people growing in it. They [the Egyptian people] considered the Jews benefactors, not as intruders, and did not feel deprived by the Jews’ prosperity.

…The Egyptians were undoubtedly more powerful and more numerous than the Jews living in Goshen — unless we assume… the foreign ruler brought with him to Egypt the people of his own foreign tribe…

The king turned to his own people, the invaders… he said: “The Egyptians we no longer fear, for they are already under our power.

But in the outlying province a tribe is growing too strong, and we will not be able to defeat them so easily.”

…Generally all of the phemonena of history are as old as history itself. Whenever a tyrant sought to oppress his subjects, he would deliver another people whom they [the indigenous subjects] in turn could afflict, and thus they [the indigenous subjects] would feel compensated for the oppression coming from above. This policy was the source of many of the decrees [throughout history] whose purpose was to afflict the Jews.

Similar considerations may have been motivated by the instigator [Pharaoh] of these, the very first anti-Jewish laws… He created a pariah caste, upon which the other castes could look down with contempt, thus self-assured, imagining themselves to be free men.

…Pharaoh found nothing with which to blame the Jews, except for their high birth rate, and that, to justify the harsh measures he intended to enact ["Come, let us deal cleverly with them..." Sefer Sh'mot, Perek 1, posuk 10] he had to cite reasons of “national interest”…]

Rabbi Milevsky writes in his Sefer “Ner Uziel” on on Parshat Sh’mot (p. 297-301), as does R’ Moshe Weissman at the beginning of “The Midrash Says” on Sefer Sh’mot (page 1):

While the Sh’vatim lived, the Jews remained on Goshen and continued in the ways of their forefathers and were dedicated exclusively to Divine Service.

Following the deaths of Yaakov and the sons, the moral fabric began to unravel. The values of the forefathers eroded, particularly among the young and newly-married couples. Although the B’nai Yisrael maintained their Hebrew names [and family purity], their distinct dress, their language, their kindnesses each toward the other, they begin to venture beyond the pale of separation from the Mitzriyim which was Goshen and beyond exclusive Divine service.

R’ Weissman cites The Chazon Ish in “The Midrash Says” on Sefer Sh’mot (page 1):

…When questioned about the actual moral standard of the B’nei Yisrael in Egypt, [The Chazon Ish] explained that despite the righteousness of the Jewish women and the open miracles which they experienced, they [the B'nei Yisrael] were steeped in idol worship. (The Chazon Ish, Letters 108-109)

Could it be that the accounts noted in this vort regarding the evolution toward B’nei Yisrael’s oppression, enslavement, persecution by the Mitzriyim and their reduction to a lowly moral state may all at least be partially accurate? It should be noted here that as Pharaoh devised his cunning plan to combat Jewish population growth by drafting, enticing and luring B’nei Yisrael ultimately into slavery under the guise of patriotism and national responsibility, the Levi’im remained in Goshen. (“The Midrash Says” on Sefer Sh’mot, page 5)

R’ Weissman notes (“The Midrash Says” on Sefer Sh’mot, page 6) and cites Rambam:

One Tribe of B’nei Yisrael was never drafted by Pharaoh, The Tribe of Levi. When Pharaoh issued the original proclamation, they did not appear at work, saying, “We are constantly engaged in Torah-study and have no time to come!” Subsequently, Pharaoh left them alone, and they remained free until the end of the exile. Had they stepped out of the Beit Hamidrash to volunteer their services for even one day, the consequences would have been two hundred and ten years of slavery!

The Levi’im had been instructed by their forefather Yaakov to concentrate on learning Torah. (Rambam, Akoo”m [goy] Alef, Gimmel)

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin (“Growth Through Torah”, Parshat Sh’mot, pages 138-140) quotes from the beginning of Sefer Sh’mot and cites both Ohr Hachayim and Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz in providing yet another dimension to the evolution of Jewish enslavement in Mitzrayim and profound lessons we need to internalize today:

“And Yosef died, and all of his brothers, and that entire generation.” (Sefer Sh’mot, Perek 1, posuk 6)

Ohr Hachayim explains that the enslavement of the Israelites by the Egyptians occurred in three stages. First Yosef died, the Israelites lost their power. Then the brothers died. As long as even one of the brothers was alive, the Egyptian still honored them. Even afterwards as long as the members of that first generation were alive, the Egyptians considered them important and were not able to treat them as slaves.

Rabbi Chayim Shmuelevitz…, commented .. that there are two aspects here. One is on the side of the Egyptians. They were unable to treat the Jewish people as slaves as long as they [the Egyptians] considered them important. The other aspect is on the side of the
Jewish people themselves. As long as they [the Jewish people] were considered important and worthy of respect by themselves [self-respect and self-esteem], the Egyptians were not able to treat them in an inferior manner. Only when they considered themselves in a lowly manner could they be subjugated by others.

Rav Chayim refers to this as how the evil inclination deals with people, i.e. that once a person feels inferior, feels a sense of guilt and worthlessness, “then he is easy prey for being trapped by the evil inclination….”

Rav Pliskin’s citings (“Growth Through Torah”, Parshat Sh’mot, ibid) connect self-respect and having respect for others, or lack of self-respect and resultant lack of respect for others with a citing in gemara Sanhedrin 37a regarding false testimony, i.e., that in capital punishment cases, the witnesses are told:

“In the beginning only one man was created. This is to teach us that whoever causes the death of one person is considered as destroying an entire world. Therefore each person is obligated to say, ‘The world was created for me’”…. Rashi explains….: “That is, I am as important as an entire world. Therefore, I will not cause myself to be destroyed for one transgression.” This, says Rashi, will prevent him from delivering the false testimony.

But in talking about the Jews’ descent into both moral/spiritual decline and into Egyptian oppression, enslavement and persecution, the apparent assimilation into Mitzri society and resultant loss of collective self-respect, are we not all witness to contemporary history as we view the lack of self-respect and resultant lack of respect for others resulting in false, slanderous testimony against one’s fellow Jews by Israel’s governing politicians, the police, the so-called “justice system”, academia, and media intelligencia? Do we not witness the creeping onset in modern-day medinat Israel of systemic persecution of Torah Judaism by an evil, secular, Hellenistic Israeli governance? Are we all not witness as the Hellenists frame us for “price-tag crimes” against Arabs, who in fact commit crimes against each other in order to frame Jews, while these very Arabs destroy our crops, bloody-handedly kidnap, kill and maim our brethren and seize, appropriate and build on Our Land with immunity? A recent Jewish Press piece on the alleged Jewish suspects in an arson attack at the Duma Village during the past summer speaks to this very issue. The article relates:

During hearings in the case of some of the detainees Tuesday it was revealed that they were not allowed to put on tefillin and light Chanukah candles. Attorneys Benzi Kovler and Hai Haber, representing the detainees on behalf of legal aid society Honenu, demanded that their clients be granted their basic religious rights of putting on tefillin and lighting Hanukkah candles.

Spiritual leaders Rabbi Dov Lior and Rabbi David Chai Hacohen sent an urgent letter to the Prime Minister. In it, the rabbis asked the PM to not lose his bearings and not torture prisoners whose guilt has not been proven. The rabbis said that Jews, too, deserve human dignity.

At the end of their letter, the rabbis wrote that in these days, when Arab terror hits us all over the country, our responsibility to defend the dignity of Jews is even greater, and they blessed the Prime Minister that he may be inspired by the Hasmoneans who raised the dignity of Israel among the nations, and that as it happened then we will also merit to receive miracles in our time.

Meanwhile, a corrupt and slanderous Israeli government arrests righteous Jews, accusing us either of vengeful “arson terror” or of “spying”, and “treason” because these righteous ones who cleave to and possess the Land of Israel, inform our fellow Jews that the Shabak and the army are on their way to uproot more Jews — bulldozing and destroying their homes on historical, Biblical Jewish Land and traumatizing their lives.

When a Jewish governance doubts its’ rights, its Divine entitlement to its’ own sovereignty on the entirety of its’ own Divinely-Given land, with nary a thought of the Divine Jewish mission statement, and thus subjugates and persecutes its’ own for acting to assert their Divine Legacy of possessing Eretz Yisrael, it is as if performing a clever, cunning rouse against the governed, the B’nei Yisrael which quietly acquiesces to oppression and persecution. Is it any wonder that murderous Arab snipers, suicide bombers, ambushers, drive-by attacks, green laser and arson attacks, land seizures and attempted kidnappings ensue? Is it small wonder that Arabs display their hands filled with Jewish blood? Contrast today with the days which immediately followed the Six Day War, when Arabs in Jerusalem, Hevron, etc. shivered, quaked and waved white sheets of surrender at the sight of a single Jew.

Are we not witness to ever-increasing polarization in Israel amongst the various sectors of Am Yisrael, including and particularly amongst the sectors of observant Jews? Are we blind to one sector, or a fraction of one sector, imposing and strong-arming its will — at the peril of physical violence, traffic disruption, material destruction and vandalism or verbal defamation — upon other sectors whose mesorah (learned chumras, traditions, etc.) seems not in accord with theirs? And does imposition and strong-arming of one’s ways onto others not constitute a form of false, slanderous testimony against another Observant Jewish sector? And does this false testimony not add fuel to a divide-and-conquer, Hellenistic Israeli governance?

There is another negative aspect which accompanies loss of Jewish self-respect and self-dignity. Commentators refer to the Jews as being as being descended from the Tzaddik Ever, the great-grandson of another Tzaddik — Shem, a son of No’ach. Ever, the name from which we are told “Iv’ri” (Hebrew) evolved, has been defined by commentators as “the other side”, separate, alone, i.e. “a nation which dwells alone.” And yet, as with the Jews in Mitzrayim post-Yosef and the brothers, where large numbers of Jews apparently left Goshen en-masse and inter-mingled with the Mitzriyim in Egypt proper, in the galut, we’ve melted and assimilated, again and again, in whatever nation we happen to reside at any point in history, misplacing our loyalties with another nation rather than with our Jewish nation, hoping that they, that nation, will come to love us and that they will remember our contributions to their society. Of course, this assimilation and misplaced loyalties for the nation of our temporary residence results in just the opposite of the desired “love”, in their hate and disdain for us, i.e. “dislike for the unlike”.

“…Egypt, who knew nothing of Yosef.”

And in our modern-day Jewish State, Medinat Yisrael, the politicians, the governance, the intelligencia, academia, the media and most of the governed yearn to be like the nations — to live the “normal” life. Seems as if we can’t get this intermingling and assimilation out of our national system.

In short, we’ve collectively lost our backbone, our uniqueness among the nations, as well as our own self-respect and self esteem in our projected desire to be “like the nations’ and thus, the nations see us not as “a light unto them”, but as a liability, as objects of derision, hate, subjugation.

Are we, as individuals, soo preoccupied with our individual needs and matzavim that we face a collective spiritual disconnect; i.e., between intellect and vocalization, and the heart and neshama, as our ancestors faced during the Egyptian oppression, slavery and persecution, with the result that we overlook V’Ahavta, L’Rei’echa, Kamocha; caring for the needs of our fellow Jews in other sectors, be they observant or secular? Are we so shallow, so narrow in view and bereft of ability to do our own cheshbon hanefesh regarding important national or local issues that we leave it to communal leaders to tell us what we must think, thereby leaving all of us prey, through polarization and lack of unity among various religious sectors, to the divide-and-conquer modus operendi of a governance dedicated to the dismemberment and eradication of Jewishness, of Yiddishkeit from the minds, hearts and souls of Israelis? And do some of these communal leaders consciously, or sub- consciously still have a mindset dating back to the guile of the ghetto, of the shtetl, of the hundreds of years which pre-dated modern-day Israeli nationhood — times when anything was justified to save a Jewish life? It would seem that Rav Shmuelevitz’s characterization of how an individual, a sector, or the entire Jewish nation views themselves rings true today, just as it did in Mitzrayim and throughout Jewish history:

“Only when they [the Jews] considered themselves in a lowly manner could they be subjugated by others.”

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 brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the other MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of 1 1/2 years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
———————————————————
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 Vayechi 5776: Yosef”s Oath to Yaakov, and Our Times

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, December 19th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua — Parshat Vayechi is being sponsored by Dr. Ari and Rivka Stern and dedicated for Mazel Tov on the upcoming marriage of their son Yisrael Zev to Chaya Bracha Shapiro. To Mishpochat Stern, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Vayechi 5776: Yosef”s Oath to Yaakov, and Our Times

by Moshe Burt

In the second posuk of our Parshat, Yaakov expresses concern lest he be buried in Egypt (The Sapirstein Edition: “The Torah with Rashi’s Commentary”, renders Sefer Breish’t, Perek 47, posukim 29-31, page 522):

“The time approached for Yaakov to die, so he called for… Yosef, and said to him, ‘Please, if I have found favor in your eyes, please place your hand under my thigh and do kindness and truth with me — please do not bury me in Egypt. And I will lie down with my fathers and you shall transport me out of Egypt and bury me in their grave.’

He [Yosef] said, ‘I will do in accordance with your words.’

He [Yaakov] said, ‘Swear to me,’ and he [Yosef] swore to him…”

We learn, near the end of our Parshat, Yaakov’s instructions to his sons regarding: ” I will lie down with my fathers”. “The Torah with Rashi’s Commentary”, renders Sefer Breish’t, Perek 49, posukim 29-31):

“…He [Yaakov] said to them, ‘I shall be brought in to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, in the cave that is in the field of Machpela, which faces Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Avraham bought… from Ephron the Hittite as a burial estate…

Note: Yaakov’s burial place is in Hevron’s Ma’arot HaMachpela where Leah as well as Avraham and Sarah and Yitzchak and Rivka are buried.

Rabbi Henach Leibowitz, in his sefer, “Majesty of Man” (pages 103-104) cites the Ramban:

The Ramban asks why Yaakov insisted that Yosef swear…. His favorite son already promised to fulfill his father’s last request.

Furthermore, when Yaakov asked Yosef, many years before, to find the brothers, Yosef obeyed though he knew he was putting himself in mortal danger. Was there any shadow of a doubt that Yosef would do everything in his power to fulfill his father’s dying wish? Why did Yaakov find it necessary to require an oath?

The Ramban offers an answer: If Pharaoh would forbid the burial in Israel, the oath that bound Yosef would give him the extra strength to defy Pharaoh. We can deduce, therefore, that if Yosef was not made to swear, he… would not have found within him the fortitude required to oppose Pharaoh. The act of taking an oath gave him that added energy. This explanation gives… a glimpse of the tremendous ability of man and the the heights he is capable of reaching when he fully understands the responsibility upon him for a given task…. All one needs is the additional motivation, the extra push to mobilize all of one’s energies, to make what was previously inconceivable, believable, what was thought impossible, achievable.

As we consider Parshat Vayechi, we view the myriad of crises we currently face: Israeli governmental equivocation in face of the 100 Year War of recurrent murderous Islamic terror with its stabbings, shootings, bombings, drive-by, drive-into, green lazer attacks blinding drivers, etc., governmental revision of the “status-quo” to all but eliminate numbers of Jews ascending Our Holy Temple Mount, governmental threat to usurp the upbringing of (observant) children to conform to their [socialist government] secular “moral” standard, political division, rivalry and discord across all sectors, poverty faced by many, sickness — the petrified fear of a single person needing hospitalization in Israel with no one to watch their back or advocate for them before a seemingly insensitive, unfeeling, uncaring medical system, as well as non-existent “law and order” administered by a police, internal security ministry and “justice (sic)” system — all seemingly with an agenda geared toward arresting, prosecuting and persecuting Jews who love their spirituality, Torah morality and Eretz Yisrael [Our Land] — we could go on and on. The Divine requisite of true Torah-based government, where our leaders voice solemn oath before Hashem to serve as Torah-true examples for kol Am Yisrael to emulate, is more than obvious to those not blinded by the lust of political self-interest and self-disdain, lest our times be a “closed parshat” without soul, heart and verbal circuit connection.

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 brother Jonathan Pollard be truly free — upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the other MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of 1 1/2 years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
———————————————————
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 Vayigash 5776: Yosef, the Brothers, Real Teshuvah and, the Compelling Requisite for Mandate of Real National Unity amongst Am Yisrael Today?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, Expulsion, Eviction, Disengagement on Saturday, December 12th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat HaShevua Vayigash is being co-sponsored by Avraham and Miriam Deutsch and family of Efrat lilui nishmas for the yarhtzeit of Avraham’s Mother Sarah Reitza Bat Tzion bat Avraham Yaakov. To the Deutsch family, many thanks for your sponsorship
and your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Vayigash 5776: Yosef, the Brothers, Real Teshuvah and, the Compelling Requisite for Mandate of Real National Unity Amongst Am Yisrael Today?

by Moshe Burt

Over the past nearly 10 1/2 years since the expulsion of our brethren from their homes and neighborhoods in Gush Katif and the 4 Shomron towns, we’ve read occasional reports on Israel’s online news sites, or one of our brethren receives an email, voicing regret from someone who either previously supported the expulsion or who sat on their hands and did nothing, and who now would express contrition and beg forgiveness from their evicted brethren in the hope of either clearing their personal consciences, or sincerely seek peace within Am Yisrael. But with all of the constant repetition of “land for peace” [read 'piece' as in the old Kissinger "salami slicer"] or “2 states for 2 peoples” by a generation of bankrupt governing politicians, media and intelligencia, how do we ascertain true intent, true contrition in these expressions of regret? And how do we bring about a state of true and permanent national unity amongst Klal Yisrael such as to bring Torah-based change in the national political/governmental psyche?

What exactly constitutes true intent, true contrition in Teshuva and true and permanent national unity?

Sefer Shem Mishmuel Sefer Shem Mishmuel, by Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, the Sochaczever Rebbe, as rendered to English by Rabbi Zev Belovski discusses what comprises a complete set (pages 49-51), and the Artscroll Stone Chumash defines unity (pages 1113-1115):

The Torah here describes Klal Yisrael as a united entity — a perfect and complete national body…. Together, working in harmony, Yisrael is a world unto itself, pulsating with the vibrancy of unity… If there were some interference or attempt at adding to the heavenly array, a disaster of cosmic proportions would ensue…. If any addition or subtraction were to befall Klal Yisrael, then its very purpose would be frustrated.

Klal Yisrael comprises many different people, each with their own distinct personality. How, then, is this prized unity to be achieved and maintained? Each member of the nation must subjugate his own needs and desires to those of Hashem. In this way alone can
true unity be achieved, enabling the Klal to function as one organism with a single overall purpose.

“The Midrash Says”, by Rabbi Moshe Weissman notes on Sefer Breish’t, Parshat Vayeishev (page 354):

Reuven left the company. He never partook in meals since he was constantly fasting and praying for having committed the sin of disarranging his father’s couch.

With Reuven out of the picture, Yehudah urges the other brothers present to sell Yosef, to make some money on the situation, dab blood on his tunic and carry the tunic home to Yaakov who then believes that a wild beast ate or ripped apart Yosef. Reuven returns later to the pit and is grief-stricken having found the pit empty. When the sons see the inconsolable grief in their father Yaakov, they rebuke Yehudah and cast him out from the family — thus the story of Tamar. But it seems unfathomable that none of the brothers could have anticipated in advance their father’s inconsolable grief-stricken reaction to what was believed at the time to be the death of his most beloved son. Were they sooo blinded by their jealousy and hatred of Yosef and sooo irresponsible that they cared not about the consequences of their actions until after the fact? Maybe they just didn’t chap that old detective Baretta line — “don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.”

Parsha Mikeitz begins the recording of the whole affair between Yosef and the brothers when they came to Mitzrayim to buy food and were accused by the Viceroy of being spies. We learned how after hearing their story and family history through a translator (actually Yosef’s son Menashe who acted as translator although Yosef understood the brothers completely), Yosef demanded that they bring their youngest brother to him and incarcerated Shimon as insurance that the brothers would indeed return with Binyamin, their youngest brother.

We learn that in the middle of Parsha Mikeitz, with the imprisonment of Shimon, the brothers recognized and attributed their predicament to the sin they had committed earlier by throwing Yosef into the pit and then selling him to the Mitzriyim. Yosef heard and understood their conversation and left their presence to cry silently. (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 42, posukim 21-24)

Then, we learn how when Binyamin was finally brought to Yosef, the brothers were provided with food, but then it was made to appear as if Binyamin had stolen the Viceroy’s silver goblet. The Viceroy detained Binyamin under charges that he had stolen the goblet and released the other brothers to return to their father.

Our Parsha Vayigash begins with Yehuda speaking his appeal to the Viceroy on behalf of his father Yaakov regarding Binyamin’s imprisonment.

Rav Zelig Pliskin (Growth Through Torah, page 119) renders Yehudah’s plea to the Viceroy (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 44, posuk 18):

“And Yehudah approached [unknowing that the Viceroy was actually his brother Yosef] and he said, Please My Master, allow your servant to speak in the ears of My Master and do not become angry at your servant for you are like Pharaoh.”

Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, z”l, in the “New Hirsch Chumash” on our Parshat comments on Sefer Breish’t, Perek 44, posuk 18 (pages 810-811):

Yehudah says to Yosef: “I will not appeal to your emotions but to your intellect, your reasoned judgement.”

Yehudah says to Yosef: I hope that what I have to say will not antagonize you for you are like Pharaoh. If I say something that does not please you, do not think that I said it out of disrespect. What I say to you I would say to Pharaoh.

“Chumash Mesorot HaRav”, The Chumash with Commentary Based on the Teachings of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik z”l quotes from our Parshat Vayigash (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 44, posukim 18 – 19)

“Yehudah approached him [the Viceroy]…. My lord asked his servants, saying, ‘Have you a father or a brother?’”

In his Chumash commentary, Rav Soloveitchik cites a cheder Rebbe from his youth indicating that the purpose of the Viceroy’s [Yosef's] question was:

“…Whether his brothers were still attached to their roots and origins? Are you… rooted in your father?… Do you see your father as the foundation of your existence?… Or are you just like rootless shepherds wandering from place to place, … who forgot their origin?”

R’ Pliskin continues by citing his Rebbe, the late Rosh HaYeshiva of Brisk in Yerushalayim who explained Yehudah’s speech to the Viceroy in two ways (Growth Through Torah, page 119-120):

Even though Yehudah thought… [the Viceroy] did not understand the language he was speaking, he wanted him to hear the depth of feeling behind his words. Even if one does not speak the language, sincerity will come through. “Words that come from a person’s heart enter the heart of the listener.”

The second idea…, was that when you try to influence someone, it is imperative that he [or she] be open to what you have to say. If a person is close-minded and has made up… [their] mind not to pay attention to you, nothing you will say will influence… [them].

Therefore, Yehudah asked… [the Viceroy] to at least give him a fair hearing. “Keep your ears open to the possibility that what I will say has merit.”

Upon hearing Yehudah’s plea regarding the special love affection which Yaakov had for Binyamin, Yosef could no longer restrain himself and revealed himself as he cried out so loudly that he was heard by Pharaoh.

Yehudah, not knowing who he was really talking to, and fathoming all of the power of Pharaoh was behind the Viceroy’s edicts and actions, he had to measure his words just right, just so.

But in today’s world where communications between people are all-to-often reduced to written text and even single-letter words — twitter-style over any number of different chat platforms via computer, cellphone, i-phone, i-pad, etc., not as in the not-too-distant past where communications took place face-to-face and mouth-to-mouth, or by telephone, any textual word or phrase can be strung or understood all out of proportion to how either writer meant them. One person’s joke or light-hearted comment can be misinterpreted by the other person as judgementalness, rebuke, repudiation or worse.

Yosef’s emotions were aroused to the point of tears and crying out by Yehudah’s sincerity and because the brothers had shown, by their rising to the defense of Binyamin, that they had genuinely recognized their aveirah, had done teshuvah, showed true, sincere and serious contrition for what they done to Yosef and were unified in their concern for Binyamin’s welfare. Yosef embraced his brothers and comforted them and “told them not to be sad that they had sold him, for Hashem had actually sent him here to keep them alive during the years of famine.” (L’lMod Ulamed, Parsha Vayigash, page 57).

This unity displayed by the brothers was crucial for the future travails of enslavement in Mitzrayim as the Jewish nation was forged.

But, in our time, the type of unity expressed by Yehudah, and the other brothers, for their brother Benyamin seems lacking amongst B’nai Yisrael.

The modern-day hellenists continue their destructo drive toward self-defeating, self deprecating “land for peace (sic)”, toward the absurd, bogus concept of “2 states for 2 peoples”; all disguises for their true goal — nothing less than the indoctrination of the hearts and minds of Israelis aimed at the mass-eradication of all vestiges and expressions of Jewishness. They seem not to learn from their previous myriad, voluminous errors which have repeatedly placed their brethren in jeopardy. And the vast majority of those who should know better seem unprepared and too self-absorbed to put their individual lives on hold and collectively act with unity, as one to do everything necessary to confront the evil nature of medinat Yisrael’s current national governance and “justice (sic) system.”

Many of the same types who profess to express contrition in requesting the forgiveness of their Gush Katif brethren would repeat the same deed by standing by as the Hayelet HaShachar Shul faced destruction by edict of Israel’s “justice (sic) system.”

We haven’t learned the brother’s lesson yet.

But, in a sense, the political modern-day protexia-class hellenists have learned more than we have — they know our weaknesses intimately and they know how to divide and conquer us by virtue of our own machlokesim (internal disputes/disagreements). Each sector seems set against the other with little if any effort by any of the sectors to sit together and sincerely thrash out the unity and consensus which is crucial to overcome a Hellenistic regime and to ultimately restore Torah Halachic justice as law of the land.

Are we, in our time, chayev to be asked, as R’ Soloveitchik’s cheder Rebbe asked: are we “still attached to our roots and origins? Or have we forgotten our roots?”

It appears as if the various sectors are sooo blinded and polarized by their pervasive disdain and hatred for each other sector that they can’t see the forest for the trees — that in their polarization, they can’t see the abject error of their ways even as the consequences become ever clearer. And in their polarization, it’s not merely leftist “land for peace” vs “Eretz Yisrael Shelanu”, but it is, even amongst the so-called “right wing” who seek to make observant parents’ chinuch of their children conform to government “standard” and regulation, literally Jew vs Jew — Us vs Them. What is meant here?

It would seem that the New Hirsch Chumash explains in commenting on Parshat Mikeitz, Sefer Breish’t, Perek 43, posuk 6 (page 790):

…Once the absolute necessity of sending Binyamin becomes clear to him [Yaakov], and he realizes that Binyamin’s life will be in danger whether he goes with his brothers or stays at home, Yaakov pulls himself together…

When the Jew realizes that no human power can help him, he tells himself [as related in Tehillim 37:5]; what is too heavy for you to bear alone, “roll” over to Hashem. Precisely what is hard to do but is unavoidable, the Jew will do with renewed strength and courage. For where a man’s own power falls short, Hashem’s sovereignty begins…

Torah’s account of the actions and teshuvah of Yehudah and the other brothers on behalf of their brother Binyamin serves as a paradigm for the genuine, heartfelt contrition — the kind soo vitally necessary amongst the sectors of the religious, the kind of action- backed contrition which needs to be expressed, in a sincere, contrite way in order that those who beg forgiveness from the former residents of Gush Katif be accepted as genuine rather than symbolic — symbolism over substance.”

May the invitation extended by Sarah Techiya Litman, in the wake of losing her Father and Brother to a murderous Islamic terror attack as the two were enroute to the Shabbat Chatan for her husband-to-be, for Kol Klal Yisrael to attend her Chassuna, and the immense outpouring of Simcha which resulted, be the first step of Klal Yisrael rising in true Torah-based teshuva and unity so that there can be a true beginning to the binding of the “national self-inflicted wounds” and forming, or re-forming of an overriding Torah-based national unity amongst Am Yisrael.

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be truly free — upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the other MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of 1 1/2 years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
——————————————————
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 Mikeitz/Shabbos Chanukah 5776: The Naivete’ of Jewish Assimilation and Complacency When Amongst the Nations vs Aliyah

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


Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat HaShevua Mikeitz is being sponsored by Moshe and Lauren Pitzele and family from Ramat Beit Shemesh who celebrate their son Yosef Shalom’s third birthday. To the Pitzele family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Mikeitz/Shabbos Chanukah 5776: The Naivete’ of Jewish Assimilation and Complacency When Amongst the Nations vs Aliyah

By, Moshe Burt

Parshat Mikeitz seems to always fall out on Shabbos Chanukah and this author has opened previous vorts on the parsha by harkening back to a vort said over a several years ago at a Shabbos Chanukah Oneg about Yosef in Mitzrayim (Egypt) based on Jay Shapiro’s book “Almost Midrash.” This story of a fictitious second to Yosef was encorporated into a fictional tale entitled “Duaf of Memphis” from Shapiro’s book.

As Shapiro’s yarn goes, Duaf, a former Barber, relating his memoirs about his service and his time with Yosef to an Egyptian scribe. The sometimes humorous fiction depicted how Duaf was drafted and fought bravely in Pharaoh’s army during a war in which Pharaoh and his remaining forces rallied to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Duaf’s role in rallying Pharaoh’s forces earned him a meteoric rise through the ranks of Pharaoh’s army, as well number of important missions on behalf of Pharaoh, culminating in his being appointed as the Viceroy’s right-hand man. In one humorous sideline of the tale, during one of Duaf’s missions, he came to become acquainted with the Habiru people in Cana’an.

The vort contrasted Yosef’s talent for interpretation of dreams and his ingenuity as Viceroy, second only to Pharaoh, in saving Egypt from famine, with the dialogue of Page 13 A & B of Gemora Megillah Esther (the dialogue between Achashveirosh and Haman resulting in the evil decree against the Jews). The point of the Torah Vort was that just as with their longevity in Shushan and throughout Achashveirosh’s Empire, their longevity and assimilation into Mitzri society, after the deaths of Yosef and the brothers, brought the Jews disdain and disparagement by the Mitzriyim as either being useless or too powerful, such as to ally with Egypt’s enemies. In both cases, the antagonists conveniently forgot about Yosef, in direct contrast to the fictional Duaf as he concludes his recitation to the scribe, recounting that “Yosef saved Mitzrayim and will go down in the annals of history.” But we see how quickly Pharaoh and the Mitzrayim subsequently forgot Yosef, despite his ingenuity in saving the Egyptian people from massive famine and starvation, amidst what appeared as a massive integration and assimilation of the descendants of Yosef and the brothers into Egyptian society.

This guy Yosef who interprets dreams soo impresses Pharaoh with seeing from the dreams the onset of drought and famine that he’s made Viceroy, second only to Pharaoh in ruling over Egypt. Here’s this Jewish guy Yosef who makes all the right moves insuring that there is no starvation in Egypt during the famine, and yet, rather than “go down in the annals”, there seems to be no record in all history, other than in our Torah, of Yosef or this period in Egypt. If there were “annals of history” and if Yosef was in fact recorded, such records surely must have been later expunged.

In retrospect, we learn that the resultant slavery and persecution in Egypt welded and melded a nation — the Am Yisrael. However, the lesson of Egyptian enslavement and persecution and the perils of subsequent assimilations and meltings of Jews into alien societies, into the societies of the nations has sadly been unlearned. The error has been repeated again and again throughout history in different ways whenever Jews got comfortable, complacent in where they were at the time, notably in contemporary America, and forgot who and what they are in putting their personal needs, interests, fears and self-loathing above the welfare of Am Yisrael.

Just such an example of the sad lesson unlearned to this day when Aliyah is the easiest since the inception of the Galut, is the mistaken mindset of the Jews of Mainz and Worms, responding to the Jews in Jerusalem upon the building of the Beit HaMikdash Sheini, as recounted in Rabbi A. Leib Scheinbaum’s “The World That Was Ashkenaz” (page 13):

“You stay where you are in the great Jerusalem and we will continue to stay in our little Jerusalem.”

This mindset has its contemporary naive sequels which we’ve all heard more than once: Lakewood Ir Hakodesh, Monsey Ir HaKodesh, Borough Park or Flatbush Ir HaKodesh. Within American Jewry, in the generation of rampant intermarriage which has sapped our numbers, there is also rampant marginalization of Jews toward their Judaism, and thus, toward Israel. So, can Jews still be safe, secure and fully actuate themselves as Jews in the increasingly dangerous and alien venues of Chutz L’Aretz? Have Jews forgotten the lessons of the Nazi-enacted Nurenberg Laws, the direct result of German Jewry’s assimilation and intermarriage?

In forgetting and assimilating into the greater “melting pot” of the society where they reside, many Jews in Chutz L’Aretz have lost their unique Jewish identification. In our time, Chanukah for many Jews evolves into “spin the dreidel”, cutsie, yet shallow assemblies in Conservative Synagogues to make it seem like they are doing something for Jewish youth, yet totally miss the meaning and message of what Chanukah is really all about — the victory of Torah humility and wisdom over Greek contamination.

The parallel here, not only for Jews throughout the world, but particularly for Israelis, both secular and observant, is in how quickly alliances, treaties, agreements or commitments pertaining to Israel and the Jewish people, which either are signed by Arabs, or for that matter, by the nations, including the Superpower, are forgotten or fall by the wayside in the name of expediency, political alignments or realignments, regional, international and economic pressures. We see that agreements, third-party guarantees, either by the US, the EU, the UN and its UNFIL are worthless and worse — totally detrimental to Jewish security and well-being.

But it is not just the demented and corrupted politics, “diplomacy (sic)” and morals of the nations, it is the self-loathing emulation by Israel’s governmental leadership of the ways of the nations, including their dual standards of morality — one morality for them and another, stricter standard for Israel (read as the Jews), in her desperate but futile lust for the love and understanding of the nations.

It’s about the government of Israel’s continuous quivering over accusations by the nations of “disproportional” military or police actions in repelling murderous Islamics in the various and most recent outbreaks of ongoing Islamic war to destroy and eradicate the Jews. It’s about the Israel “Supreme Court” ordering and sanctioning the possible destruction by the Israeli police of a Beit Knesset on a site, falsely claimed to be owned by Arabs, in a Jerusalem neighborhood — what can only be seen and understood as an attack upon all observant Jews and a huge Chillul Hashem. It’s about legislation pending in Knesset which, if passed into law, would take children’s chinuch, i.e. right “to physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development and to develop their talents and personal abilities” out of the hands of parents and into the hands of governmental authorities, i.e. social workers, or “third party[ies] such as a psychologist or mediator…” And it’s about much more, all in a ongoing struggle by the secular vs the Torah-observant for the hearts and minds of Jewish Israel.

There are among us, the modern-day Hellenists who spin each betrayal as other than, and who keep coming back for more changeable third-party guarantees or assurances rather than to “bite the bullet” and admit that they’ve “put good money after bad” by repeatedly putting the security and well-being of the Jews at perilous risk. And in fact, these Hellenists keep spinning and keep brainwashing the masses, even by attempting to pass laws against outreach and Teshuvah, or by attempting to legalize halachically prohibited (gay) marriages, out of disdain and blind hatred of their Jewishness and anything Jewish.

From the precedent of forgetting Yosef, and its comparable events throughout Jewish history, the conclusion, the lesson to be drawn, particularly in these times when we are again in the Land of Israel, is that Jews must look only to themselves, and most importantly, Hashem, to guarantee their own security and wellbeing. We must understand and internalize the adage for the chapter from the book “The Revolt” by Menachem Begin z’l entitled “We Fight, Therefore We Are” — that ONLY Jews, with the Help of HaKadosh Borchu, are capable of protecting and defending Jews and insuring their security. And a substantial part of that “fight” is done with the mind, heart, hands and feet when Jews, young people, young couples with young children, as well as the more established and the retired pick up, transition from their parnossa, their homes, neighborhoods and their children’s schools in Chutz L’Aretz, pack, get on that plane and resettle themselves in Eretz Yisrael.

And so, may our brethren from Gush Katif and the Shomron, together with all intellectually honest and enlightened Jews, including new olim, rise up to do battle for the Jewish mind and soul, just as the Maccabees did in doing battle against the Greeks.

May it be in this year and in all future years, that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif – the vast majority still seeking their permanent places, our brethren in the South — S’derot and the other towns bordering Gaza, and those in the North who still live under threat of Katushyas and Hezbollah, as well as our dear brethren, Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, be central in our thoughts, prayers, chassadim and actions.

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 brother Jonathan Pollard’s true freedom — his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the other MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of 1 1/2 years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos and Chanukah 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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