Parshat Balak 5775: Arrogance and Bias and the Modern-Day Bila’ams Within

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, June 27th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off







Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Balak is being sponsored by Dov & Bracha Moses of Ramat Beit Shemesh for a Refuah Shlaima to Bracha’s sister, Yehudit bat Chaya Perel and to her Mother, Chaya Perel bat Rifka. To the Moses family, many thanks for your sponsorship and continued kindness.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Balak 5775: The Arrogance and Bias and the Modern-Day Bila’ams Within

by Moshe Burt

Our Parshat informs us that as Bila’am traveled on his donkey to meet Balak, three times a moloch (angel) blocked the donkey’s way, and three times Bila’am struck the donkey trying to force it to continue. After Bila’am’s third attack, the donkey miraculously spoke.

In previous divrei Torah, this author cited a vort by Shem Mishmuel (translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski) pages 347-351 which discussed the significance of the sudden speech of the donkey in Torah “‘ ‘What have I done to you, that you hit me these three times.” (Bamidbar Perek 22, posuk 28)

Shem Mishmuel (translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski), pages 347-351 comments:

“Hashem opened the mouth of the donkey, and it said to Bila’am, ‘What have I done to you, that you hit me these three times.’”

Perhaps Bila’am’s actions toward his donkey while enroute to meet Balak, and the resultant historical she-donkey’s monologue and rebuke of him might have been the inspiration behind a famous long-running American comedy series. It was back in the days when American TV was still clean, slapstick and somewhat pure. You know the one:

Hello, I’m Mr. Ed!

A horse is a horse, of course, of course,
and nobody talks to a horse of course,
that is of course unless the horse is the famous Mr. Ed.

There are many lessons that we draw from this sudden chain of events; Bila’am’s arrogance, his bias against Am Yisrael which drove him, even when his donkey’s path was blocked, and his deliberate attempts to circumvent and override the Will of Hashem in attempting to curse Am Yisrael. In the incident with his donkey, Bila’am was unable to see or perceive the obstacle, the moloch, which stood in the way of the donkey’s path. There is a profound lesson here for us today as the media, intelligencia, academia and political elites attempt to subvert the masses, create biases among the various sectors of Am Yisrael and orchestrate actions by successive Israeli governments such as to jeopardize the nation’s security and sovereignty.

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” (pages 350-352) presents two crucial points for us to learn and internalize from the incident of Bila’am and his donkey and his attempts to curse the Jewish people. On the first point, R’ Pliskin cites Rabbi Chayim Shmuelevitz:

…Any unbiased person who heard that the Almighty said not to go with the messengers [Balak's] would understand that the Almighty did not want Bila’am to curse the Jewish people. We see here the power of bias to blind a person from seeing what the unbiased person could see.

What did Bila’am report back to the messengers of Balak? That the Almighty considered him so distinguished that He would not allow him to go with them. It is quite possible that Bila’am did not merely lie to them. Rather his own arrogance led him to fool himself about what he thought were the Almighty’s intentions.

On the second point, R’ Pliskin cites Talmud (Makos 10b);

…The Almighty told Bila’am not to go with Balak’s messengers who requested that he accompany them to curse the Jewish people. From here, the Talmud derives the principle, “In the way a man wishes to go, he is led.”

If a person wants to do evil, he will be able to do so. But he will pay a heavy price for the completion of his evil wishes…. When you wish to travel along a certain path in life, you will be divinely assisted.

The existence of the moloch blocking the way was not visible to Bila’am, as it was to his donkey. But in our times, that so many of Am Yisrael could overlook or have selective amnesia regarding history, even obvious recurring contemporary history, regarding South Lebanon and Hezbollah, Gaza and Hamas, the so-called “PA” (read PLO, Fatah), Iran and their nuclear designs as well as outside money-fueled propaganda confounds the mind. And that bias among Jews, particularly against their fellow Jews who populate Our Biblical historical land in Yehuda and the Shomron (Judea and Samaria), land legally acquired in the Six Day War — a mandatory defensive war for Jewish survival, is perilous to the nation and equally confounding.

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

Good Shabbos!
*****************************************************************
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 Chukas 5775: Chukim, Tradition and Jewish History

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, News Reports on Saturday, June 20th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Parshat Chukas is being co-sponsored by Rabbi Harry and Judith Greenspan of Ramat Beit Shemesh, in memory of their parents, Falik ben Hertske, Miriam Ella bat Yisrael Eliezer HaCohen and Nachum ben Yosef and Janet bat Henry, all of blessed memory, and by Binyamin and Tracy Skriloff, also of Ramat Beit Shemesh in the merit of Am Yisrael. To the Greenspan and Skriloff families, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Chukas 5775: Chukim, Tradition and Jewish History

by Moshe Burt

Rabbi Moshe Weissman, in his sefer, “The Midrash Says,” writes regarding Parsha Chukas (Sefer Bamidbar, pages 245-247):

There are numerous examples of chukim…. Since they contain apparently contradictory elements, they are liable to be ridiculed by a rational thinker. The Torah advises the Jew to tell himself, It’s a chok; I have no right to question it.”

Nevertheless, chukim are not “laws without reasons”; rather their logic is Divine. The greatest among our people were able to understand some of them.

Thus the rationale behind the laws of the parah adumah were Divinely revealed to Moshe.

On the other hand, King Shlomo, who researched the reasons behind the mitzvot and found explanations for all of the others, professed that this mitzvah was incomprehensible.

Shlomo…. confessed, “I thought I would get wisdom, but it (the mitzvah of parah adumah) is far from me. (Koheles 7:23)

To appreciate his words fully…:

“And Hashem gave Shlomo very much wisdom and understanding and breadth of knowledge like the sand that is on the sea shore.” (1 Melachim 5:9)

Rabbanim and commentators, throughout the generations, have indicated that at their deepest levels, all of Halacha could be viewed as Chukim which we humans don’t fully understand at their most Divine levels.

During the week of Parshat Shelach, this author received by email a D’var Torah written by a Rabbi Yisrael Kaniel which can be seen as thoughts applying to our Parshat Chukas as well. Rabbi Kaniel is Associate Director for Religious Affairs and Manager of Operations at B’Ahavat Yisrael in Israel.

R’ Kaniel writes these powerful words:

It is said about the latter day Torah luminary R. Yaakov Kamenetsky that he was very exacting in adhering to the customs of his father and teachers. A story is told that his son once inquired why he did not eat cheese on Friday, to which he responded, “Because my father did not.”

When his son pressed on as to why his grandfather did not eat cheese, R. Kamenetsky replied, “Probably because his father did not.” Just the fact that his father had a given custom was enough for R. Kamenetsky to continue that custom – whether he understood the reason or not. He relied on his father’s understanding and intelligence and accepted that as good enough reason to follow in his footsteps, even though it could be argued that he outshined his father in his level of erudition (see Yonason Rosenblum, Reb Yaakov, pp. 358 – 359).

R. Kamenetsky understood that his father was intelligent enough that if he did something, then there must have been a good reason and, even if he did not know it, it was good enough for him to accept. All the more so, should our ancestors in the desert have come to such a conclusion when it came to something related to them by G-d Himself. Tragically, however, that was not the case. Our ancestors were tripped up by their emotions and egos in the desert and suffered the consequences. After seeing that the people He guided and led as if on the “wings of eagles” did not exercise enough discretion to trust in Him, G-d responded, “Have it your way.” Choosing then to follow their own thoughts and feelings rather than simply accepting the eminently thoughtful guidance of their Father in heaven brought eventually to their “undoing,” so to speak.

As it is expected of us to respect and honor our Father in Heaven, we also are instructed in the Torah, in the Ten Commandments (Shemot 20:12), “Honor you father and your mother, so that your days will be lengthened upon the land that the L-rd your G-d gives you.” Rashi on this verse stresses, “If you will honor [them] your days will be lengthened, but if not they will be shortened.” Respecting and honoring one’s parents is not a matter to be taken lightly. In fact, one’s life can depend on it.

When G-d saw that the Children of Israel ignored His eminent advice, He told them, “Have it your way,” watching as they chose the wrong path, something that could have been avoided had they properly recognized the value of the Al-Mighty’s Word. The Children of Israel, unfortunately, suffered the consequences and their relationship with their Father in Heaven was damaged. When parents see that their children ignore their opinion, they too have no alternative but to say, “Have it your way,” and, unfortunately, what could have been a warm, helpful and productive long-lasting relationship can wither and suffer irreparable damage.

Ignoring G-d is obviously infinitely more severe, but, in each case, pitfalls can be avoided if one has the proper approach. Let us not pamper our egos or emotions at the expense of our intellects and common sense. Let us learn our lesson from the Torah and those who uphold it such as R. Kamenetsky and other Torah greats like him over the generations who showed great respect for their parents’ beings, actions and thoughts, even when they eventually outshined them. Let us not seek to have it “our way.” Let us only seek the “right way.” Let us seek proper counsel and let us truly respect that counsel. Let all of us learn to show the requisite sensitivity and respect, as well as gratitude and appreciation, to our parents and all the more so to G-d, and may we all merit, thereby, that “your days will be lengthened” , enjoying fulfilling and thriving lives – without pitfalls that could be avoided.

So, just as R’ Yaakov Kamenetsky carried on the mesorah (traditions) of his Father and passed them on to suceeding generations based on the understanding and intelligence of his Father, and just as other Torah luminaries have carried on the traditions of their Fathers, this story of R’ Yaakov Kamenetsky accepting his Father’s tradition even as he inquired of his Father about not eating cheese on Friday, serves as a parable teaching us about acceptance of all Torah laws as Chukim — laws whose ultimate reasons are known only to Hashem.

Halachot regarding the Parah Adumah (the Red Heffer) and it’s purification qualities, Bassar V’Chalav (separation between meat and milk), tumah and taharah (impure or contaminated and pure), and Shatnes (not to wear fabrics with a mix of wool and linen) are but a few of the Halachot for which we don’t possess a deeper understanding and rationale. We are told that at a human level of understanding, the Chukim represent a distinction between spiritual and the mundane, Holiness vs profane. We learn that Chukim are to be accepted as expressions of faith, even though we may not understand, or possess a full understanding of them.

The Artscroll, “Stone Chumash”, in its commentary at the beginning of our Parsha (Perek 19, page 838) explains:

It is axiomatic… that since all of the laws of Torah are the products of Hashem’s intelligence, any human inability to comprehend them indicates the limitation of the student, not the Teacher. As the Sages expressed it, there is nothing meaningless or purposeless in the Torah, and if it seems so, it is only a product of our own deficiency. (Rambam)

The placement in Torah of the Parah Adumah, and its qualities of purification from tumah, in our Parsha Chukas raises questions as to why it and it’s Halachot are mentioned here in our Parsha; only after the Affair of the Spies, Korach’s rebellion and after the continued murmuring of the Am against Moshe Rabbeinu, after the plague which killed thousands only ending with Aaron’s carrying an incense pan amongst the people (upon Moshe’s instruction), and after the story of the rods.

“Rabbi Artscroll” presents one answer to the “why” of Torah’s placement of the Parah Adumah with a brief commentary in The Stone Chumash (Artscroll, “Stone Chumash”, Parsha Chukat, Perek 19, posuk 1, page 839) on the words at the beginning of our Parsha:

“…el Moshe, v’el Aaron…” “Hashem spoke to Moshe and to Aaron saying: ‘This is a decree of the Torah, which Hashem has commanded, saying: speak to the B’nai Yisrael, and they shall take to you a completely red cow, which is without blemish, and upon which a yoke has not come.’”

The answer speaks of the symbolism of the Parah Adumah (the Red Heiffer) coming to atone for the sin of the Eigel Zahav (the Golden Calf) “… as if to say let the Mother come and clean up the mess left by her child…”

The Artscroll, “Stone Chumash”, in its commentary at the beginning of our Parsha (Perek 19, page 838) notes:

…The Torah states that it [the Parah Adumah] is a decree of the One Who gave the Torah, and it is not for anyone to question it. (Rashi)

Back in Philadelphia, in the “Old Country”, Rav Moshe Ungar would render a similar explanation to the Stone Chumash: that the phenomenon of the Parah Adumah as a Tikkun given B’nai Yisrael after the Eigel Zahav was to be an eternal rectification of the tumah, the defilement of the Eigel Zahav. In other words, the Tikkun only later revealed in Parsha Chukat, tells us that, like a doctor treating an ill patient, that the remedy for illness generally precedes the illness itself; that the means of rectification of a Chet precedes the Chet itself.

We have seen the adage play out throughout our history of the remedy for illness preceding the illness itself; that the means, or potential, for rectification or salvation of B’nai Yisrael precedes the Chet or danger itself, as with Esther HaMalka in place, and Mordechai’s foiling of the poison plot against the king written in the annals prior to Haman’s evil plot against the Jews. The existant remedies brought about Haman’s downfall and hanging and the salvation of B’nai 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 brethren Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah

b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
*****************************************************************

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 Korach 5775: Lessons for Today from Korach, Two Wives and the Southern Side of B’nai Yisrael’s Encampment

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, June 13th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

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

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Korach 5775: Lessons for Today from Korach, Two Wives and the Southern Side of B’nai Yisrael’s Encampment

by Moshe Burt

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

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

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

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

The south side of the encampment seems to have been kind of a rough neighborhood full of apparent potential conspirators. One could say the event of the Miraglim brought about an unholy alliance, the opening of the proverbial “Pandora’s Box.”

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

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

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

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

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

As if Korach’s self-assured impudence wasn’t enough, he apparently was egged on further by his wife. “The Midrash Says” notes:

Korach’s wife inflated her husband’s ego and repeatedly reassured him that he was on a par with Moshe and Aaron. To his misfortune, Korach listened to his wife.

“The Midrash Says” then cites R’ Bach’ya regarding men whose wives led to their downfall (Sefer Bamidbar, page 203):

There were two extremely wealthy people, one Jew and one gentile, who listened to their wives, were destroyed, and lost their fortunes. The Jew was Korach, whose wife inspired him to rebel against Moshe. The non-Jew was Haman, who listened to his wife to erect a gallows… for Mordechai. Little did he realize that he was preparing the gallows for himself.

Just as the story of Korach’s rebellion relates how Korach’s wife fed his ego urging him on in rebellion against Moshe, another wife, of Ohn ben Peles of the Tribe of Reuven who was an original supporter of Korach, saved her husband’s life by speech and action, preventing him from being swallowed up when the earth opened up enveloping Korach and his other supporters.

The sefer “Inspiration and Insight”, Discourses on the weekly Parsha by the Manchester Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Yehudah Zev Segal, Shlita z”l (pages 226-227), as well as The Encyclopedia of Biblical Personalites by Yishai Chassidah cite Gemara Sanhedrin 109b which explains:

Rav said: “Ohn ben Peles was saved by his wife. She said to him,’What difference is it to you [whether Moshe, Korach, or anyone else is your leader]? If this one is your teacher, then you are but a student, and if the other is the teacher, then you are still but a student!’ Ohn told her, ‘What can I do? I took part in their plans and swore to join them.’ She said, ‘I know that the entire nation is holy, as it is written, “For the entire assembly is holy” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 16, posuk 3). Sit and I will save you.’ She then gave him wine and he was intoxicated and put him to sleep inside their tent. She sat herself at the entrance of the tent and uncovered her hair. Whoever saw her went away.”

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

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

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

Shem Mishmuel relates a thought on Korach from Rashi;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We now return to the wife of Ohn ben Peles about whom sefer “Inspiration and Insight” (page 226) comments:

Ohn’s wife used very simple logic: Why get involved in a dispute of such magnitude when you stand to gain nothing? It would seem that Ohn should have realized this himself…. another proof of the yetzer hara’s prowess in beclouding our thinking and preventing us from recognizing obvious truths. Persuaded by Korach’s arguments and perhaps afflicted with his own envy, Ohn was was at the fore of the… challenge to Moshe’s authority. His wife, however, was free of such influences and had no difficulty perceiving that which was obvious.

This author returns to the above quote by Rabbi Ressler in his citing of Rashi from Pirkei Avot:

“Woe to an evil person, and woe to his neighbor.” The 250 people met their death, simply because they were influenced by their neighbors! This points to the awesome influence that friends, neighbors and associates have on us.

There are lessons here not to be lost on today’s generations, as individuals and as an Am.

In an age where one can easily be manipulated, endoctrinated, swept-up and dumbed-down by questionable national leaders, politicians, academicians and media types projected over easily accessible electronic media, i.e. television, internet, i-phone applications, etc., simple logic can often get lost amidst the maze of talking-heads, i.e. Ehud Barak’s recent calls for Unilateral Steps if the PA refuses to talk. As prime minister, he initiated Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from South Lebanon into which Hezbollah filled the void with the resultant installation of at least 100,000 rockets targeting all of Israel. He supported the expulsion of his fellow Jews from Gush Katif into which Hamas filled the void with the resultant installation of tens of thousands of rockets targeting all of Israel. And now, totally oblivious to historical facts, he wants to set borders in denial of Jewish history, spirituality and the Divine legacy of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael. He wants to set borders characterized by no less that Abba Eban as Auschwitz borders — putting our population centers at risk from short-range rockets, destroying tourism and the rest of Israel’s economy, putting air travel in and out of Ben-Gurion airport at risk from mortar and rocket fire from inside the so-called “Palestinian (sic) state.”

It seems to this author that one does not have to be Halachically observant to apply simple historical logic and common sense gained over Israel’s 67 years of modern-day nationhood to the ongoing equivocal governmental-politically-correct-diplomatic chaos existing in modern-day Israel. But then again, I was born in the year of Israel’s modern-day nationhood, long before the Ehud Baraks, Buzis and Tzipi Livnis, Ya’ir Lapids, etc. came to the political fore.

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

Good Shabbos!

**************************************************************
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 Shelach 5775: Modern-Day Sequels to Distortions of the Miraglim, and the Ongoing War for the Jewish Soul in Eretz Yisrael

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Monday, June 8th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

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

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Shelach 5775: Modern-Day Sequels to Distortions of the Miraglim, and the Ongoing War for the Jewish Soul in Eretz Yisrael

by Moshe Burt

Our Parsha Shelach, and the affair of the miraglim — the spies, annually brings to mind the evolution of the Israeli media, academia, political, governmental scene which has brought us to the state of affairs we are facing and continue to face today. This state of affairs includes the Nation facing continuing threats of tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of rockets aimed at all parts of Israel by both Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, continued governmental tolerance or indifference to Arab attacks upon Jews — near the Kotel, throughout Jerusalem and throughout Yehuda and the Shomron, as well as the prohibition of Jews, even MKs, from praying at Har HaBayit (The Temple Mount), of alleged police framing of Jews regarding alleged violence and damage in so-called “Arab areas.” Lest we forget the thousands of Hamas/PLO rockets which rained down upon southern Israel during the series of conflicts in Gaza since the expulsion of our Jewish brethren from Gush Katif. And we watch as an equivocal prime minister and government speak strong words against a “two-state solution”, only to eat those very words mere days or hours later. These all show clearly that the politicians, the elitist intelligencia, and many of the masses still have not learned and internalized the lessons which should have been gleaned after Jew expelled Jew from Gush Katif, and historically, the lessons of the actions of the 10 corrupt spies.

Israel National News recently posted an Op-Ed piece well worth reading in tandem with this Parshat HaShevua — Analysis: The Woman Who Brought Israel Under Hezbollah Threat about how, in the late 1990s, Israel’s media distorted their reporting of events on Israel’s border with Lebanon, misleading Israel’s public opinion in order to orchestrate and lay the groundwork which eventually led, under the government of then-prime minister Ehud Barak, to the May, 2000 withdrawal of the IDF from their security belt in Lebanon. This IDF withdrawal is said to have ultimately brought Hezbollah military and political dominance in Lebanon which has led to 100,000 rockets aimed at all of Israel. Some or many of these rockets could be armed with chemical warheads. This Op-Ed provides much insight as to the consequences of the bourgeoning influence of today’s misguided spies, the leftist media, intelligencia, academia and entrenched leftist influence in Israel’s political institutions.

And then there is the leftist’s darling, champion, chief manipulator, and modern-day distorted spy and a former Israel president who recently proclaimed, “There is a clear majority in Israel for ‘Two-State Solution’”.

Thus, it seems that we continue experiencing a prolonged internal war for the soul of Am Yisrael reminiscent of events surrounding the Divinely-sanctioned directive by Moshe to send spies (miraglim) into Eretz Yisrael. Just as Am Yisrael cried needless, bitter tears in our Parshat Shelach, modern-day Israelis, many seemingly devoid of Emunah in The Almighty as they are bombarded with leftist endoctrinations and brainwashings, and lies and distortions framed as “facts”, throw their hands up in misguided fear, as if latter-day grasshoppers, bitterly proclaiming; “ein ma’alah sot, ein ma’alah sot.” One can only wonder whether the current nationalist Justice Minister, Deputy Foreign Minister and Education Minister will carry any clout whatsoever in a government barely a majority and where its prime minister seemingly is waiting on a so-called “national unity” coalition.

Each year, as we reach Parshat Shelach, this author’s memories harken back to one Yom Nora’im (High Holidays) the late-1980s in Philadelphia, in the years just prior to becoming Ba’al Teshuva, and when the seeds of “Shalom Achshav” — “Peace Now” (sic) were being tended by the nascent Israeli/Jewish left.

The conservative synagogue attended for Rosh Hoshana and Yom Kippur had a practice of bringing in a young JTS (Jewish Theological Seminary) guest rabbi to help and assist the synagogue’s long-time Rabbi who was getting on in years. This particular Yomim Tovim, they brought in a young fellow who proceeded to pitch the philosophies of Breira, one of the leftist-agendized predecessors of Shalom Achshav.

These were years before “Shalom Achshav” emerged and succeeded in snowing and propagandizing hundreds of thousands of Israelis while sprouting, with the help of European NGOs, numerous different heads and tentacles which connected with leftist, Arabist, anti-semitic funding sources. And so this young conservative “traditional (sic)” rabbi-to-be proceeded to turn the Torah’s account of the Miraglim (the spies) on its head. He portrayed the evolution of leftist “ideology”; from Breira, to the Progressives, to “Shalom Achshav”: of “land for peace (sic)” as a worthy sequel to Yehoshua and Caleiv, who took their lives in their hands to defend Hashem and who urged the people on into Eretz Yisrael.

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” (Page 325-326) cites mussar Rabbi A.M. Shimanowitz, who would cite Rashi on Bamidbar Perek 13, posuk 27:

“And they told him, and they said, we came to the land where You sent us, and it is flowing with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.”

“Rashi cites the Sages on this verse that, ‘Every falsehood that does not start with some truth will not last.’ Unfortunately, today there are many people who mistakenly feel that every truth that is not mixed with some falsehood will not last.” (Chayai Hamussar, vol. 1, page 71)

So, of course this young “Rabbi” wannabe took the truth of Yehoshua and Caleiv: “the Land is good” and turned it upside-down, inside-out and sideways spinning and manipulating it to suit his leftist ideological agenda, just as the other 10 spies used a little bit of truth about the Land and the display of its fruit to further their agenda.

This wet-behind-the-ears so-called rabbi attempted to gain new adherents to the “land-for-peace(sic)” cause by portraying himself and other Breira, Progressive, Shalom Achshav, Noam Chomsky-types as if like Yehoshua and Caleiv — the minority speaking truth about the Land and, as if life-endangered, “poor, misunderstood” under-dogs when in fact they were the early version of what would later become a full-blown, well-oiled, mega-funded post-zionist Trojan Horse propaganda machine which would team up with the Arab enemy, the EU and leftists worldwide while steam-rolling and endoctrinating Israel’s secular masses — the so-called (by Israelis re: post Six-Day War Youth) “golden youth” and their succeeding generations whose Jewishness and Torah rooting was anything but solid.

These leftist, elitists — these scoffers are the latter day sequels of the complainers about whom Yehuda Nachshoni (Studies in the Weekly Parsha — Behaaloscha, page 991) cites Akeidah as indicating that:

“They desire to be free of any ethical or spiritual bonds.”

Nachshoni goes on to indicate (Studies in the Weekly Parsha — Behaaloscha, page 991):

This is what Chazal mean when they interpret the word “free” as free from Mitzvot (Sifre). With their exodus from Egypt they had become physically free, but their souls took on Hashem as their master. Now they wished to sever that bond. That is why the Holy One says: “You have abhorred Hashem, Who is in your midst, and you have wept before Him saying: Why did we leave Egypt” (Bamidbar, Perek 11, posuk 20). They did not explicitly say this, but the Holy One, Who knows man’s secret thoughts, knew that they wished to throw off the yoke of Heaven, but masked this with the complaints.

And so, the 10 of the 12 miraglim, seemingly selfish to perpetuate and maintain their little empires, seemingly preyed upon the weakness and vulnerability of the masses of Am Yisrael.

As a result of this ever-growing, corrosive leftist influence, we see a trend and evolution which has progressed toward such abominations amongst the Am, as the new “civil rights movement” — equality for and evolvement toward state sanction and sponsorship of same-gender relationships and “marriages” and attempted enticements, subversions and coercions by others to bring the state to hand sovereignty over Jewish Holy Places to other religions, i.e. Vatican’s ambitions to acquire King David’s tomb (click here as well).

This young conservative rabbi-wannabe counted on the abject ignorance of American Jews to their history, to their heritage and even to events of contemporary modern days, such as the Entebbe rescue, as well as an ever-declining attention span, as the means of gaining gullible adherents by default. These were the predecessors of Oslo who blazed their way toward the phenomena of Jew expelling Jew, attempted implementation of “Road Maps” and of leaders being “too tired to fight, too tired to win.”.

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

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

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

What caused the Spies to become corrupted?

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

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

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

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

Rabbi Dr. Wakslak goes on to write:

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

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

And so, true to the form which both Nachshoni and Rabbi Dr. Wakslak describe, the disunity, and apparent mutual jealousy and distrust within the religious sectors today, coupled with the leftist, elitist intelligencia scoffers whose distorted historical revisionism have fed efforts by successive Israeli governments who sought, seek to divide and conquer, maintain, consolidate and perpetuate their secular kingdom at the expense of the governed and at the expense of Jewish sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael as well as against the advent of a REAL Jewish leadership. Such a Real Jewish leadership would be in nobody’s pocket, would owe no debts to today’s political hacks, would make no bargains with hacks who would throw any locality or segment of the governed “under the bus.” This Real Jewish Leadership would subserviant ONLY to Shemayim.

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

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

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

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

Good Shabbos!

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

Parshat Beha’aloscha 5775 — Aaron HaKohen’s Enthusiasm and Constancy of Service Contrasted with Our Recitation of Aleinu

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, May 30th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat HaShevua Beha’aloscha is being sponsored by Dr. Dov & Debbie Rosen of Ramat Beit Shemesh with a wish for hatslocha for the children of RBS. To the Rosen family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

*****************************************

Parshat Beha’aloscha 5775 — Aaron HaKohen’s Enthusiasm and Constancy of Service Contrasted with Our Recitation of Aleinu

by Moshe Burt

The opening posukim of our Parsha teach us:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, let’s look at excerpts from a piece dated 7 May, 2014 by Rabbi Emanuel Feldman (in Mishpocha magazine) “Where the Holy and Mundane Meet”:

Band-Aids, paper clips, zippers, earplugs, Bubble Wrap, tea bags: What do these items all have in common? This: They are indispensable fixtures of daily life, they make our lives much more livable — and they are taken completely for granted.

Take the lowly paper clip. Do we ever give it a second look? But try holding documents and papers in an orderly manner without a paper clip, and then you will appreciate what life would be like without one.

And what about those useful little Post-it notes? They come in all colors and sizes, and help us organize (or, in my case, un-disorganize) our activities. Our lives are filled with such ubiquitous little helpers: Scotch/cello tape, Saran Wrap, aluminum foil — all those anonymous household items that we take for granted but make life a little easier.

Atlanta’s Museum of Design is now presenting a special exhibition of these overlooked, everyday items, which they call “Hidden Heroes: The Genius of Everyday Things.”

Perhaps we should mount a similar exhibition in the museum of our minds, a …. special room featuring “taken-for-granted prayers.” Inside, you will find specially framed reproductions of overlooked but indispensable prayer fixtures of daily life. Here you will not find Kol Nidrei, or Ne’ilah, or Hallel; instead, in one corner is a framed reproduction of Ashrei (Tehillim 145), recited three times each day, 365 days a year. Ashrei is the paper clip of davening: We say it so frequently that we take it for granted, often mumbling the words while our thoughts are a thousand miles away. But Ashrei is the paper clip that keeps daily prayer together. It deserves a special gallery of its own that will remind us of its glorious role in Tehillim and in davening, and just why it opens up Ne’ilah on Yom Kippur afternoon.

The next frame would feature the Aleinu prayer. Pity the poor Aleinu, the majestic prayer that, because of its ubiquitousness, has been reduced to an exercise in speed reading at the end of the davening as we rush out to our mundane lives. The Aleinu frame would feature its provenance, its authorship (Yehoshua himself), and how it achieved its unaccustomed once-a-year recognition during the Yamim Noraim.

A third frame would show the tiny, three-letter word, Amen. Recited endless times each day by shul-goers, this is the poster child of neglected prayers. And it is a prayer, for it represents the affirmation of the brachah, or the Kaddish, that precedes it. How many people know of its crucial importance? Or that its proper pronunciation requires kavanah, or that its three letters (alef, mem, nun) stand for Keil Melech ne’eman — G-d, trustworthy King? This paper clip of our davening surely deserves a prominent place in our virtual museum.

But it seems that R’ Feldman may not have done Aleinu — Our Duty anything near its due justice. And is “devotion” directly related and linked to kavanah (intent)?

Well, as if it weren’t enough that we blow through P’sukei d’Zimra and that the Sh’liach b’Tzibbor’s repetition of Shemona Esrei ranges between the speed of Kentucky Derby winner “Carry Back” and the 100-plus mph blur of an Aroldis Chapman or Ken Giles fastball, not to mention slurred, mis-pronounced or non-existent pronunciation — perhaps the cost of the glorification of one’s “chazzonut skills”; by the time we get to Aleinu, most blow through it at warp-speed in a mad rush for kaddish before running out of shul. This author has noted several times previously that it seems as if Aleinu is but an after-thought to most. If it weren’t for Kaddish afterwards, gang-way for the stampede! So, from the beginning of Aleinu, the main focus of those saying Kaddish is to rush in a frenzy to surround the Bima — their minds and focus seemingly very far from the mission at hand — “Our Duty” — both paragraphs of it.

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

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

Aleinu L’Shabeiyach: The verbalization of OUR Chiyuv — it’s our obligation as Jews to praise and glorify Hashem’s name. Aleinu is the most often said, the most repetitious and unchangeable, yet the most under-rated, least respected, but perhaps the most important of all of our daily tefillot. Noone seemingly even bothers to take the time, when vocalizing the tefillah, to even focus on the meanings of it: that Yehoshua davened it forwards, backwards, sideways through as the Jews encircled Yericho and the Shofars blew until Yericho’s walls fell in heaps. Heck, a Shliach Tzibbor was recently timed at less than 30 seconds. He must’ve blown off the second paragraph Akhan’s teshuvah (Akhan’s repentance and striving to improve, to come closer to Hashem — to rectify his sin of taking spoils from battle) entirely.

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

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

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

Say “Aleinu L’Shabeiyach” while standing after tefillah and be careful to daven it with kavanah.

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

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

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

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

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

  • 3/ Another Sefer, L’David Shiur by Asher Elbaz seems to answer R’Pincus’ citing from Gaonim responsa citing R’Hai Gaon which indicates that by those in Chutz L’Aretz aiming their tefillahs toward Israel and toward the Beit HaMikdash, the Jewish world’s tefillahs rise to Shemayim from the Mikdash.
  • .

  • 4/ Sefer L’David Shiur cites the Rokeach who notes that Yehoshua Ben Nun repeated Aleinu on his knees in awe and in a loud voice in a tune which makes the heart rejoice. Therefore, a person should have kavanah to sing Aleinu with all of his might to his Creator. [Can this be done at break-neck speed?]
  • .

  • 5/ Sefer L’David Shiur cites the Chida which says to say Aleinu word-by-word [seeming obvious to not slur or mumble-jumble them] because it is a very awesome praise full of very high secrets.
  • .

  • 6/ L’David Shiur also cites the M’Chazik Bracha (Koof, Lamed, Bet) which indicates that there is no other praise to our Creator like Aleinu and that it is higher than all of the praises in the world.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good Shabbos!

**************************************************************
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 Naso 5775: The Nazir, and Lessons of Nazirut for Our Times

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Sunday, May 24th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat HaShevua Naso is being sponsored anonymously in Ramat Beit Shemesh in honor of all the teachers and gabbaim in the community who serve the community with honor and dedication. To the anonymous donor, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Naso 5775: The Nazir, and Lessons of Nazirut for Our Times

by Moshe Burt

This year, for the fourth time in the past six years, our Parshat Naso falls out on the Shabbos following Shavuot.

Among the many laws contained in our Parshat Naso are Halachot concerning the nazir (nazirite). Sefer Shem Mishmuel (a selection of the works written by Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, z’l, the Rebbe of Sochaczev, translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski) describes nazirut, cites poskim of our parsha which describe the three restrictions taken on by one who takes upon himself the vows of a nazir and explains further (pages 312-314):

This person takes upon himself a vow to refrain from certain activities and by doing so achieves, at least temporarily, an exalted spiritual state.

“From wine and strong drink shall he abstain…” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 6, posuk 3)

“All the days of the vow of his abstention no razor may pass over his head… He shall grow the locks of the hair of his head.” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 6, posuk 5)

“All the days of his abstention to Hashem he shall not approach a corpse.” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 6, posuk 6)

The nazir may not cut the hair “on his head.” The head is the seat of brain and the intellect of man…. The nazir allows his intellect to burst forth and manifest itself beyond its usual boundaries.

Abstention from wine leads to greater control over the power of speech. Chazal tell us: “When wine goes in, secrets come out. (Eruvin 65a)

Finally, death represents the failure and demise of the physical world. Avoiding contact with it sanctifies the physical, active component of man.

This Parshat HaSheva will not go into the specific steps that the nazir need take in attaining a nazirite status, nor the steps and korbonot he fulfills at the completion of his nazirut.

One may ask why the laws of nazirut follow immediately after the laws concerning a sotah; regarding a man’s jealousy and/or one whose wife has gone astray committing treachery against him. The Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash translates Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 6, posukim 1 and 2 and explains in commentary on Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 6 (page 759):

“Hashem spoke to Moshe saying, ‘Speak to the B’nei Yisrael and say to them: A man or a woman who shall disassociate himself by taking a Nazirite vow of abstinence for the sake of Hashem…’”

…The sages derive that one who sees a sotah in her state of degradation should prohibit wine to himself by taking a Nazirite vow (Sotah 2a)

This sheds light on the underlying purpose of the Nazirite status and what would prompt one to adopt it. A sotah opted to follow her sensual passions and let her heart overpower her mind, her pursuit of pleasure to overcome her responsibility to Hashem…. Someone who saw her degradation — even her horrible death after she drank the bitter water — could easily be overcome by the fantasies of temptation…. The Nazirite’s abstinence from wine signals… that the adoption of a spiritual life can help close the door to the enticement that doomed the sotah.

The minimum period of Nazirism is thirty days, but a Nazirite who so desires may adopt longer periods. (Nazir 5a)

“Shall disassociate.” The translation follows Rashi and expresses the idea that the Nazirite… seeks to separate himself from the temptations of his environment. Targum renders ["Shall disassociate."] articulate, and, indeed, the Nazirite vow must be spoken clearly. Ebn Ezra offers an alternative translation: who shall do something astounding, for it is truly uncommon for someone to undertake a vow that will cut him off from a physical pleasure that others find enticing…. All of the above [translations] are valid halachically and philosophically.

Rabbi Mordechai Katz notes, in his sefer “L’ilmod U’lamed” on our parsha (pages 134-135):

Unfortunately, the influences of society sometimes make us all too much a part of today’s world. We sometimes adopt secular ways and overlook the high standards expected of us… Then it becomes time to take a lesson from the rite of Nazirut. It is necessary to make an abrupt U-turn and head back in the Torah direction. A major change in lifestyle is helpful in reminding us exactly what our life goals should be. If we break dramatically with alien ways and dedicate ourselves entirely to Hashem, …then we can get ourselves back onto the proper path.

It would seem that the lessons of Nazirut should also not be lost on today’s authority figures in Eretz Yisrael, be it the police, the IDF, bureaucratic and governmental offices and agencies, etc. where far too often personages in positions of authority over others often take prohibitive and corrupt liberties with their underlings, their subordinates thus subjecting them to severe physical and psychological degradations. It is time that such authoritarian figures internalize and take to heart the lessons of nazirut and its place in Torah immediately following the laws of sotah.

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

Good Shabbos!

**************************************************************
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.
**************************************************************

Rabbi Moshe Levinger z”l and His Connection of Am Yisrael with Eretz Yisrael

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, News Reports on Sunday, May 17th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


by Moshe Burt

I was saddened to wake up this morning, Sunday, 17 May, 2015 — 28 Iyyar, 5775 to hear the news that Rabbi Moshe Levinger z”l had passed away at age 80.

We all know of R’ Moshe’s immense efforts and contributions toward the establishment of modern-day Jewish presence in Hevron, as well as throughout Yehuda and the Shomron.

As R’ Moshe led members of his Gush Emunim movement on foot through the Shomron mountains to such places as Sebastia, Elon Moreh and more, I was following their progress from thousands of miles away by way of the Jerusalem Post International Edition which came to my mail box weekly. R’ Moshe, along with Rabbis Haim Druckman, Eliezer Waldman and Shlomo Aviner was among a group of Jews who celebrated the first Pesach Seder meal at the Park Hotel in Hevron in 1968 — 5728 in the year following the Six Day War. I viewed R’ Moshe with great awe and inspiration.

In the summer of 1997, a year and nine months before my aliyah, to my great shock and surprise, I was zocha to meet and speak with R’ Moshe — a dream come true and memorable moment in my life — at the Hachnasat Sefer Torah which took place at Yishuv Shvut Rahel, named for the victim of a terror attack, on the next mountain from Shilo. The Hachnasat Sefer Torah was the installation of the second of thirteen Sifrei Torah facilitated and placed under the aegis of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network.

katy-02

R’Moshe Levinger with a son of the donor of the Sefer Torah placed
in Yishuv Shvut Rahel in July, 1997 — 26 Sivan 5757

.
I was later zocha to have joined R’ Moshe in a Carlbach Kabalat Shabbos minyan held outside the Ma’arat Hamachpela in Hevron in July, 1998 as well as being hosted for a Shabbos lunch by he and Rebbetzin Miriam. And after my aliyah, I was zocha to see R’ Moshe a number of times in Hevron, including a number of times when I davened Kabalat Shabbos near him at the Ma’arat Hamachpela when my shul spent Shabbos Tefillah (the Shabbos before Rosh Hashana) in Hevron.

Israel National News notes that R’ Moshe was voted, along with former prime minister Menachem Begin z”l as “person of the generation, the man or woman who has had the greatest effect on Israeli society in the last twenty years” in a poll held by the now-defunct Hadashot newspaper.

Am Yisrael has lost a Giant whose void will be difficult to fill. His love and efforts to connect Am Yisrael with Eretz Yisrael will be sorely missed.

Shavu’ot 5775: Ruth, and Her Legacy: Dovid HaMelech and the Ge’ulah Shleima

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, May 16th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Shavuot vort is being sponsored by Daniel and Amy Michaels of Ramat Beit Shemesh in honor of the upcoming Chassuna of Aharon and Sheina. 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 (or as the case may be, co-sponsoring) a Parshat HaShevua.

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

Best Regards,

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

Shavu’ot 5775: Ruth, and Her Legacy: Dovid HaMelech and the Ge’ulah Shleima

by Moshe Burt

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

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

Shem Mishmuel then explains (pages 302 – 304):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Although these words seem to echo a previous year’s Shavu’ot vort, it’s important to focus on Ruth’s impact and her legacy, by way of the descendents of her union with Bo’az leading to Dovid HaMelech, and to the Ge’ula Shleima, the Ultimate Redemption, may we see and live it in our times.

This Shavu’ot will be the first Yom Tov in which this author davens Yizkor — the memorial service recalling the souls of the departed, for a parent, niftaret on Shabbos Sh’mini, Isru Chag Pesach in Eretz Yisrael. Although Yizkor is said before Mussaf on Yom Kippur, Succot and Pesach as well, there seems something special about this Yizkor and the crucial impact which Ruth has on the ultimate destiny of Am Yehudi.

The Artscroll Shavuot Machzor informs us about the custom of saying Yizkor for the souls of the departed:

The ancient custom of recalling the souls of the departed… is rooted in the fundamental Jewish belief in the eternity of the soul. When physical life ends, only the body dies, but the soul ascends to the realm of the spirit where it regularly attains higher levels of purity and holiness.

When this life is over, the soul can no longer perform good deeds; that method of attaining merit is the sole province of mortal man who must struggle with the baseness and selfishness of his animal nature. But there is a way for the disembodied soul to derive new sources of merit. History is a continuum. If we, the living, give charity or do good deeds due to the lasting influence or in memory of a departed parent or other loved one, the merit is truly that of the soul in its spiritual realm. Moreover, Hashem in His mercy credits our deeds to the departed one because he or she, too, would have done the same were it possible.

In other words, just as we say “Yaakov is still alive” or “Yaakov never died” by virtue of the good and the chessed (kindnesses) of B’nei Yisrael, and the souls of Ruth and Bo’az live on through Dovid HaMelech (Dovid ben Yishai) and Moshiach ben Dovid, our departed loved ones live on and their souls gain ever higher levels of kedusha (holiness) through our Avodat Hashem, our acts of kindness, our learning and our cleaving to OUR Eretz 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 brethren Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Chag Kosher V’Same’ach!
**************************************************************
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.
***************************************************************

Parsha Bamidbar 5775: Diversity Within Unity of National Purpose in Our Time

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, May 16th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Bamidbar is being sponsored by Avraham and Miriam Deutsch of Efrat in commemoration of the Yahrtzeit of Avraham’s parents, Mordechai ben Avraham Aba and Sarah Reetza Bat Tzion bat Avraham Yaakov. The Yahrtzeit of Avraham’s Dad was on Yud Tess Iyar. To the Deutsch family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parsha Bamidbar 5775: Diversity Within Unity of National Purpose in Our Time

by Moshe Burt

Once getting past the numbers crunching of the census, our Parsha speaks of Degalim: the flags of the Sh’vatim (Tribes), as a paradigm of Unity, yet which expresses diversity within the various components, all of which play essential roles within a collective unity. Within a unity, there is room for integration and cooperation of diverse individual and group attributes, skills, strong points and actions when channeled toward the common goals of Unity, i.e. the common goals of B’nai Yisrael:

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

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

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

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

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

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

It would seem that the loshen “his degel” would indicate expressions of love within a context of unity. The spiritual meaning of the degalim of Klal Yisrael in the wilderness seems to be expression of deep yearning for, love of, and closeness to G’d.

Thus, the ability to encamp in degalim, emulating the angels, was an opportunity for a profound, constant and unparalleled loving relationship between Hashem and B’nai Yisrael. (Sefer Shem Mishmuel, page 298.) Further, the degel of each individual Shevet (tribe) seems a representation of that Shevet’s unique expression of love and closeness to Hashem within the collective unity and cooperation of Kol B’nai Yisrael.

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

In another example of the integration and cooperation of diverse individual and group attributes, skills and actions channeled toward the common goals of a Unity, we learn in Parsha Naso how each of the Sh’vatim brought the same offerings in the exact same quantity for the inauguration of the Mishkan. The offering of one prince of one Shevet was brought daily. Therefore, 12 repetitions of the same offering were brought. However, we learn that each Shevet’s dressing of it’s offering represented that Shevet’s unique expression of it’s individuality within the unity of B’nai Yisrael.

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

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

The common goals of this unity MUST include, but are not limited to blunting, halting and eliminating, by all possible means, any future expulsions, no matter what term the prevailing government and prime minister might coin to mask or package future expulsions of Jews and future land hand-overs to our enemies on any given day, or whatever tactics and slanders self-hating, self-debasing leaders might employ in order to attempt to delude Am Yisrael as to rationale, and to what they say will come after such intentional sins. We must succeed in bringing a Medinat Torah (Torah governance) to The Land of Israel.

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

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

What is the greatness of Am Yisrael listening to Moshe in this manner? Why would anyone have thought that they would not have listened? This comes to teach us that they did not quarrel about whose place would be at the head and who would be at the end, who would be at the east and who would be at the west. They accepted the will of The Almighty and did not complain or argue. Unfortunately, in many places arguments do arise when people are not satisfied with the seating arrangements. (Oznayim LeTorah)

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

This distinction between practicality, such as when prime minister Netanyahu acted in Israel’s national interest in edging himself forward to the front row in the Charlie Hebdo memorial (where Mahmud Abbas had already positioned himself) or when Netanyahu stood firm in going forward with his address to the joint session of US Congress, and arrogance and honor-seeking in coalition negotiations should not be lost upon both the political leaders of the various factions and upon Am Yisrael at large.

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

Good Shabbos!
**************************************************************
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 Bechukotai 5775: The Perils of the Tochochah Today, and Our Failure to Heed

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, May 9th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshiyot HaShevua, Parshat Bechukotai is being sponsored by Dr. Pinchas and Pnina Klahr of Ramat Beit Shemesh Lilui Nishmas for Nasan Karpel ben Shmuel Zanvil Tzvi and Matisyahu ben Yaakov. To the Klahr family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Bechukotai 5775: The Perils of the Tochochah Today, and Our Failure to Heed

by Moshe Burt

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

Dictionary.com defines “admonition” thus:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Through the nearly ten years since the Ge’irush — the expulsion of our Jewish brethren from their homes, towns and communal lives in Gush Katif by a former Israeli government, regrets and apologies have flowed to our brethren. Remembering back to those days and after, there were those who defamed their brethren — many who later expressed apologies for their words and actions. And there were those who stood, or rather sat by — not daring to leave their studies, or to put their jobs or family lives on hold to help and support their brethren, and who went on with their lives — “business as usual” during the very days of the Ge’irush. It seems as if we have yet to hear the slightest contrition from many.

And yet, with the constant threats or actualizations, by subsequent Israeli governments through the years, of further expulsions from parts of Our Eretz Yisrael, i.e. Yehuda, the Shomron (Judea and Samaria), the Jordan Valley, etc., of construction freezes, releases of terrorist killers with Jewish Blood-Stained hands, of possible surrender of parts of our eternal capital — Jerusalem, there seems to have been no collective rising up of indignation amongst the collective Am Yisrael, even among numbers of those who had previously expressed apologies and regrets to their former Gush Katif brethren.

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

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

The commentary is as follows;

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

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

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

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

As a result, B’nai Yisrael is often deceived by it’s own equivocal and often cruel rulers into feeling that all is helpless and casting doubts as to a Divine Being Who Runs the World. These evil rulers seek to subvert Torah, our history and our traditions to suit their own ends and self-interests. We view the deception of Israel’s current prime minister and Banana Republic government which is NOT strongly rooted in Torah and thus caves to the avodah zora of mortal man — to super-power pressure as an appropo example of evil governance.

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

Good Shabbos!

**************************************************************
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.
*************************************************************