Parshat Chukas 5777: The Importance of Chukim Despite Lacking Full Comprehension, and Their Role in Am Yisrael

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, June 24th, 2017 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 an anonymous co-sponsor, also of Ramat Beit Shemesh. To the Greenspan family and our anonymous co-sponsor, many thanks for your co-sponsorships and your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat Chukas 5777: The Importance of Chukim Despite Lacking Full Comprehension, and Their Role in Am Yisrael

by Moshe Burt

Our Parshat opens:

“Hashem spoke to Moshe and Aharon saying: This is the decree of Torah, which Hashem has commanded…” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 19, posukim 1-2 as rendered in the Artscroll Stone Chumash, page 839)

R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, in the new Hirsch Chumash (pages 398-399) provides an even more powerful rendering of our opening posukim and comments:

“Hashem spoke to Moshe and Aharon, saying: This is a basic statute of the Teaching that Hashem has commanded.”

This mode of address to Moshe and Aharon indicates the importance of the subject matter that follows…

…Chukas HaTorah [This basic statute of Torah] — This expression occurs in only one other place in Scripture: in Sefer Bamidbar Perek 31, posuk 21 [Elazar, the Kohen, addressing the men of the army which had gone to war] (New Hirsch Chumash, page 636)

These opening posukim of our Parsha introduce the laws of the Parah Adumah, the Red Heffer whose ashes purify those who had become tamei (contaminated). However, in reality, the chukim of Torah, of Halachot whether 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), or 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.

For example, we learn not to mix fish and meat. When we are served a first course of gefiltah fish, salmon, etc. on Shabbos, at a simcha, or at any meal, we make a separation between the fish dish and the next course of meat — a drink whether wine, some other alcoholic beverage, soda [pop] or even water to clear one’s palate of the fish taste before the meat course. We are told that among the most common understandings of this separation is for health reasons, although like chukim such as above and more, there are deeper understandings and rationales of which we lack knowledge.

A few years ago, this author received by email a D’var Torah for Parshat Shelach 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 them 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 your 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 succeeding 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.

Rabbi Moshe Weissman, in his sefer, “The Midrash Says,” writes regarding Parshat 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.

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 3, page 839) on the words at the beginning of our Parsha:

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

Good Shabbos!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Korach 5777: Korach’s Rebellion and Today’s Israeli Political Leaders; as Seen by Electorate and Through the Eyes of the Nations

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, June 17th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Korach is being sponsored by Loren and Sora Deetza Spigelman of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated in memory of Moshe Burt’s Father, Me’ir ben Shabtai. To the Spigelman family, many thanks for your sponsorship, your kind gesture 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 5777: Korach’s Rebellion and Today’s Israeli Political Leaders; as Seen by Electorate and Through the Eyes of the Nations

by Moshe Burt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As a result of his massive riches, “The Midrash Says” records:

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

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

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

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

Shem Mishmuel relates a thought on Korach from Rashi;

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

It seems that in Korach’s case, he had basis for reasoning that his descendants, 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.” (ibid, 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.

There could be another understanding regarding Korach, with enduring lessons for today’s Israeli electorate and “leadership” contenders, as well how the Jews and Israel are viewed and perceived by the nations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And beyond the electoral impact of such benign attitude toward Shabbos observance, what of the impact of how the nations perceive us? Are we viewed by the nations as hypocrites, our Divine raison d’etre compromised such as to be viewed as non-existent?

And beyond the international perception of us due to the issue of “separation of religion and state”, what of the international impact, of a current equivocal political leadership regarding Am Yisrael’s Divine rights to Eretz Yisrael and to an undivided Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital and Seat of Government, particularly on policies of a newly elected president who has heretofore expressed deep friendship and alliance with Israel? As previously stated, possessing Yehuda and the Shomron and construction freezes are mutually exclusive.

We have already seen this president back off of his oft-repeated pledge to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem which would have seemingly denoted American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital.

Again, googley-eyed Groucho:

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

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

Good Shabbos and Chodesh Tov!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Shelach 5777: Today’s Battle for the Jewish Soul and Parallels to the False Conclusions of the Miraglim

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, Demographics Dud Compendium on Saturday, June 10th, 2017 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 5777: Today’s Battle for the Jewish Soul and Parallels to the False Conclusions of the Miraglim

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, and conjures up ways in which today’s state of affairs could parallel the event of the miraglim in Bamidbar.

This author recalls the infancy of the so-called “peace movement” and modern-day Israeli “progressivism” with its multitudinous tentacles which eventually became the alt-leftist NGOs (non-governing organizations funded by foreign lobbies and governments). The memory harkens back to one Yom Nora’im (High Holidays) the late-1980s in Philadelphia. These were the years just prior to becoming Ba’al Teshuva, and when the seeds of “Shalom Achshav” — “Peace Now” (sic) were being tended by the then-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) student as 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 these leftist-agendized predecessors of Shalom Achshav.

These were years before “Shalom Achshav” emerged and succeeded in snowing and propagandizing hundreds of thousands of secular Israelis while sprouting and growing, with the help of European NGOs, numerous different heads and tentacles which connected with leftist, Arabist, anti-semetic foreign 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, the two spies who took their lives in their hands while standing against the ten to defend Hashem while urging the people on into Eretz Yisrael.

This whole premise of “land for peace (sic)” and portrayals, such as that of this student rabbi-wannabe who equated Yehoshua and Caleiv with contemporary alt-left progressives, is built on a base of unverified “PA” demographics data which successive Israeli governments have accepted as gospel but which been confuted time and again by independent demographic research and data which show:

both the steady high birthrates of the Jewish population in Judea and Samaria and the ongoing and increasing emigration of the Arab population from those areas. The media rarely notes that the reports of massive Arab population growth have been deliberately exaggerated…” (cited from Jerusalem Post piece: Demographic threat? Nonsense, By David Rubin – link has since been deleted by Jerusalem Post)

And as it turns out, these fake “PA” census and demographics data serve as cover for what seems to be a beneath-the-surface manifestation of irrational hatred and disdain, by their proponents, for their religious roots by successive Israeli regimes and their lust to make the Jews, Israelis — a nation of all of its peoples, Jews who know nothing of and are totally devoid of any form of Yiddishkeit and spirituality. Proof of this lacking is the public education system which has sooo failed to educate Israelis in their religious roots such that much of secular chayalim even have no knowledge of, and are unable to recite “Shema Yisrael.”

Rav Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” (pages 326-327) comments: “Beware of false conclusions from the facts you observe”, cites posukim from Parshat Shelach and provides commentary:

“The people who dwell in the land are extremely fierce and the cities are fortified and very great, and we also saw the children of Anak [giants] there…. We cannot go up to the people because they are stronger than us.” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 13, posukim 28, 31)

The Akaidah explains that the report of the spies itself was appropriate. They were told to see the land and report back on the conditions of the land and the people who lived there. But their task was just to observe and relate what they saw. Their mistake was in rendering a decision that they should not attempt to enter the land. It was not up to them to come toany final conclusions, only to report the facts.

They were wrong about their not being able to conquer the land. The Almighty has the power to help against all odds. Just because in their minds they did not think it was possible for them to successfully take over the land of Israel did not mean that it was really not possible.

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

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

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

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

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

What caused the Spies to become corrupted?

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

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

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

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

Rabbi Dr. Wakslak goes on to write:

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

In essence, the spies provided the perfect “out”, the perfect rationale to sever the bond. As heads of the Sh’vatim, the 10 spies, with their ulterior motives: maintenance 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 Rabbi Dr. Wakslak describes, 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.

A Real Jewish leadership would be in nobody’s pocket, would not pander to certain sectors of the population for their votes by compromising Halacha, would owe no debts to today’s political hacks, would make no bargains with hacks who would throw any locality or segment of the governed “under the bus.” This Real Jewish Leadership would subserviant ONLY to Shemayim.

If today’s political/governmental leaders only realized and internalized the Eternal Incumbency of Shemayim, maybe they would realize that they need to step aside in favor of Real Torah-true Jewish leadership which epitomizes and reconnects the Jews with their Divine legacy: Eretz Yisrael. Or, if they at least realize that Hashem has been with us for 5777 years, for sixty-nine years of contemporary Medinat Yisrael, brought us victory in our wars of existence and would bring us ultimate victory if we would just act with emunah, rather than seeking third-party cover, protection and approval with the resultant strings attached which actually jeopardize our lives and security.

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 in-gathering of the Jews to modern-day Israel. Such a leadership recognizes that success in Yishuv Eretz Yisrael, and in conflicts with enemies bent on our destruction are in the Hand of Hashem, but that the Yad Hashem depends on our unity and the labor, planning and efforts of our unity.

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

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Beha’aloscha 5777: Aaron HaKohen’s Enthusiasm, Constancy of Service and Relentless Pursuit of Mitzvot: Do We Strive to Emulate?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, June 3rd, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Beha’aloscha is being sponsored by Dr. David & Tamar Kallus of Ramat Beit Shemesh is dedicated in honor of the recent Chassuna of their son Mordechai to Sarah Goldreich. To the Kallus 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 5777: Aaron HaKohen’s Enthusiasm, Constancy of Service and Relentless Pursuit of Mitzvot: Do We Strive to Emulate?

by Moshe Burt

The opening posukim of our Parsha teach us:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We learn that Aaron HaKohen’s service of kindling of the menorah follows immediately after offerings brought by the Nesi’im of the Shevatim (Tribes) for the dedication of the Mizbeiyach (Altar). The sefer “Inspiration and Insight — Discourses on the Weekly Parashah”, by the Manchester Rosh Yeshivah, Rabbi Yehudah Zev Segal, Shlita, z”l (Translated by Rabbi Shimon Finkelman) discusses Aaron’s distress that he and Shevet Levi had not participated in the dedication, Hashem’s response and the importance of having the right desires (pages 215-216):

Said HaKadosh Baruch Hu to him (Aaron): “By your life, yours is greater than theirs, for you will kindle and prepare the lamps.” (Rashi, from Midrash Tanchuma)

Ramban wonders why Aaron should have felt dispirited, given that the number of offerings which he brought during the seven days of inauguration far exceeded those of the Neisi’im.

To resolve this, we may suggest the following:

In the book of Koheles, Shlomo HaMelech declares; “A lover of money will never be satisfied with money.” (Koheles 5:9) In the words of Midrash Rabbah 1:13, “He who has one hundred wants two hundred, and he who has two hundred wants four hundred.”

One can develop within himself a relentless desire to fulfill the word of Hashem, to strive to do mitzvah after mitzvah without ever wearying of this lofty service…. “A lover of money will never be satisfied with money; a lover of mitzvot will never be satisfied with mitzvot.” (Midrash Rabbah to Koheles 5:9)

Aaron HaKohen epitomized the latter half of the above Midrash. No matter how many mitzvot he performed, it was never enough. Though he had been anointed as Kohen Gadol, had already brought numerous offerings, and would be privileged to perform services that no other Jew could perform, he nevertheless experienced a dispirited feeling at not being included in the dedication of the Nesi’im.

So this author asks; Just as Torah learning is a Mitzvah, are not tefillot also considered Mitzvot every bit as much? Are we not strongly encouraged to say at least one hundred Brachot per day, of which our three Shemona Essrei’s make up over fifty percent?

To illustrate where this is going, years ago back in Philadelphia, it would be suggested that this author arrive at Shul on Shabbos morning up to a half-hour before the Shaliach Tzibbor pronounces morning Brachot in order to be able to keep pace with the Shaliach Tzibbor through P’sukei D’Zimrah. And in the rush to keep pace with the Shaliach Tzibbor, various Shul facilities are often left in a deplorable state after multiple use. Isn’t keeping Shul facilities in neat condition to be considered a Mitzvah?

In the end, many Kehillot continuously complete a full Shabbos tefillah in under two hours, not including the Rav’s drasha, and blow through Aleinu at “mach 1″ speed.

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

Then, in their mad dash out of Shul, they either replace their siddurim and Chumashim on shelves in a haphazard manner, unbecoming these holy siddurim and s’forim, or they simply leave the.siddurim, Chumashim and s’forim where they sat.

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?

R’ Mordechai Katz provides this jaw-dropping comment and citation (“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)

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.

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 Baruch 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 and relentlessness to which Aaron HaKohen treated his daily service, as well as his pursuit and performance of Mitzvot; to the same degree to which Kohanim and Levi’im throughout our generations treated their respective service, with or without the Beit HaMikdash?? Isn’t it time to turn off the automatic-pilot?

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

Good Shabbos!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Shavu’ot and Parshat Naso 5777: Extending Fairness, Honesty and Merit Toward Ger’im, Ba’alei Teshuva, Olim Chadashim and the Elderly

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Friday, May 26th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our vort on Shavuot/Parshat Naso is being sponsored Jonathan and Debbie Sassen of Ramat Beit Shemesh is dedicated in honor of the upcoming Chassuna of their daughter Lini to Josh Schultz. To the Sassen 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
**************************************

Shavu’ot and Parshat Naso 5777: Extending Fairness, Honesty and Merit Toward Ger’im, Ba’alei Teshuva, Olim Chadashim and the Elderly

by Moshe Burt

This year, Shavu’ot falls out on Yom Revi’i followed on its heels by Shabbos Parshat Naso. Thus it was deemed fitting that this vort relate to both regarding the Ger, Ba’alei Teshuva and Olim Chadashim.

The lessons gleaned from Chag HaShavu’ot, as well as Parshat Naso regarding national unity as expressed by the Kohanim in the Birchat Kohanim, and fairness, honesty in dealings and interelationships between all types of Jews are pertinent for all-time, not just as paradigm for Matan Torah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rabbi Artscroll says on the posuk that:

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

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

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

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

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

This author should extend discussion this year to one additional important sector of Am Yisrael badly in need of fairness, sensitivity, honesty, merit and respect — the elderly, be they native-born or Olim. Having observed from afar over recent years, via the experiences of my parents, prior to their respective passings, with the services available in the United States: facilities for the elderly based on their individual medical/psychological needs; senior patient advocacy, astute management of seniors’ financial affairs, and overall kindness and sensitivity to each senior’s medical and personal/family circumstances, this author, in observing elderly care here, can only conclude that care for the needs of senior citizens in their advanced years in Israel, when compared with the above, might at some levels be lacking.

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

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

The Sefer Shem Mishmuel 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)

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 ultimately to the Ge’ula Shleima, the Ultimate Redemption, may we act in ways to hasten seeing and living it in our times. It is also important to focus on the kindnesses of Bo’az toward Ruth, as a paradigm for how we should act with kindness, honesty, sensitivity, fairness, honesty and merit toward the Ger, as well as the Ba’al Teshuvah, the Oleh Chadash and yes, the Elderly among us.

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

Chag Some’ach and Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Bamidbar 5777: Flexibility of Jews to Accept Hashem’s Rule and Laws: Hard-Wired to Genes From the Avos, From Yetziyot Mitzrayim?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, May 20th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Bamidbar is being sponsored Dr. Pinchas and Penina Klahr of Ramat Beit Shemesh lilui nishmas Pinchas’ Father, Nosson Karpel ben Shmuel Zanvil Tzvi (Klahr) and Penina’s Father, Rav Matisyohu ben Rav Yaakov (Weisenberg). 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 Bamidbar 5777: Flexibility of Jews to Accept Hashem’s Rule and Laws: Hard-Wired to Genes From the Avos, From Yetziyot Mitzrayim?

by Moshe Burt

Our Parshat opens with Hashem speaking to Moshe in the second year after Yetziyot Mitzrayim as the Jews camped in Bamidbar:

“And Hashem spoke to Moshe in the wilderness of Sinai: ‘Take a census of the entire assembly of the B’nei Yisrael according to their families, according to their fathers’ house, by number of the names, every male according to their head count; from twenty years and up…’” Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 1, posukim 1-3)

Rabbi Mordechai Katz, in his sefer “L’lmode U’lamed” (page 129) frames the Jews’ sojourn in the desert (Midbar) with an explanation:

…When a leader wishes to make a momentous announcement to his people, he would usually speak to them from an impressive setting.

In our times, a president, a prime minister would speak to the people from that nation’s most stately surroundings and over radio, TV, internet.

Rabbi Katz continues, and then illustrates the Jews’ acceptance of Hashem and Torah while in the desert in a parable:

Yet Hashem revealed His Torah Laws in a barren, desolate desert.

A wealthy member of royalty… was not satisfied with merely being rich. He desired to be a leader of men. To achieve this goal, he went to members of a well-established town and offered to donate a large sum of money… to the benefit of the town if they would accept him as their leader. The members of the town met privately and returned their decision refusing the man’s offer. They refused the offer because a new leader would have his own way of ruling whereas the townspeople didn’t want to change their established ways.

The man… was not left hopeless. He next went to a settlement that had only recently been organized and made them the same offer. They, too, considered it and accepted the offer, for they had not yet become set in their way of life and were still flexible enough to accept the direction of a new leader.

Thus, when Hashem revealed the laws of His Torah, He chose to do so to a newly formed nation, the Jews. And He did so in the desert, a site devoid of established homes and luxuries, a place where the Jews would not want to stay…. The would be beginning their destiny as a people… and would be willing to accept Hashem’s guidance, His chosen way and His chosen home. They would be flexible enough to live according to the Torah without having to alter any fixed ways. This is why the desert was such a fitting setting
for the presentation of the Torah. It allowed the Jews to emerge as a truly unique nation under Hashem’s direction, free of fixed surroundings and influences of the other nations.

…The site of the desert impressed upon the Jews the importance of humility. Just as the desert contains nothing… but sand, so too the human body is composed of nothing but dust. But just as the desert was transformed into a holy spot by appearance of the Divine Presence, so, too, man becomes a source of greatness if he allows his spiritual spark to dominate his actions.

This author, however, takes some issue, in part, with the analogy proposed in the above parable regarding the B’nei Yisrael.. While true that it is easier to influence a nascent group toward a certain direction or leadership, don’t we learn that the Jews’ predisposition toward acceptance of Hashem and Torah have roots in unique middot such as humility, kindnesses toward others, treatment of guests, etc. which were hard-wired to their neshamot from the Avos? Was not this predisposition toward acceptance of Hashem and Torah further solidified and validated by Yetziyot Mitzrayim (liberation from Egyptian bondage) and Kriyat Yum Suf (the splitting of the Reed Sea as the Jews crossed on dry land)?

This flexibility and acceptance of Hashem’s Rule and Laws by B’nei Yisrael is exemplified in our Parsha’s reference to the Degalim: the flags of the Sh’vatim (Tribes) and their significance:

“Hashem spoke to Moshe and Aaron saying; ‘The B’nei Yisrael shall encamp, each man by the banner according to the insignias of their fathers’ household, at a distance surrounding the Tent of Meeting shall they encamp.’” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 2, posukim 1-2)

The degalim represented a paradigm of Unity, yet expressed diversity within the various components of B’nei Yisrael, all of which play essential roles within a collective unity. Within a unity, there is room for integration and cooperation of diverse individual and group attributes, skills, strong points and actions when channeled toward the common goals of Unity, i.e. the common goals of B’nei Yisrael:

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

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

Shem Mishmuel explains further:

Angels are not subject to the vicissitudes of human life and are thus able to enjoy a continuous, high-level relationship with Hashem. Yisrael admired this greatly and asked Hashem if they could also maintain such a relationship. Even while they toiled in the normal physical activities of day-to-day life, they wanted to remain close to Hashem, without ever allowing the physical nature of their lives to impede or cloud that relationship.

…We may suggest that Klal Yisrael connected to Hashem without the necessity of an intermediary. They felt a longing for a relationship with Hashem that was so close that it could not be satisfied by indirect contact. The angels experienced a direct relationship, and it was this that Klal Yisrael yearned to emulate. In this context, we may interpret the verse:

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

This means that the degalim of Klal Yisrael in the wilderness were an expression of deep yearning for love, and closeness to Hashem. Thus the ability to encamp in degalim, emulating the angels, was an opportunity for a profound and unparalleled relationship between Hashem and the Jewish nation.

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

” … will have a colored flag hanging from it. The color of one will not be the color of the other, the color of each was determined by the color of it’s stone in the breastplate [the Urim Tumim worn by the Kohen Godol].

Through this, each will recognize his degel.” (Rashi, Bamidbar, Perek 2, posuk 2)

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

It would seem that the loshen “his degel” would indicate expressions of love within a context of unity.

The spiritual meaning of the degalim of Klal Yisrael in the wilderness seems to be expression of deep yearning for, love of, and closeness to Hashem. Further, the degel of each individual Shevet (tribe) seems a representation of that Shevet’s unique expression of love and closeness to Hashem within the collective unity and cooperation of Kol B’nai Yisrael. Oh, that we should experience such unique expressions of love and closeness to Hashem within the collective unity of B’nei Yisrael today, both within Medinat Yisrael and throughout world Jewry.

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

Good Shabbos and Chodesh Tov!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Behar/Bechukotai 5777: Connecting Shabbos and Shemittoh, and Our Kesher With the Land; The Tochocha — Who Really Rules Eretz Yisrael?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Friday, May 12th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshiyot Behar/Bechukotai is being sponsored by Baruch and Tammy Labinsky of Ramat Beit Shemesh lilui nishmas Yitzchak Osher ben Yaakov. To the Labinsky Family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Behar/Bechukotai 5777: Connecting Shabbos and Shemittoh, and Our Kesher With the Land; The Tochocha — Who Really Rules Eretz Yisrael

by Moshe Burt

In light of the recent Israeli Court ruling (this author hesitates to refer to this “court” by it’s full title as to do so could constitute a slur against the ultimate Torah Justice System, including a future Sanhedrin and Hashem, our ultimate Judge) permitting certain Tel Aviv stores and businesses to be open on Shabbos, our dual parshiyot Behar/Bechukotai take on special significance for those of us who connect our Shabbos observance with our Divinely ordained possession of the Land of Israel.

Rashi asks a critical question on the very first posukim of our Parsha Behar:

“Hashem spoke to Moshe on Har Sinai, saying: Speak to the B’nai Yisrael, and say to them: When you come to the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a Shabbat to Hashem.” (Parsha Behar, Vayikra Perek 25, posukim 1 & 2)

Rashi asks why the laws of Shemittoh are singled out as having been given at Sinai. Were not all of the Mitzvot said at Sinai?” He answers that just as all of the Mitzvot; their general rules and their specifics were taught at Sinai, so too were the general rules and specifics regarding Shemittoh taught at Sinai. Rashi then reasons that the posuk comes to teach us that every utterance said to Moshe, they were all from Sinai. (Rashi on Parsha Behar, Vayikra Perek 25, posuk 1)

The Hatam Sofer reiterates and expands on Rashi’s explanation, asking;

“Why did the Torah list all of the specific rules of Shemittoh rather than doing so with any other commandment?

The reason for doing this is because the laws of Shemittoh prove that the Torah was given in Shemayim (Heaven). Had the Torah been of mortal origin, how could any human promise, ‘I will command My blessing during the sixth year and it will provide produce for three years’? — something which is beyond the realm of the natural, and a way to test whether Torah is genuine.” (Torah Gems, Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, Parsha Behar, page 331)

When contemplating this posuk, this author can’t help but recall the first introduction to observance some 28 years ago in East Windsor, NJ. As vivid as day, the recollection of Rav Motti Berger at an Aish HaTorah Shabbaton, giving his analogy on Shemittoh.

Rav Berger, in endeavoring to prove that Torah was real, genuine and from Shemayim, would ask how, if Torah was merely a nice document which a group of guys once got together in one guy’s basement to write as a set of guidelines for how men should properly live, how could mortal man make such a fantastic promise as Shemittoh? How could man promise that if we refrain from working the land in the seventh year, we would be provided for during the sixth year to sufficiently cover needs for the sixth, seventh and eighth years? People who were not previously knowledgeable in Shemittoh and who held that Torah was man-made were hard-pressed to disprove the fact that Torah was given to Moshe from Shemayim.

But it seems to this author that both Rashi’s and Hatam Sofer’s answers are not mutually exclusive. It would seem that not only is Shemittoh HaKadosh Borchu’s vehicle for proving that ALL of Torah was given over on Har Sinai, that it was “a way to test whether Torah is genuine” leaving future disbelievers (such as Israel’s political, academic, judicial elitists and intelligencia who would give the land or any part of it away as just ordinary real estate) hard-pressed to disprove the fact that Torah was given to Moshe from Shemayim. But because they can’t disprove the authenticity of Torah from Shemayim, they’ve therefore created a short-circuit disconnecting our historical truth from their contemporary “reality.”

It seems to this author that the mitzvah of Shemittoh, the Shabbat for the land, was given to us in order to connect the Shabbos of B’nai Yisrael with the Shabbos year of the Land of Israel. In this way, it seems obvious to this author that Hashem has inextricably linked the two — the B’nai Yisrael and the Land of Israel — for all time.

And in doing so, Hashem serves a reminder upon B’nai Yisrael that, He, our Creator is our ruler and that He is the sole and ultimate owner of Eretz Yisrael.

For us, the Land of Israel is a one-of-a-kind, exclusive, prime piece of real estate to be loved, embraced, possessed, tended and cared for. We see this precious, beautiful land, from Gush Katif to Chevron to the Banias, as a precious gift from G’d to his special bride, his unique people. We thank Hashem at every opportunity for giving us this glorious land and for the fact that we live here; in Jerusalem in Hevron, in Tel Aviv, in Haifa, in Beersheva, in Tzfat, in Yehuda, the Shomron, the Golan and, not to mention — in Ramat Beit Shemesh.

Rav Shimson Rafael Hirsch, z”l, in the new Hirsch Chumash (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Daniel Haberman), page 877 offers commentary on Shemittah and how it differs from Shabbos:

The prohibition of work on Shabbos relates not only to the primary categories of prohibited work…, but also to their derivatives.

The difference between Sheviyit [the seventh year] and Shabbos hinges on their meaning. Shabbos expresses homage to Hashem as the Creator and King of the Universe. Man subordinates himself — and all of the powers at his disposal to control the world — to Hashem. Hence, all exercise of creative power over matter is considered Melacha [work] which is prohibited on Shabbos…. Sheviyit, on the other hand, expresses homage to Hashem as the Master of the Land of Israel, and for this purpose it suffices to subordinate the land to Hashem’s Rule. A man of Israel remembers that his land belongs to Hashem, and that he is merely a stranger or sojourner…; he then neither works his land nor gathers in its produce to ensure his livelihood… Thus, the soil of the entire country is stamped as ownerless, and for the whole year [it] declares before all that [Am] Yisrael is not the master of its land.

Hashem seems also to be conveying to us, to all perceptive enough and with sufficient emunah to hear, that there is but one place that Am Yehudi can call home and where a Jew can be complete — Eretz Yisrael, and that all else is temporary, transient.

And to reinforce that bond and connection, Parshat Bechukotai contrasts the brachot which the B’nai Yisrael will receive for cleaving to, sanctifying and elevating adherence to the laws of Torah with the klalot, the punishments which will befall the Jews if they stray away from Torah or rebel against Hashem’s dominion over the world.

Earlier in Parshat Bechukotai, 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.” (Parsha Bechukotai, Sefer Vayikra, Perek 26, posuk 17)

Rabbi Mordechai Katz comments in his Sefer “L’lmode Ul’lamed” on Parshat Bechukotai (page 126):

“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.” They are the most dangerous of all enemies. “They are traitors against their own kind who know where their fellow men are most vulnerable.”

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.

As a result, the B’nai Yisrael is often deceived by it’s own evil rulers, by a fake “justice system(sic)” and by disunity and sectorial rivalries, into feeling fatalistic, that all is hopeless, that there is no Divine being. And through sectorial divisiveness, apathy, self interest, self-concern and self-enrichment at the expense of our fellow Jews, we play right into the hands of the leftist elitists as well as the corrupt politco, academia, courts and media — all of those who seek to subvert Torah, our history and our traditions to suit their own ends and self-interests.

So here we have a locality receiving mandate for wholesale Shabbos desecration from a flawed “court”, a body with an agenda geared toward making Israel “a nation of all its people”, thus attempting elimination of the Jews’ spirituality and meaning. This court ruling validates Shabbos desecration in spades. Surely, other localities will travel the same road to the court as did Tel Aviv.

And, as this author has previously cited on several occasions, there is also have a new political entity, based in the spiritual, historical unity of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael, whose platform states:

“‘Bechira’ is a value shared by all Jews, from the most religious to the least. It is not the state’s place, nor is it G’d’s desire, that the state force religion. We will provide an atmosphere to encourage people to keep Shabbos, but each community will make its own decisions, and private companies can fulfill those needs.”

Granted, that this political grouping appears to hold by a principle of “separation of religion and state governance” and that this principle appears to be held in the spirit of bringing about unity among the entirety of Am Yisrael, no matter how well-meaning this group’s principle and platform framing words are, they still, nevertheless according to this author’s understanding of Halacha, open the door of Shabbos desecration still further. They nonetheless seem to this author to be, albeit unintentionally, playing into the hands of the nefarious liberal, socialist, progressive, revisionist forces of governance and courts mentioned above who would seize upon any and every opportunity to strip the Jews of their Judaism and spirituality in the name of “a nation of all its people”: Israeli’ism — whatever that is.

This author honestly believes that this political entity must revisit and reassess its platform position regarding localities making their own decisions regarding transporting of a public on Shabbos in light of this court ruling.

To continue down the path opened by this ruling is to ride a slippery slope which only leads to more desecration, not less, dilution of Shabbos until we reach the point where, in the eyes of Shemayim, we have forfeited any justification or right we have to Eretz Yisrael.

Rabbi Meir Mazuz, Member of Knesset in the Shas party recently stated, regarding his party’s leader who is Interior Minister:

“Shabbat is above everything, we need to explain this to them.”

… “A person needs to observe the Torah. Don’t fear, be ‘as light as a deer and as bold as a leopard’ in your task as Interior Minister. Say ‘we don’t do this’…. I am sure they did not ask their local Torah sages!”

“The Shabbat is a present to the Jewish nation. Without the Shabbat, we would have become completely assimilated. Those who founded the State of Israel were secular, but they understood the value of Shabbat.”

“‘More than Israel guards the Shabbat, the Shabbat guards Israel’ – this was not said by our sages! It was said by a secular scholar, who understood the value of Shabbat and how important Shabbat is to the Jewish nation. Another scholar said, ‘Shabbat turns a running dog into a prince every week.’ Shabbat turns you into a prince! Everyone understood that we need to keep Shabbat publicly.”

Rabbi Aryeh Stern, Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem added:

…Wednesday’s decision by the Supreme Court to allow certain Tel Aviv stores to be open on the Jewish Sabbath “hurts… and I hope that something can overcome this decision in such a way that a more formal framework can prohibit the opening of supermarkets in public on Shabbat.”

Noting that he lives in an area which is not hareidi or otherwise religious, Rabbi Stern said, “It’s not my personal problem, but how a Jewish state should look on Shabbat.”

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

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Emor 5777: The Kohanim: Ideal of Physical and Spiritual Purity, Spiritual Unity, — Paradigm for Am Yisrael, and All Mankind

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, May 6th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Emor is being sponsored anonymously in honor of the wonderful Beit Tefillah Yona Avraham community in Ramat Beit Shemesh. To our anonymous sponsor, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Emor 5777: The Kohanim: Ideal of Physical and Spiritual Purity, Spiritual Unity, — Paradigm for Am Yisrael, and All Mankind

by Moshe Burt

The positioning in Torah of our Parshat Emor, following last week’s Parshiyot Acharei Mot/Kedoshim gives rise to thought and contemplation.

In the previous 2 pairings of Parshiyot; Acharei Mos and Kedoshim, and Tazria and Metzora before them, we learn about the Kohen as the only one Divinely invested with ruling as to Tumah or Ta’Hara regarding ones’ skin, hair, clothing or homes, as well as with being the vehicle for the Yom Kippur avodah, on behalf of the nation, in the Kadosh Kedoshim and
as the model, the paradigm of the Darchim for the entire B’nai Yisrael to emulate as a model for all mankind.

In Parsha Emor, we learn how the Avodah, the Service of the Kohanim necessitated them “…to maintain an especially high standard of purity and perfection.” (L’lmod L’Lamed, Rabbi Mordechai Katz, Parsha Emor, page 119)

Shem Mishmuel (Sefer Shem Mishmuel, Parsha Emor, pages 273-275) explains the function of the Kohen and the manifestation of his Kedusha in this way:

“The job of the Kohen is to join the physical world to it’s spiritual counterpart.” He performs the Avodah in the Beit HaMikdash, the place where heaven and earth meet. He brings Hashem’s fire upon the Mizbei’ach (altar) in a service which joins the physical earth to Hashem.

It bears repeating here that joining, unifying is the very essence of the Kohen. A citing of Rabbi Zelig Pliskin in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” (page 253) is worth repeating regarding Parshat Tazria, where he cites the Rabbi of Alexander who posits as the reason why, when one suspected an affliction, with tzara’as, that he [the metzora] is mandated by Torah, by halacha, to go to a Kohen, rather than to a scholar, a Talmud Chacham:

One of the traits of Aharon was that he did everything he could to make peace between people.

The Sefer relates how Aharon “exaggerated and told untruths in order to bring about peaceful relationships between people.” Whenever people quarreled, he would tell each side how highly thought of they were to the other. “When someone was told that the other person was speaking positively about him, he automatically felt positive about the other person and this greatly improved their relationship.”

Shem Mishmuel (Sefer Shem Mishmuel, Parsha Emor, pages 273-275) continues by noting that the co-existence of physical and spiritual is broken by the tumah (defilement) associated with death. Therefore, it is inappropriate for a Kohen to come into contact with death as death rips apart the unity of the physical and spiritual. He adds, in the name of the Arizal, that prior to death, a person is attacked by impure forces:

“The holy soul which rests within a person can’t bear to be connected with those forces and departs from the body to alleviate it’s discomfort. This is the moment of death. The tumah induces a split between the body and soul which is totally opposite of the Kohen’s role as a unifier or ‘joiner.’”

We learn that it is for these reasons that the Kohen is held to a higher level of behavior, morality and spiritual purity than the rest of the Jewish people. This higher level reflects itself in restrictions, such as to the Kohen’s exposure to tumah (impurity), i.e. the immediate relatives (wife, offspring, siblings and parents, or an unattended Jewish corpse) being the only ones for which the Kohen’s priestly responsibility is superseded by responsibility as a family member or human being to care for the burial of the deceased. This same higher level is reflected in restrictions as to whom the Kohan is permitted to marry, i.e. divorced women, women who converted to Judaism, women of Jewish mother/gentile father and women with the status of Chalutza (widowed woman who bore no offspring to their now-deceased husband) are all denied halachically to the Kohen. The Kohen Godol also has the further restriction that he may only wed a virgin.

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” on our Parsha (pages 283-284), brings a posuk, cites Rashi and comments regarding the Kohen as a paradigm of “The good you do should be complete”, also citing Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz (Daas Torah: Vayikra, page 210):

“And they shall observe My Charge, and they shall not bear sin for it.” (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 22, posuk 9)

Rashi explains that this verse is a warning to the priests not to eat trumah while they are in a state of tumah.Even though eating trumah is the fulfillment of a mitzvah for priests, they must be very careful not to do so in a manner that will transform the potential good into a transgression. Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz commented that we see here an important principle: even when a person is involved in doing the Almighty’s service, he must be very careful that no transgressions should come from it. On a practical level, whenever [one is] engaged in doing a good deed or involved in a worthwhile project, be on guard that the good [done] is complete and does not include any transgressions.

It seems that this is to say, the good, the kindness should be untainted, with total pureness of heart and mind with no ulterior motives, i.e. without lust for kavod, credit or notoriety.

If the B’nai Yisrael were to only glean from the Kohen, to glean from paradigms of the righteous: constancy of service, kindness, humility, efficiency, the total honesty so as to elicit the implicit trust of others — whether or not they happen to be frum, or to what degree of frumkiet, and apply a higher level of morality and the unity of loving kindness to our brethren, as to ourselves; with Hashem’s help equivocal, corrupt governance in Israel would cease to exist, would be turned upside down and replaced by Torah governance. And then, B’ezrat Hashem, we’ll be zocha to fulfill our assigned mission, to serve as a light, a model to the nations of Hashem’s blueprint for creation and how a G’dly Nation acts on Its Land.

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

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshiyot Acharei Mos/Kedoshim 5777: The Kohen Gadol: Paradigm for B’nai Yisrael, as B’nai Yisrael Stands as Paradigm for all Mankind

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, April 29th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshiyot HaShevua, Acharei Mos/Kedoshim is being sponsored by Dr. Edo and Atara Lavi and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh Lilui Nishmas for the Yahrtzeit of Atara’s Father Eliezer Chaim ben Shlomo Zalman. To the Lavi 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
************************************

Parshiyot Acharei Mos/Kedoshim 5777: The Kohen Gadol: Paradigm for B’nai Yisrael, as B’nai Yisrael Stands as Paradigm for all Mankind

by Moshe Burt

Parshiyot Acharei Mos and Kedoshim are two parshiyot which together, express a point — that the Kohen is a paradigm of the middot and attributes for the Jews to emulate as Hashem’s chosen nation. And that the Jew, in turn, should be expressive of a paradigm of the morality and character attributes which Hashem meant for the peoples of the world to
emulate.

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

Shem Mishmuel (on Parshat Acharei Mos, English translation of parsha selections by Rabbi Zvi Belovski, pages 254-256) speaks at length about reasons for the distinction between the Kohen Godol’s usual eight vestments of gold linen garments worn during his service at all other times of the year and the white linen garments worn when entering the Kodosh Kedoshim on Yom Kippur.

Shem Mishmuel first cites gemora Rosh HaShannah 26a:

Why does the Kohen Godol not enter the Holy of Holies wearing his gold vestments to perform the Divine service?

Because an accuser cannot become an advocate.

Shem Mishmuel then indicates that this concept relates to the Eigel Zahav and writes:

The sin of the eigel has been with the Klal Yisrael throughout their history and is still with us today. The sin is so deeply etched into our national consciousness that we will not be entirely free of it until Messianic times.

Aharon’s… intentions in involving himself with the calf…. were considered good, for he wished to reunite the people and refocus them toward their correct goal…. Given that Aharon lost his two sons, at least partially in response to his involvement in the eigel episode, no trace of the sin remained within him. This means… that the principle “an accuser cannot become an advocate” should not have applied to him… for there was no remnant of the sin [in him] which could be recalled at this crucial time.

But this applied only to Aharon acting in a personal capacity; what about his role as emissary for atonement of the whole nation? In that capacity, the rule would pertain, for the people still had (and have) a remnant of the sin of the eigel in their national character which needed to be expunged. Thus Aharon experienced a dichotomy: as himself he could wear his usual gold garments, but as representative of the nation, he could only wear white.

So, based on the above principle, it seems that the white garments denote a state of morality and perfection as Shem Mishmuel goes on to explain:

…It is deemed inappropriate for the Kohen Gadol to remind Hashem of this sin (the golden calf) by dressing in gold when he goes into the inner sanctum of the Beit HaMikdash on Yom Kippur. Thus he wears special white-linen clothing which carry absolutely no hint of past sin.

Where a sin is still not entirely forgiven, the offending item, if used as an advocate, will remind us and Hashem of the time when it [the gold] was an accuser…. We can understand, therefore, why this principle particularly applies to the sin of the eigel…

Thus, we learn the Halacha that Aharon HaKohen Godol, and every subsequent Kohen Godol wore white vestments when serving in the Kodosh Kedoshim and atoning for the nation on Yom Kippur. And we learn that Aharon HaKohen Godol was THE paradigm, the role model for every subsequent Kohen Godol to emulate in order that the masses of Am Yisrael throughout the generations would follow suit, and l’chatchila (ideally) be moral and free of sin. Perhaps that explains, too, why observant Jewish married (or formerly married) men wear white kittles in shul on Yom Kippur.

Near the end of our parsha, Torah lists numerous forbidden, illicit relationships and practices in Sefer Vayikra Perek 18.

Sefer “L’lmod U’lamed”, by Rabbi Mordechai Katz (page 114) further states on these perakim:

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

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

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

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

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

The Artscroll Stone Chumash adds on posuk 22:

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

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

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

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

One of the main themes underlying Parsha Kedoshim is the loving care with which each Jew l’chatchila is to treat his Jewish brother. Indeed, we see that the first posuk of our Parsha conveys that spirit, “Hashem spoke to Moshe saying, “Speak to the entire assembly of B’nai Yisrael and say to them: You shall be holy, for holy am I, Hashem, your G’d.” (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 19, posuk 1)

Our Parsha then goes on to enumerate the Asseret HaDivrot, the Ten Commandments in depth.

But the spirit of our Parsha is best expressed by the principle taught by Rabbi Hillel to the convert, on one foot, that the entire Torah can be summed up with this one key concept whch says “V’ohavtoh L’rei’achoh Komochoh” — “… you shall love your fellow as yourself…” (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 19, posuk 18); to want for your fellow Jew what you would want for yourself, to not do to your fellow Jew what you would not want to happen to yourself.

Sadly, in our times, V’ohavta L’rei’acha Komochah often is lacking amongst B’nai Yisrael, supplanted by “Me”, “Mine”,“my convenience”, “Me first” on individual levels as well as on a national level. One might add to this list mindsets representative of disunity, division, polarization between sectors, senseless hatred, i.e. “my group and to heck with yours” or, as seen in recent times, “since You omitted us from your ruling coalition and now seek to integrate us into the national social/economic structure by legislative/judicial force, to heck with the Land — we’ll vote with the left.”

This disunity, division and polarization is not lost on the nations, and shatters the paradigm purity and character attributes of Am Yisrael which Hashem sought for the peoples of the world to view and emulate.

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

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

Parshiyot Tazria/Metzora 5777: Gauging Contemporary Ta’amei/Tahara on a National Level, as well as Individual/National Sincerity in Teshuvah

Filed under: Beit HaShalom - Peace House, Commentary & Human Interest, Expulsion from Federman-Tor Farm, Expulsion, Eviction, Disengagement, Gaza Operation on Saturday, April 22nd, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshiyot HaShevua, Tazria/Metzora is being sponsored by David and Julie Morris and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh Lilui Nishmas for the Yahrtzeit of Julie’s Mother Shulamit Devorah bat Rav Shimshon Raphael z”l. To the Morris family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshiyot Tazria/Metzora 5777: Gauging Contemporary Ta’amei/Tahara on a National Level, as well as Individual/National Sincerity in Teshuvah

by Moshe Burt

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

Torah relates in our Parsha;

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

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

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

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

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

Metzora, … Motziya rah [transliteration of the 2 words which form Metzora], a slander. Why just for the Metzora is it ordained, ‘…He shall dwell apart, outside the camp shall his dwelling be’ (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 13, posuk 46)? He induced a rift between a man and his wife, between a man and his neighbor; therefore he too, is to be separated from everyone and remain alone outside the camp.

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

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

With all of this in mind, let’s return to the case of tzara’as erupting on the skin, and covering the entire skin of the afflicted from his head to his feet, everywhere visible to the Kohen.

“But someone whose entire skin has turned white is so morally corrupt that he’s too convinced of his rectitude to think of changing. There is no point in continuing to isolate him. By telling him … that all hope for his ability to improve is gone, Torah shows him dramatically how low he has sunk.” (Artscroll; The Stone Edition Chumash, page #613)

A number of years ago, this author saw a National Council of Young Israel weekly Parsha sheet (the parsha sheet subsequently misplaced by me) which spoke of how Israel, in the depths of it’s corruption and idolatry during the reign of King Achav, won all of it’s wars.

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

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

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

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

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

A great T’shuvah movement took hold in Eretz Yisrael and throughout the Jewish world after the Six Day War. And so, as this author understands the essence of that National Council of Young Israel weekly Parsha sheet, just as a Melech (King) subsequent to Achav was dedicated to wiping out avodah zora such that its instances became more covert where they had previously been blatant, the great T’shuvah movement after the Six Day War may have caused what may be understood as a collective national tzara’as to recede from covering the entire national body.

As a result, derision of the religious intensified among elitists and an increasingly leftist-controlled media, as well as among those few who held monopolistic control over national capital. Sectors in Israel, including amongst the religious, have become more openly polarized toward each other where previously animosity was beneath the surface subservient to a national unity of purpose. Certain sectors of Am Yisrael physically and verbally attack those of their sector who choose to enlist in the military.

And finally, there have evolved, over the last almost forty years, the myths of the leftists, the elitists, academia, the “politically correct” and so-called “mainstream media” which either deny, or are, at best indecisive or equivocal politically and governmentally as to our Divine Right to Eretz Yisrael, to the Biblical/Historical Land which was Divinely Given us in our days, by way of a decisive war of survival thrust upon us by an Arab/Islamic enemy bent on the destruction and eradication of the Jewish people.

Where once, heroic generals literally led their men into battle, the generals of our generation now sit in Tel Aviv proclaiming so-called protocols for confronting terrorists; perpetrators of terror attacks on civilians by all possible means and ambushes and stabbings of Chayalim, as their soldiers are compelled to put their lives at risk in adhering to these protocols at peril of arrest, incarceration and court martial for their violation.

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

That may possibly be the message behind our current national travails as we mark some 139 months since Jew evicted Jew from Jewish land in Gush Katif and 4 Shomron towns, since the results of the Lebanon conflict almost eleven years ago, and since the Gaza conflicts of January, 2009 and July, 2014. And one would be remiss to omit the twin destructions of Amona, Hevron’s Beit HaShalom, the repeated trashing of Federman’s farm, the expulsion from the outpost at Shvut Ami — all at supreme court-legalized Yasamnik gunpoint, and the government’s building freezes in Yesha, most recently because the prime minister prevailed upon the most Israel-friendly US president in history “to help with a two-state solution (sic)”. (Axiomatic: You can’t continue construction while advocating a “two-state solution”) All of which carry the shadow of corrupt political, judicial, bureaucratic, academia and media plans jeopardizing the Jews living in Yehuda and the Shomron.

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

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

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

“One of the traits of Aharon was that he did everything he could to make peace between people.” The Sefer relates how Aharon “exaggerated and told untruths in order to bring about peaceful relationships between people.” When people quarreled, he would tell each side how highly thought of they were to the other. “When someone was told that the other person was speaking positively about him, he automatically felt positive about the other person and this greatly improved their relationship.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But one can easily see the Ibn Ezra’s point that “teshuvah” followed by avoidance of obligations and responsibilities seems part of general human nature, as does loshen hora, and as does slander by way of complacent complicity, i.e. turning away from one’s fellow Jew’s matzav (difficulties) either on a one-to-one level, or on a national sectorial level. It seems to this author that to bring real peace and unity among B’nai Yisrael, we Jews need to rise above common human nature and care for our fellows — V’Ahavtah L’re’icha Komocha. Only then will our collective contrition for the previous aveirot be sincere and complete.

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

Chodesh Tov and Good Shabbos!

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