Parshat Ki Teitsei 5775: Torah Responsibility vs Acquiescence to and Indoctrination of Evil?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, August 22nd, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off







Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Parshat is being sponsored by Pesach and Ann Chapler of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for both continued recovery for Yishaya Shalom ben Malka Gittel (Yishaya Blass) and for a total, complete refuah shleima for Chaim Yechiel ben Malka (Howard Rothman). To the Chapler family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses and good wishes.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate 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 Ki Teitsei 5775: Torah Responsibility vs Acquiescence to and Indoctrination of Evil?

by Moshe Burt

Parsha Ki Teitsei teaches numerous Mitzvot such as; returning lost items to their rightful owners, loaning money to one’s fellow Jew free from interest, what one is permitted to or prohibited from taking from another Jew as loan security, the laws of Shatnes (wool and linen together), Tzitzit, and dealing fairly and truthfully with one’s fellow Jews in business. We also learn of Mitzvot such as sending a mother bird away before taking the young or the eggs and helping one’s fellow Jew load and unload a burden, fencing in a roof area and not harnessing together different species of animals on the same yoke.

Our parsha also contains a posuk (Sefer Devarim, Perek 22, posuk 5) regarding male and female garb and the prohibition against cross-dressing, considered by Hashem as “an abomination.” This prohibition relates closely to Parshat Acharei Mos in Sefer Vayikra. There, 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 [same gender] [and bestiality], however is unnatural and therefore abominable.

Rabbi Henach Leibowitz, in his sefer “Majesty of Man”, comments on the state of our society today, something we may all know, but maybe don’t yet sufficiently internalize:

…Conduct once considered unthinkable is now commonplace. Acts of immorality, vulgarity… which Torah defines as abominations and only a generation ago were considered unimaginable, are now paraded openly without shame.

Do we realize the effect our environment has on us? Our neshamas are holy and pure, created in Hashem’s image and instilled with the sensitivity of the Torah’s moral standards.

Such abominations as discussed above seem today to be “the new norms”, the new “civil rights”, the new “morality” in the Western world, and in Israel as well. In Israel, it seems that the new political “darlings” of the “right” who purport to support and fight for the Land of Israel are the very ones lobbying for aid and supporting these perversions against the name of Hashem.

Referring back to Sefer Devarim, Perek 22, posuk 5, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” (page 439), cites Torah stating prohibitions regarding male and female garb and provides an interesting commentary:

“A woman shall not wear the garments of a man, and a man shall not wear a dress of a woman. For it is an abomination of the Almighty, your G’d, all who do these things.”

Targum Yonoson states that the garments of man include tzitzis and tefillin. Rabbi Chayim Shmuelevitz commented on this that we see the principle that each person has his own mission in life. The same thing that for one person is “holy of holies,” for another person who does a similar thing, but is is not his life’s task, it is an abomination. Each person should feel joy in carrying out his life’s mission and should not try to do things he was not meant to do.

It seems to this author that what R’ Chayim Shmuelevitz is saying or indicating here is that the genders each have their respective life’s missions. And it seems to this author that abominable experimentation by each gender donning the others’ garb, and imitating the others’ mannerisms and tendencies has been portrayed, promulgated and propagandized by the “social scientists”, the media, the “intelligencia” as chemical disorders or imbalances, mutations or deficiencies in genetic makeup such as to indoctrinate and justify these as legitimate and worthy of equality, if not more, with the two genders rather than to present them for what they are: abominations.

Finally, this author finds it more than ironic that the very “women of the wall” who upset the Kedusha of the Kotel by donning tzitzis and tefillin are, more often than not, among the same ones who promulgate “land for peace (piece)” and same-gender equality in all of it’s aspects — such as cross-dressing, relationships, etc.

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

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt is an Oleh, writer and commentator on news and events in Eretz Yisrael. He is the founder and director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network and lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel.
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Parshat Shoftim 5775: Connecting Judicial Righteousness, Our Mission and the Paradigm Criteria for Kingship Over Am Yisrael

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, August 15th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Parshat Shoftim is being sponsored by Yirmi & Rochelle Gold of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for both continued recovery for Yishaya Shalom ben Malka Gittel (Yishaya Blass) and for a total, complete refuah shleima for Chaim Yechiel ben Malka (Howard Rothman). To the Gold family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses and good wishes.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate 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 Shoftim 5775: Connecting Judicial Righteousness, Our Mission and the Paradigm Criteria for Kingship Over Am Yisrael

by Moshe Burt

Our Parshat Shoftim opens with the Torah requirement of appointment of judges, and officers of the court to enforce judicial decisions with righteous judgement. The third posuk of our parsha reads:

“Tzedek, Tzedek tierdof…” Righteousness, righteousness (also rendered Justice, Justice) you shall pursue that you may live and inherit the land which the Lord, your G’d gives you.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 16, posuk 20)

Such righteousness in judgement must not be prejudiced by bribes, gifts, appearance of, or financial position of either litigant.

A jaw-dropping commentary citing Sifrei 144 and Sanhedrin 32b on the 3rd posuk of our parsha notes on: “Tzedek, Tzedek tierdof…”:

“Shall you pursue” rather than “shall you judge” indicates that the verse is addressed to litigants, rather than the judges. Although they [litigants] may take their case to any competent court, they should make an effort to take it to a court which has the most learned and righteous judges. (Sefer Zikaron, Mesiach Ilmim, Gur Aryeh)

This righteousness extends as well to the litigants regarding their selection of Batei Dinim to adjudicate their case — that the Beit Din should be chosen based the scholarship and righteousness of the judges, not based on which Beit Din is known, or more apt to rule in favor of one or the other of the litigants.

The pursuit of justice opening our parsha leads into Torah’s enunciations in numerous other areas; i.e. prohibitions against blemished offerings, robbery and extortion, as well as avodah zora. Torah also relates that any Kohen (expressed as “Levite”) could come and minister together with the Kohanim of a particular watch and share in the division of that watch’s prescribed communal offerings.

Our parsha also enunciates laws concerning criteria for when, and qualifications for appointment of a king, a head of state for Am Yisrael — the paradigm for justice, loyalty to Hashem and Torah, as well as for national unity.

Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch z”l, in the new Hirsch Chumash (English translation by Daniel Haberman) renders our parsha regarding Malchei Yisrael (kingship) (The new Hirsch Chumash on Sefer Devarim, Perek 16, posukim 14-15. pages 394-401):

“When you come to the land that Hashem… is giving you, and you have taken possession of it and will dwell in it, you will say: I will set a king over me, like all the nations… you will then set a king over yourself whom Hashem… will chose. From the midst of your brethren shall you set a king over yourself; you cannot set over yourself a foreigner who is not your brother.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 16, posukim 14-15)

R’ Hirsch comments (R’ Hirsch commentary in the new Hirsch Chumash on Sefer Devarim, Perek 16, posukim 14-15. pages 394-401) on — “When you come to the land that Hashem… is giving you, and you have taken possession of it and will dwell in it”:

…These words… state unequivocably at the very outset that it is not the role of Melech Yisrael to conquer the land and secure Israel’s possession of it; it is not his role to build up power to be used externally. For it is Hashem Who gives the Land to Israel, and with Hashem’s help Israel will conquer the land and dwell safely under His protection…. For these purposes Israel does not need a king: all Israel needs to do — so that Hashem’s promises may be fulfilled — is to be “Israel”; to prove that it is indeed the people loyal to Hashem’s Torah: to win a moral victory over itself from within so as to be sure of victory also against all enemies from without.

…This need [kingship] can arise for only one reason: … to assure the sole factor on which Hashem’s protection and blessing depend; … the nation be “Israel”, the people loyal to Hashem’s Torah.

You, too, [Israel] will feel the need for national unity in order to obtain the greatest good for yourself… for this purpose, you, too, will seek to establish national unity by means of subordination to one head of state. But… your head of state will… stand out… first among all Jews loyal to Torah…

Imbued with the spirit of your [referring to Am Yisrael] mission, he will seek to win over all hearts and minds to this spirit, in thought, word and deed. With the power of his word, his personal example, and his personal prestige, he will combat anything that will violate this spirit. You are to place all of your resources at his command, so that he may fight for and defend your national mission internally.

Thus Hashem has granted Am Yisrael exclusive possession of, monarchy in and sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael provided that we remain loyal to Hashem, Torah and our mission — unity and loyalty to Hashem’s Torah.

Rav Hirsch then makes this jaw-dropping observation, perhaps a prophesy about our times:

Indeed, this is the true vocation of the king in Israel, for… the nation was faced with a threat; the alienation of its individual segments from their one common moral task as a nation. The appointment of a king is meant to combat this danger. (ibid., R’ Hirsch commentary)

R’ Hirsch seems to have outlined the paradigm L’Chatchila (the way things oughta be) mission of Malchei Yisrael, as mentioned above,which seems to be maintenance of a national spirit of unity and loyalty to Hashem and Torah. This author’s understanding of a king’s mandate is the pursuit of Torah righteousness toward all segments of Am Yisrael in all aspects of national life, rather than creating a divisive nation, an Am divided and conquered by equivocating, vacillating anti-Torah politicians who lack, or have lost a handle on the spiritual ability to truly know why they are here and why a modern-day Israel exists.

When considering our present situation today where our “possession” of and “dwelling” in Eretz Yisrael is incomplete, consider again the consequences of not possessing the entirety of Eretz Yisrael as expressed in Sefer Bamidbar:

“When you cross the Jordan to the land of Canaan, you shall drive out all of the inhabitants of the Land before you; and you shall destroy all their prostration stones; all of their molten images…. You shall possess the Land as an inheritance by lot to your families…. But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the Land before you, those of them whom you leave shall be pins in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they will harass you upon the Land in which you dwell. And it shall be that what had meant to do to them, I shall do to you.” (Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer BaMidbar, Perek 33, p’sukim 51-56, pages 922-923)

It seems evident that we have a long way to go, both as individuals within the Am and those who are our political governing leadership, in achieving the criteria of Hashem’s mission. This may not be put in the most correct or optimal terms or language, but its not just about larning Torah, its about the application of Halachot, and the principles behind and which guide Halachot, such as righteousness in individual interpersonal relationships regardless of respective sectors, righteousness in litigation and it’s judgements, and righteous governance which displays, as the comments of R’ Hirsch cited above, by “personal example, personal prestige” — the criteria for the fulfillment of the mission which Hashem gave to B’nei Yisrael.

The second part of Perek 16, posuk 15 of our Parshat delivers an important message to be heeded in today’s Israel:

“You cannot set over yourself a foreigner who is not your brother.”

Of course, the B’nai Yisrael cannot set over itself any type of foreigner. But, by extension, any foreigner, any non-Jew ought not, cannot wield governing power, be it executive, legislative, judicial or de-facto over a true Jewish sovereignty. For WE ARE a Jewish sovereignty, a Jewish nation and not under the dominion of any foreign entity — not the Obamanator, ba’al kerry or any other foreign personage or entity. Torah tells that those foreigners willing to live in israel — under a Jewish sovereignty are welcome provided they live by and obey the rules of a Jewish sovereignty. But they ought not, cannot have legislative governmental power over Am Yisrael.

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

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt is an Oleh, writer and commentator on news and events in Eretz Yisrael. He is the founder and director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network and lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.

Parshat Re’eh 5775 — Consequences of Contempt, Prejudice and Lacking Chessed, Kindness for One’s Fellow Jew

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


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Parshat Re’eh is being sponsored by Baruch & Yaffa Swinkin of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for continued recovery for Yishaya Shalom ben Malka Gittel (Yishaya Blass). To the Swinkin family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses and good wishes.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate 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 Re’eh 5775 — Consequences of Contempt, Prejudice and Lacking Chessed, Kindness for One’s Fellow Jew

by Moshe Burt

According to Rashi, Moshe Rabbeinu begins our Parshat Re’eh by informing the B’nei Yisrael about the Brachot (blessings) and Klalot (curses) to be pronounced to them from Mount Gerizim and Mount Eval upon their entry to Eretz Yisrael.

Moshe Rabbeinu continues his mussar saying: to B’nai Yisrael:

“Behold, I set before you … a blessing and a curse; the blessing if you heed the commandments of Hashem, and the curse, if you will not observe his commandments. (Sefer Devarim, Perek 11, posukim 26-27)

Toward the end of the parsha, we are informed:

“If there be among you a destitute person of one of your brothers within your cities in your land which Hashem … gives you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brother.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 15, posuk 7)

This author views “V’ahavtah, L’rei’echa Kamocha”, that which Hillel told the Ger “on one foot” as summing up the entire Torah: wanting for your brother what you would want for yourself, and not wanting for your brother what you would not want for yourself, as the link which binds these two these p’sukim of our Parsha.

One of the most illustrative stories that is told, whether it really occurred or is a tale with a moral, regarding the link between these posukim is one cited in Rabbi Mordechai Katz’s sefer L’lmod U’Lamed (page 170) on our parsha about the consequences of lacking Chesed:

There was once a man who enjoyed all of the good things in life; successful business, devoted wife, a beautiful, spacious home. He was content to continue this good life indefinitely.

One day, as he sat down to a sumptuous meal, there was a knock at the door. A beggar was seeking a few spare morsels of food to suffice his hunger. The man responded scornfully, as he slammed the door; “Why don’t you go out and earn a living instead of depending upon others to support you”.

Not long afterwards, the man noticed that his business began to decline. He soon had to cut back on his lifestyle by pawning off many of his valuable clothing and belongings. The business downturn continued unabated. He gave up all of his furniture and soon, his house as well. His wife volunteered to find work to pay for food but the man refused. Feeling ashamed at not being able to support his wife, he divorced her.

Several months passed and the wife found a new suitor. He was a newly wealthy man and they married and established a household.

Once again, one night as the couple were preparing for dinner, there was a knock at the door. A beggar appeared asking for food. The new husband was much more Chessed oriented than the previous one. He invited the beggar in and provided him with enough food and money for weeks. The beggar, eyes downcast, accepted the Chessed gratefully.

After the beggar departed, the husband noticed a strange look on his wife’s face and asked what was wrong. She explained, “I knew that beggar. He was my first husband. He looked so thin and pale that I hardly recognized him. How sad to see a man sink so low.”

The husband thought for a moment and said, “If that was your first husband, then I just realized something. Do you remember that a beggar once came to your previous home asking for bread and was turned away? Somehow, good fortune seemed to come to me after that and I became wealthy.” We are told, “he who closes his ears to the cry of the poor will himself cry out and not be heard.” (Mishley 21:13) (L’lMode U’Lamed, pages 170-171.)

It is against the background of the above story and the three posukim cited above and the consequences of lacking Chesed that one could speak of the importance of a myriad of chassadim (kindnesses).

Last year, during the war against Hamas terrorism, this author wrote regarding the contrast between how Am Yisrael came together as one in a myriad of ways not seen in many years over the cold-blooded murder of three teenage Yeshiva boys which led to last summer’s Gaza war, and supporting our chayalim during war,and how, at the same time a certain sector attacked an IDF soldier in Beit Shemesh:

… Extremists attacked a reserve soldier returning home from the front Monday, according to several reports, as he came home to Beit Shemesh to visit his parents and pray at a local synagogue.

Now, ten years after the Geirush: the expulsion of our Jewish brethren then living in Gush Katif and in the two Shomron towns, we see that, despite the myriads of “apologies”, such as the qualified one from Zionist Union party chairman Yitzhak Herzog in which he called the government’s unilateral action “a mistake”, the government and their “High Court” are still acting with the same level of callousness, disdain and hatred for their fellows as did their predecessors ten years ago. During the Expulsion, the government ousted 9-10,000 Jews from their homes and communities, and then put up every possible administrative/bureaucratic hoop, obstacle and delaying tactic in the way of the evictees’ rights to their just restitution under Israeli law. The result was that, for most, once they finally received their restitution, they were compelled to use these funds to pay back debts and to keep up with monthly bills, rather than being used for their original intention, resettlement in new homes and communities and reestablishing their families’ lives. For example, there is the southern community of Nitzan, where, for lack of sufficient funds due to government delaying tactics, many families formerly of Gush Katif continue to reside in ramshackle caravan “homes” eight years later.

The government and their “High Court” has ruled that a number of buildings in Beit El, many occupied, must be demolished. And so, once again, ten years after Jew expelled Jew from their homes and communities in Gush Katif, the government is now geared up for a repeat performance against their fellow Jews in Beit El.

It seems to this author that those, be they from any one sector of the Am, or from a governance, who harbor such complete hatred, callousness, disdain and contempt for their fellows have missed the moral of Rav Mordechai Katz’s story above. It would seem that this moral extends to suffering the consequences of either feigning a superficial contrition, or overtly lacking kindness and understanding and displaying callousness, disdain and hatred toward others, even others who seem not to be exact copies of you.

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

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt is an Oleh, writer and commentator on news and events in Eretz Yisrael. He is the founder and director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.

Parsha Eikev 5775: Real Accomplishment of Eikev Mitzvot, or Merely Going Through the Motions?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, August 1st, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Parshat Eikev is being sponsored by Ari and Rifka Stern of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for the success of their children in all their endeavors. To the Stern family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses and good wishes.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate 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 Eikev 5775: Real Accomplishment of Eikev Mitzvot, or Merely Going Through the Motions?

by Moshe Burt

Sefer Shem Mishmuel (by R’ Shmuel Bornstein, as translated by R’ Zvi Belovski, pages 386-387) renders translation of the opening posuk of Parsha Eikev:

“And it shall come to pass, if you listen to these mishpatim (ordinances) and you guard them and do them, that Hashem Ke’ilokecha will guard the covenant for you and the kindness which He swore to your forefathers.” (Sefer Devarim Perek 7, posuk 12)

Bearing this in mind, the Stone Chumash (Parshat Eikev pages 980-981) equates Eikev:

“you will hearken [listen]“: in midrashic terms as meaning the “heel”. That is being attentive to the little Mitzvot; the details, the Mitzvot that one tends to overlook, to ignore, to tread one’s heels on in life’s mad dash, but without which the Jewish people would lack the merit which sets us apart from common man. The little mitzvot, the small details are the ones epitomized by V’Ahavtah L’re’echa Komocha — caring for, and attentiveness to your fellow Jew as for yourself.

Shem Mishmuel seems to express Eikev as listening, guarding and doing the mishpatim (the laws). In turn, he equates listening with intellect, guarding with life’s emotions — with one’s heart, and doing with the bodily and physical performance of the Mitzvot.

In context of the above, this author takes the opportunity to express Hakarat Hatov to all who saw me through my recent surgery, hospital time and recovery period — ones doing and accomplishing Eikev mitzvot with true, pure, honest and sincere hearts.

This author is blessed to live in a community in Eretz Yisrael where mitzvot such as Bekor Cholim, in all of its caring aspects, is treated seriously. Thus, I have been privileged to have a member of the Sha’arei Tzedek nursing staff, a relative of close friends and neighbors, act as my patient advocate and hold my hand, as a figure of speech, through the entire pre-surgery process through to the surgery itself. And I mustn’t overlook those who took me to the hospital for the surgery, and who brought me home after my week stay.

Once the surgery was completed, even as this author suffered excruciating post-operative pain during the ensuing week, I was showered with Rabbis, neighbors and friends visiting me throughout each day, thus deflecting my attention from some of the intense pain during the duration of the visits. And finally, upon my return home, these same devoted friends and neighbors saw to preparing my apartment for my return and to providing all of my meals once I arrived home. In short, they were all a paradigm of performance of the Eikev mitzvot: attentive to even the little Mitzvot; the details which many tend to overlook.

Later in the Parsha, there are these posukim:

“For the land to which you come, to possess — is not like the land of Egypt from where you came…” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 11, posuk 10.)

“The land which you are crossing to occupy…. is therefore a land constantly under Hashem Keilokecha’s [Our Lord's] scrutiny; the eyes of Hashem Keilokecha are on it at all times, from the beginning of the year until the end of the year.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 11, posukim 11 & 12)

But Rabbi Zelig Pliskin cites in “Growth Through Torah” (pages 405-406) on our Parsha — Devarim, Perek 8, posuk 17:

“[Lest] you will say in your heart, My power and the strength of My hand did for me all of this success.”

R’ Pliskin says on the above posuk:

Don’t allow a feeling of righteousness to cause you to be conceited…. the Brisker Rav, Rabbi Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchik: …this verse also applies to someone who says, “It was due to my personal spiritual merits that we were victorious.” We should always realize that what the Almighty does for us is due to His kindness and compassion and we should not feel that it is our own righteousness and merits that brought success.

R’ Pliskin, in citing the Brisker Rav, equates the above posuk and feelings of conceit over financial success or victory over an enemy in time of war. But one could question: could it be that conceit — engrained societal conceit has combined with, or is part and parcel of peer-group pressure — macho machismo regarding one’s way of tefillot which seemingly evolves and becomes learned, engrained and systemic from the years of Yeshiva katana and reinforced by macho speed competitions in Yeshiva high schools regarding a Shaliach Tzibbur’s rendition of Chazarot HaShatz (repetition of Shemonah Essrei), leyning, reciting of Aliyah brachot (blessings over the Torah), Aleinu and more?

This author previously blogged the following:

But isn’t today’s corrupt, evil and pretentious governance but a mirror reflection of us — our self-centeredness, our insensitivity, indifference and time-expediency. Just as our ancestors “fled from the mountain of G’d like a child running away from school”, don’t WE, in some way, act the same way?

After a seemingly No-kavanah (no-thought, non-contemplative) break-neck repetition of Shemoneh Esrei, we have the unmitigated gall to blow through Aleinu at the speed of a 100plus mph Arnoldis Chapman fastball in a mad rush to say kaddish, and then flee out of Shul like a wild herd, like kids running from school lest they be piled with more lessons and homework? It often seems as if we treat tefillot, particularly the Aleinu prayer, lightly, as if they were small details in life’s rush, rather than as a thrice-daily major expression of dialogue with Hashem and a key to Hashem’s bringing about the Redemption of B’nei Yisrael.

Seemingly, we lose sight of whether or not Hashem desires this type of tefillah and dialogue. It seems that indifference and insincerity of intent which permeates the 30 – 45 second Aleinu — particularly the tendencies to either blow through Aleinu’s second paragraph at break-neck speed, or to blow it off altogether. It seems to this author that it is next to impossible to even properly pronounce all of the words of Aleinu in 30-45 seconds. And so the tefillah of Aleinu, having been blown through for generations in the mad-dash to be through with it, seems the paradigm Eikev Mitzvah. But more than that, is there not a certain arrogance, a certain disregard for one’s fellows: those who for deeper concentration and spiritual reasons, as well as for pronounciation purposes, i.e. they can’t make their mouths run miles a second, cannot finish Aleinu at break-neck speed? And what messages does break-neck speed send to Hashem? And, as this author has asked in the past; are we not disrespecting a significant segment of our brethren as well as showing Hashem insufficient honor and sincerity?

Aleinu L’Shabeiyach: The verbalization of OUR Chiyuv — our obligation as Jews to praise and glorify Hashem’s name. Aleinu is the most often said, the most repetitious and unchangeable tefillah, yet the least respected of all of our tefillot. Unfortunately, few of us even bother to take the time, with missile-launched vocalization of the tefillah, to even focus on the meanings of it: that Yehoshua davened it forwards, backwards, sideways through as the Jews encircled Yericho and the Shofars blew until Yericho’s walls fell in heaps.

Thinking back, this author recalls a Shabbos Drash by Rav Chaim Zev Malinowitz, Shlita, just before Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av. In that Drash, R’ Malinowitz spoke out that we’ve got to feel the void of being without, and feel the need for the Beit HaMikdash. He suggested that we say and internalize daily the Parsha of The Tamid Offering. He equated The Tamid Offering with Sh’ma Yisrael. And he equated the second paragraph of Aleinu with the “Y’hei Sh’mei Rabbah…” — “May His great Name” of the Kaddish.

The Artscroll siddur (page 56 in Nusach Sefard edition) explains that:

“Y’hei Sh’mei Rabbah…” has an enormous cosmic effect…. Halacha states… respond[ing] to Kaddish takes precedence over… respond[ing] to any other prayer, even Kedusha or Borchu. (Mishne Breurah 56:6)

The Talmud (Shabbos 19) teaches that one must respond “Y’hei Sh’mei Rabbah…” with… his total concentration (Rashi, Tosafos)

And so, Rav Malinowitz equated the second paragraph of Aleinu: the “Al Kein N’kaveh L’cha” — which we learn was the prayer of Teshuvah uttered by Achan, who violated Hashem’s ban on taking spoils from Yericho [which were Holy to Hashem and were to go to the Mishkan Treasury (The Living Nach, Early Prophets, pages 17-18)], with the “Y’hei Sh’mei Rabbah…” of Kaddish with someone who acquired a property and enters the bank to apply for a loan to start up a business on the property. If the applicant has no formalized written business plan, only the spoken word with no facts and figures to back it up, he’s rejected out-of-hand. But with a formal business plan, architectural plans, etc, his loan request has a chance of being satisfied. Just an additional note here: We learn that three of the first four letters of the paragraph “Al Kein” — Ayin Khaf Nun — spell out Achan’s name.

It took a while for this author to understand the logic of a possible connection between “Y’hei Sh’mei Rabbah…” and the paragraph beginning “Al Kein N’kaveh L’cha”, but it would seem that “Y’hei Sh’mei Rabbah…” — “May His Great Name be blessed forever and ever” stands as the mission statement of the “business plan” of B’nei Yisrael, whereas the second paragraph of Aleinu: the “Al Kein N’kaveh L’cha” is the nuts and bolts, the details, the achitectural drawings, etc. of making the “business plan” a reality, making it happen. The second paragraph of Aleinu, rather than being an afterthought to be blown off or overlooked, ignored, mumbled and tread on with one’s heels, seems the justification behind B’nei Yisrael’s pleas to Hashem to bring us the Ge’ula Shlaima and to restore our Beit Hamikdash and the actualization of our Mishkan, our Menorah and our daily offerings.

Rabbi Asher Baruch Wegbreit, in sefer, “The Power of Aleinu”, based on Abudraham and which belongs being among the s’forim on the shelves of EVERY Orthodox Shul (even Chabad), goes further noting on Aleinu’s 2nd paragraph:

If we’re preoccupied with our daily concerns, apathetic to Hashem restoring His Divine Presence, and we mindlessly mumble words asking for the Redemption without meaning it, we will witness a “mundane” Redemption — i.e., through political and technological developments. But if we pray for the Redemption as is mentioned in our daily prayers, including Aleinu, with great fervor on a persistent basis, and if we put our emotions into them and actually, sincerely “hope to Hashem,” we can trigger an extremely miraculous Redemption — full of stunning events that will be far beyond those that took place during the Exodus from Egypt.

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

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Va’etchanan 5775: Can There Really Be Consolation, Even Ten Years After the Expulsion?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Sunday, July 26th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Parshat a’etchanon is being sponsored by Mattis and Marla Sklar of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for full, complete full, complete refuah shleima for Chaim Yechiel ben Malka (Howard Rothman). To the Sklar family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses and good wishes.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Va’etchanan 5775: Can There Really Be Consolation, Even Ten Years After the Expulsion?

by Moshe Burt

The Haftorah for our Parsha begins:

“Nachamu, Nachamu Ami yomar Elokeichem” — “Comfort, comfort my people — says your G’d.” (Yishaiya, 40:1)

This sentiment seems to be silent, but yet a theme of Parsha Va’etchanan.

In the beginning of Parsha, Moshe Rabbeinu recalls for the B’nai Yisrael how he entreated Hashem for permission to cross the Jordan River but that his request was denied. Instead, he was consoled by viewing the Land from Mount Pisgah. (L’lmod Ul’Lamed – Parsha Va’etchanan, page 161)

Moshe Rabbeinu then recalls for the Am the trials of B’nai Yisrael in Bamidbar and enumerates:

“…The decrees and… the ordinances that I teach you to perform, so that you may live, and you will come and possess the Land that Hashem, the G’d of your forefathers, gives you.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 4, posuk 1)

Later in our Parsha, Moshe Rabbeinu’s provides further explanation of the laws concerning the Cities of Refuge (Irei Miklat), first enunciated in parshat Masei (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 35). Shem Mishmuel (by R’ Shmuel Bornstein, as translated R’ Zvi Belovski, pages 380-382) indicates that the laws regarding Cities of Refuge connect with Moshe Rabbeinu’s recitation of “the decrees and… the ordinances” to express that there is hope and consolation even for the accidental murderer who has lost his life force and must stay in a City of Refuge to avoid the deceased’s avenger.

Shem Mishmuel expresses that the Cities of Refuge signify to B’nai Yisrael that despite whatever travails may occur in the future, they can rise above their challenges and feel consolation in their hope. This includes whatever level the generation entering Eretz Yisrael may have been on visa-vi the generation which left Mitzrayim and who were witness to Hashem’s myriad of Miracles and yet transgressed with the Golden Calf (Egel Zahav), the Spies (Miraglim) and with various rebellions in Bamidbar, that they, and succeeding generations should never despair and lose hope. This should be of significance to those who subscribe to this Parshat HaShevua list and who live in Beit Shemesh, one of the locations designated by Hashem as a City of Refuge.

Shem Mishmuel notes:

“The very existence of the Irei Miklat and the laws surrounding them have a clear implication: there is always hope for the future.”

And after the destruction of the First and Second Beit HaMikdash, the starving, the famine, the persecutions, there was comfort and consolation that one day, the B’nai Yisrael would be redeemed and returned to our former state; a people in it’s land with it’s Beit HaMikdash for all time.

But it would seem that this comfort, hope and consolation would have had to be an evolution as Jewish life, in whatever venue that they resided, eventually stabilized.

Back in Philadelphia, years ago in the old country, a Holacaust story was told of how Nazis confronted a group of Chassidim:

The Nazis rousted and harrassed the Chassidim, telling them “dance Chassidim, dance and sing!” And the Chassidim were silent. Again, the Nazis accosted them, “Chassidim, dance and sing!” Then, the Nazis aimed their rifles, “Chassidim, dance and sing, or we will kill you!”

At first, slowly, muted, nervously, a niggun with words was heard faintly. The niggun and the words grew in volume as the Chassidim began to dance. “Mir Villen zei Ibber Leiben, Ibber Leiben, Ibber Leiben, Mir Villen zei Ibber Leiben…” “We will outlive you!”

Yes, we have outlived every nation, every vile personality which put upon B’nai Yisrael and so, we should, in theory, be comforted. And inevitably, B’Ezrat Hashem, history in years from now will show we will have outlived Hussein Obama and his Iranian Ayatolah buddies and Iran’s nuclear machinations, the EU, the BDS movement, etc., as well as the rashayim among us.

But, even now, consolation: a full decade after the Expulsion — ten years after Jew expelled his fellow Jews from their homes on Divinely ordained Jewish land in easily the worst post-Sho’a pogrom of our generations? Shabbos Nachamu? One wonders how long it really took B’nai Yisrael to console ourselves after each of the destructions, the persecutions throughout our history. One could wonder whether the term

Nachamu – consolation could, in reality, be a euphemism for convenient amnesia/forgetting just as the Sho’a raises memories too uncomfortable, unwelcome for those who R’ Meir Kahane z”l coined as “comfortable Jews” – comfortable Israelis.

A decade later, the disbelief and the hurt continues to be fresh, too raw, too festering, too agonizing for those of us who acted on behalf of our Gush Katif brethren.

But we must take strength from the Torah’s enunciation of the Irei Miklat and never despair or lose hope that we can rise above contemporary challenges, despite the despots — externally or within, and feel consolation. Ultimately, the righteous will prevail.

Rav Zev Leff provides a lesson for all Observant Jews with his citing of Michtav Eliyahu and his comments in a Machon Daniel “MD Torah Weekly” on our Parshat a number of years ago about why Gedolim are taken from us, and how this could provide hope and consolation for us after the mourning of Tisha B’Av:

We must ask ourselves: Why are the gedolim taken? If Hashem wants to teach us… and not hurt us, then leave the Gedolim. We need them to lead us, to teach us. Michtav Eliyahu says that’s exactly the reason: People do mitzvot by rote, approaching Torah superficially, without seeing the holiness of Torah and life. They rely on the Gedolim to think and feel for them. …to get a bracha from [them]…. So Hashem takes the Godol, and then we no longer have anyone to do it for us. We are forced to think for ourselves. Then there’s hope thay we can be cured.

You have to learn from the Godol how to be a godol yourself.

The greatness of a Godol is that he’s flesh and blood. Where are the places… we go to remember them? …Their graves, not… their batei midrashim. Why? To know that they were flesh and blood. But that flesh and blood was a Moloch Hashem… And if I know that another human being like me became a Moloch Hashem, then why can’t I become one too? But if I make him into a superhuman, what does he have to do with me? I am not super human. I cannot apply it to my life. I the Chofetz Chayim was a human being, with the same tongue and teeth, the same mouth for speaking loshen hora that I have, and he could control it, then maybe so can I. But if he was not an ordinary human being like me, then it has nothing to do with me.

The point that Rav Leff seems to be making which is both pertinent to our Parshat Va’etchanan and to Shabbos Nachamu is that our hope and consolation must come from within our collective, unified selves. We need to do mitzvot, from the heart and with consistent fervor, as Aaron HaKohen served in lighting the Menorah daily in the Beit HaMikdash. Our tefillot need to be with intent — whether in an Aliyah b’Torah or with the thrice daily Aleinu — each and every word carefully pronounced. We need to look to Tzadikkim as a paradigm of how we must act and interact with each other — V’ahavtah L’rei’cha Komocha: wanting for our fellow Jew as we would want for ourselves, rather than looking our noses down at our fellow observant Jew as being less so because his Rabbanim and learned traditions may not be precisely like ours.

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his Sefer “Growth through Torah” cites from our Parsha Sefer Devarim Perek 4, posuk 5:

“See that I have taught you statutes and laws as Hashem, My G’d, commanded me, to do so in the midst of the land.”

R’ Pliskin then adds (“Growth through Torah”, page 390-391):

That is, you should live an elevated life among other people…. True sanctity and perfection is to live among people and behave both towards Hashem and towards your fellow men in a manner consistent with Torah values. (Arvai Nachal)

…The true test… is when you have to deal with others. Only when you are in the company of other people can you fulfill all the aspects of Torah.

And so we see, just as with the Chassidim, who under Nazi duress, began to dance and sing, the Jews will yet survive the downfall of vile, corruptible post-zionist governance. The Jews will yet survive and bring the sanctity and elevation of the Beit Medrash outside, into interactions with their fellow Jews b’derech, throughout Eretz Yisrael.

“Mir Villen zei Ibber Leiben, Ibber Leiben, Ibber Leiben, Mir Villen zei Ibber Leiben…” “We will outlive you!”

We will outlive you, Bibi, Shimon, both evil Ehuds, Shaul, etc. (running the gamut of the vast majority of politicians from ALL sectors), and yeah, the Obamanater and the Iranian Ayatolahs too! We, those Deemed (with a capital “D”) to be among the righteous, and Hashem will win out in the end.

“Nachamu, Nachamu Ami yomar Elokeichem” — “Comfort, comfort my people — says your G’d.”

B’Ezrat Hashem, as we pray and hope for each year, that this Tisha B’av FINALLY be the last Tzom for B’nai Yisrael.

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

Good Shabbos!

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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 Devarim 5775: Taking Beit Medrash Learning and Spirituality and Applying Them in the World Outside

Filed under: News Reports on Saturday, July 18th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Parshat Devarim is being sponsored by Edo and Atara Lavi of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for a full, complete refuah shleima for Yishaya Shalom ben Malka. To the Lavi family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses and good wishes.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate 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 Devarim 5775: Taking Beit Medrash Learning and Spirituality and Applying Them in the World Outside

by Moshe Burt

A number of years ago, Rav Aba Wagensberg spoke out in a shiur that Sefer Devarim represents Moshe Rabbeinu’s Mussar to B’nai Yisrael as the time of his death drew near.

Rabbi Wagensberg gave over the thought that the B’nai Yisrael, after all of the rebellions, all of the contention, all of the failures which the rebellions and contention wrought, after the blatantly false accusations of nepotism hurled by segments of the Am at Moshe and Aaron HaKohen and more, Finally: came to the collective, unequivocal realization that Moshe Rabbeinu, now in his final days on earth, was indeed Hashem’s annointed — the undisputed leader and that his words are the words of Hashem.

Shem Mishmuel (Selections on the weekly parshiyot and festivals rendered to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski) comments on our Parsha (page 373):

This book is qualitatively different from the other four. Chazal tell us (in Megillah, page 31b) that the curses in Sefer Devarim were said by Moshe himself. We may assume… that the material in Devarim, while of course presented by Hashem to Moshe, contains more human input, however slight, than the previous four books. Perhaps it can be considered an in-between stage, bridging the gap between the main Written Torah… and the Oral Torah. Devarim contains elements of both — it is the written word of Hashem…, but with an element of human content, like [oral] Torah.

R’ Wagensberg also related to Sefer Devarim, as distinguished from the previous four s’forim, in an analogy regarding the order in which one puts on and removes his tefillin. We learn that when one begins his morning tefillot, he dons the tefillin shel yad (tefillin for the arm) first, and only afterwards does he don the tefillin shel rosh (tefillin for the head). At the conclusion of davening, he removes the shel rosh first, and then the shel yad.

For forty years, Am Yisrael traveled through Bamidbar (the desert), and now they stood at the cusp of their entry into Eretz Yisrael. So just as when one begins to pray and to learn, he dons tefillin shel yad and then the tefillin shel rosh, when he leaves the Shul or Beit Medrash, he removes his shel rosh first and only after, his shel yad so as to signify his application of the tefillot and learning of Shul and Beit Medrash to his actions and interactions with his fellows in the day-to-day living in the world outside.

The tefillin sequence equates with a person’s active learning of Jewish law (Halacha) and Jewish history in the previous four s’forim of Chumash, and then in Sefer Devarim, receiving Mussar concerning the practical, day-to-day real-time, real-life applications of what has been learned. In essence, the donning of the shel yad first, and the removal of it last equates with applying in the world outside what has been learned in Beit Knesset and/or the Beit Medrash.

Every believing Jew, whatever his level, must take on day-to-day real-time, real-life reality application of his learning, and translate it into his own righteous leadership mantle within the body of B’nai Yisrael, but without the contentiousness of a million generals.

Application of this individual righteous leadership mantle and of spirituality and learning from Shul and from Beit Medrash to the world outside seems meaning to deal with one’s fellow Jews, at every level, sincerely, justly and righteously, and without bias and disdain.

Recently, Israel National News reported that a prominent politician and member of a so-called “religious party” asserted the following:

“Any Jew who observes the Torah and commandments is for us a Jew… A Reform Jew, once he does not follow the religion of Israel – then let us say, there is a problem. I cannot allow myself to say that he is Jewish”…

The report continues:

Orthodox Jews – who strictly adhere to the laws of the Torah – view Reform and other non-Orthodox theologies as illegitimate, due to its departure from Jewish law and even rejection of the Divinity of the Torah.

Even so, [the member] comments that Jews who merely identify as “Reform” should not be considered Jewish have no basis in any interpretation of Jewish law.

[The member] did attempt to reach out to Reform Jews in the same interview, adding: “These are Jews who took a wrong turn along the road and we need to ensure that every Jew will go back into the fold of Judaism and accept everyone with love and joy… we would like for all of those Jews to go back to Judaism according to halacha [Jewish law]. That is all.”

The politician’s addition was kind of a lame caveat considering his initial statement — words which should never have been uttered in the first place. This author countered in a talk-back comment on the report:

I always learned: “Born a Jew, Always a Jew.” Reform Judaism is an oxymoron. But Reform Jews are STILL Jewish. Is [this political leader] saying that any Jew not Orthodox is not a Jew?

In the years prior to Aliyah this author and his Jewish boss back in Philadelphia had several discussions about his having encountered certain fellow Jews who would make such an inference about a non-observant Jew. This author would always respond as never hearing of such a thing and not believing in it for a second. But then again, this author became Ba’al Teshuva at age forty-two. In this author’s humble opinion, the remarks of the aforementioned member of the so-called “religious party” represent divisive sinat chinom unbridled, unchained.

The Manchester Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Yehudah Zev Segal, Shlita, z”l writes on Parshat Devarim in his sefer, “Inspiration and Insight” Discourses on the Weekly Parashah (page 252);

A prime method of uprooting this devastating trait [sinat chinom] is by striving to fulfill the mitzvah of V’Ahavta L’rei’echa Kamocha, to love one’s fellow Jew as oneself (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 19, posuk 18). Ramban (ibid) understands this commandment as instructing us to desire only good for our neighbor in all facets of his existence, just as we desire only good for ourselves, be it with regard to material needs and acquisitions, honor, or attainment of wisdom.

One who lives up to these words of Ramban, … will surely be found guiltless with regard to sinat chinom.

This is a lesson that many Jews, and particularly politicians claiming religious stripes, need to internalize and take deeply to heart if we are to indeed pray and hope for, that B’Ezrat Hashem, this Tisha B’av FINALLY be the last Tzom for B’nai Yisrael.

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

Good Shabbos and Daven Hard, Fast Easy on Tisha B’av!

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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 Matos/Masei 5775: Accepting Moshe as Hashem’s Annointed Leader and Connecting with Eretz Yisrael

Filed under: News Reports on Saturday, July 11th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshiyot HaShevua Matos/Masei is being sponsored by David and Julie Morris of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for a refuah shaleima, quickly and completely, for Moshe Burt who has undergone surgery this week. To the Morris family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses and good wishes.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate 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
******************************************************

Parshiyot Matos/Masei 5775: Accepting Moshe as Hashem’s Annointed Leader and Connecting with Eretz Yisrael

by, Moshe Burt

Our twin-bill Parshiyot Matos/Masei actually deals with two related points which bear repeating: B’nai Yisrael’s belated unequivocal acceptance of Moshe as their Divinely Annointed Leader and with the ideal of a Jew’s love, dedication and connection with Eretz Yisrael.

Parshiyot Balak and Pinchas seem to represent a watershed event in the history of B’nai Yisrael. As noted in Parshat Pinchas, it appears that 1/3 of B’nai Yisrael died either by the hand of the Judges, or by way of the plague which struck some 24,000 Jewish men who partook in the Midianite/Moabite bazaar. The forays of Jewish men at the bazaar in Shittim and cohabitation of Zimri and Kozbi represented watershed and rock-bottom events and things couldn’t have gotten much worse. There was only one way for B’nai Yisrael to go from there — Up!

We find that after the rock-bottom event of the Ba’al Pe’or, the B’nai Yisrael FINALLY smelled what Hashem was brewing and unequivocably recognized Moshe Rabbeinu as their leader, as HaKadosh Borchu’s Annointed. The question is; Why, only now, did the Jews finally accept Moshe as Hashem’s Annointed Leader and ceased squabbling and rebelling? Was there something connecting the timing of this recognition with acquiescence by Am Yisrael to the knowledge that Moshe would not be leading the B’nai Yisrael into Eretz Yisrael? Was it that this latter recognition sunk into the collective consciousness of B’nai Yisrael and they came to the realization that, as the oft-recorded 80s disco tune went, “You don’t know what you got ’til you lose it”?** And what, if any, are comparable lessons to be learned in our contemporary generations?

Near the beginning of our Parsha Matos, Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 31, posuk 5 states:

“So there were delivered from the thousands of the Children of Israel, a thousand from each tribe, twelve thousand armed for the legion.”

Rabbi Artscroll (The Artscroll Stone Chumash, page 905) cites Rashi who states, on the words “were delivered”:

This term implies that the Jewish warriors had to be coerced into going to war [against Midian during which they killed the 5 kings of Midian and the evil Bila'am]. This is to their credit, because they knew that Moshe would die when the war was won, and they did not wish to go, so that their triumph would not be at the cost of their leader’s life. For much of the forty years in the Wilderness, they complained to and about him, but now they showed their love for him and had to be delivered against their will.

And so B’nai Yisrael finally, unequivocally recognized Moshe Rabbeinu as their leader by their words and actions regarding the war itself, by Sh’vatim Gad and Reuven leading the nation in the war and by the inquiry of the daughters of Tzlafchad, descendants of Yosef (Joseph).

In our Parsha, Sh’vatim Gad and Reuven approached Moshe Rabbeinu regarding their desire to graze their flocks and settle their families on the East side of the Yarden. To this, Moshe Rabbeinu replied, “Shall your brothers go off to war, and shall you sit here?” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 32, posuk 6)

Moshe was quite angry at the two Sh’vatim. He was concerned lest Gad and Reuven would avoid taking part in the wars for Eretz Yisrael, that other Sh’vatim might follow suit and B’nai Yisrael might be condemned to wandering in the desert another 40 years.

There are those commentators who hold that the hearts of Gad and Reuven were in the right place and that they had every intention, of their own volition, of taking part in the wars and, in fact, preceding the rest of B’nai Israel into battle.

There were other commentators who viewed the desire of Gad and Reuven to settle on the East side of the Yarden as representing greed, a secular approach to Eretz Yisrael and a tendency toward separatism vs. communal responsibility.

Regarding Moshe Rabbeinu’s response to the pledge of Sh’vatim Gad and Reuven to fight in the upcoming war; “then you shall be vindicated from Hashem and from Israel,” Rabbi Artscroll cites Yoma (38a) on Perek 32, posuk 22;

It is not enough for one to know that one’s actions are proper in Hashem’s eyes. One must also act in such a way as to not engender suspicion on the part of human beings.

But, the most poignant explanation of the situation comes from the Tiferet Yehonatan who is quoted in the sefer “Torah Gems” where he states, on “Shall your brothers go off to war, and shall you sit here?”:

“‘…When your enemies attack Israel — you shall sit here’ — you will remain in peace in whatever country you are living in? Do not think so for an instant, because a war in defense of Israel is a war for the survival of the entire Jewish people wherever they are.’” (Torah Gems, Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, Parsha Matos, page 156.)

This explanation is as poignant now; in the context of recent contemporary history, i.e. the geirush from Gush Katif and the Shomron and everything that has happened and is happening since.

And so, this caring for and craving for one’s narrow personal comfort and sense of “the normal life” of the nations segues into Parsha Masei which teaches us that “Hashem spoke to Moshe… by the Jordan, at Yericho” telling him to speak to the B’nai Yisrael and tell them (Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer BaMidbar, Peek 33, p’sukim 51-56, pages 922-923);

“When you cross the Jordan to the land of Canaan, you shall drive out all of the inhabitants of the Land before you; and you shall destroy all their prostration stones; all of their molten images…. You shall possess the Land as an inheritance by lot to your families…. But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the Land before you, those of them whom you leave shall be pins in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they will harrass you upon the Land in which you dwell. And it shall be that what I had meant to do to them, I shall do to you. “

These posukim literally scream out from our Torah to this very generation!

Rabbi Artscroll (Artscroll Stone Chumash, page 923) then cites the Rashbam and follows with it’s own commentary;

… If they fail to do so, they will suffer the fate Hashem had intended to impose upon the Canaanites, and be driven out.

Only in the perspective of Hashem’s wisdom can this passage be understood. No human ruler has the right to decree that an entire population is to be… exiled, but Hashem revealed that the Canaanite presence was incompatible with both the Land’s holiness and Israel’s mission on earth. History is the most conclusive proof of this, for the fact was that the Jews could not bring themselves to eliminate all of the Canaanites, with the result that the Jews were drawn to idolatry, debauchery, and were in turn periodically oppressed and finally exiled.

This author recalls a point discussed and sent out a few years ago at this time by that kiruv legend, Jeff Seidel regarding Parsha Pinchas:

Parshat Pinchas relates a story (Sefer Bamidbar 27:1-12) about the daughters of Tzlafchad, descendants of Yosef (Joseph). These daughters wanted and loved the Land of Israel so much that they wanted a piece of it. As Rav Moshe Feinstein asks, why do they have to have a claim in the land, just because they love it? Wouldn’t entering or living in the land be fulfilling enough?

Rav Moshe thus concludes that if a person truly loves something, they’d want it to be theirs, and no one else’s. This is why the daughters wanted to actually own a piece of the land, rather than simply living in it. This logic applies to marriages, as well as the Torah’s preference that every Jew writes their own Torah (or a portion of it). In our terms, it’s not enough to borrow and read Jewish books. We need to love the Torah we read SO much that we feel the need to own it! As this week’s Parsha urges, we should not only seek, read and enjoy words of Torah, but we should OWN those books, and live those words!

Perhaps, the lesson to be learned regarding the B’nai Yisrael’s final, unequivocal recognition of Moshe Rabbeinu as their undisputed leader relates, in our time, to the Jewish people’s Divine title and connection to, and possession of Eretz Yisrael. Again, “You don’t know what you got ’til you lose it”!

If one could express possession of Eretz Yisrael as our own in human terms: if our land were a human being, one could embrace, hug, cling, possess and squeeze hard and never letting go. We understand the Land as the physical, tangible manifestation of Hashem’s being and will. So, based on Rav Moshe’s axiom, a Jew possessing his Land, as if embracing it, seems the physical manifestation on earth of the spirituality of Torah, tefillah, chesed and cleaving to Hashem. And therefore, it seems important to one who passionately loves this Holy Land, every inch of it — that he be jealous for every inch of it and willing to fight for all of it, not just that one piece of the Land where he and his live.

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

Good Shabbos!

**YouTube link placed strictly for authenticity of statement.

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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 Pinchas 5775: A Fine Legal Point?

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


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Pinchas is being sponsored by Avraham and Miriam Deutsch of Efrat in honor of our brave chayalim. To the Deutsch family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate 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 Pinchas 5775: A Fine Legal Point?

by Moshe Burt

Near the end of Parshat Balak, Torah’s narrative explains that Bila’am’s scheme to seduce Jewish men to avodah zora by way of immorality (co-habitation, halachically disallowed liaison) resulted in a plague which killed 24,000 Jewish men until Pinchas’ act of impaling the prominent co-habitors brought the plague to a halt. In addition, Bamidbar, Perek 25, posuk 4 and 5 read;

“And Hashem, said to Moshe: Take all of the chiefs of the people, and hang them up unto the Hashem in the face of the sun, that (there) may turn away the fierce anger of Hashem from Israel. And Moshe said unto the judges of Israel: Slay you every one his men that have joined themselves unto the Ba’al Peor.”

Rabbi Chaim Zev Malinowitz explained in a Shabbos Drosh a few years ago what was, for this author, a Chidush (a new thought or idea) which shed some new light on the significance and magnitude of the Jews’ chet (sin) of the Ba’al Peor and Pinchas’ act of slaying Zimri and Kozbi as they co-habited.

Rav Malinowitz asked how it could be that the B’nai Yisrael, through 200 plus years in Mitzriyim and throughout their forty years of wandering in Bamidbar, maintained a derech which precluded illicit co-habitation, and yet have gone so fundamentally wrong in immoral co-habitation with Moabite women on the eve of entry into Eretz Yisrael? He brought a Medrash Rabbah indicating that Hashem brought a stream of water from Sodom to Shittim where the B’nai Yisrael were encamped and suggested that the ingesting the water apparently brought about a test of B’nai Yisrael which many failed.

Rav Malinowitz cites Rashi on Perek 25, posuk 4 and 5, particularly posuk 5:

Rashi on posuk 4:

Take all of the chiefs of the people — that they shall judge the worshipers of Peor and hang them up — the worshipers…

Rashi on posuk 5:

Slay you everyone his men — Everyone of the judges of Israel killed 2 (offenders); and the judges of Israel numbered eighty-eight thousand, as it is stated in Sanhedrin (folio 38).

If we do the math, if 88,000 judges each hung and killed 2 sinners, that’s 176,000 of the Am Yisrael who died by hanging. Now add to that the 24,000 who died in the plague and we see that the Chet of the Ba’al Peor took the lives of fully 1/3 of B’nai Yisrael before Pinchas’ impalement of Zimri and Kozbi as they co-habited brought an end to the death.

Rav Malinowitz also added, citing sections of Tanach, that, for example, Yehoshua noted decades after the Jews entered Eretz Yisrael that the B’nai Ysrael are still suffering for the sin of the Ba’al Peor and that full tikkun (rectification) for the chet will only come in times of Moshiach. He indicates that Hashem did an abundant favor for B’nai Yisrael in permitting them to enter Eretz Yisrael in wake of the chet.

This author reasons further that, just as only 20% of B’nai Yisrael were up to the test of taking the Korban Pesach, slaughtering it and applying the da’am to their doorposts, so too 1/3 of the new generation in Bamidbar failed a crucial test just before entry into Eretz Ysrael.

And it seems strange that Zimri, the leader of Shevet (tribe of) Shimon, the Shimon who with Levi, acted against Shechem and the Shechemites after Shechem violated their sister Dina, would now act and condone co-habitation with other than B’not Yisrael.

From Torah’s narrative, there is no doubt that Pinchas acted l’Shem Shemayim (for the sake of Hashem) by impaling Zimri and Kozbi and so merited the Kehuna and eternal life. However, there seems to be a point which this author has not previously focused on closely and seems in need of clarity. According to Halacha, as explained by Rabbi Henach Leibowitz in his sefer “Majesty of Man” on our Parshat Pinchas (page 247):

When a Jew sins with a non-Jewish woman in front of at least ten people, the Torah allows an individual to take action — “a zealot may kill him” (Sanhedrin 82a)…. One who is so determined to uphold the honor of Hashem that he cannot let evil exist before him — is permitted to take the law into his own hands.

…Note that Pinchas, who so wanted to carry out the will of Hashem and bring the sinners to justice, did not run in a heated passion to kill Zimri and Kozbi. He first went to inquire of Moshe what the law was and only then did he take action.

The Zimri/Kozbi liaison had to be witnessed in progress by a minyan to halachically mandate their deaths. But, after Zimri brought Kozbi into the camp and in front of Moshe, they were sequestered in Zimri’s tent which was surrounded by guards. Do we therefore understand that the act of bringing Kozbi into the camp and confronting Moshe were, themselves sufficient witnessing and intent to justify action without the minyan actually witnessing them in the act of co-habitation? Or was the act of Pinchas impaling them both by their members with Moshe’s spear and showing them before the camp, in their impaled state — linked together in the act of co-habitation, proper satisfaction of halachic witnessing and thus mandating their death?

What is meant was that this author has always understood that Pinchas went into the tent (under a rouse as tent was guarded by others from Shavet Shimon) and impaled Zimri and Kozbi in the tent and then displayed them to the public their impaled state — in the act — at the point of the spear. Do we understand this public display as satisfying the halachic parameters (their act witnessed by a minyan) for the mandate of death? Or do we understand that Zimri’s bringing Kozbi into the camp and confronting Moshe, and Pinchas’ impalment of them, taken together justify the mandate of death “in the act”? What we seem to have here is a fine legal point. But it in no way diminishes the meritorious action of Pinchas.

On another point, were there mandated warnings to be issued, as with the wife about to sequester herself with someone other than her husband? Or did Moshe’s halachic ruling to Zimri regarding such co-habitation constitute sufficient warning, if such warning was even necessary?

The Lubavitcher Rebbe noted in regard to Pinchas’ action (Studies in the Weekly Parsha, by Yehuda Nachshoni, Parshat Balak, page 1113);

“He impailed the woman through the belly”; “He aimed his spear between their male and female members, proving that he did not kill them in vain.” Why would we think that he had killed them in vain? Rather, the Torah here alludes to the law that a zealot has free reign only while the act is in progress.

What the Lubavitcher Rebbe appears to be describing is another legal point which is not discussed by R’ Leibowitz, the concept known under the loshen; Kannoi Pogim Bo — that a zealot witnessing a co-habitation between a Jewish man and a non-Jewish woman may slay them both only provided that the slaying occurs as they co-habit. (bottom of Sanhedrin 81b through top of 82a) Therefore, apparently this author understands that there are two halachot concerning the sin of such co-habitation. One halacha in the case where such co-habitation is witnessed by 10 or more men, and the other where a single zealot witnesses the co-habitation where the parties involved in the co-habitation are sequestered, i.e., in the case of Zimri and Kosbi, that they co-habited in the privacy of Zimri’s tent and Pinchas’ intervention, killing them both spearing them by their respective members.

R’ Shimshon Raphael Hirsch Z”l (the new Hirsch Chumash published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Daniel Haberman) discusses the magnitude of the sin compelling Pinchas’ zealous action. R’ Hirsch provides translation of a few of the last posukim of Parsha Balak (Perek 25, posuk 6, page 524 and posukim 14 and 15, page 530) and commentaries:

“…A man from among B’nai Yisrael… brought the Midianite woman…” (posuk 6)

“The name of the slain man of Israel, who was slain with the Midianite woman was Zimri son of Salu, a prince of… the tribe of Shimon.” (posuk 14)

“The name of the slain Midianite woman [was] Kozbi, daughter of Tzur; he was the head of the peoples… in Midian.” (posuk 15)

A man of B’nai Yisrael had, with the Midianit flouted Hashem, His Torah and Israel. Therefore he became liable to punishment at the hands of a zealot… moved by zeal for Hashem, …Torah, and for Israel…

Rav Hirsch then writes on the merit of Pinchas’ act for which Hashem conveyed upon him the Kehunah (Perek 25, posuk 13, page 529):

…Just as the tribe of Levi attained the rank… by it’s actions at the sin of the golden calf and then was expressly chosen for this office, the same happened here: In his act of rescue, Pinchas acted as a Kohen…; he carried out in actual practice the atoning devotion which the avodah of the Kohen performs symbolically in the Sanctuary [Mishkan, Beit Hamikdash]. That is why he was elevated the rank of Kohen [everlasting Priesthood] after his act.

Thus Hashem conveyed the Kahuna, and eternal life upon Pinchas in vindication regarding the vicious, false accusations against him and in recognition of the justness and Kiddush Hashem of his action. We can only hope that Hashem rewards those few and brave voices who speak out about Our Divine Right to Har Habayit and to all of Our Land — Eretz Yisrael. May those voices become our governmental leaders!

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

Good Shabbos!
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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 Balak 5775: Arrogance and Bias and the Modern-Day Bila’ams Within

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


Shalom Friends;

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

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

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

Best Regards,

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

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

by Moshe Burt

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

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

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

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

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

Hello, I’m Mr. Ed!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Shalom Friends;

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

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Chukas 5775: Chukim, Tradition and Jewish History

by Moshe Burt

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

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

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

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

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

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

To appreciate his words fully…:

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

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

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

R’ Kaniel writes these powerful words:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We have seen the adage play out throughout our history of the remedy for illness preceding the illness itself; that the means, or potential, for rectification or salvation of B’nai Yisrael precedes the Chet or danger itself, as with Esther HaMalka in place, and Mordechai’s foiling of the poison plot against the king written in the annals prior to Haman’s evil plot against the Jews. The existant remedies brought about Haman’s downfall and hanging and the salvation of B’nai Yisrael.

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

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

Good Shabbos!
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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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