Parshat Mikeitz/Shabbos Chanukah 5778: Chanukah, Eight Miracles Done to Yosef and Lessons for Our Times

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, December 9th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off







Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Mikeitz is being sponsored by Moshe and Lauren Pitzele and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh in honor of their son Yosef Shalom’s fifth birthday. To the Pitzele family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Mikeitz/Shabbos Chanukah 5778: Chanukah, Eight Miracles Done to Yosef and Lessons for Our Times

By Moshe Burt

In compiling this vort, this author deems it important to give context to story of Yosef: spurned by his brothers out of hatred for Father’s favorite son and for his tale-telling, first dumped in a snake and scorpion-filled pit — his survival a naise (miracle), then he was sold to Yishmaelites who, in turn, sold him to Midianites and ended up a trusted servant in the home of Pontiphar, and later imprisoned due to the phony, false accusations of Pontiphar’s wife. Yosef was incarcerated for twelve years until the Chamberlain of Cupbearers, who had also been imprisoned, remembered Yosef’s dream interpretations to Pharaoh when Pharaoh became agitated over puzzling dreams.

So, once again, this author will, as with previous vorts on our parsha, harken back to a vort said over quite a few years ago at a Shabbos Chanukah Oneg about Yosef in Mitzrayim (Egypt) based on Jay Shapiro’s book of fictional short stories entitled “Almost Midrash.” This story is of a fictitious second to Yosef in a tale from Shapiro’s book entitled “Duaf of Memphis”.

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

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

What a stunner! Big-time transitional meetings goin’ on in Pharaoh’s Palace. No Trump hotels here! This guy Yosef who interprets dreams soo impresses Pharaoh with seeing from his (Pharaoh’s) dreams the onset of drought and famine that he’s made Viceroy, second only to Pharaoh in ruling over Egypt.

Here’s this Jewish guy Yosef who makes all the right moves insuring that there is no starvation in Egypt during the famine, and yet, rather than “go down in the annals” as having saved Mitzrayim, there seems to be no record in all recorded history, other than in our Torah, of Yosef or this period in Egypt. If there were “annals of history” and if Yosef was in fact recorded, such records surely must have subsequently been expunged.

As Parshat Mikeitz always coincides with Shabbos Chanukah, Yosef’s experience in the pit brings this author back in time to Philadelphia, in “the “old country” and to a point made by Rav Yehoshua Kaganoff which bears repeating:

As we learned about the Neisim of Chanukah, i.e., the one flask of oil found in the Beit HaMikdash which seemingly had enough oil to burn for one day, yet burned continuously for 8 days, Rav Kaganoff spoke about a neice which happened when the brothers cast Yosef into the pit which contained snakes and scorpions. Although this pit was habitat to snakes and scorpions, Hashem held them back, restrained them within the pit. Therefore, when the brothers removed Yosef and sold him into bondage, he emerged unscathed from the danger within the pit.

But it seems to this author that Yosef’s emergence from the pit unharmed was one of at least eight miracles which Yosef experienced from the moment the other 10 brothers acted against him. Our Parsha tells of what could be seen as a second neice:

“…And behold, a company of Yishmaelim came from Gilad with their camels carrying aromatic gum (for censing), balm and landanum, …to carry it down to Egypt.” (Breish’t Perek 37, posuk 25 as rendered in Growth Through Torah, by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin).

Rav Pliskin (Growth Through Torah, Parsha Vayeishev page 109), then cites Rashi;

Why did the Torah mention what the camels were carrying? To tell us the reward of the righteous. Those caravans usually carried kerosene and resin (used for fuel) which had an unpleasant odor. But the caravan that carried Yosef to Egypt had pleasant spices.

Pliskin then cites Rabbi Mordechai Pragamantsky of Telz, who heard from Rabbi Chayim Stein:

…It was a message to Yosef that all was not lost. Appreciate the Hand of the Almighty that is guiding your life and supplies you with minor pleasures to enhance your life. This is a sign that all the Almighty does is to enhance your life. This is a sign that all the Almighty Does is for your ultimate benefit.

It occurs to this author that other such miracles occured to Yosef which would seem to include; (3) his enslavement brought about his landing in the House of Pontiphar as his head servant and caretaker of all that was his (Pontiphar’s), (4) his escaping a judgement of death regarding Pontiphar’s wife’s false accusations and his sojourn in the dungeon where he emerged as assistant to the warden, (5) his being remembered, albeit after two years, by the wine steward for his translation of dreams resulting in his interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams and being appointed Viceroy, 2nd only in power to Pharaoh, (6) Asnat bat Dina, born out of wedlock (Dina and Shechem) and later banished from Yaakov’s house under death-threat from the brothers, and who landed in the House of Pontiphar and who was said to have witnessed Yosef’s actions on the day of Pontiphar’s wife’s false accusations, (7) that when the women all threw down their jewelry to entice Yosef, he was won over by Asnat, with her metal foil engraved by Yaakov testifying to her holiness. And finally, like the flask of oil found by the Macabees in the Beit HaMikdash which by natural means would maybe burn one day, but burned 8 days; the final miracle would seem to be the fortune amassed by Yosef as Viceroy which would later be found by the Jews during the plague (mako) of darkness and which would be carted out of Mitzrayim upon the Yetziyat Mitzrayim.

Jews keep having to re-learn and absorb the message of Chanukah and of the miracles done to Yosef.

Time and again throughout our history, the lessons are forgotten by Am Yisrael, including here and now in our times of successive weak-spined, indecisive, ineffectual, disunited, politicized and iron-fisted, corrupt ruling Israeli regimes as well as an ongoing judicial dictatorship both promoted by the swamp pundits as free and democratic while dividing and conquering the people they “govern” and “judge,” as were the Hellenists of the time of the Macabees. Symbolic of our current ineffectual governance and judicial dictatorship, the secular majority of the so-called “supreme court” (oxymoron), in a precedent-setting decision, ruled in favor of Tel Aviv merchants being able to do business on Shabbos, desecrating the Day and thus desecrating the name of Hashem and diminishing and discrediting our Divine Right to Eretz Yisrael both in Shemayim, as well as in the eyes and perceptions of the nations.

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

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

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

Good Shabbos, Chanukah Same’ach and Chodesh Tov !
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Chanukah 5778: Revolt of the Maccabees — A Two Front War and Parallels Today?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, December 9th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Chanukah vort is being sponsored by Avraham and Miriam Deutsch and family of Efrat lilui nishmas for the yarhtzeit of Avraham’s Mother Sarah Reitza bat Tzion bat Avram Yaakov and to wish Kol Am Yisrael Chanukah Same’ach! To the Deutsch family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

Friends, 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
******************************************************

Chanukah 5778: Revolt of the Maccabees — A Two Front War and Parallels Today?

by Moshe Burt

Shem Mishmuel (Sefer Shem Mishmuel, Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski, page 78) provides this description of the Greeks in the historical context of the miracles of Chanukah:

The Greeks were known for their outstanding wisdom; their philosophers and their ideas have been tremendously influential. Thus, when they oppressed Yisrael, they were even able to reach the wisdom of Torah and enslave it to their own ends.

An Aish.com piece written by Rabbi Ken Spiro relates the Revolt of the Maccabees in this way:

The year is 167 BCE and the horrible persecution of Judaism by the Greeks is in full swing. The Greek troops show up in the town of Modi’in (a site west of Jerusalem which you can visit today off the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway) and demand that the Jews there sacrifice a pig to the Greek gods.

The elder of the town, Mattisyahu (Mattathias), who is a kohen, that is of the priestly class, refuses.

“Even if all the nations that live under the rule of the king obey him, and have chosen to do his commandments, departing each one from the religion of his fathers, yet I and my sons and my brothers will live by the covenant of our fathers…We will not obey the king’s word by turning aside from our religion to the right hand or to the left.” (1-Maccabees 2:19-22)

But there is a Hellenized Jew in the town who is willing to do what is unspeakable in Jewish eyes. As he’s about to sacrifice the pig, Mattisyahu stabs him, also killing the Greek official present. He then turns to the crowd and announces: “Follow me, all of you who are for G’d’s Law and stand by the covenant.” (1-Maccabees 2:27)

Those who join Mattisyahu and his five sons – named Yohanan, Shimon, Judah, Eleazar, Yonaton – head for the hills, expecting that the Greeks are going to come back and wipe out the whole village as a reprisal.

In the hills, they organize a guerilla army, led primarily by the oldest of the sons named Judah, nicknamed Maccabee, which means “the Hammer.” Maccabee is also an acronym for mi komocho ba’alim Hashem, “who is like you among the powers O G’d,” – the battle cry of the Jewish people.

We don’t know exactly how large this Maccabee army was, but even the most optimistic estimates put the number at no more than 12,000 men. This tiny force takes on the fighting Greek army of up to 40,000 men.

It’s not just a numerical superiority the Greeks have. The Greeks are professional soldiers – they have equipment, they have training, and they have a herd of war elephants, which were the tanks of the ancient world. The Jews are vastly outnumbered, poorly trained, and poorly equipped (not to mention, they have no elephants), but what they lack in training and equipment they make up in spirit.

Most of the battles take place in the foothills leading from the coastal plain area (Tel Aviv) to Jerusalem. The Greeks are trying to march their armies up the natural canyons that lead into the mountain areas, the stronghold of the Jewish army. There’s only a few places where the Greeks can ascend and this is where the Maccabees choose to take them on.

Rabbi Spiro writes, near the top of his piece:

…It is not just a war against the Greeks, it is also a civil war – Jews, who were loyal to Judaism, fighting other Jews, who had become Hellenized and who were siding with the Greeks.

Ergo, the story above about the Hellenized Jew who obeyed the Greek king and was stabbed, along with a Greek official, by Mattisyahu as the Jew was about to sacrifice a pig, as well as the Jews’ expectations of reprisals, and formation of an army to fight the Greeks.

And so we see certain parallels in today’s Israel. The secular majority of the so-called “supreme court” (oxymoron), in a precedent-setting decision, ruled in favor of Tel Aviv merchants being able to do business on Shabbos, desecrating the day and thus desecrating the name of Hashem and diminishing and discrediting our Divine Right to Eretz Yisrael both in Shemayim, as well as in the eyes and perceptions of the nations. This, in addition to rulings such as; that against the soldier who defended his fellows by making sure a terrorist could do them no further harm, expelling Jews from Jewish-owned property in Hevron, disallowing annexation of all or parts of Yehuda and the Shomron and much more.

And we see a weak-spined, politicized, ineffectual, disunited, largely secular governmental leadership incapable, either by legislation or by other means, of bringing a judicial dictatorship to toe in accord with the spirit of why Hashem has restored our Biblical Homeland — Eretz Yisrael for us.

Unlike the two-front war Maccabees undertook, for Hashem’s Law and Covenant, against both the Greeks and the Hellenist within, we face but one foe — within, abeit a two-headed Hellenist foe: a governmental leadership swamp and a dictatorial court appointed not by head of state, but by a group of secular lawyers with no accountability to anyone.

About the current street demonstrations and blockings of traffic; perhaps these efforts opposing drafting Yeshiva students are misplaced. Aren’t we, across all sectors of Observant Jewry, better placed in focusing any street demonstrations and blockings of traffic against the spectre of “court”-imposed mass desecrations of Shabbos? Can we not reason: The Kedusha of Shabbos relates to a Real Torah Army?

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

Chanukah Same’ach!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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What was the Document President Trump Signed after Jerusalem Capital Recognition Speech?

Filed under: United States Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's Capital on Thursday, December 7th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


At the conclusion of President Trump’s speech expressing United States recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital and authorizing preparations for a move of the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the President sat down at a desk near the podium and signed a document which he then held up for all of the media to see. And so, this author wondered what exactly he was signing.

This document was not alluded to in his speech, nor was there any subsequent comment about it by electronic media coverage of the speech.

Today, howvever, we found the following:

1/ http://www.seattlepi.com/:

On Wednesday he focused on his directive to the State Department to begin a process of moving the embassy as required by U.S. law, however many years that might take. After his speech, he signed a proclamation to that effect.

2/ http://edition.cnn.com/ with the headline — Watch Trump Sign Historic Jerusalem Document:

….Senior administration officials have acknowledged it will take years for the US to build the new embassy in Jerusalem.

Trump ordered the State Department Wednesday “to begin preparations to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” noting his directive would allow the State Department to begin hiring architects and building contractors to build an embassy he said will be “a magnificent tribute to peace.”

3/ And finally, the caption shown in The Jerusalem Post, attributed to Reuters, beneath the above photo of President Trump signing the document:

US President Donald Trump displays an executive order after he announced the U.S. would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House in Washington, US December 6, 2017.. (photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS)

Parshat Vayeishev 5778: Internalizing The Lessons of Yosef and His Brothers’ Polarization

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, December 2nd, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Vayeishev is being sponsored by Zev and Sarit Schonberg and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated as a Zechus for the success of their children, Aryeh, Akiva, Adina, Rachel and Yehuda. To the Schonberg family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Vayeishev 5778: Internalizing The Lessons of Yosef and His Brothers’ Polarization

by Moshe Burt

Our parsha relates how Yosef, born to Rachel, was Yaakov’s favored son — his “Ben Z’kunim” (son of old age) to whom he bestowed a multi-colored coat which sources indicate could have been the coat of Eisev which was worn by Yaakov in receiving the B’rachot from Yitzchak. Yosef’s favored son status aroused jealousy amongst his brothers. Yosef’s tale-bearing about his brothers, as well as his dream-telling aroused anger and hatred of him in the brothers.

Torah expresses this jealousy, anger and hatred of the brothers for Yosef early in our Parsha:

“His brothers saw that it was he whom their father loved most of all his brothers so they hated him [Yosef]; and they were not able to speak to him peaceably.” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 37, posuk 4 as rendered to English in The Sapirstein Edition, “The Torah: with Rashi’s Commentary”)

They saw Yosef’s tale-telling — often without knowing all of the facts and his pronouncement of his dreams, as fostering their perception that he sought to rule over them, that he sought their subservience to him. His brothers also envied their Father’s preference for him. They viewed Yosef in the light of the family history — their great grandfather’s Avraham’s reluctance to separate from his other son Yishmael and their grandfather Yitzchak’s apparent favoritism for his son Eisev, that “master of kibud Av,” who nonetheless was wicked and not connected with Shemayim.

“The Midrash Says”, by Rabbi Moshe Weissman on Sefer Breish’t explains (page 350):

It seemed to them (the brothers) that Yosef by his conduct was attempting to win the position of Yaakov’s only successor. Hence they considered all thoughts and plans against him a mitzvah. They were unaware that they were actually distorting the truth as a result of their envy.

“Torah Gems”, by Aharon Yaakov Greenberg cites Tiferet Yehonatan (page 274-275) on Sefer Breish’t, Perek 37, posuk 4, above:

They hated him [Yosef]; and they were not able to speak to him peaceably.” …Had they sat down together, they would have spoken to one another and told… what bothered them. Then they would have ironed out their differences. The trouble… is that there is no common language and no one listening.

Yosef’s brothers, while acting inappropriately out of anger, jealousy and hatred, perceived Yosef as a threat to the future nation that was to grow from them as the offspring of Yaakov.

When Yaakov sent Yosef in search of his brothers and he found them in the fields of an area called Dothan, Torah then relates:

“They [the brothers] saw him from afar… and they conspired toward him to kill him.” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 37, posuk 18, as rendered to English in The Sapirstein Edition, “The Torah: with Rashi’s Commentary”)

In short, Yosef and the brothers stood on two polarizing sides, totally lacking in any sort of dialogue with each other.

How very much this description: “no common language and no one listening” between Yosef and his brothers resembles the evolution of the hate and polarization which exists and plays out among the political elites, the print and electronic media, as well as sectors of Israel’s populous, including sectors among the observant. We hear of accusations in various locales that certain neighborhoods seem designated exclusively for one or another sector to apparent exclusion or discouragement of others, or about one sub-sector’s deprecating attacks upon certain of their own, or other sub-sectors either
via media, or via verbal or violent physical acts because they seem to perceive “non-conformance” to that sector’s halachic “norms.”

We see all of the agendization, and lack of “common language” and dialogue, which play out daily both in the US and in Israel, which seems parallel to discord and polarization which existed between Yosef and his brothers. The evolutionary results of the discord between Yosef and his brothers which play out in the subsequent Parshiyot of Sefer Breish’t should provide lessons for us all here in Israel regarding the importance of civility and putting the welfare of Am Yisrael first and nullifying egos, narrow agendas, governmental bureaucratic “swamps” or inter-sectorial machloket (disagreements).

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

Good Shabbos!
———————————————————
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 Vayishlach 5778: Shechem’s “Desire for the Daughter of Yaakov” and Today’s Disproportionate Timidity regarding OUR LAND — Eretz Yisrael

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, November 25th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Vayishlach is being sponsored by Tzvi and Shari Gherman and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh in honor of Vayishlach being Tzvi’s Bar Mitzvah Parsha. To the Gherman family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Vayishlach 5778: Shechem’s “Desire for the Daughter of Yaakov” and Today’s Disproportionate Timidity regarding OUR LAND — Eretz Yisrael

by Moshe Burt

In compiling this year’s vort for Parshat Vayishlach, as the Arabs, the Islamic murderers that they are, continue their current heightened level in perpetrating often fatal stabbing, stoning, shooting attacks, and attempts at same, this author deems as appropriate a revisit of a theme of a previous vort on Vayishlach.

After Yaakov’s confrontation with Eisev, he brings his family to Shechem in Cana’an. Yaakov bought a field in Shechem and Torah relates a sequence of events (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 33, posuk 20 through Perek 34, posukim 1-4, 6-7):

“He [Yaakov] set up an altar there and he called it ‘G’d is the G’d of Israel.’”

“Now Dinah — the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Yaakov — went out to look over the daughters of the land. Shechem, son of Chamor the Hivvite, the prince of the land, saw her; he took her, and he lay with her, and violated her. He became deeply attached to Dinah, daughter of Yaakov; he loved the maiden and spoke to the maiden’s heart. So Shechem spoke to Chamor, his father saying, ‘Take me this girl for a wife.’”

“Chamor, Shechem’s father, went out to Yaakov to speak to him. Yaakov’s sons arrived from the field, when they heard; the men were distressed, and were fired deeply with indignation, for he had committed an outrage… by lying with a daughter of Yaakov — and such a thing is not done.”

Rashi notes on this last posuk (Perek 34, posuk 7 as rendered to English in The Sapirstein Edition, “The Torah: with Rashi’s Commentary”):

“And such a thing is not done” To violate virgins; for the nations of the world restricted themselves from sexual immorality because of the flood.(cited from Breish’t Rabbah 80:6, “And such a thing is not done” implies a widely accepted restriction… One of the sins for which Hashem destroyed the world at the time of the flood was sexual immorality.)

Sefer Shem Mishmuel (Shem Mishmuel, by Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, the Sochaczever Rebbe, as rendered to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski, Parsha Vayishlach, pages 57-60) describes Torah’s account of the capture and violation of Yaakov’s daughter Dinah by Shechem ben Chamor:

…Chamor… was the ruler of the area. After the rape [of Dinah by Shechem], Shechem and Chamor negotiated with Yaakov’s family for Shechem’s right to marry Dinah. The condition of acceptance was that Shechem and all of his male townsfolk had to circumcise themselves. Shechem was only too eager to carry out the operation “…because he desired the daughter of Yaakov, although he was the most honored of all of his father’s household.”

Shem Mishmuel goes on to note that Dinah’s name is not mentioned here, but is referred to as “the daughter of Yaakov,” indicating that Shechem wanted Dinah, not simply for his physical desires, but because she was Yaakov’s daughter!

Shem Mishmuel goes on to comment:

Shechem wanted to be associated with Yaakov and his family, to be part of Yaakov’s… world. Indeed, Shechem actually means “segment” or “portion”…

We could say that Shechem wanted a portion in Yaakov’s life; he wanted not just Dinah, but also to share… [Yaakov's] greatness. Indeed, this is the opposite of the generally correct position to be taken by a potential convert. The Gemara informs us that the convert should feel that he is privileged to join the Jewish people, even though he is unworthy. (Yevamos 47a) Instead, Shechem felt that he deserved a place within Yaakov’s family.

…Every word in Hebrew is not just a label but describes the essence of it’s subject, the word Shechem meaning “segment” or “portion,” describes the person Shechem and also the place…. Each person in Shechem wanted his own portion in life — to be significant and not just a part of a larger entity. Shechem was a place which influenced its dwellers and those who came through it to feel that they themselves were important and worthy.

This trait is one of tremendous power; it can be the greatest or the worst of all attributes. On the good side, the individual is exhorted by Chazal to consider that the whole world was created just for him, and that by performing one mitzvah one can favorably tip the balance toward oneself and bring merit to the whole world.

The converse, however, can be very destructive. A person who misuses this characteristic becomes totally self-oriented…. and becomes an arrogant person. He is so self-assured that he is simply unable to listen to criticism. He becomes like Eisev — completely beyond any rebuke or correction.

Despite the potentially destructive nature of the Shechemite character trait, every person needs a little of it to succeed. It is actually the source of the drive to achieve anything in the face of adversity. It engenders the feeling that one has important things to achieve, and that one will stand up for those aims and execute them, come what may. Too much self-effacement at the start of a project will doom it to failure. One needs to feel strong and independent to commence any activity. This Shechemite middah is a prerequisite for any person beginning any project of significance. However, … the feeling of personal empowerment and independence must be controlled to avoid going to the opposite extreme…. If this Shechemite trait is overemphasized it may overpower the entire project, ruining its chances of success and destroying its instigators.

Shem Mishmuel now applies the trait of Shechem to the B’nai Yisrael entering Eretz Yisrael — first stop: Shechem:

…Although Hashem would be with them at every step, it was an extremely daunting, and probably terrifying prospect to take a new and unfamiliar land. They needed a tremendous boost of strength and confidence to launch their task with the correct mind-set. This was the power of Shechem. As they began the conquest of Eretz Yisrael, …Shechem… gave them the boost of confidence they surely needed at this historical moment.

But, there are dangers inherent in this step. How were Klal Yisrael to avoid falling into the trap of arrogance and unreasonable self-confidence? …Avraham and Yaakov both first visited Shechem when they entered Eretz Yisrael…. Both Avraham and Yaakov realized the importance of the Shechem character trait, they knew that it was essential to temper it with a feeling of personal insignificance. This ensured that they could use the Shechem element when necessary but still retain a proper perspective on life and on their own
worth. We can feel sure that they passed on this ability to their descendants, the Klal as a whole, who were able to derive inspiration from Shechem as they entered the land without losing the balance between self- confidence and arrogance.

Perhaps, in our time, we suffer — our governance. politicians, and perhaps many of our populace as well — from a lack of balance of the Shechem character trait — not the extreme of arrogance, but a disproportionate degree of self-effacement, timidity regarding OUR LAND — Eretz Yisrael. And so, instead of confidently, and with Emunah, asserting our Divine legacy and possession of OUR LAND, our governance and political leaders seem long ago to have lost sight of why we are here and act in ways which de-legitimize us in the view of the nations at every turn.

Perhaps we, the Klal Israel have become arrogant to our fellows, each sector disdainfully, deceitfully and disrespectfully alienating every other sector with their words or actions. And perhaps, a large part of the problem is a collective sense of self-concern and self-interest resulting in a malaise of lack of Jewish national self-respect, self-esteem and consensus — unity of national mission.

Shimon and Levi, with their circumcision rouse designed so that they could destroy the Shechmites at the height of their pain and thus unable to defend themselves, seemingly acted out of indignance that another nation would dare commit such an abomination — sexual immorality, one of the grave sins for which Hashem brought the Mabul (the Great Flood) — upon Yisrael, both upon an individual — Shechem’s violation of Dinah, and to plot the dilution and deprecation of Yisrael.

The Gaza War of three years ago, which has evolved post-”ceasefire” into the current stabbing, stoning and shooting war against the Jewish people in Israel’s heartland: throughout Yerushalayim — on Har Habayit and the Old City, in Yehudah and the Shomron, at Kever Rachel, at Kever Yosef and elsewhere throughout Eretz Yisrael, brings this author to reason that a healthy dose of the same indignation and raised backbone which possessed Shimon and Levi, out of Shechem’s abominable violation of Dinah as well as the citing from Chazal above: “that whole world was created just for him” — for the Jewish people, should rise to the fore amongst our government and amongst Am Yisrael in our days in dealing with the outrageous, murderous violations of Israel by enemies seeking our destruction and eradication. Something to consider, internalize and act upon??

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

Good Shabbos!
———————————————————
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 Vayeitzei 5778: Yaakov, Ma’ariv and Hashem’s Promise to B’nei Yisrael

Filed under: News Reports on Sunday, November 19th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat Vayeitzei is being sponsored by Benjamin and Gina Fishman and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh to express hakaras hatov to HKBH for the many simchas the family has experienced this year.. To the Fishman family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

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Parshat Vayeitzei 5778: Yaakov, Ma’ariv and Hashem’s Promise to B’nei Yisrael

by Moshe Burt

Torah relates the opening posukim of Parshat Vayeitzei:

“And Yaakov departed from Beer-sheva and went to Haran. He encountered [Vayifgah] the place and spent the night there because the sun set; he took from the stones of the place and he put [them] around his head, and lay down in that place.” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 28, posukim 10-11 as rendered to English with commentary in The Sapirstein Edition, “The Torah: with Rashi’s Commentary”)

A Rashi commentary (ibid, The Sapirstein Edition, “The Torah: with Rashi’s Commentary”) notes:

Our Rabbis explained the word “Vayifgah” as an expression of “prayer”, … and it has taught us that [Yaakov] instituted the evening prayer. The verse deviated from standard wording, and did not write “and he prayed,” to teach… that the earth contracted for him…

Footnotes on this Rashi (ibid, The Sapirstein Edition, “The Torah: with Rashi’s Commentary”) regarding “the evening prayer” tell:

The verse ["Vayifgah"] must allude to the evening prayer, for it speaks of what Yaakov did after sunset. (Berachot 26b, Breish’t Rabbah 68.9)

The earth contracted and thereby made his journey shorter…. is based on Rashi to Chullin 91b [the seventh chapter of Chullin is called "Gid HaNasheh"] — the Gemara says that Yaakov had passed by Har [Mount] HaMoriah and had not stopped there to pray. As he decided to return there, the earth miraculously contracted, and suddenly found himself at Har HaMoriah…. This is implied by the fact that “F’gah” connotes the encounter of two parties moving toward each other. Thus, according to this interpretation, “Vayifgah” connotes both “prayer” and “encounter.”

We have learned that the Avos [the Patriarchs] initiated the three Shemonah Essrei’s — Avraham: the morning prayer – Shacharit, Yitzchak: the afternoon prayer – Mincha, and Yaakov: the evening prayer – Maariv.

Two posukim later, Torah teaches:

“And behold! Hashem… said, ‘I am Hashem, G’d of Avraham your father and G’d of Yitzchak; the ground upon which you are lying, to you I will give it and to your descendants.’” (ibid, Sefer Breish’t, Perek 28, posuk 13,The Sapirstein Edition, “The Torah: with Rashi’s Commentary”)

Rashi comments on Sefer Breish’t, Perek 28, posuk 13 (ibid, The Sapirstein Edition, “The Torah: with Rashi’s Commentary”)

“Upon which you are lying.” The Holy One, Blessed is He [HaKadosh Borchu], folded up the entire Land of Israel beneath him. He thereby alluded to [Yaakov] that it would be easy to be conquered by his children — like four [daled] amos — which is a person’s place.

Yet again, as with Rashi on the opening posukim of Parshat Breish’t, with Avraham in Parshat Lech Lecha (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 12, posuk 7), we learn that the Jews have been given Eretz Yisrael and connect with, dwell and possess it by Divine Right.

Sefer Breish’t, Perek 28, posuk 15 (as rendered to English in the Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash), a posuk for the generations, reads:

“Behold, I am with you; and I will guard you wherever you go, and I will return you to this soil; for I will not forsake you until I will have done what I have spoken about you.”

Rashi’s commentary on posuk 15 (as rendered to English in the Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash) notes:

“What I have spoken about you.” — “Do not fear Eisev or Lavan, because I am with you and will not leave you until I have completed what I promised regarding you. I promised Avraham to give this land to his offspring (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 12, posuk 7), but it is only through you — not through Eisev — that this promise will be fulfilled.”

And so, our leaders of today need to internalize, to take to heart Hashem’s words to Yaakov regarding B’nei Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael:

“Behold, I am with you; and I will guard you wherever you go, and I will return you to this soil…”

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

Chodesh Tov and Good Shabbos!
———————————————————
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Toldos 5778: Rivka’ Nurture and Its Impact on Her Righteousness, and the Tefillot of Yitzchak and Rivka for Offspring

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Tuesday, November 7th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Toldos is being sponsored by Edo and Atara Lavi and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for a complete Refuah Shleima for both Yishaya Shalom ben Malka Gittel (Blass) and Shlomo Chaim ben Chaya (Scholnick). To the Lavi family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Toldos 5778: Rivka’ Nurture and Its Impact on Her Righteousness, and the Tefillot of Yitzchak and Rivka for Offspring

by Moshe Burt

Our Parshat Toldos opens as a continuation of Torah’s description, near the end of Parshat Chayei Sarah, of the last years of Avraham’s life, his marriage to Keturah, the offspring she bore him, and the offspring and descendants of Yishma’el and where they dwelt. Our Parshat Toldot opens:

“And these are the offspring of Yitzchak son of Avraham. Yitzchak was forty years old when he took Rivka, the daughter of Betu’el the Aramean of Padan Aram, the sister of Lavan, the Aramean, to be his wife.” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 25, posukim 19-20).

We gain insight as to how the atmosphere of wickedness surrounding Rivka’s upbringing later served her well — that she knew how and when to be kind, and when cunning was called for, thus insuring that the righteous child — Yaakov, who learned and was nurtured with the attributes of his Mother, would receive the Brachot that Am Yisrael would descend from him and that the nations would serve his descendants.

There are multiple lessons and discussions to come out of both Torah’s description of Rifka Imeinu in Parshat Chayei Sarah, and in our Parshat Toldos. We gain insight as to how the childhood nurturing of Rivka Imeinu, in an atmosphere of wickedness, positioned and enabled her to rise above her surroundings, and thus to act l’Shem Shemayim to do chessed to Eliezer.

Near the end of Parshat Chayei Sarah, after Torah relates how Avraham’s servant traveled to Padan Aram in search of Yitzchak’s shidduch. Torah recounts Yitzchak’s first encounter with Rivka (as rendered in the “New Hirsch Chumash”, Sefer Breish’t, Perek 24, posukim 63-67):

“Yitzchak went out toward evening to mediate in the field. He looked up and saw camels approaching. Rivka, too, looked up and saw Yitzchak and she let herself slip from the camel..”

“She asked the servant: Who is that man there, who is walking through the field to meet us? The servant replied, He is my master! So she took the veil and covered herself.”

“The servant told Yitzchak all the things that he had accomplished..”

“Yitzchak brought her into the tent of Sarah, his Mother. He married Rivka, she became his wife, and he loved her, and only then was Yitzchak comforted for his Mother.”

Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z”l, in the “New Hirsch Chumash” (page 542), cites Breish’t Rabbah 60:16 and comments:

With Sarah’s death, the feminine spirit and feeling departed from the home. Yitzchak then found his Mother again in his wife (hence, “When he brought Rivka into the tent, to him it was as if his Mother were there again.”) (Breish’t Rabbah 60:16)

This is the highest tribute that has ever been paid to the dignity and nobility of woman — and it is in the ancient history of Judaism.

But this author therefore finds it both fascinating and a wonderment that despite Rivka’s righteousness, we learn in the very next posuk of Parshat Toldos:

“Yitzchak entreated Hashem opposite his wife, because she was barren. Hashem allowed Himself to be entreated by him, and his wife Rivka conceived.” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 25, posuk 21 as rendered in the Artscroll Stone Chumash)

Rabbi Artscroll cites two Rashis and a Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer in commenting on this posuk (Artscroll Stone Chumash,page 125):

Yitzchak entreated. The root Ah-teir [entreated] denotes abundance; thus, the sense… is that Yitzchak prayed abundantly for Rivka and she simultaneously prayed on her own behalf. He was opposite her in the sense that he stood in one corner and she stood in the other one as they both prayed. (Rashi)

Also, Yitzchak took his barren wife to pray with her on Mount [Har] Moriah, site of the Akeidah. (Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer 32)

“By him.” The implication of the masculine singular form is that Hashem responded to Yitzchak’s prayer, rather than to Rivka’s. There is no comparison between the prayer of a righteous child of a righteous person and that of a righteous child of an evil person. (Rashi)

Although it is much more difficult — and therefore meritorious — for the product of an evil family to become righteous, Yitzchak’s achievement was even more unique than Rivka’s. It would have been easy for him to become a carbon copy of his father… but Yitzchak did not content himself with that. He forged his own path toward the service of Hashem, and the merit of such an accomplishment is awesome.

This author reasons that it could have been that Yitzchak’s tefillah took precedence with Hashem over Rivka’s as Yitzchak was praying for Rivka whereas Rivka prayed on her own behalf. If so, this may come to teach or to reinforce the lesson of the power of one’s tefillot on behalf of another.

Rabbi Moshe Weissman provides some insight into Yitzchak’s and Rivka’s efforts in his sefer “The Midrash Says” (Sefer Breish’t, page 235), although not necessarily in agreement with the two Rashis or the above comment:

“When I was traveling around, someone addressed the following question to me, ‘Rabbi, why is it that so many Jewish couples are childless?’ ‘My son,’ I answered him, ‘Hashem loves them dearly and purifies them so that they should intensify their tefillot. He therefore lets them wait for children.’”

Rabbi Weissman then cites Avraham and Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Chana and their respective travails before bearing children.

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

Chodesh Tov and Good Shabbos!
———————————————————
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Chayei Sarah 5778: Was Sarah Imeinu Niferet on the Day of Her Birth?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, November 4th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Chayei Sarah is being sponsored by David and Malka Blass and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for Refuah Shlaima for the Cholim of the community. To the Blass family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

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Parshat Chayei Sarah 5778: Was Sarah Imeinu Niferet on the Day of Her Birth?

by Moshe Burt

Yet again, as in previous vorts on Parshat Sarah, this author discusses our Parsha’s opening posuk regarding Sarah Imeinu’s age upon her passing [Nifteret]:

“Sarah’s lifetime was one hundred years, twenty years, and seven years: the years of Sarah’s life.” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 23, posuk 1)

One of the off-shoots for this author, resulting from learning Gemara Tractate Rosh Hashana, is added focus and attention given to years of life and in what year of life one is in the midst of, i.e. this author’s Dad was “ninety-eight years” at the time of his passing — 9 Adar, 5777, yet one can say that he was in his ninety-ninth year as his birthdate was 16 Tammuz, 5678.

Referring back to the vort on Parshat No’ach where this author cited (as rendered to English in the Sapirstein Edition, “The Torah: With Rashi’s Commentary”), Sefer Breish’t, Perek 8, posuk 13 portrays the Earth having dried after the Mabul (the Great Flood):

“And it came to pass in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, on the first of the month, the waters had dried from upon the earth; …”

Tractate Rosh Hashana, Daf Yud [ten], Amud Bet [second side of the Daf) (as rendered to English in the Schottenstein Edition Talmud Bavli: The Gemara] renders Sefer Breish’t, Perek 8, posuk 13:

“And it was at one and six hundred years, in the first [month], on the first of the month, the waters had dried from upon the earth…”

Relating these two previous citings back to Sarah Imeinu’s age upon her death, the sefer “The Jewish Time Line Encyclopedia, by Mattis Kantor relates that Sarah was born in the year 1958 from creation and passed in the year 2084, equaling one hundred and twenty-six years. But, the sefer goes on to say (page 17):

Yitzchak was 36, or 37 depending on the day in Nissan that the Akeida took place….

Sarah heard that Avraham hand taken Yitzchak to offer him as a sacrifice [korban], and she traveled to search for them. When she reached Hevron, she was informed that he had not been sacrificed. The good news was too overwhelming for her, and she died. (citing Breish’t, Perek 23, posukim 1-2, Rashi/Mid.Rab.Br.58.5, Vay. 20.2/Sed. Had.)

This latter account of Sarah’s passing was similar to one this author heard from a tour guide during his first trip to Israel some forty-three years ago.

Yishai Chasidah, in his sefer “Encyclopedia of Biblical Personalities” offers a different read on Sarah’s passing (page 525 citing Targum Yonatan on Breish’t perek 22, posuk 20):

After Avraham bound his son Isaac [on the altar], the Satan came and told Sarah that Avraham had slaughtered his son Isaac. She cried out in grief and died.

Although this vort has seemingly strayed from the main question of the title: Was Sarah Imeinu Niferet on the Day of Her Birth?, this author did so to pick up some salient pieces of information, i.e. The Akeida took place in Nissan, as apparently Sarah’s passing did. Kantor’s dating of Yitzchak’s age is subject to what the exact dating was. Therefore, we could wonder whether or not Sarah passed on the exact date of the Akeida.

Nowhere in Torah, or in any sefer seen by this author, does the accounting of Sarah’s years indicate exact day or exact month of the year in which she passed, as is stated in the account in No’ach — the exact month and day on which “the waters had dried from upon the earth.”

But we learn that both the Akeida and, apparently, Sarah’s passing occurred in the month of Nissan. The question to ponder, and point of the above title: did Sarah, a Tzaddeket, one of our Imot (one of our Matriarchs) pass on her one-hundredth and twenty-seventh birthday — a full one-hundred and twenty-seven years? Or did she pass sometime in her one-hundredth and twenty-seventh year, or even after her one-hundredth and twenty-seventh birthday?

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

Good Shabbos!
———————————————————
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 Vayeira 5778: Hashem’s Bikkur Cholim, Avraham’s Hochnasat Orchim — Genetically Hard-Wired in Our Times

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, October 28th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Vayeira is being sponsored by Yossie and Ester Sussman and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated in honor of Yossie’s grandparents: R’ Kalman ben R’ Yitzchok Eliyahu and Chaya Sara bas Yaakov Shlomo and R’ Chizkiyahu Yaakov ben R’ Binyomin and Miriam bas Yaakov. To the Sussman family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat Vayeira 5778: Hashem’s Bikkur Cholim, Avraham’s Hochnasat Orchim — Genetically Hard-Wired in Our Times

by Moshe Burt

In opening this vort on our Pashat Vayeira, this author returns to an excerpt from last week’s vort on Parshat Lech Lecha where Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his Sefer “Growth Through Torah” (pages 36-37), cites Sefer Mimayanos Hanetzach regarding the importance of Chessed:

“Our forefather Avraham was outstanding in his kindness to wayfarers. He took in people who were traveling and expended great efforts to make his guests comfortable….”

While Parshat Lech Lecha dealt with Hashem’s call to Avraham to travel from the land of his birth to Hashem’s chosen land, Eretz Yisrael, as well as the Brit Bein HaBesorim (Covenant Between the Halves) and Hashem’s Command to Avraham to do Brit Milah (circumcision) on himself [and every male member of his household], our Parshat opens with Hashem, as we understand, visiting Avraham Avinu on the 3rd day after Brit Milah, when Avraham was at the height of his pain following the circumcision:

“And Hashem appeared to him beneath the trees of Mamre, as he was sitting before the door of his tent in the heat of the day.” (Translation rendered by “The New Hirsch Chumash,” Sefer Breish’t, Perek 18, posuk 1)

Rashi indicates, “to inquire about his welfare.” (Metsuda Linear Chumash rendering of Rashi on Perek 18, posuk 1)

It’s not like Hashem needed to pay a visit to ascertain Avraham’s actual condition. Hashem is the Creator, The Master, The Ruler over the world who knows and is aware of everything.

But Hashem knew that Avraham had built his life around knowing, and following the ways of his Creator and thus, it seems to this author, Hashem’s visit was to convey to Avraham His Love and Care. And so, as Hashem visited with Avraham, inquiring as to his well-being, Avraham pardoned himself from Hashem when he spotted travelers, inviting them into his tent.

Many of our S’forim and Chumashim seem to downplay the impact of the Bikur Cholim aspect of Hashem (as we understand), visiting Avraham Avinu, for the seemingly larger contexts of showing him honor for having done Bris Milah to himself, for his Hochnasat Orchim (his kindness and hospitality) toward his three guests (the Molochim — Angels) and the respective missions of the Molochim:

…Michael, who informed Avraham that Sarah would have a son; Gavriel, who overturned Sodom; and Raphael, who healed Avraham and saved Lot (Rashi, as explained by Gur Aryeh). The last two tasks, healing Avraham and saving Lot, constituted a single mission because they were for the sake of rescue. (Artscroll Chumash commentary of Perek 18, posuk 2 regarding Avraham’s sighting of “three men… standing over him.”)

While we previously learn of Avraham’s attributes of outreach and Hochnasat Orchim in Parshat Lech Lecha, his emphasis on the mitzvah of Hochnasat Orchim shows in even clearer focus in our Parshat Vayeira.

Yehudah Nachshoni, in his sefer “Studies in the Weekly Parashah,” cites Rabbeinu Bachya, Rabbeinu Chananel, as well as R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch z”l and the Malbim (page 78-79):

Rabbeinu Bachya: …that the Torah says, “And Hashem appeared to him” and does not say “And Hashem appeared to Avraham”…. indicates that our Parshat is a continuation of the previous one [Parshat Lech Lecha], where we read that Avraham… [and every male member of his household] circumcised themselves.

Thus this Parshat tells us that as a result of the brit milah, Hashem came to visit him.

Rabbeinu Chananel also holds that this appearance by Hashem was related to the brit milah, but according to him it was not only Bikkur Cholim but was also a reward for observing the mitzvah.

R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch z”l goes into this idea in depth. There is, of course, no place where Hashem is not, but when a person offers himself completely to Hashem, as Avraham did, he is worthy of actually seeing the Shechinah [Hashem's Presence].

According to the Malbim, Torah even explains the nature of this appearance, which came because of Avraham’s mitzvah. This occurred in Eilonei Mamre, far from the place that Avraham had made an altar to Hashem. It occurred “at the entrance to the tent,” among people. Avraham did not isolate himself from others before Hashem appeared to him, as is customary among prophets. This appearance by Hashem took place “in the heat of the day,” when Avraham was not completely at ease. Torah tells us how Avraham’s soul was so elevated after his brit milah that he merited the revelation of the Shechinah, in spite of all those factors which would normally prevent such an appearance.

But the Artscroll Kleinman Edition of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Siman 193 provides a lengthy exposition on the mitzvot of Bikur Cholim. The Siman opens with a fuller explanation of the opening posuk (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 18, posuk 1) of Vayeira (Siman 193.1, page 350):

…We find that the Holy One,Blessed is He, that He visits the sick as the sages of blessed memory expounded (Sotah 14a) upon the… verse: “Hashem appeared to [Avraham] in the fields of Mamre…”; this teaches that Hashem came to him in order to visit the sick.

There is a note on the above explanation which states:

…We are enjoined to emulate Hashem and therefore we are obligated to visit the sick as well. (Siman 193.1, page 350).Siman 193.3 (Artscroll Kleinman Edition of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, page 352) provides essential components for visiting the sick:

…Examine the needs of the ill person and to see what he needs to be done for him; to enable the ill person to find comfort in the company of his friends; and also for the visitor to think about the ill person and pray for Divine mercy for him.

Our Parshat’s next posukim (Translation rendered in the Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer Breish’t, Perek 18, posukim 2-5) detail Avraham’s encounter with his guests, the Molochim, as he sat at his tent’s entrance, in the heat of the day, while in the worst of pain from his Bris Milah:

“He lifted his eyes and saw: And behold! three men were standing over him. He perceived, so he ran toward them and bowed toward the ground. And he said, ‘My Lord [singular, indicating: to Hashem], if I find favor in your eyes, please pass not away from Your servant.’” “Let some water be brought and wash your feet, and recline beneath the tree. I will fetch a morsel of bread that you sustain yourselves…” They said, “Do so, just as you have said.”

However, The Sapirstein Edition, “The Torah: with Rashi’s Commentary” renders posuk 3:

“‘My Lords [plural, seeming to indicate: the three men/melachim], if I find favor in your eyes, please pass not away from Your servant.’”

The Artscroll Stone Chumash, and an alternative Rashi in the Sapirstein Edition, “The Torah: with Rashi’s Commentary on posuk 3 seems to indicate Avraham asking Hashem that His Presence wait for him while he (Avraham) serves his guests.

The Artscroll Stone Chumash adds these comments on Sefer Breish’t, Perek 18, posukim 2-5 (page 79):

Avraham’s action [in leaving Hashem to care for his guests] shows that “hospitality to wayfarers is greater than receiving the Divine Presence.” (Shevuos 35b; Shabbos 127a)

“A morsel of bread.” From this understated, modest description of the sumptuous meal he was about to serve, the Talmud derives that “the righteous say little and do much.” (Bava Metzia 87a)

From these events contained in the first five posukim of our Parshat, we learn and gain insight both from Hashem as to the Mitzvah of Bikur Cholim; showing, caring, giving strength and encouragement to the ill by visiting and caring about them, and from Avraham Avinu as to the Mitzvah of Hachnasat Orchim; inviting guests into one’s home, as well as tefillah: as vehicles for emulating, connecting with and coming close to Hashem.

As a recipient of Bikur Cholim, this author can testify to this mitzvah’s profound affects on both the healing process and on the mental mindset of the recipient of this kindness. And this author, as a single and a senior, has experienced Hochnasat Orchim, on Shabbos and Yom Tov as well as other times in between, at the highest levels from chaverim (friends) in Ramat Beit Shemesh.

As stated in previous vorts, this author makes no claims to be a Talmud Chacham or a great Torah scholar of any note, but just a stam, poshut observant Jew, perhaps not deserving of any special treatment such as the likes of the honor shown by Hashem in visiting Avraham to lift his spirits in his time of great pain.

But the kindnesses shown, in emulation of Hashem’s Bikur Cholim model, Avraham Avinu’s paradigm of Hochnasat Orchim; whether during a Shiva (mourning period after loss of a close loved one) whether sitting in this community or from a distance such as in Florida, or the multitudes of calls and visits by their Ramat Beit Shemesh chaverim during hospitalizations or before and after surgeries and upon returning home, i.e. the preparation of meals and other kindnesses, which immeasureably aid the healing process and testified, that the Avul, the Choleh, that the lone individual, etc. is not alone. These kindnesses shown repeatedly, myriads of times towards their fellows in need, are surely emulations of both Hashem and of Avraham Avinu.

The Ramat Beit Shemesh community is a paradigm manifestation,genetically hard-wired, of both Hashem’s Bikur Cholim model, as well as Avraham Avinu’s paradigm of warmth and Hochnasat Orchim, and thus, is a model for emulation by Jews and kehillot everywhere toward their fellow Jews.

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

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Lech Lecha 5778: On Avraham Avinu’s Aliyah, His Hachnosat Orchim and Insights Into Chessed

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, October 21st, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat HaShevua, Lech Lecha is sponsored by Yirmi and Rochelle Gold and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh who dedicated this vort for a Refuah Shlaima to Shlomo Chaim ben Chaya (Scholnick) and for a Mazel Tov to Menachem Scholnick on his Bar Mitzvah. To the Gold family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat Lech Lecha 5778: On Avraham Avinu’s Aliyah, His Hachnosat Orchim and Insights Into Chessed

by Moshe Burt

Each year, for a number of years now, this author has said over a line on the first night of Succot, as Avraham Avinu is the first day’s Ushpizin (the one for whom the day in the Succah is dedicated). This brief line is a parody on a line from the classic weekly Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In comedy hour of the late sixties and early seventies:

And now, the man without whom the Jews wouldn’t be the Jews without the Jew, Avraham Avinu!

We learn that Avraham Avinu derived, on his own, the existence of The Supreme Creator and King. We may surmise that he heard a cerebral Divine message.

The opening posuk of our Parshat reads:

“Hashem said to Avram, ‘Go for yourself from your land, from your birthplace, and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” (As rendered to English in “The Sapirstein Edition, The Torah: with Rashi’s Commentary” on Sefer Breish’t, Perek 12, posuk 1)

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his Sefer “Growth Through Torah” (pages 36-37), cites Sefer Mimayanos Hanetzach on the above posuk regarding the importance of Chessed:

Rabbi Nachum of Tzer-noble devoted much time and effort to redeeming Jews who were imprisoned by anti-semitic regimes. He traveled from place to place gathering funds to make the necessary payments to free those imprisoned. Once when he was in Zhitomer, some people fabricated a libel against him and he was put into prison.

A righteous person came to him in prison and said to him, “Our forefather Avraham was outstanding in his kindness to wayfarers. He took in people who were traveling and expended great efforts to make his guests comfortable…. The Almighty told him to travel away from his father’s home, his birthplace, and his land. Only now when he personally experiences being a stranger in a foreign place will he know first hand what it is like. This will give him a greater appreciation of what he can do to help his guests.”

“Similarly with you,” the righteous visitor told him. “You are completely devoted to freeing prisoners. From Heaven they are giving you the chance to experience what it is like to be held captive by enemies of our people. This will give you a deep appreciation of the necessity of doing all that you can to free other people in the future with all possible speed.”

R’ Pliskin brings this analogy to emphasize how one’s own often difficult circumstances can bring about a special degree of sensitivity toward difficult circumstances of others.

This author cites the above story and analogy to emphasize his exposure to the great degree of Hachnasot Orchim and other aspects of chessed existing among Torah Jewry, both here in Israel and among those back in Philadelphia, in the “Old Country.” The instances and stories are far too numerous to cite in this or any vort.

But just a few: the expertly orchestrated Pesach Seders, the legendary Hachnosat Orchim family in Jerusalem where anyone and everyone is perpetually invited for Shabbos meals and where one hundred people in that small flat is called a “slow Shabbos”; the family who opened their home to this author to sit Shiva for a parent because his apartment was too small and inconvenient for minyanim; the neighbor who helped this author, in a few instances, to get to a medical emergency room; the sofer who repaired a few old Sifrei Torah gratus out of sensitivity for a great need for Mekomot Torah in Eretz Yisrael. The list could go on and on… without end. And the gene exists in us because it all started with:

The man without whom the Jews wouldn’t be the Jews without the Jew, Avraham Avinu!

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

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