Parshat Emor 5775: The Kohanim: Paradigm of Spiritual Unity, Constancy of Service, Chessed, Truth Purity — for Am Yisrael, and All Mankind

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, April 25th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off



Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Emor is being co-sponsored by R’ Mordechai & Gila Bernstein who wish a full, complete refuah shleima for Chaim Yechiel ben Malka (Rothman), and Aron and Vered Cohen of Ramat Beit Shemesh. The Cohens dedicate their co-sponsorship Lilui Nishmas Shmuel Avraham ben David, Guy Shalem ben Yehudah and Yitzchak ben Eza. To the Bernstein and Cohen families, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Emor 5775: The Kohanim: Paradigm of Spiritual Unity, Constancy of Service, Chessed, Truth Purity — for Am Yisrael, and All Mankind

by Moshe Burt

The positioning in Torah of our Parsha Emor, following last week’s Parsha Kedoshim gives rise to thought and contemplation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In keeping with this track of thought, this author recently lost a parent — my Mother on 11 April, 2015, 22 Nissan 5775, one month short of 92 years. To boil down to a few words, the attributes of my Mother, a bat Kohen, those words would match the attributes of Aaron HaKohen: constancy of service, kindness, humility, efficiency, total trustworthiness and the ability to elicit the implicit trust of others.

She was my Father’s help-mate, and they both made one neshama — the proverbial melding of two people bonding as one soul, faithfully, constantly for all of the seventy-plus years of their marriage. Aside from hospitalizations for injuries, childbirths and surgical procedures over the years,and the couple of trips she made with me, without my Dad, to Montreal to visit her parents, siblings, cousins, I cannot recall a day, ever, in their marriage when my parents were apart.

In addition to being the pillar of keeping house, and seeing to a son’s educational needs, both secular and Jewish, my Mother worked outside of the house as a secretary/bookkeeper, respectively for two companies in the plumbing supply field. She was active in a local Hadassah chapter in Philadelphia, attaining it’s presidency which she held for a couple of years.

My Mother was inward, family-oriented beyond just my Father and I, and two sets of my grandparents and siblings from both families. She was loved by all.

With the knowledge imparted by Shem Mishmuel, and a paradigm of an Aishet Chayil bat Kohen, we gain deeper insight as to why it is the Kohen, rather than a Talmud Chacham, who rules as to tumah or tohar in cases of tzara’as as we previously learned in Parshas Tazria/Metzora.

Shem Mishmuel extends the Kohen’s attribute of being a unifier or a “joiner” even to the subject of prohibited Kohanic marriages and quotes Rabbi Akiva;

“A man and a woman, if they so merit, the divine presence rests between them: if they do not merit, fire consumes them.” (Sotah 17a)

“The Divine presence rested between them” — That was my parents!

Further, Shem Mishmuel relates that Chazal tell us that when a couple divorces, the power of divine unity is removed from them leaving both of them with a sense of division and disunity:

“Thus a divorced woman is no longer in a spiritual position to marry a Kohen whose very being demands contact with only unifying forces. For a divorcee to have a relationship with a Kohen would frustrate the Kohen’s personal mission.”

The divorcee has lost the innate ability to be solely unified with one person and thus may not marry a Kohen.

And so, the function of the Kohen in relationship to his fellow Jews is meant to be the paradigm of how the Jews are meant to relate to the nations as a light unto the world. The point is that the Kohanim are meant to be a paradigm, to set an example for all of B’nai Yisrael regarding derech, midos, chessed to one’s brothers — one’s fellow Jews, and of Avodat Hashem.

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

One manifestation of this higher level is reflected in the halacha that when there is a Beit Hamikdash, a serving Kohen, were he to seek divorce from his wife, would have to go through a process: Get Mikushar (a higher level of Jewish divorce document than is now in use). The Get Mikushar process, with its various other halacic requirements, is meant as an impediment to divorce designed to negate frivolous, momentary anger-induced divorce proceedings by a Kohen and meant bring about thoughtful contemplation as to whether or not to divorce.

The Get Mikushar is written in a special way, is folded three ways, is bounded and must have signatures of three witnesses, rather than the two witnesses signatures needed on the Get document used by a Beit Din for Gittin (plural for Get) today. (Mishnayot Baba Basra — Artscroll Mishna Series, Perek 10, Mishnayot 1 and 2, pages 281-290)

Other manifestations of this higher level relate exclusively to the Kohen Godol. Sefer Vayikra, Perek 16, posuk 6 states regarding the Kohen Godol’s service in the Kodosh Kadoshim on Yom Kippur:

“And he shall make atonement for himself and his house…”

Mishnayot Yoma — Artscroll Mishna Series, Perek 1, Mishna 1, pages 5-7 state:

‘His house’ — that is his wife.

This means that a stand-by wife is designated for the Kohen Godol in event that his current wife dies, that he satisfy halacha that he be married such as to enable him to atone for his household and be able to serve in the Kodosh Kadoshim on Yom Kippur on behalf of B’nei Yisrael.

The above Mishna also states:

“Seven days before Yom Kippur, the Kohen Godol is sequestered from his house… and they prepare another Kohen as his substitute, lest he [the Kohen Godol] become disqualified due to seminal emission or by [other] tumah [contamination].”

This author noted in a previous year’s Parshiyot Achrei Mos/Kedoshim:

There is a connection between the mido of loving kindness to our brethren and the role of the Kohen Godol as a unifier and as a national emissary. The Kohen’s very essence is the paradigm of unity and of the concept of “V’ohavta L’rei’acha Komochah” in which we all unify as one.

There is a citing to illustrate this. R’ Hirsch, z’l in the new Hirsch Chumash (on Sefer Vayikra, published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Rabbi Daniel Haberman) comments on the opening of Parsha Sh’mini that for seven days, Aaron and his sons were instructed regarding the service in the Mishkan, and on the eighth day the Kohanim were consecrated to Hashem. But just as the Kohen is Hashem’s emissary to the B’nai Yisrael, so too, as Rav Chaim Zev Malinowitz said in …[a] drash, that there must be both a Shabbos and a full week of life for a newly-born male before Bris Milah is performed on him on the eighth day. The newly born male is thus consecrated to Hashem upon his Bris, just as Aaron and his sons, the Kohanim were consecrated to Hashem upon completion of their seven days of training. And so, the Jews are the “light unto the nations”, consecrated to Hashem, His Emissaries to the world, just as the Kohanim are Hashem’s Emissaries to all of Klal Yisrael.

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

May we, the B’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!

Baruch Dayan Emet: Hespid for my Mother Claire Burt: Chaya bat Zalman

Filed under: News Reports on Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Niferet 11 April, 2015, 22 Nissan 5775

I’ve learned, and written a great deal about Aaron HaKohen Godol’s constancy of service in the Mishkan, the Ohel Mo’ed, the Tent of Meeting in Bamidbar, the desert (the Mishkan being the forerunner of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem built by King Solomon) in the forty years following the Yetziyot Mitzrayim, the liberation of the Jews from bondage in Egypt.

If I were to boil down to a few words, the attributes of my Mother, a bat Kohen, those words would match the attributes of Aaron HaKohen: constancy of service, kindness, humility, efficiency, the ability to elicit the implicit trust of others.

Remembering back decades, I recall that my Mother was often told by my Grandmother, my Father’s Mother, that she considered my Mother more like a daughter than a daughter-in-law. And my Grandparents Burt, for decades, entrusted to my Mother the writing of checks and keeping their checkbook when the family bills needed to be paid.

She was my Father’s help-mate, and they both made one neshama — the proverbial melding of two people bonding as one soul, faithfully, constantly for all of the seventy-plus years of their marriage. Aside from hospitalizations for injuries, childbirths and surgical procedures over the years, the few times when my Father couldn’t accompany us on trips to Montreal for Simchas due to his having to work, or a few trips my Mother took with her close friend, our cousin Bea Horowitz, I cannot recall a day, ever, in their marriage when my parents were apart. There was never a “Claire, I have to go out of town on business for a few days” on any such thing.

I’ve told over numerous times during the Shiva period how my parents met; how my Father was a gunnery instructor in what was then known as the “Army Air Corps”, and stationed in Newfoundland in either 1943 or 1944. He met up with another Yid, Dudi, from Montreal, Quebec, Canada– my Mother’s cousin. Dudi connected them and they began corresponding. Eventually they met and later married in Philadelphia on January 7, 1945, 22 Chodesh Tevet, 5705.

My Mother was protective, perhaps over-protective of me as I grew up. I guess it could be expected, for she bore inner, emotional scars from her earliest childhood — her birth-Mother passing away in childbirth with another child, when my Mother was but two years old, nearly losing my Father, mere days after their wedding when their honeymoon hotel burned to the ground — my Father’s life saved due to the advent of penicillin which in 1945 was administered only to US military personnel, the birth nine months later of a daughter destined to pass away at two years due to the genetic disorder – Tay Sachs which, at that time, was unknown to, and confounded American doctors. In fact, it was only once she took the daughter to a doctor in Montreal, that the child was diagnosed as having Tay Sachs. B’H, later in life, I was tested and found not to be a carrier of the gene.

In my early childhood years in a North Philly post-World War 2 community, we lived at 10th and Butler St., a corner house with a store front — my parents together operated a Mom ‘n Pop grocery store for about 6 years. As an only child who was shy, introverted; attending a public school, I was a child written off by a cruel, arrogant first grade teacher as being backward, retarded, seen as never amounting to anything. My Mother was one who fought for her child’s future by having me tested numerous times and by being active in that school’s PTA for as long as we lived in that community.

As I grew to be a teenager, I found it embarrassing when, on occasion when I’d be out too late with friends, the calls around the neighborhood would begin until I returned home. But, despite my embarrassment, the feedback I heard about, from other parents, was of admiration for my Mother.

Here, I want to add what I consider a cute anecdote about my Mother: I always knew my Mother had a fixation with concern about their checkbook and their checking account balance, but during a discussion between my uncle Stanley and I in November, my uncle related to me about my Mother’s fixation by using the term “anal” regarding her concern for their checkbook and maintaining the checkbook balance up-to-date, making sure that all checks and deposits were entered, balance footed down, etc.

This anecdote is indicative of the attention my Mother paid to details. I have inherited this mido, this trait of attentiveness to detail, often to a fault. But having this attribute has benefited me through the years, at work as an accountant and later a controller, with chesed projects such as The Sefer Torah Recycling Network, or my making aliyah to Eretz Yisrael in 1999, and most recently, factoring into my decision-making during my Mother’s major medical crisis in mid-September to October, 2014 regarding bringing my Mother to Vitas Hospice care who treated her as she remained with my Father at my parents’ assisted living facility, and saw to my Mother’s comfort.

My Mother’s nurturing was a crucial factor of my Jewish/Israel consciousness from my earliest cognizance in life. I’m proud of the fact that in my nearly 67 years, there has always been an Israel — in Eretz Yisrael. My Mother saw to assuring my Jewish identity by way of employing a Hebrew tutor for me at seven or eight years old (I don’t remember which year) who taught me the alef/bet — block and cursive, gave me initial lessons in reading, taught me Birkat HaTorah –the Brachot when called to the Torah for an Aliyah and more. My Mother also saw to sending me for two years to an afternoon, after-school Hebrew school at Gratz College, a school then highly regarded in conservative Jewish circles in Philadelphia.

Regarding Gratz College, it gave me a firmer basis in some Jewish fundamentals, but after a couple of years, and with our family moving from North Philly to the Northeast, to 1825 Carwithan St., it became difficult for my parents to continue paying the tuition costs, and so I felt that it wasn’t right for me to continue. And so, my Mother saw to it that I enroll in a Hebrew school at a synagogue close to home to learn what was needed for my Bar Mitzvah.

In addition to being the pillar of keeping house, my Mother worked outside of the house as a secretary/bookkeeper for two companies in the plumbing supply field. She was active in a local Hadassah chapter in Philadelphia, attaining it’s presidency which she held for a couple of years.

My Mother was inward, family-oriented beyond just my Father and I, and two sets of my grandparents and siblings from both families. She was a regular at the monthly cousins club and at other family events in Philadelphia and was loved by all.

She, and my Father instilled in me a sense of values and morality based in Jewish ways which has manifested in my adult life.

A little over seven months ago, last September and early October, my Mother was seriously ill, and it was thought that the end was near. But she rallied miraculously, thanks to Hashem’s kindness in giving us more time with her. And sincere, heartfelt thanks go out for the limitless kindnesses of Eric Weitkamp and his staff — Freedom Partners of South Florida, of the team of nurses and aides at “The Bridge” — my parents’ assisted living facility, and to the team at Vitas Hospice.

I know that I speak for my Father, and for my Mother’s siblings; Ruth Meides, Stanley Schwartz and Shirley Blum in expressing that my Mother: Chaya bat Zalman merits by her many Meisim Tovim, her many good and kind ways and acts in life — one month short of 92 years, an Aliyah — a going up directly to Shemayim. Amen!

Parshiyot Acharei Mos, Kedoshim 5775: The Kohen Gadol: Paradigm for B’nai Yisrael, as a Paradigm for all Mankind

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, April 18th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshiyot HaShevua, Parshiyot Acharei Mos/Kedoshim is being sponsored by David and Julie Morris of Ramat Beit Shemesh Lilui Nishmas theYarhtzeit of Julie’s Mother’s Yahrtzeit Shulamit Devorah bat Rav Shimshon Raphael z”l, for the recent passing of Chaya bat Zalman and for Refuah Shlaima L’Cholei Yisrael. To the Morris family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshiyot Acharei Mos, Kedoshim 5775: The Kohen Gadol: Paradigm for B’nai Yisrael, as a Paradigm for all Mankind

by Moshe Burt

Parshiyot Acharei Mos and Kedoshim are another of what we baseball fans refer to as a “doubleheader” parshat. But these two parshiyot, together, express a point — the Kohen as a paradigm of the middot and attributes for the Jews to emulate as Hashem’s chosen nation. And the Jew, in turn, should be expressive of a paradigm of the morality and character attributes which Hashem meant for the peoples of the world to emulate.

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

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

He first cites gemora Rosh HaShannah 26a:

Why does the Kohen Godol not enter the Holy of Holies wearing his gold vestments to perform the Divine service? Because an accuser cannot become an advocate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Near the end of our parsha, Torah lists numerous forbidden, illicit relationships and practices in Sefer Vayikra Perek 18. Sefer “L’lmod U’lamed”, by Rabbi Mordechai Katz (page 114) further states on these perakim:

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

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

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

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

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

The Artscroll Stone Chumash adds on posuk 22:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sadly, in our times, V’ohavta L’rei’acha Komochah often is lacking amongst B’nai Yisrael, supplanted by “Me”, “Mine”,“my convenience”, “Me first” on individual levels as well as on a national level. One might add to this list mindsets representative of disunity, division, polarization between sectors, senseless hatred, i.e. “my group and to heck with yours” or, as seen in recent times, “since You omitted us from your ruling coalition and now seek to integrate us into the national social/economic structure by legislative/judicial force , to heck with the Land — we’ll vote with the left.”
This disunity, division and polarization is not lost on the nations, and shatters the paradigm purity and character attributes of Am Yisrael which Hashem sought for the peoples of the world to view and emulate.

May we, the B’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! 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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Parshiyot Tazria, Metzora 5775: Tzara’as, the Metzora and the “Meeting Halfway” Between Kohen and Metzora

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Sunday, April 12th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Parshiyot HaShevua Tazria, Metzora is being sponsored by Steven and Debra Glanz of Ramat Beit Shemesh and dedicated for a speedy, full and complete Refuah Shlaima for Chaim Yechiel ben Malka (Rothman). To the Glanz 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 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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Parshiyot Tazria, Metzora 5775: Tzara’as, the Metzora and the “Meeting Halfway” Between Kohen and Metzora

by Moshe Burt

Our twin Parshiyot Tazria and Metzora discuss the sins of slander, gossip and other forms of speaking against or shaming another, the resultant affliction and rectification.

Rabbi Moshe Weissman, in his sefer “The Midrash Says”, cites R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch who, in turn, cites Sforno (who was a physician) in explaining tzara’as and differentiating it from the natural disease of leprosy:

The natural disease begins with a swelling of the skin which causes it to darken in color, whereas tzara’as caused no swellings and the affected areas turned white.

The most malicious type of natural leprosy known, … according to Torah law, does not render anyone tamay (impure) at all.

Torah informs that one so contaminated by tzara’as is known as a Metzora. (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 14, posuk 2)

R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z’l defines Metzora in the new Hirsch Chumash (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Daniel Haberman, page 420):

Metzora, … Motziya rah [transliteration of the 2 words which form Metzora], a slander.

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

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

The Chafetz Chayim, R’ Yisrael Meir HaKohen, in his sefer “The Concise Book of Mitzvot”, lists as Negative Commandments #77 and #79 (pages 162-169) and comments citing sources:

#77/ It is a negative commandment not to tell anyone things that another person said against him.

#79/ It is a negative commandment not to shame one’s fellow man.

The Sages of blessed memory taught (Talmud Yerushalmi, Pe’ah i, See Rambam, Yad Hilchot de’ot vii 3): For three transgressions punishment is exacted from a person in this world, and he has no share in the world-to-come: iddolatry, incest or adultery and bloodshed. But evil gossip is equal in seriousness to them all…. And our Sages of blessed memory said, too (Devarim Rabbah, v 10): Evil gossip kills three; the one who tells it, the one who accepts it, and the one about whom it is told….

R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z’l provides commentary in the new Hirsch Chumash on the posukim at the beginning of our Parsha regarding Negi’yim — spots, Tzoras (Sefer Vayikra, Parsha Tazria, pages 420-422):

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

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

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

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

We learn in Parshat Tazria that unity, between individual Jews, as well as on a national level, was role of the Kohen (Priest), whose very essence and “inherent trait throughout the generations” has been unity. (Rabbi Zelig Pliskin in “Growth Through Torah”, page 253 citing the Rabbi of Alexander).

Bearing in mind this inherent trait which, l’chatchila, permeates the Kohen, our Parshat Metzora opens with two seemingly contradictory instructions given by Hashem to Moshe (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 14, posukim 2-3):

“This shall be the law of the metzora on the day of his purification; He shall be brought to the Kohen. The Kohen shall go forth to the outside of the camp; the Kohen shall look, and behold! — the tzaraas affliction had been healed from the metzora.”

Basically, in posuk 2, we are informed that upon the metzora’s teshuvah — “…the change [which] takes place within his mind and heart”

(Artscroll Stone Chumash commentary citing R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z’l on Sefer Vayikra, Perek 14, posuk 2) during his solitary dwelling outside the camp, that “…Hashem Who afflicted him will remove the mark [the nega'im -- the affliction] of his degradation and he can begin the process of return.” (ibid)

It would seem to this author that while the metzora, seemingly healed, would have to be brought to the Kohen, that the Kohen has the final call as to whether the afflicted has healed, has indeed purified himself. Only once the metzora is deemed as purified, can he re-enter the camp.

Seemingly, for that reason, the Kohen must come to the metzora, therefore leaving the camp.

Yehuda Nachshoni, in “Studies in the Weekly Parsha” (pages 733-734) cites S’forno and other commentators with deeper meaning regarding the healed metzora being brought to the Kohen and the Kohen going out of the camp to the metzora:

S’forno gives… basis for a new halachic insight. Not only did the Torah require the Kohen to go out to the metzora, it also required the metzora to go out to the Kohen. Thus, the Torah requires the metzora to come to the nearest possible place so that the Kohen should not have to travel a great distance. The metzora is to be brought to the closest point outside the camp so that the Kohen can see him without excessive effort.

The Gaon of Lutzk, in his Oznayim LeTorah explains a reason for this commandment. One cause of nega’im is pride. If the Kohen would go to the metzora, the latter would be conceited by that fact. Therefore he has to come to the Kohen.

Sifsei Kohen takes the exact opposite approach. The Kohen must go out to the metzora to show him respect. This is because the metzora who was sent out of the camp was publicly humiliated; now that he has been healed, he is entitled to be shown respect in compensation. It is for that reason that the Kohen goes out to him.

Ohel Yaakov explains that the stress on “He will be brought out to the Kohen” is so that the metzora will learn an ethical lesson in realizing that life and death are in the power of the tongue. The Kohen takes him out of his tumah through the word of his mouth. He does not become tohar [pure] until the Kohen says the word “tohar.” This is measure for measure, for he [the metzora] became tamei because of his words.

It does seem to this author that this “meeting halfway” between the Kohen and metzora strikes a balance between showing kavod (respect) for one who has seen the error of his ways and has done teshuvah, while not becoming conceited or arrogant as a result of the Kohen coming to him. This “meeting halfway” seems to provide practical contemporary lessons in various arenas among the diverse sectors of observant Jews in Israel.

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 Shemini 5775: Arrogance and Subjective Arbitrariness –Then and Now

Filed under: News Reports on Saturday, April 4th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Shemini is sponsored by Donny and Elisheva Fein in honor of the 25th anniversary of Donny’s Bar Mitzvah: Parshat Shemini. To the Fein 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 aYahrtzeit 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 Shemini 5775: Arrogance and Subjective Arbitrariness –Then and Now

by Moshe Burt

After learning in Parsha Tzav that for seven days, Moshe taught Aaron HaKohen and his sons the laws of their Avodah (the Kohanic Service, i.e. in the Tabernacle and later in the Beit HaMikdash — ” The Temple”) in the Mishkan, our Parsha Shemini begins by relating that on the eighth day, Aaron and his sons commenced their Avodah HaKodosh (Holy Service). It is interesting and ironic that our parsha is the other side of the term; “Tzav-Shemonah” which is the document or order issued by the Israel Defense Forces calling reservists to active duty in event of war. But the alignment of these two Parshiyot, one-after-the-other, seems to this author, to have deeper meaning, above and beyond mobilization and deployment in time of war. This deeper meaning seems to denote a constancy of service, of humility, modesty and selflessness, of guard over Am Yisrael and their connection to Hashem, to Torah and to their sanctity (consecration, purity, holiness). And with this constancy of vigilance of Am Yisrael’s sanctity, our Parsha also teaches us about Kashrut, and “abstain[ing] from impure, non-Kosher item[s].” (L’ilmode U’Lamed, by Rabbi Mordechai Katz, Parshat Shemini, page 108)

Our Parsha also relates the tragedy of the deaths of Aaron’s two oldest sons, Nadav and Avihu who died while performing an unauthorized Service, offering a “strange fire …, which he did not command them…” (Artscroll Chumash, Vayikra, Perek 10, posuk 1)

Our Parsha relates that:

“Hashem spoke to Aaron saying: Do not drink intoxicating wine, you and your sons…, when you come to the Ohel Mo’ed (the Tent of Meeting), that you not die — this is an eternal decree for your generations. In order to distinguish between the sacred and the profane …” (Artscroll Chumash, Vayikra, Perek 10, p’sukim 8-10).

In previous years, this author discussed the several aveirot (wrong-doings) of Aaron’s sons Nadav and Avihu, including their performance of the unauthorized Service, the offering of a “strange fire …”, uncommanded by Hashem. Also discussed in previous years’ Parshat Shemini, was how Nadav and Avihu sought to perform a unique service, apparently thought by each of them to be pleasing to Hashem, and how many others through our history have sought to alter, to change the traditional modes of service, more often than not, in ways and for reasons not L’Shem Shemayim (not honoring Hashem’s name) and perhaps, eventually rendering whatever service they attempted as unrecognizable in Shemayim, and actually an aveirah (a sin). Discussed as well, was the exchange between Aaron and Moshe regarding the status of Aaron and his remaining sons, Elazar and Ithamar, as mourners and as to whether or not Hashem would approve of their partaking of meal-offering. Moshe subsequently expressed approval of their decision to refrain from eating the offering.

In this Parshat HaShevua, this author discusses a specific aspect of Nadav’s and Avihu’s aveirah which appears to have a profound message in our time. R’ Shimson Rafael Hirsch z”l, in the new Hirsch Chumash (Sefer Vayikra, pages 291-294), relates back to Sefer Breish’t (Perek 4, posukim 3-6) regarding Hashem’s acceptance of Hevel’s offering while rejecting Kayin’s offering, and the warnings given to Shlomo HaMelech regarding the construction of and service in the Beit HaMikdash in discussing the unauthorized offerings of Nadav and Avihu:. R’ Hirsch writes:

These cases declare unequivocably that the value of the Sanctuary and its offerings depends on how dutiful we are to Hashem. …Aaron’s sons who died because of the sin of their offering: Hashem’s fire consumed them, at the same time that this very fire accepted the offering of the people, thereby expressing Hashem’s approval and demonstrating Hashem’s presencein the midst of the people. The death of Aaron’s sons is… a clear protest against all subjective arbitrariness in the sphere of our ritual worship of Hashem.

From the very wording of scripture, we learn that Aaron’s sons behaved arrogantly…. The text… ["The sons of Aaron, Nadav and Avihu, each took his fire pan, they put fire in them and placed incense upon it; and they brought before Hashem an alien fire that He had not commanded them." (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 10, posuk 10)] is indicative of arrogance…

The Mincha of Nadav and Avihu… was each used in his fire pan. They did not bring their offering in the vessels of the Mishkan, but in their own vessels — without self-renunciation.

This next point of R’Hirsch seems particularly poignant for our time:

In the service of the offerings, there is no place for subjective arbitrariness. Even the free-will offerings must comply with prescribed forms. One who brings an offering seeks closeness to Hashem, but this can be attained only through the obedience to Hashem and acceptance of the yoke of His commandments.

Rabbi Moshe Weissman cites a medrash in “The Midrash Says” (Sefer Vayikra, pages 78-79):

All their actions were motivated by their overwhelming love for the Almighty. When they witnessed the Heavenly fire descend, they felt the urge to contribute a fire of their own to express their love for Hashem. Despite their pure motivation, the full force of the Attribute of Justice struck them.

Nadav and Avihu were punished by Heaven midda-keneged-midda. They had kindled a fire in a manner which was not permitted, and therefore they were burned. Hashem said, “We will see which [fire] will prevail, Mine or yours.”

What is meant here by subjective arbitrariness? This author sees, as an example of subjective arbitrariness, one of the aveirot of Nadav and Avihu, as cited from Rabbi Moshe Weissman’s “The Midrash Says” (Sefer Vayikra, page 78):

Both Nadav and Avihu were unmarried.

They enjoyed a rank and lineage which was rare. They were the sons of the Kohen Godol, the nephews of the nation’s leader and, to top it all, unequaled in their spiritual achievements. They therefore believed that it was appropriate for them to wait for the birth of girls from the family of their brothers Elazar and Ithamar whom they would marry. Offspring produced by illustrious parents, they believed, would be superior. However, Hashem blamed them for their attitude.

Can it be that segments of Observant Jews today have missed this correlation? The subjective arbitrariness and arrogance, such as shown by Nadav and Avihu, seems to this author to have a correlation manifested in our time as the demeaning and degrading, by words and actions, of others of our brethren not perceived to be on the hashkafic level of those acting or speaking derogatorily regarding their brethren. Ergo, for example, the refusal of Rabbanim of divergent sectors to sit together L’Shem Shemayim to thrash out and resolve their differences, whether halachic, political, etc. Ergo, even chachamim vying for the top position of their group demeaning, degrading or committing physical violence against their perceived “rival”, or demeaning verbal expressions or physical acts committed against their fellow based on the type of kippa one wears, the extent of the modest clothing worn, where he learns, whether he carries the flag or joins the army, etc. While those who demean and degrade their fellow may perceive themselves as motivated by an overwhelming love for Hashem, these manifestations seem anything but reflection of a closeness to the Almighty.

In our perilous time, the resultant price of such subjective arbitrariness and arrogance seems to be that it blinds us to our overriding national necessity for unity.

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

Good Shabbos!
_______________________________________

Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Dayenu 5775: “Being There” at the Pesach Seder and Relating Today’s Challenges With Challenges After Leaving Mitzrayim

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, March 28th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Pesach vort is being sponsored by Benjamin and Gina Fishman and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for a Refuah Shlaima for Rivka Nechama bat Gittel Yehudis. 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
*****************************************

Dayenu 5775: “Being There” at the Pesach Seder and Relating Today’s Challenges With Challenges After Leaving Mitzrayim

by, Moshe Burt

This year will mark twenty years, and my seventeenth Pesach in Eretz Yisrael, in which I have emailed, as it has become tradition with me from prior to my Aliyah, the rendition of Dayenu quoted from the book “Dear Brothers” by former Arutz Sheva columnist Haggai Segal. In each year, Dayenu holds a unique perspective, unlike the perspective of any previous year.

Each year, this author tries to put forth factors that relate to the state of B’nai Yisrael — right here and right now.

And so, the insights and lessons, both current and previous, brought in the quoted rendition of Dayenu are vital now, just as they were in the first year that I emailed this vort out or, for that matter, as vital as they were when it was quoted in Segal’s compilation of the book in its copyright year 1988.

As we approach Pesach 5775, we take time again to ponder this brief section about Dayenu, in light of the recent election campaign and voting just concluded, and ponder what lessons and tests of emunah, Jewish unity and collective Jewish self-esteem that Hashem has handed us or will toss our way as a Klal which might approach or exceed his tests of our forefathers in Mitzrayim; i.e., taking the Mitzri avodah zora — that parody about “Tying the Korban Pesach to the Bedpost Overnight”, then slaughtering it, and applying its blood to our doorposts so that the Moloch HaMavet passes over our Jewish homes… and eating it at the Seder table on the night before going out from Mitzriyim. Are we there? Can we place our mindsets there, as if in Mitzrayim, and internalize the Pesach seder’s meanings , as individuals, as families, as communities and communal leaders, as politicians, media types, etc.?

The Artscroll Pesach Haggadah based on Talmudic, Midrashic and Rabbinic Sources, by Rabbi Joseph Elias (Overview, page xxxiii) provides two citings:

‘Just as in the days of your going out from Egypt will I show wonders to them.’ (Michah Perek 7, posuk 15)

‘In the night of Pesach all that happened in Egypt renews and bestirs itself; and this itself helps to bring the ultimate redemption.’ (Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto)

Are we really there? Are we really into having that personal dialogue with Hashem three times daily? Or, are we merely, one-two-six, carrying out the by-rote rabbinic injunction and obligation with Aleinu on-the-fly? And similarly, at the Pesach Seder, Are WE really there? Are WE really B’yachad with our brethren, even on the Seder night and even with our brethren whose Hashkafot, learned from their parents and Rabbonim, may not be totally in accord with that inculcated to us? Can we feel and understand how it was to be in Mitzrayim, how it was to live through the generations following the death of Yosef HaTzaddik and through the evolution of the enslavement and persecution of B’nai Yisrael by Pharaoh and the Mitzriyim? Can we relate, in our times, to possible similarities between today’s tendency amongst many of our brethren, including segments of our religious brethren, to retreat back to within perilous, self-endangering Auschwitz borders, and the post-Yetziyat Mitzrayim (exodus from Egypt) call by many of our ancestors to return to Mitzrayim? As we make the primary focus of our Pesach Seder experience toward the young children, are we adults still able to direct, and relate to, the Seder experience in such a way as to instill, among the other age segments around the Seder table, insights and transplantations such that they feel as if they are/were there and experiencing the dire pain of their ancestors?

What tests akin to the Korban Pesach, or Kri’yat Yom Suf (crossing the Reed Sea) does Hashem have in mind us this Pesach, as Moshiach approaches B’ezrat Hashem? How will HaKodosh Borchu test OUR mettle, both individually and as a kehal, as a nation, as Jews? Do we have the backbone, the strength of conviction to subordinate respective differences to the overriding national priorities, the “fire in the belly” to unify with our brethren who may not be exactly like us and to stand up and physically express in a multitude of ways our Jewish sovereignty, Jewish unity, our connection with and our Divine Mandate of ownership of Eretz Yisrael? Do we have the intestinal fortitude to compel our rabbinic and national leaders’ loyalty to one Jonathan Pollard who has suffered endlessly for over 29 years that Medinat Yisrael would survive and thrive in Eretz Yisrael? Do we have the inner strength and gumption to do right, whatever it takes, by our fellow Jews? Are the modern-day tests akin to the tests, the challenges our brethren faced in the day of Pharoah and Mitzrayim? Or the days of Esther, Mordechai, the evil Haman and King Achashveirosh??

Dayenu!!!

My Introduction

In the Book “Dear Brothers”, the story is told how Pesach 5738 (1968) was approaching when the first group of Pioneers endeavored to establish themselves in Chevron. Among this hearty group were Rabbis Haim Druckman, Eliezer Waldman, Moshe Levinger, Shlomo Aviner and others.

We pick up the story as the participants, “Sixty people sat down to that historical first Seder…” in Chevron:

“Another participant was the author Moshe Shamir, formerly affiliated with the leftist Hashomer Hatzair(the Young Guard). As he did with each of the celebrants during the Seder, Rabbi Druckman asked Shamir to make some comments appropriate to the festival. The others braced themselves for the minor unpleasantness that was sure to result.

But at every Seder since then; other guests have repeated the Drosh that Moshe Shamir delivered that first Passover Seder in Chevron and so I try to give it over each year to my friends and relatives on Pesach via the Internet(MB):

“The fourteen verses in the song Dayenu (It would have sufficed) have drawn the attention of the commentators throughout the ages. Why should we imply that we could forgo even one of the gifts given to us by Hashem three thousand years ago? How would we have gotten along at all without every one of them? The truth is that this part of the Haggadah has only one aim: to teach us how each and every generation of Jews tends to settle for the achievements of the past, to settle for what its forefathers had accomplished — and to rest on its laurels, with no aspiration for anything not achieved thus far. We, too, right here have that same tendency to say Dayenu — ‘It would have sufficed for us.’ The State of Israel? Dayenu. Unified Jerusalem and liberated Hebron? Dayenu. Wasn’t it just last year at the Seder [before the 6-day War -- MB] that we said, ‘If Hashem had given us Israel but had not given us Jerusalem and Hebron — dayenu? That’s why we’ve got to know that we’ll be facing many more ‘dayenus’ until we reach full redemption.”

The book recounts that Rabbi Druckman stood up and kissed Shamir’s forehead.

In his vort at that first Pesach Seder in Hevron, Moshe Shamir spoke about generations of Jews settling for what was, rather than aspiring to achieve further and seizing opportunities to fulfill these further aspirations. But today, it seems that not only is there the tendency not to aspire further, but to actually give up, to relinquish that already achieved.

In the Sefer “Inspiration and Insights”, Discourses on the Holidays and Other Themes, by the Manchester Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Yehudah Zev Segal z”l, Rav Segal notes that Parshat Beshalach begins (page 43):

“It happened when Pharaoh sent out the people that Hashem did not lead them by way of the land of the P’lishtim (Philistines) because it was near, for Hashem said: ‘Perhaps the people will have a change of heart when they see war, and they will return to Egypt.’ So Hashem turned the people toward the way of the wilderness, to the Sea of Reeds.” Sefer Sh’mos, Perek 13, posukim 17-18)

Rav Segal then comments (page 43);

The most direct route there [to Eretz Yisrael] was through the land of the P’lishtim. But that apparent advantage was the very reason why Hashem did not lead them that way. Had the journey been direct, the people would have been tempted to return to the servitude of Mitzrayim when attacked by hostile nations along the way.

Could a direct route back to the land of slavery and persecution really be too great a test to overcome? The Ribono shel Olam, Who sees into the heart of every man, knew that it might. Indeed, as Rashi notes, a call to return to Mitzrayim was voiced even after the circuitous path had been taken. (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 14, posuk 4) Hashem would not place the Jews in a situation where the enticements of their yetzer hara
(evil inclination) might be to much for them to withstand.

Therefore, just as the Jews in Bamidbar had to confront and fight off their yetzer hara, it seems that today, even after the current national elections, some segments of Am Yisrael, both secular and religious, as well as prospective governing alternatives manifest suffering from that same yetzer hara and the danger of capitulating to it and thus surrendering the Jewish soul and endangering our Jewish lives and sovereignty in, and over the Land of Israel.

Another commentary in the Artscroll Pesach Haggadah (page 137) cites the Malbim and speaks about Dayenu in this way;

“…The bondage of our forefathers was two-fold — physical and spiritual — and so was their redemption. The physical bondage came to an end on Pesach night, but the spiritual redemption reached it’s climax only with the building of the Temple and Hashem’s self-revelation in his sanctuary.”

“Every step on the road to this ultimate goal was a further act of Divine kindness to us, a further revelation of Hashem’s majesty. That’s why we give thanks for each …favor (MB; kindness) bestowed upon us. For every single step, we say Dayenu — it would have sufficed by itself to give our thanks (attributed to Malbim).”

This does not mean that any one step would have sufficed by itself to bring us to our goal. It does mean, however, that each of the happenings of Yetziyat Mitzrayim, Giving of Torah at Har Sinai, the travels through Bamidbar, entry of the Jewish People into Eretz Yisrael through to the building of the Beit HaMikdash “represented a new remarkable miracle — …that Hashem need not have performed these miracles if he had not
seen a particular purpose for each.”

Dayenu seems to mean building Jewish self-esteem and recognition of the great chessed that Hashem has done for us with every gift that He has given to the Jewish people from Yetziyat Mitzrayim until now, as well as the chessed inherent in the gifts yet to come — B’Ezrat Hashem; Moshiach, Ge’ula Shlaima, Torah leadership and government and an end to the current and often cruel, brutal, heartless, totalitarian, dictatorial governance of Memshelet Yisrael.

What is the spiritual road leading to Jewish self-esteem?? It seems travelled by way of our kavanah (intent) and ratzon (desire) in our tefillos, our Avodat Hashem and common decency toward our fellow Jews — V’ahavtah L’rei’cha Komocha as existed amongst B’nai Yisrael even in the depths of Mitzri enslavement, as well as by way of the strength of our convictions regarding Emunah in Hashem and by striving for the perceived “unachievable”; both inward and outward expressions and manifestations of limitless love for our fellow Jew and for our Holy Land. It also seems to mean breaking out, for some, of their contemporary mold of coercion and dependency, and a mutual recognition and respect for diversity within the realm of halachic observant Jewry.

As writer Moshe Shamir said years ago in his little Pesach vort;

” That’s why we’ve got to know that we’ll be facing many more ‘dayenus’ until we reach full redemption.”

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, Good Yom Tov! Chag Kosher V’Some’ach and, remember: BE THERE at the Pesach Seder!
_______________________________________

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 Tzav 5775: Sparing a Fellow Jew Embarrassment By Way of Thought, Action or View Perception

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, March 21st, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Tzav is being co-sponsored by Rabbi Shimon and Sharon Isaacson of Ramat Beit Shemesh and Gidon and Devra Ariel of Yishuv Ma’alei Hever with both families dedicating for Hotslocha to their children. To the Isaacson and Ariel families, 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 Tzav 5775: Sparing a Fellow Jew Embarrassment By Way of Thought, Action or View Perception

by Moshe Burt

In our Parsha Tzav, Moshe’s command from Hashem to Aaron HaKohen and his sons is to take up and clothe themselves in their Vestments, their garments of service in the Mishkan, and to begin their daily Avodah (service and offerings in the Mishkan).

For seven days, Moshe taught Aaron HaKohen and his sons the laws of their Avodah in the Mishkan. (You might say that they were given, as one could term it in the US, OJT from Shemayim.) On the eighth day, Aaron and his sons began their Avodah.

One of the Halachot taught in our Parsha regards sparing ones’ fellow from embarrassment. Torah informs that Hashem tells Moshe Rabbeinu (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 6, posuk18):

“Speak to Aharon and his sons saying: This is the law of sin-offering. At the place where you slaughter the burnt-offering You shall slaughter the sin-offering…”

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer, “Growth Through Torah”(page 244) provides explanation:

The Talmud Yerushalmi (Yevamos 8:3)states that the reason the burnt-offerings and the sin-offerings were slaughtered at the same place was in order to save those who sinned from embarrassment. When people saw the animal being brought slaughtered, they would not know that it was a sin-offering.

From here, we see the principle of not causing others shame or discomfort when they have done something improper in the past and now regret it.

Shem Mishmuel (Sefer Shem Mishmuel, Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski, pages 215-216) offers a side-bar on this Halacha:

The Olah… was slaughtered on the north side of the altar: “Slaughter it at the side of the altar, to the north, before Hashem… (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 1, posuk 11).

…The word for “north” used used in these verses is tzafon. This word has the same root as “matzpun”, meaning “conscience” or “intellect.” The olah is slaughtered in the north, because the north represents the intellect of man, the place where the sin requiring the olah takes place.

Shem Mishmuel then provides a footnote regarding the north:

Chazal always characterize the north as a high point of some sort; so, too, the intellect is the “highest”, most developed part of man.

Rabbi Mordechai Katz further explains this Halacha in his sefer “L’lmod U’lamed” (Page 104-105) citing Sotah 32b as well as Talmud Yerushalmi (Yevamos 8:3):

There was no particular place specifically designated for bringing… the Korban Chatos, the sin-offering in the Mishkan. This is significant. The Korban Chatos was offered by one who had sinned and now wished to repent. If there was a specified physical location for these korbonot, the identity of the sinners would become readily known, and this might in itself discourage repentance. Because the Korban Chatos is offered in the same place as the Korban Olah [burnt-offering], no one could be certain that the bearer of the Korban had actually sinned. In this way, the matter would remain private between man and Hashem, and the sinner would be spared public embarrassment.

If Hashem’s Torah laws deliberately avoid the shaming of others, then we should certainly be careful not to embarrass our fellow… Our Sages say that whoever insults his fellow… in public forfeits his place in the world to come. (Bava Metziah 59b) One can kill a man only once with a knife, but he can slay him many times over with a shameful word.

This author finds that these citations offer a profound meaning for our times beyond merely the cloaking of the place of these offerings so as to blur the distinction between one who brings an offering for a sin committed and one who brings an offering for what may be a sinful thought.

What’s meant here? For example, certain habits noted regarding tefillot, such as the tendency of some, or many who speed through their tefillot, and then when completed, continually glance around the shul as if thinking, “what’s taking sooo long? Why doesn’t the Gabai give the high-sign to the Shaliach Tzibbor to continue. Why are they sooo slow?”

Why can’t those glancing around the Shul merely pick up and learn from a sefer, a Chumash, etc. until the Shaliach Tzibbor is ready to continue, or to go into the repetition of Shemonah Essrei? Their action of glancing around the Shul impatiently creates perceived pressure, peer pressure on the Shaliach Tzibbor as well as on many of their fellows in the kehilla who daven at a slower pace. And might they also consider how they perhaps need to slow down their own tefillot so as to feel meaning from their prayers?

Then there is Aleinu, held by a number of great Chachamim as the holiest of tefillot — where the Gabbai and the Shaliach Tzibbor feel the intense pressure of all of those who are in this huge hurry for Kaddish so as to be done with tefillah or to rush out of Shul, such that the Shaliach Tzibbor blows through Aleinu at mac-1 speed or the speed of an Arnoldis Chapman or Ken Giles 100-plus mph fastball. Don’t they realize that their actions can be perceived as embarrassing their fellows who are trying to pray with kavanah, with intent? Further, there seems something very wrong when someone not in sync with a rapid davening kehilla needs to stop in the middle of his Aleinu for kaddish. If Aleinu is the holiest of tefillot, stopping in the middle, because a kehilla davens at the speed of light, somehow doesn’t seem proper kavod to The Almighty, even if Halacha permits.

As we work on our middah of not embarrassing our fellow in overt, obvious ways, we ought to also consider the covert ways, the less obvious ways that we embarrass our fellows on a daily basis, such as with tefillah, three times a day, everyday.

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

Good Shabbos!
_______________________________________

Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Vayikra 5775: Korbonot, Prayer and Placement of Korbonot in Category of Chukim

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, March 14th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Vayikra is being sponsored by Ari and Michal Gruen of Ramat Beit Shemesh and dedicated for a speedy, full and complete Refuah Shlaima for Chaim Yechiel ben Malka (Rothman). To the Gruen 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 Vayikra 5775: Korbonot, Prayer and Placement of Korbonot in Category of Chukim

by Moshe Burt

In past years, this author has discussed the first word of our parsha: Vayikra and why the word ends with a small “aleph.”

We are told how Hashem, Kav’yochal, would call gently, affectionately “Moshe, Moshe” in a voice for Moshe Rabbeinu’s ears only and Moshe would respond “Here I am.” (Rashi on Sefer Vayikra, Perek 1, posuk 1 — Metsuda Linear Chumash & Rashi with footnotes)

Moshe, always shirking honor, kavod, special treatment, or the perception of special treatment, fought “tooth to nail” that this first word, which would typify Hashem’s greeting when he wanted to speak privately with him in the Mishkan, should read “Vayikar.” This loshen “Vayikar” was later used when Hashem “happened to meet Bila’am” (Rashi on Sefer Vayikra, Perek 1, posuk 1) in Parsha Balak, like “…strangers who just met on the way”. That Moshe sought not to be perceived by Am Yisrael for all time as receiving honor, kavod and special treatment by Hashem tells much about Moshe Rabbeinu’s level of principle, integrity and his standard of leadership of B’nei Yisrael. Today’s governing leaders of medinat Yisrael could do with more than a few doses of Moshe’s humility and selflessness.

This time around though, the subject for discussion is Korbonot (sacrifices, offerings to Hashem).

Rabbi Mordechai Katz, in his sefer L’lmod U’lamed (page 101) discusses Kobonot and prayers:

The word Korbonot… contains the word “Korov”, meaning “near.” A Korbon then, is the means of approaching Hashem, supplicating for Divine forgiveness or demonstrating appreciation for Divine assistance, and thereby bringing one closer to the Divine Shechina [Presence].

Today…, without a Beit Hamikdash [Temple, Sanctuary], we are unfortunately unable to offer Korbonot. However, we have been granted an alternative method to express our contribution [our request for Divine forgiveness] and/or gratitude… through prayer.

Our prayers now serve the two basic purposes as did the Korbonot. They testify to Hashem’s mastery of the world, and they allow us to ask for Hashem’s assistance.

We pray to Hashem… with the knowledge that Hashem is everywhere and that He will hear our prayers no matter where we may be…. [As] a direct spiritual link to our Creator, the tefillot we say provide us with our own “hot line” to the Almighty.

Rabbi Yehudah Zev Segal, Shlita, z”l,The Manchester Rosh Yeshiva cites Rambam, including mentioning Dovid HaMelech in Tehillim, in discussing the Korbonot in the context of contrasting between Mishpatim and Chukim (pages 161-162):

Rambam in Yad HaChazakah (Hilchos Me’ilah Perek 8, posuk 8) writes:

Mishpatim are mitzvot whose reasons are obvious and the practical benefits of which are well known; examples include prohibitions against robbery and murder and the commandment to honor one’s father and mother. Chukim are mitzvot whose reasons are not known. As the Sages put it, [Hashem says,] “I have issued decrees and you have no right to question them.” One’s evil inclination is troubled by them and the nations of the world speak against them. Examples include laws regarding milk and meat, … parah adumah [the Red Heifer] [Bamidbar Perek 19] and the azazel goat [of Yom Kippur] [Vayikra Perek 16].

Dovid HaMelech suffer[ed] because of the heretics and idol worshippers who spoke against chukim. All the while that they contrived in accordance with their narrow-mindedness, his attachment to Torah was becoming strengthened, as it is written (Tehillim 119:69), “Willful sinners piled falsehood on me, but I cherish Your precepts with all my heart.” It is also written (Tehillim 119:86), ” All Your commandments are faithful; they [the heretics] pursue me with lies — help me!”

All korbonot fall into the category of chukim. The sages have said that the world exists because of the service of korbonot. (Megillah 31b)…. The command regarding chukim precedes that of mishpatim, as is written (Vatikra Perek 18, posuk 5), “You shall heed My chukim and mishpatim which a person shall perform and live by them.”

R’ Segal then writes:

With all that has been written, it is still beyond us to grasp just why the slaughter of a sanctified animal, the placing of its blood and the burning of its flesh upon the altar, should bring Hashem’s Presence down to earth…. Therefore, Rambam places korbonot in the category of chukim, commandments whose reasons are not known to us.

When a Jew offers a korban, he is demonstrating his unquestioning submission to Hashem’s will. It is as if he is saying, “I do not understand why this offering will accomplish great things for myself and for the world, but I know that it will accomplish great things, for that is what Hashem has taught us by way of His Torah.” Thus, bringing of a korban is a great declaration of faith. It is through this approach to Torah and mitzvot that a Jew earns himself a portion in the World to Come. That is what Chazal mean in saying that the world exists because of the service of korbonot.

Today, our recital of the Scriptual order of the korbonot service takes the place of the actual offerings.

May it be that we ALL soon act as Jews, including those who govern, and thus merit again having the Beit Hamikdash, the Kohanim performing their service and the re-institution of the korbonot service.

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

Good Shabbos!
_______________________________________

Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshiyot Vayakhel, Pekudei 5775: Shabbos, the Mishkan, Unity and the Paradigm Leader — Lessons for Our Times About Honesty vs Hypocrisy

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, March 7th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshiyot Vayakhel/Pekudei is being sponsored anonymously lilui nishmas Yitzhak Osher Ben Yaakov z”l. To our anonymous donor, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshiyot Vayakhel, Pekudei 5775: Shabbos, the Mishkan, Unity and the Paradigm Leader — Lessons for Our Times About Honesty vs Hypocrisy

by Moshe Burt

The word Vayakhel — Assembling together of Kol B’nai Yisrael, introduces the building of the Mishkan (Tent of Meeting), the forerunner of the Beit HaMikdash, which would serve as a kappara (atonement) for the Eigel Zahav (Golden Calf). Our parsha opens by teaching B’nai Yisrael about Shabbos which has always, until recent times, been the unifying, defining factor of Judaism. Shabbos seems a gateway to all else — Kashrut, the Chaggim (festivals), Torah learning and Ethics, Yishuv HaAretz, Kiddushin, Family Purity, etc. It symbolizes the Jew’s faith in Hashem. And the melachot involved in the construction of the Mishkan were meant as paradigms defining melachot prohibited on Shabbos.

The parsha begins by stating that “Moshe assembled the entire congregation of B’nai Yisrael…” (Perek 35, Posuk 1) Torah’s loshen (language) “Adat B’nai Yisrael”, in the context of learning the laws of Shabbos to the construction of the Mishkan, seems to indicate a unity — the Assembly of the B’nai Yisrael, as if one single entity.

The opening p’sukim of Parsha Vayakhel;

“…These are the words that Hashem commanded you to do: On six days, work may be done, but the seventh day shall be holy for you, a day of complete rest for Hashem…” (Perek 35, posukim 1 and 2)

are not merely an introduction to iur Parshiyot, but a rectification, a kapparah for the Chait HaEigel.

Rabbi Daniel Yormark of the Young Israel of Etingville, New York, wrote in a National Council of Young Israels D’var Torah on Parshat Vayakhel on 25 Adar I, 5755 — 25 February, 1995:

The imperative “six days you shall labor” tells us that in all that one does one should strive to have The Creator in mind…. We see that the subjects addressed in the pasuk, the six days and Shabbat, are really based on one theme. Because it is only when creation is perceived as a sanctuary of Hashem that our abstention from the labors of the Mishkan mirrors the Creator’s abstention [on Shabbos] from creating the universe.

But there are questions: Was Vayakhel — the assembling of the entirety of Am Yisrael, and the learning of the halachot (Torah laws) of Shabbos meant only as a Mitzvah in the times of Moshe Rabbeinu and the building of the Mishkan, as well as during the period of the Malchei Yisrael? Or were both Vayakhel and the laws of Shabbos also meant to have application for B’nai Yisrael throughout our travails in Galut through to our current troubled times where divisiveness, me-first self-centeredness, ego, envy, self-desire, feelings of superiority over one’s fellow and more all carry the consequence of indifference and insensitivity toward one’s fellow Jews? Were Vayakhel and the laws of Shabbos meant to apply as mussar regarding one’s tendency to pursue their self-interests and their self-aggrandizement amidst a bitter war against murderous Arab terror which threatens to destroy us from within in ways that the Arabs alone would never be able to accomplish were we truly “Adat B’nai Yisrael”?

Back in the “Old Country”, this author recalls that Kiruv Rabbanim placed heavy emphasis on Shabbos as the embarkation point — the beginning of one’s teshuvah journey to come close, to come closer to HaKadosh Borchu. However, recalling past history of the past approximately 120 years, Shabbos seemed a point of disembarkment. When the Jews emigrated to America in large numbers around the turn of the 20th century and had difficulty finding parnossa in their new residence: when the work was a six day job (before laws were passed regarding the five day work-week), the newly arrived Jew found himself with a huge test of emunah (faith) and hishtadlut (expending effort) — keep Shabbos, or earn money to feed, clothe and house one’s family. It was a tough call for many and many failed the test. The results of this test, failed by many, were that after crying rivers of tears, they gradually distanced themselves from Hashem. The weight of the test led many to working on Shabbos, then to eating non-kosher food, to secular marriage without marriage ketubot, to generations with little or no Torah footing or learning, and ultimately to inter-marriage and more. All of this has evolved to where we are today — massive numbers of Jews in America are distant from Torah, despite the mushrooming kiruv movement of the past nearly 50 years, and huge numbers of offspring of the burgeoning inter-marriage rate who are NOT Jewish and thus, are lost to Judaism.

Rabbi Yormark adds in his D’var Torah on Parshat Vayakhel:

Shabbat is not merely ‘a day off’…. It is not merely a day where there are so many things that I cannot do. It is a day when the Jew enters the realm of The One Above. It is a day when the the theme is Oneg, pleasure and delight. It is a day where even our indulging in physical pleasure can be elevated and becomes an integral part of mirroring Hashem. It is a day when concern for mundane and ephemeral pursuits is inappropriate…. Shabbat is a Matanah Tovah — a very special gift.

To segui into Parsha Pekudei, just as Shabbos is very special, so was Moshe Rabbeinu, despite whatever the cronic complainers in the camp said. Our Parsha should serve as a paradigm lesson for both today’s secular Israeli government leaders, as well as religious communal leaders in honesty, morality, accountability and transparency.

Our Parsha Pekudei begins;

“These are the accounts of the Mishkan (the Sanctuary), the Mishkan of testimony, which were drawn up on Moshe’s orders …” (Shemos, Perek 38, posuk 21 — Metsudah Linear Chumash, page 579).

In short, Pekudei is the accountant’s parsha, the parsha of crunching the numbers.

The Sefer L’lmod U’Lamed on our parsha asks what the primary reason was for Moshe’s detailed accounting of the costs of the construction of the Mishkan. The Sages tell that “there were apparently some who suspected that Moshe might have kept some … contributions for his own use.” (Parsha Pekudei, pages 97-98).

The Sefer “The Midrash Says” (pages 357-360) notes that Moshe Rabbeinu overheard mutterings among certain people, presumably sinful individuals such as Dasan and Aviram, who cast aspersions upon Moshe’s honesty regarding the allocation of the people’s donations.

According to “The Midrash Says”, comments were heard such as:

“Of late, Ben Amram’s neck is very fat! ….No wonder; he is in charge of all that money for the Mishkan!”

Therefore, Moshe committed himself to account for the allocation and purpose of everything donated toward the construction of the Mishkan.

“The Midrash Says” (page 357) then relates that not only did Moshe account for all donations, but he “… gave his calculations to a second person, Ithamar Ben Aharon, for verification.” Perhaps this was the first real paradigm of oversight: a Delloite-Touche CPA-like audit.

The irony here is that when the jewelry and gold were collected for making the Chait HaEigel, no accountability or transparency, no source and allocation of donations was demanded from those who compelled the Eigel. However, when the donations came in and the Mishkan was constructed, many demanded and expected such accountability and transparency from Moshe Rabbeinu. Today, we see pretty much the same ironies in the Israel judiciary’s dual standards of prosecution of those who act on behalf of Eretz Yisrael, those who make their homes on Jewish property, on Jewish land, vs (for instance) labor union protestors who disrupt and block traffic in strong-arming through their agendas.

Moshe Rabbeinu was the model of, and set the standard for accountability, oversight and transparency of leadership. One would definitely find no grounds for accusing him of pocketing the shekalim for returning empty bottles or for using an inordinate amount of national funds on the upkeep of his residence.

Moshe is, for all times, the prototype of a true Jewish Leader — humble, modest, without desire for self-aggrandizement and self-enrichment. He set the standard for how Real Jewish Leadership must lead. His first and foremost thought was for the welfare and well-being of his nation — the B’nai Yisrael. Moshe Rabbeinu was above corruption and self-enrichment. As goes an old political commercial: Nobody owned him as he could not be bought.

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brethren Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
Good Shabbos!
_______________________________________
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Ki Tisa 5775: Rising Above Differences for the Sake of The Almighty

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, February 28th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Ki Tisa is being sponsored by Tzvi and Shari Gherman of Ramat Beit Shemesh in honor of their son Aharon Laib Shalom’s Bar Mitzvah. To the Gherman 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 Ki Tisa 5775: Rising Above Differences for the Sake of The Almighty

by Moshe Burt

Midway in our Parshat Ki Tisa, we learn that Hashem informed Moshe of B’nai Yisrael’s sin with the Egel Zahav (the golden calf) and sent Moshe down from Har Sinai. When Moshe heard that the people had brought burnt and peace offerings to the egel, and saw their revelry as they sang and danced around it, he called for supporters to rally, and the Levi’im immediately responded.

Torah records in our Parsha that Moshe conveyed to the Levi’im:

“So said Hashem the G’d of Israel, ‘Let them place, every man, his sword on his thigh, and pass back and forth from gate to gate in the camp; and let them kill, every man his brother, every man his fellow, every man his relative.’” The Levi’im did according to the word of Moshe… (Sefer Sh’mos, Perek 32, posukim 27-28)

Rashi notes on Sefer Sh’mos, Perek 32, posuk 27 referring back to Perek 22, posuk 19:

“He who sacrifices to the gods shall be put to death.”

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his Sefer “Growth Through Torah”, hits on theme to “Forego your personal prejudices for the honor of The Almighty.” He cites Sefer Sh’mos, Perek 32, posuk 26 and comments:

“And Moshe stood at the gate of the camp and he said, ‘Whoever is for the Almighty come to me.’ And all of the descendants of Levi gathered unto him.”

The Chasam Sofer notes that the Torah emphasizes the word “all,” every member of the tribe of Levi came to Moshe. This included Korach and those Levi’im who later followed him (Korach). Even though they were greatly displeased with Moshe, when it came to the honor of the Almighty they joined him to fight for the Almighty. (Toras Moshe)

This has practical applications. There are many times in one’s life when one is called upon to make a similar decision. There will be people whom one might envy or feel have taken a position above others that they do not deserve. But what they presently want to do is clearly positive. One might have mixed feelings about joining with them for a cause or a project. One’s only consideration should be whether what one is doing is consistent with the honor of the Almighty.

The lesson learned from the unanimous support given Moshe by the Levi’im in acting for the Almighty seems readily apparent as extended, in the context of contemporary governance of Israel, to the ongoing political contest leading to elections in March and the ongoing war against the Arab/Islamic enemy sworn to nothing less than Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication.

One may not be inclined to vote for the party of the incumbent prime minister and may be totally opposed to almost everything he stands for. But does that mean that one need oppose that head of government who is trying to take steps to protect the country against the universally recognized (by all Jews) nuclear threat posed by the most powerful of Israel’s sworn enemies? Does it mean making political spin and bogus gain out of the false controversy created by Barack Hussein Obama over an Israeli prime minister’s upcoming address before a joint session of the United States Congress? By false controversy, consider recent disclosures regarding the inaccuracies and mis-characterization of the New York Times regarding the invite to Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress on the ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran:

When John Boehner announced that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu had accepted his invitation to address Congress, the Obama Administration reacted strongly. The criticism was not directed primarily at Boehner, who apparently did not inform the White House of the invitation until shortly before it was formally delivered, and may have acted unconstitutionally in delivering it, but against Netanyahu, for breaching diplomatic protocol by accepting the invitation from Boehner without prior coordination with the Administration.

The story of Netanyahu’s perfidy grew to the extent that the New York Times reported, incorrectly, that Netanyahu accepted the invitation before the White House had been informed of it. The Times then issue the following correction. “An earlier version of this article misstated when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel accepted Speaker John A. Boehner’s invitation to address Congress. He accepted after the administration had been informed of the invitation, not before.”

This correction has circulated in conservative and pro-Israel circles, but doesn’t seem to have led to any followup, or any investigation by those who initially reported the opposite. Were senior White House aides exaggerating the story, or did the Times get caught up in its own anti-Netanyahu narrative? Or perhaps the Times was failing to distinguish between Netanyahu’s formal acceptance after the White House had been notified, and White House anger that the details of the visit had been worked out before notification to the White House, meaning that Netanyahu was planning to accept the invitation before the White House knew about it.

Let’s hope that none of this winds up interfering with what everyone seems to agree is the ultimate goal here, which is to prevent the terrorist state of Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

The crucial question is, Are the Israeli political, intelligencia and media “elites” capable of learning, accepting, intellectualizing and actuating the lesson of the Levi’im answering the Almighty’s call for the good of Am Yisrael, despite their political, or distorted “ideological” differences? Or are these “elites” sooo blinded to realities that they will continue to pursue their agendas regardless of the national consequences and peril of their actions.

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear 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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