Parshat Emor 5778: The Purity of One’s Learning and Sanctification of Hashem’s Name

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, April 21st, 2018 by moshe | Comments Off



Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshiyot HaShevua Emor is being sponsored by Seth and Ester Grossman and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated Lilui Nishmas for Seth’s Father Dovid ben Menachem Munish. To the Grossman 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 Emor 5778: The Purity of One’s Learning and Sanctification of Hashem’s Name

by Moshe Burt

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

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

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

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

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

Thus, we learn again that one of the attributes of a Kohen is to serve as a paradigm of how a Jew is treat his brethren. Referring to a point made in a previous Parshat HaShevua, Tzav, the sefer “Torah Gems”, by Aharon Yaakov Greenberg (page 254) cites R’ Menachem Mendl of Kotzk to explain the use of the word “mokdah” regarding the first reference to the Altar in our opening posukim:

The word used for “Altar” [Mizbeiyach] here is “mokdah”, and by tradition, the letter “mem” in “mokdah” is smaller than the other letters. This teaches… that the burning enthusiasm one has for Torah study and prayer should not be visible to all, but must remain deep in the heart, in the depths of one’s soul.

Our Parsha opens in this way:

“Hashem said to Moshe: Say to the Kohanim, the sons of Aaron and tell them…” (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 21, posuk 1 as rendered to English in the Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash)

The sefer “Torah Gems”, by Aharon Yaakov Greenberg (page 323) cites Rashi on this posuk:

“Speak” and “say” — To admonish the big ones about the little ones. This is an admonition to the leaders of the nation to humble themselves and not lord it over the people.

Rav Zelig Pliskin expands on the above ideas in his sefer, “Growth Through Torah” in citing Sefer Vayikra, Perek 22, posukim 31-32 as well as in citing The Chasam Sofer, Rashi and Yoma 86a: Toras Moshe) on posuk 31 (page 284-285):

“You shall observe My commandments and perform them, I am Hashem. You shall not desecrate My holy Name, rather I should be sanctified among the B’nei Yisrael: I am Hashem Who sanctifies you.” (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 22, posukim 31-32 as rendered to English in the Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash)

A person who studies Torah must strive to interact with others on an elevated level.

The Chasam Sofer commented that verse 31 is an introduction to verse 32. Rashi states [in citing the posuk] that “you shall observe My commandments” refers to studying Torah… Therefore the Torah immediately warns those who study Torah against chilul Hashem, desecration of Hashem’s Name, and obliges those who study to make a kiddush Hashem, a sanctification of Hashem’s Name. The behavior of anyone who studies Torah should be on such a level that it will be an expression of the sanctity of Hashem. People who observe those who study Torah should be able to say that the Torah gives those who study it much wisdom and promotes excellence in their daily behavior. (Yoma 86a: Toras Moshe)

This author gleens from all of the above citings that the sanctification of Hashem’s Name necessitates that Torah study and prayer should be accomplished with purity of heart and mind and should be viewed by others, including by one’s learning partners, as with modesty and humility, free of ulterior motives, lust for kavod, desire for credit or notoriety, or “lording it over” others..

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

Good Shabbos!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshiyot Acharei Mos/Kedoshim 5778: The Kohen Gadol and His White Garments on Yom Kippur

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, April 14th, 2018 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

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

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshiyot Acharei Mos/Kedoshim 5778: The Kohen Gadol and His White Garments on Yom Kippur

by Moshe Burt

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

Just as Parshiyot Tazria and Metzora are extensions of each other, visa vi Tumah and Ta’Hara regarding post-birth, regarding skin, hair, clothing or regarding one’s home or building; Acharei Mos and Kedoshim are extensions of each other regarding Kohanim, Yom Kippur, the Kohen’s Yom Kippur avodah in the Kodosh Kedoshim and the Kohanic model of Darchim, which ideally the entire B’nai Yisrael would embrace and exhibit as a paradigm, as model, as a light for all mankind.

In turn, Sefer Shem Mishmuel (by R’ Shmuel Bornstein, as translated by R’ Zvi Belovski, page 247-248) explains the spiritual attributes of the Kohen which make him the character and moral paradigm for Am Yisrael to follow:

His [the Kohen's] focus in life is on the concealed, internal aspects of spiritual development. Although in comparison with the other nations of the world, Klal Yisrael is very much focused away from the external trappings of life and toward the private aspects of existence, the Kohanim are even more directed toward this mind-set. One could say that if Yisrael are world experts in this field, then the Kohanim are the experts among the experts.

….The essential difference between the Kohanim and the rest of Klal Yisrael was… that the focus of the Kohanim was more inward.

Torah devotes two entire perakim (Sefer Vayikra, Perachim 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).

Torah tells that Hashem spoke to Moshe in our Parshat Acharei Mos:

“Speak to Aaron, your brother — he shall not come at all times into the Sanctuary [Kadosh Kadoshim], within the Curtain, in front of the Cover that is upon the Ark [Aron HaKodesh], so that he shall not die; for in a cloud will I appear upon the Ark-cover [Perochet].” (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 16, posuk 2 as rendered to English in the Artscroll Stone Chumash)

Torah then teaches about the Kohen’s garb upon entering the Kadosh Kadoshim on Yom Kippur:

“He shall don a sacred linen Tunic: linen breeches shall be upon his flesh, he shall gird himself with a linen Sash, and cover his head with a linen Turban; they are sacred vestments — he shall immerse in water and then don them.” (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 16, posuk 4 as rendered to English in the Artscroll Stone Chumash)

The Artscroll Stone Chumash (page 637) provides commentary on these special vestments worn by the Kohen Godol in the Kadosh Kadoshim on Yom Kippur during special portions of the Kohen Gadol’s service:

The white vestments were worn only on Yom Kippur, and even then only for special portions of the service… e.g., the special incense service that is burned in the Kadosh Kadoshim and the service of his bull and the national he-goat-sin-offering.

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

Shem Mishmuel first cites gemora Rosh HaShannah 26a:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thus, we learn the Halacha that Aharon HaKohen Godol, and every subsequent Kohen Godol wore white vestments when serving in the Kodosh Kedoshim and atoning for the nation on Yom Kippur. And we learn that Aharon HaKohen Godol was THE paradigm, the role model for every subsequent Kohen Godol to emulate in order that the masses of Am Yisrael throughout the generations would follow suit, and l’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.

One of the main themes underlying Parsha Kedoshim is the loving care with which each Jew l’chatchila is to treat his Jewish brother. Indeed, we see that the first posuk of our Parsha conveys that spirit:

“Hashem spoke to Moshe saying, “Speak to the entire assembly of B’nai Yisrael and say to them: You shall be holy, for holy am I, Hashem, your G’d.” (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 19, posuk 1)

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

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

Sadly, in our times, V’ohavta L’rei’acha Komochah often is lacking amongst B’nai Yisrael, supplanted by “Me”, “Mine”,“my convenience”, “Me first” on individual levels as well as on a national level. One might add to this list mindsets representative of disunity, division, polarization between sectors, senseless hatred, i.e. “my group and to heck with yours.”

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

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

Chodesh Tov and Good Shabbos!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshiyot Tazria, Metzora 5778: Why the Kohen as Determinant Between Tumah and Tahara?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, April 7th, 2018 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

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

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshiyot Tazria, Metzora 5778: Why the Kohen as Determinant Between Tumah and Tahara?

by Moshe Burt

In learning about the laws of tzara’as, we learn of the Kohen’s role in differentiating between Ta’amei and Tahara on an individual’s skin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Torah relates in our Parsha (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 13; posukim 3-5 as rendered to English in the Artscroll Stone Chumash):

“The Kohen shall look at the affliction on the skin of his [the individual's] flesh: if the hair in the affliction has changed to white, and the affliction appearance is deeper than the skin of the flesh — it is a tzara’as affliction; the Kohen shall look at it and declare him contaminated [tamei].” (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 13; posuk 3)

“If it is a white baheres [spot] on the skin of his flesh, and its appearance is not deeper than the skin, and its hair has not changed to white, then the Kohen shall quarantine the affliction for a seven-day period. The Kohen shall look at it on the seventh day, and behold! — the affliction retained its color, and the affliction did not spread on the skin, then the Kohen shall quarantine it for a second seven-day period.” (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 13; posukim 4-5)

Finally Torah relates (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 13; posuk 6 as rendered to English in the Artscroll Stone Chumash):

“The Kohen shall look at it again on the seventh day, and behold! — if the affliction has dimmed and… has not spread on the skin, then the Kohen shall delare him pure, it is a mispachas ["a scab" as rendered in "Torah Gems" volume 2, by Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, page 286]; he shall immerse his garments and become pure.”

“Torah Gems” volume 2, by Aharon Yaakov Greenberg (page 286-287) provides a citing explaining Perek 13; posuk 6:

If a patient’s condition has not become worse, a friend will say that he is getting better. Inn the circumstances, an enemy will say… there is no improvement… a sign that the patient is deteriorating. Neither is lying or exaggerating, but each reads into the situation what he wishes to. The Kohen, on the other hand, must be merciful. If the condition has not deteriorated, he must deduce that conditions are improving, and must pronounce the person clean. (source of citing: P.Y.)

Torah then explains:

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

In previous years, this Pashat HaShevua has discussed the individual and national equation of these latter posukim for the Jews in contemporary times.

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer, “Growth Through Torah” (page 256), cites Sforno in explaining why the Kohen determines Tumah or Tahara:

The Torah requires a Kohen to be the one to make the decision about whether a person is afflicted with tzara’as. This is because the Kohanim are spiritual people who taught wisdom to others. They would be able to advise those afflicted to check through their behavior and to correct their faults. They would also teach the person how to pray to the Almighty for help. Moreover, the Kohanim themselves would pray for the welfare of the person.

Sefer Shem Mishmuel (by R’ Shmuel Bornstein, as translated by R’ Zvi Belovski, page 247-248) provides further explanation as to the spiritual attribute of the Kohen as determinant of Tumah and Tahara:

His [the Kohen's] focus in life is on the concealed, internal aspects of spiritual development. Although in comparison with the other nations of the world, Klal Yisrael is very much focused away from the external trappings of life and toward the private aspects of existence, the Kohanim are even more directed toward this mind-set. One could say that if Yisrael are world experts in this field, then the Kohanim are the experts among the experts.

….The essential difference between the Kohanim and the rest of Klal Yisrael was… that the focus of the Kohanim was more inward.

Since we don’t have the Beit HaMikdash and, thus there is no Kohanic service therein and, therefore no tzara’as affliction of skin, clothes, homes, etc., R’ Pliskin, in his sefer, “Growth Through Torah” (page 256) provides advice for an individual to whom Hashem has sent an affliction — physical or otherwise:

Find a spiritual guide who will be able to point out areas in which… [one] can improve…, ask him for advice on what to pray for and ask him to pray for you. Those who follow this procedure will gain much from their suffering.

Undoubtedly, this formula works for the Kol Klal Yisrael, as well as for the indivdual.

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

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Shemini 5778: Aaron’s Humility, Shame Over the Egel Zahav, and His Consistency of Service

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Friday, March 30th, 2018 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Shemini is dedicated Lilui Nishmas for My Mother: Chaya bat Zalman on her 3rd Yahrtzeit. She was niferet on 22 Nissan 5775.

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

Parshat Shemini 5778: Aaron’s Humility, Shame Over the Egel Zahav, and His Consistency of Service

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).

Torah tells us:

“Moshe said to Aaron: Come near to the Mizbeiyach and perform the service of your sin-offering and your elevation-offering and provide atonement for yourself and for the people; then perform the service of the people’s offering and provide atonement for them, as Hashem has commanded.” (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 9, posuk 7 as rendered to English in the Artscroll, Stone Edition Chumash)

Both s’forim “Growth Through Torah”, by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin and “Torah Gems”, Volume 2, by Aharon Yaakov Greenberg provide slightly differing citings which indicate that Aaron HaKohen Godol was initially hesitant about his service:

Rabbi Yitzchok of Volozhin explained: Aaron in his humility felt that he was unworthy to be the High Priest of the Jews. This is exactly what makes you worthy of being the High Priest, replied Moshe. The attribute of humility is so precious that because you have this trait you were chosen to be the High Priest. (“Growth Through Torah,” page 246, cited from footnote to Ruach Chayim 4:1, “Torah Gems”, Volume 2, by Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, page 266 citing Rashi)

When you try to accomplish in spiritual matters as a leader or teacher, you might say to yourself. “I realize how little I know. I am aware of my faults. How can I possibly serve in this position?” But as long as you are sincere in your efforts and are aware of your deficiencies, your humility is exactly the trait that makes you fit for the job. (ibid, “Growth Through Torah,” page 246)

The Midrash says that the korbon looked to him [Aaron] like a calf, and that is why he hesitated…. Aaron just could not forget the episode of the egel zahav [and presumably his role], and the sin kept haunting him. That is why what he saw on the [Mizbeiyach] altar looked to him to be a calf. Moshe therefore said to him: “It is for this that you were chosen” — it is just you always remember your sin and are ashamed of it, that you were chosen to be the High Priest. (“Torah Gems”, Volume 2, by Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, page 266)

But the alignment of these two Parshiyot — Tzav and Shemini, 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 relate to Aaron’s constancy and consistency of service over the succeeding forty years, of his humility, modesty and selflessness, his seriousness and relentlessness as on his very first day of service, as well his pursuit and performance of Mitzvot and 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, Parsha Shemini, page 108)

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

Good Shabbos!
_______________________________________

Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Dayenu 5778: Measure for Measure for Resting on Laurels, or Back-Sliding and Hypocrisy

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Friday, March 23rd, 2018 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This year’s Pesach vort is being sponsored by Avraham and Miriam Deutsch and family of Efrat dedicated lilui nishmas for his Father: Mordechai ben Avraham Aba and Sara and for his Mother: Sara Rotza bat Tzion bat Avraham Yaakov and Chaya Leah. To the Deutsch family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring 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 5778: Measure for Measure for Resting on Laurels, or Back-Sliding and Hypocrisy

by, Moshe Burt

This year will mark twenty-three years, and my twentieth Pesach in Eretz Yisrael, in which I have emailed this rendition of Dayenu quoted from the book “Dear Brothers” by former Arutz Sheva columnist Haggai Segal, as it has become tradition with me from prior to my Aliyah.

Each year, this author tries to touch on factors, insights and lessons, learned or needing relearning, which affect the state of B’nai Yisrael — right here and right now.

As we approach Pesach 5778, it seems to this author that this quoted rendition of “Dayenu” is as vital now as it was in the first year that I emailed this vort out or, for that matter, as vital as when it was quoted in Segal’s compilation of the book in its copyright year 1988.

In the Book “Dear Brothers”, the story is told how Pesach 5728 (1968) was approaching when the first group of Pioneers endeavored to establish themselves in Chevron. Among this 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 and at the Seder:

“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 and is, 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, back-slide, to not only relinquish that already achieved, but to possibly project hypocrisy in the eyes of the nations rather than the light of Hashem’s nation.

What is meant here?

This vort cites these excerpts from “The Measure for Measure Haggadah,” published Mosad HaRav Kook and rendered to English by Rabbi Yonatan Pachas (pages xviii-xix, xx-xxi):

Although it is easy to notice open miracles, our duty is to also see and believe that everything that happens to us is guided by a hidden hand. Ramban tells us: “…From the great, publicized miracles, a person acknowledges the hidden miracles which are the foundation of the entire Torah, for a person has no share in the Torah of Moshe our teacher unless he believes that all our affairs and incidents are miracles; there is no element of nature and ‘the ordinary course of the world’ in them, whether in public or private. Rather, if one does mitzvot, his reward will make him successful and if one transgresses the mitzvot, his punishment will cut him off, all by the decree of The Most High.”

…Our sages teach us that there is one way to openly perceive Hashem’s hidden guidance of the world; “With the measure that a person measures, so is measured to him (Sotah 8b)…. “The hidden things are for Hashem, our G’d, and the revealed are for us and for our sons forever, to do all the words of this Torah” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 29, posuk 28). Many surprising and seemingly senseless events remain in the realm of “the hidden things” that only Hashem knows. Sometimes we tangibly understand that certain experiences are “revealed” and clearly display Hashem’s attribute of measure for measure. It is then that we are filled with emotion and cry out: “This was Hashem’s Hand.”

Rashi comments: “By the Command of The Most High”: If you attempt to say that this evil did not come tome from His Hand, that it is happenstance that it has befallen me, this is not so, for both evil… and good occurrences — Who has commanded and they come to pass, unless Hashem ordained [them]? And by His Command both evil and good come.

The Malbim (Divrei HaYamim II 15:2) writes: “The Providence of Above is drawn down according to the deeds of the people below according to their qualities. If you are Hashem’s nation, He will be with you and care for you; and if you search after Him even more, adding to your searching and thinking about Him and exerting yourself in His service, He will provide you with more and more beneficence and good. And conversely, if you leave Him, He will leave you because all depends on your deeds.”

There is measure for measure concerning our limbs: the limb that sins is punished. The same applies to place and time: punishment or reward will be given in a commensurate place or time. If one sins or does mitzvot with objects, he will be rewarded or punished with his inanimate possessions.

If groups of people sin together, they will be punished together as one group.

And so, we see, for example, the posukim we learn in Parshat Masei; “Hashem spoke to Moshe… by the Jordan, at Yericho” (Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer BaMidbar, Perek 33, posuk 50) telling him to speak to the B’nai Yisrael and tell them;

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

We suffer yet today these pins and thorns of a bogus so-called “people”, “nation” — “Palestinians” because we did not fully drive out the inhabitants in the times of Tanach and, in our times, we did not truly acquire and possess the land — Yehuda and the Shomron which we conquered in the Six Day War. And we have not, in fifty-one years, acted to develop programs and financial packages to transfer these people, the Arabs — the so-called “Palestinians”, to other venues outside of Eretz Yisrael which could accommodate them. Instead, we opted for Westernized “morality” and political correctness, where these nomads have attained status of “peoplehood,” “nationhood” in the eyes of the nations, i.e. “two-states.” This is what is meant by relinquishing that already achieved.

And possibly projecting hypocrisy in the eyes of the nations rather than the light of Hashem’s nation: Just as in the times of Tanach where our Leaders and masses backslid and fell out of Hashem’s grace repeatedly, our governmental leadership visits foreign nations bare-headed and frequents treif restaurants and locales. The nations see our news and videos of bare-headed Israeli leaders as well as desecrations of Shabbos via railway repairs, via food markets and other business, transporting mass publics, etc. The nations see Israel’s government as not acquiring, owning and possessing Our Land and, therefore see us as having stolen the Land from the Arabs– when the true aim of the Arabs, of Islam is to push the Jews into the sea and eradicate us.

Not withstanding both President Trump’s public commitment and preparations to move the Embasy to Jerusalem and Deputy Foreign Minister Hotovely’s announcements that several other countries are considering such Embassy moves, again, the last line of Moshe Shamir’s Dayanu vort of fifty years ago:

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

Good Yom Tov, Good Shabbos! 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 5778: The Olah, the Kohen, His Financial Loss, and Emphasis on Zealousness of Service

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, March 17th, 2018 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshiyot HaShevua, Tzav is being sponsored by Dr. Dov and Debbie Rosen and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for the success of their chldren. To the Rosen family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Tzav 5778: The Olah, the Kohen, His Financial Loss, and Emphasis on Zealousness of Service

by Moshe Burt

The Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash renders translation of the opening posukim of our Parshat:

“Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying: Command [Tzav] Aaron and his sons, saying: This is the law of the elevation [Olah] offering: It is the elevation offering [that stays] on the flame on the Mokdah [Altar, in this context], all night until the morning, and the fire of the Mizbeiyach should be kept aflame on it.” (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 6, posukim 1-2)

The sefer “Torah Gems”, by Aharon Yaakov Greenberg (page 254) cites R’ Menachem Mendl of Kotzk to explain the use of the word “mokdah” regarding the first reference to the Altar in our opening posukim:

The word used for “Altar” here is “mokdah”, and by tradition, thr letter “mem” in “mokdah” is smaller than the other letters. This teaches… that the burning enthusiasm one has for Torah study and prayer should not be visible to all, but must remain deep in the heart, in the depths of one’s soul.

Just a note here: other translations, such as that in the sefer “Torah Gems” Volume 2, by Aharon Yaakov Greenberg (page 252), render the Olah offering as the Burnt offering. Explanation of the significance of the use of the term “Burnt offering” will appear shortly.

In our Parsha, Tzav is Moshe’s command from Hashem to Aaron HaKohen and his sons 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.

We are taught in our Parsha about the two flames which burn continuously; the flickering light of the Menorah and the powerful flame of the Mizbeiyach (the altar where the various offerings to Hashem were brought). These two flames which burned constantly teach us that a balance must exist between strength and power and modesty and humility. These fires teach us about maintaining a consistency between enthusiasm and constancy. (citing L’lmod Ul’Lamed, Rabbi Mordechai Katz, Parsha Tzav, pages 103-104)

The Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash (page 568) explains our Parshat’s title: Tzav in this way:

Tzav — Command. Up to now, commandments regarding the offerings were introduced with “Amartah” = say (Sefer Varikra Perek 1, posuk 2) or “Dabeir” = speak. The Sages explain that the more emphatic term, “Tzav” = command, implies that the Kohanim are being urged to be especially zealous in performing this service, and that this exhortation must be repeated constantly to future generations (citing Sifra: Kiddushin 29a). R’ Shimon adds that this exhortation is especially relevant to commandments that involve a monetary loss, such as the Olah, elevation-offering, of our posuk.

That is to say that Hashem demands consistency between enthusiasm and constancy of service as well as constant diligence in following of the sequence of service, as Divinely outlined — exactly to the letter.

The Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash (ibid) goes on to explain “monetary loss” as it relates to the Kohanim, seemingly explaining the significance of the use of the term “Burnt offering”:

In order to perform this… [offering] service, Kohanim must give up their regular means of earning a livelihood. This financial sacrifice is particularly acute in the case of an elevation-offering, from which the Kohanim receive nothing, since all of its meat is burned on the Mizbeiyach. Even though its hide goes to the Kohanim, that is hardly sufficient to make up for their loss of income. (citing Gur Aryeh)

According to Ramban, the “monetary loss” refers not to the service of the offering but to the financial burden of an offering… Every Kohen must bring a meal-offering on the first day of his service in the Beit HaMikdash, and a Kohen Gadol must bring a similar offering every single day.

The Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash renders to English Sefer Vayikra, Perek 6, posuk 13 and further explains the previous paragraph (page 561):

“This is the offering of Aaron and his sons, which each shall offer Hashem on the day he is inaugurated: a tenth-ephah of fine flour as a continual meal-offering [Mincha Tamid]… half of it in the morning and half of it in the afternoon.”

Mincha Kohen/The priestly meal-offering. This meal-offering is offered on three occasions: Every Kohen must offer it once in his lifetime — the first time he performs the service in the Beit HaMikdash; The Kohen Gadol must offer it when he assumes office and every day thereafter [thus, the term "Tamid" = continual].

And so we learn that our collective service of Hashem, as with the Kohanic service in the Beit HaMikdash, must be consistently enthusiastic,zealous and constant.

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

Good Shabbos HaGadol!
_______________________________________

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 5778: Moshe, Modesty and Humility and the High-Bar Paradigm for Am Yisrael

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, March 10th, 2018 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshiyot HaShevua, Vayikra is being sponsored by Steven and Debra Glanz and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for the success of their chldren. 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 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 Vayikra 5778: Moshe, Modesty and Humility and the High-Bar Paradigm for Am Yisrael

by Moshe Burt

R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z’l in the new Hirsch Chumash (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Rabbi Daniel Haberman) renders translation of our Parsha’s opening posuk:

“And He called to Moshe, and Hashem spoke to him from the Tent of Appointed Meeting [Mei-Ohel Mo'ed], saying:” (Hirsch Chumash, Sefer Vayikra, page 1, Perek 1, posuk 1)

Rebbetzin Shira Smiles, [a resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel] cites in her sefer “Torah Tapestries,” (Sefer Vayikra page 5) both Rashi and Rabbi Shimshon Dovid Pincus regarding calling one’s name as background for Hashem’s expression of “Vayikra” — Hashem’s gentle, loving calls to Moshe for private meetings:

The opening phrase “vayikra el Moshe” teaches us that Hashem called to Moshe by his name. Rashi explains that the alef at the end of the word “vayikra” comes to emphasize how Hashem spoke lovingly to Moshe….

Rabbi Shimshon Dovid Pincus elaborates on the idea that calling someone by name is an expression of love…

The giving of a name does not stem from a general parental love. Rather, it is an expression of personal, individual love. Each child in a family is unique and is granted a specific name, exclusive to him. Every son or daughter is individually loved for the distinctive qualities he or she embodies.

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)

This brings us to the point being made by Hashem in the very first posuk of Sefer Vayikra and the lessons to be learned, acquired and applied in our times.

Moshe, always shirking honor, kavod, special treatment, or the perception of special treatment, fought “tooth to nail” that this first word of our Parshat, the word which would come to typify Hashem’s greeting when he wanted to speak privately with him in the Mishkan, should read “Vayikar.” 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 which sets a high-bar paradigm for individuals and for national leadership for all time.

That loshen “Vayikar” was later used when Hashem “happened to meet [the evil] Bila’am” (Rashi on Sefer Vayikra, Perek 1, posuk 1) in Parsha Balak. Hashem’s communication with the haughty Bila’am can be likened to the theme of an American TV series of yesteryear; “…strangers who just met on the way”.

Of course, Hashem’s wish for “Vayikra” carried the day, although He made the concession of the small “aleph.”

Rashi’s understanding of the dialogue between Moshe and Hashem surrounding “Vayikra” speaks volumes about the Dar’chim, the ways of humility, modesty and selflessness of Moshe Rabbeinu; his total dedication to Hashem and to the people he leads, the B’nei Yisrael.

But let kindness and humility not be confused with weakness, for we learn that Moshe Rabbeinu was a strong, yet just leader.

In his Sefer “Majesty of Man”, Rabbi A. Henach Leibowitz writes on our Parsha citing Rabbeinu Yonah’s explanation of the cause of haughtiness (pages 166-167):

Through this [understanding the cause of haughtiness] we can better understand its converse — humility.

…Often a person feels himself lacking in knowledge or a certain quality. To compensate for this inferiority complex — small as it it may be — he denigrates his peers to make himself seem better in his own eyes. This process may take place exclusively on a subconscious level or may be manifested outwardly. In other words, haughtiness, insolence and pride are actually derived from the opposite feelings: inferiority, insignificance and shame. One who feels confident in himself has no need to denigrate others or to represent himself as
something other than [who] he truly is.

From Rabbeinu Yonah we see that the essence of humility is the realistic understanding of one’s own worth.

Moshe Rabbeinu was not only the greatest man of his time, but the greatest man of all time. Yet, the Torah tells us that he was the humblest man. This paradox existed within him because he knew his true value. He did not underestimate himself and therefore had no need to overestimate himself. We must realize that each of us has a soul given to us directly from Hashem. Our potential for achievement is immeasurable.

If we understand our potential as human beings we can then feel the self-confidence needed to be humble.

This may not be a prime example of the type of humility and realistic understanding of one’s own worth on a Torah level. As this vort was being compiled, this author is ten days removed from having watched the NFL Superbowl.

One team pulled together in unity, as they had all season. Despite a string of potentially devastating injuries which brought the football media pundits to predict doom for the team in playoffs through the Superbowl, they pulled together with humility, selflessness; the coaches, the injured and their replacements, in total unity subordinating any possible individual motivations toward the common team goal: winning each playoff game and the Superbowl to become the world champions.

And so, when the Big Game was played against what was a championship dynasty, and under relentless offensive attack, they didn’t cave or collapse in a heap. This team was at least equally or more relentless offensively and forced their opponents into the crucial late-game turnover which sealed victory.

There are lessons to be learned from Moshe’s strength, yet humility and selflessness for our time regarding individual interpersonal relations as well such relations on sectorial as well as academia, media and governmental leadership levels. When individuals, sectors show justness and humility L’Shem Shamayim rather than disunity, denigration, rivalry and/or physical violence toward one another; when they are capable of subordinating their individual needs or tendencies toward self or group aggrandizements or power on sectorial or national levels in order to achieve collective national unity, such unity and Torah justness project to the world a paradigm of the Jews as the light of Hashem’s ways unto the Nations.

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

Good Shabbos and Chodesh Tov!
_______________________________________

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 5778: The Mishkan — Unity, Continuing Teshuvah and Meticulous Mitzvot

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Friday, March 2nd, 2018 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Vayakhel/Pekudei is being sponsored by Dov and Bracha Moses for a refuah shlaima for Rachel bat Chaya Perel and lilui nishmas both Chaya Perel bat Chaim Mordechai and Yehudit bat HaRav Me’ir Moshe . To the Moses 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 Vayakhel/Pekudei 5778: The Mishkan — Unity, Continuing Teshuvah and Meticulous Mitzvot

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).

The parsha begins by stating that “Moshe assembled the entire congregation of B’nai Yisrael…” (Sefer Shemos, Perek 35, Posuk 1).

Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, in his sefer, “Torah Gems”, volume two, provides two citings explaining our this posuk:

…The second Beit Hamikdash was destroyed because of senseless hatred. Division and disputes always serve to undermine the foundations of social order. Therefore, before erecting the Mishkan, Moshe gathered together all of the Bnei Yisrael. The completion of the Mishkan depends upon the unity of the people. (Or Penei Moshe)

“Moshe assembled…” On the day after Yom Kippur (citing Rashi). Moshe wanted to hint to the Bnei Yisrael that not only on Yom Kippur must people be filled with remorse and contrition, brotherly love and friendship, but that on the day after Yom Kippur one must continue in the same fashion. (R’ Moshe of Kobrin)

The entire posuk reads:

“And Moshe assembled the entire congregation of B’nai Yisrael and said to them: ‘These are the things that Hashem commanded, to do them:’” (Sefer Shemos, Perek 35, Posuk 1)

“Torah Gems”, volume two, provides this citing:

People differ in their understanding and appreciation of different commandments. But when it comes to performing them, there is no difference — all have to perform them in the same way. (R’ David of Chortkow)

A few years ago, Rav Arye Gordon z”l of Ramat Beit Shemesh, formerly of South Africa, said of Parshat Vayakhel;

Vayakhel, when used for Tov, is to actualize immense power and potential which is capable of being used for the most lofty, noble goals — building, growing and developing love for our fellow Jews, Kavod shel Shemayim V’Torah (man’s recognition of Hashem’s control of the world and Torah as Hashem’s blueprint for man’s service).

Vayakhel, when used for rah, is capable of being used, Heaven forbid, to undermine and destroy. Or if the vehicle, Vayakhel is not used at all, the reticence and inability of Am Yisrael to come together and even talk about unity is something for which we all would be held accountable.

Mida keneged Mida, Vayakhel of our Parsha, by Moshe Rabbeinu’s emphasis on the holiness of Shabbat and his appeal for funds and donations toward the building of the Mishkan, he serves to bring about rectification of the previous misuse both of gathering together and of the donations of gold which went into the making of the avodah zora. The message of Parsha Vayakhel seems meant to atone for the Chait HaEigel.

Much later on, as the B’nai Yisrael is finally about to enter the Land of Israel after their 40 years in Bamidbar, Moshe calls together the Kahal in parsha Vayeilich to give over his final discourse on Torah and Halacha before his passing.

To segui into Parshat Pekudei, after Moshe brought Am Yisrael together along with the funds and material donations — gold, etc. which were made, Parshat Pekudei teaches about the performance of constructing the Mishkan as a paradigm for meticulously adhering to Hashem’s Commands.

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 …” (Sefer Shemos, Perek 38, posuk 21 — Metsudah Linear Chumash, page 579).

In searching through various s’forim while preparing this vort, this author stumbled upon an old National Council of Young Israel D’var Torah from twenty-three years ago by, of all people, our own Rabbi Harry Greenspan of Ramat Beit Shemesh, who was then Rav of Young Israel of Long Beach, California.

Within his Drash, Rav Greenspan discusses the numerous recurrences in Parshat Pekudei of the phrase: “as Hashem commanded Moshe”:

These words reoccur many times, says the Beis HaLevi to emphasize that which was rectified upon completion of the Mishkan. Our sin in seeking to approach Hashem while ignoring Torah law [via the Egel Zahav] was forgiven by performing this Mitzvah with meticulous observance of every detail, and by completing the most perfect edifice ever built by man.

….The phrase, “as commanded” is repeated eighteen times, corresponding to the eighteen Brachot of Shemonah Esrei. What do the Mishkan’s construction and Amidah have in common? Perhaps the answer is… as follows:

….The lesson of the Mishkan is…. if we sincerely desire to reach spiritual heights, to become true servants of The Holy One, we need to pray and perform all Mitzvot precisely according to the details recorded in the Shulchan Aruch. If we act in such a fashion, we can hope to receive (in our Shuls and homes) that which our ancestors experienced upon completion of the Mishkan: Hashem’s glorious presence [which] filled the Mishkan and thus was infused into Klal Yisrael.

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

Good Shabbos!
_______________________________________
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Ki Tisa 5778: The Two Sides of Stubbornness

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, February 24th, 2018 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parsha Ki Tisa is being sponsored Jonathan and Debbie Sassen in honor of their son Moshe Tuvia’s Bar Mitzvah. To the Sassen family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Ki Tisa 5778: The Two Sides of Stubbornness

by Moshe Burt

We learn that while Moshe was in Shemayim receiving and learning Torah from Hashem, part of B’nei Yisrael grew anxious and fearful since they had misunderstood Moshe’s explanation regarding the Forty Days and feared that he would not return.

The Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash renders translation of Sefer Shemot Perek 32, posuk 1 and provides explanation from Rashi (pages 493-495):

“The people saw that Moshe had delayed in descending the mountain, and the people gathered around Aaron and said to him, ‘Rise up, make for us gods that will go before us, for this man Moshe who brought us up from Egypt — we do not know what became of him!’”

The people thought that the day of Moshe’s ascent counted as the first day of the forty, and therefore Moshe would be back on the sixteenth of Tammuz. That was a mistake. Moshe meant that he would be away a full forty days and nights, which meant that he would be back on the seventeenth.

This tragic error in the people’s calculation led to the catastrophic creation of the Eigel Zahav — the Golden Calf.

Amidst Hashem’s teaching of Torah to Moshe, HaKadosh Borchu, in American football terms, calls an audible.

The Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash renders translation of Sefer Shemot Perek 32, posukim 7-10):

“Hashem spoke to Moshe: ‘Go, descend — for your people that you brought from Egypt has become corrupt. They have strayed quickly from the way that I have commanded them. They have made themselves a molten calf, prostrated themselves to it and sacrificed to it…’” “Hashem said to Moshe, I have seen this people, and behold! it is a stiff-necked people. And now, desist from Me. Let My anger flare up against them and I shall annihilate them; and I shall make you a great nation.”

Moshe prayed on behalf of B’nei Yisrael, but according to the Ibn Ezra (The Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash commentary on Sefer Shemot Perek 32, posuk 11, page 496):

This passage in not chronological order, for Moshe would not have prayed for B’nei Yisrael while it still harbored an avodah zora in its midst. Rather, he prayed after he had returned to the people and destroyed the Eigel, but Torah mentions it here because the reason he prayed later was in response to Hashem’s implication in the previous verse that it was up to him to save the nation.

The Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash renders translation of Sefer Shemot Perek 32, posuk 11:

“Moshe pleaded before Hashem, his God, and said, “Why Hashem, should Your anger flare up against your people, whom You have taken out of the land of Egypt, with great power and a strong hand?”

In a shiur emailed to subscribers two years ago, Rebbetzin Shira Smiles discusses Moshe’s dialogue and pleadings with Hashem following his (Moshe’s) being dispatched from Har Sinai:

We know what happens next. Moshe descends Har Sinai. Hashem urges him to descend quickly, for “your people … has become corrupt.” What follows, besides Moshe smashing the luchot, is a dialogue between Moshe and Hashem that spans several weeks. Hashem wants to destroy Bnei Yisroel and establish a new nation through Moshe. Moshe refuses and prays that Hashem forgive Bnei Yisroel, and finally pleading that Hashem again be actively involved with the people, not abandoning them to His angels.

What is interesting in this dialogue is that the focus is not on the golden calf but rather on the “stubbornness” of Bnei Yisroel. After informing Moshe that Bnei Yisroel made a molten calf, Hashem says, “I have seen this people, and behold! It is a stiff- necked people. And now desist from Me. Let My anger flare up against them.” Later, when Hashem agrees to letting Bnei Yisroel enter the Land, He again says, “I shall not ascend among you, for you are a stiff-necked people.” Finally, Moshe beseeches Hashem, “Let my Lord go among us – for it is a stiff-necked people, and You shall forgive our iniquity and our error, and make us Your heritage.”

It seems that Hashem would have forgiven Bnei Yisroel for the idol worship, but their stubbornness, stiff-neckedness (we would say hard-headedness) was unforgivable. What is it about this trait that is so evil, and, if that is so, how could Moshe then use that trait as the very argument for Hashem to again be in their midst? To understand this dilemma, we must first explore the source of stubbornness and then attempt to find ways to harness it and overcome it.

What does the phrase “stiff-necked” actually mean? Rabbi Schwadron, the Maggid of Jerusalem, explains that you’ve turned your back on someone or something and refuse to look back, to take a second look. This is what B’nei Yisroel did to Chur who tried to prevent them from making the idol. Instead of admitting they may be wrong, they killed him. This obstinacy is what would have sealed our fate had not Moshe intervened on our behalf. But even later in our history, Jeremiah tells us why Hashem has chosen to destroy the Beit Hamikdosh and exile us: It is because you [Bnei Yisroel] said I have not sinned. We hadn’t learned.

Being obstinate is not just a problem for the nation, but can be very impactful in interpersonal relationships, especially between spouses, notes Rabbi Shlomo Hochberg in Step by Step. Admitting, “I was wrong,” and meaning it is much more powerful than saying, “I’m sorry,” which doesn’t pinpoint the problem and therefore doesn’t lead to improvement. If you constantly justify your actions, you simply cannot improve. A particular wrong action is fairly easy to correct, but a character trait like stubbornness is much harder to uproot.

Rashi notes this character trait in an even earlier incident with Bnei Yisroel. They had just witnessed the splitting of the sea and so many other miracles. Yet those experiences did not change them. When immediately after they arrived at Marah and the water was bitter, they approached Moshe with chutzpah, demanding water. This attitude was already a manifestation of kshei oref, stiff-neckedness and an inability to change. Seeing miracles is meaningless unless it becomes a vehicle for change.

What is the source of stubbornness? Rav Yechzel Levenstein explains that obstinacy is a result of arrogance and ego. It is the refusal to accept another’s perspective, the insistence on the “I” – I am always right, I know best, etc. Stubborn people won’t even accept actual evidence placed before them if it will disprove what they believe. Stubborn people will never believe that any criticism is directed at them; it is always directed at someone else.

How does this affect teshuvah? Hashem has given us the gift of teshuvah so that He will forgive us. However, writes Rabbi Gamliel Rabinowitz in Tiv Hatorah, the obstinate person does not use this gift. Since he cannot accept criticism, he will never change and do teshuvah. His arrogance can often be detected in other areas.

When he goes to a shiur, he leaves his cell phone on and checks his text messages, and in shul he may talk to his neighbor. He’s not only hurting himself, but also affecting others because he feels his needs trump all others.

There’s nothing worse than not being able to admit I’ve done something wrong.

However, if being stubborn is so bad, how could Moshe then use our obstinacy as providing a reason for Hashem to remain in the midst of the nation? The Tosfos Bracha offers an interesting interpretation of Moshe’s argument. He writes that Moshe agrees with Hashem that we are a stiff-necked people. Ki – even though they are stiff-necked (rather than “because”) please forgive our sin.

But is being stubborn all bad? Like everything else, writes Rabbi Freiman in Shaarei Derech, the trait itself is neutral. Whether it is good or bad depends on how it’s used. It is this trait, this refusal to bend in spite of circumstances and “proof” that has allowed Bnei Yisroel to survive and cling to its religion throughout the Diaspora. This obstinacy is the hallmark and strength of the Jew. As the Aish Kodesh, Rabbi Kolonymus Shapira who was a Rabbi in the Warsaw Ghetto and later was killed in the Holocaust writes, it is in times of great challenge that one needs to insist and remain stubborn in one’s faith. And this is Moshe’s argument. Hashem, we will use this very characteristic to survive as Your people, and for this reason, come with us. As Rabbi Hochberg writes, stubbornness is the tenacious perseverance that is a necessary ingredient of bitachon, of our steadfast faith in Hashem.

It is precisely because of our obstinacy, explains Rabbi Bick in Chayei Moshe that Hashem gave us the Torah. Hashem saw this obstinacy as good, that we would not forsake the Torah, and yet, so quickly after receiving the Torah, they fashioned an idol. Then how are Bnei Yisroel different from other nations? I will destroy them. But Moshe intervenes. He calls out, “Mi LaHashem Elay – Whoever is for Hashem come to me,” and the entire tribe of Levi comes to Moshe. On his command, they take their swords and kill the idol worshippers championing Hashem’s honor and proving that they will be stalwart in Hashem’s service.

If obstinacy is such a stubborn quality that it is so difficult to break, how did Moshe succeed in getting B’nei Yisroel’s attention? Shaarei Derech based on Rav Dessler, explains that only by dramatically smashing the luchot was Moshe able get Bnei Yisroel to wake up and do teshuvah. How dramatic does Hashem have to be with us, how many crises and deaths must we absorb before we look inward to see where I personally need to change?

If one really wants to change, one must evaluate each circumstance where stubbornness begins to raise its head, writes Rabbi Hochberg. One should ask oneself if my stubbornness in this situation is a result of arrogance or for the sake of Heaven. One further needs to ask whether your goals are proper and whether they will positively or negatively affect others. After all, it is easy to be self righteous when one is concerned only with oneself. And then, one must ask for Divine assistance. And in asking for Divine assistance for worthwhile purposes and to maintain sanctity and peace it is always appropriate to be stubborn.

We see today, the two sides of stubbornness. There is the negative side, the stiff-neckedness of the secular in such areas as seeking transportation of masses, or operating businesses on Shabbos in some cities, or the possible questionable alliances between certain political entities and the Arab joint list such as in votes on “Muezzin Bill legislation.” What can justify such an alliance between a sector of Jews and non-Jews in affairs relating to the security, welfare, unity and spirituality of B’nei Yisrael? Is this a precedent L’Shem Shemayim, or exclusively for political reasons, i.e. exclusively for their constituency to the detriment of nation?

On the positive side, there is the collective stubborn persistance of Observant Jews in inculcating tefillah, Torah learning, Halachot and spirituality through the generations through today.

To return to a citing from Rebbetzin Smiles’ shiur, it is by reason of our very stubbornness, obstinancy that Hashem gave us, of all the nations, the Torah and, ultimately, Eretz Yisrael.

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

Good Shabbos!
_______________________________________

Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Purim 5778: Depending on the Super-Power vs Acting as a Jewish Nation?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, February 24th, 2018 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Purim vort is being co-sponsored by Shlomo and Shoshana Weis lilui nishas Yisrael ben Chaim z”l and Malcha bat Me’ir Moshe z’l and by Rabbi Yechiel and Tova Nussbaum dedicated for the entire Kehillah of Beis Tefillah -Yona Avraham. Both families live in Ramat Beit Shemsh. To the Weis and Nussbaum families, many thanks for your co-sponsorships and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Purim 5778: Depending on the Super-Power vs Acting as a Jewish Nation?

By Moshe Burt

As with last year, This Purim vort is written some four weeks before Purim, and with the background of President Trump’s announcement of recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal Capital and his pledge to move the United States Embassy to Jerusalem, as well as his commutation of R’ Sholom Rubashkin’s prison term. And Vice President Pence echoed the President in his recent trip here in expressing that the Embassy would be in Jerusalem before the end of 2019.

Still very much in mind is the axiom: an American President, the Vice President, members of both houses of Congress, a U.S. Ambassador to Israel, the chief U.S. negotiator in any future “peace” negotiations, as well as the President’s daughter and son-in-law — in these latter cases Observant Jews; none of them, by their nature as Americans, as American representatives, are able to be more pro-Israel than the governance of Israel itself.

Further, with the current and continuing congressional/judicial/media upheaval and polarization of masses over the past year regarding alleged foreign manipulation or influence surrounding the 2016 Presidential Election, as well as alleged political and financial wrong-doing by one of the candidates affecting a party’s 2016 primaries and national convention and scandals dating back years and affecting national security, can and should Israel depend and count American support in determining issues regarding her spiritual and security well-being?

For Jews, the above axiom said another way: we cannot put our trust, faith in man, our sovereignty and survival in the hands of nations, not even in Trump, Pence, the Kushners, Friedman, etc., but ONLY in Hashem.

Haven’t we seen this lesson played out numerous times in Israel’s nearly 69 years of modern times? Need we re-recite all of the instances? Are our collective memories and attention spans sooo short?

This American upheaval could go either way, and one could suppose that however things turn out depends on our worthiness and Emunah in Hashem.

As such, we must do as a proud, sovereign, principled Jewish nation must do for our collective security and well-being, and as a paradigm for all of the Ways of Hashem, while believing and trusting that Hashem Sees and Acts for His nation. Isn’t that the lesson of the Six Day War, of Entebbe, the taking out of that Iraqi nuclear reactor and more? Isn’t that the lesson learned both from Chanukah and Purim?

And so, insights are given from amongst the “127 Insights into Megillat Esther” (compiled from the words of Chazal by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach of Jerusalem) and from the sefer, “Let My People Live”, by Yosef Deutsch regarding the saving of the Jews and their re-acceptance of Torah.

Mordechai gets word of Haman’s plot to eradicate the Jews. Esther is already positioned as Queen for nine years, after King Achashveirosh of Persia, in a drunken stupor, accepted and carried out the advice of the most crude and nobility-lacking of his counselors, Memuchan — later known as Haman — who called for queen Vashti’s execution. Mordechai summons Esther to entreat the king, in his court, regarding the threat to the Jews.

It’s not the first time that Mordechai summoned Esther to use the power of her throne in defense of her people.

There was the assassination plot of two of the king’s servants, Bigsan and Seresh, both of whom hailed from Tarshish (“Let My People Live”, by Yosef Deutsch, page 142 citing R’ Shmuel di Uzidah, sefer Melo HaOmer).

The two spoke openly about their plot in their native tongue Tarsi (The Artscroll Tanach Series: The Megillah,

The Book of Esther, Chapter 2, notes to posuk 22, page 63 citing gemura Megillat 13b), a seemingly obscure, insgnificant foreign tongue. Seated about 20 paces away from where Bigsan and Seresh hatched their plot and unbeknownst to them, Mordechai overheard their assassination plot. Mordechai, a former member of the Sanhedrin (the Jewish High Court) had to be fluent in all 70 of the world’s languages, which included Tarsi, to sit in as a member of that body. The story goes that Mordekhai got word to Esther who informed the King, giving full credit for disclosure of the plot to Mordechai (despite Mordechai’s wish that his name not be mentioned), taking no credit for herself. (“Let My People Live”, by Yosef Deutsch, page 147)

But, in the case of Haman’s plot and decree against the Jews, Esther is nervous. A bit of background here: according to laws enacted during the reign of Dar’yovesh (Darius) in the aftermath of Balshazzar’s assassination, and updated, with additional provisions and strictly enforced by Haman, she can’t just enter the king’s court without first having been summoned. Such a violation would be seen as “a major breach in security” (“Let My People Live”, by Yosef Deutsch, page 222 citing Aggadas Esther; Menos HaLevi; Akeidah). In fact, Deutsch indicates (page 222 of “Let My People Live”) that Haman would screen all visitors to the king lest anyone reveal that he (Haman) “once sold himself to Mordechai” or lest anyone speak up for the Jews or advocate for rebuilding the Beit HaMikdash. Deutsch indicates that Esther queried:

“Do you think that he will let me set up an appointment? He hates me! Whenever he sees me, he remembers that if it hadn’t been for me, he might have had his daughter sitting on the throne.” (“Let My People Live”, by Yosef Deutsch, page 222 citing Targum; Rokeach; Targum Rishon; Menos HaLevi)

Esther fears being put to death, not out of fear for her own life, but out of fear of being put to death, and thus being unable to act to save her people.

Megillat Esther (Perek 4, posukim 5 – 16) tell of the dialogue of messages transmitted between Mordechai and Esther and of Esther’s hesitation to approach King Achashveirosh, unsummoned (a crime of protocol punishable by death) on behalf of her people.

In the climactic 13th and 14th posukim, Mordechai responds to Esther’s message:

“Do not imagine that you will be able to escape in the King’s palace any more than the rest of the Jews. For if you persist in keeping silent at a time like this, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another place…

And who knows whether it was just for such a time as this that you attained the royal position.”

Esther’s nervousness and hesitation regarding Haman’s decree against the Jews seemed to this author to be puzzling in light of her apparent ease of access in informing Achashveirosh of the assassination plot (the “poison plot”)? Wouldn’t the Queen, as royalty, be exempted from laws denying access to the King?

The key seems to be that the “poison plot” occurred early in Esther’s reign as Queen, just prior to Haman’s rise to power as Viceroy and his resultant strict enforcement of laws regarding access to the King. Either the Queen may have previously been exempted from laws regarding access to the King, or the enforcement of the law initiated under Dar’yovesh may have been lax or non-existent or the King and his new Queen regularly spent evenings together providing Esther with the timely access necessary to expose the plot.

But it would seem that after the “poison plot”, with Haman’s almost immediate rise to power, things changed radically in the palace, including in access to the monarch. And on top of that, it seemed that Esther’s access to the King became more and more infrequent in the timeframe of Haman’s plot to destroy the Jews. The Artscroll Tanach Series: The Megillah, The Book of Esther explains (notes to Perek 4, posuk 11, page 78) that, in expressing her concerns and hesitation, Esther tells Mordechai:

“It’s already been thirty days, that I was not summoned by the King….”

Despite Esther’s hesitation in entreating the King, in his court, regarding the threat to the Jews, the dye resulting from Esther’s humbly informing the King, in Mordechai’s name, of the “poison plot” had been cast. Rabbi Weinbach (“127 Insights into Megillat Esther”, page 88) writes:

Mordechai’s decision to report his discovery to Esther rather than directly to the king can… be understood as a means of laying the groundwork for Esther’s redemptive action.

Who knows if it is, was that the Kushners, Friedman, etc. — Observant Jews were Divinely placed in their positions of influence just for such a time? We can look back in recent history to the role of President Harry Truman’s lifelong Jewish friend, Edward Jacobson, in advocating U.S. support for the creation of the Jewish State of Israel.

But in our time, while we can observe the Yad Hashem (the Hand of Hashem) in history for the benefit of Am Yisrael, who among us has the wisdom to know if, or whether or not this or that individual, even from among Observant American Jews, are the ones Divinely positioned to play a central role in assuring the wellbeing of Israel?

To repeat, we, and our leaders, our governance must do as a proud, sovereign, principled Jewish nation must do for our collective security and well-being, and as a paradigm for all of the Ways of Hashem, while believing and trusting that Hashem Sees and Acts for His nation.

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

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