Parshat Vayikra 5777: Moshe, Modesty and Humility and Modern-Day Paradigms

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off



Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat Vayikra is being sponsored by Shirley and Stanley Schwartz of Toronto and Delray Beach, Florida and Ruth Meides of Florida dedicated Lilui Nishmas for the recent passing (9 Adar 5777) of my Father, Me’ir ben Shabtai. To the my Aunts and Uncle, many thanks for your sponsorship, for your continued kindnesses toward me and much love!.

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 5777: Moshe, Modesty and Humility and Modern-Day Paradigms

by Moshe Burt

Although my Dad passed during the week of the Torah sedra Tetzaveh, on the Shabbos just before our Purim holiday, I chose to cite Parshat Vayikra in saying over a hespid at the leviya of my Dad.

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 where I live -- in 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)

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.

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 speaks volumes about the Dar’chim, the ways of humility, modesty and selflessness of Moshe Rabbeinu; his 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.

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 yester-year; “…strangers who just met on the way”.

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.

In speaking about my Dad, Me’ir HaKohen ben Shabtai, he was always kind, humble, straight up honest in his dealings with others in life while never seeking, never chasing after honor – kavod, or self-
aggrandizement. His focus was always on job, home and family — my Mother and myself, to the exclusion of almost everything outside of those realms.

In public; in the workplace, among his extended family: his parents, siblings, nephews and nieces, grandchildren, cousins — he was always jovial, jocular — always rhyming, i.e. “Yankele, Yankele, don’t you cry, you gonna be a Big Yankele bye and bye.” And you catch on pretty fast when he’d say, “I gotta see a man about a horse.” My Dad was a man of few words, not involving himself in verbal over-analysis of things, of crises or issues.

At home, my Mother was the more verbal one, the more dominant one in family affairs; in the home or in dealing with extended family, family finances, dealing with my chinuch — nurturing, education, upbringing.

But at any family simcha where there was dancing, my Dad OWNED any dance floor that he danced upon. My Dad was graceful, the likes of a Fred Astaire, a Gene Kelly. From the Charleston, to the Jitterbug, to the Twist, to the Kazatzka — he did it all on a dance-floor and always joked and kidded with relatives.

My Dad was also very handy with his hands and was able to make repairs and innovate around the house. And in his retirement years, as my parents lived in the condo that they had in Century Village, near Fort Lauderdale, Florida, my Dad occupied himself both with helping neighbors organize their living quarters as well as being his building’s representative on the Condo’s residents’ committee.

Both of my parents, and particularly my Dad, were loved by all, whether it was in the Forest Trace Assisted Living Facility, or in the final residence — at The Bridge Assisted Living Facility.

To all at The Bridge, as much as YOU all came to love my Dad, He loved YOU all ten-fold. And I, who have visited once a year these past three years plus have seen, have felt the mutual love, care and esteem which flowed between all of you and my Dad. All of you kept my Dad going such that in the almost two years since my Mother passed, he blossomed. I thank you for that with all of my heart.

Aunt Shirley, Uncle Stanley, Aunt Ruth — the latter two being brother and sister: Dad loved you all and loved seeing you when you visited and immensely enjoyed being with you and talking of past family times.

To Eric Weitkamp of Freedom Partners of South Florida, I say this publicly, you have brought immensely appreciative and thankful tears to my eyes remembering the countless myriads of kindness that you have done to my Parents and to me as my parents’ patient advocate, my Dad’s power-of-attorney, the keeper of my parents’ financial affairs and much, much more.

Author Yishai Chasidah cites The Yerushalmi Gemura Brachot (Perek 2, posuk 8 ) in his sefer “Encyclopedia of Jewish Biblical Personalities,” regarding Yithro, Moshe’s Father-in-Law, Midian Priest and former counsel to Pharaoh of Egypt, who later became a Jew, a Ger Tzedek, and his merit and place among B’nei Yisrael:

“When B’nei Yisrael do Hashem’s Will, HaKodesh Borchu searches throughout the world, and if he finds a righteous person among the nations, he brings him and attaches him to B’nei Yisrael. One of the examples given was Yithro.”

In my view, this adage applies to individual Jews, as well as to the nation, and that Hashem brought Eric to connection with my parents, with my Dad, provides ample testimony, both with regard to Eric’s immense kindnesses and to the great Zehut gained by my Dad, by both of my parents, for his/their honesty, integrity, kindnesses, humility.

May my Dad, Me’ir ben Shabtai, go right to Shemayim, to Heaven — do not pass go, do not collect $200 — go right to Shemayim — May he and my Mother, Chaya bat Zalman both have an aliyah in Shemayim — have exalted places with Hashem in Shemayim and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Chodesh Tov and Good Shabbos!
_______________________________________

Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshiyot Vayakhel/Pekudei 5777: Shabbos: Key to a Jew’s Faith in Hashem, Gateway to Righteousness and All Dimensions of Yiddishkeit

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, March 18th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshiyot HaShevua, Vayakhel/Pekudei is being sponsored by Steven and Debra Glanz and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for the success of their children. 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
****************************************************

Parshiyot Vayakhel/Pekudei 5777: Shabbos: Key to a Jew’s Faith in Hashem, Gateway to Righteousness and All Dimensions of Yiddishkeit

by Moshe Burt

As this vort is being compiled, this author is in Florida with his Abba and so this is what may be called a “best of” Parshiyot HaShevua with some additions and revisions.

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

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

The opening p’sukim of Parsha Vayakhel;

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

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

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

The imperative “six days you shall labor” tells us that in all that one does one should strive to have The Creator in mind…. We see that the subjects addressed in the pasuk, the six days and Shabbat, are really based on one theme.

Because it is only when creation is perceived as a sanctuary of Hashem that our abstention from the labors of the Mishkan mirrors the Creator’s abstention [on Shabbos] from creating the universe.

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

Back in the “Old Country”, this author recalls that Kiruv Rabbanim placed heavy emphasis on Shabbos as the embarkation point — the beginning of one’s teshuvah journey to come close, to come closer to HaKadosh Borchu.

However, recalling past history of the past approximately 120 years, Shabbos seemed a point of disembarkment.

This is a point which needs to be repeated and emphasized: When the Jews emigrated to America in large numbers around the turn of the 20th century and had difficulty finding parnossa in their new residence: when the work was a six day job (before laws were passed regarding the five day work-week), the newly arrived Jew found himself with a huge test of emunah (faith) and hishtadlut (expending effort) — keep Shabbos or earn money to feed, clothe and house one’s family. It was a tough call for many and many failed the test. The results of this test, failed by many, were that after crying rivers of tears, they gradually distanced themselves from Hashem.

The weight of the test led many to working on Shabbos, then to eating non-kosher food, to secular marraige without marriage ketubot, to generations with little or no Torah footing or learning, and ultimately to inter-marriage and more. All of this has evolved to where we are today — massive numbers of Jews in America who are distant from Torah, distant from any trace of identification with their brethren or with our Divine heritage and inheritance: Eretz Yisrael. Despite the mushrooming kiruv movement of the past 50 years, there are huge numbers of offspring of the burgeoning inter-marriage rate who are NOT Jewish and thus, are lost to Judaism.

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

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

It is a day when concerns for mundane and ephemeral pursuits is inappropriate…. Shabbat is a Matanah Tovah — a very special gift.

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).

A few years ago, Rav Arye Gordon, z’l said on our Parsha;

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

Our Parsha Pekudei begins;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moshe is, for all times, the prototype of a true Jewish Leader — humble, modest, without desire for self-aggrandizement and self-enrichment. His first and foremost thought was for the welfare and well-being of his nation — the B’nai Yisrael.

Moshe Rabbeinu was above corruption and self-enrichment. As goes an old political commercial: Nobody owned him as he could not be bought. And thus, no one could compromise Moshe Rabbeinu and his upholding Hashem’s laws by threatening him with public disclosures of corruptions, for Moshe Rabbeinu was incorruptable.

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

Good Shabbos!
_______________________________________

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

Parshat Ki Tisa 5777: Pleading from the Essence of the Soul

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Monday, March 13th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Ki Tisa is being sponsored Reuven and Socotta Shefi-gal of Moshav Aderet lilui nishmas Reuven’s Dad Rav Avraham Moshe ben Rav Elchanan Yochanan. To the Shefi-gal 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 5777: Pleading from the Essence of the Soul

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?”

Last year, Israel National News posted a commentary from HaRav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook zts”l:

… Moshe “pleaded before God” on their behalf (Sefer Shemot Perek 32, posuk 11).

The word for ‘pleaded’ – ‘va-yechal’ – is not the usual expression for prayer. The Sages offered several explanations why the Torah used this particular word to describe Moses’ prayer. Rabbi Elazar noted that ‘va-yechal’ shares the same root as choleh (sick). Moses prayed for the sake of Israel so intensely that he became ill from the effort.

According to Rabbi Eliezer the Great, the word ‘va-yechal’ even indicates the specific illness that afflicted Moses. Moses suffered from achilu, a fever in the bones.

Why should Moses’ efforts for the sake of the Jewish people make him ill? What is the significance of a fever in his bones?

Intensity of Prayer

The gravity of the Sin of the Golden Calf should not be underestimated. It was not a foregone conclusion that God would forgive the Israelites. Divine justice dictated that the Jewish nation deserved to be destroyed for this calamitous breach of faith.

Moses could not offer just any prayer in their defense. Their sin was beyond the normal efforts of the great leader to rectify. In order to recover, to some extent, the spiritual state they had attained at Sinai, Moses needed to pray with an intensity that exceeded his natural powers. The exertion was so great that Moses became ill. This is one implication of
the word ‘va-yechal’ – a pleading so intense that it disrupted his body’s normal functioning.

Rabbi Eliezer the Great provided an additional insight into Moses’ extraordinary prayer. Although bones are not particularly sensitive, they nevertheless contain a condensed essence of life. (The word etzem in Hebrew means both ‘bone’ and ‘essence.’) When the life-force has left all other parts of the body, it still remains in the bones. A starved individual, just barely alive, will appear to be a walking skeleton.

Moses was unable to plead the case of the Jewish people using only his natural powers. He needed to awaken all of his powers, even those hidden deeply within. His extraordinary effort was in equal measure to the people’s cataclysmic spiritual breakdown. The nation’s descent into idolatry could not be corrected by the regular influence of ethical life
alone. It was necessary that powers from the soul’s essence – from the people’s inner goodness and holiness, hidden deeply in their bones – be awakened.

Since these aspects of life are ordinarily hidden, their awakening is an unnatural, even extreme measure. Moses’ plea for the sake of Israel at that critical time was thus based on a special fire – a fire of holiness, smoldering inside their very bones.

With the miracles of Purim, the new life given to our people, still fresh in mind, this author recalls and connects a similar event in Esther’s acquiescence to Mordechai’s pleas that she appear before King Achashveirosh and her travails as she is about to enter the king’s chambers, as rendered in “127 Insights into Megillas Esther”, by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach (pages 115-117):

Esther relied on Mordechai’s judgement that it was the will of Heaven for her to make the supreme sacrifice and initiate an action that seemed to defy Jewish law, reason and her personal happiness.

…Esther …demanded that the first day of Pesach be included in the three-day fast. When Mordechai protested that it was forbidden to fast on that day, she sharply rebuked him: “So speaks the sage of Israel! If there are no Jews left in the world, what value do mitzvos have? If there are no Jews there is no Torah!”

Esther’s insistence on fasting was based on her profound analysis of the trouble facing her people. “Fast for me,” she had requested…. Her message to her people was that abstinence from food and drink would atone for the forbidden food and drink they had consumed at Achashveirosh’s banquet.

Esther also insisted on Mordechai gathering “all the Jews in Shushan” (Perek 4, posuk 15) to insure that every Jew who had attended the banquet would fast in repentance.

The spiritual energy generated by that effort… enabled Esther to achieve a near prophetic level as she marched toward her historic mission. This was her sign from Heaven that her strategy was working and it gave her confidence that she would succeed.

The ruach hakodesh that accompanied Esther on her march to the king’s chambers suddenly abandoned her when she reached his [the king's] gallery of idols. Crying out, “My Lord, why have You forsaken me?”

The sefer then indicates that Esther questioned how she could be punished either for offering herself to the king, or for violation of Torah’s command to avoid contact with avodah zora [idols], although she was doing so against her will as part of efforts to save her people. She then came to a different conclusion: she had called Achashveirosh a dog in her prayers in the mistaken assumption that the king was just a lackey in Haman’s genocidal plot and that it wouldn’t take a major miracle to move him. This underestimation of need for Divine aid had caused the loss of her ruach hakodesh. She now realized that Achashveirosh was as dangerous as Haman. She then referred to him as a lion as she doubled-down on her prayers for a miracle.

Another version, from a source this author can’t recall, regarding Esther’s travails, indicated that she may have suffered severe abdominal pain at some point enroute to the king’s chambers.

It would seem that neither Moshe, nor Esther could plead the B’nei Yisrael’s case with natural powers. In short, in both cases, the prayers of Moshe, and then, of Esther were of such intensity as to cause physical pain and/or illness.

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

Good Shabbos!
_______________________________________

Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Purim 5777: Laying Groundwork for Redemptive Action — Then and Now

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, News Reports on Tuesday, February 28th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Purim vort is being co-sponsored by Shlomo and Shoshana Weis of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for a refuah shleima for Rachel bat Chaya Perel and by an anonymous co-sponsor dedicated for kol Klal Yisrael. To the Weis family and our anonymous co-sponsor, 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
**********************************************

Purim 5777: Laying Groundwork for Redemptive Action — Then and Now

by Moshe Burt

Friends;

This Purim vort is written some four weeks before Purim, and as our Prime Minister embarks on talks with President Trump, pertinent members of the new president’s cabinet and with members of the U.S. House and Senate.

Very much in this author’s mind is the axiom: an American President, members of both houses of Congress, a U.S. Ambassador to Israel, the chief U.S. negotiator in any future “peace” negotiations — in both 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.

And so, bearing this axiom in mind against the backdrop of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit and meetings with the administration, what we might see in the aftermath of these talks could run the gamut from Presidential countenance regarding Am Yisrael’s bread-and-butter issues such as moving the embassy to Jerusalem, Israeli annexation of all or a large portion of Yehuda and the Shomron and increased construction of homes and new towns; to placing the Embassy move on the backburner, to limitations regarding annexation or either home construction or establishing new towns or both; as well as other options, but not limited to five plans currently on the table in Israel as spelled out in a recent Yishai Fleisher Op-Ed piece in the New York Times. Also, apparently on the Agenda are subjects such Iran and possible sanctions against Iran due to their missile tests in violation of the agreement banning Iranian nuclear weapons and missile development. In addition, Israel National News reported this week that Prime Minister Netanyahu may ask President Trump to waive Jonathan Pollard’s parole conditions and allow him to immigrate to Israel.

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, Kushner, 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? As such, we must do as a proud, sovereign Jewish nation must do for our collective security and well-being, and believe and trust that Hashem Sees and Acts for His nation. Isn’t that the lesson of the Six Day War, of Entebbe? Isn’t that the lesson learned both from Chanukah and Purim?

In a recent piece on the Israel National News site, it was reported that Dr. Hagi Ben-Artzi, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s brother-in-law, said the following of Netanyahu’s meetings with President Trump:

“Bibi, this is the moment for which you became Prime Minister. Until now, you worked on holding off the tide. Now is the moment of truth – make a break for it and normalize the lives of half a million Jews in Judea and Samaria.

“….This is a basic demand, and if, G-d forbid, you fail this test, then as Moredehai said to Queen Esther, ‘Salvation will come to the Jews from a different place.’

What Dr. Ben-Artzi seems to mean by “normalize” is to bring the 400,000 who live on Jewish land in Yehuda and the Shomron to live under Israeli civil law, rather than under military law by annexing Yehuda and the Shomron as part of Israel and no longer defining them as “beyond the greenline” and somehow “illegal” under Israeli law.

Prime Minister Netanyahu had previously spoken out, after the Presidential election, on the American Sunday news program “60 Minutes” that he hoped President Trump would “help reach a two-state solution.”

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 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 Mordechai 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 assasination, 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 protocal 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.

So, to repeat Dr. Ben-Artzi’s call:

“Bibi, this is the moment for which you became Prime Minister. Until now, you worked on holding off the tide. Now is the moment of truth – make a break for it and normalize the lives of half a million Jews in Judea and Samaria.

“….This is a basic demand, and if, G-d forbid, you fail this test, then as Moredehai said to Queen Esther, ‘Salvation will come to the Jews from a different place.’

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

Purim Some’ach
_______________________________________
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 Tetzaveh 5777: Purification of the Oil of Illumination — Its Meaning for Am Yisrael Today

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


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parsha Tetzaveh is being sponsored David and Tzippora Leichter of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for a refuah shleima for Tamar Adina bat Kayna Shulamit and for sister-in-law Aliza Rifka bat Henya. To the Leichter 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 Tetzaveh 5777: Purification of the Oil of Illumination — Its Meaning for Am Yisrael Today

by Moshe Burt

Our Parshat Tetzaveh seems, in a way, an extension of Parshat Terumah where, l’chatchila (the way things oughta be), one’s intent should, must be as pure as the components used in construction of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and it’s accoutrements. Parshat Tetzaveh is dedicated to the enunciation for the Jewish people of the laws concerning the Kohen’s garb, the oil for illumination and anointment and the Avodah (service) of the Kohanim. This service reflects the purity of the Kehunah as a paradigm to the Jewish people, just as l’chatchila the purity of Jewish people should be a light revealing the ways of Hashem unto the world. Our Parshat Tetzaveh is also the Parsha notable by the absence of any mention of Moshe (whose Yahrtzeit is on 5 Adar) a point discussed at length in previous years.

Shem Mishmuel (by R’ Shmuel Bornstein, z”l, the Sochaczever Rebbe, translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski, Parshat Tetzaveh, pages 173-175) renders our Parsha’s opening posukim (Sefer Sh’mot, Perek 27, posukim 20-21):

“You shall command the B’nei Yisrael that they should bring to you pure olive oil, beaten for the lamp, to make an everlasting light burn in the Tent of Meeting…”

The Sapirstein Edition of the Chumash with Rashi Commentary renders translation of these posukim substituting the word “clear” for “pure” (Sefer Sh’mot, page 376). The Rashi commentary defines “clear” and notes:

Without sediments, i.e. “He leaves it to ripen at the top of the olive tree, etc.”

It is not enough that the oil not have sediments at the time it is used in the Menorah. It must be oil which never had sediments in it.

In the victorious battle of the Chashmonaim against the Greeks which we commemorate during Chanukah, it was the discovery of such a flask of oil, with the seal of the Kohen Godol, which miraculously burned for eight days.

Shem Mishmuel (ibid, pages 173-175) cites both Yirmiyahu (Perek 11, posuk 16) and Sh’mot Rabbah (Perek 36, posuk 1):

You shall command — “A verdant olive tree, beautiful with good fruit, Hashem called your name.”

Why are Yisrael named just after the olive tree, for are not all other types of trees pleasant and beautiful? …With regard to the olive tree, while the olives are on the tree, they are picked and brought down from the tree. They are beaten, and once beaten, the are taken to the press and put into a crusher. Then they are crushed again and surrounded by ropes and pressed by huge stones. After all of this, they give forth their oil. So too, with Yisrael — idolaters come and beat them from place to place and oppress them; they bind them with chains and surround them to besiege them. After that [Yisrael] do teshuvah and Hashem answers them…

Shem Mishmuel then comments (ibid, pages 173-175):

This midrash, while very graphic in its comparison of Yisrael to the olive, is very hard to understand. For it implies that Yisrael’s nature is such that they repent only if attacked and abused. Once trouble befalls them, they become convinced that they need to return to Hashem, and when they eventually do so, He will answer them with salvation…. It seems very unlikely that Chazal would describe Klal Yisrael in quite this way. What is the deeper meaning of this midrash?

It is obvious that teshuvah which is prompted by duress is of a very low standard. Real and sincere repentance should be independent of outside considerations, motivated by one’s own distress at failure in religious life.

The teshuvah of Yisrael is likened to the olive and the procedure by which its oil is obtained. This is its praise — that it fulfills the purpose for which it was created by being subjected to these harsh procedures [as described above]. As an olive, it is relatively useless — a mixture of oil and material which will eventually be discarded. Its nature and function are revealed by extracting the oil from the waste.

This is the intended comparison to Klal Yisrael. At root, they are good, but sometimes destructive ideas and actions creep into their lives. These must be expunged by certain outside influences. Through this, they can return to their pristine state, discarding the “waste” elements in their lives.

…It teaches us that the purpose… is to peel away the layers of dross from Yisrael and to reveal their true nature…. Then the real personality of Yisrael can shine through, without the need for attack or punishment.

It seems to this author that there could be another understanding of equating Yisrael with the olive tree and its end product: clear, pure olive oil. This author’s possible understanding is in the context of the “Koor Barzel”, the Iron Crucible of Mitzrayim (Sefer Devarim, Parshat Va’etchanan, Perek 4, posuk 20) as described in Parshat Hashevua Va’eira.

Just as the nation which emerged from Egypt had to have suffered and endured the subservience of Egypt in order to be forged into a nation epitomizing emulation of the ways of our Creator, it seems that through our history, B’nei Yisrael is in a perpetual state of being a work-in-progress, a nation with its imperfections, yet a nation of the next levels from where the nations have stopped. As such, the “Koor Barzel” of the Egyptian enslavement, as well as the suffering and the oppression of the destruction of the Batei Mikdashim and resulting Galut, the modern-day reestablishment of Jewish Sovereignty in Eretz Yisrael, with the many and glaring imperfections of secular governance to this day, should serve to eventually forge amongst B’nei Yisrael a rock-solid belief in Hashem, as well as spirituality and morality based in the ways of Hashem and to serve as a paradigm of both these ways and as light of Hashem unto the nations.

We can act to manifest this paradigm in our times. Just as it seems obvious that the Jews of Shushan put aside personal and familial issues for the sake of unity and Jewish survival based on collective teshuvah, we too can collectively step up in unity and teshuvah with the game on the line. With heart, creativeness, fire-in-the-belly and pitching in, we are capable of compelling change from governance which loathes both Jewish values and the Land of Israel, to governance which embraces them.

Like in the time of Mordechai and Esther and the Jews of the city of Shushan, this author believes that embracing our Jewish values, just as the Kohanim donned their Bigdei Kehunah, and crushed olives until their oil was perfectly clear and pure, is the message of our Parsha Tetzaveh.

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

Good Shabbos!
_______________________________________

Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Terumah 5777: Man’s Intent, Will and Actions and The “Crown of a Good Name”

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, Police Brutality: Amona Compendium on Saturday, February 25th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parsha Terumah is being sponsored anonymously dedicated in memory of Shmuel Zainvel ben Baruch z”l. To the anonymous sponsor and family, blessings and 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 Terumah 5777: Man’s Intent, Will and Actions and The “Crown of a Good Name”

by Moshe Burt

The Shem Mishmuel (Translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski, Parshat Terumah, pg. 169-172) cites R’ Shimon who said;

These are the three crowns: the crown of Torah, the crown of Kehunah and the crown of Malchut. But the crown of a good name is greater than them all.

There is an oft-repeated (on this blog)Torah Gems citing of the Ibn Ezra on Parsha Yithro regarding the appointment of a judicial system, and the application of that lesson to all of us:

“The Torah did not mention ‘G’d-fearing men’ because only Hashem knows what is in man’s heart.” (Torah Gems, Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, Parsha Yithro, page 131)

The above citing of the Ibn Ezra would seem to apply to Parshat Terumah as well, and regarding the posukim cited above, as the point of Terumah seemingly goes beyond the construction of the Mishkan and the Mizbeiyach and beyond the Mishkan’s treasury and into all facets of the mundane. And this author would seem to get some additional mileage from citing (as in Parshat Va’eira) this classic scene from the Burt Reynolds movie of the late 1970s, “The End.” Reynolds, swimming far from land, and afraid for his life, cries out:

“I could never make it…Help me make it, Lord, Please…., I’ll give you 50% of everything I make, that’s 50% Lord, I wanna point out nobody gives 50%, I’m talkin’ gross, Lord….”

And as he manages to make it close to land, he says:

“I think I’m gonna make it. You won’t regret this, Lord…. I’m gonna start donatin’ that 10% right away. I know I said 50%, Lord, but 10% to start….”

In his Sefer “Majesty of Man”, Rabbi A. Henach Leibowitz writes on Parshat Terumah citing The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 231):

…Elevate our physical actions to a spiritual plane by focusing on these actions as a means to the ultimate goal of Torah and mitzvot….

We need not live “dual lives” — spiritual in performing our religious obligations and secular in fulfilling our mundane needs. If we purify our intentions and aim for our ultimate goal of serving Hashem in everything we do, we can infuse the
physical world with holiness and harmonize our entire lives into one grand… praise to the Creator.

This author’s former auto mechanic, an observant Jew and a Tzaddik back in Philadelphia, was one such example of a great, righteous person who seized opportunities to uplift and sanctify his parnossa. He always kept a few shop loaner cars available so that when people brought their vehicles in for major repairs, that they were able to borrow a loaner car, free of charge, for work so as to not be inconvenienced while the work on the vehicle was being completed. He also made his loaner cars available, again free of charge, to people when they came to Philadelphia from out of town. He was also a Shul president and active in communal affairs throughout his life.

This author can think of numerous other examples, here in Eretz Yisrael of righteous people giving as their heart motivates them.

At the outset of the Gaza War of the summer of 2014, there were numerous successful efforts to provide soldiers at the front with small pieces of equipment which were not issued them by the military but would be indispensible to their ability to perform on the battlefield. And there were large loving outpourings from many to see that the soldiers going into Gaza received pizza pies.

Who can forget how many of B’nei Yisrael opened their hearts and pockets last year after a murderous terror event to join with the Littman/Beigel families at the Simcha of the marriage of Sarah Techiya to Ariel Beigel. This short-list does not come even remotely close to even scratching the surface of motivation of the heart. It’s what sets us apart from the nations.

In our Parsha, we begin learning about the construction and the contents of the Mishkan (Tabernacle).

R’ Hirsch renders translation followed by commentary in the new Hirsch Chumash on Sefer Sh’mos, Perek 22, posukim 21-23 (pages 470-473, Parshat Mishpatim) which seems symbolic of this spirit of sanctification of our national and private lives as well as dedication to fulfillment of His Commandments:

Posuk 21: “You shall not let any widow or orphan feel their dependent state.”

Posuk 22: “Woe [to you] if you, too, should let them feel their dependent state! For if they must cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry.”

Posuk 23: “And then My anger will grow hot and I will let you die by the sword, and then your wives will become widows and your children orphans.”

Stand up for them and uphold their rights…

Woe unto you, if their only resort is to cry out to Me; for I will assuredly hear their cry; I will make the state and society pay dearly for it, if their weakest members must appeal to Me to find justice.

Does Hashem’s Will, as expressed in the above 3 posukim, not also extend to a moral obligation of one’s ratzon (desire, will) for the support, wellbeing and maintenance of health of divorced single parents and their children? And do these 3 posukim not extend to caring for special needs children as well as the physically and psychologically abused — be it a spouse, or be it physically and psychologically abused youth either domestically, educationally or in the streets?

And does Hashem’s Will not extend to the dereliction of moral obligation regarding alt-leftist-agendized, Israeli supreme court mandates, and Israeli government sanctioned (rather than draining and reforming the supreme court swamp) expulsions of our fellow Jews, first from Gush Katif eleven and a half years ago, and now from Amona; to who knows where, at unJewish Yassamnikim blllyclub brutality and gunpoint? The latter eviction forced on the the residents of Amona a full seven days early, in violation of the very court mandate. And what about those of the Am who went about their own lives, just like any other day, in both instances at the very moments that their brethren were being cruelly evicted?

Wouldn’t it seem to follow that all of us need to keep in mind the spiritual parallels and implications inherent in our actions, or lack thereof, intentions and how those intentions, ratzonot (desires, will) and actions impact collectively on the development of good and pure names?

And to repeat yet again, from Torah Gems citing of Ibn Ezra on Parsha Yithro, regarding the appointment of a judicial system, with consideration for and intellectualization of attaining the “crown of a good name”:

“The Torah did not mention ‘G’d-fearing men’ because only Hashem knows what is in man’s heart.” (Torah Gems, Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, Parshat Yithro, page 131)

In short, ‘G’d-fearing men’ — men with ‘crowns of a good name’ are not defined by their kippot (size, material, design), by their attire (i.e. what color suit, shirt or hat they wear, or don’t wear) or what hashkafah they appear to keep outwardly. It would seem that man’s ‘good name’ would be deemed through man’s kavanah, ratzon (intent and will), as well as his actions.

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

Good Shabbos! 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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Letter to President Trump

Filed under: President Trump on Saturday, February 18th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Dear President Trump;

I am writing to you from Israel, where I have lived for the past 18 years, as one who voted for you via absentee ballot from Philadelphia, PA. Please understand that my prayers are with you, as well as with the current government here.

I am writing to you, Mr. President, regarding your response to the question posed to you by the young reporter who is an observant Jew and who represents Ami magazine (if I heard correctly).

In my humble opinion, you misunderstood this young man’s motivation regarding his question. In fact, I’d bet my last NIS (shekel) that this young man and his family voted for you. I have no doubt that this reporter meant no slur against you and meant only good and kindness in asking his question regarding what government actions are planned to be taken against antisemitic threats on institutions through the US where Jews frequent — Synagogues, community centers, etc.

I know that you recognize that antisemitism is a heinous canard and I know that throughout your lifetime, you have been a rock-solid supporter of Israel. I also know how outrageous the media, and the democratic party have been toward you — they all need to, as the saying goes, “get a life!” They need to “get over it” and move on.

This young man meant no ill-will to you. I repeat, he meant no ill-will. When you seemed to “blow him off”, equated him with the rest of the fake news media and told him to sit down, you may have crushed him and his self-respect and self-worth in ways which you would never want to happen to you.

Mr. President, please know that I am 68 1/2 years old — my birthday is 2 May, 1948 within days of Israel’s modern-day statehood. As a Jew myself, and knowing that your daughter and son-in-law are Jews, we share a history and heritage as well as centuries of expulsions, mass slaughters, pogroms, mass exterminations of millions and more. These have left scars upon we Jews, as a people, as a nation, and those scars have manifested themselves in diverse ways, whether by solidifying observance of our Torah and strong identification with Israel and our biblical roots, or, unfortunately, rebelling or by way of Marxism, liberalism, progressivism, atheism.

Mr. President, I hope that you will accept what I am about to write in the spirit of love and admiration with which I mean this: I know that as you begin your presidency, you are busy with appointments and with cleaning up the myriads messes of the past eight years — as you say, “draining the swamp.” But I urge you, as a staunch supporter, to first sit down with Ivanka and Jared for a meaningful, frank discussion of their deepest feelings as Jews and the evolutions of Jewish history. Once having achieved, intellectualized and absorbed such a discussion, I humbly ask: if you feel as if an apology to this young reporter might be appropriate?

With much respect, and high regard,

Moshe (Mark) Burt (United States Ex-pat)
Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel
Skype: mark.burt3

P.S. This will be posted to my blog which has a small readership (less than 100), aside from my weekly commentary on the Torah portion. I will be forwarding this to Ivanka and Jared only via link on Twitter.

Parshat Mishpatim 5777: The Placement of Sanhedrin Visa Vi The Beit Hamikdash

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, February 18th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parsha Mishpatim is being sponsored by Baruch and Yaffa Swinkin and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated lilui nishmas for Baruch’s grandfather Micha’el ben Yaakov. To the Swinkin 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 Mishpatim 5777: The Placement of Sanhedrin Visa Vi The Beit Hamikdash

by Moshe Burt

In the vort on Parshat Yithro, this author listed two citings from Yishai Chasidah’s Encyclopedia of Biblical Jewish Personalities (pages 306-309) which provide a fitting introduction to Parshat Mishpatim. Yithro, for whom our previous parsha was named, was positioned and merited to express insights to Moshe Rabbeinu which were crucial to the evolution of Torah’s judiciary system. Chasidah cites Midrash HaGodol on BaMidbar (perek 10, posuk 30) which gives insight into Yithro’s righteousness, kindness and integrity. After a drought year in Midian, Yithro the Priest stated;

This has been a year of drought, and I borrowed money which I used to support the poor. If I don’t go and pay my debts, I will be desecrating the Name of Heaven.

This citing expresses a paradigm for kol Klal Yisrael to aspire to emulate, both with respect to repayment of debts incurred, as well as with regard to caring for one’s brethren in times of crisis — both on a national and individual level.

Chasidah also cites Yerushalmi Brachot (Perek 2, posuk 8 ) which writes of Yithro;

When B’nai Yisrael do Hashem’s Will, HaKodesh Borchu searches throughout the world, and if he finds a righteous person among the nations, he brings him and attaches him to B’nai Yisrael. One of the examples given was Yithro.

So, it was much more than Yithro’s past governmental experience as an advisor to Pharaoh, his kindnesses to Moshe and his craving to join B’nai Yisrael to find Divine Truth which positioned him to counsel Moshe as to formation of a Judiciary. Yithro’s advice to Moshe was fully backed by his own actions in standing on honesty, integrity and principle.

In advising Moshe Rabbeinu on how to judge B’nai Yisrael, Yithro spoke;

“You will provide out of all the people able men, such as fear Hashem, men of truth hating lucre (gain, money, riches); and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.” (Sefer Shemos, Perek 18, posuk 21)

Yithro, through his kindness, honesty and principle merited to advise and format the Judicial system of B’nai Yisrael, which stands as the paradigm today for the way a Torah law enforcement and judicial system must be.

Finally, there is the oft-cited Ibn Ezra on Parsha Yithro which Torah Gems notes regarding the appointment of a judicial system, and the application of that lesson to all of us:

“The Torah did not mention ‘G’d-fearing men’ because only Hashem knows what is in man’s heart.” (Torah Gems, Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, Parsha Yithro, page 131)

R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z’l, in the new Hirsch Chumash, Sefer Shemos (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Daniel Haberman, page 361) expresses the spirit of our Parshat Mishpatim through a profound comment on the concluding posuk of Parshat Yithro:

“You shall not ascend with steps upon My Altar, so that your nakedness will not be uncovered.” (Sefer Shemot, Perek 20, posuk 23)

Without morality and modesty, justice and humanity in society will be sought in vain. With immorality the heights of My Mizbeiyach will never be mounted.

Rav Hirsch then cites Sefer Breish’t, Perek 6, posuk 11 and writes:

“And the earth was corrupt before Hashem’s countenance, and so the earth was filled with wrongdoing” — the oldest and gravest experience in the history of man.

Bearing all of this in mind, the exposition of the law to B’nai Yisrael begins in Parshat Mishpatim.

In our parsha, many basic laws of civilized existence are enunciated for B’nai Yisrael. The overriding purpose of the Mishpatim — the civil laws, it seems, is to protect the moral fiber of society by regulating relationships between men, both on a national level as well between individuals, encouraging truthfulness, sincerity and kindness while condemning immorality and deceit.

Our Parshat also provides indication of the placement of the Sanhedrin, the location where deliberations and judgements regarding the civil laws take place.

The opening posuk of our Parshat reads:

“And these are the judgements that you shall place before them” (Sefer Shemot, Perek 21, posuk 1 as rendered to English in The Saperstein Edition – The Torah: With Rashi’s Commentary)

Rashi provides these comments on the opening posuk of our Parshat (The Saperstein Edition – The Torah: With Rashi’s Commentary, page 248):

Whenever it [Torah] says “And these,” as it does here, it adds on to that which has been stated previously. Thus, “And these” of this posuk implies, just as those which have been stated previously, the Ten Commandments [Asseret HaDibrot], are from Sinai, so too, these commandments that the Torah is about to state are from Sinai. And why was Mishpatim, the section that deals with judicial cases, juxtaposed with the preceding passage which deals with the Altar [Mizbeiyach, but apparently written by Rashi as HaMikdash]? To tell… that you should place the Sanhedrin adjacent to the the Beit HaMikdash.

The Saperstein Edition – The Torah: With Rashi’s Commentary (page 248) provides a footnote to clarify Rashi’s comments which cite Mechilta, Tzeidah LaDerech and Be’er Mayim Chaim:

Mechilta [indicates] some editions (including the first printed edition) of Rashi read HaMikdash; others read HaMizbeiyach. Since Rashi’s question involved the juxtaposition of the posukim regarding the Altar and and judicial cases, it is logical that his answer should speak of the Altar. According to Tzeidah LaDerech, the word HaMikdash is a copyest’s error; HaMizbeiyach is the correct version. However, Be’er Mayim Chaim states that Rashi could not have written HaMizbeiyach for that would have pinpointed the location of the Sanhedrin in an area of the Courtyard where non-Kohanim are not permitted entry. By writing HaMikdash, Rashi means “in the Temple environs,” an area that includes the total Courtyard, even those areas that non-Kohanim are permitted to enter.

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

Good Shabbos!
_______________________________________

Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Yithro 5777: Teshuvah, Chesed and Wisdom — With Life’s Breath, It’s Never Too Late

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, February 11th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parsha Yithro is being sponsored by Dr. Dov and Debbie Rosen and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for hatslocha for children of Ramat Beit Shemesh.. 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
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Parshat Yithro 5777: Teshuvah, Chesed and Wisdom — With Life’s Breath, It’s Never Too Late

by Moshe Burt

Parshat HaShevua Yithro continues in a similar vein to Parshat Beshalach but with emphasis on both Yithro, and those two bad boys, Dasan and Aviram.

On Parshat Beshalach, this author cited Rav Aba Wagensberg who discussed the translation of “V’amar Pharaoh L’B’nei Yisrael…” (Sefer Shemot, Perek 14, posuk 3); about the disparate translations as rendered in Chumashim vs based on Yonasan ben Uziel, i.e. “And Pharaoh will say about the Children of Israel…” (Chumashim) or “And Pharaoh said to the Children of Israel…” (based on Yonasan ben Uziel).

Based on the rendering of Sefer Shemot, Perek 14, posuk 3 as R’ Wagensberg cited Yonasan ben Uziel and renderings of translation of Sefer Shemot, Perek 14, posuk 22 and posuk 29 we find the following:

“The B’nei Yisrael came within the sea on dry land; and the water was a wall for them, on their right and on their left.” (Sefer Shemot, Perek 14, posuk 22)

“The B’nei Yisrael went on dry land in the midst of the sea; and the water was a wall for them, on their right and on their left.” (Sefer Shemot, Perek 14, posuk 29)

According to these translations, and R’ Wagensberg citings of Yonasan ben Uziel which indicate; there seem to have been two crossings of the Reed Sea: the crossing by almost all of B’nei Yisrael, and a second crossing where Hashem apparently parted the sea to enable Dasan and Aviram to cross and join with the rest of B’nei Yisrael.

Again, as R’ Wagensberg cited commentary of Yonasan ben Uziel:

Pharaoh was talking to Dasan and Aviram who remained behind. They were also the B’nei Yisrael. However, later we find Dasan and Aviram together with the Jewish People in the desert during the story of leaving the Manna overnight (Sefer Shemot, Perek 16, posuk 20) and during the episode of Korach’s rebellion (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 16, posuk 27).

On our Parshat, R’ Wagensberg also spoke a number of years ago regarding how Yithro, destined to be the architect of B’nei Yisrael’s Judiciary system (in order that Moshe not himself have to rule on all the myriads of halachic issues and disputes among B’nei Yisrael, thus freeing Moshe to teach Torah and to rule on only the most major issues), sought to become a Jew.

As R’ Wagensberg related years before, Yithro, who had saved the young child Moshe from possible death at Pharaoh’s hand after an incident involving Pharaoh’s crown, and who had taken leave of counseling Pharaoh and left Mitzriyim when Pharaoh began plotting against the Jews and had provided Moshe with asylum and with a wife, was aware of Hashem’s parting of the sea and B’nei Yisrael’s victory over Amalek.

Yithro, who had tried every conceivable avodah zora in search of the one true belief, understood that the Jews would be very particular as to who could join their ranks. But he recalled the evil nature of both Dasan and Aviram in Mitzrayim and, when he heard that Hashem had again parted the sea — for Dasan and Aviram, he felt that he had a good shot at joining the B’nei Yisrael.

In a previous vort on Parshat Yithro, this author cited from sefer “Ner Uziel: Perspectives on the Parsha,” Rabbi Uziel Milevsky z’l writes on our Parsha Yithro (p. 380-383) indicating that were Yithro to have come to join the Jews after the singular events of Yetziat Mitziyim or the K’riyat Yam Suf, it would have been unlikely that he could have been accepted by the B’nei Yisrael due their concern as to what his true motivations might be; i.e. whether his motivations were sincere, or whether he was just anxious to be on a winning team, or on the right side. This latter type of motivation is not unlike many athletes who, when reaching free agency status seek the best remuneration deal, i.e. to earn more than their peers, or to join onto the team which has either gone all-the-way or is perceived as “the team to beat.”.

This concern for one’s true motivations in converting seems to this author to be why Rabbi Milevsky cites indications that B’nei Yisrael didn’t accept G’erim during the reigns of David HaMelech and Shlomo HaMelech when B’nei Yisrael was at the zenith of prestige and power in the world.

But when Yithro came to join with the B’nei Yisrael after their difficult war with Amalek, one could reckon that the B’nei Yisrael saw that his motivations were true, pure and sincere to throw his lot with B’nei Yisrael out of recognition that their connection with Hashem was the one true path.

A commentary of R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z’l in the new Hirsch Chumash (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Daniel Haberman), on page 304, Sefer Shemos, Perek 18, posuk 11 provides some background behind Yithro’s joining B’nei Yisrael:

“Now I recognize that Hashem is greater than all the gods; for I recognized Him precisely in the evil that they [the Mitzriyim] plotted against them.”

…Yithro recognized Hashem’s greatness precisely in those miracles that showed the Mitzri’s hidden machinations against Israel [which] were well-known to Him. Yithro now recognizes that all of the plagues… were closely related to the poverty, slavery and the status of strangers that the Mitzriyim had intended to inflict upon Israel….

The makkos [plagues] thus revealed to Yithro not only Hashem’s omnipotence, but also His omniscience. He sees the inner thoughts of men, nations, princes and fashions their fate so as to teach and educate them.

“Measure for measure” is our sages’ expression of Hashem’s way of repaying a person for his deeds (citing Sotah 8b) and it is this way of Hashem that Yithro now recognizes.

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” (Parsha Yithro, page 179) explains further noting and expanding on a Rashi citing of Gemora (Zevachim 116a):

What did Yithro hear to make him come to join the Jewish people? The miracle of the crossing of the Red Sea and the war with Amalek.

What was unique about what Yithro heard, didn’t all of the other surrounding nations hear about this also? The answer is, said Rabbi Yehuda Leib Chasman (Ohr Yohail, Vol. 2, Vayakhail, page 139), that they heard and remained the same. Yithro, however, didn’t merely hear, he took action…. Yithro picked himself up and changed his life.

Yishai Chasidah’s Encyclopedia of Biblical Jewish Personalities (pages 306-309) cites a Midrash HaGodol on BaMidbar (Perek 10, posuk 30) which gives insight into Yithro’s righteousness, kindness and integrity. After a drought year in Midian, Yithro stated;

This has been a year of drought, and I borrowed money which I used to support the poor. If I don’t go and pay my debts, I will be desecrating the Name of Heaven.

And so today, there are lessons we can take from the Yithro model of teshuvah, chesed and wisdom.

Chasidah also cites Yerushalmi Brachot (Perek 2, posuk 8 ) which writes of Yithro and his merit and place among B’nei Yisrael;

When B’nei Yisrael do Hashem’s Will, HaKodesh Borchu searches throughout the world, and if he finds a righteous person among the nations, he brings him and attaches him to B’nei Yisrael. One of the examples given was Yithro.

On this last citing of Chasidah, can we also see in our times one or more stark examples of Hashem bringing B’nei Yisrael “a righteous person among the nations”, should we merit it by doing Hashem’s Will, even should this person’s true righteousness be obscured from the view of the nations? Do we comprehend that such “a righteous person among the nations” can only be as righteous and affirmative toward B’nei Yisrael as we are collectively and governmentally righteous and affirmative toward each other and toward the governed? This author thus repeats again that “a new American president and his administration can only be zionistic as the government of Israel.”

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 at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of two and a half years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei 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 Beshalach 5777: Future or Present Tense; One or Two Crossings of the Reed Sea?

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


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parsha Beshalach is being sponsored by R’ Moshe and Marla Braun (Moshe Braun – Fine Judaic Art) and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh in honor of Marla’s birthday on 14th Sh’vat. To the Braun 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 Beshalach 5777: Future or Present Tense; One or Two Crossings of the Reed Sea?

by Moshe Burt

This author heard a vort a number of years ago from Rav Aba Wagensberg on our Parshat Beshalach. At that time, he rendered translation of Sefer Shemot, Perek 14, posuk 3 which differs from the rendering in most Chumashim.

Last year, R’ Wagensberg again discussed these renderings in a written vort on our Parshat.. Below are both the Chumash rendering and the rendering by Rav Wagensberg based on Yonasan ben Uziel:

“And Pharaoh will say about the Children of Israel, they are confined in the land, the wilderness has locked them in.” (Sefer Shemot, Perek 14, posuk 3 as rendered in Chumashim)

“And Pharaoh said to the Children of Israel, they [the Jews] are confused in the land, the wilderness has locked them in” (Sefer Shemot, Perek 14, posuk 3, as rendered by Rav Wagensberg based on Yonasan ben Uziel).

Notice the difference, and the hebrew in the Chumash (transliterated here):

“V’amar Pharaoh L’B’nei Yisrael…”

Rashi explains on the posuk as formerly rendered in Chumashim (Rashi on Sefer Shemot, Perek 14, posuk 3 as per The Sapirstein Edition — The Torah with Rashi’s commentary, page 148):

Pharaoh will say… — When he will hear that [the Jews] are returning to their rear, About the B’nei Yisrael, Although the prefix [Lamed] usually means “to” or “for”, the phrase ” L’B’nei Yisrael” means “about” the B’nei Yisrael…. We find other instances of the [Lamed] prefix meaning something other than “to” or “for”. For example; “Hashem y’lahcheim lahchem” — “Hashem will wage war on your behalf” (Sefer Shemot, Perek 14, posuk 14), the word lahchem which begins with the [Lamed] prefix means… on your behalf.

R’ Wagensberg writes on the former rendering and provides commentary citing Yonasan ben Uziel and other commentaries:

This verse is troubling. If all the Jews already left Egypt, how can it say that Pharaoh said anything to the “Children of Israel?” All the Jews were already gone.

At first, Dasan and Aviram (two Jewish men who were trouble makers) did not want to leave Egypt. They enjoyed Egyptian culture and desired to remain behind with the Egyptians. So, when the Jewish People left Egypt, Dasan and Aviram did not join them. Rather they remained behind with the Egyptians.

However, when Dasan and Aviram heard about Kriyas Yam Suf, they had a change of heart and wanted to join their Jewish brethren. After all, there were no Egyptians left anyway. So, Dasan and Aviram went to the very place that the Jews were standing prior to Kriyas Yam Suf. They too wanted to cross. Suddenly, the most incredible thing happened. There was a second Kriyas Yam Suf for Dasan and Aviram! (Sefer Beis Avraham Beis Aharon, citing the Ruach Chadashah on the Haggadah Shel Pesach, found in the Pesach Machzor “Beis Yisrael”, under “Nissei Hayam”, #19, citing a Midrash that we do not have in print today).

….After the Jews left Egypt and reached the seashore, God commanded that they begin to turn back towards Egypt in order to make Pharaoh think that the Jews were unsure of themselves and vulnerable to be attacked. This would tempt Pharaoh to chase after them, thus setting the stage for Egypt’s destruction. Pharaoh’s scouts reported this
turnaround to Pharaoh, at which point the verse says, “And Pharaoh said to the Children of Israel, they [the Jews] are confused in the land, the wilderness has locked them in” (Sefer Shemot, Perek 14, posuk 3).

Yonasan ben Uziel (Sefer Shemot, Perek 14, posuk 3) says that Pharaoh was talking to Dasan and Aviram who remained behind. They were also the B’nei Yisrael. However, later we find Dasan and Aviram together with the Jewish People in the desert during the story of leaving the Manna overnight (Sefer Shemot, Perek 16, posuk 20) and during the episode of Korach’s rebellion (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 16, posuk 27). If Dasan and Aviram were not with the Jews during Kriyas Yam Suf, how did they catch up to the Jews afterwards? This supports the notion that there was a second Kriyas Yam Suf for Dasan and Aviram. (See the Baer Mayim Chaim, Sefer Shemot, Perek 14, posuk 29 and the Maharil Diskin, Sefer Shemot, Perek 5, posuk 14 who agree with this approach).

The Shvilei Pinchas says that this explains why the Torah “repeated” the miracle of Kriyas Yam Suf a second time.

Actually, the verse did not repeat anything. The first mention of the miracle refers to the first splitting of the sea, whereas the second mentioning of the miracle refers to the second splitting of the sea. This is not a repetition; it is a continuation of the story.

Thus we have two crossings:

“The B’nei Yisrael came within the sea on dry land; and the water was a wall for them, on their right and on their left.” (Sefer Shemot, Perek 14, posuk 22)

“The B’nei Yisrael went on dry land in the midst of the sea; and the water was a wall for them, on their right and on their left.” (Sefer Shemot, Perek 14, posuk 29)

R’ Wagensberg concludes:

This also explains why the first reference of the miracle mentions the water before the dry land. It is because the first verse is talking about the Jewish People who trusted in God and jumped into the Yam Suf before it split, while it was still water. Only afterwards did it become dry land. However, the second reference of the miracle mentions the dry land before the water because the second verse is talking about Dasan and Aviram who did not trust in Hashem.

They would never jump into an ocean. Only after they saw that the sea turned into dry land for the Jews, were they willing to enter.

However, the big question on all of this is, “How did Dasan and Aviram deserve to have a Kriyas Yam Suf just for them?” These two characters were trouble makers throughout. When Moshe saw an Egyptian beating up a Jew (Sefer Shemot, Perek 2, posuk 11), the verse says that Moshe looked to see if there was anybody watching. The verse says that there was nobody around.

Then, Moshe killed the Egyptian (Sefer Shemot, Perek 2, posuk 12). The next day Moshe saw that word of his killing the Egyptian had leaked out (Sefer Shemot, Perek 2, posuk 14; Shemos Rabbah, 1:30). Pharaoh sent officers to apprehend Moshe and have him executed. Moshe would have been killed if not for a miracle that occurred (Shemos Rabbah, 1:36). How did word leak out if the verse says that there was nobody around? Well, there was one person who did witness Moshe kill the Egyptian; the Jew that was being clobbered by the Egyptian. That Jew acted as an informer and told Pharaoh that Moshe killed an Egyptian and deserves to be punished, even though his life was just saved by Moshe. That Jew was Dasan! (Shemos Rabbah, 1:33). Dasan is the quintessential paradigm example of a snitch.

On the next day, Moshe sees two Jewish men fighting. Moshe called each one of them a Rasha (wicked); (Sefer Shemot, Perek 2, posuk 13; Shemos Rabbah, 1:29). Those two Jewish men were Dasan and Aviram. Dasan and Aviram were bad. They should have died with the four-fifths of wicked Jews who perished during the Plague of Darkness (Sefer Shemot, Perek 13, posuk18; Mechilta, Tanchuma). How did Dasan and Aviram survive the Plague of Darkness? And again, how did Dasan and Aviram deserve to have their very own Kriyas Yam Suf?

The Jewish slaves were considered to be the lowest class of people. Above them were Jews that Pharaoh appointed as police officers to ensure that the Jews maintain production. These Jews were given whips and clubs to hit the slaves with if they slacked off. This would ensure that the quota would be met. Then there were Egyptian officers appointed over the Jewish police officers. If the slaves did not reach the quota, the Jewish police officers would be whipped and clubbed by the Egyptian officers for failing to do their jobs.

The Jewish police officers did not have the heart to whip the Jewish slaves. When the quota was not met at the end of the day, those Jewish police officers were beaten by the Egyptian officers (Sefer Shemot, Perek 5, posuk 14). Those Jewish police officers, who were still bleeding from the blows that they just received, complained to Moshe and Aharon for making matters worse (Sefer Shemot, Perek 5, posukim 20-21). Who were those Jewish police officers? Rashi (Sefer Shemot, Perek 5, posuk 20, based on Nedarim, chap. 9, “Rebbi Eliezer”, pg. 64b, Rebbi Yochanan quoting Rebbi Shimon ben Yochai) says that they were Dasan and Aviram!

Although Dasan and Aviram had many character flaws, there was something virtuous about them. They were willing to take a hit for a fellow Jew! Because of that, they did not perish during the Plague of Darkness. This honorable quality that they did possess was so great that the sea actually parted for them a second time.

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

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