Parshat Lech Lecha 5775: The Impropriety of Coercing Stringencies onto Others and the Avraham Avinu/Pollard Correlation

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off



Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua — Parshat Lech Lecha is being sponsored by Zev and Sarit Schonberg and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh who dedicate this vort in honor of Avraham Avinu who taught us that sometimes the path less traveled is the right way to go. To the Schonberg family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued your kindnesses.

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

Please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat Lech Lecha 5775: The Impropriety of Coercing Stringencies onto Others and the Avraham Avinu/Pollard Correlation

by Moshe Burt

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

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

In Parshat Breish’t, this author spoke of our current finite state, and that in this state, what we do here on earth is critical, for when we are no longer here, our Mitzvot, our kindnesses that we do, because they are needed, whether for family or for the Kehal — they live on, attached to the collective memory of the do’er by his/her friends, family, the Kehal and beyond. His yeomen chinuch efforts in post-Migdal Bavel (Tower of Babel) times to bring awareness and intellectualization of Hashem — The Creator of the universe, of man and of all things stands as Avraham Avinu’s remembrance, his legacy for all time.

Midrashim tell how Avraham Avinu deduced at an early age that Hashem was the Creater and Ruler of the world. He tried worshipping the earth, the rain, the sun, the moon, etc. but deduced that not one of these forces regulated the world and that:

There must be a higher intelligence directing them [the various forces].

“I have not seen Him,” said Avram, “but I can understand that only a mighty and merciful G-d could have created the… world around me, and only his superior intelligence is able to keep it going. To Him will I bow.” (The Midrash Says, by Rabbi Moshe Weissman, Sefer Breish’it, Parsha Noach, page 118.)

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin comments in “Growth Through Torah” on the war of the four kings vs the five kings from our parshat Lech Lecha (page 40):

After Avraham’s victory over the five kings, the king of Sodom was so grateful to Avraham that he offered him much wealth. Avraham refused to take anything for himself…

Our parsha records (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 14, posukim 21-24):

“The king of Sodom said to Avram; ‘Give me the people and take the possessions for yourself.’

Avram said to the king of Sodom; ‘I have raised my hand to Hashem, G’d, the Most High, Maker of heaven and earth, if so much as a thread or a shoestrap; or if I take anything that is yours! So you shall not say, It is I who made Avram rich. Far be it from me! Only what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who accompanied me. Aner, Eshkol and Mamre — they shall take their share.’”

The Sapirstein Edition, The Torah: With Rashi’s Commentary on the above posukim cites Gur Aryeh, Tanchuma 13:

Avram did not refuse the king of Sodom’s offer of payment out of arrogance. He did it for the glory of Hashem, so that people would see that his wealth was the work of Providence.

Avram’s refusal of the king of Sodom’s offer stands as epitomizing Avraham Avinu’s eternal paradigm for all mankind.

But while Avraham took a stringency upon himself Al Kiddush Hashem, R’ Pliskin cites (“Growth Through Torah”, page 40) the Chofetz Chayim:

…Each person has a right to be stringent when it comes to himself. But it is not proper to force others to be more stringent than is actually obligatory. (Chofetz Chayim al HaTorah)

It is easy to tell others not to do things. But it is important to differentiate between an obligation and that which is beyond the dictates of the [Torah] law. The more elevated one acts, the more praiseworthy. But do not place excessively heavy burdens on others. The Chofetz Chayim was a completely spiritual person who symbolized the essence of a Tzadik. Yet he was the one who taught the above message.

Oh, that the kannoi’yim (criminal element) of certain sectors would learn the Chofetz Chayim and understand his way, as it applies in today’s religious world, i.e. that one segmant can’t foist or coerce their chumrahs, their understandings and extremes, educated or uneducated — under threat of violence or other forms of character defamation, onto others who hold by what they were taught according to their Rabbonim, their Mesora.

And perhaps politicians and “leaders” representing certain “religious” political alignments ought to internalize this principle imparted by Chofetz Chayim as applied to their rhetoric, on occasion, of “jumping ship” on the rest of B’nei Yisrael and on Eretz Yisrael due to the policies of a sitting government, or of any Israeli government whose policies are at variance with theirs.

As we learn about Avraham Avinu and his having derived the existence of The Supreme Creator and King, we surmise that he heard a cerebral Divine message.

We learn that Avraham Avinu went on to have great influence on the people of the world and to amass great wealth. But he could have spared himself the years of suffering in prison, as well as the incident in the fiery furnace, had he simply followed his father’s directions, watched over the business, been quiet about A Divine Creator and not shown impudence to king Nimrod. No earthly superior stood forcing or ordering Avraham Avinu to destroy avodah zora and to promote HaKadosh Borchu. But, to repeat that parody from the Laugh-In line: “The Man without whom the Jews wouldn’t be the Jews without the Jew — Avraham Avinu.”

Avraham Avinu’s recognition, acknowledgement of, and Ahavat (love of) Hashem was self-learned, self-directed — coming only from within himself.

As with Avraham Avinu, Jonathan Pollard was not instructed or ordered by superiors or by a handler to provide Israel with the dire information she needed. Pollard could have been a free man today and over these past 26 years, and been successful in his employment within the American intelligence community, had he just looked the other way as America betrayed Israel via the abrogation of the intelligence-sharing treaty between the two nations. But what would be the fate of Israel, of the Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael and throughout the world had the knowledge about Iraqi weaponry and capacity for chemical, nerve warfare not been revealed to Israel? That modern Israeli homes and apartments are required by law to have been built with sealed rooms is directly attributable to the information provided Israeli intelligence by Jonathan Pollard. Yehonaton ben Malka just couldn’t turn away and couldn’t ignore what he saw as the potential for Jewish blood-letting. He couldn’t ignore the fate of his people in order to maintain his own well-being.

And so too, in our times, as we leyn from Parshat Lech Lecha, we bear witness to a great “Kiddush Hashem” in the personage of Jonathan Pollard — Yehonaton ben Malka. Prayers for his freedom, for his aliyah to Eretz Yisrael, are constantly on our lips and in our hearts.

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

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Noach 5775: “Chamas” and How Man’s Principles can be Compromised to the Point of Non-Existence

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, News Reports on Thursday, October 16th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat HaShevua No’ach is being co-sponsored by Yossie and Ester Sussman and family L’Zchut the Chayalim, and by Moshe and Esther Lindner and family who wish for their children Hotslocha, success and simcha. Both families are from Ramat Beit Shemesh. To the Sussman and Lindner families, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

Please 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 Noach 5775: “Chamas” and How Man’s Principles can be Compromised to the Point of Non-Existence

by Moshe Burt

Rabbi Mordechai Katz, in his sefer “L’ilmod U’Lamed” (page 19) outlines man’s generational evolution of moral decline:

There was a span of ten generations between the life of Adam and that of No’ach. Unfortunately, each new generation ‘s acts represented a moral decline from those of the previous one. Mankind seemed to become morally worse and worse. Yet, Hashem refrained from punishing them. He waited, hoping that man would use their Free Will to repent from their wicked ways. Hashem hoped that they would possibly follow the example of the few righteous men and change their ways. However, these few righteous men alone proved unable to stem the tide, and the populace remained cruel and sinful. …One such Tzadik (righteous person) [was] named Chanoch about whom Torah records “And Chanoch walked in the ways of Hashem.” Yet, … a little further in the Chumash, we find that Hashem found it necessary to end Chanoch’s life before his time. Hashem was afraid that Chanoch might somehow find himself falling under the negative influence of his wicked generation. In this way, Chanoch was able to die as an unblemished Tzaddik and would receive his reward in the World to Come.

Rebbetzin Shira Smiles, in Torah Tapestries on Parsha No’ach (pages 11-13) relates this moral decline through the loshen “chamas” and notes the two meanings of the word “chamas”: corruption and robbery while discussing an opening posuk of our Parsha (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 6, posuk 13) to explain how man can slide further and further into evil:

“Hashem said to No’ach, The end of all flesh is coming before Me, because the earth has become filled with corruption from before them, and behold I am destroying them with the earth.”

Hashem tells No’ach that because the world is filled with chamas(corruption), a flood will come to wipe out mankind. It is hard to fathom how an entire generation could have lived in Hashem’s pristine world and defiled it with such abandon.

Rebbetzin Smiles goes on to render Rashi’s understanding of “chamas”:

Gezel: robbery.

Robbery is an anti-social and dishonest act. No one can live for long in a society where one’s belongings are not safe, knowing that they can vanish if one turns his back. But does the sin of robbery warrant such a severe punishment…. the destruction of the world?

Rebbetzin Smiles also cites the Slonimer Rebbe who explains:

No’ach’s generation embraced corruption. Corrupt behavior cannot be contained or limited; it always spreads. The act of stealing personal property was only the beginning of the downfall for the people of No’ach’s time. Normally, stealing is accepted as a wrongful act. However, the more they stole, the more it became accepted. Eventually stealing became the norm and the intrinsic concepts of right and wrong were overturned. When
civilization flirts with immorality, intolerable behavior is suddenly tolerated.

So it was in the time of No’ach. When stealing became acceptable, Hashem knew that the seams of the world were on their way to coming apart. He therefore had to destroy the world and start again.

So it seems to this author that Rebbetzin Smiles’ rendering of “chamas” applies as well when man begins compromising his principles, even when either having, or claiming to have in mind a greater and more lofty cheshbon of self-perceived Kiddush Shem Shemayim by his compromise. But, in actuality, he proceeds down a sliding road of compromised principles by conforming to immoral societal “authority rules and requirements.” When one bows to peer group pressures so as to perceive one’s self as being highly regarded by others, he is inevitably dragged further and further down the road of compromised principles and morality — each time with the compromise becoming greater and the impact on his society becoming ever more crucial.

Each time, however lofty and L’Shem Shemayim (in the name of Heaven) the self-perceived larger cheshbon seems, at some point down that road of compromised principles, the reality evolves that the entirety of these compromises has NOT been and is NOT Al Kiddush Shem Shemayim despite one’s own perception of having a larger cheshbon, i.e. perceiving one’s self as “protecting the populace integrity of Israel as a Jewish state,” or as acting L’Shem Shemayim. This seems true of compromised principles, countless times over, regarding national leadership groups purporting “connection” with Gedolim, or with groups projecting that they hold of the highest purposes, i.e. Jewish dominion and sovereignty over All of Eretz Yisrael, as well as for local communal leaderships and for individuals within the Kehal. National leadership entities cannot continue to campaign to the people wearing one set of stripes and then change stripes, i.e. “vote right and get left,” expulsions of Jews from Jewish Land, “land-swaps“, or “two-state solutions “, etc. once they attain governance.

Having in mind Hashem’s dismay and great disappointment with the state of man in No’ach’s generation, what must He think regarding the state of our darachim in our generations?

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

Good Shabbos!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Breish’t 5775: Contrasting Breish’t with the Aging Process of Man

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, News Reports on Monday, October 13th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat HaShevua Breish’t is being sponsored by Binyamin and Barbara Lemkin and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh who dedicate the vort to the brave settlers of Yehuda and Shomron who have sacrificed for Eretz Yisrael.. To the Lemkin family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

Please 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 Breish’t 5775: Contrasting Breish’t with the Aging Process of Man

by Moshe Burt

Somehow, not being rabbinic or a Talmud Chacham, it has always seemed difficult to put a true and deep meaning of Hashem’s Creation to words to express the continu’um that is the end and the beginning of Torah. And it is hard to envision and aptly express the creation and constant re-creation of everything, and potentiality for everything from nothingness — from a void.

And it seems hard to get a grip on on the contrast between the end and the beginning of Torah, and the beginning of life and aging process of man, and the suffering which often accompanies that aging process, particularly when it occurs close to home, i.e. parents, spouses, siblings, etc.

Speaking in the first person, as I rarely if ever do, in a weekly Parshat HaShevua, I have found two vorts on our Parsha: one from Rabbi Mordechai Katz in his sefer, “Lilmod U’Lamed” (page 16) and Rebbetzin Shira Smiles, in her sefer, Torah Tapestries on Sefer Breish’t (Parshat Breish’t, pages 3-4) which seem very pertinent regarding the aging process, particularly as they relate to issues affecting my family regarding my Mother’s (aged 91) medical problems.

R’ Katz cites both Rabbi Akiva and the Rambam who were confronted by heretics who, by their questions and linguistically crude responses, stood in stark, stubborn denial of Hashem, HaKadosh Borchu, Creator of all: the universe, the world, land and sea, man and animal, vegetation and all potentiality.

After the heretic demanded of Rabbi Akiva definite proof of Hashem, the Divine Creator, Rabbi Akiva asked the heretic, the atheist, who made the garment that he was wearing?:

“The weaver, of course,” replied the the startled heretic.

“I don’t believe you,” said Rabbi Akiva. “Prove it to me.”

The heretic looked at him scornfully and responded, “Isn’t it obvious that the weaver was the one who made this garment!”

“And yet you do not realize that the Holy One Created the world!” retorted Rabbi Akiva.

The heretic departed, but Rabbi Akiva’s students, who heard this exchange, said to him, “How is your answer a clear proof?”

Rabbi Akiva replied, “My students, just as the presence of a house testifies that it was constructed by a builder, and the garment testifies to the weaver, so too, does the presence of the world testify to the fact that Hashem, the Creator, formed it.” (citing Meshech Chochmah, Vayikra Perek 19, posuk 18)

In the case of the Rambam’s moment with a heretic, R’ Katz writes:

When the Rambam taught that the world was Created by Hashem, a heretic disagreed. Instead, said the heretic, the world had existed forever and no one had created it. The Rambam then asked the heretic to leave the room for several moments. When the heretic re-entered, a beautiful painting appeared on the wall. The heretic admired the painting and asked who had painted it. The Rambam answered that he spilled some paint onto a canvas and that the painting took shape by itself.

The heretic laughed mockingly and said, “That is impossible. Just by looking at the perfect design of the painting, anyone can tell that someone painted it carefully and purposefully.”

The Rambam responded, : The same is true of the world. When examining how perfectly all of its features exist and interact, anyone can tell that it was formed by an All-Knowing Creator.

R’ Katz also cites a posuk from Iyov:

From my body, I deduce the existence of Hashem (Iyov 19)

Rebbetzin Smiles writes citing Sefer Breish’t, Perek 3, posuk 24 and Perek 4, posuk 16 respectively, as well as the Kli Yakar:

When Adam is expelled from the Garden of Eden, he is sent “mi-kedem leGan Eden.” When Kayin (Cain) is punished for killing Hevel (Abel), he is sent to wander, eventually settling in “kidmas Eden.” The literal meaning of kedem [root word from which kidmas is derived] is east, or eastward. East is where the sun rises, with its promise of a new day. The Kli Yakar… explains that on a symbolic level, the sun resembles the life of a human being. It rises in the east, continues to rise toward its fullness in the sky and slowly fades into the west. Life begins in darkness, rises, reaches an apex and sets at its end.

…. They both “went east,” in the opposite direction of their [respective] sin, indicating their correction of their course [indicating their teshuvah, their rectification of their respective sins].

The point of these two vorts it seems is to indicate life’s span seems to flow from east to west. As Ole’ Blue Eyes would sing near the end of his classic; “It Was a Very Good Year”:

But now the days grow short, I’m in the autumn of the year
And now I think of my life as vintage wine from fine old kegs
From the brim to the dregs and it poured sweet and clear
It was a very good year

Or as the great comedian and pianist Jimmy Durante would sing in his famous tune “September Song”:

Oh, the days dwindle down, to a precious few.
September. November.
And these few precious days, I’ll spend with you.
These precious days, I’ll spend with you.

One’s continued life, as we see and daven for on Rosh Hashanah, and fervently hope to be sealed for on Yom Kippur, is in Hashem’s hands alone for each of us, notwithstanding even the doctor’s care and diagnosis, etc. And Torah teaches us that all of everything is created and re-created by Hashem in the minutest, fractions of mili-seconds.

And so I return to the Rosh Hashanah Vort where Rabbi Asher Baruch Wegbreit, in his sefer “The Power of Aleinu” (pages 35-36), cites Rav Chaim Freidlander, Sifsei Chaim on ”Aleinu” and the Malbim:

… The World generally doesn’t apply the term “great” where it truly belongs — with Hashem.

Their reasoning begins with a flawed… assumption that the Creator of the Universe Who is lofty enough to create the universe would never “lower
Himself” to become involved with the lower world that He made…. They don’t feel that the Creator relates to his creations.

We [the Jewish people] know that the Creator does relate to his creations (Rav Chaim Freidlander, Sifsei Chaim,”Aleinu.”) This recognition makes the Jewish people unique and obligates us “to ascribe greatness to the One Who formed Creation.” (Malbim on Tehillim 34:4)

The sum total of the contrast mentioned above is that while Hashem relates to, and with each of us and with all of His Creations, we are still finite, whereas Torah is infinite. We hope and pray for ultimate Ge’ula Shlaima, where our lives are no longer finite. But in our current finite state, what we do here on earth is critical, for when we are no longer here, our Mitzvot, our kindnesses that we do, because they are needed, whether for family or for the Kehal — they live on, attached to the collective memory of the do’er by his/her friends, family, the Kehal and beyond.

My family davens intensely for improvement of my Mother’s condition, for a Refuah Shlaima for, and continued tefillot for Chaya bat Malka. May we, her husband, her son, her siblings have many more days with my Mother in our midst, notwithstanding the hundreds and thousands of miles which, more often than not separate most of us from her.

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

Good Shabbos!!
———————————————————
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Simchat Torah 5775: Moshe, The Final Seal and the Eternal Continu’um of Torah, the Jews and Eretz Yisrael

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, October 11th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Simchat Torah vort is being sponsored by Simon and Aliza Baum and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh who dedicate this vort Lilui Nishmas in honor of Simon’s Mother: Chaya Miriam Bas Boruch. To the Baum family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

Please 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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Simchat Torah 5775: Moshe, The Final Seal and the Eternal Continu’um of Torah, the Jews and Eretz Yisrael

by Moshe Burt

In this year’s Succot vort, this author wrote that the B’nai Yisrael, as an Am Segula (a nation apart and unique from the other nations), as Hashem’s special, chosen people; we visit, bond, and celebrate our special and unique relationship with HaKodosh Borchu. This unique, closely-bonded relationship is expressed by the spiritual connection drawn between the final seal placed on one’s future in the coming year on Hoshana Rabbah, and the recitation of Tehillim psalm # 27: “L’David Hashem O’ri…” from Rosh Chodesh Elul through Simchat Torah night.

To reiterate from the Succot vort:

The custom to recite this psalm of repentence is based on the Midrash [Vayikra Rabbah, Perek 21, siman 4] which expounds: “Hashem is my light” on Rosh Hashana; “and my salvation” on Yom Kippur; “He will hide me in His shelter”… an allusion to Succot. The implication is that Rosh Hashana, Hashem helps us to see the light and repent; on Yom Kippur, He provides us salvation by forgiving our sins. Once we are forgiven, He shelters us from all foes and dangers, just as He sheltered our ancestors in the wilderness.

In Chutz L’Aretz that Sh’mini Atzeres is expressed as if one’s entire family, from various venues, are all together and savoring the love, bonding and enjoyment of being together — between the parent and off-spring and siblings with each other and their parent. And so when it comes time for each to leave to return to their various venues and responsibilites, the parent pleads that the offspring stay together with him for one more day. And so Hashem Kovei’yokhel (as He is) Calls to His loved ones — the B’nai Yisrael to stay with Him one more day. We learn that in Eretz Yisrael, there is one day of Succot Yom Tov, five Chol HaMo’ed days(intermediate days as with Pesach) and, Simchat Torah — the last day Yom Tov which contains within it the attribute of Sh’mini Atzeres — that special time of bonding and expressions of love — Am Yisrael for our Father, our Creator, our eternal and universal King, and Hashem’s special and loving connection to Am Yisrael alone.

Hashem sooo treasures the B’nai Yisrael that after Hashana Rabbah and sealing the fate of the nations in the coming year, He, so to speak, wants to bask in the love and joy of being with and bonding only with B’nai Yisrael. And so, on Simchat Torah, we joyously celebrate as we follow the leyning of V’zos HaBracha and of the seven days of Breish’t in a spirit of bonding with Hashem that is the last day of Yom Tov. And when we make our home in Hashem’s special, designated Land — Eretz Yisrael, the joy of Simchat Torah increases countless-fold for we are with Him in His Very Palace.

Shem Mishmuel concludes a vort on V’zos HaBracha this way;

Let us propose that these brachot are eternal, that they were not just pronounced by Moshe to Klal Yisrael on his last day on earth, but like the rest of Torah, their influence is everlasting. Indeed, the beautiful blessings which Moshe bestowed upon us are still with us, as if he were standing and blessing every one of us today. Of course, as with their inception, the quality of the brachot will depend upon the ability of each of us to successfully receive them.

Perhaps this is why, throughout history, the Jewish people have ended the cycle of Torah-reading on Simchat Torah, rather than at any other time or on any other festival. Tishrei marks the most intense opportunity for spiritual development of the Jewish year. Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Succot, and Shemini Atzeret are all within a few days of each other. It is only after all of these observances and experiences that we are at our most receptive to the Divine blessing. At that zenith of spiritual success, we read the final verses of the Torah, including Moshe’s blessings to his nation, hoping and praying that we will merit to receive them for the year ahead. (Sefer Shem Mishmuel, V’zos HaBracha, page 459)

As a note, R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch z”l, in the New Hirsch Chumash (Sefer Devarim, page 788) writes on V’zos HaBracha:

This blessing… was not Hashem’s word, but Moshe’s words, and the designation given here to Moshe teaches us that these words are to be accorded incomparatively higher than would be accorded to the words of ordinary man. Indeed it was “Moshe the man of G’d” who pronounced this blessing; it was uttered by the msan who Hashem deemed worthy to be in close relationship to Him. Although it is possible that this bracha was not given in the way of prophesy, it was in any case inspired by a holy spirit.

When we receive the Brachot for the year to come, as given over before his death by “Moshe, the man of G’d” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 33, posuk 1) in V’zos HaBracha on Simchat Torah, we should/must recognize, that these final verses don’t mark a finish, a completion but rather just a beginning [like the end of one baseball season with the crowning of World Champions followed almost immediately by non-stop preparations for the inception of the new season].

Sefer L’lmod Ul’lamed, by Rabbi Mordecai Katz (Parshat V’zos HaBracha, pages 190-192) writes on V’zos HaBracha:

“Moshe commanded us the law, an eternal heritage for the congregation of Yaakov.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 33, posuk 4)

This verse… is a most important one in the framework of the Jewish religion. [What this author often calls Judaism 101] The Talmud states that it is this verse which every father must teach his young child. A child who appreciates this will develop into a loyal Jew.

Note the inclusion of the word “congregation”… The Jewish people can thrive only if it remains a congregation, a unified whole…. The entire law cannot be fully observed unless the entire congregation of Jews accepts it…

…Torah laws encourage the maintenance of a congregation, an association of people serving Hashem together…. It is as a congregation that we can best survive and that we can best fulfill Hashem’s laws.

Rabbi Katz then offers a beautiful interpretation by The Rogotchover Gaon followed by his own comments:

The Torah is an eternal inheritance of the Jewish people. It is ours to treasure, protect, love and obey. It will remain ours no matter what circumstances we live in… The Torah will remain the same and the Jews must remain true to it.

V’zos HaBracha… is not the end of the Torah…. There is no end to Torah. Like the water to which is compared, it flows forever…

On the very same day that we finish V’zos HaBracha, we commence the reading of Parshat Breish’t…. Torah remains an ever-fresh spring from which every new generation of Jews can draw.

The eternal Torah renews itself eternally in applicability and pertinence with the end of the current cycle and beginning of each new cycle. The joy of completion must extend to the joy of continuance, the joy of new learning and new perspectives which build level upon level on that already learned.

In Hashem’s expression of creation in Sefer Breish’t, Perek 1, posuk 1; “Breish’t, Bora, Kelokim eit HaShemayim v’eit Ha’Aretz” (”In the beginning, Hashem created the heavens and the earth”), Torah surely wasn’t referring to that parody of Major League Baseball; you know the one, ‘In the big inning.’

As religious Jews, we understand that Hashem continuously, instantaneously creates and recreates. And so the eternality of Torah as well as the meaning, actualization and application of Jewish learning and the continuity and constancy of Hashem’s creation are inextricably linked and maximized with Am Yisrael’s connection and presence in our eternal homeland — Eretz Yisrael.

So we must take the craving for real improvement, the craving expressed during the Yomim Noraim, to make things right between our Jewish brethren and throughout Am Yehudi into the new year. And at this auspicious time, may all of us have our brother Jonathan Pollard — Yehonatan Ben Malka, and Sholom Rubashkin both of whom have suffered the injustices of the US Justice System and extraordinarily long prison sentences, prominently in our hearts, thoughts, prayers and in mind in our actions — that Hashem see to their respective releases and return to their brethren in THIS year — sooner than later.

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

L’Shana Tova, Chag Same’ach — may all who read this be inscribed and completely sealed for a healthy, happy, sweet and prosperous 5774 and every year thereafter to at least 120!
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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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Succot 5775: Prophesy — Semi-Fulfilled

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Friday, October 10th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Succot 5775: Prophesy — Semi-Fulfilled

by Moshe Burt

During Asseret Yomei Teshuva, the ten days of repentence between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, there were heated public exchanges between Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and US president Barack Hussein Obama regarding PM Netanyahu’s announcement of construction of a new housing development in east Jerusalem.

A quote from “L’Dovid Hashem Ori” that we say twice a day from the beginning of Chodesh Elul through Hoshana Rabbah: : “He will hide me in His shelter” … an allusion to Succot. Jews recognize that Hashem has dominion over the world and that man can’t look to or have trust in the physical, such as stone, iron or steel structures, etc. to provide protection. The nations, conversely, look to tall, fortifed edifices for security and protection.

Gemura Mesechet Avodah Zora, daf gimmel relates that in the future, the nations would seek reward from Hashem as they related how they did and made many things to benefit the Jews, and make the claim that had Hashem forced them to accept Torah as He did the Jews, that they would have accepted Hashem’s Law as well. So Hashem offers them one Mitzvah to do — Succah. [Many thanks to R' Ari Enkin, R' Moshe Braun, R' Chaim Zev Malinowitz, Sh'lita for their help in providing a clearer understanding of of the above Gemura.]

When Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu responded to a recent White House rebuke of the new Israeli construction calling the criticism “against American values,” the Obamanator fired back, through a White House spokesman:

“When it comes to American values, it’s American values that led to this country’s unwavering support of Israel,” Mr. Earnest [White House spokesman] said. “It’s American values that have led us to fund an Iron Dome system” to protect Israelis from rocket attacks by Islamist militants.

This author also saw other coverages of the public exchanges which indicated that the White House spokesman also noted that the US permitted Israel to defend herself and provided her with military aid. Ergo, the title above: “Prophesy — Semi-Fulfilled” for we have yet to see the Obamanator, the “leader” of the nations, sit in a Succah — the one mitzvah which Hashem, according to prophecy, offers the leader to prove the sincerity of the nations.

And so, the story goes that a king, or head of state of the nations will sit in the Succah and Hashem would bring an intense heat, more intense than the heavy heat of Arnoldis Chapman’s hardest fastball. The head of state can’t take the intense heat (Well, you know “If you can’t take the heat, get
out of the kitchen”) and leaves the Succah, kicking the door in as he leaves, thereby validating, as if Hashem needs any validation, for choosing B’nai Yisrael as His nation and people.

Our emunah in Hashem as our protector is what distinguishes us from every other nation and people.

Critical Decisions in the Beginning of 5775: Please daven for my Mother — Chaya bat Malka

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, News Reports on Friday, October 10th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Critical Decisions in the Beginning of 5775: Please daven for my Mother — Chaya bat Malka

by Moshe Burt

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We made a critical decision just after Yom Kippur re: my Mother (Chaya bat Malka), to go with Hospice Care and I realize that the issue of Hospice care is controversial and misunderstood by many in the Frum Community. My Mother was discharged from the hospital on Tuesday night and was transported back home to her apartment in their Assisted Living Facility to be with my 96 year old Father under the aegis of the Vitas Hospice team All care will be administered to my Mother in the comfort of their apartment at “The Bridge.”

This Hospice care will be endeavoring to find soft foods for nutrition, hydration which my Mother would be able to ingest by mouth without complication, i.e. regurgitation, etc. and will work on adjusting things such as her posture when eating, etc. to B’ezrat Hashem enable her to get nutrition and stay hydrated (water). This is crucial for her.

This evolves out out my family’s decision to have my Mother serviced by Hospice while being at home with my Father in their assisted living apartment at “The Bridge” in Lauderhill, FL, rather than to have invasive procedures on a 91 year old woman who can’t swallow, or can’t swallow the vast majority of foods, liquids, has internal bleeding from an unknown source and who has been on cumedin blood thinner and other medications. Such invasive procedures as a tube down her throat and a peg-tube through belly into stomach would have precluded her from returning to the assisted living facility which she and my Father love and in which they are receiving excellent care. “The Bridge” does not have facilities to enable handling someone who would have this peg-tube procedure as a means of providing nutrition and hydration. To have opted for the peg-tube procedure would have meant uprooting one or both my parents, both in 90s, perhaps separating them such that they would both suffer and this suffering inevitably would be life-threatening for the both of them. It is mental mindset, quality of life issues and that my parents are secular Jews — I have to go with the flow and not impose frum standards upon them.

My Mother was in the Hospital since just before Rosh Hashana and in the Critical Care Unit until either the day before Yom Kippur or Motsei Yom
Kippur when she was placed in a regular room 209B. I was told by one or two CCU nurses that my Mother had been given applesauce, chocolate pudding and crushed ice by mouth with no complications, no regurgitation, although I am told by the Hospice team that these facts did not appear, or eluded (my word) the hospital’s patient records. Therefore, the Hospice team will hopefully, in my words, be able to extrapolate from the above and to find and administer nutrients and hydration to her orally in coordination with the nursing staff at “The Bridge.”

Further, the Hospice care she is now receiving is from one of the best, if not THE best Hospice care organization in the US — Vitas Hospice care in Florida which is accredited by the NIJH (National Institute of Jewish Hospice) whose President and Founder is Rabbi Dr. Maurice Lamm, a Modern Orthodox Rav, and brother of Rabbi Dr Norman Lamm, former president of Yeshiva University. I came to become aware of the NIJH through Google searches re: Jewish Hospice.

I personally spoke with Rabbi Dr. Lamm and his Rebbetzin who had good things to say about Vitas Hospice care, as does the head nurse at “The Bridge” and my parents’ financial consultant in Florida.

Succot 5775: Moshiach, Redemption, and the Final Seal — Are Our Tefillot Worthy of Our Distinction?

Filed under: News Reports on Sunday, September 28th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Succot vort is being sponsored by Haim and Danit Kalb and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh to Lilui Nishmas the Yahrtzeit of Haim’s Grandfather Efraim ben R’ Mordechai. To the Kalb 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 (or as the case may be, co-sponsoring) a Parshat HaShevua.

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Succot 5775: Moshiach, Redemption, and the Final Seal — Are Our Tefillot Worthy of Our Distinction?

by Moshe Burt

Having emerged from Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, hopefully all have been inscribed and sealed for a happy, healthy, successful and meaningful year and years ahead, we find ourselves in the midst of Succot.

During Succot, the B’nai Yisrael, as an Am Segula (a nation apart and unique from the other nations), as Hashem’s special, chosen people, visit, bond, and celebrate our special and unique relationship with HaKodosh Borchu.

Just a note here, we recite Tehillim psalm #27: “L’David Hashem O’ri…” twice daily from Rosh Chodesh Elul through Simkhat Torah night (through Shemini Atzeres in Khutz L’Aretz). The Succot makhsor (Nusakh Ashkenaz, pages 68-69) explains:

The custom to recite this psalm of repentence is based on the Midrash [Vayikra Rabbah, Perek 21, siman 4] which expounds: “Hashem is my light” on Rosh Hashana; “and my salvation” on Yom Kippur; “He will hide me in His shelter”… an allusion to Succot. The implication is that Rosh Hashana, Hashem helps us to see the light and repent; on Yom Kippur, He provides us salvation by forgiving our sins. Once we are forgiven, He shelters us from all foes and dangers, just as He sheltered our ancestors in the wilderness.

Various commentators cite the Zohar Vayikra daf 31b which indicates that the final sealing in the Book of Life occurs on Hoshana Rabbah. Thus, one could draw a definitive spiritual connection between this final sealing of one’s future in the coming year on Hoshana Rabbah, and the recitation of Tehillim psalm #27: “L’David Hashem O’ri…” from Rosh Khodesh Elul through Simkhat Torah night.

[Many thanks to R' Yedidya Kramer of Ramat Beit Shemesh for his help in nailing down the exact sources: [Vayikra Rabbah, Perek 21, siman 4 and Zohar Vayikra daf 31b above]

From the above citing: “He will hide me in His shelter”… an allusion to Succot. Jews recognize that Hashem has dominion over the world and that man can’t look to or have trust in the physical, such as stone, iron or steel structures, etc. to provide protection. The nations, conversely, look to tall, fortifed edifices for security and protection.

Gemura Mesechet Avodah Zora, daf gimmel relates that in the future, the nations would seek reward from Hashem as they related how they did and made many things to benefit the Jews, and make the claim that had Hashem forced them to accept Torah as He did the Jews, that they would have accepted Hashem’s Law as well. So Hashem offered them one Mitzvah to do — Succah.

The story goes that a king, or head of state of the nations will sit in the Succah and Hashem would bring an intense heat, more intense than the heavy heat of Arnoldis Chapman’s hardest fastball. The head of state can’t take the intense heat and leaves the Succah, kicking the door in as he leaves.

Our emunah in Hashem as our protector is what distinguishes us from every other nation and people. [Many thanks to R' Ari Enkin, R' Moshe Braun, R' Chaim Zev Malinowitz, Sh'lita for their help in providing a clearer understanding of of the above Gemura.]

Prominent in our thoughts during Succot are the Haftorahs where the prophecy of the War of Gog and Magog, Moshiakh, the Ge’ula Shlaima (the Redemption) and the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash are pronounced. Or, as the expression goes among baseball fans each springtime — right down to the fans of the most hapless MLB team; “Hope springs eternal!”

But before we can question what the relationship is between the War of Gog and Magog and the simanim of Succot: the Lulav, Etrog, Hadassim and Aravah, and before we approach the simcha, the happiness and light of Succot; fundamental questions still seem, to this author, to need thought and introspection. These questions regard where one’s personal kavanah (intent, concentration and understanding) regarding tefillah is.

One need wonder; what motivation of the nations could be behind their seeking reward? Would the nations perceive Succot as “an easy Mitzvah”, “a free pass” courtesy of HaKadosh Borchu? And might we also ask questions of ourselves as to whether we have institutionalized short-cuts in our tefillot? Whether our tefillot, all year long, are worthy of our unique relationship with Hashem?

With the added insight regarding the parallel between “L’David Hashem O’ri…” and the final sealing in the Book of Life, this author yet again asks the following questions: Are we collectively and systematically programmed for success or failure by our personal kavanah in tefillah? Why have Shaliach Tzibborim seemingly drawn “a bye”, a free pass in “the system” regarding “Rabbinic injunction” concerning correct, fluent pronounciation and not slurring or running-on words of tefillot, etc. during Chazarat HaShatz? Why are those given Aliyah honors seemingly exempted from Halachic rules concerning pronounciation of Baruch Attah Hashem and Melekh HaOlam during Brachot over the Torah? And why the elaborated, elongated time-consuming khazzanut during Khazzarat HaShatz (repetition of Shemonah Essrei) at the cost of short-shrifting Aleinu? Can any communal leader explain the rationales?

One may well wonder what is meant here. Bluntly, and to the point: Is an individual’s spiritual growth as well as his bonding and kesher with Hashem systemically stifled, stymied, blunted and nipped in the bud by collective peer-pressure to conform to Kehilla-imposed time-limits at each step or section of tefillah? This author views these questions and thoughts as critically important to air, even now, once we have passed Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, lest we begin to back-slide into the old familiar patterns. And to date, there have been no answers received, no answers received from Rabbanim, from communal leaders. Why?? Are they all sooo handcuffed, for fear for their jobs, for their branding, for their overseas donations, for fear of ridicule by their peers that they fear to back up their words about intent and concentration regarding tefillot with concrete actions by systemically imposing changes which address the issues raised here?

This author is NOT a Talmud khacham, but when Rabbanim urge their followers, the Kehillot to “slow down — you are standing before The Melekh Ekhad, The Creator — pronounce the words of tefillah properly — understand what you are davening,” those words are strong, powerful, to be taken seriously. But how does one reconcile the words of mussar with the compelling and disruptive pressure that an individual is made to feel to conform to systemic Kehillah-imposed norms such as “the 6 minute rule” for Shemoneh Esrei, the sub-one minute Aleinu, etc. lest his personal concentration be totally shot by the Chazan’s repetition or Kaddish?

And when stam individuals suffer the continual conflict of the mortal race with the Shaliakh Tzibbor to Khazarat HaShatz, imagine the extent of the compelling and disruptive pressure felt by Kohanim who are Halachically compelled to be ready to have their hands washed at or shortly after conclusion of Kedusha in order to be ready to ascend to the Duchan by the Bracha of Retzei.

One could go on and on as to the contradictions in spirit inherent in unrealistic Kehilla-imposed systemic time limits at each stage of tefillah.

Are all of the spoken and written words about intent and concentration during tefillot empty and devoid of content vs the “system”, which the Shaliach Tzibbor is bound by conformance with, which mandates blowing through Aleinu as if shot from a rocket. This author has written at length on this — as if the B’nai Yisrael:

“… fled from the mountain of G’d like a child running away from school.” (Rabbi Artscroll mentions a Ramban on Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 10, posukim 35-36)

So we ponder why Moshiakh has not yet appeared. And if, as we are told by our Rabbanim, that we must ask, pray to, beseech Hashem in order to receive, it seems likely that our short-comings in tefillah are continuous, built-in to the system and seem directly attributable to not receiving what we seek and denial to our brother of the same opportunity to ask and receive, both on a personal and national level. In essence, it seems as if we have collectively been systemically programmed by “the system” to fail by virtue of time-restrictive prayer.

And so we ponder the War of Gog and Magog:

“When Gog, all his army and all of the nations attack Israel, even in a redemption ‘in haste,’ Israel will tremble with fear. Afterward, G’d will rise up and destroy the nations in the final redemption, as in the first one.” (”The Jewish Idea”, by Rabbi Meir Kahane, Z’l, Vol. 2, page 984)
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“Our sages said (Tanchuma, Re’eh, 9); “…In the future, Gog and Magog will attack Israel, and they too will be burnt up with one fire, as it says, ‘I will punish him with pestilence, blood and torrential rain […fire and brimstone]. At that moment, I will magnify and sanctify Myself, and make Myself known to many nations.’” (Yecheskel, 38.22-23 in part, as quoted from”The Jewish Idea”, by Rabbi Meir Kahane, Z’l, Vol. 2, page 984)

May it be that there be root changes in the way that B’nai Yisrael davens such that questions about intent need not be repeated in the future, so that we — the Jewish people truly distinguish ourselves in Hashem’s view, and that we collectively merit being sealed for life in the coming year and always and that we merit Moshiakh and the Ge’ula Shlaima before its time.

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

L’Shana Tova, Chag Same’ach and Good Shabbos! — may all who read this enjoy healthy, happy, sweet and prosperous 5775 and every year thereafter to at least 120!
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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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Yom Kippur 5775: The Unity of Am Yisrael as Hashem’s Kohanim to the Nations

Filed under: News Reports on Saturday, September 27th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Yom Kippur vort is being sponsored by Yossie and Elisheva Schulman of Ramat Beit Shemesh. To Yossie, Elisheva and the Schulman family, may you all be inscribed and sealed for only simcha, success, good health, nachas from your children, and only good things in the year to come and to at least 120 years. Many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo. com
skype: mark.burt3
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Yom Kippur 5775: The Unity of Am Yisrael as Hashem’s Kohanim to the Nations

By Moshe Burt

As Yom Kippur 5775 approaches, this author thought to glance back at the calendar some 41 years to Yom Kippur 5734, also on Shabbos. That Yom Kippur marked the surprise dual-frontal attacks on Israel by Egypt and Syria marking the beginning of the Yom Kippur War. To this day, although Israel was to beat back these attacks which threatened her/our very existence some 19 days later, and actually emerged victorious solidifying her hold of Mt. Hermon and gaining additional areas of the Golan Heights while crossing the Suez Canal and encircling the Egyptian 3rd Army, we bare the scars of the Yom Kippur War by way of an evolved, engrained leftist elite of media, intelligencia, university professors, judges and politicians who came to the fore in the war’s wake. Those scars are firmly implanted in two generations of Israel’s governmental leaders and politicians, as well as substantial segments of Am Yisrael, the seeds of addictive dependency on a super-power for aid, diplomatic support, etc., such that our leaders feel it necessary to conform to a hypocritical standard of “western morality” in time of war, against enemies committed to our eradication and annihilation, that no country, including the United States has ever adhered to in any war ever fought.

And so, with the current Gaza War, Operation Protective Edge this past summer still fresh and sensitive in our hearts, we look back over these past 41 years and try to glean lessons for our time, both positive in terms of the great unity achieved by the masses of Am Yisrael during the combat and negative in terms of what we have to keep learning, relearning and hopefully intellectualizing regarding how a war for Torah, a war for Jewish survival and sovereignty must halachically be fought.

The Mussaf portion of any prayers; Yom Tov, Rosh Chodesh, Shabbos represent the essence, the main point of that day.

On Yom Kippur, the essence of the service, the ikar is the avodah of the Kohen Godol. So much so is this the case that the Mussaf service centers around the order of the Kohen Godol’s service in the Kadosh Kedoshim (the Holy of Holies in the Beit HaMikdash). The service includes all of the preparations which the Kohen Godol makes prior to the service, the clothing he must wear at each step of the avodah, the number of times that the Kohen must bathe himself prior to each change of clothing and before each step of his service, the drawing of lots determining which goat is for Hashem and which for The Mountain of Azazel (the goat designated by lot to bear the burden of death to rectify B’nai Yisrael’s sins) and more. The preparation of the Kohen for his service in the Kadosh Kedoshim, as previously described in Parshat Emor, even extends to appointing a substitute Kohen Godol to perform the avodah in the Kadosh Kedoshim should the annointed Kohen Godol become incapacitated, and designating a stand-by wife for the Kohen Godol in event that his current wife dies, in order that he satisfy halacha that he be married such as to enable him to atone for his household and thus be able to serve in the Kadosh Kedoshim on Yom Kippur on behalf of B’nei Yisrael. (as cited from Mishnayot Yoma — Artscroll Mishna Series, Perek 1, Mishna 1)

And by virtue of our being Hashem’s “most favored nation”, The Kohen Godol is to the Jews a paradigm of Hashem’s blueprint of what the Jews are to represent — Hashem’s Kohanim — His Priestly People to the other nations of Mankind.

It seems that in order to project Hashem’s paradigm of Majesty, of Kohanim to the nations and peoples fo the world, we must be unified within ourselves, within Am Yisrael. We saw great unity this summer during the Gaza War, but does the unity continue once the ground war ceased and the rockets stopped blitzing?

There is a d’var Torah by the Shem Mishmuel (Sefer Shem Mishmuel, Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski, pages 440-441). The thoughts expressed by the Shem Mishmuel seem particularly pertinent this Yom Kippur.

In this d’var, Shem Mishmuel cites Moshe Rabbeinu’s final address to the B’nei Yisrael (Devarim, Perek 29, posukim 9-10):

You are all standing here today, before the Lord, your G’d — your heads, your tribes, your elders, and your officers, every Jewish man. Your children, your women, the outsider who is in your camp, from your woodcutter to your water-drawer.

Shem Mishmuel then explains that:

These divisions of people represent the whole gamut of the nation, from young to old, the powerful and the ordinary — in short, everyone of every type.

He explains that the ketores (incense) was a component of the daily korbonot (offerings), but that on Yom Kippur it would play a primary role.

He continues:

The Kohen Gadol took a shovel-full of incense into the Holy of Holies and waited there until the cloud of spices filled the room. This incense contained eleven spices, ten of which were pleasant-smelling, but one of which had a foul odor. We may suggest that the ten sweet-smelling spices corresponded to the ten groups within the Jewish people noted above.

…Ketores… is etymologically linked to kesher, which means “connection.” The spices were pounded together to make a single compound. This illustrates that each group within Israel must recognize that it has value only as part of a larger entity. When this occurs [the pounding and grinding together of all ten spices into a single compound - MB] , it is possible to add the eleventh, malodorous spice, which represents the bad elements within YIsrael. Only when these eleven spices are pounded into indistinguishable dust, that is completely mingled, can they be brought to the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur. In the same way, only when everyone, good or bad, acts for a single purpose, nullifying his individuality to the benefit of the community, can the “compound” of the Jewish people be presented to G’d for His scrutiny… However, if dissonance exists within the various elements of the klal, then the weaker, eleventh group cannot join. Since there is already disharmony among the people, adding the sinful element will not produce a completely unified Yisrael and…. will cause additional strife, as the weaker group will join one side or the other of the rift, strengthening the divide.

…To achieve real unity in the community, and throughout Am Yisrael, a sort of “grinding” of the personality is needed. It is arrogance which leads to disunity, the feeling that one is special and in some way above everyone else. One must pound this arrogance out of one’s character to effect the realization that one’s whole existence depends on the community.

There is another citing which amplifies the above. Gemara Mesechta Megillah, page 25a1 (Shottenstein edition) cites Mishnah Perek 4, posuk 9:

One who says [about Hashem - MB]: “Good men shall bless You” — this is the way of heresy.

The footnote in gemara on this Mishnah reads:

For he does not include the wicked among those who praise G’d, and the Sages teach us (Kereisos 6b) that any public fast that does not include the transgressors of Israel is not accepted, They derive this from the inclusion of galbunim, which emits a foul odor, among the ingredients of the incense offered in the Beit HaMikdash. Similarly, the wicked must be considered as part of the congregation of Israel. (Attributions to Rashi; cf. Ran, Meiri)

And consider this profound citing written by Yehoshua Starrett, the translator and editor of the Sefer “To Heal the Soul” authored by the Aish Kodesh, the Rebbe Piazecna, R’ Kalonymus Kalman Shapira as a journal (pages xvii-xviii):

In Warsaw he was confronted with the Sabbath desecration epidemic of the 1920s by the irreligious Jewish socialists. In this too, Rebbe Kalonymous accomplished with his love and understanding what others were unable to do with their campaigning.

He used to say that in every single Jew, even the most belligerently antireligious, is a spark of Jewish soul that needs only to be reached, opened and ignited in the right way. Rebbe Kalonymous knew how to do this. After several meetings with him, these hard socialist leaders admitted their difficulty arguing with him…

Rebbe Kalonymous was indeed a most devoted leader, both in the spiritual and material sense. “A rebbe who is not willing to enter Gehinnom to save a follower is not a rebbe,” he used to say….

In other words, the Aish Kodesh too held that every Jew has that “spark of Jewish Soul,” The pintele Yid, that every Jew was integral in making up the total Ketores, the scent that rises to Shemayim.

Accepting that even though other sectors may not meet certain standards in the minds of some, and may represent to these — the galbanum, WE ARE, STILL AND ALL JEWS?.

May we pour our hearts out to Hashem this Yom Kippur with purity, complete unity and deep sincerity leaving “nothing in the lockerroom” on a national level as well as locally and as individuals. May Hashem grant us a happy, healthy and sweet new year, a new year where a Jewish governance of national pride and self-image replaces the current shameful state of Israeli governance. As Rabbi Moshe Ungar would always say before a fast, back in Philly — back in the “old country”, “Daven hard, fast easy” — Tefillah Kasher V’Tzom Kal!

But as we daven, we need all keep in mind the the words of this golden oldie:

“Private Eyes are watchin’ you… watchin’ you, watchin’ you, watchin’ you! Private Eyes!”

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

L’Shana Tova! May YOU, All of My Brothers, Sisters, be Sealed, for a Year of Life, Health, Simcha, Success and only good things… Now and Always!
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Moshe Burt is an Oleh, writer and commentator on news and events in Eretz Yisrael. He is the founder and director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network and lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Ha’azinu 5775: Hashem’s Covenant With Am Yisrael — Are We Living Up to Our Obligations and Responsibilities?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, September 20th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua is being sponsored by Dr. Eliyahu and Shuli Gherman of Ramat Beit Shemesh to commemorate Eliyahu’s Bar Mitzvah parsha — Ha’azinu. To Mishpochat Gherman, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo. com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat Ha’azinu 5775: Hashem’s Covenant With Am Yisrael — Are We Living Up to Our Obligations and Responsibilities?

by Moshe Burt

Parshat Ha’azinu begins with Moshe’s words:

“Ha’azinu HaShemayim V’adabeirah…”

“Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak; and may the earth hear the words of my mouth.” (Artscroll Chumash, Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, posuk 1, pages 1100-1101)

Rav Shimshon Rafael Hirsch z’l, in the Hirsch Chumash (Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, posuk 1, pages 742-743) renders Moshe’s statement “Ha’azinu HaShemayim V’adabeirah…” and comments:

“Incline your ear, O Heaven, I would speak, And let the earth hear the words of my mouth.”

“V’adabeirah — I wish to speak, I have something to say. This is the request addressed to heaven. Moshe is willing to speak only after heaven [perhaps euphemistically meaning Hashem?, although the "h" of heaven is not capitalized -- MB] has inclined its ear to listen to his words.”

Ha’azinu: This is appointment of the heaven and earth as witnesses and guarantors of Hashem’s Covenant with Israel and of what will be said regarding Israel’s future.

Ha’azin is to be distinguished from Shema. Ha’azin means to incline one’s ear; the Ma’azin [the one asked to incline -- MB] turns to the speaker in order to listen to his words. By contrast, one can hear (L’shmo’ah) without wishing to do so.

Heaven and earth are called upon to represent Hashem’s Covenant, and this representation is carried out primarily by Heaven, and only indirectly by
the earth. Heaven is active; the earth is essentially passive, because all of the blessing and curse in the physical development of the earth… results from the cosmic changes that occur outside the earth, and these are included in the concept of HaShemayim [Heaven].

In the service of the purposes of Hashem’s rule, heaven is active, dispensing its gifts, whereas the earth is essentially passive, a receiver.

Shem Mishmuel describes Ha’azinu as;

A poem which Moshe Rabbeinu recited to Klal Yisrael… It discusses the uniqueness of Klal Yisrael, their future, how they should conduct themselves, how they will stray, and how Hashem will treat them mercifully. (Shem Mishmuel, Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, Parsha Ha’azinu, pge 433)

Rabbi Artscroll (Artscroll Stone Chumash, Commentary on Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, p’sukim 7-9) cites S’forno recalling from history that Hashem created the world so that all of the nations would join together in achieving Hashem’s goal of righteousness. But when they failed, He chose B’nai Yisrael as the paradigm of that goal. Hashem gave them a Land where they could serve Him according to Torah’s laws with simcha, success and prosperity. But when the B’nai Yisrael rebelled, forgot and forsook Hashem for other counsel and avodah zora, they deserved destruction. But to avoid Chillul Hashem — desecration of His Name, Hashem, in His mercy, only exiled them in order that they be redeemed in times of Moshiach and the Ge’ula Shlaima.

Tehillim Psalm 81 expresses clearly the point of Hashem’s mercy where B’nai Yisrael rebelled, forgot and strayed from Hashem and Torah (Artscroll Nusach S’fard siddur, page 175):

“I am Hashem, your G’d, who elevated you from the land of Mitzrayim, open wide your mouth and I will fill it. But My people did not heed My voice and Israel did not desire Me. So I let them follow their heart’s fantasies, they follow their own counsels. If only My people would heed Me, if Israel would walk in My ways. In an instant, I would subdue their foes, and against their tormentors turn My hand…. He would feed him with the cream of wheat, and with honey from a rock sate you.”

The Ha’azinu poem asks (Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, posuk 30) regarding either Israel’s conquest over an enemy posssesing vastly superior forces, or Israel’s conquest by her enemies despite her possessing numerically superior forces:

“For how could one pursue a thousand, and two cause a myriad to flee?”

L’lmod U’Lamed, (L’lmod U’Lamed, Rabbi Mordechai Katz, Parsha Ha’azinu, p. 189-190) notes by this posuk, that:

Moshe reminds B’nai Yisrael how when they find themselves capable of defeating a vastly superior army, it was Hashem Who is responsible for their victory

L’lmod U’Lamed continues by describing contemporary instances where Hashem protected Israel, in the Six Day War; the paratrooper who parachuted into Yerushalayim and was hit by snipers and emerged uninjured — a bullet lodged in his Tefillin bag, and in the Yom Kippur War when a tank crew recited Tehillim and then confronted what it thought was enemy tanks and it’s cannon jammed when attempting to fire. Turned out that these “enemy tanks” were actually manned by the fellow Jews who had captured them in battle and who were now returning to their base.

And we now have stories emerging from this summer’s war with Hamas in Gaza, such as these which many or most subscribers undoubtedly have seen versions of:

In the recent Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Iron Dome Missile Defense system has been quite effective in preventing rockets from hitting targets in Israel, thus avoiding many civilian casualties. But it isn’t perfect. According to Israel Today, about 10% of the missiles predicted by the Iron Dome’s radar to hit civilian targets, for some reason, do not hit those targets. Many in Israel and believers around the world say that reason is the favor or hand of G’d.

Recent headlines have brought reports of missiles aimed by Hamas somehow changing direction in midair…. An Israeli commander described a miracle of God covering his troops with a cloud to protect them. He calls them “clouds of glory,” reminiscent of the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night that led the children of Israel through the desert with Moses in millennia past.

Another such miraculous story was reported by an Israeli News site and translated by Israel Today… An Iron Dome battery commander tells an amazing story of a Hamas missile that was thwarted by the hand of God from its trajectory toward likely civilian targets:

“A missile was fired from Gaza. Iron Dome precisely calculated [its trajectory]. We know where these missiles are going to land down to a radius of 200 meters. This particular missile was going to hit either the Azrieli Towers, the Kirya (Israel’s equivalent of the Pentagon) or [a central Tel Aviv railway station]. Hundreds could have died.”

The Azrieli Towers is a majestic set of three skyscrapers with Tel-Aviv’s largest shopping mall located at the base of the Towers. According to Tel-Aviv’s local city guide, the mall has a dizzying array of shops, complete with a play area for children. If the missile had hit there, the loss of innocent civilian life, including children, would have been staggering.

The Kirya Tower is Israel’s sixth tallest building, located next to the Azrieli Towers. It is primarily a government building, although approximately 11 floors of the 40-floor structure are allocated as civilian offices. Again, a missile headed toward it put hundreds of civilian lives at risk.

The Tel Aviv HaShalom Railway Station is likely the other possible target as it is connected to the Azrieli shopping mall by a bridge. It is one of Israel’s busiest railway stations.

Had the Hamas missile hit any one of these targets, which are all very close to each other, the civilian casualties could have been devastating. On that day…, the Iron Dome defense system failed to stop the missile. Devastation appeared imminent.

“We fired the first [interceptor]. It missed. Second [interceptor]. It missed. This is very rare. I was in shock. At this point we had just four seconds until the missile lands. We had already notified emergency services to converge on the target location and had warned of a mass-casualty incident.”

That is the point at which everything changed, and reportedly G’d intervened. Certain destruction was averted. The Iron Dome battery commander continues:

“Suddenly, Iron Dome (which calculates wind speeds, among other things) shows a major wind coming from the east, a strong wind that … sends the missile into the sea. We were all stunned. I stood up and shouted, ‘There is a G’d!’

“I witnessed this miracle with my own eyes. It was not told or reported to me. I saw the hand of G’d send that missile into the sea.”

But, how far we have fallen, how much the B’nai Yisrael has rebelled such that its governmental leaders, and in turn, its military have seemed handcuffed and indecisive, in the Lebanon conflict, as well as in the Gaza battles of 2008, 2012, and this summer’s 50 day operation, the sending soldiers against armed terrorists in Flotillas with paint guns, seemingly equivocal and incapable of decisively defeating a lesser foe?

Even in our equivocation, indecisiveness and lack of emunah in Hashem, He still protects us with His Ananei HaKavod (His Clouds of Glory) as the above stories from the Gaza War tell us in black and white?. Why can’t the Israeli governing powers-to-be take heart, act Jewish, rather than attributing fighting a war totally to the “prowess of man”?

But now Am Yisrael, the Jewish people/nation, in Eretz Yisrael, and throughout the world are left in an even more vulnerable position than before with our adversaries taking heart from our equivocations and indecisiveness. Hamas still apparently has 30% to 40% of their rocket arsonel, will inevitably retool, perhaps with even longer-range and more precisely targeted rockets and who knows if or how many tunnels that the chayalim did not find and destroy. And sporadic rocket fire has been felt on the northern border with Syria, near Kuneitra — is that the next war front — with Hezbollah, with their tens of thousands of rockets, or Syria, or ISIL or all of the above? And ISIL has not limited its aims to the Middle East. Couple that with worsening conditions for Jews in Europe, as well as in the United States where “the knockout game” preys upon Jewish victims and we see that Israel’s
equivocations and indecisiveness promotes a media take and creates an atmosphere and mindset portraying Jews once again as weak, and “fair prey” to attack, threat and intimidation.

Can it be said that Israel may be seen as having lost those conflicts due to fear of eradicating the enemy, more concerned with collateral damage to enemy civilians than to decisively winning a war the way a war is supposed to be fought by eradicating enemy armies and assets — the Divine Mandate of a War for Torah? Israel’s leaders, with their utter lack of Torah grounding and near-complete lack of emunah in Hashem, that HE will fight for us and would subdue our foes, and with their distorted, perverted and total lack of understanding of what a Jew is and the true meaning of
thousands of years of Jewish history, have subverted our national sovereignty in OUR Land of Israel to the will of the “leader” of the so-called “super-power” avodah zora and to the morally corrupt and bankrupt “United Nations.”

What about the government of Israel’s seeming total preoccupation with abandoning and handing over Jewish Lands, including Jerusalem, to avowed Arab enemies implacably bent upon our destruction? Do we see all of this playing out as a result of the complacency and preoccupation of the masses, each individual, each sector with their own individual and group issues and matzavim while Israel’s governance plots, based on the air-direction of public opinion and on principles of divide and conquer, the eradication of all vestiges Torah and Yiddishkiet from its population?

We are, after nearly 2,000 years, a national sovereignty, in OUR OWN Land, Eretz Yisrael. We are no longer in cities, towns, nations dominated by other religions who would demand that we renounce the Almighty, as was the case of the Jews of Mainz where the Bishop demanded that R’ Amnon convert with the implied perilous threat to the Jews of Mainz should he refuse. As Jews in OUR LAND, we have the responsibility to to behave as Jews — both in words and actions — between our brethren and, in wars for our survival, toward adversaries who seek nothing less than our total annihilation.

Can it be said that Hashem on a collective level has denied us His favor? Has the national governance not been an evolvement of foresaking Hashem, our roots, our heritage for other counsels and avodah zora? What of the appointment of the heaven and earth as witnesses and guarantors of Hashem’s Covenant with Israel? We must all collectively ponder and internalize our responsibilites in living up to our obligations to this Covenant with Hashem on this Shabbos Shuva.

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

Good Shabbos Teshuvah! L’Shana Tova — may all who read this be inscribed and sealed for a healthy, happy and prosperous 5775 and every year thereafter to at least 120!!
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Moshe Burt is an Oleh, writer and commentator on news and events in Eretz Yisrael. He is the founder and director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network and lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Rosh Hashanah 5775: Connecting Unsaneh Tokef and Aleinu?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, September 20th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Rosh Hashana 5775 Vort is being sponsored by Avraham and Miriam Deutsch of Efrat who wish Kol Am Yisrael L’Shana Tova! To the Deutsch family, many thanks for your continued kindnesses. Avraham and Miriam, may you know only simcha, success, good health, nachas from your children, and only good things in the year to come and to at least 120 years.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Rosh Hashanah 5775: Connecting Unsaneh Tokef and Aleinu?

by Moshe Burt

This author has, in previous Rosh Hashanah vorts, focused on Rabbi Amnon of Mainz, his weakening in giving the Bishop or Governor (whatever the correct title was) the perception of his consideration of possible compliance with the demand to convert, his distraught feeling that he betrayed Hashem by having given the impression that he would consider conversion and that he would give an answer to the Bishop 3 days hence, and the tefillah he composed on Rosh Hashana with his last breaths: Unsaneh Tokef as linked here and here.

The Artscroll Rosh Hashanah Machzor (Nusach Ashkenaz page 480-481, Nusach Sefard page 476-477 as well as Yom Kippur Machzorim) relates how Rabbi Amnon of Mainz, upon his refusal to convert, was carried home from the Bishop’s palace as a mutilated cripple, along with his amputated hands and feet and composed Unsaneh Tokef on that Rosh Hashanah:

When Rosh Hashanah arrived…, R’ Amnon asked to be carried to the Ark [Aron HaKodesh]. Before the congregation recited Kedushah, he asked to be allowed to sanctify Hashem’s Name in the synagogue as he had in the bishop’s palace. He recited Unsaneh Tokef and then died. R’ Amnon’s wish was carried out, and the prayer became an integral part of the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services. (citing from Or Zarua)

And so we recite R’ Amnon’s praise of Hashem each Mussaf of both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, followed shortly therafter by Kedusha, our joining with the melachim (angels) as we proclaim our declaration of Hashem’s greatness. (Artscroll Rosh Hashanah Machzor Nusach Sefard, page 482, Yom Kippur Machzor)

But while Unsaneh Tokef serves as R’Amnon’s personal expression of Kedusha: the Glory of Hashem, our Creator and Creator of All Who Fills the world with His Glory, it seems also to express Hashem’s attribute of Mercy in Kingship, all just as does Aleinu. The first posukim of Unsaneh Tokef rendered to English in Artscroll Machzorim say:

Let us now relate the power of this day’s holiness, for it is awesome and frightening. On it Your Kingship will be exalted; Your Throne will be firmed with kindness and You will sit upon it in truth.

The Artscroll Machzorim comments on the third posuk:

Hashem’s greatness is confirmed when he goes beyond the bounds of judgement by showing mercy. By definition, judgement is inflexible because it depends on deeds and laws. By overriding judgement, Hashem shows that there are no limits to His power.

This author therefore reasons that Unsaneh Tokef provides a link between our tefillah expressing our recognition of Hashem as our Creator, and our tefillah heralding Hashem’s Universal Kingship — as expressed by Aleinu:

Aleinu: It is our duty to praise the Master of Everything. To ascribe greatness to the One Who formed Creation. For He did not make us like the nations of the lands…. We bow, prostrate and acknowledge our thanks to the King of Kings, the Holy One, Blessed Be He…. (Excerpts from translation of Aleinu rendered by Rabbi Asher Baruch Wegbreit in his sefer, “The Power of Aleinu.”)

Rabbi Wegbreit writes in his sefer, “The Power of Aleinu.” (pages 35-36, 60):

… The World generally doesn’t apply the term “great” where it truly belongs — with Hashem.

Their reasoning begins with a flawed… assumption that the Creator of the Unverse Who is lofty enough to create the universe would never “lower Himself” to become involved with the lower world that He made…. They don’t feel that the Creator relates to his creations.

We know that the Creator does relate to his creations (Rav Chaim Freidlander, Sifsei Chaim,”Aleinu.”) This recognition makes the Jewish people unique and obligates us “to ascribe greatness to the One Who formed Creation.” (Malbim on Tehillim 34:4)

There are two reasons why Jews are inspired to humble themselves… The first is an overwhelming sense gratitude… Hashem is referred to as the One who “made us” into a people at Mount Sinai –in order to heap blessing upon us for all eternity and make us unique.

The second reason why we are inspired to humble ourselves is the dread and awe that we feel at having the great privilege of being in the presence and service of Creator of the universe.

If one meets an eminent person… who wields vast power and authority, he feels dwarfed and intimidated. Even more so,when one meets a powerful king, one is legally required to show respect. It follows, then, that we can barely comprehend the dread and reverence warranted b a single encounter with the “King of kings, the Holy One, Blessed Be He.”

So we can see the expression of the dual themes of Hashem: as Creator of the Universe who relates to his creations, and Hashem: as Merciful King and sovereign over us and to Whom we are privileged and inspired to serve, in both Unsaneh Tokef and Aleinu tefillot.

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

L’Shana Tova! May You, All of My Brothers, Sisters, be Inscribed and Sealed, for a Year of Life, Health, Simcha, Success and only good things… Now and Always!

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