Parshat Matos 5776: The Lesson of Sh’vatim Gad and Reuven for Our Generation and Governance

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, July 23rd, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off







Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Matos is sponsored by Yosef Moshe and Chana Rosenberg of Ramat Beit Shemesh, dedicated for the health and wellbeing of their children and family. To the Rosenberg family, many thanks for your sponsorships and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat Matos 5776: The Lesson of Sh’vatim Gad and Reuven for Our Generation and Governance

by Moshe Burt

Parshiyot Balak and Pinchas seem to represent a watershed event in the history of B’nai Yisrael. As noted in Parshat Pinchas, it appears that 1/3 of B’nai Yisrael died either by the hand of the Judges, or by way of the plague which struck some 24,000 Jewish men who partook in the Midianite/Moabite bazaar. The forays of Jewish men at the bazaar in Shittim and cohabitation of Zimri and Kozbi represented watershed and rock-bottom events and things couldn’t have gotten much worse. There was only one way for B’nai Yisrael to go from there — Up!

We find that after the rock-bottom event of the Ba’al Pe’or, the B’nai Yisrael FINALLY smelled what Hashem was brewing and unequivocably recognized Moshe Rabbeinu as their leader, as HaKadosh Borchu’s Annointed. The question is; Why, only now, did the Jews finally accept Moshe as Hashem’s Annointed Leader and ceased squabbling and rebelling? Was there something connecting the timing of this recognition with acquiescence by Am Yisrael to the knowledge that Moshe would not be leading the B’nai Yisrael into Eretz Yisrael? Was it that this latter recognition sunk into the collective consciousness of B’nai Yisrael and they came to the realization that, as the oft-recorded 80s disco tune went, “You don’t know what you got ’til you lose it”?

Near the beginning of our Parsha Matos, Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 31, posuk 5 states:

“So there were delivered from the thousands of the Children of Israel, a thousand from each tribe, twelve thousand armed for the legion.”

Rabbi Artscroll (The Artscroll Stone Chumash, page 905) cites Rashi who states, on the words “were delivered”:

This term implies that the Jewish warriors had to be coerced into going to war [against Midian during which they killed the 5 kings of Midian and the evil Bila'am]. This is to their credit, because they knew that Moshe would die when the war was won, and they did not wish to go, so that their triumph would not be at the cost of their leader’s life. For much of the forty years in the Wilderness, they complained to and about him, but now they showed their love for him and had to be delivered against their will.

And so B’nai Yisrael finally, unequivocally recognized Moshe Rabbeinu as their leader by their words and actions regarding the war itself, by Sh’vatim Gad and Reuven leading the nation in the war and by the inquiry of the daughters of Tzlafchad, descendants of Yosef (Joseph).

In our Parsha, Sh’vatim Gad and Reuven approached Moshe Rabbeinu regarding their desire to graze their flocks and settle their families on the East side of the Yarden. To this, Moshe Rabbeinu replied, “Shall your brothers go off to war, and shall you sit here?” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 32, posuk 6)

Moshe was quite angry at the two Sh’vatim. He was concerned lest Gad and Reuven would avoid taking part in the wars for Eretz Yisrael, that other Sh’vatim might follow suit and B’nai Yisrael might be condemned to wandering in the desert another 40 years.

There are those commentators who hold that the hearts of Gad and Reuven were in the right place and that they had every intention, of their own volition, of taking part in the wars and, in fact, preceding the rest of B’nai Israel into battle.

There were other commentators who viewed the desire of Gad and Reuven to settle on the East side of the Yarden as representing greed, a secular approach to Eretz Yisrael and a tendency toward separatism vs. communal responsibility.

Regarding Moshe Rabbeinu’s response to the pledge of Sh’vatim Gad and Reuven to fight in the upcoming war; “then you shall be vindicated from Hashem and from Israel,” Rabbi Artscroll cites Yoma (38a) on Perek 32, posuk 22;

It is not enough for one to know that one’s actions are proper in Hashem’s eyes. One must also act in such a way as to not engender suspicion on the part of human beings.

But, the most poignant explanation of the situation comes from the Tiferet Yehonatan who is quoted in the sefer “Torah Gems” where he states, on “Shall your brothers go off to war, and shall you sit here?”:

“‘…When your enemies attack Israel — you shall sit here’ — you will remain in peace in whatever country you are living in? Do not think so for an instant, because a war in defense of Israel is a war for the survival of the entire Jewish people wherever they are.’” (Torah Gems, Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, Parsha Matos, page 156.)

This explanation is as poignant now; in the context of recent contemporary history, i.e. the geirush from Gush Katif and the Shomron and more recently, the meek, timid, equivocal reactions of Israel’s current so-called “most right-wing government ever” to the past nearly two years of the latest incarnation of the Arab/Islamic bombing, stone-throwing, hit-and-run driving/shooting, home-invading lethal, Jewish bloodletting, murderous terror war against our very existence.

What’s meant by the meek, timid, equivocal reactions of Israel’s current government? A soldier on trial because he fired at a downed terrorist murder to make sure the terrorist was in-fact dead in order to save his fellow soldiers. And after a 13 year old girl was shot as she slept in her bed in Kiryat Arba, the government promised a “new building tender” of 42 dwellings for Kiryat Arba only to have Kiryat Arba residents discover that this “new building tender” is a retread of an existing tender. And after a family was nearly obliterated — their vehicle overturned, the father, a Rabbi, murdered, his wife critically injured and 2 children injured by terrorists while traveling in their vehicle in the Har Hevron area on an Erev Shabbos, just a day after the attack on the young girl, the government announced that it will withhold from monthly tax transfers to the “PA” an amount equal to Mahmud Abbas’s monthly remuneration to the families of dead terrorists. Within a day or two after that announcement, we discover that the current month’s tax transfer was remitted in total, despite the government’s previous pronouncement.

So, again, the Tiferet Yehonatan provides this lesson from the confrontation between Moshe Rabbeinu and Sh’vatim Gad and Reuven — a lesson to be learned in our contemporary generations and by contemporary Israeli governance.

“‘…When your enemies attack Israel — you shall sit here’ — you will remain in peace in whatever country you are living in? Do not think so for an instant, because a war in defense of Israel is a war for the survival of the entire Jewish people wherever they are.’” (Torah Gems, Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, Parsha Matos, page 156.)

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 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 the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Pinchas 5776: A Different Take on Pinchas and His Kehunah

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, July 16th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua is being co- sponsored by Reuven and Leah Goldman and Yedidiya and Miriam Kramer of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated to gabai’im of Beis Tefillah Yona Avraham. To the Goldman and Kramer families, many thanks for your sponsorship, support 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 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 Pinchas 5776: A Different Take on Pinchas and His Kehunah

by Moshe Burt

R’ Shimshon Raphael Hirsch Z”l (the new Hirsch Chumash published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Daniel Haberman) discusses the magnitude of the sin compelling Pinchas’ zealous action. R’ Hirsch provides translation of a few of the last posukim of Parsha Balak (Perek 25, posuk 6, page 524 and posukim 14 and 15, page 530) and commentaries:

“…A man from among B’nai Yisrael… brought the Midianite woman…” (posuk 6)

“The name of the slain man of Israel, who was slain with the Midianite woman was Zimri son of Salu, a prince of… the tribe of Shimon.” (posuk 14)

“The name of the slain Midianite woman [was] Kozbi, daughter of Tzur; he was the head of the peoples… in Midian.” (posuk 15)

A man of B’nai Yisrael had, with the Midianit flouted Hashem, His Torah and Israel. Therefore he became liable to punishment at the hands of a zealot… moved by zeal for Hashem, …Torah, and for Israel…

Rav Hirsch then writes on the merit of Pinchas’ act for which Hashem conveyed upon him the Kehunah (Perek 25, posuk 13, page 529):

…Just as the tribe of Levi attained the rank… by it’s actions at the sin of the golden calf and then was expressly chosen for this office, the same happened here: In his act of rescue, Pinchas acted as a Kohen…; he carried out in actual practice the atoning devotion which the avodah of the Kohen performs symbolically in the Sanctuary [Mishkan, Beit Hamikdash]. That is why he was elevated the rank of Kohen [everlasting Priesthood] after his act.

Rabbi Moshe Weissman, author of “The Midrash Says” writes in the final paragraph of rendering on Parshat Balak (“The Midrash Says” on Sefer Bamidbar, page 355):

With his courageous act, Pinchas restored Hashem’s honor. He ignored the importance of Zimri, who was a nassi, and of Kozbi, a Midyanite princess, thus demonstrating that Hashem’s honor matters above all. His achievement exemplifies the powerful results that can be achieved even by one individual who acts leshaim shemayim.

However, Shem Mishmuel (Shem Mishmuel, writings on the Parshiyot by Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, z”l, the Rav of Sochaczev rendered to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovsky, pages 356-358) cites the Zohar in providing a different take on Pinchas and his Kehunah:

Any Kohen who kills someone is forever invalidated from the Kehunah [priesthood], for his act certainly abrogates his spiritual level. As for Pinchas [after he killed Zimri and Kozbi], according to law he was excluded from the Kehunah forevermore. And because he was zealous for Hashem, He needed to give him [Pinchas] a brand-new Kehunah, for him and his descendants after him, for all generations. (Zohar HaKadosh 3:214a)

This text cannot mean that Pinchas received the Kehunah for killing Zimri. If so, it would not have been a reward. Rather, he [Pinchas] would have retained it, despite the fact that he should have lost it.

We have seen that he [Pinchas] was described as “zealous for Hashem” when he killed Zimri and Kozbi. He was not actually obliged to perform this execution, but was entitled to do so under a complex and misunderstood law (Sanhedrin 81b). Pinchas was a man of such spiritual sensitivity that he could not bear to witness Zimri’s flagrant sin and so acted to restore Hashem’s honor.

Thus, in whatever way we understand, Hashem conveyed the Kehunah, and eternal life upon Pinchas in vindication regarding the vicious, false accusations against him and in recognition of the justness and Kiddush Hashem of his action. We can only hope that Hashem rewards those few and brave voices who speak out about Our Divine Right to Har Habayit and to all of Our Land — Eretz Yisrael. May those voices become our governmental leaders!

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 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 the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Balak 5776: Toleration of “Novel, Misleading Ideologies” in Bamidbar and Today?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, July 9th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua is being sponsored by Mutti & Michelle Frankel and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh in honor of the birthday of their son Eliyahu ben Baruch Mordechai, their Chayal. The Frankels are very proud of Eliyahu and wish him a Happy Birthday. To the Frankel family, many thanks for your sponsorship, support 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 Balak 5776: Toleration of “Novel, Misleading Ideologies” in Bamidbar and Today?

by Moshe Burt

Our Parshat informs us that as Bila’am traveled on his donkey to meet Balak, three times a moloch (angel) blocked the donkey’s way, and three times Bila’am struck the donkey trying to force it to continue. After Bila’am’s third attack, the donkey miraculously spoke.

In previous divrei Torah, this author cited a vort by Shem Mishmuel (translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski) pages 347-351 which discussed the significance of the sudden speech of the donkey in Torah: “‘What have I done to you, that you hit me these three times.” (Bamidbar Perek 22, posuk 28)

Shem Mishmuel (translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski), pages 347-351 comments:

“Hashem opened the mouth of the donkey, and it said to Bila’am, ‘What have I done to you, that you hit me these three times.’”

Perhaps Bila’am’s actions toward his donkey while enroute to meet Balak, and the resultant historical she-donkey’s monologue and rebuke of him might have been the inspiration behind a famous long-running American comedy series. It was back in the
days when American TV was still clean, slapstick and somewhat pure. You know the one:

Hello, I’m Mr. Ed!

A horse is a horse, of course, of course,
and nobody talks to a horse of course,
that is of course unless the horse is the famous Mr. Ed.

There are many lessons that we draw from this sudden chain of events; Bila’am’s arrogance, his bias against Am Yisrael which drove him, even when his donkey’s path was blocked, and his deliberate attempts to circumvent and override the Will of Hashem in attempting to curse Am Yisrael. In the incident with his donkey, Bila’am was unable to see or perceive the obstacle, the moloch, which stood in the way of the donkey’s path.

There is a profound lesson here for us today as the media, intelligencia, academia and political elites attempt to subvert the masses, create biases among the various sectors of Am Yisrael and orchestrate actions by successive Israeli governments such as to jeopardize the nation’s security and sovereignty.

Shem Mishmuel adds this from Chazal (page 351):

Bila’am wished to curse Klal Yisrael and destroy their ability to observe the shalosh regalim [the three festivals], which so contradicted his very nature. Hashem subverted his evil designs, and he was forced to bless them time and again, strengthening their ability to observe the very mitzvah he hated most.

And just as Bila’am and his she-donkey might have inspired the TV creation of “Mr. Ed”, so too we can look at Bila’am’s hatching the plot of the Ba’al Peor and sense its possible parallels and analogy within contemporary perceptions, actions and rationale amongst the institutions, intelligencia and governance of Medinat Yisrael, as well as, yes — certain streams of liberalized “religious thought” and misguided political entities promoting national cultural “unity” by way of looking the other way regarding compromise of elementary, fundamental Halacha — Judaism 101, if you will.

We learn in our Parsha, that after all of Bila’am’s foibles with his donkey, and having utterly failed in his machinations to bring Hashem to curse B’nai Yisrael, Bila’am left Balak with a scheme to seduce Jewish men to avodah zora by way of immorality (co-habitation), thus evoking Hashem’s wrath. The resultant plague killed 24,000 Jewish men and was only ended by Pinchas’ zealous act in slaying Zimri and Kosbi in one stroke of his spear.

The Midrash Says (by Rabbi Moshe Weissman, Parsha Balak, pages 350-351) indicates that Bila’am’s Ba’al Peor scheme began by attracting eruv rav — the Mitzri “groupies” who accompanied the Jews out of Mitzrayim. But, then the attraction lured members of Shevet Shimon. The account states that Hashem revealed those who sinned by removing The Clouds of Glory from above the guilty ones.

The Midrash Says (page 351) describes how:

….It was for these people Pinchas later prayed and whose deaths he averted.

The members of the Tribe of Shimon were very distressed because many of their kinsmen had been sentenced to death. They came before their nassi, Zimri, and reproached him, “How can you keep silent in the face of so many deaths?”

Zimri reacted by brazenly challenging Moshe in public.

Zimri, the prince of Shavet Shimon and the most prominent individual to take part in this act of physical lust, displayed a distorted and false perception and rationale in bringing Kosbi into the Camp and co-habitating with her before The Assembly.

R’Rafael Katzenellenbogen is cited in Studies in the Weekly Parsha, by Yehuda Nachshoni referring to R’ Sonnenfeld who noted that Zimri’s distorted sense of “acting for the sake of Shemayim” evolved from;

“…a novel, misleading ideology, that evil must be tolerated by incorporating it into the Camp of Israel, to dissuade the lustful man from finding himself in the camp of idolaters.” (Studies in the Weekly Parsha, by Yehuda Nachshoni, Parsha Balak, page 1115.)

Zimri’s alleged “L’Shem Shemayim” model; bringing co-habitation with Moabite women into the camp of B’nai Yisrael lest men go looking for it outside, i.e., at the Midianite/ Moabite Bazaar where the co-habitation was an enticement and seduction to the avodah zora Ba’al Pe’or, seemed a cover for his (Zimri’s) true motivations and intentions.

Zimri’s “In your face, Moshe” demeanor appeared as motivated by lust for power, just as Korach’s true motivations were covered by rationale of accusation of nepotism against Moshe Rabbeinu and Aaron.

Recently, a new political entity handed out a “Q and A” flyer during a presentation of its positions on various issues. One of the Q and A’s read as follows:

What is your position about public transportation on Shabbos?

“Bechira” is a value shared by all Jews, from the most religious to the least. It is not the state’s place, nor is it G’d’s desire, that the state force religion. We will provide an atmosphere to encourage people to keep Shabbos, but each community will make
its own decisions, and private companies can fulfill those needs.”

As outlined in a previous vort, the phrase “private companies”, in the context of transporting a public, or a segment of a public, is an oxymoron — a contradiction in terms.

How closely does one political entity’s benign attitude regarding issues relating to Shabbos observance on a public level in the name of national cultural “unity”, or certain liberalized positions regarding family purity issues by certain contemporary so-called “poskim” mirror the Bamidbar model of toleration for the evil of “novel, misleading ideologies” by incorporating it into the Camp of Israel? What about “civil marriage” and L-G rights and same-gender marriages? And what about attempts to brand Israel as a “gay and swingers paradise” for economic gain? Or acceptance and embrace of evangelical financial and political support?

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 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 the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!! Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Chukas 5776: The Importance of Chukim, and Their Role in Jewish History

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, July 2nd, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Parshat Chukas is being co-sponsored by Rabbi Harry and Judith Greenspan of Ramat Beit Shemesh, in memory of their parents, Falik ben Hertske, Miriam Ella bat Yisrael Eliezer HaCohen and Nachum ben Yosef and Janet bat Henry, all of blessed memory, and by Aron and Vered Cohen, also of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated lilui nishmas Shmuel Avraham ben David, Guy Shalem ben Yehudah, Yitzchak ben Iza and Shlomo ben Chaim. To the Greenspan and Cohen 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 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 Chukas 5776: The Importance of Chukim, and Their Role in Jewish History

by Moshe Burt

Our Parshat opens:

“Hashem spoke to Moshe and Aharon saying: This is the decree of Torah, which Hashem has commanded…” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 19, posukim 1-2 as rendered in the Artscroll Stone Chumash, page 839)

R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, in the new Hirsch Chumash (pages 398-399) provides an even more powerful rendering of our opening posukim and comments:

“Hashem spoke to Moshe and Aharon, saying: This is a basic statute of the Teaching that Hashem has commanded.”

This mode of address to Moshe and Aharon indicates the importance of the subject matter that follows…

…Chukas HaTorah [This basic statute of Torah] — This expression occurs in only one other place in Scripture: in Sefer Bamidbar Perek 31, posuk 21 [Elazar, the Kohen, addressing the men of the army which had gone to war] (New Hirsch Chumash, page 636)

Rabbi Moshe Weissman, in his sefer, “The Midrash Says,” writes regarding Parsha Chukas (Sefer Bamidbar, pages 245-247):

There are numerous examples of chukim…. Since they contain apparently contradictory elements, they are liable to be ridiculed by a rational thinker. The Torah advises the Jew to tell himself, It’s a chok; I have no right to question it.”

Nevertheless, chukim are not “laws without reasons”; rather their logic is Divine. The greatest among our people were able to understand some of them.

Thus the rationale behind the laws of the parah adumah were Divinely revealed to Moshe.

On the other hand, King Shlomo, who researched the reasons behind the mitzvot and found explanations for all of the others, professed that this mitzvah was incomprehensible.

Shlomo…. confessed, “I thought I would get wisdom, but it (the mitzvah of parah adumah) is far from me. (Koheles 7:23)

To appreciate his words fully…:

“And Hashem gave Shlomo very much wisdom and understanding and breadth of knowledge like the sand that is on the sea shore.” (1 Melachim 5:9)

Rabbanim and commentators, throughout the generations, have indicated that at their deepest levels, all of Halacha could be viewed as Chukim which we humans don’t fully understand at their most Divine levels.

This author once received by email a D’var Torah for Parshat Shelach written by a Rabbi Yisrael Kaniel which can be seen as thoughts applying to our Parshat Chukas as well. Rabbi Kaniel is Associate Director for Religious Affairs and Manager of Operations at B’Ahavat Yisrael in Israel.

R’ Kaniel writes these powerful words:

It is said about the latter day Torah luminary R. Yaakov Kamenetsky that he was very exacting in adhering to the customs of his father and teachers. A story is told that his son once inquired why he did not eat cheese on Friday, to which he responded, “Because my father did not.” When his son pressed on as to why his grandfather did not eat cheese, R. Kamenetsky replied, “Probably because his father did not.” Just the fact that his father had a given custom was enough for R. Kamenetsky to continue that custom – whether he understood the reason or not. He relied on his father’s understanding and intelligence and accepted that as good enough reason to follow in his footsteps, even though it could be argued that he outshined his father in his level of erudition (see Yonason Rosenblum, Reb Yaakov, pp. 358 – 359).

R. Kamenetsky understood that his father was intelligent enough that if he did something, then there must have been a good reason and, even if he did not know it, it was good enough for him to accept. All the more so, should our ancestors in the desert have come to such a conclusion when it came to something related to them by G-d Himself. Tragically, however, that was not the case. Our ancestors were tripped up by their emotions and egos in the desert and suffered the consequences.

After seeing that the people He guided and led as if on the “wings of eagles” did not exercise enough discretion to trust in Him, G-d responded, “Have it your way.” Choosing then to follow their own thoughts and feelings rather than simply accepting the eminently thoughtful guidance of their Father in heaven brought eventually to their “undoing,” so to speak.

As it is expected of us to respect and honor our Father in Heaven, we also are instructed in the Torah, in the Ten Commandments (Shemot 20:12), “Honor your father and your mother, so that your days will be lengthened upon the land that the L-rd your G-d gives you.” Rashi on this verse stresses, “If you will honor [them] your days will be lengthened, but if not they will be shortened.” Respecting and honoring one’s parents is not a matter to be taken lightly. In fact, one’s life can depend on it.

When G-d saw that the Children of Israel ignored His eminent advice, He told them, “Have it your way,” watching as they chose the wrong path, something that could have been avoided had they properly recognized the value of the Al-Mighty’s Word. The Children of Israel, unfortunately, suffered the consequences and their relationship with their Father in Heaven was damaged. When parents see that their children ignore their opinion, they too have no alternative but to say, “Have it your way,” and, unfortunately, what could have been a warm, helpful and productive long-lasting relationship can wither and suffer irreparable damage.

Ignoring G-d is obviously infinitely more severe, but, in each case, pitfalls can be avoided if one has the proper approach. Let us not pamper our egos or emotions at the expense of our intellects and common sense. Let us learn our lesson from the Torah and those who uphold it such as R. Kamenetsky and other Torah greats like him over the generations who showed great respect for their parents’ beings, actions and thoughts, even when they eventually outshined them. Let us not seek to have it “our way.” Let us only seek the “right way.” Let us seek proper counsel and let us truly respect that counsel. Let all of us learn to show the requisite sensitivity and respect, as well as gratitude and appreciation, to our parents and all the more so to G-d, and may we all merit, thereby, that “your days will be lengthened” , enjoying fulfilling and thriving lives – without pitfalls that could be avoided.

So, just as R’ Yaakov Kamenetsky carried on the mesorah (traditions) of his Father and passed them on to succeeding generations based on the understanding and intelligence of his Father, and just as other Torah luminaries have carried on the traditions of their Fathers, this story of R’ Yaakov Kamenetsky accepting his Father’s tradition even as he inquired of his Father about not eating cheese on Friday, serves as a parable teaching us about acceptance of all Torah laws as Chukim — laws whose ultimate reasons are known only to Hashem.

Halachot regarding the Parah Adumah (the Red Heffer) and it’s purification qualities, Bassar V’Chalav (separation between meat and milk), tumah and taharah (impure or contaminated and pure), and Shatnes (not to wear fabrics with a mix of wool and linen) are but a few of the Halachot for which we don’t possess a deeper understanding and rationale. We are told that at a human level of understanding, the Chukim represent a distinction between spiritual and the mundane, Holiness vs profane. We learn that Chukim are to be accepted as expressions of faith, even though we may not understand, or possess a full understanding of them.

The Artscroll, “Stone Chumash”, in its commentary at the beginning of our Parsha (Perek 19, page 838) explains:

It is axiomatic… that since all of the laws of Torah are the products of Hashem’s intelligence, any human inability to comprehend them indicates the limitation of the student, not the Teacher. As the Sages expressed it, there is nothing meaningless or purposeless in the Torah, and if it seems so, it is only a product of our own deficiency. (Rambam)

The placement in Torah of the Parah Adumah, and its qualities of purification from tumah, in our Parsha Chukas raises questions as to why it and it’s Halachot are mentioned here in our Parsha; only after the Affair of the Spies, Korach’s rebellion and after the continued murmuring of the Am against Moshe Rabbeinu, after the plague which killed thousands only ending with Aaron’s carrying an incense pan amongst the people (upon Moshe’s instruction), and after the story of the rods.

“Rabbi Artscroll” presents one answer to the “why” of Torah’s placement of the Parah Adumah with a brief commentary in The Stone Chumash ( Artscroll, “Stone Chumash”, Parsha Chukat, Perek 19, posuk 3, page 839) on the words at the beginning of our Parsha:

“…Speak to the B’nai Yisrael, and they shall take to you a completely red cow, which is without blemish, and upon which a yoke has not come.’”

The answer speaks of the symbolism of the Parah Adumah (the Red Heiffer) coming to atone for the sin of the Eigel Zahav (the Golden Calf) “… as if to say let the Mother come and clean up the mess left by her child…”

The Artscroll, “Stone Chumash”, in its commentary at the beginning of our Parsha (Perek 19, page 838) notes:

…The Torah states that it [the Parah Adumah] is a decree of the One Who gave the Torah, and it is not for anyone to question it. (Rashi)

Back in Philadelphia, in the “Old Country”, Rav Moshe Ungar would render a similar explanation to the Stone Chumash: that the phenomenon of the Parah Adumah as a Tikkun given B’nai Yisrael after the Eigel Zahav was to be an eternal rectification of the tumah, the defilement of the Eigel Zahav. In other words, the Tikkun only later revealed in Parsha Chukat, tells us that, like a doctor treating an ill patient, that the remedy for illness generally precedes the illness itself; that the means of rectification of a Chet precedes the Chet itself.

We have seen the adage play out throughout our history of the remedy for illness preceding the illness itself; that the means, or potential, for rectification or salvation of B’nai Yisrael precedes the Chet or danger itself, as with Esther HaMalka in place, and Mordechai’s foiling of the poison plot against the king written in the annals prior to Haman’s evil plot against the Jews.

The existant remedies brought about Haman’s downfall and hanging and the salvation of B’nai Yisrael.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them 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 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 the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Korach 5776: Practical Lessons from Korach’s Rebellion for Today’s Contending Leadership Entities

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, News Reports on Saturday, June 25th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Korach is being co-sponsored anonymously L’ilui Nishmas for the Yahrtzeit of Aharon ben Yosef z”l as well as by R’ Barak and Sarah Schecter L’ilui Nishmas for Aviv ben Yair z”l. To our anonymous co-sponsor and to the Schecter family, many thanks for your co-sponsorships and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat Korach 5776: Practical Lessons from Korach’s Rebellion for Today’s Contending Leadership Entities

by Moshe Burt

Over the past several years, this author has cited a Torah Vort by Rabbi Scott Ressler of the Jeff Seidel Student Center who asked the following:

Why would 250 people follow him [Korach] to their certain death, with apparently little to gain?

Parshat Korach relates the story of Korach, Dasan, Aviram and 250 members of the shevet (tribe) of Reuven challenging Moshe’s choice for Kohen Gadol (high priest). The end result was that the 250 members were burned by a heavenly fire, and the other 3 were miraculously swallowed by the earth. From a motive perspective, Korach makes the most sense, because he felt slighted for not having been chosen himself. But why would 250 people follow him to their certain death, with apparently little to gain?

…Answer can be found in Rashi, the great medieval commentator, who writes that just as Korach’s family camped on the southern side of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), so did the tribe of Reuven. Rashi quotes the words of Chapters of the Fathers [Pirkei Avot], “woe to an evil person, and woe to his neighbor.” The 250 people met their death, simply because they were influenced by their neighbors! This points to the awesome influence that friends, neighbors and associates have on us.

The south side of the encampment seems to have been kind of a rough neighborhood full of apparent potential conspirators.

One could say the event of the Miraglim brought about an unholy alliance, the opening of the proverbial “Pandora’s Box.”

Korach ben Yitzhar ben Kehat ben Levi (son of Levi) saw that descended from him would be Shmuel HaNavi and, therefore, felt slighted either because Aaron, rather than he, was appointed Kohen Godol; or because he felt passed over by the choice of his cousin Elizaphan ben Ammihud as the Nasi of Kehat, making him (Korach) subordinate.

Sefer Shem Mishmuel says of Korach that he seemed to resent that Moshe was the leader of B’nai Yisrael, that Aaron was the Kohen Gadol and that he was not the one appointed head of the Children of Kehath, his branch of the priestly family. Korach’s motivations were complex, the layers of discontent behind his abortive challenge to the leadership numerous as is discussed by the great commentators. (Shem Mishmuel on Parsha Korach, page 335)

“The Midrash Says,” by Rabbi Moshe Weissman (on Sefer Bamidbar, pages 202-203) notes that although the other members of the Tribe of Levi lived in poverty, Korach was fabulously wealthy because he been a treasurer in Mitzrayim under Pharaoh. Moshe’s command that all the Jews were to take belongings from the Egyptians pertained only to those Tribes who were subjected to slave labor. The Tribe of Levi remained in Goshen, were not enslaved, and learned Torah throughout the enslavement.

“The Midrash Says” also relates that Hashem, Who leads each person in the life’s path of the person’s choosing, satisfied Korach’s lust for wealth by leading him to discover part of riches that Yosef concealed in the royal treasury. This discovery made Korach among the wealthiest individuals in recorded human history. As a result of his massive riches, “The Midrash Says” records:

Korach was self-assured…. He thought himself favored by Hashem, and therefore entitled to contend against Moshe, for “A rich man speaks with impudence” (Mishlai 18:23).

Yehuda Nachshoni’s “Studies in the Weekly Parsha” cites Chasam Sofer (page 1033) who indicates that Korach’s contesting against Moshe stemmed from the Divine Conveyance of:

The monarchy and priesthood to the 2 grandsons of Kehas, Moshe and Aaron — sons of Kehas’ oldest son Amram. This was seen as a total negation of any claim by Kehas’ next 2 sons, Yitzhar and Chevron…

In short, the Chasam Sofer seems to indicate that Korach contested based on promoting a claim that the positions of power should have distributed evenly amongst Kehas’ 3 sons. He thus campaigned based on his assertion that Moshe employed nepotism and consolidation of power.

Shem Mishmuel relates a thought on Korach from Rashi;

“Korach was an intelligent man. If so, why did he involve himself with this nonsense? His eyes deceived him, for he saw a chain of noble descent emerging from him, ending in Shmuel HaNavi [the great prophet], who was considered equal to Moshe and Aaron. He said, ‘On his [Shmuel’s] account, I will be saved.’ There were also to be twenty-four stations of his descendants who would prophesy with the Divine spirit … He said, ‘Is it possible that all of this greatness will emerge from me and I should be silent?’ Therefore, he joined [with the other rebels] and came to the opinion that when he heard from Moshe that all of them would perish save one … he mistakenly assumed that it referred to him. He failed to look carefully, for his sons did teshuva…” (Rashi, Bamidbar, Perech 16, posuk 7 as related in Shem Mishmuel on Parsha Korach, page 335)

It seems that in Korach’s case, he had basis for reasoning that his decendants, the generations of nevi’im who came before Shmuel would emanate from him and thus “it must be because he himself was a worthy and holy person.” (Shem Mishmuel on Parsha Korach, page 335)

Korach’s perception of history brought him to envision himself as “born to lead” and therefore, he took issue with the leadership of Moshe and Aaron HaKohen. Thus, while Hashem and history look disapprovingly at Korach’s attempt at a leadership grab, one might be able to understand what was behind Korach’s actions and possible rationale behind his false claims.

Then you had those two perennial bad boys Dasan and Aviram (ben Eliav), both of Shevet Reuven who were trouble, with a capital “T”, dating back to their being the cause of Moshe’s earlier flight from Pharaoh and Mitzrayim through to being involved with sources of friction which occurred in the camp in Bamidbar.

And finally, you had the Shevet (Tribe of) Reuven who harbored ill-will both due to their loss of first-born priestly status to the Kohanim and Hashem’s “redemption” of the Kedusha of the first-borns through the Levi’im.

Yehuda Nachshoni’s “Studies in the Weekly Parsha” (pages 1032-1033) on our Parsha Korach cites Ramban’s view that the cause of the rebellions: Korach, Dasan and Aviram and the First Born’s was:

The spies’ severe punishment, which brought death to the generation of the desert and plague to its princes. It [the punishment]… brought to the surface all of the accumulated bitterness of the dissatisfied, who until now had not dared to come out against Moshe. Now they took advantage… to settle accounts.

There could be another understanding regarding Korach, with enduring lessons for today’s electorate and “leadership” contenders.

Rabbi A. Henach Leibowwitz, in his sefer, “Majesty of Man” on our Parshat Korach (pages 232-234) comments, citing Gemara Sanhedrin 52b and Rashi:

A Talmid Chacham — a wise man — appears in the eyes of an am ha’aretz — an ignoramus: the Talmid Chacham shines brilliantly, like a golden vessel. However, the Gemara continues, once the Talmid Chacham benefits in any way from the am ha’aretz, he [the Chacham] is viewed by him as a clay container which, once broken, is beyond repair.

Rashi comments that this description applies directly to Korach’s relationship to … Talmidei Chachamim… who eventually came to side with him in his rebellion…. He [Korach] found ways to convince people and bring them over to his distorted way of thinking, Yet, in viewing…Talmidei Chachamim, he felt he could not reach them. They were truly a shining object in his eyes, steadfast in their integrity, and tamim — pure — in all their actions.

However, this aura was shattered when Korach invited the wise men to a meal and they accepted. The Gemara teaches us that accepting this invitation was a fatal mistake, for it caused a drastic change in Korach’s relationship with them. Immediately, their lofty stature was diminished in his eyes. They no longer seemed invulnerable. Korach felt that he could now approach them and influence them. He tried and succeeded.

….In one slightly improper action of accepting Korach’s invitation , the wise men shattered their image as pure, invincibly righteous men in Korach’s eyes. He no longer looked up to them and kept his distance. He approached them, confident he would win them over, and he did. Because of this miniscule miscalculation in associating with an evil person like Korach, they were eventually doomed to the same fate as Korach.

…The Mesilas Yesharim writes that even if we know we are not as worthy as people think we are, we have an obligation to live up to the higher standards they expect of us. This applies in all of our interactions with both Jews, and non-Jews, whether at work, in the community, or at home with our families…. Damaging a good image could lead to tragic results, as in the case of the Chachamim.

It seems then, that human nature indicates that when an individuals’, or a groups’ heretofore high standards are compromised, the consequences are that others who previously held the individual or group in high esteem now have less regard, less respect for that individual or group.

One could, therefore, equate Korach’s view of the Chachamim, once he gained their support for his distorted views, with one of the more famous quotes of the late, great comedian Groucho Marx:

“… I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member”.

Can one extrapolate the message of Korach’s diminished view of Talmidei Chachamim and begin to imagine the impact upon an electorate, both observant and secular, of a message of an entity which espouses “separation of religion and state” regarding such a central, basic and seminal Torah law as observance of Shabbos re: public transportation on Shabbos: “each community will make its own decisions, and private companies can fulfill those needs”?

Can one recognize the diminished image among the electorate of such a political entity due to what this author views as a huge contradiction: as benign attitude toward Shabbos observance, while at the same time an activist, possessive attitude for Eretz Yisrael, for Har HaBayit (the Temple Mount), for the Ma’arat HaMachpela (Tomb of the Patriarachs and Matriarchs) and Hevron, Kever Rachel, and more?

Again, googley-eyed Groucho:

“… I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member”.

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 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 the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Shelach 5776: Today’s Ongoing War for the Jewish Soul and Against Laziness Amongst Am Yisrael and Parallels to the Miraglim

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, June 18th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Shelach is being sponsored by Dr. Eli and Miri Behar of Ramat Beit Shemesh L’ilui Nishmas for the Yahrtzeit of Yerachmiel Meir ben Nissim Avraham. To the Behar family, many thanks for your sponsorship and continued kindness.

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

Parshat Shelach 5776: Today’s Ongoing War for the Jewish Soul and Against Laziness Amongst Am Yisrael and Parallels to the Miraglim

by Moshe Burt

Our Parshat Shelach, and the affair of the miraglim — the spies, annually brings to mind the evolution of the Israeli media, academia, political, governmental scene which has brought us to the state of affairs we are facing and continue to face today, and conjures up ways in which today’s state of affairs could parallel the event of the miraglim in Bamidbar.

This state of affairs includes the Nation facing continuing threats of tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of rockets aimed at all parts of Israel by both Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, continued tolerance of seeming governmental indifference to Arab attacks upon Jews — near the Kotel, throughout Jerusalem and throughout Yehuda and the Shomron, whether by terror cells or, as we’ve seen of late, individual terrorist attacks using guns, knives, concealed explosives, or whatever deadly instruments the terrorists can get their hands on. We observe the governmental prohibition of Jews, even MKs, from praying at Har HaBayit (The Temple Mount), as well as alleged police framing of Jews regarding alleged violence and damage in so-called “Arab areas.” And we note the evolution of a leftist-politicized military establishment which prosecutes its soldiers for shooting-to-kill terrorists before the terrorist can kill them or their Jewish brethren.

Lest we forget the thousands of Hamas/PLO rockets which rained down upon southern Israel during the series of conflicts in Gaza since the expulsion of our Jewish brethren from Gush Katif. And we watch as an equivocal prime minister and government speak strong words against a “two-state solution”, only to eat those very words mere days or hours later. These all show clearly that the politicians, the elitist intelligencia, and many of the masses have stumbled and bumbled through numerous fiascos because they still have not learned and internalized the lessons which should have been gleaned from their previous fiascos, i.e., after then-prime minister Ehud Barak’s May, 2000 withdrawal of the military “like thieves in the night” from Southern Lebanon, or after Jew expelled Jew from Gush Katif, and historically, from the lessons of actions of the 10 corrupt spies. The fiascos of our govercnmental and military establishment have led to hundreds of thousands of Hamas and Hezbollah rockets aimed at targets throughout Israel, as well Hamas rebuilding its tunnels into Israel which were such a danger during the Gaza war of two years ago.

These fiascos provide great insight as to the consequences of the bourgeoning influence of today’s misguided spies, the leftist media, intelligencia, academia and the deeply entrenched leftist influence in Israel’s political institutions.

Thus, it seems that we continue experiencing a prolonged internal war for the soul of Am Yisrael reminiscent of events surrounding the Divinely-sanctioned directive by Moshe to send spies (miraglim) into Eretz Yisrael. Just as Am Yisrael cried needless, bitter tears in our Parshat Shelach, modern-day Israelis, many seemingly devoid of Emunah in The Almighty as they are bombarded with leftist endoctrinations and brainwashings, and lies and distortions framed as “facts”, throw their hands up in misguided fear, as if latter-day grasshoppers, bitterly proclaiming; “ein ma’alah sot, ein ma’alah sot.”

But why would Am Yisrael be such weak, vulnerable and susceptible prey?? Yehuda Nachshoni seems to trace possible roots behind this vulnerability (Studies in the Weekly Parsha — Behaaloscha, page 995-996):

Chazal say that the controversy over fish was rumblings of immorality; a protest against the laws of matrimony which had become accepted by the community of Israel. The people speak about “meat” and then turn and long for the “fish” that they ate in Egypt; the fish signify licentious desire. And the verse… “crying in families” (Bamidbar, Perek 11, posuk 10) — should be thought of as “crying about family matters.” They complained that the Torah forbade marital unions with relatives they previously had been free to marry (Yoma 75a; Shabbos 130a).

…Israel had been given a marital code at Sinai. Now they wished to be free of that code. Kesav Sofer connects this decline in morals with their earlier demand for meat. They… complained of domestic strife. They went on to develop their argument and claimed that the family quarrels were a result of the marital code; they were married to comparative strangers. Had they been permitted to marry people who were more closely bound to them by ties of blood, the families would be more…united; these quarrels about fish and meat would never have arisen. Moshe thought that the grumbling was about fish, meat and domestic strife and “it was evil in the eyes of Moshe.” But Hashem saw the deeper hidden motives — they wished to throw off moral restraints — and “Hashem was very wrathful.”

How do such hidden motives and their possible roots seem to relate to what appears as today’s war for the Jewish soul??.

In the same way that the Jews in Bamidbar reacted to change — a new code of marital unions which they were unaccustomed to and needed to acclimate themselves to, the leftist media and intelligencia, along with deeply engrained leftist roots in political and governmental institutions seem to have evolved to prey upon vulnerable masses of today’s Am Yisrael who, like B’nei Yisrael in Bamidbar, seem not sufficiently knowledgeable and unaccustomed to Halacha — Jewish law and morality and the eternal Jewish link and connection with Eretz Yisrael.

But it seems, at least to this author, that over the last number of decades, there has evolved various degrees of atzlus: laziness among B’nei Yisrael, both amongst secular and observant Jews.

Rabbi Henach Leibowitz, in his sefer “Majesty of Man”, cites Midrash in contrasting the success of Yehoshua’s spies: Calev and Pinchas, with the catastrophic failure of the spies appointed by Moshe in our parshat to scout out Eretz Yisrael. R’ Leibowitz cites Midrash (“Majesty of Man”, page 228):

…The primary factor which made Calev and Pinchas… so successful was their mesirut nefesh — willingness to give of themselves. Calev and Pinchas disguised themselves as salesmen, and went shouting through the streets of Yericho selling there wares so that no one would suspect them of spying.

The spies of Moshe, on the other hand, did not act with such mesirut nefesh. The cause of was a minute measure of atzlus… in them. It was this laziness that caused the nisi’im to view the situation in Eretz Yisrael without exerting the proper effort to achieve total clarity of vision. Their judgement was erroneous due to this small flaw. Had they exerted themselves properly, they would have seen the truth: conquering Canaan was within B’nei Yisrael’s power.

R’ Leibowitz goes on to cite Shlomo HaMelech as related in Devarim Rabbah 8:6):

An Atzel — a lazy person [re: going to learn]…. is having delusions of dangers and obstacles much greater than actually exist.

Shlomo HaMelech, though, is simply stating a fact of human nature: man avoids exertion. This force causes one to see events, actions and situations differently than they actually are. Shlomo HaMelech’s atzel created rationalizations due to his laziness.

As this author’s understands and interpolates then, among the observant, this possible atzlus reflects itself in areas such as fast-paced, auto-pilot tefillah without kavanah: intent, in the haphazard way that siddurim, Chumashim and other texts are replaced (or all to often not replaced) on their appropriate shelves in their rush to leave shul, leaving shul facilities in less than a respectful state and often not being sufficiently zealous for their fellow Jews and for Eretz Yisrael (thinking back to the expulsion of our brethren from Gush Katif an its run-up where many of us prioritized our own needs before those of our brethren). In this author’s understanding, inevitably there are many more such citations of atzlus not mentioned here.

Among the secular, its a case where they have been so misguided by generations of governmental, leftist-defeatist-cancer-infected military establishment, media and intelligencia elitist mythical “dogma” that, even being in close quarters in our small Medinat Yisrael, and having to interact with our various observant segments — sectors, they’ve been conditioned to abhor observance and thus seemingly lack the initiative — the mesirut nefesh to learn the truth. Add to that, the lack amongst most secular Jews to come to the aid of their Gush Katif brethren. And as with the observant sectors, inevitably there are many more such citations of atzlus not mentioned here. Thus is the war for the Jewish heart and neshama — Jews vs Israelis.

And matters are not helped by seeming atzlus on the part of certain rightist-activists who frequent Har HaBayit (the Temple Mount), the Ma’arat HaMachpela, etc. but who, in this author’s view, stumble down the slippery slope of being benign regarding transportation on Shabbos, stating: “each community will make its own decisions, and private companies can fulfill those needs” — leading to myriads of additional Halachic issues, thus acting hypocritically in full view of Hashem and of the nations, thus endangering, with their hypocrisy, our very sovereignty over our Jewish Holy Places which these activists embrace, and over the entirety of Eretz Yisrael.

“The Midrash Says,” by Rabbi Moshe Weissman (Sefer Bamidbar, Parsha Shelach, pages 162-163) discusses the corruption of the spies:

The twelve spies were dispatched on the 29th of Sivan, 2449.

Although they had been tzaddikim at the time of their appointment, they turned sour as soon as Moshe sent them out. They immediately decided to bring back a derogatory report so as to detain B’nai Yisrael.

What caused the Spies to become corrupted?

They said to each other, “Under Moshe’s leadership, we are heads of the people. As soon as we enter Eretz Yisrael, Yehoshua will become the leader. He will then appoint a different cabinet of ministers. Let us therefore detain the people in the wilderness to ensure that we shall not be demoted from our high positions.”

They spent the next 40 days planning how to make it plausible that Eretz Yisrael could not be conquered.

In a National Council of Young Israel Parshat HaShevua (June 24, 1995) on our Parsha, Rabbi Dr. Chaim Wakslak cites a preface written by Chasam Sofer in his books of Responsa:

It was because of their leadership positions, intense piety and their acclimation to a miraculous existence that they wanted to avoid the non- spiritual, non-miraculous, somewhat pedestrian existence that awaited them in Eretz Yisrael.

Rabbi Dr. Wakslak goes on to write:

Had the Miraglim… realized that it was incumbent upon B’nai Yisrael to move from a realm of the overtly miraculous that they had enjoyed until then, to the fulfillment of Mitzvot…, they might not have arrogantly decided to resist the Divine plan and B’nei Yisrael might have been spared the punishment that the sin of the Miraglim led to.

In essence, the spies provided the perfect “out”, the perfect rationale to sever the bond. As heads of the Sh’vatim, the 10 spies, with their ulterior motives: maintainance and perpetuation of their positions, station and empires, their perks and spoils, they covered and perpetuated their own kingdoms.

And so, true to the form which both Nachshoni and Rabbi Dr. Wakslak describe, the disunity, and apparent mutual jealousy and distrust within the religious sectors today, coupled with the leftist, elitist intelligencia scoffers whose distorted historical revisionism have fed efforts by successive Israeli governments who sought, seek to divide and conquer, maintain, consolidate and perpetuate their secular kingdom at the expense of the governed and at the expense of Jewish sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael as well as against the advent of a REAL Jewish leadership. Such a Real Jewish leadership would be in nobody’s pocket, would not pander to certain sectors of the population for their votes by compromising Halacha, would owe no debts to today’s political hacks, would make no bargains with hacks who would throw any locality or segment of the governed “under the bus.” This Real Jewish Leadership would subserviant ONLY to Shemayim.

If today’s political/governmental leaders only realized and internalized the Eternal Incumbency of Shemayim, maybe they would realize that they need to step aside in favor of Real Torah-true Jewish leadership which epitomizes and reconnects the Jews with their Divine legacy: Eretz Yisrael..

We live in contemporary times where the earliest vestiges of disunity and disdain for one’s fellow Jews and for our Eretz HaKiddusha, as well as a total absence of emunah in Hashem, manifested itself in propaganda displays. This disdain and disunity has evolved into engrained, morally corrupt historical revisionist institutions and media which have lost grasp of who they are and why they or we are here in the first place. But we, the masses don’t have to accept, support and rally around contemporary false miraglim, be they so-called “journalists” or a former President of Israel, who defame OUR Divine legacy — Eretz Yisrael while endoctrinating and brain-washing successive generations. We must not support a hack “political beltway” whose mindset and actions have their roots in those false miraglim of Bamidbar, and who like them, fear for their modern-day secular empires — empires which would be lost for all time in an Authentic Jewish Torah-based governance, and for their political perks and spoils above all else.

We long for the attributes of a Moshe Rabbeinu, of a real Jewish leadership, which by its very nature, recognizes the necessity of national unity and the continued building and ingathering of the Jews to modern-day Israel. Such a leadership recognizes that success in Yishuv Eretz Yisrael, and in conflicts with enemies bent on our destruction are in the Hand of Hashem, but that the Yad Hashem depends on our unity and the labor, planning and efforts of our unity.

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 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 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.

Parshat Beha’aloscha 5776: Aaron HaKohen’s Enthusiasm and Constancy of Service — Do We Strive to Emulate?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Sunday, June 12th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Beha’aloscha is being sponsored by Loren and Sora Deetza Spigelman of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated lilui nishmas for Yonatan Mordechai ben Elisha Tzadok. To the Spigelman 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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Parshat Beha’aloscha 5776: Aaron HaKohen’s Enthusiasm and Constancy of Service — Do We Strive to Emulate?

by Moshe Burt

The opening posukim of our Parsha teach us:

“Hashem spoke to Moshe, telling him to speak to Aaron and say to him, ‘When you light the lamps, the seven lamps shall illuminate the menorah.’” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 8, posukim 1-2, translation as rendered by R’ Aryeh Kaplan, z”l in “The Living Torah” Chumash)

“And Aaron did so, toward the face of the Menorah he kindled the lamps, as Hashem had commanded Moshe.” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 8, posuk 3 translation as rendered in the Artscroll Chumash, page 775)

Many commentators including Rashi and the S’fas Emes, as cited by by R’ Zelig Pliskin in “Growth Through Torah”, note that this latter posuk expresses the epitomization of the enthusiasm and constancy of Aaron HaKohen’s Service in the Mishkan as a paradigm for B’nai Yisrael to emulate.

R’ Pliskin writes (Sefer “Growth Through Torah”, Parsha Beha’aloscha, page 318):

Rashi comments: “This is to tell the praise of Aaron that he did not change.”

The S’fas Emes explained that usually when a person starts something new, he feels very enthusiastic about what he is doing. He is excited about the good he is doing and feels very motivated. But after some time passes the enthusiasm and excitement get lost. This is the praise of Aaron. Every time he lit the lamp in the Tabernacle [Mishkan] he did so with the same enthusiasm as on the first day.

R’ Mordechai Katz, in his sefer “L’lmode U’lamed (page 136) expands on the citings from R’ Pliskin in citing an unnamed commentator who provides a “psychologically-based explanation” of Rashi’s comment:

It is human nature to begin an assignment with the greatest enthusiasm. Gradually, however, this initial ardor cools. After a while, the person performs this task more out of habit than out of devotion. But this was not the case with Aaron. He began his duties in the Mishkan with the most fervent of devotion and maintained that devotion throughout his years of service. His enthusiasm for serving Hashem never wavered. This then is what Rashi is informing us here.

Therefore, it seems clear that Aaron HaKohen’s lifetime constancy of service is l’chatchila (the way things ought to be), the paradigm for all of B’nai Yisrael to emulate for all time and beyond only tefillot. But for many, tefillot (prayers) and other forms of service seem, through the generations, to have been reduced to automatic-pilot, with words of tefillah slurred and unintelligible and/or blown through at a speed which could make one’s head spin. And it often seems as if the one davening repetitions on Shabbos, i.e. Shacharit or Mussaf, for the tzibbor (for the kehillah) is more concerned with his own melodiousness than with making an effort to pronounce each word fluently and distinctly.

Further, often one needs to arrive at Shul on Shabbos morning a half-hour before Brachot just to be able to keep pace with the Shaliach Tzibbor through P’sukei D’Zimrah. And in the rush to keep pace with the Shaliach Tzibbor, various Shul facilities are often left in a deplorable state after multiple use.

In the end, many Kehillot continuously complete a full Shabbos tefillah in less than two hours, not including the Rav’s drasha, blow through Aleinu at “mach 1″ speed. Then, in their mad dash out of Shul, they either replace their siddurim and Chumashim on shelves in a haphazard manner, unbecoming these holy s’forim, or they simply leave the.siddurim and Chumashim where they sat.

R’ Katz adds (“L’lmode U’lamed, page 136):

It is sad but true that we have become so used to many of our activities that we perform them mechanically, without any feelings whatsoever. This is why our Tefillos sometimes [?] become exercises in reading Hebrew rather than emotional communications with Hashem.

“Prayer without devotion is like a body without a soul.” (Yeshuos Meshilo)

So, what does Aaron Hakohen’s enthusiasm and constancy of service, and the respective services of the Kohanim and the Lev’im have to do with our tefillot today, such as with Aleinu?

Firstly, let’s revisit this jaw-dropping comment and citation from R’ Mordechai Katz (“L’lmode U’lamed, page 136):

It is sad but true that we have become so used to many of our activities that we perform them mechanically, without any feelings whatsoever. This is why our Tefillos sometimes [?] become exercises in reading Hebrew rather than emotional communications with Hashem.

“Prayer without devotion is like a body without a soul.” (Yeshuos Meshilo)

And if it weren’t for Kaddish afterwards, gang-way for the stampede! So, from the beginning of Aleinu, the main focus of those saying Kaddish, bearing in mind the break-neck speed with which the Shaliach Tzibbor completes his Aleinu, is to rush in a frenzy to surround the Bima — their minds and focus seemingly very far from the mission at hand — “Our Duty” — both paragraphs of it.

This mad dash described above sounds more like what R’ Pliskin subsequently writes on the above posuk (ibid – Sefer “Growth Through Torah”, Parsha Beha’aloscha, page 318):

…After doing the same thing over and over, people get bored… In order to accomplish anything, one needs to master the ability of sustaining enthusiasm…. as if it were the first time.

Aleinu L’Shabeiyach: The verbalization of OUR Chiyuv — it’s our obligation as Jews to praise and glorify Hashem’s name. Aleinu is the most often said, the most repetitious and unchangeable, yet the most under-rated, least respected, but perhaps the most important of all of our daily tefillot. Due to the pressure of the Shaliach Tzibbor’s pace, no one seemingly even bothers to take the time, when vocalizing the tefillah, to even focus on the meanings of it: that Yehoshua davened it forwards, backwards, sideways through as the Jews encircled Yericho and the Shofars blew until Yericho’s walls fell in heaps. Heck, when a Shliach Tzibbor completes Aleinu in less than 30 -45 seconds, could he have entirely blown off the second paragraph Akhan’s teshuvah (Akhan’s repentance and striving to improve, to come closer to Hashem — to rectify his sin of taking spoils from battle)?

Rabbi Ari Enkin makes this compelling statement regarding Aleinu in his Halacha Sefer (”Daled Amos” page 24):

I have heard interpretations that the entire prayer service is simply one gigantic preparation for the recitation of Aleinu.

Rabbi Enkin then includes a reference footnote to the Mishne Berura 132:8A where the Rama tells us:

Say “Aleinu L’Shabeiyach” while standing after tefillah and be careful to daven it with kavanah. From where and from whom did the impetus for Rabbi Enkin’s compelling statement come?

R’Shimshon Pincus, who asks a startling question in his well-known and oft-referenced sefer on Tefillah; Nefesh Shimshon, as well as other sources, provide jaw-dropping
citings, some of which are para-phrased here and give clues to back Rabbi Enkin’s compelling statement:

  • 1/ R’ Pincus cites a responsa of the Gaonim from sometime between 500 to 1,000 CE where someone asks: How is it possible that Aleinu is said in Chutz L’Aretz? Such a high-level tefillah shouldn’t be permitted to be davened except in a place close to Hashem, Yehoshua only davened Aleinu upon entering Eretz Yisrael.

    From this question, we see the specialness of Aleinu — that on no other tefillah is such a question asked. There must be something great, mighty and elevated in Aleinu which Gaonim felt can’t be appreciated in any other locale. This testifies to the deep and special meaning of Aleinu.

  • 2/ R’Pincus cites the Gry’z Z’l as noting that the whole power of the Yetzer Hora and its troops on the human mind is through the imagination, convincing man that he (man) is in control.

    If only man would say with vigor and strength that… [all that the Yetzer Hora has convinced man of man’s control of] are Hevel V’rik — vanity and emptiness and that there is nothing real in them, he (man) would then find it easier to recognize that… Hashem Keilokim — that there is nothing else. Afterwards, Satan would not have power to mess with man’s mind because man realizes that everything is dependent upon Him. R’Pincus brings as Aleinu’s purpose that it reinforces the feeling of the Jew, as he leaves tefillot, that he is totally dependent upon Hashem.

  • 3/ Another Sefer, L’David Shiur by Asher Elbaz seems to answer R’Pincus’ citing from Gaonim responsa citing R’Hai Gaon which indicates that by those in Chutz L’Aretz aiming their tefillahs toward Israel and toward the Beit HaMikdash, the Jewish world’s tefillahs rise to Shemayim from the Mikdash.
  • 4/ Sefer L’David Shiur cites the Rokeach who notes that Yehoshua Ben Nun repeated Aleinu on his knees in awe and in a loud voice in a tune which makes the heart rejoice. Therefore, a person should have kavanah to sing Aleinu with all of his might to his Creator. [Can this be done at break-neck speed?]
  • 5/ Sefer L’David Shiur cites the Chida which says to say Aleinu word-by-word [seeming obvious to not slur or mumble-jumble them] because it is a very awesome praise full of very high secrets.
  • 6/ L’David Shiur also cites the M’Chazik Bracha (Koof, Lamed, Bet) which indicates that there is no other praise to our Creator like Aleinu and that it is higher than all of the praises in the world.

Finally, Rabbi Asher Barach Wegbreit of Yeshivat Birkat HaTorah, wrote in the forward to his sefer, “The Power of Aleinu” (page 23):

I am not aware of any other single prayer that… enables you to fulfill a total of 30 mitzvot d’Oraisa (Torah Commandments). These mitzvot include two of the Ten Commandments, and all of them are fundamental components of our faith and existence as Jewish people. And since reward for the fulfillment of just a single Torah mitzvah is limitless, think what you can accomplish every time you recite aleinu in a proper manner.

It is clear that the general public is not aware of this…, as most of the time they breeze through these holy words while rushing out of shul.

But, yet we have the unmitigated gall to blow through Aleinu and then flee out of Shul three times a day. People don’t seem to realize, or they seem to discount, that Aleinu is an integral part of Our Service — Our individual and collective Divine Service. It’s Our chance to emulate Aaron HaKohen and pray for the world to cleave to Hashem — the Creator of the world and all that is in it.

Shouldn’t B’nai Yisrael always treat Aleinu, and for that matter, all designated tefillot with the same degree of seriousness to which Aaron HaKohen treated his daily service and to which Kohanim and Levi’im throughout our generations treated their respective service, with or without the Beit HaMikdash?? Isn’t it time to turn off the automatic-pilot?

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 nearly two 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 the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Naso and Shavuot 5776: Ruth and Bo’az and Fairness, and Honesty Toward Ger’im, Ba’alei Teshuva and Olim Chadashim

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, June 4th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Naso/Shavu’ot is being sponsored by Dov and Bracha Moses of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for refuah shlaima for Rachel bat Chaya Perel, Yehudit bat Chaya Perel and Chaya Perel bat Rivka. To the Moses family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring (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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Parshat Naso and Shavuot 5776: Ruth and Bo’az and Fairness, and Honesty Toward Ger’im, Ba’alei Teshuva and Olim Chadashim

by Moshe Burt

This year, our Parshat Naso falls out on the Shabbos which is followed immediately by Shavuot. Thus it was deemed fitting that this vort relate to both regarding the Ger, Ba’alei Teshuva and Olim Chadashim.

The lessons regarding national unity as expressed by the Kohanim in the Birchat Kohanim, and fairness, honesty in dealings and interelationships between all types of Jews are pertinent for all-time, not just as paradigm for Mattan Torah.

The importance of these common threads in carving out national unity would, or should extend to the nurture and acceptance of Ba’alei Teshuva into the observant community, as well as to an attitude of respect, acceptance and cooperation by an indigenous Jewish kehal, be it on a national level or a local one, toward new arrivals — be they Ger Tzaddikim or Olim Chadashim.

Near the beginning of Parsha Naso, Hashem speaks to Moshe telling him to speak to the B’nai Yisrael as follows;

“… A man or woman who commits any of man’s sins, by committing treachery toward Hashem.” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 5, posuk 6)

R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z’l in the new Hirsch Chumash (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Daniel Haberman) illustrates and emphasizes this treachery by way of equation of man’s sins in his business dealings with committing a breach of trust against Hashem (Hirsch Chumash, Sefer BaMidbar, commentary on Perek 5, posuk 6, pages 68-69):

Every… sin against one’s fellow man is also a breach of trust against Hashem; for… Hashem is the Guarantor of honesty in business dealings between men. The breach of trust is especially serious if the person takes an oath and invokes the Name of Hashem in order to prove his honesty. In such a case, the appeal to Hashem is exploited in order to conceal an injustice. The debt owed to one’s fellow man becomes, as a result of the oath, a debt owed to Hashem. It is elevated to sacred status because the oath taker claims that he is “close to Hashem”; he as it were, wraps himself in the Me’il [the robe -- Rashbam: garment of honor -- Stone Chumash Parsha Tetzaveh, page 467] of the Kohen, and his treachery against his fellow thereby becomes Me’ilah [in modern day Israeli Iv'rit = embezzlement].

Rav Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” (page 312), attributes to Sforno comments regarding “…committing treachery toward Hashem” to the effect that:

… This refers to one who steals from a convert to Judaism. Harming him is considered a trespass against the Almighty because this person had the idealism to come to Almighty’s Torah. One desecrates the Almighty’s name in his [the Gers'] eyes by deceiving him.

A person who comes to Torah on his own volition does so because of the beautiful and uplifted ideas he hears about Torah principles. He made his decision on the assumption that those who follow Torah will act towards him in accordance with all of the Torah laws pertaining to interpersonal relations. If someone cheats him financially or in some other way wrongs him, he will not only suffer a monetary loss. Rather, he might also feel disillusioned with his decision to accept a Torah way of life…. The importance of not harming a convert can be seen from the fact that Torah warns us about this in numerous places.

The Ger Tzeddek has usually given up very much because of his ideals and will experience much pain from his disappointment that the people he is in contact with do not meet the Torah standards he expected of them. The importance of not harming a convert can be seen from the fact that Torah warns us about this in a number of places. From the negative we can learn the positive. The merit of acting with love and kindness toward a convert is great.

Parshiyot HaShavu’ot which this author has developed and said over through the years have tended to focus on the middot of honesty and Ahavat Chinom for our fellow Jews and the impact that a lack of these middot makes on our collective mindset at various levels; from personal, to business, to learning, to the levels of governing and politics. It seems that a paradigm of these middot is how we are taught to treat the Ger Tzeddik. We are taught to go above and beyond the norm –to go, in the vernacular which evolved from American Pro-Football, beyond “the full nine yards” in extending kindnesses to a Ger Tzeddek.

There is an old axiom that was heard back in Philadelphia, in the “Old Country” amongst Religious Jews that he who was born, raised and has lived his entire life as a Religious Jew can’t fit into the shoes or know the road that the Ba’al Teshuva has traveled. Chavel Chomer, that all Jews can’t know and internalize the road that the Ger Tzaddik has traveled in his evolution toward the Emmet of Judaism. But often, there seems to be a chauvinism shown amongst some of those who are frum-from-birth toward the Ba’al Teshuva, the Ger Tzeddek, or the Oleh Chadash.

As with the Ger Tzeddek, an indigenous klal — whether local or national, can’t possibly know the road travelled by a Ba’al Teshuva or the Oleh Chadash (new resident) who, heretofore, lived in a foreign land, or the road travelled by those from whom the Ba’al Teshuva or oleh chadash descended. It seems obvious, yet often disregarded — tread upon with the Eikev — with the heel, that the indigenous klal ought not to use the intricate nuances of their language, or so-called “local customs” to trick, to put “obstacles in the way of the blind” — the oleh chadash — the new resident who made aliyah from a foreign land. The indigenous klal — whether local or national, must also not walk before either the Ger Tzeddek, the Ba’al Teshuva or the Oleh Chadash with feelings of either superiority or priority entitlements because of “their hard lives”, because of their army service, or because of their pain as terrorist victims or loss of loved ones on the battlefield.

Who among this indigenous klal can know the pain and suffering of their fellow Jew; Ba’al Teshuva or oleh chadash, instilled as a result of the Sho’ah, of generations of pogroms, abuse, persecution and more?? It seems obvious that every Jew, that every Oleh Chadash has at least the same merit as the indigenous Israeli Jew, that he merits the same rights to live, earn a living, receive justice in legal proceedings and appropriate, adequate, transparent medical care, etc. in Eretz Yisrael as does the indigenous klal — the native-born — without what might be called the local double-talk.

And the Ba’alei Teshuva and the Ger Tzeddik have earned and deserve the merit, by virtue of the road that they’ve travelled to achieve closeness with Hashem, of being considered fairly for shidduchim based on who they are, what they’ve achieved and continue to achieve in growing in Yiddishkiet. In short, all upright, righteous Jews, be they Ba’alei Teshuva, the Ger Tzeddik, the Oleh Chadash are Holy and merit V’Ahavta L’Rei’echa Komocha from their fellow Jews.

In Megillat Ruth, one receives an indication that the road traveled by Ruth was more substantial than love, admiration for Na’omi and concern for her welfare.

The Sforno apparently equates cheating or wronging a Ger Tzeddik with “committing treachery toward Hashem.” And it would seem that this S’forno would/should extend beyond the Ger Tzeddik to the Ba’al Teshuva who seeks closeness to Hashem and to the Oleh from a foreign land who starts a new life in Eretz HaKodesh. For we see that Na’omi’s return to Eretz Yisrael with her daughter-in-law, the Ger’es, that Ruth was treated with respect, acceptance and kindness. The chessed shown by Bo’az and his community toward Ruth should serve as a paradigm, not only for treatment of the Ger Tzeddek, but for treatment of the Ba’al Teshuva or new Olim as well — on a systemic national level as well as on a local communal level.

Above, we spoke of Perek 5, posuk 6 in Parsha Naso regarding the “sins of man” and “treachery against Hashem.” The very next posuk of our Parsha reads;

“They shall confess the sin that they committed; he shall make restitution for his guilt in his principal amount and add a fifth to it.” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 5, posuk 7)

“The Midrash Says”, comments regarding the punishment of the Jewish thief who steals from a Ger or from any other Jew, as follows;

“When the gentile nations heard about this mitzvah, they exclaimed, How great is this G’d who formulates laws that benefit those who observe them.”

“The Midrash Says” continues by saying;

“The Almighty …is more lenient, as it were, with sins against him personally than with a wrong committed by a man against his fellow.”

This applies not only to a sin committed against a native Jew but equally against a Ger Tzeddek, a non-Jew who converted Leshaim Shamayim.”

Rabbi Artscroll says on the posuk that:

“This law regarding proselytes was especially relevant now that their status was accentuated by the organization of the Sh’vatim. Since proselytes, not belonging to any of the 12 tribes, encamped separately, the Torah now gives the law regarding the theft of their property. This… teaches that financial treachery toward a fellow Jew is tantamount to treachery against G’d himself, for He defends the defenseless.” (Artscroll Stone Chumash, page 752)

It would therefore also seem that any treachery, not just monetary, done toward a fellow Jew, at whatever level of religiosity and under whatever guise; trickery, withholding information, speech, etc. would constitute a treachery against Hashem which will eventually have to be answered for by the perpetrators.

The Sefer Shem Mishmuel (page 302) cites Rabbi Berachyah in Shemos Rabbah Perek 28, posuk 1:

“The Tablets were six tefachim (handbreadths) long — in some sense, Hashem grasped two tefachim, Moshe grasped 2 tefachim and 2 tefachim bridged the gap between them.”

Shem Mishmuel then explains (pages 302 – 304):

We can sub-divide all mitzvot, and indeed, all human endeavors into three spheres: thought, speech and action. There are some Mitzvot which require a Jew to think in a particular way. For example, the first of the Ten Commandments demands belief in Hashem.

Other Mitzvot are dependent on speech. For example, one must verbally recall Shabbos…. not lie to the Beis Din or speak badly of another. Finally, there are many Mitzvot which utilize the Jew’s power of action. There are requirements to put on tefillin, shake the lulav, eat matzah, etc.

…Each of these three divisions reflect different interactions between man and Hashem.

Action… is entirely in an individual’s domain. He is not forced to do anything that he doesn’t want to do.

The actions of the Jew determine everything, even the ultimate success or failure of the peoples of the world. This idea is illustrated by Chazal:

“After Yisrael did that wicked act [the sin of the golden calf], Hashem wanted to grab the tablets from Moshe. However Moshe prevailed and snatched them back.”

To conclude, the actions of a Jew can have enormous consequences for good or for bad. Literally, everything depends upon it. And it could be that when the Jews received the Torah at Sinai they had all this in mind when they proclaimed: “All that Hashem has said, we will do and hear.” (Sefer Shemot, Perek 24, posuk 7)

We reflect on Shavu’ot about the story of Ruth, the Ger Tzeddeket who clung to Naomi saying;

“Do not urge me to leave you, to go back and not follow you. For wherever you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people are my people, and your G’d is my G’d; where you die, I will die and there I will be buried. Thus may Hashem do to me — and more! — if anything but death separates me from you.” (Megillat Ruth, Artscroll Tanach series, Perek 1, posukim 14-17, pages 79-81)

There was no mandate, no earthly obligation for Ruth to follow Naomi. She could have done what her sister-in-law Orpah did — they were both widowed of Naomi and Elimelech’s sons Machlon and Kilyon. When after the deaths of her husband and two sons, Naomi sought to return to Eretz Yisrael and bid the two widows to return to their Moabite people and land. Orpah tearfully left Naomi and returned to Moav, while Ruth clung to Naomi and her Jewishness thus charting her life unalterably along a Jewish path.

It’s important to focus on Ruth’s impact and her legacy, by way of the descendents of her union with Bo’az leading to Dovid HaMelech, and to the Ge’ula Shleima, the Ultimate Redemption, may we see and live it in our times. But it is also important to focus on the kindnesses of Bo’az toward Ruth, as a paradigm for how we should act with kindness and honesty toward the Ger, as well as the Ba’al Teshuva and the Oleh Chadash.

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 nearly two 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 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! Chag Some’ach!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Bamidbar 5776: Diversity Within a Common Goal — Unity of National Purpose in Our Time

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, May 28th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Bamidbar is being sponsored by Avraham and Miriam Deutsch of Efrat lilui nishmas the Yahrtzeit of Avraham’s Dad, Mordechai ben Avraham Aba whose Yahrtzeit is on Yud Tess Iyar. To the Deutsch family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring (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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Parshat Bamidbar 5776: Diversity Within a Common Goal — Unity of National Purpose in Our Time

by Moshe Burt

Once getting past the numbers crunching of the census, our Parsha speaks of Degalim: the flags of the Sh’vatim (Tribes) and their significance:

“Hashem spoke to Moshe and Aaron saying; ‘The B’nei Yisrael shall encamp, each man by the banner according to the insigniasof their fathers’ household, at a distance surrounding the Tent of Meeting shall they encamp.’” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 2, posukim 1-2)

The degalim represented a paradigm of Unity, yet expressed diversity within the various components of B’nei Yisrael, all of which play essential roles within a collective unity. Within a unity, there is room for integration and cooperation of diverse individual and group attributes, skills, strong points and actions when channeled toward the common goals of Unity, i.e. the common goals of B’nai Yisrael:

“When Hashem revealed himself at Har Sinai, twenty-two myriads of angels came down with him … and all of them were arranged in degalim. Once Israel saw them (the angels) in their degalim, they began to desire to be encamped in degalim. They said, ‘If only we could be made into degalim like them.’ Hashem said to them, ‘Regarding that which you desire — to be degalim — by your lives, I shall fulfill your request.’” Hashem then made the degalim known to B’nai Yisrael and instructed Moshe, “Make degalim for them, as they desired.” (Bamidbar Rabbah 2:3, excerpted from a Parshat HaShevua on Bamidbar by Rebbetzin Smiles.)

Shem Mishmuel (Sefer Shem Mishmuel rendered into English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski, pages 296-298) explains that the B’nai Yisrael sought to emulate the myriads of angels which accompanied Hashem on Har Sinai. And so Hashem granted B’nai Yisrael’s request by providing Degalim and establishing their alignment.

Shem Mishmuel explains further:

Angels are not subject to the vicissitudes of human life and are thus able to enjoy a continuous, high-level relationship with Hashem.

Yisrael admired this greatly and asked Hashem if they could also maintain such a relationship. Even while they toiled in the normal physical activities of day-to-day life, they wanted to remain close to Hashem, without ever allowing the physical nature of their lives to impede or cloud that relationship.

…We may suggest that Klal Yisrael connected to Hashem without the necessity of an intermediary. They felt a longing for a relationship with Hashem that was so close that it could not be satisfied by indirect contact. The angels experienced a direct relationship, and it was this that Klal Yisrael yearned to emulate. In this context, we may interpret the verse:

” … and his degel upon me was love.” (Shir HaShirim 2:4)

This means that the degalim of Klal Yisrael in the wilderness were an expression of deep yearning for love, and closeness to Hashem. Thus the ability to encamp in degalim, emulating the angels, was an opportunity for a profound and unparalleled
relationship between Hashem and the Jewish nation.

Each degel, as Shem Mishmuel quotes a Rashi to explain:

” … will have a colored flag hanging from it. The color of one will not be the color of the other, the color of each was determined by the color of it’s stone in the breastplate [the Urim Tumim worn by the Kohen Godol]. Through this, each will recognize his degel.” (Rashi, Bamidbar, Perek 2, posuk 2)

Shem Mishmuel explains that the degel served on a physical level as a rallying point for the members of a particular group whether during battle to prevent troops from getting lost if scattered, or so that each person knows his Shevet’s communal position.

It would seem that the loshen “his degel” would indicate expressions of love within a context of unity.

The spiritual meaning of the degalim of Klal Yisrael in the wilderness seems to be expression of deep yearning for, love of, and closeness to Hashem. Further, the degel of each individual Shevet (tribe) seems a representation of that Shevet’s unique expression of love and closeness to Hashem within the collective unity and cooperation of Kol B’nai Yisrael, just as was each Shevets’ unique expression of individuality manifested in its dressing of each of the 12 repetitions of the same offering at the inauguration of the Mishkan, within the unity of B’nei Yisrael, as we learn in Parshat Naso.

When Hashem formed the system of formation of the B’nai Yisrael during travel and encampments, the east side of the formation was occupied by Sh’vatim Yehuda, Yissachar, Zevulun. The Yissachar, Zevulun relationship is a paradigm of this cooperation and collective unity. We learn that, unlike the formation of all of the other tribes where Hashem used the conjunction “and”, Yissachar, Zevulun were not preceded by or split by “and.” We see in this relationship between the two tribes the sharing between the wealth of Zevulun’s merchants which provided the basis for the scholarship of Shevet Yissachar. For this reason, Shevet Zevulun is not preceded by the conjunction “and” so as to not accord it secondary status. Torah stresses that the contributions of Zevulun are considered every bit as important as those of Yissachar. (Sefer L’lmode Ul’lamed on Parsha Bamidbar, pages 131-132).

Sh’vatim Yissachar, Zevulun each expressed their individuality, their individual talents toward the fulfillment of a unity of purpose, as did all of the Sh’vatim, both in the dressing of their individual offerings for the Mishkan and via their own individual Shevet’s degel, as part of a unity of mission amongst the B’nai Yisrael in Bamidbar.

Regarding these discussions of unity and diversification within unity, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” cites Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 2, posuk 34 and comments, under the heading “Don’t become involved in a quarrel about seating arrangements”, citing Oznayim LeTorah:

“And the B’nei Yisrael did all that The Almighty Commanded Moshe, that is the way they encamped according to their flags, and that is the way they traveled, each person to his family together with the house of his father.”

What is the greatness of Am Yisrael listening to Moshe in this manner? Why would anyone have thought that they would not have listened? This comes to teach us that they did not quarrel about whose place would be at the head and who would be at the end, who would be at the east and who would be at the west. They accepted the will of The Almighty and did not complain or argue.

Unfortunately, in many places arguments do arise when people are not satisfied with the seating arrangements. (Oznayim LeTorah)

Arguments and complaints about this matter are usually based on arrogance and honor-seeking. If a person has a practical reason for wanting a certain place, his request could be quite reasonable. But if the root of his dissatisfaction is based on honor, he is making a big mistake.

So too, in our time, the individual talents, strong points and the potential of ALL segments, ALL sectors of believing Jews, have to be — must be meshed into cooperation, joint responsibility and unity toward achievement of common goals, no matter what their garb, where they live or what their minhaggim are. These attributes must not be wasted in bickering and contending — each against each other and against all of the others — sector vs sector. These attributes must not be squandered by individually wronging one’s fellow Jews in business, amongst their peers, in merchant/customer transactions or by finding ways to wrong one’s fellow both individually and amongst his peers by way of exploiting Halacha.

The common goals of this unity MUST include, but are not limited to blunting, halting and eliminating, by all possible means, any future expulsions, no matter what term the prevailing government and prime minister might coin to mask or package future expulsions of Jews and future land hand-overs to our enemies on any given day, or whatever tactics and slanders that equivocating, self-hating, self-debasing, surrenderist “leaders” might employ in order to attempt to delude Am Yisrael as to rationale, and to what they say will come after such intentional sins. Remember what Sharon said to a former IDF Chief Rabbi about “forty years of peace” before the expulsion of our brethren of Gush Katif? We, both observant and secular, must succeed in bringing a Medinat Torah to The Land 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 nearly two 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 the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Bechukotai 5776: The Tochochah and the Misguided

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, May 21st, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Bechukotai is being sponsored by Baruch and Tammy Labinsky of Ramat Beit Shemesh lilui nishmas Yitzchak Osher ben Yaakov. To the Labinsky 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 Bechukotai 5776: The Tochochah and the Misguided

by Moshe Burt

Our Parshat Bechukotai, the last parsha in Sefer Vayikra, deals with the Hashem’s enunciation of the blessings and curses of the Tochochah: Hashem’s Admonition of B’nai Yisrael.

Dictionary.com defines “admonition” thus:

noun
1. an act of admonishing.
2. counsel, advice, or caution.
3. a gentle reproof.
4. a warning or reproof given by an eccleslastical authority.

Near the conclusion of the Tochochah, Torah states the following (Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer Vayikra, Perek 26, posukim 40-41, 44-45) :

“They will confess their sin and the sin of their forefathers, for the treachery with which they betrayed Me, and also for having behaved toward Me with casualness. I, too, will behave toward them with casualness and I will bring them into the land of their enemies — perhaps then their unfeeling heart will be humbled and then they will gain appeasement for their sin. …While they are in the land of their enemies, I will not have been revolted by them nor will I have rejected them to obliterate them, to annul my covenant with them — for I am Hashem, their God. I will remember for them the covenant of the ancients, those whom I have taken out of the land of Egypt before the eyes of the nations, to be God unto them — I am Hashem.”

This conclusion of the Tochochah, as enunciated in Torah, seems stated in another way in Tehillim Psalm 81 which has been cited in another Parshat HaShevua in a previous year:

“I am Hashem, your G’d, who elevated you from the land of Egypt, 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. Those who hate Hashem lie to Him — so their destiny is eternal. But, He would feed him with the cream of the wheat, and with honey from a rock sate you.”

R’ Zelig Pliskin, in “Growth Through Torah” (page 303) entitles his thoughts on these posukim as “Don’t just confess your sins, actually improve.” With those words, R’ Pliskin seems to encapsulate true Jewish teshuvah as contrasted with the mere periodic cyclical confession (“forgive me father, for I have sinned…”) of another ‘faith”, followed by repetition of the very sin just confessed to.

R’ Pliskin cites the Chofetz Chayim from his sefer “Chofetz Chayim al HaTorah” (“Growth Through Torah”, page 303):

…The Torah teaches us that just confessing one’s wrongdoings without sincerely regretting the wrong one has done and without accepting on oneself to improve in the future is not worth anything. The most important aspect of repentance is to improve oneself from now on. Only positive changes in one’s actual behavior is true repentance.

In reflecting on the cited posukim above and the words of the Chofetz Chayim, as cited by R’ Pliskin, they seem to relate just as much on a communal/national level in rectifying national sins as they do to rectification of an individual’s sins.

It pains this author to feel the need to reiterate certain points in certain parshiyot on an annual basis or more, i.e. that for the nearly eleven years since the Ge’irush — the expulsion of our Jewish brethren from their homes, towns and communal lives in Gush Katif by a former Israeli government, despite the recurrent apologies and expressions of regret from many of our brethren for having defamed their brethren or who stood, or rather sat by — not daring to leave their studies, or to put their jobs or family lives on hold to help and support their brethren, and who went on with their lives — “business as usual” during the very days of the Ge’irush. It seems as if we have yet to hear the slightest contrition from many. And there seems to be an insufficient collective rising up of indignation amongst the collective Am Yisrael against the actions of subsequent Israeli governments regarding their constant threats or actualizations through the years, of further expulsions from parts of Our Eretz Yisrael, i.e. Yehuda, the Shomron (Judea and Samaria), the Jordan Valley, etc., of construction freezes, releases of terrorist killers with Jewish Blood-Stained hands, IDF protocols against murderous Arab terror and more.

But it seems at times that Klal Yisrael tolerates a governance, and political entities both new and old, which don’t learn from their disastrous errors of the past, as well as misguided segments of certain sectors of the Am, all of whom seemingly travel yet further away from the Ways of Hashem and the mission of B’nai Yisrael.

To cite two examples in particular: One being a new political entity, who has invoked separation of religion and state, as bechirot — choice in what this author views as a benign expression pertaining to observance of Shabbos visa vi the “issue” of transportation.

The particular political entity in question has framed discussion of this “issue” in a Q. and A. handout:

What is your position about public transportation on Shabbos?

“Bechira” is a value shared by all Jews, from the most religious to the least. It is not the state’s place, nor is it G’d’s desire, that the state force religion. We will provide an atmosphere to encourage people to keep Shabbos, but each community will mke its own decisions, and private companies can fulfill those needs.”

Please note the key phrase at the end:

“…and private companies can fulfill those needs.”

This author must express the principle that the term “private companies” is an oxymoron.

Dictionary.com defines oxymoron as:

Noun. A figure of speech by which a locution produces an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect, as in “cruel kindness” or “to make haste slowly.”.

In other words, the words “private companies” have conflicting meanings. Private, again via Dictionary.com:

Adjective.
Belonging to some particular person: private property.

Pertaining to or affecting a particular person or a small group of persons; individual; personal: for your private satisfaction.

Confined to or intended only for the persons immediately concerned; confidential

Company or Companies indicate an organization which either directly or indirectly deals with the public. In short, there seems no such thing as a “private company.”

Of course, in a “democracy”, in principle no one can force or compell an individual regarding Shabbos observance. But, regarding a company or organization, can one begin to contemplate, to imagine the halachic implicatons and consequences spiritually, economically of Bitul Shabbos, Chillul Hashem on a company level and the opening of pandora’s box?

In a Jewish state, we are defined by our Jewishness and there is no other aspect of Yiddishkeit that so defines a Jew as the keeping of Shabbos, and thus it seems clear to this author that Shabbos, as with no other Halacha or Mitzvah can not be treated benignly or subject to so-called “separation of religion and state.” This author has expressed often in the past that Shabbos is either the embarkation point for coming closer to Hashem, or the disembarkation point distancing one from Hashem.

How do they, we justify a Jewish Sovereignty over Har HaBayit, Ma’arat HaMachpela and all of, or any part of Eretz Yisrael without Shabbos observance? Undoubtedly, this political entity will lose more support than it will gain.

The second example is a reiteration excerpted from Parshat Metzora:

What does this author mean by the latter statement above: “possibly the result of a misguided understanding, for lack of a better word, of certain Halachot regarding interpersonal relations”? During the current period of rampant terrorist attacks; stabbings, shootings, drive-by shootings or stonings all over Israel, a Beit Knesset, Beit Medrash began commemorating the murdered victims of terror with a poster placed at the inner entrance to the Shul containing the names and pictures of both the male and female murder victims and meant to keep the kehillah focused, attentive and caring as to the current situation. One day, shortly before Purim, the poster mysteriously disappeared. When the poster was discovered as missing, the Rabbi, the Gabbai and the individual who took on the poster project all were at a loss as to its disappearance. Fortunately, a copy of the poster has since been restored to its normal visible position.

But why would someone take it upon one’s self, without receiving the proper permissions, to remove this poster or, for that matter, anything posted in the shul for the notice of its members? Was this action — the removal of the poster perhaps symptomatic of a wider malaise needing immediate, serious, consistent, unified Rabbinic attention?

This second example is cited here because during Chol HaMo’ed Pesach, the poster went missing again. And so one could ask, what could one possibly learn which would justify removing a poster dedicated to commemorating, in pictures, the memories of their brethren who were victims of murderous Arab terror?

A commentary in Sefer L’lmode Ul’lamed (page 126) on the Tochochah, the admonishment, the reproof, is explicit as to the punishments that will befall B’nai Yisrael if they violate Hashem’s Torah:

“I (Hashem), will set my face against you and you will be smitten before your enemies. They that hate you will rule over you.” (Parshat Bechukotai, Sefer Vayikra, Perek 26, posuk 17)

The commentary is as follows;

The text implies that included among the enemies will be those from Yisrael, enemies from within. These enemies, say our Rabbanim, are the most vicious of adversaries. Jews who do not accept their Judaism, and who seek to destroy their fellow Jews, are the most dangerous of all. They are traitors against their own kind who know where their fellow men are most vulnerable. (Sefer L’lmode Ul’lamed, Parshat Bechukotai, page 126)

They are Jews who seem to deny their roots and do not accept their Judaism. They put their “emunah” in mortals — in the prowess of man, in themselves and their self- interests and self-enrichment, in the super-power of the time while seeking to destroy their fellow Jews, Jewish roots, laws, history and heritage.

It is tragic that often the worst enemy of the Jewish people, and those most dangerous to the Jews, are the Jews themselves.

Indeed, divisiveness, fractionalization, coercion and polarization have set in amongst the sectors of the people of Israel. And the enemy amongst us, within; weak-willed pseudo-right wing leaders who compromise either their ideological and spiritual principles, or the liberal intelligencia, the leftist, socialist, self-hating, self-deprecating, self-affectionated, self-proclaimed intellectuals — they’re hot to seize on this divisiveness and polarization amongst the various sectors of Am Yisrael as the means to their sinful ends — divide and conquer.

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 nearly 1 3/4 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 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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