Parshat Va’eira 5777: Hashem — “…Faithful to Exact Payment”

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, January 21st, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off



Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua — Parshat Va’era is being sponsored by Binyamin and Tracy Skriloff and dedicated for a total, complete refuah shlaima for Binyamin’s neice Zeesa Baila bat Mindel Pescha. To Mishpochat Skriloff, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat Va’eira 5777: Hashem — “…Faithful to Exact Payment”

by Moshe Burt

Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch z”l in the new Hirsch Chumash (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Daniel Haberman) renders Sefer Sh’mos, Perek 6, posukim 1-3 (pages 79-81 — the last posuk of Parshat Sh’mos and the opening posukim of Parshat Va’eira:

“Hashem said to Moshe: Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh; for by a strong hand will he let them go, Indeed, by a strong hand will he drive them out of his land.”

“Hashem spoke to Moshe and said to him: I am Hashem.”

“[And was so] even when I appeared to Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov as the All-Sufficing G’d but had not become known to them as that which My Name [Hashem] Signifies.”

The Sapirstein Edition Chumash with Rashi explains, and provides commentary in footnote #6 relating to Perek 6, posuk 2; “…I am Hashem”:

Rashi on the posuk: “I am Hashem” means ‘I am faithful to exact payment…’

This Divine Name implies that G’d is eternal. It contains within it the words, “He was, He is, He will be.” Because He is eternal, He is not subject to the strictures of time, but is able to punish or reward at whatever time He desires to do so.

Thus, the Name implies that he is faithful to exact payment and to give reward. (Gur Aryeh)

This seems to refer back to commentary of The Manchester Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Yehuda Zev Segal, Sh’lita, z”l regarding Chanukah in his sefer, “Inspiration and Insight,” Discourses on the Holidays (pages 104-105):

The Greeks wanted the Jewish people to forsake their Torah way of life in favor of their [the Greek] own culture which glorified the physical and extolled indulgence in temporal pleasures. The Greeks were quite content to allow the Jews to remain alive — as long as they abandon those mitzvot which are at the core of Jewish belief. This decree, writes Bach, (based on a Baraisa) was, in fact, a Divine retribution for the Jews having become lax in their mitzvah observance. The mesiras nefesh, self- sacrifice of the Chashmonaim to preserve Torah life and restore the service to the Beit Hamikdash brought about the great miracle of their victory over the Greeks and the discovery of the flask of oil which miraculously burned for eight days. Thus, Chanukah is a celebration of the spirit, a yom tov which commemorates a victory of the spirit led by warriors of the spirit, the Chashmonaim.

Thus we learn about reward and punishment which we have come to know well throughout our history.

The Sapirstein Edition Chumash with Rashi continues with further Rashi commentary on Perek 6, posuk 2:

…When it is stated in the context of fulfillment of the commandments, for example , “And you will keep My commandments and perform them, I am Hashem.” (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 22, posuk 31) It means, “I am faithful to give reward.” (Toras Kohanim, Acharei 9:1)

The Artscroll Stone Chumash provides additional commentary on Perek 6, posuk 2 from both Rashi and Or HaChaim (page 319):

Rashi explains that “Hashem”, the Name revealed to Moshe, represents G’d as thr One who carries out His promises, for G’d was now prepared to fulfill His pledge to free Israel and bring them to the Land. But although the Patriarchs were told that G’d’s Name was Hashem, they had not seen Him in practice as having kept His promise, for the time had not come for the Land to be given to them. Nevertheless, they [the Patriarchs] had perfect faith that when the proper time arrived, He would do so.

Or HaChaim commented that G’d’s essence is represented by the Name Hashem. Even though the Patriarchs knew that Name, only Moshe had the degree of prophecy that enabled him to comprehend its significance to the highest degree possible for man.

The question in our times is, when the reward? When are we deemed worthy? When is His desired time to fully Redeem us in Our Eretz Yisrael? How much longer must we endure subversive governance: governance seemly dedicated on all levels, including the military, to the subordination and subversion among the governed of belief in and the Will of Hashem?

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

Good Shabbos!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Sh’mot 5777: Coalescing Accounts of the Evolution of Jewish Enslavement in Mitzrayim, the Lasting Canards and Lessons for Today?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, January 14th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua — Parshat Sh’mot is being sponsored by Yitzchak and Leyla Gross of Wynnewood, PA to commemorate the Yarhtzeit of Yitzchak’s Mother: Chaya Yita Sarah Bat Aharon. To Mishpochat Gross, many thanks for your sponsorship, your kindnesses through the years in helping facilitate Sefer Torah recycling, and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Sh’mot 5777: Coalescing Accounts of the Evolution of Jewish Enslavement in Mitzrayim, the Lasting Canards and Lessons for Today?

by Moshe Burt

In previous years, this author has indicated through various historical accounts, such as here and here, such as R’ Pliskin’s citings of R’ Chayim Shmuelevitz, by Rashi, by Rabbi Uziel Milevsky z’l in his sefer “Ner Uziel”, by R’ Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, z’l in the “New Hirsch Chumash”, the Kli Yekar regarding Parshat Vayechi, citings of the Slonimer Rebbe in Rebbetzin Smiles’ “Torah Tapestries”, historian Daniel Pipes, etc., that it is difficult to ascertain the precise time in Egyptian history, and which Pharaoh reigned at the outset of the cruel oppression and slavery of the B’nei Yisrael.

These various accounts allude to various versions of history as to how it was that the “new” reigning Pharaoh had no recollection of Yosef having saved Egypt from famine, whether this Pharaoh was actually leader of a foreign nation which had conquered Egypt, or whether this Pharaoh had convenient politically expedient amnesia regarding Yosef, or was a new indigenous Pharaoh. Accounts also vary as to whether the B’nei Yisrael remained together in the “Jewish province” of Goshen, separated from the Mitzriyim, or whether they (other than the Levi’im) assimilated into the heartland of Egypt. And this author questions: How could it have been that the Jews could have assimilated in Egypt, discontinued Bris Milah, adopted Mitzri idolatrous ways and sunk to such a lowly moral state had they all remained together in Goshen?

In short, the various accounts regarding both Egyptian history and the possible Jewish assimilation into the Egyptian heartland may have set the stage for the evolution of various anti-semitic canards which have plagued Am Yisrael throughout our periods of galut. And this possible Jewish assimilation into the Egyptian heartland, and loss of certain moral standards, may have led ultimately to the Jews’ loss of self-respect and self-esteem as well as considering themselves in a lowly manner leading them to being subjugated by the Egyptians.

R’ Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, z’l, in the “New Hirsch Chumash” renders and comments on posukim early in our Parsha (Sefer Sh’mot, Perek 1, posukim 8-9, pages 4-5):

“Now a new king rose up over Egypt, who knew nothing of Yosef.”

“And he said to his people: Lo! the B’nei Yisrael are a nation, too numerous and too mighty for us.”

“Now a new king rose up over Egypt” — V’yakam…al Mitzrayim” definitely does not imply a normal, legitimate succession to the royal throne. “Koom al” always denotes a violent overthrow. It seems therefore, that the old dynasty was overthrown and that the land and people of Egypt fell to the power of a foreign dynasty which had invaded the country.

Had the new dynasty been an indigenous one, Yosef would not have been unknown to the new king. It is typical that the explanation for all of the enmity against the Jews… is that the king knew nothing of Yosef. The [Egyptian] people did know Yosef, and did not look askance at the Jewish province [Goshen] and at the Jewish people growing in it. They [the Egyptian people] considered the Jews benefactors, not as intruders, and did not feel deprived by the Jews’ prosperity.

…The Egyptians were undoubtedly more powerful and more numerous than the Jews living in Goshen — unless we assume… the foreign ruler brought with him to Egypt the people of his own foreign tribe…

The king turned to his own people, the invaders… he said: “The Egyptians we no longer fear, for they are already under our power. But in the outlying province a tribe is growing too strong, and we will not be able to defeat them so easily.”

…Generally all of the phemonena of history are as old as history itself. Whenever a tyrant sought to oppress his subjects, he would deliver another people whom they [the indigenous subjects] in turn could afflict, and thus they [the indigenous subjects] would feel compensated for the oppression coming from above. This policy was the source of many of the decrees [throughout history] whose purpose was to afflict the Jews.

Similar considerations may have been motivated by the instigator [Pharaoh] of these, the very first anti-Jewish laws… He created a pariah caste, upon which the other castes could look down with contempt, thus self-assured, imagining themselves to be free men.

…Pharaoh found nothing with which to blame the Jews, except for their high birth rate, and that, to justify the harsh measures he intended to enact ["Come, let us deal cleverly with them..." Sefer Sh'mot, Perek 1, posuk 10] he had to cite reasons of “national interest”…]

Rabbi Uziel Milevsky z’l writes in his Sefer “Ner Uziel” on on Parshat Sh’mot (p. 297-301), as does R’ Moshe Weissman at the beginning of “The Midrash Says” on Sefer Sh’mot (page 1):

While the Sh’vatim lived, the Jews remained on Goshen and continued in the ways of their forefathers and were dedicated exclusively to Divine Service.

Following the deaths of Yaakov and the sons, the moral fabric began to unravel. The values of the forefathers eroded, particularly among the young and newly-married couples. Although the B’nai Yisrael maintained their Hebrew names [and family purity], their distinct dress, their language, their kindnesses each toward the other, they begin to venture beyond the pale of separation from the Mitzriyim which was Goshen and beyond exclusive Divine service.

R’ Weissman cites The Chazon Ish in “The Midrash Says” on Sefer Sh’mot (page 1):

…When questioned about the actual moral standard of the B’nei Yisrael in Egypt, [The Chazon Ish] explained that despite the righteousness of the Jewish women and the open miracles which they experienced, they [the B'nei Yisrael] were steeped in idol worship. (The Chazon Ish, Letters 108-109)

Could it be that the accounts noted in this vort regarding the evolution toward B’nei Yisrael’s oppression, enslavement, persecution by the Mitzriyim and their reduction to a lowly moral state may all at least be partially accurate? It should be noted here that as Pharaoh devised his cunning plan to combat Jewish population growth by drafting, enticing and luring B’nei Yisrael ultimately into slavery under the guise of patriotism and national responsibility, the Levi’im remained in Goshen. (“The Midrash Says” on Sefer Sh’mot, page 5)

R’ Weissman notes (“The Midrash Says” on Sefer Sh’mot, page 6) and cites Rambam:

One Tribe of B’nei Yisrael was never drafted by Pharaoh, The Tribe of Levi. When Pharaoh issued the original proclamation, they did not appear at work, saying, “We are constantly engaged in Torah-study and have no time to come!” Subsequently, Pharaoh left them alone, and they remained free until the end of the exile. Had they stepped out of the Beit Hamidrash to volunteer their services for even one day, the consequences would have been two hundred and ten years of slavery!

The Levi’im had been instructed by their forefather Yaakov to concentrate on learning Torah. (Rambam, Akoo”m [goy] Alef, Gimmel)

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin (“Growth Through Torah”, Parshat Sh’mot, pages 138-140) quotes from the beginning of Sefer Sh’mot and cites both Ohr Hachayim and Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz in providing yet another dimension to the evolution of Jewish enslavement in Mitzrayim and profound lessons we need to internalize today:

“And Yosef died, and all of his brothers, and that entire generation.” (Sefer Sh’mot, Perek 1, posuk 6)

Ohr Hachayim explains that the enslavement of the Israelites by the Egyptians occurred in three stages. First Yosef died, the Israelites lost their power. Then the brothers died. As long as even one of the brothers was alive, the Egyptian still honored them. Even afterwards as long as the members of that first generation were alive, the Egyptians considered them important and were not able to treat them as slaves.

Rabbi Chayim Shmuelevitz…, commented .. that there are two aspects here. One is on the side of the Egyptians. They were unable to treat the Jewish people as slaves as long as they [the Egyptians] considered them important. The other aspect is on the side of the Jewish people themselves. As long as they [the Jewish people] were considered important and worthy of respect by themselves [self-respect and self-esteem], the Egyptians were not able to treat them in an inferior manner. Only when they considered themselves in a lowly manner could they be subjugated by others.

Rav Chayim refers to this as how the evil inclination deals with people, i.e. that once a person feels inferior, feels a sense of guilt and worthlessness, “then he is easy prey for being trapped by the evil inclination….”

Rav Pliskin’s citings (“Growth Through Torah”, Parshat Sh’mot, ibid) connect self-respect and having respect for others, or lack of self-respect and resultant lack of respect for others with a citing in gemara Sanhedrin 37a regarding false testimony, i.e., that in capital punishment cases, the witnesses are told:

“In the beginning only one man was created. This is to teach us that whoever causes the death of one person is considered as destroying an entire world. Therefore each person is obligated to say, ‘The world was created for me’”…. Rashi explains….: “That is, I am as important as an entire world. Therefore, I will not cause myself to be destroyed for one transgression.” This, says Rashi, will prevent him from delivering the false testimony.

But in talking about the Jews’ descent into both moral/spiritual decline and into Egyptian oppression, enslavement and persecution, the apparent assimilation into Mitzri society and resultant loss of collective self-respect, are we not all witness to contemporary history as we view the lack of self-respect and resultant lack of respect for others resulting in false, slanderous testimony against one’s fellow Jews by Israel’s governing politicians, the police, the so-called “justice system”, academia, and media intelligencia? Do we not witness the creeping onset in modern-day medinat Israel of systemic, and often “judicial” persecution of Torah Judaism by an evil, secular, Hellenistic Israeli governance? Are we all not witness as the Hellenists frame us for “price-tag crimes” against Arabs, who in fact commit crimes against each other in order to frame Jews, while these very Arabs destroy our crops, bloody-handedly kidnap, kill and maim our brethren and seize, appropriate and build on Our Land with immunity? And there was a Jewish Press piece on the alleged Jewish suspects in an arson attack at the Duma Village. And we mustn’t forget about the leftist Hellenist “absentee property” rouse which prompts a leftist “judiciary” to rip away locations such as Amona from Jewish residents while their brethren either remain silent or settle for a meaningless two-hour “rally.”

When a Jewish governance doubts its’ rights, its’ Divine entitlement to its’ own sovereignty on the entirety of its’ own Divinely-Given land, with nary a thought of the Divine Jewish mission statement, and thus subjugates and persecutes its’ own for acting to assert their Divine Legacy of possessing Eretz Yisrael, it is as if performing a clever, cunning rouse against the governed, the B’nei Yisrael which quietlly acquiesces to oppression and persecution. Is it any wonder that murderous Arab snipers, suicide bombers, ambushers, drive-by attacks, green laser and arson attacks, land seizures and attempted kidnappings ensue? Is it small wonder that Arabs display their hands filled with Jewish blood? Contrast today with the days which immediately followed the Six Day War, when Arabs in Jerusalem, Hevron, etc. shivered, quaked and waved white sheets of surrender at the sight of a single Jew.

Are we not witness to ever-increasing polarization in Israel amongst the various sectors of Am Yisrael, including and particularly amongst the sectors of observant Jews? Are we blind to one sector, or a fraction of one sector, imposing and strong-arming its will — at the peril of physical violence, traffic disruption, material destruction and vandalism or verbal defamation — upon other sectors whose mesorah (learned chumras, traditions, etc.) seems not in accord with theirs? And does imposition and strong-arming of one’s ways onto others not constitute a form of false, slanderous testimony against another Observant Jewish sector? And does this false testimony not add fuel to a divide-and-conquer, Hellenistic Israeli governance?

There is another negative aspect which accompanies loss of Jewish self-respect and self-dignity. Commentators refer to the Jews as being as being descended from the Tzaddik Ever, the great-grandson of another Tzaddik — Shem, a son of No’ach. Ever, the name from which we are told “Iv’ri” (Hebrew) evolved, has been defined by commentators as “the other side”, separate, alone, i.e. “a nation which dwells alone.” And yet, as with the Jews in Mitzrayim post-Yosef and the brothers, where large numbers of Jews apparently left Goshen en-masse and inter-mingled with the Mitzriyim in Egypt proper, in the galut, we’ve melted and assimilated, again and again, in whatever nation we happen to reside at any point in history, misplacing our loyalties with another nation rather than with our Jewish nation, hoping that they, that nation, will come to love us and that they will remember our contributions to their society. Of course, this assimilation and misplaced loyalties for the nation of our temporary residence results in just the opposite of the desired “love”, in their hate and disdain for us, i.e. “dislike for the unlike”.

“…Egypt, who knew nothing of Yosef.”

And in our modern-day Jewish State, Medinat Yisrael, the politicians, the governance, the intelligencia, academia, the media and most of the governed yearn to be like the nations — to live the “normal” life. Seems as if we can’t get this intermingling and assimilation out of our national system.

In short, we’ve collectively lost our backbone as well as our own self-respect and self esteem in our projected desire to be “like the nations’ and thus, the nations see us not as “a light unto them”, but as a liability, as objects of derision, hate, subjugation.

Are we, as individuals, soo preoccupied with our individual needs and matzavim that we face a collective spiritual disconnect; i.e., between intellect and vocalization, and the heart and neshama, as our ancesters faced during the Egyptian oppression, slavery and persecution, with the result that we overlook V’Ahavta, L’Rei’echa, Kamocha; caring for the needs of our fellow Jews in other sectors, be they observant or secular? And do some of our communal leaders consciously, or sub-consciously still have a mindset dating back to guile of the ghetto, of the shtetl, of the hundreds of years which pre-dated modern-day Israeli nationhood — times when anything was justified to save a Jewish life? It would seem that Rav Shmuelevitz’s characterization of how an individual, a sector, or the entire Jewish nation views themselves rings true today, just as it did in Mitzrayim and throughout Jewish history:

“Only when they [the Jews] considered themselves in a lowly manner could they be subjugated by others.”

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of two and a half years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of any piece 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 Vayechi 5777: Yaakov/Yisrael; Progenitor of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, January 7th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Vayechi is being co-sponsored by R’ Rafael and Vivianne Willig and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh in honor of the upcoming Bar Mitzvah of R’ Rafael’s nephew, Menachem Willig of Passaic, New Jersey, and by Matt and Ilana Bornstein and family to commemorate Matt’s Bar Mitzvah parsha and in honor of the Chicago Cubs’ first World Series Championship since 1908. To the Willig and Bornstein families, many thanks for your sponsorships and your continued kindnesses.

Friends, you can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring 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 Vayechi 5777: Yaakov/Yisrael; Progenitor of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael

by Moshe Burt

The title to this Parshat HaShevua contains a word: progenitor, whose definition may not readily known by many. Dictionary.com defines progenitor as follows:

noun
1. a biologically related ancestor: a progenitor of the species.

2. a person or thing that first indicates a direction, originates something, or serves as a model; predecessor; precursor: the progenitor of modern painting.

In approaching our Parshat, we note a phenomenon unique in Torah; the “Closed Parshat” where the beginning of Parshat Vayechi is separated from the conclusion of Parshat Vayigash by a mere single space, rather than by a number of blank spaces as separate the other parshiyot from each other.

The concluding posuk of Parshat Vayigash reads:

“Thus Yisrael settled in the land of Mitzrayim, in the land of Goshen; they took holdings in it and they were fruitful and multiplied greatly.” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 47, posuk 27 — Parshat Vayigash)

A single space later, Parshat Vayechi commences:

“Yaakov lived in the land of Mitzrayim seventeen years; and the days of Yaakov — the years of his life — were one hundred and forty-seven years. The time approached for Yisrael to die…” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 47, posukim 28-29 — Parshat Vayechi)

Notes in The Sapirstein Edition: “The Torah with Rashi’s Commentary” explain (page 522, notes 1-2 on Sefer Breish’t, Perek 47, posuk 28):

The text in the Torah is divided into paragraph-like passages , which are separated from each other by a number of blank spaces. According to the Mesorah (tradition of the Oral Law), the words “Vayechi Ya’akov” mark the beginning of a new passage. Yet in this case, there is a space of only a single letter separating “Vayechi” from the word which precedes it. Rashi, based on the Midrash, asks why this passage is “closed” in this sense. (Mizrachi; Sifsei Chachamim)

Breaks between passages are intended to provide a pause for contemplation (Rashi to Sefer Vayikra, perek 1, posuk 1). The absence of a break indicates that with the death of Ya’akov, “the eyes and heart of Israel were closed” — the change in their relationship with the Egyptians came so suddenly that they did not have the opportunity to pause and contemplate their situation. (Be’er BaSadeh)

Although Rashi to Sh’mot Perek 6, posuk 16 says that the enslavement did not begin until the last of the sons of Ya’akov had died, that refers to the enforced enslavement. With the death of Ya’akov, the Egyptians began to cajole the Jews into hard labor. (Mizrachi; Sifsei Chachamim)

Rashi offers an alternative explanation of the lack of the normal break between the two parshiyot in his commentary on our parshat’s opening posuk (The Sapirstein Edition: “The Torah with Rashi’s Commentary”, page 522, Sefer Breish’t, Perek 47, posuk 28):

The passage is “closed” because [Ya'akov] wished to reveal the end to his sons, but it was closed off to him. (Breish’t Rabbah)

Note 3 on Rashi’s commentary (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 47, posuk 28) defines “end”:

The ultimate end of all of the exiles of the Jewish people. (Gur Aryeh)

But there seems a question to be asked on these first two posukim of our Parshat Vayechi which seems to point to this author’s use of the term “progenitor.” Why, after explaining that “Yaakov lived in the land of Mitzrayim seventeen years; and the days of Yaakov — the years of his life — were one hundred and forty-seven years” does Torah relate to Yaakov as “Yisrael”: the name given Yaakov by the moloch who fought him, in the context of the next posuk: “The time approached for Yisrael to die…”?

The sefer “Torah Gems”, by Aharon Yaakov Greenberg (page 337) cites Ta’anit 5 in providing a possible explanation alluding to “Yisrael”:

Our Sages stated: Our father Ya’akov never died. It appears that the answer to this seeming contradiction is that Yaakov did not die, because he left descendants after him who were like him, with Yosef like his father. Yosef, though, only attained the level of “Yaakov,” and not the level of “Yisrael.” Thus we are told, “The time approached for Yisrael to die…” — only Yisrael — not Yaakov — died.

A commentary in the Artscroll Stone Chumash regarding Parshat Vayishlach where the moloch renamed Yaakov as Yisrael (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 32, posuk 29 and commentary):

“…No longer will it be said that your name is Yaakov, but Yisrael, for you have striven with the Divine and with man and have overcome.”

…Yaakov would receive the additional name Yisrael… prevailing, superiority…. that he received the blessings because he prevailed in an open competition to demonstrate which… was more deserving (Rashi). [More deserving than whom? This author is not sure if Rashi meant: More deserving than the moloch or Eisev.]

Commentary in the Artscroll Stone Chumash seems to provide another explanation (pages 268-269):

…Yaakov sent for Yosef — the only one of his sons who held power — and asked Yosef to swear that he would bring him to Eretz Yisrael for burial in the Cave of the Machpela, in Hevron.

The commentary then provides explanation of Yaakov reasons for insistence on burial in Eretz Yisrael: that one day, a plague of lice would strike Mitzrayim and would swarm beneath his body if he were buried there, that he knew that those buried outside of Eretz Yisrael would not come to life at T’chiyat HaMeitim (Resurrection) until they rolled through the earth to Eretz Yisrael and that Yaakov did not want the Mitzrayim to worship him as a “deity”, a source of idol worship.

But the commentary also explains that Yaakov/Yisrael wanted to establish a principle for his offspring — ultimately the Am Yisrael, that Eretz Yisrael was their heritage. No matter how successful or comfortable they became while dispersed and sojourning in any other land, in any other nation, their one and only true home and heritage is in Eretz Yisrael.

Yaakov’s requirement of burial only in Eretz Yisrael provides a crucial lesson for our time, for our brethren sojourning, yet believing themselves to be living, in venues outside of Eretz Yisrael.

This author concludes that Torah seems to indicate, by the posuk: “The time approached for Yisrael to die…”, that Yaakov, with his new Divinely-given name: Yisrael, indicating prevailing, superiority, is the first of a species. With the passing of Yisrael comes the birth of a superior nation who ultimately prevails, despite all travails, for all time.

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

Good Shabbos!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Vayigash 5777: Have We Learned and Internalized National Unity From the Brothers, From the Gush Katif Expulsion?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, December 31st, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Vayigash is being sponsored by Dr. Pinchas and Penina Klahr and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh lilui nishmas Pinchas’ father Nosson Karpel ben Shmuel Zanvil Tzvi and P’nina’s father Matisyahu ben Yaakov. To the Klahr family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

Friends, you can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring 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 Vayigash 5777: Have We Learned and Internalized National Unity From the Brothers, From the Gush Katif Expulsion?

by Moshe Burt

Over the past 11 1/2 years since the expulsion of our brethren from their homes and neighborhoods in Gush Katif and the 4 Shomron towns, we’ve read occasional reports on Israel’s online news sites of our brethren receiving calls or emails voicing regret from some who either previously supported the expulsion or who sat on their hands and did nothing, and who now would express contrition and beg forgiveness from their evicted brethren in the hope of either clearing their personal consciences, or sincerely seeking peace within Am Yisrael. But with all of the constant repetition of “land for peace” [read 'piece' as in the old Kissinger "salami slicer"] or “2 states for 2 peoples” by a generation of bankrupt governing politicians, media and intelligencia, how do we ascertain true intent, true contrition in these expressions of regret?

How do we bring about a state of true and permanent national unity amongst Klal Yisrael such as to bring Torah-based change in the national political/governmental psyche?

What exactly constitutes true intent, true contrition in Teshuva and true and permanent national unity?

Sefer Shem Mishmuel Sefer Shem Mishmuel, by Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, the Sochaczever Rebbe, as rendered to English by Rabbi Zev Belovski discusses what comprises the above attributes and defines unity (pages 49-51):

The Torah here describes Klal Yisrael as a united entity — a perfect and complete national body…. Together, working in harmony, Yisrael is a world unto itself, pulsating with the vibrancy of unity… If there were some interference or attempt at adding to the heavenly array, a disaster of cosmic proportions would ensue…. If any addition or subtraction were to befall Klal Yisrael, then its very purpose would be frustrated.

Klal Yisrael comprises many different people, each with their own distinct personality. How, then, is this prized unity to be achieved and maintained? Each member of the nation must subjugate his own needs and desires to those of Hashem. In this way alone can true unity be achieved, enabling the Klal to function as one organism with a single
overall purpose.

“The Midrash Says”, by Rabbi Moshe Weissman notes on Sefer Breish’t, Parshat Vayeishev (page 354):

Reuven left the company. He never partook in meals since he was constantly fasting and praying for having committed the sin of disarranging his father’s couch.

With Reuven out of the picture, Yehudah urges the other brothers present to sell Yosef, to make some money on the situation, dab blood on his tunic and carry the tunic home to Yaakov who then believes that a wild beast ate or ripped apart Yosef. Reuven returns later to the pit and is grief-stricken having found the pit empty. When the sons see the inconsolable grief in their father Yaakov, they rebuke Yehudah and cast him out from the family — thus the story of Tamar. But it seems unfathomable that none of the brothers could have anticipated in advance their father’s inconsolable grief-stricken reaction to what he understood at the time to be the death of his most beloved son. Were they sooo blinded by their jealousy and hatred of Yosef and sooo irresponsible that they cared not about the consequences of their actions until after the fact? Maybe they just didn’t chap that old detective Baretta line — “don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.”

Parsha Mikeitz begins the recording of the whole affair between Yosef and the brothers when they came to Mitzrayim to buy food and were accused by the Viceroy of being spies. We learned how after hearing their story and family history through a translator (actually Yosef’s son Menashe who acted as translator although Yosef understood the brothers completely), Yosef demanded that they bring their youngest brother to him and incarcerated Shimon as insurance that the brothers would indeed return with Binyamin, their youngest brother.

We learn that in the middle of Parsha Mikeitz, with the imprisonment of Shimon, the brothers recognized and attributed their predicament to the sin they had committed earlier by throwing Yosef into the pit and then selling him to the Mitzriyim. Yosef heard and understood their conversation and left their presence to cry silently. (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 42, posukim 21-24)

Then, we learn how when Binyamin was finally brought to Yosef, the brothers were provided with food, but then it was made to appear as if Binyamin had stolen the Viceroy’s silver goblet. The Viceroy detained Binyamin under charges that he had stolen the goblet and released the other brothers to return to their father.

Our Parsha Vayigash begins with Yehuda speaking his appeal to the Viceroy on behalf of his father Yaakov regarding Binyamin’s imprisonment.

Rav Zelig Pliskin (Growth Through Torah, page 119) renders Yehudah’s plea to the Viceroy (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 44, posuk 18):

“And Yehudah approached [unknowing that the Viceroy was actually his brother Yosef] and he said, Please My Master, allow your servant to speak in the ears of My Master and do not become angry at your servant for you are like Pharaoh.”

Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, z”l, in the “New Hirsch Chumash” on our Parshat comments on Sefer Breish’t, Perek 44, posuk 18 (pages 810-811):

Yehudah says to Yosef: “I will not appeal to your emotions but to your intellect, your reasoned judgement.”

Yehudah says to Yosef: I hope that what I have to say will not antagonize you for you are like Pharaoh. If I say something that does not please you, do not think that I said it out of disrespect. What I say to you I would say to Pharaoh.

“Chumash Mesorot HaRav”, The Chumash with Commentary Based on the Teachings of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik z”l quotes from our Parshat Vayigash (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 44, posukim 18 – 19):

“Yehudah approached him [the Viceroy]…. My lord asked his servants, saying, ‘Have you a father or a brother?’”

In his Chumash commentary, Rav Soloveitchik cites a cheder Rebbe from his youth indicating that the purpose of the Viceroy’s [Yosef's] question was:

“…Whether his brothers were still attached to their roots and origins? Are you… rooted in your father?… Do you see your father as the foundation of your existence?… Or are you just like rootless shepherds wandering from place to place, … who forgot their origin?”

R’ Pliskin continues by citing his Rebbe, the late Rosh HaYeshiva of Brisk in Yerushalayim who explained Yehudah’s speech to the Viceroy in two ways (Growth Through Torah, page 119-120):

Even though Yehudah thought… [the Viceroy] did not understand the language he was speaking, he wanted him to hear the depth of feeling behind his words. Even if one does not speak the language, sincerity will come through.

“Words that come from a person’s heart enter the heart of the listener.”

The second idea…, was that when you try to influence someone, it is imperative that he [or she] be open to what you have to say. If a person is close-minded and has made up… [their] mind not to pay attention to you, nothing you will say will influence… [them]. Therefore, Yehudah asked… [the Viceroy] to at least give him a fair hearing. “Keep your
ears open to the possibility that what I will say has merit.”

Upon hearing Yehudah’s plea regarding the special love affection which Yaakov had for Binyamin, Yosef could no longer restrain himself and revealed himself as he cried out so loudly that he was heard by Pharaoh.

Yehudah, not knowing who he was really talking to, and fathoming all of the power of Pharaoh was behind the Viceroy’s edicts and actions, he had to measure his words just right, just so.

But in today’s world where communications between people are all-to-often reduced to written text and even single-letter words — twitter-style over any number of different chat platforms via computer, cellphone, i-phone, i-pad, etc., not as in the not-too-distant past where communications took place face-to-face and mouth-to-mouth, or by telephone, any textual word or phrase can be strung or understood all out of proportion to how either writer meant them. One person’s joke or light-hearted comment can be misinterpreted by the other person as judgementalness, rebuke, repudiation or worse.

Yosef’s emotions were aroused to the point of tears and crying out by Yehudah’s sincerity and because the brothers had shown, by their rising to the defense of Binyamin, that they had genuinely recognized their aveirah, had done teshuvah, showed true, sincere and serious contrition for what they done to Yosef and were unified in their concern for Binyamin’s welfare. Yosef embraced his brothers and comforted them and “told them not to be sad that they had sold him, for Hashem had actually sent him here to keep them alive during the years of famine.” (L’lMod Ulamed, Parshat Vayigash, page 57).

This unity displayed by the brothers was crucial for the future travails of enslavement in Mitzrayim as the Jewish nation was forged.

But, in our time, the type of unity, sincerity, heartfelt love of one’s brother expressed by Yehudah, and the other brothers, for their brother Benyamin with hearts filled with sincere and serious contrition for their previous sin seems lacking amongst B’nai Yisrael.

At this writing, with a second expulsion mandated by Israel’s “supreme court” set to take place in Amona — of some forty Jewish family, some 200 souls, we watch with baited breath to see the true meaning of these expressions begging forgiveness which we have heard about over the years. Remembering the expulsion of our Gush Katif brethren and the first expulsion from Amona in 2005, Israel National News queries: Will soldiers refuse to carry out Amona evacuation?

What will the true intent of the current government turn out to be regarding Amona and, indeed, the entirety of Yehudah, the Shomron and the entirety of OUR Eretz Yisrael, especially in light of prime minister Netanyahu’s recent comments regarding “two states” on “60 Minutes”?

The modern-day hellenists continue their unmasked destructo drive toward self- defeating, self-deprecating “land for peace (sic)”, toward the absurd, bogus concept of “2 states for 2 peoples” as expressed by prime minister Netanyahu on “60 Minutes”. Their true goal seems nothing less than the indoctrination of the hearts and minds of Israelis aimed at the mass-eradication of all vestiges and expressions of Jewishness. They seem not to learn from their previous myriad, voluminous errors which have repeatedly placed their brethren in jeopardy. And the vast majority of those who should know better seem unprepared and too self-absorbed to put their individual lives on hold and collectively act with unity, as one in a concerted effort to do everything necessary to confront the evil nature of medinat Yisrael’s current national governance and “justice (sic) system.” Seems as if they all still soothe their consciences with a two-hour rally, rather than taking cohesive, organized, consistent, mass daily actions aimed at saving Eretz Yisrael.

Could it be that many of the same types who profess to express contrition in requesting the forgiveness of their Gush Katif brethren would replicate the same deed by standing by as a second Amona expulsion and destruction would take place by edict of Israel’s “justice (sic) system?”

We seem not to have learned the brother’s lesson yet.

But, in a sense, the political modern-day protexia-class hellenists have learned more than we have — they know our weaknesses intimately and they know how to divide and conquer us by virtue of our own machlokesim (internal disputes/disagreements). Each sector seems set against the other with little if any effort by any of the sectors to sit together and sincerely thrash out the unity and consensus which is crucial to overcome a Hellenistic regime and to ultimately restore Torah Halachic justice as law of the land.

Are we, in our time, chayev to be asked, as R’ Soloveitchik’s cheder Rebbe asked: are we “still attached to our roots and origins? Or have we forgotten our roots?”

Torah’s account of the actions and teshuvah of Yehudah and the other brothers on behalf of their brother Binyamin serves as a paradigm for the genuine, heartfelt contrition — the kind of contrition and teshuvah soo vitally necessary amongst the sectors of the religious, the kind of action-backed contrition which needs to be expressed, in a sincere, organized, consistent, unified way in order that those who beg forgiveness from the former residents of Gush Katif be accepted as genuine rather than symbolic — symbolism over substance.” And when we do our hishtadlut — action-backed contrition, Hashem will surely be with us, for as that saying goes, “Hashem helps those who help themselves.”

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

Good Shabbos!
——————————————————
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Mikeitz/Shabbos Chanukah 5777: The Perils of Assimilation in Chutz L’Aretz vs Aliya

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, December 24th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Mikeitz is being sponsored by Moshe and Lauren Pitzele and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh in honor of their son Yosef Shalom’s fourth birthday To the Pitzele family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

Friends, you can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring 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 Mikeitz/Shabbos Chanukah 5777: The Perils of Assimilation in Chutz L’Aretz vs Aliyah

By, Moshe Burt

Parshat Mikeitz seems to always fall out on Shabbos Chanukah and so, this author will once again open, as with previous vorts on our parsha, harken back to a vort said over quite a few years ago at a Shabbos Chanukah Oneg about Yosef in Mitzrayim (Egypt) based on Jay Shapiro’s book of fictional short stories entitled “Almost Midrash.” This story is of a fictitious second to Yosef in a tale from Shapiro’s book entitled “Duaf of Memphis”.

As Shapiro’s yarn goes, Duaf, a former Barber, relating his memoirs about his service and his time with Yosef to an Egyptian scribe. The sometimes humorous fiction depicted how Duaf was drafted and fought bravely in Pharaoh’s army during a war in which Pharoah and his remaining forces rallied to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Duaf’s role in rallying Pharaoh’s forces earned him a meteoric rise through the ranks of Pharaoh’s army, as well number of important missions on behalf of Pharaoh, culminating in his being appointed as the Viceroy’s right-hand man. In one humorous sideline of the tale, during one of Duaf’s missions, he came to become acquainted with the Habiru people in Cana’an.

The vort contrasted Yosef’s talent for interpretation of dreams and his ingenuity as Viceroy, second only to Pharoah, in saving Egypt from famine, with the dialogue of Page 13 A & B of Gemora Megillah Esther (the dialogue between Achashveirosh and Haman resulting in the evil decree against the Jews). The point of the Torah Vort was that just as with their longevity in Shushan and throughout Achashveirosh’s Empire, their longevity and assimilation into Mitzri society, after the deaths of Yosef and the brothers, brought the Jews disdain and disparagement by the Mitzriyim as either being useless or too powerful, such as to ally with Egypt’s enemies. In both cases, the antagonists conveniently forgot about Yosef, in direct contrast to the fictional Duaf as he concludes his recitation to the scribe, recounting that “Yosef saved Mitzrayim and will go down in the annals of history.” But we see how quickly Pharaoh and the Mitzriyim subsequently forgot Yosef, despite his ingenuity in saving the Egyptian people from massive famine and starvation, amidst what appeared as a massive integration and assimilation of the descendants of Yosef and the brothers into Egyptian society.

What a stunner! Big-time transitional meetings goin’ on in Pharaoh’s Palace. No Trump hotels here! This guy Yosef who interprets dreams soo impresses Pharaoh with seeing from his (Pharaoh’s) dreams the onset of drought and famine that he’s made Viceroy, second only to Pharaoh in ruling over Egypt.

Here’s this Jewish guy Yosef who makes all the right moves insuring that there is no starvation in Egypt during the famine, and yet, rather than “go down in the annals” as having saved Mitzrayim, there seems to be no record in all recorded history, other than in our Torah, of Yosef or this period in Egypt. If there were “annals of history” and if Yosef was in fact recorded, such records surely must have been later expunged.

In retrospect, we learn that the resultant slavery and persecution in Egypt welded and melded a nation — the Am Yisrael. However, the lesson of Egyptian enslavement and persecution and the perils of subsequent assimilations and meltings of Jews into alien societies, into the societies of the nations has sadly been unlearned. The error has been repeated again and again throughout history in different ways whenever Jews got comfortable, complacent in where they were at the time, notably in contemporary America, and forgot who and what they are in putting their personal needs, interests, fears and self-loathing above the welfare of Am Yisrael.

Just such an example of the sad lesson unlearned to this day when Aliyah is the easiest since the inception of the Galut, is the mistaken mindset of the Jews of Mainz and Worms, responding to the Jews in Jerusalem upon the building of the Beit HaMikdash Sheini, as recounted in Rabbi A. Leib Scheinbaum’s “The World That Was Ashkenaz” (page 13):

“You stay where you are in the great Jerusalem and we will continue to stay in our little Jerusalem.”

This mindset has its contemporary naive sequels to Yerushalayim Ir HaKodesh which we’ve all heard more than once: Lakewood Ir Hakodesh, Monsey Ir HaKodesh, Borough Park or Flatbush Ir HaKodesh. Within American Jewry, in the generation of rampant intermarriage which has sapped our numbers, there is also rampant marginalization of Jews toward their Judaism, and thus, toward Israel.

So, can Jews still be safe, secure and fully actuate themselves as Jews in the increasingly dangerous and alien venues of Chutz L’Aretz? Have Jews forgotten the lessons of the Nazi-enacted Nurenberg Laws, the direct result of German Jewry’s assimilation and intermarriage?

We thus see that a divide has evolved amongst American Jews which has crystalized to an extreme extent during the recent presidential campaign and its aftermath with most observant Jews apparently voting one way, while secular Jews, with their now-agendized instinctive, impulse over intellect and common-sense, apparently voting the other way. The latter, who have either lost, or have disassociated themselves from their Judaism, have digested falsity as fact over truths regarding the respective harm to the nation of one or either of the candidates and who assert that so-called “human-rights,” migration and immigration of any, and all peoples — excuse the expression; “trumps” national security and their own personal security as Jews, albeit secular.

In forgetting and assimilating into the greater “melting pot” of the society where they reside, many Jews in Chutz L’Aretz have lost their unique Jewish identification. In our time, Chanukah for many Jews evolves into “spin the dreidel”, cutsie, yet shallow assemblies in Conservative Synagogues, to make it seem like they are doing something for Jewish youth, if even that, yet totally miss the meaning and message of what Chanukah is really all about — the victory of Torah, spirituality, humility and wisdom over Greek contamination.

The parallel here with Yosef and the so-called “annals of history”, not only for Jews throughout the world, but particularly for Israelis, both secular and observant, is in how quickly alliances, treaties, agreements or commitments pertaining to Israel and the Jewish people, which either are signed by Arabs, or for that matter, by the nations, including the Superpower, are forgotten or fall by the wayside in the name of expediency, political alignments or realignments, regional, international and economic pressures. We see that agreements, third-party guarantees, either by the US, the EU, the UN and its UNFIL are worthless and worse — totally detrimental to Jewish security and wellbeing.

But it is not just the demented and corrupted politics, “diplomacy (sic)” and morals of the nations, it is the self-loathing emulation of them, particularly of the U.S., by Israel’s governance, including their dual standards of morality — one morality for them — the secular politica, media, intelligencia, universities, and another, stricter standard for Israel (read as the Jews), in her empty, desperate but futile lust for the love and understanding of the nations.

It’s about the government of Israel’s continuous quivering over accusations by the nations of “disproportional” military or police actions in repelling murderous Islamics in the various and most recent outbreaks of ongoing Islamic war to destroy and eradicate the Jews. It’s about Israel’s “Supreme Court” ordering and sanctioning the possible destruction by the Israeli police of a Jewish town: Amona — for the second time and a Beit Knesset on a site, both falsely claimed to be owned by Arabs, in what can only be seen and understood as an attack upon all observant Jews and a huge Chillul Hashem. It’s about the IDF chief of staff ordering co-ed tanks and tank units in attempt to coerce observant soldiers in tank units, etc. It’s about possible legislation in Knesset which, if passed into law, would take children’s chinuch, i.e. right “to physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development and to develop their talents and personal abilities” out of the hands of parents and put such into the hands of governmental authorities, i.e. social workers, or “third party[ies] such as a psychologist or mediator…” — the so-called “professionals.” And it’s about much more, all in a ongoing struggle by the secular vs the Torah-observant for the hearts and minds of Jewish Israel.

There are among us, the modern-day Hellenists who spin each betrayal as other than, and who keep coming back for more changeable third-party guarantees or assurances rather than to “bite the bullet” and admit that they’ve “put good money after bad” by repeatedly putting the security and well-being of the Jews at perilous risk due to “Oslo.” In fact, these Hellenists keep spinning and keep brainwashing the masses, even by attempting to pass laws against outreach and Teshuvah, or by attempting to legalize halachically prohibited (gay) marriages, out of disdain and blind hatred of their Jewishness and anything Jewish.

From the precedent of forgetting Yosef, and its comparable events throughout Jewish history, the conclusion, the lesson to be drawn, particularly in these times when we are again in the Land of Israel, is that Jews must look only to themselves, and most importantly, Hashem, to guarantee their own security and wellbeing. We must understand and internalize the adage for the chapter from the book “The Revolt” by Menachem Begin z’l entitled “We Fight, Therefore We Are” — that ONLY Jews, with the Help of HaKadosh Borchu, are capable of protecting and defending Jews and insuring their security. And a substantial part of that “fight” is done with the mind, heart, hands and feet when Jews, young people, young couples with young children, as well as the more established and the retired pick up, transition from their parnossa, their homes, neighborhoods and their children’s schools in Chutz L’Aretz, pack, get on that plane and resettle themselves in Eretz Yisrael.

And so, may our brethren from Gush Katif and the Shomron, together with all intellectually honest and enlightened Jews, including new olim, rise up to do battle for the Jewish mind and soul, just as the Maccabees did in doing battle against the Greeks.

May it be in this year and in all future years, that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif – the vast majority still seeking their permanent places, our brethren in the South — S’derot and the other towns bordering Gaza, and those in the North who still live under threat of Katushyas and Hezbollah, as well as our dear brethren, Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, be central in our thoughts, prayers, chassadim and actions.

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

Chodesh Tov, Good Shabbos and Chanukah Same’ach!
———————————————————
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Chanukah 5777: Contrasting Chanukah and Purim, Spiritual and Physical — Then and Now

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, December 24th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Chanukah vort is being sponsored by Avraham and Miriam Deutsch and family of Efrat lilui nishmas for the yarhtzeit of Avraham’s Mother Sarah Reitza bat Tzion bat Avram Yaakov and to wish Kol Am Yisrael Chanukah Same’ach! To the Deutsch family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

Chanukah 5777: Contrasting Chanukah and Purim, Spiritual and Physical — Then and Now

by Moshe Burt

Shem Mishmuel (Sefer Shem Mishmuel, Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski, page 78) provides this description of the Greeks in the historical context of the miracles of Chanukah:

The Greeks were known for their outstanding wisdom; their philosophers and their ideas have been tremendously influential. Thus, when they oppressed Yisrael, they were even able to reach the wisdom of Torah and enslave it to their own ends.

The Manchester Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Yehuda Zev Segal, Sh’lita, z”l brings further commentary regarding the contrast between Chanukah and Purim in his sefer, “Inspiration and Insight,” Discourses on the Holidays (pages 104-105):

Tur (Hilchos Chanukah, ch. 670) citing Maharam of Rothenburg, states: “The customary indulging in feasts on Chanukah is not obligatory, for they [Chazal] established these as a time of praise and thanksgiving and not feasting and joy.”

In commenting on the above, Bach differentiates between Chanukah and Purim, when there is a specific obligation of feasting and joy. The miracle of Purim centered around the decree to annihilate the entire Jewish nation. Hashem brought about the issuance of this decree as a punishment for the Jews having indulged in the feast of King Achashveirosh. In celebration of the miracle which granted them new life, the Jewish people celebrate each year with a seudat mitzvah. The miracle of Chanukah, however, centered around the decrees of King Antiochus against Jewish observance.

The Greeks wanted the Jewish people to forsake their Torah way of life in favor of their [the Greek] own culture which glorified the physical and extolled indulgence in temporal pleasures. The Greeks were quite content to allow the Jews to remain alive — as long as they abandon those mitzvot which are at the core of Jewish belief. This decree, writes Bach, (based on a Baraisa) was, in fact, a Divine retribution for the Jews having become lax in their mitzvah observance. The mesiras nefesh, self- sacrifice of the Chashmonaim to preserve Torah life and restore the service to the Beit Hamikdash brought about the great miracle of their victory over the Greeks and the discovery of the flask of oil which miraculously burned for eight days. Thus, Chanukah is a celebration of the spirit, a yom tov which commemorates a victory of the spirit led by warriors of the spirit, the Chashmonaim.

Bach concludes, “Thus was the festival established to offer Hallel and Hoda’ah, a service of the heart.”

But we see today, the seeming emulation of the Greeks in the perennial battle for the Jewish soul taking place both in Chutz L’Aretz and in Eretz Yisrael. We observe the Bibi/Bennett shenanigans re: “The Regulation Law” which now would supposedly legalize the towns and hilltops of Yehuda and Shomron, but NOT the town of Amona

We also watch as Israel’s military appears to intensify its efforts against religious soldiers, including initiation of co-ed tank corps, etc., as the government continues to try to impose their way upon religious young men to force them to serve in a military which seems to be gradually evolving — devoid or losing all vestiges anything resembling Jewish spirituality. How very much forces among the powers-to-be in the IDF, with the seemingly willing complicity of Likud, and the so-called “Jewish Home”, along with Lapid and his “Yesh Atid” seem to ever be emulating the historical Greeks; “quite content to allow the Jews to remain alive — as long as they abandon those mitzvot which are at the core of Jewish belief.”

This author wonders and ponders how it is possible for this prime minister, his governing coalition, and all of Israel’s flim-flam politicians, media and so-called “enlightened college professors,” as well as this IDF Chief of Staff to truly understand the message and lessons of Chanukah.

It seems obvious that we are past due a time of governmental, institutional change bringing back real Jewish leadership and spirituality to the fore of Israel’s governance and governing institutions. It may or may not be religiously “correct” to use this particular connotation with regard to current Israeli governance, but here goes, in the now immortal words of a certain president-elect: “It’s time to drain the swamp.”

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of two and a half years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of any piece 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!!!

Chanukah Same’ach and Chodesh Tov!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Vayeishev 5777: The National Danger from Envy, Anger, Hatred, and Agendization

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, December 17th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Vayeishev is being sponsored by Edo and Atara Lavi and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for a complete Refuah Shleima for Yishaya Shalom ben Malka (Blass). To the Lavi family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

Please 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 Vayeishev 5777: The National Danger from Envy, Anger, Hatred, and Agendization

by Moshe Burt

Our parsha relates how Yosef, born to Rachel, was Yaakov’s favored son — his “Ben Z’kunim” (son of old age) to whom he bestowed a multi-colored coat which sources indicate could have been the coat of Eisev which was worn by Yaakov in receiving the B’rachot from Yitzchak. Yosef’s favored son status aroused jealousy amongst his brothers.

Yosef’s tale-bearing about his brothers, as well as his dream-telling aroused anger and hatred of him in the brothers.

Torah expresses this jealousy, anger and hatred of the brothers for Yosef early in our Parsha:

“His brothers saw that it was he whom their father loved most of all his brothers so they hated him [Yosef]; and they were not able to speak to him peaceably.” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 37, posuk 4)

They saw Yosef’s tale-telling — often without knowing all of the facts and his pronouncement of his dreams, as fostering their perception that he sought to rule over them, that he sought their subservience to him. His brothers also envied their Father’s preference for him. They viewed Yosef in the light of the family history — their great grandfather’s Avraham’s reluctance to separate from his other son Yishmael and their grandfather Yitzchak’s apparent favoritism for his son Eisev, that “master of kibud Av,” who nonetheless was wicked and not connected with Shemayim.

“The Midrash Says”, by Rabbi Moshe Weissman on Sefer Breish’t explains (page 350):

It seemed to them (the brothers) that Yosef by his conduct was attempting to win the position of Yaakov’s only successor. Hence they considered all thoughts and plans against him a mitzvah. They were unaware that they were actually distorting the truth as a result of their envy.

“Torah Gems”, by Aharon Yaakov Greenberg cites Tiferet Yehonatan (page 274-275) on Sefer Breish’t, Perek 37, posuk 4, above:

They hated him [Yosef]; and they were not able to speak to him peaceably.” …Had they sat down together, they would have spoken to one another and told… what bothered them. Then they would have ironed out their differences. The trouble… is that there is no common language and no one listening.

Yosef’s brothers, while acting inappropriately out of anger, jealousy and hatred, perceived Yosef as a threat to the future nation that was to grow from them as the offspring of Yaakov.

Torah then relates:

“When Yosef came searching out his brothers in the fields, the brothers saw him “from afar… and they conspired toward him to kill him.” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 37, posuk 18)

In short, Yosef and the brothers stood on two polarizing sides, totally lacking in any sort of dialogue with each other.

How very much this description: “no common language and no one listening” between Yosef and his brothers resembles the evolution of the hate and polarization which marks the post-election 2016 atmosphere existing amongst the populous sectors as well as the political elites and print and electronic media in United States, as well as the polarization amongst various sectors, political elites, media and intelligencia here in Israel. We see all of the agendization being played out daily in the US and in Israel where the lack of “common language” and dialogue between Yosef and his brothers should provide lessons for us all here in Israel regarding civility and putting the welfare of Am Yisrael first and nullifying egos and narrow agenda.

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

Good Shabbos!
———————————————————
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Vayishlach 5777: Yaakov’s Fear of Eisev and Not Taking for Granted One’s “Merit”, or the Word of Man

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, December 10th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Vayishlach is being sponsored by Tzvi and Shari Gherman and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh in honor of Vayishlach being Tzvi’s Bar Mitzvah Parsha. To the Gherman family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

Please 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 Vayishlach 5777: Yaakov’s Fear of Eisev and Not Taking for Granted One’s “Merit”, or the Word of Man

by Moshe Burt

There seem to be great and timely lessons for NOW, regarding Israel’s populus and governing mindsets in the aftermath of the United States presidential election, in Torah’s teachings regarding the lead-in to the confrontation/reunion between Yaakov and Eisev.

We learn that Yaakov employed a three-pronged strategy in preparing for his encounter with Eisev:

  • 1/ Tefillot.
  • 2/ Sending a gift from his flocks in effort to appease Eisev.
  • 3/ Preparing for possible warfare, i.e. Yaakov dividing his camp into two camps, etc.
  • (In part, cited from “The Midrash Says”, by Rabbi Moshe Weissman, page 310)

Several posukim at, and near the beginning of our Parshat Vayishlach say:

“…Yaakov sent Melachim [angels] before him to Eisev his brother… He charged them, saying, Thus you shall say, To my lord, to Eisev, ‘So said your servant Yaakov… I am sending to tell my lord to find favor in your eyes.’” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 32, posukim 4-6)

“The Melachim returned to Yaakov saying, ‘We came to your brother Eisev; moreover, he is heading toward you, and 400 men are with him.’” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 32, posuk 7)

“Yaakov became very frightened, and it distressed him. So he divided the people with him… into two camps. For he said, ‘If Eisev comes to the one camp and strikes it down, then the remaining camp will survive.’ Then Yaakov said, ‘G’d of my father Avraham and… of my father Yitzchak; Hashem Who said to me, Return to your land and to your relatives and I will do good with you — ‘I have been diminished by all of the kindnesses and by all the truth that You have done for your servant… Rescue me from the hand of my brother, …Eisev, for I fear lest he come and strike me down, mother and children.’ And You had said, ‘I will surely do good with you and I will make your offspring like the sand of the sea which is too numerous to count.’” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 32, posukim 8-13)

The Artscroll Stone Chumash offers this commentary on the root of Yaakov’s fear:

On the surface it would seem that Yaakov’s fear of Eisev betrayed a lack of faith in Hashem’s promise of protection when he went to Charan, a promise that Hashem reiterated when He commanded Yaakov to return to Eretz Yisrael. Rashi (v.11) however, explains that the righteous are never sure of themselves, and that is why Yaakov was afraid that he might have sinned in the interim and thereby forfeited his right to Hashem’s shield from harm…. According to the opinion of the Sages cited by Rashi, Yaakov did not know of any specific sins, but was sure that there might have been some.

He [Yaakov] might have felt that he was at fault for sealing a covenant with Lavan, or it may have been his failure to honor his parents for twenty years that troubled him. The Zohar comments that Hashem instilled this fear in Yaakov so that he would be forced to pray, for Hashem craves the prayers of the righteous. (The Artscroll Stone Chumash, page 171)

This author has omitted discussion of the gifts to Eisev as they don’t seem (to this author) to relate to the theme of this vort as stated above.

Many of Am Yisrael, and to some extent — as yet to be definitively ascertained — Israeli governance appear to be viewing a President Trump as more supportive of Israel than any of his predecessors, as reversing the adversarial relations of Obama, as greatly easing or eliminating U.S. pressure on Israel, as a death knell for the so-called “two-state solution”. But here is where the lessons of Yaakov’s preparations for confronting Eisev kick-in.

While it is true that the President-Elect has a daughter who has chosen observant Judaism as a religion and way of life with her Observant husband — both of them appearing to be taking active roles in the new administration, for Israelis to assume, to take for granted, that such an American president and his administration will, at all times have Israel’s back and welfare in mind is sheer fantasy. We cannot look to mortals, to gentile politicians and real estate entrepreneurs for our salvation. As Yaakov did, we, Am Yisrael, can only look to Hashem, through our constant tefillot with kavanah and our actions as Jews in asserting our Divine, inalienable right to possess Eretz Yisrael as our own, and in bringing about a Jewish mindset, culture and governance where Hashem “will do good with us.”

A friend of this author verbalized it this way: “A President Trump and his administration can’t be more Zionist than the people and government of Israel.”

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of over 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!
———————————————————
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 Vayeitzei 5777: Mitzvot as Actions, and a Paradigm of the Lengths Travelled to Perform Them

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, December 3rd, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Vayeitzei is being sponsored by Danny and Amy Michaels and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh Lilui Nishmas Danny’s father’s yartzheit – Reb Avraham Pinchas ben Yoel Meir. To the Michaels family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

Please 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 Vayeitzei 5777: Mitzvot as Actions, and a Paradigm of the Lengths Travelled to Perform Them

by Moshe Burt

We learn near the end of Parshat Toldos, that both Yitzchak and Rivka counselled Ya’akov, in leaving and taking flight from the wrath of Eisev, to travel to Padan Aram, to the house of Rivka’s family — to her Father Betu’el, to her brother Lavan, and there to take a wife — a daughter of Lavan.

Medrash indicates (“The Midrash Says” on Sefer Breish’t, by Rabbi Moshe Weissman, page 273) that Eisev sent his son, Elifaz to kill Ya’akov.

Rabbi A. Henach Leibowitz, in his sefer “Majesty of Man,” explains and cites both Rabbeinu Tam and Rabbeinu Elyakim (Sefer “Majesty of Man,” pages 82-83):

…When Elifaz caught up with him,he couldn’t bring himself to commit murder since he had grown up under the positive influence of his grandfather, Yitzchak. Elifaz asked Yaakov if there was any way he could fulfill his father’s command. Yaakov advised Elifaz to take away all of Yaakov’s money, which in some small way, rendered Yaakov “dead” since he could not support himself or properly help others.

Rabbeinu Tam asked: Why did Elifaz bother to ask Ya’akov.’s advice if a son is exempt from obeying his father… when it violates Torah law? Rabbeinu Elyakim answered that he wanted to find some way to comply with his father’s wishes while still following Torah. (Baalei Tosafos 29:11).

Elifaz’s actions demonstrate a remarkable level of appreciation for the value of a mitzvah…. Such was his love of the mitzvah of honoring his parents.

Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, in the “New Hirsch Chumash”, on the other hand, notes in a commentary on Sefer Breish’t, Perek 27, posuk 42 (page 592-593):

…Ya’akov emerges disadvantaged in every way…. Ya’akov leaves poor and empty-handed, and to establish a family he must hire himself out as a servant.

R’ Leibowitz continues:

Even more astonishing is the towering personality of Yaakov Avinu, who willingly gave away his last penny to enable another person to perform some small facet of a mitzvah, in spite of the fact that the original “mitzvah” entailed his [Yaakov's] murder… This is the same Yaakov who appreciated the value of his G’d-given possessions so greatly that he endangered himself to protect even small jars that he owned, even though he was, by that time, a wealthy man. (Rashi, Breish’t perek 32, posuk 25).

Do we have the same love for every mitzvah? While we may never reach the level of Yaakov, Torah teaches us about him so that we may set our goals to strive in that direction and not be complacent with our performance of mitzvot. Even when the total fulfillment of a mitzvah is beyond us, we are still expected to do our best.

This author therefore reasons, our every action can be a mitzvah, whether or not it is actually expressed in “so many words” within the Big-613. We learn the parameters of tefillot within halacha, and yet many, like the shaliach tzibbor at the kehillah where this author davened during a recent trip to Florida, or the shaliach tzibbor for Mincha at the airport, davened faster than an Arnoldis Chapman or Ken Giles 100-plus mph fastball, including Aleinu, with the Shaliach Tzibbor davening at a decibel level barely audible.

R’ Leibowitz has given us valuable insight into the thought processes and kavanah (intent) of Yaakov Avinu. These insights serve as a powerful paradigm for how we take on every mitzvah, including tefillah as well as the respect that we show for the sources of our tefillot, the siddurim and the level of respect with which they are taken off of their respective book shelves and replaced on those shelves after davening, as well as the respect shown for physical facility of the Beit Hamikdash Ma’at – ALL rooms of one’s shul.

Hopefully, we can all strive to reach high in efforts to approach the paradigms of both Yaakov Avinu and Elifaz.

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 over 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!
———————————————————
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 Toldos 5777: On the Tefillot of Yitzchak and Rivka for Offspring

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, November 26th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Toldos is being sponsored by Dov and Bracha Moses and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh Lilui Nishmas Bracha’s sister Yehudit bat Meir Moshe and refuah shlaima to Rachel bat Chaya Perel and Dov’s father Avraham ben Rifka. To the Moses family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

Please 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 Toldos 5777: On the Tefillot of Yitzchak and Rivka for Offspring

by Moshe Burt

Our Parshat Toldos opens with a brief description of the years and the dwellings of Yishma’el and his descendants and the descendants of Avraham and Yitzchak. Our Parshat then relates:

“Yitzchak was forty years old when he took Rivka, the daughter of Betu’el tha Arami of Padan Aram, the sister of Lavan, the Arami, to be his wife.” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 25, posuk 20).

We also gain insight as to how the atmosphere of wickedness surrounding Rivka’s upbringing later served her well — that she knew how and when to be kind, and when cunning was called for, thus insuring that the righteous child — Yaakov, who learned and was nurtured with the attributes of his Mother, would receive the Brachot that Am Yisrael would descend from him and that the nations would serve his descendants.

There are multiple lessons and discussions to come out of both Torah’s description of Rifka Imeinu in Parshat Chayei Sarah, and in our Parshat Toldos. We gain insight as to how the childhood nurturing of Rivka Imeinu, in an atmosphere of wickedness, positioned and enabled her to rise above her surroundings, and thus to act l’Shem Shemayim to do chessed to Eliezer.

Near the end of Parshat Chayei Sarah, after Torah relates how Avraham’s servant travelled to Padan Aram in search of Yitzchak’s shidduch. Torah recounts Yitzchak’s first encounter with Rivka (as rendered in the “New Hirsch Chumash”, Sefer Breish’t, Perek 24, posukim 63-67):

“Yitzchak went out toward evening to mediate in the field. He looked up and saw camels approaching. Rivka, too, looked up and saw Yitzchak and she let herself slip from the camel..”

“She asked the servant: Who is that man there, who is walking through the field to meet us? The servant replied, He is my master! So she took the veil and covered herself.”

“The servant told Yitzchak all the things that he had accomplished..”

“Yitzchak brought her into the tent of Sarah, his Mother. He married Rivka, she became his wife, and he loved her, and only then was Yitzchak comforted for his Mother.”

Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z”l, in the “New Hirsch Chumash” (page 542), cites Breish’t Rabbah 60:16 and comments:

With Sarah’s death, the feminine spirit and feeling departed from the home. Yitzchak then found his Mother again in his wife (hence, “When he brought Rivka into the tent, to him it was as if his Mother were there again.”) (Breish’t Rabbah 60:16)

This is the highest tribute that has ever been paid to the dignity and nobility of woman — and it is in the ancient history of Judaism.

But this author therefore finds it both fascinating and a wonderment that despite Rivka’s righteousness, we learn in the very next posuk of Parshat Toldos:

“Yitzchak entreated Hashem opposite his wife, because she was barren. Hashem allowed Himself to be entreated by him, and his wife Rivka conceived.” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 25, posuk 21 as rendered in the Artscroll Stone Chumash)

Rabbi Artscroll cites two Rashis and a Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer in commenting on this posuk (Artscroll Stone Chumash,page 125):

Yitzchak entreated. The root Ah-teir [entreated] denotes abundance; thus, the sense… is that Yitzchak prayed abundantly for Rivka and she simultaneously prayed on her own behalf. He was opposite her in the sense that he stood in one corner and she stood in the other one as they both prayed. (Rashi)

Also, Yitzchak took his barren wife to pray with her on Mount [Har] Moriah, site of the Akeidah. (Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer 32)

By him. The implication of the masculine singular form is that Hashem responded to Yitzchak’s prayer, rather than to Rivka’s. There is no comparison between the prayer of a righteous child of a righteous person and that of a righteous child of an evil person. (Rashi)

Although it is much more difficult — and therefore meritorious — for the product of an evil family to become righteous, Yitzchak’s achievement was even more unique than Rivka’s. It would have been easy for him to become a carbon copy of his father… but Yitzchak did not content himself with that. He forged his own path toward the service of Hashem, and the merit of such an accomplishment is awesome.

Rabbi Moshe Weissman provides some insight into Yitzchak’s and Rivka’s efforts in his sefer “The Midrash Says” (Sefer Breish’t, page 235), although not necessarily in agreement with the two Rashis or the above comment:

“When I was traveling around, someone addressed the following question to me, ‘Rabbi, why is it that so many Jewish couples are childless?’ ‘My son,’ I answered him, ‘Hashem loves them dearly and purifies them so that they should intensify their tefillot. He therefore lets them wait for children.’”

Rabbi Weissman then cites Avraham and Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Chana and their respective travails before bearing children.

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 over 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!!!

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