Parshiyot Acharei Mos/Kedoshim 5777: The Kohen Gadol: Paradigm for B’nai Yisrael, as B’nai Yisrael Stands as Paradigm for all Mankind

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, April 29th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off







Shalom Friends;

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

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshiyot Acharei Mos/Kedoshim 5777: The Kohen Gadol: Paradigm for B’nai Yisrael, as B’nai Yisrael Stands as Paradigm for all Mankind

by Moshe Burt

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

Torah devotes two entire perakim (Sefer Vayikra, chapters 17 and 18) to both discussing and distinguishing the kosher slaughter of consecrated (holy) animals for offerings and unconsecrated kosher slaughter of animals for food while disallowing ingestion of unslaughtered dead or mutilated animals, as well as reminding Am Yisrael that “a high level of moral conduct was expected” of them in order to remain Hashem’s “most favored” people. (Sefer “L’lmod U’lamed”, by Rabbi Mordechai Katz, page 114).

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

Shem Mishmuel first cites gemora Rosh HaShannah 26a:

Why does the Kohen Godol not enter the Holy of Holies wearing his gold vestments to perform the Divine service?

Because an accuser cannot become an advocate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thus, we learn the Halacha that Aharon HaKohen Godol, and every subsequent Kohen Godol wore white vestments when serving in the Kodosh Kedoshim and atoning for the nation on Yom Kippur. And we learn that Aharon HaKohen Godol was THE paradigm, the role model for every subsequent Kohen Godol to emulate in order that the masses of Am Yisrael throughout the generations would follow suit, and l’chatchila (ideally) be moral and free of sin. Perhaps that explains, too, why observant Jewish married (or formerly married) men wear white kittles in shul on Yom Kippur.

Near the end of our parsha, Torah lists numerous forbidden, illicit relationships and practices in Sefer Vayikra Perek 18.

Sefer “L’lmod U’lamed”, by Rabbi Mordechai Katz (page 114) further states on these perakim:

…Adultery and illicit marriages were outlawed. Other nations were destroyed because their members had exhibited immoral behavior, and the same fate would befall Bnei Yisrael if they acted likewise.

Along with listing various immoral, forbidden forms of familial and communal relationships and avodah zora (idolatry), Torah teaches (Sefer Vayikra, chapter 18, posukim 22-23):

“You shall not lie with a man as one lies with a woman, it is an abomination. Do not lie with any animal to be contaminated with it; a woman shall not stand before an animal for mating, it is a perversion.”

Rashi comments on the word “abomination” in the Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer Vayikra, chapter 18, posuk 22:

An abomination. None of the relationships given above [in Sefer Vayikra, chapter 18, posukim 6-20] are described with this term of disgust, because they involve normal activity, though with prohibited mates. Homosexuality [and bestiality], however is unnatural and therefore abominable.

The Artscroll Stone Chumash adds on posuk 22:

The chapter of immorality ends with two forms of sexual perversion: homosexuality and bestiality. The harshness with which Torah describes them testifies to the repugnance in which Hashem holds those who engage in these unnatural practices.

So the question could be asked: Why does the perek specifying immoral, illicit and abominable relationships (perek 18) immediately follow the perek which distinguishes consecrated animals (animals designated as offerings) from unconsecrated animals and the ingestion of kosher slaughtered animals from unkosher dead animals and animals slain by other means?

The answer could lie in the saying which is suggested in various places in Torah and by commentators: “You are what you eat.” R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z’l in the new Hirsch Chumash (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Rabbi Daniel Haberman) notes at the beginning of perek 18 in our parsha (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 18, page 563):

The(ir) purpose is to train man not to allow his essential nature to absorb animal nature; not to imitate the animal’s life of instincts and turn it into a human ideal. The most powerful of these instincts is sexual life. The moral control over this instinct is the cornerstone of all personal and national flowering. The purpose of the laws contained in the present chapter (perek 18) is to regulate sexual life according to Hashem’s command…

One of the main themes underlying Parsha Kedoshim is the loving care with which each Jew l’chatchila is to treat his Jewish brother. Indeed, we see that the first posuk of our Parsha conveys that spirit, “Hashem spoke to Moshe saying, “Speak to the entire assembly of B’nai Yisrael and say to them: You shall be holy, for holy am I, Hashem, your G’d.” (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 19, posuk 1)

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

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

Sadly, in our times, V’ohavta L’rei’acha Komochah often is lacking amongst B’nai Yisrael, supplanted by “Me”, “Mine”,“my convenience”, “Me first” on individual levels as well as on a national level. One might add to this list mindsets representative of disunity, division, polarization between sectors, senseless hatred, i.e. “my group and to heck with yours” or, as seen in recent times, “since You omitted us from your ruling coalition and now seek to integrate us into the national social/economic structure by legislative/judicial force, to heck with the Land — we’ll vote with the left.”

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

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them and that the expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that 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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Parshiyot Tazria/Metzora 5777: Gauging Contemporary Ta’amei/Tahara on a National Level, as well as Individual/National Sincerity in Teshuvah

Filed under: Beit HaShalom - Peace House, Commentary & Human Interest, Expulsion from Federman-Tor Farm, Expulsion, Eviction, Disengagement, Gaza Operation on Saturday, April 22nd, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

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

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshiyot Tazria/Metzora 5777: Gauging Contemporary Ta’amei/Tahara on a National Level, as well as Individual/National Sincerity in Teshuvah

by Moshe Burt

In learning about the laws of tzara’as, we find posukim which are a pelah, a wonderment.

Torah relates in our Parsha;

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

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

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

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

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

Metzora, … Motziya rah [transliteration of the 2 words which form Metzora], a slander. Why just for the Metzora is it ordained, ‘…He shall dwell apart, outside the camp shall his dwelling be’ (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 13, posuk 46)? He induced a rift between a man and his wife, between a man and his neighbor; therefore he too, is to be separated from everyone and remain alone outside the camp.

In a wider sense, seven social sins are cited (Arachin 16a) as causes of negi’yim [spots]…. “slander, the shedding of blood, perjury, sexual immorality, arrogance, robbery and stinginess.”

…These sins and faults are… attributed to the organs of the body which are misused in practicing them…. Thus, the eyes, the mouth, the hands, the heart, the feet — in short, the whole person is despised by Hashem…. Instead of using his organs and faculties that have been granted to him to conduct himself with humility and truth, to practice
lovingkindness, justice and good deeds, and to speak words of truth and peace, he has become the opposite of all these. Hence he is despised and abominated by Hashem, who sends a mark upon his body as a sign of his anger; thus He expels him from the social sphere…, so that he recognize his guilt and reflect on rectifying his character.

With all of this in mind, let’s return to the case of tzara’as erupting on the skin, and covering the entire skin of the afflicted from his head to his feet, everywhere visible to the Kohen.

“But someone whose entire skin has turned white is so morally corrupt that he’s too convinced of his rectitude to think of changing. There is no point in continuing to isolate him. By telling him … that all hope for his ability to improve is gone, Torah shows him dramatically how low he has sunk.” (Artscroll; The Stone Edition Chumash, page #613)

A number of years ago, this author saw a National Council of Young Israel weekly Parsha sheet (the parsha sheet subsequently misplaced by me) which spoke of how Israel, in the depths of it’s corruption and idolatry during the reign of King Achav, won all of it’s wars.

The Encyclopedia of Biblical Personalities, by Yishai Chasidah, brings a quote from Mesechta Megillah 11a;

Three men ruled over the entire world — Achav, Nevuchadnezzar and Ahasuerus. The world was comprised of 252 provinces and Achav ruled over them all. (Esther Rabbah 1:5)

The Rav who prepared the Parsha HaShevua cited above was indicating that, just as an individual whose affliction covered his own body because there seemed no hope for repentance, so too, when the spiritual level of a the nation seemed beyond rectification, they waged war successfully while being largely Ovdei Avodah Zorah. But yet, later on, when the Avodah Zora was more covert during a period of mass Teshuva, we lost Bayit Rishon.

One might follow-up on this equation by asking what the moral of this is for the Jewish people in contemporary times.

The contemporary Jewish State, largely unified, fought 3 wars, in 1948, 1956 and in 1967 winning each one convincingly, particularly 1956 and 1967 when they won overwhelmingly and completely. To recollect and understand how complete Six Day War victory was is to recall reports of relative hands full of Israel soldiers chasing hundreds or thousands of Arabs in confirmation of biblical prophesy, the Arab windows drapped in white sheets of surrender pleading for their lives and thousands of Egyptian combat boots found in Sinai when Arab soldiers shed them in order to run, for their lives faster, from the oncharging IDF.

A great T’shuvah movement took hold in Eretz Yisrael and throughout the Jewish world after the Six Day War. And so, as this author understands the essence of that National Council of Young Israel weekly Parsha sheet, just as a Melech (King) subsequent to Achav was dedicated to wiping out avodah zora such that its instances became more covert where they had previously been blatant, the great T’shuvah movement after the Six Day War may have caused what may be understood as a collective national tzara’as to recede from covering the entire national body.

As a result, derision of the religious intensified among elitists and an increasingly leftist-controlled media, as well as among those few who held monopolistic control over national capital. Sectors in Israel, including amongst the religious, have become more openly polarized toward each other where previously animosity was beneath the surface subservient to a national unity of purpose. Certain sectors of Am Yisrael physically and verbally attack those of their sector who choose to enlist in the military.

And finally, there have evolved, over the last almost forty years, the myths of the leftists, the elitists, academia, the “politically correct” and so-called “mainstream media” which either deny, or are, at best indecisive or equivocal politically and governmentally as to our Divine Right to Eretz Yisrael, to the Biblical/Historical Land which was Divinely Given us in our days, by way of a decisive war of survival thrust upon us by an Arab/Islamic enemy bent on the destruction and eradication of the Jewish people.

Where once, heroic generals literally led their men into battle, the generals of our generation now sit in Tel Aviv proclaiming so-called protocols for confronting terrorists; perpetrators of terror attacks on civilians by all possible means and ambushes and stabbings of Chayalim, as their soldiers are compelled to put their lives at risk in adhering to these protocols at peril of arrest, incarceration and court martial for their violation.

So we learn that as long as the tzara’as covers the entire, visible body, the afflicted is deemed pure, but when affliction recedes and no longer covers the entire visible body, the afflicted is deemed ta’amei (contaminated) and most be quarantined.

That may possibly be the message behind our current national travails as we mark some 139 months since Jew evicted Jew from Jewish land in Gush Katif and 4 Shomron towns, since the results of the Lebanon conflict almost eleven years ago, and since the Gaza conflicts of January, 2009 and July, 2014. And one would be remiss to omit the twin destructions of Amona, Hevron’s Beit HaShalom, the repeated trashing of Federman’s farm, the expulsion from the outpost at Shvut Ami — all at supreme court-legalized Yasamnik gunpoint, and the government’s building freezes in Yesha, most recently because the prime minister prevailed upon the most Israel-friendly US president in history “to help with a two-state solution (sic)”. (Axiomatic: You can’t continue construction while advocating a “two-state solution”) All of which carry the shadow of corrupt political, judicial, bureaucratic, academia and media plans jeopardizing the Jews living in Yehuda and the Shomron.

Now let us deal with the sincerity of an individual’s rectification of the aveirah of loshen hora — Motziya rah, which R’ Hirsch, z’l defined above as “a slander”, and how this author views such rectification when it would seem required on a national scope.

We learn in Parsha Tazria, as well as in upcoming Parshiyot that unity is the very essence of the Kohen.

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin in “Growth Through Torah” (page 253) cites the Rabbi of Alexander who cites as the reason why, when one suspected an affliction with tzara’as, that he must go to… the Kohen and not to a scholar, a Talmud Chacham;

“One of the traits of Aharon was that he did everything he could to make peace between people.” The Sefer relates how Aharon “exaggerated and told untruths in order to bring about peaceful relationships between people.” When people quarreled, he would tell each side how highly thought of they were to the other. “When someone was told that the other person was speaking positively about him, he automatically felt positive about the other person and this greatly improved their relationship.”

This trait of Aharon, his sons, of Pinchas; of conveying and facilitating unity was to be an inherent trait in Kohanim (priesthood) throughout the generations — with the Mishkan (Tabernacle), with both the Beit Hamikdash Rishon and Sheini (both the 1st and 2nd Temple) and down through the Galut to comtemporary times. It seems axiomatic; with peace, there is unity — between a Jew and his brother and on a national level amongst all groups and sectors of B’nai Yisrael.

In “Studies in the Weekly Parsha” (pages 726-727), Yehuda Nachshoni cited a quote from the S’fas Emes on our Parsha Metzora;

“In everything, there is a mixture of evil and good. And so with man. In general, good overcomes the evil, for there is more good. But one must be careful not to exclude evil from the community… ‘Guard your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit … seek peace and pursue it,’ which means that (the evil) is to be engulfed by the common good, as indicated in the act of taharah of metzora…’ The emphasis is to return to the source and to cleave to the root, and when one is within the common good he can be rectified.”

This explanation seems to add meaning to the words of the third and final section of Birkat Kohanim (Artscroll Mesorah Series Birkat Kohanim, pages 80-81); “V’Yaseim L’cha Shalom” — “and may He grant you peace.”

In light of the above, the message of the 2nd posuk of Parshat Metzora seems profound (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 14, posukim 2-4):

“This shall be the law concerning the Metzora when he is purified: he shall be brought to the Kohen. The Kohen shall go outside the camp, where he shall examine the Metzora to determine that the tzara’as has healed. The Kohen shall then order that for the person undergoing purification there be taken two live kosher birds, a piece of cedar, some crimson wool, and a hyssop branch.”

And, R’ Pliskin in “Growth Through Torah” (page 259) cites and explains an Ibn Ezra on why the purified former metzora is brought by another person to the Kohen:

…After the tzara’as clears up. he will not want to bring the offerings that he is responsible to bring.

When a person has tzara’as, he will definitely claim that of course he will bring the necessary offerings when the tzara’as clears up. But once he is cured, he can easily forget his obligations. Now that nothing is pressing him, he will focus on other things and not on meeting his obligations.

Some people find it difficult to meet their responsibilities. When they need favors from someone or want to impress someone, the might make many promises. But when the time comes to keep their obligations, they do all they can to avoid meeting them. A person with integrity will derive pleasure from meeting his responsibilities and not need others to coerce him to keep them.

This author finds R’ Pliskin’s explanation of Ibn Ezra a bit hard to understand in the context of the metzora; i.e. that it would be possible that one who was afflicted with tzara’as due to his loshen hora — slander, and did genuine teshuvah for his aveirah resulting in his purification, that such a person would avoid bringing the atonement offering to complete the teshuvah/purification process, thus continuing his slander.

But one can easily see the Ibn Ezra’s point that “teshuvah” followed by avoidance of obligations and responsibilities seems part of general human nature, as does loshen hora, and as does slander by way of complacent complicity, i.e. turning away from one’s fellow Jew’s matzav (difficulties) either on a one-to-one level, or on a national sectorial level. It seems to this author that to bring real peace and unity among B’nai Yisrael, we Jews need to rise above common human nature and care for our fellows — V’Ahavtah L’re’icha Komocha. Only then will our collective contrition for the previous aveirot be sincere and complete.

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

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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Parshat Shemini 5777: The Wisdom of Seeking Advice, Counsel and Clarity

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, April 15th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

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

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Shemini 5777: The Wisdom of Seeking Advice, Counsel and Clarity

by Moshe Burt

After learning in Parsha Tzav that for seven days, Moshe taught Aaron HaKohen and his sons the laws of their Avodah (the Kohanic Service, i.e. in the Tabernacle and later in the Beit HaMikdash — ” The Temple”) in the Mishkan, our Parsha Shemini begins by relating that on the eighth day, Aaron and his sons commenced their Avodah HaKodosh (Holy Service).

But the alignment of these two Parshiyot, one-after-the-other, seems to this author, to have deeper meaning, above and beyond mobilization and deployment in time of war. This deeper meaning seems to denote a constancy of service, of humility, modesty and selflessness, of guard over Am Yisrael and their connection to Hashem, to Torah and to their sanctity (consecration, purity, holiness). And with this constancy of vigilance of Am Yisrael’s sanctity, our Parsha also teaches us about Kashrut, and “abstain[ing] from impure, non-Kosher item[s].” (L’ilmode U’Lamed, by Rabbi Mordechai Katz, Parsha Shemini, page 108)

Our Parsha also relates the tragedy of the deaths of Aaron’s two oldest sons, Nadav and Avihu who died while performing an unauthorized Service, offering a “strange fire …, which He did not command them…” (Artscroll Chumash, Vayikra, Perek 10, posuk 1)

Rabbi A. Henach Leibowitz, in his sefer “Majesty of Man” (page 181-182) cites the Yalkut Shimoni’s crucial observation about Nadav and Avihu and their failure to discuss and clarify among themselves the halachot regarding their offerings:

The Yalkut Shimoni points out (524:20) that they made this mistake because they did not consult Moshe.

Furthermore… they were blamed because they did not consult with each other…. Why were they blamed for not consulting each other? If both Nadav and Avihu, the greatest men in Israel after Moshe and Aaron, both independently came to the same conclusion that this korbon [the “strange fire"] should be brought, why would asking each other make
a difference?

Chazal are showing us the power of asking advice. Even if two equals … both feel the same way about a certain topic, talking it over may cause them to change their minds. By discussing a matter, the concepts involved become clarified.

Had Nadav and Avihu consulted each other, the ensuing discussion would have brought into question the halachic basis for the korbon and saved them from their fatal mistake.

This attribute of seeking clarity regarding facts or issues applies to more than only behaviors. Seeking clarity is a particular theme for me when commemorating the Yarhtzeit of my Mother: Chaya bat Zalman, she, with my Dad, should have an Aliyah in Shemayim.

Clarity played an important part at points in my Mother’s life. To cite relevant excerpts from my hespid:

Mere days after my parents’ wedding, while on their honeymoon, their hotel burned to the ground — my Father’s life saved due to the advent of penicillin which in 1945 was administered only to US military personnel. Nine months later, my Mother gave birth to a daughter destined to pass away at two years due to the genetic disorder – Tay Sachs which, at that time, was unknown to, and confounded American doctors. It was only once she took the daughter to a doctor in Montreal, that she received clarity, that the child was diagnosed as having Tay Sachs. B’H, later in life, when much attention was focused on areas of genetic research, I was tested and found not to be a carrier of the gene.

In my early childhood years, we lived in a North Philly post-World War 2 then predominantly German neighborhood. We lived in a corner house with a store front — my parents together operated a Mom ‘n Pop grocery store for about six years. As an only child who was shy, introverted; attending a public school, I was a child written off by a cruel, arrogant first grade teacher as being backward, retarded, seen as never amounting to anything. My Mother was one who fought for her child’s future by having me tested numerous times and by being active in that school’s PTA for as long as we lived in that community — again clarity.

And finally, in September and early October, 2015 some seven months before my Mother’s passing, she was seriously ill, and it was thought that the end was near. A head nurse in intensive care in a Florida hospital insisted to the family that she needed a procedure in order to get nutrition, despite the fact that one of the other nurses informed us that my Mother had passed certain tests which never made it to her medical record. My Mother rallied miraculously giving us more time with her, thanks to Hashem’s kindness in giving us great counsel; by way of the gentleman handling my Parents’ affairs, the medical personnel at my Parents’ assisted living facility, Rabbi Dr. Maurice Lamm z”l, Founder, President of the National Institute of Jewish Hospice and the Hospice organization which provided care for my Mother in my Parents’ apartment during her final months — yet again, clarity.

And so, as with our Parsha’s enumeration of the consequence of lack of the kind of clarity which comes with an absence of advice and counsel, seeking advice and clarity was vital for my parents and myself at crucial life junctures.

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

Good Shabbos!
_______________________________________

Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Dayenu 5777: Governance Stuck in “Status Quo”, Unmasked While Trying to Hide Behind Fake External “Edicts”

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


Shalom Friends;

Our Pesach vort is being sponsored by Avraham and Miriam Deutsch and family of Efrat who make a special dedication for the welfare of our chayalim! 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
*****************************************

Dayenu 5777: Governance Stuck in “Status Quo”, Unmasked While Still Trying to Hide Behind Fake External “Edicts”

by, Moshe Burt

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

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

As we approach Pesach 5777, it seems to this author that this quoted rendition of “Dayenu” is as vital now as it was in the first year that I emailed this vort out or, for that matter, as vital as when it was quoted in Segal’s compilation of the book in its copyright year 1988.

In the Book “Dear Brothers”, the story is told how Pesach 5738 (1968) was approaching when the first group of Pioneers endeavored to establish themselves in Chevron. Among this group were Rabbis Haim Druckman, Eliezer Waldman, Moshe Levinger, Shlomo Aviner and others.

We pick up the story as the participants, “Sixty people sat down to that historical first Seder…” in Chevron:

“Another participant was the author Moshe Shamir, formerly affiliated with the leftist Hashomer Hatzair (the Young Guard). As he did with each of the celebrants during the Seder, Rabbi Druckman asked Shamir to make some comments appropriate to the festival. The others braced themselves for the minor unpleasantness that was sure to result…”

But at every Seder since then; other guests have repeated the Drosh that Moshe Shamir delivered that first Passover Seder in Chevron and so I try to give it over each year to my friends and relatives on Pesach via the Internet and at the Seder:

“The fourteen verses in the song Dayenu (It would have sufficed) have drawn the attention of the commentators throughout the ages. Why should we imply that we could forgo even one of the gifts given to us by Hashem three thousand years ago? How would we have gotten along at all without every one of them? The truth is that this part of the Haggadah has only one aim: to teach us how each and every generation of Jews tends to settle for the achievements of the past, to settle for what its forefathers had accomplished — and to rest on its laurels, with no aspiration for anything not achieved thus far. We, too, right here have that same tendency to say Dayenu — ‘It would have sufficed for us.’ The State of Israel? Dayenu. Unified Jerusalem and liberated Hebron? Dayenu. Wasn’t it just last year at the Seder [before the 6-day War -- MB] that we said, ‘If Hashem had given us Israel but had not given us Jerusalem and Hebron — dayenu? That’s why we’ve got to know that we’ll be facing many more ‘dayenus’ until we reach full redemption.”

The book recounts that Rabbi Druckman stood up and kissed Shamir’s forehead.

In his vort at that first Pesach Seder in Hevron, Moshe Shamir spoke about generations of Jews settling for what was and is, rather than aspiring to achieve further and seizing opportunities to fulfill these further aspirations. But today, it seems that not only is there the tendency not to aspire further, but to actually give up, to relinquish that already achieved.

We see this tendency continue in the political realm, in our equivocal, indecisive governance and so-called “diplomacy” where we’re afraid to win outright, in academia, in the media, even in the IDF where, sad to say, our soldiers are ordered and compelled to follow so-called “protocols” when dealing with murderers bent on killing Jews, thus risking their lives and the lives of their brethren — all in the name of “world opinion.”

With the ascension to power of a new American president, perhaps the most amenable “superpower” leader in Israel’s modern-day nearly sixty- nine year statehood, Israel’s prime minister and so-called “right-wing” coalition remain stuck in “Stockholm Syndrome” of “two-state (sic)” funk such that they continue to encumber Am Yisrael with a self-fulfilling prophesy where this new American president now echoes, albeit in perhaps a softer tone, the warnings and demands of previous presidents.

When the prime minister of Israel appears on a major American Sunday political news program such as “60 Minutes” asking “Trump to help us reach a two-state solution” and then expressing the same in various other ways, is there any wonder that the new American president, who heretofore was predisposed toward moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem and was supportive of, or at least benign, towards the rights of Israel to possess her historical, Biblical, Spiritual roots in Yehudah and the Shomron (Judea and Samaria), now has any Embassy move on hold, opposes annexation of parts of Yehudah and the Shomron and makes demands for renewed building freezes there and in Jerusalem?

In short, Israel’s political/governmental equivocation, rather than assertiveness and decisive actions, in the period of a more amenable new American administration, has unmasked a governance hiding behind cover of Amercan edicts, such that, as has been repeated by this author in previous vorts; an American president and administration cannot be more Zionist, more pro-Israel than the government and body-politic of Israel itself. Or stated even more succinctly, one cannot promote annexation of Yehudah and the Shomron and building there while continuing to espouse a “two-state solution(sic)” as the two are mutually exclusive.

Dayenu seems to deliver a message of striving for the building, maintaining and increasing Jewish self-esteem and recognition of the great chessed that Hashem has done for us with every gift that He has given to the Jewish people from Yetziyat Mitzrayim until now. It seems also to mean striving to justify Hashem’s chessed inherent in the gifts yet to come — B’Ezrat Hashem; Moshiach, Ge’ula Shlaima, Torah leadership and governance, and an end to the current indecisive and often cruel, brutal, heartless, totalitarian, dictatorial governance of Memshelet Yisrael.

A commentary in the Artscroll Pesach Haggadah (page 137) cites the Malbim and speaks about Dayenu in this way;

“…The bondage of our forefathers was two-fold — physical and spiritual — and so was their redemption. The physical bondage came to an end on Pesach night, but the spiritual redemption reached it’s climax only with the building of the Temple and Hashem’s self-revelation in his sanctuary.”

“Every step on the road to this ultimate goal was a further act of Divine kindness to us, a further revelation of Hashem’s majesty. That’s why we give thanks for each …favor (MB; kindness) bestowed upon us. For every single step, we say Dayenu — it would have sufficed by itself to give our thanks (attributed to Malbim).”

This does not mean that any one step would have sufficed by itself to bring us to our goal. It does mean, however, that each of the happenings of Yetziyat Mitzrayim, Giving of Torah at Har Sinai, the travels through Bamidbar, entry of the Jewish People into Eretz Yisrael through to the building of the Beit HaMikdash “represented a new remarkable miracle — …that Hashem need not have performed these miracles if he had not seen a particular purpose for each.”

Therefore, just as the Jews in Bamidbar had to confront and fight off their yetzer hara, it seems that today some segments of Am Yisrael, both secular and religious, as well as prospective governing alternatives manifest suffering from that same yetzer hara — a spiritual bondage which remains with us even today. We suffer the same danger, as our brethren who left Egypt, of capitulating to it and thus surrendering the Jewish soul and endangering our Jewish lives and sovereignty in, and over the Land of Israel.

In Parshat Shemot, this author referred to Rabbi Zelig Pliskin (“Growth Through Torah”, Parshat Sh’mot, pages 138-140) who cited Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz — a citing well worth repeating here:

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

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.

What is the spiritual road leading to Jewish self-esteem?? It seems travelled by way of our kavanah (intent) and ratzon (desire) in our tefillos, our Avodat Hashem and common decency toward our fellow Jews — V’ahavtah L’rei’cha Komocha as existed amongst B’nai Yisrael even in the depths of Mitzri enslavement. Jewish self-esteem also seems indicative of the strength of our convictions regarding Emunah in Hashem and of striving for the perceived “unachievable”; both inward and outward expressions and manifestations of limitless love for our fellow Jew and for our Holy Land. It also seems to mean breaking out, for some, of their contemporary mold of coercion and dependency, and a mutual recognition and respect for diversity within the realm of halachic observant Jewry.

As writer Moshe Shamir said years ago in his little Pesach vort;

“That’s why we’ve got to know that we’ll be facing many more ‘dayenus’ until we reach full redemption.”

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them and that the expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that 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 Yom Tov, Good Shabbos! Chag Kosher V’Some’ach and, remember: BE THERE at the Pesach Seder!
_______________________________________

Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of
The Sefer Torah Recycling Network.
He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Tzav 5777: The Line Between Divine Command, Logical Sequences of Progression, and Arrogance

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, April 1st, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat Tzav is being sponsored by Dov and Bracha Moses of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for refuah shlaima for Rachel bat Chaya Perel and lilui nishmas Chaya Perel bat Rivka and Yehudit bat Chaya Perel. To the Moses family, many thanks for your sponsorship, for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Tzav 5777: The Line Between Divine Command, Logical Sequences of Progression, and Arrogance

by Moshe Burt

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

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

In our Parsha, Tzav is Moshe’s command from Hashem to Aaron HaKohen and his sons to take up and clothe themselves in their Vestments, their garments of service in the Mishkan, and to begin their daily Avodah (service and offerings in the Mishkan).

For seven days, Moshe taught Aaron HaKohen and his sons the laws of their Avodah in the Mishkan. (You might say that they were given, as one could term it in the US, OJT — On the Job Training — from Shemayim.) On the eighth day, Aaron and his sons began their Avodah.

We are taught in our Parsha about the two flames which burn continuously; the flickering light of the Menorah and the powerful flame of the Mizbeiyach (the altar where the various offerings to Hashem were brought). These two flames which burned constantly teach us that a balance must exist between strength and power and modesty and humility.

These fires teach us about maintaining a consistency between enthusiasm and constancy. (L’lmod Ul’Lamed, Rabbi Mordechai Katz, Parsha Tzav, pages 103-104)

But here, this author, with his trip to Florida and his Dad’s recent passing at 3 1/2 months short of ninety-nine years, veers off onto a different track. That track consists of the differentiation between Divine Command, or what this author will call logical sequences of progression, and arrogance.

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

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

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

But there are multitudes of other tasks, outside the realm of the Divine Service of the Kohanim, tefillot, or certain Mitzvot which demand an exact sequence of completion, where there are multiple tracks, i.e. flexibility, to achieving the desired goal — so long as all of the variables of a process are considered and included in reaching the necessary result.

As an accountant, as a corporate controller, this author often found it necessary to improvise in proceeding toward the necessary result — a completed set of periodic financial statements, year-end closings, etc. when certain figures were not available at the moment needed, but only slighty later. This is what this author refers to as logical sequences of progression to achieving the desired goal.

In speaking of these multitudes of other tasks, perhaps mundane as compared to the Divine Service of the Kohanim, there is a contrast between flexibility in completing a task and arrogance, i.e. “my way or the highway.”

R’ Zelig Pliskin, in his Sefer “Growth Through Torah” (page 242) cites Sefer Vayikra, Perek 6, posuk 2; “This is the law of the burnt [elevation] offering…” in discussing arrogance:

Our verse can be read: “This” is the principle of the arrogant person, the one who looks at himself as an exalted person. He constantly demands “this.” He always wants things done his way without taking the needs of others into consideration. (citing Vayedabair Moshe)

An arrogant person always wants to have everything his own way. He is totally inconsiderate of others. This trait causes much strife in interpersonal relationships.

Be aware of the needs and feelings of others. Be willing to compromise on your demands of how things should be. While you need not always give in to others, when you take someone else’s needs into consideration you gain spiritually more than you would by demanding that only your wishes should be met.

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

Good Shabbos HaGadol!
_______________________________________

Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Vayikra 5777: Moshe, Modesty and Humility and Modern-Day Paradigms

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


Shalom Friends;

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

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

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

Best Regards,

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

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

by Moshe Burt

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

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

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

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

The opening phrase “vayikra el Moshe” teaches us that Hashem called to Moshe by his name. Rashi explains that the alef at the end of the word “vayikra” comes to emphasize how Hashem spoke lovingly to Moshe…. Rabbi Shimshon Dovid Pincus elaborates on the idea that calling someone by name is an expression of love… The giving of a name does not stem from a general parental love. Rather, it is an expression of personal, individual love. Each child in a family is unique and is granted a specific name, exclusive to him. Every son or daughter is individually loved for the distinctive qualities he or she embodies.

We are told how Hashem, Kav’yochal, would call gently, affectionately “Moshe, Moshe” in a voice for Moshe Rabbeinu’s ears only and Moshe would respond “Here I am.” (Rashi on Sefer Vayikra, Perek 1, posuk 1 — Metsuda Linear Chumash & Rashi with footnotes)

Moshe, always shirking honor, kavod, special treatment, or the perception of special treatment, fought “tooth to nail” that this first word of our Parshat, the word which would come to typify Hashem’s greeting when he wanted to speak privately with him in the Mishkan, should read “Vayikar.” That Moshe sought not to be perceived by Am Yisrael for all time as receiving honor, kavod and special treatment by Hashem tells much about Moshe Rabbeinu’s level of principle, integrity
and his standard of leadership of B’nei Yisrael.

Of course, Hashem’s wish for “Vayikra” carried the day, although He made the concession of the small “aleph.” Rashi’s understanding of the dialogue speaks volumes about the Dar’chim, the ways of humility, modesty and selflessness of Moshe Rabbeinu; his dedication to Hashem and to the people he leads, the B’nei Yisrael. But let kindness and humility not be confused with weakness, for we learn that Moshe Rabbeinu was a strong, yet just leader.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chodesh Tov and Good Shabbos!
_______________________________________

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

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


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshiyot HaShevua, Vayakhel/Pekudei is being sponsored by Steven and Debra Glanz and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for the success of their children. To the Glanz family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

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

by Moshe Burt

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

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

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

The opening p’sukim of Parsha Vayakhel;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The word Vayakhel — Assembling together of Kol B’nai Yisrael, introduces the building of the Mishkan (Tent of Meeting), the forerunner of the Beit HaMikdash, which would serve as a kappara (atonement) for the Eigel Zahav
(Golden Calf).

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Parsha Pekudei begins;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good Shabbos!
_______________________________________

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

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

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


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Ki Tisa is being sponsored Reuven and Socotta Shefi-gal of Moshav Aderet lilui nishmas Reuven’s Dad Rav Avraham Moshe ben Rav Elchanan Yochanan. To the Shefi-gal family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

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

by Moshe Burt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Intensity of Prayer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good Shabbos!
_______________________________________

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

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


Shalom Friends;

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

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

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

Best Regards,

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

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

by Moshe Burt

Friends;

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

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

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

For Jews, the above axiom said another way: we cannot put our trust, faith in man, our sovereignty and survival in the hands of nations, not even in Trump, Kushner, Friedman, etc., but ONLY in Hashem. Haven’t we seen this lesson played out numerous times in Israel’s nearly 69 years of modern times? As such, we must do as a proud, sovereign Jewish nation must do for our collective security and well-being, and believe and trust that Hashem Sees and Acts for His nation. Isn’t that the lesson of the Six Day War, of Entebbe? Isn’t that the lesson learned both from Chanukah and Purim?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mordechai summons Esther to entreat the king, in his court, regarding the threat to the Jews.

It’s not the first time that Mordechai summoned Esther to use the power of her throne in defense of her people. There was the assassination plot of two of the king’s servants, Bigsan and Seresh, both of whom hailed from Tarshish (“Let My People Live”, by Yosef Deutsch, page 142 citing R’ Shmuel di Uzidah, sefer Melo HaOmer). The two spoke openly about their plot in their native tongue Tarsi (The Artscroll Tanach Series: The Megillah, The Book of Esther, Chapter 2, notes to posuk 22, page 63 citing gemura Megillat 13b), a seemingly obscure foreign tongue. Seated about 20 paces away from where Bigsan and Seresh hatched their plot and unbeknownst to them, Mordechai overheard their assassination plot.

Mordechai, a former member of the Sanhedrin (the Jewish High Court) had to be fluent in all 70 of the world’s languages, which included Tarsi, to sit in as a member of that body. The story goes that Mordechai got word to Esther who informed the King, giving full credit for disclosure of the plot to Mordechai (despite Mordechai’s wish that his name not be mentioned), taking no credit for herself. (“Let My People Live”, by Yosef Deutsch, page 147)

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

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

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

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

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

“Do not imagine that you will be able to escape in the King’s palace any more than the rest of the Jews. For if you persist in keeping silent at a time like this, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another place… And who knows whether it was just for such a time as this that you attained the royal position.”

Esther’s nervousness and hesitation regarding Haman’s decree against the Jews seemed to this author to be puzzling in light of her apparent ease of access in informing Achashveirosh of the assassination plot (the “poison plot”)?

Wouldn’t the Queen, as royalty, be exempted from laws denying access to the King?

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

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

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

Despite Esther’s hesitation in entreating the King, in his court, regarding the threat to the Jews, the dye resulting from Esther’s humbly informing the King, in Mordechai’s name, of the “poison plot” had been cast.

Rabbi Weinbach (“127 Insights into Megillat Esther”, page 88) writes:

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

So, to repeat Dr. Ben-Artzi’s call:

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

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

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

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

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


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parsha Tetzaveh is being sponsored David and Tzippora Leichter of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for a refuah shleima for Tamar Adina bat Kayna Shulamit and for sister-in-law Aliza Rifka bat Henya. To the Leichter family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat Tetzaveh 5777: Purification of the Oil of Illumination — Its Meaning for Am Yisrael Today

by Moshe Burt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good Shabbos!
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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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