Parshat Naso 5775: The Nazir, and Lessons of Nazirut for Our Times

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Sunday, May 24th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off



Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat HaShevua Naso is being sponsored anonymously in Ramat Beit Shemesh in honor of all the teachers and gabbaim in the community who serve the community with honor and dedication. To the anonymous donor, 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 Naso 5775: The Nazir, and Lessons of Nazirut for Our Times

by Moshe Burt

This year, for the fourth time in the past six years, our Parshat Naso falls out on the Shabbos following Shavuot.

Among the many laws contained in our Parshat Naso are Halachot concerning the nazir (nazirite). Sefer Shem Mishmuel (a selection of the works written by Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, z’l, the Rebbe of Sochaczev, translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski) describes nazirut, cites poskim of our parsha which describe the three restrictions taken on by one who takes upon himself the vows of a nazir and explains further (pages 312-314):

This person takes upon himself a vow to refrain from certain activities and by doing so achieves, at least temporarily, an exalted spiritual state.

“From wine and strong drink shall he abstain…” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 6, posuk 3)

“All the days of the vow of his abstention no razor may pass over his head… He shall grow the locks of the hair of his head.” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 6, posuk 5)

“All the days of his abstention to Hashem he shall not approach a corpse.” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 6, posuk 6)

The nazir may not cut the hair “on his head.” The head is the seat of brain and the intellect of man…. The nazir allows his intellect to burst forth and manifest itself beyond its usual boundaries.

Abstention from wine leads to greater control over the power of speech. Chazal tell us: “When wine goes in, secrets come out. (Eruvin 65a)

Finally, death represents the failure and demise of the physical world. Avoiding contact with it sanctifies the physical, active component of man.

This Parshat HaSheva will not go into the specific steps that the nazir need take in attaining a nazirite status, nor the steps and korbonot he fulfills at the completion of his nazirut.

One may ask why the laws of nazirut follow immediately after the laws concerning a sotah; regarding a man’s jealousy and/or one whose wife has gone astray committing treachery against him. The Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash translates Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 6, posukim 1 and 2 and explains in commentary on Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 6 (page 759):

“Hashem spoke to Moshe saying, ‘Speak to the B’nei Yisrael and say to them: A man or a woman who shall disassociate himself by taking a Nazirite vow of abstinence for the sake of Hashem…’”

…The sages derive that one who sees a sotah in her state of degradation should prohibit wine to himself by taking a Nazirite vow (Sotah 2a)

This sheds light on the underlying purpose of the Nazirite status and what would prompt one to adopt it. A sotah opted to follow her sensual passions and let her heart overpower her mind, her pursuit of pleasure to overcome her responsibility to Hashem…. Someone who saw her degradation — even her horrible death after she drank the bitter water — could easily be overcome by the fantasies of temptation…. The Nazirite’s abstinence from wine signals… that the adoption of a spiritual life can help close the door to the enticement that doomed the sotah.

The minimum period of Nazirism is thirty days, but a Nazirite who so desires may adopt longer periods. (Nazir 5a)

“Shall disassociate.” The translation follows Rashi and expresses the idea that the Nazirite… seeks to separate himself from the temptations of his environment. Targum renders ["Shall disassociate."] articulate, and, indeed, the Nazirite vow must be spoken clearly. Ebn Ezra offers an alternative translation: who shall do something astounding, for it is truly uncommon for someone to undertake a vow that will cut him off from a physical pleasure that others find enticing…. All of the above [translations] are valid halachically and philosophically.

Rabbi Mordechai Katz notes, in his sefer “L’ilmod U’lamed” on our parsha (pages 134-135):

Unfortunately, the influences of society sometimes make us all too much a part of today’s world. We sometimes adopt secular ways and overlook the high standards expected of us… Then it becomes time to take a lesson from the rite of Nazirut. It is necessary to make an abrupt U-turn and head back in the Torah direction. A major change in lifestyle is helpful in reminding us exactly what our life goals should be. If we break dramatically with alien ways and dedicate ourselves entirely to Hashem, …then we can get ourselves back onto the proper path.

It would seem that the lessons of Nazirut should also not be lost on today’s authority figures in Eretz Yisrael, be it the police, the IDF, bureaucratic and governmental offices and agencies, etc. where far too often personages in positions of authority over others often take prohibitive and corrupt liberties with their underlings, their subordinates thus subjecting them to severe physical and psychological degradations. It is time that such authoritarian figures internalize and take to heart the lessons of nazirut and its place in Torah immediately following the laws of sotah.

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

Good Shabbos!

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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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Rabbi Moshe Levinger z”l and His Connection of Am Yisrael with Eretz Yisrael

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, News Reports on Sunday, May 17th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


by Moshe Burt

I was saddened to wake up this morning, Sunday, 17 May, 2015 — 28 Iyyar, 5775 to hear the news that Rabbi Moshe Levinger z”l had passed away at age 80.

We all know of R’ Moshe’s immense efforts and contributions toward the establishment of modern-day Jewish presence in Hevron, as well as throughout Yehuda and the Shomron.

As R’ Moshe led members of his Gush Emunim movement on foot through the Shomron mountains to such places as Sebastia, Elon Moreh and more, I was following their progress from thousands of miles away by way of the Jerusalem Post International Edition which came to my mail box weekly. R’ Moshe, along with Rabbis Haim Druckman, Eliezer Waldman and Shlomo Aviner was among a group of Jews who celebrated the first Pesach Seder meal at the Park Hotel in Hevron in 1968 — 5728 in the year following the Six Day War. I viewed R’ Moshe with great awe and inspiration.

In the summer of 1997, a year and nine months before my aliyah, to my great shock and surprise, I was zocha to meet and speak with R’ Moshe — a dream come true and memorable moment in my life — at the Hachnasat Sefer Torah which took place at Yishuv Shvut Rahel, named for the victim of a terror attack, on the next mountain from Shilo. The Hachnasat Sefer Torah was the installation of the second of thirteen Sifrei Torah facilitated and placed under the aegis of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network.

katy-02

R’Moshe Levinger with a son of the donor of the Sefer Torah placed
in Yishuv Shvut Rahel in July, 1997 — 26 Sivan 5757

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I was later zocha to have joined R’ Moshe in a Carlbach Kabalat Shabbos minyan held outside the Ma’arat Hamachpela in Hevron in July, 1998 as well as being hosted for a Shabbos lunch by he and Rebbetzin Miriam. And after my aliyah, I was zocha to see R’ Moshe a number of times in Hevron, including a number of times when I davened Kabalat Shabbos near him at the Ma’arat Hamachpela when my shul spent Shabbos Tefillah (the Shabbos before Rosh Hashana) in Hevron.

Israel National News notes that R’ Moshe was voted, along with former prime minister Menachem Begin z”l as “person of the generation, the man or woman who has had the greatest effect on Israeli society in the last twenty years” in a poll held by the now-defunct Hadashot newspaper.

Am Yisrael has lost a Giant whose void will be difficult to fill. His love and efforts to connect Am Yisrael with Eretz Yisrael will be sorely missed.

Shavu’ot 5775: Ruth, and Her Legacy: Dovid HaMelech and the Ge’ulah Shleima

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, May 16th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Shavuot vort is being sponsored by Daniel and Amy Michaels of Ramat Beit Shemesh in honor of the upcoming Chassuna of Aharon and Sheina. To the Michaels family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Shavu’ot 5775: Ruth, and Her Legacy: Dovid HaMelech and the Ge’ulah Shleima

by Moshe Burt

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

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

Shem Mishmuel then explains (pages 302 – 304):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Although these words seem to echo a previous year’s Shavu’ot vort, it’s important to focus on Ruth’s impact and her legacy, by way of the descendents of her union with Bo’az leading to Dovid HaMelech, and to the Ge’ula Shleima, the Ultimate Redemption, may we see and live it in our times.

This Shavu’ot will be the first Yom Tov in which this author davens Yizkor — the memorial service recalling the souls of the departed, for a parent, niftaret on Shabbos Sh’mini, Isru Chag Pesach in Eretz Yisrael. Although Yizkor is said before Mussaf on Yom Kippur, Succot and Pesach as well, there seems something special about this Yizkor and the crucial impact which Ruth has on the ultimate destiny of Am Yehudi.

The Artscroll Shavuot Machzor informs us about the custom of saying Yizkor for the souls of the departed:

The ancient custom of recalling the souls of the departed… is rooted in the fundamental Jewish belief in the eternity of the soul. When physical life ends, only the body dies, but the soul ascends to the realm of the spirit where it regularly attains higher levels of purity and holiness.

When this life is over, the soul can no longer perform good deeds; that method of attaining merit is the sole province of mortal man who must struggle with the baseness and selfishness of his animal nature. But there is a way for the disembodied soul to derive new sources of merit. History is a continuum. If we, the living, give charity or do good deeds due to the lasting influence or in memory of a departed parent or other loved one, the merit is truly that of the soul in its spiritual realm. Moreover, Hashem in His mercy credits our deeds to the departed one because he or she, too, would have done the same were it possible.

In other words, just as we say “Yaakov is still alive” or “Yaakov never died” by virtue of the good and the chessed (kindnesses) of B’nei Yisrael, and the souls of Ruth and Bo’az live on through Dovid HaMelech (Dovid ben Yishai) and Moshiach ben Dovid, our departed loved ones live on and their souls gain ever higher levels of kedusha (holiness) through our Avodat Hashem, our acts of kindness, our learning and our cleaving to OUR Eretz Yisrael.

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

Chag Kosher V’Same’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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Parsha Bamidbar 5775: Diversity Within Unity of National Purpose in Our Time

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, May 16th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Bamidbar is being sponsored by Avraham and Miriam Deutsch of Efrat in commemoration of the Yahrtzeit of Avraham’s parents, Mordechai ben Avraham Aba and Sarah Reetza Bat Tzion bat Avraham Yaakov. The Yahrtzeit of Avraham’s Dad was on Yud Tess Iyar. To the Deutsch family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parsha Bamidbar 5775: Diversity Within Unity of National Purpose in Our Time

by Moshe Burt

Once getting past the numbers crunching of the census, our Parsha speaks of Degalim: the flags of the Sh’vatim (Tribes), as a paradigm of Unity, yet which expresses diversity within the various components, all of which play essential roles within a collective unity. Within a unity, there is room for integration and cooperation of diverse individual and group attributes, skills, strong points and actions when channeled toward the common goals of Unity, i.e. the common goals of B’nai Yisrael:

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

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

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

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

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

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

It would seem that the loshen “his degel” would indicate expressions of love within a context of unity. The spiritual meaning of the degalim of Klal Yisrael in the wilderness seems to be expression of deep yearning for, love of, and closeness to G’d.

Thus, the ability to encamp in degalim, emulating the angels, was an opportunity for a profound, constant and unparalleled loving relationship between Hashem and B’nai Yisrael. (Sefer Shem Mishmuel, page 298.) Further, the degel of each individual Shevet (tribe) seems a representation of that Shevet’s unique expression of love and closeness to Hashem within the collective unity and cooperation of Kol B’nai Yisrael.

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

In another example of the integration and cooperation of diverse individual and group attributes, skills and actions channeled toward the common goals of a Unity, we learn in Parsha Naso how each of the Sh’vatim brought the same offerings in the exact same quantity for the inauguration of the Mishkan. The offering of one prince of one Shevet was brought daily. Therefore, 12 repetitions of the same offering were brought. However, we learn that each Shevet’s dressing of it’s offering represented that Shevet’s unique expression of it’s individuality within the unity of B’nai Yisrael.

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

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

The common goals of this unity MUST include, but are not limited to blunting, halting and eliminating, by all possible means, any future expulsions, no matter what term the prevailing government and prime minister might coin to mask or package future expulsions of Jews and future land hand-overs to our enemies on any given day, or whatever tactics and slanders self-hating, self-debasing leaders might employ in order to attempt to delude Am Yisrael as to rationale, and to what they say will come after such intentional sins. We must succeed in bringing a Medinat Torah (Torah governance) to The Land of Israel.

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

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

What is the greatness of Am Yisrael listening to Moshe in this manner? Why would anyone have thought that they would not have listened? This comes to teach us that they did not quarrel about whose place would be at the head and who would be at the end, who would be at the east and who would be at the west. They accepted the will of The Almighty and did not complain or argue. Unfortunately, in many places arguments do arise when people are not satisfied with the seating arrangements. (Oznayim LeTorah)

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

This distinction between practicality, such as when prime minister Netanyahu acted in Israel’s national interest in edging himself forward to the front row in the Charlie Hebdo memorial (where Mahmud Abbas had already positioned himself) or when Netanyahu stood firm in going forward with his address to the joint session of US Congress, and arrogance and honor-seeking in coalition negotiations should not be lost upon both the political leaders of the various factions and upon Am Yisrael at large.

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

Good Shabbos!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Bechukotai 5775: The Perils of the Tochochah Today, and Our Failure to Heed

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, May 9th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshiyot HaShevua, Parshat Bechukotai is being sponsored by Dr. Pinchas and Pnina Klahr of Ramat Beit Shemesh Lilui Nishmas for Nasan Karpel ben Shmuel Zanvil Tzvi and Matisyahu ben Yaakov. To the Klahr family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Bechukotai 5775: The Perils of the Tochochah Today, and Our Failure to Heed

by Moshe Burt

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

Dictionary.com defines “admonition” thus:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Through the nearly ten years since the Ge’irush — the expulsion of our Jewish brethren from their homes, towns and communal lives in Gush Katif by a former Israeli government, regrets and apologies have flowed to our brethren. Remembering back to those days and after, there were those who defamed their brethren — many who later expressed apologies for their words and actions. And there were those who stood, or rather sat by — not daring to leave their studies, or to put their jobs or family lives on hold to help and support their brethren, and who went on with their lives — “business as usual” during the very days of the Ge’irush. It seems as if we have yet to hear the slightest contrition from many.

And yet, with the constant threats or actualizations, by subsequent Israeli governments through the years, of further expulsions from parts of Our Eretz Yisrael, i.e. Yehuda, the Shomron (Judea and Samaria), the Jordan Valley, etc., of construction freezes, releases of terrorist killers with Jewish Blood-Stained hands, of possible surrender of parts of our eternal capital — Jerusalem, there seems to have been no collective rising up of indignation amongst the collective Am Yisrael, even among numbers of those who had previously expressed apologies and regrets to their former Gush Katif brethren.

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

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

The commentary is as follows;

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

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

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

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

As a result, B’nai Yisrael is often deceived by it’s own equivocal and often cruel rulers into feeling that all is helpless and casting doubts as to a Divine Being Who Runs the World. These evil rulers seek to subvert Torah, our history and our traditions to suit their own ends and self-interests. We view the deception of Israel’s current prime minister and Banana Republic government which is NOT strongly rooted in Torah and thus caves to the avodah zora of mortal man — to super-power pressure as an appropo example of evil governance.

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

Good Shabbos!

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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 Behar 5775; Thoughts on Shemittah, the Ultimate Sovereign of Eretz Yisrael, and Whether Israel Plays “Small-Ball” with Her Divinely Bequeathed Legacy to the Land?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, May 2nd, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshiyot HaShevua, Parshat Behar is being sponsored by Loren and Sora Deetza Spigelman of Ramat Beit Shemesh who wish a full, complete refuah shleima for Chaim Yechiel ben Malka (Rothman). To the Spigelman family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring 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 Behar 5775; Thoughts on Shemittah, the Ultimate Sovereign of Eretz Yisrael, and Whether Israel Plays “Small-Ball” with Her Divinely Bequeathed Legacy to the Land?

by Moshe Burt

The opening posukim of the previous three parshiyot read:

“And Hashem spoke to Moshe, after the death of the two sons of Aaron.” (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 16, posuk 1 — Parshat Acharei Mos)

“Hashem spoke to Moshe, Saying: Speak to the entire B’nei Yisrael…” (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 19, posuk 1 — Parshat Kedoshim)

“Hashem said to Moshe: Now declare this to the Kohanim…” (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 21, posuk 1 — Parshat Emor)

In each of these three parshiyot, Hashem speaks to Moshe in order to issue an instruction, be it to Aaron and his surviving sons about who may enter the Kadosh Kedoshim and when, or to the entire B’nei Yisrael to “Be Holy” — to emulate the Holiness of Hashem, or again to Aaron and his sons Elazar and Ithamar and to all of the Kohanim for all time regarding distancing themselves from tumah (impurity).

But in Parshat Behar, Hashem’s Torah adds extra emphasis in our parsha’s opening posukim by taking us back in time to relate what Hashem spoke to Moshe Rabbeinu on Har Sinai; namely the laws of the Shemittah year — the Sabbath year of rest, of restraining from planting and harvesting of crops of Eretz Yisrael for market.

Rashi asks a critical question on the very first posukim of our Parsha:

“Hashem spoke to Moshe on Har Sinai, saying: Speak to the B’nai Yisrael, and say to them: When you come to the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a Shabbat to Hashem.” (Parsha Behar, Vayikra Perek 25, posukim 1 & 2)

Rashi asks why the laws of Shemiah are singled out as having been given at Sinai. Were not all of the Mitzvot said at Sinai?” He answers that just as all of the Mitzvot; their general rules and their specifics were taught at Sinai, so too were the general rules and specifics regarding Shemittah taught at Sinai. Rashi then reasons that the posuk comes to teach us that every utterance said to Moshe, they were all from Sinai. (Rashi on Parsha Behar, Vayikra Perek 25, posuk 1)

The Hatam Sofer reiterates and expands on Rashi’s explanation, asking;

“Why did the Torah list all of the specific rules of Shemittah rather than doing so with any other commandment? The reason for doing this is because the laws of Shemittah prove that the Torah was given in Shemayim (heaven). Had the Torah been of mortal origin, how could any human promise, ‘I will command My blessing during the sixth year and it will provide produce for three years’? — something which is beyond the realm of the natural, and a way to test whether Torah is genuine.” (Torah Gems, Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, Parsha Behar, page 331)

Rav Shimson Rafael Hirsch, z”l, in the new Hirsch Chumash (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Daniel Haberman), page 877 offers commentary on Shemittah and how it differs from Shabbos:

The prohibition of work on Shabbos relates not only to the primary categories of prohibited work…, but also to their derivatives.

The difference between Sheviyit [the seventh year] and Shabbos hinges on their meaning. Shabbos expresses homage to Hashem as the Creator and King of the Universe. Man subordinates himself — and all of the powers at his disposal to control the world — to Hashem. Hence, all exercise of creative power over matter is considered Melacha [work] which is prohibited on Shabbos…. Sheviyit, on the other hand, expresses homage to Hashem as the Master of the Land of Israel, and for this purpose it suffices to subordinate the land to Hashem’s Rule. A man of Israel remembers that his land belongs to Hashem, and that he is merely a stranger or sojourner…; he then neither works his land nor gathers in its produce to ensure his livelihood… Thus, the soil of the entire country is stamped as ownerless, and for the whole year [it] declares before all that [Am] Yisrael is not the master of its land.

But it seems to this author that both Rashi’s and Hatam Sofer’s answers regarding Shemittah are not mutually exclusive. It would seem that not only is Shemittah HaKadosh Borchu’s vehicle for proving that ALL of Torah was given over on Har Sinai, that it was “a way to test whether Torah is genuine” leaving future disbelievers; such as Israel’s political, academic, judicial elitists and intelligencia who would give the land or any part of it away as just ordinary real estate — hard-pressed to disprove the fact that Torah was given to Moshe from Shemayim. But because they can’t disprove the authenticity of Torah from Shemayim, they’ve therefore created a short-circuit disconnecting our historical truth from their contemporary “reality.”

It seems to this author that the mitzvah of Shemittah, the Shabbat for the land, was given to in order to connect the Shabbos of B’nai Yisrael with the Shabbos year of the Land of Israel. In this way, it seems obvious to this author that Hashem has inextricably linked the two — the B’nai Yisrael and the Land of Israel — for all time. And in doing so, Hashem serves a reminder upon B’nai Yisrael that, He, our Creator is our ruler and that He is the sole and ultimate owner of Eretz Yisrael.

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin in “Growth Through Torah” (pages 291-292) cites Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz regarding Hashem’s Rulership of the B’nai Yisrael and Ownership of Eretz Yisrael:

Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz cites the Raavad (Introduction to Baalai Nefesh) that a fundamental principle behind the commandments is that: “they are to remind us constantly that we have a Creator who is our Ruler.” The Almighty gave us this earth, but after using the earth for some time a person can mistakenly think that the earth belongs to him, and can forget that the Almighty is the real owner. Therefore, in all that we do there are commandments that contain restrictions to show that the Creator is above us. …The Torah stresses… that the commandment to rest on the seventh year applies to the land which the Almighty gave us…. A commandment to refrain from work on the land in the seventh year [is] to help us internalized the awareness that He is the true boss of the earth.

This is also the lesson we learn from the weekly Shabbos… It shows a person that the Almighty is the One who gives him the power to work on the other days of the week…. a weekly reminder that we have a ruler who is our ultimate authority. (Daas Torah, Sefer Vayikra)

For us, the Land of Israel is a one-of-a-kind, exclusive, prime piece of real estate to be loved, embraced, possessed, tended and cared for. We see this precious, beautiful land, from Gush Katif to Chevron to the Banias, as a precious gift from G’d to his special bride, his unique people. We thank Hashem at every opportunity for giving us this glorious land and for the fact that we live here; in Jerusalem, in Chevron, in Tel Aviv, in Haifa, in Beersheva, in Tzfat, in Yehuda, the Shomron, the Golan and, not to mention — in Ramat Beit Shemesh.

It seems absolutely apparent that Hashem is also conveying to us — the observant, Torah world: to all perceptive enough and with sufficient emunah to hear, that there is but one place that Am Yehudi can call home and where a Jew can be complete; with its Divine links going back to Avraham Avinu’s destination on leaving his parental home, Am Yisrael’s destination upon going up from Egypt and emphatically spoken by Hashem to Moshe Rabbeinu at Har Sinai in the opening posukim of our parsha — Eretz Yisrael, with all else being temporary, transient.

As a testament to the inextricable link between Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael, an item is periodically reported in the media regarding a link between Shemittah, last summer’s Gaza war and a nace which prevented a major attack from a Gaza terror tunnel which could have caused immense casualties. Written by Rabbi Binny Freedman, this report tells:

…A group of ultra-Orthodox residents from Bnei Brak came to a field near the Gaza strip to harvest wheat for Pesach. Every summer they search for wheat ripe enough to harvest in August — when the sun dries the wheat most intensely as part of the process in producing shmura matzah (matzo made from wheat specially guarded against moisture to prevent it from rising and becoming unleavened). The wheat is then stored till its use in baking matzos in the spring.

Since this is a Shemittah (sabbatical) year, they needed to harvest enough for two years’ worth of matzos. At Kibbutz Sufa, right next to the border with Gaza, they found a large field sown in mid-January (apparently a rare occurrence) with 2,000 acres of green wheat — was exactly what they needed.

With Operation Protective Edge’s air campaign under way, they could see the pillars of smoke over Gaza, and the Israeli air force hitting back against the Hamas missile launchers, but were nonetheless able to harvest the wheat and load it onto trucks for the cleaning and storage process in the plant located further north.

Two days later, in what is now a well-documented event, 13 terrorists, armed to the teeth, emerged from a tunnel which led from the Gaza strip and opened into the wheat fields of Kibbutz Sufa. The terrorists had been counting on emerging unnoticed amidst the tall wheat stalks all of which had just been cut down by the Bnei Brak Matzoh bakers. As such, they were immediately spotted by the Israeli army and were prevented from launching what would have been a horrendous terrorist attack intended to hit nearby homes all at once.

It is sad indeed that there are some amongst the observant, Torah world who would separate from their fellow observant Jews, would coerce and disparage their brethren not exactly like them rather than outreaching to them, and who have not yet internalized that Hashem Has Brought Am Yisrael back to Our Home and has given us tools to facilitate His bringing about our eventual completeness and unity.

Finally, there was a particularly powerful Op-Ed piece which appeared on the Israel National News site about ten days ago authored by New York-based novelist Jack Engelhard entitled: Dear Israel — Stop Playing “Small Ball”. In the piece Engelhard writes:

I’m pretty sure it was Mark Twain who compared Jews to horses – if they knew their own strength we should be afraid to ride them.

That was in the days of Herzl before everything, or rather at the start of everything.

I am no Mark Twain but in my stays and service in Israel I noticed something of an inferiority complex among my brothers and sisters, or call it a grasshopper mentality that remains a legacy from our days in the Wilderness when the Spies misinformed us about “giants” who lived on the other side.

Compared to them, compared to the rest of the world, what are we? Yes, grasshoppers.

That attitude is to be expected, I suppose, because after 2,000 years of being granted no favors, Jews became conditioned to expect nothing and to be grateful for anything. At the time of the Partition Plan, the Jews said thank you, and thank you again even after British White Papers made Israel smaller and smaller.

Gratitude in excess can be hazardous. It’s led modern Israel into making lethal concessions from lopsided prisoner swaps to land giveaways that produced nothing except more disrespect, more hatred, more terror, more war, with Gaza the ultimate proof of what goes wrong when the Jewish State extends a generous hand to Palestinian Arabs.

Israel trained itself to accept abasement and unlike the nations, only Israel is to desist from pride and glory.

But times have changed, dramatically. Who imagined that one day Israel would sell oil to the Arabs? Who imagined that one day Arab eyes would turn to Israel for help?

That day is here, and as reported by the BCN network, Egyptian TV personality Tawfik Okasha called Netanyahu “our dear friend” and pleaded with Israel to take out the Bushehr Nuclear Reactor. “Put your trust in God and bomb it,” Okasha demanded. “We are with you and if you need fuel for the jets, we will give it to you.”

That is Egypt talking but it can just as well be Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States or whatever regional sovereignty suffers from the terror of ISIS and Iran.

Like it or not, Israel is the dominant military power in the region. Indeed, it is Israel that has America’s back.

The dominoes keep falling and to mention Libya and Yemen is only to begin. Kings quake at the coming of al-Qaeda, more ISIS, more Muslim Brotherhood. It is Arab against Arab, tribe against tribe, hundreds of thousands taken to slaughter, millions uprooted. There is chaos. There are no limits. There are no borders.

… The duty of greatness has been thrust upon the Jewish State. Let no politician waste it away.

Engelhard’s portrayal of today’s events would seem to indicate that a substantial part of Middle East Arabia looks to Israel with respect and awe as THE preeminent military/political power, in a way not seen since the period immediately following the Six Day War. Although Engelhard never mentions HaKadosh Borchu, the ultimate sovereign ruler of all, for all who are Avadim Hashem, this piece points out the obvious; how Hashem continues to maneuver events to validate the connection of Am Yehudi and Shabbos, Shemittah and the Jews’ Divine sovereign right and legacy to Eretz Yisrael. If only we would but see, intellectualize Hashem’s control of events and act accordingly on these signs: politically, militarily, diplomatically, and toward each other.

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

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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 Emor 5775: The Kohanim: Paradigm of Spiritual Unity, Constancy of Service, Chessed, Truth Purity — for Am Yisrael, and All Mankind

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, April 25th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Emor is being co-sponsored by R’ Mordechai & Gila Bernstein who wish a full, complete refuah shleima for Chaim Yechiel ben Malka (Rothman), and Aron and Vered Cohen of Ramat Beit Shemesh. The Cohens dedicate their co-sponsorship Lilui Nishmas Shmuel Avraham ben David, Guy Shalem ben Yehudah and Yitzchak ben Eza. To the Bernstein and Cohen families, 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 Emor 5775: The Kohanim: Paradigm of Spiritual Unity, Constancy of Service, Chessed, Truth Purity — for Am Yisrael, and All Mankind

by Moshe Burt

The positioning in Torah of our Parsha Emor, following last week’s Parsha Kedoshim gives rise to thought and contemplation.

In the previous 2 twin Parshas; Acharei Mos and Kedoshim, and Tazria and Metzora before them, we learn about the Kohen as the only one Divinely invested with ruling as to Tumah or Ta’Hara regarding ones’ skin, hair, clothing or homes, as well as with being the vehicle for Yom Kippur avodah, on behalf of the nation, in the Kadosh Kedoshim and as the model, the paradigm of the Darchim for the entire B’nai Yisrael to emulate as a model for all mankind.

In Parsha Emor, we learn how the Avodah, the Service of the Kohanim necessitated them “…to maintain an especially high standard of purity and perfection.” (L’lmod L’Lamed, Rabbi Mordechai Katz, Parsha Emor, page 119)

Shem Mishmuel (Sefer Shem Mishmuel, Parsha Emor, pages 273-275) explains the function of the Kohen and the manifestation of his Kedusha in this way:

“The job of the Kohen is to join the physical world to it’s spiritual counterpart.” He performs the Avodah in the Beit HaMikdash, the place where heaven and earth meet. He brings Hashem’s fire upon the Mizbei’ach (altar) in a service which joins the physical earth to Hashem.

It bears repeating here that joining, unifying is the very essence of the Kohen. It’s worth repeating a citing of Rabbi Zelig Pliskin in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” (page 253) from Parshat Tazria, where he cites the Rabbi of Alexander who posits as the reason why, when one suspected an affliction, with tzara’as, that he is mandated by Torah, by halacha, to go to a Kohen, rather than 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.” Whenever 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.”

Shem Mishmuel (Sefer Shem Mishmuel, Parsha Emor, pages 273-275) continues by noting that the co-existence of physical and spiritual is broken by the tumah (defilement) associated with death. Therefore, it is inappropriate for a Kohen to come into contact with death as death rips apart the unity of the physical and spiritual. He adds, in the name of the Arizal, that prior to death, a person is attacked by impure forces:

“The holy soul which rests within a person can’t bear to be connected with those forces and departs from the body to alleviate it’s discomfort. This is the moment of death. The tumah induces a split between the body and soul which is totally opposite of the Kohen’s role as a unifier or ‘joiner.’”

In keeping with this track of thought, this author recently lost a parent — my Mother on 11 April, 2015, 22 Nissan 5775, one month short of 92 years. To boil down to a few words, the attributes of my Mother, a bat Kohen, those words would match the attributes of Aaron HaKohen: constancy of service, kindness, humility, efficiency, total trustworthiness and the ability to elicit the implicit trust of others.

She was my Father’s help-mate, and they both made one neshama — the proverbial melding of two people bonding as one soul, faithfully, constantly for all of the seventy-plus years of their marriage. Aside from hospitalizations for injuries, childbirths and surgical procedures over the years,and the couple of trips she made with me, without my Dad, to Montreal to visit her parents, siblings, cousins, I cannot recall a day, ever, in their marriage when my parents were apart.

In addition to being the pillar of keeping house, and seeing to a son’s educational needs, both secular and Jewish, my Mother worked outside of the house as a secretary/bookkeeper, respectively for two companies in the plumbing supply field. She was active in a local Hadassah chapter in Philadelphia, attaining it’s presidency which she held for a couple of years.

My Mother was inward, family-oriented beyond just my Father and I, and two sets of my grandparents and siblings from both families. She was loved by all.

With the knowledge imparted by Shem Mishmuel, and a paradigm of an Aishet Chayil bat Kohen, we gain deeper insight as to why it is the Kohen, rather than a Talmud Chacham, who rules as to tumah or tohar in cases of tzara’as as we previously learned in Parshas Tazria/Metzora.

Shem Mishmuel extends the Kohen’s attribute of being a unifier or a “joiner” even to the subject of prohibited Kohanic marriages and quotes Rabbi Akiva;

“A man and a woman, if they so merit, the divine presence rests between them: if they do not merit, fire consumes them.” (Sotah 17a)

“The Divine presence rested between them” — That was my parents!

Further, Shem Mishmuel relates that Chazal tell us that when a couple divorces, the power of divine unity is removed from them leaving both of them with a sense of division and disunity:

“Thus a divorced woman is no longer in a spiritual position to marry a Kohen whose very being demands contact with only unifying forces. For a divorcee to have a relationship with a Kohen would frustrate the Kohen’s personal mission.”

The divorcee has lost the innate ability to be solely unified with one person and thus may not marry a Kohen.

And so, the function of the Kohen in relationship to his fellow Jews is meant to be the paradigm of how the Jews are meant to relate to the nations as a light unto the world. The point is that the Kohanim are meant to be a paradigm, to set an example for all of B’nai Yisrael regarding derech, midos, chessed to one’s brothers — one’s fellow Jews, and of Avodat Hashem.

It is for these reasons that the Kohen is held to a higher level of behavior, morality and spiritual purity than the rest of the Jewish people. This higher level reflects itself in restrictions, such as to the Kohen’s exposure to tumah (impurity), i.e. the immediate relatives (wife, offspring, siblings and parents, or an unattended Jewish corpse) being the only ones for which the Kohen’s priestly responsibility is superseded by responsibility as a family member or human being to care for the burial of the deceased. This same higher level is reflected in restrictions as to whom the Kohen is permitted to marry, i.e. divorced women, women who converted to Judaism, women of Jewish mother/gentile father and women with the status of Chalutza (widowed woman who bore no offspring to their now-deceased husband) are all denied halachically to the Kohen. The Kohen Godol also has the further restriction that he may only wed a virgin.

One manifestation of this higher level is reflected in the halacha that when there is a Beit Hamikdash, a serving Kohen, were he to seek divorce from his wife, would have to go through a process: Get Mikushar (a higher level of Jewish divorce document than is now in use). The Get Mikushar process, with its various other halacic requirements, is meant as an impediment to divorce designed to negate frivolous, momentary anger-induced divorce proceedings by a Kohen and meant bring about thoughtful contemplation as to whether or not to divorce.

The Get Mikushar is written in a special way, is folded three ways, is bounded and must have signatures of three witnesses, rather than the two witnesses signatures needed on the Get document used by a Beit Din for Gittin (plural for Get) today. (Mishnayot Baba Basra — Artscroll Mishna Series, Perek 10, Mishnayot 1 and 2, pages 281-290)

Other manifestations of this higher level relate exclusively to the Kohen Godol. Sefer Vayikra, Perek 16, posuk 6 states regarding the Kohen Godol’s service in the Kodosh Kadoshim on Yom Kippur:

“And he shall make atonement for himself and his house…”

Mishnayot Yoma — Artscroll Mishna Series, Perek 1, Mishna 1, pages 5-7 state:

‘His house’ — that is his wife.

This means that a stand-by wife is designated for the Kohen Godol in event that his current wife dies, that he satisfy halacha that he be married such as to enable him to atone for his household and be able to serve in the Kodosh Kadoshim on Yom Kippur on behalf of B’nei Yisrael.

The above Mishna also states:

“Seven days before Yom Kippur, the Kohen Godol is sequestered from his house… and they prepare another Kohen as his substitute, lest he [the Kohen Godol] become disqualified due to seminal emission or by [other] tumah [contamination].”

This author noted in a previous year’s Parshiyot Achrei Mos/Kedoshim:

There is a connection between the mido of loving kindness to our brethren and the role of the Kohen Godol as a unifier and as a national emissary. The Kohen’s very essence is the paradigm of unity and of the concept of “V’ohavta L’rei’acha Komochah” in which we all unify as one.

There is a citing to illustrate this. R’ Hirsch, z’l in the new Hirsch Chumash (on Sefer Vayikra, published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Rabbi Daniel Haberman) comments on the opening of Parsha Sh’mini that for seven days, Aaron and his sons were instructed regarding the service in the Mishkan, and on the eighth day the Kohanim were consecrated to Hashem. But just as the Kohen is Hashem’s emissary to the B’nai Yisrael, so too, as Rav Chaim Zev Malinowitz said in …[a] drash, that there must be both a Shabbos and a full week of life for a newly-born male before Bris Milah is performed on him on the eighth day. The newly born male is thus consecrated to Hashem upon his Bris, just as Aaron and his sons, the Kohanim were consecrated to Hashem upon completion of their seven days of training. And so, the Jews are the “light unto the nations”, consecrated to Hashem, His Emissaries to the world, just as the Kohanim are Hashem’s Emissaries to all of Klal Yisrael.

If the B’nai Yisrael were to only glean from the Kohen, were to glean from paradigms of the righteous: constancy of service, kindness, humility, efficiency, the total honesty so as to elicit the implicit trust of others — whether or not they happen to be frum to what degree of frumkiet, and apply a higher level of morality and the unity of loving kindness to our brethren, as to ourselves, corrupt governance in Israel would cease to exist, would be turned upside down and replaced by Torah governance. And then, B’ezrat Hashem,we’ll be zocha to fulfill our assigned mission, to serve as a light, a model to the nations of Hashem’s blueprint for creation and how a G’dly Nation acts on Its Land.

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

Good Shabbos!

Baruch Dayan Emet: Hespid for my Mother Claire Burt: Chaya bat Zalman

Filed under: News Reports on Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Niferet 11 April, 2015, 22 Nissan 5775

I’ve learned, and written a great deal about Aaron HaKohen Godol’s constancy of service in the Mishkan, the Ohel Mo’ed, the Tent of Meeting in Bamidbar, the desert (the Mishkan being the forerunner of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem built by King Solomon) in the forty years following the Yetziyot Mitzrayim, the liberation of the Jews from bondage in Egypt.

If I were to boil down to a few words, the attributes of my Mother, a bat Kohen, those words would match the attributes of Aaron HaKohen: constancy of service, kindness, humility, efficiency, the ability to elicit the implicit trust of others.

Remembering back decades, I recall that my Mother was often told by my Grandmother, my Father’s Mother, that she considered my Mother more like a daughter than a daughter-in-law. And my Grandparents Burt, for decades, entrusted to my Mother the writing of checks and keeping their checkbook when the family bills needed to be paid.

She was my Father’s help-mate, and they both made one neshama — the proverbial melding of two people bonding as one soul, faithfully, constantly for all of the seventy-plus years of their marriage. Aside from hospitalizations for injuries, childbirths and surgical procedures over the years, the few times when my Father couldn’t accompany us on trips to Montreal for Simchas due to his having to work, or a few trips my Mother took with her close friend, our cousin Bea Horowitz, I cannot recall a day, ever, in their marriage when my parents were apart. There was never a “Claire, I have to go out of town on business for a few days” on any such thing.

I’ve told over numerous times during the Shiva period how my parents met; how my Father was a gunnery instructor in what was then known as the “Army Air Corps”, and stationed in Newfoundland in either 1943 or 1944. He met up with another Yid, Dudi, from Montreal, Quebec, Canada– my Mother’s cousin. Dudi connected them and they began corresponding. Eventually they met and later married in Philadelphia on January 7, 1945, 22 Chodesh Tevet, 5705.

My Mother was protective, perhaps over-protective of me as I grew up. I guess it could be expected, for she bore inner, emotional scars from her earliest childhood — her birth-Mother passing away in childbirth with another child, when my Mother was but two years old, nearly losing my Father, mere days after their wedding when their honeymoon 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, the birth nine months later of 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. In fact, it was only once she took the daughter to a doctor in Montreal, that the child was diagnosed as having Tay Sachs. B’H, later in life, I was tested and found not to be a carrier of the gene.

In my early childhood years in a North Philly post-World War 2 community, we lived at 10th and Butler St., a corner house with a store front — my parents together operated a Mom ‘n Pop grocery store for about 6 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.

As I grew to be a teenager, I found it embarrassing when, on occasion when I’d be out too late with friends, the calls around the neighborhood would begin until I returned home. But, despite my embarrassment, the feedback I heard about, from other parents, was of admiration for my Mother.

Here, I want to add what I consider a cute anecdote about my Mother: I always knew my Mother had a fixation with concern about their checkbook and their checking account balance, but during a discussion between my uncle Stanley and I in November, my uncle related to me about my Mother’s fixation by using the term “anal” regarding her concern for their checkbook and maintaining the checkbook balance up-to-date, making sure that all checks and deposits were entered, balance footed down, etc.

This anecdote is indicative of the attention my Mother paid to details. I have inherited this mido, this trait of attentiveness to detail, often to a fault. But having this attribute has benefited me through the years, at work as an accountant and later a controller, with chesed projects such as The Sefer Torah Recycling Network, or my making aliyah to Eretz Yisrael in 1999, and most recently, factoring into my decision-making during my Mother’s major medical crisis in mid-September to October, 2014 regarding bringing my Mother to Vitas Hospice care who treated her as she remained with my Father at my parents’ assisted living facility, and saw to my Mother’s comfort.

My Mother’s nurturing was a crucial factor of my Jewish/Israel consciousness from my earliest cognizance in life. I’m proud of the fact that in my nearly 67 years, there has always been an Israel — in Eretz Yisrael. My Mother saw to assuring my Jewish identity by way of employing a Hebrew tutor for me at seven or eight years old (I don’t remember which year) who taught me the alef/bet — block and cursive, gave me initial lessons in reading, taught me Birkat HaTorah –the Brachot when called to the Torah for an Aliyah and more. My Mother also saw to sending me for two years to an afternoon, after-school Hebrew school at Gratz College, a school then highly regarded in conservative Jewish circles in Philadelphia.

Regarding Gratz College, it gave me a firmer basis in some Jewish fundamentals, but after a couple of years, and with our family moving from North Philly to the Northeast, to 1825 Carwithan St., it became difficult for my parents to continue paying the tuition costs, and so I felt that it wasn’t right for me to continue. And so, my Mother saw to it that I enroll in a Hebrew school at a synagogue close to home to learn what was needed for my Bar Mitzvah.

In addition to being the pillar of keeping house, my Mother worked outside of the house as a secretary/bookkeeper for two companies in the plumbing supply field. She was active in a local Hadassah chapter in Philadelphia, attaining it’s presidency which she held for a couple of years.

My Mother was inward, family-oriented beyond just my Father and I, and two sets of my grandparents and siblings from both families. She was a regular at the monthly cousins club and at other family events in Philadelphia and was loved by all.

She, and my Father instilled in me a sense of values and morality based in Jewish ways which has manifested in my adult life.

A little over seven months ago, last September and early October, my Mother was seriously ill, and it was thought that the end was near. But she rallied miraculously, thanks to Hashem’s kindness in giving us more time with her. And sincere, heartfelt thanks go out for the limitless kindnesses of Eric Weitkamp and his staff — Freedom Partners of South Florida, of the team of nurses and aides at “The Bridge” — my parents’ assisted living facility, and to the team at Vitas Hospice.

I know that I speak for my Father, and for my Mother’s siblings; Ruth Meides, Stanley Schwartz and Shirley Blum in expressing that my Mother: Chaya bat Zalman merits by her many Meisim Tovim, her many good and kind ways and acts in life — one month short of 92 years, an Aliyah — a going up directly to Shemayim. Amen!

Parshiyot Acharei Mos, Kedoshim 5775: The Kohen Gadol: Paradigm for B’nai Yisrael, as a Paradigm for all Mankind

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, April 18th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshiyot HaShevua, Parshiyot Acharei Mos/Kedoshim is being sponsored by David and Julie Morris of Ramat Beit Shemesh Lilui Nishmas theYarhtzeit of Julie’s Mother’s Yahrtzeit Shulamit Devorah bat Rav Shimshon Raphael z”l, for the recent passing of Chaya bat Zalman and for Refuah Shlaima L’Cholei Yisrael. 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
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Parshiyot Acharei Mos, Kedoshim 5775: The Kohen Gadol: Paradigm for B’nai Yisrael, as a Paradigm for all Mankind

by Moshe Burt

Parshiyot Acharei Mos and Kedoshim are another of what we baseball fans refer to as a “doubleheader” parshat. But these two parshiyot, together, express a point — the Kohen as a paradigm of the middot and attributes for the Jews to emulate as Hashem’s chosen nation. And 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 white linen tunic and white linen tunic trousers worn when entering the Kodosh Kedoshim on Yom Kippur and his normal gold attire worn during his service at all other times of the year.

He 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 Gadol was THE paradigm, the role model for every subsequent Kohen Gadol to emulate in order that the masses of Am Yisrael throughout the generations would follow suit, and l’chat chila (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 which 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 youself.

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

Good Shabbos! Chodesh Tov!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshiyot Tazria, Metzora 5775: Tzara’as, the Metzora and the “Meeting Halfway” Between Kohen and Metzora

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Sunday, April 12th, 2015 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Parshiyot HaShevua Tazria, Metzora is being sponsored by Steven and Debra Glanz of Ramat Beit Shemesh and dedicated for a speedy, full and complete Refuah Shlaima for Chaim Yechiel ben Malka (Rothman). 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 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 5775: Tzara’as, the Metzora and the “Meeting Halfway” Between Kohen and Metzora

by Moshe Burt

Our twin Parshiyot Tazria and Metzora discuss the sins of slander, gossip and other forms of speaking against or shaming another, the resultant affliction and rectification.

Rabbi Moshe Weissman, in his sefer “The Midrash Says”, cites R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch who, in turn, cites Sforno (who was a physician) in explaining tzara’as and differentiating it from the natural disease of leprosy:

The natural disease begins with a swelling of the skin which causes it to darken in color, whereas tzara’as caused no swellings and the affected areas turned white.

The most malicious type of natural leprosy known, … according to Torah law, does not render anyone tamay (impure) at all.

Torah informs that one so contaminated by tzara’as is known as a Metzora. (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 14, posuk 2)

R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z’l defines Metzora in the new Hirsch Chumash (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Daniel Haberman, page 420):

Metzora, … Motziya rah [transliteration of the 2 words which form Metzora], a slander.

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.”

The Chafetz Chayim, R’ Yisrael Meir HaKohen, in his sefer “The Concise Book of Mitzvot”, lists as Negative Commandments #77 and #79 (pages 162-169) and comments citing sources:

#77/ It is a negative commandment not to tell anyone things that another person said against him.

#79/ It is a negative commandment not to shame one’s fellow man.

The Sages of blessed memory taught (Talmud Yerushalmi, Pe’ah i, See Rambam, Yad Hilchot de’ot vii 3): For three transgressions punishment is exacted from a person in this world, and he has no share in the world-to-come: iddolatry, incest or adultery and bloodshed. But evil gossip is equal in seriousness to them all…. And our Sages of blessed memory said, too (Devarim Rabbah, v 10): Evil gossip kills three; the one who tells it, the one who accepts it, and the one about whom it is told….

R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z’l provides commentary in the new Hirsch Chumash 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 [Torah laws]. 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.

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 loving kindness, 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.

We learn in Parshat Tazria that unity, between individual Jews, as well as on a national level, was role of the Kohen (Priest), whose very essence and “inherent trait throughout the generations” has been unity. (Rabbi Zelig Pliskin in “Growth Through Torah”, page 253 citing the Rabbi of Alexander).

Bearing in mind this inherent trait which, l’chatchila, permeates the Kohen, our Parshat Metzora opens with two seemingly contradictory instructions given by Hashem to Moshe (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 14, posukim 2-3):

“This shall be the law of the metzora on the day of his purification; He shall be brought to the Kohen. The Kohen shall go forth to the outside of the camp; the Kohen shall look, and behold! — the tzaraas affliction had been healed from the metzora.”

Basically, in posuk 2, we are informed that upon the metzora’s teshuvah — “…the change [which] takes place within his mind and heart”

(Artscroll Stone Chumash commentary citing R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z’l on Sefer Vayikra, Perek 14, posuk 2) during his solitary dwelling outside the camp, that “…Hashem Who afflicted him will remove the mark [the nega'im -- the affliction] of his degradation and he can begin the process of return.” (ibid)

It would seem to this author that while the metzora, seemingly healed, would have to be brought to the Kohen, that the Kohen has the final call as to whether the afflicted has healed, has indeed purified himself. Only once the metzora is deemed as purified, can he re-enter the camp.

Seemingly, for that reason, the Kohen must come to the metzora, therefore leaving the camp.

Yehuda Nachshoni, in “Studies in the Weekly Parsha” (pages 733-734) cites S’forno and other commentators with deeper meaning regarding the healed metzora being brought to the Kohen and the Kohen going out of the camp to the metzora:

S’forno gives… basis for a new halachic insight. Not only did the Torah require the Kohen to go out to the metzora, it also required the metzora to go out to the Kohen. Thus, the Torah requires the metzora to come to the nearest possible place so that the Kohen should not have to travel a great distance. The metzora is to be brought to the closest point outside the camp so that the Kohen can see him without excessive effort.

The Gaon of Lutzk, in his Oznayim LeTorah explains a reason for this commandment. One cause of nega’im is pride. If the Kohen would go to the metzora, the latter would be conceited by that fact. Therefore he has to come to the Kohen.

Sifsei Kohen takes the exact opposite approach. The Kohen must go out to the metzora to show him respect. This is because the metzora who was sent out of the camp was publicly humiliated; now that he has been healed, he is entitled to be shown respect in compensation. It is for that reason that the Kohen goes out to him.

Ohel Yaakov explains that the stress on “He will be brought out to the Kohen” is so that the metzora will learn an ethical lesson in realizing that life and death are in the power of the tongue. The Kohen takes him out of his tumah through the word of his mouth. He does not become tohar [pure] until the Kohen says the word “tohar.” This is measure for measure, for he [the metzora] became tamei because of his words.

It does seem to this author that this “meeting halfway” between the Kohen and metzora strikes a balance between showing kavod (respect) for one who has seen the error of his ways and has done teshuvah, while not becoming conceited or arrogant as a result of the Kohen coming to him. This “meeting halfway” seems to provide practical contemporary lessons in various arenas among the diverse sectors of observant Jews in Israel.

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

Good Shabbos!
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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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