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

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







Shalom Friends;

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

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat Vayeitzei 5777: Mitzvot as Actions, and a Paradigm of the Lengths Travelled to Perform Them

by Moshe Burt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

R’ Leibowitz continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good Shabbos!
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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 Toldos 5777: On the Tefillot of Yitzchak and Rivka for Offspring

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


Shalom Friends;

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

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat Toldos 5777: On the Tefillot of Yitzchak and Rivka for Offspring

by Moshe Burt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chodesh Tov and Good Shabbos!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Chayei Sarah 5777: Another Take on Sarah Imeinu’s Age Upon Passing

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, November 19th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Chayei Sarah is being sponsored by Eliyahu and Shuli Gherman and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh in honor of the marriage of their daughter Shifra to Yosef Orlian. To the Gherman family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat Chayei Sarah 5777: Another Take on Sarah Imeinu’s Age Upon Passing

by Moshe Burt

Once again, as in previous vorts on Parshat Sarah, this author discusses our Parsha’s opening posuk regarding Sarah Imeinu’s age upon her death:

“Sarah’s lifetime was one hundred years, twenty years, and seven years: the years of Sarah’s life.” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 23, posuk 1)

However, this time a different perspective is expressed.

In previous vorts on Parshat Sarah, this author cited the Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash, Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z”l in the “New Hirsch Chumash”, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin in his sefer “Growth through Torah” and Rabbi Mordechai Katz, in his sefer “L’il Mod U’lamed” regarding the uniqueness of the three periods of Sarah Imeinu’s life as noted below.

Rabbi Artscroll, in the large blue Stone Edition Chumash, page 107, cites Rashi’s explanation of this 1st posuk:

Rashi explains that the repetition of years divides Sarah’s life into three periods, each with its own uniqueness [and each period shared the particular characteristics of its neighbor]. At a hundred, she was as sinless as a twenty-year-old, for until the age of twenty, a person does not suffer Heavenly punishment. And at twenty, she still had the wholesome beauty of a seven year old, who does not use cosmetics and whose beauty is natural (Chizkuni).

Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z”l, provides further commentary on Rashi’s division of Sarah Imeinu’s life into three periods in the “New Hirsch Chumash” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 23, posuk1, page 500):

These three figures represent the entire course of human life: childhood, young adulthood and complete old age. A life of spiritual and moral perfection cannot be summed up better than by saying that the person was old in his old age, mature in his prime, and a child in his childhood…. He retains all of the spiritual and moral attainments of his past and takes them with him into the future.

Thus, Sarah took the beauty of childhood into young adulthood, and she retained the innocence of a woman of twenty all the days of her life.

All of these years together are called Chayei Sarah; she lived in all of them. All of the 127 years of her life were chayim, vital and joyful life, good and meaningful life, and there was not a moment of it she would have preferred not to have lived.

….Life is not measured by the span of time that is given us in this world: [Brachot 18a], they go to ongoing development that continues forever.

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer, “Growth Through Torah” (page 52) provides more insight into the character of Sarah Imeinu:

…The Torah ideal is to be aware that the purpose of… [one's] life is to perfect… [one's] character and every life situation is an opportunity for growth. Sarah mastered this level of consciousness. Therefore at the end of her life, which was constantly devoted to growth, it could be said about her that all her years were good.

Rabbi Mordechai Katz, in his sefer L’il Mod U’lamed (pages 34-35) writes of Sarah Imeinu:

…Sarah had lived a full and rewarding life. She had accomplished much during her stay on earth and her good deeds were innumerable. She had aided Avraham with his devotion to Chesed by opening her house to as many guests as possible and by taking care of all their needs. Because of her outstanding righteousness, Hashem bestowed upon her special personal qualities. In fact, we are told that in terms of prophesy she was even greater than her husband Avraham.

This author puzzled, in development of this year’s vort, regarding the parallel between the 127 years of Sarah Imeinu’s life and the 127 provinces ruled by Achashveirosh and his Queen Esther. A citing from Aharon Yaakov Greenberg’s “Torah Gems” (pages 178-179) provides a perspective on this parallel:

R’ Akiva…. said: “Why was Esther given rule over 127 provinces? (We are told in Esther that Achashveirosh was king over that many provinces.) It is fitting that Esther, who was a descendant of Sarah, who lived 127 years, should rule over 127 provinces.” (Breish’t Rabbah 58) The answer is that in R’ Akiva’s generation…. the masses had come
to despair, as they saw no end to their suffering and did not know why they had suffered this terrible fate. In fact, their belief in reward and punishment had become weak. R’ Akiva… wished to comfort… and encourage them, and to arouse them to observe the commandments. He therefore told them that reward and punishment do not necessarily follow immediately and sometimes many generations pass until either comes about. This is what he hinted at in comparing Sarah and Esther, namely that the reward for Sarah’s good deeds came in Esther’s generation, when Esther ruled over 127 provinces. (Yalkut Yehudah)

Perhaps the above parallel can serve as a paradigm for our generations, both here in Eretz Yisrael and throughout the rest of the Jewish world, for renewed belief in and understanding of reward and punishment.

Avraham Avinu was high profile and “bigger than life” doing kiruv and chessed — the Gadol HaDor of his generations, and Sarah was his support, behind the scenes — concealed, yet the inspiration and support behind his efforts. One could say that Sarah Imeinu was the wind beneath Avraham Avinu’s proverbial wings, as was the title to that classic song “Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler.

Thus it would seem that Sarah Imeinu’s attributes inspired the efforts and costs expended by Avraham Avinu to acquire the Ma’arot HaMachpela — later the burial place of Avraham Aveinu himself, as well as Yitzchak Avinu and Rivka Imeinu and Yaakov and Leah.

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

Good Shabbos!
———————————————————
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 Vayeira 5777: Hashem’s Bikur Cholim, Avraham’s Hochnasat Orchim — Models for Contemporary Israel

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Sunday, November 13th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat HaShevua, Vayeira is sponsored by Yossie and Ester Sussman and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh who would like to dedicate this Parshat HaShevua to “a fellow named Moshe Burt: May HaKodosh Borchu bentch him with a happy and healthy year.” To the Sussman family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parsha Vayeira 5777: Hashem’s Bikur Cholim, Avraham’s Hochnasat Orchim — Models for Contemporary Israel

by Moshe Burt

Our Parsha opens with Hashem, as we understand, visiting Avraham Avinu on the 3rd day after Bris Milah, when Avraham was at the height of his pain following the circumcision:

“And Hashem appeared to him beneath the trees of Mamre, as he was sitting before the door of his tent in the heat of the day.” (Translation rendered by “The New Hirsch Chumash,” Sefer Breish’t, Perek 18, posuk 1)

Rashi indicates, “to inquire about his welfare.” (Metsuda Linear Chumash rendering of Rashi on Perek 18, posuk 1)

It’s not like Hashem needed to pay a visit to ascertain Avraham’s actual condition. Hashem is the Creator, The Master, The Ruler over the world who knows and is aware of everything. But Hashem knew that Avraham had built his life around knowing, and following the ways of his Creator and thus, it seems to this author, Hashem’s visit was to convey to Avraham His Love and Care. And so, as Hashem visited with Avraham, inquiring as to his well-being, Avraham pardoned himself from Hashem when he spotted travelers, inviting them into his tent.

Many of our S’forim and Chumashim seem to downplay the impact of the Bikur Cholim aspect of Hashem (as we understand), visiting Avraham Avinu, for the seemingly larger contexts of showing him honor for having done Bris Milah to himself, for his Hochnasat Orchim (his kindness and hospitality) toward his three guests (the Molochim — Angels) and the respective missions of the Molochim:

…Michael, who informed Avraham that Sarah would have a son; Gavriel, who overturned Sodom; and Raphael, who healed Avraham and saved Lot (Rashi, as explained by Gur Aryeh). The last two tasks, healing Avraham and saving Lot, constituted a single mission because they were for the sake of rescue. (Artscroll Chumash commentary of Perek 18, posuk 2 regarding Avraham’s sighting of “three men… standing over him.”)

But the Artscroll Kleinman Edition of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Siman 193 provides a lengthy exposition on the mitzvot of Bikur Cholim. The Siman opens with a fuller explanation of the opening posuk (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 18, posuk 1) of Vayeira (Siman 193.1, page 350):

…We find that the Holy One,Blessed is He, that He visits the sick as the sages of blessed memory expounded (Sotah 14a) upon the… verse: “Hashem appeared to [Avraham] in the fields of Mamre…”; this teaches that Hashem came to him in order to visit the sick.

There is a note on the above explanation which states:

…. We are enjoined to emulate Hashem and therefore we are obligated to visit the sick as well. (Siman 193.1, page 350).Siman 193.3 (Artscroll Kleinman Edition of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, page 352) provides essential components for visiting the sick:

… Examine the needs of the ill person and to see what he needs to be done for him; to enable the ill person to find comfort in the company of his friends; and also for the visitor to think about the ill person and pray for Divine mercy for him.

From these events contained in the first five posukim of our Parshat, we learn and gain insight both from Hashem as to the Mitzvah of Bikur Cholim; showing, caring, giving strength and encouragement to the ill by visiting and caring about them, and from Avraham Avinu as to the Mitzvah of Hachnasat Orchim; inviting guests into one’s home, as well as tefillah: as vehicles for emulating, connecting with and coming close to Hashem.

Our Parshat’s next posukim (Translation rendered in the Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer Breish’t, Perek 18, posukim 2-5) detail Avraham’s encounter with his guests, the Molochim, as he sat at his tent’s entrance, in the heat of the day, while in the worst of pain from his Bris Milah:

“He lifted his eyes and saw: And behold! three men were standing over him. He perceived, so he ran toward them and bowed toward the ground. And he said, ‘My Lord [to Hashem], if I find favor in your eyes, please pass not away from Your servant.’” “Let some water be brought and wash your feet, and recline beneath the tree. I will fetch a morsel of bread that you sustain yourselves…” They said, “Do so, just as you have said.”

The Artscroll Stone Chumash adds these comments on Sefer Breish’t, Perek 18, posukim 2-5 (page 79):

Avraham’s action [in leaving Hashem to care for his guests] shows that “hospitality to wayfarers is greater than receiving the Divine Presence.” (Shevuos 35b; Shabbos 127a)

“A morsel of bread.” From this understated, modest description of the sumptuous meal he was about to serve, the Talmud derives that “the righteous say little and do much.” (Bava Metzia 87a)

As a recipient of Bikur Cholim, this author can testify to this mitzvah’s profound affects on both the healing process and on the mental mindset of the recipient of this kindness. And this author, as a single and a senior, has experienced Hochnasat Orchim, on Shabbos and Yom Tov as well as other times in between, at the highest levels from chaverim (friends) in Ramat Beit Shemesh.

As stated in previous vorts, this author makes no claims to be a Talmud Chacham or a great Torah scholar of any note, but just a stam, poshut observant Jew, perhaps not deserving of any special treatment such as the likes of the honor shown by Hashem in visiting Avraham to lift his spirits in his time of great pain.

But the kindnesses shown, in emulation of Hashem’s Bikur Cholim model, Avraham Avinu’s paradigm of Hochnasat Orchim; whether during a Shiva (mourning period afterr loss of a close loved one), or the multitudes of calls and visits of their fellows during hospitalizations or before and after surgeries and upon returning home by their Ramat Beit Shemesh chaverim, i.e. the preparation of meals and other kindnesses, which immeasureably aid the healing process and testified, that the Avul, the Choleh, that the lone individual, etc. is not alone. These kindnesses shown repeatedly to myriads of times towards their fellows in need, are surely emulations of both Hashem and of Avraham Avinu.

The Ramat Beit Shemesh community is a paradigm manifestation of both Hashem’s Bikur Cholim model, as well as Avraham Avinu’s paradigm of warmth and Hochnasat Orchim, and thus, is a model for emulation by Jews and kehillot everywhere toward their fellow Jews.

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

Good Shabbos!

———————————————————
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 Lech Lecha 5777: Avraham Avinu’s Aliyah and Our Times Compelling the Jews’ En-Masse Return Home to Eretz Yisrael

Filed under: News Reports on Friday, November 4th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat HaShevua, Lech Lecha is sponsored by Yirmi and Rochelle Gold and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh who dedicate this vort to all Olim who now live in Eretz Yisrael. To the Gold family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat Lech Lecha 5777: Avraham Avinu’s Aliyah and Our Times Compelling the Jews’ En-Masse Return Home to Eretz Yisrael

by Moshe Burt

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

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

We learn that Avraham Avinu derived, on his own, the existence of The Supreme Creator and King. We may surmise that he heard a cerebral Divine message.

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s interesting that Torah, after tracing the generations of the lineage of Shem, grandson of No’ach, records in the next to the last posuk of Parshat No’ach:

“Terach took Avram, his son and Lot, the son of Haran, his grandson and Sarai, his daughter-in-law; the wife of Avram, his son, and went forth with them from Ur Kasdim, to the land of Cana’an. But when they came to Charan, they stayed there.” (translation rendered by Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z”l, in the New Hirsch Chumash, Sefer Breish’t, Perek 11, posuk 31, page 285)

This posuk would seem to cast an added dimension to our tradition regarding Hashem speaking to Avraham in our Parsha’s opening posuk:

“Go… for yourself ['Lech Lecha Mei'Artzecha'], from your country [Ur Kasdim], from your birthplace and from the house of your father, to the land I Will Show you.” ((translation rendered by Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z”l, in the New Hirsch Chumash, Sefer Breish’t, Perek 12, posuk 1, page 286)

One could also ask; if their leaving Ur Kasdim somewhat coincided with Hashem’s call to Avraham to leave his father’s house to go to the land which Hashem Designates, and whether their leaving was related to the event of Avraham’s brother Haran’s death in King Nimrod’s burning pit after Avraham survived the pit?

R’ Hirsch cites Perek 11, posukim 28-29 and comments (page 285):

“Haran died before the countenance of [before, or in front of] Terach, his father, in the land of his birth, in Ur Kasdim.”(Posuk 28)

“Avram and Nachor took themselves wives. The name of Avram’s wife was Sarai; the name of Nachor’s wife was Milkah, daughter of Haran, the father of Milkah and the father of Yishkah.” (Posuk 29)

As the Ramban has… demonstrated on posuk 28, the birthplace of Terach, Avraham and Nachor was not Ur Kasdim, but Aram. Only Haran was born in Ur Kasdim, which was the land of his birth. In all likelihood, Haran also lived in Ur Kasdim, and married there…. Add to this the tradition of our Sages that Sarai and Yishkah are identical, we come to the conclusion that Sarai and Lot were born to Haran and Ur Kasdim was their birthplace.

The story of the migration of Terach’s family… apparently reflects the reaction of the people of Aram to this… event [presumably the events at King Nimrod's burning pit]. No one knew that Hashem Said to Avram: “Lech Lecha ['Go... for yourself']“. The assumption was: “that they migrated for unpleasant family reasons.”

Terach and the other members of the family changed their minds in mid-course, and did not follow through to go to Cana’an. They got as far as Charan, and settled there. Avram, however, left his father’s home, he alone heeding Hashem’s call.

The sefer “Torah Gems”, by Aharon Yaakov Greenberg provides a succinct commentary on Sefer Breish’t, Perek 12, posuk 1 — “Go for yourself…”:

…Whoever moves to Eretz Yisrael ascends spirituality. The Jewish soul cannot find its true place except in Eretz Yisrael, for “the eyes of the Lord, your G’d are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 11, posuk 12 [translation as rendered in the Artscroll Stone Chumash, page 995 Parshat Eikev], as cited from Olelot Ephraim)

This word to Jews in Chutz LAretz: just as Avraham Avinu came to recognize, on his own, the existence of The Supreme Creator and King and heard a Voice calling for him to leave the land of his birth, of his family; masses of Jews should have similarly heard the same voice calling to them to return home — “Return again, return again, return to the land of your soul….”

After all, not in nearly 2,000 years has Aliyah been so doable, so within reach, soo spiritual an option.

Yet masses Jews have remained, have hung around in the countries of their birth: in the UK where the Islamic population grows by leaps and bounds and poses a dire threat to long-established law, or in France where the third largest political party seeks, while outlawing burkas, to outlaw kippot and force Jews to eat chazier (pig) out of “fairness” to Islamics, etc. Or in the United States, where things will become untenable for American Jews who will be blamed and scape-goated no matter who wins the presidential election. It seems to this author that because masses of Jews stayed put in their respective birthplaces, in their fathers’ lands when they could have comfortably reached for spirituality in Eretz Yisrael, Aliyah will now become a compelling necessity borne out of terror, lawlessness, oppression, persecution and possible Jewish blood-letting and loss of life in those lands, including the United States.

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

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

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat No’ach 5777: No’ach, the Avos and Analogy with Shabbos and the Yomim Tovim

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, October 29th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat HaShevua, Noach is sponsored by Mutti and Michelle Frankel and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh in honor of their daughter Devorah Rachel’s birthday Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan. To the Frankel family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat No’ach 5777: No’ach, the Avos and Analogy with Shabbos and the Yomim Tovim

by Moshe Burt

Shem Mishmuel (Sefer Shem Mishmuel, Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski, pages 15-18) makes a fascinating analogy equating No’ach with Shabbos, while the Avos are equated with the Yomim Tovim Festivals (Pesach, Shavu’ot and Succot). Shem Mishmuel cites the opening posuk of our Parsha rendering it:

“No’ach was a perfect tzaddik in his generation” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 6, posuk 9)

It seems that the most common rendering of “Eileh Toldot” is that as rendered in the Artscroll Stone Chumash (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 6, posuk 9, page 31):

“These are the offspring of Noach. No’ach was a righteous man, perfect in his generations…”

But R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z”l, in the New Hirsch Chumash provides a fuller and slightly different rendering of the posuk (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 6, posuk 9) and comments (page 174):

“These are the products of No’ach. No’ach, a righteous man, was morally pure in his times: No’ach walked with G’d.”

“Eileh Toldot” is not immediately followed by enumeration of No’ach’s children… Our Sages (Breish’t Rabbah 30.6) infer from this that the primary “product” of a person, the first yield of his labors, is his own character. This inference applies especially to No’ach…; for in his generation, supreme courage was required to save oneself from the general degeneracy and to preserve the purity of one’s heart. In such a generation, surely “the first and foremost products if the righteous are their good deeds.”

“…A righteous man, morally pure…” These are the character traits… of… No’ach, and which Hashem chose as the basis for a new mankind.

Shem Mishmuel comments on the above citing of our Parsha’s opening posuk:

…No’ach is referred to as “perfect”, whereas Avraham was not… The word “perfect” really refers to milah (circumcision).

After milah, one achieves a certain physical perfection that was not present before. No’ach was born circumcised.

So No’ach was simply more perfect than Avraham in one limited sense. But perhaps there is a much deeper way of explaining… which will enable us to understand this particular difference.

Shem Mishmuel then cites an “enigmatic” [as stated in the sefer] statement from the Zohar HaKadosh and comments:

No’ach is Shabbos. (Tikkunei Zohar, Tikkun 21.54b) (Note: The name of No’ach means “resting”… an important Shabbos concept.)

Tradition tells us that the Shalosh Regalim (Pesach, Shavuot, Succot] corresponds to the three Avos (citing Orach Chaim 417) and that Rosh Chodesh corresponds to Dovid HaMelech (citing Rosh Hashana 25a).

It is well-known from Chassidic literature that Shabbos is the primary, driving force behind all of these festive occasions and that they receive their Kedusha from that of Shabbos.

The distinguishing feature of Shabbos is that it is permanent and unchangeable (citing gemora Chullin 101b). It falls out every seventh day and has done so since creation, without any human intervention. Yom Tov, however, is quite different. In the ideal Jewish society, the Beit Din must proclaim the advent of the new moon. Only then can we know when Rosh Chodesh falls and hence when Yom Tov will be. This lends a quite different character to Yom Tov, one in which the hand of man is… evident…

In the same vein, we can understand the difference between No’ach and the Avos. No’ach was holy from his earliest life….

He was born circumcised, implying a high level of intrinsic spirituality. However, that is where his spirituality rested — within
himself. He spent his life guarding himself from the evil influences of his surroundings and preserving his own surroundings and preserving his own kedusha.

This author thus views the similarity between No’ach and Shabbos as based in No’ach’s milah at birth, an Act of Hashem and, thus not dependent upon human intervention, just as Shabbos was an act of Hashem from Creation. Conversely, the milah of the Avos was dependent upon the human performance of the act of milah, just as Rosh Chodesh, and thus the Yomim Tovim — the Shalosh Regalim were dependent upon the human act of observation of the moon and, accordingly, the Beit Din’s ruling.

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

Good Shabbos and Chodesh Tov!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Breish’t 5777: The Greatness of Hashem, Our Creator, His/Our Torah and His Allotment of Eretz Yisrael to His Chosen Ones

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


Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat HaShevua, Breish’t is sponsored by Binyamin and Barbara Lemkin and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh who dedicate this vort for the speedy aliyah of Jonathan Pollard to Eretz Yisrael and to the Jewish heroes who sacrifice themselves for the cause of Torah and Eretz Yisrael. To the Lemkin family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

Please 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 Breish’t 5777: The Greatness of Hashem, Our Creator, His/Our Torah and His Allotment of Eretz Yisrael to His Chosen Ones

by Moshe Burt

The Torah cycle renews itself yet again with Parshat Breish’t 5777. It has always seemed difficult for this author to put a true and deep meaning of Hashem’s Creation to words to express the continu’um that is the end and the beginning of Torah. And it is hard to envision and aptly express the creation and constant re-creation of everything, and potentiality for everything from nothingness — from a void.

And it seems hard to get a grip on the cyclical process which is the end and the beginning of Torah, and the beginning of life and the process of man’s aging — the suffering which often accompanies that aging process, particularly when it occurs close to home, i.e. parents, spouses, siblings, etc. The year just past has seen this evolution process play out for a number of our brethren — close relatives of members of this author’s community and Kehillah as well as murdered victims of Arab/Islamic terror who have passed to Shemayim.

Rav Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z”l, In the new Hirsch Chumash, renders the very first posuk of Torah (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 1, posuk 1):

“Breish’t bora Keilokim eit HaShemayim V’eit HaAretz:”

“From the Beginning, Hashem Created the heaven and the earth.”

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his Sefer “Growth Through Torah” (page 18) cites Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz (Daas Torah: Breish’t , page 3) on Sefer Breish’t, Perek 1, posuk 1:

…You become aware that there is a Creator and Ruler of the universe. This first awareness already makes a major change in you for the rest of your life. You realize that there is a reason for everything. The world has meaning and purpose.

R’ Hirsch then comments (New Hirsch Chumash, pages 1-2):

Our verse, then means: “In the beginning of all existence, it was Hashem who Created”; or if we add to the predicate the two objects that follow: “From the very beginning Hashem Created the heaven and the earth.”

…”Breish’t” proclaims that nothing existed prior to Hashem’s Act of Creation, and that heaven and earth were created only through Hashem’s Word. Scripture thus teaches… that the world was brought into existence from nonexistence. This constitutes the basis of the conviction that Torah seeks to instill within us.

The opposite notion is the belief in the eternity of the world, which is the cornerstone of pagan belief until this very day. This belief is not only a metaphysical falsehood, a misrepresentation of the origin of the universe, but… it undermines all morality, and denies all freedom in both Hashem and man. If matter had antedated creation, then the Creator of the universe would have been able to fashion from the material given him NOT a world that was absolutely good, but only the best world possible within the limitations of the material…. All evil — natural and moral — would have been due to the inherent faultiness of the material, and not even Hashem would be able to save the world from evil, natural or moral. Hashem would not be master over the material of the world, and man would not be master over his body. Freedom would vanish , and the whole world, including its G’d and the men who live in it, would be propelled by a blind, immutable fate.

This bleak conception is dispelled by the light of the Torah with its very first words: “Breish’t bora Keilokim”! Everything — the matter and form of all that exists — was Created by a Free, Almighty Creator… [Who] still rules freely over the matter and form of every existing thing [meaning animate, inanimate and living, including man], over the forces that act upon matter, over the laws by which these forces operate, and over the resulting forms.

The world that was Created “Breish’t”…. — with all its seeming flaws –corresponds with the wise plan of the Creator: He could have created a different world, had such a world corresponded with His Will.

If we and, in fact, the world, are to correctly understand this last paragraph of the aforementioned citing, that “vast eternal plan” (quote from “Fiddler on the Roof”) — the wise plan of the Creator — then His original allotment of The Land was to nations who proved themselves unworthy, and so He took The Land from them and gave it to us, to Am Yisrael — His Chosen people. As such, our mission is to show how a holy nation acts in its’ land; to be a light unto the nations, a paradigm of Hashem’s blueprint of what the Jews are to represent — Hashem’s Kohanim — His Priestly People to the other nations of Mankind.

And so, to understand correctly, the Obamator, or whoever becomes President, or the US state department, the UN, UNESCO, etc can vote and pass whatever resolutions against us that they may wish, but they are all meaningless, powerless as nothing before the Will of Hashem.

Rabbi Mordechai Katz in his sefer, “Lilmod U’Lamed” (page 16) cites both Rabbi Akiva and the Rambam who were confronted by heretics who, by their questions and linguistically crude responses, stood in stark, stubborn denial of Hashem, HaKadosh Borchu, Creator of all: the universe, the world, land and sea, man and animal, vegetation and all potentiality.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rabbi Akiva replied, “My students, just as the presence of a house testifies that it was constructed by a builder, and the

garment testifies to the weaver, so too, does the presence of the world testify to the fact that Hashem, the Creator, formed it.” (citing Meshech Chochmah, Vayikra Perek 19, posuk 18)

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

When the Rambam taught that the world was Created by Hashem, a heretic disagreed. Instead, said the heretic, the world had existed forever and no one had created it. The Rambam then asked the heretic to leave the room for several moments.

When the heretic re-entered, a beautiful painting appeared on the wall. The heretic admired the painting and asked who had painted it. The Rambam answered that he spilled some paint onto a canvas and that the painting took shape by itself.

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

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

R’ Katz also cites a posuk from Iyov:

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

The question has to be; how could it be that the universe, with its myriads on myriads of systems, sub-systems and intricacies, could just be there, could just eternally exist without having been brought into existence by a Creator? How could it be that a universe which just eternally exists, without a Creator, could have within it a part, a parcel of land — Eretz Yisrael — which only flourishes when one certain nation and people inhabits it, and lays totally fallow when any and all other entities occupy it? And how could it be that this one certain nation and people — the Jewish nation which had been persecuted, pillaged, murdered, mass-murdered or expelled by every other nation and “civilization” throughout the history of man would have survived and outlived them all and returned to that one parcel of land which only flourishes in their presence? Torah teaches us that all of everything is created and re-created by Hashem in the minutest, fractions of mili-seconds.

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

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

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

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

The point here is that while Hashem relates to, and with each of us and with all of His Creations, we are still finite, whereas Hashem and His Torah are infinite. We hope and pray for ultimate Ge’ula Shlaima, where our lives may no longer be finite.

But in our current finite state, what we do here on earth is critical, for when we are no longer here, our Mitzvot, our kindnesses that we do, because they are needed, whether for family or for the Kehal — they live on, attached to the collective memory of the do’er by his/her friends, family, the Kehal and beyond.

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

Good Shabbos!!
———————————————————
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Simchat Torah 5777: Bonding with Hashem, V’zos HaBrachot and Synthesizing Tefillah and Learning

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Wednesday, October 19th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

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

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Simchat Torah 5777: Bonding with Hashem, V’zos HaBrachot and Synthesizing Tefillah and Learning

by Moshe Burt

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

In Chutz L’Aretz, we learn that Sh’mini Atzeres is expressed as if one’s entire family, from various venues, are all together and savoring the love, bonding and enjoyment of being together — between each of the parents and their off-spring, the siblings with each other and with their parent(s). And so when it comes time for each to leave to return to their various venues and responsibilities, the parent pleads that the offspring, that the family stay together for one more day. And so Hashem Kovei’yokhel (as He is) Calls to His loved ones — the B’nai Yisrael to stay with Him for one more day.

We learn that in Eretz Yisrael, there is one day of Succot Yom Tov, five Chol HaMo’ed days (intermediate days as with Pesach) and, Simchat Torah — the last day Yom Tov which contains within it the attribute of Sh’mini Atzeres — that special time of bonding and expressions of love — Am Yisrael for our Father, our Creator, our eternal and universal King, and Hashem’s special and loving connection to Am Yisrael alone.

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

It is in the context of Simchat Torah, with its attribute of Sh’mini Atzeres — the bonding of Am Yisrael with our Creator and Eternal King, that Moshe’s Brachot to Am Yisrael are conveyed in Parshat V’zos HaBrachot.

Rabbi Mordechai Katz comments on V’zos HaBrachot in sefer “Lilmod U’lamed” and ends with two citings (page 192):

The Torah is nothing less than the Book of Life. With its teachings to guide them, the Jews can persevere and triumph. Without it, they are lost.

“If your head aches, study the Torah; if your throat aches, study the Torah; if your stomach aches, study the Torah; if your bones ache, study the Torah; the Torah is the cure for all ailments.” (Eruvin 53)

Ben Bog-Bog said: Turn it over (the Torah), and turn it over, for everything is there. And look into it, and become old and grey therein; do not budge from it…, for you have no better standard of conduct. (Avos 5:25)

But Rabbi Shimon Finkelman, in his translation of discourses on the weekly Parsha by Manchester Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Yehudah Zev Segal, Shlita, z”l entitled “Inspiration and Insight” explains the synthesis between Torah study and tefillah including a story summarized by this author (pages 312-314):

…The role of ameilus, diligent toil in the study of Torah, is not… to negate the role of tefillah in successful Torah study. Tefillah must complement one’s toil in study…

…The following anecdote [as summarized by this author]… was related by R’ Sholom Schwadron, Shlita who heard it from R’ Aharon Kotler of blessed memory:

R’ Meshulam Igra, Rav of the city of Tismenitz,Galicia was a genius among Torah geniuses. The Chasam Sofer said of that his two hands were like two Torah scrolls. Among his disciples were the illustrious authors of Nesivos HaMishpat and Ketzos HaChoshen.

It happened once that two men who were visiting Tismenitz appeared before R’ Meshulam requesting that he resolve their monetary dispute. the complexity of the case forced R’ Meshulam to ask the litigants to return only the next day to hear his p’sak. The two litigants, anxious for a resolution, left that day without R’ Meshulam’s p’sak and agreed to bring the case before the Rav of their town for resolution.

Their Rav, while a Talmid Chacham, was not on a level of stature of R’ Meshulam. Yet the Rav seemed to have little trouble deciding the case. After hearing both sides, the Rav excused himself and left the room, returning minutes later with a scholarly p’sak which satisfied both parties.

Some time later, while the men were traveling, they returned Tismenitz and visited R’ Meshulam. They apologized for leaving abruptly without waiting to hear his p’sak. They explained that they brought the case to their local Rav. They then asked R’ Meshulam to relate his decision on their case. R’ Meshulam stated his p’sak and the men were pleased to hear that he had arrived at the same decision as their local Rav.

Upon hearing that the Rav had speedily given the identical p’sak as he, R’ Meshulam, as humble as he was wise said, “Only someone of incredible genius could have rendered this decision so quickly. It is obvious that your Rav, though he is unknown, is a scholar of towering stature. I must honor him with a visit!” R’ Meshulam was soon on his way.

When the Rav heard of the great R’ Meshulam Igra’s arrival, he became filled with fear as to the reason for his visit. When they were alone, R’ Meshulam related to the Rav the chain of events leading to his visit. R’ Meshulam expressed his awe and amazement that such a p’sak could have been rendered so quickly.

The local Rav then explained: “To tell you the truth, the complexity of the case was beyond me. I was at a loss as to where to even begin. Realizing that I was not capable of deciding that matter, I became fearful that, as a result, my reputation with the townspeople would be severely damaged. I therefore excused myself to the litigants and went off to another room to pray.

Tearfully, I beseeched the Ribono Shel Olam to somehow grant me the ability to decide the matter. No sooner had I offered my tefillah then I suddenly had an idea to open a certain sefer. I opened it and immediately came upon this exact case and the author’s ruling. Hardly believing what had happened, I quickly returned to the litigants and informed them of my p’sak.”

The above story seems to point up the importance of tefillah — deliberate with intent, whether Tehillim or thrice daily tefillot, including Aleinu, in tandem with Torah study, and not as secondary as it seems that some would indicate, i.e. to speed through via auto-pilot thrice daily in order to return to learning an extra minute or so faster, or for some other rationale.

But this synthesis between tefillah and Torah study must be diligently engrained during youth, for habits gained during youth seems difficult, if not impossible for adults to change.

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

We must take the craving for real improvement, the craving expressed during the Yomim Noraim, to make things right, with a proper synthesis between Tefillah with kavanah (intent) and Torah study, as well as between our Jewish brethren and throughout Am Yehudi into the new year. And at this auspicious time, may all of us have our brother Jonathan Pollard — Yehonatan Ben Malka, and Sholom Rubashkin both of whom continue to suffer the injustices of the US Justice System: via both an exceedingly restrictive probation and prohibition against coming home to Israel, and an extraordinarily long prison sentence, prominently in our hearts, thoughts, prayers and in mind in our actions — that Hashem see to their respective releases and return to their brethren in THIS year — sooner than later.

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

L’Shana Tova, Chag Same’ach — may all who read this be inscribed and completely sealed for a healthy, happy, sweet and prosperous 5777 and every year thereafter to at least 120!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Succot 5777: Personal and Collective Kavanah in Prayer Vs Systemic, Engrained Habits and Imposed Time-Limits

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Friday, October 14th, 2016 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Our Succot vort is being sponsored by Haim and Danit Kalb and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh Lilui Nishmas the Yahrtzeit of Haim’s Grandfather Efraim ben R’ Mordechai.. To the Kalb family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Succot 5777: Personal and Collective Kavanah in Prayer Vs Systemic, Engrained Habits and Imposed Time-Limits

by Moshe Burt

Having emerged from Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, hopefully all have been inscribed and sealed for a happy, healthy, successful and meaningful year and years ahead, we now find ourselves in the midst of Succot. As we enter Succot, there are thoughts which this author has discussed in previous Succot vorts regarding tefillot which appear, in this author’s eyes, to necessitate additional repetition and amplification.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One need wonder; what motivation of the nations could be behind their seeking reward? Would the nations perceive Succot as “an easy Mitzvah”, “a free pass” courtesy of HaKadosh Borchu (that is until Gemura Mesechet Avodah Zora, daf Gimmel relates that while the head of state of the nations sat in the Succah, an unbearable heatwave came whereupon he and and his party bid a hasty retreat from the Succah kicking down the door with disdain as they left)? And might we also ask questions of ourselves as to whether we have seemingly accepted or institutionalized short-cuts in our tefillot? Whether our tefillot, all year long, are worthy of our unique relationship with Hashem?

With the added insight regarding the parallel between “L’David Hashem O’ri…” and the final sealing in the Book of Life, this author yet again asks the following questions: Are we collectively and systematically programmed for success or failure by our personal kavanah in tefillah? Why must we thrice daily run a dread race with the Shaliach Tzibbor (representative of the kehillah assigned to lead prayers) during our personal Shemonah Essrei? Why have Shaliach Tzibborim seemingly drawn “a bye”, a free pass in “the system” regarding “Rabbinic injunction” concerning correct, fluent pronunciation and not slurring or running-on words of tefillot, etc. during Chazarat HaShatz?

Rabbi Yisrael Rubin, in his Sefer “The How and Why of Jewish Prayer,” powerfully writes (page 54):

The Shaliach Tzibbor should be cautioned against charging through prayers with lightning speed. His speed may, G’d forbid, prevent the Kehillah from fulfilling threir prayer obligations. In their [the Kehillah's] desperate attempt to keep up with him, they may not only forfeit any Kavanah, but may end up slurring or mispronouncing words.

The Rabbi or Gabbai should tactfully approach a Shaliach Tzibbor explaining to him that as representative of the entire kehillah he has an obligation to pronounce every word carefully…. Perhaps the Rabbi would talk about the importance of clear recitation of prayers…. [in his drasha].

R’ Rubin’s urging of caution to the Shaliach Tzibbor should not only apply during chaggim, i.e. Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, but to all of the chaggim, Shabbos, Rosh Khodesh, Kiddush Levana as well as daily tefillot: from korbonot, to pesukei d’zimrah, through Shema, Shemoneh Esrei, all the way through to, and particularly including Aleinu, throughout the entire year. And this spirit would also seem to extend beyond the tefillot itself, to how we treat Shul facilities and the kavod that we show for siddurim, chumashim and all other s’forim in the way we take them off of the book shelves, and replace them on their appropriate shelves when finished with them.

We might broaden discussion of correct, fluent pronunciation and not slurring or running-on words in asking why those given Aliyah honors seem exempted from Halachic rules concerning distinct pronunciation of Baruch Attah Hashem and Melekh HaOlam during Brachot over the Torah? Rabbanim such as HaRav Chaim Zev Malinowitz, Sh’lita have discussed and taught this very point.

And we might ask; why the elaborated, elongated time-consuming, self-ego-enriching khazzanut during Khazzarat HaShatz (repetition of Shemonah Essrei) at the cost of both distinct pronunciation of the words and of short-shrifting Aleinu? Can any communal leader provide rationales?

One may well wonder what is meant here. Bluntly, and to the point: Is an individual’s spiritual growth as well as his bonding and kesher with Hashem being systemically stifled, stymied, blunted and nipped in the bud by collective peer-pressure to conform to seemingly accepted or Kehilla-imposed time-limits at each step or section of tefillah?

These time-limits become models for young talmidim in Khedar, in Yeshiva Ketanah, Yeshiva Gedolah propelling them to ever-faster robotic tefillah totally lacking in kavanah, i.e. who can daven the fastest Shemonah Essrei?. And these robotic habits then become impossible to break in adulthood.

This author views these questions and thoughts as critically important to air, even now, once we have passed Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, lest we begin to back-slide into the old familiar patterns.

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

And when stam individuals suffer the continual conflict of the dread race with the Shaliakh Tzibbor to Khazarat HaShatz, imagine the extent of the compelling and disruptive pressure felt by Kohanim who are Halachically compelled to be ready to have their hands washed at or shortly after conclusion of Kedusha in order to be ready to ascend to the Duchan by the Bracha of Retzei. And imagine the pain, anxiety and fear of embarrassment felt by one who must say Kaddish at appropriate points in Davening, including after Aleinu under these circumstances.

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

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

And so we ponder the War of Gog and Magog:

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

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

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

L’Shana Tova, Chag Same’ach and Good Shabbos! — may all who read this enjoy healthy, happy, sweet and prosperous 5777 and every year thereafter to at least 120!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Ha’azinu 5777: False Ideologies and Abominations Vs Our Obligations and Responsibilities

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


Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat Ha’azinu is being sponsored by Zev and Sarit Schonberg and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated a new year filled with peace and prosperity in our land. To the Schonberg family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat Ha’azinu 5777: False Ideologies and Abominations Vs Our Obligations and Responsibilities

by Moshe Burt

Parshat Ha’azinu falls out once again this year on the Shabbos just after Yom Kippur and just before Succot. Our Parshat begins with Moshe’s words:

“Ha’azinu HaShemayim V’adabeirah…”

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

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

“Incline your ear, O Heaven, I would speak, And let the earth hear the words of my mouth.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, posukim 1-2)

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

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

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

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

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

Shem Mishmuel describes Ha’azinu as;

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

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

Tehillim Psalm 81 clearly expresses the point of Hashem’s mercy where B’nai Yisrael rebelled, forgot and strayed from Hashem and Torah (Artscroll Nusach Ashkenaz siddur, page 169):

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

There is a posuk in our Parshat which brings to mind today’s malaise — the new “normal”, today’s so-called western “morality, so-called “human rights”:

“They would slaughter to demons without power, gods whom they knew not, newcomers recently arrived, whom your ancesters did not dread.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, posuk 17, as rendered in the Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash)

Rabbi Artscroll (Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash, page 1105) briefly comments on this posuk:

Israel will anger Hashem by… performing such acts as… Hashem regards as abominable.

Rav Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” (pages 467-468) goes much further in discussing the abovementioned posuk. He first renders the end of the posuk slightly different and then comments:

“…Newcomers recently arrived, whom your forefathers did not know.”

“The process of new false ideologies,” commented Rabbi Avigdor Miller (in his sefer “Rejoice O Youth,” page 25), “is part of the constant test of virtue which living men must endure all of their lives. But the Torah and the Torah people are an old and established firm, which has been in business for few thousand years and has weathered many crises and outlived many competitors. We view the opponents, physical or ideological, who rise up against us in every generation…; and we know that they will go down into oblivion as did all the upstarts who preceded them.”

So, what about the government of Israel’s seeming total preoccupation with abandoning and handing over Jewish Lands, including Jerusalem, to avowed Arab enemies implacably bent upon our destruction in the bogus name and ideology of “land for peace/piece” or “two states for two peoples (sic)”? What of our government’s concern for the well-being of the enemy’s “human shields” strategic tactics, at the expense of the lives of our military brethren for what the nations will say? The hesitation to act against terrorists’ families such as who kill a teenage girl as she slept, or who ambush Jewish families in their cars on the roads of Yehudah and the Shomron? The concern for treating a wounded terrorist before treating and saving the life of that terrorist’s Jewish victim(s)? The soldier on trial for the crime of making sure a mortally wounded terrorist was dead, thus removing the danger of further Jewish casualties? What of same-genderism? Civil marriage? Do we see all of these playing out as a result of the complacency and preoccupation of the masses, each individual, each sector with their own individual and group issues and matzavim while Israel’s governance plots, based on the direction the air of public opinion blows and on principles of divide and conquer, the eradication of all vestiges of Torah — its principles, its standards of morality, as well as Yiddishkiet and spirituality from its population?

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

Can it be said that, despite the evolvement in our national governance of foresaking Hashem, our roots, our heritage for other counsels and avodah zora, Hashem continues to protects us with his Clouds of Glory? What of the appointment of the heaven and earth as witnesses and guarantors of Hashem’s Covenant with Israel? We must all collectively ponder and internalize our responsibilities in living up to our obligations to this Covenant with Hashem following Yom Kippur and going forward to Succot and to the years ahead.

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