Parshat Devarim 5777: Sefer Devarim, Tefillin, Unity and Distinction of Halachot, Mussar From Bias, Disdain and Sinat Chinom With Approach of Tisha B’av

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



Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Devarim is being sponsored by Mattis and Marla Sklar of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for a full and complete Refuah Shlaima for Matis’ Father Shmuel Chaim ben Shaina. To the Sklar family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses and good wishes.

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat Devarim 5777: Sefer Devarim, Tefillin, Unity and Distinction of Halachot Mussar From Bias, Disdain and Sinat Chinom With Approach of Tisha B’av

by Moshe Burt

A number of years ago, Rav Aba Wagensberg spoke out in a shiur that Sefer Devarim represents Moshe Rabbeinu’s Mussar to B’nai Yisrael as the time of his death drew near.

Rabbi Wagensberg gave over the thought that the B’nai Yisrael, after all of the rebellions, all of the contention, all of the failures which the rebellions and contention wrought, after the blatantly false accusations of nepotism hurled by segments of the Am at Moshe and Aaron HaKohen and more, Finally: came to the collective, unequivocal realization that Moshe Rabbeinu, now in his final days on earth, was indeed Hashem’s anointed — the undisputed leader and that his words are the words of Hashem.

In fact, R’ Wagensberg wrote in an email vort last year on our Parshat Devarim:

The Yid Hakadosh (Rebbi Ya’akov Yitchak Rabinowitz, 1766-1813, Pshischa, Poland) said that his favorite Mussar sefer was Sefer Devarim. So attached was the Yid Hakadosh to Sefer Devarim that he read several verses from it each day of the year.

He explained the reason why. He said that Sefer Devarim has a huge advantage over any other Mussar sefer out there. This advantage can be understood in the following way.

It is more beneficial to hear rebuke from a living person than it is to read it from a book. This is because when a person admonishes another from a place of true care, love, and concern, we can then apply the age old adage which states, “Words which come from the heart enter into the heart” (preface to Likuttei Amarim).

This feeling is absent when reading reproof from a text.

This is why it more beneficial to study Mussar from Sefer Devarim than from any other source. This is because the Divine Presence spoke through Moshe Rabbenu’s throat (Zohar, Pinchas, pg. 232a). Since G’d is eternal, it is as if Moshe Rabbenu is still speaking to us right now. The words of Sefer Devarim are emanating from Moshe’s heart right now. As such, they are penetrating our hearts this very moment. This live rebuke is something which is missing from other Mussar books.

This is why the opening verse of Sefer Devarim says, “These are the words that Moshe spoke to ALL of Israel” (Dt. 1:1). This does not just mean that Moshe spoke these words to all the Jews that were alive at that time, but it means that Moshe spoke these words to ALL the Jewish people throughout the generations.

Every time we open a Sefer Devarim to study from, it is as if we are streaming it live, with Moshe Rabbenu speaking to us directly.

This is why the Yid Hakadosh preferred Sefer Devarim over any other Mussar work, to the point that he would study a few verses from it every single day. When a Jew studies Sefer Devarim, he will not walk away empty handed. Rather, it will have a positive impact on him by opening his heart.

Not only does Sefer Devarim have the capacity to open the heart, but it even has the ability of opening the heavens.

Shem Mishmuel (Selections on the weekly parshiyot and festivals rendered to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski) comments on our Parsha (page 373):

This book is qualitatively different from the other four. Chazal tell us (in Megillah, page 31b) that the curses in Sefer Devarim were said by Moshe himself. We may assume… that the material in Devarim, while of course presented by Hashem to Moshe, contains more human input, however slight, than the previous four books.

Perhaps it can be considered an in-between stage, bridging the gap between the main Written Torah… and the Oral Torah. Devarim contains elements of both — it is the written word of Hashem…, but with an element of human content, like [oral] Torah.

R’ Wagensberg also related to Sefer Devarim, as distinguished from the previous four s’forim, in an analogy regarding the order in which one puts on and removes his tefillin. We learn that when one begins his morning tefillot, he dons the tefillin shel yad (tefillin for the arm) first, and only afterwards does he don the tefillin shel rosh (tefillin for the head). At the conclusion of davening, he removes the shel rosh first, and then the shel yad.

For forty years, Am Yisrael travelled through Bamidbar (the desert), and now they stood at the cusp of their entry into Eretz Yisrael and day-to-day living and applying Torah in Our Land. In the same way, when one begins to pray and to learn, he dons tefillin shel yad and then the tefillin shel rosh, when he leaves the Shul or Beit Medrash, he removes his shel rosh first and, only after, does he remove his shel yad, the significance being his application of the tefillot and learning of Shul and Beit Medrash to his actions and interactions with his fellows during the day-to-day living in the world outside.

The tefillin sequence equates with a person’s active learning of Jewish law (Halacha) and Jewish history in the previous four s’forim of Chumash, and then in Sefer Devarim, receiving Mussar concerning the practical, day-to-day real-time, real-life applications of what has been learned. In essence, the donning of the shel yad first, and the removal of it last equates with applying in the world outside what has been learned in Beit Knesset and/or the Beit Medrash.

Israel National News reported two years ago that a prominent politician and member of a so-called “religious party” asserted the following:

“Any Jew who observes the Torah and commandments is for us a Jew… A Reform Jew, once he does not follow the religion of Israel – then let us say, there is a problem. I cannot allow myself to say that he is Jewish”…

The report continues:

Orthodox Jews – who strictly adhere to the laws of the Torah – view Reform and other non-Orthodox theologies as illegitimate, due to its departure from Jewish law and even rejection of the Divinity of the Torah.

Even so, [the member] comments that Jews who merely identify as “Reform” should not be considered Jewish have no basis in any interpretation of Jewish law.

[The member] did attempt to reach out to Reform Jews in the same interview, adding: “These are Jews who took a wrong turn along the road and we need to ensure that every Jew will go back into the fold of Judaism and accept everyone with love and joy… we would like for all of those Jews to go back to Judaism according to halacha [Jewish law]. That is all.”

It seems that the politician’s comment, as reported, in the second paragraph can be taken in either of two ways: 1) That there is no basis in any interpretation of Jewish law for those who identify as “Reform” not to be considered Jewish, or 2) That Jews who merely identify as “Reform” should not be considered Jews. Given the poor quality of writing, editing and proofreading currently existing in this particular media platform, the report cited, under either interpretation, the politician’s attempt at clarification was kind of a lame caveat considering his initial statement — words which should never have been uttered in the first place.

And again, just a few weeks ago, another prominent politician and member of another so-called “religious party” spoke, during the heat of debate over pending Conversion Law legislation and the Reform movement’s criticism of it, as well as prime minister Netanyahu’s indefinite freezing of the planned addition of a mixed-gender prayer space at the Kotel, saying:

“Reform Jews are delegitimizing Judaism,” [the member] told Army Radio. “I would be willing to sit with a Palestinian, but not with a Reform Jew.”

[The member] argued that the Status Quo arrangement on religion and state was unworkable, and is in need of an overhaul.

“The Status [Quo] is bad, because it gets violated over and over again; the moment a religious Jew is unable to observe Shabbat, Judaism in Israel is undermined.”

Are these politicians representing their respective “religious parties” expressing that any Jew not Orthodox is not a Jew? This author always learned: “Born a Jew, Always a Jew.” Reform Judaism is an oxymoron. Yes, non-Orthodox theologies ARE illegitimate, delegitimize Judaism in the eyes of the nations and do not represent Judaism’s true form and mission, But Reform Jews, Chilonim (secular Jews) ARE still Jews.

In the years prior to Aliyah this author and his Jewish boss back in Philadelphia had several discussions about his having encountered certain of our fellow Jews who would make such an inference about a non-observant Jew. This author would always respond as never hearing of such a thing and not believing in it for a second. But then again, this author became Ba’al Teshuva at age forty-two. In this author’s humble opinion, the remarks of the aforementioned members of these so-called “religious parties” represent divisive sinat chinom unbridled, unchained.

The Manchester Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Yehudah Zev Segal, Shlita, z”l writes on Parshat Devarim in his sefer, “Inspiration and Insight” Discourses on the Weekly Parashah (page 252);

A prime method of uprooting this devastating trait [sinat chinom] is by striving to fulfill the mitzvah of V’Ahavta L’rei’echa Kamocha, to love one’s fellow Jew as oneself (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 19, posuk 18). Ramban… understands this commandment as instructing us to desire only good for our neighbor in all facets of his existence, just as we desire only good for ourselves, be it with regard to material needs and acquisitions, honor, or attainment of wisdom.

One who lives up to these words of Ramban, … will surely be found guiltless with regard to sinat chinom.

Every believing Jew, whatever his level, must take on day-to-day real-time, real-life reality application of his learning, and translate it into his own righteous leadership mantle within the body of B’nai Yisrael, but without the contentiousness of a million generals.

Application of this individual righteous leadership mantle and of spirituality and learning from Shul and from Beit Medrash to the world outside seems meaning to deal with one’s fellow Jews, at every level, sincerely, justly and righteously, and without bias and disdain.

But, even as we need to treat our fellow Jews sincerely, justly and righteously, without bias, sinat chinom and disdain, thus creating a national, cultural unity among all Jews of all religious strains, as well as with secular Jews, we can’t achieve this unity through a possible benign, look-the-other-way governmental attitude which enables communal, public desecration of Shabbos, whether by way of so-called “private” companies providing transportation on Shabbos to a public, or via any other action enabling such a desecration, as a public, by any segment of the population.. After all, we ARE and aspire to be a state of the Jews.

Similarly, creating a national, cultural unity among all Jews by treating our fellows sincerely, justly and righteously, without bias, disdain and sinat chinom does not mean governance condoning a certain group’s parade in the name of “solidarity” when that group’s appearance, actions and agenda are halachically abominable.

Yet a certain ex-government minister Gidon Saar tweeted this comment on last year’s Jerusalem gay pride parade…:

“The gay pride parade in Jerusalem is a symbol of solidarity, encouragement of tolerance, and protection of the freedom of every man,” Saar tweeted.

And national, cultural unity through treating our fellow Jews sincerely, justly and righteously, without bias, sinat chinom and disdain, is not achieved through physically or verbally abusing religious soldiers on the streets or in Beit Knesset.

These are lessons that many Jews, and particularly politicians claiming religious stripes, need to internalize and take deeply to heart if we are to indeed pray and hope for, that B’Ezrat Hashem, this Tisha B’av FINALLY be the last Tzom for B’nai Yisrael.

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

Good Shabbos, and Fast Easy on Yom Sh’lishi Haba — Tisha B’av!!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshiyot Matos/Masei 5777: Am Yisrael Fights Hashem’s Wars and Connects with Eretz Yisrael — and Today?

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


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Matos-Masei is sponsored by Yosef Moshe and Chana Rosenberg of Ramat Beit Shemesh, dedicated for Yosef Moshe’s Bar Mitzvah Parsha Matos and for the health and wellbeing of their children and family. To the Rosenberg family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshiyot Matos/Masei 5777: Am Yisrael Fights Hashem’s Wars and Connects with Eretz Yisrael — and Today?

by, Moshe Burt

Our twin-bill Parshiyot Matos/Masei relates the events of the legion of Am Yisrael going to fight Hashem’s wars against the kings of Midian and the evil Bila’am, the allocation and distribution of the spoils of victorious battle, preparations for B’nei Yisrael to enter Eretz Yisrael, with the battles that will ensue upon entry, and delineation of each Shevet’s (Tribe’s) portion in the Land as well as designation the cities of refuge. There is also a review of the liberation from Mitzriyim, the crossing of the Yam Suf (the Reed Sea) and B’nei Yisrael’s travels in Bamidbar. Our Parshiyot also indicate B’nai Yisrael’s belated unequivocal acceptance of Moshe as their Divinely Annointed Leader as well as expressing the ideal of a Jew’s love of, dedication to and connection with Eretz Yisrael.

We learn, near the end of Parshat Chukas, of Aaron HaKohen Godol’s passing and Elazar’s ascension to Kohen Godol. (per Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 20, posukim 23-29)

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

We saw earlier, in Parshat Chukas:

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

We learn that Torah uses this loshen in only one other place: in our Parshat Matos (Sefer Bamidbar Perek 31, posuk 21) where Elazar, now Kohen Godol, instructs the men of the army regarding laws of Koshering utensils as they went to war. (New Hirsch Chumash, page 636)

Torah relates both Moshe’s instructions and describes the legion going off to war, winning and the extent of the spoils:

“Moshe spoke to the people, saying, ‘Arm men from among yourselves for the legion that they may be against Midian to inflict Hashem’s vengeance against Midian….’” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 31, posuk 3)

“Moshe sent them… and Pinchas ben Elazar the Kohen… and the sacred vessels and the trumpetsfor sounding in his hand. They massed against Midian, as Hashem had commanded Moshe, and killed every male. They killed… the five kings on Midian; and Bila’am son of Beor they slew with the sword. The B’nei Yisrael took captive the women of Midian and their young children; and all their cattle and flocks and all their wealth they took as spoils.” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 31, posukim 6-9)

We learn that upon the legion’s return from battle, Moshe expressed his displeasure with his commanders regarding certain captives:

“Moshe was angry with the commanders of the army… Moshe said to them, ‘Did you let every female live? Behold — they caused the B’nei Yisrael, by the word of Bila’am, to commit betrayal against Hashem regarding the matter of Peor, and the plague occurred in the assembly of Hashem. So now, kill every male among the young children, and every woman fit to know a man by lying with a male, you shall kill. But all the young children among the women who have not known lying with a male, you may keep alive for yourselves.’” Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 31, posukim 14-19)

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

Moshe was quite angry at the two Sh’vatim. He was concerned lest Gad and Reuven would avoid taking part in the wars for Eretz Yisrael, that other Sh’vatim might follow suit and B’nai Yisrael might be condemned to wandering in the desert another 40 years. (per Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 32, posukim 6-15)

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

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

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

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

Parsha Masei opens by recapping the events of B’nai Yisrael from Yetziyat Mitzrayim (leaving Egypt), through K’riyat Yam Suf (crossing the Reed Sea) as well as their travels in Bamidbar (in the desert) over the 40 years so that the Am Yisrael will recall the trials and, hopefully, actuate the lessons learned. Following this recap, “Hashem spoke to Moshe… by the Jordan, at Yericho” (Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer BaMidbar, Perek 33, posuk 50) telling him to speak to the B’nai Yisrael and tell them;

When you cross the Jordan to the land of Canaan, you shall drive out all of the inhabitants of the Land before you; and you shall destroy all their prostration stones; all of their molten images…. You shall possess the Land as an inheritance by lot to your families…. But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the Land before you, those of them whom you leave shall be pins in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they will harass you upon the Land in which you dwell. And it shall be that what had meant to do to them, I shall do to you. (Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer BaMidbar, Perek 33, p’sukim 51-56, pages 922-923)

Rabbi Artscroll (page 923) then cites the Rashbam and follows with it’s own commentary;

… If they fail to do so, they will suffer the fate Hashem had intended to impose upon the Canaanites, and be driven out.

Only in the perspective of Hashem’s wisdom can this passage be understood. No human ruler has the right to decree that an entire population is to be… exiled, but Hashem revealed that the Canaanite presence was incompatible with both the Land’s holiness and Israel’s mission on earth. History is the most conclusive proof of this, for the fact was that the Jews could not bring themselves to eliminate all of the Canaanites, with the result that the Jews were drawn to idolatry, debauchery, and were in turn periodically oppressed and finally exiled.

This author recalls a point discussed and sent out a couple of years ago at this time by that kiruv legend, Jeff Seidel regarding Parsha Pinchas:

Parshat Pinchas relates a story (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 27, posukim1-12) about the daughters of Tzlafchad, descendants of Yosef (Joseph). These daughters wanted and loved the Land of Israel so much that they wanted a piece of it. As Rav Moshe Feinstein asks, why do they have to have a claim in the land, just because they love it? Wouldn’t entering or living in the land be fulfilling enough?

Rav Moshe thus concludes that if a person truly loves something, they’d want it to be theirs, and no one else’s. This is why the daughters wanted to actually own a piece of the land, rather than simply living in it. This logic applies to marriages, as well as the Torah’s preference that every Jew writes their own Torah (or a portion of it). In our terms, it’s not enough to borrow and read Jewish books. We need to love the Torah we read SO much that we feel the need to own it! As this week’s Parsha urges, we should not only seek, read and enjoy words of Torah, but we should OWN those books, and live those words!

Suffice to say, that as this author understand’s R’Moshe, and as the title implies; passionate love of Eretz Yisrael = jealously possessing it as our own, rather than craving for one’s narrow personal comfort and sense of “the normal life” of the nations.

If one could express possessing Eretz Yisrael as our own in human terms: if our land were a human being, one could embrace, hung, cling, possess and squeeze hard never letting go. We understand the Land as the physical, tangible manifestation of Hashem’s being and will. So, based on Rav Moshe’s axiom, a Jew possessing his Land, as if embracing it, seems the physical manifestation on earth of the spirituality of Torah, tefillah, chesed and cleaving to Hashem. And therefore, to one who passionately loves the Land, every inch of it is important — he is jealous for every inch of it and willing to fight for all of it, not just that one piece of the Land where he and his live.

Unfortunately, in today’s Jewish State, we have become handcuffed in “political correctness” by some who seem merely to reside in Israel; the intelligencia, the elitists, the college and university professors, those with the bulk of the consolidated financial wealth, the ministerial engrained bureaucracies, the so-called “justice system” and the politicians; from the prime minister, to his cabinet, to at least 118 corrupt members of Knesset, who have managed to brainwash, indoctrinate and force inculcate the masses with the shekar of “Land for peace(sic)” while depending for cover on false, fake PA purported census/demographics in their propagandizing despite this fake data being refuted by independent studies. They endeavor to indoctrinate the populus with inter-faith “dialogue, the “rights” of one’s enemies — either through attempting to erode and eradicate Torah in the land, or through reinforcement of the engrained Israeli mindset of “ein ma’alah sot” (there’s nothing we can do).

And so, because we seem not strong enough to possess the Land in its totality, and to cause the enemy thieves, murderers and temporary “inhabitants” to leave, “those of them whom you leave shall be pins in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they will harrass you upon the Land in which you dwell.” We see this posuk indeed playing out in our days. Will our collective weakness bring Hashem to actuate “what had meant to do to them, I shall do to you”? Those of us who cleave to Eretz Yisrael yearn for the day of true Jewish leadership and sovereignty in the entirety of Eretz Yisrael.

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

Good Shabbos!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Pinchas 5777: Halachic Fine Lines Concerning Pinchas and the Zimri/Kosbi Co-Habitation

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, July 8th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week,our Parshat HaShevua Pinchas is sponsored by R’ Joel & Shelly Padowitz and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for Hatslucha for himself and his family. To the Padowitz family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Pinchas 5777: Halachic Fine Lines Concerning Pinchas and the Zimri/Kosbi Co-Habitation

by Moshe Burt

We learn from Midrashim on Parshat Pinchas that there was much dispute in The Camp as to Pinchas’ action in slaying Zimri and Kozbi. There were those who wanted Pinchas killed for killing another Jew; cited by Rabbi Artscroll (Stone Chumash page 876, commentary on Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 25, posuk 11):

“This grandson of someone who fattened calves to be sacrificed to idols” had the gall to kill a prince in Israel! [Pinchas’ father was married to a daughter of Yitro, a former Midianite Priest, who was called Putiel…]

While Pinchas’s zealousness was a manifestation of L’Shem Shemayim, Rav Zelig Pliskin, in his Sefer “Growth Through Torah” (page 358) renders our Parshat’s opening posukim and notes:

“Hashem spoke to Moshe saying: ‘Pinchas, son of Elazar, son of Aaron HaKohen, turned back my wrath from upon the B’nei Yisrael in that he was zealous for My sake among them, so that I did not consume the B’nei Yisrael in My jealousy.’” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 25, posukim 10-11)

There are many instances in life in which the correct thing to do is not always the most popular…. But a person whose focus is on doing the will of the Almighty will not be deterred even if others will insult him for his behavior.

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

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

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

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

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

It seems strange that Zimri, the leader of Shevet (tribe of) Shimon, the Shimon who with Levi, acted against Shechem and the Shechemites after Shechem violated their sister Dina, would now act and condone co-habitation with other than B’not Yisrael.

Rav Pliskin then renders our Parshat’s third posuk and cites Rabbi Naftoli Tzvi Berlin (the Netziv) who commented (“Growth Through Torah”, page 359):

“Therefore say: I am giving him My covenant of peace.” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 25, posuk 12)

“Pinchas did a zealous act that could cause someone to be aggressive even when it would not be appropriate. Therefore, The Almighty blessed him with a covenant of peace. In all other areas of his life he should be a man of peace.” (Haamek Dovor)

From Torah’s narrative, there is no doubt that Pinchas acted l’Shem Shemayim (for the sake of Hashem) by impaling Zimri and Kozbi and so merited the Kehuna and eternal life. However, there seems to be a point which this author has not previously focused on closely and seems in need of clarity. According to Halacha, as explained by Rabbi Henach Leibowitz in his sefer “Majesty of Man” on our Parshat Pinchas (page 247):

When a Jew sins with a non-Jewish woman in front of at least ten people, the Torah allows an individual to take action — “a zealot may kill him” (Sanhedrin 82a)…. One who is so determined to uphold the honor of Hashem that he cannot let evil exist before him — is permitted to take the law into his own hands.

…Note that Pinchas, who so wanted to carry out the will of Hashem and bring the sinners to justice, did not run in a heated passion to kill Zimri and Kozbi. He first went to inquire of Moshe what the law was and only then did he take action.

The Zimri/Kozbi liaison had to be witnessed in progress by a minyan to halachically mandate their deaths.

But, after Zimri brought Kozbi into the camp and in front of Moshe, they were sequestered in Zimri’s tent which was surrounded by guards. Do we therefore understand that the act of bringing Kozbi into the camp and confronting Moshe were, themselves sufficient witnessing and intent to justify action without the minyan actually witnessing them in the act of co-habitation? Or did the act of Pinchas impaling them both by their members with Moshe’s spear and showing them before the camp, in their impaled state — linked together in the act of co-habitation, constitute proper satisfaction of halachic witnessing and thus mandate their death?

What is meant is that this author has always understood that Pinchas went into the tent (under a rouse as tent was guarded by others from Shavet Shimon) and impaled Zimri and Kozbi in the tent and then displayed them to the public their impaled state — in the act — at the point of the spear. Do we understand this public display as satisfying the halachic parameters (their act witnessed by a minyan) for the mandate of death? Or do we understand that Zimri’s bringing Kozbi into the camp and confronting Moshe, and Pinchas’ impalment of them, taken together justify the mandate of death “in the act”? What we seem to have here is a fine legal point. But it in no way diminishes the meritorious action of Pinchas.

On another point, were there mandated warnings to be issued, as with the wife about to sequester herself with someone other than her husband? Or did Moshe’s halachic ruling to Zimri regarding such co-habitation constitute sufficient warning, if such warning was even necessary?

The Lubavitcher Rebbe noted in regard to Pinchas’ action (Studies in the Weekly Parsha, by Yehuda Nachshoni, Parshat Balak, page 1113);

“He impailed the woman through the belly”; “He aimed his spear between their male and female members, proving that he did not kill them in vain.” Why would we think that he had killed them in vain? Rather, the Torah here alludes to the law that a zealot has free reign only while the act is in progress.

What the Lubavitcher Rebbe appears to be describing is another legal point which is not discussed by R’ Leibowitz, the concept known under the loshen; Kannoi Pogim Bo — that a zealot witnessing a co-habitation between a Jewish man and a non-Jewish woman may slay them both only provided that the slaying occurs as they co-habit. (bottom of Sanhedrin 81b through top of 82a) Therefore, this author understands that there are apparently two halachot concerning the sin of such co-habitation. One halacha in the case where such co-habitation is witnessed by 10 or more men, and the other where a single zealot witnesses the co-habitation where the parties involved in the co-habitation are sequestered, i.e., in the case of Zimri and Kosbi, where they co-habited in the privacy of Zimri’s tent, and Pinchas’ intervention, killing them both spearing them by their respective members.

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

Good Shabbos!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Balak 5777: A Different Take on Toleration of “Novel, Misleading Ideologies” in Bamidbar and Today?

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


Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat HaShevua, Balak is sponsored by Mutti and Michelle Frankel and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh in honor of the recent Chassuna of their son Tuvya to Chana (Lieberman) and the recent Birthday of their son Eliyahu. 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
***************************************************

Parshat Balak 5777: A Different Take on Toleration of “Novel, Misleading Ideologies” in Bamidbar and Today?

by Moshe Burt

One can’t discuss Parshat Balak without Bila’am and his donkey. Although our Parshat is named for Balak, the king of Moav, renowned also as a mighty warrior, Balak played largely a supporting role.

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

Hello, I’m Mr. Ed!

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

After the Jews had defeated the Amorite, Balak and Moabite people feared Am Yisrael. (Ramban, as related in commentary at the opening of the Parshat in the Artscroll Stone Chumash, page 857)

Our Pashat opens by recording:

“Balak, son of Zippor saw all that Yisrael did to the Amorite. Moav became every frightened of the people becuse it was numerous… Moav said to the elders of Midian: ‘Now the congregation will lick up our entire surroundings, as an ox licks up the greenery of the field.’ Balak… was king of Moav at that time.”

“He sent messengers to Bilaam son of Pethor…” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 22, posukim 2-5 as rendered by the Artscroll Stone Chumash)

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

“Hashem opened the mouth of the she-donkey, and it said to Bila’am, ‘What have I done to you, that you hit me these three times.’” (Perek 22, posuk 26b as rendered in the Artscroll Stone Chumash)

Sefer Shem Mishmuel (translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski), pages 347-351 comments citing Rashi who quotes Chazal:

It is noteworthy that the word usually employed by the Torah for “times” is pe’amim, but in this verse an unusual form, regalim, usually denoting “festivals” is used.

“These three times.” (Bamidbar Perek 22, posuk 28) — It was a hint that he wanted to uproot the Jewish nation, who celebrate three pilgrim festivals each year.

There are many lessons that we draw from this sudden chain of events; Bila’am’s arrogance, his bias against Am Yisrael which drove him, even when his donkey’s path was blocked, and his deliberate attempts to circumvent and override the Will of Hashem in attempting to curse Am Yisrael. In the incident with his donkey, Bila’am was unable to see or perceive the obstacle, the moloch, which stood in the way of the donkey’s path. There is a profound lesson here for us today as the media, intelligencia, academia and political elites attempt to subvert the masses, create biases among the various sectors of Am Yisrael and orchestrate actions by successive Israeli governments such as to jeopardize the nation’s security and sovereignty.

Shem Mishmuel adds this from Chazal (page 351):

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

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

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

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

The Midrash Says (page 351) describes how:

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

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

Zimri reacted by brazenly challenging Moshe in public.

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

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

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

Zimri’s alleged “L’Shem Shemayim” model; bringing co-habitation with Moabite women into the camp of B’nai Yisrael lest men go looking for it outside, i.e., at the Midianite/Moabite Bazaar where the co-habitation was an enticement and seduction to the avodah zora Ba’al Pe’or, seemed a cover for his (Zimri’s) true motivations and intentions. Zimri’s “In your face, Moshe” demeanor appeared as motivated by lust for power, just as Korach’s true motivations were covered by rationale of accusation of nepotism against Moshe Rabbeinu and Aaron.

But perhaps we can’t entirely equate today’s attempts at incorporation of various alien practices into the camp of B’nai Yisrael with Zimri’s alleged “L’Shem Shemayim” model. R’ Katzenellenbogen’s understanding of Zimri’s actions of incorporating toleration of evil within the Camp of Israel, apparently for the sake of Shemayim, might have had some ostensibly outward well-meaning purpose of promoting a sense of unity among varying sectors of the Kehal.

Today’s either benign or activist attitudes of governmental and political leadership, as well as by the so-called intellectual elites, the progressives, academia, the media, etc. toward toleration as normal or new normal and attempted enforced incorporation of alien practices have no well-meaning purpose. Incorporating practices such as same-gender relationships, separation of religion and state, Shabbos desecration, civil marriage, proselytization of Jews away from Judaism, delegitimizing parts of our Divine Legacy — Eretz Yisrael and more into the camp of Am Yisrael appear as having but one purpose: dilution of all vestiges of Judaism and spirituality amongst Am Yisrael toward creation of an Israel, the state of all of its people rather than Hashem’s intent of Israel, a state of the 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 and that the expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of three years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Chukas 5777: The Importance of Chukim Despite Lacking Full Comprehension, and Their Role in Am Yisrael

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, June 24th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

Parshat Chukas is being co-sponsored by Rabbi Harry and Judith Greenspan of Ramat Beit Shemesh, in memory of their parents, Falik ben Hertske, Miriam Ella bat Yisrael Eliezer HaCohen and Nachum ben Yosef and Janet bat Henry, all of blessed memory, and by an anonymous co-sponsor, also of Ramat Beit Shemesh. To the Greenspan family and our anonymous co-sponsor, many thanks for your co-sponsorships and your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Chukas 5777: The Importance of Chukim Despite Lacking Full Comprehension, and Their Role in Am Yisrael

by Moshe Burt

Our Parshat opens:

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

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

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

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

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

These opening posukim of our Parsha introduce the laws of the Parah Adumah, the Red Heffer whose ashes purify those who had become tamei (contaminated). However, in reality, the chukim of Torah, of Halachot whether regarding the Parah Adumah (the Red Heffer) and it’s purification qualities, Bassar V’Chalav (separation between meat and milk), tumah and taharah (impure or contaminated and pure), or Shatnes (not to wear fabrics with a mix of wool and linen), are but a few of the Halachot for which we don’t possess a deeper understanding and rationale. We are told that at a human level of understanding, the Chukim represent a distinction between spiritual and the mundane, Holiness vs profane. We learn that Chukim are to be accepted as expressions of faith, even though we may not understand, or possess a full understanding of them.

For example, we learn not to mix fish and meat. When we are served a first course of gefiltah fish, salmon, etc. on Shabbos, at a simcha, or at any meal, we make a separation between the fish dish and the next course of meat — a drink whether wine, some other alcoholic beverage, soda [pop] or even water to clear one’s palate of the fish taste before the meat course. We are told that among the most common understandings of this separation is for health reasons, although like chukim such as above and more, there are deeper understandings and rationales of which we lack knowledge.

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

R’ Kaniel writes these powerful words:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To appreciate his words fully…:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good Shabbos!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Korach 5777: Korach’s Rebellion and Today’s Israeli Political Leaders; as Seen by Electorate and Through the Eyes of the Nations

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, June 17th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Korach is being sponsored by Loren and Sora Deetza Spigelman of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated in memory of Moshe Burt’s Father, Me’ir ben Shabtai. To the Spigelman family, many thanks for your sponsorship, your kind gesture and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
olehchadash@yahoo.com
skype: mark.burt3
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Parshat Korach 5777: Korach’s Rebellion and Today’s Israeli Political Leaders; as Seen by Electorate and Through the Eyes of the Nations

by Moshe Burt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As a result of his massive riches, “The Midrash Says” records:

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

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

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

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

Shem Mishmuel relates a thought on Korach from Rashi;

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

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

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

There could be another understanding regarding Korach, with enduring lessons for today’s Israeli electorate and “leadership” contenders, as well how the Jews and Israel are viewed and perceived by the nations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And beyond the electoral impact of such benign attitude toward Shabbos observance, what of the impact of how the nations perceive us? Are we viewed by the nations as hypocrites, our Divine raison d’etre compromised such as to be viewed as non-existent?

And beyond the international perception of us due to the issue of “separation of religion and state”, what of the international impact, of a current equivocal political leadership regarding Am Yisrael’s Divine rights to Eretz Yisrael and to an undivided Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital and Seat of Government, particularly on policies of a newly elected president who has heretofore expressed deep friendship and alliance with Israel? As previously stated, possessing Yehuda and the Shomron and construction freezes are mutually exclusive.

We have already seen this president back off of his oft-repeated pledge to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem which would have seemingly denoted American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital.

Again, googley-eyed Groucho:

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

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

Good Shabbos 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 Shelach 5777: Today’s Battle for the Jewish Soul and Parallels to the False Conclusions of the Miraglim

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest, Demographics Dud Compendium on Saturday, June 10th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

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

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Shelach 5777: Today’s Battle for the Jewish Soul and Parallels to the False Conclusions of the Miraglim

by Moshe Burt

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

This author recalls the infancy of the so-called “peace movement” and modern-day Israeli “progressivism” with its multitudinous tentacles which eventually became the alt-leftist NGOs (non-governing organizations funded by foreign lobbies and governments). The memory harkens back to one Yom Nora’im (High Holidays) the late-1980s in Philadelphia. These were the years just prior to becoming Ba’al Teshuva, and when the seeds of “Shalom Achshav” — “Peace Now” (sic) were being tended by the then-nascent Israeli/Jewish left.

The conservative synagogue attended for Rosh Hoshana and Yom Kippur had a practice of bringing in a young JTS (Jewish Theological Seminary) student as guest “rabbi” to help and assist the synagogue’s long-time Rabbi who was getting on in years. This particular Yomim Tovim, they brought in a young fellow who proceeded to pitch the philosophies of Breira, one of these leftist-agendized predecessors of Shalom Achshav.

These were years before “Shalom Achshav” emerged and succeeded in snowing and propagandizing hundreds of thousands of secular Israelis while sprouting and growing, with the help of European NGOs, numerous different heads and tentacles which connected with leftist, Arabist, anti-semetic foreign funding sources.

And so this young conservative “traditional (sic)” rabbi-to-be proceeded to turn the Torah’s account of the Miraglim (the spies) on its head. He portrayed the evolution of leftist “ideology”; from Breira, to the Progressives, to “Shalom Achshav”: of “land for peace (sic),” as a worthy sequel to Yehoshua and Caleiv, the two spies who took their lives in their hands while standing against the ten to defend Hashem while urging the people on into Eretz Yisrael.

This whole premise of “land for peace (sic)” and portrayals, such as that of this student rabbi-wannabe who equated Yehoshua and Caleiv with contemporary alt-left progressives, is built on a base of unverified “PA” demographics data which successive Israeli governments have accepted as gospel but which been confuted time and again by independent demographic research and data which show:

both the steady high birthrates of the Jewish population in Judea and Samaria and the ongoing and increasing emigration of the Arab population from those areas. The media rarely notes that the reports of massive Arab population growth have been deliberately exaggerated…” (cited from Jerusalem Post piece: Demographic threat? Nonsense, By David Rubin – link has since been deleted by Jerusalem Post)

And as it turns out, these fake “PA” census and demographics data serve as cover for what seems to be a beneath-the-surface manifestation of irrational hatred and disdain, by their proponents, for their religious roots by successive Israeli regimes and their lust to make the Jews, Israelis — a nation of all of its peoples, Jews who know nothing of and are totally devoid of any form of Yiddishkeit and spirituality. Proof of this lacking is the public education system which has sooo failed to educate Israelis in their religious roots such that much of secular chayalim even have no knowledge of, and are unable to recite “Shema Yisrael.”

Rav Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” (pages 326-327) comments: “Beware of false conclusions from the facts you observe”, cites posukim from Parshat Shelach and provides commentary:

“The people who dwell in the land are extremely fierce and the cities are fortified and very great, and we also saw the children of Anak [giants] there…. We cannot go up to the people because they are stronger than us.” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 13, posukim 28, 31)

The Akaidah explains that the report of the spies itself was appropriate. They were told to see the land and report back on the conditions of the land and the people who lived there. But their task was just to observe and relate what they saw. Their mistake was in rendering a decision that they should not attempt to enter the land. It was not up to them to come toany final conclusions, only to report the facts.

They were wrong about their not being able to conquer the land. The Almighty has the power to help against all odds. Just because in their minds they did not think it was possible for them to successfully take over the land of Israel did not mean that it was really not possible.

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

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

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

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

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

What caused the Spies to become corrupted?

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

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

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

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

Rabbi Dr. Wakslak goes on to write:

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

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

And so, true to the form which Rabbi Dr. Wakslak describes, the disunity, and apparent mutual jealousy and distrust within the religious sectors today, coupled with the leftist, elitist intelligencia scoffers whose distorted historical revisionism have fed efforts by successive Israeli governments who sought, seek to divide and conquer, maintain, consolidate and perpetuate their secular kingdom at the expense of the governed and at the expense of Jewish sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael as well as against the advent of a REAL Jewish leadership.

A Real Jewish leadership would be in nobody’s pocket, would not pander to certain sectors of the population for their votes by compromising Halacha, would owe no debts to today’s political hacks, would make no bargains with hacks who would throw any locality or segment of the governed “under the bus.” This Real Jewish Leadership would subserviant ONLY to Shemayim.

If today’s political/governmental leaders only realized and internalized the Eternal Incumbency of Shemayim, maybe they would realize that they need to step aside in favor of Real Torah-true Jewish leadership which epitomizes and reconnects the Jews with their Divine legacy: Eretz Yisrael. Or, if they at least realize that Hashem has been with us for 5777 years, for sixty-nine years of contemporary Medinat Yisrael, brought us victory in our wars of existence and would bring us ultimate victory if we would just act with emunah, rather than seeking third-party cover, protection and approval with the resultant strings attached which actually jeopardize our lives and security.

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

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

Good Shabbos!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Parshat Beha’aloscha 5777: Aaron HaKohen’s Enthusiasm, Constancy of Service and Relentless Pursuit of Mitzvot: Do We Strive to Emulate?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, June 3rd, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Beha’aloscha is being sponsored by Dr. David & Tamar Kallus of Ramat Beit Shemesh is dedicated in honor of the recent Chassuna of their son Mordechai to Sarah Goldreich. To the Kallus family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Beha’aloscha 5777: Aaron HaKohen’s Enthusiasm, Constancy of Service and Relentless Pursuit of Mitzvot: Do We Strive to Emulate?

by Moshe Burt

The opening posukim of our Parsha teach us:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We learn that Aaron HaKohen’s service of kindling of the menorah follows immediately after offerings brought by the Nesi’im of the Shevatim (Tribes) for the dedication of the Mizbeiyach (Altar). The sefer “Inspiration and Insight — Discourses on the Weekly Parashah”, by the Manchester Rosh Yeshivah, Rabbi Yehudah Zev Segal, Shlita, z”l (Translated by Rabbi Shimon Finkelman) discusses Aaron’s distress that he and Shevet Levi had not participated in the dedication, Hashem’s response and the importance of having the right desires (pages 215-216):

Said HaKadosh Baruch Hu to him (Aaron): “By your life, yours is greater than theirs, for you will kindle and prepare the lamps.” (Rashi, from Midrash Tanchuma)

Ramban wonders why Aaron should have felt dispirited, given that the number of offerings which he brought during the seven days of inauguration far exceeded those of the Neisi’im.

To resolve this, we may suggest the following:

In the book of Koheles, Shlomo HaMelech declares; “A lover of money will never be satisfied with money.” (Koheles 5:9) In the words of Midrash Rabbah 1:13, “He who has one hundred wants two hundred, and he who has two hundred wants four hundred.”

One can develop within himself a relentless desire to fulfill the word of Hashem, to strive to do mitzvah after mitzvah without ever wearying of this lofty service…. “A lover of money will never be satisfied with money; a lover of mitzvot will never be satisfied with mitzvot.” (Midrash Rabbah to Koheles 5:9)

Aaron HaKohen epitomized the latter half of the above Midrash. No matter how many mitzvot he performed, it was never enough. Though he had been anointed as Kohen Gadol, had already brought numerous offerings, and would be privileged to perform services that no other Jew could perform, he nevertheless experienced a dispirited feeling at not being included in the dedication of the Nesi’im.

So this author asks; Just as Torah learning is a Mitzvah, are not tefillot also considered Mitzvot every bit as much? Are we not strongly encouraged to say at least one hundred Brachot per day, of which our three Shemona Essrei’s make up over fifty percent?

To illustrate where this is going, years ago back in Philadelphia, it would be suggested that this author arrive at Shul on Shabbos morning up to a half-hour before the Shaliach Tzibbor pronounces morning Brachot in order to be able to keep pace with the Shaliach Tzibbor through P’sukei D’Zimrah. And in the rush to keep pace with the Shaliach Tzibbor, various Shul facilities are often left in a deplorable state after multiple use. Isn’t keeping Shul facilities in neat condition to be considered a Mitzvah?

In the end, many Kehillot continuously complete a full Shabbos tefillah in under two hours, not including the Rav’s drasha, and blow through Aleinu at “mach 1″ speed.

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

Then, in their mad dash out of Shul, they either replace their siddurim and Chumashim on shelves in a haphazard manner, unbecoming these holy siddurim and s’forim, or they simply leave the.siddurim, Chumashim and s’forim where they sat.

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

R’ Mordechai Katz provides this jaw-dropping comment and citation (“L’lmode U’lamed, page 136):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Say “Aleinu L’Shabeiyach” while standing after tefillah and be careful to daven it with kavanah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good Shabbos!
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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Shavu’ot and Parshat Naso 5777: Extending Fairness, Honesty and Merit Toward Ger’im, Ba’alei Teshuva, Olim Chadashim and the Elderly

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Friday, May 26th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our vort on Shavuot/Parshat Naso is being sponsored Jonathan and Debbie Sassen of Ramat Beit Shemesh is dedicated in honor of the upcoming Chassuna of their daughter Lini to Josh Schultz. To the Sassen 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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Shavu’ot and Parshat Naso 5777: Extending Fairness, Honesty and Merit Toward Ger’im, Ba’alei Teshuva, Olim Chadashim and the Elderly

by Moshe Burt

This year, Shavu’ot falls out on Yom Revi’i followed on its heels by Shabbos Parshat Naso. Thus it was deemed fitting that this vort relate to both regarding the Ger, Ba’alei Teshuva and Olim Chadashim.

The lessons gleaned from Chag HaShavu’ot, as well as Parshat Naso regarding national unity as expressed by the Kohanim in the Birchat Kohanim, and fairness, honesty in dealings and interelationships between all types of Jews are pertinent for all-time, not just as paradigm for Matan Torah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rabbi Artscroll says on the posuk that:

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

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

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

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

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

This author should extend discussion this year to one additional important sector of Am Yisrael badly in need of fairness, sensitivity, honesty, merit and respect — the elderly, be they native-born or Olim. Having observed from afar over recent years, via the experiences of my parents, prior to their respective passings, with the services available in the United States: facilities for the elderly based on their individual medical/psychological needs; senior patient advocacy, astute management of seniors’ financial affairs, and overall kindness and sensitivity to each senior’s medical and personal/family circumstances, this author, in observing elderly care here, can only conclude that care for the needs of senior citizens in their advanced years in Israel, when compared with the above, might at some levels be lacking.

In Megillat Ruth, one receives an indication that the road traveled by Ruth was more substantial than love, admiration for Na’omi and concern for her welfare. We reflect on Shavu’ot about the story of Ruth, the Ger Tzeddeket who clung to Naomi saying;

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

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

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

The Sefer Shem Mishmuel explains (pages 302 – 304):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s important to focus on Ruth’s impact and her legacy, by way of the descendents of her union with Bo’az leading to Dovid HaMelech, and ultimately to the Ge’ula Shleima, the Ultimate Redemption, may we act in ways to hasten seeing and living it in our times. It is also important to focus on the kindnesses of Bo’az toward Ruth, as a paradigm for how we should act with kindness, honesty, sensitivity, fairness, honesty and merit toward the Ger, as well as the Ba’al Teshuvah, the Oleh Chadash and yes, the Elderly among us.

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

Chag Some’ach 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 Bamidbar 5777: Flexibility of Jews to Accept Hashem’s Rule and Laws: Hard-Wired to Genes From the Avos, From Yetziyot Mitzrayim?

Filed under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, May 20th, 2017 by moshe | Comments Off


Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Bamidbar is being sponsored Dr. Pinchas and Penina Klahr of Ramat Beit Shemesh lilui nishmas Pinchas’ Father, Nosson Karpel ben Shmuel Zanvil Tzvi (Klahr) and Penina’s Father, Rav Matisyohu ben Rav Yaakov (Weisenberg). To the Klahr family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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

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

Best Regards,

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

Parshat Bamidbar 5777: Flexibility of Jews to Accept Hashem’s Rule and Laws: Hard-Wired to Genes From the Avos, From Yetziyot Mitzrayim?

by Moshe Burt

Our Parshat opens with Hashem speaking to Moshe in the second year after Yetziyot Mitzrayim as the Jews camped in Bamidbar:

“And Hashem spoke to Moshe in the wilderness of Sinai: ‘Take a census of the entire assembly of the B’nei Yisrael according to their families, according to their fathers’ house, by number of the names, every male according to their head count; from twenty years and up…’” Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 1, posukim 1-3)

Rabbi Mordechai Katz, in his sefer “L’lmode U’lamed” (page 129) frames the Jews’ sojourn in the desert (Midbar) with an explanation:

…When a leader wishes to make a momentous announcement to his people, he would usually speak to them from an impressive setting.

In our times, a president, a prime minister would speak to the people from that nation’s most stately surroundings and over radio, TV, internet.

Rabbi Katz continues, and then illustrates the Jews’ acceptance of Hashem and Torah while in the desert in a parable:

Yet Hashem revealed His Torah Laws in a barren, desolate desert.

A wealthy member of royalty… was not satisfied with merely being rich. He desired to be a leader of men. To achieve this goal, he went to members of a well-established town and offered to donate a large sum of money… to the benefit of the town if they would accept him as their leader. The members of the town met privately and returned their decision refusing the man’s offer. They refused the offer because a new leader would have his own way of ruling whereas the townspeople didn’t want to change their established ways.

The man… was not left hopeless. He next went to a settlement that had only recently been organized and made them the same offer. They, too, considered it and accepted the offer, for they had not yet become set in their way of life and were still flexible enough to accept the direction of a new leader.

Thus, when Hashem revealed the laws of His Torah, He chose to do so to a newly formed nation, the Jews. And He did so in the desert, a site devoid of established homes and luxuries, a place where the Jews would not want to stay…. The would be beginning their destiny as a people… and would be willing to accept Hashem’s guidance, His chosen way and His chosen home. They would be flexible enough to live according to the Torah without having to alter any fixed ways. This is why the desert was such a fitting setting
for the presentation of the Torah. It allowed the Jews to emerge as a truly unique nation under Hashem’s direction, free of fixed surroundings and influences of the other nations.

…The site of the desert impressed upon the Jews the importance of humility. Just as the desert contains nothing… but sand, so too the human body is composed of nothing but dust. But just as the desert was transformed into a holy spot by appearance of the Divine Presence, so, too, man becomes a source of greatness if he allows his spiritual spark to dominate his actions.

This author, however, takes some issue, in part, with the analogy proposed in the above parable regarding the B’nei Yisrael.. While true that it is easier to influence a nascent group toward a certain direction or leadership, don’t we learn that the Jews’ predisposition toward acceptance of Hashem and Torah have roots in unique middot such as humility, kindnesses toward others, treatment of guests, etc. which were hard-wired to their neshamot from the Avos? Was not this predisposition toward acceptance of Hashem and Torah further solidified and validated by Yetziyot Mitzrayim (liberation from Egyptian bondage) and Kriyat Yum Suf (the splitting of the Reed Sea as the Jews crossed on dry land)?

This flexibility and acceptance of Hashem’s Rule and Laws by B’nei Yisrael is exemplified in our Parsha’s reference to the Degalim: the flags of the Sh’vatim (Tribes) and their significance:

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

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

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

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

Shem Mishmuel explains further:

Angels are not subject to the vicissitudes of human life and are thus able to enjoy a continuous, high-level relationship with Hashem. Yisrael admired this greatly and asked Hashem if they could also maintain such a relationship. Even while they toiled in the normal physical activities of day-to-day life, they wanted to remain close to Hashem, without ever allowing the physical nature of their lives to impede or cloud that relationship.

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

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

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

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

” … will have a colored flag hanging from it. The color of one will not be the color of the other, the color of each was determined by the color of it’s stone in the breastplate [the Urim Tumim worn by the Kohen Godol].

Through this, each will recognize his degel.” (Rashi, Bamidbar, Perek 2, posuk 2)

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

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

The spiritual meaning of the degalim of Klal Yisrael in the wilderness seems to be expression of deep yearning for, love of, and closeness to Hashem. Further, the degel of each individual Shevet (tribe) seems a representation of that Shevet’s unique expression of love and closeness to Hashem within the collective unity and cooperation of Kol B’nai Yisrael. Oh, that we should experience such unique expressions of love and closeness to Hashem within the collective unity of B’nei Yisrael today, both within Medinat Yisrael and throughout world Jewry.

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

Good Shabbos 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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