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The Large Hadron Collider, trying to figure out what happened when the World was created- $10 billion. Artscroll Stone Chumash- $49.99. Learning what REALLY happened when the world was created- Priceless. There are somethings money can buy, for the re



Updated: 2015-09-17T11:25:44.451+03:00

 



Pesach - True Freedom

2011-04-14T19:42:04.348+03:00

It was the year 1942 and the ghetto of Krakow was completely judenrien. The Great city of Krakow - the epicenter of Judaism in Poland for over five hundred years, was now devoid of Jews, all systematically uprooted by the Nazi beasts. In the middle of this desolation two brothers were hiding, running from bunker to bunker, trying to stay alive amidst all the insanity. The Holiday of Passover was fast approaching and those two brothers had something of great significance on their mind. They had to find a way to eat matzah on the first night of Passover. It took a lot of inventiveness and sacrifice - getting caught meant getting shot - but they built themselves a makeshift oven and found some flour. They were able to bake a small amount of Matzah for themselves. The night of Passover came and they sat down to their makeshift seder - celebrating the Jewish exodus from Egypt. In years past they had sat at a beautiful set table with the finest silver and surrounded by family. Tonight they sat down in a dark attic, all alone in the world, running from the Nazis, their very lives in danger, with a bit of Matzah that they sacrificed their lives for. The younger brother- a 21 year old - calls to his older brother; "There is no way I can have a seder tonight. The seder is to celebrate our freedom, our going out of exile- yet here we sit, our lives in danger, the tragedy unspeakable- our family is all gone, the entire city is up in flames and the Nazis won't be happy until every Jew is dead. Isn't this worse then the lives the Jews had in Egypt? Back then their lives weren't in danger as it is in our time- what kind of freedom are we celebrating tonight?" The older brother answered; "Every night in the evening prayers we praise Hashem for taking us out of Egypt to an 'everlasting freedom'. The everlasting freedom that we gained and are thankful for isn't a physical freedom - that is only a byproduct of what we got that night. Rather it's the spiritual freedom that we recognize. Passover celebrates the birth of a nation, when we went from being Egyptian slaves to becoming a newly born Jewish nation - a nation that G-d could call his own. When we sit down at the seder we celebrate something bigger then life, a going out of slavery into the embracing hands of our father in heaven- becoming 'A G-dley nation'. This is something that no one can ever take away from us - no matter how much they beat, torture and even kill us, we will always remain standing, free to serve G-d. G-d will always have his nation roaming the earth". With those words two brothers- my grandfather and his older brother- sat down to a Seder that only consisted of dangoursly earned matzah and a little bit of borscht which they used as a substitution for wine. Yet this was most probably the most magnificent seder ever experienced.



Parshas Ki Sisah

2011-02-18T16:44:13.026+02:00

The Chafetz Chaim- who was a Kohen- once asked R’ Shimon Schwab “Why aren’t you a Kohen?” R’ Schwab, not knowing what that Chafetz Chaim wanted, answered, “because my father wasn’t a Kohen and nor was his father”. The Chafetz Chaim said that after Klal Yisroel made the Eigal Moshe said ‘Mi l’Hashem alai’ and my great grand father- who was from Shevet Levi answered the call, that is why this Shevet was imbued with extra kedusha. Only Shevet Levi had the courage to stand up for what was right and not get swept up with the masses. That is why i am a Kohen and your not.
How was it that every single descendent of Levi had that courage and not one other Jew was able to join them?

The Rambam in the beginning of hilchos Avodah Zara says that the teachings of Avraham Yitzchak and Yaakov- Yichud Hashem- that Hashem is the sole creator of the universe and he is the only one that runs the world- was all but forgotten from the world- even from Klal Yisroel while they were enslaved in Egypt. The only ones that held on to the teachings of the Avos were the descendants of Levi, the belief in Hashem and his Oneness never left them. Every single descendant of Levi from when they were a newborn in the cradle was ingrained with the emunah of Hashem. The Alter from Navordik says that it is this that gave them the clarity of mind when the world had gone insane. The fact that this teaching wasn’t something they merely learned- but rather it was a deeply rooted tradition that was part of their essence of who they were. When all of Klal Yisroel was lost and was wondering if the true way to serve Hashem is through the Golden Calf- Shevet Levi was able to remain true to their upbringing. The deeper understanding of this is; if something is proven through logic and even if it’s clearly shown to us – it can be disproved if questioned under the wrong circumstances. But if we truly believe in Hashem and believe that he’s that great that we cannot fathom his greatness, then no question or circumstance can change our mind for our belief and tradition is deeper and greater then anything in this world.



Parshas Tetzava

2011-02-11T16:17:32.374+02:00

The Baal Haturim points out that Moshe’s name is not mentioned in this weeks Parsha. One of the reasons he says, is that when Moshe was begging Hashem to forgive Klal Yisroel after the sin of the Eigal, he said to Hashem forgive them or erase my name from the Torah. It would seem that this was a punishment for him - offering to be erased from the Torah - so Hashem erased his name from just one Parsha. This is hard to believe for he sacrificed himself for the sake of Klal Yisroel, so why would he be punished? The Chidushai Harim explains this with a Gemorah. The Gemorah (Baba Kamah 60b) says that if one puts himself in danger for the sake of divrei Torah, we don’t say over Halacha in his name. This also is hard to believe that it is a punishment.
Every member of Klal Yisroel’s neshoma is in essence Torah (Yisroel, Torah and Hashem are all one). The only thing that divides us from the Torah is our guf- our physical bodies.
When one puts his life on the line for the sake of Torah, he is detaching his body from his soul and thus all that remains is just the neshoma which is in essence the same as Torah itself. We cannot say over the Torah in his name for being that the Torah is detached from his physical being it’s not his in a phyiscal sense - it’s/he's pure Torah. So too Moshe, being that he gave himself up for the sake of Klal Yisroel got to the level that the torah doesn’t speak about him as it does in the other Parshas, but rather he becomes synonymous with Torah and is addressed just by the word “Vatah”. For in this weeks Parsha Moshe and Torah are one.
P.S. Further study has to be done why this is expressed in Parshas Tetzaveh and not any other parsha. Take a peek at the Alshich in this weeks Parsha, and Masseh Rokeach on the Mishkan.



Parsha Beshalach

2011-01-14T15:06:31.665+02:00

As Klal Yisroel was standing at the edge of the Red Sea, in obvious danger, they yelled out to Hashem (14;10). Rashi tell us that they davened as their forefathers had davened.
The Avos, even at the peaceful times of their lives, davened their tefilos were always the same- as if they were under distress and their only salvation could come from Hashem. The first time Klal Yisroel was faced with a danger and could not rely on nature was at the Yam Suf. The Egyptians were at their back and the water was in front of them, nowhere to go, no one to rely on, they called out to Hashem- their only salvation. That is what the prayers of the Avos looked like everyday- every tefila was of total reliance on Hashem.
R’ Yerucham Levovitz zatza’l explains that this concept is basic in our relationship with Hashem. The nations of the world’s relationship with Hashem is through teva- nature. Everything they want or need can be found in nature and that is who they turn to when they’re in need- אֵלֶּה בָרֶכֶב וְאֵלֶּה בַסּוּסִים .Klal Yisroel has a personal relationship with Hashem everything we receive is directly from Him. We rely purely on Hashem and His will and nothing in nature can or does influence our relationship. וַאֲנַחְנוּ בְּשֵׁם-יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ נַזְכִּיר -there is no nature at all. This relationship changes what our prayers are to look like. You can rely on nature to sustain you, on horses and chariots to lead you to war. If you do, there will be many times that you don’t have to beg and plead to get what you need- if you plant, you will harvest, if you work hard you will see results- naturally. In your everyday life there will be no need for tefila. Klal Yisroel relies solely on Hashem, everything we get or do is directly from him. If we need a fruit to eat or if we need the waters to split- to Hashem they are all the same- all we have to do is yell out and ask Him. The Avos- who lived with this recognition that every breath, every meal, every miniscule happening in this world, is a direct gift from Hashem, when they davened their tefila was one of total reliance on Him- for that is all we can rely on.
R’ Shimshon Pincus says that purpose of many of the tzoras we suffer, is to come to the realization that everything- big or small, is from Hashem. If we would daven- before calamity strikes, the way we do when we are under distress- a tefila of total reliance on hashem, there would be no need for most of the difficulties we face.

A very Happy Birthday to Zevi B.



Parshas Shemos

2013-01-04T05:36:52.899+02:00

The Parsha begins with the recounting of the twelve children of Yaakov. The Ohr Hachaim says that the Torah is praising them for going down and staying in Mitzrayim. They could have left - they had gone back to Eretz Yisroel to bury Yaakov - and yet they stayed in Mitzrayim, for that they deserve to be mentioned again.
Pesach night we begin the narrative of yetzias Mitzrayim saying that Esav settled in his land - Sayir, while Yakov and his sons went down to Mitzrayim. Who invited Esav to the Seder? Why do we mention him in our narrative of Mitzrayim?

The Medrash says that the land of C'naan was promised to Avrohom and Yitzchok. Of Yitzchok's two sons it remained unclear who should inherit the Eretz Yisroel - Yaakov or Esav. The catch was that Eretz Yisroel comes with a price. It is one of the things that can only be acquired with yisurim. Avrohom was told that his descendants would have to travel through 400 years of golus before they returned to Eretz Yisroel. The golus mitzrayim was the first step to us acquiring Eretz Yisroel. Esav knew all of this and he made a decision that he does not want the yisurim, nor Eretz Yisroel. It's not worth it. Esav took his family and nation and left Eretz Yisroel to settle in Sayir where he was happy and complete. Yaakov on the other hand was focused on the long term. He knew that there was a bumpy road ahead, but he also knew that it was rewarding. Instead of choosing to settle anywhere with his family and be content, he went down to Mitzrayim. He had a nation of Hashem to build. He had to start in golus.

We begin the Pesach seder with the realization that golus is not a punishment, but rather the growing pains to acquire Eretz Yisroel. These are the hardships that Esav chose to give up. So to the Torah begins the golus Mitzrayim giving a special mention to Yaakov and the shevatim for choosing the path of golus in order to inherit the land that was promised to Avrohom.



Vayichi

2010-12-17T15:32:19.445+02:00

Sorry this is the unedited version due to time constraints.

After Yakov died the Shevatim asked Yossef for forgivness. Yosef answered; וְאַתֶּם חֲשַׁבְתֶּם עָלַי רָעָה אֱלֹהִים, חֲשָׁבָהּ לְטֹבָה, לְמַעַן עֲשֹׂה כַּיּוֹם הַזֶּה, לְהַחֲיֹת עַם-רָב.. You thought that you were doing bad but in reality it was for the good – for today I am here and I am able to feed you all.
The Ohr Hachaim says that Yosef answered his brothers; you’re totally innocent. If someone who thinks he is eating trief meat and while not realizing it, it is really kosher meat - he is innocent. The punishment depends on the outcome, is it a good or bad deed. So to, Yosef told his brothers, even though you thought to harm me since it led to good, there is no wrongdoing on your part and you’re free of any punishment. (On a side note- this seems to contradict the famous Chazal that the Shevatim were not totally forgiven and the asarah harugai malchus were an atonement for them.)
The Gemora in Nedarim says; if a lady makes a vow, her father or husband can be nullify it. If it happened that a woman made a vow and goes ahead and breaks the vow. Unbeknown to her at the time of the transgression her neder had been nullified already and in reality she did nothing wrong – she still needs a kaporah for her intention. In light of this halacha the Ohr Hachaim is obviously perplexing. The Shevatim had done wrong – they sold their own brother as a slave. How can they be totally innocent? Even if the end of the story was that it all was for the good, their intention wasn’t for the good and would be enough to warrant a kapporah.
The Pardes Yossef offers an answer that while it may not fit into the words of the Ohr Hachaim it clarifies an issue. What the Shevatim were thinking when the sold Yosef is beyond our comprehension. We cannot begin to understand the machlokas that went on between yosef and his brothers. But there is one thing that we have to know; They all were 100 percent leshaim shomaim – not a tiny bit of their own selves involved. The argument wasn’t a petty one of jealousy, rather a machlokas of two different ways of how to serve Hashem. The Shevatim clearly felt that what Yossef was doing warranted them selling him amd even killing him- his death or his selling- (Just like Sorah and Rivka threw out Yismael and Esav from the family, they to felt that Yossef should be thrown out.) Their intentions bein adom lemokom were one hundred percent to do the right thing.
The Halacha of the Gemora in Nedarim is true when someone has bad intentions and yet his actions are innocent that is when he needs forgiveness. Yosef told his brothers; Being that your intentions were clearly good and so is the outcome – it is just the middle that seemed bad – there is no need to ask for forgiveness, you are totally innocent.



Parsha Point to Ponder - Vayigash

2010-12-10T13:03:26.547+02:00

In Parshas Vyeshev Rashi tells us that all the Torah Yaakov learned in the yeshiva of Shem and Ever, he taught to his son Yosef.
Why did Yaakov send Yehudah to Mitzraim to open a Yeshiva and not give the job to Yosef who was in Mitzraim already?



Chanukah

2010-12-03T14:39:38.428+02:00

By definition golus is when one is exiled in a foreign land. The third golus we went through as a nation- the one that gave us Chanukah, was that of Yavan- the Greek empire. Yet we were in our homeland, with the Bais Hamikdosh standing, all along. What about the struggles we went through with the Greeks is categorized as golus? The Marsha (Megillah 11a) answers: The objective of the Greeks in their conflict with Yisroel was to take the kedusha out of Am Yisroel. The Greek philosophy was that there is no kedusha in the world, nothing is holier then the next thing- Yisroel is just like any other nation, the Torah is just as mundane as any other subject and the Holyland, Eretz Yisroel, is just like any other land in the world. In their fight against Yisroel the Greeks were successful in uprooting the kedusha from Eretz Yisroel thus making our homeland foreign to us. The three golios that took place outside of Eretz Yisroel are compared to a son that is lost and far away from his father. The golus of Yavan is compared to a son who doesn’t recognize his father’s house, thus feeling like a foreigner while he is in his own home. With the kedusha taken out of Eretz Yisroel, Eretz Yisroel itself became the foreign land we were exiled to. The victory of Chanukah had to have included in it the freedom from this struggle. With the Neis of Chanukah the kedusha was put back into Eretz Yisroel and was once again the home of Klal Yisroel.
Chanukah was the completion of the dedication of the second Bais Hamikdosh. Chasmal tell us that when they returned to Eretz Yisroel to build the second Bais Hamikdosh, Ezra sanctified the land for eternity- ‘kudsha leshata ul’usid lavoh’. R’ S. R. Hirsch (Bamidbor 15;18) explains this to mean, that the goal of the second Bais Hamikdosh was to equip Klal Yisroel and prepare them for the centuries of dispersion that lay ahead of them. The victory over the mighty Greeks completed the work of sanctifying the land that Ezra had started, making the kedusha of Eretz Yisroel a reality for eternity. Bringing the second Bais Hamikdosh and the kedusha of Eretz Yisroel to completion- a kedusha to last for eternity.



1 Comments

2010-11-19T14:31:49.742+02:00

As Yaakov was in battle with the angel, the malach said, “Let me go for it's morning" Chazal tell us that he meant that 'it's time for me to sing shira to Hashem'.
The Koshnitzer Maggid asks - If he knew that he has to sing shira at a appointed time why did he pick a fight with Yaakov so close to that time? Wouldn’t it have been smarter for him to fight with Yaakov after he sang shira?
The answer lies in the understanding of who the angel was and what his tachlis- purpose on this world. Chazal teach us that the angel was the 'sar shel Esav' also known as the yetzer horah.
On the last day of creation it says, (bereishes 1;31) "Hashem saw all that he had made, and lo! It was very good." The medrish explains that 'It was good' refers to the yetzer tov, while the 'very good' refers to the yetzer horah. The meforshim explain that life would be nice and calm without an evil inclination, but without any tests we wouldn't be able to grow. Being challenged by the yetzer horah and overcoming it is what makes this world 'very good'. The whole purpose of creation in general and the evil inclination in particular is to help us grow by overcoming the obstacles we are faced with and when we do, the evil inclination has accomplished it's purpose of creation.
Shira is sang to Hakodosh borech hu when a mission has been accomplished. The precise second that the angel saw that he could not win over Yaakov, that in fact Yaakov had overcome his fight with the yetzer horah, his mission was completed successfully and thus was able to sing shira to Hashem.



Parshas Va'yietzai

2010-11-12T13:58:06.595+02:00

Avraham referred to the makom hamikdosh as har Hashem- the mountain of Hashem. Yitzchok called that same spot sadeh- a field. In this week's parsha Yaakov calls it bais Elokim- the house of Hashem.


Maseh Avos siman l'bonim- everything that the Torah tells us that transpired to the Avos, is a sign to what their children will go through. Yaakov was the Av that taught us how to live life in golus. He was the one that lived through exile, in a hostile environment and flourished and grew despite the antogonism of Lavan and Esav. We are to learn about the life of Yaakov and learn the lessons of how to live through the long golus.

As Yaakov was leaving Eretz Yisroel- running away from a brother who wanted to kill him, running to live by an uncle who wanted to destroy him- he first stopped at the Makom Hamikdosh to daven. How would he be able to survive the hostilities he was about to face in the house of Lavan- so far from the kedusha of the house of Yitzchok? His hope was to build a house of kedusha for only a house can protect him from the outside influences. His last stop before going into exile was the makom hamikdosh- the source of kedusha in this world. He built himself a house of kedusha in that spot to take along with him on his journey through golus.


אַחַת שָׁאַלְתִּי מֵֽאֵת־יְהֹוָה אוֹתָהּ אֲבַקֵּשׁ שִׁבְתִּי בְּבֵֽית־יְהֹוָה כָּל־יְמֵי חַיַּי - Dovid hamelech asks Hashem for one thing- to dwell in the house of Hashem all the days of his life. Isn't that request a bit unrealistic? Dovid had to take care of his kingly duties, to take heed of and solve the problems of the country and of the Jewish people. He had to deal with other kingdoms, meet with his ministers, and make crucial decisions accourding to the will of Hashem. How could he pray to dwell in the house of Hashem ALL the days of his life? Reb. Sarah Schenirer (Carry Me In Your Heart by Pearl Benisch, Feldheim Publisherd- pg. 127) answers: The whole universe is a House of Hashem. Wherever we go, whatever place we occupy, we can make it a dwelling for Hashem. Whatever we do, every day and every minute of our lives, we dwell in Hashem's house if we do everything with His will in mind. Everything we do, say, and feel, in dealing with people or in practicing our professions with honesty and truth according to Hashem's commandments, we dwell in Hashem's House all our lives. Dovid's wish was that he be able to live his life and yet never leave the house of Hashem.


Yaakov was the first one to go into exile. On his way he was taught an important lesson. One can be doing the most mundane things and yet be dwelling in the house of Hashem. Hashem made sure that Yaakov went to sleep at the makom hamikdash, to teach him that if you build a house of Hashem, a house of kedusha- anywhere in the world, anything you do in it- even sleep, if it is done to bring you closer to Hashem, is the highest form of service of Hashem.

Parshas Vayietzai Ponderable Points:
Why is it important for the Torah to tell us the give and take between Yakoov and the shepherds about the rock on top of the well and that Yakoov (The 'ish tam') was able to roll it off himself?

Why did Yakoov offer to work for seven years?
(In the Torah we find we find the concept of working for six- days, years and resting the seventh. Shabbos, Shmitta and eved evrey)

Is there a significance that all the Shvotim where named by their mothers? (With the exception of Levi)

How come Yakoov left Lavans house before his mother called for him, as she said she will?



Parshas Toldas

2010-11-05T15:11:06.926+02:00

The world knew that there is a set of twins growing up in the house of Yitzchok that were vastly different. Yaakov was אִישׁ תָּם יֹשֵׁב אֹהָלִים, while Esav was אִישׁ יֹדֵעַ צַיִד אִישׁ שָׂדֶה. It was quite obvious that yakov would be the bearer of the mesora handed down from Avraham. It was clear to all - except to Yitzchok. וַיֶּאֱהַב יִצְחָק אֶת-עֵשָׂו כִּי-צַיִד בְּפִיו. Yitzchok was apparently fooled by Esavs behavior not just did he love him but he also wanted to bestow the brochas on Esav before he died. How do we understand that Yitzchok was shortsighted and didn’t see the faults of his son? Why did he want to give the brochas to Esav over Yakov?
The example we are given of how Esav fooled Yitzchok is that he would ask ‘how does one tithe salt?’ Is their any significance to this question or is it just a random example of the kind of questions Esav would ask?
There is a partnership known to Jews as 'Yissoschar - Zevulan' partnership. The people of Yissoschar were known to be the greatest Torah scholars- they toiled in the Torah all day. Who was to support them? Where would they have the money to live on? The answer is in the tribe which neighbored them. The people of Zevulan were tradesmen. The piece of land that they were allotted was strategically situated near the port - they made their fortune by trading. But what would be of their Torah learning? If they worked all day when would they learn? Zevulan was to support Yissoschor, it was to be a fifty- fifty partnership. Half the money that the people of Zevulan profited in their trade was to go to the people of Yissoschor as means of support. In return the people of Zevulan received half of the Torah learning done by the people of Yissoschor. When Yaakov and Moshe- respectively - blessed Klal Yisroel before their deaths they both blessed Zevulan before Yissaschor. They made the point to teach us that both of the partners had an equal share in the learning of Yissoschar. Both the learners and the supporters would share the reward.
The Imrai Noam (R’ Mier of Dzikev) explains; Yitzchok was not fooled by Esav – he knew exactly what his strengths were. He realized that Yaakov and Esav had two different personalities, that Yaakov was the studious type while Esav was a man of the fields. Yitzchok envisioned a world where these two opposite personalities would come together and form one group. His hope was for Esav and Yaakov to build a Yissoschar – Zevulan type of relationship. It would be the only way for Esav to lead a fulfilling life. Esav would go out and make the money supporting Yaakov who would sit and learn torah- bringing ultimate harmony to the world, and both Yaakov and Esav would share the reward. It is precisely in this respect where Esav fooled his father. He wanted to know the exact halachos of masser and tzedaka, he tried to impress upon – and succeeded in fooling - Yitzchok that he was fulfilling his part of the deal, he was ready to give tzedakah even from salt in order to support Yaakov.
The Brochos of Yitzchok were blessings of an abundance of wealth – the pleasures of this world. Yitzchok wanted to give Esav the wealth and that he should share it with Yaakov leaving him free to spend his days learning- thus giving Esav a part of the world to come.
P.S. It is worthwhile to read R’ Shamshan Refoel’s essay on Yaakov and Esav in Collected Writings volume 7. He explains the two personalities of Yaakov and Esav as we did.



Parshas Chai Sora

2010-10-29T15:27:57.788+02:00

When Eliezer went out to find a wife for Yitzchok, he planned a simple 'test' to see which girl would be right for Yitzchok. He would request a drink of water from a girl. If she would give him and then offer his camels to drink, she would surely be the right wife for Yitzchok.There are two middos that seemingly are the same, but are vastly different- the midda of chesed and that of rachamim. Both look the same, for both involve giving to someone anything that he lacks. Yet the difference is elementary. A baal rachamim dosn't just give out of the goodness in his heart. If a pauper comes his way he feels bad and hurt for the fellow and helps him accordingly. As much mercy as he has on the poor man, that's how much he will help him- he is there to fill the needs of others. A baal chesed on the other hand is much greater. He is someone that feels a need to give, a need to help others. This need stems from his own feeling that he must give and goes out to find people that he can do favors for. That was the middah of Avraham- chessed. On a scorching hot day he sat outside looking and running after guests- for he felt a need to give and couldn't rest unless he was helping someone else. Eliezer was looking for someone who was ready to join the house of Avraham and the most important quality she had to posses was that of chessed. He devised a plan to see if the girl was a baalas rachamim or was she on the higher level of a baalas chessed. He would ask her for a drink - if she was a baalas rachamim she would gladly offer him- a wary travler- some water to drink. But he was looking for much more. He wanted to see if she would go the extra mile and do extra for him. Would she out do her duty and find a way to give more- was she a baalas chessed? If she offered the camels a drink also, she did more then she was asked- then she was the right one to join the house of chessed.
In the zemiros of Friday night we say, דורשי יי זרע אברהם אוהבו. המאחרים לצאת מן השבת וממהרים לבא
Why do we refer to Klal Yisroel as the children of Avraham when we say that they anxiously wait for Shabbos to begin?All mitzvahs have an exact time and place when and how they can and should be done. We have no right to add or subtract fom any mitzvah. We don't have permission to do a mitzvah more then we are told to do just because we want to do more - it is baal tosef. The only mitzvah we could add to is Shabbos. We can accept Shabbos a little early and extend it a few hours into the night after nightfall- the mitzva of Tosfes Shabbos. That is the way we show Hashem that we serve him not because we are told, but rather because it's what we really want to do- our middah of chessed in doing mitzvahs. The middah of Avraham is what gave us the zechus of Tosfes Shabbos.



Parshas V'yaira

2010-10-22T15:39:45.287+02:00

The T'az gives two reasons for the minhag to say Parshas H'akeidah every morning. Firstly, to invoke the memory of the akeidah and z'chus avos. Secondly, to help us in our fight against the yetzer horah. Just as Yitzchak was moser nefesh for Hashem's will, so too can we fight the yetzer horah in own selves.

The Tanya goes to great lengths to explain that every Jew - even the simplest Jew - is ready and willing to die for Hashem's sake. There is an emunah p'shuta inherint in every Jew that is above anything in this world. It doesn't have to be proven; it can't be proven. No logic can explain a Jew's inner belief that Hashem is one and the creator of all. It's factual and facts need no logic. (The seforim explain that while it is good to learn inyanim that deal with proving Hashem and his existence, your belief in Him should be only with pure emunah. For any proof or logic you have can be disproven by someone smarter or more logical than you. However, emunah cannot be discussed and is not in danger of being disproven. The Baal Shem Tov used to say of himself: "After all the levels I have reached, my emunah in Hashem is like that of a little kid - I just believe.")

If a Jew is faced with the choice to worship avodah zarah or die, even if all his senses tell him to bow down, if logic dictates that he bow down. It is his inner emunah that screams, "How can you? How can you deny Hashem's existence for even a second? How can you not give up your life for Hashem?" This voice is louder and will defy any common sense.

The Tanya goes on and brings this into the everyday life of a Jew. When faced with an inclination to do something against the will of Hashem, remind yourself of this. You would be willing to die for Hashem's will. How big is your taivah to do wrong? Can it be bigger than dying? If you're willing to die for not being separated from Hashem for even a second, you should be able to overcome any desire you have and not go against His will.

Yitzchak is the av that taught us mesiras nefesh. He went to the akeidah on the basis of pure emunah. (Hashem didn't speak to him, only Avraham heard directly from Hashem). He was ready to give up his life for Hashem. It didn't make sense for him to go, yet he listened to his father - for he knew that it was what he must do. It is from him that we learn to overcome our everyday yetzer horah.



Parshes Lech Lecha

2010-10-15T14:15:25.680+02:00

After Avraham got to the land of Cannan, the land was struck by a famine and Avraham - putting his wife in moral danger, went down to Mitzraim. How was it that Avraham left the land to which he was directed and did not trust Hashem the one who knows how to provide in hunger and desert? How did he seemingly expose the moral well-being of his wife to such a danger just to save himself? The Ramban writes; "Avraham comitted a grave sin in his behaviour towards his wife and even deserting the land to which he had been directed was already a sin". All the meforshim are bothered and try to explain this Ramban; How can- and for what purpose- does the Ramban write that Avraham sinned? R' S. R. Hirsch Zatza"l offers us an insight into the way the Torah looks at- and teaches us about- our forefathers and great men. (The following is a direct quote taken from the R' Isaac Levy - Judaica Press traslation.)
"This statement should not worry or mislead us. The Torah never presents our great men as being perfect and says of none "here you have the ideal, in this man the divine becomes human". Altogether it puts the life of no man before us as the pattern out of which we are to learn what is right and good, what are we to do, what to refrain from doing. Where the word of Hashem would set a pattern for us to imitate - it places no man born of dust - there Hashem says "look at me, imitate me, wander in my ways". We are never to say: This must be right for did not so-and-so do it! The Torah isn't "collection of examples of saints". It relates what occurred, not because it was exemplary, but because it did occur.
The Torah never hides from us the faults, errors and weaknesses of our great men. Just by that it gives the stamp of veracity to what it relates. But in truth, by the knowledge which is given us of their faults and weaknesses, our great men are in no wise made lesser but actually greater and more instructive. If they stood before us as the purest models of perfection we should attribute them to having a different nature, which has been denied to us. Were they without passion, without internal struggles, their virtues would seem to us as an outcome of some higher nature, hardly a merit and certainly no model that we could hope to emulate. Take for instance Moshe's humility. Did we not see that he could also fly into a passion, his meekness and modesty would seem to us to be his natural disposition, and lost to us as an example. Just his שמעו נא המורים gives his humility its true greatness, shows it to us as a result of a great work of self-control and self ennoblement which we all should copy- for we all could copy."



Parsha Point To Ponder- Chukas

2010-06-18T18:48:11.589+03:00

We find that Moshe davened 515 tefillos trying to reverse the decree that he cannot go into Eretz Yisroel.
Why do we not find Aron - who recieved the same decree at the same time- davening at all for the privilge to enter the holy land?



Parshas Shelach- Tzitzis

2010-06-04T12:17:02.194+03:00

A huge Mazel Tov to Y.H. and M. Brachfeld on the birth of a baby girl. May you see tons of nachas from her and the boys!

Rashi says that the blue string on the Tzitzis is to remind one of the sea which is blue, which in turn reminds one of the sky, which is supposed to remind one of the heavenly throne of Hashem. A lot of the meforshim ask, if Tzitzis is supposed to remind us of the throne, why does rashi give us the connection in a roundabout way? Futhermore, the Torah tells us that Tzitzis, by merely looking at them (The Charaidem says that it is positive commandment to just look at you Tzitzis), reminds us of the 613 mitzvos and offers protection from the temptations of this world. (The Bach- siman 8, Mishna Berurah- holds that to properly perform the mitzva you have to have keep in mind that tzitzis reminds us of the 613 mitzvos.) What is about Tzitzis that the Torah tells us will help us remember the Mitzvos of Hashem and protect us from the temptations of Olam hazeh?

R’ S. R. Hirsch explains; the protection that Tzitzis provides against the temptations of this world, isn’t just magic- but rather a practical suggestion by the Torah. The pleasures of this world stare us in the face. The ‘reward’ of following your heart and eyes are instant, the pleasures of this world offer instant gratification. As opposed to spiritual reward- by nature- is hidden from us, we cannot see or feel it in our life time. It takes deep self introspection to realize that doing what the Torah says is the right thing to do. The only way to fight the temptations that are right in front of us is to really look at the options and see what is it that we are giving up for that quick pleasure. When you look at your Tzitzis what is it that you see? Is it just random strings? That is all you’ll see if you look at it superficially and you’ll then struggle with the ‘taavis’ of the world around you. Rashi is telling us to take a deeper look and see a connection- albeit one that’s not so recognizable, but definitely there- a real and deep lasting connection to Hashem. Tzitzis are blue strings that links you all the way to the heavenly throne and offers a path to rise above the struggles of this world. Just like the Tzitzis the beginning you will feel all tied up and restricted, but you’ll come to the realization that you’re the freest person in the world!



Parshas B'eholoscha

2010-05-28T15:53:23.042+03:00

In this week’s Parsha we learn that the first Pesach in the desert- a year after they left Mitzrayim- Klal Yisroel sacrificed the Korban Pesach. This was the only korban Pesach they sacrificed in all the forty years they spent in the midbar. Rashi says that this was an embarrassment to Klal Yisroel. The reason they didn’t offer the Pesach any of the other forty years was because they were not able to circumcise their children in the desert, because there was a danger involved. Iif one has a son who isn’t circumcised he is not permitted to eat from the Korban Pesach. The Ramban asks: if they had a valid reason not to eat the Korban Pesach- which they did have- why does Rashi say it was an embarrassment to them?
The pesukim that follow tell of a few Jews who were impure and unable to participate in that first Pesach. They came to Moshe complaining, “Why should we be kept back from offering the korban at the appointed time in the midst of Bnei Yisroel?” Since their yearning was earnest Hashem told Moshe of a new mitzvah- the mitzvah of Pesach Sheini. The Chidushai Harim explains; Klal Yisroel had a valid reason not to bring the Korban Pesach and so did the people were impure the first year. The ones that were impure that first year didn’t give up- they had a real yearning to participate in the festivities. It was their yearning - at a time when they truly were excused from the mitzvah - that changed the reality and created a new mitzvah. Had Klal Yisroel- in all their forty years in the Midbar, really felt like they were missing out on something, had they had that true yearning- something would’ve changed, there would have been a way for them to bring the Korban Pesach. They were excused from bringing the Korban Pesach and that wasn’t anything to be ashamed of. The embarrassment was that they were passive about not being able to bring the Korban Pesach. They were missing that yearning, that real desire to do the mitzvah. There are many things in our lives that we cannot do- all for very good reasons, but do we really have that yearning and drive to do good?



Shevuos

2010-05-18T00:43:57.380+03:00

The phrase 'naase v'nishma' and its sequence which places 'naase'- doing- before 'nishma'- hearing, originates with the Malachei Hashareis. It could be said only by them, for it expresses the fact that hearing is not essential to angels, nor is it what brings them to do the will of Hashem. Malachim have no free will, they have no reality except to do the will of Hashem. Obviously, they must hear if they are to know what they are to do, but their actual doing needs no causes. Their very name identifies them- malach means messenger - they have no existence except to be sent and to serve. 'No malach can be sent on more then one mission' because their mission becomes their essence, and they cannot have more than one essence. Precisely because all reality for malachim is in their doing- they are beings that do, naase must precede nishma.
And this became the precise nature and character of the new creation which emerged at Sinai. From the moment of Matan Torah there exists upon this earth a creation whose essential reality, whose entire existence, is to do the will of Hashem. The name of this creation is Klal Yisroel. Reb Yerucham Levovitz once said; "The greatest act of bechira is to choose to lose your bechira". When we proclaimed in unity 'naase v'nishma' we chose as a nation to become angel like, to have only one reality- to do the will of Hashem.
The supreme achievement of Matan Torah was not that heaven descended upon earth, the supreme achievement was the fusion of heaven and earth into one entity and the concerns of heaven are the only reality upon earth. Hashem, Yisroel and Torah became one. Hearing is no longer essential to Klal Yisroel, nor is it the cause for doing. Doing now comes because we are one with Hashem. And so Klal Yisroel also said 'naase' before 'nishma'- just like the Malachim.
(Pachad Yitzchok Shevuos Maamer 4:7- traslation from; Citadal And Tower I page 82)



Today In Jewish History- Rosh Chodesh Sivan

2010-05-14T01:18:10.615+03:00

The Torah begins the narative of Kabolas Hatorah on Rosh Chodesh Sivan: בַּחֹדֶשׁ, הַשְּׁלִישִׁי, לְצֵאת בְּנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל, מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם--בַּיּוֹם הַזֶּה, בָּאוּ מִדְבַּר סִינָי. On that day the arrived at Midbar Sinai. The Torah then continues the narrative: וַיִּסְעוּ מֵרְפִידִים, וַיָּבֹאוּ מִדְבַּר סִינַי, וַיַּחֲנוּ, בַּמִּדְבָּר. They left Rifidim (Klal Yisroel's previous dwelling) and came to Midbar Sinai, and rested in the Midbar.
The Ohr Hachaim asks; Why does the Torah tell us that they arrived at Midbar Sinai before it tells us where they came from and then returns and begins the story all over again?
The Ohr hachaim answers: The day K'Y arrived at Sinai, ready to receive the Torah- was awaited for by the creator, the Torah and the world. From the day the world was created, the universe was eagerly awaiting- when will Klal Yisroel get to Midbar Sinai. At the moment they arrived, the Torah just blurted out- without having patience to go through the entire narrative- בָּאוּ מִדְבַּר סִינָי- the day we're anticipating for so long is here- Klal Yisroel arrived at Sinai!- the heavens and earth were rejoicing! It is only after that that the narrative with all the details can be said.



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2010-04-30T01:45:10.011+03:00

The pure righteous do not complain of the dark, but increase the light; they do not complain of evil, but increase justice; they do not complain of heresy, but increase faith; they do not complain of ignorance, but increase wisdom. - Rav Kook



Parshas Achrai

2010-04-23T02:49:53.877+03:00

The Kohen Gadol was not allowed to wear any gold when he entered the Kodesh Hakedoshim on Yom Kippur. Rashi explains that since the eigel was gold, we don’t want that sin to be remembered at the holiest time of the year- ‘The prosecution cannot become the defense’. The korban Ahron offered for himself and the Kohanim on Yom Kippur was par- a cow.
Why is it that no gold was worn for there is to be no reference to the eigel, yet the offering of the Kohen Gadol was an adult eigel- a cow? Why wasn’t that a reminder- one that we were trying to avoid- of the eigel?
To properly understand Klal Yisroel’s sin of the eigal is beyond the scope of our understanding. However we can learn the words of Chazal and how they explained it to us. We are taught that on some level Klal Yisroel was guilty of worshiping Avodah Zorah. That was Klal Yisroel. Ahron, however, made the eigal. How is it possible that Ahron- the Kohen Gadol, the head of Shevet Levi- who was the only tribe completely innocent of any wrongdoing at the eigel- stumbled so low to actually build an idol?
The Chein Tov, (I would like to publicly thank my uncle Yossi for sharing this piece with me and for opening the glorious sefer to the general public) in the name of R’ Shlome Alkavetz- the Baal Lecha Dodi- explains that Ahron, by making the eigel, was glorifying Hashem’s name. The Gemora says that if one contemplates committing a sin, he is not punished, except for the sin of avodah zorah. If one merely contemplates and thinks of worshiping avodah zorah his thoughts are like deeds and he is guilty of sinning. Klal Yisroel came to Ahron. They wanted to make an idol. Ahron realized that at that point - they were planning and wanted to worship avodah zorah - they were guilty already, even before they took any action. Klal Yisroel would be punished for their thoughts and no one would know why they were punished- for only Hashem knows people’s thoughts. Ahron felt that a great chillul Hashem would ensue had Klal Yisroel been punished for no apparent reason. By building the eigel, Ahron demonstrated for all to realize that Klal Yisroel was deserving of punishment.
The sin of the eigal was a shameful episode for Klal Yisroel. Hence when the kohan Gadol went into the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur he did not wear any gold for it reminds of that shameful act. Ahron in his own avodah on that Holy day- when he asks for forgiveness for himself and all of the Kohanim- has nothing to be ashamed of, he wasn’t guilty of any sin at the eigel. Thus Ahron can bring a porah on Yom Kippur.



Parshas Hachodesh

2010-03-17T19:59:36.883+02:00

Blissful are those on whom the sun of fortune shines continuously, whose sky is not overcast, and who bathe in the warm noontime rays of light. Happier still are the redeemed ones who exclaim with joy at the sunrise of liberation having experienced the loneliness of the night. Blissful are the angels who, without blemish and sin, eternally pure, perform their Divine service at the throne of G-d. Even more joyful are those who raise themselves from the mire of sin to light and purity, who struggle for the light, who battle for purity, who vanquish the power of darkness and depravity. - R' S. R. Hirsch on Parshas Hachodesh.



Story Time

2010-03-17T19:59:59.595+02:00

Rav Ezriel Hildesheimer was one of the big German gedolim that saved German Jewry from the enlightenment movement in the mid 1800s. Together with gedolim like Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch he implemented the yeshiva system of 'torah im derech eretz' where as part of the yeshiva curriculum they taught secular studies. For twelve years he was the head of the Yeshiva in Eisenstadt, Hungary. He was just the third German rav to be appointed rav in Hungary, and was the first one to open a yeshiva in Hungary that taught 'Torah im derech eretz'.
A certain rabbi, one of Rav Hildesheimer's own friends, was visiting the yeshiva. He was also present when secular instruction was being given. "We often speak of you," said the guest, "and we ask ourselves how you find time for lessons in secular subjects". "The time you spend speaking about me I use for teaching these general subjects, without detriment to my shiurim", answered Rav Hildesheimer.



PURIM

2010-02-26T15:44:10.093+02:00

Hashem’s name isn’t mentioned in all of Megilahs Esther. Chazal tell us that every time the word ‘Hamelech’ is mentioned it refers to the king of all kings- Hashem.
When one says a story of ‘the rebbe’ or ‘the rosh yeshiva’, he can mean a few different people- it depends on who his rebbe/ rosh yeshiva is, who he’s talking to or the context of the conversation. But if there is a central rebbe/ rosh yeshiva that everyone looks up to and everyone recognizes, then when you mention ‘the rebbe/rosh yeshiva’ it can be assumed that you’re referring to him.
Dovid Hamelech praises Hashem for לְעֹשֵׂה נִפְלָאוֹת גְּדֹלוֹת לְבַדּוֹ– He alone performs great wonders. Why is it a praise that he does so himself? Isn’t that obvious, if it’s truly wondrous, then it came from Hashem himself. The Yosef Lekach on Megilas Esther explains; Hashem does wondrous things that only he himself knows that their truly wondrous. We live our everyday life not realizing that everything that’s going on around us is being orchestrated by Hashem, for our benefit. The miracle of Purim is when we saw this crystal clear. We saw and lived through events that made no sense and even seemed horrific. A Jewish girl was taken against her will, to be Queen, yet no one knew that she was Jewish. Imagine how the Jews felt, they have one of their own living in the palace and yet she cannot do anything to benefit them- for no one knows she’s Jewish. All this and many other circumstances were all part of the divine plan to wondrously save Klal Yisroel. לְעֹשֵׂה נִפְלָאוֹת גְּדֹלוֹת לְבַדּוֹ -Only Hashem knows how truly wondrous he runs the world.
Purim we saw that everything in this world is run by Hashem. That even the mightiest human king cannot stand in the way of Hashem’s daily wonders. When we read the megilah we come to the realization that every Hamelech is indeed Hashem.

For Parshas Zachor go here.

Mazel Tov to Babbi, Uncle Yossi and Yisroel Dov on the birth of a baby boy!



Parshas Mishpotim

2010-02-12T14:15:12.382+02:00

The Divrei Yoel writes; on Tuesday night parshas Lech Lecha he dreamt that it was Friday night parshas Mishpotim and a thought came to him. The medrash compares the words וְאֵלֶּה, הַמִּשְׁפָּטִים אֲשֶׁר תָּשִׂים לִפְנֵיהֶם with the words of Thillem- מַגִּיד דְּבָרָו לְיַעֲקֹב; חֻקָּיו וּמִשְׁפָּטָיו לְיִשְׂרָאֵל לֹא עָשָׂה כֵן, לְכָל-גּוֹי וּמִשְׁפָּטִים בַּל-יְדָעוּם . . The posuk starts with saying that Hashem gave chukim and mishpatim to Klal Yisroel, and continues to say that he did not teach mishpotim to the goyim. Shouldn’t the second posuk also read that the goyim weren’t taught chukim and mishpotim? Even more so the definition of chukim is something without a reason- one would think that that was given only to us, while the goyim were given mishpotim - the logical commandments?
When Klal Yisroel received the Torah, we got much more than a set of commandments. We received the permission to understand them and to learn them according to our ability. We have the responsibility to interpret the holy words of the Torah and apply them to our lives. The basic meaning and understanding of the dinim could, and do change according to Klal Yisroel’s understanding. We were given chukim- laws without meaning, just a set of commandments chiseled in stone. Through our toil in Torah we turn the chukim into mishpatim- laws that we understand and relate to. The nations of the world only received a set of rules to abide to. They were not given the ability to understand them and so for them it remains chukim.
Rashi writes that Hashem told Moshe וְאֵלֶּה הַמִּשְׁפָּטִים אֲשֶׁר תָּשִׂים לִפְנֵיהֶם– teach the laws to Yisroel. Don’t just teach them the halachos once and twice, rather lay them out like a set table. (For a nice thought on this Rashi click here) Moshe thought that all he is to teach Klal Yisroel was the dinim he learned. The tammai mitzvos - the depth of the mitzvos - he thought wasn't meant for them. Hashem told him, don't just teach them the dry dinim- the chukim, teach them the ways of learning and understanding Torah. Teach them the Torah as mishpotim.