Rabbi Zev Eleff in his 2016 book, Modern Orthodox Judasin quotes a 1954 Der Tog article in which Rabbi Yoseph Ber Soloveichik was asked three questions and the Rov’s response was published. One of the questions was asked by a young man who had moved to the suburbs. There was no orthodox Shul nearby and asked the Rov if he, the young man, can hear shofer in a Shul with mixed seating. The Rov said, “It would be better not to hear the shofar than to enter a synagogue whose sanctity has been profaned.” The Rov went on to say,”Orthodox organizations should undertake to build synagogues in the suburbs and new communities where Jews are settling. If the various synagogue organizations . . . wound concentrate in America they could accomplish much.”
It is over 65 years since the article and I just realized that Chabad is fulfilling the Rov’s wishes and the Rov’s prophecy. I was speaking to Rabbi Avrohom Gershon and he told me that his son, Rabbi Mordechai Gershon, opened up a Chabad house at 1501 S. Indiana, in the South Loop of Chicago. I was amazed. I already knew that Chabad had a number of places on the North side, but did not realize how much Lubavitch has penetrated the City. Someone told me that in opening up a new store, his company used a 2.5 mile radius around a store to be part of the store’s community. Chabad/s biggest gap is between Bnei Ruvain and Chabad of East Lakeview, a 6.5 mile walk. Lincoln Square is roughly in the middle. I am sure that Rabbi Hertz is working on setting up a Chabad house in Lincoln Square.
I attend the Chabad of East Lakeview. Rabbi Kotlarski is working to create a community and a full time Shul. One of the benefits he has is that there is an Eruv in the community. There is no problem with Chilul Shabbos. It is a joy watching this formation.
In the attached letter to Rabbi Ciment of Boynton Beach, FL, I spell out what a Shul means to congregants. Lubavitch is giving Jewish people eternity.
Walking the six miles from my house to Chabad of East Lakeview on Shabbos Parshas Noah, I thought about the luxury of an Eruv. Setting up a large community Eruv that would encompass many of these Chabad houses or individual Eruvim around these Chabad houses would be a major benefit for the Lubavitch Rabbis and for the Jewish people. Carrying on Shabbos would be one less worry for them. I realize that this is a difficult undertaking in terms of Halacha and money, as I do not have the money to fund the project, but I would like to put this out in the public consciousness, especially to the leaders of the community.
Rabbi Sholom Ciment ℅ Chabad of Boynton Beach 10655 El Clair Ranch Road Boynton Beach, FL 33437
Dear Rabbi Ciment:
Thank you for a beautiful Simchas Torah that I was able to celebrate with my grandkids. Your speeches were excellent over Yom Tov. If you have them written down or an outline, please email me.
Your Yizkor speech was about connecting generations. I saw a beautiful paragraph in a book titled, The Miracle of Intervale Avenue written by Professor Jack Kugelmass. The book was first published in 1986 and again in 1996 with an update. The book is about the last remaining Shul in the South Bronx, the Intervale Jewish Center, which was Orthodox. Professor Jack Kuglemass was an anthropology graduate student and first entered the Shul in February 1980 thinking he would write a magazine article on the last remaining Jews in the South Bronx. He ended up spending over 5 years visiting the Shul on a regular basis and wrote a 250 page book about the Shul and its people.
Jack Kuglemass talks about why these elderly Jews stayed in the South Bronx and attended the Interval Jewish Center and talks about the expected. Towards the end of the book, Jack Kugelmass comes to realize something important about the Shul to its members and why they stayed in the South Bronx. He writes, “For congregants concerned about their legacy and needing the reassurance that they will be remembered, the Intervale Jewish Center has come to serve as a communal kaddish, guaranteeing to each member the recitation of the memorial prayers.” and “For some congregants yorsayt is a major reason for attending.”
Then Professor Jack Kugelmass sums this up with a powerful, powerful conclusion. He writes, “Ultimately, only the knowledge that one is part of something greater than familial bonds and obligations, something that reasserts the existence of a higher order of things, gives man the sense that death and life are linked, that they are both part of a divine plan, and that one gives meaning and purpose to the other. The communal rites of the shul provide that sense of order if only because they tie congregants to the world of their fathers and even, as I argued in an earlier chapter, to the world of their biblical forefathers.”
I have reread this paragraph numerous times and it is profound. Professor Jack Kugelmass was not Frum, yet he came to realize the ultimate purpose of a Shul, and what it should mean to its congregants. For most of my life I thought that Shul was just a place to daven and it really did not make a difference where I davened. I discovered that a Shul must be more than just a place to daven. It must connect the person to his past and to the Jewish people.
This is also what a Rabbi must do. He connects his congregants to something greater than their lives. In your case, it is the Rebbe, events, and Torah. I connected to Boca Raton Synagogue and never wanted to leave. Rabbi Lopatin at Anshei Sholom in Chicago connected his congregants to Rabbi Lopatin’s world. Through Rabbi Lopatin, I was able to experience an AIPAC convention, and a CUFI convention. When Rabbi Lopatin attended a Friday morning breakfast for the dedication weekend of the Holocaust Meusem in Skokie, that Shabbos in his Drasha, Rabbi Lopatin expressed his displeasure with the breakfast. I was part of Rabbi Lopatin’s world. His successor, Rabbi Wolkenfeld, connects me to beautiful Torah. Once he explained a Rashbam magnificently. His recent Shabbos Shuva Drasha was perfect. He discussed a question a congregant asked him, which Rabbi Wolkenfeld then asked Rabbi Tzvi Rimon. Rabbi Rimon wrote back discussing the basic laws of Shmitta, going through the Pesukim, then the Rishonim, the Rambam, Shulchan Aruch, etc. Rabbi Wolkenfeld’s Drasha, was Rabbi Rimon’s answer. He connected his congregation to Rabbi Rimon, the Salsheles of Torah and made them part of it. I am watching Rabbi Kotlarski of Chabad of East Lakeview trying to establish a new congregation out of nothing and I am able to be part of it. When I take the one hour and forty-five minute trek to Lakeview, I first walk to Anshei Sholom to hear Rabbi Wolkenfeld’s speech, then I walk over to Chabad of East Lakeview . Additionally, I am able to give a Shiur at Rabbi Kotlarski’s Chabad house. While it is only a small group, my goal is to connect these people who never learned to the world of the Chumash and to the great Reshonim. To a Rashi, an Ibn Ezra, a Sferno, a Ramban so that they feel part of the Reshonim’s world, the Torah world. I hope to make them feel that they are present when Rashi wrote his commentary. I know this is arrogance on my part that I think that I am accomplishing this, but at least in my mind I am.
I loved attending Anshei Sholom that at times. I would drive there Friday, right before Shabbos, Daven for 30 minutes, and walk 5.5 miles back home. I needed the inspiration of Davening in that Shul. I was under tremendous pressure at work and I needed to feel a connection to Hashem. Other times going to Shul Friday night, before I could Daven I had to read Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ Torah.
Understanding the first two Verses of this week’s Sedra
Verse 31:1 VaYelish Moshe – Moshe went. Where did he go?
Verse 31:2 Why didn’t Moshe Go Into Israel
This week is Shabbos Shuva. We ate by Sidney and Lisa Friday night and I overate. To make up for it, I walked to Anshei Shalom and Chabad of East Lakeview, walking 13 total miles. The temperature was in the mid 80s and I sweated.
I arrived at Anshei Shalom at 10:15. They were already done with Leining. I davened Musaf and then after Kedushah I davened Scharis. Met a few of my old friends. Spoke to Jonathan Silverstein, Mateo and Ilana (Borzak) Aceves, and Josh Lewis, who recently had a second child. Rabbi Wolkenfeld gave his Shabobs Shuva Drasha at 11:45 AM. Rabbi Wolkenfeld asked Rabbi Tzvi Rimon a question on Shmittha. Places advertise that they will sell a person a 4 Amah by 4 Amah plot of land so that someone in America can observe Shmita by having their newly purchased land lay fallow. Rabbi Rimon went through the Mitzvah of Shmittah and basically said, it is a nice thing to do, but there is no requirement.
At 12:45 walked over to the Chabad of East Lakeview. I arrived towards the end of their Kiddush. Washed and had Cholent along with a chicken wrap. Afterwards I gave over some Torah in the Chumash Shiur we have in honor of Dr. Leonard Kranzler..
The question is asked. Where will Moshe go? The Torah does not explain. Similar to Parshas Korach which opens with ויקח קרח. The Meforshim strive to explain what Korach took. Either he took himself to one side to fight with Moshe or he took the 250 members of the Sanhedrin. Here too in our Parsha Meforshim try to explain where Moshe went.
To put this Parsha in context, this was the last day of Moshe’s life. In the previous Parsha of Netzvim, the entire nation stood before Moshe and Moshe brought them into a covenant with Hashem. In VaYalich Moshe is again speaking to all the Jewish people. Was Parshas VaYalich a continuation of the previous Parsha in which Moshe continued to speak to the entire congregation who were assembled or not.
First Explanation – Rashi
Rashi: וילך משה. וגו’ – Moses went, etc.
Seemingly Rashi is saying nothing. וגו means etc. Artscroll notes this and says that this Rashi is not an explanation of anything, just giving us a marker that this is a new Parsha. Artscroll explains – “these words do not appear in most early editions of Rashi. They were added, with or without the word וגו, in later editions, in order to identify the beginning of the new parashah.” Meaning that these are not the words of Rashi. For some reason the editor of Chumash decided to put in these words.
Okay, perhaps, but Artscroll would have to explain why only here do we have these words and not any other Parsha. I am very reluctant to diminish any word that we have in our printed editions.
I think that Rashi wrote this and this one abbreviated word וגו is a commentary of וַיֵּ֖לֶךְ מֹשֶׁ֑ה.
The word וגו means “and the continued text” in the Torah. Rashi is saying that Moshe went and continued to serve as the agent of Hashem to Israel. He told the people of his impending death and that they should be strong, God will be with them. וילך משה is not that Moshe went anywhere, but he continued to serve the Jewish people.
Second Explanation – Ramban, Ibn Ezra, Chezkuni- Moshe went to each tribe.
The Ramban and Ibn Ezra explain it as Moshe went to each tribe. (The Ramban does not say to each tribe, but I assume that is what he meant.) In the previous Parsha, Parshas Nitzavim, the Jewish people were standing in front of Moshe. After entering the Jews in the Bris with God, the people went home to their tents. This Parsha starts off with וַיֵּ֖לֶךְ מֹשֶׁ֑ה . The Ramban and Ibn Ezra say beautifully that Moshe went to each tribe to say his goodbyes. This is his last day on earth. Meeting with each tribe individually, Is a more intimate setting then with all of Israel together. This was very emotional. I could see the following transpiring – Moshe thanked them for following his leadership. He told them that we had done it, we have come to the promised land. The people cried and apologized for any problems they caused. Moshe cried. They hugged and kissed each other. Then he told them that God will be with them and that they should be strong and fearful. He told them that their leader is Yehoshua, that he is a good man. The Ibn Ezra goes so far to say that at this time is when he gave each tribe their Bracha that is written in וזאת הברכה .
The Chezkuni adds that Moshe’s inability to gather all the people is for a different reason Moshe normally assembled the people by blowing the חצוצרות and everyone knew to assemble. However, since Moshe was to die that day, the powers of leadership were taken away from him and he could not find the חצוצרות to assemble to people because God hid them from Moshe. Moshe was forced to go to each tribe and this produced a beautiful, emotional goodbye.
Ramban – The Ramban eloquently says this Pshat.:
וילך משה כאשר השלים כל דבריו אז הלכו כל הנצבים לפניו והטף והנשים איש לאהליו ולא הוצרך הכתוב להזכיר זה כי כבר אמר (לעיל כט ט יא) אתם נצבים היום כלכם לפני ה’ אלהיכם וגו’ לעברך בברית ה’ אלהיך ואחר עברם בברית ילכו מפניו ויאמר הכתוב עתה כי משה הלך ממחנה לויה אל מחנה ישראל לכבדם כמי שירצה להפטר מחבירו ובא ליטול רשות ממנו:
AND MOSES WENT. When Moses concluded his words, all who stood before him, and the young children, and the women returned to their own tents. It was not necessary for Scripture to mention this [that they returned to their tents], for it already stated, Ye are standing this day all of you before the Eternal your G-d;1Above, 29:9.that thou shouldest enter into the covenant of the Eternal thy G-d,2Ibid., Verse 11. and [it is self-understood that] after having entered the covenant they would go away from him [Moses]. And so Scripture now states that Moses went from the camp of the Levites to the camp of the Israelites in order to show them honor, like someone who wishes to take leave of his friend and comes to ask permission of him.
וילך. הלך אל כל שבט ושבט להודיע שהוא מת שלא יפחדו וחזק לבם בדברי יהושע על כן כתוב אחריו ואתה תנחילנה אותם ולפי דעתי כי אז ברך השבטים ואם ברכותיהם מאוחרות במכתב:
AND MOSES WENT. Moses went to each tribe and tribe to inform them that he was about to die and that they should not fear.1For they would not be left leaderless. He strengthened them. He encouraged them. with his words to Joshua.3Be strong and of good courage; for thou shalt go with this people into the land, etc.,(vs. 7,8). Scripture therefore afterwards reads, and thou shalt cause them to inherit it (v. 7). I believe that at that time he blessed the tribes. This is so even though the blessings are recorded later.6
חזקוני – continues on this same theme.
וילך משה מאהל מועד שהיה דר שם שנאמר והחונים לפני משכן ה׳ משה ואהרן ובניו. והלך לו אצל כל שבט ושבט להודיעם כי הוא מת ולא יפחדו אך יחזקו לבם בדברי יהושע, ולמה הוצרך לטרוח וללכת אחריהם היה לו לכנסם בחצוצרות שעשה משה, אלא אמר ר׳ יהושע דסכנין משום ר׳ לוי חצוצרות שעשה משה במדבר כיון שנטה משה למות גנזן הקב״ה שלא יהא משה תוקע בהן והם באין אצלו לקיים מה שנאמר ואין שלטון ביום המות.
Third Explanation – Sforno – He was self-propelled, motivated. Moshe felt the need to comfort the Jewish people tribe by tribe on his impending death and do not be sad. Be glad that you have entered into the covenant with God. This is what we all strived for and you have to continue in strength.
וילך משה התעורר לזה כמו וילך איש מבית לוי. וילך ויעבוד ודומיהם. וזה שאחר שהשלים עניני כריתת הברית התעורר לנחם את ישראל על מיתתו כדי שלא יערבבו שמחת הברית הראויה להם להורות על היותם מקבלים הברית בשמחה על דרך ישמח ישראל בעושיו כאמרו וזבחת שלמים ואכלת שם ושמחת לפני ה’ אלהיך:
He roused himself to do so, just as was Amram, Moses’ father who married his aunt Yocheved, daughter of Levi, and almost certainly many years his senior. (Exodus 2,1) Another of many uses of the word VaYelich meaning that the person described acted of their own initiative is found in Deut. 17,3 where the Jewish idolater described had not been seduced by anyone, the idolator roused himself to believe in a foregih deity. After having concluded the matter of the covenant between G’d and this second generation of Israelites, many of whom had not been born at the time of the Exodus, Moses now proceeds to comfort the people over his impending death. He does so in order that the joy over G’d having concluded this covenant with them should not be turned into sorrow over the prospect of his impending passing from the scene. Rejoicing over having been found fit to become a party to such a covenant is something natural, the psalmist in Psalms 149,2 speaking of Israel rejoicing with or over its Maker. Being in G’d’s presence, such as here, is always a joyful experience, as is offering sacrifices to Him, as we know from Deut. 27,7.when the occasion was to mark the erecting of the stones after the successful crossing of the river Jordan.
Fourth Explanation – Baal Haturim: Moshe went to the Avos, Avrohom, Yitzchok, and Yakov to tell them that God is fulfilling his promise that the Jews are to enter the land of Israel. The Baal Haturim links the last Pasuk of last week’s Sedra to the first two words of this Sedra.
The Me’am Lo’ez sums it up.
“Mose’s tent was situated before the Sanctuary, set off slightly from the encampment of the remainder of the people. He went from tribe to tribe, telling the people that although he would die today, they should not fear the future. Rather, they should follow Joshua and dara confidence from this leadership.
Usually, Moshe gathered the entire people by sounding the trumpets specifically made for this purpose. On this day, God stored them away so that Moshe could not use them for this purpose, thus giving expression to the adage ’There is no authority on the day of one’s death.”
Although Moshe surely had many personal concerns on this final day of his worldly existence, he ignored them all and sought to reassure the Jewish people. This is the many of the righteous. Rather than be involved in their own personal affairs, they dedicate themselves to the welfare of the entire Jewish people.
Artscroll: He said to them I am one hundred and twenty years old today, I can no longer go out and come in,, for Hashem has said to me, ‘you shall not cross this Jordan’.
Sefaria: He said to them:
I am now one hundred and twenty years old, I can no longer bLit. “come and go.”be active.-b Moreover, the LORD has said to me, “You shall not go across yonder Jordan.”
Artscroll translates it like Rashi and the Sefaria translates the pasuk like the other Rishonim.
The Reshonim work to explain this Pasuk. The issue is that If you notice, first the Pasuk says I am 120 years old and (therefore) I am no longer able to go and come, seemingly because I am old. Then the Torah adds another reason why I can no longer lead you and why I will die, because God told me that I will not cross the Jordan.
Rashi on Verse 31:2
לא אוכל עוד לצאת ולבוא. יָכוֹל שֶׁתָּשַׁשׁ כֹּחוֹ, תַּלְמוּד לוֹמַר “לֹא כָהֲתָה עֵינוֹ וְלא נָס לֵחֹה”, אֶלָּא מַהוּ לא אוכל? אֵינִי רַשַּׁאי, שֶׁנִּטְּלָה מִמֶּנִּי הָרְשׁוּת וְנִתְּנָה לִיהוֹשֻׁעַ. דָּ”אַ — לצאת ולבוא. בְּדִבְרֵי תוֹרָה, מְלַמֵּד שֶׁנִּסְתְּמוּ מִמֶּנּוּ
מָסוֹרוֹת וּמַעְיְנוֹת הַחָכְמָה (סוטה י”ג):
I CAN NO LONGER GO OUT AND COME IN — One might think that this was because his physical strength failed him! Scripture, however, states (Deuteronomy 34:7) “His eye was not dim nor his natural force abated!” What then is the meaning of לא אוכל? It means: “I am not permitted” (cf. Rashi on Deuteronomy 12:17 and Deuteronomy 24:4), because the power (leadership) is being taken from me and given to Joshua. — Another explanation of לצאת ולבוא is: I can no more take the lead in the matter of the Law; this teaches us that the traditions and the well-springs of wisdom were stopped up for him (cf. Sotah 13b).
וה’ אמר אלי. זֶהוּ פֵּרוּשׁ לא אוכל עוד לצאת ולבוא — לְפִי שֶׁה’ אמר אלי:
וה’ אמר אלי — This (according to the previous comment) is the explanation of לא אוכל עוד לצאת ולבוא: I can no more go out and come in because (ו = because) the Lord has said unto Me, [Thou shalt not pass over this Jordan].
Rashi on Verse 31:2 explains that לֹא־אוּכַ֥ל ע֖וֹד לָצֵ֣את וְלָב֑וֹא is the effect and the cause is וַֽיהֹוָה֙ אָמַ֣ר אֵלַ֔י לֹ֥א תַעֲבֹ֖ר אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּ֥ן הַזֶּֽה׃, which is the cause. It is one statement, I cannot come and go because God is not letting me cross the Jordan.
Normally when you write you would write the cause first, God said to me that I cannot cross the Jordan, thereforeI am not able to come and go.
The driving issue for Rashi is verse 34:7 says וּמֹשֶׁ֗ה בֶּן־מֵאָ֧ה וְעֶשְׂרִ֛ים שָׁנָ֖ה בְּמֹת֑וֹ לֹא־כָהֲתָ֥ה עֵינ֖וֹ וְלֹא־נָ֥ס לֵחֹֽה׃ “Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died; his eyes were undimmed and his vigor unabated.” Moshe at the end of his life was full of life as before, he did not age. As a result of this Pasuk Rashi says that the reason why “he is not able” is because God said to him, you will not cross the Jordan River, per below.
As a result of the way the Torah is written the Ramban, Ibn Ezra, and The Daas Zekanim say that these are two different reasons. 1) I cannot go and come because I am 120 years old; and
2) God is not letting me cross the Jordan.
The Ramban has a twist on the first reason as follows:
Ramban – Verse 31:2 tells us the Moshe gave the Jews two reasons why he could not continue to be their leader.
Reason #1 – לֹא־אוּכַ֥ל ע֖וֹד לָצֵ֣את וְלָב֑וֹא –
Ramban – Moshe was still strong and vibrant, he only said he was old to comfort the Jews on his death to tell them he is old.
Reason #2 – God is not allowing me to continue as leader. He is not letting me cross the Jordan.
ויאמר אלהם בן מאה ועשרים שנה אנכי היום וזה לנחם אותם על ענינו כלומר אני זקן ואין לכם עוד תועלת ממני ועוד כי השם צוני שלא אעבור שם ואל תפחדו ואל תיראו כי ה’ יעבור עמכם לא יסלק שכינתו מכם בעבורי ויהושע הוא העובר לפניכם במקומי ואע”פ שמשה רבינו היה בתקפו ובבריאותו כאשר העיד הכתוב (דברים ל״ד:ז׳) לא כהתה עינו ולא נס לחה אמר להם כן לנחמם ורש”י כתב (רש”י על דברים ל״א:ב׳) לא אוכל עוד לצאת ולבוא לפי שה’ אמר אלי לא תעבור את הירדן ואינו נכון ועל דעת ר”א (אבן עזרא על דברים ל״א:ב׳) לצאת ולבוא למלחמה כי חלשו כחותיו בזקנותו וגם זה איננו נכון ורבותינו אמרו (סוטה יג) מלמד שנסתתמו ממנו מעיינות חכמה והיה זה במעשה נס שלא ידאג לתת גדולה ליהושע בפניו:
AND HE SAID UNTO THEM: ‘I AM A HUNDRED AND TWENTY YEARS OLD THIS DAY.’ This was to comfort them concerning his condition [i.e., about his approaching death], as if to say, “I am old and you have no more benefit from me. Moreover, G-d has commanded me that I should not go over there. Do not dread and do not be fearful, for the Eternal will go over with you; He will not remove His Presence from you on my account [i.e., because of my absence], and Joshua, he shall go before you in my place.
Further, Verse 3. you in my place.” Now, although Moses our teacher retained his vigor and health, as Scripture testifies, his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated,4Ibid., 34:7. he told them this [“I am old and you have no more benefit of me”] in order to comfort them [over the transfer of leadership to Joshua].
Now, Rashi wrote: “I can no longer go out and go in, because the Eternal hath said unto me: Thou shalt not go over this Jordan.” But it is not correct.5The text reads: ‘Vashem’ (‘and’ the Eternal) said unto me. Now, Rashi explains that the connective vav, which generally means “and,” signifies “because.” It is this interpretation which Ramban considers incorrect because vav always means “and,” not “because.” Mizrachi, too, raised this objection to Rashi and left it unanswered. See, however, in Ma’aravi where a different version of Rashi’s text is cited, in which the connective vav has its usual meaning. And in the opinion of Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra the expression I can no longer go out and come in means to war, because his powers weakened in his old age. This too, is not correct.6For Scripture testifies: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated (further, 34:7). And our Rabbis have said:7Sotah 13b. “This teaches us that the well-springs of wisdom were stopped for him.” This was a miraculous event in order that Moses should not be troubled [about the transfer of leadership to Joshua] and [G-d] bestowing honor upon Joshua in his [Moses’] presence.8See further, Verse 14.
Daas Zekanim – I am old
בן מאה ועשרים שנה אנכי היום לא אוכל עוד לצאת ולבא. כי זקנתי ועוד כי ה’ אמר אלי לא תעבור את הירדן וגו’. ואתם אין לכם הפסד בדבר כי ה’ אלהיך הוא עובר לפניך ואין לכם כמוהו. ד”א לא אוכל עוד לצאת ולבא ולא משום חלישות אלא משום שה’ אמר אלי לא תעבור וגו’:
Ibn Ezra – I can no longer go out to war
לצאת ולבוא. במלחמה והטעם כי אילו לא הייתי מת עתה אין בי יכולת להלחם ואין לכם צורך למי שיעזור אתכם כי השם ישמיד הגוים גם יהושע והעד מה שראיתם בעיניכם במלחמת סיחון ועוג:
Reason #2 according to everyone – וַֽיהֹוָה֙ אָמַ֣ר אֵלַ֔י לֹ֥א תַעֲבֹ֖ר אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּ֥ן הַזֶּֽה׃ – God told me that I cannot cross the Jordan, meaning that I will die now, today.
Rashi learned that it is one reason because later on it said that at 120 Moshe was still a vibrant person. The Ramban agrees with Rashi but says that Moshe said I am aged to give them comfort on his upcoming death. It was true that Moshe is old. How do you explain that later verse according to The Daas Zekanim and Ibn Ezra. I think that while Moshe is still vibrant, he could not continue as a leader. Leadership would take too much out of him and he can not do it any more.
The LORD your God Himself will cross over before you; and He Himself will wipe out those nations from your path and you shall dispossess them.—Joshua is the one who shall cross before you, as the LORD has spoken.—
I had planned to walk to Anshe Sholom to hear Rabbi Wolkenfeld’s Shabbos Drasha and attend their welcome back Kiddush. Afterwards walk to Chabad of East Lakeview. They were having a Bat Mitzvah and an Aufruf. Chabad’s Cholent is a Pesach Cholent and Kiddush is the best. As I walked out of my house, I had to change my pants three times because each pair was stained including the pants I had just picked up from the cleaners. By the time I was ready to leave, it was too late to make Rabbi Wolkenfeld’s speech and since I would miss most of Davening, I stayed and davened at Sidney’s Minyan. He was in South Haven. There was a nice Kiddish. Just give me Cholent and I am happy.
I spoke at Shalosh Seudos and the following is my speech.
We are fortunate to have Chazzen Silber with us. I have listened to his Torah for years at Mishna Ugemora. (As a side note, I am very intimidated when I say Torah with Chazzen Silber listening.)
There are three Tefilos that I love from Chazzen Silber. One is on Shabbos Mevorchim, his יהי רצון. Chazzen Silber said that his father composed the tune for him. I would time Chazzan Silber when he chanted the יהי רצון. Usually it took about 10 minutes, with the record 20 minutes. Once his daughter, Dina, called him from Israel excitedly telling him that they were playing his יהי רצון one Erev Shabbos Mivorchim. The second Tefilah is the אב הרחמים right before Musaf, it evokes the whirlwind of the Holocaust, and the third is his אהבת עולם on Rosh Hashana night.
There are a number of Divrei Torah from the Kotzker on this week’s Sedra that are pure Kotzk. The first Kotzker Vort:
“Let me, I pray, cross over and see the good land on the other side of the Jordan, that good hill country, and the Lebanon.”
The Kotzker comments are follows:
Devorim Verse 3:23 says – אֶעְבְּרָה־נָּ֗א וְאֶרְאֶה֙ אֶת־הָאָ֣רֶץ הַטּוֹבָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֖ר בְּעֵ֣בֶר הַיַּרְדֵּ֑ן הָהָ֥ר הַטּ֛וֹב הַזֶּ֖ה וְהַלְּבָנֹֽן׃. The Kotzler asks what is the intent of the Torah in the above Pasuk when it says וְאֶרְאֶה֙. Obviously if Moshe were to enter into the land of Israel, he would see the land. The Kotzker answers that Moshe’s prayer was also on the ראיה – the seeing, not just on crossing over into Israel. A person who is working on anything must pray that Hashem will show him the good in what he is doing.
The Vort by itself is beautiful. We have to pray that we see the goodness in everything we do.
Perhaps a deeper understanding is as follows. Everything we do has goodness wrapped in it. We have to recognize it and pray to Hashem that he show us the goodness. Giving Tzaddikah is obvious. However, for most of our daily lives, we just have to open our eyes and pray to Hashem to show us the goodness that results from our actions. When I worked at a bank, I routinely waived overdraft fees and bank charges. I felt that I was preventing calamities. I was setting the person’s mind at ease and making him feel better. This was especially true for someone who lived paycheck to paycheck. I was doing Avodas Hashem and felt the bank was better off in many ways from my generosity. In that rare instance, the person in front of me with this request may be having a bad day. By waiving the fee, I put the person in a better mood and now his earlier frustration is gone. I know what it means to get hit with an overdraft charge. That person’s frustration and anger did not result in a calamity. It could have resulted in yelling at his wife and kids later in the day and from there resulting in worse things. Good comes from even mundane acts and part of our prayer is that good should flow even from our mandance acts. We should pray to merit to see the goodness.
A person who is in a trade, such as an electrician, plumber, etc does tremendous Chesed working his job. Ezra Moskowitz is a plumber. I told Ezra, you are not just a plumber. You are doing the work of Hashem. All of us can understand what it means to have an honest and reliable plumber, especially a Frum person. Another example. Pizza stores are centers of Chesed. Klal Yisroel needs relatively inexpensive, tasty food to feed their families. The owner running the pizza store is feeding Klal Yisroel and this is what I see when I walk into a pizza store.
“But take utmost care and watch yourselves scrupulously, so that you do not forget the things that you saw with your own eyes and so that they do not fade from your mind as long as you live. And make them known to your children and to your children’s children.”
רק השמר לך ושמור נפשך מאד פן תשכח וגו’. השמר לך ר”ל שמירת הגוף ולא הזכיר בו מאד כמו בשמירת הנפש אשר בשמירתה צריך האדם להזהר ביותר מבשמירת הגוף לכך אמר ושמור את נפשך מאד.
Look out for yourself and guard your life exceedingly- מאד . “Guard yourself” means look after your physical body. It does not add “exceedingly” ( מאד) as it does after the second part of the verse which refers to guarding one’s soul, because one must be even more careful to protect one’s soul than one’s body.
The Kli Yakar focuses on the word מְאֹ֗ד . By watching your soul it says מְאֹ֗ד, however, in the first part of the pasuk by watching your body, the Torah does not use this word.
The Kotzker seems to say the same thing but focuses on the first word of the Pasuk רק. The Kotzker says:
“רק השמר לך ושמור נפשך מאד: והדקדק מבואר ויש לפרש על פּי הידוע כי תיבת רק מיעוט הוא והיינו רק השמר לך, שתשמור את הגוף מעט ושמור נפשך מאוד, כי העיקור לשמור את הנפש “
The editor of the Sefer אהל התורה has a beautiful footnote on this Vort”
The Editor in his footnote explains that while on the surface it seems that the Kli Yakar and the Kotzker are saying the same thing, as the Editor phrased it, “these two prophets, prohitized in the same style” however, the Kotzker is – משונה לשבח. The Kotzker is saying that your Neshamah is covered with physicality. Once you humble your physical body, it becomes translucent and your inner soul – the צורה – enlarges and increases its light, because it is no longer covered up. It seems that Kotzker is expressing the idea in a more Chassidic bent. This is what Chazzan Silber says that a person’s Neshamah is always pure.
The editor’s ending is beautiful – “ואף כי מי הוא זה אשר יקח העטרה לעצמו אשר יאמר כי הוא זה הפירוש האמתי בּדברי מרן הנורא האלקי זי״ע אכן תורה הוא וללמוד אנו צריכין”.
“Who is the person who can take a crown for himself – take the initiative – and say that this is the true understanding of the words of this awesome man of Hashem, however, it is Torah and we have to learn it.
Kotzker Vort #3: Devorim Verse 4:23 – Beautiful Vort and pure Kotzk.
But if you search there for the LORD your God, you will find Him, if only you seek Him with all your heart and soul—
The Kotzker asks two questions”:
וצריך להבין כי תיבת משׁם לכאורה כמיותר? ועוד דתיבת ומצאת היה צריך לכתוב לבּסוף?
We have to understand, the word מִשָּׁ֛ם is extra and the word וּמָצָ֑אתָ should be at the end of the Passuk.
The Kotzker answers:
ונראה כי “משׁם” היינו מעומק נקודה הפנימיות שבּלב ועל ידי זה כִּ֣י תִדְרְשֶׁ֔נּוּ בְּכׇל־לְבָבְךָ֖ וּבְכׇל־נַפְשֶֽׁךָ והיינו שׁתמצא מציאה יקרה ונעלה מאד כי תתאוה לדרוש את ה” בּכל לבבך ונפשׁך בכל פּעם יותר ויותר:
The “משׁם” is not referring to the location of the soul searching, but is referring to looking inside of oneself for that place in your heart where you connect to Hashem. Once you find that connection you will desire to continue to inquire of Hashem with all your heart and soul on higher and higher levels.
Beautiful. This is brought out in Sivan Rahav-Meir’s article in this week’s Jewish Press.
What did Omri Casspi tell me?
e on emare on printTranslation by Yehoshua Siskin
“I hope it was an easy fast for all who fasted.” This was the first sentence spoken by Omri Casspi, among the greatest Israeli basketball players, at his press conference yesterday evening in which he announced his retirement. I have nothing to add to all the praises of the world’s elite basketball players who spoke of the professionalism, the humility, and the perseverance of the boy who grew up in Yavneh and made it to the NBA. But I was reminded of when Casspi interviewed me on his podcast and opened our conversation with this surprising statement: “I departed for the United States as an Israeli only, but I returned also as a Jew. He explained this transformation as follows:
“Outside of Israel, if you do not create an identity, it will not happen on its own. I lived in places like Sacramento, Cleveland, and Houston – without a large Jewish community. But at some point, I stopped and said to myself: ‘Wait a minute, what is going on with me?’ I felt a sense of obligation and began thinking: I represent something, but I know nothing about what I represent.
For example: I land in Boston and American Jewish kids are waiting for me there with much excitement and they are staring at me. I represent for them the Jewish nation, the State of Israel, but I am conflicted. After all, if you go outside in Los Angeles on Yom Kippur, it’s just a regular day, traffic as usual. If you do not do something special on Shabbat, you won’t feel any Shabbat. It’s your responsibility to do something since you are not in a Jewish country.
My wife and I went through this process together, as a family – Friday night dinner, kiddush, tefillin, holidays, community, Jewish education, kosher food. I felt a sense of obligation towards myself and towards the Jewish community. Many Israelis feel this over there, but there are many unfortunately who do not. Only there was I able to understand that I am an emissary of something great. Sometimes you need to go far away in order to come closer, to discover who you really are.”
Wishing you much success, Omri, as you continue in the game of life.
Sivan Rahav-Meir is a media personality and lecturer. Married to Yedidya, the mother of five. Lives in Jerusalem. She works for Israel TV news, writes a column for Yediot Aharonot newspaper, and hosts a weekly radio show on Galei Zahal (Army Radio). Her lectures on the weekly Torah portion are attended by hundreds
Sivan Rahav-Meir’s column had another beautiful article, titled The Bench.
Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
Shani Avigal, mother of six-year-old Ido Avigal from Sderot who was killed in the recent “Guardian of the Walls” conflict, is still healing from her painful loss. Yesterday she wrote me the following:
“I thought a lot about how to memorialize Ido, how he would want me to memorialize him. I thought about the value of friendship and that it was sometimes difficult for him to connect with others. Whether in kindergarten or on a playground, he would play alone and find it difficult to participate in group activities. I thought that if there had been a ‘friendship bench’ at his kindergarten, that could have been most helpful to him. The idea is this: If it is difficult for a child to connect, he can simply sit on the bench and others can approach him and ask him to join their game. If children argue amongst themselves, they can also resolve their argument on the bench.
The idea began with one bench at his kindergarten and has now spread to schools and even public parks. A number of cities have already ordered these benches in preparation for the coming school year. The feedback I have been receiving is tremendous. The benches simply help children who are socially isolated or otherwise in distress. Every night before bed, Ido would share with us what happened to him that day and said that he always made sure to ‘love thy neighbor as thyself.’ Therefore, this is what is written on the bench.”
As Tisha B’Av is almost here and we become aware of what is missing and what we need to change, I wrote Shani that perhaps a bench like this is needed for adults as well.
Shabbos morning left home at 8:35 AM to walk to Anshei Shalom. Got there at 10:20 AM and sat next to Eli. Listened to Rabbi David Wolkenfeld’s Shiur., below. Left Anshei Shalom and arrived at Chabad of Lakeview at 10:50 AM. They were in the middle of the Torah reading. The Rabbi spoke well. There was a big Kiddush. Alexi became a Geyoris by the CRC and she sponsored a Kiddush. She spoke and had a great story. This week’s Medresh on Verse 5:10 spoke about the significance of converts. After the Kiddush I gave a Shiur to Paul and Jack (Charlotte’s adopted brother). I went to Eli’s house, slept for 1.25 hours and walked 5 miles home.
My Torah thoughts:
I first spoke about the beginning of the Parsha. On Verse 5:2 Rashi says “This section was spoken on the day when the Tabernacle was erected; there were eight sections spoken on that day, as is related in Treatise Gittin 60a, in the chapter beginning with the word הנזקין.”
Bamidbar begins with a census of the Jews in the desert which was taken in the second year after leaving Egypt on the 1st day of Iyar. 24 days later they would be heading to Israel, until fate intervened. Why was it necessary to have thes Parsha of the census out of chronological order? Second question – why was the census done a month after the Miskan was assembled, one month after God put his presence in the Mishkan. Placing Hashem’s Shekinah is directly related to the census as Rashi said in Bamidbar Verse 1:1. At first glance I would think that the census should have taken place on the first of Adar. The simple answer is that there was no time as the Jews were building the Mishkan. However, it should have been written after the twelve Korboans of the twelve princes.
The Torah in Nasso strings together six topics. It starts with the end of the census, counting the tribe of Levi and their jobs. After finishing the counting the Torah discusses a number of subjects related to the Mishkan, directly or indirectly. Verse 5:10 discusses the levels of holiness in the camp of the Jews. Space is made holy and we go up from lower levels of holiness to higher levels. I heard this concept from Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda TZL in Boca Raton. Just like in space on earth we have levels of holiness, so we have it in time. Weekday, Shabbos, holso May idays, Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah. 2) We see that the encampment of the twelve tribes, the living place of the Jewish people, was holy. 3) Next topic is theft, particularly theft from a convert, 4) the need to give Bikkurim, 5) the fifth topic is adultery. Connected to adultery is Nazir. 6) The sixth topic is Birchas Kohanim. 7) Afterwards the Torah speaks about the offerings of the twelve tribes. The verse starting from Verse 5:10 in Nasso and ending at the fifth Aliyah of Parshas Behaaloscha, verse 10:10 was said or done on the first day of Nissan and forward. We have to go to Bamidbar Verse 10:11 to pick up the unfolding events in a chronological order for the Jews in the desert, which would be the expected chronological order .
I believe the answer is as follows. The Torah is teaching us how the Mishkan and Bais Hamikdash and Jewish society survives.
It starts with us understanding that God loves us. Rashi Bamidbar Verse 1:1
2. Sending out Tamah people Verses 5:2-4
We are holy people and our living spaces are also holy. In addition
we have access to enter into higher levels of holiness.
3. Theft and theft from a convert. Verse 5:5-8
Theft corrupts. The Parsha is dealing with all theft, but the Torah here adds that repayment of theft from a convert who has died goes to the Kohen.
The Medresh brings down from Verse 5:10 the integration and specialness of converts and their holiness. We could add the acceptance of others is also a part of our holiness and base for a civil and just society.
4. Giving Bikkurim – Verse 5:9110
We have to share our wealth and success with others.
5. Sotah – Verse 5:11-31
Family relationships have to be stable to bring holiness.
6. Birchas Kohanim 6:22-26
If we understand and are loyal to items 2 – 5 then God will bless us with Birchas Kohanim.
Then as Rabbi Wolkenfled said, we will be beacons of peace in the world.
The counting of the Jewish people was purposely performed on the 1st day of Iyar, close to the commandment to travel to Israel as a lesson for future generations of what is needed for the Jewsih nation to sustain itself.
Rabbi David Wolkenfeld.
May God Grant Peace
Who is the subject of Jewish prayer? When the siddur says “we” “us” “our” as in the phrase “our God” “heal us” and “we thank you” who is the subject? It seems that in almost every instance, the first-person-plural voice that is adopted in Jewish prayer reflects Klal Yisrael – the spiritual collective that unites all Jews. Although we pray as individuals, and should personalize our prayers, our fixed liturgy expresses the hopes and dreams and yearnings of every Jew. There is just one exception.
The final blessing of the amidah is Birkat HaShalom, the blessing of peace. The subject of this blessing is not Klal Yisrael, but the congregation present at that moment. That’s why we request שִׂים שָׁלוֹם טוֹבָה וּבְרָכָה חֵן וָחֶֽסֶד וְרַחֲמִים עָלֵֽינוּ וְעַל כָּל־יִשְׂרָאֵל עַמֶּֽךָ. We ask for the blessing of peace and grace and kindness and mercy be bestowed on “us and on all Israel.” We speak to God in this blessing as a congregation standing together in one room, and then we ask that the blessings that we have received be shared outward and shared onward. The blessing of peace, once received, must be shared with others. Or, the only way the blessing of peace can be manifest in the world is if it is shared.
The blessing, Sim Shalom, is a congregational recapitulation of Birkat Kohanim, the priestly blessing which is found in Parashat Naso and which is recited immediately before Sim Shalom in the public amidah. Birkat Kohanim concludes with a blessing for peace, and then the congregation responds that we pray that this peace will indeed be granted to us and not just to us.
As Birkat Kohanim is found in the Torah there is some ambiguity about precisely who is blessing and who is receiving blessing. At the end of the sixth chapter of Sefer Bamidbar we find:
“And they (that is, the priests) shall place My name upon the Children of Israel and I shall bless them.”
In the Talmud, Rabbi Yishmael and Rabbi Akiva disagree about how to understand that verse. According to Rabbi Akiva (and Rashi agrees with his interpretation) the word “them” refers to the Israelite recipients of the blessing. God is endorsing the birkat kohanim and carrying out the intentions of Birkat Kohanim. According to Rabbi Yishmael – who is also quoted by Rashi – God blesses the kohanim, setting up a chain in which the kohanim bless the Israelites and God blesses the kohanim. Ibn Ezra understands the phrase “bless them” to refer to both the kohanim and the Israelites who are simultaneously blessed by God through the ritual of Birkat Kohanim.
Undeniably there is ambiguity in the phrasing of the verse. But all of the interpretations have in common a nexus between God, the Kohanim, and the Israelites. The relationship between these three is important and potent and the pinnacle of that relationship of blessing is bestowing peace that expands outward in circles. The blessings of peace are never limited to the first recipients; they are always passed onward.
The opening line of Birkat Kohanim is focused on basic material needs. Rashi tells us that יְבָרֶכְךָ֥ יְהֹוָ֖ה וְיִשְׁמְרֶֽךָ׃ May God bless you and protect you refers to our bodies and our posessions being safe from any threat. If so, the blessing of peace in the third line of Birkat Kohanim must mean more than the absence of war.
Shalom implies “sheleimut” – the state of being that Yaakov attained וַיָּבֹא֩ יַעֲקֹ֨ב שָׁלֵ֜ם after reconciling with his brother. It was only after reconciliation with his great rival after many decades of fear and enmity that Yaakov was able to be at peace with himself and his place in the world.
Maimonides, the Rambam, ends his Book of Seasons with a moving praise of peace as a telos of the entire Torah:
“Great is peace, since the entire Torah has been given to create peace in the world.” But this peace too is not simply the absence of war. For Rambam, peace entails the freedom and tranquility and harmony to study Torah and to draw close to God. He concludes his great book, Mishneh Torah, by explaining that our sages and prophets yearned for Mashiach and for redemption, not live lives of ease, but to live at a time in which there would be the freedom to pursue Torah study and the contemplation of God in a world without competition or famine or war.
The Jewish people are described in the Torah as being a mamlechet kohanim. We are a kingdom of priests. This means that just as the kohanim are a conduit of blessing to the Israelites, so too, all of us together are meant to be a conduit of blessing to humanity. And so the trilogy of God, kohanim, and Israelites transferring blessing and bestowing peace on one another is meant to play out on a larger and universal scale.
One disturbing facet of the past week of fighting in Israel and Gaza were news reports of young American Jews, who have become increasingly alienated from Israel over their perception of a growing divide between their idealism and the reality of the circumstances in which the State of Israel conducts its policy. I don’t know if that describes any of you but if it does, I suggest that walking away in disappointment and disillusionment is not a choice any Jew should make. First, because as I wrote last week, our brothers and sisters in Israel are literally our family and not metaphorically our family. You can’t walk away from your family.
But, also, your care and concern and support for Israel as it makes its way, in fits and starts, towards peace is among the most important religious tasks that a Jew can undertake in this generation. The redemptive potential of the Jewish people’s return to Eretz Yisrael is not in tension with the need to come to a peaceful accommodation with Israel’s neighbors. Redemption is the direct outcome of that peaceful accommodation.
This was said and understood by many others. Rav Menachem Froman z’l, a mystic and peace activist from the West Bank town of Tekoa said this years ago. This message was shared anonymously by a Jerusalem rabbi to Roi Ravitzky years ago when he was researching ways to elicit the support of religious Muslims and Jews for peace negotiations. And it was said yesterday by Rabbi Chananel Rosen of Tel Aviv following a week of rocket attacks and internecine violence. I read these words of his in an email on Friday and they took my breath away:
“Either we are doomed to intractable, unending conflict until the times of Moshiach, or – and this is a big ‘or’ – there is a reason that we’re not alone in this land, and our destinies are somehow tied up with those of the Other (Muslims, Israeli Arabs, Palestinians – whichever). For whatever reason, God has thrown us together with them, and we need to deal with that. In the final analysis, I suspect that deep down many of us would be far happier if we woke up to find that these “others” had suddenly been magically teleported to Uganda – and they no doubt feel similarly about us. No such luck though; I think God has other plans for us all.”
My attempt to understand Rabbi Wolkenfeld’s speech.
4:49 AM (1 hour ago)
This is a very fair and accurate recapitulation of my words.
In terms of peace, I think the mindset that would need to be developed, both among Israelis and Palestinians, is for each group to see each other as permanent neighbors sharing a common homeland. From the Israeli perspective, this means that no peace agreement with an Arab government can substitute for reaching an accommodation with the Palestinians who were displaced by the creation of Israel and who still live within the sovereign State of Israel or the territory that Israel controls. From this vantage point, the Abraham Accords were, at best, a distraction, insofar as far off oil sheikdoms cannot substitute for the millions of human beings who reside within the only sovereign nation that currently exists between the river and the sea.
I don’t see much hope for short-term optimism. But, there are some very interesting and inspiring green shoots – religious Israelis and religious Muslims in Israel and the West Bank meeting for dialogue. There is the “two states, one homeland” movement which has significant rabbinic support. There is Mansour Abbas who is an ideological cousin of Hamas – two parallel wings of the Muslim Brotherhood – and who leads the Arab political party that has done the most to integrate itself into Israeli politics this past year and who pledged to rebuild the synagogue destroyed last week in Lod…
From: Mitchell Morgenstern <email@example.com>
Date: Wednesday, May 26, 2021 at 10:31 PM
To: David Wolkenfeld <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Yesterday
I am trying to understand the theme of your speech. Is this what you are saying?
1) Peace only works in concentric circles, from one person to another person or from one group to the next. Meaning Sholem has to emanate from us as individuals and from groups however defined. It can be a Shul, a class, a block, or a business. It includes Israel as a whole.
2) Shalom is also defined as being complete. When we feel complete, we are at peace with ourselves, happy with life, and as a result we can radiate goodness and peace to the world.
3) Israel and the Arabs must live together as this is what God dictates. Therefore Israel must project peace despite all the hardships.
I have always tried to live #1 and believe was successful. As a banker, I always have tried to give people a fair deal, waive fees, and give them the benefit of doubt. I always put myself in their position and respond to them as I would want if the roles were reversed. In fact that this mentality was great marketing for the bank and did more than the millions of dollars spent on marketing. It only brought me success in my career. I had to fight the corporate mentality and kind of do things quietly.
This is true for many, many professions. The goodness you can do in any business is Godly. A mechanic that is honest is a Godsend. I look Jewish pizza stores and places where Chessed is done every day. The Jewish people tend to have large families and need inexpensive, tasty food. This applies to every single business. One must see the higher calling of what they are doing. A plumber is not just fixing a toilet or a water line. He is giving a family normal living conditions.
#2 is so true. When I am a peace with myself, I am more effective and better able to empathise with people.
Sorry to get political on #3.
#3 is an issue for every Israeli and for the government as a whole. As most people, I feel that there is almost no solution for the Israeli – Palestinian conflict. The Abraham Accords seem to be the best chance. Find peace from without by changing the mindset, then potentially peace can be found within. This is somewhat similar to Golde Meir’s efforts for diplomacy in the 1950s using Israeli farming innovations for Africa because Israel did not have money. This fell apart in 1967 after the six day war, when they were promised money and oil from the Arab countries.
On Sun, May 23, 2021 at 2:45 PM David Wolkenfeld <email@example.com> wrote:
It was great to see you too.
From: Mitchell Morgenstern <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sunday, May 23, 2021 at 2:24 PM
To: David Wolkenfeld <email@example.com>
It was nice to be in Shul yesterday. I would like a copy of your Drasha.
הטעם שאין כלי חרש מטמא אלא מתוכו וגם כן אין לו טהרה בּמקוה, משׁום שכלי חרס אין לו שׁום חשיבות בּעצם, כי במה נחשב הוא חרש מחרשי האדמה, ורק עיקר חשיבות אצלו שיש לו תוך ויכולין להכנס בו איזה דבר לפיכך אינה מטמאה מגבּה אלא מתוכו שעיקרו הוא התוך, וכן הוא האדם עפר מן אדמה ואין לו חשׁיבות אלא אם כן ישׁ בּתוכו ממש.
The Kotzker says that we can give a reason for this anomaly by Tumah – a כְּלִי־חֶ֔רֶשׂ only becomes Tamah from its inside and there is purification in a Mikvah because a כְּלִי־חֶ֔רֶשׂ has no חשׁיבית בּעצם – intrinsic value, because it is made out of plain dirt (clay). All of its חשׁיבית is only because it has an inside – תוך and can hold items. Therefore an earthenware vessel does not become Tamah from its outside, only from its inside because the essence of an earthenware utensil is the inside. So it is true by man who is created from the dust of the earth – וַיִּיצֶר֩ יְהוָ֨ה אֱלֹהִ֜ים אֶת־הָֽאָדָ֗ם עָפָר֙ מִן־הָ֣אֲדָמָ֔ה וַיִּפַּ֥ח בְּאַפָּ֖יו נִשְׁמַ֣ת חַיִּ֑ים וַֽיְהִ֥י הָֽאָדָ֖ם לְנֶ֥פֶשׁ חַיָּֽה׃ (Bereshisis 2:7), man’s only value is if he has a תוך.
What does the Kotzker mean? I believe that the Kotzker Is speaking about the human condition. Man’s value only comes about when he puts self worth, positive values, and essence into his being, into his psyche. Man has to feel in his core that I am something. Man does have life force from Hashem, however, that is not enough.
This is expressed in a story about Reb Leible Eiger. See below for the complete Hebrew text. Reb Leible Eiger travels to Kotzk against the wishes of his grandfather, Reb Akiva Eiger, and father, Reb Shlomo Eiger. Reb Shlomo Eiger sends a messenger to Kotzk to see what is going on in Kotzk. The messenger sees Reb Leibele Eiger sitting at a meal with the students and someone runs in and says Reb Hersh Ber has arrived. They all ran to greet Reb Hersh Ber. The messinger follows expecting to see a Talmud Chocom or a distinguished person. He sees a man dressed as a farmer without the appearance of a distinguished person. When the messenger asks, why did everyone run to greet Reb Hersh Ber, he is told that Reb Hersh Ber is an עניו – a humble person
has nothing. On this Reb Chenich Henoch from Alekander responds, I say that even though he has nothing, and yet he is an עניו – this is his great מדריגה. Explanation – someone who is down because he has nothing is depressed. He is not an עניו. I believe what Reb Henoch Chenoch was saying is that Reb Hersh Ber despite having nothing significant in this world, still embraced life, he was happy, and my guess is that his joy of life was infectious. His being an עניו was that he embraced God, accepted his lot in life, and spread joy to everyone. Kotzk is synonymous with learning and great Torah scholarship. Yet Reb Hersh Ber was embraced even though he was unlearned. Reb Hersh Ber had a strong תוך .
I showed this to Yonatan Glenner and he answered the way most people would say that he needs to put into himself holiness, Torah, and dedication to Hashem. You can also add that man has the spirit of God within him as it says וַיִּפַּ֥ח בְּאַפָּ֖יו נִשְׁמַ֣ת חַיִּ֑ים. I do not think this is what the Kotzker means. Man is created from lowly earth, a product that has zero value. Man must put value into his life. Man must create a חשיבות into the vessel that was created by God from earth.
My wife had an uncle who had a tough life. He needed medication. He was divorced. In the family business, he was given no responsibility and was ignored. He lived a life of solitude. How did he create a תוך? His son in law spoke at the first year Yahrzeit Kiddush that,”my father-in-law was an honored person, why? because his daughter honored him.” This said it all, by his daughter getting involved in her father’s life towards the end and showing him honor made her father a man of respect.
In 1998 I was unhappy at work and interviewed at another bank. I was offered a job. I decided not to take the job because I was told that I would not have control over my position. The person offering me the job had wealth. About 15 years later lost everything. I also had a boss who also lost close to $20 million. How do you live with yourself? My boss does not have a family and has no one. He has to somehow create a תוך. The person offering me the job in 1998 has a son in law who is a big Talmud Chachum and has a beautiful family. This person through his family has a תוך , something he can be proud of, a sense of accomplishment and wake up every morning with a zest for life. I do not know if he focuses on his bad decision making or if he realizes that he had to lose the money to have a great family.
אין שׁלם כלב שבור, אין ישר כסולם עקום, ואין עקום כבּדותת יושר (גלייך ווערטל)
There is nothing whole as a broken heart, there is nothing straight than a crooked ladder, and there is nothing more crooked (deep) than a simple thought.
I attended Selichos tonight, Eruv Rosh Hashanah. In Selicha # כט which starts אֵל־אֱמוּנָה עֶזְרָה הָבָה it says הַיְשַׁר לְפָנֶיךָ לֵב־עָקֹב. – “Straighten before you a crooked heart”. I stopped as if hit by a thunderbolt. The following Kotzker Vort popped into my mind – (אין שׁלם כלב שבור, אין ישר כסולם עקום, ואין עקום כבּדותת יושר (גלייך ווערטל -“there is nothing whole as a broken heart, there is nothing straight than a crooked ladder, and there is nothing more crooked than a simple thought.” I gave this Kotzker Vort much thought.
I pictured in my mind one Eruv Rosh Hashanah morning while it was still dark, Selichos were being said in Kotzk. The Kotzker Rebbe read the above Slicha, stopped, and became immersed in thought. He thought to himself, Klal Yisroel are a broken people from all their צרות, both on personal levels and on communal levels. The Kotzker Rebbe prayed – Hashem Yisborach, the Jewish people have broken hearts, there is nothing more whole than a broken heart, אין שׁלם כלב שבור , there is no need to straighten out their hearts, they are pure and holy. Give Klal Yisroel everything they need, both spiritually and a fulfillment of their physical needs. Give them Parnossah, let them marry off their children, free them from the heavy hand of daily living, the Poritz, the government, and having their kids berong forcibly pressed into the army by the Russian government (cantonists).
The Kotzker perhaps at this moment or later added two more sayings that talk about ישר and עקום.
אין ישר כסולם עקום – There is nothing straight like a twisted ladder. I speculate that it means – the ladder refers to the spiritual ladder of Yaakov on which people ascend during their lifetime to the heavens, to achieve Ruchniyos. The lifetime striving to do the right thing to reach Hashem does not follow a straight and direct path. It follows a jagged path, rising, falling like a crooked ladder that has twists and turns, but always moving skyward. The crooked path is really the straight path because it cannot be done any other way. Similar to the following chart of the stock market prices, while there are dips and valleys, the stock market trends upward.
Thank you for all the Torah you have taught me this year and every year. Have a Kesiva V’Chasimah Tovah.
I worked on the below Kotzker Vort. While you can change the way I expressed my thoughts, the examples I gave, I believe they are the basic ideas of the Kotzker..At the bottom of the email I put in a magnificent Vort from the Kotzker.on the Pri Megadim and the Pri Megadim’s efforts to understand the Rashba.
Please. please make any improvements – ideas, spelling and grammar. Please add.-+9999999999
Weinreb, Tzvi H.<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sep 18, 2020, 4:36 PM
It definitely works and I like it. It called to my mind a book by the British philosopher Isaiah Berlin, “The Crooked Timber of Humanity”. It is based upon a passage in the writing of Immanuel Kant: which translates as “Out of timber so crooked as that from which man is made nothing entirely straight can be built.” The German original begins: “Aus so krummem Holze, als woraus der Mensch gemacht ist, kann nichts Gerades gezimmert werden.” Shabbat Shalom, Chag Sameach, Shana tovah. THWeinreb
Thank you. Does my leap to something that has twists and turns and contains a hidden/deep Peshet work?
Sent from my iPhone
On Sep 18, 2020, at 9:28 AM, Weinreb, Tzvi H. <email@example.com> wrote:
Thank you for your thoughts and good wishes. As you know the Yiddish for עקום is “kroom”. A better English translation than “twisted” is therefore “crooked” which has the dual connotations: “bent, not straight” and “crook = criminal”! Be well and Kesiva v’chasima tovah THWeinre
Selichos – Erev Rosh Hashanah – #29:
כט. על פי א”ב. חתום אפרים בר יצחק
אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ Our God and God of our fathers!
Trusted God, extend help and do goodness to Your entire nation [when] they come together to be judged. [He] Who knows their innermost thoughts [and] rules the world with His might brings to judgment for everything hidden.
God, Who is exalted through judgment1I.e. by bringing the evil to justice, all perceive Him ruling the world. [and] sanctified through His righteousness, [powerful] as the mighty mountains when He judges Israel.
Remove retribution from those You carry,2“Those You carry,” i.e. the nation of Israel. those who exalt You with “Grace and truth.”3I.e. those who recognize God’s grace and truth. Righteousness and justice are the foundations of Your Throne.
Straighten before You, a crooked heart,Your judgment bores through the mountain4I.e. nothing can stand in the way of God’s judgment.— the justice of the God of Jacob. The righteousness of Your virtues are delightful, the world’s inhabitants learned justice as they stand to be judged by You.
Four questions were asked of Rav Masnah from people of the city of Pupnai about four individuals; Moshe, Haman, Esther, and Mrdechai.
Gemora Chullin 139B –
Question #1 :משה מן התורה מנין (בראשית ו, ג) בשגם הוא בשר
Rashi: ועוד זה שאלו ממנו מנין למשה רמז קודם שבא שסופו לבא:
בשגם הוא – בשגם בגימטריא כמו משה וכתיב שם והיו ימיו מאה ועשרים שנה וכך היו ימי חיי משה כלומר עתיד לבא בשגם משה מן הנולדים וכן ימיו:
Question 2 המן מן התורה מנין (בראשית ג, יא) המן העץ
Rashi :מנין – למעשה המן
המן העץ – יתלה על העץ:
Questions 3 and 4:
אסתר מן התורה מנין (1) (דברים לא, יח) ואנכי הסתר אסתיר מרדכי מן התורה מנין דכתיב (שמות ל, כג) מר דרור ומתרגמינן מירא דכיא:
Rashi: “למעשה” אסתר – הסתר אסתיר בימי אסתר יהיה הסתר פנים ומצאוהו צרות רבות ורעות:
מנין – לגדולת מרדכי
מר דרור – וקרי ליה ראש לבשמים לצדיקים ואנשי כנסת הגדולה
We have to try to understand their questions. Moshe was obviously in the Torah. Haman, Esther and Mordechi played prominent roles in the story of Purim. It seems that Moshe was one question and the other three were a different question.
What exactly was the question of the Bnei Papunai to Rav Manna for Haman, Esther, and Mordechai? Was it simply that everyone is mentioned in the Torah, so the Bnei Papunai were asking where are their names in the Torah. My Pasuk is in Mispatim 22:24 – אִם־כֶּ֣סֶף ׀ תַּלְוֶ֣ה אֶת־עַמִּ֗י = The word אִם is an acronym for my Hebrew name – Avrohom Meir. I was a lender at Peterson Bank/Manufacturers Bank/MB Financial/5/3rd Bank for 33 years, helping many Jewish people.
Answer 1 – Rashi
Rashi says that their questions were not simply where are they mentioned in the Torah, but rather where are the events that happened in them hinted to in the Torah. Similar to bible codes. They were asking where in the Torah is there a hint to Haman’s hanging, Esther being the person who saves the Jewish people, and Mordechai’s leadership. Proof of this is that when the Gemora says אסתר מן התורה מנין Rashi add in his דברי המתחל the word מעשה. The full דברי המתחל is מעשה אסתר which means the story of Esther. The story of Esther is how she became queen and saved the Jewish people from destruction. Per Rashi the question for Mordechai was where do we see גדולת מרדכי . The Next rashi says that he was the leader of the righteous people and the אנשי כנסת הגדולה. This Is understood from the Pasuk that he was ראש לבשמים – the בשמים referring to the Tzaddikim and Men of the Great Assembly.
Answer #2- Maharsha:
Comes along the Maharsha and says that the questions of the Bnei Papunai were on the names. All four of these individuals had other names given to them at birth. We know that names given by parents are considered semi prophecies which defines their character. . How do we know that the names alternative names given to them later in life are the names that define them. Rav Masna gives answers that all four names are mentioned in the Torah and these names are primary.
Answer #3 – Ben Yehoyada – the Ben Ish Chai:
The Ben Yehodaya says that the questions on Esther and Mordechai Min Hatorah are intertwined. There were complaints against Mordechai. Regarding Esther, why didn’t Mordechai lock Esther away so that she would not end up being forcibly married to Achasverosh. Mordechai could have locked her away so she could not be found on one extreme. Mordechai did not do this. On the other extreme did simply give her over to the king’s messengers. Rather, he left her in the house and if they found her, then she would have to go. Hashgacha Pratis takes over. Esther becomes the queen and saves the Jewish people. This was hinted in the Torah, that she would save the Jewish people. This is the מעשה אסתר that is referred to in Rashi. Her becoming queen and everything else that happened was preordained in the Torah. Mordechai being a prophet sensed all this even subconsciously because this was preordained in the Torah. it was not that Mordechai was reacting to events, Hashgacha Pratis took over, and Esther ended up being the queen and saving the Jewish people. The complaints of the other Gedolim were that Mordechai could have hidden Esther away and also did not have to accept leadership in the Persian empire. They claimed that Hashem would have saved the Jews in another fashion. The answer is that this is not true. God preordained that the events of Esther life and Mordechai’s actions were all holy, preordained by the Torah. He did the right thing and should not be criticized.
Perhaps the Ben Yehoyada is responding to the pasuk in Esther 10:1:
REashi says because it says רָצ֖וּי לְרֹ֣ב אֶחָ֑יו and not כל אחיו , not everyone agreed with the leadership of Mordechai.
My addition to the Ben Yehoyada.
A position for a Gadol B’Torah is a story about Menachem Begin when he was first elected Prime Minister in 1977. On his first trip to America, Begin went to visit Reb Moshe Feinstein, Reb Yosef Ber Soloveichik, and the Lubavitcher Rebbe. He went to visit them to get a Bracha and ask for advice. The Israeli press had never seen a prime minister visit a Gadol B’Torah and they asked Begin, why did you visit this person (I think this was asked when he walked out of Reb Moshe Feinstein’s house.) Begin knew that this could possibly cause an uproar, so all he said was, I am an old European Jew and I went to see another old European Jew. Yehuda Avner writes in his book, The Prime MInisters, that when Begin and the Lubavitcher Rebbe met, they agreed that Yehuda Avner would report back to the Rebbe how the meeting with President Carter went and what was said. That night Yehuda Avner spent four hours with the Rebbe, until well past midnight. The Rebbe was consulted by Begin about policy and other state matters. The Rebbe was there for support of the leader of Israel, not publicly, but privately. Begin knew that the Lubavitcher Rebbe had his back. When Begin went to visit Rabbi Yosef Ber Solovecihik, Rabbi Riskin was in the room and he described the conversation between Rabbi Soleveichik and Menachem Begin. When it came time for them to have a serious discussion, Rabbi Riskin was told it is time for him to leave. History has not recorded what was discussed. I am sure it was a Bracha and policy questions along with Halacha.
Answer #4 – Chasam Sofer:
The Chasam Sofer has a beautiful explanation. The two questions of Esther and Mordechai are to ask and explain why when Esther was told by Mordechai that the Jews were going to be destroyed, Verse 4:9, she did not know what to do. Mordechai said go to the king even though you were not called, risking your life. Esther was close to being a prophet, however, she did not have the same dream as Mordechai, there was a plot between her husband and Hamen to destroy the Jews. Mordechai had a dream that night detailing the plot. Mordechai had time to think it over and concluded that Esther was the wife of the king because she is to be the saviour of the Jewish people. Esther did not have this dream, so she was not able to process and arrive at a course of action. The Chasam Sofer says that this bothered Esther. The reason why Moredechai had the dream and esther did not is hinted to us in the Gemora, Esther is described as הסתר אסתיר. The dreams of צודק as the Chasem Sofer describes Mordechai’s dream, were hidden from her. Esther thought that it was proper for her to have a dream. In order to have a dream of צודק which is close to prophecy, one has to be in a state of joy and gladness of the heart. She thought that she did have joy because she was in the king’s palace בּשׂמחה וטוב לבב; however, although she was happy, since she was trapped against her will, she did not have true freedom. Mordechai on the other hand could go wherever he wants. He had full simcha and he was the one to have the dream. In fact the Ramban says that the spice מר דרור that was used could only be wild, not cultivated in a house.
Shimmy Bertram had a very nice insight. When Avrohom was taking Yitzchok to the Akedia, he was 37 years old. Yet he followed his father. Avrohom was told by God to perform the Akeda. Yitzchok did not hear the word of Hashem, he went because of his faith in his father. The nation of Israel has tremendous benefits from the merit of Yitzchok. Perhaps you can compare Esther to Yitzchak. She did not hear the word of Hashem, but did what Mordechai told her, and saved the Jewish people. Perhaps this is why the holiday of Purim will never disappear even after Mosiach comes because the Jews were saved based on faith in our leaders, Emunas Chachamim.
Perhaps there is another lesson. In Devarim 31:19 it calls the warning to the Jewish people a song. How can you call this warning a song. The answers that through Emunas Chacomin, doing Tshuva, and other acts of kindness, the Rebuke and warnings of destruction can turn into a song, as it did in the days of Esther and Mordechai.
Therefore, write down this song and teach it to the people of Israel; put it in their mouths, in order that this song may be My witness against the people of Israel.
The answer may be that you are correct that it is not really a song. However, if you have an Esther, through her abilities and closeness to ZHashem, she can change the evo; decrease to a song of redemption. Perhaps maybe that is why it is labeled a song. Everything that Hashem does is for the good and the evil contains good in it when the nation of Israel changes their destiny through doing the right thing, having the proper leaders.
משה מן התורה מנין כו’ המן מן התורה כו’ אסתר כו’ מרדכי כו’. יראה בזה לפי שבאלו הד’ מצינו שיש להם עוד שמות אחרים במשה טוביה אביגדור כו’ בהמן אמרו שהוא ממוכן אסתר היא הדסה מרדכי בלשן פתחיה ולפי הנראה היה לבעל דין לחלוק ולומר שאלו שמות המיוחדים להם אינם עיקר מן התורה בהם כי שם משה בת פרעה נתנה לו והוא לשון מצרי כדעת המפרשים ושם המן ומרדכי ואסתר נראה כי שמות פרסיים הם כי המגילה נכתבה ע”י הפרסיים שע”כ לא הוזכר שם הקב”ה במגילה כדעת הראב”ע וע”כ אמר במשה מנין שהוא שם המיוחד לו לעיקר מן התורה שנאמר בשגם הוא בשר גו’ שקודם שנקרא כך ע”י בת פרעה קראו התורה אותו בשם זה ע”ש שהוא הוציא ומשה את ישראל מן הים עד”ה ימשני ממים רבים וע”כ נקרא משה ולא נמשה או משוי והוא מבואר כשדור המבול לא היו מאמינים בהשגחה פרטית שאמרו מה שדי כי נעבדנו כדאמרי’ פ’ חלק ונפרע מהם במדה כי לפי הטבע ראוי שיהיה העולם מים במים אבל היתה השגחה אלהית שנא’ יקוו המים ותראה היבשה לצורך בן אדם וע”כ הביא עליהם מי המבול כפי הטבע ולפי שע”י משה רבינו נתפרסם זאת השגחה שבני ישראל הלכו ביבשה תוך הים והמצריים נטבעו שם ע”כ הזכיר שם משה כאן ועד”ז אמר המן מן התורה מנין שזהו שם המיוחד לו ואמר המן העץ במעשה הנחש והוא לפי שהיה הוא גזע צפעוני מעשו ועמלק אשר כחם נחש הקדמוני ובמדרש המן והנחש פתחו באף כו’ ושניהם נתנו עיניהם במה שאינו ראוי להם כו’ כדאיתא פ”ק דסוטה ואמר אסתר מן התורה מנין שהוא עיקר שמה ואמר ואנכי הסתר אסתיר ע”ש שבימיה נתקיים מקרא זה שאמר הקב”ה אסתיר לפי שרחקו והסתירו ישראל עצמם מדבור אנכי שהוא עיקר אמונה כדאמרי’ פ”ק דמגילה למה נתחייבו שונאיהם של ישראל כליה לפי שהשתחוו לצלם ונהנו מסעודת אחשורוש וע”ז אמר מרדכי מן התורה מנין שע”י זכו להנצל להיעשות בני חורין מלשון מר דרור כי הוא וסיעתו אנשי כנסת הגדולה לא רצו להשתחות לצלם ולא ליהנות מאותה סעודה ועל שם שהוא ראש לגדולה ולש”ט נמשל לראש בשמים משמן המשחה וק”ל:
Yosef Hayim (1 September 1835 – 30 August 1909) (Iraqi Hebrew: Yoseph Ḥayyim; Hebrew: יוסף חיים מבגדאד) was a leading Baghdadihakham (Sephardirabbi), authority on halakha (Jewish law), and Master Kabbalist. He is best known as author of the work on halakhaBen Ish Ḥai (בן איש חי) (“Son of Man (who) Lives”), a collection of the laws of everyday life interspersed with mystical insights and customs, addressed to the masses and arranged by the weekly Torah portion.
מֹשֶׁה מִן הַתּוֹרָה מִנַּיִן. נראה לי בס”ד הכונה בתורה כתוב שבשם זה קראתו בתיה אחר שגמלתו אמו והביאתו אצלה וקראתו מֹשֶׁה על שם המקרה שקרה לו ומנין לנו ראיה מן התורה שזה השם גזור לו מן השמים דלכן נעשה שם זה עיקר יותר משאר שמות שיש לו? והשיב רמוז מקדם קדמתה בכתוב (בראשית ו, ג) ‘בְּשַׁגַּם’ זה משה.
אי נמי נראה לי בס”ד הכי קאמר מֹשֶׁה מִן ה‘ תּוֹרָה רצונו לומר מן חמשה חומשי תורה מִנַּיִן, כי שמו הטוב אינו כתוב אלא בארבעה ספרים ואינו נזכר בספר בראשית, והשיב ‘בְּשַׁגַּם’ זה משה והוא פסוק בספר בראשית.
אֶסְתֵּר מִן הַתּוֹרָה מִנַּיִן. נראה לי בס”ד גם בזה כיון להציל את מרדכי הצדיק ע”ה מן התלונה שיש להתלונן עליו על אשר לא הסתיר את אסתר להצניעה בחדרי חדרים שלא ידע בה אחשורוש ויקחנה לו ולכן שאל מקום שמה בתורה כדי שמשם יוודע מה יהיה בסופה ופירש ששמה נרמז בפסוק הַסְתֵּר אַסְתִּיר וכו’ (דברים לא, יח) משמע שתמצא אסתר בזמן שיתקיים דבר זה של הסתרת פנים ועל כן מכאן מוכח שתהיה הצלה לישראל בזמן הסתר פנים על ידי אסתר דמאי קא משמע לן שתהיה אסתר מצויה באותו זמן אם לא לענין שתהיה ריוח והצלה ונס לישראל על ידה על כן לא הצניעה לגמרי אלא עשה פתח שתהיה לקוחה לבית המלכות כדי שתהיה התשועה על ידה כאשר היה כן באמת.
מָרְדֳּכַי מִן הַתּוֹרָה מִנַּיִן. גם על זה שאל כדי להציל את מרדכי הצדיק מן התרעומת שיש עליו מן העולם באומרם והלא זקנו שאול ברח מן השררה וכן ראוי לכל צדיק שיהיה בורח מן השררה וכן התנא אמר וְאַל תִּתְוַדַּע לָרָשׁוּת (משנה אבות א, י) ומה ראה מרדכי להכניס עצמו לשררה שהיה אחד משרי המלך קודם שנלקחה אסתר וגם לסוף היה משנה למלך והיה לו לברוח מזה ולכן שאל על מקומו בתורה כדי שמשם יוודע מה יהיה סופו, והשיב קַח לְךָ בְּשָׂמִים רֹאשׁ, מָר דְּרוֹר (שמות ל, כג)
Next take choice spices: (five hundred weight of) solidified myrrh,
ותרגומו מירא דכיא דמשמע מרדכי יהיה ראש ולמה נגזר עליו להיות ראש? אלא ודאי בשביל טובת ישראל שיהיו צריכין אליו לכן קרב עצמו לשררה ולא ברח ממנה דכונתו לשם שמים.
Menachem Begin’s story with Rabbi’s Moshe Feinstein, Yosef Ber Solovecihink and the Lubavitcher Rebbe. The Ben Yehoyada is perhaps response to וְרָצ֖וּי לְרֹ֣ב אֶחָ֑יו
והא דשאלו על המן קודם מרדכי ואסתר, כי באותו הדור היה המן מצד הקליפה והחשך ומרדכי ואסתר היו מצד הקדושה והאור ואיתא בגמרא (שבת עז:) מאי טעמא עיזי מסגן ברישא והדר אימרי? והשיב כברייתו של עולם שהיה החשך קודם ואחר כך נראה האור, וכן כאן שאל על המן תחלה שהיה מצד החשך ואחר כך על מרדכי ואסתר שהיו מצד האור.
אי נמי פפונאי ידעי תשובות אלו ולא שאלו אלא לבדוק לרב מתנה ולכן אמר אמרי ליה פפונאי לרב מתנה ולא אמר שאלו ליה פפונאי ולכן כיון דתשובה לשאלה דשם משה רבינו ע”ה היתה מפרשת בראשית והם ידעי דשם המן גם כן נרמז בפרשת בראשית לכן אמרו לו על שם המן תחלה דקדים בקרא לקראי דאסתר ומרדכי.
אסתר מן התורה מנין וכו’ מרדכי מן התורה מנין. יראה היתה מתייאשת לבקש על עמה ומולדתה משום שלא נודע לה דבר אפי’ בחלום. ואמר רבא פ”ק דחגיגה ואנכי הסתר אסתיר את פני ביום ההוא אבל בחלום אדבר בו ופירש”י דדייק מדכתיב ביום ההוא דייקא ביום אסתיר פני אבל בלילה אגלה בחלום. והנה לא נודע לה דבר ושום רמז ע”כ התיאשה מלבוא לפני המלך. והיינו אסתר מן התורה דכתיב ואנכי הסתר וגו’ אכן איתא במדרש ומרדכי ידע כבר שנתגלה לו ע”י חלום וכן הוא בתרגום שני. ובמנות הלוי. אלא שלחלום צודק שהוא כענין נבואה צריך להיות שורה בתוך שמחה כמשחז”ל אין השכינה שורה אלא מתוך שמחה ומסיים שם וכן לחלום טוב רוצה לומר חלום צודק נבואיי. וחשבה אסתר שראוי לגלות לה בחלום שהיא שוכבת בארמון המלך בשמחה וטוב לבב. אבל באמת לא כן הוא כי עכ”פ היתה חבישה שלא ברצונה משא”כ מרדכי מתהלך ברצונו וחפצו והוא שמחה יותר והוא ראוי לחלום נבואיי יותר דבר זה גילה לנו רמב”ן בפי’ התורה פ’ כי מור דרור שיקחו מור מחיה שהיא דרור והולכת ברצונה בין הערוגות ולא מאותן החבישים בבתים להאכילן ולפטמן כי מור שלהם אינו חשוב כאותם המתהלכות חפשי ודרור והיינו מרדכי מן התורה מנין מור דרור:
ומתרגמינן מארי דכי’ אמרתי עפ”י ירושלמי דשקלים וש”ס מנחות מרדכי בילשן שהי’ בולל לשונות ודורשן כגון גגות צריפין גג לה”ק וצריף לשון ארמי וכן עין סנכר עין לה”ק וסנכר לשון ארמי ע”ש וה”נ כשמו כן הוא כי בלה”ק נקרא מור דרור ובלשון ארמי מארי דיכיא. ונקרא פלגא לה”ק ופלגא ארמי מר לה”ק דכי ארמי:
Torah Temimah on Chumash:
הסתר אסתיר. שאלו פפונאי לרב מתנה, רמז לאסתר מן התורה מניין, אמר להו, ואנכי הסתר אסתיר כ
(חולין קל”ט ב’)
כמה פירושים ובאורים ורמזים נאמרו בבאור אגדה זו. ולי נראה פשוט עפ”י הדרשה הבאה והסתרתי פני מהם ביום ההוא, אמר הקב”ה, אעפ”י שהסתרתי פני מהם – בחלום אדבר בו, ופירש”י ביום ההוא קדייק, ביום ולא בלילה, שמראים לו חלום כדי שיתפלל על הדבר, עכ”ל. ור”ל דכשעתידה לבא איזו גזירה וצרה חלילה מראה הקב”ה את הדבר למי שראוי בחלום הלילה כדי שיתפלל ויתבטל הגזירה. והנה איתא במדרשים על הפסיק באסתר ומרדכי ידע את כל אשר נעשה, מאין ידע – בעל החלום הגיד לו [והובא בפירש”י שם], וזהו ששאלו, אסתר מן התורה מניין, כלומר ענין אסתר ומקריה, שיודיע הקב”ה דבר גזירה בחלום כדי שיתפללו, איפה רמוז בתורה, והשיב רב מתנה, ואנכי הסתר אסתיר, וצ”ל וגומר, שסמך על יתר לשון הפסוק ביום ההוא, ועפ”י הדרשה על אותו הלשון בחלום אדבר בו, וכמש”כ, ויען כי עיקר המגילה נקראת ע”ש אסתר, לכן תלו השאלה על שמה, ואף רב מתנה כיון להשיבם בערך לשון נופל על לשון הסתר אסתיר, ודו”ק. .
מר דרור. שאלו פפונאי לרב מתנה, רמז למרדכי מן התורה מניין, אמר להו, מר דרור וכתרגמינן מירא דכיא
מחפירש”י מניין לגאולת מרדכי, דמתרגמינן מירא דכיא, וקרי ליה ראש לבשמים לצדיקים לאנשי כנה”ג, עכ”ל, והדברים צריכים באור, ונראה באור הענין ע”פ האגדה דמגילה י’ ב’ דדריש שם על הפסוק דישעיה נ”ה תחת הנעצוץ יעלה ברוש, תחת הנעצוץ זה המן וכו’, יעלה ברוש זה מרדכי שנקרא ראש לכל הבשמים שנאמר בשמים ראש ומתרגמינן מירא דכיא, ע”כ, ור”ל שהצדיקים מכונים בשם בשמים ע”ש הכתוב בשה”ש נרדי נתן ריחו, ומרדכי הוא ראש לצדיקי הדור ההוא, ואולי דריש מרי מלשון מר, שהיה ראש גם לסנהדרין כמבואר במגילה.
ולולא פירש”י היה נראה לפרש דכונת הגמרא מוסבת לענין אחר, והוא לפי המבואר בגמרא מגילה שם דעיקר שמו של מרדכי היה פתחיה, א”כ קשה למה שינה את שמו העברי בשם שאין לו מקור בעברית, והוא יותר נוטה לשמות האומות, כמו מרודך, ומפרש דגם שם מרדכי יש לו רמז בתורה, דהוא מלשון מר דרור בעברית. ועיקר הדבר ששינה שמו יש לזה טעמים וענינים שונים שאין כאן המקום לבאר, וע”ע לפנינו בפ’ נצבים בפסוק ואנכי הסתר אסתיר. .
Torah Temimah on Esther:
ושמו מרדכי. שאלו פפונאי לרב מתנה, רמז למרדכי מן התורה מניין, אמר להו, דכתיב (שמות ל’) מר דרור ומתרגמינן מירא דכיא
פירש”י מניין לגאולת מרדכי דמתרגמינן מירא דכיא, וקרי ליה ראש לבשמים לצדיקים לאנשי כנה”ג, עכ”ל, והדברים צריכים באור, ונראה ע”פ האגדה דמגילה י’ ב’ דדריש שם על הפסוק דישעיה נ”ה תחת הנעצוץ יעלה ברוש, תחת הנעצוץ זה המן, יעלה ברוש זה מרדכי שנקרא ראש לכל הבשמים שנאמר בשמים ראש ומתרגמינן מירא דכיא, ע”כ. ור”ל שהצדיקים מכונים בשם בשמים ע”ש הכתוב בשה”ש נרדי נתן ריחו, ומרדכי הוא ראש לצדיקי הדור ההוא, ו
היה נראה לפרש דכונת הגמרא מוסבת לענין אחר, והוא לפי המבואר בגמרא דמגילה שהבאנו דעיקר שמו של מרדכי היה פתחיה, א”כ קשה למה שינה את שמו העברי בשם שאין לו מקור בעברית, ועוד לשם שהוא יותר נוטה לשמות האומות, כמו מרודך, ומפרש דגם שם מרדכי יש לו רמז בתורה, דהוא מלשון מר דרור בעברית וע”פ התרגום כמבואר, ועיקר טעם הדבר שנשתנה שמו הוא מפני שהוא ראש לצדיקים שבדורו, וכמש”כ בדרשה הקודמת. ועיין עוד מש”כ בתו”ת פ’ נצבים בפסוק ואנכי הסתר אסתיר. .
Then My anger will flare up against them, and I will abandon them and hide My countenance from them. They shall be ready prey; and many evils and troubles shall befall them. And they shall say on that day, “Surely it is because our God is not in our midst that these evils have befallen us.”
Therefore, write down this song and teach it to the people of Israel; put it in their mouths, in order that this song* may be My witness against the people of Israel.
Sefari translates שִּׁירָ֣ה as poem and Chabad as song. שִּׁירָ֣ה is normally tranlstated as a song.
משה מן התורה מנין (בראשית ו, ג) בשגם הוא בשר
Rashi: ועוד זה שאלו ממנו מנין למשה רמז קודם שבא שסופו לבא:
בשגם הוא – בשגם בגימטריא כמו משה וכתיב שם והיו ימיו מאה ועשרים שנה וכך היו ימי חיי משה כלומר עתיד לבא בשגם משה מן הנולדים וכן ימיו:
From where in the Torah is the existence of Moses [Moshe] alluded to before his birth? He replied that the verse states: “For that he also [beshaggam] is flesh; therefore shall his days be one hundred and twenty years” (Genesis 6:3). The numerical value of beshaggam is the same as that of the Hebrew name Moshe, and it is known that Moses lived a total of 120 years (see Deuteronomy 34:7).
המן מן התורה מנין (בראשית ג, יא) המן העץ
Rashi :מנין – למעשה המן
המן העץ – יתלה על העץ:
They also asked Rav Mattana: From where in the Torah can one find an allusion to the hanging of Haman? He replied: The verse states after Adam ate from the tree of knowledge: “Have you eaten of [hamin] the tree, about which I commanded you that you should not eat?” (Genesis 3:11). Hamin is spelled in the same manner as Haman: Heh, mem, nun.
Questions 3 and 4:
אסתר מן התורה מנין(1) (דברים לא, יח) ואנכי הסתר אסתיר מרדכי מן התורה מנין דכתיב (שמות ל, כג) מר דרור ומתרגמינן מירא דכיא:
למעשה אסתר – הסתר אסתיר בימי אסתר יהיה הסתר פנים ומצאוהו צרות רבות ורעות:
מנין – לגדולת מרדכי:
מר דרור – וקרי ליה ראש לבשמים לצדיקים ואנשי כנסת הגדולה:
They also asked Rav Mattana: From where in the Torah can one find an allusion to the events involving Esther? He replied to them that the verse states: “Then My anger shall be kindled against them on that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall come upon them; so that they will say in that day: Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us? And I will hide [haster astir] My face on that day for all the evil which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned to other gods” (Deuteronomy 31:17–18). They also asked him: From where in the Torah can one find an allusion to the greatness bestowed upon Mordecai? He replied: As it is written with regard to the anointing oil in the Tabernacle: “And you shall also take the chief spices, of flowing myrrh [mor deror]” (Exodus 30:23); and we translatemor deror into Aramaic as: Mira dakhya, which resembles the name Mordecai.
What is Rashi telling us that they were actual angels? There is a disagreement in the Medresh and the plain meaning is messengers. Why is Rashi taking sides in the Machlokes especially when it really does not add anything.
After giving this much thought I believe the answer is as follows. Rashi is telling us what Yaakov did to repair his relationship with Eisav. He did three things:
He sent מַלְאָכִים to Eisav. Who were these מַלְאָכִים ? Either they were actual angels or if they were men they were prominent people. Yaakov is showing Eisav that I hold you in high esteem and are sending you the best, the leaders of his community. . Rashi is borrowing this term from the Midrash, but he is not deciding who is correct in the Medresh. This would be like Shimon HaTzaddick meeting Alexander the Great. The greatest person in Israel.
As he was approaching Eisav he humbled himself by bowing seven times.See below my comments on Chapter 33, verse 4, Rashi and Sforno..
These three efforts and especially the last one turned Eisav’s heart from hatred to love.
And he put the maids and their children first, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph last.
Question: Verse 32:8 says he divided his camp. Why now are his family all together? I think the answer is that once he fought the angel and was victorious, Yaakov was no longer afraid and put his family back together.
Dots are placed above the letters of this word, and a difference of opinion is expressed in the Baraitha of Sifré (בהעלותך) as to what these dots are intended to suggest: some explain the dotting as meaning that he did not kiss him with his whole heart, whereas R Simeon the son of Johai said: Is it not well-known that Esau hated Jacob? But at that moment his pity was really aroused and he kissed him with his whole heart. (Sifrei Bamidbar 69.2)
וירץ עשו – נהפך לבו כמו רגע בהכנעותיו של יעקב כאמרם ז”ל שאחיהו השילוני קלל את ישראל בקנה הנכנע לכל הרוחות הן לו עשו כן בריוני בית שני לא היה נחרב בית מקדשנו כמו שהעיד רבי יוחנן בן זכאי באמרו (גטין פרק הנזקין) בריוני דבן לא שבקונן:
וירץ עשו, his attitude changed suddenly when he realised to what extent Yaakov had humbled himself before him. It is of great concern to us seeing that we live among the descendants of Esau, people who are arrogant, consider themselves invincible. Yaakov’s conduct vis a vis Esau teaches that the only way to escape the sword of Esau is through self degradation and gifts. This corresponds to what our sages taught us (Taanit 20) that the curses of the prophet Achiyah Hashiloni were more beneficial to the Jewish people than the blessing showered upon them by Bileam. Achiyah had cursed the Jewish people describing them as a reed which bends in all directions, a reference to someone demeaning himself rather than facing up to adversaries. (Kings I 14,15) If the Jewish people during the period of the second Temple had taken his advice to heart, the Temple would not have been destroyed. Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai testified to this when he said “if not for the militant extremists the Romans would not have destroyed the Temple.”
וישקהו נקוד למעלה שכיון לנשכו:
וישקהו בגימטריא לנושכיהו. דור חרבות שני”ו בגימטריא עשו:
We see from the Sforno and the Baal Haturim that Eisav wanted to kill Yaakov up until the very end and once he saw Yaakov bowing down did Esav’s heart melt.
The lesson from Rashi, Sforno, and the Ba’al Haturim is that to fight anti-semitism we must humble ourselfs, show deference, but be firm in showing the we, the Jewish people only want to bring good to the world. When someone says something against Israel or Jews the wrong thing to do is accuse them of being an anti-semite. Screaming anti-semitism is the wrong thing to do and embarrassing them is wrong. Educate. For example, AOC is not an anti-semite. We should work with her so when she says something we do not agree with, she has a point of reference, a go to person. Of course this will not always work, but our first response should be muted. Have a leader in Israel or a highly respected person call them up or meet with them privately to show them the Israeli view. I do not think many of these people are really anti-semeitc, they have a different view, a different mindset and we have to work to correct this mindset. I believe that when Rabbi Ovadya Yosef was alive, he should have been the Israeli emissary to the Arab world, privately meeting with Arab leaders. I worked over 30 years in banking as a Jewish man with a Yarmulke and my career sparkled with goodness. I was unique so everyone knew me in the bank and I am proud now that my career is over that I was a positive influence on many employees and customers.
קח נא את ברכתי המנחה וכן עשו אתי ברכה (מלכים ב יח לא) השיבו לי מנחה וכן קח נא ברכה מאת עבדך (שם ה טו) ויקראו המנחה שישלח האדם לרצונו ברכה כי הוא שולח מאשר ברך אותו השם כענין אשר ברכך ה’ אלהיך תתן לו (דברים טו יד) כאשר אמר למעלה (לב יד) מן הבא בידו והמנחה אשר התנו בה למלך בדבר ידוע תקרא מס:
קח נא את ברכתי. פי’ מנחתי כי המנחה שאדם שולח מרצונו נקראת ברכה לפי ששולח מרצונו מאשר ברכו ה’ והמנח’ שמביאין למלך נקראת מס:
קח נא את ברכתי וגו’. המינים ארורים פוקרים ואומרים שהודה יעקב לעשו על הברכות שלא אמר את מנחתי. וזריתי פרש על פניהם כתיב אשר הובאת לך משמע המובא בידים שיש בו ממש ויהבינן להו כלהו טעותייהו לפי שגער בו הקב”ה ואמר לו אני אל שדי פרה ורבה כלו’ לא עליך לתתם כי אם לי שהבטחתי לאבותיך עלי לקיים ולך אני אקיים מה שנדרתי להם והמלאך ברכו שם אחר מעשה זה וגם יצחק אמר לו גם ברוך יהיה ובהפרדו ללכת לחרן ברכו בג’ ברכות בג’ מקומות ונתן לו ברכת אבותיו ועוד דכתיב ויפצר בו ויקח ואלו כן היה נוטלם עשו ברצון שהרי נראה לו שנטלם יעקב במרמה ותשובתם נשאר מעל:
Second piece of Torah on this Parsha:
There is a fascinating Verse towards the end of the Sedra.
Esau took his wives, his sons and daughters, and all the members of his household, his cattle and all his livestock, and all the property that he had acquired in the land of Canaan, and went to another land because of his brother Jacob.
AND THE LAND OF THEIR SOJOURNINGS COULD NOT — supply sufficient pasture for the cattle which they had. A Midrashic comment (Genesis Rabbah 82) is: on account of the bond of indebtedness involved in the decree, (Genesis 14:13) “thy seed shall be a stranger etc… and they shall afflict them etc.” that was imposed upon Isaac’s descendants. He said, “I shall go hence — I desire no part either in the gift of this land which has been made to him (to my father) nor in the payment of this bond” . Another reason why he went away was on account of the shame he felt at having sold his birthright (cf. Genesis Rabbah 82:13).
And Esau had taken his wives and his sons and his daughters, and all the souls of his house, and his flocks and his cattle, and all the substance which he had gotten in the land of Kenaan, and had gone into another land; for there fell upon him a fear of Jakob his brother:
It is fascinating that Yaakov comes back to his father and Eisav is still living there with his father. Even though earlier in the Parsha it says that Eisav was coming from Har Seir with 400 men. I am not sure of the answer.
The Torah gives the reason why Eisav moved away from Yaakov:
Yaakov and Eisev were both wealthy, had many cattle and the land could not support both of them so Eisav moved away.
Rashi adds two other reasons:
Eisav did not want his kids to go into slavery
He was embarrassed that he sold his birthright
The Targum Yonasan Ben Uziel adds a fourth reason
“and had gone into another land; for there fell upon him a fear of Jakob his brother”
What is Targum Yonasan Ben Uziel saying? What fear of Yaakov? The “Perush Yonasan” explains this enigmatic Targum as follows. Eisav moved away because he heard that Shimon and Levy killed out Shechem and because of his fear of them Eisav left.
What does this mean?
We know from Rashi on Verse 35:8 the full extent of the evil of Eisav. Rashi says that the Torah does not mention the death of Rivka, Eisav and Yaakov’s mother . Rashi states:
An Agada (Genesis Rabbah 81:5) states that he there received news of another mourning for he was informed that his mother had died. — In Greek allon means “another”. — Because the time of her death was kept secret in order that people might not curse the mother who gave birth to Esau, Scripture also does not make open mention of her death (Midrash Tanchuma, Ki Teitzei 4).
Eisav was a murderer, a plunder, hated by everyone and was able to do his evil unhindered. However, when he heard that Yaakov had two sons who were men of strength, who would not tolerate evil, there was a new sheriff in town. As a result Eisav left. I got my understanding from an article written by Denis Prager in the December 4, 2020 issue of the Jewish Press
Denis Prager writes:
“Fakhrizadeh is the fifth Iranian nuclear scientist to have been killed in the last 13 years. One must assume that most, if not all, of these assassinations, whether Israel was involved or not, were carried out by Iranians – which only shows how many Iranians loathe their liberty-suppressing, life-suppressing, women-suppressing, Islamo-fascist regime. Too bad Western countries and the Western media also don’t loathe the Iranian regime (what they loathe is labeling the Iranian regime “Islamo-fascist”).”
The Israelis and before them President Trump put the Iranians on notice that there will be repercussions if they continue to pursue their evil in the world. There is accountability and it is Israel. This is another gift of the Israelis to the world. Israel is already a leader in terms of science, innovations, water desalination in agriculture, medicine, and everything else. Of course Israel cannot be the middle eastern policemen, but they can give the Ikranians pause. If only the Arabs would make peace with Israel, there would be a renaissance in the entire Mideast.
Full Denis Prager Article:
Jewish Press Denis Prager – 12/4/2020 – The Israelis are Amazing and So Is the Left:
I always thought no one – including Israel – could pull off something as incredible as the July 4, 1976, raid on Entebbe, Uganda. To remind readers what happened that day:
A week earlier, on June 27, two Palestinian and two German terrorists hijacked an Air France Tel Aviv-to-Paris flight with 248 passengers on board, which they diverted to Entebbe Airport in Uganda. At the airport, the hijackers and four additional terrorists – aided by Uganda’s Idi Amin regime – held the Israelis and other Jews, and allowed the 148 non-Jewish passengers to fly on to Paris.
The terrorists announced that unless 53 Palestinian prisoners – 40 in Israel and 13 elsewhere – were released, the kidnapped Jews (and the Air France crew, all of whom heroically remained with the Jewish passengers) would be killed.
On July 4, the Israelis flew a disguised transport plane filled with Israeli commandos 2,500 miles from Israel to Entebbe. After refueling in Kenya, they landed in Entebbe, killed the terrorists, and saved nearly every hostage – all in 53 minutes.
No one had seen anything quite like the raid on Entebbe… until last week. On Friday, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the Iranian scientist considered to be “the driving force behind Iran’s nuclear weapons program for two decades,” was assassinated in Iran. To appreciate how remarkable this operation was, consider this: Fakhrizadeh traveled a different route to work every day, rode in a bulletproof car, and was accompanied by three personnel carriers that transported heavily armed bodyguards.
The assassins cut off electricity to the area surrounding the assassination and disabled all video cameras as well. They exploded a car next to Fakhrizadeh’s car and had a remote-control machine gun fire at Fakhrizadeh. The entire operation took three minutes. None of the assassins were killed or even wounded. All 12 (the number of assassins, according to Javad Mogouyi, a documentary filmmaker for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps) got away.
One would think that every decent human being would welcome the elimination of a man whose life was dedicated to the annihilation of another country. There is, after all, no parallel in the world to the Iranian regime’s repeatedly stated goal of annihilating Israel. And Israel – to the consternation of European leaders, the United Nations, and major American media – does whatever it takes to prevent itself from being annihilated.
John Brennan, the head of the CIA under President Barack Obama, strongly condemned the Fakhrizadeh assassination. Brennan, who has never abandoned the moral values he held when he was a communist, condemned the assassination as “a criminal act” and “highly reckless” and labeled it “murder” and “state-sponsored terrorism.
He asked Iran to “resist the urge” to retaliate and “wait for the return of responsible American leadership on the global stage.” In other words, wait until the Holocaust-denying, Islamo-fascist, America-hating, genocide-seeking Iranian regime is appeased by a Democrat in the White House.
A United Nations spokesman said, “We condemn any assassination or extrajudicial killing.”
A spokesperson for the European Union called Fakhrizadeh’s killing “a criminal act” that “runs counter to the principle of respect for human rights the EU stands for.”
A New York Times opinion piece said the assassination “could strengthen hard-line factions in Iran arguing against a return to diplomacy.” This statement embodies the naiveté of the world’s left, including liberals: that evil regimes are composed of “hard-line factions” and “moderate factions.”
The author of the Times opinion piece, Barbara Slavin of the Atlantic Council, added that the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany should “issue a statement condemning the assassination as illegal under international law and damaging to the cause of nonproliferation.” She said, “It would be the ultimate tragedy if Israel’s aggression now led Iran to change its calculus and go for weapons.”
To the left around the world, Israel is the villain here, not Iran.
Upon returning to France, Michel Bacos – the heroic captain of the plane hijacked in 1973 who refused the opportunity to return to France and insisted on remaining with the kidnapped Jews – “was reprimanded by his superiors at Air France and temporarily suspended from duty,” according to The Jerusalem Post (Aug. 3, 2006). Such are the values of our European allies.
ויהי וַהֲוָה מִסוֹף תַּרְתֵּין שְׁנִין עָאל דוּכְרָנָא דְיוֹסֵף קֳדָם מֵימְרָא דַיְיָ וּפַרְעה הֲוָה חָלִים וְהָא קָאִי עַל נַהֲרָא – It was at the end of two years, that the remembrance of Joseph came before the Word of the Lord. And Pharaoh dreamed, and, behold, he stood by the river.
“and Pharoah dreamt” – and do not all people dream?! Rather the dream of a king is regarding (or perhaps belonging to) the entire world.
Questions on this Pasuk:
The word וַיְהִ֕י is normally language use when the Torah is talking about troubled times. Here Yoseph is about to be freed and go from a prisoner and slave to the Viceroy of Egypt. The #2 man in the country and the one responsible for the entire country, This is a time of joy.
Rashi says that מִקֵּ֖ץ means at the end. A) are there different translations of this word? The Torah does not specifically say the end of what event.
It says שְׁנָתַ֣יִם יָמִ֑ים. It means two years, why not use the words שנתים שנים?
חֹלֵ֔ם עֹמֵ֥ד ,הַיְאֹֽר׃ – all are written חסר and not מלא
הַיְאֹֽר׃ – Rashi says that this refers to the Nile. Why not say the Nile river. It would have said Pishon because I do not think it was called the Nile river at the time?
The Ohr HaCahim asks another question. The language of וּפַרְעֹ֣ה חֹלֵ֔ם implies that at the end of two years Pharah was already dreaming. Proper language would be that at the end of two years, Pharaoh dreamt. וחָלַם פרעה
The word וַיְהִ֕י is normally language used when the Torah is talking about troubled times. Here Yoseph is about to be freed and go from prisoner and slave to the Viceroy of Egypt. The #2 man in the country and the one responsible for the entire country,
The Ohr HaChaim Hakodesh has three answers:
A) This is the start of the exile of Egypt
B) The pain of the entire world that will be thrust into a severe famine for seven years
C) Pain of Yoseph who was imprisoned an extra two years
Language of the Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh:
ויהי מקץ. טעם אומרו לשון צער. כי עתה יתחיל לסובב סיבת גלות מצרים. והגם שהגלות כבר נגזרה גזירתו משנים קדמוניות, הלא אמרו רבותינו כי לא נגזר שיהיה במצרים שהוא כור הברזל, וכמו שכתבו התוס’ במס’ שבת (י:) וכמו שכתב הראב”ד (פ”ו הל’ תשובה) כי המצרים הוסיפו לצער יותר ממה שאמר הכתוב ועבדום וענו וגו’:
עוד אמר לשון צער לצד בשורת רעב כי הקב”ה כביכול לו צר בצרת עולמו, וצא ולמד ממה שדרשו ז”ל (מגילה י:) בפסוק (שמות יד כ) ולא קרב זה אל זה וגו’:
עוד ירמוז לצערו של אותו צדיק שנתעכב עד ששלמו ב’ שנים אחר חלומו של שר המשקים כי אז היה לו לצאת כאומרם ז”ל (ב”ר פ’ פ”ט) וז”ל בשביל שאמר כי אם זכרתני והזכרתני ניתוספו ב’ שנים, הרי שהוסיפו לו ב’ שנים בצער, ותמצא שאמרו ז”ל (שם) ויהי מקץ קץ שם לחושך. ולפי זה יכוין על זה הדרך ויהי מסיבת קץ שהוא יצר הרע שנקרא קץ כל בשר והוא סיבה לצערו של צדיק שנתים ימים. ובזה הרווחנו גם כן תחלת זה החשבון של שנתים שהוא לחלומו של שר המשקים שהיה זמן זכירת יוסף לטובה, וטעם ב’ שנים בשביל שאמר זכרתני והזכרתני כנגד כל זכירה מנע ה’ זכרונו בראש השנה שהוא זמן הזכרון:
Rashi says that מִקֵּ֖ץ means at the end. A) are there different translations of this word? The Torah does not specifically say the end of what event.
Answer: I do not fully understand the Sifsei Chachomim who says – מקץ. פירש”י כתרגומו מסוף ופי’ כן דלא תימא מתחלה כמו מקצה שלש שנים תוציא את כל מעשר תבואתך שפי’ מתחלת שנה שלישית .
The Tur and the Tur HaAroch discusses the word מקץ. The Baal Haturim says:
נאמר כאן מקץ ונאמר באברהם מקץ עשר שנים (לעיל טז ג) מה להלן עשר שנים אף כאן עשר שנים. ופירוש ויהי מקץ דהיינו לסוף עשר שנים ועוד שנתיים
The Baal Haturim explains the Pasuk as saying that Joseph was in jail for 12 years. It says here מקץ and it says by Avrohom in Bereshis 16:3 – “מִקֵּץ֙ עֶ֣שֶׂר שָׁנִ֔ים”, therefore the word מקץ means 10 years, plus another two years. Yoseph spent a total of 12 years in prison.
For additional color see the below Tur Haruch from Sefaria.
ויהי מקץ שנתים ימים. פי’ לסוף ב’ שנים הי’ זה המעש’ שפרעה חלם ולא פי’ מתי התחילו ב’ שנים ונראה שהיה לסוף ב’ שנים מיציא’ שר המשקה מבית הסוהר שהי’ גם יוסף ראוי לצאת אלא שנתאח’ ב’ שנים על שתלה בטחונו בבשר ודם ונמצא שהי’ תפוש י”ב שנים שלא היה עבד בבית אדוניו אלא שנה דכתיב ויהי ברכת ה’ בבית ובשדה דהיינו קיץ וחורף וט’ שנים הי’ תפוש קודם לשר המשקה והאופה והיו הם תפושים עמו שנה כדכתיב ויהיו ימים במשמר פי’ שנה ואחריהם ב’ שנים אלא שקשה הא דאיתא במדרש ולכך חטאו שר המשקים והאופה כדי שידברו בסרחונם וישכחו מלדב’ ביוסף ואם לא חטאו עד ט’ שני’ אחריו א”כ הרב’ דברו בט’ שנים ואיפשר שחטאו מיד ונמשך הדבר מיום ליום שלא נתפשו עד אחר ט’ שנים ויש שסומכין אותו על הפסוק כתיב הכא מקץ וכתיב התם מקץ עשר שנים מה התם עשר אף הכא עשר:
It says שְׁנָתַ֣יִם יָמִ֑ים. It means two years, why not use the words שנתים שנים? I saw some Meforshim but I do not have a good answer.
חֹלֵ֔ם עֹמֵ֥ד ,הַיְאֹֽר – all are written חסר and not מלא
I do not have a good answer for this. Other than the real story of this Parsha is hidden.
הַיְאֹֽר׃ – Rashi says that this refers to the Nile. Why not say the Nile river. It would have said Pishon because I do not think it was called the Nile river at the time?
Both Onkelys and Targum Yonasan Ben Uziel translate הַיְאֹֽר as river. Do they argue on Rashi or not? You can say they don’t because the word itself does translate in river, Rashi is using the ה – הידעה. Even though I would think that Targum Yonasan Ben Uziel would have been more specific.
Sifsei Chacomin discusses this – כל שאר נהרות אינם קרויין יאורים חוץ מנילוס כו’. ה”פ דק”ל למה כתיב על היאור בה”א הידיעה אלא ודאי ה”פ היאור הידוע הנזכר לעיל וקאי על הד’ נהרות שכתובים בפ’ בראשית (לעיל ב יא) וא”כ למה לא כתיב בכאן נהר כמו שכתוב שם אלא ודאי אי הוה כתיב נהר לא הייתי יודע על איזה נהר קאי שד’ נהרות כתובים לעיל לכך כתיב יאור כלומר הנהר שעשוים יאורים דכל שאר נהרות אינן קרויין יאורין חוץ מנילוס כמו שמפרש ואזיל ונילוס היינו פישון הנזכר לעיל בפרשת בראשית כדפירש רש”י שם וכל שאר נהרות דנקט רש”י קאי אשאר ג’ נהרות הכתובים בבראשית:
שכל הארץ עשויין יאורים יאורים בידי אדם ונילוס עולה כו’. דקשה לו כיון דקאי אאחד מד’ נהרות הנזכרים בבראשית למה לא הזכיר אותו בשמו המיוחד אלא לפי שעשוי יאורים יאורים על ידי בני אדם לכן קראו בשם יאור וכל שאר נהרות אינם עשויים כן:
The Ohr HaCahim asks another question. The language of וּפַרְעֹ֣ה חֹלֵ֔ם implies that at the end of two years Pharah was already dreaming. Proper language would be that at the end of two years, Pharaoh dreamt. וחָלַם פרעה
The Ohr HaChaim has two answers. I love his second answer and will explain it here:
ועוד אפשר שיכוין לומר כי שנתים ימים ופרעה חולם בתמידות חלום זה אלא שלא היה יודע שחלם ולסוף שנתים חלם ולא שכח:
The Ohr Hachaim is saying that during the entire two years Pharaoh was dreaming the dream of the cows and grains; however he forgot it every morning. At the end of the two years he dreamt and did not forget. What does the Ohr HaChaim mean? The redemption via the dreams of Pharaoh were to happen two years earlier and already existed. When Yoseph added the two words and Harshem delayed Joseph’s redemption for two years, Hashem did not pull the dreams back. They already existed in the world. Perhaps if Yosef could have done Tshuvah his redemption would have occurred before two years.
I think the Ohr HaChaim is saying something more profound. Pharaoh forgot not because Hashem made him forget, but because he did not care. He was not a benevolent ruler who truly cared about the Egyptians. He was a typical tyrannical ruler who only cared about himself, his power, and ruled harshly, with evil. This is why he forgot. His dreams were not able to break through from his dream state to his consciousness. There were undercurrents in the world from Hashem that hard times were coming and also one one of redemption. Had he been a ruler who truly cared about his subjects, such as a Dovid Hamelech or an Abraham Lincoln, he would have plugged into the Ratzon Hashem and remembered the dream. Perhaps, if Pharaoh remembered the dream Yoseph would have been freed earlier because he would have been needed to save the world. This is what the Ohr HaChaim is telling us. There are times of tremendous change in the world, of Siattah Dismayah in the world. The world is changing, with Hashem putting the change into the spiritual atmosphere of the world where anyone with proper spiritual sensitivity can sense and plug into the Tatzon Hashem.
There are leaders who understood the undercurrent of a changing world and took their efforts into a new direction and did great things because they were plugged into the Ratzon Hashem. In 1967 after the six day war, there was a new dimension Hashem put into the world, it was a world of T’shuvah. The Lubavitcher Rebbe plugged into this new feeling in the world for a return to Judaism and his efforts became supercharged. He made this a reality. The Rebbe started his Tefillin campaign to bring light to the world. The Rebbe understood that putting Tefillin on Jewish men is not a small unimportant feat. It would change the life of the person and bring positive results to the Jewish world. The Lubavitcher also cared about the world at large and many non-Jewish people came to him for a blessing.
The second one was Theodore Herzl. He came from the secular side. He saw that the Jewish people were not going to survive Europe. He was able to plug into the Ratzon Hashem due to his desire to help his fellow Jews and be the agent of change. He plugged into the Ratzon Hashem just like Pharaoh could have. Theodore Herzl created the reality of a Jewish state from a dream. He died at 44 from the strain of efforts. Martin Brody has a beautiful essay on the repentance of Theordoe Herzl and I have spoken about the complete Tshuva of Herzl. Both are on my website, Kotzk.com,
Sefaria: IN THE REED-GRASS — in the marshy land. old French marais; English, marsh. Similar is (Job 8:11) “Can reed-grass (אחו) grow?”
Artscroll: In the Swamp i.e. בָּאֲגַם – in the marshland, marese in Old French. It is like אָחוּ in יִשְׂגֶּא אָחוּ in “(Would) a swamp flourish”
However Rashi seems to contradict himself from the Pasuk in Iyuv 8:11 where Rashi says – ביצה מריש”ק בלע”ז: The question is what is the translation of אחו. Here Rashi says swamp and the Ibn Ezra says it is either a valley where there is foliage or it is a name of a specific plant. Perhaps Rashi feels that the old France word of מריש”ק is the meaning of אחו and ביצה.
Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, “Not I! God will see (respond) to Pharaoh’s welfare.”
Both Sefaria and Artscroll translated the word ־שְׁל֥וֹם פַּרְעֹֽה׃ as the welfare of Pharah. I believe that there are better words. Yoseph was only asked to interpret the dream yet he said more, that upon hearing the bad news, God will additionally show Pharah a path to navigate through the bad times and will restore Pharaoh’s peace of mind, his equilibrium. Joseph is saying that I will not only be interpreting your dream, but I will bring you solutions from God that will bring you peace of mind. When people have a need or want advice, it is not enough to just listen and give advice, but to also embrace them and make them feel protected, that everything will be okay. It is also emotional support.
This is a little off topic. When my mother moved to Lakewood, NJ in 1980 to take care of her parents, once they heard that my mother was coming, they felt better. It was my mother’s presence that made them feel that everything will be okay.
And Pharaoh called the name of Joseph, The man who revealeth mysteries. And he gave him Asenath, whom Dinah had borne to Shekem, and the wife of Potiphera prince (Rabba) of Tanis had brought up, to be his wife. And Joseph went forth as ruler over the land of Mizraim.
It was very appropriate that Yoseph would marry his niece’s daughter. Asnath’s grandmother was Leah and mother was Dinah. She was the daughter of great people. See my Torah on Bersehich 34:1 – וַתֵּצֵ֤א דִינָה֙ בַּת־לֵאָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר יָלְדָ֖ה לְיַעֲקֹ֑ב לִרְא֖וֹת בִּבְנ֥וֹת הָאָֽרֶץ׃.
ויתן לו את אסנת. וא”ת יוסף שהי’ מלך איך נשא בת הדיוט. ונ”ל לפי שמתחלה הי’ יוסף עבד לפוטיפר אמר בלבו אם לא אעשה רצונו לישא בתו יזלזלני וילשין אותי שהייתי עבדו אשאנה ויכבדני. ועוד י”ל שנשאה מפני שהית’ מזרע יעקב כדפי’ רש”י בפ’ וישלח דבת דינה הית’ משכם ותלה לה יעקב אבינו קמיע בצוארה והשליכה והובאה למצרים ע”י נס כדפרישית וגדלה פוטיפר בביתו ולכך נקראת על שמו כמו שמצינו גבי משה רבינו ע”ה אלה בני בתיה וגו’. וכשעבר יוסף בכל ארץ מצרים יצאו כל הנשים לראות יפיו של יוסף כדכתיב בנות צעדה עלי שור וכל אחת זורקת לו חפץ או תכשיט וזו לא היה לה מה לזרוק וזרקה לו הקמיע שהיה בצוארה ועיין בו וראה שהיא מזרעו של יעקב ונשאה:
ויצא יוסף על ארץ מצרים יצא מלפני פרעה באופן מורה שהיה שליט על כל ארץ מצרים
, Yoseph walked away from Pharaoh in a bearing of royalty which indicated that he was now the ruler
over the whole nation
Yospeh walked away from Pharaoh in a manner that he was ruler of the entire nation of Egypt. The Sferno is saying Joseph’s entire bearing changed, he looked regal. Took on the persona of someone who was incharge. It showed on his face, in his mannerisms, how he spoke, and in every action he took.
Chapter 41: Verse 47:
וַתַּ֣עַשׂ הָאָ֔רֶץ בְּשֶׁ֖בַע שְׁנֵ֣י הַשָּׂבָ֑ע לִקְמָצִֽים׃-During the seven years of plenty, the land produced in abundance.
Look at Rashi and Onkelys. This is very confusing and I could not understand the Pasuk.
And when all the land of Egypt felt the hunger, the people cried out to Pharaoh for bread; and Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Jo-seph; whatever he tells you, you shall do.”—
ותרעב כל ארץ מצרים AND THE LAND OF EGYPT WAS FAMISHED — for all the grain they had stored up rotted except that of Joseph (cf. Genesis Rabbah 91:5). He asked them “Why did you yourselves not lay up corn? Did he not publicly announce that years of famine were coming?” They answered him, “We gathered in much, but it has rotted”. He said to them, “If this be so — what he saith to you, do. See, he laid a decree upon the produce and it rotted; what will happen if he lays a decree upon us that we should die!” (cf. Genesis Rabbah 91:5)
Pharaoh was duplicitous. He could have told Joseph not require circumcision. He included himself with the common man and said that Joseph is a demon, a Rasputin. Yoseph can control nature and I, the mighty Sungod, is powerless. Pharaoh knew that this is rubbish. He wanted to find a scapegoat and someone to blame when the people were suffering. This is the first case of setting up a scapegoat if things go bad. This is the first instance of anti-Semitism where the Jew is viewed as controlling the world, even nature itself.
They said to one another, “Alas, we are being punished on account of our brother, because we looked on at his anguish, yet paid no heed as he pleaded with us. That is why this distress has come upon us.”
Fascinating Ohr HaChaim:
ויאמרו וגו’ אבל. תיבת אבל אין לה משמעות כאן. והמתרגם אמר בקושטא. וגם עליה דן אנכי למה הוצרכו לומר בקושטא. עוד למה האריכו לשון לומר אשר ראינו וגו’ ולא אמרו סתם, ועוד היה להם לומר אשר מכרנוהו שהוא תכלית העון.
ואולי שנתכוונו לומר להיות שצדדו בטעם צרה זו אם הוא בשביל מכר יוסף ודחו טעם זה כפי מה שכתבתי למעלה (ל”ז כ’) שכפי הדין דנוהו להריגה ואם כן המכר שעשו לו הוא אדרבה מדת החסד, ואם על שגרמו צרת אביהם אדרבה דבר זה יוסיף לו מכאוב ולא יעשה ה’ יסורי עון צער אביהם בדבר שיגדל עוד צער על צערו, ואשר על כן לא מצאו עון ואמרו אבל אשמים וגו’ אשר ראינו וגו’ פי’ שעל כל פנים היה להם לרחם עליו בראות אחיהם מתחנן על סכנת נפשו ונתאכזרו עליו ודבר זה מגונה לצדיקים לעשותו על כן באה וגו’:
Ohr HaChaim 37:20
ועתה לכו וגו’. פי’ לכו שקודם שיגיע הוא אצלם הם ילכו לקראתו, ולזה דקדק לומר ועתה באותו עת עצמו לכו. וטעמם לצד הזריזות והמהירות אשר לא יכלו לסבול עד שיגיע אליהם. ולזה תמצא שלא עכבו בהגיעו אצלם אלא תיכף ומיד כאשר בא עשו מה שעשו, ואומרם ונהרגהו על דרך אומרם ז”ל (ב”ק כו.) עשרה בני אדם שהרגו אדם אחד אם כולם יחד פטורים. לזה נתחכמו ואמרו ונהרגהו יחד שבזה יהיו פטורים מדיני אדם:
ואומרו ונשליכהו וגו’ ואמרנו פירוש שכשנשליכהו בבורות מן הסתם חולדה וברדלס המצויים בבורות יאכלוהו ובזה נוכל לומר חיה רעה אכלתהו לא שיאמרו חיה רעה הרגתהו ובזה אין מוציאין מפיהם דבר שקר:
ואם תאמר על מי סמכו שבטי יה להרוג את הנפש ומה גם נפש צדיק אחיהם, והגם שיעצו להרוג אותו בדרך שאינם חייבין כמו שכתבנו אף על פי כן אינן פטורים מדיני שמים וה’ יבוא במשפט:
אולי שהאחים דנו בו דין עד זומם כי מצינו שהוא הביא דבתם רעה אל אביהם ואמר דברים שיתחייבו מיתה על עדותו, ההוא אמר שאכלו אבר מן החי, ההוא אמר שהם בעלי עריות, ועל כל אחת מהם בני נח מתחייבים מיתה, ובן נח נהרג על פי עד אחד בלא עדים ובלא התראה ועל עדות הקרובים ג”כ (רמב”ם הל’ מלכים פ”ט) אשר על כן דנו בו משפט עד זומם ופטורים הם מדיני שמים. אלא דלצד דיני אדם אינם פטורים כי אין להם הזמה לזה נתחכמו להמיתו כולן יחד שבזה אין חיוב לכולן כמו שכתבנו, אבל לדין השמים הם פטורים מטעם שידעו נאמנה כי הוא ביקש להורגם, וכל זה הוא סיבת הסיבות לעשות ה’ אשר זמם, ואולי שרמזו בדבריהם שיעשו תשובה לבסוף ואין לך דבר שעומד בפני התשובה, והוא אומרו ועתה ואמרו ז”ל (ב”ר פ’ כ”א) ואין ועתה אלא תשובה וזה דרך דרש: