Shabbos Parashas Shelach – June 20, 2020

Shabbos Parashas Shelach – June 20, 2020

Joseph Greenbaum Bar Mitzvah – Parshas Shelach 2015

For Want of Cholent – Thank you Rabbi Rael Blumenthal

Toras Yonatan Glenner

Meshech Chochma on the Sin of the Spies

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Rabbi Yonatan Glenner and his Uncle (myself)

It is after Shabbos and I am decompressing from Shabbos.  I seem to always be tired and I am having back problems.

I did not speak this Shabbos and I am upset at myself.  I saw a beautiful Meshech Chochma, which I will write about later in this post.

Parshas Shleach was Joseph Greenbaum’s Bar Mitzvah.  He has special needs.  I merited to be at his Bar Mitzvah.  That Shabbos morning, the  Shul was packed, every seat taken.  Close to 1,000 people were in Shul.   The energy in the Shul was electric.   Joseph’s cousin from Raanana, Israel davened a beautiful Shachris.  It was time for Joe, as he is known, to be called up to the Torah and his Aliyah.  He was perfect.  I still can picture the family with Dr. Landa and Rabbi Efreim Goldberg dancing with Joe around the bima.  I remember  Rabbi Efreim Goldberg’s great speech.  He started with saying that while he was shopping a few years ago, Joe had come over to him and said hello.  Later that night Joe’s mother, Dr. Laura Greenbaum, called Rabbi Efreim Goldberg and said that you witnessed a miracle. Joe has proxia and cannot speak. I can close my eyes and be at the Bar Mitzvah.  The family is blessed to live in the great community of Boca Raton Synagogue. 

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This Shabbos morning I walked with Serka to my daughter Rivkie to drop off salad. They live 1.3 miles from us.  Afterwards, I went to my apartment to learn.  It did not seem like a long time, but when I picked up my head from learning and made it to the garage Minyan by Sidney, it was 10:20 AM and they were already by Chazaras Hashatz.     

Went home and made Kiddush, my wife makes great avocado that I enjoyed. After my meal, I went to Yonatan’s house for Cholent. I had told my wife not to make Cholent.  I just needed a taste and I did not want her to make Cholent as I and my son would over eat.  More importantly, I wanted to speak Torah with Yonatan.  I also wanted to discuss a Meshech Chochma with Yonatan.  

I must have Cholent on Shabbos, even a taste.  Rabbi Rael Blumenthal of Boca Raton West, in his Shiur on Pershim vs. Tzadukim, said, Chazal says we should have hot food – Cholent – on Shabbos to show the Tzadukim that we do not follow them and that they are wrong.  The Tzadukim do not have hot food on Shabbos at all.  Rabbi Blumethal said in his unique British accent that if you take a second bowl of Cholent and your wife says, it is too much, respond to her that it is a Mitzva!.

Boruch Hashem Serka did not make Cholent and Boruch Hashem I heard Rabbi Blumenthal say, It is a Mitzva.  I went to Yonatan’s house and the following magical moment occurred.

I started discussing with Yonatan what Rabbi Moshe Revah of HTC was saying in Shiur.  I told him my question on “Derech Makom Patur ” mentioned in the top Tosefes on 101A – Rabbi Yehuda and how Rabbi Revah and the Shiur answered my question. Yonatan followed my question and answer. I was happy just with this. Then I told him Rabbi Revach’s Shiurim, on 101A – 101B, the Seguya of Mechitza Teluya (hanging partition), גּוּד אַחֵית מְחִיצָתָא, and גְּדָיִים בּוֹקְעִין בָּהּ. I was pleasantly surprised that Yonathan knew the Sugya.  Then Yonatan exploded the fireworks and pulled out the howitzer.

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Yonatan opened his Sefer on Eruvim and in the Sefer was an entire Chapter on this Sugya. Exciting.  In the Sefer he discussed the Machlokes between the Chazon Ish and the Shulchan Aruck Harav, the Ritva, and other Torah. The Sefer discussed the Chidushim of Rabbi Revah and many of his finer points in the Sugyah.  We went back and forth in learning for about an hour.  The chapter  was essentially a review of Rabbi Revah’s Shiurim. For me it was a special moment and time will always be frozen in his house at his table. I merited to learn with my nephew some very deep and involved Torah. Later on Shabbos I walked to Rabbi Revah’s house. He had the Sefer and we went through Yonatan’s Torah on Sugya. Wow.

After Rabbi Revah’s I went to Eichestein’s to learn with my Chavrusa.  I got caught in a downpour and got somewhat soaked.  Someone gave me a plastic bag so my torso did not get fully soaked.   He cut open a hole for my head,  I have to find out if I did wrong. 

I learned with my Chavrusa, Shabbos 107A-107B – the 14th perek of Shabbos – Shemona Sherutzim.

I found the Gemorah difficult as it was back and forth.  I told my Chavrusah that I have to write the Gemora down just to understand the back and forth. He said that  you need working memory for these types of Gemoras. I said, you are correct, I believe that I do not have working memory. In college I would read a paragraph, and by the time I got to the second paragraph I forgot the first. I was able to overcome this in College, but I remember this bothering me for years and having difficulty comprehending.  I told this to Rabbis Twersky and Eisnbach and they dismissed it. 

My Torah on this week’s Parsha.

Parsha Shleach is always a very difficult Parsha.  Why did the spies go wrong and what happened.  Why did they want to go against God.   Even after learning all the Meforshim, I have the same question year after year.

Rashi opens up Parshas Shelach with the following:

שלח לך אנשים SEND THOU MEN — Why is the section dealing with the spies put in juxtaposition wi

 the section dealing with Miriam’s punishment? To show the grievousness of the spies’ sin: because she (Miriam) was punished on account of the slander which she uttered against her brother, and these sinners witnessed it and yet they did not take a lesson from her (Midrash Tanchuma, Sh’lach 5 .

The actual events unfolded as follows.   First the rebellion of Korah, then Miriam, then the Spies. After the rebellion of Korah, shouldn’t the Beni Yisroel have learned from the Korech incident that Moshe is Hashem’s leader and Hashem’s spokesman, and the power of God for those that rebel?   Additionally, the spies, through their slander, wanted to effect a change in God’s plans. It was different from Miriam and Aaron who did not mean to harm Moshe; it was in private and more of a criticism. The spies deliberately planned a coup and seemed to want to change God’s mind by saying it is too much for us. They knew that Hashem wanted them to go to Israel and they said no, we do not want to go.  By Korach it was a question of leadership, the opponents of Moshe wanted power, and not directly go against Hashem.   

This is all despite seeing the miracles in Egypt, the redemption, the destruction of the Egyptian army, the revelation of the Torah, the Mun. and all the miracles in the desert.

We were not there so we cannot fully understand what happened.

Another question that I always bring up.  Didn’t Moshe know that the natives were restless, the children of Israel tested God many times.  There was the running away from har Sinai, the Salav, and Korah.Perhaps the people by and large were loyal and the atmosphere was ubeat.

There are three different approaches  to the end game of the spies.

  1. Satmar Rebbe – they know that Moshe and they were not going into Israel.  They thought they were to be the catalyst.  The way the Satmer explains it, they knew that they and Moshe would not go into Israel. Perhaps they felt that they were doing God’s wishes.   
  1. They wanted a purely spiritual life to continue that they were having in the desert, and not have a life of turmoil, toil, and hardship.  Added to this that perhaps they also felt inadequate to be both spiritual and work.  They were not going against God, but showing God that we are not up to the job.  Let our kids do  it.
  1. They were going to lose power once they got to Israel and for purely selfish reasons they opposed and turned the peoples hearts against God.  This I feel almost makes not sense.
  1. The Meshech Chochma adds a 4th explanation which is just the opposite of above. The knew and believed the prophecy of Eldad and Medad that Moshe will die and Yehushua will take the people into Israel. They feared and acted on their fear that without Moshe’s leadership the entry into Israel will fail and they have to stay in Israel under Hashem’s benevolence.

    

Other Thoughts:

The spies saw a great land and they saw a land that they and perhaps Hashem cannot overcome the people of Canaan.  They saw a land that has great harvests, fruits that were huge, other great features and they looked at it and said this land is unconquerable.  They said, yes, it is a land flowing with milk and honey.  Then they used  אֶ֚פֶס –  but . . .

Two people can see the same thing but understand it differently.  I went with my boss Jack to look at real estate for Howard, a customer of the bank, in Uptown, an area that had been down and out for a long time and had started improving.  Jack, my boss, took pictures of the graffiti and I saw the potential for Howard to build wealth.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Reb Aaron Kotler and others saw in America the potential to become a great country for Torah and Orthodoxy.  Others saw the potential demise of Orthodoxy in America.  At that time in the mid 40s and 50’s the Conservative and Reform movements were in their ascendancy and the future of Orthodoxy questioned.   

וַיְסַפְּרוּ־לוֹ֙ וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ בָּ֕אנוּ אֶל־הָאָ֖רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֣ר שְׁלַחְתָּ֑נוּ וְ֠גַם זָבַ֨ת חָלָ֥ב וּדְבַ֛שׁ הִ֖וא וְזֶה־פִּרְיָֽהּ׃ אֶ֚פֶס כִּֽי־עַ֣ז הָעָ֔ם הַיֹּשֵׁ֖ב בָּאָ֑רֶץ וְהֶֽעָרִ֗ים בְּצֻר֤וֹת גְּדֹלֹת֙ מְאֹ֔ד וְגַם־יְלִדֵ֥י הָֽעֲנָ֖ק רָאִ֥ינוּ שָֽׁם׃

This is what they told him: “We came to the land you sent us to; it does indeed flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. But, the people who inhabit the country are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large; moreover, we saw the Anakites there.  You know you are in trouble when the speaker uses the word, but . . .

In the 1870s  and 1880s when the secular Zionist movement started, these individuals saw a malarial, swamp infested land. A land without industry, a sleepy land that on the surface could not support a large amount of Jews.  Yet they saw past the flaws and saw a land flowing with milk and honey.  Opposite of the spies.  This is why my Zedi, the Pilaver Rebbe, in his Sefer Sholem Yerushalim, felt that the entire Zionist  movement was directed by God, to bring the Jews to Israel, and ultimately to bring Moshiach.

Translation of the Meshech Chochma:

On Verse 13:30 – וַיַּ֧הַס כָּלֵ֛ב אֶת־הָעָ֖ם אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֑ה וַיֹּ֗אמֶר עָלֹ֤ה נַעֲלֶה֙ וְיָרַ֣שְׁנוּ אֹתָ֔הּ כִּֽי־יָכ֥וֹל נוּכַ֖ל לָֽהּ׃

Caleb hushed the people before Moses and said, “Let us by all means go up, and we shall gain possession of it, for we shall surely overcome it.”

The Meshach Chocma says:

The spies were afraid because they heard Eldad and Medad (Verse 11:28) prophesying  that Moshe will die and Yehsuhus will take the Jews into Israel (Sanhedrin 17B).  They saw Moshe not rebuking Eldad and Medad by not telling them to stop,  This was a sign that Eldad and Medad prophecy was truthful.  They felt to enter a fortified land, and fight with Amelak, a nation they already battled, and to fight with the giants in Israel without Moshe would result in tragedy and everyone being killed.  

Therefore Caleb quieted the people, by telling them, the fact that you attribute the wonders to Mose is wrong, just the opposite, the miracles were dependent on the Jews themselves.  Caleb said we will go up without Moshe, because Moshe is not the cause of wonders, but it is the Jewish nation themselves who are fitting for  God’s divine providence.  

This is what Yehusya told the people under his leadership in Yeshuya 3:10


וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יְהוֹשֻׁ֔עַ בְּזֹאת֙ תֵּֽדְע֔וּן כִּ֛י אֵ֥ל חַ֖י בְּקִרְבְּכֶ֑ם וְהוֹרֵ֣שׁ יוֹרִ֣ישׁ מִ֠פְּנֵיכֶם אֶת־הַכְּנַעֲנִ֨י וְאֶת־הַחִתִּ֜י וְאֶת־הַחִוִּ֗י וְאֶת־הַפְּרִזִּי֙ וְאֶת־הַגִּרְגָּשִׁ֔י וְהָאֱמֹרִ֖י וְהַיְבוּסִֽי׃

By this,” Joshua continued, “you shall know that a living God is among you, and that He will dispossess for you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites:

The explanation of  כִּ֛י אֵ֥ל חַ֖י is that it was not Moshe who did all the miracles, but it was God who lives forever.  He will perform miracles now.  

Parshas Naso: 13 – 14 Sivan – June 5 – 6, 2020

Date:     13 – 14 Sivan  – June 5 – 6, 2020

    Parshas Naso

From:    Avrohom Meir Morgenstern

In the book עמוד האמת, page 185 the Sefer brings down sayings of the Kotzker.  On the subject matter of love of a fellow Jew the following is brought down: 

אמר על עצמו: אני מסתכל רק בּמידות הטובות שׁיש בכל אדם, וכך אניבּא לאהבה אותו.

A foundation stone of understanding the Kotzker Rebbe is  אהבת ישראל.   When you read a Vort of the Kotzker you have to put in the Kotzker’s   אהבת ישראל and his great Torah scholarship. 

In November 2019 I was in Toronto and with Siattah Dishmaya I found and re-connected with Rabbi Shmuel Bowman.  In fact he was visiting his father at the Conservatory, the same building where my mother-in-law lives.   I had heard him in 2013 when he was a scholar in residence at Boca Raton Synagogue.  I hugged him and told  him what he said in 2013.  I was able to give true Jewish Nachus to his  father as I spoke in praise of his son.   As we were departing, I asked Rabbi Bowman, what is your impression of the Kotzker Rebbe.  He responded   אהבת ישראל.   I stopped in my tracks and asked, I , who is a descendant of the Kotzker, did not understand this until I spent years studying Kotzk, how do you know this about the Kotzker?    Rabbi Shmuel Bowman responded that he heard it from Rabbi Shllomo Carlbach. 

On Thursday June 4, 2020  I was at my doctor’s office listening to Rabbi Sugerman’s  Daf Yomi Shiur on YUtorah.org.   Rabbi Sugerman said  . . . דָּרֵשׁ רָבָא, מַאי דִּכְתִיב:    I immediately was filled with joy as I felt  that this Gemora is the source of the Kotzker Rebbe’s Vort on the Medresh, on the second  Pasuk of Va’era.  I paused the Shiur with my mind racing.   I called my Chavrusa immediately and told him that I believe I found the source of a difficult Kotzker Vort.  

In Parshas  וארא the following Vort is brought down:  

וָאֵרָא אֶל אַבְרָהָם  ,וגו׳ (ו ג) 

ובמדרש:   אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמשֶׁה חֲבָל עַל דְּאָבְדִין וְלָא מִשְׁתַּכְּחִין,

יש לפרש חבל שהאבות אבדו  תקיפות דעתם בּשעה שהזהרתי אותם על גלות בניהם כּשאמרתי לאברהם כי גר יהיה זרעך ותרדמה נפלה על אברם, כּי אילו היה עומד בּתוקף שׁלא יהיה גלות כמוך אפשר לא היו משתעבּדים כלל.

Gevalt!  The Kotzker is saying that Avrohom lost his presence of mind, Avrohom lost his strength.  Had Avrohom prayed to Hashem perhaps there would not have been Golus.  

The Kotzker is telling us the power of the Tefillah of a Tzaddik, the Tefilah of Avrohom..   The Kotzker uses the first line of the Medresh as being supportive of Moshe.  There is no question that the full Medresh and Rashi  does seem to be “critical”  of Moshe.   The Kotzker is defending Moshe.   What I have to work on is reconciling the Kotzker with Rashi and the Medresh.  (I printed the entire medresh at the end of this Torah and the cases the Medresh cites that the 3 Avos did not question Hashem in no way compares to 400 years of millions of Jews of brutal suffering. )  

When I read this Kotzker in 2004, I wondered.  How can the Kotzker say a Pshat that was different from the traditional reading and understanding of the Medresh.

However, Boruch Hashem I believe that I found the source of the Kotzker while listening to Rabbi Sugeman.  

The Gemoro in Daf Yomi 89B mentions the following Memra from Rabbah:

דָּרֵשׁ רָבָא, מַאי דִּכְתִיב: ״לְכוּ נָא וְנִוָּכְחָה יֹאמַר ה׳״ — ״לְכוּ נָא״? ״בּוֹאוּ נָא״ מִיבְּעֵי לֵיהּ! ״יֹאמַר 

ה׳״? ״אָמַר ה׳״ מִיבְּעֵי לֵיהּ! 

לֶעָתִיד לָבֹא יֹאמַר לָהֶם הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְיִשְׂרָאֵל: לְכוּ נָא אֵצֶל אֲבוֹתֵיכֶם וְיוֹכִיחוּ אֶתְכֶם. וְיֹאמְרוּ לְפָנָיו: רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם אֵצֶל מִי נֵלֵךְ? אֵצֶל אַבְרָהָם שֶׁאָמַרְתָּ לוֹ ״יָדֹעַ תֵּדַע״ וְלֹא בִּקֵּשׁ רַחֲמִים עָלֵינוּ?! 

Rava taught: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Go please and let us reason together, the Lord will say” (Isaiah 1:18)? Why does the verse say: Go please? It should have said: Come please. And why does the verse say: The Lord will say? The prophet’s message is based on something that God already said. Therefore, the verse should have said: God said. 

Rather, the explanation of this verse is that in the future that will surely come, the Holy One, Blessed be He, will say to the Jewish people: Go please to your Patriarchs, and they will rebuke you. the Jewish people will say before Him: Master of the Universe, to whom shall we go? Shall we go to Abraham, to whom You said: “Know certainly that your seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years” (Genesis 15:13), and he did not ask for mercy on our behalf? 

Wow.  Rava clearly seems to be the source of the Kotzker.

How and why and what motivated the Kotzker to say his Pshat.  I believe it is influenced by the Kotzker’s    אהבת ישראל.   Moshe was standing up and defending the Jewish people.  How can we criticize Moshe for this?  After all, Moshe killed the Egyptian due to Ahavas Yisroel.  Moshe could have gone back to the palace and had the Egyptian killed in secret, yet he reacted, Moshe told Hashem that his brother, Aaron, should be the one to take out the Jews from Egypt, and  refused to accept the mission for seven days  

I looked closely at the below Medresh and saw something fascinating that appears to back up Rava and the Kotzker.  Verse 6:9 says:

לָכֵ֞ן אֱמֹ֥ר לִבְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֘ל אֲנִ֣י יְהוָה֒ וְהוֹצֵאתִ֣י אֶתְכֶ֗ם מִתַּ֙חַת֙ סִבְלֹ֣ת מִצְרַ֔יִם וְהִצַּלְתִּ֥י אֶתְכֶ֖ם מֵעֲבֹדָתָ֑ם וְגָאַלְתִּ֤י אֶתְכֶם֙ בִּזְר֣וֹעַ נְטוּיָ֔ה וּבִשְׁפָטִ֖ים גְּדֹלִֽים׃

Say, therefore, to the Israelite people: I am the LORD. I will free you from the labors of the Egyptians and deliver you from their bondage. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and through extraordinary chastisements.

Rashi on   לָכֵ֞ן explains:

  לכן. עַל פִּי אוֹתָהּ הַשְּׁבוּעָה:

לכן THEREFORE, i. e. in accordance with the tenor of that oath (cf. Exodus Rabbah 6).  Meaning because of the oath Hashem made to the   אבות, Hashem is redeeming the Jewish people from Egypt. 

However,  Rashi did not explain it like the Merdresh.    The Medresh explains the  שְּׁבוּעָה as a new oath to the Jewish people, as follows:

 וְאַתָּה תְּחִלַּת שְׁלִיחוּתִי אָמַרְתָּ לִי מַה שְּׁמִי, וּלְבַסּוֹף אָמַרְתָּ (שמות ה, כג): וּמֵאָז בָּאתִי אֶל פַּרְעֹה. וְעַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר: וְגַם הֲקִמֹתִי אֶת בְּרִיתִי, שֶׁנִּתְּנָה לָהֶם כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָמַרְתִּי לָהֶם שֶׁאֶתֵּן לָהֶם אֶת הָאָרֶץ וְלֹא הִרְהֲרוּ אַחֲרָי. וְגַם אֲנִי שָׁמַעְתִּי אֶת נַאֲקַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, לְפִי שֶׁהֵן לֹא הִרְהֲרוּ אַחֲרָי, וְגַם אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיִּשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁבְּאוֹתוֹ הַדּוֹר לֹא הָיוּ נוֹהֲגִין כַּשּׁוּרָה, שָׁמַעְתִּי נַאֲקָתָם בַּעֲבוּר הַבְּרִית שֶׁכָּרַתִּי עִם אֲבוֹתֵיהֶם, הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב (שמות ו, ה): וָאֶזְכֹּר אֶת בְּרִיתִי. לָכֵן אֱמֹר לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֵין לָכֵן אֶלָּא לְשׁוֹן שְׁבוּעָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמואל א ג, יד): וְלָכֵן נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי לְבֵית עֵלִי, נִשְׁבַּע הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא שֶׁיִּגְאָלֵם, שֶׁלֹא יִירָא משֶׁה שֶׁמָּא מִדַּת הַדִּין יְעַכֵּב גְּאֻלָּתָן. 

The Merdesh is saying because of the previous oath and bvecuase of the prayers of the Jews, even though the Jews are not acting properly, I am taking a new   שְּׁבוּעָה that I will redeem the Jews, that Moshe should not be afraid the the attribute of jusitnce will delay the redemption,  (Afterall Avrohom was told that the slavery will last 400 years, my note).  Amazing.   The Medresh seems to be saying that Hashem was responding to Moshe, when Moshe questioned Hashem.  

Either Rava and perhaps this Medresh argues on the Gemoro in Sanhedrin 111A or you figure out a way to reconcile the two.  Clearly, the Kotzker took a view based on Rava and this new understanding in the Medresh that Moshe’s  Prayer – וַיָּ֧שָׁב מֹשֶׁ֛ה אֶל־יְהוָ֖ה וַיֹּאמַ֑ר אֲדֹנָ֗י לָמָ֤ה הֲרֵעֹ֙תָה֙ לָעָ֣ם הַזֶּ֔ה לָ֥מָּה זֶּ֖ה שְׁלַחְתָּֽנִי׃ and  וּמֵאָ֞ז בָּ֤אתִי אֶל־פַּרְעֹה֙ לְדַבֵּ֣ר בִּשְׁמֶ֔ךָ הֵרַ֖ע לָעָ֣ם הַזֶּ֑ה וְהַצֵּ֥ל לֹא־הִצַּ֖לְתָּ אֶת־עַמֶּֽךָ׃  was a legitimate prayer and Hashem listened to Moshe.

I agree that the Medresh is not 100% either way but maybe Psat is that both prayers or lack of prayer are legitimate.  You need both.

Other thoughts: 

Thes Pshat of the Kotzker appealed to me as I felt that this more closely aligns with how I read Passek 6:1  right after Moshe questioned hashem that says:

וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהוָה֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה עַתָּ֣ה תִרְאֶ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֶֽעֱשֶׂ֖ה לְפַרְעֹ֑ה כִּ֣י בְיָ֤ד חֲזָקָה֙ יְשַׁלְּחֵ֔ם וּבְיָ֣ד חֲזָקָ֔ה יְגָרְשֵׁ֖ם מֵאַרְצֽוֹ׃ 

When I read this Passuk years ago, I felt that עַתָּ֣ה תִרְאֶ֔ה almost seems that Hashem is defending himself, Hashem feels the needs to respond to Moshe.     They are justification words, you’ll see.that things will turn out well. 

Perhaps what the Kotzker is saying is that Klal Yisroel needs a Moshe Rabbinu person, not an Avrohom Avinu person.

When Hashem told Shmual HaNavi that the monarchy is being taken away from Shaul, Shmuel begs and prays to Hashem all night.  He did not accept it quietly.  

In Veschanan, I asked the question.  Moshe prayed for a gift from Hashem.  I asked the question, can a Tzadick – leader pray to Hashem to save another person or to save his Chassidim or to save Klal Yisroel with a Matnas Chenom or must  the Tzaddik go in with fulls guns blazing saying, Klal Yisroel is owed, look at the Chesed, the sacrifices of your people..  , 

I first saw this Kotzker in January 2004 and in my mind I understood it slightly differently.  I understood the Kotzker said that  It would be natural for Avrohom to cry out – what do you mean that my children will be enslaved for four hundred years of slavery.  The Kotzker is saying even more.  

What does the Medresh and the Gemora here in Shabbos 89B mean and they are both difficult for many reasons.  The Medresh itself is difficult because of course Moshe knew that Hashem  will redeem Klal Yisrael.  My understanding is that Moshe lamented the fact that the  burden of Klal Yisroel increased significantly because of himself.  .  No one wants to be the person to have bad things happen because of them.

Full Medrash:

וָאֵרָא אֶל אַבְרָהָם, אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמשֶׁה חֲבָל עַל דְּאָבְדִין וְלָא מִשְׁתַּכְּחִין, הַרְבֵּה פְּעָמִים 

נִגְלֵיתִי עַל אַבְרָהָם יִצְחָק וְיַעֲקֹב בְּאֵל שַׁדַּי וְלֹא הוֹדַעְתִּי לָהֶם כִּי שְׁמִי ה’ כְּשֵׁם שֶׁאָמַרְתִּי לְךָ וְלֹא הִרְהֲרוּ אַחַר מִדּוֹתָי, אָמַרְתִּי לְאַבְרָהָם (בראשית יג, יז): קוּם הִתְהַלֵּךְ בָּאָרֶץ לְאָרְכָּהּ וּלְרָחְבָּהּ וגו’, בִּקֵּשׁ לִקְבֹּר שָׂרָה וְלֹא מָצָא עַד שֶׁקָּנָה בְּדָמִים וְלֹא הִרְהֵר אַחַר מִדּוֹתָי, אָמַרְתִּי לְיִצְחָק (בראשית כו, ג): גּוּר בָּאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת כִּי לְךָ וּלְזַרְעֲךָ וגו’, בִּקֵּשׁ לִשְׁתּוֹת מַיִם וְלֹא מָצָא אֶלָּא (בראשית כו, כ): וַיָּרִיבוּ רֹעֵי גְרָר עִם רֹעֵי יִצְחָק, וְלֹא הִרְהֵר אַחַר מִדּוֹתָי. אָמַרְתִּי לְיַעֲקֹב (בראשית כח, יג): הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה שֹׁכֵב עָלֶיהָ וגו’, בִּקֵּשׁ מָקוֹם לִנְטוֹת אָהֳלוֹ וְלֹא מָצָא עַד שֶׁקָּנָה בְּמֵאָה קְשִׂיטָה, וְלֹא הִרְהֵר אַחַר מִדּוֹתַי וְלֹא שְׁאָלַנִי מַה שְּׁמִי כְּשֵׁם שֶׁשָּׁאַלְתָּ אַתָּה, וְאַתָּה תְּחִלַּת שְׁלִיחוּתִי אָמַרְתָּ לִי מַה שְּׁמִי, וּלְבַסּוֹף אָמַרְתָּ (שמות ה, כג): וּמֵאָז בָּאתִי אֶל פַּרְעֹה. וְעַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר: וְגַם הֲקִמֹתִי אֶת בְּרִיתִי, שֶׁנִּתְּנָה לָהֶם כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָמַרְתִּי לָהֶם שֶׁאֶתֵּן לָהֶם אֶת הָאָרֶץ וְלֹא הִרְהֲרוּ אַחֲרָי. וְגַם אֲנִי שָׁמַעְתִּי אֶת נַאֲקַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, לְפִי שֶׁהֵן לֹא הִרְהֲרוּ אַחֲרָי, וְגַם אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיִּשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁבְּאוֹתוֹ הַדּוֹר לֹא הָיוּ נוֹהֲגִין כַּשּׁוּרָה, שָׁמַעְתִּי נַאֲקָתָם בַּעֲבוּר הַבְּרִית שֶׁכָּרַתִּי עִם אֲבוֹתֵיהֶם, הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב (שמות ו, ה): וָאֶזְכֹּר אֶת בְּרִיתִי. לָכֵן אֱמֹר לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֵין לָכֵן אֶלָּא לְשׁוֹן שְׁבוּעָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמואל א ג, יד): וְלָכֵן נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי לְבֵית עֵלִי, נִשְׁבַּע הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא שֶׁיִּגְאָלֵם, שֶׁלֹא יִירָא משֶׁה שֶׁמָּא מִדַּת הַדִּין יְעַכֵּב גְּאֻלָּתָן. וְהוֹצֵאתִי אֶתְכֶם מִתַּחַת סִבְלֹת מִצְרַיִם, אַרְבַּע גְּאֻלּוֹת יֵשׁ כָּאן, וְהוֹצֵאתִי, וְהִצַּלְתִּי, וְגָאַלְתִּי, וְלָקַחְתִּי. כְּנֶגֶד אַרְבַּע גְּזֵרוֹת שֶׁגָּזַר עֲלֵיהֶן פַּרְעֹה. וּכְנֶגְדָּן תִּקְּנוּ חֲכָמִים אַרְבַּע כּוֹסוֹת בְּלֵיל הַפֶּסַח, לְקַיֵּם מַה שֶּׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהלים קטז, יג): כּוֹס יְשׁוּעוֹת אֶשָֹּׂא וּבְשֵׁם ה’ אֶקְרָא, וְהֵבֵאתִי אֶתְכֶם אֶל הָאָרֶץ 

אֲשֶׁר נָשָׂאתִי אֶת יָדִי, אֶעֱשֶׂה לָהֶן מַה שֶּׁאָמַרְתִּי לַאֲבוֹתֵיהֶן שֶׁאֶתֵּן לָהֶם אֶת הָאָרֶץ וְיִהְיוּ יוֹרְשִׁין אוֹתָהּ בִּזְכוּתָן.

Postscript:

I spoke this Torah at the Glennner’s Minyan outdoor Minyan this past Shabbos.  My nephew, Naftali Glenner, one the the most recognized faces in the Frum world today, walked over after I finished speaking and held out his hand, and gave me a Yasher Koach.  Naftali is special needs and still listens to everything going on around him.  

Shabbos Parshas בהעלותך June 13, 2020

It is Eli’s birthday and we had a birthday Friday night meal.   Tzvi came over.

Davened at Sidney’s garage / driveway Minyan.  I spoke before Musaf and these are my words:

  וָאֶתְּנָ֨ה אֶת־הַלְוִיִּ֜ם נְתֻנִ֣ים ׀ לְאַהֲרֹ֣ן וּלְבָנָ֗יו מִתּוֹךְ֮ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵל֒ לַעֲבֹ֞ד אֶת־עֲבֹדַ֤ת בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ בְּאֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֔ד וּלְכַפֵּ֖ר עַל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְלֹ֨א יִהְיֶ֜ה בִּבְנֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ נֶ֔גֶף בְּגֶ֥שֶׁת בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל אֶל־הַקֹּֽדֶשׁ׃

19:  And from among the Israelites I formally assign the Levites to Aaron and his sons, to perform the service for the Israelites in the Tent of Meeting and to make expiation for the Israelites, so that no plague may afflict the Israelites for coming too near the sanctuary.

Chapter 8 Verse 19

Rashi says:

ואתנה וגו’. חֲמִשָּׁה פְעָמִים נֶאֶמְרוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּמִקְרָא זֶה, לְהוֹדִיעַ חִבָּתָן, שֶׁנִּכְפַּל אַזְכְּרוֹתֵיהֶן בְּמִקְרָא אֶחָד כְּמִנְיַן חֲמִשָּׁה חֻמְשֵׁי תוֹרָה, וְכָךְ רָאִיתִי בִּבְ”רַ:

׳AND I HAVE GIVEN [THE LEVITES etc.] — Five times are the “children of Israel” mentioned in this verse (where the last four times they might have been alluded to by a personal pronoun), in order to show what affection they are held by the Lord in that the mention of them is repeated five times in one verse corresponding in number to the “Five Books of the Torah”. Thus I have seen stated in Genesis Rabbah

(Leviticus Rabbah 2:4; cf. Genesis Rabbah 3:5).

The actual Merdrash does not say that the five times correspond in number to the five books of the Torah.  Rashi adds them from a Midrash on creation from Genesis Rabbah 3:5.

The Medresh itself says:

רַבִּי יוּדָן בּוֹא וּרְאֵה כַּמָּה חִבֵּב הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁמַּזְכִּירָן חֲמִשָּׁה פְּעָמִים בְּפָסוּק אֶחָד, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר ח, יט): וָאֶתְּנָה אֶת הַלְּוִים נְתוּנִים וגו’.

By repeating  בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל  Hashem is showing how much he loves the Jewish people.   The reason why Hashem is showing his love here is because at this time when their Bechorim were being replaced because of the sign of the golden calf, this is a slap in the face of the Klal Yisroel.   Hashem says do not feel diminished,  I love you.

Why does Rashi add to the Medresh that the times represent the 5 books of the Torah, when the Medresh does not mention it? 

The Kotzker says on this Rashi:

וָאֶתְּנָ֨ה אֶת־הַלְוִיִּ֜ם נְתֻנִ֣ים ׀ לְאַהֲרֹ֣ן וּלְבָנָ֗יו מִתּוֹךְ֮ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵל֒ 

“יען שראו ישראל כי נפרשו הכּוהנים והלוים מתוך כלל ישראל מיוחדים לעבודת הבּורא יתבּרך נחלשׁו דעתם וצעקו מעמק לבּם היכן אנחנו?  הודע להם השי”ת חבתן שׁהם כחמשה חומשי תורה שאף שכל אחד ספר בּפני עצמו הרי כל התורה אחת היא, כך  ישראל אף שנחלקו לכּוהנים לוים וישראלים הם עם אחד”

When the Kohanim and Levim were separated to work directly for Hashem, the Jews minds weakened (they felt terrible and cried from the depths of their hearts, what about us (we want to serve Hashem)?  Hashem let them know that just as one book of the five books is a book unto itself, the five books are one Torah.  You cannot have Genesis without the other four books.  The entire Torah is one.  So too with the Jewish people, even though they are 3 different groupings of peoples, Kohanim, Levim, and Yisralim, they are one nation.  You cannot have a Kal Yisrael without all three together, unified.   And according to the Baal Haturim, five groupings of people.  Meaning we all have a part of Hashem’s services of the Kohanim and Levim because they are us and we are them,  we should not feel excluded in the least.  We move forward as one unit and everyone has separate jobs.  Everyone doing their individual jobs, fulfils their job for the Klal, for everyone.  When I learn, I learn for Klal Yisroel.  When a boy is in the IDF, he is fighting for me and I am doing Chesed and learning for him.

In fact the Ba’al Haturim says different than Rashi.   The five times it says  בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל represents Kohanim, Levim, Yisroalim, Converts, and Freed Slaves, and then links this to the Pasuk in Jeremiah 2:3:  קֹ֤דֶשׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ לַיהוָ֔ה רֵאשִׁ֖ית תְּבוּאָתֹ֑ה  – Israel was holy to Hashem, The first fruits of His harvest. 

 The Baal Haturim then adds seemingly as way of explanation – ‘.תבואת הּּּ – Hashem’s produce.  I think the Baal Haturim is saying that Hashem is telling the Jewish people we are all God’s product, and  all the Jews have God within us.  Do not be despondent because all of you serve Harshem in every facet of their lives, by being holy and representatives for the entire Jewish people, just like the Kohanim and Levim do their share for the entire Jewish people.

Let us understand what was happening on a deeper level. 

The Jews are watching as their children, their first born, are being stripped of service in the Temple because of the sin of the golden calf.  This is the biggest rebuke.  They lost eternity for their families and their firstborn.  As the Kotzker said, Klal Yisroel was forlorn, depressed – we also want holiness and we lost it.  

Could this result in  long term damage to the Jewish people?  The answer is yes and perhaps it did affect them.   Imagine if the first born retained their status.  There would have been a core group always in Yerushalayim by the Bais Hamikdash.  Throughout  the land when the time came for the first born to go up to Yerushalayim to serve his Mismar, the family and entire city would have escorted the firstborn to the city gates with dancing and singing.  When they came back after serving their week, the firstborn would relate everything that happened during his week  of service.  That would have brought tremendous unity and purpose to all the Jews of Israel.  It would have strengthened the people to be loyal to Hashem.  The Jewsh people lost this, a tremendous blow.

Hashem is reassuring the people, you are one nation, you have a part of the Kohanim and Levim’s service, you have Hashem within you.  The promotion of the Kohanim and Levim is your promotion.  Celebrate.  They will keep the holiness of the Bais Hamikdash for you.

Rabbi Eliyahu Ki Tov brings down a story about Kotzk.  He asked the Kotzker – when my friends go out to their Rebbes, the entire city gives them Kvitlach, they escort the Chassidium on the start of their journey with songs and dancing.  When I go to you, people curse me and I have to go out like a thief in the night.  The Kotzker answered, perhaps this is your Avodas Hashem, in hardship.

This sense of unity is in everything we do.  When I learn or say a Torah thought, I am not only doing it for myself, but for all Jews.  When a boy goes into the IDF, he is serving and protecting  the country for all Jews.  We owe him.  When I work and bring praise to the Jewish people, I am doing it on behalf of all Jewish people.  When a Rosh Yeshiva gives a Shiur and his students listen, they are doing their part for Klal Yisroel.    A farmer produces food  to feed all Jews.   

On Thursday, June 12, 2020, I went to Waldheim cemetery  to be counted as a Minyan for Sidney Glenner’s Bubbe’s Yahrzeit.  I came a little late and could not find the family or the gravesite.   I saw a funeral and went over to attend.  It was for Bernard Judah Matkowsky.  I did not know the family.  The Niftar’s son spoke and talked about his father’s love for Israel. The son served in the IDF and said that on his first night in the IDF the unit sang Moaz Tzur.  The kid cried.  This is a song sung by his family and all Jews everyone, for hundreds of years.   He was able to sing it in Israel, doing a holy service.  His emotions welled up and there were tears streaming down his face. Rabbi Zvi Engel spoke and said Bernie Matkowsky was a mathematician, highly proficient, and published many papers.  The university where he taught gave Bernie upon his retirement a collection of his papers bound in four very thick books.  Bernie had an ancestor , I think the Revash, who had to flee the Cossacks during the 1648 and 1649  Chmelecki massauces.  He barely escaped to Vilna.  Vilna became dangerous and they fled.  They ended up being captured by the Swedes.  He was one of the few that survived the Swedish massacre of 45,000 Jews.  He wrote in his introduction of his Sefer, we escaped the lion only to be captured by the bear.  Rabbi Engel said that Bernie’s sons had the merit to serve in the IDF protecting Israel and not being chased by our enemies.  Bernie is also from the Sh’law

We are all one nation and we compliment each other.

Additional Insight:

Sforno:

לעבוד את עבודת בני ישראל באהל מועד. לעבוד אותה העבודה שהיתה ראויה לבכוריהם:

To perform the very duties which, previously, it had been the duty of the firstborn to perform on behalf of the Children of Israel.

Compare this Sforno to the language used by the Chazkuni:

לעבד את עבדת בני ישראל עבודה שהיתה מוטלת על בני ישראל לעשות.

The Sefrno and Chizkuni say slightly different words.  Seforno – the work of the first borns; Chezkuni – the work of the Jewish people.

The person who translated the Sforno for Sefaria put the two together by saying, “it had been the duty of the firstborn on behalf of the Jews.”

Perhaps there is a difference.  The Chazkuni is saying that the work of the first born that is being transferred to the Levim is really the work of all the Jews, however, not everyone can do it, so first the Behorim did it and now the Levim.  Every Jew has to see that the Bais Hamikdash functions smoothly and the Levim are our representatives.  How do we support it?   The next Sferno answers this 

ולכפר על בני ישראל. בקבלם את המעשרות מישראל כדי שיובלו לעבוד את האל יתברך 

יכפרו על ישראל שגרמו כולם בעגל שאמאס את בכוריהם:

 and to be the instrument of the people’s atonement by their accepting the tithes tendered them by the people so that they would be free to perform the duties G’d has now assigned to them. Hashem had come to despise the firstborn, seeing that they participated also in the sin of the golden calf which had caused Hashem so much grief.

(By us giving to the Levim) and the Levim accepting מעשר, the Levim can focus on their holy job and we are part of it, not only because we gave money, but, the more you give the more you love someone.  We  should feel an emotional attachment to them and their work; and we also have a monetary attachment to the Levim.   When a farmer works his field and knows  that his work will go to support the Levim, we are one.  I admit that the Sforno says that this is an atonement for the Jewish people.  Perhap what is the atonement for the sin of the golden calf is by the Levim accepting the  מעשרות    from the Jewish people.

Toronto Redux – November 7 – 11, Veterans Day Weekend 2019

Shabbos Parshas Lech Lecha

My Bar Mitzvah Parsha – 1966

 

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Monday – November 4, 2019:

Woke up late and ended up davening at Chodorov.  I was rewarded for my tardiness. I realized that the person who was leining also leined 53 year ago at my Bar Mitzvah at Rabbi Isaac Small’s Shul on Lawrence Avenue. It was Rabbi Avrohom – Allen Isenberg who was about 18 years old at the time.  He only shaved once a week as an 18 year old and now his beard is quite fully grown.

Thursday – November 7, 2019:

Left at 10:00 AM driving to Toronto with the wife and two of my son’s, Sholom and Tzvi.  Arrived in Toronto at 10:00 PM.  

Friday – November 8, 2019:

Went to Shul at 8:00 AM Went to Daf Yomi.  Too fast. Afterwards sat down to learn. I met Larry Gladstone.  We talked for about an hour about kids and other matters. Met Avi Janowski, who is in Kollel at the BAYT.  Told him my Torah. I spoke to him for another hour on Sunday and discovered he is a Green Bay Packer fan and knows everything Green Bay.

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In the afternoon I set up shop at the desk and learned Daf Yomi.

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Shabbos – Friday Night November 8, 2019:

Walked with Sholom and Tzvi to Shul.  Got there when they were already starting Maariv.  Introduced Sholom to Rabbi Korobkin.  

Shabbos  meal was great.  It was nice being with my mother in law,. Serka’s great nephew Shimmy ate with us. He learns at Ohr Chaim in Clanton Park.  Nice kid. After the meal I walked him home, stayed there for about an hour talking Torah to Mordy.  I discussed the Kotzker Rebbe with him and corrected his misconceptions about the Kotzker. I had some great egg rolls.

Shabbos morning – Saturday 9, 2019 – What a great Shabbos

Woke up at 4:00 AM  in the morning and learned Chumosh.  I did not have my Mikros Gedolas. I found Chok L’Yisroel from the Zedi, the Holy Jew, Rabbi Yehuda Leibush Noble.  My son, Tzvi Yehuda Leibush, is named after him. What Siattah Dishmaya. I learned from the same Sefer our Zedi learned from and held.

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I focused on Chapter 12, Verse 2:

בוְאֶֽעֶשְׂךָ֙ לְג֣וֹי גָּד֔וֹל וַֽאֲבָ֣רֶכְךָ֔ וַֽאֲגַדְּלָ֖ה שְׁמֶ֑ךָ וֶֽהְיֵ֖ה בְּרָכָֽה:

The beginning of the Verse say I will bless you and the end of the Pasuk says, you will be blessed.  The Chok has a Perush that I have only seen in the old Mikros Gedolas put out by Penimim that can no longer be found.

The bottom Perush asks: why does Chapter 12, Verse 2 say at the end of the Verse repeat that Avrohom should be blessed, when it says it 4 word earlier that he will be blessed?  He answered that when earlier in the verse it says that Avrohom will have a great name and be well known, people with become jealous and cast on him the “evil eye”. The Eiyan Harah will cause Avorhom to lose his wealth, so he needed a blessing that despite people’s jealousy, the “evil eye” will not have any affect on Avrohom.

At about 6:00 AM went back to sleep.  Got up at 7:15 AM and went  to the BAYT for their 7:30 AM Minyan.  Met Idelis who played with the Diaspora Yeshiva Band.  Afterwards when to an hour long Shiur

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Went upstairs to the main Shul to hear the Rabbi’s speech.  Rabbi Korobkin spoke eloquently. After the speech, I finally found Frank Diament.  At my last trip I was Desperately Seeking Frank, and I found him. We schmoozed for over 30 minutes about Jabotinsky, Menachem Begin, Israel, the book The Prime Ministers, CUFI.  He was familiar with all of it. His father was a Beitar (Jabotinsky) member and Frank grew up being a member. I mentioned that Rabbi Shmuel Bowman talked about Christian Evangelicals at BRS about 5 years ago.  Frank mentioned that Rabbi Shmuel Bowman is at the Conservatory visiting his father. I fulfilled the Chazel that says, if you mention a thought in the name of the person who said it, you bring redemption to the world and I was rewarded with the chance of being re-united with Rabbi Shmuel Bowman. My mother in law lives in the building.

It was already 12:30, very late and I walked to Yisroel and Chai’s house to visit Hudi.  She was sleeping. I showed Yisroel the Chok L’Yisroel from his grandfather.  I spoke over all my Torah, especially the Kotzker on Chanoch. I was smoking. It was 30 minutes of Torah discussion.  Got home at 1:30 PM.  Label walked me home.  Had a great Shabbos meal.

Mincha at 4:45 PM.

I asked the two Gabbais if I could speak right after Mincha and right before the regular speaker for two minutes.  Right before I was getting up to speak, one of the Gabbis, with his British accent that gave off a very Yekkish vibe, said that no, I cannot speak.  The other Gabbai said I should be allowed to speak and did. I proceeded to praise Rabbi Shmuel Bowman, mentioned exactly what he said 5 years earlier, how much I was inspired by him, hugged him  and gave Nachas to his father. I felt the entire time the Yekkish Gabbai and other were staring daggers at me.  

The speaker was excellent.  He is a retired professor of Jewish Studies at McGill University in Montreal.

After Davening I walked and rode with Rabbi Bowman with his father to and on the elevator and to the 6th floor.  He lives on the 7th floor with my mother in law on the 6th floor. I found out the Rabbi Bowman is a Sofer STAM and a motivational speaker, besides operating his NGO, Operation Lifeshield.  I asked Rabbi Bowman, what his thoughts were of the Kotzker Rebbe. Rabbi Bowman answers, Ahavas Yisroel, love of fellow Jews. I was astounded and asked him how did you know this.  Most people would not answer that the Kotzker was all about Ahavas Yisroel. Rabbi Bowman told me through Rabbi Shlomo Carlbach.  

Rabbi Bowman lives in Efrat, a few doors down from his good friend, Dovid Willner, my cousin.  Wow.

Saturday Night – November 9, 2019:

Went to a movie at the BAYT – Prosecuting Evil:  The Extraordinary World of Ben Ferencz. After the movie the Rabbi and  Jordanna Leibowitz spoke. She is only 23 and was impressive. She is the granddaughter of Judy and Anshel Leibowitz, good friends and neighbors of my in laws, in Clanton Park.  They had the corner home in the Cul-de-Sac. Jordanna’s father is Shlomie Leibowitz. I also saw the other brother, Hymie, whom I hadn’t seen in over 20 years. He looked the same.  There were over 200 people there.  

https://www.cjnews.com/news/canada/survivors-granddaughter-attended-groening-trial-germany

Sunday – November 10, 2019:

 Davened at the BAYT.  Went to the Hakomas Matzvah for Aunt Ruth Noble-Lister.  Label and Yosef Lister spoke. Miriam Lister-Klein came in. 

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For Dinner went to Dr. Laffa in the Soby shopping center.  Danny Noble form New York and Shimmy Rothman came with us for dinner.

Monday – November 11, 2019:

Left for Chicago at 10:00 AM.  It was snowing and the road snow covered.  It took me 13 hours and 10 minutes, I stopped every hour.

 

Shabbos Parshas Breshis 2019

October 25-26, 2019

  • Another great Shabbos at ASBI.
  • Shabbos Mevorchim Cheshvan
  • Shabbos in Lakeview
  • Carlbach Friday Night Davening
  • Rabbi Wolkenfeld’s Torah
  • Midrash Mordechai on Breishis – Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Morgenstern

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I am excited.  Nothing better than Shabbos in Lakeview.

We are now starting from the Beginning of the Torah,  Sefer Breishis.   The Torah of the Breshis is magnificent.  We get to spend the next two months delving into our origins and our holy forefathers.   This alone is a major Simcha and a reason to celebrate.

The Friday night davening was down in the social hall, was a Carlbach davening,  and was magnificent.  I was greatly inspired.  Sholom davened with me.  Rabbi Wolkenfeld spoke out the Malbim at the beginning of Breishis.  Rabbi Wolkenfeld listed the multiple questions of the Malbim on the first Passuk.  Each letter and word had an anomaly and the Malbim asked about 10 questions.  Rabbi Wolkenfeld said that my purpose now is not to say the answers, but to show how much one can ask and learn from every Passuk in the Torah. 1.    He read the Malbim’s opening questions on the first verses of Bereshit and made the point that every act of translation is itself an act of interpretation and that there was no way to derive even a simple Pshat understanding of any Pasuk without engaging in significant questions about the very meaning of words. Is “Bereishit” in construct form (Rashi) or not (Rambam…and King James)?

Went to Tzvi and Sholom’s apartment for the Shabbos meal.  Serka prepared a great meal.  Eli ate with us.

Shabbos Morning:

Got up at 4:00 AM, learned until 5:15 AM, slept until 7:15 AM.  Finished the Parsha.  Went to Daven at the Hashkamah Minyan, had the third Aliya.  Falk davened nicely.  Great Cholent.  Brought the Diet Faygo pop.  Faygo was started by two brothers with the last name Feginson out of Detroit .   Went to the main sanctuary.   Sat in the Shul to listen to Rabbi Wolkenfeld.     He shared his wife’s observation that we read the beginning of the Torah having just completed it and we read the end of the Torah just moments before starting it again. So, even though these chapters are far apart, they are still linked very closely. Moshe is invited to “see” Eretz Yisrael before he dies and how good it is. That isn’t a cruel tease, but an echo to the opening actions of God in Sefer Bereishit who “sees” the new creations and how good they are.   Rabbi Wolkenfeld introduced this by saying that Moshe’s death appears to be depressing and he answered it with his wife’s thought.  Rabbi Wolkenfeld said for years he thought the death of Moshe was unfair and depressing.   Zipporah asked at our Simchas Torah table and I tried to answer it.  However, Rabbi Wolkenfeld and his wife gave the answer a beautiful thought.  Rabbi Wolkenfeld spoke nicely about the Pittsburgh massacre.  Went to the Kiddush and saw Eli.

I gave a large portion of the Dr. Leonard Kranzler memorial Parshah Shiur. My Torah starts at the next page.

The Shiur was over at 2:30 PM after we learned from Sefer Yehoshua.  Tzvi came by and sat in the Shiur.  Tzvi is great.  Orson Welles’s name came up and Tzvi knew about Citizen Kane  and his other great movie, The Magnificent Ambersons.   It was raining all day.  I sat and walked in Shul with Tzvi.

Davened Mincha, learned some Daf Yomi, Davened Maariv, and went home.

Vort #1:

I read the first Kotzker Vort in the Sefer Ohel Torah.  The Sefer is called Ohel Torah because the numerical value of Ohel Torah is the same as Rabbinu Menachem Mendel Z”L.

I  had to read the Vort four times until its brilliance emerged.   Rabbi Wolkenfeld helped in my understanding.  I had these thoughts for a number of years, however, Rabbi Wolkenfeld gave it form and expression.   Source (Ramasaim Zophim 20A)

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Translation:

The Midrash Tanchuma states – This is what the Torah means when it says in Mishlei 3:19 – “God with wisdom founded the earth”.  That is when Hashem was about to create the world, He consulted the Torah and then created the world, as it says in Mishlei 8:14:  Council and wisdom is mine , I am understanding  and, power is mine.  How was the Torah written?  It was written with letters of black fire on a surface of white fire as it says in Shir HaShirim 5:11 –   34 This means that each crowned stroke on the letters of the Torah contains heaps and heaps of law.  This is the language of the Midrash Tanchuma.

The Gemoro in Menachos 29B brings down the statement of Rabbi Yehuda in the name of Rav that when Moshe ascended the heavens, Moshe found God tying crowns to the letters of the Torah.  He said, God, who is preventing you form giving the Torah as it, without the adornments.  God responds – there is one man at the end of many generation and Akiva Ben Yosef is his name that in the future will expound of even crown and crown heaps and heaps of law . . .

The Kotzker continues – with these ideas we can understand the words of our teacher, the Rebi, Reb Bunim of Pershischa, TZL who said, “that they learn with him the letters”.   This is to be understood like we said  that Rabbi Akiva learned many laws from the crowns of Torah, how much more so from every letter there is great amount to expound.  Every letter has within it many letters, Milui and Milui of Melium, and the forms of each letter.  The Rebi, Reb Bunim continued “that he learned from the heavens,”, like the Gemoro says that this learning can only be learnt from the heavens.

The end means that the Torah is so great infused with almost infinity of laws and explanations, put into the Torah by God himself to be learnt and expounded, uncovered by man.  Perhaps the Rebi  is referring to learning with an angel, but I think he is also saying that we can uncover this heavenly Torah but it is hard coded in the words of the Torah.  If I may add that once the Kotzker explained the actions and once the Rebi Reb Bunim learned Torah form the heavens. He bought it down to us and once it was exposed to our world we can learn the same Torah.

Vort #2:

Chanoch walked with God then he was no more, for God took him.  Rashi explains that Chanoch was a righteous mans, but his mind was easily induced to turn form his righteous ways and to become wicked,  God therefore took him away quickly and made him die before his full time . . .

It appears to be very difficult to anyone who reads this Rashi.   Is it possible to say about Chanoch who was “Mitatat”, the official of the inner sanctum of God,  that he was heaven forbid easily influenced to do  evil.

It seems that the explanation is just the opposite – it  was easy for Chanoch to speak to the heart of a sinner to leave his path of wickedness.  God was therefore afraid through Chanoch that free choice (in the world) would be gone;  therefore He hastened to remove Chanoch from this world before his time.   Meaning Chanoch was a super Lubavitcher Rebbe.  (Source Lekutai Magadim, Volume 1 (Page 11A).

Wow.  The Kotzker turns Rashi 180 degrees and says that Rashi is talking in praise of Chanoch.

A few years ago Rabbi Pilchik told  me the above Vort  and said the below follow-up in the name of an anonymous Rebi.  Rabbi Ephraim Twerski confirmed the Vort and after math and told me that it was his  Zedi, the Dizikor Rebbe.

  • The follow-up – The night after saying the Vort the Dzikov Rebbe had a dream where Rashi appeared to the Dizikor Rebbe and thanked him for the explanation. Rashi told him that when Rashi saw Chanoch in the next world, they did not look at each other because Rashi disparaged Chanoch.  Now that you explained what I said regarding Chanoch positively we are friendly.   After they told me this Vort, I found the Vort in this Sefer and also in the name of the Kotzker’s son, Admor Dovid Morgenstern TZL (1809-1873), and was ecstatic.  The Kotzker lived from 1787-1859.

2019 addition – perhaps both interpretations in Rashi can be true at the same time.  The more a Tzadik and people are out in the world interacting with people, the more he can be susceptible to be negatively influenced by the people and society he is trying to help, especially if they are speaking to the inner Neshmah of that person.  Perhaps you can say similar to what  happened to Rabbi Shlomo Carlbach and this is why Reb Shlomo Carlebach’s music is greater than ever, because it came from a holy place.

This Maamer lends an important insight into the Kotzker.  He was always looking to find the positive and good in everyone and everything.  I have found that this mindset influences the writings, ideas, and thought of his descendants.

Third Vort:

This is from my great-Uncle, Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Morgenstern.  He took over after the death of his father, the Pilaver Rebbe.  Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Morgenstern was the fourth generation Kotzker and I am the seventh.  Beautiful.

 

Shabbos Parshas Pinchos 2019

July 28, 2019

  • Shabbos Mevorchim AV
  • Shabbos in Lakeview
  • Carlebach Friday Night Davening
  • Kotzker Vort: Moshe prayed that God not appoint Pinchos as leader
  • The Ahavas Shaul said the opposite of the Kotzker, that Moshe prayed that God should appoint Pinchos as leader
  • Sunday Morning Bike the Eruv

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Another great Shabbos at ASBI.

Friday Night:

Friday night a newly married kid with the last name of Falk davened who was excellent. Very inspirational. Rabbi Wolkenfeld davened with much fervor. Rabbi Wolkenfeld spoke and mentioned the Kotzker on this week’s Parsha. On Chapter 27, Verse 16 Moshe requests of God that “God of Spirits of all flesh” appoint a leader for the Jewish people. Rashi comments that the reason why Moshe described God as the “God of Spirits of all flesh” is that Moshe wants God to appoint a leader who understands people and has patience.

The Kotzker said the Moshe was afraid that God was going to appoint Pinchos as the leader of the Jewish people, who Moshe did not want him because Pinchos was a “Kap’dan”, a strict and impatient person. That is why Moshe described God as the God of all spirits, as Rashi interpreted that God knows the spirit, the inner thoughts and proclivities of every individual.

Rabbi Wolkenfeld mentioned that this strictness played out years later in the incident of P’lagish B’Givyah, where almost the entire tribe of Binyamin was wiped out. Pinchos, as Cohen Gadol, told the people fight the tribe of Binyamin and did not try to bring peace. This may be somewhat problematic because the Urim V’Tumim said to go fight the tribe of Binyamin and you will be victorious. However, perhaps the proper approach should have been for Pinchos to arbitrate and avoid war. Pinchos also did not go to Yiftach to annul his Vow. As we know God responded to Moshe that it will not be Pinchos or Moshe’s sons, but Yehoshua.

Rabbi Wolkenfeld did not see the Kotzker Vort inside, so I showed him the Kotzker in Ohel Torah, page 55. I pick up this Sefer about once every 3 months. I happened to pass it by on Friday and took it with me. What Siattah Dishmaya that Rabbi Wolkenfeld said the Kotzker Vort and I had the Sefer.

The editor of the Ohel Torah added an explanation as to how the Kotzker understood this Verse to mean that Moshe did not want Pinchos to replace him. The Kotzker had two questions:

1) Who asked Moshe to give advice to God? On this to Kotzker answers that, once Moshe was told that he will not enter the land, Moshe was afraid that Pinchos, the Kap’dan, would be appointed.

2) Why did Moshe use the term, “אֱלֹהֵ֥י הָֽרוּחֹ֖ת“ – “the God of all Spirits”, to describe God?Because, as Rashi says, this phrase refers to God as knowing the inner thoughts, strengths and weaknesses of man. Moshe is requesting that God appoint a patient and understanding individual as leader, and per the Kotzker this could only be referring to not wanting Pinchos to be his successor. Rashi did say that Moshe wanted his son. I believe the Kotzker is saying, if so, Moshe did not have to say  “God of all Spirits.”

The editor of the Ohel Torah adds: why did Moshe think that God would appoint Pinchos? He answers, Pinchos was willing to die to save the Jewish people and this self-sacrifice is the province of Jewish leadership. Pinchos entered the tent of Zimri where Zimri’s family and friends would in all likelihood kill Pinchos. This Mesiras Nefesh made Pinchos potentially the successor to Moshe.

Comes along Rabbi Shaul Yedidya Shochet in his Sefer Ahavas Shaul, printed in 1916, pages 116 -119, and says the opposite of the Kotzker.  Moshe actually was praying that Pinchos be appointed the leader and that is why he used the language of “the God of the Spirits”. Pinchos should be leader for three reason.

1) Pinchos was the grandson of Aaron. Aaron must have taught his son Eliezer, who in turn taught Pinchos, to be a lover of peace, being compassionate and empathetic;

2) Pinchos was the recipient of 12 miracles. The Sefrei counts the 11th miracle that Zimri did not die when impaled, so as not to make Pinchos impure – Tamah. This was a holy act and should not be tainted with ritual impurity. This is the reference to God being “the God of Spirits” that Zimri was kept alive so that this noble deed should not be tainted with impurity.

3) Moshe also saw the Pinchos received a covenant of peace from God, so the Jewish people not hate him for this deed.

God responded that it has to be Yehoshua. Although Pinchos is not now a Kap’dan, he will in the future be stubborn. The Ahavas Shaul mentions a Gemara in Sanhedrin 110 with Achav and Eliyahu. He does not mention P’lagish B’Givah or Yiftach.


Went to my son’s house and had a delicious meal that my wife prepared.

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Shabbos Morning

Got to Shul at 8:05 AM. More great Chazzanus from Falk. At davening I sat next to Dr. Steve’s son-in-law, Mateo. I crashed Mateo and Ilana’s wedding three years earlier, refer to the blog post of Labor day weekend 2016. Tasty Cholent at the Kiddush. Went upstairs to Schmooze. I saw the Falk kid. He is not an Einikel – grandson – of the Pnei Yehoshua, Rabbi Yaakov Yehoshua Falk , 1680 – January 16, 1756. Falk told me that the Pnei Yehoshua was a Levy and he is not a Levy. He just got married two weeks ago and I wished him Mazel Tov. He got married in Teaneck at Roemers, which is the number one, YU wedding hall. Falk’s cousin is dating Dr. Steve’s third daughter. I told Falk that his cousin is dating a great family, that they are full of Chesed, and that his cousin should pop the question ASAP. On Sunday I was talking to my nephew, Nathanel, form New York. I happen to mention Falk and Borzak. Nathanel tells me that Falk’s cousin is Nathanel’s best friend. Wow.

Walked into Shul for Rabbi Wolkenfeld’s speech. As always a very good speech. Tzvi came in to listen to the speech. Afterwards walked around with Tzvi waiting for the Kiddush. Eli was at the Kiddush.

Took two bagels and went to Dr. Leonard Kranzler’s (Z’L) Chumash Shiur. Dr. Leonard Kranzler passed away the previous Sunday and his funeral was on Tuesday, the 24th. I went to the cemetery with Stern to honor Dr. Kranzler Z”L and his Chumash Shiur. Dr. Kranzler Z”L started the Shiur over 20 years ago and took great delight in learning and teaching Torah. We talked about the greatness of Dr. Kranzler and how do we honor him going forward.

Paul is the leader of the Shiur. I explained the verses of Moshe asking God to appoint a new leader, Chapter 27 – Verses 15 to 18 based on Rashi.

טווַיְדַבֵּ֣ר משֶׁ֔ה אֶל־יְהֹוָ֖ה לֵאמֹֽר:

טזיִפְקֹ֣ד יְהֹוָ֔ה אֱלֹהֵ֥י הָֽרוּחֹ֖ת לְכָל־בָּשָׂ֑ר אִ֖ישׁ עַל־הָֽעֵדָֽה:

יזאֲשֶׁר־יֵצֵ֣א לִפְנֵיהֶ֗ם וַֽאֲשֶׁ֤ר יָבֹא֙ לִפְנֵיהֶ֔ם וַֽאֲשֶׁ֥ר יֽוֹצִיאֵ֖ם וַֽאֲשֶׁ֣ר יְבִיאֵ֑ם וְלֹ֤א תִֽהְיֶה֙ עֲדַ֣ת יְהֹוָ֔ה כַּצֹּ֕אן אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֵֽין־לָהֶ֖ם רֹעֶֽה:

יחוַיֹּ֨אמֶר יְהֹוָ֜ה אֶל־משֶׁ֗ה קַח־לְךָ֙ אֶת־יְהוֹשֻׁ֣עַ בִּן־נ֔וּן אִ֖ישׁ אֲשֶׁר־ר֣וּחַ בּ֑וֹ וְסָֽמַכְתָּ֥ אֶת־יָֽדְךָ֖ עָלָֽיו:

Questions and comments in Shiur that we discussed:

Rashi on Verse 15 says that this verse comes to let us know the virtues of the righteous, for when that are about to depart from the world, they disregard their own needs and occupy themselves with the needs of the community.

However, Rashi in verse to 16 brings down a Tanchuma who says that when Moshe heard that the Omnipresent told him to give Zelophehad’s inheritance to his daughters, he said, “It is time to ask for my own needs-that my son should inherit my high position.

This seems to contradict the first Rashi. Rashi uses very strong language. Not that God should consider taking my son, but it is time to ask for my needs, and that this seems to be motivating Moshe’s request. Obviously this cannot be said.

Yehoshua is selected. Yehoshua did have military experience, but he was not selected for military prowess. He was selected for two reason.

1) He was a man with patience and understanding

2) because he deserves to be rewarded for his service, for he “would not depart from the tent” Exodus 33:11. This is what Solomon meant when he said in Mishlei 27:18, “He who guards the fig tree eats its fruit”.

These are three important ingredients in being a leader. One who is compassionate, fair and just; and two – someone who watched the previous leader and learned how to lead. This is called in Hebrew “Simush”. Not just someone who was a battlefield warrior. Yehoshua was the one to assume leadership. 3) Toughness. What about toughness? Shaul was not tough enough and he lost his kingship. This can be answered that Yehoshua stood up to the 10 spies. I would compare Abraham Lincoln to Yehoshua. Abraham Lincoln was compassionate, saw the righteousness of his cause, was in communication with his Generals giving military advice, and above all understood what was needed to heal the country from the devastating Civil War. Abraham Lincoln had a photograph above his desk of a prisoner of war who was skin and bones, must have been under 100 pounds. The POW looked like a Holocaust Survivor.

Shiur over at 2:45. Tzvi came to pick me up and walked to his place. I sleep with a favorite pillow and this whole time I was walking with my pillow. I took a walk with Sholem to Wrigley Field, sans pillow. The Cubs were out of town, but it was very active. Took a nap at the kids’ apartment and went back to the Shul for Rabbi Wolkenfeld’s Pircai Avos class.

I have always dreamed of living in Lakeview and now that my kids live their I get to partially live my dream.

Sunday, July 27, 2019:

Davened at Anshe Sholom. After davening I was part of the group that biked the Eruv with Rabbi David Wolkenfeld.

Learned with my Chavrusa at Noon for 1 hour. I was so tired that I had no clue what I was learning. Rabbi Ben Sugerman to the rescue. The next day I listened to his Shiur on the Gemara and he opened up my eyes. I want to be Rabbi Ben Sugerman.

Parshas Pinchos Shabbos ASBI Bulletin

Ahavas Shaul – Pinchos

In Loving Memory

 

Shabbos Parshas Bechukosi: June 1, 2019 – 27 Iyar 5779

How do I communicate the joy of this Shabbos, so the reader feels my joy.

Highlights:

  • Staying in Lakeview for Shabbos
  • Friday night Carlebach Davening at ASBI
  • Sholom davening with me Friday night
  • Inviting a guest for our Friday night meal
  • Eating by my kids on Shabbos
  • Having great Friday night conversation with our guest
  • Walking our guest partially home
  • Davening at the Hashkamah minyan and having Cholent at the Kiddush
  • Discovering my Chiddush in the Ahavas Shaul
  • Listening to the Rabbi’s Drasha (speech at end of this post)
  • Giving the Chumash Shiur at 12:30 – great Shiur
  • Listening to Professor Ruth Lander giving a class on the origins of the Siddur

Friday Night – May 31, 2019:

I decided to stay in Lakeview for Shabbos by my sons, Sholom and Tzvi. This Shabbos is Shabbos Mivorchim Sivan and ASBI has a Carlebach Shabbos Friday night service. I arrived at the Shul a little late with Sholom. The davening was magnificent. Rabbinit Sarna spoke and afterwards I told her it was the best Torah I heard from her.

I walked out of Shul after davening and saw Danielle sitting outside the Shul. I understood that she needed a meal. Although I was staying at my sons’ house, I invited her. It was a great meal. Danielle writes movie reviews, interviews directors and other movie personalities to various film festivals, such as Toronto, Cannes, etc. She talked about her experiences. Look her up at solzyatthemovies.com. Tzvi also loves movies. I brought cold cuts and salad. We had plenty to go around. After the meal we walked her halfway home. It was a beautiful evening. Danielle had no invitations for Friday night and she appreciated a meal and the company.

Shabbos Morning – June 1, 2019:

Arrived at ASBI at 7:55 AM and davened at the Hashkama minyan which started at 8:00 AM. I received an Aliyah. They served tasty Cholent at the Kiddush.

Went upstairs and learned from Rabbi Shaul Yedidya Shochet’s Sefer Ahavas Sholem with Binyamin Cohen. He helped me understand the Torah. I joyously discovered that I had the merit to be M’Chavin to his Torah and added to it. Went into the main Shul to hear Rabbi Wolkenfeld’s Shabbos Drasha. Excellent speech.

After Davening I went to the Kiddush. Sholom came and we talked.

I gave the 12:30 PM Chumash Shiur and read the Torah of Rabbi Shaul Yedidya Shochet on Bechukosi. I also gave historical background using the attached three pages from the book Jews of Chicago, written by Irving Cutler. I also discussed the Haskomos in the Sefer from the Ridvaz, Rabbi Yaakov Dovid Wilovsky written in 1902 and from Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook written in 1903 when he was still Rabbi in Boisk, before he made Aliyah.

The following is the Torah I said from Ahavas Sholem, page 76 and 77 – on Parshas Bechukosi: Comments in brackets are what I added.

Chapter 26, Verse 6:

ווְנָֽתַתִּ֤י שָׁלוֹם֙ בָּאָ֔רֶץ וּשְׁכַבְתֶּ֖ם וְאֵ֣ין מַֽחֲרִ֑יד וְהִשְׁבַּתִּ֞י חַיָּ֤ה רָעָה֙ מִן־הָאָ֔רֶץ וְחֶ֖רֶב לֹא־תַֽעֲבֹ֥ר בְּאַרְצְכֶֽם:

“And I will grant Peace in the Land, and you will lie down with no one to frighten you; I will remove wild beats from the Land , and no army will pass through the land.”

The explanation is that through the merit of learning our holy Torah, we will be protected from baseless hatred among us Jews, there will be actual peace among us. Because Torah scholars increase peace in the world. Therefore, even when you sleep, you will have nothing to fear. (This is what the Ibn Ezra says using one word on ווְנָֽתַתִּ֤י שָׁלוֹם֙ בָּאָ֔רֶץ – “Benachim” – Among Yourselves.)

The Torah continues “ and I will drive out wild beasts from the land”. This means that God will remove wild beasts from the land of Israel and it does not mean that he will destroy them completely.

The Ahavas Yisroel spends the better part of page 76 on this – that the wild beasts will be moved out of Israel and into surrounding lands.

The Ahavas Yisroel concludes beautifully on the top of page 77 as follows:

“It comes out from everything I have laid out that when the Jews are dedicated to Torah for its own sake, even inanimate objects sprout and produces. Nothing natural stands in our way. In addition, Hashem Yisborach promises us that he will give peace amount us.

The problem is this:

The Gemara in Brcohos 33 states that everything is in the hands of God, except for fear of heaven. Free choice is up to man and the greatest sin is Machlokes – bitter disagreement and separation of hearts. This was borne out by the second temple, that just because you have Torah, you may not have fear of heaven. The second temple, despite being full of Torah, was destroyed because of internal fighting. Their Torah was “Sh’lo Leshmah” not for the sake of heaven.

Although we find there is value in learning Torah “Sh’lo Leshmah” – not for the sake of heaven. As we find in Pesachim 50B that people should learn “Sh’lo Leshmah” because learning not for the sake of heaven leads to learning for the sake of heaven. However, when you are still learning Sh’lo Lishmah, not for the sake of heaven, and have not yet arrived to Leshmah, there will be Machlokes – bitter disagreement.

However, a person who is able take his Torah to a level of אִם־בְּחֻקֹּתַ֖י תֵּלֵ֑כו and learns Torah Leshmah – for its own sake and watches the commandments to keep them will bring peace in the world.

How do we understand the Gemoro Kedushim 30B:`

What is the meaning of the phrase “enemies in the gate” with regard to Torah study? Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba says: Even a father and his son, or a rabbi and his student, who are engaged in Torah together in one gate become enemies with each other due to the intensity of their studies. But they do not leave there until they love each other,”

That even a father -son, teacher-student that learns Torah together start out as enemies. Since בְּחֻקֹּתַ֖י תֵּלֵ֑כוּ refers to learning our holy Torah, it would seem that disagreements will spread among the Jews, but in truth the Gemara concludes that they do not leave there until they love each other. Therefore, through learning Torah, I will give peace among the Torah scholars and not only will there be peace among them but there will be peace in the land.  Meaning, there will be no war, enabling the people to lie down and not be afraid, not from war and not from hatred between men.

What the Ahavas Shaul is saying that learning Torah Leshmah brings peace. Is the peace on a metaphysical level or on a practical level? About ten years ago I said based on the Rashi quoted above on Chapter 26, Verse 3 that Im Bechukosi Talachu means that if you learn intensely then God will provide plenty for the Jews in Israel. Then, as the Ibn Ezra says on Chapter 26, Verse 6 on the words וְנָֽתַתִּ֤י שָׁלוֹם֙ בָּאָ֔רֶץ, I will give peace Among Yourselves”. What the Ahavas Shaul is saying is based on this Ibn Ezra that if there is true learning Torah intensely then there will be peace. How does this work?

The answer is that we all have our own understanding Torah. I will understand Torah using my abilities different than others. It may be subtle or major. If a Rosh Yeshiva says an explanation, I can disagree with it and we can both be correct, or I alone can be correct. Through going through the battle of Torah which is Truth, we will develop mutual respect and love for one another and this will bring Peace in Klal Yisroel. Meaning, if the Rosh Yeshiva in Ponovich gave Shiur at Atareth Cohanim in the old city and all the students wore knit Yarmulkes, the love between them will be intertwined.

People arguing and fighting over ideology, Hashkafah, how to dress, will not lead to mutual respect but bitter fights. Learning Torah intensely and arguing over Torah leads to love and respect. 45 years ago my study partner, Harold Katz. said that after Purim in Israel, no one learns. I said at the time, wouldn’t it be great if after Purim all the Rosh Yeshivas have to say Shiur in other Yeshivas. The Rosh Yeshiva of Mir say a Shiur in the Gush, the Rosh Yeshiva of Gush in Ponovich, the Rosh Yeshiva of Ponovich in Bar Ilan University Imagine the Ahavas Yisroel that would have been created over the last 30 years that Klal Yisroel has lost.

There is a story of the Chidusshi Harim and the Lissa Rov on my website that illustrates this point.

Rabbi David Wolkenfeld
ASBI Congregation
Behukotai 5779

Safety in Numbers
Some of you may know that I went to a specialized math and science high school. I don’t often draw upon that element of my education but I do want to work through an arithmetic problem with you all this morning.
Five is to one hundred, as one hundred is to….
Well…five times twenty is one hundred, and so one hundred times twenty is two thousand.
But the opening verses of our Torah portion this week present a different sort of mathematics:
וְרָדְפ֨וּ מִכֶּ֤ם חֲמִשָּׁה֙ מֵאָ֔ה וּמֵאָ֥ה מִכֶּ֖ם רְבָבָ֣ה יִרְדֹּ֑פוּ וְנָפְל֧וּ אֹיְבֵיכֶ֛ם לִפְנֵיכֶ֖ם לֶחָֽרֶב׃
“Five of you shall give chase to a hundred, and a hundred of you shall give chase to ten thousand” Five victorious Israelites can pursue one hundred adversaries, and one hundred victorious Israelites, blessed with Divine favor can pursue ten thousand adversaries. This is not a linear progression, this is an accelerating growth curve. How can we understand or explain this mathematical progression?

Rashi explains:
אֵינוֹ דּוֹמֶה מֻעֲטִין הָעוֹשִׂים אֶת הַתּוֹרָה לִמְרֻבִּין הָעוֹשִׂין אֶת הַתּוֹרָה
“A small number who follow the Torah cannot be compared through a simple comparison to a large number of people who follow the Torah.”

The verse illustrates the power of a community coming together. When we join together we become force magnifiers for one another other. A friend can offer a hug or a shoulder to cry on – but a community can fill a shivah home with visitors offering condolence and can provide a minyan for kaddish. A brother or sister can slap you on the back with joy when hearing your good news, but that cannot replace being surrounded by a community dancing at a wedding or a bar mitzvah or at some other simcha.
אֵינוֹ דּוֹמֶה מֻעֲטִין הָעוֹשִׂים אֶת הַתּוֹרָה לִמְרֻבִּין הָעוֹשִׂין אֶת הַתּוֹרָה
“A small number who follow the Torah cannot be compared through a simple comparison to a large number of people who follow the Torah.”

The context of the mathematical dynamic in our parsha, however, relates to self-defense and confronting our enemies. Everyone understands there is safety in numbers, two are stronger than one, but not as strong as three, which in turn, is not as strong a four. Even Kohelet, in its most cynical and world-weary mood tells us that two are stronger than one and three is stronger than two. It doesn’t get more simple that that. Or does it? The Torah is saying something different in this week’s parasha. The Torah’s numbers demonstrate that the
safety in numbers multiplies at a faster rate than do our numbers. When just a few more of us stand together, we become so much safer and can confront our adversaries in a much more effective way.

I thought about this dynamic a lot this week. I traveled to Springfield this Wednesday with the Orthodox Union to speak to legislators on behalf of an initiative to secure state funding for security enhancements for communities that are at threat of being victimized by hate crimes. Rabbi Yehiel Kalish, a new State Representative from the Northern suburbs is one of the co-sponsors of this initiative and he welcomed our delegation from the statehouse floor and then called, one by one, each of our representatives to come off the statehouse floor to speak with us. When you are introduced as “the rabbi of the synagogue that was firebombed two weeks ago” people pay attention and listen. But standing side by side with a Baptist pastor from the South Side and a Syrian priest, a Muslim cleric, a Sikh scholar, and a Hindu communal leader gave each one of us added weight and authenticity to speak. That too is a form of safety in numbers. The coalition of men and women of good will from various faiths and diverse ethnic backgrounds, who all recognize that none of us are safe so long as all of us are not safe, is a force multiplier just as the Torah describes.

Another story from earlier this week brought home that same message. In response to a worrisome rise in antisemitism in Germany, the government’s own commissioner responsible for combating antisemitism, Felix Klein, announced that Jews should take responsibility for their safety by refraining from wearing a kippah or other outward identification marker as Jews. “I cannot advise Jews to wear the kippah everywhere all the time in Germany.” he said. Indeed, the common practice, of many observant Orthodox Jews in Italy and France and elsewhere is in line with these recommendations. I have vivid memories of visiting Paris almost 15 years ago and seeing not one single outwardly identifiable Jew on a street with four kosher restaurants. (Sara and I went incognito; I wore a wool newspaper-boy cap and Sara wore a bright blue tichel; we fit right in). But the story in Germany, at least this week, took a different turn. One German tabloid newspaper printed a cut-out kippah on their front page and encouraged their readers to cut it out and somehow wear it proudly in solidarity with Germany’s Jewish community. (I’m imagining something akin to those cardboard kippot they give out at the kotel). Julian Reichelt, the newspaper’s editor, wrote, “”If even one person in our country cannot wear the kippah without putting themselves in danger, then the only answer must be that we all wear the kippah. The kippah belongs to Germany!”

There is safety in numbers. These two examples are the safety in numbers that are available to us when non-Jewish allies step forward and stand beside us, whether they are Germans committed to combating antisemitism or our own neighbors in Chicago. But what about our own numbers? Three people, all strangers whose names I do not know, approached me on the street in the past two weeks and said, “I think I recognize you from television.” I have to admit that in none of my previous delusions of grandeur (and I have many delusions of grandeur) have I ever imagined that someone would say those words to me. These three individuals spoke to me to offer their solidarity and support for our community. And, indeed, nearly 100% of the interactions I have had with strangers on the street in Chicago because I wear a kippah in the nearly six years that I have lived here have been positive (including the random joggers and bikers and passers-by who routinely wish my family Shabbat Shalom as they swoosh past on Shabbat afternoons).

But, the reluctance of many European Jews to be visible in public as Jews stems from an anxiety I sometimes feel too. A close friend of my father’s once characterized their differences by saying, “I am American Jew and could not believe anything bad could happen; he was a European Jew and knew that it had.” And each of us need to balance the American Jewish optimism with the sober awareness of the nature of Jewish history and an awareness of the darker potentials of the Jewish present. But, I want to encourage you to think about what you might gain through a more public expression of your Jewish identity and your Jewish commitments. The earliest references in the Talmud to Jews covering our heads as a form of religious devotion occurs in the context of a discussion of an apparent obligation of married women to have some form of head covering whenever they are in public. Later in the Talmud, there is evidence of some very pious, but not all men, covering their heads as well.

Rabbi Nahman bar Yitzhak’s mother, according to a Talmudic legend, was told by a Chaldean astrologer that her son would grow up to be a thief. To prevent this from happening she ensured that his head was always
covered. She raised him to keep his head covered and to, “cover your head so that the fear of Heaven will be upon you.” He had no idea why she said this. Until one day, sitting under a fruit tree that did not belong to him, a gust of wind uncovered his head, and overcome by desire, he reached up and plucked fruit that was not his to take. Somehow his head covering had kept him from theft all those years.

The head covering of women, the head covering of pious men, the head covering that prevents theft, are perhaps all motivated by the same ethos of cultivating an awareness that one stands in the presence of God. All of these forms of head coverings could be our way to echo the head coverings worn as part of the
uniform by the kohanim as they served in the beit ha’mikdash . Indeed, all of the rabbinic restrictions on heating food on Shabbat, (such as shehiyah and hazzarah) are motivated by a fear that we will forget it is Shabbat and stoke embers into a fire on Shabbat to speed up the warming of our food. But in the beit hamikdash there were no rabbinic restrictions on heating food on Shabbat because the kohanim would remind one another to be aware of God and the sanctity of Shabbat.

We too are enlisted in the service of God no less than the kohanim. I am very lucky that I work for the Jewish community and it is considered quite appropriate for me to embrace this Jewish practice even where I work. I understand that it might not be considered professionally appropriate to wear an identifiably Jewish head covering or even a Jewish necklace at the courthouse or hospital or factory or school where you work. But I do know that when we are not at work, we have more freedom to express ourselves and embrace parts of our identities and religious practices that we might keep more hidden when we are on the job.

I also know that the more of us who make the choice to display our Judaism in an outward way in the supermarket or on the playground, the more comfortable it will be for each one of us to do so. Years ago, when Noam was three years old, we drove from Princeton into Manhattan to attend the Salute to Israel Parade. We parked our car near my mother’s apartment and began the walk through Central Park towards the parade route on Fifth Avenue. As I pushed Noam’s stroller through the park, he saw another Jewish man headed for the parade and called out while pointing, “there’s a Jew!” And then two minutes later, as we saw someone else headed for the parade, he called out again, “I see another Jew!” Fortunately, the novelty of seeing other Jews on the street wore off before we reached the parade and its tens of thousands of marchers.

Let us find ways to recognize the presence of God above us always, whether we are at work or in the supermarket or in the park. And let us support one another, each one of us on his and her unique path of growth in Torah and mitzvot. In this way, may we merit the blessings of this morning’s Torah portion:

וְנָתַתִּ֤י שָׁלוֹם֙ בָּאָ֔רֶץ וּשְׁכַבְתֶּ֖ם וְאֵ֣ין מַחֲִר֑יד

“I will grant peace in the land, and you shall lie down untroubled by anyone.”
Through coming together, within our community, and with allies on the outside, may we recognize that it is God’s own blessing that entails:
אֶתְכֶ֖ם קֽוֹמְמִיּֽוּת׃ 􀋂 וָאוֹלֵ֥

“It is I,” God says, “who cause you to walk upright.”
(We have found that internal strife brings destruction in Klal Yisroel. The most famous is during the destruction of the second temple, when the Romans were at the gates of Jerusalem, there was civil war within the city or when the city supply of food and fuel were destroyed. The other example was in the late 1700s when a Misnaged went to the authorities to libel the Ba’al Hatanya thinking he was doing a virtuous act, endorsed by the Torah scholars.)

Speech on the Second Day of Shavous – June 10th, 2019

I said the following speech at N’elas HaChag Shevous 2019. The Sefer, Siach Sarfei Koddush, Volume 1, page 235 (Bnei Brak 1989) brings down the following Kotzker Vort on Shevous.

1

In his second explanation, the Kotzker explains that we say that Shevous is Zman Matan Torasnu  (the day of giving the Torah), and not Zman Kabblas Torsanu (the day of receiving the Torah), because God gave one Torah equally to everyone. But the receiving of the Torah was not equal. It was received differently by each person based on that individual’s level of understanding, his references in life, and his background.

What is the deep meaning of the Kotzker’s Vort? The Kotzker is saying what Rabbi Shochet said, and Boruch Hashem, I explained. There is only one Torah that is understood differently by everyone – similar to a diamond that shines differently based on where you are standing. The Kotzker is saying that every Jew’s understanding is directly connected back to the truth of Torah, one Torah. The Torah has threads that lead outwards into millions of explanations. Knowing this idea and understanding this not only intellectual, but also in your gut, brings internal peace to Israel, because everyone is part of the Emes – Truth of Torah. This is the message of Shavous, as Rashi says that at Har Sinai: the Jewish people camped around the mountain of Sinai like one man with one heart.

As I have said above, Hashkafah, way to live life, and theology are all debatable and there are tremendous fights. Arguing these points leads to bitter disagreement and fighting among Jews Only recognizing their own truth of the Torah when it is just part of the truth.  Whether the Torah is from Har Etzion, Ger, Mir, Aterat Cohanim, the Torah is all Emes.

The most recent time I was in Israel  was in 2015.  I was on a bus headed back to Jerusalem from Ranana. A teenage boy, about 17, was sitting near me and I engaged him in conversation. He was wearing dungarees, a T-Shirt, and running shoes. He was wearing the uniform of Jewish youngsters in Israel: his Tzitzits were out. His parents are from England and we talked. He told me that he is headed back to Yeshiva, which I recall being in Kiryat Arba. He told me that first Seder he is learning Alleu Mitzzius Sh’Lo and second Seder, another Perek in Baba Metzia. I asked him when he will go into the army. He said that he loves learning and that is his priority at this time. I said Mi Kamcha Yisroel – how great are the Jewish people that this boy dressed with a T-Shirt is no different than the boy learning in Mir, and perhaps greater because he will likely join the army and put his life on the line for Klal Yisroel. This is the Kotzker’s and Ahavas Yisroel’s Pshat.

The following is a translation of the Ahavas Shaul’s Maamer on “Tzion our Holy City and the Founding of Mizrachi.”:

The blue is the translation and the black are my comments.

Brcohos 3B mentions King David’s harp that hung over his bed. 

David had a sign indicating when it was midnight. As Rav Aḥa bar Bizna said that Rabbi Shimon Ḥasida said: A (Kinor) harp – lyre hung over David’s bed, and once midnight arrived, the northern midnight wind would come and cause the lyre to play on its own. David would immediately rise from his bed and study Torah until the first rays of dawn.”

The Ahavas Shaul questions – how can a northern wind play a harp.    A harp (lyre)  is played only with a pick and by a person.  It must be that this Gemoro is like  golden apples hidden in a regular money bag – meaning that contained in this Gemoro there is hidden a beautiful message.

(This is such a Litvishe question.  The Chassidim and many others explain the Gemara at its basic meaning, that Dovid’s harp was miraculous.)

Rabbi Shochet continues:

  1. We find by Elisha the prophet that when he got angry and the divine presence departed from him, he would ask for music to be played and the divine presence would return.  The harp represents ‘Hashrashas Hashcina”.

  1. Exile is called night.

  1. Morning references redemption.

  1. In Shir HaShirim it says that King Solomon had sixty warriors surrounding his bed, each holding a sword knowledgeable in battle with his sword at his side.

  1. The bed of a person references his children.

Using these ideas we can understand the hidden meaning in Dovid Hamelech’s harp in the Gemora of Brcohos

The    כנור of David which we see by Elisha brings the divine presence, represents Torah learned at a higher level with the Divine Presence. These thoughts of Torah of Dovid HaMelech, were above the bed of his children,  of  King Solomon who had 60 warriors surrounding him.  The sixty warriors represent 60 Volumes of Talmud Bavli and all of them were knowledgeable in the battle of Torah.  Their main thoughts were to learn our holy Torah.

However, the bed of King David;  his Torah and divine inspiration  contained more than just Torah.  David was on a higher level, the combination of Torah and Kinor, Torah and divine inspiration   What happened to David during his lifetime happened to the Jewish people throughout history.   David  was at death’s door numerous times;

  1. The time that Shaul the king chased after David  and King Shaul was encamped on one side of the mountain with 10,000 men, while David only had 300 men on the other side of the mountain,
  2. So too with the people of K’elah, and
  3. When David had to flee from Avsholem.

It all these times he was closer to death than life.

What did King David do at the times when life was at its darkest, at midnight and the northern (evil) wind blew, threatening to topple Dovid Hamelech? Dovid would not only learn Torah, but he delved into Torah and he worked on the Torah (guided by the Kinor) as we say in the second Bracha of morning Krias Shma – God should place in our hearts to understand and be knowledgeable .  . .  to learn and to teach, to guard, and to establish all the ideas contained within the Torah.  David delved into Torah to bring out the potential which is hidden in the Torah into action, meaning how to act and how to respond to his enemies.  In this way when it was midnight, he used his divine inspiration to bring the morning from the darkness, to go from exile to redemption.

This Gemara is telling us in Brcohos that even when it is the darkest at midnight, when our eyes are darkened and our ears our blocked due to hearing of all the oppression and troubles of our brothers, the Jewish people,  from the land of death which is Russia, which lies to the north of Israel – we have to do what Dovid Hamelech did.  We have to play the Kinor – meaning we have to be guided by divine inspiration, that is not enough to just learn but we must delve into Torah to find the answers to our darkness, and to bring to reality what we pray for at the beginning of davening, that a new light should shine of Zion, and as we say as we stand up in prayer in the Shemonah Esra, that with mercy should we return  to our city, Jerusalem.  And  in Bentching, God should have mercy on Jerusalem.  

Our main purpose is to learn from Dovid Hamelech; whose actions where definitely guided by Torah and do just like him.  Meaning to fight and find ideas and work towards bringing the Jews back to Israel and Jerusalem.

My comments:

  1. The Ahavas Shaul said this in the first part of the 20 century, when the drive to go back to Israel was picking up momentum and this seemed to be the best, and perhaps the only, solution for the troubles of the Jewish people.
  1. The Ahavas Shaul’s  ideas were felt and put into action each on their own level by many great leaders, including my great-great- grandfather, the Pilaver-Kotzker Rebbe, the Netziv,  the Meshech Chochmo, Rabbi Avrohom Yitzchok HaCohen Kook, the Ger Rebbe,  the Slabodka Yeshiva, and many others.

The Ahavas Shaul continues:2

And therefore the Rov, the Goan, Rabbi Yitzchok Reines TZL established Mizrachi to show that even though we are Zionists, we still follow the dictates of our holy Torah, and not like the Zionist radicals who place  a priority on uprooting our faith, like one radical  spoke at the Zionist Congress held in Basel, Switzerland and said:

What do you think that when we take over our land, we will build a Bais Hamikdash and offer cows and lambs in it.  A (Bais Hamikdash) was needed  two thousand years ago when the world was not yet civilized.  But  now this is nonsense that cannot be.”

Immediately when Rabbi Reines heard this speech, he separated himself from them and established Mizrachi.  Therefore we have to not only pray, but also to be occupied with activities of Torah.   And God should bring upon us  quickly the sunrise, which is our redemption quickly in our days.  Amen.

Footnotes:

  1. The radical said that the world in 1900 was civilized.  The 20th century was the bloodiest ever, with estimates as high as 200,000,000 people killed by Stalin, Hitler, the communists and the Japanese.  I recall a book written on the horrors of the entire 20th century.

  2. Picture in your mind’s eye who was at the original Basel Zionist Congresses.  You had Theodore Herzl, Dr. Max Nordau, Usishkin, Ahad Ha-am and other founders of Zionism, many wearing formal wear.

Rabbi Yitzchok, Yaakov Reines, TZL, Born 1839 – August 20, 1915

3

Shabbos – May 25, 2019

Memorial Day Weekend

This Shabbos I had tremendous Siyatah Dishmaya – Divine Providence.  I was in Shul Shabbos morning and I am a pacer.   As I was walking out the Shul at its back entrance to study Daf Yomi in  the back yard, I noticed an old Sefer sitting by the Rabbi’s seat.  I picked it up and was smitten.  I forsake learning Daf Yomi, which set me back 2 Blatt,  to learn and understand the Sefer.   I spent over two hours learning the Sefer.

The name of the Sefer is Ahavas Shaul, printed in Chicago in 1916 by Rabbi Shaul Yedidya Shochet.  He was Rov of a Shul called Anshei Nariditch.  I found the following biographical information on the web:

Shochet issued them (his Teshuvos) between 12 June 1905 and 12 Feb. 1920 while serving as a Rabbi in England, Kansas City (MO), Louisville and Chicago. Most deal with matters of divorce. Some were issued in response to conditions in the various communities in which he served. Others are addressed to Russian, German, British, Belgian and American rabbis. Among the American correspondents are R. Zevi Hirsch Grodzinsky of Omaha.  (Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik mentioned Reb Tzvi Hirsch Grodzinsky in a Sholsh Seuduas speech in 1973.)   R. Dov Baer [Bernard] Abramowitz of St. Louis, R. Joseph Zechariah Rosenfeld of St. Louis, R. Robias Geffen of Atlanta and R. Mordekhai Solomon Siber of Minneapolis. Shochet was born in Old Zagare, Kovno Province, in 1860. He served as rabbi for 14 years in a number of Russian communities before immigrating to Hull, England in 1905. After serving as a rabbi there for one year, he proceeded to America and occupied pulpits in Perth Amboy (NJ), Kansas City (MO), Louisville and finally, in 1916, Chicago. Bookseller Inventory # 005673.

Who knows when this Sefer was last opened and when someone last read Rabbi Shochet’s Torah, let alone spoke it out at a Shabbos meal.  I decided to speak the Torah of Rabbi Shochet at the Shlosh Suedas meal.  Rabbi Shochet lived at 736 S. Marshfield, Chicago.  The Gemora says that when the Torah of a deceased person is read, the lips of the deceased person who wrote and said the Torah moves.  Rabbi Shochet mentions this Gemora in his introduction.

Early in the afternoon I went to my nephew’s house, Yonatan Glenner, to show him and learn from the Sefer.  I was re-reading the introduction and a thunderbolt hit me. In his introduction, Rabbi Shaul Yedidya Shochet said that he  wrote and signed the introduction to his Sefer on the 20th of Iyar 1916.  This Shabbos is the 20th of Iyar (May 23, 1916).  I discovered this Sefer 103 years to the date when the author finished the Sefer.  Wow.   What a Zichus.

When I spoke later Shabbos, I discovered that my nephew, Mayer Chase, knew about Rabbi Shochet and had another one of his books, Tiferas Yedidya, which is on the four portions of the Shulchan Aruch.   Tiferas Yedidya was published in 1920. Rabbi Shochet put in his Haskomos – approbations that he received when his first Sefer came out in 1903.   On Monday of Parshas Yisro 1902, January 27, 1902 Rabbi Avrohom Yitzchok Hacohen Kook wrote a Haskama.  The Haskamah was written when Rabbi Kook was still Rabbi in Boisk.   Rabbi Kook made Aliyah in 1904.  It is signed, Rabbi Kook. Servant of this Nation of God.

There is also a Haskama from Rabbi Yaakov Dovid Wilovsky, the Ridvaz, who signed his Haskama on the 19th of Shevat 1903, February 16, 1903.  The Ridvaz writes that he is the Goan, Av Bais Din of Slutzk.  The Ridvaz travelled to Chicago to raise money to publish his Seforim. The Ridvaz was forced to flee Chicago in the middle of the night in 1900 due to problems with Schitah in Chicago.  The Ridvaz’s opponent was Rabbi Album of Mishne Gemoro, the Shul where I daven.  In the Rivdaz’s Haskamah he writes, “I know quite well that the author is a great person, one of the expert Rabbis, but his Mazel caused him to live in a distressful place.”

The third Haskama is from Rabbi Shmuel Yaakov Rabinowitz from Yalik. I tried to locate him but am so far unsuccessful.

It is important to not the Rabbi Shaul Yedidya Shochet wrote the below in 1916 when it was very difficult to keep Shabbos.  His first essay on Behar touches upon this difficulty.

Behar:


Vayikra – Chapter 25 – Verse 2:

דַּבֵּ֞ר אֶל־בְּנֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ וְאָמַרְתָּ֣ אֲלֵהֶ֔ם כִּ֤י תָבֹ֙אוּ֙ אֶל־הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֲנִ֖י נֹתֵ֣ן לָכֶ֑ם וְשָׁבְתָ֣ה הָאָ֔רֶץ שַׁבָּ֖ת לַיהוָֽה׃

Speak to the children of Israel and say to them: When you enter the land that I give to you, the land shall observe a sabbath of the LORD.

The words  לַיהוָֽה וְשָׁבְתָ֣ה הָאָ֔רֶץ שַׁבָּ֖ת means, just like on a regular Shabbos, Shabbos is for God where we have no power to earn a living – yet it protects us and provides support for our families during the six days of work, so I am asking you, וְשָׁבְתָ֣ה הָאָ֔רֶץ, that for six years plant your fields, prune your vineyards, and gather your crops; but the seventh year should be a שַׁבַּ֤ת שַׁבָּתוֹן֙ יִהְיֶ֣ה לָאָ֔רֶץ שַׁבָּ֖ת לַיהוָ֑ה – “the land shall have a sabbath of complete rest, a sabbath of the LORD”. The explanation being that just like Shabbos is completely holy to God because Hashem Yisborach rested from work, so too the seventh year must be holy to God, forbidden to plant, plow, and harvest. The Torah concludes that even though you cease from work; nonetheless if you have faith in Hashem Yisborach, “The Sabbath produce of the land shall be yours to eat” and “even for your animals” because through faith in Hashem Yisborach, Hashem Yisborach will send you a double blessing.

Rabbi Shaul Yedidya Schohet continues. Based on this (concept of faith in God) we can answer the question of the Alshich. The Parshah opens with כִּ֤י תָבֹ֙אוּ֙ אֶל־הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֲנִ֖י נֹתֵ֣ן לָכֶ֑ם -plural, when all of you come into the land. The Torah then continues in the singular –    שֵׁ֤שׁ שָׁנִים֙ תִּזְרַ֣ע שָׂדֶ֔ךָ וְשֵׁ֥שׁ שָׁנִ֖ים תִּזְמֹ֣ר כַּרְמֶ֑ךָ וְאָסַפְתָּ֖ אֶת־תְּבוּאָתָֽהּ׃.

The Alshich asks – the Torah should be consistent, either all plural or all singular.  The Ahavas Shaul answers that we can understand it according to the above explanation (which is all about faith in God). How is it possible that a person can keep the commandants of the Seventh year to allow everyone take the fruits of the land in the seventh year that comes to a person him with great effort. Therefore the Torah explains, do not question this commandment (of Shmittah) because the Torah tells us כִּ֤י תָבֹ֙אוּ֙ אֶל־הָאָ֔רֶץ, you (all the Jewish people) received the land of Israel because I gave the land to all of you. As a result all the Jews are partners in the land of Israel.  It is enough for each one of you to work your own fields, prune your vineyards, and you alone gather the crops for six years and not others. However, the beginning of Behar tells us that the Jews are partners in the land because God gave Israel to the entire nation of Israel to settle the land. This partnership manifests itself during the Shmittah year, the seventh year, when anyone can walk into any field and take the produce on any field.  (I may add – this creates a comradery, a sense of responsibility, a partnership)

Rabbi Shaul Yedidya Shochet then goes on and discusses the Gemoro on Sanhedrin 91A which brings down the story where the people of Africa brought a lawsuit against the Jews before Alexander the Great. I spent two hours on the last 2 pages of his Torah on this Gemara. It is attached in the Hebrew

 

Rabbi Shaul Yedidya Shochet, Introduction to Sefer and Torah on Behar (1)

Week of Parshas Va-era

Sunday – December 30, 2019:

Got up from Shiva for my mother.

Tuesday – January 1, 2019:

Walked along the Lakefront and then went to Anshe Sholom for Mincha/Maariv. Compare the pictures one year apart:

January 1, 2019:
image1

December 31, 2017
image2

Thursday – January 3, 2019:
image3
Took Naftali Glenner for Mincha / Maariv.

Shabbos – Friday night January 4 – 2019:

First Shabbos of the New Year. Ate by the Glenner’s Friday night. Wore my blue suede shoes in honor of the king, Elvis Presley’s birthday.

Saturday – January 5, 2019:

Got up- at 5:00 AM and learned the Sedra. Below are the items I thought about, and comments on the Sedra. I let my house at 8:15 AM, walked to Anshei Sholom and got there at 9:50 AM. Eli met me for Kiddush at the Shul. Went to the Kiddush. We stayed for the guest speaker. At 1:30 PM attended Dr. Leonard Kranzler’s Bible class. Dr. Kranzler is in Florida, so Paul facilitated the discussion.

The following is my Torah on Parshas Va’era:

1) עֲרַ֥ל שְׂפָתָֽיִם: – Closed Lips:

Chapter 6, Verse 12:

יב. וַיְדַבֵּ֣ר משֶׁ֔ה לִפְנֵ֥י יְהֹוָ֖ה לֵאמֹ֑ר הֵ֤ן בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ לֹא־שָֽׁמְע֣וּ אֵלַ֔י וְאֵיךְ֙ יִשְׁמָעֵ֣נִי פַרְעֹ֔ה וַֽאֲנִ֖י עֲרַ֥ל שְׂפָתָֽיִם:

12. But Moses spoke before the Lord, saying, “Behold, the children of Israel did not hearken to me. How then will Pharaoh hearken to me, seeing that I am of closed lips?”

What does Closed Lips mean? Standard explanation is Moshe had difficulty talking; he stuttered and spoke with a speech impediment. Moshe attributed his inability to be the messenger because of his speech impediment and no one would understand him.

Obviously by the time of Har Sinai, Moshe overcame this inability to talk and was able to give over Torah to the Jewish people in a clear manner.

Rashi in Verse 13 says – Because Moshe had said, “I am of closed lips, “the Holy One combined Aaron with him to be for him as a speaker and an interpreter.

Rashi is saying that only because Moshe said I am of closed lips did God partner Aaron with Moshe. Moshe could have accomplished his mission even without Aaron.

Chapter 7; Verses 1 and 2 explicitly say that Aaron is the speaker, interpreter.

There is another meaning of Aral Sephasium – having closed lips. It is the inability to answer people, to think on your feet, to deflect criticism.   I think the best of people and situations, I think with Chesed, and people fail to understand where my words are coming from – a good place. I can be insulted and am not able to defend myself meetings I seem to not to be able to answer questions properly and afterwards I stress out and criticize myself thinking. “what and how I should have answered.” I cannot answer people properly when they have questions about the Jewish religion. There was a Seinfeld episode where George stressed out because he could not have the correct retort. I saw a movie with George Clooney where he walked into every meeting confident and always said the right thing. I want to be George Clooney. However, I want to be Rabbi Ben Sugerman. He says a beautiful Daf Yomi Shiur in God’s Shul at BRS in Florida. Rabbi Sugerman’s ability to explain is outstanding. On Chullin 32 and 33, he gave 10 minute introductions to the Blatt. My goal is to be able to explain Torah like Rabbi Ben Sugerman.

2) Reuben, Israel’s firstborn

Chapter 6- Verse 14:

  1. 14. These [following] are the heads of the fathers’ houses: The sons of Reuben, Israel’s firstborn:

Enoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Karmi, these are the families of Reuben.

Why does the Torah say Reuben was Israel’s first born? We know this. I believe the answer is that Yaakov criticized Reuben and took away the double rights of Firstborn: given to Yosef. Priesthood: given to Levi. Royalty: given to Yehuda. Despite this, we still have to give honor to Reuben as he is still the firstborn. We have no right to judge Reuben and lower his status. We have to honor him and defer to him when appropriate.

In Kotzk, the oldest brother always had the rights to step into the father’s position after the death of the father and be Rebbe. If the firstborn does not want it, then the next brother becomes the leader of the family. When this lack of respect occurs, you have brothers taking each other to court, you have fights, and you have Torah Scholars fighting with each other.

3) Moshe is to give Pharaoh Respect:

In Chapter 6 – Verse 13 Rashi says that Moshe was instructed to give Pharaoh respect. Even thought Pharaoh was evil and Moshe had God’s protection and was Pharaoh’s judge, enforcer, and chastiser, per Rashi on Chapter 7 – Verse 1. Moshe should have treated Pharaoh with utter contempt, however, God said, No, show Pharaoh respect. This is also important to show respect to leaders despite there being evil. Perhaps it is respect for the office and the country. As Rabbi Weinschnieder said, in the Army, you salute the General’s car even if the General is not in the car.

4) And Pharaoh also called his wise men:

Chapter 7, Verse 11:

ן מִצְרַ֛יִם בְּלַֽהֲטֵיהֶ֖ם כֵּֽ חַרְטֻמֵּ֥י וַיִּקְרָא֙ גַּם־פַּרְעֹ֔ה לַֽחֲכָמִ֖ים וְלַֽמְכַשְּׁפִ֑ים וַיַּֽעֲשׂ֨וּ גַם־הֵ֜

The first “גַּם” appears to be extra. I believe the explanation is that is was not enough to show that Moshe’s turning the staff into a snake could be nothing special, Pharaoh had to mock Moshe. He was saying. Moshe your trick is the work of an amateur. Not only can I, Pharaoh, the God King duplicate but Pharaoh also called his wise men and other to show, Moshe, you are insignificant trickster.

5) Pharaoh behaved no different than any despot.President Truman had to drop the H bomb. Emperor Hitherto would never have surrendered. He would have caused the death of millions of Japanese and tens of thousands of American troops. After Gettysburg, there was no way the South could win the war, yet the Civil war went on for 2 more years, killing over 200,000 men.

So the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron: Because Moses had said, “I am of closed lips,” the Holy One, blessed be He, combined Aaron with him to be for him as a “mouth” [i.e., speaker] and an interpreter.

Walked to Anshei Sholom. Got there at 9:50 AM.