May 23, 2021 – Parshas Naso

Shabbos morning left home  at 8:35 AM to walk to Anshei Shalom.   Got there at 10:20 AM and sat next to Eli.  Listened to Rabbi David Wolkenfeld’s Shiur., below.   Left Anshei Shalom and arrived at Chabad of Lakeview at 10:50 AM.  They were in the middle of the Torah reading.  The Rabbi spoke well.   There was a big Kiddush.  Alexi became a Geyoris by the CRC and she sponsored a Kiddush.  She spoke and had a great story.  This week’s Medresh on Verse 5:10 spoke about the significance of converts.   After the Kiddush I gave a Shiur to Paul and Jack (Charlotte’s adopted brother).  I went to Eli’s house, slept for 1.25 hours and walked 5 miles home.  

My Torah thoughts:

I first spoke about the beginning of the Parsha.  On Verse 5:2 Rashi says “This section was spoken on the day when the Tabernacle was erected; there were eight sections spoken on that day, as is related in Treatise Gittin 60a, in the chapter beginning with the word הנזקין.”

Bamidbar begins with a census of the Jews in the desert which was taken in the second year after leaving Egypt on the 1st day of Iyar.  24 days later they would be heading to Israel, until fate intervened.   Why was it necessary to have thes Parsha of the census out of chronological order?  Second question – why was the census done a month after the Miskan was assembled, one month after God put his presence in the Mishkan.  Placing Hashem’s Shekinah is directly  related to the census as Rashi said in Bamidbar Verse 1:1.   At first glance I would think that the census should have taken place on the first of Adar.  The simple answer is that there was no time as the Jews were building the Mishkan. However, it should have been written after the twelve Korboans of the twelve princes.

The Torah in Nasso strings together six topics.  It starts with the end of the census, counting the tribe of Levi and their jobs.    After finishing the counting the Torah discusses a number of subjects related to the Mishkan, directly or indirectly.    Verse 5:10 discusses the levels of holiness in the camp of the Jews.  Space is made holy and we go up from lower levels of holiness to higher levels.  I heard this concept  from Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda TZL in Boca Raton.  Just like in space on earth we have levels of holiness, so we have it in time.  Weekday, Shabbos, holso May idays, Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah.  2)  We see that the encampment of the twelve tribes, the living place of the Jewish people, was holy.  3) Next topic is theft, particularly theft from a convert, 4)  the need to give Bikkurim, 5) the fifth topic is adultery.  Connected to adultery is Nazir.  6) The sixth topic is Birchas Kohanim.  7)  Afterwards the Torah speaks about  the offerings of the twelve tribes.  The verse starting from Verse 5:10 in Nasso and ending at the fifth Aliyah of Parshas  Behaaloscha,  verse 10:10 was said or done on the first day of Nissan and forward.   We have to go to Bamidbar Verse 10:11 to pick up the unfolding events in a chronological order for the Jews in the desert, which would be the expected chronological order .  

I believe the answer is as follows.   The Torah is teaching us how the Mishkan and Bais Hamikdash and Jewish society survives.      

1. Census

It starts with us understanding that God loves us.  Rashi Bamidbar Verse 1:1

2.  Sending out Tamah people  Verses 5:2-4

We are holy people and our living spaces are also holy.  In addition

we have access to enter into higher levels of holiness. 

3.  Theft and theft from a convert. Verse 5:5-8

Theft corrupts.  The Parsha is dealing with all theft, but the Torah here adds that repayment of theft from a convert who has died goes to the Kohen.  

The Medresh brings down from Verse 5:10 the integration and specialness of converts and their holiness.  We could add the acceptance of others is also a part of our holiness and base for a civil and just society.

4.  Giving Bikkurim – Verse 5:9110

We have to share our wealth and success with others.

5.  Sotah – Verse 5:11-31

Family relationships have to be stable to bring holiness.

6.  Birchas Kohanim  6:22-26

If we understand and are loyal to items 2 – 5 then God will bless us with Birchas Kohanim.  

Then as Rabbi Wolkenfled said, we will be beacons of peace in the world.

The counting of the Jewish people was purposely performed on the 1st day of Iyar, close to the commandment to travel to Israel as a lesson for future generations of what is needed for the Jewsih nation to sustain itself.  

Rabbi’s Speech:

Rabbi David Wolkenfeld.  
ASBI Congregation
Naso 5781

May God Grant Peace

Who is the subject of Jewish prayer? When the siddur says “we” “us” “our” as in the phrase “our God” “heal us” and “we thank you” who is the subject? It seems that in almost every instance, the first-person-plural voice that is adopted in Jewish prayer reflects Klal Yisrael – the spiritual collective that unites all Jews. Although we pray as individuals, and should personalize our prayers, our fixed liturgy expresses the hopes and dreams and yearnings of every Jew. There is just one exception.

The final blessing of the amidah is Birkat HaShalom, the blessing of peace. The subject of this blessing is not Klal Yisrael, but the congregation present at that moment. That’s why we request שִׂים שָׁלוֹם טוֹבָה וּבְרָכָה חֵן וָחֶֽסֶד וְרַחֲמִים עָלֵֽינוּ וְעַל כָּל־יִשְׂרָאֵל עַמֶּֽךָ. We ask for the blessing of peace and grace and kindness and mercy be bestowed on “us and on all Israel.” We speak to God in this blessing as a congregation standing together in one room, and then we ask that the blessings that we have received be shared outward and shared onward. The blessing of peace, once received, must be shared with others. Or, the only way the blessing of peace can be manifest in the world is if it is shared.

The blessing, Sim Shalom, is a congregational recapitulation of Birkat Kohanim, the priestly blessing which is found in Parashat Naso and which is recited immediately before Sim Shalom in the public amidah. Birkat Kohanim concludes with a blessing for peace, and then the congregation responds that we pray that this peace will indeed be granted to us and not just to us.

As Birkat Kohanim is found in the Torah there is some ambiguity about precisely who is blessing and who is receiving blessing. At the end of the sixth chapter of Sefer Bamidbar we find:

דַּבֵּ֤ר אֶֽל־אַהֲרֹן֙ וְאֶל־בָּנָ֣יו לֵאמֹ֔ר כֹּ֥ה תְבָרְכ֖וּ אֶת־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל אָמ֖וֹר לָהֶֽם׃        

יְבָרֶכְךָ֥ יְהֹוָ֖ה וְיִשְׁמְרֶֽךָ׃        

יָאֵ֨ר יְהֹוָ֧ה ׀ פָּנָ֛יו אֵלֶ֖יךָ וִֽיחֻנֶּֽךָּ׃        

יִשָּׂ֨א יְהֹוָ֤ה ׀ פָּנָיו֙ אֵלֶ֔יךָ וְיָשֵׂ֥ם לְךָ֖ שָׁלֽוֹם׃       

Speak to Aaron and his sons: Thus shall you bless the people of Israel. Say to them:

The LORD bless you and protect you!

The LORD deal kindly and graciously with you!

The LORD bestow His favor upon you and grant you peace!

And then there is a curious summation.

 וְשָׂמ֥וּ אֶת־שְׁמִ֖י עַל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וַאֲנִ֖י אֲבָרְכֵֽם׃ 

“And they (that is, the priests) shall place My name upon the Children of Israel and I shall bless them.”

In the Talmud, Rabbi Yishmael and Rabbi Akiva disagree about how to understand that verse. According to Rabbi Akiva (and Rashi agrees with his interpretation) the word “them” refers to the Israelite recipients of the blessing. God is endorsing the birkat kohanim and carrying out the intentions of Birkat Kohanim. According to Rabbi Yishmael  – who is also quoted by Rashi – God blesses the kohanim, setting up a chain in which the kohanim bless the Israelites and God blesses the kohanim. Ibn Ezra understands the phrase “bless them” to refer to both the kohanim and the Israelites who are simultaneously blessed by God through the ritual of Birkat Kohanim. 

Undeniably there is ambiguity in the phrasing of the verse. But all of the interpretations have in common a nexus between God, the Kohanim, and the Israelites. The relationship between these three is important and potent and the pinnacle of that relationship of blessing is bestowing peace that expands outward in circles. The blessings of peace are never limited to the first recipients; they are always passed onward.

The opening line of Birkat Kohanim is focused on basic material needs. Rashi tells us that יְבָרֶכְךָ֥ יְהֹוָ֖ה וְיִשְׁמְרֶֽךָ׃ May God bless you and protect you refers to our bodies and our posessions being safe from any threat. If so, the blessing of peace in the third line of Birkat Kohanim must mean more than the absence of war. 

Shalom implies “sheleimut” – the state of being that Yaakov attained וַיָּבֹא֩ יַעֲקֹ֨ב שָׁלֵ֜ם  after reconciling with his brother. It was only after reconciliation with his great rival after many decades of fear and enmity that Yaakov was able to be at peace with himself and his place in the world.

Maimonides, the Rambam, ends his Book of Seasons with a moving praise of peace as a telos of the entire Torah:

גָּדוֹל הַשָּׁלוֹם שֶׁכָּל הַתּוֹרָה נִתְּנָה לַעֲשׂוֹת שָׁלוֹם בָּעוֹלָם 

“Great is peace, since the entire Torah has been given to create peace in the world.” But this peace too is not simply the absence of war. For Rambam, peace entails the freedom and tranquility and harmony to study Torah and to draw close to God. He concludes his great book, Mishneh Torah, by explaining that our sages and prophets yearned for Mashiach and for redemption, not live lives of ease, but to live at a time in which there would be the freedom to pursue Torah study and the contemplation of God in a world without competition or famine or war.

The Jewish people are described in the Torah as being a mamlechet kohanim. We are a kingdom of priests. This means that just as the kohanim are a conduit of blessing to the Israelites, so too, all of us together are meant to be a conduit of blessing to humanity. And so the trilogy of God, kohanim, and Israelites transferring blessing and bestowing peace on one another is meant to play out on a larger and universal scale.

One disturbing facet of the past week of fighting in Israel and Gaza were news reports of young American Jews, who have become increasingly alienated from Israel over their perception of a growing divide between their idealism and the reality of the circumstances in which the State of Israel conducts its policy. I don’t know if that describes any of you but if it does, I suggest that walking away in disappointment and disillusionment is not a choice any Jew should make. First, because as I wrote last week, our brothers and sisters in Israel are literally our family and not metaphorically our family. You can’t walk away from your family.

But, also, your care and concern and support for Israel as it makes its way, in fits and starts, towards peace is among the most important religious tasks that a Jew can undertake in this generation. The redemptive potential of the Jewish people’s return to Eretz Yisrael is not in tension with the need to come to a peaceful accommodation with Israel’s neighbors. Redemption is the direct outcome of that peaceful accommodation.

This was said and understood by many others. Rav Menachem Froman z’l, a mystic and peace activist from the West Bank town of Tekoa said this years ago. This message was shared anonymously by a Jerusalem rabbi to Roi Ravitzky years ago when he was researching ways to elicit the support of religious Muslims and Jews for peace negotiations. And it was said yesterday by Rabbi Chananel Rosen of Tel Aviv following a week of rocket attacks and internecine violence. I read these words of his in an email on Friday and they took my breath away:

“Either we are doomed to intractable, unending conflict until the times of Moshiach, or – and this is a big ‘or’ – there is a reason that we’re not alone in this land, and our destinies are somehow tied up with those of the Other (Muslims, Israeli Arabs, Palestinians – whichever). For whatever reason, God has thrown us together with them, and we need to deal with that. In the final analysis, I suspect that deep down many of us would be far happier if we woke up to find that these “others” had suddenly been magically teleported to Uganda – and they no doubt feel similarly about us. No such luck though; I think God has other plans for us all.”

My attempt to understand Rabbi Wolkenfeld’s speech.


David Wolkenfeld
4:49 AM (1 hour ago)Reply
to me

Shalom,

This is a very fair and accurate recapitulation of my words.

In terms of peace, I think the mindset that would need to be developed, both among Israelis and Palestinians, is for each group to see each other as permanent neighbors sharing a common homeland. From the Israeli perspective, this means that no peace agreement with an Arab government can substitute for reaching an accommodation with the Palestinians who were displaced by the creation of Israel and who still live within the sovereign State of Israel or the territory that Israel controls. From this vantage point, the Abraham Accords were, at best, a distraction, insofar as far off oil sheikdoms cannot substitute for the millions of human beings who reside within the only sovereign nation that currently exists between the river and the sea.

I don’t see much hope for short-term optimism.  But, there are some very interesting and inspiring green shoots – religious Israelis and religious Muslims in Israel and the West Bank meeting for dialogue. There is the “two states, one homeland” movement which has significant rabbinic support. There is Mansour Abbas who is an ideological cousin of Hamas – two parallel wings of the Muslim Brotherhood – and who leads the Arab political party that has done the most to integrate itself into Israeli politics this past year and who pledged to rebuild the synagogue destroyed last week in Lod…

Best wishes,

David

From: Mitchell Morgenstern <mitchellamorgenstern@gmail.com>
Date: Wednesday, May 26, 2021 at 10:31 PM
To: David Wolkenfeld <rabbiw@asbi.org>
Subject: Re: Yesterday

Rabbi Wolkenfeld:

 I am trying to understand the theme of your speech.  Is this what you are saying?

 1)  Peace only works in concentric circles, from one person to another person or from one group to the next.  Meaning Sholem has to emanate from us as individuals and from groups however defined.  It can be a Shul, a class, a block, or a business.   It includes Israel as a whole.

 2)  Shalom is also defined as being complete.  When we feel complete, we are at peace with ourselves, happy with life, and as a result we can radiate goodness and peace to the world.

 3)  Israel and the Arabs must live together as this is what God dictates.  Therefore Israel must project peace despite all the hardships.

 I have always tried to live #1 and believe was successful.  As a banker, I always have tried to give people a fair deal, waive fees, and give them the benefit of doubt.  I  always put myself in their position and respond to them as I would want if the roles were reversed.  In fact that this mentality was great marketing for the bank and did more than the millions of dollars spent on marketing. It only brought me success in my career.   I had to fight the corporate mentality and kind of do things quietly.

This is true for many, many professions.  The goodness you can do in any business is Godly.  A mechanic that is honest is a Godsend.  I look  Jewish pizza stores and places where Chessed is done every day.  The Jewish people tend to have large families and need inexpensive, tasty food.   This applies to every single business.  One must see the higher calling of what they are doing.  A plumber is not just fixing a toilet or a water line.  He is giving a family normal living conditions.  

 #2 is so true.  When I am a peace with myself, I am more effective and better able to empathise with people.

 Sorry to get political on #3.

#3 is an issue for every Israeli and for the government as a whole.  As most people, I feel that there is almost no solution for the Israeli –  Palestinian conflict.  The Abraham Accords seem to be the best chance.  Find peace from without by changing the mindset, then potentially peace can be found within.  This is somewhat similar to Golde Meir’s efforts for diplomacy in the 1950s using Israeli farming innovations for Africa because Israel did not have money.  This fell apart in 1967 after the six day war, when they were promised money and oil from the Arab countries.  

  On Sun, May 23, 2021 at 2:45 PM David Wolkenfeld <rabbiw@asbi.org> wrote:

It was great to see you too.

Best wishes,

David

From: Mitchell Morgenstern <mitchellamorgenstern@gmail.com>
Date: Sunday, May 23, 2021 at 2:24 PM
To: David Wolkenfeld <rabbiw@asbi.org>
Subject: Yesterday

Rabbi Wolkenfeld:

It was nice to be in Shul yesterday.  I would like a copy of your Drasha.

Mitchell A. Morgenstern

December 5, 2020 – 19 Teves 5781

Parshas VaYishlach

Yaakov Sent Messengers/Angels

Yaakov Meets Eisav

Jewish Press – Dennis Prager

First Pasuk in this Parsha:

Verse 32:4:

וַיִּשְׁלַ֨ח יַעֲקֹ֤ב מַלְאָכִים֙ לְפָנָ֔יו אֶל־עֵשָׂ֖ו אָחִ֑יו אַ֥רְצָה שֵׂעִ֖יר שְׂדֵ֥ה אֱדֽוֹם׃

Jacob sent messengers ahead to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom,

Rashi:                          ( וישלח יעקב מלאכים. מַלְאָכִים מַמָּשׁ (בראשית רבה:

Midrash Rabbah 75:4 – מַלְאָכִים (בראשית לב, ד), אֵלּוּ שְׁלוּחֵי בָּשָׂר וָדָם, רַבָּנָן אָמְרֵי מַלְאָכִים מַמָּשׁ.

What is Rashi telling us that they were actual angels?  There is a disagreement in the Medresh and the plain meaning is messengers.  Why is Rashi taking sides in the Machlokes especially when it really does not add anything.

After giving this much thought I believe the answer is as follows.  Rashi is telling us what Yaakov did to repair his relationship with Eisav.  He did three things:

  1.  He sent   מַלְאָכִים to Eisav. Who were these מַלְאָכִים ?   Either they were actual angels or if they were men they were prominent people.   Yaakov is showing Eisav that I hold you in high esteem and are sending you the best, the leaders of his community. .  Rashi is borrowing this term from the Midrash, but he is  not deciding who is correct in the Medresh.  This would be like  Shimon HaTzaddick meeting Alexander the Great.  The greatest person in Israel. 
  2. A gift
  3. As he was approaching Eisav he humbled himself by bowing seven times.See below my comments on Chapter 33, verse 4, Rashi and Sforno..

These three efforts and especially the last one turned Eisav’s heart from hatred to love.

Yaakov Meets Eisav:

Perek 33   –   ל״ג   

Verse 1

וַיִּשָּׂ֨א יַעֲקֹ֜ב עֵינָ֗יו וַיַּרְא֙ וְהִנֵּ֣ה עֵשָׂ֣ו בָּ֔א וְעִמּ֕וֹ אַרְבַּ֥ע מֵא֖וֹת אִ֑ישׁ וַיַּ֣חַץ אֶת־הַיְלָדִ֗ים עַל־לֵאָה֙ וְעַל־רָחֵ֔ל וְעַ֖ל שְׁתֵּ֥י הַשְּׁפָחֽוֹת׃

Looking up, Jacob saw Esau coming, accompanied by four hundred men. He divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two maids,

Sfrono:

                                                                                                 ועמו ארבע מאות איש שלא התכפרו פניו במנחה:                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

To tell us that he had not been appeased even by the substantial gift Yaakov had sent him.  Just like Rashi is Verse 4.

Verse 2:

וַיָּ֧שֶׂם אֶת־הַשְּׁפָח֛וֹת וְאֶת־יַלְדֵיהֶ֖ן רִֽאשֹׁנָ֑ה וְאֶת־לֵאָ֤ה וִֽילָדֶ֙יהָ֙ אַחֲרֹנִ֔ים וְאֶת־רָחֵ֥ל וְאֶת־יוֹסֵ֖ף אַחֲרֹנִֽים׃

And he put the maids and their children first, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph last.

Question:  Verse 32:8 says he divided his camp.  Why now are his family all together?  I think the answer is that once he fought the angel and was victorious, Yaakov was no longer afraid and put his family back together.

Verse 3:

וְה֖וּא עָבַ֣ר לִפְנֵיהֶ֑ם וַיִּשְׁתַּ֤חוּ אַ֙רְצָה֙ שֶׁ֣בַע פְּעָמִ֔ים עַד־גִּשְׁתּ֖וֹ עַד־אָחִֽיו

׃He himself went on ahead and bowed low to the ground seven times until he was near his brother.

Verse 4:

וַיָּ֨רָץ עֵשָׂ֤ו לִקְרָאתוֹ֙ וַֽיְחַבְּקֵ֔הוּ וַיִּפֹּ֥ל עַל־צַוָּארָ֖ו וַׄיִּׄשָּׁׄקֵ֑ׄהׄוּׄ וַיִּבְכּֽוּ׃

Esau ran to greet him. He embraced him and, falling on his neck, he kissed him; and they wept.

Rashi

ויחבקהו. נִתְגַּלְגְּלוּ רַחֲמָיו, כְּשֶׁרָאָהוּ מִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה כָּל הִשְׁתַּחֲוָאוֹת הַלָּלוּ

We see from the below Rashi that Eisv wanted to kill Yaakov all the way until he saw Yaakov bowing down to Eisav and only then did Eisav become friendly.  Refer to below Sforno.

 AND EMBRACED HIM — His pity was aroused when he saw him prostrating himself so many times (Genesis Rabbah 78:8).

Rashi:

וישקהו. נָקוּד עָלָיו; וְיֵשׁ חוֹלְקִין בַּדָּבָר הַזֶּה בַּבָּרַיְתָא דְּסִפְרֵי, יֵשׁ שֶׁדָּרְשׁוּ נְקֻדָּה זוֹ שֶׁלֹּא נְשָׁקוֹ בְּכָל לִבּוֹ, אָמַר רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן יוֹחַאי, הֲלָכָה הִיא בְּיָדוּעַ שֶׁעֵשָׂו שׂוֹנֵא לְיַעֲקֹב, אֶלָּא שֶׁנִּכְמְרוּ רַחֲמָיו בְּאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה וּנְשָׁקוֹ בְּכָל לִבּוֹ (ספרי במדבר):

 Dots are placed above the letters of this word, and a difference of opinion is expressed in the Baraitha of Sifré (בהעלותך) as to what these dots are intended to suggest: some explain the dotting as meaning that he did not kiss him with his whole heart, whereas R Simeon the son of Johai said: Is it not well-known that Esau hated Jacob? But at that moment his pity was really aroused and he kissed him with his whole heart. (Sifrei Bamidbar 69.2)

Sforno

וירץ עשו – נהפך לבו כמו רגע בהכנעותיו של יעקב כאמרם ז”ל שאחיהו השילוני קלל את ישראל בקנה הנכנע לכל הרוחות הן לו עשו כן בריוני בית שני לא היה נחרב בית מקדשנו כמו שהעיד רבי יוחנן בן זכאי באמרו (גטין פרק הנזקין) בריוני דבן לא שבקונן:

וירץ עשו, his attitude changed suddenly when he realised to what extent Yaakov had humbled himself before him. It is of great concern to us seeing that we live among the descendants of Esau, people who are arrogant, consider themselves invincible. Yaakov’s conduct vis a vis Esau teaches that the only way to escape the sword of Esau is through self degradation and gifts. This corresponds to what our sages taught us (Taanit 20) that the curses of the prophet Achiyah Hashiloni were more beneficial to the Jewish people than the blessing showered upon them by Bileam. Achiyah had cursed the Jewish people describing them as a reed which bends in all directions, a reference to someone demeaning himself rather than facing up to adversaries. (Kings I 14,15) If the Jewish people during the period of the second Temple had taken his advice to heart, the Temple would not have been destroyed. Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai testified to this when he said “if not for the militant extremists the Romans would not have destroyed the Temple.”

Baal Haturim:

וישקהו נקוד למעלה שכיון לנשכו:

וישקהו בגימטריא לנושכיהו. דור חרבות שני”ו בגימטריא עשו:

We see from the Sforno and the Baal Haturim that Eisav wanted to kill Yaakov up until the very end and once he saw Yaakov  bowing down did Esav’s heart melt.

The lesson from Rashi, Sforno, and the Ba’al Haturim is that to fight anti-semitism we must humble ourselfs, show deference, but be firm in showing the we, the Jewish people only want to bring good to the world.  When someone says something against Israel or Jews the wrong thing to do is accuse them of being an anti-semite.   Screaming anti-semitism is the wrong thing to do and embarrassing them is wrong.     Educate.   For example, AOC is not an anti-semite.  We should work with her so when she says something we do not agree with, she has a point of reference, a go to person.   Of course this will not always work, but our first response should be muted.    Have a leader in Israel or a highly respected person call them up or meet with them privately to show them the Israeli view.  I do not think many of these people are really anti-semeitc, they have a different view, a different mindset and we have to work to correct this mindset.  I believe that when Rabbi Ovadya Yosef was alive, he should have been the Israeli emissary to the Arab world, privately meeting with Arab leaders.   I worked  over 30 years in banking as a Jewish man  with a Yarmulke and my career sparkled with goodness.  I was unique so everyone knew me in the bank and I am proud now that my career is over that I was a positive influence on many employees and customers.  

Verse 10:

וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יַעֲקֹ֗ב אַל־נָא֙ אִם־ ־נָ֤ א מָצָ֤אתִי חֵן֙ בְּעֵינֶ֔יךָ וְלָקַחְתָּ֥ מִנְחָתִ֖י מִיָּדִ֑י כִּ֣י עַל־כֵּ֞ן רָאִ֣יתִי פָנֶ֗יךָ כִּרְאֹ֛ת פְּנֵ֥י אֱלֹהִ֖ים וַתִּרְצֵֽנִי׃

But Jacob said, “No, I pray you; if you would do me this favor, accept from me this gift; for to see your face is like seeing the face of God, and you have received me favorably.

Verse 11:

קַח־נָ֤א אֶת־בִּרְכָתִי֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר הֻבָ֣את לָ֔ךְ כִּֽי־חַנַּ֥נִי אֱלֹהִ֖ים וְכִ֣י יֶשׁ־לִי־כֹ֑ל וַיִּפְצַר־בּ֖וֹ וַיִּקָּֽח׃

Please accept my present which has been brought to you, for God has favored me and I have plenty.” And when he urged him, he accepted.

Rashi:

ברכתי. מִנְחָתִי, מִנְחָה זוֹ הַבָּאָה עַל רְאִיַּת פָּנִים וְלִפְרָקִים אֵינָה בָאָה אֶלָּא לִשְׁאֵלַת שָׁלוֹם, וְכָל בְּרָכָה שֶׁהִיא לִרְאִיַּת פָּנִים – כְּגוֹן וַיְבָרֶךְ יַעֲקֹב אֶת פַּרְעֹה (בראשית מ״ז:ז׳), עֲשׂוּ אִתִּי בְרָכָה דְּסַנְחֵרִיב (מלכים ב י”ח), וְכֵן לִשְׁאָל לוֹ לְשָׁלוֹם וּלְבָרְכוֹ דְּתֹעִי מֶלֶךְ חֲמָת (שמואל ב ח’) – כֻּלָּם לְשׁוֹן בִּרְכַּת שָׁלוֹם הֵן, שֶׁקּוֹרִין בְּלַעַז שלו”איר, אַף זוֹ בִּרְכָתִי מו”ן שלו”ד:

Ramban:

קח נא את ברכתי המנחה וכן עשו אתי ברכה (מלכים ב יח לא) השיבו לי מנחה וכן קח נא ברכה מאת עבדך (שם ה טו) ויקראו המנחה שישלח האדם לרצונו ברכה כי הוא שולח מאשר ברך אותו השם כענין אשר ברכך ה’ אלהיך תתן לו (דברים טו יד) כאשר אמר למעלה (לב יד) מן הבא בידו והמנחה אשר התנו בה למלך בדבר ידוע תקרא מס:

Tur Haruch:

קח נא את ברכתי. פי’ מנחתי כי המנחה שאדם שולח מרצונו נקראת ברכה לפי ששולח מרצונו מאשר ברכו ה’ והמנח’ שמביאין למלך נקראת מס:

Rosh:

קח נא את ברכתי וגו’. המינים ארורים פוקרים ואומרים שהודה יעקב לעשו על הברכות שלא אמר את מנחתי. וזריתי פרש על פניהם כתיב אשר הובאת לך משמע המובא בידים שיש בו ממש ויהבינן להו כלהו טעותייהו לפי שגער בו הקב”ה ואמר לו אני אל שדי פרה ורבה כלו’ לא עליך לתתם כי אם לי שהבטחתי לאבותיך עלי לקיים ולך אני אקיים מה שנדרתי להם והמלאך ברכו שם אחר מעשה זה וגם יצחק אמר לו גם ברוך יהיה ובהפרדו ללכת לחרן ברכו בג’ ברכות בג’ מקומות ונתן לו ברכת אבותיו ועוד דכתיב ויפצר בו ויקח ואלו כן היה נוטלם עשו ברצון שהרי נראה לו שנטלם יעקב במרמה ותשובתם נשאר מעל:

Second piece of Torah on this Parsha:

There is a fascinating Verse towards the end of the Sedra.

Chapter 36, Verse 6 and Verse 7::

וַיִּקַּ֣ח עֵשָׂ֡ו אֶת־נָ֠שָׁיו וְאֶת־בָּנָ֣יו וְאֶת־בְּנֹתָיו֮ וְאֶת־כָּל־נַפְשׁ֣וֹת בֵּיתוֹ֒ וְאֶת־מִקְנֵ֣הוּ וְאֶת־כָּל־בְּהֶמְתּ֗וֹ וְאֵת֙ כָּל־קִנְיָנ֔וֹ אֲשֶׁ֥ר רָכַ֖שׁ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ כְּנָ֑עַן וַיֵּ֣לֶךְ אֶל־אֶ֔רֶץ מִפְּנֵ֖י יַעֲקֹ֥ב אָחִֽיו׃

Esau took his wives, his sons and daughters, and all the members of his household, his cattle and all his livestock, and all the property that he had acquired in the land of Canaan, and went to another land because of his brother Jacob.

כִּֽי־הָיָ֧ה רְכוּשָׁ֛ם רָ֖ב מִשֶּׁ֣בֶת יַחְדָּ֑ו וְלֹ֨א יָֽכְלָ֜ה אֶ֤רֶץ מְגֽוּרֵיהֶם֙ לָשֵׂ֣את אֹתָ֔ם מִפְּנֵ֖י מִקְנֵיהֶֽם׃

For their possessions were too many for them to dwell together, and the land where they sojourned could not support them because of their livestock.

Rashi on Verse 7:

לא יכלה ארץ מגוריהם. לְהַסְפִּיק מִרְעֶה לַבְּהֵמוֹת שֶׁלָּהֶם (ב”ר). וּמִ”אַ: מפני יעקב אחיו. מִפְּנֵי שְׁטַר חוֹב שֶׁל גְּזֵרַת “כִּי גֵר יִהְיֶה זַרְעֲךָ” הַמֻּטָּל עַל זַרְעוֹ שֶׁל יִצְחָק, אָמַר אֵלֵךְ לִי מִכָּאן, אֵין לִי חֵלֶק לֹא בַּמַּתָּנָה, שֶׁנִּתְּנָה לוֹ הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת, וְלֹא בְּפִרְעוֹן הַשְּׁטָר, וּמִפְּנֵי הַבּוּשָׁה שֶׁמָּכַר בְּכוֹרָתוֹ:

 AND THE LAND OF THEIR SOJOURNINGS COULD NOT — supply sufficient pasture for the cattle which they had. A Midrashic comment (Genesis Rabbah 82)  is: on account of the bond of indebtedness involved in the decree, (Genesis 14:13) “thy seed shall be a stranger etc… and they shall afflict them etc.” that was imposed upon Isaac’s descendants. He said, “I shall go hence — I desire no part either in the gift of this land which has been made to him (to my father) nor in the payment of this bond” . Another reason why he went away was on account of the shame he felt at having sold his birthright (cf. Genesis Rabbah 82:13).

Targum Yonasan Ben Uziel on this Pasuk

וּדְבַר עֵשָו יַת נְשׁוֹי וְיַת בְּנוֹי וְיַת בְּנָתוֹי וְיַת כָּל נַפְשַׁת בֵּיתֵיהּ וְיַת גֵיתוֹי וְיַת בְּעִירוֹי וְיַת כָּל נִכְסוֹי דִי קָנָה בְּאַרְעָא דִכְנָעַן וְטַיָיל לְאַרַע אוֹחֲרִי דַהֲוָה רַמְיָא עֲלוֹי אֵימָתָא דְיַעֲקב אָחוּהִי

And Esau had taken his wives and his sons and his daughters, and all the souls of his house, and his flocks and his cattle, and all the substance which he had gotten in the land of Kenaan, and had gone into another land; for there fell upon him a fear of Jakob his brother:

Explanation:

It is fascinating that Yaakov comes back to his father and Eisav is still living there with his father.  Even though earlier in the Parsha it says that Eisav was coming from Har Seir with 400 men.  I am not sure of the answer.

The Torah gives the reason why Eisav moved away from Yaakov:

  1. Yaakov and Eisev were both wealthy, had many cattle and the land could not support both of them so Eisav moved away.

Rashi adds two other reasons:

  1. Eisav did not want his kids to go into slavery
  2. He was embarrassed that he sold his birthright

The Targum Yonasan Ben Uziel adds a fourth reason

  1. “and had gone into another land; for there fell upon him a fear of Jakob his brother”

What is Targum Yonasan Ben Uziel saying?  What fear of Yaakov?  The “Perush Yonasan” explains this enigmatic Targum as follows.  Eisav moved away because he heard that Shimon and Levy killed out Shechem and because of his fear of them Eisav left.

What does this mean?

 We know from Rashi on Verse 35:8  the full extent of the evil  of  Eisav.  Rashi says that the Torah does not mention the death of Rivka, Eisav and Yaakov’s mother .  Rashi states:

 An Agada (Genesis Rabbah 81:5) states that he there received news of another mourning for he was informed that his mother had died. — In Greek allon means “another”. — Because the time of her death was kept secret in order that people might not curse the mother who gave birth to Esau, Scripture also does not make open mention of her death (Midrash Tanchuma, Ki Teitzei 4).

The Hebrew is a little more graphic.

וְאַגָּדָה, נִתְבַּשֵּׂר שָׁם בְּאֵבֶל שֵׁנִי, שֶׁהֻגַּד לוֹ עַל אִמּוֹ שֶׁמֵּתָה (בראשית רבה), וְאַלּוֹן בִּלְשׁוֹן יְוָנִי אַחֵר, וּלְפִי שֶׁהֶעֱלִימוּ אֶת יוֹם מוֹתָהּ שֶׁלֹּא יְקַלְּלוּ הַבְּרִיּוֹת כֶּרֶס שֶׁיָּצָא מִמֶּנּוּ עֵשָׂו, אַף הַכָּתוּב לֹא פִרְסְמָהּ:

Eisav was a murderer, a plunder, hated by everyone and was able to do his evil unhindered.  However, when he heard that Yaakov had two sons who were men of strength, who would not tolerate evil, there was a new sheriff in town.  As a result Eisav left.   I got my understanding from an article written by Denis Prager in the December 4, 2020 issue of the Jewish Press

Denis Prager writes:

“Fakhrizadeh is the fifth Iranian nuclear scientist to have been killed in the last 13 years. One must assume that most, if not all, of these assassinations, whether Israel was involved or not, were carried out by Iranians – which only shows how many Iranians loathe their liberty-suppressing, life-suppressing, women-suppressing, Islamo-fascist regime. Too bad Western countries and the Western media also don’t loathe the Iranian regime (what they loathe is labeling the Iranian regime “Islamo-fascist”).”

The Israelis and before them President Trump put the Iranians on notice that there will be repercussions if they continue to pursue their evil in the world.  There is accountability and it is Israel.   This is another gift of the Israelis to the world.  Israel is already a leader in terms of  science, innovations, water desalination  in agriculture, medicine, and everything else.   Of course Israel cannot be the middle eastern policemen, but they can give the Ikranians pause.      If only the Arabs would make peace with Israel, there would be a renaissance in the entire Mideast.

Full Denis Prager Article:

Jewish Press Denis Prager – 12/4/2020 – The Israelis are Amazing and So Is the Left:

I always thought no one – including Israel – could pull off something as incredible as the July 4, 1976, raid on Entebbe, Uganda. To remind readers what happened that day:

A week earlier, on June 27, two Palestinian and two German terrorists hijacked an Air France Tel Aviv-to-Paris flight with 248 passengers on board, which they diverted to Entebbe Airport in Uganda. At the airport, the hijackers and four additional terrorists – aided by Uganda’s Idi Amin regime – held the Israelis and other Jews, and allowed the 148 non-Jewish passengers to fly on to Paris.

The terrorists announced that unless 53 Palestinian prisoners – 40 in Israel and 13 elsewhere – were released, the kidnapped Jews (and the Air France crew, all of whom heroically remained with the Jewish passengers) would be killed.

On July 4, the Israelis flew a disguised transport plane filled with Israeli commandos 2,500 miles from Israel to Entebbe. After refueling in Kenya, they landed in Entebbe, killed the terrorists, and saved nearly every hostage – all in 53 minutes.

No one had seen anything quite like the raid on Entebbe… until last week. On Friday, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the Iranian scientist considered to be “the driving force behind Iran’s nuclear weapons program for two decades,” was assassinated in Iran. To appreciate how remarkable this operation was, consider this: Fakhrizadeh traveled a different route to work every day, rode in a bulletproof car, and was accompanied by three personnel carriers that transported heavily armed bodyguards.

The assassins cut off electricity to the area surrounding the assassination and disabled all video cameras as well. They exploded a car next to Fakhrizadeh’s car and had a remote-control machine gun fire at Fakhrizadeh. The entire operation took three minutes. None of the assassins were killed or even wounded. All 12 (the number of assassins, according to Javad Mogouyi, a documentary filmmaker for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps) got away.

One would think that every decent human being would welcome the elimination of a man whose life was dedicated to the annihilation of another country. There is, after all, no parallel in the world to the Iranian regime’s repeatedly stated goal of annihilating Israel. And Israel – to the consternation of European leaders, the United Nations, and major American media – does whatever it takes to prevent itself from being annihilated.

John Brennan, the head of the CIA under President Barack Obama, strongly condemned the Fakhrizadeh assassination. Brennan, who has never abandoned the moral values he held when he was a communist, condemned the assassination as “a criminal act” and “highly reckless” and labeled it “murder” and “state-sponsored terrorism.

He asked Iran to “resist the urge” to retaliate and “wait for the return of responsible American leadership on the global stage.” In other words, wait until the Holocaust-denying, Islamo-fascist, America-hating, genocide-seeking Iranian regime is appeased by a Democrat in the White House.

A United Nations spokesman said, “We condemn any assassination or extrajudicial killing.”

A spokesperson for the European Union called Fakhrizadeh’s killing “a criminal act” that “runs counter to the principle of respect for human rights the EU stands for.”

A New York Times opinion piece said the assassination “could strengthen hard-line factions in Iran arguing against a return to diplomacy.” This statement embodies the naiveté of the world’s left, including liberals: that evil regimes are composed of “hard-line factions” and “moderate factions.”

The author of the Times opinion piece, Barbara Slavin of the Atlantic Council, added that the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany should “issue a statement condemning the assassination as illegal under international law and damaging to the cause of nonproliferation.” She said, “It would be the ultimate tragedy if Israel’s aggression now led Iran to change its calculus and go for weapons.”

To the left around the world, Israel is the villain here, not Iran.

Upon returning to France, Michel Bacos – the heroic captain of the plane hijacked in 1973 who refused the opportunity to return to France and insisted on remaining with the kidnapped Jews – “was reprimanded by his superiors at Air France and temporarily suspended from duty,” according to The Jerusalem Post (Aug. 3, 2006). Such are the values of our European allies.

PARSHAS VAYICHI 2020

Shabbos Parshas VaYechi – January 2, 2020

Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks Torah – The Conflict of Brothers

Yosef’s Forgiveness 

Resh Lakish and Repentance

Life of My Mother Jean Morgenstern

April 1865 – The Month That Saved America by Jay Winick

President Abraham Lincoln and General Ulysses S. Grant

Surrender at Appomattox

The First Ramban on Parshas VaYechi

The First Kli Yakar on Parshas VaYechi

The Right Honourable
The Lord Sacks
Sacks smiling

Family Update:

We drove back from Toronto to Chicago this past Sunday. December 28th.   My  mother-in-law came back from Baycrest where she was rehabbing from surgery for a broken hip.  She has not changed.    Serka came down with Covid and we decided to head back to Chicago.   Serka  still has a loss of smell and taste.  She finished her quarantine since she got Covid and tested positive.  I have to quarantine for another week.  I am listening to Carlbach as I am writing this.

On Shabbos, I read about 100 pages of the book, April 1865 – The Month that Saved America by Jay Winik written in 2001.

Rabbi Sacks:

Rabbi Sacks has a 7 page Torah Vort in his book  Covenant and Conversation titled, The Future of the Past.   Rabbi Sacks focuses on Bereshis 50:19-20 –  Pages 341-342:

The brothers told Joseph the following in Verse 50:15- 16

  וַיְצַוּ֕וּ אֶל־יוֹסֵ֖ף לֵאמֹ֑ר אָבִ֣יךָ צִוָּ֔ה לִפְנֵ֥י מוֹת֖וֹ לֵאמֹֽר׃

So they sent this message to Joseph, “Before his death your father left this instruction:

כֹּֽה־תֹאמְר֣וּ לְיוֹסֵ֗ף אָ֣נָּ֡א שָׂ֣א נָ֠א פֶּ֣שַׁע אַחֶ֤יךָ וְחַטָּאתָם֙ כִּי־רָעָ֣ה גְמָל֔וּךָ וְעַתָּה֙ שָׂ֣א נָ֔א לְפֶ֥שַׁע עַבְדֵ֖י אֱלֹהֵ֣י אָבִ֑יךָ וַיֵּ֥בְךְּ יוֹסֵ֖ף בְּדַבְּרָ֥ם אֵלָֽיו׃

So shall you say to Joseph, ‘Forgive, I urge you, the offense and guilt of your brothers who treated you so harshly.’ Therefore, please forgive the offense of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph was in tears as they spoke to him. 

Joseph probably knew that his father never told his brothers what they claimed.  Rabbi Sacks says ”Yet Joseph takes his brothers seriously – not because he believes them but because the very fact that they say this indicates that they are still feeling anxious and guilty.  His response is majestic in its generosity, as follows:

וַיֹּ֧אמֶר אֲלֵהֶ֛ם יוֹסֵ֖ף אַל־תִּירָ֑אוּ כִּ֛י הֲתַ֥חַת אֱלֹהִ֖ים אָֽנִי׃       

But Joseph said to them, “Have no fear! Am I a substitute for God?

וְאַתֶּ֕ם חֲשַׁבְתֶּ֥ם עָלַ֖י רָעָ֑ה אֱלֹהִים֙ חֲשָׁבָ֣הּ לְטֹבָ֔ה לְמַ֗עַן עֲשֹׂ֛ה כַּיּ֥וֹם הַזֶּ֖ה לְהַחֲיֹ֥ת עַם־רָֽב׃

Besides, although you intended me harm, God intended it for good, so as to bring about the                                     present  result—the survival of many people. 

Rabbi Sacks writes in page 342 of his book,  “As we have already discussed, this final scene is the resolution of one of  the central problems of the book of Genesis:  the continuing theme of sibling rivalry.  A book replete with tensions, hatred and competition ends with forgiveness.  This closing is essential to the biblical drama of redemption, for if brothers cannot live together, how can nations?  And if nations cannot live together, how can the human world survive?  Only now with the reconciliation of Joseph and his brothers, can the story move on to ther birth of Isael as a nation, passing from the crucible of slavery  to the constitution of freedom as a people under the sovereignty of God.”

April 1865 – The Month That Saved the Union:

How appropriate that  over Shabbos  I read about 100 pages from Jay Winik’s book, April 1865.   The Civil War pitted brother against brother.  It is the same theme that Rabbi Sacks talks about, the need to heal the rupture so that the future can move forward.  President Abraham understood that just like he won the war, he had to win the peace.  

I quote from page 208 of Jay Winik’s book, “After four bloody years of reaching for the Confederacy’s jugular, Lincoln’s humanity is unchanged,  This avatar of total war is a staunch advocate of a soft peace, a generous peace, a magnanimous peace, just as Grant has carried out at Appomattox.   It is his River Queen doctrine writ large.  So passionately does he feel about this matter that he will directly tell his cabinet today, in no uncertain words, there is “no greater or more important [issue] before us, or any future Cabinet” than Reconstruction.”

Surrender At Appomattox:

Jay Winik writes on page 193.  “Appomattox was not preordained.  There were no established rules or well-worn script.  If anything, retribution had been the larger and longer precedent.  So, if these moments teemed with hope — and they did — it was largely due to two men, who rose to the occasion, to Grant’s and Lee’s respective actions; one general, magnanimous in victory, the other, gracious and equally dignified in defeat, the two of them, for their own reasons and in their ways, fervently interested in beginning the process to bind up the wounds of the last four years.  And yes. If, paradoxically these were among Lee’s finest hours, and they were, so, too, were they Grant’s greatest moments.”

General Ulysses S. Grant treated General Robert E. Lee and the surrender of Lee’s army with dignity and tenderness.  The Union allowed General Lee’s men to surrender with dignity.  There was a stacking of the arms and acknowledgment that the men who were surrendering were honorable and deserving of respect.   General Grant carried out President Abraham Lincoln’s orders at City Point (General Grant’s command post) that there will be no bloody work and no  hangings.  This was atypical of war where the victors exact punishment on the defeated army with hangings, killings, and brutality.

The second half of Rabbi Jonathan Sack’s Torah is what I want to explain and is what animates me.

Yoma 86B states in the name of Resh Lakish:

אמר ריש לקיש גדולה תשובה שזדונות נעשות לו כשגגות שנאמר (הושע יד, ב) שובה ישראל עד ה’ אלהיך כי כשלת בעונך הא עון מזיד הוא וקא קרי ליה מכשול איני והאמר ריש לקיש גדולה תשובה שזדונות נעשות לו כזכיות שנאמר (יחזקאל לג, יט) ובשוב רשע מרשעתו ועשה משפט וצדקה עליהם (חיה) יחיה לא קשיא כאן מאהבה כאן מיראה

Reish Lakish said: Great is repentance, as the penitent’s intentional sins are counted for him as unwitting transgressions, as it is stated: “Return, Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled in your iniquity” (Hosea 14:2). The Gemara analyzes this: Doesn’t “iniquity” mean an intentional sin? Yet the prophet calls it stumbling, implying that one who repents is considered as though he only stumbled accidentally in his transgression. The Gemara asks: Is that so? Didn’t Reish Lakish himself say: Great is repentance, as one’s intentional sins are counted for him as merits, as it is stated: “And when the wicked turns from his wickedness, and does that which is lawful and right, he shall live thereby” (Ezekiel 33:19), and all his deeds, even his transgressions, will become praiseworthy? The Gemara reconciles: This is not difficult: Here, when one repents out of love, his sins become like merits; there, when one repents out of fear, his sins are counted as unwitting transgressions.

Rabbi Sacks asks – we understand that repentance can change your intent  from intentional sins to unwitting transgressions.    However, how does your deliberate sin count as merits.  How do you change the reality of what you did? It has been done, it is part of the past.  Even the Pasuk that Resh Lakish brings down in Ezekial does not support what Resh Lakish says.  The Pasuk says that he will live in the future but not that his past wrongdoing is a merit.

Rabbi Sacks answered that “once the brothers had undergone complete repentance, their original intent was cancelled out.  It was now possible to see the good, as well as the bad consequences of their act – and to attribute the former (good acts) to them.  Strpped of their initial aim, the act could instead be defined by what part it played in a providential drama whose outcome was only now fully apparent in retrospect.”  God wanted Joseph to be sold down to Egypt.  If the brothers had not sold Joseph perhaps on  his way back home, Joseph would have been kidnapped.  What the brothers did was wrong, however, now since they regretted their actions, their original intent is cancelled out and their sale of Joseph  is part of God’s divine plan.  This is what Yosef told the brothers in Verses 50:19-20.  

This is the story of my mother’s life.  She made major  mistakes in her life.  She had to pick herself off the mat, fight for everything, suffer setbacks, and in the end this humble person whose prospects for a good life initially seemed unattainable, became the matriarch of a glorious family.   Her children and grandchildren flourished, raised beautiful families, found success in America, and lived the American dream.   When my mother died in late 2017 she had over 140 living children, grandchildren, great grandchildren.  The number is now approaching 150.  My mother’s mistakes ended up becoming the foundation for a great and glorious family.  Her mistakes became merits.     This is what my sister Karen told my mother after my mother got sick.  My mother was confined to the house and no longer able to come and go.  All she did was sit and replay her  life in her mind.    She expressed her anguish to Karen about her mistakes.  Karen responded, Ma look what your mistakes produced, a Pesach and an Arela and their families.  Look at Lisa and Mitch.  We should only be so lucky.

I must add that my grandparents Sholem and Chana Feigal Sklar came to America and stayed Orthodox.  They did not change.  My grandfather did not change in America, kept his beard, and lived his life as he lived in Europe.    Zedi had 6 brothers and sisters in America that came before him and none remained Orthodox.  They told him that here in America you have to become American and shave your beard.  Initially, his siblings did have success with Esther Diamond brothers getting PHDs from the University of Chicago and working on the Manhattan project.  However, in 2020 all  his 6 brothers and sisters may have 50 descendants, only two Orthodox.  However in terms of success in America Zedi and Bubi’s kids have succeeded beyond expectations in 1923 living on Maxwell Street.  They now have over 250 descendents including Torah scholars, doctors, lawyers, businessmen and of course myself.

I saw a very nice Ramban at the beginning of the Sedra:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nachmanides

ויחי יעקב בארץ מצרים שבע עשרה שנה כבר הזכרתי (לעיל מג יד) כי רדת יעקב למצרים הוא גלותינו היום ביד החיה הרביעית (דניאל ז ז) רומי הרשעה כי בני יעקב הם עצמם סבבו רדתם שם במכירת יוסף אחיהם ויעקב ירד שם מפני הרעב וחשב להנצל עם בנו בבית אוהב לו כי פרעה אוהב את יוסף וכבן* לו והיו סבורים לעלות משם ככלות הרעב מארץ כנען כמו שאמרו (לעיל מז ד) לגור בארץ באנו כי אין מרעה לצאן אשר לעבדיך כי כבד הרעב בארץ כנען והנה לא עלו אבל ארך עליהם הגלות ומת שם ועלו עצמותיו   וזקני פרעה ושריו העלוהו ועשו עמו אבל כבד וכן אנחנו עם רומי ואדום אחינו הסיבונו ביאתינו בידם כי כרתו ברית עם הרומיים ואגריפס המלך האחרון לבית שני ברח אליהם לעזרה ומפני הרעב נלכדו אנשי ירושלים והגלות ארך עלינו מאד לא נודע קצו כשאר הגליות ואנחנו בו כמתים אומרים יבשו עצמותינו נגזרנו לנו ויעלו אותנו מכל העמים מנחה לה’** ויהיה להם אבל כבד בראותם כבודנו*** ואנחנו נראה בנקמת ה’ יקימנו ונחיה לפניו****:

*I thought this was not true.  I have written that Pharaoh viewed Yosef as his hatchet man based on a Pasuk in Miktaz.  Perhaps both are true that he did love Yoseph.  At the same time when needed, he made Yoseph a scapegoat and his hatchet man.  

** I believe this was fulfilled in the first half of the 20th century starting with the Balfour Declaration and ending with 1948 when the State of Israel was declared.

*** Perhaps this is what has and is what is happening over the last 50 years starting with the UN and spreading to the EU. They cannot accept Israel’s great success and use it to better the Arab world and the entire world.  Rather than harnessing the entrepreneurship and energy of Israel, they choose to attempt to hurt and destroy Israel, keeping over 1 Billion people enslaved to poverty, religious fanatics, megalomaniacs, without hope for the future.   

**** We want the world to be a partner with the Jews and Israel, and not face retribution.

I also spent time on this Kli Yakar:   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shlomo_Ephraim_Luntschitz

ויחי יעקב בארץ מצרים וגו’. למה פרשה זו סתומה, אלא כיון שנפטר יעקב התחיל השעבוד ד״א שבקש לגלות הקץ ונסתם ממנו. ד״א שנסתמו ממנו כל צרות שבעולם. כך היא הנוסחא בב״ר (צו א) כפי הנראה שאין סמך מן המקרא לכל הדרשות האלו וכולם כמתנבאים. ואשר נראה לי בזה לפי שמצינו כאן סתימה שלא כדרך הפרשיות הסתומות שבתורה שיש בהם ריוח לפחות כשיעור פרשה סתומה, וכאן אין ריוח כלל ודאי שכונת עזרא הסופר להסמיך פסוק ויחי לפסוק שלפניו וישב ישראל בארץ גושן ויאחזו בה ויפרו וירבו מאד ויחי יעקב וגו’. כאילו היה הכל פסוק אחד, ע״כ נחלקו ג’ לשונות אלו במשמעות דורשין.

כי ללשון ראשון הדורש, שכיון שנפטר יעקב התחיל השיעבוד יהיה קישור שני פסוקים אלו על זה האופן, כי מתחילה אמר וישב ישראל בארץ גושן הורה בלשון ישיבה שהיה להם ישיבה של שלוה ומנוחה, ויאחזו שהיה להם גם אחוזה בארץ ויפרו וירבו מאד, וכל זה היה בזמן ויחי יעקב כי בחייו עמד להם זכות יעקב שזכו לכל אלה, מכלל שבמותו פסק זכותו ופסק הכל, כי לא היה להם עוד ישיבה של שלום מצד השעבוד, וכ״ש שלא היחה להם אחוזה בארץ כי עבדים המה, וכן לא ניתן להם לפרות ולרבות כי בקשו להמעיטם ע״י העינוי באמרם פן ירבה, ולפי זה היתה מיתת יעקב סבת השעבוד.

ונוכל לומר בהפך זה, שהתחלת השעבוד היה סבת מיתתו כי קיצר הקדוש ברוך הוא שנותיו שלא הגיע לימי אבותיו שלא יראה בשעבוד בניו, כי בא הזמן של ועבדום וענו אותם. לכך נאמר ויקרבו ימי ישראל למות ואמרו רבותינו ז״ל (בר״ר צו ד) כל מי שנאמר בו קריבה לא הגיע לימי אבותיו, ובדרך זה יהיה הסמיכות מבואר ג״כ כמו בדרך ראשון, ומספר י״ז שנה דנקט לומר שמכירתו של יוסף שהיה בן י״ז שנה, גרם להם שלא ישבו בשלום במצרים כ״א י״ז שנה.

וללשון שלישי הדורש, לפי שנסתמו ממנו כל צרות שבעולם יאמר הכתוב אע״פ שהיה כל ימיו בצרה וגרות כמ״ש ימי מגורי ק״ל שנה מעט ורעים, מ״מ לגודל השלוה שהיה לו תוך י״ז שנים שראה ישיבת בניו בשלום ויאחזו בארץ ויפרו וירבו נשכחו ממנו כל הצרות הראשונות שעברו עליו והיו כלא היו, לכך נאמר ויהי ימי יעקב שני חייו קמ״ז שנה כי אותן ק״ל שנים לא היו נחשבים מכלל ימי חייו לגודל צרותיו, ועכשיו למפרע נחשבו כולם שני חייו, וזה לפי שנסתמו ממנו כל הצרות שעברו וכאילו היה חי חיים נעימים ועריבים בכל שנותיו, שהרי באמת יוסף היה חי, לכך סמך ויחי יעקב אל הפסוק הקודם, ומה שהשמיט רש״י לשון זה לפי שנראה לו שהיינו הך הלשון ראשון כאשר הוא מבואר למבין בהתבוננות מעט.

ואולם הלשון השני הדורש, שבקש לגלות הקץ ונסתלקה ממנו השכינה, לפי שבא לתרץ מהו שאמר ויחי יעקב בארץ מצרים י״ז שנה מאי קמ״ל, וכי עדיין לא ידענו שהיה במצרים י״ז שנה, שהרי בבואו לפני פרעה אמר ימי מגורי ק״ל שנה, וא״כ למה הוצרך לומר שהיה חי במצרים י״ז שנה, ועוד למה לא הזכיר לשון זה באברהם ויצחק או אמהות, אלא ודאי שבא להורות שפרשה השכינה ממנו, לפי שנאמר למעלה ותחי רוח יעקב אביהם, שפירושו ששרתה עליו השכינה מדקאמר רוח יעקב, וסד״א ששרתה עליו רוח הקודש כל הימים עד יום מותו, קמ״ל ויחי יעקב בארץ מצרים כי בבואו למצרים חי יעקב אבל לא רוח יעקב שנסתלקה ממנו השכינה מיד, לפי שאמר אמותה הפעם אחרי ראותי את פניך, וא״כ מיד היה מוכן אל הצואה לצוות מחמת מיתה והיה חושש הקב״ה פן יגלה הקץ על כן נסתלקה ממנו השכינה, ועדיין לא ידענו מאיזו טעם נסתלקה שכינה ממנו, ע״כ באה פרשה זו סתומה לסמכה לפסוק וישב ישראל בארץ גושן, לפי שמהידוע שימשך נזק גדול מן ידיעת הקץ, כי הדורות הקודמים היודעים שהגאולה לא תהיה בימיהם לא ידרשו את פני ה’ לבקש על הגאולה ועל התמורה.

וכן פירש בעקידה, על המדרש (ילקו״ש קנז מט) האומר כשבקש יעקב לגלות הקץ אמר הקב״ה ולא אותי קראת יעקב (ישעיה מג כב) ר״ל שלא היית חס על כבודי, כי מידיעה זו ימשך נזק זה שלא יקראו אותי ולא יבקשו פני הדורות הקודמים ויבקשו לישב וכמתיאשים מן הגאולה, על כן סתם וחתם ה’ הקץ האחרון כדי שבכל דור ודור יבקשו את פני ה’ ואת דוד מלכם ויהיו מחכים קץ ישועתו תמיד, כאשר בעונינו מדה זו מצוייה בינינו אפילו בזמן שאין הקץ נודע מ״מ רבים המה עמי הארץ המתישבים בארצות העמים ובונין להם בתים ספונים וחשובים ושל אבנים בנין הקיום, ובסבה זו לעולם אינן דורשין את פני ה’ בכל לב להביאם אל ארצם, וע״כ הקב״ה מניחם שמה, 

ולהנחה זו פסוק וישב ישראל בארץ גושן. מדבר באשמת ישראל, שבקשו להיות חושבים ולהיות להם אחוזה בארץ לא להם, ונזק זה בא להם לפי שקץ גלות מצרים היה נודע להם, על כן הדורות הראשונים אשר ידעו בבירור כי לא בימיהם תהיה הגאולה ההוא בקשו להם ישיבה של קבע ואחוזה בארץ מצרים, על כן סמך לפסוק זה פסוק ויחי יעקב דלהורות שנזק זה הנמשך לאותן הדורות מחמת שהיה קצם נודע גרם לויחי יעקב אבל לא רוח יעקב, כי אם יעקב לבדו היה חי כדי שלא יגלה הקץ לאחרון ושלא יתפשט נזק זה לדורות.

Jean Morgenstern – Second Yahrzeit

Shayna Bas Sholem and Chana Feigel 

December 30, 2020 – 16 Teves 5781 

My grandparents Sholem and Chana Feigel Sklar came to America in late 1923.  My mother was born on April 27, 1924.  Shirley was already born back in Europe, Beverly came in 1929, and the last girl, Altie, was born in 1939.

It was an immigrant life.  The 1929 depression hit when my mother was five. The depression helped shape my mother’s life.  My mother married her first husband in 1943 and had two kids. Pesach in 1943 and Arela in 1946.  She divorced and married my father in 1948.  My older sister, Lisa, was born in 1950. I entered this world right before Kol Nidrei 1953. The baby of the family, Karen, was born in 1955.   My mother was a typical housewife who took care of the kids while my father worked.  She had no independence. She did not have a license, and had no money of her own.  It was not a good marriage and my parents divorced in 1966.    My mother got a divorce in a time when there was a stigma, and the emotional turmoil must have been draining. She was 42 and had to build up her life.  She had a job in the typing pool of Kemper Insurance, however, pay was low.  

Her first success was when she learned how to drive.  Our next-door neighbor, the Marrettis, helped teach Ma how to drive and she got her license.  This gave her independence.  She purchased their white car.  Pesach actually drove the car Chal Hamoad Succos from Chicago to Toronto to work.  I  remember Pesach saying, that to stay up, he would say “50 miles to Kalamaaazoo, Kalamaaazoo.  25 miles to Kalamaaazoo.”  Her next life success was when she bought a brand new green, 1971 Plymouth Duster.  One of the greatest smells in the world from Hashem is the new car smell.  My mother got to experience it in a car bought with her own money.   These two successes may seem small to most people but to my mother they were affirming that she is a success.

The green Duster became famous in Lakewood, and with the Chase boys driving it, sometimes in questionable circumstances.

In 1980  Ma was 56 years old and she moved to Lakewood to take care of her parents.  Uncle Yosef (Yasif) called and said that she has to come to Lakewood to take care of her parents, otherwise they would  end up in a nursing home.  I had a number of conversations with my mother.  I was very direct with her, but always told her during every conversation that it was her choice.   She decided to move to Lakewood.  Just by the mere mention that Ma was coming, Bubi and Zedi felt better.  My mother had an aura of competence, that she will take care of everything, everything will be fine.

In 1993 after my Bubi dies, Ma moves back to Chicago.  She was always there for everyone.  She took care of Naftali, gave him a quality of life that is unsurpassed.  She once told Sidney that God has to make her live a long life because she has to take care of Naftali. She took the boys to and from Yeshiva and took Hudi to  college every day. She  brought pizza to the boys in Telz and would let them go to Blockbuster Video to rent movies when their parents were out of town. She brought Challah and groceries for us, and so many other favors that are innumerable.   Every night as my mother laid down to sleep, she had to go over in her mind her schedule for the next day.  I admit I was a big beneficiary of Ma’s largesse and I make no excuses for it.   

This all changed in 2014 when my mother turned 90 and her health started to deteriorate,   לֹא־אוּכַ֥ל ע֖וֹד לָצֵ֣את וְלָב֑וֹא. 

Ma is the person referred to in the following Torah Temimah in this week’s Sedra.  What Siaatta Dismaya I had in finding the Torah Temimah.  The Torah Temimah decided to put in an obscure Avos D’Rav Noson on this week’s Torah portion.   I believe that this was put in by the Torah Temimah just for my mother.   The 11th Perek of Avos D’Rav Nosson states that Rabbi Tarfon says that people die because of idleness.  Even if someone does not have a job  because he or she  does not need it, they should still find any type of work and not be idle.  This was my mother; she had responsibility up until age 90.  It was amazing that my mother in her 80s was as active as someone in their 50s.  This kept her alive, relevant, young and integral to the family  She was needed and was always present.  Contrast this with people who retire and have nothing to do. They sit on a couch and just deteriorate.  I saw this happen to a close relative of mine.

ויגוע ויאסף. א”ר טרפון. אין אדם מת אלא מתוך הבטלה, שנאמר ויגוע ויאסף מזאין באור לזה, והמפרש עמל הרבה בדברים דחוקים, ונראה פשוט דסמך ארישא דקרא ויכל יעקב לצות את בניו ויגוע ויאסף, וכל זמן שהיה מצוה היה חי, ומכיון שפסק מלצוות גוע, ורמז הוא שאין אדם מת אלא מתוך הבטלה, ונ”מ בזה מבואר בפרק זה באדר”ן שישתדל כל אדם לתור לו איזו מלאכה להתעסק בה אף שא”צ לה רק שלא ישב בטל, ומסמיך זה אפסוקים שונים, יעו”ש. וע’ מש”כ השייך לענין זה לעיל בפ’ נח בפ’ ויום ולילה לא ישבתו. [אדר”נ פ’ י”א].

My mother was also a living example of a Rashbam in Shmos 22:6, cited below.

The Torah talks about two types of Shomrim – guardians in Parsha Mishpatim.  One is someone who watches a vessel and if it gets stolen the Shomer does not have to compensate the owner.  The second Shomer is someone who agrees to watch an animal.  If the animal is stolen the Shomer has to pay the owner for his loss.   The Gemora says the reason why the first Shomer is exempt from compensation is that he is an unpaid guardian while the second one is paid for his services therefore he has to accept more responsibility and if the animal is stolen,he must pay the owner for his loss.   The difference is whether or not the Shomer is paid for his services.

However, the Rashbam says that this is not the plain meaning for the text.  The Rashbam explains  that in the case of the guardian who agrees to watch a vessel, he just puts it on a shelf and only agrees to exert minimal effort and therefore less responsibility.    However, in the second case the Shomer has agreed to actually watch an animal.  

Since an animal takes much more effort, the Shomer has agreed that he will make an extra effort to properly watch the animal.   Therefore, he has to pay if the animal is stolen despite not being compensated.  The difference is in what the guardian agreed to do upfront.  Of course, in this world, the  Bais Din cannot force the guardian to pay unless he is being compensated, however, theologically he should have to pay.  In life we have to take on responsibility even if it may cost us.   We can never just wash our hands and say, “not my problem”.  We may lose sleep and become emotionally beat up, but we have to be counted.  In life we have to be engaged, and responsible for our family, for our world.   We do not want to be superficially connected, acting freely and not being bothered.  We cannot let life go by taking cruises, having one day fold into the next day just worried about ourselves or what to wear, what to eat, and where to vacation.  This is not true life. We have to be responsible. 

Perhaps you can say that this is also an interpretation in the Gemara in Shabbos 31A:  

אָמַר רָבָא: בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁמַּכְנִיסִין אָדָם לְדִין, אוֹמְרִים לוֹ: נָשָׂאתָ וְנָתַתָּ בָּאֱמוּנָה?

With regard to the same verse, Rava said: After departing from this world, when a person is brought to judgment for the life he lived in this world, they say to him in the order of that verse: Did you conduct business faithfully?

The plain meaning is as stated “Did you conduct business faithfully?”  However perhaps the saying of Rava also means did you carry yourself and did you give of yourself faithfully?  Did you escape responsibility or were you connected? Did you, for the last years of your life, just sit on the couch involved in your narcissistic needs? Or were you there for your family, your friends and other Jews?  Hashem understands that for most of one’s life people are working and raising kids. But afterwards, in retirement, in the last 10+ years of your life,  were you counted or absent?  Rabbi Efraim Twerski said that my Pshat is farfetched.  I said that I will call it Drush. 

Rashbam – Shmos 22:6:

כי יתן איש אל רעהו כסף או כלים לשמור – בפרשה זו פוטר את השומר מגנבה ואבדה ובפרשה שניה מחייבו בגנבה ואבדה. ופירשו רבותינו: ראשונה בשומר חנם, שניה בשומר שכר. ולפי פשוטו של מקרא: פרשה ראשונה שכתוב בה: כי יתן איש אל רעהו כסף או כלים לשמר – מטלטלין הם ולשומרם בתוך ביתו כשאר חפציו נתנן לו, לפיכך אם נגנבו בביתו פטור, כי שמרן כשמירת חפציו. אבל פרשה שניה שכתוב בה: כי יתן איש אל רעהו חמור או שור או שה וכל בהמה לשמור – ודרך בהמות לרעות בשדה ודאי כשהפקידם על מנת לשומרם מגנבים הפקידם לו ואם נגנבו חייב.

Summation:

I believe that this is who my mother was. She was always accepting extra responsibly and gave her utmost to others. Up until the age 90 she was actively involved with all her kids, whether it was carpools, shopping, or being that extra pair of hands for whoever needed help.

Parshas Chaya Sara – November 14, 2020

November 10, 2020 – first day out of quarantine.  I was very depressed yesterday because I had no clue what Rabbi Revah was talking about  in the Shiur,  I spent 3.5 hours working on the Shiur and I am 75%restored.  I think I now understand the Shiur.  The next day I am again depressed because the Shiur was above me.  I have to review.

Bubi Blanche is doing as expected.  Serka is going tonight to visit for the allotted three hours.  

First Vort on the Sedra:

Pasuk 23:2 says:

וַתָּ֣מָת שָׂרָ֗ה בְּקִרְיַ֥ת אַרְבַּ֛ע הִ֥וא חֶבְר֖וֹן בְּאֶ֣רֶץ כְּנָ֑עַן וַיָּבֹא֙ אַבְרָהָ֔ם לִסְפֹּ֥ד לְשָׂרָ֖ה וְלִבְכֹּתָֽהּ׃

Rashi comments as to why the city was called:

בקרית ארבע. עַל שֵׁם אַרְבַּע עֲנָקִים שֶׁהָיוּ שָׁם, אֲחִימָן שֵׁשַׁי וְתַלְמַי וַאֲבִיהֶם. דָּ”אַ עַל שֵׁם אַרְבַּע זוּגוֹת שֶׁנִקְבְּרוּ שָׁם אִישׁ וְאִשְׁתּוֹ, אָדָם וְחַוָּה, אַבְרָהָם וְשָׂרָה, יִצְחָק וְרִבְקָה, יַעֲקֹב וְלֵאָה (בראשית רבה):

Rashi brings down two reason when Chevron was called קִרְיַ֥ת אַרְבַּ֛ע.  

  1. It was named after the four giants who lived there
  2. The four pairs buried in Cnevron

Thesource of the first reason is from a Verse in Yehushua 14>15 – וְשֵׁ֨ם חֶבְר֤וֹן לְפָנִים֙ קִרְיַ֣ת אַרְבַּ֔ע הָאָדָ֧ם הַגָּד֛וֹל בָּעֲנָקִ֖ים ה֑וּא וְהָאָ֥רֶץ שָׁקְטָ֖ה מִמִּלְחָמָֽה׃ 

The name of Hebron was formerly Kiriath-arba: [Arba] was the great man among the Anakites. And the land had rest from war.

Rashi on Verse 14:15 in Yehoshua

הָאָדָם הַגָּדוֹל בָּעֲנָקִים הוּא אֲבִיהֶם שֶׁל אֲחִימָן שֵׁשַׁי וְתַלְמַי, אַרְבַּע הָיָה שְׁמוֹ. דָּבָר אַחֵר: עַל שֵׁם הָאָב וּשְׁלשָׁה בָּנִים, שֶׁכֵּן קוֹרֵא אוֹתָם (שם יג כב): יְלִידֵי הָעֲנָק.

The greatest man among the giants. The father of Achimon, Sheishai, and Talmai was Arba.7Chevron was the home of these four famous giants, the three brothers and their father. Another explanation: [It was called Kiryas-arba, the city of four]8 because of the father and the three sons, for they are referred to as the offspring of the “Anak,” [the giant].9

Rashi in Yehoshua gives two reasons and Rashi selected the second reason that he gave in Yehoshua for here in Chaya Sarah.  

How are we to understand the second explanation in Rashi here in Bereshis that the city was called קִרְיַ֥ת אַרְבַּ֛ע because of the four pairs buried in Chevon when in Yehoshua we are told that it is because of the four giants?  

The Netziv in Hemek Davar answers this question that this second explanation is not the reason why the city is called קרית ארבע, but rather why Hashem arranged it that Sarah would die in   קרית ארבע .  Because that is where she was to be buried.   Sara and Avrohom lived in Beer Sheva, with Chevron being roughly 20 miles north of Chevron, and Har Hamoriah being 15 miles north of Chevron.   As the Netziv says  משום הדרש ששם ראוי להקבר ארבע אבות העולם and her death there was a sign to Avrohom to bury her in  קִרְיַ֥ת אַרְבַּ֛ע .

The problem with the Hemek Davar is that it seems based on Rashi’s Bereshis 21:24 that Avrohim moved to Chevron 12 years before the Akedah.  Rashi as follows:

ימים רבים. מְרֻבִּים עַל שֶׁל חֶבְרוֹן. בְּחֶבְרוֹן עָשָׂה כ”ה שָׁנָה וְכָאן כ”ו, שֶׁהֲרֵי בֶּן ע”ה שָׁנָה הָיָה בְּצֵאתוֹ מֵחָרָן, אוֹתָהּ שָׁנָה וַיָבֹא וַיֵּשֶׁב בְּאֵלֹנֵי מַמְרֵא, שֶׁלֹּא מָצִינוּ קֹדֶם לָכֵן שֶׁנִּתְיַשֵּׁב אֶלָּא שָׁם, שֶׁבְּכָל מְקוֹמוֹתָיו הָיָה כְּאוֹרֵחַ חוֹנֶה וְנוֹסֵעַ וְהוֹלֵך, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וַיַּעֲבֹר אַבְרָם, וַיַּעְתֵּק מִשָּׁם, וַיְהִי רָעָב בָּאָרֶץ וַיֵּרֶד אַבְרָם מִצְרַיְמָה (בראשית י”ב), וּבְמִצְרַיִם לֹא עָשָׂה אֶלָּא שְׁלֹשָׁה חֳדָשִׁים שֶׁהֲרֵי שְׁלָחוֹ פַרְעֹה מִיָּד, וַיֵּלֶךְ לְמַסָּעָיו עַד וַיָּבֹא וַיֵּשֶׁב בְּאֵלֹנֵי מַמְרֵא אֲשֶׁר בְּחֶבְרוֹן (שם י”ג), שָׁם יָשַׁב עַד שֶׁנֶּהֱפְכָה סְדוֹם, מִיָּד וַיִּסַּע מִשָּׁם אַבְרָהָם מִפְּנֵי בוּשָׁה שֶׁל לוֹט וּבָא לְאֶרֶץ פְּלִשְׁתִּים, וּבֶן צ”ט שָׁנָה הָיָה, שֶׁהֲרֵי בַשְּׁלִישִׁי לְמִילָתוֹ בָּאוּ אֶצְלוֹ הַמַּלְאָכִים, הֲרֵי כ”ה שָׁנָה, וְכָאן כְּתִיב יָמִים רַבִּים, מְרֻבִּים עַל הָרִאשׁוֹנִים, וְלֹא בָא הַכָּתוּב לִסְתֹּם אֶלָּא לְפָרֵשׁ, וְאִם הָיוּ מְרֻבִּים עֲלֵיהֶם שְׁתֵּי שָׁנִים אוֹ יוֹתֵר הָיָה מְפָרְשָׁם, וְעַל כָּרְחֲךָ אֵינָם יְתֵרִים יוֹתֵר מִשָּׁנָה, הֲרֵי כ”ו שָׁנָה; מִיָּד יָצָא מִשָּׁם וְחָזַר לְחֶבְרוֹן, וְאוֹתָהּ שָׁנָה קָדְמָה לִפְנֵי עֲקֵדָתוֹ שֶׁל יִצְחָק י”ב שָׁנִים, בְּסֵדֶר עוֹלָם:

The problem is that is Bereshis  22:19  וַיָּ֤שָׁב אַבְרָהָם֙ אֶל־נְעָרָ֔יו וַיָּקֻ֛מוּ וַיֵּלְכ֥וּ יַחְדָּ֖ו אֶל־בְּאֵ֣ר שָׁ֑בַע וַיֵּ֥שֶׁב אַבְרָהָ֖ם בִּבְאֵ֥ר שָֽׁבַע׃ .    Abraham then returned to his servants, and they departed together for Beer-sheba; and Abraham stayed in Beer-sheba.

If Avrohom was living in Chevron why did he go to Beer Sheva after the Akeda.  The simple answer is that  while living in Chevron, Avrohom and Sarah went back to Beer Sheva at times and when the Akedah happened Avrohom was in Beer Sheva.  After i re[read Rashi on Verse 22”19 it appears that I am correct.

וישב אברהם בבאר שבע. לֹא יְשִׁיבָה מַמָּשׁ, שֶׁהֲרֵי בְּחֶבְרוֹן הָיָה יוֹשֵׁב, י”ב שָׁנִים לִפְנֵי עֲקֵדָתוֹ שֶׁל יִצְחָק יָצָא מִבְּאֵר שֶׁבַע וְהָלַךְ לוֹ לְחֶבְרוֹן, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וַיָּגָר אַבְרָהָם בְּאֶרֶץ פְּלִשְׁתִּים יָמִים רַבִּים, מְרֻבִּים מִשֶּׁל חֶבְרוֹן הָרִאשׁוֹנִים, וְהֵם כ”ו שָׁנָה, כְּמוֹ שֶׁפֵּרַשְׁנוּ לְמַעְלָה:

She died in Chevron to tell Avrohom that this is to be the place of her burial and why?  What was so special about Chevron.  The answer could be based on Rabbi Leibtag’s Shiur via Zoom to Boca Raton Synagogue on November 10, 2020.  Chevron is the place where Hashem told Avrohom in Bersehis Verse 18:19 why he is chosen by Hashem to discuss Sedom’s fate.  Avrohom represents Gods desire for the world to live with  צְדָקָ֖ה וּמִשְׁפָּ֑ט and Avrohom is to teach the world this message.     Power is not to be achieved for power’s sake and for domination and subjugation;  but for justice and charity, to feed the poor, to uplift the people of their kingdom and the entire world.  Avrohom will teach his children the message of  צְדָקָ֖ה וּמִשְׁפָּ֑ט and his children will forever continue to spread this message.       This is in contrast to Sedom who were evil and did not practice justice and charity.  This is the paradigm for Jewish leaders which was first achieved by Dovid Hamelech, see below.

Besersis – verse 19:19:   כִּ֣י יְדַעְתִּ֗יו לְמַעַן֩ אֲשֶׁ֨ר יְצַוֶּ֜ה אֶת־בָּנָ֤יו וְאֶת־בֵּיתוֹ֙ אַחֲרָ֔יו וְשָֽׁמְרוּ֙ דֶּ֣רֶךְ יְהוָ֔ה לַעֲשׂ֥וֹת צְדָקָ֖ה וּמִשְׁפָּ֑ט לְמַ֗עַן הָבִ֤יא יְהוָה֙ עַל־אַבְרָהָ֔ם אֵ֥ת אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּ֖ר עָלָֽיו׃

For I have singled him out, that he may instruct his children and his posterity to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is just and right, in order that the LORD may bring about for Abraham what He has promised him.”

Chevron represents the theological center for the Jewish people.  This is where Avrohom was told his legacy, the mission for his children  This mission for Jewish power was first achieved in the time of Dovid in the following Verses:

Schmuel 2 Verses 7:14-15

וַ.  .  .   וַיּ֤וֹשַׁע יְהוָה֙ אֶת־דָּוִ֔ד בְּכֹ֖ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר הָלָֽךְ

He stationed garrisons in Edom—he stationed garrisons in all of Edom—and all the Edomites became vassals of David. The LORD gave David victory wherever he went.

וַיִּמְלֹ֥ךְ דָּוִ֖ד עַל־כָּל־יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וַיְהִ֣י דָוִ֗ד עֹשֶׂ֛ה מִשְׁפָּ֥ט וּצְדָקָ֖ה לְכָל־עַמּֽוֹ׃

David reigned over all Israel, and David executed true justice among all his people.

1 Chronicles 18:14 –  וַיִּמְלֹ֥ךְ דָּוִ֖יד עַל־כָּל־יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וַיְהִ֗י עֹשֶׂ֛ה מִשְׁפָּ֥ט וּצְדָקָ֖ה לְכָל־עַמּֽוֹ׃

Rashi says on this   Pasuk:

משפט וצדקה. משך עצמו מלהלחם עוד ומלצאת ולבא עוד במלחמה והיה יושב ושופט תמיד ישראל בצדקה:

These theme of  צְדָקָ֖ה וּמִשְׁפָּ֑ט  appears throughout Tanach as the goal of the Jewish people.

F.  Yehuda & David and concept of teshuva

תהילים פרק עב

א  לִשְׁלֹמֹה:    אֱלֹהִים–מִשְׁפָּטֶיךָ, לְמֶלֶךְ תֵּן; וְצִדְקָתְךָ לְבֶן-מֶלֶךְ. ב  יָדִין

עַמְּךָ בְצֶדֶק;    וַעֲנִיֶּיךָ בְמִשְׁפָּט.-  יִשְׁפֹּט עֲנִיֵּי עָם יוֹשִׁיעַ, לִבְנֵי אֶבְיוֹן;

וִידַכֵּא עוֹשֵׁק…. י  מַלְכֵי תַרְשִׁישׁ וְאִיִּים,    מִנְחָה יָשִׁיבוּ;מַלְכֵי שְׁבָא וּסְבָא אֶשְׁכָּר

יַקְרִיבוּ. יא וְיִשְׁתַּחֲווּ-לוֹ כָל-מְלָכִים כָּל-גּוֹיִם יַעַבְדוּהוּ. יב  כִּי-יַצִּיל, אֶבְיוֹן מְשַׁוֵּעַ;

וְעָנִי, וְאֵין-עֹזֵר לוֹ. יג  יָחֹס, עַל-דַּל וְאֶבְיוֹן;וְנַפְשׁוֹת אֶבְיוֹנִים יוֹשִׁיעַ.

G.    What could have saved Jerusalem – according to Yirmiyahu

ירמיהו כ – 

    א כֹּה אָמַר ה’, רֵד בֵּית-מֶלֶךְ יְהוּדָה; וְדִבַּרְתָּ שָׁם, אֶת

הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה.  

ב וְאָמַרְתָּ, שְׁמַע דְּבַר-ה’, מֶלֶךְ יְהוּדָה, הַיֹּשֵׁב עַל-כִּסֵּא

דָוִד:  אַתָּה וַעֲבָדֶיךָ וְעַמְּךָ, הַבָּאִים בַּשְּׁעָרִים הָאֵלֶּה. 

 ג כֹּה אָמַר ה’, עֲשׂוּ מִשְׁפָּט וּצְדָקָה, וְהַצִּילוּ גָזוּל, מִיַּד עָשׁוֹק; וְגֵר יָתוֹם

וְאַלְמָנָה אַל-תֹּנוּ, אַל-תַּחְמֹסוּ…   ד  כִּי אִם-עָשׂוֹ תַּעֲשׂוּ אֶת-הַדָּבָר

הַזֶּה—וּבָאוּ בְשַׁעֲרֵי הַבַּיִת הַזֶּה מְלָכִים יֹשְׁבִים לְדָוִד עַל-כִּסְאוֹ…

ה  וְאִם לֹא תִשְׁמְעוּ ..-בִּי נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי נְאֻם-ה’, כִּי-לְחָרְבָּה יִהְיֶה הַבַּיִת הַזֶּה.

H. To “know God” – according to Yirmiyahu

In his ensuing rebuke of King Yehoyakim:

יג הוֹי בֹּנֶה בֵיתוֹ בְּלֹא-צֶדֶק, וַעֲלִיּוֹתָיו בְּלֹא מִשְׁפָּט…

.  טו הֲתִמְלֹךְ, כִּי אַתָּה מְתַחֲרֶה בָאָרֶז; אָבִיךָ הֲלוֹא אָכַל וְשָׁתָה, וְעָשָׂה

מִשְׁפָּט וּצְדָקָה–אָז, טוֹב לוֹ.  טז דָּן דִּין-עָנִי וְאֶבְיוֹן, אָז טוֹב;

הֲלוֹא-הִיא הַדַּעַת אֹתִי, נְאֻם-ה’.

The words of the Hemek Davar:

בקרית ארבע. לפי הפשט הוא אדון העיר או בונה העיר. אבל הרי נזכר כ״פ חברון ולא נזכר שם הלז. מזה יצא דרשת חז״ל כונה שניה כפרש״י ומשום זה היתה סיבה מן השמים שתמות בחברון אע״ג שהיתה דירתה עם אברהם בבאר שבע כמבואר גם אחר העקידה וישב אברהם בבאר שבע. וגם להלן כתיב ויצחק בא מבוא באר לחי רואי והוא יושב בארץ הנגב. והיינו באר שבע כדכתיב לעיל כ׳ א׳ ויסע משם אברהם ארצה הנגב. אבל שרה מתה באיזה סבה ממסבב הסבות בחברון. או כאשר שמעה מדבר העקידה הלכה אחרי אברהם ויצחק חיי רוחה ובאשר הלכו לארץ המוריה והוא ביהודה סמוך לחברון. באה לשם ומתה. וטעם סיבה זו מה׳ הוא באשר היתה קרית ארבע וע״כ הוא משום הדרש ששם ראוי להקבר ארבע אבות העולם. ואדה״ר היה הראשון לקבורה שם ואיש לא ידע מזה:

I emailed the below Torah to Rabbi Menachem Leibtag and he responded:

Thank you

and a very nice summary –

and it’s fine,

just one typo I found

This is in contract to Sedom… 

s/b in ‘contrast’ 

2)  Torah Vort:

Verse 23:5 says – וַיַּעֲנ֧וּ בְנֵי־חֵ֛ת אֶת־אַבְרָהָ֖ם לֵאמֹ֥ר לֽוֹ׃

The last two words of  לֵאמֹ֥ר לֽוֹ׃ are extra?

 The Hemek Dvar answers that they are not extra –

 לאמר לו. המה נתיישבו מה להשיב. ושלחו אחד מהם לאמר לו תשובתם. Meaning they talked about it among themselves and then sent a representative  to speak to Avrohom,   This does not seem to be a fully satisfying answer.  

Verse 23:8 says:

וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר אִתָּ֖ם לֵאמֹ֑ר אִם־יֵ֣שׁ אֶֽת־נַפְשְׁכֶ֗ם לִקְבֹּ֤ר אֶת־מֵתִי֙ מִלְּפָנַ֔י שְׁמָע֕וּנִי וּפִגְעוּ־לִ֖י בְּעֶפְר֥וֹן בֶּן־צֹֽחַר׃

and he said to them, “If it is your wish that I remove my dead for burial, you must agree to intercede for me with Ephron son of Zohar.

Rashi says:

פגעו לי. לְשוֹן בַּקָּשָׁה כְּמוֹ: אַל תִּפְגְּעִי בִּי (רות א’):

Translated as  –  ופגעו לי — This phrase signifies entreaty, as (Ruth 1:16) “Do not entreat (תפגעי) me”.

Rashi is telling us that the translation of וּפִגְעוּ־לִ֖י is not “introduce me to Ephron” , but rather they should request of  Ephron to  give the מְעָרַ֤ת הַמַּכְפֵּלָה֙ to me.  They were to make the sales pitch and not Avrohom, and this is what Onkelus says – 

וּמַלֵּיל עִמְּהוֹן לְמֵימָר אִם אִית רַעֲוָא בְנַפְשְׁכוֹן לְמִקְבַּר יָת מִיתִי מִן קֳדָמַי קַבִּילוּ מִנִּי וּבְעוּ לִי מִן עֶפְרוֹן בַּר צוֹחַר:

Insight – Avrohom did this very wisely.  He did not negotiate with Efron directly.  He asked the people of Ches to talk to Ephron, they should convince Ephon should sell his field to Avrohoim.  Avrohom gave ownership in what Avrohom wanted to the people of Ches, so that they will convince Eforn to sell.  This would make it easier for Avrohom to purchase the field.   This is a beautiful negotiation tactic to get buy-in from those around you.

Vort 3)

Verse 23:9

וְיִתֶּן־לִ֗י אֶת־מְעָרַ֤ת הַמַּכְפֵּלָה֙ אֲשֶׁר־ל֔וֹ אֲשֶׁ֖ר בִּקְצֵ֣ה שָׂדֵ֑הוּ בְּכֶ֨סֶף מָלֵ֜א יִתְּנֶ֥נָּה לִ֛י בְּתוֹכְכֶ֖ם לַאֲחֻזַּת־קָֽבֶר׃

Let him sell me the cave of Machpelah that he owns, which is at the edge of his land. Let him sell it to me, at the full price, for a burial site in your midst.”

Rashi says:  המכפלה. בַּית וַעֲלִיָּה עַל גַּבָּיו. דָּ”אַ שֶׁכְּפוּלָה בְּזוּגוֹת (עירובין נ”ג

Rashi defines for us the word מכפלה as a cave that had two floors.

Rashbam:

מערת המכפלה – כל הבקעה קרויה מכפלה כמו: ככר הירדן וכן מוכיח לפנינו: שדה עפרון אשר 

במכפלה.

The Rashbam translates  הַמַּכְפֵּלָה֙ as the name of valley where Efron’s property was located.  Ephron’s cave was located in the area called מַּכְפֵּלָה֙.  Proof is that in 23:17 the Torah says וַיָּ֣קָם שְׂדֵ֣ה עֶפְר֗וֹן אֲשֶׁר֙ בַּמַּכְפֵּלָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֖ר לִפְנֵ֣י מַמְרֵ֑א .  This fits in beautifully with the Rashbam, the field located in Machpelah which is before Mamre stood .  .   .  But according to Rashi what does verse 17 mean.  If Macpelah is a cave, what is the field in the cave?

Flow of the Pesukim:

 Avrohom tells Efron in Verse 9,  I want to purchase your cave.  Eforn answers in Verse  11 s and says I will give you the field and also the cave in it (the field).  Seemingly Efron is being magnanimous by saying you can not only have the cave but I will give you the entire field.  In verse 13 Avrohom responds to Efrorn’s offer and says I will purchase the field.  I really do not want it as a gift because all I need is the cave.  I will pay for your generous offer of the field and the cave will be a gift to me.  This is what Avrohom says, “I will purchase the field”. Avrohom does not mention the cave because Avrohom understood that Efron was offering the field because Efron really wanted to be paid.     Avrohom thus responded and said I will purchase the field and the cave is a throw in.  This gave Efron cover because he initially said to Avrohom in front of the people of Ches,  Avorhom responded in verse 13 by saying I will buy the field and the cave is really a free bonus to me.  Ephfron can appear magnanimous to his people while getting the  money he wanted.   

With this we can answer another question.  Verse 23:16 – וַיִּשְׁמַ֣ע אַבְרָהָם֮ אֶל־עֶפְרוֹן֒ וַיִּשְׁקֹ֤ל אַבְרָהָם֙ לְעֶפְרֹ֔ן אֶת־הַכֶּ֕סֶף אֲשֶׁ֥ר דִּבֶּ֖ר בְּאָזְנֵ֣י בְנֵי־חֵ֑ת אַרְבַּ֤ע מֵאוֹת֙ שֶׁ֣קֶל כֶּ֔סֶף עֹבֵ֖ר לַסֹּחֵֽר.

The Torah did not need to say וַיִּשְׁמַ֣ע אַבְרָהָם֮.  The pasuk could have left these two words out and started with וַיִּשְׁקֹ֤ל אַבְרָהָם֙ לְעֶפְרֹ֔ן and the pasuk would have made perfect sense.  Now with what I said,  the וַיִּשְׁמַ֣ע אַבְרָהָם֮  is needed and makes sense, וַיִּשְׁמַ֣ע אַבְרָהָם֮ means he listened and understood that Ephron wanted to be compensated for the cave, but was in a bind because the people of Ches did say we will give you a burial spot for free.   This Is what Ephron was really requesting.    Avrohom understood that the out for Ephron was that Avrohom will purchase the field, which was never asked for,  and makes sense that Avrohom should purchase.  Epron throws in the cave for free and  appears to be a generous man, and everyone is happy.  

Now we can explain verse 17 –   וַיָּ֣קָם ׀ שְׂדֵ֣ה עֶפְר֗וֹן אֲשֶׁר֙ בַּמַּכְפֵּלָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֖ר לִפְנֵ֣י מַמְרֵ֑א הַשָּׂדֶה֙ וְהַמְּעָרָ֣ה אֲשֶׁר־בּ֔וֹ וְכָל־הָעֵץ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר בַּשָּׂדֶ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר בְּכָל־גְּבֻל֖וֹ סָבִֽיב׃

Based on my above Torah that Avrohom was only purchasing the field and the rest were throw-ins the Pasuk makes sense. Why did the Pasuk say שְׂדֵ֣ה twice?  Because  Avrohom acquired the field as that was their sales agreement and by acquiring the field he acquired (the following) the field, the cave, and the trees. 

Based on this I would prefer the Artscroll translation over Sefaria.

 Sefaria translates this Pasuk as –  “So Ephron’s land in Machpelah, near Mamre—the field with its cave and all the trees anywhere within the confines of that field—passed.”

Artscroll translates Verse 17 as “And Ephron’s field, that was in Machpelah that was facing Mamre “stood” – the field, and the cave within it and all the trees in the field , within its entire boundary all around.”

The Bais Halevi says something similar to my Torah:

ויתן לי את מערת המכפלה אשר בקצה שדהו גו’, השדה נתתי לך והמערה אשר בו לך נתתיה. הנה אברהם לא ביקש רק המערה כי רק היא לבד נצרכה לו אז ואמר לו אשר בקצה שדהו כאומר כי לא יתקלקל השדה ע”י מכירת המערה יען כי המערה היא בקצה השדה, ועפרון השיב לו במרמה כי נותן לו במתנה השדה והמערה ובזה הראה לדעת דע”י לקיחת המערה גם השדה תקולקל ע”י דריסת הרגל וע”כ אמר כי נותן לו במתנה גם את השדה. ואברהם הבין כוונתו ואמר לו אם אתה שמעני נתתי כסף השדה. דישלם לו דמי כל השדה ובה הרי נכלל גם המערה אשר בקצהו: 

Vort 4)  Rabbi Efrem Goldberg in his weekly Chumash Shiur.

 וַתָּ֣מָת שָׂרָ֗ה בְּקִרְיַ֥ת אַרְבַּ֛ע הִ֥וא חֶבְר֖וֹן בְּאֶ֣רֶץ כְּנָ֑עַן וַיָּבֹא֙ אַבְרָהָ֔ם לִסְפֹּ֥ד לְשָׂרָ֖ה וְלִבְכֹּתָֽהּ׃ 

Rashi:  לספוד לשרה ולבכתה. וְנִסְמְכָה מִיתַת שָׂרָה לַעֲקֵדַת יִצְחָק לְפִי שֶׁעַל יְדֵי בְּשׂוֹרַת הָעֲקֵדָה, שֶׁנִּזְדַּמֵּן בְּנָהּ לִשְׁחִיטָה וְכִמְעַט שֶׁלֹּא נִשְׁחַט, פָּרְחָה נִשְׁמָתָהּ מִמֶּנָּה וּמֵתָה

Rabbi Yisroel Meir Druk askes why did Rashi choose to say that the עֲקֵדַת was tied into Sarah’s death only when he came to eulogize and cry for his wife.  Rashi should have said iron the first asuk or the the first half of this pasuk.  Rabbi Druk answers that the test of the עֲקֵדַת continued even after sarah died.  How would Avrohom react.  Would he regret performing the Akedah or would he take it with faith in God and never question.  Even though Avrohom did the right thing, something bad happened.  Avrohom showed that he understood that the reason why Sarah died is because it was her time to die, not the Akedah.  Rabbi Druk also used this to explain why Avorhom eulogized Sarah and then cried.  Had he cried first, people would think that Avrohom possibly regarded listening to God and maybe he should have pushed back.  Thereof Avrohom first eulogized her, told over her sterling ife,  and  only then did he cry.  People would understand that he was crying over the loss of his great wife.

The final test of Avrohom was not the Akedah,  but the final test was his negotiations with Eforn.  Would Avrohom lose his cool with a petty and a bad fatih person.  Avrohom did not and passed the test.  

Friday November 6, 2020: Torah on Parshas VaYera

This Torah is written in Bubbi Blanche’s Apartment for a Refuah Shelaima for Bubbi – Blima Bas Zelda Baila.

Vort #1)  The story of Avrohom continues.  At the beginning of the Parsha it was three days after the circumcision and God came to visit Avrohom.   Three days earlier God changed Avrohom’s and Sarah’s names.  To Avrohom God added a “hey” and to Sarah he removed a “Yud” and replaced it with a “Hey”.

Both new names tell us a change in both of them.  They will become or maybe they already have become world figures, meaning that their influence will be felt over the entire world.  Avrohom will be the Av – father of the entire world and Sarah will be the princess over the entire world.   It seems that names have an influence on someone’s life.  By the Bris Ben HaBisarim, on the Pasuk Bereshis 15:5 Rashi says that based on astrology – nature Avrom cannot have kids, but Avrohom will be able to have kids.  God directs Avrohom to name his future son “Yitzchok”, and previously Hagar to name her kid “Yishmael” so we see that names are significant.  Avrrohom called Yishmael by the name God had instructed Hagar.  This shows Avrohom being intertwined with God.  It is as if he instinctively knew God’s thoughts.  

Vort #2)    Verse 18:2 – 

וַיִּשָּׂ֤א עֵינָיו֙ וַיַּ֔רְא וְהִנֵּה֙ שְׁלֹשָׁ֣ה אֲנָשִׁ֔ים נִצָּבִ֖ים עָלָ֑יו וַיַּ֗רְא וַיָּ֤רָץ לִקְרָאתָם֙ מִפֶּ֣תַח הָאֹ֔הֶל וַיִּשְׁתַּ֖חוּ אָֽרְצָה׃

Translation of Sefaria:  Looking up, he saw three men standing near him. As soon as he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them and, bowing to the ground

Translation of Artscroll:  He lifted his eyes and saw: And behold three men were standing before him.  He saw, and he ran toward them from the entrance of the tent, and bowed toward the ground. 

Translation is important and reading words properly are important.  The Torah uses the word   וְהִנֵּה֙ – and behold.  Sefaria ignores the   וְהִנֵּה֙ and also ignores the second  וַיַּ֗רְא.

I believe even Artscoll who acknowledges the word וְהִנֵּה֙ and translates it “behold” cannot convey the full meaning of the word וְהִנֵּה֙ – this word animates the scene.

The Torah uses the word וְהִנֵּה֙ .    This word paints the scene for us, we can feel what Avrohom felt, and not only that we can picture ourselves in the tent with Avrohom.  Picture the scene – Avrohom was looking out and saw nothing.  All of a sudden it seems out of nowhere, three men appear.  An excitement flows through his body, joy spreads through him, which calls Avrohom to action.  We all have had this experience.  Looking up and unexpectedly seeing a relative, a friend, and we are full of emotion.  

Rashi – נצבים עליו. לְפָנָיו, אֲבָל לָשׁוֹן נְקִיָּה הוּא כְּלַפֵּי הַמַּלְאָכִים:

Rashi uses the word נְקִיָּה.  Artscoll does say clean but adds i.e. respectful. Sefaria is similar and translates Rashi as, “ this is a more fitting expression to use of angels.”    However, the word in the Rashi is נְקִיָּה and not  כבוד.   I think that Rashi is telling us something more, two possible explanations.

1)  When we show proper respect and use proper speech, we are clean, we are uplifted.  We become a better person, someone more refined.`

2)  When we speak properly towards Hashem and his representatives in this world we bring God down into this world, we bring Holiness into this world.       I believe that Rashi can also be expanded to include when we glorify Hashen, we bring holiness into our world.

This I believe is what the Kotzker meant when he said, my job is to bring God into this world, perhaps based on this Rashi.

I have to look up the Kotzher for the exact words that were used.  

Vort 3)  Chapter 18 Verse 10:

There is a difference between Rashi and Orach Chaim HaKodeh how to translate the pronouns of וְה֥וּא אַחֲרָֽיו in the following Verse”

                               וַיֹּ֗אמֶר שׁ֣וֹב אָשׁ֤וּב אֵלֶ֙יךָ֙ כָּעֵ֣ת חַיָּ֔ה וְהִנֵּה־בֵ֖ן לְשָׂרָ֣ה אִשְׁתֶּ֑ךָ וְשָׂרָ֥ה שֹׁמַ֛עַת פֶּ֥תַח הָאֹ֖הֶל וְה֥וּא אַחֲרָֽיו

Then one said, “I will return to you next year, and your wife Sarah shall have a son!” Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent, which was behind him.

Rashi translates וְה֥וּא אַחֲרָֽיו  like the above which is both like Sefaria and Artscroll as follows:

                                                                                                           והוא אחריו. הַפֶּתַח הָיָה אַחַר הַמַּלְאָךְ:  

The Orach Chaim HaKodesh translates    והוא אחריו slightly differently, as follows:

ושרה שומעת מודיע הכתוב כי הבשורה לשרה בשרו כמאמר ה’ בשליחות, והוא אומרו ושרה שומעת וגו‘ והוא המבשר אחריו. וראיתי במדרש כי אף על פי כן נתיסר המלאך על אשר לא דבר הבשורה מפיו אליה ודבר לאברהם, והמלאכים יענשו על השוגג ועל שנוי כל שהוא:

Orach Chaim – And he (the angel) was behind the tent.

Rashi:              And the tent was behind him (the angel.)

 The question is does it make a difference whether we translate as Rashi or as the Orach Chaim?  Perhaps not, but there is a major question, the words of  והוא אחריו are completely extra.  The Posuk said that she was listening, so what do these two words add?

I do not have an answer for this question.

Vort 4)  This was sent out in an email  on November 7, 2020:

Guten Motzei Shabbos.  I offer this Torah in honor and memory of our two great leaders who passed away this weekend.  Rabbi Dovid Feinstien and Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.  I am listening to Rabbi Shlomo Calrbach’s Selichos, Ashrei and Kadish.  Beautiful.

Over Shabbos I asked a question on Pasuk 18:10 on the needs for two words of   והוא אחריו 

וַיֹּ֗אמֶר שׁ֣וֹב אָשׁ֤וּב אֵלֶ֙יךָ֙ כָּעֵ֣ת חַיָּ֔ה וְהִנֵּה־בֵ֖ן לְשָׂרָ֣ה אִשְׁתֶּ֑ךָ וְשָׂרָ֥ה שֹׁמַ֛עַת פֶּ֥תַח הָאֹ֖הֶל וְה֥וּא אַחֲרָֽיו׃

Then one said, “I will return to you next year, and your wife Sarah shall have a son!” Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent, which was behind him.

There is a major question, the words of  והוא אחריו are completely extra.  Thee Posuk said that she was listening, so what do these two words add.

We can perhaps answer based on a  beautiful Orach Chaim translated as follows:

ושרה שומעת מודיע הכתוב כי הבשורה לשרה בשרו כמאמר ה’ בשליחות, והוא אומרו ושרה שומעת וגו‘ והוא המבשר אחריו. וראיתי במדרש כי אף על פי כן נתיסר המלאך על אשר לא דבר הבשורה מפיו אליה ודבר לאברהם, והמלאכים יענשו על השוגג ועל שנוי כל שהוא:

“And Sarah was listening” –  the Pasuk is telling us that  the news (of the impending birth) was delivered as Hashem wanted, and that is why the Verse says, “she was listening at the entrance of the tent and he was beyond her,” meaning  the angel made his announcement in close proximity to her so she can hear.  This is the first half of the Orach Chaim. 

But it is still difficult because the Torah said that she was listening, so why does it say “he was behind her”.

The Orach Chaim Hakodesh continues and brings in a Medresh.

 וראיתי במדרש כי אף על פי כן נתיסר המלאך על אשר לא דבר הבשורה מפיו אליה ודבר לאברהם, והמלאכים יענשו על השוגג ועל שנוי כל שהוא

Translated as –  (Although the commandment of Hashem was delivered)  the angels were punished for not delivering  the news directly to her, but through speaking to Avrohom.  Angels are punished even for unintentional errors and for even the slightest deviation from what they were sent to do.  (Artscroll).    Meaning the commandment from Hashem was to speak to her directly and they did not do this.

What happened because of their slight deviation and what was the punishment?

I propose as follows:

In verse 18:9 the angels asked where is Sarah?  Meaning they wanted to fulfil their mission of delivering the impending birth to Sarah directly.  Avrohom tersely says, she is in the tent.  Meaning there is no need for her to come out, she can hear from the tent.  The angels should have responded, we need her to come out because our mission is to deliver this message of  great news, directly to her, however, words fail them.  This is like you are in a meeting with your boss about something important and  your boss says something that is a roadblock, and you do not get your way.    Words fail you and afterwards you kick yourself that you did not respond properly and you could have responded property to deflect the roadblock and possibly gotten your way.   This happened to me plenty of times when I was presenting in front of loan committee at the bank.

Verse 10 continues and says that they fulfilled their mission by telling Avrohom the news, with Sarah listening.   The Torah tells us    וְה֥וּא אַחֲרָֽיו.    These words are extra to convey that the angel did not fulfill his mission properly because he was behind her, he did not deliver the news directly to her.   

What happened as a result? Verses 11, 12, and 13.  Sarah laughed in derision.  Had he told her directly she would have seen the intensity in his and the other angels eyes, their body language, their Godliness, and would have been overjoyed and it would have been a different laughter, just like Avrohom’s laughter in Verse 17:17.  In Kotzk, Torah had to be given over in the presence of the Rebbe and student.  That is why they never committed Torah to writing.

This is the result of not listening and fulfilling Hashem’s instructions 100%,  even this slight deviation caused Sarah to say something improper and to be embarrassed.  

Perhaps you can say that this is their  punishment of their actions.  They assumed that Sarah would be happy and even if she reacted as she did,  they did not think it would be an issue.  She was a very righteous person, full of charity,  and one misplaced emotion would not be an issue, and would not be brought up to her to embarrass her.  However, it did cause embarrassment and they were the cause of Sarah’s embarrassment.  Imagine if one of us unintentionally caused problems and embarrassment for someone, we would have a week of sleepless nights.   There are plenty of Midrashim that speak of the  emotions of angels.   Especially the angel here who is one of the big four.   

This is what the Orach Chaim HaKodesh means to convey and what the words of  והוא אחריו  tell us.  

Vort 5)   Another lesson from the Torah that when you have great news as Avromon did about having a son and he could have told Sarah, Hashem still  wanted to be the one to deliver the joyous news.  Tell great news directly, not through a third party for obvious reasons.   The joy is magnified.   

Vort 6)   Chapter 18 Verse 9:

 וַיֹּאמְר֣וּ אֵׄלָׄ֔יׄוׄ אַיֵּ֖ה שָׂרָ֣ה אִשְׁתֶּ֑ךָ וַיֹּ֖אמֶר הִנֵּ֥ה בָאֹֽהֶל׃

When does is use the word to refer to Sarah’s tent as בָאֹֽהֶל and not  אֹ֖הֱלָה   as in 18:6 וַיְמַהֵ֧ר אַבְרָהָ֛ם הָאֹ֖הֱלָה אֶל־שָׂרָ֑ה .  .  . 

Vort 7)  Chapter 18 Verse 10:

 וַיֹּ֗אמֶר שׁ֣וֹב אָשׁ֤וּב אֵלֶ֙יךָ֙ כָּעֵ֣ת חַיָּ֔ה וְהִנֵּה־בֵ֖ן לְשָׂרָ֣ה אִשְׁתֶּ֑ךָ וְשָׂרָ֥ה שֹׁמַ֛עַת פֶּ֥תַח הָאֹ֖הֶל וְה֥וּא אַחֲרָֽיו׃ 

  Why did the Torah describe Sarah’s tent as being behind them.  It was a separate tent.  Verse 18:6 seems to imply that Sarah has a separate tent, but this and the previous Verse may seem to suggest that it was one tent, with dividers.  Either way this is not a relevant point and off subject.

Vort 8)   Chapter 18 Verses 13, 14, and 15:

וַיֹּ֥אמֶר יְהוָ֖ה אֶל־אַבְרָהָ֑ם לָ֣מָּה זֶּה֩ צָחֲקָ֨ה שָׂרָ֜ה לֵאמֹ֗ר הַאַ֥ף אֻמְנָ֛ם אֵלֵ֖ד וַאֲנִ֥י זָקַֽנְתִּי׃

הֲיִפָּלֵ֥א מֵיְהוָ֖ה דָּבָ֑ר לַמּוֹעֵ֞ד אָשׁ֥וּב אֵלֶ֛יךָ כָּעֵ֥ת חַיָּ֖ה וּלְשָׂרָ֥ה בֵֽן׃

וַתְּכַחֵ֨שׁ שָׂרָ֧ה ׀ לֵאמֹ֛ר לֹ֥א צָחַ֖קְתִּי כִּ֣י ׀ יָרֵ֑אָה וַיֹּ֥אמֶר ׀ לֹ֖א כִּ֥י צָחָֽקְתְּ׃ 

  1.  Why ambush Sarah?  She was a righteous woman and even if she slipped up here, her emotions got the better of her.  Why call her out?   
  2. God is the one who told Avrohom that Sarah laughed?  They were having a meal and God tells Avrohom, your wife laughed?  Seems odd.  
  3. Rashi said that Hashem changed the words of Sarah from “my husband is old” to “I am  old”.  However, Sarah effectively said that she is old in Verse 12  וַתִּצְחַ֥ק שָׂרָ֖ה בְּקִרְבָּ֣הּ לֵאמֹ֑ר אַחֲרֵ֤י בְלֹתִי֙ הָֽיְתָה־לִּ֣י עֶדְנָ֔ה וַֽאדֹנִ֖י זָקֵֽן׃ .   Say it was an omission, not a change of words.  Technically yes, but in verse 12  she meant that I am old. Verse 11 basically said the same thing as a narrator.  וְאַבְרָהָ֤ם וְשָׂרָה֙ זְקֵנִ֔ים בָּאִ֖ים בַּיָּמִ֑ים חָדַל֙ לִהְי֣וֹת לְשָׂרָ֔ה אֹ֖רַח כַּנָּשִֽׁים׃.

October 24, 2020: Shabbos Parshas Noah

Dream

Blanche Noble – Janowski

Rabbi Leibush Noble

Rabbi Yehuda Leib Graubart

Kotzker Rebbe on Parshas Noah

Netziv

Daniel Glenner

Jewish Geography

Shabbos Parshas Noah – October 24, 2020:

Dream:
Friday night I had a disturbing dream.  I dreamt that my body floated off my bed and headed straight up to the heavens.  I felt completely detached from this world and I was never coming back.  I ended up in a line.  A person looked me up and down and said my body is not perfect, meaning I had sinned.  He then put his hand on my chest to stop me.  I stopped in another line and I was next to a construction person wearing tan overalls and wisecracking.  I had to strongly shake myself awake.   I did not want to be trapped in my dream.

Rabbi Leibush Noble and Rabbi Yehuda Leib Graubart:

I got up at 7:00 AM and went downstairs to study.  I needed a Siddur to say Birchas Hatorah and could not find one.  I knew that Jerry Noble had given me a Siddur used by his grandfather, Rabbi Leibush Noble, along with a set of Malbim Chumoshim.   The below is a picture of Rabbi Yehuda Leibush Noble.

Picture taken in 1946

SCOPE AND CONTENT

Item is a photograph of Beverley Kelman on her first birthday. Pictured in the photograph with Beverley are her father Marvin Lister, mother Ruth Lister, grandfather Rabbi Leibish Noble, and grandmother Bella. Rabbi Noble was the first principal of Eitz Chaim, Toronto’s second-oldest Jewish day school. The photograph was taken at the family home that Ruth and Marvin Lister shared with Ruth’s parents Bella and Rabbi Leibish Noble at 73 Borden St., Toronto.

ADMINISTRATIVE HISTORY

Rabbi Leibish Noble immigrated to Toronto in 1912. The outbreak of World War I hampered his effort to bring over his wife Bella and two young daughters Gertrude and Mary (Miriam).

I spoke to Beverley about this picture and about life with her grandparents.  Uncle Marvin Lister even in 1946 had a hard time with working because he was Shomer Shabbos.  He had a hard time finding a permanent job.  Marvin was a good guy.  Beverely has some great stories from that time period.  I encouraged her to write them down and share with the family.

This picture speaks to me about that generation of Jews who were in the Army during World War II. This is the first Jewish next generation born in North America starting out their lives standing  with their immigrant parents.  Rabbi Leibush Noble and his wife Zelda Baila look youthful who look like they still have many years of active life left in them.   At the time of the picture Florence and Rosie were still single.    All the Noble sisters were very pretty.

Instead of the Siddur, I picked up my wife’s grandfather’s, Reb Leibush Noble’s Malbum on Chumosh Bereshis.  The sefer was published in 1892.    He learned the Malbim on a regular basis.  He held it in his holy hands, learning from it.   My grandfather Reb Sholem Sklar, Bubi Jean’s father, praised his one father Reb Avormon Shmuel Sklar of Krinki that his father knew all the laws of Shabbos, was an expert in טומא וטהרה, and thirdly knew every Mablim by heart.  This shows how precious the Malbim was to the Jews of eastern Europe and that the Malbim was Rabbi Leibush Noble’s go to Chumash.

I opened it to Sefer Noah and found the following picture tucked into the first page of Parshas Noah. 

This is a picture from the Yiddish paper announcing the death of Rabbi Yehuda Leib Graubart known as “Der Stashover Rebbe”.  Please see http://www.billgladstone.ca/j-b-salsberg-and-rabbi-yehuda-leib-graubart/ for more details about Rabbi Yehuda Leib Graubart.

Rabbi Graubart, known as the Mahril Graubart was the Rebbe of our grandfather, Rabbi Yehuda Leibush Noble.    

Rabbi Yehuda Leibush Noble wrote on the top of the picture, ה נח ב בחודש חשון תרצח translated into as 

“Thursday, of the week that Noah is read, on the second day of the month of Cheshvan, 1937”.  At the bottom of the picture he wrote   נפטר – passed away. 

This year Rabbi Graubart’s Yahrzeit was on Tuesday, October 20, 2020.  My guess is that Rabbi Noble did not want to forget the Yahrzeit of his Rebbe.

Why did I stumble on this picture the Shabbos morning?  Is there a message?   The mere fact that I found something my grandfather wanted to preserve and that I held the Sefer that he learned from is humbling.  I could never live up to the righteous and accomplishments of Rabbi Yehuda Leibush Noble in 2 lifetimes.  I gave this some thought and the following is what I spoke after davening in our garage minyan. 

Blanche Noble – Janowski  –  my mother-in-law:

Last Tuesday my mother-in-law fell in her apartment and broke her hip.  She was operated on Thursday, the 22nd and moved to Baycrest on Friday for rehab.  

There is a great verse in Parshas Noah.  Verse 9:23 says:

וַיִּקַּח֩ שֵׁ֨ם וָיֶ֜פֶת אֶת־הַשִּׂמְלָ֗ה וַיָּשִׂ֙ימוּ֙ עַל־שְׁכֶ֣ם שְׁנֵיהֶ֔ם וַיֵּֽלְכוּ֙ אֲחֹ֣רַנִּ֔ית וַיְכַסּ֕וּ אֵ֖ת עֶרְוַ֣ת אֲבִיהֶ֑ם וּפְנֵיהֶם֙ אֲחֹ֣רַנִּ֔ית וְעֶרְוַ֥ת אֲבִיהֶ֖ם לֹ֥א רָאֽוּ׃

But Shem and Japheth took a cloth, placed it against both their backs and, walking backward, they covered their father’s nakedness; their faces were turned the other way, so that they did not see their father’s nakedness.

This is a great verse.  It talks about the great respect Noah’s two sons had for their father.   Rabbi Leibush Noble towards the end of his life had cancer.  He lived by his daughter, Blanche Noble-Janowski.  Rabbi Leibush Noble was a holy Jew.  My mother-in-law took care of his emotional needs, physical needs, and medical needs.  She fulfilled the Mitzvah of honoring one’s mother and father as it is written in the Torah.  May the memory of her parents reward her for the kindness she did for her parents and she should have a speedy recovery.  May she dance at Mendy Bernstein upcoming wedding and her great-grandchildren weddings, including Chani, Tzvi, Eli, Hudi, and Sholoem Morgenstern.

Kotzker on Parshas Noah

The Kotzkerin the Sefer Ohel Torah brings down the following Medresh, Bereshis 30:8:

 הָיָה, אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן כָּל מִי שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בּוֹ הָיָה, מִתְּחִלָּתוֹ וְעַד סוֹפוֹ הוּא צַדִּיק. הֲתִיבוּן לֵיהּ (they arked him)  וְהָכְתִיב (יחזקאל לג, כד): אֶחָד הָיָה אַבְרָהָם וַיִּירַשׁ אֶת הָאָרֶץ, מֵעַתָּה הוּא תְּחִלָּתוֹ וְהוּא סוֹפוֹ. אֲמַר לְהוֹן אַף הִיא לָא תַבְרָא,

 (Even this is not a question)    דְּהָא רַבִּי לֵוִי בְּשֵׁם רֵישׁ לָקִישׁ אָמַר בֶּן שָׁלשׁ שָׁנִים הִכִּיר אַבְרָהָם אֶת בּוֹרְאוֹ וכו’, 

I think that the answer for Rebi Yochanan is that he is learning like Reb Levi in the name of Resh Lakish that Avrohon recognized Hashem at three years old.   When Avrohom first had understanding of the world around him at three years old,  he recognized Hashem,  Before three he was too young to understand good and evil, life, and the society around him.  Therefore we are within our rights to say that Avrohom was a Tzaddik from the beginning of his life, when he had דעת to discern between good and evil, which was when he turned three.

The Medresh continues:

רַבִּי חֲנִינָא וְרַבִּי יוֹחָנָן תַּרְוֵיהוֹן אָמְרִין בֶּן אַרְבָּעִים וּשְׁמוֹנֶה שָׁנָה הִכִּיר אַבְרָהָם אֶת בּוֹרְאוֹ, וּמַה אֲנִי מְקַיֵּם הָיָה, שֶׁהָיָה מְתֻקָּן לְהַדְרִיךְ כָּל הָעוֹלָם כֻּלּוֹ בִּתְשׁוּבָה. (בראשית ג, כב): הֵן הָאָדָם הָיָה, מְתֻקָּן לְמִיתָה, נָחָשׁ (בראשית ג, א): הָיָה, מְתֻקָּן לְפֻרְעָנוּת, קַיִן (בראשית ד, ב): הָיָה, מְתֻקָּן לְגָלוּת, אִיּוֹב (איוב א, א): הָיָה, מְתֻקָּן לְיִסּוּרִין, נֹחַ הָיָה, מְתֻקָּן לַנֵּס, משֶׁה (שמות ג, א): הָיָה, מְתֻקָּן לַגּוֹאֵל, מָרְדְּכַי (אסתר ב, ה): הָיָה, מְתֻקָּן לִגְאֻלָּה. רַבִּי לֵוִי וְרַבָּנָן, רַבִּי לֵוִי אָמַר כָּל מִי שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בּוֹ הָיָה, רָאָה עוֹלָם חָדָשׁ

However according to  רַבִּי חֲנִינָא וְרַבִּי יוֹחָנָן you cannot answer as we just did, because they say that Avrohom recognized Hashem at 48.  Therefore we cannot say that Avrohom was a Tzadik מִתְּחִלָּתוֹ וְעַד סוֹפוֹ.     Therefore they have a different understanding of the word הָיָה to mean מְתֻקָּן – predestined.  They also re-interpret the  הָיָה of Noah to  mean he was predestined to be saved. 

The Artscroll said that it seems we have a contradiction in Reb Yochanan.  They change the first Reb Yochanan to Reb Yehonason.

Who was Noah’s grandfather,  מְתוּשֶׁ֗לַח – Methuselah.  Rashi on Verse 7:4 says – “ FOR YET SEVEN DAYS — These are the seven days of mourning for the righteous man Methuselah for whose honour the Holy One, blessed be He, had regard, and therefore postponed punishment. Go and calculate the years of Methuselah and you will find that they came to an end (i. e. he died) in the six hundredth year of Noah’s life (which coincided with the date of the Flood) (Sanhedrin 108b).”

We see that Noah’s grandfather Methuselah was a righteous man. What about his father – Lemach.

Comes along the Netziv in his Sefer Hemach Dover on last week’s Sedra and say beautifully:

ממעשנו ומעצבון ידינו. שהיה קשה על למך הצדיק לראות מעשה בני דורו הרשעים ולא יכול להושיע וראה ברוה״ק שבימי בנו ינוחו מרשעות כאלה. וזהו ממעשינו ועוד באשר נשתנה דרך כל בשר וטבעו כמו שיבואר להלן ו׳ י״ב. וע״כ לא יכלו להשתמש בבהמת הארץ כפי הטבע. וא״כ היו מוכרחים לעמול הרבה בידיהם. וראה ברוה״ק שבימי נח ישוב הטבע למקומה. וזהו משמעות ומעצבון ידינו. ואח״כ פי׳ הכתוב מלשון תנחומין:

Lemech was also a Tzaddik.  Look how the Netziv phrases the righteousness of Lemech.  “It was difficult for Lemech the righteous one to see the evil actions of his generation and he was not able to save them.”  Lemach tried but was unsuccessful.  More than that the Torah says the Lemech saw with the Holy Spirit say that in the times of Noah, the world will have relief (comfort) from  ממעשנו – our wicked ways.  He included himself with his generation, even though he was not at fault, he was a Tzaddik.  This is true greatness that he included himself with them because it was his generation and he was their leader, his responsibility.  He could not see that the relief would come with wiping out the entire generation.  

Now we see that Noah was born to a grandfather who was a Tzaddik and a father who was a Tzaddik.  This fits in beautifully with the first Reb Yochanan in the Medresh that Noah was a Tzaddik from the beginning of his life to the end.  (Avrohom was the son of an idol worshipper.) 

Comes along the Kotzker and says it cannot be that Avrohom sat for 48 years and did nothing.  After all Avrohom was able to understand by himself the existence of Hashem, which is tremendous greatness and does not happen overnight.

The Kotzker therefore says that  you must say that during those first 48 years of life Avrohom was searching with his mind and delving into the existence of a creator until he reached 48 years old when he recognized his creator.

You could say that the Kotzker is explaining a point that he felt had to be made according to  רַבִּי חֲנִינָא וְרַבִּי יוֹחָנָן תַּרְוֵיהוֹן אָמְרִין בֶּן אַרְבָּעִים וּשְׁמוֹנֶה שָׁנָה.  That the Kotzker Vort does not impact on the Medresh, the Kotzker is making a side point.

Or I think more probable you could say that the Kotzker is arguing with the Medresh.  Whereas the Midrash says that Avrohom was not a Tzaddik for the beginning of his life to the end, the Kotzker is saying that he was a Tzadick  מִתְּחִלָּתוֹ וְעַד סוֹפוֹ.  Avrohom’s 48 year search is part of his righteousness.  The search is Tzidkus.  Thus the first Reb Yochanan works even with the second Reb Yochanan that Avrohom became a Tzadik at 48 years old.  

The Rest of Shabbos:

Told over the above Torah to Rabbi Ayreh Bassman.

Had the lunch Shabbos meal at Daniel and Chayale Glenner’s house.  I got to know their kids.  

From Daniel, I went to Rabbi Revah, my Rebbe to tell him the above Torah.

Decided to walk to my daughter’s house.  My kids were at her husband’s sister’s son’s bar Mitzvah.  At least I got a nice long walk.

On the way there I played and excelled at Jewish Geography.  I met:

  1. Gila Enbinder, her husband and their two kids.  She is Mispacha to me.    She is from Toronto.  Gila’s sister, Dalya, was best friends with my niece, Aleasha, in high school at Bais Yaakov and Ulpana.  More importantly Dalya is a sister-in-law to Aleasha.  They are married to brothers.
  2. Met Mrs. Peirson (?) who was born and grew up in Phoenix, AZ.  She knows the Rebibo family including Joel Rebibo, my Yeshivas Toras Chaim, Denver, CO classmate.   The father,  Rabbi Rebibo, was the leading Rov in Phoenix.  His son, Joel, is an editor at Hamodia.  Joel is Mizrachi and works for Hamodia.  Previously he was an editor for the Jerusalem post.  Joel Rebibo was someone who you knew in high school was destined for great things.  After not seeing him since our high school graduation in 1971, I met him in 2015, when I was visiting my daughter in seminary.  We had a great reunion on the veranda of my sister’s place at Wolfson in Jerusalem. 
  1. Met the son of Rabbi Hollander from LA.  Rabbi Hollander lived in Chicago and was involved with a Kiruv organization.  I knew him then.   He moved out to LA and raised his family in LA.   I met Rabbi Hollander in LA about 20 years ago.  He was Rabbi of the Young Israel of Venice Beach and started Emek, a Yeshiva located in Culver City.  They have since moved.  My cousin’s kid went there for high school.

Week of October October 11 – October 17, 2020

Simchas Torah 2020

Parshas Bereishis – Verse 5:29

Naming of Noah

Shabbos in Lakeview

Chabad of East Lakeview

Rabbi Dovid Kotlarski

Chabad of Lakeview

Sunday – October 11, 2020:

Simchas Torah:

Great Simchas Torah.  I was not expecting too much at Sidney’s garage Minyan.  Most of the neighborhood came with their families.  After the 5th Hakaph, the extended Goldstein family gave a Kiddush on the birth of a granddaughter.  Not just any Kiddush, but a grand feast.  There was Cholent, potato kugel, drumettes, cake, and candy.  We were done at 2:30 PM.  My kids came about an hour later for the Yom Tov meal.  Serka cooked up a great meal.

Tuesday – October 13,2020:

Took my Covid test.  Skokie Yeshiva tested everyone before they opened their campus.

Went through the basement of the two flat to go over the remaining work items.  There were about 20 items.  It is dragging on and the dollars are adding up.  I am not happy about it and somewhat depressed..

Wednesday October 14, 2020:

Went to Richards Body Shop.  Eddie is starting to redo my 1968 Ford Mustang that was my father’s third wife.  I paid him $3,000.  The car is all rusted out.  The motor work’s fine.   He is ordering parts for the Mustang Floor, hood, side panels, and other parts.  After 19 years of sitting in his shop, he is finally working on the car.

Thursday – October 15, 2020:

Everyone passed their covid test and the Yeshiva opened.  I was very depressed as Rabbi Revach gave a Shiur on Tosfes Kiddushin 2B – Esrog.  I did not understand the Shiur.

Friday – October 16, 2020:

Learned with Rabbi Revach for two hours going through the Tosfes.  I recovered some of my dignity.

Took Naftali to the Home Office for Cholent.  

Drove to Eli for Shabbos and got there about 5:30 PM.  Serka made great food for us.  Went to Anshei Shalom for davening.  It was depressing.  Only 13 men and two women.  No one spoke to one another.  There is no excuse for how they shut down davening. Went back to Eli and had a great meal.   Schmoozed with Eli about life and went to bed about 10:15 PM.

Shabbos – October 17, 2020:

Woke up at 7:00 AM. Learned Chumosh.  Davened at Chabad of East Lakeview.  Got to Shul at 10:15 AM.   They recently purchased a building at Wellington, just west of Broadway and will be remodeling.  I saw the Chevra from Anshei Shomel. Cholent was great.

I gave a Shiur and the below is my new Torah I spoke out in the Shiur.:  Paul, Tamar, Herb, and the Kaz’s attended.  

Rabbi Kotlarsky spoke about Noah and what he meant to the world.  Rabbi Kotlarski talked about Verse 5:29 that Noah brought relief from the hard labor to produce food from a cursed land and equally as important, he brought them relief from depression.  He tied this in to the depression brought on by Covid and the increase in suicide and sucidiual thougths.  Later on I told Rabbi Kotlarski that he was M’Chavin to the Ibn Ezra.

Torah for Berehis 2020:

Bereishis Verse 5:29:

וַיִּקְרָ֧א אֶת־שְׁמ֛וֹ נֹ֖חַ לֵאמֹ֑ר זֶ֠ה יְנַחֲמֵ֤נוּ מִֽמַּעֲשֵׂ֙נוּ֙ וּמֵעִצְּב֣וֹן יָדֵ֔ינוּ מִן־הָ֣אֲדָמָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֵֽרְרָ֖הּ יְהוָֽה׃

And he named him Noah, saying, “This one will provide us relief from our work and from the toil of our hands, out of the very soil which the LORD placed under a curse.”

Rashi says on this Passuk:

זה ינחמנו. יָנַח מִמֶּנּוּ אֶת עִצְּבוֹן יָדֵינוּ. עַד שֶׁלֹּא בָא נֹחַ לֹא הָיָה לָהֶם כְּלֵי מַחֲרֵשָׁה וְהוּא הֵכִין לָהֶם,  וְהָיְתָה הָאָרֶץ מוֹצִיאָה קוֹצִים וְדַרְדַּרִים כְּשֶׁזּוֹרְעִים חִטִּים, מִקִּלְלָתוֹ שֶׁל אָדָם הָרִאשׁוֹן, וּבִימֵי נֹחַ נָחָה, וְזֶהוּ יְנַחֲמֵנוּ, וְאִם לֹא תְפָרְשֵׁהוּ כָּךְ אֵין טַעַם הַלָּשׁוֹן נוֹפֵל עַל הַשֵּׁם וְאַתָּה צָרִיךְ לִקְרוֹת שְׁמוֹ מְנַחֵם:

What does  יְנַחֲמֵנוּ mean:

Sefaria – relief

Artscroll with Rashi English Translation – ease

Artscroll – rest

Miller and Gunick Lubavitch Chumosim – rest

Mechon-Mamre – Comfort us – rashi says that this is the wrong translation

Hertz – Comfort

Sefaria Translation -:

THIS WILL COMFORT US — He will ease from off us (ינחמנו) the toil of our hands. For until Noah came people had no agricultural instruments and he prepared such for them. The earth had brought forth thorns and thistles when they sowed wheat in consequence of the curse imposed upon Adam Harishon: in the days of Noah, however, this ceased (Tanchuma 1:1:11). This is what is meant by the word ינחמנו (viz., ינח מנו). If, however, you do not explain it in this manner, but from the root נחם “to comfort”, then the meaning you give to this expression (connecting it with the idea of “comfort”) will have no application to the name נח, and you would have to call him מנחם “Comforter”.

The basic question is, how did Lemach know that his son would revolutionize farming and how did he know the curse would be lifted?  

Rabbi Kotlarsky mentioned that Noah was the first human born with fingers.  Up until that time everyone’s fingers were fused.  Based on this Medresh you can answer that as a result of this phenomena Lemach knew that his newborn son would be destined for greatness and relieve humanity from having to toil.   This Medrash did not come to answer this question, but we can use it to answer the question.  

The following Rishonim ask this question and deal with it many different ways.  The below is a summary and afterwards I bring down the individual Rishonim:

  1. Seifsei Chachomin – Adam prophitzed that relief will come when a child is born circumcised and Noah was born circumcised.
  2. Ibn Ezra
  1. Lemach know through Adom that his child will bring relief
  2. Through Chcomah, undefined by the Ibn Ezra, but I assume astrology or something similar.
  3. People were given formal names once they grew up and people saw what they did with their lives and the name would define that person.  The name Noah was not given at birth but when they saw that he brought relief and ease to the world

    3)  Chizkuni – It was known that during Adam’s lifetime, there would not be relief from the curse on

   the land.  Must be that according to the Chizkuni Noah was the first child born after 

   the death of Adam, although 126 years apart.

   4)   Rashbam – The reason is that Noach was the first man born after the death of Adam, and by 

    calling him Noach he merely expressed the hope and prayer that Noach would be

    able to atone for the iniquity which Adam had perpetrated.

   5) Bartenura – like the Rashbam

   6) Aderet Eliyaho – like the third expalanton in the Ibn Ezra

   7) Netziv – so different that I will bring the Netziv in its entirety:

ממעשנו ומעצבון ידינו. שהיה קשה על למך הצדיק לראות מעשה בני דורו הרשעים ולא יכול להושיע וראה ברוה״ק שבימי  בנו ינוחו מרשעות כאלה. וזהו ממעשינו ועוד באשר נשתנה דרך כל בשר וטבעו כמו שיבואר להלן ו׳ י״ב. וע״כ לא יכלו להשתמש בבהמת הארץ כפי הטבע. וא״כ היו מוכרחים לעמול הרבה בידיהם. וראה ברוה״ק שבימי נח ישוב הטבע למקומה. וזהו משמעות ומעצבון ידינו. ואח״כ פי׳ הכתוב מלשון תנחומין:

The actual language of the Rishonim and in depth study:

The Seifsei Chachomin asks the question and answers it as follows:

He will give us rest. Bereishis Rabbah says: Was Lemech a prophet, that [when Noach was born] he knew about this? R. Shimon ben Yehotzedek said: Noach was born circumcised. For when Hashem cursed the earth, Adam said to Him: O Master of the World! Until when? Hashem told him: Until you beget a circumcised person. Once Noach was born circumcised, they said: He will give us rest! (Divrei Dovid).

Adam died in the year 930 and Noach was born in the year 1056.  Adam must have told this prophecy to the world.  When Noah was born 126 years later and apparently was the first one born circumcised.   Lemach felt and hoped that Noah would be the child prophitzed by Adam.  

The Seifsei Chachomin continues and asks a question on Rashi.  I do not know the answer, but I will put it down here for future study.

והא דלא קאמר יניח ממנו את מעשינו דהא עדיין לא ינוחו ממעשי ידיהם דהא עדיין יצטרכו לחרוש ולזרוע ולדוש לכן קאמר זה ינחמינו זה יניח ממנו את עצבון ידינו שלא היה להם כלי מחרישה והוא הכין להם ולא נקט רש”י ממעשינו ומעצבון ידינו כמו דכתיב בקרא ולמה הקדים עצבון ידינו למעשה ידינו י”ל דעצבון קאי על מה שהוציאה הארץ קוצים ודרדרים ומיד כשנולד נח פסקה מיד אותה קללה אבל תקון המחרישה לא הי’ אלא עד שגדל נח משום הכי הקדים רש”י והורה בזה שכן ראוי להיות נמי בקרא וק”ל:

And the verse does not say יניח ממנו את מעשינו [although it is closer to “Noach”] because then it would mean that they rested from the work of their hands, and that did not yet happen. They still needed to plow, sow and thresh. Therefore it says that Noach “will bring us rest from… the anguish of our hands,” as he prepared plowing tools for them which they did not have as yet. Why did Rashi not explain, “From our work and the anguish of our hands,” following the order of the verse, but rather put “the anguish of our hands” first? The answer is: “Anguish” refers to the earth’s curse to produce thorns and thistles. And as soon as Noach was born, that curse stopped. But Noach did not make the plow until he grew up. Thus Rashi mentioned “anguish” first, indicating that the verse as well should be understood this way.

Ibn Ezra

The below Ibn Ezra may have been the source of the Sefsei Chacomim:

וטעם זה ינחמנו ממעשינו. שידע על ידי אדם כי נביא היה כי על יד זה הנולד תחיה האדמה. או ראו זה בדרך חכמה וכן הי’ 

על ידו נתקיים העולם גם הוא היה איש האדמה כי כן כתוב. גם יתכן שנקרא שמו נח כמו ירובעל אחר שעבד האדמה והצליחה ונח הפך העצבון. והטעם זה ינחמנו וננוח מעצבון ידינו. גם נחמה מנוח’ מעצבון הלב. כי העברים ישמרו הטעמים ולא המלות והעד ירבשת וירבעל. והשואלים מי היתה אשת קין ושת מה טעם לשאלה הזאת כי כתוב באדם ויולד בנים ובנות וכן כלם

The Ibn Ezra then adds, maybe Lemech knew it with wisdom.  I think Ibn Ezra means wisdom of astrology or some other wisdom.  The Ibn Ezra proceeds and says a third interpretation that he was called Noah only after he grew up and showed success as a farmer.  That is when they called him Noah.  

The Ibn Ezra said גם נחמה מנוח’ מעצבון הלב.  That Noah gave them relief from sadness of the heart, depression.   Rabbi Kotlarski linked this to the high level of depression and suicidal thoughts during covid.  This could give us an insight into Ibn Ezra that he understood the effects of depression.  The Ibn Ezra was exceptionally poor.  He joked about himself that if he sold burial shrouds, people would stop dying.

The Rashbam and Chizkuni answers the question differently:

Chizkuni:

זה ינחמנו, מן האדמה שהרי נאמר לאדם ארורה האדמה בעבורך כל ימי חייך ושנות אדם כלו לתולדות נח וחשב בלבו מה שקלקל זה יתקן זה.

ה ינחמנו מן האדמה, “this one will bring us consolation regarding the condition of the earth. Seeing that he had been born after the death of Adam, the curse decreed on earth as being effective during Adam’s lifetime could now be lifted. [According to my calculation Noach was born in the year 1056 after Adam had been created. Seeing that theTorah did not report anyone being born after Lemech, Noach’s father, who was born when Adam was still alive, there is no contradiction here. Ed.]

Rashbam

 if you were to question why our sages do not describe Lemech as a great prophet, as they described Ever who had called his son Peleg, foreseeing that in his time mankind would be divided into 70 languages, etc., (Seder Olam 1) the reason is that Noach was the first man born after the death of Adam, and by calling him Noach he merely expressed the hope and prayer that Noach would be able to atone for the iniquity which Adam had perpetrated. The word נח is an allusion to הנחה, a relief, reduction in cost, i.e. the curse that mankind suffers under, especially the earth, should be lifted now that Adam had been replaced by an innocent human being who did not share time on earth with Adam who had brought a curse upon mankind. In the case of Peleg, it is impossible to see in that name the expression of a prayer, a plea; hence we must interpret it as a sign of his father’s prophetic vision.

This is difficult because Adam died 126 years before Noah was born.  Although in the Chizkuni someone answered this by saying no one was born.  I thought of this and it did say that there were other children born to these individuals and I assume that their kids had kids.  To go 126 years without any births is very difficult.

The Netziv in Hemach Dover has a completely different understanding:

יִּקְרָ֧א אֶת־שְׁמ֛וֹ נֹ֖חַ לֵאמֹ֑ר זֶ֠ה יְנַחֲמֵ֤נוּ מִֽמַּעֲשֵׂ֙נוּ֙ וּמֵעִצְּב֣וֹן יָדֵ֔ינוּ מִן־הָ֣אֲדָמָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֵֽרְרָ֖הּ יְהוָֽה׃

זה ינחמנו. א״ת מלשון תנחומין. ורש״י דחה דא״כ שם נח אינו טפל יפה על הלשון להכי פירש מלשון נחת. ולפ״ז אינו מדויק לשון זה ינחמנו. ובל״ז יש להתבונן בכל א׳ מהפירושים. דתנחומין לא שייך אלא על הרעה שנשתיירה במקומה. ולא על מעשינו ועצבון ידינו שנשתנה בימי נח. ולהיפך שם נחת לא שייך על האדמה אשר אררה ה׳. שהרי לא נחו מקללה זו גם אחר המבול. אלא נראה דבשם נח נכלל שני השרשים לשון נחם ולשון נחת. ומש״ה נקרא נח בחסרון אות השלישי למען יהא נכלל בו שני השרשים. ופי׳ זה ינחמנו ג״כ בשתי הוראות. מלשון יניח לנו כפרש״י:

ממעשנו ומעצבון ידינו. שהיה קשה על למך הצדיק לראות מעשה בני דורו הרשעים ולא יכול להושיע וראה ברוה״ק שבימי בנו ינוחו מרשעות כאלה. וזהו ממעשינו ועוד באשר נשתנה דרך כל בשר וטבעו כמו שיבואר להלן ו׳ י״ב. וע״כ לא יכלו להשתמש בבהמת הארץ כפי הטבע. וא״כ היו מוכרחים לעמול הרבה בידיהם. וראה ברוה״ק שבימי נח ישוב הטבע למקומה. וזהו משמעות ומעצבון ידינו. ואח״כ פי׳ הכתוב מלשון תנחומין:

THIS ONE WILL CONSOLE US – One might be tempted to say that this word is from the root “console,” and Rashi has rebutted this on the basis that the name “Noach” is not consistent with this root and has explained that it is derived from the root “rest.” According to Rashi, the word here is inexact. However, one need not to resort to this explanation, it is possible to understand the word in both senses. “Comfort” only applies to ongoing permanent tragedies, and not ones that arise from human activity and evil that arose during the days of Noah. Similarly, “rest” does not apply to the land, which was permanently cursed by God (since the land remained in this state even after the flood.) The name “Noah” includes both roots – “comfort” and “rest.” This is why the word is spelled nun-chet without a third letter, so that it can be considered a cognate of both roots. “This one will console us” can be understood in both senses, similar to Rashi’s explanation.

Bartenura:

זה ינחמנו ממעשנו וכו’ קשה לפי הפשטה וכי נביאים היו שזה עתיד להניח להם. וי”ל לפי שכתוב ארורה האדמה בעבורך וכו’ עד שובך אל האדמם דמשמע כשימות אדם הראשון תבטל זאת הגזרה וכשנולד נח כבר מת אדם וצא וחשוב שנותיו ותמצאם כלין כ”ו שנה קודם לידת נח ולפי שהוא היה הראשון שנולד אחר מיתתו של אדם לכך אמרו עליו זה ינחמנו ממעשנו וכו’

The Bartenura says there were only 26 years between the death of Adam and the birth of Noah.  Maybe there is a mistake in the Bartenura and he means 126 years.

Aderet Eliyaho:

The Aderat Eliyaho answers the question like the third answer in the Ibn Ezra that the name given to a person was given after they accomplished in this world and the name would reflect their accomplishments.. 

לאמר זה ינחמנו. כשראו שינוי בארץ קראו אותו כן שקריאת שמותם לא היו ביום לידתם רק לשם המעשה בימיהם. מן האדמה שנתקללה בימי קין:

Conclusion:

I am not sure how to wrap all of this up into a neat package. I think the Netziv is the key.

Shabbos Teshuva – Parshas HaaZinu

The Torah in Breshis 37:29 – וַיִּשְׁמַ֣ע רְאוּבֵ֔ן וַיַּצִּלֵ֖הוּ מִיָּדָ֑ם וַיֹּ֕אמֶר לֹ֥א נַכֶּ֖נּוּ נָֽפֶשׁ׃  .  The Midrash says on this Pasuk:

 אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מֵעוֹלָם לֹא חָטָא אָדָם לְפָנַי וְעָשָׂה תְּשׁוּבָה, וְאַתָּה פָּתַחְתָּ בִּתְשׁוּבָה תְּחִלָּה, חַיֶּיךָ שֶׁבֶּן בִּנְךָ עוֹמֵד וּפוֹתֵחַ בִּתְשׁוּבָה תְּחִלָּה, וְאֵיזֶה זֶה הוֹשֵׁעַ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (הושע יד, ב): שׁוּבָה יִשְׂרָאֵל עַד ה’ אֱלֹהֶיךָ.

Hashem said , “there has never been a time ever when a man sin before me and did teshuva. you were the first one to do teshuva. I swear that your son will stand and open the way to teshuva. And this was Hosea who said “return Israel unto Hashem, your Gd”. 

The question is obvious, didn’t אָדָ֗ם and קַ֥יִן who lived well before Ruvain repent.  The Sefer Kol Simcha, the Torah of the Rebi Reb Simcha of Peryshischa,  explains that the Medresh means that Ruvain did Teshuvah even though he did not sin.  Ruvain did not sin when Joseph was sold, yet he repented. Just the opposite, Ruvain wanted to save Joseph and return Joseph to their father. 

The Pilaver answers that the the Rebi, Reb Bunim means that  Ruvain was מֵחָדָשׁ (initiated) a new form of repentance.  Even if your intent is good, as long as your ultimate goal and the goodness  you wanted to result did not come to fruition, in a certain sense you failed and Teshuva is needed.   When Ruvain saw that his ultimate goal will not happen and that Joseph will not be reunited with their father, when he  saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he  tore his clothes.  As verse 37:29 says  וַיָּ֤שָׁב רְאוּבֵן֙ אֶל־הַבּ֔וֹר וְהִנֵּ֥ה אֵין־יוֹסֵ֖ף בַּבּ֑וֹר וַיִּקְרַ֖ע אֶת־בְּגָדָֽיו׃ .becuase his ultimate goal was not fulfilled and he felt that he failed, therefore Ruvain repented.

Similarly Ruvain’s descendant opened a new path in Teshuva. What was  הושע ‘s new path of Tshuva?   Teshuva is re-connecting to God.   Teshuva is not just חרטת חטאים, regretting sins as הושע said כִּ֥י כָשַׁ֖לְתָּ בַּעֲוֺנֶֽךָ׃.  The Pilaver says 

 כי הושע פּתח פּתח חדשׁ

לתשׁובה עמוקה ,ולימד לשוב בּהודיה על חלק הטוב  – שלא יופסק מאתנו לעולם להתקשר בחלק שבלב מקדושתו יתבּרך  

Translated as follows:   הושע opened up a new path for Tshuva that is profound.  Hosea taught us to reconnect with thanks to Hashem on the טוב, the goodness that is contained with each of us.  That goodness in our soul is never severed from us and we are always attached to the portion in our hearts that is directly from Hashem.  That goodness is our Godly soul.   

Therefore every year on Rosh Hashanah the Jewish people’s inner connection to Hashem is awakened through the blowing of the Shofer when we renew God’s Kingship. (There is no mention on Rosh Hashana of asking forgiveness of our sins.  This is because we want to feel a closeness to God first, and once we are tightly bound to God, we ask for forgiveness of our sins on Yom Kippur.)  

As it says in Pslams 89:16  אַשְׁרֵ֣י הָ֭עָם יוֹדְעֵ֣י תְרוּעָ֑ה יְ֝הוָ֗ה בְּֽאוֹר־פָּנֶ֥יךָ יְהַלֵּכֽוּן׃.   First we reconnect to God with the sounds of the Shofer and then we walk in the light of Your presence.   (This may  even occur before we ask forgiveness for our sins or it may mean once we reunite, God will easily forgive our sins.      הושע referenced this idea in 14:3 when he says in the below Pasuk וְקַח־ט֔וֹב –

קְח֤וּ עִמָּכֶם֙ דְּבָרִ֔ים וְשׁ֖וּבוּ אֶל־יְהוָ֑ה אִמְר֣וּ אֵלָ֗יו כָּל־תִּשָּׂ֤א עָוֺן֙ וְקַח־ט֔וֹב וּֽנְשַׁלְּמָ֥ה פָרִ֖ים שְׂפָתֵֽינוּ׃

This attachment was worked on by our Holy forefathers that this world never be severed from the influences of “good”.  Like it is referenced in Hosea 12:13 –     וַיִּבְרַ֥ח יַעֲקֹ֖ב שְׂדֵ֣ה אֲרָ֑ם וַיַּעֲבֹ֤ד יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ בְּאִשָּׁ֔ה וּבְאִשָּׁ֖ה שָׁמָֽר׃

Then Jacob had to flee to the land of Aram; There Israel served for a wife, For a wife he had to guard [sheep].

Just like Yaakov first married Rachel and then he worked seven years.  He was bound to Rachel, to her goodness  and then he was he worked for seven years.  This is the way of service to God.  

Hosea Verse 14:3 says  קְח֤וּ עִמָּכֶם֙ דְּבָרִ֔ים וְשׁ֖וּבוּ אֶל־יְהוָ֑ה אִמְר֣וּ אֵלָ֗יו כָּל־תִּשָּׂ֤א עָוֺן֙ וְקַח־ט֔וֹב וּֽנְשַׁלְּמָ֥ה פָרִ֖ים שְׂפָתֵֽינוּ׃

 Say to Him: “Forgive all guilt And accept what is good; Instead of bulls we will pay [The offering of] our lips.

This means that this is the “good, to give thanks  to God that our inner attachment has never been broken by Hashem, because through this good we reattach ourselves to our source (God).

This is also referenced in the above Pasek when it says  כָּל־תִּשָּׂ֤א עָוֺן֙ – anyone who is has sinned take the goodness that is inside you and reconnent.    It does not say    .  כל עון תשׂא – all sins forgive, that Heshem should forgive all sins.   Similarly in Devorim Rabah 8:1 by Kayan  –   אָמַר לְפָנָיו רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם כָּל הָעוֹלָם אַתָּה סוֹבֵל וְלַעֲוֹנִי אִי אַתָּה סוֹבֵל.  It is not the sins that God has patience for but for the sinner himself who gets closer to God.  

This is because when God constricted himself in creation, it was for the enabling for God’s Holiness to have a place in this world, buried within us in    הסתר, also the השפּעה העליונה.  And therefore once we are close to God, Hashem has to bear our sins.        

August 15, 2020 – Shabbos – Parshas Re’eh

My Speech on the Parsha

Passing of Rabbi Adin Evan-Israel Steinsaltz

Cholent by Rachelle and Aryeh Benjamin.


My Speech on the Parsha

Chapter 11, Verse 26 states:

  רְאֵ֗ה אָנֹכִ֛י נֹתֵ֥ן לִפְנֵיכֶ֖ם הַיּ֑וֹם בְּרָכָ֖ה וּקְלָלָֽה׃

“See, this day I set before you blessing and curse”

The word רְאֵ֗ה is singular and the word לִפְנֵיכֶ֖ם is plural.  The question is why.  The Kli Yakar says:

Look, I place before you today. “See” is singular. “Before you” is plural. This is what our Sages teach us: A person must always view things as if the entire world is half righteous and half wicked. If he performs a single mitzvah he tips himself and the entire world to the side of merit. Therefore Moshe spoke to every individual, “See” that he should see in his thought that every single action affects all of them.

The Kotzker asks the question and answers based on the Zohar on the words in Exodus 18:1 –

וַיִּשְׁמַ֞ע יִתְר֨וֹ .  The entire world heard about the miracles, the Jews leaving Egypt, the splitting of the sea, and everything else, but Yisro heard and acted.  Same thing when something is giving, everyone is included because it is given to everyone. Equally., but when it comes to seeing and perception, everyone is different, because everyone sees things through their efforts and understanding.   

Similarly, the Kotzker says the Shevous is called “the time of the giving of the Torah,” not “the time of the acceptance of the Torah” because God gave the same Torah to everyone, but everyone accepted it differently.  

The understanding of Torah is based on what we put into a piece of Torah. Written Torah is two dimensional; sometimes the Torah even in a two dimensional format is profound by itself.  However, many times  the Torah seems flat and the reader must put his being and thoughts into the Torah.to bring out the profundity of what is being said.  This differs from person to person, based on their level of learning, life experiences, age, childhood, and everything else that makes up a person.

There is a story in the book, Siach Sarfei Kodesh, about the RIM that takes place in roughly 1815.  After the RIM’s marriage and spending three months with the Koshnitzer Magid, who was the Shadchen, the RIM moved to Warsaw to live by his father-in-law.  The Lissa Rav – Yaakov ben Moshe Lorberbaum of Lissa (1760-1832)  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yaakov_Lorberbaum)  had a question he could not answer.  The RIM (1787-1866), answered the question.  The Lissa Rav stood for a few moments in deep thought and said – that I answer the question this way and the RIM says another answer.  I can engage in debate with the RIM, however, ultimately I know he is right.  I do not want to engage in

debate because through the power of debate and persuasion I may get him to change his answer, and I know he is right.  The truth lies with him.    

Interesting that the Lissa Rov learned in the Yeshiva of Rabbi Yosef Hochgelenter in Zamusz, the same yeshiva that the Kotzker Rebbe learned years later.

This is a nice story, but would like to add my learning and understanding into the Torah and bring out the WOW of the story. 

The RIM was born in 1799, while the Lissa Rov was born in 1760. The Lissa Rav was the Gadol Hador of Torah Jewry at that time.  Per Rabbi Dishon, the RIM this story takes place when the RIM was a teenager, roughly in 1815.  Therefore at the time this meeting took place, the Lissa Rov was 55, while the RIM was 16.   The Lissa Rav did not let ego get in the way.  He was willing to recognize the truth in what the RIM said, someone who was only 16.   Even more amazing.   The RIM was a Chassidic young man.   Imagine a Chassid answering the Misnagdic Gadol Hador.    The Misnagdim were locked into a fight with the Chassidim for the hearts and minds of Jewry.   Misnagidm claimed that Chassdim were ignorant and did not produce Torah scholars.  The RIM disproved this.   The Lissa Rav could have been bribed by the need to fight and disprove the RIM simply because we Misnagdim do not like Chassidim.  As we say, bribery twists the truth.  The Llissa Rov could have disagreed on a conscious or subconscious level  with the RIM because a Chosid cannot learn like a Misnagid, so therefore the RIM had to be wrong.  Or even if he recognized that the RIM was correct, he may have purposely disagreed with the RIM so as not to acknowledge the greatness of the Torah of a Chosid.  

Had ego been a factor or a Misnagdic dislike for the Chassid, the Lissa Rav would not have had a clear mind to see the truth in the RIM’s answe and  the Lissa Rav could have argued with the RIM and perhaps gotten the RIM to change his mind.  Remember, the Lissa Rav had memorized the entire Shas, Rishonim, and Poskim in his mind.  Had he had an agenda, then he would have fought the RIM.  However, the Lissa Rav was committed to the truth in Torah and publicly admitted that this Chassidic young man is correct.

This is how Torah has to be learned and why Torah is not the same for everyone.

Passing of Rabbi Adin Evan-Israel Steinsaltz:

On Friday, August 7, Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinslatz passed away.  He was a prolific author, an inspiration to many people, and was one the first to make Gemoro accessible to the masses.   He was generous with his time.  He grew up in Israel, not Orthodox, and became a great Torah scholar.  He was the living embodiment of the Kli Yakar.  He was an individual that made a major impact on the entire Jewish people.  He did not live for himself, but to spread Torah and educate Jewry.  He was a Lubivatcher, but his Yeshivas were in the Dati Leumi world.   I failed to meet him and am diminished for not having met him or heard him speak. The closest I came to him was in 2015 when I was in Israel visiting Chani, my daughter who was at Seminary, I happened upon the Tzemach Tzedek shul located at the start of the Arab Shuk that leads to the Damascus gate.  I came after davening.  I was told that Rabbi Steinsaltz davens in the Shul.

His history is detailed on the website:   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adin_Steinsaltz

RabbiAdin Even-Israel Steinsaltz
עדין אבן-ישראל שטיינזלץ‎
Rabbi Adin Even-Israel (Steinsaltz) (cropped).JPGSteinsaltz in 2010
BornAdin Steinsaltz11 July 1937Jerusalem, Mandatory Palestine(now Israel)
Died7 August 2020 (aged 83)Jerusalem, Israel
Resting placeHar HaZeitim
NationalityIsrael
Alma materHebrew University of Jerusalem
OccupationRabbi, author
Notable workThe Talmud: The Steinsaltz Edition
SpouseChildrenSaraMenachem, Amechaye, Esther Sheleg

Cholent by Rachelle and Aryeh Benjamin.

For lunch I had Cholent by my cousins, the Benjamins.  Rachelle’s cholent was fabulous.  No garlic.  I came at 12:40 PM and was the guest who never left, leaving at 4:00 PM.  This is the fourth Shabbos of “going for Cholent by my family”.  I previously have been to Yonatan Glenner, Mayer Chase, and Eliyahu Glenner.