Parshas Matos – Masei

Shabbos Parshas Matos – Masei

July 18,2020

This past week I heard a great speech from Rabbi Steven Weil, executive director of the OU gave a great speech on the burning of the Talmud.  I also heard Rabbi Sugerman give a Shiur on Hiddur Mitzvah in regards to Milah.  There is a Machlokos Rashi and the Rambam in how to learn the Gemora 133B  of Zizin – shreds that do not impede the circumcision.  This is compared to Hiddur Mitzvah of the candles of Chanukah.  There is a Brisker Rov that explains the Machlokes.  I also heard a lecture sponsored by Lubavitch of Washington, moderated by Rabbi Shemtov.  Two of his congregants, Stuart Eizenstat and Tevi Tory both came out with books.  Both worked for Presidents, Stuart Eizenstat with President Jimmy Carter and Tevi Troy for President George W. Bush.   I purchased Tevi Tory’s book,

Thursday – July 17, 2020:

Eli, Tzvi, and I had a private tour of 522 W. Deming,  the house that Jim Petrozzini, my customer lived at while he was alive.  It has been completely remodeled and restored back to its 1886 elegance.   ttps://

Shabbos – July 19, 2020:  

We ate lunch by Rivkie and Mordy and had great Cholent.

I spoke before Musaf on the following two Verses in Parshas Matos:

Chapter 30, Verse 2:

וַיְדַבֵּ֤ר מֹשֶׁה֙ אֶל־רָאשֵׁ֣י הַמַּטּ֔וֹת לִבְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל לֵאמֹ֑ר זֶ֣ה הַדָּבָ֔ר אֲשֶׁ֖ר צִוָּ֥ה יְהוָֽה׃

Chapter 30, Verse 3:

אִישׁ֩ כִּֽי־יִדֹּ֨ר נֶ֜דֶר לַֽיהוָ֗ה אֽוֹ־הִשָּׁ֤בַע שְׁבֻעָה֙ לֶאְסֹ֤ר אִסָּר֙ עַל־נַפְשׁ֔וֹ לֹ֥א יַחֵ֖ל דְּבָר֑וֹ כְּכָל־הַיֹּצֵ֥א מִפִּ֖יו יַעֲשֶֽׂה׃  

First Dvar Torah:

Rashi explains  זֶ֣ה הַדָּבָ֔ר  two ways.  The first explanation uses the word   זֶ֣ה as used the same way when Hashem instructed Moshe Kiddush Levana in Exodus 12:2, the half-Shekel in Exodus 13:3,  the Menorah.  Hashem actually showed Moshe what a new moon and a half-shekel looked like.  .  What has to be understood is that in this Parsha of vows,  Hashem is not showing Moshe a physical object but giving him laws which are verbal.    

The answer is that Rashi is telling us that when giving over Torah it has to be clear as if it is the words of God.  Perfect.   A teacher has to say with confidence and clarity    זֶ֣ה הַדָּבָ֔ר.   Someone giving over Torah cannot read Gemora in a confusing and mumbling manner.  The Rebbe has to paint the picture so the student sees the concepts in his mind. For most of my adult life I was a  “כֹה אָמַר ה – lacking clarity, saying this is kind of what it the Torah means.

Words of Rashi and the Mizrachi:

 זה הדבר. מֹשֶׁה נִתְנַבֵּא בְּ”כֹה אָמַר ה’ כַּחֲצֹת הַלַּיְלָה” (שמות י”א) וְהַנְּבִיאִים נִתְנַבְּאוּ בְּ”כֹה אָמַר ה'”, מוּסָף עֲלֵיהֶם מֹשֶׁה שֶׁנִּתְנַבֵּא בִּלְשׁוֹן “זֶה הַדָּבָר”

זה הדבר  – THIS IS THE WORD — Moses prophesied with the words (introduced his message by the statement), “Thus saith the Lord, About midnight [will I go into the midst of Egypt]” (Exodus 11:4), and other prophets also prophesied with “Thus saith the Lord”, Moses, however, had an additional superiority in that he prophesied also with the expression “This is the actual word [that God hath spoken]” (Sifrei Bamidbar 153:2).

The Mizrachi and Sefsei Chacomin quoting the Mizrachi explains Rashi that Moshe initially and all the Prophets did not get a translucent revelation from God.  It is called a   באספקלריאה שאינה מאירה and this is represented by the words used in the Torah “כֹה אָמַר ה’ – so said Hashem.  They are telling the essence of what God said but not completely the actual thoughts and words of Hashem.  After Har Sinai, Hashem spoke directly to Moshe, as it is stated elsewhere פּה אל פּה.          

The Mizrachi: זה הדבר משה נתנבא בכה אמר וכל הנביאים נתנבאו בכה אמר מוסף עליהם משה שנתנבא בלשון זה הדבר. בספרי מלת כה מורה על מכוון הענין ומלת זה מורה על הענין *הרמוז*  בעינו ומפני שכל הנביאים לא נתנבאו רק באספקלריאה שאינה מאירה ואין בם יכולת לקבל רק המכוון מן הענין שהראוי להם הוכרחו להזכיר בלשונם כה אמר יי’ שפירושו המכוון מדבריו לא הדברים בעינם ומשה רבינו ע”ה בעבור שנבואתו היתה על ידי האספקלריאה המאירה והיה בו כח לקבל מה שהראו לו בעינו כפי מה שהוא הוזכיר בלשונו זה הדבר שפירושו זה הדבר בעינו מבלתי שום שינוי כלל ומפני שמשה רבינו בתחלת נבואתו עדיין לא עלה אל המדרגה שזכה בה באחרונה הוכרח גם הוא להזכי’ בלשונו כה אמר יי’ בהרבה מקומות ומשזכה באספקלריאה המאירה שוב לא הזכיר בלשונו רק זה הדבר וזה שאמרו משה נתנבא בכה אמר רוצה לומר בתחלת נבואתו וכל הנביאים בכה אמר ר”ל תמיד מוסף עליהם משה שנתנב’ בלשון זה הדבר ר”ל משזכה באספקלריא’ המאירה ואילך:                                              *This word seems wrong and should be erased.*

Rabbi Elya Brudney spoke over a Reb Yehoshua Leib Disken on the difference between Moshe’s prophecy and all the other prophets.  Moshe prophesied the drrects words and intent of God.  All the other prophets had a vision that what was conveyed was filtered through each prophets level of spirituality and their personalities.  Meaning that if a prophets had an angry disposition, the prophecy would be raw and harsh.  If the prophet had a more mellow personality the prophecy would be softer.  The interpretation is different based on who the prophet is.  It sounded good when I heard it, but it is hard to understand.

The question is that the Torah uses the language   זֶ֣ה הַדָּבָ֔ר in a number of places to introduce a set of laws.  Why did Rashi choose to say his explanation and nowhere else?  The answer may be that the laws of “waiving vows” by a Halachici expert is not explicitly stated in the Torah.  It is only hinted to.   Moshe had to be clear when speaking to the people on the source and how to waive a vow.

The Mishna in Chagigah 10B says:

מתני׳ היתר נדרים פורחין באויר ואין להם על מה שיסמכו

MISHNA: Incidental to the Festival peace-offering, the mishna describes the nature of various areas of Torah study. The halakhot of the dissolution of vows, when one requests from a Sage to dissolve them, fly in the air and have nothing to support them, as these halakhot are not mentioned explicitly in the Torah. There is only a slight allusion to the dissolution of vows in the Torah, which is taught by the Sages as part of the oral tradition.

Second Dvar Torah

Five Questions on these two verses:

A – The Torah does not start out with, “and God spoke to Moshe” as it does everywhere else.

B – How do you translate   לִבְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל ?  Both Artscroll, Lubavitch (Gutnick), and Sefaria all translate it as, “And Moshe spoke to the head of the tribes of the Isralites.”   However, when you read the Verse it can be translated as – “And Moshe spoke to the heads of the tribes, who are to speak to the Isralites.”  This seems to be the better translation.

C – Verse 3 says that if a man makes a vow “to Hashem”.  What does to Hashem mean.  Rashi does not say what is the vow to Hashem.    Rashi says,   נדר. הָאוֹמֵר הֲרֵי עָלַי קוֹנָם שֶׁלֹּא אֹכַל אוֹ שֶׁלֹּא אֶעֱשֶׂה דָבָר פְּלוֹנִי;  does not take about a Vow to Harshem.  It is simply a vow not to eat something or do an action.  What is the “To Hasem”

Additionally, why does Rashi say that the from of the vow  is using the work  הֲרֵי עָלַי קוֹנָם – Konum.  The form of the vow is “it should be as a Korban to me that I will not eat.”   Why didn’t Rashi simply say, that a person makes a vow not to eat.   Is it perhaps that if one says, I make a vow not to eat, that this is not a vow that binds him according to the Torah.  

D – What is the translation of    לֶאְסֹ֤ר אִסָּר֙ – Artscoll says to prohibit a prohibiton, which is almost meaningless.  The true translation is to forbid something that is permitted.  Lubavitch translates it seemingly more correctly as “makes an oath to prohibit himself”.   

E – What does  לֹ֥א יַחֵ֖ל דְּבָר֑וֹ mean?


Let me start with Question E – What does  לֹ֥א יַחֵ֖ל דְּבָר֑וֹ mean?  There are four translations of the word  יַחֵ֖ל.

  1. Rashi and Ibn Ezra – Both say do not make your words profane.  This implied that by making a vow your words are sacred and by violating them you have made your words profane.

             Rashi:   ( לא יחל דברו. כְּמוֹ לֹא יְחַלֵּל דְּבָרוֹ — לֹא יַעֲשֶׂה דְּבָרוֹ חֻלִּין (שם

            Ibn Ezra:      לא יחל דברו. כמו לא יחלל ואיננו לשון מחילה 

The Ibn Ezra adds something that to me is mysterious.  He says that   יחל does not express forgiveness.  Huh? Forgiveness – why would anyone think the explanation is forgiveness when the Torah seems to be clearly talking about profane, violation,

This is how Artscroll translates  לא יחל דברו – do not profane your words.

     2) אונקלוס   and Mosef Rashi – to violate, to nullify. 

Onkalis:    לָא יְבַטַּל פִּתְגָּמֵיהּ.

Mosef Rashi from Tanis 7B –    רוח צפון תחולל גשם ופנים נזעמים לשון שקר – תחולל תבטל כמו לא יחל דברו

                                                            (במדבר ל׳:ג׳)

This is how Lubavitch Chumash translates  לא יחל דברו – do not violate your words.  Sefaria translates it similarly – “you should not break your pledge”.

    3) Comes along the Kli Yakar and says that יחל is expressed as מחילה.   

First he explains question B as follows that the translation of לִבְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל is that the heads of the tribes are to speak to the Jewish people and he clearly says that the word  יחל is מחילה. The correct  translation of לִבְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל  leads to his translation of Lo Yachal Diburo.

The Kli Yakar on verse 2:

 וידבר משה אל ראשי המטות. מה דבר אל ראשי המטות לבני ישראל לאמר, דבר אל ראשי המטות 

שיאמרו איזו  דבר לבני ישראל ולא פירש עדיין מה יאמרו ראשי המטות אל בני ישראל, עד שהגיד להם 

פרשת נדרים שחייב ראש המטה לאמר אל הנודר מותר לך, וזו היא האמירה שצוה לראשי המטות

שיאמרו לבני ישראל ועליה אמר לא יחל דברו הוא עצמו לא יחל אבל אחרים מחלין את דברו ועל זה

אמר ככל היוצא מפיו של החכם המתיר לו, כן יעשה, אם לקיים, או להתיר.

Kli Yakur on verse 3 again repeats this:     

 לא יחל דברו. אבל אחרים מחלין דברו טעם להיתר נדרים ביחיד מומחה או בג’ הדיוטות שנקראו בית דין,  

The Kli Yakur seems to be based on the Gemoro in Chagigah that clearly says this.

אמר רב יהודה אמר שמואל אי הואי התם אמרי להו דידי עדיפא מדידכו שנאמר (במדבר ל, ג) לא יחל 

דברו הוא אינו מוחל אבל אחרים מוחלין לו 

Thank you Rabbi Revach for this Gemoro although Rabbi Revach seems to disagree with my Pshat in the Kli Yakar. 


The Kli Yakar also explains the language of  נֶ֜דֶר לַֽיהוָ֗ה –   as follows:

The Torah is talking about a vow that is for God.  Only a person who is of calm mind and body and he takes a vow, is someone who is uplifting himself, not someone who vows in anger.

איש כי ידור נדר לה’. שני מיני נדרים הם כי הנודר בכעסו לאסור על עצמו איזו דבר נדר זה אינו לה’, 

ודווקא איש כי ידור כשהוא איש מיושב בדעתו קרינן ביה האדם בשבועה (שבועות כו.) והוא הנודר לה’

4) The Rashbam, Reb Shmuel Ben Meir, Rashi’s Grandson who translates   לא יחל דברו as one should not delay his pledge of a Korban. 

 The Rashbaum has a completely differently understanding of the Pesukim as follows:

 וידבר משה אל ראשי המטות – נשאלתי ביוניוב [=שם עיר] בכרך לושרון [=שם מחוז בצרפת]. לפי הפשט היכן מצינו שום פרשה שמתחלת כן? שלא נאמר למעלה וידבר ה’ אל משה לאמר איש כי ידור וגו’. והיאך מתחלת הפרשה בדיבורו של משה שאין מפורש לו מפי הגבורה? וזה תשובתי: למעלה כתיב: אלה תעשו לה’ במועדיכם לבד מנדריכם ונדבותיכם – שאתם צריכין להביא באחד משלש רגלים משום בל תאחר כמפורש במסכת ר”ה, הלך משה ודבר אל ראשי המטות שהם שופטים להורות לישראל הלכות נדרים ואמר להם הקב”ה צוה לי שיקרבו נדריהם ונדבותם ברגל פן יאחרו נדריהם. לפיכך –  


איש כי ידור נדר לה’ – קרבן. או השבע שבועה – לענות נפשו.

לאסור אסר – לא יחל דברו – מוסב על הנדר. כלומר, לא יאחר את נדרו עד

לאחר הרגלים כמו שציום הקב”ה שכך פירש: לא יחל כמו: ויחל עד בוש. 

ויחל עוד שבעת ימים. יחל ישראל אל ה’ – ימתין ויחכה לו. והמפרש לשון 

חלול לפי הפשט טעות הוא בידו.

(1) IMPOSING AN OBLIGATION ON HIMSELF … HE SHALL NOT BREAK HIS PLEDGE. This refers to the vow offering. In other words, he must not delay his vow offering until after the festivals, as the Holy One, blessed be He, commanded. For this is the explanation of “he shall not break [lo yahel],” as in (Jud. 3:25) “He waited [actually, “They waited”] a long time”; (Gen. 8:10) “He waited another seven days”; (Ps. 130:7) “O Israel, wait for the LORD” — wait and anticipate Him. And one who explains [this] as an expression of desecration [hilul] according to the straightforward sense is in error.

The end of the Rashbam is incredible.  The Rashbam says  “those who translate this as an expression of desecration ( חלול ) according to the straightforward sense is in error.”  He is saying that Rashi, his grandfather, is wrong.  This lets the reader into an intimacy with the Rashbam and his grandfather.  Yes, my grandfather is wrong.   

Additionally, normally the Rashbam uses the Pasur Pshat – straightforward explanation and here he is saying do not use it.


July 15, 2020

Mitchell A. Morgenstern

6110 N. Sacramento

Chicago, IL  60659

(773) 647-8097

Born – September 18, 1953

Job Search

I am looking for a job that matches my experience and strengths in Commercial Lending – Primarily Healthcare   


MB Financial Bank – Fifth Third Bank                          November 1986 – March 2020

Started out as a commercial lender with Peterson Bank, a $200 million Bank in Chicago..  Bank was acquired by Manufacturers Bank and as it grew changed its name to MB Financial Bank.  MB was acquired by Fifth Third Bank in March 2019.   I was offered a choice between continuing with Fifth Third Bank or taking severance.  I chose severance.

In 2005, I was promoted to Senior Vice President – Division Head responsible for the Lincolnwood Office.  At its peak I oversaw a staff of six individuals.  We built up the department to $275 million in loans with $125 million in deposits.  The portfolio  was 50% in health care loans, with 35% in real estate loans and  15% in commercial loans.  This portfolio consisted 100% of relationship banking with zero participations purchased.

In 2014 my department was instructed to focus 100% on healthcare loans.  I was allowed to retain my existing non-Healthcare customers.   Our department focused on retaining relationships and building our share in the local market.   At the same time my department built up a national presence in the Assisted Living and Memory Care Market, financing projects across the country.  

In 2017 my responsibilities changed and my title changed to Managing Director – National Healthcare.  My job was to continue to support my customer base and source relationships.   


FDIC – Chicago, IL                                                        November 1977 – October 1986

Bank Examiner responsible for Safety and Soundness, and compliance examinations.


Roosevelt University, Chicago, IL                                      September 1974 – June 1977

BSBA – Accounting


CPA – 1977



Week of July 4, 2020

Week ending July 4, 2020 – 12 Tammuz 

Yisroel Yaakov Ben Avrohom Meir – My father’s 18th Yahrzeit

July 1 -3, 1863 – Battle of Gettysburg

July 4, 1863 – Day after the Battle of Gettysburg

Independence Day – Imperfect Men with a Perfect God

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Yisroel Yaakov Ben Avrohom Meir – My father’s 18th Yahrzeit

Friday, July 3, 2020 was the 11th of Tammuz, my father’s 18th Yahrzeit.  He died on a Friday, the same as this year.  I still remember getting a call from the nursing home to come as my father’s health is failing and that  he is short on this world.  I remember clearly being with him as he took his last breath in this world.  As his soul left him, one tear fell from his eye, seemingly a regret.  Lisa and I were in the room, with Karen on the phone.

Independence Day 2020 –

July 1 -3, 1863 – Battle of Gettysburg

July 4, 1863 – Day after the Battle of Gettysburg

This week was the 157th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg.  Unfortunately all celebrations, programs and battle walks were cancelled.  I hope one day to be at Gettysburg.  I watched as much as I could.  I really did not learn anything new.  I rewatched General John Buford’s great soliloquy to his second in command on June 30th 1863, the day before the Gettysburg Battle.  I did read up on  General Gouverneur Warren.  Gouverneur Kemble Warren (January 8, 1830 – August 8, 1882) was an American civil engineer and Union Army general during the American Civil War. He is best remembered for arranging the last-minute defense of Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg and is often referred to as the “Hero of Little Round Top.”.

July 4, 1863 was a rainy day at Gettysburg.  The field was littered with dead soldiers and dead animals.  It was as if the heavens cried at the loss of life.  President Trump in his July 3rd Mt. Rushmore speech gave gratitude to the Union army at Gettysburg when they defeated Pickett’s charge.  Abraham Lincoln won the civil war, declared the Emancipation Declaration and paid for it with his life.

Imperfect Men with a Perfect God.

Right before Shabbos I was watching Fox news and they had the governor of South Dakota on.  She said a great line that is still reverberating in me.  The forefathers of America who were heroes were nonetheless Imperfect Men with a Perfect God.


Shabbos Parshas Chukas – Balak July 4, 2020

July 4, 2020 – 12 Tammuz 

Parshas Chukas – Balak:

Summer Heat

Dvar Torah – Mei Merivah – Waters of Strife

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Summer Heat:

This Shabbos Hashem brought the heat.  It was hot.  We walked to Rivkie and Mordy’s house where I sat on their patio for 2 hours and worked on my Dvar Torah.

Dvar Torah – Mei Merivah – Waters of Strife

I looked over my notes on Chukkas and expanded on it this year.  The following is my explanation of the Mei Merivah of Moshe hitting the rock and losing his right to go into Israel.  

The following two questions have always plagued me.


  •  How were the Jews allowed to go into Israel when the children seemingly were the same as their parents. The generation of the desert died in the desert because they challenged God and were not allowed to go in,    They also said why did you take us out of Egypt.  


  • What was exactly Moshe’s sin?


To answer the two above questions, let us understand the sequence of Verses and how to interpret them.

Summary of my answer and more fully explained afterwards:

  1. 38 years pass
  2. No water, thirst
  3. The people need water and ask in a harsh way
  4. They called the desert a wretched place, with no crops.
  5. They were rejecting their parents’ lives.  They wanted what God wanted for their parents  38 years ago.  
  6. They rejected the completely spiritual lifestyle
  7. Moshe misinterprets this and thinks they are no different than their fathers and perhaps would not be allowed to go into Israel.
  8. Moshe is angry because he wrongly believes his teachings for the past for 38 years is a complete failure.  
  9. God sets up a scenario that will almost certainly fail because as we know by the burning bush and Eldad and Medad that Moshe will not go into Israel.
  10.  God gives Moshe seemingly conflicting instructions.
  11. There were 600,000 people  packed before the rock breathing down Moshe’s neck.
  12. Moshe loses his Ruach Hakodesh and does not know where the rock to give forth water is located.
  13. God switches the rock around and puts the correct one in front of Moshe.  Moshe and the people fail to recognize the switch happening under their eyes.
  14. The last two words in this Parsha  was that Hashem was sanctified.

Explanation following the Verses:

Chapter 20 – Verse 1:

וַיָּבֹ֣אוּ בְנֵֽי־יִ֠שְׂרָאֵל כָּל־הָ֨עֵדָ֤ה מִדְבַּר־צִן֙ בַּחֹ֣דֶשׁ הָֽרִאשׁ֔וֹן וַיֵּ֥שֶׁב הָעָ֖ם בְּקָדֵ֑שׁ וַתָּ֤מָת שָׁם֙ מִרְיָ֔ם וַתִּקָּבֵ֖ר שָֽׁם׃

The Israelites, the entire assembly,  arrived at the wilderness of Zin on the first new moon, and the people stayed at Kadesh. Miriam died there and was buried there.

Rashi says:   כל העדה. עֵדָה הַשְּׁלֵמָה, שֶׁכְּבָר מֵתוּ מֵתֵי מִדְבָּר וְאֵלּוּ פֵרְשׁוּ לַחַיִּים:

This Passuk takes place 38 years later.  Parshas Korah and the laws of Parah Adumah took place during year 2 after leaving Egypt.  This innocuous Verse takes place 38 years later.  What happened during the 38 years.  My assumption is nothing.  Life settled into a routine.   For years I did not realize that this Passuk is a transition.  The generation of the desert has died out and it is now time for the Jewish people to go into Israel.  God’s wish for the Jewish people will now be fulfilled.

Verse 2 –   וְלֹא־הָ֥יָה מַ֖יִם לָעֵדָ֑ה וַיִּקָּ֣הֲל֔וּ עַל־מֹשֶׁ֖ה וְעַֽל־אַהֲרֹֽן׃

The community was without water, and they joined against Moses and Aaron.

People are thirsty.  They are in a desert.  How did the people respond?

Verse 3  –    וַיָּ֥רֶב הָעָ֖ם עִם־מֹשֶׁ֑ה וַיֹּאמְר֣וּ לֵאמֹ֔ר וְל֥וּ גָוַ֛עְנוּ בִּגְוַ֥ע אַחֵ֖ינוּ לִפְנֵ֥י יְהוָֽה׃

The people quarreled with Moses, saying, “If only we had perished when (IBN Ezra and Radak) our brothers perished before Hashem.  Rashi interprets it as “If only we would perish with the same death as our brothers because dying of thirst is the most painful death.  Rashi seems to fit better based on my below Pshat.  They were not identifying with their parents, they were only saying that if we do not merit to go into Israel, please kill us the same way as our parents.

Rashi’s words:  בגוע אחינו. בְּמִיתַת אַחֵינוּ בַּדֶּבֶר, לִמֵּד שֶׁמִּיתַת צָמָא מְגֻנָּה מִמֶּנָּה:

 בגוע. שֵׁם דָּבָר הוּא, כְּמוֹ בְּמִיתַת אַחֵינוּ, וְלֹא יִתָּכֵן לְפָרְשׁוֹ כְּשֶׁמֵּתוּ אַחֵינוּ, שֶׁאִם כֵּן הָיָה לוֹ לִנָּקֵד בִּגְוֹעַ:

It seems that they do not simply ask Moshe to pray for water.  They fought with Moshe.  It is interesting to note that they use the words “when our brothers” when the people who died were their fathers and brothers who were over 20.  I do not have an answer for this.

Verse 4 – The people continue to criticise

וְלָמָ֤ה הֲבֵאתֶם֙ אֶת־קְהַ֣ל יְהוָ֔ה אֶל־הַמִּדְבָּ֖ר הַזֶּ֑ה לָמ֣וּת שָׁ֔ם אֲנַ֖חְנוּ וּבְעִירֵֽנוּ׃

Why have you brought Hashem’s congregation into this wilderness for us and our beasts to die there?

They refer to the people as “Hashem’s congregation”.  They are wrapping themselves in holiness, “Hashem’s congregation”.  They also seem to be blaming Moshe even though Moshe was only a messenger of God.  

Verse 5 – and it continues – 

וְלָמָ֤ה הֶֽעֱלִיתֻ֙נוּ֙ מִמִּצְרַ֔יִם לְהָבִ֣יא אֹתָ֔נוּ אֶל־הַמָּק֥וֹם הָרָ֖ע הַזֶּ֑ה לֹ֣א ׀ מְק֣וֹם זֶ֗רַע וּתְאֵנָ֤ה וְגֶ֙פֶן֙ וְרִמּ֔וֹן וּמַ֥יִם אַ֖יִן לִשְׁתּֽוֹת׃

Why did you make us leave Egypt to bring us to this wretched place, a place with no grain or figs or vines or pomegranates? There is not even water to drink!”

Amazing.  They use the same words of their fathers 38 years earlier.  They are the kids and were teenagers when their fathers uttered these words.  In the last 38 years,  they lived a spiritual life. a life of great comfort, where all needs were taken care of by God,   Yet they pushed back and seemingly rejected this life,,  and called the desert a wretched place.  They said that the desert is a wretched place “a place of no grain or figs or vines or pomegranates”.  They wanted normalcy, a life that combined spirituality and work, making your own way in life.

Yet 38 years earlier, their fathers rejected Israel precisely because it was a place that you have to work.  As the Satmar Rov and others say that they wanted to live a completely spiritual life, being fed  by God, living the ultimate Kollel life, with no suffering.  Now it seems that the kids are rejecting their parents’ choice.  They want a normal land, one in which they have to work hard, grow crops, feed their families by the sweat of their brow.   This is the nature of things.  It is a new generation and the kids want something different.  Society needs all types, those that are spiritual, those that go to the army, those that are farmers, all united together by the Torah and by great leaders.  This is the greatness of the Israeli army.  It is a reserve army so during war, everyone from all different walks of life report back to their army units.  In one unit, you will have a Torah scholar, a taxi driver,  a professor, and a laborer.  They bond together protecting the land of Israel.

Verse 6 –  וַיָּבֹא֩ מֹשֶׁ֨ה וְאַהֲרֹ֜ן מִפְּנֵ֣י הַקָּהָ֗ל אֶל־פֶּ֙תַח֙ אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֔ד וַֽיִּפְּל֖וּ עַל־פְּנֵיהֶ֑ם וַיֵּרָ֥א כְבוֹד־יְהוָ֖ה אֲלֵיהֶֽם׃ (פ

Moses and Aaron came away from the congregation to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, and fell on their faces. The Presence of the LORD appeared to them,

What is this Verse telling us?  Moshe and Aaron fell on their faces.  Moshe spent 38 years in the desert teaching and my assumption is preparing the new generation for their future in Israel.  At the first crisis, the new generation seems no different than the generation of the desert.  They accuse Moshe of bad faith.  Moshe is frustrated, he is upset, he falls on his face.  Hashem does not criticise the Jewish people.  He tells Moshe in a calm manner, this is what to do.

Verse 8:

קַ֣ח אֶת־הַמַּטֶּ֗ה וְהַקְהֵ֤ל אֶת־הָעֵדָה֙ אַתָּה֙ וְאַהֲרֹ֣ן אָחִ֔יךָ וְדִבַּרְתֶּ֧ם אֶל־הַסֶּ֛לַע לְעֵינֵיהֶ֖ם וְנָתַ֣ן מֵימָ֑יו וְהוֹצֵאתָ֨ לָהֶ֥ם מַ֙יִם֙ מִן־הַסֶּ֔לַע וְהִשְׁקִיתָ֥ אֶת־הָעֵדָ֖ה וְאֶת־בְּעִירָֽם׃

“You and your brother Aaron take the rod and assemble the community, and before their very eyes order the rock to yield its water. Thus you shall produce water for them from the rock and provide drink for the congregation and their beasts.”

The instructions to Moshe while seemingly clear is confusing.  If Moshe is to speak to the stone, then why take the rod.   The Kli Yakar brings this out in the next verse, verse 9, that says Moshe took the rod that was before Hashem, Aaron’s rod that was set aside for future generations to see that God is life giving..  The Kli Yakor explains that when Hashem tells Moshe to speak to the rock and  וְנָתַ֣ן מֵימָ֑יו –  Moshe is being told what to say to the rock.  Moshe is to say, just like this rod that was Aaron’s is a dry piece of wood, yet it became moist and sprouted forth blossoms, so you too, dry flint rock, produce water.    

Rashi on this verse says:

ואת בעירם. מִכָּאן שֶׁחָס הַקָּבָּ”ה עַל מָמוֹנָם שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל:

ואת בעירם [SO SHALT THOU GIVE THE CONGREGATION] AND THEIR BEASTS [TO DRINK] From this we may see that the Holy One, blessed be He, has regard for the possessions of Israel (Menachot 76b; Midrash Tanchuma, Chukat 9).

Rashi is saying that preserving Jewish possessions and collective Jewish wealth is a real Jewish value.  We have to pray for it and our leaders have to be cognizant of it.   Resources are not to be squandered.

Verse 9:

וַיִּקַּ֥ח מֹשֶׁ֛ה אֶת־הַמַּטֶּ֖ה מִלִּפְנֵ֣י יְהוָ֑ה כַּאֲשֶׁ֖ר צִוָּֽהוּ׃

Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as He had commanded him.

Verse 10וַיַּקְהִ֜לוּ מֹשֶׁ֧ה וְאַהֲרֹ֛ן אֶת־הַקָּהָ֖ל אֶל־פְּנֵ֣י הַסָּ֑לַע וַיֹּ֣אמֶר לָהֶ֗ם שִׁמְעוּ־נָא֙ הַמֹּרִ֔ים הֲמִן־הַסֶּ֣לַע הַזֶּ֔ה נוֹצִ֥יא לָכֶ֖ם מָֽיִם׃

Moses and Aaron assembled the congregation in front of the rock; and he said to them, “Listen, you rebels, shall we get water for you out of this rock?”

Rashi says: 

ויקהלו וגו’. זֶה אֶחָד מִן הַמְּקוֹמוֹת שֶׁהֶחֱזִיק מוּעָט אֶת הַמְרֻבֶּה (בראשית רבה ה’):

ויקהלו וגו׳ [AND MOSES AND AARON] ASSEMBLED [THE WHOLE CONGREGATION BEFORE THE ROCK] — This was one of the places where the smaller contained the greater, (the entire congregation being assembled in front of one rock) (Leviticus Rabbah 10:9).

What is Rashi saying with this Medresh.  The entire experience in the desert was one of miracles.  There were 3,000,000 Jews in the desert along with up to 2.4 million of converts.  What were the logistics like?  It was all a miracle.  How did these many people leave Egypt.  There were no roads in the desert, no water, and no food.  It was all a miracle.  The Clouds of Glory paved a path wide enough and provided shelter for the Jews in the desert.  Food – there was Man.  Not only that I assumed that there was non stop food. If you wanted red grapes which I love, you just stuck out your hand and it showed up.    When I was in Israel for the first time in 1980, I worried about quenching my thirst.  We took a tour into Beer Sheva and I wondered how will I quench my thirst.  Is there is cold Pepsi in Beer Sheva.   Lo and behold, I was able to purchase one.  I assume in the desert, if you wanted a cold Pepsi you just extended your hand and boom, God put a Pepsi in your hand,  not a can but in the 12 oz. bottles sold in Yeshiva Toras Chaim in Denver when I attended in 1967 – 1971.   Do I wonder how it was possible for 600,000 to see the actions of Moshe?  Not at all.   No one would even bother to ask how this was possible and what difference does it make.

Look at the land of Israel today.  Prior to 1948 the total population was roughly 700,000 people, today over 8,000,000 and Israel is prosperous.  

 Just supplying the daily water needs in Israel is magnificent.  In the 1950s there was a minister in the cabinet who worked on water resources.  I remember going to Israel for the first time and being amazed that there was water and bathrooms at the Kosel.  To me life in Israel is a complete miracle from God.  

 So what is Rashi telling us?  I think Rashi is painting for us the scene.  There were 600,000 people watching Moshe,  crowding him.  Moshe could feel the 600,000 breathing on him watching him closely. Rashi is telling us that Hashem was amping up the pressure on Moshe and supercharging the atmosphere.  

Verses 10 and 11:

10 -וַיַּקְהִ֜לוּ מֹשֶׁ֧ה וְאַהֲרֹ֛ן אֶת־הַקָּהָ֖ל אֶל־פְּנֵ֣י הַסָּ֑לַע וַיֹּ֣אמֶר לָהֶ֗ם שִׁמְעוּ־נָא֙ הַמֹּרִ֔ים הֲמִן־הַסֶּ֣לַע הַזֶּ֔ה נוֹצִ֥יא לָכֶ֖ם מָֽיִם׃               

 11-וַיָּ֨רֶם מֹשֶׁ֜ה אֶת־יָד֗וֹ וַיַּ֧ךְ אֶת־הַסֶּ֛לַע בְּמַטֵּ֖הוּ פַּעֲמָ֑יִם וַיֵּצְאוּ֙ מַ֣יִם רַבִּ֔ים וַתֵּ֥שְׁתְּ הָעֵדָ֖ה וּבְעִירָֽם׃                      

Moses and Aaron assembled the congregation in front of the rock; and he said to them, “Listen, you rebels, shall we get water for you out of this rock?”   And Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod. Out came copious water, and the community and their beasts drank.

Rashi on Verse 10 says:

המן הסלע הזה נוציא. לְפִי שֶׁלֹּא הָיוּ מַכִּירִין אוֹתוֹ, לְפִי שֶׁהָלַךְ הַסֶּלַע וְיָשַׁב לוֹ בֵּין הַסְּלָעִים כְּשֶׁנִּסְתַּלֵּק הַבְּאֵר, וְהָיוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל אוֹמְרִים לָהֶם מַה לָּכֶם מֵאֵי זֶה סֶלַע תּוֹצִיאוּ לָנוּ מַיִם? לְכָךְ אָמַר לָהֶם המרים — סַרְבָנִים, לְשׁוֹן יְוָנִי שׁוֹטִים, מוֹרִים אֶת מוֹרֵיהֶם, הֲמִן הַסֶּלַע הַזֶּה שֶׁלֹּא נִצְטַוִּינוּ עָלָיו נוֹצִיא לָכֶם מַיִם? (תנחומא):

המן הסלע הזה נוציא MUST WE BRING [WATER] OUT OF THIS ROCK? — They said this because they could not distinguish it (the rock intended by God), for the rock from which the water had hitherto flowed during these forty years had vanished and taken a place amongst the other rocks when the “well” disappeared after Miriam’s death, and Israel said to them, “What difference is it to you from which rock you bring forth water for us?” — 

It was on this account that he (Moses) said unto them (called them) המרים — which means wayward one, or, as a Greek expression, “foolish people” or, “such as would teach (מורים) their teachers” — from this rock about which we have received no Divine Command can we bring forth water for you?! (cf. Midrash Tanchuma, Chukat 9).

Rashi on Verse 11 continues:

פעמים. לְפִי שֶׁבָּרִאשׁוֹנָה לֹא הוֹצִיא אֶלָּא טִפִּין, לְפִי שֶׁלֹּא צִוָּה הַמָּקוֹם לְהַכּוֹתוֹ, אֶלָּא “וְדִבַּרְתֶּם אֶל הַסֶּלַע”, וְהֵמָּה דִּבְּרוּ אֶל סֶלַע אַחֵר וְלֹא הוֹצִיא, אָמְרוּ, שֶׁמָּא צָרִיךְ לְהַכּוֹתוֹ כְּבָרִאשׁוֹנָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר “וְהִכִּיתָ בַצּוּר” (שמות י”ז), וְנִזְדַּמֵּן לָהֶם אוֹתוֹ סֶלַע וְהִכָּהוּ (תנחומא):

פעמים [HE SMOTE THE ROCK] TWICE, because at the first attempt it did not bring forth more than a few drops, for God had not bidden him smite it, but He had said, (v. 8) “and ye shall speak to the rock”. They had, indeed, spoken, but to a different rock (not that which God had intended) and it had not given forth water. They said, “Perhaps it is necessary to smite it as on the former occasion when it says, (Exodus 17:6) ‘and ye shall smite the rock’, and just that rock intended by God happened to be there and they smote it [but without full effect, and so they smote it a second time] (cf. Midrash Tanchuma, Chukat 9).

The above Rashis on these two Verses add color.  Rashi says that Moshe and Aaron could not recognize the stone that was to produce the water.   Based on the Rashi in Verse 11, Moshe did speak to this rock as instructed by Hashem and no water came because it was the wrong rock.   Moshe was the prophet of Hashem, and his divine providence – Ruach HaKodash – failed him at a critical moment. Moshe seems  to lose his cool and calls them Rebels.  Everything goes south for Moshe.   The people said what difference does it make which rock, it is all a miracle anyhow.  Moshe answers angrily, I cannot produce water on which there is no divine commend.  The pressure is building on Moshe.

Rash adds in Verse 11 that at this point Moshe decides to hit the rock seemingly not knowing if this is the rock (or maybe even knowing).  Moshe decides, perhaps this is why Hashem told me to take a staff is to hit the rock.   What Moshe amazingly does not realize is that unbeknownst to him Hashem in an unnoticeable split second switches rock and Moshe hits the correct rock.  Wow.

Everything failed Moshe at this critical time.  Moshe overreacts to the complaints of the Jews.  He thinks they are rebelling against God and that they are no different than their parents, This was not true.  Hashem gives him instructions that on the surface and in a calm situation seems clear, but in panic can be misunderstood, his Ruach Hakodesh fails him. There are 600,000 people watching his every move, breathing down his neck, and crowding him, Hashem switches the rocks at the last minute. All this results in a state of frenzy and Moshe hits the rock when Hashem wanted him to speak to the rock.

Moshe seemingly was set up for failure.   It is the opposite of Yehuda and Tamar, where Midrash says that an angel pushed Yehuda into the room with Tamar.  Yehuda was going to walk away, Hashem took Yehuda’s free will away from him and is in effect saying, Yehuda, you will not fail this time.  You failed when Yosef was sold, now you will accomplish your destiny.  You will sleep with Tamar against your innate wishes, you will be forced to confront your humanity and say that she is more righteous than me and through this you will experience personal growth and understand responsibility. This will catapult you into a leadership position for your people,  you will become the king.  So too here, Hashem was setting up a scenario where Moshe would make a mistake and hit the rock.  Moshe was destined not to enter israel.  We know this from the burning bush in Shmos, from the prophecy of Eldad and Medad, and other places.  Hashem put into motion the Mei Merivah so that Moshe would lose his free will, do something in anger, and not go into Israel.  

It started with Moshe misinterpreting the Jews when they complained about no water.  Yes they said, why did you take us out of Egypt into a bad place, where there are no crops.  They were not polite in their request for water (and I would argue, who would be polite).  They were not rebelling against Hashem.  They were upset about no water and their life in the desert.  They realized that the desert was an idyllic life, but not the life they wanted.  They rejected their parents’ life in the desert.   In fact what they were saying, we want to go to israel.  We want to plant crops, have vineyards, orchards, and a life of physical labor combined with a spiritual God centered life.  They called themselves in verse 4, the congregation of God.   They were loyal to God and wanted what God originally wanted for their parents.   

They complained that with no water we will die of thirst and as Rashi says, thirst is the worst type of death.  If Hashem does not want us to go to Israel, fine, but we do not want to die a slow death of thirst.

Moshe misinterpreted this and thought they were rebelling against God.  The last Ramban in effect says this and I had to speak to Rabbi Twersky to confirm.  Here the Jewish people were not rebelling against Hashem.  They quarrelled with Hashem.  They needed water and asked harshly.     But they still recognized Hashem.  They were different then their fathers.  They wanted to go into Israel to fulfil their destiny that Hashem laid out for them.

The Ramban on Chapter 20, Verse 13:  Look at the underlined part when the Ramban says that the Jewish people did not rebel against God.  I do not really understand the Ramban, but his concept fits my entire Pshat.  The Ramban says that the Jews did not rebel against God.  They fought with God because they were dying of thirst, but they did not ask as their parents did, Is  God with us.

ויקדש בם שמתו משה ואהרן על ידם כשהקב”ה עושה דין במקודשיו הוא מתירא ומתקדש על הבריות שנאמר (ויקרא י ג) בקרובי אקדש וכן הוא אומר (תהלים סח לו) נורא אלהים ממקדשיך לשון רש”י גם כן פירש ר”א ואיננו נראה בעיני כי עדיין לא מתו משה ואהרן ואיננו מתפרסם לבריות שימותו בחטא הזה שיתירא הקב”ה על ידי כך כאשר היה בנדב ואביהוא ובפרץ עוזא ( ו ח) ועוד כי הכתוב אמר אשר רבו בני ישראל את ה’ ויקדש בם כי במריבים נתקדש מלשון בקרובי אקדש וראוי היה לדבריהם שיאמר ויכבד על פניהם

And He was sanctified with them: in that Moses and Aaron died because of them. When the Holy One, Source of all Blessing is He executes judgement with His sanctified ones, He is feared and sanctified by people. As it says: “With My close ones shall I be sanctified” (Leviticus 10:3). And it is also said that “The Awe of the Lord is from Your Holy Place” (Psalms 68:36). The language of Rashi also explains R’ Eliezer and it doesn’t appear to be correct to me because Moses and Aaron haven’t yet died, and, that Moses and Aaron had been sentenced to death for their sin, had not yet been publicized to people, which would enable fear of G-d through this. This occurred with Nadav and Avihu and with the transgression of Uzah. And furthermore, when the verse says “that the Israelites quarreled with G-d, and He was sanctified with them.” Because through their quarrel, He was sanctified of the same type as “with my close ones, I will be sanctified.” And it is fitting for these words as it says “and He was glorified on their faces.”…

והנכון בעיני כי מעשה הצור הראשון היה לעיני זקני ישראל בלבד כמו שמפורש שם (שמות יז ו ז) ובזה אמר ויקהילו 

משה ואהרן את הקהל וגו’ על כן אמר הכתוב כי מי מריבה האלה שנגזרה בהם הגזרה על משה ועל אהרן המה אותם מי מריבה אשר רבו בני ישראל את השם ויקדש בם לעיני כלם כענין שכתוב (יחזקאל לט כז) וקבצתי אתם מארצות איביהם ונקדשתי בם לעיני הגוים רבים ודע כי בראשונה היתה להם מריבה עם משה כמו שאמר (שמות יז ב) וירב העם עם משה וכן אמר (שם פסוק ד) עוד מעט וסקלוני והיו מנסים את השם היש ה’ בקרבנו (שם פסוק ז) אבל בכאן היו מריבים כלפי מעלה ולא היה בכאן נסיון ועל כן אמר כי אלה מי מריבה שנגזרה בהם הגזרה הזאת המה מי מריבה אשר רבו בני ישראל את ה’ ויקדש בם לעיניהם ולא הראשונים אשר נסו את השם ולא נתקדש רק לעיני זקני ישראל ובעבור היות ענין הסלע שני פעמים הוצרך לבאר על איזה מהם נענשו הצדיקים:


How does the Parsha of Mei Meirvah end? As verse 13 says, with holiness.  Klal Yisroel learned a lesson and now they were ready to go into Eratz Yisroel, the land of Hashem.

Verse 13:   הֵ֚מָּה מֵ֣י מְרִיבָ֔ה אֲשֶׁר־רָב֥וּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל אֶת־יְהוָ֑ה וַיִּקָּדֵ֖שׁ בָּֽם׃ (ס)

Those are the Waters of Meribah—meaning that the Israelites quarrelled with the LORD—through which He affirmed His sanctity.


Shabbos Parshas Pinchos – July 11, 2020 – 19 Tammuz 5780

The Three Weeks – Very Zionistic Period

Hertzl’s Yahrzeit – 20 Tammuz 1904 (July 12, 2020)

Herzl’s Repentance

Admor Dovid Morgenstern – 22 Tammuz  1873 (July 14, 2020)

Ze’ev Jabotinsky – 29 Tammuz 1940 (July 21, 2020)

Shabbos Day July 11, 2020:

I spoke today before Krias hatorah and the following is my speech:

On Thursday was the fast of the 17th of Tammuz and the beginning of the three weeks, which are times of great sadness in the Jewish calendar when the two Temples were destroyed.  It is a time that we talk about Moshiach.  Even the Chicago Community Kollel this year had an article about Moshiach.   All the years I worked these were not easy weeks.  Even though I did try to minimize the feelings of depression to do my job, I still felt the weight of Jewish history on my shoulders.  Once my associate presented a loan for Frum people on Tisha B’av and I thought about how when the customer is fasting, his loan is being presented for approval.   

At the same time it is a time of great hope that the Jews will overcome all hardships and Moshiach will come.  We have come very far as Jews being privileged to have the State of Israel and as for myself, living in America.  However, the journey is not yet over.   This period of time a very Zionistic.  

There are three Yahrzeits of great people in the Zionistic movement during the three weeks.

  • Hertzl’s Yahrzeit – 20 Tammuz 1904 (July 12, 2020)
  • Admor Dovid Morgenstern Yahrzeit – 22 Tammuz  1873 (July 14, 2020)
  • Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s Yahrzeit – 29 Tammuz 1940 (July 21, 2020)

Hertzl’s Yahrzeit – 20 Tammuz 1904 (July 12, 2020)

Binyomin Zev Ben Yaakov, known as Theodore Herzl, died at only 44 years old during his struggle to get the Jews out of Europe and establish a country in Eretz Yisroel.  I have said in the past that the Imrei Emes who in 1903 criticised Herzl and the movement back to Israel is now learning B’Chavrusa with Herzl.

What was Theodore Herzl’s repentance? 

Early on Theodore Herzl proposed to the Archbishop of Vienna a mass conversion to Christianity of Jewish children.  Herzl was laughed out of the church.

Fast forward about 15 years later to early 1904.  Herzl’s dream of establishing a State in Israel was not going well.  His friend, Count Lippay, got him an audience with the pope. Pius X at the Vatican.  Herzl had wanted an audience with the pope for years to request the Church’s help in settling the Jews in Eretz Yisroel.   Herzl was told by his friend that protocol is to kiss the Pope’s hand.  Herzl refuses to kiss the Pope’s hand.  Despite Herzl’s fight to establish a Jewish state in Israel, he refused to humble himself in such a way to the pope. The pope would never have agreed to help Herzl and the Jewish people even with the kissing of his hand.  Herzl stood as a proud Jew, aware of his  role representing a proud and noble people, and that he is an equal to the pope.  He represents a proud people, entitled to live freely and openly as Jews.  Wow.  Similar to Mordechai who refused to bow to Haman.

This was Herzl’s repentance.  Years earlier, Herzl thought the answer to the “Jewish problem” was mass conversion.  Herzl changed, he understood the holiness of the Jewish people.  Despite the major roadblocks and seeing his dream of Israel in his lifetime fading, Herzl refuses to kiss the pope’s hand.  As you read the below, Count Lippay who got Herzl the audience with the pope, said to Herzl to impress the pope, reminded Herzl, Herzl himself said he wanted to kiss the pope’s foot.  

Throughout Herzl’s writing he writes about the  specialness of Jewish people.

At the end of his audience with the pope, Herzl writes, “ Then I realized that the Pope liked this sort of thing. But on parting, too, all I did was to give him a warm hand-squeeze and a low bow.”

I have copied a little background and text from Herzl’s diary at the end of this speech.  

Admor Dovid Morgenstern – 22 Tammuz  1873 (July 14, 2020)

Admor Dovid Morgenstern was the son of the Kotzker Rebbe. He was my grandfather’s great grandfather.  He is second generation and I am seventh.   Admor Dovid Morgenstern was a Bocher and a Chosid of the Rebbe, Reb Bunim of Peshischa.  His Chasuna was on the day Reb Bunim of Peshischa passed away.   He was more of a calmer nature than his father, the Kotzker.    It is tragic that he nor his father wrote anything down, so the world does not have a legacy of his Torah.   His legacy is the Torah of his children.      Bourch Gutter put out a Sefer on Admor Dovid called Ahavas Dovid, however, there are few first person stories or life stories. 

In the Sefer Bais Kotzk from Yehuda Leib Levin, there are eleven pages on Admor Dovid Morgenstern.  After the Kotzker’s passing in 1859, most of the Chasidium became aligned with the RIM, the first Gerrer Rebbe.  There is little known about Admor Dovid  Morgenstern.    I read page 282 in Yehuda Levin’s Bais Kotzk, which is a story when Admor Dovid’s nephew, Reb Yechiel Moshe Greenwald, came to visit his uncle.  Rabbi Yechiel Moshe Greenwald is the sole source of stories about Admor Dovid Morgenstern.  He lived until around 1920 and remarried into his 80’s.   He has a grandson in Toronto.  Reb Yehcial Moshe has family living in Chicago.  

Page 282  says the Admor Rabbi Dovid did not push away any man.  He was willing to purify sinners from their sin, and to cleanse their body.  He could not tolerate people with false piety and arrogance.   

What was Admor Dovid Morgenstern’s Zionism.  As I spoke out the last three weeks, the essence of Kotzk was Ahavas Yisroel.  Admor Dovid’s son, Reb Chaim Yisroel Morgenstern, known as the Pilaver Rebbe, in 1885 wrote a Sefer Shalom Yerushalayim that it is time for the Jews to go back to Israel.  I read the first Chapter a number of times.  Around the 5th time, I read it with Ahavas Yisroel and it was a different Chapter.   This to me is one of the unknown legacies of the Kotzker Rebbe and his son Admor Dovid Morgenstern.

Pages from Bais Kotzk.

Ze’ev Jabotinsky – 29 Tammuz 1940 (July 21, 2020)

Ze’ev Jabotinsky, despite being born into an assimilated family in Odessa, Russia, became entwined with the Jewish people and his legacy continues to benefit the Jewish people.   He was born and not given a Jewish name, and later in life took on a jewish name.   He was a prophet and in the 1930s saw the holocaust coming.  He worked tirelessly to aswaken the Jews about the nazi threat.  My friend Eliykum Schwartz told me that despite not being Frum, when he travelled throughout Europe. insisted on Kosher food, as he understood that he represented the Jewish people. His great student was Menachem Begin.

I met Rabbi Naphtali Jaeger of Shaarei Yoshuv, in Far Rockaway, New York.  He told me that his father was from Alkush in Poland.  I said, wow, the first position of the Sochachover Rebbe in the 1860s was Alkush.  I asked Rabbi Jaeger when did his father leave Europe,  Upon hearing that it was in the early 1930s, I asked why did your father leave Europe?   He answered that his father heard Ze’ev Jabotinsky speak, came home, and said we are leaving Europe.   He took Jabotinsky’s words to heart.

THEODOR HERZL: Audience with Pope Pius X (1904)



On January 26, 1904, Theodor Herzl had an audience with Pope Pius X in the Vatican to seek his support for the Zionist effort to establish a Jewish state in Palestine.  He recorded his account of the meeting in his diary. Source: Raphael Patai, The Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl, translated by Harry Zohn (New York/London: Herzl Press, Thomas Yoseloff, 1960), 1601-1605.  The “Lippay” to whom he refers is Count Berthold Dominik Lippay, an Austrian papal portraitist, whom Herzl had met in Venice and who had arranged the audience with the pope.

Yesterday I was with the Pope. The route was already familiar since I had traversed it with Lippay several times.

Past the Swiss lackeys, who looked like clerics, and clerics who looked like lackeys, the Papal officers and chamberlains.

I arrived 10 minutes ahead of time and didn’t even have to wait.

I was conducted through numerous small reception rooms to the Pope.

He received me standing and held out his hand, which I did not kiss.

Lippay had told me I had to do it, but I didn’t.

I believe that I incurred his displeasure by this, for everyone who visits him kneels down and at least kisses his hand.

This hand kiss had caused me a lot of worry. I was quite glad when it was finally out of the way.

He seated himself in an armchair, a throne for minor occasions. Then he invited me to sit down right next to him and smiled in friendly anticipation.

I began:

Ringrazio Vostra Santità per il favore di m’aver accordato quest’udienza” [I thank Your Holiness for the favor of according me this audience].”

È un piacere [It is a pleasure],” he said with kindly deprecation.

I apologized for my miserable Italian, but he said:

No, parla molto bene, signor Commendatore [No, Commander, you speak very well].”

For I had put on for the first time—on Lippay’s advice—my Mejidiye ribbon. Consequently the Pope always addressed me as Commendatore.

He is a good, coarse-grained village priest, to whom Christianity has remained a living thing even in the Vatican.

I briefly placed my request before him. He, however, possibly annoyed by my refusal to kiss his hand, answered sternly and resolutely:

Noi non possiamo favorire questo movimento. Non potremo impedire gli Ebrei di andare a Gerusalemme—ma favorire non possiamo mai. La terra di Gerusalemme se non era sempre santa, è santificata per la vita di Jesu Christo (he did not pronounce it Gesu, but Yesu, in the Venetian fashion). Io come capo della chiesa non posso dirle altra cosa. Gli Ebrei non hanno riconosciuto nostro Signore, perciò non possiamo riconoscere il popolo ebreo [We cannot give approval to this movement. We cannot prevent the Jews from going to Jerusalem—but we could never sanction it. The soil of Jerusalem, if it was not always sacred, has been sanctified by the life of Jesus Christ. As the head of the Church I cannot tell you anything different. The Jews have not recognized our Lord, therefore we cannot recognize the Jewish people].”

Hence the conflict between Rome, represented by him, and Jerusalem, represented by me, was once again opened up.

At the outset, to be sure, I tried to be conciliatory. I recited my little piece about extraterritorialization, res sacrae extra commercium [holy places removed from business]. It didn’t make much of an impression. Gerusalemme, he said, must not get into the hands of the Jews.

“And its present status, Holy Father?”

“I know, it is not pleasant to see the Turks in possession of our Holy Places. We simply have to put up with that. But to support the Jews in the acquisition of the Holy Places, that we cannot do.”

I said that our point of departure had been solely the distress of the Jews and that we desired to avoid the religious issues.

“Yes, but we, and I as the head of the Church, cannot do this. There are two possibilities. Either the Jews will cling to their faith and continue to await the Messiah who, for us, has already appeared. In that case they will be denying the divinity of Jesus and we cannot help them. Or else they will go there without any religion, and then we can be even less favorable to them.

“The Jewish religion was the foundation of our own; but it was superseded by the teachings of Christ, and we cannot concede it any further validity. The Jews, who ought to have been the first to acknowledge Jesus Christ, have not done so to this day.”

It was on the tip of my tongue to say, “That’s what happens in every family. No one believes in his own relatives.” But I said instead: “Terror and persecution may not have been the right means for enlightening the Jews.”

But he rejoined, and this time he was magnificent in his simplicity:

“Our Lord came without power. Era povero [He was poor]. He came in pace [in peace]. He persecuted no one. He was persecuted.

He was abbandonato [forsaken] even by his apostles. Only later did he grow in stature. It took three centuries for the Church to evolve. The Jews therefore had time to acknowledge his divinity without any pressure. But they haven’t done so to this day.”

“But, Holy Father, the Jews are in terrible straits. I don’t know if Your Holiness is acquainted with the full extent of this sad situation. We need a land for these persecuted people.”

“Does it have to be Gerusalemme?”

“We are not asking for Jerusalem, but for Palestine—only the secular land.”

“We cannot be in favor of it.”

“Does Your Holiness know the situation of the Jews?”

“Yes, from my Mantua days. Jews live there. And I have always been on good terms with Jews. Only the other evening two Jews were here to see me. After all, there are other bonds than those of religion: courtesy and philanthropy. These we do not deny to the Jews. Indeed, we also pray for them: that their minds be enlightened. This very day the Church is celebrating the feast of an unbeliever who, on the road to Damascus, became miraculously converted to the true faith. And so, if you come to Palestine and settle your people there, we shall have churches and priests ready to baptize all of you.”

Count Lippay had had himself announced. The Pope permitted him to enter. The Count kneeled, kissed his hand, then joined in the conversation by telling of our “miraculous” meeting in Bauer’s Beer Hall in Venice. The miracle was that he had originally planned to spend the night in Padua. As it happened, I had expressed the wish to be allowed to kiss the Holy Father’s foot.

At this the Pope made une tête [a long face], for I hadn’t even kissed his hand. Lippay went on to say that I had expressed myself appreciatively on Jesus Christ’s noble qualities. The Pope listened, now and then took a pinch of snuff, and sneezed into a big red cotton handkerchief. Actually, these peasant touches are what I like best about him and what compels my respect.

In this way Lippay wanted to account for his introducing me, perhaps to excuse it. But the Pope said: “On the contrary, I am glad you brought me the Signor Commendatore.”

As to the real business, he repeated what he had told me: Non possumus [We can’t]!

Until he dismissed us Lippay spent some time kneeling before him and couldn’t seem to get his fill of kissing his hand. Then I realized that the Pope liked this sort of thing. But on parting, too, all I did was to give him a warm hand-squeeze and a low bow.

Duration of the audience: about 25 minutes.

In the Raphael stanze [rooms], where I spent the next hour, I saw a picture of an Emperor kneeling to let a seated Pope put the crown on his head.

That’s the way Rome wants it.

Shabbos Parashas Shelach – June 20, 2020

Shabbos Parshas Shelach – June 20, 2020
Joseph Greenbaum Bar Mitzvah – Parshas Shelach 2015
For Want of Cholent – Thank you Rabbi Rael Blumenthal
Toras Yonatan Glenner
Meshech Chochma on the Sin of the Spies


Rabbi Yonatan Glenner and his Uncle (myself)

The Spies Reporting Back to Moshe:

What a great bar Mitzvah:  Joseph with his parents


The Meshech Chochma – Rabbi Meir Simcha of  Dvinsk:
The Meshech Chochma – Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

My Torah on this week’s Parsha.

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

Rashi opens up Parshas Shelach with the following:

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

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

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

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

Another question that I always bring up.  Didn’t Moshe know that the natives were restless, the children of Israel tested God many times.  There was the running away from Har Sinai, the Salav, and Korah.  Perhaps the answer is aside from these rebels and a few troublemakers the people by and large were loyal and the atmosphere was upbeat.

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

  1. Satmar Rebbe – they know that Moshe and they were not going into israel.  They thought they were to be the catalyst.   The way the Satmer explains they knew that they and Moshe would not go into Israel.. Perhaps they felt that they were doing God’s wishes.   
  1. They wanted a purely spiritual life to continue that they were having in the desert, and not have a  life of turmoil, toil, and hardship.  Added to this that perhaps they also felt inadequate to be both spiritual and work at the same time.   They were not going against God, but showing God that we are not up to the job.  Let our kids do  it.
  1. They were going to lose power once they got to Israel and for purely selfish reasons they opposed and turned the peoples hearts against God.  This I feel almost makes not sense.

     4) The Meshech Chochma adds a 4th explanation which is just the opposite of above.  They knew

and believed the prophecy of Eldad and Medad that Moshe will die and Yehoshua will take the people into Israel.  They feared and acted on their fear that without Moshe’s leadership the entry into Israel will fail and they have to stay in the desert under Hashem’s benevolence.

Other Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

In the 1870s  and 1880s when the secular Zionist movement started, these individuals who had no connection to Torah, saw  malaria,  swamp infested land, a land without industry, a sleepy land that on the surface could not support a large amount of Jews.  Yet, they saw past the flaws and saw a land flowing with milk and honey.  Opposite of the spies.  This is why my Zedi, the Pilaver Rebbe in his Sefer Shalom Yerushalayim felt that the entire Zionist  movement  was directed by God, to bring the Jews to Israel, and ultimately to bring Moshiach.



The Meshach Chocmah:

Translation of the Meshech Chochma:

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

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

The Meshach Chocma says:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

    Parshas Naso

From:    Avrohom Meir Morgenstern

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

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

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

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

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

In Parshas  וארא the following Vort is brought down:  

וָאֵרָא אֶל אַבְרָהָם  ,וגו׳ (ו ג) 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ה׳״? ״אָמַר ה׳״ מִיבְּעֵי לֵיהּ! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rashi on   לָכֵ֞ן explains:

  לכן. עַל פִּי אוֹתָהּ הַשְּׁבוּעָה:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other thoughts: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full Medrash:

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

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

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


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

Shabbos Parshas בהעלותך June 13, 2020

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

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

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

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

Chapter 8 Verse 19

Rashi says:

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

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

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

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

The Medresh itself says:

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

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

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

The Kotzker says on this Rashi:

וָאֶתְּנָ֨ה אֶת־הַלְוִיִּ֜ם נְתֻנִ֣ים ׀ לְאַהֲרֹ֣ן וּלְבָנָ֗יו מִתּוֹךְ֮ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵל֒ 

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

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

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

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

Let us understand what was happening on a deeper level. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are all one nation and we compliment each other.

Additional Insight:


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

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

Compare this Sforno to the language used by the Chazkuni:

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

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

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

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

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

יכפרו על ישראל שגרמו כולם בעגל שאמאס את בכוריהם:

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

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

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

Shabbos Parshas Lech Lecha

My Bar Mitzvah Parsha – 1966




Monday – November 4, 2019:

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

Thursday – November 7, 2019:

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

Friday – November 8, 2019:

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


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



Shabbos – Friday Night November 8, 2019:

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

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

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

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



I focused on Chapter 12, Verse 2:

בוְאֶֽעֶשְׂךָ֙ לְג֣וֹי גָּד֔וֹל וַֽאֲבָ֣רֶכְךָ֔ וַֽאֲגַדְּלָ֖ה שְׁמֶ֑ךָ וֶֽהְיֵ֖ה בְּרָכָֽה:

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

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

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


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

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

Mincha at 4:45 PM.

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

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

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

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

Saturday Night – November 9, 2019:

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

Sunday – November 10, 2019:

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


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

Monday – November 11, 2019:

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


Shabbos Parshas Breshis 2019

October 25-26, 2019

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


I am excited.  Nothing better than Shabbos in Lakeview.

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

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

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

Shabbos Morning:

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

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

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

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

Vort #1:

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

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



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

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

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

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

Vort #2:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Third Vort:

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