Shabbos Parshas Hazeinu

September 22, 2018

Yom Kippur is over.  Time for Succos. Chazzan Silber is long but I enjoy his Davening. Had a tough week. September 18th, Erev Yom Kippur, was my 65th Birthday and I was not in a good mood. I did not respond to any well wishers.

On Thursday I picked up my mother-in-law from the airport. On Friday I was exhausted and slept for 1.5 hours.

Shabbos morning I got up at 7:30 AM and learned two Blatt of Daf Yomi at Mishne Ugmoro. At 9:30 I walked out of Mishna Ugmoro to go to KINS for Jacob Pick’s Bar Mitzvah. A Hatzlah ambulance on its way to Swedish Covenant Hospital raced by me. I was worried that my mother was in the ambulance and walked to the Glenners to make sure my mother was home. She was, and I stayed with her for about an hour, talking to her, singing, and I gave her some water.

Afterwards walked to Jacob Pick’s Bar Mitzvah at KINS. It was nice to see Jacob performing beautifully at the Bar Mitzvah. He has turned into a nice young man. We were there at his Bris at Kins. We had the Bris meal in the KINS Sukkah. Sidney spoke that his newly born son is an answer to the Nazi’s desire to destroy the Jewish people.

Got there at Mussaf. Even then I schmoozed before I walked into Shul during Kedushah. Sidney Pick was davening Mussef. I was excited to be at KINS. I was so pumped up that I flew through Davening. I was able to finish Shachris starting by Modim of Mussaf to right after Adon Olem. Sidney gave me opening the ark for Ane’im Zemiros. Met Nosson Lederer, Micah Gruber’s son-in-law. Micah’s health is weak. I told Rabbi Lederer that I attended his father-in-law’s Daf Yomi Shiur at Brisk when it was on Peterson. He gave the Shiur on Yom Kippur at the break. We were learning Yevomas. As Rabbi Gruber was giving the Shiur, he dozed off and his head fell on the Gemara. We waited until Rabbi Gruber woke up. I told Rabbi Lederer to say hello to his boss, Rabbi Hillel Mandel. I told him to tell Rabbi Mandel the following:


This week’s Parsha starts off א הַֽאֲזִ֥ינוּ הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וַֽאֲדַבֵּ֑רָה וְתִשְׁמַ֥ע הָאָ֖רֶץ אִמְרֵי־פִֽי 1 Listen, O heavens, and I will speak! And let the earth hear the words of my mouth!

Rashi says that Moshe is calling on the heaven and earth to testify against the Jewish people when the Jewish people go astray. Very dark.

As an antidote we can understand these words differently. “Listen, O heavens, and I will speak about the greatness of the Jewish people. I will testify in the heavens and on earth of great things done by Jews towards one another and for humanity. People do little favors for others that are huge that can change a world, a life. Whether it is a smile, picking up and paying dinner for someone in need, giving a person at a bus stop a ride, being a Shomer for a friends relative, or just being there. I have seen greatness and I plan, after 120 years, to testify about what they did.


Went to the Kiddush and played Jewish geography. I was on my game Went to the meal. It was a baseball theme. Sat at the same table with the Lazovskys. The Bar Mitzvah boy spoke beautifully. Sidney and Sharon both spoke emotionally and we were moved by their speeches.

Sharon Pick’s Uncle Jack lives in Delray Beach right near Glick’s and davens in the Orthodox Shul (not the Chabad Shul) in the same strip mall as Glicks. He too noticed the price changes at Glicks. He knows my cousin Carol (and Howard). Sharon’s cousins live in Hollywood, Florida.

I had the following speech prepared that I did not give.


I first met Sidney in September 1974 at Brisk Yeshiva located in the Mishne Ugmoro building. I was stuck on the understanding of a Gemora. I walked downstairs to the basement and there was Sidney Pick learning with Louis Lazovsky. I asked them my question. I think they looked at me if I was in outer space. I still have a vivid memory of that meeting, liked it happened yesterday. That started a friendship that has endured over the years. Sidney’s father was the weekday Gabbai at Bnei Ruvain and I was very impressed. In 1981 I bought a home and needed a Sukkah. Sidney was getting rid of his wooden 4 panel Sukkah and replacing it with a new canvass Sukkah. I took his old one and incorporated his 4 panels into my Sukkah of 8 panels. The Pick Sukkah was painted green so I always knew which ones I inherited from Sidney which I cherished. The other advantage was that his Sukkah panels were 6’9”, so when I bought additional panels I cut them down to 6’9”. This way it was easier to build the Sukkah vs. the traditional 8 foot panels. Since it was lighter and not as tall, it was easier to carry and maneuver the panels into place. In 1983 my son Sholom was born the night after Yom Kippur day. Sholom’s Shalom Zacher was the first night of Succos in my Sukkah. I was much honored that Sidney’s father, Rabbi Yaakov Pick, came to honor my family and attended the Shalom Zacher. I clearly remember him sitting next to me with joy.

By the way Jacob, your grandfather was a Sox fan, not a Yankees fan.


At the meal there was a tray of baseball themed giant vanilla cookies, and little packages of Skittles and Oodles. I took two each and three baseball cookies. I have become the old man who is always taking food from Simchas. My kids are forever embarrassed, but most of what I take gets thrown away. The following is what my food re-cycling accomplished.

I walked into the Shul for Mincha. There was a little girl looking sad. With the permission of the kid’s father, I gave her a package of Skittles and Oodles. Her frown turned into a smile. Her father was Rabbi A. Rovner who is a Rebbe at the Veitzner Chedder. I never met him before and told him to hug Rabbi Hillel Mandel.

When I got home, I gave one of my two granddaughters a pack of Skittles and the second Oodles which made them happy. My son-in-law is a Skittles fan and was able to grab a handful. The baseball themed cookies were a big hit. Only Karen appreciates my hubris – hubris in a good way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A 17 Year Phone Call – Rabbi Leibel Korf

Chabad of Los Feliz
Arvus of Love

September 7, 2018:

I received a call from Rabbi Leibel Korf of Las Feliz (a neighborhood in LA, part of the Hollywood Hills). Refer to my post of February 18, 2018 – Chabad of Los Feliz: A Celebration of a Dream Come True.  I donated a Mezuzah to their fund raising campaign and he was calling me to thank me for the donation. I think he only vaguely remembered me. I reminded Rabbi Korf of the great kindness he showed me during Thanksgiving weekend 2001.  I was able to communicate my joy that he called me and told him about that weekend I spent as a guest in his house. What a great opportunity to lighten up his Rosh Hashana.

One week earlier, Labor Day weekend I was in Florida to visit my daughter and to attend the Greenbaum triplets Bar Mitzvah.  We flew on Thursday night and arrived at Shoshana’s house at 2:30 AM Friday morning. I had to take Shoshana to work and her daughter Tiferet to school so I did not have time to daven.  When I got home my wife wanted to go shopping for Shabbos, to Glicks in Delray Beach on Atlantic Avenue. I decided that I would daven in the parking lot. However, once I was there I remembered that there is a Chabad Shul adjacent to the parking lot.  My Aunt Sarah davens there (her kids are the Benjamins in Chicago) and my cousin Carol, at times, davens at Chabad. To my pleasant surprise, the Shul was open and I davened. The Rabbi walked in and I said hello. The Rabbi is Rabbi Sholom Ber Korf, a first cousin to Rabbi Leibel Korf.  I told Rabbi Sholem Ber what his cousin did for me. While I was talking to Rabbi Leibel Korf, I texted him the picture with his cousin and me.

I was ecstatic as I was able to again to thank Rabbi Leibel Korf, 17 years later, remind him of his Chesed, and give him regards from his cousin.

On Shabbos I spoke at the Glenners:  Devorim Chapter 29, verse 11 says “to enter into the covenant of the Lord your God, which the Lord your God is concluding with you this day, with its sanctions.”   I asked, what is this covenant? Rabbi Schnuer Zalmen Twerski said that the Ohr Hachaim explains that the covenant is one of “Arvus”, responsibility for one Jew to another.  This changes the Jews from individuals to a nation as it says in Verse 12 – “to the end that He may establish you this day as His people and be Your God as he promised you and as He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”  

Rabbi Twerski told me that he normally does not learn the Ohr Hachaim, however on Friday morning he had to sub a class and one boy did not have a study partner.   Rabbi Twerski opened up a Chumosh and learned the Ohr Hachaim on Arvus, and was able to answer my question on Shabbos.

I added onto the Ohr Hachaim of Arvus – responsibility of one Jew to another – that the novelty of the Lubavitcher Rebbe was love.  The traditional understanding in history has always been that one Jew has to rebuke another Jew. The novelty of the Lubavitcher Rebbe was that he introduced Arvus with love, with kindness, with respecting every Jew and being there, connecting the Jewish people to one another.  

Shabbos Parshas Shimini – April 13 -14, 2018

  • Sheloshim for Reb Avraham Mordechai Janowski
  • Yahrzeit for the Yunge Bubbi- 1 Rosh Chodosh Iyar
  • The Legacy of Nadav V’Avihu

Sheloshim for Reb Avraham Mordechai Janowski

This Shabbos is the Sheloshim for our dear Uncle, Avraham Mordechai Janowski.  His parents, Eliyahu and Shoshana Bracha Janowski, had 4 children; Kelcha, Simon (my father-in-law), Sam, and the youngest son, Reb Avraham Mordechai.  His kids, Rachel and Aryeh Benjamin, made a Kiddush for their father at Bnei Ruvain. I davened at Bnei Ruvain in honor of my uncle. I took Naftali with me.  Of course Naftali disappeared and came back right before the opening of the ark. And of course, when the ark was about to be opened, Naftali zoomed up to the ark and opened it.  Since Naftali was born, there was a new condition in the world. Naftali has first rights to opening the ark in the entire world, even if someone else was given the honor and paid for it

The Kiddush was sumptuous, including sushi salad.  Aryeh Benjamin spoke beautifully about his father in law.  He praised his wife, Rachel, for her dedication to her father.  

I spoke about Reb Avraham Mordechai Janowski, and then made a Siyum on Meschita Avodah Zarah.  I felt a kinship to him. He and his wife graciously made a Shevah Brochos for me when I married Serka in May 1980.  I was impressed by his family. They had a very nice suburban home on Cactus Drive in Toronto in the Bnei Torah neighborhood.  I was (and some say, still) a ghetto Jew.  My family and I lived in an apartment in the city. We were not upwardly mobile and did not move to the suburbs with the majority of Jews, primarily secular Jews.  I would visit Reb Avraham Mordechai when I would go into Toronto. I did not realize his name was Avraham Mordechai. Avraham Mordechai is a major Gerrer name as it is the name of the oldest son of the Chidusshei Harim.  The Janowski family in Europe was Gerrer Chassidim, so it is very lively that he was named for the Chidusshei Harim’s son (or the Imrei Emes).

Shalosh Seudas Meal – The Legacy of Nadav V’Avihu

I spoke at the Shalosh Seudas meal.  I dedicated my Torah to:

  • The Sheloshim of my uncle Reb Avraham Mordechai Janowski
  • The 85th Yahrzeit of my mother’s Bubbe, known as the Yunge Bubbi.
  • To a speedy recovery for my mother who was in the hospital

When I first learned about Nadav and Avihu, I had a hard time with the unfairness of it all – to his father, Aaron, and the Jewish people.  Is this the legacy of the Jewish people that even in a time of great joy, we have to have tragedy? What was their sin that had to be a tragedy?   The simple answer is that, imagine at the inauguration of a President in the US, a soldier breaks protocol and does something on his own. That soldier would be reprimanded by either being  put in the brig, reduced in rank, or even discharged from the Army. If it happened with a King, that soldier would in all likelihood be executed on the spot. What Nadav and Avihu did was equally as bad.  

Let us understand the event in depth.  The following Verses discuss the death of Nadav and Avihu and its  aftermath.

Vayikra – Chapter 10:

Verse 1 tells us what Nadav and Avihu did –

And Aaron’s sons, Nadav and Avihu, each took his pan, put fire in them, and placed incense upon it, and they brought before the Lord foreign fire, which He had not commanded them.                                             

Verse 2 tells us how they died:

And fire went forth from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.

Verse 3 tells us what Moshe told Aaron and that Aaron was silent, he accepted what happened:

Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke, [when He said], ‘I will be sanctified through those near to me, and before all the people I will be glorified.’ “And Aaron was silent.

Verse 4 and 5 talk about removing the dead bodies –

  1. 4. And Moses summoned Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel, and said to them, “Draw near; carry your brothers (actually first cousins) from within the Sanctuary, to the outside of the camp.
  2. 5.  So they approached and carried them with their tunics to the outside of the camp, as Moses had spoken.

Verse 6 and7  tells Aaron and his remaining g sons that they should not go into mourning –

  1. 6.  And Moses said to Aaron and to Eleazar and to Ithamar, his sons, “Do not leave your heads unshorn, and do not rend your garments, so that you shall not die, and lest He be angry with the entire community, but your brothers, the entire house of Israel, shall bewail the conflagration that the Lord has burned
  2. 7.  And do not go out of the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, lest you die, because the Lord’s anointing oil is upon you.” And they did according to Moses’ order.

Verse 7 – 11 warns Cohanim not to walk into the Ohel Moad after drinking wine.

Verse 12 goes back to the story of the dedication of the Mishkan.

Nadav and Avihu’s sin:

Aaron sees his dead sons.    Aaron is beyond words, The Ranban says the Aaron is weeping loudly.  At that moment Aaron was agonizing over the following:

1)  He sees his two sons’ dead.  

2)  He also sees his sons ignore the two great leaders, their uncle and father, Moshe and himself.   Not only that, they walked into the Mishkan after drinking wine. He is aghast.

Rashi on Verse 2 brings down two opinions. 1) Rebbe Eliezer who says that they decided a question of Jewish law themselves and did not go to their leaders, Moshe and Aaron.  2) Rebbe Yishmoel says that Nadav and Avihu entered the Mishkan after having drunk wine.

3)  He blames himself.   He feels he failed his kids.

Rashi on Verse 12 says that at as result of his sin by the golden calf, all of Aaron’s 4 sons were to die as punishment.  Moshe prayers helped to save two of them.

4)  Aaron   is worried that even his remaining two sons would die.

In Verse 3 Moshe consoles Aaron and Rashi eloquently explains:

‏וגו‎‎‎הוא אשר דבר ה:    ‎ THIS IS WHAT GOD SPOKE, etc. — Where had He spoken this? In the statement (Exodus 29:43), “And there I will be met by the children of Israel and the Tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory (בכבודי).” Read not here בִכְבוֹדִי, “by My Glory” but בִּמְכֻבָּדַי, “through My honoured ones” (Zevachim 115b). “

Moses here said to Aaron:    “ אָחִי אַהֲרֹן” –  “Aaron My brother!”  with all the love of one brother to another – do not agonize over the circumstances and death of your sons –

“I knew that this House was to be sanctified by those who are beloved of the Omnipresent God and I thought it would be either through me or through thee; now I see that these (thy sons who have died) are greater than me and than thee!” (Leviticus Rabbah 12 .

Aaron – your sons were  great people, greater then us two.  The death of your two sons was preordained by God, their death had to happen at this time.   Do not focus on our and their shortcomings, we are all human. What happened is Gods plan.

Aaron accepts Moshe’s words and is consoled as he silences himself.    

Nadav is an accepted Jewish name.

Rashi on Verse 4 says that Moshe told Aaron’s nephews to remove the dead bodies, as not to disturb the joy of the dedication of the Mishkan.  The Mishkan and its deduction was a great moment for the Jewish people and  the Jewish people. The Mishkan is God’s place in this world. The acceptance by God and bringing his presence into the Mishkan is evidence that the sin of the golden calf was forgiven.   Rashi In effect is saying the death of Nadav and Avihu in Gods plan is not a tragedy. in fact the Nadav and Avihi are rejoicing as their souls ascend heavenward towards God. If I may add, the same way we believe that those that were martyred in the holocaust, were embraced by God as their souls rose heavenward.   Moshe understands and relates to Aaron that Nadav and Avihu in the next world are in joy realize they were integral to building and dedicating the Mishkan, therefore remove their bodies and let the joy continue. If I have the Chutzpah to suggest the martyrs of the holocaust were integral to creating a State of Israel and the building of Torah both in Israel and America.
During the week of Pesach Shenei I was by the Shul in Buckingham and Rabbi Unger spoke between Mincha and Maariv.  Rabbi Unger mentioned a Chidusshei Harim. Pesach Shenei is discussed in Numbers 9:6-13. Mishael and Elzaphan want desperately to do a Korban Pesach and go to Moshe and Aaron expressing   their desire to serve God like the rest of the Jews. Verse 8 says:

וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֲלֵהֶ֖ם משֶׁ֑ה עִמְד֣וּ וְאֶשְׁמְעָ֔ה מַה־יְּצַוֶּ֥ה יְהֹוָ֖ה לָכֶֽם:

The Rim focuses on the last work in Verse 8 –  לָכֶֽם:.
Moshe says, what God will answer “you”, how will He respond to your strong wish to get closer to God.   The Rim continues and says that Hashem created a new law just for them. There is a make up Pesach sacrifice for them.  This is something we find no where else in the Torah. This was enacted solely because of the desire for Mishael and Elzaphan for closeness to God.  Perhaps this is the answer to Nadav and Avihu. Nadav and Avihu wanted to feel closeness to God. However, they decided for themselves how to get closer to God.  Our spiritual needs cannot be met by innovating against the Torah. Mishaal and Elzaphan wanted the same close spiritual connection to God. In contrast to their cousins, they went to their leaders to Moshe and Aaron and said we want to feel this closeness to God; we want to bring a Pesach Sacrifice.

 

Shabbos Parshas Vayikra

March 18, 2018

This Shabbos at Mishne Ugmoro we celebrated Chazzan Silber’s 90th birthday. It is our merit to daven with Chazzen Silber. Chazzen Silber davened Hallel and Musaf. Mayer Silber, his son, davened Shacharis. The Silbers sponsored a Shabbos meal. I sat with the Glenners, Naphtali, Mayer (my nephew), my mother, and Nina. The celebration lasted until 2:30 PM.

The following is my speech honoring Chazzen Silber.


Chapter 1, Verse 2 says:

ב דַּבֵּ֞ר אֶל־בְּנֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ וְאָֽמַרְתָּ֣ אֲלֵהֶ֔ם אָדָ֗ם כִּי־יַקְרִ֥יב מִכֶּ֛ם קָרְבָּ֖ן לַֽיהֹוָ֑ה מִן־הַבְּהֵמָ֗ה מִן־הַבָּקָר֙ וּמִן־הַצֹּ֔אן תַּקְרִ֖יבוּ אֶת־קָרְבַּנְכֶֽם

2. Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: When a man from [among] you brings a sacrifice to the Lord; from animals, from cattle or from the flock you shall bring your sacrifice.

Rashi brings down the Midrash, Vayikra Rabbah 2:7 that asks:
Why does the Torah use the word אָדָ֗ם vs. the more common Hebrew word of אִ֗ישׁ. It alludes to Adam, the first man, and teaches us:  just as Adam, the first man, never offered sacrifices from stolen property since everything was his, so too you must not offer sacrifices from stolen property.

There is an obvious question – why would we need a lesson to teach us not to bring a Korban –sacrifice from stolen property. This should be obvious. The Mishkan represents Gods place on earth and it is a place where man connects to God. We are not allowed to cut the stones of the Mizbeach – Alter – by using a knife, because metal is an instrument of death. Why would you think that one could and would bring a Korban from stolen property?
The second answer of the Midrash to explain the use of the term אָדָ֗ם is

דָּבָר אַחֵר, אָדָם, זֶה לְשׁוֹן חִבָּה וּלְשׁוֹן אַחֲוָה וּלְשׁוֹן רֵעוּת, אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ
הוּא לִיחֶזְקֵאל בֶּן אָדָם, בֶּן אֲנָשִׁים כְּשֵׁרִים, בֶּן צַדִּיקִים, בֶּן גּוֹמְלֵי חֲסָדִים, בֶּן
שֶׁמְבַזִּין אֶת עַצְמָן עַל כְּבוֹדוֹ שֶׁל מָקוֹם וְעַל כְּבוֹדָן שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל כָּל יָמָיו

The Midrash Rabbah HaMivoer explains this seemingly difficult Midrash. The word אָדָ֗ם is a reference to God, as we see in Yechezkel Chapter 1, Verse 26.

כו וּמִמַּ֗עַל לָֽרָקִ֙יעַ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר עַל־רֹאשָׁ֔ם כְּמַרְאֵ֥ה אֶֽבֶן־סַפִּ֖יר דְּמ֣וּת כִּסֵּ֑א וְעַל֙ דְּמ֣וּת הַכִּסֵּ֔א דְּמ֞וּת כְּמַרְאֵ֥ה אָדָ֛ם עָלָ֖יו מִלְמָֽעְלָה:

“Above the expanse over their heads was the semblance of a throne, in appearance
like sapphire; and on top, upon this semblance of a throne, there was the semblance of a
human form.”

We see that the highest level for God is referred to as אָדָ֛ם . It says in Bereshis, Chapter 1, Verse 26, “Let us make אָדָ֛ם in our image, after our likeness. First man, Adam, was 100% connected to God, perfection, representing the fulfillment of creation. This is the explanation of the Gemorah in Yevomos Page 61A, that someone who keeps all of Gods commandments is a אָדָ֛ם . אָדָ֛ם is a higher level of life. It represents one who is close to God, does all the Mitzvos and learns Torah. Since he cleaves to God, God in return uses an expression of love, brotherhood, and friendship.

Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch defines Adam expansively, the Verse in question starts off with a limitation saying, “Speak to the children of Israel and explain it to them: then uses the phrase – :אָדָ֛ם – if any man of you would bring an offering to God”. Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch explains, “Firstly, the subject, אֶל־בְּנֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ – – children of Israel is extended by אָדָ֛ם – at the very portal of the laws given for the Jewish Temple, an inscription is made which opens this Temple to all men – not exclusively to Jews. Every human being can bring his offering here”. Rabbi Hirsch was a Universalist. He expresses the grandeur of the Jewish people, Jews are citizens of the world and we are a place of morality, we are put on this world to not only be good to Jews but to be good to humanity, to be a light unto the nations.

We have two different, seemingly conflicting interpretations of אָדָ֛ם . It can mean both, Man as being Godly, keeping Gods commandments, and cleaving to God, generally reserved for Jews who fully keep the Torah and Mitzvos and thus cling to God. It can also mean humanity.

Chazzan Silber embodies both definitions of אָדָ֛ם . He is a citizen of the world, singing opera, being a top insurance agent, lecturing in front of over 1,000 agents on various insurance products. Has a close relationship to non-Jewish relatives. At the same time he is close to God. He talks about Gods love for the Jewish people, is our Chazzan for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kipper. Chazzan Silber speaks every Shabbos. He is one of the top experts on America on Kabbalah and Chassidus. He comes from great people. His ancestors for generations were Rabbis, Torah scholars, and holy people. His father was Rosh Chazzannim in Hungary. When Chazzan Silber davens on Shabbos Mevorchim, and say the Yehi Ratzon, he uses his father’s composition. Imagine what it means to Chazzan Silber. They play it in Israel on public radio on the Friday of Shabbos Mivorchim and was able to sing it live last year. Chazzan Silber is our connection to Europe. After I once spoke about Theodore Herzl, Chazzan Silber told me that in 1949, when the bodies of Theodore Herzl and his wife were being reburied in Israel, the bodies were initially brought to the only remaining Shul in Austria, Stadttempel Synagogue. Chazzan Silber was the Chazzan and chanted the Kal Maalah Rachamin for Herzl. Wow. Living history. I used a story he told about his grandson to explain the Kotzker Rebbe.

Parshas Va’era


SHABBOS PARSHAS VA’ERA:

January 12 and 13, 2018

Nachlas Tzvi by Rabbi Meshulam Tzvi Gross, TZL

Hamelitz Benataim by Rabbi Tzvi Fishbane

On Friday January 12, 2018 I sent out the following e-mail to the Rabbis and other I have corresponded with in the past. However, on Shabbos, I spoke, and my speech is after this e-mail. See how I developed what I said below:

From: Mitch Morgenstern
Sent: Friday, January 12, 2018 12:56 PM
To: Mitch Morgenstern
Cc: Mitch Morgenstern
Subject: Vort from Rabbi Meshulaim Tzvi Gross, TZL

Rabbis:

I am trying to understand the attached Vort and I apologize for not being articulate on the subject as it is swirling in my head. Have a Good Shabbos and I would like to thank everyone in advance for allowing me to e-mail you.

About 15 years ago I was siting at a wedding and started talking to Reuben Gross from Teaneck, NJ. He mailed me his father’s Sefer. I have attached the face page and the picture of the Mechaber. Over the years I have looked at the Sefer. In this week’s Sedra I am drawn to the attached Vort. What does it mean that they were like sojourners even in Canaan? How did this change their actions? I heard a class this week from Rabbi Wolkenfeld on the life of Dr. Sigmund Freud and his connection to the Jewish people. Did Dr. Freud always feel like an outsider because of the reality built into the cosmos that Jews will always remain separate, and that we have to embrace it just like the Avos did.

The reality is that it is natural for people to want to feel part of the country they live in and be part of the culture. This weekend I will watch some of the football games. I have studied the battle of Gettysburg. Is this opposite of feeling like a sojourner in America?

Rabbi Goldberg – thank you for the Shiur this week. In the last Possuk of last weeks Sedra, (Chapter 6, Verse 1) Hashem’s initial reaction says “Vayomer” and not V’Yidaber. Even though according to Rashi, Moshe is being punished, Hashem does not speak to Moshe harshly. I do like (prefer) the Kli Yakor’s explanation. When I read the Passuk without Rashi, it always seemed to me as if Hashem is semi-apologizing or maybe saying to Moshe you are right and now you will see how I will save the Jews.

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On Shabbos at Kiddush I mentioned Rabbi Wolkenfeld’s class on Dr. Sigmund Freud.  Chazzen Silber said the Dr. Freud was one of us, meaning his Neshama was Orthodox, although his lifestyle was not.  He mentioned that the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe met with Dr. Freud.

https://www.henrymakow.com/Sigmund_Freud_and_the_Lubavitcher_Rebbe.pdf

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SPEECH AT THE SHOLUS SEUDOS MEAL ON JANUARY 13, 2018:

1) I first spoke my last comment in the above e-mail. In Chapter 6, Verse 2 God speaks to Moshe harshly, but is not angry. However, the Possuk before, Verse 1, does not say the God spoke to Moshe harshly. However, you have Rashi saying on Verse 1 that Moshe was punished. I do not have a clear Pshat. I did add that when Moshe said, Why did You do bad to the people, why did you send me”, Moshe was perhaps also saying something else. I told the Jews that I am here to take them out of Egypt and it got worse. This is the Jews first encounter with Moshe. Things did not get better, but get worse. This first impression will live with the Jews forever. Whenever Moshe would say things will be good, the Jews would never be sure, they would be skeptical. First impressions count.

2) I said over Rabbi Meshulim Tzvi Gross’s Vort on Verse 4.

ד וְגַ֨ם הֲקִמֹ֤תִי אֶת־בְּרִיתִי֙ אִתָּ֔ם לָתֵ֥ת לָהֶ֖ם אֶת־אֶ֣רֶץ כְּנָ֑עַן אֵ֛ת אֶ֥רֶץ מְגֻֽרֵיהֶ֖ם אֲשֶׁר־גָּ֥רוּ בָֽהּ:
4. And also, I established My covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their sojournings in which they sojourned.

I passed out my above e-mail and attachments and read Rabbi Meshulim Gross’s words. The consensus of opinion was that the Avos remained humble. Although they lived in their own land, they never closed themselves off from the world. They knew that it is their job tis o spread goodness in the world.

3) I spoke out how to understand Verse 5 using Rashi.

ה וְגַ֣ם | אֲנִ֣י שָׁמַ֗עְתִּי אֶת־נַֽאֲקַת֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר מִצְרַ֖יִם מַֽעֲבִדִ֣ים אֹתָ֑ם וָֽאֶזְכֹּ֖ר אֶת־בְּרִיתִֽי
5. And also, I heard the moans of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians are holding in bondage, and I remembered My covenant.

The covenant mentioned in Verse 5, is not the same covenant mentioned in Verse 4.

Verse 4 says I entered into a covenant with the Avos to bring the Jews to the land of Canaan. The “and also” of Verse 5 does not mean therefore (because of the promise to bring the Jews to the land of Canaan) I have listened to the cries of the Israelite’s in Egypt .

No, Verse 5 says, Because of the cries of the Israelites, it is now time for me to remember the covenant promised to Avrohom at the “Bris Ben Basarim” that I will judge the nation that will enslave the Jewish people. Meaning because of the cries it is time to free the Jews and listen to that covenant..

4) I spoke out the meaning of the 4 expressions of redemption. The Sepurno is the most logical Pshat and the one we would say. Rashi seems to say like the Ranban.

1) וְהֽוֹצֵאתִ֣י Sepurno – When the plagues started, the slavery ended.

Ranban – taking the Jews out of Egypt

2) וְהִצַּלְתִּ֥י

Sepurno – Leaving Egypt – at Ramsas when they crossed over the border.

Ranban – The Jews in Canaan will not be a vassal state. Meaning the       Egyptians will not have domain on the Jews even when the  Jews  have their own land.

3) וְגָֽאַלְתִּ֤י

Sepurno – Drowning the Egyptians at the Yam Suf. Destruction of the Egyptian army.

Ranban – God will judge (and punish) the Egyptians until they say, we give
the Jews a redemption of our souls, because the meaning of Geulah is
like a sale (mentioned by sale of fields and houses in Israel at the
end of Vayikra). The meaning of “we give to the Jews as
redemption for our lives,” means the money and clothes. I
believe the Ranban is explaining the understanding of “and then they
will leave with great wealth” like I did last year. For an
enslaved person to truly feel free is 1) the enslavers are properly
punished, and more importantly; 2) that the enslavers apologize
and recognize what they did was wrong. When the Jews asked for
money and clothes, the Egyptians said, we apologize for what we did
and the money is yours. You Jews earned it for working for 210
years.

4) וְלָֽקַחְתִּ֨י      When you were at Mount Sinai and accept the Torah. Both the Sepurno and Ranban.

5) Chapter 6, Verse 26:
Rashi says Moshe and Aaron were equal. Rabbi Goldberg asked, Moshe was a bigger Prophet. Rabbi Goldberg mentioned Reb Moshe Feinstein , that they were equals in that the each completely fulfilled their purpose in life. Of course Moshe was bigger and the greatest prophet, but both fulfilled their destiny and mission in life.

6) Chapter 6, Verse 15:
Targum Yonasan Ben Uziel says the Levi lived for 137 years and saw his great grandchildren, Aaron and Moshe the redeemers of Israel. The question is obvious. Levi died 36 years froe Moshe and 33 years before Aaron. Levi never saw Aaron or Moshe.

This question is asked in the Sefer “HaMealitz Benataim”, a translation of Targum Yonasan Ben Uziel into Hebrew and an explanation of the Targum Ben Uziel. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_ben_Uzziel

The Sefer “Hamelitz Benataim was written by Rabbi Tzvi Fishbane who lives in Chicago. His son-in-law, Aaron Karman was at the table when I spoke.

Rabbi Fishbane in his Sefer answers the question based on Rabbi Fishbane’s nephew, Dovid Katz.. Based on the Sepurno on Verse 12 that Levi lived longer than all his brothers, taught his grandchildren to understand and teach, and so did Kehas and Amrom, They taught their children greatness resulting in the two great leaders of Israel, Moshe and Aaron.

Based on the Sepurno , perhaps this is the meaning of the Targum Yonasan ben Uziel, that the education of Levi was evident in Moshe and Aaron, it is as if Levi saw them and taught them.

Parshas Va’Yigash: December 21-22, 2017

Tough week at work.  Happy to see Shabbos come.  My two boys, Sholem and Tzvi, drove to Florida, to spend a month there.  They made it to my daughter in Boynton Beach on Thursday at about 6:00 PM.  I was full of joy.  My three kids were together in Southern Florida.  Eli ate by a friend on Friday night, so we had a quiet Shabbos.

I would like to wish Dr. Yosef and Dr. Joyce Morgan and his wife a huge Mazel Tov.  Their son, David, married Rachel in Tzfas, Israel.  What a Simcha and I wish I was there.  I love you Yosef and Joyce.

This week I want to remind everyone of the Minhag in Klal Yisroel to eat Chinese food on the 25th and go to a movie.  I told my boss (who is not Frum) that, as you know among Orthodox Jews, we always have questions and different guidelines.  I said, jokingly, that there is a question when the Minhag of Chinese food starts on the 24th after sunset or on the 25th.

Shabbos Morning December 23, 2017:

Shabbos morning I walked to Anshe Sholem.  I needed the walk and  wanted to hear a great speech.  Rabbi Wolkenfeld obliged.  I saw Dr. David Passman, the super Jew Jack Berger, Herb Eiseman, Norm Levits and his wife.  Norm is from Krinik and my Zedi is also from Krinik.  He told me that when he went back to visit Krinik in 2010, Krinik was as backward as when his family left in 1920.  What I found interesting is that as I looked around the Shul, it seemed  like there has been a 50% turnover of congregants.  I saw more single guys than Talasim.  I left the Shul after Kiddush at 12:45 PM and got home at 2:30 PM.  It was cold going home.  It was about 29 degrees and I needed to wear the hood on my jacket, however, I like to have my Yarmulke showing so as to have people say Good Shabbos to me. I put on the hood once I got north on Clark street, which has less people.

Rabbi Wolkenfeld stated that in this Parsha there were three different interactions with Pharaoh, with power;  Yosef, Yaakov, and Yehuda.

  • Yosef was part of the power structure.  He was loyal to Pharaoh and made Pharaoh very wealthy.
  • Yaakov on the other hand says, the days of the years of my sojourns have been 130 years. Few and bad have been the days of the years of my life .  .  .   Yaakov seemed to react as the curmudgeon old Jew who, when asked how things are going, always responds “Oh  Vey, things are bad, this is no good and this is a problem.” Rabbi Wolkenfeld said beautifully.    As Yaakov was on his way to  Egypt, God appears in a dream (Chapter 46, Verses 1-4) and says:  “Do not fear descending to Egypt, I will go down with you and I will bring you up.”   Yaakov knew that eventually his descendants would be enslaved in Egypt.  This is why Yaakov is not in the moment when  visiting g Pharaoh.  He dismissed Pharaoh.  Yaakov was focused on the destiny of Klal Yisroel.  Pharaoh meant nothing to Yaakov and Yaakov knew the Pharaoh or his descendants will enslave  the Jewish people.  Yaakov had no interest in dialoging with Pharaoh.  Maybe Yaakov was hinting this to Pharaoh, just like my days were bad, you will continue the bad by enslaving my children.
  • Yehuda on the other hand stood up to Yosef who Yehuda thought was Ki’Pharaoh. Yehuda was respectful.

Full text of Rabbi Wolkenfeld’s drashas, more or less, are now up on the shul’s Facebook page and should be up on the shul’s website on Tuesday. (You can go to asbi.org, click on “library” and then click on “sermons” for most of the drashot from the past 5 years).

Please look at the Ranban on Chapter 47, Verse 14.   Focus on the last line of the Ranban, which is phenomenal and something that answers a question  on Yosef’s actions of having the Egyptians buying the food and not giving it to them.

My Torah on this week is as follows.

When Yosef reveals himself to his brother and says. “I am Yosef, is my father still alive, and they could not answer because they were embarrassed.”  The plain understanding is that Yosef was rebuking them, he was angry at them for selling him.  Once he got it off his chest, he  mellowed out.

However, based on another Verse, we can say a different explanation of the dialogue.  In last week’s Torah portion, Chapter 41, Verse 51.  “And Yosef called his first born son, Menashe, because God has made me forget all my  hardship and all my father’s household. “   Yosef had everything, he went form a slave to being the second  most powerful man in Egypt, he got the pretty wife, had a son, and God was with him in everything he did.  He could not make a wrong decision. Not only that, his wife was the daughter of Dinah (per the Medresh).  It was his niece.   By marrying Dinah’s daughter, the house of Yaakov was made whole.   As a result Yosef was no longer angry.  He was able to forget the  wrong that happened to him.  Of course, Yosef missed his father dearly and longed for the day he would be reunited with his father.  When the brothers came to him, he saw the first dream coming true and he was waiting for the second dream to become true, and only then would he reveal who he was.  When Yosef said,” I am Yosef, is my father still alive.” He was  not rebuking them, Yosef had moved beyond his anger and his negative feelings towards his brothers.  He was stating a fact, “I am Joseph”  then “Is my father alive.”  Meaning, you said my father is alive, is this true, or did you say it just to say what you think I wanted to hear.  Obviously, just Yosef saying, “I am Joseph” is the biggest rebuke of their actions, even if not meant as a rebuke.  Yosef personally  bore zero bad feelings towards his brothers.    Imagine how they could live with themselves for the rest of their life.  Yosef sincerely said to them, it was not your actions, but Gods actions.

When God is good to someone and things are going well, or you are older, retired, and you are having an easy retirement, with enough money to live a good life,  then all the slights and insults, the things that went wrong over the years , should  melt away.  You have zero excuse to be angry or fight.  If you hold onto past and present slights and hurts, you deny God’s goodness.   You must be gracious to your fellow man, because God is gracious to you.  Even if you feel that your smarts did it for you, you still have no reason to bear grudges.   Life is good.  You can go home and relax because you have no issues.

 

Parshas Vayera: November 3 – 4, 2017

What a Shabbos.  On Friday, I had to drive to the western part of the State, 30 miles from the Iowa border.  I listened to Rabbi Goldberg’s Chumash Shiur  from 2015.  Excellent Shiur.  At the end of the Shiur, Rabbi Goldberg gave four reasons why Monarchy and/or Moshiach had to come from Lot and his two daughters.  Rabbi Goldberg mentioned

  1. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, using Rabbeinu Bachya
  2. Reb Tzadoch Hacohen
  3. Kotzker Rebbe
  4. The Rov, Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveichik in his book Abraham’s Journey,

The reason given by the Kotzker Rebbe is in the Sefer, Shem M ’Shmuel on Megilas Rus  written by Reb Shmuel Bornstein, the son of the 1st Sochachover Rebbe and a grandson of the Kotzker, my second cousin, four times removed.

The Shem M’Shmuel writes that his father asked the Kotzker this very question as to why Monarchy has to come from the Lot and his two daughters.   The Kotkzer answered: since the Jewish people are united as one body, and just like one part of the body cannot rule over another part of a body, the same thing with the Jewish people – one person cannot be a king and rule over the rest of the Jewish people.  Therefore, God had to take the Middah (character trait) of Monarchy from a non-Jewish source.  God had to take the Ga’avah (arrogance, strength) of Moav which is sourced in an incestuous act from a non-Jewish source and turn it holy.  Meaning, this DNA was integrated into Malchus Bais Dovid.

How do you understand the Kotzker?

I thought and thought about this Vort and explained it as follows: The foundation of Kotzk Chasidus is Ahaves  Yisroel – Love of Fellow Jews.  It is not possible, says the Kotzker.  When you love another Jew, how can you rule over him?  A king has absolute control over his subjects.  He can take away property, kill people, and be nasty, all for capricious reasons.  This is not a Jewish character trait.  God had to take the Monarchy character trait of arrogance from the non – Jewish world, make it holy and integrate it into the Jewish people. 

Friday Night – November 3rd:

Davened by the Glenners.  Saw Ma. Went home to eat.  My kids were there.  I love my boys so much.

Shabbos Morning – November 4, 2017

Mayer Chase came to my house at 7:40 AM to take me to the Peterson Park Kollel for Davening.   I did not want to get up, but Mayer insisted.   Normally I go to Mishna Ugemorah much later for a davening that starts at 9:30 AM and usually ends at 12:15 PM.   Meir schlepped me to the Kollel because Rabbi Elya Brudny, Rosh Yeshiva in Mir was speaking.   I walked in the Kollel and it was beautiful.  The place was packed with Kollel guys and many others I knew.  It is a fast davening with little talking.  Davening started at 8:00 AM and ended at 10:00 AM, my style of Davening.     After davening Rabbi  Elya Brudny, Rosh Hayeshiva of Mir,  spoke  for 30 minutes,  He spoke out an Avi Ezri (Reb Shach  and it was Reb Shach’s Yahrzeit)  and a Rabbi Yehoshua Leib Diskin.  What was the test of the Akediah to Avraham?  The Avi Esri explains it that the highest levels of Nevias was Moshe who spoke to God “B’Aspakya Hemeirah” clear communication between God and Moshe, Peh el Peh.    All other prophets do not have  direct communication with God. Meaning, God communicates with prophets in the heavenly realms and the message from God  gets filtered down to this world through the prophets understanding.  Each prophet can and will understand God’s message differently.  Their goal is to understand God’s message as God intended.  Despite this if a prophet interprets if his way, then it is still God’s prophecy.   When Avraham heard Gods words to bring Yitzchak as a sacrifice Avraham could and would have been justified interpreting it as to not bring Yitzchak on the Akediah.  After all, God told Avraham that Yitzchak will grow into a great nation.  Avraham remained true to what God wanted and this was the test of Avraham.

Rabbi Brudny then explained Da’as Torah based on the Gemorah that says a Talmud Chocom is greater than a Navi.  Once a Talmud Chocom can discern Gods will through Torah wisdom, he is higher than a prophet.   The Talmud Chachom’s   level of understanding is on a very high level.  A Talmud Chachom can then understand other aspects of life such as business, medicine, and other matters because he attained a  level of greater than prophecy.

Picture of Rabbi Elya Brudny

Image result for pictures of rabbi elya brudny

During Davening I said the following  Vort.

Bereshis Chapter 21, Verses 22-24 says:

22  Now it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phicol his general said to Abraham, saying, “God is with you in all that you do.  23And now, swear to me here by God, that you will not lie to me or to my son or to my grandson; according to the kindness that I have done with you, you shall do with me, and with the land wherein you have sojourned.”    24And Abraham said, “I will swear.”

When Abimelech wants  a covenant of peace between the two, Abraham simply says, I swear that we will live in peace.  No arguments, no recriminations.

However, Verses 25 through 33 show a more contentious exchange and a ceremony to reinforce that Abraham dug the wells.

כה. וְהוֹכִ֥חַ אַבְרָהָ֖ם אֶת־אֲבִימֶ֑לֶךְ עַל־אֹדוֹת֙ בְּאֵ֣ר הַמַּ֔יִם אֲשֶׁ֥ר גָּֽזְל֖וּ עַבְדֵ֥י אֲבִימֶֽלֶךְ                  
כו  וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֲבִימֶ֔לֶךְ לֹ֣א יָדַ֔עְתִּי מִ֥י עָשָׂ֖ה אֶת־הַדָּבָ֣ר הַזֶּ֑ה וְגַם־אַתָּ֞ה לֹֽא־הִגַּ֣דְתָּ לִּ֗י וְגַ֧ם אָֽנֹכִ֛י לֹ֥א שָׁמַ֖עְתִּי בִּלְתִּ֥י הַיּֽוֹם
כז   וַיִּקַּ֤ח אַבְרָהָם֙ צֹ֣אן וּבָקָ֔ר וַיִּתֵּ֖ן לַֽאֲבִימֶ֑לֶךְ וַיִּכְרְת֥וּ שְׁנֵיהֶ֖ם בְּרִֽית
כח: וַיַּצֵּ֣ב אַבְרָהָ֗ם אֶת־שֶׁ֛בַע כִּבְשׂ֥ת הַצֹּ֖אן לְבַדְּהֶֽן
כט: וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֲבִימֶ֖לֶךְ אֶל־אַבְרָהָ֑ם מָ֣ה הֵ֗נָּה שֶׁ֤בַע כְּבָשׂת֙ הָאֵ֔לֶּה אֲשֶׁ֥ר הִצַּ֖בְתָּ לְבַדָּֽנָה

25 And Abraham contended with Abimelech about the well of water that the servants of Abimelech had forcibly seized.  26 And Abimelech said, “I do not know who did this thing, neither did you tell me, nor did I hear [of it] until today.”    27 And Abraham took flocks and cattle and gave them to Abimelech, and they both formed a covenant.  28 And Abraham placed seven ewe lambs by themselves 29 And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What are these seven ewe lambs, which you have placed by themselves?”  30 And they formed a covenant in Beer-Sheba, and Abimelech and Phicol his general arose, and they returned to the land of the Philistines.

Why the different reaction?.  Water is life.  Avraham’s family could not survive if the servants of Abimelech would seize Avraham’s  water supplies.  Avraham fought Abimelech on this very essential need.  The word the Torah uses the Hebrew word,   וְהוֹכִ֥חַ.  This word can mean  rebuke, which is Onkelyos.   However, Rashi brings down Yonasan Ben Uziel who explain it as to contend , to fight, and Avrohom fought with Abimelech.    This was critical and  Avraham  fought for his rights.  What does Abimelech say in  Verse 26.  “I did not know.”   This is usually the reaction of people in power.  Their minions steal and destroy and the king  says, I did not know.   Plausible deniability.  Politicians and people in power haven’t changes in 4,000 years.  This is why Avrohom made a public ceremony to reinforce publicly his right to the well.

However, it goes beyond this.  The Jewish mission is to do good to the world.  What happens when a king or politicians have control over something needed by the public, by humanity.  They limit access, tax it, and use it to have power over their subjects.  Avrohom was fighting Abimelech from hurting his own people . Avraham had to publicly declare I dug this well and it  is mine.    I will give it the public at large for free because water is a human right and not  be controlled by a king.  This is the Eishel Avraham opened for humanity, and gave food and water as needed.

After Davening there was a Kiddush Rabbi Leibenstein’s son’s house.  My nephew and I went over to Rabbi Elya  Brudny.  Meir asked Rabbi Brudny if he know his father, Pesach Chase.  Rabbi Brudny said he was close to Pesach when they were both learning in Mir Yeshiva in New York.  .  Rabbi Brudny then said he knew our grandfather,  Rabbi Sholom Sklar,  from Lakewood and he was close to my Zedi.  Rabbi Brudny substituted at the Daf Yomi Shiur in Yuks shul and my Zedi would tell him about Europe.

I told Rabbi Brudny, my above Vort from the Kotzker Rebbi and he responded;  based on the Kotzker’s Pshet perhaps you can answer a question that is asked on the following Verse that speaks about a Jewish king.

Dvorim, Chapter 18 Verse 14 says:

יד כִּֽי־תָבֹ֣א אֶל־הָאָ֗רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֨ר יְהֹוָ֤ה אֱלֹהֶ֨יךָ֙ נֹתֵ֣ן לָ֔ךְ וִֽירִשְׁתָּ֖הּ וְיָשַׁ֣בְתָּה בָּ֑הּ וְאָֽמַרְתָּ֗ אָשִׂ֤ימָה עָלַי֙ מֶ֔לֶךְ כְּכָל־הַגּוֹיִ֖ם אֲשֶׁ֥ר סְבִֽיבֹתָֽי:

14. When you come to the land the Lord, your God, is giving you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say, “I will set a king over ourselves, like all the nations around me.”

Rabbi Brudny said the Velt asks why does it say “like all the nations”.  The Chumosh should have stopped at “I will set a king over ourselves”.  We know what a king is.  Rabbi Brudny said that perhaps the Torah means what the Kotzker is saying, we Jews do have the emotional wherewithal to appoint a king over ourselves, it has to come from  non-Jewish DNA and like the Kotzker said that God took the non-Jewish DNA and make it holy.

At davening Shabbos morning there was a Rov who I know and may be a relative.  I am happy to see him.  However, a number of years ago he did something  I felt was not proper.  About two years ago the incident was mentioned and the Rov’s approach was justified and how the Rov was right.  I said nothing.  I am so happy that I did not respond.  Had I responded, it would have gotten back to the Rov and would have affected our relationship.  The incident was years ago, everyone moved on, so why get involved and Boruch Hashem I said nothing.   I was able to greet him with a smile and told him the Kotzker Moshiach Vort.

The rest of Shabbos was great.  By davening at 8:00 AM I expanded my Shabbos by three hours.

SHABBOS PARSHAS BEHAR

,y

May 28, 2016 – 20 Iyar 5776

Friday Night:

Had a tough week and it was great to have Shabbos. Chani came in from Stern College for the summer. My anniversary is Memorial Day and this is our 36th wedding anniversary.

Serka made a great meal. I gave Serka a tennis bracelet for our anniversary. Thanks to EC for getting me the bracelet.

Shabbos Morning:

Woke up at 7:15 AM and studied the Torah portion. Naftoli came over at 9:30 for me to take him to Shul. Got to Shul at 10:10 AM. Regular Davening. Naftoli and my mother ate over along with Joel Bulgatz. My mother was great. We read my post from three years ago, when I went to visit Rabbi Jonathan Gross and family in Omaha, Nebraska.

Naftoli Glenner Customs in Shul:

Opened the Aron with strength.

When I called him up for an Aliyah, I walked towards the front of the Shul, away from Naftoli and with my back to him. I always do this, and he always knows that he is being called up.

Naftoli has a new custom that he says the Blessings when called up to the Torah in a whisper. All of us around the Bimah and people standing near the Bimah all bent ourselves towards Naftoli to hear his blessing and we all shouted Amen. The scene was reminiscent of an EF Hutton commercial years ago. The commercial shows an EF Hutton broker talking very softly and everyone straining to listen and the tagline is, whenever EF Hutton talks, everyone listens.

He banged the Bimah when we started Musaf.

The Shul has a chart of the Torah Blessings with Ashkenasik on one side and Sephardic on the other side. Naftoli kept turning the chart over, briefly studying each side. Naftoli was trying to figure out what was the difference between the two sides.

He wears his hat backwards with the pinches in the back. He is starting a new fashion trend.

Naftoli is probably the most recognized non-public Jew in the world. If he were to walk in Jerusalem, many people would come over to him because of his semi-celebrity status.

 

My Torah from this week:

Behar Chapter 25, Verses 18-30:

You shall perform My statutes, keep My ordinances and perform them then you will live on the land securely. יחוַעֲשִׂיתֶם אֶת חֻקֹּתַי וְאֶת מִשְׁפָּטַי תִּשְׁמְרוּ וַעֲשִׂיתֶם אֹתָם וִישַׁבְתֶּם עַל הָאָרֶץ לָבֶטַח:
Then you will live on the land securely: because it is through the transgression of [the laws of] Shemittah that the Israelites are exiled [from their land], as the verse says, “Then, the land will appease its Sabbaths. [All the days of desolation while you are in the land of your enemies -] the land will rest and appease its Sabbaths” (Lev. 26:34). And the seventy years of the Babylonian exile [when the land remained forcibly at rest], corresponded to the seventy years of Shemittah not observed by Israel, [and thus came to rectify and “appease” them]. [see Rashi Lev. 26:25 where the calculation is explained; Shab. 33a; and see II Chron. 36:21] וישבתם על הארץ לבטח: שבעון שמטה ישראל גולים, שנאמר (ויקרא כו לד) אז תרצה הארץ את שבתותיה והרצת את שבתותיה, ושבעים שנה של גלות בבל, כנגד שבעים שמטות שבטלו היו:
19And the land will then yield its fruit and you will eat to satiety, and live upon it securely. יט וְנָתְנָה הָאָרֶץ פִּרְיָהּ וַאֲכַלְתֶּם לָשׂבַע וִישַׁבְתֶּם לָבֶטַח עָלֶיהָ:
And the land will then yield [its fruit…and you will…] live upon it securely: i.e., you will have no worry about a year of drought. ונתנה הארץ וגווישבתם לבטח עליה: שלא תדאגו משנת בצורת:
and you will eat to satiety: There will be a blessing in it even inside your innards. ואכלתם לשבע: אף בתוך המעים תהא בו ברכה:
20And if you should say, “What will we eat in the seventh year? We will not sow, and we will not gather in our produce!” כוְכִי תֹאמְרוּ מַה נֹּאכַל בַּשָּׁנָה הַשְּׁבִיעִת הֵן לֹא נִזְרָע וְלֹא נֶאֱסֹף אֶת תְּבוּאָתֵנוּ:

 

for three years: for part of the sixth year from Nissan [when the crop is reaped] until Rosh Hashanah, for the [entire] seventh [Shemittah] year, and for the eighth [year, namely,] for they will sow [a new crop] in Marcheshvan of the eighth year and reap [this new crop] in Nissan [while still eating of the sixth year’s crop]. לשלש השנים: למקצת הששית מניסן ועד ראש השנה, ולשביעית ולשמינית, שיזרעו בשמינית במרחשון ויקצרו בניסן:

Rashi on Verse 18 says that keeping Shmittah will insure that the Jews are able to live in Israel and conversely, transgressing Shmittah leads to exile. It seems depressing that for 490 years the Jews did not keep Shmittah. This is from the times of Shaul until the destruction of the first temple. My guess is that after the split of the Jewish people after Shlomo Hamelech’s death, you have the Northern Kingdom of 10 tribes and the Southern Kingdom of 2 tribes . The Northern Kingdom must have stopped keeping Shmittah.

Verse 19:

Let us read Verse 19 with Rashi and understand how Rashi explains the verse.

And the land will then yield its fruit and you will eat to satiety, even if you eat a little portion, there will be a blessing and you will be satisfied with eating just a little (Just like the Mun, which was an Omer for everyone), and as a result of having to only eat little portions to feel satiated, you will live securely in the land of Israel, enough crops will be stored that even in a year of drought you will have food and feel secure. The crops of previous years will be able to cover times of drought. Verse 20 go on to say that if one questions, how will we eat during the Shmittah year, God says, don’t worry, I will send a blessing so that the crop of the sixth year will be a bumper crop. Rashi seems to believe the Verse 20 is an inquiry and not a challenge.

The Sforno (1475-1550) offers a different explanation. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obadiah_ben_Jacob_Sforno

Verse 19 according to Sforno would be read as follows:

And the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat a little and be satisfied, so that during the Shmittah year when you do not plant, you will be secure, and not have to rely on purchases or charity from other countries to survive during Shmittah. Verse 20 is a challenge and is referring to people of lesser faith who will question God and ask how we will survive. To these people God answers that in year six you will have a bumper crop.

The Sefer Siach Sarfei Kodesh brings the following Vort on Verse 20:

Harav Austrover who heard from the Chidusshei Harim who said in the name of Reb Zuisha to explain verse 20. If the Jews did not ask, what we will eat in the seventh year, there would be plenty of produce, and satiety in the seventh year. Even without any commandment from God to bless the land to produce extra food, there will be plenty of food. However, if people ask, what will we eat? God must “command my blessing etc. The Chedusshei Harim concluded that the world says that Reb Zusha was not a Torah Scholar. But in truth this is not true, we see from this Torah Vort that he was a Goan – a Torah Scholar.

Why did this prove that Reb Zusha was a Torah scholar. On the surface, this is Drush, anyone can say it. However, the RIM is saying that Reb Zusha was not saying Drush but was explaining the words of the Chumash like the Sforno. This is why the RIM said Reb Zusha was a Torah scholar.

What difference does in make which type of blessing.  To answer this I have to thank Dr. Jerry Noble.

Dr. Jerry Noble gave me a set of Malbim (1809 – 1879) that was owned by my wife’s grandfather, Rabbi Leibish Noble TZL, 1895-1965+-. The Malbim is old and yellowed but it’s Torah is fresh, vibrant, and relevant. I opened the holy Malbim that Rabbi Leibush Noble touched.  The Malbim on  Verse 20 explains the two types of blessings; eating a little and being satisfied,and bumper crops.  Having a normal crop and having it last longer because of the blessing allows for a normal crop without the extra work, less worry of spoilage, easier to safeguard, and not having your enemies see you are very prosperous.   However, the second blessing of bumper crops brings worry and problems along with the extra work.  Http//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malbim
     

noble
Reb Leibish Noble

1916: Eitz Chaim hires a second teacher, Reb Leibish Noble. The school expands to two classes and has thirty students. Classes were held for four hours each day after a regular public school day, on Sundays, and during the summer

 

 

 

 

dvisnk
Meir Simcha of Dvinsk

I also opened up the Meschech Chochma, Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk, 1843-1926, and he says a beautiful explanation on Verse 20, see the attachment.

 


See the pages from the Gutnick Bible.

 

 

 

 

malbim
Rabbi Meir Lebush ben Yehiel Michal, “the Malbim”

Chumash

Gutnick – Lubavitch Bible

Malbim

Meshech Chochma

Siach Sarfei Kodesh – Reb Zusha – RIM

Shabbos Parshas Shimini

April 2, 2016 – 23 Adar 2

Karen came in to be with our mother.  Ate Friday night at the Glenners.  Right before Shabbos listened to 50% of Rabbi Efrem Goldberg’s Shiur on this week’s Torah portion.  He led me to the first  Orach Chaim Hakodesh (OCH).

Rabbi Goldberg explained the following Rashi beautifully:  The first Verse in Shimini says:

וַיְהִי בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁמִינִי קָרָא משֶׁה לְאַהֲרֹן וּלְבָנָיו וּלְזִקְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל:

And it was on the eight day, that Moses summoned Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel.

Rashi explains that Moses called the elder of Israel, “to inform them that is was by the express command of God that that Aaron was  becoming the High Priest, so that they should not say that he entered of his own accord.” (Medresh Tanchumah)

Rabbi Goldberg explains that Rashi is telling us that process is very important.  When you make a major decision or an appointment, you must be  cognizant of the politics of the situation, the personalities, and the effects of what you are doing.  If transparency is needed, be transparent, play your politics correctly.

Ba’al Haturim (BHT) on Verse 1:

Rabbi Goldberg read and linked the BHT  to the Orach Chaim Hakodash.  I will attempt to explain both.

The BHT said on the first Verse.  “Moshe said, “because I resisted for seven days by the burning bush (when God told Moshe to be the leader and take the Jews out of Egypt) , I only merited to serve as High Priest for seven days.”  The attribution listed in the Miikros Gedolus is the Medresh Rabbah 11:6. The Artscroll attempts to explain the BHT using the Medresh.    While the Medresh is the source of the idea of the BHT, the BHT is taking the idea in a new direction.   Moshe is thinking to himself, on why he (Moshe)  only merited to  be the  High Priest for 7 days.  It is one of regret.  The BHT is following the same line of reasoning as the Orach Chaim Hakodesh (OCH).

Orach Chaim Hakodesh (OCH):

The OCH  brings the Talmud in Megillah, 10b.  The Talmud in Megilah 10b says that the first word on Shimini – V’Yehi – translated as “ and it was” – is a word used to reference or foreshadow  distress, agony, a bad situation, pain.   It says “And it was in the days of Achashverosh”    The Jews were in distress during the days of Achashverosh.   The Talmud says the V’Yehi of this weeks portion, foreshadows the deaths of Nadav and Avihu.   The OCH goes on and gives a Torah lecture on the Talmud in Megillah.

The OCH  offers a second explanation  of the distress reference in the word V’Yehi.

The OCH says:

  “Perhaps the distress is Moshe’s distress, which is mentioned in the verse, (Moshe’s distress is that ) he saw  the greatness and the greatness and the greatness of Aaron’s  sons .”

Moshe saw that Aaron’s appointment to the High Priesthood was a legacy for his children.  Aaron’s children will eternally be High Priests.  Moshe’s children would not inherit Moshe’s position and this is what distressed him.  In fact Moshe’s own grandson was a priest for idols.

The OCH continues:

 Let us learn what the pain of jealousy even from good, what can happen, from the story of the children of Shimon Hatzadik, (brought down in Menachos 109b), and changes what was supposed to happen, that was to be his and his children afterwards.

The Talmud in Menachos details the tragic consequences even when Shimon Hatzadik , who was the High Priest for first 40 years of the Second Temple and was a very holy man, instructs his kids as to who is succeed him, jealousy ensued, and not only did the family of Shimon Hatzadik lose the legacy of High priesthood, there was a calamity of for the Jews people.

The OCH continues:

Because Moshe resisted being the messenger of God in Egypt, God got angry (at Moshe) on that day and (Moshe) lost the priesthood, so when it came the time that the priesthood would go into effect, Moshe was pained that he lost the glory of eternal priesthood, even though Moshe was outstanding in righteousness and humility, every  heart has feelings (we are all human) , especially with something  so valuable and glorious,  perhaps the distress of Moshe  is referenced in Numbers 7:1, which describes  the dedication and  raising of the Mishkan also on this same day of this Parsha,  and uses the same word, V’Yehi.”  (This way the V’Yehi of Shimini is  the distress of the deaths of Nadav and Avihu and Numbers the distress of Moshe).

Lest you think that the story of Shimon Hatzadik does not happen today, that Shimon Hatzadik’s son, Chonyav was evil, and this would not happen today. Look what is happening today at outstanding Torah institutions that were started by holy men.   Look at Ponevich, Telz, Satmer, Bobov, and others.  The people who built up these organizations were holy men, yet their heirs fight.  Nothing destructive that we see has happened, however, there has been a Chilul Hashem.  As far as Telz, the Sortzkins left Telshe.   The Sorotzkins were not part of the fight because the Patriarch of the family,  Reb Zalman Sorotzkin, was a big  Zionist.  Since he was a Zionist, he felt responsibility  for Klal Yisroel and this has seeped into the psyche of his descendants.

 

TO LIVE IN LA – THREE DAYS OF HEAVEN IN LA

December 17 – December 20, 2015

PARSHA    V’YIGASH

Tuesday- December 15, 2015

Decided to go to LA and clean out my father’s last storage unit.  The storage unit location is being sold and everything had to out by 12/31/2015. My father died in 2002 and he had three store units.  We cleaned out two of them following his passing in 2002.  We kept delaying and now we were up against a hard deadline.

Thursday- December 17, 2015

3:00 PM   – I try to get my boarding pass for my 8:00 PM flight.  I discover that I did not book the flight and was in a panic.  I found a 5:50 PM flight for $168.00 (original flight cost was $268).  I book the flight, go home, pack, and make the 5:50 PM flight.

10:30 PM – Arrive at Madeline and Martin’s condo in Westwood. Madeline is a first cousin of my wife.  It had been over 5 years since I was in LA, I was home and hugged them.

Friday – December 18, 2015

7:00 AM – Morning prayers at the Westwood Village Synagogue.  Reacquainted myself with Rabbi Abner Weiss, one of my teachers.

8:00 AM – Breakfast served by Madeline

9:00 AM – Arrive at my father’s storage unit, #449 on Lexington, east of LaBria

I open the unit and it is full of boxes, files, suitcases, luggage metal trunks, supplies, and everything else. I do not know what to do. I am overwhelmed as there is quite a bit to look at and did not want to miss anything. I am  also fearful of losing my sense of my father. I call my sister, Lisa. She has the same feeling as me.  My brother-in-law would have mocked me and would  have saidthrow it all out.

I panic and decide to move the stuff “as-is” to another storage unit four blocks away. I make three trips with a loaded mini-van. As the day went on I asked myself, what am I doing, it’s all junk and should be bulldozed. As the day wore on, I trashed about 25%of the unit and filled up the trash bin provided on the premises.

I find bank statements from the 1980’s; a copy of his lawsuit against Ma Parker, a deli he purchased in the 1970s on Fairfax; books; office supplies; rental car receipts. I found letters he sent to the IRS about malfeasance by people, and his tax returns. Nothing of value. I found luggage, metal suitcases that he shipped via rail in the early 1970s when he moved to LA. There were shirts, socks, blankets, his boxer shorts, uniforms from when he owned a Baskin- Robbins ice cream parlor. My most revolting discovery was a box of his undershirts. He wore undershirts, not T’s. I remember his wearing them when I was a kid and I was utterly revolted by them. I chastise the Schwartz boys because they wear these disgusting undershirts.

Friday Night – December 18, 2015 – Parshas V’igash

4:00 PM – Leave for Shul

Rabbi Abner Weiss spoke after Davening. He asked why is Yosef, the only son of Jacob, referred to as Yosef HaZaddik (Joseph the righteous one). For nine years Yosef delayed informing his father that he was still alive and that he was the Viceroy in Egypt. It is very cruel. Yosef had dreams and made sure to let his brothers know about it.

Rabbi Weiss said that the word Tzadik means, “Tzad Dak” – “the side that is across the tine line”, meaning Yosef was a Tzadik – someone who is just over the center line between good and evil.

Had a delicious Shabbos meal at Madeline and Martin. The Nachash – snake popped up twice. Once which I cannot say and the second is that I did not bring the Diet Coke. Madeline and Martin eat healthy and do not drink diet pop. I did not pick up the pop as I said I would  and was suffering. Madeline had a 20 ounce bottle of Coke zero and I had to nurse my one glass of Coke Zero the entire evening. We engaged in the fine art of conversation.

Shabbos Morning – December 19, 2015 – Parshas V’Yigash

1) On my way to Shul met Naomi and her two sons. They were on their way to the hospital to visit their father who was very sick. I told them a Dvar Torah. One of the boys is at Rutgers and I will try to set him up to stay for Shabbos with my cousin and family, who live right across the river in Highland Park, NJ, very close to Rutgers. I was dismayed to learn that their father passed away on the following Tuesday.

Naomi and her husband are friendly with Martin and Madeline.

2) Met Pablo from Argentina in front of Peet’s Coffee and invited him to Shul. He came and had an Aliyah.

3) I had a special treat. My niece, Tziporah, met me in Shul. It was great to see her.

4) Rabbi Abner Weiss was his brilliant self. He asked a question. Why did Yehuda and his descendants merit Monarchy in Israel? Reuven was the eldest son of Jacob. Yosef was a viceroy and great leader in Egypt.

The name Yehuda means to give thanks, to acknowledge. Leah named Yehuda as she was giving thanks to God. Yehuda acknowledged his guilt in the incident of Tamar. Tamar did not tell the court that Yehuda was the father. Yosef could have chosen not to acknowledge that he was the father of Tamar’s child. However, before a court consisting of his father, Yaakov, and grandfather, Yitzchok, he admitted to impregnating Tamar out of wedlock. Not easy to do. Yosef could have sidestepped everything by delaying the court proceedings and let Tamar escape without admitting guilt.

Rabbi Abner Weiss said that these are not the reasons for Yehuda’s rise to greatness. It was loyalty to his family. It first started with Tamar, then Yehuda was willing to give up his freedom for his brother, Benjamin, his loyalty to Jacob. To Yehuda, Yosef was this megalomaniac, unpredictable leader of Egypt, who could have imprisoned everyone and destroy their family. Yet Yehuda stood up to Joseph because of his loyalty to family.  What about Joseph’s sale when Yehuda said “What do we get by killing Joseph” and they sold him. It appears to be disloyalty to family. You can say that from that low point in Yehuda’s life, he changed, he realized what he did was wrong and became a completely different person, a change of 180 degrees, and had the moral compass to confront the Egyptian leader. Rabbi

Abner Weiss said that Yehuda was actually loyal to Joseph, because all the brothers felt Yehuda deserved death and Yehuda saved him from death.

Rabbi Abner Weiss mentioned a dear friend of his who was a leader for 15 years, consoled and counseled hundreds of people, had many friends. Yet when he needed his friends the most, they deserted him.

Jews traditionally are loyal to one another. This is one of the secrets of our people. The Jews have suffered for no reason other than being Jewish. However, when there is disloyalty, treachery, and no Achdus the suffering is more intense. We have a current situation today, where there seems to be lack of loyalty, even among Torah leaders. People defend lack of loyalty, claim that Achdus in Klal Yisroel is not a Torah value, and claim the disloyal Rabbi is standing up for trust. This is a false Truth, this is falsehood.

5) I saw a Rashi and said the following Torah thought.

Chapter 45; Verse 4:
דוַיֹּאמֶר יוֹסֵף אֶל אֶחָיו גְּשׁוּ נָא אֵלַי וַיִּגָּשׁוּ וַיֹּאמֶר אֲנִי יוֹסֵף אֲחִיכֶם אֲשֶׁר מְכַרְתֶּם אֹתִי מִצְרָיְמָה
Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come closer to me,” and they drew closer. And he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.

גשו נא אלי: ראה אותם נסוגים לאחוריהם, אמר עכשיו אחי נכלמים, קרא להם בלשון רכה ותחנונים, והראה להם שהוא מהול
Please come closer: He saw them drawing backwards. He said,“Now my brothers are embarrassed” (Tanchuma Vayigash 5). He called them tenderly and pleadingly and showed them that he was circumcised (Gen. Rabbah 93:10).

Rashi on this Verse says:

Please Come Closer:  He saw them drawing backwards.  He said, “Now my brothers are embarrassed (Tanchuma Vayigash 5)”.  He called them tenderly and pleadingly and showed them that he was circumcised (Gen. Rabbah 93:10).

Rashi used the Hebrew word “Achshav – Now”. It is an extra word. You can read Rashi without the word “Achshav” – Now. They were already embarrassed two seconds ago.

The answer is that with this one word Rashi is answering a fundamental question. Why did Yosef create this drama? Why didn’t he tell them that he is Joseph one year earlier when they first came for food? Rashi is telling us that Yosef had to create a crisis for his brothers. A crisis where they could have lost everything. Yehuda offered to be Yosef’s slave; he would lived out his life as a slave, no freedom, and would have lost his family. The brothers did not know if Yosef would change his mind and imprison all of them.   Yosef’s behavior to them was mercurial in his treatment to them and they did not know what to expect. Binyamin may have been lost to them and their father.

Yosef had to make them feel the emotional turmoil of being put in the position of losing everything, just as Yosef lost everything when they sold him to slavery. This was the only way for them to understand that what they did was wrong and truly be sorry. Otherwise, they would have been embarrassed but would have felt that they were correct in their actions.

5) Met the Rabbi of the UCLA Hillel House – Rabbi Kaplan, a YU Musmach. He learned in Har Etzion – the Gush and I played Jewish geography with him. He was good friends with my Chavrusa, Noah.

6) The Shul served a great meal with Cholent, Chicken Kabob food, and salads. And plenty of Diet Coke.

7) Went back to Martin’s place. Walked my niece to her friend. I spent “islands of time” with her.

8) Got caught in a downpour. Rain is a blessing for LA, as they have been having a multi year drought.

9) Made it to Rabbi Abner Weiss’s Gemora class in his house. I did not have an address, just the general location. I said at Shul that I would be there for Maariv so I felt I had to find his house. I found the house and listened to the class. Davened Maariv

Motzai Shabbos – December 19, 2015

Picked up Tzipporah and went to my niece and nephew’s house in Hancock Park, Michael and Sassha. Michael brought the sushi. I spent 2 hours there catching up on family, stories. They are making a Bar Mitzvah in March 2017 and I told them to book me a reservation.

Sunday – December 20, 2015

Davened at the Westwood Village Shul, however, only 9 people.

Said goodbye to Madeline and Martin.

Picked up Tzipporah and went to visit my aunt Florence, Madeline’s mother, who is at a memory care facility on Fairax, just south of Santa Monica. Spent 90 minutes with her. Had a great time. Although Zipporah is not her relative, Zipporah engaged her in conversation. I felt as if I was with her mother, my sister. Greatly appreciated. I called my mother –in-law, Florence’s sister, so they were able to talk. Departing was not easy.

Went to Pizza Maven for lunch.

Drove to Hollywood Boulevard; walked through the Roosevelt hotel, Mann’s Chinese Theatre, and the shops at Hollywood and Highland. Bought a red San Francisco hat for $5.00. Saw a Lubavitch Menorah, next to a Christmas Tree. This is why we love America.

I took Tzipporah to my father’s apartment building and we went inside to the door of his apartment. Dropped Tzipporah off and drove to LAX for my flight home.