Shabbos Parshas Breshis 2019

October 25-26, 2019

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

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I am excited.  Nothing better than Shabbos in Lakeview.

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

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

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

Shabbos Morning:

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

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

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

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

Vort #1:

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

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

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Translation:

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

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

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

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

Vort #2:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Third Vort:

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

 

Shabbos Parshas Pinchos 2019

July 28, 2019

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

eruv

Another great Shabbos at ASBI.

Friday Night:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Shabbos Morning

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

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

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

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

טווַיְדַבֵּ֣ר משֶׁ֔ה אֶל־יְהֹוָ֖ה לֵאמֹֽר:

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

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

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

Questions and comments in Shiur that we discussed:

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

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

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

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

1) He was a man with patience and understanding

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 27, 2019:

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

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

Parshas Pinchos Shabbos ASBI Bulletin

Ahavas Shaul – Pinchos

In Loving Memory

 

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

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

Highlights:

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

Friday Night – May 31, 2019:

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

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

Shabbos Morning – June 1, 2019:

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter 26, Verse 6:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The problem is this:

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

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

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

How do we understand the Gemoro Kedushim 30B:`

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rabbi David Wolkenfeld
ASBI Congregation
Behukotai 5779

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

וְנָתַתִּ֤י שָׁלוֹם֙ בָּאָ֔רֶץ וּשְׁכַבְתֶּ֖ם וְאֵ֣ין מַחֲִר֑יד

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rabbi Shochet continues:

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

  1. Exile is called night.

  1. Morning references redemption.

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

  1. The bed of a person references his children.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My comments:

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

The Ahavas Shaul continues:2

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

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

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

Footnotes:

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

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

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

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Shabbos – May 25, 2019

Memorial Day Weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Behar:


Vayikra – Chapter 25 – Verse 2:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Week of Parshas Va-era

Sunday – December 30, 2019:

Got up from Shiva for my mother.

Tuesday – January 1, 2019:

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

January 1, 2019:
image1

December 31, 2017
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Thursday – January 3, 2019:
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Took Naftali Glenner for Mincha / Maariv.

Shabbos – Friday night January 4 – 2019:

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

Saturday – January 5, 2019:

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

The following is my Torah on Parshas Va’era:

1) עֲרַ֥ל שְׂפָתָֽיִם: – Closed Lips:

Chapter 6, Verse 12:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2) Reuben, Israel’s firstborn

Chapter 6- Verse 14:

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

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

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

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

3) Moshe is to give Pharaoh Respect:

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

4) And Pharaoh also called his wise men:

Chapter 7, Verse 11:

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

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

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

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

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

Parshas Chai Sarah 2018

November 4, 2018

Week was tough. I do not recall why.

Friday night – November 2, 2018: Ate by the Glenners. Karen and Mattityahu came in. Sholom ate with us and Tzvi came late. I said over a Vort from Aish Kodesh, I heard from Rabbi Efraim Goldberg. It was from Dr. Henry Abramson’s new translation on the Piatzner Rebbe’s Drashes from the Warsaw Ghetto, which puts everything in historical context. Mayer Chase and family came over after their meal. Aviva and David Weinschneider also came over. Got home at 10:30 PM.

Shabbos Morning November 3, 2018: Today is my 32nd Anniversary of my employment with MB. At 8:20 AM walked with the Roberts to escort their son, Dovid Aryeh, to Eichenstein on Devon for his Auf Ruf. Davening was quick. Kiddush was good. Schmoozed away. Walked with Serka, Tzvi, and Mordy to Michael Benjamin’s Auf Ruf at Chabad on Howard. Came during the Kiddush. The Challeh was great. Walked to Rivki’s house.

Torah on Chaya Sarah:

Timing: Age of Avraham: Age of Ishmael: Age of Yitzchak:
Ishmael Born 86 Born  
Yitzchak Born 100 14 Born
Ishmael banished 103 17 3
Avraham visits Ishmael 106 20 6
Avraham re-visits Ishmael 109 23 9
Sarah Dies 137 51 37
Avraham remarries 140 54 40
Yaakov and Eisav Born 160 74 60
Avraham Dies, Ishamel repents 175 89 75
Ishmael Dies a Tzaddik   137 123

This Shabbos I focused on Bereshis Chapter 25, Verse 9, Verse 11, Verse 17, and Verse 18.

1.pngThe Verses say:

יא וַיְהִ֗י אַֽחֲרֵי֙ מ֣וֹת אַבְרָהָ֔ם וַיְבָ֥רֶךְ אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶת־יִצְחָ֣ק בְּנ֑וֹ וַיֵּ֣שֶׁב יִצְחָ֔ק עִם־בְּאֵ֥ר לַחַ֖י רֹאִֽי

Rashi explains that God’s blessing to Yitzchak was that God consoled him with the consolations of mourners. Sotah 14a. It seems odd to me that the verse says at its beginning, “And it was after Avraham’s death.” It would seem more appropriate to leave out these words (not like the Sifsei Chachomin.)

This is one of the two times the Torah mentions that God offered consolation. The other was to Yaakov when Dvora, the nursemaid of Rivka, died. Rashi says that Rivka also died. Why only these two times did God pay his respects. When Sarah died at the beginning of this Sedra there is no mention of God’s consolation.

The second part of the Verse states that Yitzchak settled by Be’er Lachai Ro’i. Be’er Lachai Ro’i is mentioned twice before. In the first, Hagar meets the angel and gives this name to the well when she was ejected from Avraham’s house 72 years earlier. The second time was earlier in the Parsha, Chapter 24, Verse 62 – 38 years earlier, when Sarah died. Rashi there says that Yitzchak went to Be’er Lachai Ro’i to bring Haggar back to remarry Avraham. Hagger lived in Be’er Lachai Ro’i. Chapter 24, Verse 62 also informs us that Yitzchak lived in the south, with Rashi adding ‘near the well’. In the above Chapter 25, Verse 11, it says that Yitzchak dwelt by the well. Did Yitzchak now move to the well or did he live by the well for 38 years, since Chapter 24, Verse 62. Odd thing in both is that you would assume that Yitzchak would be living with his father, presumably in Be’er Sheva.

ט. וַיִּקְבְּר֨וּ אֹת֜וֹ יִצְחָ֤ק וְיִשְׁמָעֵאל֙ בָּנָ֔יו אֶל־מְעָרַ֖ת הַמַּכְפֵּלָ֑ה אֶל־שְׂדֵ֞ה עֶפְרֹ֤ן בֶּן־צֹ֨חַר֙ הַֽחִתִּ֔י אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל־פְּנֵ֥י מַמְרֵֽא

Rashi says that we learn from the language of the Torah that Ishmael let Yitzhak lead in the burial of their father that Ishmael repented. The Gemoro Baba Basra 16B adds the word “Be’Yamiv,” in his days, meaning that Avraham was alive to witness the repentance of Ishmael. Beautiful.

Rashi says this is learnt because he let Yitzchak be the lead despite being the older brother. At this time, Ishmael was 89 years old. Ishmael was 17 years old when he left Avraham, 72 years earlier. For 72 years the Torah does not mention Ishmael, and the Torah re-introduces him as righteous.

There is a beautiful Yalkut Shimoni that adds some color to Avraham and Ishmael. Page 56 of the Yalkut, Chapter 95 brings down the following story:

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Ishmael was 17 when he left Avraham . . .  Ishmael sent and took a wife from the daughters of Moab and Asiah was her name. After 3 years, Avraham went to see Ishmael and promised Sarah that he would not disembark from his camel when he got to Ishmael’s house. Avraham gets there at midday and finds Ishmael’s wife home. Avraham asks for Ishmael. Asiah says he went with his mother to bring fruits and figs from the desert. Avraham asks, please give me a little bread and a little water because I am famished from traveling the desert. She answers, I do not have bread or water. Avraham tells her that when her husband returns, tell him that he (Ishmael) should change the threshold because it is not good or proper for him. She tells her husband and, being a son of a wise man, Eisav understands the message and sends his wife away. He marries Fatimah. Another 3 years pass and Avraham again visits Ishmael . Avraham gets there mid day. Again Ishmael is not there. Fatimah brings out food for him. Avraham prays for his son and Ishmael’s house fills up with everything good, money and blessing. Ishmael returns and Fatimah tells him that his father visited. Ishmael understood that Avraham has mercy on him (Avraham still loves his son.), like the verse says that a father has mercy for his sons

Verse 17:

יז.  וְאֵלֶּה, שְׁנֵי חַיֵּי יִשְׁמָעֵאל–מְאַת שָׁנָה וּשְׁלֹשִׁים שָׁנָה, וְשֶׁבַע שָׁנִים; וַיִּגְוַע וַיָּמָת, וַיֵּאָסֶף אֶל-עַמָּיו.

In describing the years of Ishmael, the Torah uses the same terminology as by Sarah and Avraham, meaning the word years separate the hundreds, tens, and singles. Rashi does not explain what this references here as he did by Sarah and Avraham. The question remains what does it means that Ishmael at 100 was like he was at 30and at 30 like he was 7. The Da’as Zekamin on 23:1 talks about this.

Rashi also says the word וַיִּגְוַע is a word that references a righteous man. It this comes out that Ishmael was a righteous man from the time of Avraham’s death to Ishmael’s death, 48 years.

Verse 18:

. נָפָֽל ה עַל־פְּנֵ֥י כָל־אֶחָ֖יואַשּׁ֑וּרָ אֲכָ֖הוַיִּשְׁכְּנ֨וּ מֵֽחֲוִילָ֜ה עַד־שׁ֗וּר אֲשֶׁר֙ עַל־פְּנֵ֣י מִצְרַ֔יִם בֹּֽ :יח

18. And they dwelt from Havilah to Shur, which borders on Egypt, going towards Ashur; before all his brothers he dwelt.

The verse employs the word אֶחָ֖יו – brothers. This word in Hebrew is references brotherhood, a common bond, a very positive relationship..

Verse 11:

יא וַיְהִ֗י אַֽחֲרֵי֙ מ֣וֹת אַבְרָהָ֔ם וַיְבָ֥רֶךְ אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶת־יִצְחָ֣ק בְּנ֑וֹ וַיֵּ֣שֶׁב יִצְחָ֔ק עִם־בְּאֵ֥ר לַחַ֖י רֹאִֽי:

18. And they dwelt from Havilah to Shur, which borders on Egypt, going towards Ashur; before all his brothers he dwelt.

The verse employs the word אֶחָ֖יו – brothers. This word in Hebrew is references brotherhood, a common bond, a very positive relationship..

Verse 11:  יא וַיְהִ֗י אַֽחֲרֵי֙ מ֣וֹת אַבְרָהָ֔ם וַיְבָ֥רֶךְ אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶת־יִצְחָ֣ק בְּנ֑וֹ וַיֵּ֣שֶׁב יִצְחָ֔ק עִם־בְּאֵ֥ר לַחַ֖י רֹאִֽי:

Rashi explains that God’s blessing to Yitzchak was that God consoled him with the consolations of mourners. Sotah 14a. It seems odd to me that the verse says at its beginning, “And it was after Avraham’s death.’ It would seem more appropriate to leave out these words (not like the Sifsei Chachomin.) This is one of the two times the Torah mentions that God offered consolation. The other was to Yaakov when Dvora, the nursemaid of Rivka died. Rashi says that Rivka also died. Why only these two times did God pay his respects. When Sarah died at the beginning of this Sedra there is no mention of God’s consolation.

The second part of the Verse states, Yitzchak settled by Be’er Lachai Ro’i. Be’er Lachai Ro’i is mentioned twice before. Hagar meets the angel and gives this name to the well when she was ejected from Avraham’s house 72 years earlier. The second time was earlier in the Parsha, Chapter 24, Verse 62 – 38 years earlier, when Sarah died. Rashi there says that Yitzchak went to Be’er Lachai Ro’i to bring Haggar back to remarry Avraham. Hagger lived in Be’er Lachai Ro’i. Chapter 24, Verse 62 also informs us that Yitzchak lived in the south with Rashi adding near the well. In the above Chapter 25, Verse 11 it says that Yitzchak dwelt by the well. Did Yitzchak now move to the well or did he live by the well for 38 years since Chapter 24, Verse 62. Odd in both is that you would assume that Yitzchak would be living with his father, presumably in Be’er Sheva.

What is the hidden story the Torah is alluding to in this series of verses.

The answer is as follows and it is magnificent:

1) Ismael is kicked out of the home. An Avraham visit Ismael twice and Ishmael realizes that his father still prays for him and still loves him. The Teshuva process starts.
2) Sarah dies and Yitzchak goes to bring back Hagar at Be’er Lachi Ro’i. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks says that Yitzchak wanted to bring back not only Hagar, but Ishmael. The Teshuva process gets heats up.
3) Hagar marries Avraham. The Teshuva Process is complete.
4) Avraham dies, Ishmael and Yitzhak are brothers in every sense of the word, bury Avraham.
5) Ishmael dies and the Torah tells us that Ishmael is a Tsaddik.
1) The Torah testifies that after Ishmael dies the brotherhood falls apart. Meaning that during Ishmael’s years as a Tsaddik he brought peace to his family. He was like Avraham, a unifying force. Once he dies, there is nothing to hold the family together. The Torah uses the words “brothers” to tell us as long as Ishmael was alive; his righteousness was so strong that his children good to one another and there was good in his world.

Let us recap the questions:
1) Why Nechum Avelim?
2) Why does Yitzhak live by the well, Be’er Lachai Ro’i?
3) Why doesn’t Yitzchak live by his father, assuming Avraham lives in Be’er Sheva?
4) What is the meaning of Verse, “Ishmael was 100 years, 30 years, and 7 years”?
5) Why does the Torah use the words “brothers” in Verse 18?

Observations
6) Ishmael’s Tsidkus started when Avraham was still alive and was a Tsaddik for well over 48 years
7) Avraham lives in Be’er Sheva and Sarah dies in Chevron

Answers:
1) Not sure.
2) Seems that the well was especially spiritual.
3) Do not know.
4) Perhaps – at 100 we know that Ishmael was righteous, perhaps the verse is comparing 100 to 30 is to tell us that Ishmael was righteous or on his path to a Ba’al Teshuva at 30 because of Avraham’s love for him. At 30 like he was 7. Even though Ishmael at 30 was not a perfect son, Avraham loved him like Ishmael was 7. At 7 Ishmael was a good kid and when Avraham looked at Ishmael at age 30, he saw in him a kid of 7, a good kid.
6) The Torah uses the words brothers to tell us as long as Ishmael was alive; his righteousness was so strong that his children were brothers, were good to one another and were good to the world.
7) No idea.

I put together this chart and over the next few years, I will work on refining it.

Where Lived          
Avraham Sarah Haggar/Ishmael Yitzchak
Age 75-100 Chevron Age 65-90 Chevron    
Age 103       Desert of Paran  
Age 101 -126 Land of Pilishtem/ Age 90-125 Land of Pilishtem/ Desert of Paran  
  Be’er Sheva   Be’er Sheva    
Age 126-137 Chevron Age 116-127 Chevron    
Age 137       Be’er Lachai Ro’i Land in the South
         

 

Week of Parshas Toldos: 2018

Week of Parshas Toldos:

November 6, 2018 – missed the weddings of the Benjamins and the Roberts. I had tickets, but I had to present a loan.

file-e1542198732699.jpeg

November 7, 2018 – Bicycled to Anshei Sholom for morning prayers. Walked in on a Bris of the Perls. I was dressed with my blanket grey sweats. I was embarrassed to go into the meal with my grungy clothes. After everyone left I talked with the entire Perl family and took two lox sandwiches home with the family’s blessing.

Went to Rabbi Wolkenfeld’s Shiur on Rabbi Yosef Karo at 7:30 PM.

November 8, 2018 – Went to a department meeting in Rosemont. Very emotional.

November 9, 2018 – Bicycled to Anshei Sholom for Shachris. First snowfall and it was cold, 32 degrees. All Friday I was working on my Dvar Torah for Shabbos.

Shabbos – November 10 – Friday night:
Ate by the Glenners with Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman. Wanted to speak but it did not work out.

Shabbos – November 11 – Shabbos Day:
Davened in Bais Mint. At 11:30 went to Bnei Ruvain for Sheva Brochos of Michael and Rifkah Benjamin. I spoke. Said how Rachel’s parent made us a Sheva Brochos in 1980.

My Torah was a continuation of last week’s. Last week I spoke about Ishmael’s Teshuva and he died a Tsaddik. There is a debate in Midrash whether Ishmael did Teshuva, but it seems as if the consensus is that he repented – this is Rashi’s opinion.

Toldos – Chapter 28 – Verse 7 and 8:

וַיַּ֣רְא עֵשָׂ֔ו כִּ֥י רָע֖וֹת בְּנ֣וֹת כְּנָ֑עַן בְּעֵינֵ֖י יִצְחָ֥ק אָבִֽיו :ח

בַּת־יִשְׁמָעֵ֨אל בֶּן־אַבְרָהָ֜ם אֲח֧וֹת נְבָי֛וֹת עַל־נָשָׁ֖יו ל֥וֹ לְאִשָּֽׁה וַיֵּ֥לֶךְ עֵשָׂ֖ו אֶל־יִשְׁמָעֵ֑אל וַיִּקַּ֡ח אֶת־מָֽחֲלַ֣ת : ט

8. And Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan were displeasing to his father Isaac.

9. So Esau went to Ishmael, and he took Machlas, the daughter of Ishmael, the son of Abraham, the sister of Nebaioth, in addition to his other wives as a wife.

Did Eisav take Machlas to honor his father and repent or was he still wicked and wanted to deceive his father? Rashi seems to say that Eisev intended to repent.

The Midrash Rabbah 67:13 on these two verses brings down a disagreement. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi says that Eisav wanted to do Teshuva. This is why Ishmael’s daughter was Machlas which in Hebrew means forgiveness, that God forgave Eisav sins. This is in line with Rashi on Genesis 36:3.

Rebi Eliezer says that Eisav did not repent and he brings proof from the words “in addition to his other wives”. Meaning he added evil to evil. Eisav had no intent to repent. He kept his evil wives that Yitzhak and Rifkah hated.

However Rashi on Verse 9 uses this verse as follows:

To his other wives – He added wickedness upon his wickedness, for he did not divorce the first ones [From Genesis Rabbah 67:13].

The problem is that his verse is used to say that Eisav never intended to repent. If Rashi holds that Ishmael was a Tsaddik and Eisav wanted to repent, how can he bring down this explanation?

I believe the answer is as follows:

Rashi is consistent. Rashi says that Ishmael was a Tsaddik and his daughter Machlas was good. Eisev did intend to repent. Rashi is coming to answer why Eisav’s repentance didn’t last. The answer is that Machlas was good as long as her father was alive. He died right before the marriage. Eisev did not get rid of his evil wives and since Machlas did not have a pillar of strength to remain good, she was influenced by her evil co-wives and did not remain a positive influence to Eisav.

Torah #2:
I also worked on the first verse in Toldos:

יט. וְאֵ֛לֶּה תּֽוֹלְדֹ֥ת יִצְחָ֖ק בֶּן־אַבְרָהָ֑ם אַבְרָהָ֖ם הוֹלִ֥יד אֶת־יִצְחָֽק:

What does the Hebrew word Toldos mean? I put this chart together which compares 4 times the Torah uses the word Toldos and what the various Reshonim say. See attached.

 

Medrash Rabbah 67-13

Translation of Toldos

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.