November 4, 2022 – Shabbos Parshas Lech Lecha

Simi Mandelbaum Bar Mitzvah

Tiferet Levy

Sara Wolkenfeld’s Sister’s Passing

Or Hachaim on Genesis 15:15

Yishmael’s Bris

Friday night I davened by Sidney Glenner at the Base Ment Minyan. I wore my light blue jacket I purchased from the Brown Elephant for $14.  I love the jacket and how it looks on me. I also wore my Rose Gold Fossil watch also purchased from the Brown Elephant.

Shabbos morning davened with Mayer Chase at the Adas.  Simi Mandelbaum made a Bar Mitzvah for his son.  Cholent was great.  Simi’s father TZL was a well known Rebi in Philadelphia for years, loved by everyone.  I wanted to get a bracha from Simi’s mother, but she was not yet at the simcha.    Spoke to Simi’s brothers, especially Shmuel.  I saw Avi Goldfeder who was MC at  Keshet dinners for  many years.  I described my granddaughter, Tiferet, who is autistic and the need to give her respect and told him of my dialogue with Michelle.

Caption  for picture – Tammy took Tiferet for a waxing and out to Lunch.

My response – Being clean and neat and sitting with her drink at a restaurant speaks to me.

Michelle’s Answer – I know. She has a lot in her if she’s just respected.

My response – I sent $100

Michelle’s response – Thanks. She looks like such a beautiful young lady. She loves doing this stuff.

At the Bar Mitzvah I met many friends.

I worked on the Sedra and saw beautiful Torah.  I always recall that Rabbi Shmuel Bowman of Efrat said that at CUFI events there are signs that say Genesis 12:3, which is the Pasuk וַאֲבָֽרְכָה֙ מְבָ֣רְכֶ֔יךָ – I will bless those that bless you. 

I saw the Or Hachaim on Lot and the fight between the shepherds of Lot and the shepherds of Avrohom.  I also saw a Pshet that Hashem did not want Lot to go with Avrohom, but that Lot attached himself to Avrohom.  I also saw the Orach Chaim on Avrohom going down to Egypt.   I saw beautiful Torah from Rabbi Riskin.

This is from Anshei Sholem:

We regret to inform you of the passing of Debra Tillinger, sister of Sara Wolkenfeld. (My cousin’s daughter, Amy Gross-Tarnor,  went to school with Sara Wolkenfeld through high school and college at Penn.  The funeral will take place this Monday, at 11 AM EST at Gutteran & Musicant Funeral Home (402 Park Street in Hackensack, NJ), followed by burial at Beth El Cemetery (735 Forest Avenue in Paramus, NJ).

Shiva will be observed at the Wolkenfeld home in Chicago (745 W. Buckingham Place) Wednesday 4:00 – 8:00 PM (Mincha/Ma’ariv at 4:20 PM); Thursday 9:00 – 11:00 AM & 4:00 – 8:00 PM (Mincha/Ma’ariv at 4:20 PM); and Friday 9:00 – 11:00 AM.

My Vort I want to take from this week’s Sedra.

In this week’s Parsha the Torah says in Verse 17:20:

וּֽלְיִשְׁמָעֵאל֮ שְׁמַעְתִּ֒יךָ֒ הִנֵּ֣ה ׀ בֵּרַ֣כְתִּי אֹת֗וֹ וְהִפְרֵיתִ֥י אֹת֛וֹ וְהִרְבֵּיתִ֥י אֹת֖וֹ בִּמְאֹ֣ד מְאֹ֑ד שְׁנֵים־עָשָׂ֤ר נְשִׂיאִם֙ יוֹלִ֔יד וּנְתַתִּ֖יו לְג֥וֹי גָּדֽוֹל׃

And in Verses 17:24 – 17:26

וְאַ֨בְרָהָ֔ם בֶּן־תִּשְׁעִ֥ים וָתֵ֖שַׁע שָׁנָ֑ה בְּהִמֹּל֖וֹ בְּשַׂ֥ר עׇרְלָתֽוֹ׃

וְיִשְׁמָעֵ֣אל בְּנ֔וֹ בֶּן־שְׁלֹ֥שׁ עֶשְׂרֵ֖ה שָׁנָ֑ה בְּהִ֨מֹּל֔וֹ אֵ֖ת בְּשַׂ֥ר עׇרְלָתֽוֹ׃

בְּעֶ֙צֶם֙ הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֔ה נִמּ֖וֹל אַבְרָהָ֑ם וְיִשְׁמָעֵ֖אל בְּנֽוֹ׃

Rashi does not say anything on Verse 20 and is rather disparaging that Yishmael’s princes will amount to nothing.  We do know that the descendents of Yishmael will be a thorn in Israel’s side.  I do  not know if Avrohom knew this but in regards to Yishmael,  Avrohom in Verse 20 is given a blessing for Yishmael that Yishmael will have a large family, will have 12 princes and be a great nation.   If Hashem is giving Yishmael a blessing because Hashem listened to Avorhom it has to be good.  The Or Hachaim explains this beautifully.

ולישמעאל שמעתיך וגו’. הכונה להיות שאברהם לא התפלל על ישמעאל אלא לצד שהוא לבדו זרעו מה שאין כן אחר שנתן לו ה’ זרע משרה אז לא יבקש עוד על ישמעאל לזה אמר לו הקב”ה ולישמעאל שמעתיך פי’ קבלתי דבריך והוא על דרך אומרם ז”ל (מכות יא.) קללת חכם אפילו על תנאי מתקיימת ומרובה מדה טובה ממדת וכו’ ולפי מה שפירשתי שתפלת אברהם על ישמעאל היתה שיהיה צדיק רמז לו ה’ שיחזור בתשובה כאומרו הנה ברכתי אותו שיחזור בתשובה שהברכה הוא שיהיה נכלל בברוך וברוך הוא מקור הקדושה. ואמר לשון עבר ברכתי וגו’ הוא מה שרמז באומרו (טו) תקבר בשיבה טובה, וכן היה כאומרם ז”ל (ב”ר 59:7) שעשה תשובה:

Look at Artscroll’s translation on שהברכה הוא שיהיה נכלל בברוך וברוך הוא מקור הקדושה.  

The Torah tells us twice that Yishmael was circumcised, even telling us that it was on his Bar Mitzvah day.  Looking at this Pasuk and projecting what a father feels when his son puts on Tefillin at his bar Mitzvah and is called up to theTorah, Avrohom must have felt great pride in his son and rejoiced.  Avrohom’s joy was complete.  This Is the image that Avrohom had of his son Yismael always, the image of Yishmael willingly going through a painful circumcision at the request of Hashem.   

Every Pasuk in the Torah is be interpreted in 3D and in “living color”.

We know that Avrohom loved Yishmael.  He never gave up on him.  I heard a speech on this from Rabbi Zecharya Wallerstein, ZL, who mentioned a magnificent Midrash Tanchuma, which I subsequently saw, that Avrohom went to visit Yishmael twice.   This love from Avrohom was felt by Yishmael and was one of the catalysts bringing Yishmael back to Avodas Hashem.  The Torah testifies (per Rashi) to us twice; once when Avrohom died and a second time when Yishmael himself died that Yishmael was a Tzadick.  Not only that but  Avrohom never gave up  on Yismael.  Perhaps he became a student of Yitzchok in the later part of their lives. Not only that but in  this week’s sedra which was during the Bris Bein Habesarim the Pasuk 15:15 says:

 Explains Rashi – וְאַתָּ֛ה תָּב֥וֹא אֶל־אֲבֹתֶ֖יךָ בְּשָׁל֑וֹם תִּקָּבֵ֖ר בְּשֵׂיבָ֥ה טוֹבָֽה׃
.תקבר בשיבה טובה. בִּשְּׂרוֹ שֶׁיַּעֲשֶׂה יִשְׁמָעֵאל תְּשׁוּבָה בְּיָמָיו,

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks TZL explains that after Sarah’s death, Yitzchok went and brought Hagar back.  Not only did he bring Hagar back but he brought Yishmael back. 

Based on a Vort I said that Yismael not only did Tshuva and was a Tzadick,  but during his lifetime, his influence impacted his  entire family and they were likewise good people.

To answer the question that Yishmael descendents were destructive to the Jews, all I can answer is what Hashem told Chizkiyahu when Chizkiyahu prophesied that his son would be very evil and bring idol worship to Yehuda.  Chizkiyahu refused to have children.  Hashem told Chiziyahu, you do what you have to do, do not worry about heavenly matters.  

Perhaps this can be a hopeful sign that ultimately the children of Yishmael will again become partners with the Jewish people to bring good into this world.


September 17, 2022 – Shabbos Parshas Ki Savo

I was to be in Baltimore for Rabbi Jonathan Gross’s daughter’s Bas Mitzvah Shabbos, however on Thursday we received a call from Shoshana to go down to Florida and spend a week with them.  Hashem rewarded me with the following Torah after the picture.

September 18, 2022 at the Bagel Store in Boca Raton.  Serka and I with Shoshana and the grandkids.

Torah from Shabbos:Devarim 26:14 and 15:לֹא־אָכַ֨לְתִּי בְאֹנִ֜י מִמֶּ֗נּוּ וְלֹא־בִעַ֤רְתִּי מִמֶּ֙נּוּ֙ בְּטָמֵ֔א וְלֹא־נָתַ֥תִּי מִמֶּ֖נּוּ לְמֵ֑ת שָׁמַ֗עְתִּי בְּקוֹל֙ יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהָ֔י עָשִׂ֕יתִי כְּכֹ֖ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר צִוִּיתָֽנִי׃ *. I have not eaten it while in mourning, I have not cleared out any of it while I was impure, and I have not deposited any of it with the dead. I have obeyed my God יהוה; I have done just as You commanded me.Rashi quotes the Sefrei 303:18:עשיתי ככל אשר צויתני. שָׂמַחְתִּי וְשִׂמַּחְתִּי בוֹ (ספרי303:18) ; (מעש”ש פ”ה 12) : — I have myself rejoiced and made others rejoice by itVerse 26:15הַשְׁקִ֩יפָה֩ מִמְּע֨וֹן קׇדְשְׁךָ֜ מִן־הַשָּׁמַ֗יִם וּבָרֵ֤ךְ אֶֽת־עַמְּךָ֙ אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְאֵת֙ הָאֲדָמָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר נָתַ֖תָּה לָ֑נוּ כַּאֲשֶׁ֤ר נִשְׁבַּ֙עְתָּ֙ לַאֲבֹתֵ֔ינוּ אֶ֛רֶץ זָבַ֥ת חָלָ֖ב וּדְבָֽשׁ׃ {ס} Look down from Your holy abode, from heaven, and bless Your people Israel and the soil You have given us, a land flowing with milk and honey, as You swore to our fathers.” Rashi on this verse also quotes the Sefrei and adds two verses from בְּחֻקֹּתַ֖י: Verses 26:3 and 264:השקיפה ממעון קדשך. עָשִׂינוּ מַה שֶּׁגָּזַרְתָּ עָלֵינוּ, עֲשֵׂה אַתָּה מַה שֶּׁעָלֶיךָ לַעֲשׂוֹת (ספרי), שֶׁאָמַרְתָּ (ויקרא כ”ו) “אִם בְּחֻקֹּתַי תֵּלֵכוּ … וְנָתַתִּי גִשְׁמֵיכֶם בְּעִתָּם”: “We have done what You have laid upon us, do Thou now what has upon Thee to do, because Thou hast said, (Leviticus 26:3, 4) If you walk in My ordinances … Then I will give you rain in its season etcBoth Rashi’s on Verses 14 and 15 are from the Sefrei, while in Verse 15 Rashi adds שֶׁאָמַרְתָּ (ויקרא כ”ו) “אִם בְּחֻקֹּתַי תֵּלֵכוּ … וְנָתַתִּי גִשְׁמֵיכֶם בְּעִתָּם”: The Sefrie on Verse 14 of I rejoiced and nade other rejoice by it seems not to be in accordance with the plain meaning of the verse. Rashi’s explanation from the Sefrei in Verse 14 that the words שָׁמַ֗עְתִּי בְּקוֹל֙ יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהָ֔י עָשִׂ֕יתִי כְּכֹ֖ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר צִוִּיתָֽנִי׃ not in the normal sense of obeying God’s commandments, but it means that when I observed God’s commandments I rejoiced and others rejoiced with me. In the next Pasuk Rashi explains that now Hashem has to reciprocate. for us because of our joy. Rashi also bring down the Pasuk in Vechoksasi אִם בְּחֻקֹּתַי תֵּלֵכוּ … וְנָתַתִּי גִשְׁמֵיכֶם בְּעִתָּם”: Why does Rashi bring down this Pasuk? We understand naturally what a Bracha means for us. Is Rashi telling us that it is the same Bracha as expressed in VaYikra verse 26:4 – 10? It seems more than that. Rashi is saying that there is a parallel in Bechukosei. It we keep the statues, which Rashi translates as ( שֶׁתִּהְיוּ עֲמֵלִים בַּתּוֹרָה (ספרא, and the commandments then Hashem will give us a Bracha which starts from verse 4 and goes through Verse 10; God will give us rain in its proper time and all the other Brachos listed in Bechukosai. Interesting that both the Rashi her and the Rashi in BHechukosia are Sefreis.Rashi is drawing a parallel between Dvorim 26 Verses 14 and 15 and Bechukosai 26 Verse 3 – 10? What is the parallel?My answer is that this supports the Torah I said on אִם בְּחֻקֹּתַי תֵּלֵכוּ. I combined Rashi on VaYikra 26:3, which says that “if we are עֲמֵלִים בַּתּוֹרָה – diligent in Torah study” with the Ibn Ezra’s one word on Verse 6 on וְנָתַתִּ֤י שָׁלוֹם֙ בָּאָ֔רֶץ. The Ibn Ezra says “ ונתתי שלום בארץ. ביניכם” . What is this internal peace? How is this done? Only through all the Jewish people learning and having עֲמֵלִים בַּתּוֹרָה , will there be internal peace. Everyone’s diligent study of Torah Is true. If I have an answer for the Gadol hador of a Pesht in the Gemara, I am correct if what I said fits into the Pshat. Once we are עֲמֵלִים בַּתּוֹרָה can we have internal peace. Talking about politics, theology, Halacha, Zionism, Kippa Seruga yes or no, all leads to fighting that is divisive. We all have different viewpoints. Fighting בּמלחמתה של תורה where we are fighting to ascertain the truth of God’s Torah will bring internal peace. We can have a connection between all the various groups. This is what Rashi is saying here in our Pasuk. Just like doing God’s commandments with joy and a joy that permeates and gives others joy brings peace among people in their physical and emotional needs, so to the thoughts expressed in Behukosai in terms of spiritual needs. If the entire nation are עֲמֵלִים בַּתּוֹרָה in the מלחמתה של תורה there will be internal peace. Story of the Chiddushei Harim and the Lssa Riv – the Nessivos. When I was in Brisk Yeshiva in Chicago as a student in the 1970s, I was told that after Purim the learning in Israel gets weak because everyone is thinking about Pesach, going home, etc. I told my study partner, wouldn’t it be great if every Rosh Yeshiva gave Shiur in a Yshevia different from his own Yeshiva. Reb Aaron Lichtenstein would give Shiur in Ponovitch, the Ponovitcher Rosh Yeshiva would give Shiur in bar Elon University, the Rosh Yeshivas of the Hesder Yeshivas in Chevron, Mir etc., we would have a different Israel today.

September 23, 2022 – 27 Elul 5782: Shabbos Parshas Netzvim

Shabbos Parshas Netzvim

Torah for Rosh Hashanah 2022

Medresh Moshe 1906, Page 131 – Simanim

I hope I captured in my translation of this Maamor and in my speech the essence of my great Uncle, Moshe Mordechai Morgenstern, known as the Pilaver Rebbe.

וְאָמַר רַבִּי יִצְחָק: . . . אֶלָּא: לָמָּה תּוֹקְעִין וּמְרִיעִין כְּשֶׁהֵן יוֹשְׁבִיןוְת וֹקְעִין וּמְרִיעִין כְּשֶׁהֵן עוֹמְדִין כְּדֵי לְעַרְבֵּב הַשָּׂטָן.

Friday night we ate by the Glenners and had a great Shabbos meal.  They always put out a great spread.  

Shabbos morning the first time since my stroke back in late June, I walked to Anshei Shalom and davened.  Spoke to Mateo Aceves, who told me his wife is just about due.  She had a baby boy on Wednesday, September 29th, 2022.  Rabbi Wolkenfled’s speech was about the word “Hayom” mentioned twenty times in this week’s Sedra.    I then walked to Chabad.  The Kiddush was excellent.  Marcel’s daughter recently had a baby girl and he sponsored the Kiddush.  There were ten people at the Shiur; Paul, Avigail, Tamar, Ray, Herb, Peggy and Sid, Mia, Lisa and myself.   I spoke out the below Medresh Moshe.  I also said a new translation of the words   לְעַרְבֵּב הַשָּׂטָן used in Talmud Rosh Hashana 16B different than the plain meaning.  Plain meaning is to confuse the Satan; however, Rashi seems to say to silence, and I want to translate to sweeten based on the Midrash Moshe, similar to the word  והערב  in Bircas Hatorah.

After the speech I went to my son’s apartment and slept.  Went for Maariv to Anshei Shalom.  After Shabbos  I walked home.  At 4100 N. Clark, a car stopped and asked if everything was okay.  I asked to use his phone and asked if he could drive me home.  He did and we had a  number of delightful conversations.  We talked about Torah, Gettysburg, America, his parents and his life.  His name is Jan – John W. Dressel.  He is a Navy contractor and specializes in asbestos removal.  Overall a very pleasant Shabbos.

The below Gemora in Horayos 12A brings down three related ideas about סימנים – omens :

1) Braissa that says kings are anointed only by a spring.  A spring is always flowing and it is an omen that the king’s monarchy should endure.  Proof is a Pasuk in Kings 1 when Dovid instructed his son Shlomo to be anointed king.

2) Rav Ami – talks about a test to see if one will be successful

3) Abaya who says we eat certains types of specific foods for us to have a good omen, 

The Gemora in Horayos from Sefaria:

ת”ר אין מושחים את המלכים אלא על המעיין כדי שתמשך מלכותם שנא’ (מלכים א א, לג) ויאמר המלך להם קחו עמכם את עבדי אדוניכם [וגו’] והורדתם אותו אל גחון The Sages taught: One anoints the kings only upon a spring, as an omen, so that their kingdom will continue like a spring, as it is stated with regard to the coronation of Solomon before the death of David: “And the king said unto them: Take with you the servants of your lord, and let Solomon my son ride upon my own mule, and bring him down to Gihon. And let Tzadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him there king over Israel and sound the shofar and say: Long live King Solomon” (I Kings 1:33–34).

אמר רבי אמי האי מאן דבעי לידע אי מסיק שתיה אי לא ניתלי שרגא בעשרה יומי דבין ראש השנה ליום הכפורים בביתא דלא נשיב זיקא אי משיך נהוריה נידע דמסיק שתיה § Apropos good omens, the Gemara cites a statement that 

Rabbi Ami said: This person who seeks to know if he will complete his year or if he will not, i.e., whether or not he will remain alive in the coming year, let him light a lamp, during the ten days that are between Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur, in a house in which wind does not blow. If its light continues to burn, he knows that he will complete his year.

ומאן דבעי למיעבד בעיסקא ובעי למידע אי מצלח אי לא מצלח לירבי תרנגולא אי שמין ושפר מצלח And one who seeks to conduct a business venture and wishes to know if he will succeed or if he will not succeed, let him raise a rooster. If the rooster grows fat and healthy, he will succeed.

האי מאן דבעי למיפק [לאורחא] ובעי למידע אי חזר ואתי לביתא אי לא ניקום בביתא דחברא אי חזי בבואה דבבואה לידע דהדר ואתי לביתא ולאו מלתא היא דלמא חלשא דעתיה ומיתרע מזליה אמר אביי השתא דאמרת סימנא מילתא היא [לעולם] יהא רגיל למיחזי בריש שתא קרא ורוביא כרתי וסילקא ותמרי One who seeks to embark on a journey and wishes to know if he will return and come to his home or if he will not, let him go to a dark [daḥavara] house. If he sees the shadow of a shadow he shall know that he will return and come home. The Sages reject this: This omen is not a significant matter. Perhaps he will be disheartened if the omen fails to appear, and his fortune will suffer and it is this that causes him to fail. 

אמר אביי השתא דאמרת סימנא מילתא היא [לעולם] יהא רגיל למיחזי בריש שתא קרא ורוביא כרתי וסילקא ותמרי

Abaye said: Now that you said that an omen is a significant matter, a person should always be accustomed to seeing these on Rosh HaShana: Squash, and fenugreek, leeks, and chard, and dates, as each of these grows quickly and serves as a positive omen for one’s actions during the coming year.

Shulchan Aruch  Siman 583 – דברים שנוהגים לאכול בליל ר”ה ובו ב”ס:

יהא אדם רגיל לאכול בראש השנה רוביא דהיינו תלתן כרתי סילקא תמרי קרא וכשיאכל רוביא יאמר יהי רצון שירבו זכיותינו כרתי יכרתו שונאינו סלקא יסתלקו אויבינו תמרי יתמו שונאינו קרא יקרע גזר דיננו ויקראו לפניך זכיותינו: הגה ויש נוהגין לאכול תפוח מתוק בדבש (טור) ואומרים תתחדש עלינו שנה מתוקה (אבודרהם) וכן נוהגין ויש אוכלים רימונים ואומרים נרבה זכיות כרמון ונוהגין לאכול בשר שמן וכל מיני מתיקה: (מרדכי דיומא): (1) One should eat beans, leeks, beets, dates, and pumpkin. And as one eats the beans (rubiya), they say: God, may our merits increase (yirbu)! Eating leeks (karti), they say: God, may our enemies be wiped out (yekartu)! Eating dates (tamri), say: God, may our enemies disappear (yetamu)! Eating pumpkin (kra), say: God, may our judgement be ripped up (yikra) and may our merits be called out (yikrau) before You! RAMA: Some have a custom of eating a sweet apple in honey, and saying: May a sweet year be renewed on us! This is what we do. Some eat pomegranates, and say: may our merits be as many as pomegranate seeds! And we are accustomed to eat fatty meat and all sorts of sweets.

אוכלים ראש כבש לומר נהיה לראש ולא לזנב וזכר לאילו של יצחק: הגה יש מדקדקים שלא לאכול אגוזים שאגוז בגימטריא חט ועוד שהן מרבים כיחה וניעה ומבטלים התפלה (מהרי”ל) והולכין אל הנהר לומר פסוק ותשליך במצולות ים כל חטאתינו וגומר (מנהגים) וגם נוהגים שלא לישן ביום ראש השנה (ירושלמי) ומנהג נכון הוא: Eat a head of a lamb saying: Let us be as a head and not a tail. It is also a remembrance of the ram of Isaac. Rema: There are those who are careful not to eat nuts, as the word “egoz” in gematriah [is equal to the value of] chet (sin). They also cause a lot of excess saliva and phloem and cause abrogation of prayers. They also go to a river and say the verse: And Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19). There are also those who do not sleep during Rosh Hashana during the day, and this is the correct thing to do.

The Medresh Moshe asks:

#1 – It seems that Abayah is basing his law on Reb Ami.  However, Reb Ami’s case is different because his cases are a test which if the test is successful, he will be successful in his endeavor.  How can Abayeh prove his point from Reb Ami.  How is eating Rubya – fenugreek a good sign that our merits should increase or our enemies should be destroyed.  There is no test.

The Drisha on Orach Chaim 583:

סימנא מילתא היא ק”ק מאי ענין סימנא דאביי לסימנא דרבה דבשלמא סימנא דרבה י”ל כיון שרואה שהנר דולק יפה והתרנגול משמן שפיר יכול לידע שהש”י הסכים עמו להיות לו לסימן טוב אבל בהאי דאכל כרתי ואתרוגא ואינך מאי סימנא מילתא שייך לומר ביה וי”ל דלאו לדמות אתא אביי אלא ה”ק השתא דאמרת סימנא מילתא בעלמא היא ולית ביה משום ניחוש א”כ בהאי נמי לית ביה משום ניחוש ומותר וכ”פ בתשובת הגאונים והביא הג”ה במנהגים ז”ל ומנהג לאכול מתיקה ואין בוה משום ניחוש מרדכי ריש יומא עכ”ל: 

#2 – Reb Ami’s statement was rejected by the Gemora so how can Abayeh use Reb Ami for his Halacha.

#3 – Why didn’t Abayah bring his proof from a Mishna in Chulin 83A:

 בארבעה פרקים בשנה המוכר בהמה לחבירו צריך להודיעו אמה מכרתי לשחוט בתה מכרתי לשחוט ואלו הן ערב יום טוב האחרון של חג וערב יום טוב הראשון של פסח וערב עצרת וערב ראש השנה וכדברי רבי יוסי הגלילי אף ערב יום הכפורים בגליל

ערב יו”ט האחרון של חג – הא דלא נקט (יום) הראשון של חג לפי שהם טרודים במצות לולב וסוכה ואין להם פנאי להרבות בסעודות וי”מ דבהנך ארבעה פרקים טעמא רבה אית בהו יו”ט האחרון של חג לפי שהוא זמן בפ”ע וחלוק משלפניו תקנו להרבות בסעודה משא”כ בשביעי של פסח וגם הקרבנות שבשמיני היו בשביל ישראל וכל החג היו מקריבין נגד העובדי כוכבים וערב פסח לפי שהוא יום גאולה ויציאה לחירות ועצרת כדאמרינן בפרק אלו דברים (פסחים דף סח:) הכל מודים בעצרת דבעינן נמי לכם ור”ה מפני שהוא תחלת השנה מרבים בסעודה לעשות סימן יפה וכמה עניני’ עושים בו לסימן יפה כדאמר במסכת הוריות (דף יב.) וכריתות (דף ה:):

The Medresh Moshe answers the three questions:

Abayah is really referring back to the Braissa about kings being anointed by a stream.  The flow of the Gemora is as follows:

We have the Braissa that Simanim are effective based on a  Pasuk in Kings I verses 1:33 and 1:34.  Comes along Reb Ami and says this type of sign also works.  Even though Reb Ami is pushed off, we see from Reb Ami that signs do work from the fact that Dovid said to take Shlomo down to the Gichon.  The Medresh Moshe continues that Abayah says his thought based on our Braissa.  He used this Brasisa of kings over the Mishna in Chulin 83A because our Braissa is based on a Pasuk vs. using the Mishan is Culin 83A.

In fact the Ein Yakov says directly that Abayeh is referring to the Braissa and not Reb Ami.

The Medresh Moshe continues – why do we need omens and signs. It says תָּמִ֣ים תִּֽהְיֶ֔ה עִ֖ם יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶֽיךָ׃

“You must be wholehearted with your God יהוה”  The Haga in the Shulchan Aruch says in Chapter 664- Siman 1

כתבו הראשונים ז”ל שיש סימן בצל הלבנה בליל הו”ר מה שיקרה לו או לקרוביו באותה השנה ויש מי שכתב שאין לדקדק בזה כדי שלא ליתרע מזליה גם כי רבים אינם מבינים הענין על בוריו ויותר טוב להיות תמים ולא לחקור עתידות כנ”ל:

The Merdresh Moshe answers by asking a question –

What does anointing kings by a stream have to do with an enduring monarchy? The Torah says how to have a long reign in D’varim Verse 17:19-20 and it is not annoying the King by a stream.

וְהָיְתָ֣ה עִמּ֔וֹ וְקָ֥רָא ב֖וֹ כׇּל־יְמֵ֣י חַיָּ֑יו לְמַ֣עַן יִלְמַ֗ד לְיִרְאָה֙ אֶת־יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהָ֔יו לִ֠שְׁמֹ֠ר אֶֽת־כׇּל־דִּבְרֵ֞י הַתּוֹרָ֥ה הַזֹּ֛את וְאֶת־הַחֻקִּ֥ים הָאֵ֖לֶּה לַעֲשֹׂתָֽם׃ לְבִלְתִּ֤י רוּם־לְבָבוֹ֙ מֵֽאֶחָ֔יו וּלְבִלְתִּ֛י ס֥וּר מִן־הַמִּצְוָ֖ה יָמִ֣ין וּשְׂמֹ֑אול לְמַ֩עַן֩ יַאֲרִ֨יךְ יָמִ֧ים עַל־מַמְלַכְתּ֛וֹ ה֥וּא וּבָנָ֖יו בְּקֶ֥רֶב יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃         

The Medresh Mordechai answers that correct, going to stream by itself is meaningless.  However, Dovid was attempting to “היינו כדי להיות נסמן בּשלמה שצריך מלכותו להמשיך” to reinforce in Shlomo that his kingdom must endure and how does the future king do this? By being faithful to God.   Lessons are more impactful if they are delivered with symbolism.

Similarly this is the purpose of eating the simanim, the special foods on the night of Rosh Hashanah. It it is to awaken in us and  inscribe in our hearts that when we pray for God’s mercy the next day  that we ask in the strongest way possible that we have sufficient merits to give us what we need in life, that harsh decrees against us should be annulled,and we defeat our enemies.   This is a preparation for our davening, at night prior to blowing the Shofar.  As the Pasukim say:

וְהָיָ֥ה טֶֽרֶם־יִקְרָ֖אוּ וַאֲנִ֣י אֶעֱנֶ֑ה ע֛וֹד הֵ֥ם מְדַבְּרִ֖ים וַאֲנִ֥י אֶשְׁמָֽע׃ Before they pray, I will answer;

While they are still speaking, I will respond.

תַּאֲוַ֬ת עֲנָוִ֣ים שָׁמַ֣עְתָּ יְהֹוָ֑ה תָּכִ֥ין לִ֝בָּ֗ם תַּקְשִׁ֥יב אׇזְנֶֽךָ׃ You will listen to the entreaty of the lowly, O LORD,

You will make their hearts firm;  You will incline Your ear.

We can further explain this based on a Gemora in Rosh Hashanah 16B;

וְאָמַר רַבִּי יִצְחָק: . . . אֶלָּא: לָמָּה תּוֹקְעִין וּמְרִיעִין כְּשֶׁהֵן יוֹשְׁבִיןוְת וֹקְעִין וּמְרִיעִין כְּשֶׁהֵן עוֹמְדִין ,

 Rather, Rabbi Yitzḥak asked about the common practice in Jewish communities, which is not explicitly stated in the Torah: Why does one sound a long, continuous shofar blast [tekia] and then a staccato series of shofar blasts [terua] while the congregation is still sitting before the silent prayer,and then sound again a tekia and a terua while they are standing in the Amida prayer?

The Gemora answers — כְּדֵי לְעַרְבֵּב הַשָּׂטָן.  He answers: In order to confuse Satan, for this double blowing of the shofar demonstrates Israel’s love for the mitzva, and this will confuse Satan when he brings his accusations against Israel before the heavenly court, and the Jewish people will receive a favorable judgment.

Rashi says – כדי לערבב – שלא ישטין כשישמע ישראל מחבבין את המצות מסתתמין דבריו:

Rashi doesn’t say confuse, but rather silence Satan. When Satan sees that the Jews love Mitzvos, Satan is silenced.  Both Artscroll and Seferai translate the word  לערבב to confuse.  However Rashi does not use the word that Satan is confused, but rather Satan is silenced.  Granted the word עַרְבֵּב normally means to confuse, however, Rashi does not seem to be saying confuse.  Rather it seems that Rashi is saying the Satan sees that Jews love the commandments of God and is silenced.  You can say that rashi means that Satan thnks the Jews are sinful people and when he sees the Jews love Mitzvos he is confused and says to himself, these are not sinful people and is thus silenced.

However, Rashi says nothing about confusing, rather the word he uses is silenced,  

Asks the Medresh Moshe – we should do this by all commandments, do it twice,  The answer is since Rosh Hashanah is the judgment day, it is important we do the Mitzvah twice to show our love for the Mitzvos.  Since during Musef we ask Hashem to remember us for good we are afraid that Satan will prosecute us.  Therefore beforehand we blow Shofar sitting down, which is not the main time to blow Shofar and during this time we do not pray but are silent, Satan cannot prosecute. And based on the verse in Psalms 18:4    מְ֭הֻלָּל אֶקְרָ֣א יְהֹוָ֑ה וּמִן־אֹ֝יְבַ֗י אִוָּשֵֽׁעַ׃ .All praise! I called on the LORD-d  and was delivered from my enemies.  Through praising God Satan cannot prosecute so therefore we fist blow Shofer sitting where we are not davening, the blowing of Shofar without daening, we are saying praises to hashem and the Saan agrees with this sounding of the Shofer, then when we actually blow Shofar in the davening the Satan again thinks we are praising Hashem. However, now we are davening and Satan does not prosecute us because he is thinking we are only praising Hashem and according to Rashi the satan is silenced.

I think my great uncle is saying more than this.  I think the word לערבב   is to be translated like  והערב

In Birchas Hatorah and it means to sweeten.  Meaning Satan actually answers Amen because he thinks we are saying praises to Hashem and he affirms our prayers, so his words are sweetened.  Look at the last 5 sentences of this Maamor in the Medresh Moshe.

To conclude, that on Rosh Hashanah we  include our desires in praise of God, that all the prosecuting angels by their very nature being angels have to agree with the praises of the Jewish people since these are not requests from God. 

August 10 – 21, 2022 Trip to Toronto

We had a beautiful 11 day trip to Toronto

People I met:

Rabbi Chaim Metzger

Rabbi Lescher of the BAYT

Rabbi Yitzchok Yagod

David Max Spiegel

Dr. Barry Levi

Allen and Ellen Siegel

David Woolf

Mr. Shiel – cousin to Gary Bajtner

Allen and Josh Gutterman and family

August Belmont and Naomi Maimon

Birnbaum and Kushner

Professor Sharon Green and Cantor Jonathan Green

Rabbi Sholom Gold – read his book, Touching History

Wednesday August 10, 2022

We drove to Toronto and arrived at 11:30 PM.  Serka drove for 7 of the 10 hours.  We ended up not taking a hotel room in Port Huron at 8:00 PM – we drove on.

Thursday August 11, 2022

Serka went to purchase 50 muffins from Amazing Muffins.   After Maariv, I was speaking to Rabbi Chaim Metzger about the dating issue with 2 Kings 18.  He told me that Rabbi Alex Israel discusses it in his book which is available online on the Gush Etzion website.  Rabbi Metzger and his wife are making Aliyah in two weeks.  His wife is a daughter of Moshe Lichtman, who translates Seforim into English.  He translated Eim HaBanim Semeicha. I recently obtained a copy of his book.  I was leafing through it and I was reading tragedy.  He is in Hungary in 1943, with the Nazi menace growing daily, wanting to talk about the need to go to Israel and the people just shutting him down.

Eim HaBanim Semeicha was written by Rabbi Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal, and published in 1943 in Budapest, Hungary.[2] The title is taken from Psalms and means “A Joyous Mother of Children”.

Teichtal grew up as a staunch anti-Zionist Chasid of the Munkatsher Rebbe. However, during the Holocaust, Rabbi Teichtal changed his position from the one he espoused in his youth. The physical product of that introspection is the book, Eim HaBanim Semeicha, in which he specifically retracts his previous viewpoints, and argues that the true redemption can only come if the Jewish people unite and rebuild the land of Israel. Many of his coreligionists viewed the book with skepticism, some going so far as to ban Rabbi Teichtal from their synagogues.

In the book, Rabbi Teichtal strongly criticizes the Haredim for not supporting the settlement of the Land of Israel. When it was written, it was a scathing criticism of the Jewish Orthodox establishment, and Agudat Israel in particular.

He writes:

It is clear that he who prepares prior to the Sabbath will eat on the Sabbath (Avodah Zarah, 3a), and since the Haredim did not toil, they have absolutely no influence in the Land (of Israel). Those who toil and build have the influence, and they are the masters of the Land. It is, therefore, no wonder that they are in control… Now, what will the Haredim say? I do not know if they will ever be able to vindicate themselves before the heavenly court for not participating in the movement to rebuild the Land. (p. 23)

Friday August 12, 2022

Shabbos Nachamu.  Friday night davened at the Conservatory.  It was outside.  Just beautiful.

August 13, 2022 Shabbos Parshas Ve’eschanan and Shabbos Nachamu

Davened at the BAYT.   Rabbi Korobkin’s speech was okay, not his normal dynamic speech.

Went back at 7:30 PM for the Pirkei Avos Shiur and for Mincha.

At Shalosh Suedas Rabbi Yitzchok Yagod spoke.  He was excellent.  Rabbi Yagod is Rabbi in three small communities:  Rabbi of Congregation Tiferes Israel, Moncton, NB, Canada;  Congregation Beth Avraham of Bethlehem, PA and  Congregation  Beth Avrohom of Bangor, Maine

 He is the founder and head of the Vaad HaKashrus of East Canada and Maine.  

He is in Toronto because his wife is sitting Shiva for her mother, Mrs. Sylvia Spiegel.  About 18 months ago, Sylvia Spiegel got Parkinsons, so her daughter moved from the east coast into her apartment to take care of her mother.   Syliva Spiegel was just shy of her 97th birthday when she passed away. Sylvia Spiegel’s sister was Gilda Spiegel-Nussbaum.  Gilda was best friends with my mother-in-law Blanche Janowski. David (Max) Spiegel is her son and is sitting Shiva.  He was my roommate in the Ner Israel Yeshiva in 1973 with Reb Yosef Spiro. The oldest brother, Dr. Shmuel Spiegel, is a radiologist and dated Serka.  It was just one date.  My wife could have been married to a doctor.

Sunday August 14, 2022

I walked into the Froom wedding at the BAYT and met my nephew.

Tuesday August 16, 2022

I was davening at the Conservatory and afterwards I was talking to David Woolf.  I also mentioned to him the dating issues of Nach.   He directed me to Dr. Barry Levy.

David Woolf gave me his book, newly publoshed:

Wednesday August 17, 2022

At 11:00 AM I met with Dr. Barry Levy.  Dr. Barry Levy was a professor at McGill University, Montreal, CA in Jewish studies,  He had a stroke 10 years ago and his left side has been impacted.  I asked him my question about Chizkiyahu and he told me that there is no clear answer.  I had a delightful conversation with him about Jewish history.  Wow.  I am in awe of him.  He has a collection of Mikraos Gedolos going back hundreds of years and is writing a book on the historical progression of the Mikraos Gedolos on Chumach.  He had finished his manuscript and the publisher, Tzvi Mauer of Urim Publications wanted a final chapter discussing, ‘What does the history of the Mikraos Gedolos mean to us today?’  He will send a copy of his final chapter to me.


B. Barry Levy

Barry Levy

Emeritus Professor

Areas of Interest – Bible and the History of Jewish Interpretation of the Bible

Education-   B.A., M.A., BRE (Yeshiva University), Ph.D. (New York University)


Refereed books

LEVY, B. Barry. Jewish Masters of the Sacred Page (Jerusalem: Urim Publishers, forthcoming).

LEVY, B. Barry. Fixing God’s Torah: The Accuracy of the Hebrew Bible text in Jewish Law. Oxford University Press, 2001.

LEVY, B. Barry. Rabbinic Bible Interpretation after the Holocaust. Strange Fire: Reading the Bible After The Holocaust, edited by T. Linafelt, New York University and Sheffield Academic Press, May 2000.


Refereed journal articles

LEVY, B. Barry. Jewish, Christian and Muslim Responses to the Hebrew Bible. ARC, 27, 1999, pp. 161-205.

Dictionary entries, book reviews, commentaries

LEVY, B. Barry. Review: The Bible As It Was, by James Kugel, ARC, 27, 1999, pp. 220-221.

LEVY, B. Barry. Review: The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Origins of the Bible, Reviews in Religion and Theology, 7, 2000, pp. 118-119.

LEVY, B. Commentary: Decoding the Torah’s secrets: Why can we not accept what the text actually says? Canadian Jewish News, 1-2, 1998.

LEVY, B. Review: The context of scripture. Volume I: Canonical compositions from the Biblical World, edited by William Hallo, Arc, vol. 26, 1998, pp. 147-149.

LEVY, B. Review: Magic and divination in ancient Palestine and Syria, by Ann Jeffers, Arc, vol. 26, 1998, pp. 149-151.

Scholarly Activities:

LEVY, B. Jubilee. Ottawa-Montreal Synod of United Church of Canada, May 1998.

LEVY, B. The History of Jewish Interpretation of the Bible Since the Holocaust. Thirtieth Anniversary Conference of the Department of Jewish Studies, McGill University, May 1999.

LEVY, B. The Ethics of Educational Leadership. Conference on Ethics, Faculty of Management, McGill University, May 1999.


Department and University Information

Department of Jewish Studies

Leacock Building, 7th floor

855 Sherbrooke Street West

Montreal, Quebec H3A 2T7

Tel.: 514-398-6543

Afterwards I saw Ellen Siegel and she showed me the book about Jewish Kitchner.  Kitchner is about one hour west of Toronto. Ellen Siegal is married to Allen Siegal.  Allen Sigel’s family had a major produce company in Kitchener, Ontario from the 1920s through the 1970s. Ellen’s brother is a relative to Lynn Stone-Borlat’s husband.  Aunt Rose Noble-Stone was Lynn’s mother, making her a first cousin to my wife.  Rose and Blanche are sisters.  Aunt Rose lived in the Conservatory and she would come over for Shabbos meals. Ellen told me that Lynn lives nearby. I called Lynn the next day to invite her over to our Shabbos meal.  She is having a wedding in three weeks and her husband’s father is in Hospice at Sunnybrook Hospital.

Shimon Siegel opened a fruit stall which his sons, Louis, Norman and Gerald, expanded into a thriving fruit business located at 270 William Street. Gerald Siegel used to appear on a televised cooking show to discuss fruits and vegetables. Thursday August 18, 2022

I was sitting with my mother in law and my wife in the Conservatory garden.  She received a wedding invitation to the Parshan and New wedding. The News are from Montreal. I dealt with Levi New, the older brother of the Chosen in April 2021.  anny Levy’s mother in-law passed away, Tzipporah Bas Mordechai, and he arranged to have a Minyan at the funeral and Zoomed us in. It was a bchovidik funeral thanks to Levi New. I had to report the Chesed of Levi New to the Parshans and to his father, Rabbi Moshe New. At 6:30 PM I went over to the Parshans and had them call their Mechutan, Moshe New, in Montreal..  I had to tell his father, Rabbi Moshe New about what his son did for us and I found out I had not given them a donation.  This was a sign from Hashem.  I would normally not see a wedding invitation that my mother in law would receive and only because I was sitting in the garden with her and that she had her mail brought to her that I was able to thank the New family.

I davened Mincha and Maariv at the BAYT.  I picked up the below Sefer that came out in 1981.  It was published by “Zecher Naftali”, an institution set up by  Naftali Carlebach’s son, Rabbi Eliyahu Chaim Carlbach.  Eliyahu Chaim Carelbach’s brother was Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. Rabbi Eliyahu Chaim was a huge Torah Scholar and wrote Torah for the Bobover Rebbe.  Reb Eliyahu Chaim passed away in 1995. I was fortunate to attend a wedding and Sheva Brachos of Rabbi Eliyahu Chaim Carlebach’s grandson’s wedding  right before Pesach 2021.  The boy was a Citron, whose great – great grandmother was the daughter of Eliyahu Chaim.  The Citron boy  married the daughter of Rabbi and Nechama Dina Turk.  The boy’s grandfather is Rabbi Chaim Citron who is a Rosh Yeshiva  at Lubavitch Mesivta in LA and is the Rabbi of Ahavas Chesed, a Shul in LA on LaBrea just north of Melrose.   In 2002 when we were cleaning out my father’s apartment in LA, we davened at Ahavas Chesed.  Rabbi Citron spoke Friday night and Shabbos.  Phenomenal.  Shabbos he compared the wording in Parshas Ki Tatzeh Verses 25:13-16 of the laws of proper measures and a similar Parsha in Kedoshim 19:35-36.  I remember him saying that in D’varim it says the word Toavah – abomination and not in Kedoshim.

The Choson’s father, Rabbi Naftali Citron is the Rabbi in the Carlebach Shul in the upper west side.  I watched a video he did on the Kotzker Rebbe.  Rabbi Eliyahu Chaim’s widow is still alive, Hadassah Carlebach and was a Schneerson.  She came in for the wedding and gave my family a Bracha at the Sheva Brochos.

Ki Teitzei 25:13-16

לֹֽא־יִהְיֶ֥ה לְךָ֛ בְּכִֽיסְךָ֖ אֶ֣בֶן וָאָ֑בֶן גְּדוֹלָ֖ה וּקְטַנָּֽה׃ You shall not have in your pouch alternate weights, larger and smaller.

לֹא־יִהְיֶ֥ה לְךָ֛ בְּבֵיתְךָ֖ אֵיפָ֣ה וְאֵיפָ֑ה גְּדוֹלָ֖ה וּקְטַנָּֽה׃ You shall not have in your house alternate measures, a larger and a smaller.

אֶ֣בֶן שְׁלֵמָ֤ה וָצֶ֙דֶק֙ יִֽהְיֶה־לָּ֔ךְ אֵיפָ֧ה שְׁלֵמָ֛ה וָצֶ֖דֶק יִֽהְיֶה־לָּ֑ךְ לְמַ֙עַן֙ יַאֲרִ֣יכוּ יָמֶ֔יךָ עַ֚ל הָֽאֲדָמָ֔ה אֲשֶׁר־יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ נֹתֵ֥ן לָֽךְ׃ You must have completely honest weights and completely honest measures, if you are to endure long on the soil that your God יהוה is giving you.

כִּ֧י תוֹעֲבַ֛ת יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ כׇּל־עֹ֣שֵׂה אֵ֑לֶּה כֹּ֖ל עֹ֥שֵׂה עָֽוֶל׃ {פ}

For everyone who does those things, everyone who deals dishonestly, is abhorrent to your God יהוה.

Kedoshim Verses 19:35-36

לֹא־תַעֲשׂ֥וּ עָ֖וֶל בַּמִּשְׁפָּ֑ט בַּמִּדָּ֕ה בַּמִּשְׁקָ֖ל וּבַמְּשׂוּרָֽה׃ You shall not falsify measures of length, weight, or capacity.

מֹ֧אזְנֵי צֶ֣דֶק אַבְנֵי־צֶ֗דֶק אֵ֥יפַת צֶ֛דֶק וְהִ֥ין צֶ֖דֶק יִהְיֶ֣ה לָכֶ֑ם אֲנִי֙ יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶ֔ם אֲשֶׁר־הוֹצֵ֥אתִי אֶתְכֶ֖ם מֵאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם׃ You shall have an honest balance, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin.I יהוה am your God who freed you from the land of Egypt.

Rabbi Chaim Citron, my Rebbe, and myself at the Citron-Turk wedding, April 2021.

 The below are pictures:  I showed it to Rabbi Lescher, the assistant Rov of the BAYT.

Friday, August 19, 2022

Went to Dr. Barry Levy’s unveiling for his wife, Cookie Levy, who passed away last year from cancer.   

Debbi Krakowski-Janowski’s parents:

Shabbos Parshas Eikev – August 20, 2022

Aleasha and Mordy Rothman

Ateres Mordechai – Rabbi Bitterman’s Shul

Mr. Shiel – cousin to Gary Bajtner

Josh and Allen Gutterman

August and Naomi Maimon – Belmont

Birnbaum and Kushner

Professor Sharon Green and Cantor Jonathan Green

Rabbi Sholom Gold

Friday night:

On Friday night davened in the Conservatory Minyan at their Paleg Minyan.  Ate a delicious meal at my mother-in-law’s house.  At about 9:30 PM I went to visit Aleasha and Mordy Rothman and their kids.  Hillel Janowski was there.  Had a good time.  Spoke over my Torah on Chizkiyahu.  Shimmy listened to some of it. Egg Rolls were great. Went home at about 11:15 PM.

Shabbos Morning:

At 8:45 AM I walked onto Clark Street and it was magnificent.  75 degrees and sunshine.  On the way to Shul I met Allan Fink who told me that he has never been to Boca Raton Synagogue, but listens to Rabbi Efreim Goldberg every day. I decided to daven at Ateres Mordechai, Rabbi Bitterman is the Rov.  Rabbi Bitterman is the son-in-law of Aaron Grubner, a lawyer from Toronto that has studied with my brother, Pesach, for 40 years. There were only 20 Talisim and I was a little surprised because I thought the Shul is always packed. People must be away at the cottages up North.

The Rabbi first spoke about verse 10:12:

וְעַתָּה֙ יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל מָ֚ה יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ שֹׁאֵ֖ל מֵעִמָּ֑ךְ כִּ֣י אִם־לְ֠יִרְאָ֠ה אֶת־יְהֹוָ֨ה אֱלֹהֶ֜יךָ לָלֶ֤כֶת בְּכׇל־דְּרָכָיו֙ וּלְאַהֲבָ֣ה אֹת֔וֹ וְלַֽעֲבֹד֙ אֶת־יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ בְּכׇל־לְבָבְךָ֖ וּבְכׇל־נַפְשֶֽׁךָ׃

The Gemora says that we learn from the word מָ֚ה that one must make 100 blessings every day.  What is the purpose?  Rabbi Bitterman answered, we should always say thank you Hashem and that should lead us to say thank you to everyone we meet.  Today was a beautiful day, thank you Hashem, your wife served you breakfast, thank you. We cannot be complaining and complaining nonstop.

Verse 9:24 says  מַמְרִ֥ים הֱיִיתֶ֖ם עִם־יְהֹוָ֑ה מִיּ֖וֹם דַּעְתִּ֥י אֶתְכֶֽם׃ 

As long as I have known you, you have been defiant toward יהוה.

The Ba’al Haturim says that the Pasuk begins with a Mem and ends with a Mem to say that all forty years in the desert the Jews complained.  Non Stop complaining for forty years.  What did they have to complain about, yet they did.  As human beings we have to condition ourselves to appreciate what we have and say thank you, whether to Hashem or the waiter or to our spouses, and to everyone. This is great rebuke and I decided that I will change my attitude.

Saw Jason Lapidus, the erstwhile South African and gave him a heartfelt hug. Davening was over at 11:30 AM.  I talked to the Gabbai, whose last name is Shiel.  He is about 62.  His aunt is Paula Gassel who grew up in Winnipeg and is married to Arnold Gassel. Arnold’s first wife died of cancer about 25 years ago.   Our family has known the Gassel family since the west side 90 years ago. Arnold Gassel is in the high 90s.  He is the only person in Chicago that I knew that had Bubi Sklar as a kindergarten teacher.  My mother was best friends with Arnold Gassel’s ex sister-in-law.  In fact my mother got her a job at Kemper Insurance in the 1960s.

On the walk home met Allen Guttenberg and his son Josh Guttenberg.  Two months ago Josh made a Bris that I crashed.  I actually was looking for Josh. He spoke for a women’s group about Mechitzas in Shuls which in the 1930, 1940s, and 1950s was a major dividing line between Orthodox and non Orthodox.   I told him what Rov said and my comments on it. Please see my blog post at

Then I met August Belmont and his wife Naomi, whose maiden name was Maimon.  She grew up in the Bnei Torah area and knows Abie’s and Sarah’s kids.  Belmont’s family name was Blumnekrantz, but his father came to Toronto in the 1930s and wanted to completely assimilate.  He loved the Belmont race track and its founder, August Belmont, Jr., so he changed his last name to Belmont and named his son August.

Then I met a young couple in their 20s who had one child in a stroller.  His last name is Birnbaum and she is a Kushner.  He toldme that his grandfather, Nathan Birnbaum,  was a Zionist with Herzel, etc., but became more Othordox, became disillusioned, and ultimately rejected Zionism.

From Wikepedia:

Nathan Birnbaum (Hebrew: נתן בירנבוים; pseudonyms: “Mathias Acher”, “Dr. N. Birner”, “Mathias Palme”, “Anton Skart”, “Theodor Schwarz”, and “Pantarhei”; 16 May 1864 – 2 April 1937) was an Austrian writer and journalist, Jewish thinker and nationalist.[1][2] His life had three main phases, representing a progression in his thinking: a Zionist phase (c. 1883 – c. 1900); a Jewish cultural autonomy phase (c. 1900 – c. 1914) which included the promotion of the Yiddish language; and religious phase (c. 1914–1937) when he turned to Orthodox Judaism and became staunchly anti-Zionist.

He married Rosa Korngut (1869–1934) and they had three sons: Solomon (Salomo) Birnbaum (1891–1989), Menachem Birnbaum (1893–1944), and Uriel Birnbaum (1894–1956).

The last people I met were Professor Sharon Green and her three children. Her son is Jonathan Green and is Cantor at the Manhattan Davening was over at 11:30  Jewish Center and is friendly with my own nephew, Matt Schwartz.

Davening was over at 11:30 AM and I made it back to my mother-in-laws at 12:50 pm.

I read Sholom Gold’s autobiography most of Shabbos afternoon.   Mendel Rubinoff lent it to me and I have to return it tomorrow on Sunday.

Went to the BAYT for Daf Yomi, Michas, and Maariv.  Josh (?) Stein The speaker at the Shalosh Suedas 

discussed Mishne 2:9 of Pirkei Avos:

 אָמַר לָהֶם, צְאוּ וּרְאוּ אֵיזוֹהִי דֶרֶךְ יְשָׁרָה שֶׁיִּדְבַּק בָּהּ הָאָדָם. רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר אוֹמֵר, עַיִן טוֹבָה. רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ אוֹמֵר, חָבֵר טוֹב. רַבִּי יוֹסֵי אוֹמֵר, שָׁכֵן טוֹב. רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן אוֹמֵר, הָרוֹאֶה אֶת הַנּוֹלָד. רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר אוֹמֵר, לֵב טוֹב. אָמַר לָהֶם, רוֹאֶה אֲנִי אֶת דִּבְרֵי אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן עֲרָךְ מִדִּבְרֵיכֶם, שֶׁבִּכְלָל דְּבָרָיו דִּבְרֵיכֶם.

He spoke over a Sfas Emes who says that Lev Tov doesn’t mean a good heart but rather someone who controls his heart and his desires to do good.  It is about self control. 

July 09, 2022 – Shabbos Parshas Chukas

Verses 20:1 and 20:2

The Well of Miriam

Reb Chaim Shmuelevitz

Chovos Halevavos in Shaar Habitachon 

Coming Home to Zion, a Pictorial History of Pre-Israel Palestine by  Abraham Shulman


Verse 20:1

וַיָּבֹ֣אוּ בְנֵֽי־יִ֠שְׂרָאֵ֠ל כׇּל־הָ֨עֵדָ֤ה מִדְבַּר־צִן֙ בַּחֹ֣דֶשׁ הָֽרִאשׁ֔וֹן וַיֵּ֥שֶׁב הָעָ֖ם בְּקָדֵ֑שׁ וַתָּ֤מׇת שָׁם֙ מִרְיָ֔ם וַתִּקָּבֵ֖ר שָֽׁם׃ The Israelites arrived in a body at the wilderness of Zin on the *first new moon Of the fortieth year; cf. Num. 33.36–38. and the people stayed at Kadesh. Miriam died there and was buried there.

Verse 2

וְלֹא־הָ֥יָה מַ֖יִם לָעֵדָ֑ה וַיִּקָּ֣הֲל֔וּ עַל־מֹשֶׁ֖ה וְעַֽל־אַהֲרֹֽן׃ The community was without water, and they joined against Moses and Aaron.

In Verse 1, 38 years have passed, and the Torah has moved the narrative to the 40th year in the desert.  There was nothing of significance that happened during those 38 years other than the generation of the desert died out.  The first event in the 40th year is the death of Miriam.  The Torah is very cold in its description, Miriam dies and is buried.  None of the emotional descriptions as when Aaron and Moshe died.  Rashi adds color to her death that she was a righteous person, equal to that of her sibling and she also died by the kiss of God.  It would have given Miriam’s death gravits, but the Torah chose not to because it is not proper to say God kissed a woman.  We have to look into the Meforshim to find the greatness of Miriam.  Verse 2 starts with a Vav Hachibur or as Rashi said the Smichos of the events tells us that there was no water because of the death of Miriam.  Rashi explains that the well that supplied them water came in the merit of Miriam.  Rabbinu Bachya further explains that the people had not appreciated this until the well ceased with Miriam’s death.

What was the merit of Miriam?  It would seem it was her righteousness.  However, as the Sifsei Chacomin asks, if it came because of her righteousness, why didn’t the water come in the merit of Moshe and Aaron, they were great Tzadikim.  The Sifsie Chacomin and the Rabbinu Bachya answer that it was because of a specific action of Miriam, that when Moshe was put in a basket in the sea of reeds, she stayed with Moshe.

 There is a question.  Even if we did not have the merit of Miriam, Hashem would have provided the Jews in the desert with water.  He would not take them in a desert without water.  Why do we need the merit of Miriam?

We have three statements to consider based on these Pesukim:

1 – Miriam’s merit was not her righteousness, but her staying with Moshe when Moshe was put into the basket in the reed sea.

2 – Even without Miriam, the Jews would have had water.  Hashem would have provided water.

3 – The nation did not appreciate Miriam – that through her water came.  It was the absence of water that brought them to this realization that they needed to recognize Miriam’s contribution.  In other words they did not show Hakaras Hatov. Lack of Hakaras Hatov leads to bad things. It led to a rebellion of sorts and Moshe and Aaron did not go into Israel.  While you can argue that Hashem did not have to stop the water, but at the end of the day, the lack of gratitude caused bad things to happen.

Idea #1 is expounded in the below story from Rabbi Yaakov Haber, reprinted from his website. 

  A true story from the Six Day War:

Many areas of Jerusalem were being shelled, including Mea Shearim, which contained a number of yeshivot.  The students of one of these, the famous Mir Yeshiva, just like everyone else, spent their time in a bomb shelter.  They were praying, and learning, with great concentration, with the sounds of explosions around them all the time.

The shelter contained a number of people other than the members of the Yeshiva, and one of these, a woman, suddenly cried out: “L-rd of the universe!  I have been married and divorced, and during my marriage, my husband treated me terribly for many years, abusing me and humiliating me in public.  But now I’m prepared to forgive him, and I pray that You, L-rd, will then, similarly, forgive the Jewish people for whatever sins of theirs are causing this present suffering!”

The Rosh Yeshiva of Mir Yeshiva, Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz, one of the great Torah scholars of his generation, overheard this, and exclaimed: “If we get out of this alive, it will be on this woman’s merit!”  And they did…

We can expand on these three statements:

Statement 1 and 2 explanation:  Every Jew can be a merit and an inspiration for all their fellow Jews and the world.  It is an individual righteous act that provides great benefits to the Jewish people.  While Hashem would have provided water to the Jews of the desert, Hashem does it through the effort and the merit of man.  We want to always do good and it should be through our efforts that individuals and the Jewish nation succeeds.  We do not want our actions, even accidental, to produce negative results.  At the end of our life we want to have a legacy.  This is more of a universalist idea.  What do the Tzadikim and Torah Scholars provide?  We know that they protect  a generation and their death is an atonement.  However, individual acts by any Jew provides great benefits and salvation.

The Chovos Halevavos in Shaar Habitachon talks about having faith in God and that everything is directed through him.  However, here is always a  סובב ומסובב.  A cause and an effect.  The   סובב  is an action that a person does that results in a result.   This is how Hashem deals with the world.   We always want to be a  סובב for good.  This is what Miriam was.  She was  the סובב that brought water to the Jews in the desert.  We want to be like Miriam bringing good to this world and we want this to be our legacy.  We do not want the opposite, to the  סובב for bad things to happen; e.g. cause a car accident, be the doctor that misses a diagnosis, make a mistake at work that causes a loss or someone to get fired.  

Statement #3 Drahsa:  The final idea is that we must always have proper Hakaras Hatov, gratitude to our fellow man.  Miriam was the reason why the Jews of the desert had water and we have to properly appreciate her, which the people did not.  I read a book, Coming Home to Zion – A Pictorial History of Pre-Israel Palestine which takes us through the history of  the building up of Israel by the pioneers who came from 1882 to 1914.  The book discusses the pioneers’ struggles, setbacks, and Mesiras Nefesh to create the foundation for the State of Israel.  The land was inhospitable; they faced disease, swamps, and many other obstacles, yet they persevered.  Their tireless efforts produced first the framework and then the actual State of Israel.  We all owe the Hakaras Hatov, whether Frum, Charedi, leftist, secular, or recent immigrant to Israel.  We cannot and should not dismiss these heroes.  The problem I believe in Israel and the US is that we lack the capacity to give proper thanks.

To all this I want to add Martin Brody’s Torah on this week’s Parsha:

All three:  Moshe, Aaron and Miriam taught us something about legacy.

Aaron’s death is reported at length, with great preparation and mourning.  Part of that preparation is handing over the mantle of the Priesthood to his son and having the satisfaction of knowing his work will be continued.

Moses will die on the banks of the Jordan just shy of the goal, the Promised Land.  Not everyone can cross the river, but as the sage R.Tarfon says in Pirkei Avot Chapter 2, you may not be able to finish the task, but you must not desist from trying.

Three different modes of legacy. What will yours be?

I retract that question.  It’s inappropriate.

Instead, I ask myself, what will mine be?

Shabbat Shalom – Martin Brody

Another similar idea by Rabbis Stanley Wagner and Israel Drazin in the translation of Targum Onkelos:

Rabbi Stanley Wagner passed away in 2013.   

This past Sunday I tracked down Rabbi Israel Drazin, who lives in Boca Raton, right near BRS.and spoke to him.   He is 86 and has been living in Boca for 20 years.   Last week I received his 2008 Sefer on Onkelos and used it for the first time this past Shabbos, July 9m 2022.  It is a marvelous Sefer and I had to track him down to thank him.  

My July 10, 2022 email to Rabbi Israel Drazin and his response.

Israel Drazin



Thank you very much for your compliment Mitchell. I am very happy that you liked the Onkelos book. It is my favorite among the many books that I wrote. I wish you the very best.


From: Mitchell Morgenstern []

Sent: Sunday, July 10, 2022 12:19 PM


Cc: Simcha Shabtai <>; Efrem Goldberg <>; Philip Moskowitz <>; Rabbi Josh Broide <>

Subject: Onkeyles on the Torah

Rabbi Drazin:  

As I mentioned I received your Sefer last week and used it this Shabbos.  It enhanced my learning.  I love your format and for me it is superior to the Artscroll that was recently published.  It is an extra English translation of the Chumash based on Onkelos in a clear format.

I reread the portion I did not understand and now understand..  

 Next time I am in Boynton Beach where my daughter lives, I will definitely visit.

I arrived in Boca Raton Synagogue in 2012  and while not a regular attendee, I became familiar with the people.  My daughter moved out of the area in 2016 so I visit less frequently.  

I am diminished because I did  not meet you.  I became a Talmud of Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah and still miss him to this day.

 Thank you again for putting out this scholarly work.  

 Mitchell A. Morgenstern



Rashi Verse 20:2       

 ולא היה מים לעדה    AND THERE WAS NO WATER FOR THE CONGREGATION — Since this statement follows immediately after the mention of Miriam’s death, we may learn from it that during the entire forty years they had the “well” through Miriam’s merit (Taanit 9a).

The Rabbi Bachya and the Seifsei Chachomin add, specifically Miriam did, and not Moshe and Aaron.  It was because Miriam  stood by watching what would happen to her infant brother when he was in a basket in the reeds at the edge of the river (Exodus 2:4).  G-d had rewarded her for that act of kindness by making her the provider of water for Moses’ people. The people had not appreciated this until the well ceased with Miriam’s death.

Rabbeinu Bachya, Bamidbar 20:2:1 – 2

Rabbeinu Bachya:ולא היה מים לעדה. כשמתה מרים נסתלק הבאר כי היה הבאר בזכות מרים שהיה לה זכות המים ממשה, שנאמר (שמות ב׳:ד׳) ותתצב אחותו מרחוק. ומה שנסתלק עתה במיתתה ראיה שבזכותה היה עמהם, ומכאן שכל ארבעים שנה היה להם הבאר.

ולא היה מים לעדה, “The congregation had no water.”  As soon as Miriam died, the well which had traveled with the Israelites all these years ceased providing water.  The water which the people had enjoyed all these years was due to the merit of Miriam who had stood by watching what would happen to her infant brother when he was in a basket in the reeds at the edge of the river (Exodus 2,4).  G-d had rewarded her for that act of kindness by making her the provider of water for Moses’ people.  The people had not appreciated this until the well ceased with Miriam’s death.

Siftei Chakhamim, Numbers 20:2:1

שפתי חכמים, במדבר כ׳:ב׳:א׳

הבאר בזכות מרים. שהרי מיד כשמתה מרים לא הי’ להם עוד מים. וא”ת למה לא היה הבאר בזכות אהרן או משה, וי”ל בזכות שהמתינה למשה על המים לראות מה יעשה לו כשהושלך בתיבה, לכן נעשה לה זכות זה של באר דהיינו מים שנתן הקב”ה מים לעדה בשבילה:

The well in Miriam’s merit. For immediately after Miriam died, they no longer had water.  You might ask: Why was the well not in Aharon’s or Moshe’s merit? The answer is that it was in the merit of Miriam waiting for Moshe by the water, to see what would happen to him when he was placed there in the box [as a baby] (Shemos 2:4).  In return, this merit of the well, i.e., the water that Hashem provided for the congregation was on her behalf.

Other Meforshim I saw and liked:

Ohr HaChaim:

Verses 20:3-5:

וירב העם וגו’ ולו גוענו. פירוש נתרעמו עליו שהתפלל עליהם שלא ימותו בדבר

ולמה הבאתם וגו’. תרעומת ב’ למה הביאום דרך מדבר שהוא מקום סכנת מיתת צמא שהיה להם להעלותם שלא על דרך המדבר, והכונה בזה כיון שאין כח ביד משה לתת להם מים במדבר על מי סמך להביאם דרך שם.

ואומרם ולמה העליתונו וגו’ פירוש ואם תשיבו אותנו כי אין דרך מובטח להעביר אתכם בו אלא דרך מדבר או הכרח היה הדבר שתעברו דרך מדבר, לזה נתרעמו ואמרו אם כן לא היה לכם להעלותינו ממצרים כיון שהוא מוכרח להביא אותנו אל המקום הרע הזה שיש בו סכנה שאינו מקום זרע וגו’ כאומרם ז”ל (חולין פח:) מדבר אינו מעלה צמחים.

In the above three comments, the Ohr HaChaim explains their complaints as legitimate, and it seems it wasn’t as if they were rebelling.  Their complaints did not have the edge that their parents’ had when their parents complained.  On the third, why did you bring us up from Egypt, their complaint was, you could  have left us in the diaspora, in Egypt, as free men and we would have served Hashem there.  Afterwards you could have brought us to Israel, in a way we would not be in danger.

Coming Home to Zion and the Lessons Learned

I purchased the book  Coming Home to Zion, a Pictorial History of Pre-Israel Palestine from Half Price Books.  The author is Abraham Shulman.  Coming Home to Zion is the story of the birth of Israel – a stunning pictorial documentary of the formative years of the Jewsih nation.  Coming Home to Zion captures the spirit as well as the heroic deed of the first israel.  It also discusses the hardships of establishing a physical, agricultural and business framework for the State of israel.  Many people died due to malaria and other diseases.  Swamps had to be drained, inhospitable land had to be tamed and farmed.  Cities had to be built.  Many went back to Europe due to the uncompromising landscape and hardships. Yet the early pioneers succeeded and we have a beautiful state of Israel today, imperfect as it is.

It is easy to talk and  pontificate.  Hess, Herzl, and Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Klaisher were critical in advancing the idea of a state in Israel, but all they did was produce ideas and talk.  And then there is the actual work.  The early pioneers had to do the miserable, backbreaking work, and they did.  As I said before we owe them gratitude.  Maybe this was the thinking of Rabbi Avrohom Yitzxchok HaCohen Kook who understood what the pioneers had done and he tried to influence them with his holiness.

Biography of Abraham Shulman:

Abraham Shulman also Avrom Shulman (20 June 1918 — 1 November 1999) was a Polish-American journalist, author, writer of Yiddish and English short stories and essays.  He began publishing poetry in Polish, later writing critical essays and mainly feature pieces in the Yiddish newspapers and periodicals of Warsaw, Paris, and New York.


Shulman was born on June 20, 1918, in Warsaw, Poland.  After graduating from high school in Warsaw in 1933, he studied at a journalism school there (1933-1935).  His studies were interrupted by the Second World War and he and his wife managed to escape to Australia via Vladivostok, Russia, and Kobe, Japan, in 1939.  He worked as a journalist in Melbourne for ten years and then moved to France, where he lived with his family for another ten years (1950-1960).  His son and daughter were born in Paris during that time.

In 1961, Shulman emigrated to the United States, settling in New York, where he was employed by the Yiddish newspaper “The Forward” and wrote a satirical column.

Shabbos Parshas Naso

June 11, 2022

Rabbi Yair and Tanya Halevi Eisenstock – Scholars in Residence

This past Wednesday, June 8th, we drove to Toronto.  We dropped Chani off at Midway airport at 3:30 PM and left to Toronto.  We got to Toronto at 3:00 AM Thursday morning. Tough drive.  Serka drove the last two hours.

Friday June 10, 2022 – BAYT’s Shabbos booklet:

I read in the above Shabbos Booklet  that this week at the BAYT they have scholars in residence, Rabbi Yair and Tanya Halevi (Eisenstock).  I was very excited and planned to attend the Tisch Friday night.   

Rav Yair Halevi (Eisenshock)  Bio:

Rav Yair is a Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva Torah Vavodah.

Rav Yair received his rabibnic ordination from the Rabbinate of Israel and Yehsivat Hamivtar,, as well as a B. Ed and a M. Ed Degree in Talmud and Tanach form the Herzog College.  Rav Yair was a director of the overseas Program at Yeshivat Hesder Otniel where he also served as Ram to both Israeli and overseas first year students.  Rav Yair went to work at Yeshivat Orayta where he served as Director of Informal Education, a Ram and Rosh Kollel in the Yeshiva.  During the summers Rav Yair has been involved in Bnei Akiva programs and worked with the Kol HaNearim program.  He also served in the Infantry Corps in the IDF.:

Tanya Halevi Bio:

Tanya is the director of the Kol Hanearim organization that works with Emunah Children’s homes in Israel.  Prior to this, Tanya worked at Midreshet HaROva, as well as Ulpanat Orot whirle she and her husband were here on Shlichut in Toronto.   Tanya has a B. Sc and a B. Opt and has done numerous educational seminars.   Her and her family have recently moved to the Dagan in Efrat. Maiden name is Glassman.

Shabbos Friday night:

Davened at the BAYT.  Ate and went to the Tisch at 9:30 PM, by Steven and Alina Mayers, 49 Michael Crt..  I was surprised.  I thought the tisch would be crowded and it was relatively full, but not standing-room only.    There were a few middle aged people and quite a few kids in their late teens and early 20s, which made sense.  Rav Yair was a teacher at Orach Chaim, the Bnei Akiva Yeshiva in Toronto when he and his wife were Shiluchim.   I looked around and looked at myself.   There is alway a question on IQ tests in which you are shown 4 things and you have to answer which does not belong.  It was a Beni Akiva crowd, a lot of Kippah Seruga’s.   I was wearing a black hat, and older than everyone else.  When you looked around the room, I was clearly the one who did not belong.  However, I wanted to speak and as the night went on, I looked at Rav Yai and said, I bet you are wondering who I am.  I asked to speak and spoke for about 15 minutes discussing the original Chassidic masters.  The next day Tanya Halevi thanked dme for speaking.  It was Leibadic with lots of singing.  Tanya Halevi spoke at the Tisch and she told a great story about her husband.    

The evening was inspirational.

Shabbos Morning, June 12, 2022:

Davened in the building’s minyan.  Minyan was outside and it was beautiful.  After Davening went to the BAYT to hear Rabbi Yair.  Spoke about Birchas Kohanim.  There was an Auf Ruf in Shul. Noah Zionce ismarring Eliana Grunbaum.    Went to the Kiddush and had some good Potato Kugel.  Tanya HaLevi told me she enjoyed my speech.  On the way home I  spoke to Rabbi Chaim Metzger about the Aleppo Codex.  He was familiar with it  and we had a spirited discussion.  He is the Rabbinic intern at the BAYT and is moving to Israel at the end of the summer.  He is applying for jobs but has nothing yet.  

Had the Shabbos meal.  Then went to Alesha and Mordy Rothman for a second meal.  They had good Spanish rice and Chinese chicken.  Afterwards Alesha Rothman  came to visit Bubi.  Overall a great Sahabbos.

Torah from Shabbos: I learned the first Kli Yakar on the Parsha.   

נשא את ראש בני גרשון. היה לו למנות תחילה את בני גרשון הבכור, ומה שרצו לתקן זה במדרש הרבתי (ו א) לומר שלפי שנמסר משא הארון אל קהת ע”כ מנאו תחילה לכבוד הארון היא גופא קשיא למה לא מסר משא הארון אל הבכור לכבדו ביתר שאת ועוז התורה אשר לה משפט הבכורה.

והקרוב אלי לומר בזה, שרצה הקב”ה להראות שכבוד חכמים ינחלו    the wise will inherit honor-  כדי ללמד דעת את העם שיכבדו את לומדי התורה ולקרא לקדוש ה’ מכובד לקדשו בכל דבר שבקדושה, כדרך שמנה את קהת תחילה בעבור משא דבר ה’ אשר אתו ואילו היה נותן הארון לגרשון הבכור הייתי אומר שבעבור הבכורה מנאו תחילה ולא הייתי תולה החשיבות במשא הארון ע”כ מסר הארון אל קהת ומנאו תחילה וידעו הכל ליתן כבוד לתורה וללומדיה. אך מדסמך בעל המדרש ענין זה לפסוק יקרה היא מפנינים (משלי ג טו) she is more precious than rubies – כדאיתא ברבתי ודאי כוונתו להורות שכתר תורה הפקר לכל וע”כ לא ניתן הארון אל הבכור שלא יהיה תפארתו לומר אני ראוי לכתר תורה יתר מזולתי אלא הכל שוין בה לכך נאמר יקרה היא מפנינים. היינו מכ”ג שנכנס לפני ולפנים כי לכתר כהונה אין זוכה כ”א מי שהוא מזרע אהרן אבל כתר תורה הפקר לכל והכל זוכין אליו, ויקרה היא מפנינים, מכתר מלכות שיש לו זהב ורב פנינים ואין זוכה בו כ”א מי שהוא מזרע דוד אבל לכתר תורה הכל זוכין ומטעם זה דרש ברבתי יקרה היא מפנינים מן הבכורה כד”א וזאת לפנים בישראל, (רות ד ז) כי אל הבכורה אין זוכה כ”א מי שנולד ראשונה אבל לתורה הכל זוכין. ד”א לכן לא ניתן משא הארון אל הבכור שלא תזוח דעתו עליו ביותר. וי”א הטעם לפי שמן קהת יצאו משה ואהרן מקבלי התורה.

Take the count. The likely explanation for this is that the Holy One wanted to show that “the wise shall inherit honor.” The nation needed to be taught that they should honor those that study Torah, and that “the holy of Hashem should be honored,” to give them precedence in every matter of holiness. Thus, Kehos was counted first because they carried the Aron with the word of Hashem. If the Aron had been given to Gershon, the firstborn, and his family was counted first, we might have thought he was counted first because he was the firstborn and we would not have attached the importance to being the bearers of the Aron. Therefore, the Aron was given to Kehos and he was counted first. Thus, all would know to give honor to the Torah and those who study it. Another explanation: The task of carrying the Aron was not given to the firstborn so that he would not become haughty. Some say the reason Kehos was counted first is because of Moshe and Aharon, who received the Torah, and were descended from Kehos.

I asked from the Mishna in Pirkei Avos that says:

רַבִּי יְהוּדָה אוֹמֵר, הֱוֵי זָהִיר בַּתַּלְמוּד, שֶׁשִּׁגְגַת תַּלְמוּד עוֹלָה זָדוֹן. רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן אוֹמֵר, שְׁלשָׁה כְתָרִים הֵם, כֶּתֶר תּוֹרָה וְכֶתֶר כְּהֻנָּה וְכֶתֶר מַלְכוּת, וְכֶתֶר שֵׁם טוֹב עוֹלֶה עַל גַּבֵּיהֶן: 

Rabbi Judah said: be careful in study, for an error in study counts as deliberate sin. Rabbi Shimon said: There are three crowns: the crown of torah, the crown of priesthood, and the crown of royalty, but the crown of a good name supersedes them 

What does it mean that the crown of a good name supersedes them?  Is the crown of a good name a fourth crown.  Most people are naturally nice and there is nothing special that he or she does, so what does it mean that the crown of a good name supersedes them. I agree that perhaps in the time of Chazal most people were nasty because life was tough.  The Kli Yakur and the Medresh in Nasso does not talk about the crown of a good name?   The Miforshim say that the Crown of a good name is not a separate crown,  The Mishna means that the above three crowns mean nothing unless the king, Cohen, and Talmud Chachom are good people and do good deeds.  

Can the Mishna be understood that a good name exceeds that of the crown of Torah or is it only good for speeches, “he is a good guy”?  I do not know.  I have to look up the Kotzker.

Shabbos Parshas Bechukosai

May 28, 2022

I davened by Bnei Ruvain.  The Benjamins were making a Seudas Hodah for the recovery of their son (Refael) Mechail Benjamin, who last Rosh Hashanah suffered burns over 55% of his body.  Michail looks good.   Aryah Benjamin, the father, spoke for 45 minutes adn talked about the ordeal the family went through, the community support, the time the hospital doctors said,all is lost, and  the miracles.  Aryah said that Michael always does things right.  When he burnt himself over 55% of his body, it was the right 55%.  The doctor was Dr. Schwartz who decided to put in Michael’s neck a third PICC line.  .  A PICC line is a thin, soft, long catheter (tube) that is inserted into a vein in your child’s arm, leg or neck. The tip of the catheter is positioned in a large vein that carries blood into the heart. The PICC line is used for long-term intravenous (IV) antibiotics, nutrition or medications, and for blood draws.  Oxygen was not getting into Michael”s body and his organs started shutting down.  Dr. Schwartz decided to put in a second oxygenator through the third PICC line.  Dr. Schwartz said that in all of his 30 years of his burn ward practice he never put ina third PICC line or a second oxygenator.   An oxygenator is a medical device that is capable of exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood of a human patient during surgical procedures that may necessitate the interruption or cessation of blood flow in the body, a critical organ or great blood vessel.  

Cheryl Steiner came in from Toronto to be with the family.


I saw the beautiful Kotzker below.  The Kotzker is self explanatory.   The Kotzker speaks to the human condition.  The Yeshiva world explains this Medresh that Dovid would always end up in the Bais Medrash and not do the work he had to do.  The Kotzker asks, cannot be.  If King David wanted to go to look at the defenses of Yerushalim or look at the waterworks, that is where he went.

Notice in the answer, the Kotzker says that when Dovid went to do his physical labor בּעסקים הגשמיים- with a  חשבּון-, he had an increased desire to learn and delve into the Torah.  The Kotzker does not define   בּחשבּון and we are free to interpret.  Most of us would interpret with the understanding that Dovid was working on behalf of the nation of Israel and therefore was doing Hashem’s work.  You could say with a little twist that once we do work that helps ourselves, our people, and humanity, we connect to Hashem and to his Torah.

I also worked on the first Pasuk of the Parsha. Verse 26:3 says:

 אִם־בְּחֻקֹּתַ֖י תֵּלֵ֑כוּ וְאֶת־מִצְוֺתַ֣י תִּשְׁמְר֔וּ וַעֲשִׂיתֶ֖ם אֹתָֽם׃ 

If you follow My laws and faithfully observe My commandments,

Rashi says:

אם בחקתי תלכו. יָכוֹל זֶה קִיּוּם הַמִּצְווֹת, כְּשֶׁהוּא אוֹמֵר וְאֶת מִצְוֹתַי תִּשְׁמְרוּ וַעֲשִיתֶם אֹתָם הֲרֵי קִיּוּם הַמִּצְווֹת אָמוּר, הָא מָה אֲנִי מְקַיֵּם אִם בְּחֻקֹּתַי תֵּלֵכוּ? שֶׁתִּהְיוּ עֲמֵלִים בַּתּוֹרָה (ספרא):

ואת מצותי תשמרו. הֱווּ עֲמֵלִים בַּתּוֹרָה עַל מְנָת לִשְׁמֹר וּלְקַיֵּם, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר “וּלְמַדְתֶּם אֹתָם וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם לַעֲשֹׂתָם” (דברים ה’):

I never realized that both ideas in the Pasuk according to Rashi talk about studying Torah diligently.  I looked at the Mizrachi and Sefisei Chacomin who talk about this.


אם בחקותי תלכו יכול זה קיום מצות כשהוא אומר ועשיתם אותם הרי קיום מצות אמר הא מה אני מקיים אם בחקותי תלכו שיהו עמלים בתורה. בתורת כהנים פי’ אם בחקותי תלכו וכן ואת מצותי תשמרו א”א לפרש לא זה ולא זה בקיום המצות שהרי כתוב אחריהם ועשיתם אותם שמורה על קיום המצות א”כ עכ”ל דאם בחקותי תלכו ואת מצותי תשמרו תרויהו ביהו עמלים בתורה קמיירי אלא דחד מנייהו בסתם עמלין וחד מינייהו בעמלין על מנת לשמור ולקיים:

כמו שנאמר ולמדתם אותם ושמרתם לעשותם. דשמירה בלב משמע שישמרו בלבם בעת שהם עמלים בה לעשות כל האמור בה וזהו ששנו בתורת כהנים וכה”א זכור את יום השבת לקדשו יכול בלבך כשהוא אומר שמור הרי שמירת הלב אמורה הא מה אני מקיים זכור שתהא שונה בפיך:

Sefsai Chocomin:

הרי קיום מצות. ה”ג כשהוא אומר ועשיתם אותם הרי קיום מצות אמור וכו’ ואם כן פירוש ואם בחקותי תלכו בעמלים סתם ואת מצותי תשמרו בעמליים ע”מ לשמור ולקיים: 

שתהיו עמלים בתורה. מדכתיב תלכו ולא כתיב תלמדו אלא ללמד שתלכו אחר דרש חכמים: [נח”י] דייק מדכתיב תלכו דכיוצא בזה מצינו לשון הליכה בירמיה על עזבם את תורתי ולא הלכו בה. וכמו הוי כל צמא לכו למים שמורה על התעסקות בתורה:

ע”מ לשמור. רצונו בזה דהא אחרי כן כתיב ונתתי גשמיכם וגו’ והוי משמע שיתעסקו בתורה ע”מ שיקבלו שכר והלא אמרו רז”ל אל תהיו כעבדים המשמשין את הרב ע”מ לקבל פרס ל”פ ע”מ לקיים כמו שנ’ ולמדתם אותם ושמרתם לעשותם דמשמע שישמרו בלב בעת שעמלים בה לעשות כל האמור בה:

Additional Torah form the new Emes Vemunah:

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Rabbi Revah’s Shiur

The Kotzker Rebbe on the 

Tzidkus of Chanoch

Chovos Halevavos and the Kotzker

Rabbi Revah is learning Chovos Halevavos in Shiur.  The portion we are learning today deals with the reasons why the Torah does not describe the reward for doing Mitzvos are in the next world.    The Chovos Halevavos says that certain great Tzadikiem who are already attached to the next world are shown their reward in the next world.  He brings down a Pasuk in Zechariah that says that Yehoshua Cohen Gadol was shown his reward in the next world because he understood what the next world is all about. The Chovos Halevavos writes:

אחד הטעמים הוא: מפּני שׁאין אנו משׂיגים איזה צורה ישׁ לנפשׁ כּשׁהיא בּלי גוף, ומכּל שׁאין בּכחנו להשׂיג איזה דברים גורמים לה תענוג וצער כּשׁהיא בּמצב זה, וה׳ פּרשׁ את הדברים הללו רק למי שׁמבין את הענין הזה, כמו שׁאמר ה׳ ליהושׁע הכּהן הגדול (זכריה ג ז): ונתתי לך מהלכים בּין העמדים האלה  (עג)          

עג. בּין העמדים האלה, בין השׂרפים ומלאכי השׁרת העומדים פּה. (רשׁי ומצודת דוד)

We see that the reward for great people, great Tzadikim in the next world, is to be an angel on a higher level than angels who were created by God. Angels created by God are called עומדים.  They are stationary, they cannot go up in levels of spirituality.  People are called מהלכים because humans can go up and up in levels of Holiness, by doing MItzvos, learning Torah and connecting to God.  Yehoshua Cohen Gadal will be better than an angel.  He will be an angel directory connected to God with the ability to continue to grow.

 When I heard this piece from the Chovovs Haelaovos,  I told Rabbi Revah that this is the source of the Kotzker on Chanoch. The Kotzker learned the Chovos Halevavos, refer to Page 4..  

The Chumash says in Bereshis 5:24 –  וַיִּתְהַלֵּ֥ךְ חֲנ֖וֹךְ אֶת־הָֽאֱלֹהִ֑ים וְאֵינֶ֕נּוּ כִּֽי־לָקַ֥ח אֹת֖וֹ אֱלֹהִֽים׃.  

Rashi says:

ויתהלך חנוך. צַדִּיק הָיָה וְקַל בְּדַעְתּוֹ לָשׁוּב לְהַרְשִׁיעַ, לְפִיכָךְ מִהֵר הַקָּבָּ”ה וְסִלְּקוֹ וֶהֱמִיתוֹ קֹדֶם זְמַנּוֹ, וְזֶהוּ שֶׁשִּׁנָּה הַכָּתוּב בְּמִיתָתוֹ לִכְתֹּב וְאֵינֶנּוּ בָּעוֹלָם – לְמַלְּאוֹת שְׁנוֹתָיו ‏(בראשית רבה):

The Kotzker Rebbe asks on Rashi, how can you say that Chanoch was Kal Bidato, when Chanoch became the angel מט״ט?  Since Chanoch became the angel Mitat, it must be that Chanoch was a great Tzadick in this world.  How do we understand Rashi who seems to diminish Chanoch?   We see from the Chovos Halevavos and the Pasuk in Zechariah  that great Tzaddikim become high level angels.  This I believe is the source of Kotzker’s question.  If Chanoch became the high level Metat, Chanoch must have been a great Tzaddik.

In my Shabbos October 26, 2019 Blog Post on this Kotzker I explained the Kotzker Vort on Chanoch and I added an addendum about Rabbi Shlomo Carlbach.  

Much Earlier Blog Post:

Chanoch walked with God then he was no more, for God took him.  Rashi explains that Chanoch was a righteous man, but his mind was easily induced to turn from 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 the angel “Mitat”, the official angel of the inner sanctum of God, was heaven forbid easily influenced to do  evil.

The Kotzker continues that 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 told me that it was his  Zedi, the Dizikor Rebbe.

  • The followup by Rabbi Pilchik  – 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 that he was a complete Tzadik, we are friendly.   After Rabbi Pilchik and Rabbi Twerski  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 something 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 thoughts of his descendants.

The following is from the Sefer Amud Haemes, page 248:  Rabinu is the Kotzker.

Pasuk from Zecharia Pasuk 7:3:

כֹּה־אָמַ֞ר יְהֹוָ֣ה צְבָא֗וֹת אִם־בִּדְרָכַ֤י תֵּלֵךְ֙ וְאִ֣ם אֶת־מִשְׁמַרְתִּ֣י תִשְׁמֹ֔ר וְגַם־אַתָּה֙ תָּדִ֣ין אֶת־בֵּיתִ֔י וְגַ֖ם תִּשְׁמֹ֣ר אֶת־חֲצֵרָ֑י וְנָתַתִּ֤י לְךָ֙ מַהְלְכִ֔ים בֵּ֥ין הָעֹמְדִ֖ים הָאֵֽלֶּה׃

 So said the God of the Hosts.  If you walk in My paths and keep My charge, and you in turn will rule over my house, and guard My courts; then after your death and you go up to the heavens, I will make you a  מהלך   among the   עומדין – the עומדין refers to the Seraphim and administering angels whose level is fixed.  However, Yehoshua Cohen Gadol will be a מהלך, able to go on higher and higher levels of holiness.    

The PIschai Lev, a Perush on the Chovos Halevavos, says that בֵּ֥ין הָעֹמְדִ֖ים הָאֵֽלֶּה׃ refer to the Se to the Seraphim and the administering angel.  Actual words of Rashi and Metzudas Dovid –

  The Metzudas Dovid says –

 ונתתי לך מהלכים. ר״ל ומלבד זאת לא יקופח שכרם בעולם הנשמות כי אתן  להם מהלכים וטיולים בין המלאכים  האלה העומדים פה כמ״ש למעלה ויאמר אל העומדים לפניו   :

העומדים. שרפים ומלאכי השרת שאין להם ישיבה:   Rashi      

Shabbos Parshas Kedoshim

Sons Praying with Fathers

Ben Shapiro

David Gross

May 6, 2022

Yesterday, May 5, 2022, I was davening at Chabad of East Lakeview, listening to leining and following along in the Parsha.  As the Parsha was being read, an idea I said a few months ago crystallized in my mind.

The second and third Pasukim of Kedoshim says

דַּבֵּ֞ר אֶל־כׇּל־עֲדַ֧ת בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל וְאָמַרְתָּ֥ אֲלֵהֶ֖ם קְדֹשִׁ֣ים תִּהְי֑וּ כִּ֣י קָד֔וֹשׁ אֲנִ֖י יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃ 

אִ֣ישׁ אִמּ֤וֹ וְאָבִיו֙ תִּירָ֔אוּ וְאֶת־שַׁבְּתֹתַ֖י תִּשְׁמֹ֑רוּ אֲנִ֖י יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃

There is סמיכות between Holiness, Godliness and fearing (and I will include honoring ones parents – the Ba’al Haturim does make the connection here) and Shabbos.  What is the connection?    

On October 13, 2020, Behind the Bima out of Boca Raton Synagogue had as their guest Ben Shapiro. Rabbis Goldberg, Moskowitz, and Broide interviewed him.   Minute 27:08 of the interview Ben Shapiro said the following, “I have gone to Shul with my dad since I was a kid.  My parents have also moved into the area.  My dad and I have sat next to each other since before my Bar Mitzvah.” When I heard this, I stopped figuratively and comprehended what Ben Shapiro just said.  He has davened with his father on Shabbos year after year.  During his father’s working career and during Ben’s years in building a brand, one thing was constant, his father got to see his son and now his grand kids every single Shabbos, and not just for a few minutes, an entire 2.5 hours.  This cost Ben Shapiro no money and no time out of his day.  He fulfilled the Mitzva of honoring ones parents.  

As my father told me that when he was in the Warsaw Ghetto with his parents and supporting them, one day his father turned to him and said with deep emotion “you have fulfilled the commandant of honoring one’s parents כמו שכתוב בתורה ”

The famous song from 1974,  Cats in the Cradle by Harry Chapin came to mind about a father who had no time for his son, while the son was growing up.  Years later when his father retired and the son was raising a family , the son had no time for his father.

Lyrics    –

Song     –

Ben Shapiro did the opposite without costing him time or money. He made sure to purchase a house near his father in LA and when Ben Shaprio moved to Boca Raton, his father also moved.   All it was is a decision that I will do what it takes to daven with my father every Shabbos that I am in town.  He may have not made a conscious decision but for him it may have been a natural decision.   Greatness.

Going back to my question above, that there is סמיכות between Holiness, Godliness;  and Shabbos and fearing *(and I will include honoring ones parents – the Ba’al Haturim does make the connection here) .  What is the connection?  

This has been fulfilled by what Ben Shapiro has done in life.  On Shabbos he gives honor and respect to his father, which produces holiness and Godliness.

This past March, I was in Boynton Beach visiting my kids. Of course I went to Daf Yomi in Boca Raton Synagogue by Rabbi Ben Sugerman. After Shiur I walked into the Shul to daven. I see my cousin David Gross from Teaneck, New Jersey visiting his kids. Davening next to him was his son-in-law, Dr. Michael. Wow. I saw the above Torah of sons praying with fathers in action on a weekday morning. While this is a son-in-law, the same specialness and greatness is manifested. I am so inspired by this scene and it is glued to my memory. I also noticed that Dr. Michael davens with Kavanah; conviction and concentration. He does not fly through Shmonah Esray.

Matti Friedman – The Aleppo Codex – כֶּתֶר אֲרָם צוֹבָא

True Story of Obsession, Faith, and the Pursuit of an Ancient Bible

Published in 2012

פּירוש בּעל הטורים על התורה לרבּינו יעקב ב”ר אשר זלה”ה

Rabbi Yakov Koppel Reinitz

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  

The timeline and thread of this post is as follows:

November 6, 2021 –  Matti Friedman is a Scholar in Residence at Anshei Shalom

November 7, 2021 –  Spoke to Rabbi David Wolkenfeld

November 15, 2021 – I purchase Matti Friedman’s book – The Aleppo Codex

April 15 – 23, 2022 –   I read the Aleppo Codex

April 25, 2022 –          I am at the BAYT in Toronto and discover the Sefer authored by Rabbi

                                   Yakov Koppel Reinitz   פּירוש בּעל הטורים על התורה לרבּינו יעקב ב”ר אשר זלה”ה   

April 26, 2022 –         Baruch Kelman tracks down Yakov Kopel Reinitz’s phone number

April 27 2022 –          I call and speak to Rabbi Yakov Kopel Reinitz

May 5, 2022 –            I research and put together this blog post

Matti Friedman

The Aleppo Codex – כֶּתֶר אֲרָם צוֹבָא

Book written by Matti Friedman titled The Aleppo Codex

Last November Matti Friedman was a Scholar in Residence at Anshei Sholem.


Saturday, November 6, 2021 • 2 Kislev 5782

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

Join us after Kiddush on November 6 to hear from guest speaker Matti Friedman – journalist, contributor to the New York Times Op-Ed Section, and the author of three award-winning books.

“The Aleppo Codex”

The perfect copy of the Hebrew Bible was written 1,100 years ago. It was kept in Jerusalem, stolen by Crusaders, ransomed by the Jews of Cairo, used by Maimonides, and hidden in a vault in Aleppo for six centuries. Around the time of Israel’s founding in 1948, it vanished. The story of the Aleppo Codex, Judaism’s most important book, is not only a true mystery involving theft, murder, and a government cover-up – it also allows us to look at Jewish history in the Islamic world, the creation of Israel, and the role of the Bible in the unlikely survival of the Jews in exile.

After Shabbos, I called Rabbi Wolkenfeld of Anshei Sholom and told him that I was sorry I missed attending.  Rabbi Wolkenfeld told me how they had a wonderful Shabbos and told me that I should read The Aleppo Codex.  He was excited about the book and infected me with his excitement.  

I purchased the book from Half Price Books.  I started reading the book and the opening chapter was a difficult read. I put the book aside for a while, but went back and read it during Pesach..  Once I got through the first chapter and understood what was happening I was able to read this magnificent book.

Background of the Aleppo Codex:

The Aleppo Codex in Hebrew is titled  כֶּתֶר אֲרָם צוֹבָא and means “The Crown of Aram Tzova”. Aram Tzova is Aleppo.   The Aleppo Codex was written in the city of Tiberias in the 10th century CE (circa 920).   The Aleppo codex and the other Codex’s are companions to Tanach.  Whereas a Sefer Torah and the prophets are written on a scroll and have no vowels or cantillation notes – Trup, the codex contains the vowels and cantillation notes.  It also contains notes that hint to connections to other parts of the Torah. This is what the Ba’al Haturim means when he says ב’ במסורת , there is a letter ב’ in the codex by this word and that there are two times in Tanach that this word or combination of words are used.  The other difference between the Codex and the Sifrei Tanah they had was that the codex was written in manuscript form and not in scroll form.  This made it easier to use than a Sefer Torah as to move around and read different parts of Tanach you can flip pages vs.  having to roll a scroll.   The word codex itself  means “a manuscript book especially of Scripture, classics, or ancient annals.”   Tradition has it that the Rambam used the Aleppo Codex when he learned.    Together with the Leningrad Codex, it contains the Ben-Asher masoretic tradition.

This time period in which the Torah codices were written were towards the end of the Geonic period.  The period of the Geonim began in 589 CE  after the period of the Sevora’im, and ended in 1038. The first gaon of Sura, according to Sherira Gaon, was Mar Rab Mar, who assumed office in 609. The last gaon of Sura was Samuel ben Ḥofni, who died in 1034 CE; the last gaon of Pumbedita was Hezekiah Gaon, who was tortured to death by fanatics of the Buyid dynasty in 1040; hence the activity of the Geonim covers a period of nearly 450 years.  There were two major Geonic academies, one in Sura and the other in Pumbedita. The Sura Academy was originally dominant, but its authority waned towards the end of the Geonic period and the Pumbedita Gaonate gained ascendancy (Louis Ginzberg in Geonica).

The Aleppo Codex was kept for five centuries in the Central Synagogue of Aleppo, until the synagogue was torched during anti-Jewish riots in 1947. The fate of the codex during the subsequent decade is unclear.  When it resurfaced in Israel in 1958, roughly 40% of the manuscript—including the majority of the Torah section—was missing, and only one additional leaf and a small scrap have been recovered since then.[3] The original supposition was that the missing pages were destroyed in the synagogue fire has increasingly been challenged, fueling speculation that they survive in private hands. This Is from Wikipedia.  Matti Friedman in his book clearly says they were not burnt, and strongly believes that they were stolen, and sold on the black market.   The portion of the codex that is accounted for is housed in the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum.

Matti Friedman Efforts

Matti Friedman traces how and why the codex was transferred to Israel In 1957, how it ended up with the government and his speculation as to what happened to the missing parts of the codex. Missing is half of Bereshis, all of Exodus, VaYikra, and Bamidber.  He found a transcript of the Din Torah starting on March 18, 1958 to decide where the codex belongs; to the state of Israel or to the exiled of the Aleppo community living in Israel and other parts of the world.  Matti Friedman said the Din Torah lasted on and off for four years.  Page 110 states about the trial, “It was charged and, at times, ugly.  Most of the characters in the story appeared in court.  Not all of them told the truth.”  Unfortunately when Matti Friedman was researching this story  most were dead and the rest  who were still alive were well into their 80s and 90s and had faulty memories.  It seems clear that Murad Fahem, the envoy who brought the codex from Aleppo to Israel, did not tell the  truth of how the codex ended up with Yitzchok Ben Zvi, the second president of Israel. 

As Matti Friedman dug deeper into the mystery of how the State of Israel obtained the Codex and what happened to nearly 200 missing pages, the story became fascinating.  

Matti Friedman concluded:

  1. The Codex was to go to the Aleppo community to be kept by their Rabbis
  2. Murad Fahem, the envoy who brought the Codex from Aleppo to Israel in 1957, lied about his instructions from  the Rabbis in Aleppo in 1957
  3. There was a Din Torah starting on March 18, 1957 as to who should be the keepers of the Aleppo Codex and safeguard it.
  4. The State of Israel in effect stole the Aleppo Codex from the Aleppo community
  5.  The missing pages were stolen from the Ben Zvi Institute which was the place where the Aleppo Codex was to be safeguarded for the Jews of Israel.
  6. Matti Friedman touched upon the theft of the Israeli government and others of historical  treasures that the Yemenite Jews brought when the community left Yemen.  Clearly there was anti-Sephardic and anti-religious bias on the part of the Israelis

The person who brought the codex from Aleppo to Israel was Murad Fahim at the direction of Rabbi Moshe Tawil who was the Chief Rabbi of Aleppo and Rabbi Shlomo Zaafrani.  Upon arriving in Israel Murad Fahem gave it to Shlomo Zalman Shraga (1) who was Orthodox and was the director of Israel’s immigration network in the 1950s.  Shlomo Zalman Shraga then gave it to President Yitzhok Ben Tzvi, the second President of Israel, the first one being Chaim Weitzman. 

In Matti Friedman’s book, Yitzchok Ben Tzvi seems to come off as a villain, although Matti Friedman never said this outright.  I found this interesting tidbit on Yitzchok Ben Tzvi that sheds light on his character.  Yitzchok Ben Tzvi in 1924 ordered the first political murder in Israel.  tps:// .  What the leaders of the Yishuv lws by Ben Gurion tried to do is silence debate on the entire issue with how the Yishuv deals with the existing Arab population.  If someone has an opposing view and seems to have a voice, he must be silenced by whatever means.  Killing anyone, let alone a Jew who doesn’t present harm to people is corruption at its highest form. Once you do this, you can justify anything.  This is what Reb Chaim Brisker said about the Zionists, that they are murderers.  I found this on Wikipedia and the allegation about Yitzchok Ben-Tzvi was written by Shimon Nakidimon, an Israeli journalist.

Yitzchok Ben-Zvi served in the Jewish Legion (1st Judean battalion ‘KADIMAH’) together with Ben-Gurion. He helped found the Ahdut HaAvoda party in 1919, and became increasingly active in the Haganah. According to Avraham Tehomi, Ben-Zvi ordered the 1924 murder of Jacob Israël de Haan.[22] De Haan had come to Palestine as an ardent Zionist, but he had become increasingly critical of the Zionist organizations, preferring a negotiated solution to the armed struggle between the Jews and Arabs. This is how Tehomi acknowledged his own part in the murder over sixty years later, in an Israeli television interview in 1985: “I have done what the Haganah decided had to be done. And nothing was done without the order of Yitzhak Ben-Zvi. I have no regrets because he [de Haan] wanted to destroy our whole idea of Zionism.”

As I understood the Aleppo Codex and got deeper in the book, I realized that the Ba’al Haturim is partly an explanation of the Codex and had a codex when he wrote his Perush on Chumash.  Until now I  never understood what the Ba’al Haturim meant when is said  ב’ במסורת .   

“וְחֹשֶׁךְ עַל פְּנֵי תְהוֹם” – ב’ במסורת. הכא, ואידך: “וְחֹשֶׁךְ אֵי זֶה מְקֹמוֹ” (איוב לח יט). זה הוא שאמרו (חגיגה יא ב), שאין לשאול: “מה לפנים? מה לאחור?” “וְחֹשֶׁךְ אֵי זֶה מְקֹמוֹ”, פירוש, שאין לשאול אי זה היה מקום החושך תחילה.

The  ב’ במסורת means that in the codex which is the מסורת the letter Bais appears before these words.  It is code telling us that there are only two times in Tanach that these words appear.  The Ba’al Haturim then goes on to explain the connection.  Artscroll never explained this properly.  

I found on the internet this 2010 book written by Hayim Tawil and Bernard Schnieder.  I have not read it and I do not know if Matti Friedman read this book or spoke to the authors.  Hayim Tawil must be the son of Rabbi Tawil who authorized the transfer from Aleppo to Israel in 1957.

  פּירוש בּעל הטורים על התורה לרבּינו יעקב ב”ר אשר זלה”ה

Rabbi Yakov Koppel Reinitz

I was davening at the BAYT in Toronto on Monday April 24th, right after Pesach  and I came upon the below Sefer –

Title Page:

As can be seen from the title page, the author is Yakov Kopel Reinitz and was printed in 1996.  I saw somewhere that he is from Bnei Brak.  I was amazed at the fact that someone spent the time and wrote a commentary on the Ba’al Haturim.  What scholarship!  I love people who have great knowledge.

I asked my good friend, Boruch Kelman, from Har Nof to track down Rabbi Yakov Kopel Reinitz. Boruch Kelman is amazing.  He adds a sense of American fair play into israel.

Boruch obtained his phone number and I called Rabbi Yakov Kopel Reinitz.  Rabbi Reinitz and his wife know little English and I know little Hebrew and Yiddush.  I spoke to him and I think he understood that I am calling from Chicago to thank him for producing a book of great scholarship.  It seemed because we could not communicate properly, he struggled to understand why someone was calling him from America to thank him. It does seem a little odd.  Afterwards his wife’s friend got on the phone who had a better English.  She did a better job of explaining why I called and I could hear the joy in his voice.  He told me that he will be 89 in two days.   He lives in Neve Daniel.  Neve Daniel is  located next to Alon Shavut in the Gush.    I was taken aback because I thought Reb Yakov Kopel Reinitz lived in Bnei Brak and would have nothing to do with the Gush.  Just to be sure I understood, I asked him if he ever spoke to Reb Aaron Lichtenstein TZL and he said, Yes, many times.  I told him that in the summer, I should be in Israel and will visit.  He told me he looks forward to my visit. I could hear the joy in his voice.

Kuntris Atoros AD”R – Rabbi Eliyahu Dov Rabinwwitz-Toemim known as the Aderes 

I received a major bonus looking at the Sefer.  Rabbi Reintiz included a Sefer written by the Aderes on the Ba’al Haturim by  Rabbi Eliyahu Dov Rabinwwitz-Toemim, Rav Avrhom Yitzchok HaCohen Kook’s father-in-law..  I know that the Aderes was a major Torah scholar and authored Seform.  But this is the first time I have seen one of his Seforim.  I have a Blog post on Rav Kook and the Aderes.  This is very exciting for me.

Rabinowitz-Teomim was born on 11 June 1843 in the town of Pikeln.[1] At the age of five his mother died and from then on, his father, Rabbi Benjamin Rabinowitz, raised him and his brother, Tzvi-Yehudah, alone. He studied Talmud and rabbinics under the tutelage of his father and by the age of fifteen he had acquired a substantial knowledge of Talmudic and rabbinic literature. Rabinowitz-Teomim was married to Feige Minna, with whom he had seven children. His daughter Batsheva married Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook in 1886; however she died a few years later, whereupon Rabinowitz-Teomim encouraged Rabbi Kook to marry his niece (the daughter of his brother Tzvi-Yehudah). He encouraged Rabbi Kook to become the Chief Rabbi of Jaffa.  He died on 3 Adar 5665 (10 March 1905). He is buried on the Mount of Olives.

(1) May 25, 2022: I just found this piece of information on Shlomo Zalman Shragai from his grandson, Nadav Shragai.

(May 24, 2022 / Israel Hayom) Some 77 years ago, the Chief Rabbi of the Jews of the Land of Israel, Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog—Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s grandfather—entered one of Europe’s convents and categorically demanded that the mother superior release Jewish children who were hidden there during the Holocaust.

“There are no Jewish children here,” she said innocently, but the rabbi insisted, and the children of the Christian institution were brought into the courtyard and arranged in rows before the rabbi and his entourage.

According to the testimony of my grandfather, Shlomo Zalman Shragai, who accompanied Rav Herzog on this trip—as mentioned in Rabbi Haim Sabato’s book Be-Shafrir Chevyon—the rabbi asked, “Who here is Jewish?” several times, but was met with total silence. His entourage encouraged him to leave for the next convent in order to search for more Jewish children; but then, a moment before they left, Rabbi Herzog suddenly wandered amongst the rows of children and shouted out loud: “Shema Yisrael, Hashem Eloheinu, Hashem Ehad” (“Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is One”). The small hands of seven children rose of their own accord in order to cover their eyes, and the rabbi shouted in excitement: “They’re Jews, this is how their mothers taught them.”