SHABBOS CHAZON – JULY 25, 2015

 

SHABBOS CHAZON – PARSHAS DEVORIM – JULY 25, 2015 – 9 AV 5775

LEADERSHIP II

Moshe FeIglin – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moshe_Feiglin

Moshe Feiglin spoke at 5:00 PM at KJBS and I went to hear him and his ideas for Israel. It was very informative. I walked him home with others to his host after the speech. I told him what he said in his speech is what Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsh said on the Haftora for Shabbos Chazon. Moshe Feigln wants both religious and secular Jews in Israel to go back to their purpose which is to be a light to the nations. This is why Moshe Feiglin moved his political center to Tel Aviv. He wants to bring a universal message to all Jews, that we are to be a beacon of light to the world, whether secular or Dati.

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsh said the first temple was destroyed because the Jewish people were no longer the light to the world. They did not bring morality and spirituality to the entire world, so God destroyed the temple and sent the Jewish people into exile.

On Tisha BAv, I heard the Consulate General Roey Gilad.  He said that depsite all of the problems in Israel, he trusts the Jewish people and that God will not let us down.  Moshe Feiglin said the same thing.

I only wish I was a Talmud Chochem so I would give a Shiur with Moshe Feiglin and Roey Gilad and with Torah we can unite all Jews together.  They can argue but they would leave the Shiur as friends and can work together.

 

This Shabbos I focused on the following verses.

כדאי לעצמו:
9 And I said to you at that time, saying, ‘I cannot carry you alone. ט וָאֹמַר אֲלֵכֶם בָּעֵת הַהִוא לֵאמֹר לֹא אוּכַל לְבַדִּי שְׂאֵת אֶתְכֶם:

Rashi comments –  “What is the meaning of   לֵאמֹר   ?” (This is an extra word as the Verse makes sense without this word.)    “Moshe said to them, “not by my own accord do I speak to you, but by the command of the Holy One, blessed is He.”

The next Rashi on the words “I cannot carry you alone” explains why God did not let Moshe carry the burden of the Jewish people alone. Rashi says:

Rather Moshe said to the Jewish people – The Lord, your God has multiplied you: – meaning – He has made you superior and elevated you higher than your judges. He took the punishment away from you and imposed it upon the judges.

Rashi seems to be saying that there is too much responsibility for one man, even as great as Moshe. I feel that God is also saying to rule and judge, one man cannot do it alone; especially a court system. Honest judges and a fair court system are the cornerstones of a normal society, a just world.

Verse 12 says:

כאשר דבר לכם:
12 How can I bear your trouble, your burden, and your strife all by myself? יב אֵיכָה אֶשָּׂא לְבַדִּי טָרְחֲכֶם וּמַשַּׂאֲכֶם וְרִיבְכֶם

Why does Moshe essentially repeat himself? In verse 9 he already said that he cannot do it alone. Although the plain meaning of the text does not seem to criticize the Jewish people, as Moshe on a plain meaning is saying how can I alone put on my shoulders the trouble, burdens, and strife of my people Every leader put on his shoulders the responsibility of his people.   Moshe is saying I need help doing it. However, here Rashi is saying that Moshe is criticizing the Jewish people saying they are 1) troublesome  2) burdensome – they were heretics, and 3) they are contentious.  This is very difficult because the Rashi on verse 9 said that God told Moshe that God is not allowing Moshe to be the sole leader because God made the Jewish people superior and elevated them higher than the judges.

Another question is that the first Rashi on Verse 12 says, Even if I were to say, “I will do so in order to receive a reward,” I cannot do so. This is what I have already said to you, “Not by my own decision do I tell you [that I am unable to bear your trouble], but by the command of God.

What does it mean, even if I were to say, I will do so in order to receive a reward, why would Moshe want a reward, leaders do not ask for a reward, they want to do the right thing, they are leaders.

The Gur Aryeh on this Verse asks this question and another one, and explains Rashi

Final questions on Verse 15, Rashi says what does it mean “So I took the heads of your tribes, . . .” – “I attracted them through fine words: “How fortunate you are! Over whom are you to be appointed? Over he children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – over the children of people who are called brothers and friends, God’s portion and inheritance and every term of endearment.

In verse 12 Rashi says that Moshe severely criticized the people, saying they fight, are heretics, and are burdensome and to attract the judges he says the people are great.

There is a beautiful Mesh Chochma, on Verse 9 which is in line with the Gur Aryeh. The Meshech Chocma is Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk (1843 -1926), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meir_Simcha_of_Dvinsk. My daughter was in Michlala and she bought me the Meshech Chocma edition with Rabbi Cooperman’s footnotes. The Meshech Chocma is a difficult Sefer to understand and Rabbi Cooperman opened up the Sefer with his footnotes.

Reb Meir Simcha says:

Verse 9 is can be explained in the following manner: A person who is blessed with wealth and children. He has problems raising his kids, from his business. He says, how great are these problems from you. God should give you, my children and grandchildren the same problems.   This is what Moshe the faithful servant said , God increased you and made you like the stars of the heaven, in numbers and greatness almost as if by miracles.  So should all leaders say about you and complain how difficult it is because that is their job. They are not complaining, but saying thank you Hashem for giving me this opportunity to lead the Jewish people.

As Rabbi Cooperman says, Moshe is really blessing the Jewish people. There are always problems and only because of the problems can we be leaders.

Rabbi Samson Raphael says on Verse 12 that these three negative attributes are not specific to the Jews in the desert, but to all nations, like the Gur Aryeh and the Meshech Chocma.

Dr. Ungar added the following:

http://www.jyungar.com/theological-essays/2012/4/27/the-space-upon-which-the-torah-hinges.html

Submitted on 2015/07/26 at 6:15 PM

Rashi has a different definition of apikorus…

“troubles” meaning litigious and using the legal system to further business aims…
“burdensome” means apikoris (like the targum)..here it means alsways questioning the leader’s motives….ie the definition of true heresy…

Heresy is any provocative belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs. A heretic is a proponent of such claims or beliefs. Heresy is distinct from both apostasy, which is the explicit renunciation of one’s religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion.

However the Rambam made apikorsus into apostasy.

has anyone done a study on the difference between the French and Spanish Jewish theologies?
( I would argue that being exposed to Arabic philosophy the JEws of Spain were more inclined to arguing about doctrine.)

How can I bear…all by myself?: [Even] if I were to say, “I will do so in order to receive a reward,” I cannot do so. This is what I have already said to you, “Not by my own decision do I tell you [that I am unable to bear your trouble], but by the command of the Holy One, blessed is He.”

איכה אשא לבדי: אם אומר לקבל שכר לא אוכל, זו היא שאמרתי לכם לא מעצמי אני אומר לכם, אלא מפי הקדוש ברוך הוא:
your trouble: This teaches us that the Israelites were troublesome [people]; if one saw his opponent in a lawsuit about to win, he would say, “I have [other] witnesses to bring, [more] evidence to introduce, I [will exercise my right to] add judges to you [in your tribunal]”.

טרחכם: מלמד שהיו ישראל טרחנין. היה אחד מהם רואה את בעל דינו נוצח בדין, אומר יש לי עדים להביא, יש לי ראיות להביא, מוסיף אני עליכם דיינין:
and your burden: This teaches that they [the Israelites] were heretics: If Moses was early leaving his tent they would say, “Why does the son of Amram leave so early? Perhaps he is not at ease inside his house?” If he left late, they would say, “Why does the son of Amram not leave? What do you think? He is [probably] sitting and devising evil schemes against you, and is thinking up plots against you. [Other editions of Rashi have”commandments and reckonings.”]

ומשאכם: מלמד שהיו אפיקורסין. הקדים משה לצאת, אמרו, מה ראה בן עמרם לצאת, שמא אינו שפוי בתוך ביתו. איחר לצאת, אמרו, מה ראה בן עמרם שלא לצאת, מה אתם סבורים, יושב ויועץ עליכם עצות רעות וחושב עליכם מחשבות:
and your strife: This teaches that they [the Israelites] were contentious (Sifrei).

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Parshas Noah

The below is Martin from LA’s comment on this weeks Torah potion, Parshas Noah.   In red are my comments.  Martin from LA is a student of Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks.   As as result I consider myself a student of the Chief Rabbi and have been inspired by the Chief Rabbi’s Torah.   Martin from LA is my cousin, my friend, and my co-marathoner.   At least he is still running and I am not.  

 Noah’s Failure

The Torah readings continue with the introduction to Noah and the flood story. Virtually every culture has a similar story. That Noah and the flood are mythical is irrelevant. The myriad lessons contained therein are of import.

I only take issue with you in this entire piece that Noah and the flood are mythical.  The Torah cannot make up stories of our history, especially after reading the first Rashi in the Chumash.  The problem then is separating myth from fact.  I believe the entire story happened.   My kids completely agree with you.

Noah is a perplexing character. He is described in the Torah, at the beginning of the eponymous Sedra, Noach, as a righteous man, faultless and walking with God!

He, alone in the Hebrew Bible has such appellations! Abraham and Moses, for example, do not come close.

But, despite such praise, the man that was supposed to save the world and rebuild it anew, in the end couldn’t even save himself as he wallowed in a drunken stupor and was an embarrassment to his children, and according to one opinion, sexually assaulted by his so Ham. And unlike Adam and Eve previously, who were ashamed of their nakedness, he was not even aware of his nudity.

How could this be? The man seemed to be the paradigm of religiosity, obeying every jot and tittle of God’s commands to him.

The Sages, in their Midrashic analysis of the flood parable, give Noah short shrift indeed. He is heavily criticized for not doing more to try to encourage a depraved humanity to repent and perhaps prevent the oncoming deluge. In fact he did nothing, but just busied himself meticulously following the minutiae of the ark’s blueprints.

Never understood the criticism.  No one would have listened.  Maybe Noah felt that the proper way is to live a religious  life by example.  Abraham’s defense of Sodom on its surface appears to be misplaced mercy for a society that choose brutality with their riches over a just society.  Abraham should have said, I will go and teach them.  I was only satisfied in Abraham’s defense when I answered the question of misplaced mercy,  that of course, Abraham was not saying let Sodom be spared any judgment.  He told God or understood God, that God will punish them for their evil ways, just not to destroy them.  If you do not say this,  then Abrohom is a fool.  I have not found a source for this, but this has to be the understanding.

 The Sages were particularly disturbed by his unwillingness to leave the ark after the floodwaters had subsided. Despite being certain that the land was now dry he only finally debarked because God instructed him. The Sages excoriated him for this. He was to be performing the most vital role in human history, the reconstructing of a shattered world and he dallied in the comfort and safety of his home not prepared to take the risks necessary for his daunting task until God approved his exit.

Abraham did not sit back in quiet obedience when God told him of the impending destruction of Sodom.

The Kotzker criticized Abraham that when God told him that his children will  go through a bitter slavery, Abraham did not protest and scream GVALT, my kids will be exiled for 400 years and will have to go to slavery!   They will have a holocaust!

Likewise, Moses did not await God’s permission to act on the injustices he saw in Egypt.

The Sages, who claimed that they would have torn down the walls of the ark and taken themselves out, were teaching us in this Midrash that to build a better society, you do not await permission.

Ze’ev Jabotinsky, (amongst others) even before the storm clouds of Europe began to darken warned European Jewry of the approaching destruction and begged them to leave and go to help build what was to become the State of Israel, a process that had begun 50 years or so previously. He was mostly ignored.

Some simply comfortable in their current surroundings, others claiming, that just like Noah before them, were exemplary in the observance of the God’s commandments, that a Jewish State can only be built with God’s permission.

The result was catastrophic.

You are correct.

No disease has been cured, no technology invented for the benefit of society, no hungry child fed, no poor have been clothed and no State has been built  by those that prefer to sit in an ark studying and even devising more minutiae than taking the courage to create a better world.

We need a balance.  We need Torah scholars and we need builders.  We need them in sync, each understanding their roles.  We need Torah and the scholars to provide this radiant glow that positively affects everything it shines on.  A foundation stone for a Jewish society to be built based on the Torah, just values, charity, and Torah knowledge.

This is my theme of Kotzk and when I write the definitive book on Kotzk, I will touch upon this very subject.  On the surface, the Kotzker seems to have withdrawn from this world for 19 years, when in reality he was a major  leader and leading the Jewish world.

“Devising more minutiae”.

Both Reb Meir Simcha of Dvinsk, the Meshak Chocmah and Rabbi Avrohom Yitzchok Kook would agree with you.

 Shabbat Shalom

 The Haftora.

The Hebrew bible consists of 3 sections. The Torah, which Orthodoxy believes is the revealed word of God. Followed by the Prophets, that section from Joshua, through Judges, Kings, and the various 15 Prophets, and finally Writings, such as Psalms, Proverbs, Esther and a bunch of others that you may or may not of heard of. The Haftora is a short reading taken from the 2nd section, that either has a connection to the Torah reading or the season, and is read at the conclusion of the Torah reading. How it came to be, nobody knows. There have been many speculative guesses, and the most well-known and promoted ad nauseum in the Orthodox world, may be the silliest. That is, the Greeks (and later the Romans), banned the public reading of Torah, but we fooled ’em by substituting another section of the Bible.) Personally, I prefer the argument that the Haftora reading was a polemic against sectarians who rejected anything other than the Torah itself as being part of the Jewish cannon.

Regardless of it’s genesis, it’s very ancient, at least 2000 years old, and is universal in practice throughout all denominations(There are occasional differences on the choice of Haftora)