Shabbos Parshas Breshis 2019

October 25-26, 2019

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

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I am excited.  Nothing better than Shabbos in Lakeview.

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

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

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

Shabbos Morning:

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

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

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

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

Vort #1:

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

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

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Translation:

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

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

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

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

Vort #2:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Third Vort:

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

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Toras VaYishlach

Chapter 34, Verse 1:

1. Dinah, the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to look about among the daughters of the land.

וַתֵּצֵא  דִינָה  בַּת  לֵאָה  אֲשֶׁר  יָלְדָה  לְיַעֲקֹב  לִרְאוֹת  בִּבְנוֹת  הָאָרֶץ:

  Rashi says on this Passuk:

 And not the daughter of Yaakov.  However, because of her going out she was called the daughter of Leah, since she {Leah} too was in the habit of going out, as it says, in Ve’Yetzi, Chapter 30, verse 16 –” and she came forth to meet him” from Tanchuma Vayishlach 7 (And concerning  her, they  devise the proverb : Like mother like daughter).   From Midrash Rabbah 80:1

Question:

When you read Rashi, there really is no criticism of Leah.  It is benign.  “Going out” could be good or bad.

Artscroll  writes the generally held view that spins Rashi negatively, Dinah was immodest and Leah was excessively outgoing.  What!   We are now criticising Leah.    Leah  was one of the “Eimohos” –  founding mothers of the Jewish nation, the one who cried until her eyelashes fell out not to marry Eisav.

In fact, I would say the opposite of Artscroll.  Rashi seems to be saying – in case you think  that the Passuk speaks harshly of Dinah,  because the Passuk says that Dinah went out to see the daughters of the land, Rashi says, this is not true.  Just as Leah was a righteous person and her going out was done out of holiness, so too was Dinah going out for holiness.    What does Rashi gain by criticising Leah, one of the founders of the Jewish people.      Has Rashi turned into a Bible critic?   impossible.

Artscroll’s interpretation  seems to be based on Midrash Rabbah, Chapter 80, Section 1, copy attached.  In fact, all the Chumashim add that the source of Rashi is from this Midrash Rabbah.   The Midrash actually says that the end of Section 1, that Dina and Leah were dressed as Zona’s (harlots).    How can an Amorah, who lived in the second generation after the destruction of the Second Temple say this interpretation.   Can you imagine if this was said today?   Impossible!

I said an explanation a few years ago and my brother-in-law showed me that I was in line with the explanation of the Lubavitcher Rebbe  This year I saw it in the Gutnick Chumash, in the portion that says Toras Menacham,  copy attached.

I want to say the Rashi actually means the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s explanation.  Rashi is not being critical of Leah and Dinah, but rather he is praising them.

The Rebbe writes that Dinah had a tremendous ability to bring spirituality to the world.  In a sense, she was the first Lubavitcher Shiliach.  She went out into the world to positively impact the “daughters of Shechem”.  Leah had the same  ability, the ability to go out to the world and bring people closer to God.  After all, Dinah was a descendant of Avrohom.  Proof of this is that Yaakov was criticized for hiding Dinah from Eisav.  Only if Dinah had this tremendous ability to bring people to Hashem and had it within her to positively influence the evil Eisav, is Yaakov criticised.

Rabbi Lichtman this morning at our Daf Yomi Shiur added to my explanation.  There is a Midresh  that says the Yosef’s wife was Dinah.  If so, this is beautiful.  Yosef is the epitome of the Jew who is involved in the general world, maintained his Jewish soul, and had a positive impact on the world.  It is fitting that Dinah should marry Yosef.

I will add another indication, similar to Rabbi Lichtman.  Dinah, per the Midrash was initially a boy;  however, Leah, prayed to Hashem to make the fetus into a female.  I saw somewhere that Dinah had the Neshama of Yosef.  If so, just like Yosef had the ability to intermingle with the world, Dinah had the same ability, and bring people closer to Hashem.

The question is, how you explain the Midrash because clearly the Midrash appears to be critical of Leah.  Is the Lubavitcher Rebbe and the Abarbanal arguing on the Midrash.

The answer is no, no, no.  The source of Rashi is not the Midrash.  Rashi is positive and not negative.  The people who printed the Chumash who added that the source of Rashi is the Midrash Rabbah 80:1 were wrong.   I have proof of this.  Look at Rashi again.  Notice, the words in Rashi (And concerning  her, they  those that say parables, say: Like mother like daughter)  is in parentheses. These words are very similar to the Midrash and this is what seems to anchor Rashi to the Midrash.  However, we  do not read parenthesis.  Per Reb Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, words in Rashi that have parentheses around them, are words that were not in Rashi’s manuscripts.   They were added later by others.    The answer is that Rashi is not based on the Midrash, so parentheses were used on these words, to tell us not to read these words because that there is no connection between Rashi and the Midrash.  These words were put into Rashi in later generations who got it wrong.

How to understand the Midrash:

Look at the Midrash, pages 5-7 of the attached.  Although the Midrash at the end says that Leah and Dinah were dressed as harlots, Reb Yosi said this only in the context of a response to Reb Yehuda Nesia.  It was not said as the explanation of the Passuk.   The story in the Midresh is that Reb Yosi publicly insulted the house of the Nasia saying that they are unethical.  Finally at the end, Reb Yosi insults Reb Yehuda Nesai to his face via insinuation, allusion, and intimation.  Reb Yehuda Nesia did not realize he was being insulted.  Reb Yosi was in fact alluding to the Reb Yehuda Nesia and the house of the Nasi, saying that they sold themselves for money and they are animals.  .As the cliché goes, “the Empower has no Clothes”  Meaning, we cannot use a story to say the actual Pshat in the Pasuk.

Post Script:

A few years later I told this Torah to Rabbi Meir Pilchik.  I farbrenged with him one late December Friday night.  He  responded to me with a Torah from the Dhizicover Rebbe who said a Pshat in a Rashi.  Rashi then appeared to him that night and Rashi thanked him for interpreting a Rashi that on the surface seems to be critical of Chanoch, into a positive.  Rashi told him that before your Pshat whenever I passed Chanoch we did not look at each other, however, once you said your Pshat we talk to one another.   I saw the same Torah in a Kotzker, who lived before the Dhizicover.  I was overjoyed.   Look up on Kotzk.com on my January/February2020 Yahrzeit  Shiur on the Kotzker.

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VeYatzah Dinah