Shabbos Parshas Pinchos – July 11, 2020 – 19 Tammuz 5780

The Three Weeks – Very Zionistic Period

Hertzl’s Yahrzeit – 20 Tammuz 1904 (July 12, 2020)

Herzl’s Repentance

Admor Dovid Morgenstern – 22 Tammuz  1873 (July 14, 2020)

Ze’ev Jabotinsky – 29 Tammuz 1940 (July 21, 2020)

Shabbos Day July 11, 2020:

I spoke today before Krias hatorah and the following is my speech:

On Thursday was the fast of the 17th of Tammuz and the beginning of the three weeks, which are times of great sadness in the Jewish calendar when the two Temples were destroyed.  It is a time that we talk about Moshiach.  Even the Chicago Community Kollel this year had an article about Moshiach.   All the years I worked these were not easy weeks.  Even though I did try to minimize the feelings of depression to do my job, I still felt the weight of Jewish history on my shoulders.  Once my associate presented a loan for Frum people on Tisha B’av and I thought about how when the customer is fasting, his loan is being presented for approval.   

At the same time it is a time of great hope that the Jews will overcome all hardships and Moshiach will come.  We have come very far as Jews being privileged to have the State of Israel and as for myself, living in America.  However, the journey is not yet over.   This period of time a very Zionistic.  

There are three Yahrzeits of great people in the Zionistic movement during the three weeks.

  • Hertzl’s Yahrzeit – 20 Tammuz 1904 (July 12, 2020)
  • Admor Dovid Morgenstern Yahrzeit – 22 Tammuz  1873 (July 14, 2020)
  • Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s Yahrzeit – 29 Tammuz 1940 (July 21, 2020)

Hertzl’s Yahrzeit – 20 Tammuz 1904 (July 12, 2020)

Binyomin Zev Ben Yaakov, known as Theodore Herzl, died at only 44 years old during his struggle to get the Jews out of Europe and establish a country in Eretz Yisroel.  I have said in the past that the Imrei Emes who in 1903 criticised Herzl and the movement back to Israel is now learning B’Chavrusa with Herzl.

What was Theodore Herzl’s repentance? 

Early on Theodore Herzl proposed to the Archbishop of Vienna a mass conversion to Christianity of Jewish children.  Herzl was laughed out of the church.

Fast forward about 15 years later to early 1904.  Herzl’s dream of establishing a State in Israel was not going well.  His friend, Count Lippay, got him an audience with the pope. Pius X at the Vatican.  Herzl had wanted an audience with the pope for years to request the Church’s help in settling the Jews in Eretz Yisroel.   Herzl was told by his friend that protocol is to kiss the Pope’s hand.  Herzl refuses to kiss the Pope’s hand.  Despite Herzl’s fight to establish a Jewish state in Israel, he refused to humble himself in such a way to the pope. The pope would never have agreed to help Herzl and the Jewish people even with the kissing of his hand.  Herzl stood as a proud Jew, aware of his  role representing a proud and noble people, and that he is an equal to the pope.  He represents a proud people, entitled to live freely and openly as Jews.  Wow.  Similar to Mordechai who refused to bow to Haman.

This was Herzl’s repentance.  Years earlier, Herzl thought the answer to the “Jewish problem” was mass conversion.  Herzl changed, he understood the holiness of the Jewish people.  Despite the major roadblocks and seeing his dream of Israel in his lifetime fading, Herzl refuses to kiss the pope’s hand.  As you read the below, Count Lippay who got Herzl the audience with the pope, said to Herzl to impress the pope, reminded Herzl, Herzl himself said he wanted to kiss the pope’s foot.  

Throughout Herzl’s writing he writes about the  specialness of Jewish people.

At the end of his audience with the pope, Herzl writes, “ Then I realized that the Pope liked this sort of thing. But on parting, too, all I did was to give him a warm hand-squeeze and a low bow.”

I have copied a little background and text from Herzl’s diary at the end of this speech.  

Admor Dovid Morgenstern – 22 Tammuz  1873 (July 14, 2020)

Admor Dovid Morgenstern was the son of the Kotzker Rebbe. He was my grandfather’s great grandfather.  He is second generation and I am seventh.   Admor Dovid Morgenstern was a Bocher and a Chosid of the Rebbe, Reb Bunim of Peshischa.  His Chasuna was on the day Reb Bunim of Peshischa passed away.   He was more of a calmer nature than his father, the Kotzker.    It is tragic that he nor his father wrote anything down, so the world does not have a legacy of his Torah.   His legacy is the Torah of his children.      Bourch Gutter put out a Sefer on Admor Dovid called Ahavas Dovid, however, there are few first person stories or life stories. 

In the Sefer Bais Kotzk from Yehuda Leib Levin, there are eleven pages on Admor Dovid Morgenstern.  After the Kotzker’s passing in 1859, most of the Chasidium became aligned with the RIM, the first Gerrer Rebbe.  There is little known about Admor Dovid  Morgenstern.    I read page 282 in Yehuda Levin’s Bais Kotzk, which is a story when Admor Dovid’s nephew, Reb Yechiel Moshe Greenwald, came to visit his uncle.  Rabbi Yechiel Moshe Greenwald is the sole source of stories about Admor Dovid Morgenstern.  He lived until around 1920 and remarried into his 80’s.   He has a grandson in Toronto.  Reb Yehcial Moshe has family living in Chicago.  

Page 282  says the Admor Rabbi Dovid did not push away any man.  He was willing to purify sinners from their sin, and to cleanse their body.  He could not tolerate people with false piety and arrogance.   

What was Admor Dovid Morgenstern’s Zionism.  As I spoke out the last three weeks, the essence of Kotzk was Ahavas Yisroel.  Admor Dovid’s son, Reb Chaim Yisroel Morgenstern, known as the Pilaver Rebbe, in 1885 wrote a Sefer Shalom Yerushalayim that it is time for the Jews to go back to Israel.  I read the first Chapter a number of times.  Around the 5th time, I read it with Ahavas Yisroel and it was a different Chapter.   This to me is one of the unknown legacies of the Kotzker Rebbe and his son Admor Dovid Morgenstern.

Pages from Bais Kotzk.

Ze’ev Jabotinsky – 29 Tammuz 1940 (July 21, 2020)

Ze’ev Jabotinsky, despite being born into an assimilated family in Odessa, Russia, became entwined with the Jewish people and his legacy continues to benefit the Jewish people.   He was born and not given a Jewish name, and later in life took on a jewish name.   He was a prophet and in the 1930s saw the holocaust coming.  He worked tirelessly to aswaken the Jews about the nazi threat.  My friend Eliykum Schwartz told me that despite not being Frum, when he travelled throughout Europe. insisted on Kosher food, as he understood that he represented the Jewish people. His great student was Menachem Begin.

I met Rabbi Naphtali Jaeger of Shaarei Yoshuv, in Far Rockaway, New York.  He told me that his father was from Alkush in Poland.  I said, wow, the first position of the Sochachover Rebbe in the 1860s was Alkush.  I asked Rabbi Jaeger when did his father leave Europe,  Upon hearing that it was in the early 1930s, I asked why did your father leave Europe?   He answered that his father heard Ze’ev Jabotinsky speak, came home, and said we are leaving Europe.   He took Jabotinsky’s words to heart.

THEODOR HERZL: Audience with Pope Pius X (1904)

 

papst_pius-x.hertzl0104

On January 26, 1904, Theodor Herzl had an audience with Pope Pius X in the Vatican to seek his support for the Zionist effort to establish a Jewish state in Palestine.  He recorded his account of the meeting in his diary. Source: Raphael Patai, The Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl, translated by Harry Zohn (New York/London: Herzl Press, Thomas Yoseloff, 1960), 1601-1605.  The “Lippay” to whom he refers is Count Berthold Dominik Lippay, an Austrian papal portraitist, whom Herzl had met in Venice and who had arranged the audience with the pope.

Yesterday I was with the Pope. The route was already familiar since I had traversed it with Lippay several times.

Past the Swiss lackeys, who looked like clerics, and clerics who looked like lackeys, the Papal officers and chamberlains.

I arrived 10 minutes ahead of time and didn’t even have to wait.

I was conducted through numerous small reception rooms to the Pope.

He received me standing and held out his hand, which I did not kiss.

Lippay had told me I had to do it, but I didn’t.

I believe that I incurred his displeasure by this, for everyone who visits him kneels down and at least kisses his hand.

This hand kiss had caused me a lot of worry. I was quite glad when it was finally out of the way.

He seated himself in an armchair, a throne for minor occasions. Then he invited me to sit down right next to him and smiled in friendly anticipation.

I began:

Ringrazio Vostra Santità per il favore di m’aver accordato quest’udienza” [I thank Your Holiness for the favor of according me this audience].”

È un piacere [It is a pleasure],” he said with kindly deprecation.

I apologized for my miserable Italian, but he said:

No, parla molto bene, signor Commendatore [No, Commander, you speak very well].”

For I had put on for the first time—on Lippay’s advice—my Mejidiye ribbon. Consequently the Pope always addressed me as Commendatore.

He is a good, coarse-grained village priest, to whom Christianity has remained a living thing even in the Vatican.

I briefly placed my request before him. He, however, possibly annoyed by my refusal to kiss his hand, answered sternly and resolutely:

Noi non possiamo favorire questo movimento. Non potremo impedire gli Ebrei di andare a Gerusalemme—ma favorire non possiamo mai. La terra di Gerusalemme se non era sempre santa, è santificata per la vita di Jesu Christo (he did not pronounce it Gesu, but Yesu, in the Venetian fashion). Io come capo della chiesa non posso dirle altra cosa. Gli Ebrei non hanno riconosciuto nostro Signore, perciò non possiamo riconoscere il popolo ebreo [We cannot give approval to this movement. We cannot prevent the Jews from going to Jerusalem—but we could never sanction it. The soil of Jerusalem, if it was not always sacred, has been sanctified by the life of Jesus Christ. As the head of the Church I cannot tell you anything different. The Jews have not recognized our Lord, therefore we cannot recognize the Jewish people].”

Hence the conflict between Rome, represented by him, and Jerusalem, represented by me, was once again opened up.

At the outset, to be sure, I tried to be conciliatory. I recited my little piece about extraterritorialization, res sacrae extra commercium [holy places removed from business]. It didn’t make much of an impression. Gerusalemme, he said, must not get into the hands of the Jews.

“And its present status, Holy Father?”

“I know, it is not pleasant to see the Turks in possession of our Holy Places. We simply have to put up with that. But to support the Jews in the acquisition of the Holy Places, that we cannot do.”

I said that our point of departure had been solely the distress of the Jews and that we desired to avoid the religious issues.

“Yes, but we, and I as the head of the Church, cannot do this. There are two possibilities. Either the Jews will cling to their faith and continue to await the Messiah who, for us, has already appeared. In that case they will be denying the divinity of Jesus and we cannot help them. Or else they will go there without any religion, and then we can be even less favorable to them.

“The Jewish religion was the foundation of our own; but it was superseded by the teachings of Christ, and we cannot concede it any further validity. The Jews, who ought to have been the first to acknowledge Jesus Christ, have not done so to this day.”

It was on the tip of my tongue to say, “That’s what happens in every family. No one believes in his own relatives.” But I said instead: “Terror and persecution may not have been the right means for enlightening the Jews.”

But he rejoined, and this time he was magnificent in his simplicity:

“Our Lord came without power. Era povero [He was poor]. He came in pace [in peace]. He persecuted no one. He was persecuted.

He was abbandonato [forsaken] even by his apostles. Only later did he grow in stature. It took three centuries for the Church to evolve. The Jews therefore had time to acknowledge his divinity without any pressure. But they haven’t done so to this day.”

“But, Holy Father, the Jews are in terrible straits. I don’t know if Your Holiness is acquainted with the full extent of this sad situation. We need a land for these persecuted people.”

“Does it have to be Gerusalemme?”

“We are not asking for Jerusalem, but for Palestine—only the secular land.”

“We cannot be in favor of it.”

“Does Your Holiness know the situation of the Jews?”

“Yes, from my Mantua days. Jews live there. And I have always been on good terms with Jews. Only the other evening two Jews were here to see me. After all, there are other bonds than those of religion: courtesy and philanthropy. These we do not deny to the Jews. Indeed, we also pray for them: that their minds be enlightened. This very day the Church is celebrating the feast of an unbeliever who, on the road to Damascus, became miraculously converted to the true faith. And so, if you come to Palestine and settle your people there, we shall have churches and priests ready to baptize all of you.”

Count Lippay had had himself announced. The Pope permitted him to enter. The Count kneeled, kissed his hand, then joined in the conversation by telling of our “miraculous” meeting in Bauer’s Beer Hall in Venice. The miracle was that he had originally planned to spend the night in Padua. As it happened, I had expressed the wish to be allowed to kiss the Holy Father’s foot.

At this the Pope made une tête [a long face], for I hadn’t even kissed his hand. Lippay went on to say that I had expressed myself appreciatively on Jesus Christ’s noble qualities. The Pope listened, now and then took a pinch of snuff, and sneezed into a big red cotton handkerchief. Actually, these peasant touches are what I like best about him and what compels my respect.

In this way Lippay wanted to account for his introducing me, perhaps to excuse it. But the Pope said: “On the contrary, I am glad you brought me the Signor Commendatore.”

As to the real business, he repeated what he had told me: Non possumus [We can’t]!

Until he dismissed us Lippay spent some time kneeling before him and couldn’t seem to get his fill of kissing his hand. Then I realized that the Pope liked this sort of thing. But on parting, too, all I did was to give him a warm hand-squeeze and a low bow.

Duration of the audience: about 25 minutes.

In the Raphael stanze [rooms], where I spent the next hour, I saw a picture of an Emperor kneeling to let a seated Pope put the crown on his head.

That’s the way Rome wants it.

Divar Torah for Shmos, January 5 and 6, 2018

Moments of Time that Changes History:

Parshas Bereishis documents times in history where decisions were made that changed the course of history.  Two recent ones:

  1. The brothers sold Yosef. They failed
  2. Yehuda and Tamer – Yehuda was not given the option by God to fail.

 

Previously, I spoke about another moment in history that changed the slavery in Egypt in this week’s Sedra. Chapter 2, Verse 11 says:

Verse 11:                                   וַיְהִ֣י ׀ בַּיָּמִ֣ים הָהֵ֗ם וַיִּגְדַּ֤ל מֹשֶׁה֙ וַיֵּצֵ֣א אֶל־אֶחָ֔יו וַיַּ֖רְא בְּסִבְלֹתָ֑ם וַיַּרְא֙ אִ֣י׃

Some time after that, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his kinsfolk and witnessed their labors. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his kinsmen.

Rashi says on when Moses had grown up:

ויגדל משה. וַהֲלֹא כְּבָר כָּתַב וַיִּגְדַּל הַיֶּלֶד? אָמַר רַבִּי יְהוּדָה בְּרַבִּי אִלְעָאִי, הָרִאשׁוֹן לְקוֹמָה וְהַשֵּׁנִי לִגְדֻלָּה, שֶׁמִּנָּהוּ פַּרְעֹה עַל בֵּיתוֹ (ילקוט שמעוני):

ויגדל משה AND MOSES WAS GROWN — But has it not already been written, (Exodus 2:10) “And the child grew”? Rabbi Judah the son of Eloai said: the first time it refers to growth in stature, the second time to greatness, — that Pharaoh appointed him to have charge over his palace (Tanchuma Yashan 2.2:17; cf. also Yalkut Shimoni on Torah 166:11).

Moshe was the Jewish nation’s inside man. Moshe was in charge of the house of Pharaoh, meaning he was the chief builder, chief architect and was in a position to ensure that the slavery in Egypt would be tolerable.  Per the Medresh,  he already convinced  Pharaoh to give the Jews a day off and it was Shabbos.  Had Moshe remained in power the slavery in Egypt would have been benign.  Due to two selfish people, evil men, who informed on Moshe to Pharaoh, the future of the exile in Egypt changed and thousands of Jewish babies were killed, the people suffered back braking slavery.  Yes, one or two evil men can destroy a world.

(Over Shabbos, I added, that the other story of Shifrah and Puah  –  Yocheved and Miriam, was one of greatness, defying Pharaoh and perhaps changing history.)

It is difficult for me to sleep and I wake up numerous times at night.   To sleep, I have to force my mind to put myself in a place and feel what it would be like. I will not think about the Holocaust because it is too dangerous. I started out with being at Gettysburg along the Union line with the Confederates charging the line.

I switched to thinking about Jewish history. I focused on two times in Jewish history that were moments that changed everything.  Throughout history decisions are made, events unfold, that change the course of history.  I would suppose that God does not intervene, but lets man chose.  Man must choose the right path.  Once man chooses for better or worse, Hasgachah Pratis, divine guidance affects the future.

The two events I think about is when the 10 tribes broke off from the 2 tribes.  Two selfish kings destroyed Israel.   Once the split happened the northern 10 tribes would follow a different Torah.  The nation of Israel could never again be united.  Who stood up for the people, the congregation of Klal Israel?  NO ONE. There was no one with the power to change the course of history.   They could not go up against two powerful, corrupt kings.   It was the start of the end.  It took roughly two hundred years for Sanchreb to destroy the northern kingdom. In 2003+- Martin Brody took me to the UCLA Hillel for Shabbos morning Davening.  Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller spoke eloquently. He said the Jews do better with leaders that are Avos, father figures than kings.   How true.  This is what the Torah worried about and was concerned about shifting from judges and father figures to kings.

The other time of history I insert myself into,  is European Jewry.   Who could have changed the destiny of European Jewry so that the  holocaust would not happen.  1881 is given as the start of the destruction of European Jewry, when the Czar issued harsh decrees against the Jewish people.  Previously, anti Semitism which was terrible,  was isolated.   In 1881 anti-Semitism morphed into pervasive state sponsored anti-Semitism, which effected a country’s entire Jewish population.  Newspapers were enlisted in this growing and insidious anti-Semitism.  The Jews of the Pale of Settlement were forced to leave.   For 1881 to 1914, about 2 million Jews left, with 1.5 million going to America. This is tragically demonstrated in the movie, Fiddler on the Roof.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pale_of_Settlement

In 1885, my grandfather wrote a short Sefer, Sholom Yeruhalim, and felt that the start of the movement back to Israel was the start of the coming of  Moshiach and was a worthwhile endeavor.  He tried to develop  an agricultural settlement for 1,000 families.  History could have changed but it did not happen and my grandfather had to abandon the project.  Tragic.

In 1894 Theodore Herzl was standing at the gates outside of the military base where Captain Alfred Dreyfus was dishonored. Upon seeing and hearing the cries of death to the Jews in liberal France, he clearly saw, like daylight, that there was no future for the Jews of Europe. Of course, he could not predict a holocaust, but he understood the Jews have three options; 1) leave Europe willingly, 2) be thrown out 3) live  in fear and live with pogroms..

Herzl was very charismatic and I believe put on this earth by God to help get the Jews to leave Europe and get into Israel. Herzl only wanted to help Jews.   God does not hurt the Jewish people by placing a decent man on the earth.

Unfortunately he failed to convince the Jews to move to Israel at that time when they could and go to the land that God promised is flowing with milk and honey.

Parshas Pinchos 2016

24 Tammuz – July 31, 2016

During this past week, there were two Yahrzeits. On 20 Tammuz was the 122th Yahrzeit of Benyamin Tzvi Herzl. In the 22 Tammuz was the 143th Yahrzeit of My great-great-great- grandfather Admor Dovid Morgenstern.

Pesach Frank
Rabbi Tzvi Pesach Frank

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I offer a Torah thought from Rabbi Menachem Ben Zion Sacks, the son-in-law of Rabbi Tzvi Pesach Frank. His book on his Torah thoughts is Menachem Tzion on the Torah. Rabbi Tzvi Pesach Frank (1873–1960) (Hebrew: הרב צבי פסח פרנק) was a renowned halachic scholar and the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem for several decades. Rabbi Tzvi Pesach Frank in his own way was a Zionist. 

 

Menachem Ben Zion Sacks

Hebrew: מנחם בנציון זקס

                    Also Known As: 

“Ben-Tzion”

Birthdate:

July 15, 1896

Birthplace:

Jerusalem, Jerusalem District, Israel

Death:

Died February 7, 1987 in Miami Beach, Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States

Place of Burial:

Jerusalem, Jerusalem District, Israel

Rabbi Sacks on Parsha Pinchos

Numbers, Verse 23:7 in this week’s Sedra tells about the daughters of Zelophechad coming to Moshe and saying, “Our father died in the desert, but he was not in the assembly that banded together against the Lord in Korach’s assembly, bet he died for his own sin, and he had no sons.” The Talmud in Shabbos, Daf 96 says, Rabbi Akiva identifies Zelophechad as the person who chopped wood on the Sabbath. Rabbi Yehuda the son of Besara said, “Akiva, you will have to answer for your comments, if you are correct, the Torah did not want to reveal Zelophechad’s sin and you revealed it, and if your are incorrect, you said a falsehood about this righteous man. Rather, he was one of the “Mapelim” Numbers 14:, Verse 44. The Mapelim where those who after the sin of the spies went to the top of the mountain and fight their way into Israel. Moshe told them in Numbers 14, Verse 42. “Do not go up, for the Lord is not among you, (so that) you will not get slaughtered by your enemies.”

Rabbi Sacks asks: Rabbi Yehuda Ben Besara did the same thing as Rabbi Akiva, as the Mapelim transgressed the word of God. Additionally, Rabbi Yehuda Ben Besara calls Zelophechad a Tzaddik, when he did die of a sin.

Rabbi Sacks answers: The daughters of Zelophechad told Moshe in defense and redeeming their father that he did not die in rebellions against God but “Because he died of his own sin”. From this it seems that there is no problem to reveal that Zelophechad was one of the Mapelim, because of their great love for Israel, that the Mapelim were ready to die for Israel, alleviates the blemish that is associated with the Mapelim. (This is why Rabbi Yehuda Ben Besara says he was a Tzaddik.)

Rabbi Sacks continues: from this answer of Rabbi Yehuda Ben Besara, we can extend it to the Aliyah to Israel from 1881 and forward, which contained great sacrifice to settle Israel; this Mesiras Nefash, protects from the blemish of many of the secular Zionists, the merit of wanting to settle the land tilts the scales of merit in favor of these modern day Mapelim. God should open up their eyes to return to good.

This thought of Rabbi Sacks mirrors the thoughts of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchok Kook, Admor Chaim Yisroel M’Pilov the Shalom Yerushalim and the successor and son of Admor Dovid Morgenstern.

A week earlier I told a Rosh Kollel from Israel my Torah thought on Bechukosi that dedication to Torah study among the Jewish people can bring peace and Achdus to Israel. I said that in Jewish thought and Halacha people cannot agree; however in dedication to Torah study there can be Achdus. I said that each Torah giant should have to give a class or classes in a Yeshiva or college not in their orbit. Meaning, the Rosh Yeshiva of Mir, should give a Shiur in Har Etzion, The Rosh Yeshiva of Har Etzion should give a Shiur in Ponevich. The Rosh Yeshiva of Ponevich should give a Shiur in Bar Elon University. Can you imagine the Achdus that would be archived over a 20 year period.

He argued with me and said I am wrong. Why should the head of Mir, Rabbi Finkl give a Shiur in Har Etzion. He basically said that the people in Har Etzion are wrong and no different than Apikorsim (He did not use this word but this is what he meant.). This was very depressing to me. What is wrong with teaching Torah. I think that I almost had my neighbor, a Telzer agreeing with me. I told the Rosh Kollel that he doesn’t get it, he does not understand the truth and power of Torah.

In this period of mourning for the Jewish nation and the merit of our holy fathers, may Klal Yisroel come together in Torah, in common goals, even though in ideologically or Halahca we disagree. We should realize that we will not and should not agree in Halacha or Hashkafa. May our Achdus in Torah bring us to recognize the humanity of fellow Jews and the world.

LEADERSHIP

SHABBOS – PARSHAS PINCHOS – 24 TAMMUZ 5775 – July 11, 2015:

LEADERSHIP:

20 Tammuz – 5664 – July 3, 1904 – Yahrzietof Binyomin Tzvi Ben Yaakov – Theodore Herzl

22 Tammuz- 5666 – July 17, 1873 – Yahrzeit of Admor Dovid Morgenstern. Second Kotzker Rebbe.

29 Tammuz – 5700 – August 4, 1940 – Yahrzeit of Ze’ev Jabotinsky

Parshas Pinchos Chapter 27, Verses 15-23 talks about leadership. Parshas Pinchos is blanketed by the Yahrzeits of Herzl and Jabotinsky, with my Zedi’s Yahrzeit in the middle. Herzl and Jabotinsky were secular and not accepted by many in the Torah world. Yet they were great people whose mission was to save Jews. The tragedy is that many in the Torah world refused to understand them. Others understood their message.   My Zedi and all the Kotzker children understood leadership, the responsibilities, and worked for the betterment of all the Jews. Reb Dovid’s son in 1885 tried to go to Israel and change everything to save the Jews in Europe. He understood the right things to do because he had Shimosh from his grandfather, the Kotzker Rebbe, and his father, Admor Dovid Morgenstern.

These three people should be MiLeitz Yosher for all Jews.

This Shabbos I went through the first half of Parsha Pinchos and tried to get a foothold in the parsha. I focused on Chapter 27, Verses 15-23. The storyline is that Moshe and Eliezer counted the nation of Israel and said these 601,730 men over 20 years old will inherit the land of Israel.   The five daughters of Zlaphchad go to Moshe and say , “why should our father’s name be eliminated from his family because he has no sons, give us an inheritance.” The next storyline is that God tells Moshe “go up to the mountain of Averim and look at the land. You will die and you are not going into Israel.” After Moshe is told you are not going to Israel, he asks for God to appoint a successor. When you read these nine verses, it is a beautiful story. One leader passed the leadership to the next generation’s leader. However, Hebrew words have nuances and there are Midrashim that give color.

15Moses spoke to the Lord, saying:

16“Let the Lord, the God of spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation,

17who will go forth before them and come before them, who will lead them out and bring them in, so that the congregation of the Lord will not be like sheep without a shepherd.”
18The Lord said to Moses, “Take for yourself Joshua the son of Nun, a man of spirit, and you shall lay your hand upon him.

19And you shall present him before Eleazar the Kohen and before the entire congregation, and you shall command him in their presence.

20You shall bestow some of your majesty upon him so that all the congregation of the children of Israel will take heed

21He shall stand before Eleazar the Kohen and seek [counsel from] him through the judgment of the Urim before the Lord. By his word they shall go, and by his word they shall come; he and all Israel with him, and the entire congregation.”

22Moses did as the Lord had commanded him, and he took Joshua and presented him before Eleazar the Kohen and before the entire congregation.

23He laid his hands upon him and commanded him, in accordance with what the Lord had spoken to Moses

Rashi on Verse 15 speaks in praise of Moshe and says.:

Moses spoke to the Lord…: This [verse comes] to let us know the virtues of the righteous, for when they are about to depart from the world, they disregard their own needs and occupy themselves with the needs of the community. — [Sifrei Pinchas 23] וידבר משה אל ה’ וגו’: להודיע שבחן של צדיקים שכשנפטרין מן העולם מניחין צרכן ועוסקין בצרכי צבור:
saying: He said to Him, “Answer me whether You are appointing a leader for them or not.” – [Sifrei Pinchas 23] לאמר: אמר לו השיבני אם אתה ממנה להם פרנס אם לאו:

Moshe wants an answer from God. Moshe didn’t merely ask, but said in a harsher tone, I want an answer. The Orach Chaim Hakodosh speaks about this and really does not answer.  Chazal say that there were 4 times that Moshe asked something from God and wanted an answer. All were when the nation of Israel was in trouble.

I can understand why Moshe talked harshly saying, I demand an answer. Leadership is critical. Throughout our history leaders have failed. After King Solomon dies, the Jewish people had a series of bad leaders leading to disastrous results. In our own day and age, the great leaders after the Holocaust rebuild Jewry.  Unfortunately there were those who despite their greatness felt a need to disparage other leaders.   Pre WW II, when Europe was burning there were those leaders who understood that the salvation for Jewry was Eretz Yisroel. In the 1880s Admor Dovid Morgenstern’s son, Reb Chaim Yisroel M’Pilav understood this and tried to change the dynamic. The Meshech Chocmoh understood this and while not directly agreeing with Rabbi Avraham Yitzchok Kook, agreed in principal with him. In secular Jewry, Herzl changed everything and in the heavens they were praying that Herzl would succeed. Jabotinsky also got it. Many, many Gedolim understood it, but could not make the necessary changes. The Agudah got it in 1937.

Rashi on Verse 16 seems to contradict the above and that Moshe was asking for selfish reasons.

Artscroll put the two together and says that Moshe desired a successor and he truly felt that he son could be that person. It was a benign request of God. However, the language used by the Medresh Tanchuma Sefrei is harsh, as if Rashi is saying time for me to take care of my own. After all, the opening Rashi on Verse 15 is also harsh.

 Verse 16:

Let the Lord… appoint: When Moses heard that the Omnipresent told him to give Zelophehad’s inheritance to his daughters, he said, “It is time to ask for my own needs-that my son should inherit my high position.” The Holy One, blessed is He, said to him, That is not My intention, for Joshua deserves to be rewarded for his service, for he “would not depart from the tent” (Exod. 33:11). This is what Solomon meant when he said, “He who guards the fig tree eats its fruit” (Prov. 27:18). – [Mid. Tanchuma Pinchas 11],

Another question on Rashi – You would think that Moshe would have thought to ask for his sons to succeed him would have happened after Moshe heard that he is going to die. Perhaps Rashi means both.

Another question – Rashi says that Joshua was rewarded for his service. Does this mean that Joshua was a worthy leader, or with  Moshe by laying his hands on Joshua thereby passing the mantle of leadership, and this instilled in Joshua a leadership force.  (The magic wand). The Ksav Sofer says that Joshua was a capable leader. A person to become a leader must have “Shimosh”. He must learn and observe from a teacher, a leader and once he absorbed all that he saw, how his teacher treated people, how people asked questions, then he can succeed him. Joshua observed all this. Not only that we know that Joshua led the fight against Amalek, Exodus 17, Verses 9 and 10. Joshua was this person through his dedication to Moshe.

 Verse 17:

Verse 17 repeats itself. The leader is to take the people out and lead them back in twice. What does it mean “and back in”.

The final Verse that can be questioned:

 Verse 19:

יט  וְהַעֲמַדְתָּ אֹתוֹ לִפְנֵי אֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן וְלִפְנֵי כָּל הָעֵדָה וְצִוִּיתָה אֹתוֹ לְעֵינֵיהֶם:

19And you shall present him before Eleazar the kohen and before the entire congregation, and you shall command him in their presence.

Rashi says:

And you shall command him: Concerning Israel; be aware that they are troublesome and obstinate. [You accept office] on condition that you take upon yourself [all this]. – [See Sifrei Beha’alothecha 42]

This command was said in their presence”. In front of the entire congregation Moshe told Joshua they are troublesome and obstinate. We have a beautiful moment and the people of Israel are criticized. Why say anything negative at this time. Joshua saw everything that Moshe went through and knows all this. If you want to criticize, put a positive spin on it. Why not say, yes that are troublesome, but they are a holy nation, well worth the sacrifice. They are a great people. Maybe that is what was actually said.

It appears that this Rashi is his own explanation.   My initial reaction is that Rashi is focusing on the words        לְעֵינֵיהֶם   “in their presence”, even though it is not part of the Divrei Hamaschil of Rashi.    This word is extra because the Verse already said that Joshua is standing before the entire congregation.

On initial glance Rashi appears to be rebuking the Jewish people. The Ranban asks this question on Rashi and says that these words of rebuke were not said in front of the people. But rather privately to Joshua.   We still have to understand Rashi.

I was looking in Rabbi Munk’s Sefer and I noticed something. The same word,   לְעֵינֵיהֶם is used five Verses earlier when God told Moshe the reason why Moshe will not be going into Israel with the Jewish people , “ because Moshe did not  to sanctify Me through the water before their eyes   “לְעֵינֵיהֶם“.

I believe that Rashi agrees with the Ranban,  but Rashi is telling us that God told Moshe to command Joshua about the “לְעֵינֵיהֶם “. Remember what happened to me, how I let my anger get the better of me and was punished, do not let this happen to you.   This was not done publicly, but privately.   This verse is explained both ways.   Pashut Pshat like the Ranban, but the deeper explanation is that privately Moshe told Joshua, this is serious business. You will be provoked, etc.

 

 

 

 

Parshas Eikev

The Siege, The Story of Israel and Zionism

This morning September 6, 2014, I saw my friend Hart Hasten in Shul. I mentioned to him that I was reading the book, The Siege, The Story of Israel and Zionism, written by Conor O’Brien, an Irish diplomat. Hart Hasten mentioned that he brought in Conor O’Brien years ago to speak and that Conor O’Brien gave him a number of autographed copies of the book. I have to post the following essay I sent to Yair Hoffman on Parshas Eikev.

Yair:

I read your Parsha Sheet on Eikav.

Shabbos morning I continued my reading of Conor O’Brien’s book titled, “The Siege, The Story of Israel and Zionism”.  It is clear that the Jews were being kicked out of Europe.  It started in 1881 with the Tzar’s decrees and pogroms.    I have written about this on my blog.

How should the Jews have reacted in 1881 moving forward?   Per Amos Elon, the Sfes Emes in 1903 said in response to Herzl that Mosiach can only come through miraculous means, clearly rejecting Herzl and by doing so rejects the Gra’s approach, the Besht, Reb Tzvi Hersh Kalisher, and my Zedi, the Pilaver Rebbe.  Yes – the Gra believed that Moshiach could come via natural means, worked towards bringing Messiach, and sent his students to Israel to start the process.  All these great leaders felt the Moshiach can arrive and probably will come through natural means.   At the time of  Ezra the Jews returned back to Israel by natural means and built the second Temple.  Despite the chance to go back to Israel, a majority of Jews decided to stay in Babylonia, and of the Jews who went to Israel many had non-Jewish wives.  We did have Ezra, who was a prophet.

It is easy to say, do Tshuva, and everything will be okay.  It is easy for right -wing Orthodoxy to say blame the Jews for their own misfortune, after all they are sinners.  This is the standard response of right-wing Orthodox Judaism; however, life is messy and complicated.   The Jews of the Pale of Settlement were basically Frum, yet the Czar went after them with cruel abandon.  We do not know Hashem’s considerations.

After reading some more of The Siege, I had to read through Eikav before going to Shul to find insight.  I did not have any time to read through the Rishonim.  I did not have the Sefer Menachem Tzion from Rabbi Menachem B. Sachs, son-in-law of Reb Tzvi Pesach Frank, for a Zionistic vort on the Sedra.   No insight.   Based on the Sedra, it would appear questionable as to how the Jews merited entering the land of  Israel, the first and second Temples due to their apparent sins.  A generation or two after entering Israel, some Jews worshipped idols.  Moshe Rabbinu’s own grandson was a priest to idol worshippers.

Perhaps the insight is that the Jews are not perfect because life is complicated and messy.  We do not know the ways of Hashem. Perhaps we have to be positive, optimistic, and look at everyone with eyes of Reb Avrohom Yitzchok Kook.  We have to look at life with the approach of Amcha Kulum Kedoshim – your entire Nation is Holy.   We have to be Lubavitch in America. Clearly the Jews were being kicked out of Europe. Perhaps this is what was missed.

Megilah 12A – Missed Opportunity – History Repeats Itself

July 24, 2014

The war in Gaza is continuing.  Let us hope for peace and security.  

 This morning in Daf Yomi I learned an amazing Gemara. It almost mirrors events in the Jewish world from the late 1700s to 1948. It mirrors the period of time when the students of the Besht and Gra start to move back to Israel to settle the land and bring the Messiah, and ends in 1948 when a Jewish state is created, and Jews have a homeland.

 The Gemara in Megillah 11b, brings down two verses that talks about the 70 years in which the Jews will be in the Babylonian exile.   

 Yirmiyahu – Jeremiah Chapter 29, Verse 10

1) . כִּי כֹה אָמַר יְהֹוָה כִּי לְפִי מְלֹאת לְבָבֶל שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה אֶפְקֹד אֶתְכֶם וַהֲקִמֹתִי עֲלֵיכֶם אֶת דְּבָרִי הַטּוֹב לְהָשִׁיב אֶתְכֶם אֶל הַמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה:

 10. For so said the Lord: For at the completion of seventy years of Babylon I will remember you, and I will fulfill My good word toward you, to restore you to this place.

 Daniel – Chapter 9, Verse 2

ב. בִּשְׁנַת אַחַת לְמָלְכוֹ אֲנִי דָּנִיֵּאל בִּינֹתִי בַּסְּפָרִים מִסְפַּר הַשָּׁנִים אֲשֶׁר הָיָה דְבַר יְהֹוָה אֶל יִרְמִיָה הַנָּבִיא לְמַלֹּאות לְחָרְבוֹת יְרוּשָׁלִַם שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה:

 In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, contemplated the calculations, the number of the years that the word of the Lord had come to Jeremiah the prophet, since the destruction of Jerusalem seventy years.

 These two Verses that talk about the 70 year exile, uses different terms for the 70 years. Daniel 9:2 talks about “70 years after the destruction of Jerusalem” and Yirmiyahu talks about “For at the completion of seventy years of Babylon.” At first I thought that the two verses referred to the same start time, the destruction of Jerusalem, the language is different but the meaning is the same. 

However the Gemara on 12a says that these two verses are two different 70 year periods.   Yirmiyahu 29:10 starts when Babylonia became a world power and ended 70 years later when Cyrus took power a few years before the reign of Ahasveiros.

The following is the Talmud on 12a:

“Still, there is a contradiction between the texts? It is written [in one], For at the completion of the 70 years of Babylon the jews will be restored to Israel and it is written [in the other], 70 years afer the destruction of Jerusalem the Jews will be returned to Israel.

 Raba replied: [The first term] was for a remembernce only, and this was fulfilled, as it is written, Thus said Cyrus king of Persia,  God has made me the ruler of the entire world and he has commanded to build him a house in Jerusalem.

 Rav Nachman son of Rav Hisda gave the following exposition. What is the meaning of the verse, Thus said the Lord to his “anointed”  to Cyrus, whose right hand I have taken hold. Now was Cyrus the anointed as a king by the Lord?   Rather what it means is: The Holy One, blessed be He, said to the Messiah: I have a complaint on your behalf against Cyrus. I said, He shall build my house and gather my exiles, and he [merely] said, Whosoever there is among you of all his people, let him go up to Jerusalem (but did not command all to return).

This Gemara is saying that both 70 year terms are true.  Cyrus should have forced the Jews to go back to Israel, built the Temple, and the Messiah would have come during the reign of Cyrus and before Achashveirosh. AMAZING. This would be done via the efforts of a non-Jewish king, and through natural means. Haflah V’Phalah.   The prophecy of the 70 years in Yirmiyahu 29:10 would have come true with Cyrus initiating the return back to Eretz Yisroel and not through miraculous means. In fact the Rashba says that a Jewish king who had been dead for 100 years would come back to life to lead the Jewish people.

 However Cyrus failed, not because he did not start the process. He did start the process, but he did not force the issue and was not strong enough in his efforts.  The failure of Cyrus led to the prophecy of Daniel 9:2 as the actual period of time for the 70 year exile. The return to Eretz Yisroel starts 19 years later when Darius the son of Achashveirosh and Esther allows the Jews to move back to their homeland and rebuild the Temple.  He was Jewish, but presumably, a Persian.  No open miracles.  Despite a Jewish homeland, most Jews elect to stay in Babylonia.

Fast forward to the late 1700s when the Gra’s and the Besht’s students go to Israel to start the process of settling Israel and bringing the Messiah, all through natural means.

Fast forward to 1881, 2 million Jews of white Russia are forced to leave their homeland, there were stirrings of a return to Israel, the Chovevi Zion society is formed, Herzl sees the Dreyfus trial and proposes the Jewish State.  My Zedi, the holy Pilivar – Kotzker Rebbe writes in his book, written in 1885+-, that the land of Israel should be purchased from the Ottoman-Turkish empire to resettle Jews. The Jews must create an agricultural society so that people will have industry and have a means of livelihood. He writes that there is no Mitzvah to settle in Israel to be supported by the diaspora through charity funds. He envisioned an agricultural society, back to the land.   He asks, why are tens of thousands of Jews going to America, when God promised Israel, the land flowing with milk and honey to the Jewish people.

 The Ottoman- Turkish empire refuses to sell the land in the 1880s, however, in 1917 we have the Balfour Declaration. Jews can go en masse to Israel. However, not enough go to Eretz Israel, and stay trapped in Europe. Hitler comes to power and wants to destroy the Jewish people. Unlike the plot of Haman, which was foiled, Hitler destroys European Jewry. The Jews are finally able to get to Israel and create a State of their own.