Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Morning Thought...

As a person goes over to unwrap their Tefillin each morning, they should understand that they are about to unwrap and use one of the best gifts a person could possibly get... 

Friday, May 11, 2018

Parshas Behar and Bechukosai Messages 5778

Parshas Behar:

And you shall not wrong your fellow’ (Vayikra 25:17)

Here is a warning against hurting through words, that a person should not provoke [alt. tease] their fellow; he should not give advice that is not upright for him [i.e. we may not try to advise a person something that will hurt them]... And if you will say, “Who will know if I intended for bad?” Therefore it says, ‘and you shall fear of your G-d’ -- the One Who knows thoughts will know…

(Rashi HaKadosh from Gemara Bava Metzia 58b)


And if you will say, “What will we eat in the seventh year? -- Behold we will not plant and we will not gather in our produce!” And I [Hashem] will command My blessing for you in the sixth year, and it will make produce for three years.’ (Vayikra 25:20-21)

Here the Torah reveals to us the wonderful truth and realization that when we keep Hashem’s Commandments, we will never lose out, no matter how things seem.  

Naturally, a person would think that if they don’t plant or harvest for a full year, things would get very serious with regards to food shortage.  But Hashem tells us otherwise: If we keep the laws of the Shemittah (Sabbatical) year, we will be taken care of completely and actually get more* -- and further yet, as is known, we will also earn great eternal reward for it!  Such is the case as well for the other Laws of the Torah…

(Tal U’Matar)

* See Ramban and Sforno to 25:3.


Maaseh B’Rabbi…

A Rav was giving a drosha (sermon) in a large Beis Midrash in Eretz Yisrael, and everyone was listening with respect, and enjoying his inspiring ideas.  But there were two people, seated in the back of the Beis Midrash speaking throughout the drosha, and this disturbed the Rav.

After the speech, everyone came forward to thank the Rav, those two men included.  The Rav asked them, “But did you hear anything?  I saw you speaking the entire time.”
One of them explained, “My friend speaks only English.  He asked me to sit next to him, so I could translate the Rav’s drosha to him.”
The Rav repeated this story, to demonstrate how one must always judge his fellow man favorably.

(Brought in Torah Wellsprings)


A Gut Shabbos to all!


Parshas Bechukosai:

The Sages Say:

If you will go in My Statutes…’ (Vayikra 26:3)

That you should be toiling in Torah.

(Rashi HaKadosh from Toras Kohanim)


A Helpful Hint:

There are 78 verses in Parshas Bechukosai, which is the Gematria (numerical value) of the word חמל -- similar to חמלה, ‘compassion’.  This alludes to the blessings and curses talked about in much of the Parsha, which both truly come from -- and are manifestations of -- Hashem’s great compassion for us.  

(Tal U’Matar)


A “Lamdanishe” Insight:

And I will put My Dwelling Place in your midst, and My “soul” will not abhor you.’ (Vayikra 26:11)

The Torah speaks here about people who are toiling in Torah, fulfilling all of the Mitzvos and doing the will of Hashem.  Hashem says that He will bless them with rains, fruitful bounties, peace, security, the Beis HaMikdash, and many, many other blessings.  One of these other blessings is, ‘My “soul” will not abhor you.’ Rashi HaKadosh explains this in its plain meaning, ‘My soul will not despise you.’   

The Ramban zt”l asks on Rashi:  What is the meaning of blessing a people who are fulfilling all the Mitzvos and doing His will, with the blessing that He will not despise them?  Is then the reward for being Tzaddikim and doing all of the Mitzvos, nothing more than the passive negative fact that Hashem will not despise them?  

Furthermore, the Ramban asks, even when the Bnei Yisroel transgress, Hashem promised them, ‘I shall not despise them, and I will not abhor them’ (Vayikra 26:44).  Surely, should not the reward for fulfilling the Mitzvos be more substantial than “My soul shall not despise you!”

Rabbeinu Ovadiah of Bartenura zt”l wishes to give a new perspective on Rashi, thereby answering both of the above questions:  The Bartenura states that, in fact, Rashi himself, in-between the lines means to ask the Ramban’s questions.  Rashi addresses himself to this and answers that, indeed, the meaning of “My soul shall not abhor you” is that Hashem shall not despise you, but with an entirely different focus.  The Torah speaks in the language that people generally employ. It is common for a person who loves his friend dearly to eventually tire of him and despise him because of his constant proximity to him, for “familiarity breeds contempt”.  Therefore, Hashem tells us that He will never despise us nor become tired of us. The Ramban’s questions on Rashi are now beautifully answered, since the new meaning of “My soul shall not abhor you” is that Hashem is actually promising a positive reward for those who fulfill His Mitzvos.  This reward is that His love for Klal Yisroel shall never wane nor erode, forever enduring with all its inherent vitality.

Thus, according to Rabbeinu Ovadiah of Bartenura, Hashem is promising and assuring all those who toil in Torah and observe His Mitzvos that, “My Love for you shall never wane.” Hashem is saying, “I am not like a human being, whose love for his friend wears off through frequency of interaction and acclimation.” A human relationship can decline over time, and lose its vitality and vigor.  Even the best of friends can tire of and become bored with each other with the passage of time. By contrast, Hashem is confirming to us that His boundless Love for us will endure forever, never lessening nor eroding even one iota.

(From a Dvar Torah of my Rebbe, HaRav Elyakim Rosenblatt shlit”a)


Mussar Message:

In the famous Tochachah (Rebuke), where we read about the bad things that will befall us if, Chas V’Shalom, we do not listen to Hashem and keep His Commandments, there is a phrase that appears various times:  Hashem warns us what will happen if הלכה עמי קרי -- we go with Him in a “chance-occurence” way (see Rashi HaKadosh to 26:21), קרי being a language similar to מקרה, ‘happening’.  

But there is another possible meaning of the word קרי; various later Gedolim explain that it can be related to the word קר -- ‘cold’, thus translating the above phrase as speaking about if we go with Hashem coldly.  

The truth is that coldness, in whatever manner it manifests itself, is something we must personally strive to overcome in our own lives.  For, Judaism is not about just mechanically “going through the motions” of the Mitzvos:  There needs to be a holy fire and passion with them -- a burning desire to do the Will of Hashem!  We must work to cultivate varmkeit (warmness) in our Service of the Blessed Creator.


The Gemara tells us in one place (Berachos 33b) that everything is in the Hands of Heaven except for the fear of Heaven (i.e. that everything is in Hashem’s control, except for the choice of our actions, as He gives to us free will), but in another (Bava Metzia 107b) it says that everything is in the Hands of Heaven except for blowing cold.*

There appear to be a couple of difficulties here:  Firstly, is anything beyond Hashem? Yes, He has granted us free choice over our actions, but blowing cold?!  And secondly, if the first passage we quoted from the Gemara said that everything is the Hands of Heaven except for the fear of Heaven, then how can another come and say an additional thing?  It said ‘everything except for…’!  So the two sayings would seem contradictory!  

Truly though, there is no contradiction or problem whatsoever:  The blowing cold that the Gemara speaks of we may understand homiletically, and actually to be within the whole of ‘fear of Heaven.’ That is, ‘blowing cold’ coming over a person -- a wave of coldness and lack-of-feeling towards Hashem and people.  That is within the realm of our free choice, and thus it is up to us, with the Help of Hashem,* to overcome any waves of “blowing cold” that the Yetzer Hara (Evil Inclination) throws at us, and not, Chas V’Shalom, fall into ‘going coldly’.

(Tal U’Matar)

* According to Rashi HaKadosh.  According to Tosafos, however, it is ‘cold and heat’.  And our explanation that follows fits for this translation as well, Baruch Hashem.
* Of course, although He has granted us free choice, He inspires us and aids us in things.


Chazak V’ematz:

And any tithe of herd and flock; all that pass under the staff, the tenth shall be holy to Hashem.’ (Vayikra 27:32)

Says HaRav Avraham Yaakov HaKohen Pam zt”l:  The Mishnah in Bechoros (9:7) describes the procedure for tithing new born animals; the entire flock of animals born during the past season is put into a corral.  A narrow opening is made to assure that the animals can only be counted one at a time. Then the owner begins to count them with a staff: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine.  The animal which exits tenth is marked with a red dye and the owner announces, “This one is maaser (the tithe).”

This procedure is followed whether one has ten new animals or ten thousand.  The flock is lined up and tallied in this time-consuming manner. Couldn’t a more efficient way be found to calculate the maaser?  This question was posed by HaRav Eliezer Gordon zt”l, Rosh Yeshiva of Telshe in Lithuania.  On a fundraising mission, he once approached a wealthy industrialist, seeking a donation for his Yeshiva.  The man gasped in disbelief when Rav Gordon asked for a five hundred ruble donation. “Rebbe, do you know how much five hundred rubles is?  I can give you fifty rubles, or maybe even one hundred.  But five hundred? How can you request so much?” asked the man.  

Rav Gordon replied, “Are you familiar with the procedure of taking maaser from new born animals?”

“Surely, Rebbe,” he answered.

“Listen, you’re a businessman,” said Rav Gordon. “Wouldn’t it have been more efficient to first count all the animals and then deduct one tenth of them for maaser?  Why does the Torah require the owner to count them one at a time?...” The rich man was at a loss to answer this question.  

Rav Gordon replied, “Let me explain it to you.  If the Torah would tell a wealthy Jew to add up all his animals and then remove 10% of them, the person would be hard pressed to comply.  Therefore, the Torah prescribes the method of counting one’s flock. ‘One for me, two for me, three for me, four for me… eight for me, nine for me… and one for Hashem.’ The same procedure starts again. ‘One for me, two for me… nine for me… and one for Hashem.’ After a while, the owner will even feel a bit ashamed at taking so much for himself and giving so little to Hashem.  That will motivate him to separate the maaser with a joyful heart, in gratitude for how much he himself has.  This psychological insight will make it easier for the person to willingly fulfill his obligation.  

“My friend,” the Rav continued, “Hashem has blessed you with great wealth.  Among your many assets are factories, real estate, and shipping lines.  Look how much you have. So why can’t you give 500 rubles “back to Hashem”?”

Concludes Rav Pam zt”l; there are people who find it difficult to be charitable and share their good fortune with the needy.  By contemplating the many blessings that they have, it wouldn’t be so hard for them to part with some of these blessings to help the less fortunate.

(The Pleasant Way)


Maaseh B’Rabbi…

It was a cold, snowy winter afternoon in Mezibuzh, Ukraine, and the holy Baal Shem Tov zt”l was with his students when he made this very strange request: “Get the wagon ready -- I want to go down to the lake.” No one dared question their holy Rebbe’s intentions, and they quickly readied the wagon and rode down to the lake.  As they approached the ice-covered lake, they could see children playing on the ice.  As they got closer, they saw that the children were etching a big image of a cross into the ice.  The Baal Shem Tov departed the wagon and sat down to watch the children playing. The Chassidim couldn’t understand why their holy master wanted to sit and look at a bunch of children etch a cross into an ice-covered lake!  But still, they dared not question their Rebbe’s intentions.

After a few minutes, the Baal Shem Tov signaled that it was time to leave and they all boarded the wagon and rode back to town.  At this point, one of the students had the nerve to ask, “Rebbe, what was that all about?!” The Baal Shem Tov simply replied in a very somber voice, “When a Jew is icy-cold, it doesn’t take long before a cross is etched into his heart.”
(From a Dvar Torah of my Rebbe, HaRav Binyomin Goldstein shlit”a)


Chazak Chazak V’Nischazeik!  A Gut Shabbos to all!

Monday, May 7, 2018

HaRav Chaim Kanievsky shlit"a Taken to Hospital After Complaining of Not Feeling Well

YWN reports;  HaGaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita was taken to Mayanei HaYeshua Hospital in Bnei Brak on Monday, 22 Iyar, after complaining of not feeling well.
According to multiple news reports, the Gadol Hador has been running a fever, which has risen since Sunday. Rav Kanievsky stopped receiving visitors due to his weak state, and he was taken to be checked. It is reported that Baruch Hashem he is not in danger and doctors released him back to his home to rest.
According to Bichadrei Chareidim, there will be no visitors allowed into the home on Rashbam STreet until at least the end of the week.
The tzibur is asked to be mispallel for Shmaryahu Yosef Chaim ben Pesha Miriam bsoch sha’ar cholei yisrael.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)