Friday, October 28, 2011

The Tzohar Of Rav Mordechai Eilon

"עת צרה  היא ליעקב וממנה יושע"
איכה באה הישוע מתוך הצרה? אותיות  צרה  הם גם אותיות  רצה ו צהר  הצדיק מתוך רצון טהור לעשות רצון השם יכול להפוך חשכת  צרה לאור הצהר
 נועם אלימלך
"It is a time of trouble for Ya'akov and from (within) it  he will be saved"
 How does salvation come from within the trouble? The letters of the word for trouble צרה are also the letters for the words for will-רצה and  tzohar (the light in Noah's ark)  צהר
From the pure will to do the will of Hashem  a righteous person can  transform the darkness of misfortune  to the light of the tzohar.
Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhansk-Noam Elimelech  

This Shabbat is parashat Noach which is the parasha in which the word "tzohar" appears. I am always on the lookout for a new interpretation of tzohar (I already know of at least ten). My daughter was at the sheva brachot  celebration of the marriage of the son of Rav Mordechai Eilon last year on shabbat parashat Noach. She brought home a pamphlet with the dvar torah that the Rav gave which included a new (for me) interpretation of tzohar based on the Noam Elimelech quoted above.

First a few words about R'Mordechai Eilon. I consider him to be one of my Rebbes, one of the three or four Rabbis who most influenced me spiritually. When I was learning in Yeshiva in Yerushalayim I would go every week to hear the shiur he gave in the Yeshurun synagogue.Hundreds would come to this shiur. People would be standing in the aisles and three deep in the back. I would go a half an hour early to get a seat in the front.When Rav Motti (as he liked to be called) came in and took his place at the lectern you could feel the electricity in the air. Then Rav Motti would begin speaking in his deep mellifluous baritone and continue for an hour and a half without notes. His shiurim were a tapestry of pshat plus insights from baalai mussar and chassidut.I have never in my life seen or heard anyone with anywhere near the charsma of Rav Mordechai Eilon. In the quote from Noam Elimelech Rav Motti asks how can one be saved in a time of trouble. He knows whereof he speaks. Several years ago he was accused of "inappropriate behavior" involving two of his students. A self appointed "forum" of rabbanim and other leading personalities of the National Religious sector led by R' Aharon Lichtenstein summoned him for a hearing. Although he denied the charges he agreed to go into "galut" to the settlement of Migdal near the Kinneret. He agreed to this  to protect his accusers  so their names would not be  made public. His talmidim refused to accept this gezeira and flocked to Migdal to hear their Rebbe's Torah. Last year the Forum made the case public and Rav Motti came back to giving shiurim in Jerusalem and elsewhere. His shiurim now lean more toward pnimiut haTorah with Kabbalistic overtones and references to the Chassidic masters formost the Tanya of  Admor  Schneur Zalman of Lyadi founder of the Chabad movement. In the meantime he has had a hearing by the public prosecutor who has decided there is no case for an indictment.

This background explains why R' Eilon brought the peirush of the Noam Elimelech. From within his own troubles he found the strength to focus his will on disseminating Torah and through the confluence of  his will with the will of Hashem he became the tzohar la teivah, to bring the inner light of the Torah to Am Yisrael

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Siyyum Masaechet Challah Talmud Yerushalmi

                                                     This siyyum is dedicated to my dear sister Batsheva bat Chana Bluma   
                                   and her husband  Raphael ben Miryam may Hashem grant them perfect health

With the help of Hashem yitbarach I recently finished the study of another masechet of the Talmud Yerushalmi, masechet Challah. The general subject of the masechet is the mitzvah of hafrashat challah, taking a certain amount of the dough that is made from the five grains (wheat, oats barley spelt and rye) as an offering it to the Cohanim. According to the law of the Torah this is a mitzvah only in Eretz Yisrael but Chazal extended it to chutz laaretz with some differences in the observance of the mitzvah

The last Mishnsh in the masechet deals with  the laws of taking challah in chutz laaretz and goes on to compare it to the mitzvah of  bikkurim (first fruits) and asks if there is a case where bikkurim can be brought from chutz laaretz.. The gemarra learns the halacha from a case that came before the sages. A certain Jew named Ariston brought bikkurim from Apamia ( a region of Syria) and the sages accepted it. This requires an explanation since the basic law of the Torah is that bikkurim are only brought from Eretz Yisrael. We learned in the Mishna (48A) He who buys land in Syria is as if he bought land close to Jerusalem.That is to say that  Syria which was conquered by King David even though it is not part of the inheritance of the tribes promised by Hashem in the Torah, has some of the holiness of Eretz Yisrael and Chazal decided that it is permissable (although not obligatory) to bring bikkurim from those regions of Syria which were conquered by King David. The Bavli (Gittin 8A) says that it is permissable even to ask a non Jew to write a deed on Shabbat for the purchase of land in Syria. The Yerushalmi extends this to the bringing of bikkurim from Syria. The question remains why bikkurim is different than Truma which  definitely cannot be brought from chutz laaretz including Syria. This is difficult since in most respects bikkurim is similar to truma. The Yerushalmi explains that the difference is that bikkurim is the sole responsibility of he who brings it. He has the responsibility of bringing the bikkurim to the Kohen in the Temple, whereas truma is left on the threshing floor and the Kohen is himself responsible for taking it. If it were permissible to bring truma from Syria than the kohanim would be tempted to leave Eretz Yisrael and go to Syria to take the truma, and Syria even though it has some of the holiness of Eretz Yisrael it also has tumat eretz ha amim. There is no such problem with bikkurim since it must be brought to the Temple and the Kohen does not go out to get it.

There is another difference between truma and bikkurim. Truma is an obligation that must be given to the Kohen. Bikkurim on the other hand is more an expression of thanksgiving to Hashem for giving us the blessing of sustenence. I would learn a kal vachomer from bikkurim to limud Torah. If we express thanksgiving to Hashem tor granting us earthly blessings  how much more so must we thank Hashem for giving us the opportunity of learning his holy Torah, every masechet, perek and pasuk.

                                          Hadran alach masechet Challah