Monday, May 23, 2016

Shabbat Callah Of Bracha Tehilla

              The last Shabbat callah where I gave a dvar torah was for our beloved daughter Esther Dina (Esti) of blessed memory who passed away  three months ago. Of the hundreds who visited us during the shiva to express their condolences many left us with the wish that we would next meet at a happier occasion. Hashem heard their prayer and the day after the 30 day period of mourning our youngest daughter,Bracha Tehilla came with her intended chatan,Yeshurun Eitam to announce that they are planning to get married. The Kabbalist mystics tell us that during the first year after passing the soul of the departed visits this world. I feel Esti's presence here among us and I am sure that she shares our joy on the occasion of the marriage tomorrow Gd willing of Tehilla to Yeshurun.

           This dvar Torah is really a dvar Midrash. The Midrash is the compilation of stories and legends composed by Rabbinic scholars in the third and fourth century to explain what is betwen the lines of the Torah. At that time the land of Israel was ruled by the Romans. The Jewish community was still recovering from the disaster of the Bar Cochba rebellion where over 100,000 Jews were killed and the land almost completely destroyed. At the same time the Romans were going through a period of questioning their pagan religion which would result eventually in the emporer Constantine declaring Christianity as the official religion of Rome, but many were also interested in Judaism.

         The Midrash tells us that the wife of the Roman governor called the "Matrona" invited one of the great Rabbis of the Jerusalem Talmud,R'Yossi ben Chalafta to explain Jewish Theology.She asked him" What is the greatest thing your GD has done in the world?" He answered" Gd created the world and all that is in it."She replied "We believe that the world was not created but always existed and Jupiter rules it together with many lesser gods.But for arguments sake lets say I agree that the world was created in 6 days as you say.What has Gd done in the world since then?" R' Yosi replied " It is only because of the will of Gd that the natural world continues to function.As to what Gd does_ He doesn't interfere in the natural world except in special cases like the miracle of the parting of the Red sea during the Exodus from Egypt. But there is one miracle that he performs every day which is even greater then the miracle of the parting of the red sea,and that is the joining of male and female into one unit. The Matron laughed at this." The mating of male and female is a natural event. Our god Jupiter doesn't bother himself with this but leaves it to one of the lesser gods named Cupid."I myself am sure that I can do a better job at matchmaking than your Gd,and to prove it I will match 50male slaves with 50 female slaves."  Rabbi Yosi replied"You are very wrong if you think that the joining of male and female is a natural event. It is rather a divine gift,but good luck. I will return in a month to see if you succeed.

                The Matron was as good as her word. She gathered100 slaves and told the 50 male slaves to choose the females they were most attracted to. On that day 50 marriages were contracted and the slaves were set free to start their lives as couples. After a week the troubles began. All the men came to the Matron begging her to annul the marriages. "I don't understand" she said, you picked the women yourselves.What happened? They said "After we got what we wanted on the first night we found that we could not live with these women. We would rather be slaves of the Matron than slaves to these women!!

The Matron immediately sent for Rabbi Yosi. She said "You were absolutely right.Mating is not a natural process like it is with animals. It seems that Gd himself must intervene for it to work.But I still dont understand the connection between the miracle of marriage and the parting of the Red Sea    Rabbi Yosi replied "Well you see my lady that when Gd created the first man,Adam, he was created androgenous-that is to say there was both a male and female persona within him. He was created in the image of Gd who himself has both male and female attributes. Only as an afterthought Gd said that it is not good for Man to be alone,I will make a helpmate for him. He then separated the female from the male persona and created woman(this is the parable of "Adam's rib). The miracle of marriage is that these two can come together even though in many ways they are opposites. The separation and conjoining of Man and Woman is a greater miracle than the parting of the Red Sea         The Matron said you are wise and your people are wise.  Now tell me how to become a Jewess

             Forty days before conception a heavenly voice proclaimed "The son of Efraim Eitam is meant for the daughter of David ben Elchanan Tzohar" But we must ask if there is divine intervention in matchmaking,why is it so difficult for Gd who is all powerful and all knowing.And more to the point why doesn't it always work out. Why is divorce permitted and even commanded in some cases.  The answer is that there is something besides the divine imperative in matchmaking.The Talmud states that in general the divine imperative decides, except in three special cases- Longevity,Sustenance and Family. In family matters there is something working besides the divine imperative. In Yiddish this is called "bashert" meaning fated or meant to be. Rav Kook in Orot HaKodesh teaches us that our destiny is not fated but depends on ourselves. This means that every prospective bridegroom must make an effort to find his determined bride.

A boy and girl who grew up together in settlements 5 miles from each other till age 6 in the Golan Heights found each other 20 years later in Jerusalem! If thats not bashert what is?! Gd willing we will witness on sunday the joining of the two halves-Yeshurun ben Efraim ve Illit Eitam with Bracha Tehilla bat David ve Risa Tzohar....MAZAL TOV

Monday, February 9, 2015

                                                  Case for the establishment of Monarchy In Israel

                                                 It's election time again and the various parties have opened a dirty campaign slinging mud at each other. The level is remarkably shallow concentrating on personal slu rs directed at Bibi and his wife. The same is true of Buji and Tzippy  And when its all over the shuk of parliamentry democracy with its deals and horse trading to form a ruling coalition begins.The messy parliamentry democracy in Israel could use a change.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       WE should look to our sources, our history.Kings ruled over the people and land of Israel for over 400 years from Saul to Tzidkiyahu Then again in the second temple the Hashmonaim established a kingdom for 2oo years.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
                                                          THe ideal would be for melech hamashiach ben David to come and declare the kingdom of G-d,that is what we are all waiting for. But until that happens why not set up a provisional malchut like that of the Hashmoniaim.?The people would elect a King (som tasim aleicha melech).This malchut would turn over its power to the Mashiach we he arrives. A Sanhedrin would also be appointed by gedolei chachamei yisrael to serve as supreme court/legislature.There would be no coalition, only the king and his officers and officials                                                                               at                                                                                                                                                                                                       It is interesting to note that the famed mystic "haCHalban has announced that Mashiach benYosef is likely to be born this year to a family that can trace its roots to to Yehoshua bin Nun. He will come and establish malchut in Israel,defeat our enemies and begin building beit ha Mikdosh.Bimhera beyameinu amen!!!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Light Up he Word

The word "teiva"  means not only Noah''s ark but also means "word". The Baal Shem Tov said tzohar la teiva mean that we must light up the word with prayers and torah learning.Every letter contains worlds of spiritual and divine content and when they come together they create new spiritual worlds. This is the tzohar (light) lateiva (word). Then a person can rejoice in the new  entities that he has created

                                                                                                           Baal Shem Tov, Amud HaTefilla,

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Obligation of Living in Israel

                                           Based on shiur given by HRHG Shmuel  Eliyahu
In many passages in the Torah the land of Israel is related to in three ways.
1-The fulfillment of the covenant between Hashem  and the patriarchs..
2-The commandment to obey the mitzvot when you come to possess the land
3-The commandment to conquer the land and settle it
 There is a commandment to conquer the land and to conquer its inhabitants..
Dev.1:5See I have set before you the Land, the Land which was sworn by Hashem to your fathers,....
Baidbar 33:51-And you will disposess all the inhabitants thereof.

On this commandment the RMBN wrote(lacunae to Sefer Ha mitzvot laRMBM 5)
"We are commanded to possess(inherit)  the Land....not to leave it to anyone else or a wasteland as it  is written "possess the Land and settle it for I have given it to you as an inheritance.

The commandment of  conquest and settlement and the promise of the land are one and the  same.While there can be some interpretation of the individual passages, taken together the promise and the commandment are clear.

The obligation of settling the Land of Israel is also clear in Halacha.
The source is the Mishna
which states Ketubot 13-11 "all are brought up(to Israel) and none are taken away and why? Elsewhere the Gemarra states that he who dwells outside of Israeli is as if he 
has no G-d.Both the RIF and the ROSH Write this in the halacha.
The RMBM paskens in Hil. Melachim3,4That one should always live in Eretz Yisrael even in a city of mostly Gentiles.Because he who goes abroad is  likened to an idolater
The ShulchanAruch (Even HaEzer 75-3,4)rules according to the RMBM..The Pitchei Tshuva explains that the RMBN  counted this mitzvah as a positive Torah commandment which according to the Sifri is worth all of the  mitzvot together.RMBM doesn't disagree, but  since the mitzvah is so all encompassing he did  
 notlist it seperately.

Here I rest my case.A simple one really no chiddushim. If Shabbat is important to you or tefillin or tzizit,or any of the mitzvot,then Aliya and living in Israel should be just as important


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tzohar Shoah and Geulah

Based on a sicha given by Rav Uri Sherky

How can we begin to understand the national catastrophe perpetrated on our people by the Nazis and their collaborators YmSh ? First of all we must understand that this was not the first Shoah in Jewish history. That took place in Pharo's Egypt where Hebrew children were thrown into the Nile and according to one peirush only20% of the Hebrews left Egypt in the Exodus while 80% were annihilated. Another Shoah was planned and almost carried out by Haman averted only by the mesirut nefesh of Esther and Mordechai and the Jews who defended their communities in Shushan and throughout the Persian Empire

What do we learn from this? Whenever Galut precedes Geulah there is an intermediate time which is the time of Amalek The Ramchal put it this way-During the Galut the divine light comes to Israel through a Tzohar, a narrow aperture or window.In the time of Geula, the gates of redemption are open tolGeulah in the divine light. But in the cusp between Galut and Geulah there is a time when darkness reigns and Amalek rules.

This happened in the Exodus from Egypt before the conquest of Yehoshuah. And again in the time of Haman  between the Babylonian Exile and the return to Zion and the second Temple.

And lastly at the end of Galut Edom and before the Geulah of the State of IsraelsThis perspective might help us understand-But in the end the Shoah is beyond understanding.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

God Bless America

We recenly returned from a short trip to the US to visit my parents who live in an assisted living community in Pennsylvania and especially to be with Risa's mother who is housebound and lives alone in her home in the  neighborhood of  Hilcrest  in Queens NY.

As always when I visit the US i am frustrated by seeing the affluent self satisfied .Jewish community which is completely indifferent  to the idea of Aliyah to Israel This community is exemplified by the Young Israel Synagogue of Hillcrest located not far from my Mother-inLaw's home. It is a big Modern Orthodox "shule" that has four active minyanim, three daf yomi shiurim, a young charismatic Rabbi (who gave a nice Pro Israel drasha on Shabbat.In short they seem to have everything. And yet I felt like getting up and shouting Jews WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE??  Can it really be that these religious comitted Jews are content to sit on the sidelines and watch as the divine march of Redemption continues in Eretz Yisrael? (see my post in Hebrew from two years ago "The golden Galut")

Speaking of sidelines, I happened to be in America during "Super Bowl Week" and Super Bowl  Sunday, a festival where the entire country is caught up in the ultimate violent sport-American Football. Ironically before the game a choir made up of children from the school in Conneticut that was the place of the massacre of over twenty children a few weeks ago. They sung GD Bless America. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. An interesting phenomena was that instead of the bawdy halftime show, Yeshiva University put up a special program on You Tube telling us about Yiddishkeit and football. Team play, Rambam praising physical fitness yadda yadda yadda. Really strange.

So GD bless America, far far away from us.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The King in the field-Ellul in the Yeshiva

The month of Ellul, the month before Rosh Hashana is a special time in the Yeshiva. The word Ellul is an acronym for Ani Ledodi Vdodi Li.From Shir Ha SHirim "I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me" relating to the special relationship of the Jewish People to Hashem.The last letter of the four words is yud numerically 10x4=40 denoting the 40 days between rosh chodesh Ellul and Yom Kippur, the same 40 days that Moshe entreated Gd on Mt. Sinai to forgive The sin of the golden calf and give the second tablets of the commandments. Ellul also is connected to the Aramaic root A-L-L which means to come and specifically to come in order too seek out. Onkelos translates spies-allalin.,those who come to seek out the land
Who is coming and what is he seeking?. The Sages tell us that during the year Hashem is like a king in his palace and the commoners must be granted special permission to enter. But in the month of Ellul, before his coronation the king leaves the palace and goes into the fields to meet his subjects This is the time that the King is closest to his people..

Yeshivat Machon Meir is known as the "ba'al teshuva Yeshiva" of the Dati Leumi community . That was true 20 years ago when I first attended the Yeshiva. Most of the 100 or so students were men who came from secular backgrounds and were taking their first steps toward the world of Torah and commandments.Today with over 400 students there avreichim and talmidei chachamim along with Ba'alei Teshuvah.

The personality of Rosh Yeshiva , Rav Dov Bigon, himself a ba'al teshuva, is the leading light of the yeshiva. He has"hadrat panim' a glowing countenance that radiates tremendous charisma and at the same time total humility.Before tefillat Arvit he gives a short "shmuss", a discussion based on the teachings of Rav Avraham Yitzchak Hacohen Kook. HaRav taught that teshuva,  usually translated as repentance,  really means "return" that every Jew has the ability to return to his real self, his pure inner self whose source is divine. This is so no matter how far he has strayed from the path of Torah and mitzvot.

In Ellul when "the King is in the Field" there is an aura of kedusha, of holiness in the Yeshiva. When we can search our souls and ask forgiveness in order to participate in the crowning of the King on Rosh Hashana.
The dovening is very different than what I had gotten used to in my shul in Rechovot. The Rav there was Rav Avraham Rubin a Slonim Chassid. Slonim Chassidut takes dovening very seriously. The Rav used to say to us "Prayer is not a sing-along, it is not entertainment, but communion with the divine that requires total concentration.At Yeshivat Machon Meir the dovening is full of song, much of it influenced by niggunim from the Chassidic courts of  Mozhitz, Vizhnitz and also modern tunes of Shlomo Carlebach,, Avraham Fried and Ben-tzion Shenker. To me there is no contradiction here. Kriat shema and shmoneh esrei are said silently and with great concentration, but songs of praise are sung with joy and exuberance. There is even dancing on Kabbalat Shabbat. This is in line with the synthesis of  the seriousness of the Litvish Yeshiva world together with the unbridled joy of Chassidut that you find in the Yeshivas such as Machon Meir which are identified with Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav Kook and Har HaMor.

It is a great privilege to learn Torah from Rabbanim such as R' Bigon, Doron Katz,Chanoch Ben-Pazi, and Elisha Vishlitzki. May Hashem give me the strength to take advantage of this opportunity to meet the King in the field with his ministers. who show us the way to approach Him and crown him with the crown of Torah.