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

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