Erev Shabbos Kodesh Shabbos Masei Inspiration 5774


In this week’s parasha we find a puzzling verse in which the commentators all offer creative interpretations. It is said (Bamidbar 33:2) וַיִּכְתֹּב מֹשֶׁה אֶת מוֹצָאֵיהֶם לְמַסְעֵיהֶם עַל פִּי יְ-ה-וָ-ה וְאֵלֶּה מַסְעֵיהֶם לְמוֹצָאֵיהֶם, Moshe wrote their goings forth according to their journeys at the bidding of HaShem, and these were their journeys according to their goings forth. What does it mean  their goings forth?

The Gemara (Brachos 8a) states that when a couple married in Eretz Yisroel, people would say מצא or מוצא, did he find, i.e. (Mishlei 18:22)  מָצָא אִשָּׁה מָצָא טוֹב, one who has found a wife has found goodness, or was it (Koheles 7:26) וּמוֹצֶא אֲנִי מַר מִמָּוֶת אֶת הָאִשָּׁה, and I have discovered more bitter than death; the woman… We see from here that the word מוֹצֶא alludes to death.

When the Jews left Egypt, the Torah tells us (Bamidbar 33:4) וּמִצְרַיִם מְקַבְּרִים אֵת אֲשֶׁר הִכָּה יְ-ה-וָ-ה בָּהֶם כָּל בְּכוֹר וּבֵאלֹהֵיהֶם עָשָׂה יְ-ה-וָ-ה שְׁפָטִים, and the Egyptians were burying those among them whom HaShem had struck, every firstborn; and on their gods HaShem had inflicted punishments. Furthermore, the Jews had also been recently been engaged in burying their dead, as four fifths of the Jews in Egypt died because they were wicked. This, then is the meaning of the words “Moshe wrote their goings forth according to their journeys at the bidding of HaShem, and these were their journeys according to their goings forth.” When they left Egypt they left with their “goings forth,” they exited the the death arena and embarked on a journey to freedom from death. Had the Jews not worshiped the Golden Calf, they would have been free from the clutches of the Angel of Death. On account of their sins, including the sin of the spies, they proceeded on their journeys according to their goings forth, as all men above 20 and under 60 died in the Wilderness.

This idea is very sobering. Man begins his life with the potential to become free, which is reflected by our Sages in one who is preoccupied with the study of Torah. Yet, the forces of evil, with their diabolical schemes, lie in wait, hoping to ensnare the Jew and wreak havoc on his soul. HaShem should allow us to awaken from our slumber and engage in pursuits that will lead to our freedom, with the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily, in our days.

Have an awesome Shabbos, an ecstatic Rosh Chodesh, and חזק חזק ונתחזק!

Rabbi Adler

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Shabbos Matos Inspiration 5774


The Parasha discusses the presentation of the tribes of Gad and Reuven to Moshe, where they request land in עבר הירדן, Trans-Jordan, for their abundance of cattle. Moshe immediately becomes upset with their request and accuses them of dissuading the Jewish People from crossing over into Eretz Yisroel. The two tribes then commit to joining the battle for the Land and that they will not return to their homes until the Jewish People have inherited the Land. Moshe acquiesces and a deal is struck. The Medrash chastises the two tribes for “rushing into things” and the punishment was that the tribes of Gad and Reuven were exiled first from all the other tribes.

While it is clear that the two tribes should have employed a more humble and deliberate approach, it is not clear from the narrative where their essential fault was. They had an abundance of cattle and the land that they desired was a place for livestock. What was so wrong with their demand?

When Chava gave birth to her first son, it is said (Bereishis 4:1) וַתֹּאמֶר קָנִיתִי אִישׁ אֶת יְ-ה-וָ-ה, and she said, “I have acquired a man with HaShem.” What does this mean? On the surface we can say that Chava was intimating that there are three partners in a child, HaShem, man and woman. The Zohar, however, states that Chava saw with Ruach HaKodesh, the Divine Spirit, that Kayin would have a descendant (perhaps not literally, as Kayin and his family were wiped out in the Great Flood), Yisro, also known as the קֵּינִי, whose descendants would earn themselves a place in the לשכת הגזית, the Hewn Chamber in the Bais HaMikdash. Thus, the Zohar is interpreting the verse to mean that Chava foresaw spirituality with her new קנין, acquisition. Perhaps this was the error of the two tribes in their request. They had a lot of מִקְנֶה, livestock (also similar to the word קנין) but they did not attribute that livestock to HaShem. Rather, they relied on the proverbial (Devarim 8:17) כֹּחִי וְעֹצֶם יָדִי עָשָׂה לִי אֶת הַחַיִל הַזֶּה, “my strength and the might of my hand made me all this wealth.” When one does not view his acquaintances coming from HaShem, the chances of success are limited, as is evident in the case of the two tribes. It is noteworthy that the words וּמִקְנֶה רַב הָיָה לִבְנֵי רְאוּבֵן וְלִבְנֵי גָד עָצוּם מְאֹד, the children of Reuven and the children of Gad had abundant livestock, equal in gematria the words כֹּחִי עֹצֶם יָדִי עָשָׂה לִי אֶת הַחַיִל, “my strength [and] the might of my hand made me all [this] wealth.”

HaShem should give us the wisdom to realize that everything comes from Him, and then we can truly appreciate our possessions and merit fulfilling His will.

Have an awesome Shabbos!

 

Rabbi Adler

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Shabbos Pinchas Inspiration 5774


What does the name פינחס mean? The Abarbanel, interestingly enough, writes that the name פינחס is an Egyptian name that is derived from the city in Egypt called תַחְפַּנְחֵס (See Yirmiyah 2:16). However, we still do not know the definition of פינחס. Let’s take a look at the letters of his name and we can get a deeper understanding why he received this name. The letter פ denotes a פה, a mouth. Pinchas, we learn from Dovid Hamelech, used his mouth to defend the Jewish people. It is said (Tehillim 106:30) וַיַּעֲמֹד פִּינְחָס וַיְפַלֵּל וַתֵּעָצַר הַמַּגֵּפָה, and Pinchas arose and executed judgement, and the plague was halted. While the literal translation of the word וַיְפַלֵּל  here is judgement, the root word פַלֵּל connotes prayer. The Gemara (Sanhedrin 82b) states that Pinchas took Zimri and Kazbi and slammed them down on the ground, declaring, “because of these two sinners the Jewish People should lose twenty-four thousand people?!’ Although the Gemara states that Pinchas was litigating with his Creator, he was clearly praying that HaShem stop the plague.

The letter י, which equals 10, symbolizes perfection, and when adding 10 to the letter פ, which is 80, we have 90, the gematria of the word מלאך, angel (91), as Pinchas was transformed into Eliyahu, who was like an angel (See Rashi Bava Metzia 114b)  Similarly, the letter נ symbolizes the fifty gates of understanding, and Pinches, who was transformed into Eliyahu, was like an angel and reached perfection. The letter ח hints to the eight days of Milah, and we have a tradition that Eliyahu (formerly Pinchas) attends every Bris Milah of a Jewish child. The letter ס, which equals 60, corresponds to the 60 words that are found in Bircas Kohanim, the Priestly Blessings, and Pinchas was a Kohen.

We see from all this that Pinchas wasn’t just any name. rather, his name signified mission in life, which he achieved in its entirety.

We should all merit to fulfill our mission in life.

Have a purpose-filled Shabbos!

Rabbi Adler

 

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Shabbos Balak Inspiration 5774


The most amazing aspect regarding Balaam was that he was יֹדֵעַ דַּעַת עֶלְיוֹן, he knew the knowledge of the Supreme One. The Gemara (Sanhedrin 105b) understands this to mean that Balaam knew the time when HaShem was prone to anger.

It is noteworthy that this expression of יֹדֵעַ דַּעַת עֶלְיוֹן, where the two expressions of דעת are mentioned consecutively, appears in one other instance in the Torah. It is said (Bereishis 15:13) וַיֹּאמֶר לְאַבְרָם יָדֹעַ תֵּדַע כִּי גֵר יִהְיֶה זַרְעֲךָ בְּאֶרֶץ לֹא לָהֶם וַעֲבָדוּם וְעִנּוּ אֹתָם אַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת שָׁנָה, and He said to Avram, “Know with certainty that your offspring shall be aliens in a land not their own – and they will serve them, and they will oppress them – four hundred years.” HaShem was informing Avraham that his descendants would be enslaved and persecuted by the Egyptians for four hundred years. Yet, Avraham received this fateful news with equanimity and he did not complain to HaShem. Contrast Balaam, who as soon as he got wind of HaShem’s unwillingness to have him curse the Jewish People, was even more determined to flout HaShem’s will. Indeed, the Mishna in Avos (5:19) lists three distinctions between the students of Avraham and the students of Balaam. One of those distinctions is humility. Avraham, in his great humility, accepted the “knowledge” of his descendants’  future slavery with love. Balaam, in his arrogance, continued searching for  a time when he would “know” the moment of HaShem’s anger so that he, Balaam, could triumph. There is knowledge and there is knowledge, and it is up to our minds to figure out what HaShem’s will is for us.

Have an intellectually stimulating and a highly emotionally charged Shabbos!

Rabbi Adler

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Shabbos Chukas Inspiration 5774


Parshas Chukas focuses on the Parah Adumah and Moshe hitting the rock and not speaking to the rock and thus forfeiting his opportunity to enter Eretz Yisroel. Sandwiched in between these two topics is the death of Miriam. The Torah merely states that Miriam died and was buried and then the people complained about water. It is noteworthy that we always find Miriam mentioned regarding water. Her first appearance is by the Nile River watching over her baby brother Moshe. We then discover Miriam leading the women in song at the Reed Sea. Fast forward to Miriam and Aharon talking about Moshe’s greatness and their own prophetic abilities. HaShem appears to them and they cry, “water, water,” as they were not in a state of purity that warranted HaShem’s speaking to them. Finally, the Torah states that Miriam died and there was no water. The Gemara (Taanis 9b) states that the well that journeyed with the Jewish People in the Wilderness was in the merit of Miriam. Seems like it’s obvious why Miriam merited this. After all, she was always doing amazing things by the water. Nonetheless, we need to understand a little more why Miriam was the catalyst for the water.

The Gemara (Taanis 9b) states that when Miriam died, the well disappeared, and returned in the  merit of Moshe and Aharon. One must wonder why if the well came back, why was it necessary for Moshe to speak to the rock? The water was right there, available for everyone to take as always. The answer is that although the well returned, HaShem wanted Moshe to use his דעת, intellect, to draw out the water. Moshe, however, chose to use his staff to draw out water, and he was punished for this error.

The Rambam (Hilchos Mikavos 11:12) writes that immersing in a mikveh symbolizes the מי הדעת, the waters of knowledge. Indeed, regarding the future it is said (Yeshaya 11:9) כִּי מָלְאָה הָאָרֶץ דֵּעָה אֶת יְהוָה כַּמַּיִם לַיָּם מְכַסִּים, for the earth wil be as filled with knwoledge of HaShem as water covering the sea bed. Knowledge is like water. One cannot ever get enough knowledge. Similarly, the world constantly needs water to survive. The Middah of Moshe is נצח, eternity. Miriam sought to be connected to the eternity that Moshe embodied.

It is noteworthy that that the name מרים contains the letter מים and the letter ר. The letter ר in א”ת ב”ש is ג, which symbolizes the three primary incidents in Miriam’s life regarding water. When Miriam was watching over Moshe, it is said (Shemos 2:4) וַתֵּתַצַּב אֲחֹתוֹ מֵרָחֹק לְדֵעָה מַה יֵּעָשֶׂה לוֹ, his sister stationed herself at a distance to know what woyld be done with him. Miriam was essentially watching over the דעת of the Jewish People. When Moshe did not use his דעת to draw out water, he was punished with death. HaShem should grant us the ability to use our דעת in the appropriate manner and then we will merit the מי הדעת with the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily, in our days.

Have a KNOWLEDGEABLE Shabbos and A fulFILLING Rosh Chodesh!

Rabbi Adler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Shabbos Korach Inspiration 5774


Did you ever wonder what would have happened if Korach would have achieved his aim of becoming the leader of the Jewish People? Or if Korach would have succeeded in convincing Moshe that there was no need for a leader of the Jewish People? Basically, there would have been another Golden Calf. Korach’s rebellion was tantamount to the Jewish People making a Golden Calf. This is the reason HaShem warned Moshe to stay away from Korach and his entourage. HaShem determined that He would not allow the Jewish People to contemplate for a second Moshe was not their chosen leader and that Aharon was not the Kohen Gadol. It was for this reason that Korach and his followers had to literally disappear, so there would be no survivors who would slowly creep back into the camp and invite everyone with their mutinous tendencies.

This all occurred because of jealousy and strife. When we see someone else who has something that we feel we are lacking, it would be well worth our while to banish the thought and keep the peace. We all want to exist in HaShem’s world and the method of doing so is by letting go of our petty jealousies. Korach took the plunge and didn’t make it out. We need to foster health and peaceful relationships with each other and then HaShem will take us out, and this disappearing act will occur when we return to Yerushalayim with Moshiach Tzidkenu, speedily, in our days.

Have a PEACEful and tranquil Shabbos!

RabbI Adler

 

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Shabbos Shelach Inspiration 5774


Parashas Shelach is normally viewed as a parasha of calamity and disaster. The spies bring back slanderous reports of the Land and the fate of the Jewish People is doomed. Jews between the ages of twenty and sixty must all die in the Wilderness, while Tisha B’Av, the day of the spies return, is etched into the annals of Jewish history as a day of woe and tragedy. The two Batei Mikdash were destroyed on Tisha B’av and other calamitous events have occurred on this infamous day. So how can we be inspired from all this? True, we learn the consequences of speaking Lashon Hara about the Holy Land, but there is more.

The Gemara (Sanhedrin 104b) states that the spies put the פ before the ע, i.e. they spoke before they looked. What does this mean that they spoke before looking? Did they not first scout out the Land and then bring back the slanderous report? The answer to this question is that at the end of the parasha regarding the parasha of Tzitzis, Rashi writes that the eyes see and then the heart desires, and then the body acts out the sin. It is evident that one would have difficulty sinning without first seeing the temptation. We have a rule (Tosefta Sotah 4:1) that מדה טובה מרובה ממדת פורענות, the good measure is exponentially greater than the bad measure. Thus, the spies could have at least given their best effort to see the Land in a good light and then returned with an unbiased report. Sadly, however, they did the exact opposite. They returned with a lot to say about all the “bad” things they had seen. People dying, giants, strange fruit. etc. They looked for the bad and they found it, because their intention from the onset was to slander the Land. We, however, can do much much better. We can look for the good and then say say something nice about it.

Does the Mishna (Avos 1:15) not teach us to say a little and do a lot? Often we don’t even have to do much. If we merely look for the good in everything that HaShem has given us, we will surely find it We can then rectify the sin of the spies and all the people throughout history who chose to see bad instead of good, and then HaShem will bring us back to the GOOD Land, with the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily, in our days.

Have an inSIGHTful Shabbos and keep looking for the good in life!

Rabbi Adler

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