Erev Shabbos Kodesh Toldos Inspiration 5775


Everyone has their favorite Medrash, and my favorite Medrash in Toldos reads like this:

אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן מִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ שְׁנֵי בָנִים אֶחָד יוֹצֵא וְאֶחָד נִכְנַס, חָרֵיד, אֶתְמְהָא, אֶלָּא בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁנִּכְנַס עֵשָׂו אֵצֶל אָבִיו נִכְנְסָה עִמּוֹ גֵּיהִנֹּם. רַבִּי אֲחָא אָמַר הִתְחִילוּ כָּתְלֵי הַבַּיִת מַרְתִיתִים, הֲדָא הוּא דְהוּא אָמַר (בראשית כז, לג): מִי אֵפוֹא, מִי הוּא זֶה שֶׁהוּא עָתִיד לֵיאָפוֹת כָּאן אֲנִי אוֹ בְנִי יַעֲקֹב. אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לֹא אַתְּ וְלֹא בִּנְךָ, אֶלָּא (בראשית כז, לג): הוּא הַצָּד צַיִד (בראשית רבה 67:2)

When Esav entered before Yitzchak, Gehinnom entered with him. The walls of the house began to shake. Yitzchak wondered, “who is going to get baked (אֵפוֹא) here, me or my son Yaakov?” HaShem responded, “not you and not your son. Rather, “the one who hunted game (Esav)!”

The word צָּד appears many times in this week’s parasha. It is said (Bereishis 25:28) וַיֶּאֱהַב יִצְחָק אֶת עֵשָׂו כִּי צַיִד בְּפִיו וְרִבְקָה אֹהֶבֶת אֶת יַעֲקֹב, Yitzchak loved Esav for game was in his mouth; but Rivka loved Yaakov. The Heilege Ishbitzer said that the words כִּי צַיִד בְּפִיו can be interpreted to mean that every time Esav spoke, Yitzchak would trap souls emanating from Esav, and these were the prominent Jewish converts in history such as Rabbi Meir, a decsendant of Nero Caeser.

It is noteworthy that there have been no prominent converts to Judaism from the Muslim people. Apparently, Esav can be “trapped” into Judaism, whereas Yishmael, the forerunner of the Arab nation, is repelled from our midst. It is noteworthy that the word ישמעאל equals in gematria the words אין גרים באים מהם, converts do not come from them.

This week we were witness to the barbaric cruelty of the Arabs who killed four Jews in a Shul during the prayer service. Esav has certainly not always been merciful to the Jewish People, and we must hope that the barbarism displayed  by Yishmael will be the last travail of this exile, and then we will witness the fulfillment of the verse (Ovadiah 1:21) וְעָלוּ מוֹשִׁעִים בְּהַר צִיּוֹן לִשְׁפֹּט אֶת הַר עֵשָׂו וְהָיְתָה לַי-ה-וָ-ה הַמְּלוּכָה, and saviors shall ascend Mount Zion to judge the mountain of Esav, and HaShem shall have the kingdom.

May Kal Yisroel know no more sorrow and we should witness only joy and ecstasy with the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily, in our days!

Have an uplifting Shabbos!

Rabbi Adler

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Chaye Sara Inspiration 5775


There is a word that keeps popping up in the beginning of this week’s parasha that begs for an explanation, and that is the word שמע, listen. The Binei Cheis request of Avraham (Bereishis 23:6) שְׁמָעֵנוּ אֲדֹנִי, hear us, my Lord. Avraham then request for the Binei Cheis (Ibid verse 8) שְׁמָעוּנִי וּפִגְעוּ לִי בְּעֶפְרוֹן בֶּן צֹחַר, heed me, and intercede for me with Ephron the son of Zohar. Ephron then responds to Avraham (Ibid verse 11) לֹא אֲדֹנִי שְׁמָעֵנִי, no, my lord, heed me! Avraham then rejoins (Ibid verse 13) אַךְ אִם אַתָּה לוּ שְׁמָעֵנִי, rather, if only you would heed me. Ephron replies (Ibid verse 15) אֲדֹנִי שְׁמָעֵנִי, My lord, heed me! The Torah concludes (verse 16) with the words וַיִּשְׁמַע אַבְרָהָם אֶל עֶפְרוֹ, Avraham heeded Ephron. Why all these request to listen and most of them are directed to Ephron?

Let’s take a look at some numbers and we can see, or better yet, hear, something amazing. The gematria of the name עפרן is 400. The word שמע, listen, equals 410. the Baal HaTurim (23:3) teaches us that the Torah mentions the בני חת, the Hittites, ten times in this parasha, and this reflects on the idea that one who validates a sale to a Torah scholar is akin to one who observes the Ten Commandments which have the letter ח ten times.

It is noteworthy that the difference in numerical value between the name עפרן and the word שמע is 10. Avraham was giving Ephron an opportunity to validate a sale of land to a  Torah Scholar, i.e. Avraham, and Ephron exploited the situation for this material gain. When the Jews worshipped the Golden Calf they forfeited their declaration of נעשה ונשמע, we will do and we will listen. Nonetheless, the Zohar states that they retained the aspect of נשמע, we will listen. While Ephron forfeited the opportunity “to hear,” and be akin to one who observes the Ten Commandments, we have the fortune to constantly listen and learn and grow in our service of HaShem.

HaShem should allow us to continue listening to Him and to His Holy Torah and we should merit the time when it will be “heard” the in the cities of Yehudah and Yerushalayim the sounds of the groom and the sounds of the bride with the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily, in our days.

Have a wonderful Shabbos

Rabbi Adler

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Vayeira Inspiration 5775


This week I have the advantage that my seven year old son Nati is learning Parashas Vayeira so last week we were discussing the Rashi (Bereishis 19:1) that writes that regarding Avraham the visiting angels were referred to as אנשים, men, whereas regarding Lot they were referred to as מלאכים, angels. Rashi offers two explanations for this discrepancy. One explanation is that when the angels were by Avraham, the Divine Presence was with Avraham so it would not be appropriate to refer to them as angels. Alternatively, Avraham was on a high spiritual level and he was accustomed to visits from angels, so they are referred to as men, whereas by Lot they are referred to as angels. The difficulty with this resolution of Rashi, however, is that subsequent to the first instance where the angels are referred to as מלאכים, they are always referred to as אנשים, except for one instance (verse 15). Immediately I assumed the Chizkuni would raise this issue, and sure enough, the Chizkuni writes that the reason that subsequent to the angels’ arrival the Torah refers to the angels as men is because the Torah is offering us the perspective of the Sodomites who perceived the angels as men.

My son Nati suggested an amazing insight and I would like to present it here. True, when the angels first arrived by Lot, he was not worthy of receiving angels and the Torah therefore states that it was angels who entered his home. However, once exposed to such exalted beings, Lot could not help but become elevated and subsequent to their arrival Lot was now on par with the angels.

We find a similar idea regarding the animals that entered the Ark. The Gemara (Sanhedrin 108b) states that the impure animals who entered the Ark were איש ואשה, man and wife. The Gemara wonders how this could be, as there is a rule that אין אישות לבהמה, the animals do not have the precept of marriage. The Gemara answers that the Torah is referring to the animals that did not engage in sin. Rabbi Yaakov Galinsky zt”l asked Rav Chaim Kanievsky, “what has the Gemara gained with its answer? We still must abide by the rule that animals are not marriageable!” Rav Chaim Shlita proceeded to show Rav Galinsky zt”l the Aruch (printed on this side of the Gemara) who writes that due to the animals loyalty to each other, the Torah conferred upon them the lofty status of marriage that is normally reserved for humans. Rav Galinsky derived from the words of the Aruch that even one who lives in a decadent society can rise to the level of Torah against of previous generations.

We can suggest that Lot, too, despite his own promiscuity and that of his fellow Sodomites, was able for the moment to transcend the decadence and rise to the level of Avraham is his acts of his hospitality.

We conclude the with the Medrash that cites the verse in Tehillim (89:21) that states מָצָאתִי דָּוִד עַבְדִּי, I have found Dovid, My Servant, and the Medrash (Bereishis Rabbah 50:10) comments, “I found him in Sodom.” Where do we chance upon the pious and holy Dovid HaMelech, forerunner of the Messianic Dynasty? In Sodom, of all places. If Dovid can emerge from Sodom (this refers to Lot begetting Moav from his daughter, and Rus, a Moabite convert, gave birth to Oved, who beget Yishai who was the father of Dovid) then we certainly can rise above our decadent society and continue to attaining lofty levels of spirituality.

Have a Transcending Shabbos!

Rabbi Adler

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Lech Lecho Inspiration 5775


I am always intrigued by the ברית בין הבתרים, the Pact of the Parts. HaShem enters into a covenant with Avraham  and informs him that his descendants will be strangers in a  land that is not theirs for four hundred years. They will be enslaved and persecuted and then they will leave with great wealth. Why was it necessary for Avraham to know this? True, Avraham was the father of the Jewish People and HaShem loved him dearly, but we do not find that Avraham prayed to HaShem to have the decree of exile averted. Regarding the fate of Sodom, however, Avraham prayed incessantly that HaShem rescind the decree, and this was for the most wicked people on the planet!

The Medrash (Bereishis Rabbah 44:21) comes to the rescue as we are informed that HaShem offered Avraham a choice: his descendants could either suffer the pain of Gehinnom or they would have to accept the decree of exile, and Avraham chose exile (See Ibid for an opinion that maintains that Avraham actually chose Gehinnom). We would think that this was not really a  fair choice. Can we imagine if someone said, “I will either shoot you or I will make you wander the earth for the rest of your days?” Certainly anyone sane would choose exile, so what was the purpose of HaShem offering Avraham Gehinnom?

The answer to this question is that HaShem was demonstrating to Avraham how painful the exile would be. Indeed, the Medrash (Ibid 15) states that HaShem showed Avraham all the future exiles and the suffering that the Jewish people would undergo. This means that Jews would be enslaved, persecuted, taxed, shot, killed, asphyxiated with gas, burned in the crematoria, and all the other unspeakable horrors that the Jews have experienced throughout the millennium. Yet, Avraham still chose exile over Gehinnom, similar to what Dovid HaMelech said (Tehillim 63:4) כִּי טוֹב חַסְדְּךָ מֵחַיִּים שְׂפָתַי יְשַׁבְּחוּנְךָ, for Your kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise you. Although we have suffered much, we have had the opportunity to praise HaShem for all of His kindness towards us, and that is the purpose of our existence. HaShem informed Avraham that his children would suffer greatly, but in the end we would emerge victorious, having withstood all of the trials and tribulations and praised HaShem through it all.

Let us use this Shabbos to praise HaShem for everything that he does for us and may we merit the Ultimate Redemption, speedily, in our days.

Have a praiseworthy Shabbos!

Rabbi Adler

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Noach Inspiration 5775


Did you ever wonder what it felt like to be swimming in the flood waters in the times of Noach? We must wonder what the people of that generation were thinking as they went under. Well, we must sadly conclude that they weren’t thinking at all. The reality is that when one is steeped in immorality and other forbidden activities,  it is virtually impossible to have any logical thought process. The Torah associates the people of that generation with the animals with good reason. Indeed, the people behaved like animals. Noach and his family were saved together with the animals that stayed loyal to each other. This teaches us that there is a very fine line between human behavior and animalistic conduct.

This idea is alluded to in the words אדם, man and בהמה, animal. The sum of the two words equals 98 (really 97) which is the amount of curses in the Tochacha in Parashas Ki Savo. When man falls to the level of the animals, all of the Torah’s curses are unleashed.

The solution to this lifestyle is to study Torah and observe the mitzvos, and only then can a person be guaranteed that he will remain a thinking person who knows the difference between man and animal.

HaShem should allow us to discern the extra soul that He provides us with on Shabbos and that soul assists us in elevating the physical to the spiritual.

Have a Shabbos filled with lofty spiritual pursuits!

Rabbi Adler

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Shemini Atzeres-Simchas Torah-Bereishis Inspiration 5775


Real short today! We use our hands to bang the Aravos. We use our hands to lift the Sifrei Torah. Moshe cast the Luchos from his hands subsequent to the sin of the Golden Calf. By Neilah on Yom Kippur we emphasize the idea of refraining from the “oppression of our hands.” The word כפור, atonement, is associated with the rod כף, palms. Dovid HaMelech says that the one who will ascend to the Mountain of HaShem and remain in His Holy Place is one who has clean hands. Let us remember,a s we embrace and dance with the Sifrei Torah, that we are also holding hands with our fellow dancers, and we need to have clean hands, i.e. no theft, no deception, and we must act justly with each other.

Bereishis tells us of how the first brothers fought and Kayin, not knowing how to kill Hevel, killed him with…. his bare hands. That act speaks volumes of our history. HaShem should give us strength to assist our fellow Jew in every way possible and we should all merit a Good Yom Tov and a Great Shabbos and the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkenu, speedily, in our days!

Good Shabbos and Good Yom Tov!

Rabbi Adler

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Sukkos Inspiration 5775


Why do we celebrate the mitzvah of Sukkos? The commentators state that the Zohar refers to the Sukkah as צלא דמהימנותא, the shade of trust. This depiction of the festival teaches us that throughout Sukkos we are building trust in HaShem. Nonetheless, we must wonder why we focus on the theme of trust and faith specifically on Sukkos?

The answer to this question is that we celebrate Sukkos as a commemoration of our having left Egypt and entering an uncultivated wilderness where our very existence was constantly in the balance. HaShem, in His kindness, provided us with Manna, a well and Clouds of Glory to protect us from the elements and from our enemies. Our leaving Egypt was essentially a transition of our leaving our “homeland” and entering into the unknown. When we are in transition, we need to bolster ourselves with great stores of faith in HaShem.

Sukkos, then, is  a time for toil, both in faith and in Torah study, as we culminate the festival with Simchas Torah, rejoicing over the Torah. The Gemara states יגעת ומצאת תאמן, if you toiled and found success, believe it. It is noteworthy that the word תאמן equals in gematria the words זה סכת, this is Sukkos. When we truly toil in our faith in HaShem and in our Torah study, we will be guaranteed success.

Have a wonderful Yom Tov and a Great Shabbos!

Rabbi Adler

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