Erev Shabbos Kodesh Shabbos Shoftim Inspiration 5774


Judges and officers, kings and battles. There’s an expression that “all is fair in love and war.” While I’m not sure who made up that statement, let’s see if it holds true for this week’s parasha. Regarding war, we see clearly that the is not the case. The Torah provides exemptions for various situations, including someone who betrothed a woman and did not marry her. So much for all is fair in war. Now for the love part. The Torah is worried that someone who goes out to war and has not married his betrothed will die in battle and this is deemed disheartening to the person. Although the person is dead and we should no longer be concerned for his feelings, the Torah is concerned for his feelings from the time that he becomes  engaged until he goes out to battle. So we see that all is not fair in love either. Now that we have debunked the expression, let us briefly examine the Torah’s concern here.

What is war all about anyway? In some cases a war is to secure the homeland and to deter enemies from invading. In other instances war is to conquer other lands and to benefit from the spoils. The Torah’s approach is that only the righteous should go out to battle, and someone who fears for his sins must return. In order to camouflage the sinners, the Torah instructs the warriors to examine their different situations and determine if they will feel and going out to war. This is truly incredible. Even at a time of war we are concerned with the feelings of a Jew. We can now understand better why preceding and following the laws of the battlefield the Torah discusses the role of the judges, the kings and the elders. 

Regarding Eglah Arufah, where someone dies between cities and the murderer is not known, the elders of the city must declare that they did not spill the deceased’s blood. The Gemara states that this means that the elders declare that they did not allow the deceased to leave the city without food and without escorting him. Yes, indeed, the Torah is concerned for the feelings of every person, and we express these feelings even after someone is already dead and the elders had nothing to do with his death. Ultimately, we are responsible for each other in life and after life.

HaShem should give us all long and healthy lives with the opportunities to study Torah, perform mitzvos and really and truly care about our fellow Jews.

Have a joyous Shabbos!

Rabbi Adler

 

 

 

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Shabbos Re’eh Inspiration 5774


What do we need to do to earn HaShem’s blessing? The Torah tells us in the beginning of this week’s parasha that all we have to do is to listen to the mitzvos that HaShem is commanding us today. Is that really all we have to do? If we listen to the mitzvos, then we get a great reward? How can that be? Certainly we have to fulfill the mitzvos. Why is merely listening to the mitzvos sufficient to receive a reward?

Lets us take a look at last week’s parasha (always good to review) and we will find the answer. It is said (Devarim 11:13) וְהָיָה אִם שָׁמֹעַ תִּשְׁמְעוּ אֶל מִצְוֹתַי אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם הַיּוֹם לְאַהֲבָה אֶת יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם וּלְעָבְדוֹ בְּכָל לְבַבְכֶם וּבְכָל נַפְשְׁכֶם, it will be that if you hearken to My commandments that I command you today, to love HaShem, your G-d, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul. The word שמע usually connotes listening, but we find that it is said (Shmuel I 15:4) וַיְשַׁמַּע שָׁאוּל אֶת הָעָם, Shaul had all the people summoned, so we see that the word שמע also means to gather. Rashi (Devarim 11:13) writes that the double term of teaches us that if one listen to the old, he will merit listening to the new. It is quite amazing that this is one of the only instances in the Torah where the word מצוה appears twice (I found another instance in Vayikra 7:38). Perhaps the Torah is teaching us the rule of מצוה גוררת מצוה, one mitzvah leads to another mitzvah. if one “hard” one mitzvah, he should rush to hear another mitzvah, and in this manner he will gather many mitzvos for his credit. Indeed, the Medrash (Yalkut Mishlei 20) states that if one, Heaven forbid, performed many sins, he should amass many mitzvos to negate the mitzvos.

Back in our parasha we can suggest that the blessing is found in the mitzvos, but even more significantly, in the way we treat the mitzvos. If we rush to amass mitzvos, and perform the mitzvos, we will certainly see blessing in our lives. The Zohar states that although the Jewish People nullified the נעשה, the “we will do” of accepting the Torah, they should still be careful regarding the נשמע, the hearing of the mitzvos. HaShem should allow us to merit hearing and amassing His Holy Mitzvos, and in that merit we should merit the rebuilding of the Bais HaMikdash and the mitzvah of settling Eretz Yisroel, with the Ultimate Redemption, speedily, in our days.

Have a mitzvah-filled Shabbos and a Good Chodesh!

Rabbi Adler

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Shabbos Eikev Inspiration 5774


Everyone wants to receive a 100 on a test. A 98? Also works, no? This week’s parasha has a few themes of 100 and 98. It is said (Devarim 10:!2) וְעַתָּה יִשְׂרָאֵל מָה יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ שֹׁאֵל מֵעִמָּךְ, and now, Israel, what does HaShem ask of you, only to fear. The Baal HaTurim writes as follows: מה בא”ת ב”ש י”ץ ששואל ממך ק’ ברכות בכל יום ויום ויש בפסוק ק’ אותיות (ע’ מנחות מג) וכן ממך עולה ק’., the word מה in א”ת ב”ש is י”ץ, which equals 100, as HaShem request of you 100 blessings every day. The verse contains 100 letters and the word ממך (In Micha 6:8) equals 100.

It is noteworthy that it is said earlier (Ibid 7:15) וְהֵסִיר יְהוָה מִמְּךָ כָּל חֹלִי , and HaShem will remove from you all sickness. We can interpret this verse as follows: HaShem will remove כָּל חֹלִי, which equals 98, if you “מִמְּךָ,” recite 100 daily blessings. The 98 alludes to the 98 curses in the Tochacha, the rebuke in Parshas Ki Savo. How do we avoid punishments and curses? When we recite 100 daily blessings and find a way to praise HaShem even in the bad times, then we can be guaranteed to earn a 100 on the test.

Have a 100% delightful Shabbos!

Rabbi Adler

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Shabbos Vaeschanan-Nachamu Inspiration 5774


Shabbos Nachamu! A Shabbos of Consolation! HaShem consoles the Jewish People. The word נחמו, literally defined as console, can also mean to have a change of mind. The word נחם can also mean to lead. How are we consoled? When we have a change of mind and heart. When we decide it is time to repent from our sins and from our bad character. If our enemies are declaring that HaShem is protecting us, then  we must cry out to HaShem and say, “please HaShem, help us change our ways,. Help us to do better!” We must ask HaShem to lead us like He led us in the Wilderness, where He provided for our every need. In the Wilderness, even when the Jewish People sinned, HaShem provided them constantly with manna, Clouds of Glory and the well of Miriam. We must ask HaShem to show us wonders like when we left Egypt. With HaShem’s Will, we will experience consolation, leadership and a true change of heart. This week, HaShem’s will, we will be redeemed from all pain and suffering

HaShem should console us and give us joy, with the coming of Moshiach, speedily, in our days!

Have a strong and comforting Shabbos!

Rabbi Adler

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Shabbos Devarim-Chazon Inspiration 5774


The first verse in this week’s parasha contains many hints to the future of the Jewish People. It is said (Devarim 1:1) אֵלֶּה הַדְּבָרִים אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר מֹשֶׁה אֶל כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּעֵבֶר הַיַּרְדֵּן בַּמִּדְבָּר בָּעֲרָבָה מוֹל סוּף בֵּין פָּארָן וּבֵין תֹּפֶל וְלָבָן וַחֲצֵרֹת וְדִי זָהָב, these are the words that Moshe spoke to all of Israel, on the other side of the Jordan, concerning the Wilderness, concerning the Aravah, opposite the Sea of Reeds, between Paran and Tofel and Lavan, and Chatzeiros, and Di-Zahav. The Baal HaTurim writes that the words מוֹל סוּף hint to the mitzvah of מילה, circumcision. We can take this idea further and suggests that the word מוֹל alludes to circumcision and the words סוּף means end. This hints to the idea expressed in the Holy Writings that in the sixth millennium, which we are in now, the battle will be for holiness which is reflected in circumcision. Indeed, the Zohar (end of Lech Lecho) states that the Yishmaelim stake a claim in Eretz Yisroel because they also circumcise themselves, albeit their succession is incomplete so their share in the Land is incomplete.

It is noteworthy that the word פָּארָן  alludes to Yishmael (See Rashi Devarim 33:1) and the word תֹּפֶל can mean prayer, reflecting on the final battle between the Jewish People and Yishmael. We must fight Yishmael with holiness in areas of morality and prayer. Only then can we hope to achieve לָבָן, purity of sin, חֲצֵרֹת, true spiritual acquisitions in the Land (the word חצר, literally meaning courtyard, refers to a land acquisition), and דִי זָהָב, an allusion to the Bais HaMikdash which will be built from gold. HaShem should bring an end to all Jewish suffering. The Gemara states that if we merit, the Redemption will arrive אֲחִישֶׁנָּה, speedily, and if not, then בְּעִתָּהּ, in its proper time. The Gerrer Rebbe would say that HaShem should be מחיש the בְּעִתָּהּ, hasten the proper time. May HaShem bring us Moshiach today, Amen!

Have a Holy and Purifying Shabbos!

Rabbi Adler

 

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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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