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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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Yom Kippur Inspiration 5775

סְלַח לָנוּ. מְחַל לָנוּ. כַּפֶּר לָנוּ, forgive us, forgive us, and forgive us. Doesn’t it sound like we are repeating ourselves? OK, I know ArtScroll translated these words as: forgive us, pardon us, atone for us. Still, don’t all these words mean the same thing?

Perhaps we can answer this question by looking at the numerical value of the words. The word סְלַח equals 98, the same as the curses in the תוכחה, the Rebuke in Parashas Ki Savo. Thus, we are asking that first of all, please forgive us for any sins that allowed us to be deserving, Heaven forbid, to be punished with the 98 curses. The word מחל is associated with the word מחול, which means to dance. One of the most important components of Yom Kippur is to appease one’s friend. In this way we become like the angels on high who have only love and affection for each other. The word מחל in א”ת ב”ש is יסכ, which equals the same numerical value as the word מלאך, angel. The word כפר means atone. The word יכפר equals in gematria 310, and in the future HaShem will grant every righteous Jew 310 worlds.

HaShem should allow us to be spared the 98 curses and we should merit appeasing each other, becoming angelic, and meriting 310 worlds of the righteous.

Have a Gmar Chasima Tova and a Good Shabbos!

Rabbi Adler

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Rosh HaShanah-Haazinu Inspiration 5775

Chag Kosher Visameach! Did I say that right? Well, it’;s not Pesach tonight, but some things that we do prior to Rosh HaShanah and on Rosh HaShanah sure seem reminiscent of Pesach. Let’s take, for example, the custom of those who fast half the day on Erev Rosh HaShanah. The Tur cites a Medrash that states that fasting prior to Rosh HaShanah, on Tzom Gedalyah and on Yom Kippur is analogous to a country that sends three groups of people to appease the king. Similarly, on Erev Rosh HaShanah the adults fast to appease HaShem and so on.

Perhaps there is another aspect to today’s fast. The Sforno (Devarim 26:13) writes that the confession of Maasros is that we lament how the service in the Baisi HaMikdash was supposed to be performed by the firstborn, and on account of the sin of the Golden Calf, the firstborn were replaced by the Leviim. Thus, we see that we always need to be cognizant of “the first.” We can suggests, therefore, that prior to this first day of Tishrei and the first day of the year, we fast to lament how the firstborn should have been the ones serving HaShem. We too, firstborn or not, have the opportunity every moment to be the first, be it the first to Shul, the first to open a Sefer and study HaShem’s Holy Torah, the first to recognize someone in need, and the list goes on and on.

Tonight we eat the Simanim, the signs that are represented by various fruits such as the apple, the pomegranate and even some “rookie” fruits, i.e. fruits that have not graced our table all year round. These first fruits reflect the desire of every Jew to be first, and in the words of the Baal HaTurim, all firsts are holy. There is more to say about the connection between Pesach and Rosh HaShanah, but let us suffice for now with the statement of the Gemara (Rosh HaShanah 10b) that Yosef was released from jail on Rosh HaShanah, a mini redemption in itself, and according to Rabbi Yehoshua (Ibid 11a) the Jewish People will be redeemed in the month of Tishrei.

Let this Rosh HaShanah be a great day of firsts for the Jewish People and HaSHem should allow us to merit the Ultimate Redemption, speedily, today!

Have a Ksiva Vachasima Tova and a gut Gebentched Yohr with all the brachos possible!

Have a great First Shabbos!

Rabbi Adler

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Shabbos Nitzvaim-Vayeilech Inspiration 5774

In this week’s parasha of Nitzvaim we find an interesting passuk that states (Devarim 30:5) וֶהֱבִיאֲךָ יְ-ה-וָ-ה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֶל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר יָרְשׁוּ אֲבֹתֶיךָ וִירִשְׁתָּהּ וְהֵיטִבְךָ וְהִרְבְּךָ מֵאֲבֹתֶיךָ, HaShem, your G-d, will bring you to the Land that your forefathers possessed and you shall posses it; He will do good to you and make you more numerous than your forefathers. Why is it necessary for the Torah to say that HaShem make you more numerous than your forefathers? While we always praise HaShem for taking us from our small and humble beginnings and transforming us into a populous nation, it would almost seem to be a disparagement to our forefathers that HaShem has made us more numerous than them.

I would like to suggest a possible answer to this question and HaShem gave me the merit to find an identical answer in the Kli Yakar ad loc. The word מֵאֲבֹתֶיךָ can be interpreted  to mean that we merit our numbers from our forefathers, i.e. through their holiness and exalted spiritual level. We must always remember that even if we have scaled the heights of spirituality, everything that we accomplish is in the merit of our forefathers. Indeed, we can explain the term ראש השנה to mean that we look to our heads, i.e. our forefathers to ensure that we have a good year.

We should all merit a כתיבה וחתימה טובה and a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Have a Fabulous Last Shabbos of the Year!

Rabbi Adler

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