Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim: Bamidbar-Shavuos 5775


Bamidbar-Shavuos 5775

New Stories Bamidbar-Shavuos 5775

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Bamidbar-Shavuos 5775

Peace through the actions of the wicked

Introduction

This week I was discussing with a friend of mine the name of the leader of the tribe of Shimon, Shlumiel Ben Tzurishaddai, whose name is mentioned in this week’s parashah (Bamidbar 2:12). I mentioned that the Ohr HaChaim (Bamidbar 7:36) writes that one possible reason that he was thus called was because his name alludes to the fact that shileim lo Keil al cheit Yosef vayeesof oso bamishmar, HaShem paid Shimon back for selling Yosef, by having Shimon locked up [when the brothers met Yosef for the first time]. Alternatively, writes the Ohr HaChaim, he was thus called because sheshileim HaShem bimaasei Zimri tzuri Shaddai, i.e. HaShem had Zimri killed by Pinchas, and HaShem’s wrath was appeased, and HaShem amar likilyono dai, HaShem allowed the destruction to cease.

Why would Zimri merit being called Shlumiel, which contains the name of HaShem?

The interpretations of the Ohr HaChaim should lead one to wonder why Zimri, who was a sinner, merited having the Name of HaShem, which is Shalom, contained in his name. What is even more noteworthy is that Pinchas was the one who killed Zimri and brought an end to the plague that had been catalyzed by the act of Zimri who sinned when he had a relationship with Kazbi, the Midianite woman. Regarding the reward for Pinchas, it is said (Bamidbar 25:12) lachein emor hinini nosein lo es brisi shalom, therefore, say: behold! I give him my covenant of peace. Thus, Pinchas earns a covenant of peace, whereas Zimri is known forever as Shlumiel. How are we to understand this phenomenon?

Through Zimri, Hashem’s Name was restored

To understand why Zimri is referred to as Shlumiel, it is worth examining the act that Zimri performed and its devastating effect on the Jewish People. The Gemara (Sanhedrin 106a) states that Balaam suggested to Balak that since the G-d of Israel despises immorality, they should cause the Jewish People to sin through immorality and then HaShem would become angry with the Jewish People. Balak had the Moabite and Midianite women sin with the Jewish People, and HaShem was prepared to annihilate the Jewish People. Zimri fueled the flames by sinning with Kazbi, and Pinchas stepped in and killed Zimri and Kazbi, thus appeasing HaShem’s wrath. In a simple sense, Zimri caused HaShem to become angry, and Pinchas appeased HaShem’s wrath. On a deeper level, however, Pinchas was rectifying the breach that was manifest amongst the Jewish People through the sin of immorality. It is said (Mishlei 6:32) noeif isha chasar leiv, but he who commits adultery is lacking an [understanding] heart. This verse can also be interpreted to mean that one who commits an immoral sin causes a deficiency in the heart of the nation. Thus, whereas Zimri was bent on breaching the unity of the Jewish People, Pinchas was set on mending the breach and allowing the Jewish People to once again become unified with HaShem. Perhaps it is for this reason that Zimri was referred to as Shlumiel, as through his actions, HaShem allowed Pinchas to bring about unity amongst the Jewish People. When wicked people exist in the world, it appears that the Name of HaShem is not complete, as we find regarding Amalek that the Medrash (Tanchumah end of Ki Seitzei) states that as long as Amalek is in existence, HaShem’s Name is not complete. Thus, when Pinchas killed Zimri, he allowed for HaShem’s Name to become complete again.

The Shabbos connection

Throughout the week we struggle with issues of strife and discord, and it is only with the onset of Shabbos, which is called Shalom, peace, do all harsh judgments depart, and then we can truly experience peace and tranquility. HaShem should allow us to overcome our differences with others and bring us true peace. With the proper observance of Shabbos, we will merit that HaShem will bring us the Final Redemption, speedily, in our days.

Shabbos in the Zemiros

Yom Zeh LiYisroel

Some opinions attribute the authorship of this Zemer to the Arizal.

לַעֲרֹךְ לְפָנַי, מַשְׂאֵת וַאֲרוּחָה, שַׁבָּת מְנוּחָה, to prepare before me courses and banquets – Shabbos of contentment. The Gemara (Megillah 12b) states that whereas the nations of the world eat and drink and begin to act immorally, the Jewish People on Shabbos eat and drink and this is a catalyst for speaking words of Torah and praises of HaShem. This idea is reflected in this passage where we declare that all the courses and banquets that we indulge in are for the sake of the Holy Shabbos, which is a time for Torah study and praising HaShem.

Shabbos Stories

The enthusiasm of youth

Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky writes: A number of years ago a dear friend of mine, I’ll call him Dovy, received a knock on the door of his home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A distinguished looking man stood at Dovy’s door. The stranger had a beard and looked at least ten years older than Dovy. He appeared to be either a Rebbi in a Yeshiva or a leader of a congregation. Dovy went for his checkbook.

“I just came to your home to say thank you,” he said gratefully. “Thank you?” asked my friend in astonishment. “I don’t even know who you are! In fact I don’t even think I ever saw you in my life!” “Let me explain,” said the visitor in a clear and reassuring tone. “About fifteen or twenty years ago, you must have been no more than ten, I visited Pittsburgh. At that time, I was totally non-observant. I was facing many paths in my life. I lacked vision and direction. I explored returning to my roots, but I was not moved. Then I met you.”

Dovy looked at him incredulously. “Me?” He thought. “What do I have to do with this rabbi? And besides I was only about ten years old at the time.”

The Rabbi continued as if he read Dovy’s mind. “You were about ten years old and returning from a ball game. Your tzitzis were flying in every direction and beads of sweat were still on your face. And you were running.

“I stopped you to ask where you were going. You told me about Mincha, we spoke about what you were learning in your school. To you it was just the way of life, normal routine, but to me I saw something else. I saw a pure enthusiasm for everything Jewish from prayer to Talmud. All from a ten-year-old-kid. I asked for and made a note of your name.

“I left college to study in Israel. I did well. I am now a teacher in an Israel yeshiva. All these years I made sure to remember to thank the little kid whose little acts made the biggest impact on my life. You taught me something that no teacher had taught me until that time!”

Torah Study – Pleasure or Responsibility

Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffman writes: Perusing the Yahrtzeit section of an old “HaModia,” I came across the following exceptional description of the Yeshiva established by HaRav Yehuda Rosner Hy”d, Rav of Szekelheid. While meritorious in its own right, perhaps it will shed light on a section of this week’s parasha as well:

HaRav Rosner opened a yeshiva in Szekelheid, which he headed throughout his years there. Although he was eventually offered rabbinical positions in larger towns such as Uhel (Ujehly), he refused them on account of his yeshiva. Szekelheid had only 120 Jewish families, and that allowed the Rav to dedicate most of his time and attention to the yeshiva, which ultimately grew until, in the 1930’s, it housed over 300 bachurim.

R’ Yehuda ran the yeshiva almost singlehandedly, serving as Rosh Yeshiva (dean), mashgiach (supervisor), maggid shiur (teacher), and administrator. His Rebbetzin too assisted him devotedly, running the yeshiva kitchen, and adding a motherly touch for the bachurim where it was needed. The yeshiva was always strapped for funds, and making ends meet was always on R’ Yehduah’s mind. Often there was not enough money to pay for Shabbos meals for the boys; HaRav Rosner’s solution was to take the money needed out of his personal salary as town rav. His talmidim recall that when his only son married, and received a dowry of 100,000 lei, the money was used to cover the yeshiva’s deficit.

Yeshiva in Szekelheid began at 4:30 a.m., when the vecker would go around the small town waking up the bachurim at their various lodgings. Sometimes the rav would surprise the bachurim by conducting an early- morning inspection to assure all had arisen.

Meanwhile, the Rebbetzin was already busy cooking breakfast for the students. Anyone not coming to yeshiva on time was not entitled to breakfast, unless of course they were sick, in which case warm, nourishing meals were sent to their rooms.

The learning at the yeshiva in Szekelheid was intense; tests were given every day or two. On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, HaRav Rosner delivered a shiur iyun (in-depth lecture) in the mornings and a shiur bekius (comprehensive lecture) in the afternoons. The shiur bekius progressed at the prodigious rate of three blatt a week.

On Friday, Shabbos (no days off!) and Sunday, the bachurim studied Chumash with Rashi, along with Orach Chaim and Yoreh Deah (two sections of Shulchan Aruch, the Code of Jewish Law), on which they were tested Sunday evening.

Every Thursday, a notice was posted with a page of Gemara that the boys were obliged to cover on their own, in order to encourage independent study. On this too, they were tested, to ensure that they were attaining a true understanding of the underlying issues, and to verify that the bachurim were using their time efficiently.

Testing was taken very seriously at the yeshiva. All bachurim were tested, although among the advanced bachurim only one boy was tested each week. Since the boy to be tested was chosen by lottery immediately before the test, every boy in the advanced group always needed to be prepared. The rest of the boys were called in to the rav four boys at a time, according to a list he had prepared. He would ask them questions; those who were clearly fluent with the material were sent off at once, while a weaker student might be held for additional questioning to determine where he was lacking, and what needed to be reviewed. All this contributed to an intense atmosphere that was felt by every bachur in the yeshiva.

Each bachur was assigned a card, on which the rav would write the results of each exam. At the end of the semester, the rav would write each boy a letter, along with a copy of his card, summarizing his achievements. The most advanced students often received an approbation designating them as “chaveir” or “moreinu” – titles of distinction. One would be hard pressed, I believe, to find present-day yeshivos where testing and examination is taken so seriously and with such intensity. (www.Torah.org)

Shabbos in Halacha

לישה – Kneading

  1. The Kneading Process

 The Two Categories of Mixtures

 Summary

Preparing thick, non-flowing mixtures, i.e. egg salad, falls under the Torah Prohibition of Kneading. Looser, flowing mixtures are prohibited by Rabbinic Decree. Watery mixtures are not subject to the prohibition of kneading at all. However, the mixture must be made watery from the first moment.

Shabbos Ta’am HaChaim: Bamidbar-Shavuos 5775

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New Stories Bamidbar-Shavuos 5775

More Holy Woman

In shark-infested waters, their only life raft was reassuring words.

 by Sara Yoheved Rigler

Eli and Shaya, two yeshivah students from England, decided to start a hi-tech company. Since they had neither financial backing nor experience, they understood how important it was to engage an expert business consultant. The consultant they turned to was a septuagenarian Chasidic woman who lived in Jerusalem. She always wore two housecoats, one atop the other, and a babushka. Her own business experience had consisted of a dairy farm of eight cows, a venture that had never been particularly profitable. Her name was Rebbetzin Chaya Sara Kramer.

Eli and Shaya called the Rebbetzin every week and consulted her about everything. Every month, Shaya, who had moved to Jerusalem, brought her a cash donation to help with her living expenses. They used to tell her that she was a partner in their business.

A year and a half after founding their company, Eli and Shaya were sued by a famous American blue-chip corporation. The young entrepreneurs hired lawyers. After reviewing the case, their lawyers informed them that they didn’t have a chance of winning against such a large, powerful conglomerate. Disconsolate, Eli and Shaya went to Rebbetzin Chaya Sara and told her their lawyers’ prognosis.

Her response was: “Fire your lawyers and fight!”

However doubtful of their prospects of winning, they obeyed. The conglomerate’s lawyers were callous and intimidating. When they phoned Eli from New York to discuss the case on September 11, 2001, just after the collapse of the Twin Towers, Eli told them: “Maybe we shouldn’t discuss business today so that we can be together in bereavement for what happened in the United States.” The sharks replied: “Business is business.”

 “Be strong, fight it! Don’t let them intimidate you… you will win completely.”

Finally Eli and Shaya were to meet with the American conglomerate’s lawyers at their London office. It was raining. The two young religious men were standing in front of the imposing high-rise office building. On their cell phone, they called Rebbetzin Chaya Sara in Jerusalem. She told them in Yiddish, “Be strong, fight it! Don’t let them intimidate you. You are right, and you will win completely.”

Tremulous, Eli and Shaya got into the elevator and pressed the button for the top floor, where the meeting was to be held. As they stood there flicking through the thick files in their hands, they suddenly saw a document they hadn’t noticed before. With a start they realized, “This is the winner.”

After two torturous hours of intimidation, Shaya took out that document, laid it on the table, and told the sharks, “Read this. It’s either everything or nothing. You have until tomorrow to give in, or we’ll counter sue you and make a big noise on Wall Street.”

The next day, Eli and Shaya received an email saying, “You won.” They received a settlement of over $200,000.

DIFFERENT CASE, DIFFERENT ADVICE

The next time Eli and Shaya got involved in litigation, they were sure they were right and were determined to fight. The opposing company’s lawyers wanted to make an out-of-court settlement, but Eli and Shaya refused. Six months into the dispute, they went to Rebbetzin Chaya Sara for a blessing to win. She told them, “Don’t fight. Negotiate.”

“We didn’t want to negotiate,” Eli recalls. “We were in the right and we wanted to win the dispute.” They tried to convince Rebbetzin Chaya Sara, but she was adamant that they should compromise. She even told them the exact amount for which they should settle.

Reluctantly, they contacted the other company and offered to negotiate. It was too late. The other company was now determined to take it to court.

They told Rebbetzin Chaya Sara the latest developments. She replied, “Let it go to court. After the hearing, they’ll be willing to negotiate. But don’t waste money on lawyers.”

The litigation dragged on for another two and a half years. During that period, most dot.com companies went bankrupt because of protracted litigation and legal fees. Eli and Shaya, heeding the Rebbetzin’s advice not to spend money on lawyers, managed to stay afloat.

After the case went to court, the two companies negotiated a settlement for the exact amount that the Rebbetzin had stipulated two and a half years before.

“NO OPERATION”

She looked through the peep hole in her door and told them to come back in a few days.

Rebbetzin Chaya Sara’s prescience was not limited to business matters. When Eli married Chani, he was learning in Kollel in Jerusalem. They went regularly to Rebbetzin Chaya Sara for a blessing to have children. One Sunday, 13 months after their wedding, the young couple went to visit the Rebbetzin. She looked through the peep hole in her door and told them to come back in a few days. “It was the only time she ever sent us away,” remembers Eli.

He took his wife to Netanya for five days. The following Sunday, they again visited the Rebbetzin. She turned to Chani and told her in Yiddish, “You’re pregnant.” A blood test the next day verified the Rebbetzin’s words.

Three years later, Eli and Chani had moved to Antwerp. On Succos they visited Jerusalem together with Eli’s parents. Chani was expecting their third child, but it was too soon to tell their parents or the Rebbetzin. On the intermediate days of the holiday, Eli, Chani, and his parents visited Rebbetzin Chaya Sara. Chani walked in carrying a heavy bag. The Rebbetzin immediately turned to Eli and told him, “Take the bag, because your wife is pregnant.” His parents were totally surprised.

In Antwerp one Shabbos in 2001, Chani, in terrible pain, had to be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. Her breathing was so labored that the medics had to put her on oxygen. At the hospital, the doctors diagnosed a kidney stone. Whereas most kidney stones are small and pass out of the body naturally, this kidney stone was large and lodged in a place from which it would not budge. The doctors asserted that there was no way to get rid of the kidney stone except through emergency surgery. They scheduled the surgery for the first thing Monday morning.

 “There will be no operation.”

Early Sunday morning, with his wife still in excruciating pain, Eli phoned Rebbetzin Chaya Sara in Jerusalem. She declared: “There will be no operation.” Eli explained that the surgeons had said there was no alternative to surgery, but the Rebbetzin only repeated, “There will be no operation.”

That evening, the nurses prepped Chani, still suffering intense pain, for surgery the next morning. Eli stayed with her until late in the evening, and then left to go home. A half hour later Eli was still en route when his cell phone rang. It was Chani. “I have no pain,” she declared in wonderment.

Eli turned the car around and rushed back to the hospital. He told the doctors on duty that he wanted another scan. They performed the scan, and, to their amazement, the kidney stone had disappeared. Chani was discharged that very night.

YOSSI’S STORY

When Eli and Chani’s son Yossi was ten months old, they noticed that he was very pale and weak. On a Thursday afternoon, they took him to a pediatrician, who ordered a blood test. At 11 PM that night, the phone rang. Their pediatrician, sounding grave, informed them that the blood test revealed that Yossi had no iron at all in his blood. He needed an emergency transfusion, scheduled for 6 AM the next morning.

At the hospital at dawn, two specialists sat down with Eli and Chani and told them that they believed that Yossi was suffering from leukemia. His hands trembling, Eli left the room and phoned Rebbetzin Chaya Sara. She told him: “Everything will be all right. Do the transfusion, but it’s not what the doctors say.”

After the transfusion, Yossi’s blood was taken for tests. Eli and Chani were informed that it would take four hours for the results to reveal whether Yossi was indeed suffering from the lethal disease. During those four hours, the young parents felt like they were in shark-infested waters; their only life raft was Rebbetzin Chaya Sara’s reassuring words.

At the end of the interminable four hours, the doctors, not masking their surprise, announced that Yossi did not have leukemia after all. That one transfusion was sufficient to restore his health.

STILL WATCHING OVER THEM

During the period 2000-2002, most hi-tech companies crashed. Nervous, Eli and Shaya considered liquidating their company. Rebbetzin Chaya Sara told them not to, to stay in there and weather the storm. They emerged from that disastrous period not only intact, but prosperous.

Whenever Shaya went to visit Rebbetzin Chaya Sara, he always had Eli in Antwerp on the line on his cell phone. Every erev Yom Kippur, Shaya went to Rebbetzin Chaya Sara for a blessing. She would write their names and the names of their wives in her prayer book. On the last Yom Kippur of her life, the Rebbetzin took Shaya’s cell phone from his hand and said to Eli: “I asked my husband before he died, ‘Who will support me?’ He turned around to me and said, ‘Don’t worry. Whoever will support you will have big yeshuos [salvations].'”

Eli and Shaya felt that this was her way of thanking them for their years of support.

The salvations, however, did not end with Rebbetzin Chaya Sara’s demise. As Eli declared two years after her passing, “We still believe that our success these days is because of her. She always said she would look after us.”

This Wednesday night, May 20, is the 10th yahrzeit of Rebbetzin Chaya Sara (bat Mendel Yosef). Please light a candle in her memory. (www.aish.com)

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Behar-Bechukosai Inspiration 5775


In this week’s parasha we learn about the precept that the Jewish People are servants of HaShem and not servants to servants. Essentially, the charge at Sinai was that we should become servants of HaShem, as it is said (Shemos 3:12) בְּהוֹצִיאֲךָ אֶת הָעָם מִמִּצְרַיִם תַּעַבְדוּן אֶת הָאֱלֹהִים עַל הָהָר הַזֶּה, when you take the people out of Egypt, you will serve G-d on this mountain. Yet, perhaps we can strive higher.

In the Rosh HaShanah prayers we beseech HaShem אם כבנים, אם כעבדים. אם כבנים, רחמנו כרחם אב על בנים. ואם כעבדים,עינינו לך תלויות, עד שתחננו ותוציא לאור משפטנו, איום, קדוש, whether as children [of G-d] or as servants. If as children, be merciful with us as the mercy of a father for children. If as servants, our eyes [look toward and] depend upon You, until You be gracious to us and release our verdict [clear and pure] as light, O Awesome and Holy One. The Sfas Emes interprets this supplication to mean that if we are like servants, then our eyes are turned towards Him, until He favors us like sons.

We can suggest that although at Sinai we became servants of HaShem, we should not suffice with that level of service. A servant knows who His master is and serves Him accordingly. A son does everything he can to please his father.

At the end of Behar we are reminded that we are HaShem’s servants. In the beginning of Bechukosai HaShem enjoins us to toil in Torah. For one to truly experience the meaning of toiling in Torah, one has to feel like a son to his father. When one feels HaShem’s love and endearment, he will use every minute to toil in Torah or support those who study Torah.

Have a Shabbos filled with love and endearment for HaShem and His Torah.

Good Shabbos and Good Chodesh!

Rabbi Adler

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Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim: Behar-Bechukosai 5775


Behar-Bechukosai 5775

New Stories Behar-Bechukosai 5775

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Behar-Bechukosai 5775

Sustenance, Torah and Shabbos

Introduction

In the difficult economic times that are currently prevalent, it is worth noting that this week’s parasha provides the solution. It is said (Vayikra 26:3) im bichukosai teileichu, if you will follow My decrees. Rashi quotes the Toras Kohanim that interprets this verse to mean, “if you toil in Torah,” then you will receive all the blessings mentioned further on. The Medrash (Vayikra Rabbah 35:1) states that it is said (Tehillim 119:59) chishavti derachai vaashivah raglai el eidosecho, I considered my ways and returned my feet to Your testimonies. Dovid HaMelech said, “Master of the world! Every day I calculated where I would go, and my feet brought me of their own accord to the synagogues and study halls.” This is what is meant when it is said “and returned my feet to Your testimonies.”

Running to your sustenance or away from it?

The Pinei Menachem writes that it is said in the name of one of the Mussar giants that he once witnessed a person running. The mussar giant queried the person regarding his destination and the person responded that he was running to attain his livelihood. The Mussar giant asked, “how do you know for certain that the destination which you are running to is where you will find your livelihood? Perhaps your sustenance is right here and your running is distancing you from it.” The Pinei Menachem writes that perhaps this is the meaning of the Medrash that Dovid declared, “Master of the world! Every day I calculated where I would go, and my feet brought me of their own accord to the synagogues and study halls.” A person thinks that he will go after hours to grab more business in another place, when in reality, the opposite is true. One who enters the study hall to engage in Torah study is the one who really attains something.

Torah is primary and earning a livelihood is secondary

Let us understand this idea. HaShem certainly wishes that a person should make a living, and one never knows from which source he will earn his livelihood. How can a person then justify his time studying Torah if at that time he is really required to earn a livelihood? While there are no clear answers to this question, it would appear that even according to the opinion of Rabbi Yishmael (Brachos 35b) that one must study Torah and conduct himself in the ways of the world, ones thoughts should always be on returning to the study hall to engage in Torah study. Regarding Torah study it is said (Yirmiah 33:25) koh amar HaShem im lo brisi yomam valaylah chukos shamayim vaaretz lo samti, thus said HaShem: If My covenant with the night and with the day would not be; had I not set up the laws of heaven and earth. The Gemara (Pesachim 68b) understands that this verse means that if not for the Jewish People engaging in Torah study, the world would not have reason to be in existence. One can certainly admit that one was not created to earn a livelihood. Rather, earning a livelihood is a penalty for Adam HaRishon having sinned, and so that one should not remain idle. Thus, while one is required to earn a livelihood, his thoughts should always be on the true accomplishment in life, which is the study of the Holy Torah.

The Shabbos connection

The Medrash (Tana Divei Eliyahu) states that HaShem tells the Jewish People, “Although you work during the six days of the week, Shabbos should be entirely Torah.” The Zohar states that the six days of the week find their source of blessing in Shabbos. It would behoove all of us to strengthen our Shabbos observance and toil in the study of Torah on Shabbos, and then HaShem will surely provide us with a proper livelihood, which we can use to serve Him even more.

Shabbos in the Zemiros

Yom Zeh LiYisroel

Some opinions attribute the authorship of this Zemer to the Arizal.

שַׁבָּת וּמוֹעֲדִים, לִשְׁמֹר בְּכָל שָׁנַי, The Shabbos and festivals – to keep through all my years. The Medrash equates the observance of the festivals to the observance of the Shabbos. While Shabbos carries with a more severe penalty for its transgressors, the festivals are equally important to observe because through the festivals we recognize the miracles that HaShem performed for us upon the Exodus from Egypt. Furthermore, the commentators write that the joy of the festivals supersedes the joy that we experience on Shabbos, as the light of the festivals is a glimpse into the primordial light that HaShem concealed for the righteous in the future.

Shabbos Stories

Good Shabbos to the trees

Rabbi Yissachar Frand writes: Rav Mordechai Gifter (1916-2001) related an incident involving the Ponovezer Rav (1886-1969). In a Shemittah year, the Ponovezer Rav went over to a tree, kissed the tree and said “Good Shabbos to you.” Just like there is a special day – Shabbos – on which we have to feel special, so too in Eretz Yisroel during the Shemittah year, it is Shabbos for the land.

 There’s always a better tomorrow

Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffman writes: A teacher once told me: “Even when I get very upset at a student; even when I’ve had to punish him severely, and inside I’m burning at his lack of derech eretz (manners), I still smile at him and tell him “A gutten tug” before he leaves my classroom. I know tomorrow he’ll be back, and even though today was a total failure, tomorrow is another day, and hopefully a better one. But if he thinks that I’ve given up on him, why should he even bother trying harder tomorrow?”

Rabbi Hoffman writes further: It is told that, as an orphaned boy just past the age of bar-mitzvah, Yisrael Meir Kagan – later known as the Chofetz Chaim – studied in Vilna under a renowned teacher and mentor whose other disciples were four and five years his elder. Yisrael Meir’s great mind, it seems, came to the attention of the city’s powerful Haskalah (“Enlightenment”) movement, which sought to introduce Yeshiva students to the world of secular culture. The maskilim ran a government-sponsored academy in the city, and they greatly desired to lure the young prodigy to join their academy. In his own quiet but determined way, Yisrael Meir resisted all their attempts.

On one occasion, the dean of the academy challenged him: “Do not the Sages state, of those who toil in Torah, ‘You are fortunate, and all is good for you! (Tehillim 128:2)’ – ‘you are fortunate in This World, and all is good for you in the World to Come! (Avos 6:4)’ Now, can you honestly tell me that this is so? So many Torah scholars live in abject poverty and deprivation! Where is the happiness? Where is the fortune?”

“Show me true toil in Torah,” the youth answered with quiet conviction, “and I will show you true happiness and fortune.” [For Love of Torah p. 151-152]

Rabbi Hoffman writes further: There’s another reason why our humble Torah and mitzvos may in fact be very dear in Hashem’s eyes. The Chofetz Chaim used to explain this with a parable: In the early 1900’s, in a large Russian city, a grain merchant complained to the Chofetz Chaim about his difficulty making a living. At the time, there was an abundance of grain, and the Chofetz Chaim was surprised that with such favorable conditions it was hard to be successful.

“It’s a buyer’s market,” the merchant said. “There’s so much grain to be sold that the buyers pick and choose only the highest grade – and that at bargain prices. Plus, they force me to extend them credit, and it takes me forever to see my money. They leave me with all the low-grade produce, which I’m forced to sell for almost nothing to farmers and cattle-raisers for animal feed.”

Many years later, after WW1 had taken its toll, and food and produce were scarce, the Chofetz Chaim again met the merchant. “How’s business?” he asked.

“Rebbe, Baruch HaShem it’s great! There’s a severe shortage of grain on the market. Whenever I have grain to sell, the buyers line-up in anticipation. An ad-hoc auction ensues, and I’m able to sell my produce at a very handsome mark-up. They’re so desperate to buy that they don’t even check the quality – they’re ready to take shipment immediately, sight unseen! And they pay up-front in cash. I make more today on one wagon-load of grain than I did years ago on a month’s worth!”

“Do you hear?” the Chofetz Chaim used to tell people when he would relate this incident. “When there’s abundance, things are cheap and buyers are picky. But when there’s a shortage, prices are high and no one even checks to see how good the merchandise is! In our forefathers’ times – in the times of the Tanaim, Amoraim, Geonim, Rishonim – even the early Acharonim, there was a great abundance of Torah. Their minds were brilliant, and they had tremendous patience and discipline. Back then, only the purest Torah – that learned with a perfect heart and righteous intentions (lishma) – was acceptable.

“But in our times,” he would say, “there’s such a severe shortage of Torah and mitzvos that they’re ‘selling’ at massive premiums – and Hashem hardly even checks the quality of the ‘merchandise!’ ‘Just bring me all your Torah and mitzvos,’ He says. Nowadays, whatever a Yid can do has value we can’t even begin to estimate!”

A learned Talmid Chacham once remarked to me, “Who can imagine the sechar (reward) for those who choose to dedicate their lives to Torah study in our times, when there’s so much out there to distract and divert, and when true dedication and commitment are such rare qualities.” Our mitzvos may indeed pale in comparison to the deeds of earlier generations, but when there’s a shortage in the market, and we’ve got the merchandise, we’d be fools not to maximize our leverage and “sell” whatever we possibly can. (www.Torah.org)

Shabbos in Halacha

לישה – Kneading

2. The Kneading Process

B.  The Two Categories of Mixtures

 Watery Mixtures

Mixing solid particles with so much liquid that will result in a watery mixture, which has no body at all, is not deemed to be kneading and is permitted. For this reason, one would be permitted to prepare chocolate milk or baby formula.

Nevertheless, one must be careful to mix the powder with a lot of liquid at once. Mixing it gradually with small amounts of liquid will initially result in the formation of a paste, which is prohibited.

Shabbos Ta’am HaChaim: Behar-Bechukosai 5775

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New Stories Behar-Bechukosai 5775

The Hidden Jews of Montana?

Sarah McConnell and the indestructible power of the Jewish spark.

by Sara Yoheved Rigler  

Sarah McConnell was born in Missoula, Montana, in 1972. Her father’s family, proud descendants of the Ulster Scots, were avid genealogists. They traced their family tree back to the Revolutionary War and a Lieutenant McConnell, who fought under General George Washington. With her sterling credentials, Sarah was accepted into the select Daughters of the American Revolution.

Her mother’s family was much harder to trace. Sophie, the great-great-grandmother who had come to Montana in the early 1900s, was from Europe, but throughout her life she refused to divulge her maiden name or where she had come from. Moreover, she had cut off all contact with her European relatives. Immigrating to America at the age of 20, on the boat Sophie married a man named Kasinov.

As Sarah wonders, “They never shared anything about their journey in terms of how they got to Montana or how they got out of Europe. I don’t know the ports they left from, who their family was, or any details. I have always found that strange, because in the other branches of my family, we have a ton of oral history passed down through generations. People love to talk about it.”

“No one in my family is going to marry a Jew.”

When Sarah’s mother Janet was in university, what Sarah calls, “the one Jewish man in Montana” courted her. When he asked Janet’s father for her hand in marriage, however, Sarah’s grandfather flatly refused, declaring, “No one in my family is going to marry a Jew.”

When he was 83 years old, Sarah presented him with evidence that he himself had likely married a Jew.

Unlike almost all of their neighbors, Sarah’s grandmother Lucy and great-grandmother Anna did not belong to any church. When Anna was on her deathbed, someone tried to convince her to accept Yoshke. Her adamant response was: “I will NEVER accept Yoshke!”

“You’re a Jew”

Sarah has dark, curly hair and what many would call a “Jewish nose.” Nevertheless, it’s hard to account for the repeated, uncanny instances of people labeling her a Jew.

Sarah’s husband and two sons

Sarah’s father, Dr. Robert McConnell, PhD, is an academic, so the family moved several times as she was growing up. She spent her high school years in Indiana, in a town founded by German immigrants. Fellow students made fun of her, calling her “a Jew.” Recalls Sarah, “The students in the high school I attended were extremely anti-Semitic. I cannot tell you how I was bullied every day because they believed I was a Jew.”

When Sarah was a freshman in high school, she had a Jewish drama teacher who cast Sarah as one of the lead roles in the Holocaust play, I Never Saw Another Butterfly. When Sarah questioned why she had been given the part, her teacher replied, “I feel like you’re of my people.”

At the age of 21, Sarah went to France. Several French Algerian Muslim girls sought her out in order to improve their English. One of her Muslim friends took Sarah’s picture, and showed it to her brother. The next day she told Sarah, “My brother says you’re Jewish. He doesn’t like Jewish people.” Sarah felt maligned by her friend’s comment, but reassured her that her physical appearance must have come from an Italian great-great grandmother on her father’s side. Although her Italian relatives were actually very fair, Sarah could think of no other explanation.

After getting her Master’s Degree at University of York in England, Sarah moved to Seattle, Washington, and got a job in information technology.

She became engaged to a man named Edward. Although Sarah was always kind to Ed’s mother, she hated Sarah, accusing her of being Jewish. Eventually, Ed’s mother forced him to break the engagement.

Broken-hearted, Sarah moved to a different town in Washington and searched for a new job. A female recruiter picked up Sarah’s resume and asked her out for coffee. She told Sarah that she herself was Jewish and added, “You look like the women in Israel. Are you Jewish?”

I always felt a kinship to the Jewish People.

Sarah responded, “Thank you. That’s a wonderful compliment because I always felt a kinship to the Jewish People.”

Some time afterward, Sarah set up her profile on a dating website. She used very specific search criteria to be matched, including the word “Christian,” but no good matches came up. One day, gripped by a strong feeling, she deleted the word “Christian” and replaced it with “Jewish.” The very first profile that came up, along with 100% matching criteria, was of a Russian Jew named Vladislav.

Vladislav was doing his second year of medical residency in Olympia, Washington. Both Sarah and Vlad were 29 years old. As soon as they met in person, they felt an immediate affinity.

Vlad’s parents, although nonobservant, were adamant that he should marry only a Jew. Early on in their dating, the subject of her not being Jewish came up. Vlad would call Sarah his “Yenta.” She would reply, “Well, I don’t think that’s the case.”

He would answer with conviction, “I really feel like you are Jewish.”

She would respond, “That sounds like wishful thinking.”

Although trained as a scientist, Vlad would insist, “I don’t think so. I really do feel that you are Jewish.”

Succumbing to parental pressure, Vlad broke up with Sarah five times. The irony: One prospective mother-in-law rejected Sarah because she thought she was Jewish, and another rejected her because she thought she wasn’t.

Finally, they eloped to Idaho in 2003.

The Spain Connection

A few years later, Sarah became involved again in researching her family tree. She had her father’s side in perfect detail, but her matrilineal line was still a mystery. “I was frustrated,” she recalls, “that there was nothing on my matrilineal line back in Europe.”

Sarah decided to do a DNA test on her matrilineal line. The results that came back shocked her. Her DNA put her in a cohort of almost 100 people, all of them Jews, and most of them Sephardic Jews. (Sephardic Jews are descended from Jews who chose to leave Spain in 1492 rather than convert to Christianity.)

Sarah phoned the DNA company and asked them if there was a mistake. They explained to her their strict testing protocols and their high rate of accuracy. There was no mistake, they assured her.

When Sarah informed her mother of what she had discovered, Janet responded, “Are you sure?” Sarah repeated the DNA company’s assurances. Her mother was silent for a few moments, and then said simply, “It makes sense.” Janet admitted that she had always wondered if their roots were Jewish.

The DNA results spurred Sarah to do a genealogical search of her matrilineal line. She discovered, through Ellis Island records, that her great-great grandmother, who had emigrated from Europe and had refused to divulge her maiden name, was named “Sophie Schaub.”

Sarah then researched the name “Schaub” on a Jewish genealogy database, and found “Schaub” on a registry of Jews in Spain in the late 1400s. From two directions, DNA testing and genealogy, the trail led back to the same place: the Jews of Spain.

“We come from a long line of rabbis who would rather die by the sword than convert.”

According to Jewish law, DNA testing does not determine one’s Jewishness. While Sarah’s status as a Jew has yet to be determined by rabbinical authorities, she believes she has discovered an “unbroken matrilineal line” reaching from 15th century Spain to 20th century Montana. Sarah, her husband, and two sons celebrate the Jewish holidays and are in the process of choosing a synagogue. Her journey continues.

She has made contact with many of the people who share her DNA profile. One such woman in France told her: “We come from a long line of rabbis who would rather die by the sword than convert.”

Is it possible that a spark of Jewish soul survived for five centuries, from the Spanish heroes who sacrificed everything rather than submit to the Church, through Sophie Schaub, who deliberately buried her Jewishness, yet whose daughter Anna, unaware of her heritage, on her deathbed proclaimed, “I will NEVER accept Yoshke,” to a modern Midwesterner whose Jewish spark, flickering after generations of assimilation and intermarriage, still radiated a light that so many saw? (www.aish.com)

 

 

 

 

 

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Emor Inspiration 5775


The Book of Vayikra is referred to as Toras Kohanim, the laws of the Kohanim, and this weeks’ parasha, or, certainly fits that appellation, as the bulk of the parasha discusses laws for the Kohanim regarding purity and impurity, blemishes, and how the non-Kohanim are required to treat the Kohanim. The Parasha begins with the words (Vayikra 21:1) וַיֹּאמֶר יְ-ה-וָ-ה אֶל מֹשֶׁה אֱמֹר אֶל הַכֹּהֲנִים בְּנֵי אַהֲרֹן וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם לְנֶפֶשׁ לֹא יִטַּמָּא בְּעַמָּיו, HaShem said to Moshe: Say to the Kohanim, the sons of Aharon, and tell them: Each of you shall not contaminate himself to a [dead] person among his people. The word אֱמֹר, besides for the literal meaning of saying, also can be interpreted to mean praise (See Rashi Devarim 26:17-18). The Kohanim are praiseworthy because they wear clothing of splendor and they conduct themselves in a priestly and regal manner. Similarly, the non-Kohanim are required to glorify the Kohen, by granting him the first Aliyah to the Torah, proffering upon the Kohen to lead Bircas HaMazon, and other honorifics. Nonetheless, this parasha is also about the glory of the entire Jewish People.

The Rambam (Hilchos Bais Habechirah 8:1) writes that there is a positive commandment to guard the Bais HaMikdash. The Rambam continues and writes that although there is no concern to be fearful of enemies and bandits, the guarding of the Bais HaMikdash is a sign of honor. It is not the same a palace that is guarded as opposed to a palace that is left unguarded. What does this statement of the Rambam and the laws regarding the Kohanim teach us? Every Jew is a vehicle of holiness and one needs to safeguard and glorify that holiness. Even without a Bais HaMikdash and the Kohanim serving, it is incumbent upon us to erect safeguards to retain our holiness. We must protect our homes from foreign influences, and even more so our minds and the minds of our children. Hashem should give us the courage and determination to resist the blandishments of society and then we will merit the rebuilding of the Third Bais HaMikdash with the Kohanim serving, the Leviim singing, and the entire Jewish People restored to our dwellings, with the arrival of Moshiach Tzikdeinu, speedily, in our days.

Have a Protected and Holy Shabbos!

Rabbi Adler

 

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Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim: Emor 5775


Emor 5775

New Stories Emor 5775

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim

Emor 5775

Sticking Together

Introduction

In this week’s parasha, the Torah informs us of the man who was a son of an Egyptian man and a Jewish woman, who blasphemed using the Name of HaShem. This man was sentenced to death by stoning. The Medrash (Toras Kohanim) states that the background of this incident was that this man sought to pitch his tent in the encampment of the tribe of Dan, and he was informed that the encampment was determined by the lineage of one’s father. In this man’s case, he was out of the pale, as his father was an Egyptian. The man then went to Moshe to adjudicate his case and he was found guilty, so he blasphemed by using HaShem’s Name.

The mekallel and the mekosheish were at the same time

What is the lesson that is contained in this incident? There is an interesting statement in the Medrash that at first glance does not appear to have any connection with the incident. The Medrash (Toras Kohanim Vayikra 24:10) states that the incident with the mekallel, i.e. the blasphemer, and the incident regarding the mekosheish, the one who gathered wood on Shabbos, were at the same time. The Baal HaTurim (Ibid) writes that this teaches us that one who desecrates the Shabbos is akin to one who denies the existence of HaShem. It would seem that there is another lesson that can be derived from the fact that incidents regarding the mekallel and the mekosheish occurred at the same time.

The encampment of the Jewish People in the Wilderness was one of unity

The encampment in the Wilderness was not merely a practical method of settling the Jewish People while they sojourned in the Wilderness. Rather, the Medrash (Bamidbar Rabbah 2:3) teaches us at the Giving of the Torah, that the Jewish People witnessed the encampment of the angels in heaven and they desired that encampment. Thus, the encampment of the Jewish People in the Wilderness was a matter of holiness and endearment. This was the encampment that the son of the Egyptian wished to become a part of. Ina addition to the fact that the encampment was determined by the paternal lineage, there was another element to this encampment. The aspect of this encampment that this man failed to appreciate was the fact that the encampment was to be akin to the encampment at Sinai, where the Jewish People encamped as one man with one heart, in unity. The son of the Egyptian, however, demonstrated with his behavior the antithesis of this ideal, and he stirred up controversy in the Wilderness. It was his contentiousness that ultimately led to his punishment by stoning.

The Shabbos connection

Shabbos is a time when the Jewish People, are all united, despite the struggles that we encounter during the week. It is noteworthy that it is said (Shemos 31:16) vishamru vinei Yisroel es haShabbos laasos es haShabbos ledorosam bris olam, the Children of Israel shall observe the Shabbos, to make the Shabbos an eternal covenant for their generations. The Zohar states that the word ledorosam can be read lidirosam, to dwell amongst them. This idea can be interpreted to mean that on Shabbos, we are all required to dwell together in unity. It is for this reason that the incident of the mekallel and the incident of the mekosheish are juxtaposed, to teach us how much one should distance himself from strife and quarrel, and instead to seek peace. Shabbos is referred to as shalom, and we should all merit observing Shabbos in unity and tranquility.

Shabbos in the Zemiros

Yom Zeh LiYisroel

Some opinions attribute the authorship of this Zemer to the Arizal.

צִוִּיתָ פִּקּוּדִים, בְּמַעֲמַד הַר סִינַי, You commanded precepts at the Assembly of Sinai. The Sfas Emes writes that the word מצוה is associated with the word צבתא, meaning to forge a connection. When we perform mitzvos we connect to HaShem. When the Jewish People stood at Mount Sinai, we were like one man with one heart, a reflection of unity. In truth, it sis the study of Torah and performance of mitzvos that binds us together to be like one. HaShem should allow us to study His Torah and perform His mitzvos, thus allowing all Jews to be one inseparable unit.

Shabbos Stories

Mitzvah Vigilante

Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky writes: This past Thursday evening I went to be Menachem Avel (in the vernacular pay a shiva call) a friend, Rabbi Zissel Zelman, who was sitting shiva for his father. He is a Chicago native whose father, Rabbi Zelman, grew up in Chicago way before Torah Judaism had flourished there. Reb Zissel related that as a young man, his father would pass the newsstand every Saturday night after shul to pick up a paper. As he did not carry money with him, he had made an arrangement with the vendors to return on Sunday morning to pay the vendor.

Rabbi Zelman was not interested in the sports pages nor was he interested in the headlines. In fact he was not interested in the paper altogether. Rabbi Zelman bought the paper for his mother. She also was not interested in the sports or the news. She was interested in the dead. Every Saturday night she would comb the paper looking for announcements of tombstone unveilings that were to take place on Sunday at the Jewish Cemeteries. An unveiling is a time when people are charitable, and the elderly Mrs. Zelman would go to the cemeteries and raise funds from the gathered for Yeshivos in Europe in Israel. She would eventually turn the coins into bills and send the money overseas. A plaque hangs today in the Slobodka Yeshiva in Israel commemorating her efforts.

Rabbi Kamenetzky writes further: My grandfather, Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetzky, of blessed memory, told me the story of how, as the Rav of Toronto, he was quickly introduced to a new world, far different than the world he was accustomed to as the Rav of the tiny Lithuanian shtetl of Tzitivyan, which he left in 1937. One of his congregants had invited him to a pidyon haben, a special ceremony and feast made when a first-born child reaches thirty days old and his father redeems him from the kohen for five silver shekels (dollars).

Entering the hall, Rav Yaakov was impressed by the beautiful meal prepared in honor of the event. He was reviewing the procedure, and the interaction with the Kohen that would frame the event, when the father of the child introduced Rav Yaakov to his father-in-law, a Mr. Segal. Suddenly, Rav Yaakov realized that there was trouble. If Mr. Segal was a Levite, as the name Segal traditionally denotes (Segan Likohen, an assistant to the Kohen), than there would be no need for a Pidyon Haben. For, if the mother of the child is the daughter of either a Kohen or Levi, then no redemption is necessary.

“Mr. Segal,” asked Rav Yaakov, “are you by any chance a Levi?” “Of course!” beamed the elderly Segal.

Rav Yaakov tried to explain to the father of the child that a pidyon haben was unnecessary, but the father was adamant. He had prepared a great spread, appointed a kohen, and even had the traditional silver tray sprinkled with garlic and sugar cubes, awaiting the baby. He wanted to carry out the ceremony!

It took quite a while for Rav Yaakov to dissuade the man that this was no mitzvah, and to perform the ceremony with a blessing would be not only superfluous, but also irreverent and a transgression.

(In fact, one apocryphal ending has the father complaining, “What do you mean, I don’t have to make a pidyon haben? I made one for my first son and I’m going to make one for this son!”)

Ultimately, Rav Yaakov, convinced the man to transform the celebration into a party commemorating his child’s 30th day entered in good health, an important milestone with many halachic ramifications.  (www.Torah.org)

 Shabbos in Halacha

לישה – Kneading

  1. The Kneading Process

 The Two Categories of Mixtures

 בלילה רכה – A Loose Mixture

A ‘loose’ mixture is any batter or puree that has enough body to be perceived as one mass, yet will flow when poured from one bowl to another. This includes, as an example, applesauce, ketchup, or baby cereal made into a loose batter.

Preparing a loose mixture is forbidden only by Rabbinic Decree. Therefore, various leniencies apply with these loose mixtures that do not apply to thick mixtures, as we will see in the next section.

Shabbos Ta’am HaChaim: Emor 5775

Sponsorships $180.00

Have a Wonderful Shabbos

Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler

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New Stories Emor 5775

Finding Patience

We were newly married, just moved to Israel and everything was going wrong.

by Sara Debbie Gutfreund     

When my husband and I made aliyah we shipped all of our appliances and furniture months in advance to Israel and rented an empty apartment in the city of Petach Tikva. We arrived in the heat of the summer and discovered that there was a strike at the port. We didn’t know how long the strike would last but we figured it would probably be a day or two.

So we slept on the floor and ate anything that didn’t need to be refrigerated, washed down with warm iced tea. The sweltering, summer sun spilled into the apartment as we tried to make the best of the situation. After a week with no sign of our lift, we bought a fan and then a second one, but all they did was blow the hot air in circles around us. We ate all of our meals sitting on the bare living room floor, and we continued living out of our suitcases as the strike dragged on for a month.

We were newly married and both in graduate school at the time. We’d come home to our tiny apartment each night, hot and tired and frustrated, with piles of textbooks in our arms, wondering when the strike would end. How was I supposed to concentrate on my studies when I was sleeping on a hard floor every night with no air conditioning in hundred degree weather? How many more weeks were we going to eat just plain bread and crackers? And how would our fragile, new marriage fare under these circumstances? Would we each have enough patience to get through this summer?

We spent hours in the coffee shop across the street inhaling cold drinks and much needed air conditioning. And we watched each other carefully. What were we going to do?

One afternoon on my way home from class, I spotted someone selling little yellow chicks at the bus station in town. I thought of the empty floor space in our apartment and decided to surprise my husband with our first pet. That night we sat on the floor eating our bread and watching our new chick run around the living room. The chick was adorable and its bright sun-colored fur lit up the dark corners in our unfamiliar surroundings. It became a symbol of the patience we were each trying to find within ourselves. It became the silver lining that we were looking for in the endless weeks of frustration.

The strike ended up lasting another month and during that time we got to know each other in ways we never would have if the strike had never happened. Our marriage grew more in those first couple of months than I would have ever thought possible. I learned to let go of what I envisioned our first months in Israel would look like. No home-cooked meals and sitting on the living room couches. No closets to hang up our clothes or shelves upon which to place our framed wedding pictures. Instead we were thrust into a situation where everything was going wrong, but we had a precious opportunity to somehow make it right for us.

And I learned then that God was the One in charge of our appliances and our furniture, and that He would bring them to us when He thought we were ready for them. I watched the little yellow ball of fur that we named Yehoshua run around our notebooks as we studied, and I thought of how important it was to be able to let go of yesterday’s expectations and let today’s happiness weave around us instead.

As I worked on letting go of how I thought everything should be, I began to realize that all worthwhile achievements take time. That marriage was like that too. It would take time and investment and nurturing just like the new home we were building together would take months to finally settle into. I learned to appreciate that there are no short cuts to life’s greatest gifts.

After finally receiving all of our furniture and appliances, I sometimes missed sleeping on the floor and having our picnics in the living room. And when I needed a reminder that I had within myself the patience to cope even when everything was going wrong, I would look at our tiny chick hiding underneath our dining room table, wondering where all his running space had gone. (www.aish.com)

 

 

 

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Acharei-Mos-Kedoshim Inspiration 5775


Parashas Acharei-Mos and Kedoshim discuss the prohibitions of licentious relationships. One must wonder why the Torah would need to elaborate on an area that sane people find repulsive. We can safely assume that the prohibition against licentious relationships is dissimilar to the prohibition of eating pig, where Rashi (Vayikra 20:26) cites the Medrash that states that one should not say, “I am not interested in eating pig or wearing shaatnez (clothing comprised of wool and linen).” Rather, one should declare, “I desire to eat pig and wear shaatnez, but my Father in heaven has decreed that this is prohibited.” This being the case, why the focus on forbidden relationships which one does not desire?

There is an interesting Gemara (Yoma 69b) that states that the Sages sought to eradicate the desire for licentious relationships and ultimately they succeeded in some form (See Maharsha there and Rashi tם Sanhedrin 64a). One must wonder why the Sages were looking to negate something that the Torah had already forbidden. The Gemara states previously that the Sages had nullified the inclination for idolatry, because apparently idolatry was something that people desired. Why, however, did they seek to nullify the impulse for licentious relationships when this is something that people abhor?

I believe the answer can be found in our custom to read by Mincha of Yom Kippur the portion of Acharei-Mos that discusses the licentious relationships. On Yom Kippur we are akin to angels, where we do not engage in eating, drinking and marital relations. Nonetheless, the Sages required us to hear the portion in the Torah regarding licentious relationships so that one should  not even contemplate stumbling in a serious transgression on the holiest day of the year. Yes, we are holy and angelic, but we still possess freedom of choice. The prohibition of licentious relationships is not so much about the fact that a person desires these relationships. Rather, the Torah is instructing us as to how scrupulous we must be in refraining from sin. Indeed, Rashi in the beginning of Kedoshim teaches us that wherever there is a fence for immorality, that is where we can find holiness. The holiness of Yom Kippur, then, is due to our exercising restraint in the area of licentious relationships.

HaShem should give us the strength to refrain from sin and observe all of His Holy Mitzvos.

Have an Amazing Shabbos!

Rabbi Adler

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Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim: Acharei-Mos-Kedoshim 5775


Acharei-Mos-Kedoshim 5775

New Stories Acharei-Mos-Kedoshim 5775

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Acharei-Mos-Kedoshim 5775

Honoring ones parents and Shabbos

Introduction

In this week’s parasha, Kedoshim, it is said (Vayikra 19:3) ish imo viaviv tirau vies Shabsosai tishmoru ani HaShem Elokeichem, every man: your mother and father shall you revere and My Shabbosos shall you observe – I am HaShem, your G-d. Why is the mitzvah of observing Shabbos juxtaposed to the mitzvah of fearing ones parents? Rashi cites the Medrash that states that the Torah is teaching us that although one is required to fear his parents, if a parent instructs a child to violate the Shabbos, the child is prohibited from listening to the parent. The obvious question on this interpretation is, why did the Torah choose to juxtapose specifically the commandment of fearing ones parents next to the mitzvah of observing the Shabbos?

The reason why we honor our parents

In order to answer this question, it is important to gain an insight into the mitzvah of fearing ones parents. The Ramban (Shemos 20:12) writes that the reason why the Torah placed the mitzvah of honoring ones parents in the Ten Commandments to teach us that just as there is a mitzvah to acknowledge HaShem as our G-d and not to claim anything else as our creator, so too we are instructed to honor our parents and not to serve them for selfish motives. The Baal HaTurim (Ibid) writes that the Torah juxtaposes the mitzvah of honoring ones parents to the mitzvah of observing Shabbos, to teach us that just as one is required to honor the Shabbos, so too one is required to honor ones parents. Let us understand what the connection is between honoring the Shabbos and honoring ones parents.

The reward for honoring ones parents is primarily in the World to Come

The Gemara (Kiddushin 39b) states that the reward for observing the mitzvah of honoring ones parents is that one earns a portion in the World to Come. One must wonder why the Torah specifies that the reward for this mitzvah is in the world to Come. Is not the reward for all mitzvos in the World to Come? What is unique about the mitzvah of honoring ones parents? Perhaps the explanation for this is that regarding other mitzvos, one also benefits in this world. An example of this would be the mitzvah of loving another Jew. When one loves a fellow Jew, he is creating bonds of friendship, and he can also benefit from this relationship. When one honors his parents, however, he may be benefiting by having his parents treat him nicer. Nonetheless, it requires great effort to honor a parents’ wishes, and many times a parent instruct a child to perform an act that is contrary to the desires of the child. It is for this reason that the Torah specifies that the reward for honoring ones parents is primarily in the World to Come, when he will be able to discern the benefits of having performed this mitzvah. In a similar vein, Shabbos is a semblance of the World to Come. The reason for this is because there is a great effort involved in preparing for Shabbos, and as the Gemara (Avodah Zara 3a) states, one who prepares on Erev Shabbos will eat on Shabbos. Thus, we see a direct connection between the mitzvah of honoring and fearing ones parents and the mitzvah of observing Shabbos

The Shabbos connection

Throughout the week we are faced with forces and desires that are the antithesis of holiness and purity. We struggle each week to desist these forces and at times we may despair, thinking that we cannot be victorious in our struggle. Yet, HaShem has prepared the antidote before the blow, and in His infinite mercy, he has bestowed us with the special gift of Shabbos. HaShem offers us the Shabbos as a taste of the World to Come, when there will no longer be a struggle with our Evil Inclination, and we will all bask in His Presence, for eternity.

 Shabbos in the Zemiros

Yom Zeh LiYisroel

Some opinions attribute the authorship of this Zemer to the Arizal.

יוֹם זֶה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל אוֹרָה וְשִׂמְחָה שַׁבָּת מְנוּחָה, this day for Israel is light and gladness – Shabbos of contentment. This expression is derived from the verse that states (Esther 8:16) לַיְּהוּדִים הָיְתָה אוֹרָה וְשִׂמְחָה וְשָׂשֹׂן וִיקָר, the Jews had light and gladness and joy and honor.  What is light and what is joy? The first time the Torah mentions light is regarding the creation of light. The Gemara (Megillah 10b) states that when HaShem created the world, there was great joy. When the Jews were saved from Haman’s diabolical plot, there was great light and joy, as the world exists for the sake of the Jewish People. Similarly, when we enter into the Holy Shabbos, we experience light and joy, as without Shabbos we could not exist as a nation. The reason for this is because Shabbos is a testimony that HaShem created the world and were the Jewish People not commanded to observe the Shabbos, there would be no purpose to the existence of the world. Perhaps it is for this reason that the Halacha mandates that one not cry on Shabbos, as Shabbos is a time to rejoice in HaShem’s Kingship and in recognizing Him as the Creator of the world.

Shabbos Stories

Rav Chaim’s Request for Forgiveness

Rabbi Yissachar Frand writes: Acharei Mos is the parasha of the Yom Kippur service. The passuk says, “For on this day, He shall provide atonement for you to cleanse you, from all your sins before HaShem shall you be cleansed” [Vayikra 16:30]. Rabbi Elazar ben Azaria (in the last Mishnah of tractate Yoma [8:9]) derives the following lesson from that passuk: Sins between man and G-d Yom Kippur atones for, however Yom Kippur does not atone for sins against one’s fellow man, until he first appeases his fellow man.

The Gemara [Yoma 87a] states in the name of Rav Yitzchak: “Whoever angers his friend needs to appease him.” Rav Yitzchak cites as a proof a series of pessukim in Mishlei [6:1-3]: “My son, if you have been a guarantor for your friend, if you have given your handshake for a stranger, you have been trapped by the words of your mouth, snared by the words of your mouth, do this, therefore, my child and be rescued; for you have come into your fellow’s hand. Go humble yourself before him and placate your fellow.”

At first glance, this teaching of the Amora Rav Yitzchak seems very strange. Why do we need his exegesis from the pessukim in Mishlei to teach us the fact that one needs to appease his friend, if we have an explicit passuk from Chumash -– cited by the Tanna Rav Elazar ben Azaria — that teaches us the same thing?

Rav Chaim Soleveitchik explained the novelty of Rav Yitzchak’s teaching to his son, Rav Moshe Soleveitchik, in the course of an incident that happened in Brisk. A certain butcher came to the Beis Din of Rav Chaim Soleveitchik (Rav of Brisk) and Rav Simcha Zelig (Dayan of Brisk) asking them to adjudicate a din Torah involving a sum of 3,000 rubles. Rav Chaim suggested they make a compromise (peshara), but the butcher refused. The Beis Din then heard the case and decided against the butcher. The butcher reacted angrily to this, and started yelling at Rav Chaim, calling him a thief and a murderer.

Rav Chaim answered back: “When you came to this court, I suggested that you compromise with your disputant, but you refused. Since it was you who refused the compromise, it is not my fault that you have now lost 3,000 rubles. It is your own fault.” The butcher yelled even louder at Rav Chaim. Rav Chaim then said, “You disrespectful one, get out of here!”

On Erev Yom Kippur, Rav Chaim told his 3 sons that he must go to the butcher and ask for his forgiveness for the harsh words they exchanged that day in court. The Rav of Brisk accompanied by his 3 sons went to the shul where the butcher davened. Everyone was davening with their tallesim over their heads so it was impossible to tell who was who. Rav Chaim went around from person to person until he finally found the butcher. Rav Chaim then said, “I want to ask your forgiveness for calling you disrespectful and sending you out of my court.” The butcher turned to Rav Chaim -– right before Kol Nidrei — and said, “I do not forgive you. You are a thief and a murderer!”

Rav Chaim responded: “The halacha is that I must ask you three times in front of three people for forgiveness. I have brought my three sons here with me. Will you forgive me?” Again the response was “No!” The exchange was repeated three times and then Rav Chaim said, “I have discharged my duty and am ready to leave.” Before leaving he turned once more to the butcher and said, “You should know that at this point I am no longer obligated to ask for your forgiveness. In fact, you were the one who insulted me in the first place, and I had a right to respond in kind to your insolence. The only reason I came to appease you is because it is meritorious to overlook one’s honor and accept embarrassment rather than cause embarrassment to others. I was not obligated to ask your forgiveness, but I did it anyway, three times in front of three people. I am leaving. Now it is your problem!”

When they left the synagogue, Rav Moshe Soleveitchik asked his father why he went in the first place, when he never did anything wrong and it was the butcher who should have been asking for forgiveness all along.

Rav Chaim explained to his son that this was in fact the novelty in the ruling of Rav Yitzchak in Yoma. The passuk in Acharei Mos cited by Rav Elazar ben Azaria in the Mishneh teaches that if one WRONGS his fellow man, he must ask forgiveness. The pessukim in Mishlei expounded by Rav Yitzchak teach that if one angers his fellow man – even justifiably so – he still needs to try to make peace and ask for forgiveness.

This was not the type of “mechilah request” which would have held back the effectiveness of Rav Chaim’s Teshuvah vis a vis sins between man and G-d. Those are only for sins where you in fact harmed someone or insulted him inappropriately. Rav Yitzchak is saying a stronger teaching: Even when I am 100% right, if I utter harsh words against my fellow man, it is still appropriate for me to beg forgiveness and attempt to restore friendship between us.

This, Rav Chaim, said is the meaning of the Shulchan Aruch when it states that on Erev Yom Kippur, every person needs to ask for forgiveness from his fellow man. This halacha is difficult –- if I wronged someone, why should I wait until Erev Yom Kippur to make amends? The answer is that this law is not speaking about a case where I’ve wronged someone. Nevertheless, on Erev Yom Kippur there is a special obligation to make peace even when, strictly speaking, no amends are called for. (www.Torah.org)

Shabbos in Halacha

לישה – Kneading

  1. The Kneading Process

 B. The Two Categories of Mixtures

 בלילה עבה – A Thick Mixture

A mixture is deemed to be ‘thick’ when it forms a mass that does not flow, or flows very slowly, when poured. Examples of this are dough, egg or tuna salad, chopped liver, charoses, baby cereal (when made of a thick consistency) and mixtures of similar density. The Torah prohibition of kneading applies to all such mixtures.

Shabbos Ta’am HaChaim: Acharei-Mos-Kedoshim 5775

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New Stories Acharei Mos-Kedoshim 5775

He’s Just Not Our Man!

Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman, the Rosh Yeshiva of the Baranovitch Yeshiva, visited the United States in the latter part of the 1930s to raise funds for his yeshiva. Unfortunately, he made a greater impact on the America than America made on his yeshiva, and the funds raised did not help much. Reb Elchonon returned to a Poland clouded by the darkness of war to be with his students for the ensuing nightmare. The Nazis later murdered him together with his students in Kovno (Kaunus) Ghetto.

While he was in the United States, he was accompanied by young, enthusiastic students, my father amongst them, who felt privileged to help the great sage in his efforts.

Once, a student brought him to visit a wealthy man who had a philanthropic reputation. The bachur was confident that the meeting would prove successful. Unfortunately, the expectations proved fruitless, and Reb Elchonon and the student were shown to the door, empty-handed.

The young man left the house and sat down on the steps of the mansion utterly dejected. Reb Elchonon, who was quite tall, bent down to him, “Why are you so upset?” he asked softly.

“Upset? Why shouldn’t I be upset? This man has the ability to support your whole yeshiva for a year, and he sent us away as if he does not have the ability to give even a dime!”

Reb Elchonon smiled. “The Torah tells us that Moshe was told to choose Betzalel to build the Mishkan. Let us assume that Moshe went in the street and asked where he could find Betzalel. Moshe was told that Betzalel could be found in the Bais Medrash. He went into the Bais Medrash and asked someone, ‘Are you Betzalel?’ The man said no. Should Moshe have been upset? Of course not! It’s not the man’s fault that he was not Betzalel! He was not born Betzalel and his job was obviously not to be Betzalel! Moshe went to another man. Are You Betzalel? Again the man said no! Should Moshe have been angry with him? Again, of course not!

“Well, my son,” continued Reb Elchonon, “You can’t be upset with him! He is just not the man that was chosen to help!”

 A Deafening Silence

Rabbi Leibel Lam writes: Years ago I had the honor and privilege to hear the following story from Rabbi Shimshon Pincus ztl. He told us about a fine young man that had earned a marvelous Shidduch–marriage match with a prominent family. This young man was an only child born to his parents after twenty-four years of marriage. Rabbi Shimshon Pincus zt”l had asked the father if he had any sense of why they merited to have a child that year. Had there been any unusual incident? This was his story: After twenty three years of childless marriage and approaching the edge of despair the husband did what amounts to an act of desperation. He had heard that on the other side of Jerusalem there was a small Chassidic Synagogue that held out a special promise. Anyone who would attain for himself on the holy day of Yom Kippur the honor of Maftir Yonah their request would most certainly be answered in the affirmative.

So with that hope rooted firmly in his heart he migrated out of his comfort zone, his usual place in the Yeshiva, to where he would be a stranger. He arrived early enough on the eve of Yom Kippur and arranged for himself for a handsome price the coveted honor of Maftir Yonah. After Kol Nidre and all the evening prayers while exiting the synagogue he noticed a young man like himself seeming slightly out of place. He approached and asked him why he was praying here in this particular “Shteibl” for Yom Kippur. The young fellow told his tearful tale that he and his wife had been married for almost three years and they had not yet been blessed with children. He had heard that whoever would attain Maftir Yonah in this Synagogue would be granted their heart’s desire and he hoped to put in a modest bid for Maftir Yonah the next day. The man just listened with astonishment. He said nothing. He then picked himself up and left. That year his wife was expecting this special child.

He felt that his deepest wish was granted that year not because he got Maftir Yonah but rather because he chose to be quiet. Those unspoken words created a deafening silence. (www.Torah.org)

 

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