Erev Shabbos Kodesh Inspiration Shevii Shel Pesach 5776


Shevii Shel Pesach is one of those Yomim Tovim that defies description. Essentially, this day is merely another day of Pesach, where we recite Kiddush, eat meat and drink wine, and recite Hallel and Mussaf. What distinguishes this day from the rest of Pesach?

The Medrash (Shemos Rabbah 20:5) states that HaShem orchestrated Krias Yam Suf, the splitting of the Sea, so that the Jews should not forget that HaShem is their savior and they should cry out to him. I wonder, though, how this was justified? The Jewish People were deathly afraid of the Egyptians pursuing them, so could there not have been a less stressful method of reminding them that they must pray to HaShem?

The answer to this question is that the Egyptian exile was symbolized in the word רְדוּ, descend, which Yaakov instructed his sons when there was a hunger in the Land of Canaan. The Medrash (Bereishis Rabbah 91:2) states that the gematria of the word רְדוּ is 210, reflecting the amount of the years that the Jewish People sojourned in Egypt. The implication of this Medrash is that the Jews had to descend to Egypt, and apparently the descent continued until the splitting of the Sea. While the Jewish People were certainly on “the ascent,” i.e. they ascended from the depravity of the Egyptian society, they still were required to descend further. This descent, however, was not one of lowering themselves spiritually. On the contrary, HaShem instructed the Jewish People to travel into the Sea and trust in HaShem that He would save them.

It is noteworthy that when describing the splitting of the Sea, Dovid HaMelech states (Tehillim 114:4) הֶהָרִים רָקְדוּ כְאֵילִים גְּבָעוֹת כִּבְנֵי צֹאן, the mountains danced like young rams, the hills like young sheep. The word רָקְדוּ contains the word רְדוּ and the letter ק. This hints to the idea that the descent into Egypt and the “descent” into the Sea was for the purpose of praising HaShem. The Gemara (Menachos 43b) requires that one recite 100 blessings a day, and this is reflected in the letter ק, which equals in gematria 100. Additionally, it is said (Verse 7) מִלִּפְנֵי אָדוֹן חוּלִי אָרֶץ מִלִּפְנֵי אֱ-לוֹהַּ יַעֲקֹב, from before the Master, Who created the earth, from before the G-d of Yaakov. The first letters of these words equal in gematria 100, also reflecting the praise to HaShem.

Thus, although on the surface the Jewish People had good reason to be frightened, HaShem was actually giving them an opportunity to praise Him further. As Dovid HaMelech states (Tehillim 130:1) מִמַּעֲמַקִּים קְרָאתִיךָ יְ-הֹ-וָ-ה, from the depths I called out to You, HaShem. It is fascinating that the word מִמַּעֲמַקִּים contains the word עמק, which equals in gematria 210, and the word יָּם, which means sea, alluding to the idea that it was specifically from the depths of the 210 years of Egyptian exile and from descending into the Sea that the Jews cried out to HaShem. It is specifically when a person feels “down and out” that he has the greatest opportunity to praise HaShem and thank Him for all the miracles that He performs for him.

We should merit this Shevii Shel Pesach to ascend from our slumber of the exile and witness the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily, in our days.,

Have a Sea Splitting and Ascending Yom Tov and Shabbos!

Rabbi Adler

Erev Shabbos Kodesh Inspiration Shevii Shel Pesach 5776

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Inspiration Pesach 5776


As we sit down to the Seder tonight and recline like kings (and queens), we look back in history to the shameful experience of Yaakov putting up with his infamous father-in-law Lavan. The Torah states (Devarim 26:5) אֲרַמִּי אֹבֵד אָבִי, an Aramean tried to destroy my father. The Baal HaTurim (Bereishis 31:22)  tells us that it was Amalek who informed Lavan that Yaakov had fled, and it was the same Amalek who informed Pharaoh that the Jews fled Egypt. Given the fact that Amalek is always getting into the mix, we can suggest the following. The word אבד equals in gematria the word אגג, the archenemy of the Jewish People. When we recall the treachery of our enemies, we hint to Amalek and his nefarious progeny who consistently seek to destroy us. The antithesis of Agag and his evil descendant Haman was Mordechai, who was a thorn in Haman’s side and ultimately was the cause of Haman’s downfall. It is said (Esther 4:17) וַיַּעֲבֹר מָרְדֳּכָי, Mordechai then left, and the Gemara interprets the word וַיַּעֲבֹר to mean that Mordechai annulled the festivities of Pesach that year because of the harsh decree hanging over the Jewish People’s heads.

I heard from Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman Shlita that Mordechai and Esther said before HaShem, “HaShem, it is said (Zohar) that on Pesach night You and the entire Heavenly Abode descend to the homes of the Jews to delight in their celebration of Pesach, and this gives You great joy. If You allow Haman to have his way and annihilate the Jews, then You will never again be able to indulge in this delightful festival.” HaShem accepted this argument and caused the decree to be rescinded. In the merit  of Mordechai and Esther saving us from annihilation, we can recline by the Seder and experience true freedom.

It is noteworthy that the word מסבין equals in gematria the word בנימין, as both Mordechai and Esther descended from the tribe of Binyomin. Furthermore, incredible as it is, the word מסבין forms an acrostic for the words מרדכי בן ימיני, סוף ניסים, Mordechai the Benjaminite; the end of miracles, as the Gemara (Yoma 29a) states that the story of Esther was the last of the written miracles that the Jewish People experienced.

When we recline by the Seder tonight, let us demonstrate our gratitude to Mordechai and Esther and all the Jews throughout history who made it possible for us to experience the freedoms that we have and the wonderful lives that we lead as HaShem’s Beloved Children. HaShem should once again delight in our Pesach celebrations and  in the merit of the mitzvos that we perform on Pesach, and then HaShem should bring us the Final Redemption, with the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu and the Rebuilding of the Bais HaMikdash, speedily, in our Days.

Have a MAJESTIC and LIBERATING Pesach and a STUPENDOUS Shabbos!

Rabbi Adler

Erev Shabbos Kodesh Inspiration Pesach 5776
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Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Pesach 5776


Pesach 5776

New Stories Pesach 5776

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Pesach 5776

Shevii Shel Pesach: Transcending Our Limitations

Introduction

In addition to the festival of Pesach, there is a day referred to as “Shevii Shel Pesach,” the seventh day of Pesach. Although the festival of Pesach is one long eight-day holiday, the seventh day of Pesach bears its own uniqueness. What is so special about the seventh day of Pesach? Rashi quotes the Medrash that states that the Jewish People were liberated from Egypt on the fifteenth of Nissan, which is the first day of Pesach, and on the twenty-first of Nissan, which was the seventh day of Pesach, the Egyptians drowned in the Red Sea and the Jewish People sang the Shirah to HaShem. On the eve of the fifteenth of Nissan, we celebrate our freedom from Egypt by conducting a Seder, and in the Diaspora, we conduct a Seder on the second night of Pesach. Yet, the Jewish People were not truly free from the clutches of the Egyptians until the seventh day of Pesach, when Pharaoh and his armies were drowned in the Red Sea (There is an opinion in the Medrash, Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer §43 that states that Pharaoh himself did not drown). One must wonder, then, why we celebrate our freedom on the fifteenth of Nissan and not on the twenty-first of Nissan, which is the seventh day of Pesach?

Frogs, Locusts and Seor

I would like to suggest a novel approach to answer this question. It is interesting to note that regarding two of the plagues that HaShem sent against the Egyptians, the Torah uses the word gevul, boundary. Regarding the plague of tzifardeia, frogs, it is said (Shemos 7:27) viim maein atah lishaleiach hinei anochi nogeif es kol givulecha batzfardiim, but if you refuse to send out, behold I shall strike your entire boundary with frogs. It is also said regarding the plague of arbeh, locusts (Ibid 10:4) ki im maein atah lishaleiach es ami hinini maivi machar arbeh bigvulecho, for if you refuse to send forth My people, behold, tomorrow I shall bring a locust-swarm into your border. I have wondered for years why specifically by these two plagues does the Torah use the word gevul, boundary. It is fascinating to note that regarding the prohibition of keeping or eating Chametz, leavened bread, on Pesach, it is said (Ibid 13:7) matzos yeacheil es shivas hayamim vilo yeiraeh lecho seor bichol givulecha, matzos shall be eaten throughout the seven-day period; no chametz may be seen in your possession, nor may leaven be seen in your possession in all your borders. Thus, we see that a recurring theme of the redemption is the idea of borders and boundaries. What is the association of borders with chametz? We have previously mentioned that Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, Shlita said that Pesach is all about rising above our limitations. Based on this premise, we can understand why the Torah states that one should not find seor in all your borders. Chametz symbolizes stagnation, i.e. one who remains within his limitations (Although chametz is bread that has risen and appears to be limitless, we know that chametz reflects arrogance, and an arrogant person is truly limited. One who is arrogant only sees himself and cannot see the merits and value of others). The Torah prohibits one to remain within his borders on Pesach. The plagues of frogs and locusts represented a swarm, which in essence were a symbol of transcending limitations. These two plagues were specific lessons for the Jewish People, which culminated with the prohibition of seor within their borders.

The Plagues and the Prohibition of Seor Allowed us to Transcend Our Limitations

Let us now turn to Shevii Shel Pesach, when the Jewish People experienced true freedom from their Egyptian masters. The Medrash (Mechilta Yisro 3) states that the reason why HaShem orchestrated the Splitting of the Sea was so that the Jewish People should cry out to Him again, just as they had done in Egypt, and in this manner they would always remember that only HaShem can save them from their difficulties. Perhaps there is an additional dimension to the Splitting of the Sea. We are taught (Tosfos Arachin 15a s.v. kisheim) that there was no real need for the Jewish People to cross the Red Sea. Rather, HaShem sought to punish the Egyptians so He had the Jewish People walk through dry land and then He drowned the Egyptians. The Medrash (Mechilta Bashalach) states that the Jewish People felt trapped, as on one side were the pursuing Egyptians and on the other side they were faced by the raging sea. Based on the explanation we gave earlier, we can now better understand why the Jewish People were placed in such a predicament. The Jewish People were presented with a situation where the only option was to transcend their limitations. This was accomplished by Nachshon ben Aminadav from the tribe of Yehudah walking straight into the raging sea, and by the Jewish People praying to HaShem, their only Salvation. Thus, while we only attained true freedom on the seventh day of Pesach, the concept of transcending our limitations was already incorporated during the plagues and with the prohibition of not eating any chametz or seor for the entire seven days of Pesach.

The Jewish People Already Experienced Freedom in the Month of Tishrei

With this idea in mind we can understand a peculiar statement in the Gemara. The Gemara (Rosh HaShanah 11a) states that the enslavement of the Jewish People ceased in the month of Tishrei. One must wonder, then, what the Jewish People were doing for a half a year while the Egyptians were being afflicted with plagues. I believe the answer to this question is a profound lesson in our service of HaShem. Even if one has not yet experienced true liberation from a difficult situation that he finds himself in, he must know that by merely attempting to transcend his limitations, he is already deemed to be a free person.

The Shabbos Connection

The Baal HaTurim (Shemos 10:14) quotes the Zohar that states that the locust rested on Shabbos. Perhaps this teaches us that when one expends the effort during the week to transcend his limitations and achieve his true potential, he will be rewarded with the true rest that is reflected in the Holy Day of Shabbos. HaShem should grant us this Shevii Shel Pesach that we move past anything that is inhibiting us from serving Him properly, and we should merit the Ultimate Redemption, with the downfall of all our enemies, speedily, on our days.

Shabbos in the Zemiros

Shimru Shabsosai

The composer of this zemer is Shlomo, a name formed by the acrostic of the first four stanzas. Nothing definite is known about him, although some speculate that he was the famous Shlomo ben Yehudah ibn Gabriol. The zemer concentrates on the requirement to honor the Shabbos with culinary delights and closes with the assurance that the observance of the Shabbos will herald the final Redemption.

שִׁמְרוּ שַׁבְּתוֹתַי, לְמַעַן תִּינְקוּ וּשְׂבַעְתֶּם מִזִּיו בִּרְכוֹתַי, אֶל הַמְּנוּחָה כִּי בָאתֶם, safeguard My Shabbasos so that you may be nourished and sated. From the glow of My blessings when you arrive at the day of contentment. In the Shabbos Shemone Esrei we recite the words שַׂבְּעֵנוּ מִטּוּבֶךָ, satisfy us from Your good. HaShem is ready to bestow upon His Beloved Children all the good that he has, if we only observe the Shabbos properly. This is also the interpretation of the Gemara (Shabbos 118b) that states that if the Jewish People were only to observe two Shabbasos properly, we would merit the Ultimate Redemption. Two Shabbasos all it takes to merit all the good in the world. Let us hope that this Shabbos which is also Pesach, and Pesach is also called Shabbos, should herald in the final redemption.

Shabbos Stories

Symbolism Over Substance

A Jewish intellectual in post-war England approached Rabbi Yechezkel Abramsky, who headed the London Beth Din, with a cynical question: “In reviewing our Hagadah service,” he sniped, “I was shocked at the insertion of, ‘Who Knows One’, a childish nursery rhyme, at the end. Why would the sages put a silly rhyme – ‘One is Hashem, two are the Tablets, three are the fathers,’ and so on, at the end of the solemn, intellectual Seder night service? It is very unbecoming!”

Rabbi Abramsky was not shaken. “If you really want to understand the depth of that song, then you must travel north to the town of Gateshead. There you will find a saintly Jew, Reb Elya Lopian. I want you to discuss the meaning of every aspect of life with him. Ask him what are the meaning of the sea and fish, ask him what is the meaning of the sun and the moon. Then ask him what is the meaning of one, of six, of eleven and so on.”

The philosopher was very intrigued. He traveled to Gateshead and located the Yeshiva at which Reb Elya served as the Mashgiach (spiritual advisor). He was led into the room where a saintly looking man greeted him warmly.

“Rabbi, I have many questions,” the skeptical philosopher began. “What is the meaning of life?” “What is the essence of the stars?”

Rabbi Lopian dealt with each question with patience, depth, and a remarkable clarity. Then the man threw out the baited question. “What is the meaning of the number one?”

Rabbi Lopian’s face brightened, his eyes widened, and a broad smile spread across his face. “The meaning of one?” he repeated. “You would like to know the meaning of one? One is Hashem in the heaven and the earth!”

The man was shocked. “What about the depth of the numeral five?”

“Five?” repeated the sage. Why five has tremendous symbolism! It represents the foundation of Judaism – the Five Books of Moses!” The rabbi then went on to explain the mystical connotations that are represented by the number five, and exactly how each Book of the Torah symbolizes a component of the sum.

The man left with a new approach and attitude toward the most simple of our rituals. (www.Torah.org)

Shabbos in Halacha

ממרח – Smoothing

  1. To What Does this Prohibition Apply?

 

  1. Non-Foods

 

Ointments are generally subject to the prohibition of smoothing; one is prohibited to spread a salve, ointment or cream over any area of the body, or to spread them on a cloth which will be applied to the body [This applies often in diapering a baby. One is prohibited to spread any ointment (i.e. Desitin) over the diaper area; however, one may dab the ointment on several spots and cover it with the diaper, allowing the ointment to spread by itself.

 

There are many more details to this halacha (i.e. severe diaper rash, wounds, re-applying a bandage that fell off) that are beyond the scope of this discussion., We have mentioned the basic halacha because of the frequency with which it occurs.

 

Shabbos Ta’am HaChaim: Pesach 5776

Is sponsored לזכר נשמת האשה החשובה מרת חיה אסתר בת ר’ משה צבי הלוי אוקוליקא ע”ה                 ת.נ.צ.ב.ה.

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Have a Wonderful Shabbos and a Chag Kosher Visameach!

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New Stories Pesach 5776

Passover and My Son’s Broken Femur

Why thank God for taking us out of Egypt? Didn’t He put us there in the first place?

by Moe Mernick

It was one of my most frightening incidents of being a father so far. I was studying for my MBA. It was a typical Tuesday; I was able to go home to be with my family for lunch because my classes for the day finished in mid-morning. What was atypical was the way I was greeted at the door – my son was screaming in a manner I had never heard, and my wife appeared quite shaken.

After some deep breaths, my wife informed me that she had just she tripped down the stairs holding our 9-month-old son and landed hard on the floor. She heard his head hit the tiles, but she wasn’t sure of the extent of his injury. Was he injured or just very startled?

After ensuring that my wife was okay, I held my son, eventually calming him down. But he seemed more subdued than usual and it looked as though he was in pain.

The doctor’s office advised us that if he wasn’t back to his regular self in another couple of hours, we should bring him in. A few hours later the doctor was checking for a head injury, but found nothing. He began to check other parts of our son’s body to see where an injury might have occurred. When he stood my son up, holding his hands, my son lifted his right foot, showing that he wasn’t able to apply pressure there.

We were sent for x-rays and while waiting for hours in the waiting room, we witnessed our son’s gradual improvement. We almost decided to take him home because, in our estimation, everything was probably all right – and we were exhausted.

My wife and I felt a sense of gratitude. It could have been much worse had he fallen from higher up the stairs.

But the x-ray results indicated otherwise. Our son’s femur bone had a crack just above his knee and they would have to put his entire leg, from his waist all the way down to his toes, in a cast for at least a month. Our precious little boy behaved so well while they plastered his leg, after which they finally sent us on our way, with a referral to see a specialist the next morning at a different hospital to reinforce the cast with a layer of fiberglass.

Through this dramatic episode, my wife and I expressed how appreciative we were. No, a cracked femur bone for our son who was on the verge of crawling was not going to be easy, never mind all the additional time and resources that would be required during the month of my final exams. Nevertheless, my wife and I felt a sense of gratitude. We recognized that if he cracked his femur bone from a short fall (only a few steps up from the ground), it could have been much worse had he fallen from higher up the stairs.

But I remember being asked, somewhat incredulously: Appreciative?! He fell down the stairs and cracked his femur bone and his walking was delayed by a number of months! Was I appreciative that God made my wife and baby fall?

And then an interesting parallel occurred to me. Passover was a few days away. Millions of Jews from around the globe were going to be celebrating the fact that God miraculously saved the Jews from 210 years of grueling slavery and led us into the Land of Israel.

But why thank God for taking us out of Egypt? Didn’t He put us there in the first place?

This question weighed on me for a couple of days, until I watched a near-horrific incident which clarified everything.

Over Passover while my wife and I were taking a pleasant stroll down the street, we saw halfway up the block a young mother pushing her infant in a stroller while her husband walked alongside their toddler daughter. Suddenly the young girl turned and headed for the street, running at full speed. On cue, just like it happens in the movies, a car appeared, moving too fast for driving on a residential street. Everything seemed to move in slow motion: the father’s shocked expression as if he were thinking N-O-O-O-O as he chased after his daughter, while the mother watched helplessly, in horror, from the side.

My wife and I stood there stunned, not knowing how to prevent the seemingly inevitable from taking place. The girl was darting into the road and the fast-approaching car did not seem to see her.

Then a small miracle happened. The little girl tripped and fell hard onto the ground. Astounded, her mother and father scooped her up and embraced her, feeling renewed appreciation for having her in their lives.

After my wife and I let out a sigh of relief, we watched an interesting scenario unfold. The little girl was crying in pain and her parents were just so happy and appreciative. The girl looked at them, confused: Don’t you love me? Don’t you care about me? Why are you so happy when I’m in so much pain?!

What this little girl perceived as a terrible misfortune, the parents perceived as the greatest gift. Their prayers to save her at any cost were answered, but this little girl had no perception of the greater damage that could have occurred. All she knew was the pain of her scraped leg.

This taught me a powerful message. Very often I’m like that little girl. My scope of understanding is limited and there is a Higher Source whose view far surpasses that of my own. He sees what came before and what will come after; He knows what is truly best for me, even though I think I know better. And most importantly, He loves me and cares about me far more than I can possibly fathom.

Just like that little girl, I can cry and get upset that I got hurt. But if I recognize that what just happened was done with the greatest attention, love, and care possible, I rise above that arrogant spirit inside of me that feels like it knows it all.

My wife and son fell down the stairs. Thank you, God. Thank you. Understanding that for whatever reason there had to be a fall, I am so appreciative that it was only from the second step and not from the twelfth step; I am so appreciative that it was only a cracked femur bone and that my wife and son are otherwise all right; and I am so appreciative that You gave me the insight to view this incident with such an outlook.

We naturally like to feel that we are in charge, that we know it all. But letting go and realizing our limitations is perhaps one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. Leaning on the Source far wiser than ourselves provides us with a great sense of comfort, serenity, and happiness. Everything does happen for a reason – a reason that is ultimately for our greatest benefit. If we can internalize the fundamental principal that God loves each and every one of us far more than we can possibly comprehend, then we can begin to inch toward understanding how the different variables in our lives were uniquely tailored for us, allowing us to reach our individual mission in this world.

What you can accomplish, I cannot; and what I can accomplish, you cannot. Therefore, we each are given different circumstances in which we lead our lives. Our families, our unique talents, our geographical setting are all designed solely with us in mind, serving as our guidepost for direction.

With this in mind, generation after generation, we have been celebrating Passover – thanking God for having taken us out slavery – because we understand that, notwithstanding the apparent need for us to be there (commentators provide numerous reasons for this), we are eternally appreciative for having been taken out in such a miraculous fashion.

The little girl who tripped taught me an invaluable lesson. As much as her parents might have tried to explain to her that had she not tripped she could have been hit by a car, she was simply too young to have understood.

So, too, with us – if we recognize our smallness, we can truly reach a level of greatness.

Excerpted from the newly released book, The Gift of Stuttering (Mosaica Press, 2016). (www.aish.com)

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Inspiration Metzora-Shabbos HaGadol 5776


Once again we encounter the מצרע, the person stricken with a supernatural skin disease. The Gemara and Medrash highlight two sins that are the catalyst for this affliction. One is speaking לשון הרע, and the other is צרות עין, miserliness. The commentators write that the word מצרע is an acrostic for the words מוציא רע, one who produces, i.e. speaks bad, i.e. slander. It is noteworthy that the word מצרע forms an acrostic for the words מוציא רע, צר עין, one who slanders, and one who is miserly. Furthermore, in the prayer at the end of Shemone Esrei we recite the words אלהי נצור לשוני מרע, my G-d, guard my tongue from evil. The first letters and the last letters of the words נצור לשוני מרע equal in gematria the word מצרע. Although we do not have tzaraas today, we still must guard our speech. What is the connection between guarding our speech and Shabbos HaGadol? We commemorate the  “Great Shabbos” when the Jews tied their sheep to the bedposts and the Egyptians gnashed their teeth in helplessness as the Jews prepared to slaughter their idols. How does this incident apply to us today?

The Medrash states that Moshe was disturbed when Dasan and Aviram reminded him of his killing the Egyptian, and Moshe said, “now I know why the Jews have been in exile so long! It is because of slander.” Let’s examine this complaint of Moshe. When Moshe killed the Egyptian he hid him in the sand, and the Medrash )Shemos Rabbah 1:29) states that “the sand” is a reference to the Jewish People, who are likened to the sand. This means that Moshe hid his secret pretty well and the only ones who were talking about it were Dasan and Aviram. Is that justification to condemn the entire nation? Furthermore, the Medrash (Tanchumah Bamidbar 16) states that one of the merits that the Jewish People had to be redeemed from Egypt was that they did not reveal secrets. Why, then, was Moshe so concerned about Dasan and Aviram’s behavior?

I believe that the answer to this question is that slander is so harmful that even if only one Jew slanders another Jew, the entire nation is culpable. Moshe told HaShem that the Jewish People would not believe him that HaShem had sent him to redeem them. We see that HaShem did not spare Moshe for speaking ill of the Jews, and he was punished with momentary tzaraas. Similarly, when Miriam spoke negatively of her brother Moshe, she was punished with tzaraas and the entire Jewish People had to wait until she became pure again. Even when there is no tzaraas, the detrimental effects of Lashon Hara are obvious to all. One accusation, one derogatory online post, and the entire Jewish People are affected.

The Jews bound the Egyptian idols to the bedposts on Shabbos, a day when one is supposed to minimize his speech. Perhaps for this reason the Egyptians were literally speechless as they watched the Jews prepare to slaughter their idols. Furthermore, the Gemara (Shabbos 118b) states that even if one worshiped idols as in the days of Enosh, if he observes Shabbos properly, he will be granted atonement for his sins. The Jews had also worshiped idols in Egypt, and by preparing the Egyptian idols for slaughter on Shabbos, they gained atonement for their sins.

Have a PURE and GREAT Shabbos!

Rabbi Adler

Erev Shabbos Kodesh Inspiration Metzora-Shabbos HaGadol 5776
Is sponsored לזכר נשמת האשה החשובה מרת חיה אסתר בת ר’ משה צבי הלוי אוקוליקא ע”ה ת.נ.צ.ב.ה.
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Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Metzora-Shabbos HaGadol 5776


Metzora-Shabbos HaGadol 5776

New Stories Metzora-Shabbos HaGadol 5776

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Metzora-Shabbos HaGadol 5776

Removing the Evil Inclination from Our Midst is the Catalyst to Freedom

Introduction

In this week’s parashah the Torah continues to discuss the laws of one who is afflicted with tzaraas, the biblical version of leprosy. Yet, this affliction defies our imagination, as we are not witnesses to such an affliction in our times. The Ramban (Vayikra 13:47) writes that tzaraas was only prevalent when the Jewish People were on the level that even a slight sin would be borne out by a manifestation of tzaraas on either their clothing, their homes, or on their bodies. In our times, unfortunately, our sins do not make that sort of impression on us, and we are usually left to our own devices to determine what the reason is for our severed connection from HaShem. Thus, although one can study the laws of tzaraas in detail, it is practically impossible to comprehend how this spiritual malady occurred. As we approach Pesach, however, one must begin to contemplate how we can even begin to experience spiritual reward, and regarding Pesach, we were surely the recipients of one of the greatest benefit that mankind ever received, and that was liberation from our oppressors. With the onset of the month of Nissan we begin our physical and spiritual preparations for the festival of Pesach, yet on the surface, freedom and liberation appear to be far from our everyday reality. As a nation we still suffer at the hands of our oppressors, we are degraded, injured and even, Heaven forbid, killed, and all because we are Jews, HaShem’s Chosen People. Where, then, is the freedom that the Torah and our Sages referred to over and over again in Scripture, Gemara, Medrash and in our prayers? Have we not suffered enough that we should finally be able to declare that we are truly free people? The Gemara (Megillah 14a) states that we can recite Hallel on the three festivals of Pesach, Shavuos, and Sukkos because we are servants of HaShem and not servants of Pharaoh. Yet, subsequent to the Exodus from Egypt, we have been servants of many nations, and until today, we are still subjugated to the whims of various rulers throughout the world. The subject of freedom is a lengthy one, but in this essay we will attempt to briefly provide a solution to the enigma of freedom in relationship to our current situation.

Was the First Day of Nissan a Day of Joy or a Day of Mourning?

The Gemara (Shabbos 87b) states that in the second year in the Wilderness, the first day of Nissan was a day when the Jewish People took ten crowns. The Medrash (Shemos Rabbah 52:5) states that the inauguration of the Mishkan was a day when Hashem was very joyous. Yet, despite all this great joy and pomp, Aharon HaKohen’s two sons, Nadav and Avihu, died a tragic death on this day. How can we reconcile this apparent contradiction, where this day was one of great ecstasy but was instantly transformed into a day of mourning and sadness? Perhaps the solution to this paradox can be found in a different Medrash. The Medrash (Magen Avraham in the beginning of Hilchos Pesach) states that although the construction of the Mishkan was completed in the month of Kisleiv, HaShem chose to postpone the inauguration to the month of Nissan. The reason for this delay was because HaShem desired that the inauguration of the Mishkan should be in Nissan, the month when Yitzchak was born. What is the association between Yitzchak and the month of Nissan?

Freedom is from The Evil Inclination

We normally view freedom as liberation and release from powers that until now have been dominating us. On a deeper level, however, the Medrash (Shemos Rabbah 41:7) teaches us that when the Jewish People received the Torah, they merited being free from the angel of death. We find elsewhere in the Gemara (Bava Basra 16a) that the angel of death and the Evil Inclination are one and the same. Regarding the inauguration of the Mishkan, it is said (Vayikra 9:6) vayomer Moshe zeh hadavar asher tzivah HaShem taasu viyeira aleichem kevod HaShem, Moshe said: this is the thing that HaShem has commanded you to do; then the glory of HaShem will appear to you. In a surprising interpretation of this verse, the Toras Kohanim (Ibid) states: Moshe informed the Jewish People that if you remove that Evil Inclination (of idolatry – commentary of Chafetz Chaim Ibid) from your midst, then you will merit the revelation of HaShem’s glory. Thus, the removal of the Evil Inclination and the revelation of HaShem’s Presence are directly connected. The Medrash (Rashi Bereishis 28:13 quoting Tanchumah) states that the Evil Inclination of Yitzchak was removed from him. Furthermore, Reb Tzadok HaKohen from Lublin writes that when the Gemara states that this matter was heard mipi haGevurah, from the Almighty, it alludes to the idea of Yitzchak.

HaShem Chose Nissan to Inaugurate the Mishkan as that was when Yitzchak, Who Subdued His Veil Inclination, Was Born

We can now begin to understand why HaShem chose to have the dedication of the Mishkan occur in the month of Nissan. Nissan was the month that Yitzchak was born, and Yitzchak merited completely subduing his Evil Inclination. When the Jewish People received the Torah, they merited having their Evil Inclination removed from them, and this was also HaShem’s desire regarding the inauguration of the Mishkan. Sadly, Nadav and Avihu did not live up to this task on their level, and they perished inside the Holy of Holies. Nonetheless, HaShem’s will was accomplished, and Moshe informed Aharon that Nadav and Avihu were greater than Moshe and Aharon. There is no question that Nadav and Avihu attempted to completely subdue their Evil Inclination and transform themselves to the state of Adam HaRishon before the sin of eating from the tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad.

The Shabbos Connection

In a similar vein, when we enter the month of Nissan, it is incumbent upon us to attempt the complete subjugation of our Evil Inclination. This is the meaning of true freedom. If we wonder why we are still subjugated to other powers, it is because we have not yet succeeded in overcoming our Evil Inclination. The Gemara (Brachos 17a) clearly links the Evil Inclination and the subjugation of the nations together. In this month of redemption, Nissan, we must attempt to emulate our forefather Yitzchak, who subdued his Evil Inclination, and then we will merit true freedom from the angel of death and from the nations who subjugate us. Prior to leaving Egypt, the Jews took the sheep, the Egyptian idol, and demonstrated to the Egyptians that they were powerless to prevent the Jews from serving HaShem. Every Shabbos we are granted respite from the Evil Inclination. It should be Hashem’s Will that this Pesach we merit the true redemption with the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily, in our days.

Shabbos in the Zemiros

Ki Eshmera Shabbos

This zemer was composed by the great medieval commentator and poet Avraham Ibn Ezra whose name is found in the acrostic of the verses. The Zemer focuses on Halachic aspects of the Shabbos observance.

מֵחֵל מְלָאכָה בּוֹ סוֹפוֹ לְהַכְרִית עַל כֵּן אֲכַבֵּס בּוֹ לִבִּי כְּבוֹרִית וְאֶתְפַּלְּלָה אֶל אֵ-ל עַרְבִית וְשַׁחֲרִית מוּסַף וְגַם מִנְחָה הוּא יַעֲנֵנִי, for doing desecrating work on it, one’s end will be excision. Therefore on it I shall cleanse my heart as if with soap. I shall pray to G-d Arvis and Shacharis. Musaf and Mincha and He will answer me. Shabbos is essentially a time of repentance and prayer. When one is cognizant of the Holy Shabbos, he will spend the entire week preparing for Shabbos, praying to HaShem to forgive his sins and allow him to enter the Shabbos in a pristine state, filled with joy for this special day.

Shabbos Stories

Look at Their Hearts

In the years before the establishment of the State of Israel, Rabbi Aryeh Levin, the Tzaddik of Jerusalem, would visit the inmates of the British-controlled Jerusalem prison on every Shabbos. Though most of the Jewish prisoners were not observant, they would quickly don kippot before the revered Rabbi would greet them. Then they would join in the Shabbos Morning Prayer service that Reb Aryeh organized and they would read along with the rabbi, as if they were observant Jews. The entire scene agitated one particularly nasty fellow named Yaakov. He would try in every way to irritate the gentle Rabbi. Each Shabbos, he would purposely light up a cigarette in Reb Aryeh’s face in order to disturb him. Reb Aryeh was never fazed. One Shabbos, Yaakov stormed into the makeshift synagogue and snapped at the aged Rabbi. “Why do you waste your time with these liars and fakes? They are no more observant than I am. They only put the kippah on their heads when you come here. Furthermore, they only pray and open their lips to G-d when you are here. Otherwise they have no feeling in their hearts!” Reb Aryeh turned to Yaakov and rebuked him with a firm but gentle voice. “Why do you slander these souls? They come to pray every single week. I do not look at their heads but rather in their hearts. And when I hear the prayers coming from their lips, I know that their hearts are following as well.” It was not long before Yaakov became a steady member of the prayer group.

Shabbos in Halacha

ממרח – Smoothing

  1. To What Does this Prohibition Apply?

 Non-Foods

 Liquid soap is widely used on Shabbos. The vast majority of Poskim rule that this is permitted because its fluid consistency exempts it from the prohibition of smoothing. However, there is an opinion that since liquid soap has some density, it is subject to this prohibition. To conform to this view, one should mix the soap with water (preferably before Shabbos) so that it is extremely fluid, thus positively permitting its use.

 

Shabbos Ta’am HaChaim: Metzora-Shabbos HaGadol 5776

Is sponsored לזכר נשמת האשה החשובה מרת חיה אסתר בת ר’ משה צבי הלוי אוקוליקא ע”ה                 ת.נ.צ.ב.ה.

Sponsorships $180.00

Have a Wonderful Shabbos!

Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler

For sponsorships please call 248-506-0363

To subscribe weekly by email, please email ShabbosTaamHachaim@gmail.com View Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim and other Divrei Torah on www.doreishtov.wordpress.com

New Stories Metzora-Shabbos HaGadol 5776

Feeding Jewish American Soldiers on Passover

Two women are mobilizing the troops to nourish, physically and spiritually, Jews in the U.S. armed forces.

by Laura BenDavid

For the past eight years Jewish members of the armed forces of the United States stationed all over the world have what they need for the Jewish holidays thanks to the remarkable efforts of Sara Fuerst and Ava Hamburger, and their KosherTroops organization.

What started as a bat mitzvah project in 2008 has taken on a life of its own. Sara’s daughter had been looking for something special and meaningful to do in advance of her bat mitzvah celebration. As it was around the holiday of Purim, Sara came up with the idea to make Purim baskets for Jewish soldiers. She made several calls and gathered 150 names.

They enlisted the help of family and friends and put together baskets for all 150 and mailed them out thinking that was that.

Suddenly she began to receive responses from happy and grateful troops. She had no idea their little bat mitzvah project was going to make such an impact. As Passover was just a few weeks they decided to send packages again. And then once more for Shavuot. At that point the momentum kicked in and Sara realized that they were filling an important hole that no one was filling. Sara enlisted her friend and neighbor Ava Hamburger and KosherTroops was born.

The mission of KosherTroops is to help improve the morale of members of the armed forces and show appreciation. They are sent holiday care packages that give them not only food but a warm connection to the Jewish community. “We want them to know that they are not forgotten,” Sara says.

Of course the food is important too. For most of us it’s hard to imagine a Passover Seder without any access to kosher food, kosher meat, matzah and macaroons. But for many Jews deployed in the military the only Passover caterer available is KosherTroops.

There are approximately 5,000 Jews in United States military stationed in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Germany, Pakistan, Kuwait, Korea, Africa, Honduras, and Alaska, as well as the military bases in the U.S. The military orders each Jewish service member a small Passover kit, that includes a meat meal, matzah, a Seder plate and grape juice. But for the full Seder experience and to keep kosher for the entire week of Passover, Jews in the military rely on volunteer support services like KosherTroops.

In many military posts the United States Defense Commissary Agency operates commissaries that are similar to supermarkets, providing service members with a way to order items available in the U.S. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out as planned… Like this doozy reported by Army Chaplain Rabbi Shlomo Shulman: “The new manager assured me over the past few months that he’d ordered plenty of matzah. Well, it turned out he’d ordered a whole bunch of matzah meal as well as “matzahrella” cheese, but no matzah. Koshertroops came through with a matzah shipment that supplied the Jewish servicemen and women in Grafenwohr, Germany with matzah for the whole week!”

From the responses they get from soldiers, it seems that they are truly accomplishing what they set out to do. Like Lt. Col. David N. Rosner USMC who wrote, “KosherTroops not only fed me physically but also spiritually. The work they do is so meaningful. You find yourself alone in the desert or obscure base and your soul longs for connection to your essence. KosherTroops feeds that desire…”

This year they’ll be sending out at least 900 packages for Passover to such far-flung places as Iraq, Kuwait, Japan and Germany. This huge undertaking requires thousands of pounds of food and many volunteers to put it all together. Many have stepped up to the plate to help. Companies such as Streits, Kedem, Manischewitz and Osem have donated food. The warehouse space is donated. And volunteers of all ages and every walk of life give of their time and energy to prepare the packages for shipment.

An extra touch is the beautiful notes and cards written by the volunteers and by school children which are included in each package. The messages of love and support are heartwarming to be received, but are also teach a valuable message to the children writing them about appreciating the servicemen and women who risk their lives for all of our liberties.

Finally, there are those service members for whom the KosherTroop packages are truly a lifeline for their religious observance. Perhaps this can be best summed up by what Lt. Simpkins wrote:

“Kosher Troops was a lifesaver for me. I started keeping kosher in Afghanistan and supplies didn’t come very often to a combat outpost where I endured three months of my 10 month deployment. I actually ate nothing but protein shakes and M&Ms for two months. Thanks to the KosherTroops Passover shipment, my life was a lot better and it was possible for me to keep mitzvot. After I returned to my duty station in Germany, I was certain life would be easier and it was. Life was easier, but after a year and a half on kosher chicken and some limited dairy options, I dreaded the mealtimes. I literally cried tears of joy whenever I got a care package from KosherTroops. To feel that support from so many volunteers boosted my morale and reminded me why I signed up in the first place. I would hate to imagine how hard life would have been without them.”

For more information about Koshertroops and how you can help our troops please visit Koshertroops.com (www.aish.com)

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Inspiration Tazria 5776


Tazria is a difficult parasha to study and absorb, as the parasha discuses laws that don’t seem to have relevance to our lives. The practical laws of tzaraas are irrelevant, as the Ramban writes that tzaraas was a gift from Heaven when the Jewish People were settled in Eretz Yisroel. If a person would commit certain sins, then he would be afflicted with tzaraas on his home, his clothing or his body and this would be his wake up call to repent. While we have our share of challenges today, tzaraas is not one of them. What, then, can we take from the parasha, in addition to the famous teaching of tzaraas being a punishment for those who speak Lashon Hara?

The Gemara (Sanhedrin 97a) states אין בן דוד בא עד שתתהפך כל המלכות למינות, Moshiach will only arrive when the entire kingdom is transformed to heresy, and proof is from the verse that states (Vayikra 13:13) וְרָאָה הַכֹּהֵן וְהִנֵּה כִסְּתָה הַצָּרַעַת אֶת כָּל בְּשָׂרוֹ וְטִהַר אֶת הַנָּגַע כֻּלּוֹ הָפַךְ לָבָן טָהוֹר הוּא, the Kohen shall look, and behold! – the affliction has covered his entire flesh, then he shall declare the affliction to be pure; having turned completely white, it is pure. What is the connection between one’s body being covered with tzaraas and heresy? One interpretation I have suggested is that the word לָבָן could be read as לִבָּן, their hearts, and the Gemara (Ibid 38b) states that Adam HaRishon was a מין, a heretic, and proof of this is because HaShem  said to him (Bereishis 3:8) אַיֶּכָּה, where are you? and the Gemara interprets this word to be a contraction of the words אן נטה לבך, where has your heart turned, i.e. You have turned away from me. I therefore suggested that the word לָבָן can be read as לִבָּן, their hearts.  I would like to suggest an alternative explanation that will shed light on the relevance of tzaraas.

Essentially, the reason one is afflicted with tzaraas is either because he spoke Lashon Hara or because he was miserly and refused to lend out his vessels. Thus, a metzora is one who has an inferiority complex and speaks ill of others and does not want others to partake of his assets. a miserly person is referred to as a רע עין, one who has an evil eye. The words רע עין  equal in gematria the word מצרע, one who is afflicted with tzaraas. These words equal in gematria the number 400. When Lot was escaping from the upheaval of Sodom and Gomorrah, he told the angels assisting him (Bereishis 19:20) הִנֵּה נָא הָעִיר הַזֹּאת קְרֹבָה לָנוּס שָׁמָּה וְהִוא מִצְעָר אִמָּלְטָה נָא שָׁמָּה הֲלֹא מִצְעָר הִוא וּתְחִי נַפְשִׁי, “behold, please, this city is near enough to escape there and it is small; I shall flee there. Is it not small? And I will live.” Lot was trying to save himself and simultaneously he temporally saved the city of צוֹעַר. The word מִצְעָר contains the same letters as the word מְּצֹרָע. The מְּצֹרָע is punished by having to dwell in solitude, but it is an opportunity for him to reflect on his misdemeanors and repent to HaShem. Similarly, Lot had the opportunity to reflect on his association with the people of Sodom and return to Avraham. Instead, he got drunk, cohabited with his daughters, and caused Avraham to distance himself from him. The Biblical tzaraas was a vehicle for repentance and salvation. The number 400, it is said, can be used for bad, such as עֶפְרֹן, whose name equals in gematria 400, and Esav, who came with 400 men to attack Yaakov. Conversely, the number 400 can be used for the good, as we see that ultimately Esav’s men deserted him, and they were rewarded later in history (See Rashi Bereishis 33:16).

A Jewish slave has the opportunity to  be liberated after six years of servitude, and fi he doesn’t, his master takes a מַּרְצֵעַ, an awl, and drills a hole in his ear. Why in his ear? Rashi (Shemos 21:6) writes that the slave heard at Sinai that one should not steal and he stole , so he is sold into slavery. The word מַּרְצֵעַ  also equals in gematria 400. The Jewish people were enslaved in Egypt for 400 years, and this slave wants to remain a slave! He has the opportunity to be freed and he chooses otherwise, so he is reminded with the מַּרְצֵעַ of the slavery and ultimate liberation of the Jewish People.

Prior to the arrival of Moshiach, the entire world will be permeated with heresy. Does that mean that one has to be enslaved to these pernicious thoughts and ideas? Certainly not. When one sees the disease spreading, he must remember Lot and the Jewish slave and tell himself, “I refuse to be enslaved, I resist the bad 400! It is noteworthy that the words הָפַךְ לָבָן טָהוֹר equal in gematria the word מצורע. One can be engulfed by heresy but he is still capable of liberating himself.

HaShem should allow us to retain the perspective that while surrounded by heresy and promiscuity, we can rise above it all and then HaShem will free ourselves, with the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkienu, speedily, in our days.

Have a GOOD 400 Shabbos!

Rabbi Adler

Erev Shabbos Kodesh Inspiration Tzav 5776

Is sponsored לזכר נשמת האשה החשובה מרת חיה אסתר בת ר’ משה צבי הלוי אוקוליקא ע”ה                 ת.נ.צ.ב.ה.

Sponsorships $180.00

Have a wonderful Shabbos!

Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler

For sponsorships please call 248-506-0363

To subscribe weekly by email, please email ShabbosTaamHachaim@gmail.com View Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim and other Divrei Torah on www.doreishtov.wordpress.com

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Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Tazria-HaChodesh 5776


Tazria-HaChodesh 5776

New Stories Tazria-HaChodesh 5776

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Tazria-HaChodesh 5776

Counting Our Way of Impurity Towards Purity and Holiness

Introduction

(This essay was written in 5769 when Tazria-Metzora occurred after Pesach)

We have just completed the celebration of the Pesach festival, and we are now in the midst of counting the Omer. In this week’s parshiyos we also encounter other forms of counting. One counting is when a woman after childbirth counts the days of her impurity. A second counting is when a metzora, one who contracts the spiritual disease of tzaraas, counts seven days from when he is cleansed before he is permitted to enter into the Israelite Camp. A third counting is when a woman has a flow and she then counts seven days and she is then purified. The Zohar states that the forty-nine days that we count from the bringing of the Omer are akin to a woman counting her days of impurity. The counting from the Omer then culminates in the festival of Shavuos.

Understanding the counting of the Omer and the mourning period for the students of Rabbi Akiva

One must wonder why it is so important to count the days of the Omer. When one wishes to know when an upcoming festival will occur, he merely has to look at the calendar and determine the correct date of the festival. We do not count the days until Rosh Hashanah and other festival that we celebrate throughout the year. Why, then, must we count from Pesach until Shavuos? Another perplexing idea that requires explanation is why immediately after the joy of the Pesach festival we enter into a mourning period over the twenty-four thousand students of Rabbi Akiva who passed away between Pesach and Shavuos. How are we to comprehend the juxtaposition of this period of joy with this period of mourning?

One must search out the impurities within himself

In order to glean a better understanding of the purpose in our counting, it is worth mentioning a fascinating idea presented by the Gerrer Rebbe, the Lev Simcha. It is said (Mishlei 2:3-4) im tivaksehna chakasef vichamatmonim tachpisena az tavin yiras HaShem vidaas Elokim timtza, if you seek it as [it were] sliver, if you search for it as [if it were] hidden treasures – then you will understand the fear of HaShem, and discover the knowledge of G-d. The Lev Simcha (Emor) writes that these verses can be interpreted to be alluding to the festivals of the year. Seeking like silver alludes to Pesach, as the word kesef, silver, also connotes desire, and Pesach is a time when HaShem showed His love for the Jewish People. Hidden treasures allude to the days of counting from the Omer, as the word vichamatmonim, can be read mem tes monim, counting forty-nine. The word tachpisena, if you search for it, alludes to Shavuos, as the days of counting the Omer are a preparation for Shavuos. The Lev Simcha goes on to find allusions to Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkos. It is fascinating that the word vichamatmonim alludes to the forty-nine days of counting from the Omer. The first letters of the word are mem and tes, which also form most of the word tamei, translated as impure. Perhaps the lesson contained in this hint is that one should always view himself as being in a state of impurity and that he must strive for purity and holiness. Hashem, in His infinite compassion, redeemed us from the impurities of Egypt, but we still have a long way to go until we are worthy of receiving the Torah. How, then, do we remove these impurities from our midst?

We are required to remove tainted character traits

The Gemara (Yevamos 62b) states that the students of Rabbi Akiva died because they did not treat each other with respect. It would seem from this Gemara that if the students of the great Rabbi Akiva were lacking in this area, then certainly we could use improvement on how we act towards each other. A person who does not respect his fellow man demonstrates an impurity of the soul. Shavuos is reflective of our gathering at Sinai kiish echod bileiv echod, as one man with one heart. It is not enough to merely study Torah. One must internalize the lessons in Torah, and Rabbi Akiva was the one who said viahavta lireiacha kamocha zeh klal gadol baTorah, you shall love your fellow as yourself, this is a great rule in Torah. The word gadol is associated with the tribute of chesed, kindness. It is no wonder that the first attribute that we refer to when counting from the Omer is chesed, and the last attribute is malchus, kingship. The Gemara (Gittin 62a) states that the true kings are the Torah scholars. For one to achieve a level of kingship he must be exemplary in the attribute of chesed. Thus, one must “search” himself during these days to filter out all the impurities within him.

Sefiras HaOmer is when we count towards Shavuos and when we count away from our impurities

We can now understand why we count the days from the Omer, and why we count specifically during the mourning period over the passing of Rabbi Akiva’s students. We are counting towards Shavuos, but even more significantly, we are counting the days until we can finally rid ourselves of the impurities that exist within our character. Thus, we can interpret the word matmonim to mean counting away from the mem and the tes, which spell out the two essential letters of the word tamei, impurity.

The Shabbos connection

Every week we have the ability to count the days of the week until we arrive at Shabbos. The weekday certainly has its share of impurities, both from the outside world and within us. Nonetheless, by preparing properly for the Holy Shabbos, we can always anticipate that we will arrive at Shabbos in a state of purity, when all harsh judgments depart and we can bask in the Kingship of HaShem. Hashem should allow us to count these days and they should culminate in joy, brotherhood, and a true purification of our hearts.

Shabbos in the Zemiros

Ki Eshmera Shabbos

This zemer was composed by the great medieval commentator and poet Avraham Ibn Ezra whose name is found in the acrostic of the verses. The Zemer focuses on Halachic aspects of the Shabbos observance.

הוּא יוֹם מְכֻבָּד הוּא יוֹם תַּעֲנוּגִים לֶחֶם וְיַיִן טוֹב בָּשָׂר וְדָגִים הַמִתְאַבְּלִים בּוֹ אָחוֹר נְסוֹגִים כִּי יוֹם שְׂמָחוֹת הוּא וּתְשַׂמְחֵנִי, it is an honored day; it is a day of pleasures: bread and goodly wine, meat and fish. Those who mourn – on it they must withdraw, for it is a day of joys and it will gladden me. There have been many incidents throughout history of Jews who have suffered tragedy immediately prior to or on Shabbos, and yet these Jews resisted the strong temptation to cry and mourn, which is forbidden on Shabbos. It is almost as if the joy of Shabbos itself does not allow mourning to enter into its domain. Certainly, then, when one has a clear mind devoid of tragedies and mishaps, it is incumbent one to partake in the joy and delight of Shabbos and not succumb to tears and sadness.

Shabbos Stories

The Shpoler Zeide (Rebbe Aryeh Leib, the Grandfather of Shpola) had a servant named Chelovno who told this story:

He once saw a man with a terrible skin disease that covered him from head to foot enter the Rebbe’s room with a petition-note. This man stayed with the Rebbe for a while and when he left, Chelovno said he saw that he was normal, without a trace of the skin disease!

After this, Chelovno brought a cup of coffee in for the Rebbe and was astonished to see that the Rebbe’s whole body was covered with the skin disease! “What happened here?’ yelled Chelovno. “Why did the Rebbe do this?”

The Rebbe, however, did not respond.

Later, Chelovno went in again and saw that the disease had completely disappeared from the Rebbe’s body, and asked the Rebbe to tell him what this was all about.

The Rebbe said, “When that man first came to me, I didn’t have any way to cure him. So I had to take the disease on myself; and he was healed. Afterward, I pleaded before God, blessed be He, ‘What have I done that I should be afflicted with this skin disease?’ Then, they healed me too!” (MiBeer Hatzaddikim, vol. 2, p. 45)

Shabbos in Halacha

ממרח – Smoothing

  1. To What Does this Prohibition Apply                                                                A.Non-Foods

The prohibition of smoothing applies chiefly to non-foods, such as the items mentioned above (wax, tar and fats), in addition to such commonly used items as soap, ointment, cream and similar substances.

The use of solid bars of soap is forbidden under the melacha of smoothing. [In addition, using bars of soap may be prohibited under מוליד: dissolving a liquid, and ממחק, scraping.]

Shabbos Ta’am HaChaim: Tazria-HaChodesh 5776

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New Stories Tazria-HaChodesh 5776

I Hit a Deer

How one insane night yanked me out of the rut I was in.

by Noah Dinerstein

I hit a deer. Last week I was driving to my house in Utica, NY (yes, that’s different from Ithaca) in the middle of the night and I nailed a deer. I was flying down backroads and this giant brown monster leapt out of the bushes and I caught him in a 65 mph midair collision.

He soared through the dark, jumped up and sprinted back to the woods. My dad’s Venza took it like a champ. The damage was more like the fender bender spectrum and less the totaled condition, and I was completely fine besides the minute of mourning I did for my four-legged friend who I figured was on his way to the Next World.

I called my dad reluctantly at 3 AM, starting the conversation with, “No one is hurt!” He told me to take it slow. And that’s what I did….

Until 15 minutes later I hit another deer! A second deer!! 15 minutes later!!

This one I saw from half a mile away and I said to myself, I’m not gonna hit this one. He was crossing the road and was safely on the other side while I was approaching at a safer but fluent speed, until his final seconds when he decided he would like to get in on the suicide party and positioned himself right in front of my car, leaving me zero time for my brain to process anything but “Noooooooo!! Not aga–“ BAM! Two deer dead.

This time everything just caved in, shattering the headlights and giving the inside of the car some new access to the outside world.

I called my dad again. “Hi dad…. umm… uhhh… I hit another deer!”

“What?”

“I know, I know. I hit another one!”

At this point I’m certain he thought I had experienced with shrooms and was actually rolling around in the front yard. “Wow… they must be really out tonight,” he said. “Just drive 30 mph the rest of the way home.”

I drove slow. I refused to slay any more deer that late Saturday night.

He was calm. Insurance would cover it. I drove slow. I refused to slay any more deer that late Saturday night.

When the tow truck came at 10AM after I had slept for a solid three hours I started to wonder what God was trying to tell me. As a believer in a Creator of the universe, I believe that everything happens for a specific reason and nothing is random. One deer would only make the most thoughtful, spiritual among us ask questions about the bigger picture, but two?! Two murders in one drive begs for some explanation. The only conclusion I could draw was that there was an over population of mammals in Oneida county and I was simply a hit man who was unaware he’d been contracted. And then, as I lay down to take a nap that afternoon, I interpreted the message to mean something else: WAKE UP

After spending two years in Israel reconnecting with my heritage and getting some clarity about life, I came back home and slowly entered a rut.

It was a message I needed to hear. After spending two years in Israel learning Torah and reconnecting with my heritage, really working on myself and getting some clarity about life, I came back home and slowly entered a rut. I’ve been going through the motions, developing a routine that consisted of a lot of sleep, a lot of stress, a lot of headaches, a lot of meds and a lot of lying to myself. Instead of growing spiritually, I was becoming aimless, losing that spark that ignited a journey only a few years earlier.

During this time, I was asked to give speeches to different groups of young Jewish students and wealthy potential donors about my life and how and why I chose to change everything and become an observant Jew. There was a time that I was living true to every single word I said. I was happy to inspire students to live a life full of meaning that emphasizes real knowledge about what we’re doing as people and Jews and truly choosing it instead of just, in the name of tradition, doing what our parents did. But recently I realized, looking at the eager faces searching for purpose, I was a hypocrite.

I had stopped living purposefully. On the surface I was doing most of the things I believed in, like being patient, keeping Shabbos, keeping kosher, being kind to people, but it felt rote. I wasn’t connected to its purpose and meaning. I discovered that I had become everything I ran away from; my life became a monotone routine: wake up, coffee, work, gym, sleep, wake up, coffee…. I didn’t like it.

I have earned, maybe even just by being born, to live an awesome, purposeful life.

Not liking what I’m doing should have been enough to change it but we all know that the gap between the head and the heart can be too wide sometimes. So beyond not liking it I realized that I don’t deserve it. I don’t deserve to live a monotonous life. I don’t deserve to not enjoy myself in the greatest of ways. I don’t deserve to not be optimistic, think positively in the darker moments, and to not wake up with a desire for greatness. I have earned, maybe even just by being born, to live an awesome, purposeful life.

I think one of the leading causes of sadness and depression may be that we don’t think we deserve greatness. When we taste it we get nervous and think this must be for someone else. That is a grave mistake. I am not just using the word “grave” as an expression but I actually mean that could kill us. Physically we’ll survive but with no courage or confidence left who would want to?

Our existence is actually a victory worth celebrating every single day. Out of 100 million souls, yours was put on this earth! You made it. Mazel tov! Now what?

I am back in Israel, learning Torah and I am taking my life back.

Within a week of my clarity that I was not living up to my true potential and actualizing my greatness I got on a plane. That was yesterday. I am back in Israel, learning Torah and I am taking my life back. I will spend my days here completely immersed in Torah study, working on myself and learning, through 3000 years of tradition, how to simply live my 1-in-100-million life to the fullest.

This message is a common one but I never listened to it until now and I hope you do not make the same mistake I did. If something in your life needs to change and you know it, please CHANGE IT. If you’re reading a book that got great reviews but you are not enjoying it, STOP READING IT. If your job is making you a bitter human being, or your boss is unreasonable, or you’ve always wanted to pursue something else and can do so in a responsible way, LEAVE IT! If you loved shul as a kid and have lost all ties with your faith and regret it, GO BACK TO IT! And if you know (only if you know) that observing Torah mitzvot and keeping Shabbos is the obligation and privilege of a Jewish person, then KEEP IT.

It’s not as hard as we make it out to be. I can say this only because I have done it. And also because I have parents and family and friends that, thank God, care about me. Life is way too short to spend it being unhappy. We all deserve a great life! Let’s wake up and live the life that we truly want to live. (www.aish.com)

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