Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Bamidbar-Shavuos 5775
Peace through the actions of the wicked
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.
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
- The Kneading Process
The Two Categories of Mixtures
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
Have a Wonderful Shabbos and a Great Yom Tov!
Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler
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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.
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.
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)