19 February 2018

Rav Ginsburgh Live Broadcast at 18:00 Israel time (11:00 EST/8:00 PST)

Rav Ginsburgh's Special Live Broadcast on The Moon

18:00 Israel time (11:00 EST/8:00 PST)

Polish Psychopathy

Polish Psychopathy

Michael Savage coined the phrase, “Liberalism is a Mental Disorder.”

“Someone who stands before a faucet many times a day scrubbing up for fear of germs and general contamination suffers from mysophobia. The condition which can lead to extreme anxiety, disrupts normal contact with others and is described as 'hard to live with.’ The Government of Poland has officialy put a law on the books, duly signed by Polish President Andrezej Duda, that smacks of political mysophobia. It attempts to scrub the Nazi stain off the country . . .” “Are we witnessing an ominous turning back of the clock to the 1930’s when truth, justice and precious freedoms were being snatched away?” [The Jerusalem Post, by Elwood McQuaid, 2/18]

As I thought about what was happening, the very next day my thoughts were corroborated with this article. It seems from the latest actions taken by the Polish Government, that the Polish Government and some of its people are suffering from a mental disorder.

Such a “disorder” is in the form of 'not facing the guilt within’. Repression of guilt in the mind of the perpetrator turns him into the ‘victim’ and thus accuses his victim of being the ‘guilty' one. [Wikipedia]

This is exactly what has happened.

Polish PM claims there were 'Jewish perpetrators' in Holocaust: Polish PM 'defends' Holocaust bill by claiming there were 'Jewish perpetrators' in Holocaust, says law won't see blaming Poles as criminal. PM Morawiecki said [in response to audience comments],"It's not going to be punishable, not going to be seen as criminal, to say that there were Polish perpetrators, as there were Jewish perpetrators, as there were Russian perpetrators, as there were Ukraine and German perpetrators.”

Which brings to mind, “A Rose by any other name is a Rose.” Maybe not punishable, but what this instills in the twisted minds of some Poles can lead to rabid antisemitism.

The sheer equation is diabolical and psychopathic.

In fact, in today’s Jerusalem Post, Polish Chief Rabbi said: "Several young Jews are questioning their future in Poland on the heels of the “death camps law,” Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday." Aftermath of the ‘death camps law’ leaves Polish Jews uneasy. . . "There have been various reports of an uptick of antisemitic discourse in recent weeks, as well at least a couple of antisemitic incidents in Poland” JPost

Twisted thinking that borders on mental [psychopathic] confusion: On Sunday, the Polish government claimed that the comment regarding "Jewish perpetrators" in the Holocaust was "a sincere call for open discussion of crimes committed against Jews during the Holocaust, regardless of the nationality of those involved in each crime."

Mental gymnastics is what the Polish Government is exhibiting, by accusing the Jewish victims of WWII Nazi Psychopath in his obsessive drive to annihilate the Jewish People and their Torah IN POLAND [in addition to accusing them of being *accomplices, equating them alongside Poles and Ukrainian accomplices]. It is not enough to criminalize the 'stating of truth of Polish participation in beastly murder of Jews and theft of Jewish property', they want to blame the Jews for the Shoah!

The Psychological Rx 

Wikipedia: "Guilt is a cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person believes or realizes—accurately or not—that he or she has compromised his or her own standards of conduct or has violated a universal moral standard and bears significant responsibility for that violation.[1] Guilt is closely related to the concept of remorse.” "Guilt is an important factor in perpetuating obsessive–compulsive disorder symptoms [herein is the comparison with ‘mysophobia’]. "Projection is another defensive tool with wide applications. It may take the form of blaming the victim:” "Lack of guilt in psychopaths: Individuals high in psychopathy lack any true sense of guilt or remorse for harm they may have caused others. Instead, they rationalize their behavior, blame someone else, or deny it outright. There is "Collective guilt (or group guilt) [which] is the unpleasant and often emotional reaction that results among a group of individuals when it is perceived that the group illegitimately harmed members of another group. It is often the result of “sharing a social identity with others whose actions represent a threat to the positivity of that identity.” For an individual to experience collective guilt, he must identify himself as a part of the in-group. “This produces a perceptual shift from thinking of oneself in terms of ‘I’ and ‘me’ to ‘us’ or ‘we’.”

The ‘Stick' of Hashem is Poking the Jews of Poland

Polish Jews Stunned, Scared By Eruption Of Anti-Semitism:  YWN

“This is my home. I have never lived anywhere else and wanted this to keep being my home,” said Jonas-Kowalik, a Jewish studies major at Warsaw University. “But this makes me very anxious. I don’t know what to expect.”

“It’s if we feel this can be our home.” 

[Correct, as Jews, descendants of the Jews of Sinai, the Children of Hashem, you belong in our Homeland, in Eretz Yisrael, Israel.]

Poland’s Jewish community is the surviving remnant of a vibrant and diverse Polish – and Yiddish – speaking community that numbered 3.3 million on the eve of the Holocaust. Only 10 percent survived the German genocide, while postwar violence and persecution in the first decades of communist rule forced out many of the survivors.

Report: Poland's official anti-Semitism
Churchill on Poland: It is a mystery and tragedy of European history, that a people capable of every heroic virtue... as individuals, should repeatedly show such inveterate faults in almost every aspect of... governmental life. Churchill on Poland, by Dr. Inna Rogatchi in her Report: Poland's official anti-Semitism",  This includes "a list, including only the official measures undertaken by Polish officials from January 2018 onward”   [A very important list]  The official racist and anti-Semitic policy of the current Polish government calls for full-weight all-spectrum sanctions against Poland in the diplomatic, humanitarian, educational, cultural, trade and military spheres. 


1. Cradling the child in her arms, she soothed his cries. Then, she addressed the heavens: "Master of the Universe! Eight days ago you gave me a child. I know that neither I nor he will long survive in this accursed place. But now, when you take him back, you will receive him as a complete Jew.” Accomplice in the Circumcision

2. A kapo or prisoner functionary (German: Funktionshäftling, see § Etymology) was a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp who was assigned by the SS guards to supervise forced labor or carry out administrative tasks. Also called "prisoner self-administration", the prisoner functionary system minimized costs by allowing camps to function with fewer SS personnel. The system was designed to turn victim against victim. . . Wikipedia

3. The German concentration camps depended on the cooperation of trustee inmates who supervised the prisoners. Known as Kapos, these trustees carried out the will of the Nazi camp commandants and guards, and were often as brutal as their SS counterparts. Some of these Kapos were Jewish, and even they inflicted harsh treatment on their fellow prisoners. For many, failure to perform their duties would have resulted in severe punishment and even death, but many historians view their actions as a form of complicity. After the war, the prosecution of Kapos as war criminals, particularly those who were Jewish, created an ethical dilemma which continues to this day. JewishVirtualLibrary.

18 February 2018

Defiance: The Bielski Partisans

Defiance: The Bielski Partisans

Trailer: Yam Suph - Israel's Final Exodus
This trailer that was produced for the Book Yam Suph by Steven Ben-DeNoon is an amazing journey into God's hidden prophetic signs to Israel. youtube – https://youtu.be/nyim704qBYU
The supposition is that there is a resemblance in the statement of Moses about crossing the Yam Suf; however the sea/that the Jews crossed had no “reeds”. So the comparison with the near end of the Bielski Film (below) is one that the Bielski “community” wandered in the forest for over 2 years, and trudged through a Sea of Reeds somewhere in Belarus.

Trailer: Yam Suph – Israel's Final Exodus

From this trailer, I searched and found the movie, Defiance 2008 a full movie online. While there were two videos, this one is a full screen video in English with Greek subtitles. Some scenes are difficult to hear, but it is still remarkable. Some of the very first scenes are actual video by the Germans, but then it switches smoothly into the Defiance version of the story. It runs about 2 hours.

This covers cruelty by the Germans AND the Poles!

Mi SheNichnas Adar . . . Rabbi Ginsburgh Live Shiur

The month of Adar is the time to be even more joyful.
 live class in English from Rabbi Ginsburgh.

This Monday, 4th of Adar (February 19th) 18:00 Israel time (11:00 EST/8:00 PST).

Rabbi Ginsburgh is in the States, so this shiur is on youtube.

16 February 2018

Teruma – Contributing to the Tabernacle

Contributing to the Tabernacle

There are two commandments in the opening passage to Parashat Terumah. The first commands the Jewish people to take a contribution, and the second, to construct the Tabernacle and its vessels.

At first glance, the commandment to construct the Tabernacle appears to be the principle commandment. Yet, the order of the verses suggests the opposite. First comes the commandment “You shall take a contribution for Me,” followed by the details of all the materials contributed to the Tabernacle, “Gold and silver and copper…” The commandment to construct the Tabernacle, “You shall make a sanctuary for Me,” appears in a later verse. This order suggests that there is inherent significance in the contribution that the Jewish people were commanded to bring.

The Upward Aspiration
God is omnipotent. It is difficult to understand why He desires anything from us. But, the sages teach us that His purpose in creating us was “to make a dwelling place for Him in the lower worlds.” This is why He commanded us to construct the Tabernacle. From our limited human perspective, we can sympathize with the idea that God wants a “home.” Obviously, this is an important commandment that we need to accomplish “for God,” as it were.

We might think that the commandment to bring a contribution is just a means to achieving the final result, to make a sanctuary “for God.” Without the gold, silver, and copper etc., how could we build the altar, the foundations that held the boards, or the wash-basin? Commenting on the verse, “You shall take a contribution for Me,” the Zohar (quoted in the Tanya) makes a cryptic statement. “For Me” means that by giving a contribution we are taking God Himself! What can this mean?

The angels described in Ezekiel’s vision of the Divine Chariot are in a constant movement of “run and return” (רָצוֹא וָשׁוֹב). Chassidut teaches us that “run and return” pertains to our human souls, too. The soul oscillates like an alternating electric current, in an infinite up-down movement. It runs thirstily towards its Heavenly source in God and then returns to mundane reality, bouncing upwards and down once again, ad infinitum.

Raising a contribution to the Tabernacle is an example of the upward “run” (רָצוֹא) of the soul. “Contribution” (תְּרוּמָה) is derived from the verb “to elevate” (לְהָרִים). By giving away a part of our livelihood, earned by the sweat of our brows, to a worthy cause, we raise ourselves Heavenwards in self-sacrificial devotion.

While “running” (רָצוֹא), the vector force points upwards, aspiring to reach God. The soul runs and rises towards infinity. This is an elevated level that is above all of the created worlds and above all of God’s Holy Names; to God’s personal essence, “For Me.”

The upward run is important, as long as it begins with the intention to return to mundane reality, where we can reveal God’s purpose.

If the soul runs to the infinite, it will be eventually be nullified in its source. Like a raindrop in the ocean, it can never be identified again. This is the greatest pleasure that the soul could ever aspire to! Yet, as we rise in our upward run we “bump into” God, who has another purpose in store for the soul. He tells us, “Return to your place!” This brings us back to the second commandment in Parashat Terumah, “They shall make Me a sanctuary and I shall dwell within them.” Rising to the heights of spirituality, almost sacrificing our souls in the process, God tells us to take Him with us on the return journey. Our ultimate contribution to building the Tabernacle is God Himself.

The Heart and the Fountain
“For Me” (לִי) is spelled with two letters, a lamed and a yud. Rebbe Nachman of Breslov explains that lamed (ל) represents lower wisdom and yud (י) represents higher wisdom. The letter lamed (ל) is the tallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet. It is “a tower soaring in the air,” that aspires to reach infinity. Yet, its feet are on the ground. Its name, lamed (לַמֵד), means “learning” (לִמוּד). The yud (י) is the smallest letter. It descends from above and remains hovering in the air. Its form resembles a point, symbolizing the pin-point of inspiration that flashes into the mind from the source of wisdom.

These two types of wisdom are exemplified in the teacher-student relationship. The lamed represents the student’s heart aspiring to internalize his teacher’s words. The yud (י) represents the teacher, who must present his teachings in a way that will inspire his student with wisdom. Without the student’s aspiration, the teacher cannot hope to inspire him. The order of this relationship between the student’s lamed (ל) and the teacher’s yud (י) forms the word “for Me” (לִי).

Elsewhere in his writings, Rebbe Nachman relates a parable of “The Heart and the Fountain.” Somewhere in the world is a heart that longs to reach the fountain. The fountain also longs to reach the heart. Despite their longing for one another, making the connection is no simple matter. The heart is the student who greatly thirsts after the fountain of wisdom.” The fountain is the teacher who wishes to bestow his wisdom upon his student. The heart and the fountain unite when the lamed and the yud form the word “for Me” (לִי).

Connecting the two words, “for Me” (לִי) alludes to the teaching, “Every palate that tastes it [the wine of the Torah] says, ‘[It’s] for me! [It’s] for me!’” The Torah is the fine wine that flows from the teacher and inspires the student, satisfying his yearning.

Parashat Terumah begins with the commandment for every generous heart to raise its contribution. Like the student’s lamed, “lower wisdom,” we must first aspire to reach up to God by sacrificing something of ourselves. The commandment to construct the Tabernacle for the Divine Presence is the fruitful result of that aspiration. This corresponds to the teacher’s yud, “higher wisdom” as it descends to inspire the student’s heart.

“Running” towards God by giving our donation we enable our “return” to mundane reality, bringing God with us into our own sanctuary, “You shall make a sanctuary for Me, and I shall dwell amongst them”—in the heart of every individual soul.

*Living in Divine Space
1) To believe in God's existence and His constant providence.
2) Not to believe in other gods besides the Almighty
3) To believe that God is one complete and undivided singularity
4) To love God
5) To fear God
6) To guard our thoughts from negative ideas
Each of these commandments serves as one of the six directions of our personal Temple. Standing in the center of the space that we create, we are in constant awareness of God.

*From Sefer: Divine Space

Parashas Teruma – What We Have Lost

By Roy S. Neuberger

“Al naharos Bavel … by the Rivers of Bavel, there we sat and also we wept when we remembered Tzion…. If I forget you, then let my right hand forget its skill; let my tongue adhere to my palate, if I fail to remember you, if I fail to elevate Yerushalayim above the foremost of my joys….” (Tehillim 137)

At midnight, holy Jews sit on the floor and say these words with tears. 

It may seem paradoxical to remember these words on Rosh Chodesh Adar, because “when Adar begins, we increase joy.” (Taanis 29a), but perhaps weeping for the Bais Hamikdosh is actually the basis of simcha. As Chazal say, “Whoever mourns for Yerushalayim will merit to witness its rejoicing ….” (Bava Basra 60b)

My friends, this is what life is about: building a Mishkan, a place where the Shechina will dwell. As the possuk says, “V’asu li mikdash … They shall make a sanctuary for Me, so that I may dwell among them….” (Shemos 25:8) The Bais Hamikdosh was destroyed not by the strength of our enemies, but rather because our spiritual level had deteriorated. The upside of this is that we can do teshuva and create the environment in which it can be rebuilt. 

In the past, we once stood on the madreiga at which we merited to dwell in the Presence of the Shechina. Soon, b’ezras Hashem, the Presence of the King will once again transform the entire world into a place of moral and physical purity. 

My wife showed me an article which said environmental pollution kills nine million people per year. Pollution is indicative of today’s world situation. Moral pollution brings on physical pollution, just as moral pollution caused the destruction of the world in the generation of the Mabul.  

“Once Rabbi Meir died, there ceased to be composers of parables. Once Ben Zakkai died, there ceased to be diligent [scholars]; once Ben Zoma died, there ceased to be to be experts in exegesis; once Rabbi Akiva died, the glory of Torah ceased; once Rabbi Chanina be Dosa died, there ceased to be people of deeds; once Rabbi Yose Katonta died, there ceased to be pious men; once Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai died, the splendor of wisdom ceased; once Rabban Gamliel the Elder died, the Glory of Torah ceased; once Rabbi Yishmael ben Pavi died, the splendor of the Kehuna ceased; once Rabbi died, humility ceased as well as dread of sin. Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair says: From [the time] the Temple was destroyed, chaverim and high-born men have been ashamed and their heads have been covered and men of merit have been impoverished. But strong-armed men and slanderers have triumphed….” (Sotah 49a)

“Rabbi Chiya bar Ami said in the name of Ulla, from the day the Temple was destroyed, Hakadosh Baruch Hu has nothing in His world but the four amos of halachah.” (Berachos 8a)
The “four amos of halacha” are the Torah Scholars. They are the window through which the Light of Torah enters this world. This light enables this world to exist. 

Two weeks ago, we read the account of the heavenly Merkava, the Novi’s glimpse of Shomayim. Here is how he describes the behavior of the angels: “v’kara ze el ze v’amar … one called to another and said, ‘Holy, holy, holy is Hashem ….” (Yeshiah 6:3; Haftaras Yisro) 

“The significance of these words is explained in Avos d’Rabbi Nassan (12:6), which notes that one malach calls out to the other, ‘You begin the praise of Hashem because you are greater than I.’ The other responds, ‘No, you begin … because you are greater than I.’ This is very different from a human being, whose desire for leadership and honor makes him feel that he is more worthy than his colleagues, and thus deserves to be first in every initiative…. Only a baal middos will be able to give up something that could be his and allow it to be taken by another person.” (Rabbi Avrohom Pam zt”l on Haftaras Yisro)

There are people walking the earth, even in our times, who resemble these malachim in their greatness. Anyone who has merited to visit a Torah sage has seen a face which reflects the brilliance of Heavenly light. There is overwhelming darkness in this world, but there are a few places where the Light of Shomayim shines. 

Literally a few minutes ago I heard a story about the legendary Rosh Yeshiva of Chofetz Chaim,Rabbi Henoch Leibowitz zt”l. Once Rabbi Leibowitz entered an optician’s store. The owner, an observant Jewwanted to give him glasses for nothing, but he knew the Rosh Yeshiva wouldn’t hear of it, so he made up a price – seventy-five dollars – well below his cost. The Rosh Yeshiva said, “I’m sure you are charging me half the price,” and wrote out a check for $150. (Heard from Dr. Ari Teitelbaum) 

The light emanating from the Mishkan and the Bais Hamikdosh was the source of all earthly light. Today that light emanates from Torah sages. The light we see with our eyes is but a pale reflection. Can we comprehend what we are lacking? 

“The light that Hashem created on the first day, man could [use]it [to] survey [everything] from one end of the world to the other end …. Once [however, when] Hakadosh Baruch Hu, looked at the generation of the Flood and the generation of the Dispersion, and He saw that their deeds were perverse, He proceeded to hide [this light] from them …. And for whom did He hide this light? For the righteous people in the future. (Chagigah 12a) 

“May You shine a new light on Tzion and may we all speedily merit its light.” (Shacharis)

*          *          *          *
Roy Neuberger, author and public speaker, can be reached at roy@2020vision.co.il.

© Copyright 2018 by Roy S. Neuberger

15 February 2018

Parashat Truma: The Half Aspires to Become a Whole

Parashat Truma 5778
Rabbi Nachman Kahana

The Half Aspires to Become a Whole

In our parasha, Moshe is commanded to fashion the vessels for the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Most of the dimensions of the vessels were a measure and a half.

The Aron (Holy Ark) was 2.5 amot long (ama = half a meter) by 1.5 wide and 1.5 high.

The Shulchan (Table for the showbread) was 1.5 amot long by 1 ama wide and 1.5 high.

The width of each pole that formed the Mishkan was 1.5 amot

The mitzva of contributing to the purchase of the public sacrifices was a half shekel for each male.

The lesson to be learned from these fractions is that a half aspires to become a whole. In spiritual terms, HaShem seeks to complete His creation by joining the absolute material world of Am Yisrael with the absolute spiritual world of the Creator – each one providing one half of the equation. HaShem began the world, but He requires the Jewish people to make its completion through the mitzvot.

What could have been?

Chapter 13,1 of the book of Yehoshua:
ויהושע זקן בא בימים ויאמר ה’ אליו אתה זקנתה באת בימים והארץ נשארה הרבה מאד לרשתה:

When Yehoshua had grown old, HaShem said to him, “You are now very old, and there are still very large areas of land to be taken.”

The chapter continues by enumerating the vast areas which had not yet been liberated. However, chapter 21,41-43 states:
(מא) ויתן ה’ לישראל את כל הארץ אשר נשבע לתת לאבותם וירשוה וישבו בה:
(מב) וינח ה’ להם מסביב ככל אשר נשבע לאבותם ולא עמד איש בפניהם מכל איביהם את כל איביהם נתן ה’ בידם:
(מג) לא נפל דבר מכל הדבר הטוב אשר דבר ה’ אל בית ישראל הכל בא

43 So HaShem gave Israel all the land He had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there.
44 HaShem gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; HaShem gave all their enemies into their hands.
45 Not one of all HaShem’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.

That is to say, the Jewish nation under Yehoshua had liberated and settled in every area of the promised land, contradicting what is stated in chapter 13,1 as quoted above. So, did the generation of Yehoshua receive and settle every piece of land in Eretz Yisrael or not?

The illustrious biblical commentator Ralbag (Rabbi Levi ben Gershom, scientist, mathematician, medical doctor, engineer and philosopher in 14th century Provence in southern France) suggested that there is no discrepancy between the two verses. HaShem decreed that the time had arrived for the Jewish people to possess all of the Promised Land from the Euphrates River to the Nile – it was theirs for the taking. All they had to do was go and establish their claim. HaShem was handing them the land on a silver platter. However, they declined to complete the liberation process because of laziness, apathy, lack of idealistic energy and motivation.

So, on the one hand, it was true that “HaShem gave Israel all the land He had sworn to give their ancestors.” However, it was equally true that “there are still very large areas of land to be taken.”

We, the generation following the Shoah, are following in the bad footsteps of our ancestors.

In the War of Independence, we fought and survived the onslaught of seven Arab standing armies. The war never really ended, but the ceasefire gave us a respite to catch our collective breath in order to rearm and absorb the more than one million refugees who had come to these hallowed shores.
The situation was vastly different at the end of the Six Day War.

The future will prove that HaShem opened the gates to all of Eretz Yisrael for the Jewish nation. Our troops could have overrun Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt. We could have established the greater Medinat Yisrael or, at the minimum, established puppet governments through which we could have maintained control over all of biblical Eretz Yisrael. We could have forced our enemies to hand over all their weapons and left them with plough shares and shovels.

However, the Jewish people here and in the galut were partners in lacking the idealistic enthusiasm and vision of redemption to take HaShem’s invitation to greatness. We were bitten by the virus of apathy and were satisfied with the minimum land west of the Jordan River. Of course, there would have been international repercussions, but these were to be expected after everything the Jewish State would have done.

At the end of the War of Independence, we could have put an end to the Yishmaelite presence in the land. But the bleeding hearts of our leaders – both secular and religious – allowed many of them to remain here. Today, the Galilee’s majority is non-Jewish. Wadi Arah, running from Caesarea to the Jezreel Valley and cutting the country in two, has a majority of Yishmaelites. The Bedouin in the Negev are grabbing land with their families of 25-50 and more children.

At the end of the Six Day War, we could have resettled all the Yishmaelites to east of the Jordan River and have had more than one million Jews living in Judea and Samaria.

At the end of the Yom Kippur War, when our soldiers were 35 kilometers from Damascus and 101 kilometers from Cairo, we could have dictated conditions that would have provided the Medina with peace for 100 years. However, the avoda zara of “humanism” conquered the ideals of God’s chosen people, leaving us with the situation that we and our children will have to deal with for many years to come.

We have no claims or complaints against our Father in Heaven. He wants the Jewish redemption even more than we. The accusing finger is pointed toward our own lethargic and egotistical faults, as were first displayed by our ancestors at the time of Yehoshua (as explained by Ralbag).

What is left to be completed?

HaShem began the creation process, but He requires the Jewish people to complete it through the mitzvot.

HaShem presented us with the Promised Land. We must complete our side of the covenant by liberating all of it from gentile hands and then give forth the life spirit of Torah in every place.

As the illustrious Ramban says in his comments on the Rambam’s Sefer Hamitzvot (Book of Mitzvot) on the verse (Bamidbar 33,53):
וירַשְתֶם אֶת הָאָרֶץ וִישַבְתֶם בָ
נצטווינו לרשת את הארץ אשר נתן האל יתעלה לאבותינו לאברהם יצחק וליעקב, ולא נעזבנה ביד זולתנו מן האומות או לשממה,

We were commanded to inherit the land that HaShem gave to our forefathers Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov. We are prohibited from leaving the land in the possession of any other nation or from leaving it fallow.

There is still much work to be done. We must regain our holy inheritance, gather in all the Jews remaining in the galut, rebuild the Bet Hamikdash, re-establish the Davidic dynasty, restore halacha as the law of the land, reestablish the Sanhedrin, and reeducate the nation in the ways of the Torah.

Now is the time for renewed energies, restored idealism, clarity of vision for the future and authentic Torah leadership. These qualities will not come from the Jews in the galut. The geula shelaima (total redemption) will arise from the batei midrash (yeshivot) of our youth who learn Torah and devote their lives to the defense of our people and homeland.

Rabbi Nachman Kahana

Parashas Terumah: Speak to the Children of Israel. . .

Parashas Terumah
by Rabbi Pinchas Winston Shlit”a

Speak to the Children of Israel, and have them take for Me an offering; from every person whose heart inspires him to generosity, you shall take My offering.. (Shemos 25:2)

WE ARE NOW in the Purim mode. Last week was Parashas Shekalim, the first of the four special Maftirs read at this time of year, two before Purim and two after. I don’t know about you, but I’m already thinking about Pesach cleaning. I’m older and my kids have moved out. I work slower and things seem to take a lot longer to do than they used to. I’m ALREADY strategizing.

This week’s parsha sets the tone. As the name itself explains, it is about giving. And not just giving, but giving from the heart, OF the heart. Is there anything ELSE to give? Is there any other WAY to give?

The funny thing about giving is that it can look like a giving and yet, end up being a taking. The moment the giving benefits the giver more than the recipient, it is a taking, not a giving.

That’s not necessarily bad. It depends upon the arrangement. I have no problem receiving something that benefits my benefactor more than me as long as I receive what I need or want. I especially have no problem with it if the benefit my giver has gained is purely spiritual.

We also have no problem with being a vehicle for a benefactor’s gain if it is sincere. If a giver acts as if they are making a sacrifice to help out when in fact they are not, or at least not to the extent that they say they are, then it tarnishes the chesed somewhat. It attaches an element of falsehood to the act of giving.

Why is this even important, if the receiver got what they needed in the end? The answer has to do with the entire purpose of giving, which has to do with the entire purpose of living. Oddly enough, this is something that is not so well known. Purim shows us that this often comes back to haunt us.

The Talmud says:

Rav Avdimi bar Chama bar Chasa said, “This teaches that the Holy One, Blessed is He, overturned the mountain upon them like an [inverted] cask, and said to them, ‘If you accept the Torah, it is well; if not, there shall be your burial.’ ” (Shabbos 88a)

This, of course, is problematic. It means that the Jewish people did not FREELY accept the Torah of their own volition, but were coerced into acceptance. They said they were giving themselves to God and Torah, but their giving lacked sincerity. This came back to haunt them 957 years later:

Rava said, “They reaccepted it in the days of Achashveros.” (Shabbos 88a)

They reaccepted it because Haman almost pushed them to the point of extinction. That pushed them to the point of teshuvah, and a VERY sincere acceptance of Torah on ALL levels. By that time Torah was no longer new, and their dependence on God became clear. They were finally in position to accept ALL of Torah for ALL of the right reasons.

It is more than interesting that so much of Purim is about giving. There is a mitzvah to give, not just to people who need to receive, but even those who do not. Matanos L’Evyonim is for the poor, but Mishloach Manos is usually given to those who have. It has even become a central part of the day’s celebrations, and so many people go over the top with their gifts.

The question is, why is giving such an integral part of Purim only? Pesach is also about the redemption of a downtrodden people, so why not make gift giving a part of the holiday as well? What is unique about Purim that ties it to heart-giving more than any other Jewish holiday? Why is Purim, more than any other holiday, about sincerity?

Rebi Shimon bar Yochai was asked by his students, “Why were the ‘enemies of the Jewish people’ in that generation deserving of extermination?”

He told them: “You answer.”

They said, “Because they partook of the feast of that wicked one.”

[He said to them]: “If so, those in Shushan should have been killed, but not those in other parts!”

They then said, “Then you answer.”

He told them: “It was because they bowed down to the image.”

They said to him, “Did God then show them mercy?”

He replied:
“They only PRETENDED to worship, 
so He also only PRETENDED to exterminate them, 
as it says, ‘For he afflicted not from his heart’ 
(Eichah 3:33).” (Megillah 12a)

So, then, they weren’t REALLY deserving of extermination. It just LOOKED that way, and it appeared that Haman COULD have carried out a Holocaust in his time. But really, God had just been pulling their collective leg, taking things down to the wire so that they would . . .

Would WHAT?


Well, think about it for a moment. Mordechai certainly didn’t buy into it, the whole idea of faking their worship of Haman while secretly staying with God. On the contrary, he went out of his WAY to show just how sincerely he DIDN’T give in to Haman and his demands. According to the Talmud, it wasn’t HIS sincerity that almost led to Haman’s decree to wipe out the Jews, but the lack of sincerity on behalf of his fellow Jews.

That’s why the miracle, in the end, comes through Mordechai. In spite of the potential dangers of remaining true to his heart, he stuck with it anyhow. In the end, he not only survived all the dangers, but was elevated to a high position of power.

This is why costumes and drinking are such an important part of the celebration. The costumes mock our ability to create facades in life, and the drinking is supposed to help a person take them down. As the Talmud states, a person is known by three things, one of which is his “cup.”

The interesting thing about insincerity is that it can be so subtle that a person can even be insincere with himself. At some point, people can stop knowing themselves and can find themselves in relationships they do not like or doing things they do not enjoy. But, it can take them years of misery before they finally wake up, realize it, and change it.

It is particularly easy to be insincere with God, at least during times of Hester Panim, when God hides His face. That is when people can go to minyan and pray as if they mean it, when in fact they don’t at all. Or they can perform mitzvos half-heartedly, if even that. They think it is “enough,” which is why they can’t understand when it seems as if God is not on their side.

Until, of course, they can recall what it means to be sincere. That’s what happened to the Jews in Esther’s time. No one prays or fasts more sincerely than someone who believes their life is on the line. It made them worthy, worthy of a great miracle. But they wouldn’t have needed it in the first place had they learned the lesson from this week’s parsha, that it is the HEART of a person that God wants. The “gift” is just the means to give it.

Pinchas Winston