06 March 2021
05 March 2021
I AM A NESHOMA
Why did our ancestors make a Golden Calf?
What does it have to do with us today, 3300 years later?
This was a very serious event. Because of it, Hashem was prepared to eliminate the entire generation which He liberated from Egypt. In the words of Rabbi S. R. Hirsch, Hashem said in effect to Moshe Rabbeinu, “If you do not intercede, and … no one comes forward to help the people weather the crisis and mend their ways, there is no alternative but to destroy them.” (Rabbi Hirsch on Shemos 32:10) This generation was literally playing with fire.
Rabbi Hirsch points out (commentary to Shemos 32:4) that the Calf was not made to represent Hashem; it was made to represent Moshe Rabbeinu. Hashem was not missing; Moshe was missing. This tells the entire story. The people simply could not comprehend the idea of Hashem. They could comprehend a person who is an intermediary between us and Hashem. We all know what a person is.
But Hashem, lehavdil. Who comprehends?
This is so beautiful. This is a reason Hashem gave us the Torah. We can live the Torah and that is how we become closer to Hashem. By living the Torah we become new people. If you try to know Hashem without the Torah, you fail.
What does it mean to have a relationship with the Ruler of the Universe? Why do we have so much trouble with something that is not corporeal? Why is our frame of reference so connected with material things?
We have a body. The usual method of locating our “selves” is physical. I look around and I know where I am, right? I live on a certain street in a certain city. Right now I am sitting at my desk at my computer, writing an article. That’s where I am. And who am I? I am five feet six inches tall. My hair is brown (used to be anyway!) and my eyes are blue. I have a social security number or a Teudat Zehut.
Instead of identifying ourselves physically, it is our avoda to identify ourselves spiritually. “Elokai, neshama sh’nasata bi tahora hi …. My G-d, the soul that you placed within me is pure; You created it; you fashioned it; You breathed it into me….”
I am a neshoma that Hashem created. That is who I am.
“Neuberger, you are not telling me anything I don’t already know.”
Yes, you are correct, but trying to understand that basic fact is in fact the work of a lifetime. This is what we have to do if we want to avoid worshipping the calf.
I am not a social security number. I am not a number on a Teudat Zehut. I am not a person who makes a certain salary and works in a certain job. I am a neshoma.
We have built-in resistance; it is called the Yetzer ha Ra. When one davens and does not focus, it is because there is spiritual gravity as well as physical gravity. The Yetzer ha Ra is trying to pull our mind down to earth. It wants us to focus on the physical, the more basic the better. Esav focused on red stew. That is what interested him. That is what the Yetzer ha Ra wants to do to us.
Hashem is up, and spiritual gravity is trying to pull us down.
When I try to have kavana on a bracha, to comprehend each word and to understand to Whom I am speaking, I feel a huge spiritual fight over each word! Each time! The Yetzer ha Ra is fighting me. The Yetzer ha Ra is a spiritual being -- apparently within us -- that is trying to direct our neshoma to focus on physical phenomena. Yaakov Avinu fought this spiritual being the entire night. He was exhausted by the effort, but he did not stop. That is perhaps why he appeared so old in front of Paro. His entire life was a fight.
My friends, we are in the long night of Exile. We are in a fight that seemingly never ends. “Remember the exhausted [nation] ….” (Kal Keli)
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein zt”l was unhappy when he heard someone say it is “shver” to be a Yid. It is not “shver!” It is magnificent to be a Yid. Our entire existence is noble and great. But the work is strong upon us. The fight against the Yetzer ha Ra does not end until the day of death.
“Rabbi Tarfon says: the day is short, the task is abundant, the laborers are lazy, the wage is great and the Master of the house is insistent.” (Pirke Avos 2:20)
Many of our ancestors in the Desert failed the test. We are being tested now. It is up to us to prevail, to fight, not to give up. There will come a day of reward. The night will end.
“May You shine a new light on Tzion and may we all speedily merit its light.”
The sun will rise. Night will end. “Yeshuas Hashem k’heref ayin.” The yeshua comes suddenly, when you least expect it. May we see it soon in our days!
ESAV LOVES RED STEW
IT WAS just on Parashas Mishpatim that we read the section about Machatzis HaShekel as Maftir for Parashas Shekalim. Now we get to review it this week at the beginning of Parashas Ki Sisa, where Moshe is commanded by G–D to count the Jewish people using a half-shekel contribution by each individual Jew.
As most people may already know, we don’t count Jews, a halachah learned from this week’s parsha. For example, you’re not supposed to walk into a minyan and actually count people to see if you have 10 men. Instead, the one doing the counting usually recites a verse with 10 words as they take note of each individual. When the words run out, they know they have counted 10 people.
This has played havoc with taking a census. Governments are constantly taking a tally of their citizens, and many Torah Jews, concerned about this law, have often abstained. Even though, as we see with counting the members of a minyan, there are ways around the problem, some still feel uncomfortable with the idea.
What’s the big deal? The Torah tells us:
When you take the sum of the Children of Israel according to their numbers, let each one give to G–D an atonement for his soul when they are counted; then there will be no plague among them when they are counted. (Shemos 30:12)
Plague. The problem with counting individual Jews is plague. So, instead, rich or poor, young or old, a person gave a half-shekel, and the total of half-shekels at the end told the leaders just how many Jews there were at the time.
And why does counting Jews result in plague? Rashi explains that part:
Then there will be no plague among them: the evil eye has power over numbered things, and pestilence comes upon them, as we find in Dovid’s time (II Shmuel 24). (Rashi)
Apparently Dovid HaMelech took a census of the people in his time and forgot the halachah. He counted people, and they started to die from plague. The Torah wasn’t kidding about its threat which, according to Rashi, and really the Talmud, doesn’t only apply to people. Ayin Hara can affect anything for a number of reasons, but especially if they are counted.
Ayin Hara? An evil eye? Really?
From time immemorial, mankind has grappled with the idea of an evil, sabotaging force. In a G–D-run world, one expects good to always succeed and evil to fail, good things to happen to good people and bad things to bad people. When the results are twisted, it can only be a cynical evil force at work, like an eerie evil eye.
Is it just an eye, and not two? Is the eye part of someone’s head, like our eyes are, or does it merely exist as some kind of eye in the sky? And what’s its source of power that it can even hurt people whom G–D would otherwise leave alone? And what does it have against counted things?
You have been shown, in order to know that G–D, He is G–D; there is none else besides Him. (Devarim 4:35)
No one even stubs a finger if it is not decreed in Heaven. (Chullin 7b)
Well, doesn’t this just change everything? If G–D is the only power, then the Ayin Hara has none of its own. It’s just another instrument of G–D’s justice, and the question is why, how? What does Divine justice have to do with eyes?
The Talmud says:
Rebi Yehoshua ben Levi said: An eglah arufah was only brought because of tzari-ayin—stinginess. (Sotah 38b)
An eglah arufah was an unworked calf whose neck was broken as part of the atonement process for a mysteriously murdered wayfarer. It was a whole procedure outlined at the end of Parashas Ki Seitzei, carried out by the city to which the wayfarer was closest when he was found. Rebi Yehoshua ben Levi said that such an incident occurred because of tzari-ayin, the stinginess of the town.
In other words, no murder is accidental, even the one’s we treat as accidental. Every death is G–D-arranged and approved. Likewise, knowing the cause of death is also a matter of Hashgochah Pratis, Divine Providence. G–D can either arrange for the cause of death to be known, or hidden. And in a case of murder, G–D forbid, for the murderer to be found or to escape.
Thus, if some town finds itself having to carry out an eglah arufah ceremony, it is their Divine Providence. The person who died was meant to die. The person who killed them will be judged for doing so, and pay for it at the right time in the right way. But the town by which it happened was guilty of their own sin, and that, said Rebi Yehoshua ben Levi, was tzari-ayin. They were stingy, and G–D “rewarded” their stinginess with an unresolved murder and the eglah arufah process.
Is stinginess really that bad?
HOW WOULD you feel if you gave someone money to give to a friend in need, and they took most of it for themself? Cheated, right? Offended, correct? Wouldn’t you confront the person with, “What did you do?! I gave you that money to give to someone else, and you kept it for yourself?!”
In their defense, they would probably answer you, “I DID give it to the person…well, at least some of it. I just thought since I was helping you out, I should get some of it for myself too!”
“Chutzpah!” would probably be the response of many people. Some might even go so far as to call the person a thief!
And yet, do we consider what G–D calls us? After all, He gave us all of our money and possessions to do His bidding, to fulfill some mitzvah which also includes give tzedakah. And since G–D is generous, He expects us to be generous with HIS money and possessions.
So we share a little and give a little, keeping most of it for ourselves. And we feel generous because we believe it all belongs to us, and that giving even a little bit is something amazingly kind…until someone shows up accidentally murdered and the townspeople are forced to rethink the way they LOOK at their blessings in life.
And it doesn’t have to be such a severe message. G–D has different ways of indicating the same flaw to us. It can be unexpected personal financial loss, or an inability to spend what we have, or to enjoy what we spend. Even a plague can severely limit how we dispose of our income.
One of Yosef’s enactments as second-in-command over Egypt was to have people move from city to city, so that everyone would feel like strangers, and be humble. This way his own family, who were strangers in a foreign land, would not feel different from the local inhabitants and therefore, more at home. It was the famine that made that possible.
When the opposite is true, people tend to become absorbed in their own worlds and lifestyles, and forget about others. They can even come to resent those who upset either one of these, looking at them with an ayin ra, an evil eye. Consumed with self-importance, they look down on others less fortunate than they are.
Stand up and be counted? Sit down and blend in, the Torah says. Be a hero, but for the sake of others, not for your own sake. And to get this all-important lesson across, everyone gave only a half-shekel to be counted, making the point that they are only part of the equation, not all of it.
THE GOLDEN calf was the symbol of a desire to go the self-important route. It was an abandonment to the satiation of personal pleasure regardless of the cost to others, or to oneself, down the road. A calf is the symbol of responsibility-less youth, and gold is the symbol of perpetuity. The instigators wanted eternal youth.
The parah adumah, or red heifer, the subject of this week’s Maftir, represented the opposite. The color of blood, it was a blatant reminder that life is fleeting and we are vulnerable. It was a heifer, a mother, responsible with an eye to the future, what every calf must become at some time.
The laws concerning the purification process of which it was a part fall into the category of chukim, statutes that defy human logic. This reminds us that everything in life is a function of the will of G–D, that may or may not make sense to us, but to which we must remain loyal anyhow.
In the end, the golden calf and the parah adumah represent two very different approaches to life, Eisav’s approach, and Ya’akov’s approach. Eisav was an eat, drink, and be merry kind of guy, prepared to let the future take care of itself. Ya’akov was the opposite. He lived in the moment, but to make it a sturdy bridge to a meaningful future.
And that’s okay, for Eisav. Most of his descendants will not go to the World-to-Come, so this is their time for ultimate pleasure. Well, limited ultimate pleasure. If they don’t enjoy themselves now, within limits, then when will they?
But a Jew is supposed to live on track to get to the World-to-Come. They are supposed to do today whatever is necessary to get there tomorrow. Once, Ya’akov was a twin of Eisav, but then he broke away and became a Yisroel, and being his descendants, are supposed to do likewise.
04 March 2021
Watch the Story of the Parents of R’ Elimelech of Lizhensk zt”l
His yartzeit is Friday
Parashat Ki Tisa 5781
Rabbi Nachman Kahana
Frustrating the Diabolical Plans of Enemies
There is much to be learned not only from the texts of the parshiot, but even from their order of appearance.
The last five parshiot of Shemot are: Teruma, Tetzaveh, Ki Tisa, Vayak’hel and Pekudai.
Teruma and Tetzaveh deal with the Mishkan and its implements, parashat Ki Tisa interrupts the sequence and tells of the sinful, disastrous episode of the Egel HaZahav (the Golden Calf). The two final parshiot, Vayak’hel and Pekudai, return to the subject of the Mishkan and its implements.
Mishkan, Mishkan, episode of idolatry, and again Mikdash, Mikdash (mishkan and mikdash are inter-changeable terms) – what does it mean?
The Torah, through the sequence of these five parshiot, is informing the Jewish people of the future that awaits us.
The instructions in parashat Teruma allude to the 479 years of the Mishkan before the Bet Hamikdash was established in Yerushalayim: 39 years in the desert, 14 years at Gilgal, 369 years at Shiloh, and 57 years in Nov and Givon.
Tetzaveh alludes to the 410 years of the Bet Hamikdash of King Shlomo on the Temple Mount in Yerushalayim.
The disastrous, sinful act of idolatry in parashat Ki Tisa alludes to the destruction of King Shlomo’s Bet Hamikdash for reasons of idolatry and the following 70 years of exile.
Parashat Vayak’hel alludes to the Bet Hamikdash built by Ezra and the Jews who returned with him from Babylon and Persia.
Parashat Pekudai alludes to the magnificent Bet HaMikdash built by Hordus (Herod).
The Temples of Ezra and Hordus stood for 420 years before being destroyed by the Romans. The closing of the Book of Shemot alludes to the destruction of the Temple of Hordus and the subsequent 2000-year exile of the Jewish people from our holy land.
The Book following Shemot is Vayikra, which deals in its entirety with the Bet Hamikdash and its service, alluding to the future renaissance of the Jewish people who will return home and build the third Bet Hamikdash.
The time we are living in is one of profound celebration for the beginning of our redemption and salvation. After 2000 years of unspeakable calamities which befell our nation, HaShem has recognized and honors the unflinching loyalty of His people and has returned us to our ancient holy land.
To remain true to the Torah even after the Shoah is worthy of the highest rewards by our Father in Heaven.
He has restored our sovereignty over a large part of Eretz Yisrael and over Yerushalayim.
He has protected us in times of war and has made us prosperous in times of peace. We are creating a Torah empire here the likes of which has not existed in the past 2000 years.
What is transpiring today in the lands of our enemies is a remarkable, miraculous sign of HaShem’s protective wing over His children in Eretz Yisrael.
In the Song at the Sea (Shirat Hayam, Shemot 15:7) the survivors sang:
וברב גאונך תהרס קמיך תשלח חרנך יאכלמו כקש
“With Your infinite genius You destroyed those who rose up against You. You unleashed your burning anger; it consumed them like straw”
At first glance, one would think that instead of:
“With Your infinite genius You destroyed those who rose up against You”
the wording should be:
With Your infinite strength You destroyed those who rose up against You
But indeed, “With Your infinite genius” is absolutely more accurate. Because it comes to describe how HaShem, in His infinite genius, time and again frustrates the diabolical plans of our enemies in ways which are totally unpredictable, and yet keeps the hidden presence of the Creator intact.
In keeping with this, just consider what is currently happening in our region so suddenly and unexpectedly.
The Arabs will be busy fighting each other for years to come. Sunnis vs. Shiites, and both against the Alawis. Arabs against Iranians. Libyans against each other. Christian Copts vs. Moslems in Egypt. Everyone against everyone in Lebanon and Syria. The Sunnis of Iraq against the Shiites of Iraq and all of them against the Kurds. The Turks against the Kurds, and the former Southern Moslem states of the USSR against Russia and against themselves. The flood of Arab refugees from North Africa into Europe. Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Yemen, Bahrain, Oman, Somalia and more.
And in the midst of all this, in the eye of the hurricane, stands the tiny State of Israel – prosperous and happy in the knowledge that HaShem has spread over us His holy cloud of protection, as in the time of our forefathers’ sojourn in the desert.
Indeed, the greatest of life’s experiences is to be a Jew living today in Eretz Yisrael.
The Christian Crusades (of the 21st Century?)
Why is the present American administration, in concert with major Christian countries of Western Europe, continuing the ways of the bad old Obama days? They are running amok to appease the deranged and despicable ayatollahs of Iran; the ones who shout “death to America” whenever a camera appears.
Yet these countries are like the proverbial dog in Mishlei 26,11:
ככלב שב על קאו כסיל שונה באולתו
As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.
They are returning to aid and abet Iran in its quest to produce nuclear bombs.
This brings to memory an incident that occurred here about ten years ago. I was walking to the Old City. At the Jaffa Gate there was a large group of people, obviously very American, lining up to enter. I approached one man and inquired as to who they are and what they represented? He explained that they were American Christians who came to ask forgiveness for what the Christians did to the Jews at the time of the Crusaders. I thanked him and made my way to the front of the line. I inquired as to who was the leader of the group, and man came forward and identified himself as pastor something or other. I then asked him: “Why are you asking our forgiveness for what your co-religionists did to us over 800 years ago, when they did much worse just 70 years ago? His reply was to turn his back to me and walk away.
I suddenly realized that forgiveness was the last thing on their minds. They were part of a campaign to arouse the collective memory of Christians to the ideals of the crusades to bring the Holy Land under Christian control.
This ambition has never left the Christian agenda just because Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn (Saladin) defeated them in the Battle of Hattin in the lower Galilee in 1187. That the Jews have returned home is a major blow to Christian replacement theology, whereby Christianity replaces Judaism as the chosen people. For 2000 years, history was on their side while we roamed the globe begging for a handout from the various nations. They believed we would never return to Eretz Yisrael, much less be sovereign over the land. And to add insult to injury, to be sovereign over Yerushalayim, including their “holy” places. Every day that we are here is one more punch to the solar plexus of Christianity.
I cannot know if the American Christian leaders ever sat in a closed room to plan out the strategy for replacing Medinat Yisrael with the 51st state of the U.S. or the 2nd state of the Vatican, but subconscious thoughts project onto decisions of man and direct his actions.
President Biden is the second Roman Catholic to ascend the office (the first was Jack Kennedy); Mr. Biden is a serious church-going Roman Catholic.
It might become revealed one day that these Christian countries conspired to bring Iran very close to developing a nuclear weapon in order that the State of Israel would implore them to come and save the Jewish State. The US, France, Germany, England and NATO will send tens of thousands of Christian soldiers here and de facto achieve what the Crusaders could not do, that is for Christian control of the Holy Land.
Me Yoday’ah – Who Knows?!
B Here JLMM – Jewish Lives Matter More
Copyright © 5781/2021 Nachman Kahana
דין תוספת זו קיים גם בימים טובים וביום הכיפורים.
ע"פ הלקח טוב (ח-ה) טעם דין זה הוא משום סייג לאיסורי שבת עצמה .
בגדר הדין אם הוא דאורייתא או דרבנן יש מחלוקת. ר' ישמעאל דורש את הפסוקים אחרת ולפיו לכאורה אין מקור לדין תוספת שבת דאורייתא וסובר שהיא דרבנן (ראש השנה ט.). כתב הביאור הלכה שלרוב הפוסקים זה דאורייתא. הרמב"ם לא הביא דין זה ונחלקו הפוסקים בשיטתו קיימת מחלוקת לגבי הופעת דין זה אצל הרמב"ם: בהלכות שביתת עשור (יום כיפור) פרק ו, כותב הרמב"ם: "וְצָרִיךְ לְהוֹסִיף מֵחֹל עַל קֹדֶשׁ בִּכְנִיסָתוֹ וּבִיצִיאָתוֹ". יש האומרים שדברים אלו אמורים ביום כיפור גרידא ויש שאומרים כי הדברים תקפים לגבי כל קודש היינו שבת חגים ושביעית (שנת שמיטה). יש אומרים שאף על פי כן זה דין דאורייתא (שו"ת הרדב"ז). ויש אומרים שזה דרבנן (הגר"א, לפי הביאור הלכה כך משמע מהמגיד משנה). ויש אומרים שאין צריך כלל (בית יוסף). הגר"א פוסק כהרמב"ם ומוסיף שזו דעת התוספות. (עיין בביאור הלכה שהקשה על זה).
ממתי אפשר לקבל תוספת שבת? רבינו ירוחם הביא בשם הגאונים שמפלג המנחה. וכן מובא ברמ"א. פלג המנחה זה שעה ורבע זמניות קודם סוף היום. ישנה מחלוקת מה נחשב סוף היום- שקיעה או צאת הכוכבים.
חקרו האחרונים במהות התוספת, האם בעצם חלק מיום שישי נעשה כשבת עצמה, או שלתוספת יש דין נפרד ואינה חלק משבת (עיון בלומדות א. דברי יחזקאל מה-ה בהשמטה: אינה חלק משבת. והקונטרסי שיעורים נדרים יג-ט חקר כך לגבי תוספת יום טוב.).
האיסור בעשיית מלאכה בזמן תוספת שבת הוא איסור עשה כיון שנלמד מהמילה "תשבתו" (ויקרא כ"ג, ל"ב) וכן כתב החכם צבי, הביאוהו השערי תשובה (רסא ז) והאגרות משה.
חיוב נשים בדין תוספת שבת- היה מקום לומר שזו מצות עשה שהזמן גרמא ולכן נשים פטורות. מאידך אפשר לומר שמה שהגמרא הקישה "שמור" ו"זכור" לחייב נשים בקידוש זה גזירת הכתוב רחבה שמלמדת שנשים חייבות בדיני שבת בדיוק כמו גברים. עוד יש מקום לומר שזה נחשב איסור אף על פי שזה עשה הרי זה איסור וכמו כל איסור אישה חייבת. מהשולחן ערוך שפסק שבהדלקת נרות יש תוספת שבת עולה שגם נשים חייבות בדין זה. עיין ילקוט יוסף שהרחיב בענין זה.
אותיות פורחות באויר