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30 September 2018

Throwing the Aravos onto the Aron Kodesh

Throwing the Aravos onto the Aron Kodesh

On Hoshana Rabba, the Arava, which corresponds to the lips, reigns supreme. The seventh day of Succos is also David HaMelech, the master of prayer's, Ishpizin. The lips appropriately belong to David, and we engage in prayer.

When the extensive Hoshana Rabba prayers are over, many have a custom of hurtling the Aravos onto the Aron Kodesh. That is because from Hoshana Rabba we rise yet higher realms, to Shemini Atzeres/Simchas Torah. We explain and discuss the meaning of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Succos, Hoshana Rabba, but words fail us when we try to capture the significance of Sheminin Atzeres. The lips serve us no benefit, so we throw that which symbolizes them on top of the Aron Kodesh.

Who can grasp, let alone explain, the significance of Shemini Atzeres, when we experience a small degree of the intense closeness that will exist between Hashem and His people when Mashiach will come? Hugging the Torah and dancing, or joining in the festivities in our hearts and minds from wherever we are, we attempt to get a small taste of the great joy of being intimately bonded with Hashem.

Copyright © 2018 Shiurei Harav Moshe Wolfson Shlit"a, All rights reserved.

28 September 2018

Gan Eden in the Succah

Simchas Beis HaShoeva 
Shalosh Seudah Torah
by Harav Moshe Wolfson Shlit"a

The Repeated Command to Sit in the Sukkah

"בסוכות תשבו שבעת ימים כל ,The command to sit in the Sukkah is repeated You shall sit in Sukkos for seven days, every citizen ,האזרח בישראל ישבו בסוכותא" of Israel shall sit in Sukkos.

,"תשבו כעין תדורוב" teaches תשבו The Gemara explains that the first word that one must sit in the Sukkah just like he lives in his home. One of the laws we learn from this is that sitting in the Sukkah has to be similar to regular living, so that מצתער פטור מן הסוכה, if someone is suffering because of his sitting in the Sukkah - e.g. it is raining – he is exempt from sitting in the Sukkah.

The Zohar explains the repeated command as follows: The first command the seven guests that Hashem sends to ,אושפיזין is directed at the "בסוכות תשבו" us in the Sukkah; Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Moshe, Aharon, Yosef and Dovid. The second command, "כל האזרח בישראל ישבו" is directed at every Jew.

The רמז, allegorical connotation, of a verse is always a deeper layer of the What is the connection between the Gemara’s .גthe plain explanation ,פשט explanation, that בסוכות תשבו teachesתשבו כעין תדורו, that one who suffers from sitting in the Sukkah is exempt from the Mitzvah, and the Zohar’s deeper explanation, that these words are directed at the ?אושפיזין

The Avos Join us for the Simcha (Joyful Celebration) of Sukkos

The Sefas Emes teaches that Gan Eden is the source of all simcha. We bless a Chassan and Kallah that they should rejoice, "כשמחך יצירך בגן עדן", as your Creator gladdened you in Gan Eden.
The Trisker Maggid said that inside the Sukkah is an environment of Olam Habah, the utopian world of Gan Eden.ד We can explain that this is so because Sukkos is 'זמן שמחתנו', a time of rejoicing and this simcha is derived from Gan Eden.

The Zohar teaches that when a Jew makes a family celebration such as a wedding, Bar Mitzvah, or Bris, Hashem forces his ancestors out of Gan Eden and makes them descend to this world to partake in their offspring’s happiness.

They need to be forced out of Gan Eden because no event on this world, no matter how joyous, can compete with the infinite bliss of Gan Eden.

Because Sukkos is a Yom Tov of Simcha, our ancestors, the אושפיזין, join us, just like all grandparents join at the simchos of their offspring.

However, Hashem would not force the holy אושפיזין out of Gan Eden to join us. Because we have the Gan Eden in the Sukkah, they happily come down to us.

We can now connect the plain meaning of the words "'בסוכות תשבו וכו" that the Gemara teaches – that מצטער פטור מן הסוכה - and the Zohar’s deeper  explanation – that this command is directed at the .אושפיזין

If the אושפיזין would suffer when forced to leave Gan Eden to sit in the מצטער פטור מן Sukkah, they would not be required to sit in the Sukkah because   אושפיזין can fulfill their directive of joining us in the Sukkah. However, within the Sukkah there is an atmosphere of Gan Eden and the !הסוכה

In the Sukkah there is sufficient Gan Eden for even the אושפיזין who are accustomed to a five star Gan Eden. Every Jew can appreciate the Gan Eden of the Sukkah according to his individual capacity. The more we connect to holiness, the more we can appreciate and enjoy it.

ויקרא כג:מב א
סוכה כו ע"א ב
עי' ערבי נחל בענין קרית ספר ג
בספרו, מגן אברהם ד

An Understanding of Hoshanah Rabbah, Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah

We Build Yerushalayim During This Time of the Year

On the ninth day of Av, as the ruins of Yerushalayim still smoldered, we begin the task of reconstructing the city in which the kingdom of Hashem was manifest.

We continued building Yerushalayim through the Teshuvah of Elul, the Shofar of Rosh Hashanah, the fasting of Yom Kippur, and the prayers we add during this intense time of the year. During Sukkos, we engage in the final stages of building Yerushalayim and with Hoshanah Rabbah, Shemini Atzeres, and Simchas Torah, the spiritual erection of Yerushalayim is completed.

The goal of this entire period, from the ninth of Av until Simchas Torah, is to build Yerushalayim.
What is the meaning of building Yerushalayim?

Yerushalayim is Malchus

Hashem created the world with seven spiritual powers. We refer to these powers as ‘Sefiros’ or ‘Middos’. The Seventh Middah is ‘Malchus’, Kingship. With Malchus, Hashem is sovereign in His world.

During exile, we don’t see Hashem as the King of His world. His house is destroyed and strange edifices replace it; his children, the Jewish People, are easy prey; blasphemy is the norm. ‘Malchus’ is exiled; the sovereignty of Hashem is not visible in the place where it should be, in Yerushalayim.
Hashem created the world so that His Presence should dwell within itא and it is in the erected Yerushalayim that the Shechina (divine presence) finds a dwelling. The building of Yerushalayim is the ultimate goal of Hashem in His creation of the world.

From Tisha B’Av until Shemini Atzeres we are engaged in 'בנין קומת המלכות', building Malchus. During this time of the year we focus on subjugating ourselves to the sovereignty of Hashem and praying for His Malchus to be revealed over the whole world.

Sefer Devarim Corresponds to Malchus

There are two verses in Sefer Bamidbar which constitute an entire Sefer of their own. These are"ויהי בנסועב" and "ובמנחה יאמר" which describe the journeying of the Aron (Ark). Accordingly, there "ויהי are not five, but seven sefarim (books) in the Torah; Bereishis, Shemos, Vayikra, Bamidbar until ג.these two verses, the rest of Bamidbar, and the Devarim ,בנסוע”

Sefer Devarim, the seventh Sefer, corresponds to Malchus, the seventh Middah. It corresponds to Yerushalayim in which the Malchus of Hashem was manifest. ספר דברים is Gematria (has the numerical value of) ירושלים, (they both equal 596).

Indeed, we begin reading Devarim the week preceding the Tisha B’Av and conclude it on .בנין קומת המלכות Shemini Atzeres. We read the sefer of Malchus during the time that we engage in the fortified walls surrounding Yerushalayim, is the phrase we use to refer to ,'חומות ירושלים' Yerushalayim when it is whole, i.e. when the Shechina dwells within her.1

The Walls of Yericho Oppose the Walls of Yerushalayim

There is a city, which is diametrically opposed to Yerushalayim. When its 'חומה' is built, 'חומות'  the of Yerushalayim are destroyed. This city is Yericho which is the first city the Jewish People conquered during their conquest of Eretz Yisroel.

The fortifications of Yericho were the headquarters of evil. They served as one of the walls for the house of ‘Rachav the harlot’. In her home, 'לילית', the feminine aspect of the power of evil, found its haven. The walls surrounding Yericho had to come down in order for holiness to be revealed on Earth.

According to the command of Hashem, the Jewish People circled the city and blew the Shofar for six days. On the seventh day, they circled Yericho seven times and then blew a mighty blast. The impenetrable fortress fell without as much as a single catapult. This showed the world the great ד.power of Hashem

Destroying the חומה of Yericho on Hoshanah Rabbah

On the first six days of Sukkos, the entire congregation circles the Bimah (the center table of the synagogue on which we put the Torah to read from) once with their ‘swords’, the Lulav, unsheathed for battle. They recite ‘Hoshanos’, a prayer that begins and ends with the words – ‘Hosha Na’, ‘[Hashem] Please help!’

On Hoshanah Rabbah, the seventh day, the congregation circles the Bimah seven times, and recites seven different ‘Hoshanos’ prayers.

On Hoshanah Rabbah, the verdict we were handed on Yom Kippur is finalized. It is referred to as the 'יום החותם', the day that our verdict is sealed.

fortress. The circling of the Bimah that ,חומת ,seal, has the same letters as the word ,חותם takes place on Hoshanah Rabbah destroys חומת Yericho, the fortresses of evil, and the verdict is sealed, חותם, that the side of holiness will receive all the bounty and the powers of evil will not be able to partake of it.

Every year on Hoshanah Rabbah, before Shemini Atzeres when the חומה of Yerushalayim is to be completed, we first destroy the חומה of Yericho, i.e. the powers of evil.

The Power of Hoshanah Rabbah

On Hoshanah Rabbah, we take off the rings that are on the Lulav before shaking it. Taking off these rings has symbolic meaning.

In Megilas Esther, we find that the authority of the King was vested in his ring because it contained the royal signet. Achashveirosh gave Mordechai the power that Haman had wielded, by ה’.taking ‘the ring that he had removed from Haman and giving it to Mordechai

When we remove the rings of the Lulav, Hashem passes the power of Judgment to the Jewish People. Achashveirosh told Mordechai "כתבו על היהודים כטוב בעיניכםו", decree for the Jews as you see fit’. We hold the signet of the King in our hand and with the power of our Service render a verdict for the Jewish people ‘as we see fit.’

The Awesomeness of Shemini Atzeres

"וַ ֲאנִי ֶא ְהיֶה ָלּהּ נְ ֻאם ה' חוֹ ַמת ֵאשׁ ָס ִביב וּ ְל ָכבוֹד .In fact, it is Hashem Himself who is the true fortress of Yerushalayim .I will be, says Hashem, a fortress of fire around Yerushalayim and to honor I will be amidst her , ֶא ְהיֶה ְבתוֹ ָכהּ" )זכרי' ב:ט(

Hoshanah Rabbah, Shemini Atzeres, and Simchas Torah are very powerful days, the Baal Shem Tov teaches. Praying with concentration and devotion on these days will pave the way for proper praying the entire year.

The physical world is governed by the power of seven; there are seven days in a week, seven continents etc. When we come to the number eight, we enter the realms of the supernatural. On the Seven days of Sukkos we are still connected to this world; on Shemini Atzeres, the eighth day, we are in Heaven.

On Sukkos, we hold the Esrog, which is the פרי עץ הדר, fruit of splendor. On Shemini Atzeres .ז the Ramban teaches ,הדר in our hands, because the day itself is הדר we don’t hold the
for all his devout הדר He is ,"הדר הוא לכל חסידיו" ,also refers to Hashem as it says in Tehilim הדר ones. When the Divine Presence manifests itself on a Jew, the Jew is then called הדר. On Shemini  rests on His people and they are called ,הדר Hashem, the ,הדר Atzeres, the day of .הדר

The Exclusive Relationship Between Hashem and the Jewish People

On Sukkos, we sacrifice seventy oxen on behalf of the seventy gentile nations. On Shemini Atzeres we sacrifice only one, on behalf of the Jewish People.

Rashiח describes this with a parable. On Sukkos, all the nations of the world are invited to partake of the banquet of the King. When Shemini Atzeres comes, we escort all the dignitaries of the nations to the door, we present them with gifts and are glad to see them go. It is time for the King, Hashem, and the Queen, the Jewish People, to be alone together.

"ולא עמד איש אתו בהתודע יוסף ,When Yosef revealed his identity to his brothers the verse tells us no man was with him when Yosef made himself known to his brothers. The Zohar explains ,אל אחיוט" ,בהתודע increases, the Jewish People. When Hashem will ,'מוסיף' alludes to Hashem who יוסף that make Himself known, to אחיו, the Jewish People who are called his brothers2 it is in complete privacy, .ולא עמד איש אתו

Shemini Atzeres is when Hashem makes himself known to the Jewish People. Our relationship reaches its most intense point and is compared to the relationship of marriage which is a completely private one.

The Gentile nations are satisfied with the gifts, i.e. the bounty they received on Sukkos by means of the sacrifices, with which they will sustain themselves for the year. The Jewish People give the bounty they received hardly a glance. We focus on the genuine treasure; we want our beloved, Hashem Himself.

Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah – A Time for Dveikus

There is one commandment in the Torah which is the purpose of the entire Torah. This Mitzvah is "ובו תדבק", you shall cleave to Hashem. The Zohar explains that all 612 commandments are really methods by which we can attain this essential mitzvah.

We have no specific Mitzvah for Shemini Atzeres because it is reserved for the ultimate one - Dveikus. Being in a state of Dveikus is the greatest pleasure that exists. Tzaddikim who are in a constant state of intense Dveikus cannot tear themselves away from this bliss for even a moment. On Shemini Atzeres, the Dveikus that tzaddikim have with Hashem is evident as they cannot tear themselves away for anything else.

."למען אחי ורעי וכו'" ,132 As the verse says in Tehilim perek

On Shemini Atzeres, a chassid in a jubilant mood, went over to his Rebbe, the Hornsteipler Rebbe, and wished him, “The Rebbe should have a long life.”

The Rebbe completely ignored him. Later, the frightened Chassidim asked the Rebbe, “Why did the Rebbe not answer Amen to the blessing of a long life?”

The Rebbe looked at them in wonderment, “I should tear myself away from the Dveikus of the Shemini Atzeres to focus on something like a long life?”

People who have not yet reached the level of intensely cleaving to Hashem every moment are not precluded from the Mitzvah of Dveikus. Every Jew can fulfill this Mitzvah according to his ability - even the lowest Jew can cleave to Hashem.

Attaining Dveikus includes working on enjoying Mitzvos. Learning Torah and praying are tremendously pleasurable activities for the neshama. A person should work that his pleasures should come from holiness; he should be gratified and excited with Torah and Mitzvos.

Shemini Atzeres – Ensuring a Sweet Verdict, Jewish Sovereignty

.upon the Eight day you must restrain from doing forbidden work ,"וביום השמיני עצרת תהי' לכםי" The Maor Vashamesh sees something deeper in the word עצרת, restraining. On the eight day, we have the power to restrain all severity and punishment from befalling the Jewish people.

R’ Sholom of Belz said, “What the dancing on Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah can accomplish, I cannot reveal. But this much I will share with you: Any prayer that didn’t enter heaven a whole year (because it was deemed unfit) is elevated through this dancing.”

The word עצרת can also mean ‘Sovereignty3.’ On Shemini Atzeres, Jews merit Sovereignty. It is the day in which we are on the top.

Receiving the Torah

The Gemara states: A day of rain is as great as the day of the giving of the Torahיא. The ‘day of rain’ is Shemini Atzeres when we when we recite תפילת גשם, the prayer for rain which is the source of all sustenance.

The spiritual correspondent of water is Torah. We see that water really refers to Torah from the verse, "אין מים אלא תורהיב", there is no water other than Torah4. When a Torah Jew prays for rain, he has rain in mind, as a symbol of livelihood, only peripheral to Torah. What he really asks for as he says, בעבורו על תמנע מים, do not withhold water from us, is that Hashem should shower him with bounty in Torah. The Zohar says that wellsprings of Torah are opened on Shemini Atzeres.

Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah are days to ask Hashem for an abundance of understanding in Torah and to merit praying with Dveikus.
3 4

The Ingathering of All the Avodas Hashem of the Entire Year

As the verse in Shmuel uses it, (זה יעצר בעמי" )שמואל ט:יז", this one [referring to King Shaul] will rule my nation.

In truth, the entire physical world represents spiritual realities. The Chasam Sofer questioned the reward for the fulfillment of Mitzvos, "ואספת דגניך ותירושך ויצהרך", you will gather your wheat, wine and oil, “I’m not a farmer, I don’t gather my crops. What kind of reward is there for a Torah Scholar?” He explained that wheat refers to Halacha, wine to Aggadah (the moral teachings of the Gemara) and oil refers to the secrets of the Torah.

Simchas Torah is the last day in a succession of great days. As a Tzaddik leaves this world, during his last moments, all of his Torah, prayer, and mitzvos are gathered together and his power of holiness is greatly compounded.5

On Simchas Torah all of the Torah, tefilah and Mitzvos of a whole year gather together so there tremendous spirituality is available. It is an opportune time to grab some to last for a whole year! There is so much available!

On Simchas Torah, we take out all the Torah Scrolls from the Holy Ark. The ‘Yesod Yosef’ explains that this symbolizes that Hashem opens all of his treasure houses on this day. There are great, holy lights for everyone to enjoy according to each individual’s spiritual capability.

A fool ruins all that he is given. Let us not be fools! So much goodness is being showered upon us; we must not let it go to waste!


Although the prime focus of the day is spiritual, on Shemini Atzeres one can also ask for a bountiful livelihood.

King David was ecstatic when the Aron of Hashem [which contained the Torah] was bought to a more permanent dwelling. He danced and jumped with all his strength. His wife Michal looked askance at her husband. She thought it was beneath his dignity to dance like this in front of the .יג nation. Her punishment was that she never had any children during her lifetime

The positive is always stronger that the negative. If the punishment for not dancing with the Torah is to be denied children, then through dancing with the Torah one can merit giving birth to children and having nachas from children.

Each Jew is Connected to His Root in the Torah

The Tanya teaches that each Jew is rooted in the Torah. Through sin he severs himself from his roots and is distanced from the Torah. There used to be Tzaddikim who were able to reconnect Jews to their roots. Nowadays, there are no Tzaddikim who can do this. This does not mean that we will be permanently detached from holiness. If there is no tzaddik who can attach us to the Torah, Hashem Himself will. 6

Through the avodah of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we rectified ourselves and were drawn nearer to our roots in the Torah. On Sukkos, we are beneath the צילא דמהימנתא, the shadow of Hashem. Hashem protects us and brings us closer to Him and His Torah. On Simchas Torah every Jew receives an Aliyah to the Torah (he makes a blessing before the Torah is read).

The Jew has returned to his roots in the Torah.
תניא א5
Eliyahu Hanavi responded that if Elisha is there as he departs from this world, his wish will be fulfilled. At the moment of his passing, Eliyahu possessed the spiritual power of all the days of his life combined, and he was able to give Elisha double of what he usually had. 6

Elisha Hanavi, the disciple of Eliyahu Hanavi, requested that his rebbe give him double of his own spiritual power. How could this be possible?

A Tzaddik who can affect salvations for Jews is referred to as a 'פועל ישועות', maker of salvation. In the prayer of Ahavah Rabbah we say to Hashem "קל פועל ישועות אתה", you are the פועל ישועות. If there are no Tzaddikim today who can connect a Jew to his roots in the Torah, than you Hashem do it for us!

במדבר י:לה,לו ב
שבת קט"ז ע"א ג יהושע פרק ו' ד
אסתר ח:ב ה
אסתר ח:ח ו
רמב"ן ויקרא כג:מ ז
סוף פ' פנחס ח
בראשית מה:א ט
במדבר כט:לה י
תענית דף ז' א' יא
בבא קמא דף פ"ב א' יב שמואל ב פרק ו' יג 

27 September 2018

The Shechina Hovers Upon the Sechach

Gan Eden in the Succah 
by Harav Moshe Wolfson Shlit"a

The Shechina (Divine presence) hovers upon the Sechach which covers the Sukkah. This is described in Parshas Ha’azinu, where the Shechina is compared to, an eagle which awakens its nest, hovering above its ,"כנשר יעיר קנו על גוזליו ירחף" hatchlings.

"להקיף אותם מזיו, Upon entering the Sukkah we recite a prayer asking Hashem surround them (the Jewish ,כבודך הקדוש והטהור נטוי על ראשיהם מלמעלה כנשר יעיר קנו" people) with the radiance of your holy, pure glory, spread over their heads like an eagle as it awakens its nest.

The flimsy branches of Sechach cannot protect us from the elements. We are meant to reflect on this and realize that nothing physical is worthy of our trust; only Hashem can support and protect us. When we realize this we will be able to feel safe and secure even under the primitive roof of the Sukkah.

The Sukkah teaches us that we are ensconced beneath the protective wings of the Shechina. We can continue to draw protection from the mitzvah of Sukkah for the entire year. Given the extremely dangerous state of the world today, we should put a strong emphasis on properly fulfilling it.

"וְ ֻס ָכּה ִתּ ְהיֶה ְל ֵצל יוֹ ָמם ֵמחֶֹרב Prophet Yeshaya describes Hashem’s protection as a Sukkah which shields from dryness during the day, and ,וּ ְל ַמ ְח ֶסה וּ ְל ִמ ְסתּוֹר ִמ ֶזּ ֶרם וּ ִמ ָמּ ָטרא" protects and shields against flood and rain. כנשר, an eagle, is gematria תהיה לצל, it will be a shield (they both equal 570). Like the eagle hovering protectively over its young, the Shechina protects those who fulfill the mitzvah of Sukkah from any lurking dangers.

Freedom in the Sukkah

Upon settling Eretz Yisrael, the Jews were commanded to observe every fiftieth year as a year of Yovel. During this year, all sold land reverted to its original owner and all enslaved Jews were set free. Yovel is a sublime spiritual power which emancipates and returns everything to its roots, where it belongs.1

The courts would proclaim the year as Yovel by blowing the Shofar on Yom Kippur. The Shofar was blown specifically on Yom Kippur because it is a day of Yovel - return. Through the repentance of Yom Kippur, Jewish souls are relieved from subjugation to the evil forces and are returned to their source – G-d Himself.
In addition to the biblical command to blow the Shofar on Rosh Hashana, it is customary to blow the Shofar at the end of Yom Kippur, in commemoration of the courts’ Yovel blasts.

The shofar blast of Rosh Hashana, which inspired repentance, is also connected to the spheres of Yovel. However, the Tanya teaches that the shofar blast which concludes the service of Yom Kippur has its roots in even loftier spheres than that of Rosh Hashana. It is rooted in the mighty blast which Hashem will blow to herald Mashiach. 1 The concept of Yovel was explained more comprehensively in Parshas Matos.

This Shofar blast will inspire every Jew to return to Hashem and afterwards Mashiach will come and return every Jew to Eretz Yisrael - the ultimate Yovel.

In a way, Sukkos is a continuation of Yom Kippur. Within the Sukkah, the atmosphere of Yovel reigns.2 The Zohar ב teaches that we merit freedom for ourselves and our children by sitting in the Sukkah. כנשר is gematria "יובל הוא תהיה לכםג", it is Yovel, it shall be for you (they both equal 570). The Sukkah, upon which the Shechina hovers over like an eagle, is filled with vibrations of Yovel.

A Sukkah is only for the Free

The Mishna ד relates that Tavi, the non-Jewish slave of the Rabbi Gamliel, slept under the bed in the Sukkah, thereby ensuring that he would not fulfill the mitzvah of Sukkah which requires being directly beneath the Sechach. R’ Gamliel praised Tavi because his act demonstrated that he knew that slaves are exempt from being in the Sukkah, since they are obligated to fulfill all non-time-bound mitzvos only, and the mitzvah of Sukkah is time-bound.

However, slaves can fulfill the mitzvah of Sukkah even though they are exempt. Women are also exempt from time-bound mitzvos nevertheless sit in the Sukkah.3
However, knowing that in the Sukkah an atmosphere of Yovel - freedom - prevails, we can understand why it would be incongruent for a slave to enter the Sukkah. Rabbi Gamliel praised Tavi for his perception in realizing that he had no connection to the Yovel which reigns in the Sukkah.

Furthermore, Tavi was a reincarnation of Cham ה, the son of Noach who was cursed with everlasting slavehood because he violated Hashem’s command that the inhabitants of the Teivah (ark) separate from their spouses.

The Sukkah and Teivah are remarkably similar. As the Sukkah provides protection, מזרם וממטר, the Teivah also protected from the raging waters of the Mabul (deluge). Like the Sukkah, the protection of the Teivah was divine in nature. Could planks of wood smeared with tar halt the raging, boiling waters of the Mabul?

Just as we have halachos (laws) how to build a Sukkah, and if not followed, a Sukkah is nothing more than a flimsy shack, so too did Hashem instruct Noach precisely how to build the Teivah. Each Halacha is a holy name of Hashem (as explained in the essay on Mikvah). It was not the physical edifice that blocked the waters, but the holy names of Hashem.

Tavi, who was once Cham, understood that he specifically had no place in the Sukkah, since he had violated the holiness of the Teivah.4

Proper Conduct in the Sukkah 2

The walls of the sukkah are referred to as מקיפין דבינה, encirclements of Binah. Binah and Yovel3 are synonymous, as was explained in Parshas Matos. 4

Tosfos proposes an answer by quoting the Gemara Yerushalmi which says that the sukkah was crowded. However, the Gemara Bavli’s omission indicates that there was another consideration.

Cham continued to sin on their exit from the Teivah by publicizing the fact that Noach had become uncovered. By sinning in the area of lack of covering, he deepened the disconnect between him and the Teivah/Sukkah which is a holy covering (see note 1).

Sefarim teach that the Sukkah contains the holiness of Yerushalayim and the Bais HaMikdash. This is reflected in the prayer recited before entering the Sukkah on the first night, where we ask that in the merit of the mitzvah of Sukkah, we be able to live in the Holy land for many years.

I love the place of your dwelling (i.e. the ,אהבתי מעון ביתך is gematria כנשר יעיר קנו Bais HaMikdash) and also, חיבת ירושלים, the love of Yerushalayim (they each equal 1016). In the Sukkah, over which Hashem hovers like an eagle over its nest, is the atmosphere of the Bais HaMikdash and Yerushalayim.

Due to its holiness, one should be careful not to chatter idly when sitting in the Sukkah. Of course, we have to be aware of our family’s emotional needs and individualize this according to each family’s situation. Some families can discuss the halachos of Sukkah, some the significance of the Mitzvah, others can say stories of tzaddikim and sing, but the atmosphere in the Sukkah is elevated, and the topic of conversation should reflect that.

The Lulav Proclaims Victory

On Sukkos we hold the Lulav high as a symbol of having emerged victorious from the judgment of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, just as soldiers returning triumphantly from battle hold their swords aloft. How do we know that we were vindicated in judgment? It would seem that we would have to wait for the year to pass first.

The Midrash tells of a tailor who went to buy a fish to fulfill the mitzvah of eating a meal on the eve of Yom Kippur. When he arrived at the marketplace there was only one fish left and the servant of a noble wanted to purchase it for his master who loved to eat fish. They bid on the fish until the price reached a ridiculously high amount and the servant withdrew and the tailor purchased the fish.

The nobleman asked his servant why he returned empty-handed. He explained what happened saying, “A tailor up-bid the price and I knew you would not want me to pay such an ostentatious price for a simple fish.” The noble summoned the tailor, “Why did you raise the price so high?”

“We have one day in the year when G-d pardons our sins and I needed the fish for my meal to celebrate the forgiveness of my sins.”

The noble responded, “You have proved your point, so you are excused.”

How did the tailor prove that Yom Kippur is a day of forgiveness by purchasing the fish at such an astronomical price? Also, nobles spent inordinate amounts of money on gratifying their various desires, how was the servant so sure that his master would be unwilling to spend so much money on a fish which he would enjoy eating?

The reason why the servant was so sure that his master would not want to spend an extravagant sum on the fish was because of a psychological rule, (which is rooted in arrogance): no one wants to feel taken advantage of. Do not use me! A rich man will not be willing to spend ten dollars on a toothpick even though he could well afford it. Even he will only purchase a product at the most reasonable price he could find.

The nobleman would not want to over-spend on a fish because he would feel taken advantage of. The tailor, on the other hand, did not care about his rights at all. He loved Hashem so much, he would spend whatever necessary for the mitzvah of eating a meal on the eve of Yom Kippur.

When the tailor said that on Yom Kippur Hashem forgives the sins of the Jewish people, the nobleman believed him because feelings tend to be mutual. If the tailor loved Hashem so much that he did not mind being taken advantage of and "על כל פשעים overspending so outrageously, then certainly Hashem loved him too and love obscures all faults , תכסה אהבהו”

By being willing to overspend so outrageously for the love of a mitzvah, the tailor exhibited his tremendous love for Hashem which shows the overwhelming love of Hashem for him, thus proving that Yom Kippur is a day when Hashem pardons all Jewish sins.

If one would ask a fruit vendor how much an Esrog is worth, he would say, “If a lemon is four for a dollar, an Esrog should be six for a dollar.” A florist would include a lulav for free with every bouquet. To spend $200-$300 on a set of the four species is outrageous from the perspective of a fair price.

However, in our overwhelming love for Hashem, Jews are willing to spend whatever price is demanded for the most beautiful Lulav and Esrog available and do not regard our natural feeling of not wanting to be taken advantage of. This guarantees Hashem’s great reciprocal love for the Jewish people by which He surely forgave our sins and granted us a favorable verdict.

Side-Benefits of the Mitzvah of Sukkah

In Parshas Ha’azinu, Hashem says, מחצתי ואני ארפא, I have stricken and I will heal. Seforim teach that מחצתי refers to the מחיצות, walls, of the Sukkah. Thus the verse reveals that sitting in the sukkah can affect a complete cure.

The Mitzvah of Sukkah is also auspicious for raising virtuous children, as the Torah tells us that we should sit in Sukkos in order that, "למען ידעו דורותיכםז", your generations should know that the Jews sat in Sukkos when they left Egypt.

The Gemara teaches "המצטער פטור מן הסוכהח", one who is suffering because of his sitting in the Sukkah [e.g. it is raining] is relieved of the obligation of Sukkah. The Tiferes Shlomo sees salvation in these words, המצטער, one who is suffering, פטור – can relieve himself of his suffering, מן הסוכה – through the mitzvah of Sukkah. A Jew can rid himself of his troubles in the Sukkah because therein is Yovel, which brings freedom and redemption.5

[. . .] This year, may we all return to our roots in Eretz Yisrael and to Hashem himself. 5

5  (תהלים כז:ה) "כי יצפננו בסכה” for He will hide us in a Sukkah (to protect us) is gematria  
לכל ישבה
 (ויקרא כהי [Yovel frees] all her [Eretz Yisrael’s] residents (they both equal 403)

ישעי' ד:ו א
פ' אמור ב
ויקרא כה:י ג
סוכה דף כ' ע"ב ד
גלגולי נשמות לרמ"ע מפאנו ה משלי ו:יב ו
ויקרא כג:מג ז
סוכה דף כ"ה ע"ב ח

Copyright © 2018 Shiurei Harav Moshe Wolfson Shlit"a, All rights reserved. 

26 September 2018

Simchat Beis HaShoeva LIVE UPDATE

Simchat Beit Hashoeva: 
"Dance and rejoice and salvation will come”

The clarinet artist Hilik Frank in a special interview on the occasion of Sukkot. What is Hasidic music? What are the virtues of joy? And even about the color of socks that distinguishes this stork from another. Interview with Clarinet Artist Hilik Frank

סוכות בחברון:
אירוע סוכות המסורתי יחל היום בחברון. אלפים צפויים להשתתף בהופעות מגוונות הפעלות לילדים ותפילות בכל רחבי מערת המכפלה
Succot in Hebron

Sukkot in Hebron: 
A host of concerts and activities

The traditional Sukkot event will begin today in Hebron. Thousands are expected to participate in varied performances, activities for children and prayers throughout the Cave of the Patriarchs

The traditional Hebron event will begin today in the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, as it does every year.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, 16th and 17th of Tishrei, the Cave of the Patriarchs is open to Jews only, the main festival on Wednesday.

In the coming days there will be guided tours to visitors, free of charge at the sites of the Jewish community of Hebron. The tour will take place from the Information Center at the foot of the Tomb of the Patriarchs, led by instructors from the Hebron Midreshet.

The director of the Cave of the Patriarchs said that a special entrance to the cave of Otniel Ben Kenaz will take place on Tuesday between 13: 00-16: 00. And on Wednesdays between 13:00 and 16:00 there will be tours of the alleys of the Old City.

Special tours guided by street actors and activities for the whole family at the Biblical site of Hebron, arriving at the site in a free 'Safari' experience. Departing and returning from the Cave of the Patriarchs.

The "Touching the Immortal" visitor center at Beit Hadassah is also open to visitors.

Wednesday morning at 6:00 am Shacharit Kutikin at the Yitzhak Hall in the Cave of the Patriarchs with Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu shlita accompanied by musical instruments and attended by thousands of worshipers from all over the country.

On Wednesday, from 14:00, the main festival was held at the foot of the Cave of the Patriarchs with the participation of the best Jewish and Hasidic singers. Transportation from around the country.

Private vehicles can be reached by way of Kiryat Arba, with increased security in Hebron and the roads leading to it.

Bus Lines from Jerusalem:

Egged Transport line 201 - direct from the Binyanei Ha'uma parking lot to the Tomb of the Patriarchs - will run on Tuesday and Wednesday from 09:00 to 19:00.
Return - from the Cave of the Patriarchs to Jerusalem will run between 10:30 and 21:00.
At the time of activation of line 201, lines 381 and 383 are canceled.

On Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays private vehicles can be reached to the Cave of the Patriarchs, public transport - Kavim 381, 383 workers in regular mode

Welcoming the Ushpizin

Some Mussar from the Chofetz Chaim: who teaches that every host who invites guests must realize that he himself is also a guest – a guest in this temporal world. The Yom Tov of Sukkos fortifies this concept, as we enter into a temporary dwelling: the sukkah. As the Zohar explains, the sukkah is known as tzila dim’hemenusa  a shade of faithfulness, where the Shechina spreads her wings over us, reminding us that b’Yadcha l’vad, we are in Your Hands, Hashem, in Your Hands alone.

Two of the haftaros during Sukkos talk about the battle known as “milchemes Gog uMagog” – the cataclysmic series of battles that will result in the Geulah Sheleimah and Yemos HaMoshiach. There are many interpretations of the battle of Gog uMagog. Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch, zt”l, explains that the words gog and magog derive from the word gag – roof. A roof represents that which we believe is sturdy and protective, in contrast to the sukkah with its weak and unstable roof of s’chach. Hence the battle of Gog and Magog is the internal struggle of believing that we are in control versus accepting the reality of Hashem’s dominance over our existence.

We are all familiar with the expression “I have a roof over my head,” indicating a feeling of security and stability. The sukkah is the antithesis of the gag. The sukkah depicts the realization that we are not in control and that we must place our trust in Hashem. We have total faith in the tzila dim’hemenusa, the protective Heavenly shade.

The passuk tells us in Parshas Ki Seitzei (Devarim 22:8) that when you build a new house “v’asisa maakeh l’gagecha” – you should make a fence for your roof (so as to remove a potential danger). In light of our new explanation of the struggles of Gog Magog, perhaps the passuk is telling us that when it comes to gagecha – your roof, your believe that you’re safe and in control – v’asisa maakeh – make a fence around that concept. Remind  yourself that only Hashem determines our fate, our safety, our serenity.

We must believe that we are ushpizin in the temporary confines of the sukkah, reinforcing our emunahy, our pure faith in Hashem. It is this emunahy that we must convey to our family.

The passuk in Hallel says (Tehillim 116:10), “he’emanti ki adabel… – I believe even when I say…” However, these words can also be translated as “he’emanti” – instill emunahy (into your family) “ki adaber” – by speaking about it. Only then will it become the bedrock of our existence.

Many years ago some of the last talmidim of the Vilna Gaon were making the journey to settle in Eretz Yisrael. One talmud was Rav Yeshiva Bardaki. Unfortunately, before the journey began, his wife passed away, leaving him with a young son and daughter to raise alone. As their ship was nearing the final part of its journey, the weather turned incredibly tumultuous, with extraordinarily dangerous waves. The ship capsized, and everyone attempted to frantically swim to the shores of Eretz Yisrael.

Rav Yeshaya Bardaki took his two little children, one under each arm, and began what seemed like an impossible task. Every time he felt that he could not go on, he gathered a bit more strength.

Finally he realized that he simply could not continue, and that it would be better for two of them to survive than for all three to perish. In a most heart-wrenching and unfathomably difficult decision, he decided to take on child, and leave the other behind. As he began to swim away with his son, he heard his daughter’s voice. Her cry pierced the heavens. “Tatty! Tatty! Please don’t leave me! I don’t have a mother – if you leave, I won’t have a father. You are all that I have! Please don’t leave me!

When Rav Yeshivah heard these words emanating from the depths of her soul, he miraculously felt renewed chizuk. He swam back to her, and b’chasdei Hashem, the three made it safely to Eretz Yisrael.

We cry to Hashem in the tefillah of Avinu Malkeinu, “Ein lanu melech ela Attah!” Ribbono shel Olam, please don’t leave us; You are all that we have! Ki hineni b’Yadcha l’vad.”

This Sukkos may we internalize our role as ushpizin. Let us vanquish any destructive concept of Gog uMagog. Let us merit that Hashem will hear our cries from the depths of our souls. And as Rav Yeshivah Bardaki merited, may Hashem bring us, [ALL] His children, safely back to Eretz Yisrael. Then we will see the fulfillment of “HaRachaman Hu yakim lanu es sukkas David hanofales.”


As read in Hamodia, by Rabbi Ephraim Eliyahu Shapiro, Rav of Congregation Shaaray Tefilah in North Miami Beach, Florida.

25 September 2018

Sanctifying God”s Name With Music

'He wanted to sanctify God's name with music’
(Snuffed out returning from praying at the Kotel; I guess he did… 
during Zman Simchaseinu)

Victim of deadly hit-and-run by Spanish report identified as haredi pianist Haim Tukachinsky.

Tukachinsky was a graduate of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, where he studied both piano playing and composition.

“I think that music is one of the greatest gifts that you can give a person,” Tukachinsky said in a 2015 interview with Mahut Hahaim Radio.

“Music has the power to make a person happy, regardless of what situation he is living in.”

Tukachinsky emphasized the role of both religion and music in his life.

“I’m a Jewish religious musician. I observe everything [in the religion]. I try very hard to keep all of it.”

“A lot of people say that I must be conflicted, that I live between two different worlds. That’s really not the case. Music brings worlds together.”

In an interview with Behadrei Haredim on Tuesday, Tukachinsky’s mother, Yael Tukachinsky said her son had been interested in music from a very young age, and ultimately left his yeshiva studies to pursue a career in music.

“He learned in yeshiva ketana [elementary school] in Kiryat Motzkin, but he didn’t want to continue to yeshiva gedolah. He wanted to use music to sanctify God’s name.”

"He was a composer, accompanist, pianist and conductor. He learned to play every instrument, so that he could compose [music] and make it suitable for each [instrument] precisely.”

Four Types of Personalities – An Interesting Read

There Are Only Four Personality Types, Psychologists Say

The rough and ready, the bold and beautiful and the teen humanitarian will be appalled to learn that they don’t exist, according to new data

Attempts to classify “personality type” probably go back to the cave. Co-author Prof. William Revelle says attempts date back at least to Hippocrates, the physician who lived around 2,400 years ago (460 B.C.E. to 370 B.C.E.), who probably wasn’t the first to mournfully note that “life is short.” However, Revelle explains, previous scientific literature found the attempts to classify personality type to be balderdash. “Now, these data show there are higher densities of certain personality types,” he sums up.

Actually the study looks at a number of different questionnaires from different sources, developed over decades, one being the BBC’s Big Personality Test datasets. The tests had between 44 and 300 questions, say the researchers.

The average neurotic

It is true that all 1.5 million respondents are surfers, which is one constraint on the conclusions. “People voluntarily take the online quizzes attracted by the opportunity to receive feedback about their own personality,” writes the team.

That’s a downside. But there’s an upside in the sheer vastness of the global online population. It is the biggest pool in history.

“The thing that is really, really cool is that a study with a dataset this large would not have been possible before the web,” Amaral says. “Previously, maybe researchers would recruit undergrads on campus, and maybe get a few hundred people. Now, we have all these online resources available, and now data is being shared.”

The personality types are based on the five widely accepted basic personality traits: neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness. With the help of mathematics, four clusters emerged. We quote:

Average: More neurotic and extroverted than the other types, not very open. The team says women are more likely than men to fall into the Average type. The team also thinks most people fall into this category, which makes “average” a good name for it.

Reserved: Emotionally stable, not open and not neurotic. Don’t look to them to dance on the desk at offices parties: they are likely to be “somewhat agreeable and conscientious.”

Role Models: Score low on neuroticism and high in all the other traits. “The likelihood that someone is a role model increases dramatically with age,” writes the team. More women than men are likely to be role models.

Then there’s everybody who isn’t you:

Self-Centered: Very extroverted, and below average in openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness. “These are people you don’t want to hang out with,” says Revelle. Both men and women become much less self-centered with age, as anybody who’s ever met children and teenagers, and other people, will have noticed.

And there you have it. “I like data, and I believe these results,” Revelle, a self-described skeptic at the onset, stated. “The methodology is the main part of the paper’s contribution to science.”
For dessert, here is another unexpected finding. To test the accuracy of the clusters, the researchers used a notoriously self-centered group – teenaged boys – to validate their information.

“We know teen boys behave in self-centered ways,” Amaral said. “If the data were correct and sifted for demographics, they would turn out to be the biggest cluster of people.”

Yup: Teen boys were overrepresented in the Self-Centered group. Teen girls over 15 were vastly underrepresented. Make of that what you will.


And the Expert is: Haaretz and Northwestern University team led by Luís Amaral of the McCormick School of Engineering reported Monday in Nature Human Behavior.

23 September 2018

The Sukkah is the Most Amazing Place in the World.

By Roy S. Neuberger

The sukkah is the most amazing place in the world. 

Why? Because it is not in this world. 

In the sukkah, the Reality of ruchnius is manifest. You are protected without any physical means of protection; you are elevated while you are seated on the earth; you seem alone, but you are surrounded by tzaddikim. The Arba Minim are also not from this world: these flimsy plants which we wave in six directions constitute a weapon of such towering strength that those who wield it are invincible. 

The mitzvos of Sukkos demonstrate the complete dominance of ruchnius. They demonstrate that “ain od milvado,”there is nothing else beside Hashem. Is this not the very essence of our Holy Nation? Do we not demonstrate by our very existence the complete mastery of the Ribono shel Olam over every aspect of creation? 

If secular logic ran the world, not a single Jew would exist today, and there would certainly be no Jew who lives according to the Torah. We are the nation whose remnant was scattered to “arba kanfos ha’aretz” some two thousand years ago. It seemed clear at that time that we could never retain our cohesive existence and adherence to the Laws given to our ancestors at Har Sinai

But no! Am Yisroel Chai, the Nation of Israel lives forever! The Yiddishe Neshoma cannot die; the flame cannot be extinguished. Amidst the destruction and tumah, the sukkah sits eternal and untouchable. From within its walls emanates a light which illuminates the entire world. 

I would like to tell you a story

Dr. Stephen Trokel is a world-famous ophthalmologist. Why is he famous? For one thing, he is a principal pioneer, inventor and innovator in laser vision correction. According to the “History of Optometric Surgery” from the Optometric Professional Network, “Dr. Trokel introduced Photorefractive keratectomy … He also patented the Excimer laser for vision correction and performed the first surgery on a patient’s eyes in 1987.” In addition, Dr. Trokel is a renowned specialist in thyroid-related eye disease. He is a physician, surgeon and professor at New York’s Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, who still practices medicine at the age of 83! It so happens that he has been my eye doctor for about forty years. 

Although Dr. Trokel’s parents were born in Europe, he grew up in America without the benefit of an observant home or yeshiva education. However, unlike so many contemporaries, and despite his tremendous success, he felt the darkness of a world which tries to forget its Creator. He built a sukkah inside his heart, from which an unquenchable light emanated. 

Several months ago I received a call from a distinguished Rav in Lakewood named Rabbi Aharon Zuckerman Shlita”h, who also happens to be a patient of Dr. Trokel. Rabbi Zuckerman told me how Dr. Trokel continually brought up questions in Yiddishkeit and was fond of discussing his recent trip to his father’s shtetl. Rabbi Zuckerman wondered whether we could work with Dr. Trokel to make up for the Torah which he had missed in his youth. 

From this conversation grew a most amazing event. Several weeks ago, we organized a small minyan in the Upper West Side of Manhattan at which Dr. Trokel put on tallis and tefillin and was called up to the Torah for his bar mitzvah, seventy years after his thirteenth birthday! Rabbi Zuckerman came in from Lakewood, and we had a seudahafterwards at which Dr. Trokel stated that he wanted it to be known that he was “born, lives and will die as a Jew.”He said something which made a big impact on me when he described what he called the “cold spot in the core of man without Hashem.” 

These are extremely graphic and powerful words. Here is a person at the pinnacle of the medical profession, a physician, a surgeon, an inventor and professor at one of the country’s most prestigious medical schools, but that was not enough. Dr. Trokel discovered that, at the core of the world, unless Hashem is invited in, there is only lifeless darkness, “tohu vavohu … astonishing emptiness.” (Beraishis 1:2) Dr. Trokel built a sukkah in his heart. He invited Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov Avinu to join him. The world of Sukkos exists only for those who know Hashem, and Dr. Trokel desired to know Hashem. 

At the seudah, I mentioned that soon we will read Parshas Beraishis, in which the world’s creation is described. What are literally the first words of Creation? “Let there be light … and Hashem saw that the light was good, and Hashem separated between light and darkness.” All creation begins with light. “[Light] is the elevated neshoma, whose light is immense because it is carved from under the Throne of Glory.” (Ohr Hachaim on Beraishis 1:3)

Dr. Trokel’s career is dedicated to bringing light to others. Thousands, perhaps millions, can see and see clearly because of him! I told this story to Rabbi Yechezkel Shraga Weinfeld Shlita”h, Rosh Kollel of Lev Avraham in Yerushalayim, who said, “He who brought light to others, Hashem brought light to him!”

And so, the year begins, a year which we all want to bring light into the world. Dr. Trokel has done it and we can do it. We can build a sukkah in our heart. 

“I will build a tabernacl​​e in my heart to glorify God's honor. And in the tabernacl​​e I will place an altar dedicated​ to His divine rays of splendor.​ For the eternal flame I will take upon myself the fire of the Akeida. And as a korban​ I will offer my soul, my unique soul.” 

(“Bilvovi,” based on a passage in Sefer Chareidim with well-known niggunim composed by Rabbis Yitzchok Hutner zt”l and Shmuel Brazil Shlita”h)

Cain, y’hi ratzon … may it be Hashem’s will!

The author with Dr. Stephen Trokel and Rabbi Aharon Zuckerman 
(Photo Credit: Tsemach Glenn/Ira Thomas)

*          *          *          *

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

© Copyright 2018 by Roy S. Neuberger

Flock of Goats Stolen from Avraham the Brooklyn Shepherd

Arabs Steal Flock of Goats from Israeli town in Samaria

Thief saw us and just went into shock’
"These are the goats of The Shepherd from Brooklyn"

Yom Kippur eve: Arabs steal flock from Israeli town in Samaria. Volunteers called despite fast, conduct searches, recover part of flock. arutzsheva After several hours of searching, at around 5:00 p.m., it was decided to terminate the search because of the impending fast.

"We found only ten goats, but the feeling was a return of the honor that's trampled again and again, to see Jews who didn't give up and went straight into villages where the foot of a Jew doesn't tread, and have become safe havens for robbers and terrorists," a volunteer told the HaKol Hayehudi.

Our Ancestors Were Shepherds on the Holy Land

Meandering from Brooklyn to Samaria, Avraham Herzlich shepherded a dynasty

He traded in a 12-cylinder Ferrari for a herding staff, returning to the land of Israel the way he says his ancestors would have done, encountering spiritual highs and tragic lows



New Sefer Torah Donated in Memory of Ari Fuld, HY”D

New Sefer Torah Donated in Memory of Ari Fuld, HY”D

The Rennert family donated a Sefer Torah in memory of Ari Fuld, HYD, on Saturday evening, Sept. 22, 2018. The event was held in the office of Rav Aharon Bina at Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh.

Natan Fuld, son of Ari Fuld HY"D, writes a letter 
in the Sefer Torah dedicated in Ari's memory.

Ari was a student of Rav Bina, and every Thursday night, for the past 15 years, Ari would come to the Yeshiva to learn, teach and sing.

Rav Bina found a nearly completed Sefer Torah and organized the donation in just a few short days. Altogether, the Rennert family donated 23 Sifrei Torah in the Yeshiva on Saturday night.

At the ceremony, members of the Fuld family and friends took turns writing the final letters in the Sefer Torah.

Two beautiful Torah covers were also made and written on them is the following inscription:

In memory of
The Hero HaRav Ari Yoel Fuld Hy”d
Son of Harav Yonah and Golda Chaya Mendel
Sanctified the name of the Almighty in his life
and in his death
“Behold a people that riseth up as a lioness,
and as a lion doth he lift himself up”

Article and photos from JEWISH PRESS

21 September 2018

“Reflections from Jerusalem”

Yom Kippur and Succot 5779
Rabbi Nachman Kahana

From my forthcoming book “Reflections from Jerusalem”

On Yom Kippur we read the heartbreaking saga of the “ten martyred rabbis”.
The Torah teaches that Joseph found his brothers in the Valley of Dotan not far from Shechem. After removing his many-colored cloak, the ten brothers involved in the betrayal lowered Joseph into a pit of snakes and scorpions, before selling him to the Ishmaelites and Midianites as it says, “Yosef followed his brothers and found them at Dotan” (Genesis 37:17).
The “Ten Martyrs” (rabbis cruelly murdered by the Romans), were divinely sentenced to death for the sin of Yosef having been sold 1500 years previously. We weep over the fate that befell these great men and the implications it had for the Jewish People. Yet HaShem’s ways are mysterious, and no one can fathom the thoughts of the Creator, whose gaze encompasses all generations from Adam to the last man on earth.
The Mufti of Yerushalayim spent the years of World War Two in Berlin, with his mentor Hitler. The two entered into an agreement: the Mufti would enroll thousands of Moslems from Bosnia and its related areas into the ranks of the SS. In return, the Germans, after conquering Palestine, would construct a major death camp where the Jews of the Middle East would be sent to their death.
In November 1942, General Rommel was defeated at the battle of El Alamein and the murderous plan was averted.
The site earmarked for the camp was the very same Valley of Dotan cited above.
The death of the Ten Martyrs was an atonement for the sale of Yosef. However, the Mufti and the Germans could never have known that the murder of the Ten Martyrs was sufficient to appease the demands of the quality of Strict Justice, and in our day 2000 years later, calamity was averted in the Valley of Dotan.
The composers of the Yom Kippur liturgy who included the saga of the martyred rabbis did so to teach us that a sin left unrepented is not forgiven even after two millennia. However, the composers could never have known the implications the martyrs’ death would have on the Jewish nation 2000 years later, when the sin was eradicated, and the death camp was not constructed in the Valley of Dotan.

Succot – An allegory

Reb Yisrael and his sons erected their sukkah adjacent to the kitchen door of their palatial home in one of the Five Towns, as they had done for many years in the past.
But this year was different. Reb Yisrael had just learned from his rabbi that one of the reasons for residing temporarily in a sukkah is in case one’s destiny was decided on Rosh HaShana to be expulsion into galut, the departure from the comforts of home into the sukkah could be considered to be that galut.
Reb Yisrael, his wife and children left the warm comforts of their beautiful home and entered the sukkah with the knowledge that by taking up temporary residence therein, they would be absolved of any galut-related sins.
As the family continued to reside in the sukkah, they got so used to the pleasant smell of the schach (branches used to roof the sukkah) and the pretty pictures on the walls and the overhanging decorations, that they decided to remain there even after the chag! Even though they were able to peer into their permanent home with its luxurious amenities, electrical gadgets, and state-of-the-art under-floor heating units, thick hanging drapes, lush carpets and much more, they showed no interest in returning there.
As odd as it may seem, the family became accustomed to the crowded, cold interior of the sukkah. Their relatives and neighbors tried to point out the irrationality of what they were doing, but the very idea that this was galut did little to encourage the family to return home.
When their rabbi came to visit, it was surprising that he encouraged them to remain in the sukkah rather than to return home; because it was in the sukkah that the family felt comfortable and closely knit.
In the meantime, several strangers noticed that the previously brightly-lit home was vacant, and they decided to move in as if it was indeed their own!
Reb Yisrael and his wife and children saw the strangers living in the house; but in veneration for the sukkah, they stubbornly bonded with the thin walls and dried-out schach and refused to leave.
The whole thing was so absurd. To leave such a beautiful home for the feeble, fallible construction of the sukkah, despite the fact that their beautiful home was beckoning them to return, was beyond the understanding of any rational person.
Then came the stones thrown by the local anti-Semites who wanted to rid the neighborhood of this sukkah eyesore. Reb Yisrael and his family dodged them one by one and steadfastly remained in their fragile dwelling, rationalizing these acts as irrelevant nuisances.
Then came the terrible night when one-third of the sukkah was torched by the local bullies.
Reb Yisrael and his family were aware of what was happening, but their minds had become so warped that no amount of reasoning could move them.
To them the sukkah was home and their home was galut.
Eventually the sukkah came crashing down, killing Reb Yisrael and his entire family in their beloved galut!

Shabbat Shalom,
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5779/2018 Nachman Kahana

20 September 2018


Parashas HaAzinu
by Rabbi Pinchas Winston Shlit”a

You grew fat—thick and covered with fat. 
As a result, they abandoned G–D Who made them, 
and mocked the Rock of their redemption. 
(Devarim 32:15)

COMPLACENCY IS SPIRITUALLY dangerous! We were warned about it back in Parashas VaEschanan, and we are reminded of it here once again, in this week’s parsha. We want the good, but we have a difficult time balancing it out with our spiritual responsibilities. As the Talmud says, “Few people eat from two tables.” Materialism and spirituality USUALLY, to a large degree, come at the cost of one another.

It’s simple. Just watch the way someone prays to G–D when he is financially hurting, and someone else who is financially comfortable. The distraught person pours their heart out to G–D, but the complacent one tends to use prayer as a way to just “check in” three times a day.

In this world every blessing seems to also come with a curse, and vice-versa. Wealth is great, but it can lead to spiritual corruption. Health is wonderful, but it can make a person forget to thank G–D for it. Family and friends greatly enhance the quality of a person’s life, but can also take a person away from other important matters, or result in additional burdens.

The Talmud says that Torah comes out of the mouths of the poor. Every form of suffering tends to increase spiritual sensitivity, not necessarily in everyone, but in a lot of people. It is easier to sympathize with others, or empathize with them. It’s very hard to relate to other people’s problems if they have never been yours as well.

For a person who does not believe in G–D or the Afterlife, it’s no big deal. They don’t care what other people are going through so long as they don’t have to go through it themselves. As far as they are concerned life is random, and it just happened to pick them to succeed. Luck of the draw, and they have no one to thank for their success.

If you believe in G–D and eternal reward, then SPIRITUAL SENSITIVITY should be the most value commodity in the universe. It’s a reliable mentor. It’s an honorable companion. It’s the truest friend a person can ever know, or need. It not only helps a person to DO the right thing, but it helps them to figure it out when it is not so clear what it is. It’s a beacon by which to steer through the spiritual storm of life, and the sturdy ship on which to survive it.

Since spiritual sensitivity is so crucial to remaining connected to G–D and acting G–Dly, it is the mortal enemy of Amalek. This is why Amalek cut off the Bris Milah of the Jews he killed in battle, and then threw it Heavenward. It wasn’t just the Jew he wanted to kill. It was that which he brought to the world and “imposed” upon mankind, CONSCIENCE being the most reviled of all.

This makes the battle for life the battle for spiritual sensitivity. When you hit your chest on Yom Kippur during Viduy, the Confessional Prayer, you were actually saying, “Sorry G–D for not being spiritually sensitive enough to avoid that sin, and that sin, and that sin, etc. Thanks to Yom Kippur, I AM spiritually sensitive enough to know it was a grave mistake, and I hope to fix that in the upcoming year, b”H.”

This is why Succos comes on the heels of Yom Kippur. So much fun after such a serious day of teshuvah and kaparah? Who doesn’t enjoy going out into the succah for a week and waving the Four Species in shul each day? Who doesn’t look forward to all the dancing on Simchas Torah? 

Well, you certainly SHOULD look forward to it . . . if you’re spiritually sensitive, and want to remain that way the rest of the year. Let’s face it, living in the succah for a week and eating out there is a BIG inconvenience. It’s much easier to seat and serve everyone in the house.

It’s interesting that people willingly take on the same inconveniences when they go camping. When asked why they love it so much, they often talk about being reconnected to Nature, etc. But though they may not recognize it as a spiritual experience, or want to call it that, in the end, that is what they are having. They’re connecting to G–D, on some sublime level, even the Atheist who loves the “Great Outdoors.”

During Succos, I don’t stop loving my dining room table, I just start loving G–D more. I don’t stop enjoying my own bed. I just start enjoying being out there with G–D more. It started in Elul, kicked into gear during Rosh Hashanah, and reached a climax during Yom Kippur, and the entire journey has been one of increased sensitivity. It was bolstered by the constant shofar blowing. Succos is the time to ENJOY all that built-up and enhanced spiritual sensitivity. 

One of the rearrangements of the word “Amalek” is Ayin-Mem-Lamed, and Kuf. “Kof” is Hebrew for “monkey,” and the two parts translate as, “Work of the Monkey.” Because, for all their “humanness,” monkeys are still animals living as animals do. Amalek says, for all our animalness, let’s live like one, which is easy to do if you are spiritually desensitized. 

What a curse! There are a lot of things in life that we enjoy, but which secretly kill us. There is a reason why it takes discipline to eat properly, and to exercise regularly. It’s just so much more fun to eat what you want and be a couch potato. Until that is it brings a person to death’s door.

And that’s what Amalek does, SPIRITUALLY. He feeds you what tastes good, gives you strong drink to wash it down, and helps you make merry. He doesn’t tell you that he is secretly killing you spiritually. You need Yom Kippur for that, or the final Day of Judgment. 

“This is the Blessing,” which is the name of the last parsha of the Torah. What is the blessing? Spiritual sensitivity, because with it, you can become personally fulfilled and a partner with G–D in the perfection of Creation as well as your own. 

Have a “Hug” Samayach by embracing spirituality.

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