A very young man or teen the son of my friend from the Yeshuv has colon cancer: Zvi Moshe ben Miriam Rachel please add him to the prayer list.
Shlomo Zalman ben Rivka passed away.
This week’s Parsha – Yisro should be a joyous one for everybody with the establishment of a court hierarchy and the giving of the Torah but for me it is always the Parsha around the time of the passing of my father Felix ben Yitzchak Pauli on Chaf Gimmel Shvat. I thereby dedicate this Issue to his memory.
Error – Last week out of my usual learning of Shulchan Aruch with Rabbi Mimran I wrote Orech Chaim which is the path of a practical life. The commentary is Ohr HaChaim who was a holy Rabbi (see story below)
Beshalach Part 2
13: 20 And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness. 21 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; that they might go by day and by night: 22 the pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night, departed not from before the people.
HASHEM’s plan vs. Pharaoh’s thoughts: At first it looks like the people are going out in the wilderness three days. Anyone who views the map sees the Bnei Yisrael leaving in one direction and then doubling back but further away in the next direction. That is of course based on standard interpretation. The recently has been archeological evidence of chariot wheels in a very narrow and not deep channel of the Red Sea between Sinai and Saudi with pillars on the Saudi-Side. It could very well be that the sea was lower in those days with more ice in glaciers and an earthquake and strong wind would make the sea part. That is going away from tradition and one must always take the tradition into account. The only problem is that on the traditional site there are no chariots and chariot wheels found at the bottom of the sea. This would make an escape route more directly north east from Goshen towards Neueva (between Sharm-el-sheik and Eilat.
Now Pharaoh’s plan was to give the Bnei Yisrael off three days for sacrifice and three days to return. Upon seeing that they have fled either by the traditional route or the other route, he amassed an army to bring back his cheap slave labor.
Coming out a week later I had a chance to pick up the Drasha of Rabbi Yosef Y. Serbeyanski Shlita: Creating a new system that does not harbor any of the corruption present in society or individuals is a daunting, if not impossible, task. People are yearning for change. When a new a system is in any way reminiscent of the former system, it is easy to slip back into old habits. A shift needs to take place that brings about the demise of the old ways. This is not easy an easy task as the system one replaces generally is of some value. It is necessary to cause a shift that result in the cessation of those things that would cause reversion to the destructive traits of the old system.
(Exodus 13:17) “And it was when “pharaoh” (the power that strangles people) sent out the people, and ELOKIM (a power of boundaries) did not let them go out the way (direction) of the plishtim (those who lived without proper boundaries) because it was close (and might bring them back to their past issues in life).”
The systems we need have existed in the past. Some of their components still exist here at the present time. However, they have been hidden away by controlling people who fear seeing the truth exposed. Those people, who are in positions of power, constantly attempt to crush any voice of opposition.
Before the world degenerates to the point of where our society is completely destroyed, we must work together to evoke the power that can reverse that flow. Each individual’s “gift” and talents will add to the groups’ surge. By working in unison, they will be able to triumph over the opposition. Yet, this can only begin if we each open the door to the resurfacing of our individuality. Doing so will allow those who are connected for such purpose to emerge on the scene and make a definitive difference.
Understanding the vast problems that we encounter today can be depressing. Endeavoring to create a new system requires as much wisdom as it does heart. We must have a broad perspective of limitations and their effects; a comprehension of balances and imbalances, as well as an overall relationship to, and understanding of, movement, physical and spiritual, energy and emotion.
A comprehensive combination as described above will allow for movement to occur that can create the base for expansion minus the fears that have plagued society. This planet was designed with adequate resources to provide enough land, food and water for everyone. We need to restore the planet in order to insure that each person has his/her own resources and place that cannot be taken away from them. It is an issue of personal space – not ownership for profit.
We must take the lessons of the history of life on this planet with us as we move beyond our present situation. Each person must be prepared to actively resist those who attempt to control things in accordance with the old system of power. People who are not able to accept and adjust to a system based in truth will die out, never having experienced ultimate freedom.
At some point a central figure may appear to guide us to the future. The occurrence of certain drastic events will be the impetus for people to react to that person and to push their existing leaders to recognize truth and make proper changes.
We are preparing the groundwork for the future. Working together we can practice the principles of pure love within society’s boundaries. It allows individuals the right to grow and express themselves openly without fear of judgment. Once the fear is erased more of mankind will learn to go with the natural flow of nature, enabling us to come together as one.
Change can be made if it is positive and helps the people and education is there. Unfortunately it took 40 years of education to produce a free thinking nation.
Now the nation left armed and Rashi comments: armed: Heb. חִמֻשִׁים וַחִמֻשִׁים [in this context] can only mean “armed.” (Since He led them around in the desert [circuitously], He caused them to go up armed, for if He had led them around through civilization, they would not have [had to] provide for themselves with everything that they needed, but only [part,] like a person who travels from place to place and intends to purchase there whatever he will need. But if he travels a long distance into a desert, he must prepare all his necessities for himself. This verse was written only to clarify the matter, so you should not wonder where they got weapons in the war with Amalek and in the wars with Sihon and Og and Midian, for the Israelites smote them with the point of the sword.) [In an old Rashi]) And similarly [Scripture] says: “and you shall cross over armed (חִמֻשִׁים)” (Josh. 1:14). And so too Onkelos rendered מְזָרְזִין just as he rendered: “and he armed (וְזָרֵיז) his trained men” (Gen. 14:14). Another interpretation: חִמֻשִׁים means “divided by five,” [meaning] that one out of five (חִמִֹשָה) [Israelites] went out, and four fifths [lit., parts of the people] died during the three days of darkness [see Rashi on Exod. 10:22]. — [from Mechilta, Tanchuma, Beshalach 1]
14:1 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 2 'Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn back and encamp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, before Baal-zephon, over against it shall ye encamp by the sea.
A bewildering command based on faith alone for the natural tendency of a slave is to flee the master and run or 600,000 free men against 600 chariots to fight by sheer numbers. Instead of the slaves fleeing, they are told to turn back!
3 And Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel: They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in.
A great strategy to be trapped between the mountains and the sea and Pharaoh coming in from the other side so militarily, it is the biggest strategical blunder that one can imagine.
4 And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he shall follow after them; and I will get Me honor upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.' And they did so.
For a man it is a strategical blunder but not for the L-RD to avenge HIMSELF on Pharaoh.
5 And it was told the king of Egypt that the people were fled; and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned towards the people, and they said: 'What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?
Please remember that there is no early or late in the Torah this action appears to be simultaneous with the movements of the Bnei Yisrael.
6 And he made ready his chariots, and took his people with him. 7 And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of
This was the equivalent to perhaps thousands of tanks in modern warfare terms. It was a massive mobile force for 3300 years ago.
8 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh King of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel; for the children of Israel went out with a high hand.
Pharaoh was still a god to the Egyptians and he was a threat in the mindset of the Bnei Yisrael. He was therefore being lured in to total and absolute defeat. The answer is in Pasuk 13 below: 'Fear ye not, standstill, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will work for you to-day; for whereas ye have seen the Egyptians to-day, ye shall see them again no more forever. RECENT MIRACLE ALERT: It has to take the greatest of all prophets to calm down the nation. If you think that many of us are not worried about what the Iranians, Syrians and their surrogates can throw at us you are mistaken. Our Sages tell us do not rely upon miracles but we really have nothing else to rely on. The only thing we have to go on is 10,000 or more missiles and mortars hurled at the Negev with very few casualties and the same with the 4000 missiles and exploding bombs with screws in population centers in the north. The rockets attacked the Arab, Druze, Bedouin, Christian and Jewish settlements indiscriminately but we get blamed for war crimes by the UN biased report. For as the Gemara in Sotah 49B writes “We have no one to trust but our father in heaven.”
9 And the Egyptians pursued after them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army, and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.
Pharaoh is now rubbing his hands together shouting “Got you trapped now back to the Pyramids”,
10 And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians were marching after them; and they were sore afraid; and the children of Israel cried out unto the LORD.
600 Chariots and some foot soldiers and task masters all coming at once a formable force. (See below for Egypt’s arms request from the USA)
11 And they said unto Moses: 'Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? Wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to bring us forth out of
This is the mental thoughts of a weak people without real faith and trust in HASHEM. Miracles as I wrote can strengthen a person’s resolve if he is a believer it is something that goes in one ear and out the other of the non-believer.
12 Is not this the word that we spoke unto thee in Egypt, saying: Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it were better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.' 13 And Moses said unto the people: 'Fear ye not, standstill, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will work for you to-day; for whereas ye have seen the Egyptians to-day, ye shall see them again no more forever. 14 The LORD will fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.'
15 And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Wherefore do you cry unto Me? speak unto the children of
Why do you cry out to Me: [This verse] teaches us that Moses was standing and praying. The Holy One, blessed be He, said to him, “This is no time to pray at length, when Israel is in distress.” Another explanation [of God’s question (Why do you cry out to me?) implies]: “The matter depends on Me and not on you,” as it is said further [in Scripture]: “Concerning My children and the work of My hands do you command Me?” (Isa. 45:11). — [from Mechilta, Exod. Rabbah 21:8] Speak to the children of Israel and let them travel: They have nothing to do but to travel, for the sea will not stand in their way. The merit of their forefathers and their own [merit], and the faith they had in Me when they came out [of Egypt] are sufficient to split the sea for them. — [from Mechilta, Exod. Rabbah 21:8]
16 And lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thy hand over the sea, and divide it; and the children of Israel shall go into the midst of the sea on dry ground. 17 And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall go in after them; and I will get Me honor upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen. 18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten Me honor upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.' 19 And the angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud removed from before them, and stood behind them;
and the pillar of cloud moved away: When it became dark, and the pillar of cloud delivered the camp to the pillar of fire, the cloud did not go away as it would customarily go away completely in the evening, but it moved away and went behind them [the Israelites] to make it dark for the Egyptians.
20 and it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel; and there was the cloud and the darkness here, yet gave it light by night there; and the one came not near the other all the night. 21 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all the night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 And the children of
It came about in the morning watch: Heb. בְּאַֹשְמֹרֶת. The three parts of the night are called, אַשְׁמוּרוּת, watches (Ber. 3b), and the one [watch] before morning is called אַשְׁמֹרֶתהַבֹּקֶר, the morning watch. I say that because the night is divided into the watches of the songs of the ministering angels, one group after another into three parts, it is called אַשְׁמֹרֶת, watch. This is what Onkelos [means when he] renders מַטְּרַת.looked down: Heb. וַיַּשְׁקֵף, looked, that is to say that He turned toward them to destroy them, and the Targum [Onkelos] renders: וְאִסְךְתְּכֵי. This too is an expression of looking, like “to the field of seers” (Num. 23:14), [which Onkelos renders:] לַחִקַל סָכוּתָא through a pillar of fire and cloud: The pillar of cloud descends and makes it [the earth] like mud, and the pillar of fire boils it [the earth], and the hoofs of their horses slip. — [from Mechilta] and He threw the Egyptian camp into confusion: Heb. וַיָּהָם, an expression of confusion, estordison in Old French. He confused them; He took away their intelligence. We learned in the chapters of Rabbi Eliezer the son of Rabbi Yose the Galilean [not found in our edition] [that] wherever it says מְהוּמָה [confusion], it means a tumultuous noise. And the “father” of them all, [the best example of the use of מְהוּמָה, is [in the verse:] “and the Lord thundered with a loud noise, etc., on the Philistines and threw them into confusion (וַיְהוּמֵּם)” (I Sam. 7:10).
25 And He took off their chariot wheels, and made them to drive heavily; so that the Egyptians said: 'Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians.'
And He removed the wheels of their chariots: With the fire the wheels were burned, and the chariots dragged, and those sitting in them were moved to and fro, and their limbs were wrenched apart. — [from an unknown source, similar to Mechilta] and He led them with heaviness: In a manner that was heavy and difficult for them. [This punishment was] in the measure that they [the Egyptians had] measured [to the Israelites], namely “and he made his heart heavy, he and his servants” (Exod. 9:34). Here too, “He led them with heaviness.” -[from an unknown source, similar to Mechilta] is fighting for them against the Egyptians: Heb. בְּמִצְרָיִם, [is like] against the Egyptians. Alternatively: בְּמִצְרָיִם [means] in the land of Egypt, for just as these [Egyptians] were being smitten in the sea, so were those remaining in Egypt being smitten. — [from Mechilta]
The Archeologists have found this evidence in the Red Sea in a narrow and shallow part. However, by the Torah calling this area Yam Soof or the sea of reeds we go back to the traditional way.
26 And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Stretch out thy hand over the sea, that the waters may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.' 27 And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.
It does not matter if all the geologists will say that this is caused by an earthquake or the G-D fearing Jew - Velokovsky says it was caused by a planetary body pulling on the sea the whole miracle was a matter of timing that the Bnei Yisrael cross the water and the Egyptians in hot pursuit drown in the water moments later.
28 And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, even all the host of Pharaoh that went in after them into the sea; there remained not so much as one of them.
and covered the chariots…the entire force of Pharaoh: Heb. לְכֹל חֵיל פַּרְעֹה So is the custom of Scriptural verses to write a superfluous “lammed,” such as in “all (לְכָל) its utensils you shall make copper” (Exod. 27:3); and similarly, “all (לְכֹל) the utensils of the Tabernacle for all its services” (Exod. 27:19); [and in the phrase] “their stakes and their ropes, along with all (לְכָל) their utensils” (Num. 4:32), and it [the “lammed”] is [used] merely to enhance the language.
29 But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. 30 Thus the LORD saved
and Israel saw the Egyptians dying on the seashore: For the sea spewed them out on its shore, so that the Israelites would not say, "Just as we are coming up on this side [of the sea], so are they coming up on another side, far from us, and they will pursue us."-[from Mechilta and Pes. 118b]
31 And Israel saw the great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians, and the people feared the LORD; and they believed in the LORD, and in His servant Moses.
The great hand: The great mighty deed that the hand of the Holy One, blessed be He, had performed. Many meanings fit the term יָד, and they are all expressions derived from an actual hand, and he who interprets it must adjust the wording according to the context.
Finally the Bnei Yisrael fully comprehend what HASHEM has done for them. It took 10 plagues plus the splitting of the sea to get them to be Frum for a few minutes! This is how things go often with atheistic and former Soviet Jews who were taught nothing or the opposition to religion from birth.
15:1 Then sang Moses and the children of
20 And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.
Miriam, the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took: When did she prophesy? When she was [known only as] “Aaron’s sister,” before Moses was born, she said, “My mother is destined to bear a son” [who will save Israel], as is found in Sotah 12b, 13a). Another explanation: [It is written] Aaron’s sister since he [Aaron] risked his life for her when she was afflicted with zara’ath; [thus] she is called by his name (Mechilta). a timbrel: Heb. הַךְתֹּף, a type of musical instrument. with timbrels and with dances: The righteous women of that generation were [so] certain that the Holy One, blessed be He, would perform miracles for them, they took timbrels out of Egypt. — [from Mechilta]
21 And Miriam sang unto them: Sing ye to the LORD, for He is highly exalted: the horse and his rider hath He thrown into the sea.
Breaking with the traditional crossing which I mentioned last week, we have the unconventional archeological evidence crossing point from southern Sinai by the Red Sea into Saudi Arabia and then they would go up to Eilat and then come down. The traditional way makes travel easier and a shorter distance for two million people so the traditional crossing point makes life easier but the real spot we will only know when the Moshiach comes for in the course of thousands of years of exile our tradition is truly lost.
Now comes the murmuring and complaining as nothing that one does is ever enough. First it is water, then it is bread then it is meat but the third complaint was out of gluttony and people therefore died off.
22 And Moses led Israel onward from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water. 23 And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah. 24 And the people murmured against Moses, saying: 'What shall we drink?' 25 And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD showed him a tree, and he cast it into the waters, and the waters were made sweet. There He made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there He proved them; 26 and He said: 'If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in His eyes, and wilt give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases upon thee, which I have put upon the Egyptians; for I am the LORD that heals thee.' 27 And they came to Elim, where were twelve springs of water, and three score and ten palm-trees; and they encamped there by the waters.
16:1 And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt. 2 And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron in the wilderness; 3 and the children of Israel said unto them: 'Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh-pots, when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger… Your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD.' 9 And Moses said unto Aaron: 'Say unto all the congregation of the children of Israel: Come near before the LORD; for He hath heard your murmurings.' 10 And it came to pass, as Aaron spoke unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.
Help me G-D these people are ungrateful.
11 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 12 'I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel. Speak unto them, saying: At dusk ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God.' 13 And it came to pass at even, that the quails came up, and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew round about the camp. 14 And when the layer of dew was gone up, behold upon the face of the wilderness a fine, scale-like thing, fine as the hoar-frost on the ground. 15 And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another: 'What is it?'--for they knew not what it was. And Moses said unto them: 'It is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat. 16 This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded: Gather ye of it every man according to his eating; an Omer a head, according to the number of your persons, shall ye take it, every man for them that are in his tent.' 17 And the children of Israel did so, and gathered some more, some less. …
8 Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.
Amalek came, etc.: He [God] juxtaposed this section to this verse, ["Is the Lord in our midst or not? "] implying: “I am always among you, and [I am] always prepared for all your necessities, but you say, Is the Lord in our midst or not?’ By your life, the dog will come and bite you, and you will cry out to Me, and [then] you will know where I am ” This can be compared to a man who mounted his son on his shoulder and set out on the road. Whenever his son saw something, he would say, “Father, take that thing and give it to me,” and he [the father] would give it to him. They met a man, and the son said to him, “Have you seen my father?” So his father said to him, “You don’t know where I am?” He threw him [his son] down off him, and a dog came and bit him [the son]. — [from Tanchuma, Yisro 3; Exod. Rabbah 26:2]
Raphouy means lose or weak in Hebrew. Rephidim signifies weakness in belief in G-D on the part of the Bnei Yisrael and this is why Amalek could come.
9 And Moses said unto Joshua: 'Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek; tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.' 10 So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. 13 And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. 14 And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Write this for a memorial in the book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.' 15 And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Adonai-nissi. 16 And he said: 'The hand upon the throne of the LORD: the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.'
This is one of the remembrances that we are commanded from the Torah and we are forbidden to forget it too.
18:1 Now Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses' father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses, and for Israel His people, how that the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt.
We make so many choices every day, some conscious, some not so conscious. But, each one has a consequence, some big, some small, some very noticeable, some not so noticeable.
But, the amazing thing is how certain choices can take years to play themselves out, and by the time they do, we may have forgotten that they were even the reason for what happened much later on in our lives. And that is a shame, because the most important lesson in life is the cause-and-effect relationship of the choices we make throughout the course of our lives.
Yisro had come a long way. The choice to send his daughters back in search of the Egyptian who had tended to their flocks, and to bring him home to offer him some Midianite hospitality, had paid off well. When he found Moshe Rabbeinu at that time, the latter was a fugitive from Egyptian law, on the run to avoid being caught and killed. But, Yisro gave him his daughter Tzipporah as a wife just the same, and as a result, he was now, de facto, the father-in-law of the king of the most powerful nation on the face of the earth at that time.
However, as the Midrash explains, the story did not begin there for Yisro. There had been a previous choice, one that had involved even greater self-sacrifice, and it was the one that put Yisro in the position to become Moshe Rabbeinu's father-in-law in the first place:
That is what Rebbe Chiya bar Abba said in Rebbe Simai's name: Three were involved in that scheme: Bilaam, Iyov, and Yisro. Bilaam, who advised it, was slain; Iyov, who was silent, was punished through suffering; Yisro, who fled-his descendants were privileged to sit in the Hall of Hewn Stones. (Sanhedrin 106a)
The scheme being referred to, of course, was the drowning of the Jewish male children by the Egyptians. Apparently, Pharaoh, unsure of how to proceed with his oppression of the Jewish people in order to thwart any effort at redemption, had consulted three famous personalities of his time: Bilaam, Iyov, and Yisro. Bilaam supported the plan, Yisro opposed it, while Iyov took the Fifth.
The rest is history, as they say. Bilaam got his just desserts later on in Parashas Matos, while Iyov has an entire book written about his suffering, measure-for-measure. But, what about Yisro in the end? How did he fare in all of this?
Well, to begin with, he has an entire section written about him, next to the one in which the Torah is actually given. Not bad. But, even better than that, as the Talmud points out above, his descendants were part of the Sanhedrin. Even better. And, best of all, he was the father-in-law of Moshe Rabbeinu in this world, and will be a king himself in the next one forever, whereas Bilaam and Iyov did not fare as well.
Free choice is a powerful tool, and it is amazing how just one choice can save a person's life.
For example, on the morning of the attack on the Twin Towers in 2001, an astute businessman had noticed how in the boarding area, a bunch of Arabs had been talking, even arguing amongst one another, and how, after they boarded the plane, they sat in different rows and pretended not to know each other. He pointed out his observation to the stewardess, who promptly dismissed the possibility of foul play, and asked the man to take his seat.
However, the man, apparently, was not satisfied with the plane attendants laissez faire attitude, and instead of taking his seat, he turned around and left the plane. "Well, I'm not flying if you're not going to do anything about it," he told the stewardess as he deplaned. A couple of hours later, he watched in horror as the plane he had chosen not to take became a weapon in the hands of Arab terrorists.
Perhaps that is really the reason why the giving of Torah is in a Parsha associated with Yisro. After all, the entire Torah can be summed up with one phrase:
I call Heaven and earth today to witness that I have placed before you life and death, blessing and curse; choose life so that you and your seed shall live. (Devarim 30:19)
We can assume that the Torah is not talking about avoiding physical suicide, for there are other verses that deal with that issue, and most people do not need a warning not to do that anyhow. Rather, the Torah is talking about spiritual suicide, something that is far more difficult to avoid because most people don't even know that they are in the process of carrying it out. As far as they are concerned, they are just "living life to the fullest."
When I was young, my mother insisted that I learn how to play piano. However, I insisted that I play road hockey with my friends. She paid for the lessons while I skipped them and played road hockey instead, until my piano teacher called to say, "Mrs. Winston, I just can't take your money anymore because your son never shows up!" And that was that.
Now, some 40 years later, I am pained by the fact that I cannot play piano, or any other musical instrument for that matter. I am compelled, at times, to pick up a guitar or to bang at someone's piano keys, convinced that the music welling up inside of me will somehow find expression through my effort, but to no avail. I don't have a lot of regrets in life, but that is certainly one of them.
There are people who have walked away from potential spouses only to regret it deeply later, or those who should have but did not, only to get divorced, or to yearn for one for years to come. And, how many times do overweight people look at themselves in the mirror and ask themselves, "Whatever it was that I ate to make me look this way, could it really have been that worth it? It is long gone, but its memory is almost impossible to erase!"
And, then there are the decisions that we almost didn't make, and had we not, we would have missed out on something very important. "Boy, it's a good think I decided to so-and-so. Had I not, I would have missed so-and-so!" Some people just happen to catch their flight because, uncharacteristically, they went to the airport early. Apparently, the airlines were unable to reach them to tell them that their flight had moved up, and they just happened to make it in time.
Just good luck? No, Hashgochah Pratis GLOSSARY Hashgochah Pratis means DIVINE help/guidance. Though it is true, reward and punishment is basically reserved for the next world, Divine Providence often makes life work out for the good, or the bad, based upon our decisions. A good decision is a moral decision, regardless of the success it brings one in life. But, sometimes Heaven likes to "reward" a good decision with a good result, in order to encourage us to make more of them.
The true reward for good decisions, of course, is in the World-to-Come, just as the true punishment for bad decisions is later on, in Gehennom (if we don't do Tshuvah for them now). But, good decisions can have a rewarding effect in this world just as bad decisions can have a punishing effect in this world, sometimes in our lifetime, sometimes in the lifetime of generations to come.
Indeed, how many people make a decision with their future children and grandchildren in mind? A couple might choose a place to live that works for them but not their children, giving them an entirely negative experience that makes them reject that which their parents cherish. "If only we had done this, or that differently, our child might not have done X or Y."
Well, yes and no. When Yosef was told by his brothers that their father had instructed them to tell him not to take revenge after Ya'akov Avinu died, he knew they were lying. He knew that their fear of reprisal had compelled them to fabricate such an untruth since he knew that his father, Ya'akov, would never have suspected him of even thinking of revenge, not while he was still alive and not after he died either.
So, he told his brothers:
"Don't be afraid. Am I in place of God? You decided to do evil to me, but God decided it should be for the good, in order to achieve what has occurred, to keep a large contingent alive." (Beresheis 50:19-20)
In other words, our decisions cannot harm anyone who is not meant to be harmed, just as they can't spare someone who is not meant to be spared. All they can do, which is really everything, is prevent us from being the perpetrator of bad to other people. Mr. A. may have had it coming to him, but not necessarily from me, unless my decision made me the perfect candidate to carry it out.
So, therefore, a person could argue, why should we be held accountable for the damage we do to others? "Because," God explains, "when you do something good or bad, I look at it as if had you not, then the good or bad would not have occurred to the recipient. I reward you as if you caused it to happen, and likewise, punish you as if it would not have occurred had you not acted as you did."
This is how we take control of our own lives. This is how we play a role in shaping our future, including the people we affect and how they affect us. A person has to ask, "If I am not conscious of my decisions, then what kind of decisions do I really make? If they are flawed, will God not arrange my life so that the flaws will show up, and create crises? But, if I make an effort to make good, moral decisions, will God not arrange it that good, moral things happen for me?"
The answer is yes, and the earlier you start, the more likely it will be true. The cleverer you are about the decisions you make in life, the "cleverer" you Hashgochah Pratis will be, like in the case of the man who left Hamburg, Germany for America in 1938, leaving behind his financial empire at a moment's notice, all because he saw the direction Nazi Germany was going at the time. He survived the war with his wife and children, but the friends and family he left behind did not.
Ultimately, that is what Torah is all about. Torah forces the issue, and makes a person decide who they are and where they are going in life. The same is true about Eretz Yisroel, which forces a Jew to have to decide how much they are prepared to sacrifice to be closer to God, and how much they are not prepared to sacrifice to be in the place of the Shechina.
To each choice, a person may say, "No thank you, it is not for me." It's only eight words. However, it is eight words that can make all the difference for eternity, to us, and to all the generations that follow us. Bilaam was destroyed. Iyov suffered greatly. But for Yisro, who made a great decision, the sky was the limit. What about us?
Text Copyright © 2010 by Rabbi Pinchas Winston and Torah.org. The Torah Organization and Project Genesis distributes information to the public via the net with weekly Parsha Shuirim. I have changed the spelling in some cases to coincide with my own Hebrewization.
2 And Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, took Zipporah, Moses' wife, after he had sent her away, 3 and her two sons; of whom the name of the one was Gershom; for he said: 'I have been a stranger in a strange land'; 4 and the name of the other was Eliezer: 'for the God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh.' 5 And Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife unto Moses into the wilderness where he was encamped, at the mount of God; --- 10 And Jethro said: 'Blessed be the LORD, who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh; who hath delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods; yea, for that they dealt proudly against them.' 12 And Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, took a burnt-offering and sacrifices for God; and Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Moses' father-in-law before God. 13 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people; and the people stood about Moses from the morning unto the evening. 14 And when Moses' father-in-law saw all that he did to the people, he said: 'What is this thing that thou doest to the people? Why do you sit alone by yourself, and all the people stand about thee from morning unto even?' 15 And Moses said unto his father-in-law: 'Because the people come unto me to inquire of God; 16 when they have a matter, it cometh unto me; and I judge between a man and his neighbor, and I make them know the statutes of God, and His laws.' 17 And Moses' father-in-law said unto him: 'The thing that thou doest is not good.
I have in past years discussed this. Yisro basically set up a system where the common man could go. They would go before Talmidei Chachamim for advice. Of course the leaders of 10 would be the younger Avrechim with perhaps ten years of learning under their belt and those of 50 with more experience until those of a 100 was already a Rabbi of a larger congregation and from them 10th could be a leader of thousands and ten thousands. When we got to larger numbers the person would be a big Ruv and perhaps the Godelei HaDor (like Moshe a leader of the generation). The main reason why I went to become a Rabbi much short of my original learning goal was the fact that tens of people would ask me questions on Torah that they would not ask the Rav of the City or the Rabbinute. Most of the questions were not hard and some of the harder ones, I became an intermediary between the Rabbi and the common folk. This is exactly what happened with the leaders of 10, 50 and perhaps even 100. There came a point where one had to become qualified to actually teach and perhaps judge.
18 Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee; for the thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe at first would take care of each and every Chassid and Baal Tshuvah. After a while the burden got too big and the Rebbe appointed secretaries to filter out the questions and perhaps supply answer. Sort of like a pre-computer age FAQ. For each FAQ was generally a Rebbe answer unless the case was individual and special. The Rebbe sent out to most States in the Union except MS.
19 Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God be with thee: be thou for the people before God, and bring thou the causes unto God. 20 And thou shalt teach them the statutes and the laws, and shalt show them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do. 21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating unjust gain; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. 22 And let them judge the people at all seasons; and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge themselves; so shall they make it easier for thee and bear the burden with thee. 23 If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people also shall go to their place in peace.' 24 So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father-in-law, and did all that he had said. 25 And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. 26 And they judged the people at all seasons: the hard causes they brought unto Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves. 27 And Moses let his father-in-law depart; and he went his way into his own land.
19:1 In the third month after the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai. Rabbi Meir Kahane HY”D wrote in 1971, a very important lesson based on this parsha, which pertains to the proper action to anti Jewish attacks. "We are told that when the L-rd desired to give the Torah to the Jewish people, instead of choosing some lofty and majestic mountain, He selected Sinai, a small, humble little mount barely more than a hill. His purpose in the symbolic act was to show that man must turn his back on overbearing pride, must reject a false ego. It is related in the name of the Gerer Rebbe: G-d’s intentions are indeed laudable. Yet, if He intended to show that man must not be a mountain and must turn down false pride, why was the Torah not given in a valley? The answer is clear, the answer is bold. It is not enough to reject overbearing pride. Too much humbleness is, itself, wrong. Man should, man must possess some pride in his being – otherwise he is not a man. – from Ish Yehudi Chazak.
2 And when they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the wilderness of Sinai, they encamped in the wilderness; and there Israel encamped before the mount. 3 And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying: 'Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel:
A year or two ago, I brought down the Talmud Bavli 88 describing in detail the goings up and down of Moshe and perhaps in the future I shall repeat that.
4 Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto Myself. … 16 And it came to pass on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of a horn exceeding loud; and all the people that were in the camp trembled. 17 And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. 18 Now mount Sinai was altogether on smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire; and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. 19 And when the voice of the horn waxed louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by a voice. 20 And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, to the top of the mount; and the LORD called Moses to the top of the mount; and Moses went up. 21 And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish. 22 And let the priests also, that come near to the LORD, sanctify themselves, lest the LORD break forth upon them.' 23 And Moses said unto the LORD: 'The people cannot come up to mount Sinai; for thou didst charge us, saying: Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it.' 24 And the LORD said unto him: 'Go, get thee down and you shall come up, thou, and Aaron with thee; but let not the priests and the people break through to come up unto the LORD, lest He break forth upon them.' 25 So Moses went down unto the people, and told them.
20:1 And God spoke all these words, saying:
I am going to pose some questions here regarding the 10 Sayings aka Commandments.
2 I am the LORD thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.
Who took you out of the land of Egypt: The taking [you] out [of Egypt] is sufficient reason for you to be subservient to Me. Alternatively, [God mentions the Exodus] since He revealed Himself on the sea as a valiant warrior, and here He revealed Himself as an old man full of mercy, as it is said: “and beneath His feet was like the form of a brick of sapphire” (Exod. 24:10). That [brick] was before Him at the time of the enslavement [to remember the Israelites’ suffering when they made bricks as slaves], “and like the appearance of the heavens” (Exod. 24:10), [i.e., there was joy before Him] when they were redeemed. Since I change in [My] appearances, do not say that they are two [Divine] domains, [but] I am He Who took you out of Egypt and [I am He Who performed the miracles] by the sea (Mechilta). Alternatively, [God mentions the Exodus] since they [the Israelites] heard many voices [during the revelation], as it is said: “And all the people saw the voices” (verse 15), [meaning that] voices came from four directions and from the heavens and from the earth, [so] do not say that there are many domains (Exod. Rabbah 5:9). And why did He say [this] in the singular [possessive], אֱלֹהֶי ? In order to give Moses an opening to offer a defense in the incident of the calf. This is [the meaning of] “Why, O Lord, should Your anger be kindled against Your people?” (Exod. 32:11). You did not command them, “You shall not have the gods of others before Me,” but [You commanded] me alone (Exod. Rabbah 43:5). out of the house of bondage: Literally, out of the house of slaves. [I.e.,] from Pharaoh’s house, where you were slaves to him. Or perhaps [Scripture] means only: from the house of slaves, that they were slaves to [other] slaves? Therefore, Scripture says: “and He redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt” (Deut. 7:8). Consequently, you must say that they were slaves to Pharaoh, but not slaves to [other] slaves. — [from Exod. Rabbah 43:5]
Why do I find from time to time Jews running off after other religions? Here specifically it is stated that G-D is alone without any partner in creation.
in My presence: Heb. עַל-פָּנָּי [This means] as long as I exist [signifying forever. God states this so] that you should not say that only that generation was commanded [prohibited] concerning idolatry. — [from Mechilta]
3 Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any manner of likeness, of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;
a graven image: Heb. פֶּסֶל [It is called by this name] because it is sculpted (נִפְסָל). פסל: על שם שנפסל: or any likeness: The likeness of anything that is in the heavens.
There are religions that have statues and statuettes in their house(s) of worship and Jews have gone to them. Here the wording is specific beyond a reasonable doubt.
4 thou shalt not bow down unto them, nor serve them; for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me;
a zealous God: Heb. קַנָּא, zealous to mete out punishment. He does not forgo retaliating by forgiving the sin of idolatry. Every [expression of] קַנָּא means enprenemant in Old French, zealous anger. He directs His attention to mete out punishment. of those who hate Me: As the Targum [Onkelos paraphrases: when the sons continue to sin following their fathers, i.e.], when they cling to their fathers’ deeds. — [from Sanh. 27b]
How can Jews do this even in plays and movies – it is beyond my comprehension for thousands of years we have been burned at the stake and tortured in attempts to convert us.
5 and showing mercy unto the thousandth generation of them that love Me and keep My commandments. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain.
Laziness may be the reason why some people don’t observe Shabbos or they have no belief in the hereafter and a heavenly court that will exact punishment of Kares (being cut off from the people).
7 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 8 Six days shalt thou labor, and do all your work;
Again this is Melacha which is not labor or work as we understand it. There are 39 forms of Melacha and must require either some destruction or creating something like an electric circuit, written work, etc. It is not my place to play G-D; however, I cannot help but notice via AIM, Facebook, Skype, etc. Worst than that if I chat with such a person, I am essentially becoming a partner in his crime even though it is Motzei Shabbos here. I consider the fact that the person is not 100% religious and goes off and on the internet on his/her Shabbos does bother me in the fact that I have failed to explain the benefits of a day of rest both in this world and in the next.
9 but the seventh day is a sabbath unto the LORD thy God, in it thou shalt not do any manner of work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; 10 for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested on the seventh day; wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
Later on in the Torah it says, ”A sign between ME and the Bnei Yisrael” – Shabbos is not for Gentiles or even for potential converts to observe in full until they become a Yisrael.
I recently saw on Facebook a group called “Christian Passover” – were they slaves in Egypt? Again I can’t comprehend a Gentile observing anything more than a facsimile of a day off from work but a Pessach (which is the name of the sacrifice) – no Gentile Nation was slaves in Egypt and then freed by HASHEM.
11 Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God gives thee.
Abaye was an Orphan and he is quoted in Talmud Kidushin as saying that the laws of honoring parents are so great that he is happy that he was born a complete orphan and his aunt raised him so if he was slightly lacking in honoring her, it would not be as bad as less honoring a parent.
Rabbi Shraga Simmons Shlita wrote: God and Your Parents
Parshat Yitro tells of the revelation at Mount Sinai and the giving of the Ten Commandments. The commandments were written on two tablets, but there was a distinct difference: The first tablet contained mitzvot between people and God - e.g., "Believe in God," "Don't worship other gods," "Don't take God's Name in vain." The second tablet contained mitzvot between people and people - e.g., "Don't steal" and "Don't murder."
One of the Ten Commandments is to "Honor Your Parents." We would expect this to appear on the second tablet, along with the other mitzvot between people and people. But it doesn't. Honoring parents appears on the first tablet. Why?
The reason is that the parent-child relationship is a metaphor for the human relationship to God. From the moment of infancy, the way a parent acts toward their child, forms in the child's consciousness a paradigm for how God relates to us.
Therefore the primary role of a parent is to communicate to the child that he is loved and cherished ... unique and special ... cared for and protected. For that is how God cares about each one of us.
I once heard the story of a father who set his young son up on a ledge, and told him to jump. "I'll catch you," said the father. So the boy jumped - but the father stepped back, letting the child fall to the ground. As the boy looked up with tears in his eyes, the father said: "I wanted to teach you an important lesson: That you can never trust anyone!"
This is the exact opposite of what the Torah wants us to teach our children. Above all, a parent must give the child a deep sense of security, and implant the subconscious knowledge that with God, you are never alone.
12 Thou shalt not murder.
A soldier or executioner is permitted to kill and one may kill a Rodef (a person wanting to murder somebody) thus please remember the Jewish translation and not the KJV translation into English. Yet we have a few Jewish murderers to our great sorrow.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
I can understand the temptation as it is a very powerful one, but I cannot understand a spouse destroying a relationship with the L-RD and his/her family. Again per Judaism, the definition of Adultery is between a married woman and any other male outside of her husband. [Disregarding the damage done between a husband and wife – in Judaism like many of the religions of the east, more than one wife is permitted. So if a Jew has a second wife or mistress who is unmarried, widowed or divorced that is perhaps not the world’s greatest thing but according to the Torah it is not a sin.} Before anybody goes and says that I am advocating or giving excuses for polygamy – remember that the Ashkenazi Jews have the Cherem of Rabbaynu Gershom. And a man can only have one wife except under extenuation circumstances. Somebody once told me that there are 819 to 820 such cases in all of Yisrael with both the Sephardi, Yemenites and Ashkenazi Jews combined. Under the Shulchan Aruch Eben HaEzer, a Sephardi can marry a second woman if his wife gives him permission and not by forced submission but on her own free will.
Thou shalt not steal.
Our Rabbis tell us that this is stealing a man like the Arabs did to the black Africans and sold them into slavery. Robbing and Thievery are separate commands. For the Noachide this is all put into one command but for the stiff necked people it was spelled out in three so that no wise guy could find a way to steal, be a robber or a thief in the night.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
Ever met somebody who lies to you some of the habitual liars will be more than happy to do so in a court of law – especially to have their way.
13 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbors. See the Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh story below.
14 And all the people perceived the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the voice of the horn, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled, and stood afar off. 15 And they said unto Moses: 'Speak thou with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.' 16 And Moses said unto the people: 'Fear not; for God is come to prove you, and that His fear may be before you, that ye sin not.' 17 And the people stood afar off; but Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was. 18 And the LORD said unto Moses: Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel: Ye yourselves have seen that I have talked with you from heaven. 19 Ye shall not make with Me--gods of silver, or gods of gold, ye shall not make unto you. 20 An altar of earth thou shalt make unto Me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt-offerings, and thy peace-offerings, thy sheep, and your oxen; in every place where I cause My name to be mentioned I will come unto thee and bless thee. 21 And if thou make Me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stones; for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast profaned it. 22 Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto Mine altar, that thy nakedness be not uncovered thereon.
Practical Halacha from the OU:
Shimon is traveling from Israel to the USA for a short trip. Reuven, who lives in Israel, asks Shimon to buy a camera for him in the US. He later changes his mind after Shimon has already bought it, and decides that he doesn’t want it. What are his obligations?
There are several possible scenarios, each with its own Halacha.
1. Let us first discuss a case in which Reuven sent money with Shimon, instructing him to buy the camera for him in the US. When Shimon buys the camera with Reuven's money, he is actually buying it on behalf of Reuven. Once Shimon takes the camera into his possession, from that moment on it belongs to Reuven. Even if Reuven doesn’t want it any more, it still belongs to him (unless of course he gives it away). This works both ways. Once Shimon has acquired the camera for Reuven, he cannot change his mind and decide to keep it for himself without Reuven's approval, because it already belongs to Reuven.
What happens if the camera gets lost or damaged before Shimon manages to get it to Reuven?
In our scenario Shimon has the status of an unpaid guardian of the camera, and so if the loss or damage was caused by his negligence he would have to pay Reuven for the loss. If he was not negligent but the camera nonetheless got stolen or otherwise damaged, Shimon would have no obligation towards Reuven.
2. Let us now consider a case in which Reuven didn’t send any money with Shimon, but asked Shimon to lay out the money for him to buy the camera. Again, from the moment that Shimon takes the camera into his possession, it belongs to Reuven. The money that Shimon laid out will be considered a loan to Reuven, and Reuven must repay this money to Shimon. Again, it’s too late for Reuven to change his mind. Even if the camera gets lost or damaged (in circumstances in which Shimon, as an unpaid guardian, would be exempt from liability), Reuven would still owe the money to Shimon. It was Reuven's camera that was damaged, and the loan from Shimon still stands.
Even if Reuven changed his mind before the purchase took place, if he didn’t inform Shimon about his change of mind he cannot retract; he will still owe the money to Shimon. The reason for this is that by asking Shimon to lay out money for him, he is in effect guaranteeing Shimon that he will get his money back (Nesivos Hamishpat 182:3). [It would appear, however, that under such circumstances the camera would not actually belong to Reuven, because if it is clear before the sale that he doesn't want it (even if Shimon and the seller are unaware that he has retracted) he cannot be forced to acquire something that he does not want. This leads to an interesting set-up – in effect the camera actually still belongs to the seller, because neither Reuven nor Shimon wanted to acquire it for themselves. But again, if for any reason Shimon cannot retrieve his money either from the store or by selling the camera to someone else, Reuven would have to reimburse him for the money laid out – though of course in that case he could insist that Shimon give him the camera.]
3. There is another possible situation. Reuven doesn't instruct Shimon to buy the camera on his behalf, but instead says to Shimon, “Buy a camera and I’ll buy it off you.”
In this case the camera at the time of purchase actually belongs to Shimon. Reuven does not owe any money yet, but he has an obligation to buy the camera from Shimon. If he refuses to do so, he must make up any losses to Shimon, since Shimon relied on him and laid out his own money on the assurance that Reuven will reimburse him. Thus, if Shimon can sell the camera to someone else for the same price, he will incur no loss. If however, he can only sell it to someone else for a price lower than the price of purchase, Reuven will have to make up the difference to him.
In this scenario, if the camera gets lost or spoiled, Shimon will have to suffer the loss. Reuven's liability is limited to the obligation to buy it from Shimon, but if for whatever reason Shimon cannot produce it for him, Reuven has no further responsibility.
Rabbi Yehonoson Dovid Hool is a member of the Kollel Choshen Mishpat - Institute for Dayanim, Jerusalem, Israel, and its affiliated Beis Din, "Nesivos Chaim."
This series is intended to give general guidelines only; since every circumstance is unique, actual cases should be referred to a Dayan or Beis Din.
The Institute for Dayanim is pleased to answer queries from the general public regarding monetary and business Halacha, and to offer advice regarding the drafting of halachically valid contracts, wills etc.
As many of you know, Judaism does not go out and look for Converts so when I received a request for somebody to convert I like to give them the following option as 7 Mitzvos with perhaps 16 derivates is much more practical to follow than 613 Mitzvos and 15,000 plus Halachos which the Bnei Yisrael are required to follow.
These are the Commandments of the Bnei Noach based on my memory also Google Children of Noah, Children of Noach, Ben Noah, Ben Noach, asknoah or asknoah.com and Noahide.
1) There is only ONE G-D without partners and no idolatry is allowed.
2) Relationships are through matrimony, no incest, adultery, male homosexuality, bestiality and immodest public behavior.
3) Establish Legal Systems and courts of law and one should follow and obey the law of the land.
4) Not to Murder
5) Not to Steal
6) Not to eat a limb of a living animal or the blood of the animal and no cruelty to animals.
7) No Blasphemy
The derivatives I do not know by heart and these Commandments are expanded in details on the above sites. No conversion necessary.
Every living creature is permissible to a Ben/Bas Noach. Prayers are from the heart or can be taken from Psalms or even the Jewish Prayer books should one want. A blessing should be made before and after eating - no need for formal blessings like in the Jewish prayer book (Siddur) and it can be done in any language.
The main thing is an honest prayer. No kneeling is necessary in prayer - standing, walking, riding or sitting is OK. PS the emphasis is on the unity of G-D of which the Holy Spirit or Shechina is a connective link between the soul of man and the L-RD and not a separate entity.
A Medical Super Power finally a few good words from CNN – Meir K.: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snH738Umhqc
Mitzvos and Halachos by Danny Shoemann
It's a Mitzva to not do Melacha (certain types of work) on the first day of the month of Tishrei. Work involving food preparation is allowed, within certain parameters. Lighting fires from an existing flame as well as carrying without an Eruv is allowed. By Rabbinic decree this applies to both day of Rosh Hashanah, worldwide. Applies to everybody, everywhere, always Verse: "On the first of the seventh month shall be a rest day" (Vayikra 23:24)Source: The Chafetz-Chaim's Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar; Positive Mitzvah 29
It's a Mitzva to hear the Shofar being blown on the first day of the month of Tishrei. One has to hear 3 sets of "Tekia (long single sound), Teru'a (broken-up sound), Tekia".
Since there are 3 possibilities as to what constitutes a Teru'a, we need to blow a total of 9 sets to properly fulfill this Mitzva. Applies to males, always, everywhere
Verse: "It shall be a day of Teru'a-blowing for you" (Bamidbar 29:1) Source: The Chafetz-Chaim's Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar; Positive Mitzvah 30
At the end of the Shemita year - every 7 years - most types of loans are cancelled. One who refrains from lending money based on the fear that they will not be paid back because the Shemita year will cancel the loan, has transgressed. Applies to everybody, everywhere, when the Yovel 50-year cycle is in place - Nowadays it's a Rabbinic - and not Torah - prohibition. Verse: "Beware lest you refrain from loaning money since the Shemita year is approaching" (Devarim 15:9) Source: The Chafetz-Chaim's Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar; Prohibition 56
Once the Shmita (7th year) has passed, one may not ask repayment of loans that became due before the end of Shmita. Nowadays, since we don't have the Yovel (50 year) cycle, this Mitzva is Rabbinic Applies to everybody, everywhere, always Verse: "Do not demand payment, since the Shmita year has passed" (Devarim 15:2)Source: The Chafetz-Chaim's Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar; Prohibition 57
One may not take as collateral any items that are used to prepare food. This applies whether one takes the collateral at the time of the debt or afterwards, and even if Bet Din is taking the collateral. Applies to everybody, everywhere, always Verse: "Do not take the nether nor the upper millstone as collateral" (Devarim 24:6) Source: The Chafetz-Chaim's Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar; Prohibition 58
This Shabbat we will read the 10 commandments - let's review some of the laws of the 5th commandment. One may not sit nor stand in one's parents designated place in the synagogue or at home or anywhere else where they may have a designated place. One may not contradict parents. One may not approve of one's parents in their presence (e.g. "I see your point"), as this indicates that one has the ability to say otherwise. Even if parents insult one in public one may not upset them, though one may take legal action to recuperate any monetary loss they caused. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 142:1See also Yoreh Deah 240
Honoring parents includes feeding them, clothing and covering them as well as accompanying them. All the above must be done cheerfully - as the attitude counts more than the actions; one gets punished for being dour around ones parents even if one serves them delicacies. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 143:3
This Shabbat we will read the 10 commandments - so we are reviewing the laws of the 5th commandment. One may not wake up one's parents even if it is going to cause one a major monetary loss. However if one's parents are going to suffer a monetary loss and they will be distressed over the loss then one must wake them. So too one should wake them in time for prayers or for any other Mitzva. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 143:4
If your mother requests something be done and your father then asks "who asked you to do this?", and giving the correct answer will cause animosity between your parents, then you should not blame your mother, even if this causes your father to be angry at you. One is obligated to stand when either parent enters the room.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 143: 6 – 7.
Taking both ends of a string and crossing them over - like when tying your shoes - is permitted on Shabbat. Crossing them over twice - thereby creating a knot - is forbidden.
Tying a knot at the end of a piece of string is also forbidden. Joining 2 or more pieces of string this way is also forbidden. Tying knots is one of the 39 forbidden categories of work forbidden on Shabbat. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 80:45
An Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh Story
Once upon a time in Morocco a merchant had lost most of his fortune. He went to a different city while leaving his wife and children home. After very hard work, he managed to recuperate his losses. He was on his way home when he met an old friend in a field outside of a third city Erev Shabbos. The friend offered to take him into his home for Shabbos as they sat in the shade of a tree. The merchant had a very large sum of money and asked his friend to keep it for safe keeping until Motzei Shabbos.
The Shabbos was pleasant between the two friends and they exchanged memories and updates over the meal and walking to and from the Synagogue. When Motzei Shabbos arrived, the merchant asked for his money bag back. Instead he got “What money bag?” from his friend. He asked him to stop jesting as he wanted to be off to his family. The friend said “You are not embarrassed to ask for such a thing after I hosted you so nicely.”
The Ohr HaChaim was Av Beis Din in the town and asked each side to tell the story. It was a he said / she said case which Rabbis get all the time with married couples. The Ohr HaChaim said, the only thing that I could do is that since it occurred in a tree and the tress all around are your witnesses, I have nothing to do but you call out to the trees to give testimony before me.
After a short time, the Ohr HaChaim said, “Ah our friend has reached the trees.” The thief shouted out, “That is impossible as the tree was far away from town.” The Ohr HaChaim said to the thief. “Ah you know of the tree so his story must be true! Now return the money to this hapless man who put his trust in you.”
Thieves base their lives on easy money in this world and enjoyment at the expense of others. It is the lazy way out to take or covet somebody else’s hard earned money. If the billionaires of today wanted to share their wealth, they could distribute to each man, woman and child in the USA $20 and still have billions around for themselves. Obviously they have better places and charities to give to than your or my wallet. The Torah tells us not to covet what our neighbor has. Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbors. We should be happy with his/her lot and be happy with our own.
From Gene Alberts: If G-d cared about me, why doesn’t He do miracles for me?
How many times have I heard that question? Sometimes it sounds like a complaint; perhaps it’s really a plea for help. If we open our eyes, if we open our minds, if we open our hearts, we will see that the Hashem is doing miracles for us all the time—from the very small and seemingly insignificant to the larger and more dramatic.
If you look back over your life experiences I bet you’ll probably find that you, too, have a story to tell.
When I was 25, my father had a stroke and went into a coma. The doctors said there was nothing they could do and that I should give up hope. For months he lay there. I was allowed to visit him every few hours and although I always hoped he would wake up, he never did.
One night when I left his room, I couldn’t take it anymore. I went down to my car in the parking lot and I started screaming and begging G-d to give me back my father.
When I went into my father’s room the next day, his eyes seemed to be focused on me, but still he didn’t move or speak. I said, “It seems like you’re watching me. If you can hear my voice, close your eyes.”
My father closed his eyes.
I thought it might be a coincidence so is said, “Close your eyes again, I’ll count to five and when I get to five, open your eyes.”
My father did exactly as instructed. At the moment I knew the Hashem loved me, and I knew I was close to Him.
Hashem is intervening in our lives every day, all the time, if we are but open to it. Not only is He providing us with the majesty of the ocean and the beauty of the sunset, with the profusion of colorful flowers and the melodic song of the birds, but Hashem’s hand is apparent in the mundane as well.
You may think its trivial , a ‘waste’ of prayer to ask for a good parking place- but Who do you think makes sure you get one whether you’ve asked or not? When you run into the very person you need to speak to at your local grocery, when a phone call from a friend wakes you, the day your alarm clock breaks, Hashem is looking out for you. Are you looking out for him?
Our job is to recognize His guiding hand and be grateful for His intervention. Even if it’s not always an intervention we like. Maybe we don’t get the job, the house, the match we think we want. God is speaking to us then too. A world without G-d’s voice would be an empty void. A world of randomness and meaninglessness would be the painful world of all.
None of us are ever alone; we just need to know where to look.
That’s what happened in this week’s Parsha (Beshalach). We all sang together (Parshat Shira). May we all sing together the 10th song by the coming of the Moshiah very soon. Amen
An Oldie but Goodie: Make the best out of it
On Nov. 18, 1995, Yitzhak Perlman, the violinist, came on stage to give a concert at Aver Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City. If you have ever been to a Perlman concert, you know that getting on stage is no small achievement for him. He was stricken with polio as a child, and so he has braces on both legs and walks with the aid of two crutches.
To see him walk across the stage one step at a time, painfully and slowly, is an unforgettable sight. He walks painfully, yet majestically, until he reaches his chair. Then he sits down, slowly, puts his crutches on the floor, undoes the clasps on his legs, tucks one foot back and extends the other foot forward. Then he bends down and picks up the violin, puts it under his chin, nods to the conductor and proceeds to play.
By now, the audience is used to this ritual. They sit quietly while he makes his way across the stage to his chair. They remain reverently silent while he undoes the clasps on his legs. They wait until he is ready to play.
But this time, something went wrong. Just as he finished the first few bars, one of the strings on his violin broke. You could hear it snap- it went off like gunfire across the room. There was no mistaking what that sound meant. There was no mistaking what he had to do.
People who were there that night thought to themselves: “We figured that he would have to get up, put on the clasps again, pick up the crutches and limp his way off stage, to either find another violin or else find another strings for this one.”
But he didn’t. Instead, he waited a moment, closed his eyes and then signaled the conductor to begin again. The orchestra began, and he played from where he had left off. And he played with such passion and such power and such purity as they had never heard before. Of course, anyone knows that it is impossible to play a symphonic work with just there strings. I know that, and you know that, but that night Yitzhak Perlman refused to know that.
You could see him modulating, changing, recomposing the piece in his head. At one point, it sounded like he was DE-tuning the strings to get new sounds from them that they had never made before.
When he finished, there was an awesome silence in the room. And then people rose and cheered. There was an extraordinary outburst of applause from every corner of the auditorium. We were all on our feet, screaming and cheering, doing everything we could to show how much we appreciated what he had done.
He smiled, wiped the sweat from his brow, raised his bow to quiet us and then he said, not boastfully, but in a quiet, pensive , reverent tone, “ You know, sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left.”
What a powerful line that is. It has stayed in my mind ever since I heard. And who knows? Perhaps that is the way of life, not just for artists but for all of us.
So, perhaps our task in this shaky, fast changing, bewildering world in which we live is to make music, at first with all that we have , and then when that is no longer possible , to make music with what we have left.
Binyamin Jadidi There is a Halacha of being forbidden to burden the community – where in a Synagogue, by the government or by a individual. Rabbi Yacov Kamenetsky Zal once told his driver not to pass a bus trying to pull out of the bus stop even though he had the right of way for he was one individual and the bus had many individuals.
The flying carpet Rabbi’s grave is protected by his spirit: http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=167427
Rabbi Abuhazera received his family name from the following incident. One is not allowed to use miracles unless it is absolutely necessary. He needed boat passage from Morocco to Egypt to take up his Rabbinical Post. Being a poor student he had next to no money for the boat passage. He offered the Captain what he had to pay his passage. The captain said that for that money he could be on the boat providing that during the trip he did not touch the deck of the boat. He spread out his passage said the 72 letter NAME of the L-RD and hovered in the air on his carpet from Morocco to Egypt. All the legends of flying carpets stem from this incident. Abuhazera means flying carpet.
From Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Jacobson: http://www.theyeshiva.net/Article/View/60/When-Youre-Not-In-the-Mood-for-your-Spouse
An interesting article of a daughter of a senior SS commander making amends: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3833835,00.html
The Woman on the Train
A Jewish girl was confronted in the 1940’s by a German Nazi on the train. Risking her own life a woman who was in her 9th month of pregnancy stood up on the train and placed herself between the girl and the Nazi. She told the Nazi that if he wanted to he could kill her but her fellow Italians would not let him off the train alive. The girl lived. The woman’s name Rosa Bariscone - Told by B. Netanyahu on occasion of the visit of the Italian Prime Minister to the Knesset.
Note one of the terror recruits in this article looks like a western fellow: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3842510,00.html
From Nitsana Darshan Leitner and it is about time that we stopped handling the extreme anti-semitical left with kid gloves: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/29/world/middleeast/29palestine.html?hp
Pipe dream of pipe bombs in Schem: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3841739,00.html
This has been known in Israel for months ever since an attempt was made on a Saudi Royal: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1247338/Terrorists-plan-attack-Britain-bombs-INSIDE-bodies-foil-new-airport-scanners.html#ixzz0eINltf5n
An Opinion from Eretz Yisrael: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3842023,00.html
New Terror Tactics: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3842929,00.html
From Joanne Capone: I also think staying out of the midday sun could also stop skin cancer: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20100202/hl_nm/us_cancer_infections
When Israel gives charity, we give it with a heart: http://www.jpost.com/HealthAndSci-Tech/Health/Article.aspx?id=167513
A heart attack is not really ruled out but: http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=167624
When Yishmael joined with Esav: http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2010/02/mufti_jewish_genocide.html
Johnny to get a visitor: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/Flash.aspx/179918
Take a look at his proof of the connection of Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael from the cave: http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=124106
Editorial: Elected and Appointed U.S. Government Officials Who Violate Their Oath of Office and the Constitution Must Resign or Be Impeached
By Paul E. Vallely MG, US Army (Ret)
The Declaration of Independence states: “To secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness.”
We cannot permit the current leaders in the White House and Halls of Congress to continue in their efforts to lead us down the road of Progressive Socialism. This is the current battle we Constitutionalists face and we must be aggressive in our efforts. Notice, I have eliminated the terms of liberal…conservative…left and right as they have little meaning in today’s battle for our Country.
My emphasis in this article will be on Demand Resignation by the people of this country.
The oath is simple and reads:
“I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.” Sadly, we have seen them violate their oath. Fraud, lying, and corruption are rampant and some have engaged in treasonous activities, and they effectively thumb their noses at us and have sold you to the highest bidder.
The Articles of Confederation were replaced with the Constitution, which granted the federal government enough authority to cultivate, promote and secure the Blessings of Liberty. The balance of authority and individual liberty was understood. Power was confined to that which was enumerated in the Constitution with a certain and meaningful intent for check and balances.
Lincoln issued this warning in his inaugural address, “Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government and form a new one. This is a most valuable and sacred right – a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world.” Being a representative republic, not a democracy, “rising up” means other than revolution by means of arms. The people must “rise up” from the grass roots; we must think of the greater good. We are limited in the peaceful transfer of power…resignation, elections, and impeachment.
Article One, S5, CII and the 10th Amendment provides the authority but this has been trumped by a system that rewards the powerful. In 1803 each congressional district averaged 38,476 people, in 2010 it is forecast to exceed 710,000. These numbers indicate power growth, and it effectively grew 8 fold in the 20th century alone. No wonder our representatives seek to stay in office so long.
With incumbency comes power. The party in the majority assigns power, so a long-term sitting representative can expect such power. A representative expected to stay in office in the 3rd Congress for approximately 2 years now expects 12 years, or 6 terms - so much for a “citizen government.”
“Tip” O’Neill, once said: “All politics are local.” This is never truer than today when entrenched politicians, long in office, build war chests impossible to overcome. But this can be changed, through grass roots organization and discourse. We must make it a local imperative and movement….of the People…by the People… and For the People.
“We, the People” have had enough of this. They are on a socialist and treasonous death march and are bankrupting the country. We have watched them violate their sacred oath of office. “We, the People” cannot wait for the next round of elections. It is now that these public servants must put our interests above self-interest by resigning immediately. Our so-called Representatives and Senators are more interested in party loyalty than performing their duties. So, do not expect them to resign en masse or be impeached. Therefore the “people” must decide. A civil uprising is still not out of the question. They know which side of the bread their butter is on and it is not on our side. The Tea Party. Stand Up America and Saddle Up America Projects will continue to be the strength of the Constitutionalist movement.
I am confident more Resignations will be forthcoming based on the efforts of the people. The Vote in 2010 will be critical as well. This means raising your voice now to your neighbors, family, co-workers, and friends. Grass roots efforts have begun; it is now time to put that effort into over drive.
Paul Vallely is a retired MG, US Army and is Chairman of Stand Up America USA and Save Our Democracy
From Mark Levin, 10 steps to destroying America.1 Rewrite the Constitution and break down its firewalls through Judicial and Bureaucratic fiat. 2 Concentrate all meaningful power in the Federal Government. 3 Suppress and Repress the Individual by attacking his Unalienable Rights through laws and constant torment.4 Eliminate Private Property through Confiscatory Taxation and Regulation and wage constant war against Business Enterprises and Entrepreneurs.5 Control Institutions of Education at all levels and turn them into Indoctrination Centers for the State. 6 Change the Citizenry by opening National Borders to virtually all comers and changing the qualifications for Citizenship to include mostly poor, uneducated illegal aliens. 7 Destroy the Private Financial Institutions that have funded the Greatest Production and Accumulation of Wealth for the Most People the World has ever known. 8 Destroy Capitalism and replace it with Redistributive Policies by Destroying the currency and Replacing it with a new currency or Revaluing the old currency. 9 Eliminate American Sovereignty through arrangements and agreements with Foreign Countries and International Bureaucracies. 10 Use American Foreign Policy not to improve American Economic and National Security, but to advance the Notion of One Government Globalism. Does any of this seem familiar?
54 DEMOCRATIC CONGESSMEN SIGNED A LETTER TO OBAMA TO PRESSURE ISRAEL THANKS TO HARRIS VEDERMAN:
Raul Grijalva: 202-225-2435
Lois Capps: 202-225-3601
Sam Farr: 202-225-2861
Bob Filner: 202-225-8045
Barbara Lee: 202-225-2661
Loretta Sanchez: 202-225-2965
Pete Stark: 202-225-5065
Michael Honda: 202-225-2631
Lynn Woolsey: 202-225-5161
Jackie Speier: 202-225-3531
Diane Watson: 202-225-7084
George Miller: 202-225-2095
Jim Himes: 202-225-5541
Andre Carson: 202-225-4011
Bruce Braley: 202-225-2911
John Warmuth: 202-225-5401
Elijah Cummings: 202-225-4741
Donna Edwards: 202-225-8699
Michael Capuano: 202-225-5111
William Delahunt: 202-225-3111
Jim McGovern: 202-225-6101
John Tierney: 202-225-8020
John Olver: 202-225-5335
Stephen Lynch: 202-225-8273
John Conyers: 202-225-5126
John Dingell: 202-225-4071
Carolyn Kilpatrick: 202-225-2261
Keith Ellison: 202-225-4755
Betty McCollum: 202-225-6631
James Oberstar: 202-225-6211
Donald Payne: 202-225-3436
Rush Holt: 202-202-225-5801
Bill Pascrell: 202-225-5751
Yvette Clarke: 202-225-6231
Maurice Hinchey: 202-225-6335
Paul Tonko: 202-225-5076
Eric Massa: 202-225-3161
David Price: 202-225-1784
Mary Jo Kilroy: 202-225-2015
Marcy Kaptur: 202-225-4146
Earl Blumenauer: 202-225-4811
Peter DeFazio: 202-225-6416
Chaka Fattah: 202-225-4001
Joe Sestak: 202-225-2011
Peter Welch: 202-225-4115
Jim Moran: 202-225-4376
Glenn Nye: 202-225-4215
Jim McDermott: 202-225-3106
Adam Smith: 202-225-8901
Jay Inslee: 202-225-6311
Brian Baird: 202-225-3536
Nick Rahall: 202-225-3452
Tammy Baldwin: 202-225-2906
Now for M. Wolfberg’s Good Shabbos Stories – Break Dancing and Roming
Good Shabbos Everyone. In this week’s parsha Vaera, the Torah tells us how Hashem promises to redeem the Bnei Yisroel from slavery in Egypt. Hashem tells us “and I will take you for a Nation…”(6:7) The Ibn Ezra explains that the Bnei Yisroel will become a nation when they received the Torah at Har Sinai. Thus we see that the only thing that makes us Hashem’s people is our observance of the Torah.
Rabbi Betzallel Shif, the founder of the Ohr Simcha school in Kfar Chabad that has taught thousands of underprivileged Israeli children still has a broken sword somewhere in his house with an interesting story connected to it.
Some fifty years ago the day before Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) the Rabbi was in the airport terminal of Tebilsi (Capital of Georgia- Gruzia) waiting to check in for the flight to Kiev where he had hoped to spend the holiest day of the year with his family. He suddenly discovered that he had somehow misplaced his flight ticket. He left the line, searched his pockets and suitcases but found nothing.
He would have to spend the night in the airport hotel and hope that through some miracle he could catch a plane out the next morning. He was given a small two bed room in the terminal hotel, slept restlessly and woke at dawn to discover that someone else, who had probably missed a plane after his, was sleeping in the other bed. He quietly put on his Tallis and Tefillin and faced the corner and prayed the Morning Prayer as silently as possible.
But when he finished he was unpleasantly surprised to see that his 'roommate' had woken and was sitting in a chair, fully dressed in an army uniform, staring at him intently. In Communist Russia this only spelled trouble. The marks on his uniform indicated that he was a colonel.
The colonel asked the Rabbi what he was doing. The Rabbi explained and as he was talking he noticed that the officer's eyes were red and a stream of tears ran down one of his cheeks. When the Rabbi finished explaining, the colonel blew his nose, dried his eyes and asked...if he could put on the Tefillin as well!
Rabbi Shif gave him the Tefillin and Tallis, helped the colonel to put them on and after he finished praying and returned the religious items, he shook the Rabbi's hand and asked if he needed anything. Of course Rabbi Shif explained that he desperately needed a flight to Kiev.
The colonel told the Rabbi to follow him, took him outside, led the way to the airfield past several check points to a huge transport plane. He approached a soldier that was apparently standing guard, said a few words to him, turned to Rabbi Shif and said, "Tell this soldier where you want to go and he'll make sure they take you there. Just please do me a favor and give me your address before you leave."
Rabbi Shif gave the colonel his address, boarded the plane and made it home in time for Yom Kippur where the story of how he got there became the talk of the day.
Months passed and he almost forgot the entire incident until just a week before Pesach (Passover) some six months later, there was a knock on his door and when opened it there stood the colonel! They shook hands then hugged each other warmly. Rabbi Shif invited him in and he was straight to the point.
"Rabbi, I want you to return home with me and show my two children and wife what a real Passover Seder night is like. I know what you are thinking, I can assure you that my wife children are Jewish. But neither of us know anything. I mean, I do remember a little but you are a real Rabbi. We will do what you ask us. Money is no problem. What do you say?" But Rabbi Shif had to refuse saying he couldn't leave his old mother alone for Passover. When the Colonel heard this he again almost burst into tears.
"OY! Your mother! Oy! Because I didn't honor my parents they suffered so!" and he began to tell his sad story. He had been born and bred in a Chabad Chassidic family. His grandfather had been a well-known, gifted Chassid by the name of Rabbi Peretz Chein, and his parents who had great hopes for him, gave him the same name. They were sure he, too, would be a Chabad Chassid; devoted to making the world a better place according to the Torah, like his grandfather.
But it wasn't to be. When pogroms struck the big cities and his family had to flee to the suburbs where there weren't so many Jews, he became distant from Judaism and close with a lot of gentiles, especially a fellow his age called Peter.
Peter's grandfather had been a ranking officer in the Czar's navy, and his goal in life was to be just like him and, unfortunately he eventually got Peretz enthused as well. Peretz's parents protested but they were helpless. Together he and Peter enlisted in the navy and began to rise up in the ranks until both became officers, each receiving a coveted golden handled sword made of the finest tempered steel.
The sword became Peretz's pride and joy to the point that several times a year he would return home in full uniform, his glistening sword dangling from his side and strut about like a rooster showing off his uniform, shiny high boots and sword to the Chassidim who pretended to be interested but in fact couldn't have cared less. But all this was in total rebellion against his parent's wishes; they begged him not to join the navy and pleaded with him to leave as soon as possible, but he ignored them.
Each time he returned home all the Chassidim tried to just say hello and be friendly so as not to drive him away but finally one Chassid by the name of Itzic Raskin couldn't hold himself back. "What is that stupid sword doing on you?" he shouted at Peretz in front of everyone.
"Aren't you ashamed?! The grandson of Peretz Chein with a sword? Phhheh!" Peretz left the room blazing with anger and at that moment decided he would cut the cord. He had been shamed!! He changed his name to Pheter, stopped doing all the commandments and resolved to erase his 'useless' Jewish identity.
But a catastrophe brought him back... Years later, after he and his friend Peter rose to the level of majors they got a pleasant surprise; it was announced that Stalin (cursed be he) was going to make a personal visit to their base. Of course everyone worked feverishly to polish and prepare every inch of the place for 'Father Stalin' but then, unexplainably, Pheter's good friend Peter disappeared for over a week. Pheter asked around for an explanation but the only one given was that he had been drafted for a top secret job.
The days passed and one day before the awaited visit, a group of KGB agents visited the base which was routine before such an important occasion. They began questioning the officers one by one in private but when it came Pheter's turn things turned a bit sour. They began telling him details of his life that no one knew, except for his friend Peter.
Obviously they just wanted to show him who was boss. There was nothing in their tone that was incriminating or unfriendly but it was certainly embarrassing. Peter had betrayed their friendship! Pheter went to his room, thought about what happened and began to get angry. After all he had done for Mother Russia! For the navy, was this a way to be treated? Who needs this crazy government?!
Suddenly the words of Itzic Raskin rang in his ears "What is that stupid sword doing on you? Aren't you ashamed? The grandson of Peretz Chein with a sword? Phhheh!"
In a fit of insanity he pulled out the sword, stuck it deeply into the wooden floor and pushed it to a side until it broke almost in half. Then he took the unbroken half and began hacking away madly against a metal pipe in his room until it was dull, chipped and almost useless and his anger subsided. Suddenly a whistle blew! Stalin was here! Pheter, came to himself, put the half-sword back in it's sheath, put on his white dress coat, straightened it out and rushed out the door, his high leather boots clicking loudly as he went. But when he arrived in the greeting room Stalin wasn't there, only the KGB agents...and Peter.
They read aloud, "The following officers will follow us for intensive interrogation." And they read out five names, one of which was Pheter's." The Admiral of the base stepped forward and angrily shouted at the agents. "What do you want from these men!? Do you want to ruin our navy?! These are the best men in the service! They are loyal soldiers of Mother Russia and devoted party members! What is their crime?!!?"
"Their crime?" said the KGB agent, looking knowingly at Peter as the other agents put their hands on their gun holsters, "Their crime is...Conspiracy to murder Comrade Stalin!!" But the Admiral did not lose his composure. He angrily replied, "Nonsense! Pure nonsense! And tell me, comrade, tell us all, how, in your imagination did they plan to carry out this crime?"
"How?" Replied the agent with a smirk. "With THIS!" he exclaimed as he approached Pheter, deftly pulled Pheter's sword from its sheath and held it up victoriously. He narrowed his eyes as he hissed at Pheter. "You thought no one would suspect your sword didn't you?!"
But suddenly he felt that something was wrong, he looked at what he was holding in his hand and gasped. "No one could kill anyone with such a sword! The Admiral yelled angrily." "No, no!" The KGB agent tried to think fast and justify himself. "This criminal, he knew we suspected him! That's why he broke the sword." "Fool!" Yelled the Admiral, "If he really had such a stupid plan and really thought you suspected him then he wouldn't have brought his sword at all, would he!? Now get out!"
Pheter (now Peretz again) continued, "It was a miracle! And the shouted words of that Chassid Raskin saved me! On that day I decided to return to Judaism but I didn't know how. I simply kept putting it off for years until I saw you back then in the airport I knew it was another miracle.
Pheter was in constant contact with Rabbi Shif from then on. He changed his name back to Peretz and returned totally to Judaism and, as a sign of appreciation, gave Rabbi Shif his broken sword as a present. After the iron curtain fell he moved with his family to Florida and the two of them are still in close contact.
Torah and Mitzvahs are our marching orders as Jews. Even though Jews may been involved in all sorts of philanthropic and political causes and movements, it is the Torah alone which continues to guide us as a Nation. Good Shabbos Everyone.
Beshalach the Torah tells us how Moshe Rabbeinu (Moshe our teacher) instructs the Jewish Nation on the observance of Shabbos.
We distinguish Shabbos from the other days of the week by sitting down to festive meals with our family and enjoying the spiritual recharge of this special day. Anyone who keeps Shabbos can testify to the beauty of this special day. There are those who claim to "observe" Shabbos "in spirit." But in truth, only those who keep the Shabbos properly according to Halacha, will reap the spiritual recharge which the special day has to offer every Jew.
This week, for the first time in the eleven year history of this publication, I will tell a story which happened about me, your beloved author of the “Good Shabbos Everyone.”
A few years ago, I met a Jewish lawyer in court, let’s call him Shraga Feivel. Shraga Feivel and I have a lot in common and we and our families became fast friends, Boruch Hashem. For the last couple of years, Shraga Feivel and I spoke about taking a trip together to Eretz Yisroel. The only time we could both realistically take off from work would be around December 25th, at which time business is generally slower.
Finally this year, our schedules worked out and we reserved plane tickets to fly out Thursday, December 24th at 4 pm from Newark International, planning with Hashem’s help to arrive Friday morning in Eretz Yisroel at 9:30 am, with plenty ‘o time to rent a car and get to Yerushalayim for Shabbos Kodesh.
For months we spoke and planned the trip. We had planned to stay in the Meah Shearim area for Shabbos and possibly daven at the Kosel Friday night and go see the Toldos Avrohom Yitzchok tish, etc. To say that we were looking forward to the trip, would be an understatement.
Our wives, the Aishes Chayels that they are, agreed to stay home with the kinderlach, so that Shraga Feivel and I could maximize our time in the Holy Land. Fast forward to Thursday, December 24th… as we sat down on the airplane, we discovered that our neighbor sitting next to us, was also a Jewish lawyer who worked in the criminal law field. This was the first of many interesting “coincidences" we experienced throughout our journey.
After davening Maariv on the plane, we all eventually dozed off. At about 4:30 am, I looked out of the window and saw the sun beginning to rise on the horizon. Soon after, I got up out of my seat, to begin my “preparations” for davening the morning prayers. As soon as I got up, a flight attendant called out over the “p.a. system” that everyone must take their seats because the airplane was going to make an “unexpected landing” in Rome. In order to keep everyone calm, they called it “unexpected” instead of “emergency.”
“Oh boy, here we go…” I thought to myself. Here we were, Erev Shabbos, being delayed in Rome, on December 25th! On the flight update screen the languages changed to Italian and English and the distance to destination changed dramatically.
Immediately, the plan made a swift descent. The pilot announced that we should not be alarmed if we saw fire engines and emergency personnel waiting on the runway. I had images of sliding down those yellow slides. Everyone uttered prayers in their own languages.
Soon after, Boruch Hashem, we made an uneventful landing at Fiumicino - Rome International Airport. But now what were we going to do? The pilot informed us that there was no Continental staff to greet us in Rome because it was December 25th and they would have to wake up the staff, (and it would take long for them to sober up and make their way to the airport!)
Once we were off the plane, the 25 or so religiously observant passengers formed a Minyan and we davened Schacharis. Shraga Feivel and I began trying to desperately find another flight to Eretz Yisroel. We actually passed through security with El Al, but alas, the Italians told us it was too late to purchase a ticket. There was nobody there to guide us and we tried to speak to anyone who would help. Very few people spoke English, and nobody from our group spoke Italian, which of course complicated things. Our cell phones and internet did not work. I did not have any Euros to use the payphone. Everything was hectic and we were afraid to separate ourselves from the group as we did not want to miss any updates about our flight.
Our poor wives were already expecting to hear from us that we had landed safely in Eretz Yisroel. However, when they called Continental, they were told at first that there is no information about our flight, which was not very reassuring. Only later, they were told that we had landed in Rome.
Shraga Feivel and I began to consider the option of spending Shabbos in Rome, being that we had no idea if or when our plane would continue on its way to Eretz Yisroel. It was about 9 am at that point and Shabbos was to begin in about 6 hours from then. The flight itself to Eretz Yisroel takes two and a half hours from Rome. There was still time, but with every advancing minute, the situation looked grim.
In any case, I approached a police officer who seemed kindly and I asked him in Spanish, the closet language I know to Italian, if he would let me use his cell phone. I had managed to get the number for Chabad from a fellow passenger, and I wanted to call them to get an idea about the possibility of staying in Rome for Shabbos. When I asked the officer to use his phone, he showed me the international symbol with his thumb and fingers for “it costs money.” I had several hundred dollars in cash, but apparently the “almighty” dollar is not what it used to be, because when I showed a wad of singles to the officer, he still wouldn’t let me use the phone!!!
At about 9:30 am, two Jewish musicians from the group “Simply Tsfat” who were on our plane, began to play in the airport. One played the guitar and one played the violin. We Jews had a unstoppable urge to dance to the music, and what do you know? In no time, we formed a ring around the musicians and were dancing up a storm. A large crowd of people including non-Jews from our flight and passengers in the Airport gathered around take pictures and watch It is told in the name of the holy Baal Shem Tov, that when one dances with Simcha – happiness, one can sometimes achieve more than with prayer! Sure enough, soon after the music stopped, they announced to our group that the plane was fixed and ready to continue on its way. Cheers erupted from the group, “Hurray, Boruch Hashem!”
They announced that the flight would take off at 11:00 a.m. (12:00 p.m. Eretz Yisroel time), it would be tight, but we were going to make it! Or so we thought at that time...
Shraga Feivel and I were relieved, but our simcha quickly eroded… There was one solitary airport employee who was checking the passports of 250 passengers one by one. Every time someone asked the airport employee a question, she stopped checking the passports and the line was delayed. Soon it was well past 11:00 a.m and the line was not moving.
Finally, with great exasperation, the airport employee flew up her hands and announced that everyone could go onto the plane, without checking the passports. Not knowing whether to be relieved that we were finally getting on the plane or worried about the compromised security, we quickly made our way onto the plane and took our seats.
By the time we were all settled into our seats it was probably about 11:40. The pilot explained what was the cause of the “unexpected” landing; namely, smoke was detected near the video system. The pilot told us further that they had disabled the video system (thankfully, in light of the trash they showed there) and we were to take off shortly. “Shortly” turned out to be another 20 minutes or so.
It was then about 1:00 p.m. in Eretz Yisroel, and Shabbos was to start just after 4:00 p.m. and the flight was supposed take about two and a half hours from Rome. The pilot announced that he could not guarantee exactly what time the plane would arrive in Eretz Yisroel, and therefore, anyone who was concerned about arriving on time for Shabbos should consider deplaning and remaining in Rome, although Continental would not take any responsibility for anyone who chooses to do so... Next week we will continue this exciting true story... Good Shabbos Everyone.
M. Wolfberg’s stories are sponsored by: In Memory of Leah bas R' Dovid Edlen (Wolfberg) Refuah Shleima to Mordechai Menachem Mendel ben Tziporah Yitta Refuah Shleima to Tsviah bas Bracha Leah Refuah Shleimah to Chana Ashayra bas Dodi
Have a wonderful Shabbos, rest and reflect on the creations and miracles of G-D,