A note sometimes I change the spelling of the Hebrew words in English to conform to my standard spelling and writing. Danny writes his Halachos with Modern Hebrew and more Chassidic vowels so Chadash (new) is written in the original blog with O instead of A. Tzipora writes Cohain with a K at the start and like Cohen. I do not change spelling if it complies to some standard and my word format accepts it.
Does the clothes make the man or the man make the clothes? This week in the gym a few people came to me and told me how they see that I lost weight. Actually all I did was change my work out pants from extra-large to 2X to be more comfortable and I bulged out less. It could be that I put back on some muscles and redistributed fat. Last year, I went into details of the Jewels in the Choshen Mishpat of Aaron and this year into his clothing.
Concerning the concretion with the Bullock and details on the Jewels or the names and order engraved one can find them on Torah Tidbits and I believe that one year I also covered this. Therefore the material and design thereof I am concentrating on this year. Most men I will assume are like me and not super particular of our dress while others are always dressed tip-top. It is enough for me black pants that fit nicely and a clean white shirt that I appear in public with. A Chief Rabbi, King or Cohain Gadol had a further obligation with his dress. The current Prime Minister of Israel has a spare or two white shirt just in case that comes along with him.
The garments of the Cohain consists of materials that offer atonement for sin. In the world of Kabbala I am sure that the combination of the garments does things in the heavenly spheres and the holy dimensions or Sefiros. Rabbi Pinchas Winston in a very advanced Drasha covers just the Olive Oil this week.
27:20 And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure olive oil beaten for the light, to cause a lamp to burn continually.
The donation of olive oil for the lamps of the Mishkan was to be the finest extra virgin olive oil and of course free from Tuma. Our Sages say that Yisrael is like the fine olive oil comes out best when beaten and the purity comes out. Rabbi Pinchas Winston Shlita wrote (It is on an advanced level so beginners may not understand)
[Glossary – hisbatlos is the process of making null or giving over of an object or of oneself completely like dissolving a powder in a liquid or in this case Moshe’s will to be G-D’s will] Thus we say Ayn Ode Bilado or there is nothing without HIM so essentially we both in body and soul are nothing but part of G-D’s will.
Moses's Name is excluded: Addressing God and Giving Oneself for the Jewish People
And you shall command the Children of Israel to bring to you pure olive oil beaten for the light, to cause a lamp to burn continually. (Shemos 25:1-2)
One of the many things that fascinates me about Torah is how so much can be learned from so little. Take the first word of this week’s Parsha, v’attah—and you—for example, not something to which we might pay much attention, but a word about which the Zohar speaks at some length.
Rabi Chiya said: What is different about this place [more than other places in the Torah] that it says, “And you bring close to you,” and, “you will speak to all the wise-hearted,” and, “you will command the Children of Israel,” and, “and you will take spices”? Rather, all of it alludes to a great secret that it is in order to include the Shechina with it. (Zohar, Tetzaveh 179b)
In order words, the word ‘v’attah’ somehow alludes to a combination of The Holy One, Blessed is He, and the Shechina—Divine Presence—working together to perform the Mitzvos mentioned above. For, apparently, one of the Kabbalistic Names for the Divine Presence is ‘attah’, since it is the Sod of the revealed world (Pardes). Hence, the word v’attah alludes to something very holy going on here.
This, of course, requires some explanation, especially since this is the one Parsha in which Moshe Rabbaynu’s name is not mentioned. For, as Chazal explain, after Moshe demanded that God either forgive the Jewish people for the sin of the golden calf or remove his name from the Torah, both occurred. The Jewish people were forgiven, and ‘Moshe’ was removed from the Torah or at least from one Parsha from the Torah—this week’s—because you don’t threaten God, no matter how sincere you are.
But this raises a question. Regarding the other verses that begin with ‘v’attah’ an explanation is necessary. However, regarding the verse from this week’s Parsha, a simpler reason can be given as to why ‘v’attah’ is used: to avoid referring to Moshe Rabbaynu directly. Usage of the third person here could have been the Torah’s way of not mentioning ‘Moshe’, as per God’s plan.
Not in this case. For had that been true, the Torah could have begun with the word ‘You’ alone, without the word ‘and’, or the letter Vav, preceding it. Once the Vav was used together with the word attah, the combination alludes to something far deeper, something that included Moshe Rabbaynu in God’s Torah in a way that the usage of his own name could not have done. Perhaps Moshe’s ‘threat’ worked to his advantage, not his disadvantage.
To begin with, there are many names for the Divine Presence, many of which are plain words in everyday language, but which take on a new meaning when viewed from a Kabbalistic perspective. For example, the Halacha says that one should pray the Amida in front of wall—a kir in Hebrew—when possible, the obvious reason for this being in order to reduce the amount of possible distractions when standing before God.
However, according to the Zohar, one of the names of the Shechina is Kir, or wall, because it refers to some aspect of the Divine Presence. Therefore, what the Halacha is really saying, on a Kabbalistic level, is that when a person prays the Amida, he should do so before the Divine Presence, meaning in a way that is appropriate for someone who is standing before the Shechina.
Likewise, another name for the Shechina is ‘Attah’, because it is a word that refers to the Sefira of Malchus, the source of the Shechina (i.e., the Malchus of Atzilus). Therefore, in many places that the word attah shows up in the Torah, on a Sod-level, it is probably a reference to the Shechina as well. Certainly in some of the more obvious places, like in this week’s Parsha and all those to do with the construction of the Mishkan, it is a reference to the Shechina.
The letter Vav, which represents the number six, is unique for many reasons, one of which is that it represents the six Sefiros of Chessed, Gevurah, Tiferes, Netzach, Hod, and Yesod. This is also the level that corresponds to what we call ‘The Holy One, Blessed is He, in the Sefiros. Therefore, when the Vav is added to ‘attah’, the combination alludes to the union of The Holy One, Blessed is He, together with His Shechina, which is what history is all about, brought about through Moshe Rabbaynu.
We’d all like to believe that the Shechina dwells upon us to some degree, that when we do holy things, the Holy Presence joins together with us, on some level. Perhaps it does to some extent, but not to the extent of Moshe Rabbaynu, through whom the two levels achieved unification, which was absolutely necessary for the building of the Mishkan. In fact, the Zohar explains, this is how Divine wisdom was filtered to all the wise-hearted who participated in its construction.
That is quite a level to achieve, something that can only be the result of hisbatlus—self-annulment—to the point that the will of God matters more to you than your own will, and the well-being of the Jewish people is more important to you than your own well-being. Surely this is what Moshe Rabbaynu exhibited when he asked to have his own name removed from the Torah if God did not forgive the Jewish people.
If so, then leaving Moshe Rabbaynu’s name out of this week’s Parsha may have served two purposes. On one hand it is true, you do not threaten God, even if you are Moshe Rabbaynu and you have His own people’s best interest at heart. However, on the other hand, it is hard to ignore how brave Moshe Rabbaynu had acted in doing so, something that also had to be acknowledged in some way.
It is not unlike the story of Choni HaMagel—Choni the Circle Drawer—told in the Talmud:
It once happened that [during a drought] they petitioned Choni HaMagel, “Pray for rain to fall.”
Choni told them, “Go, bring your Passover ovens indoors so that they should not dissolve.”
Choni prayed, but no rain fell. What did he do? He drew a circle and stood in the middle of it and said to God, “Master of the Universe! Your children turned to me because I am like a member of YOUR household. I swear by YOUR great NAME that I am not moving from here until You have compassion upon Your children!”
Rain began to drizzle.
Choni said, “That’s not what I asked for! I asked for rains to fill the cisterns, trenches, and reservoirs!”
As a result, rain started coming down in torrents.
So Choni added, “That’s not what I asked for either. I asked for good rains, of blessing and generosity.”
A proper rain began to fall, and it continued to fall until it forced the Jews out of Jerusalem up onto the Temple Mount because of the flooding caused by the rains. So they told Choni, “Just as you prayed that the rains should fall, pray now that they should stop.”
He told them, “Go and see if the ‘Stone of Claims’ has dissolved yet.”
Shimon Ben Shetach sent a message to Choni, “If it were not for the fact that you are Choni I would have issued a decree of excommunication against you! But what can I do against you? You are like one who unburdens himself before God and yet He still fulfills your wish, like a child who unburdens himself before his father and yet his father fulfills his wish! ‘Let your father and mother be glad, and let her who bore you rejoice’ (Mishlei 23:25).” (Tanis 19a)
What was Shimon ben Shetach saying? If what Choni did was wrong, why did God fulfill his request, and in such detail? And, if God fulfilled Choni’s request to such an extent, then why did Shimon ben Shetach assume that Choni was out of line, and get so upset at Choni? There seems to be some kind of inconsistency here.
It has to do with protocol. There is a way to relate to God. As the Talmud notes, even in the World-to-Come when man will exist on a much higher spiritual plane and become far more endeared to his Creator, still God will maintain a certain distance, so-to-speak because, after all, God is God. No matter how close man comes to God, he will still be infinitely distant from God since God is infinite. How much more so while man remains in his present unholy state!
Yet, God has soft spot, and it is amazing how much He is prepared to sacrifice His own honor because of it. It is a Jew’s love for his people, and his willingness to sacrifice himself for their well-being. The more he is willing to put himself out for their sake, the more endeared he becomes to their Father-in-Heaven.
This is what the Talmud means when it says that if one is worried about his upcoming judgment on Rosh Hashanah, he should obligate himself to the community. This way, if he lacks sufficient personal merit to survive Divine judgment, the merit of the community will be added to his own personal merit, and push him over the top, so-to-speak.
But, it is more than that. It is the willingness to give of oneself for the sake of the Jewish people that are also being added to his previous merits, and it is a merit that counts for many Mitzvos at one time. For, it shows love of the Jewish people, and by helping the children of God, one not only helps them, but their children as well, and their children after them, etc. The impact of Chessed, especially the teaching of Torah, is incalculable my man, but it is by God, and He adds that to a person’s account.
Nevertheless, there is still protocol, as Shimon ben Shetach pointed out to Choni HaMagel, and God to Moshe Rabbaynu. “You are great,” God told Moshe, “for your willingness to put yourself on the line for your brothers, MY children. But,” He added, “You have to also set an example for others lesser than you, about how they should have the proper respect for ME.”
So, though leaving Moshe Rabbaynu’s name out of this week’s Parsha indicates that you have to be careful how you address God, even if you are on the level of Moshe Rabbaynu and Choni HaMagel, the sod behind the exclusion reveals that if you are sincerely acting on behalf of the Jewish people, all will be forgiven. If, just to repeat, you are sincerely working on behalf of the Jewish people. http://www.torah.org/learning/perceptions/5771/tetzaveh.html More Rabbis and commentators can be found on www.torah.org
21 In the tent of meeting, without the veil which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall set it in order, to burn from evening to morning before the LORD; it shall be a statute forever throughout their generations on the behalf of the children of Israel.
We are all Tumay now and we have no Beis HaMikdash or Menorah to light with non – Tumay Olive Oil. We have physically pure extra virgin olive oil but not ritually pure oil.
28:1 And bring thou near unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that they may minister unto Me in the priest's office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Itamar, Aaron's sons. 2 And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother, for splendor and for beauty.
For the splendor of the glory of the garments will radiate the holiness. Here we have a nation dressed in drab working garments and covering garments. One does not send his flocks out to pasture or milk his cows dress in tuxedos but rather drab working clothes. So in contrast every morning at Shacharis and every evening at Mincha the nation in the wilderness of Sinai would see the Cohanim is these splendid garments and their glory would remind the people of G-D’s eternal glory.
3 And thou shalt speak unto all that are wise-hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they make Aaron's garments to sanctify him, that he may minister unto Me in the priest's office.
Who is wise? – one who sees the birth or end result. These women and male tailors had Ruach HaKodesh within themselves to see the design. Just like Betzalel with the making of the engraven sections and the rest of the Mishkan (including the joining of the tabernacle boards and the way they were to be raised to their final height and anchored in place). If one knows a little about metal and wood work and the engineering of raising and lowering these giant planks of the Mishkan one needs great skills and coordination. The weaving of the garments which is beyond the knowledge and skills of most males not to mention Rabbis needed wisdom. How many of us have ever followed the conversion of flax unto linen or the shearing of the sheep into making wool just ready for the loom. Then comes the other skills designs and measurements. All we do is go into some store and buy a shirt and a pair of pants and shoes for a small amount of cash ignoring the raising of the flax or animal for the wool or leather for the shoe.
4 And these are the garments which they shall make: a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a tunic of checker work, a mitre, and a girdle; and they shall make holy garments for Aaron thy brother, and his sons, that he may minister unto Me in the priest's office.
Ephod was a vest/apron for the Cohain over his checkered tunic. Each Cohain was to have a pair of pants to separate his nudeness from the altar. When the Americans captured Iraq the Israeli Television did not censor an Arab lifting up his robe and yelling this is what I have for you Saddam and exposing himself as it was the custom not to wear anything under the robe. Having pants was modesty and the girdle or belt to separate the heart from the nudeness. Halacha: When one prayers, he needs to have a belt or an elastic band separating his lower body part from the upper body part. Also while on the subject the minimum of the minimum dress for praying (let us say one fell asleep at the beach) is a bathing suit, tee shirt and sandals with some head covering. However, one should dress as one would meet a king or president. Just as one does not appear before the president in a bathing suit or scruffy work clothes so one should appear in descent dress or minimum everyday dress before appearing before the L-RD. The minimum is called B’De’evad (or because it would be lost otherwise – extenuating circumstances) and the second is called Le Chathilla or from the start.
5 And they shall take the gold, and the blue, and the purple, and the scarlet, and the fine linen.
As I wrote above each color represented a different atonement and a different value among the highest heavenly spheres and should be understood by all this way.
6 And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue, and purple, scarlet, and fine twined linen, the work of the skillful workman.
We are not dealing with golden colored thread but pure gold threat mixed with the rare dyes of blue, purple and scarlet. Royalty did not choose purple as the color for regents and kings but rather it was expensive and people under a certain level could not afford it or a thrifty and wise middle class person would not buy it. (Why buy a BMW or Mercedes Car when a Honda or Chevy will do the same job).
7 It shall have two shoulder-pieces joined to the two ends thereof, that it may be joined together. 8 And the skillfully woven band, which is upon it, wherewith, to gird it on, shall be like the work thereof and of the same piece: of gold, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen. 9 And thou shalt take two onyx stones, and grave on them the names of the children of Israel: 10 six of their names on the one stone, and the names of the six that remain on the other stone, according to their birth. 11 With the work of an engraver in stone, like the engravings of a signet, shalt thou engrave the two stones, according to the names of the children of Israel; thou shalt make them to be enclosed in settings of gold. 12 And thou shalt put the two stones upon the shoulder-pieces of the ephod, to be stones of memorial for the children of Israel; and Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD upon his two shoulders for a memorial. 13 And thou shalt make settings of gold; 14 and two chains of pure gold; of plaited thread shalt thou make them, of wreathen work; and thou shalt put the wreathen chains on the settings. 15 And thou shalt make a breastplate of judgment, the work of the skillful workman; like the work of the ephod thou shalt make it: of gold, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, shalt thou make it.
Besides the beautiful garments of the average Cohain, the Cohain Gadol was to have extra garments to help in the atonement and judgement of Am Yisrael. Again combining the quality of the Sefiros such as we do with Gevurah within Chessed (Severity within Mercy) during the counting of the Omer but done automatically by the power of the garments and the right combination of stones in the Chosen Mishpat.
16 Four-square it shall be and double: a span shall be the length thereof, and a span the breadth thereof. 17 And thou shalt set in it settings of stones, four rows of stones: a row of carnelian, topaz, and smaragd shall be the first row; 18 and the second row a carbuncle, a sapphire, and an emerald; 19 and the third row a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; 20 and the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper; they shall be enclosed in gold in their settings. 21 And the stones shall be according to the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names; like the engravings of a signet, every one according to his name, they shall be for the twelve tribes.
The Twelve stones on the breast plate against the twelve tribes and heavenly hosts (Zodiac is implied here) and the names on the two Onyx stones and how they were written is important to the Sefiros (one could not mix the right Onyx and names of tribes with the left for it would sabotage the spiritual power involved).
22 And thou shalt make upon the breastplate plaited chains of wreathen work of pure gold. 23 And thou shalt make upon the breastplate two rings of gold, and shalt put the two rings on the two ends of the breastplate. 24 And thou shalt put the two wreathen chains of gold on the two rings at the ends of the breastplate. 25 And the other two ends of the two wreathen chains thou shalt put on the two settings, and put them on the shoulder-pieces of the ephod, in the forepart thereof. 26 And thou shalt make two rings of gold, and thou shalt put them upon the two ends of the breastplate, upon the edge thereof, which is toward the side of the ephod inward. 27 And thou shalt make two rings of gold, and shalt put them on the two shoulder-pieces of the ephod underneath, in the forepart thereof, close by the coupling thereof, above the skillfully woven band of the ephod. 28 And they shall bind the breastplate by the rings thereof unto the rings of the ephod with a thread of blue, that it may be upon the skillfully woven band of the ephod, and that the breastplate be not loosed from the ephod.
In the Temple, שש and בד ['Shesh' and 'Bad'] were eternal symbols of our duty to trust in G-d, Who created the universe and directs it, Who 'brings low and raises up' (I Sam. 2:7). שש and בד evoke the Shesh [שש also meaning six] from the six days of creation, through which G-d, alone [לבד] and set apart [בדד], created the world.
The purpose of Creation was the Exodus from Egypt. That is, G-d created the world so mankind would know His greatness and might, praise and extol Him, and seek to emulate Him in thought and conduct. The Exodus concretely showed the world G-d's greatness and might, when He withdrew His nation from servitude to a nation from which until then not one slave had managed to escape, and established Israel as the Chosen People who would make known G-d's might to the world.
There is great significance to G-d's having called the ark poles [and, accordingly, the staves of the altar in our Parsha] a בד, ['Bad'] and not a מוט, ['Mot', also meaning stave or pole], because while 'Mot' can mean something that carries, it also connotes falling and collapse, as in, 'The earth trembles and totters ['mot hit'motet']' (Isaiah 24:19); and, 'All the foundations of the earth totter ['yimotu']' (Ps. 82:5). Thus, 'Mot' can mean both ascent and lifting up, as well as falling down. This is the connection between 'Mot' and 'Matah' [מטה] — meaning 'down'. Moreover, the person without strength collapses in bed ['mitah',מיטה]. 'Mavet' [מות] — 'death' — is also tied to 'Mot', for death is permanent collapse.
Thus, every rod fashioned by man to strengthen and support, carry and lift, can ultimately break and collapse. Yet, the rod G-d commanded to be made to carry the ark cannot collapse and break, because it symbolizes the power of G-d, Creator of the Universe, of Whom it says, 'G-d established the earth upon its foundations that it should never ever collapse' (Ps. 104:5); and, 'The world is established. It cannot collapse' (Ps. 93:1).
The ark pole is not a 'Mot' — it cannot collapse. Whoever trusts in what the ark pole represents, G-d's infinite power, will never falter. As it says, 'He will never let the righteous collapse' (Ps. 55:23), and, 'The righteous shall never collapse' (Prov. 10:30). The 'Bad' is not a 'Mot', but the symbol of Divine mastery and monarchy, of the yoke of His kingdom which will never collapse. The 'Mot', on the other hand, symbolizes the yoke of the nations which G-d broke during the first redemption: 'I am the L-rd your G-d Who brought you out from Egypt where you were slaves. I broke the bands of your yoke and led you forth with your heads held high' (Lev. 26:13).
So will G-d break the yoke of the nations in the future, as it says, 'They shall know that I am the L-rd, when I have broken the bands of their yoke and delivered them from those who enslaved them' (Ezek. 34:27).
On the one hand, G-d called the pole a בד 'Bad'. On the other hand, He established for the Kohanim, the holiest segment of the holy nation, linen [בד as well as שש also means linen] garments: 'The Cohain shall put on his linen [בד] garment, and his linen breeches shall he put upon his flesh' (Lev. 6:3). Likewise, on Yom Kippur we find, 'He shall put on the holy linen [בד] tunic, and have linen pants on his body. He must also gird himself with a linen sash and bind his head with a linen turban. They are holy garments'(Lev. 16:4).
We find the same thing when David dances before the ark: 'David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, as were all the Leviim who bore the ark, and the singers... And David had upon him an ephod of linen'(I Chron. 15:27). Metzudas David comments, 'The linen ephod was akin to the ephod of the Cohain Gadol, and was reserved for those who isolate themselves in the service of G-d.'
Precisely when the Cohain Gadol (reminder: Gadol is big, large or high so the meaning is High Priest) is dressed in linen, and precisely when he stands between the ark poles [Badim], the poles of faith and trust in G-d, does the Cohain Gadol perform the Yom Kippur service. The holiest man is Israel on the holiest day in Israel performs the service dressed in linen, as stated above, and standing between the poles [בדים].
Indeed, linen garments were reserved for those isolating themselves in Divine service in the Temple, for they were the symbol of the Master of the Sanctuary Who created His world in six ['Shesh'] days. G-d therefore decreed that His Kohanim must serve Him in linen garb, called 'shesh' [שש].
Following is Or HaChaim: “Israel shall thus dwell securely”: When? When they are alone. “They shall dwell” naturally follows “He shall proclaim, 'Destroy!'” G-d commanded Israel to annihilate every soul of the inhabitants of the land. By doing so, “Israel shall dwell securely, alone [בדד].”
The Jew who believes and trusts in G-d, in בדים, will arrive at truth and faith and tranquility, whereas he who trusts in man, in human strength, will arrive, G-d forbid, at, 'How does the city sit alone'[בדד] (Lam. 1:1).
To our sorrow, those who try to pervert the separatist faith and trust of 'a nation that shall dwell alone [לבדד]' (Num. 23:9) by claiming that it is forbidden to rile up the nations, and that the Jewish People, even when powerful, still depend on the nations, have no faith and distort the whole concept of trust in G-d.
Yet faith and trust in G-d are no small matter. The Jewish People must prove their trust in G-d by difficult, frightening, and sometimes ostensibly dangerous acts, acts that demand of Israel courage, acts which by their very nature show disdain for the non-Jew, anger him and threaten to bring a confrontation between him and Israel, and all must be performed with complete faith and trust that if Israel do what is decreed upon them, then G-d, too, will fulfill what He promised His treasured nation.
We must know and grasp this great principle, which is the key to speedy, magnificent redemption, without suffering or tragedy. A brilliant redemption, in which G-d's promise of “haste” (Isa. 60:22) is fulfilled, will come only when the Jewish People are alone, set apart, in isolation, and trusting fully in G-d to defeat our enemies.
[Dear readers, I'm aware that this Parsha commentary is difficult to follow, especially for those who don't know Hebrew. The commentary is excerpted and compiled from the Chapter 'Faith and Trust' of Rabbi Meir Kahane's book 'The Jewish Idea' and I tried to condense the explanation that the Rav zt”l gives in this chapter. While working at it, it became clear to me that the translation into English itself is part of the problem: it is not really possible to transmit what in Hebrew is an elegant and powerful interpretation based on Hebrew word roots, into English and leave it intact, despite the great, good job that Raphael Blumberg did. And doubtlessly, my 'condensation' obfuscated it further. Someone famous, I forgot who, once said 'A translation is like a kiss through a handkerchief' – probably, a condensed translation is like a folded handkerchief - so, good luck in trying to get the best out of it... Tzipora]
29 And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goes in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the LORD continually.
For Atonement, healing and income.
30 And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Tummim; and they shall be upon Aaron's heart, when he goes in before the LORD; and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the LORD continually. 31 And thou shalt make the robe of the ephod all of blue. 32 And it shall have a hole for the head in the midst thereof; it shall have a binding of woven work round about the hole of it, as it were the hole of a coat of mail that it be not rent. …
The Urim and Tummim were instruments of consultation and have been lost now for over twenty five centuries. We continue on with the colors and materials and then a statement regarding the coronation of the Kahuna and the washing and dressing for the occasion.
40 And for Aaron's sons thou shalt make tunics, and thou shalt make for them girdles, and head-tires shalt thou make for them, for splendor and for beauty. 41 And thou shalt put them upon Aaron thy brother, and upon his sons with him; and shalt anoint them, and consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister unto Me in the priest's office. 42 And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover the flesh of their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach. 43 And they shall be upon Aaron, and upon his sons, when they go in unto the tent of meeting, or when they come near unto the altar to minister in the holy place; that they bear not iniquity, and die; it shall be a statute forever unto him and unto his seed after him.
29:4 And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tent of meeting, and shalt wash them with water. 5 And thou shalt take the garments, and put upon Aaron the tunic, and the robe of the ephod, and the ephod, and the breastplate, and gird him with the skillfully woven band of the ephod. 6 And thou shalt set the mitre upon his head, and put the holy crown upon the mitre. 7 Then shalt thou take the anointing oil, and pour it upon his head, and anoint him. 8 And thou shalt bring his sons, and put tunics upon them. 9 And thou shalt gird them with girdles, Aaron and his sons, and bind head-tires on them; and they shall have the priesthood by a perpetual statute; and thou shalt consecrate Aaron and his sons.
Halachos from Danny Shoemann
The Torah commands us to put a Mezuza on all our doorposts except for washrooms. The Mezuza needs to be affixed to the top third of the doorpost - but not in the top 1 Tefach (~9 cm; 3.5"). Every Mezuza needs to be checked twice in seven years. A Mezuza on public buildings only needs to be checked twice in 50 years. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 11:5,17,25 ==> Some have the custom of checking their Mezuzos during Adar-I; this is slightly more frequent than twice in seven years, but it's easy to remember.
One may not divert trouble if it will then go to a fellow Jew. However, before the damage arrives, one may protect oneself from being damaged, even if somebody else may suffer as a result. For example: If a river overflows into one's garden, one may not divert nor drain it, in a manner that will then flood a neighbor's garden. However, before the river arrives near one's property, one is allowed to create a barrier, even if it would then go to a neighbor should it overflow, since the neighbors could also protect themselves beforehand. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 183:2
The "five grains" are wheat, barley, spelt, oats and rye. Grain that was planted and started taking root before the first day Chol HaMoed Pessach may be eaten immediately - and is called "Yashan" (old). Grain that took root thereafter is "Chadash" (new) and may not be eaten until after the 2nd day Chol HaMoed Pessach of the coming year. This presents a problem for food made from grain that was harvested recently. In Israel, Chol HaMoed Pessach starts on 16th Nissan, in the Diaspora on the 17th Nissan.
According to all opinions, the Torah prohibition of eating Chadash applies to grain grown on Jewish land. There is a minority opinion that Chadash does not apply to grain grown in the Diaspora on non-Jewish land; the custom is to rely on this opinion in emergency. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 172:1-3
According to most opinions on 7 Adar (Friday) will be the Yahrzeit of our teacher Moses - Moshe Rabbaynu. Many Jewish Burial Societies [Chevra Kaddisha] have their annual meeting that day, including fasting and special prayers. Halachos related to Moshe Rabbaynu: When babies start talking one should teach them the verse "תּוֹרָה צִוָּה-לָנוּ, משֶׁה. מוֹרָשָׁה, קְהִלַּת יַעֲקב" and Shema Yisrael...", after ensuring that they are clean while being taught. Moshe Rabbaynu went up to Har-Sinai to get the 2nd set of tablets on a Thursday and came down on a Monday, which is why these 2 days are auspicious for praying - and we therefore add the long "Vehu Rachum" prayer before Tachanun on these 2 days. There's a limit as to how long one may mourn a deceased - but even for a great Torah scholar one may not mourn longer than 30 days, as nobody can be greater than our teacher Moshe for whom it is stated "and they mourned Moshe for 30 days". Sources: Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 58:2, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 165:10, 22:9, 215:1
The Minchag (custom) is to celebrate with fruit and drinks on the Friday night before a baby boy's Brit Mila. This party is a Seudas Mitzva (and is called a Shalom-Zachor)
There is also a custom to gather in the baby's house the night before the Brit and to learn Torah. The meal served at this event (known as a Brit Yitzchak) is not a Se'udat Mitzva. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 163:8 Shabbat Shalom- Danny
Sick Sect shunned by even the most Charedi Rabbis: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4021877,00.html
From Beth: We know that the first Beis HaMikdash was destroyed in the year 3338 according to all the opinions. Could it be that the wrong non-Jewish year is a big lie like the world lies about us today or did the Romans knock us for such a loop?
Did the Babylonians destroy Jerusalem in the year 586 BCE? By Moshe Cohen
Whenever money is mentioned in the bible, it is always referred to silver or gold as being weighed out on the scale but not an actual coin. The Hebrew monetary unit, the Shekel, literally translates as "weighed". When Abraham purchases the cave of Machpelah in Hebron, he weighs out the silver to Ephron the Hittite "and Abraham weighed out the silver to Ephron four hundred Shekels" (Genesis 23:14). Even as late as the time of the destruction of the first temple by the Babylonians, we come across the prophecy of Jeremiah where God tells Jeremiah to purchase land for the future serving as a testimony that Israel will be rebuilt again. Jeremiah indeed purchases land and "weighs" out the seven and a half Shekels in silver (Jeremiah 32:9-10).
However, during the Babylonian exile when the Jews were granted permission to return from Babylon to Israel, we find in Ezra that money was pledged by the people and for the first time ever the money is an actual coin. The earliest coins ever to be found in Israel date to the mid-6th century BCE, the result of an occasional import by the merchants or conquering Assyrian soldiers but coinage was not the norm of trade during the kingdom of ancient Israel. Coinage was invented in Asia minor sometimes during the mid 7th century BCE, you can learn more about the history of money at my page www.clickacoin.com
This coin http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=429282701063&set=a.414112546063.208645.684646063 , is considered one of the, if not the earliest coin of Israel. It was issued by the Persians after the fall of Babylonia and has been numismatically dated to the 4th century BCE = 400 - 333 BCE, however, 370 - 312 BCE would be a more accurate date for this coin since this is a Persian issue. The year 370 BCE, is the year when Judea came under Persian control while the year 312 BCE, is the year when the Judea came under Greek dominion. When Alexander the great took control of the holy land from the Persians, a new regnal year began. According to the Talmud, this has occurred after 58 years of Persian rule and not after 204 years of Persian rule as is generally believed in secular history
This regnal counting after Alexander the great, is called in Hebrew "shtarot" which somehow survived into the 21st century but is mainly used on marriage contracts and private deeds in addition to the common Hebrew year. The year 2322 of Shtarot is the common year 2010. 2010 minus 2322 = 312 minus, or 312 BCE. Alexander the great, continued the issuance of these coins http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=208645&id=684646063#!/photo.php?fbid=429283871063&set=a.414112546063.208645.684646063 but with his own image in place of the Persian lily. The reverse was replaced with the eagle of zeus instead of the Persian falcon.
Alexander's successor's likewise continued these issues with their own images http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=208645&id=684646063#!/photo.php?fbid=429283881063&set=a.414112546063.208645.684646063&pid=5606621&id=684646063 .
In order to date this coin properly, we need to consider the following:
1) If Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 BCE like most historians believe, than why did the Persians decide to issue coins for Judea only 150 years later when the Bible explicitly states that Zerubbabel carried the Jewish people's donations of 61,000 gold Darics (a Persian gold coin) back with him to Jerusalem (Ezra 2: 69) ?
2) Why were there no Darics or Siglos (Persian shekel same as Daric but in silver) ever found in Israel in significant amount (if any at all) if these were introduced in 516 BCE ?
The year 516 BCE, the year that historians believe was the year Zerubabel returned to Jerusalem carrying with him the above mentioned amount in gold coin that were donated by the Jewish people, is highly unlikely to impossible from a numismatic standpoint. Any student of numismatics will tell you that the Daric and Siglos evolved from the coinage of Croesus after the fall of Lydia at the hands of the Persians intended to replace the Croeseids but not as a Persian coin to be used in Persia proper during the 6th century BCE. One must bear in mind that, the 61,000 gold Darics that Zerubbael carried with him from Babylonia, were pledged to him by the people's money (Ezra chapter 2 verse 69) from circulation "the coin of the day". These coins were not given to Zerubabel by the Persian authority who happened to have gold coins from Lydia that were not in circulation in Persia at the time. The Daric and Siglos are mainly discovered in the area of ancient Lydia (western Asia minor - modern day western Turkey), all others that are found outside the Lydian vicinity, date to the 4th century BCE when Persia finally adopted the idea of coinage.
To state that the year 586 BCE is the year Nabu khuddu nusru (Nebuchadnezzar) destroyed Jerusalem, is in direct contradiction with the Bible. Any scholar who could state that the year 586 BCE was the year when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians, is simply deeming the Bibles figures to be incorrect or perhaps the more convenient excuse of "the slip of a pen". Finally, we should now confront this issue from another angle and that is paleography. Paleography is the study of ancient handwriting and practice of deciphering to read historical manuscripts. The script on these coins have puzzled paleographer's dealing quite an amount of confusion with an early script on a later coin. The dating of ancient Hebrew scripts should be reconsidered as well if the Bible is to be taken into account.
The late Nahman Avigad, a leading Israeli paleographer, agreed that a certain unique Yehud coin http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=429280011063&set=a.414112546063.208645.684646063 and which has been dated to no earlier than 380 - 360 BCE, is inscribed with a 5th century "archaic Aramaic lapidary script". However puzzling, it could not be dated earlier since the characteristics and features point to a 4th century coin aside from the presence of the "archaic Aramaic lapidary script". In light of this coin, the dating of ancient Hebrew scripts as well as many important historical events deserves to be seriously reconsidered.
There is a rebuttal and I have leave the reader with preference. Since our tradition is as above I can leave it only to speculation as to the truth.
CHRONOLOGY OF THE PERSIAN KINGS DURING THE SECOND TEMPLE PERIOD
ELIHU A. SCHATZ
Herein is presented a straight-forward solution to the well known problem of the discrepancy between the traditional dates for the Persian period and the data from historical sources outside the bible. This solution is an update of previous presentations by the author1,2,3.
According to tradition, the Second Temple lasted for 420 years (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Yoma 9a), and the Persian domination lasted 52 years4 or 34 years5. Yet according to well documented extra-biblical history the Persian period lasted 208 years (from 539 to 331 BCE) and the Second Temple lasted for 585 years (from 516 BCE to 70 CE). Thus the traditional dating. which is based on biblical data is shorter by about 165 years than that obtained from extra-biblical sources. Furthermore, according to tradition a Darius the Mede ruled for about one year before Cyrus6, although such a Darius is unknown in Persian history. In addition, King Ahasuerus. who ruled over the Persian empire from India to Ethiopia (Est 1:1) is unknown in Persian history. Many historians identify Ahasuerus with Xerxes I (485-465), but this is unacceptable because Mordechai would have had to be over 124 years old at the time of the Purim event (in the 12th year of Ahasuerus), since Mordechai was exiled from Judea in 597 BCE (Est. 2:5-6).
These sharp disagreements have created much disrespect for biblical accuracy, and have suggested that the biblical authors were ignorant of world history. In actuality, however, the biblical data are correct. It will presently be shown that by simple reinterpretation of the texts it is possible to obtain exact agreement between the biblical data and world history.
The relevant dates for the Persian kings7 are presented for reference in Table 1. To minimize confusion, there are included in the Table, in accordance with the identifications proposed in this article, the different names by which these Persian kings have been called. The presented dates are considered highly reliable; at most there are uncertainties of two years. The two main sources for the chronology of the Persian empire are: A) the canon of the Greek historian Ptolemy; and B) the reckoning on tablets8. In general, the reckoning of the Persian regnal years was from the first of Nisan after a king`s accession. Months or days prior to the first Nisan of his reign were reckoned as beginning of kingship. The reigns in Table 1 do not include the year of accession, except where the reign was less than a year.
TABLE 1. DATES FOR THE KINGS OF THE PERSIAN EMPIRE
USUAL NAMES PERSIAN OR HEBREW NAMES DATES BIBLICAL REFERENCES
0THER NAMES (BCE)
CYRUS II KURUSH 'כורש ב 559-530 Dan. 1:21; 6:29; 10:1. Ezr. 1:1-2,
CYRUS THE GREAT KURASH 538-530 7-8; 3:7; 4:3,5; 5:13,14,17; 6:3,14.
II Chr. 36:22-23. Isa. 44:28; 45:1.
CAMBYSES II KAMBUJIYA כמבוזי 529-522
ארתחששתא Ezr. 4:7,8,11,23; 6:14
BARDIYA BARDIYA ברדיה 522
PSEUDO-SMERDIS TANYOXARCES פסבדו-סמרדיס
AHASUERUS VISHTASPA אחשוורוש 531-518 Dan. 9:1. Ezr. 4:6. Est. 1:1,2,9,10,
HYSTASPES הישטספס 15-17,19; 2:1,12,16,21; 3:1,6-8; 6:2;
וישטספה 7:5; 8:1,7,10,12; 9:2,20,30; 10:1,3.
DARIUS I DARAYAVAUSH 'דריוש א 521-486 Hag. 1:1,15; 2:10. Zech. 1:1,7; 7:1.
DARIUS THE MEDE דריוש המדי Dan. 6:1,2,7,10,26,29; 9:1; 11:1.
DARIUS THE GREAT Ezr. 4:5,24; 5:5-7; 6:1,12-15.
XERXES I KHSHAYARSHA 'כסרכסס א 485-465
ARTAXERXES I ARTAKHSHATRA ארתאכסרסס א 464-424
LONGIMANUS ARTAKSHATSU לונגימנוס
DARIUS II DARAYAVAUSH 'דריוש ב 423-404
DARIUS THE PERSIAN דריוש הפרסי Neh. 12:22.
ARTAXERXES II ARTAKHSHATRA 'ארתאכסרסס ב 403-359
MNEMON ARTAKSHATSU מנימון Ezr. 7:1,7,11,12,21; 8:1.
ארתחשסתא Neh. 2:1; 5:14; 13:6.
ARTAXERXES III ARTAKHSHATRA 'ארתאכסרסס ג 358-338
OCHUS ARTAKSHATSU אוכוס
ARSES ARSHA ארסס 337-336
DARIUS III DARAYAVAUSH 'דרויש ג 335-331
REASON FOR DISAGREEMENT OF TRADITIONAL DATES FROM THOSE OF WORLD HISTORY
The traditional dating which ascribed 420 years for the Second Temple is probably based on the passage in Dan 9 24-27 concerning seventy shavuim. A common interpretation is that the period referred to is 70 weeks of years, i.e. 70 x 7 = 490 years. Seventy of the years are asssumed to refer to the Babylonian exile, leaving 420 years for the duration of the Second Temple. However, this interpretation is incorrect since it cannot accurately explain many of the specified subdivisions, such as 7 and 62 shavuim. In my commentary on the book of Daniel9 I have shown that the word shavuim really designates a 49 year span, and the 70 shavuim have no direct connection with the period of the Second Temple. Hence there is no biblical evidence for the duration of the Second Temple.
Inaccurate knowledge by the Jews of the history of the Persians helped to support the 420 year period, which is 165 years shorter than the actual duration of about 585 years for the Second Temple. By coincidence the figure of 165 years is close to the time-span between Darius I and Darius III, who both had the same name and were both defeated twice by the Greeks. The rule of Darius I ended in 486, and that of Darius III in 331, an interval of 155 years. By simply shortening the period of Persian domination by this amount it was possible to obtain a chronology for the Second Temple that was fairly correct in most other details. Thus, Seder Olam Zuta (chapter 7) states that the Greeks started ruling in the 52nd year of Persia. From 538, when Cyrus began his first year of rule over Judea, until 486, when the reign of Darius I ended, is 52 years. Since Darius I and Darius III were mistakenly aassumed to be the same person, this brings the chronology to the Greek period.
Another similar case where two different Persian kings have been assumed to be the same person occurs for Cambyses II and Artaxerxes II. In the Book of Ezra, as explained subsequently, Cambyses is called Artachshast (ארתחששתא) while Artaxerxes II is called the almost identical name Artachshaste (ארתחשסתא). The time difference between the end of the reign of Cambyses (522) and the end of the reign of Artaxerxes II (359) is 163 years. The identification of Cambyses with Artaxerxes II again fitted in to the incorrect shortening of the Persian period.
The above discussion shows that the traditional chronology is incorrect, and is based on erroneous interpretation. Apparently, inadequate records were kept in Judea of the Persian rulers and their length of reign during the period of the Second Temple. In the ensuing paragraphs a modified interpretation of the biblical information will be presented. which will agree with historical sources in all details. It will thus be shown that the biblical chronology is correct, although the usual interpretations of it have been wrong.
IDENTIFICATION OF DARIUS THE MEDE WITH DARIUS I
Let us first establish that Darius the Mede, mentioned in Dan 6:1; 9:1; 11:1 is the same ruler as Darius I, rather than a king unknown to Persian history. The main problem with this identification is that in Dan 6:1 it is stated:
ודריוש מדאה קבל מלכותא כבר שנין שתין ותרתין
The word כבר is usually interpreted to mean of about the age. Then the sentence is translated: And Darius the Mede received the kingdom when about sixty-two years old. From the history of Herodotus (I. 209) we know that Darius I was about 20 at the time of the death of Cyrus, and therefore about 28 when he began to rule. Based on the translation of the word כבר as of about the age it is obvious that Darius the Mede is not Darius I. However, if we translate the word כבר to mean already, then the sentence can be translated: And Darius the Mede received the kingdom already in the 62nd year (from the end of the independent rule of the Kingdom of Judea in 584 BCE). This indicates that Darius the Mede became king of Persia in 522 BCE, which is in full agreement with the accepted historical date for the accession of Darius I.
The setting of 584 (rather than 586 when Judea was conquered by Nebuchadnezzar) as the date of the end of the independent rule of the Kingdom of Judea is based on Zech 7:1,5. There the 70 years of mourning during the fifth and seventh months are completed in the fourth year of Darius, which as explained subsequently, was the year 514; since according to the tanakh the independent rule of Darius I began in 518. Thus, the mourning began in 583, the year after the end of the independent rule of Judea. There are in the book of Daniel9(7:18; 10:2; 12:7) three other cases for which the dates are based on 584 BCE and not 586 BCE.
IDENTIFICATION OF AHASUERUS WITH HYSTASPES
According to Dan 9:1, Darius the Mede was the son of Ahasuerus. Similarly it is known from the Behiston inscription and Herodotus (III, 70) that Darius I was the son of Hystaspes. Since we have shown that Darius the Mede is none other than Darius I, we must also conclude that Ahasuerus is none other than Hystaspes.
This identification is supported by our knowledge about these two persons. Ahasuerus was a ruler of Persia (Est 1:1), was a contemporary of Mordechai who was exiled from Judea in 597 (Est 2:5-6) and ruled sometime after Cyrus and before Darius I (Ezra 4:5-6). Analogously, Hystaspes ruled the provinces of Bactria and Hyrcania under Cyrus, and as shown in the Behiston inscription10, he ruled over Parthia and Hyrcania under Darius I.
Certain similarities between the reigns of Ahasuerus and Darius are to be noted. Ahasuerus ruled from India to Kush (Est 1:1; 8:9), and Darius ruled from Scythia to Kush and from India to Sardis11. Also we find in Dan. 6:2 that Darius appointed 120 satraps to rule his kingdom. This number is almost identical to the 127 districts over which Ahasuerus ruled (Est 1:1). Although Herodotus (III, 90-95) divides the Persian empire into only 20 provinces, he then enumerates about 70 subdivisions that paid taxes, and implies that other subdivisions exist. Thus the number given by Herodotus does not contradict the biblical number of 120.
According to the Behiston inscription there was a double line of kings which sprang from Teispes, king of Anshan. The lines of descent are as follows12:
3. Cyrus I 5. Ariaramnes
4. Cambyses I 6. Arsames
7. Cyrus II (the great) Hystaspes
8. Cambyses II 9. Darius I
Both Cyrus II and Hystapes were great-grandchildren of Teispes and were of the royal line. Cyrus was originally known as king of Anshan, but after his conquests of 546 he was referred to as King of Persia. In contrast, Hystaspes was never the sole ruler of Persia, although as a satrap he may on occasion have been designated as king. At the end of the reign of Cambyses II, son of Cyrus, there arose a pretender to the throne, Pseudo-Smerdis. Hystaspes recognized that it was the time for him to assert his claim to the throne. However, Hystaspes was too old to fight for the crown, and therefore he had his son Darius I fight and gain the rulership. It was after the death of Cambyses that Darius I, who had been spear-bearer to Cambyses in Egypt, hastened to Media to press his claim to the throne13. Probably Darius I was also known as Darius the Mede because his original start as ruler was in Media. Moreover, it is clearly stated that he was from the Median line (Dan 9:1). Once Darius I became king, his father Hystaspes (Ahasuerus) gained an almost equivalent position, as attested to by Est 1:1; 8;9. Support for the contention that Ahasuerus was never the main king is given in Ezra 4:5-7. There, Cyrus, Darius, and Artachshast are all separately denoted as kings of Persia, while Ahasuerus is not mentioned with this title. Also, the fact that Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, did not respond to the written accusations against the Jews possibly indicates that at that time he had little power to act on this matter. However, after Darius became king, Ahasuerus was a co-regent, as attested by Est 5:3; 7:2, where Ahasuerus promised up to half the kingdom, the limit of his power, to Esther.
Based on the above identification of Ahasuerus with Hystaspes, it is possible to specify the approximate years of his reign as 531-518, and his accession year as 532. Originally, in 532, Hystaspes became a satrap under Cyrus. In 530 (or 529) Cyrus died, and Hystaspes gained in power under the rulership of Cambyses. Therefore, Hystaspes held a grand party in 529 to celebrate his third year of rule (Est 1:3). Later, some time after the seventh year of reign (Est 2:16), possibly in the tenth year, i.e. 522, there was a plot against the life of Ahasuerus (Est 2:21). At this time Cambyses was in Egypt, and Pseudo-Smerdis, a pretender to the throne, arose and claimed to be the rightful king, son of Cyrus. Filled with apprehension lest his true identity be revealed, Pseudo-Smerdis slew many who had known the true Smerdis14. Now, Hystaspes, as adviser to Cyrus, must have known the true Smerdis, and it is therefore possible that this was the reason for the attempt on the life of Hystaspes.
In 521, the eleventh year of Hystaspes, Darius was considered King of Persia, and therefore his father Hystaspes, who was satrap over Shushan, also acquired equivalent power (Est 5:3). Then in 520, at the beginning of the 12th year of Hystaspes (Est 3:7), it was possible for Haman, the Agagite, with the consent of Hystaspes, to try to destroy the Jews in the entire Persian empire (Est 3:6-15). Because of Esther’s intervention, it turned out instead that Haman was hanged (Est 7:10), and the Jews were given permission to fight for their lives (Est 8:11). On the 13th and 14th of the 12th month the Jews succeeded in defeating their enemies (Est 9:1-18).
The actual event of Purim is similarly described on the Behiston inscription. It is there written how, in one of the first years of Darius I (ca. 520), a man named Martius, from the Persian city Cyganaca, arose in the state of Susiana. He said, I am Imanes King of Susiana. Then the people of Susiana, fearing Darius, seized Martius and slew him. Subsequently, a revolt in Parthia and Hyrcania, was suppressed by Hystaspes on the 22nd day of Viyakhana (the 12th month)15.
The above description corresponds to the events described in the Book of Esther. Thus, Shushan is either Susiana or Susa, Haman is Imanes (which is written by some authors as Ummanish or Umman), and Agag is Cyganaca. The hanging of Haman corresponds to the slaying of Imanes by the people. The later revolt against Hystaspes involved the battle by the Jews in defending their lives. The discrepancy between the 14th day and the 22nd day of the 12th month may be accounted for on the assumption that the complete suppression of the revolt lasted 8 days over that described in the Book of Esther.
It should be noted that the date of the Imanes uprising is considered to be 520 according to the opinion that all events in the first four columns of the Behiston inscription occurred in the same year or at most 17 months after Darius’ accession to kingship16.
IDENTIFICATION OF MORDECHAI WITH ZOROASTER
We have established that Ahasuerus is none other than Hystaspes. As a consequence we can also conclude that Mordechai, the second to King Ahasuerus (Est 10:3) is identical with Zoroaster, the advisor to King Hystaspes (Vishtaspa).
Although there is some question as to whether the Hystaspes who was patron of Zoroaster is the same as the father of Darius I, several points establish the identity. Firstly, no earlier Hystaspes is known in Persian history. Secondly, the writer Ammianus Marcellinus of Antioch (Amm xxiii 6,32) quite clearly makes this identification. Thirdly, Darius I, son of Hystaspes, was the first main king to worship Ahura Mazda, the god of whom Zoroaster preached. Other worshippers were his immediate successors, Xerxes I and Artaxerxes I17.
Zoroaster was the founder of the religion known as Zoroastrianism. Although his teachings developed into a dualistic religion, Zoroaster originally taught the belief in one god named Ahura Mazda18. The name Zoroaster is the corrupt Greek form of the Iranian Zarathustra, and of the new Persian Zardushi19. Note the similarity of the name Zardushi with the Hebrew name Mordechai. Furthermore, we know that Zoroaster was not a native of Persia, for he complained that he was persecuted in his homeland and had to flee20. Similarly, Mordechai was exiled from Jerusalem at the time of the exile of Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) (Est 2:5-6).
The traditional date assigned to Zoroaster is 258 years before Alexander the Great (336-323). In addition, Zoroaster is said to have lived 77 years20.This information makes the dates for Zoroaster from 594 to 518. From the Book of Esther, and the previous discussion concerning Hystaspes, we can set the dates for Mordechai from 597 when exiled from Judea (Est 2 10), and perhaps a few years later when he arrived in Persia, until 518, the approximate end of the reign of Hystaspes. Thus, within the accuracy of the available data, the dates for Mordechai and Zoroaster are identical.
Furthermore, according to the Avesta, the bible of Zoroastrianism, Zoroaster found a woman who accepted him and believed in his mission. She was Hutaosa, consort of Vishtaspa, and was intermediary in winning over the king21. This description corresponds exactly to that of Queen Esther (Est 2:5-20; 8:1-2). Her other name Hadassah (Est 2:7) is almost a perfect transliteration of Hutaosa.
There are numerous similarities between Judaism and Zoroastrianism. Zoroaster taught that there was only one god, Ahura Mazda, who created heaven, earth and mankind. (The name Ahura Mazda may possibly be a transliteration of the Hebrew term Makom Aher (מקום אחר), meaning another place, used by Mordechai to refer to God (Est 4:14)). Opposing Ahura Mazda was an antagonist who may be compared to the Satan of Judaism. Worship of images was forbidden by both Judaism and Zoroastrianism. A tendency towards the formation of an organized angelic hierarchy, and reward and punishment after death, are common to both religions. However, years after the death of Zoroaster, the religion developed into a dualistic belief and involved many deities, so that the original purity of the teachings of Zoroaster were completely corrupted22,23.
We find in Est 8:17 the statement that many of the Persian leaders converted to Judaism at the time of Mordechai because the fear of the Jews fell upon them. Thus we may assume that Zoroastrianism originally arose as a form of Judaism, and only later did the religion become corrupted by the Persians. In this regard, it should be noted that Darius I promulgated a law that everyone in his kingdom should worship the God of Daniel (Dan 6:27-28), because He is everlasting, delivers and saves people, and performs wonders in the heaven and on earth. We also know from Persian history that Darius I was an adherent of Zoroastrianism. Hence, this information supports the contention that Zoroastrianism was originally a form of Judaism.
IDENTIFICATION OF PERSIAN KINGS MENTIONED IN THE BIBLE
In addition to Cyrus, Darius the Mede, and Ahasuerus, there are several other Persian kings mentioned in the Tanach. These kings are Artachshast (ארתחששתא) (Ezra 4:7; 6:14); Artachshaste (ארתחשסתא) (Ezra 7:1,11; 8:1; Neh 2:1; 5:14; 13:6); and Darius the Persian (Neh 12:22). Note that the two different kings, Artachshast and Artachshaste, are here spelled slightly differently to correspond to the slightly different Hebrew spellings. Usually these names are mistakenly considered to refer to the same king.
From Ezra 4:5-7,23-24 it is obvious that Artachshast was a king of Persia who ruled after Cyrus (538-530) and before Darius I (521-486). The only rulers who fit these limitations are Cambyses (529-522) and Pseudo-Smerdis (522). Most probably Artachshast is Cambyses, since the term in the days of (Ezra 4:7) is used, implying that Artachshast ruled more than one year. Furthermore, if the name Artachshast represented Pseudo-Smerdis, there would be a gap of 8 years during the reign of Cambyses which would not be accounted for. In contrast, Pseudo-Smerdis ruled less than one year, and the omission of his name would not be unexpected.
In Ezra 6:14 it is stated that Artachshast supported the building of the Second Temple, which seems to contradict Ezra 4. However, in Ezra 4, Artachshast only stopped the building of the city of Jerusalem (Ezra 4:21). Based on the king’s edict, the enemies of the Jews then forcefully stopped the Temple construction. Alternatively, the support for the Temple construction stated in Ezra 6, refers to the early part of Artachshast’s reign, before he suspended the building effort.
Mention of Darius the Persian occurs in Neh 12:22. This Darius is obviously not Darius I, since we have previously established that the king called Darius the Mede is Darius I. Nor can he be Darius III (335-331), since Darius III was after Artaxerxes II; and as we will presently show that Artaxerxes II was the king at the time of Ezra and Nehemiah when the Book of Ezra-Nehemiah was completed. Furthemore, if Darius the Persian were Darius III then we would also expect mention of Alexander the Great, a more renowned contemporary. Since there were only three Persian kings named Darius, we must conclude that Darius the Persian must be Darius II (423-404).
It should also be noted that in Neh 12:22, where Darius the Persian is mentioned, it is also stated that Johanan was one of the high priests. Thus, the sentence there states according to a possible translation from the Hebrew:
The Levites in the days of Eliashib were Joiada, Johanan and Jaddua, who were recorded as heads of fathers’ houses; and these priests were at the time of the reign of Darius the Persian. Now, from a papyrus from Elephantine, we learn that the high priest Johanan was at the time of Darius II24. Hence, Darius the Persian must be identical to Darius II.
The Artachshaste mentioned in Ezra-Nehemiah (Ezra 7:1,7,11,12,21; 8:1; Neh 2:1; 5:14; 13:6) must correspond to King Artaxerxes II (403-359), and not to Artaxerxes I (464-424). From Neh 13:6 we learn that Artachshaste ruled for more than 32 years. This fact alone limits the identification to the only two Persian kings after Darius I who had such a long reign, namely Artaxerxes I (465-424) and Artaxerxes II (403-359). Artaxerxes I is however eliminated since we find mention of Darius the Persian (i.e. Darius II) in the book of Nehemiah (12:22). Now Darius II (423-404) was after Artaxerxes I, and Artachshaste was still ruler when the Book of Nehemiah was completed. Hence Artachshaste cannot be Artaxerxes I, but must be Artaxerxes II.
Support for the identification of Artachshaste with Artaxerxes II comes from comparison of the available information about these rulers. Artachshaste was sympathetic to Ezra, and supplied him with a letter of rescript and all his requests (Ezra 7:6,11-26); and was sympathetic to Nehemiah, and supplied him with official letters and armed soldiers (Neh 2 9). Similarly, Artaxerxes II was known to be mild in temperament, good natured, affectionate and well meaning. Incapable of resisting entreaty, he granted gifts which he should have refused and condoned offenses which it would have been proper to punish25.
In the 20th year of Artachshaste (384), Nehemiah hears that Jerusalem was invaded, Jews captured, the walls of Jerusalem broken, and the gates set afire (Neh 1:1-3). Similarly, between 391 and 379 disaffection and revolt were exhibited by Cyprus, Phoenicians, Cilicians, Carians, and the Idumaen Arabs26.
During the 32nd year of Artachshaste (372), Nehemiah returned to Persia from Judea (Neh 13:6). At about that time, in 372, it was necessary for Artaxerxes II to prepare an imperial rescript prescribing the terms on which the existing hostilities among the Greeks should cease27. Some factor connected with this event could possibly have been the reason for the return of Nehemiah to Persia.
From Neh 2:2 we learn that Artachshaste was afraid of treachery in his court. We also know that the court of Artaxerxes II was a scene of horrors and atrocities. Parysatis, the queen-mother, was its presiding spirit; and the long catalogue of her cruel and bloody deeds is alnost without a parallel. The members of the royal household became the special objects of jealousy to one another, family affection had disappeared; and executions, assassinations, and suicides decimated the royal stock26.
There is the unusual statement in Neh 2:6 that the queen (שגל) was sitting near the king. The statement becomes significant if we assume that the queen-mother, rather than the queen, is meant. Now, Parysatis, the queen-mother had poisoned Statira, the original queen, in 400, because of jealousy of Statira’s influence over the king. Artaxerxes II was horrified and banished Parysatis, but soon she was back at the court28. The mention in the text of the presence of the queen-mother in the court implies that she was an extra obstacle for Nehemiah to overcome in order to obtain the king’s approval.
A few additional passages related to Persian kings, found in the Book of Daniel, have often been misinterpreted and need to be explained. In Dan 11:2 it is stated that there will be three additional Persian kings, and then the fourth king will be much richer. The three kings are to be counted from after Cyrus (Dan 10:1), and are Cambyses, Pseudo-Smerdis and Darius I. The fourth king is Xerxes who is known to have amassed much wealth.
The phrase in Dan 1:21 that Daniel was until the first year of King Cyrus informs us that Daniel was of importance under Babylonian rule from the time of King Nebuchadnezzar until the conquest of Babylonia by Cyrus in 539. The phrase was not meaant to say anything concerning how long Daniel lived, since we know he lived much longer, till at least 517 (Dan 9:1). The similar expression in Dan 6:29, stating that Daniel was successful during the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian, means that Daniel was successful not only during Darius’ reign, but also previously during the reign of Cyrus. There was no intention in the text to indicate that Darius preceded Cyrus, contrary to the actual history.
From Zech 1:7,12 we learn that the second year of Darius I corresponds to 70 years after the destruction of the Temple in 586. This correlation is equivalent to stating that the first year of the reign of Darius is 517. However, from historical records we know that the first year of Darius is 521. We must therefore say that the Bible considers the years of Darius to begin with 517, because it is the first year of the sole rule of Darius after the death of his father Hystaspes in 518. On this basis the date for the erection of the foundation of the Second Temple is 516 (Hag 2:10.18), marking the end of the 70 years since the destruction of the Temple. Completion of construction of the Temple occurred four years later in the sixth year of Darius (Ezr 6:15), i.e. in 512
The dates for the rulership by Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah can now be specified. Zerubbabel ruled from the first year of Cyrus (Ezr 1:1) until the 7th year of Darius I (Ezr 6:15,19). Therefore he ruled from 538 to 511. Ezra acted as ruler from the 7th year of Artaxerxes II (Ezr 7:7) until the arrival of Nehemiah in the 21st year of Artaxerxes II (Neh 1:1; 2:1; 8:1). Therefore he ruled from 397 until 383. He was, however, still of importance several years afterwards (Neh 12:36). Nehemiah was the governor of Judea from the 21st year of Artaxerxes II (Neh 1:1; 2:1; 6:15) until at least the 33rd year of Artaxerxes II (Neh 13:6,23). Therefore he ruled from 383 until about 370. \
SUMMARY OF KEY DATES
In Table 2 are summarized the dates for the key events relevant to the Second Temple. These dates are mainly concerned with events referred to in the Bible, and most of which have previously been explained. It should be noted that the time gap from the approximate end of the govenorship by Zerubbabel (511) until the beginning of the leadership by Ezra (397) is 114 years; and they are definitely not contemporary as often assumed according to Jewish traditional interpretation. We thus notice that the Tanach supplies practically no details as to what happened and who were the leaders during the first hundred years after construction of the Second Temple.
TABLE 2. KEY DATES CONCERNING THE SECOND TEMPLE
Mordechai (Zoroaster) in Persia 594-518
Destruction of First Temple 586
Seventy years during which Temple lay in ruins 586-516
Reign of Cyrus 559-530
Cyrus conquered Babylon 539
Edict by Cyrus permitting return to Judea 538
Zerubbabel governor of Judea 538-511
Reign of Ahasuerus (Hystaspes) 531-518
Reign of Darius I (Darius the Mede) 521-486
Year of Purim event; Haman (Imanes) killed 520
First year of Darius I according to Biblical data 517
Start of construction of Second Temple 516
Second Temple completed 512
585 year duration of the Second Temple 516BCE-70CE
Reign of Darius II (Darius the Persian) 423-404
Reign of Artaxerxes II 403-359
Ezra comes to Judea from Babylon 397
Ezra acts as leader 397-383
Nehemiah comes to Judea from Shushan 383
Nehemiah serves as governor of Judea 383-370
1. E.A. Schatz, Proof of the Accuracy of the Bible, (Middle Village, N.Y., Jonathan David, 1973) pp. 93-107.
2. E.A. Schatz, Correctness of Biblical Chronology, (Tel-Aviv, Alef, 1986), pp. 128-149 (in Hebrew).
3. E.A. Schatz, Commentary by Elihu on Five Megillot, (Hashmonaim, by the author, 2003), pp. 114-118, (in Hebrew).
4. Seder Olam Zuta, Chapter 7.
5. Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Avodah Zarah, p. 9a.
6. Seder Olam Rabbah, Chapter 28.
7. See e.g. A.Leo Oppenheim, Ancient Mesopotamia, (Univ. of Chicago Press, 1964), p. 341.
8. Encyclopedia Britannica, 1958 edition, Vol. 5, p.655, under Chronology.
9. E.A. Schatz, Commentary by Elihu on the Book of Daniel, (Hashmonaim, by the author, 2003) (in Hebrew).
10. Jack Finegan, The Archaeology of World Religions, (N.J., Princeton Univ. Press, 1952), p. 84.
11. Robert W. Rogers, History of Ancient Persia, (N.Y., Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1929). p. 103.
12. Percy Sykes, History of Persia, Vol. I, 3rd ed., (London, Macmillan, 1930), p. 143.
13. A.T. Olmstead, History of the Persian Empire, (Univ. of Chicago Press, 1948) p. 108.
14. Rogers, op. cit., p. 86.
15. Francis R.B. Godolophin (ed.), The Greek Historians, Vol. 2, (N.Y., Random House, 1942), pp. 626,628.
16.Cambridge Ancient History, Persian Empire, Vol. 4, 1926, p. 663.
17. Jack Finegan, Light from the Ancient Past, (N.J., Princeton Univ. Press, 1959), p. 233.
18. G. Cornfeld (ed.), Adam to Daniel, (N.Y., Macmillan Co., 1961), p. 502.
19. Encyclopedia Britannica, 1958 edition, Vol. 23, p.986, under Zoroaster.
20. R.C. Zaehner, Dawn and Twilight of Zoroastrianism, (N.Y., G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1961), p.33.
21. Rogers, op. cit., p.18.
22. William F. Albright, From the Stone Age to Christianity, 2nd ed., (N.Y., Doubleday, 1957), pp. 359ff.
23. George W. Carter, Zoroastrianism and Judaism, (Boston, Gorham Press,
1918), p. 38.
24. D. Winton Thomas (ed.), Documents from Old Testament Times, (N.Y.,Harper and Row, 1958), pp. 260-265.
25. George Rawlinson, Five Monarchies, Vol. 4, 1867, p. 532
26. G. Rawlinson, Ancient History, (N.Y., P.F. Collier & Son, 1900), p.91.
27. George Rawlinson, Five Monarchies, Vol. 4, 1867, p. 528
28. Olmstead, op. cit., p. 376.
Rabbi Schatz Shlita has done a lot of research and thought and has written a number of books. He is a member of the self-proclaimed Sanhedrin but does not represent his own opinion on the matter. Most Rabbis will go for the traditional there are contra facts out there that have to be dealt with.
Facebook friends can be dangerous as they can become friendly and then start using your e-mail and last name if you have openly allowed your phone, full date of birth and e-mail to exist for all to see on Facebook. Shuli sent me this regarding somebody calling himself a Rabbi: "Rabbi" Craig Wyckoff In case you aren’t aware, on his own website this guy openly boasts that he performs "interfaith marriages" It is time to clean up this character from my friend's list. If he is your friend then beware of his ideas and do what you wish.
Repressive Regimes have to censor Rabbis for teaching Halacha just like the Roman Occupation of Yisrael: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/142196
Removing traces of second Beis HaMikdash Mizbayach: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/142187\
The man in this article was honored by Rabbi Lau Former Chief Rabbi of Yisrael. His father was a black US Army officer who came into the Concentration Camp and liberated Rabbi Lau and showed off the young starving boy to the Germans as their Jewish enemy. This man converted to Islam and became eventually Sunni and moderate with love for Israel and knowledge from his father of the holocaust: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kareem_Abdul-Jabbar
From the rest of the African and Arab World comes fear in Algeria, Yarden, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/02/05/mugabe-tries-strength-zimbabwe-watches-egypt-uprising/
Israel prepares for all out wall with perhaps Egypt and Yarden: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4025266,00.html
Fox News had a story about securing the Northern Border and the Canadians have brains: http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/31053
Islam to target the USA soon: http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=260941
Egypt unrest continues and Mubarak may go to Germany soon for medical treatment: http://www.debka.com/article/20646/ http://thebarrychamishwebsite.com/newsletters/mubarak.htm
It appears as this Drasha goes out that he is about to resign and the army to take over but nothing is crystal clear yet.
Good Morning anybody who watched Glenn Beck the other night knows that the Socialistic and Caliphate agenda is to get rid of Israel first and capitalism second.
As one ages if he is not a boss and becomes over pressured and kicked aside or demoted Israel is real.: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4025875,00.html
Iran and Soros behind the unrest: http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=207456
Money can be a blessing or a curse. If used properly through Tzeduka one can build Yeshivas and Kollelim while if misused it can turn into a curse and this is a case of a curse: http://www.aolnews.com/2011/02/08/john-paul-getty-iii-dies-oil-heir-led-tragic-life/?icid=main%7Chtmlws-main-n%7Cdl1%7Csec1_lnk3%7C200183
IS ISLAM BEING USED AS A MANDATE TO CONVERT OR KILL ALL “INFIDELS”? by Emanuel A. Winston, Mid East Analyst & Commentator
I have read with intensity analytical essays, articles and books about Islam by experts who have spent their lives studying the culture and lives of Muslims. While there are many accepted paths and categories of Muslims, it all narrows down to the fact that those who study the Koran and the Hadith (the oral teachings of Mohammed) believe themselves to be superior to all others in the matter of selective religion.
Such conclusions reinforce their belief that their culture of war assures them that despite minimal contributions to civilization, nevertheless, they are beyond question (in their minds) far superior to all other humans in ethics, quality of life, rights beyond all other to a privileged existence in this world and the next.
They are obligated to Allah to suppress all others who do not share their beliefs in the blood-cult of Islam. Even here they struggle against each other, often to the death, accenting their differences, rather than whatever similarities they may share.
Over the centuries the Mullahs have evolved a death cult when dying by killing the “infidels” (non-Muslims) are considered acts of human sacrifice that will insure their transition to a next life, filled with privileges denied them in this life. Sacrificing themselves or others not of their own individual faith and beliefs confer upon them a permanent glorious life after death. Islam is a sub-species of predators who believe anything that comes out of the mouths of imaginative Muslim clerics and it’s all to be accepted as Allah’s will.
The myths promulgated by Mohammed and his successors, the religious clerics, insure that anything of unlimited imagination will be theirs in the next life. Some scholars wish to segment Islam in parts where they can call ‘only’ some Muslims “radical”, meaning they are willing to actively attack and kill all ‘infidels’ in a vicious cycle of death until all their components of the necessary acts against the ‘infidels’ are fulfilled, allowing them entry into Allah’s Courtyard and exotic privileges…(72 virgins, rivers of honey, etc.).
But, the rest are called “moderates”, meaning they are peace-loving – that Islam means peace. But, Islam means “submission” – not peace. The so-called “moderates” are the safety net or security valve for the “radicals”. The “moderates” provide the safe-houses, the appearance of moderation and peace. So the media and the world’s ‘influentials’ say: “Why can’t you make peace with these “moderate” Muslims? They’re so nice?”
Wouldn’t that be nice?
Now for M. Wolfberg's Good Shabbos Story "Duet"
Good Shabbos Everyone. The verse in this week's Parsha Terumah states: "Make for Me a holy house and I will dwell in them." (Shemos 25:8) The simple meaning of this verse according to Rashi, is that the Jews must build the Bais HaMikdash - the Holy Temple, which will be a place for Hashem to rest his Holy Presence - the Shechina.
Grammatically, it would seem to make sense that the verse should say: "Make for Me a holy house and I will dwell in it." Commentators note from the fact that the verse states: "and I will dwell among them," that the verse is hinting to an even deeper meaning. Namely, each and every Jew is capable of making himself into a place where Hashem can rest his Holy Presence - the Shechina.
That is why the verse uses the plural "them." The "them" refers to the Jews. If a Jew makes himself into a "mikdash" - a holy vessel, then Hashem will rest his Holy Presence in that Jew. How does a Jew go about making himself a holy vessel? Through the performance of mitzvahs and learning Torah. The following inspirational true story illustrates the efforts and rewards of one Jew who made himself into a "mikdash" - a holy vessel fitting for the Hashem's Holy Presence.
The place was Red Square, Moscow. The event was a huge, joint concert performed by budding musicians from all over the world. Guy Hardane, an Israeli who has played the tuba since he was only ten years old, was there as a member of an orchestra from the U.S.
As a student at the Oberlin School of Music in Cleveland, Ohio, Guy's musical talent was formidable, but he could not find a permanent seat with a top band or orchestra. Smaller orchestras usually have no need for a tuba; even full orchestras require one only on occasion, for special pieces, or when touring abroad. This was how he had arrived at Red Square.
There in Moscow, junior orchestras from four continents - thousands of musicians -- assembled to speak the common language of music. Guy circulated amongst the crowd of performers.
Like many young Israelis, he vacillated between two instincts. One minute he wanted to lose himself in the masses of nations, to unite with the great throng in Red Square, in the true spirit of collectivism. A minute later, a contrary impulse made him want to shout out at the top of his lungs, "I'm a Jew!" His inner conflict made him reflect: "Here you are in the capital of a country that massacred Jews as a matter of policy." He vacillated: "But perhaps, today there is a different spirit in the air here. we are all united under the banner of music." Even so, he still wanted to shout, 'I'm a Jew!"
As he stood there, his instrument weighed down on him. He shifted his weight, and the thought struck him: "This tuba is like the Jew who wants a permanent 'seat' among the nations. It is a unique musical instrument, and because of my skill with it, I am considered an excellent musician. But it is just because of that same uniqueness that I cannot find a permanent position. I am always on the outside, looking in. "It is the same with a Jew. He excels in many ways. He can be friendly with everyone, all day long, but he will never break into the ranks and be fully accepted as an equal member of the world community. Like a tuba, he will always be unique.
Suddenly, a voice from behind asked him, "Where are you from?" When he answered, the young lady then asked him his name. "Guy," he replied. The young lady, who Guy later learned was from Germany and named Korina, surprised him by asking in Hebrew, "Mah zeh Guy?" (What is "Guy?")
"Guy means 'valley.' Are you Jewish?" Guy asked. "No," she said, "but I am looking into Judaism," she continued. Korina had learned Hebrew so that she would be able to read the Tanach in the original text, to better to understand it. She asked Guy for his e-mail address so that she could send him questions about Tanach and Judaism in general.
Guy, who was totally secular, did not really know what to say. "Just because I am from Israel, she thinks I can teach her about Judaism?!?" He moaned to himself. (Once, while speaking with his roommate at Oberlin, Guy remarked that he would not marry anyone who was not Jewish. When the roommate asked him why, Guy did not have an answer - thus demonstrating his lack of knowledge about Judaism.) Now, suddenly, in Red Square, a girl from Germany had promoted him to rabbi!
Against his better judgment, he gave Korina his address. The tour through Russia came to an end and eventually, so did his studies in Cleveland. Guy and his tuba flew back to Israel. Shortly after his return, Guy won a permanent position with a Jerusalem-based orchestra.
One day an e-mail arrived from Korina with a long list of questions about the fundamentals of Judaism -- and also about persons in Tanach. Guy had no answers for Korina. However, out of politeness, he described in his email back to her, about his work and the security situation in Israel. A few days later, he received another long list of questions. Apparently, Korina did not understand! He was a tuba player, not an expert on Judaism. Then another message came: Korina was on her way to Israel, intending to convert. He then began to worry a little. Korina was bound to confront him with her questions, face to face. What would he say? He had to do something, or face terrible embarrassment.
Upon her arrival in Israel, Korina registered in an ulpan - a place to learn Hebrew. Guy feared his days as a "rabbi" were numbered, but he decided to work on the list of questions while Korina learned Hebrew. There were a few religious men in the computer course he was taking. He asked one of them, a friendly young man, one of Korina's questions: "What is the Talmud? Is it a law book or a book about holidays - civil law or religious ritual?"
"Come to my house tonight and join me while I learn Talmud with a chavrusa (study partner)." Said Guy's collogue from the computer class. Soon after, Guy found himself watching two Jews learn Gemara (Talmud).
Guy saw depth that only the Gemara could uncover, and it warmed his soul. "I enjoyed the learning very much," he said at the end, "but I thought that the Talmud discussed Jewish thought. You know, ethics and philosophy?!?"
His friend smiled. "The Torah has everything," he said as he rose from his seat and went to the bookcase. "This is the Talmud," he said, pointing to one row of books. Moving to another shelf he said, "These are commentaries on Tanach. Here," he said, pointing elsewhere, "are halachic works. Over here you have works about ethics," and so on. Guy felt overwhelmed to this vast library of Jewish learning. He had come here only to prepare for Korina's questions. "Where does a person begin?" he asked.
Soon after, Guy met with the head of a yeshiva for baalei teshuva (secular Jews who have become religious.) The rav listened, and then asked questions about Guy's nature and personality, and suggested classes in chumash and mishnah. A new world opened up to him: wisdom and purpose! It was a breath of fresh air!
Although Guy started studying only to avoid embarrassing himself, his studies soon captivated him. He sought more and more. Rehearsals had taught him the importance of reviewing material over and over again until he knew it by heart. Little by little, the pieces of the puzzle began to form a complete picture. For the first time. Guy began to appreciate the uniqueness of the Jewish nation, and the absolute truth of the Torah. He began to understand, intellectually, what he had felt, intuitively in Red Square. "Why will a Jew always feel different from the other peoples of the world? Why does he sense that he is not one of them?" Now he had a clear answer: Jews are different by virtue of receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai.
Soon after, Guy attended an "Arachim" seminar. At the seminar, he was inspired to make a complete commitment to Torah and Mitzvahs.
Korina, it turned out, was Jewish in the first place. Where is she today? Guy does not know. One thing he does know, however: It was Hashem who put it into her head to approach him that day in Red Square.
Red Square has played a large role in our nation's history; most, if not all, of the memories associated with it evoke memories of terrible anguish and suffering. Now however, we have a happy account of how, in Red Square, Hashem looked after one of His loved ones, and led him home to his priceless heritage. Even when Jews are lost and bewildered, Hashem gathers His roses from amongst the thorns and replants them in the Holy Land, where they return to His Torah and flourish. (From "Arachim Update" Winter - 5764)
Let us all be inspired by this story to endeavor more and more to make ourselves vessels to enable the Shechina - Hashem's Holy presence, to dwell among us. Good Shabbos Everyone.
M. Wolfberg’s stories are sponsored by: 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 and pray hard for rain in Israel,