Chaya Esther bas Feiga Yenta needs extra prayers a young mother of 4 who developed staph infection and is in terrible danger.
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. 2 And Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, took Tziporah, 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; 6 and he said unto Moses: 'I thy father-in-law Jethro am coming unto thee, and thy wife, and her two sons with her.' 7 And Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, and bowed down and kissed him;
I learn from this two things. One is required to honor his wife’s parents and one is required to honor an older person. According to the Medrash, Yisro was an advisor to Pharaoh when Moshe was Born. Allowing for Yisro to obtain such a status; he had to have been most likely over 30 and perhaps over 40 add on now 80 years of Moshe we have a very old man. So even though Moshe was virtually the king of Yisrael and a great Prophet, he honors Yisro.
and they asked each other of their welfare; and they came into the tent.
It is proper etiquette to inquire about your friend or relative’s health.
8 And Moses told his father-in-law all that the LORD had done unto Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel's sake, all the travail that had come upon them by the way, and how the LORD delivered them. 9 And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which the LORD had done to Israel, in that He had delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptians. 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.'
To say that G-d is greater than all the other gods is heresy because it implies that other gods have some substance. Why would Yitro say such a thing? This statement is not one of relative comparison, but of total rejection. Yitro was the High Priest of Midian and a very prominent theologian. He was familiar with all of the gods the pagan world worshipped. After learning of the miracles that G-d performed he was convinced of the worthlessness of all the other deities and of G-d’s identity as the one and only G-d of the world. Hence he proudly proclaimed, “Now I know that G-d is great, and I have reached this conclusion through realizing the falsehood of all the other gods.” (Alshich)
There is a Medrash that says that Yisro studied and tried out all gods in his religious quest. He had settled on the G-D of Avraham but did not have any proofs or miracles as everything which was claimed (Avraham vs. the 4 kings) happened 400 plus years ago and the Akeda of Yitzchak on the Mizbayach around 350 years ago etc. The 10 Makkos and the splitting of the sea, Mann, quail and water in the desert were convincing since the witnesses were before him.
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.
It came about on the next day: This was the day after Yom Kippur. This is what we learned in Sifrei [actually in the Mechilta]. Now what is meant by "on the next day"? On the day after his [Moses’] descent from the mountain [which took place on Yom Kippur]. You must admit that it is impossible to say [that the next day means] anything but that [Moses sat down to judge the people] on the day after Yom Kippur. Before the giving of the Torah it was impossible to say (verse 15), “and I make known the statutes, etc.,” [since the statutes had not yet been given]. And from the time that the Torah was given, until Yom Kippur, Moses did not [have the chance to] sit down to judge the people, for on the seventeenth of Tammuz he descended [Mount Sinai] and broke the tablets. On the next day he ascended early in the morning and stayed for eighty days and descended on Yom Kippur. Hence, this section is not written in [chronological] order, for “It came about on the next day,” was not said until the second year. Even according to the one [Tanna] who says that Jethro arrived before the giving of the Torah, he was not sent away to his land until the second year, for it says here (verse 27), “Moses saw his father-in-law off,” and we find in the journey of the divisions [of the tribes, which took place in the second year,] that Moses said to him [Jethro], “We are journeying to the place…Please, do not leave us” (Num. 10:29-31). Now if this [incident] had taken place before the giving of the Torah, where do we find [i.e., where is it mentioned] that he returned? If you say that there [Num. 10:29] Jethro is not mentioned, but Hobab [is mentioned], and he was Jethro’s son, [that is not so since] Hobab is identical with Jethro, for so it is written: “of the children of Hobab, Moses’ father-in-law” (Jud. 4:11). -[based on Mechilta]
This Rashi contradicts the Medrash that it was around Rosh Chodesh Sivan that Moshe came to Sinai and met with Yisro and that Yisro left just before Matan Torah. For the Medrash states that Yisro met Moshe before Matan Torah and then went away. Rashi is implying a different time which although could be is not consistent with other sources from earlier works. (See Also Shabbos 86B – 88 starting with: Our Rabbis taught: On the sixth day of the month [Sivan] were the Ten Commandments given to Israel. R. Jose maintained: On the seventh thereof. Said Raba: All agree that they arrived in the Wilderness of Sinai on the first of the month. [For] here it is written, on this day they came into the wilderness of Sinai;15 whilst elsewhere it is written, This month shall be unto you the beginning of months:16 just as there the first of the month,17 so here [too] the first of the month [is meant]. Again, all agree that the Torah was given to Israel on the Sabbath. … http://www.come-and-hear.com/shabbath/shabbath_86.html#chapter_ix
14 And when Moses' father-in-law saw all that he did to the people, he said: 'What is this thing that thou do to the people? why do you sit alone, 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 do is not good. 18 Thou wilt surely wear away, both you, and this people that is with thee; for the thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone.
You will surely wear yourself out: Heb. נָבֹל ךְתִּבָֹּל. As the Targum renders: [You will surely wear yourself out,] but the expression is an expression of withering, fleistre in Old French, like [these examples:] “even the leaves will be withered (נָבֵל)” (Jer. 8:13); “as a leaf withers (כִּנְבֵל עָלֶה) from a vine, etc.” (Isa. 34:4), which withers both from the heat and from the cold, and its strength weakens, and it is worn out.
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.
Now the first few levels would be younger Rabbis and leaders while the rulers of hundreds and thousands would be already judges. The lower level could issue a simple Psak and the higher levels a ruling. They were delegated by Moshe so as not to violate the rule that one should not Poskin when his Rabbi or the Rabbinical Authority of the City is in town. Clearly that was what was going on before Yisro advised Moshe.
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. 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: 4 Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto Myself. 5 Now therefore, if ye will hearken unto My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be Mine own treasure from among all peoples; for all the earth is Mine; 6 and ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.' 7 And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which the LORD commanded him. 8 And all the people answered together, and said: 'All that the LORD hath spoken we will do.'
Since the Jewish people had already said this, why does oral tradition say that G·d had to impose the Torah on the Jewish people by holding Mount Sinai over their heads and threatening to bury them underneath it if they didn't accept it? The answer is that this comes to teach us that even when one has no desire to learn Torah and serve G·d, nevertheless, one is not absolved from doing so, and one must force oneself by visualizing that
[G-d] is [now holding Mount Sinai over his head and] forcing him. [This is not meant merely as a theoretical thought, but as a meditative visualization that can re-ignite the enthusiasm of, "We will do and obey," that naturally wanes and waxes throughout the day.] [Baal Shem Tov - translation from Keter Shem Tov posted on //baalshemtov.com]
And Moses reported the words of the people unto the LORD. 9 And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and may also believe thee forever.' And Moses told the words of the people unto the LORD. 10 And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Go unto the people, and sanctify them to-day and to-morrow, and let them wash their garments, 11 and be ready against the third day; for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon Mount Sinai. 12 And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying: Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it; whosoever touches the mount shall be surely put to death; 13 no hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live; when the ram's horn sounds long, they shall come up to the mount.' 14 And Moses went down from the mount unto the people, and sanctified the people; and they washed their garments. 15 And he said unto the people: 'Be ready against the third day; come not near a woman.'
Do not go near a woman: [to have intimacy with her] for all these three days [of preparation], in order that the women may immerse themselves on the third day and be pure to receive the Torah. If they have intercourse within the three days, the woman could [involuntarily] emit semen after her immersion and become unclean again. After three days have elapsed [since intercourse], however, the semen has already become putrid and is no longer capable of fertilization, so it is pure from contaminating the [woman] who emits it. — [from Shab. 86a]
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.
From Rabbi Pinchas Winston Shlita: http://www.torah.org/learning/perceptions/5772/yisro.html
“What is more logical,” I asked them, “that a person check out the validity of the Bible, or ignore its claims?”
A hand immediately went up, and after acknowledging it, the person answered, “It’s more logical not to check it out.”
“Really?” I asked, baiting the person a little.
“Really,” he answered. “Otherwise more people would being doing it.”
Looking around the class, I asked the others, “Does everyone agree, or does someone disagree?” and was pleasantly surprised by the reaction and the amount of participation. All of a sudden, the class seemed to have a life of its own, and I knew that I was going to enjoy myself, and that they might too.
Most people agreed with the first opinion, as was to be expected. So I asked them, “Are you sure? The Torah makes some pretty powerful claims ...”
Of course, no one changed his mind, though I did read some growing doubt in the eyes of some of the people who had volunteered an answer, a look that I thought said, “What claims?” So, we spent the rest of the class speaking out some of those claims, and an hour later, many in the group somewhat uncomfortably, agreed that, based upon the claims, it was more logical to check out the Bible than not check it out.
I don’t know if anyone actually ever did, but that’s cognitive dissonance for you. However, who knows? Maybe one of them, down the road, did go to a Torah class somewhere else because of the revelation. It wouldn’t be the first time a person has had a delayed reaction to what he or she has learned.
The point is that there are billions of people walking around out there who couldn’t care less about Torah and the people who observe it, assuming that is an irrelevant relic from the past. Logic dictates, at least to them, that they have no need to waste their time checking it out, even if they were born Jewish.
Even more amazing is how many people refute those claims without ever having really investigated them, and proven them false. People will claim that they are false, but no one has ever proven them to be false. Granted, there are some important questions to be answered regarding the giving of Torah at Mt. Sinai, but they are answerable, if a person is prepared to give Torah the time of day, and check out what it says and why.
For example, there is the claim that God dictated every word of the Torah to Moshe Rabbeinu, letter-by-letter. Other religions have claimed that their codes of ethics were Divinely-inspired, but no book or document, except for the Torah, has ever claimed that it was given entirely directly by God to man, certainly not word-by-word.
My Rosh Kollel from the after work Kollel at the Aircraft Industry, Rabbi Yerachmiel Boyer Shlita taught that Tumay makes one Mitumtam (stupid) for one who eats non-kosher food his logic, brain and spirit are hurt. Rabbi Winston on Tu B’Shevat wrote: http://www.torah.org/learning/perceptions/5772/tubshvat.html which is perhaps one of the reasons that people like myself fail to convince with all logic and proof certain people to think about Torah Judaism. The following is from a Kabbalist Spiritual approach regarding the 3 days of separation and not eating meat which helped cleans the mind, body and spirit of Tuma. I have condensed his Drasha just to make the point of you are what you eat and eating in holiness with blessing before and after changes the food from profane to holy. Rabbi Winston goes further and if you have time click the above site from the Torah.org this week and read it.
According to tradition, something called holy sparks. Holy sparks are individually packaged portions of Divine light that act like some kind of spiritual glue to hold the body and soul together. We’re born with holy sparks, but they have to be constantly replenished throughout life for a person to survive, and not just survive, but to be healthy.
The health of the body depends upon its connection to the soul. The closer the body is to the soul, the more light the soul can give to the body, keeping it alive. Likewise, the weaker the connection is between the body and the soul, the less light the body can receive and the more it will deteriorate. We call that illness.
Hence, the light of the soul is the life force for the body, and therefore, the more soul light the body receives, the healthier it is and remains. The question is, how does one replenish or add to his amount of holy sparks?
There are a few ways that we do this, but one of the main ways is by eating. Food also contains holy sparks, and the more holy sparks food contains, the healthier it will be. In fact, to be really accurate, the nutritional facts that we find on the side of products should really report how many holy sparks the food contains. In essence this is what they are doing by reporting the healthy ingredients, since what makes something healthy is the amount of holy sparks it contains.
So, when a person eats food and their bodily systems break the food down, sending the nutrients to different parts of the body to do whatever they must to keep the body working, it is really the holy sparks inside the nutrients that are doing the trick, or rather, the miracle of keeping a person alive and healthy by allowing the soul to remain attached to the body, and perhaps coming ever closer to it than it was before.
But clearly food is not enough of a source of holy sparks, because there is only so much food a person can eat, and therefore, only so many holy sparks he can derive from his food. Health can fluctuate even with healthy eating, so it would seem that we need more sparks than food can give to us. So, from where else can we get holy sparks?
The clue to the answer is actually in the Torah itself, just after the sea crossing and the miracle of the water in a place called Marah. …What do learning Torah and performing commandments have to do with health? Obviously, if God wants to punish a person for disobedience, taking away his health could be such a way. But, the Torah seems to imply a direct correlation between the performance of commandments and health, and there is a good reason why: Learning Torah and performing commandments are extremely effective ways to receive additional holy sparks.
Hence, elsewhere in the Torah it says this regarding the manna the Jewish people ate in the desert for 40 years:
“He afflicted you, and caused you to go hungry, and gave you manna to eat which you did not recognize, nor did your ancestors experience it—so that He could teach you that man does not live by bread alone, but by whatever comes out of the mouth of God does man live.” (Devarim 8:2-3)
What comes out of the mouth of God? Bread? Meat? Soft ice cream? None of the above. Rather, it is holy sparks that come out of the mouth of God, so-to-speak, and learning Torah and performing commandments puts us in a direct line to receive them. In fact, so effective is Torah a means for acquiring holy sparks that Moshe was able to remain on top of Mt. Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights without eating or drinking, and didn’t look any worse for wear once he came back down again.
… Tu B’Shevat is a celebration of the fruits of Eretz Yisroel, and the cut-off point for the rainy season in the Holy Land, but that is only Pshat. On a deeper level, as the Pri Tzaddik explains, it is really the Rosh Hashanah of one particular tree, the Aitz HaDa’as Tov v’Rah, giving us a chance to rectify it on some level.
Ironically, the first test of man was also an eating issue. Adam HaRishon was told that he could eat from all the trees in the garden, except for the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, which Kabbalah explains would have become permissible on Shabbos, after it transformed into the Aitz HaChaim. However, the First Man didn’t wait, committing what the Pri Tzaddik calls an achilah sh’lo b’kedushah — an unholy eating. Eating from the tree on Shabbos would have had just the opposite effect.
Thus, this has been the ongoing challenge of mankind throughout history, not just to eat, not just to eat healthy, but to eat holy as well. Hence, the emphasis on fruits of Eretz Yisroel on Tu B’Shevat: fruits grown from holy land are intrinsically holy, as it says:
The fruits of the Land of Israel stem from holiness. Therefore, the very same spirituality that was enveloped by the manna is enclothed by the fruits of Israel. That is why no manna fell in the Land of Israel. That is also why the after-blessing for fruits of the seven species in the Land of Israel concludes, “upon her fruits,” as opposed to “upon the fruits.” This indicates that the holiness of the land resides in her fruits alone and not the fruits that grow outside the Land of Israel. (Tuv HaAretz)
Fascinating that the fruits of Eretz Yisrael should be connected to the manna, which was given to the Jewish people to remind them that man does not survive by bread alone, but by what comes out of the mouth of God. More importantly, the manna was given to the Jewish people to make the point that their existence is supernatural, which is important, because it is the only way to really survive in Eretz Yisrael — especially today, when surrounded by over 360 million enemies. Apparently, the fruits of Eretz Yisroel make the same point.
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 thou shalt 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.
A nation of Priests from Rabbi B. Wein Shlita: http://www.torah.org/learning/rabbiwein/5772/yisro.html
At the revelation at Sinai the Lord set the goal for the Jewish people – “to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” These noble goals, like all great ideas and lofty ideals, require definition. What is meant by a kingdom of priests? In Jewish life the priests, the descendants of Aharon, were people who were freed from the daily mundane chores of life and were supported by the masses of Israel who sustained them physically and financially.
Now if the entire nation was to be a kingdom of priests, in those terms of support and life, it obviously was an impossibility to maintain such a kingdom. Therefore the idea of the kingdom of priests must mean a broader reality. It is the challenge of being a kingdom of teachers of others – “for the lips of the priest shall guard knowledge and Torah will be asked to be taught from his mouth.”
We are all teachers by example if not by profession. How we act influences our children, our neighbors, our customers and our coworkers. And a priest in the service of the Jewish people was someone who served the public and private needs of Jews. He was someone who was on call to answer the needs of the community, whether in the required Temple service or in the private endeavors meant to enhance the status of the community or of help to other individuals. The priest was the social worker, the peace maker, the cement that binds a community together and gives it its necessary sense of unity and cohesion. Every Jew is obligated to attempt to be such a priest.
20:1 And God spoke all these words, saying: 2 I am the LORD thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall not have the gods of others in MY presence.
I do not have a partner in the creation. It is I alone only ME. The Medrash may mention stories about HASHEM talking within HIMSELF of his Attributes of Mercy and Justice and Justice being thrown down to create mankind. Sometimes we see G-D talking to the Angels but they are servants to the KING. There is no room for a partner, daughter or son in creation only ONE.
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;
When I was between the age of 10 and 12, I asked my neighbor Diane to show me her Catholic Bible and how they translated this seeing that they had an image in their church and kneeled down to it. This was in the 50’s and the wording had been changed around (not in the King James Version of the Protestants). After Pope John Paul II the wording was corrected but the images which were left over from old pagan beliefs incorporated into Christianity remained.
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; 5 and showing mercy unto the thousandth generation of them that love Me and keep My commandments. 6 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.
7 Remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it.
We set the day aside with special prayers, candles, food and song and make Kiddush to sanctify it.
8 Six days may you work and perform all your labor,
Our life should not revolve around work and making money. That is good perhaps for Japanese or Chinese people who are brought up to value work. However, we as the children of HASHEM and Priests unto the Nations are exempt for on Shabbos our only labor is activities that strengthen the spirit.
9 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord, your God; you shall perform no labor, neither you, your son, your daughter, your manservant, your maidservant, your beast, nor your stranger who is in your cities.
Neither you, your son, your daughter: These are young children. Or perhaps it refers to adult children? You must admit that they have already been warned [to observe the Sabbath]. Rather, [this word] comes only to warn adults concerning young children resting [from work] (Mechilta). This is the meaning of what we learned [in the Mishnah]: If a young child comes to extinguish [a fire on the Sabbath], you may not allow him [to do so] since you are responsible for his resting [from work] (Shab. 121a).
Educating the children on the Kedushah and the greatness of resting on Shabbos is of prime importance. They should view the day as a day of stories, songs and games at home and to walk to the kids park on clear days for fun. Shabbos is a joyous day but to a person who is ignorant it is don’t internet, don’t write term papers, don’t work in the garden, don’t ride about. The children growing up with a special positive day with lots to do and family together will carry over the Shabbos for generation after generation. Ah to tell the Parsha at the table before the family from the Kindergarten level upwards and to sing with all the songs is something that sticks with the child.
Labor is not work but acting in processing or creating something. We therefore call them Melacha and it is stated here, “All Melacha word do not preform.” 39 categories are Av Melacha and then many subdivisions of work. http://www.ou.org/chagim/shabbat/thirtynine.htm
10 For [in] six days the Lord made the heaven and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and sanctified it. 11 Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God gives thee. 12 Thou shalt not murder.
Murder is the correct word. A person can kill an armed intruder who threatens him or a soldier an enemy in battle. When this Mitzva of the Ten Commandments is read in private, it is read “lo tirtzach.” When the Torah is read in public, the Ashkenazic pronunciation of these words are “lo tirtzawch” (with the Hebrew vowel Camatz instead of Patach). These two variant pronunciations teach us that there are two types of murder which are forbidden. The first is the actual shedding of blood. The second is shaming a person in public, which the Talmud equates to murder. (HaRav Tzirilson M’Kishinev)
Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal.
There are three types of actions mentioned in the Torah this case is not to steal a man or woman for the purpose of selling them to be slaves. The other two cases which are forbidden are dangerous Robbery from a highway man to a bank heist and the last case is a sneak thief who enters homes or picks pockets. All are forbidden but stealing for enslaving or white slavery deserves the death penalty.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. 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 neighbor's. We are supposed to rejoice with our neighbors and if he is fortunate enough to have the prettiest wife on the block, a Ferrari, Jaguar, Mercedes, Lincoln and Cadillac we should not desire or be jealous but think that perhaps he is so righteous that he merits this or that he is so bad that he is getting his portion in this world and nothing for the next.
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 thine 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.
From Last week but excellent: Soul Transportation by Rabbi Simon Jacobson Shlita http://meaningfullife.com/oped/2007/02.02.07$BeshalachCOLON_Song.php
This weekend has a special name: “Shabbat Shira” – the Shabbat of Song, so called because this week’s Torah portion contains the song sung by Israel after the parting of the Red Sea. Accordingly, this week’s essay addresses the soul of song – the power it has to transform our lives.
What gives music its power? How does it have the ability to transport us to another time and place? To lift a broken spirit? To bring a tear to a happy soul? Why does a song have the capacity to reach the depths of our heart, bring old memories alive, awaken our deepest aspirations and naturally cause us to dance to its beat? What type of language is this language of song, and where did it originate? We learn the spoken language at home and at school. But who taught us how to sing?
What is the soul of song? The mystics explain it this way: How do souls travel? Bodies move about on legs or in vehicles. But what moves a soul? A soul doesn’t have legs and cannot be contained in an automobile or other vehicle. What carries our souls from one place to another?
The Kabbalah offers a fascinating answer: The only way a soul can move about is through a song. Without song the soul remains stuck in one place. In the Holy Temple in Jerusalem there were fifteen steps corresponding to the fifteen Shir HaMaalos (song of ascents) in the book of Psalms (120-135), which the Levites would sing as they stood on the steps. In order to climb from one step to the next a song had to be sung.
In our material world we can convince ourselves that we are mobile – movers and shakers – even if our souls never budge an inch. There are people who chalk up millions of frequent flyer miles, others who move around in all the high circles, and yet others who are climbing the corporate ladder. But are they truly moving? Their bodies may be traveling places, but are their souls in flight? Then there are people who perhaps sit in the same place, praying or meditating, but spiritually they are moving millions of miles.
But in the spiritually intact Holy Temple, where spirit met matter and the physical was seamlessly aligned with its inner purpose, you simply could not move from one step to the next unless your soul was lifted through song.
Why do songs have this power? Because they are the language of the Divine.
When G-d created the universe, He consulted the angels: “Should I bestow upon the human race the gift of music?” The elitist angels unanimously replied with a resounding “no.” “The human race will not appreciate the sublime power of melody. They will abuse and commercialize it. They won’t know how to appreciate angelic, divine nature of song.
“Give us your gift of music,” the angels said, “and we will sing Your praises, we will sing Your songs. We will know how to use the power of melody to reach great spiritual heights.”
G-d considered their opinion, but then overruled them. “No. I will give the gift of music to humans. Because I want them to have something to remember Me with.
“Sometimes life will be difficult. In such times the pressures can be overbearing. Man can feel depressed and hopeless. I therefore want them to have song to remind them, that even you’re stuck in the dire straits of material existence, even when you are experiencing existential loneliness and “quiet desperation,” you can break out in song, which will lift your spirits.
“Sometimes life will be comfortable, too comfortable. Let man then sing to remember that there is more to life than instant gratification.
“Yes indeed,” G-d concluded, “I will give the human being My unique tongue – the language of music and song, so that he can use it to discover transcendence.”
The reason song has the ability to transport the soul is because its true nature and the source of its power is its Divine language: Song is a dialect from another plane. If the conventional word is the language of man, music is the language of the Divine.
Songs, therefore, are the wings of the soul. They have the ability to lift our spirits to unprecedented heights. They allow us to fly; to soar away to far-away places – places that are beyond pedestrian life and mundane monotony.
Song is spiritual transportation. As one Rebbe put it: The spoken and written word is the “quill of the mind;” Music is the “quill of the heart.” If a soul looks like a flame, it sounds like a song.
Ahh, who hasn’t been drawn by the wish to just go out and sing, unfettered, unbound, to the open heavens. To get away from it all and sing away, with your hands waving free, like there is no tomorrow. To close your eyes, and allow the music to take you to unknown places beyond the anguish and pain of life’s tribulations?
This may explain the compelling power of music in the last 50 years. Why youth today are drawn to music – in ways that are unprecedented in history. Being a language of the soul, music fills the deep spiritual void left by corrupt or irrelevant religion and other belief systems. For good or for bad, music has become the “hymns” of today’s souls and concerts their cathedrals. Starting back in the 50’s music represented the voice of rebellion, the expression of individuality, the challenge to the status-quo of the conformist “man in the grey flannel suit.” The soul found its expression in song – to free itself from the materialistic bondage of the body; a way for us to dialogue with G-d (whether we know it or not).
Unfortunately, like any powerful force, music too, untamed and unfocused, can be hijacked and turned into another hedonistic vehicle of indulgence rather than transcendence, narcissism rather than selflessness, entertainment instead of inspiration. But at its heart song has a hold on our souls because it is ultimately Divine language – the natural language of the soul. (No accident that music is called "soul”).
Our challenge is to recognize the true nature of song’s power and the reason this gift was given to us: To allow us to touch the Divine and integrate it into our lives. Now just to listen to the pleasant harmonies and dance to its beat, but to allow the soulful language of music to refine our personalities, strengthen our commitments, connect with our higher calling, help us build healthy homes and families and illuminate each of our respective corners of the world with our unique light.
We live in a dichotomous, fragmented world. Matter and spirit compartmentalized make it terribly difficult to hear the music of our souls. Instead, we fabricate a superficial language to maneuver in our mundane lives. Music then becomes an exotic escape to an island. In search of some relief from the quotidian, you plug in your headphones, and block out the world around you – and you soar on music’s wings. But then you have to return, and then the music dies…
In truth, however, an inner hum fills all of existence. Every creature, every molecule, every atom emits its own unique sound. Every soul pulsates and purrs. Even when the “rush hour” of our lives with all its extraneous noise drowns out the “gentle, subtle voice” within, the music continues to play (even if you’re not plugged in). In a seamless world all our experiences would sound like a song, all our movements would look like a dance. If our insides and outsides would be aligned, we would be singing all the time, and we wouldn’t be able to move unless we had a song to sing us along (as it was in the Temple). Imagine: What would it be like to hear the music of the cosmos? How would it feel the song of your soul? Of other souls? How would life be different if you could generate a song at will? Every time you experience a moment of truth – an experience that resonates – we are hearing the inner music of existence.
How do we access the music within at all times? By getting in touch with your life’s purpose, and recognizing that every moment of your day, every activity, every interaction is a spiritual opportunity. You are charged with the mission to realize each of these opportunities by ensuring that all the material gain is simply a means to express higher spiritual truths and bring more virtue into this world.
This attitude taps into the very fabric of the harmonic chords of existence, which allow us to hear the music within. In every life experience you have two options to choose from: To serve your own needs, or to serve a higher cause. When you touch the surface of the experience it usually will result in narcissistic results. But when you tap into the inner meaning of the experience, its music will play. In every experience we can either just ride through the experience, or we can learn to play the inner chords that release a song.
There are people in this world that turn every thing they touch into music, every thing they come into contact with into a dance. They are alive, brimming with energy. They are electric, and everything that they touch becomes electrified. Some people deaden every thing they touch. Some people bring every thing alive. Imagine a world in which music is playing all the time. Imagine hearing a song in every breath you take, in every step you make. Imagine a life in which every move you feel the inner rhythm.
As we enter the “Shabbat of song” we are imbued with the power to turn our lives into one extended symphony. High time to start singing. Will you electrify your corner of the world or will you dampen it?
So too one should wake them for in time for prayers or for any other Mitzvah. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 143:4
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 22:8, 55:1 – 3, 139:26. That is wise to review them but for this publication is out of date.
It is customary to pray for a beautiful Kosher Esrog on Tu B'Shevat. Source: The Book of our Heritage, Vol I, page 346-349
One should not cut finger and toe nails on the same day. One doesn’t cut [finger] nails on Thursday sibce they would then begin growing (and looking unkempt) on Shabbat. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 72:12, 14 Shabbat Shalom, - Danny
A Conversation With Hashem...
Me (in a tizzy) : Hashem, can I ask you something?
Me: Promise you won't get mad?
HASHEM: I promise.
Me (frustrated): Why did you let so much stuff happen to me today?
HASHEM: What do you mean?
Me: Well I woke up late,
Me: My car took forever to start,
Me (growling): At lunch, they made my sandwich wrong and I had to wait
Me: On the way home, my phone went dead, just as I picked up a call
HASHEM: All right
Me (loudly): And to top it all off, when I got home, I just wanted to soak my feet in my foot massager and relax, but it wouldn't work. Nothing went right today! Why did you do that?
HASHEM: Well let me see..... the death angel was at your bed this morning and I had to send one of the other angels to battle him for your life. I let you sleep through that.
Me (humbled): Oh...
HASHEM: I didn't let your car start because there was a drunk driver on your route that might have hit you if you were on the road
Me (ashamed): ............
HASHEM: The first person who made your sandwich today was sick and I didn't want you to catch what they have, I knew you couldn't afford to miss work
Me (embarrassed): Oh.....
HASHEM: Your phone went dead because the person that was calling was going to give a false witness about what you said on that call, I didn't even let you talk to them so you would be covered
Me (softly): I see Hashem
HASHEM: Oh and that foot massager, it had a short that was going to throw out all of the power in your house tonight. I didn't think you wanted to be in the dark.
Me: I'm sorry Hashem.
HASHEM: Don't be sorry, just learn to trust me.........in all things, the good and the bad
Me: I WILL trust you Hashem
HASHEM: And don't doubt that my plan for your day is always better than your plan
Me: I won't Hashem. And let me just tell you Hashem, thank you for everything today.
HASHEM: You're welcome child. It was just another day being your Hashem and I love looking after my children.
One Hundred Plus The Roman Emperor Hadrian was not without a sense of humor, albeit a malicious one. http://ascentofsafed.com/cgi-bin/ascent.cgi?Name=741-20
The Roman Emperor Hadrian was a cruel and wicked man. It was under his oppressive regime that the Bar Kochba revolt broke out, which ultimately led to destruction of the city of Betar. However, Hadrian was not without a sense of humor, albeit a malicious one.
Once, during one of the Emperor's periodic visits to the Holy Land, he was strolling through an orchard in Tiberias when he came across an old man. The elderly Jew with the long white beard was obviously well on in years, yet he was busily planting saplings in the ground. "Ancient one!" the Roman Emperor called out to him sarcastically. "You must have slacked off in your youth, and thus you need to work so hard in your old age!"
"No, your Majesty," the Jew replied. "I worked plenty hard when I was younger, and I see no reason to stop now. G-d willing, I will continue as long as G-d will give me strength." "Please tell me, grandfather," Hadrian urged, "how old are you?" "Today is my one hundredth birthday."
"Then surely," Hadrian persisted in taunting him, "you can't expect to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Will you not be in your grave by the time these trees bear fruit?" "Everything is in G-d's hands," the Jew answered. "If G-d wants it to happen, it will happen. But even if it doesn't, my work is not in vain. In the same way my fathers toiled on my behalf, my labor will benefit future generations."
"Then here's to your good health," the Emperor said in parting, "And if you're still alive when these fruits ripen, let me know." "I will be happy to fulfill the Emperor's command, G-d willing," the old Jew replied. Years passed, and the young saplings grew into sturdy fig trees. Indeed, the old man lived to eat juicy and delicious fruit, and continued to enjoy vigorous health. The time had come to fulfill his promise to the Emperor. He filled a basket with figs and traveled to the emperor's palace. After some initial difficulties getting past the royal guard the old man was granted an audience, but the Emperor did not recognize him. “What do you want old man and what is in your basket?” he asked impatiently.
The old Jew reminded him of their previous encounter, and the promise the Emperor had extracted from him. The basket, he explained, was full of succulent figs for his Majesty's pleasure. The Emperor was shocked. After all, the elderly Jew had already been ancient at the time of their last meeting….The Emperor ordered a golden chair to be brought for the old man to sit on. He instructed that the basket be filled with gold in exchange for the figs. He instructed that the basket be filled with gold in exchange for the figs. The Emperor's attendants were very surprised at the honor being paid the old Jew, until he related the story. "If the Creator saw fit to grant him such a long life," Hadrian admitted, "it must mean that he was worthy. Is it then not proper that I too should accord him honor?" The old man returned home with much pomp and circumstance, and all his neighbors came out to greet him.
So far, the story teaches us that it is beneficial for a person to be active in old age, too. The aftermath of these happenings in the continuation of the Midrash reveals to us what can happen because of jealousy. We shall see that the advice of a wife of bad character causes her husband only trouble. When the old man returned with a basketful of gold, his neighbor's wife shouted at her husband, saying, "Look at your neighbor! All he brought the emperor was a couple of figs, and he became rich from it! And you - you still sit home earning next to nothing! Why can't you make a fortune from our fruit trees too?" Goaded by his wife's prompting, the neighbor filled a big sack with figs, loaded it onto his donkey, and rode to the palace. "I heard that the emperor is fond of figs and exchanges them for gold dinars," he told the palace guards. When Hadrian was told about the man's words, he ordered, "Let him be made to stand at the palace gate. I command that everybody who enters or leaves shall throw the figs that he brought in his face. The emperor's order was meticulously observed by a sneering and amusement-hungry populace.
At night, the man was finally permitted to leave. He rode home bruised, shamed, and fuming with rage. Upon seeing his wife, he threatened her, "You will yet suffer for having caused my degradation with your bad advice!" He told her what he had endured, and she responded in bitter humor, "Why should that annoy you? Go, boast before your mother that today you had a stroke of good luck. You were fortunate to have presented the emperor with figs rather than etrogim. Moreover, the figs were soft rather than hard and green - or else I would never have seen you back alive!
Sources: Supplemented by Yerachmiel Tilles from the rendition in "Living Jewish" (as first posted on lchaimweekly.org). Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from the rendition in "The Midrash Says" by Rabbi Moshe Weissman; (Bnei Yaakov Publications). Both are freely translated from an episode recorded in Midrash Tanchuma, Kedoshim 7. Connection: Seasonal - Tu B'Shvat, the "Rosh Hashana for Fruit Trees in Israel" that falls this week.
On the 23rd of Shevat is my father’s 43rd Yahrzeit there is a Yahrzeit of a more familiar person this week.
Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka led a life which was remarkable in many ways, not the least in its utter selflessness and extreme privacy.
She was born in 1901, the daughter of the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak. Her remarkable abilities and keen intellect brought her father to entrust her with great responsibilities. In fact, she was actively involved in many of his activities to keep Judaism alive during the explosive years following the Russian Revolution and establishment of the Soviet state.
In 1927, when her father, the Previous Rebbe was arrested, it was Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka who made sure that all possibly incriminating documents were destroyed. Indeed, during his imprisonment, she was in the forefront of those seeking to commute the death sentence to one of exile, and then, finally to release.
A unique relationship existed between Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka and her father, and he wrote many deep, philosophical letters to her, in which he expounded his concepts of Chassidic thought and Divine service. Those who were privileged to know the Rebbetzin described her as a refined, erudite woman of very extensive knowledge and great intelligence and wit.
On the 14th of Kislev, 1929, Warsaw was at the peak of its glory, the “Jerusalem of Poland.” On that day, Rebbes of numerous Chasidic dynasties, world-renowned rabbis and heads of yeshivas, illustrious Jews of many walks of life gathered to celebrate the wedding of the daughter of the Lubavitcher Rebbe and the son of the brilliant scholar and kabbalist, Harav Levi Yitzchak Schneerson. The marriage of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka to Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson opened a new chapter in her life. Twenty-five years later, the Rebbe described the union as a marriage which bound him to the Chasidim.
The early days of their marriage were ones of onerous hardship and great personal danger. First settling in Berlin, they were forced to flee to Paris after the Nazis came to power. They fled Paris in 1940 and through the strenuous efforts of the Previous Rebbe they succeeded in boarding the last ship to leave Europe. From the day they arrived in the United States, for the next 47 years, the Rebbetzin’s life was dedicated to only one thing – the wellbeing of her husband and the success of his mission in life.
It was Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka who urged her husband to assume the leadership of Chabad after the passing of her illustrious father in 1950. From that moment on, the Rebbetzin embarked on perhaps the most difficult mission of her life, for she spent the next four decades supporting every action and move the Rebbe took on behalf of the Jewish people.
Although she was entirely absent from the public eye, she took an avid interest in the work of the many thousands of emissaries, keeping abreast of their activities. The Rebbetzin took deep personal satisfaction in their accomplishments, and commiserated in their hardships.
For the Rebbetzin, her husband’s will became her own. She was his greatest Chasid. And yet, she had the wifely wisdom to look out for his health. Knowing that the Rebbe usually refused to see a doctor, she would make her own medical treatment contingent on his agreeing to a check-up. In order to assure her well-being, he would, of course, comply.
In her last years, when the Rebbetzin was ill, she suffered in silence, and to her last day, no complaint escaped her lips. Even to her husband she did not reveal all her suffering, in order to spare him distress. On the unanimous advice of several doctors the Rebbetzin was hospitalized. Soon after she arrived at the hospital she suddenly requested a glass of water. Shortly after midnight of Wednesday, the 22nd day of Shevat, the pure neshama of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka left this world. The Rebbetzin’s forebearers, Rebbetzin Rivka and Rebbetzin Shterna Sarah, her great-grandmother and grandmother, had asked for a glass of water minutes before their passing. It is recorded in many holy books that tzadikim often ask for water before their passing. One explanation that is given is that their souls thereby leave this world after reciting the proper blessing before drinking water, “…and everything is created through His word” and the blessing afterward “…He who creates many souls.” This same blessing will be said at the time of the resurrection of the dead in the Messianic Era.
In the merit of the Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, may we follow the Rebbe’s injunction to take her life’s accomplishments to heart, and with our many deeds of goodness and kindness, may we see the coming of Moshiach now.