My list keeps growing a youth with a chromosome disorder Raphael Chaim ben Chaya Rachel and the breast cancer gene in the family Aharona Aliza bat Chaya and Chava Malka bat Chaya. A note Avraham ben Devorah with advanced diabetes on my list broke his ankle and cannot be operated on due to his diabetes please keep praying for him and if possible in the Synagogue too when the names are read. At the present time David Zvi ben Sara Leah has his medical issues in remission so he can be removed at least temporarily from the Tehillim list.
A word about the Talmud on can start learning Berachos at www.e-daf.com in English, Hebrew or Yiddish
Throughout the world 50,000,000 people are learning Talmud. Korea has the largest population of Talmudic Scholars! To finish the whole Talmud learning a Daf (large folio page) a day aka Daf Yomi it takes 7.5 years to learn all 2,711 Dafim which contain 1,864,000 words and 7,387,321 letters. I am now less than half a Daf (Amud) to completing the whole Shass. I attended a Siyum of 175 page Baba Basra 17.5 years ago when my daughter was looking for a husband but I was missing a few Dafim. I have now just about finished the Tractate without missing anything.
There are things that can drain our strength. I drove from Yerushalayim at night to near to home by the Yeshuv Lapid within an area where I used to be able to see my house from the road perhaps less than a kilometer away. But there was an accident or some incident involving a few ambulances and traffic backed up for I don’t know how long plus construction. The whole trip had been up until this point between 20 to 25 minutes. It took 40 minutes to move that one kilometer. Moshe wanted for 40 years to move into Eretz Yisrael with the Am and time ran out. I felt the cumbrance of the 40 minute kilometer which some youths walked the distance and then getting to sleep hyper knocked me out like jet lag for the next two days. So this week I had to rely on a few captains of thousands and hundreds from Aish HaTorah to make this more an anthology than my regular Drasha.
7:12 How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife? 13 Get you, from each one of your tribes, wise men, and understanding, and full of knowledge, and I will make them heads over you.' 14 And ye answered me, and said: 'The thing which thou hast spoken is good for us to do.' 15 So I took the heads of your tribes, wise men, and full of knowledge, and made them heads over you, captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds, and captains of fifties, and captains of tens, and officers, tribe by tribe. 16 And I charged your judges at that time, saying: 'Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between a man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him.
There are times that burdens are great for Rabbis and for leading Rabbis even more. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein’s last words were in Yiddish “I don’t have the strength.” – see the Art Scroll biography of Rav Moshe. People used to line up for hours to see Rabbi so and so who are great leaders. I spoke to my grandson and said to him why not ask Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky Shlita which is the best Yeshiva for you and he answered that waiting on line to see him is very large amount of time and you get to talk for less than a minute. My wife wanted to speak to Rav Firer Shlita (specialist in medical problems when I needed a Parathyroid Operation) and dialed every 11AM to 11:30 AM for a few weeks to get an appointment. Usually the best thing is to send a fax and receive an answer via one of his secretaries. Sometimes, I get good questions from none Jews too. Courtney asked me about the blood prohibition of the Bnei Noach and how is this applied in practice. I spoke this over with the Dayan Rabbi Mimran Shlita and he said the prohibition according to the Rambam is only from a living animal and not like the blood prohibition which a Jew has. Often the questions open the mind and a few leave me to check and advise instead of answering on the spot.
17 Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; ye shall hear the small and the great alike; ye shall not be afraid of the face of any man; for the judgment is God's; and the cause that is too hard for you ye shall bring unto me, and I will hear it.'
It takes a real mensch to judge impartially between a stutterer and a slick snake oil salesman and many of the Judges today fall victim to this.
18 And I commanded you at that time all the things which ye should do. 19 And we journeyed from Horeb, and went through all that great and dreadful wilderness which ye saw, by the way to the hill-country of the Amorites, as the LORD our God commanded us; and we came to Kadesh-barnea.
To gain a perspective this is today partially inside of Israel and partially in Sinai south of the spring of Zin and is a border area that I patrolled and where the terrorists made their penetration into Israel this week. (See Inyanay Diyoma below for an article with the IDF films)
20 And I said unto you: 'Ye are come unto the hill-country of the Amorites, which the LORD our God gives unto us. 21 Behold, the LORD thy God hath set the land before thee; go up, take possession, as the LORD, the God of thy fathers, hath spoken unto thee; fear not, neither be dismayed.' 22 And ye came near unto me every one of you, and said: 'Let us send men before us, that they may search the land for us, and bring us back word of the way by which we must go up, and the cities unto which we shall come.' 23 And the thing pleased me well; and I took twelve men of you, one man for every tribe; 24 and they turned and went up into the mountains, and came unto the valley of Eshcol, and spied it out. 25 And they took of the fruit of the land in their hands, and brought it down unto us, and brought us back word, and said: 'Good is the land which the LORD our God giveth unto us.' 26 Yet ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God; 27 and ye murmured in your tents, and said: 'Because the LORD hated us, He hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.
This is sort of like my journey from Lapid to my home just a hop skip and a jump away and yet it took me 40 minutes for a less than a minute drive and it took that generation 40 years for less than a year’s conquest if done properly with HASHEM’s help. Yehoshua took a long time because he advanced from the valley but here the Bnei Yisrael were on a plateau and the country open before them. So instead of going up and having miracles. 28 Whither are we going up? our brethren have made our heart to melt, saying: The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and fortified up to heaven; and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakim there.' 29 Then I said unto you: 'Dread not, neither be afraid of them. 30 The LORD your God who goes before you, He shall fight for you, according to all that He did for you in Egypt before your eyes; 31 and in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the LORD thy God bore thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came unto this place. 32 Yet in this thing ye do not believe the LORD your God, 33 Who went before you in the way, to seek you out a place to pitch your tents in: in fire by night, to show you by what way ye should go, and in the cloud by day.' 34 And the LORD heard the voice of your words, and was wroth, and swore, saying: 35 'Surely there shall not one of these men, even this evil generation, see the good land, which I swore to give unto your fathers, 36 save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, he shall see it; and to him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon, and to his children; because he hath wholly followed the LORD.'
We have a tradition or at least a Medrash that states in the final year 15,000 did not die and on TU B’Av they made a celebration. How do I explain the Medrash? It is possible that they were not 100% in with the crowd but did not protest the mob and were silent and all the 40 years did Teshuva and cried out before HASHEM that in his Rav Chessed v’ Rachamim (mercy and compassion) forgave them as we say on Yom Kippur “Salachti Ki devrarecha” I have forgiven as you have spoken.
37 Also the LORD was angry with me for your sakes, saying: Thou also shalt not go in thither; 38 Joshua the son of Nun, who stands before thee, he shall go in thither; encourage thou him, for he shall cause Israel to inherit it. 39 Moreover your little ones, that ye said should be a prey, and your children, that this day have no knowledge of good or evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it. 40 But as for you, turn you, and take your journey into the wilderness by the way to the Red Sea.' 41 Then ye answered and said unto me: 'We have sinned against the LORD, we will go up and fight, according to all that the LORD our God commanded us.' And ye girded on every man his weapons of war, and deemed it a light thing to go up into the hill-country. 42 And the LORD said unto me: 'Say unto them: Go not up, neither fight; for I am not among you; lest ye be smitten before your enemies.' 43 So I spoke unto you, and ye hearkened not; but ye rebelled against the commandment of the LORD, and were presumptuous, and went up into the hill-country. 44 And the Amorites, that dwell in that hill-country, came out against you, and chased you, as bees do, and beat you down in Seir, even unto Hormah. 45 And ye returned and wept before the LORD; but the LORD hearkened not to your voice, nor gave ear unto you. 46 So ye abode in Kadesh many days, according unto the days that ye abode there.
A repeat of the history of Parsha Shelach Lecha to remind the people not to fear and to go up with Yehoshua, the people this time would harken to Moshe for they were educated in Torah, Halacha and Derech HASHEM (The ways of the L-RD).
8:1 All the commandment which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD swore unto your fathers. 2 And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God hath led thee these forty years in the wilderness, that He might afflict thee, to prove thee, to know what was in thy heart, whether thou would keep His commandments, or no. 3 And He afflicted thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knew not, neither did thy fathers know; that He might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD does man live.
Rabbi S. Baars Shlita wrote (condensed by me) in http://www.aish.com/print/?contentID=48955786§ion=/tp/i/ky THE NEEDS OF MAN:
Human beings, unlike animals, need "meaning" in life. The Kabbalists explain this as one of the parallels between the material and spiritual worlds: This drives us to want more than just bread. Even though it is a poor substitute for real fulfillment and meaning, food is often the focus of our quest for meaning. But man's drive for meaning is not found in a salami. Unfortunately, we are sometimes so badly focused that we will look to fulfill it in the most unlikely and sometimes counter-productive places.
This week's Parsha contains one of the Torah's most famous lines: "Man cannot live by bread alone" (Deuteronomy 8:3). Although these words are quoted frequently, the continuation of the verse is equally important: "...but by all that proceeds from the mouth of God."
What the verse is telling us is that since man cannot live on bread alone, he will either fill that extra space with real meaning - a relationship with His Creator, or he will look for substitutes to that meaning, such as food. In our day, restaurants are raised to the level of shrines; recipes are sacrosanct secrets; chefs are the high priests. Seeking the perfect sushi may make your cat's day, but it will do nothing more than "warm" your stomach. …
Question 1: Do you spend as much time fulfilling your spiritual needs as you do your bodily needs? Question 2: Anorexics don't realize they need to eat. Similarly, we often don't realize our soul is starving. When was the last time your soul felt satisfied?
4 Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years.
This is a tremendous series of miracles wrapped up in once sentence. How many people have a garment that withstood the test of time 40 years? People expand as they age garments have wear and tear. Have you ever walked with non-Orthopedic designed sandals or barefoot for 40 years without getting one foot injury? Rashi brings down the Gemara about clothing that stretched with the growth of a child.
Your clothing did not wear out: The clouds of glory would rub their [the Israelites’] clothes and clean them so that they looked like freshly laundered clothes. And also their children, as they grew, their clothes grew along with them, like a snail’s shell, which grows along with it- [Pesikta d’Rav Kahana p. 92a] nor did [your foot] swell: Heb. לֹא בָצֵקָה [This means:] Neither [did your foot] swell like dough בָּצֵק, as [usually happens] with those who walk barefoot, that their feet swell.
5 And thou shalt consider in thy heart, that, as a man chastens his son, so the LORD thy God chastens thee.
Moshe now reminds the Bnei Yisrael that they are children unto to Avinu Malkaynu (Our FATHER Our KING) and as a father wants the best for his children and admonishes them so too does G-D.
6 And thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, to walk in His ways, and to fear Him. 7 For the LORD thy God brings thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths, springing forth in valleys and hills;
Despite the desert country there are a few streams in the Sharon and especially in the Shomron region. There is a spring on road 443 that used to be of the best water in the country and cars stop there all the time to gather it but a year or two ago the health department issued a warning that due to creeping sewage into the water table it is advised not to drink from it any more. This is not far from the area where miracles occurred in Beit Horon. When Yisrael does Mitzvos there are more and more springs.
8 a land of wheat and barley, and vines and fig-trees and pomegranates; a land of olive-trees and honey;
The honey mentioned here is date honey and the land is rich with wild wheat and barley and these trees. However the blessing comes when we follow the Mitzvos.
9 a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou may dig brass.
We had in the past natural resources and in the future will have them again in abundance but because of our sins they are hidden from us.
10 And thou shalt eat and be satisfied, and bless the LORD thy God for the good land which He hath given thee. 11 Beware lest thou forget the LORD thy God, in not keeping His commandments, and His ordinances, and His statutes, which I command thee this day; … 17 and thou say in thy heart: 'My power and the might of my hand hath gotten me this wealth.' 18 But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God, for it is He that gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore unto thy fathers, as it is this day. 19 And it shall be, if thou shalt forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I forewarn you this day that ye shall surely perish. 20 As the nations that the LORD makes to perish before you, so shall ye perish; because ye would not hearken unto the voice of the LORD your God.
A blessing for observance is given and a warning what will happen for non-observance. Yisrael has always been and always will be a small nation – in my personal opinion; I view the nation as a quality nation not a quantity nation. China has over a 1.2 billion people and India about a billion but look at the number of Nobel Prize winners and hi-tech inventions that come from Yisrael. It is true that China has a system of producing medal winning athletes but it is brawn and sheer numbers vs. brains. Yisrael albeit small is a light unto the nations.
9:1 Hear, O Israel: thou art to pass over the Jordan this day, to go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than thyself, cities great and fortified up to heaven,
When it comes to Am Yisrael; the opposite of nature prevails. For in nature the many and mighty should triumph over the few and weak and yet generation after generation, crusades, inquisition, pogroms and holocaust has not stopped a nation above nature. Mighty nations like Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome have fallen and the Arab Conquest about to be reversed and all by the tiny nation of Yisrael and not by all the twelve tribes but mainly by Yehuda, Shimon, Benyamin, Levi and some mixture of remnants married into one nation. Read Blue and White Flag on Mars http://www.timesofisrael.com/the-blue-and-white-flag-on-the-red-planet-siemens-mars/?fb_action_ids=10151018687692690&fb_action_types=og.recommends&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582 thanks to my friend Valerie from Belfast. Also Israeli High School Students win the silver and bronze medals in chemistry: http://www.jpost.com/Health/Article.aspx?id=280775
2 a people great and tall, the sons of the Anakim, whom thou know, and of whom thou hast heard say: 'Who can stand before the sons of Anak?' 3 Know therefore this day, that the LORD thy God is He who goes over before thee as a devouring fire; He will destroy them, and He will bring them down before thee; so shalt thou drive them out, and make them to perish quickly, as the LRD hath spoken unto thee.
Have not fear, HASHEM is here.
4 Speak not thou in thy heart, after that the LORD thy God hath thrust them out from before thee, saying: 'For my righteousness the LORD hath brought me in to possess this land'; whereas for the wickedness of these nations the LORD does drive them out from before thee.
Avinu Malkaynu we have no deeds or merits but magnify your Tzeduka v’ Chessed and save us!
5 Not for your righteousness, or for the uprightness of your heart, do you go in to possess their land; but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD thy God does drive them out from before you, and that He may establish the word which the LORD swore unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
MAKE NO MISTAKE THIS APPLIES TO US TODAY LIVING IN ERETZ YISRAEL. Some of us have some merits some of the time but if it were not for G-D great Chessed we would not be here and surviving all of the time. For in every generation their rises up upon us to destroy us but THE HOLY ONE, blessed be HE, saves us from their hands.
6 Know therefore that it is not for thy righteousness that the LORD thy God gives thee this good land to possess it; for thou art a stiffnecked people.
As we say in Hebrew – Hey Ha Boob you were given Yehuda, Shomron, Gaza and Sinai and are throwing these presents away for nothing but your brain in gear and forget about the Shabbos violators screaming Peace with Assad back in 2000, Peace with Arafat, Give away Gaza. Where are we now you stiffnecked fairy tales from the Arabian Nights believers? Instead of saying Hallel and thanking HASHEM, our so called “leaders” bow down to the nations. Perhaps if we stood up like a Melech David against the Goliad for our rights we would be better off. For YOUR Kingdom is everlasting and YOU govern throughout all generations.
7 Remember, forget thou not, how thou didst make the LORD thy God wroth in the wilderness; from the day that thou didst go forth out of the land of Egypt, until ye came unto this place, ye have been rebellious against the LORD.
Maaseh Avos Siman Le Banim (The deeds of our fathers are signs for the children): Just as we had a rebellious generation after the cauldron of Mitzrayim so too after the infernal of the Shoah we have rebellious generation now.
Moshe then goes on to explain the incident of the Egel HaZahav (golden calf) and how he prayed for the Bnei Yisrael
… 10:1 At that time the LORD said unto me: 'Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first, and come up unto Me into the mount; and make thee an ark of wood. 2 And I will write on the tables the words that were on the first tables which thou didst break, and thou shalt put them in the ark.' 3 So I made an ark of acacia-wood, and hewed two tables of stone like unto the first, and went up into the mount, having the two tables in my hand. 4 And He wrote on the tables according to the first writing, the ten words, which the LORD spoke unto you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly; and the LORD gave them unto me. 5 And I turned and came down from the mount, and put the tables in the ark which I had made; and there they are, as the LORD commanded me. …
12 And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul;
And now, O Israel: Even though you did all this, His mercy and His affection are still upon you, and with all that you have sinned against Him, He demands nothing of you, except only to fear [the Lord, your God,… Only to fear [the Lord your God,…: Our Rabbis derived from this verse [“And now… what does… God demand of you”] that everything is in the hands of Heaven except the fear of Heaven (Ber. 33b).
13 to keep for thy good the commandments of the LORD, and His statutes, which I command thee this day?
Everybody according to his effort and everybody according to his own strength, for HASHEM desires honest following of the commands and striving to be better. I am not expected to be on the level of Moshe Rabbaynu in knowledge of Torah or the Ari Zal in knowledge of Kabala but on the level of myself with an honest effort. You are expected the same on your level of reading ability, mental capacity and dedication.
To keep the commandments of the Lord: and this too, is not for anything, but-for your good-that you should receive a reward.
14 Behold, unto the LORD thy God belongs the heaven, and the heaven of heavens, the earth, with all that therein is. 15 Only the LORD had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and He chose their seed after them, even you, above all peoples, as it is this day. 16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked. 17 For the LORD your God, He is God of gods, and Lord of lords, the great God, the mighty, and the awful, who regards not persons, nor takes reward. 18 He doth execute justice for the fatherless and widow, and loves the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. 19 Love ye therefore the stranger; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Unlike some ignorant people who are snobs, HASHEM blesses the Gerim that bind themselves to Am Yisrael like Rachav and Ruth.
Many of our greatest ancestors - Abraham, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel - were all converts! Also the great Talmudic sages Shemaya and Avtaliyon were converts. As was Onkelos, who wrote the Aramaic translation that is printed in virtually every Hebrew Bible.
So why does the Torah require us to be especially nice to converts? The commentators explain that a born Jew has relatives who will defend him; the convert does not, and that makes him particularly vulnerable.
On a deeper level, though, God Himself protects the convert directly. That's why this Parsha says to love the convert "because you were strangers in the land of Egypt." Just as the Almighty guarded us and rescued us in Egypt, so too God defends the convert.
There is a fascinating Kabbalistic idea that converts already have a Jewish soul, and even stood with the Jewish people at Mount Sinai. It is said that although the non-Jewish nations originally rejected the Torah, individual members of those nations sought to accept it. And the souls of these individuals appear in every generation as converts.
By the way, this idea of "future converts being present at Mount Sinai" helps explain why one of the primary requirements for conversion to Judaism is a commitment to keep the 613 mitzvot - just as the Jews did at Mount Sinai. http://www.aish.com/print/?contentID=48965941§ion=%2Ftp%2Fi%2Fky
20 Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; Him shalt thou serve; and to Him shalt thou cleave, and by His name shalt thou swear. 21 He is thy glory, and He is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and tremendous things, which thine eyes have seen. 22 Thy fathers went down into Egypt with threescore and ten persons; and now the LORD thy God hath made thee as the stars of heaven for multitude.
11:1 Therefore thou shalt love the LORD thy God, and keep His charge, and His statutes, and His ordinances, and His commandments, always. …
Below is the middle portion of the Shema prayer
13 And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto My commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, 14 that I will give the rain of your land in its season, the former rain and the latter rain, that thou may gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and your oil. 15 And I will give grass in thy fields for thy cattle, and thou shalt eat and be satisfied. 16 Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them; 17 and the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and He shut up the heaven, so that there shall be no rain, and the ground shall not yield her fruit; and ye perish quickly from off the good land which the LORD gives you. 18 Therefore shall ye lay up these My words in your heart and in your soul; and ye shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes. 19 And ye shall teach them your children, talking of them, when thou sit in thy house, and when thou walk by the way, and when thou lie down, and when thou rise up. 20 And thou shalt write them upon the door-posts of thy house, and upon thy gates; 21 that your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, upon the land which the LORD swore unto your fathers to give them, as the days of the heavens above the earth. 22 For if ye shall diligently keep all this commandment which I command you, to do it, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, and to cleave unto Him, 23 then will the LORD drive out all these nations from before you, and ye shall dispossess nations greater and mightier than yourselves. 24 Every place where upon the sole of your foot shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness, and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the hinder sea shall be your border. 25 There shall no man be able to stand against you: the LORD your God shall lay the fear of you and the dread of you upon all the land that ye shall tread upon, as He hath spoken unto you.
Hilchos Deyos of the Rambam http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/910340/jewish/Chapter-One.htm
[Our Sages] taught [the following] explanation of this mitzvah:
Just as He is called "Gracious," you shall be gracious;
Just as He is called "Merciful," you shall be merciful;
Just as He is called "Holy," you shall be holy;
In a similar manner, the prophets called God by other titles: "Slow to anger," "Abundant in kindness," "Righteous," "Just," "Perfect," "Almighty," "Powerful," and the like. [They did so] to inform us that these are good and just paths. A person is obligated to accustom himself to these paths and [to try to] resemble Him to the extent of his ability.
Commentary Halacha 6
As emphasized in the introduction to this text, the Rambam has structured the Mishneh Torah with the intent of "revealing all the laws to the great and to the small with regard to each and every mitzvah." He does not mention philosophical and ethical concepts unless they are Halachos - i.e., practical directives for our behavior.
In this context, we can understand the structure of this chapter. The Rambam set out to describe the mitzvah of following God's ways. As stated in this Halacha, he perceives this to mean developing our personalities by emulating the qualities which the Creator reveals. As he states in the following Halacha, those qualities are identical with the middle path of human behavior. Therefore, in the initial halachot of this chapter, the Rambam sets out to describe the nature of human personality and the ideal temperaments - the middle path - that man should seek to achieve. Having laid down this foundation, he is able to define that mitzvah in this Halacha and begin offering directives for its fulfillment in Halacha 7.
[Our Sages] taught [the following] explanation of this mitzvah - The Rambam appears to be referring to the Sifre, Ekev 11:22, which he quotes in Sefer HaMitzvot (ibid.). That explanation is also paralleled in the Mechiltah (Exodus 14:2) and Shabbat 133b.
It must be noted that other Talmudic and Midrashic sources interpret the commandment to imitate God in a different light. Note Sotah 14a:
[Deuteronomy 13:5 states]: "You shall walk after God, your Lord." Is it possible for man to walk after the Divine Presence? Has it not been stated: "Behold, God, your Lord, is a consuming fire" (Deuteronomy 4:24)?
Rather, [it means] one should follow the qualities of God.
Just as He dresses the naked..., you, too, should dress the naked;
God visited the sick...; you, too, should visit the sick;
God comforted the bereaved...;you, too, should comfort the bereaved;
God buried the dead...; you, too, should bury the dead.
In Sefer HaMitzvot, the Rambam mentions emulating both God's deeds and His qualities. Similarly, Sefer HaChinuch, in its description of this mitzvah, and the Kiryat Sefer in his commentary - both here in Hilchos De'ot and also in Hilchos Eivel - mention both deeds and qualities.
There is not necessarily a contradiction between these two emphases. As mentioned above, our actions reflect our personalities. Therefore, it follows that developing our characters in the manner outlined by the Rambam in this Halacha will ultimately produce the good deeds mentioned by our Sages in the passage from Sotah.
Nevertheless, deed is often not a reflection of character. A person with many severe character faults may still do good deeds. Hence, for the "resemblance of God" to be complete, it is not sufficient merely to perform positive deeds. Rather, a person must undergo internal change by developing his character. Therefore, the Rambam focuses more on this aspect of the commandment.
Just as He is called "Gracious," you shall be gracious; Just as He is called "Merciful," you shall be merciful; Just as He is called "Holy," you shall be holy; - Neither the Sifre nor the other sources quoted above mention the trait of holiness. Rather, the third trait mentioned is "piety." Perhaps, since the Rambam gave a specific definition for piety in the previous Halacha within his conception of personality development, he does not mention it in the present context to prevent any possible confusion.
In a similar manner, the prophets - The Rambam's choice of words is somewhat surprising since many of these expressions are also found in the Torah as well as in the prophetic works. However, in the Torah these titles are mentioned by Moses or the other prophets. Perhaps this is the Rambam's intent.
called God by other titles: "Slow to anger," "Abundant in kindness," "Righteous," "Just," "Perfect," "Almighty," "Powerful," and the like. - In Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah 1:11-12 and in detail in Moreh Nevuchim (Guide to the Perplexed), Vol. I, Chapters 53 and 54, the Rambam explains that these names are not descriptions of God, who cannot be defined by any specific quality. To do so would limit Him and detract from His infinite and transcendent state of being.
Rather, the use of these titles must be understood as follows: God brings about activities, which, had they been carried out by man, would have been motivated by these emotional states. For example, instead of utterly destroying the Jews after the sin of the Golden Calf, God allowed our people to continue. Were such a deed to have been performed by a human ruler, we would describe him as "slow to anger." Though that term cannot serve as a description for God - for He cannot be described - the Torah and the prophets referred to Him by such terms with the following intent.
[They did so] to inform us that these are good and just paths. - i.e., God acted in ways which we identify with these qualities - and the Torah and the prophets mention these actions - because these are attributes which man should strive to achieve.
A person is obligated to accustom himself to these paths and [to try to] resemble Him - Likkutei Sichot (ibid.) states that with the latter phrase, the Rambam is adding a new thought. As explained above, God cannot be described by any particular quality. If He manifests a quality, it is for a specific intent.
In Moreh Nevuchim (ibid., Chapter 54), the Rambam mentions that the leader of a country should act in a similar manner.
Sometimes he will be merciful and generous to some people - not because of his feelings and natural compassion, but because they are deserving of such treatment.
Sometimes he will bear a grudge, seek revenge, and rage against certain people - not out of feelings of anger... - but in order to produce positive results....
The ultimate ideal man can achieve is to imitate God according to his potential... i.e., to have our deeds resemble His deeds.
For this reason, human behavior should not be motivated by the spontaneous expression of emotion. Rather, man's emotions should arise as the result of a deliberate process of thought.
This reflects themes brought out in the previous Halachos of this chapter: that a person must constantly evaluate and review his emotions (Halachah 4); that it is a wise man who is able to appreciate the middle path (Halacha 5).
This is what is meant by the imitation of God: that a person not be controlled by the unchecked expression of his emotions. Rather, he should control his feelings and, motivated by his desire to resemble God, search to find the correct and proper quality, the middle path, appropriate to the situation at hand.
to the extent of his ability. - for man is ultimately finite in nature, and no true resemblance to God is possible.
How can one train himself to follow these temperaments to the extent that they become a permanent fixture of his [personality]?
He should perform - repeat - and perform a third time - the acts which conform to the standards of the middle road temperaments. He should do this constantly, until these acts are easy for him and do not present any difficulty. Then, these temperaments will become a fixed part of his personality.
Since the Creator is called by these terms and they make up the middle path which we are obligated to follow, this path is called "the path of God." This is [the heritage] which our Patriarch Abraham taught his descendants, as [Genesis 18:19] states: "for I have known Him so that he will command his descendants...to keep the path of God."
One who follows this path brings benefit and blessing to himself, as [the above verse continues]: "so that God will bring about for Abraham all that He promised."
Commentary Halacha 7
How can one train himself to follow these temperaments to the extent that they become a permanent fixture of his [personality]? - Having established personality development as a mitzvah in the previous halachah, the Rambam begins his explanation of how this mitzvah is fulfilled.
He should perform - repeat - and perform a third time - Thus, a person's deeds will shape his character traits.
In this process of personal change, the stress is on the repetition of an act, and not on its quantity or intensity. In his Commentary on the Mishnah, Avot 3:15, the Rambam writes that giving a thousand coins to one person at one time is not as effective in stimulating feelings of generosity as giving a single coin one thousand times.
As mentioned in Halacha 4, though the Rambam's explanations in this chapter parallel those of the fourth chapter of Shemonah Perakim, the texts differ in stressing actions (as the opening lines of that chapter imply), or on character development, which is the theme of our text.
For this reason, the two texts also perceive the process of causation differently. In Shemoneh Perakim, the Rambam states: "These actions [good actions] are produced as a result of these [the good] traits," while here he sees the traits being produced by the actions.
Nevertheless, the two texts do not actually contradict each other. Both statements are true. Our deeds reflect our personalities, and they also help shape those personalities. Generally, this means that a person's behavior will reinforce and strengthen the character traits that motivated those very deeds. However, this chapter - and more particularly, this Halacha - deals with a person who has made a commitment to change and refine his character. Therefore - based on his intellect and the directives of the Torah, rather than his spontaneous feelings - he chooses to perform deeds that will bring about this process of inner change.
which conform to - reflect and are motivated by...
the standards of the middle road temperaments - described in Halachos 4 and 5.
He should do this constantly, until these acts are easy for him and do not present any difficulty. - A trait possessed by a person produces activities naturally and spontaneously. However, if one has not acquired a trait as yet, certain actions will be foreign to his nature, and one must trouble himself to perform them.
For example, a liberal man gives charity naturally; the miser must force himself to give. The action for each is the same, but not the inner feelings.
Then, these temperaments will become a fixed part of his personality. - If the miser continues to give frequently, he will find that he no longer feels like a miser, but has become liberal in heart as well as in hand.
Since the Creator - The Rambam uses the term yotzer - literally "the One who forms" - (which appears only one other time in the Mishneh Torah: Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah 1:7).
The Rambam describes God as the Creator with reference to the Divine qualities he describes in these Halachos. Before the existence of the world and man, there would be no purpose for God to reveal these qualities, for until man's creation, no one could learn from or emulate them.
[The word yotzer may also be used because of its connection to the word Yetzer, meaning drive or inclination. (See Rashi, Genesis 2:7.)]
is called by these terms and they make up the middle path which we are obligated to follow, this path is called "the path of God." - As stated in the commentary on the previous Halacha, "the path of God" involves controlling our emotions by using our intellect, so that our behavior is, to the extent that is possible for man, an objective response to a situation. In this manner, our behavior bears a resemblance to God's transcendence of worldly matters.
This is [the heritage] which our Patriarch Abraham taught his descendants - See the Midrash Tanchuma, Shoftim 15:
And what are the ways of God? Righteousness and justice, as it is stated: "And they will keep the path of God to do righteousness and justice" (Genesis 18:19).
as [Genesis 18:19] states: "for I have known Him so that he will command his descendants...to keep the path of God." - Since the path of God is mentioned in the context of Abraham's service, it appears that walking in those ways is not synonymous with the performance of the 613 commandments - for they had not been given in Abraham's time. Rather, it must refer to ethics, qualities like righteousness and justice, which are mentioned in that verse.
One who follows this path brings benefit and blessing to himself, as [the above verse continues]: "so that God will bring about for Abraham all that He promised." - The Rambam concludes his description of the obligation to develop our characters with the assurance that, ultimately, this course of behavior will bring us benefit and blessing.
We have completed chapter one and will continue onwards.
I sometimes think that we do see what we are doing to ourselves. Robert Burns wrote in Scottish and I am rewriting it in American English. Oh the POWER the gift to give us, to see us, it would from many a blunder free us, and foolish notion, and leave us with an air of devotion. Two women were in the news recently and I said suppose one of my male readers was introduced to both on a blind date which one he would want to marry and be the woman to raise his children. One was a very dynamic birth control activist named Sarah Fluke and the other a simple Chick-Fil-A employee named Rachel Elizabeth who when harassed by a jerk gave him customer service with a smile. The first one looked bitter and had a chip on her shoulder against the world. The second looked at peace within herself and the world. Even if you never saw them on the news based on my conclusions on how they looked which one would you want to put up with you when you are down and out and be a mother to your children. Men who are not married and ladies who are not married perhaps you have been dating the wrong type of person or perhaps you are sending out the wrong messages to other people.
Getting back to Torah, Mitzvos and Judaism; how do we appear to HASHEM when we act? Every morning in the preliminary Shema in the Korbanos section of the prayers that many skip and don’t return to, it is written: Forever let a man behave in private as he behaves in public. Will the walls of our house or bedroom or hotel rooms testify about our behavior negatively after 120 years? Or do we conduct ourselves as modestly as possible under the covers in a darkened or completely dark room? Do we learn Torah on the internet or go into some adult sites that make the Rabbis say that the internet should be banned? We have a choice between good and evil.
HASHEM provides me with a story each week but it is Thursday and nothing really on the horizon but suddenly:
How I Discovered I Was Jewish Finding My Jewish Roots in China By Sasson Goldfan
Growing up, I was unaware of my Jewish heritage. My mother converted to Christianity before she married my father, and she actively hid our Jewish roots from my sister and me. Considering that all our relatives on her side of the family are unambiguously Jewish, this was no simple task, and as we grew older we became suspicious. But when we asked, our mother explained that the rest of the family had converted to Judaism when she was in college. This seemed a bit suspect, but having no more than a general knowledge of Judaism, we figured it was just like any other religion that people join and leave easily.
My first real clue came when I was 17 and visiting my Orthodox cousins. They kept trying to convince me that I was Jewish, and I kept denying it. The conversation went something like this:
“No, I’m not. I don’t believe in G‑d.”
“It doesn’t matter. You’re Jewish because your mother is Jewish.”
“But my mother isn’t Jewish, she’s Christian.”
“Your mother is Jewish because her mother is Jewish, and that makes you Jewish.”
This is the point where the wheels really started turning for me—the realization that Jewishness is hereditary through the mother, and the understanding that people don’t generally convert to Judaism casually, especially not entire extended families.
Four years later, my uncle came to visit me in Santa Cruz, where I was studying. This was the first time I had met with him one-on-one as an adult, and I seized the opportunity to ask him point blank, “So, Ray, are we Jewish?”
“So Jewish,” was his answer.
He explained that not only were we Jewish, but that growing up, he, my mother and all their siblings had attended Hebrew school and synagogue, and kept Shabbat. As you can imagine, this was a major revelation.
Because I’m clearly of mixed race, people have always been curious about my background. Throughout my childhood, I would answer, “My dad is Chinese and my mom is Heinz 57,” which was another way of saying, “some kind of generic blend of white.”
But now I had suddenly acquired a second race, only it wasn’t quite a race, or a religion, or an ethnicity. All of a sudden I had discovered that I was a Jew, and I had no idea what that actually meant. I did know, however, that it was a big deal. And I knew I was now part of a very clannish, cohesive group with an intense shared history of genocide, persecution, controversy, and a disproportionately prominent role in the course of world history.
Frankly, it was a lot to swallow.
My sister thought so too—I called her as soon as I found out.
“I knew it,” she said. I could tell she was narrowing her eyes conspiratorially. “So what does that mean?” she asked.
“I don’t know! But it’s definitely something . . . I think we get to go to Israel for free.”
“Do we want to go to Israel?”
“For free? Of course!”
“Haha, you already sound like a Jew!”
“You’re a Jew . . .”
And that’s pretty much how we left it. I never did manage to take that Birthright trip, and aside from some Jewish girlfriends, I had little to no contact with the Jewish community, culture or religion for the next seven years.
After graduating from college, I floated from job to job for a few years. Eventually I ended up working in a Chinese-style teahouse in Austin, Texas, performing a traditional tea service known as gong fu cha. I had always identified with my Chinese heritage, and despite growing up without the language, I had cultivated an interest in Chinese culture from a young age. The job consisted primarily of serving tea and being charming, and I met a lot of customers with connections in China. In 2010, after receiving my tax return and an unsolicited tarot reading, I moved to Chengdu, China, to work for an environmental nonprofit organization doing freshwater conservation research.
By early 2012 I was fluent in Chinese, working multiple jobs and renting a small apartment by the river. My Jewish heritage was, for the most part, just an excuse to get drunk whenever I met traveling Israelis. Then my eldest Orthodox cousin, who confused me all those years ago, came to visit. She brought a siddur and began to introduce me to Jewish prayer, and eventually took me to my first Purim party.
The party was held at the Chabad House of Chengdu. The young Israeli rabbi, Dovi Henig, had arrived with his wife just a week earlier, and the Purim party was their first major event. Dovi and I had an instant rapport; he was fascinated by my almost complete ignorance of my own heritage, and seemed to take genuine pleasure in answering my questions about the most basic aspects of Judaism. I ended up visiting him nearly every day for the next two weeks, and by the end of the month he had bar mitzvahed me.
Now, here I am, writing an article for a website whose name I would not have been able to pronounce just one year ago. I’ve celebrated Purim, Pesach, Lag BaOmer and many Shabbatot, and I’ve put on tefillin almost a dozen times.
Do I know now what it means to be Jewish? Not really. It’s something I’m learning about slowly. But I have discovered what it feels like to be Jewish.
It feels like being part of a family.
Ask Dr. Yosef Thursday, August 2nd, 2012
Question: My husband goes to work and I stay home and take care of three kids. We have been married for six years. We have a house, we have food, we have clothing – in other words our physical needs are met. I feel so silly complaining and even guilty. But, what can I do, I don’t feel fulfilled. I feel like I need to express myself in more ways. Should I content myself with raising children and taking care of my home? Maybe I am wrong for not being fulfilled with this – maybe it should be enough? After all, raising a Jewish family is a great thing? Is there something wrong with me?
Dr. Yosef replies: I reviewed the general theme of your letter with a few women and I can tell you that what you wrote resonated strongly with all of them; e.g. mostly they agreed with you. While it is true that raising a Jewish family is a great thing, and as the Rebbe has said, the woman is the mainstay of the home, nevertheless, you don’t feel fulfilled and need to find additional ways to express yourself. It appears that you had a different set of expectations which have not been realized, to the point that you are questioning yourself and wondering if there is something wrong with you. Please be assured that taking care of three children all under that age of five along with “keeping house” is very hard work. Even with the best children, there are periods of frustration where one may give vent to angry feelings. However, raising a Jewish family must include Torah study and acts of chessed in order to achieve your ambitions and potential. I heard recently from Rav Chaim Shalom about a remark the Rebbe made to a certain chossid: The Rebbe said to him, “Would that men knew the Torah that women have to know,” i.e. women must know the code of laws as for example kashrut, Shabbos, etc., in order to have a proper Jewish home. They must also know Chassidic teachings to practice love of one’s fellow man and to convey it to the family. This means that you must make time, or take time, to study Torah and Chassidus which can make everything you are doing now more meaningful. Probably, you will need to have help to free you up for a period of time each week, to attend shiurim or to study on your own or with a chavruta – but it is really necessary in order to feel you are doing what G-d wants you to do; what you are supposed to do. Is there something wrong with you? I doubt it. Your letter suggests you want to be a good parent and are working hard at it. Torah study may be what you are lacking and can make a big difference. P.S. Please show this letter to your husband. He sounds like a decent guy. He will have to help you to free up the time for learning.
Dr. Yosef Halbfinger – Personal, Marriage (Sholom Bayis) & Family Issues–English, Hebrew, Yiddish– Halachic Advisor: HaRav Chaim Sholom Deitsch, shlita. (02) 627-1534; (0547)-651288, 38 Misgavladach, Old City, JM.
The Truth is out there
Two weeks ago a general alarm was sent to Egypt about a possible terror attack and last Friday a general went to Cairo with more specific details. My grandson hit the nail on the head, he is less than 16, even before all the details of the Sinai attack into the Negev was complete that they will find a way to blame the Jews (Israelis). The news came on and as the story was winding up they said that the Muslim Brotherhood claimed that the attack was the work of the Mossad.
Politics has a lot of filth in it but let us not resort to defaming someone on purpose. The laws of Lashon HaRa are clear on even revealing a truthful thing all the more so false accusations and groundless accusations. Defame me and I will sue you: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4266390,00.html
Syria heats up: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4264044,00.html
Iran creeping closer and closer to weapons grade materials http://www.debka.com/article/22237/Iran-prepares-for-60-percent-uranium-enrichment
Is the US serious or is this a postponement to lull us for the US elections? http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/158563#.UBu_z_XVv1U
Syrian Border is not cold http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4264313,00.html
Clinton Aide tied to Muslim Brotherhood and the Reform are up in arms against the truth: http://www.jpost.com/Features/InThespotlight/Article.aspx?id=280043
An Ed-op on Iran: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4264089,00.html
Israel will be attacked even if we stay out and let the US do the job on Iran: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4264459,00.html
Israel upgrading missile shield with more threats from Iran: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/158587#.UB40A_XVv1U
127:1 A Song of the Steps (of the Beis HaMikdash); of Solomon. Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it; except the LORD keep the city, the watchman guards but in vain. Terrorists http://www.jpost.com/Defense/Article.aspx?id=280204
Update on Sinai and the terror threat. http://www.debka.com/article/22252/Egyptian-helicopters-join-battle-against-renewed-Islamist-attack
Israeli Citizen Arabs http://www.jpost.com/Defense/Article.aspx?id=280480
Guess what Israel thinks of Jimmy Carter: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/158705#.UCJEv6PVv1U
Egypt claims to have killed 20 terrorist but our sources tell us not to believe them same goes for the Syrian Rebels: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4265957,00.html
Egypt will start listening to Israel: http://www.debka.com/article/22252/Morsi-axes-military-intelligence-chiefs-over-Sinai-security-breakdown
Revised intelligence on Iran!!! http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/158741#.UCNyhqPVv1U
Fascist Ehud and politicization of the IDF http://honenu.org/akiva-hacohen-returns-home-with-family-after-year-under-restraining-order/
Syrian army retakes Aleppo frontline district of Salaheddine The rebels abandoned their last stronghold in the key city of Aleppo, its southern gateway, Wednesday after days of relentless battering by the Syrian army. Assad used all possible means to recover Syria’s largest city whose fall would have placed in question the survival of his regime.
Maybe it is time to stop the birther idea after all and link to the communist idea. http://www.wnd.com/2012/08/filmmaker-see-photos-of-obamas-real-siblings/
What is the US bottom line? Barak: A nuclear Iran is taking shape before us. Time for decisions is short http://www.debka.com/article/22254/Barak-A-nuclear-Iran-is-taking-shape-before-us-Time-for-decisions-is-short
This weapon is also dangerous for Israeli Soldiers http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4266902,00.html
Re Good Shabbos Story: It came out only around the time that the Shabbos was starting in Israel. “The one and only!” and “What He Wants”.
Good Shabbos Everyone. One of the most heart-wrenching jobs that a Rabbi does is visiting the sick in the hospital. Rabbi Emanuel Feldman of Atlanta, Georgia often visited ill people in local hospitals to encourage them and to pray for their recovery. Rabbi Feldman tells of one particularly memorable experience visiting a woman who was very ill.
Mrs. Mary Lichtman was suffering from the horible disease in many parts of her body. The disease had spread to her lungs and her throat. Rabbi Feldman happened to visit the woman the day before the woman’s larynx would be removed in surgery. This was Mary Lichtman’s last day on earth with the power of speech. Without the larynx, speaking would be impossible for Mrs. Lichtman.
When Rabbi Feldman entered the hospital room, Mrs. Lichtman was surrounded by close family members who had gathered to show their love and support. Mrs. Lichtman appeared to be in good spirits. Soon, the family members withdrew and left Rabbi Feldman to speak with the ailing woman. Mrs. Lichtman became very upset; she could no longer hold in her emotions.
Rabbi Feldman tried to assure her, but to no avail. Rabbi Feldman then suggested that Mrs. Lichtman might feel a little better if she prayed to Hashem. Mrs. Lichtman said that she did not know any prayers. It was her last day with speech on this earth and she did not know any prayers.
Rabbi Feldman suggested that the two say the Shma together. Rabbi Feldman led Mrs. Lichtman saying slowly, word for word “Shma, Yisroel, Ad-noi El-heynu, Ad-noi Echad!” The first Hebrew words that she ever spoke were also the last Hebrew words she ever spoke.(p.213-5 Tales out of Shul, R’Emanuel Feldman)
The only Hebrew words Mrs. Lichtman spoke are perhaps the most important words in the entire Torah. We read the Shma in this week’s portion Va’Eschanan, as the verse says “Hear O’ Israel, Hashem is our G-d, Hashem is the one and only.”(Devarim 6:4) The Shma is the most important verse in the Torah because it defines the Jewish Nation. We are a nation which believes that Hashem is the Master of the Universe. Rambam explains this principle of Jewish faith in the following way: “I believe in perfect faith that Hashem is One. There is no unity that is in any way like His, He alone is our G-d -- He was, He is, and He will be.” (Maimonides’ Principles, Aryeh Kaplan Anthology I, p.30)
Before World War II, the mayor of Kosznitz was an assimilated Jew who had even married a non-Jew. His name was Joseph Gonchor. The Jewish mayor Gonchor was not particularly friendly to the local Jewish population. When the dreaded war finally reached Kosznitz, the Germans rounded up all the Jews, including Gonchor. On the day after Rosh HaShana 5704 (1943) the Germans burned down the Kosznitzer Shul.
Mayor Gonchor was taken in for interrogation. Soon, all the Jews were forced to gather in the town square. A car drove up and the Germans led the mayor out into the square. A large fire was prepared.
The Germans then brought out a sefer Torah.
As the local Jews gathered around, the Germans told the Jewish mayor: “Throw this sefer Torah into the fire or we will throw you into the fire.” The assimilated Jewish mayor hesitated. His non-Jewish wife pleaded with him to give into the Germans and throw the sefer Torah into the fire. The mayor thought for a moment and then said out loud for all to hear: “My grandparents and great-grandparents sacrificed their lives to uphold this Torah, and should I now throw it into the fire?” The Germans then took the Jewish mayor and wrapped the sefer Torah around his body and then set the flame to the sefer Torah. As the flames grew higher, the heretofore assimilated Jewish mayor cried out “Shma Yisroel, Ad-noi El-heinu, Ad-noi Echad.”
The deceased mayor's non-Jewish wife later produced a letter which her husband Gonchor had written shortly before his demise. "I left my religion because of my need to make a living and to advance my profession. But as much as I tried to forget my origins, I could not. My girsa deyankusa the Torah that I learned as a child, remained with me and followed me, not willing to leave me alone Regrettably, I did not live my life as a Jew. But I beg you the Al-mighty, to let the Torah that I learned as a child protect me so that at least I will die as a Jew."
Every Jew eventually comes to recognize Hashem’s unity and His mastery over the whole world. Hashem is One and He is the only One. He rules the world. He was, He is, and He always will be. He has no beginning and no end. He is not limited by time or space or corporality.
It is a mitzvah from the Torah to read the Shma twice a day, once at night and once in the morning. Jews also have the custom to read the Shma before going to sleep at night. The mitzvah of reading the Shma two times a day, includes all three paragraphs of the Shma as found in every prayer book. The Great Code of Jewish Law tells us that one should read the Shma intending to fulfill the mitzvah of announcing Hashem’s oneness. (Shulchan Aruch, 61:1) The Shma should be read with fear and trembling. (Ibid)
When one looks at the first sentence of the Shma in a Torah scroll, one notices that two letters are larger than the others. The final letters “ayin” of the first word Shma and “dalet” of the last word Echad, are in large print. The Hebrew letters “ayin” and “dalet” spell the Hebrew word “Eyd,” which means ‘witness.’ By reading the Shma, a Jew is testifying to Hashem’s mastery over the world.
For poor Mrs. Lichtman and the Gonchor, the Jewish mayor of Kosznitz, it took the angel of death to awaken within them belief in Hashem’s oneness. Hopefully, we will never have to be in the position of those poor souls. Let us not wait for our last breath to say Shma with conviction. Rather, let us recite the Shma everyday and cry out our perfect faith in Hashem, the One and Only G-d. Good Shabbos Everyone.
Good Shabbos Everyone. Our portion this week Eikev contains some of the most powerful spiritual lessons of the entire Torah. For example, the Torah tells us this week, "Now, O' Yisroel, what does Hashem, your G-d ask of you? Only to fear Hashem, your G-d to go in all his ways…"(Devorim 10:12) The commentator the Chinuch explains that this verse is the source of the mitzvah to hold Hashem in awe. (Mitzvah #432)
In his commentary on this verse, Rashi quotes the Sages who saying "Everything is in the hands of Heaven, except for Fear of Heaven." (Brachos 33b) The Vilna Gaon explains the meaning of the words of the Sages in a very inspirational way: (As heard from Reb Ephraim Wachsman) Hashem is the master of the Universe and everything in it, as Dovid HaMelech (King David) tells us in Tehillim (Psalms) "To Hashem belongs the earth and all it's fullness…" (24:1) Thus, there is nothing we can give to Hashem because everything is His. However, there is one thing that Hashem does not have, that is fear of Himself! Thus, we see that the only thing we can really give the Master of the Universe is our fear of Him. Let us read the following account of one Jew with tremendous fear of Hashem.
For many long years of his life Rabbi Ytizchok Zilber, of blessed memory, suffered from the Communist regime in Russia and its brutal persecution of anything Jewish.
When he was eighteen, Rabbi Zilber applied to the Institute of Chemistry and Technology so that he would be able to observe Shabbos. In order to get into the Institute, he had to pass an entrance exam, but he had no means with which to obtain the textbooks, and so he came to the test without ever having seen the material on which he was to be tested! He then uttered a short prayer: Hashem, You know how hard I work in order to keep Shabbos. I will do mine, and so please, do Yours!"
For some reason, he showed up to the test a half an hour late. He was rebuked soundly but they agreed to admit him and ordered him to wait until he was called. As he waited, he saw a student perusing the book "History of the [Communist] Party" and he asked the student to borrow it for a few minutes. Rabbi Zilber opened it randomly to a chapter which discussed the seventh convention of the Communist Party, and which detailed the speeches of Lenin and Bukharin.
After reading and a page and a quarter he was called in. He "randomly" took a card from the box of questions, and on it was the subject he would have to deliver a lecture. His card stated: "The Seventh Convention of the Party - The Speeches of Lenin and Bukharin." Needless to say, he passed the exam and he was accepted.
Once as a teacher, Rabbi Zilber almost died of starvation. After completing university he began teaching in the village of Stolovichi in the Kazan region, where he would stay the entire week and go home only for Shabbos.
One winter day in 1942, he made his way to the village assuming that he would be able to eat breakfast there before beginning school. It was forty-two degrees below zero, and he ran the twelve miles to the village, arriving within three hours. By eight o'clock in the morning he was already at the school, but he found that the bakery ovens could not be fired up because the wood that fueled them could not be transported due to the cold, and that nothing had been baked.
Because of the weather the students were also let off from school, but the authorities made sure that the teachers did not remain bored, and sent them to conduct registration for the following school year in nearby villages. Still hungry, Rabbi Zilber set off for the village he was assigned to, three miles away. He began navigating his way through the accumulated snow, but felt his strength waning rapidly. He relates: "I stuck my hand in my pocket and felt an object wrapped in paper: it was a small block of halvah. For three years we had barely seen butter or sugar, and here I was holding halvah! Where had it come from? I didn't know. Later on I found out that my mother had succeeded in purchasing the delicacy from a neighbor, and put it into my pocket. It was the only food item in the house at the time of my departure. I ate it and immediately felt better. I used the last reserves of my energy to get to the village, register the children, and return to the school."
Rabbi Zilber did not receive bread that evening, nor the next morning. Only on the second evening did they light the ovens and bake bread. "I took and ate four-and-a-half pounds of bread, but I was still hungry afterwards!"
"Davening in Stolovichi was an ongoing difficulty. I couldn't pray where I slept because I shared a room with the landlord's sons; outside, people were constantly passing by. I found an interesting solution- the doors of the school's entrance were extremely wide. I had never seen such wide doors. When I stood behind them, no one could see me. 'Praised be Hashem for creating such doors,' I thought to myself and began to pray.
"After the first lesson, I peeked through a crack in the door and saw the students playing ball in the schoolyard enthusiastically, and decided it was the perfect time to put on tefillin. I did the same thing every day. One day the bell rang just when I was about to begin Shemoneh Esrei (Amidah). I heard someone calling my name and had to stop my prayers, put away my tefillin and come out of my hiding place. How would I teach the lesson — I couldn't speak?!
"I began to explain myself using hand motions. I opened the book, pointed to the problem that I wanted and chose a student to come and stand at the board and work it out. The students began asking me about my strange behavior: "Are you angry at us?" I was quiet.
"Tell us what the problem is and we'll fix it." I was quiet until the lesson was over. Only during the next lesson, by which time I had finished davening, did I "explain" myself to my class.
Eventually he was transferred to Kazan, where he taught history, but here too he continued in his secretive davening. Minchah in Kazan was a serious problem. The lesson finished at a quarter to five, while sunset was a few minutes after five. As such, Rabbi Zilber would leave school to pray at a nearby bus stop, being particular to leave exactly at 4:45 pm. There was a small wooden newspaper stand where Pravda (Truth [sic!]) newspapers were sold.
Fortunately, there weren't inappropriate pictures in the paper at the time, and he was able to pretend he was reading while in reality he was praying. When he reached the passages that required bowing, Rabbi Zilber would lean forward as if wishing to closely examine the names in the ads.
One day while he was in the middle of Shemoneh Esrei (Amida) two teachers from the school approached him: Anna Fodorovna and Fyodor Terasovitz. The latter was a known informer, and no one wanted to get on the wrong side of him, because wherever he worked he made sure to get employees fired on trumped-up charges. And this was the man who was approaching Rabbi Zilber as he davened.
"Yitzchak Yakovlevitz!" Fyodor called out. "What great timing! We wanted to consult with you about the final exams. What do you say? Where and when should we hold them?"
Rabbi Zilber did not even dream of disrupting his davening. He pointed to his heart and his mouth, as if he wasn't feeling well and couldn't even speak from the pain. The two panicked and called an ambulance. By the time it arrived, Rabbi Zilber had already finished davening and reassured the doctor and his two colleagues that he was feeling better and could even speak already.
After being imprisoned in 1951 on false charges, Rabbi Zilber continued davening in his prison cell, where his company consisted of criminals and informers. He had to work hard to find a place in the crowded cell that was four cubits away from the waste buckets and their repulsive odor.
A week after he was transferred to a labor camp was Rosh HaShanah. Rabbi Zilber knew the tefillos by heart, but he wanted a machzor in order to show the other Jews with him. He remembered Vishnev, a Jew, who served as the Communist secretary of the camp and decided to enlist his help. Despite his communist education and the fact that he greatly admired Stalin, Vishnev was an honest person by nature and Rabbi Zilber appealed to him: "If I give you an address, will you bring me a sefer from there?"
The man agreed, and brought a machzor, mishnayos, a Tanach and a Hagaddah, but warned Rabbi Zilber: "Even if they tear these books up, don't reveal who brought them to you." Many years later, in 1992, Rabbi Zilber held a Pesach Seder in Moscow, where he retold the story of the Seder night in the labor camp and mentioned Vishnev's name as the one who had brought him the Haggadah. Present at the time was a couple from Kazan. After returning home, they found Vishnev's son and told them the story.
The son immediately came to Moscow to meet Rabbi Zilber and told him: "I was only five years old, but I remember my father telling me how he admired this Jew in the labor camp who didn't work on Shabbos." Rabbi Zilber studied some Tanach with the son, and then taught him how to say Kaddish for his departed parents.
"Everything was worth it for this Kaddish," Rabbi Zilber told him. Years passed, and one day the phone rang in Rabbi Zilber's home in Jerusalem. On the line was Josef Vishnev from Kazan, with a request: He was about to undergo a serious operation and wanted Rabbi Zilber to daven for him. After years of davening in secret, he could finally daven at the Kosel, which is exactly what Rabbi Zilber did! And Boruch Hashem, the surgery was a success. (From Mishpacha Magazine, Issue 167) More about Rabbi Zilber next week, with Hashem's help. Good Shabbos Everyone. M. Wolfberg is sponsored by: In memory of R' Yaakov ben Naftoly, of blessed memory Refuah Shleima to Reb Mordechai Menachem Mendel ben Tziporah Yitta Refuah Shleima to Tsviah bas Bracha Leah
If I missed sending this out to Australia and New Zeeland on time it was due to a heavy schedule. Reminder: Rosh Chodesh Elul is coming opening up the Repenting Season next Shabbos. A healthy and wonderful Shabbos to all and may we see Moshiach real soon,