Please add to the prayer list Aharon ben Miriam he has diabetes that has gotten worst. Also add Zahava bas Sara and Adina bas Sarah.
Behold is the first word here and the title of our Parsha a powerful way to start off a Drasha by Moshe and welcoming in the new month of Elul our 40 days of Repentance.
11:26 Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse:
If there was no other place in the Torah and I did not read the Gan Eden story, from here I could learn free choice. We have three animalistic urges and other human urges. We like to sleep, eat and enjoy things that we awaken to as we reach puberty. We have the urges for luxuries like a good house, car, plenty of money. However, we see what it does to many. I will mention Britney, Lindsay and Demi just to mention a few glamorous and rich people only to see that the Gashmiyous world (physical pleasures) lead only to emptiness inside. The false Kabala that Demi received did not help her for it was only words about Chessed, Gevurah, Tiferes, Nesach, etc. without any real Torah and Mitzvos to back it up. If Madonna had real Kabala, she would not be walking around 3/4ths dress like Gan Eden before the eating of the tree of knowledge. Obviously, she is not into knowledge of HASHEM.
Our choice comes from leaving the physical and restraining ourselves. Is it easy to steal money from a foolish bumpkin perhaps but are we that bad and that under the influence of gaining money to do such a thing. There is a choice that we make daily where to be under the influence of the blessing or the curse.
Of course Rashi brings down the Pshat here: A blessing and a curse: [i.e.,] those that were stated, [respectively,] on Mount Gerizim and on Mount Ebal.
27 the blessing, if ye shall hearken unto the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day;
The blessing: on the condition that you listen [and obey].
28 and the curse, if ye shall not hearken unto the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.
[If you… depart] from the way that I command you this day, to follow [other gods]: This teaches that whoever worships idols departs from the entire path that Israel has been commanded. From here [our Rabbis] said: One who acknowledges [the divinity of] pagan deities is as though he denies the entire Torah. — [Sifrei]
For a Jew this includes the belief in the Divinity of one born of woman or the replacement of the Torah on a permanent basis by someone calling himself a Prophet such as Mohammed. We are allowed to believe of course that we have a Divine Neshama which connects us to HASHEM and we can believe in the various components of the Neshama. We are allowed to believe as Moshe called us Banim aka Children unto the L-RD for it is stated in the Torah. But no child is greater than any other and we all have the potential to come close to being a Moshe Rabbaynu or a Vilna Gaon if we want to apply ourselves.
29 And it shall come to pass, when the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither you go to possess it, that thou shall set the blessing upon mount Gerizim, and the curse upon mount Ebal.
Upon Mount Gerizim: [עַל, usually “upon,” here means] “facing Mount Gerizim.” [The Levites] turned their faces [toward the mountain] and began with the blessing: “Blessed is the man who does not make any graven or molten image….” Each of the curses in that section [beginning Deut. 27:15] were first stated in the expression of a blessing. Afterwards, they turned their faces towards Mount Ebal and began [to recite the corresponding] curse. — [Sotah 32a]
30 Are they not beyond the Jordan, behind the way of the going down of the sun, in the land of the Canaanites that dwell in the Arava, over against Gilgal, beside the terebinths of Moreh? 31 For ye are to pass over the Jordan to go in to possess the land which the LORD your God gives you, and ye shall possess it, and dwell therein.
For you are crossing the Jordan: The miracles [that will occur for you during your crossing] of the Jordan will be a sign in your hands that you will come and inherit the land [as promised]. — [Sifrei]
32 And ye shall observe to do all the statutes and the ordinances which I set before you this day.
The town of Schem is in the valley below these mountains
12:1 These are the statutes and the ordinances, which ye shall observe to do in the land which the LORD, the God of thy fathers, hath given thee to possess it, all the days that ye live upon the earth. 2 Ye shall surely destroy all the places, wherein the nations that ye are to dispossess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every leafy tree. 3 And ye shall break down their altars, and dash in pieces their pillars, and burn their Asherim with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods; and ye shall destroy their name out of that place. 4 Ye shall not do so unto the LORD your God.
I, HASHEM, cannot tolerate these false gods in MY presence in MY land!
We now come to the prohibition of eating blood with the meat. First is the kosher slaughter of domestic beasts and then what we do to the blood of wild beasts. 15 Notwithstanding you may kill and eat flesh within all thy gates, after all the desire of thy soul, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which He hath given thee; the unclean and the clean may eat thereof, as of the gazelle, and as of the hart. 16 Only ye shall not eat the blood; thou shalt pour it out upon the earth as water.
However, [you may slaughter and eat meat in all your gates,] in every desire of your soul: What is the text speaking about? If [you think that] it [is speaking] about [non-sacrificial] meat eaten to satisfy the appetite, to permit it for them without offering up any sacrificial portions, [we already have a reference to this, for Scripture] says elsewhere: “When the Lord, your God, expands your boundary… and you say, 'I will eat meat… [you may eat meat…]’” (verse 20). So what is this [verse] speaking about? It is [referring to] animals designated for holy [sacrificial] purposes that had [subsequently] become blemished, that they are to be redeemed [that is, replaced by their equivalent value in money] and they may [then] be eaten anywhere. Now one might think that [this rule applies] even if the blemish is a temporary one. Therefore, Scripture says: רַק -“However” [lit., “only.” This limits the permission to that of a permanent blemish]. — [Sifrei] you may slaughter and eat [meat]: You have no permission to sheer or milk [the blemished animals], but only to eat the [meat] after their ritual slaughter. — [Bechoros. 15b] the unclean and the clean [may eat thereof]: Since they formerly had holy status, about which it is stated: “And the flesh that touches any unclean thing shall not be eaten” (Lev. 7:19), it is necessary to give explicit permission for both the unclean and clean person alike to eat [from the meat, even] from the same dish… as of the deer and as of the gazelle: of which no sacrifice is [ever] brought. as of the deer, and as of the gazelle: This [comparison to a deer and a gazelle] exempts these [redeemed animals] from [the obligation of] “the foreleg, the jaws, and the maw” (see Deut. 18:3) [just as the deer and the gazelle are exempt from these gifts to the kohen]. — [Chul. 130a; Sifrei]
Wild animals require the covering up of the blood with sand or dirt which is not necessary with domestic animals.
17 You may not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn, or of thy wine, or of your oil, or the firstlings of thy herd or of thy flock, nor any of thy vows which thou vows, nor thy freewill-offerings, nor the offering of thy hand;
Teruma, Maaser and free gifts.
18 but thou shalt eat them before the LORD thy God in the place which the LORD thy God shall choose, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy man-servant, and thy maid-servant, and the Levite that is within thy gates; and thou shalt rejoice before the LORD thy God in all that you put thy hand unto. 19 Take heed to thyself that thou forsake not the Levite as long as you live upon thy land.
This is not only the Levi but also the poor of your city. I am required to help the poor in my area if I want I can help somebody from another town who takes a bus or a ride into my town but I don’t have the same obligation.
20 When the LORD thy God shall enlarge thy border, as He hath promised thee, and thou shalt say: 'I will eat flesh', because thy soul desires to eat flesh; you may eat flesh, after all the desire of thy soul. 21 If the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to put His name there be too far from thee, then thou shalt kill of thy herd and of thy flock, which the LORD hath given thee, as I have commanded thee, and thou shalt eat within thy gates, after all the desire of thy soul.
You may slaughter… as I have commanded you: We learn [from here] that there is a commandment regarding slaughtering, how one must slaughter. [Since this commandment is not written in the Torah we deduce that] these are the laws of ritual slaughtering given orally to Moses on [Mount] Sinai. — [Sifrei ; Chul. 28a]
22 Howbeit as the gazelle and as the hart is eaten, so thou shalt eat thereof; the unclean and the clean may eat thereof alike.
But as the deer [and the gazelle] are eaten, [so you may eat them]: You are not admonished to eat them in a state of ritual purity; if, however, [you will reason:] Just as the fat of the deer and the gazelle is permitted [as food], so too should the fat of non-consecrated animals be permitted. Therefore [to counter this] Scripture says,“but” (אַךְ).
23 Only be stedfast in not eating the blood; for the blood is the life; and thou shalt not eat the life with the flesh.
However, be strong not to eat the blood: Since it is stated “be strong” [i.e., resist temptation], you learn that the [Israelites] were inclined to eating blood. Therefore, it is necessary to state, “be strong.” [These are] the words of Rabbi Judah. Rabbi Simeon the son of Azzai, however, says: Scripture comes only to caution you and to instruct you as to what extent you must be steadfast in [fulfilling] the commandments: If regarding blood, which is easy to watch out for, since a person has no desire for it, [the Torah] needed to strengthen you with its admonition, how much more so [must one strengthen oneself] for all other commandments! - [Sifrei] and you shall not eat the soul with the flesh: This is an admonition against אֵבֵר מִן הַחַי, [the eating of] a limb from a live animal. — [Sifrei; Chul. 102a]
24 Thou shalt not eat it; thou shalt pour it out upon the earth as water.
You shall not eat it: This is an admonition against the eating (דָם הַתַּמְצִית), (the last blood oozing [from the incision of slaughtering]). — [Ker. 4b]
The blood according to Halacha requires covering with sand or dirt.
25 Thou shalt not eat it; that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, when thou shalt do that which is right in the eyes of the LORD.
You shall not eat it: This is an admonition against the eating of the blood contained in the limbs [of the animal]. — [Ker. 4b]
… 29 When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither you go in to dispossess them, and thou dispossess them, and dwell in their land; 30 take heed to thyself that thou be not ensnared to follow them, after that they are destroyed from before thee; and that thou inquire not after their gods, saying: 'How used these nations to serve their gods? even so will I do likewise.' 31 Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God; for every abomination to the LORD, which He hates, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters do they burn in the fire to their gods.
Gods of wood or stone in a figure of a man or animal or heavenly object is forbidden and in the Bible Codes later on when stone came up the hidden word Mecca was found.
13: 1 All this word which I command you, that shall ye observe to do; thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it. 2 If there arise in the midst of thee a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams--and he give thee a sign or a wonder, 3 and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spoke unto thee--saying: 'Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them'; 4 thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or unto that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God puts you to proof, to know whether ye do love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
Throughout history we have had false Moshiachs. Some were in Biblical times, one in the times of the crusades, Shabbtai Zvi, Frank and others some who had follower and some who didn’t have followers.
5 After the LORD your God shall ye walk, and Him shall ye fear, and His commandments shall ye keep, and unto His voice shall ye hearken, and Him shall ye serve, and unto Him shall ye cleave. 6 And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken perversion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of bondage, to draw thee aside out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put away the evil from the midst of thee. 7 If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, that is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying: 'Let us go and serve other gods,' which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; 8 of the gods of the peoples that are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; 9 thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him; 10 but thou shalt surely kill him; thy hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. 11 And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to draw thee away from the LORD thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 12 And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is in the midst of thee.
We are commanded to be independent thinkers and question things and not to take things for granted. We are supposed to know what to do if even a close relative tries to entice us to do evil.
… 14: 1 Ye are the children of the LORD your God: ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead. 2 For thou art a holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be His own treasure out of all peoples that are upon the face of the earth.
Oops the “He gave his only son” theology just went out the window again!
3 Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing. 4 These are the beasts which ye may eat: the ox, the sheep, and the goat, 5 the hart, and the gazelle, and the roebuck, and the wild goat, and the pygarg, and the antelope, and the mountain-sheep. 6 And every beast that parts the hoof, and hath the hoof wholly cloven in two, and chews the cud, among the beasts, that ye may eat. 7 Nevertheless these ye shall not eat of them that only chew the cud, or of them that only have the hoof cloven: the camel, and the hare, and the rock-badger, because they chew the cud but part not the hoof, they are unclean unto you; 8 and the swine, because he parts the hoof but chews not the cud, he is unclean unto you; of their flesh ye shall not eat, and their carcasses ye shall not touch.
We are given a Kashrus review here of what we learned 40 years previously in Shemos.
9 These ye may eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales may ye eat; 10 and whatsoever hath not fins and scales ye shall not eat; it is unclean unto you. 11 Of all clean birds ye may eat. 12 But these are they of which ye shall not eat: the great vulture, and the bearded vulture, and the ospray; 13 and the glede, and the falcon, and the kite after its kinds; 14 and every raven after its kinds; 15 and the ostrich, and the night-hawk, and the sea-mew, and the hawk after its kinds; 16 the little owl, and the great owl, and the horned owl; 17 and the pelican, and the carrion-vulture, and the cormorant; 18 and the stork, and the heron after its kinds, and the hoopoe, and the bat. 19 And all winged swarming things are unclean unto you; they shall not be eaten. 20 Of all clean winged things ye may eat.
The bat is not a bird it is a mammal and nurses. The Germans had a good idea when they called it by the name flying mouse.
21 Ye shall not eat of anything that dies of itself; thou may give it unto the stranger that is within thy gates, that he may eat it; or thou may sell it unto a foreigner; for thou art a holy people unto the LORD thy God.
I can give this to a Ger Toshav aka a Ben or Bas Noach or any other person from the nations. I should not give it to a candidate to become a Ger Tzeddek for he/she have to learn to be a Jew and must practice all the Mitzvos except one of the Av Melachos of Shabbos. Seeing that he/she has started eating kosher they are supposed to continue to act that way. However, in times of famine, we tend to be more lenient.
Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother's milk.
This is the third and last time. One cannot eat such a mixture, one cannot cook such a mixture, one cannot enjoy it by selling it or giving to poor non-Jews or animals.
We continue on with Teruma and Maaser and Maaser Ahni (poor man’s tithe). Note I use the closer to the Ashkenazi Aw for the poor man as Ani means I in Hebrew so one should make a verbal sounding difference.
15: 1 At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release. 2 And this is the manner of the release: every creditor shall release that which he hath lent unto his neighbor; he shall not exact it of his neighbor and his brother; because the LORD'S release hath been proclaimed. 3 Of a foreigner you may exact it; but whatsoever of yours is with thy brother thy hand shall release.
A reminder of the Shmita year and the cancellation of debt.
19 All the firstling males that are born of thy herd and of thy flock thou shalt sanctify unto the LORD thy God; thou shalt do no work with the firstling of thine ox, nor shear the firstling of thy flock. 20 Thou shalt eat it before the LORD thy God year by year in the place which the LORD shall choose, thou and thy household. 21 And if there be any blemish therein, lameness, or blindness, any ill blemish whatsoever, thou shalt not sacrifice it unto the LORD thy God. 22 Thou shalt eat it within thy gates; the unclean and the clean may eat it alike, as the gazelle, and as the hart. 23 Only thou shalt not eat the blood thereof; thou shalt pour it out upon the ground as water.
The first born is considered holy and since the Makkos of Mitzrayim which culminated with the killing of the Bechor of Pharaoh, we make holy each and every Bechor from the clean animals or donkeys to man.
16: 1 Observe the month of Abib, and keep the Passover unto the LORD thy God; for in the month of Abib the LORD thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night. 2 And thou shalt sacrifice the Passover-offering unto the LORD thy God, … 16 Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which He shall choose; on the feast of unleavened bread, and on the feast of weeks, and on the feast of tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the LORD empty; 17 every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which He hath given thee.
A reminder of the requirement to offer up a Korban Chaggiga, and in its season a Korban Pessach, in Yerushalayim and to eat it in Yerushalayim.
Hilchos Deyos of the Rambam http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/910342/jewish/Chapter-Two.htm
The Rambam continues on with his advice on spiritual and psychological health before he even goes into the physical well-being of a person as he knew as a doctor that a broken spirit and depressed mind cannot help cure the physical disease. I saw this very much with a person with cancer for ten years or more her husband kept her spirits up. When he passed away it was a matter of less than a few months she gave up her will to live and joined him in the cemetery. Based on how she was beforehand I could only conclude that she lost the Taam Ha Chaim and had no will power to continue on. I saw this with a woman named Beatrice who lost her husband after 55 years she did not want a pacemaker put in until her granddaughter was in an automobile accident and she had to help her and her great-granddaughter so she stepped up and had a reason to live for a few more years.
To those who are physically sick, the bitter tastes sweet and the sweet bitter. Some of the sick even desire and crave that which is not fit to eat, such as earth and charcoal, and hate healthful foods, such as bread and meat - all depending on how serious the sickness is.
Similarly, those who are morally ill desire and love bad traits, hate the good path, and are lazy to follow it. Depending on how sick they are, they find it exceedingly burdensome.
Isaiah 5:20 speaks of such people in a like manner: "Woe to those who call the bad good, and the good bad, who take darkness to be light and light to be darkness, who take bitter to be sweet and sweet to be bitter." Concerning them, Proverbs 2:13 states: "Those who leave the upright paths to walk in the ways of darkness."
What is the remedy for the morally ill? They should go to the wise, for they are the healers of souls. They will heal them by teaching them how to acquire proper traits, until they return them to the good path.
Concerning those who recognize their bad traits and do not go to the wise to heal them, Solomon Proverbs 1:7 said: "Fools scorned wisdom and correction."
How are they to be healed? We tell the wrathful man to train himself to feel no reaction even if he is beaten or cursed. He should follow this course of behavior for a long time, until the anger is uprooted from his heart.
The man who is full of pride should cause himself to experience much disgrace. He should sit in the lowliest of places, dress in tattered rags which shame the wearer, and the like, until the arrogance is uprooted from his heart and he returns to the middle path, which is the proper path. When he returns to this middle path, he should walk in it the rest of his life.
One should take a similar course with each of the other traits. A person who swayed in the direction of one of the extremes should move in the direction of the opposite extreme, and accustom himself to that for a long time, until he has returned to the proper path, which is the midpoint for each and every temperament.
Mussar Elul is upon us
The Sephardim start Selichos from Rosh Chodesh and continue the 40 days that Moshe was up the Mountain the second time. The Ashkenazim start either the Motzei Shabbos before Rosh Hashanah or the previous Motzei Shabbos if there is less than 4 days before Rosh Hashanah.
All the year is a good time for a person to repent but the month of Elul is called the month of Rachamim (compassion) so it is especially propitious. Having 40 days allows us to review the 80 or so practical Mitzvos and their subdivisions. Counting Shabbos as one Mitzvah and 39 Av Melachos as the subdivisions one can review each Melacha a day. One can review two or three of the other practical Mitzvos such as checking Tephillin or the coloring of the leather of the Tephillin. Perhaps one should try not to have both meat and dairy products out and about in the kitchen at the same time and especially not cooking one near the other (this is not always practical but should be the rule and both out at the same time should be the exception).
Prayer: When I write Mussar, I do not know if one reader or ten readers will be influenced by it therefore I start off writing to myself about some of my own flaws. One of my own problems is concentrating on prayers in Hebrew which I never had when I prayed in English. For this reason I say to Baalei Teshuva learn the meaning of line – line and prayer – prayer before going on. Rabbis who had grown up with Hebrew School and had learned as children slowly the prayers advised me to pray in Hebrew and my understanding would come with time. My mistake was jumping into praying in Hebrew without knowing everything and as a result the intent and fervor that I had long ago disappeared. Almost 42 years living in Israel has not helped as I learned how to process words and reading with some of the original mispronunciations in place for errors tend to remain “Ta-oot le Olam Chozer”. The resulting mess is a few paragraphs here and there with understanding and intent and the rest of the prayer running like a super computer to get it over with. For Rabbis advising a Convert or Baal Teshuva coming from zero forget that one needs building blocks. So what I learned slowly as I started Yeshiva became a problem to keep up with the Minyan which resulted in Olympic Pray Speed and then raising a family and joining the rat race. Since I speak Hebrew fluently and have spoken to other Rabbis about this they all say continue praying in Hebrew and something comes out of it. Luckily on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur I managed not to pray like during the week days and the prays being once a year with no place to run, I am able to pray more fervently and with more Kavana (intent) than the rest of the year.
I encountered another phenomenon of a friend who is a Baal Teshuva who started praying in English the Shemona Esray three times a day. This fellow was reading the prayers and everyday saying phrases “The shield of Avraham”. He had not learned too much about the Bris between the pieces or the battle of 4 kings vs. the 5 kings so he had no intent for the shielding. Saying the phrase 3 times a day and Mussaf for Shabbos seven days a week became boring to him and he just prayed a little and what he felt like. In this case the high speed super prayer of mine became better because at least flying by super express I would encounter phrases like a speedy recovery from heaven and would add names like on my list starting with men Eliezer David HaCohain ben Naomi and finishing with Zahava bas Sara and Adina bas Sarah or we give thanks and good to give thanks to G-D or something about peace buzzing around my brain. For when the Sages instituted the words of Shemona Esray they were able to foresee great Rabbis who could and would pray with intent and others who would only mutter the words without understanding them at all even worse than I pray. Yet the Chachamim wanted us to pray these words with a Minyan. For like on Pessach we have four sons and each are needed for prays to make the Minyan. So my friend who threw away the boring words of “the holy G-D” or “the KING who loves Justice and Judgement” excluded himself from the Taam aka taste of prayer before HASHEM. For it is not only the words and intent but the effort to come to Schul or break to pray at the times people pray even alone in the desert, mountain top in Nepal or Alaska or on a trail in the Dead Sea area one stops what he is doing and devotes a speck of time for the L-RD that is what counts and it adds up until the amount of Mitzvos reach critical mass and we can bring about Moshiach.
Being Jewish: Last week I wrote something on my Facebook wall about going to a wedding of a cousin and a lady who had been raised in Greece gave me a Mazel Tov followed by a rant and rave by a fellow about how Greek Jewry which survived the Nazis is only Jewish in name and genetics only and not in spirit. I saw his complaint and it was a valid point. However, perhaps only the physical aspect of Judaism remained there is always a spark of a Jew somewhere. I thought it was neither the time nor the place to talk about assimilation on a Mazel Tov post but I did think it was not limited to the Jews of Greece, Russia, Germany, France, Argentina, Chile, Peru or the USA but all Jews everywhere. How do I begin where do I analyze the phenomena so I began with my own family to see who is and who isn’t any more part of our people.
All in the family and Europe vs. the States ending with a question for those reading this: My family I guess is no different from any other modern Jewish Family. I look at my family from my Reform Jewish American side. First Cousins only three – one never married, one married a Jew who had one son who married a Jew, one girl married a non-Jew who has a daughter entering College who is a 7th generation on my side Reform Jew. Out of 8 second cousins some married Jews and some married non-Jews and at least 3 had no children. This is the tragedy that what was once 13 cousins is now in the generation of my children are between 9 and 11 + one adopted and being brought up Jewish possibly two more due to age difference and loss of contact Jews and two non-Jews.
My Euro-family from 7 brothers and sisters in the generation of my grandfather only two produced children to my generation who were my father and three of his first cousins! There was one adopted cousin who may or may not have married a Jew and his daughter married a non-Jew down under and all contact was lost. Out of my 8 second cousins there was more of a Jewish Tradition left in my father’s uncle. Although he was not very religious he celebrated the holidays in a rich tradition that he had gotten from my great-grandfather. One daughter married a man in the French Underground and had three boys and one girl. Two of the cousins married non-Jewish women but of the oldest son two of the boys are in Eretz Yisrael and the daughter with a yearning for Eretz Yisrael with her children knowing Hebrew. The daughter has all three sons living in Eretz Yisrael. Another cousin married an Orthodox man and had a boy and a girl who produced three more Jews for the next generation. My father’s first cousin, who was like a little brother, married late and had a son and daughter. The son married an Israeli Yemenite girl from an Orthodox family so the Jewish tradition continues onwards. The daughter married a man who helps with the Kashrus of his town. Both of them have a son and daughter. One of boys married a girl in Eretz Yisrael after attending Yeshiva Hesder. So adding my own children to the equation of the next generation we have 16 from my father’s side who stayed within Judaism.
A wee bit more family tradition and a larger amount of anti-Semitism experienced in Europe has kept more tradition in the Euro-family. The family is not atypical of extended Jewish families and shows why either the Jewish population is declining or remaining almost the same. It is up to the generations of my children and grandchildren to continue Judaism as I have laid down the foundation. Readers have you laid down a foundation for your family continuing in Judaism or will it be some in and some out? Will your children and grandchildren act like your forefathers or will they be Hellenized and assimilated?
In the next few weeks I will continue with the other elements of removing the evil decree such as more on Teshuva and Tzeduka and perhaps a few more words on Tephilla. I end this with one double question for my readers: Where are you today and where do you want to be at the time of the Judgement on Rosh Hashanah?
Also Mussar these stories of too much expectation: Still a Horse…. Posted By Living Jewish On August 11, 2012 @ 8:26 pm In Re'eh #359,tell your children
There was once a person who lived in the vicinity of the Baal Shem Tov. Because of his all-consuming pride, he decided to become an acetic, and in that way, attract to himself a following of as many admirers as the Baal Shem Tov had. To that end he wore only white garments, fasted interminably, and tortured his body by rolling around in the ice and snow. Imagine his disappointment when, in spite of all his attempts, he in fact attracted no following at all.
He decided to visit the court of the Baal Shem Tov to see where it was that he had failed. What did the Baal Shem Tov have that he lacked that caused thousands to flock to him? He made his presence known to all the Chasidim and tried to gain their friendship. But they easily saw beneath his pious exterior and rebuffed all his advances.
Before he took his leave of the Baal Shem Tov, the man managed to gain entrance to the presence of the tzadik.
The Baal Shem Tov took the man by the shoulder and said to him, “Come outside with me for a minute. Do you see that horse over there tied to the post? His garments – white; his food – hay; his bed – straw; and in winter, he, too, rolls in the snow. But in spite of all of this, he is still a horse.”
A simple Chasid once approached the tzadik Reb Bunim of Pshischa. “It is written in our holy books that if one fasts a certain number of days, one will have a revelation of Elijah the Prophet.
Now I have fasted many, many days – exactly what is prescribed in the texts – and still I haven’t had the revelation. What have I done wrong?”
Reb Bunim said to the Chasid, “I will explain it to you by means of a parable I heard in the name of the Baal Shem Tov:
“It is known that when the Baal Shem Tov travelled in his coach he covered extraordinary amounts of territory in an impossibly short period of time. But, you see, he used the coach only for the sake of appearing to operate in a normal fashion. The reality was that he travelled by miraculous means – kefitzat haderech – supernaturally contracting of distance. One time he was on a journey, and, as usual, he was covering enormous spaces in no time at all. The two horses who were flying before the coach began to think. Said one horse to the other, ‘Look here, we are passing by all the usual rest-stops without ever stopping. When do you suppose they will feed us?’
“The other agreed. ‘You’re right. All along the road, I see carriages stopped off to the side where the horses are treated to some water or oats. Only we have to continue racing on non-stop like lightning. I wonder when we will finally be able to stop?’
“Then the first exclaimed, ‘I think I’ve figured out the answer! Maybe we’re not horses after all! Maybe we’re actually human beings, and that’s why we don’t stop very often, for people can go longer periods without eating and drinking.’
” ‘I have to congratulate you on your conclusion! I bet you’re right. Let’s wait and see what happens when we reach the next inn. If we come to a place where people stop to rest and eat, and we’re given some supper, then we’ll know.’
“So the horses continued their unnatural pace, which they accomplished with little effort or exertion. They passed inns, hotels and taverns, but they did not stop. The first horse again spoke to his companion: ‘Well, we haven’t stopped anywhere on the way to rest or partake of a bite to eat. I suppose we aren’t human beings after all. Maybe we’re angels in disguise.’
” ‘You know, I think you must be right! We must be angels, because angels don’t need to rest or to eat. I’m so happy that you have figured that out!’ And the two horses dashed on with renewed strength.
“They continued until their master, the Baal Shem Tov, ordered them to halt. They had stopped in front of an inn where they were immediately taken to the stable and given an ample amount of hay. When the two horses saw the delicious-looking hay, they began eating as if they were starved.”
Reb Bunim concluded his parable:
“This story refers to one who sits and fasts even if he continues his fasting for weeks on end. It may be that he will even convince himself that he is an angel. But how does that person end his fast? If, he pounces on his food like a horse, then he has remained the same horse as he had been before.”
(Reprinted from www.LchaimWeekly.org – LYO / NYC)
Ask Dr. Yosef – Re’eh Saturday, August 11th, 2012
My wife and I are both Baal Teshuvas. When we got married, we agreed to have a kosher home, keep Shabbos and the laws of family purity. Over time, my wife has become much more strict. Some examples: she is extremely selective about kosher supervision, we are very limited about eating out since hardly any “Heckshir” is good enough. It goes without saying that no movies or secular music is acceptable – not even “kosher” movies depicting Jewish themes. Furthermore, she will only consider schools where there is emphasis on strong Torah learning; with no secular subjects, sports or games. I must say that my wife seems to be thriving in this environment and often talks about the Kedusha (holiness) she experiences. But I feel lost in a world I neither understand nor appreciate. Is there any way we can “rejoin each other” and make Yiddishkeit more meaningful for me.
Dr. Yosef replies:
Your wife doesn’t seem to have a problem here. She has taken off and apparently left you far behind. What can you do to restore the feeling you had when you were both new Baal Teshuvas. Well, for your wife, it sounds like there is no turning back; as you say, she seems to be thriving.
I can see two issues here. One is whether some of your wife’s choices are not “necessary”, e.g. she is too chumradik. Well, of course an individual can be as strict as she wishes for herself, however, when it affects other family members, then one seeks guidance from a Rav/mashpia. So, a course of action for you would be to discuss some of the prominent issues with your mashpia and see if there is any room for modification. If not, it would then be up to you to choose to join you wife or remain “lost”. Hopefully, you will be able to work out an accommodation to the current situation which you never foresaw years ago, when you decided to become a B.T. It would be important to take the children’s situation into consideration: are they content with your wife’s view, or do they tend to gravitate to where you are. The best thing would be for you and your wife to engage in honest discussions, in a mutually respectful manner, about how you feel in this regard.
It seems to me you would need to examine how you are dealing with a world you “neither understand or appreciate.” Are you doing anything to resist it, while seemingly accepting it on the surface? This would be decidedly unhelpful. Good luck in working things out.
Dr. Yosef Halbfinger – Personal, Marriage (Sholom Bayis) & Family Issues–English, Hebrew, Yiddish– Halachic Advisor: HaRav Chaim Sholom Deitsch, shlita. (02) 571-4532; (0547)-651-288; 131 HaYehudim, Old City, JM.
One thing that I learned from the Talmid of the Chofetz Chaim, Rabbi Tuvia Wein of blessed memory, was that the Gadol HaDor used to sew up the Kishka (stuffed intestines for the Chutney for Shabbos). A Talmud Chacham should help prepare for Shabbos. I set up the table, shop, prepare the water in the hot drink heater, make a salad or a dish and of course set up the candles. Sometimes, my chores include vacuuming the rugs.
Charedim and the IDF: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/158999#.UC3316OhnIU
Asking for Forgiveness: http://www.ou.org/life/relationships/receiving-gift-forgiveness-yaakov-weiland/
The future of French Jewry: http://www.dreuz.info/2012/08/french-jews-no-future/
Edward posted the following site. http://www.aish.com/sp/pr/The_Meaning_of_Kaddish.html I took it one step further and did a search for more videos and articles: I did a search at Aish HaTorah entitled "the meaning of Kaddish" and found a number of articles and video clips. http://www.aish.com/search/
For those who never learned or forgot recent history: http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Article.aspx?id=280738&fb_source=message
More of the winds of war: http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=280831
Home front command to test alert system: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4267235,00.html
UN or US peacekeepers attacked in Sinai: http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=280896
Egyptian Tanks are on the Israeli Border for the first time in 30 years and we can expect more: http://www.debka.com/article/22268/Muslim-Brotherhood-anti-army-coup-in-Cairo-Tanks-move-up-to-Israel-border
What the US did to Israel an Ed-Op: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4269041,00.html
Grads fell short today in Gaza instead of the Israeli side and two explosions were heard in Eilat towards the Egyptian Border but it is suspected that it was Grads that possibly were stopped by the Sinai Hills around Eilat.
After kicking Israel in the guts: http://www.debka.com/article/22278/Obama-initiates-September-meeting-with-Netanyahu-to-renew-Iran-dialogue
Why I would never defend a Muslim if I were an attorney http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/158963#.UC0aq6OhnIU
From C.H. - But who is Valerie Jarrett? Who is this woman behind the veil that many call the de facto POTUS?
Most would be surprised to learn she was born in Iran. Most would be surprised to learn she was named “Iranian of the Day” in August of 2008 by Iranian.com. Most would be surprised to know her father-in-law, Vernon Jarrett, has long-standing ties to communists. Most would be surprised to learn that Jarrett often meets privately with Muslim activists. If the mainstream media in 2008 had dug into Jarrett’s past half as much as they dug into Sarah Palin’s life, who knows what other things we would have discovered behind this Iranian veil? http://www.westernjournalism.com/woman-behind-veil-valerie-jarrett/
The US has reaped and the Muslim Brotherhood has grown now eat your heart out: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4269668,00.html
You cannot fool all the American Jews all the time: http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=281579
Only an idiot will burn his crops while humans starve: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/08/16/epa-is-pressured-to-drop-ethanol-mandate-while-drought-drives-corn-prices-up/
Tel Aviv readies underground garages for shelters in the event of a chemical attack: http://www.debka.com/article/22285/Syria’s-neighbors-braced-for-chemical-threat-Assad-warns-Turkey-on-Stingers
Now for M. Wolfberg’s good Shabbos Story “Holy People”
Good Shabbos Everyone. ...More this week from the amazing spiritual survival story of Reb Yitzchak Zilber, of blessed memory.
When Rabbi Zilber was in the Siberian labor camp, Rosh Hashanah prayers were conducted quietly and secretly with a few Jews. One year, towards the end of the services, a fire broke out in the camp, and in order to prevent the prisoners from escaping they were all pushed into a smoke-filled room and the door was locked.
The words of Unesaneh Tokef, which had been said just a short while earlier, suddenly became very real: "Who will live, and who will die ... who by water and who by fire..." The fire continued raging around them. Huts collapsed and people died as Rabbi Zilber and the Jews who were with him miraculously survived the blaze. Yom Kippur he also secretly convened a Minyan for a short, half-hour service. They really made it count in that half an hour!
In that way, Rabbi Zilber succeeded in organizing Tephilla, even in a Siberian labor camp! Rabbi Zilber's job at the labor camp was to bring the water, an exhausting job that he had actually chosen in order to refrain from Shabbos desecration. It also allowed him to find a few spare minutes to pray learn secretly. "If I was davening when the supervisor appeared I would stop and resume carrying water later." Rabbi Zilber would say.
Rabbi Zilber tells how he was once summoned to the camp commander while he was in the middle of Shemoneh Esray (silent prayer). He didn't respond. They came again to call him, shouting this time, but he continued standing. One of the soldiers then commented: 'If he can stand like that (while davening), then even if they kill him they won't be able to move him.' Having no choice, the soldiers waited until he finished davening!
After being released from the labor camp and running away to Tashkent, Rabbi Zilber was very afraid of the authorities and thus preferred to daven with a private Minyan that didn't include informers. Only after some time did he begin attending the unofficial Schul, which was less safe. One day the official Schul in the Chimgan neighborhood contacted him and asked him to come to read the Torah for them because they had no one else to do it.
The Schul was teeming with informers, and Rabbi Zilber's acquaintances warned him not to go, but he was made of stronger stuff. He didn't heed their warnings and pitied the good Jews who would be left without anyone to read the Torah for them. On Shabbos he came to read the Torah, but when he began, he heard talking in the background. He stopped reading and only continued when quiet reigned.
Within a few weeks he succeeded in conveying the importance of the matter to the congregants, and no one dared speak during the Torah reading anymore. After some time, he began saying a Dvar Torah after davening, and wonder of wonders no one informed on him!
Whenever he could, Rabbi Zilber tried to convene a Minyan to daven. But in Tashkent, which was full of dogs, his hurried-running worked against him because the dogs would often chase him. One day he was missing a tenth man for Shacharis, and Rabbi Zilber decided to go to call a friend. He ran to his friend's house and knocked on the door, but no one answered. He decided to enter through the porch, but was attacked by two dogs, one of which bit him viciously.
The friend, who heard the commotion, rushed out in alarm to see what was going on, and Rabbi Zilber explained what he was doing and urged him to come along to complete the Minyan. Rabbi Zilber was bitten several other times while running to do Mitzvos and needed shots to treat the dog bites. Rabbi Zilber hurried to always do another mitzvah, to accumulate another Zechus-merit, but he didn't always spend a long time actually davening. In truth, it is almost a miracle that Rabbi Zilber left a written testimony of his unbelievable life story. This humble man would never have written down memoirs of his miraculous life, but Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner, ztz"l, who was amazed by what he heard, instructed him: "Tell!"
Hashem tells us this week in Parshas Re'eh, "For you are a holy people to Hashem, your G-d and Hashem has chosen you for Himself to be a treasured people, from among all the peoples on the face of the earth." (Devarim 14:2) One of the definitions of the word "holy" is "separate, set apart." We are truly a nation which enjoys a supernatural existence, with an extra special supervision from above. By acting according to the Torah, we demonstrate our membership in the Chosen Nation. 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
Shabbat Shalom and a peaceful one for Am Yisrael everybody be well,