Friday, August 3, 2012

Parsha Vaetchanan, stories, Halacha

The Gaon of Vilna said: “When the Russian Navy passes through the Dardanelles get ready for Moshiach”! This is not a small task force or a drill but ships both from the black sea and others who came from the Baltic to the Mediterranean Sea.

Rivka bas Etta. Also, my mother-in-law is going for hip replacement on Thursday. Regarding the young teenager Chana Freidel bas Sorah Tovah.

Re: Kayla Rus bas Chaya Rachel (pronounced Rochel) underwent surgery on Tues her mother wrote: Thanks... I am cautiously optimistic... this cancer is notorious for re-sprouting. So we take no "good news" for granted. We are having kind of a rough night. She is uncomfortable and hooked up to contraptions and they are playing balancing games between meds and blood pressure. She is so puffed up on fluids that she doesn't resemble her former self. So it's easy to put on a smile and say she's as well as can be expected, but reality is, that's not so well... In for a bumpy ride. Due to her youth even if you do not say Tehillim for the other names please pray for this young girl.


Similar to the time that my wife started to doze off at the wheel and I called her this is a story about an elderly woman in Petach Tikva who was going to Simcha and was on the way when she thought that she forgot the present so she returned home. She got home and found the present in her purse. At that time she smelled something burning so she checked what it was? It turned out to be an electrical fire in the washing machine room caused by a short circuit. She was able to handle this and she saved her apartment.

Although it is my usual habit to copy and paste stories there is a story below from Rav Teilles entitled Charity saves from famine with a link so as not to lengthen the Drasha this week due to the extra-long Parshiyos.

Parsha Devarim Part II

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. 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.'

I don’t care what people say but anybody who has been near a battle even in a rescue until like myself or going on border patrol opposite the enemy for the first time if he doesn’t have a twinge of butterflies in his stomach even for five minutes is either a liar or psychotic. For every normal person experiences the rush of adrenaline the first time. One can become hardened in a short time. This is why HASHEM tells us to overcome our natural urges to be afraid. At my age I might not want to stand up unarmed to every young punk with an 8 inch knife but perhaps the fear is less because “The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the L-RD” - Mishlei.

22 And ye came near unto me every one o f 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 gives 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. 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 goeth before you, He shall fight for you, according to all that He did for you in Egypt before your eyes;

The people are fearful wanting to avoid confrontation and so frozen in fear of the giants who were perhaps exceptionally tall to slaves that grew up on less nutrition thus making them shorter for the Anakim were perhaps very tall from the giant fruits of Eretz Yisrael. They lost their love and fear of the L-RD for the fear of man! Worse than that, they rejected the promise of HASHEM to give them the land and wanted to return to Mitzrayim. If this sounds out of time and place for it occurred three thousand years ago, then think again. In 5727, we received all of the land of Eretz Yisrael up until the Yarden and all of Sinai up until the canal. Just like in the past, we threw back to HASHEM the gift given us. A handful of people protested. I stood outside of Likud Headquarters in Tel Aviv with Geula Cohen and a handful of people to protest. Yitzchak Shamir and a few members of the Knesset stood up to the leadership but it was a lost cause. This time we were lucky to remain in Eretz Yisrael but it delayed the Moshiach. The giving away of the Temple Mount aka Har HaBeit and the cutting off of the fleeing Arabs was a thorn and curse in our sides. Now continue reading to see how HASHEM reacted to our recent behavior as in the past there is “Nothing new under the sun” –Koheles.

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.'

This is my hope that perhaps my actions at the time will enable me to see the final Geula for I did not remain silent but then again neither did the Lubavitcher Rebbe but he did not live to see the Geula.

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.

The old slave generation had died out but now the leader Moshe who was the old generation was to be retired from leadership and given rest and Yehoshua was to take over. The next narrative in Chapter 2 is the history of the travels for 40 years and the people that lived in these areas.

Moshe then recalls recent happenings to show that Am Yisrael with a national army can be victorious.

3:1 Then we turned, and went up the way to Bashan; and Og the king of Bashan came out against us, he and all his people, unto battle at Edrei. 2 And the LORD said unto me: 'Fear him not; for I have delivered him, and all his people, and his land, into thy hand; and thou shalt do unto him as thou didst unto Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt at Heshbon.' 3 So the LORD our God delivered into our hand Og also, the king of Bashan, and all his people; and we smote him until none was left to him remaining. 4 And we took all his cities at that time; there was not a city which we took not from them; threescore cities, all the region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan. 5 All these were fortified cities, with high walls, gates, and bars; beside the unwalled towns a great many.

See what you are capable of doing against the king of Arad and these great warriors and how you were able with relative if not great ease of conquering walled cities and a large amount of territory.

18 And I commanded you at that time, saying: 'The LORD your God hath given you this land to possess it; ye shall pass over armed before your brethren the children of Israel, all the men of valour. 19 But your wives, and your little ones, and your cattle--I know that ye have much cattle--shall abide in your cities which I have given you; 20 until the LORD give rest unto your brethren, as unto you, and they also possess the land which the LORD your God gives them beyond the Jordan; then shall ye return every man unto his possession, which I have given you. 21 And I commanded Joshua at that time, saying: 'Your eyes have seen all that the LORD your God hath done unto these two kings; so shall the LORD do unto all the kingdoms whither you god over. 22 Ye shall not fear them; for the LORD your God, He it is that fights for you.'

This is not a story of a miracle in the times of Avraham or 40 years ago by the sea but in real time before your eyes. Now know WHO is fighting for you and WHO will give you the land.

Parsha Vaetchanan

3:23 And I besought the LORD at that time, saying: 24 'O Lord GOD, Thou hast begun to show Thy servant Thy greatness, and Thy strong hand; for what god is there in heaven or on earth, that can do according to Thy works, and according to Thy mighty acts? 25 Let me go over, I pray Thee, and see the good land that is beyond the Jordan, that goodly hill-country, and Lebanon.'

This was Moshe’s last appeal before HASHEM to enter the land. He did not receive permission (although according to Kabbalists, he returned in sparks of his Kedusha as Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and later as the Ari Zal). He originally was supposed to lead the people into the land but his task with that generation was done and it was now time for the generation of Kalev and Yehoshua to lead. His standing on the mountain connected the spiritual and they physical together and he could see what a normal man could not see even with a telescope. Moshe had completed his mission in this world. Aaron and Miriam already departed and it was now his turn to place the reigns in the hands of Yehoshua as Aaron had done with Eleazar in the Kahuna. Pinchas was already being primed for leadership as deputy Cohain Gadol as we saw in the battle of Midian. The chapter in history entitled the life of Moshe is about to close but not in a whimper but in the back of Sefer Devarim.

26 But the LORD was wroth with me for your sakes, and hearkened not unto me; and the LORD said unto me: 'Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto Me of this matter. 27 Get thee up into the top of Pisgah, and lift up your eyes westward, and northward, and southward, and eastward, and behold with your eyes; for thou shalt not go over this Jordan. 28 But charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him; for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see.' 29 So we abode in the valley over against Beth-peor.

This is similar to the walking of the land by Avraham and the dream of Yacov. Beresheis 28:14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south. And in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. So upon the mountain Moshe merited to see this before his passing but not to live there like the fathers. AND WE WHO EITHER LIVE HERE OR FOR A SMALL AMOUNT OF HARD WORK CAN EARN ENOUGH FOR A PLANE FARE TO TRAVEL TO ISRAEL AND TOUR THE LAND DO WE DO APPRECIATE IT OR DO IT?

4:1 And now, O Israel, hearken unto the statutes and unto the ordinances, which I teach you, to do them; that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, gives you.

These Mitzvos, Chukim, and Mishpatim are designed not to move the CREATOR of all but for the improvement of mankind and especially Am Yisrael as explained in Vayikra 26:3 that we have to follow everything to deserve Eretz Yisrael.

21 Now the LORD was angered with me for your sakes, and swore that I should not go over the Jordan, and that I should not go in unto that good land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance; 22 but I must die in this land, I must not go over the Jordan; but ye are to go over, and possess that good land. 23 Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which He made with you, and make you a graven image, even the likeness of anything which the LORD thy God hath forbidden thee. 24 For the LORD thy God is a devouring fire, a jealous God. 25 When thou shalt beget children, and children's children, and ye shall have been long in the land, and shall deal corruptly, and make a graven image, even the form of anything, and shall do that which is evil in the sight of the LORD thy God, to provoke Him; 26 I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over the Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed.

This is the warning which is followed by the punishment and the eventual return to HASHEM of a people gone astray. What I believe is that in every generation there is the so-called in crowd of sinners who try out what they think is the latest fad and they want to be like the nations. Against them are a handful of G-D fearing people who warn the sinners. However, when the sinners reach a critical mass, HASHEM gives out at that point the punishment.

27 And the LORD shall scatter you among the peoples, and ye shall be left few in number among the nations, whither the LORD shall lead you away. 28 And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men's hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. 29 But from thence ye will seek the LORD thy God; and thou shalt find Him, if thou search after Him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. 30 In thy distress, when all these things are come upon thee, in the end of days, thou wilt return to the LORD thy God, and hearken unto His voice; 31 for the LORD thy God is a merciful God; He will not fail thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which He swore unto them. 32 For ask now of the days past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and from the one end of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it?

Now Moshe asks a series of thought provoking questions to make the people realize that HASHEM, WHO HA ELOKIM! For no other god spoke in a voice from one end of heaven to the earth, out of the midst of a fire and produced such miracles and wonders over 40 years. Has there ever been a Nation taken completely out of another Nation and sustained by Mann and protective clouds?

33 Did ever a people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live? 34 Or hath God assayed to go and take Him a nation from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by an outstretched arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?

The ones who were under 20 some 40 years ago at the time of the spies would be close to 41 to 59 and able to verify this in front of their children or siblings.

35 Unto thee it was shown, that you might know that the LORD, He is God; there is none else beside Him. 36 Out of heaven He made thee to hear His voice, that He might instruct thee; and upon earth He made thee to see His great fire; and thou didst hear His words out of the midst of the fire. 37 And because He loved thy fathers, and chose their seed after them, and brought thee out with His presence, with His great power, out of Egypt, 38 to drive out nations from before thee greater and mightier than thou, to bring thee in, to give thee their land for an inheritance, as it is this day; 39 know this day, and lay it to thy heart, that the LORD, He is God in heaven above and upon the earth beneath; there is none else. 40 And thou shalt keep His statutes, and His commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou may prolong thy days upon the land, which the LORD thy God gives thee, forever.

For even if we are not deserving, in HIS great Mercy when the time comes, HE will return us unto the land for all the Nations can squeak and squawk against Am Yisrael but it will come to Nil for I, HASHEM have spoken!

41 Then Moses separated three cities beyond the Jordan toward the sunrising; 42 that the manslayer might flee thither, that slays his neighbor unawares, and hated him not in time past; and that fleeing unto one of these cities he might live: 43 Bezer in the wilderness, in the table-land, for the Reubenites; and Ramoth in Gilead, for the Gadites; and Golan in Bashan, for the Manassites. 44 And this is the law which Moses set before the children of Israel; 45 these are the testimonies, and the statutes, and the ordinances, which Moses spoke unto the children of Israel, when they came forth out of Egypt; 46 beyond the Jordan, in the valley over against Beth-peor, in the land of Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt at Heshbon, whom Moses and the children of Israel smote, when they came forth out of Egypt; 47 and they took his land in possession, and the land of Og king of Bashan, the two kings of the Amorites, who were beyond the Jordan toward the sunrising; 48 from Aroer, which is on the edge of the valley of Arnon, even unto mount Sion--the same is Hermon-- 49 and all the Arabah beyond the Jordan eastward, even unto the sea of the Arabah, under the slopes of Pisgah.

The Ten Commandments second version

5:1 And Moses called unto all Israel, and said unto them: Hear, O Israel, the statutes and the ordinances which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and observe to do them. 2 The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. 3 The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day. 4 The LORD spoke with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire-- 5 I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to declare unto you the word of the LORD; for ye were afraid because of the fire, and went not up into the mount--saying:

Up until now is a repeat of the 10 Debros aka Sayings aka Commandments!

This version is different from Shemos 20:8 Remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it. Remember (Zachor) vs. in this week Observe or Guard or Keep (Shamor) the Shabbos.

Remember: Heb. זָכוֹר [The words] “remember (זָכוֹר)” and “keep (שָׁמוֹר)” (Deut. 5:12) were pronounced with one utterance. Similarly [the statements], “Those who profane it shall be put to death” (Exod. 31:14) and “And on the Sabbath day, two lambs” (Num. 28:9) [were said in one utterance], and similarly, “You shall not wear shaatnez,” and “You shall make tzitzith for yourself” (Deut. 22:11, 12). Similarly, [the phrases] “The nakedness of your brother’s wife [you shall not uncover]” (Lev. 18:16), [and] “Her brother-in-law shall come in to her” (Deut. 25:5) [were said in one utterance]. This [occurrence of God saying two phrases simultaneously in one utterance] is the meaning of what is said: “God spoke one thing, I heard two” (Ps. 62:12) (Mechilta). [The word] זָכוֹר is in the פָּעוֹל form, an expression of ongoing action, like “[Let us engage in] eating and drinking אָכוֹל וְשָׁתוֹ) )” (Isa. 22:13), [and] “walking and weeping הָלוֹ וָּבָכֹה) )” (II Sam. 3:16), and this is its interpretation: Pay attention to always remember the Sabbath day, so that if you chance upon a beautiful thing, you shall prepare it for the Sabbath (Mechilta).

11 Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD thy God commanded thee.

Keep [the Sabbath day]: But in the first set [of Ten Commandments] (in Exod. 20) it says: “Remember [the Sabbath day]!” The explanation is: Both of them (“Remember” and “Keep”) were spoken simultaneously as one word and were heard simultaneously. (Mechilta 20:8) just as [the Lord your God] commanded you: Before the giving of the Torah, at Marah (Shab. 87b).

12 Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; 13 but the seventh day is a Sabbath unto the LORD thy God, in it you shalt not do any manner of work, you, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor your ox, nor your ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy man-servant and thy maid-servant may rest as well as thou.

Reminder we are dealing in Hebrew with Melacha which has 39 categories. For example we consider work or labor moving a piano which normally is Mukzah on Shabbos as it is forbidden since the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash to play musical instruments on Shabbos. However, if we were planning a Simcha in the back yard that had an Eruv and put out chairs and tables when suddenly a sandstorm or rainclouds appeared on the horizon and we had to take everything inside. If we need the space for the Simcha then we are allowed to slide or even lift a Baby Grand Piano from one side of the room to the other. This certainly normal work but not a Melacha like building, writing two letters, carrying a handkerchief in an public domain where there is no Eruv so the laws of Shabbos are many. Therefore it is imperative upon us to learn the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch or Mishneh Berura in order to observe the Shabbos according to the Halacha that HASHEM set down.

In conclusion there are a number of changes regarding Shabbos between the first and second version of the Debros and that is remember vs. observing, the language regarding work and the missing of the ending of section regarding the creation and holiness of the day vs. the bringing out from Mitzrayim.

14 And thou shalt remember that thou was a servant in the land of Egypt, and the LORD thy God brought thee out thence by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day. Vs. Shemos 20:7 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 8 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work; 9 but the seventh day is a Sabbath unto the LORD thy God, in it thou shalt not do any manner of work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; 10 for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested on the seventh day; wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.

This is an addition and different from Shemos.

And He wrote them upon two tables of stone, and gave them unto me. 19 And it came to pass, when ye heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, while the mountain did burn with fire, that ye came near unto me, even all the heads of your tribes, and your elders; 20 and ye said: 'Behold, the LORD our God hath shown us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice out of the midst of the fire; we have seen this day that God does speak with man, and he lives.

This is and was the only case since Adam and Chava in Gan Eden that HASHEM spoke to more than one person at once while miracles can happen to the plural such as the crossing of the Yarden in Yehoshua and the Korban of Eliyahu on Har Carmel nothing like this has happened again until this day!

21 Now therefore why should we die? for this great fire will consume us; if we hear the voice of the LORD our God any more, then we shall die.

I think we all psychologically would like to merit hearing HASHEM, the HOLY VOICE was so terrible and awesome in the ears of the people that they trembled in fear and their spirits were leaving them to cling unto G-D.

22 For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived? 23 Go thou near, and hear all that the LORD our God may say; and thou shalt speak unto us all that the LORD our God may speak unto thee; and we will hear it and do it.' 24 And the LORD heard the voice of your words, when ye spoke unto me; and the LORD said unto me: 'I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken unto thee; they have well said all that they have spoken. 25 Oh that they had such a heart as this alway, to fear Me, and keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them, and with their children forever! 26 Go say to them: Return ye to your tents. 27 But as for thee, stand thou here by Me, and I will speak unto thee all the commandment, and the statutes, and the ordinances, which thou shalt teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess it.' 28 Ye shall observe to do therefore as the LORD your God hath commanded you; ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. 29 Ye shall walk in all the way which the LORD your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess.

The condition of prolonging days is doing the Mitzvos, statutes and ordinances as mentioned in Pasuk 4.1.

6:1 Now this is the commandment, the statutes, and the ordinances, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go over to possess it-- 2 that you might fear the LORD thy God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son's son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged. 3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the LORD, the God of thy fathers, hath promised unto thee--a land flowing with milk and honey.

The Shema

4 Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

For a person who believes in a CREATOR then line 5 becomes a logical conclusion but for a person uncertain then he or she cannot put in ALL their hearts but only halfheartedly.

6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be upon thy heart; 7 and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when thou rises up. 8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes. 9 And thou shalt write them upon the door-posts of thy house, and upon thy gates.

After the guidance from HASHEM in the sentences above comes a warning to behave.

10 And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land which He swore unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee--great and goodly cities, which thou didst not build, 11 and houses full of all good things, which thou didst not fill, and cisterns hewn out, which thou didst not hew, vineyards and olive-trees, which thou didst not plant, and thou shalt eat and be satisfied-- 12 then beware lest thou forget the LORD, who brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 13 Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; and Him shalt thou serve, and by His name shalt thou swear. 14 Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the peoples that are round about you; 15 for a jealous God, even the LORD thy God, is in the midst of thee; lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and He destroy thee from off the face of the earth. 16 Ye shall not try the LORD your God, as ye tried Him in Massah. 17 Ye shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and His testimonies, and His statutes, which He hath commanded thee. 18 And thou shalt do that which is right and good in the sight of the LORD; that it may be well with thee, and that thou may go in and possess the good land which the LORD swore unto thy fathers, 19 to thrust out all your enemies from before thee, as the LORD hath spoken.

For HASHEM is looking out for our own good and like a good parent asks and demands obedience.

Below is a famous theme from the Pessach Haggada.

20 When thy son asks thee in time to come, saying: 'What mean the testimonies, and the statutes, and the ordinances, which the LORD our God hath commanded you? 21 then thou shalt say unto thy son: 'We were Pharaoh's bondmen in Egypt; and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 22 And the LORD showed signs and wonders, great and sore, upon Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his house, before our eyes. 23 And He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in, to give us the land which He swore unto our fathers. 24 And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is at this day. 25 And it shall be righteousness unto us, if we observe to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as He hath commanded us.'

7:1 When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and shall cast out many nations before thee, the Hittite, and the Girgashite, and the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite, seven nations greater and mightier than thou;

Some of the nations mentioned to Avraham Avinu are in Lebanon and Syria and will be possessed in the future for instead of 10 we have 7 nations here.

2 and when the LORD thy God shall deliver them up before thee, and thou shalt smite them; then thou shalt utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them; 3 neither shalt thou make marriages with them: thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. 4 For he will turn away thy son from following Me, that they may serve other gods; so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and He will destroy thee quickly.

We do not have to check up on this Pasuk too far but to see the extreme Israeli left with their meeting with the Arabs and the consequences to Am Yisrael. Just imagine that Ehud Barak would have succeeded in his foolish quest for peace twelve years ago with Syria and had given up the Golan Heights where we would be today!!! Let us not be fooled by false words and promises of men but let us understand the promise of HASHEM Yisborach!

5 But thus shall ye deal with them: ye shall break down their altars, and dash in pieces their pillars, and hew down their Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire. 6 For thou art a holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be His own treasure, out of all peoples that are upon the face of the earth. 7 The LORD did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people--for ye were the fewest of all peoples-- 8 but because the LORD loved you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 Know therefore that the LORD thy God, He is God; the faithful God, who keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations; 10 and repayeth them that hate Him to their face, to destroy them; He will not be slack to him that hateth Him, He will repay him to his face. 11 Thou shall therefore keep the commandment, And The Statutes, And The Ordinances, Which I Command Thee This Day, To Do Them.

The Prickly Bed

This was good news indeed that reached the ears of Reb Yossele of Ostila, the son of Reb Mordechai of Neshchiz. He had heard that a celebrated tzaddik was soon to pass through his town and very much wanted to have him as his guest, for this was none other than Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak of Lublin, known as the Chozeh (“the Seer”) on account of his unusual powers of perception.

Now he knew that when the Chozeh lay down on another’s bed he would sometimes cry out: “It’s prickly!” He therefore summoned to his home a G-d-fearing carpenter and instructed him to build a bed especially for the rebbe; to make sure that no one else should sleep on it; that he should immerse himself in a mikvah before working on it; and that he should entertain pure thoughts while working.

The carpenter was not at all enthused by this odd proposition, and in fact was somewhat apprehensive. On the other hand he could not quite bring himself to reject an instruction given by the Rebbe. In the end he set about the work with a dejected spirit and a feeling of unworthiness, knowing full well who was the holy man who was soon to sleep on this bed.

As soon as delivered the finished articles to Reb Yossele, the tzaddik stood it in a special room, made it up with bedclothes that were suitable, spotless and ironed, brought in a chair, table and lamp, and locked the door. And in order that he should be certain that no one at all would enter the room, he kept the key in his own pocket.

A few days later Reb Yossele was overjoyed, for when he went out to greet his distinguished guest, the Chozeh in fact accepted his offer of hospitality. He conducted him to his room, showed him the bed which a G-d-fearing carpenter had constructed especially for him, invited him to lie down to rest a little, and left the room in calm satisfaction.

“Help! It’s prickly!” – came the cries of alarm from within.

Reb Yossele did not know what to think. Perhaps he should offer the Chozeh his own bed? But then it would not be very pleasant if the same thing happened there too. Besides, if that were the case, how would the tzaddik rest after his arduous journey? Finally, however, he decided to ask the Rebbe to sleep in his own bed, and the Chozeh agreed.

When he woke up he said: “Excellent! You have restored life to all my limbs!”

Reb Yossele was relieved – but he still had a question: “I was a little surprised, sir, that you said that the new bed was prickly, for a G-d-fearing man made it specially for you.”

“Have no fear!” the Rebbe reassured him. “The bed is kosher in every respect. Only one thing: it exudes a smell of melancholy, because it was built during the Nine Days of Mourning, and the carpenter, being a G-d-fearing man, was lamenting the Destruction of the Beis HaMikdash while he was working on it.”

[Source: Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from the rendition in A Treasury of Chassidic Tales (Artscroll), as translated by the esteemed Uri Kaploun from Sipurei Chasidim by Rabbi S. Y. Zevin.]

A follow up after the 7 stolen Sifrei Torah were returned to the Synagogue in Tzefat: The police who were involved with the hunt for the Torah scrolls were so inspired by the story that they have decided to open a small Schul in the police station, and have requested the privilege of using one of the formerly missing Tzemach Tzedek Torah scrolls to celebrate the opening of the small synagogue. Chassidus teaches that often very negative things happen for an ultimately positive reason, and the opening of the police shul is an object lesson that demonstrates this principle. Rabbi Gavriel Marzel, director of the Tzemach Tzedek Schul, discussed this development with; “We know that from darkness comes the greatest light, and that the anniversary of the Temples’ destruction will one day become the most joyous day on the calendar. Similarly, our Torah scrolls’ theft and recovery brought about the birth of another synagogue.”

The special scroll is on loan to the Tzfat Police for two months while the synagogue is being opened. Another Schul is donating prayer books and an Aron haKodesh to the new Schul. By Miriam Metzinger

If this is too familiar then lower the pressure: Question:

Almost every Erev Shabbat my wife and I get in an argument or have an unpleasant exchange of words during the rush to get ready for Shabbat. No matter how hard we try it happens and Shabbat comes in with a heavy and unpleasant atmosphere. What can we do?

Dr. Yosef replies:

At the outset, I should point out that this is a surprisingly common problem. Couples who have generally positive relationships somehow find themselves getting into a nasty fight Friday afternoon. Yet, how come it happens and what can be done about it? Clearly, this is the work of the Yetzer Hara, the evil inclination; that mechanism in us which influences us to sin. Tomes can be written about the Yetzer Hara, but for our purposes – just a few brief comments. First, as Rav Chaim Shalom Deitsch often says, the Yetzer Hara works full time, is very crafty and is prepared to wait a long time for an opportunity to sow discord. Erev Shabbos is a favorite time for the Yetzer Hara to strike. Why are we more vulnerable Erev Shabbos? Think about it – it’s a hard day – shopping, cooking, cleaning, taking care of the children, getting the house ready for Shabbos, setting the table for guests, etc. Usually the wife is exhausted, but she wants everything to be special for Shabbos. Well, maybe something didn’t go right – food a little burnt, forgot to pick something up at the store, etc. The husband comes in, has had a hard week, and is possibly not sufficiently sensitive to his wife’s feelings and tiredness. He makes a “harmless” comment, the wife answers sharply, the cycle starts. Probably a little pride (gahva) by both husband and wife – they feel everything has to be perfect. That’s all the opening the Yetzer Hara needs. He works very hard to get you angry and cause the Kedusha to evaporate. So what to do? Be on the alert; be ready for him (the Yetzer Hara). Resolve that you’re not going to let him spoil your Shabbos. As soon as you feel the anger and irritation rising, go over to your spouse and together give a yell. “Out Yetzer Hara, were on to you!” Let’s learn from the Karliner Chassidim to try to take a nap Erev Shabbos. This takes teamwork. But, it can be done. Remember, no place in the holy books does it say that a husband cannot help his wife Erev Shabbos. The main thing though is to recognize who the provocateur is, and unceremoniously kick him out of your house. At your leisure, after Shabbos, sit down and consider some issues like the need to have everything be perfect, or some other strategies to make things more manageable. Have a great Shabbos and keep those letters and e-mails coming.

Dr. Yosef Halbfinger – Personal, Marriage (Shalom Bayis) & Family Issues–English, Hebrew, Yiddish– Halachic Advisor: HaRav Chaim Shalom Deitsch, Shlita. (02) 627-1534; (0547)-651288, 38 Misgavladach, Old City, JM.

Hilchos Deyos of the Rambam

Please note the healthy mind and then healthy body advice in these Halachos cover seven chapters and some are over-lapping as we see in the commentary. The best advice that I can give is to learn these once slowly and then review and reflect a few times as one needs both a healthy mind and a healthy body. No one can change a life style or have long lasting will power unless the mind is healthy. A healthy mind and a body getting healthy is a recipe for success but a sick mind will eventually make the body ill.

Halacha 3

The two extremes of each trait, which are at a distance from one another, do not reflect a proper path. It is not fitting that a man should behave in accordance with these extremes or teach them to himself.

If he finds that his nature leans towards one of the extremes or adapts itself easily to it, or, if he has learned one of the extremes and acts accordingly, he should bring himself back to what is proper and walk in the path of the good [men]. This is the straight path.

The formula for the mind is almost mathematical in nature the product of the means equals the product of the extremes.

Commentary Halacha 3

The two extremes of each trait, which are at a distance from one another, do not reflect a proper path - i.e., the path described in this and the following Halachos.

It is not fitting - except in certain cases, as explained in Chapter 2, Halacha 3. That a man should behave in accordance with these extremes - if that his nature or teach them to himself - and modify his behavior in this direction.

In Shemonah Perakim, Chapter 4, the Rambam elaborates on this concept, contrasting hedonism with asceticism, and pointing out how neither represents a healthy and mature approach to life.

If he finds that his nature leans towards one of the extremes - i.e., a genetic trait, as mentioned in the previous Halacha or adapts itself easily to it - a trait which is easily acquired because of the individual's natural tendencies, as mentioned in the previous Halacha. Or, if he has learned one of the extremes - the third type of trait mentioned in the previous Halacha and acts accordingly, he should bring himself back to what is proper - See Chapter 2, Halacha 2, for an extensive description of the process of correcting one's excesses of temperament.

And walk in the path of the good [men]. - i.e., the path that good men follow. This translation is based on the fact that the word "path" is in the singular, while the modifier "good" is in the plural.

That is the straight path. - Perhaps the Rambam is borrowing a biblical phrase here: "That you walk in the path of the good, and guard the way of the righteous" (Proverbs 2:20).

The nature of "the straight path" is explained in detail in the following Halacha.

Halacha 4

The straight path: This [involves discovering] the midpoint temperament of each and every trait that man possesses [within his personality.] This refers to the trait which is equidistant from either of the extremes, without being close to either of them.

Therefore, the early Sages instructed a man to evaluate his traits, to calculate them and to direct them along the middle path, so that he will be sound {of body}.

For example: he should not be wrathful, easily angered; nor be like the dead, without feeling, rather he should [adopt] an intermediate course; i.e., he should display anger only when the matter is serious enough to warrant it, in order to prevent the matter from recurring. Similarly, he should not desire anything other than that which the body needs and cannot exist without, as [Proverbs 13:25] states: "The righteous man eats to satisfy his soul."

Also, he shall not labor in his business except to gain what he needs for immediate use, as [Psalms 37:16] states: "A little is good for the righteous man."

He should not be overly stingy nor spread his money about, but he should give charity according to his capacity and lend to the needy as is fitting. He should not be overly elated and laugh [excessively], nor be sad and depressed in spirit. Rather, he should be quietly happy at all times, with a friendly countenance. The same applies with regard to his other traits.

This path is the path of the wise. Every man whose traits are intermediate and equally balanced can be called a "wise man."

Commentary Halacha 4

The straight path - This expression is also used in Avos 2:1. In his commentary on that Mishnah, the Rambam cites his explanation of the middle path in the fourth chapter of Shemonah Perakim.

This [involves discovering] the midpoint temperament of each and every trait that man possesses [within his personality.] - i.e., a path develops out of a series of midpoints.

This refers to the trait which is equidistant from either of the extremes, without being close to either of them. - These statements echo the opening remarks of the fourth chapter of Shemonah Perakim:

The good acts are those balanced ones midway between two extremes. Both of the extremes are bad - one reflects excess and the other, want. The virtues [good traits] are temperaments and habits which are midway between these two bad tendencies. These actions [good actions] are produced as a result of these [the good] traits.

Despite the similarity between the Rambam's statements here and those quoted, there is a slight difference. Here, the Rambam focuses on good traits, while in Shemonah Perakim, he emphasizes good actions.

Therefore, the early Sages instructed a man to evaluate his traits - The Rambam appears to be referring to Sotah 5b: "Whoever evaluates his paths in this world will merit and witness God's salvation."

to calculate them and to direct them along the middle path - At the conclusion of Chapter 4 of Shemonah Perakim, the Rambam writes:

When a man weighs his actions constantly and directs them towards their midpoints, he will be on the most elevated human plane possible. He will thereby approach God and grasp His will. This is the most perfect path in the service of God.

Constant introspection is a necessary element in any program of personal and spiritual growth. Even when a person has the highest goals, unless he frequently looks himself squarely in the mirror and examines his behavior, he may make gross errors.

so that he will be sound {of body}. - We have enclosed the words "of body" with brackets because they are not found in authoritative manuscripts of the Mishneh Torah and are problematic. Though a properly balanced temperament may also lead to physical health, this does not appear to be the Rambam's intent.

If the Hebrew bigufo is omitted as suggested, the meaning of shaleim would be altered from "sound" to "complete" or "perfect."

For example: he should not be wrathful, easily angered; nor be like the dead, without feeling, rather he should [adopt] an intermediate course; i.e., he should display anger - Our translation is based on Chapter 2, Halacha 3. (Note also the commentary of the Knesset HaGedolah.)

Only when the matter is serious enough to warrant it - The Rambam appears to be referring to matters which evoke personal feelings. Nevertheless, the Misrat Moshe interprets this passage as referring to an instance in which Torah law would require a display of anger - e.g., a colleague's transgression of Torah law.

In order to prevent the matter from recurring. Similarly, he should not desire - This refers to physical desire.

anything other than that which the body needs and cannot exist without, as [Proverbs 13:25] states - The Rambam quotes supporting verses for only two of the "intermediate traits;" perhaps, because his description of the middle-of-the-road position for these traits might appear to veer toward one extreme. We might expect the intermediate point between gluttony and its opposite extreme to be eating to one's satisfaction. However, here we are told that we should desire only what is sufficient in order to exist.

However, the Rambam is not telling us to deny ourselves satisfaction. Deuteronomy 8:10 teaches: "You shall eat and be satisfied, and bless God, your Lord." Based on that verse, Berachos 48b explains that we are obligated to recite grace only when we feel physically satisfied. (The Rambam quotes this concept in Hilchos Berachos 1:1.) In Chapter 3, Halacha 1, and in Shemonah Perakim, Chapter 4, he elaborates on the negative aspects of asceticism.

Thus, his intent cannot be that we deny our desires, but rather that we school ourselves to desire and feel satisfied with what we need, without excess. This is a dominant theme in the sections on diet in Chapter 4, and those describing the conduct of a Torah sage in Chapter 5.

"The righteous man eats to satisfy his soul." - The verse continues: "But the belly of the wicked will want." The commentaries note that the contrast between the two does not center on the quantity of food they eat, but on the attitude with which they eat it. Because the righteous are not given over to pursuit of gratification, they can be satisfied. Conversely, it is the gluttony of the wicked which actually causes their want.

Note also the Midrashic interpretations of this verse:

"The righteous..." This refers to Eliezer, who said to Rebecca: "Let me sip a little water" (Genesis 24:17) - a single sip. "And the belly of the wicked will want." This refers to Esau, who said to Jacob: "Stuff me..." (Genesis 25:30). Rabbi Yitzchak ben Zaira said: he opened his mouth agape like a camel and said: "I will open my mouth and you put it in" (Tanchuma; Pinchas 13; Bamidbar Rabbah 21:18).

Also, he shall not labor in his business except to gain what he needs for immediate use, as [Psalms 37:16] states: - Here again, the Rambam quotes a Biblical verse, because his definition of an intermediate path may seem extreme. The verse also clarifies that the Rambam is not denigrating the idea of work, but excessive preoccupation with one's profession as a means of acquiring possessions.

It is highly unlikely that the Rambam would criticize work per se. Note Proverbs 6:6: "Sluggard, go to the ant, see its ways and become wise;" and Berachos 8a:

He who enjoys the toil of his hands is greater than one who fears God..., as it is stated: "If you eat of the work of you hands, you are fortunate and will possess the good" (Psalms 128:2). "You are fortunate" - in this life, and "will possess the good" - in the world to come.

The Rambam, himself, quotes the latter passage in Hilchos Talmud Torah 3:11. Thus, the Rambam is not criticizing a person for working hard, but rather teaching us that work and its profits should not be our greatest priorities.

"A little is good for the righteous man." - The verse in its entirety expresses a contrast: "A little is better for the righteous man than the great wealth that many [of the] wicked possess." Note the commentary of ibn Ezra: "The righteous man will be happier with his small lot than the wicked with their great wealth."

He should not be overly stingy - The printed editions of the Mishneh Torah have yikfotz (close his hand). However, most manuscripts use the term: yikabetz (gather).

Yikfotz recalls Deuteronomy 15:7: "Do not close your hand from your needy brother." Thus, the contrasting extreme would be freehandedness. Yikabetz, like vikubatz in Halacha 1, reflects miserly behavior, the opposite of which is being a spendthrift. The variant texts might reflect a difference of opinion as to which opposing extremes the Rambam had in mind.

nor spread his money about, but he should give charity according to his capacity - See Hilchos Arachin 8:12-13, which places restrictions on the extent of one's generosity.

and lend to the needy as is fitting - Lending is also a form of charity. In Hilchos Matnot Ani'im 10:7, the Rambam lists eight degrees of charity. The highest is the support of a fellow Jew who has become poor by giving him loans or the like.

He should not be overly elated and laugh [excessively] - Such expressive "happiness" is often a sign of inner discontent and suffering.

nor be sad and depressed in spirit. Rather, he should be quietly happy at all times - his joy should be a composed sense of satisfaction.

[In this context, see the Ramah's conclusion of his notes to Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim (697:1) in which he quotes Proverbs 15:15: "A good-hearted person is always celebrating."]

With a friendly countenance. - In his commentary on Avot 1:14, the Rambam defines "a friendly countenance" as "a spirit of will and gentility."

The same applies with regard to his other traits. - In Shemonah Perakim, Chapter 4, the Rambam mentions many other "intermediate traits." Among them:

Courage is the midpoint between arrogance and fear. Humility is the intermediate between pride and meekness. Earnestness is the intermediate between boasting and lowliness....Patience is the intermediate between rashness and insensitivity...

This path is the path of the wise. - i.e., those whose behavior is controlled by their intellect

Every man whose traits are intermediate and equally balanced can be called a "wise man." - Note the contrast to the "pious" of the following halachah. Though the published editions of the Mishneh Torah include this line as the final concept in our halachah, many of the authoritative manuscripts place it as the beginning of Halachah 5.

Halacha 5

A person who carefully [examines] his [behavior], and therefore deviates slightly from the mean to either side is called pious.

What is implied? One who shuns pride and turns to the other extreme and carries himself lowly is called pious. This is the quality of piety. However, if he separates himself [from pride] only to the extent that he reaches the mean and displays humility, he is called wise. This is the quality of wisdom. The same applies with regard to other character traits.

The pious of the early generations would bend their temperaments from the intermediate path towards [either of] the two extremes. For some traits they would veer towards the final extreme, for others, towards the first extreme. This is referred to as [behavior] beyond the measure of the law.

We are commanded to walk in these intermediate paths - and they are good and straight paths - as [Deuteronomy 28:9] states: "And you shall walk in His ways."

Commentary Halacha 5

A person who carefully [examines] his [behavior] - in an effort to achieve the desired intermediate path

and therefore, deviates slightly from the mean - to compensate for a possible error in calculating that mean.

to either side is called pious. - In Shemonah Perakim, Chapter 4, the Rambam explains that one can refine and correct his behavior by balancing a tendency for excess in one direction by intentionally forcing oneself to adopt the opposite extreme. (See Chapter 2, Halacha 2.) He continues:

Therefore, the pious did not allow themselves to fix their traits at the midpoint, but would bend slightly to the side of excess or want as a hedge and a guard.

He goes on to explain that, even for the pious, these extremes are not ends in themselves, but means to help them overcome natural tendencies. Thus, both the pious and a person of underdeveloped character may act in an extreme manner. However, the difference between them is that the behavior of the pious is carefully calculated with the intent of refining his personality, while the underdeveloped person does so without thought, as a natural response to his whims and fancies.

What is implied? - i.e., how is this concept exemplified?

One who shuns pride - At first glance, the choice of pride as an example is rather problematic, because in Chapter 2, Halachah 3, the Rambam states:

There are traits for which it is forbidden for a person to follow an intermediate path.... Such a trait is pride...
The proper path is not that a person should merely be humble, but rather hold himself very lowly...
Therefore, our Sages commanded: "Be very, very humble of spirit."

It is possible to explain that because of the negative aspects of the quality of pride, the middle path that one should follow in regard to it does not resemble the middle paths of the other traits and may appear as an extreme. Pride represents one extreme, its converse being absolute lack of concern for self to the extent that one walks around in rags. Between these extremes are a number of intermediate points: modesty - which might normally be considered as the intermediate level; humility - which the Rambam considers as the true middle path; and extreme humility - which is pious behavior (Lechem Mishneh). See also the commentary on the halachah cited above.

Possibly, it is the exaggerated contrasts in this set of traits that make it the most fitting example to demonstrate the principle of the middle path that the Rambam espouses. These gross differences allow for the possibility of clear distinctions.

and turns to the other extreme - The Lechem Mishneh emphasizes that one need not actually adopt the other extreme, but rather, he should tend his behavior in that direction.

and carries himself lowly is called pious. This is the quality of piety - which represents a deviation from the mean.

However, if he separates himself [from pride] only to the extent that he reaches the mean and displays humility, he is called wise. This is the quality of wisdom. - In his commentary on Avot 5:6, the Rambam contrasts the wise and the pious:

A boor is one who lacks both intellectual and ethical development...
A wise man possesses both these qualities in a complete way, as is fitting.
A pious man is a wise man who increases his piety - i.e., his emotional development - until he tends toward one extreme, as explained in Chapter 4 [of Shemonah Perakim], and his deeds exceed his wisdom.

Thus, the wise man is one whose ethical behavior has been developed to the point at which it reflects his intellectual sophistication. He is able to appreciate the mean of each trait and express it within the context of his daily life. The pious man also possesses this quality, but due to his desire for ultimate self-refinement, he is willing to sacrifice himself and tend slightly to the extreme in certain instances.

Although in this Halacha, the Rambam differentiates between the middle path - the path of the wise - and "beyond the measure of the law" - the path of the pious, in Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah 5:11 he describes how, "according to the greatness of the Sage, should be the care he takes to go beyond the measure of the law." Thus, it appears that a truly wise man will ultimately seek pious ways.

The same applies with regard to other character traits. - i.e., there is a mean which is the path of wisdom, and a deviation from that course with a positive intent, which is the path of piety.

The pious of the early generations - This expression is borrowed - out of context - from the Mishnah, Berachos 5:1.

would bend their temperaments from the intermediate path towards [either of] the two extremes. For some traits, they would veer towards the final extreme - excess (Shemonah Perakim, Chapter 4)

for others, towards the first extreme - lack (ibid.). Depending on the circumstances involved, deviation to either extreme can produce positive results.

This is referred to - by our Sages...

as [behavior] beyond the measure of the law. - We find this expression used in a number of Talmudic passages. For example, Bava Metzia 30b relates that Rabbi Yishmael, Rabbi Yossi's son, was on a journey. A porter traveling the same road asked him to help lift a load of wood. Rabbi Yishmael was a distinguished scholar, and, therefore, this base task would have been demeaning for him. Nevertheless, rather than refuse the porter entirely, Rabbi Yishmael purchased his entire load from him. This was considered as behavior beyond the measure of the law.

See also Berachos 7a and 45b, Bava Kama 100a, Bava Metzia 24b. However, in these and other Talmudic passages where the term is used, the emphasis appears to be on the ethical or legal imperative involved, without stressing the aspect of character development. [Note Hilchos Aveidah 11:7, the Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 259:3 and 263:3, and Sefer Mitzvos Katan (Positive Commandment 49), which mention our obligation to go beyond the measure of the law.]

Thus, the Rambam appears merely to be borrowing the term used by the Sages without referring to any specific instance. The path of behavior prescribed by one's intellect corresponds to law, and an intentional deviation from that course for the sake of piety is "beyond the measure of the law."

We are commanded - The Sifre (on Deuteronomy 13:5) states: 'You shall walk after God, your Lord' - this is a positive commandment." The Zohar (Ki Tetze, p. 270) also makes a similar statement. However, neither source elaborates.

Among the Geonim, the Ba'al Halachos Gedolos does list it as a commandment. Rav Sa'adiah Gaon does not include it as a specific commandment.

Sefer HaMitzvot (positive mitzvah 8) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 610) include this as one of the Torah's 613 mitzvoth. However, the Rambam's inclusion of this commandment as one of the 613 mitzvoth is somewhat problematic. In Shoresh 4 of his introduction to Sefer HaMitzvot, he states that he does not include any "general mitzvah" which does not involve a specific activity in his reckoning of the 613 mitzvoth. For this reason, "Observe My statutes" (Leviticus 19:19) or "Be holy" (Leviticus 19:2) are not included in the 613 mitzvoth. On the surface, the command the Rambam mentions here also seems to be an all-encompassing charge to develop ourselves spiritually without any specific activity.

Rav Avraham, the Rambam's son, was asked this question, and he explained that here the specific activity implied by this commandment is the development of our emotions and character traits. A somewhat deeper perspective can be gained from the Rambam's own description of the mitzvah. When listing the mitzvot at the beginning of these Halachos, he states that the mitzvah is "to imitate God's ways" and in Sefer HaMitzvot, he defines the mitzvah as "to imitate Him, blessed be He, according to our potential."

The implication of these statements is that man has a constant obligation to carry out all of his deeds and guide the progress of his emotional development with the intent of imitating God. (See Likkutei Sichos, Tavo 5748, and note the commentary on the following Halacha.)

to walk in these intermediate paths - Despite the Rambam's praise of piety, his very description of it as "beyond the measure of the law" implies that, though it is desirable, it cannot be considered as obligatory.

and they are good and straight paths - as [Deuteronomy 28:9] states: "And you shall walk in His ways." - The Rambam describes this mitzvah in the following halachah. Indeed, the authoritative manuscripts of the Mishneh Torah include the paragraph we have just explained as the beginning of Halacha 6.

Regarding practical observance and basics prior to asking a Rabbi some of the simple standard questions can be answered by reading:

Sometimes I bring down questions here to get to the practical side of living. A Baal Teshuva or a Ger (Giyores) often are uncertain in the field of Kashrus. The person comes from a back ground of either mixing milk and meat or having one set of pots or eating only meat of kosher animals but killed and not ritually slaughtered. These people often get a Rav to help them kosher or their kosher their stoves and ovens. One person asked me recently about vegetables cooked in a meaty pot that he/she now wants to eat with a cheese meal. Another person asked me about the burners on the stove. “Rabbi I koshered my burners but I accidently put the milk pot over the meat burner.” So let us set the record the first question in most cases is usually OK but it does involve certain questions such as was meat cooked that same day in the pot etc.; The quantity of the Parve item etc. The second one is easier to answer. In almost every case even spilled or boiled milk or overflowing stew would have burnt off and the range is kosher by the flame heating it up. We do kosher the range from no Kashrus to Kosher or from regular times to Pessach but not from milk to meat. On the other hand an over has to be koshered from milk to meat and outside of Parve nothing could be cooked inside in the 24 hours previously to the koshering.

From Rabbi A.L. via Faya:

I have decided to recount this story that I just heard from Rabbi Yossi Refson, the Chabad rabbi in Mount Pleasant, SC, who told me that this actually happened to him.

When he first arrived in Mount Pleasant, since Jews are not supposed to ride on the Sabbath, the rabbi would walk to synagogue in Charleston - a distance of about seven miles (one way) from where he lived at the time. The rabbi was walking back from synagogue on one particular mid-summer Sabbath. The temperature was brutal - over 100˚. He was about halfway home, on the Ravenel Bridge, and was already exhausted and near the end of his strength when a car came alongside. The driver rolled his window down, quoted in Hebrew from the Scriptures and said:

"the Jewish law says that you can't drive, but you can let someone else who is already doing it do it for you. Get in to the car, and I will drive you the rest of the way."

The rabbi thanked him, but politely refused the offer.

The car then drove away.

A while later, the driver of the car came walking from the opposite direction on the bridge and told the rabbi:

"If you won't let me drive you, then at least let me help you."

He then proceeded to put his arm under the rabbi's and took some of the rabbi's weight.

The stranger told the rabbi that he was a pastor. That he had studied Hebrew in Seminary, and considered it an honor to be able to help the rabbi. They then proceeded to walk together for over an hour in the stultifying heat and humidity, to the rabbi's home.

The stranger said that he would contact the rabbi, and continue their acquaintance. He then left to walk all the way back to where he had left his car, near the bridge.

Rabbi Refson told me that he never heard from nor ran into the pastor again. He doesn't know his name, nor remember what he looks like. But he will never forget the stranger who helped him through a very difficult ordeal.

I believe that G-d sends aid to the righteous when it is truly needed. Whether or not he was an angel or simply a righteous pastor, he was either a Southern angel or an angelic Southern pastor. You can come to your own conclusion.

Charity saves from famine a story:

A small step for a man a giant step for mankind:

Orthodox Jewish Woman runs for NY State Senate:

Better food in the IDF:,7340,L-4263311,00.html

Only miracles keep us going strong

Ana sent me this it is about a young fellow dying of cancer and his faith 38 minutes.

Sometimes a Mitzvah of kindness can save you from certain death:,7340,L-4252069,00.html

The Knesset is going to a break so a bit early they celebrated the 100th anniversary of the birth of Raoul Wallenberg.

Inyanay Diyoma

From Bill:

Obama’s words and deeds on Israel lest we forget:

This is only one of the reasons why 2/3rds of the world’s population will die in the war of Gog.

Ed-op on Iran:,7340,L-4260454,00.html

Barak: Facing a nuclear Iran would be more costly than thwarting it DEBKAfile July 26, 2012, 9:07 AM (GMT+02:00) Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak stressed in a lecture that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a greater danger and be costlier in life than action for pre-empting it. He hinted that if sanctions fail, Israel may decide to attack Iran when he spoke of “tough and crucial decisions” facing Israel on its security. Barak also commented that the lesson Israel has drawn from the Syrian crisis is that in a security crunch it can only rely on itself.
DEBKAfile: Tehran is now considering pumping up uranium enrichment to weapons grade on the pretext of the need to fuel non-existent oil tankers.

Israel setting up a war budget:

Ed-op the CIA reality vs. the White House Statements:,7340,L-4260723,00.html

At least they caught these characters

Tactical diversion for it took the Republican House and the Democratic Senate to allow this but one day before Romney arrives,7340,L-4261267,00.html

Hezballah up to their old tricks:

Hurray for US elections after a few years of the Obama Administration rejecting this:,7340,L-4261594,00.html

If you think that the CIA is friendly to Israel then read this:

Jews heed this warning from the Yediot Newspaper:,7340,L-4261901,00.html

Finally the US Homeland Security is learning security but not the brains in the TSA

This is going to hit both the poor and middle class hard Israeli cabinet meets to endorse austerity package July 30, 2012, Tax hikes and spending cuts in the current year and 2013 are estimated to raise NIS14 billion ($3.4 billion) and avert economic crisis. Cabinet endorsement is expected although some ministers and all the opposition strongly criticize the measures as overly harsh for low-income earner and easy on the rich.

The problem with the Syrian Rebels is that they are 10 to 20 local regional groups and not organized. Often a so-called victory is film propaganda for the west and produced like in Pallywood.’s-first-safe-haven-in-Aleppo-region-is-thwarted

European anti-Semitism:

I wrote in the past that I am less than infatuated with Romney but it is not for the love of Mordechai but the fear of Haman that I support him. From Barbara M: In case you were not in Yerushalayim like I wasn’t. Mitt Romney said that he would move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Yerushalayim and that upset the White House this is not the party platform but the words of the candidate. re The White House Watch the White House press conference itself here:

In Bolivia every years Israelis tour the salt desert. Local drivers tend to go wild and film their jeeps often killing all in the jeep. By the time this is published I may have attempted to comfort the father of an Israeli victim as I know the man and he will have to bear an inconsolable loss. This week I have a horrible task. A plane carrying the bodies of two Israeli women who were killed in a jeep accident in Bolivia is expected to land in Israel during the night. The funerals of Kalanit Nankin and Dorit Zanir will be held Tuesday at 6 pm. (Yediot) I know the father of Kalanit and perhaps vaguely the mother and it is hard to try to comfort a parent no matter how strong the belief in HASHEM.

Arab attack on Shabbos which was Tisha B'Av

Golan Druze indicted for spying on Israel for Assad Iyad Johari, 38, of Majdal Shams, Golan was indicted in Nazareth district court Monday after admitting to passing military secrets to three Syrian intelligence officers from 2005 to 2008 when he studied in Syria. The Shin Bet and police charge him with using his vacations to collect detailed data on IDF bases in northern Israel, training drills, security fence surveillance and anti-Assad dissidents in Golan villages.

Sodom gets a comeback before Moshiach:

This man looks like a Cohain who sometimes reads the Torah Parsha,7340,L-4263181,00.html

Iran will either give in or face the music.

Iran prepares for war.’s-Top-Leaders-WAR-IN-WEEKS

Red alert for terrorism: TV reports in Israel for all Israelis in egypt to get out immediately from the Sinai area. immediately. very serious threat for kidnapping to take place at any time. asking everyone to contact family and friends there and tell them to leave immediately. this is a very serious warning was now on at channel 10 news. I assume that the other networks have this too.

Suspected al Qaeda members arrested in S. Spain DEBKAfile August 2, 2012, 12:55 PM

Spanish media report that the suspects including a Chechen and a Turk were found in position of explosives and poison when arrested in La Linea de la Concepcion and Valdepenas. They are thought to have been planning an attack in Spain. One is believed to have attended training camps in Pakistan.

Now for Matis Wolfberg’s Story “Rushing to learn”

Good Shabbos Everyone. This Saturday night through Sunday night marks the observance of Tisha b' Av, the ninth day of the month of Av, the day on which both of the holy Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed. Tisha b' Av is the saddest day of the year; in recognizing such, the Sages instituted fasting and denied us other comforts on that day in order to focus our attention on mourning for the destruction of the Temple, the Bais HaMikdash.
The primary function of the Bais HaMikdash was to bring sacrifices, which among other things, enabled Jews to atone for their spiritual missteps. Now that we do not have the Bais HaMikdash, it should be speedily rebuilt, the Sages teach us that Torah learning takes the place of sacrifices. (see Menuchos 110a). The MaHaRaL explains that just as the korban - sacrifice had the power to bring a Jew back closer to Hashem, so too does learning Torah has that power. A sin distances a Jew from Hashem; Torah learning brings him closer once again. The following inspirational true story will inspire us to want to learn more Torah.
Under the dreaded Communist regime, the Soviet Union was nearly totally devoid of any Yiddishkeit - Judaism. All that remained was a small remnant of the great Torah centers and Jewish communities which once were.
There were just a few precious souls keeping Judaism alive. One such soul was Yuri Zilber, who was a mathematician. With a government position, he was regarded as a loyal, simple servant of Mother Russia. Yet his true servitude was not to Mother Russia. Clandestinely, Yuri was Yitzchok and he spent every free moment delving into the depths of Hashem's holy Torah.
It seems impossible that a well-known academic could get away with living such a double lifestyle, but Yuri/Yitzchok had a secret. A secret that was well hidden. Every morning Yitzchok would tear out one page from a Gemara (Talmud), conceal it in his clothing, and when he had a spare minute, he would steal away some time to learn; at times he even got lost in the page he was studying, risking revealing his true identity.
Amazingly, Yitzchok did this for quite a long time, demonstrating remarkable perseverance. Daf by daf, sheet by sheet, he lovingly tore out each page, reviewed it over and over, and mastered it, noting to himself the topics that were perplexing and difficult, and which he could not resolve.
Ultimately, after tearing out over 2,300 pages of Talmud, he had mastered them all. He had accomplished the impossible! But his mission was not yet complete. In 1973 he achieved what he thought was hopeless — exit visas for his entire family to immigrate to Eretz Yisrael.
The excitement was indescribable. But perhaps more than anything else, Yitzchok looked forward to finally being able to resolve the difficulties that he had encountered in his Gemara studies throughout the years. His family boarded the plane and, with joy in their hearts, took the trip of their lifetime.
The moment the plane landed in Ben Gurion Airport, Yitzchok descended and ran over to the first man with a yarmulka that he saw. With a tattered page of the Tractate Eruvin in hand, Yitzchok grabbed the man by the lapels, "Please explain this Tosafos (Talmudic commentary) to me!"
The stunned man, a security guard, stared at Yitzchok in disbelief. Had this man lost his mind? Yitzchok looked more closely at the guard and immediately realized that not everyone in Eretz Yisrael made the most of the opportunity they had to study Hashem's Torah.
Broken, Yitzchok began to cry. After years of living in a land where religion was forbidden, and intolerance reigned supreme, he was shaken by the fact that every Jew who was free to do so was not constantly immersed in Hashem's Torah.
Soon after Yitzchok and his family arrived in Eretz Yisrael, his son Anatoly, or Avraham as he was now called, came to the Mirrer Yeshivah in Jerusalem. He had come to meet the Rosh Yeshivah, Reb Chaim Shmulevitz.
It was hard to fathom that a mere few days earlier opening a Gemara in public was grounds for imprisonment, torture and even death. And now here he was about to come face to face with the leader of one of the greatest yeshivos in the world.
But Avraham's heart was filled with anxiety, and he did not wear the worry and concern well. The palms of his hands were sweaty and cold and his stomach churned as he stood on the ground floor of the yeshivah outside the door of Reb Chaim's apartment.
The door opened and Reb Chaim invited the 17-year-old Russian boy inside. Reb Chaim's warmth enveloped the young boy. Although Reb Chaim was overjoyed to spend time speaking with the young man, he was taken aback when Avraham requested to be admitted to the yeshivah.
Reb Chaim looked into the young man's eyes and could sense his intense desire to learn and to be a yeshivah bochur. But Reb Chaim explained to him that there were other yeshivos which were better suited for one who was still a novice in learning. He encouraged him warmly and assured him that when the time came he would most certainly accept him into the yeshivah. (Reb Chaim feared perhaps that Avrohom would become despondent should he fail to succeed in such a high caliber yeshivah.)
Avraham listened to each and every word and nodded. When Reb Chaim finished speaking, Avraham looked at the Rosh Yeshivah, this time with tears in his eyes, and insisted that he be given a chance, a chance to prove himself.
Finally, Reb Chaim relented and agreed to test the boy. Reb Chaim felt rather uncomfortable administering the entrance exam to this young man, for he feared that the boy would be embarrassed. They walked together to the bookshelf and Reb Chaim turned to Avraham and asked him on which tractate of the Talmud he wished to be tested. The young man hung his head in shame.
Reb Chaim realized that the boy had obviously not learned much of anything in Russia. With no Hebrew school to attend, what could he have possibly learned? Reb Chaim looked down at the boy, and through his silence sensed the embarrassment the young man felt. Again Reb Chaim asked him, but this time in a softer tone, "You do not have to be ashamed. Is there any Gemara I can test you on?"
The boy looked up and Reb Chaim noticed the tears that now filled his eyes. "I'm ashamed to say that I know only Seders (Orders of the Talmud/Mishna) Nashim and Nezikin, Gemara, Rashi and Tosafos." (A very sizeable amount of Gemara.) Reb Chaim could not move! He was stunned! He just stared at this suddenly mature young man and was overcome by the awesome realization that this boy, under the threat and danger of expulsion to Siberia, had learned more in his seventeen years than most yeshivah boys in liberated countries accomplish during their entire lifetime of learning. Reb Chaim pulled the young man close to him and held him tight — and he gladly accepted him into the yeshivah. (TOUCHED BY A STORY 2, Reb Yechiel Spero, P. 158)
Let us all be inspired by this story to increase our Torah learning as much as possible. We hope to have the Beis HaMikdash rebuilt speedily in our days, at which time we will once again have the sacrifices to atone for our sins. In the meantime, let us apply ourselves in Torah learning, which Sages have promised us as having the power to atone for our misdeeds.
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

.A foot note to this story. Around 1980 or so, Rabbi Tovia Wein (HaYayin HaTov) of blessed memory, used to be a younger student of the Chofetz Chaim he was an expert on the Targum. He took me under his wing and taught me Sefer Daniel when it came to learning Ezra there was a young Russian Man who secretly had studied Gemara in Russia came to learn with us he worked at the Weitzman Institute I estimate from his age that the was not the man in the story but was possibly the age of the son from the story.

A healthy and wonderful Shabbos to all and may we see Moshiach real soon,

Rachamim Pauli