Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Bamidbar, Shavous, Megilla Ruth, analysis and stories

As we start Sefer Bamidbar let me remind you that for those who get my posts direct, if the Drasha does not arrive close to Shabbos Israel time then check

Prayers for Men: Eliezer David HaCohain ben Naomi, Asher ben Esther Malka, Avraham ben Devorah, Zvi Yechezkel ben Leah, Chaim Zev ben Faige Tova, Naphtali Moshe ben Tziporah, Shalom Charles ben Gracia, Yoel ben Esther, Zev ben Rachel, Binum Benyamin Tuvia ben Chana Friedel, Yehonatan ben Malka, Aaron ben Sara Chana, Aharon ben Miriam, Shraga Shlomo ben Sara, Benyamin ben Ganendel

Women: Karen Neshama bas Esther Ruth, Chaya Melecha Rachel bas Baila Alta, Rachel bas Chana, Hodaya Nirit bas Mazel, Rivka bas Idit, Kayla Rus bas Chaya Rachel, Tsvia Simcha bas Devorah Yachad, Sara Merkava bas Elisheva, Adina bas Sara, Esther bas Tziporah, Miriam bas Irene Taita Malka, Esther Georgette bas Mesuda, Ruda Itzka Minyan bas Liba, Adele Chaya bas Edva, Chana bas Gisela, Marsha bas Raisel

Letter regarding last week’s Parsha: Re: This Jubilee Year is called the Yovel in Hebrew which occurs in the 50th year of the cycle. There is a dispute in understanding if this is also the first year of the next cycle or the end of the old. From the Torah this does not exist today but the Shmita is observed per the Rabbis.
I thought that Shimta is every 7 years and Yovel is every 50 years; that suggests that Yovel is the first year leading to the next Shimta.  We know they line up, as in, the year after the 7th Shmita there is the Yovel.  Corrections? Cheers, Laiib

This is the problem that arises from the fact that the Temple was destroyed and we were scattered among the nations of the world. In one way Esav would fall on one part of our people another would survive but we also lost from the diaspora traditions such as where physically our forefathers inherited the land and the boundaries thereof of our plot. We no longer know among our Cohanim which of the 24 families the Cohain is from or which weeks of the year the forefathers served. The Leviim no longer know which one of the cities their forefathers lived. So here too the tradition is not firm any more.

A few words of thanks to HASHEM Yisborach

My friend Chaim S. only saw a grandchild from his oldest son Yitzchak Isaac after 14 years. My oldest son married close to 14 years ago and with a blessing from HASHEM his wife gave birth to a B”H healthy baby girl, Basmat P’liya or perfumed wonder so I would like to dedicate this week’s Parsha as thanks to HASHEM on this little blessing. 

Parsha Bamidbar

The Sefer begins and end with census of the Bnei Yisrael in the wilderness of Sinai. We see in this week’s Parsha phenomena regarding the tribe of Levi. They were essentially the priestly or spiritual leaders even in Egypt based on the Medrash about Levi being the last of the 12 brothers alive, Kohat and Amram as spiritual leaders of the generation. This class like many other families tend to have less children either by being so busy in leadership that they ignore themselves and their personal lives or simply HASHEM limiting their offspring. Look at the other tribes in the census. It becomes very pronounced. I believe that by being a Priestly class they were never subject to slavery as the Priests of Egypt had an exemption from service. We saw this in the Middle-ages with the King-Clergy-Nobles vs. the peasant class in Europe. (Even our famed “Robin Hood” in English Culture appears to be more the Nobles with the Magna Carta vs. King John and perhaps the peasants also benefiting from it in a smaller way. Of course this is a far cry from the slavery that the main stead of the Bnei Yisrael endured in Mitzrayim.)

This section after the laws of Yovel and Shmita have been given regarding the holiness of Eretz Yisrael is the preparation of the entrance into the land. The army is being established. In this army of HASHEM everybody is drafted from the genius nerd types to the limited mental capacity and nobody is exempt because of his Torah ability. Rather the greatest spiritual leaders as we shall see Elazar, Pinchas and Yehoshua are guides in the army under Moshe Rabbaynu who is now 82 years of age.

The Sefer will go on to explain the trials and tribulations of Moshe with the people complaining and the ruination caused by the spies and the rebellion of Korach. The Sefer will review again after the misdeeds of Zimri and his friends the Chaggim to refortify the people in Parsha Pinchas. The Sefer closes with the war on Midian, Og and Sihon and the travels of the Bnei Yisrael being readied to finally enter Eretz Yisrael in the new generation.

1:1 And the LORD spoke unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tent of meeting, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying:

The Lord spoke... in the Sinai Desert... on the first of the month : Because they were dear to Him, He counted them often. When they left Egypt, He counted them (Exod. 12:37); when [many] fell because [of the sin] of the golden calf, He counted them to know the number of the survivors (Exod. 32:28); when He came to cause His Divine Presence to rest among them, He counted them. On the first of Nissan, the Mishkan was erected, and on the first of Iyar, He counted them.

The Prophet Yermiyahu 31:2 wrote “Thus says the L-RD, the people that were left of the sword have found grace in the desert”. This is the first of Iyar 2449.

2 'Take ye the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, every male, by their polls; 3 from twenty years old and upward, all that are able to go forth to war in Israel: ye shall number them by their hosts, even thou and Aaron. 4 And with you there shall be a man of every tribe, every one head of his fathers' house.

In the past two years, I have written about the configuration of the tribes, the directions they were placed and the angels guarding each area that I do not want to repeat myself. The key to remember which Angel is in the HaMapil Prayer  (prayer to be said when going to sleep). We repeat 3 times in the prayer as if we were facing north (see approximately Daf Hey Berachos about the direction of one’s bed should be aka north to south. In the name of HASHEM G-D of Yisrael from my right Michael, from my left Gavriel, in front of me Uriel, behind me Rafael and above my head (where the Mishkan was) Shechina(t) KAIL. X 3.

The tribes were disciplined and Yehuda moved first forward towards either the cloud of glory or the pillar of fire at night. The other tribes would follow with military precision of a march and turn accordingly (see of last year and the year before) the women and children were supposed to be protected closer to the center with the Mishkan in the epicenter. We saw as in the case of Amalek that women, children and the elderly had been left behind previously and were attacked from the rear so this newly commanded formation was to avoid that. In fact I speculate that the strongest soldiers were outside followed by the next strongest so as to be able to fend off an attack.

… 18 And they assembled all the congregation together on the first day of the second month, and they declared their pedigrees after their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and upward, by their polls.

And they declared their pedigrees according to their families: They brought the records of their pedigrees and witnesses of their birth claims, so that each one should trace his genealogy to a tribe.

This is the first of Iyar 2449.

 … 44 These are those that were numbered, which Moses and Aaron numbered, and the princes of Israel, being twelve men; they were each one for his fathers' house. 45 And all those that were numbered of the children of Israel by their fathers' houses, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war in Israel; 46 even all those that were numbered were six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty. 47 But the Levites after the tribe of their fathers were not numbered among them.

The above 12 tribes who were going to inherit the land were mentioned above. The Leviim who would inherit 42 cities and the 6 cities of refuge and the surrounding fields were to have inheritance in HASHEM. As they would receive Teruma and Maaser.

48 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 49 'Howbeit the tribe of Levi thou shalt not number, neither shalt thou take the sum of them among the children of Israel; 50 but appoint thou the Levites over the tabernacle of the testimony, and over all the furniture thereof, and over all that belongs to it; they shall bear the tabernacle, and all the furniture thereof; and they shall minister unto it, and shall encamp round about the tabernacle. 51 And when the tabernacle sets forward, the Levites shall take it down; and when the tabernacle is to be pitched, the Levites shall set it up; and the common man that draws nigh shall be put to death. 52 And the children of Israel shall pitch their tents, every man with his own camp, and every man with his own standard, according to their hosts. 53 But the Levites shall pitch round about the tabernacle of the testimony, that there be no wrath upon the congregation of the children of Israel; and the Levites shall keep the charge of the tabernacle of the testimony.' 54 Thus did the children of Israel; according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so did they.

Leviim are special and especially holy to HASHEM.

2:1 And the LORD spoke unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying: 2 'The children of Israel shall pitch by their fathers' houses; every man with his own standard, according to the ensigns; a good way off shall they pitch round about the tent of meeting. 3 Now those that pitch on the east side toward the sunrising shall be they of the standard of the camp of Judah, according to their hosts; …  (Zevulun and Yischachar)

9: These shall journey first: When the cloud was seen departing, the kohanim would sound the trumpets, and the camp of Judah would set off first. And when they traveled, they journeyed forward retaining the same positions in which they camped: the Levites and the wagons in the center, the division of Judah to the east, that of Reuben to the south, that of Ephraim to the west, and that of Dan to the north.

10 On the south side shall be the standard of the camp of Reuben according to their hosts; … (Shimon and Gad) … 18 On the west side shall be the standard of the camp of Ephraim according to their hosts; (Manasseh and Benjamin) 25 On the north side shall be the standard of the camp of Dan according to their hosts3 …  (Asher and Napthali).
3:1 Now these are the generations of Aaron and Moses in the day that the LORD spoke with Moses in mount Sinai. 2 And these are the names of the sons of Aaron: Nadab the first-born, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. 3 These are the names of the sons of Aaron, the priests that were anointed, whom he consecrated to minister in the priest's office. 4 And Nadab and Abihu died before the LORD, when they offered strange fire before the LORD, in the wilderness of Sinai, and they had no children; and Eleazar and Ithamar ministered in the priest's office in the presence of Aaron their father.
5 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 6 'Bring the tribe of Levi near, and set them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister unto him. 7 And they shall keep his charge, and the charge of the whole congregation before the tent of meeting, to do the service of the tabernacle. 8 And they shall keep all the furniture of the tent of meeting, and the charge of the children of Israel, to do the service of the tabernacle. 9 And thou shalt give the Levites unto Aaron and to his sons; they are wholly given unto him from the children of Israel. 10 And thou shalt appoint Aaron and his sons, that they may keep their priesthood; and the common man that draws nigh shall be put to death.'

Moshe was commanded to set aside the Leviim which were small in numbers. Originally it was for the first born but because some of the first born participated in the Golden Calf it was decided that it would go to the tribe of Levi whom did not partake see Rashi on verse 12.

11 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 12 'And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of every first-born that opens the womb among the children of Israel; and the Levites shall be Mine; 13 for all the first-born are Mine: on the day that I smote all the first-born in the land of Egypt I hallowed unto Me all the first-born in Israel, both man and beast, Mine they shall be: I am the LORD.'

This is the basis for the redemption of the first born children. 

from among the children of Israel: That the Israelites should have to hire them for My service? I gained My right to them through the [Israelite] firstborns, taking them [the Levites] in their place. For [originally] the service was performed by the firstborns, but when they sinned by [worshipping] the [golden] calf, they became disqualified. The Levites, who had not committed idolatry, were chosen in their stead. [Midrash Aggadah]

14 And the LORD spoke unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, saying: 15 'Number the children of Levi by their fathers' houses, by their families; every male from a month old and upward shalt thou number them.' 16 And Moses numbered them according to the word of the LORD, as he was commanded. 17 And these were the sons of Levi by their names: Gershon, and Kohath, and Merari.

These are the three divisions of the tribe of Levi. Each sub-tribe would camp on  a different side with Moshe and Aaron camping to the east in the center (see Rashi v.38). The Mishkan was in the center.

18 And these are the names of the sons of Gershon by their families: Libni and Shimei. 19 And the sons of Kohath by their families: Amram and Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel. 20 And the sons of Merari by their families: Mahli and Mushi. These are the families of the Levites according to their fathers' houses.

The Leviim worked in the Mikdash between the ages of 30 and 50 if we take for a fact that there numbers were small starting from a month old upwards the number actually able to serve was relatively small and when divided among three sections still smaller. It might be that the 8,000 Leviim that were of age for the Avoda only knew each other by face as after approximately 1,000 people, one tends to forget names although they did not have TV, Radio, 24x7 News so that their brains were more opt to knowing at least the 2,000 to 2,700 members of the their family serving.  

21 Of Gershon was the family of the Libnites, and the family of the Shimeites; these are the families of the Gershonites. 22 Those that were numbered of them, according to the number of all the males, from a month old and upward, even those that were numbered of them were seven thousand and five hundred.

Being that this was all age groups the number decreases from 30 to 50 to 

23 The families of the Gershonites were to pitch behind the tabernacle westward; 24 the prince of the fathers' house of the Gershonites being Eliasaph the son of Lael, 25 and the charge of the sons of Gershon in the tent of meeting the tabernacle, and the Tent, the covering thereof, and the screen for the door of the tent of meeting, 26 and the hangings of the court, and the screen for the door of the court--which is by the tabernacle, and by the altar, roundabout--and the cords of it, even whatsoever pertains to the service thereof.


27 And of Kohath was the family of the Amramites, and the family of the Izharites, and the family of the Hebronites, and the family of the Uzzielites; these are the families of the Kohathites: 28 according to the number of all the males, from a month old and upward, eight thousand and six hundred, keepers of the charge of the sanctuary. 29 The families of the sons of Kohath were to pitch on the side of the tabernacle southward;

The families of the sons of Kohath shall camp to the south: Near them was the division of Reuben, who camped to the south. Woe to the wicked, woe to his neighbor! This explains why Dathan, Abiram, and two hundred and fifty men were smitten with Korah and his congregation, for they were drawn into the dispute along with them. [Tanchuma, Bamidbar 12]

30 the prince of the fathers' house of the families of the Kohathites being Elizaphan the son of Uzziel, 31 and their charge the ark, and the table, and the candlestick, and the altars, and the vessels of the sanctuary wherewith the priests minister, and the screen, and all that pertaineth to the service thereof; 32 Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest being prince of the princes of the Levites, and having the oversight of them that keep the charge of the sanctuary. 33 Of Merari was the family of the Mahlites, and the family of the Mushites; these are the families of Merari. 34 And those that were numbered of them, according to the number of all the males, from a month old and upward, were six thousand and two hundred; 35 the prince of the fathers' house of the families of Merari being Zuriel the son of Abihail; they were to pitch on the side of the tabernacle northward; 36 the appointed charge of the sons of Merari being the boards of the tabernacle, and the bars thereof, and the pillars thereof, and the sockets thereof, and all the instruments thereof, and all that pertaineth to the service thereof; 37 and the pillars of the court round about, and their sockets, and their pins, and their cords. 38 And those that were to pitch before the tabernacle eastward, before the tent of meeting toward the sunrising, were Moses, and Aaron and his sons, keeping the charge of the sanctuary, even the charge for the children of Israel; and the common man that drew nigh was to be put to death.

Moses, Aaron and his sons: Near them was the division of the camp of Judah, next to whom camped Issachar and Zebulun. It is good for the righteous, and it is good for his neighbor; because they were neighbors of Moses, who was engaged in Torah study, they became great Torah scholars, as it says, “Judah is my lawgiver” (Ps. 60:9). The descendants of Issachar were those “who had understanding of the times” (I Chron. 12:32)… the two hundred heads of the Sanhedrin,“and from Zebulun came those who wield the scribe’s quill” (Jud. 5:14). [Tanchuma 12]

39 All that were numbered of the Levites, whom Moses and Aaron numbered at the commandment of the LORD, by their families, all the males from a month old and upward, were twenty and two thousand.

Twenty-two thousand: But when you count them individually, you will find another three hundred: the descendants of Gershon were seven thousand, five hundred; the descendants of Kohath were eight thousand, six hundred, and the descendants of Merari, six thousand, two hundred. Why were they not included with the rest to redeem the firstborn, thus exempting the two hundred and seventy-three firstborns who were in excess [of the number of Levites] from redemption (see verses 46-48)? Our Sages in Tractate Bechorot (5a) answer that those three hundred Levites were firstborns, and it was enough that they exempt themselves from redemption.

40 And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Number all the first-born males of the children of Israel from a month old and upward, and take the number of their names. 41 And thou shalt take the Levites for Me, even the LORD, instead of all the first-born among the children of Israel; and the cattle of the Levites instead of all the firstlings among the cattle of the children of Israel.' 42 And Moses numbered, as the LORD commanded him, all the first-born among the children of Israel. 43 And all the first-born males according to the number of names, from a month old and upward, of those that were numbered of them, were twenty and two thousand two hundred and threescore and thirteen.

As for the two hundred and seventy-three of the children of Israel who required redemption: The firstborn among them who require redemption-these are the two hundred and seventy-three in excess of the Levites; from them you shall take five shekels per head. Such was the sale [price] of Joseph, the firstborn of Rachel, [for the price was] twenty silver pieces [i.e., twenty dinarim, four of which equal a sela]. [Gen. Rabbah 84:18]

44 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 45 'Take the Levites instead of all the first-born among the children of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle; and the Levites shall be Mine, even the LORD'S. 46 And as for the redemption of the two hundred and three score and thirteen of the first-born of the children of Israel, that are over and above the number of the Levites, 47 thou shalt take five shekels apiece by the poll; after the shekel of the sanctuary shalt thou take them--the shekel is twenty gerahs. 48 And thou shalt give the money wherewith they that remain over of them are redeemed unto Aaron and to his sons.' 49 And Moses took the redemption-money from them that were over and above them that were redeemed by the Levites; 50 from the first-born of the children of Israel took he the money: a thousand three hundred and threescore and five shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary. 51 And Moses gave the redemption-money unto Aaron and to his sons, according to the word of the LORD, as the LORD commanded Moses.

Today unless the first born is a Cohain, Levi or child of a Bas Cohain or Levi, we redeem all first born sons.

4:1 And the LORD spoke unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying: 2 'Take the sum of the sons of Kohath from among the sons of Levi, by their families, by their fathers' houses, 3 from thirty years old and upward even until fifty years old, all that enter upon the service, to do work in the tent of meeting. 4 This is the service of the sons of Kohath in the tent of meeting, about the most holy things: 5 when the camp sets forward, Aaron shall go in, and his sons, and they shall take down the veil of the screen, and cover the ark of the testimony with it; 6 and shall put thereon a covering of sealskin, and shall spread over it a cloth all of blue, and shall set the staves thereof. 7 And upon the table of showbread they shall spread a cloth of blue, and put thereon the dishes, and the pans, and the bowls, and the jars wherewith to pour out; and the continual bread shall remain thereon. 8 And they shall spread upon them a cloth of scarlet, and cover the same with a covering of giraffe skin, and shall set the staves thereof. 9 And they shall take a cloth of blue, and cover the candlestick of the light, and its lamps, and its tongs, and its snuff dishes, and all the oil vessels thereof, wherewith they minister unto it. 10 And they shall put it and all the vessels thereof within a covering of giraffe skin, and shall put it upon a bar. 11 And upon the golden altar they shall spread a cloth of blue, and cover it with a covering of sealskin, and shall set the staves thereof. 12 And they shall take all the vessels of ministry, wherewith they minister in the sanctuary, and put them in a cloth of blue, and cover them with a covering of sealskin, and shall put them on a bar. 13 And they shall take away the ashes from the altar, and spread a purple cloth thereon. 14 And they shall put upon it all the vessels thereof, wherewith they minister about it, the fire-pans, the flesh-hooks, and the shovels, and the basins, all the vessels of the altar; and they shall spread upon it a covering of skin, and set the staves thereof. 15 And when Aaron and his sons have made an end of covering the holy furniture, and all the holy vessels, as the camp is to set forward--after that, the sons of Kohath shall come to bear them; but they shall not touch the holy things, lest they die. These things are the burden of the sons of Kohath in the tent of meeting. 16 And the charge of Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest shall be the oil for the light, and the sweet incense, and the continual meal-offering, and the anointing oil: he shall have the charge of all the tabernacle, and of all that therein is, whether it be the sanctuary, or the furniture thereof.'
17 And the LORD spoke unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying: 18 'Cut ye not off the tribe of the families of the Kohathites from among the Levites; 19 but thus do unto them, that they may live, and not die, when they approach unto the most holy things: Aaron and his sons shall go in, and appoint them every one to his service and to his burden; 20 but they shall not go in to see the holy things as they are being covered, lest they die.'

Two years ago I brought down this: I found the following idea in Rabbi Mirsky's sefer on the Jewish holidays:

On Shavuos, we read the book of Rus [Ruth], written by the prophet Shmuel. Rus is one of the 24 books of the Bible. It is a beautiful story. But what is so vital about this narrative that it must be part of Tanach? Furthermore, why do we specifically read it on the holiday of Shavuos?

Rav Shlomo Alkabez, in his commentary to Rus, writes "This Megillah was written to authenticate King David and to publicize the concept that a Moabite woman may marry a Jew. Shmuel wrote this book to preempt any murmuring that might threaten the monarchy of the anointed king (David)."

There was indeed controversy as to whether Boaz was permitted to marry Rus. Rus was from Moab. The simple reading of "Neither an Ammonite nor a Moabite shall enter the Congregation of the L-rd" [De varim 23:4] would seem to preclude her ability to marry Boaz or any other native born Jew for that matter. There e was a dispute that raged for generations whether the prohibition included female Moabites or just the males. Boaz made a bold move to demonstrate the permissibility of such a union, even though the closer relative (a man named Tov) refused to enter into such a marriage out of fear that it was prohibited.

Shmuel, the prophet who anointed David as King, decided to set the record straight and recorded Boaz's public decision to marry this woman -- in Tanach. This explains, perhaps, why Rus is read on Shavuos. The story of Boaz's bold decision to marry Rus dramatizes his faith in the veracity of the Oral Tradition. Boaz had faith in the "Halacha of Moshe tracing back to Sinai" that the interpretation of the above cited pasuk in Devarim is "An Ammonite male is forbidden, but not an Ammonite female; a Moabite male is forbidden, but not a Moabite female. "

When a Jew sits down on Shavuos, the holiday marking receipt of the Torah, he is confronted with the question of why Boaz did marry Rus. Why was he so confident that he was allowed to marry her? The answer is that he knew it was permissible because of the Oral Law. Shavuos is not merely the holiday celebrating receipt of the Written Torah. As indicated by the story of Rus, Shavuos is also the holiday when we celebrate the receipt of and the veracity of the Oral Torah.

The issue of the20veracity of the Oral Torah was an issue in Talmudic times and it is an issue in modern times as well. When we tell people "the Torah says such and such," they question us because they cannot find it in the Written Torah. So much of the divisions that we have with our non-observant brethren boil down to this point: Is there an Oral Law or not?

On Shavuos, we come to this clear understanding that Torah means the Written Torah PLUS the Oral Torah. There is no better narrative than the Megillah of Rus to drive home this lesson.

The Vilna Gaon reads this whole idea into a few pasukim in Tehillim [119:161-162]: King David writes: "Princes have pursued me without cause, but my heart has feared Your word (m'devarcha pachad leebi). I rejoice over Your Word, (sos anochi al imrasecha) like one who finds abundant spoils." The meaning of M'devarcha pachad leebi is I was afraid of the words of Your Torah, which seems to imply that even a Moabite woman may not marry into the Jewish people. But sos anochi al imrasecha -- I rejoiced over your Oral Teaching, which taught to the contrary, that the prohibition was limited only to the Moabite males.

1. The sages expounded in the language of the Mishnah (blessed is He who chose them and their learning):
Rabbi Meir would say: Whoever studies Torah for Torah's sake alone, merits many things; not only that, but [the creation of] the entire world is worthwhile for him alone. He is called friend, beloved, lover of G-d, lover of humanity, rejoicer of G-d, rejoicer of humanity. The Torah enclothes him with humility and awe; makes him fit to be righteous, pious, correct and faithful; distances him from sin and brings him close to merit. From him, people enjoy counsel and wisdom, understanding and power, as is stated (Proverbs 8:14): "Mine are counsel and wisdom, I am understanding, mine is power." The Torah grants him sovereignty, dominion, and jurisprudence. The Torah's secrets are revealed to him, and he becomes as an ever-increasing wellspring and as an unceasing river. He becomes modest, patient and forgiving of insults. The Torah uplifts him and makes him greater than all creations.
2. Said Rabbi Joshua the son of Levi: Every day, an echo resounds from Mount Horeb (Sinai) proclaiming and saying: "Woe is to the creatures who insult the Torah." For one who does not occupy himself in Torah is considered an outcast, as is stated (Proverbs 11:22), "A golden nose-ring in the snout of a swine, a beautiful woman bereft of reason." And it says (Exodus 32:16): "And the tablets are the work of G-d, and the writing is G-d's writing, engraved on the tablets"; read not "engraved" (charut) but "liberty" (chairut)---for there is no free individual, except for he who occupies himself with the study of Torah. And whoever occupies himself with the study of Torah is elevated, as is stated (Number 21:19), "And from the gift to Nahaliel, and from Nahaliel to The Heights."
3. One who learns from his fellow a single chapter, or a single law, or a single verse, or a single word, or even a single letter, he must treat him with respect. For so we find with David, king of Israel, who did not learn anything from Achitofel except for two things alone, yet he called him his "master," his "guide" and his "intimate," as is stated (Psalms 55:14), "And you are a man of my worth, my guide and intimate friend." Surely we can infer a fortiori: if David, king of Israel, who learned nothing from Achitofel except for two things alone, nevertheless referred to him as his master, guide and intimate, it certainly goes without saying that one who learns from his fellow a single chapter, a law, a verse, a saying, or even a single letter, is obligated to revere him. And there is no reverence but Torah, as is stated (Proverbs 3:35; 28:10), "The sages shall inherit honor" "and the integral shall inherit good"; and there is no good but Torah, as is stated (ibid. 4:2), "I have given you a good purchase; My Torah, do not forsake it."
4. Such is the way of Torah: Bread with salt you shall eat, water in small measure you shall drink, and upon the ground you shall sleep; live a life of deprivation and toil in Torah. If so you do, "fortunate are you, and good is to you" (Psalms 128:2): fortunate are you in this world, and it is good to you in the World To Come.
5. Do not seek greatness for yourself, and do not lust for honor. More than you study - do. Desire not the table of kings, for your table is greater than theirs, and your crown is greater than theirs, and faithful is your Employer to pay you the rewards of your work.
6. Torah is greater than the priesthood or sovereignty, for sovereignty is acquired with thirty virtues, the priesthood with twenty-four, and Torah is acquired with forty-eight qualities. These are: study, listening, verbalizing, comprehension of the heart, awe, fear, humility, joy, purity, serving the sages, companionship with one's contemporaries, debating with one's students, tranquility, study of the scriptures, study of the Mishnah, minimizing engagement in business, minimizing socialization, minimizing pleasure, minimizing sleep, minimizing talk, minimizing gaiety, slowness to anger, good heartedness, faith in the sages, acceptance of suffering, knowing one's place, satisfaction with one's lot, qualifying one's words, not taking credit for oneself, likableness, love of G-d, love of humanity, love of charity, love of justice, love of rebuke, fleeing from honor, lack of arrogance in learning, reluctance to hand down rulings, participating in the burden of one's fellow, judging him to the side of merit, correcting him, bringing him to a peaceful resolution [of his disputes], deliberation in study, asking and answering, listening and illuminating, learning in order to teach, learning in order to observe, wising one's teacher, exactness in conveying a teaching, and saying something in the name of its speaker. Thus we have learned: One who says something in the name of its speaker brings redemption to the world, as is stated (Esther 2:22), "And Esther told the king in the name of Mordechai."
7. Great is Torah, for it gives life to its observers in this world, and in the World To Come. As is stated (Proverbs 4:22): "For they are life to he who finds them, and a healing to all his flesh." And it says (ibid. 3:8): "It shall be health to your navel, and marrow to your bones." And it says (3:18): "She is a tree of life for those who hold fast to her, and happy are those who support her." And it says (1:9): "For they shall be a garland of grace for your head, and necklaces about your neck." And it says(4:9): "She shall give to your head a garland of grace, a crown of glory she shall grant you." And it says (9:11): "With me, your days shall be increased, and years of life shall be added to you." And it says (3:16): "Long days in her right hand; in her left, wealth and honor." And it says (3:2): "For long days, years of life and peace, they shall add to you."
8. Rabbi Shimon the son of Judah would say in the name of Rabbi Shimon the son of Yochai: Beauty, strength, wealth, honor, wisdom, sageness, old age and children are becoming to the righteous and becoming to the world. As is stated (Proverbs 16:31): "Old age is a crown of beauty, to be found in the ways of righteousness." And it says (ibid. 20:29): "The beauty of youths is their strength, and the glory of sages is their age." And it says (ibid., 17:6): "The crown of sages are their grandchildren, and the beauty of children their fathers." And it says (Isaiah 24:23): "And the moon shall be abashed and the sun shamed, for the L-rd of hosts has reigned in Zion, and before his elders is glory."
Rabbi Shimon the son of Menasia would say: these seven qualities enumerated by the sages for the righteous were all realized in Rabbi [Judah HaNassi] and his sons.
9. Said Rabbi Yossei the son of Kisma: Once, I was traveling and I encountered a man. He greeted me and I returned his greetings. Said he to me: "Rabbi, where are you from?" Said I to him: "From a great city of sages and scholars, am I." Said he to me: "Rabbi, would you like to dwell with us in our place? I will give you a million dinars of gold, precious stones and pearls." Said I to him: "If you were to give me all the silver, gold, precious stones and pearls in the world, I would not dwell anywhere but in a place of Torah. Indeed, so is written in the book of psalms by David the king of Israel: `I prefer the Torah of Your mouth over thousands in gold and silver' (Psalms 118:72). Furthermore, when a person passes from this world neither silver, nor gold, nor precious stones, nor pearls accompany him, only Torah and good deeds, as is stated (Proverbs 6:22): `When you go it will direct you, when you lie down it will watch over you, and when you awaken it shall be your speech.' `When you go it will direct you'---in this world; `when you lie down it will watch over you'---in the grave; `and when you awaken it shall be our speech'---in the World To Come. Also it says (Chaggai 2:8): `Mine is the silver and Mine is the gold, so says the L-rd of Hosts.' "
10. G-d acquired five acquisitions in his world. These are: one acquisition is the Torah, one acquisition are the heavens and the earth, one acquisition is Abraham, one acquisition is the people of Israel, and one acquisition is the Holy Temple. The Torah, as it is written (Proverbs 8:22), "G-d acquired me as the beginning of His way, before His works of yore." The heavens and the earth, as it is written (Isaiah 66:1), "So says G-d: The heavens are My throne and the earth is My footstool; what house, then, can you build for Me, and where is My place of rest?"; and it says (Psalms 104:25), "How many are your works, O G-d, You have made them all with wisdom; the earth is filled with Your acquisitions." Abraham, as it is written (Genesis 14:19), "And he blessed him, and said: Blessed be Abram to G-d Most High, acquirer of heavens and earth." Israel, as it is written (Exodus 15:16), "Till Your nation, O G-d, shall pass, till this nation You have acquired shall pass"; and it says (Psalms 16:3), "To the holy who are upon earth, the noble ones, in whom is all My delight." The Holy Temple, as it is written (Exodus 15:17), "The base for Your dwelling that you, G-d, have achieved; the Sanctuary, O L-rd, that Your hands have established"; and it says (Psalms 78:54), "And He brought them to His holy domain, this mount His right hand has acquired."
11. Everything that G-d created in His world, He did not create but for His glory. As is stated (Isaiah 43:7): "All that is called by My name and for My glory, I created it, formed it, also I made it." And it says (Exodus 15:1): "G-d shall reign forever and ever."

Rosh Chodesh Sivan & Chag Shavous

Thursday night and Friday this year is Rosh Chodesh Sivan the Molad which is the average time from Rosh Chodesh to Rosh Chodesh falls out a bit later than the astronomical solar eclipse. However, Am Yisrael uses the average calculation which can have in some circumstances the eclipse falling a few hours before or after the astronomical event. Interestingly is the fact that the lunar calendar of Yisrael is more accurate in the long term than the solar calendar the nations use. Along the path of the eclipse both before and after there usually is more earthquake activity. It would not surprise me to hear of a large earthquake in the area of Indonesia towards New Zeeland. Depending how far the earth the moon is and the eclipse duration has a greater effect on the tides at this time.

Chag Shavous (literally feast of weeks) which is also called Chag Atzeres HaPessach (end of Pessach), Chag HaBikurim (bringing of the first fruits) and Chag Matan Torah (giving of the Torah). We normally can accept a Shabbos or Yom Tov a bit early but since the Torah states 7 full weeks and on the 50th day we must until night fall to begin. It is customary to eat cheeses at this time as we were at the giving of the Torah uncertain of how Kosher Slaughter would be. One with lactose digestion problems which effects a large minority of Jews should see if he/she can drink special milk, goat’s milk, yoghurt, goat or sheep cheese and yellow cheeses to fulfill this requirement. Otherwise due to his/her medical condition the person is exempt. 

It is customary to read a special introduction to the Torah written in Aramaic. It is a nice poem which unfortunately most of the congregation does not understand and it is a pity but once a thing becomes a tradition we continue it. (When I have a translation, I try to follow the English so do not be embarrassed.) We also read before the Torah Megilla Ruth.

The Book of Ruth ends by mentioning David HaMelech. The Yahrzeit of David HaMelech is the first day of Shavous. It is stated that the Angel of Death could not take his soul because he was learning Torah and saying Psalms. What did the Angel of Death do? He made a terrific wind shaking the trees in the garden and when David went down the ladder or steps to the garden the rungs or stairs gave way and he lost his concentration on Psalms and passed away.

What are the Customs of Shavuot?

Shavuot has a number of customs which are deeply ingrained in the celebration of the holiday. Among these are the following:

Staying up all night to learn Torah on the first night of Shavuot
Spreading greens and flowers in the synagogue on Shavuot
Eating Dairy Meals on Shavuot
Staying Up (Without No Doze)

There is a custom among the People of Israel to stay up all night to study the Torah on the first night of Shavuot. One of the reasons given for this custom is that it is to "make up" for the behavior of a large number of Jews who were present at Sinai, at the "main event," so to speak, yet they went to sleep that night. And Hashem had to wake them up with peals of thunder and Shofar blowing, to receive the Torah.

It is said in defense of those Jews that they slept "l'shem shamayim," with good intentions, for they felt that they would be better able to absorb and withstand the experience of Hashem's Revelation, which they knew was coming in the morning.

Those who stay up all night should wash their hands in the morning as usual, but without making the "brachah," or blessing, of "Netilat Yadayim," which is made each morning when one has had a regular night's sleep. Neither should they say the regular "Birchot HaShachar," the Blessings of the Morning, which contain blessings which correspond to the various aspects of "waking up:" opening the eyes, standing up, getting dressed, etc. On Shavuot morning, they should hear these "brachot" from someone who had slept during the night, but who came to "daven," to pray, typically at an early hour, with those who had stayed up to "learn."

Spreading Greens and Flowers

There exists a beautiful custom of decorating the synagogue on Shavuot with flowers and greens, because of the vegetation on Mt. Sinai. Some have the custom of adorning the Sefer Torah with roses. That, in particular, seems to have been an ancient custom, because Haman criticized the Jewish People to Achashverosh because of their observance of that custom.

The custom once existed to bring trees into the synagogue, but the Vilna Gaon basically banned that custom on the basis of it being "chukot ha'goyim," "adopting the customs of the gentiles," who have adopted the custom of celebrating their holiday by the use of trees.

Eating Dairy Meals

There is a tasty custom of eating dairy foods on the first day of Shavuot. Some simply eat a dairy meal. Many observe this custom by beginning with dairy foods, and following it by meat, to fulfill the commandment of "And you shall rejoice," and for most people, "there is no 'rejoicing' without meat."

In this case, one has to be very careful to rinse the mouth carefully, and to wait an hour between eating the dairy and eating the meat! In the other direction, of course; that is, meat first, then dairy, rinsing the mouth and waiting one hour is not sufficient (unless one is Dutch)! Then, one must wait several hours between meat and dairy. The number of hours is determined, again, by custom. The time interval varies from six hours to three hours (German Jewish custom) to one hour (Dutch Jews).

When having dairy followed by meat in relatively close succession, one must also say Birchat HaMazon (the blessing after a meal), spread a different table cover and reset the table for meat. A hint that this is the procedure to be followed is the Shavuot-related verse, "Bring the first fruits of your Land to the House of the L-rd - Do not cook a lamb in its mother's milk" (the three-fold repetition of the latter part of the verse being the source for the prohibition of the meat and dairy combination).

There are a number of reasons offered for this custom, but, whatever the reason, it is an established custom, and as long as it is not illegal, immoral or (very) fattening, we continue to abide by it. Some of the reasons given are as follows:

The day that Moshe Rabbeinu was pulled from the water by the daughter of Pharaoh, was the Sixth of Sivan, the day on which we celebrate Shavuot. And Baby Moshe refused to nurse from a non-Jewish woman, so that Miriam, Moshe's sister, was able to get Moshe's real mother, Yocheved, to be his nurse.

Until the giving of the Torah, meat was permitted to be eaten without ritual slaughter. Once the Torah was given, all methods of killing the animal for the purpose of eating other than "shechitah," ritual slaughter, were prohibited. Since shechitah could not be done on Shabbat, and everyone agrees that the Torah was given on Shabbat, the Jews had to eat dairy.

The "gematria," sum of the numerical equivalents of the Hebrew letters making up the word, of "chalav," milk, is forty (letter "chet" (8) plus letter "lamed" (30) plus letter "beit" (2) equals forty) which corresponds to the number of days that Moshe studied the Torah with Hashem on the top of Mt. Sinai.

Mount Sinai has eight names, one of which is "gavnunim," because its appearance resembles that of cheese, "gevina," in Hebrew.

Until the giving of the Torah, the Jewish People were afraid that the milk of animals was prohibited under the category of a "limb from a living animal." This is one of the Seven Laws of Noach, which Noach transmitted to his sons, obligatory upon all of humanity, and which is the source of the prohibition of causing excessive pain to living creatures. Once the Torah was given, and "Chalav," milk, was included among the seven types of produce with which the Land of Israel is blessed, the Jewish People realized that milk was indeed permitted.

The Laws and the Service of Shavuot

Rabbi Shimon said, 'Pesach and Sukkot, which do not fall during times that work is done in the fields, this one (Pesach) is seven days, and the other (Sukkot), eight. Atzeret (Shavuot), which falls at a time when work is done in the fields, is only one day - to teach that the Torah has mercy on the Jewish People.' " (Sifri, Parshat Re'eh)

What are the Laws and Service of Shavuot?

As with all of the Jewish Holidays, the Laws and Service of the Day are intertwined. For our holidays are days of special service to the "Ribbono shel Olam," the Master of the Universe, Whose Written Torah decreed, and Whose Oral Torah defined and expanded upon, the
Laws associated with those days.

Z'man Matan Torateinu
The Time of the Giving of Our Torah

All the prayers and the Kiddush of this holiday are similar to the prayers and the Kiddush of the others of the Three Regalim (the others: Pesach and Sukkot), with the exception that Shavuot too has its own unique description: "et yom chag HaShavuot hazeh, zeman matan torateinu," "this Day of Shavuot, the time of the Giving of the Torah."

In the Mussaf Prayer, the Additional Prayers include mention of the unique sacrifice associated with Shavuot, including the "Two Breads," the Grain Offering brought on the "fiftieth day," so to speak, after the bringing of the Omer on the second day of Pesach. This Offering was brought from "new wheat."

Mussaf Prayer
Additional Prayer

The description of the Additional Offering of Shavuot is introduced by the following paragraph: (transliteration and translation of the paragraph taken, with permission, from the Seif Edition of the SABBATH AND FESTIVAL SIDDUR, published by ArtScroll as an Orthodox Union Centennial Publication, with Introductory Essays and Comments by Rabbi Benjamin Yudin)

And on the day of the first fruits,

B'hak-riv'chem mincho chadosho Ladonoy,
When you bring a new meal offering to Hashem,

On your Festival of Weeks;

Mikro kodesh yih-ye lochem,
There shall be a holy convocation for you,

Kol m'leches avodo lo sa-asu.
You may not do any laborious work.

Other Prayer-ful Features of Shavuot

Hallel is completed, as it is on the other "Regalim."

When the Kiddush is recited, the "bracha," or blessing, of "She-he-cheyanu," "the One Who kept us alive," is included. When the woman-of-the-house, in general, makes the blessings on the candles, she includes that bracha as well, before the candles are lit.

Even though on every other "Erev Yom Tov," Holiday Eve, the Evening Services are begun somewhat earlier, in order to be "mosif min ha-chol al ha-kodesh," "to add from the mundane time to the holy time," on Shavuot we specifically do not do that!

Why not?

Because the Torah says that "sheva shabbatot t'mimot," "seven complete weeks" should transpire before Shavuot, and if we start early, that "t'mimiyut," or "completeness" will be lacking!

Kiddush should also not be recited before it is definitely night-time (three medium-size stars should be visible in the sky).

No "Chol HaMoed"
No Intermediate Days

One way in which Shavuot differs from the other Regalim is in its length. Pesach, in the Torah (and as celebrated in Israel) is defined as a seven-day celebration. Sukkot (including Shmini Atzeret), in the Torah (and as celebrated in Israel) is defined as an eight-day holiday. Shavuot is only celebrated, again, as defined in the Torah and as celebrated in Israel, as a one-day holiday.

Why is this so?

A possibility for the "why" behind this fact is, as mentioned in the header citation of this page, that the Torah does not want to keep the Jewish farmer, who has so much to do during this season, the season of the cutting of wheat and barley, away from his farm for longer than necessary. On the other hand, It is considered "necessary" for the farmer, as well as all Jews, to put in at least a brief appearance at the Temple, to "be seen" by G-d, in Jerusalem.

What has been surgically removed by Hashem, for the benefit of the Jew, is the period of "Chol HaMoed," the Days of "Chol," relative mundane-ness (eh?); that is, like weekdays, within the "Moed," the "bookends" of holy time. This period of Intermediate Days does not carry the same work restrictions as the holiday itself. The Period of Chol HaMoed is a combination of "Kodesh," holy and "Chol," mundane or less holy, which deserves, and which will receive a separate discussion. But this is not the place, especially because Shavuot does not have any Chol HaMoed.

"Yom Tov Sheni shel Galuyot" -
"Second Day of the Holiday" (Celebrated Only in Diaspora)

The meaning of this concept is that in the Diaspora, two days of holiday are celebrated where the Torah speaks of only one. The reason for this is that in the time of the Talmud, when communications were a very, very far cry from what they are now and, even when a procedure was initiated which could achieve fast communications, it was undermined by forces hostile to the Talmud and to the Rabbis.

What had to be communicated?

What needed to be communicated was the time of Rosh Chodesh because the entire Hebrew Calendar is based on lunar calculations. A means was devised to communicate this information swiftly throughout Israel (nearly at the speed of light) and to the edge of the "Golah," the Diaspora, by means of the chain-lighting of torches on mountain-tops between Jerusalem and the outer limits of that area. But the method was sabotaged by the "Tzedukim," the Sadducees, who were not at all interested in helping the "Sanhedrin," the Jewish Supreme Court, where testimony concerning Rosh Chodesh was taken, solve its practical problems.

As a result, the solution settled upon was that messengers went out from the Sanhedrin to the outer limits of Israel and to the Diaspora to communicate when Rosh Chodesh had taken place. But this introduced an element of uncertainty in the Diaspora as to when Rosh Chodesh had taken place, and hence when the holiday should take place.

So the device of instituting a Second Day of Celebration in the Diaspora was introduced, whereby the "Second Day" was accorded the same significance as the First Day by decree of the Rabbis, into whose hands the scheduling of the holidays had, in any case, been placed by G-d, the One Who sanctifies Israel and the Holidays.

Nowadays, when there is no uncertainty as to when astronomical events take place, we still maintain the original custom instituted when there existed that uncertainty. This is called the Principle (the Uncertainty Principle?) of "Minhag Avoteinu B'Yadenu," "We continue to maintain the custom of our ancestors."

Shavuot Torah Readings, Haftarot and Megillat Ruth

On the first day of Shavuot, the reading is from Parshat Yitro, in the Book of Shemot, from "In the third month after the Jewish People left Egypt" till the end of the Parshah. This reading covers the event of "Maamad Har Sinai," the stand of the Jewish People at Mt. Sinai, to receive the Torah.

The Maftir, the Second Torah Reading of the Holiday, comes from one of the sections of the Torah which deals directly with the Holiday of Shavuot, beginning "Uv'yom HaBikkurim," "The Day of the Bringing of the First Fruits."

The Reading from the Prophets on the first day of Shavuot comes from Yechezkel which deals with the mystical subject of the "Divine Chariot," which also deals with a Revelation of G-d in prophecy to an individual but, through his book, to all of Israel.

On the Second day in the Diaspora, the First Torah Reading is from "All the First Born," which deals with the various holidays, the second again from "Uv'yom HaBikkurim," and the Reading from the Prophets from Chavakuk, which deals with a vision of Hashem in His holy Palace.

On the Second Day in the Diaspora, and on the one day of Shavuot in Eretz Yisrael, Megillat Ruth is read after Hallel. Various reasons for reading the Megillah on Shavuot are given. Some are as follows:

The conversion of Ruth to Judaism was by a painful route, as seen in the Story of Ruth, just as the acceptance of the Torah by the Jewish People was via the painful route of years of slavery in Egypt!

The time of the year in which the events of the Megillah took place was in the grain-cutting season, as it says "in the beginning of the cutting of barley," and one of the names of Shavuot is "Chag HaKatzir," the Holiday of Grain Cutting.

The law that allowed Ruth to join the Jewish People was based on the Oral Law. Because according to the Written Law, "No Amonite or Moabite may enter the Jewish People (by marriage)." The Oral Law differentiated between the male Moabite and the female Moabitess, because the exclusion was tied to the cruelty of those nations, and those cruel decisions were made exclusively by the males - to show the importance of the Oral Law in the Jewish System, in the role of providing definition and explication of the Written Law.

The Washerwoman's Tale by Rabbi Yerachmiel Tilles
For years, she lived with the memory of the promise to her from Rabbi Shlomo of Zvil. Connection: Seasonal--68th yahrzeit of R. Shlomo of Zvil

The blessings of Rabbi Shlomo of Zivhil were always fulfilled to the last detail. In Jerusalem, the story is told of the pious and good woman who washed clothes in the Rebbe's home. One day, after she had finished her work, she stood in the doorway of his study and asked him to bless her with children.
R' Shlomo regarded her for a few moments, then shook his head. "I'm sorry; I cannot help you."
Then, after another few moments, he added, "However, I bless you with this: that in your merit others will be remembered and find salvation."
For decades afterwards, the washerwoman lived with the memory of that promise. Then, 19 years after the death of the Rebbe, she herself died and was buried on Har Hamenuchot. On her gravestone were etched the words: "Here lies the woman Miriam, daughter of Maman, a"h ("may she rest in peace"), who passed away on the 24th of Tevet, 5724 (1964).
In the year 5753 (1993), twenty-nine years after the washerwoman's death, a former neighbor of hers saw Miriam in a dream. In the dream, Miriam said, "I was a washerwoman in the house of Rebbe Shlom'ke of Zivhil. I had no children, and asked him for his blessing. The Rebbe told me that he could not help me, but blessed me that in my merit others would be remembered and saved. I ask that they come up to my grave and pray for the elevation of my soul. I promise that barren women will be remembered."
From that day, many women have ascended to visit Miriam the washerwoman's grave on Har Hamenuchot and, in the merit of the sincere prayers they poured out there, many have indeed been remembered and have gone on to bear the children they so dearly craved.
Source: Adapted and supplemented by Yerachmiel Tilles from "Stories My Grandfather Told Me" (Mesorah) by Zev Greenwald
Connection: 68th yahrzeit of Rabbi Shlom'ke of Zivhil/
Biographical note:
Rabbi Shlomo (Shlom'ke) of Zivhil (?-26 Iyar--yesod of yesod--1945) was the first one of the dynasty to be based in Israel. For a long time after he came to Jerusalem, no one knew his true identity as the Rebbe to whom thousands had flocked in his native land, until a chance visitor from his hometown revealed his secret to the stunned worshipers in the shul he was attending. So once again he acquired thousands of followers and admirers. Famed for his remarkable deeds of kindness, he particularly concentrated on rescuing youths from missionaries and inculcating the importance of the laws of family purity to the masses, while still finding time to answer complicated questions in Jewish Law.

The Day the Chofetz Chaim cried as told to me by Dr. Mark Jaffe Shlita in the name of Rabbi Palkowitz

The Chofetz Chaim was a young student at the home of the Brisker Rav, Rabbi Soleveichik aka the Beis Halevi. The Rabbi and been a Ruv in a small town and gave up the Rabbinute and swore off of it. However, a delegation from Brisk came and asked him to be the Rav. He was turning them down but they insisted that 30,000 Jews do not want to take no for an answer. With this he turned to his wife and said that 30,000 Jews all want me unanimously so how can I turn them down? The Chofetz Chaim cried and said that if all the Jews wanted Moshiach now that he would come but we really don’t want the Moshiach so he does not come!

Rabbi Yacov Solomon (Aish HaTorah) speaks out on intermarriage and the increasing percentage in the USA.!
Unrelated but because of the entitlements in the same period the number of unmarried blacks with children increased from 45 to 70% the family unit is being destroyed.

Mention of the Angel Gavriel from the times of Shlomo HaMelech.

Looking up relatives on I came across this: Oskar Goldstein born Nov. 30, 1885 died Aug 25, 1942 Murdered in Holocaust at Maly Trostinec death camp. He was the father of my cousin who fought in the war of Independence through the Yom Kippur War in Israel, Hans. Poor Hans tried to get his father out of the Sudetenland but he thought if he could prove that they were there for centuries the Nazis would leave him alone. Bad Miscalculation! We must never ever let this happen again to our people. Our best defense is Shabbos Observance with the rest of the Torah and Mitzvos.

I did border patrol and so did my son however this is Propaganda that is unenforceable if people would rather go to jail than serve:,7340,L-4376974,00.html

Baumel, Katz and Feldman we may never know the truth:

Inyanay Diyoma

What are we waiting for? A chemical or biological attack?

Israel stops civilian flights in the north:,7340,L-4376364,00.html
Nobody asked for a green light in the case of Syria as it probably was given already:
The average Israeli in the north and other areas of the country does not view Assad as a threat:
About 33 to 35 or 1hr 33 minutes into the broadcast, I expressed my analysis of Islamic Terrorism, Syria, Jordan and the devaluating dollar: Joe Goldner wrote: This evening we have a special guest in Tim Devaney, he is the national reporter for the Washington Times. Plus we have Suzanne Venker- author, speaker, wife and mother, she has been on Fox News and the Blaze so join me this Sunday May 5th from 8pm to 10pm est. The call in number is 347-327-9601. Just added Rabbi Pauli will call in to talk about what is happening in Israel and Syria and the Middle East.

The results of the damage inflicted on Syria and Hezballah are beginning to filter through. Meantime Benyamin Netanyahu flew off to China for improving relations and business:

We are waiting to see if they make a move but they have to watch out for check-mate as we have bunker busters for their kings.

Israel reopens air space it appears that Assad is to us what Obama is to him.,7340,L-4376842,00.html

Anti-mine drill in the Persian Gulf:,7340,L-4376954,00.html

Is this a mistake or good for Israel to depend on the USA,7340,L-4375808,00.html

After a cyber-attack Syrian internet is shut down did we do it or was it Assad?,7340,L-4377616,00.html

Terror that was planned by the internet is busted by the Shin Bet:

Don’t worry we won’t just attack any we will try to attack every arms cache of Hezballah:,7340,L-4377663,00.html

From Miriam the comments of Arlene Kutscher: Subject: From Israel: We Mean It May 5, 2013 "We Mean It" And thank Heaven that we do...

Israel officials -- government and military -- have repeatedly said that we will not permit a situation in Syria in which "game changing" weaponry -- whether WMD or missiles -- is passed to terrorist forces.  And we have shown, again and again that we do mean what we say and are willing to act on it.  In the last few days, we've apparently (shall we say, "allegedly") demonstrated this not once, but twice.

Because -- as would be expected! -- there is no official report from Israeli sources, I cannot provide precise information on what was (allegedly) entailed.  Along with everyone else, I am relying on secondary sources -- US and other foreign media -- which secure their information in a variety of ways; and an unnamed Israeli official speaking off the record, after the news broke in foreign media. Many of these sources are referenced in Israeli media.  Not all agree on particulars. 

However, while it cannot be confirmed, that we have hit in Syria seems fairly certain.  


The first hit came very late Thursday night or early Friday morning.  It was reportedly accomplished from Lebanese airspace, it is believed without entry into Syrian airspace. 

According to Israel National News, pairs of Israeli planes entered Lebanese airspace three times, each time remaining for two to three hours.  

According to Reuters, as reported by YNet, Israel's air force possesses so-called "standoff" missiles that, once fired, are able to coast dozens of kilometers across ground to their targets.,7340,L-4375921,00.html


The most specific information -- which was cited extensively elsewhere -- came from yesterday's NYTimes, which reported that what was hit were Iranian surface-to-surface missiles -- Fateh 110 missiles, which carry a 600 kg. warhead, have considerable accuracy, and can reach most of Israel from southern Lebanon -- that were being stored at the airport in Damascus and were likely due to be transferred to Hezbollah; the warehouse where they were held was believed to be under the control of Hezbollah and Iran's Quds forces. 


Citing foreign sources, who received information from Syrian rebel intelligence, YNet today also reported that a convoy that was in the process of transferring weapons to Hezbollah was hit on the road between Damascus and Beirut -- in three separate strikes by Israeli F-16s, pictured below.  Again, it is thought that these attacks were initiated from Lebanese airspace.  And it may well be that the reference by Israel National News to sets of planes entering Lebanese airspace refers to these attacks, as well as the attack on the airport in Damascus.  We might call these two prongs of one attack.

Credit: AFP/Jack Guez

There was some thought that what was hit in the convoy were anti-aircraft missiles, but the best estimate seems to be that in this attack, as well, it was surface-to-surface missiles that were taken out.


Now very early this morning, there were media reports of major explosions near Damascus, as a military research center in Jamraya was attacked by rockets, with possible hits on two nearby sites as well -- an ammunition depot and Republican Guard battalions.  

At Jamraya, also, it is believed that Iranian missiles were targeted, but it seems less clear at the moment whether Israeli jets may have entered Syrian airspace.

If the name Jamraya rings a bell it's because Israel hit there in January of this year. 

Referred to as a "scientific research center," this is a site of major military significance, where research is done and weapons are stored; its location near the Lebanese border makes transfer of weaponry easier.


Last night a Cabinet meeting was called to discuss the situation, and for the first time there was official comment of sorts:

In a couple of different venues, Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon said, "The State of Israel is protecting its interests and will continue doing so. I am not confirming or denying the reports...We have said on various occasions in the past that we will do everything anywhere in order to protect those interests."  

Another Security Cabinet meeting was held this afternoon.


In the end, the precise process by which we accomplished the attacks, and the precise armaments that have been destroyed, are less important than the fact that we did act, and successfully.

The message being sent to Syria and Hezbollah, and by extension to Iran, is considerable.  In fact, the most important message is to Iran, with regard to our meaning it when we speak about Red Lines. 

At first, I read disclaimers by Syria and Iran saying they had no information on an Israeli attack. That's one way to attempt to handle matters.  No need to respond if nothing happened.

But in more recent hours there have been threats from both quarters:  Syrian Information Minister Omran Zoabi says Israeli air strikes against targets outside of Damascus "opens the door to all possibilities."  And Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al Mekdad told CNN that the attack on a Syrian facility near Damascus is a "declaration of war."  While Lebanese media quoted Seyed Hassan Firouzabadi, the chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces, as saying: "Resistance forces will respond to the Israeli aggression… Iran will not allow to Israel destabilize the region."

The IAF is carefully monitoring our northern skies, which have been closed to civilian air traffic, and we are on alert more broadly.

But as far as Syria is concerned, I do not believe there will be a direct attack.  Assad may be ruthless and amoral, but he's not irrational or stupid.  His resources are sorely depleted, and if he wants his regime to survive, he will not take on a new battle with a stronger enemy.


Nor do I believe that Iran would attempt to hit Israel directly now.  But in this instance, use of its proxy Hezbollah is a possibility (the threat by the Iranian chief of staff did come via Lebanon) -- although I suspect there is only a small possibility with regard to a direct missile attack.  Here, too, we are looking at an entity that is somewhat weakened and depleted.  Hezbollah forces are in Syria fighting, and Shia/Sunni tensions have generated a downward spiral for Hezbollah. 

More on Hezbollah soon.


President Obama, while saying that it is not his position to verify whether it was Israel that hit in Syria, was quick to say that Israel has a right to act to ensure that sophisticated weapons don't reach Hezbollah.

My own guess is that this man who prefers not to act himself, and still hasn't even decided whether to send arms to the Free Syrian Army, is delighted that Israel is acting.


True to form, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who should be shipped out permanently, has taken his standard line:  He is "gravely concerned" about the news of possible Israeli strikes in Syria, and he urges respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.  The head of the international agency that has turned a blind eye to the deaths of 70,000 Syrians has nothing to say with regard to what Israel does.

What both fascinates and bewilders me (it shouldn't, I know) is that criticizing Israel is so politically correct in certain Muslim/Arab circles that it proceeds even when doing so is counterintuitive. Rebel forces have come out with criticism, when they should be delighted at anything that weakens Assad.  But welcome an attack by Israel and appear to be -- shock! -- on the same side?  Never.   

The Arab League has issued a condemnation of Israel's actions -- and specifically, it should be noted, have Egypt and Turkey, both supporters of Syrian rebel forces, done so.


After a delay of some hours generated by the situation with Syria, PM Netanyahu has flown to China, where there will be discussions regarding Iranian issues and economic ones.  A visit with major implications. 

In his stead, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon is acting prime minister.

Now for Mathis Wolfberg’s “Buffalo Soldier”

Good Shabbos Everyone.  The Torah tells us this week, "If you will follow my decrees and observe my commandments and perform them… I will walk among you and I will be a G-d unto you and you will be a people unto Me." (Vayikra 26:3,12) The commentator Sforno explains that Hashem is telling us: Be good, keep my mitzvahs, and I, Hashem will go with you the Jewish Nation wherever you go in golus (exile).  The following amazing true story told by the daughter of the Rabbi involved, illustrates this concept.
         "Almost thirty years ago, my father (Rabbi Schochet) was asked to lecture to a group of Jewish and non-Jewish students in a city that neighbored Buffalo, New York. Although he was reluctant to accept, he was urged to do so by his  Rebbe who directed him to focus his lecture on charity, as charity is a universal responsibility of both Jews and gentiles.
         He began his lecture by telling the following story: During the time of the Tosafos Yom Tov [Rabbi Yom Tov Lipman Heller, Chief Rabbi of Prague and Cracow during the 17th century and author of a commentary on the Mishna], there lived a wealthy individual who ostensibly never contributed to charity.
         After this miser died, the Chevra Kadisha [Jewish burial society] felt that he was unworthy of being interred next to any upright and respectable individual. They buried him in an area of the cemetery called hekdesh, where society's outcasts were buried.
          A few days after the funeral, there was a tumult in Prague. Two prominent members of the community, the butcher and the baker, who had previously been extremely charitable and generous, suddenly stopped distributing their funds. The poor people of the city, who had always relied on the benevolent pair for their sustenance, were in an uproar. Emotions ran so deep that the matter was finally brought before the Tosafos Yom Tov.
         The Tosafos Yom Tov asked the butcher and baker why they had so suddenly stopped their acts of charity. In reply, they informed the Tosafos Yom Tov that they were not personally wealthy. "We were only able to give so much charity because the 'miser' who died just a few days ago constantly supplied us with funds for charity. He strictly warned us, however, not to disclose from whence the money had originated, since he wanted the great merit of performing the mitzva anonymously. Now that he is gone, we no longer receive the funds, and are, unfortunately, unable to continue with this worthy work."
         The Tosafos Yom Tov was so impressed by the modest behavior of this unassuming "miser" that in his own will he requested to be buried next to this humble man.
         When my father completed his lecture, a participant from the audience, a priest, approached him and asked him to repeat the story. My father, about to return to his hotel, arranged a time to meet with the priest the following day. Thinking that the matter would be forgotten, my father was surprised when the priest actually arrived. My father repeated the story for the priest but was astounded when, after concluding the story a second time, the priest seemed terribly disturbed and begged him to repeat it yet a third time. Finally, the priest divulged the reason for his agitation.
         "Rabbi Schochet, that charitable man in the story was my ancestor." Skeptically, my father calmed the young man saying that there was no connection between him and the story, which took place over 100 years ago.
         "Furthermore," he told him, "you are a gentile, while this man was a Jew." The priest looked intently at my father and whispered, "Rabbi, now I have a story to tell you!" He began by describing his background.
         He had grown up in the state of Tennessee. His father was a major in the U.S. Army during the Second World War. In Europe, his father had met a Jewish girl and fell in love with her. He brought her back home as his war bride, and no one knew of her Jewish background.
         A short time after their marriage, the couple was blessed with a child, who they devoutly raised in the Catholic Church. The child grew up and attended a seminary where he eventually trained to become a priest. In his early adulthood, the priest's mother died. On her deathbed, she disclosed her secret to her astonished son. After reciting the Shema prayer, she confessed, "I want you to know that you are Jewish." She informed him of his heritage and told him that his great-grandfather was buried next to the well-known sage called the Tosafos Yom Tov. She then recounted, almost verbatim, the story that my father had told in his lecture.
         At the time, the priest, who was unaware of this information, imagined that his mother was delirious. Although he felt uneasy about his mother's parting words, it was only a temporary, fleeting emotion. As he got on with his life, he soon forgot the entire episode.
         "Rabbi," cried the priest, in a state of utter emotional turmoil, you have just repeated this story, detail for detail! You have just reminded me of my mother's parting words, and I realize now that the story must be true, or it wouldn't be so well known. Yet, what am I to do? I am a reputable priest with a large congregation of devoted followers."
         My father offered to assist him in any way. He emphasized to him, however, that according to Jewish law, he was indeed Jewish. He encouraged him to explore his heritage, and he put him in contact with people in his city who could guide him. With that, the newly-found Jew departed.
         My father then understood why his Rebbe had "prophetically" suggested the topic matter. He had no further interaction with the man, and did not hear from him again. Several years ago, when my father was on a visit to Israel. A Jew with a beard and a kipa approached him at the Western Wall and wished him "Shalom Aleichem [ Peace unto you]!" My father, who didn't recognize the individual, was completely taken aback when the man exclaimed, "Don't you recognize me, Rabbi Schochet? I am the former priest whom you met in Buffalo."
  Good Shabbos Everyone. M. Wolfberg is sponsored by:  L'zecher nishmas Moshe Zev ben Alexander  A'H  (Katz) Pesel bas  Yosef Yehuda A'H   ( Katz) Dedicatied by the Mermelstein, Stern and Krakowski families Dedicatied by the Mermelstein, Stern and Krakowski families In memory of R' Yaakov ben Naftoly, of blessed memory In Memory of Reb Yitzchok ben Reb Shimon (Friedman) of blessed memory Refuah Shleima to Reb Mordechai Mendel ben Tziporah Yitta Refuah Shleima to Leah bas Tziporah

Have a peaceful and pleasant Shabbos, Chag Samayach and be well,
Rachamim Pauli