Pessach Cleaning Starts! (Now, if not beforehand)
One thing I like to impress on my readership is observance of the Mitzvos. But I always remind people to plan ahead for Pessach. The non-Jews have their Easter which takes very little preparation even if they boil and color eggs. However, we have to remove or sell all Chametz in our possession and kosher every oven or stove in use plus kosher or change both eating and cooking utensils. The kitchen cabinet has to be koshered.. Every year I gain and I lose readers. The direct mailing changes and the blogspot itself from almost a double readership during operation protective edge to what I have today. I would prefer that the readers go mainly for the Torah and Stories Part and have for desert news about Israel. Plan each room. In my opinion even a small child can be trained not to bring Chametz into a bed or bathroom and keep the crumbs and Chametz only in the kitchen-dining room although the living room might be too much for a young child or even a person who munches and reads there. I recommend all year long keeping the parent’s room Chametz free as possible for if heaven-forbid an adult is bed ridden it might be necessary to feed a person there. Then the rest of the bed rooms. In fact even small children like to be responsible for keep crumbs and Chametz away from certain areas. They can be given carrots or fruit as substitutes for gains.
Parsha Ki Sisa
We read the first section in Parsha Shekelim two weeks ago. It is appropriate during the week of Purim and often a silver half-dollar or half silver coin of a different currency is put out in the Synagogue. The real half Shekel coin was about the weight of an old US silver nickel and a bit smaller in size if I am unmistaken. We are continuing the building of the Mishkan and now HASHEM names the Construction Engineering/Architecture leaders Betzalel and Achisamach for the design and construction via prophecy of the various items. The holiness of Shabbos is reiterated. But wait Moshe has not returned and according to the recognizing of some people Moshe is already on Har Sinai 40 days and they have no leadership. Aaron tries to stall for time for perhaps it is tomorrow that Moshe would come down from the mountain. Aaron for the sake of the peace and brotherhood of the nation and to prevent anarchy buys time by collecting gold and casting a golden calf. Moshe comes down smashes the Luchos and grinds up the Egel into powder and it is sprinkled on the water supply that everybody drinks.
Having spent the first 13 years of my engineering career at IAI as a Quality Control and Standards Engineer, this Parsha is close to me. For Am Yisrael to become a real nation a coinage system had to be set up and measurement standards. Today opposite the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is the standard for the meter which was established by Napoleon Bonaparte. England, the States and other Nations have their equivalent to the National Standards Institute or the Israeli Standards Institute. In IAI there was among other people involved in the standardization and calibration of precision instruments for aircraft parts and manufacture a fellow named Weiss. He worked half a day and in his time in Kollel the second half of the day published a book on the standard weight for the Biblical Shekel, Ephod Tzeddek, Hin Tzeddek (a just standard for the Ephod and Hin used in the Temple), and the weights and measures for wine, fields, Mikvah, etc. The Parsha before us has these measurements that are of the utmost importance. In Temple Times, the standard was by the gate to the Temple where one could make their weights and measures from the original used in the Temple. It is most important that instruments be calibrated and recalibrated over and over again. True story that happened 10 years ago and not the fault of the store owner but the scale. I found a fault at the local vegetable store in the scales (which are ‘electronic’ but have not been calibrated and were suffering from wear and tear. They were and still being used). I wrote about the need to have them calibrated but my advice as a professional was attacked as Lashon Hara even though I had proof. (You cannot buy 3.179 kilos of potatoes and then afterwards 3.179 kilos of apples – the probability is billions to one of this happening. The next week 2.731 kilos of carrots and 2.731 kilos of squash – there was something wrong with the operation of the scale.) Now the poor man who originally bought this scale and sold it to the next green grocery or local supermarket had no idea of the defect but an expert could tell it. [Fortunately, the next person modernized the store and brought in modern scales]. Moving the border of one’s property is an offense if by accident that is one thing and if by design that is another thing we see this Mitzvah in Devarim. This is the one time in the Torah that the Chassidic custom of “sort of” (like the Chupa will be at 7:00 PM and if you come at 8:00 PM you either come early or right on time) not so the Torah is exact and precise as can be about weights and measures to the width of a hair or the weight thereof.
However, there are cheats out there sometimes a large company does it in desperate financial times: http://www.walletpop.com/blog/2009/03/10/burlington-coat-factory-pulling-the-wool-over-our-eyes/
Both Kabbala and Midrash note that when Am Yisrael is mentioned as numerous the evil (eye/Gezaira or punishment never occurs) as soon as the people have a definite number something happens where people die and the number is reduced. Even when the Torah asks for numbers then something happens. Nothing positive has ever occurred to a census for Am Yisrael. It is easy enough to take a computerized census of Israelis by ID card numbers. However, the government always tries to be cleverer than the Torah and even King David failed when he took a census.
13 This they shall give, every one that passes among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary--the shekel is twenty gerahs--half a shekel for an offering to the LORD.
Even when commanded by HASHEM to take money and the money would be counted there was going to occur evil to lower the numbers of Bnei Yisrael so that at the beginning of Sefer Bamidbar and at the End, give and take 600,000 males of 20 and above were counted.
14 Every one that passes among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and upward, shall give the offering of the LORD. 15 The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less, than the half shekel, when they give the offering of the LORD, to make atonement for your souls.
WHAT SHOULDN’T THE RICH PAY FOR THE POOR? No for in the good L-RD’s eyes they are the same as other guys. This is equality. The Torah had the most advanced social system of their times. True equality was there in such that the rich could not buy their way out of the army and only the poor serve as in many countries even modern Israel with doctors adding on certain things to the health profile of the rich while the average and poor Jew has to serve nowadays. When HASHEM Yisborach says equality then all taxes are proportional. If the poor man pays 15% of his earnings so does the rich man. But what do modern governments? They make loopholes in the tax laws for the extremely rich and the extremely poor don’t pay while the middle-class depending upon the earnings pays the burden. This reminds me of the time I worked 14 hours overtime and ended up with an extra 1014 Shekels in my net pay. Since overtime pay was exponential, I worked the next month over 28 hours overtime and ended up with 1002 Shekels more in my net pay because I had reached a higher tax bracket. The Torah wanted to reward a person for harder work and more hours vs. the one who worked less hours. The same moral values applied to the Justice System when a Judge is Sefer Devarim is warned not to favor the rich over the poor or to have compassion for the poor and change the way of Justice. Nor was creed, tribe, color supposed to effect Torah Judgement. There was no such thing as a woman claiming rape years after she went through with her boss when he invited her to a hotel room away from his wife and her husband. Then when he refuses to promote her after years then she complains now if that isn’t a modern type of the wife of Potiphar I don’t know what! Stories like that went away with the tooth fairy and a bunny that lays eggs.
Rebbitzen K. Sirote wrote this on Beresheis 1:26 but it has to do with equality. I also read an article written by Rav Shlomo Carlebach about the importance of women in Purim. Of course Eve was created in the image of G-d. It says: "G-d created Man in His image, in the image of G-d He created him; male and female He created them". Whatever "image of G-d" means, both males and females have it, equally. As for the relationship between masculine and feminine in the attributes of G-d, that is one of the main subjects of Kabbala.
16 And thou shall take the atonement money from the children of Israel, and shall appoint it for the service of the tent of meeting, that it may be a memorial for the children of Israel before the LORD, to make atonement for your souls.'
The whole basis of giving charity is written here. Pre-Temple times it was at the entrance to the Mishkan. Now the New Testament makes it appear that money changers in the Temple were ripping off the people. Actually the money changers there were from various local and foreign currencies into the Shekel HaKodesh to buy things for the Korbanos. The practice was no different than today except it was a much closer exchange rate (fairer) than our banks give today. If currency fell on the floor by the banker’s side it was his aka the Temple Treasury and if by the man bringing the coins it was assumed that he dropped it. There were Leviim or equivalent to policemen guarding the transactions. I can give you an example that occurred to me in Switzerland the day I made Aliyah. I tried to call the house of my cousin Ilse and due to the fact that I had no Swiss coins, I had to purchase them. I cashed in so and so many dollars. Finding that they were not at home, I went back to bank with the Swiss currency and found that I was a dollar or two short of what I started out with. I was not happy but that is the service the money changing at airport but the exchange in the banks provides and pays for the clerk’s salary and other functions of the branch and the main bank. I could understand where people would make noise over this. However, just try flying the States to England and order some Sterling Notes and see how much you pay and if you have left over Sterling see what exchange rate you get back to purchase dollars. There might have been problems with corruption in high circles back in Temple times but the money changers were not that.
Returning to the main point (that it may be a memorial for the children of Israel before the LORD, to make atonement for your souls.), the charity was designed as a form of financial sacrifice. G-D put in place the atonement vehicle for the future when there would be no Temple with fine flour or animal sacrifices. The past generations had been used to atonement with fruits (Cain), animals (Hevel aka Abel), later added fine wine, oil and flour. Now with the Torah Revolution, a new concept of monetary sacrifice can into being. This radical idea of charity to maintain the Temple and with the Maaser Ani (tithes for the needy) was unheard of in the civilized world. If people starved to death so be it. Suddenly the people were brothers and it was forbidden to let your brother or neighbor fall.
17 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 18 'Thou shall also make a laver of brass, and the base thereof of brass, whereat to wash; and thou shall put it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein. 19 And Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat; 20 when they go into the tent of meeting, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to cause an offering made by fire to smoke unto the LORD; 21 so they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not; and it shall be a statute forever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations.'
I believe that I covered this last year and it is part of spiritual, ritual and physical cleanliness before HASHEM.
22 Moreover the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 23 'Take thou also unto thee the chief spices, of flowing myrrh five hundred shekels,
Myrrh is a reddish-brown resinous material, the dried sap of a number of trees, but primarily from Commiphora myrrha, native to Yemen, Somalia, the eastern parts of Ethiopia and Commiphora gileadensis, native to Jordan. The sap of a number of other Commiphora and Balsamodendron species is also known as myrrh, including that from Commiphora erythraea (sometimes called East Indian myrrh), Commiphora opobalsamum and Balsamodendron kua. Its name entered English via the Ancient Greek, μύρρα, which is probably of Semitic origin. Myrrh is also applied to the potherb Myrrhis odorata otherwise known as "Cicely" or "Sweet Cicely".
High quality myrrh can be identified through the darkness and clarity of the resin. However, the best method of judging the resin's quality is by feeling the stickiness of freshly broken fragments directly to determine the fragrant-oil content of the myrrh resin. The scent of raw myrrh resin and its essential oil is sharp, pleasant, somewhat bitter and can be roughly described as being "stereotypically resinous". When burned, it produces a smoke that is heavy, bitter and somewhat phenolic in scent, which may be tinged with a slight vanillic sweetness. Unlike most other resins, myrrh expands and "blooms" when burned instead of melting or liquefying.
and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty,
Calamus is a genus of the palm family Arecaceae. These are among several genera known as rattan palms. There are some 325 species in this genus, all with a palaeotropical distribution. They are mostly leaf-climbers with slender, reedy stems. To aid scrambling some species have evolved hooks on the underside of the midrib, or more commonly by modified pinnae in the form of stout, backward-pointing spines. These stems may grow to lengths of 200 metres. Calamus australis is known as the hairy Mary.
24 and of cassia five hundred, after the shekel of the sanctuary, and of olive oil a hin.
Cassia is a genus of Fabaceae in the subfamily Caesalpinioideae. Commonly called cassias, "cassia" is also the English name of Cinnamomum aromaticum in the Lauraceae (from which the spice cassiabark is derived), and some other species of Cinnamomum. In addition, the genus Cassia was for long ill-delimited with regards to the related Cassiinae - especially Senna -, many species of which were once placed herein. As a rule-of-thumb, Cassia sensu stricto contains the largest Cassiinae, usually mid-sized trees.
25 And thou shalt make it a holy anointing oil, a perfume compounded after the art of the perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil. 26 And thou shalt anoint therewith the tent of meeting, and the ark of the testimony, 27 and the table and all the vessels thereof, and the candlestick and the vessels thereof, and the altar of incense, 28 and the altar of burnt-offering with all the vessels thereof, and the laver and the base thereof. 29 And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy; whatsoever touches them shall be holy. 30 And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and sanctify them, that they may minister unto Me in the priest's office. 31 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying: This shall be a holy anointing oil unto Me throughout your generations. 32 Upon the flesh of man shall it not be poured, neither shall ye make any like it, according to the composition thereof; it is holy, and it shall be holy unto you. 33 Whosoever compounds any like it, or whosoever puts any of it upon a stranger, he shall be cut off from his people.' …
Now below is what I mentioned when we started the subject of the Mishkan about Moshe not having the foggiest idea of how to design and work on the Mishkan. So HASHEM spells it out for him giving the command whom to choose.
Besides being skilled, because Hur died on a Kiddush HASHEM at the golden calf incident, he was blessed that his seed would build the holy Aron HaKodesh of the Mishkan and used in the Mikdash. He is a type A person who has merits of his forefathers as well as skills of his own.
3 and I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, 4 to devise skillful works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, 5 and in cutting of stones for setting, and in carving of wood, to work in all manner of workmanship. 6 And I, behold, I have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Achisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and in the hearts of all that are wise-hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee:
He is a type B person who has no proof of merits of his forefathers written in the Pasukim but has achieved on his own merit the place where he is and his reputation.
7 the tent of meeting, and the ark of the testimony, and the ark-cover that is thereupon, and all the furniture of the Tent; 8 and the table and its vessels, and the pure candlestick with all its vessels, and the altar of incense; 9 and the altar of burnt-offering with all its vessels, and the laver and its base; 10 and the plaited garments, and the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, to minister in the priest's office; 11 and the anointing oil, and the incense of sweet spices for the holy place; according to all that I have commanded thee shall they do.'
12 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 13 'Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying: Verily ye shall keep My Sabbaths, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that ye may know that I am the LORD who sanctify you. 14 Ye shall keep the Sabbath therefore, for it is holy unto you; every one that profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. 15 Six days shall work be done; but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD; whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. 16 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. 17 It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He ceased from work and rested.'
This is a sign between the L-RD and the Bnei Yisrael but not for other nations. We might not have understood what a real Shabbos but it was given to us to observe and not any other nation. We need the Oral Torah to find out what constitutes Melacha or work. http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/102032/jewish/The-39-Melachot.htm Because it is between the Bnei Yisrael only and G-D, a potential convert is requested to light a match or write 2 letters together or make 2 stitches after dark on Friday prior to darkness of Motzei Shabbos. We only ask the person to two one form of Melacha.
The Shabbos is the height of holiness. With this Kedusha one can advance spiritually. Over the years I have encountered men and women who want to learn not ordinary things like the Tanach, Halacha, Mussar, Talmud, Shulchan Aruch and other Seforim on Judaic Thought but they want to learn no more and no less than Kabbala. Now there is nothing wrong with learning about Seraphim, Orphanim and Chayos HaKadosh types of Angels their missions, dynamics, interactions etc. But when one comes to me and has not learned the foundation of Torah or observes Shabbos, Family Purity, Kashrus and an easy Mitzvah like a difficult Mitzvah; it is hard to explain to him or her that the spiritual world does not work that way. Nobody would expect a child to go into advanced nuclear physics or brain surgery without training so why should advance Kabbala be different. How can a non-Jew like Madonna or Demi Moore who have in the past and present dressed immodestly expect to obtain the highest degree of holiness that I fear I am not on the level to learn!!! It is easy to pull the wool over their eyes and make them believe that with their money they can buy Kabbalistic Knowledge. Olam HaBa is not bought with money and neither is Kabbala. It is bought for with the observance of Shabbos, Kashrus, and Family Purity and not on a minimum level but with all one’s heart, soul and income.
By the way, I don’t outright study Kabbala and most of the stories are really hidden from the person who understands Hebrew and Aramaic - like recent e-mail question I got about two headed angels or half man – half animal guarding hell are hidden Gematria Codes and not to be taken literally and certainly not without good knowledge of Hebrew Grammar and numerical codes. The person who thinks that they are learning Kabbala are learning utter nonsense. As for the person who thinks they learn Kabbala and avoid observing Shabbos. Tehillim 92: 6 How great are Thy works, O LORD! Thy thoughts are very deep. 7 A brutish man knows not, neither doth a fool understand this. It is obvious in the Pshat from the Song of the Shabbos that depth cannot be understood without Shabbos observance and it is folly to think otherwise. Yet the people of the Kabbala Centre brazenly challenge Rabbis and ordinary Jews that they know better. Ugh! In the course of time or regular studies and commentary one learns things. Every year I recommend reading during Siferos HaOmer the various combinations of Chessed, Gevurah, etc. written by Rabbi Simon Jacobson Shlita. For those who could the Omer year after year they begin to think of Chessed with Chessed, Gevurah, Tiferes, etc. They are not Kabbalists but they raise their spiritual level higher than the person who goes to the Centre and listens to them.
18 And He gave unto Moses, when He had made an end of speaking with him upon mount Sinai, the two tables of the testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.
The following is a brief summary of the rest of the Parsha with the golden calf and Moshe breaking the Luchos and returning to calve more and the shinning of Moshe’s face.
31:1 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him: 'Up, make us a god who shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we know not what is become of him.' 2 And Aaron said unto them: 'Break off the golden rings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me.' 3 And all the people broke off the golden rings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. …
15 And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, with the two tables of the testimony in his hand; tables that were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written. 16 And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables. 17 And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses: 'There is a noise of war in the camp.' 18 And he said: 'It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome, but the noise of them that sing do I hear.' 19 And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing; and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and broke them beneath the mount. … 26 then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said: 'Whoso is on the LORD'S side, let him come unto me.' And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. 27 And he said unto them: 'Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel: Put ye every man his sword upon his thigh, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.' 28 And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses; and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.
33:1 And the LORD spoke unto Moses: 'Depart, go up hence, thou and the people that thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land of which I swore unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying: Unto thy seed will I give it-- 2 and I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite-- 3 unto a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people; lest I consume thee in the way.' 4 And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned; and no man did put on him his ornaments. 5 And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Say unto the children of Israel: Ye are a stiffnecked people; if I go up into the midst of thee for one moment, I shall consume thee; therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee.' 6 And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments from mount Horeb onward. 7 Now Moses used to take the tent and to pitch it without the camp, afar off from the camp; and he called it the tent of meeting. And it came to pass, that every one that sought the LORD went out unto the tent of meeting, which was without the camp. 8 And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the Tent, that all the people rose up, and stood, every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the Tent. 9 And it came to pass, when Moses entered into the Tent, the pillar of cloud descended, and stood at the door of the Tent; and [the LORD] spoke with Moses. 10 And when all the people saw the pillar of cloud stand at the door of the Tent, all the people rose up and worshipped, every man at his tent door. 11 And the LORD spoke unto Moses face to face, as a man speaks unto his friend. And he would return into the camp; but his minister Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the Tent. …
34:1 And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first; and I will write upon the tables the words that were on the first tables, which thou didst break. 2 And be ready by the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to Me on the top of the mount. …
30 And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face sent forth beams; and they were afraid to come nigh him. 31 And Moses called unto them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned unto him; and Moses spoke to them. 32 And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh, and he gave them in commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him in mount Sinai. 33 And when Moses had done speaking with them, he put a veil on his face. 34 But when Moses went in before the LORD that He might speak with him, he took the veil off, until he came out; and he came out; and spoke unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded. 35 And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face sent forth beams; and Moses put the veil back upon his face, until he went in to speak with Him.
Amalek Today: http://nypost.com/2015/03/02/isis-militants-trick-woman-into-eating-her-kidnapped-son/
Stories mailed me from Rabbi A.L. by Shaya Yaroslawitz THIS ENDS WITH THE ONLY VIDEO CLIP OF THE HOLY CHOFETZ CHAIM
Someone once came to Rabbi Elazar Menachem Mann Shach so the Rosh Yeshiva can wish him a Mazel Tov on his newborn baby girl. The father had a look on his face of unhappiness. His facial expression portrayed, while he wasn’t going to return the baby girl back, but his wife had just gave birth to a kitten or a gold fish.
The Gadol Hador scolded this young father and said, “If you would have been married for 10 years and not have merited having children. You would have been through and suffered terrible misery. You would have searched far and wide for every possible Segulah to have children. You would have prayed at every Tzzaddik’s Kever. You would have gone to every Gadol for Berachot.
And then after 10 long, hard, painful, miserable years Hashem would have blessed you with a child, what would you do? You would be dancing and singing from rooftops. You would never have a sour ungrateful face on because after 10 years of no children Hashem then blessed you with a girl. You would not say take it back, because it’s not a boy.
So now you must realize that Hashem saved you from 10 years of a living nightmare. 10 years of pain, suffering, crying, embarrassment etc. Hashem blessed you and gave you a child right away and furthermore a healthy baby. Where’s your thank you, where’s your Hakart Hatov, your appreciation and gratefulness for the most amazing Miracle that Hashem just gave you. You just received the most precious gift the entire world has to offer.”
Rabbi Boruch Ber Leibowitz not only immensely loved each and every one of his talmidim, he also loved every one of his fellow Jews. Once, Reb Boruch Ber didn’t show up in his Yeshiva to deliver his Shiur. Some of his talmidim went to his house to see what happened. When they arrived they found their Great Rebbe in socks and with no shoes. They asked where were his shoes?
Reb Boruch Ber answered, “A Jew came to see me and when I saw how torn his shoes were, I gave him my shoes.”
Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel - The Alter of Slabodka was old, weak and ill at the end of his life and lived in the Holy city of Chevron in Eretz Yisrael, where his Yeshiva was located. His talmidim felt very close and loved by the Alter, to the point that they felt like his sons. Several students took care of their sick Rabbi and prepared for him healthy nourishing meals.
One day a talmid prepared a new type of porridge for The Alter of Slabodka and also added a piece of fresh butter. He then served his delicious meal to his Rabbi and thought to himself, “Oh, that poor bachur who made the porridge the last time. He doesn’t know how to cook. I know how to cook way better than him.”
Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel tasted a spoon of the porridge and exclaimed, “Chalilah, I can’t eat this porridge.”
The talmid said, “But, Rabbeinu, this porridge is delicious and I also added butter.”
The Alter of Slabodka replied, “Indeed you did, but you also added a spice called Gaavah (arrogance). By thinking to yourself that you know how to cook the best porridge, where as your friend does not know how to make it good at all, makes this food cooked with conceit. Therefore I cannot eat from it.”
A wealthy American went to visit the Gadol Hador Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman in his most humble home on Chazon Ish 5 in Bnei Brak. The wealthy man proposed that he was prepared to give $500,000 to a worthy Tzedakah in exchange for an assurance that he would be together with Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman in Gan Eden.
The Gadol Hador after hearing the proposition asked how much debt, does this institution owe out. The rich man called the director of the institution to find out. The report came back that the amount was several million dollars. Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman then turned to the wealthy American and said he would agree to the deal if he agreed to pay off the entire debt.
The wealthy man rejected the deal and said he was unable to give such a large amount. When the man left, a talmid asked the Rosh Yeshiva, why he proposed such a large amount?
The Rosh Yeshiva explained, that he was demanding Mesirus Nefesh, because the only way to obtain reward in the next world is through toil and sacrifice. I detected the half a million dollar offer was not a hard one for the wealthy man, so I asked for an amount that would require Mesirus Nefesh.
The talmid continued, “But what would the Rosh Yeshiva have done if the man agreed?”
Smiling, the Rosh Yeshiva replied, “Then I would have paid to be next to him in Olam Haba!”
In the morning after Rabbi Hillel Zaks passed away, his son Rabbi Yitzchak Zev Zaks called the Chevra Kadisha for a burial spot on Har Hazeitim for his father and was told there was no plots available. Suddenly, the Chevra Kadisha told Rabbi Yitzchak Zev Zaks to wait 15 minutes and they will call him back. After 15 minutes the Chevra Kadisha called back Rabbi Yitzchak Zev Zaks and told him there were two available open spots in Har Hazeitim in the area where he requested.
Rabbi Yitzchak Zev Zaks said, “At first I did not know what just happened. But during the Shiva, a son in-law of Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv came to be menachem avel. He told me that the Chevra Kadisha called him and asked him if the family of Reb Elyashiv was willing to give the two open burial plots that Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv owned to Rabbi Hillel Zaks that just passed away. The Gadol Hador Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv had a pair of burial spots on Har Hazeitim, but never used it, because Reb Elyashiv was buried on Har HaMenuchot. He told me that he answered them, ‘That if anyone in the generation was worthy of this plot it would be my father Rabbi Hillel Zaks.’ He requested that in addition they should also ask the oldest son in-law of Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, Rabbi Azriel Auerbach. The Chevra Kadisha called Rabbi Azriel Auerbach and he answered the exact same response, if anyone in the generation was worthy of this plot it would be my father Rabbi Hillel Zaks.”
Hashem in His Great Kindness orchestrated the merit for a wonderful spot in a prestigious area on Har Hazeitim for Rabbi Hillel Zaks, even though no plots were available. Furthermore, this burial spot is next to the grave of Rabbi Mendal Zaks ZT”L, who passed away in 1974, who is the father of Rabbi Hillel Zaks and son in-law to the Chofetz Chaim. So father and son are buried right near each other.
Even furthermore, this burial spot is also very close to the Great Mekubal Rabbi Shlomo Elyashiv known as The Leshem, who is the grandfather of the Posek Hador Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv. Incidentally Rabbi Mendal Zaks served the Leshem for six months and therefore merited being buried right near the Holy and Great Mekubal.
Yesterday a rare video was found and released to the world, A Priceless Treasure. It was a video clip showing the Holy Chofetz Chaim walking outside The First Knessia Gedolah in Vienna, Austria on August 15, 1923. This video was released 92 years after it was filmed. So for 92 years this video was not available. A person that was close to Rabbi Hillel Zaks believes that, after his passing in his great merit Rabbi Hillel Zaks, a grandson of the Holy Chofetz Chaim, presented this Treasured Gift to the world.
Do not pick on people. Or he who degrades others does so with his own blemish – A Story from around the time of the Second Temple
After the fight of Yehuda Ha Maccabee and his brothers to free the Temple of Hellenistic Idol Worship, the Maccabee family ruled as High Priests and Kings of Israel as there was no descendant of David who could or would rule in Eretz Yisrael. The family dwindled in numbers due to internal wars, intrigues and natural attrition until one family was left. A slave of the household killed the last Maccabee and wanted to take the daughter of the household as his forced wife. She went up to a tower in the house/mini-castle and shouted to all from the roof: “I am the last of the Maccabee family anybody claiming to be a Maccabee from this day onward is a slave and not a Maccabee.”
A generation or two later there was a man in Yerushalayim who began calling this one and that one “a slave” and insulting families. The Sages heard about this wicked person and enquired into his background. There is a general rule given in Oral Tradition that whoever disqualifies a Jew disqualifies him with his own blemish. They asked about the man’s pedigree. He replied that he was the son of son and so who was the son of such and such the son of the Maccabee family. The Sages immediately knew that he was a slave himself.
You may ask me, “Why bring down this story?” And the answer is the continuing saga of bigotry by individuals against Gerim for no reason at all. I have a gut feeling that those who are so against Gerim are somewhere along the line products of Pogrom Rapes. I come from King David who came from Ruth the Giyores. And you know what she is the only woman in the Bible called an Aishes Chayil (Woman of Valor). So I will continue fighting for Baalei Teshuva and Gerim as long as my mind is strong and my strength holds out.
THERE IS NO PESSACH ADVICE ON CLEANING, RECIPE OR HALACHA THIS WEEK BUT REMEMBER IN 4 WEEKS FROM TODAY IS EREV PESSACH AND DON’T BE CAUGHT WITH THE LAST WEEK OR LAST MINUTE PANIC.
From Chaim B. an F-16 drone: now fly one into the core kamikaze in Iran: http://video.boeing.com/services/player/bcpid1173939806001?bckey=AQ%7E%7E,AAAAukPAlqE%7E,oAVq1qtdRjwBrIkHYj2MSytJiEK9s5fy&bclid=0&bctid=2684464741001
Bat Zion Sachs: Writes about Purim: http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/some-of-the-lessons-of-purim/
When it is cold outside people do different things: https://www.youtube.com/embed/5toGMWgmRNY
Good news for tourism: http://www.jpost.com/Christian-News/1st-century-house-unearthed-in-Nazareth-could-be-Jesus-childhood-home-393011
Ed-Op the President’s new Iranian clothes and the little boy Netanyahu is pointing at the nakedness: http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/70105
Egypt attacks Libyan ISIS: http://debka.com/article/24431/Egypt-goes-to-war-on-ISIS-masses-troops-against-Islamist-Libyan-stronghold-at-Darnah
While Netanyahu is going to Washington the treasonous labor-Zionists are visiting the Arabs trying to steal Yehuda and the Shomron from us: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/191936#.VPIBEE39nIU The denial: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/192002#.VPQF3U39nIU
From Bob Q. I do not trust Kuwait but then again Obama Hmm: However this is discredited by the White House: http://falastinews.com/2015/02/28/kuwaiti-newspaper-obama-threatened-to-fire-on-israeli-jets-attacking-iran/ the denial: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/192002#.VPQF3U39nIU
The only thing after the last article that seems to be true is the request for more missile defense at least if the threat is true that we can knock them out of the sky before they get us. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4631769,00.html
Holocaust group the entire free world is depending upon Netanyahu: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/191961#.VPL4Dk39nIU
From Gail Winston: A big victory against Arab Terror: http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=14100
Yitzchak Rabin gave them rifles here is the reward: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/191991#.VPRphE39nIU
Sometimes I don’t understand Kerry or the State Dept. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4632338,00.html
Jews helping the terror tunnel builders for money in my opinion lock them up and throw away the key or better still build some gallows 50 Amos high (Megilla Esther). http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4632428,00.html
Netanyahu is attacked internally but the truth about Iran is ignored: http://debka.com/article/24433/Netanyahu-tries-to-head-off-Iran’s-machinations-after-Obama-empowers-Tehran-as-favored-Mid-East-ally
How Hamas smuggles in supplies with endless Arab and Iranian funding: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/192030#.VPU84k39nIU
Bennett helps the Prime Minister by speaking out on Fox News: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/192056#.VPWEY039nIU
Ed-Op by military correspondent: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4632081,00.html
Naftali Bennett addresses AIPAC whole speech: http://youtu.be/j4Y7l-OOGPs
Obama claimed that Netanyahu did not offer a solution but he really did: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4633432,00.html
The Rabbi blesses Netanyahu: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/192125#.VPcHuLz9nIU
In Iran it is Iranian troops: http://debka.com/article/24439/Obama’s-Iranian-nuclear-strategy-brings-dividend-Rev-Guards-lead-military-assault-on-Tikrit-
Mystery terror attack in the 80’s finds a solution as radical Islam is investigated more and more: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4633457,00.html
Israeli Options on Iran open: http://www.jpost.com/Israel-Elections/Liberman-to-Post-All-options-on-the-table-to-stop-nuclear-Iran-392940
US Military thinking of missile defense for allies as protect against Iran: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4633692,00.html
More reasons not to vote for the two major parties they are sewing up a coalition between them which is full gas in neutral neither left or right of center: http://www.jpost.com/Israel-Elections/Yaalon-Likud-hasnt-ruled-out-coalition-with-Zionist-Union-393005
Bennett and others warn to vote for smaller parties of principles and not these monsters with no true honest position. http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/192187#.VPhWi5v9nIU
Last Jew in Pakistan beaten and arrested: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/192184#.VPhTbpv9nIU
We have gun control and regulations but having a gun stops terror: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/192192#.VPhXIpv9nIU
HE SPEAKS WITH FORKED TONGUE. HE DRESSES EACH ELECTION LIKE A HAWK BUT IS AS DOVISH AS TZIPPY LIVNI AND HERZOG THAT IS WHY ONE CANNOT TRUST THE TWO TWIN PARTIES ONLY YACHAD AND BIET HAYEHUDI WILL NOT GIVE AWAY PARTS OF YERUSHALAYIM “IF I FORGET YOU O’YERUSHALAYIM…”: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4634075,00.html Not use YNET but also Arutz 7 http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/192231#.VPlk-Jv9nIU
HAPPENING AS I WRITE TERRORIST USES CAR TO RUN OVER BICYCLE RIDER AND ONE PEDESTRIAN HITS/STABS 3 POLICEWOMEN. HE IS SHOT AND SERIOUSLY WOUNDED AND UNDERGOING QUESTIONING. http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/192232#.VPljr5v9nIU
Ed-Op Iran’s foothold on the Golan grows: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4633726,00.html
NEITHER LAST WEEK NOR THIS WEEK DID I RECEIVE A GOOD SHABBOS STORY SO I BROUGHT DOWN SOME OLDIES FROM 5769
Good Shabbos Everyone. Everybody likes being treated nicely. So, when we treat others kindly and with respect, we fulfill the mitzvah of: “And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Vayikra 19:18) It may sound obvious that must treat our fellow Jews respectfully and with feelings of love. Why then did Hashem give us a mitzvah to treat others with love and respect? The answer to our question lies in the definition of a mitzvah.
Many people think that a mitzvah is a “good deed.” A “good deed” is optional; it is a nice thing to do. The implication of this definition is that if you want to do a mitzvah, fine. If not, that is also fine. In truth, mitzvahs are much more than just “good deeds.” Mitzvahs are an obligation. This is why we have a mitzvah to be nice to one another. If treating others kindly were just a “good deed” then one may decide that he does not feel like being nice to others because, for example, he was forced to wait too long in a line, or he was not feeling well or he did not have enough sleep. That is why we have an obligation to be kind to one another. It is not just a “good deed” to be kind to our fellow Jew. We must be kind to our fellow Jews.
The Torah discusses the importance of treating others kindly in our parsha this week Mishpatim. Hashem tells us: “Do not oppress the widow and orphan. If you do oppress him, when he cries to Me, I will hear his cry. And I will become very angry and I will kill you with a sword, and your wives will be widows and you sons will be orphans” (Shemos 22:21-23) Rashi explains that this warning not only applies to widows and orphans, rather, the verse applies to all people. This verse is quite amazing. Hashem so much wants us to treat our fellow Jews with love and respect, that Hashem actually threatens to kill us if we mistreat another Jew.
Besides reading the following beautiful and inspirational story, we will also learn some important tips on how to avoid hurting other people’s feelings. We begin with the following true story: Avigdor Ribicoff, a member of a kollel (a yeshiva for married men) in Tiberias, Israel, and his wife had been married many years and had unfortunately not been blessed with children. They sought medical help in Israel and abroad and had undergone various tests and procedures, but sadly, they still had no children. Despondency and desperation, heaven forbid, were beginning to gnaw at the young couple.
They both came from"Litvishe" families and had no connection with chassidic Rebbes. Yet, friends urged Avigdor to go for berachos (blessings) to various Chassidishe Rebbes. Avigdor listened to this advice and went for blessings, if not reluctantly. During the summer vacation, when Avigdor saw his colleagues taking their children on outings, the pain of emptiness was worse than ever. He had to do something. Avigdor decided that he would go to the Nadvorner Rebbe, Rav Chaim Mordechai Rosenbloom (1904-1978), a Rebbe in Bnei Brak. When Avigdor went in to speak with the Rebbe, he broke down and cried.
The Nadvorner Rebbe listened sympathetically and asked Avigdor where he would be davening (praying) on Rosh Hashanah. Avigdor said he planned to daven at a yeshivah near his home in Tiberias, where he enjoyed those he prayed with and felt comfortable with the pace of the prayer service. "Come daven with us," said the Rebbe warmly." The first day of Yom Tov, the Torah reading is, ‘And Hashem remembered Sarah [and blessed her with a child] (Bereishis - Genesis 21:1), and the haftarah is about Chanah (who finally had her long-awaited child, Shmuel) (I Shmuel 1:1). It's a segulah (omen) to have that maftir. Come here for Rosh Hashanah, and with the G-d's help, things can happen."
Avigdor had never heard that it was a Segulah to be called for that maftir, but he knew that in many shuls the aliyos were usually sold for substantial sums of money on Rosh Hashanah. Did the Rebbe mean that he should buy that aliyah, or that he would receive the aliyah free of charge? He didn't have the courage to ask; he decided he would cross that bridge when he got there. Besides, if it meant having a child, he would pay anything, even if he had to borrow. Avigdor and his wife made plans to be in Bnei Brak that Rosh Hashanah. On the first night of Yom Tov, the Rebbe's shul was over-flowing with people and as Avigdor scanned the crowd, he wondered if the Rebbe would even remember him or his problem.
After davening, the warm ambiance in the shul was practically tangible. With radiant smiles everyone seemed to be wishing each other the traditional greeting: “May you be inscribed and sealed immediately, for a good year, good life, and for peace.” People stood on line, gradually making their way towards the Rebbe to receive his blessing. Avigdor stood back, allowing the "regulars" their chance to greet the Rebbe first. As he stood off to the side, he noticed another fellow his age, who also seemed to be a visitor. It appeared that the other fellow also knew no one, and he too was waiting for the "regulars" to clear the shul before greeting the Rebbe.
Avigdor approached the fellow and extended his hand in greeting. "Shalom Aleichem," he said. "My name is Avigdor Ribicoff. Are you from around here?" "Aleichem Shalom," came the reply. "I'm Yeruchem Lazar and I'm from Jerusalem. I am here to be with the Rebbe for Yom Tov." "Oh?" said Avigdor. "To tell you the truth," Yeruchem said, "I don't know how it's going to happen tomorrow, but I heard that the Rebbe said that if [I get] maftir, it's a segulah for children. Look at this crowd..." He let his words trail off.
Avigdor was crestfallen. He could not believe what he just heard. Hadn't the Rebbe told him to come get maftir tomorrow? That was the only reason he and his wife had come to Bnei Brak for Yom Tov. How could both of them get maftir at the same minyan? For the last month and a half he was waiting for the next day’s Torah reading - and now this? Avigdor did not allow his disappointment to surface. Not wishing to hurt the feelings of another Jew, Avigdor was silent. He continued to make small talk with Yeruchem and wished him well.
That night Avigdor was in turmoil deciding what to do the next day. The next morning Avigdor, in deference to Yeruchem, prayed in another shul. And sure enough Yeruchem had maftir. And within a year Avigdor and his wife had a baby girl. The Rebbe had said that "things could happen." And they did -and all because of Avigdor's extraordinary character in his willingness to relinquish a potential blessing. (Echoes of the Maggid p.39, Rabbi Paysach Krohn, names have been changed)
Instead of arguing with the other Jew and making a fuss, Avigdor put aside his personal feelings and emotions and kept quiet. We can learn from this example to always put first the feelings of another Jew. One of the simplest ways to treat others right is the following: One should make it his business to find out what certain people like and dislike. He should then try always to do those things that the person likes, and not do the things that the person does not like.
We are all children of Hashem, as the verse tells us “You are Children to Hashem your G-d.” (Devarim 14:1) Every parent who has ever witnessed children fighting can testify to how difficult a sight it is. Every parent who has ever witnessed children treating each other properly can testify to how beautiful a sight it is. Similarly Hashem wants very much that his children get along and show love for each other.
Let us make an effort to treat others kindly and with respect. Often the father promises a reward to the children who behave. How much more so will Hashem, our Father in Heaven, reward us for getting along with one another. Good Shabbos Everyone.
Good Shabbos Everyone. Anyone who has ever been to Yerushalayim can testify to the strong feelings a Jew experiences when visiting the holiest city in the world. The center of holiness in Yerushalayim is the Har Habayis, where the Bais HaMikdash stood. Yerushalayim is the main pipeline through which all prayers go up to heaven. And the Bais HaMikdash was the faucet for that pipeline.
Unfortunately the Bais HaMikdash was destroyed and we speedily await its rebuilding every day. Thankfully, Hashem has promised us that even without the Bais HaMikdash, we can still reach Him with prayer. The primary place for prayer is now with a minyan in our shuls.
Our shuls are mini-sanctuaries which temporarily take the place of the Bais HaMikdash in Yerushalayim. As the Prophet Yechezkel tells us “Thus said the L-rd Hashem/G-d: Though I have removed them far away among the nations and though I have scattered them among the lands, yet I have been for them a small sanctuary…“(11:16) The commentator Metzudas Dovid explains the verse to mean: Even though we may be exiled among the nations and we are far away from the Bais HaMikdash in Yerushalayim, we should build small sanctuaries - shuls so that Hashem may dwell among them. Just as the Bais HaMikdash was a dwelling place for Hashem’s holy presence, so too are our shuls the dwelling place of Hashem.
The idea that we must build shuls for Hashem is hinted to in a verse in this week’s Parsha Terumah: "Make for Me a holy house and I will dwell in them." (Shemos 25:8) The simple meaning of this verse according to Rashi, is that the Bnai Yisroel must build the Bais HaMikdash.
Grammatically, it would seem to make sense that verse should say: "Make for Me a holy house and I will dwell in it." Commentators note from the fact that the verse states: “and I will dwell in them," that the verse is hinting to Hashem’s desire to dwell not only in the Bais HaMikdash, but in every holy house that we build for Hashem, namely shuls. That is why the verse uses the plural “them.”
Just as the Bais HaMikdash was a dwelling place for Hashem’s holy presence, so too are our shuls the dwelling place of Hashem. Therefore, walking into a shul we should keep in mind that we are walking into a Mikdash Me’at, a miniature version of the Bais HaMikdash in Yerushalayim. The Bais HaMikdash was so great that merely seeing it had the power to put a Jew on the proper path in his service of Hashem. (Rav Avrohom Shorr) We should therefore be struck with awe (moirah) when coming into Hashem’s house.
After the passing of Reb Menachem Mendel of Kotsk, his Chassidim took upon themselves the leadership of Reb Yitzchak Meir of Ger, who lived at the time in Warsaw. After a few years in Warsaw, Reb Yitzchok Meir thought it preferable that he move to a small town. The number of Chassidim coming to visit him and to hear his teachings had grown to thousands, and he did not think it advisable that the younger scholars should spend long periods in a big city.
The word spread like wildfire, and from all directions came requests from representatives of communities that Reb Yitzhok Meir become their spiritual leader. None of these invitations were accepted, until an invitation came from the small town of Ger (Gora Kalwaria) near Warsaw, and this the rebbe accepted at once.
At first the rebbe lived in the house which the people of Ger kept for the local rav, and his Chassidim studied and prayed in the community's beis midrash. Seeing, however, that this building could not accommodate the thousands of Chassidim who streamed there from all parts of Poland, the more prosperous amongst the Chassidim undertook to build a fitting residence for their rebbe, and next to it a spacious shul for his Chassidim. At the festive dedication of the Shul the rebbe entered the grand edifice for the first time, surrounded by huge crowds of Chassidim, and his joy at the completion of the mitzvah was beautiful to see. His address for the occasion spoke of what entering a beis midrash can do for a Jew.
He began with the Mishnah which explains: that on the day that Rabban Gamliel was removed from the office of nasi, they removed the guard from the door of the House of Study, and permission was granted to all talmidim to enter. When Rabban Gamliel had been nasi, he used to announce: “Any talmid whose inside does not match his external appearance - let him not enter the Bais Midrash.” On the day that Rabban Gamliel left office, many benches were added in the Bais Midrash, because many students who had been denied admission were now let in. Rabban Gamliel saw this and was in distress.
Why was Rabban Gamliel in distress? "Rashi," continued Reb Yitzchak Meir of Ger, "explains this last phrase by saying that Rabban Gamliel was worried that he would be punished for not having allowed those talmidim - students to enter while he was in charge. The question, though, still stands: what changed Rabban Gamliel's thinking? What made him regret his earlier policy of not letting in talmidim who were not inside as they appeared outside?
And the answer is as follows: Rabban Gamliel watched what happened to these latter talmidim as they entered the study hall: their very entry there made them immediately fix their avairas. And this explains Rabban Gamliel’s worry. He regretted not having let them in earlier, for then they might have done teshuvah long before.” (A Treasury of Chassidic Tales on the Torah, p. 264 Reb S.Y. Zevin, Meir Holder, trans.)
With all the turmoil going on in the world, we can look to our shuls and our study houses as “safe houses” where we can go to learn Hashem’s Torah and talk to Hashem.
And as we pray towards Yerushalayim in our shuls, we ask Hashem to answer our prayers and bring better times. As Yishaya prophesied: “And it shall come to pass in the end of days that the mountain of Hashem’s house shall be set over all other mountains and lifted high above the hills and all the nations shall come streaming to it. And many peoples shall come and say: Come let us go up to the Mountain of G-d to the house of the G-d of Jacob and He will teach us His ways and we will walk in His paths. For out of Tzion shall go forth the Torah and Hashem’s word from Yerushalayim.” (2:2-3) Good Shabbos Everyone.
“A belated Purim Spiel”.
Good Shabbos Everyone. This week we will tell a story which has relevance to Purim, which although we concluded its celebration earlier this week, we are still enjoying the infusion of simcha and emunah which it has brought us. One of the lessons of Purim is that although the Jewish People has suffered through much tragedy and persecution - Am Yisroel Chai, the Jewish Nation continues its march through history. Although there has arisen in every generation a Haman who has sought to destroy the Jewish people, we have prevailed with Hashem's help. The following true story, as told by Solly Ganor, a holocaust survivor, illustrates the Jewish spirit of survival in a poignant way
"Arriving from Auschwitz in groups of 20, they looked like walking skeletons; triangular faces with pointed chins and sunken cheeks, lips shrunken to thin blue lines, large eyes with a strange luminous sheen. They were known in concentration camp slang as “Musselman,” usually the last stage before death.
Their Yiddish accent sounded strange to us Lithuanian Jews. They came from the ghetto of Lodz through Auschwitz, before they were sent to our camp. Our camp was known as the “Outer camp of Dachau, #10,” situated near the picturesque town of Utting by Lake Amersee, in a small forest surrounded by green meadows and beautiful landscapes.
I remember the day we were brought there, I thought to myself, “Can anything bad happen amid all this beauty?” But the beauty was in the landscape only; the Germans were sadistic murderers. The Lodz people fell into the same deceptive trap. After Auschwitz, our camp looked like paradise. Most of them died soon after arriving, from hard labor, beatings and starvation, but they preferred to die here than in Auschwitz’s gas chambers. The Germans must’ve been desperate for workers to send these walking skeletons all the way from Poland.
Around March 1945, only a few remained alive. One of them was known as “Chaim the Rabbi.” We never found out whether he was actually a rabbi, but he always washed his hands and made a blessing before eating. He knew the Jewish calendar dates, and also knew the prayers by heart. At times when the Germans weren’t looking, he would invite us to participate in the evening prayers.
Our Jewish camp commander, Burgin, tried to get him easier jobs. Most people died when they had to carry 100 pound cement sacks on their backs, or other chores of heavy labor. He wouldn't have lasted a day on a job like this. He once told me that if he survived, he would get married and have at least a dozen children.
Around the middle of March, we were given a day off. It was a Sunday. The camp was covered with snow, but Spring was in the air. We heard rumors of the American breakthrough into Germany and a glimmer of hope was kindled in our hearts. After breakfast of a slice of moldy bread, a tiny piece of margarine, and brown water known as “Ersatz Coffee,” we returned to our barrack to get some sleep.
Suddenly we saw “Chaim the Rabbi” standing in the snow and shouting, “Haman to the gallows! Haman to the gallows!” He had on his head a paper crown made out of a cement sack, and he was draped in a blanket that had cut out stars from the same paper attached to it.
Petrified, we watched this strange apparition, barely able to trust our eyes, as he danced in the snow, singing: “I am Achashverosh, Achashverosh, the king of Persia!” Then he stood still, straightened himself up, chin pointed to the sky, his right arm extended in an imperial gesture and shouted: “Haman to the gallows! Haman to the gallows! And we all know which Haman we are talking about!”
We were sure that he had lost his wits, like others in those times. About 50 of us were gaping at the “rabbi,” when he said: “Yidden wos iz mit aich! Fellow Jews, what’s the matter with you?! Today is Purim! Let’s make a Purim Shpiel!”
Back home, a million years ago, this was the time of the year when children dressed up for Purim, playing and eating Hamantashen. The “rabbi” remembered the exact date on the Jewish calendar. We hardly knew what day it was. Chaim then divided the roles of Queen Esther, Mordechai, Vashti and Haman among the onlookers. I received the role of Mordechai, and we all danced in the snow in our Purim Shpiel in Dachau.
But that was not the end of the story. The “rabbi” said that we will get “Mishloach Manos,” our Purim food gifts. That was hardly likely to happen. But, miracle of miracles, that afternoon, an International Red Cross delegation came to our camp. It was the first time that they bothered about us. Still, we welcomed them, because they brought us the “Mishloach Manos” the “rabbi” had promised. Each of us received a parcel containing a tin of condensed milk, a bar of chocolate, a box of sugar cubes, and a pack of cigarettes. It is impossible to describe our joy! Here we were starving to death, and suddenly on Purim, we received these heavenly gifts. Since then, we never doubted the “rabbi.” His prediction also came true. Two months later Haman/Hitler went to the gallows and shot himself in Berlin, while those of us still alive were rescued by the American army on May 2, 1945.
I lost track of “Chaim the Rabbi” on our Death March from Dachau to Tyrol, but I hope he survived and had many children as he always wanted. I recall his Shpiel whenever Purim comes around. Good Shabbos Everyone.
M. Wolfberg’s stories are sponsored by: In Memory of Leah bas R' Dovid Edlen (Wolfberg) Refuah Shleima to Mordechai Menachem Mendel ben Tziporah Yitta Refuah Shleima to Tsviah bas Bracha Leah Refuah Shleimah to Chana Ashayra bas Dodi
Have a wonderful Shabbos, rest and reflect on the creations and miracles of G-D and then on Motzei Shabbos get the whip cracking for Pessach cleaning and shopping,