Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Circling from the end to the beginning

My grandfather notes a number of connections between the end of the Torah and its begiing:
1) What Rashi says on Bereishis בְּרֵאשִׁית
(ובשביל ישראל שנקראו (ירמיה ב ג
The last word of the Torah is  ישראל

2) -בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹ ים'
The last letters of those 3 words spell out אמֶת = truth (credited to the Ba'al HaTurim) . And the truth of theTorah is made known to us through Moshe having demonstrated it to the eyes of all Israel אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה משֶׁה לְעֵינֵי כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל

3) בְּרֵאשִׁית= כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל
All of Israel = the beginning of everything, for it all depends on the unity of Israel , Only through that do we have standing and the possibility to keep all of the Torah.  

I've completed the parsha posts with at least one representative piece from each parsha that is covered in the book. If I add from the book, it would be from some of the additional pieces that appear in the appendix. I do plan to post one related to weddings, so stay tuned.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Hoshana Rabbah and Vezos Habracha

The Parsha refers to Hashem's kingship 33:5: "הוַיְהִי בִישֻׁרוּן מֶלֶךְ בְּהִתְאַסֵּף רָאשֵׁי עָם יַחַד שִׁבְטֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל
And He was King in Yeshurun, whenever the sum total of the people were gathered, and the tribes of Israel were together.
Rashi first explains the word  בְּהִתְאַסֵּף as  בכל התאסף ראשי חשבון אסיפתם. 
At every gathering of רָאשֵׁי - meaning, whenever their number is gathered. רָאשֵׁי as in the verse,“When you take the count (רֹאשׁ) of the children of Israel” (Exod. 30:12). These people are worthy that I should bless them.
He then offers another explaination:  , בהתאספם יחד באגודה אחת ושלום ביניהם הוא מלכם, ולא כשיש מחלוקת ביניהם:
When Israel is gathered together in a unified group, and there is peace among them, God is their King-but not when there is strife among them. — [Sifrei 33:5]

My grandfather quotes the second one and draws a connection to Hoshana Rabbah. That day is known as the final seal for all the days of judgement from the DAys of Awe. During the Days of Awe, HKB"H shows his kingship in the role of Judge of the world. Accordingly, on those days we say Hamelech Hakadosh  and Hamelech Hamishpat in the Amidah. However, though we revert to the standard text after those days, we have to maintain HKB"H as our King even after those days.

The answer lies in this verse  וַיְהִי בִישֻׁרוּן מֶלֶךְ  He is the King in Yehurun
When? בְּהִתְאַסֵּף רָאשֵׁי עָם יַחַד שִׁבְטֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל that is when they gather together on Chag Ha'asif the Sukkoth holiday. That is the ultimate manifestation of  unity and peace among Yisrael. Then HKB"H is able to bring his Schina among them and is thus their King. 

My grandfather observes that that the custom of gathering together to learn Torah together on the last day of Sukkoth is fitting according to this reasoning. 

I would add that this fits with the holiday in which all 70 nations outside Yisrael are representing with the cow offerings with respect to the idea of G-d being Melech al kol ha'aretz.  There is also the vision of the future presented in of  their active participation in the holiday described in Zecharya 14: 16-18.

 But the particular status of Yisrael that merits the presence of the Schina is found in the sukkah, in which individuals come close together as expressed in the halacha that all of Yisrael can share a single sukkah. Sukkah 27b: All that are homeborn, in Israel shall dwell in Sukkoth,which teaches that all Israel are able to sit in one Sukkah.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Understanding the present in light of history

Parshas Ha'azin is one of the most poetic sections of the Torah. It includes verses like this one 32:7: זְכֹר יְמוֹת עוֹלָם בִּינוּ שְׁנוֹת דֹּר וָדֹר
Remember the days of old; understand the years from generation to generation 
My grandfather suggests that this is to be read that from זְכֹר יְמוֹת עוֹלָם,  that is remembering the past, one would come to בִּינוּ שְׁנוֹת דֹּר וָדֹר, that is the causes of events in your generation and in your lives. 
He says he only briefly presented the idea that is similar to what the Ramban expound on in explaining ma'aseh avos siman labanim the deeds of the fathers are a sign for the sons.

related post:

Friday, October 07, 2016

The end of Moshe's mission

Parshas Vayelech begins with Moshe telling Bnay Yisrael that he will not be leading them into their homeland. 31:2  I can no longer go or come לֹא אוּכַל עוֹד לָצֵאת וְלָבוֹא
Rashi explains that can here is used in the sense of may, not to signify a lack of ability but a lack of permission 

וילך משה וגו', לא אוכל עוד לצאת ולבא: יכול שתשש כחו, תלמוד לומר (דברים לד, ז) לא כהתה עינו ולא נס לחה. אלא מהו לא אוכל, איני רשאי שנטלה ממני הרשות ונתנה ליהושע:
Moses went…I can no longer go or come: One might think [this means] that Moses’ strength had ebbed [and that is why he could no longer go or come]. Scripture [however] states [regarding Moses], “His eye had not dimmed, nor had he lost his [natural] moisture” (Deut. 34:7) [which teaches us that his powers were intact even on his last day of life]. What then is [the meaning of] “I can no longer?” “I am not permitted,” because authority was taken from him and granted to Joshua.

My grandfather looks at the rest of the verse for the explanation of this sense. 
 G-d told Moshe that he will not cross the Jordan River. אָמַר אֵלַי לֹא תַעֲבֹר אֶת הַיַּרְדֵּן הַזֶּה:
Once Hashem had so decreed, the flow of wisdom [needed to lead them] ceased. That fits with what our Sages said in Brachos 32a:    אמר רבי אלעזר אמר לו הקדוש ב"ה למשה
משה רד מגדולתך"
"כלום נתתי לך גדולה אלא בשביל ישראל ועכשיו ישראל חטאו אתה למה לי
מיד תשש כחו של משה ולא היה לו כח לדברWhat means "Go, get thee down" ? 
R, Eleazar said : The Holy One, blessed be He, saidto Moshe, 
"Moses, descend from you greatness. 
Have I not given you greatness only for the sake of Israel? And now that Israel has sinned, what are you to Me?" 
Immediately the strength of Moshe weakened, and he had not the power to speak.

Related post:

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Shana Tova 5777

On Thursday night I heard Rabbi Eli Mansour speak in North Woodmere.He credited Rabbi Friedman with the concept, and it is written out and accessible online in both Hebrew: and English:

So you can read for yourself abotu the connections of the 100 sounds we hear on Rosh Hashana, birth, and R' Akiva.

Related post:

I'd like to wish every a kethiva vechathima tova. It should be a year of peace for all, one in which we can recognize and appreciate the sweetness in choosing life.