October, 2011 Archives

28
Oct

A Splendid Torch

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

“Life is no brief candle for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations (George Bernard Shaw).”

This week we are introduced to the story of a man who changed history; he was a traveller, he insisted that marriages remain within the extended family, he was willing to sacrifice his child to his god:

“This is the account of Terah’s family line. Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. And Haran became the father of Lot.  While his father Terah was still alive, Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, in the land of his birth.  Abram and Nahor both married. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milkah; she was the daughter of Haran, the father of both Milkah and Iskah. Now Sarai was childless because she was not able to conceive.

Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Harran, they settled there. Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Harran (Genesis 11:27-32).” The Midrash adds that Terah was born circumcised. It all sounds like someone else we know.

Terach’s son, Abraham, certainly managed to do all his father did, and to do it all in his own way. However, when Joshua, towards the end of his life, renews the covenant between God and Israel in Shechem, he indicates that Terach’s role is more than fathering Abraham:

“Then Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He summoned the elders, leaders, judges and officials of Israel, and they presented themselves before God.

Joshua said to all the people, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Long ago your ancestors, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods. But I took your father Abraham from the land beyond the Euphrates and led him throughout Canaan and gave him many descendants. I gave him Isaac, and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I assigned the hill country of Seir to Esau, but Jacob and his family went down to Egypt (Joshua 24:1-4).” We mention Terach as part of the Haggadah story. There seems to be more to him than we assume.

In a portion that includes the tale of the Tower of Babel, when all were united, we are introduced to a man who wants to make his own way: As soon as his children were married, “Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan.” Terach wanted to light a torch that would, “burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.” Something happened. Terach stopped. “But when they came to Harran, they settled there. Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Harran.” Terach wanted to make his own mark on the world, but he knew only that. He did not know what mark to make. He stopped in Harran, and there he died.

Terach was not his son, Abraham, who did know how he wanted to change the world, and yet, he is still remembered, because even an unfulfilled desire to move out on his own, to make a mark on the world, was sufficient to inspire Abraham to become the Patriarch of Israel.

Terach’s torch still burns in the souls of his descendants motivating them to move ahead and attempt to light their own torch. It was Abraham who taught us how to fuel the torch, and directed us in how to move without stopping in Harran.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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27
Oct

Don’t Ask NOW!

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

I’m still receiving questions about Halacha’s perspective on the deal to free Gilad Shalit. The answer is, “I’m not sure.” My question is, “Why are you asking now rather than five years ago?”

People are still asking me about the Halacha regarding the community’s response to sex abuse stories from a few years ago. My response is, “Rather than wait for the next tragic case, we should formulate a thorough Halachic system before we again are forced to face the issue.”

I am often asked to rule on complex business arrangements when partners are arguing. My response always begins, “Did you consult a Halachic authority before negotiating the terms of your partnership?”

When couples come to ask for Halachic guidance for their relationship, I ask, “Did you study the laws of marriage before you married?”

Why do we wait until after the fact to consult Halacha?

This is an ancient issue: We find no indication of Noah, during the 120 years he was working on the Ark, and the next year spent inside the Ark, asking God or even considering what he should do after the Flood. How does someone spend more than a century preparing for a Flood not plan for life afterward?

The Midrash teaches that Noah took a vine from the Garden of Eden to plant after the Flood, which is not planning anything other than attempting to recreate the world as it was before. The verse describes Noah as, “The man of the earth (9:20),” another Adam. Perhaps Noah believed that he, described by God as, “Righteous before Me (7:1),” could succeed where Adam failed. How does a man who believes and even plans to be the successful Adam end up, “drunk, and he uncovered himself within his tent”? The only thing at which Noah succeeds in contributing to the future is blessing and cursing his children. (Which, of course, raises the question of how does a failed Noah offer blessings that shape the future of mankind?) If Noah possessed such power, imagine what he could have accomplished with more planning, with guidance from God.

“But I will establish My covenant with you (6:18).” “And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your offspring after you (9:9).” God repeatedly speaks to Noach of the future, and yet, Noah does not respond with forward thinking. It’s as if Noah is stuck in his role of saving the remnant of the past and is unwilling, perhaps unable to plan. A person who is constantly looking at his previous roles, preserving the past, will not learn how to use the very strengths that allow him to save the world to build a new one. And that, is where the issue of when do we consult Halacha, comes into play.

The same people who wait to ask for Halachic guidance about negotiating with Hamas, responding to sexual abuse allegations, dealing with business conflict, and guidance in relationships, will ask about Shabbat, Kashrut and Family Purity, before a question arises. They approach Halacha that doesn’t challenge them to rethink all they are doing. They hesitate to ask Halacha about how to plan, how to challenge their perceptions, and how to recreate their world.

Couples will come to a rabbi to resolve a conflict about an offer of a new job that will demand more hours at work, allowing less time at home (a serious Halachic issue), after the job has been offered, rather than discuss the question before the husband starts looking for another job. Their decision that he has to look for another job has been made. They have made up their minds, and are unaware or unwilling to submit their decision to a Halachic perspective. They want to protect their decision from being challenged. Halacha is perceived as interference. They are willing to, “Walk with God 6:9),” as did Noah, unwilling to, “Walk before Me (17:1),” as did Abraham. They are interested in keeping their marriage steady. They do not hear Halacha’s call to make marriage extraordinary.

Halacha can be used to “walk with,” to help a person keep his life on a steady course, or it can be used to, “Walk before Me,” to consider new ways to approach life. When we examine a government’s decisions after they are made, we are sending a message that Halacha is another voice of criticism. We are failing to project Halacha as a vision of how we can approach future issues.

The question is not about the Halachic justification of the deal for Gilad. We dare not send him the message that his freedom was bought at the expense of Torah. Our challenge is to formulate a Halachic response that offers a serious option for the future. Abraham, the one who, “Walk(ed) before Me,” is the man of Halacha. Noah was not. He was a great man who saved the world, but he did not know how to build a new one.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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12
Oct

Return to the Future

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Music of Halacha

“But to return, if I may use the expression, to the future…(J.B.S. Haldane).”

Haven’t we been here before? Have we not experienced Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Succot, many times? Have we not dreamed of a fresh start year after year? How

will this year be different?

“Every man takes the limits of his own vision for the limits of the world (Arthur Schopenhauer).” I suspect that there is a hint in the imperfect roof of the Succah to Schopenhauer’s point: The open spaces in the S’chach are a reminder that our vision is limited, there are other views, the ones through which we glimpse that stars. Succor is an exercise in seeing God’s vision for us, rather than our own.

Even when the serpent spoke to Eve to convince her to eat of the Tree of Knowledge, he hinted to God’s vision of human potential, “You will be as Powers.” God’s vision of a human being is that of a true Power that can transform creation. Adam had two choices when he first stepped out of the Garden: he could look ahead terrified that he had no idea what to do. He was accustomed to being cared for by God. He could carry the failure of his past on his shoulders, dreading the world outside his protected place, his Succah, the Garden. Or, he could recall God’s first words to him, “Go out and conquer and master the world.” He had been equipped to master the world from his first moment of life.

Adam, unfortunately, began by choosing to focus on what he had lost. He blamed Eve and separated from her. He did not become a builder of the future until more than a hundred years later. He was weighed down by his vision of himself. He forgot God’s opening charge; God’s vision of what he could do.

I look up through the open spaces of my Succah to glimpse the heavens that, in God’s vision, are ours to reach. Hopefully, it will become my vision as well.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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12
Oct

Untried Means

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Music of Halacha

“It would be madness, and inconsistency, to suppose that things which have never yet been performed can be performed without employing some hitherto untried means (Francis Bacon).”

I use the same Succah every year, the same poles, the same canvas, the same support beams, and the same s’chach, but I always end up needing to add one thing to fix a problem that occurred the previous years.

I use the same system every year to keep my Haddasim and Aravot fresh throughout Succot, and always need to add one more trick to perfect my system. I’m now up to keeping everything perfect for about five days. (Open to suggestions!)

I daven the same prayers every day, but always find that I must add new Kavanot to keep my prayers fresh and meaningful.

I learn the same Torah every year, and always search for new insights, a new approach, a new commentary, so I can learn more from each portion.

I suspect that the reason the Succah is an imperfect structure is to challenge us to find something new each year to add or fix. It is a challenge to use the festival to consider what new means we can use to make this year better than the last. A new practice, a new approach to prayer, a new ingredient to add to our Shabbat. Who knows? Perhaps we will perform what hitherto has not.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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12
Oct

The Storm of Progress

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Music of Halacha

Angelus Novus by Paul Klee

My wing is poised to beat

but I would gladly return home

were I to stay to the end of days

I would still be this forlorn

— Gershom Scholem, “Greetings from Angelus” [tr. Richard Sieburth}

A Klee painting named Angelus Novus shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating.

His eyes are staring, his mouth hangs open, his wings are spread.

This is how the angel of history must look.

His face is turned toward the past.

Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one catastrophe, which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage, hurling it before his feet.

The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed.

But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence the angel can no longer close them.

This storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward.

This storm is what we call progress.

(Walter Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosphy of History,” in Illuminations [1940])

“Succot,” as “Yiskah (Genesis 11:29),” means to see the future. I certainly hope we do not use our Succah vision to see the future as does Klee’s angel. We see a wind, not a storm, that blows from Paradise; it is not a wind of destruction but a wind that pushes us forward to accomplish despite the wreckage behind us. Thus, Halachah teaches us that a Succah, a temporary structure, must be sufficiently strong to stand in a normal wind. We consider a storm on Succot, sent by God to prevent us from fulfilling His Mitzvah of living in the Succah, as a sign of God’s displeasure. So, no storms, Mr. Klee; just a gentle wind propelling us forward.

The Succah is named for the S’chach, the symbol of Divine Protection. The gaps are not the wreckage of the past; they are the areas where we have yet to find God in our lives, but, we are told, there are magical ways to fill in the gaps: Lavud, Dofen Akumah, Gud Asik, etc., all laws that allow us to use our imagination to fill in the gaps.

Our angel does not face the past, but the future. He propels us forward into the year with hope.

The Succah is our symbol of the future. It is an expression of hope and expectation that despite our shaky foundation, we can succeed in building a world that flies forward on the winds from Paradise; a world that reflects the beauty of Paradise, a world that expresses our conviction that God is constantly present in our lives.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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12
Oct

Succot Hallel Part Three

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

Paragraph Seven

“All you nations; Praise God!

Sing compliments, all you peoples!

For His kindness overpowers us,

and God’s Truth is forever.

Hallelukah!”


Rabbi Shimon, the son of Rabbeinu Hakadosh (R. Yehudah HaNassi), asked his father, “Which nations are meant by ‘All you nations; Praise God!’ and which peoples by, ‘Sing compliments, all you peoples!’? Rabbi Yehudah replied, “The nations are all those who oppressed the Children of Israel, and the peoples are those who did not oppress them.”

All these peoples said, “If they who oppressed the Children of Israel sing praise to the Holy One, Blessed is He, we, who did not oppress them should sing all the more!” Hence it is said, “All you nations; Praise God! Sing compliments, all you peoples!”

The Children of Israel also said, “Even more should we sing His praise! And they went on to say,  “For His kindness overpowers us,  and God’s Truth is forever.” True to what? True to the covenant made with the patriarchs, as it is said, “Then will I remember My covenant with Jacob…” (Lev. 26:42) – Midrash Tehillim 117:2

Rabbi Yehudah taught that this short psalm addresses the redemptions that have already taken place, i.e. ‘Those who have oppressed Israel,’ and the Final Redemption, i.e. ‘Those who have not oppressed the Children of Israel. All previous redemptions were in the merit of the Patriarchs and God’s covenant with them. We, who want to call on their merit and on the Covenant, must pray. This is the idea of “Praying before we are in trouble,” meaning we must constantly call on the Patriarch’s merit and the Covenant in order to be protected and saved.

We have just completed Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and hopefully experienced a level of Redemption and freedom. We sing this paragraph of Hallel as a prayer that the joy, redemption, and freedom we experienced over Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, will continue to showered upon us throughout the year.

Paragraph 7 – Four Species Hallel:

“All you nations; Praise God!

Sing compliments, all you peoples!

For His kindness overpowers us,

and God’s Truth is forever.

Hallelukah!”


The previous paragraph described how we can thank God. Our expressions of gratitude, when real, lead to universal gratitude. In Birchat Hamazon, the Grace After Meals, “Nodeh,” or, “We thank,” is immediately followed by, “Yitbarach shimcha bifi kol chai,” “Your Name will be blessed in the mouths of all living things. In the Amidah, “Modim,” “We are thankers,” is immediately followed by, “V’chol Hachaim yoducha,” “All living things will thank You.”

This paragraph takes the gratitude expressed in the previous chapter and expands it to the entire world. We shake the Four Species in all directions to call on all of God’s creations to join us in blessing His Name, singing His praises, and thanking Him.

Paragraph 7 – Shabbat Chol HaMoed Hallel:

“All you nations; Praise God!

Sing compliments, all you peoples!

For His kindness overpowers us,

and God’s Truth is forever.

Hallelukah!”


Although Shabbat honors the Seventh Day of Creation of all things, the Covenant of Shabbat is not universal, but particular to those who are connected with the Covenant of Torah. Torah is the path to bring all of creation to the Universal Shabbat of Olam Habbah, the World to Come.

The Succot Mussaf Offerings honor all the nations of the world and invite all to the House of Prayer for All Nations. The Succah itself reminds us of the Beit Hamikdash, the universal place that brings blessing to the entire creation.

Shabbat Succot is the time when Universal Time meets Universal Place, and we strive to become the Universal Human Being, connecting all dimensions to the Ultimate Source of Life.

We sing this paragraph today to celebrate the special opportunity offered by this day of complete connection between people, place and time.

 





 

Paragraph Eight

“I called to the Creator of Heaven and Earth from a tight spot, and He answered me broadly. God is with me, I have no fear; what can people do to me? God is with me to help me, so I can confront my enemies.”

This paragraph celebrates our successful judgment on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, when we were confronted by our accusers, our enemies, and our own mistakes. The laws of Succot demand joy, specifically the joy of confidence that we received a wonderful judgment.

Paragraph 8 – Four Species Hallel:

“All the nations surrounded me but I survived them in God’s Name.

They surrounded and encircled me but I survived them in God’s Name.

Though they surrounded me like a swarm of bees, they were snuffed out like burnt thorns.

I survived them in God’s Name. “

We shake the Four Species in all directions to fight off all those who surround and encircle us to hurt us.

Paragraph 8 – Shabbat Chol HaMoed Hallel:

“This is the day God made; let us sing and be happy with it.”  The Talmud applies this verse to the day when David, the rejected son of Yishai, was anointed as the future king of Israel. All the troubles of his past, all the fluctuations in the life of Samuel the prophet, disappeared in a moment when the future was clear and filled with expectation. It was not the end of a story, but a beginning.

The very first Shabbat would have been the beginning of the future rather than the conclusion of the week, had Adam not sinned. This concept of choice between Shabbat as a conclusion or a beginning is part of the nature of each Shabbat, as it is for Succot, the Festival of Gathering in the Harvest. We can look back on all our hard work and breathe in relief that our harvest was successful, the conclusion of the agricultural year, or, we can celebrate that we are prepared for the future. Our storehouses are full. We are ready to face the future with confidence, and say on this Shabbat-Succot Day of Beginnings; “This is the day God made; let us sing and be happy with it.”

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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12
Oct

Succot Hallel Part Two

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

<strong>Paragraph Five</strong>

Raba lectured, What means, “I love that the Lord should hear [my voice and my supplications]”? The congregation of Israel said: “Sovereign of the Universe! When am I loved by You? When You hear the voice of my supplications.” (Pesachim 118b)

We all love when someone listens to our pleas! What is so special about God listening?

Samuel the Little ordained a fast and rain fell before sunrise. The people thought that it was due to the merit of the community, whereupon he said to them: I will quote you a parable. This can be compared to a servant who asked his master for a gratuity and the master exclaimed, ‘Give it to him, and let me not hear his voice.’

Another time Samuel the Little ordained a fast and rain fell after sunset. The people thought that it was due to the merit of the community. whereupon Samuel exclaimed: “I will quote you a parable. This can be compared to a servant who asked his master for a gratuity and the master exclaimed, ‘Keep him waiting until he is made submissive and is distressed, and then give him his gratuity.’ (Ta’anit 25b)

We do not want God to say, ‘Give it to him, and let me not hear his voice.’ We want to be able to ask and have Him respond. This is not like other relationships when we hesitate to ask and often are embarrassed to request help. We love to be able to ask, to feel comfortable asking, and to receive as a response to our prayers.

We recently celebrated Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur when we asked God to shower our year with blessings. We look back on Succot and celebrate the comfort with which we can approach God and request our needs and desires.<strong> </strong>

<strong>Paragraph 5 – Four Species Hallel:</strong>

<em> “For You saved my soul from death,

my eyes from tears,

my legs from tripping.“</em>

A person’s feet are responsible for him; they take him to the place he desires. (Sukkah 53a)

“For they planted themselves at Your feet.” Rabbi Yosef taught: This refers to the Torah scholars who are engaged in Torah study and trudge with their feet from one town to another, and from one province to another to study Torah, and they cast off from themselves the yoke of the exiles.

Alternatively,  “For they planted themselves at Your feet,” means that even though they suffer during their travels, they do not leave Your sanctuary, but they receive from Your word abundant reward, though being intensely involved in debating the meaning of the Torah. (Tanchumah: V’zot HaBerachah #5)

We point our Lulav forward during this paragraph “As If” to point the way we want to move forward with our feet in order to achieve eternal life.<strong> </strong>

<strong>Paragraph 5 – Shabbat Chol HaMoed Hallel:</strong>

<em> “I love that God hears the voice of my prayers,

that I am listened to when I call!

Ropes of death strangled me and alleys of the grave found me;

I discovered trouble and sadness.

So, I called out in the Name of God:

Please God, rescue my soul!

God is proper and just.

Our Lord shows compassion.

God defends the simple.

I was lowered but then saved.”

</em>

There is special joy to experiencing salvation, to crying out and being answered, to being lowered and then rescued. Beyond the relief we can see that no matter what troubles us, we can have hope. This is the gift of Shabbat, the day on which we look at the world as being whole and complete, a world that has a taste of the World To Come.

This is also the sense that we have when, on Succot, we gather in our harvest, and see that our worries are over. We have more hope the next time we plant. We celebrate the accomplishments and growth of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We rejoice in the feeling that our prayers have been heard. This holiday empowers us to face the future with hope and aspiration.<strong> </strong>

<strong> </strong>

<strong>Paragraph Six</strong>

“What can I respond to God for all the good He has given to make me independent?”

There is a difference between one person who receives a favor, and a group that has received a similar blessing or gift: An individual knows that the gifts was specifically for him, and feels a need to acknowledge the gift. However, one who is part of a group will often rely on the others to express gratitude.

This paragraph of Hallel reminds us that although God blesses all of Israel and all of Creation, we are each obligated to acknowledge the blessings as if we were the personal recipients of all of God’s benificence.

This is similar to an idea taight in the Talmud:

He (Ben Zoma) used to say: What does a good guest say? ‘How much trouble my host has taken for me! How much meat he has set before me! How much wine he has set before me! How many cakes he has set before me! And all the trouble he has taken was only for my sake!’

But what does a bad guest say? ‘How much after all has mine host put himself out? I have eaten one piece of bread, I have eaten one slice of meat,I have drunk one cup of wine! All the trouble which my host has taken was only for the sake of his wife and his children!’

What does Scripture say of a good guest? “Remember that you magnify His works, where of men have sung.”  (Job XXXVI, 24.) But of a bad guest it is written: “Men do therefore fear Him; [He does not regard any that are too wise of heart]. (Ibid. XXXVII, 24.) (Berachot 58a)

<strong>Paragraph 6 – Four Species Hallel:</strong>

<em> “What can I respond to God

for all the good He has given to make me independent?

I will lift up the cup of salvation

and I will call out in God’s Name.”</em>

The Rekanati (Emor: “u’likachtem) teaches that the Four Species represent the Name of God. We literally hold God’s Name in our hands. (See Bet Yosef &amp; Taz, Orach Chaim 651) Our actions, speech and thought determine the level of Presence God’s Name has in this world.

“What can I respond to God for all the good He has given to make me independent?” By being aware that I hold His Name, so to speak, in my hands, and am determined to use my actions to increase His Presence in His creation. It is thus that, “I will lift up the cup of salvation

and I will call out in God’s Name.”

<strong>Paragraph 6 – Shabbat Chol HaMoed Hallel:</strong>

<em> “What can I respond to God

for all the good He has given to make me independent?”</em>

Rav Shlomo Kluger (Derushim L’Pesach #2) posits that the degree of gratitude should reflect the giver’s intentions. If someone is kind to another only to benefit himself, the recipient is, of course, obligated to be grateful, but to a lesser degree than he would be to someone who helped him solely from concern for the person in need. King David used this verse to say, “Kol tagmulohi ‘Aly,’” all God does is for me, and therefore I owe the highest the level of gratitude.

Shabbat is a gift that is entirely for us, and therefore, we owe the same gratitude expressed by King David. On Succot we recall all the kindnesses God did for us while we were in the desert; the Clouds of Protection, the Manna, water from a rock etc. It was all for us.

<strong> </strong>

Author Info:

Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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12
Oct

Succot Hallel Part One

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

Paragraph One

At which point did the Children of Israel recite Hallel? When the plague of the Slaying of the First Born began, Pharaoh went and knocked on the door of Moshe and Aaron’s house. Pharaoh wanted Israel to leave immediately, in middle of the night. “Fool,” said Moshe, “ are we thieves that we should sneak out in middle of the night?” Pharaoh responded with desperation: “All of Egypt is dying. You must leave!” Moshe and Aaron said, “If you want to stop this plague, say ‘you are free. You are under your own power. You are now the servants of God.’ Pharaoh began to cry out, “In the past you were my slaves, but now you are free. You are under your own power. You are now the servants of God and you must praise Him for the fact that you are His servants.” That is why the verse says, “Praise Him servants of God.” (Midrash Socher Tov)

Rav Shlomo Kluger (Tehillot Yisrael) asks; How could Moshe offer advice to Pharaoh when we have learned that one is punished for advising an enemy:

Rab Judah has said in the name of Rab (or it may be R. Joshuah b. Levi) that Daniel was punished only because he gave advice to Nebuchadnezzar, as it is written, “Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you, and atone your sins by righteousness and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, if there may be a lengthening of your tranquility etc.” (Bava Batra 4a)

He answers that Moshe was intent on speeding the redemption, as the Talmud teaches:

R. Abba said: All agree that when Israel was redeemed from Egypt they were redeemed in the evening. For it is said: “The Lord, your God brought you forth out of Egypt by night.” But they did not actually leave Egypt till the daytime. For it is said: “On the morrow after the Passover the children of Israel went out with a high hand.”

About what do they disagree? — About the time of the haste.

R. Eleazar b. Azariah says: What is meant by ‘haste’? The haste of the Egyptians. And R. Akiba says: It is the haste of Israel. It has also been taught likewise: ‘The Lord, your God brought you forth out of Egypt by night.’ But did they leave in the night? Did not they in fact leave only in the morning, as it says: ‘On the morrow after the passover the children of Israel went out with a high hand?’ But this teaches that the redemption had already begun in the evening. (Berachot 9a)

One of the basic concepts of Succot, stressed by the Torah regarding the Four Species, is rushing forward: “And you shall take for yourselves on the first day,” the first day after Yom Kippur that we have an opportunity to sin. We rush to busy ourselves with Mitzvot to hold on to our Yom Kippur purity. We rush to fulfill God’s wishes.

We honor Moshe’s push to speed our redemption with this first paragraph of Hallel, and with our rush to perform God’s Mitzvot.

Paragraph 1 – Four Species Hallel:

“Who is like God, our Lord,

Who lives up high, but drops down to see what happens (to us) in the (lower) heaven and earth?

Who lifts up the lowly from the dust, raises the destitute from the garbage dumps to be seated with leaders, the leaders of their people.”


The mighty Lulav, the highest of the Four Species, and therefore the one over which we recite the blessing, is combined with the lowly Aravah, willow branch, which has no taste or smell. This combination symbolizes how God connects Heaven and Earth, “Who lives up high, but drops down to see what happens,” and, “Who lifts up the lowly from the dust.”

We hold our Four Species with the special joy that comes from realizing that all we do here on earth is raised up high by God to have eternal meaning.

Paragraph 1 – Shabbat Chol HaMoed Hallel:

“Praise, you who serve God! Praise the Name of God.

Let the Name of God be blessed from now and forever.

From sunrise to sundown, the Name of God is praised.

God is above all the nations. His Glory is beyond the sky.”


The Ma’asei Hashem (Ma’asei Mitzrayim, Chapter One) explains that if the Egyptian exile was a punishment, we would not have been entitled to be called, “Those who serve God,” until we were free. However, if the exile itself was an act of service; to expand God’s Name in the world, then we were Servants of God even when servants of Pharaoh.

The only way that we were able to maintain a sense of being servants of God when in Egypt was our ability to focus on the broad picture beyond our immediate circumstances. In other words; the Shabbat.

Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky (Emet L’Yaakov, Shemot) explains that the text the slaves studied while in exile was the Psalm of the Shabbat Day.

We sing this psalm with deep appreciation for the gift of Shabbat; the gift of being able to see beyond immediate time: “Let the Name of God be blessed from now and forever.

From sunrise to sundown, the Name of God is praised.” It is through the Shabbat that we are able to relate to God, Who is, “above all the nations. His Glory is beyond the sky.”

The Succah roof with its small open spaces between the S’chach reminds us of our ability to see beyond the physical; to see with Shabbat eyes.

 

Paragraph Two – 1

“The Sea saw it and ran away. The Jordan River reversed course.” All the water in the world split as Israel entered the Sea. The Sefer HaChaim (Introduction) explains that had only the Red Sea split, people would have said that God split the water in order to punish the Egyptians. God therefore, split all the water in the world to demonstrate that the miracles were an expression of love for Israel.

We sing this chapter of Hallel to celebrate the countless expressions of love God gave Israel in the numerous Mitzvot of Succot.

 

Paragraph Two – 2

“Who turned the rock into a pool of water.” Manna, our bread that is usually produced from the earth’s harvest, fell from the heavens. Water, which usually falls from the heavens, came from the earth, a rock. God reversed the system we know to care for us. He sent us a message that there are no boundaries to His love for us.

We have moved outside into our Succot when everyone else is moving indoors to escape the cold. We too, reverse our lives to express our reciprocal love for God.

“We sing this Hallel with the same boundless love You manifested in the miracle of the water from the rock!”

 





 

Paragraph 2 – Four Species Hallel:

“Who turned the rock into a pool of water.

Pebbles into a source of water.”

God uses His creation at will to do as He wishes. The Midrash teaches that God made a condition with each creation before it assumed its form, to serve certain functions. The creations took this a step further:

“The Sea saw it and ran away.

The Jordan River reversed course.

The mountains danced like deer,

the hills like lambs.”


The creations independently respond to God’s manifestations, not only to His commands and wishes. The Four Species dance in our hands to the Hallel as if to express for all of creation, their honor of Him.

Paragraph 2 – Shabbat Chol HaMoed Hallel:

“The Sea saw it and ran away.” It is interesting how God made Moshe a public and active participant in the splitting of the Sea. God didn’t need Moshe, but wanted him to be the one who brought about the great miracle.

“And God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it; because that in it He rested from all His work which God in creating had made.” (Genesis 2:3) The Sages read the conclusion of the verse, “la’asot,” as, “so that we would all participate in the making of the world.”

Shabbat is a celebration of our creativity and important role in completing and perfecting God’s creation. It was not only Moshe, but all humanity that was invited to be active participants in the Creation.

Succot, according to Rabbi Akivah, reminds us of the booths we built in the desert with materials supplied by God, just as we built His home; the Mishkan. God wanted us to be active participants in His home, and our own.

We sing this paragraph with joy over the gift of being Participants, stressed by Shabbat and Succot.

 

Paragraph Three

This is the paragraph of Trusters, or people who are Botchim. This paragraph celebrates our conviction that God will take care of our needs, and guide us toward perfecting our souls.

The idea of Trusters is fundament to the laws of the Succah: Lavud, Dofen Akumah, etc. (See Succot Lecture Part One: “As If.”) God will fill in the empty spaces. God will “Bend the walls,” so to speak to help our Succah be kosher.

Trusters rely on God to help them accomplish their goals and fulfill their obligations.

We sing this paragraph in honor of all the “As If” laws of Succot. God will help us, Trusters, to achieve our goals.

Paragraph 3 – Four Species Hallel:

“They have mouths but do not speak,

they have eyes but do not see,

they have ears but do not hear,

they have noses but do not smell.

A hand – but do not feel.

Legs – but do not walk.

They do not even groan.

Their makers will become like them, all who trust in them.

Israel: Trust in God! Their Help and Protection!”


We speak of physical objects that cannot be anymore than what they are, even as we hold physical objects that have become so much more by virtue of being used for a Mitzvah. Our relationship with God is real, vibrant, and most importantly, empowering. The relationship allows us to transform the physical into living spiritual realities. The Four Species give voice to God’s praises, and to our being Transformers, empowered to raise the physical into new realities.

Paragraph 3 – Shabbat Chol HaMoed Hallel:

“Not we, God, not we,

but Your Name deserves honor for Your kindness, Your truth.

How can the pagans ask, “Where is their God?”

Now our God in the heavens did just what He desired.”


The Ma’asei Hashem (Ma’asei Mitzrayim, Chapter 13) explains that two revelations of God’s power took place in Egypt: The plagues proved that God has the power to compel someone to do His will. When God instructed the Children of Israel to borrow gold and silver from the Egyptians, which the former masters willingly did, God was proving that He has the power to convince someone to change his mind, not through force, but through awareness. The Egyptians became “friends,” to their former slaves.

The second revelation is described as “Your truth.”

We change our lives each Shabbat by observing the numerous and complex laws. We change our lives on Succot when we move out of our comfortable homes into the Succah. We honor the truth of God’s Torah and Mitzvot when we are willing to make such drastic changes from pure conviction and awareness.

We celebrate the clarity God gives us to perceive “Your truth,” as we sing this psalm.

 

Paragraph Four

“God remembered us and will bless – Bless the ‘House’ of Israel – Bless the ‘House’ of Aaron.” This paragraph has special resonance on Succot when we change “Houses.” We made a statement when we moved out of our homes into the Succah: “We define our home by our relationship with You, not by walls and a roof.”

This echoes the teaching of the opening Mishna in Yoma: It is written, “ And he shall make atonement for himself and for his house,” “His house,” that means, ‘his wife.’ A home is always defined by relationships, for the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur, and for us on Succot.

This paragraph rejoices on the home we have constructed in our relationship with God; a boundless home that reaches the Heavens.

Paragraph 4 – Four Species Hallel:

“The heavens are God’s, while the earth has been given to people.” “Were it not for My covenant with the day and night, I had not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth.” (Jeremiah 33:25) This heaven is that of which it is said, ““The heavens are God’s,” and this earth is the “land of the living,” comprising seven lands of which David said, “I will walk before the Lord in the lands of the living.” (Zohar, Volume 1 24b)

There are actually a total of seven in the Four Species: 1 Lulav + 1 Etrog + 3 Haddasim, + 2 Aravot, corresponding to the “seven lands,” mentioned by King David. They are the celebration of the Covenant of Torah that gives continued existence to the earth that has been given to us.

We also shake the Lulav in six directions with ourselves representing the seventh world, which can reach to the Heaven, which is God’s.

 

Paragraph 4 – Shabbat Chol HaMoed Hallel:

“God remembered us and will bless –

Bless the House of Israel –

Bless the House of Aaron

Bless those who are in awe of God, the insignificant with the great.

God will enhance you – you and your children.

You are blessed to God Who made the heavens and the earth.

The heavens are God’s, while the earth has been given to people.”


What parable fits the creation of the world? The parable of a king who had treasuries filled with good things, and who asked, “To what end are these things laid up? I shall get me servants, give them to eat and drink, so that they will praise me.” Just so the world was waste and empty, and the Holy One, Blessed is He, rose up and created the earth, and let man rule over every thing. Therefore, what ought we to do? To bless and praise our Creator. – Midrash Tehillim, 89:3

Shabbat is when we bless and praise our Creator for sharing His world with us by allowing us to be active participants in its perfection.

Succot is when we gather in the harvest, our work, and celebrate not only the food we have successfully grown, but that we were created to achieve and participate in creation. “You are blessed to God Who made the heavens and the earth. The heavens are God’s, while the earth has been given to people.”

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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12
Oct

Filling in the Gaps

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Music of Halacha

Filling in the Gaps

Waiting for Godot” follows two days in the lives of a pair of men who divert themselves while they wait expectantly and in vain for someone named Godot to arrive. They claim him as an acquaintance but in fact hardly know him, admitting that they would not recognize him were they to see him. To occupy themselves, they eat, sleep, converse, argue, sing, play games, exercise, swap hats, and contemplate suicide – anything “to hold the terrible silence at bay” (Wikipedia).

As often happens, I find myself waiting in line. Although a few days early, I feel as if it is Succot; a word (and structure) often associated with waiting:

“So that day Esau started on his way back to Seir. Jacob, however, went to Sukkoth, where he built a place for himself and made shelters for his livestock. That is why the place is called Sukkoth (Genesis 33:16-17).” Jacob was waiting to see what Esau’s next step would be.

“Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city (Jonah 4:5).”

I am waiting to see whether we will be able to eat in the Succah or if the rain will prevent us from fulfilling the Mitzvah.

It is impossible to read about the agreement to trade 1,000 terrorists for Gilad Shalit without waiting for he actual exchange to take place, waiting to see what these soon to be freed convicted killers will next do, and thinking about the Shalit family’s five years of waiting for Gilad and his waiting for his freedom.

What does the Succah teach us about waiting?

Unlike the marriage Chuppah, which has a roof but no walls, the Succah has walls but an incomplete roof. The new couple experiences God’s Presence and must now go out into the world and build their home. They are facing the world. The Succah, however, does not focus us out into the world, but, up, toward God. Yonah could not observe Nineveh from his succah; he had to exit to see, hence, the need for the Kikayon to provide shade when he was outside his Succah. He was too upset with God to wait for God’s next step. When he stepped outside his succah to watch the dastardly city, and was overwhelmed by the heat, God miraculously provided for him.

Jacob built his succah, not to wait for Esau’s next step, but for a hint from God as to Jacob’s next step. He was waiting for Divine guidance.

We too “wait” in our Succah. We will address building the future outside he walls when we shake our Four Species out toward all directions. Our Succah sitting is to focus our attention up, toward Heaven, waiting for our response to God’s Presence in our lives. There are gaps in the s’chach, aka Clouds, open spaces that represent the areas in our lives where we do not yet perceive God’s Presence. We can stare at the open spaces and wait, but nothing will happen. The S’chach will not magically expand and cover the open spaces. Nothing is accomplished by our sitting and waiting for God to fill the gaps in our lives where we feel Him missing. Yes, we are waiting; waiting to see how we will choose to fill the gaps.

The “Four Species,” when pointed up, can be our tools to actively fill the gaps we experience when looking up toward Heaven. We can accept responsibility to fill in all the gaps that still remain after Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Perhaps then we will experience the same sense of freedom that Gilad will hopefully taste in the next few days.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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11
Oct

Succot Contradictions

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Spiritual Growth

I love water. I love the ocean. I love waterfalls. I love to go whitewater rafting. I love to swim. I love the Mikvah – Ritual Bath.

I hate water. I hate finding water on the floor of my study. I hate when our garage is flooded. I hate having my clothes soaked by rain.

I was listening to a tape of Rav Soloveitchik zt”l as I was walking to shul. It was pouring rain, but I was so moved by the power of his thought and words, that I simply stood on the sidewalk with tears streaming down my face, feeling that I was being showered with the joy of Torah. I loved each drop of rain. I treasured each tear. Until, that is, a truck drove past me and splashed filthy water from the street all over me. I hated that filthy water.

Twenty years later I can recall the joy of hearing Rav Soloveitchik’s Torah. The puddle of dirty water is a distant memory. The experience in hindsight was joyous. The contradiction faded with the bad memories.

Hurricane Agnes (1971) confined us to our home. It was cozy being nice and dry and warm in my home even as it seemed that the world outside the window was coming to an end. The day got even better when I had the opportunity to spend the day learning with my father zt”l. I wondered how something so wonderful as Agnes could be so scary to most people. It was a heavenly day, at least until the basement flooded. The learning stopped and the work began. I hated hurricanes; they were no longer so wonderful.

Almost forty years later I can describe the joy of learning with my father, what we were studying, the insights he taught, with the same thrill I experienced when we were learning. The work cleaning up the water is far removed from my memory. The experience in hindsight was joyous. The contradiction faded with the bad memories.

The stories had both good and bad, joy and frustration. The memories are joyful. The bad parts have been diluted by time and even more so by the joyous memories.

Everything on Succot is about water and yet, we do not want it to rain until Shemini Atzeret. Rain will stop us from sitting in the Succah and create the feeling that somehow God is rejecting our Succot. We simultaneously love and hate water on Succot.

Perhaps the joy of Succot – Z’man Simchateinu – the Time of Our Happiness – derives from the sense that we can live with contradictory feelings. Life does not have to be one or the other. Succot, the Time of Happiness, is also referred to as “Yom HaRishon” – The First Day of the Counting of Sins.

Perhaps there is no contradiction between the Time of Happiness and The First Day of the counting of sins: It is difficult to readjust to our daily lives after Yom Kippur. We can become easily frustrated with the ease with which so easily slip back into old patterns of behavior, making the same mistakes for which we were forgiven on Yom Kippur. Yet, the Torah tells us, this period when we face the same imperfections as before Yom Kippur is our Time of Happiness, we cannot define ourselves, tempting as it may be after all the Yom Kippur confessions, by our mistakes and faults. We must find the joy in our lives, what is good and productive. Our Succot mission is to recall the joyous parts of our lives and allow the bad parts to fade and disappear.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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