Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

29
Jun

Kinah 4-Salieri & Mozart

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

Salieri: Men say there is no justice upon earth.

But neither is there justice in the heavens!

That’s clear to me as any simple scale.

For I was born with a great love for art:

When – still a child – I heard the organ peal

Its lofty measures through our ancient church,

I listened all attention – and sweet tears,

Suite and involuntary tears would flow.

Though young, I spurned all frivolous pursuits:

All studies else than music were to me

Repugnant; and with stubborn arrogance

I turned from them to dedicate myself

To music only. Hard is the first step

And tiresome the first journey. I overcame

Early discomfitures; and craftsmanship

I set up as a pedestal for art;

Only then, tested and proved in science,

I ventured to indulge creative fancy. I started to create, but secretly,

Not daring yet even to dream of glory.

At last fame deigned

To smile on me; and in the hearts of men

I found an echo to my own creation.

Then I was happy, and enjoyed in peace

My labors, my success, my fame

My fellow workers in the art divine.

But now, myself I say it, now

I do know envy! Yes, Salieri envies,

Deeply, in anguish envies, O ye Heavens!

Where, where is justice, when the sacred gift,

When deathless genius comes not to reward

Perfervid love and utter self-denial,

And toils and strivings and beseeching prayers,

But puts her halo round a lackwit’s skull,

A frivolous idler’s brow? O Mozart, Mozart!

(Aleksandr Pushkin, ‘Mozart and Salieri’)

Ezekiel, Chapter 23, depicts the kingdoms of the Ten Tribes and of Judah as to unfaithful wives, Ohola and Oholiva – Her Tent and Her Tent Is In Her – Samaria, the capital of the Ten Tribes, was constructed as a replica of Jerusalem with her temple, but the real Temple was not there. It was in Jerusalem, the capital of Judah, in which Her Tent, the Temple, stood.

I read this Kinah, this conversation between Jerusalem and Samaria, through the eyes of Pushkin’s description of the conversations between Salieri and Mozart:

Mozart: The merest trifle. One night lately,

As I was tossing on my sleepless bed,

Into my head came two or three ideas.

Today I wrote them down, and I should like

To hear your comments on them; but at present

You can’t attend to me.

Salieri listens to what Mozart described as a “merest trifle.”

Salieri: If he lives on, then all of us will perish-

High priests and servants of the art of music-

Not I alone with my overshadowed glory.

And what will it avail if Mozart live

And scale still higher summits of perfection?

Will he thereby raise art itself? No, no,

‘Twill fall again, when once he disappears.

He will not leave a single heir behind.

Then what can he avail us? Like a cherub

He brings to us some songs of paradise,

And awakens in us children of the dust

A wingless longing, then he flies away!

Imagine the people of Samaria looking toward Jerusalem and wondering I what merit did they have God’s Temple in their midst. Why did a relatively insignificant city such as Jerusalem have the privilege of the Holy Temple at its center? Did the Temple change the inhabitants of Jerusalem? Did it make a mark on them? Did it leave a mark on the people of Judah? How can we look to such greatness without understanding its place in our normal lives?

How did the people of Jerusalem respond when hearing such laments from Samaria? Did they know how to respond to these questions?

Do we?

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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15
Sep

The Walk

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Portion of the Week

Almost forty years before this week’s portion of Vayeilech, “And we (Moshe) walked,”    God began revelation by saying, “Thus shalt you say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel,” understood as an instruction to teach each person in the manner with which he or she could relate. Strangely, we never find Moshe speaking to each individual in this personalized manner. Rather, “Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which God commanded him.”

And God said to Moses: “Go, Lech, to the people,” reminiscent of His first charge to Abraham, “Go from your country, Lech Lecha,” and, again, we find that Moshe seems to do something other than what God commanded, “And Moses went down from the mount to the people,” he did not Lech, go, but ‘went down.’

Until this week’s portion, Vayeilech, “And Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel.” It seems that on this, the final day of Moshe’s life, he fulfilled the Lech of long ago, and the personalized instruction first commanded at Sinai, because Vayeilech is understood as Moshe going to each family to offer personalized words of farewell.

Abraham too ends the significant part of his life as patriarch with a Lech: “And He said: ‘Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go, lech lecha, into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell you of’.”

Moshe could not fulfill the personalized Lech until the end of his life, when he could go to each person with an individual message. The commandment of Sinai was to take them on a journey that would culminate in this sense of Lech, a personalized message that would allow each his or her individual journey with God.

We read of Abraham’s ultimate Lech on the second day of Rosh Hashanah, because his journey too was one that would serve as an example of walking with God, journeying through life with God; the real challenge and blessing of Rosh Hashanah: Discover your own personal journey through life.

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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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26
Aug

BNN Reports: Scandal Rocks Victory Parade

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in 613 Concepts, Portion of the Week

This is Simcha Weinberg reporting for the BNN, The Biblical News Network, from a victory parade for our soldiers returning from a battle to expand the boundaries of Israel; a celebration that was marred by scandal! A soldier returned home dragging a captured woman behind him. When asked why he brought this enemy woman home with him, he replied, “I saw this woman in middle of battle and my passion was inflamed. The Torah allowed me to grab her.”

“What do you mean that you were permitted to grab her?”

“Well, I wasn’t exactly sure because I learned in yeshiva that there is a debate between Rashi and the Ramban on the one hand, and Tosafot on the other, as to what exactly I was permitted to do.”

“Let me understand, you said that you were allowed to grab her because your passion was inflamed, and that the Torah was acknowledging your uncontrollable desire. Then you said, that despite your inflamed passion, you were still concerned about exactly what it was the Torah gave you permission to do!”

“If your passion was controlled enough for you to consider what you were permitted to do, then how could you say that your passion was uncontrollable?”

“May I ask what you ended up doing?”

The soldier refused to answer. He wanted his privacy.

He may have desired privacy but everyone in the community was talking. The women were looking at their husbands and sons and wondering what they were doing during the battle. Many women were overheard insisting, “My son would never do such a thing!” Some were overheard saying, “If my husband did anything like that, I’ll kill him”

The BNN decided to remain in the city and follow this story as it developed.

All the local sermons this past Shabbat were based on the same idea: “The juxtaposition of the first three laws in this week’s portion, the captured woman, the hated wife, and a rebellious child, are in themselves an implicit argument against this sort of liaison, for after giving the laws of the captive woman, the Torah speaks of a hated wife, and then an incorrigibly rebellious child.” The implication, insisted all the local rabbis, is that there is a chain reaction.  The improper infatuation with a captive woman will lead to one family tragedy after another!

I caught up with our soldier as he stormed from the synagogue immediately upon hearing the humiliating sermon, and asked for his reaction.

“How can the rabbis be so critical of my behavior when in my moment of ‘uncontrollable passion’ I still followed the letter of the law! How can they describe my behavior at this point as ‘inflamed passion’ when I am willing to go through the entire process of a month adhering to every detail of the law before deciding what I will do with her! This isn’t uncontrolled passion; it is passion directed by the letter of the law!”

The community is humming with debate regarding this soldier and his captive woman. Many women are insisting that they will not allow their sons and husbands to join the Army in the next  battle that is not specifically for the safety and security of the nation.

The eyes of the nation are turned to the King, David, who is universally regarded as our leader and teacher. Many are hesitant to directly ask King David for his input, because, as you all know, he once took a captive woman and he ended up having a rebellious child, Avshalom. Many quietly reflect that they are convinced that Avshalom originally chose to become a Nazirite to reject to his father’s behavior with uncontrolled passion. It’s interesting to note that Avshalom’s approach of containing his desires by becoming a Nazirite did not work for him, but that King David became the beautiful spiritual force that continues to live in the heart of all of Israel despite, or even because of, his great passion.

We hope to be able to interview the King and share his thoughts with our beloved audience. Please stay tuned to the BNN for further developments. You are welcome to submit your questions for the king.

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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25
Aug

Eating Habits

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in 613 Concepts, Portion of the Week

We should look for someone with whom to eat and drink before looking for something to eat and drink, for dining alone and is leading the life of a lion or wolf (Epicurus).”

I’m not so sure that finding someone with whom to share a feast is necessarily going to protect a person from living the life of a wild beast. Bohumil Hrabal in “I Served The King of England,” describes a feast of wild antelope and roasted camel, the animals stolen from the local zoo, to honor Emperor Haley Selassie in 1939 Prague. As far as Hrabal was concerned, this was a meal of a wild beast.

I guess we can’t criticize anyone for their diet, as many would be disgusted by Cholent or steak. Of course, we would all agree that the dish of Powdered Wife described by John Smith (The Generall Historie of Virginia,) certainly qualifies as the meal of the beast.

How would we judge the enormous feasts consumed by the Rebellious Child? Does it qualify as something very strange, such as the meal prepared for Haley Selassie, or is it more like the meal of Powdered Wife? Perhaps, his eating habits are of concern because of Epicurus’s dictum against eating alone; his eating habits reflect a person who stands alone against the rest of the world.

Nachmanides explains that part of his sin is, “because he is a glutton, and a drunkard, transgressing that which we have been commanded, “You shall be holy (Leviticus 19:2),” and “He shall you serve, and to Him shall you cleave (Deuteronomy 13:5),” and we are commanded to know God in all our ways, and a glutton and a drunkard does not know the way of God.

It certainly doesn’t seem that Nachmanides sees this young man as a wild beast consuming a feast of antelope and camel, and certainly not a dish of Powdered Wife, but that he is someone who is he eating habits display that he is a person who does not know the way of God. I am confident that my eating habits do not reflect the strange dishes served to the Emperor of Ethiopia or the Powdered Wife consumed by a starving man in 1609 Jamestown, but I wonder whether my eating habits reflect someone who knows the way of God.

This is not about the ritual washing of hands before a meal, nor about the blessings before and after the meal, and it is not about our conversations while eating, but a description of the way we eat. Does our Netilat Yada’im lead us to be careful in the way we eat? Does our mention of God as King in our blessings before the meal remind us to eat as royalty, reflecting the way of God? It isn’t even about how we hold a knife and fork, because for ages people ate with their hands.

This is a lesson in eating with a sense of sanctity, and using eating as a way to attach to our Infinite Creator. I can’t do it when eating a candy bar, I have enough difficulty when eating a Shabbat meal.

I found that applying Epicurus’ rule led me to always imagine myself as setting in the eating at God’s table; I’m not alone. I’m aware that I am eating in the presence of Someone else. “When you sit down to dine with a ruler, know well what lies before you, put a knife to your throat if you are master of your soul. Do not lust for his delicacies, for it is deceitful bread (Proverbs 23:1–3).” King Solomon is teaching us that when we learn how to live life as one who is eating at the Kings table, we will learn how to master our desires in life. To ignore God’s presence even while we’re eating, is to act as did the mythical Rebellious Child.

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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24
Jul

Inspiring Good

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Relationships

“And those who bring the people to do the right thing shall be as the stars, eternal (Daniel 12:3).” The Midrash comments: Just as one sees the light of the stars from one end of the world to the other, so, too, one sees the light of Good People from one end of the world to the other. Just as the stars are sometimes visible and at other times hidden, so, too, with Good People. Just as the clusters of stars are so numerous they cannot be counted, so, too, the groups of Good People are innumerable (Sifre Devarim, Eikev, 11:47).”

The righteous, or the Good People, are described by Daniel as, “those who bring the many to do the right thing.” During the Three Weeks, when we suffer the consequences of baseless hatred, perhaps we should consider Daniel’s lesson and focus on being counted among those who inspire others to do the right thing.

After the reading of Lamentations on the night of Tisha b’Av, the final Kinah, “How long must Zion cry and Jerusalem mourn,” we speak of the 12 signs of the zodiac, based on the Talmud (Chagigah 5b) which describes how, after the destruction of the Temples, even the heavenly hosts joined in mourning with Israel. Rather than mourn the weeping of the constellations, we can become, as described by Daniel and the Midrash above, as new constellations of light in the world.

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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4
Apr

The Conference of the Birds

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

One of my favorite parts of the Haggadah is the part that isn’t there: Moshe’s role in redeeming Israel, an appropriate message for groups gathered for the Seder:

In the 12th Century poem, The Conference of the Birds, the birds of the world gather to decide who is to be their king, as they have none. The hoopoe, the wisest of them all, suggests that they should find the legendary Simorgh, a mythical Persian bird roughly equivalent to the Western phoenix. The hoopoe leads the birds, each of whom represent a human fault which prevents man from attaining enlightenment. When the group of thirty birds finally reach the dwelling place of the Simorgh, all they find is a lake in which they see their own reflection.

The story recounts the longing of a group of birds who desire to know the great Simorgh, and who, under the guidance of a leader bird, start their journey toward the land of Simorgh. One by one, they drop out of the journey, each offering an excuse and unable to endure the journey. Each bird has a special significance, and a corresponding didactic fault. The guiding bird is the hoopoe, while the nightingale symbolizes the lover. The parrot is seeking the fountain of immortality, not God and the peacock symbolizes the “fallen soul” who is in alliance with Satan. The thirty birds seeking the Simorgh realize that Simorgh is nothing more than their transcendent totality.

We have a similar story in the Book of Judges, when Yotam, the only surviving child of Gideon, responds to the people who have chosen to follow Avimelech:

“When Yotam was told about this, he climbed up on the top of Mount Gerizim and shouted to them, ‘Listen to me, citizens of Shechem, so that God may listen to you:

‘One day the trees went out to anoint a king for themselves. They said to the olive tree, ‘Be our king.’

‘But the olive tree answered, ‘Should I give up my oil, by which both gods and humans are honored, to hold sway over the trees?’

‘Next, the trees said to the fig tree, ‘Come and be our king.’

‘But the fig tree replied, ‘Should I give up my fruit, so good and sweet, to hold sway over the trees?’

‘Then the trees said to the vine, ‘Come and be our king.’

‘But the vine answered, ‘Should I give up my wine, which cheers both gods and humans, to hold sway over the trees?’

‘Finally all the trees said to the thornbush, ‘Come and be our king.’

‘The thornbush said to the trees, ‘If you really want to anoint me king over you, come and take refuge in my shade; but if not, then let fire come out of the thornbush and consume the cedars of Lebanon!’ (Judges 9:7-15).”

Yotam sends a message to Avimelech’s followers, and to us; we lose ourselves when we search for that one person who will take care of everything, who will save us, guide us, and lead us to freedom. It is not the one person, but, to “see their own reflection,” and to realize that what we seek, “is nothing more than their transcendent totality,” what we have when we soar together at the Seder, challenging each other, arguing about ideas that matter to us, questioning God’s role in history and the definition of freedom.

No, Moshe does not directly appear in the Haggadah, because it is not a story about him, but about us.

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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31
Mar

Bikkurim-In Our Times

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

“When you have entered the land God your Lord is giving you as an inheritance and have taken possession of it and settled in it, take some of the first-fruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land God your Lord is giving you and put them in a basket. Then go to the place God your Lord will choose as a dwelling for His Name and say to the kohen in office at the time, “I declare today to the God, your Lord that I have come to the land God swore to our ancestors to give us.”  The kohen shall take the basket from your hands and set it down in front of the altar of God, your Lord. Then you shall declare before God, your Lord: [The text we study as part of the Haggadah:] ‘My father was almost destroyed by an Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous.  But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, subjecting us to harsh labor.  Then we cried out to God, the Lord of our ancestors, and God heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression. So God brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; and now I bring the first=fruits of the soil that you, God, have given me.’ Place the basket before God, your Lord and bow down before him. Then you and the Levites and the foreigners residing among you shall rejoice in all the good things the God, your Lord, has given to you and your household (Deuteronomy 26:1-11).”

The director of Zaka being interviewed tells how on the way to Eretz Yisroel with the woman who has just lost her family, she says to him that she wants to give one last hug to her daughter so he brings her to the funeral home and she gives her daughter a hug and says to him “you’re from avodat hakodesh right?” “please say at the kotel that I brought my first fruits; that I brought the best of my children as a sacrifice”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Idwr9cZc-u8

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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13
Mar

Impurity in the Relationship

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Portion of the Week

This week’s Haftarah begins, “Again the word of God came to me: ‘Son of man, the house of Israel are living in their own land, they defile it by their conduct and their actions. Their conduct was as the impurity of a menstruous woman in my sight’ (Ezekiel 36:16-17).” The Radak explains: The impurity of a menstruous woman is temporary; it lasts until her period ends and she goes to the Mikvah, hinting that the impurity of the House of Israel is temporary, and can be purified. The metaphor hints that God will eventually restore His relationship with the House of Israel just as a husband returns to his wife when she is purified.

This is one of those times when I read a verse and can recite the morning blessing, “Who did not make me a woman,” with extra intention! What a horrible message to send to women! Is a woman to feel that her period with its separation is similar to Israel in exile because of their sins?

A woman doesn’t have a choice whether to menstruate. The impurity happens to her. Is God implying to Ezekiel that the House of Israel is the victim of its impurity? The metaphor hints that the conduct of the House of Israel happened to them as a period happens to a woman!

The tense also implies that this impurity is endemic to whenever the House of Israel dwells in their own land; Ezekiel is addressing the exiles who are living in Babylon, outside of Israel, and yet he says, “The House of Israel are living in their own land, they defile it,” in the present tense.

I suggest that the “impurity” is not that of the actual period, and that the “menstruating woman” is not a woman who is having her period, but a woman who is still in the stage of life when she has a regular period:

Imagine a couple who are having the most intense physical and emotional intimacy of their lives for two weeks. They are experiencing the deepest connection to each other and feel unified as never before. They both know that, as wonderful as these two weeks are, the woman will soon have her period, and the physical intimacy will be temporarily suspended. They want the emotional intimacy to continue, but they wonder whether it will last despite their physical separation. The “period” with its distance is present in their minds even as they are so connected. The question, “Will it last?” is a constant, even when all is well. There is a hint of “impurity,” or separation, even in their deep connection.

Is our relationship with God any different? Do we not wonder “Will it last?” even in our moments of deepest connection with God? Is there not a constant hint of separation even when we are attached to God?

Even when the “the house of Israel are living in their own land,” we know that we can lose our land, and question the consistency of our relationship with God. The question introduces a hint of separation into our, “conduct and their actions.” That is the impurity God is describing to Ezekiel.

[Consider the Golden Calf, for which the Red Heifer is brought as an atonement, and how the Children of Israel needed physical intimacy with God.]

[Consider the metaphor of why an impure person may not enter the Tabernacle grounds: someone who lives with the question, “How long will it last?” may not enter the place of deepest physical intimacy with God.]

There is a challenge in this metaphor of rebuke: “You are in exile. You are separated from God’s House and land. If you experience the distance as damaging the relationship; that without physical intimacy you cannot have emotional connection, you are not ready to return to the land! You may return, but you will still relate to Me with that seed of “impurity” and separation, wondering how long all this will last.”

“However, if you connect with Me despite the physical separation, you will learn to experience physical intimacy with Me, living in My land, coming to My house, without doubt, insecurity, a seed of impurity.”

This is the only way that Ezekiel can introduce his revolutionary approach in this, the Haftarah of Parah…

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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8
Mar

Tolstoy and the Golden Calf Part Three

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

“Before Yeravam ben Nevat, the people of Israel nursed from a single calf. Thereafter, they nursed from three; the one of the Golden Calf and the two of Yeravam (Sanhedrin 102a).”

How could the person about whom the Talmud says, “The Torah knowledge of Yeravam was flawless (Sanhedrin 102a),” and that “the entire Torah was an open field to him, and he discovered new insights that no ear had ever heard (ibid.),” introduce such a idol worship to the people?

“He seated a wicked man beside a righteous man and asked them, ‘ Will you sign to everything I do?’

‘ Yes,’ they replied.

‘ I would like to be king over you,’ he said.

‘ Very well,’ they replied.

‘ Will you fulfill all that I command you?’

‘ Yes,’ they replied.

‘ Even if it be to worship idols?’

‘ Heaven forbid,’ said the righteous people.

The wicked men said to the righteous men, ‘ Do you think a man like Yeravam would worship idols? He merely wishes to test you and see if you will obey him.’

Even Achiah haShiloni erred and signed (Sanhedrin 101b).” There is danger in allowing a single person to hold such unlimited power. This was Yeravam’s argument.

This was his argument with King Solomon.

This was his fear of Jerusalem: “If this people goes up to offer sacrifices (I Kings 12:27).” Yeravam said, “It is a tradition that no one may sit in the inner courtyard of the Temple except for the kings of the House of Judah. When they see Rechavam sitting while I stand, they will think, ‘ This one is the true king; that one, the slave.’ If I too sit, I will be in rebellion against the kingdom. Then they will slay me and follow Rechavam.”

The people insist on breaking away from the House of Judah and yet they acknowledge that only a descendant of that House may sit in the inner courtyard of the Temple. The people who are insisting on breaking away into a separate kingdom, will perceive anyone else who sits in that place as rebelling against the kingdom! Even the people who are rejecting the King will still honor him! They do not know what they really want. There is nothing more dangerous than having a single human being with unlimited power “Tolstoy and the Golden Calf-Part Two”) leading people who are unsure of what they want; “Tolstoy and the Golden Calf”. Such a person is always in danger of becoming a Golden Calf himself.

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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29
Feb

Midrash Esther Chapter IV-1-Recusal

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

In “Consultations,” we offered five views of Achashveirosh: Achashveirosh believes that his ascension to the throne was guided by the constellations, or, Achashveirosh as Bill Clinton, Achashveirosh who believes that he is a man with a great destiny, a man determined that every decision be perceived as a ruling by the Supreme Court expressing his deep commitment to law and structure, and finally, who understands a king that for some reason he will need Jewish support to succeed as King. We will have to examine the sages’ decision to recuse themselves from the perspective of each of these descriptions of Achashveirosh.

The Midrash continues: The wicked Achashveirosh said to them, “Seeing that I ordered Vashti to appear before me naked and she refused, what is to be her punishment?”

They replied, “Your Majesty, when we were in our own land, we used to inquire of the Urim and Tummim, but now we are tossed about,” and they quoted to him the verse, “Moab has been at ease from his youth, and he has settled on his lees, and not being poured from container to container, and did not go into exile; therefore his taste has stayed in him, and his scent was not diminished (Jeremiah 48:11).” [Esther Rabbah 4:1]

We must note that the verse never explicitly states that Achashveirosh ordered Vashti to appear naked before him. We must also note that when Achashveirosh later consults with other people, he does not mention anything about Vashti appearing naked; he simply describes her as refusing to obey his command. The Midrash wants us to understand that when Achashveirosh consulted with Jewish sages, he was not embarrassed to mention the “naked” issue.

If it’s true that the sages successfully recused themselves from this decision because they no longer had the wisdom for which they were famous, why would Achashveirosh keep Mordechai in such a lofty position in the palace? If Achashveirosh was deliberate in asking for the advice of these wise men, how could they refuse? Why would they believe that a verse in Jeremiah would convince Achashveirosh that he should consult with people of Moab, and not because of any great wisdom of theirs, but because they had not suffered exile and captivity?

How is their response calculated to address all of the above descriptions of Achashveirosh?

“Our wisdom has obviously not been sufficient to save us from suffering, captivity, and exile. If you seek people of destiny, seek it somewhere else. If you seek to connect with our great past, then look to the words of a great prophet, Jeremiah, and follow his advice by turning to a nation that seems to have been blessed with destiny, political smarts, stability and  a solid structure.”

The fact that Achashveirosh is unashamed to openly speak of his demand that Vashti appear naked, indicates that despite his belief in their wisdom, there was a part of him that looked at these men with disdain.

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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