Posts Tagged ‘Torah’

6
Jul

Balak and Balaam: As Others See Us

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week, Spiritual Growth

O would some Power the gift to give us

To see ourselves as others see us!

It would from many a blunder free us…

Robert Burns: “To a Louse”

Balak and Balaam offer us a wonderful opportunity: Balak hired Balaam to curse the Children of Israel. The king of Moab was terrified that Moses would lead his nation in battle against Moab and capture her cities and decimate her armies as Israel had done to Sihon the king of the Amorites.

Just a few portions earlier, the spies complained, “we were grasshoppers in the yes of the Canaanites.” Now we read of a king who saw us as giants and felt as vulnerable as a grasshopper. Did the Children of Israel understand how others perceived them?

Balak hired Balaam, the great prophet, because the Midianites had advised him that Moses’ power was in his mouth – his ability to communicate directly with God. Did the Children of Israel appreciate how others perceived them and their leader?

Balaam’s curses/blessings afford us ample insight into how an outsider, an enemy, perceived the greatness of Israel: Balaam celebrated their sense of community and modesty: “How goodly are your tents Jacob!” Did the Children of Israel know how even their enemies acknowledged their strengths?

The gentile prophet honored the role that Israel would play in history. He understood how they would survive as “A nation that would dwell on its own,” separate, but strong in their nationhood. Did the nation camped around the Mishkan – Tabernacle – unaware that Balaam was standing on a mountain observing them and honoring the great role they were to play in history?

The Children of Israel did not know that Balaam was there. They were unaware of the great respect and awe in which Balak and Balaam held them. Balaam knew this as well, and was able to suggest to Balak a devastating strategy to corrupt a nation unaware of its own greatness.

Would the Children of Israel have sinned with the daughters of Moab if they were aware of their greatness, or if they had an inkling of how others perceived them? I think not.

Perhaps this portion can serve as a reminder to stop and consider how others perceive 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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30
Jun

What Would Moshe Have Done? Part One

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Spiritual Growth

In the year 427 B.C.E., a ship sailed from Athens for the Greek island of Mytilene, a region that had revolted against Athenian rule and lost. They had colluded with Athens’s greatest rival, Sparta. The soldiers on the warship were instructed to kill every Mytilenian and enslave every woman and child. However, back home in Athens a great debate raged whether such a harsh response was the proper strategy. Cleon, son of Cleaenetus, argued that to show mercy is to show weakness, and being perceived as weak would only invite further rebellion. Cleon insisted that Athens must project strength and determination. Diodotus, son of Eucrates, argued that the intended slaughter will only incite more desperate rebellion and convince others to fight to the bitter end rather than surrender since they would be annihilated even if they surrendered. Future conflicts would almost certainly last longer and be more costly in both lives and treasure. A vote was taken and Diodotus won the day. A quicker ship was sent to stop the warship.

We can hear echoes of Cleon and Diodotus in the commentaries reading of two stories in Parashat Chukat: Moshe backed down from a conflict with Edom, He requested permission from Edom’s king for Israel to pass through his territory and was refused. Moshe would not battle Edom, the rightful heir of Esau in the land Jacob’s brother received as his inheritance. (Numbers 20:14-21) Moshe avoided conflict with Edom only to face Sihon, king of the Amorite, a short while later. Moshe sent a similar request to Sihon: “Allow us to pass through your land.” Sihon refused and gathered his armies believing that he would successfully intimidate Israel and stop the traveling nation at his borders. Sihon was wrong. Israel fought and Sihon was destroyed. (21:21-24)

Did Sihon perceive Moshe and Israel as weak willed because of their detour around Edom and their unwillingness to fight? Would Sihon have avoided battle if Israel had warred and won against Edom?

The Cleons argue that Moshe was responsible for the conflict with Sihon because he did not project strength and determination. Diodotus and his followers supported Moshe’s actions.

We continue to debate the arguments of Cleon and Diodotus: The 2006 war in Lebanon against Hezbollah, and the recent war in Gaza against Hamas, were intended to project Israel’s unbending will and determination. What would Moshe have done? Would we have seen the Moshe who avoided battle with Edom? Or, would the Moshe who destroyed Sihon have led us into battle?

There are times when we forget that the stories of the Torah continue to resonate in practical ways on the world stage and 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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24
Jun

Where Do We Stand? Reflections on Korach

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week, Spiritual Growth

Thales is usually known as the 6th Century BCE philosopher who coined the phrase; “Know thyself.” He also famously predicted the solar eclipse of 585 BCE.

He once asked to be taken outdoors by a Thracian girl so he could continue his brilliant study of the heavens. She took him outside and he fell into a ditch as he was studying the stars. On hearing his cry, she said, “How can you expect to know about all the heavens, Thales, when you cannot even see what is just beneath your feet?”

I used to wonder why Moshe chose that the earth swallow Korach and his followers. Perhaps Thales’ Thracian girl has the key: Korach and his group wanted to soar to the heavens, even if their journey meant that they would have to challenge Moses, the man who had lived in the heavens. I can hear the girl challenging Korach; “How can you expect to know about all the heavens, Korach, when you cannot even see what is just beneath your feet?”

I often meet people who are so focused on the heavens, a.k.a. their spiritual lives, that they forget to see the earth beneath their feet. Picture the man slamming a door in the face of someone else so they can kiss the Mezuzah. (The story was recently twitted to me.) We are making the same mistake as Korach and Thales when we ignore others in order to soar closer to God.

We cannot afford to forget the three thousand year old question of a young Thracian girl: How can you expect to know about all the heavens when you cannot even see what is just beneath your feet?”

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
Jun

A Bow For One’s Students

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week, Relationships

“Moses heard and fell on his face.” (16:4)

I wonder how I would have reacted upon seeing Moshe bow and fall on his face.

I suspect that I would have immediately fallen on my face and waited for Moshe to signal that it was all right to rise. But the people did not fall on their faces; they watched, unmoved by the reaction of their great leader. Perhaps they shrugged off this terrifying scene because this was not the first time: “Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before the entire congregation of the assembly of the Children of Israel.” (Numbers 14:5)

Is it possible that Moshe and Aaron were not bowing in weakness, or sadness, or fear, but as a lesson? How was it received, if it was a lesson?

“Then Israel prostrated himself towards the head of the bed.” (Genesis 47:31) “As the proverb says; “When the fox has his hour, bow down to him.” (Rashi) Jacob bowed to his son, Joseph, who was at his hour as the viceroy of Egypt.

I was extremely uncomfortable when my father zt”l would visit a synagogue where I was rabbi and insist that the congregation wait for me and not for him. I cannot even imagine watching my father bow to me! How could Joseph even bear to watch his father, Israel, bow to him? How could the Children of Israel stand and nonchalantly watch their teacher Moshe bow before or to them?

The Message:

The Brothers Karamazov begins with a confrontation among members of a scattered family. Three sons, all strangers to one another, and a dissolute, cynical father gather for the first time to discuss a quarrel about money, meeting, of all places, at a monastery: specifically, in the hermitage of Father Zosima, a man with a reputation, depending on your view, of either holiness or foolishness. The argument centers upon the eldest son, Dmitri, and his negligent father, Fyodor, and quickly takes on the appearance of a trial, with each man appealing to the elder Zosima for “justice”. But then, the narrator informs us, “the whole scene was stopped in a most unexpected manner”: “The elder suddenly rose from his place and stepped toward Dmitri Fyodrovich and, having come close to him, knelt before him. Kneeling in front of Dmitri, the elder bowed down at his feet with a full, distinct, conscious bow, and even touched the floor with his forehead. “Forgive me! Forgive me, all of you!’ he said, bowing on all sides to his guests.”

The elder Zosima bows to the ground before Dmitri who is suffering. He does not judge, for he knows from within himself this pettiness and arrogance. He sees himself darkly in Dmitri, and knows that this seeing is a gift. His bow and words simply return the gift purified.

Is it possible that Moshe’s bow was a message that he understood the nation’s response to the spies’ report? Was Moshe sending a message to Korach that he understood Korach’s issues: both the ones on Korach’s consciousness and those issues underlying his rebellion?

Did Moshe observe Korach and gain insight into himself? The Ba’al Shem Tov often taught that we observe in others what we do not want to see in ourselves. (Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer used this idea to explain Proverbs 4:25)

Perhaps Moshe’s fall to the ground was an acknowledgement of what he perceived as his own shortcomings; a message to all of Israel that he was aware of his limitations.

I wonder whether anyone watching had enough insight to reflect on the powerful image of Moshe falling on his face. I imagine chills running up and down my spine at the tangible expression of Moshe’s humility. I picture myself forever changed by the scene. The participants were unmoved. Their hearts were sealed by their anger and resentment.

Imagine anger so intense that it is impenetrable even by such an awesome expression of Moshe’s humility.

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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16
Jun

The Emperor’s New Clothes

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Spiritual Growth

“Joshua, son of Nun, and Caleb son of Jephunneh, of the spies of the land, tore their clothes.” (Numbers 14:6) Whose clothes did they tear? The Kotzker explains that they torn the clothes of high position off the backs of the other spies. The first step is to expose the Emperor’s New Clothes. We often fall into the trap of measuring others by their externals and Joshua and Caleb wanted to expose the other spies for what they really were.

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
May

What’s Inside?

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

In Honor of Rabbi Moshe Stepansky and his comment to “The Futurist“: The Tanchumah (Bamidbar 2) teaches: This can be compared to a ruler who entered a province, and when its citizens saw him they fled. He entered a second province and the citizens ran away. He then went into a remote town, and when the citizens saw him, they began praising him. The ruler said, “This is the best city in the province. I will build my house here and I will live here too.” So too, when the Holy One, Blessed is He, came to the sea, it ran away from Him, as it is stated, “The sea saw and fled.” (Psalms 114:3) He appeared on Mount Sinai and they fled, as it is stated, “The mountains skipped like rams.” (Verse 4) He came to a remote wilderness, they, Yisrael, received Him and praised Him, as it is stated, “The wilderness and its cities will raise their voices in song.” (Isaiah 42:11) The Holy One, Blessed is He, descended into it, as it is stated, “The wilderness and the wasteland will rejoice over them, the wilderness will be glad and blossom like a lily.” (Isaiah 35:1)

This is an astounding Midrash, however we will attempt to explain it: Behold, all the miracles that God performed were in order that all should recognize and know that He is the Creator of all, and guides all that exists in both the upper and lower worlds, to do with them according to His Will. God implanted this belief in their hearts, and this, was the purpose of all the miracles.

This awareness was not temporary, for, although it did not actively function in them after time, it exists in their hearts as a “Zechair,” a living memory, as the verse says, “He made a memorial for His wonders.” (Psalms 11:4)

However, the Torah that God gave us, can be used to conceive His Divinity and Unity, and how He exercises Providence over all that exists.

This is the explanation of the verse, “The Tablets were God’s handiwork, and the writing was the writing of God.” (Exodus 32:16) God is “written into the Torah,” so to speak, and a person is able to conceive God’s actions through toil in Torah.

This is the meaning of the Midrash when it says that the sea fled, or “Barach,” which can also mean to expand into the future. The effect of the miracle expanded far into the future. The desert in the Midrash, refers to Torah (See the Zohar) The Holy One, Blessed is He, said, “Here I will build My home,” meaning that God lives within the Torah, and through Torah a person can find Him and His actions.

This is at any time and any moment. All the miracles live in the Torah, and a person can conceive the workings of all the miracles by studying Torah as if he actually experienced the miracles. This is why the Torah is described by the Midrash as the Home of God. “G-d’s essence hovers in the Torah and it is within the Torah that Man can try to understand how G-d operates. And that is what is meant as ‘G-d’s dwelling place’.” (Kol Simcha, Bamidbar)

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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19
Mar

Shir ha-Shirim II: Fueling Our Work With Aspiration

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Portion of the Week

Another explanation, “Do you see a man diligent in his business,” this applies to Moshe our master, in connection with the work of the Mishkan. Therefore, “he shall stand before kings,” the king is Pharoah, as it says, “Rise up early in the morning and stand before Pharoah (Exodus 8:16).”

“He shall not stand before darkened men,” the darkened man is Yitro, who was obscure in comparison with Pharoah.

Rabbi Nechemiah said, you have made the holy, profane! (The King should refer to someone great and notable, which Pharaoh was not in comparison with Moshe.) Rather: “He shall stand before kings,” the “King” here is the Supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, Blessed is He, as it sets, “and he was there with God 40 days (Exodus 34:28).” “He shall not stand before dark man,” the “dark man,” is Pharaoh, as it says, “and there was sick darkness (10:22).”

I understand Rabbi Nechemiah’s approach far more than the opening of the midrash. Moshe stood before Pharaoh long before he was diligent in his work with the Mishkan. How can the midrash say that he merited it standing before Pharoah because he was so diligent in his work on the Mishkan?

Moshe did stand before Yitro! What does the midrash mean when it says that because Moshe was so diligent in his work that he did not have to stand before the dark man, Yitro?

The midrash is describing Moshe as a man always “diligent in his business,” all his work, and the work witnessed at the Mishkan was only one example of Moshe’s essence as a diligent worker. The midrash is telling us that the reason Moshe was chosen to stand before Pharaoh was because he was a diligent worker. A powerful lesson indeed for those who desire to stand before the Ultimate King! We will have to become diligent workers.

What about Yitro? Moshe never had to stand before Yitro as a supplicant, or as an adversary. In fact, he stood before Yitro as a King himself. Yitro was a great man, however, our “diligent man,” Moshe, aspired to stand only before the most powerful, the King.

This midrash is teaching us that even when we become the “diligent workers” who can stand before kings, we must diligently work at standing before only the greatest King. Our diligent work must be fueled by our aspirations for greatness.

As we work to prepare for Pesach, and ultimately stand before the King on Shavuot, we must work diligently, aspiring to the culmination of Pesach, when we can stand at Sinai.

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
Sep

The Hyrax and The S’chach: Perceptions Matter

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in What is the Reason?

Can you explain for me, please, how come that its written that ‘HASHAFAN KI MA’ALEI GEIRA’ – ‘And the Hyrax, for it brings up its cud, but its hoof is not split – it is unclean to you.’ (Leviticus 11:5) when it’s against nature. So which one is the truth? Life or Torah in this case” E.G.

Thank you for your great and super important question. You are correct in stating that the Hyrax does not chew its cud. The Wikipedia entry for Hyrax says: Unlike the even-toed ungulates and some of the macropods, hyraxes do not chew cud to help extract nutrients from coarse, low-grade leaves and grasses. They do, however, have complex, multi-chambered stomachs that allow symbiotic bacteria to break down tough plant materials, and their overall ability to digest fiber is similar to that of the ungulates. They will show antagonistic behavior, such as making chewing motions, when they feel threatened. This behavior is often times confused with chewing cud. There are reports that the Hyrax can chew regurgitated food, however, this is infrequent and they do not do this for nutrition or as part of their diet.

One of the most important phrases in the article is that “They will show antagonistic behavior, such as making chewing motions, when they feel threatened. This behavior is often times confused with chewing cud.” The Hyrax, as well as the hare or rabbit in the following verse, appears to chew its cud. There are times that appearances matter.

Look up at the roof, the S’chach, of a Succah. There are both shade and light. The roof is incompletely covered with S’chach; there are open spaces through which we can see the stars. It reflects the fluctuations in our relationship with God. There are times we “see” God’s Presence with clarity, and there are times when we experience God as hidden. We can sense God’s protection some of the time, and at others we feel more vulnerable.

Some of the great Jewish thinkers see the open spaces as representations of God’s Light and the shaded areas as indications of God’s being Hidden. Other, equally great thinkers, see the shade as a symbol of Divine Protection and the open spaces as a mark of our vulnerabilities. Different people have different perceptions and they are both considered valid because of this strange verse about the Hyrax:

We do not know God as God truly is. God is Infinite and we are limited. We ‘know’ only that which God makes manifest. We understand only what we can see.

Even what we see is limited by our experiences. It is almost impossible to describe the difference between two colors to someone who was born blind and never saw colors. We fit our ‘knowledge” of God into our experiences and senses, which are limited.

We use appellations to speak of God: Merciful, Compassionate, Judge, Omnipotent, Omnipresent and The Power. We may not pronounce God’s name as spelled. We actually speak of our perceptions.

Both the Written and Oral laws govern our covenant with God. We use the principles of the Oral Law to apply the Mitzvot of the Torah to modern life. We cannot simply email God for His ruling on the laws of Shabbat or Kashrut. We rely on our judgment and perceptions. We would be unable to move forward and apply Halacha as we do to every single aspect of life if we could only deal with absolute truth. We must use the gifts we have, including our perceptions, as long as they are governed by the principles of the Oral Law.

When the Torah describes the Hyrax as it is perceived, not as it physically is, God is teaching us that we may apply His law based on our perceptions, even if we eventually determine that we are made a serious factual error.

You asked, “Which is true?” We know that the Hyrax does not chew its cud. We also know that the Torah says that we perceive that it does, and that the Torah wants us to consider our perceptions in our relationship with God and in the application of His Torah to our lives, even at the risk of being wrong.

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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30
Aug

Royal Messages 100 and One

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer, Spiritual Growth

“One cannot compare someone who has reviewed his studies one hundred times to someone who has reviewed them one hundred and one.” (Chagigah)

Rabbi Yechezkail Levenstein zt”l explained that the latter is not someone who simply reviewed his studies one extra time. It describes someone who focused on “Achat” – the One -, as he studied.

We live with enhanced awareness of God on Rosh Hashana. We can take that awareness and add it to our studies, so that whenever we learn we remember “Achat” – The 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
Aug

Yaacov Dovid Shulman: Rav Kook: Contained in The Torah

by admin in Spiritual Growth

The entire Torah consists of the names of the Holy One, blessed be He. Every good attribute, every mark of civility, is contained within the Torah. Every wisdom is rooted in the Torah. Indeed, the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, shines within everything good–whether in an individual or a group.

There is a difference between a person who knows that everything consists of light sparkling from the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, or a person who does not know. Nevertheless, this difference is merely a matter of degree.

The essence of the matter depends upon the inner core of our will: to whatever degree it corresponds to goodness. Only in this way can we find the light of the Righteous One of the world, He Who is cloaked in the foundation of all, in wisdom and kindness, so as to make the spiritual and physical visions of existence correspond: that is to say, the ideal of what existence could be and the actual coming about of that ideal. The actualization is the outcome of the ideal, and consummates it.

Orot Hatorah 4:2

Yaacov Dovid Shulman’s Writings can be found at ravkook.net and jewishlights.blogspot.com

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