Friday, December 31, 2010

[KollelH blog] VaEirah - Snow and..... Frogs?

I'm sure this week's snow makoh upon Brooklyn made people think of the parshah's closing plague in Egypt; Barad - the miraculous fire hailstorm. So what's the connection between the snow and frogs? (not much, if you ask google)  The huge mounds of now messy matter piled high at street corners and against many cars, brings to mind what went on in Mitzrayim in the aftermath of their makkoh, Tzefardeah. ויצברו אותם חמרים חמרים ותבאש הארץ  - "They grouped them in heaps and heaps and the land was disgusting." You can just imagine the horse and camel back gridlock traffic!

But there is more to learn about the two unassuming  partners in this week's D'var Torah.

The Gemarah (Pesachim 53b) teaches us that Chananyah, Mishael and Azaryah learned a kal v'chomer from the frogs. "If the frogs which were not commanded to die al kiddush Hashem, voluntarily jumped into the Egyptian ovens, we, who are commanded should certainly be willing to die al kiddush Hashem".

The Sha'agas Aryeh posed the following question to a number of Torah scholars. "How can they claim that the frogs were not commanded, when (passuk 7:28) Hashem told Moshe to warn Pharoah that 'they will go and enter your homes, your bedrooms, your beds, the homes of your servants and citizens and your OVENS and your dough.' ?!"
The Vilna Gaon, a seven year old boy at the time, overheard the question and responded.
"Each frog had the right 'to point his finger' at some other frog and say "you take the oven, I'll attack the beds!" thereby fulfilling the command of Hashem while still saving his own skin. As a whole, the group of frogs had to get the 'oven job' done, but no particular frog had to take on the responsibility. However many frogs did just that. They volunteered on behalf of the group. Instead of pointing fingers at others, they put their own neck on the line."
The Sha'agas Aryeh joyfully lifted the young gaon up in the air and kissed his forehead.

Perhaps this sense of unity allowed the makkoh to continue with an after effect even after its official time was up, which is not found by any other of the ten plagues (see kli yakar). They were grouped together in piles to continue causing affliction to the mitzriyim long after the makkoh ended.

There is a common saying about snowflakes that no two are exactly the same. Scientists are not too sure about the preciseness of that statement, however, they basically agree that for the most part it is true. There is amazing variety and individuality in snowflakes. But what is so fascinating is why that is so. The beautiful crystallized formation of each snowflake develops as the water molecules attempt to bond with one another! The unique individual character is a product of its partnership! As we can testify as well, one snowflake on its own has no permanence whatsoever. It melts and disappears before your very eyes. It is their bonding tendency that gives them any power.

The word שלג - 'snow'- is made up completely of letters with the numerical value of  3. The word שלש - 'three' - is similar in that sense. The Maharal in pirkei avos explains the special meaning of this number. It represents חיבור - a bonding connection. [In a nutshell, one point stands alone, two points, relative to one another, are each extreme's opposite. The third point creates a middle ground, the opportunity for unity between the two extremes.]

The well known zechusim of the Jews in Mitzrayim are the three that helped keep them together as a unified unassimilated nation. They kept their Jewish names, language, and mode of dress. The Tana D'vei Eliyahu (23:9) describes another merit that is not as well known. "They gathered and settled together and made a pact amongst themselves to do גמילות חסדים with each other!" (It seems from the context, that this was their initial reaction to the decree of slavery.)

Stress and change from daily routine are prime causes for people's innate (and quite often negative) middos to surface. Let the challenges of this week's storm bring out the best in all of us. Let the snow and the frogs teach us to help one another and unify! We can point fingers at politicians, unions, and other drivers, but then a week's long lesson would fall on deaf ears and be lost. Let us accept the pain and nuisance of the week as humbly as possible, as each person receives his own Divinely apportioned troubles (like the manna that piled appropriately for each person!).

Have a wonderful and restful Shabbos!

Posted By KH to KollelH blog at 12/31/2010 03:14:00 AM

Thursday, December 30, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 12/30/2010 08:35:00 PM

As each snowflake's unique shape is defined through its molecules bonding, the unique qualities of each individual are exhibited in the manner of his interaction with others.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 12/30/2010 08:35:00 PM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 12/30/2010 08:19:00 PM

Stress exposes the well-hidden, innate character traits of each individual. What a learning experience!

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 12/30/2010 08:19:00 PM

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 12/29/2010 11:34:00 PM

The decision of whether to take an initiative step forward or to humbly wait by the wayside, has tricked the greatest of men.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 12/29/2010 11:34:00 PM

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 12/28/2010 03:58:00 PM

The heart, just as any muscle, has a limit to the emotional load it can carry. Exercise it & open it to others, and it will be able to carry so much more!

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 12/28/2010 03:58:00 PM

Thursday, December 23, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 12/24/2010 12:52:00 AM

Life's a big school & we're all here to learn lessons. Some study the book. Others drop out. Some learn by ear. Others, by assignment.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 12/24/2010 12:52:00 AM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 12/23/2010 01:15:00 PM

There is no education like experience. Without a single formal lesson, the home imbues in a child more than he will learn from any teacher.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 12/23/2010 01:15:00 PM

Sunday, December 19, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 12/19/2010 01:18:00 PM

Forgiveness has two parts. Absolving the 'debt'. (Verbally relinquishng the wish & right for retribution.) Dissolving resentment (internally).

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 12/19/2010 01:18:00 PM

Thursday, December 16, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 12/16/2010 04:38:00 PM

The diference between a 'Leader of Men' and a 'Leader of Jews', is that the latter is a servant & the other a king.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 12/16/2010 04:38:00 PM

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 12/14/2010 02:05:00 PM

If we had a wider folder, more would stay in the 'fold'.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 12/14/2010 02:05:00 PM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 12/14/2010 01:27:00 PM

Humanity = individuality. If we were all deisgned to be the same, we'd look the same too.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 12/14/2010 01:27:00 PM

Monday, December 13, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 12/13/2010 01:27:00 PM

The human heart is so sensitive, that even the most loving critique may shatter it and only cause resentment. - Admonish Soft & Seldom.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 12/13/2010 01:27:00 PM

Sunday, December 12, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 12/12/2010 03:51:00 PM

Torah study requires a settled calmness of mind. Hence the name 'Yeshivah'. Some have retained this state even in exile, abject poverty, & under enemy fire.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 12/12/2010 03:51:00 PM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 12/12/2010 01:22:00 PM

Wisdom can be expressed in recognizing that something is NOT understood, whereas the foolish believe they understand it all.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 12/12/2010 01:22:00 PM

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

[KollelH blog] Chanukah

The Rambam (hilchos chanukah ) writes that the mitzvah of Chanukah is a 'Mitzvah chavivah ad meod' a commandment which is cherished to the extreme. This is quite a statement from one who is so famous for being anti-extremist!

What is it about Chanukah that is so much more cherishable than other mitzvos? Personally, I love Pesach & Sukkos with their great festive spirit, a lot more than the mundane feeling of the Chanukah workday!

If this strikes a familiar chord amongst the readers, I guess we can all use a better understanding of what Chanukah is all about.

The R'Y' MiLunil (a contemporary of the Rambam) says an amazing chiddush regarding Chanukah (see shabbos 21a). - Even if NOT for the miracle of the lights, we would have an eight day holiday to celebrate & thank Hashem for the victory over the Greeks! The miracle of Chanukah was so great it even tops our victory over Egypt! Pharoah oppressed us with physical & emotional hardship. Haman wanted us dead. But the Greeks were set on decimating our spirituality, and overcoming them was the greatest salvation ever!

The sefer Seder Hayom (the earliest source for 'modeh ani') writes a short prayer to be said before lighting the menorah. It is a proclamation of joy mixed with humbleness regarding the great gifted opportunity that we have, to do G-D's will. Although this would be appropriate before any mitzvah, hadlakas neiros is the mitzvah of choice for this prayer.

Chanukah is the one Yom Tov that was created by, and is dedicated as an expression of our passion for Torah & Mitzvos. The wars and subsequent victory was not a strategic move to protect our freedom or lives, but an anxious, illogical, passion-driven offensive to keep the object of our love. - Torah & Mitzvos.

Someone who does not feel like he's doing favors for G-D, but rather privileged to be close enough to G-d to fulfil his commandments, can properly understand the simchah of Chanukah.

Those of us (myself included) who still need the doughnuts and gifts to lift their spirits, are sorrowfully unaware of the awesome treasure they're sitting on. Let us use the remaining time of this spiritual holiday to think about the almost unthinkable; what if the Greeks would have been successful? It's unimaginable - The world at large, and ourselves specifically, without Torah and Mitzvos!?
What would we look like if we would believe that 'ein lanu chelek b'Elokei Yisrael' - we have no connection to G-D? It is well known that a Jew living without Torah would be worse than the lowest of the gentiles. The unfulfilled potential greatness within him would lead him ti the greatest of evils!
On the other hand, how lofty is the life of the simplest Jew  who keeps Torah and Mitzvos! How charity and kindness and actually talking to G-D three times a day is STANDARD! We relate to the Master of the world in our eating, drinking, business and social life, and even through the halacos of using the facilities! How enriched we are that even the most minuscule parts of our lives bond us with the Infinite Creator and eternity!
Chanukah is truly the Yom Tov to express and realize 'Ashreinu mah tov chelkainu'! Chavivah ad meod!
Let us focus on the thankful words we say every day "Baruch Elokeinu shebaranu l'chvodo, v'hidilanu min hatoim v'chayei olam nota b'socheinu" !
Ah freilichin lichtigeh Chanukah!

Posted By KH to KollelH blog at 12/09/2010 12:03:00 AM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 12/08/2010 10:28:00 AM

Certain pleasures can only be appreciated by those who have a refined sensitivity to them. Such is the joy of Chanukah.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 12/08/2010 10:28:00 AM

Monday, December 6, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 12/06/2010 07:20:00 PM

Evil & its dirt must grow gradually. However, G-D & His Lovingkindness are a constant. His 'cover' can be removed in an instant.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 12/06/2010 07:20:00 PM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 12/06/2010 05:55:00 PM

As daylight wanes, darkness slowly developes into night. However from the darkest of the night comes the 'crack' of dawn - daybreak in a moment's notice.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 12/06/2010 05:55:00 PM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 12/06/2010 04:32:00 PM

Publicity is not a Jewish trait. Yet, once a year when a window opens & the Jewish home is somewhat exposed, enough light shines forth to illuminate the world.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 12/06/2010 04:32:00 PM

Sunday, November 28, 2010

[KollelH blog] VaYeishev

Parshas VaYeishev is noted as a parshah of challenges and hardship. As a matter of fact, the Balei Tosafos point out that all but eight of the 112 p'sukim therein, begin with the letters 'וי' - 'woe' . (Perhaps the eight are hinting to the 8 days of Chanukah a truly happy and light eight days in the middle of the dark and cumbersome winter.) This, as Rashi mentions in the beginning of the parshah, was a response to Yaakov's quest to settle in calm peacefulness in Eretz Yisrael. בקש יעקב לישב בשלוה, קפץ עליו רגזו של יוסף .

The discussion of Tzaddik v'ra lo deserves a lot more attention than a short D'var Torah email permits. However, I'd like to share a question that came to mind while reading the Rashi.

David HaMelech, in Tehillim writes the well known words of  אחת שאלתי  - "One thing I ask of G-D, that is what I seek. To settle in the house of G-D all the days of my life." David seems to use the same terminology as Yaakov  אבקש שבתי בבית ה . Certainly Yaakov's desire for settling peacefully was not to recline on a beach chair with a soft drink! He surely would use the calm to continue his study of Torah and avodas Hashem. So why did David not receive the same response that Yaakov got?

The answer, I believe can be learned from the careful language of the Rambam [hilchos teshuvah 9.1 and further]. The Rambam tells us that the reward for mitzvos and punishment for aveiros are not paid in this world. All the world's greatest pleasures could not add up to appropriately pay for even a single mitzvah that was properly fulfilled l'shmah. "If so," asks the Rambam, "why do we find so many p'sukim in the Torah promising  material good for those who follow G-D's command?" The Rambam answers that this is not payment or reward at all. Rather G-D assures those people who are sincerely dedicated to His Torah, that He will assist them in fulfilling its commandments by removing the worldly problems that deter him. All the blessings of health, wealth, and peace are in actuality just preventatives from being disturbed from Hashem's avodah.

David HaMelech, with the many wars he fought, and the kingdom he ruled, was constantly disturbed from the level of avodas Hashem he felt he could attain (see Radak on the pasuk above). Therefore it was not wrong to ask or seek peace and harmony to provide him with the opportunity to serve Hashem better.

Yaakov on the other hand, had risen to a much greater level of avodah. There are many medrashim that describe Yaakov's stay with Lavan in great detail. He was constantly studying Torah, day and night even while working as the sheppard of Lavan's flock. He would be awake at night learning Torah and chasing sleep from his eyes while guarding the cattle as well.

Yaakov was steeped in Torah regardless of his environment! Yaakov was able to serve Hashem in the most dire circumstances, - (even living by his in-laws!). He did not need the worldly blessings of peace and tranquility in order to serve Hashem! Therefore that seemingly innocently small pleasure would not be considered assisting his avodah, rather it would be deemed as payment for his mitzvos. Although Yaakov had many z'chusim to bank on, היום לעשותם today is for doing, and only  ומחר לקבל שכרם - tommorow is for reward. Only Shabbos, which is מעין עולם הבא - is a day which is available for extra pleasures even without the intent of assisting in our avodah. It is a taste of  'reward'.

In truth, so long as sin and evil exist in the world, Hashem's presence in this world cannot be referred to as 'settled'. אין הכיסא שלם - until Amalek is gone and the entire world recognizes and accepts Hashem's reign. A true tzaddik who is attached to Hashem and His ways, can appreciate following the ways of G-D and not feeling settled peacefully in olam hazeh. For the rest of us, we can at least learn from here not to be terribly anxious for the material pleasures that are beckoning to us, even though they may be halachically permissible.

May we all merit seeing, and fully rejoicing on, the day of .... והיה ה' למלך !

Posted By KH to KollelH blog at 11/29/2010 01:03:00 AM

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 11/23/2010 01:18:00 PM

Ironically, when we have more to thank G-D for, we think about Him LESS.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 11/23/2010 01:18:00 PM

Friday, November 19, 2010

[KollelH blog] VaYishlach

This week's parshah tells the culmination of a story of almost 100 years in the making. The two people who would shape the history of the world and who are still symbolic of Good & Evil to this day are about to meet for the first time in thirty four years. The great showdown would define the future of their descendants forever. The momentous event unfolds quite dramatically as Yaakov sends forth messengers with an impressive gift to Eisav, then prays, and, as he prepares his camp for war, engages in a scuffle with Eisav's Angel.

The actual meeting of the two is also described with dramatic detail as Yaakov and his family humbly bowed and Eisav rushed forward to either kiss or bite his younger brother's neck.
What followed, though, was a curiously insignificant 'opening lines' for such a huge build-up.

Eisav asked, מי אלה לך - "Who are all these (people that are associated) to you?"
Yaakov responds, הילדים אשר חנן אלקים את עבדך - "The children that G-D has graced your servant with."
"What is your association with the whole group of messengers that I encountered?"
"To find favor in the eyes of my master."
''יש לי רב - I have plenty. Keep what is yours.".....
"Please take it, כי חנני אלקים וכי יש לי כל - because Hashem has graced me and I have everything."

How can such a simple question be the first thing Eisav, the murderous enemy, can ask? After all these years all he wanted to know was the relationship between Yaakov and the rest of his group? One would assume that it was self evident that the people with Yaakov were his family! Surely, there must have been a deeper intent to the above discussion.

In Yaakov's Tefillah previous to the meeting, he states his concern of " קטנתי מכל החסדים - I have become small from all the kindness that Hashem has done for me." How can Yaakov believe that his family and small fortune were not well deserved?

The Kli Yakar, as well as many others, note the difference between Yaakov's content claim of "I have EVERYTHING" and Eisav's claim of "I have ALOT" which still left him with an appetite to have some more.

What was it that caused Yaakov to have such an amazingly satisfied feeling of 'having it all' while his brother who had much more than him still felt lacking?

The Tana D'vei Eliyahu (zuta 3.19) presents a little background to the meeting of Yaakov and Eisav that will help us understand their discussion better.

Though not quite understandable to us, (I think) Yaakov and Eisav struck a deal already in their mother's womb. The world of spirituality and olam habah would be for Yaakov and the world of materialism and olam hazeh would be Eisav's. The deal was 'signed off' at the time they exchanged the lentil beans and the b'chorah. This would mean that Yaakov would have no 'rights' to the materialistic pleasures of this world. His rights to olam hazeh would be only to the extent of survival and whatever is needed for Torah and Mitzvos. Eisav, on the other hand, gained full rights to all the worldly pleasures available, but relinquished his rights to olam habah.

Eisav's entire intent on the destruction of Yaakov was to regain his stand in olam hazeh which Yaakov stole from him at the time of the brachos. Thus, as much wealth as Eisav could amass, his rights allowed for more and he felt very deserving of it as well. On the other hand, Yaakov had no rights to the pleasures of olam hazeh at all! Therefore, anything more than the bare minimum needed for his existence was a gracious undeserved blessing from above. So long as a Jew has his life, food, clothing to wear, and enough money to fulfill the commandments, he truthfully 'HAS IT ALL'. Anything more is extraneous; a luxurious blessing from G-D.

When Eisav saw the numerous women and small fortune that that were with Yaakov, the 34 year old claim that he had against Yaakov finally was expressed! "How are all these yours?! What right do you have to the world of wealth and numerous wives and family?! This is MY world!"

Yaakov responded, "You're right. These are not 'mine' by rights. They're all an extra gracious gift from G-D. Please accept my gift to you as I already have all that I deserve.

Eisav could not have that same level of contentment. He had rights to more and, though he had alot, he certainly did not feel he had it all.

This explains the unquenchable thirst the nations have to continuously advance in wordly matters and desires without any contentment or end in sight. They can never feel they 'have it all' so long as there is more to get.

Perhaps, this may offer a practical (see Rashi that Dinah's capture was a punishment for Yaakov's hiding her from a prospective marriage with Eisav) cause for Dinah's capture as she was the only one 'absent' for this important lesson! She felt the need to see what the neighboring women had to offer and so she was taken wooed into staying with Shechem when he promised her that she will have it 'all'. (see Rashi )

This also explains why the brothers made a separate effort (pasuk 27) to loot the entire "city that had defiled their sister" after they had already killed all the men, only to leave much of the spoils behind a little while later. It was the whole city that they attributed to defiling her because it was 'all' that they had that attracted her in the first place. The brothers wanted to show Dinah 'all' the nations had to offer and, after a short time, it would be clear that we lack nothing.

We don't deserve olam hazeh. We don't have rights to olam hazeh. What we do have in the materialistic world is a gift.

We have it all. Gut Shabbos.

Posted By KH to KollelH blog at 11/19/2010 02:53:00 PM

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 11/16/2010 07:31:00 PM

We can all feel that we've been blessed with EVERYTHING, if we first realize that we DESERVE NOTHING.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 11/16/2010 07:31:00 PM

Monday, November 15, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 11/15/2010 09:28:00 AM

We can choose our friends but G-D picks our relatives, - with another opportunity & challenge in relating with each of them.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 11/15/2010 09:28:00 AM

Friday, November 12, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 11/12/2010 12:05:00 PM

The only thing we can 'give' to G-D, is the opportunity for Him to give to us.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 11/12/2010 12:05:00 PM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 11/12/2010 12:03:00 PM

No Jew is simple. When one acts foolishly, he is LOOSELY described, -with borrowed terminology,- AS IF he were a simpleton.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 11/12/2010 12:03:00 PM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 11/12/2010 11:35:00 AM

Interrupting, is a sure sign of lack of discipline. Witholding from it is a great excercize for self- (or a child's ) -discipline.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 11/12/2010 11:35:00 AM

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 11/09/2010 01:28:00 PM

Overdoses of love may be relative to a child's behavior. But a constant level of normal parental love must be unconditional.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 11/09/2010 01:28:00 PM

Sunday, November 7, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 11/07/2010 01:18:00 PM

Wisdom must be absorbed not just learned. This gives primary importance to the apetite of the student, not the greatness of the teacher.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 11/07/2010 01:18:00 PM

Thursday, November 4, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 11/04/2010 01:20:00 PM

Any wrong can be justified with the word 'just'. In short... Don't 'just'ify. Rectify.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 11/04/2010 01:20:00 PM

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 11/04/2010 01:15:00 AM

The tiny disclaimer of 'Just being childish' can easily disguise character flaws of huge proportions.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 11/04/2010 01:15:00 AM

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 11/02/2010 08:29:00 PM

G-D is glorified not by what man DOES, but by what man had to OVERCOME to get it done.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 11/02/2010 08:29:00 PM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 11/02/2010 10:03:00 AM

Wasting time developes the notion that the world has no G-D and no purpose.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 11/02/2010 10:03:00 AM

Friday, October 29, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 10/29/2010 08:59:00 AM

The soul is not bound in space. YOU are exactly wherever your mind is.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 10/29/2010 08:59:00 AM

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 10/27/2010 02:36:00 PM

Living life to the fullest is quite possible when the parameters of 'Life' are clearly defined.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 10/27/2010 02:36:00 PM

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 10/26/2010 02:35:00 PM

The truly honorable have so much honor that they dispense it. The dishonorable can't give what they don't have.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 10/26/2010 02:35:00 PM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 10/26/2010 02:21:00 PM

Publicity is powerful. It can establish new facts.... True or not.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 10/26/2010 02:21:00 PM

Friday, October 22, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 10/22/2010 02:17:00 PM

Nothing NEW is needed to love something or someone MORE. Just more attention to what is already well liked.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 10/22/2010 02:17:00 PM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 10/22/2010 01:25:00 PM

A wife can never be appreciated ENOUGH. Her husband can (and should) always cherrish her MORE.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 10/22/2010 01:25:00 PM

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 10/20/2010 07:48:00 PM

The bored mind does not stop working. It incessantly produces a lot of waste.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 10/20/2010 07:48:00 PM

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 10/13/2010 03:02:00 PM

One becomes wealthy only because of his wife. Respect her & expect success!

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 10/13/2010 03:02:00 PM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 10/13/2010 02:14:00 PM

Honor is the strongest driving force of mankind. When harnessed to good deeds it will lead almost anyone to greatness.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 10/13/2010 02:14:00 PM

Sunday, September 26, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 9/26/2010 09:46:00 PM

One is more attached to a goal he is striving toward than to one which he has already attained.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 9/26/2010 09:46:00 PM

Monday, September 20, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 9/20/2010 09:12:00 AM

We appraise our Afterlife by what we exchange with it. We evaluate our living standard by what we take with us on temporary basis. All else is luxury.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 9/20/2010 09:12:00 AM

Sunday, September 19, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 9/20/2010 02:09:00 AM

To differentiate between necessary pleasures & luxury, figure what you would happily supply to a friend in need.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 9/20/2010 02:09:00 AM

Thursday, September 16, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 9/16/2010 09:37:00 AM

Verbally confessing your guilt, expels your own notion of being at peace with Sin.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 9/16/2010 09:37:00 AM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 9/16/2010 09:33:00 AM

Crediting good fortune to your own merit, is considering your righteousness 'paid in full', this forfeits any more reward. Accept it as an undeserved kindness.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 9/16/2010 09:33:00 AM

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 9/14/2010 11:40:00 PM

If one's most solemn word can be broken, it indicates the person believes in no absolute truth. A hint of atheism.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 9/14/2010 11:40:00 PM

Monday, September 13, 2010

[KollelH blog] Aseres Yimei Teshuvah

Chazal, in mesechta megillah (6a) and in a number of other places, praise even the simple unaccomplished Jew by comparing him to ………. a pomegranate. "Even the empty amongst them are filled with mitzvos like a pomegranate."

We may ask why if they are so full of mitzvos do we call them empty? Secondly, aren't  there plenty of items in nature that are 'full' enough to represent someone who is full of mitzvos?

The mishnah in pirkei avos (3:17 in most prints) compares one who has many deeds but less wisdom to a tree of many roots and few branches. Come what may, the tree will stand strong. It always bothered me why ma'asim – deeds were looked upon as roots which are the beginning of the tree. Aren't ma'asim - the goal and end product - more similar to the fruit sprouting from the end of the branches?

Rabeinu Yonah asks another question. How is it possible to have more deeds than wisdom; it is only through the knowledge one has that he can perform the mitzvos at all ?!

Rabeinu Yonah presents a profound answer which he re-iterates in his sefer Sharei Teshuvah as well. The 'deeds' that were compared to roots in the mishnah above does not refer to the fulfillment of mitzvos or bringing one's learning to fruition in action. Rather it is referring to a person who is committed to act and do in accordance with his instructions regardless of what the forthcoming instructions may be. This commitment is reminiscent of Klal Yisrael's acceptance of the Torah with Na'aseh V'nishmah – 'we will do, let us just hear what'. This readiness itself grants one the merit of the performance even before the person has the knowledge of what to do! This potential energy waiting to explode in action can certainly be viewed as the root and base of the tree, which, together with the eventual knowledge, can finally  produce beautiful fruit – the performance of the deeds themselves.

Perhaps this is the empty yet full Jew we mentioned above. The pomegranate is quite empty of the true flesh of fruit that other fruits contain. Its sweet edible part is only on its seeds - the part of the fruit which represents its potential. Even those Jews who were empty on a practical level, were full of readiness and potential, to do whatever they were taught.

I believe this is the intent of the 'simna milsa' we perform with the pomegranate on Rosh Hashanah eve. "May we increase in merit like the Pomegranate!" we exclaim. But how can this be done in one night and why specifically like a pomegranate? In this proclamation, we apply the secret of Na'aseh V'nishmah. On Rosh Hashanah and on the following days, we strive to fully commit ourselves to do whatever G-D dictates, similar to a soldier just waiting for orders. This commitment instantly gives us the many merits of all the actions yet to follow.

[For a reference to a pomegranate being the symbol of 'na'aseh', see Baal HaTurim parshas Tetzaveh 28:35.]

Let us proclaim "NA'ASEH!" and may we have the many merits needed for a wonderful sweet year!

G'mar Chasimah Tovah!

Posted By KH to KollelH blog at 9/13/2010 08:18:00 PM

Monday, September 6, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 9/06/2010 03:28:00 PM

G-D grants wisdom to the one who loves & appreciates it.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 9/06/2010 03:28:00 PM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 9/06/2010 03:12:00 PM

Words can wound quite seriously. Honestly begging for apology can heal.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 9/06/2010 03:12:00 PM

Thursday, September 2, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 9/02/2010 03:18:00 PM

To repair a damaged relationship, a change to improve does not suffice. Remorse on the past & a sincere apology are crucial.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 9/02/2010 03:18:00 PM

Sunday, August 29, 2010

[KollelH blog] Ki Savo - "Thank You"

In the time of the Beis Hamikdash when a farmer's first fruits of the season would ripen, he would mark them with a string and later cut them and bring them up to Yerushalayim in great ceremony. This is the mitzvah of Hava'as Bikurim - "The Bringing of the First Fruits".

When he entered the Beis Hamikdash he would present a basket of his first fruits to the Kohein and read the very touching proclamation spelled out at the beginning of this week's sedrah. Rashi explains the thought behind this proclamation as a way of showing gratitude.

The mishnah in meseches Bikurim teaches that while the farmer may make a shliach- a messenger/proxy- to bring the fruits up to Yerushalayim, nevertheless the shliach cannot read the proclomation on his behalf.

There is a valuable lesson that is derived from this. When it comes to saying "Thank You" you have to do it yourself. The act of thanking is incomplete unless a person is moved enough to use his own power of speech and say it for himself.

This lesson is echoed in another area of our Torah. When the Shemoneh Esrei was instituted by the Rabbis of the "Great Assembly" they knew that there would always be some people who need to hear it from the Chazan. And there was born the Chazaras Hashatz- the "Chazan's Repetition". Not withstanding the fact that the Chazan is reciting all eighteen brachos aloud the Chazal instituted that the Modim - the brachah of thanks, be recited by the congregation again in tandem with the Chazan.

Here too we see the importance of not utilizing a shliach, but personally thanking Hashem. This is the only meaningful way to do it.

This in mind, let us prepare ourselves for the Yomim Noraim ahead. In our Tefilos we will perform the confession called Viduy - which is related to the word Hoda'ah -to thank. Confessing our aveiros is also something that needs to be done by ourselves. Only by verbalizing our sins with our own mouths will we come to the true realization that we were wrong, much the same way that by personally saying "thank you" we are brought to recognize our true debt of graditude.


Posted By Dovi milstein to KollelH blog at 8/29/2010 11:29:00 PM

Friday, August 27, 2010

[KollelH blog] Ki Savo

The 'Tochachah' , the word that is synonymous with speed reading ba'alei kora and hebrew expressions we're happy not knowing their true meaning.

However since it is the highlight of our parshah and it most definitely bears a message for us, I'll share two short points.

1) I am not sure of the source for referring to our parshah as the Tochachah, but you are welcome to judge the appropriateness of this name for yourself.

מוסר ה' בני אל תמאס, ואל תקץ בתוכחתו (mishlei 3.1) The Vilna Gaon explains the difference between the two expressions of admonishment as one - בתוכחתו through speech, and the other - מוסר through physical pain or discomfort. תוכחה is clear guidance. מוסר is restraining discipline.

Similarly, the מגיד מישרים  explains the the different languages of distaste in this pasuk. תמאס refers to something which is disliked because of its own intrinsic nature. Whereas תקץ refers to a disliking for something which may intrinsically be pleasant but due to its abundant repetitiveness, one gets tired of it to the point of disgust. Therefore, Shlomoh hamelech tells us not to have an aversion to the physical and prohibitive nature of  מוסר , and regarding the pleasant guiding words of תוכחה , we are told not to dislike them even though the Torah abounds with them throughout.

2) The Gemarah in Mesechta Brachos (5a) describes a great reward for someone who accepts יסוריםwith love. We all hope not to be the subject for this discussion. However we all have some  יסורים so it is something to be aware of. The three responses to troubles we may have are as follows:
  • Rejecting - which is expressed as anger. This is not accepting G-D's decree at all.
  • Accepting - unhappily, but trusting that somehow it was for the good and it was well deserved.
  • Accepting - happily, noticing the message G-D is trying to convey, and growing from the experience.
Let's try to get things right in the first place so we shouldn't need מוסר or תוכחה and may we all be blessed with a כתיבה וחתימה טובה!

This month's learning At Kollel Hashechunah has been sponsored
ר' אברהם אביש זצ'ל בן
ר' שמואל חיים ז'ל
To sponsor/ co- sponsor, please see R' Dovi Milstein or email

Posted By KH to KollelH blog at 8/27/2010 02:08:00 PM

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 8/25/2010 11:07:00 PM

When one does not make use of G-D's blessings, he expresses an inappreciation for them. Use them appropriately, and show your thankfulness!

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 8/25/2010 11:07:00 PM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 8/25/2010 09:16:00 AM

A good ending depends very much on the beginning. Start your day on the right foot and expect better results!

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 8/25/2010 09:16:00 AM

Saturday, August 21, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 8/21/2010 10:36:00 PM

Self discipline must be practiced even in children. Any delay in its training darkens their future.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 8/21/2010 10:36:00 PM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 8/21/2010 10:31:00 PM

An ounce of pain is worth a ton of merit.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 8/21/2010 10:31:00 PM

Friday, August 20, 2010

[KollelH blog] Ki Seitzay

WAR! That's what the 'bookends' of our parshah speak about. Though we don't like to judge books by their covers, the parshah's beginning with מלחמת רשות and ending with the מלחמת מצוה against Amalek, has a message for us regarding the rest of the parshah as well.

....וראית בשביה אשת יפת תואר וחשקת בה  "And you will see amongst the captives a woman of nice appearance, and you will want her.... Chazal say that the words וחשקת בה teach us that even if the woman looks מכוערת- displeasing, if you want her, the halachos of the following p'sukim apply.

If so, asks the Ohr Hachaim, aren't the words אשת יפת תואר - a woman of nice appearance, superfluous? As long as the soldier would like her, he may take her, so why does the Torah mention the nice appearance?

Using some of  Ohr Hachaim's lengthy answer but deviating somewhat, I would like to share an approach to the whole parshah with our readers.

The Ramban says that if the captive willingly accepts גרות , the rest of the halachos do not apply. She is accepted as any proselyte without any other conditions. The limitations set in the parshah only apply to the captive woman who unwillingly accepts her fate. Then, a very different procedure of גרות is required.

We find in other parshios commentators who write that when the Torah describes a nice physical appearance of someone, it is because they have attained some spiritual perfection which is expressed in their appearance.

According to the above, we can understand the parshah to be referring to two entirely different situations. Assuming the יפת תואר's inner beauty plays a role in the Torah's description here, we can say that she would accept the גרות wholeheartedly! She can then be married as a regular Jewish woman would. 'וחשקת בה' on the other hand, refers to a woman who lacks the aforementioned spirituality. She is only being מגיירת because of her plight. Only she requires the special process of גרות  mentioned in the parshah.

Consequently, these two women may even be married to the same soldier, since the limitation of taking one and not two women ( בה- ולא בה וחברתה ) only applies to unwilling  proselytes.

Rashi says our subject flows into the next two paragraphs in our parshah. This affirms our understanding that the soldier married both women, as the Torah describes a man who is married to two women, one who is אהובה - beloved, and the other שנואה - disliked. (see ba'al haturim that this refers to a recommended and unrecommended marriage) The parshah then ends with the ill-fated בן סורר ומורה . With the approach above we can safely assume that he was born to the unwilling מכוערת, who was taken as a result of וחשקת בה.

The question remains, why is the displeasing woman described as  וחשקת בה? The Malbim says the term חשק refers to a new appreciation for something that was not naturally or originally desired. It is a desire that one creates and develops a taste for on his own. The words וחשקת בה then, is a VERY precise description of a naturally displeasing woman, which someone has developed an unnatural desire for, on his own. This is similar to what Chazal call a מגרה יצר הרע someone who draws upon himself a new desire that he did not naturally have.

Hashem provides us with the perfect balance of spiritual and material tendencies for our challenges in life, and growth. For the challenges Hashem has given us, there are clear, guaranteed methods for success. Any new desires we train ourselves into appreciating is an "enter at your own risk" zone. The regular help of Heaven afforded to G-D given challenges, is not provided for these. This was the first step in the downfall of the miraglim as Hashem told Moshe " שלח לך - send the spies for your own interest, this is not an endeavour that I placed you into".

Here lies the message of our parshah. Please note that every (I think) מצות עשה in parshas KI seitzay  begins with KI - if or when. meaning that we are dealing with mitzvos that are NOT inevitable. All the mitzvos arise through scenarios which not necessarily have to happen. Most are situations which we, or others brought upon ourselves voluntarily. Parshas Ki seitzay introduces all of these 'מלחמות רשות' with the warning of the bleak end of the בן סורר ומורה. The only wars the that Torah recommends, are the ones that must be fought. Amalek pounced upon us without any 'invitation' from our side. Those are the only type of challenges we can hope for success in, the ones that are thrown upon us without any volunteering on our end. 

The natural domain of the יצר הרע is our שס'ה גידין - to challenge us by enticing us to commit any, or all of the 365 negative commandments. The word מגרה - (the one who draws desire upon himself) has the numerical value of 248, this signifies the extended arena of רמ'ח מצוות עשה challenges that the  יצר הרע has control over, when we develope nisyonos for ourselves.

Have a great Shabbos!

Posted By KH to KollelH blog at 8/20/2010 05:52:00 PM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 8/20/2010 02:48:00 PM

Accept a favor graciously. Offering money for it can be an insult to the kind nature of your benefactor.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 8/20/2010 02:48:00 PM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 8/20/2010 12:04:00 PM

Developing 'new tastes' for desires that were not inborn, is like asking for a 'taste' of lung cancer.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 8/20/2010 12:04:00 PM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 8/20/2010 11:34:00 AM

Of all the battles to fight, (with your own character flaws) the most recommended is to wage war on Desire.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 8/20/2010 11:34:00 AM

Thursday, August 19, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 8/19/2010 09:05:00 PM

Only G-D knows our capabilities. Taking on your own challenges is a very risky venture with a bleak future.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 8/19/2010 09:05:00 PM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 8/19/2010 03:19:00 PM

Food fuels the body. Pleasure fuels the spirit. Serving G-D fuels the soul.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 8/19/2010 03:19:00 PM

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 8/18/2010 10:55:00 PM

The most lofty ideals are only Realized & Materialized through the simple MATERIAL world we live in.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 8/18/2010 10:55:00 PM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 8/18/2010 07:54:00 PM

Nature's continuity is the expression of such a prioritized will of G-D, that He rarely changes it.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 8/18/2010 07:54:00 PM

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 8/18/2010 12:05:00 AM

All physical matter clouds our minds' grasp of the spiritual reality of the world. That is Darkness.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 8/18/2010 12:05:00 AM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 8/17/2010 11:09:00 PM

Pleasure is the most potent addictive incentive in the universe.... Be careful from where you draw your pleasures.. You'll get stuck there.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 8/17/2010 11:09:00 PM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 8/17/2010 01:27:00 PM

The whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. That's the difference between uniting or just living in peace with another.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 8/17/2010 01:27:00 PM

Monday, August 16, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 8/16/2010 02:51:00 PM

People need recognition to persevere, even while doing the most noble & righteous acts. Without respect they can be expected to discontinue their service.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 8/16/2010 02:51:00 PM

Friday, August 13, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 8/13/2010 09:31:00 AM

Any deterrence from G-D's service is His admonishment for our shortcomings in the first place.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 8/13/2010 09:31:00 AM

Thursday, August 12, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 8/13/2010 12:25:00 AM

If we excel in self-criticism there would be no need for G-D to admonish us.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 8/13/2010 12:25:00 AM

Thursday, August 5, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 8/05/2010 08:28:00 AM

With a vivid imagination we can train our body with experiences that never occurred. This is used for evil with books etc. but can be utilized for good as well.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 8/05/2010 08:28:00 AM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 8/05/2010 08:28:00 AM

Though we know there is retribution for evil, we've EXPERIENCED its temporary pleasure. Our body is trained by habit not by knowledge.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 8/05/2010 08:28:00 AM

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

[KollelH blog] Eikev

A great focal point of this week's parshah is what is commonly known as the Parshas Hayir'ah. Many have the custom of reciting this inspiring paragraph daily as it somewhat sums up all that G-D is asking of us. It begins (10:12) by proclaiming ועתה ישראל מה ה' אלקיך שואל מעמך, כי אם ליראה את ה' אלקיך... "And now Yisrael what is Hashem asking of you? Only to fear Hashem your G-D…"
We can probably identify with Chazal's question (megillah 25a)- Is fear of G-D something small to ask for that Moshe Rabeinu would use the words "only to fear"? However, the Gemarah's answer is still a little troubling. "Yes, relative to Moshe it is a minuscule thing." How does this answer our question? Moshe Rabeinu was not looking in the mirror talking to himself! He was speaking to all of Klal Yisrael and, yet, he still referred to Yir'ah as something small!

The gemarah continues to present a mashal. "When one is asked to lend something he owns, even if it is quite an important object, it does not seem to be a big deal in his eyes. However, if he was asked even for something very small, but he does not have it, it feels to him like a big request." What was unclear to us that required a parable for us to understand and how does the mashal help?

Fear of G-D has multiple meanings. The Rambam (yesodei haTorah 2:2) writes that it is an emotion which results from thinking into the great and awesome wisdom of G-D, as apparent in His handiwork and Torah. The Rambam continues to write (hilchos teshuvah 10:1) that fearing the curses and punishments enumerated in the Torah is not the level of fear expected of prophets and the wise men, but rather it is appropriate for simpletons and beginners. Everyone has some level of yir'as shamayim and we all have some room to improve as well.

What level of fear is being asked of us in the parshas hayir'ah? I believe that this is the subject of discussion in the above gemarah. The gemarah simply assumed that Moshe was stating Hashem's request "only" for a level of fear that we have not yet attained. With this in mind, Chazal ask, "Is that something small to ask for?" Whereupon the gemarah answers that relative to Moshe any level of fear is quite small, not because it was easy to attain, but, as clarified in the mashal, because he has already attained that level. Everyone according to his level of achievement also feels the same way about the level of fear he already has! It is only regarding the next level - that which we have not yet reached which appears to be a big deal to ask for. Moshe was correctly using the term "only" as he was referring to the level of yir'ah that we already possess!

Perhaps, this can give us a new understanding in the beginning of this week's parshah as well. Rashi explains the first pasuk to mean that if we pay attention to the light mitzvos which people tread upon with their heels, we will be blessed. This does not necessarily refer to evil people who show disregard for G-D's commandments. This can be in reference to anyone as we naturally feel that what we have already achieved and gotten used to is not so special. We tend to look forward with excitement only to 'new' and 'different' mitzvos as the common ones we always perform lose their luster and shine.

From this we can understand that although we should strive to continuously grow in our yir'as Hashem and in all mitzvos, the parshas hayir'ah is requesting of us to just retain the level we already have and not to lose it by pursuing opposing endeavors. Let us not to be too casual and dull about the commandments we already fulfill!

May this help us have a true nechamah– a change of perspective and re-assessment – to appreciate, value and rejoice in that which we have, in place of the mourning of the beis hamikdash that we are missing.

Nachamu Nachamu Ami!

Posted By KH to KollelH blog at 7/28/2010 11:09:00 PM

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 7/20/2010 06:03:00 PM

Our tone of voice can spoil the most beautiful of compliments. HOW we say or do things make a tremendous difference. HOW do we listen to G-D?

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 7/20/2010 06:03:00 PM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 7/20/2010 05:58:00 PM

Our facial expression is very important. A sour face can ruin even the most generous of gifts.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 7/20/2010 05:58:00 PM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 7/20/2010 03:08:00 PM

How lonely it is to feel unnoticed by G-D! But it only stems from our not 'noticing' G-D.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 7/20/2010 03:08:00 PM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 7/20/2010 02:35:00 PM

As ironic as it seems, it is alot more comfortable to get busy doing things than to sit and THINK.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 7/20/2010 02:35:00 PM

Thursday, July 15, 2010

[KollelH blog] Devarim - Chodesh Av

Sefer Devarim opens as 'mussar shmooze' from Moshe Rabeinu to the young generation about to enter Eretz Yisrael. Rashi writes that in a show of respect for klal yisrael Moshe did not want to openly rebuke them. The names of places mentioned in the psukim are actually hinting to the downfalls our nation experienced in those places.

Rav Moshe Feinstein ztz"l offers another purpose for this indirect manner of criticism. Moshe did not want to expose the new generation to evils that they were not yet aware of. Informing an individual with the ways of the wicked, plants those ideas into the realm of possibility in his mind. Therefore Moshe chose to just hint to the sins that were committed, so that those who already knew of them would understand the reference, while the innocent minds amongst them would not be affected. (The most infamous sins were able to be addressed openly.)
Perhaps we can introduce another possible explanation. There is an often qouted pasuk in mishlei (1:8) led me to this understanding. "Shma bni mussar avicha v'al titosh toras imecha" - Listen my son to the discipline of your father and do not ignore the instruction of your mother. Why is it that mussar comes from the father but Torah - instruction from the mother? Secondly, why must we tell the son to be attentive and listen to his father, whereas he does not need that prodding to listen to his mother, rather he needs only not to ignore her?
I believe we can answer as follows. We find numerous instances in chazal that speak of an interesting point in the relationship of a son to his father. "One should ask himself, 'When will my actions be comparable to those of my fathers?' ." "A son is like the leg of his father". The image of Yaakov withheld Yosef from aishes Potifar.
It appears to me that chazal note the tendency of a son to naturally feel 'measured against' and judged relative his father's accomplishments. A son subconsciously feels that he is the foot stepping into his father's large shoes. This feeling is so overbearing that the father's mere existence is already a critique of his son. A father does not need to openly instruct his son. Given the dynamics of their relationship, direct criticism can be too powerful for the son to absorb constructively, leaving him a dangerously low self esteem. A father can merely hint to his expectations, and so long as his son is listening attentively, the subtle rebuke will be heard and well taken. A mother on the other hand, with her love and softer nature can offer clear instruction to her son without him feeling offended. She may directly give orders, so the son does not need to be especially attentive to understand her. He just should not ignore her.

Rav Avrahm Schor has said that the month of  "AV" is the month when our Father in heaven is quite near us it is the closeness preceding Elul. It is specifically that closeness which creates a great measure of unfulfilled expectations of the son's 'owning up' to his Father.

Perhaps the new generation, who were not the same strong, red-necked, 'am kshei oref ' as their predecessors could not bear the direct form of mussar given to the generation before. The mussar of Moshe rabeinu had to be expressed more subtly, in an indirect fashion.

In the month of AV let us listen to the subtle critique from Avinu shebashamayim. Let the indirect message of the roshei taivos of 'A.V.' - Elul Ba'ah- arouse our souls to prepare for the coming season.

Let's not let our FATHER down. May this tishah b'av become a day of rejoicing!

Posted By KH to KollelH blog at 7/15/2010 11:48:00 PM

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 7/14/2010 06:33:00 PM

Informing an individual with the ways of the wicked, plants those ideas into the realm of possibility in his mind.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 7/14/2010 06:33:00 PM

Monday, July 12, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 7/12/2010 11:26:00 PM

A deep loving maternal relationship allows a mother to instruct and direct without the child feeling offended.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 7/12/2010 11:26:00 PM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 7/12/2010 11:21:00 PM

A father needs not to criticize his son. His presence is a constant source of subtle self-critique of the son.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 7/12/2010 11:21:00 PM

Friday, July 9, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 7/09/2010 07:21:00 AM

We develop a belief in what we say. Speak wisely.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 7/09/2010 07:21:00 AM

[KollelH blog] MATTOS - MA'ASEY

Parshas Ma'asey is not only the end of Sefer Bamidbar, but in a way it is almost like the end of the Torah. That is because sefer Devarim is called "Mishnah Torah" - a review of the Torah. Thus, sefer Bamidbar marks the end of the bulk of the Torah's message. Let us take a glimpse at the grand finale of this amazing sefer wrought with all the issues of a developing of a nationality approaching its homeland.

The Bnei Yisrael stand poised at the edge of the midbar waiting to enter the land. Moshe Rabeinu recaps all that has transpired throughout the last forty years. The wars, the miracles, the sinners, and their punishments. A system is then set up for dividing Eretz Yisrael, and the cities for the Levi'im are designated. All public matters are settled and now we can close the Chumash and prepare to enter Eretz Yisrael.

But not just yet. There is some unfinished business to tend to. Didn't we just hear about the daughters of Tzlafchad not so long ago? Were they not over forty and still in need of a shidduch? They will be inheriting land in Eretz Yisrael and would then risk losing their their tribe's lot by possibly passing it to another tribe, if and when they would finally get married. One would assume that this can be left for torah shel ba'al peh to deal with. The personal details of their fate can surely be addressed by the medrash! True, the Gemara (Bava Basra 119b) says that they were so righteous it was hard to find them a suitable match, but this is no reason to break from matters of national importance to discuss their private concerns!

Yet the Torah does exactly as unexpected, and pauses from all the national issues, to inform us how this matter settled. They married into their own set of cousins with Hashem's advice, and (Mazal Tov!) the five weddings are reported in one posuk. Now we may continue on and with the congregation proclaiming "chazak" we can close the Chumash. Ending the four main seforim of the Torah with our eye on the individual amidst all the nationalistic excitement.

Now, I cannot be sure if this is what the Torah is trying to convey - but for me, this is the message that rings in my ears as we read this parshah every year. We are a 'nation of princes' where the individual lives for the klal and the klal for the individual.

May many simchos abound by 'alleh yidden' individually, and by the entire Klall Yisrael together!

Posted By Dovi milstein to KollelH blog at 7/09/2010 03:33:00 AM

Thursday, July 8, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 7/09/2010 12:07:00 AM

Witholding from actual evil is an almost impossible task. What is more inconvenient yet highly successful, is avoiding the steps that lead us to evil in the first place.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 7/09/2010 12:07:00 AM

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

[KollelH blog] Pinchas

Perhaps one of the most striking stories of Tanach occurs in parshas Pinchas. A group of five sisters approached Moshe Rabeinu to rightfully request a portion of Eretz Yisrael. Though it is well known that chazal give our women credit where credit is due, (most famously, that in the merit of the righteous women we exited Egypt) here we are presented with nashim chakmonios - wise women, who with their love for Eretz Yisrael and their rare understanding of the Torah, brought forth their question to the entire court of Moshe.  Moshe said he did not know and  must seek counsel with Hashem, and the women were proven correct!

Immediately preceding the counting for nachlas ha'aretz, Hashem commanded the Jews to retain animosity towards the midyonim. This seems to be somewhat unnecessary, as the next parshah presents the mitzvah to wage war against them. What changed in the interim that caused development of the mitzvah?

The Kli Yakar  (26:2) notes the curious reversal of the order of the letters 'י and 'ה , that were added to the family names in this parshah. He explains that when an איש - a man, assumes his appropriate leadership role, the 'י in his name precedes the 'ה of the אשה - a woman, and the correct spelling of the name of G-D is formed. However when man is drawn to desirously follow an inappropriate leadership of a woman, the 'י in his name follows the 'ה of the אשה. When the Jewish men responded to the call of the bnos midyon, their spiritual leadership was affected to the extent that the 'ה representing the nashim tzidkonios of our nation preceded the family names whereas the 'י representing the men followed.

It was at this point in time that the women of klal yisrael 'took the lead' as shown by the bnos Tzlafchad's wisdom, which even surpassed that of Moshe Rabeinu! [regarding this specific halachah]

It may be said then, that until the reversed roles would be corrected, Hashem did not want to command a war against midyon, since, as is well known (regarding the mitzvah of p'ru ur'vu), "war is the way of men and not the way of women". Rather Hashem commanded us to retain resentment against the midyonites, which is quite in sync with the nature of women. (see mes. nidah 31b)

Leadership is sometimes expressed in not such obvious ways. Maran R' Shmuel Berenbaum ztz"l said, that Shabbos shows its true superiority over yom tov when it offers yom tov the majority of its shmoneh esray prayer.

The Targum Yonasan states that Moshe specifically announced his need to ask Hashem the halachah, in order to teach the men of the sanhedrin not to be too prideful in the face of the people to admit being unknowledgeable.

When Moshe was not led into naturally acting as if he knew the answer to the sisters' question, but instead he admirably chose to openly admit his lack of knowledge, he reinstated the position of leadership for the men of klal yisrael. A true leader does not follow the popular vote or the expectations of  the masses. Leadership is formed by unashamedly doing what is right no matter how unpopular it may be. This is an example of stiras zekainim binyan - what appears to be (self)destructive but is truthfully constructive.

Only after this did Hashem command the Jewish men to take full revenge and wage war against midyon.

Let us retain our leadership positions, not necessarily by being assertive but rather by caring for our flock and humbly doing what is correct!

Posted By KH to KollelH blog at 7/08/2010 12:38:00 AM

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 7/06/2010 11:50:00 PM

Doing things out of their proper order is comparable to smoking a cigar.... BACKWARDS.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 7/06/2010 11:50:00 PM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 7/06/2010 11:47:00 PM

Knowing we CAN be good or great offers a dangerous sense of contentment. The world's most evil people can bear testimony.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 7/06/2010 11:47:00 PM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 7/06/2010 12:12:00 PM

Dishonesty requires one to promise and swear. An honest person just has to give his WORD.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 7/06/2010 12:12:00 PM

Monday, July 5, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 7/05/2010 11:51:00 PM

What you fully understand as innappropriate and wrong can be more binding than the Law itself.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 7/05/2010 11:51:00 PM

Sunday, July 4, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 7/04/2010 11:07:00 PM

When a leader assumes the role of a follower, his leadership is revoked. A parent, teacher, or husband whose focus is to RECEIVE, has lost his authority.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 7/04/2010 11:07:00 PM

Friday, July 2, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 7/02/2010 10:40:00 AM

If you are constantly aware of G-D, you will notice how G-D is constantly aware of you.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 7/02/2010 10:40:00 AM

Thursday, July 1, 2010

[Ein Yaakov Highlights] WEEK 7 BALAK

The parshah of balak teaches us that the spoken word is powerful, regardless of the thought, intent or sentiment behind the words. Although surely 'kavvanos' multiply this power manifold, there is tremendous value just to saying ashrei as well.

There is even more reason to focus on the ashrei after shmoneh esrai and the ashrei of minchah. (seder hayom)

The two specialties of ashrei - the aleph bais & poseach es yadechah, are united in praising Hashem for the sustenance he continuously supplies. Spiritually and physically. (maharshah)

Ashrei is unique in its complete praise of Hashem regarding parnassah, without making any request! (kosev)

The good will -ratzon- of humans amongst each other is what opens Hashem's Hand. (malbim)

The merit of Torah [the aleph bais] is what produces parnassah [poseach..]. (R'y'f')
We kiss our tefillin shel yad while reciting poseach... and our shel rosh upon the word umasbiah. Hashem supplies us through our hishtadlus and handiwork, but the satiation does not depend on what is produced, but on our mindset, to which Hashem gives the capability to be satisfied.

(we then got sidetracked by a "sticky topic")

Posted By Dovi milstein to Ein Yaakov Highlights at 7/02/2010 12:34:00 AM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 7/01/2010 07:41:00 AM

One who is unique in a specific trait or talent has a mission to fulfil in life. He must expend all effort for this, to the point of complete self sacrifice.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 7/01/2010 07:41:00 AM

Saturday, June 26, 2010

[KollelH blog] BALAK

We find the incredible report of Bil'am's donkey talking to him! Although we know that animals can communicate, the power of speech is unique to humankind. This is not a privilege or side benefit granted to the homo-sapien, but specifically the direct expression of the different, not just better, mind and soul that humans possess.

We do not find in chazal that G-D bestowed a mind or soul upon the donkey of Bil'am, rather, in pirkei avos, it states that the mouth of Bil'am's donkey was created on erev shabbos. This would seem that the words of the donkey were not a product of its mind at all, but solely from its mouth. How then can the Torah say that the donkey spoke if the words just eminated from its mouth?

Similarly we may ask regarding Bil'am himself. What was the point of G-D placing the words of brachah into Bil'am's mouth if he surely had no intention of blessing the Jews? Wouldn't those words then be quite meaningless? Yet, we see that Balak was greatly upset by the blessings; obviously, he understood the words would be quite effective!

It seems very clear that the spoken word is powerful, regardless of the mindset or complete lack thereof of the speaker!

This is strongly illustrated once more by the fact that G-D did not merely de-activate Bil'am's power to curse the Jews. This indicates that de-activating the power of one's words would be a greater miracle and change of world order than placing different words into Bil'am's mouth!

We often read and hear about the tremendous importance of having proper concentration during tefilah. Without doubt, that is definitely true! However, we must also recognize the great power of every word emanating from our mouths even when spoken absentmindedly!

This applies not only in Torah and prayer but with words used in social settings as well.

Rabbi Avigdor Miller z"tzl had the beautiful custom to quietly bless pedestrians who passed him by on his daily walk. He would also pause in front of the Mirrer Yeshivah daily and bless all of its students and faculty. In accordance with the passuk, "Va'avarchah mivarachekah" - "And I (Hashem says to Avraham) will bless those who bless you", Rabbi Miller said, he would look forward to blessing others so he would be blessed himself.

There can be no better appliction of the above lesson than to actively start blessing others, without concern as to how much we really mean it. If words can do harm, they most certainly can do tremendous good!

T'hiyu Bruchim!

Posted By KH to KollelH blog at 6/27/2010 12:14:00 AM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 6/26/2010 07:50:00 PM

The spoken word is powerful, regardless of the thought, intent or sentiment behind the words.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 6/26/2010 07:50:00 PM

Thursday, June 24, 2010

[KollelH blog] BALAK

Anyone familiar with this week's parshah and its midrashim about Bilam, would be quite mystified by a related mishnah in Pirkei Avos (5.19).

"One who has these three attributes is amongst the students of Avraham avinu, whereas having their opposite traits would render him a student of Bilam the rashah. Ayin tovah, Ruach n'muchah, & Nefesh sh'failah........ What is the difference between their students? Avraham's students reap reward in this world and inherit the world to come...."

The questions abound.
  1. Are there only three opposing approaches in the schools of thought of our great patriarch and the evil Bilam?!
  2. Secondly, how can the mishnah ask what is the difference between them - one would assume they are quite distinguishable from each other!
  3. Thirdly, from the mishnah's response, it seems as if their difference lies only in their reward & punishment, which is blatantly self understood. The question and answer seem to be completely uninformative!
  4. Lastly, why does the mishnah refer to those possessing these traits as talmidim - students? There are many Tanaim suggesting good practices throughout pirkei avos, yet seldom are the followers of these middos called talmidim of their originators!

I would like to share my simple understanding of this remarkable mishnah.

The Medrash Rabbah (parshas toldos) states, that so long as Yakov and Eisav were under bar mitzvah, they both studied in yeshivah and one could not notice any difference in their spirituality. It was only after they turned thirteen, when Eisav left for the fields and Yakov remained to learn, that their differences were exposed. It is not necessarily one's actions that will shape his future, but his underlying middos.

R' Chaim Vital writes (Sharei Hakdushah; qouted in many sifrei mussar) that middos are the foundations upon which all of torah rests. Our character traits and moods are what largely push us either to perform mitzvos or do aveiros.
When a person is accustomed to specific traits, they will usually end up leading his life, and controlling most of his decisions in the future. It is in this training ground that the mishnah refers to us as being talmidim - students. Some traits have a more all-encompassing control over our lives than others. As one trains himself specifically in the above three middos, our mishnah informs us that REGARDLESS of what our actions are at the time, we are students being indoctrinated into the path of either Avraham or Bilam. Our actions at the time may show us to be great tzadikim or vice versa, but we are sure to end up in the manner of our training in these three middos.
This is why the mishnah does not notice any obvious difference between the two "students". It is not discussing someone who has already matured into being an Avraham avinu or a Bilam harashah. Rather it is referring to two people who are quite the same, yet they are practicing and training in the 'schools' of these 'headmasters'.

As the summer rolls in let us check which school we're registered in for the coming semester!
  • Ayin tovah - 'a good eye' - a general feeling of good will for others. As opposed to being stingy and unhappy about the success of others.
  • Ruach n'muchah - a humble spirit. As opposed to looking for honor and recognition.
  • Nefesh sh'failah - a simple 'apetite' - being satisfied with one's lot. As opposed to desiring more and wanting what others may have.

The above especially true regarding children in their formative years, before their actions can properly portray their personality. These youngsters, whose temporary role in life is to be students - learning and training from all their experiences,  are definitely included in this mishnah.

Posted By Dovi milstein to KollelH blog at 6/25/2010 02:58:00 AM

Saturday, June 19, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 6/19/2010 09:18:00 PM

Any misdeed, when done in public, has a permanent effect in people's minds.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 6/19/2010 09:18:00 PM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 6/19/2010 07:49:00 PM

Your worst enemy can teach you a lesson (or two) so long as your willing to listen.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 6/19/2010 07:49:00 PM

Monday, June 14, 2010

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 6/14/2010 05:32:00 AM

When we lack understanding it is our choice to view the wise as foolish or recognize their true superiority.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 6/14/2010 05:32:00 AM