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