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