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