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