Without Vision, The Nation is Uncontrolled!!!
There is a verse in Yirmiyahu: "Who is the wise man, who will understand
this, what the voice of G-d spoke to him, and told : For what was the land
lost, and is burned up like a wilderness, that none passes through? And G-d
says: Because they have forsaken my Torah which I set before them, and have
not obeyed my voice, not walked therein!" (Yirmiyahu 9:11) Our Rabbis
explained: (Baba Metzia 85): This matter was asked of the sages and they
could not explain it, asked of the prophets and they could not explain it.
Until Hakadosh Baruch Hu explained it Himself, as it says: "And G-d says:
Because they have forsaken my Torah which I set before them" because they
did make a blessing for the Torah beforehand. Rashi explained: When they
would learn Torah, they would not make a blessing beforehand, and since they
did not make a blessing, they revealed that they did not consider the Torah
an important gift. This is why this matter is relevant on the Shabbat
before Shavuot, the holiday of the giving of the Torah, the holiday of
appreciation of this important gift. However, anyone who looks at that
chapter in Yirmiyahu will be shocked and stunned! The chapter begins with
the most stringent sins that were done in Israel in that period, and not
just by individuals and exceptions. "For they are all adulterers, an
assembly of treacherous men...They proceed from evil to evil, and they know
me not, says G-d...And they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and
weary themselves to commit iniquity...have walked after the stubbornness of
their own heart, and after the Baalim (idolatry), as their fathers taught
them." "The first Temple, for what was it destroyed? For three matters
that were there- idolatry, forbidden sexual practices, and murder." (Yoma 9)
These are clear statements! How can we then understand the question: "Who
is the wise man, who will understand this" this matter was asked of the
sages - and they could not explain it "what the voice of G-d has said to him
and told" - this matter was asked of the prophets and they could not
explain it, "Why does the land perish, and is burned up like a wilderness,
that none passes through?" The sins are explicit in the words of the
prophets, revealed clearly to all! More than that: they are listed in that
very chapter, in that very prophecy. Why should no man know, until they
needed the answer of the Creator, may his name be blessed?
And they most pointed question: Instead of the Creator, may he be blessed,
mentioning the serious, terrible sins, the sins of idolatry, forbidden
immoral practices and murder, he mentions the lightest of transgressions,
the lack of performance of the positive commandment of the blessing of the
This matter certainly begs for explanation!
However, when we look further at the matter, we will understand. The
question was much deeper than that, and only the Creator could answer it.
This is what Yirmiyahu the prophet asked: It is true that the situation has
declined, and we have reached a point of no return. (See Rashi Shir
Hashirim 5:6, that in the days of Yirmiyahu the decree about the Destruction
had already been made, and it was impossible to nullify it!) It is true
that the nation is stained with the most terrible of sins but how did this
happen? Didn't "I plant thee a noble vine, an entirely right seed: how then
are you turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine to me?"
(Yirmiyahu 2:21) This was such a holy and elevated nation, the nation of
G-d in the full meaning of the word, how few years had passed since they
checked from Dan to Be'er Sheva and did not find an ignoramus! (Sanhedrin
94) What happened, how did this quick, crushing decline occur?
To this, no man had an answer. Not the sages, not the prophets, they all
stood shocked. Until Hakadosh Baruch Hu came, Who investigates hearts and
insides, and revealed the secret: Because they did not make the blessing on
the Torah beforehand, even if they did learn it, even if they kept its
commandments, it was not a precious gift in their eyes! There was
crookedness in their list of values, they reversed the order of priorities.
They did not understand that the matters of this world are an entranceway to
the matters of the world to come, to the eternal acquisitions that are the
main thing. Certainly, one must work and profit, to plow and sow,
everything in everything, but this is not the main thing and this is not the
goal. The goal and the main point are spiritual advancement, one's complete
personal acquisition. Instead of recognizing this, they "overturned the
creations." They turned physical matters into the main point, used wealth
to measure success, and property to measure happiness; Status and material
possessions were in forefront of their vision. No, this is not a sin, but
it is an opening to destruction of values, and the animalization of society,
for "Without vision the people become uncontrolled!" (Mishlei 29:18)
History, unfortunately, repeats itself, with incredible precision! Let us
look at the serious thought of the voter who thinks about the acquisition
of more values for the children of Israel, about the increase in education,
about the spreading of even more classes in Torah? Who trembles at the
spreading violence in the schools, at the plague of drugs that destroys all
goodness, at the destruction of all barriers and the impassioned furthering
from the eternal values of the nation?! Woe is to the nation that does not
make the blessing on the Torah first; Without vision, there will be no
control! Fortunate are those who prevent the erosion, who cry out loudly
with the voice of Judaism!
Let Us Not Stop Concentrating on the Essential!
The Hafetz Haim zs"l (in his introduction to his book "The Camp of Israel")
brought the words of the holy Zohar, that the camp of Israel in the desert
was like the camps of the angels above. Just as the camps of the angels
surround, as it were, the divine Shechina, so too the tribes surrounded the
Mishkan, the home of the divine Shechina, "to teach us the he is our G-d,
our Father, our King, and we are His nation and servants, his sons like
sprouts of olives around his table."
He adds that even now, in the time of destruction and exile, all Jews
throughout the world pray facing Yerushalayim, to the place of the Temple
from which the Shechina has not moved. "If so, we are still like the flags
[of the tribes] in the desert, and even though we are far in body, our souls
are close, and our eyes and hearts are there always."
These words are wondrous, but also obligating: that in all of our deeds,
wherever we may be, and whatever we may do, that our goals should always
face in one direction, to the holy Shechina and its will!
In these days when one's head aches from all the noise and propaganda, we
will not let our heads be swayed and we will not stop focusing on the
essential: as believing Jews, our focus is on the Mishkan of G-d, to do the
will of the holy Shechina!
From The Wellsprings of the Parasha
"And I have taken the Leviim from within the children of Israel"
The Rav Siftei Cohen zs"l was surprised: what is the explanation of the
verse "and I have taken the Leviim from within the children of Israel, and
the Leviim will be mine." What is the meaning of this declaration, did it
not already say "bring closer the tribe of Levi" and foretell their being
chosen for the holy work?
He explains, that the Leviim were chosen for the work in the Mishkan when
they gathered around Moshe Rabennu to take revenge on those who had
worshipped the Golden Calf, as it says "Let every man put his sword on his
thigh and pass from gate to gate...to bring a blessing on yourselves today."
It is known that the tribe of Levi was the smallest of the tribes, and it
arose to take vengeance and pass judgement on all of Israel with no man
rising up against and fighting them; no one protested or prevented them from
doing so. This was a miracle and a wonder, aid from Above, and so for what
were they chosen? It must be that they were chosen because of their
intentions and readiness, and not because of their deeds which they
accomplished with help from above.
This is what it means "Bring closer the tribe of Levi." Despite the fact
that their deeds were done with miraculous aid "And I have taken the
Leviim" but they gathered To Moshe without knowing that they would merit
this help, "and the Leviim will be mine" because of their intentions and
readiness, and therefore they merited!
So too anyone who works to strengthen the barriers of holiness, will
certainly merit aid from Above, but will receive his complete reward because
of his readiness and willingness to increase the honor of Heaven!
"And when the Mishkan traveled, the Leviim would take it down"
Rabennu Bahya zs"l wrote: we have a clear principle: The four letter name
of G-d is a name of mercy, but if it is written backwards it shows that
there is a harsh judgement. Just as the four letter name backwards is
hinted to in the letters by Haman's statement right before his demise, when
he said : "And all this is worth nothing to me," which includes G-d's four
letter name backwards (the last letter of each word), and the attribute of
judgement fell on him then.
In the work of the Leviim the verse mentions that a stranger who
participates will die, just as G-d's anger was kindled at Uza. Therefore
the verse hints to G-d's name backwards twice in this verse: "And when the
Mishkan traveled, the Leviim would take it down. And when the Mishkan
stopped to rest, the Leviim would put it up and a stranger who participates
will die." (first letter of each word).
"Moshe and Aharon took all the men who had been chosen by name"
The holy Alshich zs"l writes: First Moshe and Aharon took the princes
(Nesiim) and appointed them over the counting, and then "they gathered the
whole nation." At first glance, they could have shortened the procedure:
calling the whole nation and gathering them, and at the same time to choose
the Nesiim and begin the counting.
But if everyone were standing there, and would hear when they chose the
twelve Nesiim, this would cause many great men mental anguish. Therefore,
the called the Nesiim on their own, not in front of everyone!
Parents and educators certainly need to invest themselves with sensitivity
to the feelings of children and students, and not to favor some over others!
The Golden Column
The Gaon Rabbi Yehuda Sadkah zs"l
In the last week if the counting of the omer, the last week between Pesah
and Shavuot, We will recount a wonderful Devar Torah that we heard from
Rabbi Yehuda Sadkah zs"l, the Rosh Yeshiva of "Porat Yosef." Our Rabbis
tell us (Nedarim 49b) about the holy Tana (sage of the Mishna) Rabbi Yehuda
ben Rabbi Ilai who could not drink wine, and thus made kiddush on bread or
"the drink of that nation." Only on Pesah he had to drink the four cups,
which resulted in a massive headache lasting from Pesah till Shavuot!
Our teacher asked: Since when have we heard of a headache lasting for fifty
days, until Shavuot? He answered: We know that the four cups were
instituted to remember the four languages of redemption, as it says: "And I
will take you out from the suffering of Egypt, and I will save you from
their slavery, and I will redeem you with a mighty hand and a drawn forearm,
and I will take you for me to be a nation and I will be your G-d." The
first three languages detail the exodus from oppression to redemption, and
the are all fulfilled on the night of the seder. At the time of the exodus
from Egypt, there was complete freedom. But the fourth language "And I will
take you for me to be a nation, and I will be your G-d," was not fulfilled
until the giving of the Torah, when we became the nation of G-d.
Our teacher ended: The stage of redemption from slavery and oppression is
the easier stage. But the arrival to spiritual redemption is a real
"headache" taking continual effort for the fifty days of the counting of
Then he would end saying: Everyone is happy about the establishment of the
state of Israel and its independence. But very few realize that the
essential part is still in front of us: the acquisition of a Jewish
character to the state of the Jews, and the return of the crown to its glory!
Halachic Decisions according to the order of the Shulchan
according to the decisions of the Rishon Letzion,
The Holiday of Shavuot
By the Gaon Rabbi David Yosef Shlita, Rosh Beit Midrash "Yehaveh Daat"
A) On the sixth of Sivan falls the holiday of Shavuot, after the counting
of the omer for forty-nine days which are seven weeks. This is why it is
called "the holiday of weeks," as it says in the Torah, (Devarim 16:9-10)
"Seven weeks you will count... and you will make Shavuot for Hashem, your
G-d" Our Rabbis said: Why did G-d make Shavuot dependent on the counting of
the omer, unlike any other holiday? This is because when Israel was
foretold that they would leave Egypt, they were also foretold that they
would receive the Torah fifty days after leaving, as it says, (Shemot 3:12)
"When you take this nation out of Egypt, you will worship G-d on this
mountain," the extra "nun" in the word "ta'avdun" instead of "ta'avodu," is
to hint that after fifty days from leaving Egypt, they would receive the
Torah on the mountain of Sinai. When Israel left Egypt, from their great
love, they would count every day: one day passed, two days passed, etc.
because it seemed like a long time to them from their desire to receive the
Torah and their love. They were looking forward and hoping for the
receiving of the Torah and thus this counting was established for generations.
B) It is customary to decorate the synagogues and the houses with plants,
flowers and roses in honor of the holiday of Shavuot. It is also customary
to decorate the Torah scrolls with crowns of flowers and roses. A basis for
this custom can be found in the words of our Rabbis (Shabbat 88a): "Every
word that came out of the mouth of G-d caused the whole world to fill with
smell of spices." It is also customary to spread branches of trees in the
synagogues and the houses, to remember what our Rabbis said (Rosh Hashana
16a): that on the holiday of Shavuot we are judged about the fruits of the
trees. One may have doubts about this custom, because of the fear of the
prohibition: "Do not walk in their (non-Jewish) ways." However, the Halacha
holds that this prohibition does not apply here, and the custom of Israel is
C) There are those who say that on the night of Shavuot one should wait to
make kiddush until after the stars come out, so that it will be definitely
night, (that is, a quarter hour past the setting of the sun). This is
because if one makes kiddush before it is definitely night, he is
eliminating some of the forty-ninth day of the counting, and it says
(Vayikra 23:15) "Seven complete weeks they will be." There are some who
disagree and say that one need not worry about this, and it is permissible
to make kiddush while it is still day. In places where it is possible to
hold like the stringent view in this matter, it is proper to do so.
However, in places where sunset is very late in the summer and the household
is worried to wait until night, and this will cause a disruption in the
"Tikkun Lel Shavuot," (which we fulfill in accordance with the holy Zohar
and our Rabbi the Ari), we may be lenient and make kiddush and eat while it
is still day. If it is possible, it is good to wait until the beginning of
sunset, when the sun is covered from our eyes and then to make kiddush and
eat. It is also good to eat an olive's worth of food after the stars come out.
D) Even in places where the custom is not to make kiddush and eat before
the stars come out, it is permissible to pray Arbit of the night of Shavuot
while it is still day after "pelag hamincha," and one need not be stringent
and pray Arbit specifically after the stars come out.
E) In the kiddush of the night of Shavuot, we make three blessings: Borei
Peri Hagafen, Asher Bahar Banu Mikol Am, and Sheheheyanu.
The Wonders of Creation
Someone who wants to breathe pleasant air, free from pollution and to hear
the voices of the birds, should go to the forest. Thirty percent of the dry
land on the planet is forests. Forests grow in the places where conditions
are best for them. The forest needs an average temperature of at least ten
degrees Celsius, in the summer the amount of rain must be at least averaging
20 millimeters per year. Since forests are dependent on conditions of
atmosphere and location, each place where there is a forest, it is
appropriate for its conditions. Thus there is a range of types of forests,
such as the tropical rain forests, the woodlands around the Mediterranean
sea and others, such that each type has the appropriate type of trees. Thus,
for example, in the tropical regions, the trees grow to very high heights.
Anyone who wants to know how important the forests are for man, should
imagine for himself for a moment what the world would look like if suddenly
all the forests in the world would disappear and the world was left bald.
The ruler of China tried to cut down all the tress as part of a war against
insects and other damagers that live in the trees. Then the whole nature
was not only the color of tar and asphalt, but covered in dust and millions
of Chinese suffered from difficulties in breathing. This caused the Chinese
to immediately replant millions of trees. There is no doubt that without
the forests the mountains would be left bald, the land would dry up and turn
to dust and the wind would carry it to the four corners of the world. The
rain, for its part would flow quickly down whatever was left of the land,
causing tremendous floods. This is only some of the damage that would occur
if the Creator had not created the forests with their many trees.
There is no doubt that a man who has been granted wisdom should not try to
experiment to prove the point, how terrible the world would be if we did not
have trees. In this way, there is no Jew who would risk danger, and try to
see what would happen if he separates himself from Torah and its
commandments. History has proven unfortunately the great losses, including
political, social and financial losses that were caused by leaving the Torah
We Jews know that every physical matter is influenced by our spiritual
level, as we have learned "Listen, my son to the rebuke of your father, and
do not forget the Torah of your mother."
A Father and His Son (part 15)
Summary: A story of a Rabbi who enjoyed the hospitality of a generous
elderly man, and blessed him with a son. One day, the voice was heard of a
wild beggar, who tried through force to increase the amount of a donation.
When the Rabbi discussed this with him he discovered that this was the son
that was born through his blessing. He was sorry to see him a boor and
ignoramus, and convinced him to stay with him until he cleared up what had
happened to his father's inheritance.
The young man agreed, and the Rabbi instructed his family to treat him
generously and forgivingly, and to turn their eyes from his wild behavior
and his ear-piercing speech. Not to react to his utterances, not to answer
his taunts, and not to respond to his curses. It was hard for his family
and students to listen to the Rabbi's words and to suffer the young man's
actions, but their father and Rabbi's commandment was important to them.
Meanwhile, the Rabbi sent away to clear up what had happened to the
inheritance, for the generous hospitable man was very rich. He discovered
that with his wealth, the phrase of "he who salts his money, it will stay"
was fulfilled. The old man had no preservative. The wealth dwindled when
the old man experienced sorrow due to his son's behavior, and abandoned his
property. Finally he died penniless, and the creditors took everything that
was left. The youth had nothing, no parents, no property, nothing.
The Rabbi told the news to the youth, who accepted it calmly. They hadn't
really told him anything new. "If so," he said, "I will return to my
wandering. Tell me where are the beggars with whom I came, and send me on
my way as you promised!"
"As you wish," said the Rabbi," but I have an offer of work for you."
"I don't want to work," said the youth, cutting him off.
The Rabbi drafted his attribute of pity: "It is not really work. The court
needs a messenger, to give out news, to perform errands, to make decrees, to
call people to judgement. Sometimes, the messenger is sent once or twice a
day, sometimes he spends his whole day doing nothing and receives his
salary. Thus he saves up money with which he can satisfy himself."
The youth agreed to try, and proved himself faithful to the goal. He was
so dedicated, that they used to say that if the Rabbi told him to jump into
fire, he would jump into fire willingly. The Rabbi saw his dedication and
decided to take advantage of the opportunity. He said: "Sit with me one
hour a day and I will teach you the living Torah of G-d." The youth said:
"With one condition. I am willing to listen, without saying anything." The
Rabbi sighed and said: "May it only be so." He sat with him and showed him
the letters of the alef bet, and he was silent. He taught him how to read,
and the youth was silent. To read the siddur, and the youth was silent..
After a month he moaned: "What a waste of time, nothing has been absorbed!"
The Rabbi sighed and his hands were weakened. He lost all hope.
Who Wants a Blessing
Who wants a blessing? Who doesn't want! When there is blessing,
everything looks different! When there is blessing of health and in
business, the home is a place of peace and a family nest and the children
are a source of pride and joy. Everyone's face shines who wouldn't want a
blessing! How can one get a blessing, how can one acquire it?
The wonderful key to a blessing, the blessing of merit and life, is found
in the explanation to the Ramban in our parasha. Bnei Yisrael came to be
counted before Moshe Rabennu and Aharon the Kohen. They were counted in
front of them. Why? "For one who comes in front of the father of all
prophets and Aharon the holy one of G-d, and is known to them by name, this
will be for him a merit for life."
This is true, but still not understood: let them present themselves, to be
mentioned for a blessing. But the counting is for what? Why would this
mustering at the same time as a counting of the complete number of Bnei
Yisrael? The Ramban adds that there is another dimension: "For he (one who
is counted) is within the secret of the nation and within benei ysrael, and
the merit of the many is in their number. For each of them there will be a
blessing in their being counted before Moshe and Aharon, for they will place
their eye on them for good." The explanation: There is a big difference
between one who comes before he leader of the generation and the holy one of
G-d in a personal way and receives his blessing, and one who is counted with
all those who are respectful of the leaders of the generation, "he will come
within the secret of his nation and within of benei yisrael." There is here
"a great merit in the numbering" the merit of the many being counted
together with a complete blessing of great strength for a surplus of
blessing and success. This gives the leaders of the generation more
strength and power "for they will place their eye on them for good!"
This week is the opportunity that is given only once every few years to
be counted together by the call of the leaders of the generation, as one man
with one heart, and to heed their holy call. Without doubt, for those who
are counted, will open the horn of plenty and great light, for merit and for
life, joy and livelihood, and all good and blessing!