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And so, the nation has spoken, it has chosen a Prime Minister - a democratic festivity in all its glory. Or is it? As believing Jews, the Torah teaches us to assess the situation with a wise perspective, with an eye to the truth.
Morning rose, the sun's rays shone on the Israelite camp in the wilderness. The tent-covers were removed and the fortunate ones found their portion of mann right near the opening to their tents. It sat in a crystal box, wrapped in frozen dew, one "omer" for each individual. Others went outside and were somewhat taken aback; they had to go look around for their portion. This wasn't very pleasant, as everyone around could tell that these were not included among the sadikim. They, the "benonim" (neither righteous nor wicked), left the boundaries of the camp, and there they found their portion waiting for them. Others did not even earn this courtesy. They had to wander even further and search about until eventually finding their portion. In the end, however, they all took their serving of mann, having exerted one level of effort or another. Whoever stayed inside his tent idly with his arms folded went hungry; his mann melted in the sun. So, those who went and took their portion could justifiably say, "We put in the effort and got what we needed." But could they really say so? True, they had to go through the trouble of searching and picking their mann, but the Mechilta said, "While you still sleep in your beds, the Al-mighty provides your sustenance." In fact, the pasuk says so explicitly: "And when the dew descended upon the camp at night, the mann would descend thereupon" (Bemidbar 11:9). In other words, each individual's portion of mann was prepared already while he slept. Although he had to get up and find his serving, what he found was pre-prepared specifically for him.
To clarify this concept, let us take a look at a story in the Gemara (Masechet Ketubot 67b) about a poor man who came before Raba. Raba welcomed the pauper warmly and asked, "What would you like to eat?" "A fat chicken and aged wine," answered the mendicant. He would settle for nothing less.
Raba asked, "How can you allow yourself such a menu?" After all, the man was not at all wealthy and he depended upon generous, charitable donations from the community. How, Raba asked, could such a man accustom himself to such luxury?
The pauper replied, "Do I partake from the table of the community? I eat at the Al-mighty's table!" He added a Biblical source for his assertion: "Everyone's eyes look longingly to You, and You provide them their food at his time." The beggar noted that the pasuk employs the singular form, "in his time," implying that the Al-mighty supplies each individual with his needs at the proper time.
Suddenly, a guest appeared at Raba's door. Raba had not seen her, his sister, in thirteen years, and out of the blue she came for a visit. And she didn't come empty-handed - she brought with her a fat chicken and aged wine.
Raba asked, "What is this? Why did this happen, that all of a sudden my sister comes with a fat chicken and aged wine? I have already spoken too much - go eat."
This is a wonderful story, one which actually happened. Undoubtedly, such a coincidence, that Raba's sister came exactly at that moment and with exactly that menu, proves the point that we all eat off the table of the Al-mighty Himself. One question, however, arises. How did it happen that a sister did not visit her brother, the leading scholar of his generation, for thirteen years? We may reasonably assume that she lived some distance away, and therefore did not have the opportunity to visit too often. Perhaps it took her one or two days of travel - who knows? The point is that she must have left to visit her revered brother a day or two before this incident, certainly quite some time before the pauper showed up at Raba's home. We see that the Al-mighty concerns Himself with our livelihood and knows exactly where to direct it, where to send the chicken and wine, and where we will be when the time for the meal arrives. This is the Torah's outlook, this is the true perspective. This is the declaration that leaves our mouths each time we bless Hashem for our food: "For he is the G-d Who feeds and gives livelihood to everyone, His table is set for everyone, and He has prepared sustenance and food for all His creatures that He created with His mercy and abundance of kindness!" Indeed, we must bear the responsibility of working for our livelihood. In our sins, "we have brought evil upon our work and cutback our livelihood" (mishnah, end of Kiddushin). But once we have secured our source of sustenance, we must realize that we secured only that which had already been prepared for us. The same applies to all things: our work and effort do not create anything; they bring us to what has been previously determined. This is the proper outlook, specifically with regard to the selection of a national leader, which was undoubtedly predetermined in the heavens (Baba Batra 91b). The Gemara (Berachot 55a) teaches us that the Creator Himself announces the arrival of a good leader. Let us hope that indeed he will be so.
There is a way out
Many people are asking, what will be? Is there any way out of the thicket, any respite on the horizon from the political and security crisis in Israel, from the economic and industrial situation? Are we in a dark tunnel with a light at the end, or in a dark abyss whose walls are closing in on us?
The answer appears in our parashah. Benei Yisrael walked for three days in the wilderness and could find no water. They finally came to a lake and eagerly ran to drink. Much to their disappointment, they could not drink from the lake - the waters were bitter. "The nation complained to Moshe, saying, 'What will we drink?' He cried to Hashem, and Hashem showed him a tree. He cast it into the water, and the waters sweetened." Remarkable! The pasuk continues, "There He placed for them laws and statutes, and there He put them to the test." To what do these "laws and statutes" refer? The Nessiv of Volozhin zs"l explained that Benei Yisrael were instructed to always remember when confronted by challenges and tests - be it an individual or the nation at large - there are laws and statutes governing divine Providence. On the shores of every lake of bitter waters there is already a tree ready to sweeten them. The Creator supplies the remedy already before the infliction of the wound. We need only to pray that our eyes open, we need to cry to the Al-mighty in order to be saved.
Indeed, this is the answer: there is certainly a way out. We must turn our eyes to the heavens and ask for proper guidance.
Different animals have different ways of reacting to weather changes, and one who follows their conduct can actually predict the weather. Take, for example, the conduct of various creatures when rain or a storm is nearby. The spider is an astute weatherman and may be relied upon like a barometer; at least this is what scientists say. Since the spider cannot tolerate moisture, it leaves its nest and returns only after the sun shines and the dew has been dried. If one sees a spider walking along in the early morning hours, he can rest assured that the air is clear from dew and the time has come to prepare for harsh weather. The spider also dislikes heat. It therefore generally spends the afternoons sleeping in its nest. At times, however, it may be seen walking about searching for food specifically during the afternoon hours. You may ask, why does it do this? Why would it change its usual practice? The spider does this when it senses that the weather will soon change for the worse. Its natural instinct, which the Al-mighty provided the spider in His infinite mercy, tells it that strong winds could potentially tear down its web. It therefore hurries during the hot afternoon to find food for its family before the onset of the storm. The spider usually walks about in the evening time. A spider walking around at nighttime means nice weather in the morning. Bees, too, serve as accurate forecasters. As a storm draws near, they simply flee from the fields and flock in long, crowded lines to the hive. If one sees a large group of bees pouring into a hive in the middle of the day, he can bet on the fact that a stormy wind and rain will soon arrive. Swallows are also skilled weathermen. As rain approaches they quickly cross the sky, rise, descend, and scream. Whoever sees the animated swallows must take his umbrella, as rain will soon begin falling. As we know, human beings have also attained this achievement - the ability to predict the weather and explain why the weather will be as it will. However, to control weather, to decide when it will rain and when spring will arrive - this talent lies beyond the power of the human being. We Jews know that rain is one the keys found exclusively in the hands of the Creator. On the other hand, we Jews yield influence in this regard and we have a trick of sorts how to bring about the needed large quantities of rain, a mechanism revealed to us in the Torah: "It will be, if you heed My commandments that I command you today. then I will provide your land's water in its time."
taken from the work, "Hasaraf Mi'Brisk"
FLASHBACK: Broken and shattered lay the author of the book "Netivot Olam," a heretical work composed to undermine the Jewish religion, which was written irresponsibly under the auspices of the missionaries. Later, when the content of the book was outright contradicted and disproved, the missionaries abandoned the author, cutting any further funding for his writings. He became lonely and isolated, and eventually he requested permission from his daughter to live with her and her family. He lived there tormented and torn by pangs of conscience, and just before he died he asked to tell his story. These are his words, as reported by his daughter to Rav Binyamin Diskin:
"Our family origin is in the city of Altuna, Germany, one of the three cities known by the acronym, "Ivah" - Altuna, Hamburg, and Wezenberg. This cities were full of Torah scholars, yeshivot and gedolim, to the point where people would associate them with the pasuk, "Hashem has chosen Siyon - 'Ivah' [literally, 'He has desired it. '] as His dwelling place." The rabbi of these three communities was the renowned scholar Rav Yehonatan Eibshiss zs"l. Rav Yaakov Emden zs"l, who refused to accept a formal rabbinical post as it required a level of submission to the wealthy members of the community, was among the leading scholars in Altuna. He would joke that each day when he recites the berachah, "Who has not made me a slave [in Hebrew, 'eved']," he has in mind to thank Hashem for not making him an "eved" with the letter "alef," which stands for "av bet din" - local rabbi. As is well known, Rav Yaakov Emden was a zealot for Hashem's honor and fought bitterly against the remnants of the Sabbatean messianic movement. Its branches continued to operate secretly even after having been put to shame by the conversion to Islam of their alleged messiah, Shabbtai Sevi. The movement's survivors were held captive by the beliefs and even brought others into their teachings. The danger they posed was like that presented by the seething coals remaining after the blaze has been extinguished, which could potentially start the fire anew.
In his fiery zealousness and harsh suspicion, Rav Yaakov Emden came out in vehement, public opposition to the amulets written by Rav Yehonatan Eibshiss, and he tried to find within them allusions to his having secretly turned towards the cursed sect that distorted the secrets of the Torah and involved itself in amulets and invocations.
Rav Diskin straightened up in his chair and said with his fiery eyes, "Let the mouths of those who speak falsely be shut - those who speak against a revered sadik!" He cried, "Who is there greater in both the revealed and hidden knowledge than the Gaon of Vilna zs"l, who testified to the fact that these amulets were of a purely sacred source, and felt the pain of the sacred Rav Yehonatan Eibshiss zs"l, of the Sefer Torah that was subject to such disgrace!"
The woman telling the story was taken aback by the rabbi's protest. He had felt obligated to object in the strongest of terms to the false allegations and shameful degradation of the Torah's honor. Now that he had carried out his responsibility in this regard, he lowered his head and sat back. The judge signaled to the woman that she may continue.
She apologetically said, "I know nothing about this; I am just quoting what I heard. I am now getting to the main part of the story".
...to be continued
"And they believed in Hashem and in Moshe, His servant"
Rabbenu Avraham Sarfati zs"l, a descendant of Rashi, studied together with the Bet Yosef zs"l during his stay in Adrinopol. Once, on Shabbat eve of Shabbat Parashat Beshalah in the year 5250, Rabbi Avraham was engrossed in his studies until fatigue overcame him and his eyelids closed. He dreamt of an elderly man girded with a leather belt coming into his room and speaking to him: "My son, please tell me, who was the greatest among the prophets?"
Rabbi Avraham was stunned by the question and answered, "Moshe Rabbenu was the father of the prophets. The pasuk says so explicitly: 'No prophet arose in Yisrael like Moshe.'"
"Indeed, confirmed Eliyahu, "but if so, when did Moshe not sing the 'shirah' before the Egyptians drowned? Did not the prophets foresee the future?"
Rabbi Avraham replied, "Certainly, Moshe Rabbenu could have sung the song even before the miracle occurred. But the loyal shepherd wanted to sing it together with Benei Yisrael, who at that point still experienced fear and lacked the strength of faith that he possessed. He knew that they would not sing with him wholeheartedly until they actually beheld the downfall of the Egyptians."
Eliyahu Hanavi's face lit up and he said, "My son, this indeed is the correct answer, and it is in fact written in the Torah: 'Yisrael saw the wondrous power that Hashem wielded in Egypt, and they believed in Hashem. ' Only thereafter, 'Then did Moshe and Benei Yisrael sing this song. '" Eliyahu finished speaking and disappeared.
Rabbi Avraham was awe-inspired by the revelation of Eliyahu - fortunate is the one who beheld his face in a dream! He later recorded this vision in the introduction to his work, "Birkat Avraham."
What message did Eliyahu Hanavi wish to convey? That a leader of Am Yisrael, even if he himself can recite the "shirah," his primary focus must be his following, his sheep. He must therefore hold back from singing until he can do so together with his constituency.
Faith in the sages constitutes one of the foundations of Jewish belief. A story is told of two friends who both married yeshivah students at around the same time. Seven years later, neither was blessed with a child. One of them spoke of her troubles with the other, and noticed the tears that welled up in her friend's eyes. She recommended that they both go to the great Kabbalist Rabbi Mordechai Sharabi zs"l. He listened to their plea and requested a sum of money to distribute to the poor as he conducted the "Tikkun" in accordance with the wisdom of Kabbalah. They gave him the money and received his blessing.
Not long thereafter, one of them was blessed with a child. Her friend envied her and complained, "Didn't we both go to the sadik together and received his blessing at the same time? He conducted the 'Tikkun' for both of us - so why were your prayers answered while my infertility continues?" Her friend replied, "I don't know, but I imagine that it all depends on faith. I believed with absolute faith in the power of his blessing and 'Tikkun.' My wishes were therefore granted."
The fried confessed. "Indeed, a degree of skepticism arose in my heart. I thought to myself, how could it be that after so many years of infertility and complicated medical procedures the sadik's 'Tikkun' wull suddenly correct the problem?"
She therefore went to the sadik for a second time and asked forgiveness for having doubted his blessing. He pleasantly replied, "Let us conduct another 'Tikkun,' and this time I promise you that you will merit a son." She believed his words wholeheartedly and conceived that month.
A Letter of Encouragement from Rav Aryeh Deri shlit"a
Dear Brothers -
In our parashah, Benei Yisrael leave Egypt proudly and triumphantly. Moshe Rabbenu leads, the pillar of cloud stands before them, and the Shechinah hovers over them. Then the sea splits into twelve different paths, its muddy surface dries and smoothens, and the pillars of water become solid walls. Remarkable! Benei Yisrael reach the shore as the Egyptians chased after them. Fire singes the chariot wheels and melts the horseshoes. With the Egyptians now baffled and gripped with terror, the walls of water came crashing down upon them. The sea cast their remains to the shore where Benei Yisrael stood and now watched the revenge against their former oppressors. Realizing that they have once and for all been forever saved from their enemies, they sing the "shirah" amidst much joy and celebration. As one they sang the prophetic song, and they declared "This is my G-d" as if pointing to Him with their fingers, as it were. Such was their experience of the revelation of the Shechinah! Later, they received the special well of Miriam and a fountain of water gushing forth from a rock providing enough water for five million people - men, women, children, the elderly, and the "erev rav." They were given food from the heavens and armies of quails descending upon the camp to be eaten every night. The clouds of glory encircled them and a pillar of fire walked before them - how inspiring! They became sanctified and purified with each passing day, climbing the spiritual ladder during the fifty days of the "omer," each day's specific quality identified by the scholars of Kabbalah. Meanwhile, all the nations of the world trembled in fear: "The people hear, they tremble; agony grips the dwellers of Peleshet." Everyone spoke of the great wonders - the plagues in Egypt and the miracles of the wilderness - that Hashem performed for the nation on its way to receive the Torah.
Then, suddenly - "Amalek came. "
From where did they come? What triggered the attack? After all, Amalek dwelled securely in the distant Negev. Benei Yisrael presented no threat to them. In fact, Hashem explicitly warned Benei Yisrael not to initiate hostilities against the descendants of Esav - which include Amalek!
The Midrash fills in the missing information, telling precisely why they attacked. The message is so pertinent - as if the event had transpired in our days!
The Midrash relates that Amalek turned frantically to Bilam, the wisest and most corrupt of the idolaters of the time. "Something must be done!" he cried. Like people say today in Israel, "Stop the religious!" quickly, before it is too late!
"What happened?" inquired Bilam. "What's all the fuss about?"
"Don't you understand?!" shouted Amalek. He told him about the nation that lived with such security in Egypt, having received there such warm hospitality and welcomed with open arms. And in the end, what did they do? They borrowed silver and gold utensils from their Egyptian neighbors, effectively taking all their wealth, and fled the country! Can there be any greater and more brazen display of ingratitude? Then, when the poor Egyptians chased after them and begged for their possessions, these people resorted to magic and drowned them in the sea!
They seized all the property and murdered its owners!
If this is how these people treat their benefactors, continued Amalek, then just imagine what they will do to the other nations! They will destroy all of them! This nation poses a danger to humanity and must be stopped immediately.
Bilam replied, "Yes, you are certainly correct, but I'm afraid that the merit of their patriarch Avraham will protect them. Only you, who descend from Esav, the son of Yis'hak, can deal with them." At that point, "Amalek came. "
It is simply frightening how people can distort reality, how they can portray the oppressor as the innocent victim, as a benevolent host, and the oppressed as greedy villains with no conscience or moral vision. They then wage a "holy war," as it were, against the nation of Hashem, against Jews and Judaism, in order to "save humanity" from their threat. Indeed, this characterizes Amalek's approach since time immemorial. If one listens to the news regarding the coalition negotiations that will soon take place, he will hear the same three thousand year old claims. Those withholding funds cry bitterly and shamelessly accuse those from whom they withhold, going out to fight an all-out offensive war.
There is no need, however, for concern: if Moshe, the leader of the generation, goes out to defend us, then his mighty arms will help us defeat the power of Amalek, and Hashem will come to our salvation!
The Hida zs"l
We may presume that the newly elected Prime Minister will learn the lessons of history and not bring up the loaded issue of a secular revolution, which could potentially tear apart the country. One who hopes to be built from the destruction of Judaism effectively destroys only himself. An incident occurred involving the Hid"a zs"l, who was called to stand before the emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, who on the one hand guaranteed equal rights to all civilians, but also sought to coerce the Jews to assimilate and intermarry.
The emperor asked him, "I have heard that the Jews claim that everything occurring in the world has some allusion in your Torah. If this is true, then where am I hinted to in the Torah?"
The Hid"a answered right there and then with the pasuk written by Shelomo Hamelech, "For I have given you good teaching; do not abandon My Torah" (Mishlei 4:2). The French translation of "lekah tov" ("good teaching") is "part bon." Since the words are arranged reverse in the Hebrew language, the translation becomes "Bonaparte," Napoleon's family name. The Hid"a continued, "Indeed, His Majesty is truly a 'good teaching' for humanity, for Jews in particular, having declared freedom for all. He has annulled the decree of the Inquisition and limited the authority of the Pope!" The emperor was very impressed by what he heard and felt proud over the allusion to his name in Tanach.
But the Hid"a then continued, "His Majesty must realize, however, that the pasuk does not end there. It says that true, I have given you good teaching, a kind emperor, but do not abandon My Torah - you must continue adhering to the Torah and its misvot. Therefore, His Majesty must ensure that freedom does not lead to lawlessness!
A Series of Halachot
According to the Order of the Shulhan Aruch
Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
by Rav David Yossef shlit"a
The Halachot of Tefillin
Relevant to a Mourner (cont.)
If on Yom Tov one loses one of the seven relatives over whom one must observe "avelut" (mourning), and the deceased is buried on Hol Hamoed, then the mourner observes the seven days of mourning after the festival, starting from "Isru Hag" (the day following the festival; see Shulhan Aruch Yoreh De'ah 399:2). In such a circumstance, the mourner must wear tefillin on the first day of his mourning after the festival. This applies even in Eres Yisrael where only one day of Yom Tov is observed, not to mention outside of Eres Yisrael where two days are celebrated. Either way, the mourner wears tefillin on the day after the festival, despite its being the first day of mourning. However, it is proper not to recite a berachah over the tefillin in Eres Yisrael on the first day of mourning after Yom Tov. Outside Eres Yisrael, however, one should recite a berachah on the first day of mourning, that is, the first day after the two days of Yom Tov. Similarly, one who lost a relative on Yom Tov and the burial took place on Yom Tov or the second day of Yom Tov (outside Eres Yisrael) - the details of the burial in this situation are outlined in Shulhan Aruch Orah Hayyim 526 - wears tefillin on the day following Yom Tov or the second day of Yom Tov (outside Eres Yisrael).
If the mourner has the practice of wearing tefillin on Hol Hamoed, then if the relative passed away on Yom Tov or Hol Hamoed and was buried on Hol Hamoed, according to some views the mourner wears tefillin on the day of the death or the day of the burial, after the burial has taken place. (This would certainly apply if the burial took place on Yom Tov, that one generally accustomed to wearing tefillin on Hol Hamoed would do so in this case on the first day of Hol Hamoed.) Others, however, disagree. One who hears a report that one of the seven relatives had passed away not longer than thirty days earlier must observe the seven days of mourning, as detailed in Shulhan Aruch Yoreh De'ah 402:1. In such an instance, the mourner is exempt from the misvah of tefillin on the first day of mourning. Therefore, even if he hears about the tragedy at nighttime, he does not wear tefillin the following day. After sunrise on the day following that first day he wears tefillin. If one hears about a relative's passing while wearing tefillin, he must immediately remove them. If, however, one hears about the passing later than thirty days after the death, he need observe only a brief mourning period, for around fifteen minutes or so. Such an individual must wear tefillin. Furthermore, if he hears the news while wearing tefillin, he need not remove them. However, if he experiences great distress when hearing the report such that he cannot concentrate properly, he should refrain from wearing tefillin until he regains his composure and can wear them without distracting his mind from them.
The next halachah considers a case of one who travels from one place to another and upon arrival learns of a relative's having passed away several days earlier and that the family members are currently observing the seven days of mourning. The halachah in such a case depends upon from where the individual has arrived. If he came from a location to which he can get in a single day of travel, even by car, train or plane, and the family members are still in the seven-day mourning period and the most prominent family member is with them, then the newcomer joins them in mourning and follows the most prominent member. Meaning, when the most prominent family member concludes his seven days of mourning, this new arrival concludes his mourning period, as well, even if he only arrived that same day. So long as there are visitors consoling the most prominent family member when the newcomer arrived, the newcomer completes his mourning together with the most prominent member. If this newcomer arrives anywhere from the second through the sixth of the seven days of mourning, then he does not wear tefillin on the day on which he begins observing mourning together with the other family members. If, however, he arrived on day seven, he puts on tefillin after the other family members complete their mourning period. One who wears tefillin Rabbenu Tam every day must do so even during his seven-day mourning period, with the obvious exception of the first day, on which a mourner never wears tefillin.
Eliyahu Ben Masudah & Yaakov ben Senyar
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