BE CONSOLED, BE CONSOLED, MY PEOPLE
This Shabbat is called "Shabbat Nahamu" based on the beginning lines of the
haftarah. And this is not simply empty consolation, since, as it says in the
midrash, "they sinned doubly, as it says 'a sin did Jerusalem sin.' They
were punished doubly, since it says 'they were punished doubly for all their
sins.' And they receive double consolation, since it says 'be consoled, be
consoled my people.' And one may learn that if the sin is doubled then the
punishment is doubled--as is the consolation."
It seems that they are referring to the Gemara (Shevuot 37) based on the
verse "and the woman said, amen amen." When one says a word twice, it is
considered as a promise. Thus repetition suggests permanence; likewise,
there is temporary and permanent sin. There is temporary and immediate
consolation, which lasts only for a short amount of time, but then there is
more permanent consolation which is referred to by the repetition of the
word 'consolation' in the first verse of the haftarah.
We should remember that before the coming redemption, every change that
occurs should be seen as a change for the better. And the meaning of this
statement may be better seen from a short story. An important man came to a
sandal maker and while waiting for his sandals to be ready engaged in
conversation with the sandal maker. The sandal maker told the man how he had
once been so poor that he had no bread and his wife was extremely afraid. So
he went to see the rabbi, the 'Divre Shemuel' and cried to him about his
misfortune. The rabbi gave the man a gold coin and told him to go to the
market, buy a fattened chicken, and have his wife prepare the chicken. He
should then eat the entire chicken alone - not leaving one bit - and then
come back to the rabbi. The sandal maker was very happy that he would soon
be saved from his poor condition. He went to the market to buy the chicken,
and all the people there laughed at the poor man arriving with a gold coin,
and accused him of stealing the money. He ignored their jeers and brought
the chicken and took it to his home. His wife prepared the chicken and she
and the children were very excited about finally ending their hunger. But
when the chicken was ready the many insisted on eating the chicken himself,
pushing his family away with one hand and eating with the other. His wife
and children began crying but the man insisted that he had to eat the
chicken himself. The man went back to the rabbi, crying about his family and
bearing a terrible pain in his stomach. The rabbi asked the man if he had
enjoyed the chicken and he responded that he had not because of all the
tension in his home and his own physical pain. The rabbi then asked if he
ever thought about the problems of the wealthy people and their pains when
he saw them eating to their heart's content. The sandal maker saw the
rabbi's point and decided to remain a sandal maker.
The moral of the story is that one is never happy with his lot and that the
grass is always greener on the other side, except when one receives true and
lasting consolation (like the sandal maker did) which leaves one happy and
content for life.
ACCOUNTING FOR THE SOULS
The ninth of Av is now behind us, and the days of comfort have begun. Yet
for many of us the mourning must continue, for we remain within the thirty
days of mourning after the most recent terrorist attacks in Israel. We
should have thanked Hashem for the lag in terrorist attacks! And we should
now pray to Hashem that nothing like this will happen again. When the angel
of Hashem appeared to Gideon, the savior of Israel, he said "Hashem is with
you, great soldier."
What he meant was that even though you are a great soldier, you are still
in need of the help of Hashem, because without Hashem you are nothing! You
should know that everything is in the hands of Hashem. If we indeed realize
that Hashem is the one in control and only he has the final say, and if we
pray for the future, then Hashem will help us. Just as it says regarding
Yoseph, "And his master saw that Hashem was with him and everything that he
did was successful" - his success was due to Hashem .
THE WONDERS OF THE CREATOR
Surely you have seen a spider's web in a corner of your home or in other
places. When insects land on the sticky web they stick and are unable to
escape, and thus the spider is able to capture its prey. How does the spider
make the web? Near the back of the spider is a sort of nozzle which sprays
out a stream which, when in contact with air, turns in to a web.
When a spider falls it may use its web to catch itself from a potentially
dangerous fall. Spiders also use their web-making ability to move from place
to place over relatively great distances, since the wind can catch one edge
of a web and send it great distances which it can then traverse by moving
along the web.
As it is written in Proverbs 30, "There are four small things and they are
very wise . . . the spider clambers up with his hands and he is in king's
palaces." As the Mesudat David explains, the reference to hands touches on
the spider's weaving of its web in which it catches flies; even though the
spider lives in the king's palace it prefers to eat what it catches by
itself. And we should learn from this that it is better to enjoy the work of
one's own hands than that of others.
THE GOLDEN COLUMN
Rabbi Raphael Moshe Elbaz zs"l
The Gaon Rabbi Raphael Moshe Elbaz, known as the Rema, was born in Morocco
about 180 years ago, and already from his youth it was realized that he was
destined for greatness. At a young age he decided to cling to the Torah and
studied with his uncle, Rabbi Amram Elbaz. When he was 28 years old he was
ordained by the great scholars Rabbi Amram Elbaz and Rabbi Abisabul, and he
acted as a judge even at so young an age. He later served as a Rabbi,
answering many legal questions, some of which were published in his works.
He edited twenty volumes but only saw a few of them printed in his lifetime.
His books covered many, many topics, from responsa to kabbalah.
The Rema has his own synagogue where he taught his congregation, and he had
many connections to the royal family. On the 22nd of Tamuz 5656 he passed
away, leaving no children, but a substantial legacy of books, and the
synagogue was named after him -- may we benefit from some of his merit.
FROM THE WELLSPRINGS OF THE PARASHAH
"Hashem, You have begun to appear..."
The Hid"a wrote that this is an acrostic for "Eliyahu." Moshe hinted here
regarding the way in which Eliyahu ascended heavenward and did not die like
most people. But Moshe himself was buried on the other side of the Jordan
River so that his descendants would one day come and bring him into Israel.
This is why Hashem said to Moshe that he had a great deal, meaning that he
was the leader of his own generation and needed to be concerned with their
"And Hashem was angry at me for your good..."
The kabbalist Rabi Meir Paprish explained based on the words of our sages
(Sotah 14) that Moshe's work was not for naught and that the tabernacle that
he built was not destroyed. And if he had entered Israel and built the
Temple then his detractors would not have been able to stop him. Therefore,
Moshe was not allowed to enter Israel, so that Hashem could pour out his
anger on the Temple and the children of Israel would be saved.
"And Hashem said to me, 'Enough'"
The wise men of Castille explained that Moshe knew that when someone says
"please" in his prayers twice, he will be answered. Therefore, when praying
for Miriam's health, he said, "Please Hashem, please cure her." Here as
well, after Moshe said to Hashem "please let me enter the holy land" Hashem
said "enough" so that Moshe would not say please again and thus force the
hand of Hashem.
THE 15TH OF AV
Next Monday will be the 15th of Av, which is a holiday for all the children
of Israel. Among other reasons for this holiday, it is celebrated because it
notes the time when Jews stopped cutting down trees to bring sacrifices and
instead focused on learning Torah (as Rabbi Gershom says in Gemara Bava
Batra 121). And they state in the Gemara that from this day forth he that
learns more will live more. Therefore, in these coming days of judgment we
should all try to learn more Torah so that we will, with the help of Hashem,
live longer and better!
The Gaon Rabbi Kemos Agiv stated that he had a tradition that this day also
marked the death of Rabbi Shimeon ben Levi, whose song "Bar Yohai" was
accepted amongst all of Israel. We cannot rise on this day to his high level
of holiness. For he wanted to move to the land of Israel and he packed up
his belongings to go there but on the way he passed through a community
which desperately needed religious instruction, and so he forfeited his
plans of going to Israel and instead remained with the community to teach
Torah. He sacrificed his personal spirituality for the good of the many.
This should come as a lesson to all of us! The nation is thirsting for
Torah, and we must help to educate the masses even if it means a degree of
personal spiritual sacrifice. Remember, when a father asks one of his sons
how he let the other son drown, the son cannot simply say that his father
had warned him against dirtying his clothes!
SING YOU RIGHTEOUS
by: Rabbi Avigdor Miller
"Said Rav Hana of Baghdad: The rain 1) waters, 2) slakes the thirst (of the
produce), 3) fertilizes (the earth), 4) imparts lustre (to the fruits), and
5) draws forth" (Ketuvot 10b). Five benefits of rain are here enumerated;
although today we do not fully understand the exact meaning of all five, but
this serves to demonstrate the interest in studying the Creator's
benefactions. The third, the function of fertilizing, is today understood:
the nitrogen and oxygen in the air could provide an inexhaustible supply of
fertilizer, if not for the inertness of the nitrogen. But a bolt of
lightning causes these two gases to unite, and they dissolve into the rain,
which thus brings down nitrates to fertilize the soil. Concerning the snow,
Rava said: "A snowfall is better for the mountains then five rains" (Ta'anit
3b). Instead of running downhill with little effect, the snow clings to the
mountainsides and melts gradually, bestowing the optimum benefit. This is
reminiscent of David's observation: "He Who gives snow like wool" (Tehillim
147:16): which refers to the fluffy texture of snow which imprisons air just
as does wool, and therefore insulates the earth against frost, thus
protecting the soil bacteria and the invaluable soil-insects. The whit
color of snow, like the whiteness of wool, repels light and therefore
retards the melting of snow. Whatever observations the Sages made were in
addition to the observations of the Scriptures, which were constantly in the
mouths of the old generations.
ASKING AND EXPOUNDING
BASED ON THE RULINGS OF HACHAM OVADIA YOSSEF
One Who Eats Cake and Rice
In the previous issues of this newsletter we noted that one says the
'mezonot' blessing before eating rice, since it indeed satisfies man's
hunger and satiates him, and 'borei nefashot' after eating rice, since rice
is not included in the five types of grains.
The Hid"a, in his book "Birkei Yosef" (section 208:107), notes that: "one
who eats cooked rice and says the 'al ha-mihya' blessing afterwards has
fulfilled his obligation. Likewise, one who ate cake and rice, and said the
'al ha-mihya' blessing afterward, also fulfilled his obligation, since the
rice satisfies man's hunger." Similarly, the Gaon Rabbi Yosef Hayyim wrote
in his book "Ben Ish Hai" (Parashat Pinhas, section 18) that even a priori
it is acceptable to do this, and if he ate a full portion of cake and of
rice he may say 'al ha-mihya' alone as a final blessing and this covers both
the rice and the cake. There are some later authorities who disagree with
this ruling and who argue that it is preferable to say 'borei nefashot'
after eating rice and then 'al ha-mihya' on the cake, since many early
authorities believe that one should say 'borei peri ha-adamah' on rice. And
based on this ruling, 'al ha- mihya' does not cover the rice and one should
say 'borei nefashot' in addition to the 'al ha-mihya' which is said after
eating the cake. Still, we do not follow this opinion and saying 'al
ha-mihya' covers both the cake and the rice, as the Ben Ish Hai and the
Hid"a state. (See also the opinion of Rabbi Ovadia Yossef in "Yabi'a Omer"
It is clear that this same principle is applicable to the blessing said
before eating food, and therefore one who eats cake and has a plate of rice
before him may simply say the 'mezonot' blessing on the cake and then
proceed to eat the rice without saying an additional blessing.
Still, Rabbi Ovadia Yossef has taught us that this law is not so simple,
since everything that we have stated so far is applicable only to one who
first said the blessing on the cake. If one first says the 'mezonot'
blessing on the rice, however, then he must repeat the 'mezonot' blessing
over the cake, since the blessing over the rice does not cover the cake.
Why? As the Beit Yosef wrote in section 206, one who says the 'ha-ess'
blessing on an etrog and then wants to eat an olive must repeat the
blessing, since the blessing on the less-important food cannot cover the
more important food (the olive is considered more important since it is one
of the seven species). Likewise, the blessing over rice cannot cover the
more important cake.
In summary, one who eats cake in addition to cooked rice should first say
the 'mezonot' blessing over the cake which fulfills the obligation for
blessing over the rice. After eating, one should say the 'al ha-mihya'
blessing on the cake which again will subsume the rice, since one who erred
and said the 'al ha-mihya' after eating rice instead of 'borei nefashot'
fulfilled his obligation. Still, if one says 'mezonot' over rice he must
repeat the blessing before eating the cake.
ARAM SOBA FOUNDATION NEWSLETTER
DEDICATED IN MEMORY OF: Senyar Bat Mazal
Produced by Cong Bnai Yosef
and the Aram Soba Foundation -
translated from Maayan Hashavua in Israel
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