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by Daneal Weiner
From the Orchards of Jerusalem
So close and yet so far! For the last three years I've been studying in Yeshiva. The break, which is always after Yom Kippur, always contains
so I never had a class in it. Plus with putting up sukkahs and taking them down, I have time to look at the parsha on my own? Don't be silly! This year, however, I have a Rav Wolfson Sefer with a wonderful little vort on Breishis! I'm right there!
Ironically enough- Rav Wolfson's vort is talking about the contiuity of the Torah and he ties in the last words to the first words. Furthermore, it's no coincidence that it all happens Sukkos time so everything gets wrapped up into Sukkos, so- finally, after three years, I get to write a vort on Breishis that no one will read till Noach that talks about Sukkos! So like I said, so close...
Dvarim:last - Breishis:first, "...that Moshe did before the eyes of all Israel. In the beginning..." Rashi says that what Moshe Rabbeinu did in front of the eyes of all Israel was to break the tablets. How does the Torah end off with a calamity? Doesn't G-d know Hollywood's success is because they always have a happy ending? And along the way, why not answer this question as well.
It says in Koheles 12:10, "Bikesh Koheles limtso divrei chefets v'kasuv yoshar divrai emes." Koheles sought to find words of delight and words of truth recorded properly." The Gemorah Rosh Hashana says that "Bikesh Koheles limtso divrei chefets," is Shlomo HaMelech (Koheles) asking to be like Moshe Rabbeinu!?! A Bas Kol responded from heaven, "V'kasuv yoshar divrai emes, v'lo kom navi ode b'Yisrael k'Moshe." "And words of truth recorded properly, `and there never arose another prophet in Israel like Moshe.'" The Bas Kol quoted half of a verse from the 3rd to last line of the Torah. The question is; 1) Shlomo HaMelech knew this verse so what's he asking? 2) What did the bas Kol mean by "V'kasuv yoshar divrai emes"? Just quote the verse. End of story.
Rav Wolfson begins at the end of Gemorah Sukkah. There is recorded an incident regarding Miriam bas Bilgah. She came from a family of Kohanim and she rebelled against G-d and married a Greek general. When the Greeks entered the Temple Mount she kicked the alter with her sandal and said, "Wolf! Wolf! How long will you eat the money of Israel? And now in this dire moment you just sit there?" [Every day a the Korban Tamid was offered. A lamb. Ergo, "Wolf!"] When the Rabbis heard her words they `sealed the family locker'. [Every rotation of Kohanim had their own utensils that they used in serving which were kept on location. Like the worlds first locker system.] The Bilga family was cut off from serving in the Temple. The Gemorah brings another opinion that the reason her family was discredited was because of their own lackadaisical approach to their rotation. You know, services would start at 8. They'd show up at 8:30, 8:45 maybe. Stand in the back and shmooze politics a while. Talk about whose sponsoring the Tamid Offering. Will there be kichel as well. One can imagine such a thing. Anyways...
According to the second opinion, justice is served. If the family doesn't take the service seriously then don't let them serve. But according to the first opinion, why cut off everyone for the words of a wayward daughter?
When the Torah told about the Rebellion of Korach and the 250 men of the tribe of Reuven the commentaries said, "Woe to the wicked and woe to his neighbor." Since the tribe of Reuven camped right next to where Korachs family camped, a number of them were influenced. How much moreso when the influence is coming from under the same roof! Woe to Bilga, woe to Miriam daughter of Bilga! Woe to the whole family. The Rabbis heard in the words of Miriam something more than a mockery from without. They heard a kvetch which could only come from within. If she was tainted, the whole family was tainted and unfit for service.
Some of you may be asking what this could possibly have to do with Sukkos?! That question is better than you know. Anything found in a Gemorah is relevant to the Gemorah. Why was the very last topic in the Gemorah Sukkah about Miriam bas Bilga?
We saw last week that the reason for the sukkah is in rememberance of the Clouds of Glory, the Ananay Hakavode. After coming out of Egypt, B'Y was attacked from the rear by Amaleik. The Torah recaps in Dvarim 25:18 that Amaleik attacked, "kol hanecheshalim acharecha" "all the stragglers after you." Rashi says why they were straggling. "They were kicked out of the Ananay Hakavode." Why were they [the tribe of Dan] kicked out? There are two opinions. One says because they took out of Egypt the idol michah. The other opinion says they were the very last tribe in the procession. When G-d wanted B'Y to travel, the trumpets would sound to signal the nation to pick up camp and ready themselves. The tribe of Dan felt that being last, they had time to kill. Before they knew it, they found themselves outside the Ananay Hakavode. You might say that in G-ds command to move they were lackadaisical. Now where have we seen that word before?
It appears that the family of Bilga had the same shortcomings of the tribe of Dan. According to both opinions! Furthermore, the Gemorah Sukkah said Miriam kicked the Alter with her sandal. In Gemorah Avodah Zorah, it says that in days to come, when G-d reveals Himself to the world, the nations will come complaining they never were given a chance to do mitsvahs so how could they be held accountable? G-d will test them with the mitsvah of sitting in the sukkah. Then the Gemorah says G-d will take the sun out of her sheath and make it unbearably hot. The nations will leave the sukkah and kick it on their way out. The question is asked, but even the Jews are exempted from the mitsvah under unbearable conditions? The answer- we don't kick on the way out.
Not only does the Gemorah Sukkah talk about those who come under the protection of the Ananay Hakavode but even those who don't. Those who fall to the hands of Amaleik, who kick like the nations of the world. Rav Wolfson points out that the gematria of "kol hanecheshalim acharecha" = "Miriam bas Bilga" (spelled without the yud as in Sefer Nechemia by the listing of the rotations.)
Behold, the way of the world reperation is for it to come by way of the very sin needing the reperation. One opinion says that the tree in Gan Eden that Adam and Chava ate from was the fig tree because they used fig leaves to cover themselves. The tribe of Dan, whose shortcomings had them bring up the rear of the camp would literally bring up that which they found at the rear of the camp. The return of lost articals. The tribe who themselves were to an extent lost from the other tribes would busy themselves with the mitsvah of returning lost articals. With this gathering in they would gather themselves back into the the nation of Israel. And Sukkas has a special mitsvah of gathering in guests. All at the time of the gathering of the harvest. Sukkos, a time of gathering, for gathering, by gathering.
The last 8 verses of the Torah are a point of contention as to whether Moshe Rabbeinu wrote them or not since they deal with his death and thereafter. Some say G-d dictated them to him and some say Yehoshua wrote them. In past issues we've talked about how the 600,00 letters of the Torah parallel the 600,000 Jewish souls. The souls rooted in these last 8 verses are themselves in question as to whether they have a relationship with Moshe Rabbeinu. Are they in the camp or not? Likewise, we said these verses end talking about Moshe having to break the tablets. A result of the actions of people also questionably connected to the camp of Israel, to Moshe Rabbeinu.
A Medrish says to read the word `Breishis' as "B'Reishis". "For Reishis" G-d created the world. There are a few things refered to as Reishis for which the world was created. Torah is refered to as Reishis. Bnei Yisrael, the first fruits- and Moshe Rabbeinu. The world was created for the only human capable of reaching the Heavens to bring the Torah down into the world.
Also in Zos Habrachah, 33:21 "Vayar REISHIS lo." It's talking about Gad's portion of land across the Jordan but this is the area where Moshe is burried! As the rest of the verse says, "...for that is where the lawgiver's plot is hidden." Again Reishis refers to Moshe.
Another name for Yisrael is Yeshurun. from the root `yoshar' which means straight. In our world we look for `straight'ness. Is someone straight with you or are they acting crooked? An Ish Yoshar is a man who walks straight in the ways of G-d. Our verse from Koheles above, we translated `yoshar' as `proper'. According to our world of yoshar- `straightness' the last 8 verses of the Torah are as far away as can possibly be from the beginning, from `B'Reishis', from Moshe Rabbeinu. But on Sukkos, on Simchas Torah we go in circles. Like the Gemorah in Taanis says, in the future H' will put all the Tsaddikim in a circle. In a circle their is no first and last, head or tail. All are equal. And according to this accounting, a world of igulim, circles, those farthest from Moshe are actually right along side. "...before the eyes of all Israel. For Reishis G-d created the world..."
We have a hint to a world of circles when Korach complains to Moshe, "Why do you make yourself leader. All Israel is Holy!" Korach wanted things to be round not straight. Everyone equal. No heirarchy. The world was not ready for that. Korach's mistake was trying to make it so. Not like the righteous Shlomo Hamelech. King Solomon, son of King David lived in a time unparalleled since Gan Eden and which we won't see again till the Mashiach. But rather than acting on his own, being the wisest of all men he asked first, " The world is in such a state of perfection. Is it ready for the equality of all B'Y? Can I be like Moshe Rabbeinu?" The Bas Kol responded, "V'kasuv yoshar divrai emes" The world is still operating by Yoshar, straightness. And continued, "v'lo kom navi ode b'Yisrael k'Moshe." There can not yet be another like Moshe. Not till the other son of King David, the Mashiach ben David.
Of course, I have no idea what Rav Wolfson is talking about with the world of Yoshar and of Igulim and all I can do is think of a straight line and a circle but even still, what a geshmock dvar Torah!!
Which this leads us right into another Gshmak dvar Torah. Not wanting to go on another 4 pages I'll chunk it down as much as I can. This weeks
opens, "These are the offspring of Noach. Noach was a righteous man, perfect in his generation...And Noach had three sons..." Why is "Noach was a righteous man" stuck into "These are the offspring of Noach"? Rashi offers a couple suggestions. Rav Wolfson has one too.
The end of Breishis shows the generations till Noach. Everyone had their first child between the ages of 60 and 180. Noach did not have until he was 500! What about his command to be fruitful and multiply? If you don't have kids the Torah tells us there is another way.
Three times a day we say in the Shma, "Vshinantem livanecha." Literally, "Sharpen your teeth on them to your children." Figuratively, "Learn Torah and mitsvos by teaching it to your children." Commentaries say that from here we learn that a student is like a child. If Noach saw he was not having children then he should have found himself students. Commentaries say something else from this verse. This is were we learn we have to learn Torah ourselves! In the context of teaching. Rabbi Berel Wein said the thing about teaching is that it forces you to learn what you're already supposed to know. Rav Wolfson says that one who teaches himself Torah is not just a self learner. Its someone who makes the teacher and student as one. In a generation on the brink of destruction for their wickedness, who will want to learn from Noach?!? He had to teach himself and for 500 years was his own student. So we see, "These are the offspring of Noach. First Noach, a righteous man for learning for 500 years. Then came three sons..."
Rashi brings two opinions on what the Torah meant by Noach being `perfect in his generation'. To his praise is the opinion it's saying that against the worst influences imaginable he stayed an Ish Yashar. Other commentaries say it's not praise. In HIS generation he was perfect but stick him in the generation of Avraham and Noach would be nothing big.
The First Satmar Rav, the Divrei Yoel says both opinions agree! If you take the actions of the man and put them in the generation of Avraham they wouldn't be much. But take the potential of the man and put him in a different generation, one with far less spiritual decay, and he would have out shone even Avraham Aveinu. The Rav brings the writings of Rav Chaim Vital, student of the Arizal. "I asked my Rav how is it that he tells me I had a very lofty neshama when I can not even reach the heels of the Tsaddikim of early generations? He answered, `A soul is not measured just by the time and generation. One small mitsvah of yours is worth many mitsvos of previous generations because in our time the evil inclination has unending strength. This was not the case in previous times. If you, Chaim, lived then you would have out done and out smarted their best."
These words were written 400 years ago. If then the evil inclination had unlimited strength, words couldn't describe now. The flipside- 400 years after Rav Chaim Vital, the smallest of smallest of Torah and mitsvos carries unimaginable weight! A righteous man in our time- "Holy neshama, Batman!!!"
In Ha'azinu, a song of rebuke, Moshe warns (Dvarim 32:7), "Z'chor yamos olam- remember the days of world, binu shnos dor vador- understand the years of generation after generation." An obvious message. There's nothing new! It's all been done before! Don't make the same mistakes! The Sifri says much better. The word `shnos', `years' can be read a second way, `changes'! It's not new from one generation to the next! "This is the 20th century" doesn't mean beans! It's the same trouble with a different face. Understand how the evil inclination changes it's face generation to generation.
Avraham had it easier than Noach but it was no breeze. He lived at the time of the generation of the dispersion, the Dor Haflagah- dispersed because they decided to make for themselves a name. To build a tower to the heavens to fight with Hashem. Hashem had to intervene. It says 11:5, "And H' went down to see the city and the tower- asher banu bnei Adam- that mankind built." Rav Wolfson points out there are two ways to read "banu". One way is `built'. The other way is `amongst us'. The Arizal writes that of the 600,000 souls, the ones from the Dor Haflagah are always amongst us. They come back generation after generation. The Rabainu Bechayai says here the generation said, " Let's build a city". By S'dom it says 19:4, "the men of the city, the men of S'dom." Why the double language? Now we know. The Torah is telling us where these souls of the Sodomites originated.
The Dor Haflagah said, "Let us make for ourselves a name." The second verse in Parshas Korach says, "And they arose against Moshe...250 princes...men of name." Spells trouble already! G-d promised there never to be a flood of water. Water is symbollic of Torah. Today we have a flood of the evil inclination, a flood of scoffers. A generation from the time of Noach who tried to tear down his ark, his Taivah. And guess what, Taivah can be read two ways. Taivah is `ark' and Taivah is `word'. The Torah wants us to know that in a time of flood it is only the Taivah that can save. Words of prayer. The greatest weapon we have today is our prayers. But there are prayers and there are prayers.
Last week we just read that both Kayin and Hevel brought offerings to G-d. Kayins was not accepted. The Torah says, "V'el minchaso lo sha'ah." "And to his offering He [Gİd] did not turn." But `Sha'ah' can be read two ways. `Turn' or `hour'. And it says minchaso, his MINCHA wasn't an hour! The shortest prayer of the day! Some places can squirt out a mincha in 5 minutes and it should be an hour!? Most Shacharis' don't come near an hour. Add up Shacharis, mincha AND maariv and you won't hit an hour. We need to slow down our tfilahs. Slow down as in concentrate, take seriously. Don't pray like its because you have to. Pray like you're talking to G-d. WHAT A COINCIDENCE! YOU ARE!
Give the best you've got, like the service of Hevel. Not like the service of Bilga. And may our Taivah bring us to a new world. "And a new light will shine on Zion, and we will all merit speedily her light." And speaking of new lights, I see a new Shabbos coming. Have a slow, serious, inspiring and connecting Shabbot Shalom.
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