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by Daneal Weiner
Hello everyone. It's late afternoon, the days are getting short, I have half
a tank of gas and I'm wearing photo grey glasses.|
will be brought to you by Rabbi Moshe Wolfson Shlit'a. GOOOOOD stuff Maynard!!!
Rav Wolfson begins by noting how all sefer Dvarim is replete with praise of Erets Yisrael and it is especially heavy in this parsha. Very often the praise comes by way of her fruits. "The Land of grapes, figs, dates, barley, etc." It's also worthy to note that it is Moshe Rabbeinu who is doing most of the talking this sefer. Hmmm?
There is a Gemorah Yuma that says "Shiurim v'onshim halacha l'Moshe m'Sinai" "Measures and Punishments are from halachas that Moshe taught us when he came down from Mt. Sinai." These are laws that wouldn't be able to be derived from the text or context of the Torah but that Moshe came down from Mt Sinai and said "This is how it is," and that's the way we kept it. This is a strange line in Yuma because the Torah clearly tells us the punishments in those chapters dealing with criminal offenses. So this Gemorah has to be read "Measures FOR punishments are from..." What measure of the criminal act warrants the punishment that was mentioned in that chapter dealing with the crime. Measurements are literally the difference between life and death. When the Torah says don't eat non kosher or on Yom Kippur, what constitutes eating? A taste? A bite? Cheekful? Mouthful? My average lunch- side of beef and a diet coke? So this is the information that Moshe taught us. Then the Gemorah brings down another opinion that the Beis Din of Yaivitz decreed these measures. Guess what? Both opinions are true! This world kind of true!
Very often, when two or more opinions are mentioned, one is true for the level the world is on and one is true for the world at a difference place and time. This is the difference between the laws of Bais Hillel and Bais Shamai and explains the famous Gemorah about the wannabe convert who approached each and said, "Teach me the Torah standing on one leg." Bais Shamai's laws were for a world that was capable of existsing under a the strict standards of Justice. Accordlingly he chased this man out with a stick for his foolish request. Bais Hillel's halachas are relevant for a world which needs mercy to survive. Definately our world. And true to Hillels disposition, he warmly accepted this man and gave him an answer, "Love thy neighbor as thyself. The rest is the how to. Go and learn." That's where we're holding now. After the Mashiach comes we will be on a level to live according to the laws of Bais Shammai. (Note: Anyone who thinks its enough to be a good Jew without the Torah, we see according to Hillel they won't know how to be even that!) But I digress.
The measures from Moshe and the measures from Yaivitz are both true, right now, this world, our level and here's how. Rashi, on the Gemorah Yuma, says that Yaivitz is Osneal ben K'naz. Who's he? When Moshe died, due to the thirty days of morning by all of Klal Yisroel in which no Torah was learned, 1700 laws were forgotten. Yehoshua asked of Heaven for these Laws. The response was, "Lo baShamayim He." The Torah isn't in heaven. G-d gave it once, He wasn't going to give it again. These laws stayed lost till Osneal ben K'naz used the power of "pilpul" to discern all 1700 laws. Whats a pilpul? Its a method of extrapolation like if A=B and B=C and C=D...then Q=5X+R.
Why were these laws lost when Moshe died? The only insight we're given is "Shiurim v'Onshim" but maybe this is enough. What are some shiurim? For the nazir, who swears off wine it is forbidden for him to eat even a grape. For forbidden foods it's an olive's worth. What is the measure for a human bone fragment to carry tumah? The size of a barley grain. Hmmm? A grape, an olive, barley.... where have we heard these things before? Rashi in Gemorah Brachos says it out loud! The measures of the Torah are learned out from the fruits of Erets Yisrael!!!
Rav Wolfson shares with us a new and incredible insight. Not only does each Jew have roots in a letter of the Torah but also in a Mitsva! One mitsva is the IKAR mitsva, the principle mitsva of a neshama. You can tell which one your's is because it is the one you have the biggest attraction to AND AND AND you also encounter the biggest obstacles in trying to do it. For Moshe Rabbeinu it is obviously the mitsva of living in Erets Yisroel that fills these 2 criteria. So when Moshe was taken from the world there was a loss felt in those laws which were tied into the mitsva which was at the root of Moshe's essence. He went, they went. Makes perfect sense now!
And what is it about the power of pilpul that Osneal used it to reconstruct these laws? Gemorah Nedarim: The Torah of pilpul was given from G-d only to Moshe Rabbeinu. Moshe, himself, gave it over to B"Y out of the goodness of his heart. It could only be through pilpul, the gift to Moshe, that Osneal was able to reveal those halachos.
Some of you might be feeling sad now. Moshe didn't fulfill his ikar mitsva? His obstacle was DEATH! How do you overcome that one? Very easily. Moshe was a reincarnation of Noach. What did the two have in common? They both were saviors who entered into a new era. This is not the proof but an event for which that neshama twice came down to the world. There will be another such event which will warrant a savior to lead into a new era. The final redemption! The Mashiach, even from the house of David, will also be an embodiment of the part of the neshama of Moshe still lacking perfection and will finally fulfill it's ultimate task and lead Bnei Yisroel into Erets Yisrael. Bimhayrah B'yamainu! Kain yehe ratsone! Now isn't that special?
This weeks parsha also has in it the Biblical commandment "V'achalta, v'savata uverachta" Saying grace after meals, benching. A prayer most of us shmear through while making the afternoons plans in our heads and speaking sign language with a friend. Let's put a little undivided attention into it. Shall we? Rav Wolfson cites the Maharal as his source of inspiration as he offers an explanation of the 4 brachas in ‘benching.'
The first bracha is on the food. Seems pretty logical and straightforward. Thank G-d Who feeds all!
The second bracha is "al ha'arets hatova asher nasan lach. Baruch ata...al ha'arets v'al hamazone." "...on the good land which You gave us. Blessed are You, H' for the land and for the nourishment." It's for Erets Yisroel. Why thank G-d for Erets Yisrael every time we bench? Don't get me wrong. It's a nice gesture but is that it? Heck no!
The embryo of the world is a large stone under the Temple mount called the ‘ehven Shisia' and is hinted to in the first word of the Torah. ‘Braishis' is a compound of ‘barah shis'. From it was formed the Temple mount, then Jerusalem, then Israel, then the rest of the world. Even though the continental plates have devided up, there remains a relationship beyond just the common origins. Israel influences the rest of the worlds produce.
Koheles 2:5. Shlomo Hamelech says, "I made for myself gardens and orchards and planted trees of all fruits." Rashi on ‘all fruits' asks how all fruits can survive in the atmospheric conditions of Jerusalem? He quotes the Medrish Tanchumah which says that all the roots of the world drink from the dirt of Zion. The physical connection may not be so obvious but the relationship is certain. Erets Yisrael influences all lands. Shlomo Hamelech would throw some seeds into the ground in Jerusalem and potatoes would grow in Idaho and pineapple trees in Hawaii! How very appropriate it is to bless Erets Yisrael, the source of nourishment, when we thank G-dfor our food. The third blessing, "Rebuild Jerusalem, the Holy city...Bless You H' Who rebuilds Jerusalem with mercy. Amen."? From the last blessing we can already hear the importance of Jerusalem but if it were for similar reasons, Jerusalem should have been mentioned in the last bracha. Rav Wolfson says whoever prays for his food and receives his food because of those prayers, has an extra measure of kedusha. Unfortunately, Rav Wolfson wasn't around to explain it. Who has the kedusha? The person? His food? Maybe the extra measure is saved for later? Still, we see an importance in praying for our food. So much so that the Zohar adds, "You should still pray for your food even if it is already prepared and sitting in the fridge!" (not a direct quote) But this is praying before eating, not our topic, and it makes no mention of Jerusalem which is our topic?!
Ther's a vort that at a baby's bris the baby's cry goes straight up to Heavenly throne? It is recommended we tack on a prayer as soon as we hear the baby cry to be carried with. Well what are the obvious implications of this??? Our prayers DON"T go straight up!!!!! Well where do they go? Why do you think G-d let the phone company be invented? So you could appreciate that first your prayer is routed to a local office and then it finds a carrier to the next office etc. etc. till it finally reaches the Party to Whom you are praying. The main switching office is Jerusalem. And that is why Jerusalem has a neighborhood Talpiot which are the same letters for Tapilot ie: Tafilot! It works better in Hebrew.
You all know what it's like when there is trouble at the phone switching office, yes? So it is a great idea that as long as we are doing all this praying and for food which has a very strong connection to prayer, that we also pray for our holy switching office to finally be rebuilt with all the latest temple technology and Kailim hardware that will assist our t'filot to be routed the quickest way possible up to heaven!!!
Finally, the forth Bracha was added by the Sages of Yavneh 6 months after the destruction of Betar. The Romans, after killing approx a half million Jews, would not allow their burial. Instead the dead were piled into an 18 foot wall surrounding the fields of the Roman General. After 6 months the Romans finally concede to the pleas of the Rabbis and allowed the burials. The 4th bracha is called Hatov, v'hameitiv. The tov Hashem did that the bodies did not decompose. The meitiv Hashem did that they allowed to be buried.
Why did the Romans do what they did. The simple explanation is to demoralize the Jews, knowing all these bodies were out there. The real point was that the Romans could not tolerate our belief in the resurrection. They felt that we felt that when a body gets buried it will stay that way till it comes time to get up again. They wanted these Jewish corpses to rot before our eyes to prove they weren't going to be in any condition to get up again.
Two things the Romans didn't learn. G-d created the world so that when a seed is planted it decomposes before it gives growth. It's a part of the process. They also didn't realize that (just like Talpiot and Tafilot) Betar is the same letters as bris. Bris means covenant and that's an ever-lasting covenant between G-d and the Jews. This town Betar, which alluds to the bris, shares in some of that 'everlastingness' which sustained the bodies which proved the Roamns wrong even according to their own false understanding of things. (Note: by Noach, G-d makes a special bris with him that the food will not rot while in the ark.)
When Vespasian asked Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai what three things he wanted spared before the destruction of the Temple, one thing he asked for was the Sages of Yavneh. Yavneh is Yi va neh, He will build. By the destruction of Jerusalem was already the planting of the seeds to be yivaneh Jerusalem once again.
Again how appropriate it is to praise Hashem for the good He did at Betar. A sign of the everlasting covenant between us and G-d with a bracha of the Sages of Yavenah who are the koach of rebuilding which should be speedily and in our day. Take part in that building and have a fortified Shabbot Shalom complete with 3 wonderful opportunities for benching.
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