Back to this week's parsha| Previous Issues
by Daneal Weiner
You think this is easy living with one parsha and writing about another?
And if that weren't tough enough, this week in Israel is a double parsha
and outside Israel is a different double parshas! Last week we mentioned
there's a shefah- an influx of kedushah- sanctity which a parsha draws down
into the world. Since Israel is the main satellite link-up, even though the
Diaspora just read then Parshas Shmini, in Israel we read|
which spilled over and out to the rest of the world. That made last week a triple zinger for the out of towners. Well it was just topped by this weeks Parshathon-o-rama! 2 parshas in Israel and 2 parshas out! 4 parshas! You know that number 4 just doesn't want to go away.
Last week mentioned the prohibition of the 4 non-kosher animals. Chazal- our Sages compare them to the four kingdoms which exiled us. Rav Wolfson said these laws appear during the Omer period to help us accomplish our goal of elevation and purification in time for receiving the Torah. Eating kosher and staying away from non-kosher influences.
In this weeks Parsha it speaks about...4 afflictions. The S'ais, Sapachas, Baheres and Negah Tsara'as. Now you might be thinking isn't Negah Tsara'as a general category of the other three? And what about the Shchin v'nirpah and the and the Machvas aish and the Nesek? Well, ask the Medrish 'cause they bring down the 4 and compare them to the 4 kingdoms! An idea of what non-kosher influences can do to a person. And Negah Tsara'as, which seems like a general category of the other three, it is Edom- this 4th and final exile which has in it aspects of all three other exiles.
The haftorah read on this power house Shabbos is the one for Parshas Metsorah from the book Melachim- Kings, the 4th book in the Prophets. It starts, "Four men with tsara'as..."
Parshas Tazria opens telling us that a woman who conceives and gives birth to a male shall be tomay- spiritually impure, 7 days and on the 8th day he'll circumcised the flesh of his foreskin. By the way, someone asked Rabbi Orlofsky, "Isn't circumcision barbaric?!" To which he replied, "Barbarians don't do it." A few verses later it says for giving birth to a girl the mother is tomay 2 weeks. Why is the girl longer? Rav Wolfson says she's not. The boy happens to be shorter. Because on the 8th day he is circumcised! Who shows up at every bris? Eliyahu the Prophet. Eliyahu will introduce us to the Mashiach. A time when Hashem will circumcise our hearts and remove all tumah- impurities from the world. Eliyahu represents this removal of tumah too. And since he comes on the 8th day to the bris, he removes the tumah from the mother.
Last week (as if four parshas weren't enough, I'm still on last week!) when Aharon's two sons were killed Moshe said to him, "That's what Hashem meant when He said He would be sanctified by those nearest Him." Not only was Moshe telling Aharon that Nadav and Avihu were greater than the two of them (since THEY were 'nearest' to Hashem) but that their deaths were also a sanctification of Hashem's Name. "And Aharon was silent," the Torah says. The Ramban and Sforno say it was easier to deal with the tragedy knowing that their deaths were a kidush Hashem. Rashi says that for this Aharon was rewarded by being the recipient of the prophecy for the next mitzvah.
The Midrash has a different approach. "And Aharon was silent." Not "he wept silently". Not "he mourned internally." Not "he...whatever." He was silent- like- he didn't talk. The Midrash asks, "What could he have said?" It answers from the third verse in Tazria, "On the 8th day he will circumcise the flesh of his foreskin."
He could have said this? Someone could, has right to, is justified in complaining to G-d?!?! Maybe before a g'zairah- decree is carried out by the heavenly courts the righteous can beg Hashem to find merits which make the g'zairah 'undeserving'. Maybe our forefathers merits or our children's merits? But once carried out we have only to accept our punishments from a righteous and truthful G-d. How can the Midrash say this? First let's find out what it's saying?
There is an opinion from Chazal that Nadav and Avihu were killed for not getting married! The language of the Gemorah is, "Sons they did not have." Why? Chazal say they didn't find fitting wives from the women of Israel. Hmm? Could it be that the two people closest to G-d were so pompous that they could claim they couldn't find wives worthy of them? Common sense says, "No way!" Needs explaining? Yes way. And let's foolishly say there weren't their 'perfect' women. Since when does that alleviate them of the command to be fruitful and multiply, incumbent on every Jewish male? They're obligated to marry the best match they can find!? More explaining to be done. And why is the language of the fact they were not married, "Sons they did not have"?. Of course they didn't have sons! It's not even an issue unless they had wives. Just say, "Wives they did not have."!? The answers to these and other fine questions will be brought to you right after these introductions.
Rav Tsaddok HaCohen discusses an idea from the Gemorah Yuma, that Tshuva- repentance helps even when according to law, the opportunity of Tshuva should be removed from the person! This is one explanation of how G-d hardened Pharaoh's heart not to free the Jews. Because Pharaoh no longer deserved a chance for Tshuva He took away his free will. No free will, no Tshuva!. The Gemorah Yerushalmi 'asks' of the Torah, of Wisdom and of Prophecy what should be done with a soul that sinned. All three said it should die. Of the wicked king of Israel, Menashe, Chazal say that he has no part of the world to come. He was one of those souls. Yet the Gemorah Sanhedrin says Hashem dug a tunnel under His throne for Menashe to reach Him. He did Tshuva!?
Asking on the Yerushalmi, everyone sins and everyone dies. What's changed? What is it asking? Man sins- not a soul. Man dies- not a soul. The question what to do with a 'soul which sinned' is asking, a soul which has been corrupted to it's core by a life or lifetimes of sin, what happens to it? For a soul, 'die' means 'obliterated.' The big no- more. Nothing from something. Nehilo-Ex! Within the frame work of Torah, Wisdom and Prophecy there is no Tshuva for such a soul, therefore, there is no place in creation for such a soul. But, the Yerushalmi continues, when G-d Himself was asked what to do with such a soul He said, "It will do Tshuva and atone for itself." G-d's plans extend beyond the frameworks He's created. So even though the angels stand guard around the Throne of Glory to fend off the likes of the wicked Menashe, as perscribed by the Book, the Gemorah tells us that G-d dug him a tunnel under His throne.
Where do we first learn this idea? King Chizkiyahu was a righteous king who fell deathly ill. The prophet of his day, Yishayahu came to him and told him he was sentenced to death on high for his sin of not getting married. Chizkiyahu was a righteous king who foresaw the wickedness of his unborn son, Menashe, and what he would do to Bnei Yisrael. Chizkiyahu poskined (exegetical determining of Jewish law) (he was one of the two authorities of his time) that he should not get married. The Gemorah Brachos has some dialogue not recorded in the Prophets. Yishayahu told Chizkiyahu he will die. Chizkiyahu said, "Finish your prophecy and get out. I have it from my fathers house that even with a sword on my neck I can pray and be saved." I.e. Your prophecies don't worry me! Yishayahu said back, "G-d's secrets are not your concern!"
An interesting conversation, to say the least. Yishayahu the PROPHET, one of the frameworks mentioned in the Yerushalmi, said to Chizkiyahu he was going to die. That's according to the rule book. The consequence of his actions. Chizkiyahu 's response to this was, "You think that's all there is? G-d has rules outside of your rule book. You think I'll die? I'll do Tshuva and live. I took all this into account in my ruling not to get married." Yishayahu said back, "G-d's secrets, that which is outside of Torah, Wisdom and Prophecy, are not your concern. For us folks they have no bearing in how we interact with this world. I tell you what you don't know. Even your wicked son will do Tshuva. Your decision was wrong!" Yishayahu threw the same lesson right back at Chizkiyahu. Chizkiyahu then married Yishayahu's daughter, the most righteous women with the most familial merits. The hope was that his and her joint account would thwart the decree of a wicked son.
So what we described before, a soul "wicked to the core" really doesn't exist because at the core of every Jew is a desire to do Tshuva. And while from one frame of reference Chazal say Menashe has no share in the world to come, from another frame of reference they can say EVERY Jew has a share in the world to come!
In G-d's eyes, so to speak, the most disgusting part of a Jew is the foreskin. (Since a soul is split and comes into this world as a man and women, which reunites at marriage so one gender representing is all that's needed.) G-d could have commanded it's removal like any other mitzvah. But Hashem bound into the circumcision the greatest covenant between Him and us. Our immortality. This is a theme throughout the Torah, that from under the greatest tumah lies the greatest potential for Kedushah. The area of Sodom is referred to as the Garden of Hashem. From Lot and his daughter descends the maternal lineage of the Mashiach. Why was Menashe made a link in the chain of the kings of Yehudah and the Mashiach ben David? Because through him we learn the strength of the Tshuva. The potential spark within even the worst of Jews. Bound into the coming of the Mashiach will be this Tshuva. The removal of the foreskin represents this potential as does "Hashem circumcising our hearts and the hearts of our offspring," (D'varim 30:6). And the 8th day of the bris is a concept in time when Eliyahu comes to purify the impure which also expresses this potential for Tshuva. The letters of 'Menashe' has the same letters of 'Shmoneh'- 8.
Aharon was silent. Now we understand that the Medrish doesn't mean he literally had something to say but that this idea was hidden in that tragic event which Aharon didn't know. The souls of Nadav and Avihu went into Pinchas, after he'd slain the Prince of Shimon, and the Zohar in Parshas Pinchas says that they were one with Eliyahu the Prophet as well. That's 4 in one! To explain the words of Chazal, "Sons they did not have", the Zohar says sons undeserving of their parents name do not have 'yichus'- family ties back to their parents. Nadav and Avihu, like Chizkiyahu, saw their sons were going to be quite evil. As far as yichus goes, "sons they did not have". So maybe two highly righteous women with merit could change this decree. There were no women in that generation with such enormous merit! They did not get married. Like their father Aharon, they also did not know what was to be revealed generations later, which their souls were going to take part in themselves! Visiting on the 8th day, heralding in the Mashiach, partaking in the greatest Tshuva, the culmination of all history. All wrap up in one cryptic response of Chazal, "And on the 8th day he will circumcise his flesh."
The Ohr Hachaim HaKadosh says, "When a woman conceives..." The woman is Knesses Yisrael. "And gives birth to a male..." The final redemption, in the masculine form. Stronger then the redemption from Egypt. "And on the 8th day he will circumcise..."? not 'he' the father, but 'He', Hashem!
And Hashem tells us, "Here, I send to you Eliyahu the Prophet, before the great and awesome Day of Hashem. And he'll return the hearts of the fathers on the sons and the sons on their fathers!" All those souls who's family ties were cut off. Who had no yichus. Their hearts will be circumcised. Their holiness will burst forth!
At the time, Aharon could only be silent and was rewarded for that silence and for not questioning Hashem. But King David wrote in Psalms, when his own son, Avimelech, was trying to kill him, "I will sing Your praise Hashem, I will not be silent!" Because King David is the spirit of the Mashiach. Although before Chizkiyahu's and Menashe's time, David knew of the great and awesome day to come. He knew his son would do Tshuva.
Hinay, anochi shole'ach lachem, es Eliyahu HaNavi, lifnay bo yom Hashem,
Speaking of doing Tshuva, on that great and awesome day, it's better if we do it now. It can't come fast enough. For those who have not read the last number of parshas, a couple times was mentioned the terrible state of Tel-Aviv Jewry. 3rd and 4th generation descendants of the original Zionist dream. No longer knowing even the little value that their own secular grandparents and great grandparents gave to Judaism, for which was established the "status quo", they now continue the fight of the Hellenists, the bundists, the communists and all the like to rid the Jewish state of it's Jewishness. Tel Aviv is where the brothels are, where the gay clubs are, where the abortion clinics are, where the post office tears open incoming overseas mail checking for money, where individual business owners sue to be open Shabbos, fight to sell pork...where they have just officially legislated desecrating Shabbos,r'l, G-d help us. He tried, actually. Apparently the threat of Saddam wiping them off the map didn't shake them up enough. May G-d's help continue to come with great miracles and no loss of life.
I was visiting friends who were in from my home town. One of them has a relative through marriage who is taking part in a Yeshiva Gedolah in Tel Aviv! The first post high school institution of Jewish jurisprudence, philosophy and theology in Tel Aviv! They are going to help whatever Tel-Avivians they can to be chozer- to return!!! Classes, lectures, debates...they go out, people come in...GREAT!!! Fantastic!!! Now, as I'm talking to this young man about this glorious endeavor, something is sounding....strange. Something is just not adding up. I finally had to ask him directly, "What are you returning the Tel-Avivians to???"
With a slight hesitation, (I'm not sure if he couldn't believe my question or, for a fleeting moment, his answer) he says, "Chevron." G-d help us, please!!!
More gravesite desecrations are illegally being carried out by the Ministry of Antiquities!
Have a full FOURce Shabbot Shalom! (and then pick on that phone!)