Parsha Naso

While the preparations are continue, we are going from one thing into the next. The longest Parsha in the Torah. The levite families of Gershon and Merari are counted and assigned to their specific tasks relating to the Mishkan.

HaShem instructs Moshe concerning with the temporary exile of individuals affected  with a specific form of Tuma, ritual impurity, from various sections of the campment. Laws of theft, and subsequent denial of responsibility. The Laws of Sota, the Laws of Nazir an individual who vows to take it upon himself increased religious obligations, and the rules of Birkas Kohanim, the priestly blessings.

The rules of the Birkas Kohanim is lifting up the hands, where the fingers don't touche each other. The priestly Blessing is recited ever since biblical times and still recited today in Shuls during Shabbos and other holidays.

Birkas Kohanim

Yivorechecha HaShem, May G-d bless you and guard you.

Yaer HaShem, May G-d makes His countenance shine upon you and be gracious to you.

Yisa HaShem, May G-d turns His countenance towards you and grant you peace.


The Law of Sota

Process of Jewish Law and Jurisprudence.

The Torah describes the ritual in the case of a Sota. A married woman suspected by her husband of adultery. In the courtyard of the Sanctuary under direction of a Kohen, the Sota is to participate in a serie of public humiliation rituals. These rituals in the consumption of a portion containing water from the Sanctuary's laver, earth from the Sanctuary floor and a dissolved parchment upon which is written the section of the Torah text which outlines the potential fate of the Sota herself.

The Sota's guilt, the Torah continues, will be determined by her reaction to the ingestion of the potion. If she is innocent of her husband's charges, she will remain unharmed. If she is guilty, drinking the potion will cause her to suffer injury. The Torah passage concerning a Sota is troubling. How can the Torah undermine the very foundation of Jewish Law, by introducing  what seems to be a  trial by ordeal ?

Nowhere else in the ongoing process of Jewish Jurisprudence is truth determined by HaShem's miraculous intervention. It is opposed to the fundamental principles upon the Law is based. From Sinai onwards, the divine Law is placed in the hands of man. Prophecy, signs and miracles have no place in a Jewish courtroom.

Also the treatment of the Sota seems to be unusually hars, and in the absence of any proof, how can a suspicion of guilt of the husband's part result in a public humiliation of his wife? Or even worse then that?

Are we to question the way in which Torah  approaches the entire event?

Judging eternal Torah Law is dangerous, as we are coloured by our own limited vision and our inability to comprehen HaShem's way, which is made up by the short term of our own social perspective. What we view as fair, or as justice is a perception of our own experiences, but also as a part of the time we live in.

As the Torah is timeless and meant to meaningful in each generation, we have a obligation, to struggle with each section in effort to learn lessons which are relevent to our own lives and times. Every passage of the text has something to say to us today. Our challenges is to walk at this fine line and carefully examine the dephts of the most difficult passages of the Torah. But we have to take in account hat the conclusions we reach maybe incomplete and inherently incorrect. 

On our journey into the rituals of Sota and ask ourselves this basic question?

What are the requirements for this ritual? Under what condition does a woman become a Sota?

Torah's answer to this what seems a simple question, contradictory and confusing.

" Any man whose wife shall go astray and commit treachery against him, and a man lie with her carnally, and it be hidden from the eyes of her husband, and she was seduded and defiled- but there is no witness against her- and she was not forced. 

And the spirit of jealousy passed over him and he warned his wife and she became defiled, or  a spirit of jealousy passed over him and he warned his wife and she did not become defiled.

On one hand the Torah refers to the event with an attitude of certainty; " Whose wife shall go astray and commit treachery against him" " and a man lie with her carnally" "and she became defiled "

On the other hand, the Torah seems to indicate that the facts are not clear at all. " And it be hidden from the eyes of her husband" " but there is not a witness against her" " and she did not become defiled"

We are challenged by what seems to appear a textual contradictions. When a woman becomes a Sota, they maintain only after her prior behavior has created real grounds for suspicion on the husband's part. According to the Law, the ritual of Sota can only take place after the following steps;

🔹️A Husband is seized by jealousy and suspects his wife of infidelity,this based on her actions in connection with another man.

🔹️Confronting his wife in the presence of two reliable witnesses. And he has to demand in very clear terms, that his wife not seclude herself in future with this man in particular.

🔹️The two reliable witnesses appear to testify that after words by her husband, the wife secluded herself with the men inquestion and this is a adulterous act could have been possible. The witnesss are unable to testify as to whether or not such an act did really happend.

The question arises, why only is a woman subject to these Laws? According  to the Torah, isn't adultery commited by a man not a offence?

The answer is; from Torah perspective, the marital obligations present upon a man and a woman, are respectively not the same.

After marriage, a woman is forbidden to engage in certain relations, with any man other than het own husband. Hers is to be monogamous relationship. A man having extramarital relationships with unmarried women are not prohibited in the Torah. A man only commits adultery when he has physical relations with a married woman.

This was the case until somewhere in the Middle Ages, when the great Ashkenazic Rabbinic authority, Rabbeinu Gershom issued a ban on polygamy.

But why does the Torah mandate different marital requirements for men and women?

There is no clear answer, perhaps the Torah view's men and women's emotional and physical needs in marriage different. Or maybe a woman's role witin the home, gives a greater demand staying faithful. Whatever the reason, the Torah's  expectations concerning a woman's marital fidelty are reflected in the Laws of Sota.

Midrashic and Halachic concerning the Sota;

" And the man shall be innocent of iniquity, but that the woman shall be inquity."

This interpretation suggest that the waters given to the Sota, are only effective if her husband has been acting immorally, the waters will not affect his wife, even if she is guilty.

" Just as the waters examine her, so do they examine him "

The Talmud interprets this as the miraculous Sota waters, which affect not only a woman guilty of adultery, but the man in the adultors act as well, as he is her partner in crime.

But the confusion still remains; What is exactly the true nature of the Sota ritual?

The Rambam concludes by quoting the Talmud, that HaShem intervention in the case of Sota, is dependent upon the nation's worthiness.

The Torah narrative is a reminder of the paths we cannot afford to take, whether through actions or neglect. The strengh of marriage can never be taken for granted, it is our most important relationship. 

Shalom Bayis, is never fully attained, but through effort and hard word, must be sustained. No life lessons seems to be more critical, after all HaShem woundn't  break His own rules and Laws, unless it was really important!



Parsha Bamidbar

Parsha Bamidbar and Shavuot may not be coincidental as it seems in the first place, but instead a clear reminder of a fundamental truth,

" The most important moment of Revelation is the moment the Jewish people leave "

The moment the nation's departure from Har Sinai, it determines a quality of all that has come before. If the Jewish people leave the site of Revelation, changed by experience and carry the Torah  with them and witin them, only then the dramatic event of Har Sinai achieved it's purpose. But upon leaving the site of Revelation the Jewish people leave Har Sinai behind. The miraculous event there, will have been little more than a divinely performance of " Sound and light show " to impress the observers momentory fashion.

Bamidbar opens each year on Shabbos before we arrive, proclaim our understanding that the years spent at Har Sinai achieved their significance in hindsight.

What is the verdict regarding the lasting impact of Revelation upon the Jewish people?

Are the Jewish people succesful in their transition from Har Sinai?

In this Parsha we see a mixed verdict concerning these questions. On one hand, this particular generation that witnesses Revelation fails it's ultimate test. The Jewish people leave Har Sinai with haste, anxious to rid themselves of the commitment upon them by Divine Law. Their instant rebellion set in motion a series of dawnwards calamities peak, in the sin of the spies, the trangression that ultimately seals their fate in the wilderness.

On the otherhand, in spite of the failure of this generation of the Exodus, Revelation does tell a majestic story of the Jewish people. The Sinai desert, the twelve tribes, Moshe who counts 603,550 men between the age of 20 and upwards, the tribe of Levi who's numbering 22,300 males in the age of one month and older. The Levites are to serve in the Mishkan, the replacement of the firstborn and the participation in worshipping the Golden Calf. The 273 firstborn who will lack a Levite to replace had to pay five Shekels which is a ransom to redeem themselves.

The Torah was given to the people of Israel in the ownerless desert. For if it were given in the Land of Israel.

Why was the Torah given in the desert? Mainly it is to teach a person that does not surrender himself to it, like the desert, he will never merit the words of the Torah. Just to teach us that the desert is endless, and so is the Torah without end.

When HaShem tells the Jewish people, in preparation for the giving of the Torah

" Hear My voice and keep My covenant and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priest and a holy nation"

Every Jewish soul that ever lived, was present at Har Sinai, when the Torah was given to us, we were all there. When HaShem descended unto the mountain, so that we would be able to take the world, uplift it and make it holy. We do this by performing Mitzvahs.

In the Torah, the Jewish people prepare towards their life of purpose, to transform every spiritual desert into a G-dly and civilized world.

As each soul was present at the giving of the Torah on Har Sinai, each person who was to go forward was also counted. Each of us is part of a much larger purpose and each of us has our own special role within this plan to accomplish. Everyone of us counts. We all do make a difference!









Parsha Behar- Bechukotai

Parsha Behar opens as HaShem, building on this festival cycle which we can find in Parsha Emor. HaShem instructs the nation to count continuing cycle of forty- nine years, with each seventh year as a Shmita, this is a Sabbatical year and each fiftieth year as a Yovel, this is a Jubilee year.

During the Shmita, all of the agricultural activity is prohibited and the land is not to be used. Everything what is naturally produced and naturally grown, during this year is designated as hefker, is ownerless, and therefore available to all, to the people and the animals.

During Yovel the agricultural restrictions of Shimta, added extensive edicts. All of the Hebrew indentured servants, including those who have chosen to remain in service, this is beyond the usual six- year term,  must be set free and with specific exceptations and all land that has been sold must be retured to the orginal owners.

Among the Laws of Shmita and Yovel, there are several other edits in Parsha Behar: 

1. The Prohibitions of financial and verbal oppression.

2. Regulations concerning the redemption of the land before Yovel by the original owner or to a close family member.

3. The Prohibition of lending money.

4. The Laws of eved Ivri, this is a Hebrew indentured servant and a eved Cana'ani, which is a Canaanite slave.

There is also a firm warning to avoid idolatery and to respect HaShem's Shabbats and the Holy Temple.

Parsha Bechukotai opens with an explanation of the blessings to be granted to the nation upon the observance of HaShem' s statutes and commandments. The promis of these blessings, which immediately followed in the next first two Tochachot, this is a section of rebuke, and found in the Torah. The second and larger of these sections are found in Devarim. Each of these Tochachot features serious prophetic warnings of the terrible disaters who will fall upon the people when they should fail to follow HaShem,s will.

In Vayikra we return back to the korbanot, the Torah specifies rules concerning:

Arachin, voluntary offerings brought to the Sanctuary and based on the specific value of individuals, livestock and real estate.

Sanctifications and redemptions of houses and fields.

Redemption of Ma'aser Sheini, the second tithe reserved of consumption of the owners of Jerusalem.

Ma'aer Beheima, the tithe of animals, that is brought as an offering  to the Temple. While portion of the animals tithed are offered on the altar, the meat is to be eaten by the owners and their guests.

Returning land reminds us that HaShem is the true and pemanent owner of everything. Freeing the Jewish slaves is a reminder that the Jewish people are HaShem's chosen ones.

Parsha Emor

Once again the Torah takes a turn when we open this Parsha.

HaShem commands Moshe to instruct the Kohanim concerning obligations who are specific to their priestly role. This includeds the prohibition of the involvement of death and burial- the death of a immediate family member is a exception. Also the prohibition of marrying a divorcee, the Laws concerning  blemishes which will disqualify a Kohen from active service in the Mishkan. Because of these specific Laws of tuma and tahara - the impurity and the purity. There are also more severe restrictions which applies to the Kohen Gadol. The special Laws of the korbanot, this includeds a list of blemishes disqualifying animals from serving as sacrifices and the prohibition of slaughtering on animal and the offspring on the same day.

At this stage the Torah turns its attention to the calendar cycle, the holy occasions of Shabbos, Pesach, the counting of the Omer and Shavuot and the tragic event of the students of Rabbi Akiva.

The classical commentary of the rules concerning the Kohanim, simply as a extention of the regulations that govern the sacrifices. Just as the korbanot brought to the sanctuary must be whole and unblemished. There is also the possibility that the answer lies in the observation by Rashi commenting on the sentence " Ki kol ish " for many man, in whom there is blemish shall not approach. Rashi explains, that it is not proper that a blemished Kohen should approach. The Torah simply demands that we show HaShem the same respect that we would show any king, a monarch of flesh and blood would not be waited upon servants. It is therefore obvious that the divine King of kings should be served by those who are physically unblemished. This exclude the blemished Kohanim as well.

In classical commentary which they understood this very well, states: HaShem's choice need not, and will not, always comply human logic and sensibility. Underscoring this point and the explanation the text gives:

And the Lord spoke to Moshe saying : " Speak to Aharon saying any of you offspring throughout the generations in whom there would be a blemish shall not come near to offer bread of his G-d. For only man- Ki kol ish -in whom there is a blemish shall not approach! "

Concerning the Laws of the blemished Kohanim

 And any attempt at understanding, in fact will not only prove futile, but will jeopardize the performing of the Mitzvah itself. The Torah introduces the logic and the reason behind this, but doesn't provide any answers. The physical blemishes of the Kohanim is a critical lesson concerning the relationship between physical and spiritual well being. True holiness is founded upon completeness in all aspects of life.

The Talmud explains : " The Holy One Blessed Be He only fully rests His presence upon the wise, the strong, the wealthy and the humble. In the search for a sanctify life, we must strive for wisdom, health and moral purity.

The second part of this Parsha details the concerning of the Laws of Priesthood and the aspects of the sacrifical rituals.

HaShem delivers the fallowing edict: " I am the Lord. And you shall not profane  My Holy Name, and I will be sanctified in the midst of the children of Israel : I am the Lord Who sanctifies you.

What is the specific importance of this mandate?  And why is this mandate specifically placed at this point in the Torah?

After outlining a extensive of precepts which are designed to guide man towards the goal of holiness.

" And you shall observe My commandments and perform them: I am the Lord. And you shall not profane My Holy Name, and I be sanctified in the midst of the children of Israel: I am the Lord Who sanctifies you." 

The positive Mitzvah of Kiddush HaShem and the prohibition of Chillul HaShem. No commandments in the Torah speaks more clearly to the depth and the extent of our obligations as Jews. For example Rambam says based on a Talmudic discussion in the tractate of Sanhedrin. In these discussions the Mitzvot by mention them as the most extreme obligations in Jewish experience, of the importance of the martyrdom, when necessary of the sanctification of G-ds naam.

Rambam gives a explanation when confronted with destressed situation of involuntary transgression, these two precepts are to be fulfilled through the following guidelines.

1. A Jew must be willing to martyr himself rather than allow himself to commit the sins of idolatry, sexual immorality or murder under any circumstances.

2. A Jew must willing to martyr himself rather than allow himself to commit any sin in public- this defines by the presence of ten other Jews.

3. If the attempt a personal coercion takes place against backdrop and a effort to eradicate Jewish tradition on a national level, a Jew must be willing to martyr himself rather than allow himself to be coerced to commit any sin, even in private.

And Jew ultimate sacrifice, under circumstances too often exoerienced in our tragic history, for the sanctification of G-d's name.

Torah's discussion concerning the calendar cycle, immediately after the commandment concerning the Omer offering.

" And you shall count for yourself from the day after the Shabbat. From the day you bring the offering of the Omer- seven weeks complete shall they be. Until the day after the seventh Shabbat, shall you count fifty days, and you will offer a meal offering to the Lord. "

This commandment is repeated in Devarim:

" Seven weeks shall you count for yourself: from the time the sickle is first put in the standing crop, you shall begin to count seven weeks. The Mitzvah of the Sefirat Ha'omer, the counting of the Omer obligates each Jew to verbally count the days and weeks from the second day of Pesach until the first day of Shavuot.

What is the purpose of verbally counting the days between Pesach and Shavuot?

Through the act of counting of the Omer we testify  that the revelation at Har Sinai, which we remember on Shavuot, was the goal and purpose  of the Exodus from Mitzrayim, which we remember at Pesach. This is established when HaShem informs Moshe at the burning bush: " And this is your sign that I have sent you! When you take the Jewish people out of Mitzrayim, you shall serve G-d on this mountain."

On a deeper level, our counting states the freedom of the Exodus, would be incomplete without the spiritual freedom that is granted by HaShem's Law.

This Rabbinic statement expresses a general truth: " No one is truly free other than he who is involved in the study of Torah.

In the first- second century CE, the days of the Omer dramatically changes from a time of celebration to period of mourning. The Talmud about this tragic event in Jewish history: 

Rabbi Akiva had twelve thousand students, and they all died in one period because they failed to treat each other with respect, they all died during the period between  Pesach and Shavuot.

In remembrance of this tragedy the Rabbis commanded that part of the Omer period restrict by Law of mourning. Marriage, or any other celebrations and even a haircut are prohibited during this restricted period, however, this varies from community to community. This is a very powerful reaction of Jewish Law to the death of Rabbi Akiva's students, which seems somehow a bit strange. In Jewish history there are some overwelming  tragedy that didn't result in similar halachic remembrance. 

What makes this event so different?

The Talmud explains, that the death of these Sages, tragic as it was in and of itself,  a result of a greater calamity in Jewish history as the loss of Rabbi Akiva's students left the world " desolate " through loss of Torah study.

Their death represented a break in the chain of oral tradition,in a time such a loss threatened the survival of the Jewish nation. Only Rabbi Akiva's succes in finding and teaching new students had dimmished catatrophic effects of this tragedy.

A powerful and puzzling mystery arises from  the Omer period.

Rabbi Akiva emphatically identifies: " Love your fellow as yourself " as the most important principle of the Torah.

Yet is students died as a result in which they failed to treat each other with respect!






Parsha Acharei Mot - Kedoshim

When HaShem commands Moshe to instruct Aharon, concerning the sanctuary service to take place om Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.

At the center of this service lies the mysterious ritual of the se'ir hamishtaleiach, which means " The sent goat "

And from among the children of Israel, he shall take two he- goats as a sin offering and stand them before the Lord, at the entrance of the Sanctuary. Aharon shall place lots upon the two he- goats: one lot for the Lord and one lot for Azazel.

And Aharon shall bring near the he- goat upon which the lot for the Lord has been drawn and shall make it a sin offering. The he-goat upon which the lot for Azazel has been drawn. And shall be stood alive before the Lord, to affect atonement upon it, to send to azazel in the wilderness.

How should we understand this strange ritual of the " Sent Goat " which is the center of the service of the holiest day of the year, at the holiest spot on earth, under direction of the Kohen Gadol, on behalf of the entire nation?

What is the significance of the selection of the two goats at the same time?

Why are lots drawn to determine the fate of each goat?

Why not simply designate without the whole ceremony?

This approah, maintains  Rambam, explaines the use of lots in the selection between the two goats. Had the Kohen chosen the goat to be sent to Azazel, it would have been as if he were worshipping the " force " of the wilderness and offering dirctly in it name. The ritual as outlined in the Torah, calls for both goats to be stood before the Santuary. Both animals are offerings to HaShem who then makes His will known through drawing of lots., it is HaShem and not the Kohen, determines the fate of each offerings. HaShem selects the gift for Azazel.

What is the implication of the confession faced by the Kohen Gadol over the " Sent Goat " on behalf of the entire nation?

What role does the confession plays in the atonement of Yom Kippur?

And isn't atonement a private and personal process, which should be experienced individually and not communally?

The communal vidui, confession, recited by the Kohen Gadol over the se'ir  hamishtaleiach is a central feature of the Yom Kippur ritual

Confession and Teshuvah are private and a personal process. Unstanding the phenomenon of confession sheds further light on the mysteries ritual of the se'ir hamishtaleiach and the concept of Teshuvah. Although Teshuvah is translated as repentance, the correct interpretation is " return ". Repentance is a step up to Teshuvah.

Before turning to the specific vidui corresponded with the se'ir hamishtaleiach,:  What is Rambam's approach to confession and its place in Jewish thought and Law? Rambam on the Law of Teshuvah with the following Halacha:

" WIth regard to all precepts in the Torah, whether posistive commandments or negative ones. If a person transgrasses one of them, either willfully or unknowningly, when he does Teshuvah and returns from his sin, it is his duty to confess before G-d  blessed be He..and this confession is een affirmative precept. " 

The Law of Return: One positive Mitzvah, that the sinner shall repent of his sin before the Lord and confess. The Rambam views on repentance and not confession alone as a Mitzvah. Why then, does Rambam focus on the obligation of confession, and label it as affirmative precept?

The first Halacha in Rambam's Laws of Teshuvah focus upon the physical action through which the Mitzvah of Return is performed : This is the concrete act of verbally confession and this entire section of Laws is introduced and reflects both tangible performance and psychic fulfillment: The Law of Return ! A positive precept, that the sinner shall repent of his sin which is the fulfillment before HaShem and confession which is the performance.

Many questions in this Parsha, there is even a deeper question : Why does the Rambam consider the act of verbal confession so critical to the Mitzvah of Return ? Why can't Teshuvah take place in our hearts?

The Torah obligates to make a confession. The confession serves to complete the Teshuvah process. Verbally both his remorse over the past and his commitment to the future changes. When feelings, thoughts and emotions become clear as long as someone's thoughts remain repressed and not brought out into the open, they are not truly ours. Repentance not verbally is therefore valueless.

The Rambam's comments concerning confession connected with the se'ir hamishtaleiach becomes clear. The Rambam states " since the se'ir hamishtaleiach brings acquitted for all of Israel, the Hight Priest confess over it in the name of all of Israel and defining the nature of atonement granted by the ritual of the " Sent Goat " . The se'ir hamishtaleiach in Rambam's opinion, represents communal atonement.

With this we can now understand why the Rabbi's mandate for the man who brings Yom Kippur process of communal atonement to a conclusion. Muchan l'kach miyom etmol, each Yom Kippur we confront our " regrets " is essential to the process of Teshuvah, is to increase awareness of the ultimate impact of our sins. If wecan somehow perceive the potential future result of our words and actions, we will be more able to carefully control our reactions and interactions. We spare ourselves and other a great deal of pain.

An abrupt change in the tone as HaShem turns to the ethical, the moral and the ritual precepts who are made the shape the caracter and behavior of the Jewish nation.

HaShem commands Moshe to gather the people and coommand them: Holy shall you be, for I am , the Lord your G-d. This encouragement towards the sanctify introduces a parsha so significant that the Rabbis claim, some centuries later, that most of the fundamental teachings of the Torah are obtained from there.

Parsha Kedoshim are such ethical precepts as: 

1. You shall fear, every man, his mother and his father: and you shall keep My Shabbats: I am the Lord your G-d.

2. You shall not steal : you shall not deny falsely: you shall not lie to one another.

3. You shall not curse the deaf: and before the blind you shall not place a stumbling block: and you shall fear G-d: I am the Lord.

4. You shall not travel as a gossipmonger among your people, you shall not stand idly by the blood of you fellow: I am the Lord.

5. You shall not hate your brother in you heart: you shall rebuke your fellow, and not bear sin because of him.

6. You shall not take revenge and you shall not bear a grudge against the members of your people: and you shall love your fellow as yourself: I am the Lord.

There are some mysterious ritual Laws included.

1. Kilayim and shaatnez: prohibitions concerning the crossbreeding of animals, specific agricultural mixtures and combination of certain fibers in clothing.

2. Orla and neta reva'i: the prohibition against consumption if the first three years produce of a fruit tree and the obligation to bring the fourth year's fruit to Jerusalem for consumption.

3. Precepts prohibiting sorcery and superstitious beliefs.

4. Precepts prohibiting men from totally cutting off their sideburns and shaving with a razor.

In this study there are the specific Laws, commandments of parental honor and fear are of critical importance. Seen through the Torah Laws, the child parent relationship is marked  with a balance between honor and fear: between personal closeness and distance.

The commandment " Honor your father and mother " demands a child who is personally nuture by his parents and the other way around when they become dependent on the child. The childs responsibility towards his parents are meant to mirror the nourisment the child himself should have received during the years of his own dependency. Regardless the personal relationship with his parents, when the need arises, he is obligated to personally take care and provide for their basic needs.

The commandment: You shall fear , every man, his mother and father, mandates distance between parents and child. From a Halachic perspective, the parent- child relationship is not a relationship of equals  and the Torah demands that there are appropriate boundaries between them. Jewish Law recognizes a simple truth: for a parent to be effective as a teacher and a role model, he must be his child's parent and not his child's friend.

While there are many lesson to be learned from the Mitzvot of matanot la' evyonim are relevant for our times, and as indicated in our study, the Torah demand that the landowner gives up ownership  over portions of what he produced to benefit not only the poor but the himself as well. To "let go" the Torah reminds him that he doesn't need to have it all!

The Torah's mandate of Lifnei iveir lo titein michshol, the prohibition of misleading another one, it means that you are withholding some vital imformation.

From this commandment and in other sourses in the Torah the level of prohibition of rechilut as interpersonal speech falling onder gossip.

1. Motzi shem ra- slander: The most severe form of prohibited interpersonal speech, is damaging another person with untruths.

2. Lashon hara- evil speech: The spreading of damaging imformation about another person, even if it is true.

3.Rechilut- gossip: The sharing of personal information about another person, without the person  presence.

The responses of Halacha are in four commonsense rules and as a guide in all cases.

1. What are the motivations? : what is the intent to share this information.

2. What are facts? : what is the nature of the source? Too often hearsay is damaging and have devastating consequences.

3. What is the relevance? : is the information relevant in relation to the situation.

4. Apply for Halachic counsel: most of us only seek Halachic counsel when we need information regarding the Kashrut, Shabbos or ritual concerns. But Jewish Law is also meant as guidance in all area's of our life, especially when it comes to our ethical and moral behavior. It is the most sensible decission to make before the damage is done.

All Mitzvot, from ethical to ritual, are to be observed because they are divine commandments, they all  coming from the same source at Har Sinai, the commandments of V'ahavta to the commandments of Shaatnez, are all essential. 

Parshat Tazria - Metzora

At the end of Parsha Shemini the Torah opens the door on the mystifying tuma and tahara, the ritual of impurity and purity. With Parshat Tazria- Metzora we enter this realm in full force with reviewing the Laws of tumat yoledet, wich means impurity as a result of childbirth.

In great depth the Torah reviews a variety of physical ailments, which carries critical information to Kohanim who will be responsible for indentifying and manging of ailment falling into the category of Tzara'as. This is including ailments which will affects persons clothing and home. The world laid out within this Parshat, is yet the most phemomenal within the Torah. This is including tumat yoledet. Impurity from childbirth but also from niddah, Laws surrounding montly cycle.

While the Laws of tuma and tahara throughout the Torah are complex and yet again  we are dealing with chukim. Laws for which no reason is given in the Torah and such Laws are therefore meant to be observed, even when it's not understood. The purpose of these Laws may in fact be of loyalty to HaShem.

For the purpose of this study, we have adopt a more philosophically approach, which encourage  analysis of a possible logical reason behind chukim. When we maintain such a analysis we could enriches our observance of the Mitzvot.

What if any rational explanation suggests the existence of the Halachic state of tuma and tahara, what lessons can be learned from these mistifying views?

The highest form of ritual impurity in Jewish Law is by diect contact with death. Such tuma is reffered witin Halacha as " avi avot hatuma" the connection between death and impurity is difficult to understand. Kavod hameit- honor and care for the deceased- is one of our most powerful commands in Jewish Law. The obligation to be of service to burial is a Meit Mitzvah. In our communities, individuals who on a regular basis prepare the dead for burial are a honor of Chevra Kadisha.

The obligation to care for the dead is central in Jewish thought and Law. Why should contact with death results in a state of impurity?

Tuma hameit, ritual impurity through contact with death, underlines Judaism's fundamental focus on life. It also  is a possibility that the Jewish nation born into a world preoccupied with the mysteries of reality of death.

Kohanim are specially guarded from any contact with the dead, only under specific circumstances is this accepted. The Kohen Gadol is even more circumscribed. On many occassions the Torah encourage the Jew to focus on the sanctification of his life in this world and to leave the mysteries of the unknown to HaShem.

The Torah does not want us to become callous that we fail to be affected by event or circumstances that touches our lives.

Two approaces fully expain the Laws that fall under the Torah of tuma and tahara. Each approach suggests possible lessons that can be obtained from the core of these mystery Laws.

In a brief overview, Jewish Law dictates a monthly minium of twelve- days physical separation between husband and wife. Corresponding  with the wife's menstrual period and the seven days. During these days the woman is considered temeia and all materital relations are prohibited. At the end of this period of separation, the woman purifies herself by immersing in  a Mikveh

In recent studies it shows that there is a increase of observance of the Law of tararas hamishpacha among young observant couples. There are numerous scholars on potential ways which observing the mandates of tararas hamishpacha and only benefit a marriage and a renewal into their relationship.

The Metzora is a integrated appraoch to heal the body, the mind and the soul. A great goal in life would be to eradicate hurtful speech. Words can build, but can also destroy. How powerful words lies between " Death and Life ". Harmful speech, being malicious, gossip and insensitive towards others can result in anxiety, physical illness and even suicide. This is infecting the mind, which is not only harmful to others as it eventually will come back and bring a lot of negativity in our own life.

In last weeks Parsha Shemini, we are commanded not to eat certain food that are prohibited. Just as we are concerned by what we put in our mouth, so should we be concerned what comes out of our mouth. When we eat food  which will damage our health and causes physical illness, in the same way this it will damage our mind when speaking Leshon hara wich causes spiritual illness.

The afflictions described in both Parshat Tazria and Metzora are not natural diseases, if so what exactly are they? What message is HaShem sending us? The Talmud list seven sins that causes affliction of tzara'as: evil, damaging speech, murder, perjury, sexual immorality, arrogance, robbery and miserliness. In Midrash cites six afflictions in the book of Mishlei that triggers illness : haunty eyes, a lying tong, hands that spills innocent blood, a heart that ponders thoughts of violence, feet always ready to run for evil purpose, false testimony ( which result in spreading lies) and the sowing of discord between brothers.

The associations between crime and punishment. The punishment of Tzara'as to relate crimes of motzi shem ra, slander and Leshon hara, evil or damaging speech. In a Halachic context this means, motzi shem ra refers to true slander like spreading false information about another person, while Leshon hara refers to vocalization and damaging information, even if it is true!

Created in the image of HaShem and granted with reason, intellect and the ability to actually intellect positivity in the world around us. Far from the " speaking spirit " that HaShem created us to be, we reveals ourselves as a meanspirited creature, obliviously or even relishing the pain our words cause to others.

HaShem therefore, specially punish sins commited through speech with the plague of tzara'as.This will always mirrors the sin commited. The connection between sins of speech and the plague of Tzara'as raises serious issues concerning of divine justice in our lives.

The Torah repeatedly speaks of calamities destined to the Jewish nation as a result of our transgression. The second part of the Shema, we recite twice daily( by observant Jews) clearly states that the granting of natural bounty in the land of Israel is contingent upon the actions of the Jewish nation.

So there is a direct connection between pain and wrongdoing in this world ( Tazria- Metzora 2 Approaches E )

But on the other hand, " Why do good people get punished? "

Parsha Shemini

When the seven preparatory days for Aharon and his sons draw to a close as the eighth day will be a celebration, the day on which the Kehuna will be formally put in motion.

HaShem commands the nation to gather at the Sanctuary 's entrance to witness the rituals which Aharon and his sons will enter their priestly duties. A heavenly fire descends, consuming the offerings on the altar.

Aharon's moment of personal victory suddenly turns with a twist into a tragedy as his two oldest sons, Nadav and Avihu, offers a foreign fire and the heavenly flames consumes them both.

Moshe and Aharon react, each in their own way to the tragedy. Moshe then commands his brother to withold from mourning and to continue with the Sanctuary service. HaShem commands Aharon concerning the prohibition of intoxication during the service within the Sanctuary and also other aspects of the service and rituals in the Sanctuary.

Parsha Shemini closes with a review if the Laws of forbidden foodstuffs and specific Laws of Tuma and Tahara, rituals impurity and purity.

The Torah testifies on the tragedy " And the sons of Aharon, Nadav and Avihu, took each of them a censer and placed it in the fire. They offered before HaShem a foreign fire with HaShem had not commanded them. And the fire came forth from before G-d and it consumed them, and they died before HaShem "

A few episodes in the Torah are frighteningly mysterious as the story of the death of Aharon's oldest sons. What exactly is the sin of Nadav and Avihu? Why is this sin so worse than others, that it merits the overwhelmingly severe punishment of a immediate death by the hand of G-d?

There are a number of approaches, the Midrash says that the sons of Aharon sinned in a manner suggested that:

1. Aharon's sons died because they dare to determine Law in the presence of their teacher, Moshe. According to the text Nadav and Avihu didn't act to Moshe's instruction.

2. They could have entered the Temple in a drunken state. There is support for this theory as  immediately subsequently a passage where HaShem commands the Kohanim not to enter the Temple while drunk.

3. They fail to talk with Moshe and Aharon in expectancy of the moment when they will inherit leadership.

At the oppersite end in contrast, stand these commentaries who maintain a very clear testimony suggest:

🔸️And they offered before G-d a foreign fire which G-d had not commanded them.

🔸️And Nadav and Avinu died before G-d when they offered foreign fire before G-d.

🔸️And Nadav and Avinu died when they offered a foreign fire before G-d

Somewhere within the deed itself, lies the key to transgression of Aharon's sons. Somehow the very act of the offering of foreign fire is a unforgivable sin, a sin that demands a harsh punishment. But nowhere in the text says that Nadav and Avihu placed the incense directly on the fire. It could be a symbolic interpretation. 

Nadav and Avihu did understand that incense is specially designed to counter the fire of Midat Hadin, HaShem harsh element of justice. They fail to realize that every offering in the Sanctuary, including the incense, must be presented to a unified G-d. Judaism rejects not only the existence of multiple Gods, but also the possibilty of multiple independent components of one God. All forces within this world, both those who appear to us as benevolent, as well as those who appear to us as punishment, emerge from the same divine source. God's attributes do not operate and therefore, cannot be worshiped, independently of each other.

By placing the incense on the fire, by directing the incense specifically towards the fire of G-ds justice, the sons of Aharon challenge the pillar of Jewish belief, the Oneness of HaShem.

One way or the other, their action undermine the intended demostration of the power of HaShem and diminish His glory in the eyes of the people. Rashbam takes the pshat one step further by putting various pieces of the narrative into a cohesive whole. The fire that consumed Nadav and Avihu is the very same heavenly fire sent by HaShem to consume the offerings on the altar. From the Holy of the Holies, this miraculous fire passes by the incense altar, and there it kills Nadav and Avihu, who were ignorning Moshe's instructions and unknowingly entered the path of fire.

Based on the text " And the Lord spoke to Moshe after the death of Aharon's two sons - When they drew near to the Lord, and they died. They did not incur formal guilt through transgression of any commandments associated with the ritual service, their sin rose from a desire to draw near, to cling to their creator: Not according to the dictates of the Lord, but according to the dictates of their hearts. Nadav and Avihu rejected the obedience of HaShem's will and the acceptance of which is the goal of the entire Torah.

As Parsha Shemini draws to a close, the Torah turns it attention to a set of Laws that fall into the Halachic category better known as the Kashrut. Among other Laws, the category of animals, fish and fowl that are Halahically permitted or prohibited for consumption.

To be considered Kosher, an animal must have split hooves and chew its cud, while fish must have both fins and scales. Prohibited birds are listed individually in the text without description of defining characteristics.

After outlining a serie of regulations, Parsha Shemini ens with the following encouragement:

For I am the Lord you G-d, and you shall sanctify yourselves and you shall be holy, for I am holy....For I am the Lord your G-d Who raises you from Mitzrayim in order to be for you a G-d; and you shall be holy for I am holy. This is the Law of the animal and the bird and all living creatures that swarms in the water and for every creature that teems the ground. To distinguish between the impure and pure and between the creature that may be eaten and the creature that may not be eaten.

The Laws of Kashrut and the numerous strictures in various passages in the Torah plays a role in determining the status of specific food, these restrictions are:

1. The bans on consumption of blood and forbidden fats, even of Kosher animals.

2.The ban on consumption of the sciatic nerve of a Kosher animal.

3. The prohibitation concerning the cooking of a mixture of Kosher meat and milk, the consumption of such cooked mixture, and the derivation of benefit from such cooked mixture.

4. The requirement for the proper slaughter of a Kosher animal.

5.The ban on wine that had been used for Idolatrous purposes

Due to the Torah silence, most specific Laws of Kashut fall into legal catergory of Chukim, Laws for wich no reason is given in the Torah. The Halachic ban on specific food sources is simply that; a restriction on human behavior. The animal designated as forbidden within the Torah are not inherently evil; they are simply forbidden for consumption by Jews.

The world is a gift from HaShem. And we are " entitled " only to that which HaShem allows.



Parsha Tzav

Parsha Tzav picks up were Parsha Vayikra left,

When HaShem instructs Moshe to command Aharon and his sons concerning their role in the sanctuary's sacrificial rite. The text returns to the first introduction of Korbanot in Parsha Vayikra, as HaShem adds details to the participation of Kohanim. During the course of these instructions, other laws necessary upon the intire community are communicated, as well.

These general laws are: Laws of Korbanot. Laws applying to the concept of Tuma and Tahara, ritual purity and impurity to the realm of the Korbanot. Prohibitation of consumption of blood, forbidden fats,Neveilot and Treifot.

As HaShem instructs Moshe to prepare Aharon for priesthood, He underlines the significance of this moment.

" Do not hesitate, Moshe. Not a moment is to be lost. The time has come to take the next step in your nations developement through the launching of the priesthood. For all time, Aharon and his descendents will serve as representatives of the people in My sanctified worship. Their singular participation will bring the hopes and striving of the nation before Me and their reaching will convey to the people My dreams for them. Move quicky and urgently, Moshe, to inaugurate a priestly role that will span generations."

The commandment Tzav at the Parsha's opening indicate potential loss on Moshe's part rather than on Aharon's underlining the value of attempting to perform  a ultimately impossible life exercise: To see the world through someone else's eyes. The most that we can hope for is that our own world remains as close to the real world, the greater the distance between these two, the more difficult life becomes.The critical events unfolding in Parshat Tzav are certainly experienced very differently by Aharon and Moshe. Maybe the abillity of these two brothers but so different from each other and to work together, or at least partially, could be found in the respect that they held for the others world.

As Parsha Tzav draws to a close, HaShem commands Moshe to instruct Aharon concerning the Laws of the shivat yemei hamiluim, the seven days of preparation that will lead to the inauguration of the Kehuna on the eight day. These events initiate the ongoing priestly role of Aharon and his descendents acoss the timeline of Jewish history.

What is the priestly role within Judaism inherited and not earned?

Why is honor given to a Kohen simply because of his ancestry? 

Are we not all equal in the eyes of HaShem? And if we are equal, shouldn't the Jewish community  be a society where people are chosen To fulfill positions?

Certain roles within our tradition are inherited, all male descendents of Aharon are automatically Kohanim, while all men of the tribe of Levie are Leviim, those who serve within the temple. Within each Jewish family, firstborn males are accorded specific rights. Jewish men and women have different Halachic obligations from birth. Once Dovid became king all authentic royalty descends from the Dovidic dynasty. Even Jewish identity is only inherited through the mother. According to Jewish Law while someone can certaintly convert to Judaism, a born or converted Jew cannot convert out!

On the other hand, other critical roles within Jewish society are clearly earned. Although Torah is silent on the subject, Midrash clearly reflects the position of HaShem's choice of Avraham is far from a random choice. Instead, the first patriach secures his position as a ancestor of the Jewish people only through years of lonely philosophical struggle. Moshe, the paradigm of leadership and the ancestor of Rabbinic leadership, rises to greatness only as a result of this own initiative.

The questions raised at the study, now seems more understandable. If these two forces collide, earned role trumps birth role, why does the last exist at all in Jewish Law? Why shouldn't Torah society in all it facets be chosen? Why can't the Kehuna be chosen in each generation on a basis of worthiness rather than bloodline?

There is a graphic proof of value and power of an inherited role. Through pogroms and persecution, exiles and attempted extermination, only a subgroup of honored priests perserves the heritage, which is encoded in their DNA. They are scattered all over the globe, with little or no connection to each other, the Kohanim pass down a tradition from father to son, a tradition of serving in the Temple long gone, but it is still a honored role in the Temple to come.

But above all keep the fire at all time going! 

Parsha Vayikra

And from the Mishkan: all call to ritual

In Parsha Vayikra we learn that the newly formed Jewish nation still encamps at the foot of Har Sinai.

Throughout the entire book of Vayikra they will remain there. HaShem is about to launches a new chapter of Jewish experience by calling Moshe of the sanctuary and commanding him the sacrificial rite in Judaism. Included in the list of Korbanot with will be detailed in this Parsha, are voluntary offerings, like burnt offerings, sin offerings, meal offerings and peace offerings.

The Torah Law seems far more alien to sensibitity than of Korbanot. As we read the Torah's sacrificial rite, we are unable to relate to these what seems primitive ritials, wondering why HaShem would bemand offering of animals and grain in His worship. But on the other hand we cannot deny the sacrificial rite, as it is a big part in Jewish Law. It is not only substantial portions of the Torah text dedicated in detailed descriptions of Karbanot, these rituals still temains to this day. Jewish liturgy is filled with  prayers seeking the rebuilding of the Temple and the reinstatement of Korbanot.

Does the Torah- mandate sacrifical rite still speak to us today?  And do we really have a desire to the return of Korbanot?

The very first text about offerings to HaShem is brought during the second generation of man's existence by Kayin, the eldest son of Adam and Chava and soon after followed by Hevel. As a testimony concerning HaShem,s selective acceptance of these offerings:  And HaShem turned to Hevel to do his offerings, but to Kayin and to his offerings He did not turn! Why did HaShem turn to  Hevel and to his offerings and to Kayin's his offerings He didn't turn? The Torah could have made a point of this by simply stating " And HaShem turned to Hevel's offering while to Kayin's He did not " HaShem did not " accept " or " reject " Korbanot or for this matter any ritual observance, He based His judgement upon the motivations and actions of Hevel and Kayin. While the Torah is not clear why, its must have been simething in Hevel's behavior moves HaShem to accept him and his offering, and Kayin's apparenty merits HaShem's rejection.

Another telling, which continuing this pattern, is intiated in the Torah with the offerings of Hevel and Kayin. From this point  on, it was with the birth of the Jewish nation with the Exodus from Mitzrayim, all Karbanot emerge in the Torah as a man- initiated events, driven by a desire to communicate with HaShem, in these early days developed a sacrifical rite.

Noach, Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov each brought voluntarily offerings. Everything changes centuries later, on the eve of the Exodus from Mitzrayim, as the Egyptians brace  themselves for the final and devastating plague, the Jewish people retreat upon HaShem's command, to their homes. With separate family meals, they participate in the first commanded sacrifice by HaShem as the Torah tells us: The Korbanot Pesach, simultaneous with the birth of the Jewish nation, a divine sacrifical  rite is born. Beginning with that event, Karbanot became an part of Jewish tradition.

Why do things change so dramatically with the birth of the Jewish nation? Why was it, that at this point Kabanot transformed from man- initiated to G-d- commanded ritual? And why does HaShem now desire Karbanot?

There are two different approaches by Rambam in Rabbinic discussion of Korbanot. 

 In his halachic most important work, the Mishneh Torah, the Rambam categorizes Karbanot as Chukim, Mitzvot for which no reason is given in the Torah, while we are encouraged to find meaning in such a Mitzvot, says Rambam that HaShem true reasoning may wel remain difficult to find. Concealed in mystery, Chukim such as Karbanot emerge as a true test of loyalty towards HaShem's will.

As Parsha Vayikra unfolds, HaShem's mandates a serie of sin offerings, and is to be brought as part of the atonement for crimes commited b'shogeig, unintentionally. It outlines specific Karbanot to be offered by a priest, communities,  rulers or individuals after these unintentional sins.

What are these parameters of the category of Shogeig, unintentionally act which Karbanot are brought? Are all unintentional acts equal in the eyes of Jewish Law? 

A review of Jewish Law reveals a spectrum of potential responsibity for the performed act, based on the degree of intentionally actions. There are acts that carry the greatest degree of guilt, like acts commited b' meizid, which is with full intent. Jewish Law punish these acts accordingly. 

When you witness the tragedy of a relationship deeply disintegrating into rancor, and the loss of love can turn into hate and yet as heartbreaking a situation like this , when personal caring for one another descends into emptiness and lacking the emotional connection, where neither simply no longer care, but still carries the possibility, how impossible it seems, to repair. 

Maybe this is why the Torah treats the category of Shogeig so seriously, granting those who transgress b' shogeig and atonement path all of their own. Even in a momentary lapse in our relationship with HaShem and His Law, in passage time, that could grow into continued carelessness or, G-d forbid, absense of caring.

Which is worse, active rebellion or the absence of caring?

Parsha Vayakhel - Pekudei

A full circle

The Parshot of Vayakhel and Pekudei forms a cohesive element in the story of the condtruction of the Mishkan as the book of Shemot comes to a close. After the complex departure of Parsha Ki Tisa, surrounding the sin of the golden calf, the narrative comes to a full circle as HaShem instruct concerning of the sanctuary, which we can read in Parshot Teruma and Tetzave,both are fulfilled.

Parsha Vayakhel opens as Moshe gathers the Nation in order to bring HaShem's instructions. After a detour outlining the Laws of Shabbos, Moshe commands the Jewish people to collect the materials for the construction of the Mishkan, men and women respond with amazing generosity and Moshe publicly instructs Betzalel and Oholiav on supervising the project. Parsha Vayakhel outlines in detail the creation of the elements if the sanctuary.

In Parsha Pekudei a estimate is given of the material collected for the construction of the Mishkan. The Torah outlines the style of garments to be worn by Aharon in his role of Kohen Gadol. Upon the realization of the Mishkan components, Moshe blesses the Jewish people. 

On the first day of the first month, of the second year after the Exodus, upon the instructions of HaShem, Moshe elevated the Mishkan, places various utensils in their proper places and sanctifies the Mishkan and its components. As the dramatic book of Shemot comes to a end, the Mishkan is miraculously filled with a covering of clouds by day and a pillar of fire by night, and the glory of  HaShem within.

As we can read in Parsha Vayakhel, Moshe assembles the Jewish in order to give them HaShem's commandments concerning the building of the Mishkan. Suddenly, he starts a remark with the following instructions concerning the Shabbat:

" SIx days you may work and the seventh day shall be holy day for you, Shabbos a day of complete rest for HaShem, whoever does Melacha ( work) on that day  shall be put to death. You shall kindle no fire in any of your dwellings on the Shabbat day. It is evident in Parsha Vayakhel, that Moshe's purpose for gathering the Nation is to launch the contruction of the Mishkan. But why does Moshe abruptly starts on the subject of Shabbat?

Shabbat is a hugely important topic, but why must it be mentioned, and out of context, especially at a historic moment like this?

Maybe it is not a random pairing of Shabbat and the Mishkan at the beginning of Parsha Vayakhel, and it is not a isolated experience. Earlier in Parsha Ki Tisa on the summit of Har Sinai, HaShem follows His commamdments to Moshe concerning the construction of the Mishkan with the immediate warning : " However, you must observe my Shabbat "! In this firm warning introduces a serie of further instructions concerning Shabbos. In Vayikra 26: 1-3 , Shabbat and the Mishkan are again connected without explanation in the this passage: 

" My Shabbat you shall observe and my sanctuary you shall revere- I am the Lord "

This repeated the Shabbat and the Mishkan together, served as the sourse of a serie of faundation Halachic observation. Moshe introduced the commandments concerning the work of the Mishkan, with a warning concerning Shabbat- that the work within the Mishkan does not overrides Shabbat.

What is the secret of Shabbat? What is the ultimate purpose of this important holy day?

The answer should be simple, but as we approaching  Shabbat through Law, it is a very dificult task, a  path of mistery. The Torah does not clearly clasify the term melacha- this term is used  to refer to the Shabbat prohibitations.

The ultimate definition of melacha through association with the Mishkan is a technical one and holds no philosophical base. What is de definition of work, as a activity of mental and physical power, which would almost be a burden to explain why we are allowed to pick up a book, but are prohibited from flipping a light switch, or move a chair but not rip a paper towel. Melacha represents in attempt to transform our  environment, through physical creation. The Torah tells us, that in the seventh day of creation and the birth of this world, HaShem stops creating.

We are commanded to stop physical creation, every week on the seventh day. But why would HaShem command us to do the same, to respect His "day of rest" with our own?

The Brillance of the Shabbos concept is best to be understood, in explaining the two philosophical extremes, as one spectrum which lies in our tendency to develope, and to use Torah terminology - a kochi v'otzem yadi complex. Towards the end of Moshe's life, he warns that upon succesful entry into Israel, the Jewish people should not falsly conclude, kochi v' otzem yadi asa li et hachayil hazeh, " my power and the might of my hand made me all of this wealth "

How easy is it to lose our way at this extreme, like the mindboggeling scientific discoveries, in the fast growing and changing technology, which defines the world we live in. Never has man be more powerful! But at the same time, we have the complete opposite of the spectrum, which lies deep in the capacity for despair in our powerlessness, the moment the heavens and stars above us, the sun, planets and the many galaxies around us, which makes us feel so insignificant, and in the face of this all do we still have a notion that we are important or powerful?

Much of our traditions, places us exactly where we belong, in the middle of these two extremes. Tefilla reminds us of suffering from a kochi v'otzem yadi complex, and that we are depended upon HaShem for our health and so much more.

Our weekly Shabbos observance is carefully created to help us maintain a proper balance between power and limitations, and with ending our physical acts of the world on Shabbos, we testify to be true to our DIvine Creator. With this we recall the creation of the world on Shabbos and recognize that only HaShem has power to create.

Yesh mi'yesh- something from something.

Parsha Ki Tisa

As this Parsha opens with HaShem speaking to Moshe on Har Sinai, issues commandments concerning:

🔹️A census to be taken of Jewish males, from twenty years and over, through every individual contributes of half Shekel.

🔹️The creation of the Laver, the anoitment oil and the incense to be used in association with the sanctuary.

🔹️The appointment of Betzalel ben Uri ben Chur and Anoliav ben Achisamach to supervise the construction of the Mishkan.

🔹️Shabbos observance.

At the conclusion of these instructions, HaShem presents Moshe with Two Tablets of the Ten Declarations. Meanwhile at the foot of Har Sinai, the Jewish people grow uneasy with the duration of Moshe's absence. They then turn to Aharon and demand: " Rise up, make us Gods, who will go before us, for Moshe, the man who brought us out of Mitzrayim, we do not know what has become of him!" 

Aharon instructs the Jewish people their golden earrings, which with he fashions into an golden calf, he declares: " A festival for the Lord tomorrow "! The Jewish people rise early the next morning to celebrate, meanwhile  HaShem informs Moshe, who is still on Har Sinai, of the sin which has been perpetrated at the foot of the mountain. HaShem threatens the Nation with immediate extinction, relenting only in response to Moshe's passioned pleads.  Moshe descent the mountain with the Tablets of the Ten Commandments. But when he sees the revelry unfolding in the Jewish encampment, he throws the Tablets in anger, smashing them at the foot of Har Sinai, and then he burns the golden calf, grinds it into powder, which he then sprinkles into the water and forces the Jewish people to drink it, he holds Aharon responsible of his involvement in the sin, and instruct the Leviim- who are on his side - to execute those most direct involved in the transgression.

The next morning Moshe reascents Har Sinai in attempt to secure atonement of the sin of the Nation. HaShem informs Moshe of his intent to punish the surviving perpetrators and proceed to strike down these individuals. Hashem commands Moshe to lead the Jewish people to the land of Canaan, and he states that this presence will no longer accompany the Jewish people. In His place, an angels will lead them to victory.

When the Jewish people hear of HaShem's decision, they are in a state of mourning. HaShem's withdrawal and Moshe in his own tent outside the encampment, Moshe begs HaShem to return His presence to the Jewish people and ask them for understanding of HaShem's ways. HaShem informs Moshe that He will reconcile with the Jewish people,and that Moshe will only be granted an indirect vision of HaShem's essence.

HaShem then commands Moshe to carve a second set of Tablets to replace the ones that Moshe distroyed. On this new set of Tablets HaShem' will, once again inscribe the Ten Declarations.

After Moshe carved a new set, when Moshe ascends Har Sinai where he experiences, as HaShem promised, an indirect encounter with de divine presence. Moshe again request and he gets reassurance that HaShem will continue to journey with the Nation to Canaan. 

HaShem commands Moshe concerning to avoid Idolatry upon the entry into the land of Canaan, and issues a serie of instructions including the observance of the yearly festivals. At the command of HaShem, Moshe remains at Har Sinai for a period of forty days and forty nights, to record an renew the covenant between HaShem and the Jewish people. At the end of this period, Moshe descends from the mountain with a second set of Tablets of the Ten Declarations, his face supernaturally radiant from the encounter with the presence of HaShem.

No event within Jewish history is more confushing and frightening than chet ha'egel. How could the Jewish people who experienced the Exodus out of Mitzrayim, the parting of the Red Sea, the defeat of Amalek, the gift of manna and the powerful Revelation at Har Sinai fail so completely in the very shadow of that mountain?

Forty days earlier, against the dramatic backdrop of HaShem's manifestation at Har Sinai, the Jewish people heard the clear commandment against Idol worship. How could they now, at the first sign of difficulty create an golden calf?

The sin of the golden calf echo's across the ages, affecting each era of Jewish history. And yet, the chet ha'egel seems irrelevant to our lives, an ancient event rooted in Idolatrous pratice distant from our experience. What possibly might be containted and clearly perceived to be an instructive tragedy?

By worshipping the golden calf, the Jewish people clearly indicated their acceptance of Idolatry the Talmud states. A position which finds even earlier voice in a passage of Tehillim: " They exchanged their glory for the image of a bull that feeds on grass" and similar opinions can be found in Midras.

When the Jewish people demand Aharon " Rise up, make us Gods, who will go before us ".  With the sin of the golden calf the Jewish people did not a attempt a total rejection of HaShem, they instead wanted to worship another Gods, next to the worship of HaShem. As the Talmud states " They ( Jewish people ) desires many Gods ".

HaShem's Declaration is crystal clear: When they concluded that Moshe has failed to return with the Tablets, the Jewish people then turned to Aharon and they demand a substitude. Thousands stood at the foot of Har Sinai and heard the voice of HaShem speaking in the midst of the fire, forty days later they created an golden calf.

A one-time important announcement will not change a person, not even a clear Revelation will not turn him/ her from Idolatry, to the worship of HaShem. Only prolonged exposure to a life of Torah and Mitzvot, ordering  his days,  nights, week days,  life at the home, dealings with the family, the interactions with others, guiding day by day, and hour by hour and only this kind of immersion will change a person and guard him/ her from sliding into the depths of Darkness!






The power of sin, commentary given in response to Parsha Ki Tisa by Rabbi Manis Friedman

Parsha Tetzaveh - Zachor

In Parsha Terumah, HaShem told the Jewish people, through Moshe, to built Him a sanctuary, where He could dwell in.

After detailing the plans for the construction of the Tabernacle, HaShem turns His attention to those who will serve within its walls. This Parsha introduces the concept of the Kehuna, which is the priesthood, as HaShem designated Aharon as Kohen Gadol, as a high priest, and his sons as Kohanim. They are to serve and representatives of the Jewish people within the sanctuary, and later on within the Temple. HaShem then commands Moshe the fashioning of the Bigdei Kehuna, the designed garment worn by Aharon and his sons as they engaged in the sanctuary service.

The rituals to be performed by Moshe during the seven days of preparation prior to the inauguration of the priesthood and during the ceremony itself. The whole ceremony is recorded in detail in Vayikra.

Why is Moshe's name omitted from Parsha Tetzaveh? It seems that the omission was clearly deliberately, the Torah creates settings in the Parsha where Moshe's name, by all rights should appear, only to exclude his name from the text on every occasion. Midras connects the omission of Moshe's name as a dramatric encounter between this great leader and his Creator, which is recorded in the next Parsha, Parsha Ki Tissa.

It was at the aftermath of the sin with the golden calf, that Moshe turns to the Jewish people and says " You have commited a grievous sin, and now I will ascend to the Lord and perhaps I can atone for your sin". When Moshe ascent to Har Sinai, where he confronts HaShem and declares that the Jewish people have commited a grievous sin, as they created a God of Gold for themselves, and ask " And now, if You will forgive their sin, and if not, erase me from Your book what You have written ". HaShem response " Whoever has sinned against me, I shall erase from My book ".

To what book does Moshe refers? Talmud maintains that Moshe refers to the Book of Judgement, which is open on Rosh Hashanah, when HaShem dertermines the fate of his creations.

Moshe had a decreed on his own fate and HaShem cannot ignore this decree. Putting aside the difficulty raised by the fact that Parsha Tetzaveh recorded this dialogue in Parsha Ki Tissa, when we can have a closer look at the dramatic encounter.

On Shabbos, before Purim were we celebrate the defeat of Haman who plot to kill the Jewish people, and in this week Torah reading is about Zochar which means " Remember ", and we are commanded to remember the evil of Amalek and to  wipe it off the face of the earth.

When HaShem performed the miracle in saving the Jewish people out Mitzrayim, to split open the sea, there was no other nation dare to attack them. Only Amalek, driven by so much hatred which defied all logic, and came to fight the Jewish people.

Tanya explaines, that throughout Jewish history, thousands of Jews sacrificed their lives, rather than abandon their faith and their relationship with HaShem. This included also Jews who had very little knowledge and appreciation for their Jewishness. But at the moment of truth, when they perceived their very identity as a Jew was at stake, their inner faith that knows no bounds come to light, and would overpower everything else.

As Amalek is irrrational and not to reason with, the answer to Amalek is supra- rational. The Jewish response to Amalek is to " Remember " , to call forth his soul's reserves of supra- rational faith.

A faith which may lie buried and forgotten under the masses of the mundane.

A Faith when " Remembered" can meet any moral challenge, whether it is rational or not!


Parsha Terumah

In this weeks Parsha HaShem tells the Yidden to donate gold and silver in order to built the Mishkan, a dwelling place for the presence of Him.

" Make for me a sanctuary and I well dwell within them"

Reading this especially towards the end seems grammatically incorrect, shouldn't it been " I will dwell within it "? It seems this way, but no mistake has been made, it was HaShem's intention. The whole contruction of the sanctuary was to make sure that HaShem presence would dwell among the Jewish people, not just in the Tabernacle.

It was until now that HaShem had provided for all of their needs, but the Yidden complained and were not grateful. Sometimes we do take things for granted as we are getting used to when all our needs are provided for. It was the first time after the great miracle HaShem performed when He saved the Jewish people of the hands of the Egyptians and Pharaoh out of Mitzrayim, when HaShem ask them to participate in building the Mishkan donating the materials as a start in transformation from takers to givers. HaShem ask the Yidden to become actief in their relationship with Him.

When we create something we take great pride in that and with commanding the Jewish people to build the Mishkan, HaShem gave them something they lacked, which is dignity. As they worked hard and tirelessly, with joy for a cause they believe in and this gave them the confidence in their capability and with this HaShem empowered them to develop their inherent potential.

When the Ark of the Covenant was given to Moshe at Har Sinai it was holy, the Ark which was of gold on the inside and outside  expresses our inner value in a outward manner, which correspond with our beliefs. Just like the Ark and its contents, our Neshama and our body is G-d given and it is our responsibility to look after it and sanctify it.

We can see a dwelling place  for HaShem in ourselves when we connect body and soul together which increases true harmony, and resembles the gold of the Ark on the inside and outside to be genuine and authentic.

What is it to be a Jew, to feel like a Jew? The Mishkan was built with the exact specification given by HaShem, and every detail was important, as it when we start baking from a recipe, leave one ingredient out and there something missing which you will notice straight away. What this means is that we can be spiritual in our own way. But is this not like buying a present you like, regardless the taste of the person you bought it for? When we simply ignore the taste of the other, what would the meaning be of gift? Giving something to someone else is serving the other and not yourself. This is similar to our love for HaShem, this love should be real and genuine, through observing the Mitzvot we show our love for HaShem, in our actions it should reflect that we are Jewish and live like Jews and not only feel like a Jew. In following directions been given, we can just go our own way or do it the way we like, or what feels comfortable.There are rules in eveything we do, otherwise it would all go wrong and this is with observing the Torah,and the Mitzvot than we are authentic and genuine Jews in every way and in our hearts.

The essence of our being is our G-d given Neshama, to function we've been given the Mitzvot and in observing the Mitzvot our Neshama thrives and it makes our relationship with HaShem strong.

Eventhough the Mishkan doesn't exist any longer, we can still get insight from understanding the details, by trying to lead a more sancify life according to the Torah and HaShem's plan. To be a dwelling place for the presence of HaShem, we have to make sure that we are the same on the inside as we are on the outside. Tznius teaches us to mind our speeche and our behavior in all of our actions.



Parsha Mishpatim

This Parsha who fallows Yitro is about the detailed Laws and a Majestic Vision.

As the Jewish people stood still, almost rooted at the foot of Har Sinai, HaShem abruptly transitions from the dramatically event to the detalis against the backdrop of Revelations, He transmits to the nation a litany of edicts, this is primary interpersonal in nature, but which will form the foundation of their newfound resposibilities. Included in this wide- ranging Parsha, are Laws concerning the threatment of indentured servants, murder, manslaughter, theft, personal injury, damage caused by ones property, sensitivity to the poor and the vulnerable, Judicial integrity, Shabbat, Shmita, Holidays and personal obligations.

Towards the end of the Parsha, the Torah returns back to the scene at Har Sinai as it outlines a serie of actions taken by Moshe to concretize the Covenant between HaShem and the Nation. At HaShem's command, Moshe then ascends together up the mountain with Aharon, and Aharon's sons, with seventy elders from among the people. There they witness a Majestic vision of HaShem.

Parshat Mishpatim opens with the Laws concerning eved Ivri and ama Ivria, this is a male and female Hebrew servant. Therevis also an eved Cana'ani, which is a non- Hebrew slave.

When talking about slavery, how can the Torah condone slavery of any kind? Were the Jewish people redeemd from Egyptian slavery only to become masters of slaves themselves? However the Torah emphasizes that slavery/ Exodus experience is meant to create a nation sensitive to vulnerablitity and pain of others. But how can a Jew, possibly become an enslaver himself?

The Torah abruptly transitions from the powerful drama of Revelations to the concrete substance of Halacha very detailed, practical edicts are presented one after another. As the Jewish people begin to learn the nature and the extent of their new obligations, it is all chosen with great care and with  broad possibilities available. But why does HaShem specially display the issue of slavery at this critical moment ?

Would it not be much more comfortable had HaShem prohibited slavery entirely? But as we can read this is not the case!  With the information we have, we can make a attempt to correlate the Torah's approach towards slavery, and with a general attitude towards human rights.

The Torah talks about eved Ivri,  this is a slave, at least in the classical sense of the word. Eved Ivri is not owned by his master,  he could be a destitude and cannot support himself and his family, or he could be found guilty of a crime. An eved Ivri is sold by the court in servitude only for a period of six years, if it happens to be Yofel year and falls at any point in the servitude  period, the servant should be freed immidiate. There is a possibility for a eved Ivri to remain after the period of six years, but then he must undergo a not so pleasant ritual, which his ear will be pierced at the doorpost of his master, after this he is allowed to stay in services until the advent of the Yofel year.

There are strict regulations concerning threament of an eved Ivri, his master is not allowed to let him perform backbreaking work, nor physically disciplined, he and his family must receive care to such extent that Rabbi's proclaim in the Talmud. The courts who sold a eved Ivri may be designate a Canaanite for an eved. The progeny if there is a union are to be considered Canaanite slaves in their employment.

All the above Laws apply to males, a female becomes an ama Ivria when she is underage and sold into indentured servitude by the father, who is unable to provide for her. When she reach the age maturity  during the tenure as a servant, either the master, or his son can marry her, out of free will, or grant her immediate freedom. The eved Ivri and ama Ivria were suspended simultaneously with the suspension of the observance of the Yofel year, this at the onset of the exile of the Ten Tribes of Israel around 730 BCE.

The most striking part of all is the plight of ama Ivria, which the Torah addresses the most bleak future confronting a minor daughter of im poverised parents. This child through an accident of birth, faces a lifetime of overwhelming poverty and hard labor with no real possibility of reprieve.

Once again, Jewish Law steps in and dramatically alters reality. Such a childs labor, the Halacha states , can be sold to the head of a houshold of greater means. While being employed in that family, the child will be cared for and treated with respect, due to all indentured servants.

The Parsha returns back to Har Sinai, towards its close to the scene of spiritual Revelation at Sinai. HaShem comands Moshe to ascend the mountain, accompanied by Aharon and his two oldest sons, Nadav and Avihu, together with the seventy elders. Prior to ascending the mountain, Moshe informs the Jewish people of HaShem's instructions and Laws, and receives their assent, writes down HaShem's word, builds an Alter and the Twelve Pillars, which represents the twelve tribes, at the foot of Har Sinai, and instructs the youths from among the nation to offer scrifices, read the book of the Covenant to the nation, with the dramatic response  " Everything that HaShem has spoken we will do and we will hear " This symbolically seals the Covenant between HaShem and the Jewish people.

Ein mukdam u'me' uchar ba'Torah, there is an event recorded towards the end of the Parsha Mishpatim and actually occurs just before the Revelations, and accourding to Rashi the dates narrative as beginning on the fourth day of Sivan, were Moshe

1. Instructs the people the concerning of the Hagabala

2. The seven Noahide Laws and all other already revealed edicts.

3. Records those edicts and the entire Torah narrative from Bereishit until Revelations in the Book of the Covenant.

On the fifth day of Sivan, Moshe

1. Erects on the Altar and the Twelve Pillars at the foot of Har Sinai.

2. Instruct the youths to offer sacrifices.

3. Reads the Book of the Covenant to the nation, eliciting the dramatic response " Everything HaShem has spoken we will do and we will hear "

4. Symbolically seals the Covenant between HaShem and the people.

5. Ascends up Har Sinai, together with Aharon's sons and the seventy elders, where they experience a Majestic vision of HaShem.

Once these acts are performed, Revelations finally begins on the sixth day of Sivan. According to Rashi, the narrative towards the end of the Parsha Mishpatim, when combine this with earlier text, cronicles and series of essential steps prior to Matan Torah.

Through a careful planned amalgam of education, ritual and Majestic Vision, HaShem prepares His people for their moment closest contact to the divine. 

Rambam perceives an even deeper spiritual failing on the part of Aharon's sons and the elders. In  contrast  to Moshe who initially hides his face when confronted with HaShem's presence, Aharon's sons and the elders were totally unprepared and as a result to the divine, as  the Torah states, " They saw G-d of Israel and under His feet was the likeness of sapphine brickwork " This flawed partly physical vision leads them further to the inappropriate physical response through food and drink.

Moshe is the greatest of prophets, especially through his encounter with HaShem, do not suspension of his physical faculties. While other Nevi'im experience the divine through dreams and visions, Moshe " Sees HaShem face to face" , awake, in full possession of his senses.

Which if the vastly different  approach to the event recorded, towards the end of the Parshat Mishpatim is true?

The Halachic  Eilu v'eilu divrei Elokim chaim " These and these are the words of the living G-d"  and one day, HaShem will reveal to us exactly what really happend on this monumental days, as the Jewish nation stood at the foot of Har Sinai, until then we are meant to draw lessons from all possibilities.




 Parshat Shekalim

Parsha Yitro

When HaShem revealed His commandments, a Nation was born.

When Yitro, Moshe's father in-law heard about the exodus from Mitzrayim, he gathers his daughter Tzippora and his grandsons Gershon and Eliezer and meet with the Jewish people at mount Sinai. When they arrive Moshe is happy to see his father in-law and greets him warmly, they talk and have a celebratory meal. When Yitro sees how overwelming burdens are of the leadership which  Moshe have been entrusted with, he then encourage Moshe to delegate his responsibilities to others, as it is no good for Moshe to carry this on his own. When Moshe agrees  with Yitro he returns home to Midian.

It was on the first day of the third month after the exodus, that the Jewish people arrived at Sinai and camped on the foot of the mountain. As Moshe goes up the mountain were HaShem speaks to him, concerning the Jews to be HaShem chosen people, he descend the mountain to share HaShem's message with the Nation and says " All that HaShem has spoken, we will do "

HaShem gives Moshe instructions to make preparatory to Revelations, including the commandment of Hagbala, this to set a boundary around the mountain, preventing the Jewish people from ascending during the onset of  Revelations.

With thunder and lightning, the sound of the Shofar, the Revelation at Har Sinai begins as HaShem conveyer the Ten Declarations to the Jewish people.

The Jews were frightend by the powerful scene that was unfolding before their eyes, they began to retreat and then asks Moshe to serve as HaShem's representative in giving of the law. Moshe reassures them that HaShem only means to inspire them an appropriate sense of awe.

Moshe's father in-law heared of the succesful exodus from Mitzrayim, but what he didn't hear until he spoke with Moshe. What was the mystery of Moshe's father in-law? Did he return back to Midian after the first visit? Was Yitro there before Matan Torah, or did he come back for a second visit?

After Yitro was reunited with his Moshe, and had this celebratory meal and accepted his father in-law suggestion, accourding to the Torah " Moshe released his father in-law and returns to Midian " Yitro departs before Matan Torah even begins. Chapters later in the Torah text, Yitro suddendly reappears in the camp of the Jewish people. In Parshat Beha'alotcha after the Revelation, when the journey of the Jewish Nation away from mount Sinai begins, the Torah records the following conversation between Moshe and Yitro 

Were Moshe says:  We are taken an journey to the place in which HaShem has said " I will give it to you" Go with us and we will threat you well, for HaShem has spoken of good for Israel.

Yitro: " I will not go, for only to my land and go to my birthplace shall I go "

Moshe: " Please do not leave us, for you know our encampments in the wilderness and you shall be as eyes for us, and I shall be if you come with us, and the good G-d will bestow upon us, we will bestow upon you "

Here is where the conversation ends and Yitro doesn't appear again in the Torah text.

Did Yitro end his first visit by returning to Midian before the Revelation? But if so, why does the Torah records his presence in a Chapter later as the Jewish people were preparing to depart from Sinai? If Yitro ever left in the first place, why does the Torah state "And Moshe released his father in- Law and returned to his land?

The Torah records no conclusion, so why bother to record the visit(s) if Yitro was at the camp all the time as the book ends the Revelations, such a major event in Jewish history. 

Of what importance was Yitro's decision and if Yitro's fate is so important, why is the text not clear concerning his final decision?

Why did Yitro made the journey to the camp in the first place? There are suggestions of two possibilities which we can find in the Talmud

 " And Yitro, the priest of Midian, the father in-Law of Moshe heard all that HaShem had done for Moshe and the Jewish people, His Nation.

But what did Yitro hear? 

He heard about the exodus and the news of the battle with Amalek, did he also heared about the news of the Revelations? What could have been his motive and timing of his visit to the camp?  The Torah records Yitro's appearancs as occuring before Matan Torah, he does not actually arrives until after the Revelations is complete. The Torah does follow cronological order in its descriptions of events. If Yitro arrives only after the Revelations, why does the Torah cronicle his visit in detail before the Matan Torah even begins?

The Torah create a distinction between Yitro's visit and the attack of the Nation of Amalek.

All we really know for sure is what Yitro heard and that he gathered his daughterTzippora who had to devorce Moshe before descending to Mitzrayim, nou that Moshe was back they could get re-married. Moshe, however told his father in-law all HaShem had done to the Pharaoh and the Egyptians, on account of the Jewish people, about their hardship during the journey and that HaShem had saved them.

This made Yitro joyfully happy and  Moshe wasn't telling him anything he didn't know, but Yitro was very exited and so inspired that he wanted to join the Jewish people. Yitro despartely wanting to return to Midian to convert all his people, including himself. The Torah didn't recorded if Yitro did convert to be one with the Jewish Nation.

In itself, the salvation of the Jewish people is a miracle, G-dly firework, an inspiration to all.

Yitro says : " Blessed is HaShem, who saved you, and now I know that HaShem is greater than all gods"  

And Yitro took an olah and Zevachim to HaShem, Aharon came with the Elders and they  were having a celebratory meal. Maybe the joy Yitro felt didn't came of hearing of the salvation only, but maybe more in finding the truth, which simply centered on HaShem himself.

It could be as well that HaShem brought Yitro joy, just by allowing him a glimpse of what He is to the world. Yitro beliefs in just One G-d, HaShem Echad and this One  G-d  saved the Jewish people in a miracously way, and made them His Nation. Yitro's recognition of HaShem is bound vayichad Yitro ( Yitro rejoiced)
















Shabbos Shirah - Parsha Beshalach

Shabbat Shirah the name given to this Shabbos that includes Parsha Beshalach which means " The song at the sea " was the song the Jewis people sung upon their liberation from the Mitzrayim, when the Red sea split open and allow them to cross, but drowned the Egyptians. This is why this Shabbos 12 & 13 Shevat 5783 is designated as Shabbos Shirah, the Shabbat of Songs.

How hard life was on daily basis for the Jewish slaves, resulted from labour into horror steadily overnight. While physical labour was already backbreaking, the families were no longer to live together, as wives were separated from their husbands and were forced to work in fields far away from their homes. The Jewish people were so depressed and gradually the hopes for better days faded. The enslavement, made their heart and minds go mumb, and they were tired, but there was this group, who still had not last their optimism, that spark that encouring their families and other to continue to hope for better days, with trust together with prayer would be answered one day and that gave them strength.

The Jewish women were that group. Even after a long day of hard labour, they would clean and scrub the house  and made themselves beautiful for their husbands. They also took care of their husbands when wounded, bring them a hot meal, hot water to have a bath and this all happend in secret. The women also encourage their husbands not to lose hope as they would not be a slave forever, as they had HaShem's promis and they had trust and faith that He will have mercy and redeem them.

But how did these women do all this, in what it seems a hopeless situation?

The women had a leader, and her name was Miriam, she was the teacher of the women and they lead by her example. Miriam was born during a tremendous harsh periode of enslavement, while growing up she felt the pain and dispair of her people. Her earlier years were formed in this horrible reality of the Jewish exile. 

Having to witness murder and other kind of cruelty, she often cried with them, and there was no one who understood the tormenting life of the exile better than Miriam. How difficult times were, the oppression, the slave mentality, Miriam did rebel against it, she felt the pain, but brave enough she watched over their faith in the promis of Redemption.

The midwives who defy Pharaoh, (here is were we meet Miriam) he spoke to the Hebrew midwives, her name was Shifrah and the name of the other one was Puah. The Pharaoh said " When you act as a midwwife to the Hebrew women and you see them on the birthing stool, if it is a son you shall kill him, but when it is a daughter she shall live " but as the midwives feared HaShem, and did not as the Pharaoh commanded them. Yocheved, which is Miriam's mother was called Shifrah, because she was a expert in beautifying ( root of Shafar) and cleansing the new borm. The Pharaoh was furious with Miriam over a statement she made and wanted to have her killed, but Yocheved pleaded that Miriam was only a child, who didn't realize to whom she was speaking, as she was only five years old at the time, but despite her age Miriam stood up to the most powerful ruler of that time!

It was Miriam, when years later who watched over Moshe as she stood by the river, to see how her prophecy would unfold. She too felt heartbroken of her baby brother being torn away from her family, but at the same time she felt the spirit of rebellion deep inside her, and she would not give in to surrender to hopelessness.

Many decades later on the shores of the Red Sea, after hundreds years of exile, the Jewish ordeal in Mitzrayim was over, their enslavement had come to a end, and they were finally on their way to redemption. 

Standing at the shores of the Red Sea the Jewish peoples under leadership of Moshe began to sing, a song expressing so much love and gratitude to HaShem, and when Moshe and the Jews finised their song, something baffling happend. Miriam the prophetess took the tambourine, and all of the women took their tambourine's and went after her, and Miriam called to them,

" Sing to the Lord for very exalted is He, a horse and its rider He cast into the sea "

Moshe and the men sung their song, and then Miriam and the women to sing their song. With the tambourine and dancing, the women's hearts were full of joy and happiness.

After these hundreds of years of exile, after witnessing the most barbarism, after so many tears for their babies being torn from their arms and killed, after seeing their children being cemented into the walls, alive, to fill the missing quotas. 

What did these women prepare while stil being enslaved? 

What kept them going? What was on their minds after seeing so much horror, far beyond human breaking point?

What did these women, who were so fearful, worn and tormented phycially and mentally, still manage to carry themselves out of Mitzrayim. Despite all the horrors, the women didn't lose hope, while still mourning their children they found strength, to sing and to praise HaShem, for this miracle they knew it would come!

It was the inextinguishable flame, that spark, faith and trust. This made their lives as bitter, as it became their faith in HaShem that grew stronger.

As hard or even unbearable at times, as our own lives seems to be in our exile, we too must find the strength, faith and trust. Just like back then in Mitzrayim, our trust and prayers to HaShem shall lead us to our ultimate redemption, with the coming of the Moshiach, who will lead us out of exile.




Parsha Bo

Slavery ends, and new beginnings, when the last plague comes down on Mitzrayim, as the Pharaoh yet again refuses to allow the Jewish people to go. But as the final plague approaches, HaShem informs Moshe of the Exodus that is about to happen, and tells him to have the Jewish people  preparing their departure, to gather all the wealth from their Eyptian neighbours. HaShem then commands Moshe to set in motion the transmission of Jewish Law with the first Mitzvah of Kiddush HaChodesh, and to instruct the Jews the concerning of the Pesach offerings and the Pesach celebration.

Moshe brings the Jewish people the instruction HaShem given to them, to start preparing the rituals around the Pesach offerings. It was at midnight on the 15th of Nisan, and as the Jewish people sit in their homes and eating the Paschal Lamb, and at that same moment HaShem strikes Mitzrayim with the final last blow, the 10th plague of the plagues of the firstborn and finally the Pharaoh gave in by this adversity, the Pharaoh orders Moshe and Aharon to lead the Jewish people out of Mitzrayim and as they made their preparations to leave, the Jews fulfilled HaShem's request by turning to their neighbours, who willingly give them all their silver, gold and garments. At midday on the 15th of Nisan the end of centuries of slavery are finally coming to an end for the Jewish people, and they begin their journey in the events of surrounding the departure,the dough didn't have time to rise.

In this parsha HaShem transmits additional Laws concerning the Pesach offerings, the redemption of the firstborn son, put on Tefillin as a reminder of the Exodus and a sign of commitment to HaShem and the Pesach celebration.

HaShem's instruction to Moshe at this very powerful moment in time, are somehow deeply troubling. Wouldn't we not expect the birth of the Jewish nation to be indicated by more lofty principles and ideas?Why, then does HaShem specifically ask the Jews to mark the first steps of their national history with gathering of material wealth? Is this really what the Jewish slaves should be thinking of when they prepare for freedom?

The creation of people for whom spiritual search and the religious ideal, would that not be more important than material wealth? To make the problem worse, is the fact that the theme of wealth is apparently the foundation woven into the Exodus story.

Centuries earlier, during the first reference to exile in Mitzrayim, HaShem did promises Avraham that the exile will end and that his descendents will leave with great wealth. At the burning bush, during a conversation with Moshe, HaShem again predict that "each women will ask of her neighbour and the one that lives in her house, vessels of silver, gold and garments, and you shall put them on your sons and daughters, and you shall despoil Mitzrayim".

With the final plagues represent the fulfillment of the prophetic theme which is the fundamental theme for the Exodus. But asking again, Why is the gathering of wealth so critical to the Exodus and the birth of the Jewish Nation? When HaShem speaks to Moshe at the burning bush, and mention assets that will be directly transfered by the neighbours, and in return they will receive the silver, gold and garments.

It was a exchange for the possessions, as they had to leave their homes and many of their belongings behind, as HaShem told Avraham that his descendents would leave with great wealth and HaShem Himself could not physically give them wealth. This  had everything to do with their freedom, as most possessions they couldn't take with them.

As the Exodus approaches, a event takes place, HaShem begins with the transmission of the Mitzvot, (the divine commandments) to the Jewish people with instruction of Kiddush HaChodesh, this is the sanctification of the New Moon " This month shall be for you, the beginning of the month's of the year, the beginning of each month, the month of Nisan is to be the first month of the year.

Why did HaShem start the transmission of Mitzvot with Kiddush HaChodesh? Would it not been more meaningful to start with the commandment, as the observance of Shabbos, or even the Kashrut, or maybe Love your fellow Jew? The wisdom and the beauty of HaShem's descision lies just beneath the surface, waiting to be analyzed and to be studied. We will see that no other Mitzvah could have been more suitable choice of launching Jewish Law than with the Mitzvah of Kiddush HaChodesh.

The first Mitzvah given to the Jewish people rest upon the foundation of the relationship with HaShem. Kiddush HaChodesh is not just to sanctify the New Moon, this because the New Moon connects to direct cycle of every month, and determining the Holiday Calender. HaShem continues to direct the cycle of the moon in the heavens, through the Mitzvah of Kiddush HaChodesh, He then hands over the application of that cycle to men, from the very moment of the birth of our Nation, the control and determination of Jewish time.

This month shall be for you means " The determination of the New Moon given to you " Moshe was unable to understand the point in the moon cycle, at which sanctification should take place, HaShem turned to Moshe's attention to heaven and at the right time He says

"When the moon reaches this phase, see it and sanctify it " This day is sanctified by Beit Din as " Rosh Chodesh" but if so, when is it Rosh Hashanah? HaShem respons to this  " why are you asking Me"  if the earthly courts declares " Today is Rosh Hashanah" then I shall bless this day, as My children have decided that Today is Rosh Hashanah!!

HaShem's message to the Jewish people " See yourselves no longer as powerless slaves, but as an infinity powerful people whose reach extends to the heavens themselves, while still in the land of your enslavement, look up to the moon which seems so far beyond your grasp"

"As we have a partnership which grants you control " the moon " , so too, through our partnership, you will be granted the ability to exert control over every aspect of your lives and your world "

" No longer will others define your destiny, even other " Egyptians" in time to come and of great difficulty and persecution, you will ultimately determine the quality of your lives "

This message barely scratches the surface of Mitzvah's depth. It was not by accident, that the first Mitzvah given to our anchestors focus on time. On the eve of their release from exile, HaShem prepares the Jewish people for their spiritual transition to freedom.

"I grant you control over time itself. Your time will now be your own, to be used as you wish, recognize the resonsibity that this newfound control brings. As free men, endeavor to use your time wisely, fulfilling your live with meaning.

The liberation of time- awareness, as basis of the hypothesis written in the Pesach Haggada, " Yachol mei' Rosh Chodesh " the Mitzvah re- telling the story of the Exodus, and should begin with Rosh Chodesh Nisan, and not at erev Pesach.

What does this means for us in our time?

The story about a Jewish optician, who lived in Germany in the 1930s, leading up to WW2, when the event was taking shape of what to come, he decided to pack up and emigrate to Israel. He had to inform his patients, so he placed a sign outside his practice.

" For all you who are nearsighted, there is a doctor just around the corner, to all you who are farsighted, follow me "

While this a moving story, it is also superficial. How can we judge, from the comfort of our homes, from the safety of our own enviroment, like the issue that confronted the Jewish community of Europe leading up to WW2 and the Holocaust. Would we, if we been there, forseen the atrocities that where to come? Are we now so certain, G-d forbid, that something like that wouldn't happen again? Would we comfortably in our homes, just pick up and leave? Fact remain, we have to be more intuitive and listen very careful to what is being said. Are we prepared, are we listening when HaShem speaks to us? Would the danger on the horizon of our exile makes a difference? There are signs appearing, lets hope we are sensitive enough to open up to them. Or have we without noticing begun to worship the society Gods around us? We should do well to keep the image of the first Seder Night before us, as we continue our journey and that we will not forget the lesson's we learned from the Exodus.










Parsha Va'eira

When the Pharaoh again refuses to let the Jewish people go, as we learn in this weeks Parsha. The tide, however, is turning, when HaShem continues to encourage Moshe and instruct him to inform the Jewish people that their journey torwards redemption is so close and all in hand, but they are unable or maybe even unwilling to listen to Moshe' s words, this due to the burden of their enslavement.

In spite of Moshe's objections that he is not the person, not capable, HaShem then commands Moshe to return to the Pharaoh and demand the release of the Jewish slaves. Unfortunately Moshe's audience with the Pharaoh fails, when Moshe is standing in frustration before HaShem, complaning that his return to Mitzrayim  has only increased the suffering of the Jewish people. Hashem's respons he gave Moshe the assurance that the Exodus is about to unfold.

Hashem proclaims: " I am Adonai. And I appeared to Avraham, to Yitzchak, and to Yaakov as E-L shad- dai, but through My Name Adonai I did not make Myself known to them. And also I establised My covenant with them to give them the Land of Canaan, the land of their temporary residence, in which they had to stay!" 

Hashem then informs Moshe that He has heard the cries of His people and that He remembered His covenant. He instructs Moshe to tell the Jewish people that they soon will be redeemed.

Why did HaShem suddenly digress, in the mids of His reassurance to Moshe to discuss the quality of divine revelations to the Patriarchs? And why would this revelation be of any significance to Moshe at this critical moment in time?

The name Adonai was not known to the Patriarchs, but the divine aspect which the name represents was not yet realized in their time. With the birth of the Jewish Nation, its changes and E-L shad-dai became A- do- nai. The name E-L shad- dai refers to HaShem's role as " Promis Maker" while the name A-do-nai refers to HaShem in his role as " Promis Keeper" ( Midrash)

HaShem's message to Moshe at this critical moment is far from benign.

" Woe concerning those who are lost are no longer to be found!" 

Where is your faith Moshe? You perform poorly when compared to the patriarchs. How many promises did I make to them which remained unfulfilled? I commanded Avraham to walk the length and breath of the Land of Canaan, for it eventually would be his, but upon Sara's death, however, he was forced to buy a plot of land for her burial. I  instructed Yitzchak to dwell in the Land that would be his and his children's, yet he was forced to strive with those around him for water. I pledged to Yaakov that the Land upon which he lay would be given to him and his children, yet, he too, did not own the Land until he purchased a section from the sons of Chamos the king of Shechem.

But in spite of all these disapointments the Patriarch's never questioned My ways, or asked Me My name, you on the other hand, immediately asked Me My name, at the burning bush, and now with the first setback you experience, you doubt your mission? Your faith in comparison to the faith of those who came before you.

HaShem ten commands Moshe again to return to the Pharaoh and again demand the release of the Jewish slaves,and when Moshe objects, citing his speeche impediment, HaShem repeats His command and this time to both Moshe and Aharon.

When the pharaoh again refuses to let the Jewish people go, the punishment of the plaques was the first necessary step and HaShem inflicks the ten plaques upon the Egytians, one after another, the plaques of blood,Frogs,lice,wilde animals,pestilence,boil and hail rain,locusts, Darkness and the death of the fist- born upon Egypt.

1. The waters of the river Nile turns to blood, Moshe walks over to the brink of the river with Aharon, and raises his staff and stuck the water, the river turned to blood, and the fish died as blood flowed over the entire land, it was also impossible to drink from the water, it was very unfortuned for the Egyptians because it wasn't only the Nile, all waters in the entire country turned to blood.

2.The frogs, after warning for a second plaque, the Pharaoh still refuses to let the Jewish people go,  Moshe yet again puts his staff into water and a swarn of frogs covered every inch of the land, inside the houses, everywhere the Egyptians turned there where frogs.At this point the Pharaoh begins to take this serious and is afraid and asked Moshe and Aharon to pray to remove the frogs, and he promised he would let the Jewish people go. But as soon as the frogs where gone, the Pharaoh broke his promis.

3 Then HaShem ordered Aharon to strike the dust of the earth with his staff, and soon the whole of land, people and animals where infested with lice, it was a terrible plaque and everyone was suffering, the Pharaoh knew this was HaShem's punishment, but instead of letting the Jewish people go, he hardend his heart and remaines relentless not to let them go.

4.The fourth plaque was the wilde beasts,they were all over the country destroying eveything on their path, the part of the country that seems to be immune to the plaques was Goshen, where the Jewish people stayed. Again the Pharaoh promised faithfully this time to let them go, but as soon as Moshe prayed to HaShem and the wilde beasts disappeared, the Pharaoh withdrew his promis.

5. Pestilence was send by HaShem, which killed most of the animals, all the horses, which was the pride of Egypt, the cattle on the land died and yet the animals of the Jewish people alive and unharmd, this only hardened the heart of the Pharaoh even more en would not let them go.

6. When Moshes anounced the sixth plaque, which would be a very painful one and  would struck the people of Mitzrayim, the Pharaoh still refused. Hashem command Moshe to take soot of the furnaces and to sprinkle into the air towards heaven, and boils infected everyone throughout the Land.

7. Moshe anounced to the Pharaoh the hail storms would be so severe, that nobody would be able to escape this and weren't able to hide from it. Soms believed when they brought themsleves and their cattle into safety, they would stayed unharmed. But many believed that that nothing of that would happen en recklessly left the cattle with their servants in the field. When Moshe streches his staff forth in the air, hail poured down  violently and thunder and lightning struck the ground, the hail rain was so destuctive that whoever was exposed to the raging hail would die off it. Wind shattered the land, the only untouched piece to land was Goshen. The Pharaoh yet again declared his sinns to Moshe, your G-d is the righteous One, and I and my people the quilty ones. Please let this be enough.

Moshe replied: When we leave, I will spread my hand to G-d, and the thunder will ease, there will be no more hail rain, let it be known to you that this land is HaShem's land! The storm eased, but the heart of the Pharaoh remain hardened.

8. The next time Moshe and  Aharon appeared before the Pharaoh and ask who was to participate to worship HaShem in the desert, the Pharaoh said only the men should, women and children and all their possesions and animals should remain in Egypt. Moshe and Aharon told the Pharaoh that this was not acceptable. The Pharaoh told them to leave the palace, when Moshe warned him of more suffering, the Pharaoh remain adamant. As soon as Moshe was outside he raised his arms towards heaven and a swarn of locusts was brought into Egypt, covered everything  including the sun, everything saw green, there was no escape, it ruined Mitzrayim completely, again Pharaoh sent for Moshe and Aharon, and ask them to please pray to their G-d to stop the plaque. And Moshe complied again, after HaShem blew a strong wind over Egypt and all of the locusts into the sea, Pharaoh yet again refuses to liberate the Jewish people as promised to Moshe.

9.The next plague is darkness, their wasn't a glimpse of light, the Egyptians were grippeling with fear, they didn't move and remain where they where. Only in Goshen were HaShem's children where, was light, but unfortunately not all Jewish people were saved from the plague,  the ones who regarded themselves as Egyptians and didn't want to leave Mitzrayim and rather not be Hebrews anymore and these people died during the days of darkness. The Pharaoh try to bargain with Moshe and Aharon to take their people and leaving everything else behind, the herd and flock behind. Moshe and Aharon didn't accept this and informed the Pharaoh that complete freedom for their people meant is to let go men, women and children, and everything else that belonged to them. Unfortunately this made the Pharaoh angry and ordered them to leave and never to come back, he warned them when come back they would die. Moshe replied that this would not be necessary for them to see the Pharaoh, as HaShem would send one more plaque over Mitzrayim, this was after the Pharaoh would give this permission for the Jewish people to finally leave Egypt. Moshe continues exactly at midnight all first born, man and animal will die, of all of the Jewish people, no one would die. The Pharaoh would come to Moshe and Aharon and begged them to leave Egypt without any delay. And with these words they left the Pharaoh behind in rage.

10. Death of the first- born, midnight came and all first - born to the Pharaoh, and down to the first- born in the dungeon, and all the first- born of the cattle died, exactly as Moshe warned the Pharaoh, there was cries of devestation in almost every house were they lost a loved one. The Pharaoh called for Moshe and Aharon during the night and told them: leave, this land now and take the children of your G-d and serve your G-d, and as you said, with all of their belonings. 

Meanin while the Jewish people had made preparations to leave, the lamb was roated and has been eaten before midnight and the unleaven bread been taken out of the ovens, when the preparations where done, there was one last thing, and this was not without any danger, but they didn't forget the pledge given by their ancestors to take the remains of Yosef out of Egypt,

The whole Nation of the children of Israel, started finally on their journey to the promised land.





Parsha Shemot

After the death of Yosef's generation, the Pharaoh issued a persecution against the Jewish people, and ordered to enslave Hebrew midwives to kill all male babies at birth. When a baby boy was born to Yocheved, a daughter of the tribe of Levi, and her husband Amram, they hidden the baby in a basket and released on the surface of Nile river, while the baby's sister Miriam watched from a distance. When the baby was discovered by the daughter of the Pharaoh, she knew it was a Hebrew boy, but decided to raise him as her son and, she named him Moshe.

After years living in the palace of Pharaoh, Moshe one day witness the enslavement of the Jews and, when he observes a Epyptian beating a Jewish slave, he then stands up in defence of this man and kills the Egyptian and hides his body in the sand. The next day when he sees two Jews fighting and lecture them, they ask if Moshe is going to do the same thing to them as what they Witness the previous day. Moshe afraid of Pharaoh's retribution, flees to the land of Midan, where he meet and marries Tzippora, the daughter of Yitro, a Midanite priest, Moshe is serving as a shepherd for his father in-laws herd.One day, as Moshe is performing his duties, he is drawn to a sight of a bush, which is burning but not by fire, when Moshe went over to examine the bush, HaShem speaks to him from the burning bush and, charge him with the task of returning to Mitzrayim and leading the Jewish people to freedom. Overrruling all Moshe's objections concerning of his worthiness of leadership, HaShem then appoints Moshe's older brother Aharon to accompany Moshe as his partner and spokesman.

Moshe begins his journey to Mitzrayim, accompanied by his wife and two sons, Gershon and Eliezer. On the way when G-D threatens Moshe with his death, Tzippora performs a  circumcision on their younger son, Eliezer, and the danger passes. When Moshe arrives in Mitzrayim, and together with Aharon he gathers all the Jewish people, and informs them of the pending redemption.

When Aharon appearse before Pharaoh, and as G-d had instructed at the burning bush, he ask the Pharaoh to allow the Jews to leave Mitzrayim for a three- day period to worship their G-d, Pharaoh refuses and increases the burden of labor unpon the Jews. Moshe then turns to HaShem in frustration and guestions his own mission to Mitzrayim HaShem respons that Moshe soon will see the Exodus begins to unfold.

The Killing

And the Pharaoh said to the Hebrew midwives " When you deliver the Hebrew women, you shall see on the birth stool, if it is a son you are to kill him, and if it is a daughter, she is to live " 

But the Midwives feared HaShem, and did not as Pharaoh spoke to them! And the Pharaoh commanded his entire people, saying : " Every son that is born- into the river you shall throw them! And every daughter- you shall keep alive! The Pharaoh did not say " Every Hebrew son that is born- into the river you shall throw him! He says, " Every Son that is born " the hatred of the Jews is so great, that the Pharaoh is even willing to sacrifice their own children to the cause.

Only after the physical and psychological subjugation of the Jewish people has reached a critical point and Pharaoh embarks on his plan, the physical destruction of his fledgling nation. Murderes, however, and particular when carried out in a public area, must be perpetrated slowly and cautiously. Pharaoh therefore, opens the final devastation of his design against the Jews, in a manner that not only attacks the weakest among them, but can carried out secretly. He command the Hebrew midwives to kill all Jewish baby boys, in a way that even the birthing mother themselves remain unaware.

Pharaoh's actions, have even a deeper and more devious motivations, to protect himself he wants extermination of the Jews, to begin in territory that carries a degree of moral uncertainty.

The Talmud states that Pharaoh conveyed to the midwives a method of determining the gender of the Hebrew children before birth. As explaines, the Pharaoh deliberately commanding abortion rather than infancide.

" We are not killing the Hebrew male's, we are only preventing their birth "

What can we learn from the righteous midwives, they feared HaShem, they did not feared the Pharaoh!

Later in Parshat Shemot, after the Pharaoh has increased the burden upon the Jewish slaves in respons to Moshe inital demands for freedom, the Jews turn on Moshe  and say: 

"May G-d look upon you and judge, for you have made our very scent ahhorrent in the eyes of the Pharaoh and in the eyes of the servants, to place a sword in their hands to kill us."

Very astonishing, as the Pharaoh has subjugated the Jews,tormented them physically and psychologically, killed their children and, yet they now turn on Moshe, in effect, protest because of you, Pharaoh  and his servants won't kill us!

This uncanny ability of the Torah text to speak across centuries is nowhere more clearly, nor more frighteningly evident than the description of the enslavement of the Jewish people at the hands of the Egyptians. Here openly rooted at the dawn of our history, are the very methods used against us.

From cold calculating Nazi murders, to Zealous Islamic fundamentalist, willing to kill their own children in persuit of the destruction of Israel, now all of the western culture, in adversaries, deception and the teachings of hatred ramain the preliminary tools of the killing trade as, over and over again, words inexorably lead to deeds!!


" Peace will come, when the Arabs will Love their Children more than they Hate us "  ~ Golda Meir

Parsha Vayechi

The Fire of Geulah

Yaakov had a desire to tell Bnei Yisroel, when the time would come that made an end to Golus, and at the same time about the redemption, Yaakov felt that by telling them and knowing when it would happen, it would help getting them through Golus or maybe even possible that Yaakov felt that when they knew this, it would give them a glimps of Geulah, and this would make it a whole lot easier to challenge the difficulties of Golus.

When comparing this with the explanation of The Baal Shem Tov when the unborn baby is told the intire Torah in the womb, only to forget this straight after birth ( Niddah 30b) The Baal Shem Tov says  that it is just like when someone lights a candle and extinguishes it, then it will become easier to relight it again. This is much like the impression the child gets from the experience of learning the Torah later on.

What Yaakov wanted was to ignite the Neshama of Bnei Yisroel with the fire of Geulah,it would made life easier, while still living in Golus. But HaShem did not want this. Hashem did want Bnei Yisroel to go through Golus, without knowing what will happen or when it will end.

Therefore the fire of Geulah will not be ignited with the knowlegde of the end of Golus, but rather through Emunah and Tzipiach L'yeshuah, which means through "anticipation and salvation" and this is what we must hold on to as long as the end has not yet come.

With the conclusion of Parsha Vayechi, where Yosef has a message of redemption for bnei Yirsoel and tells them that HaShem will remember them and will take them out of the land, but not after the purpose of Golus finished and the task fulfilled.

The whole exile came about of Yosef and it is was he who could tell the Jewish people of the redemption, he was also the one to give them strengh to fulfill their purpose of Golus and to finishot  was the only way to redemption.

When we come to the final part of Parsha Vayechi, with a emotional moment when Yosef brings his two sons, one of the last times to their grandfather Yaakov, and they  received a final word of Wisdom and each of them a blessing. Yosef with both his sons  Menashe on his left and Ephraim on his right, according to the Torah the firstborn is the primary inheritor. When he blessed his two grandsons he stretches his hand and then criss crossed his hands until his right hand rest on top of his youngest grandson and his left hand on his oldest grandson, when Yosef sees this and trying to realign his hands, saying to his father, ' This is your firstborn grandson ' Yaakov looked at his son an said ' I know my son!'

Yaakov wasn't mistaken and as a prophet who visted thousands of pages of future history, he knew what he saw, his youngest grandson would be a great leader. Chassidic teachings shows us that each of them was right, Yaakov did not made a mistake, but neither did Yosef. Menashe was the right one  eventhough Yaakov objectives says Ephraim was more the desirable one. Way earlier yaakov dropped a hint ' When a Tzadik speaks, you got to listen!' To every word, every nuance, he told Yosef. Before the event with the criss crossed arms, Yaakov said:  'Ephraim and Menashe are mine ' he did mentioned Ephraim first

The next ten generations of leadership, Yaakov looked ahead all the way to redemptiom, as you read earlier redemption was Yaakov's mission, it was with him every step of way and evey move he made. He wanted to give Bnei Yisroel a message of the redemption, but HaShem didn't allow him to do this.

What can we learn from this in our exile? Menashe is a survivior, and in order to achieve growth, we need to lay a foundation to connect with our roots. But what is the ultimate achievement? The purpose of going into exile and to come away from it even on a highter level, to create more light and still in our exile to strive Yaakov's objective.With bringing the light of the Torah and the Mitzvot to the world and Only through Teshuvah with love can darkness be transformed into light.

When will we know what we truly have achieved in our exile, and is this enough for redemption?

Parsha Toldot

Toldot tells us about the two sons of Yitzchak, with both great potentials but very different in character. Yaakov was gentle and compassionate, his brother Esav was a hunter, a warrior, wilde and always seeking pleasure. Yaakov devoted himself to study the Torah, Esav on the otherhand had this great potential to become fearless, a G-dly warrior and dedicated to fight against evil, wat he also could have done, is to work on his own impulses and negative temptations, but Esav had no intention to change.

This Parsha is teaching us that each of us has unique talents and opportunities. HaShem tells us to develop our potential, to use these unique talents to transform ourselves and the world, instead of just reacting on impuls, rather than asking ourselves " What am I needed for?" This really helps us to live a life with purpose and to make a difference.

When we go through the proces of transforming ourselves, it will become second nature, which will be much more refined, this will help us to become who we are meant to be, and by doing our part in making the world a better place, and more G-dly, as HaShem asked each and everyone of us. We are here to improve the world and with the guidance of the Torah and living our life morally, we bring a lot of good and light into the world.

When we react to people or even in dificult situations with anger or blame, we have to challenge ourselves.

Parsha Lech Lecha

In Parshat Lech Lecha, the Torah choose to teach us the important lesson of " Staying on course " this is witin the context of Avraham's journey to the land of Israel, and it does influence that theme's are hardly coincidental, the message created could not be more relevant to our times.

Today's diapora Jewish community exits at a time it is possible, and yet a variety of reason's, and some are more convincing than others, in our personal journey to our homeland, this has been aborted voluntary, like Terach we have decided to remain in Charan at the time that other choices exist.

We do care about the Israeli's, we are concerned for their safety, but in our eyes the State of Israel has to a great extent,  lost its shine, the Israeli' existence no longer moves us any longer, so it seems.

This growing apathy is reflected in the mixed feelings of the " Yeshiva World " towards the State of Israel,  the declining spirit of the organized religious Zionist community in America, and in the growing support of the State of Israel conditional upon it adherence to our political positions.

Many resonse is when we demiss the importance of the State of Israel, it can't be so wrong for living in dispora, if Israel isn't a miracle, then we are not blind for ignoring it.

Finished and on finised journeys, is when HaShem appearse to Avraham and launches Jewish history with the commandment: Lech Lecha mei' artzecha, go for yourself from the land from you birthplace, and from the home of your father to the land that I will show you. Avraham responds by going on the journey to the land of Canaan, this is where the story of our nation begins.

When HaShem told Avraham " Go to the land of Canaan " how did Avraham know where to go?, could it be the land of Canaan was well known to him, as it was a land prepared for contemplation and the worship of G-D? The Sforno goes on to say  that Avraham left for Canaan on its own, he did not stop traveling until G-D appeared to him in the city of Shechem, this appearance fulfilled G-Ds promis: " The land that I will show you."

As we can read on the end of Parsha Noach, Avraham's father, Terach embarks upon a mysterious journey with his entire family, without indication why, the Torah simply states, " And they left from Ur Casdim to travel to the land of Canaan ", which means they left with Terach's family, this was including Avraham and his family.

Shortly before they reach their desination, the journey was aborted, as the Torah indicates " And they came to Charan, and  they settled there....and Terach died there.

What was the drive of Terach's journey towards Canaan and what was the purpose of the expedition? Why did they end up in Charan? The Torah gives no indication as to why Terach begins this journey, and it doesn't tell us why the journey ended prematurely.

Perhaps it is the very same fact of Terach's travels, proof of the Sforno's suggestion that the Land of Canaan was well known for its holiness, it also could be that as Torah is suggesting, that Terach a man identified within Midrashic literture as a purveyor of Idolatry and might have been searching for greater truth. Could it been that Avraham's father was not irredeemable, but acctually showed a spark of the spirit that would eventually burn force in his son's heart. We will never know for sure.

Terach may well have begun his journey with high hopes, but tragically it was to soon aborted.

The Torah's message is clear, succes in life depends not on only orginality and inventiveness, but also upon the often overlooked qualities of persistence and constacy. What did separate Avraham from Terach, on one level, Avraham finished the journey while Tenach didn't. How many individuals in history have made a real difference simply because they have been willing and able to finish the task?

Something to think about, " Ba'ma eida? How will I know when the time is right?

" It will not happen in your time, or in your childrens time, or in their childrens time, only after generations, only after exile, will your descendents conquer the Land. "

We are told that the Moshiach is destined to come, bringing with him the conclusion of our nation's story, how he comes, when he comes, how much difficulty or ease will come with his arrival, and which of us will be there to greet him are all issues that are determinded by our actions.