Friday, November 28, 2014

Dvar Torah - Parashat Vayeitzei

This week we are privileged to read the portion Vayeitzei. We learn that Yaakov escaped from his parents home, and as our sages teach us, he detoured to the Yeshiva of Aiver to study for 14 years before traveling to Choron. He then proceeded to Choron to fulfill the command of his parents, to marry someone from their family. Yaakov meets Rochel at the well and a deal is made between Yaakov and Lovon. Lovon fooled Yaakov and gave him his other daughter Leah, instead of Rochel. Yaakov works for Lovon after marrying both Leah and Rochel and two additional women and now merited children from all. Now after many breaches of their agreement, Yaakov left Lovon's home.

Why did Yaakov make the detour to study in Yeshiva ? Why didn't he go straight to Choron ? We know that Yaakov had already been well educated. Yaakov had studied daily with his grandfather Avrohom up to age fifteen. Later, as the Torah attests he was yoshev oholim - sat in the tents of Torah study. Why did he need these additional years of study ? One explanation given is, that until now he had knowledge and practice of being an observant person amongst the righteous (Yitzchok and Rivka), now he needed some extra learning how to survive amongst the evil (Lovon). For that he needed additional fourteen years of study. There's no greater protection from the evil forces of the world than Torah study. It is both a physical and spiritual protection.

The Medrash tells us that when Yaakov ran away, Eisav sent his son Elifaz, to chase after Yaakov and kill him. The Medrash teaches us, that when he reached Yaakov he began crying, and he told Yaakov that he has a dilemma. On the one hand he knows he's not allowed to kill Yaakov on the other hand, his father commanded him to murder Yaakov, what should he do ? Yaakov said to him take everything I have and I will be left poor and a poor man is like deceased. You can now go back and tell your father that Yaakov is dead. Elifaz accepted and took all Yaakov's belongings and so Yaakov was left with only a stick. There's a dispute whether one should first learn Torah before marriage because it is difficult to carry the burden of supporting a family and dedicating your entire being to Torah study or first one should get married so that he can live with purity and then study Torah. The Talmud (kidushin 31) says that it depends. In Jerusalem, people were wealthy so they first got married and then studied Torah. However in Babylon people did not have the means of support, they had to first study and then learn. Yaakov assumed that his parents command that he get married was based on the fact that he would have all the money and goods Yitzchok gave him, in which case he should get married first and then study. However now that he had lost all of his property to Elifaz / Eisav, he now had a different status, and was obligated to first study Torah.

Let us all increase our study of Torah and strengthen our commitment to observe its Mitzvohs and we will be protected from all evil forces of the world.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Dvar Torah - Parshat Toldos

This week we are privileged to read the portion Toldos. The portion begins with Yitzchok and Rivka beseeching the Heavenly Throne to merit children. After conception, Rivka felt that this was not a usual child, she went to question Sheim, who told her she was going to have twins- two different nations. The two children were born, one was born hairy and mature, the other was of different character. Yaakov lived a life of perusing spiritual growth and gaining his lot in the world to come Eisav was chasing materialism and concerned only with the mundane world. While Yaakov immersed himself in a life of study and growth, Eisav was hunting animals, however in front of his father he would act as if he was righteous and holy. At age 15 the two were noticeably different Eisav was hunting animals, murdering and robbing, and Yaakov was tied to his studies. Yaakov purchased the first born rights from Eisav for lentil soup... We also learn about Yitzchok's dispute with Avimelech over wells which Avrohom dug up and phelstitites filled them... (These wells represent more than just the physical water)....later In the portion we learn how Yitzchok wanted to bless Eisav and asked him to prepare a festive meal, so that he can bless him. By request of Rivka, Yaakov prepared the meal and received the blessings in Eisav's place. Now the two forces became enemies (until this very day) .

The Torah tells us that Yitzchok took a liking to Eisav and Rivka favored Yaakov. We know that Eisav honored his father greatly. In fact, he would come ask questions to pretend that he was truly observant. Yitzchok, was blind and because of that he judged only by what he heard from Eisav. The chidushei harim explains that the power of the mitzvah of honoring one's parents is so great that it shielded Eisav from causing his father pain and therefore his true behavior was unknown to Yitzchok. The Sifsei Tzudok adds that when Eisav was in Yitzchok's presence he regretted all his sins, however he didn't maintain those thoughts. As soon as he left the room he was back to his same old self. Missed opportunity!

Many times we are shaken up by events that take place and we understand that there's a message for us, but we don't act on it and just miss the opportunity. Unfortunately sometimes it comes thru tragic events, and we need to act immediately to improve ourselves somehow, so that we don't end up being tzayid befiv (fakers).

Perhaps another message and maybe something to think about during these turbulent times. We know that the Torah goes into detail about the sale of the first born rights. Why is it so important ? Doesn't it seem like Yaakov used Eisav and took advantage of Eisav in a so called weak moment ?

If we look into the events we see what the fabric of an Eisav is. Our sages teach us that on that day Avrohom Avinu passed away. Eisav didn't participate in the funeral, but rather went hunting, he also robbed and murdered on that day. When he finally arrived home, the entire world mourned the loss of Avrohom, as is stated in Talmud Baba Basra 91a, people said woe to the world that lost its leader, to the ship that lost its captain, Eisav however had one thing in mind, food. Not only did he request food but he requested that it be poured into his mouth like a camel (haliteini). When Yaakov saw the lack of decency, the lack of sensitivity to others pain, he knew this boy was not suitable to pass on the legacy of his ancestors. This is why he requested that he sell him the rights to the first born privileges. Character specifically during time of crisis defines the difference between a Yaakov and an Eisav.

May we all be blessed with the blessings that Yitzchok blessed Yaakov by strengthening the voice of Torah and prayer, we will be spared from the hand of Eisav.

Gut Shabbos

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

ועידת אגודת ישראל

לפני שבוע היתה ועידת אגודת ישראל בארה"ב. למרות שמספר המשתתפים היה נמוך בהרבה מאשר בשנים קודמות, האוירה היתה מרוממת מאוד. גדולי התורה השתתפו, וכמה מהם אף נאמו, רוב הנאומים היום בעיקר באור ליום שישי ובמוצאי שב"ק.

הנואם העיקרי היה האדמו"ר מנובומינסק שליט"א. הוא הזהיר את הצבור מפני סכנת ה"אורטודוקס הפתוח" שמיסודו של אבי וויס. אחד מיסודות של אבי וויס הוא להרשות לנשים להיות מורי הלכה.

בזמנו, הודיעו גדולי התורה שהארגון הנ"ל פסול ואסור במחננו.

האחדות שררה בין המשתתפים והיה למופת.

ותנו כבוד לתורה

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Dvar Torah - Parashat Chayei Soroh

This week we are privileged to read the portion of Chayei Soroh. The portion begins with the tragic Passing of Soroh and Avrohom's devotion to find a proper burial place for his wife. Now Avrohom felt that he needs to secure the future of Klal Yisroel, and he appointed his servant Eliezer to find an appropriate wife for Yitzchok. The Tora gives us the details of eliezer's mission and the success, bringing home a wife for Yitzchok, Rivka. After witnessing Rivka's greatness, Yitzchok was consoled after his mother. The portion ends with some details of Yismoel's life, and his death.

In Breishis 24/1 the Torah states: and Avrohom was old, he came with his days, and Hashem blessed Avrohom with everything. Reb Meyer of Premyshlan once said that in the world to come, two people were brought before g-d, one was an old man of poor stature, the other a young man of great stature. Reb Meyer said that they treated the young man as if he would be an old man, because he came up with many utilized hours, days, and weeks. The second man was treated like a little boy. When he asked why, he was told that he came up to Heaven with very little time spent properly. He was therefore considered a kid. This is why the Torah stresses that Avrohom was old and he came with his years, meaning, his years were utilized.

Reb Shimele of Yerislav lived until approximately 100 years of age. He would explain the fore mentioned verse as follows: Avrohom was old because everything that happened to him, he viewed as a blessing from G-d. He added, that if one doesn't agree with things that occur in his life, Hashem calls him up to explain to him why he deserved it. Says Reb Shimele, the Torah is telling us why Avrohom lived to be an old man, because Hashem blessed him with everything, he saw it all as a blessing.

May we merit to be blessed, and see the blessing of Hashem in all areas.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Dvar Torah - Parashat Vayeiro

This week we are privileged to read the portion of Vayeiro. We learned in the end of the previous portion that Avrohom performed the mitzva of Bris milah (circumcision) at age 99. Despite his age and condition Avrohom is still committed to his life's mission - chesed - kindness. Avrohom was standing at his door waiting to find a guest to host and feed. Hashem sent three angels, who appeared as people so that Avrohom should be calm. One angel was to heal Avrohom, one was to inform Sarah that she will bare a child within the year and the third went on to turn over Sedom and Amora. Avrohom beseaches the Heavenly throne to spare the people of Sedom and surrounding cities and Hashem declines the request, due to the evil character of their population. We further learn of the great miracle of Yitzchok's birth. Later we learn about the bad influence Yishmael was, causing Avrohom to send him away. The portion ends with the ultimate sacrifice, whereby Hashem tested Avrohom to see whether he was fully devoted unconditionally and selfless. Hashem commanded Avrohom to bring his beloved son Yitzchok for an offering. Avrohom despite having preached to all that sacrificing humans was prohibited, was now ready to do G-d's will without hesitation. After Avrohom was prepared for the ultimate sacrifice of his life, Hashem commands him not to harm his son, and blesses him.

In Bereishis 18/19 the Hashem states: for I love him (Avrohom) because he commands his children and household after him and they will keep the way of G-d to do charity and justice. Why is this written just here ?
The Maharal questions, why isn't there any mention in the Torah about the event at Oor Kasdim, whereby Avrom was thrown into a burning oven because he refused to bow to idols or to worship Nimrod. We mention it everyday in our prayers (shachris), yet the Torah does not discuss the event. The Maharal explains that the reason the Torah omits the event is, so that we shouldn't think that Hashem's love for Avrohom was because of Oor Kasdim.

Perhaps we can take this further. Many times we see people of great stature, however they fail to pass on a legacy to their children and acquaintances, either because they're too busy or don't realize the importance. This is why Hashem tells us, the way to find "favor" in My eyes, is by teaching others. Maybe only after the Torah tells us that Avrohom was not only busy with Chesed, but he was busy educating his own children too, that is where the Torah tells us that he found favor by Hashem. One needs to know his priorities. First and foremost is the education of our own children !

May we merit to pass on to our children and students a way of life in the path of Hashem.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

וועידת אגודת ישראל בארצות הברית

התאריך המיועד:כ-כ"ג חשון
מקום המיועד : ניו ג'רסי
על מה הולכים לדבר?

הציבור הכללי מגלים חוסר התעניינות וממעטים להשתתף בועידה. וזה מפני שהרבנים המשתתפים בוועידת אגודת ישראל, אינם המנהיגים והפוסקים המקובלים על כל הציבור.

יהיו הרבה מרצים בוועידה, כולם רבנים חשובים ויראי שמים, אך הם לא הפוסקים שיודעים להכריע בהלכה למעשה.
חוסר ההתעניינות בעיקר מהעדר ההשתתפות של אותם 'גדולים' המכריעים בהלכה שדבריהם נשמעים והציבור סר למרותם.

דרך התורה לא להתפייס עם רצונותיו של בשר ודם, אלא ההיפך הוא הנכון. האדם מחוייב להכניע עצמו ורצונותיו לרצון ה'.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Parashat Lech Lecha

This week we are privileged to read the portion of Lech Licho. The portion discusses absolute faith and devotion which Avrohom our forefather demonstrated from an early age throughout his life. Hashem granted Avrohom the power of blessing others and promised him that his family will be an example to the entire world. We learn about the separation of Avrom and Lot (his nephew), due to the dishonesty of his employees... Later we learn about the war of the four kings vs the five. Avrohom nephew was captured and Avrohom goes to battle to save him and does not accept any reward. Later we learn of G-d's covenant with Avrohom. The portion closes with Hashem's promise Avrohom that his children will inherit the land and they will be many and Hashem command Avrohom to perform the mitzvah of Bris mila. Avrohom does so with enthusiasm mid day...

Reb Pinchos of Koritz would rejoice on this Shabbos, Saying, that until now, in the first two portions the world went sour, the sin of the tree of knowledge, Kayin and Hevel, the flood, the Babylonian tower, all causing darkness to the world. Now we reach the era of Avrohom, who awakens the attribute of kindness to the world. So too said the Chidushei Harim, that the Chozeh of Lublin would relate to the portion of lech licho as if one just came out from darkness to light.

This portion ends with the mitzvah of bris milah, therefore I'd like to discuss the blessing we wish upon every young boy who enter this holy covenant. All those in attendance wish the boy who has just been circumcised, just as he entered to the covenant (bris), so too shall he be brought in to Torah, to Chupah (marriage) and to maasim tovim - good deeds. There are several explanations on the meaning of this blessing. Just as at the time of bris (usually performed at age of eight days), the person has no ulterior motives (such as honor, money etc.), so too, when he reaches the age of learning Torah and good deeds and even regarding marriage it should be with a clear focus to perform the will of G-d. There's another explanation, that just as one who was circumcised it remains engrained in him forever, so too should it be with Torah, Chupah and good deeds. It should not only be a performance, but rather a part of him, inseparable.

May we follow in the footsteps of Avrohom Avinu and always seek acts of kindness and serve Hashem with fervor above nature, as did Avrohom.

A Gut Voch,