Saturday, December 20, 2014

Dvar Torah - Parshat Mikeitz

This week we are privileged to read the portion of Mikeitz. The portion begins with Pharaoh having dreams which disturbed him, because he could not comprehend the meaning. He offered the world to the person who will translate his dreams to his satisfaction. Pharaoh was told about Yosef's past success in this field, and he released Yosef from prison. Yosef translated the dreams and informed Pharaoh that seven years of wealth and success are on the way, to be followed by 7 hunger years. Pharaoh appointed him to be second in command. During the prosperous years, Yosef prepared Egypt for the future, and began storing food for the hunger which was to come. After seven years, the hunger began and from the entire region people came to purchase food from Egypt. Yosef knew that soon his brothers too, would come to purchase food in Egypt, and he prepared for their coming. When they arrived, Yosef, whom they did not recognize began harassing them that they were spies. The brothers were very taken aback by the rough treatment. Yosef arrested Shimon and requested that they bring Binyomin.... Ultimately, they were forced, to bring their youngest brother Binyomin with them. Yaakov was very hesitant, but had no choice. He sent Binyomin and Yosef finally seized the opportunity to get the brothers to regret what they had done to him. He arranged for his personal silver cup to be placed in Binyomin's luggage, and Binyomin was returned to Egypt ...

The Kotzker Rebbe says, that there's a tremendous lesson here. Upon hearing how the prime minister of Egypt was harassing his sons, arrested one and requested to meet the youngest brother who did not accompany them, Yaakov could have cursed him. We know that had he done so, ultimately he would have hurt him. Instead, Yaakov chose to send back a gift as the torah states. We must learn from Yaakov, how maintained his clear thought and calm behavior, even during a time of near despair. Another important lesson for us is, that whatever one does he/she does to and for him/her self.
There's a parable brought in the name of the Baal Shem Tov. A king would disguise himself as a simple person and would walk the streets and the market place to see the needs of the people, and he would distribute some funds to the beggars.
There was one beggar who always told him "whatever you do, you do for yourself." The King did not appreciate that expression . One day the king requested of his baker to bake a beautiful cake and place some poison in it. He then went to present it to this beggar . He did just that and the beggar responded as usual, thank you, whatever you do, you do for yourself. The king thought, now let's see what happens!!! The beggar was so excited with the beautiful cake that he wanted to put it away for a special occasion. Several days later the beggar is at his house and there's a knock on the door. The Kings son had just gone hunting in the forest and he had a hard time finding his . way out and now finally he got out and was very hungry. Our friend was very delighted that he can feed the king's son, and he decided to serve him the beautiful cake he received from the king. The king's security echelon checked the food and found it to be poisonous. The beggar was immediately arrested. As he was being brought before investigators, he explained what had happened, that this special cake was given to him by a wealthy man... The king who had given him the cake admitted and stated: whatever one does, he does to himself.
We are granted many opportunities to do good and the opposite. Smart people realize, whatever you do you do to yourself.
According to mystical script, it is during Chanukah that the absolute final judgement of a person is made. Let us be kind to each other, and remember whatever you do, you do for yourself.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Dvar Torah - Parshat Vayeishev

This week we are privileged to read the portion of Vayeishev. The portion discusses the history of Yosef, the beloved son of Yaakov, who was clearly his father's favorite. His brothers felt that he was slandering and delivering bad reports about them to their father Yaakov. Yosef had dreams which he revealed to his brothers alluding to the fact that he would rule over them... The brothers sold Yosef and he was resold until he ended up a slave in Egypt. In Egypt he passed the tremendous test of maintaining his holiness in an environment that was contradictory to anything holy. Later Yosef was sent to prison, where he was beloved by all inmates, some, who were very high profile. Two ministers had dreams and Yosef interpreted them accurately everything Yosef said materialized.

The Torah states (Breishis 39/2) Hashem was with Yosef and he was a man of success. The Medrash says that the attributes of Hashem are different from the attributes of humans. Human beings, when someone is successful people befriend him and are close to him, however, if Heaven forbid, the wheel turns and he loses his wealth, his friendship is in jeopardy. Hashem, however, remains with a person in all situations, as we see the Torah states that Hashem was with Yosef when he was a servant of Potiphar and the same is written when Yosef was in prison and when he became Ruler of Egypt.

According to the Baalei Hatosfos this is an outcome of Yosef being a G-d fearing individual during his difficult times. When the wife of Potiphar tried convincing him to sin, Yosef responded "how can I do such evil, and I will sin before G-d"? The same we find when Yosef was brought before pharaoh (in next week's portion), he was to be appointed as second in command and he states: I fear G-d - es hoelokim Ani yorei. When one commits himself to rely fully on Hashem, he can expect to see the assisting hand of Hashem in all circumstances and situations. It is up to us to orchestrate our relationship.

May we merit to have full commitment to Hashem and see his protecting hand at all times.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Dvar Torah - Parashat Vayishlach

This week we are privileged to read the portion of Vayishlach. Yaakov decided to return to his home land and reunite with his father. He sent emissaries (Angels) to see what Eisav was up to. Yaakov prepared for his meeting with Eisav with three different approaches. He prepared generous gifts, he prayed and he also prepared a war strategy. Yaakov divides his camp as he prepares for the big meeting. At the same time he began praying to Hashem, that he shouldn't get killed and that he shouldn't kill others. Later in the portion, we learn of the war between Yaakov and the Angel representing Eisav fought, until Yaakov won the battle, and Eisav was forced to admit that the blessings belong to Yaakov. They (Yaakov and Eisav) ultimately meet and part from each other. Later we learn about the terrible incident with Dina's capture... Shimon and Levi kill the entire population of shchem.

In Bereishis 32/13, Yaakov in his prayer tells Hashem: You said - heiteiv eitiv imoch - I will do good with you. It is written in double language - heiteiv eitiv - good good. Rashi explains I will do good in your honor and I will do good in your forefather's honor.

There's a Chassidic explanation, which is based on the famous Chassidic expression, "think good and it will be good". If one truly has faith that things will be good, that brings about good results.

There's also a famous concept taught by Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk, that when one needs a miracle, he should discuss previous miracles of Hashem. That arouses the attributes of miracle performance by Hashem. Perhaps, maybe this is a hint to this concept. Heiteiv Eitiv - when you discuss the good of Hashem, that will arouse more good from Hashem.

There's another idea here. When one one is faced with a challenge and wants to do good, remember Hashem will be there for for you. If you say Good, meaning you want to do good, Hashem will help you do good and provide divine assistance.

May we merit to always see the good of Hashem and be be the recipient of good.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

התחזקות בשמירת הלשון לבני תורה

ב"ה, לאחרונה ראינו שלימוד הלכות לשון הרע, הולך וגדל. בבחינת, גדולה הסרת טבעת וכו׳.
צרות הכלל שבארץ ישראל, אשר זמן רב לא ראינו כמותו, עושה את שלו. ללומדי תורה ולמאמינים בני מאמינים המסר ברור, חובה עלינו להתחזק במצוות וביראת שמים. ארבעת הקדושים שנשחטו, היו אנשים אשר היו אדוקים ומקפידים בזהירות יתירה גם בשמירת הלשון בכל פרטיה.

בארצות הגולה, בעיקר באירופה, גלוי לכל האנטישמיות. הפחד מן העתיד הקרוב ניכר ביהדות התפוצות. רואים בעליל שהמערכת הפוליטית, חסרת כח לעמוד נגד שונאי ישראל, ולצערינו לעיתים אף תומכת בהם. הרבה יהודים מחפשים מקום מקלט לברוח לאין מצוא.

הפתרון היחידי, כולם יודעים: תשובה, תפלה וצדקה.
הם המקלט לכלל ישראל ומושיעם בעת צרה. "כי בחרבי ובקשתי לקחתי" בצלותי ובבעותי היינו תפלת הלב.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Daas Torah: Maran Harav Wolbe, זצ"ל: a perspective

Daas Torah: Maran Harav Wolbe, זצ"ל: a perspective

A. It is said that when Harav Shlomo Wolbe זצ"ל,  was in his salad years, serving as the Mashgiach Ruchani in Yeshivas באר יעקב, the חזון איש זצ"ל bestowed upon him the title the מחנך הדור.

The Mashgiach זצ"ל was bold. He shared ideas that were not always conventional.

He wrote in his most popular Sefer "עלי שור" that hitting a child for any reason is not acceptable. It sends the child/student a lesson that should never be learned.

Maran Harav Chaim Kanyevsky שליט"א in his Sefer אורחות יושר disagrees. Harav Dessler זצ"ל also disagrees.

Undoubtedly, beating a child is against Torah ideals and Halacha. Even for educational benefit for the student/child. The prohibition of beating a child Is pronounced when the parent/teacher are angry. The hitting that is supported by some , is more like a soft tap on the palm of the child's hand.

B. What is a yeshiva for? Who is a yeshiva for?

Maran Harav Wolbe זצ"ל, once came with his partner, Maran Harav Moshe Shmuel Shapiro זצ"ל to the חזון איש זצ"ל to seek advice. The Yeshiva באר יעקב was in it's embryonic stages and they were making an effort to attract and enrol very bright students. They requested from the חזון איש זצ"ל that if he came upon parents of very bright young men who are looking for a yeshiva, perhaps he can suggest באר יעקב?

The חזון איש זצ"ל immediately responded saying that very bright boys can manage on their own ... an does not need the help of a yeshiva. It is the weak to average student that needs the help of a yeshiva. The חזון איש זצ"ל then added "a yeshiva is like a hospital, the student enters weak and leaves healthy and strong".