In Israel, a new five month scholarship program being offered to young aspiring athletes – one of them could be you.
The American Jewish Orthodox community has probably been overwhelmed by the events of the past few weeks in Israel regarding the extremely hostile attacks that have been aimed at the haredi community by the secular press and politicians from across the political spectrum. This time the hostility that repeats itself in waves began over the issue of separation of men and women in public areas, continued with the issue of the extension of the Tal Law (that allows Torah scholars to be exempt from military service) and was followed by the allotments for Torah institutions and Torah scholars. It is clear that the animosity toward the Torah world emanates from political motives among politicians vying for headlines and popularity as primaries by several parties take place over the next few months.
This month, the month of Shevat, symbolizes renewal. It is on the fifteenth day of the month (Tu B’Shevat) that the Knesset celebrates its birthday (symbolic of the renewal of the Jewish state). Tu B’Shevat is also known as the New Year for the Trees. The Torah tells us that “mankind is like the tree in the forest” – and like the tree, our roots are the source for our continued existence. When mankind separates itself from its roots, there are clear ramifications. The Torah and the mitzvot are the root of our continued existence as a people. If the Jewish people uproot themselves from the Torah, their identity and purpose are lost. According to the Midrash, on Tu B’Shevat the resin of plants and trees begins to rise. This is a day of renewal and hope.
The first day of Shevat is when Moshe Rabbeinu began teaching the Torah to the Jewish people in the desert upon their freedom from bondage in Egypt. For thirty-seven days – from the first of Shevat until the seventh of Adar – Moshe taught all of Israel. He prepared them for their entry to, conquest of and possession of the land of Israel that, thank God, has reoccurred in our time. Moshe concluded by blessing the Jewish people.
As inscribed in Israel’s Declaration of Independence, the State of Israel was established as a “Jewish and Democratic State.” Those in Israel and outside the country who vilify orthodox Jewry for its total dedication to Torah values diminish the essence of its identity as a Jewish state. As we have seen in history and in our own times, democracy without moral and ethical values leads to decay and oppression. Without Torah roots, the State of Israel is not viable and has no future.
When I established the Shas Party as the Worldwide Sephardic Association of Torah Guardians in 1983, it emerged as a political force in the Jerusalem municipal election in 1983. Today Shas is the fourth largest party in the Knesset, representing the Sephardic sector of Israeli society. Its main role is to safeguard the country’s Jewish identity through education, and to assure the democratic and socio-economic rights of all Israeli citizens. In December Friends of Shas International was launched in New York, with the goal of welcoming U.S. supporters of the Shas mission into the fold and working together on mutual goals. We will work to bring the month of Shevat’s message – renewal and dedication to the moral and ethical values of the Torah – to all people, in Israel and throughout the world.
Rabbi Nissim Zeev, member of Knesset, is the founder of Shas, and founder and chairman of Friends of Shas International. You can e-mail your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author: Member of Knesset Rabbi Nissim Zeev is a founding member the Shas Party and a former deputy mayor of Jerusalem.
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I watch my children use blocks to build a large structure, observing the trepidation with which they add each block. As the structure becomes larger there is a greater risk of it collapsing, thus bringing an end to an hour of playful labor. I anticipate what will happen when one child adds a block to the top floor, compromising the integrity of the building and resulting in the collapse of the entire structure. The argument that ensues is predictable, as each child blames the other for “ruining” the fun. As an adult, I wonder about the need to attribute blame. Will assigning blame be instrumental in rebuilding the structure?
In this week’s parshah the Torah discusses the halachos of when one steals from another and when confronted in beis din, the thief swears falsely with his denial that he stole. This parshah was already taught in parshas Vayikra; however, there are two halachos that the Torah adds in this parshah to this topic.
In order to carry from one’s home into the street (even when the area is enclosed by a properly constructed eruv), the eruvin ceremony must be performed. This ceremony involves the placing of food in one designated home on behalf of all Sabbath observers in the enclosed area. In order for the eruvin ceremony to be valid, however, it must be performed on behalf of all owners of streets and homes in the enclosed area.
Question: On Friday night the chazzan in many shuls ascends the bimah for Kabbalat Shabbos but goes to the amud starting for Barchu. Why?
Question: As Shavuot is fast approaching – a holiday on which we dwell on the story of Ruth and the origins of the royal house of David – I was wondering if you could help me resolve something. Some people say that Rabbi Yehudah HaNassi, the redactor of the six orders of the Mishnah and a scion of King David, purposely kept any mention of Chanukah and the Hasmonean kings out of the Mishnah because the Hasmoneans improperly crowned themselves and ignored the rule that all Jewish kings are supposed to come from the tribe of Yehudah. Is this true?
The Rema writes (Ohr Hachaim, 494:4), “It is customary to spread branches of trees in our synagogues and homes [on Shavuos] in order to commemorate that which the sages say [Rosh Hashanah 16a] that on Shavuos the world is judged concerning [how many] fruits the trees will produce [that year].”
‘A Separate Contribution From Each’
If a man suspects his wife of infidelity, he is to bring witnesses and warn her not to go into private quarters with the man in question. If she violates that warning, he is to bring her to the kohen, who will give her the “bitter waters” to drink. If she was falsely accused and was innocent, she will be blessed with children. If she was guilty, she will die a gruesome death.
A flash of red caught my eye, and I looked up and saw a cardinal perched on the picnic table on my deck. What a miracle, I marveled. You’re beautiful. Thanks, Hashem. And then my mind’s wheels began to roll, and it struck me that several miracle stories had come my way this week. The stories prodded me to think of and feel Hashem’s presence as a more tangible and vivid reality.
Over the years I’ve received letters from all over the world in which people share feelings and thoughts they’ve experienced upon becoming became Torah observant. Usually these letters arrive not long after the writers had heard one of my speeches. No matter where a particular speech took place, and no matter whether I spoke the language or had to use a translator, the magic always works. In reality, it’s not magic at all but a little voice in the soul – the “Pintele Yid,” that spark of G-d’s Word engraved on all our neshamahs. Here is one recent letter.
By the time these words are printed, there will be only a few more days left before Shavuos. We hope that up until that point, we will still have been counting the days of Sefiras Ha’Omer with a bracha, but we also know that too often, despite our best efforts, we drop out of counting with a bracha some time before the count is complete.
In this week’s parshah the Torah tells us that the bechorim were replaced by the levi’im to serve in the Mikdash. The Torah says that there were 273 more bechorim than levi’im. Those bechorim could not simply be replaced, and had to be redeemed. Hashem told Moshe that each bechor should give five shekalim to Moshe, who, in turn, should give them to Aharon and his sons. With that, they would be redeemed.
Question: Is there anything special that one should do on Yom Yerushalayim?
Question: As the shamash in a small community shul with an aging population, I am faced with numerous challenges. The following is only one of them. During sefirah, different people daven for the amud for Ma’ariv. Once, a bar mitzvah was one of them. On another occasion, a very recent ger lead the service. Were these individuals allowed to lead the congregation in counting sefirah? I also wonder, in general, if everyone should be trusted to lead the counting. What if someone forgot to count on one of the previous nights but does not inform anyone of this?
The 10-day period from Rosh Hashanah-Yom Kippur is, as is well known, a time to begin personal introspection – an occasion to look back at one’s mistakes of the past year and plan the needed changes to improve oneself in the New Year. In the U.S. it is also a time for Americans to make positive “resolutions.”
In our time we must always take advantage of the opportunity for a second chance to revive our identity as Jews in Eretz Yisrael, for without the identity of Israel as a Jewish state, we are truly at a spiritual and physical loss.
The American Jewish Orthodox community has probably been overwhelmed by the events of the past few weeks in Israel regarding the extremely hostile attacks that have been aimed at the haredi community by the secular press and politicians from across the political spectrum.
The Jewish Press is proud to announce a new monthly column by the founder of the Shas Party, Member of Knesset Rabbi Nissim Zeev.
As Jews in Israel and all over the world prepare to celebrate Shavuot, it is incumbent upon us to take the time to reflect on the meaning of our traditional values and history with regard to our current challenges and goals.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/shevat-reinforcing-dedication-to-the-torah/2012/02/10/
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