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October 22, 2016 / 20 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Devarim’

Parshas Devarim

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

Vol. LXVII No. 33 5776


New York City
August 12, 2016 – 8 Av 5775
7:39 p.m. NYC E.D.T.


Sabbath Ends: 8:40 p.m. NYC E.D.T.
Sabbath Ends: Rabbenu Tam 9:08 p.m. NYC E.D.T.
Weekly Reading: Devarim
Weekly Haftara: Chazon Yeshayahu (Isaiah 1:1-27)
Daf Yomi: Bava Kama 73
Mishna Yomit: Shevi’is 2:7-8
Halacha Yomit: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 27:10 – 28:1
Rambam Yomi: Hilchos Mechirah chap. 16 – 18
Earliest time for Tallis and Tefillin: 5:09 a.m. NYC E.D.T.
Sunrise: 6:04 a.m. NYC E.D.T.
Latest Kerias Shema: 9:32 a.m. NYC E.D.T.
Sunset: 7:57 p.m. NYC E.D.T.


Fast of Tisha B’Av (nidche – delayed one day): The fast begins Shabbos after Mincha at 7:55 p.m. and concludes Sunday evening (August 14) at 8:27 p.m. (NYC E.D.T.) Rav Tukaccinsky. Rav Moshe Feinstein, earliest 8:31 p.m. (NYC E.D.T.) , preferred 8:39 (NYC E.D.T.)

This Shabbos is Shabbos Chazon. Some have a custom to sing Lecha Dodi at the Friday evening Kabbalas Shabbos service to the melody of Eli Tziyyon (one of the concluding kinos of Tisha B’Av).

Shabbos morning the Haftara, Chazon Yeshayahu (Isaiah 1:1-27), is read to the melody of Eichah (until Ve’shaveha).

As on Tisha B’Av, some restrictions apply regarding Torah study. From chatzos hayom – after noon (1:00 p.m. NYC E.D.T.) – we only study matters relating to Tisha B’Av: Eichah and its Midrashim and Perek Hanizakin in Tractate Gittin. Thus we do not study the usual Pirkei Avos, which resume the following week. Following Mincha, which is the usual Shabbos Tefilla except for Tzidkas’cha, we eat the Seuda Shelishis, we may even eat meat and wine at this meal.

We return to the synagogue for Maariv. Following Barechu we remove our leather shoes and don sneakers that are non leather. We also remove the Paroches, the curtain of Aron Hakodesh. We sit on low chairs and continue with the usual Tefilla, followed by Kaddish Tiskabbel. After Maariv when we view a flame we utter the blessing “… Borei Me’orei Ha’esh” (Havdala in the Shemoneh EsrehAta Chonantanu). We then read Eichah, plus several selected Kinos, Ve’Ata Kadosh, Kaddish Shalem without Tiskabbel, Aleinu and Mourner’s Kaddish.

Sunday morning, Tisha B’Av day (delayed), we do not put on Tallis or Tefillin when we daven Shacharis. However, we do put on the tallis katan without a beracha. Others say that we do make a beracha (see Mishna Berura, Orach Chayyim 555:1). In the Korbanos section we omit Pitum Haketores. In Shacharis only the ba’al tefilla says Anenu in his repetition between Refa’einu and Go’el Yisrael, but he does not say Birkas Kohanim. We do not say Tachanun or Avinu Malkenu. We take out a Torah scroll and read in Parashas Va’es’chanan (Devarim 4:25-40), Ki Solid Banim, and say half Kaddish. We read the Haftara, Asof Asifeim (Jeremiah 8:13-9:23) to the melody of Eichah. We then begin saying the Kinos (a collection of Lamentations). We say Ashrei, no Lamenatze’ach. We say U’va Letziyyon (but we omit Ve’ani Zos Brisi) then Kaddish Shalem without Tiskabbel, and Aleinu. We do not say the Shir Shel Yom at Shacharis. We remain seated on the ground until Chatzos Hayom (midday – we do take into account Daylight Savings Time).

At Mincha we don our Tallis and Tefillin with the appropriate blessings. We then say Shir Shel Yom (others say Kerias Shema as well), followed by Mourner’s Kaddish. We say Ashrei followed by half Kaddish, we take out the Torah scroll from the Ark and read Vayechal (Shemos 32:11-14, 34:1-10); no half Kaddish. We read the Haftara, Dirshu Hashem (Isaiah 55:6-56:80), we return the Torah scroll to the Ark and say half Kaddish. We recite the Shemoneh Esreh, adding Nachem in Boneh Yerushalayim and Anenu in Shome’a Tefilla. The chazzan in his repetition, however, places Anenu between Go’el and Refa’einu. We do not say Avinu Malkenu or Tachanun. The chazzan says Kaddish Tiskabbel, Aleinu followed by Mourner’s Kaddish.

We conclude with Maariv. We then recite Havdala over wine (the one reciting may drink – See Mishna Berura, Orach Chayyim 556, Hilchos Tisha B’Av). However, we continue to abstain from meat and [other] wine until Monday at noon.

Kiddush Levana at first opportunity – until Wednesday evening, 14th Av [or as a last resort, Thursday evening, 15th Av].

Next Thursday evening and Friday is Chamisha Asar B’Av – the 15th of Av, no Tachanun (see next week’s luach).

The following chapters of Tehillim are being recited by many congregations and Yeshivos for our brothers and sisters in Eretz Yisrael: Chapter 83, 130, 142. – Y.K.

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

The Book of Speech; Redeeming Relevance on Parshat Devarim

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

One of the first obstacles to understanding Devarim is thinking of it as a book. Devarim literally means “[spoken] words.” Even if we might otherwise have missed the centrality of this notion, the book’s ‘orality‘ is brought to our attention right from the start: “These are the words that Moshe spoke.” The text clues us in to the fact that, as opposed to the other four books, Devarim, to its very core, is an oral work.

In light of the book’s strong oral dimension, it would be no surprise to find other ways in which it is tied to orality. Most understand its rabbinic name, Mishneh Torah, as referring to the fact that it contains laws that previously appear in the first four books. But this is not the only way that the term can be understood. According to some commentaries, it doesn’t refer to the duplication of previously recounted sections of the Torah but rather to a (section of the) Torah that requires our repetition of it and its constant review.

Whether this is a correct understanding of the term or not, everyone agrees that it is specifically in the book of Devarim that we find many passages that were constantly recited by the Jews throughout the ages. Hence the only question is not whether the book had to be recited but rather how much of it encompassed this requirement. This approach differentiates Devarim quite explicitly from the other books, as the recitation and re-recitation of it defines its very essence. The orality of Devarim means that it comes with its own rules. When a writer repeats himself it generally goes against the conventions of writing. But in an oral presentation the opposite holds true, as the repetition itself is a convention.

In our own lives we are aware that people purposefully repeat themselves in everyday speech.

Whether it is a parent repeating important instructions to a child or a politician turning back to a catch phrase, it is even often tellingly prefaced by the words, “I repeat.” When the parent or politician repeats him- or herself, the words are not meant to convey new information, as they’ve already been heard by the listeners. Rather, the speaker is using the words this time to convey emphasis, as if to say, “The following is so important that it bears repeating.”

I suggest that the Torah is doing exactly the same here. Although it could have written “this is important” (as does Maharal, for example, in his writings)or “note this” (as does Rav Chaim Vital), it would have been less colloquial and, therefore, less like the “language of men.” The Torah explicitly strives to be colloquial, even as it tries to echo the highly refined message of God. And this is all the more true in its most oral of books.

{This Dvar Torah is an excerpt from “Chapter 2: Mishneh Torah: the Repeated Torah,” in the upcoming book Redeeming Relevance on the Book of Devarim, by Rabbi Francis Nataf. Excerpt prepared by Harry Glazer of Highland Park, N.J.}

Rabbi Francis Nataf

Fanatics Suspected of Arson of Church on the Kinneret

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

UPDATE: Police arrested 16 suspects for arson but then released them two hours later.

Arsonists caused heavy damage to the offices and rooms at the Church of Loaves Fishes at the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) early Thursday morning and left graffiti which, freely translated, read: “Cut off the false idols of the Galilee.”

The original verse appears in the second part of the “Aleinu” prayer, said three times day, in which it is written “You shall cut off their false gods.”

The church that was set on fire is where Christians believe Jesus performed the Miracle of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes.

Hundreds of thousands of Christians visit the site every year, and the Tourism Ministry in recent years has promoted the development of Christian sites and churches, including places where missionaries are hard at work to convert Jews.

Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said that firefighters arrived at the church at 3:30 Thursdays morning and found the graffiti, which is firm ground for suspicions that arsonists set the blaze.

There always is the outside chance that the graffiti was several months old, that an electrical fire caused the blaze, that the Shin Bet was behind it to frame Jews, or perhaps the Christians themselves lit the match to spread an anti-Semitic blood libel.

It would be great to discover that one or all of the above are true, but until proven otherwise, Jews are assumed to be guilt, justly or not.

The Torah, in Devarim (Deuteronomy) 12:3 states:

וְנִתַּצְתֶּם אֶת מִזְבְּחֹתָם וְשִׁבַּרְתֶּם אֶת מַצֵּבֹתָם וַאֲשֵׁרֵיהֶם תִּשְׂרְפוּן בָּאֵשׁ וּפְסִילֵי אֱלֹהֵיהֶם תְּגַדֵּעוּן וְאִבַּדְתֶּם אֶת שְׁמָם מִן הַמָּקוֹם הַהוּא

And you shall tear down their altars, smash their monuments, burn their asherim [false gods] with fire, cut down the graven images of their gods, and destroy their name from that place.

If the arson was set off by idiots who decided that they are God’s direct missionaries, they forgot there is another verse in the same book, chapter 17, verses 14-15:

כִּי תָבֹא אֶל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לָךְ וִירִשְׁתָּהּ וְיָשַׁבְתָּה בָּהּ וְאָמַרְתָּ אָשִׂימָה עָלַי מֶלֶךְ כְּכָל הַגּוֹיִם אֲשֶׁר סְבִיבֹתָי:

שׂוֹם תָּשִׂים עָלֶיךָ מֶלֶךְ אֲשֶׁר יִבְחַר יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בּוֹ מִקֶּרֶב אַחֶיךָ תָּשִׂים עָלֶיךָ מֶלֶךְ לֹא תוּכַל לָתֵת עָלֶיךָ אִישׁ נָכְרִי אֲשֶׁר לֹא אָחִיךָ הוּא

When you come to the land the Lord, your God, is giving you, and you possess it and live therein, and you say, “I will set a king over myself, like all the nations around me,”

You shall set a king over you, one whom the Lord, your God, chooses; from among your brothers, you shall set a king over yourself; you shall not appoint a foreigner over yourself, one who is not your brother

In three weeks, Jews read the Torah portion of Pinchas, the priest who took a spear and killed a Jew and a non-Jewish woman form Midian for publicly joining idol worshipers.

God awarded him with the “covenant of peace” for his act, which stopped a plague that God brought on the people because of idol worship.

But Pinchas and only Pinchas could have done such an act and be rewarded. Anyone else would have been tarred and feathered.

The arsonists who torched the church this morning are not priests. They are not kings. They are not police. Their lunacy was an act of the low-life of low-lives.

They appointed themselves to carry out a commandment that is not necessarily directed at each and every Jew in Israel but at the entire people, who today have a country and a government.

It often does not function properly. It is not a religious government.

And there never will be religious government so long as some crazy people, possibly with a kippa on their heads, go around as if they are direct agents of God.

They even took a revered prayer and added the word “Galilee” on their authority.

And the truth is, they didn’t even cause much damage the church itself. They not only did not carry out a commandment, but they also violated several others, including the law of the Jewish country in which they have the privilege to live.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Chief of Staff’s Mom: I Wish He Had Been a Rabbi

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

Esther Eizenkott, mother of the next IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkott, says she would have preferred that her son be a rabbi, but, “If God wants him to Chief of Staff, so it should be.”

In a conversation with the Kikar Shabbat Haredi website, Esther Eizenkott revealed that the next Chief of Staff often consults a rabbi in Jerusalem.


Can you already hear the secularists screaming, “Oy? What happens if he returns to Judaism while he is Chief of Staff? That would violate the sanctity of separating God from the army.

A rabbi?

“Is the IDF dependent on God?”

Try reading Devarim (Deuteronomy), Chapter 8:

11. Beware that you do not forget the Lord, your God, by not keeping His commandments, His ordinances, and His statutes, which I command you this day,
12. lest you eat and be sated, and build good houses and dwell therein,
13. and your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold increase, and all that you have increases, 
14. and your heart grows haughty, and you forget the Lord, your God, Who has brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage,
15. Who led you through that great and awesome desert, [in which were] snakes, vipers and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought water for you out of solid rock,
16. Who fed you with manna in the desert, which your forefathers did not know, in order to afflict you and in order to test you, to benefit you in your end,
17. and you will say to yourself, “My strength and the might of my hand that has accumulated this wealth for me.”
18. But you must remember the Lord your God, for it is He that gives you strength to make wealth, in order to establish His covenant which He swore to your forefathers, as it is this day.
19. And it will be, if you forget the Lord your God and follow other gods, and worship them, and prostrate yourself before them, I bear witness against you this day, that you will surely perish.
20. As the nations that the Lord destroys before you, so will you perish; since you will not obey the Lord your God.

Yes, even the IDF is dependent on God.

Eizenkott left observance while growing up with his family, which moved from his native to Tiberias to Eilat while he was a boy.

“Of course, I would have preferred that he be a rabbi, but if God wants him to be Chief of Staff, so it should be,” she told Kikar Shabbat.” We are a family of rabbis.”

She learned of the appointment shortly before she lit candles before Shabbat and could not speak on the phone to anyone during Shabbat, which she observes.

Esther Eizenkott, whose husband died 18years ago, also revealed that when she was in her seventh month of pregnancy before Gadi was born she went to the grave of the famous Rabbi Meir Ba’al Ha Nes. She said she told her father she dreamed of the rabbi and “did not see his face but only his back.” Her father told her, “This is a sign you will have a boy and he will not be religious, but he will be wise.”

Don’t ask how he figured that out from the dream. Leave that for the kabbalists.

More important is that after his appointment was officially announced Saturday night, virtually everyone shared one word that describes Eizenkott – modest.

When he was approached four years to consider the post, he said he thought that Benny Gantz, whom he will replace, “was more suitable.”

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Parsha Devarim: What Does it Mean to Have Faith?

Friday, August 1st, 2014
In this week’s parsha, Moshe accuses the nation of Israel of not having faith. What? The people know firsthand about all the miracles God has done for them, how could they not have faith? Drawing on the Maharal, Rabbi Fohrman gives us a novel approach to faith, and challenges us to rise to this level of intimacy with God and with each other.
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Rabbi David Fohrman

A History of National Responsibility

Thursday, July 31st, 2014
The Book of Devarim opens with: “These are the words which Moses spoke unto all Israel beyond the Jordan; in the wilderness, in the Arabah, over against Suph, between Paran and Tophel, and Laban, and Hazeroth, and Di-zahab.” Many of the nine places don’t seem to exist and if they did it seems extremely unlikely that Moshe would be speaking in all of them at once.
Perhaps we can understand by looking at these words not as place names, but as attributes. Borrowing the roots of the words, we can read: “These are the words which Moses spoke unto all Israel across the Jordan, in the desert, in the place towards the crossing, at the mila (circumcision) of the end, between the distinguished and the lacking in effort, pure, with open space and enough gold.” In other words, Moshe is speaking to a people who are across the Jordan, in the desert, about to cross into the land and thus complete the end of their journey like brit mila (‘circumcision’) completes the creation of life. It is like the creation of the nation is completed by the people just as the creation of a Jewish boy is completed by the mankind. And the people he’s speaking to are all pure, have open space and have enough gold.
The people are blessed and they are on the edge of history. The only variation among them is between those who lack effort and those who, because they do not lack effort, are distinguished.
Moshe’s speech would seem to be aimed at addressing this particular shortcoming.
The first part of the speech, this portion, delivers its lesson through a history of the growth of our national responsibility. It starts with recounting of the people choosing their judges. This act was required because the people needed to carry some of their own burden. This initial act of responsibility moved the people one step past slavery. It was followed immediately by the giving of the Torah.
Moshe continues with the story of the spies. In this version, the people are in their tents claiming Hashem hates them. This claim leads to devastation. But this act isn’t in the original telling. Here, it illustrates the importance of not blaming others for our shortcomings.
The history continues with a mystery. Moshe describes us circling the mountain of Seir until Hashem commands us to go through Edom. But Edom contains the mountain of Seir. If we were circling it, why did we need to go through it? As a literal word, seir is used to reference barley or hairiness or even goats. It implies something low and very physical. Seir is not our inheritance. But, in order to take our birthright, we must move from Kadesh (holiness) to a mountain of physicality. We must move from restful holiness to national action. We can see this necessary transition even in the modern nation of Israel.
This is followed by a history of lands and their assignment by Hashem. This gives us national context. We must fit into the divine plan.
In the sixth and seventh readings, we have a celebration of our national growth. Sihon, is described as having his heart hardened and is thus directly compared to Pharoah. But where Hashem crushes Pharoah and we are merely observers, here we take action upon the command of Hashem. And then our conquests continue and we begin to earn our lands.
But then parsha ends on an unusual note. In the Book of Bamidbar, the two and a half tribes ask to live across the Jordan. In accepting their request, Moshe doesn’t even consult Hashem.
Here, Hashem seems to gift them their lands without any request. In fact, it seems to be part of the original design.
By force of their vow, the two and a half tribes seem to have created a divine edict.
I can’t help but compare their action to Hashem’s request of Avraham. Hashem said to Avraham, “Walk before me and be tamim (‘perfect or unblemished’).”
On the cusp of entering the land, all tremendous national failures, that command seems to hold.
The two and a half tribes can walk in front of Hashem. They can take responsibility for our choices and seemingly change the plans of Hashem.
They can redefine the future.
And we can too. But when we do so, we must not forget the second part of Hashem’s statement to Avraham.
Unlike the two and a half tribes, when we walk in front of G-d, we must be perfect in our motivation.
There is a national progression in responsibility. We go from carrying our own burden, to not blaming others for our shortcomings, to taking national action, to remembering our place in Hashem’s plan and to fighting for ourselves. After all of that, we can walk in front of Hashem, but we must be unblemished in doing so.
This progression marks the steps necessary to becoming a nation. These are the initial steps in learning to become nationally distinguished, rather than being undermined by a lack of effort.
These steps apply as much today as they did when Moshe delivered them.
Indeed, they seem to describe the birth of our modern nation.
Joseph Cox

Na’anuim: Moving Together As One People

Friday, October 5th, 2012

We are all familiar with the famous midrash (Vayikra Rabbah 30, 12) that compares the four species we take on the holiday of Sukkos to the four different types of Jews: the esrog, which has both smell and taste, corresponds to those who learn Torah and perform good deeds; the lulav, which has taste but no smell, corresponds to those who learn Torah but do not perform good deeds; the hadasim, which have a pleasant smell but no taste, correspond to those who perform good deeds but do not learn Torah; and finally, the aravos, which have neither smell nor taste, correspond to those who have neither Torah nor good deeds.

The midrash notes that Hashem declared that all the species should be tied together into one bundle (“agudah achas”) so that each should effect atonement for the other (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 651:1). The message is clear: in order for our prayers to be fully accepted, we must unite with all Jews, and not exclude anyone, even those lacking in Torah and mitzvos.

The same message resonates with the Yom Kippur service. We cannot even begin the service until such time as we have been granted permission – in the convocation of the beis din above and the beis din below – to pray together with the “avaryanim” – with those who are clearly labeled as transgressors. Only when the entirety of the people is included in our service, can be we confident that our prayers will yield a favorable response from Above. It is for this reason we pray on Yom Kippur, “ve’yausu khulam agudah achas” – that we be combined into one “eged” (bunch) like the four minim of the lulav, “la’asos retzoncha be’levav shalem” – to do your will with a “complete heart.” The reference to a “complete heart” can be understood as a hearkening to when we all stood as one united people at Har Sinaikeish echad be’lev echad” – “as one organic being, with a united heart” (Rashi, Shmos 19:2).

In this vein, Rabbi Eliyahu Lopian (Lev Eliyahu 4:339) provides a similar perspective to explain an apparent paradox. On the one hand, the month of Elul is a time of supreme trepidation, as indicated by the verse in Amos (3:6) – “if a shofar is blown in the city, how can the inhabitants not tremble?” And yet, the Tur points out (Orach Chaim, 581) that unlike most prisoners who are brought into court for their day of judgment in a state of disheveled despair, we are to wash, adorn and regally dress ourselves in preparation for Rosh Hashanah because we are so cheerfully confident of a positive verdict. Rabbi Lopian explains that both perspectives are indeed correct. From the standpoint of the individual, Rosh Hashanah is a terrifying day of judgment, as indicated in the words recited in the tear-inducing prayer “Unesaneh Tokef” – “a trembling and fright will seize them [the angels].” However, our confidence in approaching Rosh Hashanah is premised upon our knowledge that in our capacity as members of the entirety of the Jewish people, we will not be turned away.

But how do we truly internalize this powerful message? Outside of mouthing the words on Yom Kippur and combining the four minim of the lulav together on Sukkos, are we in fact uniting with all Jews, including them in our thoughts, prayers and deeds? Do we view ourselves as part of a larger Klal Yisroel that transcends our immediate communities, schools and synagogues?

In recent decades, we have witnessed a resurgence of the Orthodox Jewish community. The growth of families and communities is a wonderful sign of communal success. We should all express our tremendous gratitude for the gifts that have been bestowed upon us, rebuilding from the ashes of the Holocaust, and creating new life for the multitudes of Jewish families that suffered devastation and destruction. I remember feeling the powerful sensation at the recent Siyum HaShas of capturing just a small glimpse – an “echad b’shishim” (one-sixtieth measure), as one of the speakers essentially put it – of the grandeur and splendor of what we lost. The presence of Rav Yisroel Meir Lau, a Holocaust survivor, as a keynote speaker at the event, only underscored this overwhelming emotion.

Rabbi Yona Reiss

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