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Moshe's blessing to the nation of Israel is interesting in that a similar blessing, which Hashem had given Avraham and Yizchak, had already been fulfilled. Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, observes that among the greastest blessings is abundant offspring, and therefore this blessing was particularly auspicious – even the third time around.
On Tisha B’Av, we mourn over the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash, over the destruction of Jerusalem, and over being exiled from our Land. Unfortunately, because of the great length and darkness of the exile, there is a totally mistaken and distorted understanding of what exile is. Instead of experiencing it as a terrible punishment, it is all too often experienced as fun.
Question: I was taught that due to our state of mourning on Tisha B’Av, we are not allowed to learn or discuss Torah – a topic that makes us happy and weakens our mournful state. Why, then, are we allowed to read from the Torah at Shacharit and Mincha on Tisha B’Av? Also, does the halacha of not learning apply to a regular mourner as well? Menachem (Via E-Mail)
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis, This is the most painful letter I’ve ever written. I’ve been through many horrific experiences. My parents were survivors of the Holocaust; they were shattered people. I know you will understand this since you too are a Holocaust survivor.
I’d like to believe that I at least have average intelligence. And when in need of inspiration or to learn something to facilitate my personal growth, I gain much from adult tapes and books. I’m greatly inspired by the words of the plethora of writers and speakers who target their words to adult audiences; their sentence structure and vocabulary meant only for us grownups. Their valuable lessons are often arrived at through a series of logical steps any adult with reasonable intelligence should be able to follow. And follow I do.
The story is told of a Chassidic Rebbe who stayed one night in the attic of a simple farmer. Promptly at chatzos (midnight) the Rebbe sat on the floor and began saying Tikkun Chatzos (a prayer said most nights by pious individuals, mourning the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash.) Immediately, a fountain of tears began to flow from his eyes, as he unabashedly mourned our great loss. Soon, his crying became so loud that it aroused the farmer and his wife from their sleep. The concerned farmer quickly knocked on the door and asked if everything is okay. The Rebbe answered that he is simply mourning the Bais Hamikdash.
“Pinchas Ben Elazar Ben Aharon the kohen turned away my wrath from upon the sons of Israel by his zeal for my sake in their midst; and I did not bring destruction upon the sons of Israel because of my jealousy. Therefore, say, behold, I give to him my covenant of peace” (25:11-2). This is a special proclamation of acclaim. Though Moshe certainly approved of Pinchas, Hashem here teaches the necessity to render public recognition to the righteous.
In the aftermath of the episode of Zimri and the Midianite women, Hashem struck down 24,000 Jews. Yet immediately afterward, Hashem reaffirmed his tremendous love for Israel. Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, explains that this is in character with Hashem's quality of chastising severely the nation he loves so dearly.
Dear Hashem, I am writing to you because I am very confused. I am going through a hard time in my life right now. Over the last few years, there have been many times that I’ve felt my world was crashing down. I’ve felt a lot of pain and distress lately. Therefore, I am asking You why have You done this? What did I do to deserve some of the things that occur in my life?
How can it be that outstanding Torah scholars in Europe, before the Holocaust, and even after it started, were against the Zionist movement and told their congregations not to uproot themselves from where they were and flee to Eretz Yisrael? Even today, there are Torah leaders who tell their followers that the time has not come to go to Israel. The question arises – can Gedolim err?
I understand the feelings of the men who gathered at Citi Field to proclaim their united position against the Internet. The problem, as we know, is the proximity to filth that we can introduce into our lives whenever we open a browser window. Those who gathered at Citi Field want us to junk our computers because we tend to gravitate toward what is forbidden—and in huge, heartbreaking numbers.
The Gemara in Kiddushin 41b derives from a pasuk in this week’s parshah the concept of shelichus (acting on one’s behalf). The pasuk says, “kein tarimu gam atem terumas Hashem – so you too shall remove the terumah of Hashem.” The Gemara explains that the word gam (too) is superfluous; thus we draw from this that another person may remove terumah for you on your behalf.
In February, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled the Tal Law discriminatory and unconstitutional in a vote of six to three. The law, which provides exemptions for young men studying in yeshiva full time, has been the subject of much criticism and controversy.
At the conclusion of this week’s parshah, the Torah writes about the mekoshesh eitzim – the individual who desecrated Shabbos in the midbar by gathering wood. The pasuk says that since it was uncertain what the halacha was concerning one who is mechallel Shabbos, the mekoshesh was placed in custody until Hashem gave instructions as to what to do. Hashem then told Moshe Rabbeinu that the man is to be put to death by stoning; and so he was.
One aspect of Divine Justice stipulates that through the decisions we make we help shape the world around us. Good deeds bring in their wake positive outcomes and the reverse is also true. In the mitzvah of the Second Pesach (Pesach Sheni), Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, develops this understanding and finds that Hashem manipulated history specifically for the purpose of making such outcomes happen.
The Bible introduces us to many fascinating and inspiring personalities, righteous men and women whose example of piety continue to guide and uplift us to this very day. There are some, however, to whom we can relate in an especially powerful way and whom we can truly strive to emulate.