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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Mattan Torah’

Our Holy Visitors

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Sukkos comes to us as a beautifully wrapped gift from Hashem, right when we can use some pampering. Having just completed an exhaustive round of appeals to our Father in heaven to forgive our iniquities and grant us yet another chance to prove ourselves worthy of His beneficence and mercy, we emerge as newborns – clean and pure and free of the stain of sin.

An infant upon birth is immediately swaddled in blankets to protect it from the sudden change in temperature of its new confines. At the conclusion of Yom Kippur we are forgiven our transgressions and likened to a newborn; hence Hashem protects us with the sukkah, shielding our newly acquired holiness from becoming sullied by the vulgarities that surround us.

How apropos to celebrate a new beginning by inviting our elite leaders, our role models from time immemorial, to join us in the Sukkah. Enter the Ushpizin (Aramaic for guests) – the seven holy shepherds who blazed the trails for us to walk in, whose merits we invoke for our benefit at every turn in life.

The luminaries that comprise the Ushpizin are Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Moshe, Aharon, Yosef and Dovid, each representing one of Hashem’s divine attributes and each possessing a spiritual essence uniquely his own, along with the combined middos – the character traits – of them all.

Avraham Avinu represents the divine attribute of chesed (kindness) and is the epitome of the perfect host. He has served as our model for the mitzvah of hachnassas orchim ever since he invited the angels to “sit under the tree.”

According to a fascinating midrash, it is as a result of this gesture that Avraham’s children were rewarded with the mitzvah of sukkah. Shedding light on the correlation, the Zohar teaches that Avraham Avinu’s intent when inviting the malachim to rest beneath the tree was to teach his guests (the angels disguised as mortals) that one is to place Hashem before him always. The seven days during which we are commanded to sit in the sukkah correspond to the human lifespan of seventy years – during which time our every act and deed, physical or spiritual in nature, is to be done l’shem shamayim, for the sake of heaven. (Alshich HaKadosh)

Yitzchak Avinu represents the divine attribute of gevurah (strength). Who can possibly begin to fathom the remarkable strength of a young man who had allowed himself to be bound by his father, in readiness to be offered as sacrificial lamb to God per divine instruction? Their complete submission to the will of Hashem attests to both father’s and son’s unerring faith in their Creator. Their actions have spoken for all eternity and have achieved atonement for our weaknesses and failings time and time again.

Yaakov Avinu is aptly accredited with the divine attribute of tiferes (beauty). By integrating the qualities of his father (gevurah) and his grandfather (chesed), Yaakov managed to achieve the perfect blend of character traits to qualify him as progenitor of the twelve tribes of Israel.

Following Yaakov’s defeat of Eisav’s ministering angel, Hashem named him Yisrael – which contains the words yashar (straight, upright) and Kel (one of God’s names), thus validating Yaakov’s uprightness in his service of Hashem.

Moshe Rabbeinu, whose legacy lives on in teachers of Torah throughout the generations, personifies the divine attribute of netzach (eternity). The mere mention of Moshe Rabbeinu invokes the trait of humility. Yet if he was truly “more humble than any man on earth,” how is it that he did not have an issue with being summoned to ascend to the top of Mount Sinai to accept the Torah as an intermediary between God and the Jewish nation? Shouldn’t he have protested “Who am I to go…?” as he did when Hashem told him to approach Pharaoh?

Moshe knew Hashem had chosen the smallest mount for Mattan Torah and rationalized that it was fitting for him, as the smallest Jew, to be mekabel the Torah on the smallest mount. (Kedushas Levi)

Aharon HaKohen, bestowed with the majesty of the kehunah by the Almighty Himself, represents the divine attribute of hod (glory). The role of kohen gadol was most suitable for Aharon, whose love for his fellow man was legendary. He was close to the people and genuinely took their troubles to heart. As one who took upon himself the tza’ar of Klal Yisrael and constantly prayed that their burdens be lightened, he was the perfect candidate to wear on his heart the choshen – the breastplate that depicted the twelve tribes of Israel via precious gemstones set upon the woven square. (Be’er Mayim Chaim)

To Teach, To Learn, To Repent

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

There is an urgency in the two Torah commandments whose obligation is constant and ever-present: to learn Torah and to repent. The Torah is clear about this urgency in the Shema: “These words, which I command you this day, make them as a sign upon your heart and between your eyes ”

Our Sages comment that the word hayom, “this day,” means “the Torah should be ever fresh in your mind, as though you received the Torah today.” As for the duty to repent, Rambam teaches, “A man should always regard himself as if his death were imminent and he might die this very hour, while still in a state of sin. He should therefore repent of his sins immediately and not say, ‘When I grow old I shall repent,’ for he may die before he becomes old.”

This matter of days and Torah is fresh in our minds as we conclude Sefirat Ha’Omer and anticipate the coming of Shavuot, for what more concrete example of the importance of Torah and the power of days than the counting down from the end of Pesach to the Chag Mattan Torah?

Yet despite our celebration of the revelation at Sinai, the chag is not named in the Torah. How can we not be intrigued by this omission of the name of the day toward which we ultimately count – Chag Shavuot – or better yet Chag Mattan Torah, the holiday of the giving of the Torah?

“And you shall count for yourselves from the morrow of the Sabbath, from the day-you brought the sheaf of wave-offering, seven complete Sabbaths: Even unto the morrow of theseventh Sabbath You shall count fifty days . . .”

Why not simply inform us to count toward the significant date of Mattan Torah? Why doesn’t the Torah find it important to communicate that this counting is not merely related to Pesach, but rather that this day on which we received the Torah is worthy in its own right?

The Talmud considers Shavuot to be the culmination of Pesach, not a chag in its own right. Does this diminish the power of that day at Sinai? Not at all. It is simply that the commemoration of the giving of the Torah must not be limited to a particular time. It applies at all times. This day is each and every day. As it is written, “This day the Lord thy God hath commanded thee to do these statutes and judgments.”

Every day is Yom Mattan Torah. Every day the excitement, enthusiasm, and vigor of being a committed and learned Jew must be renewed and reinforced. It is with this understanding that the Keli Yakar found significance in the Torah’s use of the phrase Vehikravtem mincha chadasha – “and you shall offer a new offering” – in regard to Shavuot. Each and every day the Torah must be received anew, just as if it were received from Sinai each and every day.

The joy and satisfaction of Torah study must not be limited to special days or occasions. It is to be ongoing, continually renewed and continually renewing. Torah study must always spiritually excite and emotionally uplift. It is for this reason the Keli Yakar says the same enthusiasm and ecstasy that occurred at the Revelation at Sinai must be searched for and found every day.

The Keli Yakar posits the same rationale for the Torah’s omission of the name Rosh Hashanah and its direct association with din and repentance. Should a man sin all year round and think of repenting only as he comes closer to Yom Hadin, when God sits in judgment? No. Rather, he should imagine that God sits in judgment recording his deeds every day. If he can think this way, he will continually engage in repentance.

Analysis, reflection, and introspection must be an everyday experience. For the thoughtful Jew every­ day is a Yom Mattan Torah and Yom Hadin. Such an attitude might also help us understand Lag B’Omer, the thirty-third day of the counting of the Omer when, according to the Talmud, the plague that caused the death of 24,000 disciples of Rabbi Akiva ended.

Some 24,000 brilliant young scholars – lost! Our Sages ask why so many died. According to Talmudic and midrashic sources, they died because they did not sufficiently respect one another. Their scholarship, Torah learning, and erudition were taken for granted. For them, Torah learning was pursued as any other knowledge, without an excitement, en­thusiasm, and fire resulting in new insights, renewed motivation, and novel ideas. They reveled in their Torah brilliance rather than the brilliance of Torah.

Title: Redemption to Redemption: The VERY Deep & Intricate Connection Between the Holidays Purim and Pesach

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Title: Redemption to Redemption: The VERY Deep & Intricate Connection Between the Holidays Purim and Pesach


Author: Rabbi Pinchas Winston


Publisher: Thirtysix.org


 


 


   Remember to breathe as you read Redemption to Redemption: The VERY Deep & Intricate Connection Between the Holidays Purim and Pesach. The enlightening ideas presented by author Rabbi Pinchas Winston will boggle your mind. They’re the stuff of terrific discussions in any Jewish setting.

 

   Learn why Haman cleverly chose to build a gallows specifically 50 amot high in order to destroy not only Mordechai HaTzadik, but also the entire Jewish people. He was no fool. You won’t be either after reading that passage. You’ll also realize, with the author’s help, why we celebrate Purim only in the Adar sheini of Jewish leap years.

 

   Leaping right into the topic of geula (redemption) do you know why the nun sha’arei binah, the 50 Gates of Understanding, predicate eternal Jewish freedom? Care to learn why that’s relevant to the 50-amot courtyard outside the Mishkan?

 

   Can you explain the ever-higher levels of consciousness that a Jew attains by reaching pardes? And just what sort of orchard is that place, anyway? Balak and Bilaam knew, and this book explains why they invested great effort in cursing the Jewish nation. Hint: it all comes down to the exalted state of unity among the klal at Mattan Torah and the intellectual state that precedes such achdut. Hoshea understood the phenomenon. After reading this book, you can, too.

 

   Most Jews learn that Amalek represented cynicism, the polar opposite of Torah’s eternally positive point of view. Read Redemption to Redemption and learn why this makes Amalek relevant to the manna that fell from Heaven to nourish Jews in the desert. A few paragraphs later, you’ll understand why the power and gift of speech have so much in common with the lessons of Parshat HaMan, too.

 

   As the chapters leave Purim and delve into Pesach, readers will grow wide-eyed with wonder while considering the stunning act of chesed and damage control that Yosef achieved with his somewhat dysfunctional brothers. The life-saving importance of his exemplary behavior is a lesson for the ages: Appearances can conceal or reveal the truth. Yosef teaches us throughout the millennia that anyone associated with Torah life should strive for truth.

 

   Redemption to Redemption comes in spiral-bound or PDF formats exclusively through www.thirtysix.org. Answers as to how we Jews can actualize the geula appear in both versions of the book, covering material from Pri Tzadik Parshat Balak 3 to much of the vast world of genuine Jewish literature.

 

   Rabbi Winston has devoted his adult life studying and teaching these lessons. His time has been well spent. It can save generations of Jews from making misguided choices.

 

   The book offers a superb look at the deeper meanings of Torah life. It bears haskamah from Jerusalem’s Rabbi Mordechai Friedlander. Redemption to Redemption: The VERY Deep & Intricate Connection Between the Holidays Purim and Pesach belongs in shuls, homes and educational institutions for every age.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/title-redemption-to-redemption-the-very-deep-intricate-connection-between-the-holidays-purim-and-pesach/2009/03/04/

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