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August 29, 2014 / 3 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘purpose’

Understand The Ways Of Hashem

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

The truth is sometimes unpopular or uncomfortable. Thus, people who wish to dismiss the Hand of Hashem from history and human affairs may be taken aback by the assertion of Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, based on the beginning of this parshah, that the suffering that befalls Israel comes for a Divine purpose. Rabbi Miller finds this purpose explicit in the opening words of Bechukosai, and observes that this “wish” (to dismiss the Hand of Hashem from history) is not a Jewish way of thinking.

“If you shall walk in My statutes” (26:3). The following promises and admonitions are called a “covenant” (bris). At the end of the Tochechah in Devarim it is stated: “These are the words of the Covenant which Hashem commanded Moshe to cut [i.e. to make] with the sons of Israel in the land of Moab, beside the Covenant which He cut with them at Horeb” (Devarim 28:69).

The Covenant at Horeb is this Tochechah of the book of Vayikra. The Covenant was made not only for the episodes of the First Destruction and of the Second Destruction. The purpose of Hashem in these portions of the Torah is clear: whenever any calamities have come upon the nation, or upon some part of the nation, the people of Hashem’s Torah must attribute these misfortunes to the disapproval of Hashem: “If you will not hearken to Me, and you shall not fulfill all of these commandments” (26:14).

Certainly if the nations of the world are the messengers of misfortune they are held guilty; but to attribute the calamity to our enemies and to ignore the Ruler of the World as the sole true author of all that transpires is a breach of the Covenant and a contradiction of the Torah. We today are not capable of discerning the sins of our ancestors, but our ancestors themselves declared in the Scriptures and in the Talmud the misdeeds for which these disasters were visited upon them.

The tendency today to omit the Hand of Hashem and to dwell solely on the guilt of the enemies of Israel is a direct contradiction to these two very prominently stated Covenants. To shrug off the very great calamities of our time by saying “We cannot understand the ways of Hashem” is actually a concealed form of the atheistic attitudes that have seeped in from the outside world. “And it shall be, when all these matters shall come upon you, the blessing and the curse that I have put before you, and you put this to your heart, among all the nations where Hashem your G-d has driven you” (Devarim 30:1).

“And many evils and troubles will come upon them; and he shall say on that day: ‘Have not these evils come upon us because our G-d is not in our midst?’ ” (ibid. 31:17). “Take this book of the Torah… that it be there a witness against you” (ibid. 31:26). In addition to this purpose of the ensuing parshah as a post- facto testimony, it is certainly intended also as a stimulus to virtue and to Fear of Hashem. “I said: surely you will fear Me; you will take correction” (Zefaniah 3:7). By reading this parshah properly, we can be spared the experiences which are there foretold.

It is noteworthy that all the rewards for compliance with the Torah are solely in this life. The Rambam (Teshuvah 9:1) explains that the promises of happiness in this life are not intended as the ultimate reward but are promises of opportunity to accomplish more good deeds and to gain more merit. Similarly, the retribution of unhappiness which is foretold for transgression of virtue is not the ultimate punishment, which is in the Afterlife; but Hashem foretells the loss of opportunity to accomplish righteous deeds due to various forms of suffering.

Thus it is said: “The reward for a mitzvah is a mitzvah, and the reward for a transgression is [another] transgression” (Avos 4:2), because he who seeks to do mitzvos is rewarded with opportunity to do more; and this is the greatest of rewards, as is said: ” Better one moment of Torah and good deeds in this world more than all the life of the World to Come” (ibid. 4:17).

Lost And Found In Jerusalem

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

“Mum, you’ll never guess what happened.” My daughter Tammy’s tone of voice at the other end of the phone indicated that it wasn’t something pleasant.

“Someone took my baby stroller from the bus. When I went to pick it up and get off the bus, it wasn’t there any more. I couldn’t believe it. Who would do such a thing?”

“Oh, I’m sure it wasn’t taken on purpose,” I said. “Someone was probably in a hurry and took the wrong one by mistake. I’m sure you’ll get it back again soon.”

“Mum, I’d really like to think you’re right. But it can’t have happened by mistake. You see, I was the only person on the bus with a stroller. I was only on the bus a short time. I got on only a few stops from my house, and the bus was almost empty and there was no other stroller there,” my daughter said. “And when I came to get off – no stroller. The bus driver and I searched all over the bus in case it had rolled to another corner or something, but it had definitely been taken.”

I didn’t know what to say. I really wanted to think it had been a mistake. I’ve always tried so hard to dan lekaf zechus and judge others favorably, while encouraging my children to do the same. But this incident needed more imagination than most. With five young children, the money for a new stroller would be difficult to find. So Tammy didn’t give up searching for it.

For a few weeks she searched the local newsletter that is distributed around our neighborhood. She scoured the lost and found column just in case it had been taken inadvertently. But nothing.

She eventually bought a second hand stroller to replace the original one, as it was simply too difficult to manage without one and it certainly seemed that the lost one was gone for good.

A week later, Tammy called me. “Mum, you’ll never guess what I saw stuck on the bus stop outside our house today. [It was] a notice which said, ‘A baby stroller was taken off the 52 bus by mistake on November 15. Please call ________ to get it back.’ ”

“Oh, wow. So did you call?”

“Of course. I was dying to know what had happened, and also why it took so long. I mean, if they were going to put up a notice why wait so many weeks?”

It appeared that when the incident occurred, two young women carrying children got off the bus at the stop after my daughter had gotten on. A schoolgirl and an old man also got off. As the bus drove away the schoolgirl noticed that the stroller was still sitting abandoned at the bus stop and the two women were walking down the road with their children.

She ran after them with the stroller, thinking that one of them had forgotten it. But when she caught up with them and asked them about it, they both said it didn’t belong to them. Obviously what must have happened was that the old man had tried to be helpful and had taken it off the bus, thinking it belonged to one of them.

By now the bus had disappeared in the distance, so one of the mothers took the stroller home with her.

The following day she contacted Egged, the local bus company, and explained what had happened. She asked that if anyone called to report a missing stroller, they should be given her telephone number.

But Tammy never reported it missing to Egged, as she was certain that it hadn’t been left on the bus. Egged’s Lost and Found Department deals with items that were forgotten on buses. But the whole point was that the stroller had been taken off the bus, not left on it.

The young mother also contacted the local neighborhood newsletter, asking that it be listed among the lost and found items. What she didn’t know was that there are so many items requested for that list; thus the newsletter’s editor limits the number published every week. (It can take months for a particular item to appear. The stroller had never appeared on the list.)

J.E. Dyer: Academia – Pro-Palestinians behaving badly

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

No, this wasn’t in the West Bank.  This happened in London on Monday, 14th May.  The Palestine Society of the University of London’s School of Oriental and Asian Studies (SOAS) held an event at the Khalili Lecture Theatre, advertised with these words: “I am Palestinian!  Representation and Democracy in the Arab Revolutionary Age.”  The event was open to the public, and – as is often the case – was being videorecorded by people in the audience.

Blogger Richard Millett was one of those using a video camera – for the first few minutes.  About 8 seconds into the presentation, Millett was prodded in the shoulder and ordered to stop recording.  When he refused, a man got in his face, demanding he stop recording, and said, “You’re a typical Israeli, you know.”  (Millett is not an Israeli, and it’s not even clear he’s Jewish.  I have no personal acquaintance with him.)  As that confrontation unfolded, a very large man seated in front of Millett got up, towered over Millett, ordered him to leave, and snatched Millett’s backpack, walking out of the auditorium with it.  The audience began rhythmic clapping, shouting at Millett to leave.  Millett tried to make the case for his presence at a meeting open to the public, being held at the taxpayer funded University of London facility, but the audience continued to shout at him – noise for noise’s sake; noise to drown him out and preempt any rational discourse.

Eventually, Millett did leave, in part to ensure the recovery of his personal belongings.  The audience clapped ecstatically for his departure.

If you go through Richard Millett’s website, what you will see is documentation of a number of such events (most of which he was able to remain and record throughout).  Millett is critical, no doubt about that, but all he does is document exactly what the anti-Israel – and often anti-Semitic – activists and lecturers themselves do and say.  He quotes them accurately and gets them on video when he can.  There is nothing unfair about his coverage; it is scrupulously honest.

The University of London should certainly look into this, and ensure that public events can be attended peacefully by anyone, and that videorecording is allowed to all or denied to all equally.  Such enforcement may have little effect, however, on a group mindset that resents not merely criticism but the simple truth.  If a civic or political group, meeting publicly, is not willing to have its activities and statements recorded truthfully by critics, its purpose is suspect.  Forcible suppression of truth only works one way:  those who practice it have wrong intentions.  There can be no good purpose for preventing third parties – i.e., the whole of society, whether friendly or critical – from seeing what is said and done at a public event sponsored by the Palestine Society.

The flip side of preventing the coverage of pro-Palestinian events is silencing supporters of Israel and those who make a pro-Israel – or even just a balanced – case in the matter of Israeli-Palestinian relations.  College campuses in the United States are the scene of a growing number of such attempts.

Quite a few of the most noteworthy have taken place in California (although by no means all.  On a slightly different head, see here for a Rutgers event to which putative Israel supporters were denied entry, based on blatant profiling by the sponsors.  And here for the attacks on Israel supporters who mounted political displays at UCLA and Penn State).  Back in 2010, writers for the American Thinker summarized a series of events at California universities at which critical or pro-Israel speech was shouted down – including an event made infamous for this exclamation by Dr. Jess Ghannam, a psychiatry professor at UC-San Francisco (emphasis added): “Now, every single Israeli military official and politician will be afraid to speak publicly. It’s huge!”

In a similar vein, Israeli soldiers giving a presentation at UC-Davis in March 2012 were relentlessly heckled by Palestinian-activist students.  One accused the Israelis of having turned “Palestine into a land of prostitutes, rapists, and child molesters.”  He hollered at the soldiers (emphasis added): “How many women have you raped?  How many children have you raped?  You are a child molester!”  And he admitted freely: “I can embarrass myself all I want.  I will stand here and I will heckle!  My only purpose today is that this event is shut down!”

Parashat Emor: Learning Compassion

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

The Talmud tells us that compassion is one of the three traits that distinguish the nation of Israel (the others are shame and kindness). The Torah abounds with commandments that exercise this quality, and Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, explains that they are given for exactly that purpose. Among these commandments are those that protect the welfare of animals. About these, Rabbi Miller explains that the true compassion we must learn is not for the animal but for ourselves.

“And an ox or a sheep, him and his son you shall not slaughter on the same day” (22:28).

This applies solely to cattle, sheep and goats but not to non-domestic animals, even the permissible species.

“If one should pray: ‘You, Hashem, are merciful even to the nest of a bird,’ we bid him be silent” (Berachos 33b). Two reasons are given: 1) He explains the mitzvah as a mercy, but the release of the mother bird is a decree of Hashem which we fulfill as His servants and our intention is only to serve Him. 2) If the purpose was compassion, the same law should apply also to deer.

Hashem does not need our agency for mercy upon the mother bird, and He Himself can bestow His mercies without our aid. He gave us mitzvos to do His will, which is the highest achievement of mankind. Therefore we serve Him out of gratitude to our Creator. But the Creator gave us the mitzvos (which we do solely to serve Him) with the intention that we refine ourselves by means of His service (Vayikra Rabbah 13:3).

“Rabbi Shimlai taught: Torah begins with the doing of kindness and concludes with the doing of kindness” (Sotah 14a), which implies that all that is between the beginning and the end is also for kindliness. But the kindliness of which Rabbi Shimlai speaks is actually the kindness of Hashem to us, because the study of Hashem’s Torah and the fulfillment of His precepts are the very greatest forms of Hashem’s kindliness to us. And we learn that while we gain the perfection of doing the will of Hashem, we are also at the same time acquiring more perfect qualities of character, of which this mitzvah is one example.

The law (22:27) that prohibits a korban less than eight days old applies solely to offerings. For ordinary use, if we know the gestation had been full term, it may be slaughtered as soon as it is born (Shabbos 136a); otherwise we wait until the eighth day. The second law, that the mother and the offspring should not be slaughtered on the same day, applies also to non-korbanos. In the first case, if he transgressed and slaughtered before the eighth day the animal is not permissible to be eaten. In the second case, if he slaughtered the mother and offspring on the same day, we may eat them (the shochet must wait until the following day).

This commandment forbids the slaughter of the offspring and its mother even many years after the birth, when animals have already lost any awareness of kinship. Thus we perceive that Hashem gave this law because of His compassion for us – for we humans would consider it cruel to slaughter both the parent and the offspring in one day, even though the animals themselves have already lost any emotions of kinship. Thus it becomes evident that these are not laws to protect the emotions of the animals but rather to train the holy people in the character trait of compassion upon all His creatures.

Compiled for The Jewish Press by the Rabbi Avigdor Miller Simchas Hachaim Foundation, a project of Yeshiva Gedolah Bais Yisroel, which Rabbi Miller, zt”l, founded and authorized to disseminate his work. Subscribe to the Foundation’s free e-mail newsletters on marriage, personal growth, and more at www.SimchasHachaim.com.
For more information, or to sponsor a Simchas Hachaim Foundation program, call 718-258-7400 or e-mail info@SimchasHachaim.com.

Residents of Samaria to US, Canadian, Donors: MDA Enemy of the Settlements

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

For more than half a year, the Samaria Residents Committee has been struggling against Magen David Adom following its agreement with the Red Cross, in which MDA has committed to remove the red Star of David symbols from ambulances serving Samarian towns, and to transfer medical authority in the district to the Palestinian Red Crescent. According to articles in Haaretz and Israel Army Radio, MDA also committed to blocking contributions coming from abroad to acquire ambulances in Judea and Samaria.

The Samaria Residents Committee published an ad in the North American weekend edition of the Jerusalem Post under the headline “Follow the money.” The ad informs potential MDA donors overseas of the damage the MDA agreement is causing settlement in Samaria, and notes that this is an unprecedented act of an Israeli national organization stating openly that it would block services to a large part of Israel’s population.

Benny Katzover, Chairman of the Samaria Residents Committee, told the website Datili that the ad’s purpose was to inform North American Jews of MDA’s behavior. The bulk of MDA donors in North America may not be aware that their money was stopped at the “green line” and that the organization they supported took part in curbing medical treatment of Israeli Jews.

Tzav: Holiness And Eating

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

The evil inclination likes to tempt us to indulge in material delights. It is important to know that these delights may have another purpose, too: kedushah (holiness).

As Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, explains, the fact that kohanim were commanded to consume the korbanos offered in the Temple reveals that eating itself has a highly spiritual function. When done in the right measure and with the right intentions, eating is very much an act of holiness and service of Hashem.

“In a holy place it shall be eaten, in the court of the Ohel Moed” (6:19).

Kadshe kadashim, the more sacred offerings, such as the chattas (and the asham – 7:6) are eaten only by kohanim and only in the Court of the Sanctuary.

Thus the Torah states, “It is holy of holies” here (6:18) and regarding the asham (7:6). The minchah also, as stated in 6:10-11, is holy of holies and is eaten by kohanim in the Court (6:9) of the Sanctuary. A very great principle is derived from this procedure: “The kohanim eat and (thereby) the owner gains atonement” (Pesachim 59b).

Actually, the atonement is completed at the sprinkling of the blood on the mizbeach; even the offering of the korban on the fire is an additional mitzvah, which if not fulfilled does not invalidate the korban. Yet the offering of the parts on the fire is indeed a very important part of the service, which has many details of laws and procedure.

Now we also learn that the eating on the part of the kohanim is one of the forms of offering the korban; and like the offerings on the fire, that which is eaten also enhances the quality of the atonement. When the kohen eats in the sacred precincts, he becomes an altar; and the physical pleasure of ingesting the sacred offering is compared to the fire on the mizbeach. Certainly, he should eat with holy intention. But he may not swallow pieces that are not chewed because achilah gasah (an abnormal manner of eating) is against Torah law. He must chew and enjoy the sacred food, and despite the unavoidable pleasure he adds the intention of the service of the offering to Hashem.

Let us not underestimate the value of Hashem’s teachings. The fact that we, “the nation of kohanim” (Shemos 1 9:6) eat matzah on Pesach night with appetite is not a blemish on our mitzvah; on the contrary, we are admonished to refrain from much food during the day in order to eat the matzah with more appetite (Pesachim 99b) “because it is an honor for the mitzvah” (RSHI). The body of the kohen is sacred enough to consume kadshei kadashim but the body of every Israelite is also endowed with such holiness that it may consume kadashim kalim such as shlamim and todah and similar sacrifices.

The Sages derived even more from this principle: “He that desires to pour wine-offerings on the altar, let him fill the throats of talmidei chachamim with wine” (Yoma 71a). We learn the extremely valuable principle that eating with proper intention is a service to Hashem, and may even be considered as a form of kedushah (Mesillas Yesharim Ch. 26). In this are two elements: 1) the holy Intention, 2) and the holiness of the body of the eater.

The karbanos of lesser degree (shlamim, todah, and maaser b’hemah), which all Israelites could eat, were however permissible to eat only in Jerusalem: “And you shall bring there your olos and your z’vachirn and your maasros…and you shall eat there before Hashem your G-d” (Devarim 12:5). Thus even when the Israelite eats of the korban he is performing a holy service and therefore it must be done before Hashem.

Compiled for The Jewish Press by the Rabbi Avigdor Miller Simchas Hachaim Foundation, a project of Yeshiva Gedolah Bais Yisroel, which Rabbi Miller, zt”l, founded and authorized to disseminate his work. Subscribe to the Foundation’s free e-mail newsletters on marriage, personal growth, and more at www.SimchasHachaim.com.

For more information, or to sponsor a Simchas Hachaim Foundation program, call 718-258-7400 or e-mail info@SimchasHachaim.com.

Iron Dome Deployed in Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area

Monday, March 26th, 2012

The Israeli Air Force has deployed an Iron Dome anti-missile system battery in the greater Tel Aviv area.

The battery was deployed in central Israel for training and operational purpose, and is expected to stay in the area for few days. “The Iron Dome system is in the process of operational absorption, during which a battery will be placed from time to time in different places across the country,” the IDF said in a statement.

Such “operational absorptions” have also taken place in Haifa and Jerusalem. The battery’s deployment to the Tel Aviv area was scheduled to take place in early March, but was postponed due to the escalation of hostilities with Gaza.

There are currently three operational and actively deployed batteries, which are meant for deployment in the south of Israel, while the fourth battery is expected to become fully operational next week, and is intended for the Tel Aviv area.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/iron-dome-deployed-in-tel-aviv-metropolitan-area/2012/03/26/

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