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October 30, 2014 / 6 Heshvan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Rosh Chodesh Adar’

Q & A: The Arba Parshiyot (Conclusion)

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Question: Why do we read four special Torah sections between Purim and Pesach. Also, why do we call each of the four Shabbatot on which we read these sections by a special name – such as Shabbat Shekalim, Shabbat Zachor etc.?

Celia Gluck
(Via E-Mail)

Answer: Last week we discussed the origin of weekly Torah readings and the additional arba parshiyot sections that we read beginning on the Shabbat preceding the first of Adar through the Shabbat preceding the first of Nissan. The four Shabbatot are Shabbat Shekalim, Shabbat Zachor, Shabbat Parah, and Shabbat HaChodesh.

* * *

Let us examine each of the arba parshiyot, and what our Sages have said about them. The first of the four parshiyot is Parshat Shekalim, which deals with the half-shekel coin given by every Jewish male of a certain age. The Torah (Exodus 30:11-16) states that this served two purposes. First, it served to count the Jewish people in an indirect fashion (since counting them directly may have caused the evil eye to plague them [Rashi ad loc.]). Second, it served as an atonement. Rashi (ad loc.) explains that some of that money was used for the communal sacrifices offered on the altar throughout the year.

The first mishnah in J.T. Shekalim (1:1) states, “On the first day of Adar [the bet din] would announce the shekalim contribution…” The Gemara asks, “Why on the first day of Adar?” It answers: “So that they will bring their shekalim in the proper time.”

The Rivan (Rabbenu Yehuda b. Binyamin HaRofeh) explains in his commentary (ad loc.) that the “proper time” is Rosh Chodesh Nissan, as the Gemara (B.T. Megillah 29b) explains concerning the verse (Numbers 28:14), “Zot olat chodesh bechadsho – This is the burnt offering sacrifice of each month in its month” – meaning the first of the month. Read this sentence as follows: “Chadesh – renew” from a new terumah (collection) the tamid and mussaf sacrifices brought on Rosh Chodesh Nissan. Acquire them with the new shekalim coins.

The Rivan then points out that the Gemara states (Pesachim 6a) that we should study the laws of Pesach 30 days before Pesach. He argues that we always should always prepare 30 days in advance. Therefore, since the shekalim collection was scheduled for Rosh Chodesh Nissan, we announce it 30 days prior, on Rosh Chodesh Adar. Hence, Parshat Shekalim is read on, or immediately prior to, Rosh Chodesh Adar. We may no longer have a Holy Temple, karbanot or a shekalim collection, but we still we read Parshat Shekalim to commemorate them.

Second on the calendar is Parshat Zachor, on which we read the verses in Deuteronomy 25:17-19 about Amalek: “Zachor et asher asah lecha Amalek baderech betzet’chem mimitzrayim – Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were leaving Egypt.” What did this nation do? The verse explains: “Asher karcha baderech va’yezanev becha kol ha’nechshalim acharecha ve’ata ayef ve’yage’a, velo yarei Elokim – He met you on the way and struck those of you who were hindmost, all the weak ones at your rear, when you were faint and exhausted, and he did not fear Hashem.”

The verse then instructs us, “Vehaya behani’ach Hashem Elokecha lecha mikol oy’vecha misaviv ba’aretz asher Hashem Elokecha noten lecha nachala lerishtah, timcheh et zecher Amalek mitachat hashamayim, lo tishkach – When Hashem your G-d has given you rest from all your enemies all around, in the land that Hashem your G-d gives you for an inheritance to possess it, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under the heavens; you shall not forget.”

Tosafot (Berachot 13a s.v. “b’lashon hakodesh ne’emra”) rules that the public reading of Parshat Zachor is a biblical requirement. Indeed, the Mechaber (Orach Chayim 685:7 citing “yesh omrim – some authorities”) codifies this as the halacha.

One might ask why Amalek deserves such a unique and severe punishment? Were there not other mortal enemies who fell upon our people? And yet, it is only Amalek that we are instructed to totally eradicate.

The answer is rather simple. Other nations that fought with us in the course of our entry into the land of Canaan were nations whom we were to displace when we entered the Promised Land. They fought us because they viewed their battles as a matter of survival. However, Amalek, a grandson of Edom (Esav), had no need to attack us. Hashem had commanded us not to conquer or harm Edom, Moab and Ammon since they were the children of Esav (Abraham’s grandson) and Lot (Abraham’s nephew) and their lands were their own by right of inheritance. Nonetheless, Amalek attacked us and thus sealed their destiny – eventual destruction and obliteration.

A mishnah (in Megillah 29a) explains that if Rosh Chodesh Adar falls on a Shabbat, we read Parshat Shekalim on that Shabbat. However, if rosh chodesh falls in the middle of the week, we read Parshat Shekalim on the Shabbat preceding rosh chodesh. The next week we don’t read any additional Torah section, and we resume with Parshat Zachor on the Shabbat after that. Rashi s.v. “Umafsikin le’shabbat haba’ah” explains that we endeavor to read Parshat Zachor on the Shabbat just before Purim in order to connect the eradication of Amalek with the downfall of Haman.

My Machberes

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Rosh Chodesh With The Igud

For the past twenty-one years the Igud Horabbonim-Rabbinical Alliance of America, led by its president, Rabbi Abraham B. Hecht, has been convening Torah conferences every rosh chodesh. The conferences were inaugurated by the late Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, zt”l.

At the conferences, member rabbis – who lead congregations, educational institutions and religious organization – review various Torah challenges facing the community, with two member rabbis, each a respected scholar, sharing their insights.

Immediately after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the Igud convened and heard from Rabbi Yisroel Belsky (may Heaven grant him a refuah shleima bimiheira), rosh yeshiva Torah Vodaath, Rabbi Herschel Kurzrock, Igud rosh beis din; and Rabbi Aaron Dov Brisman, chief rabbi of Philadelphia, on how to properly handle issues pertaining to widows of those killed that terrible day.

When the Indian hair sheitel and New York City water issues arose in 2004, the Igud invited leading poskim to review and present all applicable halachic perspectives. Kashrus problems are discussed in detail by, among others, Rabbi Moshe Y. Weiner, rabbinic administrator of both the Kosher Information Center (KIC-Flatbush) and the Kosher Information Service (KIS-Boro Park).

Rosh Chodesh Adar 5772/2012

The Igud convened its Rosh Chodesh Adar 5772 Torah Conference at Beis Medrash Tiferes Yechezkel-Beled, in Boro Park, on Wednesday evening, February 22, with the participation of Rabbi Yonah Metzger, chief rabbi of Israel and author of Kanfei Yonah, together with more than 100 participants. This writer, as Igud menahel and chairman, called upon Rabbi Yehoshua Yonason Lustig, Igud dayan, to lead the assembled in recitation of Tehillim on behalf of our gedolim in need of Divine intervention.

The elegantly catered dinner was provided by Binyamin Barber, widely known as Ben Barber, celebrated shirt maker and linen industry leader. Reb Binyamin, brother-in-law of the Beleder Rav, is an important community statesman who uses his many connections on behalf of the observant community.

The Beleder Rav

Rabbi Yosef Toiseg, Beleder Rav and author of Aderes Yosef, delivered warm divrei Torah to the conference. He is the son of Rabbi Yechezkel Toiseg, zt”l (1917-1972), author of Tiferes Yechezkel; son of Rabbi Yisroel Toiseg, zt”l (1889-1967), Matersdorfer Rebbe and author of Beis Yisroel; son-in-law of Rabbi Yosef Pressberger, zt”l (d. 1924), Matersdorfer rosh beis din and author of Tiferes Yosef. Rabbi Yechezkel was the son-in-law of Rabbi Shmuel Tapelinsky, zt”l, author of Kuntros Hatzevo’ah.

Kobersdorfer Rav, Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum, Beleder Rav.

The Beleder Rav’s grandfather, the Beis Yisroel, devoted the eighth volume of his masterwork to insights on the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, authored by Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried, zt”l (1804-1886), Ungvarer rosh beis din and prolific author. In addition, Rabbi Bunim Yoel Toiseg, zt”l (1927-2007), son and succeeding Matersdorfer Rebbe, authored the three-volume Tiferes Bunim on the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch. In 2002, Rabbi Nachum Zvi Josephy, zt”l (1940-2003), rav of Beis Medrash Hagadol of Boro Park and vice president of the Igud Horabbonim, organized the building of the first ohel upon the gravesite of Rabbi Ganzfried. The ohel was recently expanded to accommodate the many that come to pray there.

The Beleder beis medrash is also home to Kollel Zichron Ephraim Fishel, led by the Beleder Rav. Its recent melaveh malkah dinner had the participation of leading chassidishe rebbes, rabbis, and roshei yeshiva, including the Kosover Rebbe, Burshtiner Rebbe, Chuster Rebbe, Zidichover Rebbe and the Pupa Rebbe of Boro Park. Melaveh Malkah guest of honor was Nachman Wasserlauf.

Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger

Rabbi Yonah Metzger, the sixth chief rabbi of the State of Israel, delivered a delightful explanation of perplexing wording in the megillah. Though the official position of chief rabbi dates back only to the formation of the State of Israel in 1948, the position in essence traces back to Yavneh and Pumbadisa, to Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, to Hillel and Shamai, and, ultimately, to Moshe Rabbeinu. The restoration of the State of Israel and the resulting recreation of the Chief Rabbinate is a return to the mighty glory of the Torah.

Award Presentation (l to r): Chief Rabbi Metzger, Douglas Jablon, Ben Barber, Rabbi Michoel Chazan, Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum, Beleder Rav.

To Serve As Chaplain

Together with Douglas Jablon, vice president of Patient Relations & Volunteer Services at Maimonides Medical Center, and Rabbi Yitzchok Fleischer, bikur cholim pioneer, the chief rabbi presented an Avodas Hakodesh Award from the Igud to Rabbi Michoel Chazan, chaplain of the Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, in recognition of his major achievements in chaplaincy training and certification for Orthodox rabbis. Graduates of Rabbi Chazan’s efforts reside across America.

Kosher Law Enforcement In Poland And New York

In Krakow, Poland, 17 trainees were awarded certificates last month on their successful kashrus seminar completion. The seminar was conducted by Rabbi Dov Landau, kosher certification officer in Bnei Brak, and Rabbi Mordechai Yosef Shudrich, chief rabbi of Poland. This was the first such event since before the Holocaust and is an indication of the increase in kosher food production in Poland.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 4/03/09

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Esther – An Update (Part 4)

Dear Readers,

Last week’s update of the unpredictable turns in Esther’s life of late had us fluctuating between highs and lows. As we revisited the tense days of a few months ago when Jewish children overseas were at war with their enemy, we identified with Esther’s anguish. Thankfully, in large part to her devoted son, she soon bounced back to recapture the glowing essence of the light that was finally shining her way.

In last week’s column, we just barely touched on the many lessons we can glean from Esther’s story and cited as an example her employer of many years who had always been a mensch but who had now performed an ultimate chesed – extending to his devoted employee a parting gift of six months pay to help smooth the way for a new beginning in her new surroundings.

Another vital lesson is being taught us by a young man, via his tremendous kibbud eim: Instead of making do with the convenience of telephone communication to alleviate his mother’s anxiety, Esther’s son embarked on a journey of many miles to personally see to her comfort and wellbeing.

Esther periodically referred to a good friend – “the only one I have” she emphasized in one of her e-mails. The friendship that began by happenstance through her job about 10 years ago has seen Esther through many dark and difficult moments since.

When Esther excitedly wrote of her decision to move to Israel (addressed at length in last week’s column), she spoke poignantly of an important detail she had attended to (in the interest of “wrapping things up” before her departure):

“Last but not least, I did something I don’t know if I should have… I went to the cemetery with my best friend to visit Aaron. I “told him” that this would probably be the last time and asked again for his forgiveness. I asked him to daven to Hashem for my success and promised him that I will always remember his yahrzeit and will go to the Kotel to say Tehillim for his neshamah.”

Esther’s depiction of her somber outing was both touching and gratifying – a sign of her having come a long way.

“Guess what, Rachel? I did NOT cry, though I was very emotional. My friend and I lit candles, we said Tehillim and we left…I did NOT turn around to look. Was that my way of saying a final good bye?”

Kudos to Esther’s special friend and to loyal, dedicated and trusting friends everywhere! Such friendships can literally save lives!

Getting back to the point at which we paused last week, when Esther’s palpable excitement about her forthcoming trip and permanent move had us cheering her on:

Aryeh called Esther to let her know that he would be here on business again just days before she was slated to take her leave, and he wondered whether he could help out in any way. She politely declined his offer of assistance, since she was about as ready as anyone could possibly be. She heard from him once more later in the week to say that coincidentally he was slated to return to Israel on the same day as she, matter of fact on the same flight, and would it be okay if he accompanied her. (Coincidence?)

“I must have swallowed my tongue because I HEARD the silence,” wrote Esther. (I didn’t need to see her to know that she was radiating joy.) That was Thursday, five days before Rosh Chodesh Adar.

On Friday, Aryeh surprised Esther by coming in for Shabbos. As her apartment was basically bare, she was staying with her friend, while Aryeh was set up at a neighbor’s home. On Sunday morning I read of Esther’s exhilaratingly beautiful Shabbos, about how they went to shul together and ate together…

On Motzaei Shabbos, Aryeh took Esther out to a lounge on the oceanfront. Upon their return from a pleasant stroll along the beach, he steered her toward a center stand that held a huge bouquet of fresh flowers. As she stood there admiring it, she noticed that a “gift box, pretty, with a bow” had a card attached that read”To Esther with Love.”

Aryeh urged her to open the box, saying it was a gift appropriate for one making Aliyah. And so she did and discovered a beautiful diamond ring along with a note that asked her to marry him!

“I almost fainted,” she wrote. “People in the lobby cheered and clapped their hands. And I cried like a baby.” And, needless to say, accepted his proposal!

Mazel Tov!!! (Though I have never met “Esther” or even spoken with her, I yet felt my heart bursting with pride and joy, as if she was my own child )

“LA-LA-LA-LA! The sun rose on me in middle of the night! Miracle of miracles!!!” sang Esther in her e-mail.

This column would be remiss if it failed to mention Esther’s frequent articulation of hakaras ha’tov (gratitude), as when she broke the news of her upcoming move: “Thank you for everything. You saved my life and put “life” back into me…”

Oh, and by this time Esther was in fine form – back to the size she’d been at age 20, having shed over 60 excess pounds! In Esther’s words, “I guess the strain of excitement, anticipation and general mixed emotions did it better than any diet. I am quite happy… to say the least.”

Perhaps the most important message of “Esther’s Story” is the one that offers hope to despairing souls and encouragement to the downtrodden, as it demonstrates that it is possible to emerge from the pits of despair. Never be afraid to dream, and never give up! As long as there is life, there is hope!

Hope, dream, and pray for in the realm of G-d, nothing is impossible! He awaits our prayers, our faith, and our belief in Him

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 3/27/09

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Esther – An Update (Part 3)

In the last two columns readers were reacquainted with “Esther” and updated on a series of new developments. We have, in fact, discovered that Esther has proven to be a hearty survivor, although it wasn’t too long ago when she herself would have scoffed at that very notion.

Although everyone’s life is fraught with ups and downs, Esther – as has been chronicled here in the past – has had an inordinate amount of heartache and has suffered extraordinarily painful experiences. [See Chronicles of 5-16, 23; 8-1, 8; 10-31; 11-7-08]

Last week we were swept along on a roller coaster ride of emotions. Who will deny that everyone loves a love story, and who can’t do with one in these especially unsettling times…?

In the last column we left Esther at her window (her date having dropped her off) wistfully watching the car lights disappear from her range of view. Her life metamorphosed rather quickly, considering that only eight months prior to this moment, she had long given up hope of ever knowing happiness in any sense of the word.

“How can this happen to me in a matter of a few days? …I feel tightness in my stomach but also a very warm tingle…”Esther’s swirling emotions were understandable under her unique circumstances.

This was Wednesday, the fourth candle-lighting night of Chanukah – less than a week since her first encounter with Aryeh who had shown up simply to deliver a letter from her son in Israel.

“The flowers on the Shabbos table were beautiful,” read Esther’s exuberant e-mail on Sunday morning. “We talked till the wee hours of the night.” She referred to her lengthy discussion with Aryeh of the preceding Motzaei Shabbos.

But just as she was in the process of analyzing, deciphering and interpreting every nuance of their conversation, Esther’s euphoria suddenly came to a grinding halt. The fragrance that had permeated her Shabbos Chanukah quickly evaporated – as Israel launched its invasion of Gaza.

The anxious tone of her e-mails was disconcerting, to say the least. She was clearly shaken. “Aryeh cut his visit short his parents live in Be’er Sheva rockets I am worried.”

More of the same in the tense days that followed: “My son called his friends live in areas that have been hit ” “I am very worried ” “He knows the family of one of the wounded soldiers… G-d protect them!”

And more melancholy… “Aryeh called…sounded calm didn’t say a thing about coming back.”

This last particular tidbit changed about two weeks later when Aryeh informed Esther that he would be returning to the States in March.

Still, she was down in the dumps. Her animated e-mails that had exuded infectious enthusiasm just a short time ago were now condensed to one-word missives. “Depressed!!” she answered, with 20 exclamation marks following the word, when I asked how she was holding up.

Baruch Hashem, three weeks into January saw the withdrawal of Israeli troops. By the very beginning of February, Esther seemed to have bounced back – and for good reason. Her son, who had obviously picked up on his mother’s despondency, flew to her side to take things in hand!

During his three-day stay in the last week of January, he helped organize not only her thoughts – “I DECIDED! I am moving to Israel! Hoping to leave by… Rosh Chodesh Adar!” – but also saw to the massive task of organizing, planning and preparing the actual physical arrangements.

As a matter of fact, she had it all tied up neatly. “I donated most of my things…furniture… someone can use them… will be picked up the day I Ieave. The trucks will come at 8:00 a.m.” Most of her books and magazines she had already given to an old-age home, she had done a closet clean-up and given away clothes she wouldn’t be needing, and her utilities were slated to be disconnected on the day she would be leaving.

“I bought a few suitcases for the things that I will take…mostly clothing, some books, mementos, gifts, etc. I estimated I should have at least five suitcases…want to be 99 percent packed at least two days prior to leaving. That way I will see if I need any more….”

The news was astounding, the accomplishments in the space of a mere couple of days absolutely amazing.

“I was very nervous when I decided (together with my son) to make the drastic move. But since he left I feel very excited, and yet very nervous. Or maybe this nervousness is really anticipation. I can’t decide…I guess I did a lot of things and it feels strange…” wrote Esther, all in the same e-mail in which she broke the news of her decision.

Oh, and about her employer whom Esther had previously talked about in glowing terms and who had been so understanding of Esther’s personal difficulties: “We had a very nice (and emotional) conversation. He seemed really happy for me…had encouraged me to move there… already gave me a nice severance pay: six months worth…” To my recollection, that was double his original generous offer!

Before we proceed with the rest of Esther’s story: this is an ideal juncture at which to alert readers that this series is being presented here not simply for its entertainment value. Actually, Esther magnanimously agreed to let our reading audience in on the chain of events that has transpired in her life since last summer, for – in her words – “If there is even one person out there who can be helped from my story, perhaps that zechus [merit] will be partly mine.”

My dear Esther, your story holds so many valuable lessons for mankind that it is hard to know where to begin… Take, for instance, the compassion of one human being who could have easily remained indifferent and disconnected – your boss. And yet, his tremendous kindness toward you is a shining example of how one can utilize his station in life to create opportunities to make a real difference in someone’s life.

More to come…

Book Memorializes Murdered Eight

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

           The eve of Rosh Chodesh Adar (this coming Monday) will mark one year since an Arab terrorist walked into Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav in Jerusalem and murdered eight yeshiva students, ages 15-26. In the months following the attack people honored their memory in different ways. Some sought revenge; others sought spiritual succor in increased ritual observance.

            From the murdered boys’ schoolmates came a unique response. They compiled Princes Among Men, a book with stories, memories and divrei Torah about the murdered eight written by family, friends and teachers. The Hebrew edition came out in the summer. The translated English edition is due out next month.

             “I feel this is such an inspiring book,” said Rivkah Moriah, mother of one of the eight students, 16-year-old Avraham David Moses. “It is such a comfort that it exists.”

            Moriah, who grew up in rural New Hampshire before converting to Judaism and moving to the Holy Land 20 years ago, returned to Israel Sunday with her husband following a 10-day visit to the United States to promote the book.

            “We’re here to promote the book,” she told The Jewish Press, “but I feel this is such an incredible book that it speaks for itself. So I don’t feel like I’m promoting it as much as sharing it.”

            When she speaks publicly, she said, many people ask her how she and the other murdered students’ parents reacted in wake of the attack. “One of the tremendous sources of strength for us,” she explains, “was knowing that all of Am Yisrael really cared. So many people came to shivah or wrote – people who didn’t know us very well or didn’t even know us at all. It was incredibly comforting that we weren’t alone in our loss.”

             In addition, she said, “I coped by focusing on how grateful I am. Of course I would have liked to see my son grow older and become a Jewish leader because he was an incredible kid, and motherhood is such a gift. But I was able to also focus on what I received and not just on what I lost [My son] was incredibly devoted both to being careful about mitzvah observance and also to studying. And although I’ll never become a talmid chacham, when I look at his willingness to always go that extra mile, it helps inspire me to try and learn a little more, do another mitzvah, become a better person, become a little more careful about my own mitzvah observance.”

            Asked what initially inspired her to convert to Judaism 20 years ago, Moriah said, “I was moved by the possibility of sanctifying the mundane, which is really what Judaism is all about. It’s not about denying or escaping the physical aspect of society, but letting the holy side of how we were created affect and elevate the mundane side. And that’s something that we can do up to 24 hours a day.”

            Readers can purchase Princes Among Menat Yeshiva University’s Seforim Sale (until February 22) or at Feldheim.com starting March 1.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/books//2009/02/18/

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