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April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Sefer Shmuel’

Parshas Ha’azinu: Never Give Up!

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Yom Kippur was but a few days ago and we were all feeling the closest to Hashem that we feel all year. And now it’s time to build the sukkah.

But before we move on with the holiday cycle we need to see what we can do to retain at least some of those special feelings of Yom Kippur.

This week’s haftorah guides us on just such a path.

We don’t always read the haftorah portion which we read this week given that Parshas Ha’azinu is often Shabbos Shuva when we read the classic Shuva Yisrael ad Hashem Elokecha haftorah. But this year Ha’azinu is read on the Shabbos after Yom Kippur and the haftorah is one of Dovid HaMelech’s songs to Hashem from Shmuel Beis (22:1-41) known as Shiras Dovid. A very similar version of this shira appears in Tehillim perek 18. (Of course, the rabbinic enactment of haftorah is to read specifically from the Navi so reading from the Tehillim version is not an option. Tehillim is part of Kesuvim, Writings of Tanach, and not the Prophets.)

Shiras Dovid is essentially a praise and thanksgiving from Dovid to Hashem Yisbarach thanking Him for saving Dovid from all his enemies. Dovid expresses very poetic and detailed praises and rededicates himself to an even stronger connection and relationship with Hashem as a result of all Hashem has done for him.

Rabbi Moshe Eisemann in Music Made in Heaven-Thoughts on Dovid HaMelech and Tehillim, (pgs. 53- 54) points out that of all the 150 chapters of Tehillim, the only one that makes an appearance in Sefer Shmuel is the Shiras Dovid. Why, aren’t there many songs in Tehillim which were said in connection to various events in Dovid’s life that appear in Shmuel? If the prophet Shmuel wanted us to get a full picture of who Dovid was, why is this one the only perek of Dovid’s songs included? Furthermore, when exactly was this song written? It appears in the text in the final segment of Dovid’s life but it mentions Dovid being saved from Shaul which occurred very early in Dovid’s life. Why then is the song only mentioned now?

Rabbi Eisemann mentions the Abarbanel’s approach to the shira. – this song was sung by Dovid on many different occasions. One might call it Dovid’s own personal “theme song” and whenever he was saved from a perilous situation, he would sing this same song to Hashem. This is why the first pasuk reads, “Dovid spoke to Hashem the words of this song on the day Hashem delivered him from the hands of all his enemies and from the hand of Shaul.” Dovid always spoke these same words to Hashem whenever he was saved, going back all the way to his first dangerous encounter with an enemy, Shaul.

Given that this was Dovid’s theme song, we suggest that’s why the song is mentioned at the end of Sefer Shmuel, at the conclusion of a book designed to tell us about Dovid’s life. In a sense, mentioning the shira here acts in part as a eulogy, a hesped, a great telling of who Dovid was and how he lived his life.

Sefer Shmuel records many of Dovid’s successes but also records his mistakes and transgressions. (To be sure, Dovid’s transgressions are not like yours or mine. The sins of individuals mentioned in the Torah must never be understood at face value. Rav Shlomo Wolbe’s Alei Shur, Volume 1, page 227 explains that sins of the earlier biblical generations were all based on mistaken intellectual calculations, not animalistic desires or simple “foul-ups.” The same point is brought in Rav Avraham Korman’s Mavo LeTorah SheBichsav VeSheBaal Peh, pgs. 168–169, in the names of the Alters from Kelm and Slabodka. They go so far as to apply this rule to wicked people mentioned in the Torah, as well. See also Rav Dessler’s Michtav Me’Eliyahu, vol. 1, p. 161–166.)

Rabbi Eisemann writes “Sefer Shmuel teaches us that even very great men can sin, without impugning their greatness or cutting them off from their source of inspiration. Perhaps more importantly, that even a sinning man can be great, if he is able to summon the energy which true teshuvah demands.”

From Feet To Amot: A New Jewish Units App

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

During my yearly visits to Australia to visit my wife’s family, I must endure the brutal calculations involved in switching from the imperfect Imperial system to the maligned-by-Americans (but clearly more efficient) Metric system. Pounds become kilos, Fahrenheit becomes Celsius, and feet become meters. Calculations are involved every day – and I don’t have a mind for numbers. Similarly, when I learn Gemara, I often come across ancient and archaic measurements that need conversion into modern numbers. This ensures that today’s average learner and I can better understand the amounts being dealt with. ArtScroll usually provides a formula, or tells us the conversion in the simplest terms. But now, thanks to Crowded Road CEO Adam Korbl and Rabbi Ronnie Figdor, there’s an app that helps us do just that.

The new Jewish Units app conveniently converts all Talmudic measurements (volume, length, time, area, weight, and currency) into their modern-day counterparts. And I literally mean all measurements. As someone who proudly learns an average of an amud of Gemara a day, I was flabbergasted to learn about how many types of measurements there are in Judaism. I had heard of a p’ras, a parsah and a perutah, but a pesiah, a pim and a pundeyon? And that’s just those beginning with the letter “P”!

All in all there are nearly 200 units of measure that can be converted. Perhaps that’s why I always had a hard time remembering the conversion amounts for biblical measurements. I remember thinking that a mil was about equal in length to a mile. But it turns out to be closer to a half mile (or 0.5666 to be exact). I recall the notion that a shekel (not to be confused with a New Israeli Shekel) was about equal to $1 – but it’s really about $18. And was I off regarding a kikar. One of those equals $54,119. And a kikar can be used for weight as well. So if your wife of 150 pounds thinks she’s putting on weight, you can simply say, “Honey, you’re not even 3 kikars.” (One hundred fifty pounds equals 2.668 kikars.)

If you don’t have a currency converter on your smart-device, the Jewish Units app also does basic currency conversions (e.g. dollars to euros). But the best aspect of the app, aside from its prime function, is its essential glossary that permits less learned people like me know that a pesiah is a regular footstep (about an amah) in length, or that a pundeyon was an ancient Roman currency. And if you’re wondering, one pim – a unit of measure in Sefer Shmuel – equals 80 pounds. My in-laws will also be happy to know that the app works in the metric system as well.

I showed the app to the people who will likely use it the most: kollel and yeshiva guys. It was as if I walked into a 7th-grade classroom with a (yet to be invented) Playstation 5. The app appeared to be the perfect combination of convenience and coolness. One boy who had recently completed a half marathon proudly noted that he had run 45,880 amot, about which one of his friends said: “Yeah, but that’s only 5.73 parsahs.”

In the near future Crowded Road will be offering the Jewish Units technology as part of their popular iTalmud and iMishna. “The ability to tap on a phrase in the Talmud or Mishnah that includes a halachic unit, such as daled amos, and instantly receive an explanation and modern-day conversion according to a rabbinic authority of choice should be a very powerful proposition,” says Korbl, the CEO of Crowded Road.

Perhaps the only negative aspect to the app that might dissuade some downloaders is its current $4.99 price tag. But that’s only 0.14 sela – a real bargain.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/scitech/electronics-today/from-feet-to-amot-a-new-jewish-units-app/2012/05/10/

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