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December 27, 2014 / 5 Tevet, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Shir Hashirim’

‘Personally Unique’

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Phil and Mike were part of a team of construction workers building a skyscraper in the middle of the city. When it was time for their lunch break they sat down together with their feet dangling twelve stories from the ground. Phil opened his lunch box and peered in, “Peanut butter and jelly?! Again peanut butter and jelly! I have had enough! If I get peanut butter and jelly again tomorrow, so help me I’m going to jump right off this structure.” Mike then opened his lunch box and peered in, “Tuna fish?! Again Tuna fish! I can’t take it anymore. If I have tuna fish for lunch one more time I’m going to jump off with you.”

The next day when it was time for their lunch break, the duo sat down together and opened their lunch boxes. Phil was aghast, “Peanut butter and jelly again! That’s it!” With that he leapt off the building. Mike then looked in his lunch box. “Tuna fish again! That’s it!” And before anyone could stop him, he too jumped off the building.

The families decided to hold a joint funeral for Phil and Mike. Before the eulogies began Mike’s wife walked up to his casket sobbing, “Michael, I didn’t know you didn’t like peanut butter and jelly. If I would have known I never would have given it to you for lunch.” With that she walked away crying bitterly. Then Phil’s wife walked over to his casket, “Phillip… you made your own lunch every day!”

It sounds like a silly inane joke. But perhaps there is more truth to the joke then it may seem. The sefer Sha’ar Bas Rabim[1] relates a powerful insight: He explains that every person wants to be created exactly as he/she is created. Before a soul descends into the body of a newborn baby, it is shown what it needs to rectify and what its unique role will be while it is alive in this world. The soul then decides what it requires – i.e. its familial, social, economic, intellectual, and physical state, and G-d responds accordingly.

Thus when challenges arise in life and one questions G-d, “Why me? How could You do this to me?” the question is really misdirected. In truth it is not G-d who has determined the situation, but rather the person himself, from the pure vantage point of heaven, before descending into this world. Essentially, we make our own lunch.

The Torah instructs (22:5), “A woman shall not wear the garments of a man, and a man shall not wear the dress of a woman, for it is an abomination of Hashem, your G-d, anyone who does these things.”

Targum Yonason explains the verse: “The clothing of tzitzis and tefillin, which are affixed for men, should not be donned by women… for it distances one from before Hashem, your G-d, anyone who does these things.”

Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz zt’l commented that the Torah is reminding us that each person has his own mission to fulfill in life. For one person performing a certain task can be extremely holy, while for another person performing that same task can be considered an abomination. Every person needs to foster feelings of joy and appreciation for his own uniqueness and abilities. How can one compare himself to another if his role is so vastly different? A man needs the constant spiritual injections of holiness that are garnered through wearing tefillin and tzitzis. A woman however, does not require those measures[2], and therefore for her to wear tefillin and tzitzis can be deemed an abomination.

There are many conscientious students in school who struggle with the notion that their peers have superior scholastic acumen than they do. They work and struggle much harder for grades and do not score as well as others who achieve high grades with minimal effort. Those students must be taught that G-d gives every person what he needs. [Truthfully, those who are trained to struggle and expend effort to reach levels of success are better suited and prepared for the challenges of life. Often it is the students who did not have to work hard during their formative years who are in for a rude awakening when they step into “the real world.”]

Title: Sorosi Bamdinos on Shir Hashirim and Ruth

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Title: Sorosi Bamdinos on Shir Hashirim and Ruth
Author: Rabbi Henoch Levine
Reviewed by Dr. Yochanan Roth

It’s refreshingly rare to welcome a new compendium on the targum of Megillas Shir Hashirim and Ruth (in one volume), just released by Rabbi Henoch Levine. This is the tenth volume in a series by the author, acclaimed for his expertise in targumic studies in general, and for his works on Targum Yonasan Ben Uziel Al Hatorah, in particular. His literary skill in expounding the targumic unique approach to Chumash and the five megillos is legendary and makes his commentary one of the very few, if not the only, comprehensive work on the targum.

The megillah text is newly-set with te’amim in an appealing manner. Rashi is included and newly-reset, as well as the Pirush Toldos Ahron, along with the corresponding targum, lucidly translated to loshon hakodesh in a bold face.

The Sorosi Bamdinos commentary surrounds the targum, and, among the many advantages, it notes variations from that of Rashi and of other authors, and their ramifications to other subjects and topics.

The reader will find in it:

Lomdus in give-and-take discussions among achronim, based on a targumic translation of a verse, expounded in a clear and user-friendly Hebrew, which becomes relevant to the popular lomdishe subjects of yemei Pesach and Shavuos.

Halacha: Contemporary halachic topics, relevant to the laws of shalosh regalim, aliyas haregel, kedushat Yerushalayim bizman hazeh, and a host of allied topics.

Mussar and chassidus teachings, elucidated by the respective movements’ founders and masters.

A guide in avodas Hashem and hanhagos tovos, illustrated in short stories and parables, always quoted verbatim from their sources.

Among the many features included are: More than 400 seforim by rishonim, kadmonim and achronim quoted verbatim, in a concise and relevant form; every book source is highlighted in bold face for easy identification; it contains a complete index of Tanach, Shas, Midrashim, Zohar and poskim as well as a complete topic index and concise gleanings, listed alphabetically, to aid in finding a desired topic, quickly.

In short, this sefer is truly a refreshing wellspring for a mevakesh devar Hashem, where he will find concise, easy-to-follow, relevant divrei Torah in the pardes haTorah.

Sorosi Bamdinos on Shir Hashirim and Ruth, as well as Megillos Esther, and Koheles, and Sorosi on Chamisha Chumshei Torah, may be purchased directly from the author by calling Rabbi Henoch Levine at 347-249-8415 or at your favorite seforim outlet.

The Eternal Flame Of The Jewish Soul: True Story With A Chanukah Message

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Dear readers: May this column serve as an aliyas neshamah for Dr. Ivan Mauer (Yitzchak benTzvi), of blessed memory. May his light forever burn bright.

 

I have wanted to tell this story for a while. There are experiences in life that help us find our soul, the candle of God within us. This was such an experience. It is a true story about the eternal flame of the Jewish soul – with a Chanukah message.

 

We took a family summer vacation with a kosher travel group to Vail, Colorado two years ago. My son was then 17 years old, and my daughter was 11. This was our first trip to Vail. I loved the mountains, an unfamiliar site to a native Chicagoan. We shared many adventures from white water rafting to jeep riding. It was a great trip.

 

The Event

 

On Friday afternoon we took a chairlift up the mountains. We were at an altitude of over 8,000 feet, and the view was spectacular. Nursing a bad cold, I opted to sit and write about the majestic landscape, while my family hiked. The mountains were draped in shades of green and purple with its peaks blanketed in snow. I felt Hashem’s grandeur.

 

Still nourished in His majesty, I lit the Shabbos candles with my daughter. The large wooden table for candle lighting was outside the dining hall, filled with at least 200 lit tea candles. The room was graced with the spirit of Shabbos, filled with the daughters and children of The King. As aba’alat teshuvah, I am awestruck at seeing so many Jewish people observing Shabbos.

 

I noticed a woman wearing a white tichel deep in prayer. I was moved by her concentration. She was unfazed by all the activity around her. Like the flames of the Shabbos candles reaching ever upwards, I trusted that her heartfelt tefillos were touching the Heavens.

 

My daughter and I went around the corner to say the Ma’ariv prayer. We suddenly heard a loud whoosh sound followed by the shouts and cries of the many women and children in the adjacent room. I went to see what was happening. The many tea candles on the wooden table had ignited into one huge golden orange flame. The serene Shabbos scene that was only moments before was replaced with the fear of impending danger. In the midst of all the chaos, the woman remained deep in prayer.

 

My mind raced with thoughts of not wanting anyone to be harmed and urgently needing to get my daughter out of there. I asked a waitress where the exit was, but she ran right past me. Then something happened. As my daughter recollected: “A wondrous calm descended over my mother.” I have rarely experienced this kind of calm and clarity, though I wish I had. It was a flash of light, a true gift from Above.

 

I took my daughter by the hand and found an exit, but at that point the fire had been extinguished. An employee took the 20-gallon urn for hand washing and extinguished the fire. Amazingly, the crisis ended quickly and no one was harmed; not even the wooden table had burned. As my daughter said: “It was a gift that no one was hurt. It helps you to appreciate things more. With a snap of a finger things can happen, and also with a snap of a finger, Hashem can protect you.”

 

           With the burning image of the many Shabbos candles becoming one large flame, I thought of the korbonos of the Beis HaMikdash. I prayed that all the heartfelt prayers poured out by the women over the Shabbos candles that night became one, and went straight up to Hashem. I thought about the eternity of the Jewish soul.

 

A Chanukah Message

 

“The candle of God is the soul of man” (Proverbs 20:27). A candle is a metaphor for the soul. The Jewish people are to be shining emissaries of Hashem’s eternal light. The Yevanim, like so many others,sought to extinguish the Jewish soul. They wanted to abolish Torah and extinguish our candle, our eternal connection to Hashem. But they could not. The Jewish people battled them and continue to battle through the darkness of exile, clinging to Hashem and carrying forth His mitzvos.

 

“For a commandment is a candle and the Torah is light” (Proverbs 6:23). Each time we perform a mitzvah, we attach ourselves, like a candle’s flame to its body of wax, to Hashem’s Divine will. We become shining emissaries of His light of Torah unto the world.

 

*  *  *

 

I asked the woman how she was able to keep praying when the fire broke out. She said that she felt her job was to stay in place and not join the rush, to keep praying. She was reciting Shir Hashirim, which she recites every Friday night. We became friends.

 

In my own small way I believe that her unwavering devotion to Hashem, along with the many heartfelt prayers poured over the Shabbos candles that night, helped bring our salvation. This experience helped me to better appreciate the miracle of Chanukah, and how the Jewish people became an eternal people.

 

When my daughter and I have thought about that night, when the candle’s flames ignited into one large golden flame and miraculously no one was harmed, we feel that we were given a Heavenly gift, a glimpse of the magnificent eternal flame of the Jewish people.

 

Each time we light a candle we are connecting to our inner flame, the spark of the Divine that can never be extinguished.

 

             May this flame bring forth the light of the Mashiach.

 

Marsha Smagley resides in Highland Park, Illinois, with her husband and two children. She has devoted the last 12 years to studying Torah, becoming observant, guiding her family in Torah life, and writing articles that convey her heartfelt journey to Torah. Her work has appeared in various publications.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/holidays/the-eternal-flame-of-the-jewish-soul-true-story-with-a-chanukah-message/2010/12/01/

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