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August 29, 2016 / 25 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘TORAH’

Soul Talk – G-d and the Torah: Do They Restrict Your Life or Enhance It? [audio]

Monday, June 6th, 2016

How do you see G-d and the Torah with its laws and commandments? Do you feel that they restrict your life or enhance it?

The holiday of Shavuot is upon us, when we celebrate the giving of the Torah. Yet, not everyone embraces the presence of G-d and his teachings in their lives. What is it that stops us from recognizing that inviting G-d’s presence by learning and keeping the Torah can truly enhance our lives?

Listen to Soul Talk with Rabbi David Aaron, where he will share a perspective that will clear common misunderstandings and reinvigorate our desire to make G-d and Torah an integral part of our lives.

Please send us your questions to soultalk@israelnewstalkradio.com. We would love to include them in future broadcasts of Soul Talk!

Soul Talk 05Jun – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

If You Will Labor In Torah Study

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

“If you will follow My decrees and observe My commandments and perform them…” – Vayikra 26:2

 

The Torah lays out two divergent destinies for the Jewish people: “If you will go in the ways of my statuesI will give you rainfall in its time, the land will give forth with abundance, the trees of the field will produce fruityou will eat until you are satisfied…. There will be peace in land…”

However, “If you do not guard my statutes you will suffer diseases and famine…you will plant and not harvest…your enemies will chase you the skies will turn to iron…wild animals will attack…[and finally] an avenging sword will come into the land.”

Rashi explains that the pivotal point of these two paths is if you will labor in Torah. If you will labor in Torah, then you as a nation will find great success. Your enemies will fear you, and you will rise ever higher. If, however, you cease to labor in Torah study, then curses will befall you. In short, our success or failure as a nation hinges upon this one activity.

However, as Rashi also points out, this concept of laboring in Torah study is not found in the pasuk. The words are “If you will go in the ways of my statutes.” Nowhere does it specify what this refers to. Rashi explains that it cannot refer to keeping the mitzvahs because that is specifically mentioned at the end of the pasuk. So by process of elimination, he reasons that this must be referring to laboring in Torah study.

This Rashi is difficult to understand. There seems to be no indication of the concept in the pasuk. Granted, learning Torah is very significant, and we may know from other sources that laboring in Torah study is central to serving Hashem, but there doesn’t seem to be any indication here that this statement is speaking about laboring in Torah study. How does Rashi know that this statement of “If you will go in the ways of my statutes,” refers to laboring in Torah study as opposed to any other mitzvah?

The Inner Workings of the Human

The answer to this question stems from understanding the inner nature of man. Chovos Ha’Levavos (Sha’ar Avodas Elokim) explains that Hashem created man from two very distinct elements. Part of man is pure intellect and wisdom. This part of the person only wishes to do that which is noble and proper. It desires to be generous and giving. It needs to do that which is good and right. This part deeply hungers to experience Hashem. Chazal call this segment the nefesh ha’sichili – the pure soul.

However, there is another component of the human personality that is pure instinct and desire. That part of the individual doesn’t care about anything but fulfilling its needs and wants. It is comprised of base appetites and inclinations. This is referred to as the nefesh ha’bahami – the animal soul.

When Hashem created man, He took these two diverse segments and mixed them together, creating a new synthesis called man. Man has two competing sides to him, each one crying out to fulfill it needs, each one demanding its fill. These two elements are in competition for dominance of the person. Much like a muscle that grows stronger with use and atrophies with disuse, each side is constantly being strengthened or weakened. If a person gives in to his animal instincts, those instincts become stronger and more dominant. If a person listens to his spiritual soul, it becomes stronger, gaining primacy over his personality. The human is in constant flux, with one side or the other always growing, always gaining supremacy and control over the person.

Man was put on this planet to grow. By resisting the pull of the animal soul and allowing the pure soul to flourish, man elevates himself and reaches the state of perfection of which he is capable. On the other hand, if he gives in to the cries of the animal soul, he elevates it, allowing it to take control of him. His appetites become stronger and dominate him until they effectively rule over him. He becomes more animal than man.

The Ultimate Guide for Human Perfection

The Torah, which is the ultimate guide for human perfection, warns us against certain activities that give an unusual advantage to the nefesh ha’bahami. These are the sins as outlined in the Torah. We are cautioned to avoid certain foods, and we are warned against certain activities because they give an unfair edge to the animal soul.

However, any activity a person engages in strengthens one side or the other. When a person eats, sleeps, works, or goes about all of his daily activities, these physical actions strengthen the nefesh ha’bahami. In a sense, there is an unfair lead given to the animal soul. All day long it is in its element, and by being utilized, it is thereby strengthened.

To bring balance to the equation, Hashem gave us specific mitzvos to nourish the nefesh ha’sichili. The single greatest nutrient of the neshamah is learning Torah. When a person learns Torah, his neshamah is strengthened and invigorated. It becomes fortified and then takes the lead in the battle against the nefesh ha’bahami. However, without it, the neshamah doesn’t stand a fighting chance because the animal soul is so much more in its element in this world.

This seems to be the answer to Rashi. Since the expression “If you will go in the ways of my statutes” is the pivotal point of the Jewish people’s destiny, it must be referring to that element that is the key to the equation: laboring in Torah study.

There is a great lesson for us in this concept. The Jewish nation is never stagnant. We are either going up toward great heights or down to the lowest abyss. The single greatest nourishment for the soul of the individual, and therefore for the soul of the nation, is laboring in Torah study. If we engage in it, support it, and actively pursue it, we will flourish as a people and enjoy unparalleled success. But if not….

 

To view Rabbi Shafier’s parsha videos, click here.

Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier

Beyond The Matrix – Beard Oil, Coffee, and the Non-Jew [audio]

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

Rod is back from New York and the guys get into a discussion on beard oil, coffee and the Orthodox Jewish response to hearing about non-Jews coming to Torah.

Beyond The Matrix 30May – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

Beyond The Matrix – Making It Through Tough Times Through Torah [audio]

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

Rod and Ira examine how to deal with the obstacles and difficulties in your life according to the principles of Torah.

Beyond The Matrix 17May2016 – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

Daniel Mandel: The Joy, the Lone Oak, and a Special Torah Scroll

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

{Reprinted with permission from the Israellycool website}

Thirteen years ago, on April 15,2003, Lt. Daniel Mandel, of the Nahal Brigade, was murdered by a terrorist. Only three weeks later, Daniel’s sister gave birth to a son. Daniel’s mother Cheryl told the young parents, “Don’t call this baby ‘Daniel.’”

Cheryl’s son in-law said, “No one is going to tell me what to call my son.”

The boy was named Gilad, a name which, when sliced in two (Gil and Ad) means “eternal joy.”

His name was like a show of faith, a symbol. This was a family that would grow and continue in spite of an enemy’s hate. There would be joy in spite of the harsh blow dealt them. There would be this son. And there would absolutely be joy.

Thirteen years have passed since that sad and terrible Passover Eve, thirteen years since Daniel’s young life was stolen away forever. Now it is time for Gilad, the boy who came to life in the wake of an uncle’s tragic death, to celebrate his bar mitzvah. This is a boy with the weight of a family legacy on his young shoulders. A boy who must (and does) bring joy.

Just as Gilad’s birth and name are symbols of hope and continuation, joy and eternity, so is the famous Lone Oak Tree that stands as the very symbol of Gush Etzion where the Mandel family and Gilad live. This famous tree is hundreds of years old and remains at the center of a story of bravery and longing. The story begins only a few short weeks before David Ben Gurion declared the independence of the State of Israel.

Back then, Gush Etzion consisted of four kibbutzim. The families who lived there were under constant siege by the Jordanian Legion and by Arab guerrilla fighters. As the British Mandate was winding down to its inglorious end, the attacks became a near-constant fixture of life in the Gush. It was decided to send the women and children of the Gush to Jerusalem to wait out the war. It simply wasn’t safe for them at home any longer. Around 130 men and a small number of women stayed behind to defend their homes and all that they had built, hardscrabble, with their own two hands.

Just three days before Ben Gurion’s declaration of statehood, the Gush Etzion defenders were overpowered by the Jordanian Legion.  The Jordanians gathered the fighters together, claiming they wanted to take a photograph of the rout for posterity. Instead of photographing the group of defenders, the Jordanians murdered them in cold blood: shot them dead.

Gush Etzion had come under Jordanian control.  But once a year, the families of the Jewish fighters who had been so cruelly slaughtered, would gather on a high hilltop in Jerusalem where they could see the Lone Oak Tree in the distance, that 700-year-old-tree. That tree meant everything to them. Reaching that tree, returning and rebuilding the Gush, all of it was tied up in the symbolism that was embodied by that one lonely tree.

Lone-Oak-Tree-1068x801

Finally, in 1967, during the Six Day War, Gush Etzion returned to its rightful owners, the Jewish people. Today, instead of four kibbutzim, there are 22 communities and a total population of over 70,000 people: men, women, and children. The Lone Oak Tree watched it all unfold, remaining steadfast, and most of all, there, where we yearned to be, until we too, were there.

It makes sense then, that the Lone Tree and Daniel Mandel and Gilad have had their fates intertwined. Gilad has begun to lay tefillin, Daniel’s tefillin (phyllacteries). And in order to commemorate the 13th year since Daniel’s murder, his parents are dedicating a Torah scroll in Daniel’s name, to the Sephardi synagogue they attend.

It is from this Sefer Torah that Gilad will read his Bar Mitzvah portion, continuing a link in the chain of the Mandel family in Gush Etzion, and bringing joy to his people, never forgetting the great sacrifice of his Uncle Daniel, HY”D, may God avenge his blood. The new Torah scroll, and Gilad’s bar mitzvah bring everything full circle for the Mandel family and in many ways, for the people of Gush Etzion.

Lone Oak Torah Cover by Batsheva Arad of Bat Ayin.

Lone Oak Torah Cover by Batsheva Arad of Bat Ayin.

Already, the last letter was inscribed in the scroll, since one doesn’t write letters on Pesach. And on Wednesday of this week, on Chol HaMoed Pesach, at 4 PM, the Mandel family will hold a dedication ceremony for the new Torah scroll. That is when everyone will see the beautiful Torah cover created by Batsheva Arad who lives in Bat Ayin, a community in Gush Etzion. The Torah cover depicts the Lone Oak.

Then too, the crowd might notice the wooden rollers of the Torah, each known as an “Etz Chaim” or “Living Tree.” These rollers are also filled with symbolism, made as they were of wood trimmed from the Lone Oak Tree, and lovingly crafted by Gidi Kelman of Neve Daniel,  also a community in Gush Etzion.

Cheryl, Daniel’s mother and Gilad’s grandmother, is expecting a crowd. She had 200 labels made up, depicting that Torah cover with its stately Lone Oak. The labels are for the 200 water bottles purchased for celebrants at the dedication ceremony (she hopes you’ll be among them).

18 Boys Named Daniel!

Cheryl didn’t want Gilad’s life to be forged in mourning in the shadow of his uncle’s death. And so she wasn’t prepared for him to be named after her murdered son so soon after his death. But here too, there is parity and meaning. Thirteen years on, there are exactly 18 babies who have been named Daniel, after Daniel Mandel. Eighteen as you probably know or might have guessed, is the numerical value of Chai, the Hebrew word for “Life.”

Because the Lone Oak still stands and life goes on in Gush Etzion. There may be times of sadness and mourning, but joy will always win out in the end.

 

Varda Meyers Epstein

Torah Ohr – A Thriving Shul In Boca Raton

Monday, April 25th, 2016

Boca Raton boasts one of the fastest-growing congregations in the U.S. In an area of burgeoning communities, Modern-Orthodox Torah Ohr is not a typical family synagogue but a congregation of 900 members ranging in age from 60 to 90. Located in the beautifully landscaped enclave of Boca Century Village West, Torah Ohr welcomed nearly 150 new members last year.

Congregation Torah Ohr in Boca Raton

Congregation Torah Ohr in Boca Raton

“We are a huge welcoming community with people from all over the United States and elsewhere, coming together to pray, learn, and socialize,” said Josh Samborn, president of Torah Ohr.

This past season, from late November to early April, full-time residents, snowbirds (seasonal residents), and snowflakes (residents who travel back and forth from their northern homes) enjoyed up to five Shabbat morning minyanim. The shul building buzzes with learning activities that include daily daf yomi, chumash, Mishna Berurah, and classes on such topics as the parshah of the week, hilchot Shabbat, and ethics in the Bible. There are also various women’s educational programs.

Guest speakers visit frequently to share their knowledge and experiences while social activities fill the calendar. Sisterhood events include hat shows, boutiques, a pushka party, annual luncheon and fashion show, and catered seudot for Chanukah, Purim, and other occasions. The men’s club is known for its fascinating book review and lecture evenings and the social action committee has an active agenda. Bikur Cholim and a hospital volunteer group are essential for helping the sick.

This past winter was notable for the dedication of two sifrei Torah at Torah Ohr. One was loaned by Pinny and Ann Davidman. The other, presented by Jerry and Shelly Abramson, was inspired by a trip to Lithuania in 2012. Jerry, the son of Holocaust survivors, and his wife were deeply moved on witnessing the remnants of centuries of what had been a thriving Jewish life. The Abramsons commissioned a Torah to honor the six million who died in the Holocaust as well as his mother Miriam and their children.

The Sefer Torah, written by sofer Rabbi Sholom Michalshvilli of Jerusalem, weighs only about 12 pounds. Mr. Abramson says this was intended to make it easier for older congregants to be able to lift the scroll and continue to participate fully in davening.

With all the excitement comes a challenge: the shul is running out of room for all its activities. After exploring various options, shul president Josh Samborn announced, “To accommodate our growing community, we have design committees working with architects and planners on an important expansion plan to the kehilla.”

The congregation is located at 19146 Lyons Road in Boca Raton. For more information, visit www.torahohrboca.org or call (561) 479-4049.

Helen Garfinkel

Torah Academy Of Boca Raton Holds Anniversary Dinner

Monday, April 25th, 2016

The Torah Academy of Boca Raton Raton held its 17th anniversary dinner on March 31. A crowd of over 300 joined in the celebration. The beautiful ambiance was set by shimmering gold tablecloths, pink florals, and candlelight. The school paid tribute to benefactors Leon and Leona Brauser and Yanki and Lauren Hofstatter. In addition, the yeshiva proudly welcomed several members of the Boca Police Department, in recognition of their ongoing assistance with improving school security.

Rabbi Reuven Feinberg, dean, began the night with a heartfelt thank you to Torah Academy’s generous donors and community supporters. He asked the teaching staff to stand as the attendees acknowledged their daily dedication to each of their students.

Emphasizing the Jewish imperative of hakaras hatov, expressing appreciation, Rabbi Feinberg thanked the Boca Police Department for its close partnership and careful guidance. Chief Dan Alexander praised the Torah Academy’s commitment to the safety of all students and staff, and thanked the yeshiva for acknowledging their efforts to “protect and serve” at the highest possible level.

 

Boca Police Department receives special recognition at Torah Academy Anniversary Dinner.

Boca Police Department receives special recognition at Torah Academy Anniversary Dinner.

All in attendance were treated to Rabbi Netanel Chait and the Boys Middle School Choir’s sweet-sounding performance that added a special touch to the evening.

The formal dinner program concluded with an energetic video montage of the learning, special programs, friendships, warmth, and mission that all create the hallmark of a Torah Academy education.

This year, over 300 students are enrolled across four divisions, ranging from age 2 to eighth grade. Torah Academy features a comprehensive Judaic studies curriculum as well as a secular studies program fully accredited by SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools). For more information, visit www.torahacademybr.org or call 561-465-2200.

Shelley Benveniste

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community/south-florida/torah-academy-of-boca-raton-holds-anniversary-dinner/2016/04/25/

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