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Vortlach for Parshas Haazinu

‍‍ד׳ תשרי תשע״א - Saturday, September 11th, 2010

יערף כמטר לקחי

ר' שמחה בונם מפשיסכה notes that תורה is compared to the rain; just like there is no visible effect from the rain when it falls, but only afterwards when plants sprout and begin to grow, so too the effects from learning תורה are often not immediately visible, but only appear after some time.

שיחת לו לא בניו מומם דור עקש ופתלתל

The שאר בת רבים notes that there are many people who are personally observant, and are comfortable with this. Nevertheless, they want their children to follow in the path of תורה and עבודת ה.

However, this is quite hypocritical. For their Father in Heaven asks them to follow the proper path, and yet they rebel. Despite this, they expect their children to listen to them!

In truth, the only thing that will happen is that their children, just like they themselves, will not be religious, but will expect their children to become religious.

וישמן ישרון ויבעט

The חידושי הרי"ם notes that the word used here is ישרון, which is generally associated with a higher spiritual level than just ישראל. Nevertheless, in the presence of גאווה, they are at risk as well.

Vortlach for Parshas Nitzavim / Vayelech

‍‍כ״ו אלול תש״ע - Saturday, September 4th, 2010

הנסתרות לה' אלקינו והנגלות לנו ולבנינו עד עולם לעשות את כל דברי התורה הזאת

The כתב סופר sees these two categories as referring to the two possible times for משיח to come. The hidden one is the fixed date, which is unknown. The revealed one is the date if and when בני ישראל will be חוזר בתשובה, as the פסוק says, "היום אם בקולי תשמעו." While the first is independent of our actions, the second is only if we are follow "את כל דברי התורה הזאת"

את החיים ואת הטוב את המות ואת הרע

The משך חכמה points out that in פרשת ראה, it just said ברכה וקללה, but never mentioned .חיים ומות He explains that this is because earlier, the oppurtunity for תשובה had not yet been presented. If a person fails to repent for an עבירה, this worse than the original עבירה (cf שערי תשובה). As such, the עבירה itself is the קללה and the lack of תשובה is the מוות.

ובחרת בחיים למען תחיה

The בכורי אביב explains the repetition as a reminder that the goal is not merely to enjoy a long life, but a meaningful one.

ויקרא משה ליהושע ויאמר אליו לעיני כל ישראל חזק ואמץ

The משך חכמה writes that the words לעיני כל ישראל are connected, via the טעמי המקרא, to חזק ואמץ. Up until this point, יהושע's role had been that of משה's servant, and he was most known for his humility in front of his teacher. As the new מנהיג, he would need to, publicly, be strong and certain, in order to be able to effectively lead כלל ישראל.

Vortlach for Parshas Ki Savo

‍‍י״ט אלול תש״ע - Saturday, August 28th, 2010

I've decided to start writing down some interesting comments that I've seen on the the פרשה. I don't know if this will continue or not; we'll see...
(more…)

Almost there… or not

‍‍כ״ח מרחשון תשס״ז - Saturday, November 18th, 2006

Although the original plan did not call for this, this post will probably be my first serious non-technical post. I was originally planning on starting with either a halachic post (almost finished, but not quite ready) or a science / Torah post (still needs some work and fact-checking). However, the good people at Mishpacha Magazine chose this week to run this article, and so here's my rebuttal.

In this week's issue, R' Moshe Grylack discusses the reaction of some (ostensibly) Chareidi Jews to the "Pride Parade" that was set to disgrace Yerushalayim. In addition to the reasoned calls for canceling the parade, those of us living here (or those who read/heard/watched the news) were shown violent and vicious protests, including the frequent blocking of traffic, burning of garbage (and 1300NIS garbage cans belonging to the public), and the throwing of rocks and other debris at the police who arrived to restore some semblance of law and order. Not only Yerushalayim residents, but even those living in neighborhoods in Bnei Brak and Bet Shemesh (i.e., RBS-B) were treated to such spectacles.

To this backdrop, R' Grylack quotes the wise words of an anonymous friend, who's described as a "Talmid Chacham and prominent educator." The friend castigates the entire community, stating that,

If bochurim from our yeshivos go out in the street and start committing vandalism for its own, giving vent to all their destructive urges, supposedly for a holy cause, then our yeshivos have failed.

R' Grylack then suggests that maybe the community as a whole is not responsible, since

...you're exaggerating in a really extreme way. We all know that those who left the beis medrash to go out and demonstrate are the marginal element.

However, his friend is not so naive:

That's it exactly! That word, 'marginal.' I have come to despise that word lately. It's an escapist word, a way of shrugging off responsibility. A way of saying 'shalom alai nafshi.' They're the the marginal element, and we're all right; it's not our problem!

He then brings the example of Achan from Sefer Yehoshua to show that kol Yisroel areivim applies to aveiros as well.

Brilliant! honest! Insightful! I was really pleased to see this in a mainstream Chareidi publication, as it's something that has been said informally for too long, but with no one to acknowledge the problem, it was clear that nothing could be done. When some violent crazies attempted to hold the RBS shopping area hostage by attacking their enemies with eggs, we were continually reassured that these actions represented on a minute percentage, and this was not accepted, etc; except that no one was willing to take responsibility and say, "it's true, we need to improve."

Congratulations to Mishpacha for publishing such a call for soul searching.

But wait. For reasons known only to R' Grylack and his friend, these incisive comments were printed anonymously. Why? If it's true, what's there to hide? At the end, R' Grylack explains that the ran the piece at the request of his friend. Why? Were he to have kept it as a private conversation, would it not merit publication? As my wife so pithily described it, "what a cop out!" Instead of taking a standard, it's a standard journalists trick of, "so-and-so alleges that ____"

Still, the fact that Mishpacha was willing to publicize this, even if the editor in chief would not say it in his own name, is an incredibly positive step.

I would encourage anyone who can get Mishpacha to purchase it for this editorial, although I have an email pending to Mishpacha requesting permission to reproduce the editorial in it's entirety.

Tehillim Followup #2

‍‍ה׳ מרחשון תשס״ז - Friday, October 27th, 2006

Two name changes:
Chaya Sara Leah bas Frummis
Gittel bas Chaya Sara Leah
Thanks

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