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Today is the 80th Yartzeit of Rav Kook Zt’l. I thought it would be appropriate to share some words of wisdom he shared in his Drasha on Rosh Hashanah in Beis Knesses HaChurva in 1933.

We find that the Tefillah for the Geula is accompanied with the Tefillah of  תקע בשופר גדול לחרותינו or והיה ביום ההוא יתקע בשופר גדול. What is the idea behind the Shofar HaGadol? Why specifically do we daven for the blowing of a big Shofar as opposed to a regular one?

Rav Kook explains that we can understand the Shofar of Mashiach by understanding the main 3 halachos regarding the Shofar of Rosh Hashanah:

  1. The Mitzvah to blow Shofar is on the Shofar of a ram.
  2. If one does not have a rams horn, any other kosher animal horn is kosher.
  3. A horn of an animal used for Avoda Zara or of a non-kosher animal is Passul and you may not make a bracha on it, but if you use it, you are יוצא.

The function of the Shofar of Mashiach is to awaken us and push us to do the ‘רצון ה, thereby bringing the full Geula. This re-awakening comes through the Tekia which will call everyone and cause everyone to gather en-masse to Yerushalayim.

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My remarks at the Bris Milah of my son, Yair Simcha – 5 Tammuz 5775

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When my  first child was  born, I  did  not yet fully appreciate what it meant to have a child. However, as she started to recognize me,  it was  really special and beautiful. Recently, Sara Ahuva  started to say, “Thank  you Abba” . I feel that the feeling that one gets when his child says thank you, must be similar to what Hashem feels when we say thank you. The feeling is really tangible yet indescribable. Now that we have a second child, I can fully appreciate what it means to have a child and I can give the Master of the world a proper thank you for this child, for life and everything that comes along with it. I would like to ask you to be mispallel with me that we should merit  and have the ability to raise all our children to be able to say and accept a thank you as well.

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According to the Wex Legal Dictionary the definition for Mitigating Factor  is “any fact or circumstance that lessens the severity or culpability of a criminal act.  Mitigating factors include an ability for the criminal to reform, mental retardation, an addiction to illegal substances or alcohol that contributed to the criminal behavior, and past good deeds, among many others.  Recognition of particular mitigating factors varies by jurisdiction.”     (18 U.S. Code § 3592)

How does Judaism view the circumstantial or outside factors that may affect the motivations or actions of someone involved in a court case? Do we take into account their emotional and  psychological background?

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This Dvar Torah was written in memory of Naftali, Gil-ad and Eyal HY’D. May their neshamas have an eternal Aliya.

One of the basic tenets of Western civilization is the idea that we should all strive to live with the ideal of “unity without uniformity and diversity without fragmentation.” I would like to explore this ideal from a Torah perspective.

The Parsha starts with Hashem instructing Moshe to take a census of Bnei Yisrael. So on Rosh Chodesh Iyar, Moshe and the Nesi’im of each Shevet counted every male over the age of 20 according to their shevet. After the census was taken, Hashem further instructed Moshe regarding the formation of the encampment of the Jews around the Ohel Moed. The twelve Shevatim were divided into groups of three on each side of the Ohel Moed. Each Shevet encamped by their respective flag.

This census was not a new concept as this already happened in Sefer Shemos. In our parsha, the Shevatim are counted in the same order except that Gad is counted before Reuven and Shimon. It seems that the reason for this change in order it meant to be an introduction to Hashem’s instructions to Moshe regarding Klal Yisrael’s encampment formation and their flags and they are therefore counted in Parshas Bamidbar in the order of their encampment.

It seems a little odd that this formation of the encampments only happened after the second counting of Klal Yisrael and a full year after we left Egypt. Why were we not set up in proper formations as soon as we left Mitzrayim together with everything else that happened at that time?

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The Rambam in Hilchos Teshuva 5;2 writes that we should all strive to be like Moshe Rabbeinu. Rav Pam asked, how could the Rambam say this, after the Torah says there will be  no one as great as Moshe? Rav Pam explains that Hashem said on Moshe כי כל ביתו נאמן הוא , we see that even though no one can be as great as Moshe, that is only regarding Nevuah, Middos and wisdom, but to build a Bayis Neman B’Yisrael one has to channel everything he does for Hashem and in that everyone can strive to be like Moshe and we should all be zoche to a Bayis Neman B’Yisrael in the truest sense.

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The Talmud (Megilla 13b) states “When Haman drew lots for the month to carry out the annihilation of the Jewish people it fell in Adar, Haman was very happy with this as this is the month that Moshe Died” the Gemara continues that what Haman didn’t realize is that it was also the month that Moshe was born. The question is what difference does it make now that Moshe was also born in Adar, at the end of the day this is the month that he died?

The Yaaros Dvash explains that although Moshe did indeed die on the 7th of Adar, he is reborn each year on the 7th of Adar to help each and every Jew learn and fulfill the Torah properly, every Jew has Moshe Rabbeinu helping him! It was this zechus of Moshe Rabbeinu that dissolved Haman’s plot and turned the tables. Vnehapoch Hu…….

Yom Kippur is a time of renewal a time to start fresh  a time of teshuva. During the times of the Beis Hamikdosh, this renewal process was done by the Kohen Godol via the avodah of the Day. The Gemara says that Moshe Rabbeinu had the status of a Kohen Godol. We see just like on Yom Kippur we have a renewal, so too on the 7th of Adar, on the day that Moshe Rabbeinu is reborn we have a renewal to learn Torah and fulfill it properly with the aid of Moshe.

The same applies to  Purim, which is a special Eis Rotzon for Teshuva and Tefilla. Hashem should help us that today should be a new time, a time of renewal in Torah and in the zechus of Moshe Rabbeinu  we should be able to fulfill the Torah  properly.

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Before the accounting of Matan Torah and Kabbalas HaTorah, the Torah relates the story of Yisro.

What brought Yisro?

Did Yisro come because he heard about Krias Yam Suf or because he heard about Matan Torah. In other words did he come before or after Matan Torah?

There is a popular Jewish folktale of a melamed who was teaching his students Parshas Yisro and he explained that Yisro was the Galach, priest, of Midian and was also the Shver, Father in law of  Moshe. One bright student immediately asked if Yisro was a priest how did he have a son-in-law? The Melamed thought long and hard and finally answered “This happened before Matan Torah!”

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I had a thought on the events in the Parsha and Mechiras Yosef.

We are taught that the suffering and exile we have suffered as a nation is due to Mechiras Yosef. The common explanation is that there was a hatred amongst the brothers and this evolved into Sinas Chinam on a national level.

I was thinking that perhaps an additional explanation can be that the sin was that it caused Yaakov angst and suffering due to hiding information about Yosef’s whereabouts and his false death.

We know Yaakov was so depressed over this that he was unable to merit Ruach Hakodesh. The Torah describes how when Yosef heard about the suffering of his father, that’s what caused him to break and reveal that he was indeed Yosef. He then sent for his father. Upon hearing and then finally believing the news of the safety of Yosef, the Ruach Hakodesh returned. Yaacov went down to Mitzrayim and Yosef strived to give Yaakov as much respect as possible.

My suggested explanation is that the suffering caused to Yaakov due to Mechiras Yosef is the reason for the suffering of the Jewish people.

We know that one who respects his father (and mother) is given long days. This is not only on an individual scale, it works on a national scale as well. Meaning, perhaps working together to have proper Kibud Av as individuals, our days could be lengthened as a nation. The suffering and the exile we have suffered may be due to the lack of Kibbud Av of the Shvatim towards Yaakov, which was a bi-product of their Sinas Chinam.

I would love to hear your thoughts…

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 450 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 8 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

I have written a letter to Mishpacha as seen in the screenshot below.

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This is the censored version of how it appeared in the magazine this past week.

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What do you think?

 

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The Birthday in Traditional Jewish Thought

ויהי ביום השלישי יום הלדת את פרעה ויעש משתה לכל עבדיו וישא את ראש שר המשקים ואת ראש שר האפים בתוך עבדיו

The sole reference to a celebration of one’s birthday in the Torah is found in Parshas VaYeshev. I would like to analyze the tradition of this celebration in Jewish thought and how it applies in both law and custom.

There are many events that we mark with special occasions: The creation of the world on Rosh Hashanah; the judgment of trees and plants on Tu B’Shvat; the dedication of the Beis HaMikdash on Chanukah, the creation of fire on Motzei Shabbos, and the anniversary of one’s birth.

We see many sources for the birthday celebration throughout Chazal.

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