Friday, August 30, 2013

We're Almost There! Stay strong!

Have a great Shabbos!!
I know many of us are worried about events in the world.
I believe, however, that it will all be good for Israel, with Hashem's help.
Hashem says in the Haftora of Va'etchanan, "He turns the leaders of countries into nothingness and the judges of the world into emptiness." All the leaders of the world think they are in control and that they can effect outcomes. Hashem says that they are nothing.
Let's keep that in mind.
I believe that Hashem is in the mode of redeeming us and not hurting us.
If we take a look at the Paragraph of Teshuva in this week's Parsha, Chapter 30, verses 1-10, we see an exchange with Hashem we do a little of Teshuva and Hashem does a lot for us in return. The Malbim says it is a 10 step process to getting closer to Hashem. If you look closely you will see that we, at this time in history, are already at verse 9!!! We are almost there!!
Just a little more.
That should give us great strength and motivation to work on ourselves during this Rosh Hashana. Because we are almost there. Just a little more improvement, a bit more correction and working on our Torah and spiritual goals and we can reach it.
Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tova

Friday, August 9, 2013

Judge Not Until You Judge Yourself

Now for a Dvar Torah on This week's Parsha - Shoftim
The Torah tells us that we should set up a system and structure to communicate, clarify and enforce the laws.
But it uses an extra word. Instead of saying "You should assign judges and officers" it says “You should assign FOR YOU judges and officers”.
Many of the commentaries explain that this means that each and every person should do self-reflection. And you should constantly be judging yourself to see if you are doing what you should.
Rav Yeruchem Levovitz explains that it is divided into 2 things:
Judges and officers. And we should apply that to our own self-reflection and development.
Judges teach and clarify the law -
So we must make sure we do what we can to learn and know the laws
Officers enforce the law - So we too must work on ourselves to correct where we need correcting and improve where we need improving.
But the trick is (and this is what truly will make someone unique) is being real honest with ourselves about our shortcomings and what needs improvement.
This is especially our work for this time of year as Chodesh Elul has started and Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur approaches.

It's Really All Up To You

Last week’s Parsha is Re'eh. Moshe has just reviewed for the Bnei Yisroel the past 40 years of travels and before he starts to review some of the rules, he gives them words of inspiration.
He tells them that after all I have said, what you do is up to you. And "See you have before you Bracha and Klala" which is inaccurately translated as blessing and curse.
Rabbi Hirsch explains those words beautifully.
He says that Bracha comes from the word for "moving forward" or progressive development.
and Klala comes from the word "digressing".
And the message of the 2 mountains opposite each other from the same valley, one very arid and dry and one very lush and green, is extremely powerful.
The 2 mountains have influence of the same exact environment, yet one uses it to the fullest, to become lush and green. And the other doesn't take advantage and has become empty and dry.
We too have the ability to move ahead and grow from what life gives us or complain and digress.
We can take the things that Hashem gives us, and even though it may not be the best situation we still can grow from it and turn it into Bracha. Or we can choose to think it is bad and digress from it.
The choice is ours completely. As they say if life gives you lemons you can make lemonade and maybe even profit greatly from it.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Themes of The Book of Devorim

This Shabbos we will start reading the Book of Devorim. Which is Anglicized as Deuteronomy (which means basically, review)
but is translated as "words".
It is Moshe Rabeinu's final words to the Jewish people who he faithfully led for the past 40 or so years.
Every year I try to find the pattern and themes of the Book of Devorim.

I have not been successful.

I do not believe this is the uncontrolled ramblings of an old man.
I know that there is a rhyme and reason for how and why Moshe says what he says and when.
There needs to be a theme for each Parsha, for example. And even though there are repetitions of certain concepts many times, they have to be repeated for a contextual reason.
The choice laws that Moshe reviews here have to be done for a certain purpose. Why certain laws were reviewed and others not. Why that particular Parsha in which those laws are reviewed is chosen, also has to have meaning.
For instance why the Laws of Kashrus in Parshas Reah, etc.

In this week's Parsha, Moshe recounts the story of the Jewish people in the desert, going in order, starting from before the receiving of the Torah when he structured the Court system, then the spies, and then suddenly at Chamishi, he jumps approx 40 years to the end of the the Bnei Yisroels travels to the conquering of the various lands that were conquered. Why?

So I think that basically over the years I have come to understand maybe the theme of the first 3 Parshas.
Devorim - the Am Yisroel, the people.
V'eschanan - the Torah
Ekev - The land of Israel.
But it is not exclusive or conclusive.
And then???
Your thoughts are welcome.

Friday, June 21, 2013

So We Should Know Who We Are

My how time flies!!!
I haven't written anything here for a very long time! I gotta stop that.
To ALL a wonderful Shabbat.
Don't forget Tuesday is the Fast of the 17th of Tammuz
This Shabbat we read Parshat Balak.
Balak was the Moabite King and he and his people were afraid of the Bnei Yisroel due to the power they showed as they made their way out of Egypt to the Land of Israel.
To deal with that, Balak hires Bilaam, the Diviner, to try to find a way and time to send curses onto the Jewish people. Instead however, he praises and speaks glowingly about the Jewish people.
What is the Torah trying to tell us? What is the point of devoting so much space to what a practicer of the dark arts thinks of us? Even though he beautifully describes the qualities and uniqueness of the Jewish people, but do we need to hear it from him?
One thing is that it is nice sometimes to hear what others think of us and it is nice to get a recommendation from others about us. But that should not be our real motivation and actually we should not do things just to please others.
I think a story my Father ZT”L told me fits in very well. After WWII my father went back to Hungary to learn in a Yeshiva, awaiting approval to go to America. After a time he found out he was able to go to the US and went to his Rabbi for a letter of recommendation. The Rabbi told him to come back the next day.
When he came back the Rabbi told him, “Here is the letter. The truth is that you really won’t need this where you are going, they won’t care about what’s in this letter. But I am giving you this letter so YOU should know who you are. It’s not going to be easy over there, so I never want you to forget who you are.”
The Jewish People were about to go into Israel out of the direct influence of Hashem and Moses. G-d didn’t want them to ever forget who THEY are.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

An Important Kosher Conversation

Shalom,

Writing re kosher supervision. There are many things added to foods, that are harmful to health though they have been certified as kosher, GMO is extremely damaging but it is certified as kosher and etc. The question and request is since it is Torah law to not do things that harm health, how can all these harmful additives, GMO etc. be certified kosher, and also animal food products from animals that are badly mistreated, it is not just how they are shechted, it is how they are treated and live their lives before being shechted and the conditions also at the time of shechting… Torah is against cruelty to animals but this is not considered when animal food products are certified as kosher. Please, our people are getting sick unnecessarily because of the food they are eating which is making them sick. People trust that if something is labeled kosher it is healthy and OK to eat, but it is not so. Please, think the requirements for kosher certification need to be changed not for profit, for care of am Yisrael. Thank you for your consideration.
Person



Person,

Thank you for your email. You have raised wonderful points.

And the answer is, that kosher is not a HOLISTIC approval of all 613 mitzvot, commandments, but rather a SPECIFIC approval of those mitzvot that apply locally to kosher law. The misconception is that kosher means EVERYTHING is ok, and that is not the truth at all. "Kosher" means that it adheres to those narrow rules that apply. Kosher does not check for all the mitzvot and health concerns. Very fattening or high cholesterol foods can be kosher, but not healthy for you. Therefore, those concerns that you mentioned, although important laws, are not part of the kosher inspection.

It would be similar to going to the doctor and getting a full physical and passing with flying colors and therefore deciding you do not need to go to the dentist or the eye doctor. But the doctor just checked his parameters. He did not check your teeth or eyes. So to be completely healthy you ought to check those things too.

I agree with you that a person should take care of his health and should make sure that the food he eats adheres to all healthy standards and that the people preparing it must be moral.

Perhaps there needs to be another type of certification that checks for those other concerns. And perhaps it should be made clearer that Kosher does not necessarily mean healthy or that all the 613 mitzvot have been checked for. Maybe there should be a checklist of ALL the aspects that one needs to check for before he eats his food.

As far as the shechita goes, and this may sound contradictory, but I have been in a few slaughterhouses and great care is taken not to treat the animal cruelly. Even though the animal is killed, there is a great reverence for the life that is taken.

Thanks again and please let me know if this answer suffices and please feel free to ask any other question you have.

All the best,

Rabbi Zev




Friday, March 2, 2012

IN THE PARSHA: A Message for the Ages

This week is a double Parsha Tetzaveh and Zachor
In Parshas Tetzaveh basically the command to light the Menorah daily, the Priestly garments and Golden Alter are described.
In Parshas Zachor we are told about the command to never forget what Amalek did to us.
The Jewish people had just left Egypt, happy in their salvation and confident in their purpose. They were not threatening anyone, keeping to themselves and doing what they were supposed to do. Yet there are always some people who are bothered by that, either because of jealousy or pure evil. And as I mentioned in a previous post, the Amalek isn’t always from without. Sometimes the Amalek is from within; sadly many Communities have been devastated by conflict and maliciousness from within.
Amalek saw the Jewish people in their splendor and although being evil they were cowards and attacked the Jews from behind, attacked the tired stragglers, attacked sneakily. Cowards can do a lot of damage too.
But the answer to combat Amalek was to STAND STRONG and LOOK UP!
Moses went to stand on top of the hill with his hands up defiantly.
The message is that we must remain firm in our morals and principles.
STAND STRONG and LOOK UP to Hashem.
Often we drift along in life without the need to stand up and commit to what we believe in and require. Events like Amalek help us to define who we are, to solidify our convictions and compel us to further our goals and purpose in the correct Torah way.
That’s why it is a commandment never to forget. That’s why it is a message for the ages.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

We Must Remain Focused On Our Goals

We are now almost 1 week into Chodesh Adar. It is the month of Joy. But it also is the month that Haman tried to destroy us. The modern day Haman is the one who tries to divide. There are Hamans from without and unfortunately Hamans from within.
We must not let Haman take control, we must not let Haman turn us around from what we want to accomplish. We must keep om marching ahead focused.
Then we will truly be able to rejoice in the Geulah.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ta6UmkqzZA0