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torah tidbits

torah tidbits

The OU Jerusalem world Center Torah Tidbits #1196 – Va’etchanan – Nachamu OU Torah Tidbits #1196Vaetchanan-Nachamuwhole 19August2016 Lead Tidbit p.4

Read it and weep… or do something!

Parshat Va’etchanan contains – among many other things – the prohibition of doing MELACHA on Shabbat. (Yes, it’s elsewhere too.)
Imagine a person who studies the Torah and goes to shul and hears Torah reading – but is a M’CHALEIL SHABBAT, a Shabbat desecrator.
How does he feel when he reads or hears NO TAASEH KOL M’LACHA, you shall not do any manner of work (not the best translation, but you get the idea)? Does he cry? Does he resolve to keep Shabbat? Or does he just ignore the pasuk?
Is this only a hypothetical question or are there Jews like that who care about the Torah but who don’t keep Shabbat? [Please note that Shabbat is just an example; it is conveniently found in this week’s sedra.]
You need not ponder that last question, wondering if there are people like that today. Because we have another question.
Parshat Va’etchanan contains – among many other things – the following statement:
Now, Israel, listen to the rules and laws that I am teaching you to do, so that you will remain alive and come to occupy the land that HaShem, G-d of your fathers, is giving you.
Or this one:
See! I have taught you rules and laws as HaShem my G-d has commanded me, so [that you] will be able to keep them in the land to which you are coming and which you will be occupying.
Or this one:
This is the mandate, the rules and the laws that God your Lord commanded [me] to teach you, so that you shall keep them in the land you are crossing over to occupy.
Or this one:
Listen, Israel, and be careful to do [it]. Things will then go well for you and you will increase very much [in] the land flowing with milk and honey, just as God, Lord of your fathers, promised you.
There are others. But we’re running out of page 4.
Same question as above: How does a person who studies Torah and hears it read in shul, and cares about it – how does he feel when he reads or hears these p’sukim?
Does he cry? Does he resolve to do something about it? Or does he just let it roll off his back?
Or does the person smile with the feeling and knowledge that he does keep Shabbat? That he does live in Eretz Yisrael. That he is fulfilling R’TZON HASHEM.

The OU Jerusalem world Center Torah Tidbits #1185 B’chukotai 5776 OU Torah Tidbits 1185whole

A Mitzva’s Messages – But first…

It’s the old, “I’d like to say a few words before I speak” line. Bear with me…
I recently spent Shabbat with a daughter and grandchildren while my son-in-law the doctor was in miluim. My 8 year old grandson asked me to learn with him in shul after Mincha. Momentarily surprised, I found out that those who stay to learn get a snack of some sort. Sure enough, after a pleasant Pirkei Avot session, my chavruta received an ARTIK, an ice pop. Turned out that he didn’t like its taste at all and dumped it in the nearest garbage pail, thereby making our learning more LISHMAH than expected.
MASHAL L’MA HADAVAR DOMEH? To what can this be compared? IM B’CHUKOTAI TEILEICHU… If you will keep My Torah and Mitzvot… HaShem says to the Jewish People: If you will be faithful to Me and keep the Torah and Mitzvot, then I will give you all kinds of wonderful things… (just read the beginning of the sedra) including – and you will dwell securely in your Land.
One wouldn’t expect people to say ‘No thank you’ to G-d for prosperity and peace. But how many Torah loving and observing Jews seem to say ‘Thanks but No Thanks’ for the opportunity to dwell in the Land?

For Naveh not to like the ices is one thing, but not jumping at the opportunity to live in Eretz Yisrael…

We could go on and on about this topic (and we often do), but for this week, we leave it to you to ponder…

Torah tidbit CHIZUK and IDUD

Torah tidbit CHIZUK and IDUD

CHIZUK and IDUD for Olim & not-yet-Olim respectively

When Mark Twain visited Eretz Yisrael in 1867, he vividly described a pitiful and forlorn land: “Palestine is desolate and unlovely…. The hills are barren, they are dull of color, unpicturesque in shape… Palestine sits in sack cloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies… Where prosperity had reigned and fallen; where glory had flamed and gone out; where beauty had dwelt and passed away; where gladness was and sorrow is… We never saw a human being on the whole route… There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of the worthless soil, had almost deserted the country…” What a contrast to the Eretz Yisrael of today!
Twain’s description is reminiscent of the Tochacha we read in our Parsha: “And I will make your cities waste and bring your sanctuaries into desolation… And I will bring the Land into desolation and your enemies who dwell in it shall be astonished at it” (Vayikra 26:31-32). In truth, the similarities are not by chance, for as Mark Twain contemplated the sad scene which met his eyes, he was reminded of these very verses, noting that: “No man can stand here [in this deserted area] and say the prophecy has not been fulfilled.”
What, though, is the point if this divine prophecy?

Mark Twain's Palestine

Mark Twain’s Palestine

Although the verses can be read as punishment for our sins, Rashi points to the positive results of the land being barren and inhospitable: this will deter our enemies from inhabiting the land in our absence. The Ramban similarly states that this verse contains a good tiding: The Land will not accommodate our enemies, it will not accept another nation, and it will only bloom for Am Yisrael.
The accuracy of these words is striking. None of the various conquerors of Eretz Yisrael have succeeded to bring it into prosperity. After coming on Aliya in the year 1267, the Ramban wrote to his son, writing as follows: “What shall I tell you concerning the condition of the Land… She is

Ramban Shul

Ramban Shul

greatly forsaken and her desolation is great… The more sacred the place, the greater the devastation it has suffered. Yerushalyim is most desolate and devastated”. Those who pray in the Ramban Shul in the old city today, built upon the land bought back in 1267, cannot even begin to imagine what things were like back then.
What a sacrifice it must have been to have made Aliya to such desolation!
Having come here alone, we can feel the Ramban’s pain describing what he left behind: “I left my family, I forsook my house. There, with my sons and daughters, the sweet, dear children I brought up at my knees, I left also my soul. My heart and my eyes will dwell with them forever”. Ramban who believed that Yishuv HaAretz was a central part of the Torah was willing to pay this price in order to fulfill this Mitzva.
How easy Aliya is today when compared to the times of Ramban. Those making Aliya don’t experience the kind of pain and longing he describes, and they are treated to a convivial welcome as their plane touches down in Eretz Yisrael, a few hours after having taken off abroad.
Yet, despite it being relatively so easy to come today, many still keep away. In order to find some Idud, or positive encouragement, I would return to the beginning of the parsha, before we arrive at the lengthy Tochecha.
The divine promise we are treated to there, is short and sweet: “And I will walk among you and I will be your G-d and you shall be My People” (26:12).

Tu-b'Shevat Seven Species

Tu-b’Shevat Seven Species

The Sforno explains this blessing saying that: “Wherever you walk I shall be with you. My presence is not restricted to one specific place. Rather, my Shefa is directed towards you wherever you, the righteous, are to be found.” What must one do in order to merit having the divine presence leave M’kom HaSh’china and come reside in their home? Is this blessing relevant only to Messianic times, when the divine Shefa will be spread out over the entire universe – visiting the righteous wherever they may be found?
It would seem that this is not necessarily so. In order to arrive at this blessing today, we must simply heed the words of Hillel who presents a very simple equation: “He Hillel, would say “If you come to my home I will come to your home” – this applies to Jews who would leave their gold and silver and come to Jerusalem for the pilgrim festivals (Regalim). The Sh’china would coddle and bless them saying: “And I will walk among you and I will be your G-d and you shall be My People” (Avot d’Rabbi Natan 27).
If you come here choosing to make G-d’s home your own, He will respond by residing, and walking with you!

Rabbi Yerachmiel Roness, Ramat Shiloh, Beit Shemesh

Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yosef “Today thank God most of the nation of Israel is here in the land of Israel.”

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