Thursday, April 17, 2008

Parshas Acharei Mos

In this week’s parsha we find the issur of molech, which the penalty for doing is missah. Some meforshim say that molech is not just waving your child over a fire, but also actually putting your child into the fire as a sacrifice.

The three aveiros that one must give up his life for are giloy arayos, shfichas damim, and avodah zarah. If one comes up to you and says do one of these three aveiros or I will kill you one must give up his life.

My father suggested why molech is a terrible act. He explained that “the big three”, giloy arayos, shfichas damim, and avodah zarah all are included in this one aveira.

Molech is a form of avodah zarah, because the parent is bringing their child as a sacrifice. It also encompasses the aviera of shfichas damim, because according to some the parent would actually drop the child into the fire. Molech is also the aveira of giloy arayos, because it is a form of wasting seed. Because when you kill your child, you are in affect killing seed that you used to create him.

What is the common theme between these three aveiros? perhaps one similar thread between all of them is that all the aveiros have to do with the instincts of man. Giloy arayos is ones sexual drive, shifichas damim is a person’s instinct of aggression, and avodah zarah is man’s instinct of being dependent on someone. One of the reasons that people practice avodah zarah is that they want to feel like they have dependency. This dependency is psychologically comforting, because if something goes right you can praise your god, if something goes wrong you can be mad at it, and you can pray for the god to help you, as opposed to everything being completely random.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Parshas Vayikra- Karbon Is In Place of Me

Parshas Vayikra

א וַיִּקְרָא, אֶל-מֹשֶׁה; וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֵלָיו, מֵאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד לֵאמֹר. ב דַּבֵּר אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם, אָדָם כִּי-יַקְרִיב מִכֶּם קָרְבָּן, לַיהוָה--מִן-הַבְּהֵמָה, מִן-הַבָּקָר וּמִן-הַצֹּאן, תַּקְרִיבוּ, אֶת-קָרְבַּנְכֶם.

This weeks Parsha is full of discussions about karbanos, sacrifices. What is the purpose of bringing Karbanos? What goal is one trying to accomplish by bringing one?
The Radak comments in Sefer Tihillim perek 105, that when one brings a Karban he should be thinking that the Animal is being slaughtered in his place. It is he who is supposed to be the one on the Alter! He is the one that deserves to be killed! It is only because of Hashem’s mercy that he is receiving a second chance. This is a very powering and motivating experience. When one watches the animal being slaughtered he is moved, and understands that now is the time he much change his ways and will be uplifted and inspired to become a more perfected human being. The experience will make him closer to Hashem in another respect as well. When he sees the animal that is being slaughtered in place of him he will feel a true closeness with G-d. The person will realize how caring and loving Hashem is and he therefore should try his best to not sin again.
Rav S.R Hirsch gives a beautiful explanation as to why a Karbon Olah is called an “Olah”. He explains that the word Olah, go up, discusses the goal of the Karbon. The objective of bringing the Karbon is to uplift a person from his or her spiritual impurity and help reestablish his relationship with Hashem. A karbon is supposed to help a person repair his relationship with G-d and uplift him to continue his pursuit Mitzvos, Limud Hatorah, and becoming the most perfected human being that he can.
The Ba’al Haturim asks why in pasuk 3 it says ג אִם-עֹלָה קָרְבָּנוֹ מִן-הַבָּקָר, and then repeats all of the halachos in pasuk in 10 when it talks about one who brings an olah form י וְאִם-מִן-הַצֹּאן קָרְבָּנוֹ מִן-הַכְּשָׂבִים אוֹ מִן-הָעִזִּים, and then repeats the halachos for a third time when it discusses one that brings an olah from a וְאִם מִן-הָעוֹף עֹלָה קָרְבָּנוֹ. Just mention all the choices of animals that a person can bring as a Karbon Olah and explain the halachos once?
He explains that the Torah writes the halachos by three times to say that a poor person’s Karbon that is just as good then the rich person’s Karbon. Each Karbon is equal in G-d’s view. The Ba’al Haturim may be hinting to the idea of Rav Hirsch and the Radak. No matter how much money you have, if you bring a Karbon with what you can afford and have the correct perspective and realize the objective it will have the same affect on all people regardless of their financial situation.
Today we have Tifillah in place of Karbanos. The Gemarah Yerushalmi qouted by the Tur in siman 115 says, "Ein Binah, Elah Tifillah", prayer is about thought and reflection. Through our tifillah we can try to accomplish the same goal that the Karbon was brought to accomplish. We should try to perfect ourselves as human beings and correct our flaws and become closer with Hashem.
Have a Wonderfull Shabbos!
YaakovPlease leave any ideas or thoughts that you have on the dvar torah. Thanks!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Parshas Pikudei #2- Betzalel: The Builder and Thinker

In perek 38 pasuk 22 it says, “And Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that G-d commanded Moshe.”

Rashi comments: "That which he (Moshe) commanded him (Betzalel) is not written here, but, rather, "all that G-d commanded Moshe," [thereby implying that] even things which his teacher (Moshe) had not told him, his own opinion was in agreement with what was said to Moshe at Sinai. For Moshe had instructed Betzalel to first produce the vessels, and afterward the mishkon. Whereupon Betzalel said to him: "It is customary in the world to first construct a house and afterwards put furnishings in it." Moshe responded to him: "[You are right] that is indeed what I heard from G-d." Moshe [then also] said to him "You must have been in the shadow of G-d, for, certainly, so did G-d command me." And so he (Betzalel) did it--- first the mishkon and afterwards he made the vessels.

If in fact Hakadosh Baruch Hu told Moshe to build the Mishkan first and then the Keilim, why did Moshe present the opposite message to Betzalel so much so that Betzalel needed to question the approach? Was Moshe trying to mislead Betzalel?

The Gemarah in Maseches Succah daf 45B discusses how many people are on the level to behold the countenance of the Divine Presence. The Gemarah there Asks, “Are those who view the Divine Presence through a clear screen, an aspaklaria hami’erah, so few? But Abaye has said: There are no less than thiry six righteous in the world who receive the countenance of the Divine Presence each day?” the Gemarah answers, “There is no difficulty. Abaye’s teaching (Of thirty six people) refers to those who may enter only with permission, whereas Rabbi Shiman ben Yochai’s statement (that only him and his son can perceive the Divine Presence through a clear screen) refers to those who may enter without permission.”

Rashi explains that the thirty six righteous. Although they perceive the Divine Presence as through a clear screen, may not approach the shechina without first asking permission of the angels appointed for this purpose. Rabbi Shimon and his son may approach without proper permission.

Moshe Rabbeinu was different then any other prophet based on the fact that he communicated with Hashem with an aspaklaria hamieri, clarity and directness like no other Navi had. Rabbi Shiman ben Yochai and his son were not even prophets, so how can it possibly be that they Nevuah on the level of Moshe Rabbeinu. It goes against one of the 13 fundamental beliefs that there was no prophet and there will be no prophet like Moshe.
What are the conceptual underpinnings over here? What does the Gemarah mean when it says that Rabbi Shiman ben Yochai an dhis son were able to have such a direct relationship with G-d? The Maharsha states that the countenance of the Divine Presence is not referring to people seeing it in the course of prophecy because Moshe Rabbeinu was the only one who saw Prophecy with countenance of the Divine Presence. Rather, this Gemarah is speaking about the perception of Hashem through limkud hatorah, the study of Torah.

The Rambam in Hilchos Yesodei Hatorah chapter 4 halacha 13 spells out clearly that the process of discovery of a deeper understanding of G-d on a metaphysical plane, through the venue of limud hatorah, is a very diffuclult process which few are able to attain. How does one discover these ideas. The Rambam in Hilchos Yesodei Hatorah perek 4 halacha 11 says, “The topic of the Ma’aseh Hamerkava even to a single person we do not teach straight out. Unless, the person is a wise knowledgeable man and we give him the rashei haprakim, the general concepts and points.

My father, Rabbi Shalom Richter, suggested that the Gemarah in succah is using “those who may enter only with permission”( Ha Di’ayil b’var) and one who may enter without permission to describe two different type of people in their quest to understand Ma’aseh Hamerkava and the Metaphysics. The first type of person is one who the rebbi gives rashei prakim and that is all he is capable of understanding. This is what the Gemarah refers to as the “Ha Di’ayil b’var”. The second type of student is one who when the Rebbi gives him the Rashei Prakim is able to use them as a springboard to develop those ideas further. With the process of extraction, formulation, and conceptualization, the Talmid can go beyond the Rebbi, and get to the ideas behind the intended lesson and can discover subtle ideas in the knowledge of Hashem.This second category is what the Gemarah in Succah refers to as “Those who may enter without permission”.

The Mishkan is a place where metaphysics and deep knowledge of G-d are brought out and amplified. It is a place where people could go to learn and investigate deep ideas. Betzalel, the builder of the Mishkan, needed to be aware of these deap ideas in the process of building the structure. Moshe’s goal of not clearly stating what needed to be built first was to provide Betzalel an idea with which he needed to ask and engage in the study in the knowledge of G-d. By engaging and investigating further, beyond the information and methodology that Moshe gave him, Betzalel was able to Ha Di’ayil b’lo b’var: Go beyond the Rashei Perakim and develop the ideas further.

Have a Wonderfull Shabbos!

Please leave any ideas or thoughts that you have on the dvar torah. Thanks!

Parshas Pikudei #1- The Completion of Geulas Mitzrayim

Towards the very end of Sefer Shemos, The Torah states: Pasuk 34, “The Cloud covered the Ohel Moed and the glory of Hashem filled the Mishkan”.

The Ramban in his introduction to Sefer Shemos says, “The Book of Shemos discusses the exile of Klal Yisrael and the redemption. Therefore the Torah repeats the names of the Sons of Yaakov going down to Egypt, because it signifies the beginning of the Galus. And the Exile does not end until the day that we return to our place, the place of our forefathers. Even after we went out of Egypt although we left slavery we were still considered to be in exile. And it was not until Har Sinai and then creating the Mishkan and G-d resting his shechina upon the Mishkan where we were considered redeemed. It is because of this that Sefer Shemos ends with the resting of the Cloud on the Mishkan and G-d’s glory continuously filling the Mishkan.”

The point of our freedom from slavery was to ultimately serve Hashem. Therefore, the shechina’s resting on Klal Yisrael demonstrated that we reestablished the close relationship between us and G-d and the divine intervention and awareness that we had been aspiring to. The pisukim continue and discuss the Masaos; the Annan and Eish which was going to lead us the rest of the way until Eretz Yisrael. The Annan, which shows G-d’s close interaction and relationship with Klal Yisrael by protecting them, is demonstrating that our relationship with Hashem is going to carry all the way until we get to Eretz Yisrael and after we settle their.

May we be zocheh to have that close relationship and come to the ultimate redemption very soon.

Good Shabbos