nis’ah venelechah (Gen. 33:12) This phrase means either ‘we will travel and we will proceed’ or ‘Travel! and we will proceed.’ The problem is that the Nun of nis’ah may be a prefix (as the Nun of venelechah certainly is and means ‘we will’) or it may be part of the root of nis’ah (in which case the verb is an imperative, Travel!). R’ A. ibn Ezra and R’ D. Kimche mention both possibilities. R’ Levi ben Gershon seems to opt for ‘we will.’ Rashi however writes nis’ah like shim’ah tefilati (Psalms 102:2) ‘Listen to my prayer,’ shilchah hanaar (Gen. 43:8) ‘Send the lad’ which is like shema, shelach, so too here nis’ah is like nesa and the Nun of nis’ah is part of the root and the translation (quoting Onkelos) is ‘Travel! and we will proceed’ Esav said to Yaakov: Travel from here! and we will proceed.
At first sight it is attractive to read the two Nuns as parallel, both to be read as future first person plural ‘we will.’ Of the classical commentators who deal with the phrase, one prefers this interpretation, while two others give both meanings equal weight. Why does Rashi give preference to the other possibility?
R’ E. Mizrachi (15th-16th cent.), Mira Dachya (discussion of grammar in Rashi, 18th cent.), Meirat Einayim (quoted by R’ Chavel), and Leshon Chayim (discussion of grammar in Rashi, Jerusalem, 1970), each in his own style, argue that it is because there is no Dagesh in the Samech of nis’ah. They state that if the Nun were a prefix, the Nun of the root would be missing, and there would need to be a Dagesh in the Samech of nis’ah.
However, R’ M. Yaffe (16th-17th cent.) in Levush Ha’Orah, answers R’ E. Mizrachi by pointing out that we never find a Dagesh in the Samech of vayisa when the Samech has a Sheva (i.e. vayis’u). It would seem that the later authors who took the same view as R’ E. Mizrachi overlooked this point in the Levush. Thus the original question stands. Why does Rashi give preference to the possibility that nis’ah means ‘Travel!’? My original answer was that Rashi followed Onkelos. However that only pushes the question back to Onkelos. ‘Why does Onkelos give preference to the possibility that nis’ah means ‘Travel!’?’ The answer in the Levush is based on the text itself. The word ‘travel’ is relevant to Yaakov who was on his way from one place to another. But for Esav who had only come to welcome Yaakov and was returning home, the word ‘travel’ was not appropriate. Therefore Onkelos and Rashi prefer the option by which the word nis’ah is in the singular and refers only to Yaakov – ‘Travel!’
R’ Chanoch Oppenheim wrote ‘It bothered me that the word Raban that was only used for a few generations and only in reference to the Nassi, should be used as the shoresh [of rabbanim]. By the time of Rebbi, the Nassi was no longer given this title. Therefore, why should such a limited word be used for the plural of “Rav?” An ‘adam chashuv’ suggested that the meaning of “Raban” means “our teacher.” If the plural would’ve been “Rabim” it would simply mean Rabbis. Perhaps chazal were stressing the idea that these are not simply a group of learned scholars, rather they are our teachers. It is with this perspective that chazal desired that we view our Rabanim’.
Further to last week’s discussion of vayifga bamakom, R’ M. Eisemann of Kiryat Sefer wrote: Regarding R’ A. ibn Ezra’s comment there that nowhere in the Tenach does makom mean Omnipresent, he refers to ‘Derech Hachaim’ in the verse ki kol shulchanot male’u ki tzoah beli makom (Isaiah 28:8) which states that although all the commentators on the Tenach explain the verse as did R’ A. ibn Ezra, nevertheless elsewhere there are many who explained makom as meaning the Holy One Blessed be He. The verse is quoted in Pirkei Avot (3:4) and there it is explained as Omnipresent by Bartenura, Rashi (in the Gemara), Tiferet Yisrael, Derech Hachaim (Maharal Mi-Prague), and R’ Yona (partly).
R’ Eisemann makes a further point. All editions of Rashi on the Torah refer to the verse al tifga bi (Jer. 7:16). However in Chulin (91b) Rashi refers to a totally different verse al tifge’i bi (Ruth 1:15). The word bi refers to the speaker, Ruth herself, and thus there is no reason to regard the parallel word bamakom to be a reference to God. Thus there is good reason to regard vayifga as meaning ‘prayer’ and leave bamakom with its plain meaning ‘at the place.’
Further to the meaning of Vav HaHipuch R’ Eisemann sent me ‘an excerpt from HaRechasim LeVik’ah by R’ Yehudah Leib Shapira, a very reliable book, first published in Altona 1815.’ This passage criticizes a translator who left out the ‘and’ aspect of Vav HaHipuch and translated them as though they were the beginning of the passage. Thus for Vayomer peloni or for vayelech peloni he wrote ‘So and so said’ or ‘So and so went’ and this damages the meaning and the language. For most of these Vavs connect the current item to the item before it as is well known (Vayera 18).
“Hatzileni Na Miyad Achi Miyad Eisav” “Save me please from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Eisav (Eisau)”
Yaakov (Jacob) stood in mortal danger. His evil brother Eisav, jealous over the blessing Yaakov had received from their father, was preparing to attack him. Yaakov prayed to Hashem that he should be delivered from Eisav’s hands.
In actuality, Yaakov faced a two-fold peril. On one hand, Eisav posed a serious physical threat. On the other hand, peace with Eisav could jeopardize Yaakov and his family in the spiritual sense. Fraternizing with the wicked Eisav would leave them open to be influenced by his morally decadent ways.
Yaakov therefore prayed to be spared from both dangers. “Save me please from the hand of my brother”, alludes to Yaakov’s wish that he be protected from the negative influence of Eisav in the event that he makes overtures of brotherly love. “From the hand of Eisav” refers to his request that he be spared from a man whose name has become synonymous with physical threat – Eisav.
Parashat Vayeitzei appears to be the first in the middle of the three parshiot that focus on Yaakov Avinu – the Patriarch Jacob. The first – Toldot – sets the scene and escalates the tension between Jacob and Esau. Firstly over the birthright, and secondly, with the blessing. Jacob has to leave home and the Holy Land in a hurry, to the hospitality of Laban some eight hundred kilometers to the north. The second parasha – this week’s – is the bridging ‘roller coaster’. G-d promises him His protection wherever he goes. But he still has to endure falling in love with Rachel and his uncle holding her back, ‘excusing himself’ with local custom. And his success as a cattle breeder arouses Laban’s family’s jealousy to the degree that he has to leave – again in a hurry – with an enraged Laban in hot pursuit. And the greatest tension of all in the next parasha – Esau coming to meet him with four hundred men, which eventually gives way to Jacob’s homecoming and (finally, albeit temporarily), literally ‘Jacob living in quietude and at ease, with none to make him afraid’ (c.f. Jer. 46:27).
In short, this week’s Parasha is one of temporary – though spectacular – trials and tribulations, towards a greater goal.
The next three parshiot – are in the same rhythm; and this time the focus is on Joseph and his brothers, Jacob’s sons. The first – Vayeishev – sets the scene and escalates the tension: more than once. With the dreams and Joseph’s narrowly escaping death, and being sold into slavery. And his rising from a humble slave to the position of Potiphar’s manager, getting him the ‘attention’ of Potifphar’s wife, and her allegations of Joseph ‘getting too close’ – following which Joseph finds himself at the bottom of the Egyptian dungeons. The second parasha – Miketz – is again the bridging ‘roller coaster’; his rise to the top of Pharaoh’s court, his brothers having to make ‘over-frequent journeys’ between Canaan and Egypt for ‘high-tension-charged’ reasons – finishing on a note where Benjamin is to be taken into permanent Egyptian slavery. And again – with Judah’s impassioned plea rising to the highest point of the tension opening the following parasha, the truth emerges that ‘Joseph is still alive and he is a ruler in the land of Egypt’ (45:26), and the family is finally re-united and reconciled.
In short, Miketz – the parallel parasha to this week’s – is in the same mold. Like Vayeitzei, it goes through temporary – though spectacular – trials and tribulations, towards a greater goal.
Vayeitzei and Miketz have the distinction of not only being amongst the longest parshiot in the Torah, but have the joint uniqueness of being written in the Sefer Torah without a break – in one continuous prose paragraph. No other parasha in the Torah – however long or short – contains that characteristic. They are all broken up – as Rashi elsewhere (to Lev. 1:10) points out – to allow ‘pause for thinking it over’ between section and section.
Not so with Vayeitzei, not so with Miketz. Despite their great length, there are no pauses to catch breath and ‘think things over’.
This arrangement brings an important message. Many honest people who strive to their great and worthy goals in life find themselves on the seemingly interminable lonely ‘path less trodden’, with tensions, trials, tribulations, and a long series of frustrations. The message is – like this week’s parasha – ‘Don’t pause! Don’t look behind’. Press on, with your compass pointing to those great goals and destinies which will become yours in due course – and only then, on arrival, can you sit and contemplate the long journey, whose ‘trials and tribulations’ will finally make sense as the dots join themselves all together.
‘I will make you My bride forever. I will make you My bride [in reward for] your righteousness, justice, kindness, and compassion. I will make you a bride in reward for your faith. Then you will know G-d.’ (Hosea 2:21-22)
The prophet Hosea preached to the Ten Tribes in the northern kingdom of Israel during the prosperous reign of Jeroboam II – after whose death came the troubled times leading to their final fall to Assyria in 721 BCE. His Divine revelations focused on their pagan practices, and their infidelity towards G-d and their own traditions. The Talmud (Pesachim 87a) brings a tradition, creating the background to the prophecy. G-d told Hosea that Israel had sinned, to which the prophet replied: “All the world is Yours. If they are untrustworthy, exchange them for another nation.”
G-d replied to him: “Go and marry a prostitute who has conceived children from her prostitution, because the Land strays from G-d.” (1:2). This opening chapter of Hosea relates that he had three children from this marriage, and was instructed by G-d give them names of such a nature that they would reveal G-d’s plans for the wayward northern kingdom. The first was a son – which He ordered to be called ‘Jezreel’, meaning that G-d would gather in the exiled Israelites and ‘plant’ them in their Land. That would, however, be in the distant future only. The second was a daughter called ‘Lo-Ruchamah’ – ‘Object of No Mercy.’ That was near to the present: G-d would no longer show mercy to unrepentant Israelites. And the third – the youngest son – was ordered to be called ‘Lo-Ammi’ – ‘Not My People’. That also concerned the present – a statement that the Israelites had forfeited their right to be the Chosen People.
The Talmud (supra 87b) interjects that at that point G-d commanded Hosea to turn his wife and three children out of his home. Then – only then – did Hosea realize his grave mistake in having made a similar suggestion to the Almighty: “All the world is Yours. If they are untrustworthy, exchange them for another nation.”
This forms the scenery for the Haftara – in which Hosea pleads with G-d to have mercy on the Israelites once more. Understanding the depth of his error in speaking ill of his own people, he gives his own blessing that the Israelites will be as numerous as the grains of sand on the seashore (2:1). Their grave faults will be put right: Israel, like the straying wife, will be loved once again. The children’s names will change to ‘Ammi’ – ‘My People’, and ‘Ruhama’ – ‘Object of Mercy.’
That, however, is for the future. The message for the immediate present was simple: Hosea tells the children: “Rebuke your mother” to live faithfully (2:4) for if she does not, she and the children themselves will be disowned. She consorts with other men because she sees them as supplying ‘my bread and my water, my wool and my linen, my oil and my drink.’ (2:7) She will find that they betray her, leaving her abandoned, vulnerable, and utterly helpless. She will then yearn to return to her first husband, but he will not embrace her. Instead, he ‘will uncover her shame in the sight of her lovers’ (2:11), blighting ‘her vines and fig trees, about which she said “these are my fees which her lovers gave me.”‘ She will lose her joyous festivals, which are G-d’s true festivals, as well as the festivals of the pagan worship of Baal (2:13,15) with which she tried to replace them, leaving her with nothing. For she, and the subject of this object lesson, the Israelites themselves, abused the wealth given to them by their ‘lovers’. Israel abused its G-d given wealth by using silver and gold for Baal-worship (2:10).
This dejection will give way to a new era. The wife in the parable and the Israelites in real life will be ‘charmed’ (2:16) – in the case of the latter, G-d will instill a desire to repent and come close to Him (c.f. Deut. 4:29). They will be taken to the ‘desert’. Most commentaries understand this to mean the long period of exile, but Ibn Ezra suggests that it refers to a period that may well be part of living memory – to the land of Israel, which will have taken on the appearance of a desert. He will give her ‘vineyards and change the Valley of Affliction to the Opening of Hope.’ Significantly, the Targum advocates that these ‘vineyards’ are Israel’s spiritual leaders and the philanthropists: the necessary spiritual and economic elements to restore the people in harmony to the Land.
The Haftara concludes with a promise that Israel will be restored to its innocence. The cruel physical and wicked human forces will cease to trouble her, and she shall be G-d’s chosen in security and at ease. He will restore the His relationship with Israel as in the beginning: ‘I will make you My bride forever. I will make you My bride [in reward for] your righteousness, justice, kindness, and compassion. I will make you a bride in reward for your faith. Then you will know G-d.’ (2:21-22)
The issue of G-d Who hates promiscuity ordering His prophet Hosea to marry a whore disturbed the commentators. The Rambam (Guide II:46), and Ibn Ezra maintain that he did not actually take a prostitute as a wife, but merely saw himself doing so in a prophetic vision. However, Abarbanel and later the Malbim take the narrative literally – he did form a union with such a woman of low repute, and the opening chapters of Hosea do mean what they say. Indeed, Abarbanel claims that the passages must be read that way in order to understand the true nature of prophecy. He writes:
“Those commentators have no claim in saying that, out of concern for the prophet’s honor, G-d would not have commanded Hosea to marry a harlot… G-d did not select the prophets in order to bestow honor upon them or raise them to the throne! No, he selected them for only one purpose: so that they would serve as His envoys in assisting His chosen people to repent for their sins. He commanded His prophets to do whatever He deemed necessary to reach this goal, regardless of their honor. Sometimes words were not sufficient; sometimes real actions were required to grab the people’s attention. Only in this manner would the prophet’s rebuke penetrate the people’s hearts, since that which a person sees with his eyes affects him for more that which he hears. Therefore, regardless of the fact that the prophet was a holy man, G-d commanded him to marry a harlot in order to illustrate that by worshiping idols, the Israelites had in fact done the same. In truth, it would have been fitting for Hosea to do even stranger things than marry a harlot if this would have helped dissuade the people from idolatry.”
Underlying this explanation is the notion that there are situations where the very mission of great personalities requires them to act in a way not normally associated with their position. Hosea being told to take a whore is one example. The story below – much nearer to our own times, serves to illustrate the same theme: a leader must be prepared to act in an unusual way in order to make the right impact on the community. In this case, the issue was not idolatry, but the importance of never doing good at the expense of others – never being a ‘tzadik’ (righteous person) at someone else’s expense.
Rabbi Israel Salanter (1810-1883) illustrated this above maxim with a personal experience, one of which had to do with Yom Kippur, of which he said:
“It is right and it is good that women go to the synagogue. It is true that the most important day of the year is Yom Kippur and that women should attend the Kol Nidrei (evening) service. But it is wrong that a woman attends that service if she leaves babies and young children at home without proper supervision.”
It once happened that Reb Israel was late for the Kol Nidrei service, so late in fact that members of the synagogue went in search of him. They found him in the home of a poor woman, rocking a baby’s cradle. “What is the matter, Rebbe?” they asked. “I was passing when I heard a baby crying,” Reb Israel replied, “I came in and found the mother had gone to synagogue leaving the tot in the care of the eldest daughter who is six or seven. I quietened the little one, but then the elder one begged me to stay because she was frightened of being all by herself.”
From the pulpit that evening he pointed out that the Mitzvah, the good deed, the mother thought she was doing by attending synagogue was more than negated by the sin she had committed in leaving her young children unattended.
Remember that Rabbi Israel Salanter was one of the greatest and most influential spiritual leaders of his day, indeed, of the entire modern era. He was neither a child minder nor a babysitter – most certainly not on Yom Kippur, when a vast community was waiting for him. He could no doubt have sent for someone to look after the children so that he could hurry along and not keep the congregation waiting.
But Reb Israel had a real message to give: one that was right and fitting for the ‘over-holy’ members of his congregation: never being a ‘tzadik’ at someone else’s expense! And like Hosea, he acted it out to ensure that his message would be remembered and internalized: “Why was the Rabbi late for Kol-Nidrei?” And that was underlined by the people’s having to wait for a long time until the proceedings of the evening began…
The phrase morat ruach is commonly translated as bitter distress – from the Hebrew word mar, meaning bitter. Rashi however relates morat ruach to a similar-sounding noun meaning rebellion: Esau’s wives openly practiced idolatry with the rebellious and malicious intent of causing maximum pain to Isaac and Rebecca.
Sforno expresses the parents’ feelings dramatically. With reference to a similar usage in Judges 13:5, he renders their attitude and behavior of morat ruach as “a razor and knife that cut short the spirit in the lives of Isaac and Rebecca”.
But in spite of this, Isaac tried to give the blessing to Esau. He did not, as Sforno emphasizes, recognize Esau’s behavior as intrinsically wicked, nor did he protest against the conduct of the wives. It appears that he suffered in silence, continuing to create space for them within his household in the hope that things might presently work out.
What finally caused Isaac to see things differently? According to Sforno, it was his lack of success in giving the Blessing to Esau. He recognized the Hand of G-d in the success and rightness of Jacob’s deception when he took what was intended for Esau, with the words “Yes, let him (Jacob) remain blessed” (27:26). Isaac read his failure as G-d saying that Jacob was worthy to succeed him and that Esau was unworthy to succeed him.
It appears that Isaac and Rebecca brought up their very different sons by creating the space for them to develop as individuals. Jacob was a person who ‘lived in tents’ – understood by the Rabbis as one who studied, and received the Tradition from his father, and later ‘in the School of Shem and Ever’. His source of instruction was interacting with the worthy fathers of the Tradition. In contrast, Esau was a man ‘who knew hunting, a man of the field’ – Isaac accepted that his education came from the Creation; the outside world was his teacher. He would distill the sacred truths from the experiencing reality – at the cost of many false starts and turns. Both approaches are valid – one suits one type of person and the other suits another. Everyone can potentially become the best possible person within his ability range, but not everyone can be a leader and bearer of a tradition.
The issue is when to stand by and when to intervene. The line between letting the individual learn from his/her mistakes, and what is not to be tolerated can be difficult to draw – all the more so in the days before the Torah was given with its explicit prohibition of marriage to a Canaanite (Deut. 7:3).
PARASHAT TOLDOT (HAFTARA) 5772
‘I have been loving you (the Israelites)’ said G-d, ‘ But I hated Esau, and I made his mountains a desolation, and his heritage for the desert serpents.’
‘O Priests! Who scorn my name… you bring abominable bread to my altar! And you bring a blind (defective) animal to my altar… would you bring such a thing as a present to your (Persian) governor?’ (Malachi 1:2-8 – extracts)
The prophesies of Malachi conclude the entire order of the Prophets within the Tenach. Who, however, was Malachi? The actual text gives no clue. Even the Talmud is uncertain of his actual identity. Recognizing that this prophesy was a late message- already after the building of the Second Temple – one opinion claims that Malachi was Ezra; another prefers Mordechai, but most hold that Malachi is his proper name, and that he was a prophet in his own right (Megilla 15a).
From his position in the last line of prophets it is reasonable to assume that he was the latest prophet of all, and this is supported by the text. Like Haggai and Zechariah before him, he lived after the Return from Babylon, but unlike them, he was obviously in action after the rebuilding of the Second Temple, as he criticizes the offerings brought there.
The Prophet Malachi urges that Israel cannot achieve its destiny just because of Esau’s downfall. A nation who accepted upon itself to be G-d’s people must deserve its privileged status amongst Mankind. Thus the Prophet severely chastens the Jews for the hypocrisy of those who, encouraged by their self-serving and insincere priests, can turn the service of G-d into what he patently sees as a farce. How dare they offer their old, crippled, and ill animals to G-d, while at the same time retaining the best for themselves? Would they dare give a something defective as a present to their Persian overlords?
Malachi thus exhorts the Jewish Priests to live up to their calling. They must be the teachers and model personalities. They can indeed spiritually raise the standard of the Jewish people if they set the example – a message that applies to all leaders, both religious and temporal.
Given the above, the actual dating of Malachi is difficult: however he must have been active between the period of the second Temple before the Jews put away their foreign wives under Ezra (implied in Mal. 2:11) – which would suggest his time being between 515 and 450 BCE (Rosenberg, S.G.: The Haftara Cycle  p. 20).
In his opening prophecy, Malachi includes the message that although Esau was Jacob’s brother, G-d loves (the nation of Jacob) and hates Esau. He then proceeds to severely rebuke the very nation that He loves. What has Esau got to do with his rebuke to Jacob?
Rosnenberg (supra) suggests that the connection with Esau refers to the latter’s conduct at very end of the First Temple Period. In the last Babylonian invasion of Judah in 586 BCE, ‘brother’ Edom (identified with Esau in Gen. 36:1) took advantage of Judah’s weaknesses to raid their territory and ravage the countryside. The Book of Isaiah refers to this event with the words: ‘Who is this coming from Edom, in blood-red garments (Isaiah 63:1)’ – indeed, the whole prophesy of Obadiah attacks Esau – very likely for this reason. This cowardly act on the part of a neighboring ‘brother’ rankled with the Jews for hundreds of years. Retribution finally came to ‘Esau’ under the Maccabees when the king, John Hyrcanus conquered Edom in 120 BCE and forcibly converted the population from paganism to Judaism. That ‘victory’ only lasted for a short time: unseemly squabbles between rival Hasmonean families and their supporters for the succession to the throne enabled the son of one such convert (following Josephus) – Herod the Great – to take advantage and, with the backing of Rome, usurp the throne (37 BCE), massacre the Hasmoneans, and firmly lock Judea into the Roman Empire, with all its disastrous consequences.
As Isaac said when he blessed Esau:
‘By the sword you shall live, and your brother you shall serve. Yet it will be that when you are aggrieved, you may cast off his yoke from upon your neck.’ (Gen. 27:40)
The Midrash (Gen. Rabba 67:7) understands this verse as follows. If Israel transgresses the Torah and is undeserving of dominion, you will have the right to be aggrieved that he has taken your blessings: then you may cast the (Israelite) yoke from upon your neck.
This principle underlies G-d’s connection between Esau and His severe warnings through Malachi to the descendants of Jacob. He implied that the Jews would only be able to continue to enjoy the His protection and guidance if they behaved as their forefather did. Jacob was a ‘simple man who lived in tents’ (Gen. 25:27) – the word ‘simple’ according to Rashi meaning that he was an honest, straightforward personality. That contrasted with Esau who ‘hunted with his mouth’ (ibid: 28): understood by the same commentator to be someone who makes himself out to exemplify one thing, but in reality exemplifies something very different.
This also links with Malachi’s expression of G-d’s wrath against the Temple offerings. He effectively thundered that they were brought on the cheap – ‘the blind, the lame, the sick’. Even if the origins of such offerings could deceive the people, they could not deceive G-d. G-d knew the difference! And those responsible for allowing such deceptions were in effect going further than Esau. Esau deceived his father as to the nature of his personality (Rashi to ibid: ad loc). The Jews under Malachi attempting to deceive the Creator Himself!
That was the nature of the rebuke – effectively saying that such deceit would be preparing the ground for another rise of Esau’s descendants. If the Israelites behaved as Esau exemplified, Edom would be justified in thinking that the Jews were not worthy of being G-d’s chosen people, and He would support them accordingly.
As a message – without the Temple, prayer replaces offerings (c.f. Hosea 12:3). A Jew should aim to pray in such a way that he is making worthwhile, positive contact with G-d – ‘a valid unblemished high-quality offering’. The author was privileged to watch a certain leading Torah personality pray the Mincha silent prayer. He uttered no sound, yet one could feel the deep sincerity words of his words connecting with Heaven. No physical exercises, agonizing facial distortions, or taking a conspicuously long time to complete the prayer, but a meaningful, honest, communication with G-d and putting his praises, needs, and gratitude before Him.
Last week, the Jewish Tribune ran an
advertisement for a course to qualify as
a To’en Rabbani. The course is organised
by the American organisation Pirchei
Shoshanim, headed by Rabbi Fischel Todd
of Lakewood. It is designed for those who
seek structure and accomplishment in their
learning and want to further their practical
knowledge of Shulchan Aruch Choshen
Mishpat, especially those who work full
time and would otherwise not have the
possibility to study Choshen Mishpat. It has
the approval of rabbanim in Eretz Yisrael
and the United States, most importantly in
this country the course has the haskama h of Rav Avraham Gurwitz. The course is also
recognised by the Law Society of England
and Wales as a distance Learning CPD
Course Provider. The program teaches how
to deal with the court system, and many
other practical applications.
Intrigued by a course of this type, I spoke
to Rabbi Dovid Kestenbaum of Manchester
who is involved in promoting the course
in this country, who told me more details
about the course.
“I have known Rabbi Fischel Todd for
many years” shares Rabbi Kestenbaum, “and
he is a true tzaddik who has a tremendous
love for Yidden, for Torah and for Bnei
Torah. Rabbi Todd is involved in many
novel initiatives for the sake of increasing
Torah learning all over the world. His
organisation, Y eshivas Pir chei Shoshanim,
offers worldwide learning opportunities in
several languages on a variety of topics
with shiurim by top talmidei chachamim.
It also offers semicha programs and trains
orthodox chaplains for the US armed forces.
Rabbi Todd is also coordinator of military
chaplaincy affairs in the United States armed
forces, which means that his organisation has
the authority to approve Jewish chaplains for
the army and he has been instrumental in
curtailing reform and conservative influences
in the US armed forces.”
Rabbi Todd is a talmid of the late Rav
Aryeh Leib Berenbaum, zt’l, the son of Rav
Shmuel Berenbaum zt’l Rosh Yeshiva of Mir,
New York and of Rav Avidgor Miller, who
encouraged his initiatives.
Rabbi Kestenbaum continued to explain
that Rabbi Todd has now started a program
to train lay people in the halochos of
Choshen Mishpat. “ When Rabbi T odd
turned to me for help with introducing
the course in England, I felt apprehensive
about the idea of a course to train to’anim
rabani’im. After all, doesn’t the Mishnah in
Pirkei Avos say ‘al tehi ke’orchei hadayanim’”,
“I knew that in America Rabbi Todd has
close connection with Rav Eliyahu Levine. I
am close to Rav Eliyahu Levine who is a great
talmid chacham and a halachic authority.
Just as an example of his status as a posek,
I will tell you that after the World Trade
Centre attack, Rav Elyashiv referred all agunos shaalos to him, and he would call Rav
Levine many times to discuss cases with him.
I approached my Rosh Yeshiva Rav Avraham
Gurwitz, to ask his opinion on this matter
and I was surprised to hear his enthusiasm
for the initiative.”
Rabbi Kestenbaum discussed the
course with Rav Avraham and he was
very encouraging, saying that this was an
opportunity to open up knowledge of
Choshen Mishpat to a wider public. The
study of Choshen Mishpat is very much
neglected, says Rav Gurwitz and there is a
tremendous need to broaden its knowledge.
With this course, he said, people will be able
to learn Choshen Mishpat in a structured
“I was also apprehensive about the fact
that the course is approved by secular
institutes of higher learning and that people
studying law will take the course just to
cover their quota of study requirements and
may not have erliche intents,” shares Rabbi
Kestenbaum, “but Rav Gurwitz dispelled
my fears. He emphasised the importance
of vetting candidates for the actual to’en
rabani qualification so that only serious yirei shomayim should act in this capacity,
but that the fact that it will be used by the
wider community as a study requirement
for their law studies is no problem, he said,
because ultimately it is an initiative that
will increase in-depth Limmud Torah in an
area that is sorely neglected and the fact
that it is an approved course by the Law
Society does nothing to detract from its
importance. It will appeal to professionals
because it is presented in a structured and
organised form, said Rav Gurwitz and if this
will encourage them to learn more Torah,
it is no different from any lo lishma that
Chazal promise will lead to Torah lishma.
Since the course will put the lomdim in touch
with talmidei chachamim and dayanim both
abroad and in this country, it will ultimately
increase the respect for batei dinim and
Rabbi Kestenbaum further elaborates that
Rabbi Avraham Pam is known to have
decried the fact that people go into business
without any knowledge – or even awareness
– of the complicated halachos of Choshen
Mishpat and he often used to emphasize
the importance of studying Choshen Mishpat before going into business. There are so
many halochos that can be transgressed by
lack of knowledge, like halochos of mekach
tov, the transgressions of over-charging, of
ribbis and so much more. Rav Eliyhau Levine
is known to have said the recent financial
recession was Heavenly retribution for Klal
Yisrael’s lack of knowledge of Hilchos Ribbis.
Rabbi Kestenbaum also shared that the
fact that the course is given in English didn’t
bother Rav Gurwitz. On the contrary, he
said, it will allow access to Choshen Mishpat
to a large audience. This will increase
awareness of potential pitfalls in business and Rabbi Fishel Todd will make people aware of ‘what they don’t
know and what they need to ask’.
As part of the to’en program Pirchei
Shoshanim is planning to open legal clinics in
this country where dayanim will be available
to answer shaalos in Choshen Mishpat so the
course participants will have the opportunity
to learn from real-life shaalos and scenarios.
a message as follows: Most don’t know how
to learn the Shulchan Aruch, but those few
who do need a very big broom to clear the
dust that has accumulated on sections of
Choshen Mishpat. In Eretz Yisrael 40% of
the cases are presented to the Rabbinical
Courts by non–frum lawyers who can plead
their case because they have a law license!
The Rosh Yeshiva wants us to set a standard.
Our sister organisation Chesed v’Mishpat
has an office in Bnei Brak since we are
approved to provide the preparatory course
to take the exams of the Rabbanut through
our www.limd.co.il branch. We also have a
Spanish-speaking branch. Our Israel office
has 40 European Communities who are
members of the Conference of European
Rabbis based in London, and we hope they
as well will take advantage of this program.
Chesed v’Mishpat is creating a database of
every proper Beis Din in the world and
will create their own worldwide T o’en
association as the lawyers do.
This will provide a resource which will
be available to plead their cases in front
of a proper Beis Din and To’enim that are
experts in their field just as lawyers have
Rabbi Kestenbaum concludes our
conversation with a vort that he heard
from a well-known English ger tzedek on the
words in Tehilim: maggid devarav leyaakov,
chukav umishpatav le-Ysrael, lo asa chen lechol
goy umishpatim bal yeda’um…. A non-Jew
can also understand that chukim are of
Divine origin, given to us by Hashem. What
he cannot grasp is the concept that for us
Yidden, even mishpatim – civil laws – which
every civilised country possesses – are not
just creations of the human mind. Rather,
they have been given to us from Shomayim
and they represent the ratzon Hashem.
In Rabbi Todd’s own words: Klal Yisrael
has thousands of very ‘ill’ people i.e. who
have legal problems, but very few doctors
– to’anim- and even less hospitals i.e. Batei
Dinim around the world. This is contrary
to the secular legal world where one can
file a lawsuit and hope for objectivity and
accountability. Our mission is to provide
guidance and support to all those seeking
assistance with the Beis Din system, thereby
alleviating any stress and uncertainty
associated with the world of halachic civil
The greatest issues we have today are
financial issues, continues Rabbi Fishel Todd. 70
years ago the challenge both in the U.K. and
U.S. was being able to make a living without
having to work on Shabbos, kashrus and the
like. Today Shabbos and kashrus are a way of
life. The youth have the best cuisine available
rivalling the non-Jewish world. We learn
in Parshas Yisro that Yisro advised Moshe
Rabbeinu that he wouldn’t and couldn’t by
himself handle all the court cases he had in
front of him and he had to appoint other
judges to handle the case load. This is even
more true today! If more than 3300 years
ago there were issues, then kal vachomer
in our time, yet the Jewish court structure
is one of the most mystifying and unknown
areas to the Jewish world. Our goal is to
unlock that mystery.
When Rabbi Kestenbaum went to his
rebbe, the Gateshead Rosh Yeshiva, he sent
Hello My name is Rabbi Fishel Todd. Today, our very special guest with me. Dr. Cohn. Dove is a very interesting person. He invited us to spend the day with him. Where are we today?
We’re at the Wadsworth Medical Center in Los Angeles, which is the largest facility in the western United States facility for for da medical.
Oh, that’s the guy that is that veteran. Right? Right. So we’re we’re, we’re in the largest VA facility Veterans Administration facility in the state are in Southern California, Southern California, Southern California.
And I come here because I am a veteran of the Vietnam War, served as a chaplain in the European theater for four years and then four years in the reserves, which were as we went Air Force, Air Force, got you to where you had to go.
Okay, there we go. That that’s important. Now, one of the reasons we’re leaving here today, we visited a veteran who was a very bad accident. But now our our kosher Meals Program has now taken a new level of being involved with veterans. Part of our organization is we endorsed chaplains, nightsticks military and VA and prison system. But in particular, we’re now been introduced to the VA world to the veterans and how much they need attention. intervention, as we call it. Now, Duff, could you tell me what your posts what your position is nationally and the Jewish word veterans and statewide and also one more thing is to explain to people, what is the Jewish word veterans?
Sure. Okay, so the Jewish word veterans started in late 1896. We are the oldest chartered veterans organization in the world. We also helped establish the American Legion in 1990. The Veterans are the most underserved, and in many cases under value of our population. And so, for the national program, I serve as the end homelessness campaign chairman, I created the program five years ago and I’ve been administrating it with my brothers and sisters in American Legion, amvets, VFW, Vietnam Veterans of America, you name the group, they’re involved in this endless and homeless campaign. We are all volunteers. All of the positions I hold are volunteer positions. I’m also the senior vice commander, which is the number two position in the state of California Jewish war veterans, and with proper support will become a the commander for the state next year. In addition, and also the chairman of the board of the National Cemetery support Foundation, where we provide funerals and burial for all veterans and their families. And we just opened a new columbarium that can accommodate up to 270,000 more funerals. We were closed for 20 years, we ran out of revenue.
So many, many people are watching this show. Our veterans,
yes, or families,
Many families, and especially our program, final hours caters to people who are 65 and older,
with that age, were involved with the war, and the veteran education veterinarian. And I think not that many people understand the Jewish word veterans and what they’re involved and the activities of Jew serving in the military where you want to speak about but
most people don’t realize that based on population, we exceed our numbers. We are 2% of the population of our country. But we have 4% of those serving on active duty. Also, the Jewish work veterans do a great deal more than advocate for Jewish veterans. What we do is fight anti semitism and any other type of prejudice and bigotry. As an example, we found that they were a number of Jewish veterans who should have received the Medal of Honor and didn’t 17 of them have now been awarded the Medal of Honor. We didn’t stop there. We looked at African Americans, we looked at Hispanics, we looked at Muslims. We said which of those should have received awards and decorations and did not. And those are now being processed or government’s attitude is changing. Thanks in great part to the Jewish Board of veterans of the United States. We’re very proud of them. It’s
it’s a I think it’s a point that we’re going to help for the media today. Yes, get the word out. Now of course we have been married now have taken over the posts that themself Orange County right with a with our commander in our organization sponsor and get and I
dreaded it himself a
former capital right right and for me while he actually he’s now a chaplain football
so he’s now he’s now our commander running my scenario is the rugby headshop on to the west coast with the Coast Guard and Reserve wonderful so that’s so he and he’s also the Jewish chaplain for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department
we’re gonna we ever had and he’s
the reason I’m sitting here because he reached out and we connected and we can we are right so and then
we understood that the posted some life yes we some life into
yeah invigorates us. So now along with invigoration, as people understand that we deliver kosher meals once a while, and we delivered 21 meals a week, deliver three times a week. Now we and you don’t have to be Jewish
to for those who don’t know how long it primarily is for the Muslim population and the Muslim population primarily by kosher food, because it meets the dietary requirements of my
client quite seated to a great extent because based on on our tradition, sure. So now we’re leaving here we’re going to discuss our intervention because the statistics are that over 22 veterans a day commit suicide in the country, right? We believe it’s much more north of that. But statistics, but that’s those
are the reported numbers.
But those numbers are still devastate
there. One is too many,
what you want one is too many. So you know, and Hebrew, there were cool snapfish, which is saving a life. So we believe by saving one person’s life, we say they work, right? So when you’re saying paintings, right? Sure. And, but because of that,
You see now that we do service many veterans, widows of veterans, there’s men are pre deceased and the women so when we’re coming across many women, and we’re this, my husband was in World War Two, it was a new regime, it was in France and Germany, and the newly
elected President of our la national cemetery is a woman, Air Force veteran, first time since 1889, that a woman has been elected President of the National Cemetery. Wow, that’s, that’s a big deal. We are really moving forward and trying to set the standard as high as we can. She’s very talented, we’re very lucky to have her Becca Adams with us.
So what we’re looking to you is to help us identify veterans, because our intervention is such that when we go out there are drivers, which many who are veterans, and there will be veterans serving veterans that they can spot issues, because we know what someone’s given food. And they’re alone, if they don’t know how to prepare it, they don’t have the incentive to do so. And on top of it, most people just say is on meds. And when they don’t follow the doctor’s prescriptions, then their body gets out. And then they tell us some instances what happens when people are isolated like that?
Well, isolation is probably the key word that we can use. There is so many veterans and spouses of veterans, a veteran becomes ill and dies. Now you have a surviving wife, you may have a child who has some type of consistent chronological medical problems. And there’s nobody really to look after them. Not everybody has a family support system. So it’s very important that what you’re talking about, and what you’re doing is, is changing their lives for the better. You deliver food but you deliver hope. And people, as you said, can then identify problems that they observed. And get that information back to somebody who can reach out to them and offer them some further support, whatever
that may be. See the uniqueness of our programs that you understand linear programs and delivering meals at home. I like Mr. E’s when explaining to me what an MRP is. That’s a
so those are meals that we deliver the the GI in the military. Oh,
yeah, there are shoes. Yeah, yeah. But they’re usually they can be frozen. They can be heavily salted. Not really what somebody needs. What you’re doing is providing freshly prepared quality food by professional chefs. And you’re delivering this to their home. How many times a week,
three times a week, but they’re designed to meet 21 meals. So so they’re multiple meals at each time. Right? Right, right. Yeah
and 21 meals a week. That’s fun. That’s every single day. You’re not serving meals. I mean, who could ask for bedroom? Right? So
where do I sign up? Well, I think you might, I thought you stopped at 39 like jack Benny, no, not
That’s a big deal. So. So if you’re in Los Angeles County, you’re in Orange County, you’re in San Bernardino County, you’re in Riverside County, hopefully soon San Diego County. And we’ll just call our numbers by flashing across the screen, but beneath me over here, and they can call us to let us know if they want to join. And I guess they don’t have to be Jewish to join. But at the same time, our focus now through having a forum like this is to let people know in the government, that there is another way like we can’t save everybody, but at the same time, the government is investing so much into Veterans Health and Safety, past being in the active duty component. And even the active duty component today, when I started endorsing chaplains, 1516 years ago, there was a suicide every 24 hours in the active duty component, which is even women which is disastrous. So when I was in Washington last time, they said it’s up 30%. So So that’s an active duty component. You know,
I don’t say it’s an excuse for veterans. It’s beyond anyone’s comprehension. And the viewers are sitting there shaking their head saying, How can that be? Right? So in this country, how can that be?
So So it’s, it’s, it’s very devastating to us. So now, even when you go and psychologist, the psychologist, they can talk to people, but the difference is, they say and he will, the pain is not concerning us, which means in English, like the inside, not the outside. So it’s just, we’re just not about puck, we’re about action. Sure. So when you when you when you’re interacting with someone, there’s pat on the back and say, you know, well, Joe, how’s it going today? That’s good, that’s not good. And another one said, well, Joe,
I got a menu for you. You know, I
got chicken I got steak, I got Parmesan, I got I got Thai salad for you. I’ve got so they have something to look forward to. And literally, a person’s life. And I went besides all this virus stuffs going on. isolation and and and preparation on when someone’s only you know, when when you have a family, you’re out there, busting your chops, make sure they’re happy. But someone’s alone. They don’t know what to do how to do it. They haven’t said they don’t want to get out of bed in the morning that many. They don’t have
a reason. But that’s the problem. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the pier k above that I believe in and follow is the one that says it is not incumbent upon us to finish the work. But neither are we free to desist from it. And I’ve always paraphrased to saying to start it because somebody else might finish. But you’ve got to get out there and do something.
Once it’s once upon a time place. I practice law. So I used to tell my clients is listen, the business you start out with invariably is not going to look like the one you end up with. Exactly. So we learn that in Jewish philosophy. It says everything comes from heaven, except the fear of heaven, and everything. Because of that, still, it’s incompetence to one thing, make efforts.
So here we walk into the into into your VA Home over here, and we learn a whole lot of things that you told me tell you about homeless veterans, and what can we do about that?
One of the problems that’s obvious because if you drive through the streets of LA, you will see homeless veterans in camped everywhere. They’re in Santa Monica, they’re in Woodland Hills. They’re not just downtown on Skid Row. They’re everywhere. And the numbers are staggering. The last count, I believe was over 28,000 veterans that are sleeping on the streets. Many of them have mental illness, but many of them do not they just given up. And by being able to reach out to them. People like Joe we deal with the hundreds project is find them and help them get them an appointment with the doctor, get them a phone card so they can call maybe the only friend they have in the world, and they have no way to reach them. So little things like that they have hydration, they take fans of cold water out everywhere in the hottest days, and they make sure that everybody at least can have water.
So we’re going to now with your help,
and the help of all of the Jewish word veterans in California and my fellow American Legion errs, and ambits and VFW all of them will help make this progress. So
basically, you’re going to help we’re gonna we have an army and army of veteran veterans that are going to help we hope to be as a little bit of Caught in the end that we’ll make this happen. I want to thank you for coming out here, the VA and just call us if you need us.
Sarah Imeinu & Esther ha’Malkah (Adapted from the Oznayim la’Torah)
“And (the duration of) Sarah’s life was one hundred and twenty-seven years, were the years of the life of Sarah” (23:1).
Why did Esther merit ruling over a hundred and twenty-seven countries, asks the Medrash?
And it answers ‘Let Esther, the granddaughter of Sarah, who lived to the age of a hundred and twenty-seven, come and rule over a hundred and twenty-seven countries!’
Sarah had many granddaughters, comments the Oznayim la’Torah. Why was specifically Esther chosen to enjoy this unique privilege?
The answer, he explains, lies in the fact that out of all Sarah’s descendants, Esther was the one who followed in her footsteps. She, more than all the others, inherited Sarah’s beautiful qualities. She like her illustrious grandmother, was faced with one of the most difficult tests that a woman can face – a test that deeply affected her femininity, the test of beauty. And, like her grandmother Sarah, she passed the test with flying colours.
One of the most powerful kings in the world, who ruled over a hundred and twenty-seven countries, dazzled by her beauty, places the crown upon her head and appoints her queen of Persia. A life of luxury, wealth and honour are hers, yet when, in order to save her people from annihilation, she is forced to choose between the two lifestyles, she says to Mord’chai – ” … If I perish, I perish” (Just as I am lost from my father’s house, so too am I lost from you” [Rashi, Esther, 4:16]).” Because, as Chazal explain, the moment she went willingly to Achashverosh as a wife, Esther would no longer be permitted to return to her husband, Mord’chai.
She could see nothing positive in being the world’s first lady. From now on, then, she would live in the royal palace as the Queen of Persia, cut off from her past; to her, that was total destruction! Indeed, she continued to live as she had before, scorning the luxurious lifestyle that surrounded her, subsisting the simple diet of Kasher food that she herself arranged. She may well have been the Queen of Persia in body, but in spirit, she remained the simple orphan girl who had been brought up in the home of her righteous uncle. And even then, she continued to follow his instructions as she had done previously.
And from whom did Esther learn this? From Sarah Imeinu! When Avraham and Sarah went down to Egypt, the Torah describes how the princes saw Sarah, who, Chazal tell us, was (after Chavah – who was created by the Hand of G-d) the most beautiful woman the world has ever seen, and , enamoured by her beauty, they informed the king. Par’oh lost no time. He brought her to the royal palace and crowned her queen. Sarah, however, like Esther later in history, was unfazed by the prospect of becoming queen of one of the most powerful kingdoms in the world of that time. She spent the entire first night in prayer, asking G-d to free her from ‘the prison’ (Medrash) in which she now found herself. And when G-d responded by sending an angel to assist her, she did not hesitate to order him to strike Par’oh whenever he tried to lay a hand on her, as Rashi points out. And the same story repeated itself when Avimelech, King of the P’lishtim, went the way of Par’oh, King of Egypt.
Once again, she preferred by far, to join Avraham in his efforts to convert people to believe in G-d and to serve Him, than to be ‘incarcerated’ in the royal palace of Avimelech, King of the P’lishtim.
Yes, Esther of all Sarah’s descendents, was the one to commemorate Sarah’s hundred and twenty-seven years by ruling over a hundred and twenty-seven countries. She was the spiritual heir of Sarah Imeinu, and followed in her footsteps.
* * *
Parshah Pearls (Adapted from the Oznayim la’Torah)
Life after Death
“And (the duration of) Sarah’s life was one hundred and twenty-seven years” (23:1).
Interestingly, the Parshah is recording Sarah’s death, yet it refers to it as ‘Sarah’s life’.
In the same vein, the Parshah of Vay’chi in recording Ya’akov’s death, says “And Ya’akov lived … “.
From here we can learn that real life is not the temporary life that we live in this world, but the eternal life that we will experience in the life after death (Oznayim la’Torah).
It seems to me that it also hints at what Chazal say ‘Tzadikim, even after they die, are still called alive’, because they may well have died, but their legacy lives on.
Sarah’s Timely Death
“The years of the life of Sarah” (Ibid.).
The Medrash relates how Sarah died when the Satan revealed to her that her son Yitzchak was about to be slaughtered. This might lead us to think, says the Oznayim la’Torah, that she was destined to live longer, and that her life was curtailed by the news of the Akeidah.
The Torah therefore adds he words “The years of the life of Sarah”, to inform us that she served her full term in this world, and that, if not for the Satan’s advent at that moment, she would have died by some other means – for, as the old saying goes ‘G-d has many emissaries at His disposal’.
Burial Place of the Mothers
“And Sarah died in Kiryas Arba, alias Chevron …” (23:2).
The Oznayim la’Torah cites two opinions in the Medrash, as to whether it was called by that name (‘the Town of Four’), on account of the four fathers (Adam, Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov) who were buried there, or on account of the four mothers (Chavah, Sarah, Rivkah and Le’ah [Rashi writes simply ‘the four pairs’]). And he asks why the mothers?
Because, he answers, the word “Arba” is feminine.
Alternatively, he says, citing the Y’fas To’ar, the four mothers all died before their husbands.
The latter comments on this that Le’ah died before Ya’akov, and is also borne out by the fact that her name is not included among the seventy souls who went down to Egypt.
The Oznayim la’Torah wonders why it is necessary to say this, however, since in Parshas Vay’chi Ya’akov Avinu specifically tells Yosef that he buried Le’ah in the Me’oras ha’Machpeilah.
“And Lavan and Besu’el answered and said ‘This matter stems from Hashem, we cannot say to you either bad or good’ ” (24:50).
This was a prophesy, the Oznayim la’Torah points out, though little did they realize it.
Twenty years later when Ya’akov fled and Lavan chased after him, Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu warned him not to speak with Ya’akov ‘either good or bad!’ Only G-d placed good before bad, whereas these evil men placed bad before good (as evil men tend to do).
A Change of Heart
“Let us call the girl and ask her what she thinks” (24:57).
Lavan and Besu’el already gave their consent to the union, indeed, the engagement (Kidushin) already took place, the Oznayim la’Torah comments, and it never occurred to them to ask Rivkah for her consent (although, according to Chazal, it would have been the correct thing to do, assuming she was three, imperative, according to those who maintain that she was fourteen).
What prompted them suddenly to change their minds?
Simple, says the Oznayim la’Torah. They had changed their minds and now decided that, even though the betrothal had already taken place, the wedding would not.
It is remarkable how before the meal, Lavan and Besu’el, having heard from Eliezer about the series of miracles that he had just experienced, were so overawed with what was clearly G-d’s hand in the proceedings, that they capitulated to Eliezer’s request – unconditionally. Yet, barely had they finished eating, Lavan and his mother (Besu’el, as Rashi explains, had since died) were already making plans to negate the Shiduch.
Searching for an excuse to prevent Rivkah from leaving, they therefore asked Rivkah what she thought about the idea, in the hope that she would, for some reason, reject Eliezer’s offer. In fact, the Oznayim la’Torah explains the words in the following Pasuk “Will you go with this man”, in a rhetorical sense ‘Will you really go with this (stranger?’).
And that is why Rivkah replied “I certainly will!” (whether you like it or not!)
Marriage & Love
“Yitzchak brought her to the tent of Sarah his mother; he took Rivkah and she became his wife; and he loved her …” (24:67).
It seems from here that love is a result of marriage, and not the other way round.
Avraham’s Gift to Yitzchak
“And Avraham gave all that he possessed to Yitzchak” (25:5).
Rashi cites Rebbi Nechemyah, who explains this with reference to the ability to bless whoever he wanted.
The Pasuk cannot be understood literally (with reference to his property), since he had already bequeathed to Yitzchak via Eliezer, when the latter went to Charan to find a wife for Yitzchak (Refer to Rashi, 24:10).
My name is Rabbi Fishel Todd, today I have a distinct pleasure to be sitting with Dr. Ron Gillis.
And he’s going to tell us a lot about himself and the work that he does, which is absolutely monumental, and really earth shattering and earth changing, affecting untold thousands of lives. Good morning. How you doing today? Good morning. How are you? Dr. Gillis
I wanted some of your background. know you’re a vet would you serve? It was Navy as a psychologist and I served in various locations throughout San Diego, post Vietnam and was part of those groups of mental health professionals who who dealt with PTSD before PTSD was even a formal diagnosis. So at that time, we discovered the relationship between addiction and PTSD. So it’s been something that I have dealt with for over 40 years in my professional and personal life, for that matter. What’s your educational background, I have a doctorate in clinical psychology and Master’s in developmental and also educational psychology. So I’m a licensed psychologist for over 40 years. So the other day, we had a chance to go around and visit veterans for our program, we deliver kosher meals, you don’t have to be Jewish to get the meals as well. Set a three, three meals a day, 21 meals a week, and we’re out there to to address veterans, and other people who are 65 and up and others, we can help them. And we’ve come to partner with you to create a strategic alliance. Now, you have a an amazing organization, could you tell us about it, and we’ll put the number on the screen. And so people could follow up and be in touch with you as well. So tell us about your organization. Integrated recovery foundation is committed to the treatment of veterans who have addiction and post traumatic stress issues. And basically to eliminate the 22 veteran suicides a day and others 22 veteran suicides a day the oldest, the most populated cohort are the older veterans 65 and above. So the in the partnership of the meals to vet program that that you are launching with and with ours coming alongside, it gives us an opportunity not just to establish a connection with them, but to identify those individuals who are at greatest risk. Because as I said earlier, the greatest number of suicides of the 22 suicide veteran suicides a day is the older population. And above and beyond the fact that as a community and as a country, we should be doing more to eliminate those 22 suicides a day, we can do more to eliminate the suicides of the older population. These days, our most of them are Vietnam veterans. So I want to go back to have you explained to me more about integrated resources. We’d like glossed over that too, to quickly understand, and the passion and what you’re accomplishing. But tell us sort of how you got it going. Who are your partners in it. That’s very important. And at the same time, we want everybody to say how they can participate with with you. Well integrate recovery is a nonprofit. And we treat veterans and first responders who also many of whom are veterans, without any consideration for their ability to pay. So we are dependent on donations, grants, and we simply put the needs of the individual first. We are here at the Tierney center for veteran services, which is a hub for all of the veterans, the various veteran service organizations to address the needs of the veteran. We are here to save lives, pure and simple. Many of the individuals have problems with addiction. Many of them have unresolved PTSD issues as well as other co occurring or mental health issues. So I being a psychologist and integrated from covering being an agency that is mental health driven. We address those needs. Beyond just addressing the pure and simple mental health needs. We are a faith based organization. We believe that in a relationship with the God of your understanding, if you will, we just as in the military, we whatever our faith happens to be we really.
Specht, the faith of the individual, who we are serving, and we believe that the spiritual needs of the individual are part and parcel of good mental health.
We also understand that there are many people who have no faith or or don’t have not yet come to faith. And so we have a program of mindfulness, we give them a platform to deal with their addiction or anger, or post traumatic stress, until such time if that time comes, where they come to faith where they come to see the benefit, and the essential relationship that they can have with the God of their understanding. So how many organizations are partners with you? Well, that the exact thing that we partner with everyone, right in that regard, we are we receive referrals from everyone and we reach out to everyone who’s who’s the winner, well integrated for current rate partners, and at the end of the partners are who they consist of the feeders. So the feeding Well, the toony Center first certainly is one that toony Center is made up of a variety of veteran service organizations. And there is the orange Kenny, veteran and military favorite to say we’re currently sitting in Tustin, California. Yes. And the Orange County Convention Center. Yes. So there is the Orange County veteran and military families collaborative, overseen by the University of California, Irvine, and general Denton Knapp, who’s the executive director. So in that collaborative, there are 10 working groups, I happen to be the chair of the faith based Working Group now. There’s employment, there’s housing, there’s all sorts of educational, we partner with all of the working groups that exist under the umbrella of the Orange County Veterans and Military Family collaborative. We also reach out to all the houses of worship in this county, so that if there’s any veteran that has a need that they present, to their house of worship, that house of worship, will know where to go, which is the collaborative, so their veteran will get all of the services that are needed for that particular veteran. So I think one of I think what’s important, we discuss with four different areas, specifics that you see as a priority, a two most busy with your staff and everybody else. So let’s take a describe whether it’s housing, employment, drugs, police Prop, you know, meetings like so let’s go step by step there the scribe break that down as well. Well, addiction, mental health is a is a top priority. ie there are many people who have the opportunity to receive housing, but choose not to take it because of their addiction. There are many people who can be eventually gainfully employed, but because of their addiction and mental health issues, they that presents a barrier to their not only getting housing, but employment. So it’s in there’s a symbiotic relationship, if you will, in the healing process. So as someone takes care of their recovery from mental health and addiction, they then become more motivated, if you will, for housing. Now, there are certain situations where they need to go to a treatment center first, and we provide them integrated recovery acts as a liaison to many and all of the treatment programs in the county some case studies some sure because because that because, you know, there’s there’s the theory, okay, but we don’t know most people don’t really understand what you’re doing as an example. About six or seven months ago on Friday at four o’clock I was introduced to a young lady who was homeless in that period of time.
We have made enormous effort to try to get her help. Unfortunately, there are, I hate to say this, there are men who find her attractive, who will take advantage of her. And that always becomes an obstacle for her getting the help that she needs. She has not surrendered, if you will, to the need for help, but always yield to the temptations that certain men offer to take advantage of her in the short run, and a nice short run has so far extended over seven months.
This is a common problem, women are sexually assaulted. And unfortunately, there are always men who are there to take advantage of them, keeping them from the growth and the healing that’s available to all of them. And and we basically, you know, say surrender, you know, again, we’re a faith based organization. So, you know, when you surrender to the Lord, the path is laid out. So what’s interesting to us, of course, is we’re out as we took a ride and visited people that we help, and hearing them out and seeing the situation, and trying to integrate what we’re doing to spot issues, obviously, prevent suicide. At the same time, we’re looking to you to provide the resources in a step, but you have this magnificent center over here. And we have to thank the backers behind this, this is an enormous undertaking, which untold millions to keep it going, no doubt. And we want to figure out how that’s going to work together. Besides the identifying the people that are in need, we know as we’re putting together meals that are fresh, and on top of that, at the same time, we want to hear from you. more examples of where you like situation just gave us some more case studies. Sure. As an example, a situation we encountered just the other day, an older veteran living alone in pain. And the isolation that is experienced by a good many older veterans is the pathway to hopelessness. So we try to establish a connection with them. And the connection is initially established with a good meal, a home cooked meal, a home cooked, nourishing good meal. With our partnership, we are not just delivering a good meal, but we’re delivering a connection. And that connection with our mental health professionals and pastoral professionals give establish not just a sense of hopefulness with that connection, but possibly even reestablishing a purpose for living. It’s the purpose that gives people the will to continue and to, to live on and endure the hardships of life at whatever age you’re at. But in this case, especially the elderly, we have to do more to reach out to them. Establish, give them increased hope, increase the connection, and establish a purpose for going on. We’re looking with your help to reach out to the veterans and get them involved, not just say, okay, just drop some food off and go at the same time, because we need everybody’s help and Hebrew that were called off this togetherness, because if you’re together, and God and he was showing me six piece most people to help others serve help others guide helps you and from all different based connections. So having us working together and reaching out and to give the veterans life and purpose at the same time. The country owes it to them. Absolutely. You know. So this is we feel enormous obligation on both our parts to reach out, have the government be involved. And part of the reason we’re doing this this program this morning, is to act as an example to not just Southern California, we’re based but throughout the United States, because having at least 22 if not more veterans commit suicide every day is a national tragedy. Absolutely. So we cannot tolerate that. I want to thank you for coming out here. Or rather, I came out here to you and provide us a great facility over here and we look forward to doing amazing things together. You know, and with your Navy background and your psychology and your staff. It should be an amazing partnership between all of us. And we thank all of you for listening And spread the word. You’ll get your number when we’re flashing on the screens that can be in touch with you. Thank you. So thank you so much. Take care.
My name is Rabbi Fishel Todd. And I’m here to speak about a program I’m sure you’ve heard about already but we wanted to submit the idea with you and let everyone know about our food two lives program. With me I have the honorable Greg ress. Our future congressman for the 45th District yes of California the elections coming up in a few daysy we expect you to be everyone be out there taking care of our future Congress and over here Mayor Michigan VA home and really this whole food to life’s program is is is on your size on your scale like you know where the scales of justice when they were they’re gonna weigh us and they say it’s it’s that’s one of your big accomplishments over there. But today we want to discuss with with the with the colonel and he got that title was used to flying what kind of client plane as the flat flight flat pay teens, you know, El Toro airbase right here, but yeah, we’re gonna set that out. That’s so that that alone is enough. I think they’re happy. We’re not flying there anymore. Nice and quiet. Yeah, that’s nice and quiet. But nevertheless, you know, he you put your time in there again. And we want to discuss with you today, some of the things that you’re seeing that you’re intend to do with the county and the whole area, you know, when you become congressman over here that will help all the residents of the community here that’s very important to hear about. Well, number one issue is law and order. We’re a law and order with county Orange County has not taken up the mantle of sanctuary cities or sanctuary counties, no city in Mission Bay, who is a sanctuary city, we believe in law and order if there’s crimes committed by ensure that these people are tracked down and arrested and taken to justice, or we want to keep a safe community, throughout the county, as Mission Bay Hill mayor, we’re one of the safest cities in Laguna Woods is probably the safest city. Obviously, it’s hard to get in and out. But that’s number one. Number two is jobs in the economy as the economy starting to come back again, after the shutdown in March of COVID. We’re working really hard to be helped our small businesses and help those that are in in business to kind of get back on their feet and help them out again. So our community here is primary retired people, senior citizens, and the concern for all of us, both of us are seniors.
We get that paycheck every month, right? On substance. And I’m on Medicare I rise. So am I you know, it came to time. And so we want the community out here to hear what you’re able to do for them. You know, well, who in Congress will take care of seniors, a senior, you got yourself a senior right here, I’m 67 years old, I will work hard to ensure that Medicare remains solvent. And the money is not wasted and sent away to other agencies along with the Social Security. For our working years, we worked hard to send money to this to the government. So when we do retire, or social security checks come in on a timely basis. The third Wednesday of every month, I get mine, I checked my checking account today and my wife and I arrived, okay, so I want to keep let you know, the senior community that I will do everything in my power not only to ensure they’re solvent, but ensure that the pay raises are what they’re supposed to be last year is like 1%, whereas Congress gets like a 6% pay raise that’s just doesn’t make sense. So I’ll do everything in my power to ensure that the cost of living adjustments are proper, and that the seniors get what they deserve. When so our program, which you were instrumental in starting fees now 21 meals a week and it’s quite important and we go to the extra mile you were one of our delivery boys. Yeah, when Yeah, time to go do that. going door to door some when you call us up, and the numbers probably flying underneath this, this littlevideo that we’re doing, you’ll be able to call in and it will hopefully within a few days, we’ll be able to come out to your home and deliver to you three times a week. So that you have proper nutrition, all the meals are freshly many are organized, we take into consideration those things with people our age plus has to take into consideration. So you have the proper food. So they are able to take your meds which most people are on these days. Okay on time with proper nutrition, proper parent, many of you out there of course are alone. And you know, when when you had families and everyone’s preparing things, it was one thing, but nowadays when a certain person is alone, you know, it’s very hard to get excited to create a meal. Soo we give you the basis so that you know, you’ve you’re covered three times a day, and you’ve got to structure gourmet fresh meals with such a thing doesn’t exist in the country. Now, the other thing that you’re helping us with is veterans. So we know you’re a veteran. I’m a veteran, right? And so, this program and we have a lot of you guys out there that are veterans. Okay, now, I’m an endorser of chaplains, the military and by us, we know there’s over 22 veterans a day and across the country that commit suicide. So when you’re getting to Washington, a few weeks, you’re going to be out there helping us get the word across the country, just with the with the American Legion. We’re now where we have our this. This program is proudly sponsored by the Jewish war veterans correct. And now we’re partnering with the American Legion. The World War veterans were started in 1896 Judo they help start the American Legion. Yeah, that’s a that’s a We are your all Legion guy, right? Yes, I’m American Legion. 291. Right. So so we’re post 680. Down here, the Jews were veterans. And we’re also inviting everyone that wants to join Jewish war veterans and American Legion and this historic partnership that we’re getting together that we want to be sure that our veterans are taking care of. And not only that, were we working with the Long Beach va? Well, now it’s called the Tibor gubin. Va, in Long Beach. And very interesting as a side, he’s the first and the only Holocaust survivor that received the Congressional Medal of Honor. Correct. And actually, our kosher kitchen program, which we’re offering everybody who’s part of our program here, we’re going to be naming that in his honor. Okay. So let’s so that’s a big thing. He, he was in concentration camp, he was he was from Hungary. And then they took a concentration camp in Austria. Okay, he survived it after three years. They call him the rat, pack rat, how we help people save a lot of lives. He got out and came to America. And he joined the American army. And he was in the Korean War, and it was captured again
Oh, my gosh, so he was responsible saving over 40 lives. In camp, people just gave up or they’re on their own. And he says, he had faith. Sure. And he never gave up. You got to have faith. Without that we have nothing. You know, you had to fly that airplane land on a carrier, you have a lot of faith, but you got to pray to God a lot. Make sure those injuries were right. Right. That’s it, and then you know, and then they make sure that gets you on the ground and gets you off. Right? Correct. But so we’re going to be naming this, this course. And memory of his name was climb Reuben, his Jewish name. And so all the veterans that are going to the post, you’re going to see it’s the Tibor Rubin, VA view get up there. We’ll do Oh, yeah. So that’s hopefully you don’t have to use it too much. Except said when necessary, when it’s necessary, it’s necessary. So we’re looking forward to dealing with all that and to continue to great care that’s going on in the VA, you know, it’s gone up significantly. But this program is addressing, not just when you’re in the VA, but before you get in and when you get out. So everybody knows about that. And we want to be able to make sure that everyone takes advantage of this program, you know, and it’s incumbent on everybody to let your friends know that that that is such a big deal. And then we’ll have the colonel over there. And now what do we do about the defense of Israel? What do you what are you gonna be doing about that we’ll take care of Israel hundred percent will take care of Israel used to fly with Israeli pilots. They’re the best in the world, next to the American pilots, but they know their area. It’s so small, it’s like a little part of Arizona, that they cover so that they know every square inch. One thing about this Meals Program, we take precautions as the meals are prepared. Everyone has masks and gloves. And when we deliver them, we have gloves, because Laguna woods, all the communities, you know, you don’t want COVID in that community. And they’ve been amazing over the last six months. So there’s just been just a handful of cases. And obviously, the older we get, we’re more susceptible to dying of this disease. So we really take precautions. And when we have our delivery people, they ensure that they’re wearing masks and gloves. And so you don’t be concerned about that. Right, everybody’s tested and we rent everybody out to be sure that their prom preparation is a major part of what we do. Of course, we have a 14 day cycle menu, so it doesn’t get boring, and it’s also very fresh. And we’ve got special bags now if everyone sees we’ve improved all of our bags, bagging presentations and the way we’ve packaged everything. We’ve got some great chefs now who are very imaginative and creative and we keep looking for more Maybe use that. And we’re asking everybody Listen, What’s your idea and we try and put into the mix of course it’s spread quite a lot since we started the whole program and make sure that was fresh. We put it in fridge rated bags, so when it comes fresh from the kitchen, which is made that morning, so you’re not more than a couple hours out when it when it’s delivered. So you’ve got that so we’ve got that fat healthy standpoint. Of course, you know, being kosher is quite different than most everything else because we have to answer to a higher authority. Zana post or something. What’s that the hoofs and stuff? Oh, yeah, well, well, they have to the kosher there, they have to have well to be kosher and animal has to have to it’s cod raw and have split split offs, right. So generally, chickens are okay. turkeys, okay. Sheep votes and makes it nice and nice cow like that, you know, those? Those are those that are kosher animals. Okay. And a very important point, I think people are aware of his books infestation. So I’m from a place called the Garden State, nor that is what the California has winners. Yeah, they’re what we want from it. That’s nice. But California has very, a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, right. But coming along with that as infants rotation, you know, so we want to we, according to kosher laws, we’re not only not allowed to eat any bugs. So those are all washed out and cleaned. Like that. So that makes a significant difference when you’re talking about health. Right? it’s also very important, you don’t have to be Jewish to join this program. Correct. Remember the whole commercial, you can choose to leave this thing over here. So So what about you have to be Jewish? To eat a kosher hotdog? When I see these hotdogs, just kosher? I can eat them? Right? You can eat them, either the meeting there is the ones who choose to?
I’m sure that they have a kosher standard, the Dodgers game? Yes, they did. Imagine that so and now they’re in the World Series, what they’re playing in Texas. Crazy is that, whatever. At least at least they’re in the game. Yeah. So so. But that’s a big year, well, maybe this time, they’ll win. It’s been a while to say the least. I hope so. But you know, having said that, so we also are careful not to mix meat and dairy together correct at the same meal. If If someone does maintain kosher after they eat the meat, they have to wait six hours till the milk correct. But if they don’t, it doesn’t matter. And of course, like I said, we we invite everybody to join the program. And because of the nutritional value, and how we focus on providing diversity and health, and also, we discourage people and many of the people in our program, they’re afraid to go to the store course, that’s why we enjoy coming out and delivering three squares a day, I had that in the Marine Corps, three squares a day, nothing like there is some good food and it saves the money. They have more money at the end of the month for other things. So it’s just a great program. And we’re here to help. And I’m glad to be part of this program. So part of it as well is interacting. So we’ve come across a number of people have had health issues, even when our delivery has come across people had heart attacks, and they’ve asked for help. It’s been unbelievable. So it isn’t that just giving food. It’s also developing relationship with people because isolation is a big problem. Yes, that and just when you go to the door, they just want to talk for a little bit, you know, instead of just handing them the food, some just want to come on in and talk and we wear the mask. And it’s just enjoyable talking to different people about what’s going on in the real world. Whether we there was one of the one of the ladies, she was a widow and her husband Where was she stationed? Or was he stationed there in the war? Yeah, I forget where she said, Oh, he was a marine. Right was maybe in the Pacific? Yeah, yeah. He was in psi pain, I believe. Right. So. So here, it isn’t just about taking care of veterans about taking care of the widows of veterans. Correct. So that they have all the memorabilia from their husband. Oh, yeah. is in the war and things like that. So they think so. Like so. We’re out there to help everybody and every situation. So again, please. What’s Election Day, November 3, what district US District 45, which includes Laguna woods, turning your ballots, everyone should get one in the mail. There’s places in Laguna woods to return them or you can actually mail them in. So we’re looking forward and everyone’s gonna be saying hello to the congressman Ras. Yes, before we know. Thank you, Rabbi, It’s my privilege to be here with you. Well, you know, you gotcoming to my party on the night of the third if you like.
lech lecha (Gen. 12:1) (‘go’) ‘…that I spread the knowledge of your teva in the world’. (Rashi, ad loc, based on a Midrash, Tanchuma Lech Lecha 3.) What does this mean? The development of changes in Hebrew throughout the generations is too large a subject for this column, but the Sages said ‘the language of Torah is distinct, and the language of the Sages is distinct’ (Hulin 137b). Since Talmudic times many more changes have taken place in the language. Here we will limit ourselves to looking at the changes that have occurred in words derived from the root Tet, Bet, Ayin.
In the Tanach we find verbs derived from this root and it means sink, immerse, drown. The noun taba’at (‘ring’) also appears frequently and it would seem that it was called so because rings were made with symbols on them to impress (or sink) into a seal. In the language of the Sages words derived from this root are matbe’a (‘coin’), tiv’a (‘authority’ the thinking here may be that one who has authority can mint coins), and also tiv’ah (a particular coin) (Jastrow). The Gemara in Nidda (20b) uses the word tiv’a; the two major Talmudic dictionaries explain the word differently; Jastrow explains it as ‘a coin’, Melamed as ‘Nature’.
In 1705 the Chacham Tzvi wrote (Responsa No. 18) to the leaders of the congregation Sha’arei Shamayim (London) about the sermon delivered by their rabbi, R’ David Nieto, who said ‘Hashem Yitbarach and Nature, and Nature and Hashem Yitbarach are all One. I say that I said this and I confirm this and prove it, as David haMelech supports it in Psalm 147 “…He covers the heavens with clouds and prepares rain for the earth and causes the grass to sprout on the hills”; but you need to know (pay heed Jews, for it is the first principle of our faith) that the noun teva was coined relatively recently – some four or five hundred years ago, close to our own era, and is not to be found in the works of our early Sages’. After quoting this passage from R’ D. Nieto’s sermon, the Chacham Tzvi refers to him as ‘the exalted Sage, our Master and Rabbi, David Nieto’ and praised his opinions. These rabbis are saying that teva meaning ‘nature’ was coined in the Middle Ages, and teva in the Gemara in Nidda cannot mean nature.
The period when Rabbi David Nieto indicated that the word teva (‘Nature’) originated is that of the Ramban and indeed the Ramban uses the word teva in this meaning. He writes ‘No man has a share in the Torah of Moshe Rabbeinu until he believes that all our matters and happenings are all miraculous and are not teva or the way of the world. Rabbi Yehuda ibn Tibbon’s Hebrew translation of Sefer Kuzari also provides examples of this new meaning of the word teva, ‘there is a cause for something which moves of itself, and comes to rest of itself, and that cause is teva’. Clearly in both of these cases teva means Nature.
In the Chumash with Rashi translated into English (Rosenbaum and Silberman, Jeruslaem 1973) ‘your teva’ is translated as ‘your character’. After discussing the various meanings of teva in the Talmudic period, Jastrow, out of character with the goal of his dictionary, adds ‘[In later Hebr.: nature, character, Nature.]’. We can see that Jastrow agrees with the opinion of R’ D. Nieto as reported by Chacham Tzvi. In accordance with the 18th century rabbis, and in accordance with Jastrow a 20th century scholar, a preferred translation of Rashi’s comment of ‘…that I spread the knowledge of your teva in the world’ would be ‘…that I spread the knowledge of your authoritative [opinions] in the world’.
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uvein ha’ai (Gen. 13:3) (‘And between the Ai’) The Mislol (a widely quoted Hebrew grammar book, first published in Hamburg, 1788, my edition Vilna, 1858 p.165) states:
A proper noun is a noun which is known and recognized as being that and no other; like the names of men and women such as Avraham … Sara … and the names of mountains … and rivers … and peoples and the like. A proper noun is distinct from other nouns by virtue of four features: 1. it cannot be used in the plural to say “Avrahamim” … because a proper noun only refers to a specific single item; 2. it does not accept the definite article Heh to say “haAvraham” …; 3. it does not accept pronominal suffixes to say “Avrahamcha” … 4. it does not accept the construct state (semichut) to say “Avraham Yerushalayim” where the intention is Avraham of Yerushalayim; for all of the above denote definition, and there is no need for definitive information for this noun as it is known to be specific.Although this rule applies throughout the Tanach, here there is an exception. Ai is a proper noun naming a city but nevertheless comes with the definite article. It seems to me that in spoken Hebrew the rule is not binding.
The story is not one of a person who is born from the land but one of always already coming from somewhere else.”
Paraphrasing Boyarin, the key value of the Jewish people is in ongoing journey. Perhaps, we should take the advice and try to continue our journey, keep developing rather than staying at the same level of our education, worldview and spirituality. Or, perhaps, it can have a more literal meaning. Maybe we always need to have a fresh look at the world from outside. One of the advantages of constantly being on the way is that it allows the person to be outside all the time and see what local people usually ignore. What if Jews are being constantly commanded ‘Lech lecha’, ‘go forth’?
Rashi, however, understood ‘Lech lecha’ differently. ’Lech Lecha’, according to his interpretation, the phrase means ‘go for you, for your own benefit, for your own good’. Following Rashi’s understanding, we should always look inside ourselves and trust our feelings when we make decisions. In the famous Hasidic teaching “Before his death, Rabbi Zusya said, ‘In the coming world, they will not ask me: ‘Why were you not Moses?’ They will ask me: ‘Why were you not Zusya?” Perhaps, the phrase ‘Lech lecha’ is a reminder for us to stop for a moment and to listen to ourselves and ask ‘What is good for me? What would be a good decision for me?’
The two meanings of ‘Lech Lecha’ are thus two human dimensions – our inner world which calls ‘Lech lecha’ (go for you) and the world around us, which calls ‘Lech Lecha’ ‘go forth’. Each of us is in the middle of the two worlds, a coincidence of two contradicting dimensions of the whole.
Another coincidence is that this Tuesday, 7th of the Jewish month Cheshvan, there was a brand-new Jewish festival, which is called ‘Diaspora Israel Day’. It was introduced to the Jewish world by the Israeli Movement for Progressive Judaism and it is beginning to be marked in some synagogues’ calendars.
The 7th of Cheshvan is chosen for the festival because in the Mishnah, Ta’anit 1:3 it is written that Israel-based Rabbis didn’t recite prayers for the rain for fifteen days after the Festival of Sukkot to let Diaspora Jews come back home safe and dry. This is an ancient example of the bond and care between Israel and the Diaspora. The Torah portion ‘Lech Lecha’ has a key role in the special Haggadah made for this ‘start-up’ Jewish festival. It begins with the following commentary on the first verse of the Torah portion ‘Lech Lecha’: ‘The Hebrew people did not begin its life in the Land of Israel, but outside. From this first journey down to the present day, the Jews have maintained their character as a wandering people, to and from the Land of Israel.’ The connection between Israel and Diaspora is deeply rooted in our tradition. There is even a traditional food for the day – marzipan. It is sweet, it has been made and used in different cultural settings and it symbolizes the rich diversity of Jewish life.
Rabbi Avigdor teaches us that if immorality is uncontrollable, how can we blame society for its descent into wickedness? The fact is that up till recently, and even today, most people are controlling it. The fact is that what’s depicted in the newspapers and in the other media is not a picture of life; it’s a perverted and crippled picture of what’s in the minds of the writers. Actually, many people are living normally; as you walk down blocks and blocks of Irish houses and Italian houses, they’re living more or less normally. They’re living married lives, and they are controlling themselves; otherwise there’d be mayhem, there’d be murder on all sides. Human beings are controlling themselves. Does it mean every Irish man is perfectly perfect all his life? This I wouldn’t say. But in general people are controlling themselves because that is the only way for civilized people to live. And therefore, we can’t say that the world has lost its control. Of course the liberals are doing their best to break down everything. But despite them, human nature abhors disorder; human nature likes a certain amount of decency, and therefore it will continue no matter what they do. Of course we have to try to stop the torrent of wickedness; we have to attempt to abolish pornography and so on, but that doesn’t mean that we’re losing the fight. We’ll never lose that fight; it’s inherent in human nature. There’s no society that ever abolished morality entirely; impossible. The Roman society, even the Greek society, even though they had certain perversions, but they had certain principles; you have to know a society that’s going to break down all the restrictions is going to decay and fall apart. And if America won’t stop this headlong flight into perversion, who knows what’s going to happen. Let’s hope the Italians and the Irish will win out against the Jewish liberals. Jewish liberals are doing the best to ruin America. I say the Jewish liberals – the truth is that the Orthodox Jews should help a little more than they’re doing; the Jewish Orthodox should identify with American scene and they should all join in the fight against pornography, against gays, and against women’s rights which really means immorality; women’s rights mean mixed dormitories in the colleges, mixed barracks in the military. The United States military has already yielded long before the ERA was passed – right now military barracks are mixed.
And so, it’s up to us to speak up and write letters; we must write to congressmen and protest constantly. And not to vote for liberals! Don’t vote for a liberal! Reagan is running now; it’s an opportunity. He’s a decent man. Of course I’m not going to put an OK on him and say a kosher l’mehadrin min hamehadrin, but as far as goyishe candidates go, everybody should work for Reagan [President Donald J. Trump]. Forget about being a Democrat, forget about your party affiliation, forget about the private deals. Some institutions make private deals with the politicians and they sell their vote or the votes of the Jews; don’t listen to them! Make it your business that the Jewish people should vote for Reagan – he’s more conservative and more decent than the others – because we have to fight for decency. It’s our big job today.
The Pearls of Life brings the holy words of Rebbe Nachman, who emphasized of the most important things in life is to be happy in every situation! Be happy, dance, thank Hashem! You’re already serving Hashem by the fact that you accept His will with emuna. That way, you serve Hashem in every situation and you can alsodo Teshuva. Remember well, it’s impossible to do Teshuva without joy! There is no such thing as being a JEW without joy! If there isn’t joy, there is nothing. So when you are happy, you can understand what Hashem wants from you, thank Hashem, you can do Teshuva, you can rectify! When you have happiness, you have light! You see! You can go forward! Look at Yosef Hatzaddik, [The Righteous] he was thrown into a dungeon not knowing if he would ever get out! Yet he didn’t get depressed! No wife, children, bank account nothing! There is a creator, and we have to accept and be very happy with whatever He wants! We must serve Him with joy in every situation, always! Pure faith brings a person to happiness, enabling him to be happy in every situation, in every circumstance! Happiness is a result of pure faith! And pure faith leads you to talk with the Creator, because if you believe, you talk! You don’t believe, you don’t talk! Don’t fool yourself, if you don’t talk, you don’t believe! Why fool yourself? Do you believe that the Creator of the Universe is next to you? Talk to Him! He is the boss. He is the sole address that there is in the world! He is the sole power that there is in the world! Talk to God! Pour how your heart to Him, ask His advice and most importantly thank Him for life, and all you have! The Creator decides everything. Let not the hysteria of politics etc overwhelm you! It’s all been decided! But we as mere mortals have to make that effort! Talk to God in every situation no matter how difficult the tribulations are! Anyone who undergoes some trial in life, some grief and yet expresses gratitude to GOD will rise from there to greatness. Yeshiva Pirchei Shoshanim