08 August 2010

Items of Interest

Interesting that today's main headline in the American news is the execution of six Western missionaries by the Taliban. I say interesting because this week's parsha, Parshat Re'eh, instructs us as follows:

(Devarim 13:7-12 )...If your brother, the son of your mother, tempts you in secret or your son, or your daughter, or the wife of your embrace, or your friend, who is as your own soul saying, "Let us go and worship other gods, which neither you, nor your forefathers have known." Of the gods of the peoples around you, [whether] near to you or far from you, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth; You shall not desire him, and you shall not hearken to him; neither shall you pity him, have mercy upon him, nor shield him. But you shall surely kill him, your hand shall be the first against him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And you shall stone him with stones so that he dies, because he sought to lead you astray from the Lord, your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. And all Israel shall listen and fear, and they shall no longer do any evil such as this in your midst.

This is a very difficult topic, but we can not allow ourselves to think that we will be more merciful than our Creator. We are obligated under the covenant to obey His instructions explicitly. If we want to prepare for Mashiach, we need to look seriously at our own willingness to live with the consequences of a restored Torah regime and a rebuilt Beit HaMikdash.
Of course, the western press highlights the humanitarian self-sacrifice of these workers and assures us that they were non-proselytizing. But, all one has to do is go to a website or a blog where such people discuss their experiences abroad in the "mission field" and you will immediately read the reports of their successes in wooing people over to their false god. And their motives are not so selfless after all as this is how they believe that they earn their Olam Haba.
To be enslaved to a false religion and to lead others astray is a tragedy all around.
Then, for the second Shabbat in a row, a high-profile American Jew has made a very public desecration of the Shabbat.

"Elena Kagan was sworn in Saturday as the 112th justice and fourth woman ever to serve on the Supreme Court."
Last Shabbat Marc Mezvinsky wore a tallit and stood under a quasi-chuppah and intermarried with a shiksa. If I were a Jew living in America I would duck and cover about this time. Just how much more is Hashem going to continue to take?

Compare that to this amazing story about the "Mezuzah Rebbe," Rav Moshe ben Tov, who was niftar last week. It is taken from the 17 Av 5770 issue of Mishpacha magazine as told by Reb Yomtov Friedman of Flatbush...
"The first time he came to America, he came not as a poel yeshuos but to be machazek Yidden, to inspire them to cherish the mitzvah of mezuzah. We picked him up at the airport, and he spoke words of Torah throughout our trip to Brooklyn. We were amazed: an older man, on his first trip to America, yet the skyline and passing scenery meant nothing to him. His eyes were lowered until we reached our home. My wife had prepared refreshments for him, but he did not eat. 'If from Shamayim they arranged that I should have to leave Eretz Yisrael,' he explained, 'then there must be some area in which I need tikun, so I am fasting today, the day I left Eretz Yisrael.' "
Marrying into the top of goyische American society or attaining the top of the political ladder in the American government is just so much ashes and bitterness when compared to the loftiness of this Yerushalmi Tzadik's soul, may his memory forever be a blessing.
Shavua tov!


  1. There is far more that is not understood in the tanach than is understood. Majority of the exegesis existing today as ABSOLUTE TRUTH are GUESS WORKS. Unfortunately it will remain so till the messiah comes. The good thing is we don't need to understand all of tanach to prepare for the messiah's imminent arrival.

    There is an important reason why Hashem bothered (to great length actually) sending Jonah to Nineveh. Afterall they are neither Jews nor converts.

  2. If you are writing from a gentile perspective, I'd have to agree with you. The best the gentiles can do without help from a rabbi is "guess works". With us, it is not so. Moshe, our teacher, told us the following:

    "For this commandment that I command you today --- it is not hidden from you and it is not distant. ...Rather, the matter is very near to you --- in your mouth and your heart --- to perform it." (Devarim 30.11)

    Hashem gave us a Torah to live by. He did not give us something that was impossible to understand. However, it was given to the Jews, not to the nations and to the Jews He gave wise leaders and teachers to expound on the deeper levels of meaning.

    I don't understand the connection of Jonah and Nineveh to the subject at hand.

  3. It's the commandments that are not hidden -not "all things".

    Going back a chapter from Devarim 30:11 you quoted, we see the concept of "secret or hidden things" and "revealed things" in the Torah clearly mentioned and apportioned.

    The hidden things belong to the Lord, our God, but the revealed things apply to us and to our children forever: that we must fulfill all the words of this Torah. Devarim 29:28 (Judaica Press)

    The Torah was given to all of mankind through the Jews, otherwise "light to the nations" becomes a meaningless cliche.

    Regarding teaching/teacher, only Moses and the coming (imminent) messiah exegesis/teaching are/will be ABSOLUTE TRUTH. Everyone else exegesis are GUESSES which could be right or wrong -only the messiah can say for sure.

    And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse, AND ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH SHALL BE BLESSED IN YOU." Bereishit 12:3 (Judaica Press)
    Hashem considers the highlighted portion of the posuk as important as the unhighlighted portion.

    If the Torah was given to the Jews for the Jews alone then it is unnecessary to send/force Jonah to go to Nineveh. Those people in Pakistan need to hear about the God of Israel "somehow" -it is consistent with Hashems character to warn before judgment.

    The rabinnic consolation called NOAHIDE is a clear indication some rabbis in the modern era are uncomfortable with this notion of "Torah of the Jews for the Jews".

  4. Well, first of all, the portion I quoted is taken from chapter 13, not 30.

    Second, I'm glad you took the time to write because you offer us a perfect illustration of why it is so important to "not rely upon your own understanding," as it says in Mishlei.

    Regarding the quote from Devarim 29.28, the commentary says:

    "The hidden [sins] are for Hashem. Lest Israel retort that it cannot be held responsible for sinners about whom it has no knowledge, Moses reassures the nation that hidden sins are the province of God alone, and He holds no one responsible but the sinners themselves. But everyone is obligated to safeguard the integrity of Israel against openly committed sins (Rashi, Ramban). Ramban adds that the verse refers also to sins that are hidden from the perpetrator himself, for it often happens that people sin out of ignorance of the law or the facts of a situation. Such sins belong to God, in the sense that He does not hold them against the sinner…."

    This is why we don't go snooping into people's bedrooms, but if they parade in the streets, we are required to act.

    As you've proven through this example, your understanding of the text is severely flawed and so it is with the remainder of your conjectures.

    It was not "all mankind" who stood at Har Sinai to receive the Torah. In point of fact, the rest of mankind had soundly rejected it before it was offered to Am Yisrael. Once that happened, there was really no further need of the nations except for the sake of those souls who did want the Torah, but would have to eventually convert in order to claim it.

    That's why, in the future, the whole world will be Israel, i.e., the Jews and whatever few righteous gentiles deserve to survive because of their own personal striving for God, to live alongside them.

    Third, the phrase "light to the nations" has become one of the most misunderstood in our times. It does not in any way, shape or form mean that Jews are meant to be missionaries spreading Torah to the world. Instead, it means that as Jews live out their day to day lives in the model society created from and based upon Torah laws and principles, we will stand out as a beacon to the nations to emulate so that they, too, if they are willing, can benefit from the natural by-products of such a society, namely peace, justice, harmony, advancement, etc. And this is precisely what we saw in the time of King Shlomo when the nations sent emissaries to Eretz Yisrael (not the other way around) to learn from us and bring their knowledge back to their own people.

    The situation in Nineveh has no bearing on the subject at hand. But, very simply, the Creator has mercy on his creatures and He knew that the city would repent if given an opportunity, so He sent a prophet to deliver this message and the people did repent and their destruction was delayed for, I think, another hundred years?

    Yonah did not bring them the Torah and they did not practice the Torah. They kept the laws that they, as gentiles, were responsible for. And how did Yonah know what they were? He knew the same as every Jew knows. It's in the Oral Torah which explains the Written Torah. It was also received at Har Sinai.