28 March 2014

Parshat Tazria - HaChodesh 5774

26 Adar Bet 5774

Parashat Tazria/Shabbat Hachodesh: Blood of Redemption
by Daniel Pinner

Dedicated to the memory of Dr Toni (Taube) Conrad z”l, born in Poland, survived the Holocaust, fought against the Nazis in Poland and Russia, survived a forced-labour camp in Germany, and passed away last Thursday, 18th Adar II (20th March) aged 91. May she rest in peace.

This year 5774, as in all leap years and only in leap years, Parashot Tazria and Metzora are read separately. And this year, as in about two-thirds of all leap years, Parashat Tazria coincides with Shabbat Hachodesh.

Shabbat Hachodesh is the Shabbat which either coincides with or immediately precedes the first of Nisan. The Maftir-reading is Exodus 12:1-20, the immediate prelude to the Exodus: “Hashem said to Moshe and Aaron in the land of Egypt saying, This month shall be the beginning of your months, it is the first of the months of your year” (Exodus 12:1-2).

This, the mitzvah to institute and calibrate a calendar, is the first national mitzvah that God ever gave us.

God continues with His charge to Moshe and Aaron: “Speak to the entire Congregation of Israel saying, On the tenth of this month they shall take for themselves – each man – a lamb or kid for each family, a lamb or kid for each household… You shall keep it under guard until the fourteenth day of this month, then they shall slaughter it – the entire community of the Congregation of Israel – towards evening. Then they shall take of its blood and daub it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they will eat it. They shall eat the meat on that night, roasted in fire, and matzos; they shall eat it with bitter herbs” (vs. 3-8).

This was an act of defiance, difficult for us to comprehend. God commanded the Jews to take a lamb or kid (the Hebrew word “se” connotes either), the god which the Egyptians worshipped, to keep it under guard for three days, tied to their bed-posts (Pesikta de-Rav Kahana, Parashat Hachodesh s.v. dabru; Yalkut Shimoni, Bo 191) before slaughtering it in sight of the Egyptians.

For a nation that had been enslaved by the Egyptians for generations, conditioned to defer to them and cringe before their whips, trained throughout their lives to relate to the Egyptians as overlords with the power of life and death, slaughtering their erstwhile masters’ god in public provided the catharsis they needed to smash the last emotional and spiritual chains binding them to Egyptian servitude.

The Midrash has a very beautiful and very moving allegory. “Why did the Torah decree that the Pesach sacrifice be taken four days before its sacrifice? – Rabbi Mattia ben Cheresh said: [The prophet] said, ‘I passed above you and I saw you, and behold, your time was a time of love’ (Ezekiel 16:8). The time had come for God to fulfil His oath to Abraham our father, that He would redeem his descendants. But they had no mitzvot to perform in whose merit they would deserve redemption, as [the prophet] continues, ‘your breasts were full and your hair was grown, but you were bare and naked’ (ibid.) – naked of all mitzvot. So God gave them two mitzvot – the mitzvah of the Pesach sacrifice and the mitzvah of circumcision – for them to perform so that they could deserve to be redeemed, as [the prophet] said, ‘I passed above you and I saw you wallowing in your blood, and I said: In your blood you shall live, and I said: In your blood you shall live’ (v. 6)” (Mechilta de-Rabbi Yishmael, Bo, Masechta de-Pis’cha 5 s.v. ve-hayah lachem le-mishmeret).

The prophet Ezekiel repeats the phrase “in your blood you shall live”, suggesting that we would “live” – meaning be redeemed – in the merit of two mitzvot involving blood: the blood of the Pesach sacrifice and the blood of circumcision.

God had commanded Abraham to circumcise himself and all the males of his household when he was 99 years old, and all his male descendants were commanded to be circumcised at age eight days from that day henceforth (Genesis 17:10-27). However, God formally gave the nation as a whole the mitzvah of circumcision 402 years later, in the opening verses of Parashat Tazria: “A woman who conceives and gives birth to a male…on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised” (Leviticus 12:2-3).

The Ohr ha-Chayim (Rabbi Chayim ben Atar, Morocco and Israel, 1696-1743), commenting on Parashat Tazria, asks why God saw necessary to repeat the mitzvah of circumcision here, after He had already given it to Abraham and his descendants. “If it is in order to tell us that we must circumcise by day [‘…the eighth day…’] and not by night, and if it is to inform us to circumcise [on the eighth day] even if that day is Shabbat…then this is still puzzling: why did God not write the details of these laws back in the section of the circumcision in Parashat Lech Lecha? Maybe God did not decree these details when He commanded Abraham so that no one should think that God subordinated Shabbat to circumcision only for the forefathers who had not received the Torah and the severity of Shabbat, but that Israel, who had been commanded by God that ‘those who desecrate [Shabbat] will be put to death’ (Exodus 31:14), were not to over-ride Shabbat” (commentary to Leviticus 12:3).

The Talmudic tractate Kritot begins by listing all 36 sins which are punishable by karet (literally “being cut off”). Karet is variously explained as dying prematurely (Sifra, Emor 14:4), either before the age of 50 (Moed Katan 28a, Yerushalmi Bikkurim 2:1, Semachot 3:8, Tosafot Shabbat 25a) or between the ages of 50 and 60 (Rabba’s opinion in Moed Katan 28a). Karet is also explained to mean being “cut of” both in this world and in the next world (Sanhedrin 90b, Sifrei Shelach Lecha 112); also that “if he has children he will bury them, if he has no children he will die childless” (Yevamot 55a).

Of the 36 transgression which incur karet, 34 are negative – that is to say, the Jew incurs karet by committing a specific forbidden action, such as worshipping an idol, eating forbidden fats (chelev) or blood, eating chametz during Pesach, or eating on Yom Kippur.

The only two positive commandments which incur karet for transgressing them are circumcision and the Pesach sacrifice – that is to say, these are the only two mitzvot for which a Jew can incur karet by doing nothing.

During the centuries of Egyptian subjugation, most of the Jews had abandoned the mitzvah of circumcision; only the Tribe of Levi were still circumcised, resisting assimilation when times were good and persecution later on (Shemot Rabbah 1:8 and 19:5).

Now, on the very threshold of redemption, God told Moshe and Aaron to give the Children of Israel two mitzvot, both of which involved blood, in whose merit they would earn their redemption. Circumcision and the Paschal sacrifice – two mitzvot which are intimately intertwined.

The Midrash depicts this beautifully: “When Israel saw that uncircumcised men were forbidden to eat of the Pesach sacrifice, all Israel arose without delay and circumcised their servants and their sons and all those who were to leave with them… This is like a king who made a banquet for his beloved friends. The king said: If my seal is not on every one of the guests, then none of them may enter! Similarly, when God made a banquet of meat roasted in fire with matzos and bitter herbs upon redeeming them from suffering, He said to them: If Abraham’s seal is not in your flesh, you may not taste of it! Immediately all those who had been born in Egypt were circumcised without delay… The blood of the Pesach sacrifice mingled with the blood of the circumcision, and God passed above them and took each one of them and kissed him and blessed him, as it says ‘I passed above you and I saw you wallowing in your blood, and I said: In your blood you shall live, and I said: In your blood you shall live’ – you will live in [the merit of] the blood of the Pesach sacrifice, you will live in [the merit of] the blood of circumcision” (Shemot Rabbah 19:5).

And the intimate connexion between circumcision and redemption continues: “Shimon the Yemeni says, in the merit of circumcision I split the sea for them” (Mechilta de-Rabbi Yishmael, Beshallach, Masechta de-Vayehi 4, s.v. vayomer Hashem el Moshe; Mechilta de-Rabbi Shimon bay Yochay 14; Yalkut Shimoni, Exodus 233).

And forty years later, when Joshua led us across the River Jordan into the Land of Israel on the 10th of Nisan (Joshua 4:19), forty years to the day after they had been circumcised in Egypt. And immediately after entering the Land, “Hashem said to Joshua: Make stone knives [alternatively: sharp knives] and circumcise the Children of Israel again” (Joshua 5:2), because the Children of Israel had neglected the mitzvah of circumcision during the forty-year desert trek due to the hardships and dangers of circumcising while travelling (vs. 4-8).

Now, back home in their Land and about to offer the Pesach sacrifice for the first time in a generation, they perforce had to prepare themselves by being circumcised.

At that time and under those circumstances, circumcision demanded considerable self-sacrifice. For our generation today, circumcision is so acceptable and well-organised that it demands minimal self-sacrifice.

The Pesach sacrifice, by contrast, is infinitely harder. True, one who is forcibly prevented from offering the Pesach sacrifice on the Temple Mount is exempt from the obligation (Pesachim 9:1; Rambam, Laws of Pesach Sacrifice 5:1-2). Given the unfortunate reality today, every Jew is forcibly prevented from offering the Pesach sacrifice on the Temple Mount by the combined forces of the Waqf and the Israeli police.

Nevertheless, we can pray and – more importantly – actively strive to bring the Pesach sacrifice on the Temple Mount. The Pesach sacrifice can be offered even without the Holy Temple having been built yet: it can be slaughtered anywhere on the Temple Mount (Zevachim 5:8) and its blood dashed against an altar 1 cubit by 1 cubit (about 45 cm or 18 inches) and 3 cubits high.

Now it is frequently argued that the Pesach sacrifice cannot be offered by a Jew who has contracted the ritual uncleanness that derives from a dead body, and since we all have this uncleanness today, and it can be cleansed solely by means of the Red Cow (which constituted last week’s Torah-reading), it would appear that consequently today we cannot offer the Pesach sacrifice.

However the Mishnah tells us that “the Pesach sacrifice that is brought in ritual uncleanness is eaten in ritual uncleanness, because its sole purpose in being brought was to be eaten” (Pesachim 7:5), which is the halachah in practice (Rambam, Laws of Pesach Sacrifice 7:5).

The Mishnah continues: “If the [entire] Congregation, or the majority of it, became ritually unclean, or if the Kohanim are ritually unclean but the Congregation is ritually clean, the [Pesach sacrifice] is performed in ritual uncleanness” (Pesachim 7:7), which again is the halachah in practice (Rambam, Laws of Pesach Sacrifice 7:1 and Laws of Entering the Temple 4:12).

This, indeed, was the halachic ruling in recent generations of Torah giants such as Mahara”tz Chayot, Rabbi Ya’akov Emden, Rabbi Akiva Eiger, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Kalischer, and Rabbi Yehoshua of Kutna.

And as the Midrash tells us, “in the merit of the blood of the Pesach sacrifice and the blood of circumcision you were redeemed from Egypt, and in their merit you will in the future be redeemed from the fourth Kingdom” (Yalkut Shimoni, Ezekiel 354).

27 March 2014

Discussion with Moishela: "They Want to Destroy Yiddishkeit"

25 Adar Bet 5774


Discussion with Moishela (with his family)
A Handicapped child
2 Adar 2 5774 (Mar 3, '14)

They Want to Destroy Yiddishkeit

I will speak about the very impressive Tefillah that was yesterday in Yerushalayim. 

Undoubtedly it was something very special, something that could only have been done with so many Frum Yidden coming together to say Kriyas Shema and Amen to one of the most special Brachos that exists for Yidden. Of course they Davened Mincha and so on but these were the two highlights of the day. This gathering of all the different groups of Am Yisroel together in one place without arguing and fighting over silly things, but coming together with one purpose, to Daven to Hakodosh Boruch Hu to ask Him to save us from the dreadful Amalaikim and Erev Rav that are running the State of Israel. But beyond all that, just seeing everyone Davening together in unison not caring whether the Baal Tefillah is a Chassidisha or a Litvisha or a Sephardisha, just Davening to Hashem together it's unbelievable! Other people felt that politics are still there behind all of this, and that because of this, this gathering cannot fulfil its true purpose because supposedly the undercurrent of what is happening is political.

However, even though it is not yet perfect, it definitely is a start and even if it doesn’t happen again until Moshiach comes still it is bringing in a new era for Am Yisroel. It is bringing in an era in which the main goal is to be willing to have Mesiras Nefesh. We have to be willing to give even our lives, (hopefully we should never need to do that,) and be willing to do anything to hold on to our Yiddishkeit.

We are surrounded by evil people. We are surrounded by people that want to destroy Yiddishkeit, not only in Eretz Yisroel. You must understand it's not only the Erev Rav and the Amalaikim and the Edomim that are running this country, it's also in every country of the world. The evil ones want to phase out Frum Jewry. In their minds the religious Jews are a danger and must be gotten rid of. All over the world these evil ones also want to get rid of not only the Jews, they also want to get rid of all religious Christians. They want to get rid of all Christians that are willing to die in order not to be enslaved or forced to be something that they know is wrong. They want to get rid of every religion in the world, anyone that adheres to any religion. However Judaism is at the top of their list, because it’s the most dangerous, because it’s the only true belief and Hakodosh Boruch Hu is the only true G-d. There is no other G-d, only Him. The rest is all a figment of people's imaginations. Hakodosh Boruch Hu is Emes and therefore we are at the top of the list for being separated from our belief in the only one and truly G-d, Chas Vesholom.

Therefore Eretz Yisroel has become the place where these evil ones want to rule, want to rule the world from here as I've said before. They have managed to infiltrate the government to the very top and soon they will be infiltrating every governmental building, every governmental office in the country. They have infiltrated even the army and they want to destroy us the Chareidim, the Frum.

We've been living a life of ease. Monies run through our hands easily. We haven’t been in want of anything since we arrived in this Medinas Yisroel. I would say that after the Tzena, no one has been in want. We always had food, we always had everything we needed, and if we didn’t have, we just hopped on a plane and went and Shnorred in America or in England or in Europe and usually we came back with our pockets full. However the world has changed. Money is not so readily gotten, and these evil ones have started a war against Am Yisroel, the true Am Yisroel, the real Jewish Neshomas, the ones that are trying to live and do Ratzon Hashem. This is very terrible and it's going to get worse. They are already planning, all the terrible laws they want to pass in order to destroy our Yiddishkeit, and it will be up to us to hold together and say, "No, we will never, never go against Hakodosh Boruch Hu, never, no matter what." We have to fight it by refusing, by closing ourselves away in our own areas, putting up Mechitzas between us and the evil ones. We must make our own Botai Din and make sure that our Mohalim are not the doctors that they want to send. We must make sure that a Ger Tzedek becomes a Ger Tzedek in the proper way, and we must be sure that among us there are no Malshinim. We must, try very hard to only live by Ratzon Hashem. We must not fight with each other. We must not go against the Truth. We must hold together with the values that always kept Am Yisroel alive.

There has never been a Rasha that attacked Am Yisroel whether within or without, that wasn’t punished in the worst way. No one that raises his hand against us ever lives. He is always destroyed. So these evil ones who are supposedly so intelligent, don’t even know basic history that shows clearly that anyone that raises an arm to destroy the Yidden will be destroyed himself. They don’t even know what to be afraid of. Their hatred for Yaakov is so strong that they are willing to commit suicide to get rid of us, but it won't help them because these are the final hours of the Golus. We can all feel it already. We can taste it with our mouths. We can smell it with our noses. We feel it on our skin, and the taste is very bitter, but we will succeed, and we will go higher, and we will stay with Hashem, and we won't let go, and we won't give in to them. We, Am Yisroel, are going to survive Be'ezras Hashem, and we are going to greet Moshiach Be'ezras Hashem, but you Reshoim unless you do Teshuva, which I doubt very much that you can, you are not going to make it. You are going to realize at the end your terrible mistake. There are those among you, that even when you realize your mistake, you won't do Teshuva. And there will be those that at the last minute will try do Teshuva, but will fail because they don’t know what Teshuva means and therefore will never have Olam Habah.

So we are going into a different era now. The materialism won't flow like it did. It has already stopped flowing like it used to. We are going to be persecuted for our beliefs in every place in the world. You Jews in America and in England and in Europe, don’t think that you are not going to be persecuted also! We are all going to be persecuted. They are going to try to take away our Kashrus, our Shechita, our Bris Mila all the usual things that they attack when they try to take away our Yiddishkeit, the base of our Yiddishkeit. They'll try to take away our Torah learning. They'll try to take away our Davening, our Shuls, our Torahs, anything they can do to stop us from making connection with Hakodosh Boruch Hu. They are going to bring a new Avodah Zorah into this world, instead of all religions. The greatest evil that ever was is now going to burst forth on the earth. It has already covered the earth but it's just not so evident. It will be evident when every bit of evil comes out and shows itself to the world, then Hashem will completely destroy it from its deepest roots. It will be destroyed forever.

So Am Yisroel make preparations. I don’t mean that you have to save food. I mean your preparations should be doing Teshuva. Pesach is coming. We have to clean not only our houses, but our hearts and our minds, clean them out with a tweezer, get every inch of dirt out, so when we come to greet Moshiach we will be sparkling, sparklingly pure.

Discussion with Moishela: "Only Hashem's Army Can Win"

25 Adar Bet 5774


Discussion with Moishela (with his family)
A Handicapped child
Adar 1 21 5774 (Feb 20, '14)

Only Hashem's Army Can Win

I am so upset even though I really shouldn’t be, because I know that this is only part of the process, only part of the process of throwing off the yoke of this world of lies, and being able to greet Moshiach and march into the world of truth. However I'm still only a human being and the things that are happening lately are so disturbing to me, so absolutely disturbing that I cannot find peace anywhere.

This Medinas Yisroel is getting on my nerves already. This product of the sinister Erev Rav that built a state that from the beginning was intended to be totally Chiloni and totally not connected to Hakodosh Boruch Hu, and now we are seeing the true face of this so-called state of Israel. We are seeing that although it manages, or rather the leaders of the State of Israel manage to play on the heartstrings of Temimusdik Jews who have suffered tyranny and death at the hands of angry Goyim, jealous angry Goyim that want to destroy Am Yisroel and deny Hashem's existence. These same people that desired a homeland where they could be true Jews and come close to Hashem, just doesn’t exist, because the leaders were and are not today believers. Not only are they not believers but they are bent on destroying all belief in Hashem, The Ruler of The World. They want to be The Ruler of The World. They want to be the Hakol Yachol, Chas Vesholom, but that is totally absurd and impossible.

However their great plan is coming into view, and all of those Jews that don’t understand this are going to pay a heavy price. We the true Jews that our Neshomas were at Har Sinai, that we said together Na'aseh Venishma, we are going to be called upon to resist all of the plans of this government of Erev Rav to destroy Am Yisroel and its Torah. We're going to be called upon to say, "No, we will not let our baby boys enter the Bris with Hakodosh Boruch Hu, with a doctor instead of a Mohel doing the Bris." No, we are not going to send our sons to the army that is full of loose uncouth non-believers and in very many instances many soldiers are Goyim. We cannot expose our sons to an army that condones foul language and loose morals and a hatred of Hashem and His Torah. We're going to have to say, "No, we are not going to eat Hechshers that are controlled by the State of Israel, by the non- Frum who have their own ideas about what Kosher should be." We're going to have to say no to every so-called law that according to the non-Frum logic requests from us to put our Torah aside, our Mesorah aside, our 613 laws aside, and do what they tell us to do. We're going to be called on to say, "No, absolutely not!" Therefore I am very worried and very afraid. I don’t know how many Yidden of today have the strength to say no, especially when so many of us have fallen so low. I just hope and pray that the Jewish Neshoma, the strong Jewish Neshoma will come to the forefront and we will all together shout and scream at the top of our voices "Shema Yisroel Hashem Elokainu Hashem Echad!"

Mr. Lapid thinks that he can tell us who is shouldering more or less of the responsibility for the country. I suggest to Mr. Lapid that he should also let everyone share the responsibility by making the Chilonim serve as we are supposed to serve three years in the army, and they also like us should give that many years as well to learning Torah in a real Yeshiva, because there's not been one war since 1948 that hasn't been won by pure miracles and nothing more. So really the only army is Hashem's army. Only Hashem's army can win the wars. Therefore part of their training has to be the true Jewish training which is to learn to Daven and, to learn Gemorah and so on and so forth. It's just not fair not to teach them, not by Chiloni teachers, but by experts in their field, true Rabbonim, true Talmidai Chachomim, true Shomrei Mitzvos. Yes, Mr. Lapid you think that a Shikkur that jumps on a table in a pub and dances, has enough Sechel, enough Chutzpah to say to Hakodosh Boruch Hu, to the people of Hakodosh Boruch Hu, trying at least to live the right way, no you have to share, have to share in what we decide is responsibility to the state, a state that should never have come into existence in the first place.But it did come into existence, and of course Hashem has His plans but without Hashem it never would have been.

I can only say that looking at the people that are behind all of this, I can only say in a very sad way that none of them seem to have Jewish souls. They have no sensitivity to their Judaism or to the Talmidai Chachomim or to anything. True we are living in a confusing time when many Chareidim are doing things that once would be absolutely forbidden. True today even some of our Rabbonim are making Halachic Rulings that are far from rigid. We have seen a very great fall in Tznius and in learning. Oh, people are learning but it's not the highest level, and it's not very often with a heart and a soul. We see very many Frum Jews not Davening the way they should be. We see very many weaknesses in our own Frum society. But Mr. Lapid with your mug of beer and your dancing on the table in a pub like a Goy, you're not going to make it. No one, no one including your father, including everyone in this State of Israel, including all of the biggest Reshoim in all of history anyone who has gone against Hakodosh Boruch Hu has fallen, and so will you. But one thing I'll tell you, you won't succeed. You'll never succeed, not you and not your Prime Minister, and not your President, and not anybody else that’s backing you, not any other person in the whole world from the biggest to the smallest, no one will succeed against Hakodosh Boruch Hu. He will only with a slight movement destroy all of you, and you will never have Netzach (eternity). I warn you not to start with Hakodosh Boruch Hu. You could do all kinds of Aveiros, but to fight against Hakodosh Boruch Hu directly, you'll never win and you're going to fall so hard that I really don’t envy you.

And now, I just want to say to our Yidden, to the true Yidden that we're going into a very very difficult time. Be strong. Don’t give up. Know that you're going to have to sacrifice and hold out and not forget that we the have responsibility to keep every single Din every single commandment of Hashem, and not weaken on any one of them. We must not give in to any of the demands of Yidden who are questionable as far as being Yidden. I am begging Am Yisroel and telling you the only way to survive the terrible destruction that’s going to be in the whole world is firstly to try to be in Eretz Yisroel. The Jews of America, England, Europe or wherever, the true Jews, the true Erlicha Yidden will be saved, but it will be very hard. Whoever's here in Eretz Yisroel will have it easier in many ways, even if the initial coming might be difficult, but at the end of the day it will be easier.

Secondly we have to close ourselves off. In the past the Goyim put us into ghettoes, but we envied those who could get out of the ghettoes and live among the Goyim. The moment that the Goyim allowed the Jews to leave the ghetto, the Jews went streaming out trying to shake off their Yiddishkeit and become like the Goyim. But we, Am Yisroel now in Eretz Yisroel, we have to build the walls of the ghetto back up, and go inside and lock the door and not try to be with any of the groups that are trying to be part of the Goyisha, Hellenistic world. The sons of Esav, the descendants of the Greeks and the Romans are trying to take over Eretz Yisroel and they seem to be managing it. There will soon be foreign troops on this soil, and when that happens you'll know that everything I'm telling you is correct. We already have foreign troops on this soil, but soon we are going to have many more, and I want you to remember what I say. Go into your homes. Stay close to your Shuls. Stay close to Hakodosh Boruch Hu. Put up the walls of the ghetto, and don’t let the foreigners in. Keep them out, and let us stay close always to Hakodosh Boruch Hu. That’s what He wants. He wants us to be different. He wants us to be close to Him. He wants us to do his Ratzon and to live only for that.

I want to say that very soon it's going to seem like the world is turned up-side-down. In the end, Be'emes the world will be turned up-side-down, but remember this world is only an illusion. This world of ours now that we were born into is only an illusion. Every single bit of it from the stars in the heaven to the earth below, it's all an illusion. And when we get to the time of Moshiach, we're going into a new reality that we never saw before, that we never dreamed of before. Even those who are big Talmidai Chachomim will suddenly feel what it to means to be released from the bonds of the Yetzer Hora, no Yetzer Hora. You don’t understand how that is going to affect us. You can't realize, because you don’t know every little corner in our beings that the Yetzer Hora gets to, and once we're free of that we'll all be confident and happy and calm and open only to the spiritual world and we'll be so close to Hakodosh Boruch Hu and that will be our total Simcha. That’s what we're going to love the most, just basking in the light of Hakodosh Boruch Hu.

I want to say to all Am Yisroel, be strong of spirit, of mind, and of soul. We're coming to the end. Just hold on to Hakodosh Boruch Hu, Kivyachol, and don’t let go, and we will all be saved.

The Whole World Has Become 'Egypt'

25 Adar Bet 5774

Do you need any further proof? (Note that everyone except 'Paro' himself is wearing the pyramid on his/her lapel.)

(H/T The American Dream blog)

24 March 2014

"Not only Harvard..."

22 Adar Bet 5774

Not only Harvard...
by Daniel Pinner

Jewish communities in the USA, Israel, and the world over have been in a buzz over the recent visit by Harvard students to the grave of the mass-murderer and father of modern terrorism, Yasser Arafat, in Ramallah. What has irked so many is that “Harvard College Israel Trek 2014”, as it is officially called, “is made possible by the generous contributions of a number of family foundations and Boston’s Combined Jewish Philanthropies. The Trek is supported by Harvard Hillel”.

While it is no secret that these students’ pilgrimage to Arafat’s grave occurred on March 17, I have not seen anyone else point out that March 17 just happened to be Shushan Purim.

Maybe it was all some kind of student gag? A Purim-spiel, albeit in hideous taste? Or were they maybe Arab terrorists, dressed up as Harvard students?

Alas no. Barry Shrage, president of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies, tried first of all to justify the visit, then later apologised for it.

Now Harvard students are supposed to be the best and the brightest of them all, America’s future, the leaders of tomorrow. They are supposed to represent the pinnacle of modern civilised thought, the best-educated minds that the Western world can produce.

Still, as King Solomon, the wisest man ever, write millennia ago, “that which was is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

Almost exactly 81 years before these Harvard students abased themselves and the university they represent by paying homage to this most vicious of mass-murderers, the students in Oxford University, England, similarly disgraced the ancient and noble university which they represented.

It was 9th February 1933, just a week and a half after Hitler had become Chancellor of Germany, and the Oxford University debating society debated the motion “that this House will in no circumstances fight for its King and Country”. The motion was carried by 275 votes to 153.

Kenelm Hubert Digby, who had proposed the motion, argued that “It is no mere coincidence that the only country fighting for the cause of peace, Soviet Russia, is the country that has rid itself of the war-mongering clique”. Such was the logic of a brilliant student, who argued for an utterly indefensible cause.

The motion sent shock waves throughout Britain, and indeed Europe. Newspapers throughout Britain denounced it; the Liberal Member of Parliament Robert Bernays told the House of Commons that he had been asked about the debate later in 1933 by a prominent Hitler Youth leader: “There was an ugly gleam in his eye when he said: ‘The fact is that you English are soft’”.

And a year and a half later, on 7th July 1934, Alfred Zimmern, Professor of International Relations at Oxford, wrote from Geneva to the former Union president responsible for the debate: “I hope you do penance every night and every morning for that ill-starred Resolution. It is still going on sowing dragons’ teeth. If the Germans have to be knocked out a second time it will be partly your fault”.

Though the influence of “that abject, squalid, shameless avowal…this ever-shameful motion” (as Winston Churchill referred to it just eight days after its adoption) was probably over-estimated, there can be no doubt that it had at least some influence in encouraging the Nazi dictator Hitler and the fascist dictator Mussolini in their aggression.

And no doubt it also encouraged the communist dictator Stalin. For that psychopathic mass-murderer to hear himself, his country, and his genocidal policies described as “the only country fighting for the cause of peace…the country that has rid itself of the war-mongering clique” surely convinced him that he could get away with mass murder, as long as he committed in the name of “socialism”.

Fifteen long years, a World War and a Holocaust later, Churchill recalled that motion: “It was easy to laugh off such an episode in England, but in Germany, in Russia, in Italy, in Japan, the idea of a decadent, degenerate Britain took deep root and swayed many calculations. Little did the foolish boys who passed the resolution dream that they were destined quite soon to conquer or fall gloriously in the ensuing war, and prove themselves the finest generation ever bred in Britain. Less excuse can be found for their elders, who had no chance of self-redemption in action” (The Second World War, Volume 1: The Gathering Storm, chapter 5).

Eighty-one years on, those Harvard University students disgraced themselves and their exalted home of erudition no less than those “foolish boys” of Oxford University disgraced themselves and theirs.

As Churchill noted, those “foolish boys” of Oxford University redeemed themselves in the coming years by fighting for their King and Country against the most evil tyranny the world has even seen.

These Harvard geniuses who have justified the cause of terrorism in general and Jew-hatred in particular are probably far too highly-educated and isolated from real life to understand the immense damage they have caused. Unlike the Oxford students three generations earlier, it is supremely unlikely that any of them will ever fight for their country, or for any of the ideals they claim to believe in – freedom, democracy, even socialism.

Digby, who had proposed the notorious motion in Oxford, died 68 years later. After he died, his widow Mutal said that “that Oxford Union motion haunted him. It dogged him wherever he went”.

One wonders whether any one of the Harvard students has anything like enough conscience to be haunted by what they committed.

But having said all this, one also stands aghast at the sheer hypocrisy of so much of the condemnation. The condemnation comes down to the argument that a trip funded almost entirely by pro-Israel donors included a pilgrimage to the shrine of the most vicious Jew-murderer since World War II.

And yet – I wonder. Harvard Hillel, Boston’s Combined Jewish Philanthropies, all the private donors – who are they to condemn students who pay homage to Arafat? After all, it was the Israeli government that sanitised Arafat, not Harvard University and its students.

It was Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin (y"sh) who first shook his bloodstained hand and hugged his vile body while he was yet alive and still directing his terrorists to murder Jews wherever and whenever they could. It was Shimon Peres – then Foreign Minister, later Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, today President – who publicly called Arafat “my friend, my brother, my partner”. It was the Israeli Government that gave 70,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles, jeeps, machine-guns, training bases, explosives, and immunity from prosecution to his murderous thugs.

When Binyamin Netanyahu was voted in as Prime Minister for the first time in 1996, he too publicly met with Arafat, shook his hand, hugged him, pleaded for the entire world to recognise that genocidal psychopath as our “partner in peace”. And how successful Netanyahu was!

Ehud Barak, former Chief of Staff and famously hailed as Israel’s most decorated war hero ever, in his capacity as Prime Minister and Defence Minister, frolicked merrily with that evil monster in Camp David, hugged him, laughed with him, gave him even more military hardware.

After him, even Ariel Sharon – the only Israeli Prime Minister since Rabin who never shook Arafat’s hand – tried desperately to give him yet more land, money, weapons, international legitimacy, and political power.

Today, back to Netanyahu in his second term of office – still desperately trying to realise Arafat’s dream, for which he lived and fought and murdered and lied and cheated, of an independent Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital. (That’s the first stage; the second stage, the total annihilation of Israel and the extermination of all the Jews therein, can wait for the meantime.)

All those people who condemned the Harvard students – have they ever condemned the Israeli Government for their open collaboration with Arafat, his henchmen, and his successors? Would the pro-Israel donors who funded their trip be willing to also criticise the “two-state solution” and the ongoing “Peace Talks” that the Israeli government conducts at this very time, with Arafat’s successors and his El-Fatah organisation that dominates the Palestinian Authority? Yes or no?

If no – then how dare they condemn the students who went on a pilgrimage to pay homage to the blood-soaked monster who fought and committed mass murder for the sake of that selfsame two-state solution (as a step on the way to a united “Palestine” in all of Israel) and was helped along and whitewashed by successive Israeli governments?

And if yes – then why focus on this group of students, though they be the leaders of tomorrow’s America? Why not take a clear stance against those Israeli Governments which brought Arafat to Israel in the first place and built him up into the icon that he became, while continuing up to this very day to collaborate with his successors?

23 March 2014

Message from Daniel: "NO FURTHER" (Part 2 Q&A)

21 Adar Bet 5774

Part 2 - Q&A: "They Will Die Just from Fear"

Q. Why come to the educational institutions with complaints? Salaries for teachers, electricity, water, cleaning? Where will the money come from?

A. Abba, understand one thing: The evildoers are not interested that there will be even one yeshivah in the land. They want to eliminate the Jewish religion completely, we should never know such. They're just making a game with the Chareidim. Like, for example, if you want a horse to go, put before him a piece of carrot on a stick and pull the stick, and he'll go where you want him to go... And what's most interesting is that the real-Jews believe in them and don't see the lie that is so clear! So, instead of going down before them on their knees to beg for money, it's better to turn the back to them, to show contempt for them, and trust in Hashem, and start yeshivas without money. Sit and learn in the synagogues, in homes. But, they want money and honor, money and honor...

Q. The girl learns in a seminary with the CORE curriculum, "blowing up" their heads with the pressure of so many various professions, tests, papers, projects, homework. Various and sundry studies, about the history of the gentiles, how many electrons are in an atom, how many times a cricket chirps in the summer... and other kinds of nonsense that I don't know at all for what it is needed. But, teach them what a Yiddishe Mama needs - how to cook, how to sew, how to raise children - this is not being taught at all. On the other hand - to leave her in the home is impossible. I feel that her soul is drowning in the sea of nonsense, and I don't know what to do...

A. Look, Abba, I want to explain. The chareidi education for girls today turns them into robots, to superficial seekers of materialism. It turns them into someone who doesn't have the heart, the soul or the outward appearance of a true Jew. I'm not talking about whoever goes to learn to be a ganenet or school teacher, although now, these also need to study psychology and various other things that are really goyishe. The psychologist can't compete with the Torah in anything to do with human relations. There's no comparison. And since we almost don't have any more elderly Jews, real ones, who remember the true and the righteous from the previous generations, who can direct the generation to Yiddishkeit, to true-Judaism, therefore, it's a very big problem. Because of this, they are able to introduce into our education system all kinds of inferior things without us paying attention to it at all. There are remaining to us a few Jews like these and very small groups of Jews who are trying very much to live like previous generations. But the majority prefer the materialism and lack of spirituality which has entered into the chareidi world.

So, therefore, together with the job that the chareidi-world wants to compete with the secular world, they want to be Chareidi, but with all the materialism of the seculars and the majority do not understand that the moment they try to imitate the seculars and only add some kind of 'hechsher' to it - then, we have a problem.

For example - it's like giving a hechsher to various restaurants. We go to the restaurant to eat, the food is kosher badatz, but it's not kosher! Because, how can it be kosher if women and men are coming, sitting and talking in a more open way, men and women sitting at the tables, laughing, talking, and eating, one-opposite-the-other, one is looking at the other, and there's a big window, and whoever passes on the street sees how they're eating. They stand together in line, all this is not kosher! It's impossible to give a 'hechsher' to a restaurant just for the food. It's not enough.

And that's our education today. It's kosher - because, on one hand, we're learning with a real Jewish approach of keeping Shabbat, holidays, customs, etc. On the other hand - something completely goyishe.

This is something very important that the girl is learning, that the greatest thing is to get married to a young man who learns Torah all day. And she, if she wants a young man like that - she has to be ready is ready to go out to work, except for giving birth, and apart from being a housewife and except for various other duties of a woman. And in order that the husband will sit and learn Torah all the time and for the sake of his Torah, she will work outside the home to earn money and she will also raise the children properly, and she will worry that the husband will have something to eat when she gets home, etc, and etc.

Now, what's the absurdity in this? The absurdity is what will become from this. Because we live in a society, in a very materialistic generation, so a situation emerges where the young men in yeshivas are learning the same thing - that they have to learn day and night and the wife needs to go to work. If the young man does not exactly get into this issue, and it doesn't suit him, because he does want to work, he does want to be the man of the house, and he can't sit and learn all day, he's a chareidi young man, he really believes in HKB"H, but since he can't sit and learn all day, so he becomes class B or C, even though he has set times to learn. And if he will say that he wants to go to work - no young woman will want him, because the young women are afraid to take someone like this, because it's not their education. So, a situation is created where 'these who learn Torah all day' - they don't always learn Torah all day, because they don't really have the ability to sit all day and to learn. But, they're afraid that there won't be this framework - so, all kinds of askanim leave it alone, and the young men, there's simply nothing they can do. So, they sit all day, many times they're just goofing around with one another, and getting into things that are not desirable, like internet games or things like these.

We have a difficult problem - because not everyone is naturally able to be a great Torah sage. Everyone can learn Torah. Everyone can be a good Jew. Everyone can be close to Hashem at the highest level. But, not everyone can sit and learn Gemara all day. There's no shame in working. And not only this, in Israel, a majority of Chareidim are working, even if they're learning in kollel, almost everyone is doing a job on the side, for the simple reason that there is not enough money to put food on the table. And those who say that "Chareidim don't work" - it's just a lie. And those who sit and learn without any job - they're very few. So, we already have distortion and danger. Because, in yeshivas today, not in all of them, they're not teaching love of Hashem. They're not introducing this into the soul of the boys. Ahavat Hashem - it's present in the soul naturally, but they're not strengthening it, and they don't elevate it in order that the young man will feel HKB"H. He doesn't feel HKB"H - so, therefore, he is susceptible now to all kinds of sins of the gentiles.

We'll return to the young women. The young women need to learn a profession. And when they finish the study, they're usually at age 20. And they want a young man who learns, but a young man who learns comes with... a price. He wants an apartment, because he learns every day. He's a good guy, let's say among the best, so she needs to pay for this. If he's a Litvak - so, it's a complete apartment if he's that good. if he's Hassidic - then half-and-half. Then a couple begins with everything that is needed: apartment, furniture, refrigerator and everything that is needed. New. And not only this - also, a lavish wedding. A wedding - simply a waste of money, especially when there is none... but, that's what has to be done.

Once, the young man had to pay the bride's parents in order to buy her. Talmidei chachamim looked for a young woman who could build for them a home of holiness. It was important for them that she would sit at home and raise the children, and, God forbid, not to go to work outside. And there are today many yeshivot that are educating the young men to remain in yeshivah as much as possible, instead of pushing them to get married - because it's good 'business,' and they receive allowances by the heads...

After the wedding - the wife begins to go to work, and the young man begins to sit and learn. Now, we have various types of young women. We have young women who work in education, etc. - the study material is not always kosher, but the environment is kosher. But, a girl who learns computer programs or these things, then even if she works in a company that employs only women - this job will bring her down spiritually.

Then there are those for whom the salary is not enough for them, so they find a better job in all kinds of other places, in banks, in Tel Aviv, places not kosher. But, they think, mistakenly, that it's allowed "for the sake of Heaven", so the husband will learn. Then there is a problem, a wife like this who has a serious job, because she earns the money, so she becomes the 'boss' at home. And not only this. She can't take the children to the doctor as needed, so the husband needs to leave his learning for this, etc. This causes damage to Yiddishkeit. As a result of this, the wife begins to dress less modestly to go out to the job. This leads to a situation that they need to plan the family because she can't give birth all year and also work. And this puts the girl and the ben-Torah in a very difficult situation. But, the biggest problem is - that very many of these couples very much want the materialism. And it's destroying everything. It's destroying Yiddishkeit and the holiness of the wife. They can't educate their children properly. It's a difficult problem.

It's not everyone. And those who are so affected by it, in the merit of their education at home, they're not suffering so hard. But, the majority forgot long ago what it is to be a real-Jew. Already, they don't feel it. It's not in their heart. They don't feel the pain of another Jew. They can't cry over the stories of the Holocaust. They're simply indifferent. They lost the feeling and the connection with their holy soul.

This spiritual descent - it's the disaster of our generation. Look at this generation, do they depend upon Hashem or do they depend upon the doctor? Or depend on the psychologist, the bank, or social security, the army, etc. For livelihood - they depend upon their place of employment and not upon HKB"H. They depend on their old-age pension and many still do not know that they're not going to get a penny from it. Oy! Some are going to have a heart-attack when it's disclosed that their insurance company went bankrupt. They're afraid that if one of these elements upon which they are so dependent will disappear, they won't know what to do. They'll be confused, feel lost. They forget that only HKB"H is All-Powerful.

There are many who the hard times like now cause them to wake up, open their eyes, see the truth, and repent. But, the majority - have no idea. Because, when they go in the street and see the chareidi immorality, and it can't be that the husband didn't agree to it, maybe here or there, there's some husband who doesn't agree, but the majority - the husbands agree with it. How do they agree with it? How do they agree that their women are walking this way on the street and other men are looking at them? And perhaps stumble because of her? This is already bringing various tragedies.

Chareidi education today is a big failure. How do we know this? We know this because there are so many divorces among Chareidim. And the number of divorces is rising. Ugly divorces. Many times there is a problem with adultery. And there is a problem of mamzerim among Chareidim, God protect us. Because it's impossible to behave like street-people without it influencing and harming. It's impossible to behave like gentiles, to dress like gentiles, without modesty, without it influencing them and the next generation. It simply can't be!

It's impossible to be in a school that teaches the 'CORE', gentile education which recently received a 'hechsher,' so to speak, impossible to study this secular learning-program and be under the authority of the secular Ministry of Education without being influenced by it and to know that it's lowering the next generation! It's impossible to go into a pigsty and come out clean!

And getting money from the evildoers - it's not like getting money from gentiles. It's getting money from the Erev Rav, and that's worse. Much worse. Because it's supposedly 'kosher' - but, it's not. It's more traif than getting money from gentiles. The gentiles want to annihilate us - and the Erev Rav want to turn Judaism into idolatry. Schools which take it - they're ruined. They are depending only on the evildoers and not on HKB"H. Because, if they were depending on HKB"H - they wouldn't have reached this situation, and would not have taken their tainted money. That's all I have to say.

Q. How is it possible to cope with this? How can it be fixed?

A. I'll tell you, Abba, the situation is so difficult. And not just in education. In every place there is a problem with superficiality, stupidity,  and etc. The yetzer hara is celebrating - with the Jews as well as with the gentiles. The pursuers after the Golden Calf. And now, the world is going down economically as well as with all kinds of wars, etc. And we, the Chareidi Jews know that we are really at the end before Mashiach. The truth is, Abba, there's not much hope for the future according to what's happening now, and there's not much we can do when we're standing before a problem this big.

The only thing that might work is if all the rabbis and gedolim would get together and say: "That's it, no further! We stop taking money from the evildoers and it doesn't matter what. We'll establish schools in homes, bomb shelters, women's areas, etc. helped by good Jews who will contribute money, and that's it. We're finished with it - and we're returning to what was."

But, it's a thing that's not so easy to do. There are people doing it, and thank God that there are, because even though they are few, upon them will be built the World-of-Mashiach. Thank God that it exists.

Abba, we simply need to pray about the youth, to pray about ourselves, to pray that we will do complete teshuva. To set an example for the children that we are close to Hashem. To speak with them a lot at home that there's no one upon whom to rely, just on HaKadosh Baruch Hu. To teach them not to speak lashon hara. To dress them modestly, to dress the girls modestly, and also to teach the boys to be modest, to teach them laws of holiness.

Then, Abba, we need Mashiach, and don't believe that anything else will help. Then, we need to pray and everyone will educate his children - that they will see the truth, that they will understand right from wrong. And to put into them a Jewish soul. To enliven in them again the Jewish soul. To teach them everything that is relevant to a real-Jew, all the laws of holiness. And this includes - the laws of yichud, clothing that is forbidden to wear, the prohibition of eating on the street, prohibition of mixing boys and girls together, issues of separation between men and women - not every wedding has a mechitza as is proper. And not every place has barriers. There are people who sit at the same table, if it's a family - father, mother, children, grandchildren, oh well, so what? But when there are guests and there are girls - it's impossible to seat them at the same table! It's simply not ok. They need a mechitza or another table. An uncle and niece sitting at the same table - it's forbidden. Prohibition of touching - for a boy from age 13 - and according to the stringent, from age 9 - it's forbidden to touch a girl from age 3, except for the father, the grandfather, or when she's married, the husband. And there are the most chareidi people who don't know this. There are many laws that people just don't want to know. And many problems were created by this. Particularly, that there will be modest and holy behaviors - in thought, in dress, in speech, and in eating. In every part of life - we must have holiness.

And also, young men need to know: It's important to guard one's eyes! ...it's required! Especially in our streets like today. He also needs to dress modestly and not to eat on the street. He doesn't need to draw attention. Modesty is relevant to the soul. Why does a young man go with a jacket even though he is hot? Because of the honor of HKB"H. He needs to be modest in his walk, because modesty is holiness. He needs to honor HKB"H. Not to be uncouth. Not to tell jokes with lashon hara or coarse jokes. Not to speak in the synagogue during prayer. Not to tell jokes when you need to be serious.

But, again, Abba, it's impossible to change this whole generation now. Only Hashem can do that. He's going to bring upon us such fears. But, again, we've said this and I'll tell it once more: Those who believe in HKB"H, who trust in HKB"H - they won't be afraid. But, those who are deep into the materialism and the falsehood and who lack modesty, those who don't believe, maybe they don't have a real Jewish soul, they won't be able to bear what's going to be. They will die just from fear. So, therefore -  return to HKB"H, trust only in Him and don't rely on anything else. And everyone should merit to greet Mashiach Tzidkeinu.

21 March 2014

Parshat Shemini/Parah 5774

19 Adar Bet 5774
Erev Shabbat Kodesh

Parashat Sh'mini/Shabbat Parah: So you think you understand?
by Daniel Pinner

It should have been the most joyous day since God had given us the Torah some ten months earlier. After months of preparing to build the Mishkan and its many accoutrements, after the euphoria of collecting the gold, silver, copper, wool, linen, goat-hair, ram-skins, acacia wood, olive oil, spices, and many precious stones and dedicating them all to the service of God, after the excitement of actually constructing the Mishkan and seeing it and its appurtenances taking form – after all this, there was a seven-day dress rehearsal.

From the 23rd of Adar onwards, Aaron and his sons had stayed at the Ohel Mo’ed (Tent of Meeting) while every day for seven days, Moshe erected the Mishkan, performed the entire Mishkan service, and then took the Mishkan down again.

Parashat Sh’mini opens on the 1st of Nissan: “It was on the eighth day that Moshe called Aaron and his sons and the Elders of Israel…” (Leviticus 9:1). This was the climax of the inauguration of the Mishkan, and the beginning of its regular functioning.

It should have been the most joyous day since God had given us the Torah…but disaster struck in the midst of the ecstatic celebrations. “Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, took each one his fire-pan, placed fire in them, and placed incense on it; and they offered before Hashem alien fire that He had not commanded them. And fire went forth from before Hashem and consumed them, and they died before Hashem” (Leviticus 10:1-2).

There are many different explanations as to what this “alien fire” was and why they died. The general trend is that in their (commendable) enthusiasm for God’s Service and their burning desire to come closer to God and to achieve greater holiness, they overstepped the boundaries of the acceptable.

Maybe they entered the Holy of Holies, which is forbidden to all except the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) on Yom Kippur (Vayikra Rabbah 20:8, Sifra Sh’mini Introduction part 34).

Maybe their intentions were improperly directed not towards the perfect Unity of Hashem (His attribute of Mercy), but towards His attribute of Justice, which was why they were punished harshly (Ramban, Commentary to Leviticus 10:2).

Maybe it was because they remembered the earlier charge, “The sons of Aaron the Kohen shall put fire on the Altar” (Leviticus 1:7), which they interpreted to mean: Even though fire comes down from Heaven, nevertheless it is a mitzvah to bring their own fire (Yoma 53a). And even though their interpretation was correct, they were punished for rendering this decision in front of their rabbi, Moshe, instead of deferring to him (Vayikra Rabbah 20:6, Rashi to Yoma 53a).

Maybe it was “because they entered the Ohel Mo’ed drunk with wine” (Vayikra Rabbah 12:1 and 5, Esther Rabbah 5:1).

But this tragedy was not to interfere with the national celebration. “Moshe called Mishael and Elzaphan, sons of Aaron’s uncle Uziel, and said to them: Approach, lift your brethren from the midst of the Sanctuary to outside the camp” (Leviticus 10:4), “like a man who says to his friend, Remove this dead body from in front of the mourner! How long can this mourner continue grieving?!” (Vayikra Rabbah 20:4).

The Midrash implies that they removed the bodies so as to let Aaron and his family recover from their grief sooner.

Rashi, however, paraphrases and changes this Midrash: “Like a man who says to his friend, Remove this dead body from in front of the bride, so as not to disturb the celebration” (Commentary to Leviticus 10:4), implying that it was so as not to impinge on the nation’s celebration.

Maybe Rashi refers here to the Talmudic dictum that “if a dead body and a bride are both being escorted and the two processions approach each other, the funeral procession makes way for the bridal procession because honouring the living takes precedence over honouring the dead” (Semachot 11:6), which is the halachah in practice (Rambam, Laws of Mourning 14:8 and Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De’ah 360:1).

In the event, Mishael and Elzaphan (who were Levites and not Kohanim, which was why they were allowed to carry dead bodies) were charged to remove their cousins’ bodies.

The Ba’al ha-Turim (Rabbi Ya’akov ben Asher, Germany and Spain, c.1275-1343) notes that the word “kirvu”(“approach”) in the phrase “Approach, lift your brethren…” has two cantillation marks over it (telisha-gedolah and gershayyim), and explains: “There are two cantillation marks, indicating that they did not approach them into the Heichal (Inner Sanctum); rather, they cast iron hooks in and pulled them out”.

This is a reference to the Sifra, which records two different opinions of where exactly they died: “Rabbi Eliezer says, They died outside [of the Holy of Holies], in a place where Levites are permitted to enter… But in that case, why does it say ‘they died before Hashem’? – An angel smote them, and he pushed them out. Rabbi Akiva says, They died inside [the Holy of Holies], as it says ‘they died before Hashem’. But in that case, why does it say ‘they approached and lifted them by their Tunics’ (Leviticus 10:5)? – To indicate that they cast iron hooks in and pulled them out”.

So according to the Ba’al ha-Turim, the double cantillation suggests that Mishael and Elzaphan kept a certain distance from their task, only fulfilling it with a tool.

Both the telisha-gedolah and the gershayyim are “separative notes” (they indicate a slight pause in the sentence, approximately similar to a comma in English). They both indicate a form of removal: telisha connotes tearing off, and gershayyim connotes expulsion. Maybe the Ba’al ha-Turim relies on the names and functions of these two cantillation marks: kirvu – approach, tear them away and expel them from where they are now, but nevertheless keep a certain distance from the bodies.

This double cantillation of telisha-gedolah and gershayyim on a single word is extremely rare: it occurs only one other time in the Torah – the word “zeh” (“this one”) in Genesis 5:29: “This one [Noah] will bring us respite from our work and from the travail of our hands”. Maybe the Ba’al ha-Turim is also making an oblique reference to Noah: he, too, kept a certain distance from his task, fulfilling it only half-heartedly. Ideally he should have saved all of humanity by warning them of impending destruction and inspiring them to repent of their evil; instead he saved only himself and his immediate family, but failed to save the rest of humanity.

Both Noah performing the task God had given him, and Mishael and Elzaphan performing the task God had given them, had to tear themselves apart from their environments – Noah in order to maintain his righteousness among the evil that was prevalent in his generations, and Mishael and Elzaphan in order to bury their cousins in the midst of the national celebration without dampening the general joy.

This year 5774, as in about two-thirds of all leap years, Parashat Sh’mini coincides with Shabbat Parah, which is the Shabbat which directly precedes Shabbat Ha-Chodesh, which in turn is the Shabbat which either coincides with or immediately precedes Rosh Chodesh Nisan (Mishnah, Megillah 3:4; Mishneh Torah, Laws of Prayer 13:20; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 685:1-6; Mishnah Berurah 685:1; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 140:2).

The Maftir-reading for Shabbat Parah is the quintessential chok – the statute for which human reason can find no rationale – of the Red Cow (Numbers 19). The Red Cow purifies the Jew from spiritual defilement contracted from coming into contact with the corpse of a dead Jew.

An unblemished Red Cow which had never been given a yoke was to be slaughtered outside the camp; it was then burnt entirely – its hide, its flesh, its blood, its dung; then the Kohen would take cedar-wood, hyssop, and crimson thread, and throw those into the pyre.

For seven days before the Red Cow was burnt, the Kohen who was to perform the ceremony would be removed from his house and from his wife (Rambam, Laws of the Red Cow 2:2).

And when the Kohen performed this rite, he would thereby become ritually impure until evening, during which time he would have to remain outside the camp, separated from his brethren. Then another man, who was ritually pure, would gather the ashes and store them in a pure place; he, too, would become impure until evening. The ashes would then be stored up to be used as and when needed to purify any Jew from ritual impurity caused by contact with the corpse of a dead Jew.

The Torah commands that this purification ceremony be performed “outside of the camp” (Numbers 19:3). In later generations, when the Mishkan in the desert had been replaced with the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, the purification ceremony would be performed outside of the walls of Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives (Mishnah, Middot 1:3, 2:4, Parah 3:6; Yoma 16a; Rambam, Laws of Shekalim 4:8, Laws of the Red Cow 3:1).

Rabbi Ovadiah of Bartenura explains that we read this section on this Shabbat “to warn Israel to purify themselves so that they will be able to sacrifice the Paschal Lamb in purity” (Commentary to Mishnah Megillah 3:4). That is to say, the Red Cow is the necessary prelude to Pesach, because by its ashes the Jewish pilgrims to Jerusalem become purified, and consequently can enter the Holy Temple to offer both the Korban Pesach (the Paschal Lamb) and the Korban Chagigah (the Festival Sacrifice).

The tragic deaths of Nadab and Abihu in Parashat Sh’mini warn of the terrible danger of humans following their own decrees instead of God’s, even when they have the holiest and most exalted of intentions. Parashat Parah teaches us that God, and only God, decrees how purification can occur, that human reason cannot fathom pure spirituality.

That is to say, both Parashat Sh’mini and Parashat Parah tell us that there are certain decisions and processes which are best left to God to decree and define, and that we humans interfere with them at our peril. This may be the reason that even though the commandment of the Red Cow appears in Parashat Chukkat (Numbers 19), long after Parashat Sh’mini, God actually commanded it at the time when the Mishkan was erected, very shortly before Nadab and Abihu died (see Gittin 60a-b and Yerushalmi Megillah 3:5).

Nadab and Abihu should have understood from the mitzvah of the Red Cow that their limited human understanding did not allow them to fathom God’s reasoning, and certainly not to interfere with what God had commanded.

For sure, enthusiasm and spontaneity, individualism and creativity, have their place in Judaism, in worship of God. But Parashat Parah teaches us that just as we cannot fathom the mitzvot with our limited human intellectual resources, we certainly cannot invent new mitzvot or new ways of fulfilling the mitzvot. And Parashat Sh’mini teaches us how tragic the results can be when individuals – even the greatest of individuals – try to do so.

20 March 2014

Message from Daniel: "NO FURTHER" (Part 1 Q&A)

18 Adar Bet 5774

Part 1 - Q&A: "Today, we are as if in Egypt"

Q. How do they view the rally in Shamayim?

A. In Shamayim, they see that the majority of Am Yisrael is not happy with the decrees of the seculars, and a majority of the Jews here in Eretz Yisrael are beginning to understand that the evil Hellenists want to wipe out our Judaism. And this amazes the Jews, and frightens them. And therefore, they're glad that a stand like this was organized so that all the Jews who came, and they were masses, could express their desire in the clearest way, the connection of Am Yisrael with HKB"H, to show clearly also to the seculars, to the askanim, to the rabbis and also to all Am Yisrael that we are ready to sacrifice ourselves al kidush Hashem, and not prepared to accept decrees against our Father in Heaven, HKB"H, the Omipotent One, the Master of the World and His Torah. No! We can't! We're not prepared to do it. We're servants of Hashem - and not slaves of the Erev Rav and gentiles. The Nation of Israel lives!

Q. What about livelihood... We need to marry off children, a mortgage...

A. HKB"H is the provider, and only HKB"H. If we as real-Jews work are working at a job that's forbidden to us by halachah, then there won't be a blessing in it. And if we believe in HKB"H and His Torah - then, we will have all that we need. Because only He is the provider.

Q. There are many reports of periodic medical examinations that are worthwhile to do, vaccines which prevent diseases etc.. What is your opinion of this?

A. Don't forget that healthcare today is a big business of billions - multi-billions of dollars. Because of this, very much of the healthcare is 'as if it's able to prevent disease' - for the majority, it's to profit off of a person's fear. Maybe it can prevent us from getting a serious disease, but since we, the Jews, believe that only HKB"H is The Omnipotent One, that He is the Master of the World, then we know that if it's our destiny to suffer a particular malady, then to prevent it by a medical test - this is really foolishness. Because, if Hashem determines that for our good we need to suffer a particular malady - then, if it's not from one place, it will arrive from another place, we should never know such.

The time to do tests is only if we are not feeling well or if there are clear signs that there's a problem, but all these tests are for the sake of making money, and are based on people's fear. And there are even tests which on their own are able to bring illness, we should never know such.

Q. Recently, a large hospital went bankrupt. What happened there?

A. I will not go into all the dirt that was there, but this wasn't what brought them down. What brought them down - it was the tears of one Jewish mother that they falsely accused her of plots and took her child. Then her weeping arose to Heaven and reached the Throne of Glory. And this is what brought them down.


18 Adar Bet 5774

The War-Against-Torah-Jews proceeds on many levels.

In the Samarian community of Har Brachah, missionary Christians have been given a place to live and work in exchange for free labor in the vineyards. They've even been given the go-ahead to set up a tent-church for worship to their false god.

In order to make room for these people, Jews were forced off their hilltop - all except for one hold-out. In order to spiritually strengthen this Jewish man, one day out of the month, Rav Yehudah Richter of Elon Moreh holds his Torah class on this hilltop with this lone hold-out against anti-Torah forces.

Yesterday was the second class. At the first class, the yishuv sent over a security truck to check out what was going on. At yesterday's class, it got a little more intense, even though they knew from the first time that a Torah shiur was being held for under an hour and afterwards everyone left uneventfully. Yesterday, a security truck was again sent over to check everything out. About five minutes later, four IDF soldiers approached. The Rav continued as if nothing was happening. At the end of the shiur, as the students prepared to leave, someone appearing to be officially connected to the yishuv (in kippah and tzitzit no less) began photographing everyone's faces and then their license plates - all without apology or even asking if they minded. As the cars were leaving, a police car pulled in and passed them on the road, stopping as it passed the first car which carried the Rav, who advised his driver to just act normally. No one tried to stop them.

This just shows us to what lengths the evildoers are willing to go against Torah-true Jews. There are two reasons for this. 1) On the physical level, they see people like Lapid and Bennet succeeding and they think the power is with them; 2) on the soul level, they understand that their time is short to do all the damage they possibly can before Hashem calls a halt to it all.

At times like this, I always hear Hashem's charge to Yehoshua ben Nun ringing in my head: 

"...be very strong and courageous, to observe, to do, according to the entire Torah that Moshe My servant commanded you; do not deviate from it to the right or to the left, in order that you may succeed wherever you will go. This Book of the Torah shall not depart from your mouth; rather you should contemplate it day and night in order that you observe to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way successful, and then you will act wisely. Behold, I have commanded you 'Be strong and courageous,' do not fear and do not lose resolve, for Hashem, your God is with you wherever you will go."