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PARASHAT NASO 7th of Iyar 5769 30/5/09

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From the World of Rabbi Avraham Kook “Materialism creates a rift between objects in the universe, and an opposition between them. The ideal spiritual state knows nothing of this rift; rather, it engenders only unity and togetherness” (Erpalei Tohar 119) Rabbi Dov Begon – Rosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir Message for Today: “My Spirit…and My Words…Will not Leave Your Mouths, or the Mouths of Your Children”At the Sinai Revelation, “Moses led the people out of the camp toward the divine presence. They stood transfixed at the foot of the mountain” (Exodus 19:17). Rashi comments, “The mountain was torn from its place and overturned upon them like a wash basin. G-d said, ‘if you accept the Torah, fine. Otherwise, this shall be your burial place” (Shabbat 88a). And why did G-d overturn the mountain upon them in this way? To make known the Torah’s virtue, that Israel cannot survive without it. Had Israel accepted the Torah willingly, they would say that it is not essential and they can get along without it. After all, they received it of their own free will and they could have rejected it just as well. G-d therefore overturned the mountain upon them, to show that Israel cannot survive without the Torah, just as the world cannot exist without the Torah (see Maharal, Gur Arye), In the Talmud it says of King Hezekiah, “He drove a sword into the door of the study hall and he said, ‘Whoever is not studying Torah will be impaled with this sword.’ A search was made from Dan to Beersheva and…no one, child or adult, was found to be unfamiliar with Jewish law…” (Sanhedrin 94b). Rav Kook had a vision of “our nation being rebuilt and consolidated, regaining its strength and resuming all aspects of its life as a nation.” This, he said, would occur “by way of their faith and reverence, their divine, hallowed, noble content spreading, gaining control, developing and becoming strong. All the nation’s builders will arrive at the profound truth of this point” (Orot HeTeshuvah 15:11). And how will the nation return to its spiritual nature? “Through mass Torah learning, through schools to raise up Torah scholars and other schools where the masses can learn Torah on a regular basis.” Today, in the Jewish People’s process of rebirth, we can distinguish between two stages. The first is the ingathering of the exiles and the establishment of a Jewish state. The second stage is spiritual rebirth, fulfillment of the prophetic promise, “I will sprinkle pure water upon you….A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you” (Ezekiel 36:25-6). This refers to the renewal of prophecy in Israel, as Rav Kook wrote: “The great repentance that will revive the nation, and that will bring redemption to Israel and to the world, will be repentance that derives from the ruach hakodesh [prophetic intuition] that abounds amongst them” (ibid. 97). And what will lead to this spiritual renewal and rebirth? Torah learning. The day is not far off when Israel, willingly and agreeably, will enact a Torah Education Law. All Jewish children will learn Torah, which is the heritage of the entire Jewish People, just as it was given at Sinai to all of Israel. Then, with our own eyes we will see the fulfillment of the divine promise, “This is My covenant with them’ – says the L-rd: ‘My spirit shall be upon you and My words which I have put in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your children, nor from the mouth of your children’s children– henceforth and forever” (Isaiah 69:20-21) With blessings for a joyous Shavuot and looking forward to complete salvation, Shabbat Shalom! Thousands of hours of free Torah videos! – www.machonmeir.net Rabbi Shlomo Aviner- Chief Rabbi of Bet El On Being a Talmid Chacham [a Torah Scholar] Question: I always wanted to be a Talmid Chacham and to learn Torah my whole life. Yet I am forced to go out to work so I am sad and frustrated. Answer: First of all, the fact that you are sad is a good sign, showing that you possess love of Torah, and that it is the center of your life. Good for you! Yet you’ve got to be aware that throughout the generations, most of the Torah scholars worked for a living and only a small minority learned Torah day and night. Surely the hope is that the entire Jewish People will become talmidei chachamim. “All your children learn from G-d” (Isaiah 54:13). Yet working is a mitzvah as well, all the more now that we have a state. There are talmidei chachamim who are 100% Torah and there are talmidei chachamim who work. And anyway, you’ve got to realize that even Torah scholars devote a lot of time to many matters that are not Torah learning but kindness: sowing harmony between people and between man and wife; communal matters and public struggles, visiting the sick and comforting the mourner, weddings and circumcisions, Pidyon HaBen and Bar Mitzvah and guidance in how to train children and youths in mitzvoth. How much work there is! Obviously, all these things are a mitzvah, but they’re not Torah learning, not to mention Rambam’s view forbidding one to accept money for Torah learning (Hilchot Talmud Torah 3). True, his view is held only by him, as he himself testifies in his Perush HaMishnayot on Avot 4:7 [Don’t turn your Torah learning into an axe with which to dig]. Yet the Shulchan Aruch rules like him. In any event, such is his view, that Torah scholars have to work for to make a living. All this without mentioning women. Among them as well, there are some with a love of learning Torah day and night. Yet they are forced to spend most of their lives on the holy duties of women. The rule is this: Everyone is suited to be a talmid chacham. Yet not everyone is suited to be an illustrious figure of great influence, for not everyone has the talents for that, and not everyone can find work in the Torah realm. Still, one has to realize that Torah is not a profession, but life, as in our daily blessing, thanking G-d for “commanding us to occupy ourselves with the Torah”. This blessing has two meanings: 1.That one should constantly be preoccupied with the faith of Torah, Torah thoughts, Torah emotions, clinging to Torah and longing for Torah. Whatever the situation, “he should not leave the Sanctuary” (Leviticus 21:12) – his inner Torah sanctuary. The Torah is his inner world. It is also his natural conversation when he meets his friends. “How I love Your Torah. All day long it is my talk” (Psalm 119:97). While it is true that most of the time he works and only a minority of the time he learns, that minority is his quality time, the “heart” of his day, in the words of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, and it has an influence on his entire life. 2.That one’s deeds should be Torah deeds. After all, exposition is not the main thing, but action. Within a single mitzvah, millions of Torah ideals are stored away, as in Rav Kook’s simile from Orot HaTeshuva. This person’s deeds are Torah, and his character is a Torah character. The Torah does not say that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob learned Torah. While we do know from the Oral Torah that they learned in the yeshiva of Shem and Ever, yet there is importance to what the Written Torah, itself, writes, describing Abraham as a spiritual giant, who is all Torah from head to toe. Our sages defined the talmid chacham as one for whom “the Torah is his” (Kiddushin). Torah is his, his intellect and emotions are all Torah. His spirit and soul are all Torah. Our master, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook did not think that within the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva a kollel should be established with a track for Rabbinic court judges, rabbis or halachic luminaries. Rather, he thought that yeshiva’s task was to produce Torah scholars, whether they used their Torah as their profession or not. Indeed, there are people who work in another profession but lead Torah lives in the atmosphere of their home, in how they educate their children, in their purpose in life, in their seriously setting aside times for Torah learning, and in their maintaining ties with great Torah luminaries. These people likewise fulfill as much as possible: “Minimize your business dealings and study Torah”, as recommended by Mesillat Yesharim, Chapter 5. Certainly our highest ambition is for a person to be a great talmid chacham who learns Torah all his life, but life has its constraints. Our sages said that a thousand commence the study of Chumash, a hundred continue on with Mishnah, ten then continue on with Talmud and only one becomes a halachic luminary (Kohelet Rabbah 7). The main thing is to do your utmost, and the reward is in keeping with one’s pain. The Rabbis taught: “There was a pearl – a lovely saying – on the lips of the sages of Yavneh: ‘I am G-d creature and and my fellow man is G-d’s creature. I study Torah – I am human. My fellow man, who may be ignorant, is human as well. My work is in the city – in the yeshiva – and his work is in the field. I rise early to go to work, and he rises early to go to work. Just as he does not put on airs about his work, neither do I.’” Just as he does not push to take over my place, to claim superiority over me or to scorn me, instead appreciating me and my work, so do I appreciate him. “And lest you say that I am doing much and he is doing little, and that I am worth more than he, we therefore learn, ‘Whether one does much or little, the main thing is that he should train his thoughts on his Father in Heaven.’” (Berachot 17a). Man is not judged by his achievements but by his effort. You cannot compare one man to another. Some souls are meant for Torah learning, and others are meant for work (Ma’amarei HaRe’iya, page 198). Sublime spiritual elevation is not reserved specifically for those whose profession is learning Torah day and night, but to anyone for whom the Torah is their life’s blood. See Mesillat Yesharim whose highest ambition is “chassidut” (the start of Chapter 1). Yet that same chassidut is not reserved specifically for those with a particular type of livelihood. At the book’s conclusion he counts three types of Chassidim: (1): one “whose profession is Torah learning”; (2) the “employee” and (3) “other”. The main thing is that one devote one’s life to showing honor to G-d and to pleasing Him. Rabbi Yaakov Halevy Filber “I Will Bless Them”Do we need to prepare the individual to be independent, to deal with his spiritual and material problems on his own, or is it perhaps better for him if he remains a creature who gets support and assistance from others and seeks his salvation from those outside himself? In his letter to our Yemenite brethren, Rambam writes: “The blind man is saved by the seeing person who leads him around. He, himself knows that he lacks eyes to show him the straight path. The sick person, ignorant of medicine, is saved through the advice of the physician, who guides and directs him. He does not know what kills and what cures and saves, so he listens to everything the physician tells him. In just the same way, it is appropriate for the masses to place their trust in the prophets with their accurate vision… let them follow the wise prophets.” Yet is our goal in life to be a blind man or an ignoramus who gropes in the dark, or is it to try to acquire knowledge and an ability to run our lives by our own efforts? In Berachot 55b, the Talmud states that if someone becomes sick, in seeking for people to pray for him he should not announce his illness on the first day but only on the second day. Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook in his book Ein Aya explains that ideally one should try to treat himself by his own efforts and not turn to others immediately, and this guidance applies to both material and spiritual matters. Therefore, even regarding sickness, when it seems hard for someone to overcome his problem by his own efforts, he should not turn to others on the first day, but should strive to find deliverance through his prayers. Only on the second day, if things have not improved, he should avail himself of the help of others. One of the situations in which a person seemingly needs the blessing of others is the priestly blessing, when a person stands inanimate before the kohanim and they bestow their blessing on him. As the Midrash teaches (Bamdbar Rabbah, Parashah 11:2): “… Henceforth G-d says, ‘Blessings are now in your hands. The kohanim will now bless My children.” Here as well, however, the Jewish People did not readily accept this pronouncement, as the Midrash teaches (Tanchuma, Naso 8): “The Congregation of Israel said to G-d: ‘Master-of-the-Universe! You would have the kohanim bless us? We need only Your blessing, a blessing from Your lips,’ as it says, ‘Look down from Your holy habitation in heaven and bless Your people Israel’ (Deuteronomy 26:15). G-d replied, ‘Even though I told the kohanim to bless you, I will be standing with them, blessing you.” Even more unequivocal is Sifri: “ ‘I will bless them’ (Numbers 6:27): How do we know that Israel should not say that their blessings are dependent upon the kohanim? Because it says, ‘I will bless them.’ And how do we know that the kohanim should not say, ‘We shall bless Israel’? Because it says, ‘I will bless them.’” The role of the kohanim is explained by the Maggid from Dubna in his book Ohel Ya’akov, where he asks: Why in the priestly blessing do the kohanim stand facing the people? Would it not be more appropriate for them to face forward towards the ark and to ask G-d, “Bless Your people Israel! Let Your countenance shine upon them!” He answers with a parable: A father was angry with his son for his bad behavior and turned away from him, ceasing to relate to him. The boy, having been distanced from his father’s house, went around without clothing or shoes, lacking everything, and things were very bad for him. The boy went to a neighbor’s house and asked him to intercede on his behalf that his father should provide him with clothing. The neighbor went to the father and asked him: “Take pity on your son! Provide him with clothing! It’s the winter and it’s cold!” The father replied, “It was foolish of you to have come to ask me to show my beloved son mercy. You should have understood that I am his father and my whole wish is to show him benevolence. The only reason I am distancing myself from him is because of his evil deeds. Therefore, if you wish me to show the boy kindness, you have come to the wrong address. You should first talk to my son and rebuke him so that he mends his ways and improves his deeds. What can you accomplish by talking to me? I am ready to show him goodness in an instant.” It is the same with the priestly blessing. The kohen, in his blessing, is not asking G-d to bless His people Israel. G-d’s whole desire is to show constant benevolence to Israel, for G-d loves kindness. Hence the message of the priestly blessing is this: Make sure to be on a high spiritual level so that you are worthy to receive blessings and goodness. This is why the Torah has the kohanim address the blessing not to G-d but to Israel (Numbers 6:23). The same explanation is given for the end of the priestly blessings as well: “The kohanim will thus link My name with the Israelites and I will bless them” (verse 27). Once the Israelites are worthy of the blessing, “I will bless them.” Translation: R. Blumberg Tax deductible contributions may be made out to American Friends of Machon Meir and sent in North America to: American Friends of Machon Meir c/o Ms. Chava Shulman 1327 45th st. Brooklyn,NY 11219 And in Israel: Machon Meir- 2 Hameiri Ave. Jerusalem, Israel 91340

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