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Madlik Podcast – Disruptive Torah Thoughts on Judaism
29 minutes | Jul 26, 2021
Shema Yisrael and the struggle against Cheap Faith
Parshat Vetchanan (Deuteronomy 6) Geoffrey Stern and Rabbi Roy encounter the iconic call to Faith of the Shema Yisrael to explore the complexity of faith and especially the contribution of the Musar Movement Sefaria Source Sheet: www.sefaria.org/sheets/337360 Transcript: Geoffrey Stern And today, we are going to discuss the one sentence that pretty much I think every Jew knows about has heard is our calling card and it is this Shema Yisrael that's found in in Deuteronomy 6: 4. And I'm sure we could just spend the whole afternoon just talking about what Shema means to you and means to me, and we definitely you're going to do that. But we're also going to use it as an excuse to look into my background in terms of the Yeshiva, I studied in a Musar Yeshiva. And there were certain insights that I got into the moment of Shema that I want to share. But let's start by saying Roy, what does? The Lord is our God, the Lord is one Shema Yisrael. Why is it so iconic? And what what does it mean to you when you say it twice a day. Roy Feldman I mean, the simple meaning is that it's accepting the yoke of heaven. It's a declaration that is kind of unambiguous, that we accept God as the sole creator and sole ruler of the universe, Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokenu Hashem Echad. It's very unambiguous. It doesn't waver at all. Even if we have, you know, some thoughts about theology or different feelings about God or, you know, wrestling with God in some ways, at different times, twice a day, we kind of just set those aside and say Shema Yisrael twice a day where we don't waver and don't have any compunctions about saying that. And that's an important way to bookend the day. It really, opens the day, and it closes the day. We say Shema in the morning and at night, before we go to bed. And so I think that's the real statement of the Shema that whatever happens in the middle of the day, and whatever thoughts we might have, we bookend the day with this declaration that we accept God, Geoffrey Stern I think that's absolutely correct. This sense of accepting the"Ol Malchut Shemayim", the kingship of God. And I love the fact that you say that it's kind of a moment of intense focus and acceptance. And that serves as a wonderful segway to the story that really impacted me and will serve as the crux of this conversation. So I went to a Musar Yeshiva... the Musar movement was started, I believe in about the 1700s, 1800s, about the same time as the Enlightenment, and possibly as a response to the Enlightenment in Eastern Europe by a rabbi called Rabbi Yisrael Salanter. And I was fortunate to go to a Yeshiva, that was headed by Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe, who studied under the alter from Mir, Rav Yerucham Leibovitz. And he told this story as follows. He said, once a student was saying the Shema and Robbi Yerucham came up to him. And he said to him, so did you say the Shema with Kavanah, with intention? And the student replied, Well, of course, Rebbe.. totally. And he said, so. Let me get this straight. When you said this Shema, you accepted this yoke of heaven, on your feet, and everywhere that you're going to go the rest of the day and the rest of your life and on your tongue, in terms of everything that you're going to speak, your hands and all of your actions, your mind and all of your thoughts, your heart and your emotions. And let me ask you something, did you feel like rebelling? And the students stopped and he paused? And he says, Rebbe, Hash Veshalom! God forbid, I never felt like rebelling. And Reb Yerucham turn to him and said, my boy, you've never said the Shema in your life. I found that story is so powerful. And I guess representative of what the Musar movement is, because it took something that should have such a purity of intention. And as you were saying this kind of focus [and unambiguity]. It even includes in it the word "One" "Echad" what word could we pick that represented harmony any more than the word "One"? And here this Reb Yeruchum introduced that if you didn't have the unharmonious feeling of rebellion. If you didn't feel a twitch of unacceptance then you probably haven't said Shema with intention at any time in your life. Roy before I give you a little bit more of my further reflection on that story, what what does that story say to you? Roy Feldman It's an amazing story that actually brings to mind a similar or a parallel ... that if you don't wrestle with God.... What the story is really saying is that if you don't wrestle with God, that you don't really believe in God, you don't really have the real feeling of Shema. Eliezer Berkovitz, who was a Jewish philosopher who passed away a couple decades ago, in Chicago, has a book called Faith after the Holocaust where he kind of tries to account for having faith, in light of the terrible evil that was the Holocaust. And in the introduction to that book, Berkovitz writes that if you did not have questions of faith, if when you were faced with the death camps, and with the murderous Nazis, you didn't say, "Where is God now?" Then you yourself, don't really believe in God? Because how could you not have a problem with God, if we believe in that great God, that's all good and all knowing, and all powerful and just wants good for us? If that's the God that we believe in, then when faced with such evil, if you really believe in God, then you have to question God at that moment. And that's very similar to the story that you were just telling, with, with the questions of saying the Shema, but wrestling with Shema, rebelling against God. Each one of us faces, difficulties in life, whatever our difficulties may be, and some are greater than others. But at any point in our lives, we are faced with situations in which we really have to ask "Where is God for us now?" And why is God doing this? or What does God intend by doing that? And I think that's really the crux of that story about the Shema. Geoffrey Stern I couldn't agree more. You know, even if we just focus on the the wording, what started as a simple expression of faith, when when Rashi looks at it, he says, Well, no, actually, there's a progression here. Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokenu Hashem Echad. Here, O Israel, the Lord our God, and the intention there is maybe the God of the Jewish people, one day will be the one God meaning will be accepted by the whole world. And so even in that there's maybe less of a sense of conflict. But there is a sense of resolution. And that faith is not something that static, that's faith is something that has to grow. And I think you and I would both agree that probably the the biggest catalyst for growth in faith is turmoil, is the sweat, the work of building one's faith, whether on a national universal level, or more importantly, on on a personal level. So even baked into the phrase, he's not all together, he or she is not one yet. We have to work at it. Roy Feldman Yeah, I think that's absolutely. That's absolutely right. Geoffrey Stern The other thing that's kind of interesting, and of course, clubhouse, and a podcast is an audible network. But if you have the Torah sitting in front of you, you'll see that the word Shema, the Ayin the last letter of the word Shema is a very large, and the Dalit at the end of Echad is also very large and the rabbi's explained that the reason for this is if you change the letter of Shema to an Aleph it means Shemma... "maybe". And if you change the letter, Dalet at the end of the Echad, which means "one" to a Resh, which looks very similar, it means "acher" it means "others" and of course it makes you think of "Elohim Acherim" other gods. So it's almost as though the Masoretic text and the tradition that we come from is looking at this very simple positive formulation of faith and baking into it all the possibilities for hearing wrong, misunderstanding it. If you listen to a traditional Jew say the Shema at the end they go "Echaaaaaaa D" and again, that tradition comes from stressing the fact that it's a Dalet and not a Resh. It's it's kind of fascinating, isn't it? Roy Feldman It is fascinating and not only do we do stress that Dalet at the end to make sure it's a Dalet and not a Resh, but many traditional Jews are also more careful about pronouncing all of the words of the Shema correctly, even more so than they are about the rest of the service for that same reason to make sure that we're saying everything exactly right and as intended. So there'll be no questions about what we're saying with the Shema. I think another interesting thing about the Shema is that we call it the most famous prayer in Judaism, but in reality, it's not a prayer. We've been saying it's a declaration, and it's really a declaration that precedes the prayer. The rabbi's in the Tractate Berachot in the Babylonian Talmud, note that one is always supposed to proceed the Shemona Esrai with the blessing of Go-al Yisrael, which is really the final blessing after the Shema itself. I think that one of the meanings of that is that in order to pray in order to stand before God, and make requests for good health, and for a livelihood, and for sustenance, and for for peace, and for all of these things, before that, we have to make a declaration that we accept God. So it's interesting that many people think of it as a prayer, but it's really not a prayer. It's a declaration of sorts. Geoffrey Stern Yeah, I think that's absolutely true. Although, it could be aspirational, especially if you take it from the perspective of what Rashi said, and the fact that It reflects a hope and a desire, as opposed to a reflection of the current state. But I want to discuss a little bit further this really talent that the rabbi's, but I would say the Jewish people have for seeing in a statement both itself and its opposite. And I think that's what Rab Yeruchem was saying in terms of "and you never rebelled". You know, the flip side of faith, real faith is this radical sense of rebellion. And if you don't have one, you don't have the other. And it's the summertime and I'm thinking back to when I was a camper at Camp Tovah Vodaas. And that was not a Musar Yeshiva, it was a more of a Hasidic Yeshiva. And the spiritual head of that Rav Moshe Wolfson, we used to take us students out into nature. And as many of us are this weekend in nature, and he quoted a paragraph in Pirkei Avot; the Ethics of the Fathers. And it says "if one is studying while walking on the road, and interrupts his study and says, how fine is this tree? Or how fine is that newly plowed field, the Bible accounts to him as if he was mortally guilty". "ke-iIlu Mitchayev beNafsho" as if he had done the worst sin. And sitting there in nature, the rabbi said to us, how could that possibly be? And he said, so here's the correct interpretation. He says, if you are studying Torah, and you look at nature, and you think that that's an interruption, you are guilty and your soul is guilty. It's not that it is an interruption that you interrupt your study, but that you think that it's an interruption that you don't understand that the beauty of God can be found in the Torah in the revealed law, but it can also be found in nature. And I thought that it contained in that little story, too, is a wonderful lesson to us. But the bigger thing is how you can take a phrase and turn it on its head, how you can find an insight that goes 360 degrees in the opposite direction. And this is really Jewess approach of Yeah, you're right and you're also right... Elu V'Elu Devrai Elohim Hayim. Roy Feldman Yeah, that remark reminds me of the expression, "don't let school get in the way of your education". that's similar to the the Rabbinic passage that you just quoted. That is don't let the law and wonder of nature, which is really God's creation, be an interruption to your learning. It really is part and parcel of your learning. Just as there are many elements in education that aren't formally part of school, but they really are an integral part of one's education. And we see that in so many different areas of where something seem like they might be a distraction. And some things really are a distraction, let's not pretend like there's no distractions, but don't let things that seem like a distraction but can really be valuable sources of spiritual growth or intellectual growth get in the way of what we perceive to be the formal learning. Geoffrey Stern Absolutely. So so I want to go back to the Musar movement and use my experience there and to share with with you what my insight is into the Musar movement. Most people translate the Musar movement as an ethical movement in Judaism, a focus on ethics. And I think that there's a very, very small part of that, which is true because all of Judaism focuses on ethics and being a good person. I think what sets the Musar movement apart is that one constantly is working and working, and sweating the details of even the most obvious thing like God is one. Like, we need to be observant and learn from all things, whether nature or not. There's a verse in the Torah that says that "im Bechukotai Telechu" that you should walk in my laws and the Sifra, the commentary explains that walking in God's laws means "amaylim B'Torah" it means struggling with the Torah. So if I had to represent the Mussar movement, it really looks at all of Judaism and says you have to struggle with everything. You can't take any obligation [at face value]. You know, when I was at that Yeshiva after a year you were invited into a Va'ad that might meet at midnight, twice a week. And you might take the simplest concept, you might take the concept of being thankful of being hopeful, the concept of belief, and we would literally spend six months focused on it. The Masgiach , Rabbi Wolbe would give us actual [thought] experiments that we had to do in terms of understanding what it means to be thankful and not being thankful and when that thankfulness is self serving, and I think that really, what I would love to share with you all today is this sense of, if you've never questioned what thankfulness is, then you've never been thankful if you've never understood what pain is and hardship is from both sides. I think that's what the Musar movement really... is the magic of it, that it gave to me. And that I have found the most intriguing part of my love affair with Judaism is that nothing can be only be taken at face value. And there's always this struggle in a good way. We can't forget that the word "Yisrael" is the name that Jacob got after struggling with the angel. Matt. Welcome to the platform. What what's on your mind today? Mathew Landau Hi, everyone. great conversation. Thank you. Well, I'm just back from Italy. And I was in too many churches. And it's sort of when I was davening on Tuesday, I was looking at the liturgy again, and I had a question I want to be a Musar for a second and sweat a detail .... when you talked about the Shema (I may be misquoting you, but you suggested something like the whole world will come to no one God). So in the Aleynu prayer, that paragraph that begins Al Keyn Nikaveh l'cha". "Therefore, we put our hope in you" and it goes on to say that very soon that you'll remove all detestable idolatry from the earth and false gods will be utterly cut off. I was curious from a maybe a Talmudic perspective or what Roy thinks about that interpretation. I spoke to one religious friend of mine that he knew of one Talmudic track. That that meant that that's when the Messiah will come and I won't name names, but I think there's some people we know that may wish to put the whole messianic concept of Judaism to the side. And so therefore, does it mean when we're davening this part of Aleynu that we're thinking that everyone's going to come around to either being Jewish or just being their own thing? But having no idolatry? I'm curious. Thank you. Roy Feldman Yeah, I think that's that's a great question. That's the famous part of the liturgy, so often sung at the end of Alynu, and the people who come to synagogue know that part of the liturgy, I think the key to understanding that line is understanding the word "Shem". Beyom ah'hu yiyeh Hashem Echad u'shemo echad" , God will be one, and his name will be one. And what's "Shem" usually means in the Bible is translated a reputation. For example, the Ba'al Shem Tov, the founder of the Hasidic movement, he was the master of a good name, that means he was a master of a good reputation, he had developed a good reputation for himself as being a spiritual counselor, so to speak. And that's if you look throughout the Bible and see what that when the word shem or name is used, name means reputation, how you're known, and we use that in English, too. He has a good name in the community means reputation. So I think when we save that line of the Aleynu prayer, what it means is, on that day, God will be one, which he already is, God is already one, and his reputation will be one, meaning everybody in the world will understand that God is one. It doesn't mean everybody's gonna be Jewish, it doesn't mean. I don't know what the Messianic undertones of it are. I can't you know, messianic era could be a very generic phrase, that means sometime in the future, when the world is at peace, and there are simply no problems in the world. That's the era towards which we hope the world is going. And so that's the simplest interpretation of "on that day God will be one and his name will be one". Not only will he be one, which is, you know, the metaphysics of it. He already is one. But his reputation will also be one ... there won't be a time when everybody kind of acknowledges that. Geoffrey Stern I think that it is clear that if you look at Rashi's comment, he's probably talking along the lines that both you, Roy and Matt are talking in terms of Messianism. But I think it's so obvious there is so many religions and practices of spirituality that are looking for the ultimate harmony, the ultimate one, you know, the Buddhist comes to the hotdog stand and they asked, What do you want on it? And he goes, I want one with everything. So that we all want ultimately, to find a world that lacks dissonance, that truth is obvious. And I think that's a way that you can harmonize what Rashi is talking about, which is the struggle for oneness, is a struggle. And it's a continuum over time, but it's an aspiration for harmony, and whether that harmony is personal, whether it's national, whether it's universal, I think it's how you take it and how it works for you. Elise welcome to the bima Elise Meyer Hi, Shabbat Shalom, everybody. I love that you were talking about harmony because the point that I wanted to make is that I recently was called upon to write a haiku in honor of a friend for one of these horrible zoom birthdays. And in doing a little bit of research about Haiku, which is the Japanese poetry form where five syllables are followed by seven syllables and then five syllables. These are poems that are used to connect a person to nature and to the universe. Most of them are related to the seasons or some sort of natural phenomenon and it occurred to me that "Shema Yisrael Adnoey Elohenu Adonai echad" is a perfect Haiku... She ma Yis ra el, Ado noy el o hey nu, ado noy ech ad" . Geoffrey Stern Wow, we heard it first here on Madlik. That's That's beautiful. That's absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing that Elise. Elise Meyer Well thank you for everything that you do to bring us to a higher level. Geoffrey Stern So I would like to finish up.. we were we talked Matt about you were going into churches and we talked a little bit about haikus and Buddhism. When I think of how I would characterize the Musar movement, this struggling with Torah, I actually think of a Lutheran theologian, a German theologian, who actually was very much against Hitler, and he was, he was killed, sent to a concentration camp and then ultimately hanged for being part of the plotters to kill Hitler. And he came up with an amazing phrase and the phrase is "Cheap Grace", cheap or costly grace and he like thinkers similar to like the Kotzke Rebbe or Kierkegaard spent his whole life arguing against religion without the fiz, platitudes. Just blind faith mumbled over and over again. And I believe that this this Cheap Grace, Cheap Belief, nothing comes easy and the beauty in the struggle and the joy that I think is reflected in the Shema. And Shema has a very rich history of being with the Jewish people and individual Jews at heights of joy and at depths of sorrow. But what it is, is that it's not cheap, is that it represents inside of it in one little phrase, as you say Elise, a Haiku, but also an aspiration, this struggle between the notion of one God and many gods of dualities and harmonies. And I really do believe that the story that we started with about if you can say it and accept everything in it and not rebel, then you've never said it is so true. So I thank you why for joining us, Matt, Elise for coming up to the bima I wish us all an amazing Shabbat. This is Shabbat Nachamu, which again is the flip side of mourning of Tisha B'Av. And now comes the the joy. If you plant in tears, you reap in joy type of thing. So let's all be joyous. Let's all have Shabbat and make sure that for many generations Shema Yisrael Adonoi Elohenu adonai Echad. Roy Feldman Amen. Thank you so much for inviting me, Geoffrey, this was a wonderful conversation. Thank Mathew and Elise for joining us. Geoffrey Stern Thanks so much.
38 minutes | Jul 17, 2021
Tisha B'Av and the Birth of Anti-Semitism
A conversation between Geoffrey Stern and Rabbi Adam Mintz on Clubhouse where we explore the sanctification of powerlessness in Rabbinic Judaism and the internalization of failure. We discuss the tendency of Jews to seek fault in themselves as individuals and as a people as part of a harmful pattern that gave rise to anti-Semitism. Source Sheet: www.sefaria.org/sheets/335498 Transcript: Geoffrey Stern What are you going to be talking to your congregation about? Either on Shabbat or Tisha B'av or both? Adam Mintz I'm going to give them a sermon that was written by Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch in 1855. And in 1855, Samson Raphael Hirsch, in Germany, the Orthodox Rabbi in Germany, talked about a preacher who 20 years earlier, you know, a rabbi Reform rabbi, who had ordered his congregation on Tisha B'av night to wear their finest, most beautiful clothing, and to come in to celebrate a Tisha B'av night in the synagogue, because he believed that mourning was over. There's no place for self evaluation and for mourning and for thinking about the past, it was a time of emancipation of hope. Hirsch's entire sermon was why that was wrong. That it's exactly when you're doing well, that you need to be humbled, and you need to fast addition. Geoffrey Stern So that really ties into some of the things that I'm going to be discussing. So we're perfect. That's perfect. I remember one summer I was at Camp Torah Vadaas for Tisha B'av and my dad came up with a friend to visit me. And we were sitting on the floor with ashes on our forehead. Yeah. And he you know, it from his perspective, it was probably very similar to when Franz Rosensweig walked into a shul for Kol Nidrei, you know, it was so dramatic. He always used to talk about it. And clearly, it is very dramatic. You would think, walking into a typical traditional synagogue on Tisha B'av that something terrible happened last week, not 1,900 years ago. Adam Mintz That's right. Not not 2000 years ago. Geoffrey Stern And I think the night that my dad came, it was thundering and lightning That's a good segway to say welcome to Madlik. And we are disruptive Torah every week at four o'clock Eastern. And we are recording, and therefore this recording will go on to the Madlik podcast, which typically gets published on Sunday, and becomes part of the record. So welcome, all of you. And that's not to inhibit any discussion. It just means that what you say will go down into posterity. So we normally talk about the portion of the week that is read in synagogues on a particular week of Shabbat. And this week, we have the beginning of the book of Deuteronomy Devarim, which has begun in the cycle. And we also have on Sunday, Tisha B'av. So I had wanted to talk about Tisha B'av, it's something that I've been given a lot of thought about for the last few years. But as I was also studying the book of Deuteronomy, the very first verse and the very first comment by the traditional classical sources, formed an amazing introduction to what I want to talk about. So you should know whether you higher biblical critic, or you're a classical scholar of Judaism, somehow or other the book of Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Torah, but somehow it's different. It has a different voice. It has a different perspective. The higher biblical critics think that it might have been even written at the time of Ezra during the Babylonian exile, and that'll become relevant later. But whether you believe that or not, it has a different function and a different purpose. And it recaps many of the things that were said in the prior four books of Moses. So in this sifrei Devarim, it says, "These are the words which Moses spoke", and it asks the obvious question, well, Moses has been speaking for the last four books. So what do you mean to say "these are the words that Moses spoke", and it says that we are there taught "Sheharay divrei Tochachot" that the words in the book of Deuteronomy are words of rebuke. So even this classical source is questioning the purpose, the function, the intention of The Book of Deuteronomy, and it's positing that the purpose of it is to rebuke, to check, to take castigate or forwarn the Jewish people. And then in Devarim Rabbah, which is also a very old classical commentary, it adds to that. And it says, In the name of Rav Acha the son of Rabbi Hanninah If you're going to rebuke the children of Israel, why have Moses do it? Why have a friendly do it? Why wouldn't you have Bilam rebuke? The children of Israel, enemies are much better at criticism. And it answers that it's was decided that because Moses loves them, he said, rebuke them, rather than to have the rebuke of our adversaries, if we're going to be held in check and account, let those who love us do it. So before we segway into that the commemoration of the destruction of the temple on Tisha B'av, that contains many texts of rebuke, I just want to open it up to conversation rabbi, in terms of the purpose of Devorim, the insight that I bought from these classical sources. Where do you stand Adam Mintz it was really dramatic. First of all, Shabbat Shalom, and it's exciting. We're beginning the fifth book of the Torah. That's always exciting. And Devarim has been a problem, literally, since the beginning of time, exactly what is the role of Devarim, and that midrash that you quoted that classical source that you quoted, which tells us that Devarim is different because it's rebuke, because it's Tochacha is really a very interesting idea. Because that really talks about I think, Geoffrey, what is the role of Moshe? Is Moshe, a defender of the people, or is Moshe a rebuker are of the people? And then let me just raise that a step, maybe being a rebuker is also part of being a defender. Maybe if I want to defend you, sometimes I have to be willing to rebuke you. So maybe that's really the tension here in Devarim. And that's what exactly is Moshe's role. At the end of his life. This is the last 30 days of his life. At the end of his life, what is his job, rebuker? Or defender? Or and/or, rebukr? are rebuker/defender, really two sides of the same coin? Geoffrey Stern I think that's a great question. And obviously, we feel like we've been living with Moses. So many of the previous podcasts where he was totally surprised, totally undermined by the people that he really carried out of Egypt. There's a real dialectic here between the leader and the flock, so to speak. And so I do think that's a great question. I wanted to give an example of what one would mean by rebuke, or at least the way I take it, from something that everyone who is at all familiar with the prayer book would be aware, the iconic Sh'ma prayer begins with the call to faith, Sh'ma Yisrael. And then the first paragraph that we say, is all about you should Love the Lord your God, with all your heart and with all your soul. And by the way, that comes from Deuteronomy. But then the second paragraph that we say, starts out in the same way that you should do it with all your heart and soul. But then in Deuteronomy 11: 16, it says, "Take care not to be lured away to serve other gods and bow to them, for the Lord's anger will flare up against you, and He will shut up the skies so that there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its produce, and you will soon perish from the good land that the Lord is assigning to you." And I think as I was trying to understand because I never thought of Devarim, of Deuteronomy, as necessarily full of rebuke. It's not simply rebuke, but it gives a sense of the tenuous nature of the Israelites, the Jewish people on this land, the really conditional nature of it, and that if you misbehave and if you don't follow the rules, and if you don't love your neighbor and take care of the the widow and all that you will be shucked out, you will be put into exile. And that to me again is a perfect segway into a commemoration of the destruction of the Temple, but it really was the destruction of the first and the second Commonwealth. It's where we lost our political independence. And sure enough, that is I think, and I'd love to hear what what you feel about it, Rabbi, that is the biggest leverage. That's the biggest stick that Moses and Moses as the spokesman of God is waving .... I'm taking you into the promised land, I might not be able to come with you. But be aware that if you do not fulfill your side of the bargain, you will be kicked out. Adam Mintz I would agree with you. It's interesting, that exile is the classical punishment. And obviously, that's true. And I think you see, that's true, because what strikes me most about Tisha B'av, of all the traditions that we have, is the fact that according to tradition, both the first and the second Temples were both destroyed on the ninth day of aV, let's be honest, what is the chance of that? What is the chance that both temples are going to be destroyed oN exactly the same day? And I think the idea is that the date is not what's so important. It's the idea of emphasizing the fact that exile is the ultimate punishment, that whenever bad things happen, whenever you you don't behave properly, that you're going to get be exiled. There's a wonderful midrash that says that the reason that the temple was destroyed on Tisha B'av is because when the spies came back from their trip to Israel, and they gave a bad report, it says that the Jewish people cried that night. And it says thatVaivku.. they cried and the rabbi's say about that, that you cried Bechiya shel Hiunam.. you cried an unnecessary cry. Because there was no reason for you to cry You should have trusted in God. I'm going to establish a reason for you to cry. That's such a powerful idea. You cried for no reason, you cried that you're going to have to enter the land. And therefore as a punishment, you now are gonna have to be in exile. That's the punishment, exile is always the punishment. Geoffrey Stern So I'd like to pick up on what you said about somehow the confluence of bad things on Tisha B'av, the First Temple and the Second Temple. And we can we can say, okay, it was a coincidence. But at the end of the day, more and more things started to happen, a bad for the Jewish people in Tisha B'av. And in a sense, it wasn't so much self fulfilling prophecy. It is that word got out that this was the day of calamity. So if your Yemach Shemam... the Nazis wanted to beat the Jews, or there was a pogrom in the works, it was more likely than not that if it was around Tisha B'av, they would attack them on Tisha B'av. In the nomenclature in the vernacular in Israel today. If you meet somebody and they have a long face in Hebrew, you don't say "What's with the long face"? You say what's with Tisha B'av face? The newly elected President of Israel, Isaac or boogie Herzog coined a phrase, he was being critical of Netaniyahu, a number of years ago, and he was criticizing him for trying to scare and frighten the Jewish people and running a politics of fear in fright. And he called it the Tisha B'av syndrome. So even Jews and non Jews who do not observe Tisha B'av, they understand what a Tisha B'av face is, they understand the inport that it has for the Jewish people. So it's almost grown beyond the particular day. But you are right, it's focused, and it's focused particularly on one type of calamity. And that is the Jewish people losing autonomy, losing political autonomy and any control over their their well being and decisions that affect their life. Adam Mintz And I think that's a very powerful point. Really, really powerful. The idea of exile. We don't think Geoffrey today about exile much. When you think about a punishment to a country, you talk about losing your autonomy. You know, you think about a country that doesn't do well, they're not going to be exiled. France is not going to be exiled from France, the UK is not going to be exiled from the UK, New Yorkers are not going to be exiled from New York. It's actually an idea that had its moment. I don't think exile is something that speaks to people the same way anymore. And that's why I think and this is an interesting question, that when we talk about Tisha B'av now, we kind of are using a language that is not so familiar to people, and therefore we try to talk about Tisha B'av, in a language that people will understand, even though exile is not something we really understand anymore. Geoffrey Stern So so I'm going to say something rather radical, even for Madlik disruptive Torah. And it's really going to be the premise of the rest of our discussion today. And that is that, you know, we Jews, lovers of Israel today, are always asking the question, why when you criticize the Jews, or when you criticize Israel? Do you question its right to exist? Why can you criticize us like anybody else? There are plenty of progressives, who are critical of the way the US operates in Afghanistan, or how it treats minorities in this country. Never do they say, "and therefore you have no way to live there". Why is it always Israel that we question the right to exist. And what I want to say that is slightly radical is here, and I want to pick up on what you were saying a second ago, Rabbi, here, the lever that we introduce to the world is if we are bad, we become stateless. And we introduced this concept that we are unique, and that our connection with the land and our political autonomy is tenuous and contingent. And I think that we always throw up our hands, us lovers of Israel, and they go, why are they treating us differently? And what I would like to kind of explore for the rest is so many of the tropes of anti semitism, actually are the flip side of the arguments that we are seeing in our own tradition. And I'm starting with this argument that if you Jews are bad, you're going to be kicked out of your land. Adam Mintz Right. Okay. And do you think that that resonates with people today? Geoffrey Stern So so I think for me to make that argument, I've got to drill down and continue, because I do agree with you that it's fairly sophisticated to say, Oh, yeah, most people living on this planet know about the second paragraph of Sh'ma, where it says, if you don't behave, we're going to kick you out of the country. So let's delve into this a little bit deeper. My guess would be that if I asked the typical knowledgeable Jew, about why the temple was destroyed, specifically the Second Temple, they might tell me a story about two guys named Kamtza. They might go into the Talmud, and look for all of the reasons that different rabbis have given through the ages for why we lost the the Temple and the land. And I can assure you that not one of the answers given by those rabbis, is authentic or practical, because I believe the reason that the Temple was destroyed is because we got in the way of the Roman Empire. That's the long and the short of it. It wasn't about me. It wasn't about you. It was about the fact that Israel is somehow between Babylonia and Rome, and in the First Temple we got in the way of the Babylonian Empire, and in the second we got in front of Rome. The rest of my argument is going to be that we were very successful in teaching the world the perspective that we Jews have, that does relate our condition to our moral and religious adherence. And that everybody who was a follower of Christianity and a follower of Islam is aware? Adam Mintz Good. So there is an awareness of this kind of punishment, and it's a religious awareness of this kind of punishment. It's not political. It's religious. Geoffrey Stern Yes, yes, Adam Mintz That's an important distinction. I think Geoffrey Stern So there's two books and two thinkers that I want to really rely on, and one is Ruth Weiss, Professor, I believe at Harvard, who wrote a book called Jews and Power, and the other is Yitz Greenberg. But let's start with Ruth Weiss. The premise of her book is exactly the question that I just asked, which is, how did this happen? How did this become so persuasive? And she starts with Josephus Flavius now Josephus Flavius was a Jew, who moved over to the Roman side. And he asks, Why was the Tmple destroyed? And he gives a bunch of reasons. And one of those reasons even refers to "what caused the Romans to purify the temple". Now I get it. He was on the payroll of the Romans. He was a Roman historian. But he he lists again, just as the rabbi's of the Talmud do, a bunch of assassinations that were incurred by sectarian fighting. He talks about all of the corruption that was there. And Josiphus was translated into every language of the civilized world. He and the rabbi's were literally on the same page, in terms of ... and this is a quote, "when the Romans came to purify thee from the internal pollution". And if you understand what the ramifications of that is, that not only the rabbi's and not only the Roman historians, but ultimately the the Jews themselves promulgated this concept that if bad things happen to the Jews, it's because we sinned. I think you can begin to see that, in fact, yes, every one of..... I wouldn't even call it the Abrahamic religions, I would call it the successionist religions, the religions that believe that they replaced the Jews. And that really did feed into their narrative that they replaced the Jews because the Jews had sinned. And proof evidence, number one is look at the Jews, take a look at that ghetto, take a look at these people who can't farm the land, (because we won't permit them to do it.) So I do believe there is a direct connection between our perception of what brought on the the trauma of Tisha B'av and the world's perception. Adam Mintz I think that's a really, that's a powerful idea. I wonder... you talk about the succesionist religions, do the other religions focus on exile the same way? The Muslims have the idea of exile. Geoffrey Stern I'd love it if we have a historian and a comparative, either religion or archaeologist or a sociologist here. I think that getting back to the way I began the discussion with the rabbi's of the Midrash saying, if the book of Devarim is about rebuke, why not get the enemies of the Jews to mouth that rebuke? I think the knee jerk reaction is that civilizations are criticized by their enemies, and they are not at least (and now I'll get into washing one's laundry in public), certainly not publicly are they criticized in the ancient world in the medieval world in the world of the Middle Ages. We can talk about modern times later. But no, I don't think that number one. Other religious cultures are so so self critical. And to answer your question, I don't believe especially because Christianity and maybe Islam too were not as rooted in a particular locality or location. But certainly even if one gets away from the location, it's really, the destruction of the Temple was more than just exile from a particular piece of land. It was the end of the Temple culture. It was, for a large degree, the end of a language. I mean, I believe that Rome even changed the name from Judea to Palestinia just to literally make Israel Jew-free. Adam Mintz know or have an idea. I always say it that way, the end of an idea, Jewish autonomy, as reflected in the temple was a religious idea. We have been working for the past 2000 years to restore that idea, the prayer service, but we call davening is an attempt to restore what we lost on that day, in the year 70, when there was no longer a Temple, how do you get back to that idea of connecting to place and to God, without something. And that's what the prayer service did. Instead of sacrifices. We had a prayer service, we had this idea of three times a day, we had this idea of synagogue, you know, synagogues a new ideas, synagogue really only came about after the destruction of the Temple. Because when there was a Temple, you weren't allowed to have synagogues, because the synagogue was the Temple. But once there was no more Temple than all of a sudden they created synagogues. So we've been trying to restore that idea. Now, I think Geoffrey been interesting conversation, maybe for another time and to say, did we do a good job, because I would make the argument, we've done an amazing job, we actually have replaced that idea that it's not the same as having a Temple. But we have done very well in terms of unifying the Jewish people. And I think Tisha B'av is an example of that. The fact that Jews around the world know that it's Tisha B'av whether they fast or they don't fast, but they know that it's Tisha B'av , they know that it's Rosh Hashanna, they know that it's Yom Kippur means the idea is maintained. Geoffrey Stern So I think that you you make a compelling argument for the fact that the rabbinical response, actually, was greatly beneficial. And the proof is in the pudding, we survived for 2,000 years of exile. Again, as long as we're talking about what makes the experience of the Jewish people unique, you can't say that about a lot of cultures or religions. So I would like to segway and use your question to segway a little bit away from Ruth Weiss and into Yitz Greenberg. Ruth Weiss is actually a conservative thinker and she is very into realpolitik, and as her book progresses, and I really think anyone who's interested in the subject, should read it. She's very critical. She writes at the beginning of her book, that her book is "against the tendency of Jews to seek fault in themselves as part of a harmful pattern, I hope to expose". So the whole purpose of her book, and she will look at a statement that you just made now, which is "Well, we survived didn't we?" She would critique that as the pacifism that we survived for 2,000 years bending over like Fiddler on the Roof, saying this too,will pass is what kept us in exile so long, but I want to go to a religious thinker. And Yitz Greenberg believes that if there were two epochs of Judaism before the Holocaust, meaning when we were in the land, then after we were expelled, that literally turned Judaism on a dime. I think that one of the things that you were just saying a second ago, is that the paradigm shift that Judaism went through, after the Temple was destroyed, was just just unheard of in the history of religion and of society. They the rabbi's literally changed the face of Judaism, and yet Greenberg believes that the Holocaust is a similar episode. It is the Third Epoch of in Judaism. And he argues that those who say that we all you know, It's it's bad, but look at all the other bad things that have happened to us. He points to instances such as the Spanish Inquisition that created the Kabbalah. He focuses on the Shabtai Tzi and the false messiah, as something that that totally created the Hasidic movement and all that. So we do have to react. And we do have to change Judaism. But in his case, the Holocaust is on a different level. And what he argues is that after the Holocaust, we can no longer follow.....and here he's in agreement with, with Ruth Weiss. And he's also in agreement with you the type of Judaism that enabled us to survive, to get through it, to persevere, under great odds no longer worked. He argues that without the State of Israel, there would probably have been another two Holocausts since 1945. His famous phrase is that "power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and powerlessness is worse than all". And he makes a very compelling argument, that now we have to stop blaming ourselves, we have to take responsibility for our future that the God of maybe exile was the God who is hidden. The God after the Holocaust is a God who says you have the keys, you control your own fate. It's all up to you. So it's almost a religious push for the secular to take over the role of that. And again, you should read his work as well. But it's a fascinating turn. And it segways into what you will be talking about tomorrow, Rabbi, in terms of when do we celebrate Tisha B'Av? So before we talk about celebrating Tishas B'av? What are your feelings about Yitz Greenberg's approach? Do you feel that the Holocaust changes everything? Adam Mintz I think the Holocaust changed everything. I think the question we have to ask is and I think that's a question that is really the next chapter in Yitz Greenberg's book is what's the therefore? So the Holocaust changed everything. The State of Israel changed everything. What are we supposed to do about it? I'll tell you a little story. in the service on Tisha B'Av, in the afternoon service, the Mincha service, there's a paragraph that we recite on Tisha B;Av, it's the only time we say it the whole year long mincha on Tisha B'Av. It's called "Nachem". And it says God should console us. And in Nachem, we talk about a Jerusalem that is destroyed. And many of the rabbis in Israel, Yitz Greenberg included, he changes the entire language of this paragraph. This paragraph talks about "and the city that is in sorrow, laid waste, scorned and desolate, that grieves for the loss of its children that is laid waste of its dwellings robbed of its glory, desolate without inhabitants." I don't know Geoffrey the last time you were at the Waldorf in Jerusalem, but that is not a description of the Waldorf in Jerusalem. And these rabbis have taken out that paragraph. And they basically said that that's just not true anymore, that the Holocaust changed everything. But we have to realize that the traditions, the way that traditionally Tisha B'Av has been looked at is just not true anymore. And we have to be willing to recognize that. I'll just tell you one more story. Rabbi David Hartman ... the famous David Hartman, before he moved to Israel was a rabbi in Montreal in 1967. It was a Six Day War.... Israel reconquered Jerusalem in June. That Tisha B'Av, the tradition is that David Hartman in the afternoon of Tisha B'Av took his family on a picnic because he said we can't fast the whole day. Tisha B'Av is just not the way Tisha B'Av used to be anymore. We can't have Jerusalem and still observe Tisha B'Av the same way. I think those ideas are very powerful ideas. Geoffrey Stern So Rabbi as usual, you created a greast segway for me to to finish up. But I think what everybody is kind of echoing is that even the rabbi's of the Talmud understood.. in Taanit they say whoever mourns for Jerusalem will merit to see her future glory. In the Tractate of Rosh hassanah it says that when there will be peace, that all of the fast days that are associated with the destruction of the Temple will be feast days that you won't be able to have a funeral on, you won't be able to do anything related to mourning, which seems kind of strange until you couch it slightly differently. Whereas on Tisha B'Av we mourn our powerlessness. On a Tisha B'Av that is commemorated after we have our own State. And after we have power without putting any silver coating on power, power is a responsibility. But we can celebrate our power as we mourned our powerlessness. And I think that's why we do have to start considering segwaying from a Tisha B'Av of mourning, where we mourn our powerlessness to a Tisha B'Av of celebration, where we celebrate respectfully, our ability to control our own destiny, and to take the future into our own hands. Adam Mintz Thank you, I think that's beautiful. Shabbat shalom everybody. Have an easy and a meaningful fast, and we look forward Geoffrey to many years of celebrating Tisha B'Av in a smart and productive way, the way Yitz Greenberg talks about it. Geoffrey Stern Amen, Shabbat Shalom to you all. Adam Mintz Shabbat Shalom, everybody, bye bye.
31 minutes | Jul 11, 2021
The Compromised Land
Parshat matot - This week, along with Rabbi Adam Mintz and Rabbi Raphael Davidovich we discuss compromises and differences of opinion relating to the Biblical borders of the promised land and the modern State of Israel. We explore how these discussions might actually be the only way out of the current conflict. So throw away your maps and pull out your sacred texts and lets discuss the Compromised Land. Link to Sefaria Source Sheet here: www.sefaria.org/sheets/334569 Transcript: Geoffrey Stern This week, we have a new episode in asking Moses for an exception to the rule. This week, the Jewish people after 40 years wandering in the desert have finally come to the border. They've actually already conquered some land outside of the land of Israel, just to get passageway they're about to cross over the Jordan River. And two tribes; the Reubenites and Gadites approach Moses. And the Bible starts by saying they owned a lot of cattle. And they noted that the land on the west side, the West Bank of the Jordan River, were really good for cattle. And they said, Would it be okay? If we stayed here? And Moses, as seems to be the standard falls on his face. And says to them, does that mean that you're questioning the whole endeavor, that you're not going to come and take the Promised Land. And he even talks and reminds them, that a whole generation, their parents, had also come close to the border, had sent the spies over, and then had had their second thoughts and doubts, and decided, again, not to engage in this endeavor of gaining the Promised Land. And he says, The Lord was incensed that Israel and for 40 years, he made them wander in the wilderness. And he says, and now you a breed of sinful men have replaced your fathers to add still further to the Lord's wrath against Israel. So again, he's shocked by their question, the way they phrase, their question is kind of interesting, too, because they say that what we want to do is we will build places for a cattle to graze, and we will go ahead and build places for our families to abode. And then we're actually going to come with you and help you conquer the land. And until the project of fulfilling the promise of the Promised Land is fulfilled, we will not go back to our settlement here on the West Bank. But until that time, we will fight along with you. And at this point, Moses comes back, and he talks not so much to God, but I think to the other leaders, and to Aaron, and the priests, and he says, if you will commit to do exactly that, then I will permit you to stay on the West Bank of the Jordan River. And it really goes on and on in terms of each of the different steps. And that I think is the last time .... I might be willing next week. But I think it's the last time that the people of Israel, or a segment from the people of Israel asked for an exception. And Moses came back and gave them the exception. So Rabbi, in your opinion, what makes this story worth a whole chapter in the Torah? And what are the lessons and what are the takeaways? Adam Mintz Okay, first of all, this is an amazing story. It's about exceptions. But ultimately, in the end, it's about what commitments are the Land of Israel means, because what we have is we have the two tribes of Reuven and Gad. And basically, they're willing to say we're willing to put ourselves on the line, to be able to live where we want to live. Now, they didn't necessarily have to offer that. But they decided to offer that. And it shows what their commitment to the land is about. And I think that's very important. Yu know, the whole Torah, they're always complaining about going into the land of Israel, why'd you take us out of Egypt, we should have stayed in the land of Egypt and all of these things, right? The Miraglim, the spies come, and they say bad things about Israel. And now you have a group of people who are willing to say, we're putting ourselves on the line, to be part of Israel to fight the battles before anybody else settles down. We're gonna fight with everybody. I think that's a wonderful lesson. Geoffrey Stern So it's interesting that you kind of see In the, the the members of these two tribes, someone who is virtuous, their intentions were good. And you would put them in the same category as the daughters of Zelophechad, or Jethro. They were good and well intentioned. Adam Mintz that's a good term. Geoffrey Stern Well intentioned and in a sense, selfless, because what they were saying is they will fight for the rest of the nation to redeem the Promised Land, and then they would go back to the houses. But I sense in the commentators that there's actually a bias in the other direction. In other words, Rashi picks up on the fact that when they said, We will build sheepfolds for our cattle, and then they say, and we will go ahead and build homes for our children. Rashi said, "asu Ikar Ikar vehatfal tafal" they actually were materialists that they show their colors, in terms of caring more about grazing rights and prosperity. And I think, in a sense, the way they're introduced also kind of places them as someone whose intentions in fact, were very materialistic. So how do you square that with your circle? Adam Mintz Good. I mean, there is no question that Rashi is critical of them, or Rashi says that they're interested, they're interested in their self-interest, right? Where is it going to be better for us? I'm really taking a different view. Rashi decides that these tribes are no good. Rashi doesn't like people who break with the norm. Rashi thinks that everybody should do the same thing. I don't think that that's the way that we're necessarily trained. I think that we're trained that it's okay to be a little different. And that if you're willing to make a commitment, that it's okay to be different. So I understand Rashi, I'm not a traditionalist as Rashi in the same way, in terms of the fact that everybody needs to do the same thing. Geoffrey Stern Well, I think that's wonderful. That's why you and I are made for each other. Adam Mintz Tere we go. Madlik. That's right. Geoffrey Stern So so let's talk in biblical terms, it would be called the Promised Land, and in modern day terms, it would be called Zionism. In a sense, the Reubenites that Gadites, were the first Jews to live in the galut [Diaspora] so to speak, in other words, they were saying you can go into the land, we want to live outside of the land. I think historically, the fact that they live there, ultimately became part of Greater Israel. But in that moment, in any case, they were acting very similar to Jews, like you and I, who live in New York, who say, we are going to do everything we can to support you in the building the dream of Zion and the Land of Israel. But we're actually going to live on the other side of the river so to speak Is is this the first instance .... and it's funny, it's it happened even before they took the land, they already had these outliers. Adam Mintz Yeah, well, I mean, by definition, it's the first example. They're just taking possession of the land. And they're outliers. I think the Torah is really making a comment about how they feel about these outliers. Now, Rashi has one view, and I presented another view. Obviously, there are different views about these outliers. But clearly, this is the story of the outlier. It's different than the daughters of Zelophechad . The daughters of Zelophechad , are making sure that they get an equal portion. That's not about being an outlier. That's about protecting their own interest. It's really a different story than the daughters of Zelophechad . Geoffrey Stern Well, absolutely. Do you do you give any import to the fact again, I've already mentioned that the Bible seems to go out of the way to say that they own cattle and that they were looking for land suitable for cattle, ...cattle cattle. Do you think that this is part of a tension throughout the Bible that we haven't discussed before, between agriculture and cattle grazing (herders and ranchers). Between vegetarianism, if you will, and a culture of raising cattle. Of the wanderer, the grazer and the land holder who prays for the rain, who tides the crops. There are so many laws of Judaism that have to do with agriculture, in a very positive sense that it almost becomes the paradigm. And cattle grazing and certainly of slaughtering animals was almost limited to the temple. I don't believe that it was even permissible to eat meat outside of the temple culture. Adam Mintz That's right. Geoffrey Stern Is there any of that going on here? Adam Mintz There might be. They're clearly making an argument to the fact we need more land, because that's the way our that's our livelihood, and our livelihood needs more land. Now, you wonder, I think, Geoffrey, this is an interesting question. What did the other tribes think about the request of Reuven and Gad. T Torah never tells us, but it's left open for our imagination. What do you think to Torah thought? Geoffrey Stern It makes it seem that the key issue that Moses had was, number one, are you going to be included in the draft? Are you going to help the rest of the people? If we let you pursue your own private interests and your different lifestyle? Are you going to still be committed to the national movement? That was one thing, the other argument that Moses makes, which I find even more fascinating, is he harkens back to when the spies came back, any Harkens back at great length, because he says you're going to be doing the same thing, you're going to be taking away the idealism. We all were looking forward to going into the land until the spies punctured that bubble. And here you are at this precipitous moment, we're going into the land. And already you're taking away from from the whole, from Clal Israel, if you will, but he doesn't really put any words into the mouths of the leaders of the other tribes or to the priests either. So I don't know how to answer that. But I do find it fascinating, where his concerns were, Raphael Davidovich that's interesting. You say he doesn't put words in their mouths. You wonder, about why the leaders of the other tribes, you know, when it came to the spies, they weren't so quiet, all of a sudden, here they are quiet? And you wonder why that is? Geoffrey Stern Well, I mean, you know, again, we only can read what what's in the text, and we can't read in between lines. There are two words that are kind of interesting to me. One is they talk about, okay, so after you fulfill your obligation, you will come back here, and it'll be an "ahuza". It'll be a holding for you. And the other word is we're crossing the Jordan, you know, the word "Ivri" Hebrew comes from the word "L'avor" to go over. And certainly, one of the references or associations that we always have, is that we crossed over the Jordan, or in the case of Abraham over the Tigris, but the point is, we were coming home. And the cattle grazers are still wanderers so there's also that tension between coming home [to settle] and ending the wanderings in the desert or of the diaspora. And then there is the other side of it is well, we've gotten used to this life and we like this untethered existence. And then there's this sense of what is the land to them anyway, is it is is something that ... we just passing through? What does "achuza" actually mean? Adam Mintz So that's a very good question. What is what is the attitude of these people towards the land? These two tribes? What's their attitude? What about the other tribes? Do they have a different attitude towards the land? Does everybody recognize the holiness of the land? I think from the story in the Torah it's very hard. Geoffrey Stern Yeah. I mean, I think at the end it says "Vehoyta ha'aretz hazot l'chem l'achuza liphney Hashem" that this land will be to you, "achuza" a holding in front of God? You know, I'm reminded that actually does the land really belong to any of us? And that it doesn't talk about "achuzah L'olam" forever. So it does raise these questions. There's so much talk about coming into the Promised Land. What does that even mean? Is it our land to live on our or is it something that we own? You know, I don't think we'll ever know. But I know that these issues are there, even if we just look at the simple words. This conflict between a wandering people and people that comes home? Adam Mintz Maybe we should open it up Jeffrey and see whether we have some some opinions Michael, anyone else who wants to hear their views? You kind of threw out a lot of ideas today Geoffrey Stern Absolutely. So if there's anyone who would want to comment on what we've been talking about in terms of the first time that the Jewish people came to the land, and the first time that the kind of borders were started to be made both physical borders and borders between lifestyles, Raphael, welcome. Raphael Davidovich Thank you. Fascinating conversations. I just want to point out, that it was mentioned that Rashi objected to the tribe of Reuben and Gad for their request. But that's not necessarily the case. You know, that's not necessarily the voice of the Torah itself. And I just wanted to make sort of a point, not so much in defense of Rashi. But more in defense of the point that Rashi makes. To me, it seems fairly clear from the narrative, not only of Reuben and Gad, but meaning the long arc narrative that you see at the end of the book of Joshua, that what Reuben and Gad's request, while it was honored, was not considered appropriate. And you see this in two ways. One way is that the fact that they were on the other side of the Jordan, led to their being separated from the Jewish people or the Israelite people at a much earlier stage. There's a Midrash that makes the point that they were exiled, leaving me for the remainder of the 10 tribes, and also that they had distanced themselves. And they almost started a civil war later on at the end of the book of Joshua for wanting to build an altar, which led to a big misunderstanding there. But sometimes, while a Jew might feel he wants a little bit of distance from other Jews, it's ultimately not really a good thing. And I think that's why Moshe never apologizes for his initial rant. It's not as if Ruben and Gad say no, no, listen we'll help as soldiers. And Moshe says, Oh, I apologize for the misunderstanding. You know, the point is left unresolved. And it seems to me that the narrative voice of the Torah feels that all things being equal, what they did was not considered appropriate. So I just wanted to sort of register that that voice, you know, that point of view, Adam Mintz okay. I mean, you're you're reading it, within the Chumash [Text of the Torah], and I'm suggesting that there might be two ways to read the book. Raphael Davidovich I understand. I heard that other way. But I think ultimately, given the distance. not only in Chumash. But like I said, there are many things in the Torah that foreshadow later stories that take place in the Nevi'im [Prophets]. And I think this one foreshadows the greater distance that would occur later. I think there's a strong point, not just in Rashi's way of looking at it.well, Geoffrey Stern I think Raphael that what you emphasize, is this healthy discussion about the different ways that we can look at these tribes, and the unintended consequences in later history, but I think ultimately, like any situation like this, the real issue to me, the real excitement to me is that from day one, this Promised Land was a Compromised Land, meaning to say that these two and a half tribes came even before they got into the brand new car, they already had issues. And were talking about, can they add a trailer? Can they sit in the backseat? It was spanking new. We look at Israel today with all of the different factions and all of the different opinions about who owns what land and how we should cut our borders. And to me, the biggest takeaway is: There is one discussion that had relates to their intention, and where they fall within the commentaries and within history. But there's the other issue. And I want to bring it into the not the not so distant present already, that even from the get go, there were discussions about where the borders were, whether you were in or whether you were out whether you were a purist or were detracting from the movement. And that is pretty amazing .... that already from that time this occurred. If I wanted to take it up into the present in modern Zionist history, there was a big discussion between Weizmann and Ben Gurion on the one hand, and Jabotinsky, on the other hand about what the boundaries of the future State of Israel should be. And Weitzman and Ben Gurion were willing to compromise and Jabotinsky did not. And the main issue was whether the borders would be on both sides of the Jordan or the Jordan would actually be the border. So it's fascinating that the story that we have in front of us is actually a prequel to an argument that related to the founding of the State of Israel. Jabotinsky, wrote a song that became actually the anthem of Herut and the rejectionists who felt that Ben Gurion should not make the compromise. And he has verses in it. The refrain is "two banks has the Jordan, this is ours. And that is as well. It's stretching from the sea to the desert and the Jordan, the Jordan in the middle two banks has the Jordan, this is ours. And that is as well." And it's fascinating that this concept of enlarging the borders, so that what happened in the parsha that we're reading with the Reubenites, and the Gadities went ahead and said they wanted to live outside of the borders, that actually changed the facts on the ground, and it became a new border. And it just seems to me that it's so fascinating when we talk about what the borders of the land should be, and how we should even look at these borders, that we can't but help go back to that first moment when the Jews hadn't even passed over the river. And already they were having these kinds of discussions. And I should say, compromises .... so I wonder what everyone's thoughts are in terms of it almost becomes it's a land of compromise. And it's a land where different people have different visions from the get-go. Michael Stern I kind of envision that the Promised Land and when the Israelites crossed over that that was like, opening up an oasis that would flood the whole planet, with the milk and honey with this divine consciousness and mistaken, of course, human frailties of thinking started to think about borders. And it was really just a key in a lock. And In came the Israelites in the alchemy was ready to flood the whole planet with divine consciousness. And so I just wanted to add that feeling that I have that we really could just forget about all the human limitations and borders and strife and see it as an oasis that was unlocked to release that to the world but humans got in the way. Adam Mintz Nice idea. And Michael, finish up your thoughts. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Michael Stern Oh, I think it's a good thing that it isn't about borders and it's really about going back to the moment and put the key in the lock and let this be the work. To make one holy planet, and of course, you have to start with a seed. And why run after the leaves when you can go back to the seed and then grow a tree of life on the whole planet that goes everywhere and brings everyone together, and no borders and global citizenship and consciousness. Adam Mintz Fantiastic... I love that idea. Geoffrey Stern But I want to take maybe a little bit of what Michael was saying in a slightly different direction. And that is, yes, I think that Jerusalem and the Promised Land have always been both a reality and a metaphor. And there is absolutely no question, especially in their later history where the two could live simultaneously. But unfortunately, for people living on a particular piece of land, the metaphor doesn't help. And that, ultimately, is what borders and conquest and troop movements and relocation of citizens always ends up. So I would like to talk about an amazing situation that is happening as we speak in Israel. And the New York Times had an article in July 4th, and it talked about how the secular peace effort has pretty much died. And that this might be a moment in time for people who are knowledgeable and committed to religion, to actually start talking about the issues that are dividing the Palestinians and the Israelis. And the example that they give. And the reason why it's happening right now is as you may all know, there is a new party that is a part of the Knesset, and part of the coalition, the ruling coalition. It's headed by Mansur Abbas. And it's called Raam. And unlike what one would think that it's would be a secular party. It actually is a Muslim Brotherhood type of party, it's absolutely committed to Islam. It's one of those instances where exactly the type of person that you think, could not reach out and compromise, is seeing the ability to make the livelihood of his people better. And the times gave a history of this person who had a teacher named Sheikh Abdullah Nimr Darwish, who was put in Israeli jail because he was part of the Muslim Brotherhood and when he came out, he did a turnabout, and said that actually, the Muslims living in Israel, should try to obey the laws. And he met up with a Rabbi Michael Melchior, and the two of them ( he since has passed away. But Rabbi Melchior has continued and clearly his student who is the head of the wrong party has continued) seeing the future seeing the potential of religious people who can read a text like we're reading today, and can discuss the issues from the perspective of religious categories of thought that they in fact, are the ones who are most equipped to look for ways out I mean, even if it's the most basic thing that the concept of the state does not exist, either in Islam or in biblical, or Talmudic Judaism. The idea that you can make covenants and those covenants can be permanent, they can be temporary, the fact that you can live on the land, but every 70 years, the land reverts back to somebody else, and looks at land ownership, totally different. All of these categories are religious categories that we study week in and week out. And sometimes we look at ourselves and saying, why are we studying these texts that have no relationship with human affairs and politics and people's lives? And the truth is, it might actually be the opposite. And I'm just intrigued by this movement of religious scholars being able to sit down and to figure out ways that we can communicate, because clearly religious scholars have more in common than they have apart. And I'd like to open that up for a short discussion and comment or just leave you with that thought. Adam Mintz That's a great thought. I think, Geoffrey, if we leave it at that, I think we've done a good job. And it's amazing that we took it back from Reuven and Gad and we took it to modern politics and some of the some of the real achievements in the State of Israel. That's really nice. idea, a good way to end this conversation about this parsha. Geoffrey Stern Fantastic well, Shabbat Shalom Adam Mintz Shabbat Shalom to everybody. Enjoy the parsha, it's a double parsha. I look forward to next the next week with everybody. Geoffrey Stern Absolutely. Shabbat Shalom.
34 minutes | Jul 3, 2021
Zelophehad’s daughters and Who’s a Jew
Parshat Pinchas - A live recording of Geoffrey Stern and Rabbi Adam Mintz on Clubhouse as we use the intriguing case of the Daughters of Zelophechad to explore Patrilinear and Matrolinear decent in Judaism. Sefaria Source Sheet: www.sefaria.org/sheets/332756 Transcript: Geoffrey Stern Welcome, everybody. This week's portion has a story that is typically referred to as Zelophehad's daughters. And you'd figure because they always called daughters that they don't have names. They don't have identities. But the Bible in Numbers 27 says the daughters of Zelophehad, and it says their names: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. So they did have a name and what they came to Moses for was that they did not have a father. Their father had passed away in the wilderness. And they were worried about the allotment of land in the holy land that was divided up amongst the 12 tribes. And they were worried that since the portion that you received was passed on from father to son, that since their father did not have a son only had five daughters, that their allotment, their inheritance, their legacy would be lost. And they said: "let not our father's name be lost to his clan, just because he has no son." So I'm going to stop right there and ask you, Rabbi, what does this story mean to you? Is it a woman's lib story? Is it a purely transactional story? What does it mean to you? Peter Robins So I mean, on a basic level, it's transactional, of course, just how they divide the land. It's women's lib, but it's also the ability of people standing up to Moses, and saying to Moses, this is not fair. To me, that's even more interesting. Now, the fact that it's women doing it makes it more dramatic in the 21st century. But actually, from our perspective, just the ability to stand up to Moses and to say, Moses, this isn't fair, we deserve to have our share in the land is really an amazing thing. Geoffrey Stern I love the fact that that's the point that you You touched upon, because I started to think to myself, how unique is this situation? And I came up with two other cases, I'd be curious to know whether I missed any but the first case is when Jethro, the father in law of Moses shows up in camp, so to speak, when the Jews get out of Egypt, and there he sees his son in law, Moses adjudicating from early in the morning, to late at night. And he says to him, in Exodus 18, "the thing you are doing is not right, you will surely wear yourself out. And these people as well for the task is too heavy, and you cannot do it alone." So here's a situation where maybe he doesn't confront Moses, maybe Moses doesn't go and say, Well, let me ask the boss. But ultimately, it is also an outsider, if you consider women kind of on the fringe, here this father in law, who's not Jewish, uses his powers of observation, and says this is not sustainable. And the other instance, and this is an instance that we went into in detail is right before the first Passover, when the unclean Israelites came to Moses, and said, How could it be that we will not be able to experience the holiday? And that's when Moses minimally gave them Peach Sheni, a makeup Passover, and maximally adjusted the whole calendar? So my first takeaway from your comment and from this list is, is this the complete list? And two since in each case, God or Moses was so accommodating? I say, isn't it a shame that they didn't come and ask Moses more questions and push him further? Peter Robins Yeah, that's kind of an interesting take on it, is why they stopped there? Geoffrey Stern I mean, it just shows you the power of being engaged. You've got to ask and maybe that's the first lesson that we should learn from the daughters of Zelophehad, that if something doesn't seem fair, something bothers you, go ahead. And if it has to do with Judaism, we have a very receptive religion. God loves to hear from us write Him a note ask him a "Sheaylah" , send in a question. Peter Robins We joke about that, but that actually is what makes this story so sore story so special, the idea that you can actually ask God a question or that Moses has to ask God a question, you know, is something that's so surprising. That's just not the way the rabbinic system works. The rabbinic system is based on the fact that God doesn't really play a role. It's the rabbi's who play the role. But here we have God being an integral part of making this decision. Geoffrey Stern Absolutely. The other thing that occurred to me is that all of these three instances have something in common. Unlike Korach, who was splitting hairs and making an argument, these three instances seem to have in common that they are arguments from sustainability. The argument is, this is not going to last, this is not a practice that can continue over time. So whether it's the daughters of Zelophehad, who said, you know, we've just kind of revealed a crack in the system. If this will continue. It's it's not even about us. It's about keeping the integrity of the tribal allotment. In the case of the Passover. It was a question, in my mind, a big question about the Hebrew calendar, and how does one fix it and in the case of setting up a court system, clearly, that was something that was again, I think Jethro says it the clearest when he says, This can't go on. And so I'm wondering what what you anyone in the audience thinks about this question of sustainability. In other words, if we have a practice, I've brought this subject up before, for instance, the the, the issue of taking interest on a loan, it might work in some societies, but an agrarian society where you have to buy your crops and your seeds and stuff like that. It just wasn't sustainable. And and even though the Bible rants against it, the rabbi's went ahead, and they created a loophole. And so I'm wondering what can we learn from this about changing the law, modifying and modulating our practice, based on the argument that if we continue at this rate, we won't continue to exist, that we'll be throwing out maybe the baby with the bathwater. Peter Robins I mean, sustainability is an interesting idea generally, how the Torah deals with with sustainability? I mean, are you talking about sustainability in terms of fairness of law, or you're talking about it in terms of dividing the property? Geoffrey Stern Well, I mean, again, Jethro says it the best, you know, he says, that, if you continue doing this, you wear yourself out and the people as well, the task is too heavy for you, you cannot do it. So I'm not talking about sustainability and a fairness mode. And I'm certainly not talking about it in an ecological way. What I'm talking about is an institution, a custom, a practice a law, that if one continues doing it, life will cease as we know it. Other issues, the case of interest where either the farmers will not be able to run their businesses, or they'll be forced to break the law. In the case of Zelophehad's daughter, as you point out, the whole integrity of the tribal system, and the allocation will not last. So you have a choice, either you say, Well, this is the way it's written. And we'll have to give up on this sense of having the allocation for each tribe. The point is, you can't have it both.... it's a catch 22 it's, it's a social institution that cannot persevere, it cannot continue. going in the direction that it's going. It's not practical. Maybe it's an argument from practicality that I'm trying to say, Peter Robins yeah, maybe the word is practicality rather than sustainability. Geoffrey Stern So is there is there something there there? I brought the example of taking interest but are there other instances? I've brought up this concept of "Tircha D'Tzibur" (incoveiencing the community) or "gezera she lo hakehilah yachol l'amod bo" , there are there are rules that are given that if the determination is made. It's too difficult. It's too stark. We can't go on this way. Is that more widespread in the development of Jewish law in your mind? Peter Robins I think that that's a very important idea in Jewish law, the idea that people can't handle it, you can't Institute such a law is a very important principle in Judaism. That's what you call practicality and sustainability, if the system is not sustainable, because the people just can't rise to the occasion, you know, Geoffrey, take the simplest example, you know, in, in the diaspora, for whatever reason, we have two days of every holiday, except for Yom Kippur. Why don't we have two days of Yom Kippur? It's because it's not sustainable. People can't fast for two days of Yom Kippur. Right? That's a perfect example. We should have two days of Yom Kippur, but it's not practical. The system couldn't, can't survive that way. Geoffrey Stern Yeah, I think that's a wonderful example. It's kind of where the, the rubber hits the road, so to speak. And it makes you wonder, and again, you know, this is it. This is a question that people will have to use nuance for, when when does it become something that is too difficult? You know, clearly, if you have a rule that maybe was fine in the past, but people are finding too difficult. That's another question, can something become unsustainable? I see that Peter Robins is here. So Peter, you are on the stage. And I'd love to hear your opinion. Peter Robins I think you're going down a slippery slope. Where it is mutability, sustainability, and slippery slope are intermingled. And I give kudos to your definition of rigid laws being changed, because they're not sustainable. But I start out by asking the question, if you ask God a question, how do you know what the response is and where I end up is? That your conscience becomes the response? The question of sustainable and immutability, though, is a slippery slope. And I just wonder how diluted the tenants become when they become changed? Geoffrey Stern I think you're asking two questions. And they're two great questions. You know, the easier question is, how do you know that it's God speaking? Is this just a ruse? Is this just a face saving technique that can be used? And when can it be used? Does it disappear with the end of prophecy? Or is there a statute of limitations? I think that's a great question. And and of course, the slippery slope, part of it, is the question of used and abused, you know, who decides, and at what point do Jews come and say, you know, walking to Shul is not sustainable. We used to live in urban areas, or we used to live before the car and the highway, and now we're spread out. And, you know, can we ride to shul? And of course, I think there are movements within Judaism that have argued that that's precisely where one has to use a an argument like this, but clearly, it is a slippery slope, especially if you're an orthodox rabbi. So Adam, what what do what is your response? Peter Robins I mean, slippery slope is a tricky business. You know, I understand what Peter is saying, you know, you have to be able to draw lines, but you also need to have flexibility. If you don't have flexibility in the system, then the system is going to fall apart. So you talk about walking to shul. You know, the Conservative movement in 1960 decided that the movement was not going to survive, unless they allowed for driving to shul on Shabbat. 60 years later, they now write and they say that the Conservative movement made a mistake, that they lost community and orthodoxy maintained community because people had to live close by. The Conservative lost community there. So they made a mistake in the sense of figuring out the slippery slope, or whether it was practical. And I think that's so interesting that that's the consideration. That's what we think about now. Did they go too far? Did they fall down that slippery slope? What do you think Geoffrey, did you think the Conservative movement fell down that slippery slope? Geoffrey Stern Well, I do think that, in addition to being a slippery slope, there is the issue of unintended consequences. And I think that there is no question that if one was to make a determination, that riding to synagogue is a necessary evil, one would have to do it with their eyes wide open. And when I say that, I mean, that clearly the optimal situation is that maybe we have smaller synagogues that people even in a suburban or rural area, can live closer to, and if you are too far away to walk, you start another synagogue. And I do think that that is a solution that is, is very positive. So there are alternative solutions to every problem. And definitely, one needs to think but I think my answer to you is, sometimes you need an experiment like that. In other words, you cannot always know what the unintended consequences are. And so you need to be flexible enough to try something and then have the self confidence to admit when a mistake was made. Peter Robins That's a big deal, Geoffrey, that's not so easy for people, you know, to admit mistakes, is hard. Geoffrey Stern Especially if you're in the God business, I guess. Peter Robins I guess that's right. Peter, what do you want to say? Yeah, Geoffrey and rabbi, I think that slippery slope is I think, harsh. My takeaway from the conversation between and among the two of you, is that survival of the religion and its people, trumps any type of rigidity, that morphing into adaptability becomes the imperative. Geoffrey Stern I think maybe it's more of an art than a science. And I do think that the takeaway for me is that you have to ask, you have to speak up, no matter how, what position in the society you hold. You don't have to be a leader, you can be a woman, you can be on the periphery, you can be well meaning non Jew, you can be someone who's quote, unquote "unclean". That's the takeaway to me, and that you need to be flexible and try. And if there's a mistake that gets made, I think that you just have to have the self confidence to admit it. I do think, though, that if we're going to talk about something that is very meaningful, and relates very much to the ability of the Jewish people to survive, we have a another direction that we can go in our discussion today, in terms of the daughters of Zelophehad. And the direction that I want to take us in, is this is the first instance of women arguing for a matrilineal society, meaning to say the assumption of these daughters was that they lived in a patrilineal society, and their father died, and there was not going to be any inheritance to them. And his name would no longer go on, and that you certainly couldn't pass on his tribal affiliation through them. And I know the traditional answer will be, well, whether you are Cohen, Levi or Yisrael goes through your father, but whether you're Jewish, goes through your mother. And what I would love to spend the rest of our afternoon discussing is the fact that that's not altogether clear, number one, and number two, that you could make a case that this is the only instance that we see in biblical Judaism and Torah Judaism, that women were given some ability under certain circumstance to be able to exercise a matrilineal descent. And I'd like to quote a Mishnah. And, of course, the Mishnah is First / Second century, so many, many years after this instance (of the daughters of Zelophehad). And again, you'll hear in the in the Mishnah, that matrilineal descent is only for certain circumstances. So the Mishnah says as follows "Every place that there is a Kidushin (marriage) , and there is no sin, the child goes after the male. And it goes ahead, and it gives many examples..... the ones that I just gave where the father is a Cohen, where the father is a Levite, so forth and so on. And then it goes on to say, however, in a case where there is a sin, whether it's a question of a Cohen, who's not allowed to marry a divorced woman, or a widow, or someone who marries somebody who's a Gibonite. it makes a whole long list. And at the end of the list, it says, that "this one who engages with forbidden intercourse, according to the Torah and cannot join in marriage with that person. In that situation, the child goes after the mother." So if you if you hold in your mind, the situation of Zelophehad's daughters where they were in a situation where it could not continue through that the males. So it had to be tweaked to go through the females, (and of course, this is not the place to have a very deep textual understanding of the text). But what the text actually is saying that any case where the Kiddushin the marriage cannot be fulfilled, such as marriage with a non Jew, in that case, the child goes after the mother. And so this is absolutely radical for us, because we seem to believe that in every instance Judaism goes through the mother, where the Mishnah is saying that similar to the case of Zelophehad's daughter that was an exception with extenuating circumstances. So too Matrolinear descent, is based on extenuating circumstance. And now I'll paint it in much more social context. A girl gets raped. And she's not accepted by the the Canaanites or whatever. And rather than have her not affiliated with anybody, the Rabbis say your child is yours, and it's Jewish. And that, to me is the clear reading of this text. So rabbi, what is your sense of the history of this unquestionable belief that we seem to have that Judaism in all cases goes after the mother? Adam Mintz Yeah, so that is of course, fascinating. Now, you have to believe that the reason for matrilineal descent goes back Geoffrey is something you said at the beginning. And that is about being practical. And that is you always know who the mother is, you don't always know who the father is. Right? That's a very important consideration. So if you had to determine what the lineage is, I know what the lineage to the mother is. I don't necessarily know what the lineage who the father is. So therefore, the default seems to be that you go through the mother matrilineal rather than patrilineal. descent. Geoffrey Stern So I think that that's an explanation that I've heard before, and clearly, correct me if I'm wrong, but when somebody is, God forbid, sick, and we make a prayer for them for the reason that you just raised we say it after the mother because we know who the mother is. So there's no question that there was a strong basis for your argument. Alternatively, you cannot say that passing on one's tribal affiliation is meaningless. So, if in fact, we are willing to overlook this surety that we get from the mother when it comes to all sorts of things inheritance law, tribal affiliation, one could ask, why was there this disconnect for being Jewish? And of course, you could argue, well your religion is much more important. But I would argue that while it's a good argument that you're making, it's clear from this text, that When the rabbi's instituted this situation or instance of matrilineal descent, it was for this specific instance. And I just want to say that when I grew up and the Reform movement came out, and said that they were willing to accept patrilineal descent meaning to say that in Reformed Judaism, I think I'm correct in saying that whether your father is Jewish or your mother is Jewish, if one of the parents is Jewish, the kid is Jewish. We all went up in arms, we said that they were going to rip Judaism apart, and so forth and so on. It was a higher bar then when they said, you know, maybe you can light a fire on Shabbat or something. When I did some research, I found and it blew me away that the Reform movement actually wrote a traditional responsa. And in their responsa, they quoted the piece of Mishnah that I just said, and one other, and they said, "the report offers a sociological interpretation of the reason for matrilineal descent. In illicit unions, the woman with a child had no recourse but to return to her own people." So it's amazing to me, number one, I have to give credit to the Reform movement for actually going to the trouble of writing a traditional responsa. But I also believe that they were saying something that, just as the case of Zelophehad's daughters, a social situation prompted us prompted God prompted Moses his spokesman to make a change. In the case of matrilineal descent, it was a beautiful thing, and it stayed. But it somehow totally eclipsed, the more natural, the more widespread patrilineal descent and I was a member of Rabbi Riskin's, synagogue, Lincoln Square at that time, and I remember and I've googled articles that he wrote against these Reform rabbis. Fast forward 30 years, Rabbi Riskin is now living in Israel. And an Israeli soldier whose parents came from the Soviet Union, was tragically killed in battle. And his name was Lev Pascale. And he died in the Lebanon War. And he was about to be buried in the military cemetery, which is a Jewish cemetery. And all of a sudden, the military rabbi said no, his mother was not Jewish, he cannot be buried. And unlike a situation that might have occurred like this, in any other town or instance, in Israel, when it came out to the public, the public universally around Israel said here is a man, a young boy who gave his life for the State of Israel. And you are trying to deny him the the ability to be buried in the military cemetery. And at that point, rabbis, such as Rabbi Riskin, started to delve into the texts, and lo and behold, they started to come up with arguments that there is something to patrilineal descent, I'm going to stop before I actually start bringing some of the arguments. But rabbi, where were you in this in this argument? Is this something that is dynamic at this point, is this is there some movement here? Adam Mintz So I mean, that story that Rabbi Riskin story is a very powerful story. I mean, I think the answer is, is it dynamics? The answer is, yes, it's dynamic. But I wanted to go back, Geoffrey, to how you started. And you said that when you were a member of Lincoln Square Synagogue, and the Reform movement said that they accept either patrilineal or matrilineal descent that everybody was up in arms. The reason they were up in arms is because they were afraid that all of a sudden, we were defining Judaism differently for different groups of people means you could be Reformly Jewish, but not Conservative or Orthodox Jewish, and they became very much afraid of that. That at the very least the definition of what it means to be Jewish needs to be standard for everybody. So I think that even though of course, what Rabbi Riskin found out and the fact that there is room for patrilineal descent, but I think the idea that when you go out on a date, you have to wonder, are you Jewish, according to the Reform movement, Jewish according to the Conservative movement, or Jewish according to the Orthodox movement, I think makes it complicated. Doesn't mean it's impossible, and maybe long term. American diaspora Judaism is gonna have to address these issues, because these are the issues that have to be talked about by everybody. Because we can't have a situation where you're Jewish for one and not Jewish for another. Peter Robins Can I ask a question here? Geoffrey Stern Of course, Peter Robins what is the definition of a Jew under the Law of Return? Geoffrey Stern I believe it's one grandparent. And I'll go further than that, and say that the State of Israel took the same law as l'havdil eleph havadlot, Hitler took. Hitler would kill you if you had one Jewish grandparent. And I don't know if there's a connection or not, but the State of Israel would accept you if you have one Jewish grandparent. Peter Robins Why wouldn't the religion take the same point of view? Geoffrey Stern Well, because the religion Church and State in Israel are divided and close at the same time. And of course, the religion follows the halakhic, the legal thinking, and one has to formulate a legal argument. So we only have a few more minutes. Let me just tell you what Rabbi Riskin came up with, he found that the first Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, made the following ruling. He said, if your father is Jewish, and your mother is not, you can't look at that person the way you would look at someone who had no connection to Judaism at all. And when that person decides to come back, "Hozer haYeled l'ikar zaro" that child is coming back .... he's coming home. And so unlike when someone converts, they have to go through all these classes. And they have to agree to accept all the laws and all of that. This rabbi said, it's different. And of course, Rabbi Riskin said, and that is the way it should be in Israel for a soldier, but it doesn't work in the diaspora. The point that I'm trying to make is, this is an area like any area in Judaism, that you can ask questions, and you can get surprising answers. And I think that, ultimately, is the lesson that we have to learn from the daughters of Zelophehad. And more to the point we don't ask just intellectual questions, but questions that affect people's lives. And I think in with regard to intermarriage, clearly, in terms of American Jews, the new Pew study came out. And if you take away the Orthodox community, 75% of the Jewish community is now inter-marrying. But more than a point, more than 50% of them are raising their children in some level of Judaism. So I think in terms of sustainability of our people, but also the human issue, the social issue we are entitled to ask these questions, to have these discussions, and to know that there is never a black and white answer, and that is my takeaway from the Zelophehad. Adam Mintz Thank you. That was really a very good takeaway. I thought this was a great conversation. Thank you, Geoffrey, something to think about for all of us. Shabbat Shalom, everybody. Happy July 4th. I look forward to seeing everybody next week. Geoffrey Stern You got it ... Shabbat Shalom. Thanks for joining.
32 minutes | Jun 27, 2021
Wonder of Wonders, Miracles of Miracles - God made a Donkey Talk
Join Geoffrey Stern and Rabbi Adam Mintz recorded on Clubhouse Friday June 25th as they identify the miracle of the Talking Ass as a singular gratuitous miracle which serves as neither a sign or lesson, punishes the wicked or provides a victory to the children of Israel. We use this as an excuse to explore the refreshingly ambivalent attitude of the Torah and Rabbinic Judaism to miracles. Link to Sefaria Source Sheet here: www.sefaria.org/sheets/331556 Transcript: Geoffrey Stern Welcome to Madlik on clubhouse every Friday at four Eastern. This week's parsha is Balak, which is about a Moabite king who looks out into the desert and sees the children of Israel on their way about to cross over his country on the way to the promised land. And he is concerned he's scared. The actual word that is used for him being scared is "vayagar", which is interesting, because it's the same root as the word for stranger. But fear of the stranger we'll leave for another time. What interests me today is that he sent out some messengers to hire a Moabite prophet named Balaam. And the messengers go to this Balaam and ask him to curse the Jewish people. And Balaam says, Well, I have to sleep on it. And he truly speaks to the Lord our God that night. And the Lord says, You can't curse these people, they are blessed. And he goes back and forth with these messengers, and they offer him more and more money. So he takes another night. And finally he cajoled the Lord into letting him go to at least meet with the King Balak. And on the way there, he's riding his donkey, and his donkey sees an angel at the end of the road, maybe they were on a bridge. And much like the story of the Black Beauty, the donkey turns to the side, and Bilaam whips the donkey. The donkey sees the angel again turns to the other side, this time he scrapes the leg of Bilaam. And now Bilaam is really angry and hits her again. And finally "the Lord opened the ass's mouth. And she said to Balaam, what have I done to you that you have beaten me these three times? Balaam says to the ass, you have made a mockery of me. If I had a sword with me, I'd kill you. And the ass said to Balaam Look, I am the ass that you have been riding all along until this day, have I been in the habit of doing this to you? And he answered No." And so we have a story of a donkey talking. And what is remarkable to me is that it's just part of the story. Bilaam doesn't doesn't say: "Wow, I didn't know that you could talk" he responds to the donkey. And so I'd like to use this as an opportunity to understand and to explore the function, the place, the value of miracles, in religion in general, and in the Jewish and ancient Isralite traditions in particular. And we will explore all the different variations of miracles that appear in the in the text. But to me, this is striking in just kind of being gratuitous. Being there, for no good reason could have been the angel himself talking to Bilaam. So the question that I raise is what is the function of the donkey in this story. And then in general, what is the place of the miraculous in Judaism Adam Mintz The Torah is full of miracles, the receiving of the Torah, the splitting of the Red Sea and the 10 plagues. What's interesting is talking animals. The only other talking animal, that we have is the snake at the beginning of the Torah, where the snake talks to Eve. And it's fadinating to compare the snake talking to Eve to the donkey, talking to Bilaam. First of all, it's interesting about the choice of animals. Now I'm not an animal person. So to me, all animals are the same. So I don't know why in one case, you choose to snake and in the other case you choose a donkey, just choose one animal so I don't understand why there's a different type of animal. But look at the first case of the animal speaking, the snake tries to trick Eve. The second time, the donkey actually tells the truth to Bilaam. What's the purpose of the animal speaking, both to trick Eve and to tell the truth to Bilaam. I find that to be an interesting question. Geoffrey Stern I like your comparison. I would like to kind of broaden the question not so much of animals speaking, but of nature being changed of breaking the rules of nature. But I do think that even if you look at it from that point of view, there are different types of miracles that we see in the Bible. There are miraculous salvations, the splitting of the sea of Reeds. Clearly, when this small band of Jews wins a battle, that's a miracle. But it's a functional miracle. And there are other miracles that we'll explore today. But to me, what strikes me about maybe both of these miracles, besides the fact that there are animals talking is it almost seems like it's gratuitous? You know, you sometimes you see a movie, and you say, you know, they didn't need that sex scene, it was a gratuitous sex scene. In this case, I don't think you really needed the donkey to talk, I think that maybe the angel could have spoken. It almost doesn't seem to be inherent in the story in the case of the snake. So the snake really was tempting Eve. And of course, this was very early on, in the kind of the segmentation of the animal world and the human world. So you can even make a case that maybe the snake sheds its skin, so it's immortal, or it was immortal in the old world. Oreven better yet. Let me try this distinction between the snake and the donkey. This snake could very easily be associated with Satan. And the donkey, as you said, was speaking from a good place, from God. It doesn't surprise us. If Satan goes.... the evil in the world goes and breaks the rules. But the question of why this donkey spoke of why we needed it to speak. And is it unique from that point of view, from our point of view of gratuitous miracles, if you will? What do you do about that distinction? Adam Mintz That's a great question. So the snake has a job, because the snake is there to trick Eve. And maybe you needed something out of the ordinary, to trick Eve. She wasn't going to be tricked in a normal way. But what role did the donkey play? Actually, Geoffrey, you can ask in a more basic question, just in the story of this week's parsha. What role does the donkey play? If you were to delete the word donkey, would it change the story at all? Geoffrey Stern I totally agree. And that's why I you can call it superfluous. You can call it gratuitous. And it doesn't even seem to get the reaction one would expect. Bilaam doesn't say oh, my God, a talking donkey! He just answers it. He says you've made a fool of me. Like he talks to donkeys every day. So I want to suggest that this is not strange only to us. There is a passage in Pirke Avot (The Ethics of the Fathers) that talks about 10 things being created on the eve of the first Shabbat right after creation had been finished, at twilight, Ben Hashmashot. And it lists a bunch of miracles. It says the mouth of the earth which I assume is a relationship to Korach, the mouth of the well. The mouth of the donkey which is a clear association with the the donkey in our story. The rainbow the manna, the staff of Moses, I guess when he was in front of the magicians in Egypt. And the bottom line of it is this mishnah in Avot. First, 2nd, 3rd Century AD has a problem with miracles. And what it is ultimately saying unless I'm reading it wrong, is that every time one of these miracles happened, it's almost like an algorithm or a hack written into creation. So that donkeys did not speak. But somehow they threw a little piece of code into the donkey heritage that at that moment on that bridge that donkey was going to speak and it's far fetched, but what's not far fetched is they're clear unhappiness and unwillingness to accept that the rules of nature change. And what makes that remarkable to me is, these are rabbis, these are members of a religion, and is not religion based on breaking the laws of nature on a higher authority ..... on miracles? To me, this bias against changing the world and for nature, and the rules of nature is very impressive. What's your read of this Mishnah? Adam Mintz I think I want to take it back for a minute. It says here that these things were created Ben Hashmashot. What do you make of that? They were created in the last moments of Friday? It's almost as if they're not part of the normal creation. They were snuck in at the last minute when nobody was looking. Right? That's the first question you have to ask. It's telling you that they don't quite fit into nature. But what is the idea of Ben Hashmashot? Geoffrey Stern To me, it's, as you say, the code was written, the the product was created. And somebody in this case God threw in a few secret back, (if I was a programmer, I would know the right word). But back codes, that at the precise moment that they were necessary, they would do what was needed to be done. But ultimately, it was pre ordained, it almost smells like either God cannot or will not make changes in the laws of nature besides these 10 or 11 changes. That to me is what is impressive, but the hashmashot, the Twilight part of it is, this is a fuzzy area. This is whether it's an afterthought, or a little tweak, or Twinkle, I don't know. Adam Mintz Good. I think that that's good. But I think that what we're actually doing Geoffrey, logging up all of the oddities of this talking donkey. When he was created, what he did, how was he different than the snake? Right? And it's all gratuitous. It's not necessary. So not only does the Torah make a big fuss about something that doesn't need such a big fuss, but the rabbi's seem to make a big fuss about something that doesn't need such a big fuss does not interest you also? Geoffrey Stern Well, well, it does. I mean, it's hard to say that the Manna was gratuitous. So I don't think that they are lined up necessarily against gratuitous stuff. But what they are saying is it's a very strong, I would say, an powerful expression of the rabbi's dedication and commitment to the laws of nature, that we do not live in an arbitrary world where either God or other spiritual forces can play with it. And I think that you could actually make a case that this kind of general approach, which I would love to characterized as being either neutral towards miracles, or almost anti miracles, led to great scientists coming out of our tradition, such as my Mainmonides, who clearly picks up on this discussion in many of his writings. Who believes that there is a science out there, there are laws of physics and laws of chemistry and all that, it's not arbitrary. It's like Einstein said, "God does not play dice with the universe". So that's on a scientific level. But even on a spiritual level, it seems to me they didn't get a rise from the miraculous. And in fact, they had to go out of their way to come up with this theory, to downplay the miraculous and from a spiritual community and from a 2000 plus year old religion, whether now but certainly in the past where we lived in a magical world and there was magical thinking and many times it was associated with religion, they didn't seem to buy into it, and that's what strikes me as so interesting. Adam Mintz Good, I like that. I like that connection to Maimonides. This is really the clash between miracles and science. This is how you started when you asked me, are there miracles? And the answer is, yes, there are miracles. But how do you explain miracles in the light of science? Now, Geoffrey, when you talk about miracles? Would you say that this story of the talking donkey is like the splitting of the sea? Geoffrey Stern So I think not. And that's why I said, I find the story of the talking donkey unique because it's gratuitous....I was going to kind of parse different types of miracles that are in the Torah, you know, they say that Eskimos have 100 words for snow. Well, it seems to me the rabbi's have a bunch of words for the miraculous. There's a word called an "Ote" a sign. But again, it's not gratuitous, because we call Shabbat, an "Ote" a sign We call Tephilin, an "Ote" that you put on your arms. And from that perspective, where it was a change that caught your attention, the change was not significant because of the change, it was significant because it was a symbol, it was a sign. Another word that's used is a "Mofet" and that goes more in terms of things that are changes in nature, like the 10 plagues, like the splitting of the Red Sea, that inflicted God's wrath or power on sinners, I guess you could include with that. Even Korach, although we're going to get a second to the word use there (Nes). But again, these were very practical, and they didn't necessarily have to be impossible, they might have been improbable. This splitting of the Red Sea is is something that was miraculous because it came at the right time, at the right instant, but it could be explained. All of the magicians were able to explain everything that Moses did with the staff, which was included in our list. So besides "Mofet" and "Ote". The other one is "nes", which is I think a common word for miracles. Adam Mintz But what does the word "nes" mean? "Nes" is like a flag a marker. Geoffrey Stern It is but if you recall, when God tested Abraham before the the sacrifice of Isaac before the Akeda, it said "v'Hashem Nisa et Avraham", he tested him and Nachmanidies explains that it is a flag it is something that rises up, but it's also a test. In other words, it's an opportunity for us to reveal our strength or power, our perseverance. And there were more words for miracles and we'll get to them in a second. But for these most common words are symbolic, as much as they are changing nature. They are morally, ethically, spiritually edifying in case of testing Abraham, and being able to survive the test. So, again, I do think there is an issue of a gratuitous miracle. And the funny thing here is that it doesn't even refer to Bilaam's donkey talking as a miracle. It's so funny that it just kind of puts it into the narrative without making any changes. But again, if we're using this as an excuse to explore the biblical version of miracles, it too says with the rabbies, I think, very little value for gratuitous miracles. There's no point just impressing people, by changing nature and saying up there must be a god there must be a spiritual element. The changes in nature are either to protect, to defend, to punish or to edify and to serve as a symbol. Adam Mintz Okay, all this is great. Now, I have another question. What do you make about the fact that the Donkey spoke with non Jewish prophet? You think that's significance? Of all the all the ways to use the donkey? Isn't it a funny way to use the donkey? Geoffrey Stern I think it's beautiful that the prophetic power of Bilaam the Prophet is also taken for granted. And that teaches me that God speaks to all people. Why in this particular instance, was there a use of a donkey? I don't have an answer for you. What I'm more impressed with is that Bilaam is without any explanation, understood that he can go to bed at night and speak to our Lord, which is his Lord. But I don't have an answer about the donkey being used to speak to him in particular. Adam Mintz Now, Michael, I think has jumped up as a speaker. Geoffrey Stern which we will always welcome. Michael Posnik A question, What does Bilaam learn from that moment? when nature is upside down? What does he actually learn when everything he wants to do? According to his plan and his desires and strategies? What does he learn from something that is completely incomprehensible to him? What changes does that bring about in him? Geoffrey Stern If you read the text, his answer to the donkey is the only insight that we get. And what he says is you have made a mockery of me. And this is a parallel with the story of Black Beauty, the horse that saves the life of the rider. These horses and animals that save us, they all seem to get punished. But in this particular case, Bilaam is embarrassed. It almost seems as though he has this ability to be a prophet. He wanted to exploit it for money. He literally wants to do what he's asked to do, but he can't. And now he's embarrassed. And I think it gives us an insight into him. He's not our typical vision of a prophet in terms of being a pure person. He seems to be someone who can tap into these powers, and is able to exploit them. Rabbi what's your feeling? Adam Mintz I think Michael, I think you've identified a problem in this text, meaning what is the significance of that piece of the story? I just want to turn it and take some of what Geoffrey said, and some what Michael said. And I want to just pull back a minute, Geoffrey, to what you started with, about miracles. And I want to know where you think this miracle of the donkey speaking, falls in the Torah's kind of List of miracles? Is this a big miracle? Is this kind of, beside the point miracle? You called it gratuitous? That's something else. That has to do with the fact that it's unnecessary? What about in terms of like, changes of nature? Do you think having an animal talk is as big a miracle as splitting of the Read Sea? Geoffrey Stern So we're where I'm going, in my mind with this is using the donkey who is for better or worse, a universal symbol of a lowly creature, a creature of labor, a creature that gets no respect a cousin of a horse who is is a beautiful creature. And that kind of is is echoed in Bilaam's comment. You're embarrassing me, you know, maybe if you were a lion or something with more stature. We have to assume the donkey was picked with intentionality. And I think that the message that the donkey is sending, therefore, is very also humble, and down to earth. And I guess I promised that I wouldn't leave everybody in a cliffhanger as to how the whole story turns out. But I do at this point want to say that Bilaam ultimately, his arm is twisted, and he has to deliver some sort of blessing or curse and it turns out to be a blessing. So the blessing that he gives is in every synagogue as you walk in, it's "MaTovu Ohalicha Yaakov, Mishkenotecha Yisrael" "How goodly basically are the tents of Israel, which, again, a tent is as humble a life, pastoral nomadic life as you could ever have. And to me, the whole story is a celebration of the simple things in life if you want to be trite, it's helping us recognize that there's a miracle in the most simple things. So that to me kind of ties together why a donkey was used in this particular situation, and what the takeaway was either from Bilaam or from God through the mouth of Bilaam. Orna, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Orna Stern The voice of God that was talking through the donkey because the same way whenever God wants to speak to us and he speaks through animals.... the snake and they are all lowly animals .... the humbleness of God that he talks to us. The message from the snake was beautiful message because that Adam and Eve should leave Gan Eden to go explore the world. And then Moses that he spoke to Pharoah also through the snake. And every miracle that happended like Isaac. The ram that was caught in the tree. It'a all about animals .. the voice of God. The message is so beautiful. It's also for nowadays. "Shevet Achim gam Yachad" We all need to love each other, to respect each other everywhere in this country oin Israel. With anti-semitism and everything. Adam Mintz I just want to say Geoffrey, I think it's important to say that, you know, given what happened in Florida this week (A collapse of a 12 story building with 150 souls killed), you think about "Ma tovu Ohalecha Yaakov" the blessing is the most simple thing. Where we live is the most simple thing. But we rely on it. And you see what terrible things can happen in even in the most simple thing that we have. Geoffrey Stern Absolutely. You see the images of, of children talking about their parents or grandparents or parents talking about their children. It's it's really just harrowing how this building was pancaked down into rubble. But it does remind you that in the structures that we live our lives and those lives are based relationships. And what I was thinking in terms of this kind of takeaway, in terms of ultimately Bilaam could have been used as a mouthpiece to give any message, but ultimately, the blessing that he gave related to just the simple community of these Bedouin/nomadic Jews in the desert. So I was thinking of another type of statement in the Talmud, I think I might have even quoted it before, where a woman matriarch asks a rabbi, "After God created the world", and I don't give her credit for knowing this, but not only created the world during the seven days of creation, but even during that Twilight period, after you did it all. "What do you do with yourself? Because she obviously understood that God is not changing nature on a regular basis. And the answer for those of you who know the stories is wonderful. And it says that God is making matches "Misadech Sheduchim" he is joining people together. And it's a wonderful story, and it goes on. But it reminded me of this song in Fiddler "Miracles of Miracles, Wonders of Wonders". And if you remember the lyrics to that song, it almost is identical "It says wonders of wonders miracles of miracles, God took a Daniel once again, stood by his side and miracle of miracles, walked him through the lions dead. And it goes down through the walls of Jericho, and it talks about the Red Sea splitting and it talks about every little miracle or large miracle that God did. But he says "but the most miraculous one of all, is that out of a worthless lump of clay. God has made a man of me today" My dad gave me a book called Wonders of Wonders by a Columbia professor. And it talks about everything that went into writing the play. And so I did a little research. And I looked for, were they aware of this midrash that God is misadech shiduchim. And I was surprised that the writers of most of the lyrics were Jews, but were very remote from the Jewish background. And literally, they came up with an idea of miracles. And according to this book, they were in a motel, and they grabbed the Gideon's Bible, and they started looking for miracles to put into lyrics. But to me, they were spot on. And maybe it's because this idea we Jews have that the real miracles in life relate to human beings, to the ability of us to find connections with each other, for the abilities of us to have hope when there should be no hope. Those are the true miracles. And to me, that's what Ma Tovu Ohalecha Yaakov is all about. Adam Mintz That's really nice. I like that as an ending. I think that's a beautiful way to end a discussion. You said it was a little light today. I think talking about miracles is not light at all. I think there's a lot of real good substance in here. Geoffrey Stern Well, thank you for that. I agree. And I think that the the donkey certainly got his money's worth today, because he triggered this wonderful conversation.
33 minutes | Jun 20, 2021
Salvation through Death - Breaking the Cycle
The Red Heifer purifies the defiled and defiles the pure and is universally taken as a commandment that defies reason and logic. According to science, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction so where's the illogic? Even according to Rabbinic scholars such as Saadia Gaon and modern scholars such as Jacob Milgrom there is nothing unreasonable about this enigma. So why is the ḥoq of the Red Heifer so troubling. Why does it keep God up at night? Sefaria Source Sheet: www.sefaria.org/sheets/330146 Transcript: Geoffrey Stern So welcome, one and all, to Madlik, another week of disruptive Torah. And this week the parsha is parshat Chukat, which we're going to find out what it means but Chukat is "the law". And the law that is under discussion is the law of the red heifer. And those of you who know your Old Testament know that the laws of purity are a big feature of biblical Judaism, temple Judaism, and those laws of purity relate mostly to impurity that is gotten from death or anything to do with death. And the red heifer is, as we are told in Numbers, 19 is the antidote. And what what happens is the priest takes this pure red heifer that has never carried a yoke and slaughters it, and sprinkles the blood and then mixes the ashes, with some water and hissop and cedar wood, in Crimson stuff. And then it is set aside and used to sprinkle miraculously, on those people who have come into contact with death. And that should be a pretty straightforward thing. It might sound very strange to us moderns but many things in the temple in terms of a sacrificial cult sounds strange. But for some reason, and that's what the subject matter of today is, this one is singled out as being stranger than strange. And therefore, the focus is on the word that God says, numbers 19:2 this is the ritual law that the Lord has commanded zote chukat hatorah, and all of the commentators and we are going to struggle with the fact that the the sense, this is a strange Chok. This is the showcase, the poster child of a law that has no rationale, in fact, is a irrational. And you have to obey, because God commanded it. And I should add the key point that the Cohen who goes ahead and prepares the sacrifice of the red heifer, and his helpmate, who cleans his garments, anybody involved in the preparation of this elixir, who is going to take away the impurity of death, himself becomes impure. And so I'm going to open it up to discussion. Rabbi, what about this struck all of the commentators as so strange that it had to be singled out as an example of a law that has no logic? Adam Mintz So that that is such an interesting question, the idea of a chok, of a law that has no logic, the idea that the same thing that makes people pure, make people impure, I think really bothered the rabbi's. They could not get their arms around that. Because basically, purity and impurity are opposites. So how was it possible that the very same thing that can make you pure can also make you impure? I think that really bothered the rabbis. And I think that that's what led them to call this thing of Chok. By the way, the word Chioke in the Torah doesn't always mean something that you can't understand. Sometimes it just means a law. So Para Aduma the red heifer is really a unique situation, a unique case. And it's this idea, this kind of confusion between purity and impurity. And I think that's a key term, the idea of confusion. Geoffrey Stern So first of all, I mean, I love the fact that you talk about a confusion, but what came to my mind and I wasn't actually even going to talk about this is isn't there a fine line between the profane and the pure. In other words, whether we've talked about it before the pride of following God's laws and the pride in oneself, you know, a harlto a temple harlot is called the Kadesha which comes from the same word as Kadosh. I mean, you could you could say, well, doesn't this happen all the time that something that is close to pure doesn't quite make it actually becomes profane. But if we look at the commentators like Rashi is the first one, he doesn't seem to imply that it was troubling so much to the rabbi's, as it was to our detractors. He says, Because Satan and the nations of the world taunt Israel saying, What is this commandment? And what reason is there for it? On this account, we say it's a Chok that God using the word Choke, all the commentary say it's also something that you kind of niche into stone you Chok Chaakti? I have kind of carved this this rule. It's not for you to question. But do you think there's an aspect of this that isn't so much that it was troubling to the rabbis, as it was troubling, or it was a it was a point of polemical discussion where people would come to the Jews? And say, this thing is so strange, your religion makes no sense. Adam Mintz I'm thinking about that for a minute. You think that maybe we're worried about what other people will say about us? Do you think that generally, Torah is worried about what other people will say about us? You know, Geoffrey Stern You wouldn't think so. Adam Mintz I'm surprised that you suggested that because I wouldn't have thought so. Geoffrey Stern So, I mean, if you look at bamidbar rabbah, which is another source in the source sheet, it says a Gentile asked Rabbi Yohanan Ben zakkai. These rituals you do they seem like witchcraft, you bring a heifer burn it, take it's ashes. And if you read that whole thing, his thing is not so much that something that is impure becomes pure and defiles the the person who's doing it, he seems to be bothered by sprinkling some water and puff, you're instantaneously pure. So there were two instances in the commentaries. Both of them have this polemical aspect to it. And that's why I don't think I came up with it on my own. I was struck by that myself, when I was looking at the sources, and before I let you respond, do the rabbi's care what the nation say? I think, yes, there's a verse in Deuteronomy that says "Ki hi Chochmatchem ubinatchem b'enai hagoyim", that the Torah is the wisdom of the Jews in the eyes of the nations. The amount of times that Moses argues with God, when God's ready to blot out the Jews. And he goes, God, what's everybody gonna say? You took us out of Egypt, and you killed these people. So I do think there is a strong element what will the goyim say, certainly in the discussion about this law, but in general, Adam Mintz You see, I guess my question is like this, Are we worried about what the goyim will say? Or is that just a midrashic trick to kind of emphasize a problem that we have with these laws? And we kind of then put it in the mouths of the goyim. I don't know how much difference that makes, but I'm just raising that as a possibility. Geoffrey Stern When we say what will the goyim think we're really speaking like, Jews who have lived in exile for 2000 years? I don't think that would be fair for this young movement of Jews in the desert. But they did feel that they had a movement I believe, and the rabbi's too, we're in a world where maybe Judaism already because it was parleying itself as the believer in this one invisible God, maybe it was even taken to a higher standard. But in any case, there seems to be a question of the benchmark, the level of Judaism and does this somehow conflict with it. And I think you touched upon that by saying, we like to have an ideology we like to have a religion that is squeaky clean, everything fits into it's place. And this is not so not so understandable. I think the other aspect of it that came up in my research is what big of a problem it is. And this, of course, is the famous Pesikta, which says that Moses goes up into the heights of heaven. You know, there are a few Midrashim that say, what did Moses do 40 days and 40 nights when he was up in heaven. And so here is one of the renderings, he goes up and he sees the Holy One, blessed be he is engaged in the study of the Torah. And he's studying the passage of the red heifer, citing a law in the name of the sage who stated it. And Moses said before ahim: Master of the Universe, worlds above and worlds below are in your domain, yet you sit and cite a law ascribed to flesh and blood. And Michael, I know you love the drama and you love the theater of the Torah. This is a play, I think, of going up to heaven and seeing God number one studying man's Torah. Well, is it man's Torah? It was Torah that God wrote and gave to man. But here he is engaged in the study of the red heifer. It, so to speak, keeps God up at night. What do we make of that? And either a theological level or in terms of the discussion that we're having? Adam Mintz I want to just add to that question, Geoffrey. Why does the heifer have to be red? I mean, does that seem significant? Is it just because a red heifer is so rare? So therefore, it wants to show you that you have to go out of your way to find the red heifer? Is that what it's about? Or is there something deeper in there? Geoffrey Stern I mean, last week, I said that Techelet, it was the Pantone color of Judaism. And now this week we're discussing red. In my mind anyway, this has to do with life and death, there's no question about it. And one is using the red have to take away whatever it is that death tarnishes us with; the impurity that we get from death. And so in my mind, whether it's the blood or whether it's the color of the heifer itself, that's my natural association was with the blood. But again, the fact that it impurifies the pure, it's the fact that you take these drops of water, and magically make somebody pure. And then there's the other element, which is that it's outside of the temple. All of those three things, you almost get the sense that this is a solution, in search of a problem. It's almost as though there's something strange about this law, what is it? It keeps God up at night? the nations of the world taunt us with it? The problem of the problem is almost harder than the problem itself. To me, that's what kind of struck me. Adam Mintz Well, I mean, to rephrase what you just said, Geoffrey, it seems like the Torah makes the red heifer a lot more complicated than it has to be. We could accomplish the same thing, by having a ritual that was much more direct, and much more simple. Why are rituals generally complicated? You know, you think about the Pascal Lamb, you have to put the blood on the door post, you have to eat the whole thing. There are a lot of details in these sacrificial rituals. You think that's important, or you think that's just the way it was? Geoffrey Stern Michael, what are your thoughts? Michael Posnik My thought right know is this. I find that this question of the red heifer with all the energy we have to try to quote "figure it out", is an opportunity for a little humility. Certain things we say we understand, they seem to fit in with the entire system, we're content about that, but here is the exception, which in a certain way, proves the rule. And so I would say that it's not to be solved in that sense, because it is outside the possibility of solution, it is a way of acknowledging the fact that there is a space is a place for us to not know. And to either just accept or to surrender to it, or to let it go. So that's my thought right now, it's not to solve the problem. It's simply to say, Alright, we'll make an effort. But it's a place where I have to surrender what I think I know what my mind thinks it knows. So that's, that's my thoughts are right now. I like the fact that it's a puzzle not to be solved. No matter how hard you bang your head against the wall, it's not going to be solved. You have to surrender to it, if you want to. Adam Mintz Definitely a nice explanation, that the complexity is a reflection of the need to surrender. If we understood it, there wouldn't be as much surrender because what you understand you don't surrender to you understand it, but if you don't understand it, then you have to surrender I like that a lot. Michael Posnik You want to understand everything? N Adam Mintz No, I like that. Geoffrey Stern So I would like to play the devil's advocate a little bit and continue along the trend that I was looking at is that the problem of the Red Heifer is not so apparent and that we might be misguided in in what we understand the problem to be. For instance, if we look at the Law of Conservation of Matter for every reaction, there is an equal and opposite counteraction. Saadia Gaon says I don't get what is so complex about this whole rule. He says that you know, heat can make certain foodstuffs soft, but you boil an egg, it gets hard. Food can be beneficial to someone who's hungry and detrimental to someone who's already eaten a meal. Certainly medicine can benefit the sick and hurt the healthy. The world is full of things that can affect different people in different ways. He doesn't use this example but you know, it's a known saying in the Torah that for those who are zocher (privledged), the Torah is a sam hachaim It's a medicine of life. And for those who are not zocher, it's a som haMavet. It's, it's a poison, we can study the same text, we can be exposed to the same revelation, and we can take away from it. Two different opposing things. And I think that's an amazing, beautiful lesson. Maybe it's sophisticated enough to become a little bit of a mystery. And something that is not obvious at first glance. We were talking a little bit before we started today, I'm reminded of the wonderful expression that's attributed to pretty much everyone out there of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable, you know, is that the role of a leader of a Rabbi of a journalist so I think that at a certain level, it's it's not necessarily something that is so far beyond our ability to fathom, it's certainly not something that would keep us awake at night in terms of something being bothersome. It's a sophisticated point of the world that it means different things to different people, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And so I just wonder, what is it that Michael or you Rabbi feel, is so complex about this message that something can make one person impure and the other pure? Michael Posnik Just I was thinking before about wine, for example, something really simple even though we don't understand what it is exactly. You can use wine for purity and you can use wine for impurity. And then I was thinking about language, Geoffrey, we can use this gift of language to bring death to people we can embarrass and shame people which I think the Talmud equates with killing someone really and we can use language as we are here to uplift and nourish and raise. In that sense, the ambiguity or the complexity is in a certain way, practically how it's used. I don't know if this relates exactly to the question of the heifer. But it strikes me that we have a certain responsibility to use what we have, in an appropriate way, if we know that there's an appropriate way. So that's, what comes up for me. I'm not, I'm not seduced by what you call complexity. I think, as I said before, I think recalling complexity is just something that the mind says, Oh, this is complex, because I don't understand it. I'm perfectly happy to not understand. And then I have a choice where as I say, whether to do it or not do it. So that that's where I'm coming from today. Geoffrey Stern I love the fact that you brought it back to death, and you talked about, you know, sometimes the stakes are high. And if you embarrass somebody, the Talmud says it is like killing him. And so I think that, to me, the secret of the the challenge of the Parah Adumah cannot be far away from the challenge of death itself. And I don't want to raise the stakes too high. But to me, one of the clues is in a piece of Talmud, that ends the story of the Parah Aduma. And the next story that follows the story of the parah Aduma, is the death of Miriam. And Rabbi Ami says, Why was the Torah portion that describes the death of Miriam juxtaposed to the portion dealing with the red heifer to tell you just as the red heifer atones for sin, so too the death of the righteous atones for sin, and it seems to me that what is keeping kivi'yachol, as if to say, God up at night, and what is making the challenge here is that in the world that the Torah is operating in, there seems to be this inextricable connection between salvation and death. So that it comes out of a world where there was child sacrifice, and obviously, it has a whole life of sacrifice itself in the temple. And somehow, if you've sinned to redeem yourself, something has to be killed. And getting back to your point, Rabbi Adam, about the question of the red here, it seems that in order this whole notion that the death of the righteous atones, I think we're really at a crossroads here, that both Judaism and Christianity at the same moment that that Roman was saying, this sounds crazy. This sounds strange was struggling with how do you get salvation? Do you need someone to die in order for someone else to live? And you know, there are books that have been written lately. Jon Levinson wrote a whole book about the idea of the death of the son in Old Testament as opposed to only in Christianity. He says, this didn't come up [out of no where] the idea that a God or righteioous person has to die, in order for salvation to be reached. And he traces it through the Akeda, the sacrifice of Isaac. But the idea again, that someone has to become tuma, in order for someone else to become tahur. It's not so much just a kind of cognitive or an intellectual question or mystery. It's something that really hurts home. There's so much in religion in general, but certainly Old Testament Judeo-Christian religion, about this need for something bad to happen in order for something good to happen, whether it's "ha zorim bedima brina yikzaru" (You plant in tears and reep in joy) or whether it's that a generation has to die in order for a new generation to go into the promised land. That's what I kind of saw as the real challenge here. It wasn't the intellectual inability to understand how some things can become pure and some things impure. But it was like this Gordian knot between the necessity for your purity to come at the expense of somebody else's impurity. That's kind of what struck me. And that I will agree with you, Michael, that is a mystery that does not have a solution. I'd like to break the knot. But it seems to somehow be written deeply into our DNA. Michael Posnik That's really beautiful, about the dynamic of what we call life and death. And their relationship, and whether they're interdependent on one another, or they simply happen, we witness it, and try to see the connections between these things. You say God was up studying this passage, he might have been enjoying himself. Just really having finding pleasure in something that becomes a poem, rather than a piece of text, or a piece of text. He might have just enjoying the wonderful conundrum of that. The unknowability of it, still stay with that. Adam Mintz Complexity is what makes it so exciting. Michael Posnik You like it! Adam Mintz The complexity is what gives it meaning. If it's not complex, it doesn't really have meaning. If it's too simple, it doesn't have real meaning. An interesting idea, Geoffrey. I mean, from my perspective, if you look at the word Chok, and you know, you can look at any lexicon and it will tell you every word how it's used throughout. I think the most common usage for it is that it is something that is written in stone. It's a law of nature. In Jeremiah, it talks about Chukat Yoreach ve'kochavim" the law of the moon in the stars. If you look at other places, Kings "B'chukat haGoyim", these were established rules. And my sense is here that the tension here the thing that intrigues us so much, and intrigued the rabbis and intrigued those who were polemisizing with them, is how can you break this? How can you change this, and in a sense to me, it wasn't simply that God was studying the Torah. And I don't see any reason why he wasn't enjoying himself. It doesn't say he was upset. But he was in studying the Torah. And he was studying it because there was going to be some sage, because he was studying the Torah of man. So he wasn't studying what was written in His Torah, but the Oral Tradition that came out of it, and, and to me, it's almost as though the mystery the puzzle of this Red Heifer this Chok that seems to be written in stone. I'm not sure what great sage he was referring to. I would like to think that it was Rabbi Akiva. And Rabbi Akiva at a certain point says something that is sung from the top of one's lungs at L'og B'Omer It's considered a very kabalistic thing, but it's a beautiful thing that he said. And Rabbi Akiva said, How fortunate Aae you Israel before whom you are purified? And who purifies you? It is your Father in heaven, and I will sprinkle purifying waters upon you and you shall be purified. And he says, "Ma Mikveh Metahir et ha Temaim, Af Hakadosh Baruch metahir et Yisrael", just as the ritual bath purifies the impure. So too the Holy One, bless it be he purifies Israel. And from the context that we're studying, it's almost in contradistinction to the red heifer, where the mikveh, for the pure waters of the mikvah do not become impure when one is sprinkled with them. And of course, if God ultimately is the one who purifies us, God does not become impure by purifying us. And I don't know, I don't know if this was all part of the tension at this moment in history, where the temple was destroyed. were, theyre were new possibilities and there were needs to break out of the old mold. Because I don't think that either Christianity or Judaism successfully broke out of it. Martyrdom was very big in in Judaism and part of the martyrdom was to bring the salvation. And that's the sad part of it. It's one thing to die because one has to for one's faith, but to do it in order to bring salvation to believe that there has to be a connection between death and giving up one's life in order to bring salvation is what so troubles me. And this Rabbi Akiva beautiful, saying, seems to me to point at a possible way out.? A possible way out of what? Of the complexity. Geoffrey Stern His model, if you look at it, from the perspective of our discussion, does not have anything that is impurified by purification. I think if you look at this saying that it says how fortunate are you Israel, to know who purifies you, and the idea is that you can be purified, you can have salvation, without the need for whether it's the Egel Arufah, the red heifer, but also this cycle, this Gordian knot, of sacrifice and of death in order to to create the potential for life. It kind of came to me as I was reading over this and saw this the saying of Miriam's death and the death of a tzadikim could bring life. And knowing even that Rabi Akiva himself was a martyr. It gives you another route out. But it also makes you understand, I think, what the mystery, the challenge and what the turmoil of the whole question of the red heifer. Adam Mintz I like that a lot. I like turning the complexity of the Red Heifer into martyrdom. I think those are related topics. I think that's really, really interesting. Thank you so much, Geoffrey. This was an amazingly interesting topic today. Geoffrey Stern Thank you, Rabbi. Thank you, Michael. Adam Mintz Shabbat Shalom, everybody I'm looking forward to next week. Geoffrey Stern You got it Shabbat shalom. See, well then.
32 minutes | Jun 14, 2021
Not Holier Than Thou
Parshat Korach, Numbers 16 A “Talit that is wholly blue” (טלית שכולה תכלת); arguably the first fashion statement, has entered popular Jewish and Israeli folklore and culture. We use this popular account of the Korach rebellion to continue our exploration of the Bible’s rejection of class privilege, pride, entitlement, and the corruption that they invite and a democratized vision for Judaism and Israel. Sefaria Source Sheet: www.sefaria.org/sheets/328788 Transcript: Geoffrey Stern So this is our first fashion edition of Madlik. And we are talking about, a story that probably emerged because of two texts sitting next to each other in the Bible. Last week's parsha/portion ends with a law about wearing a four cornered garment with tzitzit; with these little tassel strings that those of you who have seen ultra-Orthodox Jews walking around, and it's sticking out so well can see it because it is an antidote to following one's eyes. It's so that "lo taturu acharae levavchem... that you do not taturu. If the word taturu sounds a little bit like touring or tourist, that's because it's kind of connected to the story before it, which was the spies that we discussed last week, who did make the mistake of following their eyes and not their vision. But this week, on the other side of that obligation to wear the fringes ..... one of those fringes by the way was to be made of "techelet" which is a royal blue dye that we'll get into. But right after that in the Torah, the namesake of this Portion, which is Korah, rebels against Moses and he literally leads a rebellion against Moses. And basically in the Torah text itself. It says that he says you have gone too far. For all the community are holy... all of them. "Rav Lachem" too much for you. "Ki Kol HaEdah, Kulo Kedoshim" Lum kudos him. He makes what seems to be a very democratic argument that says why do we have, when it comes to spirituality when it comes to spiritual leadership.... Why should we have leaders? Are we not all holy? Is not every individual endowed with a spirit of God? But the Midrash Tanhuma spins from this, forgive the pun, a wonderful story. And what it says actually happened was that Korach was inspired by the four cornered garment with that one little thread of blue hanging down. And he said, you know, if you have a garment that is "Kulo Techelet" . That is all made of this beautiful royal blue dye, does it still need fringes to make it kosher, acceptable? And of course, the argument that he was making was that since every Jew is holy, the fabric of the Jewish people is one that is "Kulo Techelet" ... we are all royalty. We are all royal blue. So Moses and Aaron, why are you taking the mantle of leadership? And before I just ask you, Rabbi Adam, what your initial thoughts to this story are, I should mention that the story some stories in the in the Midrash are buried and forgotten. And some have entered the vernacular, have entered folklore that is widely known. And in modern day Hebrew, if you say about somebody that he is "kulo Techelet" or he's a "talit she'Kulo Techelet" , that he is a talit that is all blue. Basically what you're saying about him is that he is holier than thou, that he considers himself holier than thou. So this kind of story has lasted the test of time. What does this story mean to you? And why Rabbi? Do you feel that it has become part of the vernacular? Adam Mintz So I mean, I think just to answer your second question, first, it's become part of the vernacular. Because the themes of this story are so familiar and so popular. The idea that "Beged she'kulo Techelit" that you know that you're holier than Thou, that's a criticism is something that's so familiar, people have grabbed on to so I think that the idea here is the following Rabbi Soloveitchik, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, who was the rabbi in Boston and the head of the Yeshiva University for over 50 years. He always explained the following. He said, what was the argument? a garment that's completely blue? Why does it need Techelet. the second half of that midrash says, What about a room that is full filled with Jewish books? Does it need a mezuzah? Also the same idea "Bayit Maley Sepharim", does it need s mezuza? Common sense. The answer is Ironically, that yes, it needs in mezuza. And yes, a beged shekulo techelet requires tzitzit, even techelet tzitzit. And that is that not everything in life is common sense. Makes sense all the time. And therefore, Korach comes and he rebels against Moshe. And he says it's not fair. Everybody's holy. Why Moses have you taken the mantle of leadership? The answer is it's not fair says Rabbi Soloveichik. It's not logical. But God wanted a leader of the Jewish people. And therefore, what Rabbi Soloveichik calls this story is the Common Sense Rebellion? And the answer is that not everything is common sense. Geoffrey Stern I think that's a fascinating interpretation. And I love the fact that you bought in the other part of the Midrash, which talks about the holy books. And I think what I'd like to explore is that although it seems that Korach is a popularlist and wants to democratize our wonderful religion. The truth is that if you dig down into the story, this was an intertribal discussion, because he wasn't saying that all Jews, all humanity should be able to have access. He literally and this is the fascinating part of the story. He didn't make a hypothetical argument when it came to the talit like he did with the books, he literally went to a tailor. And he had fashioned hundreds of these blue garments, put them on, and they made a statement. But I think it's the first instance of someone who was feigning themselves as a populist, using popularist language, but was actually very elitist. He was arguing that why amongst the tribe of Levi, Aaron and Moses, are you claiming the mantle of leadership, we all have the same exclusive privilege. And we all of us Levis, should be in a power of leadership. So I think, in addition to the common sense argument that he was making, he actually was more couching his argument in common sense. But he actually had a very ulterior motive. And the other thing that I love about bringing in the books of the library, is, you know, when we dance on Simchat Torah, we raise the Torah. And sometimes if you don't have a Torah, you raise a book. And if you don't have a book, you raise a child. And I think the sometimes when you make an argument, the fallacy is embedded in the argument. And in this case, I think the common sense argument is that every Jew every "Pintela Yid" if you will, has holiness. But he was taking advantage of that. And I think, really, what I'd love to explore is the whole concept of Techelit itself, which is actually very expensive, and is literally Royal Blue. It was something that only people with stature and prestige and power could wear. And in a sense, God's commandment of having that one little strand of Royal blue. And worn by every Jew was actually a message that I think, went totally contrary to the intent of Korach if not to, at least the way he packaged it. Adam Mintz You find it fascinating that it's royal blue, that it was blue that was special for royalty, and the Korach claimed that that was allowed to be used by everybody. And shouldn't we have certain things that are only allowed to be used by royalty, by special people? I mean, that's an interesting question, Geoffrey, as it relates to today, because the question today is, is there still place for the British royalty? Geoffrey Stern I'm gonna, I'm gonna ask Michael to speak in a second. But before I do, I just like to address that point. The point that I was trying to make was that, in the big scheme of things, there was not going to be a priestly caste. And that when God says to the Jewish people, that you should be a "mamlechet Coahinim ve'goy Kadosh", you should be a kingdom of priests. He was literally saying every Jew as white and dowdy and simple as they are, deserves that little thread of royalty. And I think that Korach was trying to, hijack that message. But he wasn't earnest. And I think the reason in my mind in my interpretation that Korach was [considered] a sinner was not because he made the argument, you can call it from common sense, or the argument that all of Israel has a piece in the Torah was that he wasn't being earnest, and that the real lesson of that little thread of blue of roayl blue on every Jew, is that we're all we're all priests. But Michael, I'm interested in hearing what you have to say. Michael Posnik I just have a question was rebelling against the God? Or was he rebelling against a political situation? Adam Mintz Well, that's such a good question. Maybe it's the same thing. Michael Posnik If it's the same thing, then he shouldn't have been punished. Adam Mintz Why rebelling against God is bad and rebelling against the political situation that God creates is also bad. Michael Posnik God is running. Forgive me, but God is running the political situation. God is in charge of the political side. Adam Mintz If Korach is rebelling against God's political situation, then Korach is sinning. Michael Posnik He seems to be rebelling against a political situation like we have currently against our king in Israel. Adam Mintz Except the king of Israel now has not been appointed by God. Michael Posnik Well, you have to ask him about that. I'm going to bow out and listen. Geoffrey Stern Well, my sense is that he was rebelling against Moses, and he was using arguments from the Torah that God gave. And so in a sense, he was like saying to Moses, who we all know was the most humble man. But he was saying to him, why Moses, did you take this power for yourself? When the Torah that God gave us says that we can have a kosher garment if it only has one little thread of techelet? And here I am. I'm completely techelet. So I personally would not take from this a mandate against rebellion. Rebellion can be done in in a proper sense. I think a "machloket l'shem Shamayim" an argument that is for the sake of good and heaven is acceptable? I think there are times where, Man, certainly Abraham showed a healthy ability to argue with God. I come back to the fact that this guy Korach was massaging the truth. He was using slogans. He was making himself to look like a popularizer. and he was trying to usurp. And I think to address your point, Michael, he gave a bad name to people who really want to rebel for the right intention. I don't think you can make a case against the Torah and against Rabbinics that they tried to dampen, differences of opinion and argumentation. And I don't think that's the takeaway from this story. But in any case, I do want to come back to this sense of the techelet, which in my mind, is kind of a little bit at the crux of these stories, both stories, the stories of the spies that was laid before it and the one afterwards. And Techelet if you want ... the Pantone color of the Torah, it would be Techelet..... it would be this amazing royal blue. It's the brand identity. And you know, I'm jumping ahead of myself in time and in commentary. But it's no big surprise that when they were heading to the first Zionist convention, somebody said we need a flag. And the flag that they came up with, by their own admission, was modeled after the simple talit, white background with a stripe or two of blue. And again, I think that this concept of the marriage between the white and the blue, between the simple and the pure, and that touch of royalty that we all share, to me is the essence of the argument against actually against Korach and co acts argument that he was a blue blood that he was part of he should have been in the ruling party test as well. That's that's kind of my takeaway. But, but i want to i, and I think maybe we can open that up for a little bit of discussion. It is amazing rabbi, that getting back to what I said earlier about the fact that this story, and this color has gone into the vernacular, that the blue of the tallied the blue of techelet it ended up into the national flag, and that this comment and this conjuring up this image of the story went into the national mindset. it's a really beautiful, I think, commentary on what the rebirth of the Jewish state and the Jewish people was that we kind of rediscovered ourselves, that we want to rule ourselves but what we want to rule democratically, we want to take the Torah, and we want it to belong to everybody. And obviously, the early Zionits were socialists, so it fell into that. What is your you, Michael, you rabbi, anyone in the in the crowd? What is your feeling about the popularization of the concept techelet? Adam Mintz I love your image of the techelet. Everybody has a little piece of trechelt. That you think that your blue blood, but the truth is that we're all Blue Bloods. And I think that's an important notion, being God's people make us blue blood a little bit. And you notice, today, some people have gone back to the techelet if you look at their talit, if you look on the strings, the fringes, there are eight strings on the fringes. The techelet is only one of eight. And I think Geoffrey, that's a powerful idea. The idea is that there's just a little bit of techelet in everybody. It's not completely techelet. People who think that they're completely techelet are going to get themselves in trouble. Geoffrey Stern I agree. And I think now we're literally on the same page in terms of what the lesson that Korach was trying to hijack, and he gave a bad name, too. But I think what you said about the reemergence of techelet today is a wonderful segue into the next wonderful story that relates to the history of the techelet. Well, first of all where does techelet comr from? it comes from a mollusk it comes from a shellfish, which in itself is amazing. You know, I once heard the reason that we have honey on Rosh Hashanah is because honey comes from a bee who's not kosher. And the idea is, as Shlomo Carlebach used to say, "You never know", "you never know where holiness can come from". So he had this beautiful blue, that sanctifies us all comes from a sea urchin, so to speak, that's number one. But number two, it mysteriously was hidden. Or maybe this is the first case of a species that that died, but in any case, the rabbi's of the Talmud said that we no longer have this blue techelet and that's why for so many 1000s of years, Jews have only had white fringes and you make reference to some modern Jews who believe they have rediscovered thetech elet and are using it again. And I think that's an amazing ecological story. It's it's an amazing story about what actually happened what was behind this disappearance of the mollusk. Adam Mintz Yeah, now that that's something, Geoffrey that we'll never know the answer to. But that's such an interesting question. Why did the mollusk disappear? Why was it important that for 2000 years, nobody found techelet? Then all of a sudden with the new State of Israel and with new technology, we all found techelet... I wonder about that. Michael, do have any thoughts about that? Michael Posnik I see Korach as the mollusk ..... he himself may have not have been kosher, but he was on to something very big. Adam Mintz That's a great littl D'var torah. Geoffrey Stern Michael, after all, I've said about Korach trying to usurp the thing you still like Korach? You're still on his side. Michael Posnik No, I don't take sides anymore.... I'm too old. But I do appreciate the back and forth. I just think that it's a mixing of worlds in a way. and that was the one I want to ask you, gentlemen, the response of Moses and Aaron to Korach's, rebellion. What do they do? What is their response? Adam Mintz Yeah, good question. It's hard to know, what is their response? They kind of take a response from God. And God says to stand up to them, and to prove that Moses and Aaron are the chosen one. But Michael, actually, your question is better than my answer. Cause you want to know what Moses and Aaron were really thinking. Michael Posnik I work in the theater. So I always wanted to know, what was the motivation? What was the motiviation behind falling on their faces? Adam Mintz Yeah. And I wonder, maybe Moses and Aaron were intimidated. Michael Posnik Maybe? Geoffrey Stern Well, certainly, if they are what we say they were, which is very humble, it's very hard to stick up for yourself. And, you know, that was a little bit of our discussion last week about getting guts. But I would like to suggest my own theory about how to techelet came to disappear. And I just came across this, this concept when I was young, and after I read the book on Masada. By Yigal Yadin, I read the book on the Bar Kokhba revolt. And this archaeologist slash general, slash Zionist statesman was first and foremost an archaeologist. And he found in a cave in the Judean Desert, a ball of wool that was dyed blue. And of course, his first response was, this is amazing that ....as tough as it was for the zealots. They were keeping the commandments and honoring this wonderful commandment. But being a scientist and being an archaeologist, he sent it to the Dexter Chemical Corporation of New York, and they did some testing and lo and behold, they found out that it was fake techelet... it was Indigo. And this General in a footnote, quotes the Talmud as saying that fake techelet fake die, [was the result of a ] a big black market for it. There was a lot of corruption involved. And he recounts two parts of the Talmud, one that talks about the tests that have to be made because this fake die was so far reaching and available. And the other one was in the section of the Torah, where it talks about, Damn you, if you change the scales, and you cheat people in the list of the great grievances of cheating people. One of them is to provide faketechelet. So my my pet theory is and of course, Yadin says clearly, the zealots thought they had real techelet. So we are, from an archaeological point of view, looking back 1000s of years and finding how how widespread the corruption that was created by and remember, this is roayl blue, it's expensive. Here is a mitzvah not like a piece orf challah, not like a glass of wine, but you need to use something that is roayl and we're giving a little bit of that royalty to every Jew. But guess what, we there's money, there's corruption. And my pet theory, and I have no basis for it was that due to the black market, the rabbis said, we've got to cut the legs out under this, and there is no more techelet. And they hid the techelet. meaning to say that if they had to weigh between putting the onus of purchasing this expensive die, and snuffing out a corrupt market, that was parleying in holy goods. If they had to put that on one side and cancel one of the 613 commandments, they chose to cancel the commandment. And so in fact, techelet was really extinct. And those who have quote unquote, refound it today are in good order, because maybe we we won't have another corrupt market. But that's my pet theory. And it goes so well, I think to the whole flow of the discussion, which is that the whole message of techelet is that it should be accessible to every Jew, that every Jew has that holy thread. And the second that message got tarnished and corrupted. The rabbi's threw it out. What do you think of that? Adam Mintz I love that idea. I think that's great. And I think that today, the fact that they found techelet and so to speak the rabbi's or God is giving us a second chance, a chance to all have a piece of that techelet, that royal blue is really a beautiful end to your whole theory. Geoffrey Stern Well, thank you, I have to say, personally, I went to what is called a Mussar Yeshiva, it's a whole long story. Maybe we'll deal with it another time. But it was part of a movement started around the same time as the Hasidic movement maybe a few years later, that stress the ethics. And when you came to my yeshiva, it was called Beer Yaakov and the head of it was someone called Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe. If you came into the Yeshiva, and you tucked your tsitsit into your pocket, which was kind of the nice compromise between making sure that your tsitsit could be seen. But on the other hand, you wanted to dress like a Westerner, and you didn't want to stick out too much. If you came to the Yeshiva, and you had those tzitzit in your pocket, and all of a sudden you decided to take them out. Rabbi Wolbe would call you over. And he would say, what happened to you, you became a Tzadik all of a sudden, now you can walk around with you, tzitzit out? And he really in that comment, really touched upon this holier than thou aspect of keeping religion. There's this kind of dialectic, that here, if we keep the laws of God, how do we stop ourselves flaunting it, wearing it on our sleeves, or in this case on the threads of taslit? And so I think really it that also kind of is enamoring to me, the sense of pride, but also humility, that is, is is imbued with this idea of to techelet Adam Mintz Well, the idea, Geoffrey, that the very thing that can make us arrogant, is also the thing that makes us humble is a very powerful idea. Geoffrey Stern Yup, always, always two sides to the coin. Right? Adam Mintz Right. So that the tzitit that go in your pocket, and remind you of God and therefore humble you there, they're flip side of tzitzit that we're flying around, Rabbi Wolbe didn;t like. Geoffrey Stern Yeah, I think to sum it all up to me, as I go through the whole arc of the five books of Moses, starting with the clear rejection of the firstborn and primogeniture of every one of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob's kids, the rejection of the firstborn of Egypt and the priestly caste, this amazing statement that we are all a kingdom of priests. I think that this fits right into it and one of the most powerful messages to me of the Torah is it's an argument against entitlement against stratification and the monopolization of the holy and this radical, radical democratization and all Israel has a a Chelek (portion) in the Torah. And I think that's the most powerful message. And it's one that also is in the arc of Jewish history. I feel today we are democratizing study of Torah, who can study where you can study? I think in Israel, it has the potential for democratizing Judaism if we could only get the religion out of the government. That's that's the vision I find that to techelet screams to me. Adam Mintz Beautiful. I love it. Thank you so much. Geoffrey Stern Well, thank you and Shabbat shalom to everyone. Adam Mintz thank you so much. I'm looking forward to next week. Geoffrey Stern You got it. Let's all have that little Petil techelet, that little string of blue that lets us know that we have access to the holy and the divine as much as anyone else. Shabbat Shalom.
32 minutes | Jun 6, 2021
Parshat Shelach - Geoffrey Stern with Rabbi Adam Mintz, visit with Rav Abraham Isaac Kook, Rabbi Yitz Greenberg and listen to a live recording or Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. We explore what the story of the Biblical Scouts teaches us about whining, Jewish Power, Jewish Nationalism, Zionism, Jewish Renewal, love and respect for authority? So gird your loins and take a deep breath as we Get Guts. Sefaria Source Sheet: www.sefaria.org/sheets/327812 Transcript: Geoffrey Welcome, everybody, to Madlik, our weekly disruptive Torah, four o'clock Eastern Time on clubhouse and later published as a podcast. If you do listen to this as a podcast and you want to like us or give us some stars, that would be well appreciated. Today, we are going to discuss, the following narrative. Picture the Jewish people in the desert coming out of Egypt. They're getting close to the border with the promised land, literally the land that was promised to them. And they sent out 12 either spies or scouts to scout the land. And there's one scout from each tribe and they're instructed to go to the country (Numbers, Chapter 13 and 14) to determine whether it's strong or weak, few or many. Are the people that dwell in there, good or bad are the towns they live in open or fortified. Is the soil rich or poor? Is it wooded or not? Really a total fact-finding mission. And the story recounts how they get there. And it's harvest festival and they harvest some grapes that have become almost iconic in terms of how large they were. And then they lodge their report "and ten of them say, we came to the land you sent to us. It does indeed flow with milk and honey. And this is its food." And they showed them the grapes. However, and here's the however, the people who inhabit the country are powerful and the cities are fortified and very large. Moreover, we saw anakites (giants) and they go on as they're talking. The other two was Joshua and a guy named Caleb, and he hushed the people before Moses and he said, let's just go up. We shall gain possession of it. So Joshua and Caleb were enthusiastic about going ahead to the Promised Land. But they continued speaking and they said we cannot attack that people for it is stronger than we. It is one that devours its settlers, Eretz ochelwet yoshveha... a land that literally eats its inhabitants and then they go back and they say the final punch line and it says, and we looked like grasshoppers to ourselves and so we must have looked to them. And ultimately the story ends with obviously God being extremely upset. Here is a people that he took the trouble of redeeming from slavery to freedom, and it ultimately is mired in a slavery; exile mentality. And can't make the switch. And they want to go back to Egypt. They would rather be taken care of and be slaves. And this story ends with God saying, let me get rid of them all, right, now and Moses, I will take you and Joshua and Caleb and the believers into the land. And Moses convinces him not to do that and God forgives them. And the language that he uses to forgive them is the penultimate forgiveness verses of the Torah that we use on Yom Kippur. And ultimately, that whole generation is to die out and a new generation is to come into the land. So I'm going to stop right here and ask you, Rabbi Adam and anyone else who wants to participate, what is the takeaway from this story at even the most superficial level? Adam There is so much. Thank you, Geoffrey, for the for the introduction and for just kind of the background of the story, You know, at least one piece of the take away is that you need to trust. You need to trust in God and you need to trust in ourselves that the mistake that the people, the Jews made the desert was you know, there were a lot of different ways to understand the report of the spies, but they chose the way that it was the most scary, the most intimidating. They didn't trust in themselves. They didn't trust in God. And that's what got them in trouble. So I think the first lesson is a lesson about trust. Geoffrey And faith and confidence Adam Trust and faith I'm putting together correct That's my first take away Geoffrey But of course, to move you forward, there is that kind of telling comment where they said they didn't say we'd looked like grasshoppers to them. They said we looked like grasshoppers to ourselves, and we must have looked like grasshoppers to them, too. What is that add? Adam That means that if you're insecure, then, you know, that's your downfall. If you think that your grasshoppers, then other people can pick that up in a minute. And they saw themselves as being weak. And the minute they saw themselves as being weak, they were weak and they'll be able to take advantage of them. Geoffrey So it's really as much about faith in God as it is about faith in oneself. Self-esteem. Adam Right. And I'm a big believer that this story is not only about faith in God, it's about faith in oneself. Geoffrey So to raise the bar a little bit, the midrash seems to have the consensus that this took place on a very perspicuous day in the Jewish calendar. It took place on Tisha B'Av and it's recounted Tisha B'av, as you probably all know, is the day the greatest calamity in the history of the Jewish people occurred. When the temple was destroyed. According to tradition, both temples were destroyed on the same day. And the midrash and the Mishnah gives a long list of other calamities that either foreshadowed or followed afterwards. But this took place on Tisha B'aV. And the Midrash says that when the people cried after hearing the report from the scouts, the Midrash says it was a Bechi Shel Chinam... It was an unjustified crying... a whining if you will. And because they cried, the Jewish people in the desert cried for no good reason. They would be destined to cry for good reason for the rest of the generations. And those of you who know Jewish tradition about Tisha B'av, cannot fail to hear in the bechi Shel Chinam... this crying for no reason, an echo of the traditional reason that the temple was destroyed. And that was because of sinat chinam.... of hatred that was unjustified .... person to person. So what do you make of this counterpoint between these two various reasons for the beginning of all the calamities of the Jewish people beginning at that moment and both using this unjustified emotion? Adam Let's take that midrash, that Midrash that you quote, Geoffrey, that you cried for no reason. Great phrase... you whine because you whine, I'm going to give you a reason to really cry. What does that mean? What that means is that we need to take a certain amount of responsibility. And if we're going to whine, God is going to give us a reason to whine. We can't whine, we need to be strong, and we need to have courage. We need to have faith in ourselves and in God. And if we can't do that, then God is going to punish us. He's going to give us a reason to cry. I think that's such a strong idea. Geoffrey And then all that is true. But I want to set it up as a counterpoint to "sinat Chinam". to blaming the destruction of the temple on the sins of the Jews. And what I'd love to do is to paint a picture that was inspired to me by Rav Abraham Yitzhak Kook, the first chief rabbi of the State of Israel, who actually took this midrash of baseless crying. And remember, this is an ultra-orthodox rabbi who breaks with the rest of the ultra-orthodox who believe that it is not up to man, it is not up to us to fabricate of faith and to take our land and to take the initiative. And he says, no, absolutely not that it is it is ours and it is our responsibility not to be small, but to be great. And this baseless whining, if you will, was the core of not only the narrative that we're reading about this Shabbat in this parsha, but is the core of the narrative of exile, of diminution, of oppression of the Jewish people through the ages. And I think if you add on to that context, part of that context is that the Jewish tradition for 2000 years of exile said that the Jewish people were exiled because they did something wrong. And this was something that was begun by the Jews, themselves in the prophets, Jeremiah and others, but clearly something that was literally embraced by the non-Jews who said if you are stateless, you must be deserving of this punishment. And so, in a sense, this baseless whining, this baseless diminution of yourself, I think is a counterpoint. And I don't want to focus less on the sin of hatred one against another and more on the fact of it's a sin that's keeping us away and that somehow or other we have to do something, maybe go to synagogue and pray, as opposed to taking our future into our hands and doing what Joshua and Caleb said, which is let's get up and go and take this land. Do you see that counterpoint Rabbi? Adam [That’s a very interesting counterpoint. And I think that that's really the lesson of the whole scary counterpoint is the lesson. Right? Geoffrey I think so. I think so. It's one also of sadness and joy and so Rav Kook, when he describes this, he describes it in the context of we should be rejoicing on Tisha B'av, because one day Tisha B'av is going to be the happiest day. And that day will happen when we take our fate into our own hands. Adam I want to know what that means, taking fate into our own hands. What does that mean to you? Geoffrey So I'd like to move forward to answer that question to another theologian who's actually still alive, named Yitz Greenberg. And Yitz Greenberg talks about the Third Era of Judaism. And he actually describes that before the Holocaust, we lived in a world where we were waiting for divine redemption, and we were trying to make ourselves purer so that we would deserve divine redemption. And he says after the Holocaust, many people would want to talk about the "hester Panim", the fact that God's divine presence was hidden. And he says that's the wrong syntax. He talks about after the Holocaust we now have to talk about "was man missing" and that man now has to take into his or her own hands their future. That's his takeaway from the absence of God, which is the positive flip side of that, which is the ultimate responsibility for the presence of man. Adam What do you make of that? Let me turn it back to you, Geoffrey. What do you think about Yitz Greenberg's comment? Geoffrey Well, I agree with him very much. And when I kind of felt it in my gut because I truly believe that the renaissance of the Jewish people and the revival of the state of Israel is not simply like the meraglim, the scouts, a story, an episode. I think it is the essence of the culmination of Jewish history. And so I try to make sense of it in terms of the arc of Jewish history. And actually, Greenberg talks in terms of what happened after the Holocaust, in terms of the UN and human rights and national movements and all that. He makes the context even larger. But it really does speak to me and it speaks to me in a sense that is core to who I am as a proud Jew. So it really does resonate. Adam It's a great I think it's a fantastic argument by Itz Greenberg. And maybe what makes it the most powerful is it is kind of surprising you wouldn't have expected it. Geoffrey In terms of who Yitz Greenberg is as an Orthodox Jew, Adam correct, Geoffrey I mean, I think in a sense what we're talking about is not something that we're kind of creating out of nothing. The truth is that Ralph Kook and especially but also Yitz Greenberg coming out of an ultra-orthodox background, saw it. They saw the real tension between the Judaism of the galut... of the exile and a new Judaism born after the ashes, so to speak, and the revival of the Jewish nationalist dream. It lived itself out, in other words. And I also came from a very ultra-orthodox background. And these are things that you study, and you learn. They're very much alive. This this sense of you talk about trust. It's a different type of trust and faith. It's a faith that God will take care of us. God will provide the answer. And it's ultimately one that I think I really do. I feel like I have to reject. And it's not almost a nostalgic old faith as opposed to a new one. it's a new faith that has an emphasis and an imperative to it. Adam Yeah. That that idea of a new thing I think is very, very powerful. And that's really what Yitz Greenberg is talking about, is that we have to create for ourselves a new faith and that new faith is a faith that requires a tremendous amount of strength and courage. Can you imagine creating a new a new faith? Well, something that's so counter to everything that we were bought up with in our very orthodox backgrounds, isn't it? Geoffrey Well, I mean, you know, we listen to whether it's the song of the parting of the sea where we say lo b'bekochi, that it is not with our power, not with our might, that we will survive, but only through God. And Greenberg has an amazing quote that is a variation on something I believe Santayana said, and its "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. But absolute powerlessness corrupts the most". And I think what he was saying here is the powerlessness .... the lack of willingness to accept one's own fate, to accept power, to be a victim, to be a martyr, to play that role is really antithetical to the world and the renewal of Judaism and the state of Israel that we see. And I think it comes up in our discussions today, and I'm not preaching to anyone. I'm preaching to myself here. You know, as we see the discussion about Israel, especially in the last month, rive up and we feel, do we have to stand up for it or do we have to? What is the right balance between empathizing with the poor people in Gaza and the Palestinians and their national dream and ours? And I think that part of what this message told me this week as I studied it and as I read it, is you can care for other people, but you first have to care for yourself. You have to be in touch and understand your national dream before you can embrace someone else's national dream. You have to respect yourself. You can't be a grasshopper or a cockroach. That was the message I took away. And literally I was on the fence in terms of... Let this pass and do we really need to to stick up for ourselves and and make a scene and the take away from this parsha is that, you know, if not us, who then? Adam Do you think that we all have to share the same dream? Geoffrey No, no, absolutely not, and I think, if I hear you correctly, you know, would we ever want to totally lose the message of a Jeremiah who says if bad things happen to you, you need to be introspective and you need to look to see what you can do better with your life, both morally, ethically and spiritually? I hope we never lose that. But certainly when it goes to the extreme, when bad things happen to good people, it must be good people's fault. And we have to check on Mezuzahs. I think it is is a sickness. And I do believe we have to be comfortable in saying, damn it, we deserve a full life, too, and we deserve to live out our national and lifelong [national aspiration]. I was at a wedding earlier this week and I couldn't but stop to listen to all the words about one day we will be dancing in the streets of Jerusalem and the broken glass over Jerusalem. And I said to myself, we've been doing this for two thousand years. This is not a political statement. This is who we are. We are those scouts. We are that generation outside of the promised land. And we've got to fight for it. We’ll be respected. I think this was one of the messages of the Zionists, and it's only partially borne out... We'll be respected when we respect ourselves and when we stand on our own two feet and when we have our own army and we have our own language. Adam Yeah, I mean, that was you know, that was the lesson of the state of Israel that we have to believe in ourselves if we're going to have our own state. If we don't believe in ourselves, then we don't have a chance. It's not that people have to believe in us. We have to believe in ourselves. I mean, that's really nice, Geoffrey because what you're really in this week of the elections and everything, in Israel and they make a government. And what you're really saying is that it's not about people believing in us. It's about us believing in ourselves. Geoffrey And then I think it's like they always say, "Ve'ahavta l"rayacha Kwemocha" , love your neighbor as yourself. I really do believe that we can we are better when we respect ourselves. And it's trite, but I think it's true. I'd like to go on to another thought leader who is not normally considered a thought leader. He's thought of more as the Singing Rabbi. His name is Shlomo Carlebach. And a few years ago, I came across a recording of him talking about just this parsha. So I'm going to try something new on Madlik Clubhouse. And since it is an audio only platform, I'm going to try to play Shlomo Carlebach... I'm going to invite him, so to speak, on to clubhouse. And I think you'll all be as excited as I am to see the personal direction that he takes this into, because we've been talking a lot about nationalism and movements and he goes in a different direction that I think relates more to Jewish renewal. So let's see if I can get this to work. Speaker Shlomo Carlebach I just want to give you a little vitamin pill and strength, everybody talking about the Meraglim so much and I'm sure it sunk into you. Anybody who comes back from Israel and tells anything bad about Israel, tell them, my dear brother, the spies destroyed Israel and they didn't lie it's true. Moshe Rabenu says to Yehoshua (Joshua) "God should give you strength not to listen to them. Now, listen to this. Who are the miraglim? The miraglim were the biggest Rebbes of the world 10 big Rebbes. Just imagine yourself, little schmendrick, like you and I. We're going on a mission ... 10 big rabbis. And Yeshua was mamash a pupil of Moshe Rabbenu. The most humble person in the world. Right. All the rabbis sit there, and they say, listen, I want you to know they tell each other it's a bad scene to go to Israel, forget it "A land that eats it's people" don't go there. Do you know, according to the Torah, the majority decides? The Torah! You ask a yid, Torah... right? I want you to know, friends, thousands of Jews would have stayed alive if they would have not listened to a lot of rabbis. I know a Yid in Williamsburg. He lived somewhere, had a wife and 12 children, 1937. He asked a Rebbe: "Should I go to Israel?" He says: "God forbid, Israel is not frum" . He would have had his wife and 12 children. You know why Yehusha is the one to conquer Israel? Because Moshe Rabbenu gave them strength not to listen to anybody. Have enough guts! if the Ribono shel olam shines something into me, that's it. I want you to know there is prophecy .. Eretz Yisrael is deeper than prophecy. Prophecy means I know what's happening. What will happen tomorrow. I know which gilgil (re-incarnation) I am in. It's all cute. It's not what I need to know? The greatest light of Eretz Yisrael is to have enough guts to listen to the deepest depths of my heart, the deepest, deepest depts of my heart. My friends, I bless you and me. If you and I want to conquer Israel, want to make our way to the Holy Land, make our way into Yiddishkite, let's have the guts not to listen to anybody. I want you to know something else. The saddest thing in the world is... I want you to know everybody when they get married, they built their Eretz Yisrael. The Huppah is their Jerusalem. I want you to know, you know, the walking to the Huppah, it's like Avraham Avenu, is walking in Eretz Yisrael. The standing under the Huppah is like Yerushalyim, As it says: Omdos Hayu Ragalenu Yerusalim..." I bless you, friends. Whenever you find your soulmate, please don't ask anybody. Conquer your Eretz Yisrael! Just listen to the inside of the inside. Listen to the great rabbi ... the Mraglim... you know what they said they felt like cockroaches and mamash a giant. Right? I thought you're the greatest rabbi in the world. You afraid? Yeah. To the truth. Jacob teitz, this is my Rebbe? I don't want a Rebbe who's afraid. I don't a Rebbe who's afraid of anything in the world. I need a rebbe who's not afraid. And you know something in exile. It's a cute Rebbe'la. He's afraid of this one. Afraid of this one .. in Exile you can make it. You can even make to receive manna from heaven. Eretz Yisrael, No! Friends, I Bless you to have guts. inside. Inside, inside, inside. When you find your soul mate, just do it. Friends, I tell you something. If you would have asked all the Rebbes. Should we make a little ruach here, a little get-together. They would have asked how big is the mechitza, where do you get the meat. And who is Gedalia, who is Noami? Who is Meyer? Forget me, I'm treif anyway. Hash V'shalom... you're not permitted to do it! and the meantime, Baruch HaShem, Gedalia had the privilege of bringing together 100's of thousands of people. OK friends, Good Shabbos Good Yontov and I bless you to make it to Eretz Yisrael this summer. Don't ask questions, just go Good Shabbos Good Yom tov. Geoffrey Yeah. So had you heard that before? Adam That was amazing. Geoffrey Thank you. I was I was blown away. And by the way, it's edited. He also talks about women learning Torah and he says, are we going to ask a rebbe if we can study Torah? Women can study Torah. It really bridges the divide to the personal, personal, spiritual growth, and it bridges the divide to renewal of Judaism. And I was just blown away by it. So I. I just today came from a funeral of a Holocaust survivor. And her name is Esther Pederseil, and she was ninety-five and she had guts. And if we're talking about guts, I think that we have to definitely reference people like her who are survivors, they're not victims, they're survivors. And when her children spoke, they talked about her love of fashion and style, and they said that was her. That was her not.... Not her revenge, but her way of living. She wanted to live her life to the fullest and as much as she could she, showed that she was in the camp of Joshua and Caleb. And I just think that the lesson is really universal at the end of the day, it's a lesson for us personally. It's a lesson for every people who want to renew their future and get to their promised land. But it's certainly a lesson for us. And I think we should never whine, and we should only choose to conquer what we can conquer and to think highly of ourselves Adam And to listen only to ourselves, not to listen to others. What a powerful idea. Geoffrey Yeah, I, I when he kept on saying over and over again, I don't need a rebbe who's afraid, I mean it was very powerful. And he touched thousands, tens of thousands of people with his music but also with the message of renewal and renewal Judaism. And as you said before, what our promised land is, is open to interpretation. But I think the message that one has to grab that and to actively aspire and engage. That is a universal truth. Adam Couldn't agree more. That was beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing that. Geoffrey OK, well, Shabbat shalom, everybody. Adam Shabbat Shalom everybody. Looking forward to next week.
34 minutes | May 29, 2021
The Jewish Calendar - Hacking the Universe
Parshat Beha'alotcha - (Numbers 9: 2-13) Join Geoffrey Stern and Rabbi Adam Mintz recorded on Clubhouse Friday May 28th 2021 as we uncover the relationship between the Biblical Pesach Sheni (2nd Passover) and the later instituted Shana M'Uberet (Leap year). We hypothesize regarding the theological and social ramifications of correcting an irregular calendar based on a seemingly imperfect planetary system. Source Sheet on Sefaria: www.sefaria.org/sheets/326069 Transcript below: Welcome to Madlik. My name is Geoffrey Stern and at Madlik we light a spark or shed some light on a Jewish Text or Tradition. We also host a clubhouse every Friday at 4:00pm Eastern time and this week, along with Rabbi Adam Mintz We uncover a relationship between the Biblical Pesach Sheni (2nd Passover) and the shana meuberet, the leap year. We hypothesize regarding the theological and social ramifications of tweaking a calendar created by a seemingly imperfect planetary system. So join us on a date as we explore the Jewish Calendar and hacking the universe. G Stern [00:00:00] Welcome to Madlik, where every week Friday at four o'clock Eastern, Rabbi Adam Mintz and I, Geoffrey Stern, do a little disruptive Torah learning. And by that I mean we look at subject matters either in a an unorthodox manner, certainly not with a capital O, but in a different manner to get our hearts and minds thinking about Judaism a little bit differently. This week's parsha B'eha'lotcha is in the book of numbers. And the subject that we're going to discuss today is one that those who have listened to the podcast know I love and value so much. And that's the idea of the second Passover "Pesach Sheni". And for the first few minutes, we'll discuss it in very traditional ways. But then we're going to dig a little bit deeper. So let me set the stage. It's literally the Jews are in the desert and it is, I believe, the first time that they will be celebrating the Passover. It's the first or the second anniversary. And the people are instructed to keep the Passover. "b'moado" in it's set time and the verse goes on to say, you shall do it on the 14th day of this month at twilight, "b'moado" in its time and of course, those of us who know Passover is in the month of Nisan. And believe it or not, the very first commandment that the Jewish people were given was not to keep Shabbat and it was not not to steal, it was to make sure that "Hahodesh ha'ze l'chem", that the month of Nisan should be the beginning of the months. So it was a commandment to do with the calendar. In any case, that we understand why whenever it talks about Passover and today's section is no exception, it makes sure that everyone understands it has to be in the spring, it has to be in the month of Nisan. Which leads us to great surprise when Moses is confronted by a bunch of people who come and they say that we are impure and we cannot keep the Passover in its associated time, we don't want to be left out of this iconic annual celebration and what can we do? So Moses said to them, "Stand by and let me hear what instructions the Lord gives about you." It almost sounds like you're talking to an operator at a service bureau and she goes, hold on, I got to talk to my manager. So Moses escalates the call and then he says, speak to the Israeli people, saying, when any of you or your posterity who are defiled by a corpse or on a long journey, would offer the Passover sacrifice to the Lord. They shall offer it in the second month. And he goes on to say that for now and forever, that if for whatever reason and there are a few caveats, but for most reasons that are beyond your control, if you could not observe the Passover ceremony in all of its details in the month of Nisan, you can do it exactly a month later. And so what I would like to Adam is to ask you, what do you think this message tells us about both Passover, but more importantly about Judaism? A Mintz [00:04:03] I think the idea of giving a second chance is an unbelievable idea. And it's amazing that the Torah teaches it in such a strange way. But it's really about getting a second chance and it's about the fact that people don't want to be left out. They felt that they lost out, that they were able to give up the first Passover. So they got a second chance wiyh the second Passover. And what an amazing lesson about giving back, getting second chances. G Stern [00:04:31] You know, I totally agree. And that's I think one of the reasons it's so fascinates me. But again, I want to emphasize that, you know, you could say you got a second chance if you forgot to put on tefillin in the morning, you can put it on in the afternoon, or if you forgot to give to tzedaka, you can do it later. But the lesson here is so emphatic because it picks the one holiday that in numerouse places in the tTorah, in the Bible that says you got to do it on time, you got to do it, "b'moado", in its fixed time, and it's precisely that one that it gives that wonderful message that you make reference to, which is you have another chance. You never miss the boat. Don't you think that's remarkable? A Mintz [00:05:20] It is more I think yes, it is remarkable. G Stern [00:05:25] So it seems to me though that it's remarkable. But it also raises a question because clearly the message could have been given on another holiday on Sukkoth and it could have been given for another mitzvah. It's almost like there's a conflict, a contradiction in terms that it's speaking from both sides of its mouth. It's saying you've got to do it in its right season. All these guys need to have it at another time. You can do it at another time. And I think that's one of the things that really intrigued me about this and made me starting to think about the Jewish calendar. And the way I want to introduce my thoughts on the Jewish calendar is with a joke. The joke goes as follows. There's a Hasidic rabbi and he's getting on to the flight and he sees that he's sitting next to a nun. And, you know, everybody is traveling home for the holidays. It's in December. And he says, you know, I don't want her to think that we are so insulated that we can't carry on a conversation. So he says, what should I talk to her about? And finally, it dawns on him and he turns to her and he says, So, Miss, are the holidays early or late this year? And of course, that's a joke for Jews who every year before either the high holidays at the end of the summer or before Passover, we ask, are the holidays early or late this year? And the concept of the holidays being early or late, I think is something that is essential and that only Jews who follow what is a combination of the solar calendar and the lunar calendar can understand because we have a calendar that literally follows the moon. So if you follow the stars or the Zodiac, you know that every main Jewish holiday occurs when the moon is full and the 14th of the month and we are very tied into the tides, the warp, the ebb and flow of the of the lunar year. But on the other hand, we follow the seasons or the temps of the the calendar of the year. So it's adjusted. And every year, every so often, every three or four years, we have what's called a leap year in Hebrew. It's an iber shana or shana m'uberet, a pregnant year, so to speak. And that's why Jews have this question of is it early or late? And I would say no obvious biblical source for this. I'm going to argue that maybe "Pesach Sheni" , the second Passover can shed some light on the lunasol leap year. Maybe it has something to say about this hybrid lunar and solar calendar. But, Rabbi, have you ever given that thought in terms of 1) how unique our calendar is and 2) whether there is any biblical source for this very complex fixing of the calendar? A Mintz [00:08:45] Well, so let's talk about the calendar. We have a calendar baced on the moon, and that's the way our calendar works every month is either twenty nine or thirty days because the lunar month, the month based on the moon is twenty nine and a half. Whereas the year based on the moon is two hundred and fifty four days. The year based on the sun is three hundred and sixty five days. Every single year we lose 11 days. What does that mean loose 11 days? Means that the holidays as your joke has it Geoffrey, the holidays fall out 11 days earlier than they fall out the year before. That happens every single year. That happens to the Moslems, too. That's why Ramadan is never fixed. Ramadan, there's no corrective. Each year. Ramadan falls out eleven days earlier than the year before. So sometimes Ramadan is in the summer. Sometimes Ramadan is in the winter. Just depends. In the Jewish calendar. We have a corrective because we lose eleven days. The problem, with losing 11 is that the Towra describes Passover as taking place during the spring, every three years we lose Passover because 11 days every year, thirty three days, it's a month early, it ends up before the beginning of spring. So therefore, seven times in 19 years, we add a leap month as the corrective. Next year, 5782 is going to be a leap year. Rosh Hashanah. Actually, again, your joke is the night of Labor Day can't be earlier, but Passover is going to be the end of April. It's going to be a very long winter next year because of the correction of the calendar. So that's why we have a unique calendar, because it's not like the Gregorian calendar, which is based on the sun, but it's not like the Moslem calendar that's based only on the moon. It's a combination of the two. G Stern [00:11:19] That was an amazingly good explanation. I do think that this concept of early or late and we can joke about it is intimately involved with what is unique about the Jewish calendar. As you said, the Christian calendar follows the Roman calendar and was totally solar based. So that Christmas and Easter they occur pretty much based on the Solar calendar and whether the moon is in ascent or not, whether the stars are in a particular alignment, it has no bearing. It doesn't have that connection to that aspect of nature. And the Muslim calendar is intimately connected with the lunar phases, but loses the sense of the trapos of the tropical change of the seasons and is not connected to agriculture. And then obviously it's not connected to times in history happened at a particular period. So I think we can truly say that the Jewish calendar is unique among the Abrahamic religions. And as usual, it's a little bit harder to defend something that is not here or not there. But I think at the most basic level, the idea of being early or late is not a scientific term. You'll never hear in math or in science early or late. If a phenomenon needs to happen, it happens when it needs to happen. And I think getting back to the message that we started with about Pesach Sheni, the second Passover, the make-up Passover, I think baked into our calendar is in fact this concept of it's never too late. But I would add to that and say maybe it's never too early. In other words, not trying to be Einsteinian, but time is relative and there are openings on either side. But in any case, what I have never realized before I started preparing for this week, I had always felt that PesachSheni. the second Passover was for individuals, but it was not for the whole nation. And as a result, I felt that there was no connection between the Second Passover and where literally you are taking Passover and you're saying it's not this month, it's next month, which is what you do in a leap year. And I thought there was no connection to this corrective nature of the Jewish calendar. But I discovered in the Book of Chronicles a story about Hezekiah, who at the time when the Jewish people had been conquered and had fallen into idolatry, there was a religious revival. And he summoned everyone over the Land of Israel for Passover. And it says that the king and his officers and the congregation in Jerusalm had agreed to keep the Passover in the second month. So here is a leader, a king who takes the whole nation of Israel and decides, and he gives an explanation that there wasn't enough time, they didn't have enough time to get purified. They didn't have enough time to come from the suburbs, so to speak. But for whatever reason, he decided that the whole nation should celebrate Passover not this month, but next month, that this month was not going to be the Nisan of the Passover. It was going to be next month. And so a bell rang in my head and I said to myself, well, maybe this is a biblical source for the correction that we do in the Jewish year and maybe some of the lessons that we take away from Pesach Sheni, the second Passover and the leap year are one in the same. And as I said before, it's not only never too late, but never too early either. And what intrigued me further was that there was a sense of sin involved with this. In other words, the the priests who went ahead with the king's decree and celebrated Passover the second month. It says about them that they they they felt bad, they felt ashamed. And the commentaries say they felt the shame because they had caused a leap year. And the king himself brought a sacrifice for atonement, so the rabbis of the Talmud take this and they say that, in fact, he did make a Pesach Sheni slash a leap year for the whole nation. And so, in a sense, from this story, there is a direct connection between the two. And that, to me was exciting. Plus the fact that we kind of have this sense that making this change, after all, it's human beings, we make the change. We decide when there should be a leap year. And there's a sense of kind of, I wouldn't say sinning, but there's a sense of admitting the imperfection of the moment. Rabbi, your thoughts? A Mintz [00:17:16] The idea of imperfection is such a fascinating idea, the idea that the system isn't perfect the way it is, but the system needs a correction and that is something that really resonates with me. Again, the Moslem calendar doesn't have that. The Moslem calendar believes that it's just the calendar based on the moon and however, it falls it falls. But Judaism is willing to accept the fact that it needs a correction. And I think the idea of looking to make things perfect is really a very important lesson from this whole discussion of the calendar. G Stern [00:18:06] So I'm a big believer in comparative religion. We've talked a little bit about Christianity, but I'd like to pick up on something that you just said about the Muslim religion doing what I would call it the pure path. They only follow the moon. And there are a lot of studies that Muhammad studied and heard both Christian and Jewish preachers before he wrote the Koran. And I want to read you one part of the Koran that literally talks about this element of sin in terms of correcting God's calendar, correcting or what I call in terms of the subject, hacking the calendar or hacking the universe. And he writes in the Koran, he says, and by the way, in the Koran, the the word for leap year is NASI. And we're going to get to that in a second. But he says, indeed, the Nasi, postponing our sacred month is an increase in disbelief by which those who have disbelieved are led further away. They make it lawful one year, an unlawful another year to correspond to the number made unlawful by Allah and thus make lawful what Allah has made unlawful. Made pleasing to them is the evil of their deeds, and Allah does not guide the disbelieving people. And in their commentaries they talk about those who use this nasi, this adjustment of the calendar to wage wars when a month doesn't permit them to wage war. So they just push it off to the next month, to do business, to build roads, to do all of these things. And I think this gives you a wonderful perspective in terms of what was, in fact radical, both about Islam, which rejected this hybrid calendar. But I would argue also radical about what the Jews did in terms of having a calendar that was understood to be imperfect and needed man to perfect it. And the key word is that he uses the word Nasi. And if you know about the Jewish doctrine, it says, who can decide when the leap year should be? And it says only the Nasi, only the prince, only the leader of the Jewish people. So clearly, Mohammed was aware of what the Jews had done, understood what its implications were, and rejected it. And I would say, by contrast, there was at that time the Jews understood what they were doing and the power of their adjustable calendar. And this, again, brings up this element of sin that we saw with Hezkiahu who felt that, yes, he had to make a change in the calendar, man had to be involved with this corrective action. But nonetheless, we did it with regret because the world was not perfect. A Mintz [00:21:27] I mean, I think that says at all that idea of the calendar reflecting the fact that the world is not perfect. And number 2) the fact that we have the ability to help make the world perfect, we're not helpless standing by and watching. We're actually part of the process. I think that's an important, extremely important element also. G Stern [00:21:53] And I think it gives us insight into a very strange story that some of us might be aware of, but maybe not. And that was the rabbis in the Talmud were having a discussion about what witnesses to accept in terms of when the new year was to begin. And in beautiful Talmudic fashion, witnesses came, procedurally, everything that they said was correct, the new moon was announced, which meant based on this new moon, Yom Kippur would be at a designated day. And then the next day, the evidence showed that those witnesses were incorrect. And one of the rabbis, Yehoshua, made the obvious argument. He says, if you claim that a woman is not pregnant and the next day she shows up and her belly is is swollen, you know, you're wrong. But the rabbis didn't accept his argument and they objected to the fact that he was arguing from scientific empirical evidence and they were using the God-given ability to determine what the calendar was. And this is what they did. And it's a remarkable story. The Nasi, Rabbi Gamliel, sent a message to this Rabbi Yehoshua, and he says, I decree against you that you appear before me with your staff and with your money on the day on which Yom Kippur occurs, according to your calculation. So he said to the guy, I need you not only to let us continue, you need to show publicly that the day that you want to be Yom Kippur, is not Yom Kippur. So it just shows you how important this sense of man communally can decide when is holiness. You know, Heschel used to say that Shabbat, which comes every seven days without exception, is a cathedral in time. You know, I would argue that what this is saying about holiness of man made time is it's a pop up in time that it's when we determine it. And this you couldn't get a more powerful allegory story to portray that. A Mintz [00:24:20] I think that's an amazing story. I mean, what does that story say to you, Geoffrey? G Stern [00:24:27] It says a number of things. It shows me that the rabbis were talking in a realm that goes beyond empiricism, like I said before, that there is an early and that there is a late and that there are shades of gray. It talks about Rabbini authority that has to be accepted because it's the basis of the social structure. I feel sad for Rabbi Yhoshua who had to show up on his Yom Kippur. A Mintz [00:25:00] Well that's the worst part, right? Yeah. I mean, that's the problematic part. Why did he force them to show up like that? That's the problem. G Stern [00:25:12] It gets back to my question about sin. You feel like they had to do it in order to to cement and to support this notion of what a Jewish holiday is and Holiness is. But on the other hand, they had to sin against Rabbi Joshua because what he said was probably right. And it really goes to the heart of what I'm talking about in terms of agreeing that maybe perfection is imperfection, agreeing that although we always talk about you have to be there at the right time, at the right moment, that there is no right time, that we by convention, not by design, make those magical moments. Maybe that's the lesson. But I definitely feel for Rabbi Joshua A Mintz [00:26:06] Right , we make the right time. it's about human initiative in the process. G Stern [00:26:14] Yes, yes, and it also raises, again, this issue of of sin, how much in religion, how much in the Torah has baked into it, these kinds of situations. Here, we believe in an infinite, infallible, all knowing God who created this amazing world and here we are and we're fixing it. And here we are, God created it, maybe "as if to say" to teach us this lesson but nonetheless, a world was created that was not perfect. And you know, you can't but not think about the excommunication of Galileo and Copernicus and getting back to Christianity, how the whole world was tied to this, this sense of the sun rotating around the earth and all of the theological implications. Today we don't think in those terms about the theological implications of the stars, of the calendar. But in those days, this was serious, serious stuff. You know, there was one of Copernicus's co-scientists, and he wrote a famous quote. It says, "Had God had consulted me before embarking on creation, I would have suggested something simpler." It's so amazing, but this is what they were doing, what the humility that it teaches us in terms of men of God, women of God, theologians, to have to go into the back room and tweak the system a little bit to get it to work. Copernicus himself said, "the theories of my predecessors were like a human figure in which the arms, legs and head were put together in the form of a disorderly monster." I mean, these guys were excommunicated for their observations and for them kind of reconstituting the whole metaphysics of the day. And I think from that perspective, at the end of the day, that's what Pesach Sheni is about. It's a holiday in time. It talks about the sanctification of time, the first commandment that we have deals with the calendar. And yet and yet we have to tweak it. And that humbles both us, but it also humbles us in terms of understanding any divine reason and divine obviousness of any plan. A Mintz [00:29:03] So the calendar actually reflects the integration of God's world and human initiative, God's plan and human initiative. It can't work one without the other. God's plan doesn't work on its own, but we can't have human initiative without God's plan. G Stern [00:29:25] Absolutely. And I think there were scholars who are looking at the Dead Sea Scrolls and you know, there were different groups there. They all kind of rejected the religion of the day. They were out there for purity reasons. And some of them had 60 day cycles in their calendar. But they literally talked about the heavenly calendar and the earthly calendar. And I think that really we're talking about heavenly and earthly and the fact thatit is not a a simple puzzle that fits so nicely together and that it needs tweaking and that our measly senses and brain power are not enough to understand the design. And maybe that's the most basic lesson. And the lesson of "HaHodesh ha'zeh l'chem" that "this should be your month". And of course, we can't ignore the fact that Hodesh, which is month, also means "Hidush" "renewal", it means "invention". And maybe that's ultimately at the source of of what we need to do in our calendar on a daily basis. We need to try to adjust to the forces that we can control and meet and bring together heaven and earth in some fashion. A Mintz [00:30:59] I really love that, I love the way we put this all together. I think that's great. G Stern [00:31:04] Thanks. Are there any questions or any comments among our faithful that I can entertain or should we finish early? As the saying goes, we're twenty nine minutes into the half hour, so we're not going to finish too early. But maybe that's the takeaway, that sometimes we can finish early and that because everything has been said that needs to be said. Alice Meyer is invited to come up. E Meyer [00:31:38] I just wanted to say thank you. That was fabulous. G Stern [00:31:42] Well, thanks for joining us. It was fabulous to have you. I know you know how much I love "Pesach Sheni". E Meyer [00:31:48] Yes, we do. Yes, we do. G Stern [00:31:51] But this week and this week and this week, I went a little deeper. E Meyer [00:31:56] Was it was I just really I love I love the way you started it. And this was a great session. Thank you so much. G Stern [00:32:04] Thank you, Elise. Michael, how are you today? M Stern[00:32:07] I'm great. And another great session. And you go God's will, man's will, Geoffrey Stern, say, shall we end it a minute early? And here we are at four thirty. And just an example of that happening in real time right now. G Stern [00:32:26] Love it. Love it. M Stern [00:32:29] Thank you. Thank you, Rabbi. It's great listening to you both. Thank you so much. Shabbat shalom to everybody. G Stern [00:32:36] Shabbat Shalom. One and all.
34 minutes | May 23, 2021
The Biblical Nazarite – lessons in addiction, sobriety and joyful living
Join Geoffrey Stern, Rabbi Adam Mintz and Rabbi Hirsh Chinn on Clubhouse Friday May 21st at 4:00pm (ET). The Torah is ambivalent with regard to the sobriety of the Nazarine. Is the Nazir a holy man striving for greater spirituality or an addict seeking rehab for a moral shortcoming… or both? Rabbi Hirsh Chinn was Geoffrey’s roommate at Yeshivah Torah Vodaath. He was a student of the recently deceased Rabbi and Dr. Abraham J Twersky, who according to his obit in the New York Times was “the descendant of several Hasidic dynasties. Yet he was also a psychiatrist and a respected authority on addiction who was drawn to the 12-step approach central to Alcoholics Anonymous, a program whose origins are Christian….. (see more here). Rabbi Hirsh actually edited a Hagadah written by Dr. Twerski which is based on the premise that “The original passage from bondage to freedom, Exodus, is equated to a person with a substance abuse problem and their passage to freedom through recovery. (see here) ---------------- sefaria Source sheet here. The Biblical Nazarite - lessons in addiction, sobriety and joyful living 1. במדבר ו׳:א׳-י״א (א) וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר ה' אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃ (ב) דַּבֵּר֙ אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְאָמַרְתָּ֖ אֲלֵהֶ֑ם אִ֣ישׁ אֽוֹ־אִשָּׁ֗ה כִּ֤י יַפְלִא֙ לִנְדֹּר֙ נֶ֣דֶר נָזִ֔יר לְהַזִּ֖יר לַֽה'׃ (ג) מִיַּ֤יִן וְשֵׁכָר֙ יַזִּ֔יר חֹ֥מֶץ יַ֛יִן וְחֹ֥מֶץ שֵׁכָ֖ר לֹ֣א יִשְׁתֶּ֑ה וְכׇל־מִשְׁרַ֤ת עֲנָבִים֙ לֹ֣א יִשְׁתֶּ֔ה וַעֲנָבִ֛ים לַחִ֥ים וִיבֵשִׁ֖ים לֹ֥א יֹאכֵֽל׃ (ד) כֹּ֖ל יְמֵ֣י נִזְר֑וֹ מִכֹּל֩ אֲשֶׁ֨ר יֵעָשֶׂ֜ה מִגֶּ֣פֶן הַיַּ֗יִן מֵחַרְצַנִּ֛ים וְעַד־זָ֖ג לֹ֥א יֹאכֵֽל׃ (ה) כׇּל־יְמֵי֙ נֶ֣דֶר נִזְר֔וֹ תַּ֖עַר לֹא־יַעֲבֹ֣ר עַל־רֹאשׁ֑וֹ עַד־מְלֹ֨את הַיָּמִ֜ם אֲשֶׁר־יַזִּ֤יר לַה' קָדֹ֣שׁ יִהְיֶ֔ה גַּדֵּ֥ל פֶּ֖רַע שְׂעַ֥ר רֹאשֽׁוֹ׃ (ו) כׇּל־יְמֵ֥י הַזִּיר֖וֹ לַה' עַל־נֶ֥פֶשׁ מֵ֖ת לֹ֥א יָבֹֽא׃ (ז) לְאָבִ֣יו וּלְאִמּ֗וֹ לְאָחִיו֙ וּלְאַ֣חֹת֔וֹ לֹא־יִטַּמָּ֥א לָהֶ֖ם בְּמֹתָ֑ם כִּ֛י נֵ֥זֶר אֱלֹקָ֖יו עַל־רֹאשֽׁוֹ׃ (ח) כֹּ֖ל יְמֵ֣י נִזְר֑וֹ קָדֹ֥שׁ ה֖וּא לַֽה'׃ (ט) וְכִֽי־יָמ֨וּת מֵ֤ת עָלָיו֙ בְּפֶ֣תַע פִּתְאֹ֔ם וְטִמֵּ֖א רֹ֣אשׁ נִזְר֑וֹ וְגִלַּ֤ח רֹאשׁוֹ֙ בְּי֣וֹם טׇהֳרָת֔וֹ בַּיּ֥וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֖י יְגַלְּחֶֽנּוּ׃ (י) וּבַיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁמִינִ֗י יָבִא֙ שְׁתֵּ֣י תֹרִ֔ים א֥וֹ שְׁנֵ֖י בְּנֵ֣י יוֹנָ֑ה אֶ֨ל־הַכֹּהֵ֔ן אֶל־פֶּ֖תַח אֹ֥הֶל מוֹעֵֽד׃ (יא) וְעָשָׂ֣ה הַכֹּהֵ֗ן אֶחָ֤ד לְחַטָּאת֙ וְאֶחָ֣ד לְעֹלָ֔ה וְכִפֶּ֣ר עָלָ֔יו מֵאֲשֶׁ֥ר חָטָ֖א עַל־הַנָּ֑פֶשׁ וְקִדַּ֥שׁ אֶת־רֹאשׁ֖וֹ בַּיּ֥וֹם הַהֽוּא׃ Numbers 6:1-11 (1) The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: (2) Speak to the Israelites and say to them: If anyone, man or woman, explicitly utters a nazirite’s vow, to set himself apart for the LORD, (3) he shall abstain from wine and any other intoxicant; he shall not drink vinegar of wine or of any other intoxicant, neither shall he drink anything in which grapes have been steeped, nor eat grapes fresh or dried. (4) Throughout his term as nazirite, he may not eat anything that is obtained from the grapevine, even seeds or skin. (5) Throughout the term of his vow as nazirite, no razor shall touch his head; it shall remain consecrated until the completion of his term as nazirite of the LORD, the hair of his head being left to grow untrimmed. (6) Throughout the term that he has set apart for the LORD, he shall not go in where there is a dead person. (7) Even if his father or mother, or his brother or sister should die, he must not defile himself for them, since hair set apart for his God is upon his head: (8) throughout his term as nazirite he is consecrated to the LORD. (9) If a person dies suddenly near him, defiling his consecrated hair, he shall shave his head on the day he becomes clean; he shall shave it on the seventh day. (10) On the eighth day he shall bring two turtledoves or two pigeons to the priest, at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. (11) The priest shall offer one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering, and make expiation on his behalf for the guilt that he incurred through the corpse. That same day he shall reconsecrate his head ה. 5. רמב"ן על במדבר ו׳:י״א:א׳ וטעם החטאת שיקריב הנזיר ביום מלאת ימי נזרו לא נתפרש. ועל דרך הפשט כי האיש הזה חוטא נפשו במלאת הנזירות כי הוא עתה נזור מקדושתו ועבודת השם וראוי היה לו שיזיר לעולם ויעמוד כל ימיו נזיר וקדוש לאלקיו כענין שאמר (עמוס ב יא) ואקים מבניכם לנביאים ומבחוריכם לנזירים. השוה אותו הכתוב לנביא וכדכתיב (במדבר ו׳:ח׳) כל ימי נזרו קדוש הוא לה' והנה הוא צריך כפרה בשובו להטמא בתאוות העולם: Ramban on Numbers 6:11:1 AND THE PRIEST SHALL PREPARE ONE FOR A SIN-OFFERING. The reason why a Nazirite must bring a sin-offering when the days of his Naziritehood are fulfilled has not been explained. In accordance with the plain meaning of Scripture, [it is because] this man sins against his soul on the day of completion of his Naziritehood; for until now he was separated in sanctity and the service of G-d, and he should therefore have remained separated forever, continuing all his life consecrated and sanctified to his G-d, as it is said, And I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men for Nazirites, where Scripture compares the Nazirite to a prophet, and as it is written, All the days of his Naziritehood he is holy unto the Eternal. Thus [when he completes his Naziritehood and returns to his normal life] he requires atonement, since he goes back to be defiled by [material] desires of the world. ו. 6. שבת ל״ג ב דְּיָתְבִי רַבִּי יְהוּדָה וְרַבִּי יוֹסֵי וְרַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן, וְיָתֵיב יְהוּדָה בֶּן גֵּרִים גַּבַּיְיהוּ. פָּתַח רַבִּי יְהוּדָה וְאָמַר: כַּמָּה נָאִים מַעֲשֵׂיהֶן שֶׁל אוּמָּה זוֹ: תִּקְּנוּ שְׁווֹקִים, תִּקְּנוּ גְּשָׁרִים, תִּקְנוּ מֶרְחֲצָאוֹת. רַבִּי יוֹסֵי שָׁתַק. נַעֲנָה רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן יוֹחַאי וְאָמַר: כׇּל מַה שֶּׁתִּקְּנוּ, לֹא תִּקְּנוּ אֶלָּא לְצוֹרֶךְ עַצְמָן. תִּקְּנוּ שְׁווֹקִין — לְהוֹשִׁיב בָּהֶן זוֹנוֹת, מֶרְחֲצָאוֹת — לְעַדֵּן בָּהֶן עַצְמָן, גְּשָׁרִים — לִיטּוֹל מֵהֶן מֶכֶס. הָלַךְ יְהוּדָה בֶּן גֵּרִים וְסִיפֵּר דִּבְרֵיהֶם, וְנִשְׁמְעוּ לַמַּלְכוּת. אָמְרוּ: יְהוּדָה שֶׁעִילָּה — יִתְעַלֶּה. יוֹסֵי שֶׁשָּׁתַק — יִגְלֶה לְצִיפּוֹרִי. שִׁמְעוֹן שֶׁגִּינָּה — יֵהָרֵג. אֲזַל הוּא וּבְרֵיהּ, טְשׁוֹ בֵּי מִדְרְשָׁא. כׇּל יוֹמָא הֲוָה מַתְיָא לְהוּ דְּבֵיתְהוּ רִיפְתָּא וְכוּזָא דְמַיָּא וְכָרְכִי. כִּי תְּקֵיף גְּזֵירְתָא אֲמַר לֵיהּ לִבְרֵיהּ: נָשִׁים דַּעְתָּן קַלָּה עֲלֵיהֶן, דִילְמָא מְצַעֲרִי לַהּ וּמְגַלְּיָא לַן. אֲזַלוּ טְשׁוֹ בִּמְעָרְתָּא. אִיתְרְחִישׁ נִיסָּא אִיבְּרִי לְהוּ חָרוּבָא וְעֵינָא דְמַיָּא, וַהֲווֹ מַשְׁלְחִי מָנַיְיהוּ וַהֲווֹ יָתְבִי עַד צַוְּארַיְיהוּ בְּחָלָא. כּוּלֵּי יוֹמָא גָּרְסִי. בְּעִידָּן צַלּוֹיֵי לָבְשִׁי מִיכַּסּוּ וּמְצַלּוּ, וַהֲדַר מַשְׁלְחִי מָנַיְיהוּ כִּי הֵיכִי דְּלָא לִיבְלוּ. אִיתִּיבוּ תְּרֵיסַר שְׁנֵי בִּמְעָרְתָּא. אֲתָא אֵלִיָּהוּ וְקָם אַפִּיתְחָא דִמְעָרְתָּא, אֲמַר: מַאן לוֹדְעֵיהּ לְבַר יוֹחַי דְּמִית קֵיסָר וּבְטִיל גְּזֵירְתֵיהּ. נְפַקוּ, חֲזוֹ אִינָשֵׁי דְּקָא כָּרְבִי וְזָרְעִי, אָמְרִין: מַנִּיחִין חַיֵּי עוֹלָם וְעוֹסְקִין בְּחַיֵּי שָׁעָה. כׇּל מָקוֹם שֶׁנּוֹתְנִין עֵינֵיהֶן מִיָּד נִשְׂרָף. יָצְתָה בַּת קוֹל וְאָמְרָה לָהֶם: לְהַחֲרִיב עוֹלָמִי יְצָאתֶם?! חִיזְרוּ לִמְעָרַתְכֶם! הֲדוּר אֲזוּל אִיתִּיבוּ תְּרֵיסַר יַרְחֵי שַׁתָּא. אָמְרִי: מִשְׁפַּט רְשָׁעִים בְּגֵיהִנָּם שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר חֹדֶשׁ. יָצְתָה בַּת קוֹל וְאָמְרָה: צְאוּ מִמְּעָרַתְכֶם! נְפַקוּ. כָּל הֵיכָא דַּהֲוָה מָחֵי רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר, הֲוָה מַסֵּי רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן. אָמַר לוֹ: בְּנִי, דַּי לָעוֹלָם אֲנִי וְאַתָּה. בַּהֲדֵי פַּנְיָא דְּמַעֲלֵי שַׁבְּתָא חֲזוֹ הָהוּא סָבָא דַּהֲוָה נָקֵיט תְּרֵי מַדָּאנֵי אָסָא וְרָהֵיט בֵּין הַשְּׁמָשׁוֹת. אֲמַרוּ לֵיהּ: הָנֵי לְמָה לָךְ? אֲמַר לְהוּ: לִכְבוֹד שַׁבָּת. וְתִיסְגֵּי לָךְ בְּחַד! — חַד כְּנֶגֶד ״זָכוֹר״ וְחַד כְּנֶגֶד ״שָׁמוֹר״. אֲמַר לֵיהּ לִבְרֵיהּ: חֲזִי כַּמָּה חֲבִיבִין מִצְוֹת עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל. אִיְּתִיבָה דַּעְתַּיְיהוּ. שְׁמַע רַבִּי פִּנְחָס בֶּן יָאִיר חַתְנֵיהּ וּנְפַק לְאַפֵּיהּ. עַיְּילֵיהּ לְבֵי בָנֵי, הֲוָה קָא אָרֵיךְ לֵיהּ לְבִישְׂרֵיהּ. חֲזָא דַּהֲוָה בֵּיהּ פִּילֵי בְּגוּפֵיהּ. הֲוָה קָא בָכֵי וְקָא נָתְרָן דִּמְעָת עֵינֵיהּ וְקָמְצַוְּחָא לֵיהּ. אָמַר לוֹ: אוֹי לִי שֶׁרְאִיתִיךָ בְּכָךְ. אָמַר לוֹ: אַשְׁרֶיךָ שֶׁרְאִיתַנִי בְּכָךְ, שֶׁאִילְמָלֵא לֹא רְאִיתַנִי בְּכָךְ — לֹא מָצָאתָ בִּי כָּךְ. דְּמֵעִיקָּרָא כִּי הֲוָה מַקְשֵׁי רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן יוֹחַי קוּשְׁיָא, הֲוָה מְפָרֵק לֵיהּ רַבִּי פִּנְחָס בֶּן יָאִיר תְּרֵיסַר פֵּירוּקֵי. לְסוֹף, כִּי הֲוָה מַקְשֵׁי רַבִּי פִּנְחָס בֶּן יָאִיר קוּשְׁיָא — הֲוָה מְפָרֵק לֵיהּ רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן יוֹחַי עֶשְׂרִין וְאַרְבְּעָה פֵּירוּקֵי. אֲמַר: הוֹאִיל וְאִיתְרְחִישׁ נִיסָּא אֵיזִיל אַתְקֵין מִילְּתָא. דִּכְתִיב: ״וַיָּבֹא יַעֲקֹב שָׁלֵם״, וְאָמַר רַב: שָׁלֵם בְּגוּפוֹ, שָׁלֵם בְּמָמוֹנוֹ, שָׁלֵם בְּתוֹרָתוֹ. ״וַיִּחַן אֶת פְּנֵי הָעִיר״, אָמַר רַב: מַטְבֵּעַ תִּיקֵּן לָהֶם, וּשְׁמוּאֵל אָמַר: שְׁווֹקִים תִּיקֵּן לָהֶם, וְרַבִּי יוֹחָנָן אָמַר: מֶרְחֲצָאוֹת תִּיקֵּן לָהֶם. אֲמַר: אִיכָּא מִילְּתָא דְּבָעֵי לְתַקּוֹנֵי? אֲמַרוּ לֵיהּ: אִיכָּא דּוּכְתָּא דְּאִית בֵּיהּ סְפֵק טוּמְאָה Shabbat 33b when Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Yosei and Rabbi Shimon were sitting, and Yehuda, son of converts, sat beside them. Rabbi Yehuda opened and said: How pleasant are the actions of this nation, the Romans, as they established marketplaces, established bridges, and established bathhouses. Rabbi Yosei was silent. Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai responded and said: Everything that they established, they established only for their own purposes. They established marketplaces, to place prostitutes in them; bathhouses, to pamper themselves; and bridges, to collect taxes from all who pass over them. Yehuda, son of converts, went and related their statements to his household, and those statements continued to spread until they were heard by the monarchy. They ruled and said: Yehuda, who elevated the Roman regime, shall be elevated and appointed as head of the Sages, the head of the speakers in every place. Yosei, who remained silent, shall be exiled from his home in Judea as punishment, and sent to the city of Tzippori in the Galilee. And Shimon, who denounced the government, shall be killed. Rabbi Shimon bar Yoḥai and his son, Rabbi Elazar, went and hid in the study hall. Every day Rabbi Shimon’s wife would bring them bread and a jug of water and they would eat. When the decree intensified, Rabbi Shimon said to his son: Women are easily impressionable and, therefore, there is room for concern lest the authorities torture her and she reveal our whereabouts. They went and they hid in a cave. A miracle occurred and a carob tree was created for them as well as a spring of water. They would remove their clothes and sit covered in sand up to their necks. They would study Torah all day in that manner. At the time of prayer, they would dress, cover themselves, and pray, and they would again remove their clothes afterward so that they would not become tattered. They sat in the cave for twelve years. Elijah the Prophet came and stood at the entrance to the cave and said: Who will inform bar Yoḥai that the emperor died and his decree has been abrogated? They emerged from the cave, and saw people who were plowing and sowing. Rabbi Shimon bar Yoḥai said: These people abandon eternal life of Torah study and engage in temporal life for their own sustenance. The Gemara relates that every place that Rabbi Shimon and his son Rabbi Elazar directed their eyes was immediately burned. A Divine Voice emerged and said to them: Did you emerge from the cave in order to destroy My world? Return to your cave. They again went and sat there for twelve months. They said: The judgment of the wicked in Gehenna lasts for twelve months. Surely their sin was atoned in that time. A Divine Voice emerged and said to them: Emerge from your cave. They emerged. Everywhere that Rabbi Elazar would strike, Rabbi Shimon would heal. Rabbi Shimon said to Rabbi Elazar: My son, you and I suffice for the entire world, as the two of us are engaged in the proper study of Torah. As the sun was setting on Shabbat eve, they saw an elderly man who was holding two bundles of myrtle branches and running at twilight. They said to him: Why do you have these? He said to them: In honor of Shabbat. They said to him: And let one suffice. He answered them: One is corresponding to: “Remember the Shabbat day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8), and one is corresponding to: “Observe the Shabbat day, to keep it holy” (Deuteronomy 5:12). Rabbi Shimon said to his son: See how beloved the mitzvot are to Israel. Their minds were put at ease and they were no longer as upset that people were not engaged in Torah study. Rabbi Pineḥas ben Ya’ir, Rabbi Shimon’s son-in-law, heard and went out to greet him. He brought him into the bathhouse and began tending to his flesh. He saw that Rabbi Shimon had cracks in the skin on his body. He was crying, and the tears fell from his eyes and caused Rabbi Shimon pain. Rabbi Pineḥas said to Rabbi Shimon, his father-in-law: Woe is me, that I have seen you like this. Rabbi Shimon said to him: Happy are you that you have seen me like this, as had you not seen me like this, you would not have found in me this prominence in Torah, as the Gemara relates: At first, when Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai would raise a difficulty, Rabbi Pineḥas ben Ya’ir would respond to his question with twelve answers. Ultimately, when Rabbi Pineḥas ben Ya’ir would raise a difficulty, Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai would respond with twenty-four answers. Rabbi Shimon said: Since a miracle transpired for me, I will go and repair something for the sake of others in gratitude for God’s kindness, as it is written: “And Jacob came whole to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Paddan-aram; and he graced the countenance of the city” (Genesis 33:18). Rav said, the meaning of: And Jacob came whole, is: Whole in his body, whole in his money, whole in his Torah. And what did he do? And he graced the countenance of the city; he performed gracious acts to benefit the city. Rav said: Jacob established a currency for them. And Shmuel said: He established marketplaces for them. And Rabbi Yoḥanan said: He established bathhouses for them. In any event, clearly one for whom a miracle transpires should perform an act of kindness for his neighbors as a sign of gratitude. He said: Is there something that needs repair? They said to him: There is a place where there is uncertainty with regard to ritual impurity ז. 7. שמונה פרקים ד׳:ט׳ וזאת התורה התמימה המשלמת אותנו כמו שהעיד עליה יודעה, תורת י"י תמימה משיבת נפש, עדות י"י נאמנה מחכימת פתי, לא זכרה דבר מזה, ואמנם כוונה להיות האדם טבעי הולך בדרך האמצעיה, יאכל מה שיש לו לאכול בשויי, וישתה מה שיש לו לשתות בשווי, ויבעול מה שמותר לו לבעול בשווי, וישכון המדינות ביושר ואמונה לא שישכון במדברות ובהרים, ולא שילבש השער והצמר ולא שיענה גופו, והזהירה מזה לפי מה שבא בקבלה אמר בנזיר וכפר עליו מאשר חטא על הנפש, ואמרו ז"ל וכי על איזה נפש חטא זה, על שמנע עצמו מן היין, והלא הדברים קל וחומר אם מי שציער עצמו מן היין צריך כפרה, המצער עצמו מכל דבר על אחת כמה וכמה. ובדברי נביאנו וחכמי תורתינו ראינו שהם מכוונים אל השווי ושמירת נפשם וגופם על מה שתחייבהו התורה, וענה השם ית' על יד נביאו למי ששאל לצום יום אחד בשנה אם יתמיד עליו אם לא, והוא אמרם לזכריהו אבכה בחדש החמישי הנזר כאשר עשיתי זה כמה שנים, וענה אותם כי צמתם וספוד בחמישי ובשביעי זה שבעים שנה הצום צמתוני אני וכי תאכלו וכי תשתו הלא אתם האוכלים ואתם השותים, אחר כן צוה אותם ביושר ובמעלה לבד לא בצום, והוא אמרו להם כה אמר י"י צבאות לאמר משפט אמת שפטו וחסד ורחמים עשו איש את אחיו, ואמר אחר כן כה אמר י"י צבאות צום הרביעי וצום החמישי וצום השביעי וצום העשירי יהיו לבית יהודה לששון ולשמחה ולמועדים טובים והאמת והשלום אהבו, ודע שאמת הם המעלות השכליות מפני שהן אמיתיות לא ישתנו כמו שזכרנו בפרק השני, והשלום הם מעלות המדות אשר בהם יהיה השלום בעולם. ואשוב אל כוונתי שאם יאמרו אלו המתדמים באומות מאנשי תורתינו, שאיני מדבר כי אם בהם, שהם אינם עושים מה שעושים אותו מהטריח גופותם ופסוק הנאותיהם אלא על דרך הלמוד לכחות הנפש, כדי שיהיו נוטים אל הצד האחד מעט כפי מה שבארנו בזה הפרק שראוי שיהיה האדם כן, זהו טעות מהם כאשר אבאר. Eight Chapters 4:9 Eight Chapters is Rambam’s introduction to Pirkei Avot. The perfect Law which leads us to perfection as one who knew it well testifies by the words, (Psalms 19:8) "The Law of the Lord is perfect restoring the soul; the testimonies of the Lord are faithful making wise the simple" recommends none of these things (such as self-torture, flight from society etc.). On the contrary, it aims at man's following the path of moderation, in accordance with the dictates of nature, eating, drinking, enjoying legitimate sexual intercourse, all in moderation, and living among people in honesty and uprightness, but not dwelling in the wilderness or in the mountains, or clothing oneself in garments of hair and wool, or afflicting the body. The Law even warns us against these practices, if we interpret it according to what tradition tells us is the meaning of the passage concerning the Nazarite, (Numbers 6:11) "And he (the priest) shall make an atonement for him because he hath sinned against the soul." The Rabbis ask, "Against what soul has he sinned? Against his own soul, because he has deprived himself of wine. Is this not then a conclusion a minori ad majus? If one who deprives himself merely of wine must bring an atonement, how much more incumbent is it upon one who denies himself every enjoyment." By the words of our prophets and of the sages of our Law, we see that they were bent upon moderation and the care of their souls and bodies, in accordance with what the Law prescribes and with the answer which God gave through His prophet to those who asked whether the fast-day once a year should continue or not. They asked Zechariah, "Shall I weep in the fifth month with abstinence as I have done already these many years?" His, answer was, (Zachariah 7:3-7) "When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and in the seventh (month) already these seventy years, did ye in anywise fast for me, yea for me? And if ye do eat and if ye do drink are ye not yourselves those that eat and yourselves those that drink?" After that, he enjoined upon them justice and virtue alone, and not fasting, when he said to them, (Zachariah 7:9) "Thus hath said the Lord of Hosts. Execute justice and show kindness and mercy every man to his brother." He said further, (Zachariah 8:19) "Thus hath said the Lord of Hosts, the fast- day of the fourth, and the fast-day of the fifth, and the fast of seventh, and the fast of the tenth (month) shall become to the house of Judah gladness, and joy, and merry festivals; only love ye truth and peace." Know that by "truth" the intellectual virtues are meant, for they are immutably true, as we have explained in Chapter 2, and that by "peace" the moral virtues are designated, for upon them depends the peace of the world. But to resume. Should those of our co-religionists and it is of them alone that I speak who imitate the followers of other religions, maintain that when they torment their bodies, and renounce every joy, that they do so merely to discipline the faculties of their souls by inclining somewhat to the one extreme, as is proper, and in accordance with our own recommendations in this chapter, our answer is that they are in error, as I shall now demonstrate. ח. 8. Rabbi Abraham J Twersky Abraham J. Twerski was an Orthodox rabbi, the descendant of several Hasidic dynasties. Yet he was also a psychiatrist and a respected authority on addiction who was drawn to the 12-step approach central to Alcoholics Anonymous, a program whose origins are Christian. “He discovered in A.A. meetings the kind of sincere and even selfless fellow-feeling that was often absent in synagogues,” Andrew Heinze wrote in a 1999 profile of Rabbi Twerski for Judaism, the quarterly magazine of the American Jewish Congress. “He was moved by the example of men and women who would willingly be awakened in the middle of the night to go out and help a fellow alcoholic.” He saw no contradiction between the 12 steps and his belief in the laws of Torah, according to his granddaughter Chaya Ruchie Waldman. “The 12 steps may have been created by Christian believers,” she said, “but it was about spirituality, surrendering to a higher power, and that is synonymous with Judaism.” Rabbi Twerski melded an eclectic menu of treatments in his work as director of psychiatry at St. Francis Hospital in Pittsburgh. The Gateway Rehabilitation Center, which he founded, was named one of the top 12 rehabilitation clinics in the United States by Forbes magazine in 1987. He also wrote 80 books, many on Jewish topics but many others on addictive thinking and the addictive personality, all of which enhanced his international reputation as an authority on addiction. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/06/science/abraham-j-twerski-dead-coronavirus.html See: Artscroll: Haggadah From Bondage to Freedom by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski (English, Hebrew and Hebrew Edition) Hardcover – February 1, 1995 Hebrew Edition by Abraham J. Twerski (Author, Editor), Hirsh Michel Chinn (Editor) It is hard to find books dealing with recovery from a Jewish perspective, this book is a great addition to your library. The original passage from bondage to freedom, Exodus, is equated to a person with a substance abuse problem and their passage to freedom through recovery.
31 minutes | May 16, 2021
A Peoples Army
Parshat Bamidbar - Was Ben Gurion's vision of a People's Army which united the country and created a melting pot for Israeli Society foreshadowed in the Bible? Does the elimination of a militant and ideologically pure Priestly cast from the Biblical army have lessons for us today? ------------- Ben Gurion's Peoples Army (From Wikipedia) The model is based on David Ben Gurion’s belief that the universality that would derive from this “melting pot” ideal would help create cohesion among members of society, regardless of their backgrounds; this would serve as both a builder of national identity after the establishment of the state, bringing together people of different socioeconomic backgrounds and racial identities. There is also the idea that the IDF is by the people, for the people. The IDF allow soldiers to go home often and also allows regular communication with the “outside world.” After an initial training period, the formality commonly associated with military service dissipates, which serves as a tool to promote this ideal. One of the initial goals of the People's Army Model is to serve as an apolitical, strong force; in theory, it is the best functioning government institution. במדבר א׳:ב׳-ג׳ (ב) שְׂא֗וּ אֶת־רֹאשׁ֙ כָּל־עֲדַ֣ת בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָ֖ם לְבֵ֣ית אֲבֹתָ֑ם בְּמִסְפַּ֣ר שֵׁמ֔וֹת כָּל־זָכָ֖ר לְגֻלְגְּלֹתָֽם׃ (ג) מִבֶּ֨ן עֶשְׂרִ֤ים שָׁנָה֙ וָמַ֔עְלָה כָּל־יֹצֵ֥א צָבָ֖א בְּיִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל תִּפְקְד֥וּ אֹתָ֛ם לְצִבְאֹתָ֖ם אַתָּ֥ה וְאַהֲרֹֽן׃ Numbers 1:2-3 (2) Take a census of the whole Israelite community by the clans of its ancestral houses, listing the names, every male, head by head. (3) You and Aaron shall record them by their groups, from the age of twenty years up, all those in Israel who are able to bear arms. במדבר א׳:מ״ה-מ״ז (מה) וַיִּֽהְי֛וּ כָּל־פְּקוּדֵ֥י בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל לְבֵ֣ית אֲבֹתָ֑ם מִבֶּ֨ן עֶשְׂרִ֤ים שָׁנָה֙ וָמַ֔עְלָה כָּל־יֹצֵ֥א צָבָ֖א בְּיִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ (מו) וַיִּֽהְיוּ֙ כָּל־הַפְּקֻדִ֔ים שֵׁשׁ־מֵא֥וֹת אֶ֖לֶף וּשְׁלֹ֣שֶׁת אֲלָפִ֑ים וַחֲמֵ֥שׁ מֵא֖וֹת וַחֲמִשִּֽׁים׃ (מז) וְהַלְוִיִּ֖ם לְמַטֵּ֣ה אֲבֹתָ֑ם לֹ֥א הָתְפָּקְד֖וּ בְּתוֹכָֽם׃ (פ) Numbers 1:45-47 (45) All the Israelites, aged twenty years and over, enrolled by ancestral houses, all those in Israel who were able to bear arms— (46) all who were enrolled came to 603,550. (47) The Levites, however, were not recorded among them by their ancestral tribe. שמות ל״ח:כ״ה-כ״ו (כה) וְכֶ֛סֶף פְּקוּדֵ֥י הָעֵדָ֖ה מְאַ֣ת כִּכָּ֑ר וְאֶלֶף֩ וּשְׁבַ֨ע מֵא֜וֹת וַחֲמִשָּׁ֧ה וְשִׁבְעִ֛ים שֶׁ֖קֶל בְּשֶׁ֥קֶל הַקֹּֽדֶשׁ׃ (כו) בֶּ֚קַע לַגֻּלְגֹּ֔לֶת מַחֲצִ֥ית הַשֶּׁ֖קֶל בְּשֶׁ֣קֶל הַקֹּ֑דֶשׁ לְכֹ֨ל הָעֹבֵ֜ר עַל־הַפְּקֻדִ֗ים מִבֶּ֨ן עֶשְׂרִ֤ים שָׁנָה֙ וָמַ֔עְלָה לְשֵׁשׁ־מֵא֥וֹת אֶ֙לֶף֙ וּשְׁלֹ֣שֶׁת אֲלָפִ֔ים וַחֲמֵ֥שׁ מֵא֖וֹת וַחֲמִשִּֽׁים׃ Exodus 38:25-26 (25) The silver of those of the community who were recorded came to 100 talents and 1,775 shekels by the sanctuary weight: (26) a half-shekel a head, half a shekel by the sanctuary weight, for each one who was entered in the records, from the age of twenty years up, 603,550 men. שמות י״ב:ל״ז (לז) וַיִּסְע֧וּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל מֵרַעְמְסֵ֖ס סֻכֹּ֑תָה כְּשֵׁשׁ־מֵא֨וֹת אֶ֧לֶף רַגְלִ֛י הַגְּבָרִ֖ים לְבַ֥ד מִטָּֽף׃ Exodus 12:37 (37) The Israelites journeyed from Raamses to Succoth, about 600,000 men on foot, aside from children. דברים כ׳:ד׳-ח׳ (ד) כִּ֚י ה' אֱלֹֽקֵיכֶ֔ם הַהֹלֵ֖ךְ עִמָּכֶ֑ם לְהִלָּחֵ֥ם לָכֶ֛ם עִם־אֹיְבֵיכֶ֖ם לְהוֹשִׁ֥יעַ אֶתְכֶֽם׃ (ה) וְדִבְּר֣וּ הַשֹּֽׁטְרִים֮ אֶל־הָעָ֣ם לֵאמֹר֒ מִֽי־הָאִ֞ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֨ר בָּנָ֤ה בַֽיִת־חָדָשׁ֙ וְלֹ֣א חֲנָכ֔וֹ יֵלֵ֖ךְ וְיָשֹׁ֣ב לְבֵית֑וֹ פֶּן־יָמוּת֙ בַּמִּלְחָמָ֔ה וְאִ֥ישׁ אַחֵ֖ר יַחְנְכֶֽנּוּ׃ (ו) וּמִֽי־הָאִ֞ישׁ אֲשֶׁר־נָטַ֥ע כֶּ֙רֶם֙ וְלֹ֣א חִלְּל֔וֹ יֵלֵ֖ךְ וְיָשֹׁ֣ב לְבֵית֑וֹ פֶּן־יָמוּת֙ בַּמִּלְחָמָ֔ה וְאִ֥ישׁ אַחֵ֖ר יְחַלְּלֶֽנּוּ׃ (ז) וּמִֽי־הָאִ֞ישׁ אֲשֶׁר־אֵרַ֤שׂ אִשָּׁה֙ וְלֹ֣א לְקָחָ֔הּ יֵלֵ֖ךְ וְיָשֹׁ֣ב לְבֵית֑וֹ פֶּן־יָמוּת֙ בַּמִּלְחָמָ֔ה וְאִ֥ישׁ אַחֵ֖ר יִקָּחֶֽנָּה׃ (ח) וְיָסְפ֣וּ הַשֹּׁטְרִים֮ לְדַבֵּ֣ר אֶל־הָעָם֒ וְאָמְר֗וּ מִי־הָאִ֤ישׁ הַיָּרֵא֙ וְרַ֣ךְ הַלֵּבָ֔ב יֵלֵ֖ךְ וְיָשֹׁ֣ב לְבֵית֑וֹ וְלֹ֥א יִמַּ֛ס אֶת־לְבַ֥ב אֶחָ֖יו כִּלְבָבֽוֹ׃ Deuteronomy 20:4-8 (4) For it is the LORD your God who marches with you to do battle for you against your enemy, to bring you victory.” (5) Then the officials shall address the troops, as follows: “Is there anyone who has built a new house but has not dedicated it? Let him go back to his home, lest he die in battle and another dedicate it. (6) Is there anyone who has planted a vineyard but has never harvested it? Let him go back to his home, lest he die in battle and another harvest it. (7) Is there anyone who has paid the bride-price for a wife, but who has not yet married her? Let him go back to his home, lest he die in battle and another marry her.” (8) The officials shall go on addressing the troops and say, “Is there anyone afraid and disheartened? Let him go back to his home, lest the courage of his comrades flag like his.” בראשית מ״ט:ה׳-ז׳ (ה) שִׁמְע֥וֹן וְלֵוִ֖י אַחִ֑ים כְּלֵ֥י חָמָ֖ס מְכֵרֹתֵיהֶֽם׃ (ו) בְּסֹדָם֙ אַל־תָּבֹ֣א נַפְשִׁ֔י בִּקְהָלָ֖ם אַל־תֵּחַ֣ד כְּבֹדִ֑י כִּ֤י בְאַפָּם֙ הָ֣רְגוּ אִ֔ישׁ וּבִרְצֹנָ֖ם עִקְּרוּ־שֽׁוֹר׃ (ז) אָר֤וּר אַפָּם֙ כִּ֣י עָ֔ז וְעֶבְרָתָ֖ם כִּ֣י קָשָׁ֑תָה אֲחַלְּקֵ֣ם בְּיַעֲקֹ֔ב וַאֲפִיצֵ֖ם בְּיִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ (ס) Genesis 49:5-7 (5) Simeon and Levi are a pair; Their weapons are tools of lawlessness. (6) Let not my person be included in their council, Let not my being be counted in their assembly. For when angry they slay men, And when pleased they maim oxen. (7) Cursed be their anger so fierce, And their wrath so relentless. I will divide them in Jacob, Scatter them in Israel. רש"י על בראשית מ״ט:ז׳:ב׳ אחלקם ביעקב. אַפְרִידֵם זֶה מִזֶּה שֶׁלֹּא יְהֵא לֵוִי בְּמִנְיַן הַשְּׁבָטִים, וַהֲרֵי הֵם חֲלוּקִים. דָּבָר אַחֵר אֵין לְךָ עֲנִיִּים וְסוֹפְרִים וּמְלַמְּדֵי תִינוֹקוֹת אֶלָּא מִשִּׁמְעוֹן, כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיוּ נְפוֹצִים, וְשִׁבְטוֹ שֶׁל לֵוִי עֲשָׂאוֹ מְחַזֵּר עַל הַגְּרָנוֹת לַתְּרוּמוֹת וְלַמַּעַשְׂרוֹת, נָתַן לוֹ תְּפוּצָתוֹ דֶּרֶךְ כָּבוֹד: Rashi on Genesis 49:7:2 אחלקם ביעקב I WILL DIVIDE THEM IN JACOB — I shall separate them from each other inasmuch as Levi shall not be numbered among the tribes (cf. Numbers 26:62) and thus they (Simeon and Levi) will be divided (cf. Genesis Rabbah 98:5). Another interpretation is: both of these tribes will be dispersed in Israel, and this happened, for you will find that the very poor — the Scribes and elementary teachers — were all of the tribe of Simeon, and this was so in order that this tribe should be dispersed, since such poor people must wander from city to city to eke out a livelihood. As for the tribe of Levi, He made them travel round from one threshing floor to another to collect their heave offerings and tithes; thus He caused them also to be “scattered” but in a more respectable manner (Genesis Rabbah 99:6). אבן עזרא על בראשית מ״ט:ז׳:ב׳ ועברתם. כפול הטעם. וכן אחלקם. ואפיצם. והטעם שהם אלה ראויים שיפרדו ולא יתחברו יחדו והנ' מצאנו כי גורל שמעון נפל בתוך נחלת בני יהודה והנ' הוא ברשות אחר, וגם עריו לא היו דבקים זו לזו. רק מפוזרות בינות גורל יהודה. גם כן לוי שהיו לו שמנה וארבעים עיר והן מפוזרות בינות השבטים: Ibn Ezra on Genesis 49:7:2 AND THEIR WRATH. A repetition in different words of their anger. The same is true with I will divide them and And scatter them. The meaning of I will divide them in Jacob, And scatter them in Israel is, Simeon and Levi deserve to be separated and disunited. And so it was. For we find that the lot of the tribe of Simeon fell within the inheritance of the tribe of Judah. Simeon was thus under Judah’s dominion. Furthermore, its cities were discontiguous and scattered throughout the boundary of Judah. Similarly the forty-eight cities of the tribe of Levi were scattered among the other tribes. במדבר ל״ה:א׳-ח׳ (א) וַיְדַבֵּ֧ר ה' אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֖ה בְּעַֽרְבֹ֣ת מוֹאָ֑ב עַל־יַרְדֵּ֥ן יְרֵח֖וֹ לֵאמֹֽר׃ (ב) צַו֮ אֶת־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵל֒ וְנָתְנ֣וּ לַלְוִיִּ֗ם מִֽנַּחֲלַ֛ת אֲחֻזָּתָ֖ם עָרִ֣ים לָשָׁ֑בֶת וּמִגְרָ֗שׁ לֶֽעָרִים֙ סְבִיבֹ֣תֵיהֶ֔ם תִּתְּנ֖וּ לַלְוִיִּֽם׃ (ג) וְהָי֧וּ הֶֽעָרִ֛ים לָהֶ֖ם לָשָׁ֑בֶת וּמִגְרְשֵׁיהֶ֗ם יִהְי֤וּ לִבְהֶמְתָּם֙ וְלִרְכֻשָׁ֔ם וּלְכֹ֖ל חַיָּתָֽם׃ (ד) וּמִגְרְשֵׁי֙ הֶֽעָרִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר תִּתְּנ֖וּ לַלְוִיִּ֑ם מִקִּ֤יר הָעִיר֙ וָח֔וּצָה אֶ֥לֶף אַמָּ֖ה סָבִֽיב׃ (ה) וּמַדֹּתֶ֞ם מִח֣וּץ לָעִ֗יר אֶת־פְּאַת־קֵ֣דְמָה אַלְפַּ֪יִם בָּֽאַמָּ֟ה וְאֶת־פְּאַת־נֶגֶב֩ אַלְפַּ֨יִם בָּאַמָּ֜ה וְאֶת־פְּאַת־יָ֣ם ׀ אַלְפַּ֣יִם בָּֽאַמָּ֗ה וְאֵ֨ת פְּאַ֥ת צָפ֛וֹן אַלְפַּ֥יִם בָּאַמָּ֖ה וְהָעִ֣יר בַּתָּ֑וֶךְ זֶ֚ה יִהְיֶ֣ה לָהֶ֔ם מִגְרְשֵׁ֖י הֶעָרִֽים׃ (ו) וְאֵ֣ת הֶֽעָרִ֗ים אֲשֶׁ֤ר תִּתְּנוּ֙ לַלְוִיִּ֔ם אֵ֚ת שֵׁשׁ־עָרֵ֣י הַמִּקְלָ֔ט אֲשֶׁ֣ר תִּתְּנ֔וּ לָנֻ֥ס שָׁ֖מָּה הָרֹצֵ֑חַ וַעֲלֵיהֶ֣ם תִּתְּנ֔וּ אַרְבָּעִ֥ים וּשְׁתַּ֖יִם עִֽיר׃ (ז) כָּל־הֶעָרִ֗ים אֲשֶׁ֤ר תִּתְּנוּ֙ לַלְוִיִּ֔ם אַרְבָּעִ֥ים וּשְׁמֹנֶ֖ה עִ֑יר אֶתְהֶ֖ן וְאֶת־מִגְרְשֵׁיהֶֽן׃ (ח) וְהֶֽעָרִ֗ים אֲשֶׁ֤ר תִּתְּנוּ֙ מֵאֲחֻזַּ֣ת בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל מֵאֵ֤ת הָרַב֙ תַּרְבּ֔וּ וּמֵאֵ֥ת הַמְעַ֖ט תַּמְעִ֑יטוּ אִ֗ישׁ כְּפִ֤י נַחֲלָתוֹ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יִנְחָ֔לוּ יִתֵּ֥ן מֵעָרָ֖יו לַלְוִיִּֽם׃ (פ) Numbers 35:1-8 (1) The LORD spoke to Moses in the steppes of Moab at the Jordan near Jericho, saying: (2) Instruct the Israelite people to assign, out of the holdings apportioned to them, towns for the Levites to dwell in; you shall also assign to the Levites pasture land around their towns. (3) The towns shall be theirs to dwell in, and the pasture shall be for the cattle they own and all their other beasts. (4) The town pasture that you are to assign to the Levites shall extend a thousand cubits outside the town wall all around. (5) You shall measure off two thousand cubits outside the town on the east side, two thousand on the south side, two thousand on the west side, and two thousand on the north side, with the town in the center. That shall be the pasture for their towns. (6) The towns that you assign to the Levites shall comprise the six cities of refuge that you are to designate for a manslayer to flee to, to which you shall add forty-two towns. (7) Thus the total of the towns that you assign to the Levites shall be forty-eight towns, with their pasture. (8) In assigning towns from the holdings of the Israelites, take more from the larger groups and less from the smaller, so that each assigns towns to the Levites in proportion to the share it receives. שמות ל״ב:כ״ו-כ״ט (כו) וַיַּעֲמֹ֤ד מֹשֶׁה֙ בְּשַׁ֣עַר הַֽמַּחֲנֶ֔ה וַיֹּ֕אמֶר מִ֥י לַה' אֵלָ֑י וַיֵּאָסְפ֥וּ אֵלָ֖יו כָּל־בְּנֵ֥י לֵוִֽי׃ (כז) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר לָהֶ֗ם כֹּֽה־אָמַ֤ר ה' אֱלֹקֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל שִׂ֥ימוּ אִישׁ־חַרְבּ֖וֹ עַל־יְרֵכ֑וֹ עִבְר֨וּ וָשׁ֜וּבוּ מִשַּׁ֤עַר לָשַׁ֙עַר֙ בַּֽמַּחֲנֶ֔ה וְהִרְג֧וּ אִֽישׁ־אֶת־אָחִ֛יו וְאִ֥ישׁ אֶת־רֵעֵ֖הוּ וְאִ֥ישׁ אֶת־קְרֹבֽוֹ׃ (כח) וַיַּֽעֲשׂ֥וּ בְנֵֽי־לֵוִ֖י כִּדְבַ֣ר מֹשֶׁ֑ה וַיִּפֹּ֤ל מִן־הָעָם֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֔וּא כִּשְׁלֹ֥שֶׁת אַלְפֵ֖י אִֽישׁ׃ (כט) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֗ה מִלְא֨וּ יֶדְכֶ֤ם הַיּוֹם֙ לַֽה' כִּ֛י אִ֥ישׁ בִּבְנ֖וֹ וּבְאָחִ֑יו וְלָתֵ֧ת עֲלֵיכֶ֛ם הַיּ֖וֹם בְּרָכָֽה׃ Exodus 32:26-29 (26) Moses stood up in the gate of the camp and said, “Whoever is for the LORD, come here!” And all the Levites rallied to him. (27) He said to them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Each of you put sword on thigh, go back and forth from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay brother, neighbor, and kin.” (28) The Levites did as Moses had bidden; and some three thousand of the people fell that day. (29) And Moses said, “Dedicate yourselves to the LORD this day—for each of you has been against son and brother—that He may bestow a blessing upon you today.” Legends of the Jews 3:4:18 (18) Moses at the census did not take into consideration the tribe of Levi, because God had not commanded him to select a prince for this tribe as for all others, hence he drew the conclusion that they were not to be counted. Naturally he was not sure of his decision in this matter, and wavered whether or not to include the Levites in the number, when God said to him: "Do not muster the tribe of Levi, nor number them among the children of Israel." At these words Moses was frightened, for he feared that his tribe was considered unworthy of being counted with the rest, and was therefore excluded by God. But God quieted him, saying: "Do not number the Levites among the children of Israel, number them separately." There was several reasons for numbering the Levites separately. God foresaw that, owing to the sin of the spies who were sent to search the land, all men who were able to go to war would perish in the wilderness, "all that were numbered of them, according to their whole number, from twenty years old and upward." Now had the Levites been included in the sum total of Israel, the Angel of Death would have held sway over them also, wherefore God excluded them from the census of all the tribes, that they might in the future be exempt from the punishment visited upon the others, and might enter the promised land. The Levites were, furthermore, the body-guard of God, to whose care the sanctuary was entrusted-another reason for counting them separately. God in this instance conducted Himself like the king who ordered one of his officers to number his legions, but added: "Number all the legions excepting only the legion that is about me." Haredi Draft Exemption The original reason for the arrangement was the destruction of the yeshivas in Europe during the Holocaust and the wish to prevent the closing of yeshivas in Israel due to their students being drafted to the army. Today this objective no longer exists. The yeshivas are flourishing in Israel, and there is no serious worry that the draft of yeshiva students, according to any arrangement, would bring about the disappearance of this [yeshiva] institution. The Israeli Supreme Court Decision Invalidating the Law on Haredi Military Draft Postponement Shifts in the Haredi Community Seismic shifts are taking place in the ultra-Orthodox world here. Talk to their leaders, as our students did this week, and you will hear some of them acknowledge that they are in crisis. For decades, they have prided themselves on believing that their way of life was essential to Israel’s thriving, that though they are accused of being parasitic, they are actually a rich resource for Israel’s spiritual needs. Now, though, as one admitted to our students, after the way they comported themselves during Covid, some acknowledge that they have become “a burden” to Israeli society. For some, at least, their sense of mission, is cracking. Others focused on what happened at Mt. Meron on Lag Ba’Omer. “Because we have the political power to keep the state at bay,” they said, “we end up killing ourselves and each other. It’s not the state that has to change, it’s us.” What might that mean for Israel’s future? Daniel Gordis - What the fires don't mean May 12, 2021 Haredi Leftists Why the instinctive revulsion from leftist politics among ultra-Orthodox Jews? Not because they reject the notions of peace and territorial compromise. Quite the contrary: The rabbinical leaders of the Haredi community have throughout the ages been known to espouse dovish views. And not because they prefer free-market capitalism. Quite the contrary: Many members of the Haredi community, one of country’s poorest, owe their daily sustenance to generous social welfare programs provided by the state. Rather, it’s because they perceive the Israeli left as anti-religious and a threat, in particular, to the very stringent form of Judaism they hold dear. Moshe Gafni, a veteran lawmaker from the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party, made that abundantly clear in an off-the-cuff remark at this week’s annual Haaretz Israel Conference on Peace. Asked why he insisted on aligning his party with the political right despite his dovish views, Gafni responded: “We will join the left when the left breaks its ties with the Reform movement.” The Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Leftists in Israel Who Aren't Afraid to Admit It, Judy Maltz, June 15, 2017 Haaretz מטח הרקטות אל עבר אשקלון, התפרעויות בהר הבית ובמזרח ירושלים, התנגשויות אלימות בין כוחות משטרת ישראל לבין מאות צעירים פלסטינים ובינם לבין קיצוניים יהודים, פרץ הרגשות בקרב אזרחי ישראל הערבים – כל אלה מהווים עדות לפוטנציאל הנפיצות בירושלים המאיים על היציבות והביטחון גם מעבר לה. המסרים המודאגים מהעולם הערבי – בכלל זה מדינות אשר אך לא מכבר נרמלו יחסיהן עם ישראל – ומהעולם הרחב ממחישים את מרכזיותה של העיר ואת הרגישות לכל המתרחש בה ומחייבים מדיניות שקולה בטרם ייגרם נזק ליחסי ישראל – המדיניים, כלכליים ואף הביטחוניים – באזור ומעבר לו. תנועת ׳מפקדים׳, על למעלה מ-300 חבריה, כולם יוצאי מערכות הביטחון בדרגים הבכירים ביותר, משוכנעת שלישראל היכולת והעוצמה הדרושים כדי להתמודד עם כל אתגר ביטחוני. עם זאת, השתלשלות האירועים מעידה הן כי לא לכל בעיה מצוי פתרון בתחום העוצמה הצבאית והן שהתנהלות מדינית נבונה יכולה למנוע הידרדרות ביטחונית. על רקע זה, תנועה ׳מפקדים׳ קוראת לממשלה לטפל באירוע המתגלגל ברגישות ובתבונה הראויות לעיר מורכבת המקודשת על יהודים, מוסלמים ונוצרים בעולם כולו. התנועה מברכת את בית המשפט העליון על ההחלטה הנבונה לדחות הכרעתו בסוגיית שייח ג׳ראח, לבל תנוצל ע״י קיצוניים להלהטת הרוחות ברגע עתיר סיכונים זה. באותה רוח, התנועה קוראת לממשלה להפגין אחריות, להמחיש שריבונות אינה נמדדת ביכולת ליצר פרובוקציות אלא במשילות שקולה, ולרסן מסיתים – ויהיו אשר יהיו – ולהרחיקם לאלתר מאזורי החיכוך. היערכות נכונה של משטרת ישראל חיונית תמיד, אך כפי שהומחש גם היום, אין בכוחה למנוע חיכוך, התלקחות מקומית, וניצול הנסיבות לערעור הביטחון מעבר לתחומי העיר. נדרשת מנהיגות לאומית אחראית אשר תנחה את כוחות הביטחון ברוח זאת ובכך תתרום להרגעת הרוחות והכלת האירוע בטרם יסלים ויתבע קורבנות נוספים. סדרת הכשלים במגוון תחומים אשר חוותה המדינה בתקופה האחרונה מחייבת בחינה יסודית של הנחות עבודה ודפוסי פעולה. כפי שמתברר שוב בשעות אלה, הדבר נכון במיוחד בתחום הביטחון. בבוקר שאחרי האירוע תידרש ממשלת ישראל להפיק לקחים באשר לשלוש אשליות שהאירוע חשף במלוא העצמה: ההתפכחות מאשליית השקט היחסי בירושלים, תוך התעלמות מנפיצות היחסים בין פלסטינים לישראלים בעיר והרגישות האזורית והבינלאומית למתרחש בה, מחייבת שינוי יסודי בהתייחסות לצרכי כל הדתות והאוכלוסיות בעיר והקפדה בלתי מתפשרת על הסטטוס קוו במקומות הקדושים. ההתפכחות מאשליית הבידול בין יהודה ושומרון לבין רצועת עזה וביניהן למזרח ירושלים – כאילו המתרחש באחד מהם אינו משליך על האחרים – את מחירה משלמים שוב ושוב תושבי העוטף והדרום כולו, מחייבת גיבוש אסטרטגיה חלופית אשר תגייס קואליציה אזורית ובינלאומית למהלך משולב של ביסוס הפסקת האש מול הרצועה, תכנית שיקום ופיתוח נרחבת לאוכלוסייתה וחזרה מדורגת של הרשות הפלסטינית לניהולה. ההתפכחות מאשליית היציבות בין ישראל לפלסטינים במרחב כולו מחייבת גיבוש אסטרטגיה אשר תענה על צרכי ביטחון ישראל ותשלב מהלכים ליצירת אופק מדיני (גם אם מימושו רחוק), שיפור איכות החיים של כל החיים בשטחים שבשליטת ישראל, צמצום החיכוך בין ישראלים לפלסטינים, ובכך תתרום ליציבות בשטח ולסיכויי היפרדות עתידית בין שני העמים. תנועת ׳מפקדים׳ גיבשה תוכניות מעשיות למרבית הסוגיות אשר נפיצותן נחשפה באירועי השבועות והימים האחרונים. התנועה מעמידה את הידע והניסיון של מאות חבריה, בכירי עבר בצה”ל, בשב”כ, במוסד ובמשטרת ישראל, לרשות הממשלה, מערכת הביטחון וגורמים ממלכתיים אחרים במאמץ החיוני לגיבוש מדיניות חלופית בכל אחת מסוגיות הביטחון הללו facebook The barrage of rockets at Ashkelon, riots on the Temple Mount and East Jerusalem, violent clashes between Israeli regime forces and hundreds of young Palestinians, among them Jewish extremists, the surge in sentiment among Arab citizens of Israel – all of which are a testament to the explosive potential in Jerusalem that threatens stability and security beyond it. The messages concerned about the Arab world – including countries that have recently normalized relations with Israel – and from the wider world demonstrate the centrality of the city and the sensitivity to everything that takes place there, and require a prudent policy before damage to Israel's relations – political, economic, and even security – in the region and beyond. The Commanders' Movement, with its more than 300 members, all veterans of the security establishment at the highest levels, is convinced that Israel has the capability and power necessary to deal with any security challenge. However, the chain of events indicates that not every problem has a solution in the area of military might, and that wise political conduct can prevent a security deterioration. Against this backdrop, the Commanders Movement calls on the government to handle the event that unfolds with the sensitivity and wisdom of a complex city sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians around the world. The movement congratulates the Supreme Court on its wise decision to postpone its decision on the sheikh Jarrah issue, not to be exploited by extremists to whip up the winds at this high-risk moment. In the same spirit, the movement calls on the government to demonstrate responsibility, to demonstrate that sovereignty is not measured by the ability to generate provocations but in prudent governance, and to restrain insurers – whatever they may be – and to immediately distance them from the friction zones. Proper preparation of the Israeli police is always essential, but as has been shown today, it does not have the power to prevent friction, local flare-ups, and the exploitation of circumstances to undermine security beyond the city boundaries. Responsible national leadership is required to guide the security forces in this spirit, thereby contributing to calming the spirits and the inclusion of the event before escalating and claiming additional victims. The series of failures in a variety of areas experienced by the state in recent times requires a thorough examination of work assumptions and patterns of action. As it becomes clear again during these hours, this is especially true in the field of security. The morning after the event, the Israeli government will be required to draw lessons regarding three illusions that the event revealed in full force: The disillusionment with the illusion of relative quiet in Jerusalem, ignoring the explosive relations between Palestinians and Israelis in the city and the regional and international sensitivity to what is happening there, requires a fundamental change in the attitude regarding the needs of all religions and populations in the city and uncompromising adherence to the status quo in the holy places. The disillusionment with the illusion of differentiation between Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip, including East Jerusalem – as if one of them does not affect the others – has repeatedly been paid by the residents of the envelop and the entire south, requires the formulation of an alternative strategy that will enlist a regional and international coalition for a combined process of establishing a ceasefire with the Gaza Strip, a comprehensive reconstruction and development plan for its population, and a gradual return of the Palestinian Authority to its management. Disillusionment with the illusion of stability between Israel and the Palestinians throughout the region requires formulating a strategy that meets Israel's security needs and will incorporate moves to create a political horizon (even if its implementation is far away), improving the quality of life of all life in israeli-controlled territories, reducing friction between Israelis and Palestinians, and thus contributing to stability on the ground and the chances of future separation between the two peoples. The Commanders' Movement has formulated practical plans for most of the issues whose explosiveness has been exposed in recent weeks and days. The movement provides the knowledge and experience of hundreds of its members, past senior figures in the IDF, the GSS, the Mossad and the Israel Police, the government, the security establishment and state officials Commanders for Israel's Security
29 minutes | May 11, 2021
Judaism for the Accidental Tourist
Parshat Bechukotai - Judaism, along with most religions, favors consistency in practice and steadfast faith… or does it? Focusing on a single verse that has been used to support this position (Leviticus 26: 21) we argue for an alternative. Geoffrey Stern and Rabbi Adam Mintz explore happenstance, serendipity, temporarily fealty, chance, accident, the unintentional, the unexpected, or as the King James translators have God put it ”adventures with Me”. We contrast those who acquires their share in the World-to-Come only after many years of toil, and those who do so in one moment. בשעה אחת --------- ויקרא כ״ו:כ״א (כא) וְאִם־תֵּֽלְכ֤וּ עִמִּי֙ קֶ֔רִי וְלֹ֥א תֹאב֖וּ לִשְׁמֹ֣עַֽ לִ֑י וְיָסַפְתִּ֤י עֲלֵיכֶם֙ מַכָּ֔ה שֶׁ֖בַע כְּחַטֹּאתֵיכֶֽם׃ Leviticus 26:21 (21) And if you remain hostile toward Me and refuse to obey Me, I will go on smiting you sevenfold for your sins. רש"י על ויקרא כ״ו:כ״א:א׳ ואם תלכו עמי קרי. רַבּוֹתֵינוּ אָמְרוּ עֲרַאי, בְּמִקְרֶה, שֶׁאֵינוֹ אֶלָּא לִפְרָקִים, כֵּן תֵּלְכוּ עֲרַאי בְּמִצְווֹת: Rashi on Leviticus 26:21:1 ואם תלכו עמי קרי — Our Rabbis said (Sifra, Bechukotai, Chapter 5 5): this word signifies “irregularly”, “by chance” (מקרה), which is a thing that happens only occasionally; thus this means: if you will follow the commandments irregularly. Sifra, Bechukotai, Chapter 5 5 (5) 5) (Vayikra 26:21) ("And if you walk with Me laxly and do not desire to listen to Me, then I shall smite you even more, seven-fold according to your sins.") "And if you walk with Me laxly and do not desire to listen to Me": You made My Torah "incidental" in the world — I, too, will make you "incidental" in the world. "then I shall smite you, even more, seven-fold according to your sins": You transgressed seven transgressions — come and accept seven calamities. According to Samson Raphael Hirsch “keri” means “accident”. “keri” derived from karah (see Commentary, Bereshis 24:12) – denotes anything that happens without intention or beyond our reckoning. Accordingly, it is a purely relative concept. Something in it self can be intentional and premeditated, yet we did not intend it or plan it; it just happened to us and came to us by chance…. Your going with Me is only keri. Your acting in accordance with My Will is not your only intention and is not the result of a decision on your part. Your foremost resolve is not to obey ME, not to do only My Will. You no longer are opposed to My Will as a matter of principle, but My Will is not important to you. Other considerations determine you way of life, and you leave it to chance whether this brings you into conflict or accord with Me. The troubles that befell Israel accomplished at least one thing; their defection ceased to be extreme opposition, directed – as a matter of principle – against God and His Torah. But heeding God is still not their first and only aim. The illusory interests of prosperity and power remain their primary concerns. Their walking with God remains incidental: they keep God’s commandments only if these happen to coincide with their own interests. Baruch A. Levine writes in his commentary to Leviticus that the correct translation of “keri” is hostility. “Hebrew keri, “hostility” and the idiom halakh ‘im … be-keri, “to walk with … in hostility,” are unique to this chapter. Targum Onkelos translates be-kashyu, “with hardness, obstinacy” deriving keri from the root k-r-r, “to be cold.” Compare the noun form karah, “cold wave,” in Nahum 3:17, and mekerah, “cool chamber” in Judges 3:24 Shmuel David Luzzatto in his commentary to this verse, wonders why there is so much conjecture on the part of the commentators as to what keri means since, after all, Onkelos preceded them all and not only gives an obvious translation, but also clearly follows the translation that was accepted on the street, at the time. [I’m no expert in ShaDL, but he seems to take real offence at the mistranslation… he calls it a “perversion” עיוות ) שד"ל על ויקרא כ״ו:כ״א:א׳ ואם תלכו עמי קרי: נפתלי וויזל פירש אם תלכו עמי קרי, שגם במקרה הרעה הזאת שקרה לכם תלכו עמי כמו שהלכתם עמי קודם לכן; ולפירושו העיקר חסר, שהרי שיעור הכתוב לפי פירוש זה הוא "אם גם עם המקרים והמכות האלה שהבאתי עליכם עדיין תלכו עמי" ומה טעם תלכו עמי, שהיא מליצה קרובה למליצת את האלקים התהלך נח? ורמבמ"ן פירש לשון התנגדות, מגזרת לקראת, תלכו נגד רצוני, תשימו מגמת פניכם לעשות הפך רצוני; אבל לא מצאנו מלת לקראת בענין התנגדות, ובהפך מצאנו ולא הלך כפעם בפעם לקראת נחשים, שענינו ולא הלך אחרי נחשים: ומלבד זה, הנה כשהגיע אצל והלכתי עמכם בחמת קרי לא מצא ידיו ורגליו, כי מה טעם בחמת התנגדות? וכל חמה היא התנגדות, והוצרך להפריד בין הדבקים, ולתרגם בחמת קרי כאילו כתוב בחמה בקרי, ואין זה פירוש אלא עיוות הכתוב. ומי יתן ואדע מה רבו כל החכמים האלה לפנות כה וכה למצוא להם דרכים צרים ודחוקים לפרש מלת בקרי, אחרי אשר קדמם המתרגם החשוב אנקלוס ע"ה, הראשון בזמן ובמעלה בקהל המפרשים, אשר על פי הקבלה שהיתה בידו תרגם מלת בקרי במלת בקשיו, ומלות בחמת קרי במלות בתקוף רגז, והוא פירוש המתישב על פשוטו של מקרא בלי שום דוחק כלל. ואם תאמר: מאין באה למלת קרי הוראת הקושי? - אחשוב שזה נמשך ממלת קורָה, ואולם יהיה איך שיהיה, אין ספק שהיתה המלה האת ידועה לקדמונינו בקבלה מקדמוניהם, והם ידעו שהוראתה על הקושי. (בה"ע תקפ"ט עמוד 89). Shadal on Leviticus 26:21:1 ... בראשית כ״ד:י״ב (יב) וַיֹּאמַ֓ר ׀ ה' אֱלֹקֵי֙ אֲדֹנִ֣י אַבְרָהָ֔ם הַקְרֵה־נָ֥א לְפָנַ֖י הַיּ֑וֹם וַעֲשֵׂה־חֶ֕סֶד עִ֖ם אֲדֹנִ֥י אַבְרָהָֽם׃ Genesis 24:12 (12) And he said, “O LORD, God of my master Abraham, grant me good fortune this day, and deal graciously with my master Abraham: “Nothing is farther from the Jewish concept of “MiKreh” than the idea of “chance”, with which it is usually taken to be associated.” Samson Raphael Hirsch on the verse There is a clear bias against happenstance, serendipity, temporarily fealty, chance, accident, the unintentional, the unexpected, or as the King James translators put it in their notes as an alternative translation of “keri-contrary.” if ye walk at all adventures with me. (Leviticus 26: 21 King James Translators’ Notes) בראשית כ״ח:י״א (יא) וַיִּפְגַּ֨ע בַּמָּק֜וֹם וַיָּ֤לֶן שָׁם֙ כִּי־בָ֣א הַשֶּׁ֔מֶשׁ וַיִּקַּח֙ מֵאַבְנֵ֣י הַמָּק֔וֹם וַיָּ֖שֶׂם מְרַֽאֲשֹׁתָ֑יו וַיִּשְׁכַּ֖ב בַּמָּק֥וֹם הַהֽוּא׃ Genesis 28:11 (11) He came upon a certain place and stopped there for the night, for the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of that place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. ספורנו על בראשית כ״ח:י״א:א׳ ויפגע במקום קרה לו שהגיע אל מקום שלא כיון אליו וענין המקום הוא מקום ללון לאורחים שהי' מתוקן אז בכל עיר ועיר ברחוב העיר על הרוב ועל כל זה אמרו המלאכים ללוט כי ברחוב נלין וכן בענין פלגש בגבעה רק ברחוב אל תלן: Sforno on Genesis 28:11:1 ויפגע במקום, it happened that he came to a place he had not intended to go to at all. The meaning of the word המקום is that it was a place designed to accommodate travelers overnight. Every town had such an inn in its public square. This is also why the angels who came to Lot said (19,20) כי ברחוב נלין, “we will sleep in (the inn) in the public square. The same expression is also used in connection with the פלגש בגבעה in Judges 19,20 where we read רק ברחוב אל תלין “only do not spend the night in the public inn.” משנה אבות ב׳:י״ג (יג) רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן אוֹמֵר, הֱוֵי זָהִיר בִּקְרִיאַת שְׁמַע וּבַתְּפִלָּה. וּכְשֶׁאַתָּה מִתְפַּלֵּל, אַל תַּעַשׂ תְּפִלָּתְךָ קֶבַע, אֶלָּא רַחֲמִים וְתַחֲנוּנִים לִפְנֵי הַמָּקוֹם בָּרוּךְ הוּא, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (יואל ב) כִּי חַנּוּן וְרַחוּם הוּא אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם וְרַב חֶסֶד וְנִחָם עַל הָרָעָה. וְאַל תְּהִי רָשָׁע בִּפְנֵי עַצְמְךָ: Pirkei Avot 2:13 (13) Rabbi Shimon said: Be careful with the reading of Shema and the prayer, And when you pray, do not make your prayer something automatic, but a plea for compassion before God, for it is said: “for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in kindness, and renouncing punishment” (Joel 2:13); And be not wicked in your own esteem. מִקְרָא miqra: a convocation, convoking, reading https://biblehub.com/hebrew/4744.htm מִקְרֶה miqreh: accident, chance, fortune https://biblehub.com/hebrew/4745.htm ויקרא א׳:א׳ (א) וַיִּקְרָ֖א אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֑ה וַיְדַבֵּ֤ר ה' אֵלָ֔יו מֵאֹ֥הֶל מוֹעֵ֖ד לֵאמֹֽר׃ Leviticus 1:1 (1) The LORD called to Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying: ויקרא כ״ג:כ״א (כא) וּקְרָאתֶ֞ם בְּעֶ֣צֶם ׀ הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֗ה מִֽקְרָא־קֹ֙דֶשׁ֙ יִהְיֶ֣ה לָכֶ֔ם כָּל־מְלֶ֥אכֶת עֲבֹדָ֖ה לֹ֣א תַעֲשׂ֑וּ חֻקַּ֥ת עוֹלָ֛ם בְּכָל־מוֹשְׁבֹ֥תֵיכֶ֖ם לְדֹרֹֽתֵיכֶֽם׃ Leviticus 23:21 (21) On that same day you shall hold a celebration; it shall be a sacred occasion for you; you shall not work at your occupations. This is a law for all time in all your settlements, throughout the ages. עבודה זרה י״ז א:ט״ז בכה רבי ואמר יש קונה עולמו בכמה שנים ויש קונה עולמו בשעה אחת ואמר רבי לא דיין לבעלי תשובה שמקבלין אותן אלא שקורין אותן רבי Avodah Zarah 17a:16 When Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi heard this story of Elazar ben Durdayya, he wept and said: There is one who acquires his share in the World-to-Come only after many years of toil, and there is one who acquires his share in the World-to-Come in one moment. And Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi further says: Not only are penitents accepted, but they are even called: Rabbi, as the Divine Voice referred to Elazar ben Durdayya as Rabbi Elazar ben Durdayya.
32 minutes | May 3, 2021
Handicapping the Torah
Parshat Emor - When are we permitted or even obligated to update the ethical aesthetic of the Torah? If the Torah reflects a common bias of its cultural milieu such as the inferiority of the physically maimed or handicapped when and how are we to update this for an evolved perspective? Recorded live on the Madlik Friday a 4:00 Eastern Disruptive Torah Clubhouse group. Geoffrey Stern and Rabbi Adam Mintz discuss Leviticus 21; 18-23 and the disenfranchisement of the handicapped and deformed from leadership roles in the Priestly caste. After the Bible adjures us to be Holy…. as God is Holy and to pay the laborer on time and embrace the stranger, we can be forgiven if we are disappointed that when it comes to leadership positions, the Bible exhibits such an old world bias against the less-than-perfect. When it comes to serving God, the Bible excludes the handicapped explicitly, and women, without even the courtesy of honorable mention. ויקרא כ״א:י״ח-כ״ג (יח) כִּ֥י כָל־אִ֛ישׁ אֲשֶׁר־בּ֥וֹ מ֖וּם לֹ֣א יִקְרָ֑ב אִ֤ישׁ עִוֵּר֙ א֣וֹ פִסֵּ֔חַ א֥וֹ חָרֻ֖ם א֥וֹ שָׂרֽוּעַ׃ (יט) א֣וֹ אִ֔ישׁ אֲשֶׁר־יִהְיֶ֥ה ב֖וֹ שֶׁ֣בֶר רָ֑גֶל א֖וֹ שֶׁ֥בֶר יָֽד׃ (כ) אֽוֹ־גִבֵּ֣ן אוֹ־דַ֔ק א֖וֹ תְּבַלֻּ֣ל בְּעֵינ֑וֹ א֤וֹ גָרָב֙ א֣וֹ יַלֶּ֔פֶת א֖וֹ מְר֥וֹחַ אָֽשֶׁךְ׃ (כא) כָּל־אִ֞ישׁ אֲשֶׁר־בּ֣וֹ מ֗וּם מִזֶּ֙רַע֙ אַהֲרֹ֣ן הַכֹּהֵ֔ן לֹ֣א יִגַּ֔שׁ לְהַקְרִ֖יב אֶת־אִשֵּׁ֣י ה' מ֣וּם בּ֔וֹ אֵ֚ת לֶ֣חֶם אֱלֹקָ֔יו לֹ֥א יִגַּ֖שׁ לְהַקְרִֽיב׃ (כב) לֶ֣חֶם אֱלֹקָ֔יו מִקָּדְשֵׁ֖י הַקֳּדָשִׁ֑ים וּמִן־הַקֳּדָשִׁ֖ים יֹאכֵֽל׃ (כג) אַ֣ךְ אֶל־הַפָּרֹ֜כֶת לֹ֣א יָבֹ֗א וְאֶל־הַמִּזְבֵּ֛חַ לֹ֥א יִגַּ֖שׁ כִּֽי־מ֣וּם בּ֑וֹ וְלֹ֤א יְחַלֵּל֙ אֶת־מִקְדָּשַׁ֔י כִּ֛י אֲנִ֥י ה' מְקַדְּשָֽׁם׃ Leviticus 21:18-23 (18) No one at all who has a defect shall be qualified: no man who is blind, or lame, or has a limb too short or too long; (19) no man who has a broken leg or a broken arm; (20) or who is a hunchback, or a dwarf, or who has a growth in his eye, or who has a boil-scar, or scurvy, or crushed testes. (21) No man among the offspring of Aaron the priest who has a defect shall be qualified to offer the LORD’s offering by fire; having a defect, he shall not be qualified to offer the food of his God. (22) He may eat of the food of his God, of the most holy as well as of the holy; (23) but he shall not enter behind the curtain or come near the altar, for he has a defect. He shall not profane these places sacred to Me, for I the LORD have sanctified them. משנה תורה, הלכות עדות ט׳:א׳ (א) עֲשָׂרָה מִינֵי פַּסְלוּת הֵם כָּל מִי שֶׁנִּמְצָא בּוֹ אֶחָד מֵהֶן הֲרֵי הוּא פָּסוּל לְעֵדוּת. וְאֵלּוּ הֵן. הַנָּשִׁים. וְהָעֲבָדִים. וְהַקְּטַנִּים. וְהַשּׁוֹטִים. וְהַחֵרְשִׁים. וְהַסּוּמִים. וְהָרְשָׁעִים. וְהַבְּזוּיִין. וְהַקְּרוֹבִין. וְהַנּוֹגְעִין בְּעֵדוּתָן. הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ עֲשָׂרָה: Mishneh Torah, Testimony 9:1 There are ten categories of disqualifications. Any person belonging to one of them is not acceptable as a witness. They are: a) women; b) servants; c) minors; d) mentally or emotionally unstable individuals; e) deaf-mutes; f) the blind; g) the wicked; h) debased individuals; i) relatives; j) people who have a vested interest in the matter; a total of ten. משנה תורה, הלכות עדות ט׳:י״א-י״ב (יא) הַחֵרֵשׁ כְּשׁוֹטֶה שֶׁאֵין דַּעְתּוֹ נְכוֹנָה וְאֵינוֹ בֶּן מִצְוֹת. וְאֶחָד חֵרֵשׁ מְדַבֵּר וְאֵינוֹ שׁוֹמֵעַ אוֹ שׁוֹמֵעַ וְאֵינוֹ מְדַבֵּר. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁרְאִיָּתוֹ רְאִיָּה מְעֻלָּה וְדַעְתּוֹ נְכוֹנָה צָרִיךְ לְהָעִיד בְּבֵית דִּין בְּפִיו. אוֹ שֶׁיִּהְיֶה רָאוּי לְהָעִיד בְּפִיו. וְיִהְיֶה רָאוּי לִשְׁמֹעַ הַדַּיָּנִים וְהָאִיּוּם שֶׁמְּאַיְּמִין עָלָיו. וְכֵן אִם נִשְׁתַּתֵּק אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנִּבְדַּק בְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁבּוֹדְקִין לְעִנְיַן גִּטִּין וְנִמְצֵאת עֵדוּתוֹ מְכֻוֶּנֶת וְהֵעִיד בְּפָנֵינוּ בִּכְתַב יָדוֹ אֵינָהּ עֵדוּת כְּלָל. חוּץ מֵעֵדוּת אִשָּׁה לְפִי שֶׁבְּעִגּוּנָהּ הֵקֵלּוּ: (יב) הַסּוּמִים אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁמַּכִּירִין הַקּוֹל וְיָדְעוּ הָאֲנָשִׁים הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ פְּסוּלִין מִן הַתּוֹרָה. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא ה א) "וְהוּא עֵד אוֹ רָאָה" מִי שֶׁהוּא רָאוּי לִרְאוֹת הוּא שֶׁמֵּעִיד. וְהַסּוּמָא בְּאַחַת מֵעֵינָיו כָּשֵׁר לְהָעִיד: Mishneh Torah, Testimony 9:11-12 A deaf-mute is equivalent to a mentally unstable person, for he is not of sound mind and is therefore not obligated in the observance of the mitzvot. Both a deaf person who can speak and a person who can hear, but is mute is unacceptable to serve as a witness. Even though he sees excellently and his mind is sound, he must deliver testimony orally in court or be fit to deliver testimony orally and must be fit to hear the judges and the warning they administer to him. Similarly, if a person loses the ability to speak, even though his intellectual faculties have been checked as a husband is checked with regard to a bill of divorce, he testifies in writing, and his testimony is to the point, it is not accepted at all, except with regard to releasing a women from marriage, for leniency was granted so that women will not be forced to live alone. The blind, although they can recognize the voices of the litigants and know their identities, are not acceptable as witnesses according to Scriptural Law. This is derived from Leviticus 5:1: “And he witnessed or saw,” which implies that one who can see may serve as a witness. A person who is blind in one eye is fit to serve as a witness. נדרים ג׳ א:ט׳ אִי כְּתַב נֶדֶר לִנְדֹּר כְּדִכְתַב נָזִיר לְהַזִּיר כִּדְקָאָמְרַתְּ לָא צָרִיךְ הֶיקֵּישָׁא הַשְׁתָּא דִּכְתִיב לִנְדֹּר נֶדֶר דִּבְּרָה תוֹרָה כִלְשׁוֹן בְּנֵי אָדָם Nedarim 3a:9 The Gemara answers: If the Torah had written: A vow to utter [neder lindor], as it wrote with regard to a nazirite: “The vow of a nazirite, to consecrate himself [nazir lehazir],” it would be as you said, and there would be no need for the juxtaposition. Now that it is written: “To utter a vow [lindor neder],” it is possible to say that the Torah spoke in the language of men, and nothing can be derived from the phrase lindor neder, which is simply a common manner of speech. רמב"ן על בראשית ו׳:ו׳:א׳ וינחם ה' ויתעצב אל לבו דבר תורה כלשון בני אדם והענין כי מרו ועצבו את רוח קדשו בפשעיהם וענין "אל לבו" כי לא הגיד זה לנביא שלוח אליהם וכן הלשון במחושב כדרך לדבר אל לבי (בראשית כ״ד:מ״ה) וזולתו ובבראשית רבה (בראשית רבה כ״ז:ד׳) אמרו בזה ענין נכבד במשל שהביאו מן הסרסור והאדריכל והוא סוד גדול לא ניתן ליכתב והיודעו יתבונן למה אמר בכאן שם המיוחד ובכל הפרשה וענין המבול שם אלקים: Ramban on Genesis 6:6:1 AND THE ETERNAL REPENTED… AND IT GRIEVED HIM AT HIS HEART. The Torah speaks in the language of men. The purport is that they rebelled, and grieved His holy spirit514Isaiah 63:10. with their sins. The sense of the expression at His heart is that He did not tell this to a prophet, a messenger of G-d. This expression is also found with respect to thinking, just as: to speak to my heart,515Genesis 24:45. and other similar expressions. In Bereshith Rabbah51627:6. there is a significant matter concerning this, expressed by a parable which the Rabbis bring of an agent and an architect.517Rabbi Berachyah said: “It is like a king who had a palace built by an architect, and when he saw it, it displeased him. Against whom is he to complain? Surely against the architect.” Rabbi Assi said: “It is like one who traded through an agent and suffered a loss. Whom does he blame? The agent. Here too It grieved Him at His heart.” This constitutes a great secret which is not permitted to be written down. The one who knows it will understand why here the Tetragrammaton is written while in the whole of the rest of the chapter and the account of the flood, the name Elokim is used. דברים ד׳:ו׳ (ו) וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם֮ וַעֲשִׂיתֶם֒ כִּ֣י הִ֤וא חָכְמַתְכֶם֙ וּבִ֣ינַתְכֶ֔ם לְעֵינֵ֖י הָעַמִּ֑ים אֲשֶׁ֣ר יִשְׁמְע֗וּן אֵ֚ת כָּל־הַחֻקִּ֣ים הָאֵ֔לֶּה וְאָמְר֗וּ רַ֚ק עַם־חָכָ֣ם וְנָב֔וֹן הַגּ֥וֹי הַגָּד֖וֹל הַזֶּֽה׃ Deuteronomy 4:6 (6) Observe them faithfully, for that will be proof of your wisdom and discernment to other peoples, who on hearing of all these laws will say, “Surely, that great nation is a wise and discerning people.” We can read this verse through its surface meaning: The mitzvot are obviously good, attractive, and compelling, such that doing them will quite evidently evoke appreciation—and even envy—from outsiders who encounter a life based on them. Moshe here is exhorting the people to recognize what a good thing they have. But one need not dig too much deeper to hear that the text here is not necessarily making just a descriptive claim here, but a prescriptive one as well. The Torah and its mitzvot are supposed to evoke this sort of admiration from outsiders. If it does not, something is wrong. It is not a far leap from here to suggest that interpretations and applications of the Torah that evoke revulsion from external observers are potentially suspect and in need of deeper thought and reevaluation. Rabbi Ethan Tucker - Ethical Norms as the Foundation of Torah Dor Revi’i, R. Moshe Shmuel Glasner, Hungary, 19 th 20 th c. when human opinion has squarely and resolutely lined up against the morality of a given activity, that is a religiously significant fact, but not because of the public relations concerns. Rather, a universally shared revulsion at something is a barometer of that thing being beyond the bounds of basic human decency. And that, in turn, should make us realize that the thing in question is regulated by the internal Torah command of תהיו קדשים ,the demand to be holy. This means that, even on a 12 desert island populated entirely by Jews, the awareness of the human consensus on this issue pushes those Jews to adopt that universally accepted standard from within, as they tap into their own basic humanity. But the strongest proof for this exegesis comes from the Torah’s self description with which we began this essay. Building on Rambam’s use of Devarim 4:6 in the intellectual realm, R. Glasner now applies it to the realm of ethics, morality and human decency. The story the Torah tells us about itself is that the way of life it prescribes for the Jewish people is meant to be the envy of the world. People are meant to encounter an observant Jew and to say, “This seems like the most fantastic and wise way of living one’s life that I can imagine.” The moment that a person’s interpretation of Torah would evoke the deep disgust of the average civilized person is the moment when the Torah’s intended story about itself has been lost. For R. Glasner, it is a bedrock principle of the Torah, a core internal principle of Jewish law, that Jews can never be perceived to be on a lower level than their Gentile neighbors. (Tucker ibid)
31 minutes | Apr 26, 2021
Thou Shalt Not Lie Alone
Acharei Mot-Kedoshim (Leviticus 16-20) A live recording of Madlik Disruptive Torah on Clubhouse every Friday at 4:00pm. Today we have a spirited discussion with Rabbi Adam Mintz on the Bible’s first commandment to mankind that it is not good to be alone. We discuss how this relates to gender definition and gender preferences. Link to Sefaria Source Sheet: www.sefaria.org/sheets/316534 ויקרא י״ט:א׳-ב׳ (א) וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר ה' אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר (ב) דַּבֵּ֞ר אֶל־כָּל־עֲדַ֧ת בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל וְאָמַרְתָּ֥ אֲלֵהֶ֖ם קְדֹשִׁ֣ים תִּהְי֑וּ כִּ֣י קָד֔וֹשׁ אֲנִ֖י ה' אֱלֹקֵיכֶֽם׃ Leviticus 19:1-2 (1) The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: (2) Speak to the whole Israelite community and say to them: You shall be holy, for I, the LORD your God, am holy. Chapter 19 of Leviticus has been characterized as a parallel to the Ten Commandments. Rav Hiyya explained that the reason it was to be read “unto all the congregation” is because most of the essential laws of the Torah can be derived from it. (Leviticus Rabba 24). I invite you to read it! It is in my humble opinion, far superior to the Ten Commandments. It’s lyrical in the way it seamlessly moves from the ethical to ritual. It calls the lie to anyone who would distinguish between ritual law and moral law…. As Everett Fox writes: “[It] is wide-ranging and rhetorically powerful. It extends holiness to virtually all areas of life – family, calendar, cult, business civil and criminal law, social relations, and sexuality.” (The Five Books of Moses, Everett Fox p. 600.) What detracts from the breadth of vision, is the emphasis in the preceding and following chapters (Leviticus 18, also read at the afternoon service of Yom Kippur, and chapter 20) which seem to be fixated on sexual perversion of every kind.. and I mean every kind, including incest, bestiality and homosexuality. I would have you consider that much of what the Torah detests about sexual deviation, has nothing to do with being puritanical and disrespectful of alternative gender definitions and preferences. To the contrary, it prescribes that every human being enter a relationship and find a help mate. Rather it is a rejection of the individual self sufficiency which belongs only to God and a rejection of the inbreeding necessary to support the autocratic rule and tribal caste system of the Canaanites and the Ancient Near East. בראשית א׳:כ״ז (כז) וַיִּבְרָ֨א אֱלֹקִ֤ים ׀ אֶת־הָֽאָדָם֙ בְּצַלְמ֔וֹ בְּצֶ֥לֶם אֱלֹקִ֖ים בָּרָ֣א אֹת֑וֹ זָכָ֥ר וּנְקֵבָ֖ה בָּרָ֥א אֹתָֽם׃ Genesis 1:27 (27) And God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. בראשית ה׳:א׳-ב׳ (א) זֶ֣ה סֵ֔פֶר תּוֹלְדֹ֖ת אָדָ֑ם בְּי֗וֹם בְּרֹ֤א אֱלֹקִים֙ אָדָ֔ם בִּדְמ֥וּת אֱלֹקִ֖ים עָשָׂ֥ה אֹתֽוֹ׃ (ב) זָכָ֥ר וּנְקֵבָ֖ה בְּרָאָ֑ם וַיְבָ֣רֶךְ אֹתָ֗ם וַיִּקְרָ֤א אֶת־שְׁמָם֙ אָדָ֔ם בְּי֖וֹם הִבָּֽרְאָֽם׃ (ס) Genesis 5:1-2 (1) This is the record of Adam’s line.—When God created man, He made him in the likeness of God; (2) male and female He created them. And when they were created, He blessed them and called them Man.— בראשית ב׳:י״ח (יח) וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ ה' אֱלֹקִ֔ים לֹא־ט֛וֹב הֱי֥וֹת הָֽאָדָ֖ם לְבַדּ֑וֹ אֶֽעֱשֶׂהּ־לּ֥וֹ עֵ֖זֶר כְּנֶגְדּֽוֹ׃ Genesis 2:18 (18) The LORD God said, “It is not good for man to be alone; I will make a fitting helper for him.” רש"י על בראשית ב׳:י״ח:א׳ לא טוב היות וגו'. שֶׁלֹּא יֹאמְרוּ שְׁתֵּי רָשׁוּיוֹת הֵן, הַקָּבָּ"ה בָעֶליוֹנִים יָחִיד וְאֵין לוֹ זוּג, וְזֶה בַתַּחְתּוֹנִים וְאֵין לוֹ זוּג (בראשית רבה): Rashi on Genesis 2:18:1 'לא טוב היות וגו IT IS NOT GOOD etc. — I shall make an help meet for him in order that people may not say that there are two Deities, the Holy One, blessed be He, the only One among the celestial Beings without a mate, and this one (Adam), the only one among the terrestrial beings, without a mate (Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer 12). דברים ד׳:ל״ה (לה) אַתָּה֙ הָרְאֵ֣תָ לָדַ֔עַת כִּ֥י ה' ה֣וּא הָאֱלֹקִ֑ים אֵ֥ין ע֖וֹד מִלְבַדּֽוֹ׃ Deuteronomy 4:35 (35) It has been clearly demonstrated to you that the LORD alone is God; there is none beside Him. תורה תמימה על התורה, דברים ד׳:ל״ה:ג׳ אין עוד מלבדו. זה הוא מלכות Torah Temimah on Torah, Deuteronomy 4:35:3 There is none Besides Him: This is Kingship... בראשית רבה ח׳:א׳ (א) וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹקִים נַעֲשֶׂה אָדָם בְּצַלְמֵנוּ כִּדְמוּתֵנוּ (בראשית א, כו), רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן פָּתַח (תהלים קלט, ה): אָחוֹר וָקֶדֶם צַרְתָּנִי וגו', אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן אִם זָכָה אָדָם, אוֹכֵל שְׁנֵי עוֹלָמוֹת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: אָחוֹר וָקֶדֶם צַרְתָּנִי, וְאִם לָאו הוּא בָּא לִתֵּן דִּין וְחֶשְׁבּוֹן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהלים קלט, ה): וַתָּשֶׁת עָלַי כַּפֶּכָה. אָמַר רַבִּי יִרְמְיָה בֶּן אֶלְעָזָר בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁבָּרָא הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֶת אָדָם הָרִאשׁוֹן, אַנְדְּרוֹגִינוֹס בְּרָאוֹ, הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב (בראשית ה, ב): זָכָר וּנְקֵבָה בְּרָאָם. אָמַר רַבִּי שְׁמוּאֵל בַּר נַחְמָן, בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁבָּרָא הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֶת אָדָם הָרִאשׁוֹן, דְּיוּ פַּרְצוּפִים בְּרָאוֹ, וְנִסְּרוֹ וַעֲשָׂאוֹ גַּבִּים, גַּב לְכָאן וְגַב לְכָאן. אֲתִיבוּן לֵיהּ וְהָכְתִיב (בראשית ב, כא): וַיִּקַּח אַחַת מִצַּלְעֹתָיו, אֲמַר לְהוֹן מִתְּרֵין סִטְרוֹהִי, הֵיךְ מָה דְאַתְּ אָמַר (שמות כו, כ): וּלְצֶלַע הַמִּשְׁכָּן, דִּמְתַרְגְּמִינַן וְלִסְטַר מַשְׁכְּנָא וגו'. Bereishit Rabbah 8:1 (1) ... Said R’ Yirmiyah ben Elazar: In the hour when the Holy One created the first human, He created him [as] an androgyne/androginos, as it is said, “male and female He created them”. Said R’ Shmuel bar Nachmani: In the hour when the Holy One created the first human, He created [for] him a double-face/di-prosopon/ du-par’tsufin, and sawed him and made him backs, a back here and a back [t]here, as it is said, “Back/achor and before/qedem You formed me” [Ps 139:5]. They objected to him: But it says, “He took one of his ribs/ts’la`ot . . . ” [Gn 2:21]! He said to them: [It means] “[one] of his sides/sit’rohi”, just as you would say, “And for the side/tsela` of the Tabernacle/ mishkan” [Ex 26:20], which they translate [in Aramaic] “for the side/seter”. ברכות ס״א א:ה׳ אִי נָמֵי כִּדְרַבִּי יִרְמְיָה בֶּן אֶלְעָזָר. דְּאָמַר רַבִּי יִרְמְיָה בֶּן אֶלְעָזָר: דּוּ פַּרְצוּפִין בָּרָא הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בָּאָדָם הָרִאשׁוֹן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״אָחוֹר וָקֶדֶם צַרְתָּנִי״. Berakhot 61a:5 Alternatively, this duplication in the language of creation can be explained in accordance with the statement of Rabbi Yirmeya ben Elazar, as Rabbi Yirmeya ben Elazar said: The Holy One, Blessed be He, created two faces [du partzufin] on Adam the first man; he was created both male and female in a single body, as it is stated: “You have formed me [tzartani] behind and before” (Psalms 139:5); tzartani is derived from the word tzura [face]. God formed two faces on a single creation, back and front. The First Adam, Androgyny, and the ʿAin Ghazal Two-headed Busts in Context Author(s): Irit Ziffer Source: Israel Exploration Journal , 2007, Vol. 57, No. 2 (2007), pp. 129-152 Published by: Israel Exploration Society Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/27927170 Two-headed human statues with a common torso are a known feature of the ancient Near East, beginning with the inception of monumental statuary in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period (the first half of the seventh millennium BCE) at ‘Ain Ghazal, north-east of Amman. The following survey focuses on the two headed statues from ‘Ain Ghazal the earliest of their kind to have been discovered so far in an attempt to establish their significance. The Sages in early Talmudic times knew the myth of the primeval androgyne and used it to account for the contradiction between the two stories of creation. In the Midrash, the first human being, the 'Adam', was androgynous, incorporating the genitals of both sexes, and the tale of the creation from the rib in Genesis 2 provides for the separation of the two sexes of the primeval body, reconstructing them as two human bodies. According to the Babylonian Talmud (Berakhot 61a; Erubin 18a), Genesis Rabba 8.1 and Leviticus Rabba 14 (fifth century), the man was created dipros?pos, 'two faced' (VDliHD-n), that is, male and female (Meeks 1974:186). 'Two faced' is a way of describing Adam, the first human being, with out the use of corporeal or sexual terms, a euphemism for the bisexual progenitor of the human race. Historically speaking, androgyny symbolizes the perfect human being: female attributes cast into a male vessel. In the Mesopotamian creation myths, the human body is a divine creation made of clay in which divine ingredients are mixed. It is not defined according to gender; it was produced in a single process before the existence of sex and gender, and therefore encompasses every possible gender. Only in the second creation were male and female couples created with genital organs vital for the reproduction of the species (Asher-Greve 1998: 29). בראשית ב׳:כ״ג (כג) וַיֹּאמֶר֮ הָֽאָדָם֒ זֹ֣את הַפַּ֗עַם עֶ֚צֶם מֵֽעֲצָמַ֔י וּבָשָׂ֖ר מִבְּשָׂרִ֑י לְזֹאת֙ יִקָּרֵ֣א אִשָּׁ֔ה כִּ֥י מֵאִ֖ישׁ לֻֽקֳחָה־זֹּֽאת׃ Genesis 2:23 (23) Then the man said, “This one at last Is bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh. This one shall be called Woman, For from man was she taken.” רש"י על בראשית ב׳:כ״ג:א׳ זאת הפעם. מְלַמֵּד שֶׁבָּא אָדָם עַל כָּל בְּהֵמָה וְחַיָּה, וְלֹא נִתְקָרְרָה דַעְתּוֹ בָּהֶם (יבמות ס"ג): Rashi on Genesis 2:23:1 זאת הפעם THIS NOW — This teaches that Adam endeavoured to find a companion among all cattle and beasts, but found no satisfaction except in Eve (Yevamot 63a). בראשית ב׳:כ״ד (כד) עַל־כֵּן֙ יַֽעֲזָב־אִ֔ישׁ אֶת־אָבִ֖יו וְאֶת־אִמּ֑וֹ וְדָבַ֣ק בְּאִשְׁתּ֔וֹ וְהָי֖וּ לְבָשָׂ֥ר אֶחָֽד׃ Genesis 2:24 (24) Hence a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, so that they become one flesh. רש"י על בראשית ב׳:כ״ד:א׳ על כן יעזב איש. רוּחַ הַקֹּדֶשׁ אוֹמְרָה כֵן לֶאֱסֹר עַל בְּנֵי נֹחַ הָעֲרָיוֹת (סנהדרין נ"ז): Rashi on Genesis 2:24:1 על כן יעזב איש THEREFORE A MAN LEAVETH — The Divine Spirit says this, thus prohibiting immoral relationship to the “Sons of Noah” also (Sanhedrin 57b). in other words, the source of unchaste sexual behavior (“Arayot” in Hebrew) is when a man does not leave his father and mother… sister, brother etc. but mates with them! סנהדרין נ״ז ב:י׳-י״א אימא בת נח שזינתה לא תיהרג דכתיב (בראשית ב, כד) על כן יעזב איש ולא אשה א"ל הכי אמר רב יהודה (בראשית ב, כד) והיו לבשר אחד הדר ערבינהו קראת"ר איש מה תלמוד לומר (ויקרא יח, ו) איש איש לרבות את הכותים שמוזהרין על העריות כישראל Sanhedrin 57b:10-11 Rav Avya asked further: Why not say that a female descendant of Noah who committed adultery should not be executed, as it is written: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24); a man, but not a woman? Rav Pappa said to him: This is what Rav Yehuda says: At the end of the verse it states: “And they shall be one flesh.” The verse then combines men and women, indicating that the same halakha applies to both. § The Sages taught in a baraita with regard to the verse: “No one [ish ish] shall approach any that is kin to him, to uncover their nakedness” (Leviticus 18:6): The verse could have stated: One [ish] shall not approach. Why must the verse state “no one”? It is to include the gentiles, who are prohibited from engaging in forbidden sexual relations, as Jews are. ויקרא כ׳:י״ז (יז) וְאִ֣ישׁ אֲשֶׁר־יִקַּ֣ח אֶת־אֲחֹת֡וֹ בַּת־אָבִ֣יו א֣וֹ בַת־אִ֠מּוֹ וְרָאָ֨ה אֶת־עֶרְוָתָ֜הּ וְהִֽיא־תִרְאֶ֤ה אֶת־עֶרְוָתוֹ֙ חֶ֣סֶד ה֔וּא וְנִ֨כְרְת֔וּ לְעֵינֵ֖י בְּנֵ֣י עַמָּ֑ם עֶרְוַ֧ת אֲחֹת֛וֹ גִּלָּ֖ה עֲוֺנ֥וֹ יִשָּֽׂא׃ Leviticus 20:17 (17) If a man marries his sister, the daughter of either his father or his mother, so that he sees her nakedness and she sees his nakedness, it is a disgrace; they shall be excommunicated in the sight of their kinsfolk. He has uncovered the nakedness of his sister, he shall bear his guilt. רש"י על ויקרא כ׳:י״ז:א׳ חסד הוא. לְשׁוֹן אֲרַמִּי חֶרְפָּה חִסּוּדָא; וּמִדְרָשׁוֹ אִם תֹּאמַר קַיִן נָשָׂא אֲחוֹתוֹ חֶסֶד עָשָׂה הַמָּקוֹם, לִבְנוֹת עוֹלָמוֹ מִמֶּנּוּ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהילים פ"ט), עוֹלָם חֶסֶד יִבָּנֶה (ספרא; סנהדרין נ"ח): Rashi on Leviticus 20:17:1 חסד הוא IT IS A WICKED THING — It is an Aramaic expression, the Hebrew חרפה (disgrace) being in that language חסודא (cf. Onkelos on Genesis 34:14). A Midrashic explanation of it (of חסד הוא) is; If you should say, "But Cain married his sister!" then I reply, Cain's case was an exceptional one; an act of kindness (חסד) was done by the Omnipresent in order that His world might be built up through him (i. e. He made the propagation of the human race possible through this union), as it is said (Psalms 89:3) "The world was built up through חסד, loving-kindness" (Sifra, Kedoshim, Chapter 11 11; Sanhedrin 58b). The biblical premise remains… inbreeding is a rejection of God and a rejection of God’s role as man’s only ruler. Royalty wants to mix and re-mix it’s blood to protect their superior “blue” blood and to justify the subjugation of the commoner and stranger. God wants us, wherever possible, to leave our father and mother and create our bloodline with our fellow human commoners. ויקרא י״ח:כ״ב (כב) וְאֶ֨ת־זָכָ֔ר לֹ֥א תִשְׁכַּ֖ב מִשְׁכְּבֵ֣י אִשָּׁ֑ה תּוֹעֵבָ֖ה הִֽוא׃ Leviticus 18:22 (22) Do not lie with a male as one lies with a woman; it is an abhorrence. To claim that one can have a child, without the need of the other sex, is to claim divinity…. and therefore an abomination.
30 minutes | Apr 20, 2021
Home Alone no more
Geoffrey Stern and Rabbi Adam Mintz in conversation of Madlik Clubhouse. Recorded on the weekly 4:00pm Eastern disruptive Torah group and a continuation of re-evaluating Jewish institutions with fresh eyes after the plague of Covid-19. This week we look at the home and towards the time when we will re-open our home as we re-open our temples. We explore the relationship between the home and the temple. The Mishkan and the Mishkan Ma'at. Which came first. Which holds the secret to the perseverance of the Jewish People... and what we can do about it. Link to Sefarioa Source Sheet: www.sefaria.org/sheets/314697 ויקרא י״ד:ל״ד-נ״ג (לד) כִּ֤י תָבֹ֙אוּ֙ אֶל־אֶ֣רֶץ כְּנַ֔עַן אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֲנִ֛י נֹתֵ֥ן לָכֶ֖ם לַאֲחֻזָּ֑ה וְנָתַתִּי֙ נֶ֣גַע צָרַ֔עַת בְּבֵ֖ית אֶ֥רֶץ אֲחֻזַּתְכֶֽם׃ (לה) וּבָא֙ אֲשֶׁר־ל֣וֹ הַבַּ֔יִת וְהִגִּ֥יד לַכֹּהֵ֖ן לֵאמֹ֑ר כְּנֶ֕גַע נִרְאָ֥ה לִ֖י בַּבָּֽיִת׃ (לו) וְצִוָּ֨ה הַכֹּהֵ֜ן וּפִנּ֣וּ אֶת־הַבַּ֗יִת בְּטֶ֨רֶם יָבֹ֤א הַכֹּהֵן֙ לִרְא֣וֹת אֶת־הַנֶּ֔גַע וְלֹ֥א יִטְמָ֖א כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֣ר בַּבָּ֑יִת וְאַ֥חַר כֵּ֛ן יָבֹ֥א הַכֹּהֵ֖ן לִרְא֥וֹת אֶת־הַבָּֽיִת׃ (לז) וְרָאָ֣ה אֶת־הַנֶּ֗גַע וְהִנֵּ֤ה הַנֶּ֙גַע֙ בְּקִירֹ֣ת הַבַּ֔יִת שְׁקַֽעֲרוּרֹת֙ יְרַקְרַקֹּ֔ת א֖וֹ אֲדַמְדַּמֹּ֑ת וּמַרְאֵיהֶ֥ן שָׁפָ֖ל מִן־הַקִּֽיר׃ (לח) וְיָצָ֧א הַכֹּהֵ֛ן מִן־הַבַּ֖יִת אֶל־פֶּ֣תַח הַבָּ֑יִת וְהִסְגִּ֥יר אֶת־הַבַּ֖יִת שִׁבְעַ֥ת יָמִֽים׃ (לט) וְשָׁ֥ב הַכֹּהֵ֖ן בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֑י וְרָאָ֕ה וְהִנֵּ֛ה פָּשָׂ֥ה הַנֶּ֖גַע בְּקִירֹ֥ת הַבָּֽיִת׃ (מ) וְצִוָּה֙ הַכֹּהֵ֔ן וְחִלְּצוּ֙ אֶת־הָ֣אֲבָנִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר בָּהֵ֖ן הַנָּ֑גַע וְהִשְׁלִ֤יכוּ אֶתְהֶן֙ אֶל־מִח֣וּץ לָעִ֔יר אֶל־מָק֖וֹם טָמֵֽא׃ (מא) וְאֶת־הַבַּ֛יִת יַקְצִ֥עַ מִבַּ֖יִת סָבִ֑יב וְשָׁפְכ֗וּ אֶת־הֶֽעָפָר֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר הִקְצ֔וּ אֶל־מִח֣וּץ לָעִ֔יר אֶל־מָק֖וֹם טָמֵֽא׃ (מב) וְלָקְחוּ֙ אֲבָנִ֣ים אֲחֵר֔וֹת וְהֵבִ֖יאוּ אֶל־תַּ֣חַת הָאֲבָנִ֑ים וְעָפָ֥ר אַחֵ֛ר יִקַּ֖ח וְטָ֥ח אֶת־הַבָּֽיִת׃ (מג) וְאִם־יָשׁ֤וּב הַנֶּ֙גַע֙ וּפָרַ֣ח בַּבַּ֔יִת אַחַ֖ר חִלֵּ֣ץ אֶת־הָאֲבָנִ֑ים וְאַחֲרֵ֛י הִקְצ֥וֹת אֶת־הַבַּ֖יִת וְאַחֲרֵ֥י הִטּֽוֹחַ׃ (מד) וּבָא֙ הַכֹּהֵ֔ן וְרָאָ֕ה וְהִנֵּ֛ה פָּשָׂ֥ה הַנֶּ֖גַע בַּבָּ֑יִת צָרַ֨עַת מַמְאֶ֥רֶת הִ֛וא בַּבַּ֖יִת טָמֵ֥א הֽוּא׃ (מה) וְנָתַ֣ץ אֶת־הַבַּ֗יִת אֶת־אֲבָנָיו֙ וְאֶת־עֵצָ֔יו וְאֵ֖ת כָּל־עֲפַ֣ר הַבָּ֑יִת וְהוֹצִיא֙ אֶל־מִח֣וּץ לָעִ֔יר אֶל־מָק֖וֹם טָמֵֽא׃ (מו) וְהַבָּא֙ אֶל־הַבַּ֔יִת כָּל־יְמֵ֖י הִסְגִּ֣יר אֹת֑וֹ יִטְמָ֖א עַד־הָעָֽרֶב׃ (מז) וְהַשֹּׁכֵ֣ב בַּבַּ֔יִת יְכַבֵּ֖ס אֶת־בְּגָדָ֑יו וְהָאֹכֵ֣ל בַּבַּ֔יִת יְכַבֵּ֖ס אֶת־בְּגָדָֽיו׃ (מח) וְאִם־בֹּ֨א יָבֹ֜א הַכֹּהֵ֗ן וְרָאָה֙ וְ֠הִנֵּה לֹא־פָשָׂ֤ה הַנֶּ֙גַע֙ בַּבַּ֔יִת אַחֲרֵ֖י הִטֹּ֣חַ אֶת־הַבָּ֑יִת וְטִהַ֤ר הַכֹּהֵן֙ אֶת־הַבַּ֔יִת כִּ֥י נִרְפָּ֖א הַנָּֽגַע׃ (מט) וְלָקַ֛ח לְחַטֵּ֥א אֶת־הַבַּ֖יִת שְׁתֵּ֣י צִפֳּרִ֑ים וְעֵ֣ץ אֶ֔רֶז וּשְׁנִ֥י תוֹלַ֖עַת וְאֵזֹֽב׃ (נ) וְשָׁחַ֖ט אֶת־הַצִּפֹּ֣ר הָאֶחָ֑ת אֶל־כְּלִי־חֶ֖רֶשׂ עַל־מַ֥יִם חַיִּֽים׃ (נא) וְלָקַ֣ח אֶת־עֵֽץ־הָ֠אֶרֶז וְאֶת־הָ֨אֵזֹ֜ב וְאֵ֣ת ׀ שְׁנִ֣י הַתּוֹלַ֗עַת וְאֵת֮ הַצִּפֹּ֣ר הַֽחַיָּה֒ וְטָבַ֣ל אֹתָ֗ם בְּדַם֙ הַצִּפֹּ֣ר הַשְּׁחוּטָ֔ה וּבַמַּ֖יִם הַֽחַיִּ֑ים וְהִזָּ֥ה אֶל־הַבַּ֖יִת שֶׁ֥בַע פְּעָמִֽים׃ (נב) וְחִטֵּ֣א אֶת־הַבַּ֔יִת בְּדַם֙ הַצִּפּ֔וֹר וּבַמַּ֖יִם הַֽחַיִּ֑ים וּבַצִּפֹּ֣ר הַחַיָּ֗ה וּבְעֵ֥ץ הָאֶ֛רֶז וּבָאֵזֹ֖ב וּבִשְׁנִ֥י הַתּוֹלָֽעַת׃ (נג) וְשִׁלַּ֞ח אֶת־הַצִּפֹּ֧ר הַֽחַיָּ֛ה אֶל־מִח֥וּץ לָעִ֖יר אֶל־פְּנֵ֣י הַשָּׂדֶ֑ה וְכִפֶּ֥ר עַל־הַבַּ֖יִת וְטָהֵֽר׃ Leviticus 14:34-53 (34) When you enter the land of Canaan that I give you as a possession, and I inflict an eruptive plague upon a house in the land you possess, (35) the owner of the house shall come and tell the priest, saying, “Something like a plague has appeared upon my house.” (36) The priest shall order the house cleared before the priest enters to examine the plague, so that nothing in the house may become unclean; after that the priest shall enter to examine the house. (37) If, when he examines the plague, the plague in the walls of the house is found to consist of greenish or reddish streaks that appear to go deep into the wall, (38) the priest shall come out of the house to the entrance of the house, and close up the house for seven days. (39) On the seventh day the priest shall return. If he sees that the plague has spread on the walls of the house, (40) the priest shall order the stones with the plague in them to be pulled out and cast outside the city into an unclean place. (41) The house shall be scraped inside all around, and the coating that is scraped off shall be dumped outside the city in an unclean place. (42) They shall take other stones and replace those stones with them, and take other coating and plaster the house. (43) If the plague again breaks out in the house, after the stones have been pulled out and after the house has been scraped and replastered, (44) the priest shall come to examine: if the plague has spread in the house, it is a malignant eruption in the house; it is unclean. (45) The house shall be torn down—its stones and timber and all the coating on the house—and taken to an unclean place outside the city. (46) Whoever enters the house while it is closed up shall be unclean until evening. (47) Whoever sleeps in the house must wash his clothes, and whoever eats in the house must wash his clothes. (48) If, however, the priest comes and sees that the plague has not spread in the house after the house was replastered, the priest shall pronounce the house clean, for the plague has healed. (49) To purge the house, he shall take two birds, cedar wood, crimson stuff, and hyssop. (50) He shall slaughter the one bird over fresh water in an earthen vessel. (51) He shall take the cedar wood, the hyssop, the crimson stuff, and the live bird, and dip them in the blood of the slaughtered bird and the fresh water, and sprinkle on the house seven times. (52) Having purged the house with the blood of the bird, the fresh water, the live bird, the cedar wood, the hyssop, and the crimson stuff, (53) he shall set the live bird free outside the city in the open country. Thus he shall make expiation for the house, and it shall be clean. שמות כ״ט:מ״ב-מ״ג (מב) עֹלַ֤ת תָּמִיד֙ לְדֹרֹ֣תֵיכֶ֔ם פֶּ֥תַח אֹֽהֶל־מוֹעֵ֖ד לִפְנֵ֣י ה' אֲשֶׁ֨ר אִוָּעֵ֤ד לָכֶם֙ שָׁ֔מָּה לְדַבֵּ֥ר אֵלֶ֖יךָ שָֽׁם׃ (מג) וְנֹעַדְתִּ֥י שָׁ֖מָּה לִבְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְנִקְדַּ֖שׁ בִּכְבֹדִֽי׃ Exodus 29:42-43 (42) a regular burnt offering throughout the generations, at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting before the LORD. For there I will meet with you, and there I will speak with you, (43) and there I will meet with the Israelites, and it shall be sanctified by My Presence. ויקרא ט״ז:ח׳-י׳ (ח) וְנָתַ֧ן אַהֲרֹ֛ן עַל־שְׁנֵ֥י הַשְּׂעִירִ֖ם גּוֹרָל֑וֹת גּוֹרָ֤ל אֶחָד֙ לַה' וְגוֹרָ֥ל אֶחָ֖ד לַעֲזָאזֵֽל׃ (ט) וְהִקְרִ֤יב אַהֲרֹן֙ אֶת־הַשָּׂעִ֔יר אֲשֶׁ֨ר עָלָ֥ה עָלָ֛יו הַגּוֹרָ֖ל לַה' וְעָשָׂ֖הוּ חַטָּֽאת׃ (י) וְהַשָּׂעִ֗יר אֲשֶׁר֩ עָלָ֨ה עָלָ֤יו הַגּוֹרָל֙ לַעֲזָאזֵ֔ל יָֽעֳמַד־חַ֛י לִפְנֵ֥י ה' לְכַפֵּ֣ר עָלָ֑יו לְשַׁלַּ֥ח אֹת֛וֹ לַעֲזָאזֵ֖ל הַמִּדְבָּֽרָה׃ Leviticus 16:8-10 (8) and he shall place lots upon the two goats, one marked for the LORD and the other marked for Azazel. (9) Aaron shall bring forward the goat designated by lot for the LORD, which he is to offer as a sin offering; (10) while the goat designated by lot for Azazel shall be left standing alive before the LORD, to make expiation with it and to send it off to the wilderness for Azazel. שמות י״ב:ז׳ (ז) וְלָֽקְחוּ֙ מִן־הַדָּ֔ם וְנָֽתְנ֛וּ עַל־שְׁתֵּ֥י הַמְּזוּזֹ֖ת וְעַל־הַמַּשְׁק֑וֹף עַ֚ל הַבָּ֣תִּ֔ים אֲשֶׁר־יֹאכְל֥וּ אֹת֖וֹ בָּהֶֽם׃ Exodus 12:7 (7) They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they are to eat it. במדבר כ״ד:ה׳ (ה) מַה־טֹּ֥בוּ אֹהָלֶ֖יךָ יַעֲקֹ֑ב מִשְׁכְּנֹתֶ֖יךָ יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ Numbers 24:5 (5) How fair are your tents, O Jacob, Your dwellings, O Israel! רש"י על במדבר כ״ד:ה׳:א׳ מה טבו אהליך. עַל שֶׁרָאָה פִתְחֵיהֶם שֶׁאֵינָן מְכֻוָּנִין זֶה מוּל זֶה: Rashi on Numbers 24:5:1 מה טבו אהליך HOW GOODLY ARE THY TENTS — He said this because he saw that the entrances of their tents were not exactly facing each other (Bava Batra 60a; cf. v. 2). רש"י על במדבר כ״ד:ה׳:ב׳ משכנתיך. חֲנִיּוֹתֶיךָ, כְּתַרְגּוּמוֹ; דָּבָר אַחֵר, מה טבו אהליך — מַה טֹּבוּ אֹהֶל שִׁילֹה וּבֵית עוֹלָמִים בְּיִשּׁוּבָן, שֶׁמַּקְרִיבִין בָּהֶן קָרְבָּנוֹת לְכַפֵּר עֲלֵיכֶם: Rashi on Numbers 24:5:2 משכנתיך means thy encampments, as the Targum has it. — Another explanation — מה טבו אהליך HOW GOODLY ARE THY TENTS — How goodly are the tent of Shiloh and the Temple when these flourished, in that sacrifices were offered therein to alone for you; מגילה י״ג א:י״ד וּבְמוֹת אָבִיהָ וְאִמָּהּ לְקָחָהּ מׇרְדֳּכַי לוֹ לְבַת תָּנָא מִשּׁוּם רַבִּי מֵאִיר אַל תִּקְרֵי לְבַת אֶלָּא לְבַיִת וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר וְלָרָשׁ אֵין כֹּל כִּי אִם כִּבְשָׂה אַחַת קְטַנָּה אֲשֶׁר קָנָה וַיְחַיֶּהָ וַתִּגְדַּל עִמּוֹ וְעִם בָּנָיו יַחְדָּו מִפִּתּוֹ תֹאכַל וּמִכּוֹסוֹ תִשְׁתֶּה וּבְחֵיקוֹ תִשְׁכָּב וַתְּהִי לוֹ כְּבַת מִשּׁוּם דִּבְחֵיקוֹ תִשְׁכָּב הֲווֹת לֵיהּ (לְבַת) אֶלָּא (לְבַיִת) הָכִי נָמֵי לְבַיִת Megillah 13a:14 The verse states: “And when her father and mother were dead, Mordecai took her for his own daughter” (Esther 2:7). A tanna taught a baraita in the name of Rabbi Meir: Do not read the verse literally as for a daughter [bat], but rather read it as for a home [bayit]. This indicates that Mordecai took Esther to be his wife. And so it states: “But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and reared: And it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his bread, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was like a daughter [kevat] to him” (II Samuel 12:3). The Gemara questions: Because it lay in his bosom, it “was like a daughter to him”? Rather, the parable in II Samuel referenced the illicit taking of another’s wife, and the phrase should be read: Like a home [bayit] to him, i.e., a wife. So too, here, Mordecai took her for a home, i.e., a wife. מלכים א י״א:ל״ח (לח) וְהָיָ֗ה אִם־תִּשְׁמַע֮ אֶת־כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֲצַוֶּךָ֒ וְהָלַכְתָּ֣ בִדְרָכַ֗י וְעָשִׂ֨יתָ הַיָּשָׁ֤ר בְּעֵינַי֙ לִשְׁמ֤וֹר חֻקּוֹתַי֙ וּמִצְוֺתַ֔י כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר עָשָׂ֖ה דָּוִ֣ד עַבְדִּ֑י וְהָיִ֣יתִי עִמָּ֗ךְ וּבָנִ֨יתִי לְךָ֤ בַֽיִת־נֶאֱמָן֙ כַּאֲשֶׁ֣ר בָּנִ֣יתִי לְדָוִ֔ד וְנָתַתִּ֥י לְךָ֖ אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ I Kings 11:38 (38) If you heed all that I command you, and walk in My ways, and do what is right in My sight, keeping My laws and commandments as My servant David did, then I will be with you and I will build for you a lasting dynasty as I did for David. I hereby give Israel to you; שמואל א ב׳:ל״ה (לה) וַהֲקִימֹתִ֥י לִי֙ כֹּהֵ֣ן נֶאֱמָ֔ן כַּאֲשֶׁ֛ר בִּלְבָבִ֥י וּבְנַפְשִׁ֖י יַעֲשֶׂ֑ה וּבָנִ֤יתִי לוֹ֙ בַּ֣יִת נֶאֱמָ֔ן וְהִתְהַלֵּ֥ךְ לִפְנֵֽי־מְשִׁיחִ֖י כָּל־הַיָּמִֽים׃ I Samuel 2:35 (35) And I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest, who will act in accordance with My wishes and My purposes. I will build for him an enduring house, and he shall walk before My anointed evermore. Baruch Schwartz, at the Department of Bible, Hebrew University of Jerusalem explains that the word ne’eman, today used to mean faithful, trustworthy, is used frequently in the Bible to mean “lasting, enduring” (in addition to its frequent use in the sense of “unfailing, reliable” which is quite similar. One can see that the modern meaning too is derived from this but is slightly different.) Not “faithful”, but enduring, abiding, stable, constant. That’s what we are wishing the newlyweds: that they establish a “house”, i.e. a line of descendants, that endures and continues to be a part of the “house” of Israel. כתובות ח׳ א:ג׳ ואשר יצר את האדם בצלמו בצלם דמות תבניתו והתקין לו ממנו בנין עדי עד ברוך אתה ה' יוצר האדם Ketubot 8a:3 And the third blessing is: Blessed are You…Who made humanity in His image, in the image of the likeness of His form, and out of His very self formed a building (see Genesis 2:22) for eternity. Blessed are You, Lord, Creator of mankind. רש"י על כתובות ח׳ א:ג׳:ב׳ בנין עדי עד - בנין נוהג לדורות וחוה קרי לה בנין על שם ויבן את הצלע (בראשית ב): Rashi on Ketubot 8a:3:2 a building for eternity - A building that lasts for generations and Eve was called a building by virtue of being built from the rib (Genesis 2)
29 minutes | Apr 13, 2021
Prayer and Services and the Sickness unto Death
ויקרא י׳:א׳-ב׳ (א) וַיִּקְח֣וּ בְנֵֽי־אַ֠הֲרֹן נָדָ֨ב וַאֲבִיה֜וּא אִ֣ישׁ מַחְתָּת֗וֹ וַיִּתְּנ֤וּ בָהֵן֙ אֵ֔שׁ וַיָּשִׂ֥ימוּ עָלֶ֖יהָ קְטֹ֑רֶת וַיַּקְרִ֜בוּ לִפְנֵ֤י ה' אֵ֣שׁ זָרָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֧ר לֹ֦א צִוָּ֖ה אֹתָֽם׃ (ב) וַתֵּ֥צֵא אֵ֛שׁ מִלִּפְנֵ֥י ה' וַתֹּ֣אכַל אוֹתָ֑ם וַיָּמֻ֖תוּ לִפְנֵ֥י ה'׃ Leviticus 10:1-2 (1) Now Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu each took his fire pan, put fire in it, and laid incense on it; and they offered before the LORD alien fire, which He had not enjoined upon them. (2) And fire came forth from the LORD and consumed them; thus they died at the instance of the LORD. ויקרא י׳:ג׳ (ג) וַיֹּ֨אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֜ה אֶֽל־אַהֲרֹ֗ן הוּא֩ אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּ֨ר ה' ׀ לֵאמֹר֙ בִּקְרֹבַ֣י אֶקָּדֵ֔שׁ וְעַל־פְּנֵ֥י כָל־הָעָ֖ם אֶכָּבֵ֑ד וַיִּדֹּ֖ם אַהֲרֹֽן׃ Leviticus 10:3 (3) Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD meant when He said: Through those near to Me I show Myself holy, And gain glory before all the people.” And Aaron was silent. On Rosh Hashanah morning, the Rabbi noticed little Adam was staring up at the large plaque that hung in the foyer of the synagogue. It was covered with names, and small American flags were mounted on either side of it. The seven-year old had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the Rabbi walked up, stood beside the boy, and said quietly, "Good morning, Adam." "Good morning, Rabbi," replied the young man, still focused on the plaque. "Rabbi Resnick, what is this?" Adam asked. "Well, it's a memorial to all the young men and women who died in the service." Soberly, they stood together, staring at the large plaque. Little Adam's voice was barely audible when he asked: "Which service? Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur?" source יומא ס״ח ב מַתְנִי׳ בָּא לוֹ כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל לִקְרוֹת ... חַזַּן הַכְּנֶסֶת נוֹטֵל סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה וְנוֹתְנוֹ לְרֹאשׁ הַכְּנֶסֶת וְרֹאשׁ הַכְּנֶסֶת נוֹתְנוֹ לַסְּגָן וְהַסְּגָן נוֹתְנוֹ לְכֹהֵן גָּדוֹל וְכֹהֵן גָּדוֹל עוֹמֵד וּמְקַבֵּל וְקוֹרֵא בְּאַחֲרֵי מוֹת וְאַךְ בֶּעָשׂוֹר וְגוֹלֵל סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה וּמַנִּיחוֹ בְּחֵיקוֹ וְאוֹמֵר יוֹתֵר מִמַּה שֶּׁקָּרָאתִי לִפְנֵיכֶם כָּתוּב כָּאן וּבֶעָשׂוֹר שֶׁבְּחוֹמֶשׁ הַפְּקוּדִים קוֹרֵא עַל פֶּה Yoma 68b MISHNA: The High Priest came to read the Torah. ... The synagogue attendant takes a Torah scroll and gives it to the head of the synagogue that stood on the Temple Mount; and the head of the synagogue gives it to the deputy High Priest, and the Deputy gives it to the High Priest, and the High Priest stands and receives the scroll from his hands. And he reads from the scroll the Torah portion beginning with the verse: “After the death” (Leviticus 16:1) and the portion beginning with the verse: “But on the tenth” (Leviticus 23:26), and furls the Torah scroll and places it on his bosom and says: More than what I have read before you is written here. The Torah portion beginning with the verse: “And on the tenth,” from the book of Numbers (29:7), he then reads by heart. יומא ע׳ א:ג׳ וּבֶעָשׂוֹר שֶׁל חוֹמֶשׁ הַפְּקוּדִים קוֹרֵא עַל פֶּה אַמַּאי נִגְלוֹל וְנִיקְרֵי אָמַר רַב הוּנָא בְּרֵיהּ דְּרַב יְהוֹשֻׁעַ אָמַר רַב שֵׁשֶׁת לְפִי שֶׁאֵין גּוֹלְלִין סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה בְּצִיבּוּר מִפְּנֵי כְּבוֹד צִיבּוּר Yoma 70a:3 § It was further taught in the mishna: The Torah portion beginning with the verse: “And on the tenth,” from the book of Numbers (29:7), he reads by heart. The Gemara asks: Why does he read it by heart? Let him furl the scroll to that portion and read it from the text. Rav Huna, son of Rav Yehoshua, said that Rav Sheshet said: It is because one may not furl a Torah scroll in public, out of respect for the community. It is inappropriate to make the community wait until they have reached the next section. רש"י על יומא ע׳ א:ג׳:א׳ מפני כבוד ציבור - שיהו מצפין ודוממין לכך: Rashi on Yoma 70a:3:1 On account of the congregation’s honor - For they would have to wait in passive silence [while the Torah was rolled]. משנה תורה, הלכות תפילה וברכת כהנים י״ב:כ״ג (כג) אֵין קוֹרְאִין בְּחֻמָּשִׁין בְּבָתֵּי כְּנֵסִיּוֹת מִשּׁוּם כְּבוֹד צִבּוּר. וְאֵין גּוֹלְלִין סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה בְּצִבּוּר מִפְּנֵי טֹרַח הַצִּבּוּר שֶׁלֹּא יַטְרִיחַ עֲלֵיהֶם לִהְיוֹתָן עוֹמְדִין עַד שֶׁיִּגְלל סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה. לְפִיכָךְ אִם יִצְטָרְכוּ לִקְרוֹת שְׁנֵי עִנְיָנִים מוֹצִיאִין שְׁנֵי סִפְרֵי תּוֹרָה. וְלֹא יִקְרָא אִישׁ אֶחָד עִנְיָן אֶחָד בִּשְׁתֵּי תּוֹרוֹת שֶׁמָּא יֹאמְרוּ סֵפֶר רִאשׁוֹן פָּגוּם הָיָה וּלְפִיכָךְ קוֹרֵא בַּשֵּׁנִי: Mishneh Torah, Prayer and the Priestly Blessing 12:23 (23) Scrolls of single books of the Pentateuch are not used for reading at services in synagogues, out of respect to the congregation. Nor is the scroll of the Law rolled*To the right place for the reading. at a public service, out of regard to the convenience of the congregants so that they should not have the trouble of standing while the scroll is being rolled. Hence, if two sections in different parts of the text are to be read, two scrolls are taken out. One person must not read one section in two scrolls, lest it will be said that the first scroll was defective and therefore he read out of the second. סוטה ל״ט ב:ז׳ ואמר רבי תנחום אמר רבי יהושע בן לוי אין שליח צבור רשאי להפשיט את התיבה בצבור מפני כבוד צבור Sotah 39b:7 And Rabbi Tanḥum says that Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi says: The prayer leader is not permitted to uncover the decorative covering of the ark in public, out of respect for the congregation. It is inappropriate to have the congregation wait while doing this. ברכות ל״ג ב:כ״א-כ״ב הַהוּא דִּנְחֵית קַמֵּיהּ דְּרַבִּי חֲנִינָא, אֲמַר ״הָאֵל הַגָּדוֹל הַגִּבּוֹר וְהַנּוֹרָא וְהָאַדִּיר וְהָעִזּוּז וְהַיָּראוּי, הֶחָזָק וְהָאַמִּיץ וְהַוַּדַּאי וְהַנִּכְבָּד״.הִמְתִּין לוֹ עַד דְּסַיֵּים. כִּי סַיֵּים אֲמַר לֵיהּ: סַיֵּימְתִּינְהוּ לְכוּלְּהוּ שִׁבְחֵי דְמָרָךְ?! לְמָה לִי כּוּלֵּי הַאי? אֲנַן, הָנֵי תְּלָת דְּאָמְרִינַן אִי לָאו דְּאַמְרִינְהוּ מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ בְּאוֹרָיְיתָא, וַאֲתוֹ אַנְשֵׁי כְּנֶסֶת הַגְּדוֹלָה וְתַקְּנִינְהוּ בִּתְפִלָּה — לָא הֲוֵינַן יְכוֹלִין לְמֵימַר לְהוּ, וְאַתְּ אָמְרַתְּ כּוּלֵּי הַאי וְאָזְלַתְּ! מָשָׁל לְמֶלֶךְ בָּשָׂר וָדָם שֶׁהָיוּ לוֹ אֶלֶף אֲלָפִים דִּינְרֵי זָהָב, וְהָיוּ מְקַלְּסִין אוֹתוֹ בְּשֶׁל כֶּסֶף. וַהֲלֹא גְּנַאי הוּא לוֹ! Berakhot 33b:21-22 With regard to additions to prayers formulated by the Sages, The Gemara relates that a particular individual descended before the ark as prayer leader in the presence of Rabbi Ḥanina. He extended his prayer and said: God, the great, mighty, awesome, powerful, mighty, awe-inspiring, strong, fearless, steadfast and honored. Rabbi Ḥanina waited for him until he completed his prayer. When he finished, Rabbi Ḥanina asked him: Have you concluded all of the praises of your Master? Why do I need all of this superfluous praise? Even these three praises that we recite: The great, mighty and awesome, had Moses our teacher not said them in the Torah and had the members of the Great Assembly not come and incorporated them into the Amida prayer, we would not be permitted to recite them. And you went on and recited all of these. It is comparable to a king who possessed many thousands of golden dinars, yet they were praising him for silver ones. Isn’t that deprecatory? All of the praises we could possibly lavish upon the Lord are nothing but a few silver dinars relative to many thousands of gold dinars. Reciting a litany of praise does not enhance God’s honor. מורה נבוכים, חלק א' נ״ט והמפולג שנאמר בזה הענין - אמרו ב'תלים' "לך דומיה תהילה" - פרושו השתיקה אצלך היא השבח. וזה המרצת דברים עצומה מאוד בזה הענין - שאנחנו כל דבר שנאמר אותו שנכון בו הגדלה ושבח - נמצא בו מעמס אחד בחוקו ית' ונשקיף בו קצת חסרון; אם כן השתיקה יותר ראויה וההסתפקות בהשגת השכלים כמו שצוו השלמים ואמרו "אמרו בלבבכם על משכבכם ודומו סלה": וכבר ידעת אמרתם המפורסמת (אשר מי יתן והיה כל המאמרים כמותה!) ואני אזכרה לך בלשונה (ואף על פי שהיא ידועה) להעירך על עניניה. אמרו "ההוא דנחת קמיה דר' חנינה אמר האל הגדול הגיבור והנורא האדיר והחזק היראוי והעזוז אמר ליה סימתינהו לכולהו שבחי דמרך? השתא אנן תלת קמיתא אלמלא דאמרינהו משה רבינו באורייתא ואתו אנשי כנסת הגדולה ותקיננהו בתפילה אנן לא יכילנן למימרנהו - ואנת אמרת ואזלת כולי האי? משל למה הדבר דומה? למלך בשר ודם שהיו לו אלף אלפים דינרי זהב ומקלסין אותו בשל כסף - והלא גנאי הוא לו" - עד הנה הגיע מאמר זה החסיד: והסתכל תחילה שתקו ומאסו רבוי תארי החיוב. והתבונן איך הראה כי התארים אילו הונחו לשכלינו לבד לא אמרנום לעולם ולא דברנו בדבר מהם; ואמנם כאשר הצריך הכרח הדיבור לבני אדם במה שיתקים להם מעט ציור - כמו שאמרו 'דברה תורה כלשון בני אדם' - שיתואר להם האלוק בשלמיותיהם תכליתנו - שנעמוד על המאמרים ההם ולא נקרא שמו בהם אלא בקראנו אותם ב'תורה' לבד; אמנם כאשר באו גם 'אנשי כנסת הגדולה' - והם הנביאים - וסדרו זכרם בתפלה תכליתנו - שנאמרם לבד. ועיקר זה המאמר - בארו ששני הכרחים נזדמנו בהתפללנו בהם האחד - מפני שבאו ב'תורה' והשני - סדר הנביאים התפלה בהם; ולולא ההכרח הראשון - לא זכרנום ולולא ההכרח השני לא הסירונום ממקומם ולא התפללנו בהם - ואתה מרבה בתארים: הנה כבר התבאר לך גם כן מאלו הדברים שאין כל מה שתמצאהו מן התארים המיוחסים לאלוק בספרי הנביאים ראוי לנו שנתפלל בהם ונאמרם - שהוא לא אמר 'אלמלא דאמרנהו משה רבנו לא יכילנן למימרנהו' אלא תנאי אחר 'ואתו אנשי כנסת הגדולה ותקנינהו בתפלה' - ואז מותר לנו להתפלל בהם ולא כמו שעשו הפתאים באמת אשר המריצו בשבחים והאריכו והרבו דברים בתפילות חיברום ומליצות קבצום להתקרב בהם לאלוק לפי מחשבתם יתארו בהם האלוק בתארים אילו יתואר בהם אחד מבני אדם היה זה חסרון בחוקו; שהם לא הבינו אלו הענינים הגדולים והחשובים הזרים משכלי ההמון ולקחו האלוק ית' מדרס ללשונותם ותארוהו וסיפרוהו בכל מה שיחשבוהו ראוי וימריצו לשבח בזה עד שיעוררוהו להפעל במחשבתם; וכל שכן אם ימצאו כתוב בדברי נביא בזה יהיה הענין מותר להם שיבואו לכתובים (שצריך לפרשם על כל פנים) וישיבום לפשוטיהם ויגזרו מהם ויעשו להם סעיפים ויבנו עליהם מאמרים. וירבה התר זה אצל המשוררים והמליצים ואצל מי שיחשוב שהוא עושה שיר עד שחוברו דברים קצתם - כפירה גמורה וקצתם - יש בהם מן השטות והפסד הדמיון מה שראוי לאדם שישחק עליו לפי טבעו כשמעו ויבכהו עם ההתבוננות איך נאמרו הדברים ההם בחוק האלוק ית'! ולולא חמלתי על חסרון האומרים הייתי מגיד מהם מעט עד שתתעורר על מקום החטא בהם אלא שהם מאמרים חסרונם נראה מאד למי שיבין: Guide for the Perplexed, Part 1 59 The idea is best expressed in the book of Psalms, "Silence is praise to Thee" (lxv. 2). It is a very expressive remark on this subject; for whatever we utter with the intention of extolling and of praising Him, contains something that cannot be applied to God, and includes derogatory expressions; it is therefore more becoming to be silent, and to be content with intellectual reflection, as has been recommended by men of the highest culture, in the words "Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still" (Ps. 4:4). You must surely know the following celebrated passage in the Talmud--would that all passages in the Talmud were like that!--although it is known to you, I quote it literally, as I wish to point out to you the ideas contained in it: "A certain person, reading prayers in the presence of Rabbi Haninah, ...was this not really dispraise to him?" Thus far the opinion of the pious rabbi. Consider, first, how repulsive and annoying the accumulation of all these positive attributes was to him; next, how he showed that, if we had only to follow our reason, we should never have composed these prayers, and we should not have uttered any of them. .. Were it not for the first reason, we should never have uttered them; and were it not for the second reason, we should not have copied them from the Pentateuch to recite them in our prayers; how then could we approve of the use of those numerous attributes! You also learn from this that we ought not to mention and employ ill our prayers all the attributes we find applied to God in the books of the Prophets; for he does not say, "Were it not that Moses, our Teacher, said them, we should not have been able to use them"; but he adds another condition--"and had not the men of the Great Synagogue come forward and established their use in the prayer," because only for that reason are we allowed to use them in our prayers. We cannot approve of what those foolish persons do who are extravagant in praise, fluent and prolix in the prayers they compose, and in the hymns they make in the desire to approach the Creator. They describe God in attributes which would be an offence if applied to a human being; for those persons have no knowledge of these great and important principles, which are not accessible to the ordinary intelligence of man. Treating the Creator as a familiar object, they describe Him and speak of Him in any expressions they think proper; they eloquently continue to praise Him in that manner, and believe that they can thereby influence Him and produce an effect on Him. If they find some phrase suited to their object in the words of the Prophets they are still more inclined to consider that they are free to make use of such texts--which should at least be explained--to employ them in their literal sense, to derive new expressions from them, to form from them numerous variations, and to found whole compositions on them. This license is frequently met with in the compositions of the singers, preachers, and others who imagine themselves to be able to compose a poem. Such authors write things which partly are real heresy, partly contain such folly and absurdity that they naturally cause those who hear them to laugh, but also to feel grieved at the thought that such things can be uttered in reference to God. Were it not that I pitied the authors for their defects. and did not wish to injure them, I should have cited some passages to show you their mistakes; besides, the fault of their compositions is obvious to all intelligent persons. You must consider it, and think thus: If slander and libel is a great sin, how much greater is the sin of those who speak with looseness of tongue in reference to God, and describe Him by attributes which are far below Him; and I declare that they not only commit an ordinary sin, but unconsciously at least incur the guilt of profanity and blasphemy. This applies both to the multitude that listens to such prayers, and to the foolish man that recites them. For more sources see: The Halachic Principles of Tircha De-Tzibura See also: WHAT HAPPENED TO SHORT PRAYERS? by Woolf Abrahams It is curious that Kavod is linked directly with “silence”. In the Talmud with the bored silence of the congregation as the Priest, Rabbi or Torah reader fiddles and extends the survice and in the account of Nadab and Abihu, with the silence of their father, Aaron וַיִּדֹּם, אַהֲרֹן. משנה תורה, הלכות תפילה וברכת כהנים ד׳:ט״ז (טז) כֵּיצַד הִיא הַכַּוָּנָה. שֶׁיְּפַנֶּה אֶת לִבּוֹ מִכָּל הַמַּחֲשָׁבוֹת וְיִרְאֶה עַצְמוֹ כְּאִלּוּ הוּא עוֹמֵד לִפְנֵי הַשְּׁכִינָה. לְפִיכָךְ צָרִיךְ לֵישֵׁב מְעַט קֹדֶם הַתְּפִלָּה כְּדֵי לְכַוֵּן אֶת לִבּוֹ וְאַחַר כָּךְ יִתְפַּלֵּל בְּנַחַת וּבְתַחֲנוּנִים וְלֹא יַעֲשֶׂה תְּפִלָּתוֹ כְּמִי שֶׁהָיָה נוֹשֵׂא מַשּׂאוֹי וּמַשְׁלִיכוֹ וְהוֹלֵךְ לוֹ. לְפִיכָךְ צָרִיךְ לֵישֵׁב מְעַט אַחַר הַתְּפִלָּה וְאַחַר כָּךְ יִפָּטֵר. חֲסִידִים הָרִאשׁוֹנִים הָיוּ שׁוֹהִין שָׁעָה אַחַת קֹדֶם תְּפִלָּה וְשָׁעָה אַחַת לְאַחַר תְּפִלָּה וּמַאֲרִיכִין בִּתְפִלָּה שָׁעָה: Mishneh Torah, Prayer and the Priestly Blessing 4:16 (16) What is to be understood by concentration of the mind? The mind should be freed from all extraneous thoughts and the one who prays should realize that he is standing before the Divine Presence. He should therefore sit awhile before beginning his prayers, so as to concentrate his mind, and then pray in gentle tones, beseechingly, and not regard the service as a burden which he is carrying and which he will cast off and proceed on his way. He should, accordingly, also sit awhile, after concluding the prayers, and then leave. The ancient saints were wont to pause and meditate one hour before the service, one hour after the service and take one hour in its recital. If our prayers are modeled on the Sacrifices then maybe we should offer prayers in distinct classes (think yoga classes, with sign-up.... Sin offering Peace offering Musaf (extra Shefa) offering Pesach (transition) offering Thanks Offering Compare to Pseukei de'zimra - Song / Praise morning / mid-day. end of day Torah Reading - Study Kavanh - Meditation
24 minutes | Mar 31, 2021
Finding the Stranger in the Seder
Join Geoffrey Stern and Rabbi Adam Mintz as we discuss: “You shall not oppress a stranger, … having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt” and wonder why the motif of loving the stranger is not found in the Haggadah. Along with other members of the Madlik family we discuss whether this is a valid question or not and we also explore where in the Haggadah a discussion of loving the stranger is appropriate. Finally, we follow the advise of the Mishnah and read the parsha of Bikurim until the end… and discover that the Stranger is actually the punch line of the Magid section and that loving the stranger is the Praise and being a stranger is the shame, of which the mishnah speaks.
15 minutes | Dec 13, 2020
Let The Sunshine
Let the Sun Shine Source Sheet by Geoffrey Stern Bereishit Rabbah 11 (2) "And Elokim blessed the seventh day and sanctified it"- .... R' Elazar says: "He blessed it" with a candle and this occurred to me, one time I lit a candle on the eve of Shabbat and I came and I found it [still] lit at the end of Shabbat and it wasn't diminished at all. "He blessed it" with the light of the face of man, "He sanctified it" with the light of of the face of man. The light of man's face throughout the week isn't comparable to [his face] on Shabbat. "He blessed it" with luminaries, R' Shimon son of Yehuda the man of Acco says in the name of R' Shimon: even though the luminaries were cursed from the Shabbat eve they were not smitten until the termination of the Sabbath. This agrees with the Rabbis but not with R. Assi who maintained: Adam's glory did not abide the night with him. What is the proof? But Adam passeth not the night in glory (Ps XLIX, 13). The Rabbis maintain: His glory abode with him, but at the termination of Sabbath He deprived him of his splendor and expelled him from the Garden of Eden, as it is written, Thou changest his countenance, and sendest him away (Job XIV, 20) As soon as the sun set on the night of the Sabbath, the Holy One Blessed be He wished to hide the light, but He showed honor to the Sabbath; hence it is written, AND GOD BLESSED THE SEVETNTH DAY: whereupon did He bless it? With light. When the sun set on the night of the Sabbath, the light continued to function [the primeval light] whereupon all began praising, as it is written Under the whole heaven they sing praises to Him (ibid XXXVII, 3); wherefore? Because His light [reaches] unto the ends of the earth (ibid). ... Rabbi Levi said in the name of Rabbi Z’eira: That light served for thirty-six hours - twelve hours on the eve of Shabbat, twelve hours of the night of Shabbat, and the twelve hours of Shabbat [day]. Once the sun set on Saturday night, the darkness began to settle in. Adam was terrified, [thinking] Surely indeed the darkness shall bruise [E.V. 'envelop'] me (Ps, CXXXIX, 11): shall he of whom it is written, He shall bruise they head (Gen. III, 15), now come to attack me! [under the cover of darkness] What did the Lord do for him? He made him find two flints which he struck against each other; light came forth and he uttered a blessing over it; hence it is written, But the night was light unto me - ba'adeni ( PS. loc. cit.), i.e. the night was light in my Eden (be'edni'). This agree with Samuel, for Samuel said: Why do we recite a blessing over a lamp [fire] at the termination of the Sabbath? Because it was then created for the first time [artificial light]. .... בראשית רבה י״א (ב) וַיְבָרֶךְ אֱלֹהִים אֶת יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי וגו',... רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר אוֹמֵר בֵּרְכוֹ בְּנֵר, וּבִי הָיָה הַמַּעֲשֶׂה, פַּעַם אַחַת הִדְלַקְתִּי אֶת הַנֵּר בְּלֵילֵי שַׁבָּת וּבָאתִי וּמָצָאתִי אוֹתוֹ בְּמוֹצָאֵי שַׁבָּת דָּלוּק וְלֹא חָסַר כְּלוּם. בֵּרְכוֹ בְּאוֹר פָּנָיו שֶׁל אָדָם, קִדְּשׁוֹ בְּאוֹר פָּנָיו שֶׁל אָדָם. לֹא דוֹמֶה אוֹר פָּנָיו שֶׁל אָדָם כָּל יְמוֹת הַשַּׁבָּת, כְּמוֹ שֶׁהוּא דּוֹמֶה בְּשַׁבָּת. בֵּרְכוֹ בַּמְּאוֹרוֹת, רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בַּר יְהוּדָה אִישׁ כְּפַר עַכּוֹ אוֹמֵר מִשּׁוּם רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנִּתְקַלְּלוּ הַמְּאוֹרוֹת מֵעֶרֶב שַׁבָּת, אֲבָל לֹא לָקוּ עַד מוֹצָאֵי שַׁבָּת, אַתְיָא כְּרַבָּנָן וְלָא אַתְיָא כִּדְרַבִּי אַמֵּי, דְּאָמַר רַבִּי אַמֵּי אָדָם הָרִאשׁוֹן לֹא לָן כְּבוֹדוֹ עִמּוֹ, מַה טַּעַם (תהלים מט, יג): וְאָדָם בִּיקָר בַּל יָלִין נִמְשַׁל כַּבְּהֵמוֹת נִדְּמוּ. וְרַבָּנָן אָמְרֵי, לָן כְּבוֹדוֹ עִמּוֹ, וּמוֹצָאֵי שַׁבָּת נִטַּל מִמֶּנּוּ זִיווֹ וּטְרָדוֹ מִגַּן עֵדֶן, הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב (איוב יד, כ): מְשַׁנֶּה פָנָיו וַתְּשַׁלְּחֵהוּ. כֵּיוָן שֶׁשָּׁקְעָה חַמָּה בְּלֵילֵי שַׁבָּת, בִּקֵּשׁ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לִגְנֹז אֶת הָאוֹרָה, וְחָלַק כָּבוֹד לַשַּׁבָּת. הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב: וַיְבָרֶךְ אֱלֹהִים אֶת יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי וַיְקַדֵּשׁ אוֹתוֹ, בֵּרְכוֹ בְּאוֹרָה, כֵּיוָן שֶׁשָּׁקְעָה הַחַמָּה בְּלֵילֵי הַשַּׁבָּת הִתְחִילָה הָאוֹרָה וְהָיְתָה מְשַׁמֶּשֶׁת, הִתְחִילוּ הַכֹּל מְקַלְּסִין, הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב (איוב לז, ג): תַּחַת כָּל הַשָּׁמַיִם יִשְׁרֵהוּ וְאוֹרוֹ עַל כַּנְפוֹת הָאָרֶץ,... בִּי לֵוִי בְּשֵׁם רַבִּי זְעֵירָא אָמַר, ל"ו שָׁעוֹת שִׁמְשָׁה אוֹתָהּ הָאוֹרָה, שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר שֶׁל עֶרֶב שַׁבָּת, וּשְׁנֵים עָשָׂר שֶׁל לֵילֵי שַׁבָּת, וּשְׁנֵים עָשָׂר שֶׁל שַׁבָּת. כֵּיוָן שֶׁשָּׁקְעָה הַחַמָּה בְּמוֹצָאֵי שַׁבָּת הִתְחִיל הַחשֶׁךְ מְמַשְׁמֵשׁ וּבָא וְנִתְיָרֵא אָדָם הָרִאשׁוֹן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהלים קלט, יא): וָאֹמַר אַךְ חשֶׁךְ יְשׁוּפֵנִי וְלַיְלָה אוֹר בַּעֲדֵנִי, אוֹתוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בּוֹ (בראשית ג, טו): הוּא יְשׁוּפְךָ רֹאשׁ וְאַתָּה תְּשׁוּפֶנּוּ עָקֵב, בָּא לְהִזְדַּוֵּג לִי, מֶה עָשָׂה הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, זִמֵּן לוֹ שְׁנֵי רְעָפִים וְהֵקִישָׁן זֶה לָזֶה וְיָצָא מֵהֶן אוֹר וּבֵרַךְ עָלֶיהָ, הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב: וְלַיְלָה אוֹר בַּעֲדֵנִי. מַה בֵּרַךְ עָלֶיהָ, בּוֹרֵא מְאוֹרֵי הָאֵשׁ. אַתְיָא כִּשְׁמוּאֵל, דְּאָמַר שְׁמוּאֵל מִפְּנֵי מָה מְבָרְכִין עַל הָאוֹר בְּמוֹצָאֵי שַׁבָּת, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהִיא תְּחִלַּת בְּרִיָּתָהּ. See also Bereshit Rabba 12:6 and here. Avodah Zarah 8a The Sages taught: On the day that Adam the first man was created, when the sun set upon him he said: Woe is me, as because I sinned, the world is becoming dark around me, and the world will return to the primordial state of chaos and disorder. And this is the death that was sentenced upon me from Heaven. He spent all night fasting and crying, and Eve was crying opposite him. Once dawn broke, he said: Evidently, the sun sets and night arrives, and this is the order of the world. עבודה זרה ח׳ א ת"ר יום שנברא בו אדם הראשון כיון ששקעה עליו חמה אמר אוי לי שבשביל שסרחתי עולם חשוך בעדי ויחזור עולם לתוהו ובוהו וזו היא מיתה שנקנסה עלי מן השמים היה יושב בתענית ובוכה כל הלילה וחוה בוכה כנגדו כיון שעלה עמוד השחר אמר מנהגו של עולם הוא Avodah Zarah 8a the Sages taught: When Adam the first man saw that the day was progressively diminishing, as the days become shorter from the autumnal equinox until the winter solstice, he did not yet know that this is a normal phenomenon, and therefore he said: Woe is me; perhaps because I sinned the world is becoming dark around me and will ultimately return to the primordial state of chaos and disorder. And this is the death that was sentenced upon me from Heaven, as it is written: “And to dust shall you return” (Genesis 3:19). He arose and spent eight days in fasting and in prayer. Once he saw that the season of Tevet, i.e., the winter solstice, had arrived, and saw that the day was progressively lengthening after the solstice, he said: Clearly, the days become shorter and then longer, and this is the order of the world. He went and observed a festival for eight days. Upon the next year, he observed both these eight days on which he had fasted on the previous year, and these eight days of his celebration, as days of festivities. He, Adam, established these festivals for the sake of Heaven, but they, the gentiles of later generations, established them for the sake of idol worship. עבודה זרה ח׳ א ת"ר לפי שראה אדם הראשון יום שמתמעט והולך אמר אוי לי שמא בשביל שסרחתי עולם חשוך בעדי וחוזר לתוהו ובוהו וזו היא מיתה שנקנסה עלי מן השמים עמד וישב ח' ימים בתענית [ובתפלה] כיון שראה תקופת טבת וראה יום שמאריך והולך אמר מנהגו של עולם הוא הלך ועשה שמונה ימים טובים לשנה האחרת עשאן לאלו ולאלו ימים טובים הוא קבעם לשם שמים והם קבעום לשם עבודת כוכבים Shabbat 21b The Gemara asks: What is Hanukkah, and why are lights kindled on Hanukkah? The Gemara answers: The Sages taught in Megillat Ta’anit: On the twenty-fifth of Kislev, the days of Hanukkah are eight. One may not eulogize on them and one may not fast on them. What is the reason? When the Greeks entered the Sanctuary, they defiled all the oils that were in the Sanctuary by touching them. And when the Hasmonean monarchy overcame them and emerged victorious over them, they searched and found only one cruse of oil that was placed with the seal of the High Priest, undisturbed by the Greeks. And there was sufficient oil there to light the candelabrum for only one day. A miracle occurred and they lit the candelabrum from it eight days. The next year the Sages instituted those days and made them holidays with recitation of hallel and special thanksgiving in prayer and blessings. שבת כ״א ב מַאי חֲנוּכָּה? דְּתָנוּ רַבָּנַן: בְּכ״ה בְּכִסְלֵיו יוֹמֵי דַחֲנוּכָּה תְּמָנְיָא אִינּוּן דְּלָא לְמִסְפַּד בְּהוֹן וּדְלָא לְהִתְעַנּוֹת בְּהוֹן. שֶׁכְּשֶׁנִּכְנְסוּ יְווֹנִים לַהֵיכָל טִמְּאוּ כׇּל הַשְּׁמָנִים שֶׁבַּהֵיכָל. וּכְשֶׁגָּבְרָה מַלְכוּת בֵּית חַשְׁמוֹנַאי וְנִצְּחוּם, בָּדְקוּ וְלֹא מָצְאוּ אֶלָּא פַּךְ אֶחָד שֶׁל שֶׁמֶן שֶׁהָיָה מוּנָּח בְּחוֹתָמוֹ שֶׁל כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל, וְלֹא הָיָה בּוֹ אֶלָּא לְהַדְלִיק יוֹם אֶחָד. נַעֲשָׂה בּוֹ נֵס וְהִדְלִיקוּ מִמֶּנּוּ שְׁמוֹנָה יָמִים. לְשָׁנָה אַחֶרֶת קְבָעוּם וַעֲשָׂאוּם יָמִים טוֹבִים בְּהַלֵּל וְהוֹדָאָה. Shabbat 21b Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel disagree as to the nature of that adjustment. Beit Shammai say: On the first day one kindles eight lights and, from there on, gradually decreases the number of lights until, on the last day of Hanukkah, he kindles one light. And Beit Hillel say: On the first day one kindles one light, and from there on, gradually increases the number of lights until, on the last day, he kindles eight lights. שבת כ״א ב בֵּית שַׁמַּאי אוֹמְרִים: יוֹם רִאשׁוֹן מַדְלִיק שְׁמֹנָה, מִכָּאן וְאֵילָךְ פּוֹחֵת וְהוֹלֵךְ. וּבֵית הִלֵּל אוֹמְרִים: יוֹם רִאשׁוֹן מַדְלִיק אַחַת, מִכָּאן וְאֵילָךְ מוֹסִיף וְהוֹלֵךְ. Source Sheet created on Sefaria by Geoffrey Stern
41 minutes | Apr 5, 2020
A Passover Makeover
Link To Source Sheet on Sefaria: www.sefaria.org/sheets/227396 Passover at a time of Corona: What the biblical provision for celebrating a second Passover teaches us about celebrating Passover under extenuating circumstances. 2. Numbers 9:2-13 (2) Let the Israelite people offer the passover sacrifice at its set time: (3) you shall offer it on the fourteenth day of this month, at twilight, at its set time; you shall offer it in accordance with all its rules and rites. (4) Moses instructed the Israelites to offer the passover sacrifice; (5) and they offered the passover sacrifice in the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at twilight, in the wilderness of Sinai. Just as the LORD had commanded Moses, so the Israelites did. (6) But there were some men who were unclean by reason of a corpse and could not offer the passover sacrifice on that day. Appearing that same day before Moses and Aaron, (7) those men said to them, “Unclean though we are by reason of a corpse, why must we be deprived [diminished, restrained, withdrawn, hindered, let down] from presenting the LORD’s offering at its set time with the rest of the Israelites?” (8) Moses said to them, “Stand by, and let me hear what instructions the LORD gives about you.” (9) And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: (10) Speak to the Israelite people, saying: When any of you or of your posterity who are defiled by a corpse or are on a long journey would offer a passover sacrifice to the LORD, (11) they shall offer it in the second month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at twilight. They shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, (12) and they shall not leave any of it over until morning. They shall not break a bone of it. They shall offer it in strict accord with the law of the passover sacrifice. (13) But if a man who is clean and not on a journey refrains from offering the passover sacrifice, that person shall be cut off from his kin, for he did not present the LORD’s offering at its set time; that man shall bear his guilt. במדבר ט׳:ב׳-י״ג (ב) וְיַעֲשׂ֧וּ בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל אֶת־הַפָּ֖סַח בְּמוֹעֲדֽוֹ׃ (ג) בְּאַרְבָּעָ֣ה עָשָֽׂר־י֠וֹם בַּחֹ֨דֶשׁ הַזֶּ֜ה בֵּ֧ין הָֽעֲרְבַּ֛יִם תַּעֲשׂ֥וּ אֹת֖וֹ בְּמוֹעֲד֑וֹ כְּכָל־חֻקֹּתָ֥יו וּכְכָל־מִשְׁפָּטָ֖יו תַּעֲשׂ֥וּ אֹתֽוֹ׃ (ד) וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר מֹשֶׁ֛ה אֶל־בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל לַעֲשֹׂ֥ת הַפָּֽסַח׃ (ה) וַיַּעֲשׂ֣וּ אֶת־הַפֶּ֡סַח בָּרִאשׁ֡וֹן בְּאַרְבָּעָה֩ עָשָׂ֨ר י֥וֹם לַחֹ֛דֶשׁ בֵּ֥ין הָעַרְבַּ֖יִם בְּמִדְבַּ֣ר סִינָ֑י כְּ֠כֹל אֲשֶׁ֨ר צִוָּ֤ה ה' אֶת־מֹשֶׁ֔ה כֵּ֥ן עָשׂ֖וּ בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ (ו) וַיְהִ֣י אֲנָשִׁ֗ים אֲשֶׁ֨ר הָי֤וּ טְמֵאִים֙ לְנֶ֣פֶשׁ אָדָ֔ם וְלֹא־יָכְל֥וּ לַעֲשֹׂת־הַפֶּ֖סַח בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֑וּא וַֽיִּקְרְב֞וּ לִפְנֵ֥י מֹשֶׁ֛ה וְלִפְנֵ֥י אַהֲרֹ֖ן בַּיּ֥וֹם הַהֽוּא׃ (ז) וַ֠יֹּאמְרוּ הָאֲנָשִׁ֤ים הָהֵ֙מָּה֙ אֵלָ֔יו אֲנַ֥חְנוּ טְמֵאִ֖ים לְנֶ֣פֶשׁ אָדָ֑ם לָ֣מָּה נִגָּרַ֗ע לְבִלְתִּ֨י הַקְרִ֜ב אֶת־קָרְבַּ֤ן ה' בְּמֹ֣עֲד֔וֹ בְּת֖וֹךְ בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ (ח) וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֲלֵהֶ֖ם מֹשֶׁ֑ה עִמְד֣וּ וְאֶשְׁמְעָ֔ה מַה־יְצַוֶּ֥ה ה' לָכֶֽם׃ (פ) (ט) וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר ה' אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃ (י) דַּבֵּ֛ר אֶל־בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל לֵאמֹ֑ר אִ֣ישׁ אִ֣ישׁ כִּי־יִהְיֶֽה־טָמֵ֣א ׀ לָנֶ֡פֶשׁ אוֹ֩ בְדֶ֨רֶךְ רְחֹקָ֜הׄ לָכֶ֗ם א֚וֹ לְדֹרֹ֣תֵיכֶ֔ם וְעָ֥שָׂה פֶ֖סַח לַה'׃ (יא) בַּחֹ֨דֶשׁ הַשֵּׁנִ֜י בְּאַרְבָּעָ֨ה עָשָׂ֥ר י֛וֹם בֵּ֥ין הָעַרְבַּ֖יִם יַעֲשׂ֣וּ אֹת֑וֹ עַל־מַצּ֥וֹת וּמְרֹרִ֖ים יֹאכְלֻֽהוּ׃ (יב) לֹֽא־יַשְׁאִ֤ירוּ מִמֶּ֙נּוּ֙ עַד־בֹּ֔קֶר וְעֶ֖צֶם לֹ֣א יִשְׁבְּרוּ־ב֑וֹ כְּכָל־חֻקַּ֥ת הַפֶּ֖סַח יַעֲשׂ֥וּ אֹתֽוֹ׃ (יג) וְהָאִישׁ֩ אֲשֶׁר־ה֨וּא טָה֜וֹר וּבְדֶ֣רֶךְ לֹא־הָיָ֗ה וְחָדַל֙ לַעֲשׂ֣וֹת הַפֶּ֔סַח וְנִכְרְתָ֛ה הַנֶּ֥פֶשׁ הַהִ֖וא מֵֽעַמֶּ֑יהָ כִּ֣י ׀ קָרְבַּ֣ן ה' לֹ֤א הִקְרִיב֙ בְּמֹ֣עֲד֔וֹ חֶטְא֥וֹ יִשָּׂ֖א הָאִ֥ישׁ הַהֽוּא׃ 3. Pesach Haggadah, Magid, Rabban Gamliel's Three Things In each and every generation, a person is obligated to see himself as if he left Egypt, as it is stated (Exodus 13:8); "And you shall explain to your son on that day: For the sake of this, did the Lord do [this] for me in my going out of Egypt." Not only our ancestors did the Holy One, blessed be He, redeem, but rather also us [together] with them did He redeem, as it is stated (Deuteronomy 6:23); "And He took us out from there, in order to bring us in, to give us the land which He swore unto our fathers." הגדה של פסח, מגיד, פסח מצה ומרור בְּכָל־דּוֹר וָדוֹר חַיָּב אָדָם לִרְאוֹת אֶת־עַצְמוֹ כְּאִלּוּ הוּא יָצָא מִמִּצְרַיִם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וְהִגַּדְתָּ לְבִנְךָ בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא לֵאמֹר, בַּעֲבוּר זֶה עָשָׂה ה' לִי בְּצֵאתִי מִמִּצְרַיִם. לֹא אֶת־אֲבוֹתֵינוּ בִּלְבָד גָּאַל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, אֶלָּא אַף אוֹתָנוּ גָּאַל עִמָּהֶם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וְאוֹתָנוּ הוֹצִיא מִשָּׁם, לְמַעַן הָבִיא אוֹתָנוּ, לָתֶת לָנוּ אֶת־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נִשָׁבַּע לַאֲבֹתֵינוּ. 4. The Marranos of Belmonte Portugal Despite being forcibly converted to Christianity in 1497 many of the Jews of Portugal continued to practice Judaism in secret. Today, residents of the village of Belmonte practice an amalgam of Christian and Jewish rituals. Lighting Shabbat candles in secret closet. © Frédéric Brenner Belmonte Marranos Celebrate Passover in Secret © Frédéric Brenner The day of the Lord - the Day of the Great Forgiveness - (O Dia do Senhor) and the Holy Feast - the Easter - (A santa Festa) are the great holy days that remain; some still light the Sabbath lamp. Passover, the most important and most elegant holiday about a month after its actual date in the Jewish calendar, a memory of the Inquisition. The box of unleavened bread is the main ritual, which is performed in secret, at home. We see him here for the first time. Dressed in white, the participants sanctify the piece by throwing water and purging prayers of purification. They invoke God's protection from various evils, don't torture. During the Holy Feast they consume no meat or coffee and eat no bread other than unleavened bread. Then the Marrranes leave the city, in groups, and will pick bitter herbs (maror in The Jewish tradition); men and women whip the river with plants abseiling from the Red Sea crossing by Moses during the Egyptian Exodus. These ceremonies are preserved thanks to the photographs of Frederic Brenner for the first and perhaps the last time. Prof. Yosef Haim Yerushalmi Introduction to Marranes (H.COL.BEAUX ART) (French Edition) (French) Paperback – 1992 by Frédéric Brenner (Author) p42 For once these Marranos of Belmonte expose themselves, a historic moment and a turning point in their becoming; they overexpose themselves to the camera. They make of their secret an archived invisible visibility. They are the only ones, in this series of photograms, to keep the secret that they exhibit and to sign their belonging without belonging. More than for all the others, I ask myself “who” they are and what they are thinking, in their for intérieur, as we say in French—that is, in their “heart of hearts.” (What is their for intérieur? What do they ﬁnally know of their secret, of the secret that keeps them before they keep it?) What do they think of what is happening to them, including the forgiveness asked by Mário Soares (“In the name of Portugal, I ask forgiveness of the Jews for the persecutions they suffered in our country”)? The ﬁlm The Last Marranos bears witness to the fact that those named in the title are undergoing the loss of their secret. They are forgetting it, paradoxically, in the very movement and moment in which they are reappropriating their memory in an “authentic,” assumed, “normal” Judaism: another “normalization” on the agenda, after the avowal, or rather let us say the confession, and then, ﬁnally, the repentance of the guilty ones. — JACQUES DERRIDA Diaspora: Homelands in Exile (2 Volume Set) Hardcover – September 30, 2003 by Frederic Brenner Vol 2 Voices, p65 Please see Video: The Last Marranos on YouTube here and here at point where they describe previous practice of Pesach Sheni. 9. Sukkah 25b they were unnamed people who were engaged in tending to a corpse whose burial is a mitzva, i.e., which has no one else available to bury it, and their seventh day of impurity occurred prec
42 minutes | Mar 2, 2020
The Audacity of Torah
The Audacity of Torah GS by Geoffrey Stern An exploration of the fine line between expressions of piety in the service of the Divine and the seduction of self-pride. Using biblical, Talmudic, liturgical and Maimonidian texts and anecdotes from the Novardok school of Mussar we come to a surprising conclusion. The Torah not so much commands us to worship the Lord as it does give us permission or license. We call this the audacity of Torah. ----- Link to Source Sheet on Sefaria here 1. There is a popular Jewish joke about the former Novardok Yeshiva, founded by Rabbi Yosef Yozel Horowitz known as the Alter of Novardok (1847–1919). Novardok was one of the more extreme exemplars of the mussar movement that developed in Lithuania in the latter part of the 19th century. This yeshiva placed great emphasis on “the negation of the ego and the physical world”. Students wore tattered clothing and engaged in deliberately humiliating activities to achieve that end. The joke goes as follows: Chaim, a new student, arrived at the Novardok Yeshiva. Being a novice and not knowing exactly what was expected of him, he simply observed what the other students were doing and copied them. When it was time for davening, observing his fellow yeshiva students engaged in fervent prayer and shokeling back and forth with great intensity, he did the same. During the period for Talmud study, he mimicked the others with their sing-song chants and exaggerated hand gestures. Finally, it was time for mussar self-examination, when each student retreated to a private corner, beat his fist remorsefully against his chest and repeated the refrain in Yiddish: “Ish bin a gor nisht! Ish bin a gor nisht!” (“I am a complete nothing!”) Observing the behaviour of these students, Chaim sat down and, pounding his fist against his chest, likewise repeated the same mantra: “Ish bin a gor nisht! Ish bin a gor nisht!” One of the veteran students seated nearby observed Chaim disdainfully, turned to another old-timer and commented, “Look at this one! He’s been here just one day, and he already thinks he’s a gor nisht!” source 2. סידור אשכנז, שבת, שחרית, ברכות קריאת שמע, יוצר אור ח׳ (ח) אֶת שֵׁם הָאֵ-ל, הַמֶּלֶךְ הַגָּדול הַגִּבּור וְהַנּורָא קָדושׁ הוּא. וְכֻלָּם מְקַבְּלִים עֲלֵיהֶם על מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם זֶה מִזֶּה. וְנותְנִים רְשׁוּת זֶה לָזֶה לְהַקְדִּישׁ לְיוצְרָם בְּנַחַת רוּחַ. בְּשפָה בְרוּרָה וּבִנְעִימָה. קְדֻשָׁה כֻּלָּם כְּאֶחָד. עונִים וְאומְרִים בְּיִרְאָה: קָדושׁ קָדושׁ קָדושׁ ה' צְבָאות. מְלא כָל הָאָרֶץ כְּבודו: Siddur Ashkenaz, Shabbat, Shacharit, Blessings of the Shema, First Blessing before Shema 8 the name of the Almighty, the king, the great, the mighty, the awesome One; holy is He. And they take upon themselves the yoke of sovereignty one from the other and give permission one to another to sanctify their Creator in a spirit of serenity with clear speech and sweet harmony They proclaim [His] holiness in unison and reverently proclaim: "Holy, holy, holy is Adonoy of Hosts the fullness of all the earth is his glory." 3. רש"י על ישעיהו ו׳:ג׳ (א) וקרא זה אל זה. נוטלין רשות זה מזה שלא יקדים האחד ויתחיל ויתחייב שריפה אלא אם כן פתחו כולם כאחד וזהו שיסד ביוצר אור קדושה כולם כאחד עונים כו' ומדרש אגדה מעשה מרכבה הוא וכן תירגם קדוש קדוש קדוש ג' פעמים כתרגומו: Rashi on Isaiah 6:3 They would take permission from one another so that one would not precede [the others] and be guilty of [a sin punishable by] burning; rather, they all commenced simultaneously. This is the basis for what is said in the K'dushah d'Yotzeir Or: "all, as one, respond [and proclaim God's holiness...]"... 4. האם בני אדם יכולים להידמות למלאכים? מיכאל גרץ פוסטים23/02/2020 ר' חיים בן שלמה טיירר מצ'רנוביץ' (נולד ב1816) מסביר את הפסוק והתפילה כך: "…כי באמת כבר כתבנו במקום אחר שמי שאוהב את ה' יתברך לא אהבת עצמו בשום אופן, אין חילוק לפניו כלל וכלל בעשיית המצוות אם הוא עשאה או אחרים עושים ויבוא הטוב מכל מקום". אסור שתתקיים "תחרות" על עשיית מצוות. יהודי שעושה רק מצווה אחת ביום, עשייה זאת משמחת את הקב"ה. ואין לאדם אחר רשות לבקר אותו שזה רק מצווה אחת. והוא ממשיך: "וזה הוא עיקר עבודתו לעשות נחת רוח לפניו, ומה לו אם יגיענו נחת רוח ממנו או מחבירו. … האוהב את בוראו אהבת אמת שמשתוקק שיגיע נחת רוח לבורא עולם, לא ישתדל כלל לחטוף המצוה מזולתו שהוא יעשנה" אין אפוטרופסות על המצוות! אסור שחוג זה או אחר יטען שרק הם יודעים איך לקיים את המצוות, ולכן כל מצווה שיהודי אחר עושה פסול מלכתחילה. גישה כזאת גורמת צער לה' במקום שמחה. "ועל כן אומרים בקדושה של יוצר אצל קדושת המלאכים וכולם מקבלים עליהם וגו' ונותנים באהבה 'רשות זה לזה' להקדיש ליוצרם בנחת רוח וגו', … ולא יחפוץ אחד להיות גדול מחבירו אף בעיני המקום, ועל כן נותנים באהבה רבה רשות זה לזה להקדיש וכו' כי כל כוונתם שיגיע הנאה לבורא עולם יהיה ממי שיהיה מאתו או מזולתו…" (ספר באר מים חיים פרשת תצוה – פרק כח) 4. Rabbi Michael Gertz: Can Humans Resemble Angels 2/23/2020 Rabbi Chaim Ben Shlomo Tierer of Czernowitz (born 1816) explains the verse and prayer as follows: "… Because we have already written elsewhere that whoever loves God will not act selfishly under any circumstance, there is no difference in him at all in doing the commandments whether he did or others do and the good comes from everywhere. Ganze: There must be no "competition" for the observance. A Jew who does only one mitzvah a day does so pleasing the Almighty. And no one else has permission to criticize him that is only one mitzvah. And he continues: "And that is the crux of his work please the Lord, and what if this Divine pleasure comes from him or from his friend. ... Who loves his Creator A true love that longs for a spirit of Creator will never endeavor to snatch the mitzvah from others. Ganz; There is no guardianship of the commandments! One or the other circle must not claim that only they know how to keep the commandments, and therefore every commandment that another Jew makes is wrong in the first place. Such an attitude causes God sorrow instead of joy. And so they say with regard to the Kedusha: and everyone accepts them And lovingly give 'each other's permission' to sanctify their creator in divine pleasure ... ' And no one wants to be bigger than his friend even in the eyes of the God, and therefore, with great love, give each other permission to dedicate, etc. that all their intentions that come to give pleasure to the Creator of the world whether it comes from them or their fellow. ברכות ל״ב א וְאָמַר רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר: מֹשֶׁה הֵטִיחַ דְּבָרִים כְּלַפֵּי מַעְלָה. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״וַיִּתְפַּלֵּל מֹשֶׁה אֶל ה׳״ אַל תִּקְרֵי ״אֶל ה׳״, אֶלָּא ״עַל ה׳״. שֶׁכֵּן דְּבֵי רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר בֶּן יַעֲקֹב קוֹרִין לָאַלְפִין עַיְינִין, וְלָעַיְינִין אַלְפִין. דבֵי רַבִּי יַנַּאי אָמְרִי, מֵהָכָא: ״וְדִי זָהָב״. מַאי ״וְדִי זָהָב״? אָמְרִי דְּבֵי רַבִּי יַנַּאי: כָּךְ אָמַר מֹשֶׁה לִפְנֵי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא: רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם, בִּשְׁבִיל כֶּסֶף וְזָהָב שֶׁהִשְׁפַּעְתָּ לָהֶם לְיִשְׂרָאֵל, עַד שֶׁאָמְרוּ ״דַּי״ — הוּא גָּרַם שֶׁעָשׂוּ אֶת הָעֵגֶל. אָמְרִי דְּבֵי רַבִּי יַנַּאי: אֵין אֲרִי נוֹהֵם מִתּוֹךְ קוּפָּה שֶׁל תֶּבֶן אֶלָּא מִתּוֹךְ קוּפָּה שֶׁל בָּשָׂר. אָמַר רַבִּי אוֹשַׁעְיָא: מָשָׁל לְאָדָם שֶׁהָיְתָה לוֹ פָּרָה כְּחוּשָׁה וּבַעֲלַת אֵבָרִים, הֶאֱכִילָהּ כַּרְשִׁינִין וְהָיְתָה מְבַעֶטֶת בּוֹ. אָמַר לָהּ: מִי גָּרַם לִיךְ שֶׁתְּהֵא מְבַעֶטֶת בִּי — אֶלָּא כַּרְשִׁינִין שֶׁהֶאֱכַלְתִּיךְ. אָמַר רַבִּי חִיָּיא בַּר אַבָּא אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן: מָשָׁל לְאָדָם אֶחָד שֶׁהָיָה לוֹ בֵּן. הִרְחִיצוֹ וְסָכוֹ, וְהֶאֱכִילוֹ וְהִשְׁקָהוּ, וְתָלָה לוֹ כִּיס עַל צַוָּארוֹ, וְהוֹשִׁיבוֹ עַל פֶּתַח שֶׁל זוֹנוֹת. מַה יַּעֲשֶׂה אוֹתוֹ הַבֵּן שֶׁלֹּא יֶחֱטָא?! אָמַר רַב אַ
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