It is with great sadness and disbelief — to announce that beloved Rosh Yeshiva, HaRav Yisrael Noach ben Yitzchak Mattisyahu Weinberg – passed away this past Thursday, Feb 5/ Shevat 11.
Rabbi Weinberg was a Jewish leader and visionary par excellence. Every fiber of his being was animated by the reality of the Almighty and the truth of Torah. He lived with the awareness of G-d — His infinite love and awesomeness — and the power of Torah to instruct us on how to live a most meaningful life.
Rabbi Weinberg dedicated his life to bringing a renaissance within Jewish people, to reach out to every Jew and reconnect him to the depth and meaning of our heritage. The Jewish people are meant to be a light unto nations; Rabbi Weinberg undertook the task to galvanize the Jewish people and inspire us to live up to our mission and be Kiddush Hashem – to sanctify G-d’s Name in this world.
“The hidden things are for Hashem, our G-d, but the revealed things are for us and our children forever, to carry out all the words of this Torah” (Deut. 29:28). Rabbi Weinberg lived with the reality that the all the revealed things are our responsibility. If masses of Jews are assimilating, it’s our responsibility to bring each and every one back.
Following excerpt from “Pinchas (Numbers 25:10-30:1)”
by Rabbi Ari Kahn,
of Aish Jerusalem.
At the conclusion of last week’s Torah portion, we read about the act of Zimri and the response of Pinchas. The episode is described as follows:
And a man from the Children of Israel brought a Midianite woman in front of his brethren, in sight of Moses and the entire community, and they engaged in sexual intercourse in front of the Tent of Meeting. Pinchas, the son of Elazar, son of Aaron the Kohen, saw them. He arose from the community and took his spear with him. He approached the man of Israel by the tent and he pierced them both by the tent. The plague in Israel was stopped. (Numbers 25:6-8)
While the story was told last week, in Balak, certain elements about the episode are held in abeyance until this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Pinchas. Named for the protagonist of this episode, it informs us of the lineage of the perpetrators of the deed:
The name of the man of Israel who was killed, together with the Midianite woman, was Zimri son of Saluah, a prince from the tribe of Shimon. And the name of the Midianite woman killed was Kozbi, the daughter of Tzur, the head of the nation of Midian. (Numbers 25:14-15)
These were not simple people; both were aristocrats, from leading families of their respective tribes. Rashi points to this fact as an indication of the Midianite’s burning hatred for the Children of Israel — they were willing to send their own daughters into the fray.
The Targum (Yonatan, Yerushami) identifies Tzur with none other than Balak himself! His hatred was so profound that he was willing to prostitute his own daughter for the chance to corrupt the Jews in the process.
Following excerpts from “Pinchas (Numbers 25:10-30:1) ”
by Rabbi Nosson Weisz,
of Aish Jerusalem.
“The laws of inheritance would have been written in the Torah through Moses even if the daughters of Zlafchad had not presented their petition, but since the daughters of Zlafchad were meritorious they were written through their agency… The proper punishment of one who desecrates the Shabbat, such as the Mekoshesh, would have been written in the Torah by Moses even if such an incident had never occurred, but since the Mekoshesh was guilty it was written through him – to teach you that benefit is awarded through the meritorious and harm through the guilty.” (Baba Batra 119a)
[The incident of the Mekoshesh is described in (Bamidbar 15:32-36). The Talmud (Shabbat 69b) debates which particular desecration of the Shabbat laws was involved. According to the Talmud, Moses knew that the desecrator was liable to the death penalty but he did not know which one. God informed him that he should be stoned. Thus the exact penalty for the desecration of the Shabbat was written in the Torah as a consequence of the transgression of the Mekoshesh.]
* * *
The connection between the daughters of Zlafchad and the Mekoshesh has deeper roots. Rabbi Akiva taught that the Mekoshesh was none other than Zlafchad himself (Sifri, Bamidbar, 15,32). Thus Zlafchad and his daughters were both responsible for laws being written in the Torah as a result of their activities. His daughters are described as having merited the honor, while Zlafchad is chastised for having brought it about through his guilt.
Nevertheless the family connection and distinction is glaringly obvious. The statement made regarding Zlafchad and his daughters – that something would have become Torah through Moses but was written down instead as a response to the activities of another – is rare indeed. There is no such statement about anyone else in any connection as far as the author knows. Zlafchad and his daughters share the distinction of being singled out from the rest of humanity as the only people in history who preempted Moses from serving as the human agent to deliver Torah law to the world. This unique connection between Zlafchad and his daughters is surely more than mere coincidence.
Following excerpts from “Up For The Count” by Rabbi Nosson Weisz, of Aish Jerusalem, concerning the Parsha Emor.
One of the major topics covered by our Parsha is the description of all the holidays we celebrate throughout the year and the major mitzvot that are associated with them. One of these mitzvot centers around the Omer sacrifice, the offering of a measure of the new and still unripe barley crop on the second day of Passover.
“You shall count for yourselves – from the morrow of the rest day, from the day when you bring the Omer wave-offering – seven weeks, they shall be complete. Until the morrow of the seventh week you shall count, fifty days; and you shall offer a new meal-offering to God.” (Levicitus 23: 15-16)
These verses command us to count the days of the Omer, the 49 days between Passover and Shavuot, the day the Torah was given on Mount Sinai. We are presently in the midst of counting these days; it is appropriate to attempt to delve into their significance.
Nachmanides in his commentary on the Torah (Leviticus 23:36) compares Passover to Succot. He explains that although they are superficially different – Passover is a seven-day holiday whereas Succot contains eight days – the difference in the duration of the holidays vanishes on deeper analyses. The days of the Omer – the chunk of time that we count between Passover and Shavuot – should be regarded as days of Chol Hamoed that join the two holidays together, so that in reality, Shavuot is actually the eighth day of Passover making them both eight day holidays. We shall attempt to explore the connection between Passover and Succot and the significance of eight-day holidays in this essay.
Following excerpts from “ The Heart of the Matter” by Rabbi Nosson Weisz, of Aish Jerusalem, concerning the Parsha Emor.
You shall count for yourselves — from the morrow of the rest day, from the day when you bring the omer of the waving — seven weeks, they shall be complete. Until the morrow of the seventh week you shall count fifty days; and you shall offer a new meal-offering to God. (Leviticus 23:15-16)
The custom among Jews is not to celebrate weddings between Passover and Shavuot. The reason: so as not to create an atmosphere of increased joy because the students of Rabbi Akiva died of a plague during this period. There is also the custom not to trim the head or facial hair [as a sign of mourning], but some allow this after Lag B’Omer — the 33rd day of the Omer — because they maintain that the plague abated at this time. (Tur, Orach chaim, 493,1)
It was said that Rabbi Akiva had 12,000 pairs of students and that they all died in a single period because they did not afford the proper respect to each other. The world was a wasteland until Rabbi Akiva taught our rabbis in the South: Rabbi Meir, Rabbi Yehuda, Rabbi Yosi, Rabbi Shimon [that is, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the author of the Zohar whose memorial day we celebrate on the 33rd day of the Omer] and Rabbi Elazar ben Shamua. And they reestablished the Torah. We learn that they all died between Passover and Shavuot. (Talmud, Yevomat, 62b)