Tag Archive | Parsha

This week’s recommended reading: 5th Adar – 11th Adar, 5769


Tetzaveh (Exodus 27:20-30:10) Clothes Make the Man – by Rabbi Max Weimman

Advanced Parsha – Tetzaveh (Exodus 27:20-30:10) Splendor in the Quest – by Rabbi Noson Weisz – Aish Jerusalem

The Kehot Chumash – Parshah Tetzaveh An interpolated translation and commentary based on the works of the Lubavitcher RebbeDownload the Complete Parshah in PDF Format

Rebbe Nachman’s Wisdom – “KAPTZIN PASHA”, By Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum

Chassidic PearlsSpiritual Eyes – Tetzaveh – By: Rabbi Lazer Brody

Stories for the Shabbat Table100 Questions – BeShalach – By The Baal Shem Tov

Holidays and Fast DaysPurim – Rebbe Nachman on Purim – By Breslev Israel staff

CHABAD.ORGJewish HolidaysHoliday Guide – Purim How-to


This week’s recommended reading: 28th Shevat – 4th Adar, 5769

Old Books

Trumah (Exodus 25:1-27:19)Inside and Out – by Rabbi Max Weimman

Advanced Parsha – Trumah (Exodus 25:1-27:19)Of Cathedrals and Tents – by Rabbi Noson Weisz – Aish Jerusalem

ASCENT LIGHTS – Contemporary Iluminations from the director of Ascent-of-Safed – Trumah (Exodus 25:1-27:19) Elevation Concentration – By Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter

Rebbe Nachman’s Wisdom – “A Man of Faith”, By Rebbe Natan of Breslev

The Essential Rebbe NachmanSong of Delight By Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum

Chassidic PearlsA Worthy Sanctuary – Teruma – With Rabbi Lazer Brody

Stories for the Shabbat Table100 Questions – BeShalach – By The Baal Shem Tov

Holidays and Fast DaysA Happy Purim! – By Rebbetzen Shaindel Moscowitz

Blessing the Sun – The “Halacha Sources” booklet on Birkas HaChamah is now available for free download on the “Halacha Sources” website: click here

This week’s recommended reading: 21st/27th Shevat 5769.

Old Books

Mishpatim (Exodus 21-24)- Pipelines to Heaven – by Rabbi Max Weimman

Advanced Parsha – Mishpatim (Exodus 21:1) – All in the Family – by Rabbi Noson Weisz Aish Jerusalem

Mishpatim (Exodus 21-24) – Contemporary Iluminations from the director of Ascent-of-SafedStatutes from Sinai – By Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter

The editorial page of Breslev Israel’s English websiteRabbi Noah and the Big Six By Rabbi Lazer Brody

The Debtor’s Mentality – “The Essential Rebbe Nachman”, Part 2 – By Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum

Laughing at the WorldRebbe Nachman’s Wisdom By Yaacov Dovid Shulman

Chassidic PearlsUnder Fire – Mishpatim – With Rabbi Lazer Brody

Parshat MishpatimReincarnation – Spiritual Foundations – By The Baal Shem Tov

Holidays and Fast DaysHow do we Celebrate Purim? – By Breslev Israel staff

Holidays and Fast DaysRebbe Nachman on Purim– By Breslev Israel staff

This week’s recommended reading:

Old Books

ParshaYitro (Exodus 18-20)- Did You Hear What He Didn’t Say?

Advanced Parsha – Yitro (Exodus 18-20) – Yours to Command

Rebbe Nachman on Money – “The Essential Rebbe Nachman”, Part 1 – By Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum

Anger and Financial LossRebbe Nachman’s Wisdom By Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum

Chassidic PearlsPaying for Parents Sins, Fair or Not? – With Rabbi Lazer Brody

Tu B’ShvatMan is a Tree – By Rabbi Lazer Brody

Hashem’s SignatureTu B’Shvat – By Rabbi Lazer Brody

This week’s recommended reading:

Beshalach (Exodus 13:17-17:16)- What Do I Do?

Advanced Parsha – Beshalach (Exodus 13:17-17:16)- Spiritual Quality Time

Rebbe Nachman on Friendship – “The Essential Rebbe Nachman”, Part 5

Chassidic PearlsThe Silent Scream With Rabbi Lazer Brody

Tu B’ShvatWhy Israel? – By Jacob Rupp

The Tu B’shvat Seder – By Breslev Israel staff

Pinchas (Numbers 25:10-30:1) – Lover of Peace or Fanatic?

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.

Pinchas (Numbers 25:10-30:1) – Preserving Your Legacy the Jewish Way

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.

From the Orchards of Jerusalem – secrets on the Parsha – Parsha Pinchas

From the Orchards of Jerusalem,
reprinted with kind permission of:

by Daneal Weiner

Parsha Pinchas

Parshas Pinchas

opens with the zealousness of Pinchas which comes right after the end

of last weeks parsha which was…the zealousness of Pinchas?!? But before we get into that, I must preface this weeks vort with some preface-like words from Rav Wolfson.

Rav Wolfson wants it to be clear that Prince Zimri, whom Pinchas killed, was the very same Prince Shelumiel son of Tsurishadai who merited bringing a sacrifice at the inauguration of the Mishkan. To this day we do not say tachanun on the 5th of Nissan in celebration of his korban. His is certainly not a wicked man! Not even an average man. The point is that we can’t imagine the spiritual level that he was on nor the trials he had to endure. There is no question of what act was taking place, however, G-d forbid we should look at Zimri as just some womanizer.

Rav Wolfson speaks in the name of the Satmar Rav zt’l, Rav Yonatan Eibschitz zt’l, Rav Chaim Vital zt’l and other Torah giants, all who praise Shelumiel/Zimri. He actually had 4 names. Another is Shaul son of the Canaanitess. This means he was one of the 70 who went down to Egypt 250 years earlier! No, no average man. So we know what he did but we don’t know what he was doing. The aforementioned Rabbonim talk about it but, unfortunately, that’s beyond the scope of this paper. (Always wanted to say that.) Either that or I haven’t any of their sforim.

The same idea applies to all Israel of that generation. We know that they failed 10 tests but we won’t understand their actions until after the mashiach comes. I did get a hairs breadth worth of help from Rabbi Tatz who explains the word ‘midbar.’ The definition is desert. ie: sand, barren of life, dry heat. That’s fine for when we were 8 years old but what comes next? Every word in the Torah has 70 facets, even the word ‘midbar’. For kids over 8, Rabbi Tatz explains a ‘midbar’ is a place that is SPIRITUALLY barren of all holiness. There are no vacuums, so when the Kdusha isn’t there, you can bet your radon detector that tuma is. A midbar is a place devoid of all kedusha and filled with every type and force of tumah!

The clouds of glory weren’t just the worlds first sun block. They were like cells of healthy marrow transplanted into a cancerous environment. If we could barely pass a test of giving a begger a dollars with a smile, we are certainly in no position to cast aspersion on our ancestors tests in the ‘midbar’.

We will be talking about what Zimri did wrong but it has to be heard in context of who he was and where and when. With that in mind…

25:11 “Pinchas, the son of Elazar, the son of Aharon the priest…”

Rashi says this lineage was brought down because the people were taunting him saying, “The grandson of one who fattened pigs for worship had the gall to kill a prince of Israel?!?” Pinchas’ mother was a daughter of Yisro and Yisro was an idolater priest who had another name, Pituel, which means “fattens for god.” After Yisro heard about the Splitting of the Sea and the fight against Amaleik he converted to Judaism. His daughter (or granddaughter, according to some) gave birth to Pinchas!

Rav Shternbach explains that when it comes to newcomers to Judaism the general consensus is that they are religious fanatics. They always want to do those…mitzvah things. Not just what get’s learned through 8th grade. They take on extraneous stringencies. They pray like they’re talking to Someone. Just being plain Jewish isn’t good enough for them. Members of Israel were accusing Pinchas of hot headed zealousness he got from Yisro’s side of the family. Therefore the Torah comes to tells us that Pinchas is the son of Elazar, the son of Aharon! It was dad’s FFB (Frum From Birth) side that took action! A grandson of an ohaiv shalom v’rodaif shalom– a lover and chaser of peace, that was the trait of Pinchas which caused him to act! And we see, measure for measure Hashem rewarded him saying (25:10-12), “Pinchas…turned back My wrath…so I did not consume the Children of Israel in My vengeance…say [to Israel] I give him My covenant of peace.'”

The Chanukas HaTorah brings down an incredible medrish that says Hashem is giving Pinchas his eternal reward starting now! How could that be? Our Sages say there is no reward for mitsvos in this world because there CAN’T be. It’s a different currency. Our physical existence limits the soul. Our souls must experience the death of the body, part of the reparation process, before being able to receive true rewards. Granted, the more spirituality a person attains the less he is limited by the physical. Still, to start receiving actual mitsva reward, how is it possible?

There are an elite few who achieve such a state of spiritual perfection that even their physical bodies become spiritual! These people can go straight up to heaven and bypass the death process. The Gemorah lists nine such people (plus one honorable mention.) It would follow that this “by-passing” of death phase means these individuals are already connected to the eternity beyond death, even while alive in this world! Such a person is fit for the eternal rewards even in this world. The medrish Yalkut Shimoni tells us that Pinchas was Eliyahu HaNavi! Eliyahu HaNavi who did not die but road a fiery chariot up to heaven. If that’s who Pinchas was then he would be able to start collecting his rewards right now!

Rav Wolfson asks, how is his reward of peace measure for measure for the deed? We said above that Pinchas was a peace chaser and was rewarded with peace but what he DID was to kill Zimri and Cosby. How does the reward fit wit that action?

Psalm 106 says that it wasn’t the killing of Zimri and Cozbi that stopped the plague but that Pinchas prayed and the plague stopped. What plague? Moshe just told the judges to sentance anyone involved in idolatry. Next thing we know is an Israelite took an Midianitess and Pinchas stopped the plague!? Where did the plague come from?

Psalm 106:30 says, “Vaya’amod Pinchas vayifalel, vatayatsar hamagaifa.” ‘Vayifalel‘ is from tfila. Usually we see it ‘hispalel‘ which is the hispa’el verb form. It indicates an action for ones self. Shaving and showering are words in the hispa’el form. That’s why tfila is too. We are praying for ourselves. So does T’hilim use a simple verb form? Weren’t Pinchas’ prayers for himself as well for Klal Yisrael? Believe it or not, NO!

They ones dying in the plague were members of the tribe of Shimon who wanted to kill Pinchas for killing their Prince! That’s what and who the plague was about. It had nothing with Moshe and the sentencing of the idolators. And now we understand why Pinchas is ‘falel‘ing and not hispalel‘ing. Because he’s praying for people who want to kill him! The most selfless prayer in history. It’s for Pinchas’ selfless praying for the welfare of his fellow Jews at the expense of his own life that Hashem rewarded him, measure for measure, with eternal life.

Hashem gives Pinchas “brisi shalom“- My covenant of peace. Hashem indoctrinated Pinchas into the priesthood. If you look in the Torah, the letter vav in shalom is written broken. The break is a signal to say the vav shouldn’t be there. Shalom minus a vav is ‘shaleim‘- whole or complete. The Sha’arei Aharon brings the Gemorah Keddushin which uses this to learn out the law that a priest can not serve unless he is whole or complete (ie: not cripple nor any broken bones).

So why not leave the vav out all together? Many words are written chaser– missing the vav. The Sha’arei Aharon adds that although we know this letter should be a vav, what we HAVE is a yud with a dash of ink under it. The numeric equivalent for shin, lamed, YUD, mem is 380. Pinchas had 380 descendants serve in the Temples. Oh, they didn’t serve all together. There was a ‘break’ in the middle. 80 in the first Temple and 300 in the second.

25:14,15 “The name of the slain Israelite man who was slain with the Midianitess was Zimri son of Salu, Prince of Shimon. And the name of the slain Midianite woman was Cozbi, daughter of Tsur…” As we said above, we heard this at the end of last weeks Parsha. Not exactly, though. The first time, all we know is that its a Jewish man, a shiksa and a sin. Now we get names. But it reiterates the event, that he was slain WITH her. Clarification or repetition? Here is how the Arvei Nachal pieces together his explanation:

Anybody ever learn the Gemorah about the beating in the grave? The Gemorah says that an angel comes to us in the grave and asks, “Excuse me ol’ chap, could you tell me your name?” If the deceased was a wicked man then he won’t remember his name and the angel will start beating him. If he is a rasha– wicked then why doesn’t the angel just come down swinging? Why ask for a name? Why doesn’t the rasha know his own name? Are all angels British? All good questions.

Lets start with answering another question. What is in a name? Everything is. Our name is our DNA. Everyone on earth has a specific purpose to help perfect the world. Each has his/her job to do. So our name is our G-dly purpose. Our name is why we are alive! Going a step further, our name is also our umbilical cord to Heaven. Since we our here for His purpose, and since our name is that purpose, our name is also our pipeline for sustenance. The more mitsvos a person does, the more he fulfills his purpose, the bigger, wider, greater his cord to heaven. This makes one capable of receiving more Divine providence. But as one sins, the name/cord shrinks, shrivels, dries up. Pretty soon a letter drops off. Then another. Eventually, a rasha kills himself when he erases his own name. He has disconnected his own cord.

There is another Gemorah that says a rasha, even while approaching the gates of Gehenom, doesn’t do tshuva! Those who’ve spent a lifetime rationalizing and justifying their wickedness still can’t see the falsehood. It’s been ingrained even into their very souls. “What’d I do? It’s dog eat dog! Everyone does it! I got him before he got me! It’s just business!!!” The only way to impress upon these poor souls that they are wicked is to let them know they did themselves in. “Excuse me mate, could you tell me your name?” When they can’t, it makes the point. Also, now see that

some angels are from down under.

Another piece of the Arvei Nachal’s answer is to know that atonement from death has two parts. Judgment and mercy. How much judgment was enacted by the death and how much more will Hashem meifully let it atone for. A death sentence by the Beis Din– Jewish court (any sentence for that matter) is an atonement for the sin. Death at the hand of a zealot is equal to death at the hands of Beis Din. Jewish laws of zealousy are very specific. The relevant one is that the zealot has to strike at the very moment of the crime. A second early or late and the zealot is nothing but a murderer who could be sentenced to death himself. Now we have all the pieces of the Arvei Nachal’s answer.

In last weeks parsha, the enormity of the sin of Zimri, even though he lead a righteous life, made it his final sin. It left him and Cosbi nameless in Heaven and, likewise, nameless in the parsha. They were cut off. Their time was up! But they didn’t die ‘naturally’, accidentally or as victims of murder. Along came the zealot Pinchas and, as this weeks parsha points out, “…the slain Israelite man who was slain with the Midianitess…” Pinchas struck at the right moment. His act was zealousy and not murder. He was the hand of the Beis Din. “The name… was Zimri son of Salu, Prince of Shimon. And the name of the slain Midianite woman was Cozbi…” Along with their execution was a complete atonement for their sins! Their names are reinstated!

GRRRRRRRREAT dvar Torah!!! (The delivery wasn’t too bad either.)

27:17 (Moshe is praying to Hashem for a successor to lead Israel) “…who will go out before them and come in before them, who shall take them out and bring them in.” If the leader is already ‘out before them‘ then why the repetition of ‘taking out and bringing in‘?

The Gemorah Sanhedrin says that in the end of days the leaders of the generation will have the face of a dog. Rabbi Yisroel Salant explains: What happens when you walk a dog? He runs out in front of you to the length of the leash and periodically he will look back to make sure that HE is heading the right way. If he feels the rope tug and looks back and sees you turning he will quickly change direction and again run out in front. So who is doing the leading?

I once called my Jewish State Senator’s office to lodge a complaint. He was written up in an article as trying to do something not Torah sanctioned. The staff member I was speaking to told me that this isn’t the Senator’s official position. He is still waiting to see where public opinion is. I tried to explain that when a society drags itselfdown, I would want a leader who will stand on his own morals. The response was “that may be your opinion but the 10 other voters on your block may think differently.” How wise our Sages are. It wasn’t enough for Moshe to pray that his successor is out in front but that he is, in fact, doing the leading.

Which leads us right into a the end. Shabbat Shalom.

NOTE: These articles are available as a palm pilot e-book. click here for details.

This Parsha, reprinted with the kind permission of:

From the Orchards of Jerusalem – Parsha Balak

From the Orchards of Jerusalem, reprinted with kind permission of:


by Daneal Weiner

Parsha Balak

Parshas Balak

We left off last week with Moshe Rabbeinu not doing too well. He was told he would not lead Bnei Yisrael into Eretz Yisrael. Still, his job was not over yet and he brought Bnei Yisrael to the border and began the conquering of the nations.

At the end of Chukas, the Torah tells us that Sichon, king of the Emori, waged war against Moav and took a portion of their land. Bnei Yisrael then came and tsushmettered Sichon and the Emorites. (Only then the U.N. spoke out condemning aggressive behavior) Next was the war with Og and his valley of the giants and they too were cut down to a sprout. (Suddenly I’m craving some sweet corn.) Bnei Yisrael is now pointed at Moav. Moav is nervous. The king of Moav, Balak, knows that Hashem forbade Bnei Yisrael to attacking Moav. Since, however, they just conquered from Sichon land which Sichon had taken from Moav, Balak was afraid that this was a way around the law. Once their foot was in the door they’ll now come all the way in, so to speak. (Thank you Artscroll) Balak also knows that Bnei Yisrael’s power is not from the physical realm and he needs a spiritual means of defeating them. He seeks out the assistance of the infamous prophet of the gentiles, Bilaam.

(22:2) “And Balak ben Tsipor had seen all that Bnei Yisrael had done to the Emorites.” What’s the difference between seeing what Bnei Yisrael did or ALL that they did? What’s being added? What Balak saw was not just the end of a nation but the beginning of the end for ALL 10 nations.

Back in Breishis, by the Bris ben Habisarim- Covanant of the Parts, Hashem told Avraham Aveinu that 10 nations that would have to be destroyed for Bnei Yisrael to eternally inherit Erets Yisrael. 7 were beaten in the days of the Tanach, 3 remain for days yet to come. (Some opinions hold that 9 have been defeated and only Edom remains.) This 7-3 split is not unusual. Just ask anyone in the Bnei Brith bowling league. We also see it by the 10 sfirot- spiritual realms which envelope our world. 7 of them are very prominent in the goings on of our world now and 3 are more behind the scenes, for days to come. The 10 plagues were split, 7 & 3, between two parshas. But I digress.

Although Bilaam was tops in tuma- impure forces, Balak was no small fish himself. He was a world renowned warrior and knew how to manipulate tuma as well. He knew that the 10th victory of Bnei Yisrael over the 10th nation would bring the Mashiach and they were now under way! When the Mashiach comes it will be the end to the forces of tuma and needless to say, those who live by it. Balak wanted to stop that from happening.

How is it Balak is so up on the Mashiach? He should be. He’s a decendant of Lot and a precendent(?) to Ruth, mother of the Mashiach! What did he do to deserve to be a link in this chain? He offered up 48 korbanos- sacrifices to Hashem in order to destroy Bnei Yisrael. He did it with such devotion and dedication that Hashem rewarded him with a descendant that was going to offer up 1000’s of korbanos, but with the right intentions. That decendant was Shlomo Hamelech. Talk about your lo lishma turning to lishma!

What could possibly give Balak and Bilaam the idea that they could succeed in destroying Israel? Rav Moshe Shternbach makes the question even stronger. Two things were heard the world over. The first was the revelation at Mt. Sinai.

The Torah spends a few verses talking about the thundering and the other sounds heard from over Mt. Sinai. A Midrash tells the story [and Psalm 109 gives a little insight as well]: Not a peep was heard out of nature when a tremendous rumbling sound began to be heard the world over. All the kings of the world spontaneously sang praise to Hashem [u’v’haichalo kulo omehr kavod]. With the direct manifetation of Hashem now in the world, their souls, even from within their wicked bodies had to give honor. Consciously, they had no clue what was going on so they sought out Bilaam and asked, [Hashem, l’mabul yashav] “is Hashem bringing another flood?” Bilaam said, [Vayeshev Hashem Melech l’olam] “No, Hashem promised no more water and His word stands forever.” They asked maybe a flood of fire? “No, no world destruction of any kind.” “So what is that rumbling?” “Hashem has something very dear that He has been saving since 974 generations before Creation. [Hashem oze l’amo yitain] Hashem is giving His children the Torah.” Turning home the kings said [Hashem yivarech es amo bashalom!] “Let Him bless His nation with peace.” HIS nation. As long as He leaves US alone, He can bless them all He wants!” They know the responsibilities of being Hashem’s children and they weren’t interested.

Although the emphasis of this Midrash is the attitude of the kings, Rav Shternbach focuses in on how Bilaam refers to Bnei Yisrael’s relationship with Hashem as us being G-d’s children! So, again, what could possibly make Bilaam think that he could assist Balak and curse the Children, Israel to the point of destruction?

Rav Shternbach’s answer is that Bilaam and Balak were hoping their curse would affect the eirev rav. The group of tag along Egyptians who were a source of much grief for Bnei Yisrael. Once they were affected by the cursed, them not being G-d’s children, by association and assimilation Bilaam guessed they would weaken Bnei Yisrael’s integrity till they lost all favor with Hashem, ch’v’sh. Then we’d be defeatable in battle.

The Rav P’nimim Chumash has a different answer to this same question. Balak knew his army was inadequate and no other nation would be crazy enough to help him. He felt if the other nations would see the great Bilaam cursing Bnei Yisrael, then they would have the confidence to join forces.

This finally brings us to the 2nd thing that was heard round the world……Bilaam’s curses which we know actually came out as BRACHOS!!! Hashem foiled that plot with the first satellite broadcast of Bilaam’s words!

Bilaam wanted Hashem’s permission to go with the representatives of Balak to curse them. Verse 22:12, Hashem said to Bilaam, “Don’t go with them.” The word for ‘with’ is ‘imahem.’ Verse 22:20, the 2nd time Bilaam asked Hashem to go Hashem says, “if you want, go with them.” The second time ‘with’ is ‘itam.’ What’s the difference between ‘imahem’ and ‘itam.’ The Vilna Gaon explains ‘imahem’ means with them in purpose and in spirit while ‘itam’ means with them only physically. Very nice explanation. But wait!?

In 22:21 Bilaam gets up and goes and in the next verse Hashem is mad at him and sends an angel down to confront him. What is Hashem angry about? He just said he could go?! If you take a look at 22:21 you will see that Bilaam went with them. WITH as in ‘same purpose and spirit’! That he was not given permission to do.

When Bilaam finally sees the angel, after a little give and take he asks the angel if he should go back? The angel says, “Go with them.” Yes! WITH with, not just with! Same purpose and spirit. What happened?! Now we can understand the insight of Rashi and his comment “in the way a person wants to go, that is the way he will be led.” Hashem gave us free choice. He’ll advise us, warn us, even threaten us. In the end, it’s our choice and which ever we choose, He’ll give us the strength for it. How much does Hashem love His children. How many parents would give their child a stick whileknowing it will be used to strike them?

Of course, the end of the story is Bilaam being killed by a sword. In the end we do have to be careful what we ask for. We just might get it and then we’ll be responsible for the consequences!

Backing up a bit, in Bilaams discussion with Balak’s messengers he says, (verse 22:18) “I can’t go beyond the word of Hashem, small or big.” That makes sense? Shouldn’t that be “big or small”? If he can’t do ‘small’, of course he can’t do ‘big’. What is he talking about then?

The Vilna Gaon, in his sefer Kol Eliyahu, answers beginning with verses 23:5 and 16 telling us Hashem put a ‘davar’ in the mouth of Bilaam. Davar means an utterance in the simple context of the verses. G-d told Bilaam what to say. But davar also means a ‘thing’. A physical thing. What thing did Hashem put in Bilaams mouth? Rashi says 2 things. A fish-hook and a horse-bit (see Rashi 23:16) A hook draws out and a bit holds back.

Bilaam is trying to curse Bnei Yisrael. He can only do it by calling upon Hashem’s names of Din- Judgment. One is Elokim. But the first two letters E-l spells a name of Mercy! (E-l rachum v’chanun). Another name of Judgment is yud-heh which happens to be the first 2 letters of yud heh vav and heh, another name of mercy! Bilaam didn’t care which he’d use, he just wanted one of them to work. When Bilaam tried to use yud heh, Hashem would pull the hook and draw out the full yud heh vav and heh!! When he’d try to pronounce Elokim, Hashem would yank back on the bit and only E-l would come out! Now what Bilaam said makes sense. “I can’t go beyond the word of Hashem, small or big!” Neither the small name nor the big name.

Finally, after failing to curse 3 times and giving blessings, Bilaam says to Balak, “I’ll give you an idea” (verse 24:14) “l’cha i’ahtscha.” We might not have got them this way but here’s another way. Rashi tells us what this advice was. “Hashem hates promiscuity. Send out your daughters!” Again, what makes Bilaam think, after all his foiled plans, that there is still a way?

Twice Bnei Yisrael had sinned big time. The calf and the spies. Neither time had Hashem destroyed Bnei Yisrael. Bilaam thought the rules were “2 strikes and you’re out!” But Bnei Yisrael wasn’t out. In the back of Bilaam’s mind he thought they may never be fully destroyed. So what suddenly changed? Remember we said that Balak was no small fish in tuma? Balak had Bilaam try to curse 3 times!!!, Bilaam said, “OOOOH! 3 times and you’re out!? There may be a chance yet!”

We know we’ll never be out. Not nationally speaking. But each Jews comes up to bat. Make sure the way you want to go is to be G-d’s child and round the bases the Torah way. If you desire it in that direction you will be lead (and I’m telling you now, it’s clockwise).

A great way to start is to ask Hashem for a home run Shabbot Shalom.

This Parsha, reprinted with the kind permission of: .

From the Orchards of Jerusalem – Parsha Korach

From the Orchards of Jerusalem, reprinted with kind permission of: .

by Daneal Weiner

Parsha Korach

Have we got mussar in all shapes and sizes!

Parshas Korach

opens with the words, “Vayikach Korach“- And Korach took. Rashi says Korach took himself aside, i.e., he separated himself. The Gemorah Sanhedrin knows there are plenty other words denoting separation, if that’s all it wanted to say. This word means he took something. What did Korach take? Raish Lakish answers, “He took a bum deal!” Finally, an answer.

The B’eir Yoseph asks, what kind of an answer is that? Even in a bum deal, you get something! London Bridge, a pinto, swamp land in Guam. It may not work, it may break, it’s not what you expected, but you take away something! We still don’t know what Korach took!?

The B’eir Yoseph’s answer starts with a question. What made Korach think he could ‘take’ on Moshe in the first place? Rashi says Korach saw with Ruach HaKodesh– Divine inspiration, that 289 prophets would descend from him, one of whom was Shmuel Hanavi! If he has that much greatness coming from him than he must be right because if he were wrong… ouch! Would it be possible to erroneously challenge Moshe Rabbeinu and still merit such descendants?! In perfect hindsight we say, yes! Mussar lesson number one. We don’t know better than our Torah leaders no matter how much ‘proof’ we have that we do!

(17:32) “The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households and all the people who were with Korach, and their entire wealth.” Well, that gives us a pretty clear picture of what’s going on. The next verse continues, “Them and all that was theirs descended live into the pit.” After having just said “their households” and “their entire wealth” went down, what did this next verse’s “all that was theirs” add to our picture?

It added the shirt Korach left at the dry cleaners. It came right off the rack and went down into the pit. A needle the neighbor borrowed came darting through the crowds and headed south. All his single socks which disappeared in the laundry just reappeared, long enough to say good-bye. Bnei Yisrael witnessed the worlds first heat-seeking vacuum and if it belong to Korach, Dasan or Aviram it was HOT! [Rather than adding the episode of Korach to one of the six daily remembrances it’s been the custom of Jews to sort out their laundry and in memory of Korach say, “Where into hell did my sock go!?”]

How was it that Korach merited such a ‘grave’ punishment AND having such tremendous descendants? One could imagine witnessing this particular miracle would instill Bnei Yisrael with confidence in Moshe. Before, while Korach was trying to sway Bnei Yisrael away from Moshe’s leadership people were wondering “Moshe? Korach? Moshe? Korach? “ After this miracle it’s, “MOSHE! MOSHE! MOSHE!” Hashem’s justice is perfect. He doesn’t reward or punish based on net figures. He rewards all to be rewarded and punishes all there is to punish. Someone deserved to be rewarded for bringing Israel to their level of faith. It happened to be the same guy who shook their faith in the first place. Mussar lesson number two, Hashem will work it ALL out.

Now that Korach and family were gone, who were all his descendants to descend from? From Korach’s sons who did Tshuva! “TSHUVA! TSHUVA! TSHUVA!” This, according to the B’eir Yoseph, was the bum deal that Raish Lakish had in mind. Korach’s sons lived and blossomed to bear the fruit of his merits and all he got was the PIT! [Hey! Who threw that heat-seeking tomato?]

Knowing that Hashem is not just exact in quantity but in quality as well, what is the measure for measure behind the heat-seeking vacuum? Perhaps (‘perhaps’ denotes warning- author is about to make something up) it starts back in Breishis when Yaakov took his family and fled Lavan’s, heading back for Israel. Breishis 32:26 says, “Yaakov was left alone…” Where did the family go? Rashi, based on a Gemorah in Chullin, says, “He forgot some small earthenware vessels and returned for them.” Let’s bear in mind that our Sages dispute whether Yaakov left Lavan’s with 600,000 sheep or 600,000 herd of sheep! He personally returned for some small earthenware vessels?! Absolutely!

Yaakov knew every person has a purpose for which they were created and Hashem gives everyone exactly what they need to perform it. To neglect something Hashem gave us smacks of a negation of why Hashem put us here. Can you imagine… “Yaakov, you forgot some small vessels.” “I’m rich. Who needs ‘em?” Of course Yaakov went back for them. Jealousy and theft are so despised by our Creator because they deny His purpose of creation! Just coveting your neighbors possessions is telling Hashem He made a mistake. Mussar lesson number 3: Someone else’s property has NOTHING to do with one’s own mission. Nada! Nil! Zero! Zilch! Need I say, efes! That goes for the tangible and the intangible as well.

It even goes beyond having the right tools and strengths for the job. Mystically speaking, within every object resides a spiritual essence of its owner. If I give a friend half of my apple it actually had been pre-arranged since creation that within that apple would reside a spiritual essence of each of us. When we say blessings on our food or use any of our possessions for good, for kindness, for serving Hashem then we are elevating a part of ourselves. “Yaakov, you forgot some small vessels.” “No sweat, I have more.” “Yaakov, you forgot a finger.” “No sweat, I have more.” Of course Yaakov went back. If he didn’t he would have forever missed out on the opportunity to elevate that aspect of himself contained within those vessels.

Rashi on “Korach, son of Yits’har, son of Kehas, son of Levi” says it doesn’t continue with, ‘Son of Yaakov’ because Yaakov asked for his name not to be mentioned with Korach’s dispute. Korach wasn’t satisfied with what he had. He wasn’t satisfied with his purpose. Rashi didn’t say Yaakov didn’t want to be remembered with ‘the wicked’ or with ‘a sinner’ but not with that dispute! Korach’s dispute was that Hashem made a mistake! Yaakov exemplified the very opposite of such foolishness. That claim has no connection to Yaakov. And measure for measure, every possession of Korach descended into the pit! Korach complained about his role. Hashem showed him and everyone exactly what his role was as defined by everything he possessed.

We said Korach felt he was correct in his rebellion against Moshe because he foresaw his descendants. The Sfas Emes asks what do they have to do with him?! What, no wicked parent ever had a righteous kid? No righteous parent ever had a wicked kid? There are no guarantees when it comes to our descendants. Why would Korach think what he saw in his descendants was a reflection of him? Let’s destroy the question and really make it stronger.

The Vilna Gaon, from Gemorah Niddah, says that while Hashem provides a child the soul, the mother provides the flesh and blood and the father gives his children the bones (or what some might call the osteo-bone component). What goes on in the physical realm is just an insight into what goes on in the spiritual realm. There are spiritual components that get passed on as well. The Jewish gene, for example. The mother provides the blood and the Torah tells us the soul resides in the blood. Ergo, only the mother determines who is a Jew.

We learn in Parshas Vayetse that when Leah spent all her years crying not to have to marry Eisav she merited marrying Yaakov and her tears also cleansed her of any spiritual impurities, She merited having all righteous children. A spiritual gene transmission (SGT) which affected the calibre of children born to her.

So case studies do show SGT does affect the calibre of the descendants. Korach was right! Wrong! Because in all those cases the spiritual state of the parent was PRIOR to the conception of the child! Why would Korach seeing 289 righteous descendants have convinced him he was right tchallengMoshe now? If his yetser horah defeated him now it would not retroactively affect the family line he already started years before!

The Sfas Emes says Korach had a piece of wisdom up his sleeve. Korach knew the physical is a manifestation of the spiritual. Physical inheritance is a manifestation of SGT’s! Just as the father’s property goes to the sons, acquired before or after birth, so too do repercussions of sins, before or after birth! When Korach saw his descendants were 288 prophets plus Shmuel Hanavi it had to be he was right because, as we said above but now we’ll be much more dramatic, if he were wrong he would have been so wrong, soooooo wrong, that the severity of the crime could not possibly enable him to have prophet descendants and the likes of Shmuel HaNavi. The burden of the transgression on his sons would have been too great even if they did not take a sinful path. That was the one thing Korach knew.

But there was one more thing that Korach didn’t know and never would have imagined!

The language used for negative SGT’s is ‘pokaid’- visits. Hashem visits the iniquity of the fathers on the sons. What was the prayer Moshe said before Hashem in judging Korach and his cohorts? 16:29, “If these die like the death of all men, and the destiny of all men is visited upon them…” Did you catch it– visited upon them! Moshe was saying in his first words, “Korach, if you’re right and I’m wrong then you’ll die the death of normal men and your sons will inherit as usual, physically and spiritually! But if I am right and you are wrong,” Moshe’s continues, “then [you will] descend ALIVE into the pit!” You and all your possessions! No death and no possessions means no inheritance, not physical NOR spiritual! Shmuel HaNavi could descend from Korach in spite of the magnitude of his sin!!! What an incredible mussar packed vort by the Sfas Emes!

Keeping in line with a theme in a few past parshas, what was Korach really doing? He saw the 10 plagues, the splitting sea, the revelation on Sinai. He was a member of the tribe of Kahat, a Levite family designated to carry the holy articles of the Sanctuary. He was not a wicked man. What was he really trying to do?

Parshas Korach has 95 verses. The mnemonic for a parsha is a word whose numeric value is the number of verses in the parsha and is also a hint to the message of the parsha. The mnemonic for Korach is Daniel. Daled, nun, yud, aleph, lamed adds up to 95. Of all the names that equal 95, why was Daniel chosen?

Unique to the Book of Daniel is the date of the final redemption which is buried in its text. Many Sages over the millennia have calculated dates if we were worthy of redemption. If we merited it coming before its time. But THE guaranteed time should all else fail is only in the book of Daniel. What does the time of the final redemption have to do with Korach?

Korach’s complaint to Moshe was, “Who put you in charge?” At Mt. Sinai Hashem said “They [Bnei Yisrael] will hear Me speak to you [Moshe] so that they will also believe in you forever.” Did Korach really think Moshe wasn’t in charge?

Rav Nota Schiller explains that Hashem gave us the reality of prayer and it links our desires and actions into the world. (Like we said about Leah!) If we desire and pray towards a particular end, we could bring about that end even if it might not have been Hashem’s ‘plan A’ so to speak. Korach knew Hashem had chosen Moshe but maybe it was because of Moshe’s incredibly strong prayers that Hashem agreed. Maybe that was plan B? “Who put you in charge, Moshe? Hashem or your prayers?” What did Korach feel was plan A? Korach’s other complaint, (16:3) “It is too much for you! For the entire assembly, all of them are holy and Hashem is among them; why do you exalt yourselves over the congregation of Hashem?!” Plan A was for the entire nation to be priests! Hashem called us “Ahm mamleches Kohanim!”- An entire nation of priests!

From an allusion in the Prophets it is learned that in the time of the final redemption, with the Third Temple built and with the entire world recognizing Hashem as King, the entire Jewish nation will become the Temple priests and we will service the rest of the world who will be like the new Israelites! The entire nation WILL be priests!

With this background Rav Wolfson brings from the Arizal that Korach was trying to speed up the end of days! After having just heard that the Jews were now to wander for 40 years in the desert, a microcosm of 2000 years of exile, Korach felt Moshe’s plan B was a failure. A show meant to close after a brief run was just booked for the next 2,000 years! The final curtain hidden in the book of Daniel. Our Sages phrase it, “[Korach] ate [the fruit] before it was ripe.” He had a good motive. Call it good intentions. We know the road to our single socks is paved with good intentions. Mussar lesson number one was that we don’t know better than our Torah leaders no matter how much ‘proof’ we have that we do! The time wasn’t right and Korach should have waited. Perhaps this is why the book of Daniel concludes with, “Praiseworthy are those who wait…”

This Shabbos is the first in the month of Tamuz. Tamuz is a time of destruction. By reading Parshas Korach with its mnemonic, Daniel we are comforted knowing that although the exile has been decreed so too has the redemption been fixed.

Rav Wolfson continues saying Reuven, who was the forth flag in the camp, parallels the fourth month which is Tamuz. Part of Korach’s plan was convincing members of the tribe of Reuven to side with him because when the redemption comes the month of Tamuz will revert to a time of festivity and celebrations.

The firepans of the 250 members of Reuven where beaten into a covering for the Alter called a “Tsipui” which shares a root word with “tsapit“- hope. In the third Temple, all of the vessels will be the same as those of the first two Temples except for one. The Alter will be a new size. The Alter, like the book of Daniel, is unique in relation to the final redemption. The message Hashem is giving by covering the Alter with the pans of Korach’s rebellion was to put a ‘lid’ on the push for the final redemption. But the lid is a lid of hope! It won’t come by rebellion. Only by following Torah leaders and doing mitsvos.

One mitzvah to come out of this parsha is not to be like Korach and his Cohorts. The exact language of the Gemorah is not “don’t go looking for arguments” or “don’t get into arguments.” It says don’t hold onto an argument or you’re considered as having the traits of Korach and his associates. Where does the Gemorah learn it from? From Moshe’s SECOND attempt to make peace with Dasan and Aviram. I know I’m always right when I get into a fight with a friend but can I claim to be more right than Moshe Rabbeinu? Moshe had sent for Dasan and Aviram once already and they refused to go to him. The second attempt is where the Gemorah learns this mitsvah from and that time Moshe went to them! Arguments happen. They’re unavoidable. But how long will they go on for? After only one try to talk things out Moshe would have been considered to be holding on to the fight! He would have been guilty of being like Korach! What a mussar lesson in the lengths we must go.

One of Korach’s colleagues, his wife made him drunk. He passed out and slept through the whole show down. She saved his life. There are indeed some people out there who if they just went to bed they’d be much better off. All sorts of mussar in all shapes and sizes.

Have a Torah followed, mitsva filled, happy with your lot Shabbot Shalom!

This Parsha, reprinted with the kind permission of:

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