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.]
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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)
Following excerpts from Weekly Torah Portion “Mind over Matter” by Rabbi Nosson Weisz, of Aish Jerusalem, concerning the Parsha Emor.
The period between the first day of Passover and Shavuot, a chunk of time totaling seven weeks, precisely 49 days, is known as the days of the Omer. There is a commandment to count off these days and weeks as they pass. The Shulchan Aruch, (Orach Chaim 489,) lists the rules: basically, we are instructed to recite a blessing concerning counting the Omer each and every night [in Jewish law the new day begins at night as in Genesis; ‘it was evening than it was morning‘] and then say how many of the seven weeks and forty-nine days have elapsed.The period between the first day of Passover and Shavuot, a chunk of time totaling seven weeks, precisely 49 days, is known as the days of the Omer. There is a commandment to count off these days and weeks as they pass. The Shulchan Aruch, (Orach Chaim 489,) lists the rules: basically, we are instructed to recite a blessing concerning counting the Omer each and every night [in Jewish law the new day begins at night as in Genesis; ‘it was evening than it was morning’] and then say how many of the seven weeks and forty-nine days have elapsed.
HOW CAN ANYONE COMMAND YOU TO FEEL?
One of the most confusing aspects of life, which impacts particularly on our attitude to our relationship with God and the way we relate to religion, is the establishment of the proper balance between thoughts and feelings. In the establishment of what we consider true reality, does what we feel or what we know play the dominant role, or is there some instinctive combination of knowledge and feeling that human beings were programmed to apply? We shall devote this essay to exploring the Torah resolution of this problem, because the Mitzvah of counting the Omer holds the key to this aspect of life.
Inasmuch as the Exodus and the Redemption were events that required no input on our parts – we passively experienced being freed from spiritual bondage just as we experienced our physical release from Egyptian slavery – a Divinely implanted spirituality was sufficient to provide the underpinnings of these events. On the other hand, the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai required our active co-operation and participation. We had to resolve to dedicate ourselves to its observance in order to make its acceptance possible. Receiving God’s Torah was not something wonderful that could merely happen to us, like the emancipation. The acceptance of the Torah amounts to the establishment of an eternal covenant. A covenant is a negotiated agreement that requires two active participants.
Following are some excerpts from the essay “Growing Pains“, which I strongly recommend you read, it’s a must. This essay is written by Rabbi Nosson Weisz, of AISH.com, who writes in his section Mayanot, Wellsprings.
We Jews subscribe to the belief that the world is run by Divine Providence. God obligated Himself under the terms of the Covenant that He signed with us, the Jewish people, at Mt. Sinai, to treat us as the most beloved treasure of all peoples (Exodus 19:5). The very undertaking to provide Jews with special treatment assumes a world subject to Divine direction. Since it is quite unthinkable to suspect God of deliberately violating His agreements, we are forced to conclude that the events of Jewish history constitute an exact demonstration of God’s interpretation of this obligation to treat us as His most beloved treasure. Needless to say, in light of the horrors that the Jewish people have endured over the centuries, especially the most recent horror of the Holocaust, the perception of our ‘treasured’ status is problematic to say the least.
With an eye to discharging this Jewish civic obligation, this essay focuses on the current conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. We are totally demoralized by daily acts of senseless terror perpetrated by people who enthusiastically sacrifice their lives to create havoc and murder against innocent civilians. No matter what solution we attempt, we seem quite helpless to stop the carnage. To add to our national frustration, a large part of the ‘civilized’ world regards us Jews as the perpetrators of the very violence of which we are the victims. Why is this happening to us? Why can’t we reach a peaceful accommodation with our Palestinian neighbors no matter what concessions we offer?