Tag Archive | Talmud

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:

End of Days: Where are we?

Intriguing and worth your reading, in order to have a better picture of where we are.

If you hadn’t done so already, you’re invited to read Yeranen Yaakov’s three parts translation of “End of Days: Where are we?”: part 1, part 2, part 3)

From the Orchards of Jerusalem – Parsha Emor

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


by Daneal Weiner

Parsha Emor

Based on the Torah of Rav Moshe Shapirah

We are now in the middle of fulfilling, to the best of our Temple-less ability, a mitsva which comes out of this week’s

Parshas Emor.

The Gemorah Berachos testifies that the Sages of the Great Assembly fixed for Israel her blessings and prayers. Right now, the days between Pesach and Shavuos, we are making the blessing “al sefiras ha’omer”- on the counting of the Omer. That’s quite a blessing to make, stopping to think about it, since A) we’re not counting the omer but the days since offering the Omer. B) The sacrifice wasn’t the omer but an omers worth of barley. The blessing should be al sefiras habarley. So what is the significance of the omer? What is the message of the Men of the Great Assembly?

It has been written in the name of the Ari Hakadosh that omer has the gematria of shai- shin yud– 310. If I wrote that, I’d be writing the obvious. Since the Ari wrote it, he is alluding to the mysteries of creation. But before we go that far back…

Iyov offers a few verses of praise to the concept of wisdom. In it he says, “V’hachachma, mayayin tavoh?”- And wisdom, from where does it come? On a deeper level he is saying, “Wisdom, from ayin does it come!” Ayin as in yeish mayayin– creation ex-nihilo. We’re back to creation already. Wisdom came from creation. Since everything obviously came post nihil, something more is being said here. Maybe getting from Latin back to the Hebrew will help.

We start with, Yeish mayayin– something from nothing. Add in Iyov’s “chachma from ayin does it come” and the result is; Yeish maychachma mayayin– that which is came from chachma which came from ayin. In layman’s terms, First G-d created wisdom and from that He brought forth the universe. We could have saved ourselves a whole lot of work if we took a look at the Targum Yerushalmi on the first words of the Torah, Bereishis barah which it translates as Bereishis b’chuchma bara. Of course, then we would have seen the words but would not have understood what it was saying.

That is actually the difference between chachma and bina– insight/understanding. Chachma is having information. Bina is understanding it. Chachma is a potentiality whereas bina is an actualization. As the Vilna Gaon puts it, chachma is a grasp of the mitsius– reality but not a grasp of its mahus– essence. With chachma you know it but don’t know what it is. Bina tells you what. That is why the letters of chachma spell koach ma. Koach, means ‘potentiality’ (as apposed to po’el– actualized) and ma means ‘what’. Chachma is the potentiality of answering the question what. Chachma is an awareness of a mitsius and Bina will get you to the mahus.

So first was this nothingness that we call ayin. Of course, it wasn’t nothing but only and entirely the mitsius of Hashem. Then Hashem brought all koach– potentiality into being with the creation of chachma. From that came out the entire world.

In Shemos (31:3), by the designation of Betsalel and Ohaliav as the chief craftsmen of the Mishkan, it says, “I have filled them with a G-dly spirit, with wisdom, insight and knowledge, and with every craft.” Rashi says, “‘Wisdom’- What a person hears from another and learns. ‘Insight’- Intimate understand of all the things he learned. ‘And knowledge’- Divine inspiration.” It seems Rashi is concurring with all we’ve been saying. Wisdom is an effortless collection of information from others while insight/understanding is the result of toiling in cross-examination and comparison of all the collected information. In this context, a Chacham is someone with a broad grasp of mitsius while a Navon (from the root of bina) is someone who has internalize that mitsius into his own mitsius.

The Midrash Vayikra Rabbah 28:1 says, “Rav Yanai said, ‘The way of the world is for one to bring a measure of meat back from the market and how much toil and hardship goes into cooking it. Yet while mankind sleeps on their beds, Hashem brings winds, forms clouds, brings forth blossoms, fattens fruits, and they don’t give Him anything of it is except for the payment of an Omer. That is what is said, ‘You will bring the Omer, first of your harvest, to the Kohein.’” A somewhat troubling Midrash. There’s more.

Vayikra Rabbah 28:3; Rebbe Berachiya said, “Hashem said to Moshe, ‘Go tell them, Israel, when I was giving them the mon I gave them an omer for each and every one of them.’ That is what is said, ‘an omer per head.’ [Hashem continues] ‘And now that you are giving Me the omer [the Pesach Omer], all I get is one from all of you combined. And not only that, its not even wheat, but barley!’ That’s why Moshe went to Israel and said, ‘You will bring the Omer [of your first harvest.]’” One more.

Vayikra Rabbah 28:6 warns in the name of a dozen Sages, “Don’t ever let the mitsva of omer be light in your eyes for in its merit Avraham merited inheriting the land of Israel.” It brings other things we merited thanks to the omer, including Haman’s famous words, upon encountering Mordechai and his students learning the laws of the omer, ‘a handful of your flour pushed off 10,000 kikars of my silver.”

First we had two accusations against us of lack of appreciation, revolving around the omer, and finally warning for proper appreciation. What’s this all about?

The Maharal explains the following. The first of the harvest is the first of the newly emerging potentiality of sustenance for the world. Anything that has to it a first, that first is connected to Hashem. The first of something is the emergence of that something from its relative nothing. But once time passes, the emergence is forgotten and the object merely exists. When Israel bring her first fruits, her omer offering, we are remembering. We are recognizing that our food didn’t merely exists. Everything only came into being from a potentiality that Hashem put into the world. The omer attributes to and gives thanks to Hashem, the source of our sustenance.

The Midrash showed us an area where mankind greatly lacks appreciation of Hashem for this basic and necessary life source, and only Israel has taken measures to show proper appreciation, and we have merited many things because of it. That’s one answer for what is the omer.

The Gemorah Rosh Hashanah says that with 10 utterances Hashem created the world. It notes, however, that in Bereishis it only says, “And Hashem said…” nine times? It answers that Bereishis Barah is also counted as an utterance since David Hamelech wrote, “With the word of G-d the heavens were created.” So “In the beginning G-d created the heavens…” points to an utterance as well.

What is behind one utterance going un-uttered while 9 were? The first utterance is not a specific utterance. It is a broad utterance inclusive of all utterances to follow. That is why it says He created “es hashamayim v’es ha’arets.” The untranslatable es is a word which teaches the inclusion of information other than what is written. In the beginning G-d created the heavens, and all that was to emanate from them, and the earth, and all that would emerge from it. Bereishis barah brought into existence all mitsius but yet in a state descriptive of its mahus.

In the beginning…we said, in the name of the Ari Hakodesh, that the gematria of omer was 310. In Hebrew, shin yud- shai. All of you undoubtedly added that mitsius to your library of wisdom but maybe some of you understood its mahus. Shai is the letters yeish, as in yeish mayayin. But rather than sticking chachma inbetween yeish and ayin, we’ll use all that we’ve said to understand what is yeish really is because, after all, our Sages do call creation yeish mayayin and not yeish maychachma mayayin.

If ayin is some unimaginable state of absolute nothingness other than Hashem, then yeish is the first possible, real, potentiality created against the backdrop of ayin. The first first that was first possible. Omer is the gematria yeish. Bringing the omer, we are recognizing that the universe didn’t merely exists. Everything only came into being from a potentiality that Hashem put out from Himself. The omer attributes to and gives thanks to Hashem, the source of the universe.

A Mishna in Sota, dealing with a wife who has been acting exceedingly immodestly, she has to bring a meal offering. But unlike every other meal offering, which is brought from flour, her meal offering is brought from barley. Rabban Gamliel exclaims, “Just as her actions were those of an animal, her meal offering is of the food of an animal.”

Rabban Gamliel is, of course, giving us a broad understanding of all offerings, whether they be wheat, barley, cow or sheep. The type of sacrifice brought is the first lesson to be learned by the bearer.

This being the case, when on the second day of Pesach, Israel is commanded to bring the Omer offering, a barley offering, that is not a complimentary statement about Klal Yisrael. It indicates we are on a very animalistic level. But this is in contradistinction to just 49 days later when we will be bringing a wheat offering before Hashem.

In other words, [and believe me, they aren’t mine. I am only gathering chachma and am not holding by bina] on Pesach, when we bring the Omer, we are expressing the emergence of a new mitsius, only in its potentiality, which has yet to become an expressed mahus! The ‘animal chow’ omer is an expression of a living being who is only first emerging from his relative nothing. He is a living, breathing, functioning collection of tissues, like an animal, but not a human being yet. In just 49 short days, however, we will see that potential realized. That was Israel coming out of Egypt.

When we left Egypt, the Nation of Israel was the potentiality of a nation not yet defined by her essence. When we gathered and experienced the revelation at Mt. Sinai and heard, “I am the L-rd, your G-d Who took you out of Egypt.” what became revealed to us then was the process which had actually started 49 days before. The counting of the Omer is the bina process working on the chachma, the earliest stage of yeish. Taking it, understanding, organizing it and placing all of its parts into their proper places.

[My brain is definitely saying, “No more information, please,” but it just gets better. 10 minute brain break.]

Hashem created the world with utterances. The utterances are created with words. The words are created with letters. That process begins with the adjoining of one letter with another. Our Sages, on a noticeable number of occasions, have expressed adjoining our aleph-beis in pairs, not aleph to beis, gimel to dalet, etc., but by cutting the alphabet in half and sliding the second half back in line with the first. What comes out from this is the aleph with the lamed, the beis and the mem, the gimel and nun, etc., until the yud and shin and the chaf and sav. This arrangement is the root of the utterances of creation.

The great kabbalist, the Ramah m’Pano said that the foundation of the 10 utterances are the combinations from aleph-lamed to yud-shin and the last combination, chaf-sav, stands alone. Chaf-sav is the root of keser– crown.

Our 22 letter alphabet, cut in half, paired, and removing the last pair leaves us with 10 pairs. One pair is basis of each utterance with yud-shin, yeish, as the first and aleph-lamed as the last. Bereishis barah was the yeish from out of ayin which brought all creation into mitsius.

In a Mishna in Akatsim, Rebbe Yehoshua ben Levi says, “In the future Hashem is going to give every Tsaddik 310 worlds. As it says (Mishlei 8:21), ‘To bequeath to those who love Me, there is, and I shall fill their storehouses.’” The Bartenura on the Mishna, points out that regarding l’hanchil…yeish– To bequeath…there is, yeish has the gematria of 310. He continues, Hashem is telling us the pleasure and gratification of the righteous in the world to come will be 310 times that of this world.

The Rambam writes although the pleasure of the World to Come is unfathomable, every soul will merit it and its pleasure will not end. He intentionally included information we might not have brought in. It will not end. That is in contradistinction to the pleasure of this world which will end. So the mark of true pleasure is not just qualitative but quantitative as well. Is it fleeting or if it will endure? This adds new insight, puts a new spin on yeish and ayin which turns them entirely round.

The yeish, which has represented everything that this world is, is limited in time. Although it’s everything we call real, it’s not real at all because it will end. Ayin, which we perceived as the nothingness is not nothing but everything that IS real. It is only Hashem and not subject to time. So the real yeish, the mitsius that is the true and everlasting mitsius is ayin. When Mishlei brought, ‘To bequeath to those who love Me, there is, and I shall fill their storehouses.’” The words l’hanchil…yeish– to bequeath…there is, is saying that that which will be bequeathed to the righteous is that which there truly is. The true yeish. Ayin. An eternity with Hashem.

True reality is, by definition, that which is, not that which isn’t. In Hebrew, a word for what isn’t is Lo– no. Backwards, it’s al– don’t, another word for negation. Al, aleph-lamed was the opposite end of our letter combinations from yeish, yud-shin. Yeis”h is the reality that really is and a”l is the reality that isn’t.

The Ramah writes that name of the people who landed the job of struggling between these two realities is Yisrael. Our name has yeis”h to the right, and a”l to the left. In the middle is the letter reish. The word reish appears in Mishlei (30:8), “Reish v’osher all titian li”- Poverty nor wealth do not give me. There it is spelled reish-aleph-shin, which we usually read as roshe– head. So the center letter of Israel, reish, is in position, physically and spiritually, to be drawn either way. Right, towards the yeish, or left towards the a”l.

The Tosofos Yom Tov, on the Mishna in Akatsim, writes another possibility for this Mishna’s mentioning 310.

Israel is presently like an unwed women. An unmarried daughter receives a tithing of her fathers land, as an inheritance, to be used as a dowry. We know that we are 1 nation amongst 70 nations of the world. Upon entering the land of Israel we defeated 7 nations. That’s one tenth. We know from Nach we defeated 31 kings. Assuming that figure to be a tenth as well, that gives us a starting point of 310.

This works out well with the language of the Mishna. It said Hashem will bequeath to the righteous 310 worlds. Bequeathing is an expression of inheritance. Since the Mishna is talking about the righteous’ rewards of the World to Come, that’s earned reward, not an inheritance. According to the Tosofos Yom Tov, however, bequeathing and 310 are terms connoting land. That works well as we do have an inheritance coming from our forefathers, described in Gemorah Shabbos as nachala bli meitsarim– an inheritance without borders. That’s based on the promise Hashem made Yaakov, during his dream of the ladder. “Your seed will spread out like the dust of the land, north, south, east and west.”

The Midrash said because of the omer we merited the land of Israel. When Yehoshua brought the Children of Israel into the Land of Israel, the first mitsva they performed was bringing the omer.

Rashi, on Bereishis barah, brings Rebbe Yitschak who says the Torah didn’t need to start but with the first mitsva heard from Moshe, Hachodesh hazeh lachem. Why did it start with creation? To teach that which it says in Tehilim, “The strength of His deed He declared to His people to give them the heritage of the nations.” If the nations of the world call us thieves, we can respond that all the world belongs to Hashem and He can give what He wants to whom He wants. He desired to take it from them and give it to us.” What is our relationship to anything that belongs to Hashem, that were it not for that we are to be considered as thieves?

Our connection is the mitsva of bereishis. Of reishis. Of the first. What is the first? The omer is the first of the produce which we bring to Hashem as recognition and thanks that all is His and we are grateful to Him. The omer, whose gematria is 310, is our connection to yeish. The real yeish. Right now we only merit a 10th of that real yeish. Israel is the 10th. It is the taste of the World to Come. Of course the first mitsva Yehoshua and Israel performed was bringing the omer because only with its merit could they be there.

Being in Israel is being in the Omer. Participating in the mitsva of the Omer is participating in the yeish. Someone who takes the mitsva of the Omer lightly is moving away from the yeis”h at the right and is moving towards the a”l on the left. From roshe to reish. When Israel falls, becomes poor, bereft of Torah merit, we falls so far that we go right past the animals. Marsa bas Bysus, whose marriage contract promised 1,000,000 gold dinar, was so broke and despondent with the destruction of the Second Temple, that she was picking barley seeds from the dung of donkeys in order to have something to eat.

She is who Rav Yochanan ben Zakai was referring to, in Gemorah Kesuvos, when he said, “Happy is your lot, O’Israel! When you do the will of your Creator, no nation can touch you. And when you don’t do the will of your Creator, you’re given over to the lowest of the nations. To the animals of the lowest nation.” The first half of his words are indeed something to be happy about. But the second? Yes, even the second. Because they are two sides of the same coin. They are the two potentials of the mahus of Yisrael. If that lowliness is what awaits us, if G-d forbid we move to the a”l on the left, even that indicates how grand and noble our lot if we connect to the yeis”h on the right.

Even more than this, there will absolutely come the time when we do connect to the yeish, inherit that which was promised our forefathers, and find true pleasure in the presence of Hashem.

Shabbat Shalom.

You can be a miracle worker

Read this great article from Lazer Beams

Reflections of emuna with Rabbi Lazer Brody

The Hebrew month of Nissan in general, and the week of Passover in particular, mark the season of miracles. For a person with faith, miracles are as natural as the laws of nature, since faith transcends any natural laws, putting one in a realm where miracles are reality.

The Yerushalmi Talmud (tractate Taanis, 17 a-b) tells about Rabbi Ada bar Ahava (Achva), a righteous scholar. If there wasn’t enough rain, all he would have to do is remove a shoe, and dark clouds would suddenly appear on the horizon. The Talmud continues to tell us exactly how Rabbi Ada acquired the power to perform miracles, listing 8 main criteria. The first 4 criteria apply to those who learn Torah, but the second 4 apply to each and every one of us.

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Truth, Tales and Visions:A Breslov Book of Wisdom.

Texts of R. Nachman of Breslov

Rendered into English by Yaacov David Shulman

A Spirit of Folly

Where do sins come from? They come from a lack of understanding. “A man does not sin unless a spirit of folly has entered into him” (Sotah 3a).
This is the greatest pity of all. Have compassion on those who have sinned; fill them with understanding.

Do Not Despair

Even if you have fallen very low, do not despair. There is no despair in the world. “Sins can be turned into merits” (Yoma 86b). This matter contains mystical secrets.
You can easily return to G_d from any fall, because G_d’s greatness has no end. Never give up crying out to God.


The essence of serving G_d is simplicity: in learning a great deal, praying a great deal and doing good deeds.You do not have to be too strict with yourself. The Torah was not given to angels. Simply do what you can.

Courtesy Jewish, Spiritual and Beautiful.

Why do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

by the Ramban (Nachmanides)

The Ramban was one of the greatest Torah sages and Kabalists since the post-talmudic era.

(Translated excerpt from his book Shaar HaGemul page 1)

“Our sages taught (Talmud Rosh Hashana 16b):

‘Three books are opened on Rosh HaShana (the new year). One of completely righteous people (tzadik gamur), one of completely wicked people, and one of in-between people. The completely righteous are immediately written and sealed for life. The completely wicked are immediately written and sealed for death. The in-between people’s judgment stands pending from Rosh HaShana to Yom Kippur. If they are meritorious, they are written for life otherwise, for death.

This that the Sages have said ‘the completely righteous are written for life and the completely wicked for death’, does not refer to completely righteous which do not have any sins, nor to completely wicked which do not have any merits (good deeds). Because many righteous people die immediately and many wicked people live long lives pleasantly..Rather here is the explanation: There are some sins which it is the din (way of judgment) of the Holy One blessed be He, and mishpato (way of justice) of Him towards the righteous to pay their reward in this world while others the din (judgment) is to pay them in the next world (after death). And likewise for merits (good deeds), there are those which G-d pays in this world, while those which He pays in the next world.

And (for example) when a man sins throughout the year and soils himself with sin but he also does some (few) good deeds, then (on Rosh HaShana) all his actions go before the Almighty, who weighs and balances them against each other. And the tzadik which is completely righteous merits life, while the wicked whose judgment is that he be paid his reward for his good deeds in this world is also written and sealed for life; which means he is given a ruling for life and peace with wealth, possessions, and honor. Therefore we find this (wicked person) is a tzadik gamur (completely righteous) in his judgment (i.e. gets the same judgment as a completely righteous person, since he is given the good life now in payment for his few good deeds).

And a completely wicked person who is wicked from all sides is immediately written and sealed for death. And likewise for a righteous person who stumbled in only one sin, and is written on Rosh HaShana for death, which means that he will die that year or that he will live with great troubles, a life of pain and suffering. Therefore we find this (righteous person) is a rasha gamur in his judgment (i.e. gets the same judgment as a completely wicked person). Even though he is a righteous person and merited paradise in the afterlife, while the first which merited life is completely wicked (since he was paid for his good deeds in this world) and will be lost completely (in the afterlife). For this we find even the greatest of the prophets judged and punished for some tiny sin thereby receiving the judgment of the completely wicked.

And likewise that which our Sages have called “to life” (for completely righteous) and “to death” (for completely wicked) does not mean for days only (i.e. death) but rather for all punishments of this world – afflictions, poverty, death of children, or the like, all these things were referred to by the Sages as “death”. And they referred to the reward for good deeds as “life”.

This judgment that the Sages have said “that every man is judged on Rosh Hashana” (as above) does not deal with whether he will merit Gan Eden and the afterlife or whether he will be sentenced to Gehinom and Avadon (lost), because a man is not judged on Rosh HaShana except for matters of this world only, i.e. whether he is fitting for life and peace or death and suffering…rather this is the matter, on Rosh Hashana a man’s deeds are weighed and balanced and he is written and sealed to merit or to culpability (chov) in this world according to what he deserves according to his actions in this world. And when a man leaves this world his actions are again weighed and a ruling is made for his portion in the world of souls.” (Translated excerpt from his book Shaar HaGemul page 1)

Comment: Suffering is a very complex subject. Sometimes it is not because of anything bad a person did but rather as a test to bring out potential in him and see whether he will behave as a good person during tough times. Rabbi Avigdor Miller brought down a story of a person who asks his Rebbe “Why do I have all these problems of making a living, etc. Why can’t I have it easy so I can sit and learn torah all day. The Rebbe answered “who says G-d wants your torah? Maybe it’s your suffering that he wants. He wants to make something out of you.”
i.e. trials and tribulations can make a person grow spiritually. However the condition is that he acts according to the highest moral principles that he has. Otherwise, they can make him worse.

Other times, suffering can be a “kapara” (atonement, i.e. to suffer pain corresponding to the amount of pleasure in doing something bad). This is a great kindness since punishment in the afterlife is much worse than anything here.

The talmud (berachos 5) says one who suffers should examine his actions. If he doesn’t find anything bad, he should consider it is due to “bitul torah” (neglect of torah study). The commentators ask “bitul torah is also something bad. So how can one say he didn’t find anything bad??”
The Vilna Gaon explains “if a person learned torah properly, he would have found the “bad thing”, since torah opens a person’s eyes to good and evil. (i.e. according to one’s level of torah learning will be his level of sensitivity to good and evil).

Introduction to Punishment in the Afterlife

This is a complex subject, so this will be a simplified introduction. First of all G-d does not punish in the form of “revenge”. He does not have anger, joy, sadness or the like, and does not change (Rambam Yesodei HaTorah). He does not need anything from us whatsoever. So why punishment? When G-d created man he took an animal in one hand and a divine soul in the other and POOF! combined them together. The body is basically an animal and wants to be a lazy, good-for-nothing, gorilla. While the soul strives to be like G-d. The soul is very holy, more than anything else that exists in the creation. The Sefer HaYashar goes as far to say that it was not created but rather “drawn out” from G-d Himself. Like a candle, which is lit from a fire.

Due to the holiness of man’s soul, all of his actions in this world have cosmic repercussions and create forces whether of good or evil depending on the actions. After death, a man has to take responsibilty for all the good and bad things he created throughout the worlds due to his deeds. So punishment is not through revenge or the like, rather it is more like paying responsibilty for the consequences of your actions. Since “the seal of G-d is truth” (talmud), and truth requires justice, everyone gets paid what they deserve in the end (see the article Shaarei Kedusha for more on the soul).

With the kind authorization of Daf Yomi Review.

From the Orchards of Jerusalem

The Slonomer Rebbe on the opening verses of Parshas Vayakel.

The Gemorah Avoda Zara says the only reason Israel sinned by the golden calf is to teach the reality of tshuva to the masses and Moshe is telling Israel that the good path to tshuva is with the power of Shabbos.

As it says in Gemorah Shabbos, “All who keep Shabbos, according to its laws, will be forgiven, even if they had worshiped idols like the generation of Enosh.”

The worst sinners, the Gemorah Shabbos tells us, even the likes of the generation of Enosh, would have an atonement with the observance of a single Shabbos. Not surprising, says the Slonomer Rebbe, since Shabbos is at the core of love and closeness to Hashem.

Giving up on Shabbos, is giving up on life. Or rather its gaining the 7 day work schedule of a Canaanite.

Complete Article.

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