Summer

A Student Publication of the Isaac and Mara Benmergui Torah Academy of Bergen County
Summer            28 Sivan – 23 Elul 5762              June 8 - August 31 2002              Vol.11 No.30


Select A Parsha:

Shelach
Korach
Chukat
Matot Massai
Tisha Beav
Ekev
Re'ay
Shoftim
Ki Tavo

 

In This Issue:

Rabbi Ezra Weiner
Ely Winkler
Yisroel Ellman
Moshe Rapps
Ari Selivan
Jerry M. Karp
Andy Feuerstein-Rudin
Ilan Tokayer
Donny Manas
Willie Roth
Danny Shulman
Food For Thought
-by Jerry M. Karp

This week's issue has been sponsored by the following parents in honor of
their sons’ graduation from Torah Academy:
Mr. & Mrs. Richard Alexander
Dr. & Mrs. Lawrence Feder
Dr. & Mrs. Mark Gardenswartz
Dr. & Mrs. Richard Gertler
Mr. & Mrs. Martin Goldstein
Mr. & Mrs. Noah Gurock
Mr. & Mrs. Daniel Klein
Dr. & Mrs. Donald Liss
Mr. & Mrs. David Malitzky
Mr. & Mrs. Robert Remin
Rabbi & Mrs. Ian Shaffer
Ms. Debby Sondheim
Mr. & Mrs. Alan Straus
Dr. & Mrs. Steven Tennenbaum
Dr. & Mrs. Jerry Weinberg
Mr. & Mrs. Mitchell Weiss
Ms. Sarah Yehaskel
Mr. & Mrs. Alexander Zlotnick
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The staff of Kol Torah would like to thank the following people for their
work throughout the year:
Josh Dubin, Shuky Gross, Simcha Haber, and Effie Richmond.
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The staff of Kol Torah would also like to thank outgoing senior and
editor-in-chief David Gertler for all of his hard work
on behalf of Kol Torah throughout his high school career.





Shelach

Kalev’s Visit
by Rabbi Ezra Weiner

The Torah records, regarding the Miraglim: "Vaya'alu Banegev Vayavo Ad Chevron" (Devarim 13:22).
The Talmud in Sota 34b comments on the apparent switch from the plural (Vaya'alu) to the singular (Vayavo) and stated:

Rava says, “This teaches us that Kalev separated himself from the intentions of the spies and went and spread himself out
on the graves of the Avot.”
R’ Samson Raphael Hirsch raised the following difficulty with this interpretation. The Torah tells us that the children of giants were located in Chevron. If it is indeed true that only Kalev traveled to Chevron how can the entire clan of spies claim later in verse 28, “And we also saw the children of the giants there.” Secondly, the cantillation (“trop”) on the phrase Vaya'alu Banegev Vayavo Ad Chevron is a Zarka Sagul, which
indicates that the subject of both Banegev and Chevron is the same (i.e. referring to all of the spies).

R’ Hirsch suggests a more simple understanding of the above phrase which does not contradict the Gemara in Sota and may actually lend some credibility to it as well. Vayavo refers to the same group of people as Vaya'alu , i.e. the spies. Vayavo is put in the singular to indicate that the spies came to Chevron as one man. They were in complete unison in mind and purpose with only positive intentions. However, when they
witnessed the children of the giants and huge dimension of the city, they lost their courage. Kalev’s faith, courage, and determination predominated when they first arrived in Chevron and they were indeed like one man (Vayavo). When Kalev noticed change of heart from this unity, he went to pray at the graves of the Avot for continuing courage. In truth, therefore, it is not that “Vayavo” refers to Kalev who came to
Chevron alone but rather it is the sudden change from a unified Vayavo that elicited Kalev’s response of Tefillah at the Kivrei Ha'avot.


Were They Really Meraglim?
by Ely Winkler

The story in this week’s Parsha is most commonly known and referred to as the story of the Meraglim. The term Meraglim, and its root, is used many years earlier by Yosef, when he accuses his brother’s of being spies, and later when Yehoshua sends spies out to Israel. However, where did the actual term of Meraglim, relating to the spies of Shelach, come from? If you read this week’s Parsha neither the word Meraglim nor its root is found once! The Torah first mentions the spies as simple “Anashim,” people, and later in the Parsha they are called by Moshe “Tarim,” explorers. But never once is the term Meraglim found in this week’s Parsha.

The term Ragel, the root of Meraglim, denotes gossip and slander. This fits in by Yosef and the accusations against his brothers. He suspected them of spying for a country, where they would go back to and report against Egypt. Our 12 spies were sent on a mission to just look over the land, and then to simply report back about it. However this is not what ended up happening. The spies did not know their proper place, and
ended up giving their personal opinions as to whether or not the land was conquerable. Therefore, in Moshe’s re-cap of the story in Sefer Devarim, the word “Vayeraglu,” from the root Ragel, is used to describe the spies’ actions in the land. This is how the Meraglim got their
name. To be called a Meragel is not a bad thing. When Yehoshua uses it, his spies do nothing wrong. Also, 2 spies out of 12 from this Parsha, Yehoshua and Kalev, do nothing wrong when they return from spying the land. However, by the other 10 spies, and by Yosef’s brothers, the term is used negatively.

The hidden lesson behind the Meraglim is a very important one. The challenge of a Jew in his everyday life is to make sure he knows what his tasks at hand are, and not to waver from them. By always staying true to one’s own mission, and properly do Avodat Hashem, one can reach his ultimate goal and complete his task.



Korach

A Code Among Thieves
by Yisroel Ellman

In Pirkei Avot 5:17, there is a Mishna that says:
“Any Machloket that is for the sake of heaven will last, any Machloket that is not for the sake of heaven will not. What is a Machloket for the sake of heaven? Hillel and Shammai’s Machloket. What is a Machloket that is not for the sake of heaven? Korach and his followers’ Machloket.”

There is a strange inconsistency in this Mishna. Hillel and Shammai’s Machloket was between Hillel and Shammai but Korach and his followers Machloket was between Korach and Moshe, not Korach and his followers. Why is Moshe’s role not mentioned?
In addition, why would Hashem want a Machloket? Even if it is an argument strictly for the sake of finding the correct Halacha with no anger between the two parties, why would Hashem want to have a wrong opinion continue to exist?

There is a story in the Gemara in which Rabbi Eliezer and the Chachamim were in a Machloket. In order to prove his point he said, “If I am right, this carob tree will prove it” and the carob tree left the spot where it was planted. However, the Chachamim said “we do not take proofs from carob trees.” So Rabbi Eliezer said, “If I am right, this stream will prove it” and the stream suddenly began to flow uphill.
“We do not take proofs from streams” they replied.
Finally Rabbi Eliezer said, “If I am right heaven will prove it” and a voice from heaven came and said that he was right.

Despite everything he had done the Chachamim still were not convinced.
“The Torah is not in heaven,” (Devarim 30:12) they said.
This story tells us something important about a Machloket on a Halacha. The Torah was given to us, and it is in our hands to derive the Halachot from it. As long as we reach an opinion based on the rules for analyzing the Torah, it is right. When there are conflicting opinions, we follow the majority. The Machloket between Korach and Moshe was not a Machloket. Moshe derived his opinion by following the rules of the Torah while Korach did not. Therefore the only right opinion was Moshe’s and there was no argument. So then why did the Mishna say “Korach and his followers’ Machloket”? 

Korach wanted to claim the Kehuna without concern for who had it. Bnai Reuven wanted to claim their firstborn rights without concern for the Leviim, who already had them etc… Each person was doing it for his own personal interest, with no regard for anyone else. Every man was for himself- there’s no code among thieves. The Machloket of Korach and his followers actually was between Korach and his followers.


The Flower of Life
by Moshe Rapps

In this week’s Sedra, Korach, the Torah talks about how Hashem proved the greatness of Aharon. Hashem commanded that each Tribe of Israel appoint a leader and each leader shall take a staff and inscribe his name on it.
These twelve staffs, Aharon’s name being on the staff of Shevet Levi, were put into the Mishkan. The very next day, Moshe saw that the staff of Aharon had miraculously blossomed, as it says, “Vehenei Parach Mateh Aharon, Vayotzei Perach, Vayatzetz Tzitz, Vayigmol Shekeidim,” which means, “the staff of Aharon had blossomed; it brought forth a blossom, it sprouted a bud and it bore almonds.” The obvious question
arises: Why did the Torah have to state three ways that the staff of Aharon blossomed, one should have been enough, especially since one sprouting alone was a tremendous miracle?

Chizkuni, commenting on the Pasuk, says that the phrase “Vayotzei Perach” alludes to the Pirchei Kehuna that would eventually sprout from Aharon, the phrase “Vayatzetz Tzitz” alludes to the Tzitz Hazahav, the golden headband the Kohen Gadol would wear, and the phrase “Vayigmol Shekeidim” hints to the word Shoked, which means zealous or passionate. Kohanim are often described as Zerizim, or zealous in their service to Hashem. All of these phrases refer to the future of Aharon’s children, the Kohanim.

My cousin, Uri Schechter, said the following. The three phrases can be applied to the way man lives his life. In the early stages of his life he is no more than budding flower, much like the Pirchei Kehuna. As he matures, he learns more Torah and impresses his teachers and parents, just like Bnai Yisrael were impressed by the Tzitz of the Kohen Gadol. And in his later stage of life, when he has mastered all of the Torah, he emerges as a ripe almond.


Principles
by Ari Selivan

And Moshe said, “By this you will know that Hashem has sent me to do all these acts, that it is not from my own heart”(16:28).
The language used in this Pasuk is somewhat repetitive. What is the difference between knowing that “Hashem sent Moshe” and that “it is not from [his] own heart?” The Rambam in his commentary on Mishna Sanhedrin enumerates the thirteen principles of faith. The seventh of these
principles states the belief that Moshe was a true Navi and that no other Navi ever has or ever will supersede him. The eighth principle asserts that the Torah of Moshe is the word of Hashem and is not falsified or altered.
Korach and his followers denied both of these principles as can be seen in 16:3; “It is too much for you! For the entire assembly are all holy and Hashem is in their midst; so why do you exalt yourselves over the congregation of Hashem?” In other words Korach is accusing Moshe and Aharon of exalting themselves over Bnai Yisrael, which clearly denies the eighth principle. Rashi relates earlier in 16:1 quoting the Midrash that Korach ridiculed Moshe by asking, “Does a garment of Tekhelet need a Tekhelet string? Does a house full of Sefarim need a Mezuza? These things were not commanded by Hashem rather, you made them up yourself!” Indeed, the Yerushalmi paraphrases Korach as saying “The Torah is not from Hashem, Moshe is not a prophet, nor is Aharon a [legitimate] Kohen Gadol!” This clearly shows Korach’s denial of the seventh and eighth principles. Therefore, in order for Moshe to refute Korach’s accusations Moshe made two
statements. He declared that in Korach’s punishment he would see that “Hashem sent me to do all these acts.” - I have been true prophet of Hashem in everything that I have done. The second statement is that “it is not from my own heart,” “it,” referring to the Torah, was not my own fabrication rather, Hashem wrote it. 
There is a story mentioned in Bava Basra 74a about Rabbah bar bar Channah. 
One time he was traveling in the desert when an Arab nomad offered to show him the place where Korach and his followers were buried alive in the ground. Rabbah bent down to the ground and heard the confession of these men, clearly reflecting their two sins: denial of the authenticity of the Torah and the denial of Moshe’s prophecy. 


Chukat


Have Faith
by Jerry M. Karp

In Parshat Chukat, we read about the encounter with the king of Arad. In the beginning of Perek 21 it says “The King of Arad, who lived in the South, heard that Israel came by way of Atarim.” Immediately following this, the king of Arad goes to fight against Binei Yisrael. Many commentators ask what the king of Arad heard which prompted him to attack Binei Yisrael. After all, we know that the nations of the world were very fearful of Binei Yisrael. In Sefer Yehoshua, Rachav says to the spies that when the inhabitants of Eretz Kena'an learned about that which Hashem did for “We heard and our hearts melted.” Clearly, the nations would not attack Binei Yisraelbecause of their fear of being destroyed by Hashem. Why, then, did the king of Arad attack Binei Yisrael?
Ramban quotes Oonklis and explains that when the Miraglim were returning to report to Binei Yisrael, the king of Arad saw them and decided to attack. He says that "Heatrim" is related to the word Tarim, “spies.” However, this does not explain why the king of Arad decided to provoke Binei Yisrael.
Nechama Lebowitz explains that when Binei Yisrael sent the Miraglim, it was a sign of their fear and lack of faith in Hashem. The king of Arad decided to capitalize on this fear and attacked them when they were vulnerable. 
The lesson from this short episode is very important. When Binei Yisrael lost faith in Hashem, they were immediately attacked. If we have Emunah in Hashem, He will protect us from any troubles that befall us. 


The Red Heifer and its significance
by Andy Feuerstein-Rudin

The laws of the Paroh Aduma, the red heifer, are included in the category of the statutes or Chukim. The Midrash relates that a Roman aristocrat asked Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai to explain the strange laws involving the Paroh Aduma to him. Rabbi Yochanan replied “Just as a person afflicted with a certain disease is cured of illness by taking a certain medicine so too do the ashes of the Paroh Aduma when
prepared in the prescribed way and dissolved water disperse the unclean spirit.” The Roman left satisfied with the answer he got. Rabbi Yochanan's students said that answer satisfied him but what answer do you have for us? To answer the students Rabbi Yochanan said, “The dead man does not make a person impure nor do the ashes make him pure again. My explanation therefore is that the law concerning the Paroh Aduma is that it is a Chok or a heavenly decree and we have no right to question it.” 
The Sefer Lilmod Ulalmade says that in this response lies the answer to the reason of Chukim. We cannot always comprehend the things that Hashem gives man since our understanding is limited. It is sufficient for us to know that by obeying the Chukim we are doing Hashem's will.



Matot Massai


Stepping Up Our Zehirut

by Ilan Tokayer

Towards the end of Parshat Masei, the Torah presents us with the Mitzva of Arei Miklat, to set aside 6 cities to which a Maceh Nefesh Beshogeg can run to in order to seek refuge from a Goel Hadam, a relative of the deceased who is by Halacha allowed to kill the Maceh Nefesh Beshogeg. The Maceh Nefesh Beshogeg is not safe to go until the Kohen Gadol dies. The Arei Miklat were not simply cities of refuge killers, but also Arei Leviim, cities of the Leviim. 
This raises a number of questions: Is an Ir Miklat a positive or a negative thing? Why is a Maceh Nefesh Beshogeg forced to seek refuge in an Ir Miklat if he only killed by accident? And why are Arei Miklat also Arei Leviim?
Meforshim are split as to whether Ir Miklat is a positive or negative thing. There is logic supporting both sides. It seems positive at first glance, as a place where a chased man can go to escape a Goel Hadam, but a closer look reveals that it is really more of a punishment than a benefit. As the Rambam writes in his Sefer Hamitzvot, “Anyone who kills by accident is exiled from the state that he killed in to an Ir Miklat, and it is a positive commandment to exile him, like it says, ‘And he shall dwell there until the death of the Kohen Gadol.’” According to the Lashon of the Rambam it seems to be a punishment of exile, as he uses the word “Golah,” exile. A Maceh Nefesh Beshogeg is forced to dwell in the Ir
Miklat for an undisclosed amount of time, under a sort of “house arrest,” unable to live the city, and if he does, he can be killed. Now, why is someone who killed only by accident confined to the Arei Miklat? According to the Rambam in the Moreh Nevuchim (Perek 40), it is not for the Maceh Nefesh Beshogeg, rather for the Goel Hadam to have a chance to calm down before he kills the Maceh Nefesh Beshogeg. Rabbi Gidon Rothstein (www.rjconline.org) compares the concept of Arei Miklat to the Witness Protection Program. He writes, “We make the murderer live in a city of refuge as a way of protecting him, not because his act incurred any liability on his part.”

I would like to suggest an alternate answer. In the Mesilat Yesharim, the Ramchal goes through literally a Mesilat Yesharim, a path of the just and righteous. The very first step is Zehirut. As the Ramchal writes: Heneh Ainav Hizhirut Hu Shehaya Adam Nezhar Bimaasav Viainainav... Viheneh Zeh Davar Shehakol Yechaivuhu Vadai (Mesilat Yesharim Chapter 2) and he even uses an example of a Rotzayach in Perek Gimel talking about Zehirut. Zehirut is the stepping-stone to perfection and is the cornerstone of a Jew. An Ir Miklat seems like a punishment, but it is really a punishment for a lack of Zehirut on the part of the Makeh Nefesh Bishgaga. With this we can see the answer to the third question. The Leviim live in the Arei Miklat in order to be role models for the Makeh Nefesh Bishgaga. The Ir Miklat is really neither a sanctuary nor a jail; rather it is a rehabilitation facility. Hashem’s purpose in making the Arei Miklat is for people who failed to exercise an appropriate, prudent, level of Zehirut to learn how to be Zehirim and to take control of their actions. We can apply this message during this time of year. This year, this Parsha falls out during Rosh Chodesh Av. 
In this period leading up to Tisha Baav, it is important for us to try to exercise a certain level of Zehirut in our actions. We  have to look for role models, like the Leviim in the Arei Miklat and try to emulate our Zehirut and awareness of what we are doing wrong and how we can fix it. A lack of Zehirut is what destroyed the Bait Hamikdash 2000 years ago, and now, strengthening our level of Zehirut is what will help rebuild it. 
I would like to thank Steven Goldsmith for helping me build this Devar Torah during the summer of 5760.  


Back Talking

by Donny Manas

Parshat Matot begins by describing the different kinds of vows a person can make and how to annul them. It also says that, one, a person should not go back on his words, and two, one should perform everything that leaves his mouth. Why does the Torah have to say both the positive of doing everything that leaves his mouth, and also the negative of not to go back on his words? Commentaries point out that the
Torah is pointing to the fact that it is elevating a person’s words and turning them into a commandment, as if his words were
biblical. They describe how we are above animals because we can speak, and we should use that power wisely.

They also point out speech really is a power, able to raise and lower people’s spirits. Some commentaries have even pointed out how we have two eyes, two ears, and two nostrils, but only one mouth, proving that one mouth can do damage or cause good like two of any of the other body part. But there is something else that can be used to symbolize the power of speech. Our mouths have sharp teeth, but have soft lips to protect us from exposing those teeth. We may have bad things to say, but we have to use our lips to prevent ourselves from speaking negatively. But we have a tongue, which is also soft! Maybe we should learn to protect our insides from thinking negatively about others, so that we will not have to come to use external measures not to say them! It all starts from the inside. The Torah is urging all of us to improve our lives from our insides, and improve someone else’s life with our outsides. The Torah also teaches us that we should watch what comes out of our mouths,
and not violate the negative of going back on our words.



Tisha Beav

Backward and Forward
By Rabbi Ezra Weiner

Tisha Baav is not only a holiday that enables us to reflect on the tragedies of the past but probably more importantly affords us an opportunity to look forward to the blessings of the future. There are actually various laws that are in practice nowadays which operate solely on the principle of "Meherah Yavneh Hamikdash" (“The Temple will be speedily rebuilt”). The underlying principle of Meherah Yaveneh Hamikdash
functions as follows: Wherever the rebuilding of the Beit Hamikdash would cause a change that would necessitate a greater stringency in the ruling of a certain law, then we must rule more strictly even now when there is no Beit Hamikdash. The fear is that “the Temple will be speedily rebuilt” and people will say, “Last year we were lenient regarding this law,” not realizing that last year’s leniency was only due to the absence of a Beit Hamikdash. For example, Raban Yochanan Ben Zakai decreed that it is forbidden to eat from the new grain for the entire day of the 16th of Nissan even though the Halacha is that when there is no Beit Hamikdash (and therefore no Karban Haomer) the new grain becomes
permissible at dawn of the 16th of Nissan.
This decree was issued for fear that Meherah Yavneh Hamikdash and the people will say “last year (when there was no Mikdash, did we not eat from the new grain at dawn?” The people will end up eating from the new grain at dawn when in fact they are required to wait until the Omer sacrifice is offered.
The Talmud in Masechet Taanit 17a mentions a dispute between Tanaim regarding the application of Meherah Yavneh Hamikdash to the law of Shetui Yayin (the prohibition of Kohanim taking part in the service when they are under the influence of wine). The Chachamim maintain that nowadays Kohanim may not drink wine since the Beit Hamikdash will be speedily rebuilt and a Kohen fit for service will be needed. Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi disagrees and mentions that Kohanim may drink wine explaining Shetakanto Kalkalto i.e. that which disqualifies the Kohen from serving (the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash) permits him to drink wine. Rashi explains that according to Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi
since it has been a number of years that the Mikdash has not been restored we do not take into account that the Mikdash may be rebuilt. Halacha follows Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi (as stated in Masechet Taanit) therefore Kohanim may drink wine nowadays. The Gevurot Ari raises the obvious difficulty. Why does the Talmud rule in accordance with Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi’s opinion when in fact, this contradicts the widely accepted principle of Meherah Yavneh Hamikdash? 
The answer to this difficulty lies in the basic difference between Shetui Yayin and the other cases of Meherah Yavneh Hamikdash. In the case of the new grain, for example, the fear is that someone, somewhere will err and eat from the new grain before the Karban Omer is offered. There is a reasonable likelihood that this error will occur. However, in the case of the Kohanim, the undesired result (of a Kohen performing the
service while under the influence of wine) will only occur if there are no other Kohanim fit for service. The possibility that all Kohanim in the world will be Shetui Yayin on the day the Mikdash is rebuilt is highly unlikely. Secondly, it is also highly unlikely that the Mikdash be rebuilt with
suddenness that the Kohanim would not even have time for the wine to wear off. May we be Zocheh this Tishah Beav to a true Moed and the fulfillment of Meherah Yavneh Hamikdash.


Ekev

Action and Reaction
by Willie Roth

In Parshat Eikev there are many topics that Moshe addresses. One major idea mentioned throughout Perakim 9 and 10 is that of the sins of Bnai Yisrael. In Perek 9 the main sin that is always referred back to is Chayt Haegel. The Perek starts out with Chayt Haegel then mentions the sins in Masah, Tavera, and Kivrot Hataevah. Then Moshe briefly mentions the major sin of Miraglim. However, Moshe goes back again to Chayt Haegel, mentioning his prayer to Hashem that saved Bnai Yisrael. There is a repetition of the story of Chayt Haegel with other small
stories including the Aaron and Shevet Levi mixed in between. The obvious question is, why does Perek 10 repeat the previous Perek, when Chayt Haegel was mentioned several times already? My Chumash teacher, Rabbi Zvi Engle, gives a great answer to this. He says that if you line up Perakim 9 and 10 side by side, is seen that Perek 10 is an atonement for the sins mentioned in Perek 9. For example, in Perek 9 it talks about Bnai Yisrael’s sin with the image of Chayt Haegel. Then in Perek 10 it mentions the making of the Aaron so that when Moshe goes up on to Har Sinai Bnai Yisrael will have something to look at as a reminder that Moshe is getting the Torah, and then they will not forget Hashem again.
Another example is when in Perek 9 Moshe prays for Aharon after his involvement with the sin. Then in Perek 10 we see a result of this where Aharon dies and the Leviim are appointed to teach Bnai Yisrael. We see how each Perek compliments the other, and for every action of Bnai Yisrael, there is a reaction to prevent them from doing something bad again.


Spirituality, how do you achieve it?
by Danny Shulman

The first Pasuk of this week’s Parsha states Vihayah Ekev Tishmeun Et Hamishpatim Haeleh.... The Midrash Tanchuma writes that the word Eikev can be translated into “heel” but still keep its context in the Pasuk by saying that you should not ignore Mitzvot that you deem unimportant, those you “rub out with your heel.” The classic explanation is the one given in Pirkei Avot that one does not really know the significance of
each Mitzva and therefore one cannot judge them.

However, Rabbi Mordechai Gifter zt”l offers a new approach based on the second part of this Pasuk. He explains this to mean that if one keeps these Mitzvot he will be blessed with acts of kindness and the Torah as a way of life.

Mitzvot that only occur sporadically and seem important for keeping one’s spirituality are usually termed “big” Mitzvot. However, more likely the opposite is true, because a person has a natural drive to perform those uncommon Mitzvot with passion, so any connection to Judaism you make based upon doing those certain Mitzvot is most likely only for the time being and would not affect the way you live your life. So you
wonder how you can attain a spiritual connection if the “big and important” Mitzvot will not be spiritually uplifting. It all comes back to those seemingly small and regular Mitzvot that will help you attain spirituality, those that you would normally just ignore and trod over with your heel. By performing those Mitzvot you can reach a spiritual high, and you will then be able to use even those uncommon and sporadic Mitzvot to elevate yourself because, you will perform them based upon your desire to fulfill all Mitzvot and not just the uncommon and “special” Mitzvot.



Re'ay

Be Happy- It’s a Mitzva
by Ilan Tokayer

In Devarim the Torah tells about different Regalim and the fundamentals of each Chag. It is here that the Torah issues the commandment of Simcha on the Regalim- a Mitzva that is enumerated among the 613 by both the  Rambam and Sefer Hachinuch. 
The Alter Rebbe poses a question. We learn in the Tochacha of Parshat Ki Tavo that one of the reasons for the curses is “Since you have not worshiped Hashem with Simcha and gladness.” From here we learn the concepts of Mitzvot Gedolah Lihiyot Bisimcha , “A big Mitzva is to be happy.” From here the Rebbe asks: How can there be a specific Mitzva of Simcha on the Regalim? Is it not a Mitzva to be happy all the time?

The Lubavitcher answers as follows. The Mitzva of always being happy is to be happy while serving Hashem. If you are doing a Mitzva you should be happy while doing it. However, on Chagim the Mitzva of being happy gets elevates to a whole new level. On Chagim, happiness in itself is a Mitzva. Think about it- it is a Mitzva simply to be happy.

We can learn from this that Chagim are Hashem’s special gift to Am Yisrael. Our job on the Chagim is to be happy with ourselves, be happy with our lot as Jews, and most of all be happy with Hashem and his Torah as we say in the Amida on Shalosh Regalim Viyismuchu Becha Yisrael Kol Makdishei Shimecha.


The Missing “Vuv”
by Moshe Rapps

Parshat Reeh talks about the prohibition of bringing sacrifices anywhere outside of the Beit Hamikdash once it is erected. Perek 12 Pesukim 5-6 of Reeh state: “Ki Im El Hamakom Asher Yivchar Hashem Elokeichem…Vehaveitem Shama Oloteichem, “Rather, only to the place that Hashem, your G-d will choose…you will bring your burnt offerings.” 
In the same Perek, Pasuk 12, the Torah writes “Vehaya Bamakom Asher Yivchar Hashem Elokeichem Bo Lishaken Shemo Sham Shama Taveu… Oloteichem,” meaning, “It shall be that the place where Hashem, your G-d, will choose to rest His Name- there you shall bring…your burnt offerings.”

The obvious question arises- if the Torah does not use extra phrases, why is this commandment written twice? Rashi explains that the first commandment is talking about the prohibition of building a personal Alter in the time of the Mishkan in Shiloh and the second commandment is the prohibition of building a personal Alter during the time of the Beit Hamikdash. However, another issue arises. Why is the first Oloteichem
written Chaser, missing a Vav, while the second Oloteichem is written Maleh, with the Vav? 
Rav Moshe Feinstein, in his Sefer Darash Moshe, says that we find in the book of Shoftim that in the times of the Shoftim (Judges), Bnai Yisrael served Hashem appropriately. However, between each Shofet (Judge) there is a time when Bnai Yisrael sinned and turned away from Hashem, subsequently resulting in the appointment of a new Shofet. It is for this reason that the Beit Hamikdash was not built during their time,
rather the Mishkan. Yet even though they had the Mishkan it was still not complete like the Beit Hamikdash, so the text is written Chaser. Conversely, when the Beit Hamikdash was built in the time of Shlomo, the ability of Bnai Yisrael to worship Hashem was complete, and that is why the text is written Maleh. 



Shoftim

Hashgecha Pratit
by Jerry M. Karp

At the end of Parshat Shoftim, the Torah discusses the rather unusual Halacha of Eglah Arufah. We are told that if a person is killed between two cities, and we do not know the city from which the murderer came, a calf is brought by the cities and its neck is broken as the elders pray for forgiveness. 
This process seems very peculiar. What is the reason for this ritual? 
Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch explains the reason for this procedure . He says that at first, one might think that the cities are trying to demonstrate how seriously they treat
criminals. The calf would represent the murderer, and its neck is broken to show what would have been done if the murderer were to be caught. However, the Gemara in Sotah 46a says that we use an immature calf for Eglah Arufah because this calf has not yet had children, and likewise, the murder victim was prevented from doing Mitzvot. It would seem from this that the calf is supposed to represent the victim. On the other hand, the Gemara in Sanhedrin 52b which discusses the Halachot of an Eglah Arufah compares the calf to murderers, who, like an Eglah Arufah, should be killed at the neck by a sword. Therefore, says Rav Hirsch, the Eglah Arufah is meant to show the murderer what he has really done. Not only has he curtailed his victim’s life and robbed him of good deeds, he has also ruined his own life. Anything that he does for the remainder of his life will be fruitless. After Kayin murders his brother, Hashem tells him “When you shall work the land, it will no longer yield its
strength, and you will be a wanderer in the land.” If the Beit Din does not exact punishment toward the murderer, he will still be punished by Hashem.
This is yet another affirmation of Hashem’s Hashgecha Pratit on our lives. We know that even if justice cannot be carried out by people, Hashem, the ultimate proponent of Tzedek, will ultimately carry out what is just. 


The Am Segula

by Andy Feuerstein-Rudin

In Sefer Devarim Am Yisrael is called an “Am Segula,” the chosen nation. Am Yisrael is compared to a precious stone which is carefully watched and proudly displayed. The Jews are are unique in world history. No other nation has survived as long under such adverse conditions. No other nation has been so prominent in world history contributing to the welfare of many countries. Such great Torah scholars such as the Rambam, Abarbanel and Rav Shomshon R. Hirsch offered great services to the countries in which they lived. Jews have stimulated the business of many countries and have shown mankind the way to monotheism and greater morality. If you make a ratio the Jewish 
people as a whole have contributed more inventions, discoveries, and works of art than any other nation. We have always achieved the top in academics and yet we have still found ourselves persecuted. It has been almost two years that there have been attacks and bombs set off in Israel. Most nations would have either committed suicide or completely give up if they were still economically stable. Israel is still around and
even though the economy is not that great they are still fighting as much as possible and getting help from those in the United states.



Ki Tavo

The Three Mountains
by Ely Winkler

In the fifth Aliyah of Ki Tavo, the Torah tells us of the Berachot and Klallot that were to be pronounced to all the people of Israel at Har Grizim and at Har Eval. The Torah then describes how the tribes of Israel were divided between the two mountains while the Leviim stood in the middle to pronounce the blessings and the curses. This event  greatly parallels Matan Torah at Har Sinai. It seems that Hashem wanted to
recreate the acceptance of the Torah for this new generation that would conquer Israel. Having this younger generation accept for itself the Mitzvot in Israel would be an important way of teaching them that the ultimate goal of living in Israel was the fulfillment of the Torah. Harav Eli Munk points out a difference between the two events. Here, the people were to stand ON the mountains-not at the foot of them. This shows that rather than simply accepting the laws passively, as they had at Har Sinai, the people could now express with confidence their commitment to uphold the Mitzvot. As opposed to those who stood at Sinai, these people had previously lived with and performed the Torah's laws all their lives and were now prepared to pass them on to the next generation. 
Like the Jews at Sinai, we all begin our training in Torah rather passively. When we are young, we receive from others and work on making it part of our very being. But once we have reached the age of Mitzvot, we must begin reaching out to others, eventually teaching, guiding, inspiring and enriching the lives of the next generation. This is the process of Mesorah, transmitting the tradition from generation to
generation. We must all recognize this responsibility we have as a part of Klal Yisrael.
 

Food For Thought
by Jerry M. Karp

1) Where is Moshe’s response to those who were afraid of dying in 17:27-28?
2) What is the significance of Rashi’s comment that only one Shifcha had been captured by the king of Arad (Bamidbar 21:1)?
3) Why does Moav bring the parable of the ox licking the grass of the field in Bamidbar 22:4?
4) Why is the lineage of Tzalafchad given twice (26:29-33, 27:1)?
5) Why is the request by the 2½ Shevatim to receive the land on the east of the Yarden not placed right after the conquest of Sichon and Og?
6) Why are the springs and date trees of Eliam mentioned in Bamidbar 33:9?
7) Why are the Avim and Kaftorim mentioned in Devarim 2:23?
8) Why is the selection of the three Aray Miklat not in Sefer Bamidbar?

If you have a response to these questions, please contact us at koltorah@koltorah.org


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