The Kohen Gadol's job was to atone for the entire Jewish People and bestow of his benevolent spirit on the entire nation, lovingly. As the kohanim say each day, blessing G-d "who sanctified us with the holiness of Aaron and commanded us to bless His people Israel with love." Indeed, there were two ornaments on his outfit, and they contained the names of all the tribes of Israel. There was the breastplate [choshen], on which were embossed twelve precious jems, each different from the rest, and engraved on them were the names of the tribes. As it says: "The stones shall contain the names of the twelve sons of Israel, one for each of the twelve [stones]. Each one's name shall be engraved as on a signet ring, to represent the twelve tribes" (Exodus 28:21). The breastplate lay on the Kohen Gadol's heart, as it says, "Aaron will thus carry the names of Israel's sons on the decision breastplate over his heart when he comes into the sanctuary. It shall be a constant remembrance before God" (verse 29).
The second ornament, the sardonyx stones were on the Kohen Gadol's shoulders, over his apron [ephod]. On them as well were the twelve names of the tribes engraved, as it says, "Take two sardonyx stones, and engrave on them the names of Israel's sons. There shall be six names on one stone, and the remaining six names on the second stone [inscribed] in the order of their birth…. Place the two stones on the two shoulder pieces of the ephod as remembrance stones" (28:9-12).
The entire Jewish People, in all their tribes and variations, down to the very last Jew, are engraved on the heart and weigh on the shoulders of the Kohen Gadol as a constant remembrance before G-d. The heart hints at the Kohen Gadol's great love and the shoulders hint at the responsibility resting on the Kohen Gadol.
Already with the Exodus from Egypt, the Jewish People had two leaders: Moses, our political leader who led us through the desert, gave us the Torah and judged all Israel. Along with him was his brother, Aaron the Kohen, who bestowed of his benevolent spirit on the people. Aaron "loved peace and would pursue it. He loved his fellowman and would bring him closer to Torah" (Avot 1). During the First and Second Temple periods as well we had high priests some of whom bestowed of their benevolent spirits on the political leadership, i.e., on the kings and on the entire nation.
In our own generation, the generation of national rebirth and the ingathering of the exiles, the further we move along the ascending path towards complete redemption, the more we encounter difficulties and complications from within and from without. Precisely at this time we need responsible, strong and wise political leadership that will know how to lead the nation to the goals and destinations for which purpose it was created. And alongside that political leadership we need moral and spiritual leadership, like the air we breath, which can bestow of its spirit on the nation and its leaders, just as the Kohen Gadol did.
Our generation has been privileged in that G-d, who plants in our midst the souls that each generation needs, planted the magnificent, benevolent soul of Rabbi Avraham Yitzhcak HaKohen Kook, zt"l. He was like the Kohen Gadol of our generation and of the generations to follow. Rav Kook bore the nation upon his heart and his shoulders. He loved our nation infinitely Just as G-d loves Israel, and just as we bless G-d who "chooses His people Israel with love." Rav Kook bequeathed to us the light that illuminates our pathways and our souls, as well as the souls of the generations to come, until the advent of a righteous redeemer, speedily in our day.
The day is not far off when the light of Rav Kook will illuminate the path of the Jewish People, in all their streams and all their variety, and will be revealed for all to see. Then we will be the living fulfillment of, "A new light shall shine over Zion, May we all speedily merit that light." Looking forward to complete salvation, Shabbat Shalom.
by HaRav Mordechai Greenberg Nasi HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh
"You shall command Bnei Yisrael that they shall take for you pure, pressed olive oil." (Shemot 27:20) The placement of this topic here is strange; it should have been written earlier in Parshat Teruma, adjacent to the instruction of the Menorah!
Furthermore, what is the connection to Moshe of this specific mitzvah: "You shall command," "they shall take for you"?
The Netziv explains this based on the Midrash Rabbah on the Parsha:
"Bring near to yourself." (28:1) This is what it says, "Had your Torah not been my preoccupation, then I would have perished in my affliction." (Tehillim 119:92) When G-d said to Moshe, "Bring near to yourself Aharon, your brother," he was upset. [G-d] said to him, "I gave you the Torah. Without it I would not have created my world."
In many places in his commentary to the Torah, the Netziv addresses two styles of learning towards the correct Halacha. One is the method of comparing one case to another, and the other if called "pilpul" of Torah," which means clarifying the Halacha based on the methodologies through which the Torah is expounded. The Netziv generally writes against the method of learning through pilpul, and he degrades it, because the commonplace manner of differentiations and pilpul not for the sake of Torah do not bring to clarifying the truth. However, here we are dealing with "the laws that are the rules of the Torah," and this is leads to the climax of learning which is called "Torah lishma." [He calls this "pilpul of Torah," to exclude the disrespect of the maskilim who objected to involvement in theoretical issues.]
These two styles of learning have legitimate place in Am Yisrael, and they have paradigms, Moshe and Aharon.
In Nedarim (38a) it says: "The Torah was given only to Moshe and his descendents." The conclusion of the Gemara is that this refers to "pilpul." According to the Netziv, this was Moshe's strength, to reach a conclusion based on the rules through which the Torah is expounded. In contrast, it says about Aharon, "to instruct Bnei Yisrael," i.e., Aharon's strength was through comparing cases through logic. In one instance, he outreasoned Moshe on the issue of the goat sin-offering. There it says, "Moshe heard, and he approved." (Vayikra 10:20)
With this, he explains a fascinating point in the matter of the mekoshesh at the end of Parshat Shelach. After he desecrated the Shabbat, and "it had not been clarified what should be done to him," they "brought him to Moshe and Aharon, and to the entire assembly." (Bamidbar 15:33-34) However, Moshe and Aharon were relatives, so how could the two sit together on a case? Rather, the two of them were heads of different Sanhedrim, each one in his own way. When they were uncertain of the law of the mekoshesh, they brought the case before Moshe, perhaps he would rule through investigating the methods by which the Torah is expounded, and also to Aharon, perhaps he would clarify it through logic.
This is what it says, "If a matter of judgment is hidden from you ... you shall come to the Kohanim, the Levites, and to the judge who will be in those days." (Devarim 17:8-9) The kohen rules though the method of logic, whereas the judge through the method of "pilpul."
There are two vessels that indicate this in the Mikdash, the Ark and the Menorah. The Ark contains the two Tablets, which are the written Torah and represent comparing one to another. However, the Menorah is the "pilpul" of Torah. This is indicated by the seven candles, which correspond to the seven wisdoms, which are the kaphtorim and flowers of the Menorah. Therefore, when a talmid chacham would say something nice his colleagues would say "kaphtor vaferach." Therefore, in the times of the second Temple, when there were many Yeshivot and many students, they merited the miracle of the Menorah. One who sees olive oil in his dream, should expect the light of Torah.
Thus, we understand the placement of the portion here, and not in Parshat Teruma. Immediately after the commandment to Moshe, it says, "Bring near to yourself Aharon your brother," and the Midrash says that Moshe was upset. Therefore, G-d prefaced by saying to Moshe that his share in Torah in chiddush and pilpul is greater than Aharon's share. Thus, the making of oil applies especially to Moshe, and the Torah says, "You shall command," "they shall take for you" - for yourself. Therefore, the Midrash says, "Had your Torah not been my preoccupation" - by delving in deeply and analyzing it, and this is the joy of learning in a manner of pilpul!
Graffiti on Jewish-owned homes warn the owners to "flee immediately" if they want to live. Anonymous letters with live bullets are dropped into mailboxes of Jews.
Laws meant to punish anti-Semitic threats are now used to punish those who denounce the threats. A new edition of a public school history textbook for the eighth grade states that in France it is forbidden to criticize Islam.
Those French Jews who can leave the country, leave. Most departures are hasty; many Jewish families sell their homes well below the market price. Jewish districts that once were thriving are now on the verge of extinction.
"The problem is that anti-Semitism today in France comes less from the far right than from individuals of Muslim faith or culture". — Former Prime Minister Manuel Valls.
Pictured: French soldiers guard a Jewish school in Paris. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Friday, January 12, 2018. Sarcelles. A city in the northern suburbs of Paris. A 15-year-old girl returns from high school. She wears a necklace with a star of David and a Jewish school uniform. A man attacks her with a knife, slashes her face, and runs away. She will be disfigured the rest of her life.
January 29, again in Sarcelles, an 8-year-old boy wearing a Jewish skullcap is kicked and punched by two teenagers.
A year earlier, in February, 2017, in Bondy, two young Jews wearing Jewish skullcaps were severely beaten with sticks and metal poles. One of the Jews had his fingers cut with a hacksaw.
Before that, in Marseilles, a Jewish teacher was attacked with a machete by a high school student who said he wanted to "decapitate a Jew". The teacher used the Torah he was carrying to protect himself. He survived but was seriously injured.
In France, anti-Semitic attacks have been multiplying.
by HaRav Shaul Yisraeli zt"l In the context of the oil used for the Mishkan, the Torah writes, "tzav (command)." Chazal tell us that this implies a commandment that was to be carried out immediately but was also to apply for generations to come and that it is also a term that is used when there is a need to deal with an outlay of money (Sifrei, Bamidbar 1).
The connection between Hashem and His Torah and Bnei Yisrael is a natural one. "I will never forget Your instructions, for through them You have given me life" (Tehillim 119:93). They are natural for us. As the Mahari Mintz says on the pasuk, "For it is not an empty matter for you," it is not something that can be emptied out of you.
This is the idea behind the commandment for now and for future generations. This is a sign that it is not something external, but something that flows from our essence. The nations of the world complained to Hashem over the fact that He did not hold Mt. Sinai over their head and force them to accept the Torah, as he did for Bnei Yisrael (Avoda Zara 2b). The Yalkut (Bamidbar 684) adds to the midrashic account that Hashem responded that they should show Him their genealogical records. How does that respond to their complaint? Hashem was telling them that based on their predecessors, it would have not helped to hold the mountain over their heads because they were not linked to the Torah in a natural way.
This also explains the statement of Chazal (Sifrei, ibid.) that tzav implies rallying the people to be diligent, which is effective specifically for those who are naturally diligent. In order for it to work, people need to have a natural proclivity to get the job done. That is why the commandment will be fulfilled even when it requires a loss of money.
"Now, command Bnei Yisrael" (Shemot 27:20). Even though they are Bnei Yisrael, their completeness will express itself only if you command them. If they just do a good deed because their emotional feelings bring them to it, then there will be a lack of longevity and consistency to the good deeds. We know and see how Jews who do not conform to the obligation to follow the Torah often display "a Jewish good heart." This is because they come from a chain of generations of people who kept the Torah. However, only when there is a commandment for now and for generations can we be sure that mitzvot will be kept consistently and not just when the mood or ‘the weather’ points in that direction. By being something that starts immediately and continues forever, a connection is created between the distant past and the distant future.
These ideas are also engendered in the pasuk, "You are they who cling to Hashem, your G-d, you are all living today" (Devarim 4:4). Just like the day brings light to the world, which is a natural thing, so too the clinging of Bnei Yisrael to Hashem is natural and brings light to the world.
The garments of the kohanim - the priests of Israel - occupy a great deal of space in this week’s parsha. These garments were meant to bring "honor and glory" to those who donned them. But they were also meant to be "honor and glory" to all of Israel. For when our religious leaders are objects of "honor and glory" we, their followers and public supporters also share and bask in that "honor and glory." The garments of the kohanim represent their sense of devotion and service to the God and people of Israel. This sense of devotion and holiness was supposed to cover the kohein at all times and to become part of his personality and worldview. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch points out that this was the message of the rabbis that stated that nothing was to be between the actual body of the kohein and the clothing that he wore. The garments of "honor and glory" were to become the very being, the skin if you will, of the kohein himself. Only if he constantly operated on the lofty plane of service and honor to God and Israel could he meet the challenge of being a kohein. Clothes may or may not make the man but the sense of honor, duty and loyalty that the garments of the kohanim represented certainly defined the sense of greatness that was expected from him. Once having had the privilege of wearing those holy vestments, the kohein was bound forever after to the concept of "honor and glory" that those garments represented and demanded.
Clothing plays a great role in current Jewish society. Certain sectors of our society identify their closeness to God and tradition in terms of the clothing that they wear. There is no doubt that clothing makes an impression upon those who see us and upon those who wear it. Research has shown that schools that have a school uniform have an ability to deal with problems of student discipline more easily than the free and open schools of casual, whatever you like type of dress. But there is a responsibility that comes with wearing special clothing. And that responsibility is to be people of "honor and glory." The Talmud states almost ironically that he who wishes to sin should travel to a place where he is unknown and to wear "black clothing" so that his behavior will not reflect on the whole of Israel. There are differing interpretations of what "black clothing" means in this context. But it is clear that it means a type of anonymous and casual clothing that will not reflect upon the Torah community and Judaism generally. One cannot wear the garments of "honor and glory" and behave in a fashion that contradicts those values of "honor and glory." Wearing garments is something that should never be taken lightly. For with the garments come the responsibilities and challenges as well. In the Second Temple when the anointing oil crafted by Moshe no longer existed, the rabbis stated that donning the garments of the priesthood was the installation ceremony itself of the kohanim. I think that this is true in our world and time as well.
by HaRav Zalman Baruch Melamed Rosh HaYeshiva, Beit El
"Remember what the Amalekites did to you on the way, when you left Egypt. They met you along the way and attacked the weak members of the nation at the back of the pack, and you were exhausted. They did not fear God... And it will be, when God gives you rest from your enemies round about, in the Land that God has given to you as an inheritance, you are mandated to wipe out the memory of Amalek from beneath the heavens - Do not forget!" (Devarim 25:17-18)
The mitzvah to remember the evil deeds of Amalek is not an obligation to merely remember that nation's actions, but to recall that we have an obligation to blot out the memory of Amalek. There are those for whom this mitzvah is difficult to accept; their humanistic leanings have a hard time grappling with such a commandment...
We have witnessed this kind of attitude in the past, as the sages say in Tractate Yomah (22b) "When God say to King Saul: 'Go and wipe out Amalek,' Saul said: 'For the murder of one soul, the Torah required the [intricate ceremony of] neck-breaking of a heifer, ['Eglah Arufah']. For all of these souls [that you have instructed me to kill] how much moreso would [such atonement be required!]' And even if human members of that nation sinned, in what way did the animals sin [that I should be obligated to kill them?
And if the adults sinned, what did the children do to deserve death? A Heavenly Voice descended from on High and said: 'Don't be too much of a Tzaddik (Righteous person)"'.
It was because of this attitude that Saul lost his position as King of Israel, because he acted compassionately to Agag, King of Amalek and did not kill him. Compassion towards the wicked is really wickedness. Because of Saul's misplaced compassion, our sages tell us, the evil Haman- a direct descendant of Agag - was nearly able to exterminate us.
It is along these lines that Rabbi Levi opened his speech in honor of Purim: (Talmud, Megillah, 11a): "If you do not uproot the inhabitants of the Land, and allow them to remain - they will become thorns in your sides, and will cause trouble for you in the Land in which you dwell." (Bamidbar 33:55) This verse is speaking of King Saul, and of his error in sparing Agag.
The mitzvah, then of wiping out Amalek, actually stems from the value of compassion and kindness - compassion on all those whom Amalek threatens to exterminate. This mitzvah is an ongoing one, and valid even today. The cursed Nazis were the spiritual heirs of Amalek. They did not just want to exterminate us; they succeeded in actually murdering many millions of our people, a full-one third of the world's Jews! Today, too, there are those - driven by a deep-seeded anti-Semitism - who desperately wish to kill us. These are the people whom the Torah commanded us to obliterate, to leave no memory of them...
European officials have been not only mute about the Iranian regime's attacks on its own people. They have also been missing "a robust defense of Western values", now under attack in Iran: freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, separation of religion and state, judicial due process.
The European Union these days is alarmed about political reforms in Poland, but totally quiet about Erdogan's "coup against civilians" in Turkey.
How is it possible that Pope Francis, the world's highest Catholic authority, does not feel any urgency to denounce the avalanche of anti-Semitism and hate coming from the Islamic authorities, but pleased them by sending a letter of support?
As these last few years of terror attacks should have proven to them, they delude themselves if they think that this deadly ideology will be kept confined to Tehran, Ramallah or Ankara.
How is it possible that Pope Francis, the world's highest Catholic authority, does not feel any urgency to denounce the avalanche of anti-Semitism and hate coming from the Islamic authorities, but pleased them by sending a letter of support? Pictured: Pope Francis with Ahmed el-Tayyib, Grand Imam of Cairo's Al Azhar, at the Vatican on May 23, 2016. (Image source: RT video screenshot)
Federica Mogherini has been busy in recent weeks, appeasing one repressive regime after another. Mogherini, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, began with Iran. "Mogherini was mute on the popular uprising in Iran," wrote Eli Lake at Bloomberg.
"She waited six days to say anything about the demonstrations there. When she finally did, it was a mix of ingratiation and neutrality. 'In the spirit of openness and respect that is at the root of our relationship,' she said, 'we expect all concerned to refrain from violence and to guarantee freedom of expression'".
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The IDF is implementing a plan to improve its ability to operate on multiple battle fronts simultaneously. While there is no indication that any one of Israel’s enemies is interested in initiating a full-scale war in the near future, the growing explosiveness of the region means that any tactical incident can snowball and turn into an unintended armed conflict very quickly – and one front can ignite others.
by Rabbi Steven Pruzansky The Jewish Press (February 16, 2018) asked a number of rabbis to address this interesting but rarely-discussed question: “Some of the most famous and important works of literature contain passages and themes that are immodest in nature. May a G-d-fearing Jew read these works for the good they contain, or must he forego reading them entirely?”
These were my thoughts on the matter: I don’t believe there is a definitive answer to this question, although it is certainly easier just to say “no.” Much depends on motivation, purpose, context, source, and especially the precise nature of the immorality, of which, of course, there are gradations. Perhaps the most important determinant is the message that is being delivered. Ancient and medieval works generally frowned on immorality and as such reinforce a Torah message while more modern and contemporary works often celebrate immorality. Usually, no good comes from the latter and prolonged exposure to values that are antithetical to Torah will eventually dilute the reader’s moral perspective and later his or her practice and commitment as well.
It’s important to note that Chazal (recorded in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 307:16) banned the reading of “divrei cheshek” - loosely, books of romance - as a waste of time that could be spent on more godly pursuits and as a tool that could only increase illicit temptation. Books that might fall under that genre must therefore have some redeeming value. Its prurient aspects must be incidental to its primary message for it to be considered appropriate and worthwhile. Fiction generally, Rav Kook wrote, affords us the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of another person’s experiences and thus can broaden our horizons. But not every lifestyle or experience deserves to be investigated, studied or fantasized about and certainly not emulated. So caution must be applied.
That being said, there is one Book that exposes the vices and venality that can permeate human nature and is unsparing in its accounts of our failings. It is superior to any work of fiction. That Book is the Tanach. And we can rest assured that its moral guidance is always spot on. Anyone who wants to learn about our potential for degradation as well great virtue is urged to study the relevant passages and not just skip over them. They provide a solid grounding in moral instruction and, nevertheless, occasionally put human dysfunction on display. One who is drawn to indulge in problematic works of literature would be well advised to study the works of Tanach instead, especially the chronicles of the early prophets. “Turn in it and turn in it, for everything is in it”( Avot 5:22).
When the Palestine Liberation Organization, the PLO, was formed in 1964 – three years before Israel repossessed Judea, Samaria, and Gaza – it was not the goal of the PLO’s sponsor, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, to establish a Palestinian state in Eretz Israel.
Not only was there no such thing as a Palestinian – unless that term described both Jews and Arabs living under British authority during the period of the mandate – but Nasser had pan-Arab ambitions which entailed the liquidation of the “Zionist” state and its incorporation into Egypt.
If further proof is wanted that a Palestinian state was never really on the agenda of the PLO, only recall how Yasser Arafat rejected Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s offer of 95% of Judea and Samaria, including eastern Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. Barak even agreed to an initial return of 100,000 Arab refugees!
No, there will be no Palestinian state. Hamas, which is supplanting the PLO-Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Gaza, is not interested in statehood, and neither is al-Qaeda, now establishing itself among the self-styled Palestinians.
This clearly indicates that the idea of a Palestinian state – which never really took hold in the Arab-Islamic world – is passé. Hamas, like al-Qaeda, is a spearhead of Islam’s global ambitions, in which the very concept of the nation state is anathema.
It follows that the only rational policy for Israel’s government is to destroy the entire terrorist network in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. This done, the government must immediately incorporate Judea and Samaria into the State of Israel.
Moreover, and as I have elsewhere elaborated, the government must institute a Homestead Act for extensive Jewish settlement of these areas. As for the Arabs living therein, they should receive financial and other incentives to emigrate, as tens of thousands have already done.
Anything short of such measures will only lead Israel back to the Oslo quagmire and deathtrap.
We need a leader in Israel who has the wisdom and courage to pursue, steadfastly and courageously, the positive national strategy outlined in the previous paragraph.
All talk about resuming the so-called peace process via renewed negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority promises only more of the folly and timidity that have dominated Israel since the miracle of the Six-Day War.
Prof. Paul Eidelberg (Ph.D. University of Chicago), former officer U.S. Air Force, is the founder and president of the Israel-America Renaissance Institute (I-ARI), www.i-ari.org, with offices in Jerusalem and Philadelphia. He has written several books on American and on Jewish Statesmanship. His magnum opus The Judeo-Scientific Foundations of American Exceptionalism: Today’s Choice for the “Almost Chosen People” is in process of publication. Prof. Eidelberg lives in Jerusalem.
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