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Posts tagged God.
Parashat Devarim

 It’s chilling to read the last passuk of this week’s Parasha.

 “You shall not fear them, for Hashem, your God – He shall wage war for you”

(Deuteronomy 3:22)

Despite the stress, the security tensions, the pain and the tragedy, the fact that so few rockets have hit civilians and populated areas, is simply a miracle. When watching footage of the Iron Dome in action on YouTube it’s easy to see God’s Zeroa Netuyah defending us, waging war for us.

This Shabbat in Shule we witness a microcosm of Jewish history. In Kriat Hatorah we once again discuss the conquering of the east bank of the Jordan. We conclude with Moshe reiterating Hashem’s promise that the Jewish people will inherit the other side of the Jordan and settle it with God leading the war.

In the Haftarah, we read about the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash and the deterioration of Eretz Yisrael.

Yisahayahu prophesies, “Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire, your land before you, strangers consume it; it is desolate as if overturned by strangers”(Isaiah 1:7).

Unfortunately, we have seen Yishayahu’s prophecy come to fruition. It was mournfully recorded by Mark Twain in his famous work, The Innocents Abroad.

He wrote, “Of all the lands there are for dismal scenery, I think Palestine must be the prince. The hills are barren, they are dull of colour, they are unpicturesque in shape. The valleys are unsightly deserts fringed with a feeble vegetation that has an expression about it of being sorrowful and despondent. The Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee sleep in the midst of a vast stretch of hill and plain wherein the eye rests upon no pleasant tint, no striking object, no soft picture dreaming in a purple haze or mottled with the shadows of the clouds. Every outline is harsh, every feature is distinct, there is no perspective—distance works no enchantment here. It is a hopeless, dreary, heart-broken land.”  

However, in the past century we’ve seen the flip side. We’ve begun to see Nevuot of Nechama that we’ll start reading next Shabbat. We’ve resettled our land, we’ve never surrendered our inheritance. And in the past few weeks, we’ve clearly seen Hashem waging war for us, for His Holy Land.

May we merit to see the Geulah Shleima and the rebuilding of the Beit Hamikdash Bimheirah B’yameinu, AMEN.

Yom Kippur Reflections

 

Yesterday was the most unique Yom Kippur I’ve ever experienced. For once, I wasn’t troubled by hunger pains or bothered by an itchy throat yearning for water. To be honest, I barely noticed the fast.

I davened at my Midrasha’s brother Yeshiva and while I was nervous about a Yeshiva davening that takes all day, it was definitely worth it! From what I could hear, there was about 100 men and about 80 women davening in the small Beit Midrash. No one was inhibited in their Tefillah. Everyone shouted with all their strength in the most incredible display of genuine passion. The service was deafening.

It was also the first time I’d ever truly felt Yom Kippur was a chag, and something to be celebrated as seen in the famous Mishnah in Taanit. (I’m too lazy to find the source and quote it correctly, I wrote it in my last Dvar Torah – look for it there!). Everyone sang with gusto and danced for such long periods of time despite the fast. Honestly, if I would have walked in and had no idea it was Yom Kippur, I would’ve thought it was Simchat Torah. Obviously, at the appropriate times the Tefillah was somber and serious but that’s not all Yom Kippur is about. Yom Kippur is a day to celebrate our relationship with Hashem and become closer to Him. It’s essentially a manifestation of our ultimate goal in life.

The seriousness of Yom Hadin and the happiness of Yom Kippur seem contradictory. And they are. According to Rav Soloveitchik the religious experience is not a simple one, to say so is a lie. Our religious experience is supposed to be contradictory, confusing and full of crises. We’re supposed to have a complex relationship with God, just like we have a complex relationship full of history with the people we’re closest with.

In the words of the Rav, “religion is not, at the outset, a refuge of grace and mercy for the despondent and desperate, an enchanted stream for crushed spirits, but a raging, clamorous torrent of man’s consciousness with all its crises, pangs and torments…For the path that eventually will lead to the ‘green pastures’ and to the ‘still waters’ is not the royal road, but a narrow, twisting footway that threads its course along the steep mountain slope, as the terrible abyss yawns at the traveler’s feet” (Notes to P.4 Halakhic Man).

Teshuva through the eyes of Hosea
A Yom Kippur Dvar Torah

A famous Gemara in Masechet Rosh Hashannah describes the process of Yom Hadin and how complete Tzaddikim and Reshaim will be judged and how people will either be signed into the Book of Life or the scarier alternative. The theme concludes

בינונים תלויין מראש השנה עד יום הכיפורים זכו נכתבין לחיים לא זכו נכתבין למיתה

Beinonim, [those in between] are hanging between Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur. If they are meritorious they are written for life, if they are not meritorious they are written for death.

(Rosh Hashannah 16b)

This theme is echoed in Maimonides Halachic work on Teshuva.

מי שנמצא לצדיק נחתם לחיים ומי שנמצא רשע נחתם למיתה. והבינוני תולין לו עד יום הכיפורים. אם עשה תשובה נחתם לחיים ואם לא נחתם למיתה.

A person who is found to be a Tzaddik is signed for life, and one who is found to be a Rasha is signed for death. The Beinoni is hanging until Yom Kippur. If he does Teshuva, he is signed for life, if he does not, he is signed for death.

(Maimonides Hilchot Teshuva 3:3)

Through these sources we can see the importance of Yom Kippur. It is the day of our final sentencing, they day when God decides whether we will live or die and the details of our year to come. Furthermore, the days between Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur are the appropriate days to do Teshuva and Teshuva completed then, is especially appreciated by God.

אף על פי שהתשובה והצעקה יפה לעולם בעשרת הימים שבין ראש השנה ויםהכיפורים היא יפה ביותר

Even though Teshuva and crying out to Hashem is always nice, during the ten days between Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur, it is even nicer

(Maimonides Hilchot Teshuva 2:6)

The theme of Teshuva is related to Sefer Hosea and the final verse poses interesting questions about Tzaddkim and Reshaim.

מי חכם ויבין אלה נבון וידעם כי ישרים דרכי ה’ וצדיקים ילכו בם ופושעים יכשלו בם

He who is wise will consider these words; He who is prudent will take not of them. For the paths of the Lord are smooth; the righteous can walk on them, while sinners stumble on them.

(Hosea 14:10)

It seems strange that Reshaim aren’t able to follow the path of God. Isn’t the path of God for everybody? Isn’t that the way to repent?

Radak explains in the name of his father that the sinners stumble on the path of God because they are not used to it. They are like people who trip on unfamiliar roads. Furthermore, this verse is specifically talking about sinners who on the outside appear to have done Teshuva, but their hearts are still on the path of sin. These people will fail in their repentance, but God will help those who are sincere and they will succeed.

This explanation is not only relevant for this final verse of the Sefer but is related to the theme of the entire book. There is constant repetition of Israel’s false repentance and how they are not sincere in their Avodat Hashem. This is exemplified by

כי חסד חפצתי ולא זבח ודעת אלוקים מעלות

For I desire goodness, not sacrifice; obedience to God, rather than burnt offerings

(Hosea 6:6)

This verse alludes to an inadequate fulfillment of Temple services. The people may have been bringing sacrifices, but they were not feeling the correct emotions or having the correct Kavannah behind them. In this case, sacrifices are useless. Furthermore, sacrifices are only intended for bedieved situations, one cannot sin and then make up for it just by bringing a sacrifice and then sinning again. This is not true Teshuva. This is confirmed by Maimonides

וכן בעלי חטאות ואשמות בעת שמביאין קרבנותיהם…אין מתכפר להן בקרבנם עד שיעשו תשובה

And so it is with sinners when they bring their sacrifices…their sacrifices do not atone for them until they do Teshuva

(Maimonides Hilchot Teshuva 1:1)

Furthermore,

ומה היא תשובה? הוא שיעזוב החוטא חטאו

And what is Teshuva? The sinner who completely removes himself from his sin…

(Maimonides Hilchot Teshuva 2:1)

Maimonides gives us the guidelines for as to what is considered genuine Teshuva. He describes how even thought of the sin is completely removed from his mind with the ultimate Teshuva being, if he is placed in the exact situation again, he would not sin.

These two quotes from Maimonides provide a direct contrast to what we see in Hosea. Maimonides describes the need for intention behind sacrifices while Israel offered meaningless sacrifices and Teshuva as completely even removing thought of sin from our mind; while the last verse of Hosea describes an insincere Teshuva that is purely external.

During the Ten days of Repentance we aim to do Teshuva for sins Bein Adam L’Makom (between man and God) and for sins Bein Adam L’chaveiro (between man and man). Verse 6:6 in Hosea “for I desire goodness not sacrifice” demonstrates the importance of Bein Adam L’cheveiro to God. It appears that He priorities a positive relationship between man and his peers over an individual’s relationship with Him. However, Yom Kippur does not atone for sings Bein Adam L’chaveiro.

אין תשובה ולא יום הכיפורים מכפרין אלא עבירות שבן אדם למקום

Yom Kippur only atones for sins that are between man and God

(Maimonides Hilchot Teshuva 2:9)

God cannot absolve or forgive man for sins committed against another person. It is up to that individual to forgive the sinner. A sin against another human needs a human response, not a Divine one.

This leads to a discussion about the Divine response, what is the best way to complete Teshuva for sins that are Bein Adam L’Makom?

גדולה תשובה שזדונות נעשות לו כשגגות…איני? והאמר ריש לקיש:גדולה תשובה שזדונות נעשות לו כזכויות! לא קשיא כאן מאהבה כאן מיראה

Teshuva is so great that intentional sins can be converted into unintentional sins. How is this? Doesn’t Reish Lakish say that Teshuva is so great that intentional sins can be converted into merits! This is not a difficult. The latter is talking about Teshuva from love and the former, Teshuva from fear

(Masechet Yoma 86b)

The most effective way to do Teshuva is through loving God! But is focusing on this aspect of our relationship with God really appropriate for Yom Kippur? Isn’t it more of a Malkeinu, serious and severe sort of a day? The Mishnah in Ta’anit thinks differently.

אמר ר’ שמעון בן גמליאל לא היו ימים טובים לישראל כחמשה עשר באב וכיום הכפורים

R’ Simeon the son of Gamliel said that there were no greater days for Israel than the 15th Av and Yom Kippur

(Mishnah Ta’anit 4:7)

Yom Kippur is often misrepresented as a sad, somber day. While it is serious, we must not forget that it ought to be one of the happiest days on the Jewish calendar. It is a day that we strip ourselves of our physicality and focus solely on our relationship with God. Ideally, this should bring us the most joy in our loves – coming closer to God. In fact, this is the truest meaning of the word Teshuva.

Arguably, best way to become close to God is to love God through understanding His Hashgacha. When we can see and understand the impact God has on every minute detail of our life, we become closer to Him, understand His love for us which hopefully reflects into our love for Him. Understanding God’s Hashgacha is even considered a Mitzvah.

וענין המצוה שנחשוב ונתבונן בפקודיו ופעולותיו עד נשיגהו כפי יכלתנו ונתענג בהשגחתו

And the main point of the Mitzvah is to think and understand His actions to the best of our capabilities and to rejoice in His supervision.

(Sefer Hachinuch Mitzvah 418)

Once again, this connects back to the final verse in Hosea. Radak’s commentary on the words “for the paths of the Lord are smooth, the righteous can walk on them” explains that the reason the righteous can prosper on the path of God is because even when they see bad things happening to good people they realize that everything comes from God. They see that all of God’s actions are just, even if it cannot be seen through our finite eyes.

Similarly, Malbim explains that the righteous will prosper in contrast to those who complain and claim that God abandoned us in exile. The Tzaddikim recognize that we are all under Hashem’s Hashgacha, even in Galut and that His ways are just.

May this Yom Kippur result in deepening our relationship with God, learning from the actions of Israel in the times of Hosea and doing the exact opposite, and seeing revealed Hashgacha in all situations, especially the Geulah Shleimah.

+ My friend is coordinating Tzivos Hashem this year and was given this folder. Just thought it was cute. It says ‘I am a proud soldier in Hashem’s army’.

My friend is coordinating Tzivos Hashem this year and was given this folder. Just thought it was cute. It says ‘I am a proud soldier in Hashem’s army’.

Unesane Tokef 5772

נפתלי כלפה וגד אלבז - החזירנו Naftali Kalfa ft Gad Elbaz - Hachazirenu

קורא לאלוהי - בן סנוף

What I’m listening to at the moment

STOP take 2 mins of your time! Say a perek for a 15 year old boy in need schneur chaim yitzchak alexander ben nechama dina. he is fighting for his life!!!

א  לַמְנַצֵּחַ, מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד.1 For the Leader. A Psalm of David.
ב  יַעַנְךָ יְהוָה, בְּיוֹם צָרָה;    יְשַׂגֶּבְךָ, שֵׁם אֱלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב.2 The LORD answer thee in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob set thee up on high;
ג  יִשְׁלַח-עֶזְרְךָ מִקֹּדֶשׁ;    וּמִצִּיּוֹן, יִסְעָדֶךָּ.3 Send forth thy help from the sanctuary, and support thee out of Zion;
ד  יִזְכֹּר כָּל-מִנְחֹתֶךָ;    וְעוֹלָתְךָ יְדַשְּׁנֶה סֶלָה.4 Receive the memorial of all thy meal-offerings, and accept the fat of thy burnt-sacrifice; Selah
ה  יִתֶּן-לְךָ כִלְבָבֶךָ;    וְכָל-עֲצָתְךָ יְמַלֵּא.5 Grant thee according to thine own heart, and fulfil all thy counsel.
ו  נְרַנְּנָה, בִּישׁוּעָתֶךָ—    וּבְשֵׁם-אֱלֹהֵינוּ נִדְגֹּל;
יְמַלֵּא יְהוָה,    כָּל-מִשְׁאֲלוֹתֶיךָ.6 We will shout for joy in thy victory, and in the name of our God we will set up our standards; {N}
the LORD fulfil all thy petitions.
ז  עַתָּה יָדַעְתִּי—    כִּי הוֹשִׁיעַ יְהוָה, מְשִׁיחוֹ:
יַעֲנֵהוּ, מִשְּׁמֵי קָדְשׁוֹ—    בִּגְבֻרוֹת, יֵשַׁע יְמִינוֹ.7 Now know I that the LORD saveth His anointed; {N}
He will answer him from His holy heaven with the mighty acts of His saving right hand.
ח  אֵלֶּה בָרֶכֶב,    וְאֵלֶּה בַסּוּסִים;
וַאֲנַחְנוּ,    בְּשֵׁם-יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ נַזְכִּיר.8 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; {N}
but we will make mention of the name of the LORD our God.
ט  הֵמָּה, כָּרְעוּ וְנָפָלוּ;    וַאֲנַחְנוּ קַּמְנוּ, וַנִּתְעוֹדָד.9 They are bowed down and fallen; but we are risen, and stand upright.
י  יְהוָה הוֹשִׁיעָה:    הַמֶּלֶךְ, יַעֲנֵנוּ בְיוֹם-קָרְאֵנוּ.

Please say Tehillim for Devorah Bat Dinah

She’s a 32 year old mother of four  who sustained major burns to her body last night and is in an induced coma and in need of an immediate recovery.


1 לַמְנַצֵּחַ מִזְמֹור לְדָוִד׃ יַעַנְךָ יְהוָה בְּיֹום צָרָה יְשַׂגֶּבְךָ שֵׁם ׀ אֱלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב׃

2 יִשְׁלַח־עֶזְרְךָ מִקֹּדֶשׁ וּמִצִּיֹּון יִסְעָדֶךָּ׃

3 יִזְכֹּר כָּל־מִנְחֹתֶךָ וְעֹולָתְךָ יְדַשְּׁנֶה סֶלָה׃

4 יִתֶּן־לְךָ כִלְבָבֶךָ וְכָל־עֲצָתְךָ יְמַלֵּא׃

5 נְרַנְּנָה ׀ בִּישׁוּעָתֶךָ וּבְשֵׁם־אֱלֹהֵינוּ נִדְגֹּל יְמַלֵּא יְהוָה כָּל־מִשְׁאֲלֹותֶיךָ׃

6 עַתָּה יָדַעְתִּי כִּי הֹושִׁיעַ ׀ יְהוָה מְשִׁיחֹו יַעֲנֵהוּ מִשְּׁמֵי קָדְשֹׁו בִּגְבֻרֹות יֵשַׁע יְמִינֹו׃

7 אֵלֶּה בָרֶכֶב וְאֵלֶּה בַסּוּסִים וַאֲנַחְנוּ ׀ בְּשֵׁם־יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ נַזְכִּיר׃

8 הֵמָּה כָּרְעוּ וְנָפָלוּ וַאֲנַחְנוּ קַּמְנוּ וַנִּתְעֹודָד׃

9 יְהוָה הֹושִׁיעָה הַמֶּלֶךְ יַעֲנֵנוּ בְיֹום־קָרְאֵנוּ׃

Please say Tehillim for Tovah Rivkah Bat Yael

Psalms Chapter 20 תְּהִלִּים

א  לַמְנַצֵּחַ, מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד.1 For the Leader. A Psalm of David.
ב  יַעַנְךָ יְהוָה, בְּיוֹם צָרָה;    יְשַׂגֶּבְךָ, שֵׁם אֱלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב.2 The LORD answer thee in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob set thee up on high;
ג  יִשְׁלַח-עֶזְרְךָ מִקֹּדֶשׁ;    וּמִצִּיּוֹן, יִסְעָדֶךָּ.3 Send forth thy help from the sanctuary, and support thee out of Zion;
ד  יִזְכֹּר כָּל-מִנְחֹתֶךָ;    וְעוֹלָתְךָ יְדַשְּׁנֶה סֶלָה.4 Receive the memorial of all thy meal-offerings, and accept the fat of thy burnt-sacrifice; Selah
ה  יִתֶּן-לְךָ כִלְבָבֶךָ;    וְכָל-עֲצָתְךָ יְמַלֵּא.5 Grant thee according to thine own heart, and fulfil all thy counsel.
ו  נְרַנְּנָה, בִּישׁוּעָתֶךָ—    וּבְשֵׁם-אֱלֹהֵינוּ נִדְגֹּל;
יְמַלֵּא יְהוָה,    כָּל-מִשְׁאֲלוֹתֶיךָ.6 We will shout for joy in thy victory, and in the name of our God we will set up our standards; {N}
the LORD fulfil all thy petitions.
ז  עַתָּה יָדַעְתִּי—    כִּי הוֹשִׁיעַ יְהוָה, מְשִׁיחוֹ:
יַעֲנֵהוּ, מִשְּׁמֵי קָדְשׁוֹ—    בִּגְבֻרוֹת, יֵשַׁע יְמִינוֹ.7 Now know I that the LORD saveth His anointed; {N}
He will answer him from His holy heaven with the mighty acts of His saving right hand.
ח  אֵלֶּה בָרֶכֶב,    וְאֵלֶּה בַסּוּסִים;
וַאֲנַחְנוּ,    בְּשֵׁם-יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ נַזְכִּיר.8 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; {N}
but we will make mention of the name of the LORD our God.
ט  הֵמָּה, כָּרְעוּ וְנָפָלוּ;    וַאֲנַחְנוּ קַּמְנוּ, וַנִּתְעוֹדָד.9 They are bowed down and fallen; but we are risen, and stand upright.
י  יְהוָה הוֹשִׁיעָה:    הַמֶּלֶךְ, יַעֲנֵנוּ בְיוֹם-קָרְאֵנוּ.10 Save, LORD; let the King answer us in the day that we call. {P}