Saturday, 5 November 2016

Abra(ha)m Received An A+

Guest Post:
Cantor Richard Wolberg
* * * * *

We all know that Abram, the progenitor of the Jewish people, was told to "Go forth," etc. The question everyone asks is why is "lamed chof" repeated twice. Once would have been enough. "Lech" — "Go forth".

Many different explanations have been advanced for the double "lamed chof" to which I'll add another.  What is the best score one can receive? One hundred percent. "Lamed chof" equals fifty (lamed=30 and chof=20). Lamed chof  twice is 100. 

Abraham passed the various tests of God with flying colors.  A midrash interprets the use of the double word to mean "Go forth to find your authentic self, to learn who you are meant to be". So the use of the double lamed chof informs us that he received one hundred percent!


--
Kol Tuv / Best Regards,
Rabbi RichWolpoe

Lech Lecha: The Personality of Blessings

From the archives of Nishma's Online Library at http://www.nishma.org/, we have chosen an article that relates to the week's parsha, both to direct you to this dvar Torah but also for the purposes of initiating some discussion.

This week's parsha is Lech Lecha and the topic is blessings, specifically what blessings say about the person being blessed. What one considers a blessing tells us much about that person. For a further discussion on this idea, see http://www.nishma.org/articles/insight/insight5761-07.htm

Parsha: Lech Lecha, "Skin-Garment-House"


An interesting linkage is made on the first verse in Parshat Lech Lecha (Beraishit: 12:1)
"A person has 3 protective casings:
The Bassar, the Begged, and the Bayit.

-  New translation P. 288, RSR Hirsch

This point dovetails completely with the 3 forms of afflictions listed in Tazria-Metzora:
  • afflictions of the Skin, surface, dermatological
  • Garments
  • Houses
In the cases in Vayiqra, the afflictions [Nega'I'm] proceed from the inner to the outer.I don't see any explicit connection made by R. Hirsch in Lech Lecha itself, but the parallel is more than skin-deep!

When Avraham leaves Haran he is asked to leave his:
  • Country
  • Birthplace
  • House of your Father

Or from outer to inner. This is highly counter-intuitive. It is also a major salient point in R. Hirsch's brief essay


Shalom,
RRW

Parsha Lech Lecha - "Pere Adam"

Chofetz Chaim on Lech Lecha 16:12

http://books.google.com/books?id=XFBY8qhhfx8C&pg=PA120&lpg=PA120&dq=chofetz+chaim+on+hagar+and+arabs&source=bl&ots=1RWIBJEO-C&sig=uuhV5JMz1nvu5607hX-ma2P46AE&hl=en&sa=X&ei=g9lWVOjQGenuigKcpIHYBA&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=chofetz%20chaim%20on%20hagar%20and%20arabs&f=false
 
Kol Tuv,
RRW

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Parsha: Noah, "R.S.R. Hirsch, Inuits, and Vegetarianism"

There is a lot of discussion about the desirability of vegetarianism.  It was the original antediluvian ideal etc.

Yet the Torah unambiguously permits consuming flesh.
"Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; as with the green herbs have I given you all these"
Hirsch, Bereishit 9:3, New Edition P. 222.
The Torah simply equates flesh and herbs. There isn't any hierarchy of preference.

R. Hirsch elaborates as to what changed to make this so. Certainly "Eskimos" [Inuit], would find it difficult to  become vegetarians. Any cold climate could present a similar challenge

Shalom, RRW

Noach "Oppression Of One's Fellowman Is The Worst Sin"

Guest Post:
Cantor Richard Wolberg
* * * * *

The Generation of the Flood rebelled against God's dominion. But the Torah itself informs us that it was not this rebellion that brought on the world's destruction. The immediate cause of the destruction was the oppression of man by his fellow.
Now the earth had become corrupt before God; and the world had become filled with oppression. (Genesis 6:12)
The Talmud learns from here that although the earth was totally corrupted by idolatry and immorality, the fate of the flood generation was only sealed for destruction because of acts of robbery and oppression. (Sanhedrin 108a)
God is endlessly tolerant of man's sins, but He listens to the cry of the oppressed, as we are taught:
You shall not cause pain to any widow or orphan. If you cause him [the orphan] pain ... if he shall cry out to Me, I shall surely hear his outcry. My wrath shall blaze and I shall kill you by the sword, and your wives will be widows and your children orphans. (Exodus 22:21-23)
God's anger must be ignited before He will consent to sit in judgment, and it only blazes when the cry of the oppressed reaches His ears. Once God assumes the seat of justice, He will administer retribution for all of man's sins, but unless He is prompted to do so by the cries of the oppressed, man can, in effect, do as he likes as God will never agree to sit in judgment.
This principle finds its strongest expression in the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the twin cities who are metaphors for evil and its consequences:
Now the people of Sodom were wicked and sinful towards God, exceedingly. (Genesis 13:13)
Yet, despite their evil, God only brought them to justice because of the outcry of an oppressed maiden.
"I will descend and see: if they act in accordance with this outcry, then destruction!" (Genesis 18:21)
The Midrash explains that this outcry, which prompted God to sit in judgment, was the scream released by Lot's daughter Plitas as she was cruelly murdered by the populace for having committed the crime of secretly feeding a pauper. (Pirkei d'R'Elazar, Ch.25)
The same thing had happened in the time of the generation that preceded the flood, and it was this kind of cruelty of man against man that led God to destroy the earth. If you want to really hurt God, then hurt your fellow man and it may be one of the last times you hurt anyone!

Parsha: Noah, "Noah's Missing Year"


According to the Torah:
  1. Noah lived for 950 years.
  2. Noah was already 600 years old before the Flood happened.
  3. The Flood lasted for 1 full solar year according to Rashi and the text.
  4. Noah lived for another 350 years AFTER the flood.
  5. Noah's total life-span is 950 years.
  6. However, if 600 + 1 + 350 = 951, Then Noah SHOULD have lived 951 years!
One person, basing his reasoning on text and on the Rashi that the seasons were suspended, has asserted that time stood still for one year. I rejected this attempt at an answer because the text notes all the dates, and  Rashi's point about one solar year would be senseless if time stood still.
Where is Noah's missing year? Which commentaries deal with this?
Why did the Torah:

1) Increase Noah's Age by 1 year from BEFORE the Flood until After the Flood?
2) One attempted answer is that time stood still for that year of the flood. If so, then why does the Torah give a chronicle of 1 solar year replete with starting and ending dates? - Viz. 17th of the 2nd month until 27th of the 2nd Month
3) How did Rashi presume 1 year based upon the text?
4) List Time expended such as 40 days, 150 days, 1 week [3 separate times] etc.?
5) Give Noah's total age when embedded  in this calculation was suspended immeasurable time?
Shalom,
RRW

Parsha: Noah, "Fathers and Sons; RSR Hirsch on 9:24"

Years ago, I came up with a cute idea:

Poqeid Avon Avot al Banim refers to visiting the sins of the parents through, or by means of, the children. This constitutes a serious warning, "Honour your father and your mother, lest you be punished though your children."
- Rabbi S.R. Hirsch, new edition, p. 243 on Bereishit: 9:24

Rabbi S.R. Hirsch applies this to Noah's curse of Ham. Sins that children commit against their parents will be punished by the manner in which their own children, in turn, will deal with them. K'na'an's actions would be the mechanism through which Ham's dishonour of his father Noah would be punished.

This is my own P'shat on Poqeid Avon Avot al Banim. Baruch Shekivanti!

Shalom,

RRW

A Modern Day Noah's Ark


You Canadians have it SO good


A Modern Day Noah's Ark

And the Lord spoke to Noah and said,

"In one year, I am going to make it rain and cover the whole Earth with water until all flesh is destroyed. But I want you to save the righteous people and two of every kind of living thing on the earth. therefore, I am commanding you to build an Ark."

In a flash of lightning, God delivered the specifications for an Ark.

In fear and trembling, Noah took the plans and agreed to build the Ark.

"Remember" said the Lord, "You must complete the Ark and bring everything aboard in one year."

Exactly one year later, fierce storm clouds covered the earth and all the seas of the earth went into a tumult.

The Lord saw that Noah was sitting in his front yard weeping.

"Noah," He shouted. "Where is the Ark?"

"Lord, please forgive me!" cried Noah. "I did my best, but there were big problems. First, I had to get a permit for construction and your plans did not meet the codes. I had to hire an engineering firm and redraw the plans.

Then I got into a fight with OSHA over whether or not the Ark needed a fire sprinkler system and flotation devices.

"Then my neighbor objected, claiming I was violating zoning ordinances by building the Ark in my front yard, so I had to get a variance from the city planning commission.

"Then I had problems getting enough wood for the Ark, because there was a ban on cutting trees to protect the Spotted Owl. I finally convinced the U.S. Forest Service that I needed the wood to save the owls. However, the Fish and Wildlife Service won't let me catch any owls. So, no owls.

"The carpenters formed a union and went out on strike. I had to negotiate a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board before anyone would pick up a saw or a hammer. Now I have sixteen carpenters on the Ark, but still no owls.

"When I started rounding up the other animals, I got sued by an animal rights group. They objected to me only taking two of each kind aboard. Just when I got the suit dismissed, the EPA notified me that I could not complete the Ark without filing an environmental impact statement on your proposed flood. They didn't take very kindly to the idea that they had no jurisdiction over the conduct of the Creator of the universe.

"Then the Army Engineers demanded a map of the proposed new flood plain. I sent them a map.

"Right now, I am trying to resolve a complaint filed with the Equal

Employment Opportunity Commission that I am practicing discrimination by not taking godless, unbelieving people aboard.

"The IRS has seized my assets, claiming that I'm building the Ark in preparation to flee the country to avoid paying taxes.

"I just got a notice from the state that I owe them some kind of user tax and failed to register the Ark as a 'recreational watercraft.'

"Finally, the ACLU got the courts to issue an injunction against further construction of the Ark, saying that since God is flooding the earth, it is a religious event and therefore unconstitutional. I really don't think I can finish the Ark for another five or six years!" Noah wailed.

The sky began to clear, the sun began to shine and the seas began to calm.

A rainbow arched across the sky.

Noah looked up hopefully. "You mean You are not going to destroy the earth, Lord?"

"No," said the Lord sadly. "I don't have to. The government already has."



- Author Unknown (but greatly appreciated!)

--
Kol Tuv / Best Regards,
RabbiRichWolpoe@Gmail.com
Please Visit:
http://nishmablog.blogspot.com/

Parsha: Noach, "The Question of Dual Moralities"

This week's parsha is Noach. The topic is the Noachide Code. Most individuals believe this Code to be an abbreviated form, a subset, of the Taryag Code that applies to Jews. In fact, the Noachide Code is a fully independent system. At times it even yields conclusions that are in conflict with the Halacha that Jews are supposed to follow.

One example of this is found in the rules of judgement and justice. The noted Insight investigates this surprising reality;  how can two moral systems originating in the Divine have such distinctions?

We bring forth the article,  The Question of Dual Moralities from Nishma's Online Library in order to initiate some discussion.

Shalom, RBH

Parsha: Noah, "The Rainbow Covenant"


There are several approaches to the OT Brit found in the Keshet in Parshat Noah. (B'raishit: 8: 21-22)
  1. The more "mystically" inclined will read that Hashem created the rainbow just to signify the Covenant. They will think the rainbow a brand new phenomena. 
  2. The more "rationally" minded will think that while rainbows had long predated Noah. Hashem was only now investing the Rainbow with new meaning and new significance through the covenant.
As per Hashqafah #2 we create Holy artifacts by sanctifying them. For example, a mundane piece of gold is endowed with holiness when dedicated to the Sanctuary or the like. Humanity's role is therefore not just to  "complete" the existing creation, but to sanctify it as well.

Shalom,
RRW

Parsha: Noah, "The Flood Waters were 'Boiling'"


The Torah Temimah writes that,  "Vayashoku Hamayyim" that the flood waters were "boiling." (Noah: 8:1)

Why is it valuable for us to know that Flood which drowned was also boiling?  Why is "boiling" water necessary if the Flood drowned all the life on dry land? If the Aggadah tells us that the fish were exempt from punishment, then why would the point of this boiling water be to kill the fish?
Many years ago, I heard a d'var Torah on this subject. This information is here to teach us that two distinct processes were at work here meant to cleanse and purify the earth.
  1. Immersion or T'vilah. These drowning waters were to cleanse the earth through immersion, like a Miqveh.
  2. Hag'alah.  The boiling water would purge all impurities in a similar way to kashering pots and utensils for Passover
The knowledge gives us insight into purifying ourselves and our environment.


Shalom,
RRW