Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Noahide / Ger In New - Ancient Light



Rabbi David Katz presents a new series of classes on in-depth learning for Noahides.   A Noahide is the name given to a [non-Jewish] person who believes in the One God [Hashem] and adheres to The Seven Laws of Noah.
Such a person is known as a Righteous Gentile, or, as we can learn from this lesson by Rabbi Katz, a Ger.

Click here To Listen To Class One Of The Noahide/Ger In Ancient Light!

  • Ger Toshav
  • Ger Tzedek
  • Ger in Talmud - Tosfos
  • Goy vs. Ger
  • Righteous Gentile
  • Ger in Rishonim
  • Brotherhood and the Gentile
  • ...and much much more

This is Class One out of a larger series, with the ultimate goal being to identify every Ger mentioned in the Torah [with over 100 places of content] and bring the relevant Chazal to light.

Source: Soul Mazal Blog

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Final Tikkun


Written by R. Yaakov Nathan

The generation of the desert, the Dor Hamidbar, was on a very high level. They were a "dor de'ah", a generation of knowledge, on the level of Bina. Yet they committed the sin of the Golden Calf [parshas Ki Tisa]. This sin was a direct result of their own intellectualization, their miscalculation of when Moshe should have come back from his spiritual elevation on Mount Sinai. [The verse says "boshesh Moshe" and Rashi from the Gemara explains that it means "ba shesh" - that they calculated that Moshe should have been back by the 6th hour of the day.]  It was their own intellect which brought them into trouble--they wavered in their trust of Moshe and over-intellectualized the situation.

The midrash states that the Soton showed them Moshe lying on his deathbed, which opened them up to consider the reasoning that Moshe should have already come down. The Ohr Hachayim explains that what they saw was "with the eye of the intellect"--they didn't hallucinate, but rather they misinterpreted the reality.

Amidst this confusion comes the Erev Rav, the Egyptian magicians who left Egypt with the children of Israel, demanding a new leader to replace Moshe -- since they saw that the Jews were wavering, open to the suggestion that Moshe was delayed and could not descend from the spiritual heights he had ascended to. This is the cause of the Golden Calf [see the Ramban--it was a replacement for Moshe, not Hashem].

When Moshe ascended the mountain, the Arizal states that he received 1,000 lights. This is the level of Moshiach. Moshe had been elevated to Moshiach on the mountain, but the people did not withstand the test; their faith in Moshe wavered, allowing the Erev Rav to bring about the sin of the Golden Calf. This caused Hashem to say to Moshe "Go, descend" [32:7], says Rashi: "Descend from your greatness", descend from the level of Moshiach.

The Arizal writes that the final generation is a reincarnation of the Dor Hamidbar. The Lubavitcher Rebbe said explicitly that this applies to us - we are literally the souls of the generation of the desert. In Rambam's "13 Ikkarim" he writes that we believe in the coming of Moshiach "even if he delays".

Why does the Rambam feel the need to mention a delay here? What's the connection between Moshiach and a delay? The first redeemer [Moshe] is the last redeemer [Moshiach] and perhaps our situation now - waiting in the confusion - is the tikkun for the situation the first time around?

The Rambam explains in Hilchos Tshuva that "Tshuva is completed when an opportunity to commit one's original transgression again arises but one doesn't and repents instead." We are the generation of the midbar--we are rectifying our sin by waiting for Moshiach. Despite what the eye of the intellect might think, our obligation is to trust in Moshe Rabbeinu, not to seek a replacement leader. Not to let the Erev Rav within us entice us to find a "new leader" of the Jewish nation, to make a new Golden Calf [G-d forbid].

Moshe Rabbeinu doesn't need to be replaced, and we are playing our role in the final tikkun. Hold on strong with emunah that goes beyond the intellect and "even though he delays, we wait for him every day".

Friday, February 22, 2013

Esther: Some Things You Should Know

Art: John Cox


Reprinted with permission from Tzaddik Magazine

written by Esther Bashe

Esther is a ''precious stone''.  She descended into the depths on a secret mission.  Her very name means ''hidden''.  Only when her mission was accomplished did she and Mordechai record the events on a scroll called Megillat Esther.  Written with ruach haKodesh [Divine inspiration] the contents of this scroll are read every Purim around the world, testifying to the hidden and miraculous presence of G-d in the darkest of moments.  A prototype of hidden redemption, the Purim story is especially relevant to our generation.

Sometimes there are dilemmas so enormous that the mind cannot fathom a way out.  In this case, there is only one solution to circumvent everything.  Go to the microcosmic source that holds the root of everything.  The Foundation Stone [Even HaShetiyah] in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem had this quality, lying beneath the Holy of Holies - a place radiating unparalleled spiritual symmetry and beauty of irresistible attraction.  This innermost point was hidden inside Esther, as well as other great tzaddikim and tzidkaniyot throughout history. Redemption during periods of great peril is sometimes brought about through a lone individual.  Other times it involves the interaction between a pair of redeemers, as in the case of Mordechai and Esther.

The potency of Esther's power lay in its hiddenness: it flowed from the all-inclusive good point she possessed.  It wasn't just any good point, it was the microcosmic hub found within every woman who played a redemptive role in Jewish history - for instance, the three matriarchs Sara, Rivka and Rachel, as well as Ruth, Devorah, Yael, Rabbi Meir's wife Bruria, Rabbi Akiva's wife Rachel, and many others who remain hidden.  Evil individuals seeking to harm or destroy the Jewish people often met their downfall through women who put their body and soul on the line for the sake of the Jewish people.  Esther cried out in profound distress: Hatzila M-cherev Nafshi - Save my soul from the sword!  [Psalms 22:21 This entire chapter in the Book of Psalms is attributed to Esther] The first letters of this verse spell ''Haman''.

Since Esther's innermost point included the root of every soul, she is said to have encompassed Klal Yisrael.  She was also the living spiritual paradigm of ishah yirat Hashem - the ''G-d fearing woman'' [Proverbs 31:30] spoken about extensively in our holy writings.  Her humility formed the basis for every salvation, and allowed her to resist the empty lure of fame and recognition - something that would have undermined her success entirely.

A Timeless vs Time-Bound Beauty
There is another deeper aspect to Esther's powerful influences that involves time itself. [Toras Noson on Esther]   All suffering is the result of existing in a realm bound by time. Exile in particular personifies the pain and anguish of life under the constraints of time. We are unable to see the whole picture, something reserved only for the higher timeless consciousness of the World to Come. [Berakhot 34b et al]

But at extraordinary moments in history the two realms intersect, bringing redemption.  The reality that exists above time is miraculous because it suffers no lack or damage of any kind. Everything is whole and complete, and as such, holds the key to all healing and perfection. The essence of the Purim miracle [as well as that of Chanukah] came from this timeless realm and penetrates deeply into our world every year during Chanukah and Purim.  It is the same place from where Mashiach pulls down his strength to repair a very troubled and diseased earth. Because Esther possessed this microcosmic good point in her generation, by straddling both realms, she was the conduit of salvation for the entire Jewish people during Purim.

When she descended into the depths of evil, the Other Side rejoiced, figuring it had won the biggest prize by capturing the ishah yirat Hashem, the quintessential G-d fearing woman herself. She now would be lost along with everything else she held within her.  Vi-ka asher avaditi avaditi - And if I perish, I perish - she wept [Esther 4:17].  Taken into the inner chambers of Achashverosh, she was submerged in the constraints of time - the ultimate expression of exile.  However, the profound humility and righteousness of Esther prevented the wicked Achashverosh from accessing her inner essence. [R'Chaim Vital: Etz Chaim, Sha'ar Klipat Nogah 4-5; Ma'amar Ha Nefesh 11:3].  She nullified herself entirely and remained unaffected by any contact with him.  Her purity protected her during her descent, enabling her to elevate and restore the sparks of holiness that fell into the lowest time-bound realm of evil.

Esther's ''capture'' and exile to the lowest time-bound realm of Haman and Achashverosh was intended to suppress all hope for redemption rooted above time.  This supra-temporal level is where the Jewish people draw their strength.  Therefore, since the dimension of time had engulfed Esther, to prevail over her meant prevailing over Israel - since they were all rooted in her soul.  Yet she overcame everything through her heroic efforts on behalf of the Jews.  In so doing, she prevailed over the time-bound astrological calculations of Haman to annihilate the entire people on the 13th of the Hebrew month of Adar [the day preceding Purim, observed as the 'Fast of Esther' today].  Instead, the tables were completely turned on Haman and his supporters when the day earmarked for the destruction of the Jews brought devastation to Israel's enemies.  The redemptive light of the timeless realm converted everything into good - all in the merit of Mordechai and Esther, the redemptive duo of Purim.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
''For the Jews there was light, gladness, joy, and honor - so may it be for us.'' [From the prefatory verses of the Havdalah ceremony recited at the conclusion of Shabbat, based on Esther 8:16]
by Rabbi Shlomo HaLevi Alkabetz From "Manos HaLevi"

Translation by R. Carmel Kehati [words in brackets are the translator's additions]

"And thus I [Esther] will approach the king." [Esther 4:16]

Rabbi Yosef Gackon writes, concerning Esther's three-day fast, that Esther [in fasting for exactly three days] had the following kabbalistic intention. Namely, that three days and nights contain seventy-two hours, and "B'chen" ["thus", in 4:16] equals seventy-two numerically [in letter-gematria], corresponding to the [exalted 72-letter] Name of G-d hinted in the three verses [that begin], "Vayisa", "Vayavo","Vayet" [Exodus 14:19, 20, 21, each of which contain seventy-two letters precisely]. It was with the power of this Name that G-d split the [Red] sea and had the Israelites cross over, and He guided them in His protection and they had no fear [of the enemy].

From that Name, [the flow of] the Divine life-force comes to Esther's supernal [corresponding]sefira; for Esther [as our Sages say] was greenish [olive skinned] in complexion [green is a color associated with the sefira Chesed, Divine kindness, as the life-flow descends through the upper worlds]. Esther, with the power of these seventy-two hours, approached [G-d], King of the world, in her prayers; for she was sure of His help [that He would answer her and save the Jews]. Then, in this [lowly physical] world, she approached King Ahasuerus.

Much more at: Secrets in the Book of Esther

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Psychic Breastplate

Picture: Rabbi Mordechai Becher
"And Aaron shall carry the names of the Children of Israel in the Breastplate of Judgment over his heart, when he enters the Holy Place, as a rememberance before G·d at all times. And you shall place the Urim and the Tumin (a parchment containing G-d's name) into the (fold of the) Breastplate of Judgment so that it will be over Aaron's heart when he comes before G·d . . "
[Tetzaveh 28:29-30]

The Breastplate of Judgment was a prophetic device, worn by the High Priest, through which questions could be asked of G·d. When the king or the High Court (Sanhedrin) would ask a question, the Priest would see various letters sparkle or bulge out. Using Divine Inspiration, he would then be able to combine the letters to spell out the answer. [See Aryeh Kaplan, Handbook of Jewish Thought, vol. 1 (New York: Moznaim, 1979), 6:36 and fn. 110, for more on this subject]

There were twelve precious stones set in the Breastplate of Judgment. They were engraved with the names of the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the names of the twelve tribes, and the words "tribes of Yeshurun." Certain letters, such as the gimel or the zayin, were written only once. [Yoma 73b]

As our Sages have said, the Breastplate barely contained all twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Therefore, when they had to ask a question that used several of the same letters, such as "Should I go to Bavel," how were they answered?

The question "Should I go to Bavel?" contains two letters beit, and three lameds. However, it is likely that the author was only using this as an example of a phrase with repeating letters, because there were at least five beits and four lameds in the Breastplate - enough to spell out these words.

There is a very great mystery in this . . . I heard from my grandfather [the Baal Shem Tov], that each of the twenty-two letters [of the Hebrew alphabet] contains within it all the other letters of the alphabet - these can be attained by spelling out each letter in full. For instance, writing out the letter aleph in full provides a lamed and a phey. Furthermore, each of these letters can be further expanded, to produce even more letters, until the entire Hebrew alphabet is reconstituted - except for the letter mem which, when written in full, will not produce any additional letters.

Since G·d commanded that all twenty-two letters be inscribed on the Breastplate, when the priest would be enwrapped in Divine inspiration, the letters would shine in their expanded forms. This enabled the priest to receive everything he needed to know. This is the meaning of "shoham stones and filling stones "avnei miluyim" for the apron and for the Breastplate" [Tetzaveh 25:7].

"Avnei miluyim" read alternatively as "stones that are filled out" - meaning that the engraved letters shone in their expanded forms. In a number of other lessons on this theme, the Baal Shem Tov explains that additional letters can be derived from a single letter by using the techniques of gematria (numerical value of the letters), or by dividing the letters into their component parts. It is possible that those approaches were originally mentioned with this lesson, since there are a number of other letters, such as the gimel, zayin, ches, tes and samech that could never be derived from the other letters, no matter how many times they are spelled out.

Source: From the writings of the Baal Shem Tov
Translation and Commentary by Rabbi Dr. Eliezer Shore

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Purim Codes


[adapted from Keeping Posted with NCSY, Fall 1999 edition and also from Torah.org article by Rabbi Dovid Rosenfeld]


There is a famous "code" in Megillat Esther :- towards the end of the story, King Ahashveirosh allows the Jews to avenge themselves of their enemies on the 13th day of Adar. In Shushan, the capital, the Jews kill 500 men and hang Haman's ten sons on a gallows. Queen Esther then approaches the King with an additional request: "...allow the Jews who are in Shushan to do tomorrow as they did today, and let the ten sons of Haman be hanged on the gallows" [Esther 9:13]. It's curious that she would request the hanging of Haman's already slain sons. Nevertheless, the King complies.

The Hebrew word for "tomorrow" ("machar") occasionally refers to the distant future. Further, the Sages tell us that whenever the word "king" appears in the Megillah it alludes to the King of kings as well. Thus, the verse could be understood as a request by Esther to G-d to again hang the ten sons of Haman at some point in the distant future. Now, when the Megillah lists the ten sons of Haman during their hanging [Esther 9:7-9] there are a number of unusually-sized letters. (There is a tradition to write certain letters in the Torah larger or smaller than the standard size.)

According to the most accepted tradition, there is a large 'vav' [numerical value = 6] and a small 'tav' [400], 'shin' [300] and 'zayin' [7]. The following suggestion has been made: The large vav refers to the sixth millennium (of the Hebrew calendar); the small letters refer to year 707 of that millennium. The meaning, then, is that G-d agreed to hang Haman's ten sons again in the year 5707 = 1946-7.

When listing the ten sons of Haman who were hanged [Esther 9:6-10], three letters, namely Taf, Shin, and Zayin, are written smaller than the rest (most printed texts reflect this; if yours doesn’t, look in another). The commentaries offer no explanation for this other than that it is a prophecy. The letters "Taf-Shin-Zayin" represent the Hebrew year 5707, corresponding to the secular year 1946-47.

On October 16, 1946 (21 Tishrei, 5707) ten convicted Nazi war criminals were hanged in Nuremberg. (An eleventh, Hermann Goering, a transvestite, committed suicide in his cell. The Midrash tells us that Haman also had a daughter who committed suicide.) As if the parallel were not obvious enough without further corroboration, Nazi Julius Streicher’s last words were: "Purimfest 1946". (In case you question the accuracy of Streicher’s last words, they are are well-documented; they appeared in Newsweek, October 28, 1946.)


It is fairly safe to assume that (a) Streicher did not know about the three small letters in the Megilla, (b) he did not know that these letters corresponded to the year in which he was being hanged, and (c) even had he known, he would have had no motivation to reinforce the validity of Jewish texts, traditions, or prophecies. One could not ask for a more independent confirmation of the all encompassing knowledge to be found in the Sifrei Tanach.

Rabbi Weissmandl - a great Hungararian scholar and holocaust survivor - made a number of findings concerning Megillat Esther using skip distances of 12,111 letters - the exact number of letters in Megillat Esther. If one starts with the first regular mem (as opposed to the "final mem" ) in Bereishis 4:14, where the name Esther (vocalized differently) appears for the only time in the Torah, and count at intervals of 12,111 letters, one finds spelled out the phrase "Megillat Esther." Coincidence? I think not.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Terumah: Giving is Receiving


"Speak to the Children of Israel and let them take for Me a portion" [Terumah 25:2]

Why does the verse state "take for Me a portion" and not "give Me a portion"?

The Torah is showing us the greatness vested in the mitzvah of giving tzedakah. When we fulfill the mitzvah of tzedakah, it may appear as if we are giving, but in truth we are actually taking (receiving) for ourselves a very great mitzvah.

The Midrash Rabbah elaborates on this idea: "More than what the host does for the poor man, the poor man does for the host". The host may have given the poor person a perutah for tzedakah, but the poor person has enabled the host to earn a mitzvah that is more valuable than "thousands in gold and silver" [Tehillim 119:72].

Someone who refuses to assist a poor person, said the Chofetz Chaim, can be compared to a farmer who piled up his wagon with wheat and then travelled to a large city in order to sell it. When the farmer arrived at the city, he was immediately met by dozens of eager customers waiting to purchase his produce.

He was afraid, however, that the customers would attempt to deceive him by taking bundles of wheat without paying for them. He therefore told them "Go ahead and fill your bags with wheat. But each time you fill up a bag, place one copper coin into my hat. When you finish filling your sacks, we will count the coins in my hat, and that way we will know how many sacks you have to pay for."

The customers agreed to the farmer's method and followed his instructions. The farmer's hat was soon full of shiny copper coins.

The farmer saw all the coins in his hat and was overcome by temptation. He quickly stole some of the coins and put them in his pocket.

How foolish is that farmer! remarked the Chofetz Chaim. He may have managed to swipe a few coins, but he will lose much more than he gained because when the time comes to pay for the wheat and the coins are counted, there will be less coins than sacks, and he will lose the payment for all those sacks. This foolish farmer will lose the payment of an entire sack of wheat for every coin that he took for himself.

This is also the case, said the Chofetz Chaim, when someone refuses to give tzedakah. He may hold on to a coin or two, but he will lose the immense reward from a mitzvah that could have been his.

Source: Rabbi Y. Bronstein

Friday, February 8, 2013

New! Online Yeshiva for Noahides

Yeshivat Shem V' Ever is named after the original yeshiva of learning that was attended by Yaakov Avinu in his service of Shem, son of Noah, and his Grandson Ever. The remnant of their cave is found in Tzfat, and is the inspiration behind the modern day vision of Yeshivat Shem V' Ever.

This virtual rendition strives to spread the Torah that relates to Noahides and in particular the ever mysterious "Ger" found within the Torah.

The mission of the Yeshiva functions not only for the education and advancement of Noahides worldwide, but aims to bridge the gap towards Jews, Judaism, and ancient paths in Torah as well.

The intention of the Torah of Yeshivat Shem V' Ever is to promote the achdus [unity] that is inherent in the foundational pillars of Hashem's Holy Torah.


[First Class by Rabbi David Katz will be held this Motzie Shabbos, Israel 10 P.M. - note: will be made available as a Download] - to listen to the class click here
[Allow Ample Time To Adjust to Virtual Classroom; Limited Seating] 

The Ger in Mishpatim - Torah With Love 
by Rabbi David Katz

Parashas Mishpatim may be the most passionate Torah that one will encounter in the entire Chumash; after all, what would one expect after Mt. Sinai! In the Parsha, Hashem expresses Himself in such a way that He seems to get personal: the widow, the orphan, Hashem’s “personal philosophy” [i.e. do not join an evil multitude – how pertinent not only of today, but for all of time - "Jewish (bad) politics"], and as always Hashem’s love affair with the Ger. [It is also worth mentioning that the Parsha contains a large quantity of the material that composes the juiciest sections of the Oral Torah, i.e. Bava Kama & blueprint for Shulchan Aruch.]

Once Mishpatim gets into full [Torah] steam, we quickly come upon not one, but two very explicit commands by Hashem, “Do not taunt the Ger” [Shemos 22:20, 23:9] – for you were Gerim in the Land of Egypt. To show how severe this seemingly benign passing phrase is, Rashi points out that this is a reference of caution when concerning the finances of the Ger, and to carry one’s self to the highest honor and responsibility concerning the Ger’s money. To put it simply, stealing is a no-no, and although this may sound like an obvious no-brainer, the depth that the Torah asks of us to understand why this is, will ultimately reveal the divine quality of the one called “Ger.” The question seems to always remain however, what is the Torah relationship between the Jew and the Ger?

The Torah in conjunction with Rabbinic writings offers a fascinating trail of breadcrumbs over a vast number of resources intricately piecing together exactly who is the Ger. And amidst understanding the Ger, it is inevitable to ponder upon who or what is a convert, along with where does idolatry come into the picture, and better yet, how does the Jew fit in and interact? The trail of perpetuating redemption ultimately starts with finding the needle in the haystack, but let us not lose sight of the goal -“Do not oppress/taunt the Ger.” Up until now the Torah has “Redeemed the Ger”; Post Sinai endeavors to keep it that way.

The proverbial needle in the haystack can be found in Devarim 24:14: “You shall not cheat the poor or destitute hired person AMONG YOUR BRETHREN, OR FROM ‘YOUR’ GER THAT IS IN YOUR LAND, [OR THE ONE] IN YOUR GATE.” It is upon this verse that the Talmud [Bava Metzia 111b; Tosfos] in beautiful fashion will set into motion a short scavenger hunt that will leave us standing face to face with the Rambam, almost as if awaiting the verdict of the redeemability of the Ger. While the Rambam represents the par excellance of defining the 613 Commandments, we must stand with trepidation over the Ger and his redemption, for without an established precedent of a revelation of “Ger Emet” [which is always a possibility in a game driven by Free Will], Man may stand to continue to do that which is evil in God’s eyes.

The Talmud [on Dev. 24:14] understands our verse in three very specific terms: “From your Brethren” – and not an idolater, “Your Ger” – Ger Tzedek [Righteous Ger], and “In Your Gates” – the Ger Toshav. From this short explanation by the Tosfos commentary [of which he says the engine that drives the entire concept must be the Ger Toshav, for we can learn each of the other two levels above and below him, only by concentrating on him] we have gained insight into the basic construction of the gentile world, and have objectively concluded the infamous debate of ''is a Ger a gentile or a convert'', concluding that the Ger Tzedek is a gentile. But then Tosfos spoke a second time!

Tosfos [Talmud Commentator opposite Rashi on a standard Talmud page] continues his assault [on misperceptions of “Gerim”], and directly pushes the envelope, asking “what is the difference between the Ger Tzedek convert and the Ger Tzedek gentile?” [In today’s (“exiled”) Jewish world, the convert is the Ger Tzedek – exclusively, while the gentile is an extinct (and unknown) dinosaur.] His revelation through analysis in text is that there is a Ger Tzedek – gentile, and a Ger Tzedek – convert; resolving, “yes, this is difficult to ascertain, but it is your duty to know the difference when it comes up in text.” [paraphrased]

From the Babylonian Talmud we now leapfrog over to the Jerusalem Talmud, again within Bava Metzia [“the middle gate”] and we find a completely different spin placed on the same set of elements, this time by the rabbis in Israel.

For every step we took to define the Ger – gentile, the Jerusalem Talmud now says that the Ger Tzedek is in fact the convert to Judaism! The logic is quite simple: if we over advocate the gentile – Ger, what will be of those Gerim who actually did wish to sincerely convert? Thus the Talmud states the verse in Devarim [24:14] can equally be the convert, however they offer one last parting message before breaking the action – there is another verse in Vayikra – “do not withhold wages of your friend – to the exclusion of the Ger - gentile.” If we are to pay special attention to the symmetry in the two Talmud’s, we can learn from a “double negative” in the Jerusalem Talmud; the Ger - gentile is indeed not to be simply called “your friend” – for he is much more than this, he is your brother, back in conjunction to our previous Talmud, and now not at the expense of the Ger- convert.

At this stage of the “Pilpul” [spice of Torah, the main theme not only of the Torah of the Ger/Shem (son of Noach), but to the Parsha as well!], now it is just to ascertain, where do the levels fall into place practically of the Ger, convert, Jew, idolater, etc.? To put it simply, what constitutes the tone of the relationship according to the Torah, and such that it maintains its flavor of redemption?

The turbulence on the path of the sacred Ger, comes in the form of the disproportionate attention given to the Ger- convert [which we avoided in advocation of the Ger – gentile] as found in Vayikra 19:33-34, “…do not taunt the Ger …you shall love him like yourself.” This verse is one of the few places in the Torah that specifically is in reference of the convert to the exclusion of the Ger – gentile. The purpose of placing the term Ger upon him is as if to say, “just as you were a Ger and are no longer, having gone through Sinai, he too was a Ger, and no longer, having gone through conversion.” It should then be obvious [as in alignment with the Jerusalem Talmud version of Ger] that the Ger- convert is clearly included in the ever famous dictum [that incorporates the entire Torah] “Love your neighbor [friend] as yourself.” We thus remain with our same plight over the Ger, until Hashem personally comes to clarify matters.

In Devarim 10:18-19 it says of Hashem that “He Loves the Ger” and it is incumbent upon everyone to equally “Love the Ger.” It is here, that we are destined to collide with the Rambam and his discourse of the 613 Commandments, for the commentators all go quiet in the face of the Ger’s own experience of “standing before the splitting of the Sea.”

The Rambam states of Commandment #207: [I will provide translation and elucidation] “We are commanded to Love the Gerim – even though he is included in the precept of loving your friend amongst all of Israel [which obviously the Rambam means that he is not Jewish here, i.e. a Ger Tzedek – gentile] that this Ger is a Ger Tzedek, that he is “like” Israel, and not “Israel” [the Tosfos commentary had explained the Ger Tzedek – gentile as your brother, but not in all of the Commandments, unlike the convert] – Hashem has added this command as this Ger has added himself to the study of God [דת ישראל] – we are warned, do not taunt him [again, this is not yet another mention for the convert, for he has his appropriate place] – and therefore must love him as a Ger and as your friend [This goes back on the Jerusalem Talmud that we learned he is more than your friend, he is your brother; thus now all the more so he is your friend, and this constitutes yet another bestowing of Love, showing the unique bond of the Ger and the Jew desired by God.]

The Rambam finishes by saying this commentary is uniform and is accepted by all; just as we have a unique command to Love Hashem, we must also love the Ger. [Showing that Hashem desires the command on Himself and the Ger; dear is the Ger to Hashem – for Hashem loves the Ger.]

We now are in a fantastic position to answer the underlying question of Mishpatim – can we taunt the Ger –gentile, take his money, not love him, etc. etc., because we choose to close our eyes and acknowledge only the Ger – convert? To call the Ger a convert IS a taunt to the convert, because he is not a ger, he is JEWISH, and this simultaneously takes away the merit and blessing found upon the Ger Tzedek gentile; two diminishments for the price of one!

We are made aware of the Ger Toshav first and foremost, and as the commentaries relate to us, he too is linked with the Ger Tzedek and enjoys a brotherhood status, to the obvious exclusion [and now obvious] idolater. The Ger is essentially linked to every foundational principle within the Torah; whether in economics, social justice, knowledge of God, etc., the Ger is integral in Dat Yisrael. For this, his redemption is imperative and must be perpetuated every generation, in much the same manner as each parsha has a subplot that sheds empathy for the Ger. It is not for naught that the Midrash Rabbah states, “for what does Melech Moshiach come to accomplish with his Talmud – to bring in [all] of the exiles [Jewish and non – Jewish; M.R.] and be a banner for the peoples, nations will seek him. For the wise and knowing heart this should suffice.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Meat and Milk: Gevurah and Chesed


"You shall not cook a kid in its mother's milk." [Mishpatim 23:19]

Ramban writes that it is prohibited to eat meat cooked in milk, since it is an act of moral insensitivity.  Rashi points out that not only are we forbidden to eat milk and meat together, but even cooking the mixture is forbidden.  This renders the prohibition of milk and meat unique in that even the preparation of the prohibited mixture is also prohibited by the Torah.

From this we can learn how far we must take care to refrain from being morally insensitive.

According to the Kabbalah, milk and meat may not be mixed as this would cause the negative interaction of opposing spiritual forces.  Meat is a physical manifestation of the Divine power of Gevurah (severity), as suggested by the red color of meat.  Milk has its spiritual roots in the Divine power of Chesed (kindness), indicated by its white color. Being that these two powers have an opposite effect, they must not be mixed.

Bachaye writes that in the Messianic Era, it will become permissible to eat meat that was cooked with milk. This is because, in the spiritual realms, the mixing of Chesed and Gevurah is not counterproductive.  Each Divine power works in harmony with the other, since both powers respect the fact that they emanate from the One God.

In the physical world, this harmony does not persevere, since physical things feel their own existence as paramount, and will not coalesce to a higher purpose.  Therefore, the mixing of meat and milk in the physical world is forbidden for it will result in a "corruption" of the spiritual forces that they embody.

However, in the Messianic Era, we are promised that G-d will be felt tangibly within the physical world.  Therefore, it will become possible to mix Chesed and Gevurah - through cooking milk and meat - even in the physical world.

Source: Based on Likutei Sichos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Gutnick Chumash

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Unfinished Business

Week's Energy for Parshas Mishpatim
Resetting our Moral Compass
by Rav DovBer Pinson

The Torah reading this week opens with the words; “And these are the Mishpatim /ordinances that you shall set before them.” [21:1]

'Mishpatim' are the ethical and civil laws that govern our behavior towards our fellow human beings, a social contract, as it were.

The Zohar chooses this portion, from amongst all the other Torah readings, to explore the mystery of Reincarnation.

As a rule, our souls incarnate to reach our own actualization and individuation. Each subsequent reincarnation articulates another element of our soul. Each incarnation is a completely different person with a different tikkun [correction], meant to articulate a particular element of soul that has not yet been expressed.

There is one form of reincarnation however, where the totality of who you are and were in the past will reincarnate to create a Tikkun, a rectification for a past life. It is particularly the unfinished monetary issues and unethical dealings between people that require the totality of self to return and hopefully create repair.

Our goal is to fully articulate our particular aspect of soul within our lifetime, and not require a reincarnation of our unique self.

To this end, it is of utmost importance to rectify all negative patterns of unethical behavior that we might express in our lives. In our business dealings, and all other relationships, we must be extra cautious to be moral and honest and repair any unscrupulous behaviors.

This week’s Torah reading imbues us with the energy to effect repair, or Tikkun, for interpersonal issues, particularly in regard to monetary dealings and any dishonorable financial behaviors.

Throughout the week it is important to be extra mindful when it comes to ethical dealings with others.

Try to recognize your negative patterns in regards to business/financial dealings and receive the energy of Mishpatim as an impetus to break out of these behaviors.

Rectifying these negative unethical patterns will ensure a complete tikkun in our lifetime and the ability for our soul to move forward in this life and the next without the need to ‘come back’ and try again.


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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Eye Opener


עַיִן תַּחַת עַיִן "An eye for an eye" [Mishpatim 21:24]

The term "eye for an eye" explain Chazal [Bava Kamma 84a] is not meant to be taken literally - one who causes another the loss of an eye is not punished by having to lose his own eye.  Rather, it means that the responsible party must pay the monetary value of an eye.

Chazal's interpretation of this halachah, said the Vilna Gaon, is alluded to in the words of the verse.  Why does the verse state "Ayin tachas ayin" - which literally means "an eye beneath an eye" - and not "Ayin be'ad ayin" - which means "eye for an eye"?

The Torah, explained the Gaon, is hinting to us that in order to discover the true meaning of the verse, we must look at what is "beneath" the ayin, that is the letters that follow the word "ayin" עין:

The letter ayin ע is followed by the letter pei פ
The letter yud י is followed by the letter kaf כּ
The letter nun is ן followed by the letter samech ס
These letters form the word keseph - כּסףmoney !


Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein