Monday, April 24, 2017

Holding On


Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day [Yom HaShoah] 2017 in Israel


Story by Yaffa Eliach from "Hasidic Tales of the Holocaust", based on a conversation between the Grand Rabbi of Bluzhov, Rabbi Israel Spira and Baruch Singer: January 3, 1975.

It was a dark, cold night in the Janowska Road Camp. [The Janowska Road Camp was situated near the cemetaries and sand mountains outside the city of Lvov, in the Ukraine]

Suddenly, a stentorian shout pierced the air: "You are all to evacuate the barracks immediately and report to the vacant lot. Anyone remaining inside will be shot on the spot!"

Pandemonium broke out in the barracks. People pushed their way to the doors while screaming the names of friends and relatives. In a panic-stricken stampede, the prisoners ran in the direction of the big open field. Exhausted, trying to catch their breath, they reached the field. In the middle were two huge pits. [The vicinity of the Camp was scarred with bomb craters from WW1. The huge pits were used as torture sites and mass graves.]

Suddenly, with their last drop of energy, the inmates realized where they were rushing, on that cursed dark night in Janowska. Once more, the cold healthy voice roared in the night: "Each of you dogs who values his miserable life and wants to cling to it must jump over one of the pits and land on the other side. Those who miss will get what they rightfully deserve - ra-ta-ta-ta-ta." Imitating the sound of a machine gun, the voice trailed off into the night followed by a wild, coarse laughter. It was clear to the inmates that they would all end up in the pits.

Even at the best of times it would have been impossible to jump over them, all the more so on that cold dark night in Janowska. The prisoners standing at the edge of the pits were skeletons, feverish from disease and starvation, exhausted from slave labor and sleepless nights. Though the challenge that had been given them was a matter of life and death, they knew that for the S.S. and the Ukranian guards it was merely another devilish game.

Among the thousands of Jews on that field in Janowska was the Rabbi of Bluzhov, Rabbi Israel Spira. He was standing with a friend, a freethinker from a large Polish town whom the rabbi had met in the camp. A deep friendship had developed between the two.

"Spira, all of our efforts to jump over the pits are in vain. We only entertain the Germans and their collaborators, the Askaris. Let's sit down in the pits and wait for the bullets to end our wretched existence." said the friend to the rabbi.

"My friend," said the rabbi, as they were walking in the direction of the pits, "man must obey the will of G-d. If it was decreed from heaven that pits be dug and we be commanded to jump, pits will be dug and jump we must. And if, G-d forbid, we fail and fall into the pits, we will reach the World of Truth a second later, after our attempt. So, my friend, we must jump."

The rabbi and his friend were nearing the edge of the pits; the pits were rapidly filling up with bodies. The rabbi glanced down at his feet, the swollen feet of a 53 year old Jew ridden with starvation and disease. He looked at his young friend, a skeleton with burning eyes. As they reached the pit, the rabbi closed his eyes and commanded in a powerful whisper, "We are jumping!"

When they opened their eyes, they found themselves standing on the other side of the pit. "Spira, we are here, we are here, we are alive!" the friend repeated over and over again, while warm tears steamed from his eyes. "Spira, for your sake, I am alive; indeed, there must be a G-d in heaven. Tell me Rabbi, how did you do it?"

"I was holding on to my ancestral merit. I was holding on to the coat-tails of my father, and my grandfather and my great-grandfather, of blessed memory," said the rabbi and his eyes searched the black skies above. "Tell me, my friend, how did you reach the other side of the pit?"

"I was holding on to you" replied the rabbi's friend.

Memorial Sign for Jews killed in Lviv Janowska Concentration Camp



Rebuke


"He should be brought to Aharon the Kohen..." [Tazria 13:2]

The Kohanim (priests) were people of inherent kindness who blessed the Jewish people with love.  Therefore, when it came to declaring somebody with the severe condition of tzara'as, which required total isolation from the Jewish camp, it was imperative that this harsh judgment be done out of love, so the Torah required it to be done by a Kohen.

From this we can learn a powerful lesson: that if one feels that another person has acted disgracefully and one wishes to chastise him, one must first examine one's own motives to see if one's desire to rebuke another is truly being done out of love.

Source: Likutei Sichos Lubavitcher Rebbe

Sunday, April 23, 2017

North Korea threatens Australia



US Vice President Mike Pence  is currently in Sydney, ensuring that Australia is America's best friend, and this has angered North Korea who are now threatening us with a possible nuclear strike.

Mr Pence is spending today seeing some of Sydney's tourist attractions and will return to the States on Monday morning.  



Friday, April 21, 2017

A Sobering Thought

Art Rob Gonsalves


"Do not drink wine that will lead to intoxication, neither you nor your sons with you, when you go into the Tent of Meeting, so that you shall not die. [This is] an eternal statute for your generations..." [Shemini 10:9]

There is a view [see Rambam, Laws of Entering the Temple 1:7] that even nowadays a priest [kohen] may not drink a revi'is [86ml] of wine, for this is sufficient to cause some degree of intoxication, and since it is quite feasible that the Holy Temple will be rebuilt within the time it takes for him to become sober, the wine would thus render him unfit for service in the Temple.

Now, according to Jewish law, intoxication caused by a revi'is of wine can be removed by either a short sleep, or by waiting the time it would take to walk a mil. (There are different views as to precisely how long this is: either 18 or at most 24 minutes).

From here we see a remarkable ramification of the above principle: that Jewish law takes seriously into consideration the fact that it is possible for Moshiach to come, with a completed Holy Temple, within a maximum of 23 minutes and 59 seconds, thus requiring the priests to be ready for service immediately!

Based on Likutei Sichos Lubavitcher Rebbe [Gutnick Chumash]

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Chasidah Bird


The Chasidah [white stork]

 וְאֵת הַחֲסִידָה  "The chasidah" [Shemini 11:19]

Why is its name chasidah (literally meaning "kind one") asks Rashi. "Because it does kindness with its companions with food."

According to the Ramban, said the Chiddushei HaRim (R' Yitzchak Meir Alter of Gur), the reason why the nonkosher birds are not kosher is because of their cruel nature.  If so, the chasidah should have been a kosher-type bird; after all, it bestows kindness upon its companions!

The chasidah acts kindly towards its companions, answered the rebbe, but it does not act kindly toward anyone else. This is why it is considered not kosher.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Seudah Moshiach

Acharon Shel Pesach, the last day of Pesach has a special connection to the coming of Moshiach and is celebrated accordingly, by partaking of Moshiach's Seudah [the meal of Moshiach..... sometimes known as the Third Seder]

The last day of Pesach  is celebrated by eating a special, festive banquet called Moshiach's seudah, a custom initiated by the Baal Shem Tov. The connection between the last day of Pesach and Moshiach is explained by the Tzemach Tzedek: "The last day of Pesach is the conclusion of that which began on the first night of Pesach. The first night of Pesach is our festival commemorating our redemption from Egypt by the Holy One, Blessed be He. It was the first redemption, carried out through Moshe Rabbeinu, who was the first redeemer; it was the beginning. The last day of Pesach is our festival commemorating the final redemption, when the Holy One, Blessed be He, will redeem us from the last exile through our righteous Moshiach, who is the final redeemer. The first day of Pesach is Moshe Rabbeinu's festival; the last day of Pesach is Moshiach's festival."

Pesach is the festival which celebrates freedom. The first day celebrates the redemption from the first exile; the last day celebrates the future redemption from the final exile. The two are intimately connected, the beginning and end of one process with G-d in the future redemption showing wonders "as in the days of your exodus from Egypt."

That Moshiach's festival is celebrated specifically on the last day of Pesach is not merely because Moshiach will redeem us from the last exile. Being last has a significance beyond mere numerical order, for that which is last performs a unique function. When the Jews journeyed in the desert after leaving Egypt, they marched in a specific order, divided into four camps. The last to march was the camp of Dan, which is described by Torah as "ma'asaf l'chol hamachanos" - "gatherer of all the camps." Rashi explains this as meaning that "The tribe of Dan...would journey last, and whoever would lose anything, it would be restored to him."

The concept of "gatherer of all the camps" - restoring lost property and making sure that nothing is missing - may be applied to various situations. The Baal Shem Tov, for example, taught that just as the Jews in the desert made forty-two journeys before they reached their final destination, Eretz Yisroel, so there are forty-two journeys in each Jew's individual life. The birth of a person corresponds to the initial journey when the Jews left the land of Egypt, and at each stage of life a Jew is somewhere in the middle of one of the forty-two journeys he must experience before he enters the next world.

Not only a person's entire life, but also every individual service to G-d has various stages or "journeys." In particular, the conclusion of a specific service acts as the "gatherer of all the camps" - to make sure that nothing is missing from that service. Pesach, it was noted earlier, is associated with the concept of redemption, and our service on Pesach is correspondingly directed towards hastening the arrival of the final redemption. But even if service on Pesach was deficient, if opportunities were missed, not all is lost: the last day of Pesach acts as "gatherer of all the camps" for the entire festival. Just as the tribe of Dan restored lost articles to their owners, so the last day of Pesach provides a Jew with the opportunity to rectify omissions in the service of Pesach, and thereby regain what is rightfully his.

Because Pesach is associated with the redemption through Moshiach and the last day of Pesach is the finish to and completion of Pesach, the last day of Pesach accordingly emphasizes the coming of Moshiach.

The notion of "gatherer of all the camps" applies not only to each individual Jew's life and service, but also to Jewry in general. The forty-two journeys between leaving Egypt and entering Eretz Yisroel took place in the desert, the "wilderness of the nations," which is an allusion to the period of exile when Jews sojourn amongst the nations of the earth. The forty-two journeys in the desert served as the means wherewith Jews left the limitations of Egypt.  Thus all the journeys undertaken until the Jews actually entered Eretz Yisroel may be viewed as part of the exodus from Egypt. So too with the journeys in the exile: until Jews merit the final redemption, they are still journeying to reach Eretz Yisroel.  In every generation, Jews are somewhere in the middle of one of those forty-two journeys.

As in the journeys in the desert, there is a "gatherer of all the camps" in the generations-long journey of Jews to the Messianic Era. Our present generation is that of "the footsteps of Moshiach," the last generation of exile. It is the "gatherer of all the camps" of all generations of Jews.

That this generation of exile is the "gatherer of all the camps" of all generations is not just because it is the last. Exile is not just punishment for sin.

The mission of Jews is to elevate and refine this corporeal world, to reveal G-dliness and to transform the physical into a dwelling place for G-d. Dispersed throughout the world in exile, Jews have been given the opportunity and the means to carry out this mission in all parts of the world.

This has been the Jews' task throughout their history. "Gatherer of all the camps" in this context means that if any portion of that task is missing, it now can be rectified. Thus the era of "gatherer of all the camps" is the era when the world will have been fully refined and G-dliness revealed: the Era of Moshiach.

It is for this reason that it is our generation which is that of "the footsteps of Moshiach" and "gatherer of all the camps." For the service of Jews throughout the generations has been all but completed, and only the finishing touches - "gatherer of all the camps" - is needed. We stand ready and prepared to greet Moshiach.

Moshiach, of course, could have come in previous generations. The Talmud, for example, relates that at the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash, a cow lowed twice. The first time meant that the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed; the second time meant that Moshiach was born. In other words, the potential Moshiach was born immediately after the destruction and had the Jews merited it then, he would have been the actual Moshiach.

Although Moshiach could have come in previous generations, the future redemption nevertheless has a greater connection to our generation - just as the idea of Moshiach is emphasized on the last day of Pesach,  although the whole of Pesach is associated with the future redemption. For both are the concept of "gatherer of all the camps" and we accordingly celebrate Moshiach's seudah specifically on the last day of Pesach.

There is still more to the connection between the last day of Pesach and Moshiach. The prophet Yechezkel describes the exodus from Egypt - which took place on the first day of Pesach - as the birth of the Jewish nation.

The last day of Pesach, the eighth day, is therefore the day of the circumcision, which is "the beginning of the entry of the holy soul." Moshiach is the yechidah - the most sublime level of the soul - of the Jewish people. Until the body of Jewry has undergone circumcision it is not whole; its holy soul is missing. Moreover, the Alter Rebbe writes, the highest level of circumcision will take place in the future, when "The L-rd will circumcise your heart."

The Haftorah read on the last day of Pesach is also connected with the Messianic Era. It states: "The wolf will lie down with the lamb...He will raise a banner for the return...the earth will be full of the knowledge of the L-rd." All of these verses refer to the Messianic Era.

Thus the relationship between the last day of Pesach and Moshiach. But why do we mark this relationship by eating a meal?

Belief in Moshiach is a cardinal tenet of the Jewish faith, enshrined as one of Rambam's thirteen principles of belief: "I believe with perfect faith in the coming of Moshiach; and although he may tarry, I will wait for him every day that he shall come." But abstract belief is not enough. Our intellectual awareness must be translated into concrete action - by eating of Moshiach's seudah. Moreover, the food from Moshiach's seudah becomes part of our flesh and blood, and our faith in, and yearning for Moshiach permeates not just the soul's faculties but also the physical body.

Moshiach's seudah was initiated by the Baal Shem Tov, and there is good reason why it was by him specifically. In a famous letter to his brother in law, R. Gershon of Kitov, the Baal Shem Tov tells of the time he experienced an elevation of the soul to the highest spheres. When he came to the abode of Moshiach, he asked, "When will the Master come?" to which Moshiach replied, "When your wellsprings shall spread forth to the outside." In other words, it is the Baal Shem Tov's teachings - Chassidus - which will bring Moshiach, and it is therefore particularly appropriate that it was the Baal Shem Tov who initiated Moshiach's seudah on the last day of Pesach.

In the time of the Baal Shem Tov, the principal element of the seudah was matzah. The Rebbe Rashab, fifth Rebbe of Chabad, added the custom of drinking four cups of wine. Matzah is poor man's bread, flat and tasteless. Wine, in contrast, not only possesses taste, but induces joy and delight, to the extent that our Sages say, "Shirah (song) is said only over wine."

Chabad Chassidus conveys the concepts of Chassidus, first propounded by the Baal Shem Tov, in an intellectual framework, enabling them to be understood by a person's Chochmah (wisdom), Binah (knowledge), and Da'as (understanding) - ChaBaD. And when a person understands something - in this case the concepts of Chassidus - he enjoys it that much more. Chabad, in other words, introduced "taste" and "delight" into Chassidic doctrines, which until then were accepted primarily on faith alone.

The four cups of wine also allude to the Messianic Age, for which the dissemination of Chassidus - especially Chabad Chassidus - is the preparation. The four cups symbolize: the four expressions of redemption; the four cups of retribution G-d will force the nations of the world to drink; the four cups of comfort G-d will bestow upon the Jews; the four letters of G-d's Name which will be revealed; the four general levels of repentance.

[Source: Sichah of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Acharon Shel Pesach, 5742]

Friday, April 14, 2017

How to Receive Ruach haKodesh


Ruach HaKodesh literally means ''breath of the Holy'' or more simply Divine Inspiration - it is what we call intuition, knowing something that you could generally have no way of knowing.  Although similar, it's not the same thing as Prophecy, as explained here.

Rabbi Pinson explains why most of us do not have this ability now, and how we can try and get it back.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Month of Open Miracles





The first mention of the name Nissan is in Megilat Esther when Haman draws lots to decide which day of the year he will kill the Jews. This event, says the Megila, took place in the month of Nissan. The Bnei Yisaschar says the name Nissan is for “Nissim” miracles. It is a month of open miracles where Hashem turned the natural world on its head to rescue His beloved nation. The Torah tells us this special time was planned from the creation of the world and will always be a time of miracles and redemption for Am Yisroel for all generations.


The following is written by Rabbi Chaim Avihau Schwartz

Rabbi Yehoshua contends that in Nissan the universe was created... in Nissan the Jewish People were redeemed, and in Nissan they will be redeemed once again. [Talmud, Rosh HaShannah 10b]

Rabbi Yehoshua believed that the universe must have been created in Nissan, for Nissan is the first of the months of the year. Being the first month it is closer to the ultimate cause, closer to that heavenly source that lies above and beyond time. This is the nature of Nissan's unique holiness - a holiness by virtue of which it is closely bound to the Almighty. Nissan is separate and distinct from the rest of the months of the year. Compared to Nissan the rest of the months represent ordinary mundane existence. True, we count the years since creation from Tishrei, but from the deeper perspective of the Nation of Israel the year begins in Nissan. That is, the true point of connection, the true bond between the new year and its Divine source is in Nissan. From the human perspective, a Jew is capable of sanctifying himself at any time through the study of Torah, self sacrifice, etc. But from the loftier perspective of Divine affinity and willingness, Nissan is the choicest time of year for approaching and cleaving to God. That is, the possibility of our clinging to God is greater in Nissan than in any other month of the year.

The word "Nissan" can be understood in Hebrew to mean "our miracles." Because of its unique holiness Nissan is a perfect time for overt miracles. This is because Nissan constitutes a bond, as it were, between time-bound existence and the realm that transcends time. Throughout history many miracles have taken place in this month. Even the bread that we eat in Nissan - Matzah - is Holy. Matzah contains none of the leaven that represents the evil inclination. It is bread that possesses Divine holiness. It is impossible to subsist without bread, but in Nissan the bread is Divine. The difference between ordinary leavened bread and Matzah is the amount of time involved in its preparation. Once again we see that the month of Nissan constitutes the height of attachment between natural existence and the Divine source. Therefore it is singled out as a time of redemption - "In Nissan the Jewish People were redeemed, and in Nissan they will be redeemed once again" - speedily in our days, Amen.

This is an extract only, read the entire article at: Yeshiva

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Mystical Secrets of Seder Night



Rabbi Alon Anava


Holy Matzah


Many communities, chassidic ones in particular, have the custom to refrain from eating gebrokts on the first seven days of Passover. Gebrokts is a Yiddish word that refers to matzah that has come in contact with water.

It literally means “broken,” and it has come to mean “wet matzah” because matzah is usually ground or broken up into crumbs before it is mixed with water.

Those who refrain from eating gebrokts on Passover do so for fear that during the baking process there may have been a minute amount of flour that did not get kneaded properly into the dough. Upon contact with water, that flour would become chametz.

The custom of not eating gebrokts gained prominence around the end of the eighteenth century. At that time, people began to bake matzahs much faster than halachically mandated, in order to be absolutely sure that the dough had no chance to rise before being baked. The flip side of this stringency is that the matzah we eat today is not as well kneaded as matzah used to be, and it is very possible that it contains pockets of flour. [1]

The stringency of not eating gebrokts applies to matzah and water only—not to matzah and pure fruit juices or other liquids, [2] which don’t cause flour to become chametz.

Those who are careful with gebrokts don’t eat matzah balls, matzah brei, [pronounced matzah bry] or matzah anything; in short, they do not cook with matzah at all. Also, when there is matzah on the table, they are very careful to keep it covered and away from any food that may have water in it. Drinks, soups, and vegetables that have been washed and not thoroughly dried, are all kept far away from the matzah.

A situation in which this stringency comes into play is during the Korech step of the Seder. This step requires that we take maror—lettuce and horseradish—and put it between two pieces of matzah to make a sandwich. Because the lettuce will actually be touching the matzah, it must be absolutely dry. Many families spend much time carefully washing the lettuce and then very meticulously drying it in preparation for the Seder.

On the eighth day of Passover, which exists only outside the Land of Israel, the gebrokts stringency doesn’t apply, and all feast on matzah balls and matzah brei, and dip their matzah into soups and salads. In fact, many have the custom to try to eat their matzah with as many liquids and wet foods as possible. [3]

The simple reason for this is that the celebration of the eighth day is of rabbinic origin.

But there is also a spiritual reason given for eating gebrokts on the eighth day:

The last day of Passover is connected with the future redemption [see Remembering the Future], a time when no evil will befall us. We reflect this reality by going out of our way to eat gebrokts on this day, without fear that the matzah may become chametz. [4]

Alternatively, Passover celebrates the Exodus, a time when we were (and are) spiritually immature. At this time, we need to be constantly on guard for the slightest bit of chametz (i.e., pride and ego), lest we be adversely affected. Fifty days after Passover, and after the seven weeks of character refinement we undergo with the Omer counting, we have spiritually matured and are fully immunized against the harmful side effects of chametz. We are then ready as a nation to receive the Torah. Thus, on the holiday of Shavuot, one of the communal offerings brought in the Temple was specifically made of chametz. [For further elaboration on this idea, see Chametz: What Would Your Psychologist Say?]

On the last day of Passover, we have already completed the first of the seven weeks of the counting of the Omer. We are not quite ready for chametz, but we are a bit more secure. For this reason we eat our matzah with liquid, without fear.5

For a lengthier treatment of the spiritual implications of gebrokts on the last day of Passover, see A Speck of Flour.

FOOTNOTES

1.
Responsa of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, no. 6.

2.
Provided that one can be absolutely positive that the liquid contains no water whatsoever. Practically, this applies to wines or juices squeezed or produced in-house.

3.
All these gebrokts foods should be prepared after nightfall of the last night of Passover (unless that day is Shabbat, in which case it would be permitted to prepare the matzah balls or other gebrokts foods on Friday, provided that one has made an eruv tavshilin before the holiday).

4.
Talk by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory, Acharon Shel Pesach 5744.

5.
Talk by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Acharon Shel Pesach 5727.

Source: Chabad

Saturday, April 8, 2017

777




As we already knew, Donald Trump was 70 years, 7 months and 7 days on his first full day in office, and won by 77 electoral votes....   and now we learn that it was on his 77th day as President that he kick-started WW3.

How could all these sevens be coincidental? How could they not be Hashem's gigantic hints to the current year 5777 being THE year ? 

Just as an aside, apart from being the 100th anniversary of WW1, it was also the 115th birthday of the Lubavitcher Rebbe [who passed in 1994] - his birthday is still widely acknowledged by Lubavitchers and Yud Alef Nissan is regarded as a very special day. Seems the Rebbe is still majorly spiritually connected to the world, and to the current White House family, noting the Kushners choice of a Chabad shul in Washington.   And of course the Rebbe's address was 770 Eastern Parkway..... there's those sevens again.

So now the world takes sides, and we continue to wait and see. 

See what? What do we think we're going to see? Rainbows and unicorns, peace and love and hearts in the sky? How do we know what the Geula looks like?  What does the Geula look like?  Find out what will actually happen by listening to this shiur by Rabbi Shimon Kessin,  and prepare to have your mind blown.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

What does The Geula Look Like



HT: Rahel

This video was from last year, but it was brought to my attention by Rahel on FB :

Rabbi Shimon Kessin - [brother of Rabbi Mendel Kessin]  ..."What does the Geula look like when it starts---at the moment of initiation"? In order to answer this question, he discusses a concept called "Bread of Shame."


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Forgotten Miracles


One of Rebbe Nachman's followers once came to him. He had a serious ailment in his arm and was in such great pain that he could not move it at all. He had his arm in a sling and was totally unable to lower it.

The Rebbe's followers told him that this cripple was very poor and could not afford the expensive salts and other remedies that he needed for his arm.

The cripple was sitting at Rebbe Nachman's table for the Sabbath noon meal. The Rebbe remarked that the cripple certainly had faith, and all those sitting there agreed. He discussed this a while and then repeated himself, asking again if this cripple had faith. Those present again answered "yes".

Suddenly the Rebbe commanded the cripple "Lower your hand!"

The cripple stood there amazed, and everyone else was also very surprised. What was the Rebbe saying? The man had been afflicted for a long time, and it was absolutely impossible for him to move his arm. Why was the Rebbe telling him to do the impossible?

But as soon as Rebbe Nachman gave the order, "he decreed, spoke and it became fulfilled".

His follower removed the man's sling and he instantly lowered his arm. He was totally healed and it was an obvious miracle. He regained full use of his arm, and it remained healthy for the rest of his life.

Many awesome miracles like this occurred from time to time. The Rebbe, however, was compelled to minimize them.

I saw the Rebbe soon after he healed the cripple and spoke to him about it. It was obvious that he was not feeling well. He said "Whenever I am involved with miracles, I always suffer from it. Whenever I do anything like this I pray to G-d that it be forgotten." [This may be the reason why so few of his miracles have ever been recorded]

from "Rabbi Nachman's Wisdom" by Rabbi Nathan of Nemirov, translated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan z"l

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Monday, April 3, 2017

Did You Know......?

Artist Unknown


When you speak lashon hara you give your merits to the one you're slandering and take their transgressions.

[Chofetz Chaim; sefer Shmiras Halashon]

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Spreading The Light



A continuous fire shall burn upon the altar; it shall not go out. [Tzav 6:6]

There were two types of fire in the Sanctuary and Holy Temple: one that burned on the outer altar, and one that burned in the menora inside. 

The priest whose job it was to light the menora did so with a flame taken from the outer altar. 

This teaches an important lesson: The outer altar is symbolic of our Divine service with other people; the kindling of the menora alludes to Torah study, as it states in Proverbs, "The Torah is light." 

Thus in order to merit the Torah's light it isn't enough to concern oneself with one's own spiritual progress; the concern should be extended to others as well.

Source: Likutei Sichot Lubavitcher Rebbe

Friday, March 31, 2017

Cyclone Debbie's Destruction



Cyclone Debbie has caused billions of dollars of damage to our beautiful Whitsunday Islands, and the fallout from it is now affecting the entire eastern side of Australia  - there is a 2,000 km line of flooding from the north to the south as the system makes it way down.  Unprecedented flood levels are being seen.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Soul Connections: Roots of Our Souls


Rabbi Dov Ber Pinson explains how our souls relate to one another, why we may feel a ''connection'' to someone we have just met -

''Ever wonder where first impressions come from? Why are we more prone to like one type of people more than others?''


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Cyclone Debbie



Bearing down on north Queensland in Australia is Cyclone Debbie which had intensified into a hurricane and is now hopefully classed as a Category 4 but possibly Category 5.   Thousands have been evacuated from the area.   The largest storm to hit Australia since Yasi in 2011.

Cyclone Debbie Descends


Other Peoples' Money



''He shall return the article that he stole, the withheld funds, the article left for safekeeping, the found article.... or anything else regarding which he swore falsely" [Vayikra 5:23-24]

Gedolei Yisrael have always exercised great caution when dealing with the money of others, so that they would not be guilty of the severe transgression of theft.

by Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

One erev Shabbos, when R' Isser Zalman Meltzer returned from the mikveh, he suddenly realized that he had used two clothing cubbies at the mikveh.

Perhaps I took someone else's space, thought R' Meltzer. I might very well owe the mikveh attendant twice the amount that I usually pay!

One of his family members saw how much the matter was troubling R'Meltzer, so he offered to go to the mikveh and pay the attendant for the extra cubby.

"It is I who must go" replied R' Meltzer. "For the halachah states explicitly that one who steals from his fellow must not only repay him, but he must verbally appease him as well. The responsibility to appease the attendant is my responsibility alone."

Monday, March 27, 2017

Communal Benefits

Art: Xinature

by Rabbi David Hanania Pinto Shlita

One of the questions often asked of the great poskim is how a person can atone for the sin of theft if he cannot remember the people from whom he has stolen!

In the book Tuvcha Yabiu, Rabbi Yitzchak Zilberstein Shlita advises one who wants to repent and atone for the sin of theft to donate some money for the needs of the community.

The Rav Shlita cites an amazing incident that occurred in Israel, an incident that he himself witnessed:

“Someone had placed some comfortable benches next to the grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in Meron. A few years ago, when I went to Meron, I saw a Jew who was lying down on one of these benches, and when he got up he said something like, ‘Oh, how it’s good to relax on these benches!’

“As it turned out, the man who was responsible for placing the benches there had sinned against the very same Jew relaxing on them. Since this Jew had benefited from these benches, it was considered as if the transgressor had atoned for his sin, thereby erasing it. The same applies to returning a stolen object: If we do something for the community by donating things that the public needs, and if we also pray to Hashem so that those against whom we have sinned will forgive us, we will attain atonement and forgiveness for our sin.”

Friday, March 24, 2017

Suffering and Debt


Dovid HaMelech in Sefer Tehillim [Psalms 25:18] makes the following request of Hashem: “Look at my affliction and toil and bear all my sins.”

The seventh bracha of the Amidah, “Re’ah [Na] V’anyenu” ["Look… at our afflictions"] closely parallels this passage in Tehillim, and it is, in fact, the only bracha in the Amidah where we ask Hashem to “look” at something for us.

It is said in the name of the Apter Rav that if a person is suffering, he should affirmatively acknowledge and state “may my pain and suffering be a kapara [atonement] for all of my sins”. In this way, a person acknowledges that the purpose of his suffering or affliction is not meaningless or some kind of torture, but to achieve redirection and/or atonement. With this affirmative acknowledgement, the kapara is achieved.

"Gam zu le'tova" : this too is for the best

"Zol zein a kapara" : it should be accepted as a recompense for punishment.


Rebbe Nachman said : "There are sins whose punishment is debt. One who is punished for such a sin is constantly in debt. All the merit in the world does not erase his punishment. He can do every possible good, still he must remain in debt.

These sins can even cause others to fall into debt. When such transgressions become common, there are many debtors in the world.

The remedy for this is to repent in general for all your sins. Even though you do not know what sin is causing these debts, repent in general and ask G-d to also save you from this particular sin.

If the Torah were written in order, we would know the precise reward and punishment for each commandment."

[Rebbe Nachman]

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Korea: Rabbi Nachmani's Prophetic Words


This is a re-blog, for the readers who have not ever seen it, inspired by the latest post from Dov Bar Leib.

Rabbi Levi Saadia Nachmani zt''l, speaking in 1994 [about a month before he passed away], warning us about Korea's nukes.




Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Waiting for You


Artist Unknown

"For hundreds of years, perhaps since the beginning of Creation, a piece of the world has been waiting for your soul to purify and repair it.

And your soul, from the time it was first emanated and conceived, waited above to descend to this world and carry out that mission.

And your footsteps were guided to reach that place. And you are there now."

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman

Monday, March 20, 2017

Real Love






Real love is reciprocated: "As in water, face reflects face, so is the heart of man to man" [Proverbs 27:19]. Reflections in water are an apt metaphor for the reciprocity of feelings.

The Hebrew word for "water" - mayim - is a reflection of itself: it is the same read forwards or backwards.

Love is reciprocated, though, only if it as strong as the love of father for son, brother for brother, or husband for wife. Weak love might not be returned.

"Love your neighbour like yourself" - love him so strongly that he will naturally reciprocate with love like you have for him.

from the writings of the Ben Ish Chai

Friday, March 17, 2017

The First Tablets -v- The Second Tablets



There are a number of key differences between the first and second tablets:

The Tablets themselves: The first tablets were ''the work of God'' [Ki Tisa 32:16], whereas the second tablets God told Moshe to ''carve for yourself'' [34:1]

The writing:  The Talmud states that only the first tablets possessed the quality of ''God's writing'', which would have caused the words to be forever engraved in Israel's heart and never forgotten [Eruvan 54a and Rashi ibid]

The spiritual level of Israel: By the first tablets, the Jewish people were tzadikim [saintly], whereas by the second tablets they were ba'alei teshuvah [penitents].

The spiritual level of Moshe:  Moshe was given ''one thousand lights'' as a present when the Torah was given, but with the sin of the golden calf they were taken away.

The second tablets had the advantage that (a) they were given with ''halachot, midrash and aggadot'' and (b) Moshe's face shone with light when they were given.

Source: Lubavitcher Rebbe Hayom Yom 17 Tamuz

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Why We Cling To Tzadikim

Art: SRG


This is a re-blog from 2012, as once again we have had commenters who are confused about why we pray at the graves of tzadikim.


The Lubavitcher Rebbe would often answer requests by saying that he would pray for the person at the grave of his father-in-law, the previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak.

The following is extracted from "Not Just Stories" by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski MD
Published by Shaar Press

Every person has a direct line with G-d, and we are not permitted to pray to intermediaries. Indeed, the propriety of prayers where we appear to be asking for blessings from angels or for their intervention on our behalf, is the subject of debate, and must be interpreted in such a way that does not violate our basic belief that we relate only to G-d as the One from Whom everything emanates.

Yes, there is also the concept of faith in a tzaddik, which is derived from the verse in Exodus [14:31] "They had faith in G-d and in Moses, His servant". The sages derived from this verse that believing in the leader of Israel is equivalent to believing in the Creator [Mechilta]. In addition, the Talmud states that if there is a sick person in one's household, let him go to a chacham [a wise man] to pray for his recovery [Bava Basra 116a]. Inasmuch as everyone has a direct contact with G-d and we do not work through intermediaries, why is the prayer of a tzaddik more potent that one's own prayer?

There are several ways in which we can understand the concept of faith in a tzaddik. First and foremost is that the opinion of a wise man, a tzaddik, as a Torah authority, must be accepted and followed even if we are in disagreement with it [Sifri, Deut 17:11].

There is also a concept of receiving a blessing from a tzaddik and this has its basis in a statement from G-d to Abraham "And you will be a blessing" [Gen 12:2] which the Midrash interprets to mean that G-d gave Abraham the power to bless people, and that gift has been given to other tzaddikim as well. Nevertheless, a person must understand that even though the tzaddik conveys the blessing, the origin of the blessing is G-d.

A woman once came to Rabbi Mordechai of Chernobel, pleading for a blessing to have a child. To the amazement of the bystanders, the Rabbi, who was exceptionally kind and benevolent, said brusquely to her "I'm sorry, I cannot help you". The woman left the room tearful and broken hearted.

Noting the bewilderment of his chassidim, Rabbi Mordechai said "Just wait a few moments, then go find the woman and bring her back here." The chassidim did as they were told and when the woman came back, the Rabbi asked her "What did you do when you left here?"

The woman replied "I turned my eyes to Heaven and I said "Dear G-d, the Rabbi refuses to help me. Now You are my only hope. Bless me that I have a child."

Rabbi Mordechai said to the chassidim "This woman believed that I had magical powers, and she was trusting in me rather than in G-d. When I refused her request, she placed her trust in G-d where it belongs. She will now be blessed with a child."

The primary function of a tzaddik is to assist people in the proper service of G-d, to help them recognize their character defects and show them how to do teshuvah.

The power of a tzaddik is in his strong belief in G-d, and anyone who has that strong a belief can bring about similar results. When the tzaddik prays for a sick person, for example, and says that G-d is the healer of the sick, his belief is so strong that it actually brings down the Divine healing upon the person. In fact, said Rabbi Mordechai, the prime reason for having a relationship with a tzaddik is to learn how to perfect one's belief in G-d.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Reb Shaya'le's Awesome Power


Recently someone asked me how to get rid of ants.  I remembered a story I heard about a famous rabbi whose picture, when hung in the room, would rid the house of pests, notably mice but also other kinds of vermin.  Although I have not had a chance to test this myself, I am assured that it does work. [If you're going to try this, print out the photo below and perhaps laminate it, and put it in the room where the pests are bothering you] 

Reb Shaya'la of Kerestirer [1851- 1925] was a famous chasiddic Rebbe from Hungary in the early Twentieth century. [His yarzheit is on 3 Iyar] Many make the trip to his Kever and spend Shabbos at his house in northern Hungary. His picture is believed by many to be a segulah and a amulet of protection. Many stores have his picture to keep away mice. 

The Famous Mouse Story

Affectionately known as Reb Shaya'le [Rabbi Yeshaya Steiner of Kerestir], the Kerestirer Rebbe lived around the beginning of the 20th Century. He was a very pious man and extremely humble, always referring to himself in the diminutive [Shaya'le]. He was known as a "miraculous" person. His greatest pleasure was to host a very elaborate Melave Malka, the meal that follows Shabbos, on Saturday night. Often he would have his chassidim shecht fresh chickens for his meal.
Reb Yeshaya'le Kerestirer

One motzei Shabbos, while Reb Shaya'le was eating this special melave malka meal, a chossid came to him with an urgent request. He was a man who had a warehouse full of foodstuffs and he made his living by buying and selling food. For the past number of months, his warehouse had been taken over by mice who were eating his grain and other commodities and his entire livelihood was threatened. He asked Reb Shaya'le for a blessing that the mice should leave his warehouse. 

At that time, each small town in Europe was ruled by the local church pastor. Some of the pastors were kind towards the Jews and others were very harsh. Reb Shaya'le asked the chossid if the pastor of the town he lived in was kind or harsh. The chossid replied that he was very harsh toward the Jews. Reb Shaya'le then instructed the chossid to go to his warehouse and to tell the mice, "Reb Shaya'le says to go to the estate of the pastor." The chossid followed the Rebbe's advice and instantly hundreds of mice raced out of the warehouse all heading in the direction of the pastor's estate. 

The chossid's business was saved and ever since Jews who have been plagued with this problem have used Reb Shaya'le's picture to accomplish the ridding of mice from their homes.

Source: Jewish Gen

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

From Delight to Affliction



From the teachings of the Ben Ish Chai

Anyone who speaks lashon hara - afflictions come upon him. [Arachin 15b]

A lashon hara speaker changes the order of letters.  By causing a falling out between friends, he turns לשׁון - "tongue" into נשׁול - "fall".

By ruining a precious vessel - "the lips of knowledge are a precious vessel" [Proverbs 20:15] - he turns יקר "precious" into קרי - "impurity".

Measure for measure, ענג - oneg -"delight" will turn into נגע - nogah - "affliction" - and afflictions will come upon him.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Pink Before The Storm



''Red sky in the morning, shepherds' warning....''

This morning we had a stunning pink sky, the calm before the supercell storm, which is currently hitting eastern parts of Australia.



Friday, March 10, 2017

Why We Get Drunk on Purim



by Rabbi Chanan Morrison



Why did the Sages enjoin us to become inebriated on Purim?

Assimilation in Ancient Persia

The Talmud in Megillah 12a states that the near-annihilation of the Jews in the time of Ahasuerus was a punishment for participating in the royal banquet, where they prostrated themselves before Persian idols. What led them to this act of disloyalty?

The Jews of that time believed that the root cause of anti-Semitism was due to a xenophobic hatred of their distinct culture and religion. In fact, this was Haman’s explanation for seeking to destroy them:

“There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom. Their laws are different from those of every people; neither do they keep the king’s laws.” [Esther 3:8] In order to overcome this hatred, the Jews felt that it would be prudent to adopt the customs and ways of their idolatrous neighbors. They demonstrated their allegiance as loyal Persian subjects by attending the royal banquet and bowing down to the Persian idols.

To their consternation, the Jews soon discovered that their efforts were futile. They were shocked to learn of Haman’s plot to annihilate them, despite their best attempts at integrating into the local culture.

Accepting the Torah Again

With the realization that assimilation is not the answer, and that their only true protection is God’s providence, the Jews reaffirmed their commitment to keep the Torah and its mitzvot. This is the meaning of the verse, “They confirmed and accepted upon themselves” [Esther 9:27] - “they confirmed what they had accepted long before” at Mount Sinai [Shabbat 88a].

The Talmud teaches that their renewed commitment to Torah complemented and completed the original acceptance of Torah at Sinai. What was missing at Sinai? The dramatic revelation at Mount Sinai contained an element of coercion. Alone and helpless in the wilderness, the Israelites were hardly in a position to refuse. The Midrash portrays this limited free choice with God’s threat to bury them beneath the mountain had they refused to accept the Torah. In the time of Ahasuerus, however, they voluntarily accepted the Torah in a spirit of pure free will, thus completing the original acceptance of Torah at Sinai.

Effusion of Good Will

This appears to be the explanation for the unusual rabbinic requirement to become inebriated on Purim [Megillah 7b]. It is ordinarily forbidden to become drunk, since without the intellect to guide us, our uncontrolled desires may lead us to improper and unbecoming behavior.

But on Purim, the entire Jewish nation was blessed with an outpouring of good will to accept the Torah. On this special day, we find within ourselves a sincere yearning to embrace the Torah and its teachings. For this reason, we demonstrate on Purim that even when intoxicated we do not stray from the path of Torah, since we are naturally predisposed to goodness and closeness to God. Even in a drunken state, we are confident that we will not be shamed or humiliated by the exposure of our innermost desires. As we say in the Shoshanat Ya’akov prayer on Purim:

“To make known that all who place their hope in You will not be shamed, and all who take refuge in You will never be humiliated.” [Silver from the Land of Israel. Adapted from Olat Re’iyah vol. I, p. 441]

Achashverosh & Haman in Therapy: The Psychological Brilliance of Esther


Rabbi Y. Y. Jacobson

Summary: Henry Kissinger may have been the world’s most famous Jewish diplomat, but he certainly was not the first. The Purim Megillah, named for Queen Esther, paints a picture of a smart, resourceful, courageous woman of faith. But a close reading of the story, and a proper analysis of her actions in the story also reveal her to be a masterful tactician and diplomat that even Kissinger would be blown away by. The simple question is the purpose of Esther’s two banquets. What was the point of the first? And why wasn’t one enough? Why couldn’t she have asked what she needed the first time? These questions are answered in the Megillah by the change of a single word. According to the Maharil, the main Purim miracle took place when Achashverosh had trouble falling asleep, yet his insomnia seem to have had no really influence on the Purim story. What actually happened that night? Why could the king not fall asleep? The sermon examines the relationship between Joseph Stalin and the ruthless Lavrentiy Beria, and uses it as a parallel for that of Achashverosh and Haman. Understanding this relationship and an in-depth analysis of Achashverosh will help expose the brilliant maneuvering of Queen Esther and the purpose of her two banquets.


Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Mystical Teachings of Purim


I have so many Purim posts waiting to be published, I had to choose which one.... finally settled on Rabbi Anava for today.



Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Oscars, Superbowl, Elections & the Year of Purim

Art 'Surreal World' by Mohn-Blume


by Tzvi Freeman

“What’s the inner, deep, kabbalistic meaning of the mess-up at the Oscars this year?” asked David.

We were enjoying a Shabbat meal in Los Angeles. David is a friend who works in that world of big screen entertainment while living in a Torah-observant universe at the same time. So he’s constantly looking for deeper meanings.

As for me, I was looking to buy time so I could think. “What happened at the Oscars?” I asked.

“You know, the best picture of the year award!” he answered. “They announced the one that everyone expected, and then in the middle of all the acceptance speeches, someone came running onstage to announce that it was all wrong.”

“So which picture won?”

“Oh, a small-budget movie that bombed at the box office.”

I’m searching for kabbalistic meaning. Not coming up with much. I don’t quite traverse two worlds as David does. Couldn’t find Elijah the Prophet anywhere to help me, either.

So David went on.“It seems to be a pattern. Like this is the Year of Big Surprises.’’ “It seems to be a pattern. Like the Superbowl. What a comeback! People were walking out, switching off their sets—and then, boom! Everything turned around. Same with the federal elections. And the World Series! And Brexit, too. Well, that one started before Rosh Hashanah. But it still seems like this is the Year of Big Surprises.”

He was looking at me, as though I had an explanation.

“Sounds a lot like Purim,” I said. Hey, I had to say something. “Back in Persia it looked for sure that one side was gonna be the winner. And then—boom—everything was turned upside-down.”

“Yes!” exclaimed David. “It’s a Purim year!”

Now was my chance to sound like I really had an answer. “In the Purim story,” I continued, “after the big turnaround, everything had an explanation. 20/20 hindsight. But in foresight, totally the opposite.”

“Right!” said David. “That’s just what’s been happening this year, again and again!”

“So maybe,” I continued, “that’s the way Moshiach is going to arrive.”

David got it right away. “You mean nobody will expect it. Everyone will see the world going in the opposite direction. And then—boom—everything will turn around. And we’ll see in hindsight how everything was really going that way all along. Despite disaster after disaster, everything in the world was really moving towards its perfection.”

“As long as it happens real soon,” I answered.

“I’ll make l’chaim to that!”“L’chaim to the biggest turnaround in history that will make sense only in retrospect!” said David. “L’chaim to the biggest turnaround in history that will make sense only in retrospect!”

“L’chaim!”

I looked to the door. Elijah could enter any minute.

Source: Chabad

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Clothes Have No Emperor

Art: Vladimir Kush

by: Rabbi Yosef Y. Jacobson

Death of a queen

The opening chapter of the Purim Meggilah is strikingly enigmatic.

Here is the story in brief: The Emperor of Persia, Achashverosh, throws a party in his capital city, Shushan, to celebrate the firm establishment of his kingship. On the seventh day of the feast, "when the heart of the king was merry with wine," he orders seven of his chamberlains to bring Queen Vashti before him, "to show off her beauty."

Vashti refuses to appear. The king becomes furious and he has her executed.

Why did Vashti refuse to appear before the guests? The Talmud explains [1], that when Achashverosh offered to show them his wife's beauty, the guests insisted that she appear without any clothes. Vashti, a wicked queen who found special glee in torturing and violating Jewish girls and women on the Sabbath day, was punished with leprosy on her skin. Under such conditions she naturally refused to expose her body.

But if so, why did Vashti not send a private message to her husband explaining that it would be humiliating for her and him if she were to expose herself before the guests. Though the king was intoxicated, it is hard to imagine that he would bestow a death sentence on a wife who has just spared him tremendous shame [2]!

Also, why does this story occupy the entire first chapter of the Megillah? Though it is a prelude to understanding how Esther, the hero of the Purim story, became the queen of Achashverosh, nonetheless, the detailed description of the event that brought about Vashti's execution seems superfluous in the story of Purim.

The power of evil

In the Kabbalah, where all biblical figures and episodes are depicted as parables for metaphysical realities, Achashverosh, the mighty monarch of a world power, serves as a parable for the King of Kings, the Creator of the universe [3]. Vashti, the wicked queen of Persia, symbolizes the reign of evil in the world [4].

Naked evil has no appeal or power to attract. In order for evil to gain popularity among the masses, it must be "packaged" well; it must be "dressed" in nice garments that will cover up its true identity.

The two evil monsters of the last generation, Hitler and Stalin, presented their colossal murderous strategies as moral and noble programs dedicated to healing the world of its diseases. This was true throughout history. The inventors and implementers of bloodshed and violence usually presented their schemes as ethical and humane endeavors.

This is valid concerning the evil we perpetrate in our personal lives as well. We embrace many of the destructive and immoral temptations we feel in our heart only because they package themselves outstandingly well. The glittering veneer of comfort and happiness that these temptations display lure us into their trap. If every unhealthy craving we experience presented itself without any masks, we would immediately cast it away.

Thus, the Kabbalah teaches [5] that man's daily challenge in life consists of choosing substance over packaging, inherent value over good PR. When one feels an urge to eat something, to engage in a certain intimate act or to say something, he or she ought to reflect whether this is an inherently healthy and moral thing to do, or is indeed hollow and empty, merely exhibiting itself as promising and enjoyable.

The hallmark of a spiritual life is one that always seeks to be in tune with the true essence of things, and not merely with their external appearance.

Removing the masks

This is how Jewish mysticism understands the symbolism behind the opening story of the Meggilah: Vashti, symbolizing the power of evil, can only retain her power and glory if she is garbed in garments that conceal her real identity. If Vashti removes all her masks, she instantaneously loses all of her appeal and charm.

Therefore, when the King of Kings insists that Vashti appear at His feast in her bareness, she must refuse Him. Because the "clothes" of evil have no "emperor" within them.

This brought about the end of the Vashtinian rule. When evil is called on its nakedness, its nothingness is exposed and its power lost [6].

Footnotes

1. Megillah 12b.
2. The Talmud (ibid. Quoted in Rashi to Esther 1:12) explains, that Vashti sent her husband humiliating messages, thus kindling his wrath to an extreme. What follows is the mystical interpretation of the story, as it is presented in the writings of Chassidism.
3. Midrash quoted in Meoray Or 1:182. Cf. Rikanti to Genesis 29:10, quoted in Mechir Yayin to Esther 1, 12:13. Erkay Hakenuyim under the entry of Achashverosh.
4. See Or Hameir Megiilas Esther. Likkutei Levi Yitzchak Megillas Esther p. 79. Toras Levi Yitzchak p. 17.
5. See Tanya chapter 16.
6. See Tanya chapter 29.

The nucleus of this explanation was presented by the Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760, founder of the Chassidic movement). It is quoted in his name by Rabbi Zee'v Wolf of Zhitamir (a disciple of the Maggid of Mezrich, heir to the Baal Shem Tov) in his Chassidic work Or Hameir on the Meggilah. Reference to it is made in Or Hatorah (by Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch, the Tzemach Tzedek, 1789-1876) Megilas Esther p. 72.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Seventh of Adar



"And you will command the Children of Israel" [Tetzaveh 27:20]

The Vilna Gaon asks why the verse begins with Hashem instructing Moshe "And you will command..." without first stating the standard opening "Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying..."

The answer, said the Gaon, is as follows:

The day of Moshe Rabbeinu's passing [and day of his birth] was the seventh of Adar. In most years, this day falls out during the week in which Parshas Tetzaveh is read. Now, in the entire Parshas Tetzaveh, Moshe's name is not mentioned, even once. This alludes to the fact that Moshe's demise took place during this week.

However, continued the Gaon, even though Moshe's name is not mentioned explicitly in Tetzaveh, it is nevertheless there in a hint:

There are 101 verses in the Parsha. If the letters that comprise the name "Moshe" - משׁה -are spelled out in their entirety, we would have the following:

מ the letters comprising Mem are מ מ -

שׁ the letters comprising Shin are שׁ י ן -

ה the letters compring Hey are ה א -

Total numerical value: 446

If we add up the numerical value of all these letters, and then subtract the numerical value of משׁה [Moshe: 345] - we will be left with the number 101 - the exact number of verses in the parsha.

Source: Rabbi Y. Bronstein