Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Holiness Flew Away


by Rabbi David Hanania Pinto Shlita

"He shattered them at the foot of the mountain" [Ki Tisa 32:19]

Rabbi Avraham Chizkuni in his sefer 'Shtei Yadot', explains how Moshe could break the Luchot, even though one is forbidden to break vessels out of anger. He quotes the Maharsha in his commentary on Masechet Shabbat (105b), who says that there is no prohibition to tear something insignificant and not substantial. 

The Yerushalmi in Masechet Shekalim brings that when Am Yisrael made the Golden Calf, the letters flew from the Luchot. It follows then that when Moshe broke the Luchot they were already considered as 'insignificant' and not a substantial object, so there was no prohibition of shattering them in his anger.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Not Accountable

Someone close to someone close to me committed suicide last week.  I was searching on the internet for something sensible to say to one of the relatives, and to be honest, I couldn't find much there that felt right.

Until I read this:

Jewish law forbids the taking of one’s own life. It is considered a grave sin. And yet, in most cases of suicide, the law assumes a suicide victim to have been severely ill, to the point that he or she cannot be held accountable. The understanding is that if these people were healthy, if they were cognizant of the gravity of what taking their lives would mean, they would never have willingly chosen to carry out the horrific act. In cases of impaired mental health, a suicide victim is exactly that. A victim. A victim of a terrible, horrible, devastating illness that needs to be addressed head-on, without embarrassment or reprisals or stigma.  Source

That is why a ''suicide'' is always given the benefit of the doubt and permitted to be buried in a Jewish cemetary, and not on the outskirts of the cemetery.  We do not know the state of mind of the suicide, even if we may think we do.  We always say that the person was ''out of their mind''.

I think this is a very comforting thing to think, whether or not it is true, that is something we will never know.  But most of the time, it probably is true.

Friday, February 26, 2021

The Purim Codes

I used to blog this every year on Purim, here it is again after a few missing years, for those who have never seen it. It never gets old.  
Chag sameach !

[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: "PURIM FEST 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.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

A Mysterious Guest's Purim Secret

Rav Chaim Volozhin's Purim Secret From A Mysterious Guest

One Purim an old man appeared at Rav Chaim Volozhin's Purim seuda. Rav Chaim gave him a coin for tzedaka. The old man then said that if he gives him another coin, he will tell him a Chiddush in the Megila. Rav Chaim agreed and the old man asked a question.

The Medrash says that after the gezeira of Haman, Moshe Rabbeinu told Eliyahu HaNavi to go tell Mordechai to daven on earth while they will daven in Shamayim. Eliyahu told Moshe that he already saw that the gezeira was signed and sealed in Shamayim so there was no chance of salvation. Moshe asked, was the seal made out of earth or blood. Eliyahu said it was out of earth. In that case said Moshe Rabbeinu there is still hope.

Where, asked the old man, do we see in the Megila that the seal was not from blood? Rav Chaim didn't answer and the old man continued. The Megila says that Haman plotted to destroy the Yehudim, "U'Liabdam". If you break the word U'Liabdam into two words it says "V'Lo B'Dam", the decree was not sealed in blood.

Rav Chaim was so excited about this answer that when he went to visit his Rebbi the Vilna Gaon, he repeated it to him. The Vilna Gaon also became emotional upon hearing this and told Rav Chaim that the "old man" was none other than the old man who revealed this secret over 2,000 years ago during the story of Purim. It was Eliyahu HaNavi himself.

Women's Tehillim United Teleconference


Wednesday, February 24, 2021

New Shiur: The Essence of Purim

 Audio from Rabbi Shimon Kessin - shiur given Feb 21, 2021

Powerful Prayer Day

Many classic sources tell us that Purim represents a special opportunity for one’s prayers to be answered.

The Sefer Kav HaYosher says the following: Taanis Esther is a day that is very auspicious for one’s prayers to be answered in the merit of Mordechai and Esther. Whoever needs mercy for any particular needs should put aside time for themselves and do the following: First, recite Chapter 22 in Tehilim. Then, pour out your heart to Hashem and ask for all your needs and mention the merit of Mordechai and Esther [whose merits saved us from Haman]. The Gates of Mercy will be opened and your prayers will be accepted beratzon. 
More segulot for Purim at Zchus Avos

The Ritv”a in his commentary to Megillah 7a quotes the Talmud Yerushalmi which explains regarding the fulfillment of the obligation to give matanos la’evyonim [gifts to the poor] on Purim, that kol ha’posheit yado leetol yitnu lo - we give to anyone who extends his hand to receive”. This is to say that on this festive day we give money to everyone who asks, without first checking to see if they truly are poor and worthy of receiving tzedakah funds. The Chasam Sofer writes that just as we are not particular if the people to whom we give charity on Purim are truly deserving, and whoever extends his hand gets helped, so, too, does G-d listen to all our prayers on this special day, and kol ha’posheit yado leetol yitnu lo – He gives to anyone who extends his hand to receive.

Also see: Purim's Golden Opportunity

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The Cosmic Symphony

 Rabbi Y. Y. Jacobson: a one minute video

The Year of the Threes

We are in the year of 3's.  It is 3,333 years since the Torah was given to the Jewish people in the year 2,448  and Purim this  year [15 Adar] falls on Shabbat which means it is a three day festival... click here to understand why.  

According to Rabbi Berland, this year is the year of Redemption.  I mention this because Rabbi Berland spoke about it many years ago, and Rabbi Glazerson now has a Torah Codes video reminding people of what he said.

You can view the video here.

The Rav Berland site is down for maintenance but a cached version can be viewed here to see exactly what he said back in 5775.

Also, we have seen a great deal of snow this year... America, Israel just to mention two countries and the gematria of snow - שֶׁלֶג -is 333.

Monday, February 22, 2021

The Torah is Light

''To light up the lamp continuously'' [Tetzaveh 27:20]

The Ner Tamid  [perpetual candle] which the Kohen Gadol kindled in the Beis HaMikdash symbolized the Torah, as the verse states: ''The Torah is light'' [Mishlei 6:23]

In the same way that the Ner Tamid was never extinguished, and its light was a constant source of illumination, so too, the radiance of the Torah will always shine upon the world and its inhabitants.

Each and every individual is commanded to fulfill the precept of ''You should contemplate it day and night'' [Yehoshua 1:8].  By upholding this commandment we ensure that the Torah's light continuously shines and illuminates the world.

The Vilna Gaon's diligence in Torah study was legendary. His days were spent in his room, delving into the depths of the Torah with every ounce of strength that he possessed.

On one occasion, the Gaon's sister arrived from a distant land in order to pay him a visit.  This was by no means a minor event, as the two had not seen each other for some fifty years !

The Gaon went out to greet his sister and, as the halachah dictates, recited the blessing that is said upon seeing an acquaintance that one has not seen for a long time - ''Blessed are You, Hashem... Who resuscitates the dead.''

After concluding the blessing, the Gaon said to his sister: ''My dear sister. I know that we have not seen one another for quite some time. However, when I leave this world and am called before the Heavenly Tribune, I will be asked to give an accounting for every single second of my life.  Each moment of time will be scrutinized and judged on whether or not it was utilized studying Torah and performing Hashem's mitzvos.  How, then, can I waste away the precious time that I have been allotted, by engaging in trivial conversations?''

''I therefore beg your forgiveness, but I must return to my room and resume my Torah study.''

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

Sunday, February 21, 2021