Thursday, December 31, 2020
Thursday, December 24, 2020
Friday, December 4, 2020
Friday, November 27, 2020
On Friday night, upon returning home from the synagogue, we say or sing Shalom Aleichem. We say it to the angels who accompany us on the way home from synagogue. The order of the hymn is...
Shalom Aleichem - peace on to you.
Boachem lishalom - come in peace.
Borchuni lishalom - bless me with peace.
Tzeitchem lishalom - go in peace.
1) If the second stanza, "come in peace," is talking to the Shabbat angels. Who is the first stanza referring to, when it says, "peace on to you?"
Answer: During the week, we have angels as well, and on Friday night there is a changing of the guards. The weekday angels depart, and we bid them, "peace on to you." And the Shabbat angels that remain with us, we welcome with, "come in peace."
This is similar to the story of Yaakov's (Jacob's) ladder, there were angels going up and down the Ladder. If the angels come from the heavens, shouldn't it say that they were going down and up? Rashi explains that there was a changing of the guards, the angels from the Holy Land that were escorting Yaakov, they can't go out of the Holy Land, therefore they were going up the ladder, up to heaven and the angels of outside the Holy Land were coming down the ladder to accompany him the rest of the way.
Shabbat is a holy place in time and those angels are designated and accompany us only on Shabbat.
2) In the final stanza, we send the angels away, "go in peace." Why do we send them away?
Answer: The Friday night meal is private time between Hashem and the Jewish people, like the intimate time between a husband and wife, Hashem is the husband and the Jewish people are the wife. Being that it is private between us and Hashem, we send the angels away.
Kabbalistic teaching teaches all about this private moment, and how the angels want to see it, because it is a level of holiness that they are never privy to.
To explain. We have a Neshama that is truly a part of Hashem, not the part of Him that is in the world, not even in the spiritual realms, but the essence of Hashem. On Shabbat His essence comes into the world, and spends time with us. On Shabbat we are given an extra Neshama, but it's not really an extra Neshama, but more Neshama the essence of our Neshama is revealed, the part that is one with Hashem's essence. And this is what happens on Shabbat, the essence of our Neshamas, and Hashem's essence are seen for what they are, truly one, and the angels are just aching to see that, but it is private, so we send them away.
As with any special time between a husband and a wife, the more thought and preparation you put into it, the more meaningful it will be. Now we can understand why preparing for Shabbat is so important, and why we dress in our finest and have a candle light dinner with the most delicious foods.
This is also one of the reasons we chant Eishet Chayil, A Woman of Valor - aside for singing it to our wonderful wives - because on one level, it refers to the "wife," the Jewish people.
Shabbat is a taste of the time of Mashiach, which is called, "The day that is totally Shabbat." May he come already.
Thursday, November 19, 2020
I'm working on a series that gives you tidbits of Torah. I am working on an article on Yaakov, but it is not ready yet. Please enjoy this article on Time and Other Tidbits.
Time and Other Tidbits
1. Is G-d spiritual or physical?
Neither. G-d created both the spiritual and the physical, as it says, "In the beginning G-d created the heavens and the earth." Genesis 1:1.
2. The sun is not what makes days, rather it what lets us know when it's day, as there were three days of creation before the celestial bodies were created, they were created on the fourth day. Days existed before the sun.
What marked evening and morning on the first three days? (Avi Haberfeld)
In the spiritual realms, there are 24 shifts of angels, each one praises Hashem a different hour. There are 12 that are for the 12 configurations you can make out of the 4 letters of the name Adnai (pronounced Ado-nai, in Hebrew it has 4 letters), and 12 that are for the 12 configurations you can make out of the 4 letters of the name Havaya (the Tetragrammaton, the 4 letter name of Hashem that we don't pronounce, made up of the Hebrew letters yud, hay, vov and hay). One of the 12 configurations represents evening, and the other morning.
It is interesting to note, that long before the clock was invented, the Jewish people divided their day into 24 hours, 12 for evening and 12 for morning. Of course depending on the time of year, the evening hours get longer in the winter and shorter in the summer, and the opposite for morning hours. This is the way we calculate halachic times. The spiritual reason for this is the 24 shifts of the angels.
If you remember the Torah story, where Jacob was wrestling with the angel, he asked Jacob to allow him to go. Why did he want to go? Because it was his shift to praise Hashem.
So Hashem set the sun to the same schedule as he did the angels.
According to the Ohr Hachaim, everything was created on the first day, and the angels were created on the second day so that no one would say that the angels had a part in the creation. How did the 24 hours work before the angels had their shifts?
The system of 24 hours, 12 evening and 12 morning, could have begun on the first day before the angels were created, and after they were created, they were put on that schedule. In other words, there was already a system of evening and morning in the spiritual realms. And even though everything was created on the first day, the sun and the other celestial bodies didn't go into effect until the fourth day.
3. What was the first thing to against G-d's will?
It was the earth. On the third day of creation, G-d said, " let the earth sprout... Fruity trees bearing fruit..." Genesis 1:11. But when the earth brought forth trees, it says, " The earth gave forth... Trees bearing fruit..." Genesis 1:12. The wood of the trees were also supposed to taste like fruit, but the earth went against G-d's will and didn't make the actual trees fruity. Later, the first man, Adam, was created from the earth and that is where humanity got the nature to go against Hashem's will.
I hope you enjoy these Torah tidbits, next week I will start a series explaining the Shabbat dinner and the symbolism it holds.
Friday, November 6, 2020
Our forefather Yitzchak was born when Avraham was 100 years old, and Sarah was 90. Yitzchak was the first to have a bris at eight days old. When Yitzchak was going to be weaned, Avraham made a big party, being that Avraham was so famous, many important people came to the event.
To prove that he was their son, Hashem did two things. First, He made Yitzchak look exactly like his father Avraham. Second, He gave Sarah the ability to nurse Yitzchak, while the other women that attended the party lost their ability to nurse their babies, and Sarah nursed them as well. This was a clear indication that Yitzchak was in fact their child, and it was not a hoax.
How old was Yitzchak at the Akeida (the binding of Yitzchak on the altar as a sacrifice)?
Many picture a young boy, but in fact he was 37 years old. How do we know this? Because when Sarah heard that Avraham was sacrificing Yitzchak, it was too much for her to bear, and she passed away. She died at the age of 127, and Yitzchak was born when she was 90. 127 - 90 = 37, he was 37 years old. This means that he was in fact a willing participant.
This was the ultimate test for Avraham. Everything was hanging on this one child, everything that Avraham worked for, everything was going to continue, because of Yitzchak, it would be passed down through him. The Jewish people would come to be because of Yitzchak, and now Hashem was asking him to do the unthinkable, to do what goes against every fiber of his being, to sacrifice his beloved son.
He went to do what Hashem asked of him and Yitzchak knowing that it was from Hashem, went along.
To make sure that Avraham wasn't doing it out of a moment of passion, Hashem made it take him three days to get there, which gave him enough time to think about what he was going to do.
After three days he saw the location, Mount Moriah, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. At that time, it was called Salem (Shalem) named so by Shem son of Noah, AKA Malkitzedek (righteous king) king of Shalem. After the Akeida when Hashem showed Avraham a ram to offer instead of Yitzchak, Avraham named the place Hashem Yireh (Jereh), a prayer meaning, "Hashem should see" to it that this place will become the place of the Temple. When you put both names together, you get Yerushalem, Jerusalem. We call it Yrrushalayim. Another meaning of Yerushalem, Shalom is one of the names of Hashem, it is a name that we are allowed to say, and yirah means fear, together they make, "fear of Hashem," that we should be G-d fearing.
In the end Yitzchak was not killed and we, his children, the Jewish people are here to continue the work of Avraham and Yitzchak in the world.
What is that work? To transform this physical world into a home for Hashem, a place where He will feel at home.
How do we do it? Through the study of Torah we transform the air and atmosphere around us and through the performance of mitzvos which are mostly done with our physical body, we transform our bodies, the object that we are doing the mitzvah with and the place where you are doing the mitzvah.
The preparation you do for a mitzvah also transforms the world into a home for Hashem. The money, work, effort and toil. The objects and the place you use in the preparation for a mitzvah also transform this world into a home for Hashem.
Even more. Everyday mundane activities could transform. For example, If you work to support your family to bring them up in the Torah way, if you shop and cook meals to feed your family to bring them up in the way of Torah or if you eat, sleep, exercise and even vacation in order to maintain a healthy body to be able to serve Hashem, the activity and all that is connected to it is transformed, and they also become holy endeavors. This way your whole life can be meaningful and impactful.
And when our work is done transforming this world into a home for Hashem, Moshiach will come. In fact that is the definition of Moshiach, when Hashem will fill the whole world openly. May it happen soon.
Thursday, October 29, 2020
this year I would like to do something different. I am going to write interesting tidbits on the parsha of the week. This week, I will be sending out three blog posts, because I missed Bereishis and Noah, and I want them to be in order.
Avraham was born 300 years after the flood, he was the 10th generation from Noah. Noah lived 350 years after the flood, so it is certain that Avraham saw him. He actually studied at his yeshiva (Torah Academy), later known as the yeshiva of Shem and Ever, the son and great grandson of Noah.
When Avraham was born, it was a time of Idol worship. The city he was born in, was ruled by Nimrod, the ruler of most of civilization. Nimrod was the first ruler of people after the flood, he was a very powerful leader and he was black. Idol worship was a way of controlling the minds of the people, only free thinkers believed in Hashem and they were scoffed at and persecuted. Nimrod saw believers of Hashem as a threat to his power and he would deal with them harshly.
Avraham's father was Terach, an important man, and he had an Idol business.
When Avraham was born, Nimrod's astrologers advised him to have the baby killed, because he was going to be a threat to his rule. Terach switched another baby in place of Avraham and his mother hid him in a cave.
When Avraham was 3 years old, he recognized that Idol worship was silly, and he went on a search for G-d and came to the conclusion that He couldn't be anything in the world, He had to be greater than the world.
When he got older, he went to study in the yeshiva of Noah, Shem and Ever. When he was forty he returned to Babel and started to teach about Hashem. He was treading a dangerous path. Everything came to a head with one story.
Avraham's father, Terach, asked him to watch his business, the Idols. When his father left, he took an ax and smashed all the Idols except for the largest one and he placed the ax in the largest one's hand. When his father returned, he asked Avraham, "what happened?" Avraham told him that he brought some food for the Idols and they started to fight over the food. The big one took the ax, smashed all of the other Idols and took the food for himself.
His father was fuming, "You know that Idols can't do anything, you did this." Avraham replied, "if Idols can't do anything, why do you serve them?" It was a clear demonstration of the fallacy of Idol worship. Word spread quickly and Nimrod had Avraham thrown into a blazing furnace. Hashem made a miracle and the inside of the furnace turned into a garden for him. When he was taken out of the furnace, his brother Haran proclaimed his belief in Hashem, and Nimrod had Haran thrown into the furnace, and he burned to death.
Haran had two daughters Milka and Yiska. Avraham married Yiska, who was also called Sarai, and Hashem later changed her name to Sarah.
Sarah or Sarai, means a minister, Yiska, or in English, Jessica, comes from the word nesicha, which means a princess. Sarah was extremely beautiful, graceful and dignified, like a minister and a princess. (interesting to note that Sarah Jessica is a common name)
She kept the laws of purity, mikva, and because of that, there was always a cloud of Hashem's presence hovering above her tent. She kept the mitzvah of challah, and her bread was blessed because of it. Only a little bit of it filled you up and satisfied you (like lembas). And she kept the mitzvah of lighting Shabbat candles and a miracle would occur, they would continue to burn all week, until it was time to light them again.
These Mitzvos are really special to Jewish women, who are all daughters of Sarah, our mother.