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?? QUIZ TIME?? Answers can be found on back page. 1. What was the wording that the meraglim used that caused the Jews to despair?
AHThe Height of Eretz Yisrael
Rabbi Yaakov HamerFinchley Central Federation/Shaarei Orah
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There are several pesukim which seem to indicate that Eretz Yisrael is geographically the highest land on earth. In a number of places, the Torah uses the expression aliyah to ascend, in reference to journeying to the land of Israel. For instance, in the beginning of this weeks sidrah, when instructing the spies to go and see the Land, Moshe Rabbeinu says, Alu zeh banegev valisem es hahar - go up this way by the south and go up into the high land.
We are also told that the Beis Hamikdash is the highest place within Eretz Yisrael. When describing the Beis Hamikdash, the passuk says, Vekamta, vealisa el hamakom asher ivchar Hashem Elokecha - and you will get up and go up to the place which Hashem has chosen. The Sages comment on these words and say that from the word vealisa - and you will go up, we see that the Temple is higher than all other places.
So too, we find that when leaving Eretz Yisrael, the word yeridah - to descend, is used. Vayered Avram Mitzraymah - and Avram descended to Egypt. We see that that vis--vis other lands, going to Eretz Yisrael is considered ascending and leaving it is considered descending.
The Chasam Sofer [Yoreh Deah 234 sv vhenei] is troubled by this teaching and points out that anyone with a basic knowledge of geography knows that this statement is difficult to understand at face value. There are certainly other lands which are much higher than Eretz Yisrael!
He explains that what the Sages and ultimately what the passuk is teaching us is that as the world is a globe, the highest point is very much a subjective idea. It depends what you consider to be the top of the world! Of course, there are locations and landmarks which are well above or below sea level, but when Chazal tell us that Eretz Yisrael is the highest of all of the lands, this is referring to its spiritual height and potential as opposed to its physical elevation.
Rav Yaakov Galinsky makes the following observation. The passuk in Parashas Vayiggash [45:9] says, Quickly go up to my father and say to him, so says your son, Yosef, Hashem has placed me as a master over all of Egypt. Descend to me. Do not wait. Even though Rashi has had numerous opportunities up until this point to comment on the usage of the words aliyah and yeridah in reference to ascending or descending to and from Eretz Yisrael, only now does he mention for the very first time, Eretz Yisrael is higher than the other lands. Rashi has had at least seven opportunities to teach us this, yet for some reason he waited until this passuk to do so. Why?
Rav Yaakov explains, in all the other cases, either Hashem or a tzaddik was speaking. Its obvious that they realise the spiritual greatness of Eretz Yisrael and the corresponding lack of stature of other lands. Here, however, Yosef is speaking. He has been in Egypt for a considerable period of time. Perhaps his appreciation of his homeland has changed. Perhaps he now feels that Egypt is the highest place on earth. Therefore, Rashi specifically comments here that notwithstanding the very difficult surroundings and the extended period of time, Yosef remained steadfast in his perception and appreciation that Eretz Yisrael is the highest place on earth.
May we merit to see the realisation of the passuk "Vealu moshiim beHar Tzion - and the liberators will ascend Mount Zion, speedily in our days.
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?? QUIZ TIME?? Answers can be found on back page. 2. What strategy when dealing with the Yetzer Hara do we learn from Yehoshua and Calev?
S P O N S O R E D
FAYizkor, Kaddish and The Suffering Jew
Rabbi Benyomin Yosef Insel ZLAteret Yerushalayim
On Death and Dying
It has been said that the Jewish people appear to be obsessed with death, dying and bereavement and that we are continuously focussed on these subjects by harping on about matters such as the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, the Holocaust and the observance of a seven day mourning period after the death of a family member, Rl. In the contemporary calendar we find Tisha BAv and the other fasts connected with the destruction of the Temple, as well as Holocaust Memorial Day and Yom HaZikaron. Even when we are rejoicing on yomtov, we still recite Yizkor, to remember deceased relatives.
However, a closer look at all of these days will show that the Jewish people are not obsessed with death and dying, but rather that we have a strong sense of the necessity of remembrance: remembrance of those who have been lost, remembrance of cities, towns, shuls and kehillos which have been lost. The difference is a very narrow one, but remembrance and death are quite distinct.
The word zikaron remembrance is synonymous with Jewish loss and mourning. When we evoke the memory of a departed loved one, we, in reality, recall all the greatness, joy filled moments and life lessons which we identify with that person. This is a far greater thing than simply obsessing over their death. Instead we are choosing to improve our own lives by carrying with us the lessons and memories that we gained from them. The entire concept of remembrance of those who have passed on is, in effect, the way in which we show our reverence to our ancestry. We hope to be able to extract positive life lessons which enable us to improve the quality of our own lives.
When we recite Yizkor, we call upon Hashem to remember the souls of the departed. Obviously He does not require us to remind Him of their souls. What we are actually doing is attempting to recall their memory in the hope that all their positive accomplishments, good deeds, kindness and the impact they had in improving the world while they were
in it, should be recalled as a merit for their souls. It would seem, however, that there might be no need for us to recall their deeds or even their memory. After all, their deeds and memory exist even without our recital of Yizkor. So why do we say it and what purpose does it serve?
In effect, Yizkor is for those who are reciting the prayer, as much as for the benefit of the departed souls themselves. When we evoke the memory of a loved one, it is our obligation and duty to recall everything that person stood for and who they were. We view our predecessors as having been one generation close to receiving the Torah. We learn from Chazal that the righteous, even after their death, are considered alive as long as their teachings remain with us and we recall their memory. They may not be here in person, but they definitely exist in spirit.
I would like to suggest that this concept is not just reserved for the righteous, but is valid for all the righteous deeds which any person performed. Anyone lives on, as long as we remember their positive accomplishments.
Returning to the original question why do we as a nation place such emphasis on recalling our communal and personal tragedies?
There is a Midrash, quoted in the name of Reb Yossi ( " ' and in " ) that misnachmim al hamesim vein misnachmim al hachaim we can be comforted regarding those who are dead, but not regarding those who are still alive. This seems rather obvious why would we need to be comforted over someone who is still alive?
The answer is that as long as there is still a remnant of someones memory extant, there will never be a complete consolation. We will never feel complete solace over the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, nor over any other tragedy in Jewish history, as long as we can evoke their memory. This is the purpose of Yizkor and this is the reason why we are regarded as being obsessed with death and past events.
The moment that we feel a complete sense of consolation over the departed, then they are indeed dead.
However, as long as we can remember what once was and learn from it, then our loved ones and previous generations will live on and are never truly dead in spirit. Yizkor allows the tremendous power of remembrance to permeate our lives with the lessons of those who are no longer with us, so that indeed the righteous are still alive, long after they have passed away.
?? QUIZ TIME?? Answers can be found on back page. 3. Why did Moshe only change Yehoshuas name and daven for him and not to save one or more of the other meraglim?
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The Relationship Between The Torah Shebiksav And Torah Shebaal Peh
Rabbi Chaim Zundel PearlmanMachzikei Hadath Federation Synagogue & Rosh Beit Midrash Hendon
RABBEINU OVADIAH SEFORNOS1 COMMENTARY ON CHUMASH
One of the major themes recurrent in the Sefornos2 commentary on the chumash, and referred to in his introduction to it, Kavonos Hatorah3, is how the conduct of mankind, and Bnei Yisroel in particular, affected the relationship between th