“This is the law of tzar’at”

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“This is the law of tzar’at”
(Leviticus 14:57)
Iyar 4, 5781/April 16, 2021
This week’s double Torah reading of Tazria-Metzora deals exclusively with the subject of ritual purity and impurity, a very difficult concept for our modern minds to fully comprehend.
To make things even more obscure, following the opening verses concerning the birth of a baby boy or girl, the mother’s subsequent period of purification, concluding with the bringing of an offering to the Holy Temple, parashat Tazria-Metzora focuses exclusively on the even more obscure issue of tzar’at, a particular type of ritual impurity caused by the appearance of lesions upon one’s flesh, discoloration in one’s garments or a mold-like discoloration of the stones of one’s house.
What are we to make of this? That tzar’at, often mistranslated as leprosy, was a psychosomatic, or spiritual-somatic ailment is made clear by Torah’s assigning of the kohanim (Temple priests) to both diagnose and prescribe the ritual cure for the outbreak of the malady.
The cure involved immersion in pure waters and the bringing of an offering once the symptoms had disappeared and the the individual reentered into a state of purity.
Similar, but somewhat more extensive means were applied concerning a person whose garments or house became afflicted with tzar’at.
While certain aspects concerning ritual purity are still relevant to a modern Jewish lifestyle, the vast majority of the commandments concerning ritual purity are no longer applicable, by virtue of the fact that the Holy Temple is currently not standing.
Naturally, being deprived of the actual application of these laws of purity for two thousand years has made them much more foreign to our modern sensibilities, much more difficult to grasp intellectually. What does Torah intend by the terms tahara (purity) and tum’a (impurity)?
Note that Torah doesn’t employ an equivalent of our modern qualifier “ritual” in discussing purity. The modern use of the word ritual in this context is merely an admission of a lack of true understanding.
In the Torah mindset tahara and tum’a are two very real realities unto themselves.
To put it simply, to be tahor, (in a state of tahara) is to be connected to the life giving force of the Creator. To be ta’mei, (in a state of tum’a) is to be disconnected from G-d’s life giving energy.
The Holy Temple is the place on earth of the highest level of purity.
It is there where G-d’s Presence, known as Shechinah, is greatest on earth. This is why we cannot enter into the inner Temple courtyards unless we have been sprinkled by the waters of the ashes of the red heifer, which render us pure of any impurity contracted through contact with death.
Clearly, we aspire to be pure, to be connected to HaShem, and as close to His Presence as possible.
When the woman with whom parashat Tazria-Metzora opens, gives birth, she is rendered impure, due to the fact that her body has been temporarily rendered unable to produce new life, thus creating a temporary disconnect from G-d’s life giving force.
The new mother’s impurity is not a negative reflection of her, neither morally nor spiritually, G-d forbid, but a physiological reality into which she has temporarily entered. Her subsequent period of waiting the prescribed amount of days and immersing in the pure waters of a mikvah, returns her to her former state of purity.
Our natural state is to be connected to G-d’s life generating energy and therefore pure.
Impurity is a temporary disconnect from this reality that can be readily rectified via the Torah prescribed remedies discussed above.
As for the mysterious tzar’at, a phenomenon which seems to have passed from the world many thousands of years ago, what was it all about?
Identifiable by physical symptoms, it nevertheless was a spiritual malady, which, according to what we have learned, was somehow brought on by a disconnect to the life force? How so?
Our sages teach us that tzar’at was the result of lashon hara – evil speech – speaking negatively of others, being careless, insensitive and hurtful in how we speak of others, either to their faces, behind their backs, or, today, on social media.
To speak ill of someone, Torah tells us, is a form of murder by diction – character assassination.
Once upon a time, the speaker of lashon hara would come down with a case of tzar’at. His use of evil speech would be immediately exposed, and shameful as that was, he or she was afforded a path back to purity and rehabilitation. Today, of course, it is much easier to “get away with” speaking ill of others.
But suddenly this archaic, ancient, extinct affliction known as tzar’at doesn’t seem quite so obscure or dubious.
For it makes explicit the power of language, the need to keep our sharp tongues sheathed and to speak only life affirming words of positivity.
For even necessary words of criticism can be couched positively. How the world might benefit today by a return of the tzar’at affliction, as a guard against evil speech. But even without the reappearance of tzar’at, we have the teachings of Torah and our sages to remind us that we need to be on the side of life and always in the life affirming presence of G-d, and must be ever so careful of every word which exits our lips. For in our words is the power of life and death. Let’s choose life – and guard our tongues!

Senators Spar Over Sabbath Day…. While Americans Struggle to Make Ends Meet!

While Americans Struggle to Make Ends Meet for Passover, Senators Spar Over Sabbath Day and grant 15 million in “humanitarian aid” to Arab terrorists….

Republican senator quotes the Bible to say Sunday is the sabbath, but Democratic senator points out Old Testament places the sabbath on Saturday.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer gave a Republican colleague a bible and civics lesson after Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith said voting on Sunday would not be allowed in her state because it would violate the holy sabbath, media reports said Thursday.

On Wednesday, Hyde-Smith backed a move by southern Republican senators to ban electoral activity on Sundays, claiming the new legislation was justified because Sunday is the Sabbath day.

“I can speak for Mississippi on why we would never do that on a Sunday or hold an election on a Sunday,” Hyde-Smith told Schumer.

Holding up a dollar bill she said: “This says the ‘United States of America in God we trust.’ Etched in stone in front of the U.S. Senate chamber is ‘In God we trust.’ When you swore in all these witnesses, the last thing you said to them in your instructions, was ‘so help you God.’”

“In God’s word in Exodus 28:18, it says, remember the Sabbath and keep it holy,” Hyde-Smith said at a meeting of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee.

Schumer, from New York, is Jewish and reminded Hyde-Smith that America cannot make laws based on one religion over another.

“Another member (Hyde-Smith) of the committee defended limits to early voting on Sundays, a day when many African-Americans go to vote after church, by quoting the bible and the commandment to keep the sabbath holy,” Schumer said during a speech in the Senate.

“I don’t know where to begin with that one, but I’ll start by reminding my colleagues of the separation between church and state, and frankly, the Bible passage she talked about comes from the Old Testament when the Sabbath was on Saturday,” Schumer said.

“Senator Hyde-Smith comments are emblematic of the push by lawmakers in GA and other states to disenfranchise racial minority, low-income, elderly, rural, disabled, and student voters,” the ADL tweeted. “Equally as offensive, she totally disregards the Sabbath of Jews, Muslims and some Christians.”

Jews and some Christian Churches observe the Sabbath on Saturday, while Friday is the holy day of the week for Muslims.

Removal of Chametz (Leaven)

Rav Avraham Yitzchaq HaCohen Kook –

“By the first day [of Passover] you must clear out your homes of all leaven.” (Ex. 12:15)

Why Clear Out Chametz?

Why does the Torah command us to destroy all chametz (leaven) found in our homes during Passover? It is logical to eat matzah; this fast-baked food has a historical connection to the Exodus, recalling our hurried escape from Egyptian slavery. But how does clearing out leaven from our homes relate to the Passover theme of freedom and independence?

Freedom of Spirit

There are two aspects to attaining true freedom. First, one needs to be physically independent of all foreign subjugation. But complete freedom also requires freedom of the spirit. The soul is not free if it is subjected to external demands that prevent it from following the path of its inner truth.

The difference between a slave and a free person is not just a matter of social standing. One may find an educated slave whose spirit is free, and a free person with the mindset of a slave. What makes us truly free? When we are able to be faithful to our inner self, to the truth of our Divine image — then we can live a fulfilled life, a life focused on our soul’s inner goals. One whose spirit is servile, on the other hand, will never experience this sense of self-fulfillment. His happiness will always depend upon the approval of others who dominate over him, whether this control is de jure or de facto.

The Foreign Influence of Leaven

What is chametz? Leaven is a foreign substance added to the dough. The leavening agent makes the dough rise; it changes its natural shape and characteristics. Destruction of all leaven in the house symbolizes the removal of all foreign influences and constraints that prevent us from realizing our spiritual aspirations.

These two levels of independence, physical and spiritual, exist on both the individual and the national level. An independent people must be free not only from external rule, but also from foreign domination in the cultural and spiritual spheres.

For the Israelites in Egypt, it was precisely at the hour of imminent redemption that the dangers of these foreign ‘leavening’ forces were the greatest. At that time of great upheaval, true permanent emancipation was not a given. Would the Israelites succeed in freeing themselves, not only from Egyptian bondage, but also from the idolatrous culture in which they had lived for hundreds of years? To commemorate their complete liberation from Egypt, the Passover holiday of freedom requires the removal of all foreign ‘leavening’ agents.

Cleansing Ourselves of Foreign Influences

In our days too, an analogous era of imminent redemption, we need to purge the impure influences of alien cultures and attitudes that have entered our national spirit during our long exile among the nations.

Freedom is the fulfillment of our inner essence. We need to aspire to the lofty freedom of those who left Egypt. To the Israelites of that generation, God revealed Himself and brought them into His service. This is truly the highest form of freedom, as the Sages taught in Avot (6:2):

“Instead of ‘engraved (charut) on the tablets’ (Ex. 32:16), read it as ‘freedom’ (cheirut). Only one who studies Torah is truly free.”

(Silver from the Land of Israel, pp. 151-153. Adapted from Olat Re’iyah vol. II, p. 244.)

“Kimcha d’Pischa” – Charity Before Passover

Topic: Charity Before Passover

Debbie in Canada wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

A woman in synagogue told me that I need to give “kimcha d’pischa” (or something like that). Rabbi, would you tell me what she was talking about? Thanks a million!


Dear Debbie,

Kimcha D’pischa means “flour for Pesach.” In other words “Kosher for Passover Flour.” This refers to the age-old custom of giving charity before Pesach to the city’s poor so they will be able to afford all their Passover needs.

This custom is ancient, first mentioned in the Jerusalem Talmud. The idea behind it is that it was hard to find “Kosher for Passover” flour to buy during the holiday. So poor people who live on a day to day basis would not have food to eat on Pesach, because there would be no flour to buy to bake matzot with. Hence began the custom to distribute flour before Pesach.

Today, most people don’t bake their own matzot, so kimcha d’pischa has been adjusted to meet the needs of the poor people of today. All over the world Jewish communities give money to the needy before the holiday so they can prepare. In many communities food supplies are distributed for free or at great discount. In my community, charity organizations give money to the supermarket to credit the accounts of needy families, in addition to food distribution and cash donations.

It is said that before Pesach there are two types of people: Those who give kimcha d’pischa and those who get. In other words, anyone who can is obligated to help the needy meet their holiday expenses.

You should make a donation to the kimcha d’pischa organization, in your community if possible. If there are no needy in your city, or no existing organization, you can choose to help out the poor of Jerusalem by sending a donation via Ohr Somayach, POB 18103, Jerusalem 91180 Israel.

There is a wonderful story about how charity money is distributed before Pesach. A woman once approached the Rabbi of the city of Brisk, Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, with a strange question. She wanted to know if one could use milk instead of wine for the four cups of the Seder. She explained that she could not afford wine. He answered her by giving her a large amount of money. Asked the Rabbi’s wife, “I understand you gave her money because she can’t afford the wine, but why so much?”

Answered the Rabbi, “If she wants to drink milk at the Seder, it is obvious she has no meat for Pesach (as there is a prohibition to eat meat and milk at the same meal). So I gave her enough to by wine and meat for the entire Holiday.”

The Divine Monarch

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 17.15 “thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the L-RD thy G-D shall choose; ….”

B’rashith 17.5-6 “Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for the father of a multitude of nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.

B’rashith 17.15-16 “And G-D said unto Abraham: ‘As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her, and moreover I will give thee a son of her; yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be of her.’

Shmoth 19.6 “and ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.’ ”

We see from these sources in the Torah that the Will of HaShem is a monarchy; a holy nation! Not a nation like all other nations as the people clamored for, before Navi Shemuel. 1 Samuel 8.18-20:

18 And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king whom ye shall have chosen you; and the L-RD will not answer you in that day.’ 19 But the people refused to hearken unto the voice of Samuel; and they said: ‘Nay; but there shall be a king over us; 20 that we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.’

****

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 17.15 “thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the L-RD thy G-D shall choose; ….”

1 Chronicles 28.4 “Howbeit the L-RD, the G-D of Israel, chose me out of all the house of my father to be king over Israel for ever; for He hath chosen Judah to be prince, and in the house of Judah, the house of my father, and among the sons of my father He took pleasure in me to make me king over all Israel; ….”

2 Chronicles 6.6 “But I have chosen Jerusalem so that My Name will be there, and I have chosen David to be over My people Israel.’ ”

Tehillim 78.70 “He chose David also His servant, And took him from the sheepfolds;….”

1 Samuel 16.1 “And the L-RD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided Me a king among his sons.”

The mitzvah is to appoint a king for HaShemwhom the L-RD thy G-D shall choose; ….” HaShem chose David as King over all Israel, even as King David confirmed in 1 Chronicles 28.4.

As the Tanak pointedly states, the people chose Saul as King rather than allowing the prophet and high priest as agents for HaShem to choose a king (presumably through the Urim and Thumim)!

From 1 Samuel 16.1 (“… for I have provided Me a king among his sons.”) we see that the Tanak makes clear [that] the king chosen by G-D serves HaShem; as Tehillim 78.70 points out: “He chose David also His servant,…” and as 1 Samuel 13.14 points out, David was found by HaShem to be a “man after the heart of G-D:

1 Samuel 13.14 “But now thy kingdom shall not continue; the L-RD hath sought him a man after His own heart, and the L-RD hath appointed him to be prince over His people, because thou hast not kept that which the L-RD commanded thee.’ “

R. Yossi and R. Yehuda, the Rambam (R. Moshe ben Maimon, 12th century, Egypt) and Sefer HaChinukh (author unknown, 13th century, Spain) and all those commentators who are of the opinion that there is a mitzvah to appoint a king, imply in their opinion both the fact that the Torah involves itself in the regulation of human affairs and that it chose to endorse monarchy as the proper form of government.

So if (since) HaShem chose David as King then there is no need to select, choose or appoint a king from outside King David and Shlomo’s lineage. In fact, it was improper for the Hasmoneans to rule over the people for they were of the priestly caste!

****

To quote from one article on the discussion of “Appointing a King” –

“In Sanhedrin (20b) which states that the phrase “Ki yad al keis Kah” (“Hand upon the throne of the Lord,” Shemot 17:16) refers to the king: “Ve-ein kisei ela melekh she-ne’emar Vayeshev Shelomo al kisei Hashem le-melekh” – “‘Throne’ refers to the king, as it is written, ‘Shelomo sat on the throne of the Lord as king’ (I Divrei Ha-yamim 29:23).” (See also Ramban ad loc., who adopts this position.) The upshot of this statement, further emphasized by the gemara’s subsequent statement that “Be-tchila malakh Shlomo al ha-elyonim she’ne’emar vayeshev Shlomo al kisei Hashem le-melekh” (“At first Shelomo ruled over the the upper spheres”), is that the king is not solely a human figure serving the needs of his countrymen, but rather he is also a sacral figure, representing Divine interests in the human world. Just as the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) is the Divine representative in the religious sphere, serving as a “shelucha de-rachmana” (emissary of God) no less than a “shelucha didan” (emissary of man), so too is the melekh an ambassador of God in the political sphere. The Heavenly Throne (kisei Hashem) serves as a symbol of Divine involvement in the human world and, therefore, the description of the king as sitting upon this throne serves to establish his rule as a manifestation and executor of Divine Will in our world. In this context, mention should already be made of the fact that the king, as the kohen, is anointed with shemen ha-mishcha (the anointing oil).

If we accept this line of reasoning, the Torah’s interest in a royal head of state is not due to his practical utility to human society, but rather is due to the fact that a royal figure is a better representative of God on Earth. By adopting such a position, we are able to understand the need for a king, despite the drawbacks which Abarbanel pointed out. To offset those, the Torah added a whole list of regulations and mitzvot designed to distance the monarch from “gavhut ha-lev” (arrogance), involvement with earthly affairs and the temptations of power (i.e. women, money and horses) and to instill in him and his subjects the sense of a Divine mission (the need to constantly have a Torah scroll at his side).”

SOURCE: YESHIVAT HAR ETZION

ISRAEL KOSCHITZKY VIRTUAL BEIT MIDRASH (VBM)

**************************************************************

JEWISH POLITICAL THEORY – HILKHOT MELAKHIM

SHIUR #1: The Commandment to Appoint a King

by Rav Mosheh Lichtenstein

Copyright (c) 1997 Yeshivat Har Etzion. All rights reserved.

****

While the above article does not touch upon the subject of the unifying mission of the King, it is important to note that I Divrei Ha-yamim (1 Chronicles) 29:23 concludes with the phrase “… and all Israel obeyed him.”

“David came and increased their number to 24.”

24 mishmarot (lit. “guards”; Ta’an. 4:2), which served in a regular weekly rotation. The mishmarot were further broken up into a varying number of battei avot (“houses” or “families”). Each division and subdivision was presided over by a head, called rosh mishmar and rosh bet av respectively (Tosef., Hor. 2: 10); there is also mention made of a bet av (Tam. 1:1; Mid. 1:8; cf. Yoma 1:5). The levites were similarly divided into 24 mishmarot, which replaced each other every week (I Chron. 25:8ff, et al.; Jos., Ant., 7:363ff.; Ta’an. 4:2). These were in turn subdivided into seven battei avot, and presided over by “heads.” Finally, there was an analogous division of the Israelites themselves into 24 mishmarot, each of which had to take its turn in coming to Jerusalem for a week. They served to represent the whole body of the people while the daily (communal) offerings were sacrificed, for “how can a man’s offering be offered while he does not stand by it?” (Ta’an. 4:2, et al.).

That part of the mishmar of priests, Levites, or Israelites actually engaged in the performance of its duty was called a ma’amad or ammud (“station”) and was headed by a rosh ma’amad (Tam. 5:6). When the time for the service of a mishmar came round, all the priests and Levites belonging to it would go to Jerusalem. Not all the Israelites of that mishmar, however, proceeded to Jerusalem. A portion of them certainly did (Ta’an. 4:2; cf. Tosef., Ta’an. 4:3) but those who could not do so assembled in their own towns and read the story of creation, etc. Only those in Jerusalem who actually “stood by” while the sacrifice was being offered could, strictly speaking, be called a ma’amad, or ammud (see Sof. 17:5; but see Lieberman , Tosefta ki-Feshutah 5, 1962, 1104, who shows that according to a different opinion the ma’amadot were of Israelites alone).

23 “And Solomon sat on the throne of the L-RD as king instead of David his father, and he prospered, and all Israel obeyed him.” 24 And all the leaders and the mighty men and also all King David’s sons placed their hand under King Solomon.

Hoshea 3.5 “afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek [desire] the L-RD their G-D, and David their king; and shall come trembling unto the L-RD and to His goodness in the end of days.”

Yekezkel 37.22 “and I will make them one nation in the land, upon the mountains of Israel, and one king shall be king to them all; and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all;”

Thus, in a Divinely chosen monarchy, the king sit as an emissary of the Merciful One on the throne of the L-RD uniting the people, to worship as one by an oath; even as Avraham’s servant swore by the “Covenant of Circumcision” B’rashith (Genesis) 24:3!

The Commandment to Appoint a King

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 17.15 “thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the L-RD thy G-D shall choose; ….”

B’rashith 17.5-6 “Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for the father of a multitude of nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.

B’rashith 17.15-16 “And G-D said unto Abraham: ‘As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her, and moreover I will give thee a son of her; yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be of her.’

Shmoth 19.6 “and ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.’ ”

We see from these sources in the Torah that the Will of HaShem is a monarchy; a holy nation! Not a nation like all other nations as the people clamored for, before Navi Shemuel. 1 Samuel 8.18-20:

18 And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king whom ye shall have chosen you; and the L-RD will not answer you in that day.’ 19 But the people refused to hearken unto the voice of Samuel; and they said: ‘Nay; but there shall be a king over us; 20 that we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.’

****

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 17.15 “thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the L-RD thy G-D shall choose; ….”

1 Chronicles 28.4 “Howbeit the L-RD, the G-D of Israel, chose me out of all the house of my father to be king over Israel for ever; for He hath chosen Judah to be prince, and in the house of Judah, the house of my father, and among the sons of my father He took pleasure in me to make me king over all Israel; ….”

2 Chronicles 6.6 “But I have chosen Jerusalem so that My Name will be there, and I have chosen David to be over My people Israel.’ ”

Tehillim 78.70 “He chose David also His servant, And took him from the sheepfolds;….”

1 Samuel 16.1 “And the L-RD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided Me a king among his sons.”

The mitzvah is to appoint a king for HaShemwhom the L-RD thy G-D shall choose; ….” HaShem chose David as King over all Israel, even as King David confirmed in 1 Chronicles 28.4.

As the Tanak pointedly states, the people chose Saul as King rather than allowing the prophet and high priest as agents for HaShem to choose a king (presumably through the Urim and Thumim)!

From 1 Samuel 16.1 (“… for I have provided Me a king among his sons.”) we see that the Tanak makes clear [that] the king chosen by G-D serves HaShem; as Tehillim 78.70 points out: “He chose David also His servant,…” and as 1 Samuel 13.14 points out, David was found by HaShem to be a “man after the heart of G-D:

1 Samuel 13.14 “But now thy kingdom shall not continue; the L-RD hath sought him a man after His own heart, and the L-RD hath appointed him to be prince over His people, because thou hast not kept that which the L-RD commanded thee.’ “

R. Yossi and R. Yehuda, the Rambam (R. Moshe ben Maimon, 12th century, Egypt) and Sefer HaChinukh (author unknown, 13th century, Spain) and all those commentators who are of the opinion that there is a mitzvah to appoint a king, imply in their opinion both the fact that the Torah involves itself in the regulation of human affairs and that it chose to endorse monarchy as the proper form of government.

So if (since) HaShem chose David as King then there is no need to select, choose or appoint a king from outside King David and Shlomo’s lineage. In fact, it was improper for the Hasmoneans to rule over the people for they were of the priestly caste!

****

To quote from one article on the discussion of “Appointing a King” –

“In Sanhedrin (20b) which states that the phrase “Ki yad al keis Kah” (“Hand upon the throne of the Lord,” Shemot 17:16) refers to the king: “Ve-ein kisei ela melekh she-ne’emar Vayeshev Shelomo al kisei Hashem le-melekh” – “‘Throne’ refers to the king, as it is written, ‘Shelomo sat on the throne of the Lord as king’ (I Divrei Ha-yamim 29:23).” (See also Ramban ad loc., who adopts this position.) The upshot of this statement, further emphasized by the gemara’s subsequent statement that “Be-tchila malakh Shlomo al ha-elyonim she’ne’emar vayeshev Shlomo al kisei Hashem le-melekh” (“At first Shelomo ruled over the the upper spheres”), is that the king is not solely a human figure serving the needs of his countrymen, but rather he is also a sacral figure, representing Divine interests in the human world. Just as the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) is the Divine representative in the religious sphere, serving as a “shelucha de-rachmana” (emissary of God) no less than a “shelucha didan” (emissary of man), so too is the melekh an ambassador of God in the political sphere. The Heavenly Throne (kisei Hashem) serves as a symbol of Divine involvement in the human world and, therefore, the description of the king as sitting upon this throne serves to establish his rule as a manifestation and executor of Divine Will in our world. In this context, mention should already be made of the fact that the king, as the kohen, is anointed with shemen ha-mishcha (the anointing oil).

If we accept this line of reasoning, the Torah’s interest in a royal head of state is not due to his practical utility to human society, but rather is due to the fact that a royal figure is a better representative of God on Earth. By adopting such a position, we are able to understand the need for a king, despite the drawbacks which Abarbanel pointed out. To offset those, the Torah added a whole list of regulations and mitzvot designed to distance the monarch from “gavhut ha-lev” (arrogance), involvement with earthly affairs and the temptations of power (i.e. women, money and horses) and to instill in him and his subjects the sense of a Divine mission (the need to constantly have a Torah scroll at his side).”

SOURCE: YESHIVAT HAR ETZION

ISRAEL KOSCHITZKY VIRTUAL BEIT MIDRASH (VBM)

**************************************************************

JEWISH POLITICAL THEORY – HILKHOT MELAKHIM

SHIUR #1: The Commandment to Appoint a King

by Rav Mosheh Lichtenstein

Copyright (c) 1997 Yeshivat Har Etzion. All rights reserved.

****

While the above article does not touch upon the subject of the unifying mission of the King, it is important to note that I Divrei Ha-yamim (1 Chronicles) 29:23 concludes with the phrase “… and all Israel obeyed him.”

“David came and increased their number to 24.”

24 mishmarot (lit. “guards”; Ta’an. 4:2), which served in a regular weekly rotation. The mishmarot were further broken up into a varying number of battei avot (“houses” or “families”). Each division and subdivision was presided over by a head, called rosh mishmar and rosh bet av respectively (Tosef., Hor. 2: 10); there is also mention made of a bet av (Tam. 1:1; Mid. 1:8; cf. Yoma 1:5). The levites were similarly divided into 24 mishmarot, which replaced each other every week (I Chron. 25:8ff, et al.; Jos., Ant., 7:363ff.; Ta’an. 4:2). These were in turn subdivided into seven battei avot, and presided over by “heads.” Finally, there was an analogous division of the Israelites themselves into 24 mishmarot, each of which had to take its turn in coming to Jerusalem for a week. They served to represent the whole body of the people while the daily (communal) offerings were sacrificed, for “how can a man’s offering be offered while he does not stand by it?” (Ta’an. 4:2, et al.).

That part of the mishmar of priests, Levites, or Israelites actually engaged in the performance of its duty was called a ma’amad or ammud (“station”) and was headed by a rosh ma’amad (Tam. 5:6). When the time for the service of a mishmar came round, all the priests and Levites belonging to it would go to Jerusalem. Not all the Israelites of that mishmar, however, proceeded to Jerusalem. A portion of them certainly did (Ta’an. 4:2; cf. Tosef., Ta’an. 4:3) but those who could not do so assembled in their own towns and read the story of creation, etc. Only those in Jerusalem who actually “stood by” while the sacrifice was being offered could, strictly speaking, be called a ma’amad, or ammud (see Sof. 17:5; but see Lieberman , Tosefta ki-Feshutah 5, 1962, 1104, who shows that according to a different opinion the ma’amadot were of Israelites alone).

23 “And Solomon sat on the throne of the L-RD as king instead of David his father, and he prospered, and all Israel obeyed him.” 24 And all the leaders and the mighty men and also all King David’s sons placed their hand under King Solomon.

Hoshea 3.5 “afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek [desire] the L-RD their G-D, and David their king; and shall come trembling unto the L-RD and to His goodness in the end of days.”

Yekezkel 37.22 “and I will make them one nation in the land, upon the mountains of Israel, and one king shall be king to them all; and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all;”

Thus, in a Divinely chosen monarchy, the king sit as an emissary of the Merciful One on the throne of the L-RD uniting the people, to worship as one by an oath; even as Avraham’s servant swore by the “Covenant of Circumcision” B’rashith (Genesis) 24:3!

Yom Kippur: Genesis of Repentance

The night that changed the world forever is the night Jewish history began. Six parts of Yom Kippur to read and internalize.

Daniel Pinner , 27/09/20 11:23 Share
Yom Kippur prayers

Yom Kippur prayers צילום: מרים אלסטר, פלאש 90

First section: מַעֲרִיב – the Evening Service

It was a night that would change the world forever. It was the night when Jewish history began. It was the unforgettable night when, under the darkened heavens blazing with stars, G-d spoke to Abraham and forged His covenant with him and his descendants after him.

G-d appeared to Abraham, “and He took him outside, and He said: Gaze now towards the heavens, and count the stars if you can count them! And He said to him: Thus will be your descendants” (Genesis 15:5-6).

As a token of G-d’s Covenant with him, “He said to him: Bring Me three heifers, and three goats, and three rams, and a turtle-dove, and a young dove. So he brought Him all these, and he divided them in the centre, placing each piece opposite its matching half… And then, as the sun was setting, a deep sleep fell upon Abraham, and behold – a dread! Great darkness fell upon him. Then He said to Abraham: Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land not their own; they will serve them, and they will oppress them for four hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, after which they will go out with great possessions” (ibid. 9-14).

Rashi (Commentary to verse 9) based on the Midrash (Bereishit Rabbah 44:14) and the Talmud (Ta’anit 27b) expounds that these three heifers alluded to three sacrifices that Abraham’s descendants were destined one day to offer: the bull sacrificed on Yom Kippur (Numbers 29:8), the bull sacrificed to atone for a sin committed unintentionally by the entire congregation as a result of an erroneous decision by the Sanhedrin (Leviticus 4:13-14), and the heifer whose neck was to be axed in the event that a murdered corpse was found in the countryside (Deuteronomy 21:1-4).

On the night that the Jewish mission in G-d’s world was being launched, G-d already provided the capacity for atonement on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, repentance, and forgiveness.

Second section: שַׁחֲרִית – the Morning Service

The Children of Israel had left Egypt and its slavery three months earlier, and had received the Torah at Mount Sinai seven weeks after that.

Moshe had been up on Mount Sinai for thirty-nine days, since that momentous day, and now, as the morning of fortieth day dawned, the people expected his imminent return. But their leader Moshe, the man who had defeated Egypt and led them out from slavery to freedom, across the Red Sea and into the desert to Mount Sinai, had ascended the mountain and did not return when they expected him to.

It was a tragic misunderstanding. “When Moshe ascended to Heaven, he said to them: At the end of forty days, at the beginning of the sixth hour [i.e. midday], I will return” (Shabbat 89a).

“The people had reckoned the day that he ascended as the first day; but he meant forty complete days – forty days and nights… He had ascended on the 7th of Sivan, so forty complete days would conclude on the 17th of Tammuz. But on the 16th of Tammuz the Satan confounded them by making the illusion of darkness, gloom, and chaos, convincing them that Moshe had died – particularly as the sixth hour had already come and gone” (Rashi, Commentary to Exodus 32:1, following Shabbat 89a).

And so, despairing of ever seeing Moshe again, “the nation assembled against Aaron, saying to him: Arise, make for us gods who will go before us, because this man Moshe, who brought us up out of Egypt – we don’t know what’s happened to him!” (Exodus 32:1).

And so Aaron, unable to withstand the pressure of the nation, fashioned the golden calf, “and they rose early the next day to offer up burnt-offerings and to bring peace-offerings” (Exodus 32:6), on the morning of the 17th of Tammuz.

That morning the nation committed a heinous sin. G-d immediately told Moshe to go back down from the height of Mount Sinai; and when he saw the golden calf, he smashed the Tablets of Stone and shocked the Jews out of their revelry.

The people sobered up, and the next day Moshe re-ascended Mount Sinai, where he stayed for another forty days and forty nights pleading with G-d to forgive Israel (Deuteronomy 9:18-21), returning to the Israelite camp on the 28th of Av.

The next day, the 29th of Av, he ascended Mount Sinai for the third time, where he stayed for another forty days and forty nights with G-d (Exodus 34:28, Deuteronomy 10:10).

Thus eighty-one days after the sin of the golden calf, when Moshe returned from Mount Sinai with the second set of the Tablets of Stone, the date was the 10th of Tishrei – the day that, a year later, G-d would decree as Yom ha-Kippurim, the eternal Day of Atonement.

Third section: מוּסַף – the Additional Service for Yom Kippus

The Torah commands the Yom Kippur service in Leviticus 16, which constitutes the Torah-reading for Yom Kippur morning. The Mussaf – the additional sacrificial offerings – for Yom Kippur are commanded in Numbers 29:7-11, which constitutes the Maftir for Yom Kippur morning.

The Ba’al ha-Turim (Rabbi Ya’akov ben Asher, Germany and Spain, c.1275-1343) notes a peculiarity in the Mussaf service: strangely, in the entire Mussaf section, the word לְכַפֵּר (“to atone for”) does not appear anywhere. Would one not think that the purpose of the Mussaf service of Yom Kippur is to atone for the Children of Israel? After all, the Torah explicitly states that this is the purpose of the Mussaf offerings of Pesach (Numbers 28:22), of Shavuot (v. 30), and of Rosh Hashanah (29:5). Yet in the Yom Kippur Mussaf, the word לְכַפֵּר is conspicuously absent!

The Ba’al ha-Turim (Commentary to Numbers 29:11) explains that in describing the Yom Kippur Mussaf, “the Torah says ‘a male goat as a sin-offering’, but does not say לְכַפֵּר – ‘to atone’, because Yom Kippur itself atones”.

As the Mishnah (Yoma 8:8) says, “death and Yom Kippur atone, if accompanied by repentance”.

Fourth section: מִנְחָה – the Afternoon Service

The Torah describes the incense service by saying that the Kohen Gadol “shall take a shovelful of burning coals from on top of the Altar, from before Hashem, and his cupped hands full (וּמְלֹא) of finely-ground incense spices, and bring it unto the Curtain” (Leviticus 16:12).

The Ba’al ha-Turim (Commentary to Leviticus 16:12) notes that the word וּמְלֹא (“full”) occurs only twice in the Tanach. The only other place is when King David defeated and subjugated the Philistines and Moab: “he measured [the prisoners of war] with the rope, laying them on the ground; he measured two rope-lengths to be put to death, וּמְלֹא (‘and a full’) rope-length to be kept alive” (1 Samuel 8:2).

And the Ba’al ha-Turim infers from this that “in the merit of the Yom Kippur service they were victorious in war”.

The inference is that not only does Yom Kippur atone for sins committed in the previous year, but it also provides pre-emptive merit for the coming year.

Fifth section: נְעִילָה – the Concluding Service

Yom Kippur reaches its climax in those final hours. This is the final opportunity to beseech Hashem for forgiveness, the final opportunity to achieve the potential of Yom Kippur, before the gates of repentance close for another year.

Rabbeinu Yonah of Geronah, in his seminal work The Gates of Repentance (First Gate, Sections 10-50), enumerates twenty essential components for complete repentance:

  • regret;
  • forsaking sin;
  • sorrow;
  • active suffering (fasting, weeping, lamenting);
  • worry about the results of the sin;
  • shame;
  • whole-hearted submission to G-d and humbling oneself;
  • practical submissiveness by speaking quietly, keeping one’s eyes downcast, etc;
  • breaking physical desires;
  • improving one’s actions in the area in which one has sinned;
  • searching out one’s ways;
  • studying, knowing, and recognising the severity of the punishment;
  • regarding even minor sins as severe;
  • confession;
  • prayer;
  • righting the wrong to the best of one’s ability;
  • pursuing actions of loving-kindness and truth;
  • keeping one’s sins before oneself constantly;
  • rejecting the sin when it becomes available to one, and when one is tempted;
  • and causing as many other people as possible to turn away from sin.

Ne’ilah is the juncture when we feel the fast of Yom Kippur more powerfully than ever – both physically and spiritually. Ne’ilah, more than any other of the Yom Kippur services, is the time to arouse ourselves to tears of penitence, to the most heartfelt pleas for forgiveness.

Ne’ilah is the climax, not just of Yom Kippur, but of the Ten Days of Repentance which began with Rosh Hashanah, of the forty days which began with Rosh Chodesh Ellul.

Ne’ilah begins in the daylight while the sun is still shining, and continues through sunset, through the darkening dusk, through twilight, and into complete darkness when Yom Kippur has finished. And the final, dramatic conclusion of Ne’ilah, of Yom Kippur, of the Ten Days of Repentance, of the forty days since Rosh Chodesh Ellul, is that final shofar blast, piercing our hearts, piercing the Heavens.

After thirty days of blowing the shofar every morning during Ellul, after the shofar blast which was the most central and outstanding feature of Rosh Hashanah, this is the final shofar-blast of the season, the final reverberating reminder of Abraham’s binding of Isaac; the final reminder of our father Abraham, in whose merit G-d gave us Yom Kippur.

And this is the final reminder of the Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, the foundation of Judaism; the prelude to the tragedy of the golden calf forty days later, which reached its closure eighty-one days later on Yom Kippur, exactly one year before G-d gave us the commandment for the annual Yom Kippur throughout our generations.

The shofar blast is the Jewish battle-cry. The first battle that we ever fought as a nation, the battle for Jericho immediately upon entering the Land of Israel, was led by Kohanim blowing the shofarot (Joshua 6:3-16). And decades later, the judge of Israel, Ehud, after assassinating the Moabite tyrant King Eglon, rallied the Jews to battle with the shofar (Judges 3:12-30).

Such it was throughout the wars that Israel fought: the judge Gideon (Judges 7:9-25), the prince Jonathan, son of King Saul (1 Samuel 13:3), King David when he defeated the Philistines (2 Samuel 6:15) – all sounded the shofar to rally the nation. This final shofar blast at Ne’ilah seals this day in whose merit we are victorious in war.

Sixth section: After Yom Kippur

And finally there is a sixth section of Yom Kippur. This is the section that does not appear in any prayer-book, the section which has not yet been written. This is the section that every one of us – you, me, our friends and families and neighbours – will write, each one according to his or her deeds, according to his or her decisions, in the coming year. It is this final, as-yet-unwritten section, which will determine the quality of next year’s Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Looking back to last Yom Kippur, we perceive – but cannot possibly comprehend – the decrees which G-d inscribed in His Heavenly ledgers a year ago. Who, on Yom Kippur of 5780, could possibly have foreseen what turmoils the year would bring?

Could anyone have dared predict the global epidemics of the Coronavirus, of social havoc, of unrestrained and undisguised Jew-hatred?

A year from now, on Yom Kippur 5782, we will be able to look back on another year, and gauge how G-d judged us this year.

G’mar chatimah tovah!

Tags: Daniel Pinner

A synagogue on the Temple Mount? Activists say let the Jews move in

Jews believe the site – venerated as holy in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam alike – is where the Beit Hamikdash used to sit.

Jpost – Israel News
By Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman
March 6, 2019 04:09

A general view of Jerusalem's old city shows the Dome of the Rock in the compound known to Muslims a

A general view of Jerusalem’s old city shows the Dome of the Rock in the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, October 25, 2015. (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

A group of Israeli activists are calling on the government to establish a synagogue on the Temple Mount and open it for Jewish prayer.

According to Asaf Fried, a spokesman for an association of organizations dedicated to Jewish rights on the Temple Mount, more than 50 leaders from across the religious spectrum gathered on Sunday to discuss the situation on the Temple Mount. Participants included Rabbi Yehudah Glick (Likud), Baruch Marzel (Otzma Yehudit) and members of the rabbinate.

Jews believe the site – venerated as holy in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam alike – is where the First and Second Temples used to sit.

Riots have continuously erupted on the Temple Mount since last month, when thousands of Palestinians stormed the Golden Gate, which had been closed by a court order since 2003. Jerusalem Police arrested two senior Wakf officials – east Jerusalem Wakf chairman Sheikh Abdel Azim Salhab and deputy director of the Wakf Sheikh Najeh Bkeirat – banning them from entering the Aqsa Mosque compound for 40 days.

In response, the Muslims took over and converted a 1,500-year-old structure located near the Golden Gate (known as Shaar Harachamim in Hebrew) into a mosque. Currently, the Muslims have four other mosques on the mount, said Fried. Jews, on the other hand, “if you try to pray, you will be arrested.”

The activists argue that by opening the Golden Gate and establishing a new mosque, the Muslims have broken the status quo agreement. Israel has made attempts to shutter the gate, but the Muslims have refused, threatening increased violence.

“If the status quo is broken anyway, then Israel needs to break it, too,” said Fried, arguing that Jews should be allowed to pray on the Temple Mount. “We need a place to pray and we want that structure near the Golden Gate.”

Establishing a synagogue is not unprecedented, explained Yaacov Hayman, head of the Yishai Organization for the Establishment of Synagogues on the Temple Mount. He said in Temple times there was always a synagogue near the Temple.

“The Talmud tractate that talks about Yom Kippur clearly states there was a synagogue,” he said.

His organization has mapped the Temple Mount and created renderings for where up to four synagogues could be located on the holy site.

Marzel told The Jerusalem Post that the Temple Mount is “the holiest place for the Jewish people. Our enemies are taking it over, they are breaking the law, destroying archaeology sites and disgracing Judaism and God. We have to fight.”

Fried said the group is not asking to take over authority on the mount. Currently, the Jerusalem Wakf Islamic religious trust controls and manages the Islamic edifices on and around the Temple Mount. The east Jerusalem Wakf is controlled by Jordan.

However, they would like to see the Temple Mount divided like the way that the Cave of the Patriarchs was divided into a synagogue and a mosque in 1967.

This latest call for a synagogue on the Temple Mount is not the first.

In 2017, MK Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) called for the construction of a synagogue on the Temple Mount in the aftermath of the brutal Halamish (also known as Neveh Tzuf) attack, in which a Hamas terrorist infiltrated the West Bank settlement and murdered three people at their Shabbat table.

“I would set up a synagogue on the Temple Mount today, this morning,” Smotrich said then. “If someone thinks that through terrorism, violence, and the massacre of a family that he will push our sovereignty back, then – if I am the prime minister – this morning, I would close the Temple Mount to Arab prayer and establish a synagogue for Jews. And if the terrorism continues, I would close the mount to Arabs and there will be only Jews there.”

A similar demand was made in 2014, when a large group of religious-Zionist rabbis – including Rabbi Dov Lior, Rabbi Eliyahu Zinni and Rabbi Haim Cohen – penned a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu advocating the construction of a synagogue on the Temple Mount. No action was taken.

Furthermore, there have been bills raised in the Knesset calling for equal prayer rights for Jews on the Temple Mount, but they have generally been shut down, as Muslims threaten violence if the status quo is altered.

Fried said he believes that this time the goal can be accomplished because Israel is in an election period and politicians who can effect change will want to appear responsive.

On March 14, the group is arranging a massive Jewish trip to the Temple Mount. He said he expects hundreds of Jews to attend and to pray in their hearts.

Then, in late March, they will run a protest rally from City Hall to outside the Golden Gate.

“We are all angry about what is going on the Temple Mount,” said Fried. “If we will it, we think this time it will be.”

A Precious Gift

RASHI to Shmoth 38.22
Bezalel, the son of Uri… had made all that the Lord had commanded Moses: “That Moses had commanded him is not written here, but all that the Lord had commanded Moses,” [meaning that] even [in] things that his master [Moses] had not said to him, his [Bezalel’s] view coincided with what was said to Moses on Sinai. For Moses commanded Bezalel to first make the furnishings and afterwards the Mishkan. (Rashi is not referring to the command to donate [the materials for the Mishkan and its furnishings], since, on the contrary, the Holy One, blessed be He, commanded the opposite in parshath Terumah. [I.e.,] first [God commanded them to make] the furnishings: the table, the menorah, the curtains, and afterwards [He gave] the command to make the planks [i.e., the Mishkan, whereas] the command of our teacher, Moses, may he rest in peace, at the beginning of Vayakhel (Exod. 35:11-19) lists first the Mishkan and its tent, and afterwards the furnishings. Rather, Rashi is referring to the command to the worker, [i.e.,] in what order he should work. You will find in the parsha of Ki Thissa [where God commanded concerning the order of the Mishkan’s construction]: “See, I have called by name Bezalel…” (Exod. 31:2-11), that first the Tent of Meeting is mentioned and afterwards the furnishings. As far as [the command in Terumah] to donate, to prepare what they would require [for the Mishkan and its furnishings], what difference does it make what they donated first? [Thus the order of the furnishings listed there is irrelevant.] See Tosafoth in the chapter entitled הָרוֹאֶה (Ber. 55a): If you ask, how do we know that our teacher, Moses, may he rest in peace, commanded Bezalel to do the opposite [of what God had commanded him? Since it is not found in the text that Moses commanded Bezalel to construct first the furnishings and then the Mishkan], we may reply that it is written in parshath Vayakhel (Exod. 36:2): “And Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab…”. [There] the Torah is very brief in explaining what he [Moses] said to them. From this verse (38:22), which is worded, “all that the Lord commanded Moses,” we see that he [Moses] commanded them in the opposite manner. [Therefore the text here does not state “that Moses had commanded him.”] Study this well.) Bezalel responded, “It is common practice to first make a house and then to put furniture into it.” He said to him, “This is what I heard from the mouth of the Holy One, blessed is He.” Moses said to him [Bezalel], “You were in the shadow of God [בְּצֵל אֵל, which is the meaning of Bezalel’s name. I.e., you are right], for surely that is what the Holy One, blessed be He, commanded me.” And so he did: [Bezalel] first [made] the Mishkan, and afterwards he made the furnishings. -[from Ber. 55a]
YOCHANAN: The Parshah Pekudey begins:
“These are the numbers of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of the Testimony, which were counted at Moses’ command; [this was] the work of the Levites under the direction of Ithamar, the son of Aaron the Kohen.”
To what is this like?
It is like a person who wishes to store away a precious gift. First, he makes a container for the gift then he puts it away in the container, putting the container away in a safe place in his house. Here, HaShem first commanded us the Ten Sayings of the Covenant; and then gave us the Ten Commandments written on stone (the precious gift), then he commended us (25.8) to make the Miqdash (Mishkan) “after the pattern that was shown to Moshe” (25.9) “that He would dwell among them” (25.8); yet the first set of specific direction we are given concerning the Mishkan or it’s furnishings is that we are told first of the “specific directions” for the construction of the Ark of the Covenant (25.10) (the Ark of Testimony Aydooth) (38.21).

The World of Dreams

Rab Judah also said in the name of Rab: There are three things for which one should supplicate: a good king, a good year, and a good dream. ‘A good king’, as it is written: A king’s heart is in the hands of the Lord as the water-courses. ‘A good year’, as it is written: The eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year. ‘A good dream’, as it is written; Wherefore cause Thou me to dream and make me to live. Tractate Berakoth, Folio 55a
‘Sovereign of the Universe, I am Thine and my dreams are Thine. I have dreamt a dream and I do not know what it is. Whether I have dreamt about myself or my companions have dreamt about me, or I have dreamt about others, if they are good dreams, confirm them and reinforce them like the dreams of Joseph, and if they require a remedy, heal them, as the waters of Marah were healed by Moses, our teacher, and as Miriam was healed of her leprosy and Hezekiah of his sickness, and the waters of Jericho by Elisha. As thou didst turn the curse of the wicked Balaam into a blessing, so turn all my dreams into something good for me’. Berakoth 55b
A long time ago I dreamed that Rabbi David Rosenberg and I were standing before the Pargod (Veil) and I watched as the “golden threads” of the Veil, which were in the shape of the letters of the Aleph Bet in cursive script moved up and down throughout the weave of the Veil. I know there is meaning to the dream but I am unsure of it’s meaning.