Rav Hirsch z”l, the B’nai Yisrael and “Being There” at the Pesach Seder

Shalom and Chag Same’ach Friends;

This Author has been very into R’ Shimson Rafael Hirsch z”l as is evident from citings from the new Hirsch Chumash (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Rabbi Daniel Haberman) included my various Parshiyot HaShavua’s. Have also been learning R’ Hirsch’s “Nineteen Letters”, translated with commentary by Rabbi Joseph Elias. There are some passages from the text of Letters # 8 and 9 of “Nineteen Letters”, as well as commentary on the letters which seem to speak loudly in contributing to an ADULT’s focus in Being and Feeling as if “There” — being with the rest of Am Yisrael in Mtizrayim, feeling their pain of persecution and enslavement, as well as their euphoria upon Yetizot Mitzrayim.  [...]  Click here to read more.

Dayenu 5772: That “Being There” Feeling at the Pesach Seder

by, Moshe Burt

This year will mark seventeen years, and my fourteenth Pesach in Eretz Yisrael, in which I have emailed, as it has become tradition with me from prior to my Aliyah, the rendition of Dayenu quoted from the book “Dear Brothers.” In each year, Dayenu holds a unique perspective, unlike the perspective of any previous year.

Each year, this author tries to put forth factors that relate to the state of B’nai Yisrael — right here and right now.

And so, the lessons of Dayenu are vital now, just as they were in the first year that I emailed this vort out or, for that matter, as vital as they were when it was quoted in Segal’s compilation of the book in its copyright year 1988. [...]  Click here to read more.

Parsha Tzav 5772: The Jewish Mold of Constancy; or Rote, Complacency and Assimilation?

by Moshe Burt

In our Parsha, Tzav is Moshe’s command from Hashem to Aaron HaKohen and his sons to take up and clothe themselves in their Vestments, their garments of service in the Mishkan, and to begin their daily Avodah (service and offerings in the Mishkan).

For seven days, Moshe taught Aaron HaKohen and his sons the laws of their Avodah in the Mishkan. (You might say that they were given, as they term it in the US, OJT from Shemayim.) On the eighth day, Aaron and his sons began their Avodah.

We are taught in our Parsha about the two flames which burn continuously; the flickering light of the Menorah and the powerful flame of the Mizbeiyach (the altar where the various offerings to Hashem were brought). These two flames which burned constantly teach us that a balance must exist between strength and power and modesty and humility. These fires teach us about maintaining a consistency between enthusiasm and constancy. (L’lmod Ul’Lamed, Rabbi Mordechai Katz, Parsha Tzav, page 103-104)  [...]  Click here to read more.

Parsha Vayikra 5772: Moshe’s Paradigm in Distinguishing True, Strong, Yet Humble Leaders From Frauds

by Moshe Burt

The first word of our parsha; Vayikra is the source of much discussion as to why the word ends with a small “aleph” and tells much about Moshe Rabbeinu’s level of principle, integrity and his standard of leadership of B’nei Yisrael. R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z’l in the new Hirsch Chumash (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Rabbi Daniel Haberman) renders translation of our Parsha’s opening posuk:

“And He called to Moshe, and Hashem spoke to him from the Tent of Appointed Meeting [Mei-Ohel Mo’ed], saying:” (Hirsch Chumash, Sefer Vayikra, page 1, Perek 1, posuk 1) [...]  Click here to read more.

Parsha Vayikra 5772A: Happiness and Bringing or “Taking” an Offering to Hashem

by Moshe Burt

Rabbi Pliskin in “Growth Through Torah” (Perek 1, posuk 2, page 235) renders this translation and cites Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch regarding the posuk immediately following the opening posuk and the dialogue between Hashem and Moshe Rabbeinu regarding the small alef in “Vayikra”:

“When a person of you brings an offering to The Almighty…”

Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch commented on this verse: It is most regrettable that we have no word… [for] the idea which lies behind the expression “Korbon”. The unfortunate use of the term “sacrifice” implies the idea of giving something up that is of value to oneself for the benefit of another…. The idea of an offering presupposes a desire on the part of the one to whom it is brought which [who] is “satisfied by the “offering,” which is like a gift. But the idea of a “Korbon” is never used as a gift. It is used exclusively with reference to man’s relation with the Almighty, and it’s meaning can only be understood… [as] to approach, to come near and so to come into close relationship with somebody. The object and purpose… is the attainment of a higher sphere of life. The one bringing the Korbon desires that something of himself should come into close relationship to the Almighty. [...]  Click here to read more.

Parshat Vayakhel, Pekudei 5772: Shabbos, the Mishkan, Unity and the Paradigm Leader

by Moshe Burt

The word Vayakhel — Assembling together of Kol B’nai Yisrael, introduces the building of the Mishkan (Tent of Meeting), the forerunner of the Beit HaMikdash, which would serve as a kappara (atonement) for the Eigel Zahav (Golden Calf). Our parsha opens by teaching B’nai Yisrael about Shabbos which has always, until recent times, been the unifying, defining factor of Judaism. Shabbos seems a gateway to all else — Kashrut, the Chaggim, Torah learning and Ethics, Yishuv HaAretz, Kiddushin, Family Purity, etc. It symbolizes the Jew’s faith in Hashem. And the melachot involved in the construction of the Mishkan were meant to define the paradigms of melachot prohibited on Shabbos.  [...]  Click here to read more.

Purim 5772: Jewish Unity in Our Times — Are We Capable of It?

by Moshe Burt

In writing a vort on Purim, this author keeps thinking back to a theme addressed in an earlier Siyum on Mesechta Megillah from a few years ago as well as another recurring theme on this blog.

The Jew separates and distinguishes himself from the rest of the nations through the Mitzvah of Bris Milah, even though many of our contemporary Jewish brothers would distance themselves from, or stand in denial of their Yiddishkeit. In short, many among our Jewish brethren would deny Hashem’s control of the world and seek to tailor Torah and their Jewishness to fit the ways of the nations rather than accepting Hashem’s reishut (command) over the world.  [...]  Click here to read more.