MidrESHET Hayil

Friday, February 22, 2013

Parashat Tessaveh- Don't be Resilient; Be SILENT+Shabbat ZAKHOR

**BH this week is one of the Four Special Shabbatot of the month called Shabbat Zakhor; EVERYONE INCLUDING WOMEN are hayav/obligated to hear the Keriat HaTorah (Torah Reading) this Shabbat instructing us to wipe out the name and memory of Amalek from the world (Haman came from Amalek....).

Parashat Tessaveh- Don't be Resilient; Be SILENT

33. And on its bottom hem you shall make pomegranates of blue, purple, and crimson wool, on its bottom hem all around, and golden bells in their midst all around.

לגוְעָשִׂיתָ עַל שׁוּלָיו רִמֹּנֵי תְּכֵלֶתוְאַרְגָּמָן וְתוֹלַעַת שָׁנִי עַל שׁוּלָיו סָבִיבוּפַעֲמֹנֵי זָהָב בְּתוֹכָם סָבִיב:

34. A golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, on the bottom hem of the robe, all around.

לדפַּעֲמֹן זָהָב וְרִמּוֹן פַּעֲמֹן זָהָב וְרִמּוֹןעַל שׁוּלֵי הַמְּעִיל סָבִיב:

35. It shall be on Aaron when he performs the service, and its sound shall be heard when he enters the Holy before the Lord and when he leaves, so that he will not die.

להוְהָיָה עַל אַהֲרֹן לְשָׁרֵת וְנִשְׁמַע קוֹלוֹבְּבֹאוֹ אֶל הַקֹּדֶשׁ לִפְנֵי יְ־הֹוָ־ה וּבְצֵאתוֹוְלֹא יָמוּת:

Did you know.... that Parashat Tessaveh is the only Parshah in the Torah since the birth of Moshe Rabbenu in which the name of Moshe does not appear (with the exception of the book of Devarimwhich consists wholly of a first-person narrative spoken by Moshe Rabbenu himself). Says the Baal HaTurimthe reason for this is thatwhen Benei Yisrael sinned with the Egelthe Golden CalfMoshe Rabbenu said to Ribono Shel Olam: 'If You do not forgive themerase me from the book that You have written'. Thus, the name of MosheRabbenu does not appear in this Parashainstead, the main focus of the Parashah is the Kohanim.

Among eight special garments that a Kohen Gadol wears, one of them is a robe with alternating pomegranates and bells fastened to the bottom in order to make a sound before he enters the Kodesh Kedashim (literally the holiest place in the world).

Did HaKadosh Barukh Hu not know that the Kohen Gadol was approaching that he had to be announced?

The Midrash Raba answers this question.

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai said: There are four things which HaKadosh Barukh Hu hates, and I too dislike them... [the fourth thing is,] one who enters his house suddenly (withtout announcing himself, usually by knocking....)--all the more so when he enters his neighbor's house....

From the bells and pomegranates on the Kohen Gadol's robe, we learn to knock before entering a room in order to show respect to those inside. Yet, we can learn even another lesson from these bells and pomegranates on the Kohen Gadol's robe.  While the bells signify the use for our ability to make sound, the pomegranates represent silence; they do not make any noise.

There are times in life when staying quiet is the smarter course to be taken. Haz''al teach us that if words are worth one coin, silence is worth two. Sometimes it is better not to speak.

But why? Wouldn't it be more helpful to speak up and clarify things? Staying silent is the last thing that can help a situation! The more I explain, the more clear things become….no?

In the Talmud, there is a concept known as 'shetika ke'hoda'ah'. Silence is accepting. When somebody would speak in court and nobody would object, it is considered as if they agree to the verdict. What we have to understand about being silent in the face of life is that when we do so, we acknowledge a situation and we are accepting of it. When we feel the need to respond, we are essentially saying we object, we think we know better. Sometimes it is not our job to respond, sometimes we have to give in and agree to the challenges we face. By doing so, we are able to move forward.

Rabbi Akiva and his students were on a voyage where they had to cross a body of water in order to proceed. As the students reached the other side, there was no sign of Rabbi Akiva; they thought he drowned. As the students began to mourn the passing of their beloved Rav, Rabbi Akiva swims onto shore. Amazed, they ask him,' Rebbi! We thought the waters took you! How did you manage to make it out alive?' 'Simple,' he answered. 'I held on to a plank of wood and anytime a wave came, a bent over instead of fighting it.'

From Rabbi Akiva we learn a powerful lesson. When we encounter a wave in life, we shouldn't try to resist it; it will take over us. Instead, we should bend over and accept what is in front of us, and once the wave passes over, we can continue to swim. This is exactly the reason why Aharon HaKohen is deserving to wear the bells and pomegranates. He embodies this silence of acceptance that is so important for us to have. When he hears the news that his two dear sons were burnt to death because they sinned, the very day the Mishkan was being dedicated, the pasuk says 'VaYidom Aharon'. Aharon was silent. Upon hearing possibly the worst news in his life, Aharon HaKohen didn't object, he didn't get upset at HaShem, he didn't scream and cry and pity himself. Aharon HaKohen didn't try to change what happened; he accepted what happened with trust that this was what Ribono Shel Olam wanted for him. This is why he was fitting to be the Kohen Gadol. This is why he was deserving of an entire Parasha dedicated to him.

In life, we are going to have to go through what we have to go through, we might as well do it in a positive, happy way! Accept what your life is, and think of the best way to go through with it. I assure you that fighting it won't get you farther than if you were to go with the flow and genuinely make the best of what you were given. If we even realized how many berakhot we are given in life, we would never dare to speak up and ask otherwise, we would be silent in deep humility and appreciation for what we have been given.

This week, HaRav Bakhshi had taught us that a the character of a person who is strong is not a stong voice-it is a strong mind. A person  who wishes to strengthen themselves, it is not through their voice that they will achieve this--it is through the power of the mind, through trying to understand the situation and mentally coping with it, rather than momentaraily blocking it or diverting it by the 'power' of speech. Silence is acceptance. Acceptance makes us better people. Silence therefore, has the ability to make us better people.

Be'Ezrat HaShem may we all develop the humility to understand that HaKadosh Barukh Hu knows what is best for us and constructs our life based on this, and it is not our job to object and try to change it. May we all learn to accept what we are given graciously and make the best of it!

Although silence is a beautiful thing, one of the times where we should not be staying quiet is during Zemirot Shabbat Kodesh! Sing your heart out loud!

Wishing everybody a Shabbat Shalom uMevorakh!!
Ariellah Samimi

Based on teachings of Rebbitzen Ginzberg, Rebbetzin Stern and Rav Millstein

Make Your Neshamah Fly!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Parashat Teroumah- HaShem Resides Inside

Parashat Teroumah- HaShem Resides Inside

 8. And they shall make for Me a sanctuary and I will dwell within them ח. וְעָשׂוּ לִי מִקְדָּשׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּי בְּתוֹכָם:
Parashat Teromah speaks about all the elements that come together to create the Mishkan. HaKadosh Barukh Hu instructs us on how to build the Aron Kodesh, the Menorah, the Shulhan with the Lehem HaPanim. We are told how to weave the beautiful fabrics of the Mishkan walls and how to build the Efod (Kohen HaGadol's breastplate). We are instructed to build such a place for the Shekhina of HaShem to rest in it.

Wait, no. The pasuk says the Shekihna of HaShem will rest in them.


Says the Shelah HaKadosh, the verse does not say, 'and I will dwell within it,' but 'and I will dwell within them' --within each and every one of them. When we build for ourselves a Mikdash, a sanctuary, we are really creating a place for HaKadosh Barukh Hu to rest within us, literally inside us.

The Midrah HaGadol explains that the materials donated for the Mishkan correspond to the components of the human being. 'Gold' is the soul; 'silver,' the body; 'copper,' the voice; 'blue,' the veins; 'purple,' the flesh; 'red,' the blood; 'flax,' the intestines; 'goat hair,' the hair; 'ram skins dyed red,' the skin of the face; 'tahash skins,' the scalp; 'shittim wood,' the bones; 'oil for lighting,' the eyes; 'spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense,' the nose, mouth and palate; 'shoham stones and gemstones for setting,' the kidneys and the heart.

Each and every person in Kelal Yisrael is a Mikdash in themselves. We take HaShem with us everywhere we go. To access HaShem, we don't have to take ourselves all the way to a specific location or building to speak with Him or bond with Him, He very much resides inside us—if we allow Him in.

When we realize that our bodies house something so holy, we can ascertain that our actions will reflect this knowledge and awareness. If we have an exquisite bottle of wine, would we pour it into a plastic cup to drink? Certainly not! We would use our best glass to pour this wine into since we know we are putting something important inside. Likewise, we must sanctify ourselves because we are a receptacle of something so great and so holy, we are receptacles of HaShem's presence.

Think to yourself. Am I deserving of the Master of the Universe to place part of Himself within me? Am I a kosher and complete Mikdash fitting for Ribono Shel Olam to dwell inside? Many would be too ashamed to admit the truth to themselves. When we start thinking of ourselves as a mere vessel to contain Shekhinat HaShem Yitbarakh, we become humbled, we become holy, we become a true Mikdash.

HaShem is telling us, build a Mikdash and I, in all My Honor and all My Glory will dwell within you, flesh and blood. THE KING OF THE UNIVERSE IS WILLING TO PLACE PART OF HIMSELF WITHIN YOU, IF ONLY YOU TAKE THE INITIATIVE TO BUILD THAT MIKDASH. If you make the decision to make yourself holy, to elevate yourself, HaKadosh Barukh Hu is already there waiting to come inside. If we open ourselves up, He guarantees that He is right there to meet us. HASHEM'S HAND IS STRETCHED OUT, ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS TAKE IT!

Be'Ezrat HaShem, may we all develop the awareness that we have inside us a helek Elokit mi'Ma'al, a piece of HaShem from Above, and the more we open ourselves to let HaShem in, the greater a Mikdash we can become. The pasuk says 'Pit'hu Li Petach Ke'Hudo Shel MahatVa'ani Eftakh Lakh Petah ke'Ulam Shel Melech,' If you open a hole the size of the eye of a needle, then I will enlarge that hole to the size of a kings palace. All we have to do it take just a little bit of initiative and HaShem will surely help us do the rest. Be'Ezrat HaShem may we all have the koah to do so!

Shabbat Shalom uMevorakh!!!!
Ariellah Samimi
Make Your Neshamah Fly!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Parashat Mishpatim-Not So Small After All….

Parashat Mishpatim-Not So Small After All….

Rules of the City of New York - Title 9
Procurement Policy Board Rules

   §1-01  Use of Language in These Rules.

   (a)  Singular-plural and gender rules. In these Rules, words in the singular number include the plural and those in the plural include the singular. (Yes, you a reading a Devar Torah right now….). Words of a particular gender include any gender and the neuter. When the sense so indicates, words of the neuter gender refer to any gender.

   (b)  Titles. (if you're bored already, skip the next two points….)The titles to chapters, sections, subdivisions, and paragraphs, or other titles contained in these Rules, are for convenience and reference only and in no way define, describe, extend, or limit the scope or intent of the substantive provision to which the title applies unless the context so requires.

   (c)  Listing(s) not indicative of order of preference. Unless otherwise stated, a listing of factors, criteria, or subjects in these Rules does not constitute an order of preference. (Okay, I'm not sure how you were physically able to read this far….but keep going….)

   (d)  Meanings. The words defined in this section shall have the meanings set forth below whenever they appear in these Rules unless the context in which they are used clearly requires a different meaning, or a different definition is prescribed for a particular provision.

Blah, blah, blah....BORING!

Nobody likes reading boring instructions. Who would want to read rule, after rule, after rule? I don't know about you, but that's certainly not what I do on my free time. Yet, Parashat Mishpatim is full of laws and commandments that we are meant to read and follow to its precise detail. How can we keep them if we can barely even read through them once? Sometimes I'm just not in the mood to read all about the sale of slaves or about theft of sheep and oxen….

Even if these laws seem somewhat 'dry' to us, if we realized how important it is to keep each and every single one to its finest detail, we would even memorize the entire Parasha! What we have to understand is that the missvot we are given aren't as simple as just reward and punishment. We might say to our selves So big deal, I won't bother with the trivial little missvot in this Parasha, like feeding animal carcasses to the dogs if it's not kosher to eat, and I'll face the consequent punishment for it, I'll live… But if we really knew what a big deal each and every little sin is, and alternately, how powerful each and every missva we do is, we would be much more careful in the manner in which we behave.

When we were fortunate enough to have a Beit Mikdash, when a person sinned just one 'tiny' sin, they were obligated to bring an entire animal sacrifice known as a korban to make up for it. Since we use the concept of korban so often, maybe we can forget what a big deal it really is, it's an entire procedure. Just think about it. One 'little' sin like lashon hara and you had to take a high quality cow or ox from your own personal possesion, or go out and buy one, wake up early one morning and trek across Eres Yisrael to the Beit HaMikdash with this massive animal and wait in line along with thousands of other people (and their massive cows) until it would finally be your turn at the mizbeah (the altar) if you were lucky enough to be taken that day (if you weren't, you would have to find accommodations for the night for you….and your cow). So you finally make it to the towering mizbeah. Now the process can finally begin. First, the animal for the korban is brought and must be checked for blemishes (a process known ashakravah), then something known as semikhah takes place, where the owner of the korban places his hands on the head of the animal and presses down with all of his strength and begins to confess his sins. Picture yourself doing this. It is not an easy thing to do; not physically and not emotionally. Just imagine yourself with you hands on a cows head pushing with all your might, screaming out with regret and tears what you have down wrong. You are trying to concentrate deeply and, meanwhile, the animal is moving and kicking, and making wild noises. A few minutes later, this large cow is held down so it could be slaughtered because of your sin, and is put to death (shehitah). Picture to yourself this animal being decapitated in front of your very eyes. Now blood starts to flow out everywhere, and part of it is received in a vessel to be sanctified (a process known as kabalah), while the rest is left to flow. The Kohen then carries this blood (halakhah) and then applies and sprinkles it in a ritual way(zerikah) and the rest of the animal parts are burnt on the altar as a korban/sacrifice to HaKadosh Barukh Hu (haktarah), while some other parts are left to be eaten (akhilah). Imagine the scent of burning flesh, of an animal turned to ashes before our eyes. What a humbling experience; it could have been us.

This entire procedure for one small sin. Does it seem small anymore? I don't think so. Read the Parasha again. Would you dare even think about transgressing one of these 'random' or 'unimportant' missvot? I don't think so. We do not have any concept of how profound the effects of our missvot and aveirot are. It is not just about mechanically doing something we don't understand; there are deep spiritual implications behind every single one of our actions. If we do something even small wrong, look at the entire procedure we must go through in order to correct it. This is no small matter.

The effects of our actions are far-reaching. Be'ezrat HaShem after 120 years, we will be judged based on the 'Hok u'Mishpat' we have accomplished in our lives. Hok refers to the missvot and aveirot we have done and their respective reward and punishment. So what would Mishpat possibly mean? Hok pretty much seems to cover it all…

Mishpat refers to the impact we had on other people's lives through our own personal actions. Mishpat is the far-reaching effect we had on other people when we had no idea that the 'small' missva we did had saved another Jew. Even the smallest action we take upon ourselves can have a profound effect on others. It is no coincidence that this Parasha is called Parashat Mishpatim. These seemingly unimportant laws become the basis for how we treat each other, for the effect we have on other people's lives. This is why we must be extra careful with precisely these laws….

Rebbetzin Ginzberg offers a wonderful mashal to beautifully capture this concept. She explains to us that life is often like a play. When you are standing on stage, the light shines so strong on you that you cannot see the audience, and you assume nobody sees you. But this is actually the very moment that everybody is looking directly at you, the spotlight is on you! No matter how big or how small your line in the play, everybody is listening. And sometimes, it is precisely that one little line that twists the whole plot and changes the story.
Likewise, even the smallest thing that you do, you would be surprised who is paying attention, and you would be even more surprised how much you may have inspired them to grow. Most times we never even realize how much we can affect others; make sure the effect you have on those around you is a positive one.

Be'ezrat HaShem, may we all develop this awareness that even the smallest things we do can influence others greatly even when we do not know it, and that we should be positive role models for those around us. Now that we understand the power of a korban, today, when we don't have a Beit Hamikdash and offer Tefillot in place of korbanot, let us realize what the strength of Tefillah is, and strive to daven with more strength and closeness to HaKadosh Barukh Hu, all to merit the coming of Mashiah where we can once again offer korbanot to HaShem Yitbarakh, Amen!

This Devar Torah is dedicated to each and every person who had a deep and profound effect on my own life by emulating the Ways of HaShem and did not even know it….

Shabbat Shalom ve Hodesh Adar Tov uMevorakh!
Ariellah Samimi

Make Your Neshamah Fly!