Thursday, August 16, 2018

Shoftim - Finding the Center

Why is the highest court of the Jewish people found in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount? What does the verse mean when it says that we are to do as the judges tell us 'from that place Hashem shall choose?' What does the verse mean when it says not to turn away from their word neither to the right nor the left? Why is there a reference to the 'nations around them' in the verse speaking about the appointment of a king? What is the concept of his being 'chosen by Hashem' and how does it relate to the 'place chosen by Hashem' in the previous discussion?

Find out in this week's parsha podcast.

Running time: 24:10

Friday, August 10, 2018

Re'eh - Rest and Motion

What is the concept of 'Atzeres' - stopping from motion and melacha? What is the difference between Atzeres in the context of the number seven, versus the number eight? Why are the aspects of 50 and 8 left out of our parsha - no mention of Shavuos as the 50th day, and no mention of the holiday of Shmini Atzeres? What is the concept of the Shalosh Regalim - three festivals? Why are they referred to as 'feet' and 'steps?' What is the lesson of the motion of the feet insofar as it involves both rest and motion?

Find out in this week's parsha podcast.

Running time: 20:09

Friday, July 27, 2018

Vaeschanan - Hashem Answers Prayers

What is the meaning of the verse that says 'What great nation has a God so close each time they call to Him?' Does Hashem answer every prayer? What is the difference between prayer and repentance? What is unique about the wars of the Jewish people? How long does it take for Hashem to answer our prayers?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 25:40

Friday, July 20, 2018

Devarim-Tisha B'av - Understanding Esav

Why is Moshe told not to fight with the descendants of Esav? Why is King David told the same thing? Why would they have wanted to fight with them? What is the special merit of Esav? Why does the offspring of Esav have the power to destroy the  Temple? Why does Yakov tell Esav to go ahead on his own? What does this represent for the offspring of each of them? When is the ultimate showdown between these two powers?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 26:45

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Matos-Masei - Lottery of Life

Why was it important to give out the portions of Israel through a lottery and also asking the Urim v'tumim? Why couldn't Moshe himself determine the unique role of each person and tribe without these tools? What is the concept of the land of Israel as the 'helpmate' of the people of Israel? How does one's portion in Israel correspond to his unique purpose in life? How does one elevate the land of Israel to higher levels of holiness?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 29:18

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

MBD vs. Yishmael & MBY vs. Edom (part 3)

One of the most important questions we can ask has to do with the gemara in Succah 52A, which is (I believe) the only place in the Shas which mentions Moshiach ben Yosef. There, the gemara tells us that Moshiach ben Yosef will die in the war of Gog Umagog (according to one opinion). Interestingly (and we'll see more about this later), the gemara tells us that when Moshiach ben Dovid sees that MBY has died, he asks Hashem that he be spared, and not suffer the same fate. To this, Hashem responds that Dovid Hamelech (MBD's forebear) has already davened on his behalf and Hashem has already agreed to grant MBD life.

2 questions:

1. Why does Moshiach ben Yosef have to die (according to this opinion)?
2. Why is Moshiach ben Dovid concerned that he might die, as well?

There is a commentary on the gemara called "Einei Shmuel" who explains both of these issues.

here is my free translation:

"The Maharsha writes that when he [MBD] sees that Moshiach ben Yosef is killed in the war of Gog Umagog, he will be fearful lest he be killed as well. see there. We need to understand the concept of this fear - just because this one [MBY] is killed, does he [MBD] also have reason to fear this?

However, this is explained in Asarah Mamaros (ten teachings), the teaching of 'chakor din' part 4, chapter 16, that the concept of Moshiach ben Yosef being killed is because of the sin of his ancestor - Yeravam ben Nevat. He [MBY] will be killed to atone for him. see there. This is also explained in Megaleh Amukos 158, 159 and 252. see there.

And examine Emek Hamelech page 25, that the soul of Yeravam flew out of Yeravam right before the sin, and that soul will be in Moshiach ben Yosef in the future.

Behold they [the sages] said in Shabbos (56B): R' Y. said in the name of Rav: When Dovid said to Mefiboshes [the son of Shaul] that he and Tziva should split the field, a heavenly voice came out and said 'Rechavam [Dovid's grandson] and Yeravam will split the kingdom [of the Jewish people].' R' Y. said in the name of Rav: If Dovid had not listened to the Lashon Hara (gossip), the kingdom of Dovid would not have been split, and the people of Israel would not have served idols, and we would not have been exiled from our land. see there in Rashi.

Based on this, the main cause of the sin of Yeravam was Dovid. Being that Moshiach ben Yosef is killed for the sin of Yeravam; which ultimately was caused by Dovid, we can understand Moshiach ben Dovid's fear that he would also die. To this Hashem reassures him that he will live."

end piece of "Einei Shmuel."

We see many remarkable things here. I would like to point out that MBY is not just an individual, but also a process. The same is true of MBD. So when we see that there is an idea of death surrounding the individual MBY, we can also say that the MBY process involves death. When we speak of the process of MBD, in contrast, we can see that there could be a concern of death in that process, as well (just like MBD himself is concerned), but we are assured that there is no death there.

Another example of this is in the redemption of Mitzrayim (Egypt) - the last two plagues - darkness and death of the firstborn - these two correspond to the last two sefiros - Yesod and Malchus. Paralleling this, MBY corresponds to Yesod and MBD corresponds to Malchus. It is remarkable to note that during the plague of darkness 4/5ths of the Jewish people died. This corresponds to Moshiach ben Yosef and his process. When it came to the death of the firstborn - the Jewish firstborns should have also died! They were only saved because Hashem gave them a specific directive to place the blood on the doorposts - only this act would spare them of death. This corresponds to the aspect of Moshiach ben Dovid - where death could happen... but doesn't.

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I will leave you now with a few more questions we need to ask:

According to the opinion (the GR"A) who says that MBY will not die, what happens when MBD comes - does MBY step down? do they both rule? Can there be two kings with one crown?

What is the depth of what we're witnessing today - with the ingathering of the exiles it seems that the Ashkenazic and Sefardic streams are mixing in Israel to some extent - do the rules still hold true? What happens when MBY-Ashkenaz and MBD-Sefard come together?

Can we surmise which stream will produce the actual Moshiach ben Yosef and the actual Moshiach ben Dovid?

What is the significance of the fact that Yeravam (a fallen MBY) was the leader of the ten tribes, as opposed to Rechavam (MBD) who was the leader of Yehuda and Binyomin? Can we see a parallel that can apply to MBY-Ashkenaz and MBD-Sefard?

Why is it that in the geulah of Purim - we seem to have bypassed the problem of the Jewish people's death - which Haman attempted - and which would correspond to MBY - and we went straight to the aspect of MBD where the Jewish people are ascendent and saved from death?

What does that mean for us, as we face off with the same Persian foe? Can we expect things to be similar today?

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

MBD vs. Yishmael & MBY vs. Edom (part 2)

Here are a few more questions that I've been wondering about lately.

Why did Hashem decide that in 1948 we would lose the old city of Jerusalem and access to the Har Habayis? Why did we have to experience such an unbelievable miracle in 1967 with the re-unification? Why couldn't we just get it all at once?

There is a famous story quoted by the sefer Lev Eliyahu (Volume Shemos - Parshas Yisro p. 172) about the Chofetz Chaim. I'm now quoting directly from the sefer, which is a quote of the words of R' Elya Lopian (my own translation from the original Hebrew):

"I heard in London from the holy mouth of R. Elchanan Wasserman Zt'l, who said it in the name of the Chofetz Chaim ztvk'l, that our sages say that the war of Gog and Magog will be three times. At the time, it was after the first world war, and the Chofetz Chaim said that this war [that had just occurred] was the first Gog Umagog war. [He said that] in another approximately 25 years there would be another world war, which would make the first one look like nothing. Afterwards there will be a third Gog Umagog war - 'a time of trouble for Jacob, from which they will be saved.'"

I've always wondered - what is the idea of three wars? Obviously the first two have already passed. Is it possible that the first two had to do with MBY and therefore took place in the lands of Edom, affecting mostly Ashkenazic Jewry? Is it possible that we are witnessing currently the the third Gog Umagog war already - and it is connected to MBD and the world of Yishmael; hence the tremendous upheavals in the Arab world?

And how does Eretz Yisroel play into all this - it was spared from Hitler's wrath in WWII - and yet it seems to be center stage right now.

Other questions to ponder:

Why did the Ashkenazic world experience such religious devastation - being ravaged by the reform and conservative movements? Why did the Sephardic world not have so much infiltration - and largely remained either religious or traditional?

Why has Israel seemed to almost completely keep out the elements of the reform and conservative movements? And yet, why has Israel for the most part been ruled by Ashkenazic leaders who are irreligious?

Could there be a radical difference between what an MBY war of Gog Umagog looks like and an MBD war of Gog Umagog looks like? Is there any precedent for such a difference in previous examples of geulah/redemption? Are there any sources in the gemara for such a difference?

Monday, July 9, 2018

MBD vs. Yishmael & MBY vs. Edom (part 1)

Sometimes a very simple concept can have very vast significance and a far reaching impact.

The sefer Kol Hator says that Moshiach ben Dovid corresponds to Yishmael, while Moshiach ben Yosef corresponds to Edom.

If we take this a bit further, MBD corresponds to the Sefardic world, which made their home in the Arab lands. MBY corresponds to the Ashkenazic world, which made its home in the lands of Edom.

There are so many more things to say based on this.

For now, I'll let you all mull it over.

But I'll leave you with a question that might be explained in light of this idea (and remember that because reality is holographic, MBD is always contained in MBY and vice versa).

Why did WWI and WWII seem to have it's strongest immediate impact on the lands of Edom and the Ashkenazic world?

Friday, July 6, 2018

Pinchas - Humble Leadership

What prompted Moshe to ask Hashem to appoint a leader over the Jewish people for when he would leave the world? Why was Joshua appointed instead of Moshe's sons? What was special about the fact that Joshua would 'arrange the benches and the mats' for Moshe's students? Why were the sages of Joshua's generation embarrassed as a result of Joshua's accomplishments? Who is a truly wise person?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 27:19

Friday, June 29, 2018

Balak - Consistent Spirituality

Why did Bilaam attain prophecy if he was just an 'ordinary' magician? Why do the nations of the world complain and how does Bilaam serve as their prophet? What is the difference between the approach of Bilaam and the nations as opposed to Moshe and the Jewish people? How does Moshe have the ability to remain humble despite his greatness, while Bilaam immediately falls?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast. (Audio)

Running time: 19:49