Why did Moshe cover his face at the sight of the burning bush? Was this the right thing for him to do? Why did some sages see this as something he was punished for? Why did some sages see this as something he was rewarded for? How does one find the balance between Love and Respect for Hashem, and one's fellows?
Why does Yakov want to reveal the Ketz-end of times? Why does he only reveal each of his sons' special character traits? What is behind their response of Shema Yisrael? What does the gemara mean when it tells us that Hashem says that if we come to His house, He will come to our house? What is the idea that the 'feet of a person are guarantors who lead him where he is meant to go?' What is the meaning of the skull of the drowned man that floated upon the water?
What is the difference between the kingship of Yosef and the kingship of Yehuda? What is the difference between the conscience of the mind and the conscience of the heart? What is the ideal dynamic between these two aspects and how they motivate us in our service of Hashem? What is represented by Yehuda stepping toward Yosef?
What is the unique nature of Yosef's Bitachon-Trust in Hashem? Why is he called to task and punished by Hashem with two extra years in jail as a result of his interaction with Pharaoh's cupbearer? Why does he seem to give all credit to Hashem in some circumstances, and in others clearly take action on his own? Why does Yosef send his brothers through such an emotional roller coaster? How is Yosef able to read the signs Hashem has given him?
What is the concept of Yibum-Levirate marriage? Why does it apply to those who are inheritors? What is the concept of inheritance? Why did Onen not want to 'establish the name' of his deceased brother Er? What was spiritual failing of Zerach that later manifested in Achan? How can we make spiritual space for others?
What is the concept of Yaakov being ‘left alone’ to battle the angel? What is the idea of Hashem being ‘alone’ when Moshiach comes? How does this parallel Yaakov being alone? How do we understand the idea of evil existing in the world if Hashem is Good? Who is truly wise, rich, powerful and honored? How does one acquire intrinsic greatness? Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast. Running time: 30:04
Why did Yakov need to obtain the blessings of Esav through trickery? How do we understand this in light of Yakov's unique attribute being Emes-Truth? What is the idea of Yakov's appearance being the same as Adam's? Why is the snake described as being 'crafty?' How does one properly employ the ideas of simplicity and trickery?
What is the depth of the idea that Hashem blessed Avraham 'bakol' - 'in all?' Why is this the preface to Avraham sending Eliezer to find a wife for his song Yitzchak? What is the concept of 'all,' and how does it relate to the idea of blessing? What is the unique nature of the Jewish people's mission in the world? What is the idea that the Jewish people are first referred to as Hashem's daughter, then sister, then mother? How does this parallel the relationship between a father and son?
What is the idea of Hashem revealing Himself to Avraham after he performs the bris (circumcision)? Why does Hashem not seem to say anything? What are the problems with the Rambam's understanding that the entire interaction of Avraham with the angels was the revelation? When does one experience a vision of an angel? Is that at the same level as a revelation of Hashem Himself? What was the purpose of Hashem's revelation to Avraham at this time?
What is the significance of Avraham's test to leave his birthplace? Why does Hashem not specify which land He is guiding Avraham toward? Does Avraham know where he is going? How is able to follow Hashem's command if he indeed does not know where he's headed? How can we know where Hashem is leading each of us individually?
Why did the sages include the beginning of Avraham's story in the end of Noach's story? Why does this type of crossover seem to happen often in the Torah portions? Why does the Torah start with the story of Adam instead of starting with the story of Avraham or Yaakov? Where is Avraham originally from? Why does Hashem refer to having taken Avraham out of Ur Kasdim in the same way as He says He took us out of Egypt? What are the different ways in which Hashem guides us?
How was the Torah originally written and collated? Being that Moshe is the one writing the Torah, why doesn't he begin with a statement that Hashem told this to him, as we find by other prophets? What is contained in the Torah? Where are the secrets of the Torah to be found?
Why does Hashem invite Moshe and Yehoshua to the entrance of the Tabernacle? What is the song that He teaches them? What is the idea of the song? Why is the 'stiff necked' nature of the Jewish people the very reason Hashem chose us? What is the power of a song? Why are the Jewish people meant to learn this song? What purpose does it serve? Why is there a melody without words that is interspersed throughout the song? Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast. Running time: 18:11
What are the two aspects in any relationship? What is the idea of fear of Hashem? How do we retain our commitments in our relationships? What is the power of affirmation? What is the idea of 'upholding the Torah?' Find out in this week's parsha podcast. Running time: 20:33
What does the midrash mean when it says that 'a person can not see their own blemish?' What are the primary causes of the tzora'as affliction? How does the negativity embodied in speaking gossip spread? How does speaking gossip lead to denying Hashem's existence? What is the rectification of this, and how does it lead us to the times of Moshiach?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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.
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.
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?
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?
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
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?
Why do the Jewish people sing a song at the end of their 40 years for the miraculous well that accompanied them throughout that time? What were the awesome miracles that occurred at this time that paralleled the miracles at the Yam Suf (sea of reeds)? Why were the waters of the well used to inform the Jewish people about the miracle that had been done for them? Why did the mountain on the side of Israel extend out toward the mountain outside of Israel? Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast. Running time: 21:06
How were the sons of Korach saved from the depths of Gehenom? Where do we see their 'thoughts of repentance?' How did Moshe spark these very thoughts? Why does Korach return to life in the future world? What is the lesson for us in all of this? Find out in this week's parsha podcast. Running time: 24:26
Who was included in the decree of wandering and dying in the wilderness for 40 years? What is the idea that some were decreed for death, but in the end did not die? How does this parallel the darkness of exile and the claim of the nations of the world to have replaced the Jewish people as chosen by God? What is the idea behind the atonement of Yom Kippur? How can one gain atonement even without repentance? What is the power of waiting?
Why do the nations of the world ask the Jewish people to be their leaders? What is behind the response of the Jewish people when they say that they prefer the encampments and flags of the wilderness? How does this relate to the holiday of Shavuos? What is the idea of power? How does one direct and protect one's power? Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast. Running time: 22:44
What is the concept of faith as opposed to 'keri' - happenstance? How does the challenge of faith apply someone who already has faith in Hashem? Why is the punishment for lack of faith worse than just not doing Hashem's will? What is the unique challenge of our times - the lead up to the Messianic age?
Why does the Jewish people run out of Egypt? Why are we not allowed to have any semblence of Chametz (leavening) in our possession during Pesach? What is the understanding of the aspect of counting to Shavuos? Why when we get to Shavuos are we enjoined to bring an offering that is Chametz? What are the two stages in leaving Egypt? How can we use these lessons in our efforts to leave the power of the Evil Inclination? How can we understand the time of Sefiras Ha'omer? Find out in this week's parsha podcast. Running time: 26:03
Why are the countries of Egypt and Canaan pointed out for their moral decadence in regards to forbidden marital relationships? Why does the Torah seem to indicate that this is true because the Jewish people were there? Why must the Jewish people encounter such moral impurity? What is the net effect on each of the sides - holiness and impurity? What is the lesson for ourselves in the times before Moshiach? How can we defend ourselves from the decadence of our current society? Find out in this week's parsha podcast. Running time: 26:38
What can we uncover by looking at the punishment the Torah metes out for the sin of gossip? Why is he sent out of the encampment when he is stricken with spiritual leprosy (tzara'as)? Why does he call out 'impure, impure?' Why are the merits of the one who spoke gossip taken away and transferred to the one he spoke about? What is the depth of the concept of loving one's neighbor as oneself? How does one develop that love? Find out in this week's parsha podcast. Running time: 29:12
What is the construct of the form through which Hashem creates the world and we create the Mishkan (Tabernacle)? How does this also parallel the way we receive the Torah, and the final war of Armageddon that precedes the construction of the third Temple? What is the aspect of Binah, which is the 8th aspect, and how does it relate to the first seven? Find out in this week's parsha podcast. Running time: 25:38
Why is the entire body of customs we perform on the first night of Pesach referred to as the Seder (Order)? Why does the goat (that Abba bought for two coins) die and never come back to life if it represents the Jewish people? Why is the building of the Beis Hamikdash (temple) mentioned in Dayeinu if it was not built until 480 years after the exodus? What is the core concept of Pesach and how does it relate to the concept of Moshiach ben Dovid? Find out in this week's parsha podcast. Running time: 23:07
Why does Aharon, who the Torah itself describes as a righteous prophet, require extra encouragement in regards to a sacrifice he brings but does not benefit from? Why do we find this type of approach in regards to other areas as well? Why does the soldier going out to battle, who our sages say is specifically someone without sin, have a process for marrying the beautiful woman on the battle field? What is the correct approach to dealing with our human frailties? Find out in this week's parsha podcast. Running time: 23:44
What is the significance of Moshe's not entering the Mishkan when the cloud fills it? Does he do that because he's unable to enter, or because he chooses not to enter? What is the pattern of Moshe's standing back, and why is he chosen for this trait? How can we use this idea in our own lives? Find out in this week's parsha podcast. Running time: 21:58
Why does the Torah tell us of Betzalel's family origins? What is the significance of the 'intellect, wisdom and knowledge' with which he was endowed? Why was it important that the mishkan (santuary) be built with these aspects? How does it parallel the creation of the world? Why does the Torah stress that Hashem was the source of these powers of Betzalel? How does the mishkan serve to atone for the sin of the Golden Calf? What was the difference between the way the Jews brought their gold for the calf, as opposed to how they brought their gold for the mishkan? Find out in this week's parsha podcast. Runing time: 25:01
What is the meaning of the verse that says that "to You, Hashem, is charity, while we have embarrassment? How does this verse apply in the context of charity? How does charity transform curses into blessings? How does the verse apply to the contrast between how we behave in defiance of God, versus how He treats us? Find out in this week's parsha podcast. Running time: 20:55
What is the concept of Olive Oil? Why does the Torah specifically ask us
to use it for the lighting of the Menorah in the sanctuary? Why are the
Jewish people compared to an olive? How does this reflect the special
nature of the Jewish people as a 'light to the nations?' How does the
study of Torah serve to shine that light?
What is the difference between the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and the
Mikdash (Temple)? Why does one constantly move, while one is only in a
single location? What is the difference between the joy of the month of
Adar and Purim as opposed to the month of Nissan and Pesach (Passover)?
What is the depth behind the two ways people gave to the Mishkan - some
from heirlooms passed for generations for this purpose, others from
wealth they had just obtained? What is the difference between Moshiach
ben Yosef and Moshiach ben Dovid?
What is the idea behind the prohibition of lending with interest? What
is the end of result of the rich man who makes his money by lending with
interest? Why are we exhorted not to lend with interest, and told that
if we do so, the money will end up in the hands of our enemies? Why does
one's field produce a greater crop when they give a tithe to charity?
What is the idea behind Hashem being compared to a Lion Roaring as He
reveals Himself on Mount Sinai? When is Hashem referred to as the 'King
of the Nations?' What is the idea behind the mountain shaking and then
the boundaries of the Torah? What is the concept of fear of Hashem? Why
are the Jewish people, the Temple and Hashem all referred to as a Lion?
What is the concept of rejoicing in trembling? Why was the entire world
silent when Hashem said the words, 'I am Hashem your God?' How does this
relate to the times of Moshiach?
Why is the Jewish people sometimes compared to a dove, and other times
compared to other animals (Lion, wolf, snake)? Why does the Torah choose
the singular form when speaking of the Egyptians chasing after the
Jewish people? In what way is the challenge presented by the enemies of
Israel greater for them than 100 fasts and prayers? Why does Hashem
create a challenging situation after we have already been redeemed?
What is the analogy of the month in regards to the kings of Israel? What
is the significance of King Solomon (Shlomo) being the 15th generation
of kings from Avraham Avinu? Why is his throne so similar to the throne
of Hashem Himself, as it were? What is the concept of Shalom as it comes
into play in this context? What is the depth behind the special mitzvah
of sanctifying the moon?
Why was the Nile and all the water of Egypt struck first with the plague of Blood? Why did Hashem warn them first before the plague? What is the mistaken understanding of reality that is intrinsic to all idol worship? How did the plagues come to rectify that? Why did Moshe need to show gratitude toward the Nile if it was Hashem Himself who had caused the Nile to be calm when he was an infant floating in its waters? What is the idea behind the teaching that all of the waters would turn to blood for the Egyptians unless they paid to buy it from the Israelites?
Why does baby Moshe refuse to suckle from the milk of an Egyptian, and
only agrees to his own mother's Hebrew milk? Why mustn't the 'mouth that
speaks to God drink of impure milk?' What is the significance of
Pharaoh and his daughter 'kissing' baby Moshe? Why does Moshe pull off
Pharaoh's crown as he sits on his lap? Why does he then become 'heavy of
tongue' as a result of putting a hot coal into his mouth? What is the
significance of the mouth in all of these contexts? What is the concept
of redemption and what does it come to prove?