Revach L'Neshama RSS feed for - Section: MOADIM Category:AROUND THE YEAR Copyright 2007, Revach L'Neshama en-US Revach L'Neshama Logo 144 31 Wed, 01 Dec 2021 03:00:00 +0000 240 Tu B'Shvat - The Tragedy Of The Free Leaf

"Ki Hadam Eitz HaSadeh", a person is like a tree in the field. There are many comparisons between a tree and a person that are obvious to all, especially in area of nurturing and raising children as well as our relationship with our own father in Shamayim. Rav Yerachmiel Krem in his sefer "V'Talmudo B'Yado" brings one especially poignant similarity.

Many people, especially the young, strive for freedom, much like a leaf om a tree dreaming of breaking away from the tree and soaring and floating around the world. The leaf does not want to be stuck to its spot all its life on this massive tree with thousands of leaves just like. It gazes at the open sky and the beautiful surroundings and dreams of breaking away.

Finally the day comes and with the help of a blast of wind from the world around it, the grip of the aging tree weakens and the leaf is shorn from its roots. He is finally at peace as he and soars through the sky with nothing holding him back.

This moment that he waited a lifetime for, very quickly becomes turbulent. The same wind that set him freed now bounces him around in the rough air. After thrashing around for a while, this leave's dream comes crashing to the ground as he finds himself deposited on the street. With no nourishment from the tree, he quickly starts to dry up. Worse yet is the embarrassment of being trampled by the people above, who don't think twice about the leave and his shattered dreams. With a little luck this leave will be put out of his misery quickly when the street cleaner comes and gathers all the fallen leaves and gets rid of them forever.

The comparison is obvious and need not be elaborated on. The lesson is, to hold on to our roots, the Eitz Chaim that has kept us alive so many years through so many turbulent times. The tree is guaranteed to always survive as will all the leaves that manage to hang on tight.

We can take comfort in that the comparison ends there. The one major difference is that when the leave realizes his huge mistake and his misguided life long ambition, it is too late. Nothing can bring him back again. The tree can no longer accept him. Whereas the Eitz Chaim can always take a leave back if the leave is willing to muster up the courage to find its way back up the tree and take its old place that sat empty yearning for its return.

Wed, 08 Feb 2012 03:00:00 +0000
Shvat - Change All You Wish, But You'll Find A Surprise

In each month of the year the four letter name of Hashem has a different order that has meaning Al Pi Kabbalah. Many sidurim print these orders in Musaf of Rosh Chodesh. Each one also has a pasuk whose Roshei Teivos spell out that months order. When the order is backwards or the name is hinted in Sofei Teivos instead of Roshei Teivos, something is amiss during that month.

While it is hard to understand the meaning of these names on the face of it, the tziruf of the month of Shvat seems to have a very understandable meaning. The tziruf of Shvat is Hey - Yud and then Vuv - Hey. The pasuk is from the parsha of Tmura (Bichukosai 27:33), the second to last pasuk in Sefer VaYikra "Hamer Yimirenu V'Haya Hu", switch it and it will still remain. Tmura is when you attempt to transfer the Kedusha of an animal that is designated for the mizbei'ach on to another animal. While the second animal becomes Kadosh, the first one remains so as well.

Similarly with Hashem. Often we try to transfer the power from Hashem to another source that we count on to deliver our wishes.  Be it another person, our own ingenuity, nature, or past experience. Yet no matter what we do to exchange Hashem, the pasuk reminds us, "V'Haya Hu", whatever happens it still comes from Hashem, who cannot be replaced.

Interestingly the name of Hashem in Shvat has the first two letter reversed (Hey - Yud), as in "Hamer Yimirenu", or try to exchange Hashem. But the last two letters still remain the same and in the correct order (Vuv - Hey) as in V'Haya Hu, it remains Him.

We can try to outsmart and outrun Hashem, but no matter how far we run we will always arrive at the same destination, Ratzon Hashem.

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Yehonoson Eibshitz: When The Calendar Strikes 10 In every season (Tekufa), says Rav Yehonoson Eibshitz (Yaaros Devash - Drush 15), there is one 10th of the month that stands out.  Sometimes for good and sometimes for bad.  It all started after Adam was chased out of Gan Eden.  In Gan Eden the nights and the days were equal length.  However, Adam was placed in Eretz Yisroel in the northern hemisphere, and during this time of year between Tishrei and Teves the days kept getting shorter and the nights longer.

Adam feared the world was closing in on him and would eventually leave him in total darkness.  On the second of Teves that first year after the Winter Solstice, the days started getting longer.  Adam in thanks to Hashem made an eight day Yom Tov.  This eventually became a Yom Tov for Avodah Zara known in the gemara a Kaladaria.  This climaxed on the 10th of Teves.

From here we see, says Rav Yehonoson Eibshitz, that this day had in it potential for good, a day of thanks by Adam, and bad, a day of avodah zara worship.  Similarly Asara B'Teves which was celebrated as a Yom Tov during the times of the Bais HaMikdash, but is mourned in the Galus as the day Nevuchadnetzar's armies laid siege on Yerushalayim.

This pattern can be seen throughout the year during the first 10th of the month in the first month of each Tekufa.  Three months after 10 Teves comes 10 Nisan, the great day that Bnei Yisroel tied the Egyptian lamb to their bed post for the Korban Pesach.  Three months after that comes 10 Tamuz, the day the walls of Yerushalayim were breached during the Churban Bayis Rishon.  (The Navi says the 9th but it happened towards the evening and the enemy soldiers entered on the 10th.)  Three months after that on the 10th of Tishrei comes the great day of Yom Kippur.  Sometimes good and sometimes bad.

Rav Yehonoson Eibshitz says that there are four things that bring a person to the right path, Torah, Tzedaka, Tefila, and Tshuva.  Each one is highlighted during one of these quarterly months.  Teves is Torah, as its long nights perfectly suited for Torah learning when the work of the day ends.  Nisan is all about Tzedaka as the geulas Mitzrayim came B'Zchus Tzedaka.  This is why give Maos Chittim in Nisan.  Tamuz is for Tefila as Moshe went up to daven on the Chet HaEgel in that month.  And of course Tishrei is synonymous with Tshuva.  

With the special mitzvos suited for each of these crucial times we have the opportunity to turn these days into good ones.

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 03:00:00 +0000
Should We Fast On 5 B'Teves Or 10 B'Teves?

The gemara says that there is a Machlokes between Rebbi Akiva and Rebbi Shimon Bar Yochai if the pasuk that says "Tzom Ha'Asiri"; the fast of the tenth month is referring to Asara B'Teves the day Nevuchadnezzar laid siege to Yerushalayim according to Rebbi Akiva or 5 B'Teves theday that the news of the Churban Bais HaMikdash reached the people of Bavel according to Rebbi Shimon Bar Yochai since the day of hearing bad news is considered like the day it happened.

The Tur says we only fast on the 10th and not the 5th. Strangely the Rif and the Rosh both don'teven mention anything about 5 B'Teves at all. Why is there no mention of the fast on the hearing of the bad news? Not even that a "Baal Nefesh" should be machmir and fast on that day.

Rav Shlomo HaKohen MiVilna suggests (Binyan Shlomo OC 2:45) suggests that there is no machlokes L'halacha between these two tanaim.  Everybody holds that today we fast only on the 10th. The reason is that the fast of the Fifth of Teves was only for those in Galus Bavel at the time of the Churban, who didn't witness the Churban. They fasted the day they heard about it. They didn't fast Tisha B'Av. Since we don't know where our ancestors were during that time we only fast the day of the Churban itself Tisha B'Av.

If so why does Rebbi Shimon Bar Yochai say that the pasuk that says Tzom HaAsiri means the 5 Teves? The gemara says that this is because it is mentioned after the fast of Tisha B'Av in an otherwise chronologically correct Pasuk so therefore it must be talking about the fast of 5 Teves which happened after the Churban and not 10 Teves, which happened before.


Thu, 05 Jan 2012 03:00:00 +0000
Chodesh Av - The Instant Turnaround

Each month has a different formulation of the letter of of the Shem Havaya. The month of Av is Hey - Vuv - Yud - Hey, in which the first two letters are the last two letters of the Shem Hashem backwards but the next two letters are the first two letters of the Shem Hashem in the proper order. The pasuk that hints to us this Shem Hashem is the first letters of "Haskes U'Shma Yisroel HaYom" (Ki Savo 27:9). This is a sign that the first half of the month is Midas HaDin but the second half of the month switches to Midas HaRachamim.

This is because the first half of the month the ultimate tragedy happened to Klal Yisroel with the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash, the murder of millions, and the exile of many others. Like after every punishment administered by a loving father, as soon as the punishment is given to the stuborn child, the child capitulates and the father is overcome with mercy for his beaten son. So too after the Churban, Hashem is overcome with mercy on us, and this mercy closes out the month and leads us into Elul where we have a special longing and bond with Hashem.

As we dread going through another Tisha B'Av and yet another of Churban Bais HaMikdash, we know that this need not be the case. Moshiach can come any moment, and next week Tisha B'Av can be a great Yom Tov, the likes which have never been celebrated in history. It is up to us.

"Haskes U'Shma" these two words which represent the Midas HaDin with the Hey and Vuv backwards tell us to take heed from our suffering and learn the lesson. If we finally remove the barriers to our hearts and minds and acknowledge the truth, the Yeshua can come in an instant. "Yisroel HaYom", these two words tell us that the Shem Hashem can be easily reversed to a mode of Rachamim and we can once again become Yisroel HaYom, today without any delay. It is up to us how we will spend this years Tisha B'Av, either on the floor crying or dancing through the air.

Mon, 01 Aug 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Tammuz: A Month That's Just Not Worth It

Each month has a different formulation of the letter of of the Shem Havaya. The month of Tammuz is Hey - Vuv - Hey - Yud, which the Shem Hashem completely backwards. This is a sign that the month is completely a month of Midas HaDin (unlike even Av whose second half is a time of Rachamim).

Furthermore the letters are found in the last letters of the famous words of Haman who had everything in the world but it gave him no satisfaction because Mordechai would not subjugate himself to Haman. Zeh (Hey) Einenu (Vuv) Shaveh (Hey) Li (Yud), all this is worthless to me. The Shem Hashem as Sofei Teivos instead of Roshei Teivos are another sign of Din.

Tammuz was a month set for greatness. Moshe was supposed to bring the Luchos down. The Meraglim's mission was supposed to pave the way for going into Eretz Yisroel. Instead disaster struck. It became the month of broken Luchos, the burning of the Torah, avodah zara in the Bais HaMikdash, the breaching of Yerushalayim.

Hashem unequivocally told us that he does not care how much Torah we learn, if we harbor doubts in our heart. He does not care how much chesed we do if we dislike others for trivial reasons. He does not care how much we want a Bais HaMikdash if we also want to badmouth our friends. He is ready to destroy His house, break His Luchos, burn the holy Torah, and wreak havoc on His city. Hashem cannot be fooled, tricked, or appeased. Hashem demands righteousness across the board not only for a public show. Hashem will hide His holy name and leave us to the devices of our enemies. Why because Zeh Einenu Shaveh Li, with all our great attributes and grand facade, it's just not worth it to Hashem when our foundation is crumbling. He'd rather hide.

The lesson of the month is that we cannot stay in favor by giving a little and doing great things. We must be pure inside and out backwards and forwards, and then Yismichu HaShamayim, the Heavens will rejoice as only they know what is in our heart. V'Sagel HaAretz, the land we be happy as we act properly for all to see. Only then will the Shem Havaya stand proud and herald the Geula Sheleima.

Tue, 05 Jul 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Chodesh Iyar - The Truth After The Fun

Nisan is month of Chesed. It is a month of Geula, both in the days of Mitzrayim and soon in our day as well. We openly witness Hashem's kindness and generosity. With Yetzias Mitzrayim we ended our suffering, gained our freedom, saw the complete destruction of our enemies, and ended up with incredible wealth. Why? Why were we so fortunate? Was it our good deeds? Hardly. Was this victory the ultimate goal? We may have thought so but we were wrong.

Shavuos is the day of Matan Torah and the reason for all of our turbulent history, both the up and the down. It was not about revenge or victory. It was not about wealth or freedom. It is about recognizing Hashem and bringing the world to its goal.

While this lesson is started in the middle of Nissan and completed in the beginning of Sivan, all thirty days of Iyar are devoted to understanding this idea. Iyar is the month the Bnei Yisroel looked at their freedom, they looked at their riches, and asked themselves what is this all for? What is the purpose. They had already gotten a taste of Torah in Marah while being commanded to keep Shabbos, Parah Adumah, and Dinim. During Iyar their eyes were opened to the bigger picture, the picture of a world where the only thing that counts is the knowledge of Hashem.

The Tziruf for the Osios of the Shem Hashem in Iyar is Yud, Hey, Hey, Vuv. This is the Roshei Teivos of the words of the Navi Yirmiya (9:22) YisHallel HamisHalla Hashkel VYado'a. The Navi tells us that a wise, strong, or wealthy person should not be proud of the gift given to him. The only thing a person should take pride in is his knowledge and closeness to Hashem. This is the month of Iyar.

Mon, 09 May 2011 03:00:00 +0000 The first mention of the name Nisan is in Megilas Esther when Haman draws lots to decide which day of the year he will kill the Yehudim.  This event, says the Megila, took place in the month of Nisan.  The Bnei Yisaschar says the name Nisan is for “Nisim” miracles.  It is a month of open miracles where Hashem turned the natural world on its head to rescue His beloved nation.  The Torah tells us this special time was planned from the creation of the world and will always be a time of miracles and redemption for Am Yisroel for all generations. “Leil Shimurim Hu LaShem… Shimurim L’Chol Bnei Yisroel L’Dorosum”

The word Nes is made of the letters “Nun” and “Samech”.  The gemara tells us (Brachos 4b) that although in “Ashrei” each pasuk starts with the next consecutive letter of the Aleph Bais, the pasuk beginning with Nun is omitted.  This is because a pasuk with “Nun” speaks of the downfall of Klal Yisroel.  “Nafla Lo Sosif Kum Besulas Yisroel”.  Even though Dovid left out the Nun he still lifted it up again with Ruach HaKodesh, as the pasuk after the missing Nun starts with the letter Samech and says, “Someich Hashem L’Chol HaNoflim”; Hashem supports all those who have fallen.

This, says the Bnei Yisaschar, is the significance of the word and month “Nisan”.  It is the month that Hashem lifts up his downtrodden nation, both in the time Galus Mitzrayim and also in the day of Moshiach Sheyavo Bimheira Biyameinu.

Tue, 05 Apr 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Shekalim: Shem MiShmuel - Fiery Money To Ward Off Haman

The Gemara in Megila tells us that Hashem knew that in the future Haman would buy the destruction of Klal Yisroel with Shekalim, so Hashem gave us a Mitzva of Machatzis HaShekel to have a Zchus to save us from our doom.

The Shem MiShmuel says that Chazal says Hashem showed Moshe Rabbeinu a coin of fire and told him, "like this they should give". What does this mean? He explains thay Kesef is like the word Nichsaf to love and desire. The Matbei'a of Aish that Hashem showed Moshe, taught us that our love for Hashem should be fiery with passion.

On the other hand Amaleik's whole philosophy is "Asher Karcha BaDerech". They don't try to win over Klal Yisroel because they know they cannot do so, but they try to cool us off. This was the argument of Amaleik's wicked descendant Haman, when he told Achashveirosh "Yeshno Min HaMitzvos", he need not fear the Jews for their Mitzvos lack freshness and feeling. However it is our love of fire that Hashem showed Moshe that stands in our good stead and protects us from Haman.

Fri, 04 Mar 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Vilna Gaon - Simchas Bais HaSho'eva On The Night Of Hoshana Rabba?

In the time of the Bais HaMikdash there was a Simchas Bais HaSho'eva with singing and dancing every night of Succos, starting from the second night. As a remembrance for this we also make Simchas Bais HaSho'eva today. The seventh night of Succos is Hoshana Rabba is an especially holy night and many are noheg to read Mishneh Torah which is the whole Sefer Devarim and also complete the entire Tehilim. What about Simchas Bais HaSho'eva? In the Bais HaMikdash it was held even on the seventh night but what about today?

The Minhag Yisreol Torah (OC 661:2) brings from the Mishmeres Sholom that the Vilna Gaon had Simchas Bais HaSho'eva even on Hoshana Rabba and so did the Divrei Chaim of Sanz. However says the Mishmeres Sholom that in his day the minhag was to spend the night saying Mishneh Torah and Tehilim although he had a Kabala that his forefathers would dance after finishing each of the five Sifrei Tehilim in order to be Mikayem both minhagim.

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Yisroel Salanter - A Flash Of Light Can Help You Out Of The Woods

We act like tzadikim during Aseres Ymei Tshuva but when it is over we revert back to our old ways.  What did we gin by this?  When asked why learn mussar if the moment after the Sefer is closed we revert back to our own behavior, Ra Yisroel Salanter offered the following Mashal.

A man was traveling through the forest and towards the evening he realized that he lost his way.  He sat down and bemoaned his plight wondering if he will make it out alive.  Night fell and he cried about his deteriorating situation.  Later storm clouds opened up and poured down buckets of torrential rains muddying the forest.  The man was forlorn, now he would get sick and not even last long enough to merit a miracle.  

Suddenly there was lightening and thunder and the man rejoiced!  True the light only last a fraction of a second but in that second as the midnight skies became lit, he saw the path leading out of the forest.

Rav Elya Weintraub zt"l explained that just like the lightening is only a flash of light yet can show a person the way out of the forest even in the dark, so too Aseres Yimei Tshuvah may grant us light for a few days after which we will revert back to the darkness.  However the moment of light will show the person who is lost, but looking for his way, out of the darkness.  It will lead him to the path he must work hard and follow to travel the long journey to a life of Torah and Avodah.

Wed, 15 Sep 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Mogen Avrohom - Shabbos Before Rosh HaShanah Is Not Shabbos Mivarchim
Every Shabbos before Rosh Chodesh we are Mivarech the Chodesh.  We add an extra Tefila announcing the new month and asking Hashem for it to be a good one.  The Mogen Avrohom brings (417:1) from the Yerei'im that this practice does not constitute Kiddush HaChodesh, where Bais Din has the power to declare a new month, but rather it is just an announcement to let everyone know that Rosh Chodesh is coming.

It is for this reason says the Mogen Avrohom that we are not Mivarech Tishrei on the Shabbos before Rosh HaShanah.  The pasuk says "Tiku BaChodesh Shofar Bakeseh L'Yom Chageinu".  Rosh HaShanah is the Chag that is Keseh, hidden.  It comes under the cover of darkness since it takes place on the first day of the month when the moon shines the least bright and for the shortest amount of time.  In continuing this idea we don't make any announcements about its imminent arrival on the Shabbos before.

Fri, 03 Sep 2010 03:00:00 +0000 The Name of Hashem (Yud, Hey…) is a name of Rachamim, mercy.  There are 12 combinations of these letters that represent the Shem Hashem in different degrees of Rachamim and Din.  Each varying combination corresponds to a particular month of the year.  For the Month of Tammuz the letters of the name of Hashem (Tzirufei Osios) are written in reverse order (Hey, Vav, Hey, and Yud).  This backwards spelling represents Din.  In this case the Shem Hashem, which represent Rachamim, is very weak because of the harsh Din hovering over this month.

This remez for this spelling is found in the words of the Megila where Haman bemoans Mordechai’s lack of respect and says, “VChol Zeh Einenu Shoiveh Li”, all his greatness and wealth is worthless because Mordechai refuses to bow to him.  The last letters of “Zeh Einenu Shoiveh Li” are Hey, Vav, Hey, and Yud.  This is the source for this Tziruf of the name of Hashem.  The Bnei Yisaschar says that this utterance of Haman, had hidden in it Hashem’s Middas HaDin, which hung over him at that point and caused his downfall.

Although the three weeks starts only from after the middle of the month (17 of Tammuz), the Bnei Yisaschar explains that the whole month is Middas HaDin since the Meraglim were in Eretz Yisroel every day during this month.  On the other hand, Av, only has the Middas HaDin during the first half of the month.

Sun, 13 Jun 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Shimshon MiOstropolia - The Meraglim & The Hot Summer Months "Vihischazaktem U'Likachtem MiPri HaAretz V'Hayamim Yimei Bikurei Anavim"; You shall strengthen yourselves, and you shall take some fruit of the land, those days were the days of the first ripening of the grapes (Shlach 13:20).  Why did Moshe Rabbeinu tell the Miraglim to strengthen themselves?  What is the connection with the ripening of the grapes?

Rav Shimshon MiOstropolia answers that the time of year was Chodesh Tamuz.  Chodesh Tamuz, says the Zohar HaKadosh, begins the height of the summer where the Yetzer Hara, also known as the Malach Samael, enjoys the height of his power.  Moshe Rabbeinu understood the danger and urged the Miraglim "Vihischazaktem" to strengthen themselves and not fall prey to the Yatzer Hara and his evil ideas.  How?  "U'Likachtem MiPri HaAretz", by drawing from the Kedusha of Eretz Yisroel which has the power to break the Satan.  

The Torah hints of the dangers of this tekufa, says Rav Shimshon in the end of the pasuk.  The letters before the word Anavim spell Samael (Samech/Ayin-Mem/Nun-Aleph/Bais-Lamed/Mem).  "V'hayamim", those days were. "Yimei Bikurei Anavim", the days of Samael whose letters precede (Bikurei) the word Anavim.  This may be why much destruction is caused by drinking too much wine, since if used improperly it is the tool of Samael.

Thu, 03 Jun 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Chodesh Iyar: Is Amaleik In Our Garden? As we enter Iyar and look back on the past month, it is incredible to contemplate the difference in the world.  During Nissan the world awoke from the dead of winter and burst into full bloom.   If you have any plants or trees, a careful study of the tiny fresh leaves bursting forth from a dead looking branch, is an awesome testimony of a Creator.  But this happens every year and we don't give it too much thought so life goes on without a special impact.  We chalk it up to the way of the world.

Each month has a special order of the letter of Shem Havaya the Shem HaShem.  Iyar's order is Yud and Hey, then Hey and Vuv.  The Mishnas Chasidim says that these Roshei Teivos are for Yis'halel HaMis'halel Haskel V'Yado'a (Yirmiya 9:23), where the Navi says, do not pride yourself in any of your special traits, only in knowing Me, Hashem.  The Torah tells us over and over that our mitzva is not to believe in Hashem but rather to know him.  Belief implies that we don't know for sure about something but we believe it either because we are told by others or for some other indirect reason.  Knowing means we know it for a fact to be the truth.

Hashem put us in a world where everything around us screams of His existence.  He makes it easy for us to know Him through every single natural phenomena and every event that we witness in our lives.  His fingerprints are markedly on everything.  It is because we go through life often in a state of semiconsciousness and focus our attention on trivial matters that we miss out on all this.

Iyar is a month that speaks loud and clear of Hashem.  On the other hand it is also the month that Amaleik attacked us when we left Mitzrayim.  Amaleik is the scrooge of denial of Hashem. The champions of doubt and coincidence.  In Iyar we must fight the blurring vision of Amaleik and let the world's true colors show us the way to the point where we pride ourselves with the true knowledge of Hashem.

Sun, 18 Apr 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Yisroel Yaakov Fisher - Why Shabbos HaGadol And Not 10 Nisan? The reason why we have Shabbos HaGadol is because on the 10th of Nisan the Bnei Yisroel took a lamb, the god of the Mitzrim, with great Mesiras Nefesh, and tied it to their bedpost declaring they would slaughter it in four days.  The Mitzrim who totally controlled Bnei Yisroel for so many years, were powerless to do anything in response to this unequivocal slap in the face and disgrace to their god.

There are two questions.  First why did the Bnei Yisroel need to do this four days before the Shechita.  Why couldn't they do it on the morning of the 14th?  Also even though the year of Yetzias Mitzrayim the 10th came out on Shabbos, why don't we celebrate this heroic act on the 10th.  Why on Shabbos?

Rav Yisroel Yaakov Fisher answers that in order for Bnei Yisroel to bring the Korban Pesach we needed to do tshuvah for our own idol worship that we committed in Mitzrayim.  A Ben Neichar, a person who has strayed, cannot partake in the Korban Pesach.  The gemara Shabbos (118b) says that if someone keeps Shabbos, even if he has worshipped avoda zara, Hashem forgives him.

Rav Fisher explains that the reason they took the lamb on Shabbos was because taking the lamb was an act of showing that they no longer worshipped it like the Mitzrim did.  This was done on Shabbos because keeping Shabbos is a way, and also the best day, to do tshuva for this aveira.  Therefore it was Shabbos that was the catalyst for this act and no specific importance is attached to the date of 10 Nisan.

Thu, 25 Mar 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Mechel Zilber - Nisan And Tishrei, Same But Different Rebbi Eliezer and Rebbi Yehoshua argue whether the world was created in Nisan or Tishrei.  Rav Mechel Zilber brings from Rav Shlomo Kluger that they are not arguing about historical facts.  Both Nisan and Tishrei represent a cleansing and a new beginning and they both parallel each other in many ways.  He brings from the Seforim HaKedoshim that Nisan is a cleansing of the Guf and Tishrei of the Neshama.

This, says Rav Zilber, is consistent with many of the practices that shape our avodah during these two periods.  During Nisan we are not allowed to fast.  We are supposed to learn how to eat.  In Tishrei however, there is a minhag to fast the entire Aseres Yimei Tshuva.  Leil Pesach, the holiest night of the month, is a day of Achilas Matza, which the Chasam Sofer points out is the only Mitzva we have today that requires eating.  In Tishrei we have Yom Kippur where we act like Malachim devoid of any eating or human activities.  

On Pesach the Korban is for each individual who must have his own korban and eat it, while on yom Kippur the holy Kohen Gadol's korban is a kappara for every Jew.  In Tishrei all our avodah is in Shul, which represents our neshama.  We leave our homes and take refuge under the cover of the Shechina.  On Pesach we clean our own earthly homes from Chametz and that is where our avodah takes place.  We turn our homes into a Makom Hashra'as HaShechina.

Pesach is not a time to introspect on which aveiros we did that the torah forbids or how many specific mitzvos we performed.  It is a time to reflect on how we live our lives, our guf.  Is it clean or is it full of fluffy chametz.  Bread has the same ingredients as matza but the air blows it up and makes it full of holes.  It is not only about tallying the mitzvos you do in life, but how you do it and what you do with your whole life.  Bread becomes moldy very quickly.  Matza lasts forever.

Mon, 22 Mar 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Chodesh Nisan: Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky: Chodesh Nissan Or Chodesh HaRishon? In Chumash and the early Nevi'im the months are always called by numbers like the Torah explicitly dictates (Bo 12:2), with Nisan being Chodesh HaRishon.  However in the later Nevi'im that were after Galus Bavel started, as well as in Megilas Esther, we find the first use of the current names (Nisan, Iyar, etc.) which are Persian names.  These names were continued to be used even in Eretz Yisroel after they rebuilt the second Bais HaMikdash.

The Ramban writes in Parshas Bo (12:2) that the reason for this is to remind us that we were in Bavel and Hashem brought us back from there to Eretz Yisroel.  Nevertheless asks Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky why would we not revert to the names the Torah gave the months (i.e. Rishon, Sheini, etc.), especially given that some of the Persian name are names of Avodah Zara?

Rav Yaakov answers with his Yesod that the Yidden were supposed to remain in Galus Bavel for a very long time.  However Hashem saw that given the pace of deterioration there would be no Jewish nation left to redeem when it was time for the Geula.  Therefore Hashem brought us back to Eretz Yisroel and rebuilt the Bais HaMikdash, not as part of the Geula, but rather as preparation and training for the long Galus that we were facing and still find ourselves in today.

It is for this reason, says Rav Yaakov, that during the time of the Second Bais HaMikdash there was no Aron, no King from Bais Dovid, and we continued to speak Aramaic even in Eretz Yisroel.  This period was a vaccination period where we were injected with sufficient doses of Emunah to survive the horrible future Galus that lie ahead.

With this Rav Yaakov explains the Ramban.  We continued to use the Persian names of the months to remind us that Hashem took us from Bavel since we still belong there and we had still not really been redeemed.  As part of our training, we needed to be reminded this at every turn.

B'Nisan Nigalu U'B'Nisan Asidin Liga'el (Rosh HaShana 11a).  This Nisan may we be Zocheh to the real Geula, Bimheira B'Yameinu Amein.

Tue, 16 Mar 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Chodesh Adar: Bnei Yisaschar - The Sweet Smelling Month

The Arizal says that each month represents a part of a person's head. The month of Adar represents the "nose".  Sweet smell, says the gemara Brachos (44b), gives pleasure not to the body but rather to the Neshama. The Bnei Yisaschar explains that when Adam and Chava ate from the Eitz HaDaas they used all their sense for the aveira except their sense of smell. The pasuk says, she saw, she listened, she touched, and she tasted. But nowhere does it say that anyone smelled. Therefore the sense of smell has a certain purity that is unmatched by the other senses.

It is therefore appropriate that for the great Nes that took place in the month of Adar, the month of smell, that both of the heroes of Purim, Mordechai and Ester had names referring to smell. Mordechai's name says the gemara Chulin (139b) is hinted in the name of the fragrance used in the Ketores called Mor Dror or Mira-Dachya as translated by Unkelos. Ester's real name, the Megila tells us (2:7), was Hadasa the sweet smelling myrtle tree. Since a person's name represents their true inner self Mordechai and Ester with their lofty purity were able to avoid the pitfalls of Achashveirosh and his materialism during his party and even while living in his palace. During the special month of Adar where these qualities reign supreme, these two pure tzaddikim saved Klal Yisroel from destruction.

Sun, 14 Feb 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Parsha Shkalim: Chizkuni - Haman Pays Enough Shkalim To Buy The Bnei Yisroel Fifty Times Over The gemara in Megila (13b) says that Hashem gave the mitzva of Shkalim to ward off the affect of the Shkalim that Haman would give to Achashveirosh.  Tosfos says that Haman gave Achashveirosh 10,000 Kikar Kesef, which is equal to the half shekel of the 600,000 Jews that left Mitzrayim.  

How does the math work out if half a shekel for 600,000 Jews is 300,000 Shekel Haman's 10,000 Kikar is the equivalent of 15 million shekel (A Kikar is 60 Mana and a Mana is 25 Shekel).  It seems that Haman gave 25 time the amount of Shkalim that Bnei Yisroel gave.

The Shnayim Mikra brings from the Chizkuni that since a person lives 70 years, if you start giving at the age of 20 for the next fifty years you will give a total of 25 Shekel.  Haman did not only pay for a yearly Machatzis HaShekel, he paid a lifetime's worth for every single Jew.

Fri, 12 Feb 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Shovavim - A Sign Of The Times I saw a very sharp quote that made me stop and think about how I relate to the period of the year known as Shovavim (the days of Parshas Shemos, VaEirah,...Mishpatim).  The person asked, why do we believe everything we read in the newspaper, but question everything we read in the Torah?

When we were young they taught us that the time for tshuva is Elul until Ne'ila on Yom Kippur.  At that time the gates are closed and our fate is sealed.  As we got older we found out that the final, final deadline is Hoshana Rabba.  As we continued to explore the mystical world, the concept of Zos Chanuka came up as the really, really last chance for Tshuva.  Then you hear about Shovavim, and in  moment of weakness you wonder if these extensions will go on forever.

Shovavim is something that came from the Mekubalim.  I once heard it explained that as the generations get weaker, Hashem reveals to us the hidden light that can be found deeper into the year.  Let's face it, we didn't really do a great job on Aseres Yimei Tshuva and Hashem is showing us these loopholes and extensions because he yearns for us to return and wants us to take advantage.  This ties in nicely with something I heard from the Chofetz Chaim who when asked skeptically about Yom Kippur Katan, said that we no longer can go a whole year without a Yom Kippur.  We need one once a month.

Just like the earth grew in the olden days with every new adventurer's journey, the galaxy keeps growing with every new powerful telescope or satellite.  Even on earth itself the possibilities keep growing as Hashem opens our eyes and teaches how to harness nature to do amazing things like talk into a small hand-held box to someone across the ocean.

We who live in an era of science fiction should be the last ones to doubt that Hashem has newly revealed to us flashes of spiritual energy tied into the days of the year, that weren't known many years ago.  Maybe the Rambam didn't know about Shovavim but maybe he didn't need to, because he wasn't dreaming about his new smartphone on Yom Kippur.

Tue, 05 Jan 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Bnei Yisaschar: The Month Of Kislev Reveals The 36 Hidden Lights Rashi says on the words in Bereishis, Vayar Elokim Es HaOr Ki Tov, that Hashem saw that the special light created at the time of the Bria, which enables people to see from end of the world to the other, was not suitable for Reshaim, so he hid it L'Asid Lavo. This light is said to be hidden in the Torah.  It is what gives the great tzaddikim of each generation, who dwell in the depths of the Torah, their unique ability to know and comprehend things beyond what can they have seen or heard.   

The Medrash tells us that Adam HaRishon enjoyed this light for 36 hours before it was taken away.  The Rokeach says that we light a total of 36 candles during Chanukah (1+2+3...8=36), to celebrate the light hidden in the Torah, which shines during Chanukah. 36 is also the number of Masechtos in Talmud Bavli.  36 is also the number of tzaddikim that Hashem promises will exist in every generation.

 The Bnei Yissaschar says that this is hinted in the word Kislev.  The first two letter of Kislev are Kuf Samech as in Kisuy or covered.  The last two are Lamed Vuv or 36, for the 36 hours of light that are hidden in the torah and lit on Chanukah.

Tue, 17 Nov 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Chodesh Cheshvan: Bnei Yisaschar - The Third Bais HaMikdash, Rebellion And Rectification The Medrash Yalkut in Milachim says that the Mishkan the Moshe Rabbeinu built was completed in Kislev.  However they waited until Nissan for the Chanukas HaMishkan.  Since Kislev was embarrassed, Hashem paid it back by making the Chanukas Bais Sheini in Kislev.  (The Bnei Yisaschar adds that although this was not the beginning of the Bais HaMikdash since the beginning was under Persian rule, this was consider the real Chanukas HaBayis.)  Similarly, says the Medrash, the first Bais HaMikdash built by Shlomo HaMelech was completed in Cheshvan, but Al Pi Ruach HaKodesh, Shlomo waited until the following Tishrei for the Chanukas HaBayis.  Since Cheshvan was embarrassed, Hashem promised that Cheshvan will get to host the Chanukas Bayis Shlishi.

This means that the consecutive months of Tishrei, Cheshvan, Kislev, all merited to have a Chanukas HaBayis fall within it.  Al Pi Sod these three months are the months of Ephraim, Menashe, and Binyomin, respectively, the three Shevatim from Rochel Imeinu.

Why Cheshvan, asks the Bnei Yisaschar?  He brings from Rav Menachem Mendel of Rimanov, that Cheshvan is a month where many bad gezeiros that are decreed on Klal Yisroel begin.  The reason is because Malchus Yisroel, with Yeravam as its leader, rebelled and broke away from Malchus Bais Dovid and King Rechavam in the Month of Cheshvan.  Therefore when Moshiach ben Dovid unites the Kingdom of Klal Yisroel, the Chanukas HaBayis will be in Cheshvan as we come full circle.

Sun, 18 Oct 2009 03:00:00 +0000
The Subtle Message of Tashlich The yearly tradition begs the question, what's up with Tashlich?! We go out to a river, lake or pond and say a brief prayer followed by the token "throwing in of our sins." The kids accumulate stale bread for weeks to be able to have lots of ‘sins' to throw in. Kind of strange if you think about it. Judaism isn't about symbols and rituals; it's a lot more deeper then that.

The answer is very simple yet so refreshing. Man is good. Man is beautiful. Man is extraordinary. At the very essence, man is pure and holy. Created in Gods image with the capacity to soar to the heights of Godliness, we aren't sinners, but rather we sin.

Unfortunately throughout the travails and temptations of daily life we ‘acquire' many sins and transgressions. They come to us in times of despair or acts of arrogance. We purchase them in fits of anger or digest them in moments of weaknesses. We might own them. We might carry them. And we might even relish some of them. But they never become us. They never become who we are. And they definitely aren't what we really want to be. They are always a separate entity that can be disowned, disavowed and cast away at any time. The symbolic act of throwing away our sins brings that message home in a very dramatic and cognitive manner.

Tashlich is the biggest antidote to wallowing in self pity. When we think about our habits we throw up our hands in the air and tell ourselves "oh it's been years, there's no way I can change now." Or "you can't teach an old dog new tricks." Tashlich teaches us better. Yes we can change. Sure we can improve. Absolutely we can become better, because we are so special, holy and pure - a spark of the divine.

The good struggle is to scrub away that superficial coating of sin. Scrape away the cynicism, repudiate the negativism and snap out of our disenchantment. As long as we can grasp the immeasurable greatness and potential of our souls then nothing can stop us. If we can only begin to comprehend that the love God has for us, is unfathomable and limitless, then and only then, can we truly begin our journey to complete and credible repentance.

Thank you Reb Dovid Frankel from Lakewood, N.J. for submitting this piece.

Wed, 09 Sep 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Chodesh Elul: Bnei Yisaschar - A Month of Hashem's Charity

The order of the letters of Hashem's name for Elul is Hey, Hey, Vuv, and Yud.  These letter appear in the Sofei Teivos (last letter of each word) of the words (Devarim 6:25), "U'Tzedaka Tihyeh Lanu Ki", and it will be to our credit.  The Bnei Yisaschar says that the gematria of the letters of these words without the Sofei Teivos has the same numerical value as the word B'Tshuva (715).  This teaches us that the name of Hashem identified with this month makes it a special time to do tshuva and return to Hashem.  Furthermore the Roshei Teivos (Vuv, Tuf, Lamed, Kuf) has the same gematria as the words Tammuz Av.  This shows that the harsh judgement hovering over the months of Tammuz and Av are sweetened in Elul.   

Additionally, the Bnei Yisaschar brings form the Rishonim that if you take the letters of these four words, excluding the first and last letter of each word, it spells the words "Hin Tzedek".  The Remez here is that to do Tshuva you must be very careful with all that you say to make sure no untruth, however minute, creeps into it.  Moreover the gematria of the Roshei Teivos (456) is equivalent to Avrohom Yitzchok.  These to Avos form the outer bounds with Ahava and Yirah, respectively.  While Yaakov with the Midah of Emes, Hin Tzedek (the middle letters) fits right in the middle between his illustrious father and grandfather.  

If we do Tshuva from the bottom of our hearts with real truthfulness the month of Elul will be the greatest Tzedaka we ever received.

Thu, 27 Aug 2009 03:00:00 +0000 The Maharsha says in Bechoros (8b) that the 21 days starting with Shiva Asar B’Tammuz and ending on Tisha B’Av correspond to the 21 days from Rosh HaShanah until Hoshana Rabba.  Rav Tzvi Meir Zilberberg says that we see from here that there is special Kedusha in these three weeks similar to the Days of Elul and Tishrei.  Moreover, our avoda during these three weeks will impact not only our Elul, but also our whole next year.  He brings from the Toldos Adam that whoever strengthens himself in Avodas Hashem during the three weeks will merit to be get through the Din of Rosh HaShanah unblemished.

Similarly he brings from the Oheiv Yisroel of Apta that these 21 days correspond to the 21 special days of the year including, the day of Shabbos, the day of Rosh Chodesh, seven days of Pesach, Eight days of Succos, Shavuos, two days Rosh HaShana, and Yom Kippur.  They don’t simply correspond, says Rav Tzvi Meir.  The three weeks actually encompass all the Kedusha of those days.

Although today these days appear bleak and lifeless Be”H with the coming of Moshiach these days will become festive days, climaxing on Tisha B’Av which is similar to Simchas Torah.  Until then, the light of these days is hidden, yet we must still take advantage and tap in to the special Kedusha, says Rav Tzvi Meir.

Thu, 09 Jul 2009 03:00:00 +0000
25 Sivan - Asara Harugei Malchus On the 25th of Sivan, Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel, the Prince, and Rabbi Yishmael ben Elisha, the former Kohen Gadol, two of the ten great sages killed by the Romans, were captured. They were killed on the day the Bais Hamikdash was destroyed.

When Rabbi Shimon and Rabbi Yishmael were imprisoned, Rabbi Yishmael began to cry bitterly. Rabbi Shimon said to him, "Soon you will reside among the tzaddikim in the next word. Why are you crying?"

"I'm not crying because of my imminent death, said Rabbi Yishmael, "but because I'm being led to execution like a criminal. What did we do to deserve this? Maybe we weren't careful in taking care of the poor? Did we think only of ourselves instead of the widows and orphans?"

When they were taken to the executioner, both of them begged to be killed first. "Let me be killed first so I should not have to see the death of my colleague." The executioner drew lots, and it fell on Rabbi Shimon. The executioner took his sword and cut off the head of Rabbi Shimon. Rabbi Yishmael bent down and lifted the head of Rabbi Shimon, placing his eyes against Rabbi Shimon's eyes, and his mouth against R' Shimon's mouth. "Holy lips! Lips that never spoke anything but the mysteries of the Torah now lick the dust!" He wept, and the sound of his weeping reached the heavens.

The daughter of Titus heard the crying and ran to see what was happening. She saw Rabbi Yishamel and was astounded; she had never seen such a handsome man. She ran to her father and begged him to save Rabbi Yishmael so she could save him for herself. Titus refused to allow him to remain alive, but he granted his daughter the skin of Rabbi Yishmael's face. He ordered that Rabbi Yishmael be skinned alive. When the executioner reached the place on his head where his tefillin had rested, Rabbi Yishmael screamed. "For my life, I do not cry, but for my tefillin, I cry." After they had skinned him, they cut off his head. His skin was preserved in basalm, and Titus' daughter placed it in a glass jar by her bed.

When Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Yehudah ben Bava heard about the death of Rabbi Shimon and Rabbi Yishmael, they tore their clothes, and donned sackcloth. They said, "If there was any good in the world, it was due to the merit of Rabbi Shimon and Rabbi Yishmael. Much misfortune must be coming to the world. Hashem took these two chachamim so they won't have to suffer the future travails."

Wed, 17 Jun 2009 03:00:00 +0000
20 Sivan - The Day The Cossacks Cast Darkness On The World Bogdan Chmielnicki was a wealthy Cossack leader in what is today Ukraine, but in 1648 was under control of the Polish King Vladislov.  While the Cossacks long dreamed of independence and pushing off the Polish yoke, their numerous attempts to fight the far stronger Polish King were always unsuccessful.  Chmielnicki however persuaded the Crimean Tartars to ally themselves with him and together they proved to be a formidable force against the Polish King.  Theri stated goal was to wipe out the Polish aristocracy and the Jews.

Although commonly referred to as Gezeiros Tach V'Tat (1648-9) for the years the brunt of the massacres took place, it actually raged on and off for the next 12 years, even after Chmielnicki's death.  With shifting alliances and no shortage of political intrigue, with the main players being the Poles, Russian, Crimeans, local Ukrainians, and the Swedes.

For the Jews it officially began on Wednesday, 20 Sivan 5408/1648 when Chmielnicki and his murderous bloodthirsty 60,000 strong army entered Poland.  Their first conquest was the city of Nemirov.  The Rav of the city, Rav Yechiel Michel, passionately implored the people to keep their faith and die Al Kiddush Hashem.  For three days the Cossacks rampaged through town murdering 6,000 Jews, including Rav Yechiel Michel, who was caught and murdered before his mother's eyes and then murdered in turn.  The Shul was destroyed and all the Sifrei Torah were torn to pieces and trampled.  Their parchment was then used for shoes and clothing according to the Shach.

To compound the tragedy, on the first day of the Nemirov massacres, the benevolent King Vladislov of Poland, who had always shown kindness to the Jews, died leaving Poland leaderless for the next four months until King Kazmir was crowned.  During this time Chmielnicki and his men murdered and plundered town after town with nothing and no one standing in their way.

In the tragic events of the next several years, hundreds of Jewish communities in Poland and Ukraine were wiped out, although the number of actual victims is said to be anywhere from ten of thousands to half a million Jewish souls.  Notable victims include Rav Shimshon MiOstropolia, Rav Nosson Nata Hanover, two sons of the Taz, and well as many other Gedolim who perished during the siege of L'Vov.  These events were chronicled in several famous works, including Rav Nosson Nata Hanover's,  Yiven Metzula  and  by the Shach, who spent the difficult years on the run, in his chronicle Megilas Eifa.

In 5411/1651 the Chachomim of the time declared 20 Sivan to be a fast day and Selichos were composed by the Shach and the Tosfos Yom Tov.  While the world remembers the barbaric cruelty and the atrocities that were part and parcel of the vicious Cossack character, on this day we remember the Mesiras Nefesh of our forefathers who chose to die a brutal death at the hands of a merciless enemy rather than trade their faith.  They died knowing that their troubles were orchestrated by an all merciful Hashem and they would not betray him even in their dying breath.  It is said that after this tragedy Hashem promised never to make Klal Yisroel choose between their religion and death, ever again.  Our fathers passed the final test for us.  Yehi Zichram Baruch!

Fri, 12 Jun 2009 03:00:00 +0000
20 Sivan - The History and The Taanis

The 20th of Sivan is a day that was twice designated as a fast day for massacres against European Jewry; once by Rabbeinu Tam and once by the Shach.  Special Selichos were said on this day. Below is a recent question and answer from the Ask Revach page that adds some light on the subject and the minhag today.

Question submitted by Chaim: Why were chazal mesaken [decree] chof [20th] Sivan as a day of mourning for ta'ch v'ta't [massacres during Bogdan Chmielnicki’s Cossak uprising] and yet there is so much controversy over Yom Hashoah? Additionally, why has chof sivan, the day of morning for ta'ch v'ta't, fallen out of favor?

Answer by Rav Peretz Moncharsh: I think that a little background information will put things in their proper perspective.

The 20th of Sivan was first designated as a fast day by Rabbeinu Tam after the first Jews were executed because of the accusations of a blood libel. Observation of the fast gradually faded over the ensuing years as that tragedy was overshadowed by the 150 years of the Crusades.

After the [Chmielnicki] massacres of Tach v'Tat when approximately a third of European Jewry was killed, the fast of the 20th of Sivan was reinstituted, as on that date the glorious Jewish community of Nemirov was destroyed by the Cossacks. This decision was made by the Shach and the Vaad Arba Aratzos, and was confirmed by the Shela HaKadosh, Tosafos Yom Tov, Magen Avraham and many other Gedolim.

I'm not sure why it has faded, but probably the following 300 years provided more than their fair share of tragedies to eclipse Tach v'Tat. Also, the enactment seems to have been made specifically for the Jews living in the Polish kingdom.

Yom HaShoah never had the support of a wide array of Gedolim, and in fact the Rabbanut even designated the 10th of Teves as the most appropriate day to commemorate the Holocaust. Furthermore, the date of Yom HaShoah was chosen to commemorate the valor of those who participated in the Warsaw ghetto uprising, and not the tragedy of the 6 million who were murdered. Additionally, Yom HaShoah is in Nissan, a month during which according to halacha we do not engage in public mourning.

Fri, 12 Jun 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Rosh Chodesh Sivan - On That Famous Rosh Chodesh Day Our Torah is filled with dates of major events in the history of Klal Yisroel, yet the date of the biggest event ever is not mentioned.  Even more surprisingly that date is not unanimous and there is a dispute as to the exact date.

What is interesting is that in the Parsha of Matan Torah it does give one date,  "Bachodesh HaShlishi... Bayom HaZeh Ba'u Midbar Sinai", on Rosh Chodesh they arrived in Midbar Sinai (Yisro 19:1).  Why is this date so significant while the date of Kabalas HaTorah is omitted?

Rashi on the next pasuk asks why does the Torah tell us that Bnei Yisroel came to Midbar Sinai from Refidim?  He answers that in Refidim they were lax in their torah study.  When they came to Sinai they "left Refidim behind" and committed to learning torah.  Maybe the lesson here is that Kabalas HaTorah meaning knowing the whole torah is wonderful.  However you must understand that receiving the torah comes with hard work.  It comes with commitment.  You must make up your mind that the Torah is the object of your obsession.  

The turning point and the key to Kabala HaTorah was the day they left their laziness behind and fully committed to a life of torah.  That is when the battle was won.  Once that happened Kabalas HaTorah was merely a matter of time.  It could take six day, seven days, or longer, but it will happen eventually.  

Rosh Chodesh Sinai is a date we should remember.  It is the date where we decide what kind of life we will lead.  It is the date where we leave our laziness and other pursuits behind.  It is the date that will be recorded in our minds as the day we chose a life of torah.  It may take days, months, or years but eventually we will receive the torah.

Sun, 24 May 2009 03:00:00 +0000 Each month has a special order of how to arrange the Shem Havaya (Yud, Hey...) that symbolizes the nature of the month.  The month of Iyar is Yud, Hey, Hey, Vuv.  This makes up the Roshei Teivos of the words in Yirmiyahu 9:23, "Yis'halel HaMis'halel Haskel V'Yodoa".  Yirmiyahu tells us do not pride your self in your wisdom, strength, or wealth only in your knowledge of Hashem. The Bnei Yisaschar says that we see from here that the month of Iyar is a month where one can reach intellectual heights in his knowing Hashem.  This makes Iyar the perfect month to prepare for Kabalas HaTorah.  

He explains that a number of significant events took place in Iyar.  In Iyar the Be'er of Miriam spouted forth water to supply the Bnei Yisroel with water in the midbar for the next 40 years.  The Be'er or "well" symbolizes the deep wisdom and hidden secrets of the torah, which is why many of the stories of the Avos HaKedoshim transpired around a Be'er.  In fact when Rav Chaim Vital was unable to absorb the Torah of the Arizal, the Arizal took him on a boat ride on the Kinneret to the place where the Be'er of Miriam is said to be and gave him to drink from its water.  His mind then opened up and he was able to grasp the depths of his holy rebbe's teachings.  Another event was the building of first Bais HaMikdash, the wellspring of wisdom, which commenced in Chodesh Iyar.

Iyar is also known as a month of healing.  The origins of this says the Bnei Yisaschar, is that most physical ailments come from the food we eat.  Since the "Man" started falling in the Midbar and the Man was a perfect food, Bnei Yisroel became cured.  The power of healing stayed in these days for generations.  A well known remez for this are the letters of the month of Iyar which form an acronym Ani (Aleph) Hashem (Yud-Yud) Rofecha (Raish)

Wed, 29 Apr 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Shkalim: Shem MiShmuel - Our Fire, Their Ice The Gemara (Megila 13a) says that Hashem gave us the mitzva of Shkalim to give us a zechus of Shkalim to head off the Shkalim that Haman would eventually give to Achashveirosh to buy our annihilation.  What is the connection?  Is it just because we gave out Shkalim first?

The Shem MiShmuel answers that Moshe did not comprehend what the Shkalim did for us until Hashem showed him a Shekel made of fire.  The word kesef also means love like the word "Nichsaf".  Hashem's message was that Bnei Yisroel should have a burning love for Hashem.  It should not be a cold and dry performance of Hashem's mitzvos, but a fiery passionate avodah.

Haman on the other hand was from Amaleik.  "Asher Karcha BaDerech".  Amaleik had a chilling effect on Bnei Yisroel's love for Hashem, which gave Haman the strength to almost overcome us.  But our flame, our fire, is older and will at the end always overcome Amaleik.

Fri, 20 Feb 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Tu B'Shvat: Bnei Yisaschar - The Day Of The Esrog Tree The Mishna in Rosh HaShana says there are four Rosh HaShanas during the course of the year. The Rosh HaShana for the trees is on Tu B'Shvat according to Bais Hillel. Unlike all the other Rosh HaShanas counted in the Mishna, where it says the plural form of the category that is having Rosh HaShana (e.g. Kings, Years, Plants, etc.) by Shvat it says the singular Rosh HaShana for "the tree".

The Bnei Yisaschar says that on Tu B'Shvat although it is Rosh Hashana for all trees there is one tree that we focus our attention on this special day. We have a kabala to daven for our esrog for the upcoming Succos. We daven to Hashem that he should provide us with a kosher and beautiful esrog. This we see in the Mishna, which also only mentions that Tu B'Shvat is the Rosh Hashana for "the tree" and not all the trees.

When you are scrambling for a good esrog next year remember how much you davened on Tu B'Shvat and you'll know what kind of esrog you'll end up with.

Mon, 09 Feb 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Chodesh Sivan - A Rough Last Week of The Month, Any Lessons Learned? The last week of Sivan was a disastrous one for Bnei Yisroel in the Midbar.  It was three failures one after another and they seem to be related.  The lessons didn't seem to be learned in a productive way.  The Gemara in Taanis Daf 29 describes the sequences of events as follows.

  • 22-29 Sivan: From Kivros Hata'ava they traveled to Chatzeiros, in Chatzeiros Miriam sinned and Klal Yisroel waited for her for seven days until the 29th of Sivan.
  • 29 Sivan - 9 Av: From Chatzeiros Klal Yisroel traveled to Midbar Paran, from there on the 29th of Sivan the Meraglim were sent. They returned 40 days later, which culminated in Klal Yisroel crying the night of Tisha B'Av.
Lastly we find at the beginning of Sefer Devorim Moshe Rabbeinu criticized Klal Yisroel for many events that had happened over the previous 40 years. Moshe Rabbeinu criticizes them discreetly by mentioning the places where the events had occurred. One of the places mentioned is Chatzeiros.  Rashi explains that Moshe Rabbeinu was referring to the sin of Korach. We see from here that the events of Korach happened while Klal Yisroel were in Chatzeiros waiting for Miriam during the week between the 22nd and the 29th of Sivan.

All told, during the last week of Sivan three significant incidences occurred; the sin of Miriam, the argument of Korach, and the sending of the Meraglim. It may be possible to say that the common thread between these events was a lack of respect for our leaders; the speaking of Lashon HaRah against Moshe Rabbeinu, the arguing against Moshe Rabbeinu and the Am Yisroel pushing the leaders to do something not very wise.

Since the last week of Sivan is a period where Klal Yisroel sinned in this way, it must be an appropriate time for us to take this issue to heart and rectify our ways in this area.

Mon, 30 Jun 2008 03:00:00 +0000