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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Rav Avigdor Nebenzahl on the Beit Shemesh Elections - Rare Visit

One of Israel's most prominent Rabbis. He is well respected by both Dati Leumi and Chareidi Communities. He is the former chief Rabbi of the Old City Jerusalem, Rabbi of the Ramban Synagogue in the Old City and a Posek at Yeshivat Hakotel.

Below is the English Translation of his talk to the Beit Shemesh Residents in light of this Tuesday’s Municipal Elections (Below that is the Hebrew Version)

 
MAKING TORAH THE PRIORITY OF OUR LIVES 

“The Navi (Shmuel I 6:8-9) relates that when the Philistines decided to return the Ark of the Covenant to the Jewish people, they conducted an experiment to test this decision. They placed it on a wagon and set the oxen on their way. “If it shall pass in the boundary of Beit Shemesh,” they said, “then it is a sign that the Jews indeed are worthy of reclaiming the Aron Hakodesh.” The oxen began pulling the wagon towards Beit Shemesh, with Philistine dignitaries following with anticipation, and they reached the boundary of Beit Shemesh, whose residents were occupied with the wheat harvest. The people of Beit Shemesh saw the Ark and were overjoyed. The Navi then writes (ibid. 19), “And [G-d] smote the people of Beit Shemesh, for they had seen the Ark of G-d.”

What did the people of Beit Shemesh do to deserve such a punishment? One opinion in Chazal explains, “They were bowing and reaping, bowing and reaping.” Now, these people were involved in farming the Land of Israel, which according to the Chasam Sofer is an absolute mitzvah of Yishuv Ha’Aretz. Nonetheless, the problem with their behavior was that, despite their awareness of the importance of bowing before the Ark of Hashem, they were unwilling to put aside their tools and concentrate on Kevod Shamayim. In our terms, they had a real problem with their priorities in life. Yishuv Eretz Yisrael is a great mitzvah, but the honor of Hashem and the Torah has to come first. 
When we view the issues involved in the upcoming elections, it is true that there are many important things in life, but the most important values are Torah, Shabbos and an environment of Yiras Shamayim. All other considerations are insignificant in comparison to these.

The Mishnah (Pirkei Avos 6:10) relates that Rabbi Yosi ben Kisma was encountered by a gentleman who offered him million of gold coins and precious gems if he would relocate to the man’s town. Rabbi Yosi responded, “If you would give me all of the silver, gold and precious stones in the world, I would still live only in a Makom Torah (a Torah community).” One can do incredible things for a city with municipal resources, such as building homes, parks, bringing industry to the city… One can do many good things. However, none of this measures up to creating a City of Torah and Yiras Shamayim, a City of Shemiras Shabbos. A City that respects Torah scholars is above all else.

In Birkas Hamazon, we thank Hashem for “the desirable, good and broad land that You bequeathed to our forefathers.” Obviously, we have to thank Hashem for the land that produced the food that we have eaten, but the continuation of this berachah “and for the covenant that You have sealed into our flesh, and for the Torah that you have taught us…” is puzzling. How is this relevant to the topic at hand? Rather, this teaches us that the entire mission of Eretz Yisrael and its uniqueness is only as a vehicle for a more perfect Torah life. 

There are many other beautiful lands around the world, but they lack the special quality of Eretz Yisrael –the Torah dimension. This is why we all came to live here in Eretz Yisrael. One can be a good Jew in Chutz La’Aretz as well. Did not the Rif, Rambam and Vilna Gaon all reside in Chutz La’Aretz? But the goal of aliyah is solely for the sake of spiritual growth in a place whose raison d’être is to be a place of Torah, Yiras Shamayim and complete mitzvah observance.

It is obvious that the non-observant community cannot be disenfranchised, and the Mayor certainly has not neglected and will not ignore their needs, even if they do not vote for him. Nonetheless, it is vital to be amongst those who cast their vote for Torah and mitzvos. This is an opportunity for each of you to declare in the ballot box, “I ‘support’ Hashem, I belong to Hashem and I am His servant!” A servant does not take marginal considerations into account. He simply does the bidding of his Father in Heaven. 

This is a chance for each of you to vote for Moshe Abutbul, who has a wealth of municipal experience and will continue to raise the quality of life for all local residents. He will also continue to work to foster peace and fraternity in the city. We all sincerely hope and yearn for the strife to end, but we yearn for a Shalom that is Shabbat Shalom, a Torah of Shalom –for the only true peace, is the peace of Torah. This is why the berachah of Sim Shalom at the end of the Amidah emphasizes, “In the light of His countenance, Hashem gave us a living Torah and a loving kindness,” for any concept of Shalom without Torah is plain nonsense. 

It is vital to support Mayor Moshe Abutbul, so that he may fulfill the many tasks that await him successfully. May Hashem bless us all, that instead of my coming from Jerusalem to Beit Shemesh, you will all merit the thrice-yearly trip to Jerusalem with the restoration of the service in the Beis Hamikdash speedily in our times, Amen.”    


 HEBREW BEGINS HERE:
 דברי הגאון רבי אביגדור נבנצל שליט"א רב בירושלים העתיקה, לתושבי בית שמש השבוע 

  פותחים בכבוד אכסניה א"כ צריך קודם כל לדבר על בית שמש כתוב בנביא שמואל א' ו פסוקים ח-ט  שפלשתים לאחר שלקחו את ארון האלוקים החליטו להחזיר את ארון האלוקים ליהודים, הם קשרו ושמו אותו על העגלה 'וראיתם אם דרך גבולו יעלה בית שמש', אם הארון יגיע לבית שמש סימן שצריך להחזיר אותו ליהודים. מה קרה כאשר הגיע הארון לבית שמש? הנביא אומר שם פסוקים יב-יג: וישרנה הפרות בדרך על בית שמש וגו' וסרני פלשתים הולכים אחריהם עד גבול בית שמש'. ובית שמש קוצרים קציר חיטים בעמק'. הם היו עסוקים בקציר חיטים, לפי החתם סופר זה אפילו מצוה של ישוב ארץ ישראל 'וישאו את עיניהם ויראו את הארון וישמחו לראות' ואח"כ שכתוב כל מה שפלשתים עשו הנביא אומר שם פסוק יט 'ויך באנשי בית שמש' הקב"ה  נתן מכה לאנשי בית שמש 'כי ראו בארון ה''. מסבירים חז"ל מדוע הכה ה' פתאום את אנשי בית שמש? שני דעות בחז"ל ולפי דעה אחת 'קוצרים ומשתחווים היו', הם היו קוצרים קציר חיטים ויחד עם זה השתחוו לארון ה', הם הבינו שצריך להשתחוות לארון ה' כפי שמובן, אבל יחד עם זה לא רצו להפסיק את הקצירה של החיטים, וזה לא תרוץ, מפני שצריך להבין להשתחוות לארון ה' בלי לעסוק באותה שעה בקציר החיטים,  מכאן יש ללמוד שצריך לדעת מה יותר חשוב בחיים, נכון שישוב ארץ ישראל זו מצוה, אבל כבוד התורה זה דבר עוד יותר גדול וצריך להעדיף את זה על פני כל שיקול אחר, ואי אפשר להשוות את שני הדברים יחד

כשאנחנו עומדים לפני בחירות צריך לדעת את הדבר הזה, שאמנם נכון שיש דברים חשובים אחרים בחיים, אבל הדבר החשוב ביותר שתהיה תורה, שתהיה שבת, שיהיו דברים של יראת שמים ויראת חטא, ולא שיקולים אחרים. שיקולים אחרים אמנם קיימים אבל הם נדחים מפני השיקולים של הפיכת המקום למקום תורה.

מובא בפרקי אבות פרק ו בשם רבי יוסי בן קיסמא שאמר: 'אמר רבי יוסי בן קיסמא פעם אחת הייתי מהלך בדרך ופגע בי אדם אחד ונתן לי שלום והחזרתי לו שלום, אמר לי רבי מאיזה מקום אתה אמרתי לו מעיר גדולה של חכמים ושל סופרים אני, אמר לי רבי רצונך שתדור עמנו במקומנו ואני אתן לך אלף אלפים דינרי זהב ואבנים טובות ומרגליות, אמרתי לו בני אם אתה נותן לי כל כסף וזהב ואבנים טובות ומרגליות שבעולם איני דר אלא במקום תורה'. כלומר, שהרי עם כסף ניתן לעשות הרבה דברים טובים אפשר לעשות כבישים טובים בתים טובים הרבה דברים לרווחת התושבים ופארקים בתי חרושת ומפעלים, אכן, הרבה דברים ניתן לעשות, ובכל זאת הכל לא שוה למקום תורה, כי הדבר הכי חשוב שיהיה מקום תורה, מקום של תורה ויראת שמים, מקום של שמירת שבת, מקום שמכבדים לומדי תורה זה מה שחשוב לפני כל שיקול אחר. ישנם באמת שיקולים נוספים, יש דברים יפים שדרושים לעיר ואני לא אומר שלא צריך אותם, אבל קודם לכל הוא שיהיה מקום של תורה ויראת שמים. זה מה שצריך לקבוע כשעומדים לבחור. שמעתי שיש אנשים שמתנגדים לבחירות, אמרתי, שכביכול גם הקב"ה עסק בבחירות 'אתה בחרתנו מכל העמים' 'הבוחר בתורה ובמשה עבדו ובישראל עמו', צריך בחירות, אבל צריך לדעת במה לבחור, לבחור בדברים הנכונים ולא בדברים שאינם נכונים, צריך לדעת מה קודם לכל דבר אחר. אלו דברי רבי יוסי בן קיסמא שאומר שנכון שניתן עם אלף אלפים דינרי זהב וכסף אפשר לעשות הרבה דברים טובים, אבל מקום תורה זה יותר גדול ויותר מכריע נגד כל הדברים הטובים שאפשר לעשות עם אותם אלפי דנרי זהב ומרגליות טובות. והרי זאת המטרה שבשבילה באנו לארץ ישראל כמו שאומר הכתוב )תהילים קה מד-מה( 'ויתן להם ארצות גויים ועמל לאומים ירשו בעבור ישמרו חוקיו ותורותיו ינצורו

ודאי אסור לקפח גם את הציבור החילוני, ראש העיר ודאי לא יקפח גם את הציבור שלא מצביע בעדו, אבל חשוב להיות מהמצביעים בתורה ובמצוות, זה הזדמנות לכל אחד בקלפי כשלא רואים אותו להודיע 'אני תומך בה' אני שייך לה', עבד ה'. עבד לא עושה שיקולים צדדיים, עבד רק ממלא את רצונו של אביו שבשמים. זה ההזדמנות לכל אחד להצביע עבור הרב משה אבוטבול שיש לו כבר נסיון ובעזרת ה' ימשיך להגדיל את רווחת כל התושבים, אבל בעיקר לשמור על השבת ועל שאר הדברים החשובים וכן שיהיה שלום בעיר נקווה שלא יוספו קטטות בעיר אלא שיהיה שלום בעיר, אבל שלום עם תורה שלום עם שבת ושלום עם כל הדברים הדרושים. שלום בלי תורה אינו שלום אמיתי, רק שלום עם תורה הוא שלום אמיתי. זה הרי הברכה שאנחנו גומרים איתה את תפילת שמונה עשרה הברכה על שלום, אבל כאשר אנו מבקשים על השלום אנו מוסיפים מיד 'כי באור פניך נתת לנו תורת חיים ואהבת חסד' שלא יהיה שלום סתם שלום של הבל, אלא שלום של תורה וחסד דברים טובים ושמירת שבת זה השלום האמיתי זה והמתנה הטובה שהקב"ה נתן לנו, השבת

חשוב מאוד לתמוך בהרב משה אבוטבול שיוכל למלא את המשימות שלו בהצלחה מרובה. והקב"ה יעזור שבמקום שיבואו מירושלים לבית שמש לדבר אליכם. תבואו אתם לירושלים שלוש פעמים בשנה ותתפללו לפני ה' בירושלים ותביאו את הקרבנות במהרה בימינו אמן

Read More About Rav Avigdor Nebenzahl 


Monday, March 3, 2014

Amazing True Story - A Tale of Two Grandfathers

This is a true story involving the Chofetz Chaim (1838-1933) and Rav Shimon Schwab (1908-1995).

Rav Schwab once visited the Chofetz Chaim, and the Chofetz Chaim asked him if he were a Kohen, Levi or Yisroel. Rav Schwab answered that he was a Yisroel. As it is well known, the Chofetz Chaim was a Kohen [Priest, descended from Aharon the High Priest].

The Chofetz Chaim said to Rav Schwab, "Do you know the difference between me and you? Soon the Beis HaMikdash [House of Sanctity - Temple] will be rebuilt. Everyone will go crowd into the Courtyard of the Beis HaMikdash for the first time. There will be a guard at the door who will ask the people whether they are Kohanim, Leviim [Jews descended from the tribe of Levi], or Yisraelim [Jews from tribes other than Levi]. The Kohanim will get to go inside and do the Service of the Beis HaMikdash. I will be one of those people. You, Rav Schwab, with all the other Yisraelim will be left outside. All the Yisraelim will be terribly jealous of me. They are going to want to do the Service, but the Halacha will be NO! -- Kohanim inside; Yisraelim outside."

The Chofetz Chaim continued, "Do you know why it will be like that? Because of something that happened thousands of years ago. Thousands of years ago, there was an incident called 'the sin of the Golden Calf.' The Jewish people sinned with the calf. Only 3,000 people participated in that heinous act of idolatry. But when Moshe Rabbeinu called out and asked everyone else to come and put out the fire... When he issued those famous words 'Whoever is for G-d, gather around me' [Shmos 32:26], do you know what happened? Only the tribe of Levi showed up. My grandfather came and responded to that call and your grandfather sat there and did nothing. Therefore, the Kohanim, who come from the tribe of Levi, will go into the Beis HaMikdash. But you, Yisraelim are going to be on the outside because you sat there and did not respond."

The Chofetz Chaim then looked at Rav Schwab and said to him, "What do you think? Am I trying to make you feel bad? Am I trying to rub your face in it? Chas V'Sholom [Heaven forbid]! I want to teach you a lesson. Many times in life, you will hear a little voice go off in your head that will say 'Whoever is for G-d, gather around me.' An event will occur or an issue will be raised. Everybody is going to be told 'Stand up and be counted.' In whose camp are you? I want you to know that questions like that and challenges like that have implications not only for you but for generations and generations after you. Because your grandfather did not answer 'Yes' in the affirmative to 'Who is for G-d, gather to me', you are excluded from the Beis HaMikdash Service. It was an act that has implications thousands of years later. Because my grandfather said yes, I am a Kohen now and I am going to do the Service."

"Never forget", the Chofetz Chaim told Rav Schwab, "everybody has his moments of 'Who is for G-d, gather around me.' When you hear that voice, stand up and be counted!”

-- Taken from a Dvar Torah by Rabbi Frand - seen on Torah.org ( Parsha Ki Sisa from 2004 )

Thursday, August 8, 2013

This World, The Next World, and Your Socks

The end was drawing near. Mr Wolf Lazerson, one of the richest Jews in the country was on his death bed with all his children surrounding him. "I have two last requests to make," he said in a weak voice. "The first is that you do not read my will until the shloshim, and the second is that you bury me with my socks on"

"But Dad," his son protested "halacha doesn't  allow such a thing."
"I don't care," Wolf said "that's what I want." No amount of convincing was going to change his mind. He insisted on keeping the socks on, and that was that. His children were disturbed knowing that their father insisted on doing something that he himself knew was contrary to halacha.

A few days later, the father was niftar and the children consulted a poseik who told them that their father's wish must be ignored and so he was buried without his socks. At the shloshim, they opened his will. "My dear Children," they read, "I left you a lot of money and a large estate. I wanted you to realize before dividing it up that in the end you can't take any of it with you - not even your socks. love, Dad."

and as Rabbi Dovid Kaplan concluded, a story like this can really knock your socks off.

In this weeks sedra, it says "VeLo takim lecha matzeva asher saneh Hashem Elokecha" 
"and you shall not make for yourselves a pillar..."
It is brought down in Pirkei Avot, this world is compared to a corridor leading up to the world to come. Fix yourselves in the corridor so you can enter the Banquet Hall. A person needs to be constantly aware that this world is fleeting and temporal. One must utilize all his worldly dealings and all his physical necessities as a preparation for the service of G-d, for the world to come.  Chazal often refer to "worldly pleasures" as "lecha" (literally "for yourselves")

Kedushas HaLevi teaches us that the Torah is saying "VeLo takim lecha matzeva..." and you shall not make the "Lecha" a pillar.  In other words, you shall not make your worldly pleasures into a pillar, i.e., into that which is strong, sturdy and everlasting, but rather, only as preparation for the world to come.

May we  merit to utilize all that Hashem gives us leTova.

Credit:
The short story at the top was taken from Rabbi Dovid Kaplan's Lasting Impact - Short Stories with an Immediate Message - Awesome for the Shabbos Table!


Thursday, February 2, 2012

JewishInfoGraphics.com just launched!

First Blog of it's kind, Fun, Weekly Picture perfect Quotes from Jewish Sources plus beautiful Jewish Info graphics. JUST LAUNCHED. Check it out! http://JewishInfoGraphics.com

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Juggling Bowling Balls in Modiin - don't try this at home

[WARNING: DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME or anywhere else for that matter]
This is Scott Juggling 3 heavy bowling balls...for real!

Where do we have a reference to Juggling from the Torah? Amazingly enough there seems to be reference to juggling in a number of early Jewish sources. These sources include the Mishna, the first major written redaction of the Jewish oral traditions called the "Oral Torah" - The Mishna was written about 2000 years ago (which even dates back to biblical times in it's oral form.)

The reference in the Mishna reads as follows (Tractate Succah, Chapter 5, Mishna 4) "Pious and prominent men used to dance with burning torches in their hands before the thousands of celebrants; they sang before them songs and praises to G-d. The Levites played on harps and lyres, and with cymbals, trumpets, and numerous musical instruments, upon the fifteen steps leading down to the courtyard." 

The Mishna is describing the celebrations at the Temple in Jerusalem during the Festival of Succoth.  The commentary of Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaki of Troyes, France, 1040-1105 CE) explains the words: "with burning torches"as follows:  "They would throw them up and catch them again, and there were experts who would have 4 or 8, throwing this one and catching this one, throwing this one and catching this one." (This Rashi can also be found in Talmud Bavli, Tractate Succah, first Rashi at the top of 51:b)
The Famous Commentary on the Mishna, Rav Ovadia M'Bartenura explains it similar.

Having said that... There is a great & special mitzva in the Torah to be happy. As the song goes: "Mitzva Gedola Lehiyot B'Simcha" - so I can imagine all the more so, what a great Mitzva it is to make other people happy. I think Scott the Juggler does this one really well. Watch the 6 second video clip above of co-worker and friend, Scott  as he juggles 3 heavy bowling balls at the Yeshpro Bowling Alley in Modiin, Israel. If this doesn't put a smile on your face ...... then watch it again.
Sources: Information about Juggling in Biblical Times was adapted from an article which originally appeared in Your Jerusalem, July, 1997 by Raphael Harris, and recently discovered on Scott The Jugglers Website.

Friday, December 30, 2011

What Yeshiva Students in Bet Shemesh are giving out to random people on the streets

Boys from Yeshivat Amit Nachshon are giving these out to random people on the streets of Beit Shemesh: A note with a candy.


It's beautiful how they are spreading Ahavat Chinam in Israel.
Kol Hakavod Yeshivat Amit Nachshon - You should all be zoche to live long lives filled with Torah and Mitzvot, and greet the Moshiach soon in our days.

Translation of words on the note:
Continuing to live together!!!
If we will it - it's no Dream

Adding to the Love of Israel!
Yeshiva Students Amit Nachshon


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Friday, September 9, 2011

9 11 - September 11 2001 - Divine Intervention Miracle Story - Video Clip

Song based on a True Story
How a person was saved from the Sbarro pizza bombing in Israel and then saved again from the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Amazing Story of Divine Intervention.
Produced By Yossi Gross. http://yossigross.com