Geshmack Dvar Torah

has been moved to new address

Sorry for inconvenience...

Geshmack Dvar Torah of the Week: October 2009

Thursday, 29 October 2009

לך לך and the sensitivity of syntax

How about this one for a Shabbos Table pleaser?

At the beginning of this week's sedra, 'ה tells אברם, as he is called at this point, that ואברכה מברכיך ומקללך אאור - I will bless those who bless you and those who curse you, I will curse.
Why does 'ה change around the order of the verbs - following ואברכה מברכיך, it should say ואאור מקללך, thereby keeping the syntax the same?

There are 2 stunning answers that I saw a Rav - whose name escapes me at present - bring:

Firstly, the Vilna Gaon says as follows: we know that a ברכה given by an עשיר is going to be more generous than that of an עני, as he has the experience and comfort with which to issue such a ברכה. Conversely, an עני, who generally is perceived to suffer more, will likely give heavier curses than a wealthy man. Therefore, says the Gaon, it says ואברכה first with regards to ''מברכיך'', so that anyone who is blessing you should already be an עשיר at the point in time that he blesses you, so that the ברכה is maximised. However, when it comes to ''מקללך'', it only says that 'ה will curse him afterwards, so that at the time he curses אברם, he will still be an עשיר and the curse will be minimal!

That's beautiful answer number one...

Now for beautiful answer number two - from the כלי יקר: we have a concept of מחשבה כמעשה, that 'ה treats our thoughts as if they were acted upon. however, חז''ל point out that this is only with regards to our intended מצוות. with regards to our עבירות, Hashem doesn't treat our negative thoughts as having been acted upon.
Therefore, ואברכה - 'I will bless', occurs even before a man is an actual מברך, even at the point that he thinks it. מה שאין כן with regard to the מקלל who will only receive the reciprocal curse from 'ה if he vocalises it. Therefore, אאור only comes after he is established as such!

Now that is stunning!

מתוק מדבש!

Geshmack !

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Benefitting from Miracles

R' Chaim Brisker asks how the jug of oil the Hasmoneans found in the Chanukah story was suitable for use beyond the first day, seeing as it wasn't olive oil after the first day, it was שמן נס, and the commandment to light the Menorah was with olive oil specifically. However you answer the Beis Yosef's legendary question, at the end of the day, 7/8 days were lit with something that might physically have been olive oil, but wasn't from an olive! What was the point of using it after the first day? And secondly, there is a Gemara in Taanis 24 that states that one shouldn't benefit from a miracle:

"...מהא לא תזבנון, דמעשה נסים הוא..."

An example of this maybe the stories of old school Rabbonim in Eastern Europe who didn't have food for Shabbos, and when the Rebbetzin found something for them to eat, the Rabbi would refuse it on the grounds it would diminish from his Olam Habah, perhaps with this Gemara in mind.

Let us go on a tangent for a moment, to R' Yonasan ben Uziel by Parshas Vayakhel, in Shemos 35:27, where it says the princes, הַנְּשִׂאִם, brought הַשָּׁמֶן לְמָאוֹר and spices, but it says הַנְּשִׂאִם without the letter י. which Rashi explains to mean that their intentions were good, but their actions were lacking, in that they underestimated the will of the Jewish people to donate materials for the construction of the Mishkan, so their name was shortened here to teach us to act wholeheartedly. R' Yonasan ben Uziel explains differently, and he read Nesiim with no letters as Neshaim, Aramaic for clouds.

(כז) וענני שמיא אזלין לפישון ודליין מתמן ית אבני בורלות חילא וית אבני אשלמותא לשקעא באיפודא ובחושנא ומחתן יתהון באנפי מדברא אזלין רברבני ישראל ומייתן יתהון לצרוך עיבידתא

(כח) ותיבין ענני שמיא ואזלין לגן עדן ונסבין מתמן ית בושמא בחירא וית משחא דזיתא לאנהרותא וית אפרסמא דכיא למשח רבותא ולקטורת בוסמיא

Essentially, clouds came to the princes, with stones, oil and spices from Heaven! Hafla VaFeleh! (Unbelievable!)

R' Chaim Zevin asks R'Chaim Brisker's question here, how could they use these for the Mishkan, they might have physically been olive oil/stones/spices, but again, they were Maasei Nissim. And again, the Gemara in Taanis.

We can answer this by looking at our Sidra, 8:11

וַתָּבֹא אֵלָיו הַיּוֹנָה לְעֵת עֶרֶב, וְהִנֵּה עֲלֵה-זַיִת טָרָף בְּפִיהָ - the bird came back in the evening with an olive branch in it's mouth.

Hardly earth-shattering.

On this, the Ramban says:

"רבי ביריי אמר, נפתחו לה שערי גן עדן והביאה אות"

that ".....the olive branch was from Gan Eden". Earth-shattering!

Knowing this, R' Tzvi Pesach Franck concludes that we can differentiate between miracles. The cases we are discussing were not Yesh Meayin- something from nothing. These were Yesh MeYesh, something from something, they were in Heaven! They were then moved to Earth. They were thus completely permissible, much like the Manna, which was not a new "thing", rather, it is what the angels grind to make their bread (Tractate Yuma). He draws the conclusion that nothing new was created, which was what the issur by Taanis was referring to. That is to say that the miracle was not their creation, which would be forbidden to benefit from according to Taanis 24, but rather, their miraculous manipulation to be somewhere else at the relevant times.

Sneak peak at Parshas Toldos 27:25, where it says:

"וַיֹּאמֶר, הַגִּשָׁה לִּי וְאֹכְלָה מִצֵּיד בְּנִי--לְמַעַן תְּבָרֶכְךָ, נַפְשִׁי; וַיַּגֶּשׁ-לוֹ, וַיֹּאכַל, וַיָּבֵא לוֹ יַיִן, וַיֵּשְׁתְּ"

"And he said: 'Bring it near to me, and I will eat of my son's venison, that my soul may bless thee.' And he brought it near to him, and he did eat; and he brought him wine, and he drank."

If we read backwards slightly, the more astute reader will note that at no point did his mother prepare wine, and R' Yonason ben Uziel again points out the previous idea of things existing in Heaven and says

ואמר קריב לי ואיכול מצידא דברי בגין תברכינך נפשי וקריב ליה ואכל ולא הוה חמרא גביה ואזדמן ליה מלאכא ואייתי מן חמרא דאצטנע בעינבויי מן יומי שירוי עלמא ויהביה ביד יעקב ויעקב אמטי ליה לאבוי ושתי

" angel brought wine made from grapes that were in heaven since Creation......"

We can ask the same questions, Maasei Nissim, and assur to benefit from, and the answer is in the quote. They were in Heaven from creation. No problems! But what a phenomenal Yesod about the nature of Heaven...

Geshmack !

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, 16 October 2009

The Nature of Marriage

R' Shamshon Refael Hirsch explains an idea where the first use of something in the Torah explains how it is used in all other cases. He cites the blessing by a Pidyon Haben "זה קטן, גדול יהיה" - this small one, may he become big". This blessing on the face of it, is pretty odd to say the least. He explains that the first instances of the words קטן/גדול, are in reference to the מאורות, the sun and moon. The moon only reflects light, whereas the sun actually produces light. The blessing thus means, that the baby, at the time, reflects the parents, and is incapable of looking after itself, should become like the sun, or a great person of his own right.

Adam has a problem of finding himslef an עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדּוֹ, a partner, and this problem is concluded when it says at 2:21

"וַיִּסְגֹּר בָּשָׂר, תַּחְתֶּנָּה" - and He closed the flesh in its place.

This is the first time the letter ס is used in a non-name word in the Torah. Using the previously stated idea, there are several points to draw from here:

1. The letter ס, when spelt out, reads סֶמֶך, a support, meaning that the woman was meant to support the man and be there for him.
2. The letter ס is circular, and in Kabbalah, a woman is like a circle, and a man like a square. The woman is meant to be an עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדּוֹ, around him always. Incidentally, old rings in the cities of mekubalim like Tzfat have had rings found that were used at weddings, which have a square, the Kabbalistic representation of a man surrounded by a circle, illustrating this concept.
3. This circular idea is further demonstrated by the Gematria of עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדּוֹ, which equals 360, which happens to be the amount of degrees in a circle.

Geshmack !

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

How we have a Yetzer Hara

וַיִּהְיוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם עֲרוּמִּים, הָאָדָם וְאִשְׁתּוֹ וְלֹא יִתְבֹּשָׁשׁוּ

" And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed."

ולא יתבוששו: שלא היו יודעים דרך צניעות להבחין בין טוב לרע, ואף על פי שנתנה בו דעה לקרות שמות, לא נתן בו יצר הרע עד אכלו מן העץ ונכנס בו יצר הרע וידע מה בין טוב לרע

and (they) were not ashamed: for they did not know the way of modesty, to distinguish between good and evil (Gen. Rabbah) (Targum Yerushalmi), and even though knowledge was granted him to call [all the creatures] names, he was not imbued with the evil inclination until he ate of the tree, and the evil inclination entered into him, and he knew the difference between good and evil. (Rashi)

It would appear from Rashi's words that prior to eating the forbidden fruit, he had no Evil Inclination. This being the case, how is it that Adam was capable of performing a sin, breaking God's commandment, seeing as he had no inclination to do so?

Furthermore, Chazal teach us that the purpose of creation was to partake in the service of God, by battling the Evil Inclination that tries to prevent one from fulfilling hsi duties and overcoming it. Again, this being the case, what function would the creation have served if there was no Evil Inclination, as we have understood Rashi to have said.

R' Chaim Volozhin explains that certainly Adam had all the faculties, notably free will, instilled within him before the sin, to enable to him to do as he saw fit. What he didn't have, was an internal urge to sin or do evil, rather, this Evil Inclination, Satan, was an external being to Adam, and it had to physically manifest itself as the snake to ensnare Adam and Eve, unlike today, where this battle is an internal battle, choice, decision.

If we review the original quote from Rashi, it would seem that he implies this:
"לא נתן בו יצר הרע עד אכלו מן העץ ונכנס בו יצר הרע"

that the Evil Inclination only became an innate thing in man once he consumed the fruit and it became part of him.

Geshmack !

Labels: , , ,