- Tehillim 76 helps save one from fire & water.
- Tehillim 148 is helpful in a case of fire.
- Tehillim 149 is helpful to prevent fire from increasing/spreading.
We should never have reason to need the following, but it's helpful to know that according to the Chida (Rav Chaim Yosef David Azoulai):
For more information:
Yesterday, a frum man in his late 20s sat down to eat his lunch near where my husband sat.
He invited my husband to a Torah shiur (class) he gave every Monday night at Tzomet Pat in Yerushalayim. (My husband couldn't recall more information than that—not even his name—I'm very sorry. But if you're in that area Monday night, maybe you'll get lucky and find it.)
Giving a weekly Torah shiur comprised part of his self-improvement program after his brush with death around 6 years ago.
This is what he told my husband...
Meeting Malach Hamavet, Plus Being Put on Trial
At around age 22, this young frum man was racing down the road at around 240 kph/149 mph—for no other reason than the reckless thrill of it—when he crashed into a cement barrier.
His soul left his body and he hung around in the air for around 15 minutes, watching the ambulances arrive & the paramedics fight to bring him back to life.
Then he found himself face-to-face with an terrifying black figure sporting a head shaped like an upside-down artichoke covered with eyes. Two big eyes looked out from the front of the head and the rest of its head was covered in eyes, like the pattern of artichoke leaves covering the artichoke.
It was Malach Hamavet—the Angel of Death.
(BTW, Judaism does hold a tradition that Malach Hamavet is covered with eyes.)
Two dogs accompanied Malach Hamavet, along with many other black figures.
(Interestingly, in Tehillim 22:17, David Hamelech pleads with Hashem: "For dogs have surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me..." and in Tehillim 22:21: "Save my soul from the sword; my only one from the grip of a dog"-- yechidah, translated here as "only one" is also another name for the soul.)
Grotesque and terrifying, Malach Hamavet started challenging the young man: "Why did you do this? And what about this? And this-and-such?"
The young man could not answer because you cannot lie (not even tepid excuses or accidently-on-purpose passive-aggressive stuff) in the World of Truth.
He knew he lacked real justifications for the accusations of Malach Hamavet.
Then Malach Hamavet and his frightening escorts took the young man through different worlds, where he saw angels with wings, until they arrived at the Beit Din shel Maalah (the Heavenly Court).
The young man could not see the judges.
Also, family members who'd already passed on stood in the background, but were not allowed to approach him.
(Meaning, they weren't allowed to help or defend him.)
In general, he was finding the whole experience terrifying beyond imagination.
The Beit Din was about to deliver their verdict when the young man's deceased rav showed up.
(Rav Yazdi, a disciple of Rav Kaduri.)
Rav Yazdi brought a little boy before the Beit Din, who testified that this young man assisted with a kimcha d'Pischa organization (a project to collect & deliver kosher-for-Pesach food to any Jews in need prior to Pesach).
"Because of him, I had what to eat on Pesach," concluded the little boy.
With that, the young man found himself whisked out of the Heavenly courtroom & woke up in his physical body.
Fortunately, he embraced his second chance and straightened out the lax parts of his Torah observance, upholding the mitzvot with renewed enthusiasm.
The Importance of Chessed, Tzedakah, and a Connection with a Real Rav
It helps to see how the chessed we do really does matter.
Sometimes, religious girls' groups or schools go to help at a food bank or collect clothes & items for a gemach, and many other chessed activities.
Boys collect for their yeshivah, help out with kimcha d'Pischa, etc.
Many of us have engaged in such projects.
It feels more like a lark, a social activity, but it really means something in Shamayim—as shown clearly in the true story related above.
Also, connecting to a real rav helps. We hear these stories and they feature truly special rabbanim (many times, chassidic Rebbes of yore—but apparently, any real rav helps!).
Who we choose to follow matters.
A rabbi with good intellect (and maybe also charisma, plus enthralling oratorical skills), but lacking in middot and true spiritual greatness, will not be the one to come rescue you as you stand before the Beit Din shel Maalah.
(I mean, after all, we never hear stories in which a regular Rabbi Ploni Almoni intervenes.)
Furthermore, even after Rav Yazdi passed away, the young man still considered Rav Yazdi "his" rav.
So apparently, as long as you still consider yourself a talmid or chassid of that rav, his merit helps you.
We should also say Tehillim/Psalm 22 with a LOT of kavanah (heartfelt sincerity)!
And finally...don't drive recklessly!
Malbim Dictionary Definitions: The Differences between Hebrew Words for "Judgement" & "Law" & "Remember"
Today, with the help of the commentary of Malbim*, we're going to look at common Hebrew words that seem synonymous, but contain nuanced differences.
You'll also see that the same word sometimes contains different (yet interconnected) meanings, depending on how it's used.
These words occur commonly in prayer and Tehillim (Psalms), and it helps to know what you're really saying when you use them.
Note: All the definitions come from Malbim. The definitions of torah, mitzvah, edut, & pikud come from Malbim on Tehillim 119:1.
Din, Dinim — דין , דינים
Din (often translated as "judgement") means hearing out the claims & accusations.
It's basically the judicial proceedings.
In connection to that idea, din often means "consequences," whether positive or negative.
We often speak of harsh din or sweetened din—meaning that the claims, accusations, and consequences end up harsh or sweetened.
Mishpat, Mishpatim — משפט , משפטים
Mishpat (often translated as "judgement" or "law" or "ordinance" or "statue") is the conclusion of the din.
In other words, mishpat is the verdict. (Or, in the case of its verb shafat, the act of reaching the verdict.)
Its root is shafat--שפט—often translated as "judged."
Shofet--שופט—is "a judge."
Mishpat also means the person-to-person (bein adam l'chavero) laws.
The reasoning behind a mishpat is understandable to the human mind (as opposed to chok, a law in which its reason is not comprehensible).
This is why, in Tehillim for example, different kinds of mishpatim are mentioned.
There is mishpat b'tzedek (laws & verdicts conducted with fair justice), like the mishpat of Hashem.
Then there is mishpat formed according to the social mores of a particular culture—and these mishpatim aren't always just.
Tzedek — צדק
Tzedek (often translated as "righteousness" or "judgement" or "justice") is an act, a deed.
It oversees the mishpat, the verdict, so that the mishpat concludes in justice and not corruption.
Torah, Torot — תורה , תורות
Obviously, Torah often means the Bible.
But it's also used to mean "law" or "commandment," especially in its plural form, torot.
When used colloquially, torah includes all the teachings of Hashem: beliefs, instructions, character traits, and all the behaviors applicable to a person.
Mitzvah, Mitzvot — מצוה , מצוות
Mitzvah (translated as commandment) are the general commandments of the Torah (Bible).
Chok/Chukim — חוק , חקים
Chok (often translated as "law" or "statute") is a commandment whose reason isn't known, except to Hashem.
Edut — עדות
Edut (often translated as "testimony") means the stories & events that testify on behalf of Hashem's Greatness.
In particular, edut means the events of Beresheit: the Creation of the Universe & its continuing functions (like how the Sun always rises in the East & sets in the West, the Moon always remains in more or less the same place relative to the Earth & with predictable phases, the Earth spins at a consistent speed on its tilted axis, etc.)
This infuses renewed conviction into the verse edut Hashem ne'emanah—the edut of Hashem is faithful; the functions of the Universe remain stable & reliable (Tehillim 19:8).
Pikud, Pikudim — פיקוד, פיקודים
Pikud (often translated as "statute" or "commandment," etc.) is a mitzvah (commandment) designated to commemorate individual matters.
(Please see its root below--pakad—and note how they go together to embrace the full meaning.)
Zachar — זכר
Zachar (often translated as "remember") includes all its forms: zecher, zikaron, zechirah, yizkor, etc.
It also implies a meaningful act—meaning, there's a purpose to remembering; it needs to be remembered.
Pakad — פקד
Pakad (often translated as "remember") follows on the heels of zachar.
It includes the action of actually doing what was remembered—like when Hashem pakad et Sara: He not only remembered what He promised her, but also fulfilled it.
It also means "commemorate," which is an act of remembering—again, "commemorate" follows on the heels of "remembering;" it acts on what was remembered.
(Please see above for how it relates to pikud.)
For more "dictionary definitions" of Hebrew synonyms by the Malbim, please see:
*The Malbim (1809-1879) was Rabbi Meir Leibush ben Yechiel Michel who was born in Russia and served as rav all over Eastern Europe. He was bitterly fought by the Reform Movement for most of his adult life, even suffering a brief imprisonment under a false accusation in Rumania by wealthy German Reformers. Fortunately, he left us an amazing commentary on the entire Torah among the other valuable works he composed.
In the standard Sifrei Tehillim (Book of Psalms), there are notations on what Tehillim to say if you want to finish davening the entire Book in one week or in one month.
I was investing in the monthly completion of Tehillim and was happy to finish the entire book between Purim & Pesach. Thinking it would be nice to complete the entire Sefer Tehillim every month, I intended to start the same schedule again.
But then I came across this:
The questioner is obviously a wonderfully sincere person, likely somewhat new to Torah observance (with no experience in saying Tehillim), and would like some guidelines on how to get started.
The halachic expert who answers the question praises the questioner for this new step forward, explains a bit about Tehillim, then states:
The main thing is that it be said with concentration, understanding what one is saying.
That was an important reminder.
And it was said by a real expert in Jewish Law.
(If you read the answers to the questions on the website, the rabbis' knowledge in phenomenal. Sometimes, it seems like they pull sources out of a hat. But really, it's not that easy – not at all.)
I don't know how everyone else is, but sometimes, I can get so into "accomplishing" (with all the accompanying feels of failure or at least "not good enough") that it's hard to maintain the essential kavanah too.
Of course, there are mitzvot we must carry out, whether we have kavanah or not (although the kavanah is still vitally important).
We must say brachot before eating, whether we have kavanah or not.
We must daven (this obligation varies according to gender and for women, other essential responsibilities), whether we have kavanah or not.
But saying Tehillim? That's a very worthy and holy act, but not obligatory.
Then the questioner added a follow-up question about whether it's necessary to say Tehillim according to the schedule featured in the Tehillim book:
And again, the halacha expert emphasizes the great significance of the quality & devotion being said, not the amount. Regarding the weekly or monthly schedule, he states:
You don’t have to do this, and that is exactly why I wrote that the main point is not the amount of chapters you say, but the quality and devotion that it is being said.
Both times, the rabbi also blesses the questioner for her efforts.
Anyway, it got me thinking that maybe I should scale down my own Tehillim-reading to one a day – yet say each word with total kavanah.
But then you'll only complete the entire Sefer Tehillim twice a year! protested something inside my head.
And that something is not holiness speaking. That's more like neurosis.
If I say each Tehillim with supreme kavanah, then I'll complete the entire Sefer Tehillim with total kavanah...YAY!
That's a GOOD thing.
And isn't 2 recitations of Sefer Tehillim said over time with total kavanah MUCH better than 12 recitations of Sefer Tehillim raced through with wildly fluctating kavanah?
So I started saying one chapter a day with as much absorption as I could muster. Many Tehillim are something like 9 verses – or less that 20, anyway.
And it feels great.
It's absolutely geshmak.
And then, without meaning to, the Tehillim-reading is followed by something like a mini-hitbodedut session, in which I instinctively start discussing the Tehillim and its meanings with Hashem.
I had no idea that would happen; it's just a natural outgrowth of reading a little bit at a time but with total focus.
And it's very healing, very centering.
And it all made me realize how important it is to get back to basics with spiritual efforts.
Sometimes, you need to scale everything back and pare everything down to the most basic fundamentals.
It's sort of like an anecdote I read about a tremendous talmid chacham who asked his young grandson to read a page of Gemara to him – just the basic text without commentaries or elucidation.
The child was surprised, but complied.
Later, the scholarly grandfather explained that sometimes, he just wanted to hear the words of the Gemara on their own – to hear them anew, fresh & sweet, just the purity of the words themselves.
And this is something that only a not-yet-learned child could give him.
I used to read Tehillim with total simplicity and sincerity. (You can read about that HERE.)
And it seems like this is the perfect time to get back to that.
The Netivot Shalom on How to Use the Loving & Joyful Power of Simchat Torah & Shemini Atzeret to Support You Throughout the Darkest Times of Your Life All Year Long
Since coming to Eretz Yisrael, it took me several years to acclimate to the fact that all the final chagim land on one day at the end of Sukkot. Outside of Eretz Yisrael, they're 2 days.
Anyway, according to the wonderful book, Netivot Shalom, these final days of Simchat Torah & Shemini Atzeret comprise the real holiday of love: the Love of the Creator of the Universe for the Jewish people.
(Note: Everything in this post is taken from Netivot Shalom: Simchat Torah, Ma'amar 5, Ne'ilat HaChag.)
Netivot Shalom stresses that Hashem's Love always exists, but during this final autumn chag, Hashem's Love is revealed at its zenith.
This idea taken from the verse in Shir HaShirim, "the King brought me into His Chamber," describes the intimacy we have with Hashem during Sukkot, an intimacy that culminates in these final days.
Shemini Atzeret (a day unto itself outside of Eretz Yisrael, but the same day as Simchat Torah within Eretz Yisrael) is the day that "locks" up these autumn chagim.
We've made our final plea for rain and other blessings, we've received our final kvittel, the final seal on the upcoming year.
But why all the love & celebration?
Wouldn't it be better to end on the note of teshuvah?
Why, Netivot Shalom asks, do we end this time with such joy & love, rather than the teshuvah & atonement of Yom Kippur?
Being that the rest of the year, many instances of material & spiritual darkness pass over a Jew, and the strengthening of many gloomy inclinations — the metaphorical aspect of the long nights of Tevet [the winteriest month-MR], which are so dark — therefore, The Holy One Blessed Be He gave a last day to lock up the Regalim (Pilgrimage Holidays), this holy chag Simchat Torah, which is an intimate time between Hashem and the Jewish people and within it is revealed the Ultimate Love of Hashem for the Jewish people.
In short, we end this period on the cusp of the darkest & gloomiest days of the year.
While winter literally presents us with our darkest & gloomiest physical days, the above hints at the metaphorical interpretation of the spiritually dark & gloomy days that can occur any time throughout the continuing year.
Netivot Shalom adds:
It happens that even the sins & flaws cause "separating curtains" to appear and obstruct so that one cannot see the Love.
Oncee a Jew has fully connected to Hashem in joy & love on Simchat Torah/Shemini Atzeret, this connection sustains him or her even through the times of darkness, both spiritual and physical darkness.
When we can't see or feel Hashem, the love & joy of these final days remind us that Hashem hasn't rejected or abandoned us; He is merely "hidden."
Here's the rest:
Behold, this is the power that illuminates for a Jew throughout all the times of darkness of the year.
Hold on TIGHT!
In Hallel, which we recite on the chagim, we include the verse from Psalm 118:27 "issru chag ba'avotim ad karnot hamizbeyach" — which basically means taking strong cords to tie the offering to the Altar.
Yet there is a much deeper meaning too.
Netivot Shalom stresses that this time is a most auspicious time to purify one's heart & eyes.
This is a time to focus on shemirat einayim and shemirat halev.
The eyes notice the attractions of the world while the heart feels and ponders them.
This combination leads to sin.
But if we purify our eyes & hearts (especially by asking Hashem to help us with this now), then we save ourselves.
The trait of holiness is the most precious to Hashem.
When a Jew makes himself or herself holy, this grants the Jew special protection and blessings in the face of every kind & any kind of threat.
So Netivot Shalom encourages us to "bind the chag with strong cords, in all the opaque and worldly matters."
There is so much spiritual illumination throughout Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Simchat Torah & Shemini Atzeret.
Yet when it's all over, many people return to what they were before.
How can we prevent this?
"issru chag ba'avotim — bind the chag with strong cords!"
DON'T stay the same as you were before — take the spiritual illumination with you!
The Netivot Shalom quotes an Admor who said:
Thankful am I before You, O Lord My God and God of my Forefathers, for all the loving-kindness you have performed for me during these holy days that have passed. But it is the nature of a human that the day after the Yom Tov, he completely forgets what was.
Everyone faces different situations at this time of year.
There can be ups and downs throughout this day (or especially two days).
But whatever joy and closeness to Hashem we can manage, we need to hold onto it as tight as we can because this is what sustains us throughout the rest of the year.
The above translation is mine and therefore any errors are also mine.
Here in Eretz Yisrael, we've been having some impressive lightning & thunder throughout Sukkot so far (though not as fierce as the thunder & lightning storms of a year or 2 ago).
(NOTE OF CLARIFICATION: The Sukkah storms of last year or the year before consisted of unrelenting booming thunder, which made it frightening to sleep in the Sukkah. This year, lightning played a stronger role, with the thunder not as strong or as frequent. The lightning also appeared as defined bolts, rather than large sheets of flashes in the sky, which is unusual in our area, meaning, the defined bolts are unusual.)
I've been in Eretz Yisrael for over 25 years, and these phenomena are a new thing.
There has also been some mighty wind, but interestingly only a bit of rain (some of which seemed mixed with tepid hail).
What is the message here?
I'm not sure, but Perek Shirah features the Song of Lightning:
בְּרָקִים אוֹמְרִים. בְּרָקִים לַמָּטָר עָשָׂה מוֹצֵא רוּחַ מֵאוֹצְרוֹתָיו
A glance at the main commentaries on this verse (Rashi, the Metzudot, Ibn Ezra, Radak, and Malbim) reveal some insights.
First of all, this verse appears in a Psalm lauding Hashem for all that He did to bring the Jews to Eretz Yisrael, starting off with pounding the Egyptians and taking us out of Egypt, continuing with pounding the Kanaanim and gifting the Jews with Eretz Yisrael, denigrating idols & their adherents, then ending with blessing those who serve in the Beit Hamikdash, and Hashem's Dwelling Place (so to speak) in Yerushalayim.
It begins with the word "Hallelukah" and ends with "Hallelukah."
The commentaries note that wind isn't seen on its own until Hashem makes it move, then we see it by it's effect on stuff and we hear it.
Also, Hashem brings out the wind to blow the clouds to exactly where He wants it to rain.
But what about the lightning?
The commentaries note that lightning flashes brilliantly even amid rain.
"...and the rain does not extinguish it."
The commentaries note that the power of the wind is there all the time, but not seen until Hashem withdraws it from its "storehouse."
"...at the time Hashem will desire for rain to fall, the element of fire and elektri will separate and lightning will be produced."
Basically, the commentaries note the quality of lightning existing among an element that theoretically should extinguish it.
In other words, the brilliant illumination of lightning occurs among that which should disallow its very existence.
As mentioned above, the this week's lightning has been mostly without rain, but its fundamental aspect of rising above its fiery nature and not being extinguished by water (including copious amounts of pouring rain) is still true.
So to summarize, the Song of Lightning hints at:
So there's some food for thought about the message of lightning.
(For the message in wind, please see Song of the Wind.)
"I have sunk in a whirlpool & there is no place to stand..."
The word translated here as "whirlpool" is metzulah in the original text.
Rashi and others translate it as like a muddy mire (more companionable with the previous post).
But Rav Avraham ibn Ezra describes it as in the middle of the sea -- a whirlpool.
Rav Levi Yitzchak Bender acknowledges the simple meaning of the verse:
This person is not only in the terrible quandary of getting stuck in a whirlpool; he can't even stand there — there is additional pain & suffering.
All hope seems lost.
How to Win the Massively Unfair Fight between You & the Giant Muddy Whirlpool
But the Breslover Sages provided an insightful twist on these words:
"There is no place to stand" can also mean that one is not stuck there.
Do not stand in place.
Rav Bender exhorts (Words of Faith Vol. I, pg. 405):
"Deal with it and wrestle and make all effort to get out."
Rav Bender explains that even if all the person sees is mud and he simply cannot wrench himself free, however hard he tries...nonetheless, if he remains stuck and does not move to free himself, "he will certainly sink deeper with no possibility of being saved, chas v'shalom."
The way of struggling is one foot in, one foot out.
"I give a blow, I take a blow," says Rav Bender.
Taking a blow or getting caught in the mud, getting all wet & dirty — this itself is the nisyon, it's not the final judgement on you.
Too many people condemn us when they see us struggling and muddy.
Heck, we condemn ourselves for our clumsy desperate flailing & our muddily soaked appearance.
But according to Rav Bender and according to David Hamelech, that's not how Hashem sees things at all.
Rav Bender insists that the main thing is to try. We must be strong and ensure that last foot steps out...
As long as we WANT to escape the muddy whirlpool and the mire, as long as we TRY to free ourselves, we're beautiful to Hashem.
And He'll make us win in the end.
For Parshat Shelach: Making His Name Great, Rav Miller speaks about chilul Hashem & kiddush Hashem, including compelling examples of both. Then he spends a lot of time talking about gratitude, focusing on fruit, and doing so in a really interesting & witty manner.
Plus, he offers practical tips for improving your derech eretz.
And as usual, he places tremendous emphasis on noticing all the good that Hashem does for us.
Here's an excerpt:
If you sit and look at an apple or an orange for fifteen minutes, you won’t be the same person anymore - I guarantee it.
Rav Avigdor Miller on Parshat Korach
For Parshat Korach: On Dangerous Neighbors, we have a discussion about bad neighbors.
As usual, Rav Miller brings the world of Tanach to life and draws us into it.
Ever wonder what it was like when your house caught tzaraat? With Rav Miller, you're suddenly standing in the house and experiencing it all, including the emotional aspect.
He elaborates with vivid visualization (you on a telegraph pole in an attempt to escape a bereft she-bear) on the verse in Mishlei 17:12.
The part about guarding your mind is so powerful and so chilling.
Rav Miller explains why David Hamelech started Tehillim the way he did:
He begins with the following words: Ashrei ha'ish asher lo halach ba'atzat reshaim - “How fortunate is the man who did not walk in the counsel of the wicked” (1:1).
A Real Moshav Leitzim
It reminded me of an online gathering place for frum people. A few years ago, I read it a couple of times when the topic seemed interesting, but I quickly learned to avoid it.
First of all, you learn very little about whatever topic is running there.
Secondly, it was the most obvious moshav leitzim I'd ever seen. Interestingly, I don't recall anything untsnius or anything clearly forbidden. It was kosher - like kosher narishkeit. Or kosher jelly worms.
A lot of people were just there to crack jokes (regardless of the seriousness & sincerity of the questioner), and part of the reason I felt uncomfortable was because some of these people seemed to lead mechubad lives: an intelligent older frum guy with a large family and married children, plus grandchildren - and he's just shmoozing and cracking jokes?
I get that people need a break from learning, but this was just weird.
It actually makes more sense when people behave rudely online or even speak lashon hara (although both are really bad and totally forbidden) because maybe they got offended by something they read or they feel the need to say something l'toelet haAm (though they're mistaken and should look up the relevant halachot).
But these were people who could & should know better and were doing it anyway.
It's hard to explain the dynamic...just a total waste of time, a moshav leitzim...by people who really could have known better. They weren't carried away by their emotions; they were carried away by their narishkeit. Or something.
Glatt Kosher Leitzanut
However, there is also kosher leitzanut.
You can make fun of spiritually damaging things that deserve to be mocked.
Judaism is all about embracing the paradoxes in life. It's about balance and figuring out what Hashem really wants (your closeness) and how to achieve that.
As described in a previous post, we live in an upside-down world in which bad things are now considered good.
His description of baseball, TV (this dvar Torah is from 1974), and magazines is highly entertaining.
Okay, I can't resist quoting what he says about magazines:
You have to watch out what kind of magazines come into your home.
It's definitely worth a good read.
It's pretty tough mussar for those of us entrenched in Western society since birth.
But it's delicious at the same time. Nice, juicy mussar!
As always, thank you tons to Toras Avigdor.
My Moroccan-born husband grew up in an immigrant neighborhood in Eretz Yisrael.
The neighborhood consisted of lots of Moroccans, plus a generous handful of Bucharians, and one Danish family who, for some reason, ended up there after making aliyah.
My husband attended the local mamlachti-dati (government religious) school along with the rest of the neighborhood. And he was one of the very good boys, in that he was shomer negiah and always wore his kippah & tzitzit, even when playing basketball, plus he always went happily to shul with his father for all the tefillot & voluntarily attended shiurim at night.
(There are more good things to say about my husband, but to head off any ayin hara, we'll stop here.)
Anyway, he'd gotten into Gemara in his teens. And though he always dreamed of joining the army, he decided to go to yeshivah instead. (For more on that story, please see God Helps: A True Story.)
I asked him how that was viewed in his neighborhood, seeing as everyone went to the army and while people had started off as religious, the secularization process went quickly and intensively.
"It was fine," said my husband. He explained that for all its social problems, it was still a traditional community. Therefore, even the more secular-seeming people still held Torah study in high esteem.
And even though the useless jobnik positions were less back then, people still didn't attack my husband about why their sons had to risk their lives while my husband sat in yeshivah.
They intuitively understood the value of Torah study.
The point here is that, yet again, your average Jew in Eretz Yisrael is not innately offended by yeshivah bochurim not "sharing the burden" of army service.
That unforgiving outrage & seething resentment comes from somewhere else.
Since Shevet Levi in Tanach, the Jewish people have always had Jews who sat and learned continuously.
Mishnah Avot states that the world - not just the Jewish world, but the entire world - stands on 3 things:
That's our base and for EVERYONE'S sake, it cannot be weakened.
(And if you examine these 3 pillars, you'll see they're all linked. In other words, you can't have one - or two - without the other.)
And many, if not most, Jews sense this.
So where is the venom coming from? Where is this seething rip-their-eyes-out resentment coming from?
It's being aggressively imposed upon the innocent Jewish people by media incitement and by those with political agendas.
Ani shalom v'ki adaber hema l'milchamah - I am peace; but when I speak, they are for war." (Tehillim 120:7)
Or, as Rashi interprets it:
"I am at peace with them, but when I speak peacefully with them, they come to wage war with me."
Rav Miller’s dvar Torah on Parshat Behar is a very pleasant whomp right between the eyes.
One of my favorite aspects of Rav Miller on the parsha is his description of the true-to-life experience of Jews millennia ago in the Tanach.
Using plain & simple language, he brings it all to life.
Yovel, Plus You as a Ger in This World
In the Pele Yoetz chapter entitled Ger, Rav Eliezer Papo also discusses ger/geirut according to this interpretation. With Rav Miller, you get a glimpse into what Duties of the Heart/Chovot Levavot says about this idea, plus a modern-day analogy to make things clearer, what a mezuzah should inspire within us, and then the following amazing yet true story of a connected Jew with his heart & mind in exactly the right place:
I once knew a Mr. Herman zichrono l’vracha from the Lower East Side.
Gadlus. And that was a so-called “regular” Jew no one has ever heard of!
Everyone can be great. It’s not at all a matter of renown or charisma.
Just quietly live for the Next World.
No one will write a book or even newspaper obituary about you (may you live in good health until 120), but you’ll be written in Hashem’s Book, and that’s all anyone really needs.
This section also helps you figure out how much you should invest in your material world here on Earth.
It goes according to individuals and their different situations, so Rav Miller doesn’t offer hard ‘n’ fast rules, but pages 7-11 can help you figure out how to clarify things for yourself.
God's Truth is Even Better than Science Fiction
(This is not depressing, like how it is in sci-fi novels, but actually very comforting and inspiring.)
The Pre-Mashiach Jewish Reality: Stuck between a Rock & Hard Place
Do you ever find yourself irked by the following, as described by Rav Miller?:
"… a Jew is always hounded in this world; the Jew walks on the street in Europe and the goyim cast slurs on him; they tell him, 'Get out of our country you dirty Jew. Go to Israel!' And if he does, so the Arabs tell him to get out, the U.N. tells him to get out."
Jew-haters are simply impossible to please! (So why bother trying? Hint, hint…)
One Torah, One People
Despite differences in custom, dress, culture, time, and language, real talmidei chachim keep coming up with the same themes and lessons from Torah.
Because all the real talmidei chachamim glean from the same sources and come to the same conclusions.
It ends on the heart-warming note of what you should remember about Olam Hazeh / This World whenever you look at a mezuzah:
Note: After the dedications at the end of this dvar Torah booklet, there is a brand-new section for children: Toras Avigdor Junior, a 2-page large-print supplement accompanied by a pleasant drawing of Rav Miller with a child in the woods. After that, there is a Q&A regarding how to break the habit of losing one’s temper.
So even if you’re in Eretz Yisrael and already past this parsha, it’s very worth reading Rav Miller’s dvar Torah on it for the wealth of soul-nourishing Torah hashkafah it contains:
Rav Avigdor Miller on Parshat Behar: We Live in You
I'm a middle-aged housewife and mother in Eretz Yisrael who likes to read and write a lot.
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