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Rosh Chodesh Shevat 5773/January 13, 2013
Beit Midrash Zichron Dov
Toronto TorahToronto TorahToronto Torah
Parshat Vaera
Vol.4 Num. 17
that it was already well known from the Torah that we are obligated to die ratherthan perform certain sins, including idolworship. Therefore, it is not clear whatChananiah, Mishael and Azariahlearned from the frogs! Tosafot answers that the statue beforewhich Chananiah, Mishael and Azariahwere commanded to bow was not anidol, but a regular statue of the king. Therefore, it was not "classic" idolatry,such that one would be obligated tosurrender his life rather than bowbefore it. However, according to Tosafot,what did Chananiah, Mishael andAzariah learn from the frogs? How willwe explain the words of Todos?We can try to answer this questionthrough the words of the Rambam(Mishneh Torah, Hilchot YesodeiHaTorah 5:4): "If anyone for whom it issaid, 'Transgress and do not sacrifice your life,' sacrifices his life and does nottransgress, he is held accountable forhis life. If anyone about whom it is said,'Sacrifice your life and do nottransgress,' sacrifices his life and doesnot transgress, he sanctifies [G-d's]Name. If he does so in the presence of ten Jews, he sanctifies [G-d's] name inpublic, like Daniel, Chananiah, Mishael,Azariah, and Rabbi Akiva and hiscolleagues." The Rambam seems to giveus three categories: One who is notallowed to sacrifice his life; One who isallowed to do so; One who is in front of ten Jews. It is clear that Chananiah,Mishael and Azariah are counted in thethird group. The Rambam sheds more light on thissubject in his Book of Mitzvot (Mitzvah9): "[This is] similar to the actions of Chananiah, Mishael and Azariah in thedays of the wicked Nevuchadnezzar,who forced people to bow down to astatue, and everyone
including Jews
bowed down. Nobody there sanctifiedG-d's Name, and this was a tremendousshame for the Jewish people. Everyonedid not fulfill this mitzvah, there wasnobody to fulfill it; everyone was afraid." There are times when it is not obligatory to sanctify the name of G-d, but whenno one does so then that, itself, is adisgrace for G-d's Name. Chananiah,Mishael and Azariah understood thateven though it is not obligatory,everyone was watching; all of the Jewswere looking on to see what they woulddo. That is when these men learned fromthe frogs. Within this understanding of the midrash, they understood that whenit came to the frogs, each frog said,"Why should I be the one going in to theoven?!" However, certain frogsunderstood that if they wouldn't do it,no one would sanctify the name of G-d.It was up to them.From Chananiah, Mishael and Azariahwe can learn that each and every one of us has the obligation to sanctify G-d'sname, but from them we can also learnabout the ability to draw lessons fromanyone, even from frogs.
Learning from the Frogs
Hillel Horovitz
To sponsor an issue of Toronto Torah, please call 647-234-7299 or email info@torontotorah.com
Within the book of Daniel we learnabout Chananiah, Mishael andAzariah, who threw themselves into afiery furnace. This happened afterNevuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, toldthem to bow down to a statue he hadmade. The Talmud (Pesachim 53b) brings thewords of Todos: "What did Chananiah,Mishael and Azariah see, that causedthem to deliver themselves to the fiery furnace for the sanctification of the[Divine] Name? They deduced logically for themselves: Regarding frogs, whichare not commanded concerning thesanctification of the [Divine] Name, itis written, 'And they shall ascend andenter your house . . . and into theovens, and into your kneadingtroughs.' (Shemot 7:28) When are thekneading troughs to be found near theoven? When the oven is hot [and yetthe frogs go]. We, who are commandedconcerning the sanctification of theName, how much the more so?!" If frogs were willing to jump into a hotoven to sanctify the name of G-d, it isclear, that we, human beings, shoulddo so as well.Rashi explains that what Chananiah,Mishael and Azariah learned from thefrogs is that one should die in order tosanctify the name of G-d. Tosafotstrongly disagrees with Rashi, saying
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occurs against his will. Additionally, onemust work to eliminate any hatred that ispresent. The Meiri (Yoma 75a) expanded the scopeof this biblical verse. As he explained it,the Torah is obligating us to benefitothers even when we dislike them, andnot to permit our emotions to occlude ourmoral vision.
 The Torah's instruction, “You shall
not hate your brother in your heart
(Vayikra 19:17),” is the foundation of 
a broad mitzvah prohibiting hatred. This is one of a class of mitzvot whichrelate to the emotions and the inner
workings of one’s mind; the class
includes the prohibition against
coveting others’ property, as well as
the mitzvah of loving Hashem. Aswith the other prohibitions in thisclass, the Sefer haChinuch explainsthat one is in violation for trying todevelop hatred, but not for that which
613 Mitzvot: #238
Rabbi Mordechai TorczynerHitoriri: Jewish Spirituality
Reach for the Moon
Adam Frieberg
 The scientific process behind nursingan infant is complex, but it seems to begenerally accepted that the food awoman eats directly affects the quality of her milk. For that reason, many women avoid certain foods whilenursing, as they deduce which foodsupset their infants.Our rabbis understood this concept aswell, and addressed it directly whendiscussing the laws related to using wetnurses. The laws of kashrut state thatshould a mother need to find a wetnurse, she may technically find any woman, even one who worships idols.However, Rabbi Moshe Isserles wrotethat one should avoid having their childnurse from an idolater; while their milkis technically kosher, it will clog theinfants spiritual pathways. (Yoreh Deah81:7) The Vilna Gaon, quoting theRashba, comments that the source forthis praiseworthy practice is a midrashon Parshat Shemot. While the Torah
states concisely that Pharaoh’sdaughter happily accepted Miriam’s
offer to find a Jewish wet nurse, amidrash explains that this only happened after baby Moshe refused tonurse from any Egyptian woman. Out of desperation to calm the screaming
baby, Pharaoh’s daughter agreed to
have a Jewish woman nurse him. Themidrash explains that despite beingonly a few months old, Moshe refusedto nurse from an idolater, as it would beinappropriate for the same mouthwhich would eventually speak face toface with G-d to nurse from an idolater.If Moshe is the source for thepraiseworthy practice of avoidingnursing from an idolater, asks RabbiYaakov Kamenetsky, why should all Jews need to avoid this practice? Are allof our children going to speak face toface with G-d? His answer should causeus to reflect. Rabbi Kamenetsky succinctly explains that when
contemplating our children’s education
- and, for that matter, our own - wemust be wary of imposing falselimitations. There is no reason to sellourselves short, and settle for less thanthe standards of Moshe. Let us reach
for the moon; even if we miss, we’ll land
among the stars.
Looking at a Nation
Rabbi Baruch Weintraub
 The beginning of our parshahstimulated our sages to draw a very interesting comparison between Mosheand the patriarchs. As Rashi (6:3)explained it, G-d blamed Moshe here fornot living up to the standards of ourforefathers. When G-d promised thefathers that they would inherit the land,they neither questioned nor doubtedthe promise. Moshe Rabbeinu, on theother hand, asked at the end of lastweek's parshah, "Why have You harmedthese people, why have You sentme?" (Shemot 5:22) This raises a question, though. In a wellknown midrash (Nedarim 32a),Shemuel argues that the reason for theenslavement in Egypt was Avraham'squestion, "How will I know that I willinherit it?" (Bereishit 15:8) If so, thewhole exile in Egypt is a consequence of Avraham's making a comment whichwas very similar to the one made by Moshe here. Why, then, does G-dcriticize Moshe?As a matter of fact, when looking closely at the verse cited by Shemuel, we seean even more acute question. Just twoverses earlier the Torah tells us thatAvraham had faith in Hashem, and thatthis was accounted for him asrighteousness. Can it be that in soshort a time, right after the Torah itself attested to his level of faith, Avrahamwould show the slightest doubt in G-d'spromise?What, then, was the difference betweenAvraham and Moshe, and what didHashem want Moshe to learn fromAvraham's ways?It seems that the focal point is thechange from Individual to Nation, achange achieved by the slavery in Egypt- the "iron crucible" (Devarim 4:20). Thedifference between these twoexistences is in the range of one'sperspective. The Individual is boundedby his own limits
in time, signaled by his death, in space, signaled by hisphysical presence, and primarily inunderstanding, signaled by his limitedcapacity to experience and analyze.From that perspective, Avraham'squestion was right and justified
howcould he, as a bounded individual,inherit the land? And so Avraham'squestion was acceptable. The answerthat Avraham received, with itsprediction of the Egypt experience, wasa promise that they would become anation.However, when dealing with a processthat involves a Nation, as Moshe was,we must adapt our time frames. Aswas predicted regarding the Emoritenation in Bereishit 15:16, historicalprocesses can take generations toripen. This answer, already realized inthe time of Moshe, should have beenenough to prevent Moshe from beingimpatient with the redemption of theHebrew people from Egypt. Avrahamunderstood that a nation is different innature from the individual
anunderstanding that Moshe lacked rightnow. This moved G-d to declare, "Woefor Avraham, who is with us nolonger!" This understanding, that nationalprocess are different in duration,volume and magnitude than individualones is critical, as Rashi teaches us, inorder to remain in good faith with theG-d of history. May this be accountedfor us as righteousness.
Shabbat is 1 Shevat 
On the first day of Shevat 5642(January 21, 1882), a group of Jews
gathered and formed the “BILU”
group, in Kharkov, Ukraine. BILU is
an acronym for “Beit Yaakov L'chuV’neilcha,” “House of Yaakov, let usgo!” (Yeshayahu 2:5) [Notably, they 
omitted the final clause of the verse,
“B’or Hashem,” “in the light of G
 This chapter of Yeshayahu talksabout the end of days, when the Temple will be rebuilt, and all of thenations will come to Israel andfollow in the way of G-d.Inspired by recent pogroms, thisgroup called for an economic andspiritual renewal of the Jewishpeople in Israel, and for the returnof the Hebrew language. The BILU
manifesto, in part, calls for: “A
home in our country. It was given tous by the mercy of G-d; it is ours asregistered in the archives of 
 Influenced by Karl Marx, the groupsought to establish farmingcooperatives in what is now Israel.In July 1882, fourteen membersmoved to Israel, and found life to bevery difficult. They were given a
farm in Rishon L’Tzion, but they 
failed to grow produce, and soBaron Rothschild provided fundingto start a winery. In 1884, othermembers of the group moved toIsrael and established thecommunity of Gedera. They toostruggled, despite assistance fromBaron Rothschild. Many of thesepioneers eventually moved back toEurope and Russia, although somestayed in Israel.Although the BILU movement failedto spark large-scale interest in re-establishing Israel as the homelandof the Jewish people, their ideaswere implemented a few decadeslater by the kibbutz movement. TheBILU settlers are now regarded asan important part of the First Aliyah(1882-1903).
Rabbi Dr. Yissachar Dov (Bernard)Illowy (1814-1871) was one of the firstOrthodox rabbis to arrive in America,serving as a leader in New York City,Syracuse, Philadelphia, Baltimore, St.Louis, New Orleans and Cincinnati. Adescendant of a respected rabbinicalfamily, Rabbi Illowy learned inPressburg, Hungary under the ChatamSofer, from whom he received rabbinicalordination. Rabbi Illowy was alsoaccomplished in the world of academia,earning a doctorate in Hebrew from theUniversity of Budapest, and afterwardslearning under the guidance of RabbiShemuel Dovid Luzzato in Padua, Italy.Securing a position in the Europeanrabbinate was difficult, as Rabbi Illowy was suspected by the authorities of sympathizing with revolutionariesagainst the ruling Habsburg monarchy.He migrated to America, where religiousobservance was sorely lacking at thetime. An eloquent speaker, Rabbi Illowy did much to spread Orthodox valuesand practices in the communities thathe served, although his efforts wereoften met with insurmountablechallenges. Some of his writings,originally appearing in periodicals andother works, were collected by his sonHenry in the work Milchamot Elokim(see accompanying translation). Inaddition to the halachic discussionscontained therein, the book serves as afascinating window into American Jewish life in the 1800's.
[The following letter was written to RabbiNatan Adler of London and Rabbi ShimshonRaphael Hirsch of Germany:]Due to my many sins, I have been expelledfrom the inheritance of my fathers to animpure land, a land that devours itsinhabitants, where its men are as if dead, forthey are all blind, for their eyes have beencovered over from seeing the light of understanding and knowledge... And they areall wise and understanding in their own eyes,even though they don't know the Torah...And it is strongly presumed that "thestrength of leniency is greater"; he whopermits requires no proof and is believed asone-hundred witnesses, whereas against hewho forbids, there are always found plenty who challenge, and it is upon him to bringproof.It has been almost eight months since I wascalled here to the city of New Orleans, theholy congregation "Shaarei Chesed", to sithere on the seat of instruction and to teachthe sons of Jacob what G-d asks of them. The G-d of my fathers has been with me,making me successful. My seeds have beenblessed, yielding fruit, holy fruit; my wordshave been accepted and practiced, for aftermy first speech, more than forty of the biggermerchants closed the doors of their shops onthe Shabbat day. They no longer violate thelaw, doing work on the holy day, and morethan ten families that had been eating non-kosher food have made their homes kosher tothe point that any Jew who anxiously observes the word of G-d could eat withthem.It was on the third day since my arrival that Iwas invited to eat bread with one of my supporters. Upon entering the yard of hishouse, I saw ducks that were different intheir form, appearance and bodily composition from all those that we eat; they are called Muscovy ducks. I had never seenthis type in any of the other lands that I hadresided. I asked the man what he does withthese ducks, and he responded that they were for eating. I asked him further whopermitted him to eat these, and he answeredthat he had never asked [for permission to doso]; he merely saw others eating them, theshochet would [ritually] slaughter them, andthe chazzan of one of the city's othercongregations ate them
certainly they werepermitted to eat.
This Week inIsraeli History
Shevat 1 1882BILU
Yair Manas
Torah in Translation
The Law of the Land
Rabbi Yissachar Dov Illowy
Milchamot Elokim 2:4
Translated by R’ Ezra Goldschmiedt
After I researched and asked others whatthey relied on in eating them, and they were unable to answer anything otherthan that one saw his friend do so, andthat this was how the leniency spread, Iimmediately commanded the shochet of my congregation that he no longerslaughter this type from that day onward... And I said to them that the[kosher] signs on their own are of nosignificance to permit any type of speciesthat is not known to us, and for which ithas not been traditionally transmitted tous from earlier generations that they arekosher... This "tradition" of theirs is notenough to enable me to permit. First, forthere was never in any of these [other]congregations [that would eat Muscovy duck] a rabbi ordained from an expertbeit din, or even a student who couldrule [on such matters]. Further, it hasbeen over thirty years in which it hasbeen impossible to find properly slaughtered meat in the Jewish marketsof these congregations...
Biography: Rabbi Yissachar Dov Illowy
R’ Ezra Goldschmiedt
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