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 In Memory of Mr.

Max Glass ‫לע”נ שמואל מרדכי בן שלמה זאב יוסף‬

In Memory of Mr. Jack Gindi ‫לע”נ יעקב אליהו בן אליהו הכהן‬

Likutei Ohr
Editor-in-Cheif: Elon Swartz ’13 Executive Editor Asher Naghi ’14 Senior Editor: Micah Hyman ’14 Layout Editor: Yair Fax ’14 Marketing: Jordan Lustman ’15 Managing Editor: Ariel Amsellem ’15 Distributers: Mitchell Silberberg ’14 Avi Rosenberg ’14 Staff Advisor: Rabbi Arye Sufrin

Parshat Lech Lecha

A publication of YULA Boys High School

‫ליקוטי אור‬
Rabbi Yitzchak Etshalom

B’rit Milah: Commitment to the Destiny of Am Yisrael

Candle Lighting Times Candles:

5:48 pm
Shabbat Ends:

6:43 pm Teffilah Gems
by Yonah Hiller ’14

B’rit Milah and Korban Pesach: There are only two Mitzvot 'Aseh whose non-fulfillment results in a formal punishment: B'rit Milah, and partaking in the Pessach offering (Bamidbar 9:13). In both cases, the punishment is "Karet.” When two Mitzvot command their own category, sui generis, two questions are raised: 1) What makes them unique, and 2) What features do they have in common? By investigating the special nature of 'Am Yisra'el, we can, hopefully, discover the nature of these two "exceptional" Mitzvot. The Price of Membership: Membership in any group provides companionship and a sense of shared purpose. In return, the members occasionally must sacrifice their individual desires and needs. There is invariably an equation between the extent to which one negates one's self towards the group, and the extent to which one shares with that group. In order to claim membership in 'Am Yisra'el, it is not sufficient to be an ethically aware and theologically oriented individual. To be a Jew means joining the Jewish Nation; this means sharing the goals, dreams, joys and sorrows of an age-old and forever-young people. It means a shared history and a common destiny. Note Rambam's formulation regarding someone who is not involved in communal concerns: "Someone who separates himself from the community (even though he does not transgress any violations), who isolates himself from the congregation of Yisra'el, not fulfilling Mitzvot among them, not involving himself in their troubles and not fasting during their fast days; rather, he goes his merry way like one of the nonJews, as if he were not one of them - has no portion in the World to Come" (MT T'shuvah 3:1 1) All of our fixed bakashot indicate a communal request: "Grant us knowledge, redeem us, heal us..." Until we are all healed, no one of us is truly healed; a member of our groups suffers and we suffer along with him. One who refuses to participate in the rituals that define one as a member of the group, is surely "cut off" from the group. This is the inevitable result of his actions: non-participation in the most fundamental group rite is active denial of membership. Belonging to the Nation: There are two elements that are central to membership in Am Yisrael: a common history and a common destiny. Membership in the nation demands both our bonds are rooted in a sense of common past; whereas our national venture, our joint project and mission, is sourced in a vision of a common future. We propose that each of these unique Mitzvot 'Aseh, B'rit Milah and Korban Pessach, represents each one of these perspectives of membership. That the Korban Pessach is symbolic of a common history is self-evident. That the covenant of circumcision symbolizes common destiny, however, needs some explanation. The Midrash relates a conversation that took place between R. Akiva and a Roman governor, Tyrannus Rufus. Tyrannus Rufus asked R. Akiva whose deeds were greater, Man's or God's. R. Akiva answered that Man's were greater. Tyrannus Rufus further asked R. Akiva why Jews circumcise their males. R. Akiva explained, "I knew that you would ask that, and that is why I first answered that Man's deeds are greater than God's." R. Akiva then produced wheat stalks and cakes and demonstrated: "These are God's (stalks) and these are Man's (cakes) - aren't these cakes finer than the stalks?" Tyrannus Rufus then asked: "If God desires circumcision, why isn't the child born circumcised?" R. Akiva responded, "And why does the umbilicus come out with the child if his mother has to cut it? As for what you asked, the child isn’t born circumcised because God gave Yisrael the Mitzvot for the sole purpose of their participation.” (Midrash Tanhuma, Tazria). Although R. Akiva and Tyrannus Rufus were arguing about circumcision (a sore point from the perspective of the Greco-Roman culture of the gymnasium), their dispute cut much deeper. The underlying challenge to the reigning culture implicit in the Mitzvah of B'rit Milah is a statement about the role of Man and the relationship between Man and God. The Hellenistic perspective understands Man as a creature of God (or, in their parlance "the gods"). However, the creation, as such, is Divine and not subject to Man's interference; it is not Man's role to tamper with Creation or to try to better it. This was the weltanschauung supporting the pedestal of athletic competition and physical beauty. As one writer put it: The Greeks found holiness in beauty (whereas the Jews found beauty in holiness!). R. Akiva represents the Jewish perspective: Man is not just another creature. Man is made in the image of the Creator, and is, therefore, a creator himself. The Mitzvot were given so that 'Am Yisra'el would realize the Torah's goal for all of Mankind: To be partners with God in the ongoing process of Creation. "Any judge who executes a perfectly true judgment is considered as if he were made a partner with God in the act of Creation.” (BT Shabbat 10a). Proper judgment is a continuation of the proper balance achieved in Creation; the judge is carrying on the Divine mandate of Creation. When Mankind mangled the order of Creation, that order itself was reversed, allowing the Supernal Waters and the Nether Waters to comingle, producing a Flood. The most integral and constant expression of that destiny - of our mission to improve on "Ma'aseh B'resheet" and to continue to bring order into the chaotic world around us - is circumcision. It is as if we are introducing the child to his life goal by way of example: "Your job is to create! Be not satisfied with Creation as you find it! Imitate God, for it is in His image that you were made. Create, build and achieve mastery over the world. And, by the way, you'd best start with achieving mastery over yourself." This is the destiny of 'Am Yisra'el. Active participants in ongoing creation, we do not rest from our socio-religious goal: repairing the broken world. Befriending the heart with no companion, mending the torn fences of Creation; this is our mandate. The covenant obligates us to work with our Partner; the circumcision symbolizes the nature of that work. Anyone who refuses to participate in the rituals that define one as a member of the group is surely "cut off" from the group. This is the effect of his actions: non-participation in the most fundamental group rite is active denial of membership. "Karet" is not an arbitrarily designed punishment; it is the inescapable result of one's rejection of full membership in 'Am Yisra'el.


We recite Kiddush every Shabbos to sanctify the day, to recognize and remember its’ holiness. Saying Kiddush helps us set the proper tone for Shabbos; it assists us in recognizing how holy and special the day truly is. Similarly, before davening, it is essential for us to “prepare” in order to set the right mood, the proper mind-set before approaching Hakdadosh Baruch Hu. In order to help us accomplish this task, Chazal set up parts of davening specifically for the purpose of preparation, such as pezukei vezimera. Nevertheless, it is still our own personal obligation to go beyond what Chazal set up for us in the siddur itself, and mentally prepare ourselves for davening as well. There is a Mishnah in Berachos that describes how the chasidim harishonim used to prepare for an hour before and after each tefillah. Evidently, we are not expected to do the same; nonetheless, it is vital to recognize the importance of personal and mental preparation. Even if it merely takes us a couple of minutes, preparation will surely help us form a deeper connection with Hashem.

A Project of Pride

Chaim Yosef Noorani ’15
Hashem speaks to Avraham and tells him to leave his land, his birthplace, and his father’s house, directing him to Israel. As a reward for observing this commandment, Avraham is promised: “A great nation.” Further, the passuk explains that “Hashem will bless Avraham, make his name great, and that Avraham and his descendants shall be a blessing.” (Gen. 12:2). Let us discuss the first blessing, which says that Avraham will propagate a great nation. A quick survey of the Jewish people will confirm that this Bracha has not taken place. The explanation of what occurred is quite profound. If you add up all the Jews that have ever existed throughout the generations, you can easily see that they out-number all the other nations that came before them and were defeated. The cumulative Jewish population is, quite frankly, staggering. As the years pass, we will continue to grow while other nations cease from existence around us. This fulfills the first blessing. The next blessing guaranteed that the name of Avraham and the name of the B’nei Yisroel would be great. As with the first Bracha, we can see the second’s fulfillment by observing the world around us. Today, as in the past, Jews have affected countries in disproportionate ways. For a nation of a few million, we have risen to great positions and have the largest number of Nobel Prizes per capita of any nation. Now we can appreciate the second Bracha; wherever we go our name has been great. The final promise that Hashem made to Avraham was that B’nei Yisroel would be “a blessing”. In spite of the negativity with which the world regards Israel and despite Israel’s constant battle with its enemies for survival, Israel has contributed to the progress of the modern world. In light of these three Brachot, we must rethink our Jewish pride, our identities. We are all Jews no matter what happens and we should therefore support one another as brothers and sisters. As it says, “Kol Yisrael Aravim Ze’ La’zeh.”

Halachic Illuminations
After Shemini Atzeret, we began to insert the words “Mashiv Ha’Ruach Oo’Morid Ha’Geshem” into our Shemonah Esreis. As with last week’s illuminating comments on Yaaleh Vyavo, this article aims to provide a brief overview of the relevant Halachot. If you forget to add in “Mashiv” and you finish Shemonah Esrei, you must repeat the entire silent prayer. If, however, you have the Minhag to say “Morid Ha’Tal” during the summer months, missing Mashiv does not require you to repeat the Amidah. Additionally, if you remember Mashiv before saying the Bracha of “Ha’kel Ha’Kadosh,” you may return to the beginning of the Bracha, “Atah Gibor.” A more complex issue arises if you are uncertain as to whether or not you said Mashiv. If this slip of the mind occurs within 30 days of Shemini Atzeret, it is assumed that you forgot to add it, and you must go back and repeat it. However, if the doubt occurs after the 30 days, it is assumed that you added Mashiv, and you do not have to repeat anything. Another controversy surrounding Mashiv is whether or not you say “Ha’Gashem” or “Ha’Geshem.” Rabbi Moshe Feinstein says that you say “Ha’Gashem” because it is like the end of a Pasuk, and a Sof Pasuk makes the Nikuda Segol sound like a Kamataz. Rabbi Shlomo Auerbach, however, suggests that you say “Ha’Geshem,” because Mashiv is not a Sof Pasuk, but rather flows right into “Michalkel Chaim.” In other words, he holds that “Who makes the wind blow and the rain descend” flows right into, “Who sustains the living with Kindness, resurrects the dead.” The reason that Rabbi Auerbach holds this way is because the action of rain nourishing seeds is almost like resurrection of the dead; when nourished, the plant grows from nothing to gorgeous vegetation. The rain is thus a great Bracha, and, as we see in Bereshit, plants don’t thrive until man prays for rain to descend! Compiled By Your Senior Editor Micah Hyman

The Right Friends

Sammy Schultz ’14

The first Pasuk in this week’s Parsha, ‫ ,לך לך‬states, “And Hashem said to Avraham, ‘Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and from your father's house, to the land that I will show you.’” It is well known that the Torah does not waste words, so why does the Pasuk redundantly say that Avraham must leave his land, his birthplace, and his father’s house? The Bartenuera provides multiple reasons. Firstly, the Pasuk’s wordiness comes to teach us about the difficulty of Avraham’s test. And so, Hashem wanted to break the news to Avraham in a pleasant manner so that Avraham would have an easier time abiding by the commandment. More importantly, this Pasuk teaches us a very important lesson. The Bartenuera explains that the Pasuk uses odd diction to teach us that one’s birthplace has an impact on one’s character. But despite his family’s wickedness, Avraham made certain that he remained unaffected. And so, Hashem tells Avraham that he has to leave his land, his birthplace, and his father’s house to make sure that he stays on the correct path! We must all take this lesson to heart, as we encounter numerous daily challenges that can have a negative impact on us. For if Hashem was worried that Avraham, a man righteous beyond our comprehension, might have been affected negatively by the behavior of others, all the more should we be worried about negative influences. Therefore, it is very important for us to surround ourselves with righteous people so we can learn from them. In such a mutually beneficial relationship, we can, in our own minor ways, make an impact on the world.

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