Beit Midrash Zichron Dov
Parshat Vayechi 16 Tevet 5773/December 30, 2012
Sponsored by Dan and Karen Valter for the yahrtzeit of Dan's father, Yitzchak ben Shalom Valter ל"ז
Vol.4 Num. 15
We want Mashiach whenever
On his deathbed, the patriarch - son and grandson of men who knew the Almighty intimately, of women whose insight mirrored the Divine plan pledged to entrust to his children the secrets of the universe. With little strength or time remaining, Yaakov summoned his children and intoned, "Gather, and I will tell you what will befall you in the end of days." Then, abruptly, the ancient sage altered his focus, speaking more neutrally, "Gather, listen, sons of Yaakov." (Bereishit 49:1 -2) He continued to convey blessings, but spoke no more of the end of days. Commentators offer a range of approaches to explain why Yaakov changed his plans, but perhaps we might offer our own answer by first asking a fundamental question: Why did Yaakov wish to inform his children of the "end of days", at all? What benefit would there be in telling them of the end of a story not to play out for thousands of years? Indeed, informing them could even be hazardous; might they, or their descendants, abandon the book, knowing that they would never live the last page? Don Isaac Abarbanel suggested that the eternal question of "When will he come?" is rooted in our desire to escape our current suffering. In his Maayanei haYeshuah (1:2), Abarbanel catalogued the history of the Jewish longing to know when the end will come, noting that such figures as King David (Tehillim 74:10), Yeshayah (Yeshayah 6:11), Chavakuk (Chavakuk 1:2), Zecharyah (Zecharyah 1:12) and Daniel sought to know the date of Mashiach's arrival. He then wrote, "How could they fail to seek the Divine message, the time when He will come and be seen, in order to find tranquility for their spirits, to rest from their struggle, to flee from their trouble?" However, this does not explain how the sons of Yaakov, who knew no suffering in Egypt, would benefit from knowing the circumstances of Mashiach's arrival. We might answer our question with a closer look at the Jewish view of history. In his work Zakhor, Professor Yosef Haim Yerushalmi noted that the modern study of history clashes with the traditional Jewish approach to studying history. As he put it, "To the degree that this historiography is indeed "modern" and demands to be taken seriously, it must at least functionally repudiate premises that were basic to all Jewish conceptions of history in the past. In effect, it must stand in sharp opposition to its own subject matter, not on this or that detail, but concerning the vital core: the belief that divine providence is not only an ultimate but an active causal factor in Jewish history, and the related belief in the uniqueness of Jewish history itself." In other words, the modern study of history contends that all events in history occur without an underlying plan or purpose. Traditional Judaism, on the other hand, insists that history is a story written by a Hand,
Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner
progressing according to a specific plan, and with a particular end in mind. Perhaps this was the understanding of human events that Yaakov intended to convey to his children, as he passed to them the mantle of leadership. The point was not to have them mark down on some millennia-long calendar that Mashiach would come in Tevet 5773. Perhaps the point was for them to understand, as leaders of the Jewish nation, that there is an "end of days" at all, that the events of their lives are invested with purpose. [Indeed, Yosef tried to tell them this himself, insisting that his sale had been according to a plan. Of course, even Yosef ("G-d sent me here to provide food") didn't realize the scope of that plan ("your children will be slaves in a land not their own").] Nonetheless, G-d determined that Yaakov would not share this vision with his children, and perhaps this decision was motivated by their own welfare. People who are told that their lives and actions have automatic and inherent historical meaning, irrespective of their personal decisions, might abandon themselves to the determinism of Fate. If Mashiach is going to come in Tevet 5773, and my actions in 2255 will automatically play some butterfly's wing of a role in bringing about that ultimate hurricane regardless of my free will, then why should I value my own decisions and choices? Whatever will be, will be! Knowing how the story plays out could yield generations of Jews who would view themselves not as actors, but as acted upon; not as eventual redeemers, but as eventually redeemed. And so Yaakov's mouth is closed, and so King David, Yeshayah, Chavakuk, Zecharyah and Daniel were turned back, as was Don Isaac Abarbanel. The information is there. The date is known. For us, though, it would be better that we not read the last page of the book; rather, it would be better that we write it. email@example.com We are grateful to Continental Press 905-660-0311
THE CHALLENGE OF CONTINUITY
YOM IYUN FOR WOMEN
10 AM to 12:45 PM, SUN. JANUARY 13th
Shiur / Israeli Film (English subtitles) / Workshop AT BAYT (613 Clark Ave W, Thornhill) FREE ADMISSION / REFRESHMENTS Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Are we allowed to go to a doctor?
While many of us enjoy vacation this week, many doctors are working, covering shifts for their colleagues. Being a doctor, or participating in the healing of anyone, is a great act, fulfilling the verse, “he shall provide for a complete cure” (Shemot 21:19), among other mitzvot. With that in mind, the following passage of gemara (Pesachim 56a) should be quite surprising. The Talmud quotes an early source that praises King Chizkiyah for doing three things, and admonishes him for doing three other things. One of the things he is praised for doing is hiding away a "sefer refuot", seemingly a book of medicinal remedies. Rashi’s explanation of this passage is extremely foreign for the modern mind: Rashi writes that the book's secrets were used to quickly heal everyone in need, and it was so effective that sickness no longer humbled people. Rashi’s interpretation advocates for greater trust in G-d. One who is sick must pray for healing; the ability to be perfectly healed by medicine was so dangerous for society, that King Chizkiyahu, with the support of the Sages, effectively reintroduced sickness and disease into the world in order to increase trust in G-d. To the Rambam, such an approach is simply untenable. In his Commentary to the Mishnah (Pesachim 4:10), Rambam explains that the reason King Chizkiyahu eliminated the book was because it contained medical practices based on idol worship. While the book was originally intended solely for academic use, people started to practice what they read, which was forbidden, and therefore the decision was made to remove the book. While the Rambam
Hitoriri: Jewish Spirituality
doesn’t make it clear if these forbidden practices worked, he does say that had they been permissible, removing them would have been incredibly ridiculous. Rambam stresses the importance of countering Rashi’s position, saying that the interpretation that King Chizkiyah buried a book which could heal all, simply because it decreased faith in G-d, is absurd. He proves his point by drawing an analogy between healing and eating: Would anyone suggest that a hungry person eating a piece of bread demonstrates a lack of faith? Our intuition tells us, as the Rambam understood, that we must accept the laws of nature, and a cursory glance through Jewish sources will support this position. Yet we also believe in Divine providence, as seen throughout Tanach and as emphasized by Rashi. These concepts do conflict; if we believe a certain event occurs because of Divine providence, then it cannot be attributed solely to the laws of nature, and vice versa. However, we must accept both philosophies in some measure. We should continue to rely on doctors should the need unfortunately present itself, but remembering the ultimate Healer, and His ultimate control of the situation, is prescribed by all. email@example.com
בפרשת ויחי קורא יעקב לבניו ומברך ומנחה אותם לפני מותו . רש " י מביא לנו את דברי המדרש לפיו יהודה נסוג לאחור לאחר ששמע את הדברים הקשים שאמר יעקב לראובן .ולשני אחיו האחרים של יהודה, שמעון ולוי יהודה כביכול לא רצה לגשת ליעקב ולשמוע את תוכחתו של יעקב . רש " י מבאר כי הוא פחד כי יעקב יוכיח אותו על מעשה תמר. ניתן גם לציין שייתכן כי פחד גם מתגובתו של יעקב למכירתו של יוסף, אולם הניח שיעקב לא יניח את כובד האשמה על אחד מבניו בלבד וכן יישתדל שלא לפתוח פצעים שעודם .מגלידים יעקב מרגיע את יהודה ואומר לו : " אתה יודוך אחיך", ומפרש הכלי יקר, שלפי שהודה , "בטעותו , ואמר במעשה תמר " צדקה ממני אל לא לדאוג מתוכחתו של יעקב. הכלי יקר ממשיך ומפרש כי משום כך , מידה כנגד מידה , יכירו אחיו בזכותו למלכות . יוצא מכאן שגדולתו של יהודה נובעת מיכולתו להכיר בבעייתיות של מעשיו, להודות בטעותו .ואף לפעול בהתאם ,כך נוכל גם לפרש את המשך ברכתו של יעקב באומרו : " מטרף בני עלית ". המילה טרף רומזת בצורה בולטת מאוד למילים אותם אומר יעקב לאחר שהוא מגלה על העלמותו של יוסף : " טרף טרף יוסף ". ניתן אם כן להסביר כי יעקב רומז ליהודה שגם מאותו "טרף" מאותו חטא של מכירת יוסף, הצליח יה וד ה לח זור בתש וב ה כאשר לק ח את האחריות על כתפיו והגן על בנימין. (הרשב"ם " מתנגד לפירוש זה ואומר כי המילה " בני מתייחסת ליהודה ולא ליוסף , אך לשיטתנו אין הדבר סותר שכן ניתן להסביר את הפסוק .)כ"מטרף"- יוסף, "בני עלית"- יהודה יוצא מכאן כי המסר המרכזי של יעקב ליהודה היא כי יכולתו לחזור ולתקן את מעשיו ולקחת את האחריות לפעלותיו היא היא זו שמאפשרת לו להוביל ולהנהיג את , העם. לא ייפלא אם כן שצאצאו של יהודה דוד, יהיה זה שהגמרא תגיד עליו שהוא תיקן "עולה של תשובה". דוד הוכיח לעולם שמנהיג או כל אדם יכולים לחזור בתשובה ולקחת .אחריות למעשיהם
613 Mitzvot: #236
Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner
Mitzvah 236 prohibits “travelling about as a peddler” and we are taught that this refers to talking about people to others. The truth or falsehood of the tale is irrelevant; telling a true story is also prohibited. The prohibition includes telling neutral and even positive information, if disclosure of that information might lead to harm or embarrassment for its subject. Rabbi Yosef Chagiz (17th century Morocco) noted that the prohibition against gossip includes eavesdropping in its purview; I am not allowed to spread a person's secrets to others, or even to myself. The prohibition also includes reading others' written mail, or electronic communication; Rabbeinu Gershom's classic edict against reading others' mail was meant to reinforce the biblical law which was already on the books.
,בני ישראל נקראים לעד בשמו של יהודה "יהודים". דבר זה בא ללמד אותנו על מרכיבים שונים באישיות של עמנו. הן יכולתנו להודות לד', והן יכולתנו להודות בטעויות ולתקן אותם. יהודה מלמד אותנו כי הנהגה פרושה תיקון תמידי של מעשינו ובחינה מדוקדקת של יכולתנו להשתפר ולהתקדם, כך נזכה לביאת זרעו של דוד firstname.lastname@example.org .הממשיך את דרכו של יהודה במהרה בימינו
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Biography: Rabbi Shlomo Ibn Aderet
This Week in Israeli History
Torah in Translation
The Meaning of “Berachah”
Rabbi Shlomo Ibn Aderet Responsa of Rashba 5:51
Translated by Yair Manas
Born in 1235 in Barcelona, Rabbi Shlomo ben Aderet was one of the primary students of both the Ramban (Rav Moshe ben Nachman, Nachmanides) and Rabbeinu Yonah. The Rabbi of the main shul in Barcelona, he was leader of Spanish Jewry for more than 50 years.
Tevet 21 1952 The Execution of Yosef Batzri
Rabbi Baruch Weintraub
Thursday is the 21st of Tevet Yosef Batzri, an Iraqi Jew, was born in 1923. A lawyer by profession, Batzri was an enthusiastic Zionist, active in the movements 'HaChalutz' (The Pioneer) and 'HaHaganah' (The Defense). He made aliyah in 1949, shortly after the state was established. He was recruited into the intelligence service, and soon he was sent back to Iraq. In 1951, there was a wave of terrorist attacks against Jewish and Western targets in Iraq. These attacks included an incident in which a hand grenade was thrown into a shul's yard, killing four people, including a twelve-year old boy. The yard had been used as a meeting point for Jews on their way to the airport, en route to Israel. The Iraqi government of the time declared that the Zionist activists themselves had coordinated the attacks. They reasoned that the terror attacks were aimed at creating feelings of insecurity among the Jews, encouraging them to make aliyah. (No explanation was given for the fact the Zionsts themselves were being attacked.) The Iraqi police began to arrest Zionist activists, and Batzri understood that he was in grave danger. He hid in his uncle's home, but on the fifth of June he was found and arrested by the Iraqi security forces. Batzri and two others – Shalom Tzalach and Yosef Beit Halachmi – were accused of executing the terrorist attacks. Batzri was also tried for spying. On the 21st of Tevet 5712 (19th January 1952), Yosef Batzri was executed by the Iraqis. For many Jews in Iraq, Batzri's execution, together with the execution of two other Iraqi Jews in the same year, was the final push to leave Iraq, a land that had been a thriving Jewish centre for thousands of years. email@example.com
The Rashba wrote prolifically; more than 3000 of his teshuvot are still extant. As the leader of the Jewish people, he To the wise, complete person: You asked, successfully defended the community in "What are blessings? The term 'berachah theological debates with Christians [blessing]' refers to increased good, but what (Shut HaRashba 4:187). can a servant add to his Master?" The turn of the Jewish millennium in In truth, the word "berachah" is an 5000 (1240) created much messianic expression of increase and multiplication, fervor in the Jewish community. R' like the expression, "springs [bereichot] of Shlomo ensured the unity of the Jewish water". There is a deep secret regarding c o m m un i t y b y c o m b at i n g fal s e berachot, and one to whom G-d has granted Messiahs, and most prominently in his knowledge of the secrets of the Torah will rejection of Nissim ben Avraham and understand it. Blessings, and the increase of Avraham Abulafiah when they appeared blessings, multiply in two ways, sometimes in the latter half of the 13th century from the recipient and sometimes from the (ibid 1:548). giver and conveyor of blessing. Though the Rashba vigorously defended This may be compared to a king who gives an the Rambam against his detractors, he showers of his good upon his servants. The disagreed with his philosophy and his blessing appears to his servants in their approach to Judaism. Similarly, the multiplication and increase, for they were Rashba, as part of the Beit Din in lacking and now they have been made full. Barcelona, forbade those under thirty However, for the king, it is well known that from learning secular philosophy and possesses as much as he has given and used sciences. to benefit others, and so the increase and multiplication is not seen in him. Still, if the Among the Rashba‟s works are his king were to constantly give, supplying large novellae on the Talmud, Torat HaBayit, gifts to his many forces without interruption, Avodat Hakodesh and Sha'ar HaMayim. it would truly appears that he is blessed [ie His most renowned students were the increased and multiplied], such that he never Raah (R' Aharon haLevi), the Ritva (R' stops providing for his forces, even for an Yom Tov al-Asvilli) and Rabbeinu Behaye. instant.. It’s not that the king is made greater by an external source, receiving blessing and abundance from someone greater than he is, who supplied him. Rather, everyone "blesses" the king, meaning that they give blessing and thanks that he is the master of these blessings, and his storehouses will never fail. When he adds more good, more people recognize and know him, for his blessing has neither limit nor end… This is the matter of blessings, that we give thanks before Him for the food that He provides, and for the good that He gives to us. We pray that He constantly give blessing, so that everyone will know that He is blessed. As we say: Blessed, and blessed in the mouths of every soul… Also, G-d wants his righteous ones to pray before Him, in order to increase His good for His creations, and in order that their sins not The Rashba passed away at the age of 75 in 1310. firstname.lastname@example.org
cause G-d to withhold His good from them. Thus the Sages taught (Berachot 7a), "G-d said to Yishmael: My son, bless Me. He answered, 'May it be your will that Your mercy should conquer Your anger, and Your mercy should overtake Your [other] attributes, and You should deal with Your children beyond the line of the law.'"
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Our Haftorah: Melachim I 2:1-12
Who is the prophet of our haftorah? The book of Melachim ("Kings") records the history of Jewish life in Israel from the end of King David's reign until the Babylonian destruction of the first Beit haMikdash. The Talmud (Bava Batra 15a) says that it was recorded by Yirmiyah, who lived through the last decades recorded in the book. In our editions of Tanach, Melachim is split into two parts; the first part begins with the end of King David's reign and continues until shortly after the death of King Achav of Yisrael, and the second part continues from there. What is the message of our haftorah? Our haftorah marks the death of King David, and the passing of the throne to his son Shlomo; this parallels the death of Yaakov and then Yosef, and the end of their era, in our parshah. King David presents two messages to his son: A warning that he must continue to follow the instructions of HaShem in order for his monarchy to endure (Melachim I 2:1-4) and a list of King David's foes and advice for how to deal with them. (2:5-10) King David's insistence that Shlomo follow the Torah is consistent with the messages that came with other pivotal changes of the guard in Tanach. Yehoshua was given the same message when he took up the mantle of Moshe in the first succession of Jewish leadership. (Yehoshua 1:5-9) Yeravam ben Nevat was passed the same instruction by Achiyah haShiloni when he splintered the Jewish people to form the northern kingdom of Yisrael. (Melachim I 11:38) Zecharyah gave a similar message to Yehoshua, the high priest of his day, at the beginning of the second Beit haMikdash. (Zecharyah 3:7) The second part of the message, with its list of figures who should not be permitted to die of old age, may seem odd as the closing words of King David's life. However, these instructions may be seen as more than a last set of tasks left to Shlomo. The fact that King David was not able to carry out these tasks in his own lifetime, and needed to leave them to his son, was due to a set of religious and practical considerations which restricted his freedom. Perhaps this was King David's parting message: I am leaving you a kingdom and a Torah, and with that comes the full force of the Divine Hand. However, even when you operate with Divine blessing, remember your limitations, debts and commitments, and never overstep your bounds. Where was King David buried? Melachim I 2:10 records King David's burial in "Ir David", the City of David. Where is this?
Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner
There is a great deal of disagreement regarding the correct site, due to archaeological finds as well as the evidence found in Tanach. A set of burial caves excavated north of the Old City in 1863 has been identified as the "tombs of the House of David". A tenacre area in the southeastern portion of the Old City is known as the City of David. There is no definitive answer. For more on this question, see:
Doron Bar, “Kever David b’Har Tzion B’Shnotehah Harishonot shel Hamedinah,” Al Atar 11 (5763): 85-95 Yoel Elitzur, “Achen! Kivrei Beit David,” Al Atar 11 (5763): 15-27 Gabriel Barkay, “L’ba’ayat Makom Kivrehem shel Malchei Beit David Ha’achronim,” Bein Chermon L’Sinai: Yad l’Amnon (1977): 75-92
Bargil Pixner, Biblical Archaeological Review (May/June 1990) Hershel Shanks, “The Tombs of David and Other Kings of Judah,” Jerusalem: An Archaeological Biography (New York: 1995), 35-43
Ora Limor, “King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion: The Origins of a Tradition,” in D. Jacoby & Y. Tsafrir (eds.), Jews, Samaritans and Christians in Byzantine Palestine (Jerusalem, 1988), 11-23 [Hebrew]. email@example.com
Many of our weekly shiurim are off this week, but opportunities remain!
Shabbat, December 29 7:45 AM R’ Baruch Weintraub, Reasons for mitzvot and the parshah, Or Chaim Derashah Yair Manas, Shaarei Shomayim 10:00 AM Hillel Horovitz, Parshah Shiur, Bnai Torah 10:20 AM R’ Baruch Weintraub, Parshah, Clanton Park 3:40 PM R’ Mordechai Torczyner, Daf Yomi, BAYT 3:50 PM Adam Frieberg, Does one’s burial site really matter?, Shaarei Tefillah After minchah R’ Mordechai Torczyner, Gemara Avodah Zarah: Talmudic Medicine II, BAYT 6:30 PM Yair Manas, Parent-Child Learning: Movie Night, Shaarei Shomayim Sunday, December 30 9:15 AM R’ Mordechai Torczyner, Parshah Preview, Zichron Yisroel, Hebrew (Shacharit 8:30 AM) After maariv R’ Baruch Weintraub, Contemporary Halachah in Israel, Hebrew, Clanton Park 8:30 PM R’ Baruch Weintraub, Contemporary Halachah in Israel, Hebrew, 4 Tillingham Keep, mixed Monday, December 31 8 PM Hillel Horovitz, Prophets, Bnai Torah not this week 8 PM R’ Ezra Goldschmiedt, Mesilat Yesharim, Bnai Torah, high school students not this week 9 PM Hillel Horovitz, Rav Kook’s Ein Ayah, Bnai Torah not this week Tuesday, January 1 1:30 PM R’ Mordechai Torczyner, Book of Daniel, Shaarei Shomayim, Mekorot, resumes January 8 8 PM Yair Manas, Chaburah: Sanhedrin, 33 Meadowbrook not this week 8:30 PM R’ Baruch Weintraub, Rambam’s Laws of Kings, Shomrai Shabbos, men not this week Wednesday, January 2 10 AM R’ Mordechai Torczyner, Book of Yonah, BEBY, Melton, resumes January 23 Thursday, January 3 8:30 PM R’ Baruch Weintraub, Sotah, Clanton Park not this week
Highlights for December 29– January 4 / 16 Tevet - 22 Tevet
We would like to thank koshertube.com for filming our shiurim!
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