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Max Glass לע”נ שמואל מרדכי בן שלמה זאב יוסף
In Memory of Mr. Jack Gindi לע”נ יעקב אליהו בן אליהו הכהן
Volume I : Issue VIII
Editor-in-Chief: Asher Naghi ’14 Senior Editor: Micah Hyman ’14 Managing Editors: Ariel Amsellem ’15 Eitan Meisels ’15 Layout Editor: Yair Fax ’14 Marketing: Jordan Lustman ’15 Distributors: Mitchell Silberberg ’14 Michael Lazovsky ’14 Staﬀ Advisor: Rabbi Arye Sufrin
A publication of YULA Boys High School Mr. Joey Small The Process of Spiritual Growth
In 2008, Michael Phelps won the admiration of the world when he took home eight gold medals at a single Olympic games. After winning his eighth medal, Phelps said to a reporter, “Records are always made to be broken…anybody can do anything that they set their mind to.” I remember when I was watching him, I couldn’t help but think about all the practice and preparation he must have done in order to perform this incredible feat. If he had simply woken up one day and decided to swim in the Olympics, he never would have walked home that day with eight gold medals. Michael Phelps achieved greatness because he invested the requisite time beforehand. The same lesson applies to our everyday lives; in order to be successful, we must plan and prepare for circumstances appropriately. While financial planners prepare us monetarily for the different stages of our lives, physicians help us prepare for our physical and health-related challenges. So, too, teachers help us prepare students for their vocation and life after school. Spiritual preparation, like the preparations above, is a very difficult task, and it is one that is central to the upcoming holiday of Shavuot. Many commentators feel that the forty nine days between the servitude in Egypt and the giving of the Torah indicate that our climb out of the depths of physicality – leaving behind the forty nine levels of Egyptian impurity – must occur a single rung at a time, day by day. The Omer begins with an offering of the year’s first barley, but on the concluding day of the Omer, Shavuot, an offering of two loaves of bread made from wheat is given. Barley represents animal food, while wheat represents a choice grain that has been kneaded and baked into bread, demonstrating the human ability to rise above our animalistic nature and achieve a high spiritual level. In fact, the actual date of Shavuot never appears in the Torah. It is described only by the days preceding it: “You shall count for yourselves seven complete weeks from the morrow of the holiday [Pesach], from the day that you brought the Omer as a wave offering, until the day after the seventh week shall you count fifty days.” (Leviticus 23:15). Why doesn’t the Torah make any mention of the fact that the fiftieth day of the Omer is the day Hashem gave Bnei Yisrael the Torah? Perhaps the answer is that Shavuot does not just happen to fall fifty days after Pesach, but rather, Shavuot is the culmination of a fifty day preparation process that begins on Pesach. We want each day of the Omer to teach us to make every single day count. We need to think about how we can become better human beings – how we can prepare ourselves – so that we achieve the spiritual destination that the Omer has in mind for us. The Netivot Shalom expresses a similar idea in his commentary on Bereishit: Why, he asks, does the Torah not begin with the Mitzvot rather than the creation of the world? In response, he writes that the progression of figures – from Avraham to Yitzchak to Yaakov and so on – are all presented to teach us how to develop our Midot. Rather than starting with laws, the Torah tells us that Derech Eretz Kadma La’Torah – perfecting our Midot comes before the Torah. The Omer is, therefore, a time and a process that leads to the perfection our Derech Eretz before we ultimately accept the Torah.
The Flame of Our Ancestors “For wisdom is better than pearls; all desirable things cannot be compared to it.” - Proverbs (8 :11)
Yonah Hiller ’14
We often struggle to have Kavanah during our Davening, but what does it mean to have Kavanah to begin with? A story told by Rav Twerski about the Tzadik of Sanz gives us some insight on the idea: “Once, when the Tzadik of Sanz was on his way to Shul, he abruptly stopped and returned home. He then promptly set out for Shul again. To his bewildered followers, the Tzadik said, ‘I realized that when I left, I did not have in mind that I was setting out do a Mitzvah, and so, I lacked the proper Kavanah. Therefore, I had to go back and leave for Shul again with the proper Kavanah.’” We’re not expected to return home because we lacked Kavanah; however, especially during these most emotional days for the Jewish people – from Yom Hashoah, the day commemorating six million murdered Jews, to Yom Hazikaron, the day we remember those that have fallen defending Israel, to Yom Ha’atzmaut, a day rejoicing the establishment of a Jewish sovereign nation – we should make an effort to increase our focus and concentration during Tefillah and thank Hashem for all of the wondrous miracles that He has performed and continues to perform for us every day.
Unity is Everywhere
Ariel Amsellem ’15
There is an interesting Pasuk in Parshat Emor, which reads as follows: “Hashem spoke to Moshe saying: Speak to the children of Israel and say to them: Hashem’s appointed festivals that you are to designate as holy convocations – these are my appointed festivals.” Throughout the Parsha, the Festivals are called “Moadim,” or appointed times; Rashi explains that the Torah calls the festivals “appointed times” because they are when Jews must come together. The Torah is therefore stressing the importance of unity in Judaism. Presently, we are in the middle of counting the Omer. It says in the Gemara that 12,000 pairs of Rabbi Akiva’s students died because they did not respect one another. Why does the Gemara have to say, “12,000 pairs of students” when it could have just said 24,000 students died? The Pinay Halacha explains that it says 12,000 pairs because they were undecided about going to war with the Romans. Some said to fight and others said to stay in the Yeshivah and learn. Neither half of Rabbi Akiva’s 24,000 student respected the others’ opinions. The students should have been more tolerant of each other’s views and learned from their teacher Rabbi Akiva. Although Rabbi Akiva thought that the Jews should fight, he respected the views of Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zachai and others who said not to fight. Even today, on a global scale, Jews face a similar dilemma. With all the trials and tribulations facing us, we still have conflicts between man and his friend – between Jew and Jew. Instead of having tolerance and working with one another, some choose to lash out against their brethren because they have a different idea or viewpoint. Especially in today’s world, brothers and sisters should turn to each other and not against each other. That is the essence of Achdut.
From Rabbi Nachum Sauer
This coming Sunday is Lag B’Omer, the day on which we stop mourning for the death of Rabbi Akiva’s 24,000 students who perished in a plague. These deaths left Rabbi Akiva with only five students to continue the chain of Mesorah. Furthermore, Lag B’Omer is the day that Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai died, and it is the day that he transmitted the Zohar, the mystical portions of the Torah, to his students. As such, Lag B’Omer signifies the continuity and eternity of Torah because on this day, so much Torah was transmitted. There is a Minhag to make bonfires on Lag B’Omer because bonfires give off light, which symbolizes the light of the Torah. During Sefirah, we do not make weddings, get haircuts, dance or listen to music. On Lag B’Omer, though, we are allowed to do all of these things; Sefardim hold that one must wait until the thirty-fourth day of the Omer rather than Lag B’Omer, the thirty-third day. According to many Poskim, we are only allowed to do these prohibited actions during the day before but not the night before. When Lag B’Omer falls on Sunday, as it does this year, the Ramah Paskens that one can get a haircut on Friday LeChvod Shabbos. This is only permissible on Friday day but not on Thursday night. The Kaf HaChaim says that Sefardim cannot get a haircut Friday because Sefardim could only get a haircut on the thirty-fourth day, which is Monday. Regardless of the opinion, one cannot make a wedding, listen to music, or dance on Friday because these are not LeChvod Shabbos; they are only permitted on Lag B’Omer itself.
Compiled By Your Senior Editor Micah Hyman
Eager to Receive the Torah
Nathan Silberberg ’16
“And you shall count from the day after the day of rest, from the day that you brought the waving Omer, seven complete weeks they shall be.” (Vayikrah 23:15) The commandment in the Torah, the Sefer Hachinuch explains, is to count from the second night of Pesach until Shavuot. The Jews were expelled from Mitzrayim during Pesach, so that they could go to Har Sinai and accept the Torah on Shavuot. We count these days to display the importance of our acceptance of the Torah. Just as a slave counts the days until he is free, so too we count up the days until we receive the Torah from Hashem. Counting for this reason displays our deep desire to finally reach our goal, the acceptance of the Torah. The more you appreciate the Torah, the more you cherish and care for it. To show just how important the Torah is to us as Jews and to express our joy and pleasure when studying and attempting to master it, we never cease to learn it throughout our lives. Some say that every day of the Omer is a mitzvah on its own, and each day we are elevating ourselves until we reach the correct and ultimate purity that is appropriate for the acceptance of the Torah. These are days that are meant for a Jew to work on his Midot and improve them until we reach Shavuot. All in all, we must look to the acceptance of the Torah, Shavuot, with passion, and we must look deep within ourselves to prefect our Midot and ultimately our hearts. YULA Boys High School Nagel Family Campus 9760 W. Pico Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90035 Tel: 310.203.3180
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