Yeshiva University Torah MiTzion Beit Midrash Zichron Dov

Parshat Ki Tisa 15 Adar 1, 5774/February 15, 2014
This issue of Toronto Torah is sponsored by Esther Salmon & Family in memory of Alan (Bumi) Salmon ‫אברהם בן ישראל ז“ל‬

Toronto Torah
encounters the nation and their idolatrous activities. Moshe is filled with rage, he smashes the tablets, and he orders the execution of the worshippers of the Calf. At face value, this seems to be a step backwards, obliterating the control he had exhibited upon hearing the horrific news. A simple explanation for Moshe’s “about face” may be found in the observation of our sages, “Hearing does not compare to seeing.” As Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch explains, “As long as pagan delusions, no matter what their form, are based merely on intellectual error and remain confined to the intellect, there is always hope that error will give way to enlightenment, that delusions will give way to truth, and that those afflicted by such notions will readily change for the better.” While atop Mount Sinai Moshe hoped that he would be able to reason with the errant nation; he was sure that his intellectual arguments would convince them to throw away their idol. However, once Moshe saw that they were dancing - a crucial detail that G-d had failed to mention but that the Torah records immediately before describing Moshe’s anger - his perspective changed. As Rabbi Hirsch continues to say, “Not so, however, when pagan delusion goes beyond intellectual error and corrupts people’s character and conduct, and licentiousness is openly worshipped upon the altar of falsehood.” Sin which is based in emotion is extremely difficult to change, and witnessing this altered Moshe’s perspective, causing him to smash the tablets. An entirely different answer is offered by Rabbi Yitzchak Caro in his Toldot Yitzchak. Asking our question regarding


Vol. 5 Num. 23

The Wrath of Moshe
Remember that time when you did it? You were about to boil over with anger at your child or your spouse, but you kept your composure and acted appropriately. These moments, rare for some, common for others, are triumphs in the realm of character development. They make us feel good, but more, they are essential to our goal of maintaining healthy relationships with our loved ones. After forty days and nights on Mount Sinai, Moshe is informed that his nation has sinned. G-d instructs Moshe to descend and deal with a nation which, after reaching spiritual heights at the sea, has fallen so low that they are now worshipping an idol. Moshe must have been shocked. When he had left the nation only forty days earlier, they had been in an elevated spiritual state. In the interim, Moshe had risen to incredible levels in his face-to-face conversation with G-d, but the nation had fallen to striking lows. Anger, despair and frustration would have been obvious reactions for Moshe. Nonetheless, Moshe’s initial reaction to the sin, and to G-d’s stated plan to divest Himself of this burdensome nation and start again, is the opposite. For three long verses, Moshe marshals multiple arguments in begging G-d to forgive the Jewish people. Standing on Mount Sinai, Moshe has succeeded in reacting to a terribly difficult situation with restraint and purpose, focusing on solutions when he could have easily lost his temper. With this in mind, we should be stunned by Moshe’s reaction when he descends the mountain and

Adam Frieberg
Moshe’s shift of moods, he suggests that Moshe’s rage was an attempt to make a point, to demonstrate to the Jews just how grave their sin was. Therefore, Moshe waited until he was in front of the nation to smash the tablets. Moshe hoped that this would help the nation begin their process of repentance, as they would recognize the severity of their sin. In the realm of pedagogy, experts say that parents and teachers should avoid becoming angry at their children and students, at all costs. However, sometimes children and students won’t take a message seriously if it is not delivered with passion. The suggestion is then made that, if need be, a teacher or parent can pretend to be enraged in order to make a point. (Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Deiot 2:3) Combining this with the Toldot Yitzchak’s idea, perhaps we can suggest that Moshe was not truly angry. Perhaps Moshe understood that approaching G-d without a tangible symbol towards which to focus their devotion was difficult for the Jews. [See Kuzari 1:97 for more regarding this point.] Therefore, Moshe put on a show, calculating that anger would be the best modus operandi to transmit his message. This interpretation may be difficult to accept in light of the verse which states that Moshe’s anger flared, but perhaps the Torah is describing how the nation viewed Moshe, rather than what Moshe was truly feeling. May we, like Moshe, merit to choose the correct tools to react to each situation, with the goal of bringing one and all closer to G-d.


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Haftorah: Melachim I 18:1-39
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 happens in our haftorah? King Achav and his wife Izevel [Jezebel] worshipped idols, and brought the Jewish people into their worship as well. They seem to have sought a return of the Land of Israel to its Canaanite origins, establishing altars for the Canaanite Baal deity and murdering prophets of G-d. During their day, the Canaanite city of Yericho was re-built. (Melachim I 16:29-34) In response, Eliyahu HaNavi decreed that no rain would fall, and so a great famine began, and Eliyahu went into hiding. (ibid. 17) Our haftorah begins in the third year of the famine, as G-d instructs Eliyahu to appear to Achav and inform him that rain will now fall. Eliyahu visits Achav’s righteous servant Ovadiah, who had secretly defied his masters and rescued prophets from their hand. Eliyahu instructs Ovadiah to inform Achav that he has returned. (ibid. 18:1-15) Achav meets with Eliyahu, and blames him for the famine; Eliyahu responds by blaming Achav’s idolatry. The prophet then instructs the king to prepare a showdown between himself and the servants of the baal and asheirah deities. 450 servants of baal come to Mount Carmel with Eliyahu; the servants of asheirah do not participate. (ibid. 18:16-20) Eliyahu sets the terms for a contest which is meant to inspire the Jews to cease their god-hopping ways: the servants of baal and Eliyahu will each set up altars, and the altar upon which a heavenly fire descends will be shown to be the altar of the genuine G-d. (ibid. 18:21-24) The servants of baal make the first attempt, and their prayers are not answered. Eliyahu mocks them, suggesting that baal might sleeping or otherwise indisposed, as they cut themselves with blades and cry out in loud voices. Then Eliyahu reconstructs an ancient, ruined altar, pours great quantities of water over it, and prays, and he is answered with a fire that consumes “the offering, the wood, the stones, the dirt and the water.” The nation responds by declaring that Hashem is the true G-d. (ibid. 25-39)

Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner
Eliyahu’s altar Eliyahu HaNavi performs a remarkable ritual in preparing his korban, flooding his altar and surrounding channels with water before summoning heavenly flame. However, the altar itself may be worthy of even greater notice. Eliyahu “heals a destroyed altar of G-d,” gathering twelve stones, “the number of the tribes of Israel,” and uniting them. (ibid. 30-32) He then has the water poured from four pitchers, three times, for a total of twelve pourings. (ibid. 34) With his actions, Eliyahu teaches us two important lessons. First, Eliyahu does not seek to innovate new, attention-grabbing rites in order to win over the Jewish population. Rather, he chooses an old site, and repairs an old altar, calling his generation of Jews to return to tradition. Second, Eliyahu unsubtly reminds the Jews of their much-needed unity. We received the Torah when we camped as one, and we received the Land of Israel when we entered as one. The symbolism of twelve stones joined together as one, and twelve pourings of water filling a channel as one, is meant to remind Jews who have strayed, “Israel is your name. (ibid 31)”

613 Mitzvot: #351 352, 356 Korban-Swapping and Greed
As we have already discussed, the Torah affords us great power, enabling us to verbally dedicate certain types of property as “korban” gifts to Gd. However, the Torah prohibits “temurah,” meaning substitution; once a korban is dedicated, one may not try to substitute another in its place. This applies even if the substitute is of better quality than the original; one who attempts to substitute is punished (mitzvah 351), and both items are then considered sacred (mitzvah 352). As the Sefer haChinuch explains, “In order to establish in our hearts a proper reverence for the sacred, the Torah instructed that we alter nothing. Once an animal is consecrated, it remains so forever.” Further, one may not attempt to swap a korban, dedicating it first for one purpose and then trying to re-assign it as a different korban. Such reassignment would be ineffective. (mitzvah 356) Rambam saw in these laws a broad message regarding our natural attachment to property. He wrote, “The Torah descended to the ultimate end of a person’s thoughts, the extreme of his yetzer hara. A person’s nature is inclined to increase his acquisitions and spare his property, and despite having vowed and consecrated it is yet possible that he will recant and regret, and attempt to redeem [his consecrated

Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner
property] for less than its worth. Therefore, the Torah stated that one who would redeem property he had personally consecrated must add an extra twenty percent. “Further, one who consecrates an animal [as a korban] might recant, and being unable to redeem it [since unblemished korbanot may not be redeemed] he might attempt to swap it for an inferior animal. If he would be permitted to substitute a superior animal for an inferior one, he would then substitute an inferior animal for a superior one and say, ‘It is good.’ Therefore the Torah sealed the path before him lest he substitute… All of this is in order to control a person’s yetzer and improve his attitudes. Most of the Torah’s laws reflect forethought by the Possessor of great counsel, to improve a person’s attitudes and straighten a person’s deeds.” (Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Temurah 4:13)


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Torah and Translation

Rabbi Shlomo Kluger
Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner
Rabbi Shlomo ben Yehudah Aharon Kluger was born in Komarov, Poland in Cheshvan 1784. His father was the Rabbi of the city, and young Shlomo showed signs of brilliance from a young age, recording novel observations on Torah from the age of six. His father passed away when Shlomo was only 13, and after a brief period in yeshiva he went to study independently, under the philosophical influence of the Dubna Maggid. Rabbi Kluger’s mother passed away when he was only 15, and he married his wife Liba Malya when he was seventeen. When his father-in-law passed away as well, he went into business as a shopkeeper. Rabbi Kluger’s business ultimately failed, and he accepted a rabbinical position in Kolkov at the age of 25. He and his wife lost their firstborn son, Chaim, and he moved on to a rabbinate in Lublin in 1817, before taking the pulpit in the city of Brody in 1820. He served there until 1845, when he accepted a position in Brezany, but he then contracted typhus. He vowed to return to Brody if he would recover, and he lived to fulfill his vow – but a new Rabbi had already been selected in Brody, and so he lived there in a nonrabbinical capacity until he passed away in 1869. Rabbi Kluger was known among Jews and non-Jews for his erudition, his work ethic, and his candour. He was consulted by Jewish communities far and wide on halachic matters, and by secular courts for his opinion on their conundrums. Rabbi Kluger wrote on many branches of Torah, but his main energies went into halachah. Some of his non-halachic writings are available in translation at

Machine Matzah and Needy People
Rabbi Shlomo Kluger, Modaah l’Beit Yisrael pg. 3-4
Translated by Josh Gutenberg

‫הנה מכתבם קבלתי יום הזה א ‘ משפטים‬ ,‫ ואם כי אני מוטרד וחלש כח‬,‫לעתותי ערב‬ ‫פניתי תיכף להושיבם הלילה כי עת לדבר כי‬ ‫ ובעיר‬,‫ימי הפסח ממשמשים ובאים בעזה“י‬ ‫גדולה לאלקים צריך להתחיל לשאול‬ .‫ולדרוש מקודם לשלשים יום לפני הפסח‬

I received their letter today, on Sunday [the week of parshat] Mishpatim at dusk. Though I am busy and weak, I turned immediately to answer them tonight, for it is a time sensitive matter as the days of Pesach are approaching, with the help of G-d, and in a giant city there is a need to begin asking and seeking even earlier than thirty days before Pesach. And now, regarding their question of whether the matzah for the Festival of Pesach may be made with the machine invented in the Germanic lands: now, what was told to you that in our city they did so is utter falsehood, containing absolutely no truth. It never entered any man’s heart to do this, for several reasons, and one cannot learn from the Ashkenazim, for several reasons. And now, the reason for this prohibition seems to be, first of the first, that it would be neither just nor ethical to steal from the poor whose eyes anxiously turn to this, for due to their assistance with matzot they receive [financial] support for Pesach expenses, which are great for our nation.... And certainly, in this situation where there is no hint of a mitzvah in using a machine [to prepare the matzah], this should not be done, because the eyes of the poor anxiously wait for this in order to make a profit for Pesach. Also, there are some laymen, and certainly simple ones, who do not give money [to the poor] for Pesach needs as is traditional among the Jewish people, as rooted in the words of the early sages. Therefore, they fulfill this commandment by at least allowing [the poor people] to earn wages by helping with the matzot. This will not be so if they will negate this as well; it would be like negating [both] the commandment of tzedakah and [the giving of] money for Pesach needs.

‫והנה ע “ ד שאלתם אם להתנהג לעשות‬ ‫המצות לחג הפסח ע״י המאשין הנתחדש‬ ‫ הנה מה שהוגד לכם‬, ‫במדינות אשכנז‬ ‫ זה שקר גמור ולא מיניה‬, ‫שפה “ ק עשו כן‬ ‫ולא מקצתו ולא עלה על לב אדם לעשות כן‬ ‫מכמה טעמים ואין ללמוד מאשכנזים מכמה‬ .‫טעמים‬

‫והנה טעם האיסור בזה נראה כי ראשון‬ ‫שבראשון אין זה מגדר היושר והמוסר‬ ‫להיות גוזל עניים אשר עיניהם נשואות על‬ ‫זה כי מן העזר הזה שהם עוזרים במצות יש‬ ‫להם סעד גדול להוצאות הפסח המרובים‬ ...‫לבני עמנו‬ ‫ומכש״כ בזהו דאין שום סרך מצוה במאשין‬ ‫ דעיניהם של עניים נשואות‬,‫דאין לעשותה‬ ‫ וגם כמה בעלי בתים‬,‫לזה ולהשתכר על פסח‬ ‫הבינונים ומכש״כ ההדיוטים אינם נותנים‬ ‫מעות חטין הנהוג בישראל ושורשו מדברי‬ ‫הראשונים ז“ל ולכך הם מקיימים בזה במה‬ ,‫דעכ“ פ נותנין להם להשתכר בעזרם במצות‬ ‫לא כן אם גם זה יבטלו הוי כמבטלים מצות‬ .‫צדקה ומעות חטין לפסח‬

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This Week in Israeli History: 16 Adar 1, 1921 - Chief Rabbinate Formed
Sunday is 16 Adar 1 Under the Ottoman Empire, the Jewish community of Israel was represented before the government by the Rishon l’Tzion, Chief Rabbi of the largely Sephardic community in Jerusalem. The Rishon l’Tzion was authorized to appoint and remove rabbis, and controlled collection of taxes and distribution of communal funds. This system held sway for centuries, until the beginning of the British Mandate. British High Commissioner Sir Herbert Samuel recognized the growth of Ashkenazi Jewry, and wished to alter the system of religious government. The Sephardim were in favour of continuing the existing system, while the Ashkenazim favoured a European style, in which each community would maintain independent courts and there would be no supreme authority. In the end, Samuel recommended the formation of a joint Chief Rabbinate, with a Sephardic Chief Rabbi and an Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi. The

Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner

Chief Rabbis would head a council which included an additional three Sephardic rabbis and three Ashkenazi rabbis. This council would be advised by a three-member panel of non -rabbis, who were required to be learned, observant Jews. A special committee of 102 voters was commissioned; twothirds of the voters were rabbis, and one-third were representatives of Jewish communities in Mandate Palestine. The vote was held on the sixteenth of Adar I (February 24), 1921. Rabbi Yaakov Meir was elected as Sephardic Chief Rabbi, and Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook was elected as Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi. The Chief Rabbis were granted authority over courts handling personal status, such as mariage and divorce. The Neturei Karta and Agudath Israel communities did not recognize the Chief Rabbinate, and the British permitted them to opt out of this arrangement.

Highlights for February 15 – February 21 / 15 Adar 1 - 21 Adar 1
SHABBAT FEB. 15 Before minchah After minchah SUNDAY FEB. 16 9:15 AM 8:00 PM MONDAY FEB. 17 After 8:45 AM Shacharit R’ Mordechai Torczyner Adam Frieberg Josh Gutenberg R’ Mordechai Torczyner Rav Shlomo Gemara Family Day Learning: Vandalism is Allowed on Purim Kuzari Parshah Medical Halachah: Shabbat Prophets of Israel High school students BAYT co-sponsored with BAYT Youth Community Beit Midrash Night R’ Shalom Krell R’ Baruch Weintraub Kuzari Zichron Yisroel With light breakfast

Shushan Purim Katan R’ Mordechai Torczyner R’ Mordechai Torczyner



Special Notes

Daf Yomi Avodah Zarah 37b: Bishul Akum, Part 1


Modern Dilemmas, Ancient Answers: Questions in Contemporary Israel On-line shiur in Hebrew:

8:00 PM 8:00 PM TUESDAY FEB. 18 12:30 PM 8:45 PM WED. FEB. 19 1:30 PM 8:00 PM 9:00 PM THU. FEB. 20 7:30 PM

Shaarei Shomayim Bnai Torah

R’ Mordechai Torczyner Adam Frieberg

Living Midrash Exploring Laws of Shabbat

Shaarei Shomayim Shaarei Tefillah

R’ Mordechai Torczyner R’ Mordechai Torczyner R’ Yehoshua Weber

The Book of Yehoshua Business Ethics: Lending Responsa: Metzitzah

49 Michael Ct.

not this week For women only Community Beit Midrash Night

Yeshivat Or Chaim

R’ Mordechai Torczyner

The Book of Daniel, Week 6 Kehilat Shaarei Torah

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