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10 Iyar, 5781 - April 22, 2021 | Mordecai Plaut, director | Bereishis- 5781 Published Weekly
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A New Chareidi Community in Mexico

The members of the Moetzes Gedolei veHachmei HaTorah here and in the U.S., as well as the revered roshei yeshiva here and abroad, joined in the letter of HaRav Gershon Eidelstein who agreed to assume the presidency of the new Torah city in Mexico and direct its establishment and Torah lifestyle. Community rabbonim and kollel heads also affixed their signatures to an additional letter of the Rosh Yeshiva with blessings for this upcoming city of Torah which will provide a solution to the local public's crying distress of lack of proper housing within the conditions of a Torah city.





HaRav Yehoshua Eichenstein: Sefirah is for Bein Odom Lechavero

The gemara in Yevomos discusses the subject of the mourning practiced between Pesach and Shavuos. "Twelve thousand pairs of Rabbi Akiva's disciples, from Gevat to Antipatras, all died during one period because they did not show respect for one another."

Rabbi Yehoshua says that this is composed of two issues, the one, that they lacked due respect for the Torah, as the Maharsha notes there, that they did not feel respect for the Torah of their fellow talmid. But there is another aspect: they lacked due respect for their fellow talmid himself.

This can be explained as follows: a person incorporates two powers, a positive one and a negative one. The positive one is the power of respecting and recognizing the good in his fellow man and to identify what the latter can contribute to him. The negative power is one of dismissing him, downgrading him.

A person must always promote the positive aspect by honoring the other and not, ch'vsh, belittling or mocking him. Therefore, when two sit together and talk in learning, with each one attentive to what the other says, it shows that they are using their positive strengths in mutual respect, showing that each one admits that the other has something to contribute to him.






From Pesach to Shavuos: Physical and Spiritual Redemption

The essay by HaRav Leib Baron zt"l of Montreal, was originally published in 1995=5745, that is, 26 years ago.

"Moshe Rabbenu [at the time of the redemption from Egypt] told Bnei Yisroel Hashem's message, that `this will be a sign for you that I sent you; when you take the people out from Egypt you shall worship Elokim on this mountain'(Shemos 3:12). The people then asked him: `Moshe Rabbenu, when will this worship take place?' He answered: `At the end of fifty days.' And the Jews counted each single day separately . . .." (aggada cited by the Ran in Pesochim [28a of the dapei HaRan] in reference to the obligation of sefiras HaOmer).

When Moshe Rabbenu was still serving as a shepherd of Yisro's sheep it was foretold to him that fifty days after the Exodus from Egypt the Jews would worship Hashem. This revelation was in the Sinai desert when Hashem revealed Himself at the burning bush, long before Bnei Yisroel left Egypt.

Interestingly, the Torah does not mention at all that HaKodosh Boruch Hu commanded Moshe to let Bnei Yisroel know His intention. It seems that Moshe Rabbenu of his own accord decided that it was necessary to let the Jews know that fifty days after their leaving Egypt they would receive the Torah.

What was the reason for Moshe Rabbenu's decision?





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From Our Archives

Torah Weakens a Person

by R' Yerachmiel Kram

"You shall be holy for I, Hashem, your G-d, am holy" (Vayikra 19:2).

"Sanctify Yourself Through the Permissible"

Rashi explains that the essence of the holiness which the Torah is referring to here is the obligation to separate oneself from licentiousness and sin. Distancing oneself from immorality is considered holiness. Rashi even provides several elucidating proofs.

In his commentary to the Torah, the Ramban disagrees with Rashi. In his opinion, prishus, or separation and abstinence, which he maintains is what Chazal were referring to, does not involve the prohibition of immorality but the duty of a person to sanctify himself through what is permissible to him.

The Torah commanded distancing oneself from immorality, to be sure, but it permitted marital relations. The Torah forbade eating the meat of carcasses and other meat not ritually prepared, but it allowed eating kosher meat. Similarly, one is permitted to drink wine that was properly processed and is free from the prohibitions of tevel and orlah or yayin nessech. One might, thus, find allowance to assume that a person could indulge in those things permitted by the Torah even to an excessive degree, what is called novvol birshus haTorah.

The Torah preempts this by exhorting us to "Be holy." First it teaches us what is absolutely forbidden, but beyond that, Hashem also tells us that one must practice abstinence even in what is allowed.

Waiting for Shabbos

a story by Devora Halpern

This is Shabbos? Adi whispered, gazing at the moonlit scene in wonder.

Of course, Adi knew what Shabbos was; she'd been keeping Shabbossim for more than a year before she'd decided to study in Yerusholayim. She liked the regular routine of the day, the familiar foods and special songs.

But here on the streets of Yerusholayim, she saw something that didn't fit into her conceptions of the predictable and expected.

She saw people who seemed to be part of Shabbos itself.

As she followed Bobbie, her South African dorm mate, to their host family for the Friday night meal, Adi was transfixed by the magical scene unfolding before her eyes. Women and children splashed color and chatter up and down the winding street. Teenagers strolled seven and eight abreast, chatting and pushing baby carriages. Mothers huddled on sidewalk benches, keeping an eye on their toddlers playing in the street. There were no cars, buses, traffic noise or anything else, for that matter. This was unlike any Shabbos Adi had ever experienced.

She was captivated. The next Friday night, Adi rushed out to the darkening street to again witness the easygoing parade of adults and children. Here she could put her finger on the Shabbos in a way that she could never do back home.

And yet... what was she missing? Adi felt like an outsider. She only watched the scene; she couldn't recreate the feelings in her own heart. When the siren rang to signal the time for candlelighting, she hurriedly lit her candles and felt the total cessation of work hit her with a thud. Why did everyone else come out so relaxed and radiant?


Av, 5765 - Kislev 5766 (August-December 2005)