Posts Tagged 'Chofetz Chaim'

Parshas Vayishlach | The Kollel Connection

Parshas Vayishlach | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

December 5, 2014 – Candle lighting 4:16 pm, Shabbos Ends 5:24 pm

Note: Times are for Bensalem; Check your local calendar for exact times in your area.

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

Welcome to the Kollel Connection.

We appreciate your comments and feedback.

The Kollel Connection is dedicated in memory of the innocent victims of the barbaric terrorist attack that took place in Jerusalem this week. May Hashem bring comfort to all the widows and orphans caused by this tragedy, may He grant a speedy recovery to all those injured by these attacks, and may He avenge their deaths from the wicked animals who perpetrate such crimes.

This week we read Parshas Vayishlach. In this Parsha we watch the fascinating meeting between Esau and Jacob. After being  separated for over 20 years, Esau and Jacob finally met each other.  Before they met, Jacob prepared for the worst. Knowing of Esau’s deep hatred for him, Jacob separated his camp into two groups. At one point, as Jacob crossed them over a river, Jacob was left alone. The angel of Esau then came, and in a very famous battle, Jacob and the angel struggled through the night. In the morning, as the angel saw that he could not defeat Jacob, he asked to be allowed to leave. Jacob refused to let him leave until he gave him a blessing, an event that symbolizes the eventual triumph of Jacob over Esau.

The Chofetz Chaim asked a very obvious question: We have three patriarchs:  Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Why is it that from all three, only Jacob is the one attacked by an angel. Why him more than Abraham or Isaac?

The Chofetz Chaim explains that Judaism is built on three pillars: Kindness (Chesed), Prayer (Avoda) and Torah study (Torah). Abraham was the patriarch that was the pillar of kindness. Isaac was the patriarch who was the pillar of prayer. Jacob was the one who was the pillar of Torah study. Indeed, tradition tells us that before going to the house of Laban, Jacob prepared by spending 14 years in a house of study, learning Torah.

The reason the angel fought with Jacob rather than with Abraham and Isaac, is the very reason that Torah is so much more powerful than any other commandment. Our sages tell us that  the Almighty says “I’ve created an evil inclination in man, and I’ve created the antidote for it – Torah” (Talmud Kidushin 39b). We can do many good deeds, but without the power of Torah, we are like an army fighting a war with no ammunition. While the evil inclination challenges all good things that we do, his greatest enemy is the study of Torah. This is why he came to fight Jacob, who represented the study of Torah, more than fighting the other patriarchs.

Often we find people who do many good things, helping people and even connecting to Hashem. Yet, for some reason, they find it hard to commit to study Torah on a regular basis. This is truly the battle of the angel with Jacob, being fought over again, thousands of years later. We have to learn from the strength that our patriarch Jacob showed, when he fought the angel and persevered over him.

Please join us here in the kollel, at anytime during the week. We offer all men and women in our community the opportunity to be modern day Jacobs, and to grow in their connection to Judaism with Torah study. Join me in my new class on the prophets – starting from the story of Joshua – on Tuesday nights at 8:00. Or come some other time. Any time, any subject – just KEEP CALM AND STUDY TORAH!!!

Wishing you and your family a Great Shabbos!!!!!!!! 

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

To sponsor an issue of the Kollel Connection, please email BJOC@bensalemoutreach.org  Sponsorships are only $36 a week.

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Parshas Ki Tzaisai | The Kollel Connection

Parshas Ki Tzaisai | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

September 5, 2014 – Candle lighting 7:06, Shabbos Ends 8:13

Note: Times are for Bensalem; Check your local calendar for exact times in your area.

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

Welcome to the Kollel Connection.

We appreciate your comments and feedback.

Welcome to the Kollel Connection.   We appreciate your comments and feedback. The Kollel Connection is dedicated this week in memory of Melvin Robbins, whose yartziet was this week.  

This week we read Parshas Ki Tzaisai.  Parshas Ki Tzaisai contains many varied commandments. At the end of the Parsha, the Torah tells us “A complete and correct weight shall be for you, and a complete and honest measure shall be for you … (Deuteronomy 25:15).  Rashi quotes the words of our Sages that the ending words “shall be for you” indicate that if we are honest, Hashem promises us that in return we will have something – a lot of material success. Indeed, the Sages teach us that when a person passes away, the first question he is asked in heaven is, “were you honest in business”?

The Chofetz Chaim adds, that when a person does what they are supposed to, blessing resides in all that they do. He explains that when a person does what Hashem wants, Hashem brings His Divine presence to be with him or her. Just as when a wealthy parent visits a poor child, they bring something along with them, so too when Hashem comes to us, He brings blessing to us. However, that’s only true if we are honest. Too often we get overcome with temptation, and end up doing something dishonest. In that case we are like a child whose parent comes to give him a present, but he slams the door and doesn’t let his parent in. The Chofetz Chaim explains that Hashem stands by a Jew’s door waiting to give him or her blessing and success. But instead of acting with honesty and allowing Hashem in, he or she does something dishonest, and Hashem removes the blessing He was waiting to give us. This is the power that being honest has, aside from the merit it carries in the world to come.

There is a story brought down of a time in the last two hundred years, when there was a drought in one of the Arab Lands. The local King summoned the Jewish Rabbis, and told them “I know that if you pray there will be rain. I am decreeing that if there is no rain within the next seven days, all the Jews in my Kingdom will be thrown into exile and banished from here.” The Rabbis declared public days of prayer and fasting. As the seventh day approached, they declared a special day of prayer, where every single man, woman, and child must appear in the main synagogue in town. The next day thousands of Jews gathered to pray. Suddenly, the entire crowd was silenced, as the Rabbi announced “whoever has the power to help now and doesn’t, will not have atonement for this.” Suddenly, a simple shopkeeper who sold vegetables called out “Wait for me!” he ran to his store, brought back his scales that he used to weigh the produce that he sold, and put them on the table. He then burst out in tears “Master of the world! In my entire life I was careful to give every single customer what they paid for! I never took money that I didn’t deserve! In the merit of my honesty, please have mercy upon your people that we won’t die in a drought, and we won’t be banished from our homes!

As soon as he finished speaking, the skies darkened, and rain came down.

This is the power of honesty and integrity that bring the greatest blessing from Hashem.

Wishing you and your family a Great Shabbos!!!!!!!! 

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

To sponsor an issue of the Kollel Connection, please email BJOC@bensalemoutreach.org  Sponsorships are only $36 a week.

Parshas Bechukosai | The Kollel Connection

Parshas Bechukosai | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

May 16, 2013 – Candle lighting 7:51, Shabbos Ends 9:00

Note: Times are for Bensalem; Check your local calendar for exact times in your area.

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

Welcome to the Kollel Connection.

We appreciate your comments and feedback.

The Kollel Connection is dedicated this week in honor of the upsherin (first haircut) of Zechariah Biron. Mazel tov to his parents, Naftoli and Tzirel Leah Biron, and to their entire family!!!

This week we read Parshas Bechukosai. In Parshas Bechukosai, the Torah tells us of  the blessings that will occur if we keep the Torah and keep its commandments. Then, the Torah proceeds to list 98 curses that will befall the Jewish people if we don’t study the Torah, and don’t heed its commandments. The graphic details of horror and punishment that we are warned will befall us, are enough to melt even the stiffest heart. Because of the harshness of these curses, they are usually read in a lower and quicker tone than the rest of the Torah reading. There were Synagogues where they were read so silently, that it was almost as if the one reading the Torah was reading them to himself. The Chofetz Chaim spoke out against this custom, explaining that this is not proper. If  we are obligated to read these curses from the Torah, then it is obvious that Hashem wants us to hear them and to be moved by them, so that we will improve our behavior and come closer to Him. If they are read so low so that no one hears it, we have defeated the purpose of having this Torah reading.

In truth, when we hear these curses that are promised to the Jewish people if we do bad, a question does come to mind. As we know, Judaism teaches us that Hashem created the world to give us pleasure. He has created a special place, the world to come (Olam Haba), where we will one day get the greatest pleasure imaginable. In the meantime, to get to that world, we have to go through challenges in this world. Every time we do a positive deed, (a mitzvah), or we overcome temptation to do a sin, (an avairo), we earn reward in the world to come. Every time we live through a situation of challenge, (a nisayon), we become more perfected, and earn more of a reward in the world to come. This is all explained in beautiful detail in the first chapter of the classic work “Path of the Just” (Messilas Yeshorim).  Where do the horrific punishments spoken of in this week’s Parsha come in to all of this?

In a beautiful analogy, the commentators explain that the very punishment that Hashem promises us, is also an illustration of his love and care for us. Imagine the child who runs into the street in front of his parents’ house. Miraculously, he or she is not hit by a car. What do a caring father or mother do? Will they ignore the incident and pretend that it didn’t happen? Such an attitude will certainly encourage the child to do such a reckless and crazy thing again. A loving parent, who truly cares about the life of their child, will make sure that some form of punishment is given to them. Although it may be bitter for the child right now, in the end the parent may well be saving their child’s life.

In a similar way, we have to understand the concept of punishment from Hashem. Certainly punishment is hard to accept, and we hope not to have to taste it. Certainly it is easy to talk when we are not the person who has to experience it. However, the fact is that Hashem did not rely simply on the promise that He made to us of everlasting reward to make sure that we live our life the way that we should. Even though that promise of eternal pleasure that is the most powerful feeling in the world should have been enough to motivate us, He loves us to much to rely on that alone. In order to make sure that we live our life properly, in order to for us to use the golden opportunity that life presents to us, He has warned us of horrible punishments if we don’t listen to Him. This is exactly what a loving parent does when they want their cherished child to succeed in life – to push them forward by promising dire consequences for misbehavior, so that they will not copy the mistakes of others.

Wishing you and your family a Great Shabbos!!!!!!!! 

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

To sponsor an issue of the Kollel Connection, please email BJOC@bensalemoutreach.org  Sponsorships are only $36 a week.

Parshas Pekudai/Shekalim | The Kollel Connection

Parshas Pekudai/Shekalim | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

February 28, 2013 – Candle lighting 5:32, Shabbos Ends 6:41

Note: Times are for Bensalem; Check your local calendar for exact times in your area.

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

Welcome to the Kollel Connection.

The Kollel Connection is dedicated this week in honor of the birth of a new baby boy to Tomor and Maital Tawil of Bensalem. Mazel tov, may the only have nachat from him and their entire family, and may the brit milah be on time!!!!!    

This week we read Parshas Pekudai.  It is also Parshas Shekalim, when we read of the yearly obligation that every Jew had to contribute a half shekel coin to the temple. This half shekel coin was given to pay for the daily sacrifice (Korbon Tamid) that was offered in the Temple twice a day. By having each Jew give a half shekel to this fund, each Jew had an equal share in the sacrifices in the Temple.

When the Torah tells us of the obligation to give a half shekel, the words “Terumas Hashem” – a giving to Hashem, are used three times. Rashi (Exodus 30:15) explains that there were three different donations that were given at that time. One was the yearly half shekel coin given to buy the animals for the daily sacrifice. Second was the general donations made to build the Tabernacle – which had no set amount. Each Jew would give the amount that they wanted to. Finally, there was a third donation – a second (one time) donation of a half shekel coin made by each Jew. This one time donation was used to make the adonim – the bases that held up the Tabernacle.

When we examine these three separate donations, a question emerges: We can easily understand the difference between the support given for the daily sacrifice, as opposed to the donations given to build the Tabernacle: When one builds a building, people are much more eager to contribute. The reality was that there was no need to tell each Jew to give a specific amount to build the Tabernacle. The Jews, in their excitement, gave so much to build the Tabernacle, that the appeal actually had to be stopped shortly after it began. Unfortunately, when it comes to ongoing expenses for Synagogues or yeshivas, this is not always the case. People are much less excited to donate money for a synagogue or Yeshiva’s utility bill, than they are to donate for creating a new building. Therefore, when it came to the money needed for the daily sacrifice, the Torah requires each person to give a set amount.

Based on this, we have to understand why the funds needed for the adonim, the bases, were given by the Jews with a set amount. Why couldn’t they just be donated by whichever Jews wanted to give for it, just like the rest of the Tabernacle was?

The Chofetz Chaim says a beautiful thought. True, the money for the adonim, the base that held up the Tabernacle, could have been raised by just asking for Jews to donate what they wanted to. Some generous philanthropists would have grabbed the opportunity and donated the whole thing. However, the Torah didn’t want that to happen. Hashem wanted every single Jew to have an equal share in the great cause of making the base, the very thing that held up the Tabernacle. Therefore, He instructed every Jew to give an equal amount to construct those bases.

The Chofetz Chaim writes, that the same concept exists in supporting Torah in our time. As we are approached by institutions of Torah to support them, we must appreciate that doing so is an opportunity for us to share in Torah study. Hashem wants every Jew to be able to share in the great mitzvah of Torah study. The merit is so great, that He does not want it to be left just to those Jews who are studying, but to give that opportunity to every Jew. Like the Jews who gave their half shekel coin to pay for the adonim, the base of the Tabernacle, when we help support Torah study we must appreciate that we are helping the greatest cause and the base of the survival of the Jewish people.

Wishing you and your family a Great Shabbos!!!!!!!! 

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

To sponsor an issue of the Kollel Connection, please email BJOC@bensalemoutreach.org  Sponsorships are only $36 a week.

Parshas Tetzaveh | The Kollel Connection

Parshas Tetzaveh | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

February 7, 2013 – Candle lighting 5:07, Shabbos Ends 6:17

Note: Times are for Bensalem; Check your local calendar for exact times in your area.

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

Welcome to the Kollel Connection.

The Kollel Connection is dedicated this week in Miriam bas David (MomMom) Silverman, mother of Adrian Taylor. May she be an advocate before Hashem’s throne for her wonderful and beautiful family. 

This week we read Parshas Tetzaveh.  In the Parsha, we read of the special garments worn by the priests when they did the service in the Temple. Clear instructions  are given exactly how to construct each of these garments. Aside from the simple idea that when we serve Hashem we have to give His service the proper order and respect, in each of the individual garments there is an idea to learn from and a lesson. One of the special garments worn by the high priest was the meil, a special blue robe. On bottom of this meil, this robe, the Torah tells us that there had to be paamonim – bells, and rimonim “pomegranates” made of wool. They were placed on bottom of the meil in alternate order, and that “the sound will be heard when the High priest comes to  the Temple, (Exodus  28:35), so people will know that he is coming. The Talmud teaches from here that when we enter our home, we must not do so suddenly, and surprise or perhaps scare the people inside. Rather, we must knock, or make them aware that we are coming in, just as the people heard the noise of the High priest coming before he actually came.

The Talmud teaches us another lesson from this garment. The Talmud says that the meil would atone for the sin of loshon hara, of talking bad about someone else. (Eruchin 16a) The Talmud explains that the sound of the meil (the bells on the bottom) would come to atone for the sound of loshon hara, of bad mouthing someone else. The Chofetz Chaim asks, if the bells atone for loshon hara by making a good noise, then why do we have the woolen pomegranates that make no noise? Wouldn’t it make more sense to have only bells on the bottom that represent saying good things? Why do we need these pomegranates that make no sound?

The Chofetz Chaim answers, based on a teaching found in the Talmud (Chulin 89b). “What is the job of a person in this world? He should teach himself to act as a mute person. However, when it comes to words of Torah, he should speak them as it says,… The idea conveyed by the Sages is that we have two jobs to do with our mouth: When we are faced with the opportunity to use positive speech, we must speak up. However, when we are in situations of challenge, whether it is a temptation to bad mouth someone, a temptation to involve ourselves in an argument, or a temptation to hurt someone’s feelings, we must learn from the silent pomegranates and remain quiet. Indeed, the Sages say that Hashem keeps the world running in the merit of someone who is strong enough to remain silent even at a time of conflict. This beautiful lesson – how both using speech in a positive way, and refraining from speaking in a negative way, are such powerful weapons that we must use in serving Hashem, is one that every Jew is supposed to learn from the meil of the High Priest.

Wishing you and your family a Great Shabbos!!!!!!!! 

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

To sponsor an issue of the Kollel Connection, please email BJOC@bensalemoutreach.org  Sponsorships are only $36 a week.

Asara B’Teves | The Kollel Connection

Asara B’Teves | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

December 13, 2013 – Candle lighting 4:16, Shabbos Ends 5:24

Note: Times are for Bensalem; Check your local calendar for exact times in your area.

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

This Friday we mark the fast day of Asara B’Teves, the tenth day of Teves. The reason we fast on this day, is because this is the day that Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king, laid siege to Jerusalem, ultimately breaching its walls and destroying the Temple after a few years. The obvious question that we must ask is, why would we mark the day that siege was laid to Jerusalem so many years later? Our pain for the laying siege of Jerusalem would seem to be only as a prelude to its destruction; once we already fast on Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of Av, which was the day the Temple was actually destroyed, why would we also mark Asara B’Teves?

The Torah tells us that if Asara B’Teves would come out on a Shabbos, we would fast on Shabbos. At first glance, this seems very puzzling. We know that when Tisha B’Av comes out on Shabbos, we push off the fast until Sunday. Why would Asara B’Teves be different?

The only time we find that one may fast on Shabbos, is when one needs merit for a danger that they are in right now. When one is merely commemorating a past tragedy, one does not fast on the Shabbos. Asara Bteves commemorates the beginning of the physical destruction of the Temple. The lesson that it teaches us, is that we have to look not only at the end result, what happened at the end, but also at what caused the problem. If we are told this on the physical level, this is certainly true on a spiritual level. What the fast of Asara B’Teves teaches us, then, is that we have to look at the root cause of the destruction of the Temple, not just at the final outcome.

The Talmud tells us that the second Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred among Jews. The Chofetz Chaim quotes the words of our Sages that not only did this sin of sinas chinam, baseless hatred, cause the destruction of the Temple 2,000 years ago. Every generation that the Temple is not built, we say it is for the same sin of baseless hatred that caused it to be destroyed. If so, the fast of Asara B’Teves tells us to look at the root of the destruction of the Temple as a current problem, not just as a past one. This helps us understand why we would fast on Asara B’Teves even if it is on a Shabbos – for we are not simply marking a past historical event, but are   marking the current cause of our exile.

If we want to rectify this sin, we must change the feeling of baseless hatred that affect us and instead plant feelings of love among Jews. In the Parsha  that we read this week, Parshas Vayechi, we read of the blessings that Jacob gives to his sons right before he dies. He tells them “Hikabzu vagida lachem es asher yikra eschem bacharis hayamim” – gather and I will tell you what will happen to you in the end of times. (Genesis 49:1) The shelah writes that the lesson Jacob was teaching his sons was, that if you want to get to the end of times – if you want to have the Messiah come, then the only way to accomplish this is hikabzu – be together. When you promote and feel unity, then you will be able to merit the coming of the messiah. May we soon see that time when all Jews unite, and our true feelings of care and concern for each other bring us the coming of the Messiah. Amen!

Wishing you and your family a Great Shabbos!!!!!!!! 

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

To sponsor an issue of the Kollel Connection, please email BJOC@bensalemoutreach.org  Sponsorships are only $36 a week.

Parshas Vayigash | The Kollel Connection

Parshas Vayigash | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

December 6, 2013 – Candle lighting 4:16, Shabbos Ends 5:24

Note: Times are for Bensalem; Check your local calendar for exact times in your area.

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

This Shabbos we read Parshas Vayigash. In the Parsha we read of the dramatic final encounter between Joseph and his brothers. Joseph had accused Benjamin of stealing his priceless cup that he used for divination. He insisted that as punishment, Benjamin remain to be a slave to him, and the other brothers return to Jacob. Judah, who had guaranteed to Jacob that he would return Benjamin alive, now approached Joseph to try to convince him to allow Benjamin to leave. In his classic work, Growth through Torah, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin points out a few lessons in communication that we can learn from this encounter:

1 –   When Judah started speaking to Joseph, (Genesis 44:18), he realized that what he was going to say could easily get Joseph very angry. Judah sought to prevent this from happening. In order to prevent it, he asked Joseph now, before the actual anger could begin, not to get angry at him. As we all know, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If Judah could ask Joseph now, when things were calm, not to get angry, then he had a chance to conduct their conversation and convince Joseph to let Benjamin go. We learn from Judah how important it is to set the tone of a conversation before it happens.

2 – In the first verse of their conversation, Judah called Joseph his master twice, and himself the slave twice. We learn the importance of paying respect to the other side, if we hope to have any chance of convincing them to see things our way. Giving honor and respect doesn’t cost anything. If we can just lower our own pride and give honor to someone else, we have a very powerful tool in our arsenal to be able to deal with other people.

3 –   When Judah started speaking to Joseph, he asked him that his words be allowed to enter Joseph’s ears. The brothers had been under the impression that Joseph did not understand Hebrew, and had an interpreter between them the whole time. Why then would Judah ask that he speak directly to Joseph? Rav Berel Solovechick explained, that there is nothing more powerful than sincere pleas that come from the heart. There is a well known story of the famed Chofetz Chaim who once appeared before an official of the Russian government to plead that a decree against the Jewish people be revoked.  After he finished his plea in Yiddish, the language commonly spoken by mot Jews then, someone offered to translate his words into Russian. The government official told him that this was not necessary. He said that words that came from the heart with such sincerity can be understood in any language that they are expressed, and proceeded to revoke the evil decree. If we try to speak from the heart, and are sincere in what we say, we have a real chance to affect the people who we interact with.

Wishing you and your family a Great Shabbos!!!!!!!! 

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

To sponsor an issue of the Kollel Connection, please email BJOC@bensalemoutreach.org  Sponsorships are only $36 a week.


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