Posts Tagged 'Deuteronomy'

Parshas Ki Tzaisai | The Kollel Connection

Parshas Ki Tzaisai | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

September 19, 2014 – Candle lighting 6:43, Shabbos Ends 7:50

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 Bensalem Kollel members for all their help in putting our dinner together this week.  

This week we read Parshas Nitzavim.  Parshas Nitzavim contains one of the most famous verses in the Torah: “For this mitzvah that I am commanding you today, is not far from you, nor is it distant. It is not in the heavens that you should say who will climb for us to heaven to take it for us, and teach it to us so we will do it. Nor is it over the ocean to say, who will cross over the ocean to take it for us, and teach it to us so we will do it. Rather it is very close to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart to do it.” (Deuteronomy 30:11-14).

What mitzvah is the Torah referring to when it tells us that it is so close to us to be able to do it? Nachmanidies explains that the mitzvah referred to here is the mitzvah of Teshuva / repentance. The Torah is telling us that Teshuva is very close to us, and there is no excuse not to repent. The commentaries all raise the same question: How can the Torah tell us that Teshuva is so simple and so close to us? We all know how hard it is for us to change our habits or ways of life? Is it easy for someone who smokes to stop smoking? How many people try over and over, again and again, to break the habit? How many people try to go on a diet yet fail? Why are the life changes that come along with Teshuva considered “easy” to do?

There is a beautiful approach offered, that we would like to share today. The Talmud tells us, that our evil inclination, our temptations and desire to sin, is very powerful. In fact, the Talmud tells us that it is so powerful that we really would not be able to overcome it, if not for the fact that Hashem gives us help. If Hashem helps us with it anyway, then why is it even  regarded  as a challenge? Why should we get reward for overcoming it?

The answer is, that Hashem doesn’t just give us a “free ride”. We don’t just get an automatic pass to go to Heaven. Hashem says, “You make the first step! You open a hole the size of a needle, and then I will finish the job! I will open gateways the size of the doors of the Temple!!” What the sages are teaching us, is that our job is just to begin the process. If we begin with true sincerity – and really try to come close to Hashem – then we will succeed!! He will make it happen!! If we don’t succeed, there is only one reason – we really are not trying!! If we try – we succeed!

This is the difference between changing other areas of life, and Teshuva. In any other area of life, even if we succeed at first and really try, we may not find the strength to continue to succeed. Teshuva  is different. Teshuva is really close to us; It really is as close as our heart and our mouth. We can do it! If we try – we are guaranteed to succeed – as long as we really try!

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.

KC 364 – Parshas Ki Savo | The Kollel Connection

KC 364 – Parshas Ki Savo | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

August 23rd   Candle lighting 7:26  Shabbos Ends 8:33  PM

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 Ki Savo. In Parshas Ki Savo  the Torah tells us the mitzvah of bringing bikurim, the first fruits that grow in ones land, to the Temple as an offering. The Torah describes the procedure that was done at that point, and closes with the following instruction: “And you shall rejoice with all the good that Hashem has given you”. (Deuteronomy 26:11) Why do we need a commandment to be happy? Wouldn’t a person be happy with good things that they have, even without a specific commandment to be happy?

In his classic work, Growth through Torah, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin cites a beautiful thought from Rav Mordechai Gifter. Rav Gifter pointed to the famous teaching that the Sages tell us: “One who has a hundred wants two hundred. One who has two hundred wants four hundred”. The Sages are teaching us, that as human beings, we tend to focus on the things that we lack, rather than on the things that we have. The Torah is telling us to change our perspective: Focus on what we are fortunate to have; rejoice with that, be happy with that, and feel the joy that should fill every part of our life.

In an amazing analogy, Rabbi Pliskin points to the following scenario: Michael decided to give his friend Steven a generous gift of a million dollars. However, he decided that this gift would be kept a secret. He didn’t tell anyone – not even Steven! Steven lived his entire life not knowing that in fact he had become a millionaire. Looking at this situation, the following question is posed: Would we consider Steven a millionaire or not? On the one hand, he did in fact have a million dollars that was his. Technically, if the definition of being a millionaire means someone who owns a million dollars, he certainly would have to be considered a millionaire. On the other hand, when we describe  a millionaire, we usually mean to talk about someone who has use of a million dollars, or at least someone who knows that they have it. Just the fact that technically one owns a sum of money like that, but has no knowledge that they even have it, would not give someone the status of being a millionaire in our terms.

If we think about this analogy, what would we say of ourselves? We are all aware that someone who is not able to see, to hear, to speak, or to walk, would give every penny that they have to be able to do so. These gifts are worth more than all the money in the world. Yet, do we who have these abilities and gifts appreciate them? Do we feel true joy in our hearts when we walk around in our daily lives because of these amazing gifts that we have? Can we imagine the joy of someone who was not able to see, and suddenly got the gift of being able to do so? Should we feel less joy because we are fortunate enough to always have this gift?

This is the lesson the Torah teaches us. Just because Hashem gave us a successful harvest, does not necessarily mean that we appreciate it. We must think about all the goodness that He has given us, we must appreciate it, and then we must rejoice with it.

This beautiful lesson is brought out by the mitzvah that the farmer has to bring the bikkurim, the first fruits. However, it is a mitzvah that the Torah expects and demands from each of us: To appreciate and rejoice in all the goodness that Hashem has given us in our lives. When we feel this, we will find ourselves thanking Him with true emotion, serving Him with true joy, and living lives that are packed with happiness.

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.

KC 362 – Parshas Shoftim | The Kollel Connection

KC 362 – Parshas Shoftim | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

August 9th  Candle lighting 7:46 Shabbos Ends 8:52 PM

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 Shoftim. In Parshas Shoftim  the Torah tells us what to do if a Jewish man or woman sin before Hashem and break His covenant by serving an idol or another deity. The Torah tells us that when we hear of this we must investigate this thoroughly.  If we find that this is true, and this terrible sin has been done in the Jewish people, then we must punish this individual in the most severe way, with capital punishment. (Deuteronomy 17:4)     The commentaries wonder, why does the Torah have to mention that this sin as done “in the Jewish people”? What do the words “in the Jewish people” add to explaining the magnitude  of this sin of idol worship? Obviously, one who denies the very being of his or her Creator deserves the most severe punishment. However, that it is a point that is clear with or without the Torah telling us that this sin occurred “in the Jewish people”? Why are these words added to explain the sin that has been done?

The commentaries offer a most beautiful and important point. Whenever a Jew does a sin there is an effect that is made upon the entire Jewish people. This brings down the spiritual level of all of us. It dulls our senses to feelings of spirituality that we naturally have, it leaves us feeling less resistance to doing a sin, and less apt to do good deeds (mitzvohs). This is what the Torah teaches us with the words  “in the Jewish people”. Never can a Jew feel that his or her actions have no consequence to our people. Every ting that we do has an effect upon others, whether we see that effect or not.

If this is true in a negative sense, this is certainly true in a positive way. Our Sages tell us that the power of good is 500 times more powerful than the power of evil. If when we do a negative deed there is an effect on others, then when we do a good deed – a  mitzvah, there certainly is an effect on others. This is a most important lesson. The Torah wants us to realize and feel how important the actions we take are. Whether in a positive sense, or a negative sense, there is no such thing as ever just doing something that has no bearing on others.  The Torah teaches us that every action of ours affects others; it is truly “in 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.


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