Posts Tagged 'Exodus'

Parshas Balak | The Kollel Connection

Parshas Balak | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

June 26, 2015 – Candle lighting 8:14 pm, Shabbos Ends 9:22 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 this week is dedicated in memory of Joseph Levine, Yosef ben Laib Levine, late father of Adam and Alina Levine. Joe passed away this week, leaving behind an amazing legacy of doing and accomplishing many things for the Philadelphia Jewish community. May Hashem comfort Adam, his brothers Brian and Jonathon, and his sister Lindsey, amongst the other mourners of Israel and Jerusalem. May he be a good advocate above for Adam, Alina, Akiva, Aryeh, and all of his children and grandchildren.

This week we read Parshas Balak. In the Parsha we read of the episode of the  wicked prophet Bilaam, who had an amazing power and was able to curse those who he choose to, and inflict damage and even death to them. Bilaam tried to curse the Jewish people towards the end of their 40 year travel through the desert. When he came to do that, Hashem made a miracle, and instead of giving them curses, he actually ending up blessing them.

The Sages tell us that a person who has the following three characteristics is from the disciples of Abraham – a good eye (looking at people favorably), a humble spirit, and contentment with what they have. Whoever has three other characteristics is from the disciples of Bilaam the Rasha (the evil one) –  an evil eye, a egoistical spirit, and a desire for much more. (Ethics of the fathers, 5:23).

The words of our Sages are puzzling. Bilaam represents terrible immorality, hatred, attempting to annihilate the entire Jewish people, and even heresy in his relationship with Hashem. Yet, the Sages talk about flaws in his character. Isn’t this strange? Isn’t the point simple – the students of Abraham believe in Hashem, and serve Him, and the students of Bilaam are heretics and rebel against Him?

Rav Shlomo Heiman, the late head of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath in Brooklyn, explains a beautiful lesson from this. The Sages are trying to explain not only who these respective groups of people were, but what made these people into who they were. How could the students of Abraham, who lived in a world so full of idolatry, follow their teacher Abraham and cling to belief in Hashem? The answer, the Sages teach us, lies in the fact that they had good character traits. When a person has pure and good character, he will discover and live with the truth.

The same question applies in reverse. How could the students of Bilaam the rasha, who lived in a time when miracles were so open, the Exodus from Egypt and the ten plagues occurred, the parting and crossing of the sea, the revelation at Sinai, …. – how could they live lives so dedicated to immorality and wickedness? The answer, the Sages teach us all boils down to bad character traits.

The powerful lesson that we walk away with is the importance of character. The more we can perfect our character, the more we can address any flaws in it and perfect them, the closer we will become to Hashem , and the more loyal servants of Him we will become.

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 Beshalach | The Kollel Connection

Parshas Beshalach | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

January 30, 2015 – Candle lighting 4:57 pm, Shabbos Ends 6:07 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 this week is dedicated in memory of Rav Zechariah ben Zalman Hillel, Rav Zechariah Fendel zt”l.  May his memory be an inspiration to all whose lives he touched, and may his neshama (soul) have nachas from all the good deeds being performed by his descendants and students.

It is also dedicated in honor of the new baby Baum born this week. Mazel Tov to the parents, Rabbi Aaron Simcha and Nechama Rena Baum, and to the grandparents, Rabbi and Mrs. Avraham and Mindy Baum, and Rabbi and Mrs. Moshe and Malky Travitsky. Whoever can, please join us next Tuesday morning in the shul in Bensalem at 8:30 A.M. for the bris.

This week we read Parshas Beshalach.  In the Parsha we read of the travels of the Jewish people in the desert after the crossing of the sea. The Torah tells us that they came to Marah. They were not able to drink from the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Then the Torah tells us that they came to Eilim. There they found twelve springs of water, and seventy palm trees, and were able to enjoy them. (Exodus 15:23, 27)

The commentaries point out two great lessons in the travel through life that we all go through, that we learn from this episode:

1 –  The famed Kotzker Rebbe explains that the words “they were bitter” does not refer to the water. Rather, it refers to the Jews themselves. When a person is bitter,  everything they taste is bitter.  In reality, this has nothing to do with the food,  but with the person voicing his or her opinion.

In his classic work Growth Through Torah,  Rabbi Zelig Pliskin points out that this is true in many areas of life.  Positive people will see good things all around them. Negative people will always find negativity in the world.  If we can sweeten ourselves,  we will suddenly find positive things around us in all areas of life. A positive person sees only good in all the situations they encounter in life.

2 – After this episode with the bitter water at Marah,  the Torah tells us that the Jews went to Eilim,  where they had plenty of water.  The Ibn Ezra explains that this is the reason that they spent 20 days in Eilim,  while only one day in Marah.

The Chafetz Chaim comments that we see from here another lesson in complaining. Often people complain about their situation in life,  as if the situation will last forever. If the Jews would have realized that they would soon have water in Eilim,  they never would have complained in Marah. The story is told of a great man who had a ring with a special inscription on it that he would look at whenever he was going through a rough time.  The words inscribed on it were “this too shall pass”. If we can only remember that the challenges that we face,  as great as they may be, are only temporary,  that would give us the strength to move on and overcome them.

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 Bo| The Kollel Connection

Parshas Bo | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

January 23, 2014 – Candle lighting 4:49 pm, Shabbos Ends 5:58 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 this week is again dedicated in memory of  Debbie Mindel, who tragically passed away a few weeks ago. May Hashem comfort her husband Ray, her children Reva  and Simon, and the entire family amongst the other mourners of Israel.  

This week we read Parshas Bo. In the Parsha we read of the first mitzvah, the first commandment, given to the Jewish people. That is the mitzvah of Rosh Chodesh, the mitzvah to sanctify the new month. Every month the Jewish court had to hear testimony from witnesses who saw the new moon, and sanctify it.  The Torah tells us that the month of Nissan, which is the month of the Exodus and the month in which we celebrate Passover, is the first month of the year.

Rav Moshe Feinstien poses an obvious question: Why is it that when counting the year we change the year from the month of Tishrai (Rosh Hashana), but when counting the months we change in Nissan? Wouldn’t it make sense to change both at the same point in time? Certainly in the secular calendar, we count both January as the start of a new year, and as the first month of the year. Why do we do it different in the Jewish calendar?

He explains that there are two separate lessons taught to us by these two countings. On Rosh Hashana we mark the creation of the world. We recognize Hashem as the Creator of the world, and acknowledge His Kingship over the world. This is done on Rosh Hashana, as this is the day the world was created. On Nissan, we focus on hashgacha pratis – on the lesson of Hashem’s involvement and direction in the world. The lesson of the Exodus , the ten plagues, the crossing of the sea,… was that Hashem is involved in this world to this day, directing what goes on in it. Whether we understand everything yet or not, He has a reason for everything that goes on, and directs all that happens in this world. In this lesson, Nissan is the beginning of the year.

            If we appreciate this, the mitzvah the Jewish people were given of marking Rosh Chodesh is much more than just marking the first day of the month. We are being taught that Hashem is involved in all aspects of this world. Rather than to worry about details of our life, about events in the world, about things happening around us, we are given the lesson that Hashem is watching over and directing all events in this world. Certainly Hashem asks us to make our effort. However, at the end of the day, He is controlling what will and won’t happen. The result of realizing this, the serenity that should be felt by a person who is aware of this, is something that hopefully will give a person much more calmness and pleasure in all aspects of his or her life. Frustrations, anxieties, and pressures can hopefully change to pleasure, happiness, and serenity. This is the power of this mitzvah we read of – the mitzvah of Rosh Chodesh.

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 Va’airo| The Kollel Connection

Parshas Va’airo | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

January 16, 2014 – Candle lighting 4:41 pm, Shabbos Ends 5:50 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.

This week we read Parshas Va’airo. In the Parsha we read  many times that Hashem tells Moses that He is hardening the heart of Pharaoh. The commentaries ask, how could Hashem harden the heart  of Pharaoh? Is this not denying Pharaoh free will – the ability to choose whether to sin or not?

At the end of the parsha, we read of the plague of hail. The Torah tells us that the plague was so strong that it destroyed much of the crops of Egypt. Pharaoh was so overwhelmed by this plague, that he summoned Moses and Aaron and asked them to pray to Hashem that the hail stop, and he will then let the Jews go. ( Exodus 9:28). The Torah then tells us that Moses responded to Pharaoh,  telling him that he will pray that the hail stop,  but he knows that Pharaoh and his servants do not yet fear Hashem. The Torah then mentions that the hail had destroyed the flax and barley, but not the wheat and the spelt… The Torah tells us that they were not destroyed because they were afilos – which means that miracles (niflaos) happened to them. The Torah then proceeds to tell us that Moses went and prayed for Pharaoh that the hail should stop.

The Ohr Hachaim poses a simple question: Why do we have to hear about which crops were destroyed and which were not in the middle of the story? Isn’t that detail out of place? Why doesn’t it just say that Pharaoh asked them to pray, and they did,…?  The Ohr Hachaim answers that this fact – that some of the crops were miraculously spared from the hail – was what prompted Moses to say that Pharaoh would not really let the Jews leave. Once Pharaoh saw that there was a miracle and some crops survived, he let himself believe that there was more than one Deity in control, and that some other Deity prevented Hashem from destroying the crops under its control. That is why it is so essential for the Torah to tell us about this miraculous saving of the crops, to understand the hardening of Pharaohs’ heart.

Nachmanidies explains, this is really the explanation of why Hashem hardened the heart of Pharaoh. Once Pharaoh was under attack from the first few plagues, he would have given in just to escape them. Hashem made his heart harder, so that he will make an objective decision whether to return to Hashem or not.

Often we feel overwhelmed by a challenge that we face in life. If we can just bear this thought in mind –  if the Almighty picked a given situation for us, it’s because we can rise to that situation and overcome the challenges that face us from it, then we will have a much easier time dealing with it. This episode of Pharaoh has to teach us that all details of any struggle that we have are given to us with Divine providence, that will enable us somehow to shine from the circumstance that we have to deal 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.

Parshas Naso/Shavuos | The Kollel Connection

Parshas Naso/Shavuos | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

May 30, 2013 – Candle lighting 8:03, Shabbos Ends 9:11

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.

This week we read Parshas Naso.  It is also the second of the special five days leading up to Shavuos, the day we received the Torah from Hashem. These five days are forever afforded a special status, since the time of the revelation at Sinai. The story of the revelation begins with the arrival of the Jewish people to Sinai on Rosh Chodesh Sivan, the first day of the month of Sivan. This year that comes out on Friday. From that point on, until the day of  Shavuos, were five days that the Jews prepared for the most important event that would change the world forever – the Revelation at Sinai. On the second day of Sivan, (which this year is this Shabbos), Hashem told Moses to give the Jewish people a message: “And now if you will listen to My voice and keep My covenant, you will be to Me a treasure from all the nations,…. And you will be to Me a kingdom of officers and a holy people,….” (Exodus 19:5-6).

If we would pick an introductory line to tell the Jewish people before giving them the Torah, what would it be? Would we offer a sales pitch trying to show the beauty of Torah? Would we offer a strong warning how important it is to observe the Torah – to describe the severity of judgment and the punishment that awaits a person for every single time they have sinned? Perhaps we would describe how great the eternal reward is for every single one of the mitzvohs that we do?

Hashem chose none of the above. Rather, he chose to talk about how important we are. Why were these the lines that Hashem told Moses to tell the Jewish people before they get the Torah?

If we think about it, what is the greatest factor that prevents us from using all our potential to serve Hashem? Could you imagine the force and power that we would pray with if we could sense that He is ignoring everything else that is going on in the world, and just listening to us talk to Him? Could you imagine a person saying “I’m too tired to go to Synagogue” if he felt that the Almighty is waiting for him?

In truth, one could easily see that the source of most of our shortcomings in serving Hashem, is a lack of appreciation for how special our mitzvahs are. If we fully understood and felt how special we are to Hashem, and how beloved the things we do are to Him, then our entire approach to doing the commandments would be different.

Just for a quick illustration:   Can you imagine the excitement of someone who is asked to prepare something for the President and to eat it at a private meal with him? Will he or she mind making the food? Will it bother them to get up early that morning? Will they feel resentment at having to do this, or feel happy at this special moment?

This is our introduction to Sinai: Realize that you are my treasure. Value that relationship; act as a holy people act, as the most cherished people on earth. With an introduction like that, we are sure to find it much easier to joyfully accept on ourselves the responsibilities and obligations that we were taught at Sinai.

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 Bamidbar | The Kollel Connection

Parshas Bamidbar | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

May 23, 2013 – Candle lighting 7:57, Shabbos Ends 9:06

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.

This week we read Parshas Bamidbar.  In Parshas Bamidbar the Torah teaches us about the flags that were set up for each tribe in the desert. Rather than having one national flag for the entire Jewish people, each tribe had its own individual flag. In this week’s parsha we learn that these flags were set up in the second year from when the Jews had left Egypt. A classic question asked by our commentaries is, why would Hashem have had them wait a full year – till the second year from the Exodus, to command us to set up the individual flags for each of the tribes? Why couldn’t the commandment to make flags for each tribe be given as soon as the Jewish people left Egypt?

In a beautiful thought, Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky tells us that the flags given to each tribe could have presented a challenge for the Jewish people. We all understand that when Americans see the famous picture of marines putting up the flag on Iwo Jima, there is a patriotic feeling that is aroused in them. When a Russian sees the Russian flag raised over Crimea, he feels a patriotic flow of emotion. In the case of the tribal flags that the Jewish people had, however, there was a danger of having bad feelings aroused. Since these flags were tribal ones, it was very possible for each tribe to feel that their flag or symbol separated them from the totality of the rest of the Jewish people. Therefore, the first year that the Jewish people were in the desert they were not given the mitzvah to make these flags – so as not to cause any feelings of separation between Jews.

The second year, there was a new factor to take into consideration. We know that the Talmud describes the unifying factor the Temple has on our prayers. When a Jew lives to the North of Jerusalem, he turns to the South to pray. When a Jew lives to the South of Jerusalem, he turns to the North to pray. If he or she is to the east, they face west, and if they live to the west, they face east. The end result is that every Jew all over the world is facing the same direction to pray. This is an amazing factor that expresses and causes unity among all Jews.

This, Rav Kamenetsky explains, is exactly why the commandment to make flags could only take place in the second year of the Exodus. Once we had the Tabernacle built, and we had the unifying factor that would bind all Jews together in place, we could now show the individual power of each tribe. As long as everyone was headed in the same direction, with the same goal of serving Hashem in mind, we were fine to have the individual flags that stood for each tribe’s unique strengths. Just as the limbs of a body have their own individual jobs, but all work together for the same cause, hopefully each Jew sees their own individual personality as part of one great power that serves Hashem together.

Hopefully, as we think about this concept of unity accomplished by having the Tabernacle to bring us together, we can all find the commonality we need in our times to bring the Jewish people. Certainly we  have a lot of different strengths, and a lot of different ideas. If we can use them all for one common goal of serving Hashem, they will hopefully unite us together as one.

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.


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