Posts Tagged 'holiday'

Parshas Behar | The Kollel Connection

Parshas Behar| The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

May 9, 2013 – Candle lighting 7:44, Shabbos Ends 8:53

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.

This week we read Parshas Behar. In Parshas Behar, the Torah tells us of the mitzvah to help a fellow Jew who has come upon hard times. “And if your brother becomes poor, and his hand (means) falter with you  (in your proximity), you shall strengthen him… (Leviticus 25:35) This is the basic commandment to help a Jew. The Torah uses seemingly extra words when it describes the situation of this Jew who is in need of help. It is described as he is poor “with you”. What is the expression of  “with you”? The Jew who is giving the help has not fallen upon hard times. Why would the Torah describe the person who is in need as being  “with you”?

The Ben Ish Chai offers an explanation based upon a story. There was once a king who had an only son. The King wanted his son to learn any type of wisdom possible, so that he would one day be fit to succeed his father, and to take over as king. He hired a very wise man to teach his son. The man trained the prince for a few years, and when they were finished, he sent him back to the king to be tested on what he had learnt. The king tested his son and was amazed with the amount of wisdom that he had been taught. He ordered that 100,000 gold coins be given to the wise man who had taught his son, and that he be treated with great honor and respect.

A little while later, the wise man sent a message to the king, asking that he send the prince back so that he could teach him one more thing that had been left out. When the prince arrived, the  wise man locked the door, and began giving the prince lashes. After whipping him 50 times, he sent the prince back home, bleeding and all bruised up. When the king saw what had been done to his son, he immediately dispatched his soldiers to bring the wise man to him, and to hang him on the gallows. Before the wise man was to be hung, the king asked him the obvious question: “Why did you do such a foolish thing? You were receiving the greatest honor and glory that anyone could get, why did you beat up the prince”?

The wise man responded,”Your majesty, I am an honest person. When you asked me to teach your son all that he would know to be able to be a good king one day, I had a dilemma. One day your son will be the king. As such, he will have to decide how to administer punishments to people who have committed crimes. How will he know how many lashes to give each person? If he has no clue what it feels like to get lashes, how could he decide how many lashes to give for each crime? Maybe he will give so many lashes, that he will kill someone; maybe he will let a criminal who has committed a serious crime escape with a relatively light punishment. I felt that the only way to solve this problem was to teach your son firsthand what it feels like to get punished. Now I can be assured that when he assumes the throne one day, he will punish his subjects in a fair way.”

The king was so impressed with the answer of the wise man, that he freed him and sent him back home with his reward.

This, the Ben Ish Chai explains, is the meaning of the word imach – with you. The Torah wants us not just to give money to a poor person. The Torah wants us to first feel the pain that the poor person has, and understand how he or she feels. Only after that, when we feel the pain of the poor person, can we really try to help him or her.

We so often have to deal with people who are in need. Sometimes it is financial need. Even more often, it is emotional need. Whether a person needs a boost to their morale, to their prestige, to their happiness, or any of the other many areas of life that a person may need help with – the first thing we must do is to try to understand and feel what they are going through. If we can stop before simply giving help, and just try to first feel what our friend is going through, then the help we can hopefully provide will be much stronger and more effective. This lesson, from this simple word  imach – with you,  can hopefully change the way we relate to all those who we try to help.

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 Emor | The Kollel Connection

Parshas Emor| The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

May 2, 2013 – Candle lighting 7:37, Shabbos Ends 8:46

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.

This week we read Parshas Emor. In Parshas Emor, the Torah tells us of the obligation to observe all the holidays. However, when the Torah introduces the holidays, it proceeds telling us about them with a strange line: “Tell the Jewish people, these are the holidays of Hashem. Six days you should work, and on the seventh day you shall rest,…  (Leviticus 23:3) The obvious question is, why would the Torah introduce telling us of the holidays, by telling us about the Shabbos first? Isn’t the topic of Shabbos a separate topic, to be discussed in its time and place? Why would it be spoken about now, as the Holidays are to be discussed? We also find in this week’s Parsha the prohibition of Chilul Hashem, of doing things that desecrate the honor of Hashem. This is situated right before the commandment of Shabbos, always suggesting to us some connection between the two commandments.

The commentaries offer various explanations. I would like to offer a simple thought, based on an incident that just occurred here in Bensalem, Pa. Every year, our township celebrates a very large fall festival called Bensalem pride day, on the first Saturday of October. This is a large festival, described by the township in the following words: “Bensalem Fall Festival is considered one of the “Best of Bucks” community celebrations, in which we host all day entertainment on the TD Bank Amphitheater Stage and our beautiful Central Park grounds, along with amusements, food vendors, street vendors and car show. The day ends with a fabulous concert and then some of the best fireworks on the East Coast.”

This year, of course, in a rare occurrence, the first Saturday of October coincides with Yom Kippur. When it was found out that the township festival would be on Yom Kippur, several Jewish residents were up in arms. They called upon the Mayor to change the date of the event, to another Saturday, at all cost. When he apologized for the oversight, (It is very rare for Yom Kippur to come out on the first Shabbos of October), but explained that at this point it would cost the township thousands of dollars to make a change, he was accused of being an anti Semite, and subjected to all sorts of pressure.

Of course, our Roman Catholic Mayor of Italian descent, Joe DiGirolamo, reached out to us, the Orthodox part of Bensalem, being the most noticeably Jewish residents of the town. I assured the Mayor, that it was irrelevant to any Jew whether the festival was on the first Saturday in October, the last Saturday in September, or a different Saturday in October. The reality is that Saturday always comes out on Shabbos. This has been the case since the first week of Creation, and will be so until the end of time. To any Jew, participating in any festival on the Sabbath would be unthinkable, unless they break the Shabbos,  which is even more severe a prohibition than breaking Yom Kippur. There was (and still is) no reason for the township to change the date of the festival. No good purpose of observing Jewish law could come out of such a change. I even wrote a letter to this effect to the mayor, which was read out loud at a township committee meeting that was discussing the crisis.

The Township committee meeting took place, but the protests didn’t stop. Apparently, to some Jews, Shabbos just didn’t have any relevance. As long as the festival is not on Yom Kippur, they feel free to attend, – and if the township would not understand their feelings, whether or not they had any validity in Jewish law, the Township was being insensitive, not respecting their Jewish “religion”, and would not be allowed to proceed.

When the Torah introduced the festivals to the Jewish people, perhaps it first talked about Shabbos just to try to prevent such a terrible attitude. Many Jews identify with the holidays. They will get matzah on Passover, find an Esrog or Succah on Sukkos, and try to hear a shofar on Rosh Hashana. They will certainly make it to synagogue on Yom Kippur. These few times a year, their Jewish identity comes out in a beautiful and commendable way. But somehow Shabbos, which comes every week, which has been the badge of honor and glory of the Jewish people throughout our history, which is precious enough to be called the sign of the relationship between G-d and the Jewish people – somehow Shabbos just gets lost. The Torah precedes the festivals by instructing about the Shabbos – to tell us –  it’s not enough to just be Jews on the festivals! Keep the Shabbos!!! Mark this special day of rest with holiness, with a day to spend with the family, with a day to shut off from the mundane world and connect with your Creator!!! Then, after you have the weekly bond that will make you a Jew who is connected to the Almighty, then proceed ahead and mark special additional days to deepen that relation several times a year.

Perhaps there is relevance here for the connection of the concept of kiddush Hashem – sanctifying Hashem’s name, and Chillul Hashem – desecrating His name. When we stick to real Judaism, do what is really right, keep the Shabbos as we should, and the festivals as we should, we sanctify Hashem’s name. We show the world a people that is dedicated to doing the will of its Creator, throughout the year. We show the world a people that adjusts its life to live the way Hashem has told us to. However, when we don’t want to keep the Shabbos, we only want to do some rituals that show our Jewish identity, but we blatantly transgress the most basic commandments of Judaism, we show the world that Judaism has no more relevance to us than being a social way of life. As long as we have bagels and cream cheese, and go to Synagogue on Yom Kippur, we are good Jews. This is a desecration of Hashem’s name. This makes a mockery of any real commitment to Hashem.

It is this attitude is what is being picked up in the recent Pew report. It is this attitude that thousands and even millions of Jewish kids pick up and reject when they decide that there is no reason for them to avoid intermarriage – after all, they are not committed to a “Jewish social club”. Hopefully, it is this attitude that we will overcome as more Jews discover true Judaism, and make it really be part of their lives.

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 Kedoshim | The Kollel Connection

Parshas Kedoshim | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

April 25, 2013 – Candle lighting 7:30, Shabbos Ends 8:39

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.

This week we read Parshas Kedoshim. In Parshas Kedoshim, many of the great ethical commandments that we have are recorded. Included in these is the commandment to judge our fellow Jew favorably. The Talmud tells us that if one judges his or her fellow man favorably, Hashem will in turn judge him or her favorably. This is an amazing way for us to find merit, when the time comes that we need to find favor in the eyes of  Hashem.

Rav Yitzchak Zilberstein relates the following story: There was a lady who had to travel overseas. She arrived in the airport early, and was very hungry. Since she still had several hours till the flight would take off, she went into a kiosk and bought a bag of biscuits. She put them in her carry on walked to an area that she could sit and eat. She put her carry on onto the table, and walked out for a minute. When she came back, she opened the bag of biscuits that she had left there, and started to eat one.

Suddenly, she noticed the man sitting next to her taking a biscuit from her bag of biscuits! She held herself back from saying anything, and took a second biscuit. The other person followed suit, and also took a second one. She felt the rage building inside of her, but was very hungry, so she just kept on eating, followed each time by this other person eating an equal amount. He seemed to be enjoying his biscuits, while she was beside herself in anger as she ate them. When they got up to the last biscuit, he took the biscuit and split it in half. He took half of it and ate it, and gave her the second half. Her anger really got strong, as she watched this man being kind and sharing with her, her own biscuits.

She then went to her seat in the plane, and opened up her carry on. To her utter amazement, she saw her bag of biscuits right there on the top of her carry on. As she felt embarrassment grow inside of her, she realized that all the biscuits that she had eaten before were really not even her biscuits at all!! She had been the kindness of this other man the whole time, as she thought he had been taking something from her!!!

This is the idea of judging one favorably – to realize that there are factors that we don’t know about, history that we are unaware of, and circumstances that change the whole picture – and to therefore give our fellow Jew the benefit of the doubt.

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.

Shabbos Hagodal | The Kollel Connection

Shabbos Hagodal | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

April 11, 2013 – Candle lighting 7:16, Shabbos Ends 8:25

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.

This week we read Parshas Acharai Mos.It is also known as Shabbos Hagodal, the name for the Shabbos before Passover. The preparation for Passover certainly is extensive and comprehensive. Yet, aside from preparing for the Passover seder, getting the matzoh ready, cleaning the house from chometz,… there is also the responsibility of preparing ourselves for the holiday. As we contemplate how we can prepare ourselves to grow from the holiday of Passover, we offer the following thought about the essence of Passover, the concept of freedom.

We all know that Passover is the holiday of freedom. In the prayers of the holiday we call Passover zman chairusainu (the time of our freedom). In the maariv  (evening) service that we say every night, we mention that Hashem took us out of Egypt at this time lchairus olam – for eternal freedom. This coming Monday night we will gather with family and friends, as we mark the most celebrated Jewish occasion of the year – the seder.  Yet, as thinking people, we have to ask ourselves, what does this message of freedom mean to me?  Certainly there are people in this world who are slaves, who are denied physical freedom – but there were Jews who celebrated a seder in the most challenging of circumstances – when they certainly had no freedom. What of those heroes and heroines who said the Haggadah in the concentration camps? Were they celebrating freedom there?

Rav Shlomo Wolbe ztl, described a whole different aspect of freedom. We all have areas in life that we know we should change – but we tell ourselves, “right now I can’t”. Whether it’s a challenge to put on tefillin daily, to quit smoking, to give up soft drinks, or to stop speaking loshon horo about others, we all have things that we want to change – but…. Rav Wolbe explained, that the minute we use that word but our freedom has been compromised. We are saying that we are not free to do what we are supposed to.  We are still enslaved to Pharaoh – and to his values.

The freedom that we were given on Passover was not just a freedom from physical tyranny and subjugation. It is a freedom to rise to a challenge and choose, to grow and improve, and to serve our Creator with every fiber of our being. When we left Egypt, we didn’t only escape a physical bondage of subjugation. We were given the ability to choose to break free from any constrictions that have limited us. Indeed,  Maimonides tells us that Pharaoh and Moses are the two foes that are in each of us. We all have that voice of Pharaoh trying to pull us down, to keep us tied down, and that voice of Moses, trying to lift us up. The very word Mitzrayim (Egypt) is related to the word Maitzar which is a boundary, or an area that is confined. On Passover we celebrate that freedom to taste freedom, and to break out of being confined, to find our space and ability to serve Hashem with all our power.

May we all experience real freedom this Passover, and next year be together in Jerusalem!!!

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

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

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

A party you don’t want to miss!

courtesy Nickelodeontv - Rugrats (Channukah episode)Dear Friends,

Please join us at our annual Chanuka Party. It will be this Tuesday, 6:30 PM at  our center ,2446 Bristol Rd in Bensalem. There will be great food and entertainment for your whole family! Please RSVP Rabbi Binyomin at 917.826.9637 or binyomin.mermelstein@gmail.com.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Binyomin

Smell like a latka!

Dear Friends,

Lets get into the Hanukkah spirit! If you are male and don’t mind smelling like a latka join us this evening at 6 PM for a latka cookout at our center 2446 Bristol Rd. Bensalem,PA. Please RSVP Binyomin at 917-826-9637.


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