Posts Tagged 'Jacob'

Parshas Vayechi| The Kollel Connection

Parshas Vayechi | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

January 6, 2014 – Candle lighting 4:27 pm, Shabbos Ends 5:36 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 Debbie Mindel, who tragically passed away this week. Debbie was responsible, caring and always full of a special energy. In the year we had the privelege to know her, we watched her amazing growth along with her family.  She brought with her smiles and joy and made us feel uplifted every time we met her.  Her sudden untimely passing leaves a void that is impossible to fill.

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 Vayechi. In the Parsha we read the blessings that Jacob gave to each of his sons before he died. In the blessing of Judah, we find a very interesting verse that it used, with a very uplifting and powerful message. When Jacob tells of the great success that will be the future of Judah, he says “Red eyed from wine, and lben shinayim maichalav – white toothed from milk” (Genesis 49:12). The simple meaning of these words is that Judah will have such an abundance of wine, that his eyes will look red, and such an abundance of milk, that his teeth will look white. This is a blessing of material wealth for the tribe of Judah.

Our Sages, in a play on the words, offer another thought. “Better is a person who whitens his or her teeth (lbun shinayim)  by smiling at someone, than one who gives them milk to drink (maichalav). (Talmud, Kesuvos 111b). The Alter of Slabodka points out an amazing lesson that we learn from this statement of our Sages. Imagine how much respect we would have for someone who schlepped every day to various hospitals and institutions, to give milk to the residents there who so desperately needed it. Words could not be enough to describe the kindness of this person. Yet, the Sages point out that even greater is one who smiles at another person and lifts their spirits. The wealth of opportunity that this opens up for us is indescribable. Throughout our day, as we come in contact with people from all walks of life, we have a constant opportunity to lift people’s spirits and to make them feel good – just by smiling at them. What a special opportunity!! The Sages instruct us “Accept every human being with a pleasant expression. This is to say, that if a person gives someone all the gifts that there are in the world, but does so with a sour face, it’s as if they have given nothing. However, if they accept their friend with a smile it is considered as if they had given them all the gifts of the world.” We have to realize the hundreds of opportunities that we have to do kindness in such a simple way, every day, and utilize them by giving people hope and  a good feeling – all with one friendly smile!!!

The Talmud tells us that one time the Sage Rav Broka Chuzaah was in a marketplace and met Elijah. He asked Elijah if there were any people in this particular marketplace who were assured a place in the world to come. Elijah pointed to two men. Rav Broka ran over to them, and asked them what they did. They replied, “we are jesters. Whenever we see someone who looks sad or depressed, we go over to them and cheer them up” (Talmud Taanis 22a). The clear lesson we are taught is how careful we must be to try to lift other people’s spirits.

We all mourn the loss of Debbie Mindel who lived a life bringing joy to others. She was a unique woman who lifted the spirits of all.  In the short time we were privileged to know her, she inspired us! May Hashem help us all follow in her footsteps and five strength to Ray, Reva, Simon and her entire family at this time.

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 Vayigash| The Kollel Connection

Parshas Vayigash | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

December 26, 2014 – Candle lighting 4:22 pm, Shabbos Ends 5:36 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 as a merit for Debbie Mindel, Devorah bas Raizel Chaya, may she have a complete recovery among all those who need it!!! Our thoughts and prayers are with Debbie, her husband Ray, her children Reva  and Simon,
and the entire family.

This week we read Parshas Vayigash. The Parsha tells us of the dramatic revelation of Joseph to his brothers, when he finally told them who he was. “I am Joseph, is my father still alive? And the brothers could not answer Joseph, for they were shocked from him” (Genesis 45:3). The Medrash tells us that this incident is lesson for each of us, as we will one day be unable to answer when Hashem gives us rebuke at the end of our lives. The famous question asked is, where do we see in the words of Joseph a statement of rebuke? Didn’t he just ask his brother’s a question?

The story is told of an expert teacher who had to give his students a lesson on a fast day. As they sat down for class, he looked at the faces of his students, and he could see all over them how they really did not want to be in class, but were stuck there because they had no choice. He realized that with this kind of attitude, the day would be a disaster, with a slew of complaints of how weak and tired they are because of the fast. As they sat down, before they began to study, the teacher told them “I am weak today because of the fast, let’s instead play a card game together”. With great excitement and energy, the entire class began to play, with no thought of the fact that it was a fast day. After 15 minutes, the teacher told them, “I had thought that due to the fact that it is a fast day, you will not be able to focus. However, I see that when you are excited, you have no problem even though it’s a fast day. Come take your books and let us begin to study, using the same energy and excitement you had to play cards”.

Joseph’s brothers had told him how he must have mercy and let Benjamin go back, out of concern for the health of their father Jacob. Joseph told them, if that is your concern, how could you have sold me to slavery 22 years ago? What happened to the worry for the health of our father Jacob then?

This, the medrash teaches us, is the yardstick that we each have to use in our own lives. The same way we find energy and excitement in our drive to earn money, to provide for our family, and to attain our physical goals in life, we must also show in our drive to attain spiritual goals in life. When we feel a lack of passion for the spiritual side of our life, we have to learn from the areas of life that we enjoy, and develop the same feelings for our drive to serve 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 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.

Parshas Toldos | The Kollel Connection

Parshas Toldos | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

November 21, 2014 – Candle lighting 4:20 pm, Shabbos Ends 5:28 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 Toldos. The Parsha begins will the story of the birth of Jacob and Esau. Isaac and Rebecca had been married 20 years, and they prayed that they be granted a child. Hashem heard their prayers and Rebecca became pregnant with twins. The Torah tells us that a very unusual thing occurred. There was a struggle in Rebecca’s womb. The Torah does not explain the nature of this struggle, but the Sages do. When Rebecca would pass by a house of Torah, Jacob would give her pain, as he strove to leave her womb. When Rebecca would pass by a house of idols, Esau would try to leave her womb. Rebecca was concerned with the opposite directions she was getting from her  children, and asked for an explanation from Hashem.

One of the most basic questions asked here, is to try to understand why Esau would  try to leave his mother’s womb when she passed by a house of idols?   After all, he was still a little baby in his mother’s womb. Our Sages teach us that when a child is its mother’s womb, it is the best time of its life. It need not do anything to support itself, yet it has the ability to learn the entire with an angel provided for this express purpose. Why then, would Esau want to leave his mother’s womb, and not experience the special holiness that was provided there? More than that, if Esau had not been born yet, how could he already have such an evil inclination to sin? Was he created with a handicap? Could he be held accountable for anything he did wrong?

There is a beautiful lesson here.  We often look around, and see a person who seems to have none of the challenges that we do. We get jealous of them, and envious. We feel like throwing up our hands and saying “it’s too hard!”. We have to realize, that this attitude is a mistake. Each one of us is born with a different challenge; Each one of us is created with a different situation – that will help us reach our perfection. The fact that Esau may have had a desire from the beginning of his being to go and to serve idols did not absolve him from his obligation to try to overcome that desire. Indeed, that was the very challenge that Hashem had created for him to overcome.  When we feel a desire to run after a sin, – even something as basic as running after our evil inclination away from pure goodness, we have to realize that this challenge was given to us to overcome it. Rather than giving in to it, as Esau did, we have to learn to rise against it, and to overcome it.

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 Shemos | The Kollel Connection

Parshas Shemos | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

December 20, 2013 – Candle lighting 4:19, Shabbos Ends 5:28

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

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

This week’s Kollel Connection is dedicated in honor of the Bar Mitzvah of Binyomin Kahn. Mazel Tov to Rabbi and Mrs. Kahn and the entire Kahn/Goldman Family!

This week we begin the book of Exodus – Shemos, with Parshas Shemos. In Parshas Shemos, we read of the beginning of the enslavement of the Jewish people. The Torah tells us that a “new” king arose in Egypt, who didn’t know Joseph, and who told his people that he wanted to enslave the Jewish people. The Talmud cites one opinion that in fact this Pharaoh was not really a new king, but was the same old king who decided on a new approach to the Jewish people. The question arises, why would this king suddenly decide on a new approach to the Jewish people? What caused his sudden change of heart?

Rav Yissochar Frand, the famed author and speaker from Baltimore, quotes the words of the Mikdash Mordechai, written by Rabbi Mordechai Ilan. When the Torah describes the arrival of Jacob and his family to Egypt, the words used are that they were the Jews who were “Habaim Mitzraima” – the ones who were coming to Egypt (Exodus 1:1). The wording is strange, because they had already come to Egypt. Why would the Torah use the present tense? At the end of that verse, the Torah tells us “ish ubaiso bau – each man and his family had come” – in the past tense. Why is the tense changed?

In a beautiful thought, Rav Frand points out that often people think that when we act as Jews should, we are looked down by our Gentile neighbors; when we act like our Gentile neighbors, then they look up at us. In reality, the opposite is often the case. When we live as Jews are supposed to live, stick to our principles and observe the commandments, then we are respected by the Gentiles. When we compromise our principles, and try to act like the gentiles, they lose their respect for us.

The first generation of Jews that came to Egypt with Jacob always felt like they really belonged in Israel. They felt like strangers in Egypt, and were always living with a feeling as if they were still coming now to Egypt. Their identity was always like a Jew who happened to be in Egypt. Therefore, they had respect in the eyes of Pharaoh. The next generation, already developed a different attitude. As the Torah tells us, the land was full of them” (Exodus 1:7). They left the land of Goshen that Joseph had put them into, and spread out among all of Egyptian society. They already felt that they were Egyptians, who happened to have come from a Jewish background. That is why the Torah says that they had come – in the past tense – to Egypt. They looked at their past as history. When looking at this type of Jew, Pharaoh did not feel respect for them. He developed a “new” policy for this “new” Jew, that was a total change of how he had treated the first generation of Jews.

The lesson that we learn from the Torah, is to try to instill in ourselves and our children pride in what we are. There is no reason to feel any shame in being a Jew, and in observing the commandments. We have to look at the commandments as a badge of pride that the Almighty has given us to wear as we go through life.

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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