Posts Tagged 'Leviticus'

Parshas Acharai Mos/Kedoshim | The Kollel Connection

Parshas Acharai Mos/Kedoshim | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

May 1, 2015 – Candle lighting 7:36 pm, Shabbos Ends 8:45 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 Acharai Mos and Kedoshim.  In Parshas Kedoshim, the Torah tells us many of the commandments affecting our relationships with our fellow Jew. One of them is, “Do not hate your brother in your heart.” (Leviticus 19:17) The classic commentary Ohr Hachaim asks, why would the Torah not first finish telling us not to feel hatred in our heart, and then explain the person we are referring to (a brother)?

The Ohr Hachaim answers, that the Torah is teaching us the amount of hatred we can’t have. Even to just feel that someone is less than our brother, is already transgressing the prohibition of hatred.

The Talmud tells us that if someone doesn’t speak with another person for three days because they are upset with them, they are considered an enemy. They are not allowed to be a judge in a case for him. The sin of baseless hatred is so severe that it caused the destruction of the Temple, and to this day has prevented it from being rebuilt. A sobering realization is this point – that emotions can already be called hatred if they simply make us feel that we don’t want to relate to someone as a brother.  Our Sages stress the severity of this sin, telling us that in punishment for the sin of baseless hatred quarrels and disputes arise in one’s home, and tragedies come to one’s family, r’l.

How can we change the feelings of hatred we harbor to others? Our Sages give us one piece of advice: If you want to come to love your fellow Jew, get involved in doing good things for him. When we help others, the feelings of resentment and ill will that we had for him will slowly dissipate. Instead we will find ourselves  feelings of care, concern, and of love for our fellow Jew. This is the amazing power that giving to others has, as it changes our perspective and helps us relate to them with the feelings of love and warmth that the Torah expects from us.

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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“Naaseh Vnishma” | The Kollel Connection

“Naaseh Vnishma” | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

June 6, 2014 – Candle lighting 8:08, Shabbos Ends 9:16

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.

We have just finished celebrating the holiday of Shavuos, when we celebrate G-d’s giving of the Torah to the Jewish people. Our Sages tell us, that the Almighty first offered the Torah to all the nations of the world, but they asked “What was in it”? Each nation heard about a part of the Torah that it did not want to keep – whether not to steal, not to commit immoral acts,… and refused to take it. When the Jewish people were offered the Torah, they didn’t ask what it was that they were accepting. In an amazing act of dedication to G-d, they unconditionally accepted the Torah, saying “naaseh vnishma” – we will do the Torah even before we understand it, and then we will try to understand it. This unconditional acceptance of the Torah was something that stands as a merit to the Jewish people till this day.

This week I received an email that certainly flies against this very concept of naaseh vnishmah – the concept of accepting Hashem’s will as something that we must follow. It would be more comfortable to not even bring up this subject, and to pretend that this email never came. But it  did, and I believe that this email must be addressed, to clarify the severity of the issues involved for those who may not know better. Hiding behind some very flowery titles such as “equality”, “respect”, tolerance”,… some of the most severe prohibitions of the Torah are tossed out, trampled upon, and disregarded.

This email noted that this weekend was LGBTQ Pride and Jewish LGBTQ Pride. The email suggested that “It is a time to stand alongside and with our LGBTQ Jewish friends, family, colleagues, and congregants. It is a time to speak up for equal rights for all; to celebrate our diversity and unity–to celebrate Life.” And then the email proposed that special ”prayers” be said this Saturday in Synagogues, that were written by people who called themselves “Rabbis”!

If we are looking for the Jewish attitude to this movement, how far do we have to go? What does the Torah mean when it says “And a man you shall not lie with as one lies with a woman, it is an abomination.“? (Leviticus 18:22) What is the punishment contained in the Torah in Leviticus 20:13?   Does the Torah leave the attitude of a Jew towards these ways of living unclear?

True, people may have different types of temptations and instincts. If one will say that they have a temptation to live this kind of lifestyle, and that it is hard for them to control it, that may be so. But are we allowed to do things just because we have an urge to do them? Is the fact that the Torah does tell these people to control their feelings in no undefinite terms unclear? If a person has a passion to steal does that allow him to steal? If a person has a temptation to commit adultery, does that become permitted? Does the Torah not make demands of us to control our passions?

Is there anything unclear about the intent of the Torah? The obvious truth is that the Torah’s response to this is clear as daylight. It remains the responsibility of people to live up to the Torah’s standards.

We can understand the reason for those people who are caught up in desires for alternative lifestyles to try to change the Torah, and try to allow this behavior that the Torah clearly calls an abomination. After all, it is hard to change. Controlling temptations takes work, and effort. What about the “Rabbis” who are advocating this?

Why would a person that calls themselves a “Rabbi” advocate  the “sacred work of creating spaces that are welcoming and affirming” to such terrible behavior? Is such a person a “Rabbi” or a clown? Does a  “Rabbi’” do what is popular or what is right? Is a  Rabbi supposed to follow what public opinion polls show is popular? Is a Rabbi supposed to follow or lead?

May the spirit that we just celebrated in Shavuos, of “naaseh vnishma” – of doing the will of the Almighty no matter whether we understand it or not, whether it is easy or not, and whether we would have suggested it or not, come back to the entire Jewish people soon in our days!
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 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.

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.

Parshsios Shemini/Parah | The Kollel Connection

Parshsios Shemini/Parah | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

March 21, 2013 – Candle lighting 6:54, Shabbos Ends 8:03

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 Shemini. It is also Parshas Parah, as we read of the purification that was done to the Jewish people, before they would enter the temple. This is read specifically before Passover, when all Jews had to be pure to enter the temple and partake of the special Paschal lamb.

In Parshas Shemini, the Torah tells us the laws of keeping kosher. The famous rule is given in this week’s Parsha, that in order to be kosher, an animal must have two signs: It must chew its cud, and it must have split hooves. (Leviticus 11:3) The Torah lists several animals that have one of the two signs, but not both. Most famous of these, is the chazir, the pig, which has split hooves but does not chew its cud. The overwhelming majority of animals have either both signs of being kosher, or none. Even among the few animals that have one sign, there is only one that has the sign of split hooves but does not chew its cud. That is the pig. The commentaries ask why is it that the pig, which of all animals of the world is the one most synonymous with something that is not kosher, should be the one animal that gives the outward appearance as if it is kosher?

One simple lesson is that we should never be deceived by external looks. A man could look pious or religious, yet be a total faker. A person may call themselves a “Rabbi”, yet tell people that they may drive on the Sabbath. My father advised me many years ago, that it would be better to be a plumber and be an honest Jew, than to be such a “Rabbi” and be a faker. The pig is exactly that type of fake “Rabbi”. It looks kosher from the outside, but is totally non-kosher inside of it. Desire for honor, money, or other things has caused many a person to say or do things that are not really true.

Another beautiful point is brought down by the Aron L’eydus. Often a person will feel that he or she is having a hard time in their service of Hashem. They may be having a hard time focusing on their prayers, or in doing any of the commandments. They feel as if they are being pushed away by Hashem, and as if their service of Hashem is not desired. They feel ready to give up. This is a terrible mistake, and a lack of understanding why we may find something hard.

A person must know that even in such circumstances, even when the going is tough and rough, we must push with all our strength to come close to Hashem. Any hardship that we have, we must know, is simply a test from heaven to see if we are ready to serve Him even when it is hard to. Perhaps this moment of challenge is precisely the moment in our lives that we were brought in to this world to overcome.

This lesson we learn from the chazir, the pig. The nature of the chazir is, that even when it is pushed away from the place it is in, it pushes itself back to its first spot. The very name for this animal, chazir, comes from the Hebrew word chazara – which is to come back. This is why it has signs of purity on its feet – to show that although its entire body is impure, what it does with its feet – to fight and go back to the place it was hard to stay in, and not to give up, is a good and positive character trait.

May we all find that strength to fight and meet the challenges that come our way and seek to push us down, as we rise to the occasion 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.

Parshsios Tzav/Zachor | The Kollel Connection

Parshsios Tzav/Zachor | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

March 14, 2013 – Candle lighting 5:47, Shabbos Ends 7:56

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 Tzav. It is also Parshas Zachor, the Shabbos that we read in the maftir aliyah, the last aliyah on Shabbos morning, about the war that Amalek waged against the Jewish people when they left Egypt. In contrast to the Torah reading that we do every Shabbos, which is only Rabbinical, this Torah reading is a Torah commandment.

In the Parsha, the Torah tells us about the procedure for a sin offering – a Korban Chatas. The Torah tells us that the sin offering is to be slaughtered in the same place as the sacrifice of an olah (an offering that is totally burnt). (Leviticus 6:18)  The wording of this verse is rather puzzling. We know that the place for both a sin offering and an olah offering is on the North side of the Temple. Why does the Torah tell us that the sin offering should be in the place of the olah offering? Why doesn’t it just say that the sin offering should be on the North side of the Temple? Is there a connection between the fact that the sin offering is on the North side, and that the olah offering is on the North side?

The classic commentator the Kli Yakar, explains that in fact there is a connection between the place for slaughtering the sin offering and the olah offering. A sin offering is brought for an accidental transgression of one of the most serious of all sins – one that if done deliberately would carry with it Karais, an early death and the cutting of the soul from its source. An olah offering is brought for thoughts of doing a sin, certainly a bad thing, but not even close to the reasons for bringing a sin (chatas) offering. If the sin offering and the olah offering were made in different places, than it would be obvious to everyone watching when a person was bringing a sin offering for doing a most serious sin. This would cause the person a lot of embarrassment. In order to avoid this, the Torah said that a person should bring both offerings in the same place – so no one would realize whether a person was now bringing a sin offering or an olah offering. This teaches us the importance of making sure that there is no embarrassment caused to any Jew, even if he or she is a sinner.

This explains why the Torah connected the two offerings – for the reason that the sin offering is on the North side of the Temple is exactly because the olah offering is offered there also, and will thus save a Jew from being embarrassed.

Rav Chatzkel Levinstein, the famed Mashgiach of the Yeshiva of Ponovez, is quoted as having told someone “We have a tradition that if someone would have a chance to build the third Temple, it would come at the cost of causing someone to feel bad, they should refrain from building it.”

This lesson comes at a most appropriate time. Even as we prepare for the joyous partying and merrymaking of Purim, we must be careful not to cause any bad feelings or hurt emotions to another person.

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 Vayikrah | The Kollel Connection

Parshas Vayikrah | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

March 7, 2013 – Candle lighting 5:40, Shabbos Ends 6:45

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’s Kollel Connection is dedicated in Memory of Elsie Green, late mother of Steve Green.  May Hashem comfort Steve, his sister and their entire family amongst the other mourners of Israel.   

This week we read Parshas Vayikrah. In Parshas Vayikrah, the Torah tells us of various types of sacrifices that were offered in Temple. When the Torah talks of the sacrifice called a mincha offering, that consisted of flour without any animal involved, the Torah uses different wording than with the other sacrifices. “And if a nefesh (a soul) will bring a mincha offering to Hashem” (Leviticus 2:1). Our Sages ask, why is it that by all the sacrifices the word “nefesh” (a soul) is not used. Only by this flour offering is that word used. Why is the flour offering the only one that has this word describing the owner who is bringing the sacrifice as a nefesh – a soul?

Rashi quotes the words of our Sages, that a rich person will usually bring an animal as a sacrifice. Flour offerings are brought by poor people. When a poor person brings an offering to Hashem, it is a real sacrifice. Hashem looks at such dedication and considers it as if the person had actually sacrificed his or her own soul.

Rabbenu Yona expresses a similar thought in the following way: “Serving Hashem is not like serving a mortal king or leader. When a person wants to come close to a mortal king, he or she must go through the high ranking officials who are close to the king, and try to be allowed to get through to the king. Not so is serving Hashem. He allows any human being to serve him, and wants them and their service of Him. Hashem has no preference for the rich person over the pauper, nor for the wise man more than the simpleton, nor for the strong person more than the weak person. He just wants the person who is sincere in serving Him as best they can.”

The story is told of a taxi driver who once had the privilege to drive the Steipler Gaon the leading Talmudic sage of his time, on a trip. As they were traveling, the Steipler Gaon asked the driver if he sates aside time to learn Torah at night, after he finishes working. The taxi driver sighed and told the Rabbi that he does go to a Torah class every night, but since he is so exhausted after a full day’s work, he often falls asleep as soon as the class begins, and wakes up just as the class ends. He expressed his deep pain that he can’t stay awake for the class, and certainly doesn’t understand the subject matter. As the Rabbi got off the taxi, he told him “In this world you think that what you study is not worth much. In heaven, you should just know, they treat you like a great General. As long as you are doing what you have strength for, even if you fall asleep as you study, you are considered to be a great tzadik and a righteous person.”

The beautiful idea, that Hashem just wants us to use the talent and strength that He has given us to the best of our ability, is the lesson we learn from this special mincha sacrifice.

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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