Posts Tagged 'medrash'

Parshas Shemini | The Kollel Connection

Parshas Shemini | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

April 17, 2015 – Candle lighting 7:22 pm, Shabbos Ends 8:31 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 Shemini. In Parshas Shemini, the basic laws of kosher are given. We are told that  for an animal to be kosher, it must have two signs: it must chew its cud, and have split feet (hooves). Rav Moshe Sternbach explains that the two signs of an animal being kosher represent two types of behavior: Chewing the cud is internal. By looking at the animal from the outside, one can’t tell if it chews its cud or it doesn’t. This represents the actions a person does internally, that no one sees. Having split hooves, on the other hand, is external. By looking at the animal from the outside one sees right away whether the animal has split hooves or not. This represents the actions that a person does externally, that everyone sees. With the signs of what makes an animal kosher, the Torah teaches us that we must act like good Jews both on the inside and on the outside. If a person acts like a Jew, but their heart is far from Hashem, that is unacceptable. So too, if a person feels that they have a “Jewish heart”- but they are reluctant to act like a Jew on the outside, that is unacceptable. They have just rendered themselves as a “non-kosher” being. We have to serve Hashem both on the inside –  in our hearts, and in our recognizable external deeds.

In the classic work mesillas yeshorim, the author explains that in one way the prohibitions regarding food are more severe than all other prohibitions. He explains that this is because the food we eat actually becomes part of us. If there is something wrong with it, it changes our very essence. Just as no sane human being would eat poison, so too no thinking person would eat something not kosher, that will alter his or her very being on such a bad way. He goes on to say, that even when one has a doubt whether something is kosher they must stay away from it – just as they would if they were not sure if there was poison in it.

The medrash brings out this point in a most amazing way, with a lesson that can alter our eating habits forever. The medrash tells us that when Abraham and Sarah were celebrating the birth of Isaac, there were those who doubted whether Sarah was really the mother of this baby. After all, she was already 90 years old! In order to test her, they each brought their own infant and challenged Sarah – this 90 year old woman – to see if she could nurse them. Sarah did, and they accepted the miracle that at her advanced age she had given birth to Isaac. The medrash says that the children who nursed from Sarah all ended up converting to Judaism, and if we find someone today who converts and becomes a Jew, he or she is a descendant from those who nursed from Sarah.

The obvious point is, not only does bad food that we eat have a destructive force upon us. The food that we eat as a mitzvah, with a properly said blessing, with positive focus –  intent to be healthy and serve Hashem, then we actually can grow from the experience of eating. Unlike an animal that simply eats to exist, we can become elevated and closer to our Creator by eating the food that he provides 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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Parshas Ki Sisa | The Kollel Connection

Parshas Ki Sisa | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

March 6, 2015 – Candle lighting 5:38 pm, Shabbos Ends 6:47 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.

The Kollel connection this week is dedicated in memory of Fraidy Malka bas Yitzchok Moshe Halevi, Mrs. Frieda Einfeld, a’h. 

We appreciate your comments and feedback.

This week we read Parshas Ki Sisa. In the Parsha, we read the episode of the golden calf, the tragic incident in which the Jewish people made a golden calf to replace Moses, who they believed had died. The Medrash tells us that when the Jewish men wanted to build the golden calf, they went to their wives to take their jewelry for this task. The women refused to give their jewelry, telling the men “How could we deny Hashem Who has done for us all these miracles, and make an idol”? When the men saw that they could not get the jewelry from their wives, they gave the jewelry that they themselves had, and built the golden calf from that, without the jewelry of their wives.

The Sages tell us that in the merit of their refusal to give their jewelry for idolatry, Hashem gave Jewish women a special holiday – the holiday of Rosh Chodesh, (the first day of every Jewish month), which to this day is considered a holiday for the women more than for the men. The Tur adds to this, that the three festivals of the year, Passover, Succos, and Shavuos, are related to the three patriarchs. The days of twelve days of Rosh Chodesh are related to the twelve tribes, the twelve sons of Jacob. When the Jewish men sinned with the golden calf, Rosh Chodesh was taken from them and given to their wives. Based on this, many women have a custom not to do various forms of work on Rosh Chodesh.

If we think about the sin of the golden calf, we can see a very powerful lesson here. The early commentaries (Nachmanidies, Rashbam, Ibn Ezra,… ) teach us that the Jews did not mean to serve the golden calf as a deity. No fool would say to a piece of metal that was just a few minutes ago jewelry on their face, “You are my G-d oh Israel”! Rather, the point of the golden calf was to appoint a leader who would lead them as Moses did. The Revelation at Sinai had left them with a picture of Hashem’s Throne, with the image of a golden calf.

If so, there was no deep philosophical battle going on between believers of different faiths. What was the issue between the men and women here, and what do we learn from the behavior of the women? The point is that the women simply did what they were supposed to do. Their belief in G-d was clear and simple: If we are not supposed to appoint an intermediary between us and G-d, than we won’t.  The men allowed the panic of the moment that they thought Moses died, and the desires they may have felt to be free of his leadership, to lead them in the direction that they took – to make a golden calf. The women taught us the power of what we call emunah peshuta – clear, unequivocal faith. When we have a situation that can be challenging, we must learn from these righteous women and muster the strength to simply stay the course, and do what we are supposed to.

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

January 9, 2014 – Candle lighting 4:34 pm, Shabbos Ends 5:43 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 last week. 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 Shemos. In the Parsha we read the episode of Moses and the burning bush. Moses was walking in the desert, taking care of his father in law’s sheep, when he saw a burning bush. The bush was on fire, but was not being consumed. Moses turned, and went to see this wondrous sight. In the medrash, there are two opinions of how far out of his way Moses went to see this. Rav Yochanan says he went three steps. Raish Lakish says he merely turned his neck to see it. When he did, Hashem said to him “You have pained yourself to see this, I will now reveal myself to you”. What does this medrash mean? Is the little effort of walking three steps, or of turning his neck, enough to give Moses the reward of being the redeemer of the Jewish people?

Rav Dessler explains in the name of the Alter of Kelm, that this is a classic fulfillment of what our Sages have taught us “If you open your heart the size of an eye of a needle, I will open it the size of the doorways of the temple.” Hashem waits for us to make that first step. When we do, he gives us the strength to see it through to the end. Moses made that first step – either walking three steps, or turning his head. Once he did, Hashem rewarded him with limitless success.

The famous commentator Rav Leib Chasman offers a powerful analogy to drive this point home. There was once a person who was starving, in dire need of food and drink. As he traveled and got weaker, he chanced upon a house that had a table laden with food and drink, available for anyone who wanted to come in and take it. The only problem was, that the door to the house was locked! The  traveler found a key ring full of keys, and tried every single one. Not one of them worked for this door!!! The only possibility he had left was to take a file and just file away one small tiny piece of metal on one of the keys, so it would work in this hole. Imagine the pain of this person if he does not have a file to do that!! All the wealth and success that he needs is waiting to be his, if he could just do the small task of removing one small piece of metal. If he doesn’t do it, he will end up dying on the doorstep of this house.

In our life, we have a similar challenge. We have to find meaning in life, find a connection to Hashem and feel our relationship with Him. It sometimes feels like a big challenge. The only difference is, we do have the  file and key to open the door to success. All we have to do is open our hearts a little bit – the size of the hole of a needle, and we will then find ourselves connected to Hashem totally. If we can use the key that we have – if we can make that first step with all our hearts, we can then be assured that we will find the connection to Hashem in all aspects of our life that we so desperately need.

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 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 Yisro | The Kollel Connection

Parshas Yisro | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

January 17, 2013 – Candle lighting 4:42, Shabbos Ends 5:52

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

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

This week we read Parshas Yisro.  In the Parsha, we read of the Revelation at Mount Sinai, when Hashem gave us the Torah and which forms the basis of the Jewish religion. If we want to find out exactly what it was that earned the Jewish people the right to this experience, the greatest and closest encounter with G-d that a nation ever had, we have to examine the events that led up to that moment. The Sages point to one particular verse in the Torah introducing that time period. The Torah tells us that when the Jews left the area called Rephidim to go to Sinai, “And they traveled (Vayisu) from Rephidim, and they encamped (Vayachanu) in the desert, and he encamped (Vayichan) over there, the Jewish people, opposite the mountain.” (Exodus 19:2)  The Sages ask, why does the Torah change from the plural (And they) to the singular (And he)?

The Sages tell us that the singular term, Vayichan, is used to indicate unity. Indeed, the Medrash tells us, that whenever the Jews encamped during the 40 years of their traveling through the desert, there was friction and argument. The only time that there was no argument, was when they came to Sinai. Because of this, Hashem said that “since there has come a time that the Jews hate to argue among themselves, and want to live with peace, I will give them the Torah”. This clear lesson teaches us the importance of promoting peace. If we want to have success and have Hashem care for us, we must make sure to have peace amongst ourselves.

Rav Yitzchok of Vorki says that the way to make peace among ourselves is alluded to in the very word “Vayichan” which he connects to the word “chain” which means grace. When we can find chain  – grace in our fellow Jew, when we can look at our fellow Jew and see the good in him or her, see the positive and appreciate it, then we can feel unity. When those feelings resonate among us, then Hashem also wants to join. In such a situation He is ready to share the Torah with us. If things are different, if we feel antagonism, friction, divisiveness between ourselves and other Jews, then Hashem wants nothing to do with us. In such circumstances, He is not ready to share the Torah with us.

Rav Shrage Moshe Kalmonovits, the late head of the Mirrer Yeshiva in Brooklyn, once added a little understanding to this relationship of unity among Jews and being able to receive the Torah. He explained, that Hashem is not ready to give the Torah to any individual. He will only give it to us as a people. As long as we stand by ourselves, we have no chance of ever getting the Torah. If we can remove friction, infighting, animosity, and marginalizing from our attitude, then we have a chance to get the Torah. If we can become people of unity and peace, then Hashem will allow us the privilege of that greatest gift mankind has ever received, His Torah to become ours and elevate us to the exalted title of being “The people of the book”!!

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

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

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

KC 376 – Parshas Vayishlach | The Kollel Connection

KC 376 – Parshas Vayishlach | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

November 15, 2013 – Candle lighting 4:24, Shabbos Ends 5:32

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 Shabbos we read  Parshas Vayishlach. In Parshas Vayishlach  the Torah tells us of  the story of Jacob and his meeting with his brother Esau. After being separated for 36 years, Jacobs returned to his father’s house. Esau came to ‘greet’ him with an army of 400 men. Jacob was very scared, and the Torah describes how he did three things to prepare for their meeting. First of all, he sent a large present to appease Esau. Secondly, he prayed to Hashem to save him from Esau, and finally he prepared to do battle with him. The night before they met, as Jacob prepared his camps for the worst possible scenario, the Torah tells us that Jacob was alone at one point. Suddenly, an angel met him and fought with him. In fact, our Sages teach us, this angel was the angel of Esau. The struggle that he had with Jacob represented the struggle that we have with our evil inclination. The Torah tells us, that at one point, the angel saw that he could not win over Jacob totally, so he wounded him by dislocating the socket of his hip. As the morning came, the angel asked Jacob to let him go, as he had to leave. Our Sages explain that the angel was really telling Jacob that he had to leave as the time had come for him to sing Shira, praise, to Hashem.  The medrash tells us that the angel told Jacob that from the day he had been created, the time had never come for him to say Shira to Hashem until that day. The commentaries pose two very penetrating questions: 1 – Why is it that this angel did not come to fight with Abraham or Isaac? Why was Jacob the only Patriarch that was attacked by an angel? 2 – How do we understand that this angel had to go to say Shira  (praise) to Hashem exactly at this time?  Why would it be that until now there was no obligation for the angel to say Shira until precisely this moment when he struggled with Jacob? Our commentators explain that each of these questions have a very important lesson to teach us:

The Chofetz Chaim explained a very important lesson that he derived from the first question. Abraham stood for kindness, and Isaac stood for service of G-d. Jacob, on the other hand, stood for Torah study. The evil inclination did not see a need to fight with Abraham or with Isaac. While he wants to fight against all good deeds, he is very being is not threatened by the good deeds of kindness or prayer. Torah study, on the other hand, represents the very essence of the power of good. If the evil inclination can defeat our Torah study, then he leaves us with no means to combat him. This is why he fought against Jacob, more than against Abraham and Isaac. This teaches us the power of Torah study, and how important it is.

The second lesson is, in why the angel had to say Shira at precisely this moment. The commentators explain to us, that the evil inclination’s job is to challenge man to sin – so that man will rise over him and win the struggle and come closer to Hashem. When the evil inclination saw that Jacob was victorious over him, and succeeded in defeating him, he had finished his job in this world – by bringing Jacob to his perfection. Now the time had come for him to say his shira, his praise of Hashem. The beautiful lesson here, is that the very purpose of challenges, is bring us to perfection by overcoming them. Once that is done, the goal of coming closer to Hashem is realized, and then perfection has been achieved. If we can absorb this thought, then we can appreciate the challenges that we face, and understanding that these are ways of bringing ourselves to our perfection and to coming closer to 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.


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