Posts Tagged 'Nachmanidies'

Parshas Va’airo| The Kollel Connection

Parshas Va’airo | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

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

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

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

Welcome to the Kollel Connection.

We appreciate your comments and feedback.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

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

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Parshas Chayai Sarah | The Kollel Connection

Parshas Chayai Sarah | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

November 14, 2014 – Candle lighting 4:25 pm, Shabbos Ends 5:33 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 this week in honor of the upsherin (first haircut) of Zechariah Biron. Mazel tov to his parents, Naftoli and Tzirel Leah Biron, and to their entire family!!!

This week we read Parshas Chayai Sarah. In the Parsha will learn the story of the search for an appropriate wife for Isaac. The Torah tells us that Abraham dispatched his trustworthy servant Eliezer to find a wife for his son Isaac. When Eliezer arrived in Aram Naharaim, the birthplace of Abraham, he waited by the water well to find a good match. The Torah then tells us that a girl came by to get water for her family. When she left from the well, Eliezer ran after her. The Sages ask, what made Eliezer run after this girl? They explain that when Rebecca came to the well, the water rose to her.  Eliezer saw this, and realized that she must be a special person, and therefore ran after her.

Where do the Sages see in the Torah that the water rose toward Rebecca? Nachmanidies explains that when the Torah tells us later that she fed all of Eliezer’s camels, it says “and she drew the water for all his camels” (Genesis 24:20). That clearly indicates that  Rebecca not only gave the water to the camels, but also drew it up from the well. When Rebecca took the water for herself, it just says “and she filled her jug” (Genesis 24:16). It does not say that she drew it,  and our Sages deduce from here that she did not have to draw it – as the water rose by itself. When Eliezer saw that miracle, he ran after her.

The commentaries ask, if Rebecca was so righteous, and the water rose to her so that she shouldn’t have to draw it when she took it for herself, why wouldn’t the water rise also when she had to give the camels to drink?

The Kedushas Levi offers a beautiful thought, that provides us with an amazing lesson and attitude for life. When Rebecca was drawing water for herself, Hashem made a miracle that the water rose, so she would not have to have the pain of drawing the water. Later, however, when she was drawing the water for Eliezer’s camels, she was involved in an act of chesed, an act of kindness. Doing that was a mitzvah. The more a person exerts themselves in a mitzvah, the greater the power of the mitzvah is. Therefore, Hashem did not make a miracle for the water to rise by itself, so that Rebecca would have to work on drawing the water and get a greater mitzvah.

The lesson we are taught is to appreciate any efforts that we expend for a mitzvah.  Rather than trying to lessen our efforts for a mitzvah, we must value them and appreciate them. They provide us a chance to make our mitzvah more powerful, and an opportunity for growth with them.

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

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

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

Parshas Ki Tzaisai | The Kollel Connection

Parshas Ki Tzaisai | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

September 19, 2014 – Candle lighting 6:43, Shabbos Ends 7:50

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 this week in honor of  the Bensalem Kollel members for all their help in putting our dinner together this week.  

This week we read Parshas Nitzavim.  Parshas Nitzavim contains one of the most famous verses in the Torah: “For this mitzvah that I am commanding you today, is not far from you, nor is it distant. It is not in the heavens that you should say who will climb for us to heaven to take it for us, and teach it to us so we will do it. Nor is it over the ocean to say, who will cross over the ocean to take it for us, and teach it to us so we will do it. Rather it is very close to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart to do it.” (Deuteronomy 30:11-14).

What mitzvah is the Torah referring to when it tells us that it is so close to us to be able to do it? Nachmanidies explains that the mitzvah referred to here is the mitzvah of Teshuva / repentance. The Torah is telling us that Teshuva is very close to us, and there is no excuse not to repent. The commentaries all raise the same question: How can the Torah tell us that Teshuva is so simple and so close to us? We all know how hard it is for us to change our habits or ways of life? Is it easy for someone who smokes to stop smoking? How many people try over and over, again and again, to break the habit? How many people try to go on a diet yet fail? Why are the life changes that come along with Teshuva considered “easy” to do?

There is a beautiful approach offered, that we would like to share today. The Talmud tells us, that our evil inclination, our temptations and desire to sin, is very powerful. In fact, the Talmud tells us that it is so powerful that we really would not be able to overcome it, if not for the fact that Hashem gives us help. If Hashem helps us with it anyway, then why is it even  regarded  as a challenge? Why should we get reward for overcoming it?

The answer is, that Hashem doesn’t just give us a “free ride”. We don’t just get an automatic pass to go to Heaven. Hashem says, “You make the first step! You open a hole the size of a needle, and then I will finish the job! I will open gateways the size of the doors of the Temple!!” What the sages are teaching us, is that our job is just to begin the process. If we begin with true sincerity – and really try to come close to Hashem – then we will succeed!! He will make it happen!! If we don’t succeed, there is only one reason – we really are not trying!! If we try – we succeed!

This is the difference between changing other areas of life, and Teshuva. In any other area of life, even if we succeed at first and really try, we may not find the strength to continue to succeed. Teshuva  is different. Teshuva is really close to us; It really is as close as our heart and our mouth. We can do it! If we try – we are guaranteed to succeed – as long as we really try!

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 Vayakhel | The Kollel Connection

Parshas Vayakhel | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

February 21, 2013 – Candle lighting 5:24, Shabbos Ends 6:33

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

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

Welcome to the Kollel Connection.

The Kollel Connection is dedicated this week in memory of Bluma bas Shmuel Hacohen, Laurel Levson of blessed memory, mother of Steve Levson. May Hashem comfort Steve, Bruce, and Karen and their families, among all the mourners of Israel and Jerusalem!    

This week we read Parshas Vayakhel.  In the Parsha, the Torah describes to us the special people who had made donations for the Tabernacle. The Torah uses two descriptions for these generous people: One who is “Nediv lev – of a giving heart” (Exodus 35:5), and one who is “Nesao libo – his heart lifted, or motivated him” (Exodus 35:21). In his most beautiful work, Growth Through Torah, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin quotes our commentaries who explain that each one of those descriptions teaches us a most important lesson.

Nediv lev – of a giving heart teaches us an attitude when it comes to giving. Do we give with our heart or with our wallet? Rav Simcha Zissel of Kelm explains that we are being taught a most important lesson in our attitude to giving. It is not enough for a person to just be generous with his or her wallet. The Torah expects us to be generous in our heart. That is, we have to want to give to others, not just to give as we are forced to do so. When we do arouse ourselves to make a donation, we have to try to arouse feelings in ourselves of caring and feeling for the person we are helping, or the cause that we are contributing to.

Nesao libo – his heart lifted, or motivated him teaches us how we can become giving people. In truth, Nachmanidies points out, we have to understand how did any of the Jews construct the items in the Tabernacle? They were not trained in Egypt to be artisans, to work with gold, silver, or other items. In Egypt they had done menial, physical, back breaking labor. How did they get this talent? Nachmanidies explains that this talent was given to them by Hashem, given to those who rose to the occasion and said “I want to and will do it”. Once they made that commitment, Hashem made it happen. They found themselves able to actually do the work that they had no previous training or experience with.

This concept is a most important lesson for us. How often do we think of moving up a level in our commitment to Hashem, ready to start another mitzvah, or to do one that we already do a little better, but we hold back, uncertain if we are really ready to do so? This idea of grabbing the moment, of allowing our heart to lift us, to seize the moment we feel ready to move forward, and to just go for it, is the lesson taught to us by those who constructed the Tabernacle. May we all get that encouragement to move forward, to grab opportunities to improve and to grow in our service of 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.

KC 373 – Parshas Chayai Sarah | The Kollel Connection

KC 373 – Parshas Chayai Sarah | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

October 25, 2013 – Candle lighting 5:47, Shabbos Ends 6:55

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 Chayai Sarah. In Parshas Chayai Sarah  the Torah tells us the fascinating story of the quest by Abraham and his slave Eliezer to find a wife for Isaac. The Torah describes how Eliezer was sent to find a wife, and how he devised a plan to choose Isaac’s wife. Eliezer decided that he would give a test, to make sure that he would find a woman who excelled in being kind. He went to a well, along with all the camels and men who had accompanied him from Abraham’s house. They waited by this well, and Eliezer prayed to Hashem, asking for the right girl to come by. He said that he would wait for a girl to come by, and if when he asked her to give a drink to him, she would be so kind and offer to also give water to his camels; she would be the girl that is fit for Isaac, to become his wife.

When Rebecca came, the Torah tells us that Eliezer ran out to her. Why did he run to her? Rashi tells us that Eliezer saw the water of the well rise when she came, signifying that she was a very righteous person. Nachmanidies asks, where is this indicated in the Torah? In a most interesting observation, Nachmanidies points out that when Rebecca afterwards draws the water for the camels, the Torah says that “she drew for all the camels” (Genesis 24:20). In the previous verse that talks about Rebecca giving drink to Eliezer, the Torah does not mention anything about her drawing any water. This teaches us that in fact, at this time, Rebecca had no need to draw the water, for the water rose up to her.

Rav Levi Yitzchak of Bardichov asks, why would the water rise for her only when she went to the water the first time, and not when she drew the water for the camels? Rav Levi Yitzchak answers, that there is a most important difference between her drawing water for herself, and her drawing water for Eliezer’s camels. When she drew water for herself, Hashem wanted to make it easier for her, and made the water rise for her. When she was going to draw the water for the camels, however she wasn’t just doing something for herself. She was doing a mitzvah, showing kindness and helping others. We are taught that the more effort and energy that we expend in doing a mitzvah, the more reward we get. Therefore, Hashem did not have the water rise for her, so that she would expend more energy and get more reward for doing the mitzvah.

This beautiful idea will hopefully give us encouragement. Sometimes when we do a mitzvah, it’s not so easy to do it. We should realize that every ounce of energy that we expend in doing the mitzvah, will be rewarded for eternity by the Almighty. This will hopefully make it easier for us to put the proper effort into doing the mitzvahs.

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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