Posts Tagged 'revelation at Sinai'

Parshas Balak | The Kollel Connection

Parshas Balak | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

June 26, 2015 – Candle lighting 8:14 pm, Shabbos Ends 9:22 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 Joseph Levine, Yosef ben Laib Levine, late father of Adam and Alina Levine. Joe passed away this week, leaving behind an amazing legacy of doing and accomplishing many things for the Philadelphia Jewish community. May Hashem comfort Adam, his brothers Brian and Jonathon, and his sister Lindsey, amongst the other mourners of Israel and Jerusalem. May he be a good advocate above for Adam, Alina, Akiva, Aryeh, and all of his children and grandchildren.

This week we read Parshas Balak. In the Parsha we read of the episode of the  wicked prophet Bilaam, who had an amazing power and was able to curse those who he choose to, and inflict damage and even death to them. Bilaam tried to curse the Jewish people towards the end of their 40 year travel through the desert. When he came to do that, Hashem made a miracle, and instead of giving them curses, he actually ending up blessing them.

The Sages tell us that a person who has the following three characteristics is from the disciples of Abraham – a good eye (looking at people favorably), a humble spirit, and contentment with what they have. Whoever has three other characteristics is from the disciples of Bilaam the Rasha (the evil one) –  an evil eye, a egoistical spirit, and a desire for much more. (Ethics of the fathers, 5:23).

The words of our Sages are puzzling. Bilaam represents terrible immorality, hatred, attempting to annihilate the entire Jewish people, and even heresy in his relationship with Hashem. Yet, the Sages talk about flaws in his character. Isn’t this strange? Isn’t the point simple – the students of Abraham believe in Hashem, and serve Him, and the students of Bilaam are heretics and rebel against Him?

Rav Shlomo Heiman, the late head of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath in Brooklyn, explains a beautiful lesson from this. The Sages are trying to explain not only who these respective groups of people were, but what made these people into who they were. How could the students of Abraham, who lived in a world so full of idolatry, follow their teacher Abraham and cling to belief in Hashem? The answer, the Sages teach us, lies in the fact that they had good character traits. When a person has pure and good character, he will discover and live with the truth.

The same question applies in reverse. How could the students of Bilaam the rasha, who lived in a time when miracles were so open, the Exodus from Egypt and the ten plagues occurred, the parting and crossing of the sea, the revelation at Sinai, …. – how could they live lives so dedicated to immorality and wickedness? The answer, the Sages teach us all boils down to bad character traits.

The powerful lesson that we walk away with is the importance of character. The more we can perfect our character, the more we can address any flaws in it and perfect them, the closer we will become to Hashem , and the more loyal servants of Him we will become.

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 Naso/Shavuos | The Kollel Connection

Parshas Naso/Shavuos | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

May 30, 2013 – Candle lighting 8:03, Shabbos Ends 9:11

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 Naso.  It is also the second of the special five days leading up to Shavuos, the day we received the Torah from Hashem. These five days are forever afforded a special status, since the time of the revelation at Sinai. The story of the revelation begins with the arrival of the Jewish people to Sinai on Rosh Chodesh Sivan, the first day of the month of Sivan. This year that comes out on Friday. From that point on, until the day of  Shavuos, were five days that the Jews prepared for the most important event that would change the world forever – the Revelation at Sinai. On the second day of Sivan, (which this year is this Shabbos), Hashem told Moses to give the Jewish people a message: “And now if you will listen to My voice and keep My covenant, you will be to Me a treasure from all the nations,…. And you will be to Me a kingdom of officers and a holy people,….” (Exodus 19:5-6).

If we would pick an introductory line to tell the Jewish people before giving them the Torah, what would it be? Would we offer a sales pitch trying to show the beauty of Torah? Would we offer a strong warning how important it is to observe the Torah – to describe the severity of judgment and the punishment that awaits a person for every single time they have sinned? Perhaps we would describe how great the eternal reward is for every single one of the mitzvohs that we do?

Hashem chose none of the above. Rather, he chose to talk about how important we are. Why were these the lines that Hashem told Moses to tell the Jewish people before they get the Torah?

If we think about it, what is the greatest factor that prevents us from using all our potential to serve Hashem? Could you imagine the force and power that we would pray with if we could sense that He is ignoring everything else that is going on in the world, and just listening to us talk to Him? Could you imagine a person saying “I’m too tired to go to Synagogue” if he felt that the Almighty is waiting for him?

In truth, one could easily see that the source of most of our shortcomings in serving Hashem, is a lack of appreciation for how special our mitzvahs are. If we fully understood and felt how special we are to Hashem, and how beloved the things we do are to Him, then our entire approach to doing the commandments would be different.

Just for a quick illustration:   Can you imagine the excitement of someone who is asked to prepare something for the President and to eat it at a private meal with him? Will he or she mind making the food? Will it bother them to get up early that morning? Will they feel resentment at having to do this, or feel happy at this special moment?

This is our introduction to Sinai: Realize that you are my treasure. Value that relationship; act as a holy people act, as the most cherished people on earth. With an introduction like that, we are sure to find it much easier to joyfully accept on ourselves the responsibilities and obligations that we were taught at Sinai.

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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