Posts Tagged 'Sinai'

“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.

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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.

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.


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