13 July 2018

Where Have You Gone, Aaron haKohen?

1 Menahem Av 5778
Likhvod Yom Neshmat Aharon haKohen
לכבוד יום נשמת אהרון הכהן

by R' Ephraim Sprecher
very light editing by CDG

Pic from Amazon - it was for sale and most likely sold. Sorry, philatelists!

To paraphrase Simon and Garfunkel’s great song, “Where have you gone, Aaron haKohen, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you!”

Why is Aaron haKohen's Yahrzeit the only one mentioned in the Torah? None of the Avot or the Imahot were accorded such an honor and not even Moshe Rabbenu. Only the date of the death of Aaron is mentioned. Why?

Aaron's Yahrtzeit is the first day of the month of Av, and the Jewish calendar is structured so that Parshat Masei which records Aaron's death is read before Tisha B'Av. Why?

The Mishnah in Avot states that "Aaron loved peace and pursued peace." With his passing, disputes and divisiveness increased. The Talmud in Yoma 9 attributes the destruction of the Second Temple to "baseless hatred," Sinat Chinam, and divisiveness among Jews.

The destruction of both Temples was on Tisha B'Av.

The Yahrzeit of Aaron alone emphasizes the critical importance of his character traits, which are "loving peace, pursuing peace" and avoiding Machlokot. Thus, his Yahrzeit is in Parshat Masei, which is read before Tisha B'Av, to teach us that Aaron's exemplary behavior is the TIKUN (repair) of SINAT CHINAM, which caused the tragedies of Tisha B'Av.

Why did G-d choose Aaron to be the Kohen Godel and to wear the Golden Vestments?

The Torah states, "And Aaron shall bear the judgment of the Children of Israel on his heart constantly before G-D" (Shemot 28:30). This verse is a reference to the CHOSHEN-BREAST PLATE, which Aaron wore over his heart. This breast plate was folded in half to form a pocket into which was placed a parchment containing G-D's Ineffable Name. This was called the Urim VeTumim, which caused the letters of the names of the Tribes of Israel which were inscribed on the CHOSHEN to light up with answers to questions of national importance.

The merit of wearing the CHOSHEN was given to Aaron because of his special character. When he went to greet Moshe, after Moshe had been selected by G-D to lead the Jews out of Egypt, he came with a smile and a glad heart. As the Torah states, "And when he (Aaron) sees you (Moshe) he will rejoice in his heart" (Shemot 4).

This remarkable love for a younger brother, who will replace him as leader, was rewarded with the CHOSHEN that Aaron wore over his heart that rejoiced for his younger brother.

Was it so difficult to rejoice for a younger brother's good fortune? Does Aaron deserve such an amazing tribute just for being happy for his kid brother?

HaRav Nebentzahl, maintains there are various levels of selflessness. It is one thing to defer to one's brother. It is a totally different level, when a person has been the leader of Israel throughout the years of persecution, pain and sorrow as Aaron was, and to have his younger brother take over, and be happy about it!

This character trait is exceptional and amazing. Aaron had pure selfless joy for Moshe's good fortune, even though he was now demoted from his position of leadership of Israel.

Only a person who possesses such a loving heart of gold, had the merit to wear the golden CHOSHEN over his heart!

 In the merit of this article, may HQB"H give us the wisdom and courage to follow His will to the letter and spirit so that the peace Aharon haKohen pursued may come upon the world at last, and that these three weeks each year would be weeks of joy for Israel and the whole world.

Mashiah Go'el Yisrael, NOW!

06 July 2018

Why the FAST will Become a FEAST...

23 Tammuz 5778

...by Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher

First published here and here.

Zechariah 8:19 states, “Thus speaks Hashem of Hosts, the fast of the fourth month [Shiv’ah Asar B’Tammuz] and the fast of the fifth month [Tish’ah B’Av] and the fast of the seventh month [Tzom Gedaliah] and the fast of the tenth month [Asarah B’ Teves] will one day turn into days of joy and celebration for the House of Yehudah, provided that the people will learn to love truth and peace.” The theme that sorrow will one day not only give way to joy but actually turn into joy is a basic principle of Judaism.

An example of this idea appears in Yirmiyahu 31:12. “Then [in the Messianic Era] the young women will dance joyously; young men and elders together. I [G-d] will turn their mourning to joy. I [G-d] will comfort them and cheer them in their grief and sorrow.”

This verse echoes clearly the statement that we saw expressed by Zechariah. Yirmiyahu is not predicting some new, joyous celebration with no roots in the past. Rather, G-d will turn the mourning of centuries of exile into joy and celebration.

These joyous prophesies of Zechariah and Yirmiahu will be fulfilled in the Messianic Era.

Why is it that in the time of Mashiach these former mournful fast days, commemorating the CHURBAN, will become joyous festivals and not just ordinary days? Why will these FAST DAYS become FEAST DAYS when Mashiach comes?

The answer is that these sorrowful tragic days will assume their original intent.

The 17th of Tammuz was the date of the giving of the Tablets of the Ten Commandments that was supposed to be a day of great joy and celebration, when G-d gave us His Luchot written by the Finger of G-d”. However, that is also the very day that we worshipped the Golden Calf and Moshe smashed G-d’s Holy Tablets.

Moshe has to re-ascend Mt. Saini and plead for G-d’s forgiveness for the Jewish People. The Second Tablets were not given until Yom Kippur. When we do Teshuvah and Merit the arrival of Mashiach, we will have fully rectified and repaired the Sin of the Golden Calf. Thus, in the Messianic Era, the 17th of Tammuz will assume its original character, a day of joyous feasting celebrating the giving of the First Holy Tablets.

Tisha B’Av also was supposed to be the day that we resolved to enter the Land of Israel and conquer it. The Sin of the Spies, in slandering the Holy Land, took place on Tisha B’Av. The spies negative report prevented the Jewish people from entering the Land of Israel on Tisha B’Av.

When Mashiach comes, we will have rectified this Sin of the Spies also.

Thus Tisha B’Av will also assume its original intention of joyous national celebration of appreciating and cherishing the Holy Land of Israel!

27 June 2018

3, 2, 1...Thirtysix.org Charidy Campaign is Live!

15 Tammuz 5778

Sorry I'm somewhat late, but there's still time to participate. I am privileged to receive emails in advance of events like this from the Rav. This campaign began yesterday, the 26th of June, and ends Erev Shabbat the 29th.

From R' Pinchas Winston...

"I started writing books back in 1985. It was just my way of sharing information that I believed everyone had to know in order to live a more fulfilling life. The introduction of the Internet made that even easier, and by 1993 I was writing an essay on the weekly Torah portion, sending it to people around the world via Project Genesis, now Torah.org.

"The more I learned, the more I felt a need to share what I was learning, especially when it came to ideas that I knew many might never see, but should. This became an imperative for me when a lot of that knowledge had something to say about our particular period of time, Jewish history in general, and redemption specifically.

"By 2004, I had started by own non-profit organization, Thirtysix.org. Kabbalistically, the number alludes to the “Hidden Light of Creation,” the basis of all Torah knowledge. It was chosen with the hope of Thirtysix.org being a vehicle to share the depth, beauty, and wisdom of Torah learning with every person I am able to reach, which over the years has amounted to tens of thousands. There have been essays, books, videos, podcasts, etc., and judging by the feedback, they have positively impacted the lives of many.

Now I’d like to intensify and expand that impact. This is why Charidy.com has agreed to help me run this 72-hour, $72,000 campaign. Your support makes you a partner in my work, and together we can have an amazing impact on the future of the Jewish people."

 Click here to contribute! Thanks to their generous matchers, our donations are worth TWICE AS MUCH!

...and may R' Winston reach the goal and more, be"H! Here's to Geulah b'Rachamim!

22 June 2018

On the value of the cow...and R' Sprecher's shiur on Parashath Hukat

9 Tammuz 5778

in honor of my wedding anniversary (Hebrew) and my sister's birthday (secular), which were both yesterday...

There are many reasons why one of the Jewish People's greatest sins (but by no means the greatest) is called Het haEgel חטא העגל, Sin of the Golden Calf. The Red Heifer, Parah Adumah פרה אדומה, is said to be the repair of this sin, as in, the mother cow comes in and cleans up her baby calf's mess. (The Temple Institute is still working on getting our 10th Parah Adumah.) Other than that, we don't fully understand the commandment of the Red Heifer.

Here's more on that: "A Strange Commandment" (may this be for the merit of its author, who passed away shortly after giving birth to her 10th child...); also from My Jewish Learning and Eretz Hemdah.

The cow is perhaps the most valuable creature on the face of this earth! Why do you think that, in English, we have an expression for anything that is a consistent source of a large amount of money compared to what was invested: cash cow?

Bulls are good for two things: being the other half of producing more cattle, and their meat and hides (and maybe other products) when slaughtered. So I wonder why the male calf gives the sin its name, rather than the female (the feminine of "calf" in Hebrew is eglah עגלה). After all, the Wikipedia link above confirms that the term cash cow refers to the dairy cow, the female of the species that remains alive to continually provide for our (as well as her baby's) welfare. Feed her, give her space and a herd to enjoy it with, protection in the winter, and let her get pregnant every year, and you get a lot back for it. (The factory farms and those who use a lot of artificial insemination and feeding their cows foods they are ordinarily unaccustomed to are not the model to think of. They invest a lot, so their return-on-investment isn't as great - also considering that many people think their methods are abusive to the animals. I am thinking here of the homestead — the family farm and animals associated with it - which I'd like to see more of in Israel.)

Cattle in general are so valuable in so many ways for so many things in this world that it makes sense that the story of one of our biggest sins has to do with them. However, they are creations just as we are, and so is money and everything material; we have no reason to try to appeal to them to bring us only what their, and our, Creator, can and will, if we ask Him, and do what He asks of us.

 A tiny sampling about cows, farms and homesteading:

Keeping a Family Cow (cow section) | Domestic Felicity | Dairy Moos | Facts About Cows (Google search) | Howell, NJ Parah Adumah (Red Cow): P'sulah!

R' Sprecher: Parashath Huqat

18 June 2018

On the Rights of the Jews of Israel - and an inner look at Parashath Qorah by R' Sprecher (VIDEO)

5 Tammuz 5778

Soldier removes flag from a fellow soldier's condemned home. Hebrew sign: "I'm on reserve duty and they're destroying my home!" (My rough translation - CDG) (source)

Last week, on Tuesday the 12th of June, the last day of Sivan on the Jewish calendar (also known as Rosh Hodesh Alef Tammuz), witnessed the destruction of 15 homes owned by Jews in a small town called Netiv haAvot, by Israeli soldiers. I'd thought this was over now that we have the Regulation Law (but some think this is the last one before the law takes effect - if so, it had better be THE LAST.). It seems that even with the best of intentions, no law that was meant for the welfare of the Jewish People in the Jewish Homeland will stand against the forces of evil. The Arab who was supposedly the owner of the land still has not given his proof, and yet the homes on it will be destroyed anyway. See more about him, below.

What kind of craziness is this? David Bedein calls this, along with the destruction of Amona, Migron and Gush Katif, the process of YESHACIDE. I agree, but more likely it will be called NATIONAL SUICIDE in the end. Because our own Supreme Court (Baga"tz), which promotes this sort of thing, doesn't seem to realize that it is in the process of destroying itself and the country by acting in this manner in the periphery. Great timing, guys. Way to go...this is, in a way, worse than Ariel Sharon's timing of the expulsion of Gush Katif. Right on Rosh Hodesh.

What, are we supposed to somehow go along with them even though they have reversed course many times in our short history as a modern nation? Even the worst kings of Israel in Bible days weren't as bad as these people are now. Some of them, like Omri, actually accrued merit for ADDING a city to Israel*. That's right: This evil king and his army, with the blessing of HQB"H (G-d Himself!), conquered a place and made it part of our blessed land (and if I understand correctly, that city was SAMARIA/Shomron/שומרון). Nowadays, agenda-makers here have been competing to SUBTRACT land, and the cities and towns that would be built upon it, for decades. Since 1967, at the very least. Shame on them!

I would not like to go back to Omri's day and age, thank you. We need to move FORWARD, towards REDEMPTION.

Several observations:

1. Instead of allowing things that should not be in "G-d's country" (gay pride parades and Xians who feel that they are to take over our fair state for their mangod (or godman, or whatever way they want to call him this week) for whom we are just a placeholder), the Jews of Israel, including in the Tel Aviv bubble, ought to be paying attention to what is going on here. After all, the Israeli government promised us a law that would prevent Gush Katif from happening all over again. And it's happening again, in stages! WHY?

2. The world is watching and drooling over our imminent destruction. Death to the Jews, they cry. IT MUST STOP FOR YOUR OWN GOOD. Our destruction now is YOUR destruction shortly thereafter. Better to count on Jeremiah 31 (עברית | English) of the Jewish prophets, the very end of the chapter. Basically, it says that when the last Jew dies or is killed, the end of the entire universe is imminent - and there is not long to wait!

3. My husband told me that people were protesting - tire burning at the Metzarim Bridge, at the entrance to Yerushalayim, and holding up traffic as others have done before and gotten attention. On Wednesday he told me it was about the gerush from Netiv haAvot. It only hurts innocent people, innocent Jews. There must be a better, more effective way to present grievances to the public, and to get our government to stop these g'rushim. Do you know that Magen David Adom is right up the street from where you were? If someone were in need of an ambulance, they would have DIED because you were blocking the way. Getting kicked out of your house is surely bad enough; but being a contributor to someone's death because you were in help's way is FAR WORSE.

I smelled something burning strongly from my apartment that afternoon. Here's the article.

I know that protesting and demonstrating has been the Israeli way (borrowed from the Communists and mocked in Orwell's 1984 download free audio | online PDF) since the beginning, before the state was official. And tire burning gets the world's attention; just look at the Gaza terrorists who burn our fields and deprive us of food in the process, while we send them truckloads of goods, including...food! But we must find a better way to resolve these problems.

Here's one to work on: the ISRAELI LEFT pressured an Arab to claim ownership of the land in question this time. They would not let the Arab take compensation instead of expulsion. Attributed by Mordechai Sones for Moriah Kor of Arutz-7, here's how he responded:

Kor said the Arab responded he would have preferred and would have been happy to receive financial compensation, but since leftist movements under the direction of attorney Michael Sfard had already begun the legal work "it was uncomfortable for him" to give up the expulsion process and make do with compensation.

I see no sense in going further until we can make Israeli encouragement of others' taking over the Land of Israel TOTALLY unacceptable, in any way, on the part of any group of Jews, whether inside or outside the Land: Legally, socially, scripturally and morally are three ways; nay, four, that I can think of. After all, the Jewish rights to the Land of Israel supersede the handing over by any one individual (or any number of individuals or governments) of parts of the Land that was graciously given to us by our Creator. Even one entire generation of this nation cannot speak for all the past and future ones.

Maybe if Israel applies ISRAELI LAW to the disputed territories, thereby asserting sovereignty, we might be able to correct this?

As Avi Abelow of Israel Unwired wrote: "...it is sad to see Jewish homes destroyed in our Jewish homeland. There will always be those who won’t just protest in silence but ensure that the public sees that the destruction of any Jewish home in our homeland is wrong."

With the help of HaQadosh Barukh Hu ! בעזרת הקב"ה

*This Wikipedia article states, likely falsely, that Omri's name is either Amorite or Arabic. Actually, the root עמר that forms his name is Omer, as in Sefirath haOmer - the measurement of barley we bring after Pesah.


R' Sprecher presents an inner spiritual look at Moshe and Qorah's controversy. Here's a question for you, my gentle reader: Regarding the pro-Arab Israelis who incited the destruction, and the judges of the Supreme Court, who decided the fate of the 15 built stone homes - not caravans - of 20 families - in Netiv haAvot (R' Richter, in the video immediately linked to, was there and gives his account of events) and other Jewish communities in Yehuda and Shomron: Are they more like Moshe (reincarnation of Hevel/Abel), or more like Qorah (reincarnation of Kayin/Cain)? Watch and decide for yourself.

13 June 2018

Boy, am I dense sometimes...

Alef Rosh Hodesh Tammuz

...I saw all those other bloggers dashing for their comments awaiting moderation, and didn't think I had any, until I looked a few minutes ago. Please forgive me! 😳 I just uploaded a number of comments that had been pending for a while.

Thank you for hanging in there with me, and all of us.

-Hava haAharona

10 June 2018

TEAM ISRAEL vs. The Giants! plus Parashath Sh'lach Lecha video by Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher

27 Sivan 5778

First published in Torah Tidbits and Rabbi Sprecher's website. We're not talking about the New York Giants here... 😉

Are we able to defeat the Giants? The Torah tells us that the inhabitants of Eretz Yisrael were y’lide ho’anaq, remnants of a race of Giants. When the Meraglim returned with their report, they announced: “The people that dwell in the land are fierce, and the cities are fortified and very great, moreover, we saw the children of Giants there.” (Bamidbar 13:28)

And again, (Bamidbar 13: 32,33) reference is made to the ANSHE MIDDOTH, the men of great stature, and the N’FILLIM, the primeval Giants.

The Torah wants to impress upon us the fact that not Bigness was to conquer and hold the Holy Land – but Greatness. The Spies used the wrong measuring rod of Bigness, and that was their tragic and fatal error. However, G-d desires Greatness NOT Bigness.

This view of Bigness vs. Greatness is expressed in many places in Tanach. Yitzchak referred to Eisav as BNO HAGADOL (his big son) (Bereshit 27:2). And the Talmud comment, G-d said to Yitzchak, “By your standards Eisav may be Big; but by My standards Eisav is a dwarf among dwarfs.” (Bereshit Rabba 65:11)

In the 16th Chapter of Shmuel Aleph we are given a beautiful description of the Biblical concept of Greatness, as opposed to the popular concept of Bigness. The prophet Shmuel is sent to Bethlehem to select a successor to Shaul Hamelech in the kingship. One by one, Shmuel looks upon the sons of Yishai and thinks that this one or that one is the anointed of G-d, but G-d says to him: “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature… for it is not as a person sees; for person looks on the outward superficial appearance, but G-d looks into the heart of a human being.” (Shmuel Aleph 16:7).

And so it is Little David, though short in stature, who is selected, not by the standard of Bigness, but by the measuring rod of Greatness.

Bigness is measured from the chin down, but Greatness is measured from the chin up. A person may be the biggest and tallest player in the NBA and still be a mental midget.

The Greatness of a People is no more determined by their number than the Greatness of a person is determined by his height. This is certainly true in the case of Israel. As the Torah says: “For you are a Holy People to your G-d,… G-d did not choose and desire you because you were more in number than any people, for you are the fewest of all nations…” (Devarim 7:6,7).

We were selected because of Greatness, because of being an AM KADOSH (a Holy People) and not for our size and numbers. When we are counted it is from the chin up that we are counted – KI TISA ET ROSH – “when you raise up the head…” (Shemot 30:11). The Torah also says NASO ET ROSH, “When you lift up the head…” (Bamidbar 4:22).

Judaism is a religion which does not stress Bigness. For Bigness, a key word in our society today, is very often bought at the expense and pain of others. However, true Greatness is attained by developing the best talents within ourselves.

That is why the AM KADOSH (the Holy People) never had to fear the B’NEI ANAQ – the Giants. For ultimately our spiritual Greatness will triumph over the Giants mere Bigness.

Thus, the end of the Parsha of the Spies deals with the Mitzvah of Tzitzit. Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik ZT”L explains that the blue Techelet of Tzitzit is a symbol that all events in life are as profound and mysterious as the deep blue sky. The Talmud in Menachot states that the blue Techelet of Tzitzit reminds us to look up at the blue heavens and admire the incredible, vast expanse of endless space, leading to its Source, the EIN SOF – G-d.

As Tehillim 19:2 states, “The Heavens tell the glory of G-d’s Greatness”. By admiring and appreciating G-d’s Greatness and Goodness, we can achieve and attain our own greatness and goodness as well.