Saturday, February 16, 2008

O que vale a razão?

Andre Moshe Pereira
( Presidente Kehillah Or Ahayim )

A Sr. Mordechai Medina, a Y. Kerem, a Ernestina P. Veríssimo, a Y. Moran, a David Nissim, a Shlomo Elijah e Déborah Elijah.

O Talmude tem uma influência notável dentro do judaísmo.
Pode e deve ser estudado nas academias rabínicas, nas ieshivot assim como em universidades. A questão fundamental é como conferir vida à palavra escrita. O valor maior o Talmude é a sua transcendência universal. Se o Talmude estivesse ligado ao próprio meio acabaria por perder relevo.
Dentro do Judaísmo o Talmude tem um papel deflagrador apesar de um tanto discreto ou camuflado. O Talmude recebe influências múltiplas como gregas, persas, egípcias, babilónicas e romanas. Este intercâmbio acentuou-se com o tempo e houve mesmo permutas culturais.
Como poderiam os judeus viver no mundo sem obediência às leis civis locais? O Talmude permite isso. O casamento é um dos casos. Em Israel só existe casamento religioso, por isso talmúdico.
Os restaurantes e a gastronomia obedecem às determinações do Cashrut (normas dietéticas rituais) que por sua vez estão submetidas ao Talmude.
Nos meios de comunicação social os rabinos falam constantemente sobre parábolas, ditados e outros ensinamentos talmúdicos. Muitas lições são feitas na forma de esclarecimento judeu sobre a regularidade dos procedimentos estabelecidos pela lei se acordo portanto com a Halachah.
Ora para a interpretação ilustrada deste conjunto de preceitos exige-se um complexo modelo de integração universitária, religiosa, filosófica que por sua vez forma um gigantesco corpo interpretativo, teológico e uma jurisprudência fremente.
O talmude não é um livro mágico. A magia é uma solução de mãos vazias. As narrativas de factos maravilhosos não significam de forma alguma solução ou encantamento. A problemática mais que a solução é uma forma talmúdica. Lembremo-nos do relato que é feito pelo Professor Zeev Falk, da Universidade de Tel Aviv dos sábios Eliézer e Iehoshua onde se observa o uso alegórico na sua função racional.
Eliézer pediu que os muros da academia testemunhassem em seu favor. Iehoshua disse que os muros não deveriam interferir. Conta-se que os muros apenas se inclinaram, respeitando Eliézer; sem tombar, reverência a Iehoshua. As águas a seguir. As águas do ribeiro interromperam o seu fluxo quando Eliézer pediu o seu testemunho e logo Ieoshua bradou desconfiança em provas fantásticas.
Neste contexto, entre as provas racionais e fantásticas o que deveria prevalecer? Eliézer apelou a uma última instância a seu favor. Adonai. O rabino voltou-se para Adonai. Os Céus confirmaram o seu ponto de vista mas Ieoshua sentenciou com prova inabalável que conhecer e ensinar era algo delegado aos Filhos do primeiro homem e da primeira mulher. Ou seja, desde o Gan Éden. Segundo H. Sobel, CIP-SP o Rabino Joseph Soloveitchik decreta que “o homem haláchico não anseia por um mundo transcendente, por níveis celestiais de uma existência pura e primordial, pois não foi o mundo ideal – o mais profundo desejo do homem haláchico – criado somente com o propósito de ser realizado no nosso mundo real?” É assim que aprendemos que neste mundo tem sentido a Halachah. “ è aqui, neste mundo, que o homem haláchico adquire a vida eterna” E segundo o Rav Iaakov que cita o Pirkê Avoth o Capítulo dos Pais: vale mais uma hora de arrependimento e boas acções neste mundo que toda a vida do mundo porvir. Assim, no Talmude, vivem os homens. A Eternidade é assim o presente.
Daí que para os mais tradicionalistas o dever essencial é o estudo da Lei (Torah) tanto a escrita como as Lei Oral, o Talmude, transmitidas por Mosheh Rabeinu no Sinai. Ora como foi dito anteriormente o talmude está exposto a múltiplos tipos de leituras, tipos de investigação riqueza de temas, originalidade das perspectivas. Por exemplo E. Levinas (E.L.) sem deixar nunca de lado a sua observância judaica coloca o Talmude na mais elevada e depurada especulação filosófica e ética contemporâneas. Ieshaiahu Leibovitz desenvolve através de Levinas e na relação do Judaísmo deste ao pensamento ocidental uma relação sem desvanecimento ou substituição simbólica. O judaísmo aí entra como essência; não prevalece o ateísmo e a ocidentalidade de um Bernard Henri Lévy, ou Claude Levi-Staruss ou Ernest Cassirer, mas a notação funda de um israelita voltado para a filosofia. A expressão filosófica e fenomenológica do Talmud-Torah. Em Ética e Infinito (Ed. 70, Lisboa, Trad. Artur Morão) releva que “os textos dos grandes filósofos com o lugar que a interpretação tem na sua leitura, parecem-me mais próximos da Bíblia do que opostos a ela, ainda que a concretização dos temas bíblicos não se reflectisse imediatamente nas páginas filosóficas. Mas não tinha a impressão quando principiante da matéria, de que a filosofia era essencialmente ateia, e hoje também não penso assim. E se, em filosofia, o versículo não pode substituir a prova, o Deus do versículo, apesar de todas as metáforas antropomórficas do texto, pode permanecer a medida do Espírito para o filósofo”. Lembremos, por exemplo a Evolução Criadora de H. Bergson ou a noção de Espírito em WFHegel; pois mesmo o Talmude, segundo E.L. vive do seu não-dogmatismo, “ele vive de discussões e de colóquios. O teólogo recebe aqui uma significação moral de notável universalidade onde se conhece a razão” (Quatre Lectures Talmudiques, Éds. Du Minuit, Paris). A luz da razão que, por ora, celebramos neste texto, pelos talmidim, hic et nunc.








*Presidente e Fundador da Kehillah Or Ahayim, Comunidade judia Or Ahayim, Porto, Filipa de Lencastre, Docente Universitário/ Investigador Universitário; Presidente (A-G) CCLI. Membro da Direcção – Fundador do CEIsrael; Veja esp.
http://kehillah-or-ahayim.blogspot.com/

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Parshas Tezaveh

Rabino Yissocher Frand

These divrei Torah were adapted from the hashkafa portion of RabbiYissocher Frand's Commuter Chavrusah Tapes on the weekly portion: Tape# 583 -- The Bracha of Blossoming Trees. Good Shabbos!

The Mind Can Be Trained To Look At Blue And See The Divine Throne
The Talmud relates [Zevachim 88b] that the different priestly garments atone for different sins and the robe (me'il) specifically atones for lashon harah [gossip]. The Maharal explains the connection between lashon harah and the priestly garments in general and between lashon harah and the me'il specifically.
The Maharal makes two points. First, the priestly garments highlight the institution of the priesthood and priests reinforce for us the concept of the different roles that exist within the Jewish people. Judaism is a role-oriented religion. This is a politically incorrect statement in our egalitarian society. American ideology is that everyone is equal and everyone is the same -– equal rights, equal roles, equal opportunities. Anyone can become the president of the United States.
Klal Yisrael does not work like that. Not everyone can become the Kohen Gadol. One cannot even become a gatekeeper in the Beis HaMikdash if he is not a Levi. Klal Yisrael is a role-oriented religion. This applies to men and women as well. There is a distinct role for men within the Jewish religion and a distinct role for women. This too is a concept that is becoming less and less popular in western society.
A part of lashon harah, says the Maharal, stems from the fact that people do not want to accept the idea that there are differing roles for different people. A lot of lashon harah stems from our becoming intolerant of other people's roles. We cannot adjust to the fact that just because we do things a certain way or we may be different from our neighbors or feel differently than them, that their ways or feelings or roles may not also be perfectly valid as well.
One person may have a natural inclination to be a ba'al chessed (a very kind and caring person). He is a person with a good heart. He may meet someone and ask that person for a favor. If the second person will decline his request, the first person may think very negativel y of him. "What a mean person. If the tables were reversed, I would have certainly done the favor for him!" He may even be so incensed by the refusal that he will share this irritation with others and spread lashon harah about the person who turned him down.
It is true that we should all be kind, but inevitably different people have different emotions and standards when it comes to doing chessed for one another. There are people for whom chessed comes easily and there are people for whom chessed comes with great difficulty.
A person must come to the realization that there are all kinds of people in the world and not everyone must be exactly like himself in order to qualify as a person who should not be criticized.
Some people can sit down and study a whole day. Others, after sitting in one place for 20 minutes, need to take a break. Not everyone is cut out to sit and learn for 3 or 4 hours straight. One who has that ability should be praised, but one who does not have it should not be criticized.
Priestly garments reinforce to us the idea that Klal Yisrael is a role-oriented religion. We have to accept the idea that there are different roles and different personalities among individuals.
Specifically, the robe (me'il) was the garment that atoned for lashon harah. The Maharal explains that the me'il was the most striking of all the garments. It was made out of blue techeiles. When one would see the me'il, the idea that would be triggered in a person's mind is the thought pattern that is supposed to come to mind whenever one sees techeiles [Menachos 43b]: The blue techeiles reminds one of the sea. The sea reminds one of the sky. The sky reminds one of the Divine Throne (Kiseh haKavod). Thus seeing techeiles prompts one to think of the Almighty and do mitzvos.
This, says the Maharal, is the me'il's connection with lashon harah. So much of lashon harah has to do with what the mind automatically sees. The me 'il demonstrates the speed of the mind. A mind can be quicker than a computer. Lashon harah has everything to do with how a person thinks and where his mind is.
We can see someone and automatically see his pros. On the other hand, we can see someone and automatically see his cons. Lashon harah is perhaps less a sin of articulating evil than it is a sin of perceiving the evil in someone else. Just like a person can be trained that if he sees blue he can think "The Divine Throne," so too a person can be trained to see an individual and think "good heartedness" and focus on all of his positive character traits. Alternatively, like anything else in life, one can see just the negative.
Everyone has both good characteristics and bad. The question is, what is a person's mind is trained to see in his fellow man -– the good or the bad? Do we see the cup and call it half full or half empty? Lashon harah is about people who have trained themselves to see the negative.
The me'il teaches us to make positive connections when we perceive something visually. When we look at a person, we should try to see his Tzelem Elokim (G-dly Image). We should try to overlook the evil.
The Baal Shem Tov said on the pasuk [verse] "You shall love your neighbor like yourself" [Vayikra 19:18] that in considering a friend, one should consider how he views himself in the mirror. One generally is very forgiving of his own faults. He gives himself the benefit of the doubt and concludes that despite his shortcomings he is basically a good person. That, says the Baal Shem Tov, is how one should view his fellow man as well. "Yes, he has his faults. But basically he is a good person."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Monday, February 11, 2008

Parashá Tetzaveh


Rabino Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING! May your week be filled with blessings and great happiness!


Q & A: DOES JUDAISM BELIEVE IN AN AFTERLIFE?

Moshe Maimonides, the Rambam, set forth 13 Essential Beliefs of Judaism. The Tenth and Eleventh Principles state that God is aware of our actions and that He rewards and punishes us according to our actions. Since we do not see evil always being punished or goodness always being rewarded, it is logical - that if there is a good and just God - that there is a World of Souls, an afterlife which is the great equalizer. There, evil which has not been punished in this world is punished and good deeds which have not been rewarded are rewarded.

There are allusions to an afterlife in the Torah, though it is not explicitly stated or described (the Talmud, Sanhedrin, Chapter 10 called Chelek, does discuss the afterlife). When the patriarch Jacob died, the Torah relates, "... he died and was gathered to his people" (Genesis 49:33). The Torah then informs us of the 40 day embalming period and the 70 days Egypt mourned Jacob before Joseph received permission to bury his father in the Ma'arat HaMachpela, the burial cave in Hebron. What does the Torah then mean that "he was gathered to his people"? It is a reference that his soul was gathered to the afterlife.

Later in the book of Numbers we have the story of Bilaam, the evil non-Jewish prophet, who hires himself out to the King Balak to curse the Jews. Instead of cursing the Jews, his prophecy blesses the Jews. He proclaims, "Let me die the death of the righteous and let my end be like his (the righteous Jews)" (Numbers 23:10). Do the righteous die any better than the wicked? Bilaam was saying, "Let me live my life on my terms and according to my desires, but when it comes to the afterlife, let my soul be rewarded as the righteous are rewarded.

I think that these two allusions are valid, but not emotionally compelling. If the afterlife is such an essential part of Jewish belief, why does the Torah only reference it obliquely? The Torah could have described the next world in detail, yet it refrained from painting a picture. Why?

There are two reasons: (1) The Torah is a guidebook for THIS life. It sets forth instructions on how to live a meaningful, holy life and how to improve yourself and the world. The Almighty wants us to focus on our obligations in this life; the afterlife will take care of itself. (2) Even if the Torah described in detail an afterlife - how would one verify its existence? No one has ever returned from the next world to confirm or deny that vision.

Other religions paint a picture of the afterlife one will receive. The Talmud teaches, "He who wishes to lie says his witnesses are far away." For example, "I paid back the money I owed you, but my witnesses happen to be visiting Europe" - or "Have faith in our religion and you will get Heaven." There is no way of validating the claim.
While Judaism believes in an Afterlife, a World to Come, the Torah makes no promises that are "far away." The Torah tells you about rewards and punishments in THIS world - in response to your actions. You need go no further than this week's Torah portion which states:

"If you will follow My decrees and observe My commandments and perform them; then I will provide your rains in their time, and the land will give its produce and the tree of the field will give its fruit. Your threshing will last until the vintage, and the vintage will last until the sowing; you will eat your bread to satiety and you will dwell securely in your land. I will provide peace in the land, and you will lie down with none to frighten you ... I will make you fruitful and increase you..." (Lev. 26:3-9)

Why is reward and punishment so important for us? As Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg teaches: "A world without reward and punishment is a world of utter indifference, and indifference is the ultimate rejection. One cannot serve indifference. In order for there to be a relationship between God and man, God must react to man's actions. Our awareness of this reaction, reward or punishment, informs us that the Almighty cares, that our actions make a difference. Without reward and punishment life has no meaning - for what man would or would not do would make no difference." (Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg, Fundamentals and Faith).



Torah Portion of the Week
Tetzaveh

The Torah continues this week with the command to make for use in the Mishkan, the Portable Sanctuary - oil for the Menorah and clothes for the Cohanim, the Priests. It then gives instruction for the consecration of the Cohanim and the Outer Altar. The portion concludes with instructions for constructing the Incense Altar.
* * *
Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah


Por
Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
"You shall make the Choshen Mishpat ("the Breastplate of Judgment" - one of the eight garments of the High Priest, the Cohen Gadol)." (Exodus 28:15)
Each of the garments had a specific spiritual impact and purpose. What do we learn from the Choshen Mishpat?

Rashi, the essential commentary on the Torah, tells us that the Choshen Mishpat "substantiates its statements and its promises come true." When a question was asked to the High Priest, the letters of the breastplate would light up in a sequence spelling out the answer.

Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz commented that Rash's intention here is to allude to the following: One person makes a claim to another, "You have promised me such and such. Please keep your promise." The second person replies, 'Yes, I did say that, but my intention was different from what you thought." This indicates a lack of honesty on the part of the person who made the promise. When you make someone a promise, you should make it clear exactly what you are and are not promising. If you do not clarify and qualify when you make your promise, it is not truth.

It sounds more generous when you make a general promise to someone such as, "Don't worry. I'll help you whenever you need my help." You most likely did not mean that you would do anything and everything for this person. However, it sounded wonderful when you said it. Of course, you do want to assist him; however, your intention was to help in a limited manner.

This shows a lack of integrity. By making false promises to someone, you cause him to rely on you when he really shouldn't. Instead of helping the person you can cause him problems in the future. When you make a promise to someone, immediately clarify exactly what you are promising. It is only fair to the other person to do so. On your part, each time you make these clarifications you are becoming a more honest person. You are building up the habit of speaking truthfully.

Being specific in promises is especially important in raising children; it teaches them whether or not they can trust their parents!


CANDLE LIGHTING - February 15
Jerusalem 4:50
Guatemala 5:48 - Hong Kong 6:02 - Honolulu 6:11
J'Burg 6:33 – KOAH Porto 4:57 - Los Angeles 5:18
Melbourne 8:01 - Mexico City 6:18 - Miami 5:57
New York 5:12 - Singapore 7:03 - Toronto 5:29




QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
The wise man, even when he holds his tongue,
says more than the fool when he speaks.
-- Yiddish proverb




Dedicated in Honor of
Rebbitzen Deena Weinberg
and the EYAHT Faculty
-- Sholom and Leah Mark

Friday, February 08, 2008

REFLEXIÓN DIARIA

REFLEXIÓN DIARIA

Dios está en ti.
Dios está en mí.
Dios está en todos.
Imagina qué diferente sería si siempre tuviésemos eso en mente. Estaríamos menos inclinados a regañar al camarero por confundir nuestro pedido, o reprender a alguien que hirió nuestros sentimientos.
Podemos justificar nuestras acciones –por ejemplo, al señalar las faltas de otro– pero en esos momentos en que "perdemos los estribos" con alguien, somos nosotros los que perdemos.
Hoy, ve a Dios en todos.

Parshas Terumah - Try Try Again


Table Talk

Rabino Raymond Beyda



“And you shall make candelabra of pure gold; from a solid piece of gold it shall be made…” Shemot 25:31
In this week’s Torah portion Hashem instructs Moshe to construct a beautiful edifice as the Tabernacle to house the holy vessels that represented his connection to the people of Israel. Amongst the holy utensils was seven-stemmed candelabra called the Menorah. Moshe was instructed to take a solid piece of pure gold and to form the candelabra which contained stems, cups, flowers and ornaments. The commentators, however, see a grammatical problem with this particular command. The verse begins and “you” shall make. The verse continues, and “it shall be made”. Why, they ask, change from the active tense to the passive?
Each one of the holy vessels in the tabernacle represented a distinct aspect of Jewish life. The altar, for example represented prayer or service to God. The table, represented sustenance. The candelabra represented knowledge and Torah study. Many people acknowledge that their earnings are determined by Hashem in Heaven. Others feel, and rightly so, that Hashem expects them to be the ones to initiate prayer. All agree that one who does not study will not be able to acquire Torah knowledge. By the same token, they feel that if they do put in effort they will become wise. This, however, may not be totally true.
Rabbi Noah Weinberg was visiting the United States of America. He spent one Shabbat in a small New Jersey community. The people were friendly, and because of the small size of the congregation for Rabbi mingled freely with all the congregants. On Shabbat afternoon, when they sat to eat Seudah Shelisheet, the third Shabbat meal, a young man who was sitting next to the Rabbi began a conversation, which expressed his frustration with his ability to learn Torah. The young man described the many hours in the many techniques he had tried in order to grasp the difficult concepts of the Talmud study.
“How come I just can’t get it?” he asked. “No matter what I do, it seems my conclusions are wrong when I get a chance to review with my Rabbi. I am about to give up,” he said he reported.
“That is the worst solution, you could choose” the rabbi responded. “A person has to understand that the learning of Torah is not something that a human being can do without the help of Hashem. Hashem expects you to put in all the effort you can, and then he will produce the results.”
The young man listened and was encouraged. The respect he had for the sage gave him the strength to continue with his suggestion off try try again. Not long after he made a breakthrough. He reached a level where he was able to prepare a portion of the Talmud on his own. Today that young man is a practicing Rabbi in his community teaching others how to learn and how to be patient, if at first they do not succeed.
Our sages teach that creating the candelabra of one piece of gold was something that Moshe found very difficult and almost impossible to comprehend. Hashem’s response to his puzzlement was to tell him “You do yours and I will do the rest”.
When one sits to learn the concepts and ideas that are contained in the Torah, Hashem expects a person to put in its maximum effort. The concepts themselves, however, are impossible for the human being to understand on his own. Just as construction of the candelabra, which represented Torah study, was impossible for Moshe to comprehend yet Hashem said to him putting your efforts and I will complete it- so too is the learning of Torah. The verse cited above goes from active tense to passive tense to show that all you do, you must do to the fullest extent but don’t expect to complete the job on your own. Holy work gets done only through the help of Heaven. May it be the will of Hashem that we all have the strength to put in all of our efforts to grow in spirituality and in Torah knowledge and may He bless us with successful achievement of those goals - Amen.
Shabbat shalom

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Parshas Terumah

Rabino Eliyahu Hoffmannn


Saving Face
Parshas Terumah begins with Hashem telling the Jews to donate materials and construct a Mishkan/Tabernacle:
Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying, “Speak to the Children of Israel, let them take an offering – every man whose heart motivates him, they shall take My offering.” (25:1-2)
Why, mefarshim ask, does the Torah use the verb to take when clearly they are being asked to give?
One of the many wonders of the Mishkan (and later the Mikdash/Temple) was the cherubim, two child-like figures that were sculpted out of the cover of the aron in which the tablets of the Ten Commandments rested. Usually, Chazal, our Sages, say, the faces of the cherubim faced each other, in the way they were sculpted. However, when the Jews began to stray and serve idols (among other sins), the faces of the cherubim turned away from each other – a sign of Hashem’s dissatisfaction.
While miraculous, why is our standing in Hashem’s eyes represented by the positioning of the cherubim? Perhaps the paroches (curtain that shielded the Holy of Holies) could have gone rigid, or some other miraculous event? If the Torah-ordained ‘affection’ of the cherubim – that their faces were to be turned towards each other – is a metaphor for Hashem’s love and affection for Israel, then it stands to reason that the relationship is (to the extent we can express it) that of two counterparts in which both sides take an active role. It is not enough, R’ Aaron Kotler zt”l explains, for Hashem, in His great love, to turn His face towards us. We must in turn position ourselves to face Him, without which the love He exudes is lost. Sealing off the Holy of Holies with an iron curtain would imply that Hashem distanced Himself from us, when in fact we were the first to turn away.
The Mishkan, and later the Mikdash, inasmuch as they were Hashem’s ‘dwelling places’ upon earth, held untold opportunity to draw close to Hashem – to see and to be seen – as Chazal say. Yet that closeness was not to be had without some form of effort on our part. As Chazal say, “To the extent that he came to see – so he was seen.” The preparation and yearning with which one approached the holy place played a pivotal role in its effect on him. Preparation to “be seen” served both as a means to ready one’s body and soul for the experience of coming closer to Hashem, and as a conduit through which one would receive his ‘measure’ of kedushah/holiness – the greater the preparation, the stronger the experience. Returning to the metaphor of the cherubim, to the extent that one cherub turned to face the other, the other would turn towards him. Turning brings the other cherub into clearer view; it also causes it to turn towards him in like.
Although the Mishkan/Mikdash is presently in a state of ruin, our tefilos (prayers) still ascend on High only after passing through the Temple Mount (see Melachim/Kings 8). Thus, R’ Kotler says, although perhaps we can’t achieve the same closeness experienced by our ancestors when they ascended the Temple Mount, to the extent that we conduct ourselves in a manner of kedushah that allows us to draw close to Hashem through prayer and Torah study, we ‘reunite’ the cherubim and rebuild in some small way the Mikdash. Conversely, if we distance ourselves from Hashem through inappropriate behavior, we contribute to the Mikdash’s destruction. When Nebuchadnezzar arrived to destroy the Temple, they told him: You grind already-ground flour (Sanhedrin 96b).
If we contribute to the reconstruction of the Mikdash through Torah study, this is multiplied when we study the laws and sections of the Torah that deal with the Mishkan and Mikdash. As Chazal say, “One who studies the laws of the burnt offering – it is as if he has given a burnt offering, (Menachos 110a).”
Is it not exceptional, notes the Nesivos Shalom, that the Torah dedicates five parshios (portions) to the construction of the Mishkan – at times repeating itself almost verbatim – while other sections of the Torah are cryptically brief. The Mishkan/Mikdash, as Hashem’s dwelling place on earth, mirrored the Heavens. When we study the laws of its construction, and strive to understand its seemingly mundane (yet complicated) details – all the while reminding ourselves that the blueprint for Hashem’s earthly abode is anything but mundane – we to some extent draw upon ourselves the Mishkan’s kedushah.
Note this exceptional Midrash (Tanchuma, Tzav 14): The Holy One, Blessed is He, said to Israel, “Even though the Holy Temple will one day be destroyed, and the sacrifices will stop, do not forget to codify their laws. Read them, review them – if you study them, I will count it as if you are doing them. And if you want to know [that this is so], come and see this: When the Holy One, Blessed is He, revealed to Yechezkel (Ezekiel) the form of the Temple, He said, “Tell the House of Israel about the Temple – let them be ashamed of their sins, and let them measure its implements…”
Said Yechezkel to Hashem, “Master of the Universe, we are in exile, in the land of our enemies, and You tell me to go and make the form of the Temple known to the Jews… What shall they do [with this knowledge?] Let them be, until the exile is over and they return – then I will tell them!” Hashem said to Yechezkel, “Because My children are in exile – the construction of My House should stop? Reading about it in the Torah is as great as building it! Teach them to study about the Mikdash, and I will consider it as if they are involved in its construction.”
Perhaps the Torah’s unusual wording, Let them take for Me an offering – alludes to this. To the extent we can express it, the Mishkan is “for Me,” to enable Jews to accomplish the impossible – to in some way draw closer to the Infinite. It is a timeless task which never ceased, even as the Temple burned to the ground. And second, that the closeness and kedushah we achieve is an act in which we play an active roll – to take and not to be given – and in which the fruits we bear correspond to the effort we exude. Have a good Shabbos.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Trumah


Rabino Kalman Packouz



GOOD MORNING! One time while I lived in Jerusalem, I parked my car in front of Uri's Pizza to pick up two pies for my family. When I came out there was a man leaning against my car -- scowling face, crossed arms, crossed legs. He looks at me with hatred spewing from his eyes and says with an aggressive edge, "So, you're the one!" I asked, "The one what?" He venomously replied, "The one who blocked my car in!"

I looked and sure enough, his car had no room to maneuver out of its parking spot. I put down the pizzas and said to him, "I'm sorry. I didn't realize that I blocked you in. In the future I will make sure to be more careful. Please forgive me for your wasted time and for being the cause of your aggravation."

The man got up from the car and came towards me! ... and then he gave me a big bear hug! He said, "I was born here in Israel. This is my first apology. You can block me in anytime!" True story.

Everyday we run into people who are upset -- and once in a while, that upset person is even us. Every single one of us is righteous in his own mind. We see very clearly from our own point of view why we are right, why the other person is wrong and why the other person deserves our wrath. (Recently, a recipient of the Shabbat Shalom faxed me 23 copies of the fax. I wrote him a nice note asking if there is a problem and how can I help. He faxed me back 23 copies of my note...)

It is hard to be rational and even compassionate when one is emotional. What can one do? One technique is "Go to the balcony." Pretend you're watching a play -- from the balcony. You're not involved; you're just observing. You will be able to see your situation more objectively.

Ask yourself, "If I were the other person, how would I react?" Seeing it from the other point of view helps build rationality and calmness. Talk in a soft voice. A soft voice turns away wrath. Don't say anything which will enflame the person. Don't interrupt the person when he's talking (it shows a lack of respect and is very irritating). Focus on what you can agree with and apologize where you can.

Lastly, know that on some level all human beings are a bit crazy. Insanity is defined as doing the same thing and expecting a different result. People do not want to "lose it" -- to lose control and become angry. Yet, they do it repeatedly. The advantage of knowing that we are all a bit crazy is three-fold: 1) we can have more compassion for others 2) we can have more compassion for ourselves 3) knowing we're a bit crazy, maybe we can do something about it! (If you aren't aware that there is a problem, you can't and won't do anything about it.)

There is one other "technique" I learned in Israel, though I'm not sure it will help elsewhere. When I worked at the Aish World Center in the Old City of Jerusalem, the Jewish Quarter had a parking lot with one combined entrance/exit. This meant that regularly one car would want to enter and another would want to exit at the same time. One day I witnessed a verbal "tennis match" of two drivers arguing who should back up and give way to the other. Neither succeeded in convincing the other. (One bystander suggested that they "duke it out" in the best of American tradition with the loser backing up; they both agreed that the bystander was crazy and went back to yelling at each other.)

Finally, one disputant confidently and defiantly asked, "Yesh lecha te'udat normali?" (Do you have a Certificate of Sanity?) The other fellow was at a lost for words and didn't answer. He got back in his car, backed up and let the other guy enter the parking lot.

The next day I was visiting my wife's step- grandfather in Hadassah Hospital. A man asked me how to get to a certain ward. I told him, "I am sorry. I don't know." Immediately he started to verbally lash into me -- "How come you don't know? You should know! ... " I went to "the balcony" and said to myself, "This is really bizarre." Then I remembered yesterday at the parking lot! I interrupted him and asked in Hebrew, "Excuse me. Do you have a Certificate of Sanity?" He looked at me as if he was completely short circuited, shut his mouth and walked away.




Torah Portion of the Week
Trumah

This week's Torah reading is an architect's or interior designer's dream portion. It begins with the Almighty commanding Moses to tell the Jewish people to bring an offering of the materials necessary for the construction of the Mishkan, the portable sanctuary.
The Torah continues with the details for constructing the Ark, the Table, the Menorah, the Tabernacle (the central area of worship containing the Ark, the Menorah, the Incense Altar, and the Table), the Beams composing the walls of the Tabernacle, the Cloth partition (separating the Holy of Holies where the Ark rested from the remaining Sanctuary part of the Tabernacle), the Altar and the Enclosure for the Tabernacle (surrounding curtains forming a rectangle within which was a large area approximately 15x larger than the Tabernacle).

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Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah
Por
Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states regarding the walls of the Tabernacle:
"The center crossbar shall go through the middle of the beams, from one end (of the Tabernacle) to the other." (Exodus 26:28)

What lesson for life can we learn from the crossbeam?

Targum Yonoson, an Aramaic translation and commentary of the Torah, informs us that the center crossbar was made with wood that came from the trees that Avraham planted. Rabbi Mordechai Mann of Bnai Brak commented that these trees were planted by Avraham for the purpose of doing kindness for travelers -- to provide them with shade.
The center crossbar was placed right in the middle of the tabernacle to remind us that even when we are devoting ourselves to serving the Almighty, we should never forget to have compassion for our fellow men, who are created in the image of the Almighty.
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ANNUAL SUPERBOWL JOKE

During the game, a man turns to the lady on his left and says, "You and I are sitting next to the only empty seat in the whole stadium and these seats are being scalped at a minimum of $4,000 a pop!" The lady replies, "Yes, it was my late husband's seat." The man offers condolences and says, "But I would have thought that a friend or a relative would have wanted to make use of it." "Yes," says the lady, "I would have thought so, too ... but they all insisted on going to the funeral."



CANDLE LIGHTING - February 8
(or go to http://www.aish.com/shabbat/candlelighting.asp)
Jerusalem 4:45
Guatemala 5:46 - Hong Kong 5:58 - Honolulu 6:07
J'Burg 6:38 – KOAH Porto 4:44 - Los Angeles 5:12
Melbourne 8:09 - Mexico City 6:14 - Miami 5:52
New York 5:04 - Singapore 7:03 - Toronto 5:20



QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
We are all crazy... it is only a matter of degree and direction.