THE JERUSALEM JEWISH VOICE
THE WEEKLY TORAH READING -- A FIRST GLANCE
THE MENORA shines into Jewish hearts; today it symbolizes our nascent messianic State of Israel, a nation "hammered out" of the pure gold behind a long, often tragic, Jewish history, to become a light to the nations. Its shape suggests the tree of life, the Torah, awaiting Man's return to Eden. In replanting Israel, the Jewish people replants man's link to eternity. The Torah is called light, its commandments candles (Prov. 6:23). The Menora's 7 branches represent the perfection and completion of Shabbat, inaugurated by candles, its light a foretaste of recaptured eternity (Rav Shlomo Riskin).
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Freema Gottlieb has created A Jewish Book of Light, The Lamp of God, which ends with The Light of the Menora-- we will review it, God Willing and space permitting, in a future issue.
A. THE BACKGROUND, AND AN OVERVIEW, OF T'TZAVEH
The most indispensable virtue in a high priest is piety (Philo, Moses, 3.1.)
This week's reading interrupts the ALMOST completed building plans of the tabernacle to focus on those who run it, Aharon & Sons. Their special tasks, within God's Jewish Kingdom of Priests, are to light the menora and burn the incense-- to teach and inspire; to be a model for human potential and perfection, via their symbolic clothing, temple service and inner holiness, , and to bring about a redeemed world, where all will once again be "very good". Moshe had to do 3 things personally-- order the Jews to bring pure oil for the menora and inspect it, induct and sanctify the priests, and charge the workmen who tailored the priests' garments (27:20, 28:1,3-- Sporno).
RAV M. MILLER (Sabbath Shiurim) notes the paradoxical function of the priest's garments-- they convey his prominence, majesty, and grandeur to the public; but they also remind him of his insignificance and inadequacy in the face of the Infinite One, Whose service he performs (and of the holiness of his calling and his responsibility toward Israel-- Rav Yehuda Henkin). So all our talents and assets must be magnificently developed, while humbly recognizing them as God's conditional gifts. Likewise, the observant Jew, priest to the world, must set himself somewhat apart from the mainstream to achieve sanctity; yet this must not lead to aloofness, pride and smugness, but rather to humility, induced by true awareness of Divinity-- cf. the debate over Jewish participation in the 1994 International Jewish/Christian Conference on Modern Social and Scientific Challenges-- Religious Leadership in Secular Society, organized by Rav Dovid Rosen. Israel's orthodox religious establishment panned and banned it; national and municipal chief rabbis didn't attend. Did they miss a historic opportunity to unite those who believe in God and Family in an increasingly pagan world? Are the great diaspora rabbis who participated more sensitive than they to the message of the Aleynu prayer-- to bring all nations closer to Israel, God and Torah, that God and His Name be One, ruling and guiding all mankind from Zion?
Rav Mordecai Gafni, Jerusalem's most popular Torah teacher in English, compares The House of The Tabernacle to The Garden of Eden-- God replaces Man's fig leaves, his/her unsuccessful attempt to cover his/her existential nakedness, his/her feeling of alienation from him/herself and from God, with true Divine garments of leather, of "light" per Rav Meir, which give him dignity and direction in his return to God and him/herself; so the priestly garb guides both the priests and the people in their periodic return to Eden via the Tabernacle. Rav Gafni teaches at 8:30PM in English on Sunday, in Hebrew on Monday, at ICCY, 12 Emek Refaim.
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B. A SYNOPSIS OF T'TZAVEH
The 6 branches of the menora were bent toward the stem, teaching us that the mean is most honored (Nathan, Sifre, #59, to Num. 8:2).
"AND YOU, YOU SPECIALLY COMMAND THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL THAT THEY TAKE TO YOU PURE OLIVE OIL, PRESSED FOR LIGHT, TO CAUSE A CONSTANT LIGHT TO RISE UP (27:20)". Aharon's to clean and light the menora, so that it burns FROM EVE UNTIL MORNING (21)-- Torah and knowledge, as mastered by man, are to light up the dark ages of human history until Messianic dawn; then the ultimate hidden light from above-- in the ark of the holy of holies-- will be revealed. We began both Genesis and the tabernacle plans with that light. "Aron" (ark) can be translated: "site of light". Exodus Raba (36) compares Jews to olives (Jer. 11:16), which only give oil and pure light after being beaten and afflicted!
Oil doesn't mix well with other liquids; so the "pure olive oil" of Torah doesn't mix well with perverse destructive cultures, whose values are opposite; yet it may mix fine with other "oils", which also give warmth and light (and are even suitable for Shabbat candles-- see Mishna, Shabbat II), e.g. refined and scientific civilization-- but cheap discos, bars, movies and TV have no place in the Holy Land; yet eliminating them by force, legal, psychological or physical, is probably counterproductive; only light, even a bit, will gradually dissipate the darkness. This is a cause uniting all faith communities in the holy land. So sickly Shas now exhibits renewed verve and vision in its pioneering satellite broadcasts of Torah TV, virtually non-existent on semi-democratic Israel's secular channels, controlled until recently by Meretz (tho Israel TV has a few very fine shows too). May God grant similar vision and initiative to modern religious Zionist circles-- Arutz 7 on TV; then the truly beautiful combination of Torah study and ways of the world can fill Israel's homes and souls, rather than polarized extremes of this world or the next; the Maalot school to train observant Jews to work in TV, and the communications programs at Ohr Hatorah, are a big step forward.
Should Jerusalem's alleged religious leaders, e.g. chief rabbis Mashash and Kulitz, who are fine regulators of ritual, also give out kiddush wine and cake, and sing and talk with the youth, at Talpiot's pagan discos on Friday night?-- compare the likely effects of their doing so with their present fulminating against Conservative and Reform Jews and missionaries, and their failed attempts to take away the Bernstein Hostel's hechsher, just because it's under so-called "Masorati" auspices (so the Masorati Agron shul banned my modern Orthodox sheets, tho I protested the nasty rabbinate action-- in retaliation against the Rabbinate? In opposition to our claim of a unified Divinely-dictated Torah, vs. JTS and HUC's documentary hypothesis?-- hear my tapes on this subject at TOP).
Adelaide and Seymour Kahn (Yaakov Schroeder's in-laws, his wife Barbara Sofer's parents) sponsored a new campus at Ohr Hatorah's Neve Chana school for modern Orthodox women, where their granddaughters study; a number of their friends from the Moreshet Yisroel Masorati shul came to share their joy and honor; Rav Riskin asked their Rabbi Feder to lead the prayers after the meal, which he beautifully did; yet Rav Riskin also explains why Reform and Conservative theology contradicts traditional Judaism (see his video lectures at TOP). So Ohr Hatorah's school for post-H.S. women, Midreshet Lindenbaum, held an exhibition of modern abstract art, selected by Mrs. Bertha Urdang, at their school, the former Zohar Hotel, together with a symposium on "This is My God and I Will Glorify Him", featuring addresses in English by Rabbis Riskin, Brovender and Sperber. This too reflects Ohr Hatorah's truly traditional attitude of recognizing and appreciating the genuine wisdom, good deeds and accomplishments of less observant, secular and non-Jewish folks; Midreshet Lindenbaum participated in the recent 2nd International Conference of Orthodox Jewish Feminists, whose modern spiritual yearnings are aided and abetted by Rav Avi Weiss, since they heed halacha, but thwarted by The Jewish Observer, loyal perpetuator of 19th century "Yiddishkeit", Savta Leah's world, rather than truly authentic Judaism.
Rav Brovender pointed out the need for thorough training to appreciate abstract art, which must, however, start with representational art and go on to impressionistic and surrealistic art, before attempting to cultivate an appreciation for abstract art (cf. the world slowly leaving Christianity for Noachism). The exhibition was indeed preceded 24 years ago by Rav Bravender's purchase of 4 abstract works from Urdang, who taught him to appreciate it; when I found the great majority of the works exhibited to be neither interesting nor beautiful, and frankly said so (cf. the Emperor's new clothes), Rav Brovender urged me to focus on the only representational work, a patch of desert, which was fairly nice, but nothing exciting. Bertha indeed made Israeli art "respectable" and acceptable in the international art scene, as she changed its early course, a focus upon sentimental Jewish touristy kitsch, to high level abstract art, which, she claims, reflects Judaism's unique focus on the imageless God; of course, she based her remarks on her own value system, that of the professional connoisseur and purveyor of fine abstract art.
Unfortunately, there was no opportunity for audience response to the remarks, which equated abstract art with spirituality, and decried Israel's original kitsch "art", e.g. dancing hasidim; I would have pointed out the superiority of temporal music over spatial art in expressing the spiritual, similar to that of temporal shabbat to the spatial tabernacle; also, while kitsch is trivial to the trained artistic eye, higher abstract art may be even more trivial to one concerned with human feeling and inspiration, with Jewish consciousness; if pictures of dancing hassidim or soldiers at the wall serve as inspiring symbols to the majority of Jews, their didactic function is far more important than that of abstract art, appreciated only by the cool few. In any event, let's hope that Rav Riskin's insular collegues learn from him how to combine truth and peace-- to firmly express our beliefs, while simultaneously treating our opponents with warmth, friendship and recognition of their valid accomplishments, e.g. the Conservative Center's efforts to help the blind and HUC's excellent library and concerts. God Himself judges each act of each of us. The huge Midreshet Bet Midrash would give Yentl nachas!
Rav Shlomo Carlebach, Ztz"l, shares his insights into the souls and problems of today's generation in Zachary Goldman's 1992 video retrospective of his life, music and stories ($30 from TOP-- PAL or NTSC; the video opens with photos of Shlomo from infancy to his later years). Shlomo claims that many establishment "professional" religious and educational leaders are inept, medicore and uninspired; they don't reach most Jewish youth, despite big budgets and staffs, for they offer speeches and press releases, not love and the depths of their souls and Torah; such people rarely consulted him or invited him to speak (the RCA too?), despite his lifetime success in inspiring so many. Some great Torah scholars, rooted in their own world, casually dismissed his ideas for new types of yeshivot for disaffected youth. Shlomo also felt that the State of Israel and world Jewry's leaders missed several opportunities to inspire the whole world, in search of holiness and spirituality, and bring them back to God and Torah, e.g. in 1967. He urges observant Jews to soar, to have no lesser goal than changing the whole world, rather than being content to just bring a few souls back to the faith. We're to bring the whole world to Jerusalem and teach them a Torah of loving God and other people, especially one's own children.
The opposite of Shlomo's teachings of love and joy is the hate-the-Gentiles, especially the Arabs, Jewish pride trip of Meir Kahana, now featured in the English program of Nachalat Tzvi yeshiva, a break-off from Machon Meir. Its cool brilliant teacher, Rav Dovid Bar Chayim, who taught in Rav Kahana's yeshiva, indeed told me that he was not a Kahana follower, often disagreeing with him; but his own pupil, Melech, formerly of Machon Meir (now the highly competent innovative editor of Your Jerusalem), "happened" (with God's help?) to come by just afterwards; he told me, with enthusiastic approval, that Bar Chayim didn't follow Kahana only because he himself is a much greater scholar, and goes much further than Kahana, e.g. urging his pupils not even to give a glass of water to an old Arab, defined as the enemy (see Kahana's biography, The False Prophet, by Robert Friedman, stolen from the H.U. libraries, for his psychological background; when I mentioned to Rav J. Soloveichik that Kahana was in jail, his comment was: "Good! That's where he belongs!"); Menachem Gottlieb, another teacher at Nachalat Tzvi, uses Kahana's book, The Jewish Idea, as a main text; but Rav David Samson praises its many sources for Jewish rights to the land, and considers Kahane & Son to be great scholars. A friend, who visited the yeshiva, told me that the essence of Gottlieb's teaching that day was that non-Jews are mostly bad, enemies, and to be avoided or fought.
But Rav Yoel Freiman, a pupil of moderate Jewish 1/4 Rav Avraham Brandwein, and spiritual guide at the Yeshiva, assured me that these are not their main teachers, and that they do not set the tone of the school, founded by Rav Yaakov Shimon, a follower of Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook; he added that American haredi Rav Simcha Ross, in charge of the Bet Midrash, is apolitical. But, shortly afterwards, the yeshiva appointed Yoel Lerner, one of the producers of Baruch Hagever, defending Dr. Goldstein's massacre, to their staff-- he teaches Meir Kahana's writings! I know nothing about other teachers there, or their girls' school, Maayan Bina. If you're considering supporting or attending the yeshiva, check it out. It may indeed be the perfect place for you if you identify with Kahane, Goldstein, and Amir; if you don't, act accordingly, after checking out the facts.
It's exactly such insular, hostile and suspicious teaching about non-Jews, perhaps appropriate, or at least understandable, amidst the horrors of East Europe, which caused great Torah scholar Rav N. Lopez Cardozo to leave the haredi "yeshiva world", based on East European Jewish attitudes to the world, for the modern Zionist yeshiva world of Isralight, stressing the enlightened thought of Rav A. Kook; its founder, Rav Dovid Aaron, a Shlomo fan, once taught at Aish Hatorah, but now promotes his own path for returnees-- he stresses spirituality and the integration of their own unique personalities with their Judaism, rather than focusing only on "logical" proofs of God and Torah. May he and his family have lots of happiness in their new Jewish 1/4 holy home.
Shlomo claims that alienated children, spouses and disciples are disappointed with their parents, mates and leaders, who have let them down, ignoring their emotional and spiritual needs; they may instantly return when they sense empathy and concern. Youth don't leave the synagogue because they're not interested in religion, but because they are-- seeking genuine intense religious experience; indeed all mankind seeks meaning, love and depth in their brief lives (cf. Great Synagogue services w/Shlomo's dovening-- hear his 2 Rosh Hashana Service tapes, $25 from TOP). Neither impersonal uninspired universities, nor escapist drug trips, satisfy our youth's spiritual hunger. God's Bible, together with its oral tradition, can-- but it must be "inhaled", internalized, not just "studied". Shlomo feels that relationships-- both to others and to basic Torah realms, e.g. the Wall and Shabbat-- are worthless unless you can't live without them.
YF: The Retaining Wall's religious significance is by no means clear; it has no special halachic status. Shlomo's outlook, absolute bliss or nothing, can lead folks to forever seek ideal and unreal soulmates, shuls, etc. rarely obtainable; they may thereby miss out on possibly greatly rewarding and growing, howbeit limited, relationships and experiences. So Michel Abuhatzira notes how many avoid the limited, but possible, love of one nuclear family by trying the impossible-- to love the whole world, which won't love them back. So those with only one mate all their life have a unique experience denied to those who seek many experiences.
Many nice non-Jews also respond with joy and enthusiasm to Shlomo's message-- but not to The Ministry of Religions' guards at the Wall, who shout at elderly female tourists, who accidently wander into the men's section, nor to those few so-called "religious" Jews, who yell at them with hate and anger, if they try to photograph them or photograph the Wall on Shabbat (we're supposed to encourage non-Jews not to observe Shabbat!). Shlomo says that Jews (who are to be a kingdom of priests and model holy nation, per Ex. 19:6) must love the rest of the world, their "congregation" (see Isaiah 2), despite anti-semitism.
Tho Shlomo stressed his foreground, his future, more than his background, he portrayed the intense atmosphere of Torah, prayer and constant public kindness in which he was raised in Germany-- he escaped just in time (see TOP's video from Germany on the Carlebach family). Shlomo studied Torah in Torah Vadaath (with Rav Shlomo Hyman), Lakewood (with Rav A. Kutler) and Habad, until the previous Rebbe urged him to reach out to the unsynagogued. The open loving upbeat joie de vive musical spirit of his S.F. and Jerusalem Houses of Love and Prayer quickly spread thruout the world, inspiring everyone, from Mea Shearim zealots to German gentiles. Israel's Chief Rabbi Israel Lau, himself so vital, aware and effective (he addressed thousands of enthusiastic Japanese Makuya supporters of Israel and the Jewish people at the Wall last year), noted that a soul like Shlomo's only descends to this world once every 100-200 years. Tho not a follower of anyone but God, I personally found Shlomo a major source of spiritual inspiration and of great insight into man's deepest feelings towards others and God; a "fellow traveller", tho not a party member, I felt a need to experience him periodically, as part of my "spiritual survival diet", and I try to expose everyone to his music and teachings.
Yet Rav Kook taught that we must be especially, tho respectfully, critical of our teachers, those whose mistakes and faults (everyone has some, even Moshe) we're most likely to copy, amidst our justified and appropriate veneration of their general greatness (cf. Ramban's harsh critique of Avraham, Hirsch's of Rambam). Shlomo was close to many counter-culture "hippy" rebel searchers and seekers, to broken, washed-out and often spaced-out "holy beggers", who in turn adored him, often non-critically (cf. the Rebbe and Rav Shach); he may have adopted their overly critical view of "the establishment", organized society, more concerned with structure, efficiency and order than affect. Truly great and sacrificial things which are done by teamwork couldn't be done by the individualistic subjective likes of Shlomo, e.g. U.S. Kashrut supervision, Operations Entebbe and Moses, and the settling and developing of the Land and State of Israel, including our outstanding hesder yeshivot. A lot of "establishment" savvy and disciplined coordinated hard work enables us to go from Yerushalayim to Bnei Brak safely and comfortably within an hour. I wouldn't cross a bridge built by Shlomo, rather than by a cool, calm and collected engineer, but I'd prefer his insights into its spiritual and emotional dimensions and implications.
"Establishment" (i.e. well organized and financed and efficently functioning) religious groups, e.g. NCSY, Discovery, Ohr Somaach, Bnei Akiva, Machon Meir, Lincoln Square and Y.U. Youth Seminars, tho relatively quiet and non-manic, may have brought more, and generally more balanced, youth to Torah than charismatic figures, who appeal more to those from emotionally deprived or disturbed backgrounds (God's favorites too?), tho their music and stories inspire all, especially those most spiritually sensitive. As his model, the truly great pleasant singer of Israel, King David, who continues to inspire all mankind, Shlomo was more a public than a private person. Rav M. Gafni viewed him as a sad man, returning alone to an empty hotel room, cheering up others in the process of cheering himself up (cf. Shlomo's own hero, Rav Nachman).
Kabbalistic Rav Mordecai Sheinberger praised Shlomo to the hilt, while simultaneously criticizing his relaxation of traditional Jewish standards of male-female interaction, e.g. hugging non-related women, howbeit to further the return of the lonely and alienated. Many in the religious establishment rejected Shlomo for this, tho the Talmud does permit such male-female contact to those rare individuals not sexually aroused thereby (see Kidd. 81b). Shlomo felt that he was rescuing spiritually and emotionally drowning women, whom only foolish hasidim ignore (were most of them indeed so drowning?). One of Rav M. Machlis' yeshiva students indeed swore that M-F hugging among his peers only expresses asexual affection. Rav Sheinberger claims that public rejection of a tzadik's weak points or mistakes prevents his being punished for them in the next world. So we should firmly reject the insularity, smoking, over-eating and secular ignorance, often accompanied by hostility, of those otherwise great haredi Torah scholars, called "g'dolim"; so Chazal concluded that King Shlomo was destroyed by his alien women, tho they still revered him and retained and studied his wisdom as part of Tanach (cf. David, punished by God for his conduct with Batsheva).
Truly enlightening and valid insight into Torah comes only after mastering its many technical details (cf. science)! Let's explore them first (the meal before the dessert) in the next section:
THE PRIESTHOOD: "AND YOU, BRING NEAR TO YOU (transcendant Moshe) YOUR BROTHER AHARON AND HIS SONS WITH HIM FROM THE MIDST OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL..." (28:1). Moshe is told to invest Aharon & Sons as priests, with glorious honorable HOLY GARMENTS, crafted by wise-hearted artisans, "filled with the spirit of wisdom"-- "AND YOU, YOU SPEAK TO ALL THE WISEHEARTED..." (28:3).
The high priest wears a breastplate (choshen), an embroidered apron (ephod), a coat (me'el), a checkered linen tunic (k'tonet), a linen turban (mitznefes), and an embroidered wool and linen sash (avnet). The ephod is made of 6 ply thread of LINEN, with blue, purple, and red WOOL, as are the tabernacle curtains and the breastplate. Gold threads were added to the ephod (possibly to the curtain fabric too). The ephod's shoulder straps rise from its back; 2 shoham stones, engraved with the names of the 12 tribes, are attached to them on top. The ephod is tied in front, about waist level.
THE CHOSHEN rests between the straps and the front of the apron; this rectangular breastplate, folded in half, appears square; it's hung from the gold settings of the shoham stones by braided gold chains, tied to the apron by a blue sash on the bottom, at waist level. It contains 4 rows of 3 stones, each stone engraved with the name of a tribe; "tribes of God" or "tribes of Yeshurun" or "tribes of Israel" was also inscribed, as were the names of the patriarchs (see Yoma 73b, Yad, Klei Hamikdash, 10:11, Yer. Yoma 1:3, The Living Torah)-- thus all 22 Hebrew letters, thru which God created the world, were included. Some say that the names of the patriarchs were on the first stone, the other extra phrase on the last, possibly that of Benyamin (in whose territory was the Temple); others say that the additions were scattered among all 12 stones, so that each wound up with 6 letters, totalling 72 letters. Aharon thus "carries the names of the children of Israel" on his shoulders and heart (Yad, K.H. 9:7,11) when he enters the tabernacle, for a CONSTANT MEMORIAL BEFORE GOD (29). The oracular Urim V'Tumim (literally "lights and perfections") are another name for the 12 stones OR, per various opinions, independent entities in the breastplate of judgement-- e.g. Divine Names, astrological signs, borders of the tribes OR the designs of the breastplate cloth itself-- woven lions and eagles, representing truth and revelation. The letters on the stones give God's message after Aharon meditates.
THE M'IEL, a sky blue wool cloak, is under the ephod. The neck opening is bound, that it not tear (one is forbidden to tear it). "Neck"-- a biblical metaphor for the temple (see Gen. 46:29, Rashi)-- connects higher and lower regions, the cohen's function. 3-color wool pomegranates alternate with bells on the hem; the bells ensure that Aharon BE HEARD AS HE ENTERS AND LEAVES THE SANCTUARY AND NOT DIE (35)! A gold plate (Tzitz), inscribed "HOLY TO GOD", is held to the high priest's forehead by a blue string, just below the turban. This rectifies sins of ritual uncleanliness, re the sacred offerings. Aharon's sons, ordinary priests, have tunics (some say of checkered cloth, vs. Ibn Ezra), sashes (perhaps only of linen), and hats, which may differ from Aharon's in shape and material. Moshe is to dress, anoint and install the priests. Aharon and his sons wore linen knickers, without openings, to cover their nakedness. Priests may never officiate without these 4 or 8 garments; they must fit and be of top quality-- dirty ones are discarded!
Wicks kindled in the sanctuary at the Rejoicing of the Drawing of the Water were made from worn breeches and girdles of ordinary priests, and wicks for daily lighting of the menora from their worn tunics (M. T. Klei Hamikdash 8:6). The high priest portrays a perfect Edenic world, to which man can return. We can't build or operate a Temple today, when doubts exist regarding the design and materials of the garments, besides many other details. Any models are only educated and educational guesses. Also, per Ramban, all (Arabs too!) must agree to the 3rd Temple, like Yitzchak's 3rd well, Rechovot (see Gen. 26:22). So Sefer Hachinuch (Truma) notes that the obligation (only communal) to build the Temple is inoperative until most Jews live in Israel-- this will happen soon, per Rav Shalom Gold, as Westerners assimilate and Russians immigrate; but many Jews of maternal lineage, whose ancestors assimilated thruout the ages, and the lost tribes, may be included in the total Jewish population too.
Ch. 29, CONSECRATION RITUALS: After immersion, priests are dressed and annointed, consecrating themselves and their clothes, bringing sacrifices. Blood's sprinkled on them; sacrifices are waved, an appeasing fragrance before God, a fire-offering to God. Moshe, officiating priest, gets the breast of the peace ram. Aharon's descendants are also inaugurated in these clothes. No outsider may eat installation offerings. The installation is 7 days, like atonement for the altar, via a daily sin offering of a bull (for the golden calf-- Rashi, 29:1; also for "throwing the bull"?), a burnt offering of a ram, and an installation offering of a ram (sounds computorish!), a form of peace offering; the offerings are accompanied by loaves and matzos, a wave offering; a bull is brought daily to atone for abuse of the altar of animal sacrifice, holy of holies, i.e. that which engenders holiness, which raises and sanctifies man in his world of animal passion, before he enters the tabernacle itsef, where he is to sanctify civilization, and, finally, contact and enter Eternity (Hirsch, 29:37, per YF). Blood of the peace offering is placed on their right earlobe, thumb, and big toe (is the message to learn, act and walk with sacrificial holiness?)
THE CONTINUAL DAILY BURNT OFFERING, AM and PM, is 2 communal yearling sheep, + meal and drink offerings. They're offered at the Tabernacle entrance, where God addresses Moshe, is intimate with the Jews, and is sancified IN HIS GLORY: "AND I'LL SANCTIFY THE MEETING TENT AND THE ALTAR AND AHARON AND HIS SONS TO BE PRIESTS TO ME. AND I'LL DWELL IN THE MIDST OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL AND I'LL BE A LORD TO THEM, AND THEY'LL REALLY KNOW (not just believe) THAT I'M GOD THEIR LORD, WHO TOOK THEM OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT TO DWELL IN THEIR MIDST-- I'M GOD THEIR LORD!" (29:44-6)
Ch. 30-- THE TABERNACLE PLANS resume: God tells Moshe to make a 1 x 1 x 2 cubit gold plated accacia wood altar of incense, with horns, a gold crown, rings and bars. It's between the menora and table, outside the curtain (paroches), which conceals the ark of testimony, where God addresses Moshe. Aharon burns incense each AM, when he cleans the menora, and each PM, when he lights it-- "a constant incense before God for your generations". Menora and Incense, mind and spirit, must be interwoven (cf. Shlomo above). No animal, meal, or drink offering, nor any unauthorized incense, may be offered on it. Aharon is to make an annual Yom Kippur atonement on the horns of the altar, with blood of the atonement sacrifice-- "IT'S HOLY OF HOLIES TO GOD!" (10)
C. NOW SOME ???
Who is not ashamed to ask will, in the end, be exalted (Shmuel ben Nachman, Ber. 63b)
Let's focus our God-given minds and souls on these God-given esoteric subjects! Why interrupt tabernacle construction plans with the priests' service? Per Rashi, God had to command donations of olive oil, as people hate to part with their money-- but the other materials, even gold, were only voluntarily donated to the tabernacle (including olive oil for the lights!)? What's missing from the tabernacle? Why? Picture a fully dressed cohen-- what's missing? Why?-- cf. laws of mourning. Who's "hiding" in this portion? Why? Find him! Where else is he a "missing person"? Why is a superfluous phrase, "AND YOU", thrice stated before 2nd person verbs? Which 2 usually forbidden realms are OK here? Why must the breastplate not move? What's the eternal light? Does it ever go out? How's it lit? How do the high priest's cloak's bells affect his death? How does incense "appease" or "please" God?
Why are the table and menora called "pure"? Who's Israel's first high priest (w/o the garments!) and king? Why's he replaced? Explore Rashi's view that the tabernacle instructions were given AFTER the golden calf sin (33:11). Think about the emphasized words. See THE TABERNACLE (Levine) for a basic illustrated description of the tabernacle; next try THE LIVING TORAH (Kaplan), more complex; then OTZAR YISROEL. Dwell upon the plate on the high priest's forehead while so absorbed!
D. SOME POSSIBLE APPROACHES TO THE ???
Ask and Learn (I Maccabees, 10.72)
OUR UNIQUE GOLD ALTAR-- The ark, menora, table, and brass altar symbolize basic life activities of Everyman, e.g. study, pursuit of wealth and power, self-conquest of primal lower drives, etc. But the gold altar relates to intimate mystical union with God, primarily the role of the cohen, whose tasks are stressed in our portion. Such mystical union may impair fulfillment of God's tasks for other Jews, e.g. Tzahal. So non-Jews are NOT to keep the intricate laws of Shabbat, tho they should join its celebration and imbibe its spirit and messages. Per Rambam (Guide 3:47), the laws of impurity are to keep ordinary Jews away from the Temple (except holidays)! Thus plans for the gold Altar of Mystical Pursuit may come after those of the other utensils, as it represents a less important, possibly optional, lifetask-- cf. the various schools of kabbala, e.g. Zohar, Ari, and Abulafia. Per Ramban, the gold altar's taught later as incense reflects Divine Judgment, which appears, together with Divine Glory, only upon completion of the tablernacle.
DIVINE JOY: God's "pleasure" from incense and sacrifices doesn't mean that He's physical and enjoys a pleasant smell or taste (e.g. 29:18), but that He "enjoys" the purifying effect on the heart of he who sacrifices them (Rambam).
FUNDRAISING: More easily obtained one time donations for impressive facilities, an honor for the donor, need not be commanded. Providing oil for a menora inauguration is glorious too. But it's much harder to drum up support for day-in day-out maintenance of religious institutions. There's no lasting memory of daily oil, which goes up in smoke, a real "out-of-pocket" loss; also one avoids permanent commitments-- so God must command daily donations (cf. marriage and those who live a life "married" to their God and faith, as opposed to those, perhaps more excited, who just have spontaneous rendezvous with Him down by the possibly holy wall). So God specially commands the daily burnt offering of the high priest, which is completely destroyed, "wasting away" priestly funds (Tsav). Wherever a person has to fight his nature, God specially "commands" him, rather than just "speaking" to him. Yehoshua's ORDERED to take over from Moshe and to maintain his courage against the enemies (Deut. 31:23); he probably felt grossly inadequate for these tasks.
THE "ETERNAL LIGHT" may refer to Torah itself, whose light survives even the destruction of the Temple. The menora didn't burn constantly, only from evening until morning. But 1 candle, the "western" light, burnt constantly. If the menora had an E-W orientation, #2 is that first "western" candle vis-a-vis #1, the eastmost candle! Per Rambam, the menora was in a N-S orientation; the eternal "western" candle was then the middle one, facing the holy of holies in the west; all the other candles faced it, north & south. If the "constant candle" went out, it was lit from the constant fire on the bronze altar of sacrifice-- sacrifice, i.e. drawing near, of animal passion to human discipline, without killing life vitality, precedes a relighting of the extinguished soul and mind.
CARING COHANIM: The cohen raises the lights until they burn by themselves; so a good teacher or priest (or parent) raises the laity to be self-sufficient, no longer dependent on him (S.R. Hirsch-- also Rav J. Soloveichik's method). Moshe, the first high priest, didn't need special clothing for his light to shine. Aharon himself also might not (S. R. Hirsch). The cohen's clothing, as his lack of blemish, shows the people the potential for a perfect redeemed world of Nature, which will follow the redemption and return of human nature to God and itself, via Israel.
WHERE'S THE FLOOR? The tabernacle had no floor, the cohen no shoes. Bare feet touch bare earth. Tho Rav Shlomo Goren allows access to SOME parts of the Temple Mount, it's advisable not to wear shoes, perhaps to go barefoot. He published a map of the permissible areas; Rav Mordecai Eliyahu proposed a giant shul there. But Rav Ovadia Yosef opposed both and responded that all access is prohibited! The barefoot man of God must keep his feet on earth-- Moshe's told: "REMOVE YOUR SHOES FROM YOUR FEET, for the ground upon which YOU stand (by the burning bush) is holy" (3:5). A Jew also discards his shoes when mourning, unable to prevent his end-- in the earth; David painfully ascends the Mt. of Olives barefoot, mourning all the way, fleeing from his spoiled rebel murderous son, Avshalom. A mourning high priest rends his garment near the FOOT, rather than the HEART; perhaps he may only show damage to his more earthly side, symbolized by his foot; his soul, symbolized by his heart, should transcend death.
Isaiah's told to go naked (some say to don sackcloth) and barefoot for 3 years, mourning Israel's impending exile (20:2; cf. Jer. 2:25). Man CANNOT completely escape his earthly links; he mourns his lack of sufficient Divine development to emotionally TRANSCEND the physical, including death (In A Place of Light, by Rhonda Shapiro-Rieser, wandering unstable modern Jews and feminist Jewesses vacillate between the traditional yeshiva world, social revolution and the Reform Rabbinate; in their quest for Divine Intimacy, they're unwilling to accept the limits and boundaries of responsible committed family intimacy). Our blessing on shoes, "WHO HAS CREATED ALL MY NEEDS", may imply a human need to separate from earth, even when there are no rough, wet, cold or hot surfaces. Why did God create a world where we need such a multiplicity of lengths and widths of shoes to function efficiently, making them both expensive and difficult to pass on? Other clothing is innately more flexible. Rav Shimon b. Shetach could only seize witches when they were REMOVED from the ground (San. 6:4)-- over-connection with the physical world is the root of witchcraft; in Ex. 22:17, witchcraft is thus juxtaposed to bestiality, obliterating Man's unique Divine nature in the sexual realm, and to idolatry, the worship of specific aspects of nature and man's own animal nature.
THE COHEN'S BODY must always be in touch with holiness, with his sacred service garments-- no underwear may intervene; so one's entire being is surrounded by holiness in Israel. The cohen's hands are exposed, but occupied with the holy service; his feet touch the "holy ground" of the tabernacle. His face is also exposed; perhaps that part of man which most reflects his Divine Image is itself inherently sacred, especially during holy service. So on Yom Kippur, the high priest's radiantly inspiring face reflected man's true Edenic "Divine Image", not his devi(o)lutionary monkey-like shadow image (see Genesis Raba 23:6, Eruvin 18a). So either partner is entitled to sexual relations in direct contact with the other's body, without the intervention of clothing (see Even HaEzer 76:13, O.H.240-- Judaism otherwise stresses the importance of modest clothing). So the ark's cherubim, male and female, imply that Torah only develops a complete Divine Image when Man and Woman, Conquest and Nurturing, unite.
As the Cherubim, people must focus on both each other and the Torah to rise to God. Famous folklorist Prof. Dov Noy, in his dvar torah at a musical soiree hosted by Hilda Freeman, noted that "V'nusnoo", "they shall give", is the same read forwards or backwards, a hint of the reciprocal bonds formed in giving to God and others. He also spoke of his Carpathian Vizhnitzer roots and the stress on human relations of chassidut. He mocked the German Bible critcs, who tried to destroy Jewish teaching before turning on the Jews themselves, upholders of the Divine Oral Tradition. Rav Yehoshua Kimmelman, head dayan of the Australian bet din, then contrasted the cherubim, little children, over the ark with those guarding the Graden of Eden, with flaming swords; the former, representing good kids, raised in a Torah environment, face each other, in peace andx friendship; the latter, reflecting the sinful environment of Eden, do not face each other and face their parents and the world with swords of fire (Rav J. Soloveichik cited an ancient targum which claims that the angels were to PRESERVE, not to GUARD, the way back to the tree of life, so that it still be there whe ma is ready to retur to it).
In Judaism, the holier something is, the more separated and untouchable, to be approached only with great trepidation and preparation. Per Rav J.B. Soloveichik, Judaism thus oppposes nudity-- not because the human body is ugly, but because it's holy, ark of the soul and the Oral Law, only to be exposed to achieve its maximum intimacy.
OUR MISSING PERSON!! Aharon's name appears over 30 times this week, Moshe's none, a response to his plea to be WIPED OUT of God's Book, if He destroys Israel (32:32-- 32, LAV, = heart). Words of a tzadik must be fulfilled, tho conditional. This portion is the appropriate site for Moshe's anonymity-- it too illustrates Moshe's selflessness, his lack of self-centeredness. In Ch. 32, Moshe turns down God's offer to make a new people from his descendants-- some so-called "ultra-religious" folks might respond: "It's a deal"! So, in T'tzaveh, Moshe hands over his own temporary role as high priest to Aharon and his descendants. As the priesthood, unlike the Torah, is hereditary, Moshe relinquishes hope that his "name", his personal identity, will continue; Aharon's kids, not his, will carry on.
Yet God shows Moshe he'll always be the prime mover behind the scenes, he who commands and teaches the law, even to king and priest-- "AND YOU, YOU WILL COMMAND ...(27:20), AND YOU, YOU WILL BRING AHARON NEAR ...(28:20), AND YOU, YOU WILL SPEAK TO ALL THE WISEHEARTED" (28:3). Both tabernacle and priesthood are but audio-visual expressions of Moshes' Torah-- he's the teacher of all future teachers, whom priests will consult. A formal priesthood is needed to provide organized constant leadership. Moshe's not the man for formal office, with its costumes and trappings-- so Rav Soloveichik was not Herr Rabbiner, the Chief Rabbi; it's YOU, Moshe-- your personality has impact. A true leader combines all 3 approaches-- YOU'LL COMMAND, YOU'LL DRAW NEAR, YOU'LL SPEAK-- he's firm, yet cordial and ready to explain everything (Rav Pinchas Peli, z"l). Moshe's dies on 7 Adar, close to our reading and that of the Passover Hagada, where his name is also expurged. Yet his "hidden name", his influence, permeates the whole reading, per the Vilna Gaon-- the unwritten "hidden" part of the names of the letters of MOSHE's name, mem-shin-he (mem + yod + nun + alef) totals 101, the number of verses in our reading!
E. THE TRUE SONS OF SCHOLARS
He who is survived by a son devoted to Torah is as tho he had not died (Shimon ben Yochai, so close to his own son-disciple; Gen. Raba 49:4).
Aharon's progeny, whom Moshe teaches, are also considered Moshe's "only" sons (Num. 3:1ff)! The sons of others often continue a great man's life task. A sacrificial scholar's children may not follow in his footsteps (cf. Chaim Herzog). They may resent the paucity of time and money spent on them, as opposed to the general public (see A Place of Light); conversely, he'll attract de facto sons of great devotion, his pupils, who never looked to him to provide their needs as little children. Sons may envy pupils' pleasant relationships with their father, while pupils deplore the rebbe's sons' lack of filial awe. Rav Yitzchak Bernays' son Yaakov helped found the Breslau modernist Conservative Seminary, attacked by the former's loyal noble pupil, S. R. Hirsch. Bernays' granddaughter Martha married Sigmund Freud and his Moshe Complex; he destroyed her Jewish observance.
KINDERLACH: Should scholars be active in child raising? R. Nachman of Breslav greatly valued children; he gave mystical cures for those who couldn't have them, always emanating and stimulating faith, joy and kindness. Yet he felt that the best thing for children was to be mostly left alone (did his great-grandfather, Baal Shem Tov, agree? Was young Nachman pressured to conform to an adult image of the Besht's descendant?). One should NOT give kids too much attention-- just educate them in Torah at the proper age; don't play with them too much! (Rav Nachman's Wisdom, 65-- see ADVICE, 46-7; he also warns against striking children). Breslav tradition views this as a way to retain a certain distance and awe of the father, who's not one's equal (cf. God). A child's sense of human helplessness is relieved by feeling he can depend on his father, someone so much greater than himself; a "peer father" may frighten the child amidst his joy. Rav Shalom Kowalsky put it simply-- "I am not my sons' pal, but their father" (he notes that all of his turned out fine, tho they themselves are more modern parents!).
Rav Nachman may reflect the view of rich, revered, and long lived R. Dosa b. Harkanos in Avot 3: MORNING SLEEP, AFTERNOON WINE, CHILDREN'S CHATTER, AND SITTING IN THE GATHERING PLACES OF ANTI-INTELLECTUALS REMOVE A MAN FROM THE WORLD. While some (Vitry) interpret children's chatter as CHILDLIKE CHATTER (or teenage obscene rapping-- Abarbanel), one can't talk otherwise with an infant, leading to Rav Nachman's conclusion. Yet children feel closer to parents who descend to share their world, enabling them to eventually teach them more Torah. So we violate Shabbat to prevent risk to life, that the person in danger be able to keep many Shabbatot. Commentators are bothered by R. Dosa's severe condemnation of seemingly small infractions-- per Rav B. Yashar, R. Dosa may be contrasting Jewish sobriety with Rome's shallow silly lifestyle, which sped the fall of the Roman Empire (cf. Soap, Dallas); he attributes his own longevity to his devotion to Tora. Per AD'RN, R. Dosa urges one not to learn at home, lest he be distracted by casual chatter of his wife and children (and lack the stimulation of collegues). Abarbanel even quotes Eruv. 22a: (THE TORA ONLY IS PERPETUATED) BY HE WHO MAKES HIMSELF HARD AS A RAVEN TOWARD HIS CHILDREN & HOUSEHOLD (not properly supporting them, vs. Ket. 49B)! God will take care of his kids, as little ravens who cry out to Him (Ps. 147:9)-- but see our Jerusalem Jewish Voice, 12/92.
The 18th Century Hungarian Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (13:1) forbids kissing even small children in the synagogue, a site reserved for love of God-- do Orthodox Jews today, e.g. at Yakar and Y'didya, agree? Would the Besht?-- it's NOT found with other laws of sanctity of the synagogue in Shulchan Aruch 151 or Mishna Tora, Tefila 11. Per R. Yona, one's natural inclination to give excessive attention to children may interrupt Torah study, for which man was created (an underlying assumption may be that men primarily engage in public conquest, women in private nurturing). Rav Marcus Lehman (a practical balanced German Jewish writer) notes that tho a father SHOULD be involved with his little children, there are those who waste lots of time doing so. The ideal use of shared time is to teach one's child Torah, via stories, etc.-- quality Jewish time.
A Jew has a sacred task in this world as a member of God's kingdom of priests and holy nation. He cannot take life as a casual ball. Avraham sacrifices, brings near, Yitzchak's natural childlike life style to God, via Torah education (Rav JBS); he also sacrifices his body to God-- 1) vicariously, via the ram, as Jews are later commanded and 2) in his having to defend His Divine Folk, e.g. in Tzahal and the Warsaw Ghetto. R. Yitzchak of Toledo remarks that youth are oriented toward body, rather than spirit-- they're dangerous, as they may influence adults around them to follow their resultant immature advice (cf. the 60's "culture", rock stars). Yehuda ben Tama (Avot 5:25) reminds us not to trust the judgment of anyone under 40 -- "forty years old for wisdom, fifty for advice (giving advice, having had sufficient experience and wisdom to know what he's doing, and taking advice, realizing his own existential helplessness and ignorance)".
Tosofot Yom Tov and Rav A. Pritzol see R. Dosa's statement as balancing that preceding it: "R. Chanina b. Dosa says: ...One with whom men's spirits are pleased, God is also pleased with him, and one who doesn't give pleasure to human spirits doesn't give it to God". A man might thus decide to spend his day just "making nice"-- playing with little kids, joining others for a good lunch, lubricated by songs and l'chayims of wine and vodka, and chatting with kids on the street, ending his day resting with old folks on the park benches. R. Dosa warns us: "NO, sit and learn!"-- R. Chanina only warns scholars that they must be pleasant and inspiring to the folk (Abarbanel-- cf. those hassidim who, in the name of modesty, won't speak pleasantly andf politely to the opposite sex). If, as Maharal suggests, R. Chanina is R. Dosa's son, he may be reacting to his "misnagdic" rosh yeshiva father by becoming more of a chassidic rebbe (cf. Reb Leibele Eiger and Rav Shach's baal tshuva religious Zionist son). R. Akiva refused to stop learning to tend to his dying grown son, sending others to care for him; he did, however, stop teaching to deliver his eulogy and to personally tend to a sick pupil, when others did not; Rav J. Soloveichik agreed that this was probably after Akiba's son's death. Hatam Sofer was told not to abandon his communal responsibilities to visit his ailing mother (in an age lacking telephones, modems and faxes).
Bartinoro, as Rashi, who views bodily pleasures positively, says our Mishneh only warns against excesses-- very late sleep (missing AM shma), long indolant alcoholic lunches, chatting excessively, and wasting one's time at movies, opera, ballet, etc. But we don't need a Mishna to tell us that! Interpretation must be both meaningful and deliver a message which isn't obvious; so we don't need Biblical verses or talmud for what we know by common sense (see Not In Heaven, E. Berkovitz). Leon of Modena defended moderate gambling and widespread use of music, despite mourning for the Temple. M. Frankel posits that all these behaviors reflect animal responses, seeking immediate gratification, rather than reflection on one's ultimate destiny, as befits a human being in his world. Per Maharal, one who wastes time forfeits his justification for living.
Others (R. B. Epstein, M. Sofer, M. Alshkar) see our Mishna as a metaphor for life stages-- one should not waste most of his morning, youth, on play and laziness, his young adulthood on enjoying the afternoon of life, and his more mature years on family, instead of primarily learning Torah; if he does so, he'll wind up in the neighborhood or Miami Beach card clubs of old ignoramuses, rather than in Yeshiva faculty clubs. Some even hold one responsible for his child's idle chatter! R. Avraham b. Maimon urged people to have as few children as possible-- one's dragged down to mundane existence in having to provide and care for them (in THE HIGHWAY OF PERFECTION, translated by Yossele Rosenblatt's great harmonious orthodox JTS son, Rav Dr. Samuel of Baltimore)! His grandson and grandfather both believed in marrying as late as possible (see Shalshelet Hakabala). See my Chanuka study re their dysfunctional families.
This austere approach is difficult for observant contemporary man to accept. Indeed, Miriam Adahan (RAISING CHILDREN TO CARE-- p. 224; see her TOP videos) notes that the children of affectionate responsive parents tend to be more lively, expressive and talkative than those of authoritarian or emotionally cold parents; a traditionalist may simply state that emotional warmth is mainly mother's role, when the child is very young. R. Dosa himself attributes R. Yehoshua b. Chanania's spiritual success to his mother, who brought him in his cradle to the synagogue (tots, who would disturb worshippers, are to be left home). Adahan also warns against EXCESSIVE authoritarian decision-making involvement to control one's child, quoting Rav Hirsch, YESODOT HACHINUCH, 2:56: "Be careful with the word NO. Let your child do and have whatever you can permit him, as long as it won't endanger his physical or moral well-being". But Yoel Schwartz is concerned with spoiling children thru indulgence, e.g. great food, destroying their ability to enjoy, and be satisfied with, plain fare, hpowbeit nourishing. Miriam feels that one's no longer to correct children when she can't do so lovingly-- others or God, The Third Parent, must then take over. But children (and adults) can be programmed for mature productive calm approaches to conflicts, rather than counter-productive negative emotional outbursts.
Ruth Fogelman claims that fathers who ignore little sons won't be able to teach him when they're bigger. Poor little Rambam, per Shalshelet Hakabala, never knew his mother, who died bearing him; his father despised both; fortunately he shared love with his little half-brother and was able to learn from others, thereby finally gaining his father's respect and love. Rav Zelig Pliskin notes that sensitive Rav Chayim Shlumovitz of Mir played hide-and-seek with his children; childless Chazan Ish took his nephews for rides on his back! Perhaps one's just to minimize, not eliminate, child's play, until his child reaches the age of learning; so the scholar doesn't waste LOTS of effort and time on meals, but does take off a bit to eat and relax-- then he can return refreshed to his studies.
MEN WHO KNOW THEIR AGE: The greater and more sensitive the rabbi, the more factors enter into his decisions. Conversely, some zealously religious people may unknowingly ignore many mitzvos, e.g. not smoking or overeating, helping out in national needs, and not littering the streets. So we can't JUST consider the need for a scholar to concentrate on his studies, but must also try to reconstruct the social and historical context in which decisions were made on family issues. In traditional extended families, where a wife had a large female support network, her husband's involvement with the tots wasn't very important; modern woman, trained for everything but child rearing, all alone, may not be ABLE to do it alone. In any case, one must interrupt study to help someone suffering, IF there's no one else around to help. Children may hold no grudge against a father who's busy learning, if that's the respected norm in their society. If not, severe feelings of deprivation may occur; this indeed justifies living in a strong Torah oriented society.
Finally, many of the quoted rabbis don't say that a father shouldn't BE with his children, only that he shouldn't speak in childlike fashion. He should learn at home where his children will absorb his atmosphere and values-- as long as he can concentrate. Rav J. B. Soloveichik recalls sharing his father's excitement at finding an answer to the Shach's ? as a tot, as well as being awakened in the middle of the night to deal with talmudic issues! Does such harsh childhood treatment instill unconscious anger and resentment? Does it imbue those not so brilliant, tho siblings and children of geniuses, with a sense of inferiority and guilt?
Exodus Raba (34:3) seems to express a more modern Carlbachian viewpoint-- ...IT'S AN HONOR FOR CHILDREN TO BE WITH THEIR FATHER AND FOR THE FATHER TO BE WITH HIS CHILDREN.... Indeed, little children are an inspiring source of Divine experience; they traditionally begin learning Bible with laws of sacrificial purity in Leviticus-- "LET PURE (little) ONES COME AND BE OCCUPIED WITH PURITY" (Genesis Raba 7:3); children cast rays of joyous Divinity into jaded non-inspired adult society (cf. "Thank heaven for little girls").
F. THE MYSTICAL CORNER: "BAREFOOT ZIONISM"
When the Cohanim rise to bless the congregation, they remove their shoes out of respect for the people (Sota 40a)
The following passage was compiled by Dovid Herzberg, a modern teacher of chassidut, as expounded and expanded by his teacher, the late great Shlomo Carlebach; Dovid often leads the vital Shlomo minyan at the Wall on friday night; he, I, and 19 other teachers of Torah are interviewed in Shalom Freedman's In The Service of God, published by Jason Aaronson. He and Sara make their Jewish 1/4 Carlebachian home both "an open place of comfort" and "a meeting place for the wise" (Avot).
Per some kabbalists, Moshe wanted to leave earth and enter the Divine fire at the burning bush, the sin for which his previous reincarnation, Abel, died; by resisting the wish, he rectified Abel's distortion! So God tells him to remove his shoes and remain connected to this world. Pardes Yosef (Patsanovski) cites Rav Yehudah citing Rav as to the importance of shoes; he was also famous for teaching (Sot. 2a) that marriages are made in heaven-- cf. Rav's own marriage, Yev. 63b. A PERSON SHOULD ALWAYS EVEN SELL THE BEAMS OF HIS HOUSE AND ACQUIRE SHOES FOR HIS FEET (Shab. 129a, cf. 152a). Rashi stresses the shame of public barefootedness; Marshah says one without shoes feels the cold ground far more than he without a roof feels the beating sun. Tho shoes are so important, one even forsakes them, if necessary, to stand on holy ground; it's even worthwhile to live without shoes in Eretz Yisrael! (cf. $15M/yr. for a doctor here vs. $100M there). Agra D'Pirka (T. E. Shapiro) cites--
R. YAKOV CHAGIZ, 1672-?1751, son of a famous scholar and oleh; he helped found a great Israeli Yeshiva, combining Torah and secular learning (cf. Rav Kook's vision and Rav Yichya Kapach's turn-of-the-century schools in Yemen). He fought the Jerusalem rabbinate (as Rav Kapach), while running the then UJA (cf. today, when Jerusalemites who believe in Torah with Worldliness have no official rabbinic representation). Chagiz was close to Chacham Tzvi and his son, Yakov Emden. Besides attacking would-be Messiah Ramchal (cf. The Rebbe, ztz"l), he joined in their anti-Sabbatarian struggles and condemnation of Y. Eyfshitz. He urged aliya in Sfas Emes and Parshat Aleh Masei. Chagiz claims that shoes are normally necessary to separate man from the earth, which he's corrupted; when he stands in a holy place, or at a holy moment, as Yom Kippur, the earth is restored to its blessing and barefoot contact is great! So the holiness of Tisha B'Av engenders the birth of the messiah, who will remove the earth's curse; in anticipation, we remove our shoes, to reunite with a redeemable earth. Aliya might even be OK for those who will be virtually poor and barefoot here (tho poverty IS justification for Yerida)! But, per Rav J. Soloveichik, better that one yearn for Israel from Boston, rather than return there broken and bitter after unsuccessful aliya.
G. THIS WEEK'S HAFTARA
Since the Destruction (of the temple), the Holy One has not laughed (Acha, A.Z. 3b).
Ezekiel 43 brings us to the plans and dedication of the forthcoming 3rd Temple. Involvement in the plans per se stimulates Jewish return to God and themselves, a prerequisite for building this indestructible Temple. So Rambam rules that the 4 mitzvos of learning the signs of kosher animals, birds, fish and creepy-crawlies are mitzvos in their own right, besides just helping one to observe kashrut better (see Yad, Maachalos Asuros, 1:1, based on Lev. 20:25, 11:46, and Sefer Hamitzvos, Positive Mitzvos, 149-152; but the commentator of the Mosad HaRav Kook Rambam disagrees, and sees these laws only as a means to keep kashrut, optional mitzvot, like shchita, ritual slaughter). My guess is that they're part of Rambam's general approach to faith and the love of God, primarily a product of knowing His great works in nature (see Yad, Daot II). Rambam explores the human body and psyche in Hilchot Daot. So he brings a whole treatise on Aristotelian physics in his laws of sanctifying the new moon, a task only for the court (Yad, Z'manim, K.H. 11, where he claims that even children can master this subject matter within 3-4 days).
Thus we also heed the Psalmist exhortation to sing praises of God, both from the heavens and the earth (Ps. 148). Does anyone know of similar statements by Rambam re botany? After grounding in the God of Nature, one can go on to the God of Sanctity, praising him from His Sanctuary with all sorts of music (Ps. 150; scientific, musical and artistic knowledge are often lacking in the haredi Yeshiva world, tho Bet Yaakov women get an excellent broad education before, please God, they live normally, get married early and have 10 kids); Rabbis Mordecai Gafni of Milad and Meir Weiner of the Jewish 1/4 are working on the problem. This time around, God's entry into all facets of everyday life (Mishpatim) will truly precede, and be the basis of, that House where His presence enters Man. From there it's carried back home to further sanctify and re-Edenize the mundane. The Talmud stresses praying in one's place of study-- perhaps one cannot pray well to God until he/she knows Him well-- via His Revelations of Torah and science.
On Parshat Zachor, we remember our universal eternal task-- to destroy Amalek, after Israel is secure; Maftir then is Deut. 25:17-19. The Haftara is then I Sam. 15-- the fall of Saul, whose false mercy to Amalakian Agag eventually brings Haman into the Purim Play.
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