To my dear son
Nitzavim is a script regarding the need for the Jewish people to remain committed and loyal to our covenant with Hashem to ensure a bright future. There is reference in the Parsha to the concept of “teshuva – repentance” and in fact the Ramban derives that there is a mitzvah of teshuva from these same pesukim. In the heart of this discourse Moshe tells Bnei Yisrael in the name of Hashem,
“Then Hashem , your God, will bring back your captivity and have mercy upon you, and He will gather you in from all the peoples to which Hashem, your God, has scattered you”.
Why is it necessary to say that Hashem will bring them back from captivity and that He will gather them in from where they were scattered; are these two statements not one in the same?
The Meshech Chochma explains that the first statement, “Hashem will bring back your captivity”, refers to those Jewish people who have always longed to be in Eretz Yisrael and have taken measures and made sacrifice to do so; precisely why Hashem says that He “will have mercy upon (them)”. However there are parts of the Jewish people who do not yearn to be in Israel and have grown comfortable with the notion of remaining in the diaspora; to these people Hashem vows that “He will gather (them) in from all the peoples”, foreign nations and strange lands, where they are scattered and they too will dwell in Eretz Yisrael.
As a chayal in TZAHAL you have the opportunity to fulfill both promises of Hashem, you protect those Jews who long to live here and have taken initiative to do so, but you also secure the land upon which all of the Jewish nation will ultimately dwell; you secure the land upon which Hashem has promised to bring all His people and you thus merit as an active participant in ensuring the future of Am Yisrael.
With love and admiration
Makom Meshutaf limud tonight in kibbutz Revivim down south. Following the session on Rosh Hashana, a lady came over to me and said,
“I love when u come to teach Torah, it brings me back to my father’s traditional home” ;
a few words make it all worthwhile
On the same note, another woman from secular Kibbutz Revivim attending the lecture came to me following the talk and said,
“I wish you could find a way to teach these concepts to my grandchildren”….
“Time is short and there is lots of work to be done”
Yesterday Makom Meshutaf ran a program hosted by the Jordan Valley Council, for all women from the surrounding secular kibbutzim. It was a fantastic event of music and learning and I gave a shiur on “the national message of a good year”, in which I explained why the Jewish people wish each other “Shana Tova – good year” as opposed to “happy new year”.
Makom Meshutaf program Jordan Valley
Following the event a participant from one of the kibbutzim wrote me the following,
“Rabbi Hammer I left your lecture on a high, encouraged by your optimism and your mission. May Medinat Yisrael be blessed with more rabbis like you for if it was, the rabbinate and our state would look different; it would be tolerant and understanding of all Jews, it would be sympathetic towards young couples who want to marry without feeling coerced, and it would be benevolent towards those Jews who are interested in their roots but who do not want to be made to feel harassed or uncomfortable because of their non-observance. Sadly this is not the case today in our wonderful country, but I hope and pray that you succeed in doing more to get the Jewish people to a Makom Meshutaf, that common united place we all long for.
May you have a blessed, inspiring and good year
Like everything in life that is truly meaningful, making a difference is a slow and often painstaking process, but letters like these make it all worthwhile.
Kibbutz Kfar Glickson
Quite honestly, I never enjoyed posting and talking about what I do because I am really not into “self-promotion” (maybe I’m wrong and I am not criticizing those who are). I do however like to promote a cause and to inspire people when possible, which is why I am sharing this with you.
This morning en-route to a program of Makom Meshutaf (A Place we share in Common); an organization I started 4 years ago, which advocates tolerance and unity between religious and secular Jews in Israel through positive programming on Judaism, I got a call from Nitzan, the head of children’s education in Kibbutz Gat, a completely secular kibbutz which we frequent often. She explained to me that her son is getting married but he will not consider a halachic marriage with a hupah and he certainly will not register with the rabbinate. She then explained that although she is secular she wants her son to have a traditional wedding and, having known me for two years through Makom Meshutaf, she feels that I am the only rabbi who has a chance of speaking with him and explaining to him why he should have a hupah. My associate was with me in the car and after the conversation I turned to him and said,
“You know sometimes we are just not sure whether or not our work impacts the people around us, but then a phone call like this surfaces and we must realize that our entire year’s work was all worth it for this one phone call”.
Perhaps this is the true meaning of a “Shana Tova”.
NOTE: ANY FUNDS CONTRIBUTED BEFORE SEPTEMBER 27TH WILL BE MATCHED BY AN ANONYMOUS DONOR
Shavua Tov to all
As those of you who follow my posts know, I am a senior lecturer for the Jewish Identity Branch of the Rabbanut of TZAHAL; what is known as התודעה היהודית. We are responsible for the “soul” of TZAHAL, offering daily shiurim for chayalim and chayalot, classes and counseling throughout the IDF prisons, supplying all bases with religious supplies for the chagim, purchasing tefillin for any chayalim who would like a pair, supplying siddurim, running seminars on taharat hamishpacha, marrying off chayalim and chayalot, sending couples and families to spend Shabbat and yom tov on base with chayalim to offer proper Avira and offer chizuk, and finally motivational shiurim and talks as well as supplies prior to combat בעת מלחמה חלילה
this year, I am running our campaign to send over 60 families to spend ימים נוראים on bases throughout צהל and we need your help to fund this program. Many of you have children, friends or relatives who are currently serving or will be soon serving in TZAHAL and will be the beneficiaries of these efforts.
Please see below, follow the link, and please contribute generously and send to other family members or friends who you feel can help out.
As mentioned above, any contributions received before September 27th will be matched by an anonymous donor.
On behalf of חיילינו הקדושים I want to thank you for your time and consideration
Shana Tova and may we know peace in all of Israel
For contribution in Israel
For contribution in USA
To my dear son
“When a man marries a new wife, he shall not go out to the army…”;
this order is repeated in the Parsha as it was already delineated in last week’s Parsha.
Why is a newlywed exempt from serving in the army? There are many explanations but I will share with you what Rav Hirsch says.
He explains that exempting a newlywed is one of the ways in which the Torah demonstrates the eternal significance of the most prized institution in Judaism; the Jewish family. Our nation’s prominence and permanence is dependent upon nurturing and preserving the rubric of family, without which there would be nothing left to fight for. Therefore the newlywed is exempt from service in order to impress upon him the primary fixture of the Jewish people which he now preserves, and at the same time, to remind the soldiers of the greatest Jewish institution which they now protect.
I know you are in the shetach (field) over Shabbat, and while we will miss you, it is comforting to know that we are enjoined by means of the very foundation which we try to foster spiritually and which you continue to protect physically; family.
Thank you for doing so
With love and admiration
Why do so many of our youth who consider themselves observant, reject many Rabbinic mitzvoth known as “mitzvoth derabanan”? There are a number of ways which I am familiar with, in which this trend reveals itself.
Many young men who are observant, no longer wear kipot, or they will casually remove them at various times during the course of the day. I recently engaged in conversation with a number of observant young couples who informed me that they have many girl friends who keep the seven clean days before going to the mikvah which are binding from the Torah, but they do not count the five extra days tacked on prior to the seven as a rabbinic decree since the time of the Talmud, to help avoid confusion and maintain the institute of purity. Many young people casually touch each other, either putting their arms around each other in a friendly manner, or even greeting one another with gestures of affection such as a hug or kiss. Some young couples have told me that it is “custom” among many of their friends for one’s wife to sit on the lap of someone else’s spouse. These halachic wrongdoings are predominantly Rabbinic prohibitions (although according to some commentaries they fall into transgressions from the Torah) and they beg the question; where is the rejection of Rabbinic directives and guidelines coming from?
Just last week we read in the Torah,
“…you shall not deviate from the word that they (rabbinic leadership) will tell you, right or left”.
There are only two mitzvoth in the Torah which ensure that if you keep them “it will be good for you and will prolong your days”; the mitzvah of respecting one’s parents and the mitzvah of shliuah hakan – sending the mother bird away prior to taking its eggs, which appears in this week’s Parsha. The Talmud explains that the mitzvah of shiluach hakan is what one would consider an “easier” mitzvah because it does not incur financial disbursement, while the mitzvah of respecting one’s parents is a more challenging mitzvah which can incur monetary commitments. The Torah enjoins the two by delineating the reward one receives when fulfilling either one of them because, as Rashi explains, we are meant to approach all mitzvoth with the same urgency, as the Mishna in Avot says,
“be as careful and cautious with a minor mitzvah as with a weighty one”.
Perhaps this Shabbat is an appropriate time for us to postulate why many of our youngsters do not necessarily subscribe to the approach clearly laid out in our Parsha.
I have a theory…let’s hear what you think.
more to follow…