Friday, March 28, 2008

SHEMINI: NADAV AND AVIHU, PAVING THE WAY WITH THEIR LOVE

by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman


Nadav and Avihi, Aaron's sons, brought a "strange fire" as an offering. Their souls were then consumed in the process. Can we argue in their favor? Does their case have any merit or justification? Can we give them any benefit of the doubt, or must we roundly condemn them for "not following the rules."

Many traditional commentaries have sought to explain the grievous sins of Nadav and Avihu in their bringing a "strange fire offering" to justify G*d's taking of their souls. Layers of midrashic emphasis serve to villify their intentions. Now while no one should advocate breaking with protocol, maybe it was deeper than all that. Maybe it was no punishment at all. Perhaps it was a heavenly embrace.

Perhaps their purpose in life had been completed:

...Lev.10:3 va-yomer moshe el aharon hu asher diber Hashem l'emor b'krovay ekadesh v'al p'nai chawl ha'am ekaved va-yidom aharon."

Moses said to Aaron: of this did Hashem speak, saying, " I will be sanctified through those who are nearest Me, thus I will be honored before the entire people;" and Aaron was silent.

Rashi hints at the meritorious status accorded Nadav and Avihu by Moses' above statement: Moses now told Aaron," I knew that the Tabernacle would be sanctified through someone in whom G*d's glory reposes, but I thought it would be one of US. Now I know that they were greater than either of us."

And in the Talmud Bavli Zevachim 115b it states that it was already hinted that G*d Himself alluded to their future deaths, as if to recognize that some necessary occurrence would need to take place.

"Dichtiv, venoadti shama livnei yisrael ve nikdash b'chvodi (Ex 29:43) Al tikri b'chvodi, ela b'mechubodai"

For it is written, ' and I shall set my meeting there with the children of Israel and it (the Tabernacle) shall be sanctified through my honor (b'chvodi)'. Do not read b'chvodi (through my honor), rather read it as b'mechubodai (through my honored ones)." Thus shall be done to whom the King of Kings wishes to honor.

But WHAT was so meritorious in their actions? Let us examine the end of the verse:

"va-yidom aharon- and Aaron was silent."

Instead of reading it as "silent," one could also see a connection to the word "dahm" in Hebrew which means "blood." They are the same exact letters, but vowelized differently. Now where is the word dahm as blood first mentioned in the Torah?

Let us go to the Cain and Abel fratricide narrative (Gen 4:1-10). In verse 10 it reads:

... kol d'mei achicha tzoakim elai min ha'adamah, " ...the voice of your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground!"

This is the very first mention of blood and it is mentioned in the context of fratricidal rivalry- the very first recorded act since the expulsion from Eden! And in what context did this act of fratricide take place? The very first korban, the very first offerings to Hashem.

As the very first korban offerings were blemished by dint of jealousy and fratricidal rage, the Tabernacle dedication ceremonies with their attendant sacrificial offerings could not proceed apace without a tikkun, or a fixing of the earlier Edenic blemish. The only fixing for brotherly jealousy is brotherly harmony. The only fixing for the root of the fratricide could be a NEW offering, one which was neither animal-based (Abel's) nor soil-based (Cain's). A fire offering was a NEUTRAL offering, neither one nor the other. It was thus symbolic of brotherly love and reconciliation.

Nadav and Avihu were thus gilgulim (reincarnated souls) of Cain and Abel. Reincarnated in the Dor HaMidbar, the generation of the wilderness, their purpose in life was to make it possible for the offerings in the Tabernacle to be acceptable. They paved the way for all of us, embracing the Torah's value of brotherly love and harmony. In their shared bringing of the strange fire they achieved a unity of love and purpose. Thus they repaired the sin-taint of the fratricidal rage which accompanied and ruined humanity's very first offering to G*d.

G*d embraced their souls for showing us the way. Their work here was done. May we all come to love one another and to serve Hashem with fire. Not with a strange fire, but with the fire of our souls. And may we not become strangers to our souls!

Shabbat Shalom! Good Shabbos!

© 2000 - 2008 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

These words of Torah are written in the merit of my beloved father, Israel J. Melman, obm, Yisrael Yehoshua ben Harav Ya'aqov Hakohen Melman, z"l

I was raised in the musar tradition of silence and meditative thoughtfulness, as were my father and grandfather.

http://seferchabibi.blogspot.com/2007/07/yahrzeit-of-my-father-27-tammuz.html

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9506EEDC1630F93BA35754C0A9649C8B63

Chabibi stands for CHidushei Baruch Binyamin ben Yisrael Yehoshua

(a chidush, from the word chadash, means a new, original or fresh perspective)
Dedications are available.

My band, Niggun, is available for all simchas.
Contact me privately at niggun@aol.com
(niggun means wordless spiritual melody, the highest kind there is)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

TZAV- ON DEVELOPING SENSITIVITY TO OTHERS' PAIN- OF EVEN BREAD AND ANIMALS

by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

Judaism is quite clear about guarding the sensitivities of people's feelings. Everybody knows that we cover the challah while making Kiddush so as not to hurt the feelings of the challah. For after all, if the wine and the challah are of equal value, the challah would feel quite insulted, and rightly so, to know that the wine was being blessed first. So we cover it up so it shouldn't see (or hear).

Now if we are so concerned about the feelings of bread, al achat kama vekama, how much more so, then, should we be concerned not to insult a fellow human being (or to cause pain and suffering to an animal). We see this principle at work, as well, in this week's parsha Tzav.Leviticus.6:6: "Ve zot torat hamincha...This is the law of the meal offering..."

Now in the interest of full disclosure I must confess a personal interest in this particular verse, as the name Melman is of kohanic origin, connected to the rites of the meal offering- mel deriving from the yiddish "mehl,"meaning flour. So my ancestors were not only kohanim, priests, but they were also flour-offering specialists. I'm particularly proud that our tradition provided then an alternative to the slaughter of animals, one which we should fall back on today in view of the insanity and cruelty of the kosher meat industry that completely violates the spirit of the most basic of the Noachide mitzvot- not to be cruel to animals and to feel their pain (tzaar baalei hayyim).

The next verse (vs. 8) reads: "ve herim mimenu bekumtzo misolet hamincha...
And he shall separate from it with his threefingersful some of the fine flour of the meal offering..."

Now why the three fingersful? Why not a whole fistful using all the fingers? Trying this at home, you will find that in so doing you are miming the head of a cow (the thumb and pinky serve as the horns), the horizontal hand and vertical forearm foreshadowing the future shape of the vowel kamatz!

Now the mincha offering was expressly for those who could not afford the more expensive meat-based offerings. If you couldn't afford to bring an actual live cow as an offering, then a symbolic substitute would do the job just as well, the Torah is teaching us.

Synagogues take note: just as God wanted in His Holy Temple that no one should be barred from drawing near to Him or disadvantaged in any way because of money, so too in our synagogues of today we can do no less.

We also use the pinky in yet another substitutive ritual- at the Passover Seder. While saying out loud the ten plagues over a full cup of wine we dip our pinky finger into the wine cup and flick a drop of wine into a plate at the name of each of the ten plagues. Why?

We develop our sensitivity to feel the pain of others, even the pain of our enemies. As a full cup of wine symbolizes happiness and joy, when we diminish the wine from our cup at the naming of the plagues, we learn to diminish our joy even when our enemy suffers. We do not pass out candies and sweets.

The famous story about Kamtza and Bar Kamtza touches on this theme most deliciously. In this story (BT Gittin 55b-56a) a man named Kamtza was invited to a banquet but the host's enemy named Bar Kamtza was sent the invitation by mistake. Showing up at the banquet, Bar Kamtza was quickly thrown out, even after offering to pay the costs of the entire banquet so as to avoid being humiliated in public. All the great rabbis were at the banquet. But no one said a word.

When no one protested this humiliation he stirred up trouble for his fellow Jews with the Roman authorities. Consequently, they say that Jerusalem was destroyed on account of our not showing sensitivity to the feelings of others. The embarrassment we inflict on others comes back to us many times over. So when we read of the kohen taking his handful (kamtza) of flour for the mincha offering let us remember this story well.

Shabbat Shalom.

© 2000 - 2008 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

These words of Torah are written in the merit of my beloved father, Israel J. Melman, obm, Yisrael Yehoshua ben Harav Ya'aqov Hakohen Melman, z"l

I was raised in the musar tradition of silence and meditative thoughtfulness, as were my father and grandfather.

http://seferchabibi.blogspot.com/2007/07/yahrzeit-of-my-father-27-tammuz.html http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9506EEDC1630F93BA35754C0A9649C8B63

Chabibi stands for CHidushei Baruch Binyamin ben Yisrael Yehoshua

(a chidush, from the word chadash, means a new, original or fresh perspective)
Dedications are available.

My band, Niggun, is available for all simchas.
Contact me privately at niggun@aol.com
(niggun means wordless spiritual melody, the highest kind there is)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

THE MEANING OF PURIM IN OUR LIVES

by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

"Hineni, I am here." This is the message of Purim. As much as she was a loyal and true Jewess, proud of her roots and loyal to her people, being human, at first Esther was a tad reluctant to risk her life to save her people. It was a little outside her comfort zone (to say the least!). After all, she had it pretty comfy. She was married to the King of Persia. That made her the Queen! Persia was the lone superpower of its day. She had a coterie of servants at her beck and call. The King didn't even know she was Jewish. No one would ever know. She had it pretty, pretty good. Why should she risk it all? Why should she risk any of it? Why indeed.

But Mordechai her uncle/cousin (interesting family tree that one was) wouldn't have it. He tells her that salvation from G*d would come to their people whether she stepped up or not. Whether she risked her life- or not. If not through her, then G*d would find another vehicle. The job will get done, one way or another. He finally says that perhaps the only reason she was elevated to her royal position at all was for this very opportunity to save her people! Indeed the name Esther comes from the Hebrew word, nistar, which means "hidden." G*d is working behind the scenes, so to speak, through the agency of human responsibility and free choice. People, being human beings and not puppets, freely choose to act morally or to be oblivious to conscience.

And we all have the power of persuasion, like Mordechai, to change hearts and minds. If we use it. How many people can be moved to do the right thing if we only step up and approach them. How easy it is to just turn away and give up on others. But Mordechai didn't walk away. He didn't give up on his belief that with a little convincing, others can open their eyes to see what has to be done.

The point is that Esther answered the call of conscience. Not knowing her personal outcome, yet knowing and having faith in the ultimate rightness of the cause and justice of her mission, Esther showed the way of personal heroism, a beacon of light through the ages. Whether a paratrooper jumping out of a moving plane to fight fascism (a la Hannah Senesh in WW2), or any number of citizen farmer soldiers of the Yishuv who faced down five regular Arab armies intent on annihilating the newborn/reborn State of Israel, Esther said she was going to go and risk her life, "ve'ka'asher avad'ti, avad'ti- "and if I perish, I perish."

80,000 airmen alone perished in the USA's fight against Nazi fascism in WW2. Each airman who climbed aboard his plane said to himself his own version of Esther's words. Each soldier who stormed the beaches of Normandy and risked his life wading ashore on D-Day in the face of withering machine gun fire said to himself his own version of Esther's words. Our side will prevail. We are fighting for justice and righteousness.

The young student Freedom Riders of Freedom Summer in the struggle for civil rights in America, likewise assumed great personal risk in the fight for liberty and justice for all. Each example above, each a soldier for humanity in his own way echoed Esther's words. "Whether I make it or not is not the point. Rather, I must step forward and do my personal part for the salvation of my people, for my country, for justice everywhere."

Yoni Netanyahu, who died leading the Entebbe rescue mission to save the Jewish hostages, he followed in Esther's footsteps.

The soldier who rushed in alone to end the slaughter of the yeshiva students, bypassing the police who told him it wasn't safe to go in, he stepped up, at great personal risk, to save the others. He followed in Esther's footsteps.

In a similar vein, our little fragile Jewish communities throughout the world face grave dangers. And the greatest threat is apathy. In the absence of antisemitism and the fervent embrace and allure of the assimilating culture in whose midst we dwell, without an inner conviction of the ideals and teachings of Judaism, without incorporating the vision of our prophets and of our patriarchs and matriarchs to live a covenantal life of meaning, we will assuredly disappear and become extinct, much as the dodo bird did before us.

We each in our own way need to affirm Esther's key to salvation: Hineni. Here I am. I am willing to step up and be counted. We must each answer the call. We must each answer "Hineni. Here I am." Without me there is no community. Without me we may not survive. Ein Breirah, there is no choice. Perish or flourish. It's up to me.

Good Purim!

© 2000 - 2008 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

Thursday, March 20, 2008

PURIM AND EDEN

by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

Purim has a secret to share. It is a Jewish holiday. But it's really about universal redemption and our shared humanity's struggle to remake itself in G*d's image and dwell in peace back in the garden.

In many ways, Purim is the signpost and marker by which to guide humanity, as represented byIsrael, back to the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were originally banished from the Garden -not because of sin and disobedience, but rather due to their inability to face and accept their responsibility for their actions. They weren't exiled for eating the "goodly fruit" per se. Rather, they were exiled for denying responsibility. They were caught. But they played the victim. They couldn't own up to what they had done.

Indeed, it is arguable that the idea of a return of mankind to the Garden is not only a boon from humanity's point of view, but is Divinely desired as well. It is arguably G*d's deepest desire for mankind, G*d's children, to become independent, responsible adults. They would be worthy of enjoying the Garden of Delights, but not until they can prove capable of having rightfully earned the honor of returning.

While Passover is clearly the epic narrative of G*d's redemption through intervention on an epic scale writ large, the Megillah, the Scroll of Esther, is quite oppositely indicative of the reverse transposition of mankind from being a humble receiver of salvation to an active initiator, whereby Divine intervention is noted only by its seeming absence. The Haggadah's Passover redemption narrative is replete with Divine credit even as the Megillah, the Purim narrative, pointedly celebrates the risks and cunning of Esther who heroically saves her people.

In the Garden of Eden, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil beckons the curiosities of Eve. The snake, the haughty contender for ultimate authority in the Garden, arrogating to himself the rights of Divine suzerainty, is brought low and humbled, forever to crawl on his belly, much the same way that Haman met his comeuppance for attempting to usurp the royal prerogatives of palace and power.

Upon discovery of the misdeed, the Man blames the Woman who blames the Snake who lives in the Tree (an echo of Chad Gadya), resulting in the expulsion. It therefore makes sense that an atonement and reversal of the judgment would necessarily entail a conscious retracing of the process. The flow in the chain of disavowal of responsibility went from the Man (Adam) to the Woman (Eve- who risked certain death, or so she feared, by "touching" the King's - i.e., G*d's, Tree) to the cunning Snake in his abode in the branches of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Similarly, atonement mandates a reversal of the process. Redemption in the Megillah of Esther follows a vector of newly assumed responsibility from the Man (Mordecai) who lectures the Woman (Esther) as to her responsibilities to her people (who then risks certain death *unless* touched by the golden sceptre), who then points out to the King Haman's true responsibility for her people's imminent misfortune. Haman even falls upon the Queen and her couch, thus inthe end making himself responsible for his own downfall. Finally, he himself is hanged upon the branches of "the tree (haEitz)," thus neatly completing the process and chain of responsibility.

What demands our attention as to the text's ultimate universalism is the conscious echoing of the phraseology and the similarity in language between the number of Sarah's years (127) and the number of lands under the Persian Empire(127). Incredibly, in each case it follows the unusual step of placing a conjunctive link ("and") between each of the numbers comprising the ultimate tally. It does not read as "one hundred twenty seven," but rather somewhat awkwardly as "one hundred years and twenty years and seven years (Gen23:1)."

But what is even more fascinating is the reversal in the *order* of the numbers. The Megillah reverses the order of the Genesis narrative, reading now as "seven and twenty and a hundred lands (Esther 1:1)," much as the sin order and blame/responsibility order are reversed (snake to Adam/Adam to snake).

Sarai, upon her name change to Sarah, is told by G*d that she will be the mother of "entire nations" (Gen17:15,16). While she is particularly and immediately the mother of the*Hebrew* nation, she will ultimately be the mother of entire (read "many") nations (as Chava/Eve is the "mother of life" (Gen 3:20)). The birth of the Nation of Israel points to the ultimate redemption of humanity through the rediscovery of the ethical monotheistic imperative.

The Purim narrative functions as a paradigm for mankind's struggle with evil. Ironically the story occurs in Persia, the seat of Zoroastrian faith,which teaches of the dualistic forces of light and darkness in the world. But the Jewish reading of history is a sense of the ultimate conquest of good over evil. Indeed, evil is ultimately subservient to good, as both are sourced in the Source of all goodness.

Moreover, the Purim story is a blueprint not only for the Jews' redemption, but for all humanity who align themselves with goodness. Its message is one of responsibility for one's own salvation. Inaction in the face of evil is the guarantee for evil to flourish. Perish or flourish. The choice is ours.

The Edenic paradigm for mankind's return and redemption must be seen as the backdrop by which to make sense of the Purim story as well as current events. As the masks fall off, G*d's hidden presence is revealed. Ideologies and belief systems which deny the notion of a G*d who demands personal responsibility take on an aura of untenability.

From out of a sense of volition we learn to take responsibility in life to repair the earth and the hearts of its inhabitants. To wait for others or to postpone action is the recipe for continued exile or worse. Yet the opposite holds forth the promise of a renewed encounter with that other tree in the Garden- the Tree of Life.
Good Purim!

© 2000 - 2008 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

These words of Torah are written in the merit of my beloved father, Israel J. Melman, obm, Yisrael Yehoshua ben Harav Ya'aqov Hakohen Melman, z"l

http://seferchabibi.blogspot.com/2007/07/yahrzeit-of-my-father-27-tammuz.html
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9506EEDC1630F93BA35754C0A9649C8B63

Chabibi stands for CHidushei Baruch Binyamin ben Yisrael Yehoshua

(a chidush, from the word chadash, means a new, original or fresh perspective)
Dedications are available.
My band, Niggun, is available for all simchas.
Contact me privately at niggun@aol.com
(niggun means wordless spiritual melody, the highest kind there is)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

VAYIKRa - A IS FOR ELEPHANT

by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

What are the real measures of greatness? How is true character understood? Is leadership defined solely by power, or more importantly, by moral example?

The word for general or chieftan in Hebrew is aluf. The elephant is so called on account that he is the aluf (ELEPHant) of the jungle. While the lion may in fact be the king of the jungle, the elephant, by dint of his huge size, is indisputably the chief. And more than his size accounts for his greatness.

His capacity for kindness and concern for the members of his extended family are the real measures of his greatness. If one stumbles or falls, the herd rallies around the wounded comrade and nurses him to health. No one is left behind. Rare is the elephant who is abandoned to fate.

Ironically, goats, sheep, deer, cattle- in short all the kosher animals(!),embody the opposite behavior, fleeing en masse at the first sign of danger. Probably the elephant's massive size allows him the luxury of such overt and conscious compassion.

The Jew of the exile embodies the former, that of the kosher animals. He wanders the world and flees his enemies (and his neighborhoods) from out of a sense of disempowerment. Theoretically, the Zionist Jew of the Land of Israel embodies the latter. He is in a position to stand his ground and can afford to be compassionate when acting from a position of strength and empowerment.

In our parsha this week, Vayikra, we are struck by the small letter alef in the opening word of the parsha- VAYIKRa. The parsha so overtly consumed with the details of sacrificial offerings, it is subtly telling us in code that if we are looking to the animal kingdom to search for conduits to connect with divinity, we should really look no further than the beginning, to the letter alef.

Adam, who named all the animals, deeply saw their essential natures when giving them their names. Puk Chazi! Go and see! See how the animals live. While the herd animals are fearful and frightened, the elephant can strongly stand his ground and yet be gentle and caring.

There is a Talmudic concept called sagi nahor by which a thing is suggested by referring to its opposite. Sagi Nahor means "abundant light," a delicate reference to one who is blind. Similarly, the repugnant notion of cursing G*d, CV"S, is only referred to by its opposite. Therefore, in Talmudic literature, cursing G*d is usually referred to as "blessing" Him!

So perhaps then, the parsha which is teaching us to reach G*d via affinity with animals is referring to the largest of animals all the while using the small form of the alef to suggest its opposite! So let us learn from the elephant that true nobility is exemplified in acts of caring, compassion and concern.

This is the overarching message of the Prophets of Israel. It is said that the small alef alludes to the necessary quality of humility in leadership. Arrogance only invites repugnance, and is the least admirable quality in a leader.

More than G*d seeks sacrifices, He seeks that we follow His Torah and teachings regarding concern for the welfare of the poor and the disenfranchised. The haftarah reminds us how G*d actually despises meticulous rituals and sacrifices when they are accompanied by a disregard for His teachings.

Elephants don't travel in flocks. They travel in distinct family units within larger clans. This is the way of Israel, emphasizing the core centrality of the loving family unit within the idea of loyalty to the larger tribe (or people).

Just as the elephant radiates love from the inside to the outside, from the family to the clan to the herd, so too may we come to radiate our love for G*d and His Creatures from the inside to the outside. May we first love and heal ourselves and our families. Only then can we love and heal the whole world.

As the great sage Hillel taught,"im eyn ani li mi li, uk'she'ani l'atzmi mah ani, ve'im eyn achshav eymatai?"

"If I am not for myself, then who will be for me. But if I am only for myself, then what (kind of person) am I? And if not now, then when?"

Shabbat Shalom!

© 2000 - 2008 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

These words of Torah are written in the merit of my beloved father, Israel J. Melman, obm, Yisrael Yehoshua ben Harav Ya'aqov Hakohen Melman, z"l

http://seferchabibi.blogspot.com/2007/07/yahrzeit-of-my-father-27-tammuz.html
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9506EEDC1630F93BA35754C0A9649C8B63

Chabibi stands for CHidushei Baruch Binyamin ben Yisrael Yehoshua
(a chidush, from the word chadash, means a new, original or fresh perspective)
Dedications are available.

My band, Niggun, is available for all simchas.
Contact me privately at niggun@aol.com
(niggun means wordless spiritual melody, the highest kind there is)

Friday, March 7, 2008

PIKUDEI: OF PROMISES AND PRAYERS

Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

Memory. We fear losing it. Alzheimers is dreaded for stealing memory. We are a people of memory. Our memory keeps us inoculated from false promises, treaties and illusions, false messianists and false friends.

G*d keeps his promises. Baruch She'Amar VeHaya HaOlam. He decreed it and fulfilled it. G*d is our role model of integrity- of promises made and fulfilled. Do we have any idea how awesome it is to be alive to witness the ingathering of the exiles and the rebirth of Israel after untold generations of waiting? . Two millenia of remembering both the Promise and the Promised Land. We remembered the promise. And so did G*d.

Our parsha this week, Pikudei, borrows its name from the Remembrance Narrative of G*d remembering His promise to Sarah Imeinu (Gen 21:1). Pakad means "remembered" (His promise). "VeHashem PaKaD et Sarah ka'asher amar..."

"And G*d remembered Sarah AS HE SAID HE WOULD."

G*d said he was going to give a child to Avraham and Sarah, and He did! G*d followed through on His promise. And in the Wilderness, the Midbar, the Promise is again fulfilled. In (Vayakhel) Pikudei, G*d has Israel build the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and the Vessels and the Vestments just as He said He would have us do back in Trumah/Titzaveh.

What spiritual meaning concerning "pakad" do we learn from this connection between Sarah Imeinu and the Mishkan of this week's parsha? We realize that the creation of the Mishkan/Tabernacle is essentially a recreation of the spiritual energies of Sarah's tent. BeTzalel and Ohaliav are the appointed artisans charged with recreating that "tent." Indeed, the name BeTzalel means "in the shade of G*d," i.e., in G*d's tent, while Ohaliav means "my Father is my tent/shelter."

Sarah's light permeated her tent and granted her family a glimpse of the supernal radiance of Heaven, prefiguring Aaron's role as keeper of the eternal light (Ner Tamid). When she passed on the light went out, but it was restored when Rivkah moved in as Yitzchak's wife. Its stewardship then passed on to Rivkah, and from her to all the holy mothers of Israel. Every Jewish woman who lights the holy lights for the Sabbath and Festivals in a sense becomes the High Priest of her home, which we call the Mikdash Mi'at, or the Miniature Sanctuary.

Just as Adam was lonely without Chava, as Yitzchak was lonely without Rivka, so too was Israel feeling lonely in the wilderness. Modern man leads an atomized, adamized lonely life. Yet we have the secret of returning to G*d's Home. Anticipating our existential solitude, G*d instructs His Tabernacle be built amongst us, so that He may dwell within us so as to assuage our loneliness. He will be our "Eve" in the Garden. We need only open our hearts to let Him in.

The gender form indicating G*d's Divine Indwelling Presence (Shekhina) is feminine precisely because of the feminine capacity to alleviate loneliness. Society is enriched to the degree it honors its women and valorizes the kind, compassionate and nurturing side which femininity represents. And in spite of the alleged patriarchy in Judaism, Pharisaic Judaism over the ages has been able to cultivate generation after generation of sensitive males, imbued with the gentle touch of kindness and compassion.

Avraham and Sarah together became history's first kretchmars, holy inkeepers, bestowing food and drink, kindness and compassion to all who passed by. And today, in that same tradition, Israel's Hadassah Hospital bestows medical care to all, irrespective of race and religion in a part of the world that has yet to display similar qualities.

What else transpires which connects to Pikudei? Laughter! Sarah says (vs 6): "G*d has given me laughter..." How absurd to think that a pair of nonogenarians could have a child! And how absurd to envision a beautiful Tabernacle with its golden vessels and its elaborately woven colorful tapestries with its fabulously bedecked priesthood following meticulously choreographed rituals, serving a nation that wanders alone through the desert wilderness, save but for the company of G*d?

Just as the barrenness of Sarah could be reversed so as to produce and nurture a child, so too could the barrenness of the wilderness be reversed so as produce and nurture a particular nation's unique G*d consciousness that could enrich the world via the emanation of the Divine Light. So let us as bearers of the G*d consciousness and the sense of the absurd venture out into the world to make it a brighter and lighter place, a place of holy light and of holy laughter. Let us shed light upon the darkness. And bring laughter to those who are sad.

That's a promise, not a prayer.
Shabbat Shalom

© 2000 - 2008 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

These words of Torah are written in the merit of my beloved father, Israel J. Melman, obm, Yisrael Yehoshua ben Harav Ya'aqov Hakohen Melman, z"l

http://seferchabibi.blogspot.com/2007/07/yahrzeit-of-my-father-27-tammuz.html

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9506EEDC1630F93BA35754C0A9649C8B63

Chabibi stands for CHidushei Baruch Binyamin ben Yisrael Yehoshua
(a chidush, from the word chadash, means a new, original or fresh perspective)

Dedications are available.
My band, Niggun, is available for all simchas.
Contact me privately at niggun@aol.com
(niggun means wordless spiritual melody, the highest kind there is)

NEVER GIVE UP!

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Reb Shlomo with Reb Zusha ben Avraham Zimmerman

Reb Shlomo with Reb Zusha ben Avraham Zimmerman

moshav band live at mexicali blues

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What mind is it?

"Great minds discuss ideas;
average minds discuss events;
small minds discuss people."
-Eleanor Roosevelt


ON FIXING AND HEALING...

"If you believe that you can damage, then believe that you can fix..... If you believe that you can harm, then believe that you can heal..........." Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

Hatiqwa

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Beta Israel - Ethiopian Jews - The Ingathering from Without

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Palestinians of Jewish origin - The Ingathering from Within

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Holy Wedding at Makhpela, Tomb of our Fathers in hevron - Music by Pey Dalid

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Mariane Paradise and The Gan Eden Project sings of the Unity of All Creation from Jerusalem

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A SACRED DUTY: APPLYING JEWISH VALUES TO HELP HEAL THE WORLD

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IVDU ET HASHEM B'SIMCHA- SERVE THE LORD WITH JOY DANCING AND SINGING FROM INSIDE A BOMB SHELTER

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SELICHOT LIVE AT CARLEBACH SHUL 2008

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NAZI RALLIES AND SPEECHES

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JEWISH MEN AND WOMEN GATHER TO CELEBRATE REB SHLOMO'S 14TH YAHRZEIT SINGING AT HIS GRAVE

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MOSHAV BAND - THE ONLY ONE

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Reb Zalman on Jewish Renewal

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Let There Be Peace

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"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."

- anonymous
"Perhaps the greatest force in the entire universe is compounded interest."

- Albert Einstein

the last hoshana rabba with reb shlomo and me playing together the week before he took off in '94

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bob marley - one love 6:13 (6 MINUTES 13 SECONDS) and exodus

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Tisha B'Av 5765 Katif Expulsion

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Children of Sderot - The Daily Terror and Nightmares

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Let Me Sing a New Song

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On Schlomo's magnificent 13th (Bar Mitzvah) yahrzeit in Heaven

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AMAZING INTERVIEW WITH REB SHLOMO top video only

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Larry David wants to Save the Planet

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Havdalah Ceremony on Moshav Meor Modiin in Central Israel

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Alpha blondy from cote d'ivoire sings his love of Jerusalem in Hebrew and French all over the world

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When I was young I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.- Abraham Joshua Heschel
The whole world is a very narrow bridge. And the most important thing is to not be afraid.
-Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
"The greatest thing in the world is to do somebody else a favor." - Aish Kodesh
"As you want G*d to give you a chance, give everyone else a chance to also begin again." - Shlomo Carlebach

About Me

My photo
United States
I played violin with Reb Shlomo and studied under him for over nine years at hundreds of concerts and learnings. Shlomo wanted to give me smicha before he passed. Deepest influences: My father,obm, who was a great scientist and human being, and my grandfather, obm, who was a great Torah scholar who was a musmach of the Mir Yeshiva and taught in Slobodka in Russia before WW1, and was also personal friends with the Chafetz Chaim and came to America in 1914. He knew the Talmud by heart! You could stick a pin in a word and he could tell you what word was on the other side! And my mother, Esther bat Baruch, z"l, who was a scholar of classical Hebrew and Tanach and who gave me a love for the language. And her mother, Anna (Sucher) Deutsch, who was born in Horodenka, spoke six languages, and shared her aged wisdom and eternal sweetness with me. I studied at Brandeis, Hebrew College, Pardes as well as seven years at The Metivta/ITJ earning my Advanced Semicha (yoreh yoreh)under Rav Halivni. What's truly amazing is that Shlomo and Rav Halivni each received semicha from Rav Hutner! But my deepest influences of them all are my sweetest sweetest girls who have taught me the most!