Friday, July 25, 2008

MATOT: SHALOM BAYIT - PEACE IN THE HOME

by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman


This week's parsha, Mattot, speaks about peace. About peace in the home and peace in the nation.

The parsha opens with an admonition to the tribal heads to tell the people that they must keep their oaths and not break their word. The spoken word is sacred. Immediately thereafter it deals with vows made by a woman, and their possible annulment by her husband and/or father. How do these ideas connect?

The linkage is the concept we call Shalom Bayit- Peace in the Home. Peace on the macro level and peace on the micro level. Peace in the national home and peace in the domestic home. Peace in the individual home between husband and wife, and peace in the House of Israel between the tribes.

This concept of peace and tranquility begins to break down when people don't keep the promises that they made- whether under the huppah of their own wedding or Israel's national huppah at Sinai.

When either spouse puts his or her personal interests above that of the union the harmony and peace within the family begins to unravel. The covenant of the holy bond must be stronger than the private interests of either party. Peace within the nation of Israel similarly begins to break down when various factions- the "tribes of Israel," put their own personal interests above that of the national well-being. Only the vows they make to place the national interests first restores the sense of unity and national Shalom Bayit.

In Numbers 30: 3, in the context of the Laws of Vows, it says: K'CHAWL HAYOTZEI MIPEEV YA'ASEH- "he must do as he says." And then a bit further it uses similar phraseology in the context of the desires of the tribes, Reuben and Gad (and half of Menashe), to settle the TransJordan (East Bank), away from the other tribes who were to be settled in CisJordan (West Bank).

In Numbers 32:24 it says: VEHAYOTZAI MIPEECHEM TA'ASU - "and as you say so shall you do."

Exactly the same language! And for the same concept - Shalom Bayit.

The point the Torah is making is that in all situations we must strive to keep our word if we want Shalom Bayit. It is a great sin not to keep one's word. Nowhere in the Torah does it say that one is bound solely by a written agreement. Unlike in today's society, the bond of obligation is sealed with the word alone.

Peace is the greatest blessing. Shalom Bayit- whether a peace agreement or a marriage vow, domestic bliss or national security, it begins and ends with keeping one's word. Speech is what makes us human. Keeping our word makes us close to Divine.

Shabbat Shalom!


© 1999-2008 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 ben Meir Yisrael Hakohen Melman, z"l

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

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.

Friday, July 18, 2008

PINCHAS: OF DAUGHTERS, SABBATHS AND FESTIVALS

by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

Judaism has been responsive to women's concerns since its inception. Any alleged signs of discrimination had more to do with combating the cultural mores and social norms and customs
of the general culture which the earliest Hebrews absorbed. But Judaism itself had always ascribed a high premium and an esteemed sense of worth to its women and their role as complementary and equal partners in creating a holy and wholly new kind of society.

Sandwiched in between the new census of Israel and the overview of the festivals along with the descriptions of their relevant sacrificial offerings is the fascinating narrative of the Daughters of Zelafchad - a petition over inheritance issues. Seemingly irrelevant contextually to the balance of the parsha, its placement nevertheless has a deeper meaning altogether above and beyond its inherent meaning.

Remarkably, up until the generation of the Exodus Israel's holy day was exclusively the Sabbath. The particulars of her observance emerged only after the revelation at Sinai. Heretofore its general observance adhered in pupa form, as our tradition teaches that our Matriarchs, the founding mothers of Israel, themselves kindled the Sabbath lights.

It was the members of the generation of the Exodus who were given a new history, marked by new festivals. Passover marked their liberation, Shavuot marked their mission, while Succoth recorded their Divine Protection and looked to a future time beyond history- eschatalogical redemption.

Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur would function as barometers, measuring the nation's fealty to its Divine Mission and enabling her to purge herself from sin, barriers to fulfilling her destiny. Men and women, as equal partners, would together serve Hashem and observe His festivals upon now re-entering the Land, just as they together had observed the Sabbath all along.

The daughters of Zelafchad are actually named. Twice. This is remarkable considering that the Torah explicitly leaves unmentioned the names of Mrs. Noah (we know her name is Na'amah
thanks to the Midrash) as well as the daughters of Lot and Mrs. Lot their mother. Of course not every male in the Torah is explicitly mentioned by name either.

By actually naming the daughters- Machlah, Noa, Chaglah, Milkah and Tirtzah, the Torah is not only giving them honor and prominence, but is also connecting all Jewish women to our festivals and traditions. In essence, it is a constitutional amendment of sorts to guarantee the rights of all the women of Israel for all generations, not just the specific daughters of Zelafchad.

While the American legal system was not inherently discriminatory against Jews, Jews still had to fight to assert their inherent rights in the new society in order to overcome the prejudices of those who held the reins of power. Likewise, Judaism did not inherently discriminate against women. But it was up to the women themselves to assert their rights.

The episode of Zelafchad and his daughters is but a microcosm of the larger struggle of the women of Israel to stand alongside their men as equal partners before G*d. The new era of entering the Land of Israel under Joshua's leadership would not be tarnished by reducing the value and worth of the Jewish woman. It might have been intuitive to blame all women and adopt a generalized misogyny, even towards Israelite women, on account of the seductions of the Moabite/Midianite alliance and the attendant plague. Thus their worth was explicitly affirmed.

The names of the daughters themselves are each intimately tied to the festivals themselves, as if to underscore their inherent connection:

Machlah is tied to Passover. Machlah means forgiveness, and only Hashem's mercy permitted His taking Israel up from out of Egypt in spite of Israel's degradation, self or otherwise.

Noa is tied to Shavuoth. It means pleasant or distinguished. The Torah's ways are pleasant. Israel is distinguished by her observance of the spirit and laws of the Torah.

Chaglah is connected to Succoth. Chaglah means "to encircle." We are encircled in our festival booths by the or hamakif, the encircling light, symbolic of G*d's Divine protection. The shorter word within the word, Chag, means festival. Indeed, when tradition mentions HeChag - the festival, she means Succoth, festival par excellence.

Milkah is connected to Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Hashana is the coronation of Hashem as sole ruler of the universe. Milkah is related to malchut, meaning kingdom.

Lastly, Tirtzah is connected to Yom Kippur. It is related to the word ratzon, which means "will" or "acceptable." On Yom Kippur, Israel's sins having been forgiven, her will and the Divine Will are now as one. Her atonement was accepted. The new moon offerings are self-understood to be related to the Jewish woman. No elaboration was necessary.

Walking figuratively hand in hand into their new land to create a new society under Torah, the Jewish man and Jewish woman would be partners working in harmony to fulfill the new Jewish mission of creating one nation, under G*d, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Shabbat Shalom!

© 1999-2008 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 ben Meir Yisrael Hakohen Melman, z"l

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

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.

Friday, July 11, 2008

BALAK: ASCENDING THE SEVEN LEVELS

by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman


Bilaam the Sorcerer, sent by the Moabite king Balak to curse Israel, ascends three hilltops in all, building seven altars on each, seven spiritual vantage points from which to better observe the Camp of Israel. After all, a curse must be attached to a kernel of reality so as to be effective, much as a lie always has an element of truth in it so as to be believable.

The seven altars by which Bilaam judged Israel as a nation represent the seven ascending heavens before which each of us as individuals must be judged before earning entrance. Each level of heaven corresponds to a color vibration band of the rainbow.

The three hilltops represent prophetically the three worlds which have permeated new world Jewish consciousness: Dis velt (this world), yenner velt (the other world) and Roose velt (the world of roses, the universal symbol of love and marriage).

Red, the symbolic color of sin, corresponds to the slowest vibration of the spectrum, while violet/purple, the color of the High Priest's garments, corresponds to the highest vibration of the color spectrum. (Roses are reddish, violets are blueish...)

This material world in which we live, in contrast to our destiny to inhabit the spiritual world, has the unique quality of allowing all people of whatever vibrational level to interact with one another. One can lower or raise one's level by raising or lowering one's thought patterns, which in turn determine one's behaviors and character.

People who live by love, faith, forgiveness and trust vibrate at a much higher frequency than those ruled by fear, hatred, grudges and distrust. Like at a cocktail party, in this world we have the ability to mix and mingle in the same room with others who inhabit a completely different vibrational level of the soul.

By contrast, in the other, spiritual world (yenner velt) one's assigned world is inhabited by those at one's own vibration level exclusively. To merit elevation to the higher ascendant realms, one requires the good deeds and meritorious intentions of those remaining behind in the material world over whom one had prior influence, such as children and/or students.

Failing that, reincarnation, scientifically referred to as metempsychosis, and kabbalistically known as gilgul neshamot, a reimmersion back to the materialistic (gashmiut) war zone, is required to have another opportunity to achieve a precious soul ascent. Good and evil fight over each and every soul, alluring it with endearing blandishments. One chooses each and every day whether to follow the Evil Inclination (yetzer hara) or the Good Inclination (yetzer hatov). Each day and within each day we are creating and recreating our vibration level.

Bilaam saw the holy purity and sanctity of the Camp of Israel. Indeed, guarding this purity was the key to Israel's holiness, sanctity and survival. The Midianite women seduced the princes of Israel with their sexually drenched pagan rituals. This was Israel's Achille's Heel, so to speak. It was to undermine Israel's sanctity and raison d'etre, which is to elevate the nations of the world to ever higher spiritual vibration levels.

Bilaam from on high witnesses the modesty and purity within the camp of Israel. The privacy of each tent was guarded carefully, as no entrances faced into the entrances of another.

Bilaam blesses Israel, "Ma tovu ohalecha yaakov, mishkenotecha yisrael,

How goodly are thy tents O Jacob, thy dwelling places O Israel."

Indeed, the roshei teyvot, the first letters of each word add up to 110, the years of Joseph's life. This is an allusion to the holiness and purity of Yosef HaTzaddik, who merited special appellation as the Righteous One by dint of his resistance to the salacious adulterous propositions of Zuleika, wife of Potiphera.

We begin each day of prayer with these famous words of Bilaam to remind ourselves that like Bilaam, Israel's first observer, we too must observe and judge ourselves. LeHitPalel, the word for prayer, literally means to judge oneself, hence assuming the hitpael grammatical form.

Bilaam was our first judge in the material realm. We ourselves, as members of the Jewish people who inhabit both the material and spiritual realms simultaneously by dint of our holy connection with the Sabbath Bride, must judge ourselves by both worldly standards as well as by heavenly standards, much as Israel among the unholy nations of the world finds herself unfairly judged by a perpetual seemingly unfair double standard. Finally we are all to be judged by the Supreme Judge of all the worlds.

Black is the color which absorbs all colors, all vibrations along the color spectrum. This world is the world which challenges us to rise above the blandishments of negative thinking, of selfish thinking, of ego driven thinking. When we project to the universe our ego driven thoughts we invite a world of ego and selfishness in return. It is a Black/Balak world indeed!

As we are self-centered we expect self-centeredness in others. We are wary of others at every turn. But when we project and affirm to the universe a devotion to G*d and a commitment to
helping others, we invite in return an ocean of love and a sea abundant in riches.

The rainbow in the sky is a reminder of the seven levels of heaven. The choices we make how we live here on earth determine which color we will inherit in the end. We may not have a choice in the color of our hair, skin, or eyes, but we indeed choose the color of our fate.

Shabbat Shalom!
Good Shabbos!

copyright 1999-2008 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 ben Meir Yisrael Hakohen Melman, z"l

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

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.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

CHUKAT: EXPLORING THE ZERO SUM

by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

In this week's parsha, Chukat, we are instructed to concoct the antidote to death contamination and spiritual impurity. Ah, the quest for immortality. But it is a spiritual immortality with which we are dealing. We are taking the life force energies, so often misapplied and misused, and are advised as to how to redirect those same energies for the good- i.e., reaffirming life.

Affirming HAYYIM, the life force, and the Creator which is its source is our original goal. It was the original purpose of our creation. So often we humans take the good and corrupt it. This week's sedrah teaches us how we can make it whole once more.

How fitting in the parsha where we see the deaths of Miriam, Aaron, and the snake victims. We are to take a completely red cow- a parah adumah temimah, and slaughter it and burn it completely. Tam is short for temimah- which means "perfect" or "complete." Tam spelled in reverse is "meit," meaning death.

The use of this formula symbolically helps us attain spiritual perfection in the face of death - the highest form of tumah, or spiritual imperfection. Interestingly, this "reversal" is similarly attained when we examine what is burned and how it is burned. Its skin, its flesh and its blood must be burned- AL pirsha- ON its entrails, not AND its entrails.

This serves to highlight the idea of the entrails, the innards, as somehow the focus and foundation of what is to be burned. AL PIRSHA YISROF. On the entrails it must be burned. The shoresh, the root of yisroph, is SRF (burn), which is reverse for FRS (innards/entrails), similar to how TAM and MEIT are reversed, as explained above (TM vs MT).

This "reversal idea" is played out on the macro level with the automatic contamination of the handlers in their very handling of the product which eliminates contamination. In other words, nothing is left over. There is no net gain on the side of purity. If you make something pure on the one end, the other end now becomes impure. You can't get to FRS without SRF. Similarly, we don't get to TaM (perfection) without an awareness of the approach of death (MeiT).

This certain knowledge of death compels a sense of urgency and clarity of purpose in our lives. The knowledge that life in this world is finite creates a sense of urgency and compels us to seek lives of meaning and purpose, while bequeathing a legacy of values and good deeds. The seeming contradiction is that while we uphold and value life, it is only through the knowledge of our own certain mortality that we create lives that have meaning.

As a cow was the source of sin and the cutting off of Israel from its life source in the incident of the Golden Calf, so too a cow is now shown as the vehicle for the restoration of that life affirming connection. This dance between the two cows, a dance between death and life, or life and death, plays itself out in life.

Cows are revered as holy beings in India and were worshipped in Egypt precisely because they provided for all human physical needs. They performed labor, they gave milk and nourishment
and their dung provided fuel for cooking and warmth. But who created the cow? That is Judaism's eternal question.

The domesticated animals (cows, goats and sheep) which were worshiped by the Egyptians are a source of goodness - but we know that G*d is the ultimate source of goodness. Death has a value, but life is the higher, ultimate value. You can worship the animal or you can worship the ONE G*d, but you cannot worship both. You can worship death or you can worship the author of life, but you cannot worship both. You can have formulas for spiritual purity, but those who make it themselves become impure. This is the zero sum reality. This is the secret of our sedrah.

One can be bitter in life and bewail one's plight, and take solace and comfort in darkness and negativity. Or one can choose to bask in positive radiance and tap into the abundance of love in the universe. The Torah seems to be saying that there really isn't any room for the middle ground, for the seductively false luxury of sitting on the fence. One can choose life. Or its very opposite!

Shabbat Shalom
Good Shabbos!

copyright 1999-2008 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 ben Meir Yisrael Hakohen Melman, z"l

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

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.

NEVER GIVE UP!

Loading...

Reb Shlomo with Reb Zusha ben Avraham Zimmerman

Reb Shlomo with Reb Zusha ben Avraham Zimmerman

moshav band live at mexicali blues

Loading...

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

Loading...

Beta Israel - Ethiopian Jews - The Ingathering from Without

Loading...

Palestinians of Jewish origin - The Ingathering from Within

Loading...

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

Loading...

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

Loading...

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

Loading...

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

Loading...

SELICHOT LIVE AT CARLEBACH SHUL 2008

Loading...

NAZI RALLIES AND SPEECHES

Loading...

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

Loading...

MOSHAV BAND - THE ONLY ONE

Loading...

Reb Zalman on Jewish Renewal

Loading...

Let There Be Peace

Loading...
"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

Loading...

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

Loading...

Tisha B'Av 5765 Katif Expulsion

Loading...

Children of Sderot - The Daily Terror and Nightmares

Loading...

Let Me Sing a New Song

Loading...

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

Loading...

AMAZING INTERVIEW WITH REB SHLOMO top video only

Loading...

Larry David wants to Save the Planet

Loading...

Havdalah Ceremony on Moshav Meor Modiin in Central Israel

Loading...

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

Loading...
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!