Thursday, July 28, 2011

MASSEI: THE 42

by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman


This d'var Torah is dedicated to the aliyah of the neshama of my blessed father, Israel J. Melman, Yisrael Yehoshua ben HaRavYaakov Hakohen Melman, z"l. This evening, the 27th of Tammuz is the anniversary of his ninth yahrzeit. My father was a great physicist and inventor who saw the awesomeness of G*d in the details of science. He was a pioneer on the cutting edge of 20th century technology, whose work was influential in the field of color television, telecommunications, satellite infrared technology and computer infomatics. Most important of all he was a great father and a great and kind human being - a mentsch.

What connection is there between the listing of the resting places in the beginning of Parshat Massei and the directive that the Levites should apportion themselves 48 Levitical cities, six of which would be dedicated as special cities of refuge, to seek asylum for an accidental homicide?

If you subtract the six cities of refuge from the total of 48 Levitical cities, you get the number 42, which also corresponds to the number of resting places for the Children of Israel in their forty years of wandering. This was mentioned by the commentator the Kli Yakar. Below is an expansion on the concept.

The function of the Levitical cities was to provide numerous centers of Torah learning spread out throughout the entire Land of Israel. The tribe of Levi was to function as the teachers of Torahand spirituality for the People of Israel.

Furthermore, the layout of the Levitical cities was such that wide bands of greenery and open spaces surrounded the cities on all sides. In other words, they were ecologically and psychologically sound, in that nature and human nature were best served. Human needs require ready access to nature. Nature's needs require ready protection from humanity's abusive tendencies.

Just as the Levites provided a place in space to learn Torah, so too did the 42 resting places provide a place in time. By definition they were not places of permanence. Nevertheless they functioned as oases of the spirit, identical in function as the later Levitical cities. Hence their linkage in the same sedrah.

But what about the other six cities, the cities of refuge? What do they represent? Let us examine the nature of those cities. They served as a place of asylum for one who accidentally took a life, to protect him from the blood avenger. No such protection was afforded to one found guilty of premeditated murder.

There were seven year cycles. The seventh year was devoted solely to learning Torah and spiritual growth. It was a sabbatical- but for farmers, not professors.

But what about the other six years? The hard life of the farmer consisted of endless chores. Time set aside for learning could hardly be planned consistently. The Sabbath was the sole respite to give sanctuary to the soul. Just as the six cities served as a shelter for crimes of carelessness and unplanned killing, so too the six pre-Sabbatical years symbolize the unfortunate lack of care and planning in the realm of Torah study and spiritual development inherent to those nonSabbatical years in the agrarian life.

The Levites of the Levitical cities were devoted 42/7 to the dissemination of Torah throughout Israel. Especially In all 42 non-asylum Levitical cities and especially in the seventh year, the Shemitah year.

We who live today, who are blessed with the possibility of infinite free time owing to the liberating advanced technology all around us should manage to devote ourselves at least 24/7 to Torah!

Shabbat Shalom!
Good Shabbos!


© 2000 - 2011 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 and in memory of my beloved mother, Esther Melman, obm, Esther bat Baruch z"l.


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

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

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/nytimes/obituary.aspx?n=esther-melman&pid=143745543

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

Friday, July 22, 2011

MATOT: Peace in the Home

by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

"Peace is the greatest blessing. Speech is what makes us human. Keeping our word makes us close to Divine."

This week's commentary is dedicated to the memory of my holy father, I.J. Melman, whose yahrzeit is on this coming Friday, Tammuz 27. His life was dedicated to transforming the world and making it better and closer through kindness and the promise of technology.

When he was just seven he asked his Rebbe at Chaim Berlin Yeshiva, if it is forbidden to light a fire on Shabbos, then why did G*d command Aaron to light the menorah each day, even on Shabbos, and to bring not one, but two offerings on Shabbos in the Holy Temple, in the Beit HaMiqdash? What a holy, deep question! But he was beaten for asking it, for what was assumed to be chutzpah, and so his father took him out of yeshiva, and sent him to public school, for no one should ever hit a child for asking good questions! That is not the way of Torah! But the Torah's loss was the world's gain!

He went on to develop the first color television, the first fax machine, the infrared detectors that the first satellites in space used for navigation, and later used in night vision technology, emergency exit lights and computer infomatics, and was a founding member of the IEEE and the National Color Standards Commission.

This week's reading speaks about peace. About peace in the home/heart/hearth 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. And most importantly, peace in the heart!

The heart has two ventricles. They have to work in unison, beating to the same rhythm, or else the person is deep trouble. They must work as a team. There is no I in team, and no ego may dominate. Imagine one ventricle says to the other: I am greater than you. And the other does the same. If they stop working together then they both lose.

The Arabs and the Jews both come from one father - Abraham, and all humanity comes from one father- G*d. The Arabs and the Jewish people have the power to work together to transform the Middle East from the sea to the river Euphrates into a truly blessed Garden of Eden where all can live together without fear. When all can make room in our hearts for the other then true peace will emerge. If we don't work together then we all lose.

Before the British relinquished control of their Mandate many worked for peace in the region. The King of Iraq shared this vision but was assassinated for welcoming the rebirth of Israel in her ancient land. The King of Jordan shared this vision but was also assassinated for the same reason. Peace was possibly at hand. Can you imagine how much bloodshed and pain and suffering could have been averted if all had shared this vision?

Working together in harmony the children of Abraham could yet transform hate into love, fear into understanding and acceptance. Israel, Jordan and Iraq all share the land from the "sea to the river." One day the dream of Eden will again become reality.

Hamas sows a poisonous hatred in the hearts of our Arab brothers. Because of Hamas we put up walls to keep out those bent on murder and violence. In their vision the other- the infidel, has no
merit or even right to exist. The walls in their heart force us to erect our walls. They sow fear in the heart of those who seek peace. Israel has returned home. Let all the children of Abraham rejoice. Leviticus 19:18 teaches us to love our neighbor as ourself. Hamas teaches to hate your neighbor as yourself.

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. Or the promise of Ishmael and Itzchaq to honor their father Avraham at his funeral at the Tomb of the Patriarchs by learning to live together in peace - both they and their seed.

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. Their common vision must be set before them always.

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! One version is in the singular. The other is in the plural. And each for the same concept - Shalom- the peace and harmony of all sharing the same vision.

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.

Today Iran's leaders have vowed to wipe Israel off the map, and are at the brink of developing the nuclear weapons they wish to employ to achieve that aim. We must take them at their word.

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.

Above all else, the Nation of Israel promised G*d that she and her descendants would always be a light unto the nations, a nation of priests and a holy nation - an Or LaGoyim, a mamlechet kohanim veGoy Qadosh. We forget that oath at our own peril.

Shabbat Shalom!
Good Shabbos!

© 2000 - 2011 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 and in memory of my beloved mother, Esther Melman, obm, Esther bat Baruch z"l.


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

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

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/nytimes/obituary.aspx?n=esther-melman&pid=143745543

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

Friday, July 15, 2011

PINCHAS: DAUGHTERS AND FESTIVALS

by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

This week's commentary is dedicated to the memory of my beloved mother, Esther Bat Baruch, z"l, on the occasion of her first yahrzeit, 11 Tammuz. May her neshama have an aliyah and bring blessing to us and to all Israel.

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. It would be a time of 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 Who is invisible and indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Shabbat Shalom!
Good Shabbos!

© 2000 - 2011 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 and in memory of my beloved mother, Esther Melman, obm, Esther bat Baruch z"l.


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

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

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/nytimes/obituary.aspx?n=esther-melman&pid=143745543

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

Saturday, July 9, 2011

BALAK:WHAT COLOR IS YOUR RAINBOW?

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!

© 2000 - 2011 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 and in memory of my beloved mother, Esther Melman, obm, Esther bat Baruch z"l.


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

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

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/nytimes/obituary.aspx?n=esther-melman&pid=143745543

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

Friday, July 1, 2011

CHUKAT: EXPLORING THE ZERO SUM MENTALITY AND THE MEANING OF LIFE

by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

How much of life is seen as a zero sum game? How often do we view our neighbor's gain as our loss? This jealousy/covetousness is the source of evil. When we believe that there is not sufficient abundance in the universe for all of us we resort defensively to a hoarding posture. So, homeopathically, we must eliminate this zero sum thinking with a ritual which embraces the same!

This week we learn about the snake victims. Ironically the symbol for healing is the snake on a pole (Numbers 21:8). Aetiologically, it is falsely attributed to Greek origins. But more than irony is the homeopathic truth which is revealed: The cure is implicit in its (diluted) essence. Gazing upwards to heaven (while looking in the direction of the snake on the pole) is the cure for the snake plague.

The Torah is a blueprint for life affirmation and the implicit negation of death. We are instructed to concoct the antidote to death contamination/impurity. 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- aparah adumah temimah,and slaughter it and burn it completely. Its ashes serve to ritually and spiritually purify us in the face of death and death contamination. The word "tumah" (impurity) itself is the root of the English word "conTAMinate," or "TUMor."

The use of this formula symbolically helps us attain spiritual perfection in the face of death- the highest form of tumah, or spiritual imperfection. It is the highest form of spiritual imperfection because implicit in death is the cessation of spiritual struggle. Struggle is life. Life is struggle. That is why Eden has become a metaphor for the world to come, olam haba, because there is no struggle in Eden. The snake alludes to Eden. In Eden the evil inclination was located outside of humankind. The consequence of Eden was that the evil inclination (yetzer hara) would now be an internal part of humankind's makeup. In death we are once again stripped of our yetzer hara. That is why the soul's growth is limited in olam haba (the coming world) and as much as we seek relief from struggle in this world, in the next world our souls yearn to return back to this world in order to grow and perfect themselves. To return to the peace of Eden we need to earn our way back through taking responsibility for our own part in the struggle.

Tam is short for temimah- which means "perfect" or "complete."Tam spelled in reverse is "meth," meaning death. How appropriate that America's primary drug scourge and the violence it brings in its wake revolves around meth! Inherent in the word itself is its function. That in and if itself is not extraordinary. What compels the imagination is the metaphorical pallandromic aspect inherent within the name itself. Read from either direction we come to understand its meaning.

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. In essence, then, the Torah is teaching us to look beyond the outer glitz, to peer more closely at what is inside. Ethics and morals, as opposed to glitz and glamour, are what truly count in life.

How much of life is seen as a zero sum game? How often do we view our neighbor's gain as our loss? This jealousy/covetousness is the source of evil. When we believe that there is not sufficient abundance in the universe for all of us we resort defensively to a hoarding posture. So, homeopathically, we must eliminate this zero sum thinking with a ritual which embraces the same!

AL PIRSHA YISROF. ON the entrails it must be burned. The shoresh, the rootSOURCE ofyisroph, is SRF (burn),which is reverse for FRS (innards/entrails). This idea of "reverse consumption" 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 one end, the other end 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(MeTh). This certain knowledge compels a sense of urgency and clarity of purpose. To skip to parshat (the INSIDE of the Torah - PaRSha has the same FRS root) Balak, the very next parsha, when Bilaam blesses the B'nai Yisrael (MA TOVU OHALECHA YAKOV- HOW GOODLY ARE THY TENTS OH JACOB) for the sexual sanctity/privacy which he sees when looking out at their encampment (see Rashi here Numbers 24:5), Israel in the very next chapter succumbs to the curse- the REVERSE of the blessing, for taking something which rightlybelongs on the INSIDE (sexuality) and displaying it on the OUTSIDE.

This point is further driven home in the text by the double word meaning of KUBA both as "inside" (Numbers 25:8) and as "curse" (laKov- Numbers 24:10 and elsewhere). In other words, Pinchas' antidote to the curse of public sexuality was to pierce them through in the most private of areas.

Thus the symbolically reverse nature of the red cow formula was terribly played out in real life. The point really is, though, that what must be purified to attain perfection is the INSIDE. The kishkes must be burned through and through to have the highest cleansing!

So we must ask ourselves if we are willing to go beyond the superficial token level to do what is right? Are we content to merely nudge ourselves in the right direction? Or are we ready to commit to what we know is right on the deepest (kishke) level possible?

Are we ready to commit ourselves to Torah on the deepest kishke level, the level which aroused Bilaam's blessings? Are we willing to go the extra mile in our families to make Shabbos special, to make Shabbos sweet? To make it unthinkable for our children to want anything but the deepest Jewish life possible?

In Israel, is the Jewish Nation ready to internalize its faith and devote itself wholeheartedly to renew its commitment to Torah values and wean itself off of empty, vapid western materialism? Are we ready to commit ourselves to a higher transcendant covenantal truth?

In politics, there is the fallacy of all or nothing thinking, for which the red heifer ritual is the homeopathic antidote. It should be appreciated that Israel's blessings are not at the expense of the Arabs' blessings, unless they insist on framing it as such. There is enough blessing and abundance in the universe for all to partake. Those who insist on an all or or nothing solution for life's problems usually end up with nothing. Once the Middle East accepts and embraces the Jewish state in its midst, then all the energies expended on war could be harnessed for unlimited blessing for humankind.



Shabbat Shalom!
Good Shabbos!

© 2000 - 2011 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 and in memory of my beloved mother, Esther Melman, obm, Esther bat Baruch z"l.


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

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/nytimes/obituary.aspx?n=esther-melman&pid=143745543

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

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

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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!