Friday, August 31, 2012

KI TEITZEI: LOVING AND A HATING TONIGHT


by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

Behind everything which we hate there is to be found a Divine lesson for us. Sometimes we hate a person because he reminds us of a defect in our own character. That is a Divine message. Sometimes we hate someone because they are so good that we become jealous of him and look for petty ways to find fault with him to assuage our sense of regret for our own imperfect natures. Or perhaps he is full of joy and we are depressed or sad and hence we are jealous.

They say that the perfect is the enemy of the good. If you wait for the perfect you'll miss the good. And thus may end up hating the perfect in our passing up of the good.

In our parsha, Ki Teitzei, there is the instruction, if you have two wives, where one is loved and the other is hated, that we must honor the birthright of the oldest, the firstborn son, even if he is the offspring of the hated wife. The hated wife is identified first as the senuah, the hated one, spelled sin, nun, vav, alef, hey. But then she is later identified not as the senuah, but rather as the seniah! Sin, nun, yud, alef, hey. The letter vav is replaced with the letter yud!

What is the significance of this change in spelling? Every word is divine. Every letter is divine. So it must have a meaning. Furthermore, the Torah was given to us to be eternally relevant to every generation. So today when most of Jewry has foresworn polygamy, what lesson can we learn from the change in spelling?

The letter yud represents divinity. Yud is the first holy letter of Hashem's name, represented by the tetragrammaton, YKVK, the ineffable four letter Holy name. It is so holy that we do not even pronounce the actual name. Rather we refer to Him as Hashem, meaning "the name."

It is teaching us that behind everything which we hate there is to be found a Divine lesson for us. Sometimes we hate a person because he reminds us of a defect in our own character. That is a Divine message. Sometimes we hate someone because they are so good that we become jealous of him and look for petty ways to find fault with him to assuage our sense of regret for our own imperfect natures. Or perhaps he is full of joy and we are depressed or sad and hence we are jealous of his joyous demeanor.

A spouse is called an ezer k'negdo, translated often as "helpmeet." Ezer means "helper" and k'negdo means "against." When you are on the correct moral path she is to be a helper. But when you fall off the path she is NOT to be an enabler. Her job is to oppose you and help you get back onto the right path. But then you may hate her for it. But she's just doing her job. The enlightened spouse will recognize this and seek to amend his ways and so be in the circle of love and respect again. So in truth the two wives are really one in the end.

And the son who is to receive the birthright, regardless of which wife is his mother, what does he come to teach us? That even good things may come from seemingly bad origins. After all, David, the future king of Israel and progenitor of the Mashiach, is from the fruit of a Moabitess who in turn stems from the incestuous liaison between Lot and his daughters after witnessing the fiery demise of Sodom and Gemorrah. Sometimes a setback is really a setback. But let us have the eyes to try to see the Divine message behind every seeming setback and to turn hate into love wherever we go.

As the Torah teaches (Lev 19:18), Love thy neighbor as thyself -Ve'ahavta le'reyacha kamocha... Neighbor and evil are spelled with the exact same letters, reish and ayin. And we are to hate evil. So what this means is that we must love our neighbor as we love ourselves, despite the evil we may do.

Do we not still love ourselves, even when we know we are imperfect and thus can do better? So too, we should extend that same sense of compassion to our neighbors whom we know to be imperfect. We can show our love for the good they do and try to correct them when we see they can do better. In that sense, we are like the two wives, in that we are really one and the same in our duty to help our neighbor become better. For us today, the two wives are really one and the same wife! Our supporter when we strive to do good, and our opponent when we strive to follow evil.

Evil comes to teach us and test us, and ultimately, to correct us. Spelled backwards it is ayin and reish, pronounced er, meaning awaken. When we love the good (wife) and hate the evil (wife), and yet appreciate that the challenge of evil is really for our own soul's growth, then we will have awakened to a higher order of consciousness.

Isaiah (45:7) teaches that Hashem even created evil: yotzer ohr uVoreh choshech, oseh shalom uVoreh et haRa...: " (He) forms light and creates darkness/makes peace and creates evil..."

In other words, G*d created both darkness and evil. Even darkness and evil are His creation. It is part and parcel of our world which He created.

And as everything in creation has a purpose, even darkness and evil serve a purpose in this world. They come to arouse us and motivate us to do better and rise above the lethargic moral entropy that normally guides us, as a response to evil, or even just to avoid it. We combat darkness and evil by lighting a candle and bringing light by doing a mitzvah, performing an act of kindness to another.

And as Hillel summarized the essence of the Torah: that which is hateful to you, do not do unto others. All the rest is commentary. Now go and study.

Shabbat Shalom.
Good Shabbos.

© 2000 - 2012 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, August 24, 2012

SHOFTIM; BETROTHAL AT THE MOUNTAIN


by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

Jewish DNA reflects a yearning to simultaneously ascend two figurative mountains: the universal call to serve humanity on the one hand, and the particular call to serve the Jewish people on the other hand, whereby we preserve our culture, religion and heritage and get to be alone with our G*d.

Ultimately, through fulfilling both yearnings we then come to serve G*d in the deepest way. Serving humanity, and serving G*d's priestly nation of Israel - G*d's servants for humanity, is the ultimate path to serving G*d Himself. After all, Kohein means servant. Lekhahein is the infinite form meaning "to serve," and what is a truly lived life but one which was a life of devotion and service.

These two inclinations are paired together - the Sinai inclination and the Yerushalayim inclination; the universal urge and the national urge. In truth, we should serve G*d with both urges. 

The call of Sinai in the wilderness, that zone of undifferentiated universality, where Israel received its charge to bring the Torah, the light of the world, to the nations of the world competes in our hearts with the yearning to be alone with G*d, apart from the other nations, on His holy mountain in the city of David.

But really they don't contradict each other at all. Really the two are actually one very deep yearning- that we will one day play host to all the nations of the world who will then come up to Yerushalayim, to G*d's Holy Mountain to testify to G*d's Oneness. Yeshayahu states: ISAIAH 56:7,: Ki beisi beis tefiloh, yekare es kawl he'amim. "For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples."

In this prophetic utterance the universal vision becomes the national hope, and the national vision becomes the universal hope.

And in the previous verse (Deut. 20:7) it states, "is there any man among you who has betrothed a woman and not married her? Let him go home so that he will not die in war and have another man marry her."

In the deepest sense this is an allusion to the nation of Israel who is betrothed to Hashem. Each and every year Israel renews the marriage vows of Sinai on the Festival of Shavuoth. Therefore Israel is always to seek the peaceful path, for Israel is constantly in a state of betrothal to Hashem, always bringing the softness of the heart to the hearth of the home. We seek peace always, fighting only in self defense when our enemy wants war. Because we are in a state of constant betrothal to Hashem we always seek peace and tend to fight only as a last resort in our own self defense when threatened.

We were betrothed to Hashem at Sinai, in the universal zone. But we preserve the message of Hashem's  revelation of Himself in the world via the vitality of our national rebirth in the Land of Israel, the zone of Zion.

The two mountains of Judaism are Zion and Sinai. With two hearts, our world/universal heart and our national/Jewish heart we are to serve G*d. Human values are Jewish values and Jewish values are human values. But in truth they are really the same heart, for as we say in the first paragraph of the shema, "...bechawl levavcha" - "(you are to LOVE Hashem) with all your hearts (plural)" - not only with your/our good inclination and your/our evil inclination, but also with your/our love/lev of Zion and your/our love/lev of Sinai.

Shabbat Shalom.
Good Shabbos.

© 2000 - 2012 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, August 17, 2012

ELUL ZEMAN; THE 40 DAYS TO DIVINE ATONEMENT


By Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

All humanity are brothers and sisters, with the same heavenly father who created us all in His image.
Our Muslim brothers have Ramadan for 40 days. Our Christian brothers have Lent for 40 days. So what do WE have? Did you know that we also have a special 40 day period which we use to draw closer to Hashem and become better Jews, just as the Muslims use Ramadan to become better Muslims and Christians use Lent to become better Christians? And did you know that they borrowed this idea from us? For thousands of years we have used this forty day period which begins in Elul and culminates on Yom Kippur as a time of inner healing and an opportunity to repair and fix all our broken relationships, beginning with our Divine relationship, the root of our soul.

Why 40 days? The number 40 in Judaism alludes to deep transformative internalized change. Examples are replete in our tradition. We have the Noah's Ark narrative where it rained for 40 days and 40 nights to cleanse humanity and all living things for a fresh start. We have the 40 years of wandering in the Sinai where the beaten generation of the Exodus who had grown used to slavery could die out so that a new generation committed to living lives of freedom could be born who would have the backbone to liberate and conquer our land. We have 40 days from the time of conception, from ovum to novum, during which its zygotean status is considered as just water, at which point it assumes its legal status as a quasi-life, deserving of the utmost protection until birth. And speaking of water and life, we also have the life giving waters of the mikva, which contains exactly 40 seahs by volume of water. The mikva waters transform from impurity to purity, allow for the holy marital union which leads to new life, and which help a gentile transform to become a new member of the Covenanted People. The mikva is so important in Judaism that Jewish law mandates that a community build a mikva even before it builds a synagogue!

Our 40 day period wherein we undergo the transforming process of becoming better Jews and igniting a renewed Teshuva of Return and Commitment begins on Rosh Chodesh Elul, on the first day of the month of Elul. And it lasts through the first ten days of Tishrei, concluding climactically on Yom Kippur Day itself! The Zodiacal sign for Elul is Virgo. We return to a spiritual state of virginal purity in preparation for the Days of Awe. In Tishrei we experience both a global and personal weighing of our lives and our deeds, weighing on the scales of justice. Hence the zodiacal name of Libra, represented by scales. The word "scales" itself comes from the Hebrew word Shekel, the unit coin by weight of a measure of silver. So too is the Yiddish word to "shuckle," to sway back and forth in both prayer and study, as the scales sway back and forth before resting with their verdict.

Elul is known as the acronym for Ani Ledodi Vedodi Li. "I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine," from King Solomon's Song of Songs, Shir Hashirim. We renew our love for Hashem in this month, and by extension, our deep love for his Torah and Mitzwoth. We renew our commitment to study more Torah and to undertake observance of some of the mitzwoth we may have perhaps neglected. They say that "the King is in the field" at this time. Hashem descends from His holy abode, as it were, and intimately joins us in the fields. He meets us half way. His yearning for closeness with us meets our yearning for closeness with Him!

Let us use these 40 days given to us by our tradition to renew ourselves in Torah. Let us take this time to renew and to heal the broken relationships in our lives, so fragile and yet so important. Let us start to make amends with those we may have hurt, either advertently or inadvertently. Let us draw closer once more to our loved ones, our children, our fellow workers, our friends and our neighbors, and transform them from being disgruntled to perhaps newly gruntled as once before. Let us begin once more to appreciate all the blessings in our lives. Appreciation is the key to happiness. The word "Jew" comes from Yehuda, which means "I appreciate all that Hashem has done for me." Amen.


© 2000 - 2012 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, August 10, 2012

EQEV; THE SECRET OF OVERCOMING EVIL


by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman


The great Hasidic Master, Reb Tzadoq Hakohen, taught that the first time a word is mentioned in the Torah is the headquarters for that word, and aids us in truly understanding it when used in later contexts and circumstances. This week's parsha is Eqev, which means both a literal heel, as well as the idea of something following quickly in one's footsteps, i.e. at its heels!

Used as part of the opening phrase of the parsha it is conveying the idea that blessing and reward follow quickly on the heels as a consequence of loyalty and fealty to the Torah and its mitzwoth. In the time of the giving of the Torah it was crucial to link the two ideas in order to impart the lesson of reward and punishment. However, in our day, there is a greater time lapse interval, in order to maintain the idea of free will (bechirat chofsheet), lest we become mere automatons, mechanically responding to stimuli like mice in a laboratory.

Now the word eqev itself appears in two other narratives. The first time it appears is in the context of the Eden narrative, where as part of the curse and a consequence of the expulsion from the Garden, the serpent is forever to strike at the heel of the woman. And in a later narrative, Ya'aqov is precisely named Ya'aqov, for the fact that he grasped the heel of his brother Esav as he emerged following him from their mother's womb. And in Gen 27:36 Esav uses it as a verb, "saying ya'aqveni zeh pa'amayim... - i.e., he "heeled" me, or went behind my back, two times..- first when he took my birthright, and now when he took my blessing."

The most spiritually refined often have the harshest challenges. Both the refined Eve (formed last) and the refined Jacob (born last) faced challenges from evil personified in their lives. Eve was challenged/tempted by the nachash/snake, while Jacob competed for the blessing and had his life threatened by his brother, Esav.

Those who are on a higher spiritual plane, more intimately tied to lives of holiness, are seemingly followed even more closely by the yetzer hara, the evil inclination ever nipping at their heels, looking to trip them up and conquer them.

Eve with hindsight, could finally recognize that the snake was indeed Satan's agent, if not Satan himself. Ha-Satan in Hebrew means "the accuser," pronounced ha sa-tahn, i.e., the one who tempts one to sin as a test of one's spiritual/moral fortitude and then himself becomes the accuser in the heavenly court. He is the kategor, the prosecuting angel of the heavenly court, otherwise known as the accusing angel.

But who is our Sanegor, or our defense attorney in the heavenly court? All the mitzwoth we have done, all the holy texts we have mastered, and all the deeds of loving kindness to others that we have performed. Ha-Satahn, the accusing angel, personifies evil, in the sense that he causes people to do the wrong thing while at the same time they believe that they are guiltless, even sublimely worthy (note the religious fervor of the terrorist who believes himself destined to attain heavenly reward for intentionally slaughtering the innocent).

While able to recognize sin, her curse was, that now exiled from the Garden, she would be forever subject to the terror of the snake, the fatal bite at the heel (terrorism) while minding her innocent pursuits! This is perfectly ironic because while in the Garden, the Evil Inclination (yetzer hara) was external to wo/man, tempting us from without, now once outside the Garden it entered our consciousness, tempting us from withinOur challenges and obstacles in life are said to emerge as a consequence of our actions and sins. So while the evil inclination's spiritual manifestation finds its locus internally, it now expresses its physical manifestation externally in the form of suffering.

This idea is precisely the crux of the theological argument between Judaism and Christianity vis a vis the idea of original sin and how we must consequently relate to it in our own lives subsequent to the expulsion.

Christian doctrine teaches that man is inherently born into a state of sin as a result of the sin of the eating of the fruit. This state of inherent sin can only be washed away through believing in Jesus, according to their doctrine. Judaism sees it much differently.

In Judaism we believe that we are not born in a state of sin as a result of the sin in Eden. Rather, we are born with but an inherent potentiality to sin! We always have the power given by free choice and can thus take responsibility for our actions. We are not sinful by fate! We have the power and potential within ourselves to guard against impurity in thought, deed and speech. This is the secret of attaining holiness. We have always had that power.

Jewish thought employs the Edenic narrative to teach us two radically new ideas, completely at odds with the Christian dogma. One is that the sin was not in their eating of the fruit per se, but rather in that no one took responsibility for his own actions. They each blamed the other.

We never say that one is born in a state of sin. How preposterous to think that a newborn baby is anything but the purest of the pure! Rather we learn that we recreate a Gan Eden in our own lives to the extent that we do not evade responsibility for our actions and we face up to their consequences, and exercise self mastery in avoiding evil in order to attain holiness. Conversely, we taste the bitter fruits of the Edenic exile to the extent that we do the opposite.

Christianity teaches that belief in Jesus alone atones for sin, and absolution is then granted and Heaven is then ipso facto guaranteed in the next world, regardless of how one faced the consequences of one's deeds and attempted to repair one's relationships and took responsibility for one's actions. Of course Christianity also teaches goodness. The point is in how each system sees the process of atonement.

The fasting and afflictions we endure on Yom Kippur for atonement with G*d are of no use, our rabbis of blessed memory teach us, if they lack the twin obligation to make amends with our fellow man and actively seek forgiveness for any wrongs we have committed. These two belief systems are the exact polar opposites of each other, and yet they both stem from completely different interpretations of the same phrases found in the Torah!

Also in the opening verse we see the word chesed (kindness), whereby Hashem's kindness will extend to us as a consequence of our following His Torah. Where do we see the word chesed first mentioned in the Torah? Ironically in the treaty of Beersheva, in parashat VaYerah, in Gen 21:23, where Avimelekh, king of the Philistines entreats Avraham to show him kindness, just as he had shown kindness to Avraham! This is part of our Torah reading on Rosh Hashana.

This verse is the very proof that the true original Philistines/Palestinians saw their mission as one of kindness to Avraham, to the extent that they even made a treaty to recognize that fact for all eternity! Contrast that to modern times, where the exact opposite attitude holds sway! This is all the proof one needs to show the falsity of any claims of alleged historic or moral lineage between those who appropriated the name today and those who bore authentic claim to the very same name in Avraham's time!

The ideas of both heel and kindness that we see secretly hidden in the opening line of our parsha both involve Eve, the first woman, whose name, Chava, means "Mother of all Life." Mothers are identified with infinite chesed, kindness, while evil represents its opposite. Goodness follows on the heels of kindness, while evil follows as a consequence of a lack thereof. That is why the opening verse in the parsha employs both the words chesed and eqev, bringing home the point that Torah consciousness is indeed chesed/kindness consciousness.

We forsake the Torah and exchange this chesed consciousness at our own peril. Indeed one can argue that the core idea of chesed has been essential to our perennial survival, passed on primarily through the mothers. It is therefore no coincidence that the evil of terrorism explicitly targets mothers and their children. It is also said that if a Jew is found to be cruel (achzar), then his lineage is to be investigated, as cruelty is diametrically opposed to and completely antithetical to Judaism. The Romans were cruel. We were particularly hated because we were completely the opposite. We were the ultimate "other."

Note that the gematria (numerical value) of the Hebrew letters for snake (NACHASH-358) and (SATAN-359) are nearly identical! How can this "discrepancy of one" be understood for our times? If we connect with the ONE G*D in our lives, making the fulfillment of G*D's will the purpose of our existence, then we can attach the alef/one of godliness onto the snake, again making the snake the agent for healing and blessing, instead of a curse.

In a sense you are nullifying the Satan's power by aligning against it its exact counterpart spiritual DNA. We can therefore harness the egoistic "evil" inclination for good. Where the ego reigns G*d is edged out. Where G*d reigns the ego is harnessed to perform His will.

This idea is similar to the poisonous snakes narrative in parshat Chukat (Numbers 21). The negative Nechashim/Seraphim became transformed into very positive Seraphim (angels) when hoisted on the banner. Israel looked up at the copper snakes and therefore perforce looked up to heaven for salvation. By becoming a more G*d oriented society we begin to nullify the curse of the expulsion from Eden/Israel.

Understand that the poison snake narrative followed on the "heels"of the people complaining about a lack of bread in the wilderness! The curse of the Exile was man's necessity to earn his bread by his own labors. In Eden bread was provided without labor, in exchange for recognition of G*d's Presence and taking responsibility for one's actions. So too in the wilderness, the manna was provided gratis, provided that Israel develop a concomitant faith in G*d's Power and Promise, even as they learned the Torah they would need in order to guarantee future blessing.

By acknowledging G*d in our lives, by living Divinely-focused lives as manifested by our attachment to Torah and its mandate of purposeful acts of kindness, we can actually transform the curse of the snake and thereby attain an equality and nullification of its powers over us (symbolized by the now numeric equivalence with the Satan).

Lastly, let us examine Yaaqov's association with eqev. The very root of the name Yaaqov is eqev. Eqev alludes to the idea of consequences of good or evil, following Torah or disobeying it. Jacob was so named largely on account that his descendants would become the nexus of this spiritual battle between good and evil. Evil personified in the guise of terror and negativity would come to do battle with the forces of good and positivity. Through the dark night he wrestles with the forces of evil, until he overcomes the angel of the darkness as the dawn begins to emerge.

Interestingly, Jacob is blessed with the name of Israel by none other than the wrestling angel himself! This means that those whom we wrestle against, i.e., our enemy, can yet come to bless us, as long as we strenuously assert our will to live and take our rightful place as purveyors of the Light of Torah, living lives that are blessed by acts of compassion and kindness to each other.

We become blessed by remaining true to our character. Showing compassion to our enemies, on the other hand, who personify evil through embracing terrorism, is not true compassion. It is idiot compassion because we end up afflicting ourselves even more. Saul lost his kingdom over this very notion!

Many today view our shuffling/hardships, whether personal or national, as a sign of lowliness among the nations, that somehow our afflictions are deserved. Otherwise we would not be afflicted! We follow the path of kindness and yet we appear to suffer for it. But what they fail to see is that our affliction is not in our heel, it is in our thigh! It is not the heel wound from the snake a la Eve; it is the wound from the wrestling angel, a la Jacob, and a precursor to blessing!

The former represents curse. The latter represents blessing, in our wrestling with and overcoming the angel who stood in counterpoint to the goodness which Ya'aqov represented. That is, the hardships we now face will one day be understood as the challenges which result in blessingOne day, both we ourselves, and the whole world, will come to recognize this truth.


Shabbat Shalom

© 2000 - 2012 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, August 3, 2012

Vaetchanan/shabbat nachamu: THE HEART OF HEAVEN


by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

"...the mountain was burning with a fire reaching the heart of heaven..."(Deut. 4:11)"

....VEHAHAR BOER BA'AISH AD LEV HASHAMAYIM...

"When you give your heart to someone, you've touched heaven."

I call heaven and earth as witnesses for you today...." (Deut.4:26)

"HA'IDOTI VACHEM HAYOM ET HASHAMAYIM V'ET HA'ARETZ..."

Aretz and Shamayim, the earth and the heavens, are the witnesses at Sinai. Brought together to give testimony to the theophany- the Divine Revelation, G*d's Revelation of the Divine Light was seen through the fire at the covenantal meeting point, the holy nexus, between Hashem and Israel. The Alef and The Shin, the first letters of each word, aretz and shamayim, (earth and heavens), together spell AISH, meaning fire.

Aretz is the material world, while Shamayim represents the spiritual world. Fire is the middle mix, the connecting medium between the physical and spiritual worlds. The yahrzeit candle speaks to this idea, uniting in consciousness the souls of the departed and the living.

Just as a flame represents the soul of man, fire represents the coming together of heaven and earth. What is the soul's mission on earth but to be the contact point between G*d and the material world, transforming the dross of mundanity to unfold the image of the Divine Creator through acts of kindness and love.

When a Jew is called "a varmer yid," it means that his soul is on fire, a fire whose flames reach up to the heart of heaven to bring down on this ladder of fire an aspect of the Divine Light with which to illuminate the world. G*d blessed our holy fathers that their descendants should be like the stars of the heavens and like the sands of the sea. What this means is not that we would be a numerous nation, because in this week's parsha it says (Deut.7:7):

"...you are among the smallest of nations....KI ATEM HAM'AT MIKALL HA'AMIM."

Rather our destiny is to unite the upper worlds with the lower strata. We live on two planes of existence at once, with our feet a little bit in heaven and a little bit on earth. How do we reenact this Sinai event in our lives? How do we restore this consciousness of holy fire in our lives?

Shabbos. We bring in the Shabbos with holy fire and we take leave of Shabbos with holy fire. And in between these fires burns the essence of the Divine light, which, like the Ner Tamid, we keep lit constantly all through the week. Now Israel is compared to the bush which was not consumed. Just as G*d spoke to Moses from out of the burning bush, so too He spoke to Israel from out of the fire:

" Then G*d spoke to you from out of the fire....VAYIDABER HASHEM ALEICHEM MITOCH HA'AISH....(Deut. 4:12)."

We must understand that G*d's fire is burning everyday, His Divine Light is constantly renewing itself in creation. The sun's light is always shining- even on a rainy day, if you go above the clouds. We only hear the still small voice above the licking of the flames when we stop to listen.

The ketubah of Israel, the holy marriage contract between G*d and Israel at Sinai, was written in fire which went up to the heart of heaven. So too a husband and wife must see kindled within themselves a holy fire, G*d's Divine essence. And if each sees in the other a heart of heaven, then they together will be bathed in Divine light without being burned by the fire. It is a terrifying fire. It is a terrible fire, a fire which destroyed the Holy Temples of Yerushalayim. The holy cherubs above the Holy Ark locked in holy embrace even as the flames licked all around them.

And when all Israel sees in his fellow Jew a heart of heaven, then the flames which once offered sweet incense in G*d's Holy Abode will be rekindled once again and bathe the world in THE LIGHT THAT IS ALWAYS SHINING.


Shabbat Shalom!
Good Shabbos!

© 2000 - 2012 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

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!