Thursday, October 23, 2014

Guard your ethical life in a time of war

Hi,

Deuteronomy 23:10-15 says:
"When you go to war against your enemy, guard yourself against every bad thing. When a man among you is impure… he shall leave the camp, he shall not enter the midst of the camp. Before evening he shall bathe in water, and at sunset he shall enter the midst of the camp. And you shall have a place outside the camp; go there, outside.

"And you shall have a peg among your weapons; when you sit outside, you will dig with it, sit, and cover your waste. For HaShem your G-d travels in the midst of your camp, to save you and to put your enemy before you, and your camp shall be holy. Nothing which should be covered will be seen, lest He leave you."

On this, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch comments:
"When you leave the normal boundaries of family and civil life, and you are in a military camp arranged against your enemies, then even though you are in a military camp, where the ethical reins are easily loosened and the actual goal of war is an unrestrained coarseness – then, too, 'guard yourself against every bad thing.' Do not cease examining yourself, with self-control, and be on guard against 'every bad thing.'"

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"Seeing Gd", Part 3 of 3

Hi,

"The first principle is the existence of the exalted Creator. Meaning, there exists something that is complete in all aspects of existence, and it is the cause of all that exists, and through Him is their survival, and from Him their survival flows… This is the first principle, as indicated by the statement, 'I am the Lord your Gd, etc.'

"The second principle is His unity. Meaning, this cause of everything is one. Not the unity of a species or a kind, and not like one entity which is of joined things, divisible into many individual parts, and not "one" like a body which is one in number but which can be divided and split infinitely. Rather, He is one, a unity which is entirely unlike any other unity. This is the second principle, as indicated by, 'Listen Israel, HaShem is our Gd, HaShem is one.'


"The third principle is the absence of any physicality for Him. This One is not a body and is not a force within a body, and no physical event – like motion or rest – happens to him… This is the third principle, as indicated by, 'For you did not see any image…'"

(Rambam, Commentary to Mishnah, Introduction to Sanhedrin Chapter 10)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Monday, October 20, 2014

"Seeing Gd", Part 2

Hi,

"All of us agree that we were forced to describe Gd in physical terms and to speak of Him with the attributes of created beings, in order to enable people to accept the existence of the Creator. The books of the prophets expressed this to people using physical terms, which are close to their minds and understanding. Were they to say it in the appropriate form, using spiritual terms and matters, we would understand neither the words not the matter, and we could not serve something we did not know…"

(Rabbeinu Bachya ibn Paquda, Chovot haLevavot, Shaar haYichud 10)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Sunday, October 19, 2014

"Seeing Gd", Part 1

Hi,

"Moshe Rabbeinu's statement has already confused some people, as he asked of his Gd, 'Show me Your glory.' And the response added confusion, saying, 'You cannot see My face, for no man may see Me and live.' And people's confusion doubled with His statement, 'You will see My back, and My face will not be seen.' 

"I will say, to reveal and explain this, that Gd created a light and displayed it to prophets, as evidence that the words of prophecy they hear are from the Creator. When a prophet sees it, he says, 'I saw the glory of Gd.'"

(Rabbi Saadia Gaon, Emunot v'Deiot 2)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Monday, October 13, 2014

Rambam on the Arba Minim (Four Species) of Succot

Hi,

"It appears to me, regarding the four species taken with the lulav, that they represent the joy of leaving the wilderness, a place without planting, figs and grapes and pomegranates, and without water to drink, to a place of fruit-bearing trees and rivers. To commemorate this, they took the most attractive of the earth's produce, and the best-smelling, and the one with the prettiest leaves, and the best of the grasses as well – meaning the willow.

"These four species collectively possess these three traits:
One: Great availability in Israel of that time, such that anyone could find them;
Two: Good appearance and freshness. The etrog and hadas have a fine scent, but the lulav and etrog have a scent that is neither good nor bad;
Three: They to remain moist and fresh for seven days, which is not possible with peaches, pomegranate, aspargel, pears and the like."


(Rambam, Moreh haNevuchim 3:43)

חג סוכות שמח,
Mordechai

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Starting fresh with Gd!

Hi,

“This may be compared to a nation which needs to appease its king. When the king arrives within ten mil, the leaders come out and praise him, and he forgives one third of their burden. When the king arrives within five mil, the average people come out and praise him, and he forgives another third. When he enters the land, everyone – men, women, children – comes out and praised him, and he forgives everything. He says to them: What’s gone is gone; from here we will begin a new accounting.

“So on the eve of Rosh haShanah the leaders fast and Gd forgives one-third of their sins, and from Rosh haShanah to Yom Kippur individuals fast and Gd forgives one-third of their sins, and on Yom Kippur all of them – men, women and children – fast, and Gd says to them: What’s gone is gone; from here we will begin a new accounting.

“From Yom Kippur to Succot all of Israel is involved in mitzvot – this one with his Succah, this one with his Lulav – and on the first day of Succot all of Israel stands before Gd with their lulavim and etrogim in Gd’s Name, and Gd says to them: What’s gone is gone; from here we will begin a new accounting.

“This is what Moshe meant when he told the Jews, ‘You shall take [the four species] for yourselves on the first day.’”

(Midrash, Vayyikra Rabbah 30)

Chag sameach,
Mordechai

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Why do we say a complete Hallel on each day of Succot?

Hi,

"The reason why we complete [the entire] Hallel all eight days of Chanukah and nine days of Succot [outside Israel; in Israel it is eight days], and on Pesach  we only complete it on the first two days, and we don't complete it on Rosh Chodesh, is because:

"Each of the eight days of Chanukah has something new – an additional light. The eight [biblical] days of Succot each have different korbanot… And therefore we complete Hallel on those days. Each of the days of Chanukah and Succot is like its own holiday, distinct in its lights and korbanot respectively.

"But on the seven [biblical] days of Pesach and on Rosh Chodesh, there is no distinction between korbanot. All of them are identical. Therefore, we don't complete Hallel; we only complete it on the first two days [of Pesach]."

(Avudraham, Laws of Chanukah)

חג סוכות שמח,
Mordechai