Sunday, November 30, 2014

Israel's temperate climate

Hi,

"'Reuven, Shimon, Levi and Yehudah, Yissachar, Zevulun and Binyamin.' (Shemot 1:2-3)

"It mentioned the first six, who are sons of Leah, in the order of their birth, and it should have mentioned Binyamin last of all of the brothers, as the youngest. It mentioned him seventh because the lower world is divided into seven climates, and the seventh climate is the Land of Israel, the middle of the settled world, the point that is more balanced in cold and heat than other lands, because it is the middle, between the extremes. 

"Therefore Binyamin is listed seventh, to hint that the Beit haMikdash, in the seventh climate, is in Binyamin's portion.

"Even though the scholars who have ordered the climates have written in some of their works that the Land of Israel is in the fourth climate, it is all toward the same end. Since the land is the [central] point, with three climates on one side and three climates on the other, it is the fourth for each set of three, the middle, which is the seventh."

(Rabbeinu Bechaye to Shemot 1:2)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Thursday, November 27, 2014

War was unnecessary

Hi,

"Were it not for the sin of the Golden Calf, the inhabitants of the Land of Israel would have been reconciled with the People of Israel, for the name of Gd called upon them would have aroused awe. No war would have been necessary, and the [Divine] influence would have proceeded peacefully as in the Days of Messiah."

(Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, Orot mei'Ofel: HaMilchamah 4, Naor translation)

Have a good day,
Mordechai

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Only in Israel

Hi,

"A Jew cannot be devoted and faithful to his thoughts and ideas and imaginings outside Israel, as he can in Israel. Manifestations of sanctity, on every level, are purest in Israel."

(Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, Orot mei'Ofel 4)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Life Goals of Maimonides

Hi,

"One who follows a healthy lifestyle is not following a good path if his goal is only to have his body complete, and his children doing his work and supporting him. Rather, his goal should be to have a complete and strong body so his spirit will be straight, in order to know Gd. One cannot understand and examine wisdoms when he is hungry or ill or one of his limbs aches. And his goal should be that his children might become sages and leaders in Israel…"

(Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Deiot 3:3)

Have a great day,
Mordechai


Monday, November 24, 2014

In praise of silence

Hi,

"One should always practice great silence. He should speak only words of wisdom or words he needs for the sake of his existence. They said that Rav, student of Rabbeinu haKadosh, never spoke empty speech – and this is the speech of most people… Thus the sages instructed (Pirkei Avot 1:17), 'One who increases words introduces sin,' and 'I have found nothing better for a body than silence.'… (Avot d'Rabbi Natan I 22)"

(Rambam, Mishneh Torah Hilchot Deiot 2:4)

Have a good day,
Mordechai

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Question Yourself

Hi,

"Do not let your own lips shame you, do not let your own mouth disgrace you, do not let your own lips curse you, do not let your own teeth embarrass you, and do not bow to your own words. As Proverbs 6:2 says, 'You have stumbled in the declarations of your own mouth.'"

(Kallah Rabti 4:17)

Have a good day,
Mordechai

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Go to a spiritual healer...

Hi,

"Those who are physically ill taste the bitter as sweet and the sweet as bitter. Some ill people desire and long for inedible foods, like dust and charcoal, and despise good foods like bread and meat, all according to the particular illness. So, too, people whose spirits are ill desire and love bad traits, and despise the good path and are too lazy to follow it, and they find it very heavy, due to their illness… 

"They should go to sages who are healers of spirits, and they will heal their illness by teaching them good traits, until they bring them back to the good path…"

(Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Deiot 2:1)

המצפה לישועה,
Mordechai

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Risking the lives of soldiers to spare civilians on the other side

Hi,

Thoughts on war:

Rabbi Avraham Shapira, War and Ethics, Techumin 4, pg. 182:
When there is no substantive risk to our soldiers, there is no permission to strike lives or property. However, when there is a discernible risk, one must remember that it is not only a matter of weighing one unit opposite a civilian population on the scale. The loss of one unit, or part of it, can affect the entire battle…

Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, Ethics and War, Techumin 4, pg. 185:
The price [of war] is also paid by the enemy, who is also graced with the Divine image, and one should grieve whenever Gd's creations drown in the sea. On this point, the issue of quantity is meaningful, and one certainly must weigh the justifications for harming many in order to save an individual.

Hoping for better news,
Mordechai

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Amalek today?

Hi,

"If any people seeks to destroy us, we are commanded to do battle against it when it rises up against us, and this battle of ours is an obligatory war on the basis of the verse from Exodus (17:16), 'The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.'"

(Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, Fate and Destiny, footnote 25)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Monday, November 17, 2014

Taking the middle path

Hi,

"There are many traits in each human being; this one is different from that one, and extremely distant from him. Some are people of rage, always angry. Some have settled minds, never angry – and if they are ever angry, it is once in many years. Some are extremely arrogant, and some are extremely humble, and some are desirous, never satisfied from pursuing desire, and some are of very pure heart, not desiring even the little that the body needs. And some have a broad spirit, unsatisfied even with all of the world's wealth, like Ecclesiastes 5:9, 'One who loves silver will never have enough silver.' And some reduce their spirit, sufficing with even a little that isn't actually enough for them, and not pursuing all of their needs…

"Between each trait and its extreme opposite are intermediate traits, equidistant from each end. And in the set of all traits, some traits are congenital, per the nature of one's body, and some are traits toward which a person's nature is directed and which he will acquire more quickly than other traits, and some traits are lacking in a person from birth, but he learns them from others, or he turns himself to them independently due to a thought in his heart, or he hears that this is a good trait, worthy of following, and he habituates himself to it until it is established in his heart.


"The two extremes in each trait are not a good path; one should neither follow them nor teach them to himself. Should he find that his nature is inclined toward one of them or prepared for them, or he has already learned one of them and practiced it, he should bring himself back to the good and travel the path of the good, the straight path."

(Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Deiot 1:1-3)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Between Fire and Ice

Hi,

"This Torah is like two paths, one of fire and one of snow. One who inclines one way will die in fire, one who inclines the other way will die in snow. What should he do? He should walk in the middle."

(Talmud Yerushalmi, Chagigah 2:1)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Experience is the best teacher

Hi,

"Experience is a more honest witness than all of the theories founded upon proofs."

(Rabbi Moshe Sofer, Chatam Sofer Yoreh Deah 45)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Medicine must be tried and true

Hi,

"The sages said explicitly that medicinal treatments are not subject to [the prohibition against] 'Emorite ways', meaning that anything mandated by natural studies is permitted, and anything else is prohibited… 

"Do not be troubled by the sages' permission of a tzaluv's nail or a fox's tooth, for in their day they thought these were the result of experience, and were medical… Anything proven by experience may be practiced, even where logic does not dictate it."

(Rambam, Guide of the Perplexed 3:37)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Children suffering for the sins of their parents?

Hi,

A stark, intellectual view of the way the universe works:

"It is possible, without any impropriety, for chance to cause children to suffer punishment for parental sin; there is no impropriety (עוול) involved, at all. 

"If a person were to sin against the government and they would punish him justly, such that he would lose his wealth, this would cause punishment for his children, who would be paupers and would not inherit anything that they had been due to receive from their father's assets."

(Commentary of Ralbag to Yehoshua 7:1)

Have a good day,
Mordechai

Monday, November 10, 2014

One nation, One body

Hi,

Regarding Yehoshua 7, in which a man named Achan took from the consecrated property of the city of Jericho, and the entire nation suffered as a result:

"All Israel are bound together as one body, such that each individual will relate to the community as a limb of the body relates to the body. Just as illness or destruction of one limb causes illness or a defect in the entire body, so, too, when Achan took from the spoils it was considered as though the entire nation had trespassed."

(Commentary of Malbim to Yehoshua 7:1)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Peace first

Hi,

"We may not declare war upon any human being, anywhere, until we first sue for peace. This applies both to 'authorized wars' and 'obligatory wars,' as it is written, 'And when you come close to a city to fight against it, call to it for peace.' Should they make peace and accept the laws in which Noachides are instructed, we would not kill anyone there. We would collect taxes, as it is written, 'They will pay tribute to you, and they will serve you.'"

(Rambam, Hilchot Melachim 6:1)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Thursday, November 6, 2014

War is for enemies

Hi,

Devarim 23:10 begins, "When you go to war against your enemy". On this, a midrash (Sifri Devarim 190) comments, "You wage war against your enemies."

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch explains:
"The Torah establishes that you will battle only those who show themselves to be your enemy, from whose enmity you have suffered, and from whom you anticipate acts of enmity. Therefore, even should you attack them, you shall only defend yourself. This message rejects all wars of conquest."

(Commentary of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch to Devarim 23:10)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The human responsibility to pursue justice

Hi,

In the seventh chapter of Yehoshua, a Jew has sinned, harming the nation as a whole. Gd does not tell Yehoshua who has sinned; He leaves it for Yehoshua to figure it out. Why?

"The obligation of exposing evil is placed upon Yehoshua, not upon Gd. Although in this situation, had Gd spoken first, then bloodshed would have been avoided, Gd does not remove the responsibility of clarifying truth from Man, and Gd does not become a 'tale-bearer'. It is part of the 'Divine image' in Man, and part of the obligation placed upon him to clarify human falsehood. Until he does this, the price will be very high."

(Rabbi Yuval Sherlo, http://shut.moreshet.co.il/shut2.asp?id=73507)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

On prisoner exchanges, Part 2

Hi,

"Because they will go to war on a mission of the nation and for its sake, to defend the nation dwelling in Zion, there is an unwritten, understood obligation, that the nation will use every means at its disposal – within reasonable boundaries so as not to endanger national security – to redeem them, should they fall captive."

(Rabbi Shaul Yisraeli, Torah sheb'al Peh 17)

Have a good day,
Mordechai

Monday, November 3, 2014

On prisoner exchanges, Part 1

Hi,

"Before the eyes of the determining authority was an additional, important point: the morale of the soldiers of the IDF. When a soldier knows that should he fall captive, the entire State of Israel would stand behind him to free him, he will risk his life in battle without fear."

(Rabbi Chaim David haLevi, Aseh Lecha Rav 7:53)

Have a good day,
Mordechai

Sunday, November 2, 2014

First, do no harm

Hi,

"One is more obligated to be careful not to harm others than to protect himself from harm."

(Tosafot, Bava Kama 23a וליחייב (the second one))

Have a great day,
Mordechai