By Sarah Goldstein
Chodesh Tov v’ Shabbat shalom,
By Sarah Goldstein
Chodesh Tov v’ Shabbat shalom,
By Yehudis Golshevsky
After the death of Sorah Imeinu, the Zohar teaches that her diyokan–her essential persona–remained within her tent, but it lacked a means through which it could become manifest until Yitzchak brought Rivka home as his bride.
By Micha Golshevsky
In this parshah we find that Avraham gave Yitzchak a bris milah when he was eight days old.
When the communists took over Lithuania, Rabbi Yankeleh Galinsky was staying with the local mohel, Reb Aizik. When the head of the KGB came for a visit, Aizik sent Rabbi Yankeleh to the door.
“Is this the house of the man who cuts infants?” What a way to describe milah!
“I think you came to the wrong house.”
“Drey nit kein kup—don’t mess with me!” shouted the officer in Yiddish. “Where is he?!”
Hearing Yiddish, Rav Yankeleh figured it was going to be all right. “Reb Aizik, you can come to the door!”
The mohel came to the door with a very white countenance.
“Are you are the one who makes children Jews?” A much better depiction!
“Listen, we just had a baby boy. My wife keeps dreaming that her father is pushing her to give the child a bris.”
He gave his address.
“Come tomorrow at nine A.M. If all is clear you will see a woman with a basket leaving the house. The only one in our home will be a completely trustworthy maid…”
Reb Aizik said he would be there.
Although this meant he had to skip his regular job, which was dangerous enough, he was willing. The next morning Rav Aizik and his guest waited near the post office, one of the only buildings with a clock. At nine they arrived at the address and saw the woman leaving with the basket as described.
They entered the officer’s home and Reb Aizik performed the bris. As they were leaving the maid gave them a fortune in meal tickets at the better store for officers and the like, which was stocked plentifully and had no lines.
Later on, Rav Yankeleh ran into the baby’s father. “Why did you risk your position to give your son a bris?”
Rav Yankeleh often repeated his reply. “Right now the communists have the upper hand and I must work with them to live. But the Jewish people have survived for three thousand years and will surely outlive them, just like the sun always comes out after a cloudy day. Then it will be an honor to be Jewish. My son must know he is Jewish so that he can find his way home when the time comes.”
By Sarah Goldstein
This week, the Torah tells Avraham, and thereby us לך לך מארצך וממולדתך ומית אביך אל הארץ אשר אראך…
Kindness to Animals
By Rav Micha Golshevsky
In Parshas Noach we find that Noach fed the animals in the ark a full solar year. But why did the flood last so long? The Midrash explains that Noach and his family were spared during the flood in the merit of this perpetual kindness.
The Midrash states that sometimes people are protected in the merit of the animals in their city. This is the meaning of the verse that “Hashem delivers man and beast.”
The Yad Efraim explains a well known halachah with this midrash. “Now we understand why one must feed his animals before himself. Even if a city is wicked its very survival can sometimes be in the merit of the innocent animals who dwell there!”
The Klausenberger Rebbe once remarked. “Our sages say that Hashem has mercy on those who show mercy to the briyos, to Hashem’s creations. It does not say one who has mercy on mankind, but rather on creations or creatures. Showing compassion for one’s animals arouses Hashem’s compassion on us even if we have sinned and are ‘hardly better than animals.’”
Rav David Feigels would carry a sack of different types of foods suitable for different species of birds from one courtyard to the next, just so that he could ensure that the birds were well fed throughout the cold winters. Many people in his area kept fowl, but assumed that they would just forage for themselves throughout the year. The Shomer Emunim would comment about this: “When it starts to freeze and the snow is on the ground, how are the animals and birds to forage? If their owners don’t feed them, and they are confined to their pens or their yards, then one should certainly provide for them!”
The Chazon Ish once spotted a non-kosher animal that had fallen into a deep ditch. The animal tried with all its might to climb out of the rut without success. The gadol was then with a group of people who seemed to look on the situation with resignation. They all just shrugged, as if to say, “What can we do?”
The Chazon Ish truly took the poor animal’s pain to heart. Without waiting for assistance from the others, he approached the pit and lowered himself down into it. Those with him could barely believe their eyes. The Chazon Ish actually carried the animal out of the ditch in his arms to set it free.
By Yael Dworkin
Breishis!! New Year. New Potential. New Beginnings.
We are all invited to create ourselves anew with authentically inspired
originality- to become wholesome, integrated, and complete. Putting away the mirror that only reflects the distortions of past limitations, rather, we are encouraged to look ahead and move forward with the permission to birth our great and holy potential, not yet actualized, not yet revealed. We have G-dly souls. We have that much ability to manifest. Baruch HaShem.
I could end this dvar Torah on this positive uplifting note- but I want to
share something more with you. Something I find oddly and counter
intuitively comforting. A teaching that holds within it the key with the
promise to open for us the way to developing into our holiest most
“And God saw all that He had made, and behold it was very good…”
“Very Good- this is referring to death, the evil inclination, or calamities”
(Medrash Breishit Raba 9:5)
Everything that we consider ‘very bad’ is, in fact, categorically ‘very good’ (!?!). The medrash here is telling us that everything that exists, even the most damaging things in the world has a raison d’etre- a reason for being and a right to exist. All the pain we feel, all our disappointments, heartaches, fears, and losses we suffer are ‘very good’?
Yes. Very Good.
Rav Ashlag ztz”l, in his article called “Peace in the World”, explains:
In all the various classifications that exist in the world we see the law of
gradual development. For instance: before a fruit is ripe and juicy and
sweet, it is bitter. Everything that lives and breathes goes through stages of development that start from an unformed, undeveloped stage to gradually becoming what it was meant to be in its fully actualized form.
Because we understand this fundamental principle of gradual development, we would never consider that a tree baring unripe bitter fruits to be a bad tree- because we understand that the un-ripened fruits simply did not yet complete their growth and development. So too with all matters in existence, when a matter seems bad and harmful to us, this is not a testimony of the matter itself being bad- but rather, it is simply being seen at its transitional developing phase. Everything G-d created in this world is meant to ultimately serve the good in the world. It may not be evident in its transitional phases, but regarding where things are meant to get to- everything is Very Good.
Rav Ashlag ztz”l explains that this is equally true regarding our evil
inclinations. Our bad character traits are to be understood as mere stages in our development- necessary for our developing consciousness. As babies, we are born quite egocentric. It is a necessary stage of development. Developing and growing spiritually means replacing egotism with altruism. But it’s a process. We need healthy egos to start off with if our divine service is going to mean anything. Good has meaning in the context of bad. Transforming undesirable traits to good ones is the ultimate
in divine service. This is not an easy thing to do, as there is much
resistance, pain and suffering by the ego to let go of comfort and self-
serving desires. But the growth pain we go through, as we train ourselves to serve a higher purpose than simply ourselves, is very good because it is meant to take us to the ultimate good- which is dveikus (closeness) with G-d.
The world doesn’t always look to us to be such a good place. There is
death, suffering, calamities. The good news is that these scenarios are not the final chapter of the book. They are simply stages humanity has to go through until we will get to the final ripened stage of it being Very Good, until we will all be ‘very good’, understanding what we are meant to be and do. G-d created the world, but He also gave us the ultimate most complete instruction manual to go with it!
May we merit seeing with our own eyes soon the ultimate good. May we
merit to know to stay bsimcha (utter joy and happiness) when things look
awful, knowing how to develop correctly in the right direction to the Very
Good that was G-d’s intention when creating us and the world- Amen!