Friday, January 31, 2020

Dvar Torah & Podcast for Parshas Bo


       Parshas Bo contains some important benchmarks in Jewish History. Most importantly, it is when we left Mitzrayim, officially beginning the process of becoming the chosen nation of Hashem. But there’s also a very important first, the first mitzvah given to Bnei Yisrael.
       This mitzvah was Rosh Chodesh; we must be aware of when the moon renews itself each month, and declare that day of renewal the first of the month. This is a very important mitzvah as the start of the different Yomim Tovim is dependent on the timing of the first of the month. In fact, this mitzvah is extra special because it places this timing in our hands. This is as opposed to Shabbos which is always the seventh day of the week, a timing determined by Hashem by Creation. When it comes to Yom Tov, only we the people can say when the holiday will fall out.
       The Ramban gives a quick and interesting idea regarding the months of the year. When it comes to the names of the days of the week, in Judaism, we simply refer to them as the number day it is in the weekly cycle. While the Western world has adopted meaningful names behind each day, they are all names after various planets and/or gods, we have kept simple names. We call them First Day, Second Day, etc. However, when it comes to the months, each one has a specific name. Nissan, Iyar, Sivan; these are all names with real translations and explanations behind them. What’s the difference between the months and the days of the week?
       The Ramban explains that originally, the months were counted the same way as the days. The pasuk states that the month at the time the mitzvah of Rosh Chodesh was given, what we now know as the month of Nissan, would be the beginning of the months (See Shemos 12:2). What exactly does it mean to be the beginning of the months? The first assumption would be it’s the first month of the year. But we know that the Jewish year doesn’t begin in Nissan, it begins in Tishrei, the seventh month. So that can’t be it.
       Rather, explains the Ramban, it’s the first of the months from when we left Mitzrayim. This seminal event in Jewish history wouldn’t mark the beginning of time (which would place Nissan as the beginning of the year), but it would be marked. The months would be counted as beginning from this important moment.
       So what changed? Since nowadays the months all have specific names, we obviously changed that custom. Why did it change? Even more interestingly, the names we use for the months are not even of Hebrew origins! This last point is the key to this mystery.
       As we explained, the mitzvah to count months was given to us as we prepared to leave Mitzrayim. As such, we began to count the months from that vital moment. However, sadly, that was not the last time we left our Land for exile in our history. Many years later, after the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, the Jewish People were exiled to Bavel. And when we returned from that exile, we began to count the months from that moment, same as we had when we left Mitzrayim. As the pasuk says, “לָכֵן הִנֵּה יָמִים בָּאִים נְאֻם יְהוָה וְלֹא יֵאָמֵר עוֹד חַי יְהוָה אֲשֶׁר הֶעֱלָה אֶת  בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם. כִּי אִם חַי יְהוָה אֲשֶׁר הֶעֱלָה אֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מֵאֶרֶץ צָפוֹן" “Therefore, behold, days are coming, says Hashem, and it shall no longer be said, ‘Hashem lives, Who brought the children of Yisrael up from the land of Egypt.’ Rather, ‘Hashem lives, Who brought up the children of Yisrael from the land of the north…” (Yirmiyahu 16:14-15). This idea manifested itself in the names of the months. We dropped the simple names and adopted Babylonian names for each month. This allows us to remember the fact that we were exiled there and Hashem fulfilled His promise and brought us back to Eretz Yisrael; in the same way the original names served as a constant reminder and commemoration of how we left Egypt.
       As we remain now in the aftermath of our second exile from Eretz Yisrael, we have kept the names we adopted from Bavel. However, when we are redeemed, we will once again change the names of the months to commemorate the great promise that Hashem will fulfill, and the great kindness He will show in so doing. May it be speedily in our days.
Shabbat Shalom!



Click here to listen this this week's Podcast (Also available on Apple Podcasts) 


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Friday, January 17, 2020

A Quick Update from AIMeM Torah

Hey Everyone!
Don't worry, we are well aware how long it's been since we updated this page. We appreciate your patience and your continued support for Aimem Torah. We are still planning on using this space for great original divrei Torah in the future. But even if the divrei Torah are not appearing here, they are still being sent out to our email subscribers! Subscribe by emailing us at aimemtorah@gmail.com, don't miss out on our great divrei Torah still being disseminated weekly.
In the meantime, please peruse our archives on this site, as well as the podcasts, which can be found on iTunes and at hashkafahandook.com.

We look forward to sharing many divrei Torah together with you in the future!

Have a wonderful Shabbos!

Friday, July 5, 2019

Summer Vacation for AIMeM Torah

Dear Readers, 
We will be taking the next few weeks off for summer vacation, but that doesnt mean you won't get your weekly dvar Torah! Make sure to check your email each week for a dvar Torah and Podcast for the weekly parsha. We will return, b'ezrat Hashem, with brand new divrei Torah in August.
In the meantime, make sure to check out our archives for divrei Torah and podcasts on all the upcoming parshiyos.
If any readers would like to take this opportunity to write/record a dvar Torah for use on our site, please contact us and we'll make it happen!
Have a wonderful Summer and a great Shabbos!


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AIMeM

Friday, June 28, 2019

Dvar Torah & Podcast for Parshas Korach


       Parshas Korach tells the well-known story of the rebellion of Korach against Moshe Rabbeinu. His issue is simple, in a nation like Bnei Yisrael where each person had experienced holiness and was considered to be on a high spiritual level, he and his followers felt that why should only one person be Kohen Gadol and represent the nation spiritually like Aharon did (and his sons to a lesser extent). Korach’s assumption was flawed; the holiness of the nation didn’t necessarily translate into full access to every spiritual portal, places such as the Kodesh Hakedoshim remained off-limits to everyone. And there were other reasons why Aharon and his children were picked to be the representatives in the Mishkan and later the Beis Hamikdash. (We have discussed some of these reasons in previous years.) Ultimately, regardless of his arguments, Korach was not pure of heart in his arguments, and he and his followers were killed.
       The remainder of the parsha spends time establishing Aharon as the proper Kohen, and discussing some remaining laws of Kehunah. As part of this, Hashem reviews with Moshe some of the gifts that go to the Kohanim, such as the Bikkurim, the firstborn of all animals, as well as the standard Terumos from the produce of the fields.
       The purpose of reviewing all these ideas is to solidify the role the Kohanim play in Jewish society. The pasuk uses an interesting way to show the eternal nature of this role. “כֹּ֣ל | תְּרוּמֹ֣ת הַקֳּדָשִׁ֗ים אֲשֶׁ֨ר יָרִ֥ימוּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֘ לַֽיהֹוָה֒ נָתַ֣תִּי לְךָ֗ וּלְבָנֶ֧יךָ וְלִבְנֹתֶ֛יךָ אִתְּךָ֖ לְחָק־עוֹלָ֑ם בְּרִית֩ מֶ֨לַח עוֹלָ֥ם הִוא֙“All the gifts of the holy which are set aside by the children of Yisrael for Hashem I have given to you and to your sons and daughters with you, as an eternal portion; it is like an eternal covenant of salt…” (Bamidbar 18:19).
       Let’s focus on the end of our quoted pasuk; Hashem calls the promise of these gifts an eternal bris. It becomes a treaty, a promise, between Hashem and the Kohanim (really the entire nation) that lasts eternally with no conditions or revocability. But then, He calls it a bris of salt. What does salt have to do with anything? While we do find a treaty with salt elsewhere in the Torah, that is an actual treaty with salt, that it should always be brought with every korban on the mizbe’ach. That is not the reference here.
       Every commentary in our pasuk believes this is not meant to refer to actual salt, but rather, the treaty is similar to salt. Salt is the ultimate preservative. Especially in times not too long ago where there was no refrigeration, salt was one of, if not the most important item you could have. It kept everything fresh and healthy, it never spoils. And perhaps most importantly for our parabolic purposes, salt sinks into whatever it is applied to, becoming a part of the food and enhancing it in a way that brings out and preserves its finest taste.
       So too is the relationship between Hashem and the Kohanim. While every Jew has direct access to Hashem if they choose to make use of it, the direct conduit in this world between man and God is the Kohen. He is the salt between us and Hashem; the one who preserves the freshness, keeps us healthy, and eventually brings out our greatest taste in order that our connection to Hashem remains as strong as ever.

Shabbat Shalom!


Click here for last year's Dvar Torah  & Podcast for Parshas Korach

Click here to listen this this week's Podcast (Also available on Apple Podcasts)

For any questions, comments, or to subscribe to our email list, please email is at AIMeMtorah@gmail.com.

Please Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter: @aimemtorah

Don't forget to check out hashkafahandbook.com to learn about my book,Reality Check. And Like it on Facebook.

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AIMeM

Friday, June 21, 2019

Dvar Torah & Podcast for Parshas Shelach


       Parshas Shelach brings us to the tragedy of the Meraglim, the twelve spies sent ahead of the nation to scout out Eretz Yisrael. But instead of the trip being just a formality before Bnei Yisrael arrived, the spies returned with negative reports, burying the goodness of the Land under stories of giants, fortified cities, and dangerous terrain. Even after everything they had heard from Hashem about how great the Land was, the nation believed the spies and refused to enter Eretz Yisrael. In return for this lack of faith, they were forced to spend forty years wandering in the desert, a year for each day the Meraglim traveled, and none of the adults alive at the time made it to Eretz Yisrael.
       All, that is, except for two men, two of the Meraglim themselves in fact. Only these two were willing to stand up and say the truth, that Eretz Yisrael was exactly as wonderful as they had been told. These two men were Calev, representing the tribe of Yehuda, and Yehoshua, representing the tribe of Efraim. These men are well-known to us; Calev was Moshe’s brother-in-law, and one of the greatest men of his generation. His leadership was integral when Bnei Yisrael finally made it to Eretz Yisrael. And Yehoshua was Moshe’s prize pupil and his successor as the leader of the nation after Moshe’s death. The Torah tells us that they weren’t even the two greatest of the Meraglim! However, their faith in Hashem and willingness to stand up for the truth showed them to be the cream of the crop of their generation.
       As the pesukim describe the spies’ journey throughout Eretz Yisrael, one has an interesting language choice. “"וַיַּֽעֲל֣וּ בַנֶּ֘גֶב֘ וַיָּבֹ֣א עַד־חֶבְרוֹן֒ וְשָׁ֤ם אֲחִימָן֙ שֵׁשַׁ֣י וְתַלְמַ֔י יְלִידֵ֖י הָֽעֲנָ֑ק “They went up in the South, and he came to Chevron, and there were…the descendants of the giant” (Bamidbar 13:22). The pasuk begins by saying that the group as a whole began in the South, traveling north, but when they get to Chevron, all of a sudden, only one of them is there! What happened?
       The classic explanation given by Chazal is that Calev traveled there alone. At this point, the other spies had already planned on lying to the nation about the true state of Eretz Yisrael, and as with every peer group, but especially one comprised of the greatest people of the generation, there was a tremendous amount of pressure to comply. Calev went to Chevron to daven by the Avos at Me’aras Hamachpela for the strength to stand up to the mob and tell the truth. For this effort, he was rewarded by having the city awarded to him as part of his personal portion in Eretz Yisrael.
       Rav Hirsh finds a difficulty with this explanation. If we look a little further in the pesukim, when the spies return from their mission, they say, “וְגַם־יְלִדֵ֥י הָֽעֲנָ֖ק רָאִ֥ינוּ שָֽׁם“and there we saw the offspring of giants” (ibid: 28). (Further reference is made to giants in pasuk 33.) The only reference to giants on their mission is in our earlier pasuk, pasuk 22, which says the giants were in Chevron. If only Calev went to Chevron, how can all the spies claim to have seen the giants?
       Therefore, Rav Hirsh explains it slightly differently. In fact, all the spies went on their mission with pure hearts and minds, with no thoughts of rebellion on their minds. And because they all went with pure intentions, the pasuk says “וַיָּבֹ֣א”, in the singular, to demonstrate how much they were of one mind on the subject. But once they got to Chevron and saw those giants, everything changed. Doubts and fear started taking over their minds, and they began to plan how they would lie to the nation. Upon seeing this shift, Calev made a beeline for the Me’aras Hamachpela to daven to the Avos that he should be strong against their influence. It was because of this decisive action and commitment to his tradition and faith that Calev received Chevron as part of his portion.

Shabbat Shalom!





Click here to listen to this week's Podcast (Also available on Apple Podcasts)

For any questions, comments, or to subscribe to our email list, please email us at AIMeMTorah@gmail.com.

Please Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter: @aimemtorah

Don't forget to check out hashkafahandbook.com to learn about my book,Reality Check. And Like it on Facebook.

Don't forget to check out the Dvar Torah on parshasheets.com!

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AIMeM

Friday, June 14, 2019

Dvar Torah & Podcast for Parshas Bahaloscha


       Parshas Behaloscha ends with the story of Miriam being stricken with tzara’as. After questioning if some of Moshe’s actions were actually commands from Hashem or simply his own personal stringencies, Hashem gives Miriam tzara’as as punishment for her lashon hara against her brother. Following her accusation, the Torah writes one of the most famous pesukim in the entire book, “"וְהָאִ֥ישׁ משֶׁ֖ה עָנָ֣יו מְאֹ֑ד מִכֹּל֙ הָאָדָ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל־פְּנֵ֥י הָֽאֲדָמָֽה “The man, Moshe, was exceedingly humble, more so than any other person on the face of the earth” (Bamidbar 12:3). The reason for this pasuk being placed here is in direct response to Miriam’s claim; Moshe’s humility was his chief attribute, and in this manner, as well as many others, he was the greatest man alive. It was simply ridiculous to suspect such a man could ever act in seeming contradiction to the word of Hashem; which he was privileged to hear directly from Hashem’s mouth.
       But what exactly made Moshe the most humble man alive? Well, first, let’s try to define humility. A common explanation for humble is someone who doesn’t try to make himself into an important person, someone who acts with deference to those around him. In fact, the dictionary definition is someone who acts with submission. Two stories in the Torah concerning Moshe don’t seem to reflect these definitions of humility. One story is the first conversation between Moshe and Hashem at the Burning Bush. Hashem continually asks Moshe to be the leader and savior the Bnei Yisrael need to take them out of Mitzrayim, and Moshe keeps refusing the position; until, Hashem stops asking and tells Moshe that he needs to be the one.
       If we examine this story and compare it to our definition of humility, it seems that Moshe did exactly what he was supposed to do! He tried to stay out of the spotlight, refused any drop of honor offered to him, and only took it when it was literally forced upon him. This must be the source of his humility! Actually, Chazal teach us that Moshe was wrong to refuse Hashem, and was actually punished for his hesitation in that he lost the chance to be the Kohen Gadol. So, not only is this story the opposite of what we thought, Chazal teach us that losing out on the additional honor of being the Kohen Gadol was a punishment! So far, it doesn’t seem as if our definition is correct.
       A second instance in the Torah where you see Moshe connected with humility is our pasuk here. The Torah that we have was dictated by Hashem Himself and written over by Moshe word for word exactly as he heard it. That includes this pasuk! Can you imagine how difficult it was for a humble man like Moshe to have to write that he was the most humble man alive? For a truly humble person, it must have been torture! And yet, we find no record, in the Written or Oral Torah, that Moshe had any difficulty with this sentence like he did with the conversation by the Bush. How could this be? Perhaps we need to reevaluate our definition of humility.
       Humility is not about staying away from the limelight or being submissive to those around you. That, in fact, is the opposite of humility. We are all given tremendous abilities from Hashem to accomplish many things throughout our lives. These abilities allow us to do some things poorly, some things well, and some things extremely well; this last group is what we usually refer to as our talents. To use our talents in the right way and for the right purpose is enjoyable for ourselves, but at the same time, it’s our way of showing Hashem how much we appreciate the gifts He has given us. To refuse a talent is to show-up Hashem, as if to say, ‘I don’t need your gifts!’ Simply doing what we are good at is a way of serving Hashem!
       At the same time, we must realize that our talents are not our own, they are gifts from Hashem. So we have no reason to use them as sources of arrogance, after all, we didn’t become these people just through our own efforts! Furthermore, we must recognize that we were given these gifts for a reason. Everyone is unique, Hashem chose you above the billions of other people in the world to use this talent. If you don’t use it in the best way possible, then why do you even deserve it? Therefore, it’s our responsibility and mission to go about using our talents to further Hashem’s plan in this world; in whatever way that may be.
       This is the true definition of humility, recognizing the greatness and uniqueness that lives within you and how that makes you an incredible being. While at the same time, understanding the responsibility placed upon you to make the best use of your greatness and how arrogance is pointless when the greatness didn’t originate with you.
       We can now understand the stories of Moshe. By the Bush, Moshe was refusing to use his greatness in the way Hashem intended, to save the Jewish People. Therefore, Hashem was upset with him. But when it comes to our pasuk, Moshe did exactly what he was supposed to do. Humility is an important attribute, one that we must all make a part of ourselves. Who better to learn it from than the best! Hashem wanted everyone to know that Moshe was the most humble man alive in order that we should study his actions and learn what true humility is (besides for the fact that it was true, Moshe was the most humble, and he couldn’t exactly argue truths like he could argue about mission at the Burning Bush). Knowing this fact, we can go back and examine Moshe’s life to understand what true humility is, and that is exactly what we have done this week.

Shabbat Shalom!   
      
Click here for last year's Dvar Torah for Parshas Bahaloscha

Click here for this week's Podcast




For any questions, comments, or to subscribe to our email list, please email us at AIMeMTorah@gmail.com.

Please Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter: @aimemtorah

Don't forget to check out hashkafahandbook.com to learn about my book,Reality Check. And Like it on Facebook.

Don't forget to check out the Dvar Torah on parshasheets.com!

Check out our other AIMeMTorah project, Nation's Wisdom!



AIMeM

Friday, June 7, 2019

Dvar Torah & Podcast for Parshas Nasso


       Parshas Nasso continues the theme begun in Parshas Bamidbar with the setting up of the society of the Jewish People. After discussing the order of encampment in last week’s parsha, this week we move on to the consecration of the Mishkan, the literal and figurative center of Jewish life in the desert. Over the course of twelve days, the nassi of each shevet had the opportunity to bring a korban consisting of silver, incense, animals, and other items. And upon the completion of the twelve days, the Mishkan was open and ready for business.
       In the parsha immediately preceding the korbanos of the Nesi’im, we are introduced to one of the most famous blessings in Judaism, the Birkas Kohanim, the series of three blessings given by the Kohanim to the Bnei Yisrael. The brachos go as follows, “יְבָרֶכְךָ יְהוָה וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ. יָאֵר יְהוָה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וִיחֻנֶּךָּ. יִשָּׂא יְהוָה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם"  “May the Lord bless you and watch over you. May the Lord cause His countenance to shine to you and favor you. May the Lord raise His countenance toward you and grant you peace.” (Bamidbar 6:24-26). There are many ideas bound into these blessings, which are perhaps the most special blessings we have in Judaism.
       The Kli Yakar mentions several ideas, two of which we will focus on this week. The first is how each bracha seems to indicate an even closer relationship level with Hashem. In the first bracha, He promises to watch over us, in the way any sworn protector will watch over his charge. In the next bracha, it says Hashem will shine His face towards us; meaning, not only will we have the protection of Hashem, but we will have that (figurative) face-to-face connection that is appropriate of close relationships. Finally, Hashem will lift His face towards us, meaning, He holds us above even Himself, and dedicates Himself to our well-being.
       The second point to focus on is why the korbanos of the Nesi’im immediately follow these brachos. The Kli Yakar explains that it all comes down to the conclusion of Birkas Kohanim, the culmination of all three brachos, the final mention of peace. These brachos show us the path Hashem will lay for us on the road to complete blessing, ending with peace, the greatest blessing of all. Without peace, the Birkas Kohanim is incomplete. Therefore, the immediate narrative is that of the Nesi’im bringing their korbanos, which exemplified peace among the tribes. Without any signs of jealousy or competition, each Nasi took their own day to consecrate the Mishkan, and even brought the same exact korban! They felt no need to outdo the other. They showcased the commitment of the entire nation to establishing the Mishkan, a home for Hashem among them, built on complete unity.

Shabbat Shalom!


Click here to listen this this week's Podcast (Also available on Apple Podcasts)


For any questions, comments, or to subscribe to our email list, please email us at AIMeMTorah@gmail.com.

Please Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter: @aimemtorah

Don't forget to check out hashkafahandbook.com to learn about my book,Reality Check. And Like it on Facebook.

Don't forget to check out the Dvar Torah on parshasheets.com!

Check out our other AIMeMTorah project, Nation's Wisdom!



AIMeM