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!


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

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

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



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.

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



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!

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



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

Friday, May 31, 2019

Dvar Torah & Podcast for Parshas Bamidbar


       After receiving the Torah and setting up the culture and society of the Bnei Yisrael is Sefers Shemos and Vayikra, Sefer Bamidbar begins the process of the nation traveling to Eretz Yisrael. And what better way for the Sefer to begin than to describe the camping method. The Torah details exactly how the nation camped and traveled, the process that the nation went through to shift from camping mode to traveling mode, the formation of the tribe during these, even the exact order that they traveled in, as directed by Hashem to Moshe.
       They encamped in a box formation, three tribes together on each side, with the Mishkan in the middle surrounded by Shevet Levi. The tribes of Yehuda, Yissachar, and Zevulun were together in front (on the eastern side). Reuven, Shimon, and Gad on their right, to the south of the Mishkan. In the back to the west were Efraim, Menashe, and Binyamin. To the north on the left side of the formation were Dan, Asher, and Naftali. Chazal tell us that Yaakov Avinu determined this formation. When he died, he instructed his sons to position themselves in this manner when they carried his body for burial in Eretz Yisrael. What was the reason for this formation? Why were these specific tribes paired up with each other and why on those specific sides?
       Rav Hirsh gives an explanation in his classic manner. Let’s begin with the front group. Each of the three shevatim on that side figured prominently in the material and spiritual success of the nation. Yehuda was the royal tribe, Yissachar was responsible for constant Torah study, and Zevulun was the most prominent commercial tribe. (All these ideas are found in their blessings given to them by Yaakov in Bereishis 49, and brought into reality through the remainder of NaCH.) So right at the front of the nation were the most vital pieces to their survival, the ruling party, Torah study, and financial support.
       The two side groups each contained an important factor in the protection of the nation. The tribes of Shimon and Gad were known as fierce warriors, and Reuven was known for having a softer character. These traits balanced each other out, and allowed this group to be the physical protectors of the nation. Dan, Asher, and Naftali were all known for traits that would help grow and develop the culture of the nation. Dan was known for quick thinking, Asher for refined taste, and Naftali for eloquence. (As we mentioned before, these characteristics are all based on Yaakov’s blessings to his children in Bereishis 49.)
       When it comes to the back group, Rav Hirsh admits that it’s not as clear to him as the others. However, he focuses on the bracha Yaakov gave Menashe and Efraim in Bereishis 48 that they should both become great and mighty tribes. This greatness and might was why they camped opposite Yehuda, not just practically as extra protection in the rear of the group, but symbolically as well. Later on in history, the tribes of Yosef would break away from the Kingdom of Yehuda, denying his leadership of Bnei Yisrael. Instead of complementing Yehuda with their greatness, they instead tried to tear his greatness away from him. Therefore, they were positioned opposite him in the back.
       Similarly, the first King of Yisrael, Shaul, was from the tribe of Binyamin. Even though he didn’t steal any kingdom from Yehuda as there was no king yet in his day, because Binyamin did produce a king, perhaps that’s why they was placed in this same grouping.

Shabbat Shalom!   


Click here for last year's Dvar Torah for Parshas Bamidbar

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.

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



AIMeM

Friday, May 24, 2019

Dvar Torah & Podcast for Parshas Bechukosai

Please be aware: Due to the eighth day of Pesach falling out on Shabbos, Eretz Yisrael and CHU"L will be one parsha off for the next several weeks. 



       One of the central beliefs in Judaism is the belief in Olam Haba, the World To Come. This is the belief that beyond this physical world in which we currently reside, there is a spiritual realm where our souls will spend eternity. It is there where we will receive our spiritual reward for our actions done in this world. And because it is a basic tenant of Judaism, the question commonly arises, how come Olam Haba is not mentioned in the Torah?
       While it is never mentioned explicitly, the meforshim have several explanations as to where we see Olam Haba hinted to in the Torah. One of them is found in this week’s parshah; “וְהִתְהַלַּכְתִּי בְּתוֹכְכֶם וְהָיִיתִי לָכֶם לֵאלֹהִים…” “I will walk among you, I will be a God to you…” (Vayikra 26:12). Rashi explains that when Hashem says He will walk among us, it must be referring to a place where there can actually be a concept of God walking, and not simply the Torah using anthropomorphic language to help us relate to Him. This could only be the spiritual realm of Olam Haba.
       If this is true, the question still remains: if Olam Haba really is one of the our most important beliefs, why did the Torah not tell us straight out that it exists? The Kli Yakar brings seven answers commentators have used to answer this question. We have discussed some of these answers in previous years, here are several more.
       The Ibn Ezra in Parshas Ha’azinu (Devarim 32:39) explains that while the Torah was given to each and every Jew, because of the depth of ideas behind Olam Haba, it can only be understood by one in every few thousand people. Similarly, explains the Ramban, all the ideas mentioned in Parshas Bechukosai seem to be simple acts of nature, however, when a person looks into these ideas with an open mind, it’s easy to see that they are nothing of the sort. For example, the Torah promises that if Bnei Yisrael keep to the Torah, they will have rain at very specific times (see Vayikra 26:4 Rashi). This is not a natural idea in the slightest. However, when a person reaches a certain spiritual level, their Neshama begins to have a certain effect on their physical surroundings. And a natural occurrence of rain can become a highly spiritual event. So the Torah doesn’t have to talk about Olam Haba since if your Neshama reaches that level it’s supposed to reach, it will become obvious to you through the increased spirituality surrounding your actions that there must be a world beyond this physical one.
       The Ran gives a different answer. In those days, and frankly nowadays as well, most people did not believe in Hashgacha Pratis, Divine Providence. Either they believed in predetermined destiny or that Hashem completely left this world after creation. So in this Parshah, Hashem wants to show that people who do good will be rewarded, or the opposite, in this world where everyone can see the results. If He left complete reward and punishment for Olam Haba, it would be impossible for anyone to guarantee that there actually is reward and punishment. Therefore, the Torah doesn’t even mention it.  
       Finally, the Ramban in Devarim (11:13) explains that when deciding on whether to reward or punish the world at large, Hashem looks at the actions of the world as a whole. In those cases, even wicked people receive the good with the righteous and the righteous receive the evil with the wicked. However, the reward of Olam Haba is based on an individual’s performance. Therefore, it has no direct reference in the Torah. However, it is referenced by other mitzvos such as honoring your parents, which are individual-based actions.

Chazak Chazak V’Nischazek!

Shabbat Shalom!




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.

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



AIMeM