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Tazria |  1 Nisan 5776  |  April 9th, 2016  |  Issue 647

Mazal Tov to Orly Zilbershlag, our Office Manager, on the birth of a girl!
Mazal Tov to Pnina and Baruch Weintraub (Toronto 2011-2014) on the birth of a son!

   Rav Gideon Weitzman


Former Rosh Kollel in Kansas City (1998-2000)
Currently Head of the English Speaking Section of the Puah Institute

Purely Connected
   
The Public and the Private

This week's Parshah continues the theme of the Book of Vayikra that is also called Torat Cohanim, the laws related to the Cohanim and the Temple service. Someone who wants to enter into the Temple compound or to consume sacrifices has to be tahor, pure. And so Tazria deals with the intricate and complex laws of who is pure and who is impure and is barred from entering the Temple.

However the Parshah opens up discussing the impurity of the postpartum woman. "A woman who gives seed and bears a son, she shall be impure for seven days like the impurity of menstruation". These two examples, giving birth and menstruation, take us out of the Temple and bring us right back to our homes, to our bodies, to the intimate areas of our lives.

It appears that the Torah is teaching a lesson by starting the discussion of purity and impurity at home, in the private arena, and only subsequently connecting them to the Temple. Other examples of impurity are also personal and private, such as ejaculation, death and the skin blemishes that we will read about next week.
To really understand the Torah's message we have to examine the deeper meaning of the terms purity and impurity.

 
Purity as Connection

Often we mistakenly assume that purity and impurity are synonymous with cleanliness or the opposite; being dirty. Yet this is clearly not the case as impurity exists in these private areas that are not immediately associated with being clean or dirty.

Rather impurity comes when one is disconnected from God. The closer we are connected to God the more we have a sense of taharah, or purity. That is why one who comes to the Temple needs to be pure. Simply coming to the Temple is a physical act but it conveys a much deeper message of connection with God. The word korban, sacrifice, comes from the word karov, meaning close, and the sacrifices are a medium by which we can draw close to God. To do so we need to be pure and in doing so we enhance our own purity.
The closest thing to God is life itself; in fact living and preserving life takes halachic precedence over almost all of the Torah itself. God declares that life itself is the dearest thing in His world and the holiest entity that there is.
The opposite of life causes the ultimate impurity. Death and a dead body are the epitome of tumah and cause anyone to become impure even if they had indirect contact with the corpse; for example, if they were in the same building as a dead person.
 

The Living Torah

So why is a woman who gives birth impure? In his recent book on miscarriage, Rabbi Avraham Stav brings a moving and inspiring essay by Rabbi Yitzchak Zilberstein. He describes the wonder of the period of pregnancy during which a woman is usually pure for several months. The woman harvests life within her and this life that grows brings with it purity. Rabbi Zilberstein describes the woman as though she is carrying a Torah scroll in her womb and she is like the Ark in the synagogue that contains the most holy thing that we have today, the Torah scroll. In the same way that the Torah scroll does not and cannot become impure so too the pregnant woman has a long period of purity due to her elevated and special status. This is a wonderful time for the expecting parents that carries with it great hope and often a considerable amount of trepidation due to the tremendous responsibility that they feel by having been given this great gift of life.

What happens when the woman delivers the baby? This purity, sanctity and life leaves her body and a vacuum is created. Since there is no spiritual vacuum when the life leaves her she becomes somewhat detached from that life and this leaves her impure for a certain time period.

This is a result of the elevated status that she had during the pregnancy and the spiritual heights that she attained by her ability to nurture life.

There is another message here as well; purity and impurity are natural and part of the circle of life. We need not fear them but recognize the cycle that occurs for each person. So too in our relationship with God, we have times when we are closer and times when we feel further apart, detached and less connected. This need not frighten us but we must be conscious of this ebb and flow in our relationship with Him, to embrace the times of proximity that give us strength to overcome the times of distance and estrangement.

Shabbat Shalom. 

TMT Spotlight:
Zeev Schwartz visits
South Africa
Johannesburg
Over twenty years ago the vision of  Religious Zionist Batei Midrash with shlichim from Israel was born. The underlying need was the reality that there was no venue for continued learning Torah for those returning from their Gap Year in Israel. Those seeking high level learning turned to Charedi institutions, but there was no continuation of the Israeli and Zionist experience. Thus "Torah MiTzion" was formed - a Religious Zionist revolution. Why did it all start in Johannesburg? That is the city where I grew up, and where I chose to become religious. It served as the basis for my thinking, to analyze the situation and alternatives and to ultimately create a functioning model for a solution, which still operates today - the Torah MiTzion Kollel.

The first Zionist Kollel to open within this framework was established in Memphis, Tennessee. Since then, the phenomenon has spread like wildfire and within a few years we started about 18 Kollels worldwide.

The Johannesburg Kollel was established 18 years ago, and has since gone through many changes until it reached its current successful model under the leadership of Rabbi Shlomo Glicksberg. The Beit Midrash, known as the Beit Mordechai Campus Kollel, is located in the Mizrachi Shul in Glenhazel, where Averichim, dozens of boys and girls returning from their year in Israel, high school aged Bnei Akiva members, college students and Ba'alei Batim learn daily.

The focus of my visit was to strengthen the connection between Jerusalem and Johannesburg, to examine ways of working together and to meet with the Kollel leadership, the Mizrachi and "Yeshiva College" (the school I learned in as a student).

During the visit in Johannesburg we explored the option of expanding the Kollel's activity to nearby cities. I met with Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein in order to strengthen our partnership and discuss implementing the Global Shabbat Project in Torah MiTzion centers worldwide. 

Cape Town
Amazing place. Amazing people. 21 years of impact and success.

There is a sentence that describes the uniqueness and beauty of this city: "When God created Cape Town, He was in a good mood." The city also attracts unique people - each time it is exciting to see the dedication of community members to the Herzlia School, various synagogues, and the Kollel. The "Yeshiva of Cape Town" was established over 21 years ago by Rabbi Jonathan Glass, who conceived, pushed and established the model that has become integral to the evolution of Torah MiTzion.

For 20 years, the Kollel was located in the Arthur's Road Shul, known as Beit Midrash Morasha. The highlight of the Kollel was the broad spectrum of Chavrutot with community members, which expanded to other synagogues in the nearby communities of Clermont, Milnerton, Camps Bay and more.

A year ago, the Kollel moved to the Marais Road Shul in order to enhance and expand their impact. The focus of my visit was to meet the leadership of the Synagogue - Rabbi Weinberg and Rabbi Hecht, and of course to meet with the director of Herzlia Schools, Jeff Cohen and his team.

Today there are four Torah MiTzion Bachurim who divide their time between informal education in the Herzliya Schools, Limud Torah, chavrutot and special activities around the holidays - Eliya Fuks, Aharon Shoklink, Netanel Miness and Daniel Halle.
Around The World
Last Parent Child Learning (PCL) of the year in Memphis
TMT Moscow's community-wide
Purim party
Friday Tisch and Kahoot with 10th grade boys in Montreal
Sunday BBQ with the Torah MiTzion Washington bachurim
ISRAtag

     Arik Speaker                                   In cooperation with:


'Lilmod' Coordinator and Head of  European Desk in Torah MiTzion

The synagogue named after Rabbi Judah HaChassid, most commonly known as the "The Churva" (ruin), is above all a symbol of Jewish life in the Old City of Jerusalem during the recent centuries.

There is no absolute clarity regarding the early history of the synagogue. What is certain is that the synagogue was founded by a group of Lithuanian Jews, led by Rabbi Judah HaChassid, and was probably the first Ashkenazi synagogue in Jerusalem.

The very construction of the synagogue needed quite a bit of siyata deshma'ya, since according to the Ottoman law it was forbidden for Jews to buy land in Jerusalem, let alone to build new synagogues.

Rabbi Judah HaChassid died unexpectedly shortly after his arrival in the Holy Land, and the construction left heavy debts on the small Ashkenazi community, which ultimately led to their expulsion from the city and the destruction of the synagogue. Ashkenazim thereafter had to "dress up" as Sephardic Jews so that they could enter the city. Only some 150 years later the Vilna Gaon's disciples who had come to settle in Jerusalem payed the debts and completed the construction of the synagogue. The construction was completed in 1864. The synagogue, which was designed by a Muslim architect and has many similarities to a mosque, was then considered one of the most prestigious of the country.

Rav Kook served as president of the synagogue before he was named Chief Rabbi.

The Aron Kodesh seen in the previous bulletin is an accurate restoration of the original Aron which arrived from Ukraine and was built by Jewish soldiers in the Czar's army. The Aron has two floors, the top tier being designated for unusable Torah scrolls.

During the War of Independence, even before the fall of the Jewish Quarter, the Jordanian Legion blew-up the synagogue completely, something which they believed would symbolize the end of Jewish history in the Old City. After the Six-Day War conquest the synagogue was not rebuilt and only only at the beginning of the 21st century the government decided on an exact reconstruction of the original synagogue. Today the synagogue is again a central point in the city, with hundreds of worshipers, learners and visitors.

 

Yasher Koach to 

Rabbi Ari Enkin
 
for providing the
correct answer

       

 Where was this photo taken?


Please send answers to -
 arik@torahmitzion.org


The answer, further information about this location, as well as the first person to recognize this site will be 
published in next week's edition.

 

Torah MiTzion was established in 1995 with the goal of strengthening Jewish communities around the globe and infusing them with love for Torah, the Jewish People and the State of Israel.

Over the past twenty years, Torah MiTzion's shlichim have inspired and enriched their host communities through high impactful formal and informal educational programs.

Like https://www.facebook.com/ShlichutTorahMitzion/?fref=ts on Facebook

In cooperation with :

Our friend Benjy Singer has a very useful website,  www.israelk.org, which contains accurate and fresh information of what's going on in the Religious Anglo Community in Israel.