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Bereshit |  27 Tishrei 5776  |  October 10th, 2015  |  Issue 620

Mazal Tov to Moshe Sigel (Sydney 2014-5) on his engagement to Leora Posniak of Sydney!
Dedicated in memory of Rav Eitam and Na'ama Henkin z"l
 

   Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger


Former Shaliach in Boca Raton (1999-2007)
Currently Executive Director and Community Rabbinic Scholar of Dallas Kollel

Parshat Bereshit - Too Much of a Good Thing

 
At the conclusion of God’s creation of man in this week’s Torah portion, the first Torah portion of the year, a blessing is bestowed upon humanity by our Creator: “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.” We are given dominion over the entire universe to build, mold, construct, harness, and conquer. Humankind is made partner with God to continue where the Creator left off, to improve living conditions, to exploit natural resources, and to create wealth and prosperity.
 
But nothing is so simple. There are limits. Almost all good things are a two-edged swords. The very last weekly portion of the Torah, which we concluded only a few short days ago, warns us against going overboard in our cultivation of riches and luxury.
 
Moments before his death, Moses encourages the Jewish People: “Thus Israel shall dwell secure, solitary, the fountain of Jacob, in a land of grain and wine; even his heavens shall drip with dew”. This blessing cannot but remind us of an earlier blessing in the Book of Genesis. Isaac blesses his son Jacob, who will also carry the name Israel, with the following words: “And may God grant you of the dew of the heavens and of the fatness of the land, and abundant grain and wine” (Genesis 27:28). The echo of Isaac’s blessing that we hear in the words of Moses cannot but be intentional. So if Moses repeated the words of his forefather and proclaimed that the patriarch’s wishes will indeed one day be brought to fruition, why does Moses omit the central concept of the patriarch Isaac’s vision? Why does Moses make no mention of fatness and abundance?
 
The key to the answer is to be located in a fundamental difference of perspective between Moses and God. You see, the words of Moses that we quoted above are drawn from his final words to the Jewish People. Fondly referring to the Jewish People by the name of Jeshurun, he lauds the reciprocal loving relationship between God and His people. Our wholehearted acceptance of God’s kingship, and of His Torah and commandments, is set forth by Moses in poetic, optimistic language. God is our shield and protector, proclaims Moses: “Fortunate are you of Israel: Who is like unto you, O people delivered by God, the shield of your succor” (Deuteronomy 33:1-5, 26-29).
 
But these words are not spoken in a vacuum. They are actually a reaction, an objection, if you will, to a Divine prophecy recorded in the second to last portion of the Torah. Immediately prior to Moses’ final blessing, we read God’s final words to the Jewish People, and they are as pessimistic as the poetry of Moses was optimistic. In no uncertain terms, God proclaims in Parshat Ha’azinu that the Jewish future will include failure and tragedy; rebellion against God, and in its wake Divine alienation, anger, and punishment.

In reading the Divine prediction of doom, it is not difficult to hone in on the linchpin of the tragedy: “With the fattest of lambs, and rams and he-goats, with the very fattest of wheat, and delicious wine like the blood of grapes, so Jeshurun will become fat and rebel. You will grow fat and thick and corpulent – and will desert God your maker and became contemptuous of the Rock of salvation”(Deuteronomy 32:14-15).
 
And now we understand only too well why Moses neglected to make mention of abundance and fatness, despite the fact that these concepts are central to the blessing spoken by Isaac upon which he models his words. The faithful leader of the Jewish nation cannot let God’s pessimism carry the day. The All-Knowing One sees into the future, but man was granted free will, and man can therefore alter the divinely predicted future. Divine pessimism is countered by Mosaic optimism, and the key to this beatific vision is none other than the repudiation of over-abundance and fatness. God foresees our downfall, and at its roots is luxury and opulence. Moses foresees our future glory, life in harmony with the Divine Presence and the Divine Law, and it is predicated on a culture that indeed enjoys grain and wine and the dew of heaven, but that at the same time eschews lavish extravagance and super-affluence.
 
Yes, it is God’s will as expressed in this week’s Torah portion that we conquer and harness nature to achieve wealth and prosperity. And at the same time, our very success in this divinely mandated effort can easily become the cause of our downfall. Too much material success may bring us to lose sight of the very meaning of our existence. If we wish not to be cursed by our blessings, we must employ self-restraint in order to cultivate them in proper measure. Too much of a good thing…may be a very bad thing indeed.

Mazal Tov on 25 years of Success in Montevideo!
 

This Shabbat, The Yavneh Community in Montevideo, Uruguay will be holding an event to celebrate 25 years of their Community. Torah MiTzion has been operating in the community for 19 of those 25 years. Former Rashei Kollel, who also served as heads of the Yavneh community, are flying in specially for a weekend of Shiurim, community, and nostalgia.

Over the years Torah MiTzion has been proud to send 37 Bachurim, and 5 highly successful Rashei Kollel: 

Rabbi Yaakov and Vardit Kruger (1997-1998)
Rabbi Yaakov (Yuki) Rachel  Meir (1999-2001)
Rabbi Shai and Michal Froindlich (2001-2005)
Rabbi Tzvi and Chen Elon (2005-2011)
Rabbi Eliyahu and Natali Galil (2011-2015)


The Kollel has had an extremely powerful impact on the community, which is manifest in its strong connection to Israel, ever growing circles of Jewish identity and Torah learning and  impressive number of Olim.

We wish the Yavneh community of Montevideo
many more fruitful and successful years!

Around The World
A Sukkot event in the Sukkah of Kollel Torah MiTzion Mexico City 
 Over 40 children came with their parent's to a Sukkot program in Munich 
 The bachurim in Washington ran an activity for Kindergarten kids
 Torah MiTzion Memphis held a Simchat Beit HaShoeva on Sukkot
ISRAtag

     Arik Speaker                                   In cooperation with:


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

Last week's image is of a wide and tall rock that lies under the golden dome on the Temple Mount. Many estimate that this is the "Even Ha'Shtia" (Foundation Stone) which was located in the Kodesh HaKodashim (Holy of Holies) in the Temple. 
 
During the Second Temple, the Aron HaKodesh (Holy Arc) was lost, and the actual sanctuary was empty. It was on the Even Ha'Shtia that the Kohen Gadol laid the incense on Yom Kippur. According to Tractate Yoma, the stone is actually the point from which the entire universe was created.
 
There are many reasons to assume that this is indeed the rock beneath the Dome of the Rock and it is for this reason that the Dome was built there in the first place. The important mosque, Al-Aqsa, is located on the southern edge of the mountain and the golden dome was founded very probably because of the sanctity of the site on which the temple was located.
 
The difficulty with the identification of the Rock derives from the fact that the Mishna says that the rock was "3 fingers high from the ground" - while now it rises to  almost 2 meters, and is 15 meters long from north to south and 12 meters wide at its southern end. It can of course be argued that over the years and after lots of digging the ground level is not at the same height as it was in the time of the Temple.
 
For this and other reasons, such as the distance to the Western Wall, there are those who believe that it actually is not the Even HaShtia but the site of the altar (Mizbeach). Either way can only hope once more to burn the incense and to sacrifice the Olot and Zevachim in the Holy Temple speedly in our time.
 

 

Yasher Koach to 

Shuki Glazman
 
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
  name of 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 the 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 a wide range of
high impact formal and informal

educational programs. 

 
In cooperation with :