The Weekly Shtikle Blog

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Friday, January 15

The Weekly Shtikle - Va'eira

This week's shtikle is dedicated for a refuah sheleimah for my father.

Please include Reuven Pinchas ben Yehudis in your tefillos.

 

This week's shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas Dovid Pesach ben Tzvi Hirsh HaLevi whose first yahrtzeit is this coming Tuesday, 6 Shevat.

 

In the plague of barad, hail, HaShem brought down hail accompanied by kolos, thunder. The hail also seemed to include rain. However, points out Minchas Yitzchak, when Paroah demands that Moshe pray that the plague end (9:28) he asks him to pray that the thunder and the hail should cease, but he does not mention the rain. This is because, as Rashi has mentioned many times, Egypt did not receive rain and relied solely on the Nile for irrigation. Therefore, Paroah would have been more than happy for the rain to stay. They needed it. However, when Moshe davens to HaShem, the pasuk (33) recounts that the thunder, the hail and the rain ceased. Thus, when Paroah observed this, as the next pasuk tells us - that he saw that the rain, the hail and the thunder had ceased (note how the order is switched from the previous pasuk) - he hardened his heart for he saw that his request wasn't fully carried out.

 

Have a good Shabbos and chodesh tov.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Dikdukian: Plurals and Singulars

Dikdukian: Netziv and the Missing Yud

Dikdukian: The Strange thing about Frogs

Dikdukian: Dikdukei Va'eira by Eliyahu Levin

Dikdukian: Leshon Yachid veRabbim by Eliayhu Levin


Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites, 
www.weeklyshtikle.com

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Friday, January 8

The Weekly Shtikle - Shemos

This week's shtikle is dedicated for a refuah sheleimah for my father.

Please include Reuven Pinchas ben Yehudis in your tefillos.

 

Most young children are already familiar with the epic story of Moshe being placed in a basket and ultimately being retrieved by Paroah's daughter. I had always understood that Yocheved placed the basket in the river such that it would be carried downstream, come what may, as Miriam kept watch. However, a number of different nuances in the pesukim have led me to believe otherwise.

 

Yocheved places the basket in the suf, the reeds. That's not really where one would but a basket for the purpose of moving down the river. It would be quite likely to stay in place. Da'as Zekeinim writes that the gomé was used because it looked similar to the reeds and provided camouflage. Rashba"m writes further that Yocheved was trying to hide the basket among the reeds.

 

I'm therefore led to believe that perhaps Yocheved was not necessarily intending to part ways with her baby. Perhaps they knew what times of day the Egyptians came around to check for children had the baby hidden during those times. It's unclear exactly what the plan would have been. But the last clue that leads me down this line of thinking is the description of Miriam's task. Vateisatzav – Miriam stationed herself in one place. If the basket were floating down the Nile, one would expect that she would have to follow along. Rather, it seems the basket was meant to stay in place while she kept watch from afar.

 

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Dikduian: Bas Paroah
DikduianFrom the Children of the Hebrews
DikduianThe Strange Thing about Straw
DikduianAffliction
DikduianRaamseis

Dikduian: Dikduk Observations on Shemos by Eliyahu Levin


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Friday, January 1

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayechi

This past Sunday, 12 Teves, was the 13th yahrtzeit of Rabbi Joseph Schechter of Ner Yisrael. This week's shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Yoseif ben Eliezer Z'ev.

 

Just before he passes away, Yaakov delivers a charge to each of his sons individually. Some of his words speak to the individual traits of the children as well as some of the challenges they have already faced. However, as expounded upon by Targum Onkelos, much of what Yaakov delivered to his children – blessings or otherwise – was a prophetic glimpse into the future of each child's progeny, based on his strengths. These prophecies were, for the most part, of a communal, tribal nature. For example, he spoke of Yehudah being the perennial tribe of royalty and Zevulun dwelling along the coast. There is one glaring exception – the blessing for Dan (49:16-18). Spanning a number of pesukim, it seems to be focused on one individual – Shimshon.

 

In examining why Dan's blessing seems to deviate in this way, it is certainly noteworthy to point out the unique circumstances of Dan as reported in last week's parsha. Indeed, it is a point very commonly dwelt upon in a mussar context. While most of the brothers built sizeable families, Dan had but one son, Chushim. And yet, by the time we reach the census in Bemidbar, Dan has become the second most populous tribe. (Although, in truth, as a son of Yaakov, Yosef had more.) Dan and Chushim teach us to never underestimate the potential of a single individual.

 

With his beracha to Dan, Yaakov was indicating that this will be the hallmark of his tribe – the great power that can be wielded by just a single person. And this why the prophecy is focused on Shimshon alone as he would be the manifestation of that trait generations down the line. I later saw this idea expressed in Sha'arei Aharon, quoting Marpei Lashon and Yalkut Ruveini, citing other members of the tripe of Dan who exemplified this trait throughout history.

Chazak, chazak, venischazeik!

Have a good Shabbos.


Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Dikdukian: You Make the Call: Aveil Mitzrayim


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Friday, December 25

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayigash

Last week, in my haste, I left out two important dedications. This past Sunday, 5 Teves, was the 43nd yahrtzeit of my wife's grandfather, Rabbi Dr. Israel Frankel, a"h. This week's shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Yisroel Aryeh ben Asher Yeshayahu.

 

I also must acknowledge the passing of my great uncle, Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld, long-time Rav of the Young Israel of Kew Garden Hills. This week's shtikle is dedicated as well le'iluy nishmaso.

 

When Yaakov and his sons travel down to Egypt, they make a brief stop in Be'er Sheva, after which it says (46:6) that they took their cattle and flock, etc. Does this pasuk not belong earlier on when they left home, before they got to Be'er Sheva? Ohr HaChayim writes that when they left, they thought they were only going to bring Yaakov to see Yosef and then return home. They did not think they were going to dwell in Egypt. But after the nevua in Be'er Sheva, it became apparent that they were going to live there, so only then did it recount all of their packing.  

 

Mahari"l Diskin has another interesting observation concerning the trek to Egypt. Before reaching Be'er Sheva, no mention had been made of the wagons that Paroah sent to Yaakov. Only upon leaving Be'er Sheva does it mention them. Before reaching Be'er Sheva, Yaakov was not certain that HaShem would allow him to go down to Egypt. He therefore did not use the wagons that Paroah sent him for it might not be using them for the purpose for which they were given to him. This is tantamount to stealing. Only after HaShem concurred with Yaakov's travel plans did Yaakov make use of the wagons.  

 

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Al Pi Cheshbon / Dikdukian: Can you count to 70?

Dikdukian: Pain in the Neck

Dikdukian: Just Do It!

Dikdukian: Ram'seis

Dikdukian: Dikdukei Vayigash by R' Eliyahu Levin


Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites, www.weeklyshtikle.com

The Weekly Shtikle and related content are now featured on BaltimoreJewishLife.com

 

 

 

Friday, December 18

The Weekly Shtikle - Mikeitz

This week, we will read the haftarah of Mikeitz for the first time in 20 years. I had wanted to come up with something on this extremely rare haftarah (maybe there's some connection between the haftarah and contested elections?) but instead I can point you to an interesting shiur discussing this rarity and some interesting nuances that surround it, from Baltimore's own Rabbi Dovid Heber via TorahAnytime: https://baltimorejewishlife.com/news/news-detail.php?SECTION_ID=1&ARTICLE_ID=138768

 

When the brothers return home after their first confrontation with Yoseif, Yaakov refuses to let them bring Binyamin back down with them. Reuvein boldly declares (42:37) that both his sons shall be put to death if he does not bring Binyamin back. Despite this impressive expression of dedication, Yaakov refuses to let the brothers return with Binyamin. Later, as the famine grows stronger, the return to Egypt seems imminent. Yehudah proclaims (43:9) that he will take responsibility for Binyamin and that if he does not return him and stand him up in front of Yaakov, then he will have sinned to his father for all of days. Rashi comments that "all of days" refers to the world to come. Yehudah was declaring that if he fails to return Binyamin, his sin shall be everlasting. Yaakov subsequently sent the brothers back down with Binyamin.

 

From a practical point of view, the reason why Yaakov accepted Yehudah's proposal and not Reuvein's may simply be because time was just running out. Reuvein's offer was presented when the brothers had just returned and could survive without returning to Egypt for a while. Later on, however, there simply was no other alternative.

 

The Ohr HaChayim, however, offers a comparison of the sincerity of the two offers. Reuvein, in fact, had four sons. He only offered the sacrifice of two of them because he was not willing to lose all his children and be bereft of the mitzvah of procreation. He was willing to sacrifice possessions of this world but not his reward in the world to come. Yaakov sensed this slight insincerity in Reuvein's offer. Yehudah, however, was willing to sacrifice even his portion in the world to come according to Rashi's interpretation. Yaakov, therefore, felt that Yehudah's acceptance of responsibility was sincere enough that he could trust with the life of his youngest son.

 

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

 

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: Who's agitating my dots?

Dikdukian: Be Strong

Dikdukian: Just Do It!

Dikdukian: You Make the Call: Ukra'ahu


Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites, www.weeklyshtikle.com

The Weekly Shtikle and related content are now featured on BaltimoreJewishLife.com

 

Wednesday, December 16

The Weekly Shtikle - Chanukah

As part of the Hallel we recite all eight days of Chanukah, we include the following pesukim from Tehillim (116:16-17) "Ana HaShem ki ani avdecha. Ani avd'cha ben amasecha pitachta lemoseirai. Lecha ezbach zevach todah..." David HaMelech, in his pleas to HaShem, refers to himself as "avd'cha ben amasecha," your servant, the son of your maid. Many of the commentaries point out that a servant who was bought by his master serves him involuntary as he recalls the days of his freedom. The son of a maid, however, who is born into servitude, knows no better life and serves his master whole-heartedly. David HaMelech emphasizes his status of "ben amasecha" as a symbol of his whole-hearted service of HaShem.

 

In the introduction to the sefer Oneg Yom Tov, the author explains that complete gratitude requires generosity of the heart. One cannot be forced to show gratitude. It is an expression that must come graciously, out of one's own free will or it is not genuine gratitude. This explains the continuation of David HaMelech's words. After expressing his utter devotion as a servant of HaShem he notes that nevertheless, "pitachta lemoseirai," You have opened up my shackles. Even though David HaMelech was a servant, he felt freed from his shackles in such a way that he was able to give whole-hearted thanks to HaShem. Therefore, "lecha ezbach zevach todah," to You I may offer a thanksgiving sacrifice. Only with the feeling of freedom was he able to offer a sincere sacrifice of thanks.

 

Reb Ephraim Eisenberg, zt"l, quoting an anonymous source, commented that this idea may be employed to understand an interesting phenomenon in the halachos of Chanukah. Chazal decreed that the basic mitzvah of candle lighting is one candle for each household each night. The way of the "mehadrin," the extra mile, is for everyone in the house to light one per night. And the "mehadrin min hamehadrin," the quintessential performance of the mitzvah is for each member of the household to light and add an extra candle every night which is what most of us do. Why do Chazal ordain this as a "mehadrin min hamehadrin?" If this is indeed the ideal way to perform the mitzvah, why is not decreed that this is how we should do it? We often see Chazal suggest a stricter way of performing a mitzvah but seldom do we see Chazal dictate a "better" way to do a mitzvah. With the above, we may understand that Chazal specifically did not force us to perform this mitzvah in this way because the mitzvah of ner Chanukah, as we say in "Haneiros Halalu," is "kedei lehodos ulehalel," to give thanks and praise. This must be done out of generosity of the heart. Therefore, Chazal specifically spelled out an ideal way to perform the mitzvah, but left it to us to choose, of our own accord, to perform it in that way. This makes the lighting of the candles a true demonstration of gratitude to HaShem.

 

Have a Chanukah samei'ach!.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites, www.weeklyshtikle.com

The Weekly Shtikle and related content are now featured on BaltimoreJewishLife.com

 

Friday, December 11

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayeishev

After throwing Yoseif into the pit, the brothers had clearly paid no attention to Reuvein's previous demand and were still contemplating killing Yoseif. Finally, they are convinced by Yehudah, who had taken on a role of leadership amongst the brothers. He reasons, (37:26) "Of what gain would it be for us to kill our brother, thereby requiring us to cover his blood?" Sensing that the covering of blood was meant metaphorically, Rashi renders "we will hide his death." This seemingly innocuous comment is actually slightly problematic. According to Rashi's interpretation, had the brothers actually gone through with killing Yoseif, they would have had to cover up his death altogether. However, in the end, when they did not kill him, they still told Yaakov that he had died. Therefore, it seems that covering up Yoseif's "death" (misaso) would not have been the issue but rather, covering up his "murder" (harigaso/retzichaso.)

 

Behind Rashi's comment may, in fact, be an intriguing psychological insight. Had the brothers actually killed Yoseif, it would have been too difficult for them to report his death to their father and, at the same time, deny any involvement. They would have been forced to make up some other story, much further from the truth. Since they sold him and knew that he was indeed alive and well, they were more comfortable making up a story of his tragic death. If this is the way Rashi is to be understood, it gives deep insight into the human mind. It is more difficult to tell a lie which is very close to the truth, a half-truth perhaps, than to tell a lie which is far from the truth.

 

While the above suggestion is certainly debatable as a general matter of human psychology, there is another possible explanation. Typically, a murderer with some remaining vestige of sanity will have a vested interest in hiding the body of his victim. The simple reason for this is that the body will inevitably contain some forms of evidence that could trace back to the murderer. So, simply, had they actually murdered Yoseif, they would have been compelled to hide his body altogether and pretend to know nothing of his demise, lest the murder be traced back to them. But now that he was indeed alive, there was no risk that presenting his death to Yaakov would trace back to them.

 

Have a good Shabbos and a Chanukah Samei'ach!

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Dikdukian: Clear the Halls (Chanukah)

Dikdukian: Naaseh Neis (Chanukah)


Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites, www.weeklyshtikle.com

The Weekly Shtikle and related content are now featured on BaltimoreJewishLife.com