The Weekly Shtikle Blog

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Friday, April 20

The Weekly Shtikle - Tazria / Metzora

Since the hour is late, just a quick thought: We often strive to find connections between different episodes within the same parsha. It is perhaps less common to find connections from one parsha to the next. The topic that takes up most of parshas Tazria is the illness of tzara'as. Traditionally, (as per Arachin 15btzara'as afflicted someone who spoke lashon hara as it did Miriam at the end of parshas Beha'alosecha.

 

R' Moshe Shternbuch in Ta'am Voda'as, in the name of R' Yisrael Salanter, writes that the end of the previous parsha we are taught of the animals that are not to be eaten and the tum'ah that results when we do. While it seems that very many people are careful about what they put into their mouths, they are seemingly far less careful of what comes out. The juxtaposition of these two topics is meant to show that just as putting the wrong things in our mouths results in serious tum'ah, the same grievous consequences result when we allow the wrong things to come out.

 

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Dikdukian: White Hair

Dikdukian: Meaining of "kibus" by Eliyahu Levin

Dikdukian: Various Dikduk Observations by Eliyahu Levin

 

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Friday, April 13

The Weekly Shtikle - Shemini

At the end of the parsha, summarizing the commandments relating to forbidden foods, the pasuk (11:45) says "Ki ani HaShem hamaale eschem..." Rashi comments that in all other instances it says hotzeisi but here it says hama'ale and quotes from Tana d'Bei Eliyahu that the term ma'ale implies that this mitzvah itself is a ma'ala, a virtue of its own right, for which B'nei Yisrael merited exodus from Egypt. The obvious inference is from the change of terminology from yetzia to aliyah.

 

However, perhaps there is another inference to be made. In most other instances, the word hotzeisi is used. It is in past tense. Here, had the pasuk said asher he'eliesi then there would not have been such a strong implication that this mitzvah is a ma'ala but only that HaShem took us out and therefore we should keep it. Now that it is written in the present tense, it implies that with this mitzvah HaShem brings us up to a higher level and it is a virtue for us. The midrash is clearly not making this inference but it may still be used to arrive at the same conclusion. [Nevertheless, it should be noted that in the gemara (Eiruvin 19a) Rav Kahana asserts that although hama'ale is structured in the present tense, it is clearly to be understood in the past tense.]

 

Have a good Shabbos and Chodesh Tov.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: Lehavdil

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Thursday, April 5

The Weekly Shtikle - Pesach

A hearty Weekly Shtikle mazal tov to my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Yisroel & Hindy Yeres on the birth of a baby boy just before Pesach began, with the bris scheduled for the first of the last days of yom tov, IY"H. Mazal tov to the extended Yeres, Frankel and Meisels families.

 

While refraining from all leavened products for a week or so always proves to be quite the undertaking, in the Beis HaMikdash, it was the norm, with only a few exceptions. As we read a number of weeks ago, we are told (Vaikra 2:11) that all mincha offerings must be free of any leaven or sweetener. Allegorically, we find in the gemara (Berachos 17a) that se'or, leaven, is commonly associated with the yeitzer hara. However, Netziv in Haamek Davar offers another understanding of se'or and why it is forbidden on the mizbei'ach and relates it to Pesach as well.

 

The process of making bread will always require a significant degree of human contribution to process wheat into flour and then dough and then to bake it. However, the addition of a leavening agent represents an added degree of meddling with the natural process to alter the final product. The complete absence of all leaven represents the refraining from trying to inject our own intervention to manipulate the nature that HaShem has put in place, rather than letting things be to take their own Divine path.

 

Certainly, in the Beis HaMikdash, where our primary goal is to become closer to HaShem, it is appropriate to minimize our own machinations and submit ourselves to the will of HaShem. That is why leaven is not appropriate. As Netziv continues to explain, this is similarly the theme of the yom tov of Pesach – the rooting of emunah in HaShem in the collective hearts of our nation. With very little action on our part, we were witnesses to unimaginable miracles leading to our exodus from Mitzrayim.

 

Rabbi Moshe Hauer (audio link, start at 24:38 mark) discusses this idea in a shiur on Netziv and extrapolates it to extend throughout Pesach to the last days of yom tov when we commemorate the splitting of Yam Suf. There too, amidst all of the panic in the wake of the steadily advancing Egyptian army at the apparent dead end, Moshe commands the nation (Shemos 14:13) not to fear but rather, to simply stand and witness HaShem's great deliverance. What better time to drive home this message for the ages than the end of a full week without any bread.


Have a Chag Samei'ach and Good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Al Pi Cheshbon: Omer Counting in Different Bases
Dikdukian: Exceptions Ahoy!

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Friday, March 30

The Weekly Shtikle - Leil Seder

As we get started with the maggid portion of the Haggadah, we discuss four different types of children, the questions they might ask and the responses we should provide for them. This is an appropriate exercise since the Haggadah – although relevant and mandatory for all regardless of age – is very much an exercise in chinuch.
Immediately following, we have a short paragraph discussing the appropriate time for the mitzvah of teaching one's children about the Pesach story. I might have thought it would begin on Rosh Chodesh, or perhaps the day before Pesach. However, the appropriate time is only when matzah and maror are placed in front of us. On the surface, this is simply a study of the halachic nuance of the mitzvah. But perhaps, at the same time, the Haggadah is teaching us some important lessons in chinuch.
In parting with the actual flow of the pesukim that discuss the questions and answers in the Torah, the Haggadah uses the same pasuk for the answer to the rasha and the eino yodeia lish'ol. This just so happens to be the pasuk that is expounded upon to establish the proper timing of the mitzvah. The rasha and eino yodeia lish'ol would seem to be the two more challenging characters in this set of children. We might want to devote extra attention to them – the rasha in order to steer him towards the proper path and the eino yodeia lish'ol because he is just getting started and needs help in order to ask the right questions. We might even be inclined to start early. But this paragraph in the Haggadah teaches us that presenting our children with the theory without the practice is not sufficiently effective. In order to properly imbue them with an appreciation of our heritage and the mitzvos that reflect it, they need to see it in action. Therefore, the appropriate time to educate them about yetzias Mitzrayim can only be while we have the matzah and maror in front of us, ready to eat. The chinuch challenge on seder night is not merely about saying. It is about saying and doing.

Have a good Shabbos and Chag Kasher ve'Sameiach!

For a collection of previous seder night shtikles, please check out my archive of past Seder shtikles.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: Chad Gadya

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Friday, March 23

The Weekly Shtikle - Tzav / Shabbas HaGadol

This week's shtikle comes with some sad news. My wife's grandmother, the matriarch of the family, Rebbetzin Faigie Frankel, passed away Monday evening in Toronto at the age of 102. The shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmasah, Leah Feiga bas Aharon Tzvi.

I must also mention the passing of Rebbetzin Shlomis Eisenberg, daughter of Rav Mordechai Gifter, z"l, and wife of Rav Ephraim Eisenberg, z"l, after whom our son is named, just a day earlier. The shtikle is also dedicated le'iluy nishmasah, Shlomis Feiga bas Mordechai.

Parshas Tzav is certainly not an easy parsha to mine for lessons relating to the events of this week. Dealing mostly with routine procedures regarding korbanos, one of the favourite targets for discussion is the korban todah, the special offering that is brought to give thanks for various different special occasions and circumstances. An interesting nuance occurred to me recently. With regards to some (although not all) offerings related to sin, we do find that the Torah provides options for people who cannot afford the full animal offering. Even though the full menu for the korban todah is quite extensive, featuring 40 loaves on top of the animal offering, there is no "lower cost" option provided.

To explain this we can suggest, at least on a homiletic level, that if someone were to have entered the mikdash in a state of tum'ah, for example, but could not afford the required animal sacrifice, it would be very difficult for him to collect the necessary funds. Imagine, for a moment, one of those tzedakah collectors walking around a shul with a note stating he is collecting for his korban asham. If one were to find himself in a similar predicament while trying to arrange a korban todah, however, the situation would almost certainly be different. To celebrate joyous occasions friends – and certainly family – always come together to help out and enhance the event. So there was never a fear that someone would be unable to put together what is necessary for a korban todah.

Of the many wonderful memories that friends and family have of Rebbetzin Frankel – Boobie, as she was known to family – perhaps the most overt and visible to all was her persistent presence and participation in family semachos near and far. She was fortunate to have most of her family nearby in Toronto. But when the situation arose she would not let distance get in her way. Even in her 90's she made difficult sojourns to Eretz Yisrael and New York for grandchildren's weddings. Even in recent years when movement and transportation became far more difficult, her presence at family events and yamim tovim continued and will certainly leave a lasting impression on us as well as our children. She will surely be missed. Yehi zichrah baruch.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: שבת הגדול
Dikdukian: נעשה

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

Friday, March 16

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayikra

This Sunday, 2 Nissan, marks the yahrtzeit of my Bubbie. This week's shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmasah, Yehudis bas Reuven Pinchas.

 

In pasuk 3:1 we are introduced to the concept of the korban shelamim. Rashi explains the meaning of the word shelamim as coming from the word shalom, peace, that it puts peace between Man and his Master. However, the wording chosen by Targum Onkelos for shelamim is rather intriguing. In all instances it is referred to as nichsas kudshaya, meaning holy slaughtering, which clearly does not follow the simple translation. Why?

 

One sefer on Targum Yonasan ben Uziel suggests that it was to show that shelamim is excluded from the laws of kodshei kadashim and is therefore only referred to as kodesh

 

However, a friend of mine offered what I believe is a more insightful answer. In 17:1-5 we are taught that in the desert, slaughtering an animal for one's own pleasure as we do today, was forbidden. Rather, anyone who wanted to eat an animal was required to bring it as a korban shelamim. The purpose of this is clearly stated in 17:5 "So that B'nei Yisrael may bring their sacrifices, which they offer in the open field, that they may bring them to HaShem..." The very essence of the shelamim was an animal that would otherwise have been slaughtered and eaten by its owner without any sanctification, but instead was brought to the mizbei'ach and made holy by being offered as a korban. This is in contrast with other sacrifices brought out of necessity. Since the shelamim represents the sanctification of what would otherwise have been mundane it is given the name nichsas kudshaya, holy slaughtering.

 

Have a good Shabbos. 
Mishenichnas Adar Marbim beSimchah (see Rashi, bottom of Taanis 29a)

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikukian: Nusach for Birkas Ha'ilanos

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Friday, March 9

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayakheil / Pekudei

In this week's parsha, (35:30-35) Moshe Rabbeinu informs B'nei Yisrael that Betzalel will be in charge of overseeing the construction of the mishkan. He states that HaShem has instilled in him a special spirit of wisdom and understanding. After explaining this wisdom in more detail, Moshe adds (35:34) "ulhoros nasan belibo," and He has placed in his heart the ability or desire to teach. It was not sufficient for Betzalel to be familiar with all the crafts necessary for the construction of mishkan. He needed to be able to teach it to others so that they may participate as well.

In examining this pasuk more thoroughly, there are two very important lessons that are taught in this seemingly simple phrase. The first is that no wealth of knowledge ever guarantees the ability to teach. Betzalel was brought to the highest levels of knowledge and understanding but that was not enough. In addition to the wisdom vested in him by HaShem he also required a separate Divine inspiration for the ability to give over that wisdom to others. The art of teaching is a necessary wisdom unto itself. This point is made by Ohr HaChayim and R' Moshe Shternbuch on this pasuk.

This pasuk also teaches us that while one might attribute other areas of wisdom to the brain or mind, the essence of teaching is in the heart. It is not even enough for one to spend day and night studying and learning how to teach. No matter how much knowledge one is able to place in his brain, without a teaching heart it just does not work. Therefore, in addition to enriching Betzalel's intellect with the wisdom and knowledge to perform all the necessary tasks, HaShem instilled in him all the necessary components to make the training process as smooth as possible.


Have a good Shabbos.
Mishenichnas Adar Marbim beSimchah!

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: Ve'asa Vetzalel
Dikdukian: Kikar Zahav
Dikdukian: Sham and Shamah
For Parshas Parah:
Dikdukian: Oops (This one's funny. At least I think so.)

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