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Summary and Ruling - "The Best of Parashat HaShavuah" Articles taken from list subscriptions on the internet, edited,...

Summary and Ruling:

The Shulchan Aruch (232, 1) rules like the opinion of the R"I Migash that in a case where a mistake occurred in the measurement, weight, or amount of the supplied merchandise the sale stands and the difference must be completed. In a case where the difference cannot be completed, the Sma (ibid, 2) rules like the opinion of the Ramban that the sale is void.



Rav Kook on the Net: RavKook.n3.net

Jacob Rescued Abraham

According to an intriguing Midrash [Tanchuma Toldot 4], Abraham would not have made it out of his hometown of Ur Casdim alive, were it not for the intervention of his grandson. King Nimrod ordered Abraham thrown into a fiery furnace because of Abraham's rejection of idolatry; but Jacob came to the rescue, as it says,

"So said God to the house of Jacob who redeemed Abraham: Jacob will not be ashamed, nor will his face become pale." [Isaiah 29:22]

Even given the poetic license of Midrashic literature, Jacob could not have literally rescued his grandfather in an incident that took place before Jacob was born. Rather, the Sages wanted to teach us that Abraham was saved due to some special merit or quality of his grandson Jacob. What was this quality of Jacob that Abraham lacked?

Two Paths of Change

There are two different paths of spiritual growth that we may follow. The first path is one of sudden, radical change, usually the result of some external catalyst.

One example of such a drastic transformation may be found in the story of Saul. The prophet Samuel informed Saul that he will meet a band of prophets playing musical instruments. This encounter, the prophet told Saul, will be a tuning point in your life. "The spirit of God will suddenly come over you and you will prophesy with them. And you will be transformed to a different person" [I Samuel 10:6].

The second path is one of slow, deliberate growth. We attain this gradual change through our own toil; it does not require an external stimulus, and is thus always accessible. But why are there two different paths of change available to us?

If God provided us with two paths, then clearly both are needed. We should first prepare ourselves and advance as much as possible through our own efforts. After we have attained the highest level that we are capable of reaching, we may benefit from unexpected inspiration from the soul's inner resources.

Abraham was a revolutionary, introducing the spiritual revolt against his generation's idolatry. Abraham is the archetype for radical change. The defining moments his life were dramatic events of prodigious dedication and self-sacrifice, such as his brit milah (circumcision) at an advanced age, and the Akeidah, the Binding of Isaac. By merit of Abraham's far-reaching spiritual accomplishments, his descendants inherited those soul-qualities that foster sudden transformation.

Future generations, however, cannot rely solely on Abraham's style of radical change. As a normative path for all times, we also need the method of gradual spiritual growth. The model for this type of change is Jacob. Unlike his grandfather, Jacob never underwent sudden transformations of personality or direction. Rather, the Torah characterizes him as "a quiet, scholarly man, dwelling in tents" [Gen. 25:27]. Jacob's place was in the tents of Torah. Jacob worked on himself gradually, growing through perseverance and diligent Torah study.

Two Names for Jerusalem

The city of Jerusalem combines both of these paths. The Midrash teaches that the name Jerusalem is a combination of two names, reflecting both qualities of the holy city. Abraham called the city Yireh, while Malki-tzedek called it Shalem. Not wanting to offend either of these righteous men, God combined both names together, naming the city Yeru-Shalayim - 'Jerusalem' [Bereishit Rabbah 56:10].

What does the name Yireh mean? The holy city, particularly the Temple, had a profound impact on all who experienced its unique sanctity. This profound spiritual encounter is described as a form of sublime perception - "Your eyes will see your Teacher" [Isaiah 30:20]. The impact from this elevated vision inspired visitors above and beyond their ordinary spiritual capabilities. In honor of the intense spiritual change effected by perceiving Jerusalem's holiness, Abraham named the city Yireh - "he will see."

Malki-tzedek, on the other hand, referred to the city's qualities that assist those who seek to perfect themselves in a gradual fashion. Jerusalem is a place of Torah and ethical teachings, "For Torah shall go forth from Zion" [Isaiah 2:3]. Therefore Malki-tzedek named the city Shalem ('perfection'), referring to this incremental approach towards spiritual perfection.

Jacob to the Rescue

Returning to our original question: how did Jacob rescue his grandfather from the fiery furnace? In what way will Jacob 'not be ashamed'?

The Kabbalists explain that the goal of humanity, the reason why the soul is lowered into this world, is so that we may perfect ourselves through our own efforts. This way, we will not need to partake of nehama dekisufa (the 'bread of shame') for taking that which we did not earn.

While this explanation fits the path of gradual change, it would appear that the path of radical transformation is an external gift that we do not deserve. Is this not the undesired nehama dekisufa that we should avoid?

Not necessarily. If we are able to take this unexpected gift, and use it to attain even greater levels of spiritual growth with our own efforts, then there is no shame in this gift. It is like a father who gave his son a large monetary gift. If the son simply lives off the money until it is finished, then the father's gift is nehama dekisufa, a disgrace reflecting no credit upon the son. If, however, the son uses the money to start a new business, and through his efforts doubles and triples the original investment, then the son has certainly pleased his father and brought honor to himself.

This is exactly the way that Jacob 'rescued' his grandfather Abraham. Left on his own, the most natural path for Abraham - whose revolutionary soul called for sudden, drastic change - would have been to attain complete and absolute self-sacrifice in Nimrod's fiery furnace. It was Jacob's trait of gradual, careful change that saved Abraham from this fate. Jacob's path of spiritual growth caused Abraham to also follow this slower path. Abraham left the furnace, and over the years worked diligently to attain the spiritual elevation that he had relinquished inside the furnace of martyrdom.

Why bother with the slower path? "Jacob will not be ashamed." By growing slowly through our own efforts, the spiritual gifts of radical change are no longer an embarrassing nehama dekisufa, but an honorable gift that we have utilized to the fullest.

[Adapted from Midbar Shur, pp. 289-292]



The Weekly Parshat Shavua Daf is a Newsletter which includes Divrei Torah on the Parsha, Halacha and Educational columns, as well as for kids - all in a Zionistic approach. The

"Torah MiTzion Kollel"

program establishes centers for the study of Torah and promulgates the connection between Torah and Israel.

Torah Mitzion/

"Beit Meir" /54 King George Street /P.O. Box 71109 /Jerusalem, 91710 /Israel


+972-(0)2-620-9020; http://www.torahmitzion.org/eng/default.asp

Chanoch LaNa’ar Al Pi Darko

Asi Gestfreind, Shaliach, St. Louis

In this week’s parsha, we meet Yitzchak and Rivka’s sons:

“And her days to give birth were completed; and behold, there were twins in her womb. And the first one emerged ruddy, entirely like a mantle of hair; and they named him Esav. And afterwards, his brother emerged, and his hand was grasping on to the heel of Esav, and he named him Yaakov... And the youths grew up, and Esav became a man who understood hunting, a man of the field; and Yaakov was an ish tam (loosely, a wholesome or innocent man), a tent-dweller.” (Breishit 25:24-27)

These psukim not only show that the brothers were physically different from birth, but that these little boys developed into very different men. Esav the bechor (firstborn) was a huntsman, a man of action, but Yaakov was “an ish tam, a tent-dweller.”

Yet, we have to wonder how twins, who were raised and educated in the same way by the same parents, could have chosen such divergent paths? Indeed, the brothers grew so far apart that after discovering that Yitzchak gave Yaakov the blessing, Esav planned on murdering his brother:

“And Esav harbored hatred toward Yaakov because of the blessing which his father had blessed him; and Esav said to himself, Let the days of mourning for my father draw near, and I will kill Yaakov, my brother.” (Breishit 27:41)

In his commentary on the Torah, R’ Shimshon Raphael Hirsch (Breishit 25:27) explains the cause of the brothers’ differences:

“As long as they were little, no attention was paid to the latent differences in their natures. Both had exactly the same teaching and educational treatment, and a great rule of education - ‘train the youth according to his way’ (Mishlei 22:6) - was forgotten. One must direct the pupil in accordance with his unique future path – the one which suits the traits and tendencies which slumber in the depths of his soul… One who seats Yaakov and Esav on one school bench and employs identical routines to educate them both for a life of study and meditation will surely ruin one of them.”

R’ Hirsch adds that the Torah does not conceal the Avot’s small mistakes, and we are charged with learning from these incidents. Yitzchak erred by educating Yaakov and Esav in the exact same way, and this mistake led to Esav’s eventual undoing.

What does this story teach us? Rav Kook (Haskamot HaRe’ayah 8) says that the aforementioned pasuk, “train the youth according to his way,” holds the key to education. This pasuk indicates that when a child reaches gil chinuch (loosely, school age), he already has his own unique path. Moreover, we, as adults, no longer identify with the youth’s path. Yet, nevertheless, in order to educate him and to have a positive influence over him:

“We must go back and examine the youth’s soul, to understand his path in order that we may be able to educate him according to his path.”

And how can we accomplish this? The Gemara (BT Taanit 24a) states:

“Rav traveled to a certain place. He decreed a fast [because of the drought], but the rains did not come. A shaliach tzibur (prayer leader) went down in his presence. [The shaliach tzibur] said, ‘mashiv haru’ach’ (‘He Who makes the wind blow’), and the wind blew. He said, ‘morid hageshem’ (‘He Who makes the rain fall’), and the rains came. [Rav] said to him, ‘What are your actions [that you merit having your prayers answered immediately]?’ He said to [Rav], ‘I am a teacher of small children, and I teach the sons of the poor as [I teach] the sons of the rich. And anyone for whom it is not possible [to pay me], I do not take anything from him. And I own fishponds, and any [student] who is negligent [in his studies], I bribe him with some [of the fish]. And we prepare it for him and appease him, until he comes and studies.”

That same shaliach tzibur, whose prayers were answered immediately in merit of his pedagogical methods, recognized something which Yitzchak Avinu did not: “Train the youth according to his way.” One must look at each and every student as an individual with his or her own special needs and inclinations. In order to stimulate and motivate that student to learn and develop in a positive fashion, one must adapt one’s teaching methods to the student’s unique and particular path.

In contrast, Yaakov Avinu did understand this important educational principle very well. Thus, when he blessed his sons on his deathbed, he looked at them as twelve distinct men and did not lump them together as one unit. As R’ Hirsch notes, Yaakov blessed them:

“Each man according to the blessing which suited his nature. After he described their characteristics, he blessed them accordingly. He blessed each one that he would merit the blessing while retaining his unique nature.”

Din Torah: Undercover Guest in a Hotel

Courtesy of: Mishpetey Eretz Institute, Ofra www.dintora.org


When I was 15 years old, I joined a friend of mine who went down with his family to Eilat and stayed in a hotel. I slept in their room on the carpet. I ate with them the hotel breakfast even though I was not registered at the hotel; the portions in the hotel dining room were served from a buffet, such that they did not necessitate the preparation of any food specifically for me. The quantities served were very large, such that the loss from what I ate was negligible (so it seems to me).

I don’t remember the name of the hotel where I stayed, and even if I do manage to locate it may well have switched owners. How should I do teshuva in such a case?


First, kol hakavod that you are looking for a way to repent past wrongs. If you have the ability to verify the name of the hotel and to locate its owner, this would be the best option. Regarding the food, you should return up to such amount beyond which you did not definitely eat (see Shulchan Aruch 360:1). With regard to sleeping on the carpet, you are exempt from paying, though this does not mean that you acted properly (the contrary is true, and it is appropriate to apologize), because it is akin to a person who dwells in his fellow’s premises without permission but without causing his fellow any loss thereby (Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 363:6). And in this case there are grounds to say that the hotel owner did not sustain any loss because the room was rented out in any event. That said, there is room to argue that because the owner was not able to rent out an additional bed to you he did, in fact, lose out, and in such a case there is a dispute regarding the obligation to pay and it is therefore fitting to compensate the hotel also in respect to this loss.

If the hotel has been sold since the incident, you are obligated to pay the owners of the hotel at that time. If you do not wish to expose yourself, you can pay off the debt anonymously, without any explanation – provided that it is certain that the payment will reach the owner (Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 355:1). Where it is not possible to identify a person to whom a thief owes money, the stolen money should be donated for public needs, and in this manner to partially compensate the victims of theft (Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 366:2). If there is an organization that acts on behalf of all the hotels in Eilat, it may be possible to pay the money to this organization, on behalf of the hotels in Eilat, or to the Eilat Municipality. Giving tzedaka on behalf the theft victim is not effective in this regard (Pitchei Choshen, Geneiva 4:18). It goes without saying that in order to achieve complete teshuva, it is necessary to fulfill all the other elements of teshuva set forth in the Rambam, Hilchot Teshuva (regret, confession and acceptance for the future etc.)

Love of The Land: Petza’el

Petza’el, Herod’s brother and Antipatrus the Edomite’s son, was the governor (tetrarch) of Yerushalayim. He was murdered by Hyrcanus.

What does Petza’el have to do with Zionism? Archeologists discovered the remains of Phasaelis, a Jewish settlement in the Jordan Valley from the Second Beit HaMikdash era. Named in honor of Petza’el, Phasaelis was one of the places which Petza’el bequeathed to his sister, Shlomit. When she died, she bequeathed all her territory to Livia, Augustus Caesar’s wife.

Today, the Arab village of Fasayil, which preserves the ancient Hebrew name, is situated on the site.

On 9 Kislev 5731 (1970), shortly after the Six Day War, the Moshavim Movement decided to establish a Jewish community in the Jordan Valley. Initially, the moshav was located on the site of today’s Maale Ephraim. However, in 1975, the moshav was moved to the Jordan Valley, near the moshav’s agricultural fields.

Petza’el’s primary crops include dates, peppers, and grapes. In particular, the moshav is known for its choice grapes, which ripen early due to the extreme heat.

Petza’el, which is about 270 meters below sea level, is located between the Beka’ah Road (Route 90) and the Trans-Shomron Highway (Route 505). Some 70 families currently live on the moshav.

Thus, the Jewish past and present meet in the Jordan Valley.

Petza’el Springs, a popular hiking spot, lies just outside the moshav.

A Look at… The Montreal Kollel

Located in the Canadian province of Quebec, Montreal’s Torah MiTzion Kollel operates out of a suburban neighborhood known as Côte Saint-Luc.

The official language of Quebec is French, and to the newcomer, seeing everything in French is… different.

Montreal’s Jewish community is fairly heterogeneous and includes – among others - Orthodox, Conservative, and secular Jews. This mix is represented by Côte Saint-Luc’s numerous Jewish schools: Bialik, which serves the traditional and secular public; Solomon Schechter, a Conservative school; and the Hebrew Academy, the Orthodox school. Torah MiTzion’s Kollel is based in the Hebrew Academy’s beit midrash.

Our daily schedule begins with tefilah with the students at 8:00. Afterwards, we spend the morning learning Gemara with various groups of students, and then the Kollel studies and prepares for the Rosh Kollel’s shiur – Shulchan Aruch, Hilchot Kiddushin. At 4:00 PM, we spend half an hour covering assorted topics with the high school girls. This program is run by the Rav together with the bat sherut (young National Service woman) who is affiliated with the Kollel. From 4:30 to 6:00, we learn b’chavrutot (in study pairs) with high school boys, who voluntarily give up some of their free time to stay after school and learn Torah.

We take our dinner break at 6:00, and in our humble opinion, this is one of the most important parts of our day. Rare is the evening when we are not invited out by one of the many hospitable families in this wonderful, warm community, and thus, we have plenty of opportunities to meet new people and develop new friendships.

At 8:00 PM, after dinner, we return to the Kollel, where we spend the next two hours learning b’chavrutot with adults from the community as well as local university students.

In addition, the Kollel organizes a number of special programs. For instance, every Wednesday afternoon, the entire elementary school comes to the Kollel, where they learn with the Kollel staff and the National Service women. Thursday night is “Movie Night” with the high school students. We nosh, talk, and hang out. On Fridays, we sing songs and put on a play for the preschool, and on Shabbat, the Kollel recently instituted a Carlebach-style youth minyan, which rotates among the community’s various shuls.

The current Montreal Kollel fellows are:

Yitzchak Lauber – Yitzchak learned in Yeshivat Acco and served in the IDF’s Artillery Corps.

Gil Klempert – Gil learned in Yeshivat Nahariya and served in the IDF’s Givati Brigade.

Ariel Chesner – Ariel learned in Yeshivat Har Etzion and also served in the Givati Brigade.

The Kollel’s “engine” is the Lisner family – the Rosh Kollel, Moreinu Rav Yishai (a Yeshivat Har Etzion alumnus, who served in the IDF’s Paratroopers Brigade); his wife Sarit; and their four adorable children.

Meanwhile, the “engine” is “fueled” by the dear Tauber family – the Kollel’s avreich, Rav Ido (a Yeshivat Maale Adumim alumnus, who also served in the Paratroopers Brigade); his wife Shira, rakezet of Bnei Akiva in Montreal; and, of course, their three sweet children.

Last but certainly not least, the newest member of the Montreal Kollel team is Rachel Ben Sender, who performed her National Service in Shadmot Mecholah.


2014-07-19 18:44
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