Sunday, February 5, 2012

Friday, March 2, 2007

Let's get stoned!

Parsha for the Table

Vol 2 Issue 19

Parshas Tetzaveh

“Everyone is a jewel”

Twelve stones on the choshen, representing the twelve tribes. This seems to be wrong. In the name of unity, shouldn’t we have ONE stone representing the entire Klal Yisrael?

The Chofetz Chaim gave a parable along these lines:

There was once a factory owner in England during WWI who was given an exemption from the draft. He decided to close his factory anyway and joined the British air force, where he became a very successful pilot. After one successful mission where he had shot down three German planes he was arrested upon landing at his British home base.

“I am a war hero” he exclaimed!

“You are a fool.” The military policeman answered. “ It’s true you have shot down many enemy planes, but because you closed your factory we are very short on supplies we need to win the war!”

Within different groups of Jews there are different abilities and talents that are needed to fulfill our purpose as the chosen nation. And within each person the same is true.

Have a great Shabbos,

Rabbi Bader

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Do You Really Want Me?

Parsha for the Table
Vol 2 Issue 18
Parshas Terumah

עשו לי מקדש ושכנתי בתוכם
"And they shall make for me a Mikdash, and I will dwell among them."

The commentators point out an anomaly in this possuk. It doesn't say I will dwell there, rather, "I will dwell among them." In other words, the purpose of the Mishkan was not for Hashem to dwell there, rather it was the means for us to be close to Hashem. Some of the commentators have made mini-sefarim explaining how each part of the Mishkan represents a different part of the body (i.e.- the Malbim). The message is clear. Each individual has to perfect himself through Torah and mitzvos in order to be close to Hashem.

But for all this intellectual talk, there is something that I think is missing. The desire. Before we can even begin to discuss what it takes to have Hashem's presence rest upon us individually, we have to first really want that closeness to Hashem. Even if only on a superficial level, we have to be able to say, "Hashem, we want to be close to You, all the time!" Only then will it help to get all the other details right that lead us there.

Have a great Shabbas.
Rabbi Bader.

Friday, February 16, 2007

"More questions"

Parsha for the Table
Vol 2 Issue 17
פרשת משפטים

"More questions"
(24,3) Moishe tells a small group of mitzvos.(7 mitzvos bnei noach, shabbos, kibud av vaim, para aduma, and the "dinim" that they learnt in Marah-Rashi) and we answer "Na'aseh"
(24,7) Moishe reads to us the entire Sefer Breishis until Matan Torah, and the "Mitzvos" that were commanded at Marah (Rashi), and we answer "Na'aseh v'Nishma"

If I have right pshat in the pasuk, we are loaded with questions.
1. Why did we only say Na'aseh the first time, and Na'aseh v'Nishma the second time?
2. What is the difference between dinim of Marah and the commandments of Marah?
3. What is the purpose of having a two-part process?

Have a great Shabbos
Rabbi Bader

Friday, February 9, 2007

"Can G-d be shot down?!!!!"

Parsha for the Table
Vol 2 issue 16
Parshas Yisro
לעלוי נשמת יוסף בן אלטר איסר

"Can G-d be shot down?!!!!"

"On wings of eagles" Hashem took us from Mitzrayim (19,4 ). Rashi explains that this eagle flies higher then any other birds and consequently is only afraid of the arrows of people. It says "Better I take the arrows then my kids." So to Hashem absorbed the Egyption arrows in the "clouds of glory" when it was in-between the chasing Egyption army and Klal Yisral.

Question: When the eagle places its babies on its back, it is sacrificing its own safety. How that be compared to Hashem, who by definition cannot be hurt.
Sorry, I'm stumped. Any ideas?

Friday, February 2, 2007

Wife problems? Kidnap her!

Parsha for the Table
Volume 2 Issue 15
לעילוי נשמת חנה בת ר' מרדכי גימפל
Wife problems? Kidnap her!

Klal Yisrael leaves Egypt after witnessing tremendous miracles from Hashem. A short while later they find themselves facing the Yam Suf with nowhere to turn but up. Why did Hashem so suddenly put them in such a dire situation?
The Midrash tells us a story that sheds some light on what is happening.
There was once a King who was traveling when he happened upon a woman being attacked by ruffians. He and his soldiers subsequently saved her. She was very appreciative and began to spend time with the king. The King found her company pleasing and decided to marry her. After some time, she started to ignore the King. So the King hired a new band of ruffians to stage a kidnapping. She screams. He saved her. Relationship saved.
When Klal Yisrael left Mitzraim they began to take Hashem for granted. Hashem caused the change of events to lead them to call out to Him. What's eye opening about this Medrish is not that Hashem wants us to call out to Him; rather he wants us to have a consistent and honest relationship with Him.
Have a great Shabbos.
Rabbi Bader

Friday, January 26, 2007

The First Jewish Holocaust

Parsha for the Table
Volume 2 Issue 14

פרשת בא: לעלוי נשמת עטל בת יצחק משה

“The First Jewish Holocaust”

The act of slaughtering the Pesach lamb, which was at that time one of the Egyptian gods, required tremendous mesiras nefesh. Imagine all the Jews walking into the Catholic Churches, taking down the statues and crosses and burning them for Lag B’Omer.
But there is an aspect of this deed that I have not seen discussed. Rashi tells us (10:22) that during the first three days of darkness there were many evil Jews who died. Rashi in parshas Beshalach (13:18) tells us that the number that died was 4/5 of clal Yisrael.
So let’s do some simple math.
We know there were 600,000 men between the ages of 20 and 60 that left Egypt. That would mean that 2.4 million men of the same age died during the darkness. Add in women and the elderly, it would certainly not be unimaginable to assume that around 6 million Jews perished during that three day period.
Now, imagine what it would take, after watching most of your friends and family perish, to now go and risk your lives to listen to the words of Hashem to make the korban Pesach.
It’s not a wonder that we celebrate this night for the next 3000 years.
“Mi C’Amcha Yisrael?”
Have a great Shabbas.
Rabbi Bader

If you’d like to sponsor an issue drop me a line (all proceeds go to my student incentive fund).

Friday, January 19, 2007

"Go Ahead...MAKE MY DAY" (Dirty Harry)

Parsha for the Table
Volume 2 Issue 13
Parshas Vaera

The movie and video game culture that we live in has taught us that the one who wins the fight is the one who has the better one-liner when he pulls the trigger. Nowadays, it would almost be unthinkable to create a hero that doesn't talk down his opponents. We look up to sports players who know how to show up the other team. Clal Yisroel has a different way.
In the beginning of the Parsha, Hashem makes a seemingly strange command to Moshe and Ahron. He tells them to deal with Clal Yisroel pleasantly and with patience, and to treat Pharoah with respect (6:13, Rashi).
You might think that when trying to get people to listen to you, you need to have all the options of speech available; to speak softly, or to speak harshly, as situations demand. Especially when dealing with a man like Pharoah, who bathed in babies blood, it wouldn't matter how to speak to him.
If this is how we're supposed to save Clal Yisroel and punish Pharoah, with soft spoken words and patience, how much more so should we use these same attributes when speaking with our friends and family?
Sorry for last week, have a great Shabbas, Rabbi Bader.

Friday, January 5, 2007

“The Saddest Conversation Ever”

Parsha for the Table
Vol 2 Issue 12
Parshas Vayechi

“The Saddest Conversation Ever”

In my mind, it has to be the last few psukim of Sefer Breishis.

When Yaacov Avinu dies, Yosaif’s brothers come to him to plea for their lives. They still thought he would kill them. So they invented a story that Yaacov had commanded him not to harm them. Yosaif then proceeds to pacify them and convince them that even if he wanted to he couldn’t harm them. (Look in Rashi there.)
We, the readers of the Chumash, could just start crying. This is just one big lack of communication!! Imagine a scene where the Chofetz Chaim is trying to convince R’ Chaim Kanievsky, R’ Mattisyahu Solomon, R’ Moshe Feinstein, Rebbi David Abuchatzeira, and Harav Nebenzahl Shlita that he truly loves them and won’t have them killed. What a sad way to end Breishis!
How can we have peace in Klal Yisrael if the great sons of Yaacov couldn’t unite?

Maybe after all of the building of the foundation of our nation that the Avos did, Hashem saw a hole in our unity that needed to be fixed. Perhaps this is one of the purposes of the torture and slavery of Golus Mitzraim, to bring us together in a way that only adversity can. And if so, this is the proper prelude for Sefer Shmos, explaining how Hashem Yisborach is truly looking to help us reach our potential in this world. Chazak, Chazak, V’nitchazeik. Have courage; G-d is looking out for us.

Have a great Shabbos
Rabbi Bader

Friday, December 29, 2006

No shoes, no shirt, no service!

Parsha for the Table
Vol 2 Issue 11
Parshas Vayigash
"What does that prove?!"
When Yosaif reveals himself to his brothers, Rashi (45,4) tells us that he decided to give them proof of who he really was. What was his proof? He called them over to show them that he was circumcised. This is puzzling, for Rashi at the in last week’s parsha (41,55) says that Yosaif made all Egyptions get a circumcision before buying food. If all of Mitzrayim is circumcised, what does Yosaif having a bris prove?
The answer I think is rather simple. Yosaif was the only one in Egypt who knew what a bris mila meant. No impostor would even think to show their bris because they didn’t understand its’ significance.
If we don’t learn about the meaning behind bris mila, and for that matter each and every other Mitzva, we are very similar to the Egyptions who had no idea what they were doing. When we learn about the beauty and importance of the Mitzvos, then we can turn to our brothers and say “I am also a proud Jew, I am one of you”.

Have a great Shabbos,
Rabbi Bader

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Interview with Rabbi Binyamin Jacobs'

Parsha for the Table Vol. 2 Issue 10

Interview with Rav Binyamin Jacob’s

Q: We were wondering if you could help us understand your brother Yosaif’s actions.

Binyamin: I love my brother very much, and would be glad to help set the record straight.

Q. Are biggest problem is the revenge issue. Doesn’t the Torah specifically prohibit taking revenge? Yet Yosaif deceives his brothers, accuses them of spying, and imprisons Shimon.

Binyamin: There is no question that revenge was the last thing on Yosaif’s mind. For that, who needs deceit? It would have been much sweeter just to say who he was and punish them.

Q. So why all of the theatrics?

Binyamin: To put them into the same situation as they were when they sold him. This would give them the opportunity to do real Tshuva. (Alshich)

Q. How was the situation the same? When your brothers sold Yosaif, they were certain they were dealing with a bad person. When they defended you for stealing Yosaif’s goblet, you were clearly innocent!

Binyamin: Not quite. I actually went to great length’s to appear guilty. When Menashe found the goblet in my bag, they actually beat me and called me “Thief, son of a thief), for my mother had stolen the idols from Lavan. (Midrash Rabbah)

Q. Why didn’t you declare your innocence?!

Binyamin: Because Yosaif had revealed himself to me at the palace and asked me to play along. (Sefer Hayashar)

Q. Even so, you lacked a motive for stealing a goblet.

Binyamin: I had a great motive. They thought I wanted to use the goblet to find Yosaif. After all, I cared about Yosaif so much that I named all ten of my children in his memory. (Midrash Rabbah)

Q. How would the silver goblet help?

Binyamin: At the dinner in the palace, Yosaif pretended it was a magic goblet, revealing hidden things to him. For example, he picked it up, smelled it, and said, “My magic goblet tells me that Yehuda is a king and should sit at the head of the table, and Reuvain is the first-born and should sit next to him.” He likewise revealed many things about the brothers that an Egyptian viceroy could not have known. (Midrash Rabbah)

Q. So it was only natural that you would want the goblet to reveal to you what happened to Yosaif.

Binyamin: They now had to defend a thief whose sole goal was to find Yosaif. They now used their regret for having sold Yosaif as a motivation for getting it right this time around. When we learn from our mistakes, and actually use them to strengthen our resolve to improve; that is the very essence of Tshuva.

Have a great Shabbos

Rabbi Bader

Thursday, December 14, 2006

"Would you like fries with your lethal injection?"

Parsha for the Table
Vol 2 Issue 9
פרשת וישב

"Before lethal injection, does it really matter what your last meal is?"

Apparently to some, it does.

"On November 6th 2006, John Schmitt was executed for the murder of a guard during a bank robbery. Schmitt shot the victim to death during the Feb. 17, 1999, robbery of a NationsBank branch in Bon Air. John Schmitt, 33, had a final meal request of cheese pizza, a cheese omelet with sausage, green peppers and onions, and white cake with white icing."

I personally don't think I would care whether or not I would be eating milchig or fleishig for my last meal. There are just some situations that are so bad that no matter what pleasantries are available, you could care less. For example, if my brother would ignore my pleading and sell me to a wandering band of Arabs. That would probably upset me to the point of not caring about how bad the cargo the caravan is carrying smells.
Yet Hashem does focus on just that.(Breishis 37,25 Rashi). When Yosef is sold, Hashem sees to it that his buyers aren't carrying their usual smelly goods, only nice-smelling spices and together with other pleasant fragrances. Why should Yosef care about the smell? His brothers think he is evil; so evil that he deserves to be killed; and he is being sold down the river to who knows where.
There is a lesson here. (By now you should know there is always a lesson.) Even in the worst of times, Hashem sends a message "I haven't forgotten you; I am still thinking of you. I am still with you." That realization gives strength, knowing that behind all the chaos is a master plan being executed by the Master Planner.

Have a great Shabbos,
Rabbi Bader

Friday, December 8, 2006

Don't trust your kindergarten teacher!


Parsh for the Table
Vol 2 Issue 8
פרשת וישלח

Don't trust your kindergarten teacher!

I have a lot of respect for pre-school teachers. But sometimes they just get it wrong. Just because they can't imagine how a rectangular vessel can float doesn't mean Noah's ark was a houseboat. The same holds true with the tablets of the 10 commandments, they were not rounded off. (That misconception is Michelangelo's fault.)
So we come to the famous hug and kiss between Yaacov and Eisav. (perek 33, pasuk 4). Dots on top of the וישקהו, and then crying. So we are quoted the Midrash that Eisav tried to bite Yaacov's neck and kill him and Hashem hardened his neck; Yaacov cries because his neck hurts; Eisav because his teeth hurt. (That's what I was taught.) But the midrash doesn't talk about the crying; why they cried is my morah's assumption. She may be right, but I suspect something more profound is happening.

The original partnership that Yitzchak planned was for Yaacov to be involved in Torah, and Eisav involved in business providing for Yaacov. This would have been the ultimate plan for the universe, except for one problem. Eisav proved that someone only involved in the world has no chance against the יצר הרע. So Yaacov has to add to his job of learning Torah the job of making a living. (Now you know why the decision of Torah verses Parnasa is so complicated; it never should have been this way.)

For one moment in history, when Eisav is about to embrace Yaacov, it seems that Eisav was finally able to rise above his demons and take his proper place in Klal Yisrael. But ultimately, he couldn't. His last minute-decision to kill Yaacov is a gut-wrenching failure, at a moment when there seemed to be so much promise.

When it is clear that someone chooses not to live up to his purpose of existence, not to reach true fulfillment of his life; that is a real tragedy. Not only Yaacov cries, but so does Eisav…. so does Eisav.

Friday, December 1, 2006


Parsha for the Table

Vol 2 Issue 7

פרשת ויצא

"How do get G-d to move mountains for you."

Yaacov traveled all the way down to Charan, passing the temple mount bye. He realized that he missed an opportunity to daven there, and then turned back. Hashem then uproots Har HaBayis and brings it to him. Rashi asks (28:17) "Why didn't Hashem just stop him when he passed it originally?"

His answer is eye opening. Hashem said, "If Yaacov doesn't think about davening there, why should I stop him?" Only later when he decides to go back, Hashem moves the mountain for him.

In short, if you want to do the wrong thing, Hashem gets out of the way. But even after you blow it and decide to get it right, Hashem will move mountains to help you.

Look at your lives and the lives of people you know and see how true this is.

Have a great Shabbas.

Rabbi Bader

Friday, November 24, 2006

תולדות "Nightmare on Elm Street is Walt Disney compared to this"


Parsha for the Table
Vol 2 Issue 6

"The only thing we have to fear is NOT fear itself"

Yitzchak has just made potentially the biggest mistake in history. The ramifications of giving the keys to the universe to the wrong son are mind-boggling and irreversible. And Yitzchack is seized by an awesome terror, the true essence of fear (perek 27, pasuk 33).
Rashi teaches us an unforgettable lesson here. In pasuk 36, he quotes a midrash "Why was Yitzchak so terrified? He thought 'Maybe I did a sin that caused me to make this mistake'" I am not convinced that the fear was so much for the consequences as for the possibility thought he had done an aveira. But I am convinced that the basic understanding of the way Hashem set up the universe is undeniable. When something goes wrong, it MUST have sin as its root cause. Period. It's a good thing we have tshuva.

Have a great Shabbos,
Rabbi Bader

Sunday, November 19, 2006

חיי שרה "The worst funeral pick-up lines"


Parsha for the Table
Vol 2 Issue 5
חיי שרה

"She was so beautiful, a hundred years ago."

100+20+7. That's how old Sara was when she died. Rashi notes that the pasuk doesn't say 127 straight, rather splitting each set, to teach us something. At 100 years old she was as free of sin as when she was 20; at 20 she was as beautiful as when she was 7.
Can someone please explain to me the praise of beautiful at 20?
1.I don't think telling someone she used to be pretty many years ago is such a compliment.
2.Physical beauty is comes from Hashem, and for the Torah (meaning Hashem) to praise her for it is highly suspect.
3.At the point of being eulogized, Sara is already in the world of truth, her true self is totally separated from the clothing of her body, and it is forever clear that her totality does not include anything physical.

Let's look at the Rashi again. She was without sin from 20 to 100. And at 20 she was beautiful. Connect the dots. Despite the fact that she was the best-looking woman of her generation (top four ever), and had the greatest men of her generation (Pharoh, Og, Avimelech) falling all over themselves to marry her; she lived her entire life without sin . Without even the sin ga'ava over her beauty.
What practical lessons can we learn from that?