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For over 35 years, Machon Meir has become known throughout Israel as the place to get a deeper understanding what it truly means to be a member of the Jewish people. It has also become the landing point for many new immigrants from all over the world because of the institute’s encouragement of living in the Land of Israel. Machon Meir has also created a strategy to distribute Torah worldwide through their media channel, Arutz Meir. Since it began, Arutz Meir has debuted a range of television series and archived over 25,000 classes which are constantly being updated and viewed daily throughout the world in 5 different languages. With a variety of topics and discussions led by renowned Jewish scholars, our viewers will surely find a class that will create sparks of inspiration. Whether you are looking to connect to your Jewish heritage or you are simply seeking out answers, we exist to imbue the words of Torah and engage our viewers with real and meaningful
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“За чашкой чая”
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Присоединяйтесь, приходите к нам на чашечку чая.
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Por más de 35 años, Machon Meir ha dado a conocer a través de Israel como el lugar para obtener una comprensión más profunda lo que realmente significa ser un miembro del pueblo judío. También se ha convertido en el punto de aterrizaje para muchos nuevos inmigrantes de todas partes del mundo, porque de aliento de la vida en la Tierra de Israel del instituto. Majón Meir también ha creado una estrategia para distribuir la Torá en todo el mundo a través de su canal de medios, Arutz Meir. Desde sus inicios, Arutz Meir ha estrenado una serie de series de televisión y archivado más de 25.000 clases que constantemente se están actualizando y ver todos los días en todo el mundo en 5 idiomas diferentes. Con una variedad de temas y discusiones dirigidas por renombrados eruditos judíos, nuestros televidentes seguramente encontrará una clase que va a crear chispas de inspiración.
Rabino Rafael Spangenthal
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Rav Dov Bigon
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FOR FRIDAY NIGHT: Choosing the Battle of Life (Ki Teitzei)
WEEKLY ALIYOT: Parshat Ki Teitzei
Elul 8, 5774 · September 3, 2014
Ki Teitzei Aliya Summary
General Overview: This week’s reading, Ki Teitzei, contains 74 commandments, more mitzvot than any other Torah portion. Some of the commandments discussed: the law of the rebellious son, the obligation to bury the dead without undue delay, the requirement to return a found object, the prohibition against causing pain to any living creature, the prohibition against prostitution, the laws of marriage and divorce, the procedure of the Levirate marriage, and the obligation to eradicate the memory of Amalek.
First Aliyah: This section begins with a discussion regarding female captives of war, and lays down the conditions under which a soldier may marry a captive. The right of a firstborn son to a double portion of his father’s inheritance is then detailed. The section concludes with the procedure for dealing with an aberrantly rebellious child.
Second Aliyah: Commandments discussed in this section: Speedy burial of the deceased, returning a lost object to its owner, aiding a neighbor when his animal has fallen because of its burden, the prohibition against cross-dressing, and the obligation to send away a mother bird before taking its chicks or eggs.
Third Aliyah: Some commandments discussed in this section: Building a safety fence around a flat roof; the prohibitions against sowing mixtures of seeds, plowing with a mixed pair of animals, or wearing a garment which contains a mixture of wool and linen (shatnez); wearing tzitzit; the penalty for a husband who defames his wife; the punishment for adultery; the penalty for rape; and certain prohibited marriages.
Fourth Aliyah: Some commandments discussed in this section: maintaining pure and hygienic army encampments, impurity resulting from seminal emissions, prohibition against prostitution, prohibition against lending with interest, and the obligation to honor vows.
Fifth Aliyah: This section details the right of field workers to eat from the produce they are harvesting. The Torah then briefly discusses marriage and the bill of divorce. A divorced couple cannot remarry if the woman has been remarried to another man (and divorced again or widowed) in the interim.
Sixth Aliyah: More mitzvot: A newlywed man is exempt from military service for a full year. It is forbidden to accept utensils used to prepare food as loan security or to forcibly take a debtor’s possessions as collateral, and a poor man’s security must be temporarily returned to him on a daily basis. Kidnapping is a capital offense. We are commanded to always remember that Miriam was afflicted with tzara’at for speaking badly about Moses.
Seventh Aliyah: We are forbidden to withhold or delay a worker’s wages. Relatives’ testimony is inadmissible in a court of law. Various mandatory gifts for the poor are discussed. The procedure for corporal punishment is outlined. The mitzvah of Levirate marriage (yibum) is introduced: if a married childless man dies, his brother is obligated to marry the widow. If the brother refuses to marry the widow, he and she go through achalitzah ceremony, which frees her to marry whomever she wishes. We are instructed to maintain accurate weights and measures. The reading ends with the mitzvah to remember Amalek’s evil deed, ambushing the Israelites on their way from Egypt.
PARSHAH PICKS: What If You Mess Up? (Ki Teitzei)
CHASSIDIC DIMENSION: Marriage & Divorce — Divine Style (Ki Teitzei)
Marriage & Divorce — Divine Style
The vast majority of laws relating to Jewish marriage and divorce are derived from verses in the Torah portion Seitzei.1
The relationship between husbands and wives is similar to the relationship between G-d and the Jewish people. It thus follows that marriage and divorce as experienced between mortal spouses derives from the “marriage” and the so-called “divorce” between G-d and the Jewish people.
The marriage of G-d and the Jewish people took place when He gave them the Torah, as the Mishnah states:2 “ ‘The day of His marriage’ — this refers to Mattan Torah. ”
Although according to Jewish law betrothal requires an act by the groom, i.e., the groom gives the bride an object of value and states: “You are consecrated to me…,” this act must have the full consent of the bride; a woman cannot be married against her will.3
The same was true with regard to G-d’s betrothal and marriage of the Jewish people when He gave them the Torah: G-d revealed His great love to the Jewish people in order to rouse their love for Him,4 so that the Jewish people would desire to be “married” to Him. Although this love for G-d resulted from G-d’s arousal of the emotion within them, and did not come about of the Jews’ own volition, it had so profound an effect on them that their love for Him became part and parcel of their very being.
Thus the Rambam states as a point of law5 that every Jew, even one who is on an extremely low spiritual level, “desires to perform all the mitzvos and distance himself from transgressions.” It is simply that this desire is sometimes concealed and must be brought to the fore.
Just as the Jewish people’s love for G-d permeates their being, and is always whole and absolute, so too with regard to His love for them: it permeates His entire essence, as it were, and something that is part of one’s essence is not subject to change.
This blissful state of marriage between G-d and the Jewish people existed until the period of exile, at which time there came about a state of “divorce,” as the Gemararecords:6 “The Jewish people responded to the prophet with a telling rejoinder…’A woman who was divorced by her husband — can one party possibly then complain about [the conduct of] the other?’ ”
This means to say that since during times of exile, G-d is not found in a revealed manner among the Jewish people; it is as if He had divorced them.
In truth, however, G-d’s love for the Jews is so essential to His being that even when this love is suppressed to the extent that He metaphorically “divorces” them, He is still very much with them; the “divorce” is not really a divorce at all. Truly, it is nothing but a temporary separation, which He will rectify when He once again reveals His essential love for them; remarriage will not be necessary.
Accordingly it is to be understood that the “temporary separation” engendered by exile reveals a depth of the relationship between G-d and the Jewish people that is even more profound than that revealed prior to the “divorce.”
Before the estrangement, one could have thought that the connection between G-d and the Jewish people was predicated upon their performance of Torah and mitzvos. When we observe, however, that during periods of exile, when the Jewish people are wanting in their performance of Torah and mitzvos , G-d loves them all the same, this proves that His love is not based on any external factor, but is truly an intrinsic and essential love.
Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. IX, pp. 143-150.
GARDEN OF TORAH: War and Peace (Ki Teitzei)
Elul 9, 5774 · September 4, 2014
War and Peace
By Eli Touger
Will a Dove Grow Claws?
Every day, we conclude the Shemoneh Esreh prayers by praising G-d “who blesses His people Israel with peace.”1 And when describing the blessings G-d will bestow upon us if we follow His will, our Sages state, “peace is equivalent to all other blessings.”2 Indeed, our Sages explain3 that Shalom, Hebrew for “peace,” is one of the names of G-d Himself.
Why does peace play such a fundamental part in our Jewish heritage? Every man’s soul is “an actual part of G-d from above.”4 Therefore he possesses a natural desire to allow that G-dly spark an opportunity to express itself. He seeks to grow in understanding in a harmonious environment without being confronted by external challenges.
Unfortunately, this is not always possible. We live in a material world which by nature encourages selfishness and the quest for personal gratification. In such a world, the search for spiritual growth may often lead to conflicts of interest, and at times, actual conflict.
These concepts are alluded to in the name of this week’s Torah reading, Parshas Ki Seitzei which begins:5 “When you go out to battle against your enemies.” In the soul’s natural environment the spiritual worlds above there is no conflict. When, however, the soul “goes out” from that setting and descends to our material world, it is confronted by challenges that may require it to engage in battle.
For there are two aspects to material existence. Our world was created because G-d “desired a dwelling in the lower worlds,”6 i.e., the physical universe can serve as a dwelling for G-d, a place where His essence is revealed. But as the term “lower worlds” implies, G-d’s existence is not readily apparent in our environment. On the contrary, the material nature of the world appears to preclude holiness. An attempt to resolve these two contradictory thrusts is thus often characterized by conflict.
This is the Torah’s conception of war, a struggle to transform even the lowest elements of existence into a dwelling for G-d. For this reason, the Torah commanded the Jews to fight to conquer the Land of Canaan, and thereby turn a land which was notorious for its depravity7 into Eretz Yisrael, a land of which it is said “the eyes of the L-rd, your G-d, are upon it from the beginning of the year until the end of the year.”8
Furthermore, even when there is no explicit command for war, the potential is there to forcefully extend the boundaries of holiness and enable it to encompass areas which were previously governed by worldliness.9
Discovering Our Resources
A person need not fear undertaking such efforts; on the contrary, he is assured Divine blessing. This is alluded to by the Hebrew על אויבךš , translated as “against your enemies,” in the verse cited above. Literally the phrase means “above your enemies,”10conveying the promise that even as the soul descends into our material world and confronts challenges, it always possesses the power to overcome them. Since the soul is “an actual part of G-d,” it is always above worldly influence and has the power to overcome all obstacles11 and transform its environment.
Moreover, it is the challenge of “battle” that brings out the essential power which the soul possesses. For such confrontation compels a person to draw on his inner strength. This search for strength in turn brings an awareness of one’s inner G-dly nature. And when that G-dly core is aroused, a person can overcome any challenges, and spread G-dliness in all settings. In this way, he becomes G-d’s partner,12 making manifest G-d’s purpose in creation.
The concept of battle is relevant within our own lives as well. Commenting on the verse, “And you shall… see the difference between one who serves G-d and one who does not serve Him,”13 our Sages define,14 “one who serves G-d” as “one who reviews his subject matter 101 times,” and “one who does not serve Him’ as “one who reviews his subject matter 100 times.”
In Tanya,15 the Alter Rebbe explains that, in that era, it was customary for students to review their subject matter 100 times. Therefore, it was the one hundred and first time the time when the person went beyond his normal practice which distinguished him as “one who serves G-d.” For only one who struggles to rise above his nature merits such a title.
A person must challenge himself; and this means more than a commitment to gradual progress. “Serving G-d,” involves breaking our individual natures, and showing that there are no limits to our commitment to Him.
This endeavor involves a constant struggle. A person cannot reach a level of spiritual achievement and then “rest on his laurels.” Instead, he must continually strive to advance further.
The inner “battles” necessary to bring this commitment to the fore tap the essential and unbounded Divine potential each of us possesses within our souls. And the effects of these efforts extend beyond our individual selves, effecting the world at large. For the aspect of G-dliness which transcends all limitation is activated by each person’s endeavors to transcend his personal limits.16
The Ultimate Battles
Because the task of refining the world is often compared to a battle, one of the criteria given to identify Mashiach the leader who will motivate mankind to accomplish its purpose is that he will “wage the wars of G-d.”17 For it is possible that the task of refining the world will require actual conflict,18 so that Mashiach must “fill the world with justice” by “destroying the power of the wicked and waging the wars of G-d.”19
This, however, is merely a stage. Ultimately, Mashiach will “vanquish all the nations surrounding him… and perfect the entire world, [motivating all the nations] to serve G-d together,” thus initiating the era when “there will be neither famine nor war, neither envy nor competition… [and] the occupation of the entire world will be solely to know G-d.”20
ONCE UPON A CHASID: The Cry of a Child (Ki Teitzei)
Elul 9, 5774 · September 4, 2014
The Cry of a Child
By Yanki Tauber
You shall not see your brother’s ox or sheep going astray and ignore them; rather, you should restore them to your brother…
And so you shall do with every lost thing of your brother – you may not remain oblivious (22:1-3)
When Rabbi DovBer of Lubavitch was a young man, he lived in the same house as his father, Rabbi Schneur Zalman. Rabbi DovBer and his family lived in the ground floor apartment, and Rabbi Schneur Zalman lived on the second floor.
One night, while Rabbi DovBer was deeply engrossed in his studies, his youngest child fell out of his cradle. Rabbi DovBer heard nothing. But Rabbi Schneur Zalman, who was also immersed in study in his room on the second floor, heard the infant’s cries. The Rebbe came downstairs, lifted the infant from the floor, soothed his tears, replaced him in the cradle, and rocked him to sleep. Rabbi DovBer remained oblivious throughout it all.
Later, Rabbi Schneur Zalman admonished his son: “No matter how lofty your involvements, you must never fail to hear the cry of a child.”
The Lubavitcher Rebbe told this story to a gathering of community activists in 1962. “To me,” said the Rebbe, “this story characterizes the approach of Chabad-Lubavitch. With all the emphasis on self-refinement and one’s personal service of the Almighty, one must always hear the cry of a child.
“This is most applicable today, when so many Jewish children of all ages, have fallen out of the cradle of their heritage. Their souls cry out to us, and we must have the sensitivity to hear their cries and to respond. We must interrupt our prayers and our studies and do everything in our power to sooth these desperate souls and restore them to their cradle.”
FOR FRIDAY NIGHT: Choosing the Battle of Life (Ki Teitzei)
Elul 9, 5774 · September 4, 2014
Choosing the Battle of Life
There are the material battles in life of which we are all aware. These include our individual economic struggles, conflicts with neighbors, international politics, encounters with terrorism and war (G-d forbid).
Another kind of battle which engages us is spiritual. It takes place primarily within ourselves, where there are two empires at war: the empire of the spirit, of Jewish ideals, of Torah; and that of ordinary and everyday needs, desires and attitudes. The struggle between these two forces within us extends throughout our lives.
Our parshah begins by speaking of war: “When you go out in battle against your enemies” (Deuteronomy 21:10)–and the Sages explain that these verses apply to our inner spiritual battle, as well.
The goals in this conflict are set by the Torah: to make G-dliness a part of our daily lives through keeping G-d’s commandments, and to create homes and families where the atmosphere is harmonious and wholesome, expressing the values of thousands of years of Torah teachings.
Against this come all kinds of threats. Some of them are very simple issues such as convenience and self-indulgence. Others are more problematic obsessions, which seem to haunt us continuously.
In this life-long situation we are each called on to go to war. Like a good strategist fighting a battle on a difficult front, the Torah takes into consideration where to make concessions to the frailties of man, and where not to.1 Guidance by rabbis and rebbetzins today is often given precisely for subtle borderline issues.
However, there is an interesting comment by the sages which illuminates the paradox of life. Two kinds of battle are described in Jewish law: a battle which is a duty (such as to save the lives of the Jewish people) and a battle which is optional, such as King David’s battles to extend the territory of the Land of Israel. The Sages describe the battle in our Torah portion as “optional.”
How can the spiritual battle of life, struggling to keep the Torah properly, be described as optional? Surely it is imposed on us by the very fact that we are born?
Chassidic teachings give an interesting answer. The sages say that G-d consulted the righteous before He created the world.2 Furthermore, every Jew is considered to be righteous.3 Hence creation in general, and consequently the fact of each person being born, has been approved by each individual soul.
This means that on a profound level, each of our souls has chosen to be here. Our soul chose the option to come into the world, to face the spiritual and indeed material battles involved, because it was confident it would come out on top. The battle is “optional” because this is the option we chose. We chose to be here, and on every front, we are going to win.4