Kislev 5769

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Kislev 5769
e-mitzion
The official newsletter of
Midreshet HaRova
8 th edition- Channukah 5769
A Message from Rav Milston
‫מאמרו של ראש המדרשה‬
...‫מוסיפים אור‬
Torah is Light...
From Our Rosh Midrasha Rav David Milston
“For the Mitzvah is a lamp;
and Torah is light; and
reproofs of instruction are
the way of life…” (Mishlei
6:23)
T
he Mitzvah of Chanuka instructs us to
leave the comfort and warmth of our
house, to stand outside in the darkness
of night, during the darkest days of the
month (between the 25th of Kislev and
the 2nd of Tevet there is little to no view
of the moon in the skies, even on the
clearest of nights), at the darkest time of
the year (the longest night of the year is
mid-December), and light the Chanukia
lights whilst praising Hashem!
What is darkness, what is light, and
what is this Mitzvah teaching us?
Ramchal in Chapter 3 of Messilat Yesharim
explains:
“The darkness of ‘night’ causes two types
In this Edition:
of errors in relation to a man’s eye: it may
either cover his eye so that he does not
see what is before him at all, or it may
deceive him so that a pillar appears to him
as a man, or a man as a pillar. Similarly, in
the spiritual sense, the earthiness and
materialism of the world is the darkness
of night to the mind’s eye and causes
man to err in two ways:
From the Rosh
First, it does not permit him to see the
stumbling blocks in the way of the world,
so that fools walk securely, fall and are
lost without having experienced any
prior fear. Their hearts are steadfast and
they fall before having any knowledge
whatsoever of the existence of the
stumbling block.
Lights!’
The second error, however, is even worse
than the first, and it stems from the
distortion of their sight, so that they see
evil as though it were goodness itself,
with Us!
Midrasha
Chanukah -A Model
for Celebrating
Israeli Independence
Rav Ari Shvat (Chwat)
‘Action,(Camera),
Rav Jonathan Bailey
Chanukah – Did You
Know That?
Bogrot CornerShare Your Pictures
Announcements
and Mazal tovs
A Message from Rav Milston ‫מאמרו של ראש המדרשה‬
and good as if it were evil, and, because of this,
strengthen themselves in clinging to their evil ways.
For it is not enough that they lack the ability to see
the truth, the evil staring them in the face, but they
also see fit to find powerful substantiations and
empirical evidence supporting their evil theories
and false ideas.”
these months. Darkness is at its strongest the
potential to stumble more likely than at any other
time in the year, and the world news of today is only
compounding our problem.
We have finished our last hakafa and taken down
the sukkah, but we must be oh so careful not to
lock the Sefer Torah away, and remove our trust in
Hashem. We have gone back to work, and we have
When we speak of winter, we are normally referring
a long wait until seder night. Our focus has moved
to the period between Sukkot and Pesach when the
from selichot to the balance sheet. We work hard
weather‘hopefully’becomes increasingly colder and
every day, and get more and more involved in the
wetter. But this period is not only physically winter it
appears to be a spiritual winter too. Having enjoyed
issues of this world, the darkness sets in. At this
seven weeks of religious inspiration and elevation
stage we are in imminent danger of accidentally
between Rosh Chodesh Ellul and Simchat Torah, we
realigning our priorities, placing our religious
are now faced with a bleak and tough
ambition on a low flame whilst we
five-month stretch, lacking any real
totally immerse ourselves in our work,
Without
that
light,
festivity, with only Chanuka and Purim
and indeed gradually, the closeness to
not
only
are
we
in
to brighten up the darkness!
God that we felt just six weeks ago now
seems a remote experience at best or an
danger of falling,
This five-month period is in fact our
unimportant factor at worst.
we are in danger of
‘bread and butter’; it is the routine
swapping the good for But now in the midst of darkness,
time in our lives, where if we hold firm
bad and the bad for
and persevere religiously, we can really
specifically now, when we stand outside
achieve something formidable. Here
surrounded by winter, we must light
good.
we are left ‘on our own’ to struggle
our lights. It is now that we need to see
with the
the darkness for what it really is. There are those
reality of day to day life and its spiritual challenges;
of us who just need the light so that they will not
there is little symbolism and activity to trigger our
stumble, but there are those of us who need the
light in order to be able to realign ourselves and see
hidden potential into action, our success much
the world in its truest light.
depends on our inner strength and self-motivation;
we are nonetheless comforted with the knowledge
Without that light, not only are we in danger of
that if we do succeed, the achievement will be ours
falling, we are in danger of swapping the good for
and ours alone.
bad and the bad for good.
Between Sukkot and Pesach we find ourselves in
Chanuka comes to remind us that we have the
a period of darkness; the climax of that darkness
potential to bring light the to darkest of realities.
occurs around Chanuka time, and immediately after
As Netivot Shalom explains, it couldn’t be darker in
Chanuka, or perhaps with the aid of Chanuka, that
the world, yet we can still bring the light, the truth
darkness becomes gradually lighter, until we finally
reach spring.
is there and, with effort, it can be found. The light
is mitzvah, the light is Torah, the light is clarity, the
There is, to my mind, nothing more reflective of the
light is truth.
soul’s battle in this world than our reality during
In the middle of ‘sheker’ we are being told that ‘emet’
A Message from Rav Milston ‫מאמרו של ראש המדרשה‬
can emerge. We have to go out and get it; we have
to leave the ‘safety’ of our houses, we cannot rely on
past achievements, sit back on our laurels and wait
for salvation, we must initiate, go outside and light
the lights. We need to strive for truth, specifically at
a time when we are surrounded by confusion and
lack of clarity. Chanuka inspires, it reminds us that
we can do it, or to coin a popular phrase “Yes we
can!”
As Jews armed with Torah and Mitzvoth we can
survive anywhere and everywhere, we do not need
to hide in our houses, we can go out into the world,
even when the world is at its darkest, not in order to
join that darkness and disappear, but rather to bring
light to it, to help the world clarify - that is ultimately
the role of Am Yisrael. Am Yisrael is compared to
the moon, and just as the moon brings light to the
night, we are to stand as an example to all that see
us. This message is as true of the individual Jew as it
of our nation as a whole. Take the Chanukia into the
darkness, take it to work, take it to the mall, light up
the world wherever you go.
Now more than ever before, with anarchy in the
money market, with terrorism spreading, with the
Iranian threat increasing daily, it is
so easy to get totally immersed in
the growing worries of the world. The Torah is not in the Of course, if the wind is blowing and the
Chanuka says stop! Stop in the middle
rain is pouring down, you cannot light the
Aron it is with us, it is
of the darkness, and remind yourself
Chanuka lights outside for they will be
our light, and it will extinguished, but you can still place them
that you have a neshama, that we
built a sukka to teach us trust, and
by a window facing the street so that an
show us the way.
now is the time to check that trust;
element of darkness is still lit up. There
we danced with the Torah with the
are times when the winter is so severe
utmost love, so if we really love who we are and
that any attempt at lighting lights outside will
what we represent, then we must keep doing those
fail, but we must still do whatever we can without
hakafot around every bima wherever it may be and
endangering our own spiritual reality.
whatever it is, cling to the Torah and have trust in
There is so much uncertainty around us, the
Hashem. The Torah is not in the Aron it is with us, it
world seems so dark, so now, this year more than
is our light, and it will show us the way.
ever before, when we stand outside lighting our
Chanukiot, let us inspire ourselves, let us remember
As we internalize the message of Chanuka, we
that we have made it through 2000 years of darkness,
slowly but surely light up the winter, the days
that we have what it takes to make it to spring, to
become longer, the nights become shorter. When
make it to Pesach, to reach final redemption!
we light up the Chanukia, we clarify everything
that we couldn’t see beforehand, we isolate the
Chag Urim Sameach
stumbling blocks and we recognize the truth. But
Rav Milston
we also make a statement that needs to be made:
Chag Urim Sameach
Chanukah - A Model for Celebrating
Israeli Independence
By Rav Ari Shvat (Chwat)
t is no secret that within the anti-Zionist community, the two
oppositions to the State of Israel are:
1. The existence of a state not based on the laws of the Torah
and
2. Leadership of someone who is not from the house of David.
Ironically, already 750 years ago, the Rambam ingeniously
addressed these problems when summarizing the reason of the
celebration on Chanukah:
“In the period of the second Temple, the kings of Greece issued
decrees against the Jews… Until the G-d of their fathers’ had
mercy on them and rescued them … and the sons of Chashmonai
the high kohanim, rose up … and saved the Jews… and they
appointed a king from the kohanim, and Jewish sovereignty
returned for more than 200 years until the destruction of the
second Temple”. 1
The Rambam specifies twice that the Hasmoneans were
kohanim - in case we did not notice the first time, the Rambam
repeats the fact once again: “and they appointed a king from the
kohanim”. The Rambam is undoubtedly addressing the halachic
problem posed by the appointing of a king who is not from the
tribe of Yehuda, the mashiach (“the anointed” one”):2
Clearly, when the Rambam emphasizes twice (!) that the
Maccabees were priests, and they established a kingdom
from the priests, he is saying, “I am not naïve. I realize that
this is problematic”. Yet, despite the fact that it was forbidden,
nevertheless, we celebrate the fact that “Jewish sovereignty
returned”. National independence is so important, that it is better
to a have a non-ideal Jewish government, than not to have a
Jewish government at all.
If this is the Rambam’s opinion regarding the Hasmonean
dynasty, there is no reason that his approach to the present
State of Israel would be any different, in that regard. To the
contrary, the fact that we do not have an anointed king, rather
an elected prime-minister, makes the State of Israel that much
less problematic!
In addition, it should be noted that the Ramban himself is the
one who particularly emphasizes, that the mitzva of conquering
the Land of Israel, which applies in all generations, is “not to
I
abandon her to the hands of any other nation”.3 In other words,
we are obligated to have Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel.
If necessity dictates to have a leader from a different tribe (e.g.
if we do not know who is from the family of David, or if that
descendent is not competent nor popularly accepted), not only
are we allowed, but we must appoint a leader from another tribe.
Even then, we should not crown him as king.
In today’s reality, the democratic process solves the halachic
problem of the forbidden monarchy, in a very elegant way, and
obviously poses less of a problem, than that of the Maccabean
dynasty.
Moreover, the opinion of the Rambam and Ramban, that the
Maccabees sinned, is not accepted by all of the rishonim. In the
opinion of the Ran, “the scepter will not leave Yehuda” is not a
commandment, and not even a warning, and accordingly, there
was no transgression at all. 4
The Rambam also refers to the question of the nonreligiousness of the state in his words about the kingdom of the
Hasmoneans. He inserts the historical fact, that the kingship of
the Hasmonean’s continued for more than 200 years, into his
halachic work. What connection does this historical fact have to
halacha?
It seems that the Rambam comes to emphasize that we must
thank Hashem for every single year of Jewish sovereignty, even
if it was temporary and eventually ended, and if its spiritual level
is lacking, like the Hasmonean dynasty. The majority of the kings
of this dynasty were Sadducees, Hellenists, and some were even
idolators!5 Not to mention the bloodshed and moral corruption
between man and his fellow man. The g’mara states that the
figure of 200 years of Hasmonean rule includes 103 years that
the kings were from the dynasty of the wicked Herod and his
family!6
According to the Rambam, there is an obligation (and even a
precedent), to celebrate all 200 years of Jewish independence,
even if that government is far from ideal! Consequently, how
much more do we have to give thanks for a state that is simply
irreligious, not idolatrous, and democratic, thus avoiding the
problem of crowning a “non-Judean” king.
1 Rambam, Hil. Chanukah 3,1.
2 Rambam, Sefer HaMitzvot, Lo Ta’aseh 362. See also Ramban,
3 Ramban, Additions to Sefer HaMitzvot, Mitzvat Aseh
4 Drashot HaRan, Drasha 7.
5 See the ref. “Chashmonaim” and “Hordus” in the Encyclopedia Otzar
Breishit 49, 10. It should be noted that Rambam and Ramban
apparently was not familiar with the Book of Maccabees I, ch. 9,
(which was only in Latin, in their period), where it explicitly states
that the Maccabees themselves, the sons of Matityahu, did not call
themselves “king”, but rather ”‫“נשיא‬, president, or ”‫“ראש‬, head. Only
from their descendent Aristobulus and on, did the rulers refer to
themselves as kings. This is an important ‫ לימוד זכות‬and justification
for the Maccabean heroes.
Yisrael.
6 Avodah Zara 9a.
‘Action, (camera), lights!’
by Rav Jonathan Bailey
I
f you were an advertising agent for a large retail store
and you were asked to create the ad for Chanukah
products, what would be the first clip-art you would look
to include? Candles, right? Most people would feel the
same way, understanding the candles as the symbolic
focus of the holiday. However, if you look at “Al HaNisim”,
the Rabbis take on the focus of Chanukah, you’ll notice a
very different approach.
Three quarters of the paragraph addresses the military
success over the Greeks with only the last quarter dealing
with the reestablishment of the Beit HaMikdash and only four
words (!) of that section mentioning the lighting of candles
which were in the outer courtyards and not of the Menorah!
Certainly the rabbis’ focus is not the miraculous candles.
Based on the configuring of the paragraph (and our
knowledge of the system of mitzvot in general), we can
assume that the candles we light for the mitzvah are to
be used as the physical action with which to awaken the
greater message of the holiday - the victory (the majority
of the paragraph). So the two questions that arise are: 1)
What is the message we are to learn from the victory,
and 2) how does the lighting of the candles direct our
thoughts towards this message?
If the lesson of the victory is to teach the need to praise G-d
for His destruction of the Greek empire then it would have
stopped after the first few lines: “G-d, You led a salvation
for Your children through Your mercy - You fought their
fight, judged their cases, avenged their vengeances” and
stop there. If the whole focus were on G-d’s presence in
! ! !
this war, why would it continue with “You gave over the
strong in the hands of the weak, the many to the few, the
impure to the pure, the evil to the righteous, etc.”? Why
would the description of the victory include us (the ‘few’,
‘weak’, ‘pure’, etc.) if the praise is “on the military miracles”
G-d performed?
I believe the key is why G-d performed these miracles. It is
only because we were the ‘few’ and ‘weak’ but nonetheless
fought for that which we believed in; it is only because we
remained ‘pure’, ‘righteous’ and ‘involved in Torah’ when
there was such ‘impurity’ ‘evil’ and ‘enemies’ who tried to
eradicate these practices! When G-d saw that we desired
to remain faithful, to continue our battle for Him and what
He represented even in the face of such adversity, that’s
when G-d stepped up and fought ‘our’ fight, judges ‘our’
cases, etc.; it is only once we expressed this desire that G-d
came through. And this is the message of the miraculous
victory: It is not solely that G-d exhibited such miracles,
but that it represents His reactions to an expression of
deep faith – G-d reciprocates when we perform.
That being said, we can now understand how the candles
reflect this idea and awaken in us this message. As
relayed in ‘Al Hanisim’, the candles were only lit after we
cleaned out the Beit HaMikdash and vacated the Hechal of
impurities. Once we expressed a desire to reestablish the
service of the Beit HaMikdash, then, when we lit the ‘first
candle’ G-d came through with the rest! The very miracle
we are to understand from the victory (we stepped-up so
G-d answered) is demonstrated through the miracle of
the candles (we light the first one and G-d answers).
Chanukah –Did you know that?
Chanukah is on the
25 Kislev and the 25th
word of the Torah in
Bereshit is “OR”-light
In the book of Bamidbar
in Parashat Masei we find
the different places that
Bnei Yisrael camped and
the 25th encampment is
“CHASHMONAY.”
The Jewish people are compared to the olive-”zayit”:
Just as: The oil is extracted with pressure so the Jewish people
return to Hashem when under pressure. Just as: The leaves
of the Olive remain both in the summer and winter so Jewish
people have both Olam Hazeh and Olam Habah.
Just as: Oil does not mix with other liquids so the Jewish
people do not mix with nations of the world.
r
e
n
r
o
C
r
You
es
Pictur
From
Bogro
t…
Bogrot v
olunteerin
g in Sde
rot
(Epstein)
Naomi Jager
and her son
Send us pictures of yourselves, your weddings, celebrations and your families.
We would love to see them and share them with the Midrasha family!
Announcements
Mazal Tov to
Staff Mazal Tovs:
Mazal Tov to Rav Krengel and his family on the
On the marriage or engagement of:
Bar Mitzvah of his son.
Rivky Relkin (5766) to Zach Berman
Mazal Tov to Rav Bailey and his wife on the
Anna Hertzberg (5765) to Ilan Cohen
birth of a baby boy.
Talia Goldman (5766) to Steven Englander
Mazal Tov to Rav Hillel Appelbaum and his
Tallia Cottrell (5764) to Matthew Furleiter
entire family on the birth of their daughter
Jenn Cogan (5763) to Danny Diamond
Ilana Pizem (5764-65) to Ari Gelb
Michal Taylor (5764) to Neria Saada
On the Aliya of:
Tari Gormley (5764) to Jordan Brodsky
Reena Friedman (5765) to Daniel Ostrow
Sara Chana Shulman (5768)
Sara Rosengarten (5764) to Saul Haimoff
Malka Ehrenberg (5768)
Mashi Jones (5762) to Yehuda Polstein Shoshana Krug (5767)
Shira Hyman (5766) to David Teller
Michal Taylor (5764)
Gila Guskin (5768) to Itay Ben Moshe
Daniella Kowall (5765)
Anya Salganik (5763) to Binyamin Kleinman
Chana Elmaleh (5765)
May you build a Bayit Neeman BeYisrael!
Abby Laub (5766)
Naomi Alper (5768)
On the birth of:
Shoshana Cohen (5767)
Elizabeth (Perl) Samson (5757); baby girl
Sara Chana Shulman (5768)
Elysia (Rothenberg) Stein (5761); baby girl
Mindy Davis (5767)
Refuah Shleyma
Midreshet Harova mourns together
We wish a Refuah Shleyma to our alumnus
with Klal Yisreal the murder of the
Rachel Minkove
nine Kedoshim in Mombay.
(Rachel tova bat yehudit ester).May she
Hashem yikom damam.
have a speedy recovery from her illness.
Midreshet Harova wishes a
Chanuka Sameach
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to all its Bogrot, Students, Staff and Friends.
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