B parashat hashavua b

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Summary and Halachic Ruling:

The Shulchan Aruch (182, 1) rules that the Sages are not pleased with one who gives his assets to others and does not leave them for his inheritors. According to the Chatam Sofer, this applies even in regards to distant inheritors, even when one is giving only part of his wealth, and even if it is being given to charity. Only if one does not have children and he wants to give to charity to increase his good deeds, is it permitted. According to the Pitchei Teshuvah, even if one has children he may give a portion of his wealth to charity.



Rav Kook on the Net: RavKook.n3.net

When Great Souls Err

Shortly before his death, Jacob blessed his sons. But some of these blessings were more like reproaches:

"Reuben, you are my firstborn... first in rank and first in power. [But since you were] unstable as water, you will no longer be first, for you moved your father's beds." [Gen. 49:3-4]

According to some opinions, Reuben did not actually interfere with his father's sleeping arrangements. He intended to do so, indignant at what he saw as a slight to his mother's honor and her place in the household. But at the last minute, Reuben restrained himself.

How did Reuben succeed in overcoming his overwhelming feelings of injustice and dishonor?

Reuben's Fear of Punishment

One rabbi inferred the method Reuben used to master his anger from the letters of the word PaChaZ ('unstable'): 'You reminded yourself (Zacharta) of the punishment for this act; you made yourself intensely ill over it (Chalita); and you avoided sin (Peirashta)" [Shabbat 55].

This explanation is surprising. Was Reuben motivated by the lowest form of yirat shamayim - the fear of punishment (yirat cheit)? Was this the only way the tzaddik could prevent himself from wrongdoing? Could not such a great individual take advantage of more lofty incentives, utilizing his soul's natural love and awe of God?

The Achilles' Heel of Great Souls

Some people are blessed with such pure and noble souls that their characteristics are naturally based on the qualities of virtue and goodness. But even these tzaddikim need to recognize their limitations as fallible human beings. They too can be misguided by delusions. Precisely because they rely so heavily on their innate integrity, they may more easily fall in the trap of making terrible mistakes, inflicting much harm to themselves and the world around them.

Truly great souls will avoid this mistake. They will carefully examine the source of their outrage. Further examination may indeed reveal that their zealous response comes from a real case of injustice. But if there are any doubts about the source for their powerful emotions, they can change their usual approach. Instead of examining the matter in terms of overall ideals and lofty future visions, they can take into account more commonplace moral considerations. Such unpretentious calculations are sometimes more effective than nobler considerations.

Reuben reminded himself of the penalty for disrupting the delicate balance in the family and usurping his father's position. The simple reminder of the personal price to be paid helped Reuben clear his mind and thoughts. He was then able to analyze more accurately his true motivations and arrive at the correct ethical decision.

The resulting inner turmoil was tremendous. Reuben was accustomed to following the dictates of his innate integrity. The conflict between his sense of injustice and his realization as to the correct response was so great that he felt ill - emotionally and physically. "You made yourself intensely ill over it."

This too is spiritual greatness: to be able to acquiesce before ethical imperatives. Truly great individuals are able, like Reuben, to rein in all of the soul's powers when necessary. They recognize the absolute justice of the Eternal Judge, before Whom there are no excuses and no exceptions. Even if entire world - your entire inner world - tells you that you are righteous, still consider yourself guilty [See Nidah 30b].

Great good can come from recalling the punishment for sin, even if this motivation may appear petty and beneath one's spiritual stature. This simple reminder can go beyond all the sophisticated calculations - calculations which can mislead even great souls. In this fashion, Reuben succeeded in avoiding sin, and retained his purity and spiritual powers.

[Adapted from Ein Eyah vol. IV, pp. 48-49]



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

Notein HaChayim

Rav Avi Goldberg - Rosh Kollel, Memphis

Our parsha is one of two parashot in the Torah whose name is a variation of the word chayim (life) – Parshat Chayei Sarah (“Sarah’s life”) and Parshat Vayechi (literally, “and he lived”). Not coincidentally, both these parashot are found in Sefer Breishit, which deals with the start of life, its creation, and – to a certain degree – its definition. Yet, both parashot actually describe life’s end, an individual’s departure from life. Why then are they called chayim?

Before we answer this question, we must first differentiate between the scientific definition of life and the Torah’s definition of life. Although according to science, life refers to the body’s various movements and its ability to move, exist, and, perhaps also, breathe, the Torah teaches that life must also have meaning and significance. This essential meaning is life itself. When the Creator of Life infused Adam HaRishon with “nishmat chayim (the soul of life),” the Torah states:

“And the man became a nefesh chayah (a living spirit).” (Breishit 2:7)

Adam’s entire being was transformed into a nefesh chayah.

In his work, “Nefesh HaChayim,” R’ Chaim Volozhin notes that the pasuk does not say, “And in man became a nefesh chayah.” Rather, it says, “And the man became a nefesh chayah.” In other words, man’s entire being – and not just his neshamah (soul) – was transformed into a nefesh chayah. Similarly, Onkelos famously translates nefesh chayah as a “speaking spirit” – i.e. the power of speech. This means that life is meaning and significance and not simply existence and motion. Speech is an expression of man’s lofty abilities – his intellectual prowess and his ability to observe and connect.

This approach also explains Chazal’s well-known statement:

“The righteous [after] their death are called living… The wicked in their lifetimes are called dead.” (BT Brachot 18)

The lives of resha’im (the wicked) have no meaning, even when they are still breathing, moving, and acting. Resha’im are the ones who destroy the world; they certainly do not add any positive meaning. In contrast, when tzadikim (the righteous) are dead – and all the more so when they are alive – they add value and contribute to the world. Moreover, even if they are not breathing or moving at a given moment, their teachings live on. In addition, Chazal also state that “the lips of the righteous stir in the grave.” (See BT Sanhedrin 90b.) In other words, even if a tzadik is no longer alive in the scientific sense, his teachings and positive contributions to the world continue to hold sway.

Throughout Sefer Breishit, the meaning of life is expressed in several different ways. For instance:

“And Avraham was old, ba bayamim (advanced in days).” (Breishit 24:1)

A similar phrase is used with respect to Yehoshua Bin Nun and David HaMelech. Chazal explain that ba bayamim (literally, “came with days”) means that all of Avraham’s days “came” with him. In other words, there were no extra meaningless days in Avraham’s life. When Avraham reached old age, all of his days were with him, because they were all significant.

Other examples include:

“The days of the years of Avraham's life which he lived.” (Breishit 25:7)

Later on, we find a similar expression with respect to Yaakov, and also:

“And the life of Sarah was… the years of the life of Sarah.” (Breishit 23:1)

In each case, Chazal discuss the significance of these tzadikim’s lives. In fact, Chazal learn that Yishmael did teshuvah from the pasuk:

“And these are the years of the life of Yishmael” (Breishit 25:17)

According to Chazal, one must sacrifice one’s life rather than transgress three specific aveirot (transgressions). Yet, many have difficulty relating to this halachah. After all, we know that life is a supreme value in both the Jewish and universal worldview. Moreover, the Torah commanded us:

“And live by them.” (Vayikra 18:5)

We must cast every other mitzvah aside in order to save a single life.

However, life only has value when it is meaningful and connected to Notein HaChayim (the One Who Gives Life). Hence, when life goes against the three basic values which come before life and which denote Notein HaChayim, one must sacrifice life itself. Life is defined by its meaning! (Note that during times of gezeirot and shmad, one must sacrifice one’s life for every mitzvah…)

“But you who cleave to Hashem your God; you are all alive (chayim) today.” (Devarim 4:4)

As long as life is meaningful and connected to Notein HaChayim – to the Foundation upon which life rests – it is truly called chayim.

To our joy and sorrow, we are now privileged to have brave soldiers in our army. Throughout the millennia of the Diaspora, we looked forward to the time when we would have our own soldiers, who would observe all the Torah’s laws – including the halachah of mesirut nefesh (sacrificing one’s life). The Rambam holds that in a war against our oppressors, we are commanded to sacrifice our lives for Am Yisrael’s sake, when necessary. Sadly, we frequently hear remarkable stories of fortitude and Kiddush Hashem, but these incidents give our lives true meaning in the present. These deeds remind us that we must cleave to Notein HaChayim in order to define our lives as chayei emet (lives of truth).

Din Torah: May I burn a disk that I once owned and is now lost?

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


My son owns a box of disks containing c. 30 original disks, which were bought legally. In the course of a family outing, the box got lost. I would like to know whether my son is permitted to copy from friends those disks that we once had?


Based on our general approach concerning copyright protection, it seems that your son is permitted to copy afresh the disks.

There is a dispute over whether and why copyright exists. Some authorities are of the opinion that copying comes within the bounds of theft (Shu”t Shoel u’Meishiv Edition I, Part 1, §44). Others hold that copying can only be prohibited by a decree (Shu”t Chatam Sofer 5 Choshen Mishpat 79). Those who hold that a decree is necessary dispute whether the laws of the land and the international treaties come within the definition of a “decree” or whether these have no Halachic force (see, for example, Shu”t Yabia Omer 7, Choshen Mishpat 9).

In his important work on copyright (Emek HaMishpat IV, p. 604), Rav Yaakov Avraham Cohen of Netanya discusses the issue of copying a disk for back-up purposes, and remains in doubt according to the position that regards this as actual theft; however, he does permit copying from a disk to one’s hard disk.

It appears that in your case, because you bought the disk and it got lost, you would be permitted to copy the disk.

The Jewish National Fund

On 19 Tevet 5662 (December 29, 1901), the Fifth Zionist Congress voted in favor of Professor Tzvi Hermann Schapira’s proposal to establish the Jewish National Fund. The Hebrew name – Keren Kayemet L’Yisrael (KKL) – comes from the Mishnah:

“And these are the things that a person eats their fruits in this world and the keren kayemet (literally, the “principal exists”) for him in the World to Come…” (Pei’ah 1:1)

Thus, the name was meant to suggest to world Jewry that their donations to the keren (literally, the fund) in this world will stand to their credit in the World to Come.

Thirteen years before the First Zionist Congress, at the Chovevei Tzion Conference of 1884 – some two years after the First Aliyah began - Professor Schapira had proposed that a Jewish fund be established to purchase land in Eretz Yisrael. He spoke passionately and convincingly about the importance of purchasing land. Without land, he explained, the Jewish pioneers would be unable to establish new moshavot (agricultural settlements) or develop Jewish agriculture in Eretz Yisrael.

The KKL was designed to serve as a legal means of regulating Jewish settlement and land acquisition in Eretz Yisrael. A precedent for the initiative was found in Parshat Chayei Sarah, when Avraham Avinu refuses to accept Me’arat HaMachpelah for free and insists on buying it “at a full price” (Breishit 23:9).

Pinchas Rutenberg was the KKL’s first donor, and the first purchases were made in 1904-1905. Acting on behalf of the “National Fund” (later known as the KKL), agent David Chaim bought 4,000 dunams (about 1,000 acres) in Chittin, at a rate of 20 francs per dunam. Subsequent purchases included 2,000 dunams from the village of Beit Arif near Lod, which became the Ben Shemen farm and youth village, and 2,000 dunams in Chuldah. Eventually, the saplings for the Herzl Forest, the first forest planted by the KKL, were raised in Chuldah.

Contemporary sources describe how activist Yehoshua Hankin, known as the “Redeemer of the Land”, devoted countless hours to each KKL land purchase. Many land owners were reluctant to sell, and Henkin had to contend with numerous heirs and convoluted inheritance laws. Frequently, the deals were only concluded after Hankin had spent many dozen hours, drinking coffee near bonfires at night and smoking nargillot (water pipes) in his hosts’ tents during the day.

Yet, the KKL soon became involved in other activities as well. For instance, the KKL helped Jews make aliyah from Yemen and provided them with land to build their new homes. Also, the KKL was instrumental in the establishment of educational institutions, including the Technion and Hebrew University. When critics charged that these activities were beyond the scope of the KKL’s mission, its officials responded:

“The land is truly redeemed when a person dwells on it, develops and works it, and restores its colors and fragrances. Redemption is not only manifested by that which is inscribed in the deed and the land registries, which are open only to a few and to those who understand these matters, but also by that which the eyes see on the face of the ground – a tree or a neighborhood, a village or a city, a school or a university.”

During World War I, the Turks felled several hundred thousand trees to stoke their engines, and as a result, by 1920, only about 14,000 of the KKL’s trees remained. When planning new forests, KKL’s officials focused on areas which were found to be ill-suited for farming, such as rocky slopes.

The KKL was chiefly supported from the donations of world Jewry. These donations were largely collected via the ubiquitous “blue box” and KKL stamps. In fact, the blue box was basically a modern version of the traditional tzedakah (charity) box. Decked out in white and blue and decorated with a Jewish star or a map of Eretz Yisrael, the boxes were sent to Jewish communities around the globe. Tens of thousands of Jewish homes and educational institutions boasted these blue boxes, and everyone was encouraged to contribute. Many schools and families held weekly donation ceremonies, and the custom served to strengthen the bond between Diaspora Jewry and Eretz Yisrael. Thus, the blue box was a symbol of this bond and the embodiment of the dispersed nation’s dream of being reunited in its homeland. After the State of Israel was established, the blue boxes eventually became a thing of the past. However, today, the KKL is attempting to revitalize the brand, and one can now purchase blue boxes at a symbolic price.

KKL-issued stamps were another important source of revenue. At the Fifth Zionist Congress, officials decided to issue fundraising stamps which would also explain the fund’s objectives. The first such stamp, which was issued in 5662 (1902), was the so-called “Tzion Stamp”, which had a picture of a blue Jewish star and the word “Tzion” in the center. Since then, the KKL has issued over 4,000 different stamps, which were used as postal stamps and prized by stamp collectors and Zionists around the world.

Additional sources of income included enrollment in the KKL’s “Golden Book” and buying trees in KKL forests.

In 5720 (1960), the Knesset enacted the Basic Law: Israel Lands, which specified that the State’s lands belong to the Jewish People as a whole. Therefore, these lands may not be sold; rather, one may lease them for a period of 49 years. These lands were to be administered by the State, and thus, the KKL’s function changed. In 5722 (1961), the Israeli government and the KKL signed an agreement, which stated that the KKL would oversee land development and forestry. Moreover, the KKL would be involved with Zionist public diplomacy (“hasbarah”) around the world and fundraising to help make the desert bloom and plant trees in Israel.

Throughout the years, officials have stressed that KKL lands belong to the Jewish People, and hence, they are not marketed to non-Jews. However, leftist and Arab organizations have claimed that this policy is discriminatory. In response, the KKL has stated that it does not discriminate between Jews and non-Jews with respect to purchasing land. Whenever a non-Jew leases a plot of land from the Israel Land Authority (ILA), which administers the land, the KKL receives an alternate plot from the ILA in exchange. Thus, there is no discrimination, and the Jewish People is left with the same amount of land as before.

Critics of the KKL have charged that the organization has recently adopted a new and startling mission – namely, planting trees for the Palestinians. Specifically, KKL employees volunteered to plant trees in Rawabi (literally, “Hills”), the proposed Palestinian city. To date, the KKL has donated 3,000 saplings, which were planted in an area slated to become a grove on the city’s outskirts. Furthermore, KKL forestry experts have advised the city’s planners.

In the 21st century, the KKL focuses on sustainable development, protecting the environment, and caring for future generations’ quality of life. In addition, the KKL promotes recreational and cultural activities in the wild. To this end, hiking and bike trails, lookout points, and recreation spots were developed. Also, explanatory signs were placed in KKL forests, and many sites have been made accessible for handicapped visitors. Moreover, together with local residents, the KKL has developed many communal forests. For instance, the Hula Valley now boasts a world-renowned nature preserve, where visitors can observe millions of migrating birds.

During the Second Lebanon War, KKL rangers in the Galilee fought the numerous forest fires which resulted from Katyusha hits, and volunteers from Israel and around the world helped the KKL rehabilitate the forests.

In 2007, the KKL joined the UN effort to plant a billion trees to reduce carbon dioxide levels in order to prevent global warming. By 2017, the KKL hopes to plant 6 million trees and thereby eliminate some 3 million tons of carbon dioxide from the earth’s atmosphere.

A Look At… The Melbourne Kollel

Torah MiTzion’s Kollel in Melbourne, Australia, which is affiliated with the Mizrachi Synagogue, is located in the middle of a Jewish neighborhood, near the two main shuls and Bnei Akiva, the local youth movement. The Kollel serves the students of the area’s two Jewish schools - Leibler Yavneh College and Mount Scopus Memorial College – as well as the city’s university students and adults. Now in its eleventh year, the Melbourne Kollel’s goals include maintaining excellence while constantly renewing and strengthening our existing educational and social programs.

Our daily schedule begins with Tefilat Shacharit together with the Leibler Yavneh high school students. Twice a week, after davening, we study various halachic topics with the students, and throughout the day, we deliver shiurim to the high school students about Judaism, Eretz Yisrael, and current affairs. Meanwhile, the Kollel staff is currently learning Tractate Sanhedrin b’chavrutot (in study pairs). In the afternoon and evening, we deliver shiurim and learn b’chavrutot with the students and community members. In addition, many university students come learn and enable us to disseminate and glorify the Torah.

Our extracurricular programming includes an occasional “Hot Dog Mishmar”, which involves a short learning session for the students followed by a barbecue. Also, we serve as Bnei Akiva madrichim (group leaders).

Rosh Kollel Rav Elad and Rabbanit Odeliah Dahan devote considerable time and effort to the community, deliver shiurim, and initiate and organize a wide range of projects.

The current members of the Melbourne Kollel are:

· Amitai Arussi of Cholon – Amitai has a Bachelors degree and was awarded a teaching certificate. He learned in Moreshet Yaakov in Rechovot and served as a tank driver in the IDF’s Armored Corps.

· Gilad Leibovitz Malik of Kiryat Motzkin – Gilad learned in Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh and served in the IDF’s Golani Brigade.

· Michael Schwartz of Bnei Brak – Michael learned in Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh and served in the IDF’s Golani Brigade.

· Yossi Sapir of Petach Tikvah – Yossi learned in Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh and served in the IDF’s Homefront Command.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Mrs. Ritah Broner and all the Melbourne’s Jewish community for all their support. Whenever a problem arises – no matter how minor – someone immediately volunteers to help out .


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