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PARASHA :Bechukotai

Date :27 Iyaar 5775 16.5.2015

“The Best of Parashat HaShavuah” Articles taken from list subscriptions on the internet, edited, reformatted and printed for members of Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu (Editor: Arieh Yarden)

Dedicated to the loving memory of

Avi Mori Moshe Reuven ben Yaakov z”l

Immi Morati Channa bat Moshe Eliezer z”l

Please respect the Holiness of these pages

These pages are also sent out weekly via the internet in MS Word format. Anyone who is interested in receiving them, can subscribe via the Parasha web site: http://parasha.sde.org.il/eparasha - Arieh.



Extract from SHABBAT-B'SHABBATO, published by the Zomet Institute of Alon Shevut, Israel; http://www.moreshet.co.il/zomet/index-e.html

Point Of View: My Jerusalem

/ Zvulun Orlev

In Tehillim, the day that Jerusalem was destroyed is called "Jerusalem Day" – "One the rivers of Babylon, there we sat and wept, w hen we remembered Zion... G-d, remember... Jerusalem Day, for those who say, 'Destroy it, destroy it, to its foundation." [137:1,7]. Today Jerusalem Day is one of our most important times of joy, as the day when we released it from its foreign conquest and unified it under our sovereignty, 48 years ago. Thus we were loyal to our eternal oath, "If I forget you, Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning, let my tongue cling to my palate if I do not remember you; if I do not lift up Jerusalem to my highest joy." [137:5]. The wise men of Babylon, who could only see Jerusalem in their imagination, said, "Ten measures of beauty descended to the world. Jerusalem took nine measures and one was left for the rest of the world. [Kiddushin 49b]. The wise men of Jerusalem, who were familiar with the city as it existed, said, "There are ten measures of suffering in the world, nine of them in Jerusalem and one in the rest of the world" [Talmud Yerushalmi 3:6].

I w as privileged to have been a member of the Paratrooper's Brigade under the command of Mota Gur, which freed the city in the Six Day War. I was in the 71st Battalion, commanded by Uzi Eilam, which first broke into the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. I was moderately injured in my leg, and ever since I have felt that I am bonded with the city by blood. I live there with my family and my children and grandchildren. I can see both of the above elements, the beauty and the suffering, and I feel the pain of every element of damage and erosion that occurs, in terms of values, culture, and political status, and every type of damage to the strength of the city.

Dangers from Within and from Without

The harm and the threats are both internal and external. The external elements stem from the Palestinians and the Arab world, the United Nations, and other nations which do not recognize the unification of the city and its status as the capital of our country. Our ability to withstand these threats depends mainly on having a broad national consensus with respect to the status of the city. The reality that we see in front of us is a reason for worry: Who celebrates Jerusalem Day except for religious Zionists and those who live in the city? It is not only the "State of Tel Aviv" which ignores this day, but also the elites from among the culture, academia, the press, and political powers. Aside from two government ceremonies – a festive meeting at the Knesset and a ceremony held at Ammunition Hill – there is no festive atmosphere in the country on this day. This is a disturbing sign of erosion in the recognition of the status of the city and in the ability to display a broad national consensus against the external threats against the city.

The Jerusalem Basic Law, which was relevant on the day that it was passed, does not provide a proper response today for the "Jerusalem down below." While it is true that the exit of educated youngsters has declined a bit, what is needed is a completely new revolutionary approach. This Basic Law must be amended to include benefits and extra privileges, and to encourage citizens of Israel and new Olim to live in Jerusalem, to work there, and to enjoy a level of municipal and national benefits which is substantially better than what is available in other parts of the country. As part of my previous public activities, I was witness to the tough struggles of the mayors and Jerusalem MK's in an effort to increase the national resources available to Jerusalem, but these struggles usually achieved only partial success. Jerusalem is in need of significant support in all walks of life: education, higher learning, science, promoting employment and investment, municipal services, housing, tourism, and more.

We must demand that the new government does not show any weakness against international pressure from the other countries in the world, including the United States and Europe. Our statements must be strong and not defensive, taking the initiative and not apologetic. The Christian world knows very well from its own religious sources about the close relationship between Judaism and Jerusalem, and that there is no such a relationship between Islam and the city - remember that Jerusalem is not mentioned at all in the Koran. A hesitant attitude and a policy of zigzagging will only increase international pressure on us to divide Jerusalem.

The Capital of the Jewish Nation

We must also take action with respect to "heavenly Jerusalem." In the past I proposed a law that would require the official name of the city to be not merely "the capital of the State of Israel" but rather "the capital of Israel and the Jewish Nation." This would be a proper expression of the central character of the city in Jewish life as a whole. It would also serve to internally strengthen the eternal value of Jerusalem.

Let us remember the successful struggle by Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook against the British on the subject of prayer rights at the Western Wall, which appeared in his article, "Our Wall." He wrote: "This nation had a Temple which was exalted in its sanctity above and beyond all other temples all over the world. After it was robbed of its land and its proud Temple was destroyed, all that remained on this earth was the Western Wall. When the remnants of the descendants of this nation pour out their hearts in this place, any nation whose soul has a spark of humanity must stand trembling at the sanctity of the return of this nation, with great anticipation, in awe of the ancient nation." We will finish with Rav Kook's resounding cry: "Let Yisrael know what is happening to the remnant of its precious Temple! And let all cultured nations in the world, together with the League of Nations and especially the British nation which is in charge of the Mandate! Let them know to repair the evil that has been perpetrated... Let them be fully aware who it is that stands behind our wall."

As Shabbat Approaches: The Temple Above and the Temple Below

/ Rabbi Mordechai Greenberg

Rosh Yeshiva, Kerem B'Yavne

This week's Torah portion contains a detailed description of the curses of the exile. "And I will make your cities into ruins... And I will make the land desolate, and your enemies who dwell there will be desolate... And I will scatter you among the nations, and the swords will be taken out of their sheaths" [Vayikra 26:31-33]. Not only will the land be destroyed but also the Temple. "And I will make your Temple desolate, and I will not enjoy the scent of your sacrifices" [26:31]. The simple interpretation of the passage is that the Temple will be profaned. But if that is so then it should have been written explicitly: something like, "I will profane your Temple." The answer is that a verse in the middle of the description of the exile shows us that the seeds of redemption have already been planted.

With respect to the curse of the land, the Ramban writes, "The fact that we are told that 'your enemies who dwell there will be desolate' is good news, since it means that our land will refuse to accept our enemies. This too is a great vision and a promise for us – there is no other land such as this, which is good and broad but remains desolate. Ever since we left it, the land has refused to accept any other nation. They all try to rejuvenate it, but they cannot succeed."

In his poetic style, the Ramban praye d when he saw the ruins of Jerusalem. "You have made me as one who gave birth and whose son died in her bosom, and the milk in her breasts causes her pain, so that she nurses puppies instead. But in spite of this, your suitors despise you and your enemies find desolation in you. They remembered you from afar, and they glorified the holy city, saying, it was given to us as a heritage. But when they come and find all the desirable things, they flee as if from an enemy even though nobody is chasing them. It is because they are not suitable for you, and you are not suitable for them."

Even though it appears as if G-d has forsaken Yisrael and expelled them from His home, He still maintains the home for when His "wife" will return, and He does not allow a strange wife to enter the home.

The same is true of the Temple. It is written in the Torah, as quoted above, "I will make the Temple desolate," and not that the Temple will lose its sanctit y, to teach us that "the sanctity remains even though the site is desolate" [Megillah 3]. This text served as a source for the Rambam for his ruling that the sanctity of Jerusalem will never be cancelled. "And why do I say that in the Temple and in Jerusalem the initial holiness remains for the future... It is because the sanctity of the Temple and of Jerusalem stem from the presence of the Shechina, and the Shechina will not leave. As is written, 'I will make the Temple desolate.' And the sages said that this means that even though the area is desolate its sanctity remains." {Hilchot Beit Habechira, Chapter 6].

This is also true with respect to Bnei Yisrael. The Temple "dwells with them in the midst of their impurity" [Vayikra 16:16]. Even though the nation is impure, the Shechina remains in their midst (Yoma 58). "For G-d will not abandon His nation, and He will not leave His heritage" [Tehillim 94:14].

The root of this matter can be seen as a hint in this week's Haftarah. "Just like the Throne of Glory, exalted from the very beginning, so is the site of our Temple" [Yirmiyahu 17:12]. It is written, "The Temple above is pointed towards the Temple down below" [Tanchuma Vayakhel]. The sanctity of the Temple and of Jerusalem does not start below but from above, and therefore it will never be cancelled.

And that is why, right after the verse, "like the Throne of Glory," the prophet continues with, "G-d is a purifying bath of water for Yisrael" [17:13]. As long as the heavenly Temple remains above, we hope and are confident that G-d will not abandon His people and He will not leave His heritage.

The Illustrated Midrash: Special Considerations

/ Yisrael Rosenberg

"I will turn towards you, I will make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will establish My covenant with you" [Vayikra 26:9].

"This can be compared to a king who hired laborers. One of the laborers worked very hard for the king, much harder than the others. When the men came to collect their pay, the hard worker came in with them. The king said to him, My son, you stand here at my side and wait until I finish the reckoning with all the others." [Yalkut Mei'am Lo'ez, based on Torat Kohanim].

At first glance this seems hard to explain. Why didn't the king specifically make sure to give the money first to the best laborer? The Midrash goes on:

"... for their accounts were easy to finish, but your account is large. Therefore, we will sit together afterwards and do your account." [Ibid].

It seems to me that the king's approach can be understood in several ways.

First the king is interested in "cleaning off the table" and thereby freeing himself to get involved in the pay of his most trusted servant. While he sees the pay for the other workmen as a burden, he views the calculation of the pay for the best worker as a welcome treat.

In addition, the king wants to sit alone with his favorite worker, and he therefore makes sure to send away all the others. Giving the worker his pay is not just a technical act with respect to a worker who is close to the king, it is a personal and intimate event, very different from the contact between the king and the other workers. Rather, it is a special opportunity to sit alone with the worker and for them to spend time together.

Perhaps we can add another aspect too. It may be that the king wants to test the reaction of his favorite servant. When he sees all t he others receiving their pay in front of him, will he react with a feeling that "all my labors (for G-d) were for nothing"? Does he have complete faith that the king will keep his word and give him his pay? Does he believe that it will be worth his while to wait, and that the delay in receiving his pay is not a simple excuse to hint that his work is not satisfactory, but just the opposite?

Will the worker pass the test?

The Light Starts In The East: Shabbat Morning Prayers

/ Chezi Cohen,

Yeshivat Maaleh Gilboa and Midreshet Ein Hanatziv

In today's article we will discuss several stories related to the topic of unusual gatherings for S habbat morning prayers. It seems to me that this will have much to teach us about the approach of the rabbis of the east.

Before Going to Work

Our first story is about Rabbi Yosef Genasia from Algeria (with thanks to Dr. Yosef Shavit for the story itself and for the background information about the rabbi). Rabbi Genasia (1879-1962) was the Chief Rabbi of Constantine. He made halachic rulings, and he was a translator, a poet, and a philosopher. He wrote about a hundred and thirty books, on all facets of Judaism. He was involved in religious innovations in the spirit of modern times. He was a strong supporter of the Israel Alliance organization, which founded a modern school system in Algeria that combined secular and holy studies. He was a Zionist who made Aliya, and he passed away in Dimona.

* * * * * *

With the conquest by the French, many Jews began to work in the Frenc h government. As a matter of course these people were required to work on Saturday, since the official day of rest was Sunday. As a result, some of the Jews indeed started working on Shabbat. Rabbi Genasia turned to them, and said, "At the very least you should pray Shacharit and Mussaf and hear the Torah reading. Therefore we will establish an early minyan on Shabbat, and I will come to pray with you..."

* * * * * *

Rabbi Genasia did not want to reject those who desecrated the Shabbat, even though it was clear that what they did was forbidden. Instead, he tried to get them to remain close to the Shabbat prayers. At least they would feel Shabbat while they prayed, and they would not become estranged from Judaism and from Torah and the mitzvot. In addition, Rabbi Genasia joined them in their prayers, opening an area where a link could be formed between the rabbi and those who worked on Shabbat. By participating in their prayer, he was declaring that this was not a spurned minyan meant only for sinners but rather a minyan that was even fit for the rabbi of the community. As a result, it can be assumed that his action led to a positive attitude towards the minyan and towards the people who participated.

A Fast Minyan

The second story involves Rabbi Shaul Hadad (Moderno). He was born in Tripoli, Libya, in 1908, and he studied with Rabbi Tzion Bitan. Rabbi Hadad was an expert ritual slaughterer and one of the greatest halachic experts in Tripoli. He stayed strictly within the bounds of truth, and he feared no man. He was called Rabbi Shaul Moderno (from the word "modern") because he understood the soul of the modern generation. He followed a lenient interpretation, and he was very friendly to other people.

* * * * * *

One time Rabbi Moderno saw a group of young boys playing during t he time of prayer. He went to them and asked them why they were doing this. They replied that the prayers were very long and filled with embellishments and liturgical poems, and they were not interested in them. When the rabbi heard this, he established a faster minyan and invited the boys to join him there.

* * * * * *

What do these two stories have in common? Two of the wise men of the east are faced with groups of people who do not participate in the Shabbat morning prayers. One group consists of adults who desecrate the Shabbat by going to work, the other is a group of young boys who play during the time of prayer. In both cases, these are not people who are estranged in principle from our religion, but who have been led by circumstnaces into a situation where they have moved away and have even begun to sin. In both cases the wise man decides not to openly defy them and scold them, and certainly not to dist ance himself from them. Rather, he is pleasant to them, looking for a way to revitalize the contact between them – through organized prayers in the synagogue. Both men realize that they will not be able to stop the phenomenon by shouting and declaring war, and that instead they must find a way to keep their contacts open. They both transform the synagogue into a place which defines the identity of a person, even if outside the synagogue he is a sinner.

Praying with Sinners

An approach similar to the above can be seen in the following story told by the Ben Ish Chai.

* * * * * *

It happened that a ruffian came into the synagogue in the middle of Yom Kippur, with residues of his food on his mustache, and he asked one of the people who were praying to open a prayer book for him. The man opened the book to – the Grace After Meals. In this way, he signaled to the ruffian th at he could not pray with the rest of the congregation on a fast day, since he had obviously been eating. And this started an argument between them, where in the end the ruffian overcame the other man's objections. In the end, the man was forced to open up a machzor with the prayers for Yom Kippur, even though the ruffian had clearly been eating just before that. [Ben Ish Chai, Bereishit].

* * * * * *

All of these stories involve the image of a traditional Jew, who does not abide by the halacha and sometimes even desecrates the Shabbat, but who is not estranged from the Torah (and who often has great sympathy for it). The task of the rabbi is to get close to the other person and to create a new point of contact. The wise men of the east viewed the synagogue and the prayers as a significant point of contact which must be nurtured, and they worked as hard as they could to maintain their fruitful contacts with the members of their congregations.

"The place" in the world: Supplying Water to Jerusalem in the Era of the Second Temple

/ Rabbi Yitzchak Levy

Now that we have spent our most recent articles discussing burial in Jerusalem and reviewing magnificent burial caves all around the city, we will turn to the subject of water pools which served the residents of Jerusalem all year round and which served the pilgrims to the city before and during the holidays.

We should remember that the sources of water in Jerusalem during the time of the First Temple were one or more springs (in Jerusalem this was mainly the Gichon Spring, and possibly Ein Rog el – if at the time the spring was a source of running water). In addition to the springs, there were cisterns in private courtyards and also public pools of water along riverbeds which were mainly fed by rainfall.

Since the water was collected in private cisterns and there was no water inside the houses themselves, it served for all purposes: drinking, washing, and ritual purification.

As the city grew near the end of the Second Temple era and as the number of pilgrims increased, the Chashmonai kings (possibly King Yanai) decided to bring water from long distances into the city. (According to Prof. Safrai, the total number of individual pilgrims and residents of the city could be as many as several hundred thousand.)

The main criteria for where there might be sources for the water were that fresh water must be available all year round, that the position of the spring must be higher than the position of Jerusalem and the Temple, where the water would be sent, and that the spring should be fairly close to the city.

Lower and Upper Aqueducts

Because of the above considerations, the place which was chosen as the site for feeding water to Jerusalem is what is called "Solomon's Pools," which is situated between Beit Lechem and Gush Etzion.

The earliest aqueduct, which is dated according to archeological evidence to the time of the Chashmona'im, brought the water from the pools to the Temple Mount. This aqueduct is known as the "Lower Aquaduct." On its way, it passes through the area of Beit Lechem and the plateau of the Governor's Palace ("Armon Hanatziv"). At these two places, the aqueduct crosses under the plateau through an underground tunnel, with vertical piers along the path which were necessary during the construction for orientation, to provide light and air, and to make it possible to dig several sections of the tunnel at the same time. From the Governor's Palace the aqueduct continues to the Temple Mount, on today's walkway, bypassing Abu Tur, the Sultan's Pool, and Mount Zion, and it enters the Temple Mount over the Robinson Arch, in the area of the Chain Gate ("Shaar Hashalshelet").

Evidently this aqueduct is mentioned in the Talmud (Zevachim) as water that is brought to Jerusalem from Ein Itam. It is interesting to note that even today the name of one of the springs which feeds Solomon's Pools is Ein Itin, which seems to preserve the original name of Ein Etan.

The later Aqueduct, called the "Upper Aqueduct," is dated to the time of Herod. It brought water from Solomon's Pools to the Pool of Chizkiyahu in the area of the Old City. This aqueduct passed by Beit Lechem, using a bridge and a siphon in order to cross the valley. From there it went on to Derech Chevron of today, and then evidently continued to the a rea of Mishkenot Shaananim and to the Mamillah Pool, and from there through the Yaffa Gate, reaching Chizkiyahu's Pool.

It is reasonable to assume that the water was brought to this site in the Old City, which was very close to Herod's Palace (which is thought to have been in the area of the "Kishleh," the site of the police station in the Old City), in order to supply the king with fresh running water.

There were two other aqueducts that reached Solomon's Pools, which fed them and added a substantial amount of water in addition to the rainfall and the spring water from nearby. One is the El-Bi'ar aqueduct, which has also been excavated in large sections (this spring appears above ground between the towns of Elazar and Efrat). This aqueduct is also dated to the era of Herod.

The second aqueduct is El-Arub, which starts near the El-Arub refugee camp, and is fed by the springs of Ein Kusiba and Ein Dalba. The water is led by a long and circuitous route to Solomon's Pools. This aqueduct is usually considered as being from the time of the first century C.E.

Chizkiyahu's Pool

This pool is located to the southwest of the Christian Quarter, to the north of the market that leads from the Jaffa Gate towards the Temple Mount. That is, the pool is at the high western edge of the upper section of the city, from the end of the Second Temple era.

The pool has been given many different names since the time of the Second Temple.

Evidently Josephus Flavius calls this pool "Amigdalon." He mentions it in the description of the Roman siege on Jerusalem in the year 70 C.E., as follows: "The Romans began to pour their batteries... One battery was made by the Tenth Legion, to the north of the place called the Amigdalon Pool." Evidently the name came from a tower not far from David's Tower.

The name Chizkiyahu's Pool is relatively new, and it does not appear in ancient literature. This name is connected to the "upper pool" close to the place where the messengers of the Assyrian army met the representatives of King Yechizkiyahu. But, as we have noted, there is no proof that this identification is correct.

The Arabic name of this pool is Chamam El Batrak, the bathing pool of the Patriarch. This stems from the proximity to the nearby Greek Patriarchal baths.

In recent years, the final eastern section of the aqueduct has been found, which brought the water in the upper aqueduct from the area of the Mamilla Pool (in Independence Park) to Chizkiyahu's Pool. In the Old City there are remains of a pool which evidently was a principle water source not only for Herod in his castle but also for thousands of pilgrims who came to celebrate the holidays. This was also closer to the Temple Mount, so that this large so urce of water could be used for drinking, washing, and possibly also for ritual purification.

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