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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Recap for 12 Adar I, 5776 (Parsha Tetzaveh)

This Shabbos we discussed parsha Tetzaveh, including commentary by Rav Yeager. We discussed some of the fundamental concepts of Judaism. David Schlesinger led discussion.

Efroni gave a dvar Torah comparing what happened with Moshe, to what happened with Noah. In both cases, Hashem had plans to wipe out all the people.  Noah built an ark in order to save himself, however did not try to save everyone else.  On the other hand, Moshe told Hashem if the people are not forgiven and saved, then leave me out of your book. Moshe cared about everyone whereas Noah only seemed to care about himself.

David shared a story that his dad, Rav Dr. George Schlesinger, would say about this. If it is very cold out and people are suffering we can simply put on jackets, or we could build a fire. By building a fire we help everyone, whereas putting on a jacket is more self-centered and only saves ourselves. Noah would be the one who just puts on a jacket, whereas Moshe would be the one who builds a fire.

We discussed the fact that Moshe is left out of the entire parsha. Moshe does tell Hashem to leave him out of the book if the Jewish people are not going to be forgiven. However, the people’s lives are spared and they are given another chance, yet Moshe is still left out. David pointed out that although Moshe’s name does not appear, the word “you” referring to Moshe is scattered through-out the parsha.

We discussed the fact that what constitutes a “parsha” was determined by people after the Torah was given to us, so that it would seem that someone other than Hashem decided that an entire Parsha would leave out Moshe’s name. Norm pointed out that this is all a “post event” analysis, and it is easy to say afterwards this is why it happened, but to predict things in advance is much more meaningful.

Efroni’s take on all this, was that Moshe was so in tune with everything, he knew his name would be left out for a large portion of the Torah, and his statement to Hashem to leave him out was just his acceptance of reality. Efroni pointed out that the truth of the Torah is equivalent to the very fabric of reality, and those men of great Torah scholarship are very much in touch with reality to the extent they may have a great awareness of what is going to happen.

We discussed how earlier in the Torah, Moshe thought Aaron should be in charge of everything.  Nevertheless, now Moshe was concerned that Hashem was delegating some leadership responsibility to Aaron. We discussed how Aaron was given responsibility for much of the physicality that we use to connect to spirituality, whereas Moshe's responsibility was as a general leader and conveyor of Hashem's communications.

We discussed how originally Moshe wanted to do everything himself, but his father in law eventually convinced him he needed to delegate. Efroni talked about how as an officer in the IDF, it is sometimes easier to do things himself, rather than delegate them to others.

We discussed some of the differences between Judaism and other religions. We embrace physicality as a platform for spirituality and do not consider physicality "sin".    Dave W commented that in Judaism, even the most mundane objects can have spiritual value.  The purpose of the tabernacle, is a physical place in which we connect to Hashem.  

We discussed 3 places in the Torah where vows were made. In one of them, Eliezer looks for a wife for Isaac and vows to accept the first woman who wants to offer drink to his camel. In the next one, Jephthah ends up sacrificing his daughter, since she was the first to leave the house. And finally, whoever takes down Goliath is offered the princess.   

Rob pointed out that 2 of these vows involved marriage, and one involved death. Hashem may have intervened to ensure that the marriages worked out, but did not seem to intervene with the human sacrifice.  David pointed out that we have a responsibility not to get into situations in which the only way out is with help from Hashem.

We discussed the upcoming holiday of Purim Katan. Purim Katan is celebrated during those years which contain an extra Adar month. The same day that Purim occurs in Adar, is Purim Katan during Adar I.  It is important that Pesach occur in the Spring, which is why an extra Adar may be added to the calendar for the year.

We discussed how some consider Purim to be the holiest holiday in the year. It is true that the holidays with the most physical restrictions are generally the holiest, with Yom Kippur seeming to be the holiest day. However, once we get to Yom Kippur, to get holier even still we not only allow but encourage physicality. However, the purpose of this physicality is to symbolize the fundamental idea of Judaism to bring spirituality to the physical and mundane.  It is easy to get lost in physicality and fail to do this at all, in which case our Purim would not be holy at all.  So Purim has the potential to be the holiest holiday, but only if we celebrate it in a way that realizes it’s purpose.

Another fundamental concept of Judaism that we discussed, is that Hashem created the most perfect world that may include problems.  David shared his thoughts that if life gives us lemon, we should make lemonade.   It may not be that easy to do, but it's worth trying because making lemonade is why the lemons may be there in the first place.  

This is a summary of what we discussed.  No halachic rulings are intended or should be inferred.

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