Today’s Yahrtzeits and History – 25-26 Sivan

Rav Shimon ben Gamliel, Rav Yishmael ben Elisha Cohen Gadol, Rav Chanina S’gan Cohanim, of the Ten Martyrs killed by the Romans (115 CE), commemorated in the Kinah “Eileh Ezkera” we say on Yom Kippur, and “Arzei Halevanon” we say on Tisha B’Av (Megillas Taanis). Once a fast day, (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 580:2).

Rav Shmuel of Bros, son of the Pnei Yehushua (1821).

Rav Dov Berish Landau of Biala (1876), son of Rav Avraham Landau of Tchechinov  and father of Rav Elimelech Menachem Mendel Landau of Strikov.

Rav Chaim Zisman Sofer, author of Mechaneh Chaim and Kol Sofer (1886)

Rav Naftali Tzvi Shmerler, author of Imrei Naftali (1944)

Rav Moshe Tzvi Twersky, Tolna Rebbe of Philadelphia (1890-1972). Born to Rav Menachem Nachum (Rebbe of Tolna-Toltchin) and great-grandson of first Tolna Rebbe, Rav Dovid.. Rav Moshe Menachem succeeded his father in Toltchin un 1916, but left the Ukraine in 1921, crossing the southern border into Moldavia to escape persecutation. He emigrated to the United States the following year and settled in Philadelphia.

Rav Reuven Fein, Rosh yeshivas Torah Vodaas and author of Bein Hamispasayim (1993) (some say 25 Sivan). He studied in Yeshivas Mir in Lithuania

Rav Dovid Mireles, author of Korban Haeidah on Talmud Yerushalmi, 1762 (Some say 22 Sivan)

Rav Baruch Shimon Schneersohn, Rosh Yeshiva of Tchebin and author of Birchas Shimon (2001).

Today in History — 25 Sivan

· Geviha b. Pesisa, Jewish delegate, won the debate against the Samaritans in the presence of Alexander the Great (Megillas Taanis), 313 BCE
· Execution of Rav Shimon ben Gamliel, Rav Yishmael ben Elisha Kohen Gadol, and Raav Chanina Segan Hakohanim, three of the asara harugei malchus (Megillas Taanis and Shulchan Aruch O.Ch 580), 115 CE.
· Massacre of the Jews of Erfurt, Germany, 1221 which was observed as a fast day for many years.
· Jews were granted permission by Empress Catherine II to settle in Kiev, 1794.

Today’s Yahrtzeits — 26 Sivan

Rav Yonasan ben Uziel, student of Hillel.

Rav Yosi ben Kisma (quoted in Pirke Avos 6:9 and Sanhedrin 98a).

Rav Yehoshua (ben Yosef) Bucksbaum, the Galanta Rav (1944). Author of Ohr P’nei Yehoshua.

Today in History — 26 Sivan

· The Jewish community of Berne, Switzerland forfeited all financial claims against non-Jews, and then were expelled from the country, 1294.
· Second expulsion from France, 1332
· The Taz established this day as a minor Purim for the Jewish community of Alik who were saved in the Chmilnitzki Massacres of 1648-49.
· The Inquisitor of Ancona, Italy decreed that Jews may not live in any municipality where there was no ghetto, 1843.

{Yahrtzeits licensed to Matzav by Manny Saltiel and Newscenter}

Read the rest of this entry »

Gem of the Week from Rav Hirsch: Hafrashas Challah – Divine Providence in Every Home

The challah dough represents the prosperity Hashem has bestowed on us. When we prepare the daily bread for ourselves and our families, we think about the particular care that Hashem extends to every household and every soul. The ears of corn ripen in the fields under the rays of the sun, which is a blessing to all people on earth. The bread given to us daily is a result of Hashem’s special hashgacha.

Challah is analogous to terumas hagoren. Just as the threshing floor shows us how Hashem has blessed our fields, the dough represents the prosperity He has given our homes. Hence, what applies to the dough also applies to the wheat on the threshing floor: the owner may not use it until he separates terumah for thekohen. By taking terumah, he expresses awareness that it is Hashem Whom he must thank for the blessing of his fields, and gives it first to the kohen, who represents Him.

Challah is also intimately connected with nesachim. Nesachim teach us that the wellbeing and happiness of the nation depend directly on Hashem, whereas hafrashas challah teaches us that the livelihood of every household and every individual is under Hashem’s hashgacha. Not only is the sunlight that ripens the wheat Hashem’s messenger, but so is the income of every family. Even an individual’s share in a nation’s prosperity is an act of Hashem.

This awareness is renewed every time we prepare bread for ourselves and our families. We consider the care Hashem extends to every home, and just as we separate terumah from a pile of produce, we separate a piece of dough and raise it to Hashem.

Sometimes blessing is bestowed on the people’s harvest in general, yet a man and his family can hunger for bread. Sometimes the reverse is true: in times of widespread scarcity and high prices, one man and his family do not suffer and are sustained by G-d’s generosity, even without the blessing of the harvest.

Taking challah signifies that Hashem not only watches over worlds and countries, but extends His care to the cities, to homes, to the people inside them. He watches over every soul, young or old, who calls out to Him. Challah represents the special hashgacha pratis of the individual.

Have a wonderful Shabbos,

Moshe Pogrow,

Director, Ani Maamin Foundation

Please note: The “Gem of the Week,” is based on excerpts from Rav Shamshon Raphael Hirsch zt”l’s commentary on Chumash, with permission from the publisher.


Read the rest of this entry »

Chicago – New York Architects To Design Obama Library In Chicago

Chicago — Barack Obama’s presidential library on Chicago’s South side will be designed by a New York architectural firm that designed the David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago. The Barack Obama Foundation announced Thursday that Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects has been chosen for the library that will be built […]

Read the rest of this entry »

Left-Wing Activists Rescued From Ramallah After Being Attacked

Nine leftists on Wednesday night 23 Sivan entered Ramallah via the Kalandia Checkpoint to celebrate a post Ramadan feast with their friends. However, as they were enjoying the evening residents became aware of the two Israeli vehicles and surrounded the two vehicles and the situation turned ugly very quickly. Fortunately, PA (Palestinian Authority) security forces […]

Read the rest of this entry »

Given Eyes to See

By Rabbi Eliyahu Safran   

The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.

— Robertson Davies, Tempest-Tost

It is true you cannot tell a book by its cover.  Appearances sometimes deceive.  And sometimes it is our ability to comprehend that which limits our vision.

We pass by a young man hobbled by a physical deformity and presume that his limitations extend to his imagination, intellect and dreams.  We see a tall, powerfully-built lad and we bestow upon him the presumption of courage and inner-strength.  We see a teenager in a hoodie…

We judge, we presume, we anticipate and we react… based on what? A cursory glance at the surface?

How ironic that we Jews, who have been so unfairly judged, are often guilty of seeing only the surface!  We judge so much around us by the chitzoniyus – by the externals before us and the blinders within us!


* * *


Parshat Shelach begins and ends with seeing.  The Meraglim (spies) instructed to spy on the land, are specifically told, U’reisem es haArtetz – “and you shall look at the Land.”  The parsha concludes with the mitzvah of tzizis.  U’reisem oso­ – “and you shall look at the tzizis.”

The Meraglim were without tzizis?  The mitzvah of tzizis is instructive; it teaches the Jew how to look and see.  To the uninitiated, the Jew with tzizis is a silly man who has forgotten to remove the sales tags from his garment!  On the surface, tziziz are little more than hanging strings.  Or… or they are a constant reminder of all “the mitzvos haShem. (God’s Commandments)

The tzizis do not change.  How they are viewed, how they are seen, does!

* * *

In all this, we must then ask, what does it mean to see, to really see?

Rabbi Soloveitchik asks, in commenting on this parasha (in Darosh Darash Yosef) , why send the meraglim to begin with.  After all, God had already promised that the land would be conquered.  What more did the Children of Israel need to know?  In answering, he turned to the Halacha that,   “One may not marry a woman until he has seen her.”  When Eliezer returned from his mission to find a wife for Isaac, the Torah tells us that he, “…brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, “ so Yitzchak should actually see her; in spite of the fact that Eliezer was absolutely trusted.

So too the Children of Israel and the Land.

As Rav Soloveitchik notes, “Marriage is more than a mutual commitment of two partners.  It is a sharing of pleasures and anxieties, of moments of happiness and stress. All this is included in the category of “seeing.” This is the reason, Yisroel Besser tells us, (Mishpacha, June 15, 2016)  Rav Moshe Bik would encourage young people in shidduchim to meet several times, to go on seven or eight dates before getting engaged.  When his advice was challenged by another rebbe as making relationships too “casual”, Rav Bik replied, “The problem is that the rebbe is a mesader kiddushin, while I am a mesadder-gitin”.  That is, Rav Bik officiates at divorces while the other officiates at weddings.  Because of this, Rav Bik understood not just what makes marriages happen but what makes them last.  The bride and groom need to see each other, not just get the Shadchan’s perspective or Google the person’s name!

This is the reason, as Rabbi Soloveitchik notes, that the verb latur (to see, discover) is used rather than leragel (to spy).  Moses sent the meraglim to the land not to conduct military reconnaissance but to discover the uniqueness of the land.

Just as betrothed groom (and bride) must see one another before marriage, to begin that process of discovery, to begin the ability to see, really see, one another, Moshe agreed to send the spies into the Land despite God’s promise.  He wanted the people to know the Land, to recognize it intimately, in an all-encompassing and detailed way.  He wanted them to fall in love with it; he wanted them to feel a connection, to share with it a sense of unity.

* * *

When we see “to discover” rather than “to spy”, we open ourselves up to the wonder and beauty before us.  That is why, in a world where so many people criticize Israel that a visit to the land results in a lifelong understanding and infatuation with it.  Whether non-Jewish political or religious leaders or Jewish young people on Birthright, these visitors return home with a lifelong love for Israel and its heritage.

My dear friend Bernie Hammer once told me that his father, a talmid of the famed pre-World War II Yeshiva Chachmei Lublin, told him, “What must we remember each year when we read Parashat Shelach? — nisht tzu reiden shlechts oif Eretz Yisrael (not to speak ill about Israel).”

What a valuable lesson, one too often lost on our  generation that has been chosen by God to actually see the rebuilding of the Land!  But, like the 10 Spies, they see but cannot comprehend.

* * *

The Talmud in Menachos comments on the techeles, the blue thread in the tzizis.  The techeles is like the sea; and the sea looks like the sky; and the sky calls to mind the Kiseh haKavod – the Divine Throne.  To call to mind the Divine Throne is to call to mind all of God’s commandments.  Imagine!  All of God’s commandments from a single blue thread amidst the other tzizis strings.

The techeles doesn’t change.  Only how you look at it changes!  Is it merely a blue thread that contrasts and highlights the white threads?  Or is it a direct connection to the sea, the sky, the Heavenly Throne and God’s commandments?

The Meraglim too were told to go and see… to see what?  A land promised to each of our Avot, the land promised to a people born into slavery only to be redeemed by the Hand of God.  What else could they have seen but a land blessed by God Himself.  Yet, ten of the twelve saw only the chitzoniyus, only the external.

They saw much to frighten them.  Big people, strong people.  Giants!  They saw fortified cities.  Those ten saw the giants and the danger but none of God’s providence.  They were blind to the holiness all around them.

Has anything changed, even today?   How many refuse to see all that is holy on every street corner of Eretz Yisrael?  How many speak only of a secular state, of a non-religious government, of a depraved, Western culture?  Of an eretz ocheles yoshveia – of bureaucracy, of the hassles of integrating into this tough, sabra society?

They see with the eyes of the ten spies!

Jews, where are your tzizisUreiesem es haAretz.


Read the rest of this entry »

Quartet report to highlight threats to peace

Before the meeting on Thursday, Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon called on the Security Council to condemn the murder of 13-year-old Hallel Ariel, killed by a Palestinian terrorist.

Read the rest of this entry »

Lawyer: CIA Gave Romania Millions To Host Secret Prisons

The CIA paid Romania “millions of dollars” to host secret prisons, a rights lawyer said Wednesday as the European Court of Human Rights heard accusations that Romania allowed the agency to torture terrorism suspects in a secret renditions program under President George W. Bush. Amrit Singh told the court on the opening day of the […]

Read the rest of this entry »

Mountain View, CA – Google Serves A ‘Nougat’ To Fans Of Its Android Software

Mountain View, CA — Google is serving a new morsel for fans of its Android software: The next version has been dubbed “Nougat,” extending Google’s tradition of nicknaming each overhaul of Android after a sweet food. The Nougat name announced Thursday comes seven weeks after Google sought suggestions during its annual conference for software engineers. […]

Read the rest of this entry »

Amichai Ariel: They Killed a Little Girl Who Did Nothing

Read the rest of this entry »

30 Percent Of Buses Inspected By Police In A Bedouin Community In The Negev Not Road Worthy

Israel Police report that an inspection of buses and vans was conducted in the community of Segev Shalom in the Negev. Segev Shalom is a Bedouin community located close to Beersheva. The inspection revealed that 30% of the vehicles used to transport people were not road worthy and 56% were in need of serious repairs. […]

Read the rest of this entry »