Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Week 43 (Book 4a): Israel, an Acquisition of G-d

STORY OF CHANNAH: 15. Also, before they would make the fat smoke, and the servant of the priest would come, and would say to the man who slaughtered, 'Give meat to roast for the priest, and he will not take from you cooked meat, but raw.    
       
PIRKEI AVOT ON G-D’S ACQUISITIONS: and one acquisition is the people of Israel… Israel, as it is written (Exodus 15:16), "Till Your nation, O G-d, shall pass, till this nation You have acquired shall pass"; and it says (Psalms 16:3), "To the holy who are upon earth, the noble ones, in whom is all My delight."      

ECCLESIASTES: Chapter 12

TZADIKKIM: Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried (author of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, 26th of Tammuz), Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum (the Yismach Moshe, 28th of Tammuz),  and Rabbi Shlomo (ben Benzion) Halberstam of Bobov (Rosh Chodesh Av).  

Week 43 is the week of Rosh Chodesh Av, the second of the three weeks of mourning for the destruction of the Temple. The verse from the story of Channah speaks of how the sons of Eli would take for themselves would use a servant of the priests to force the Jewish person to give a great portion of his sacrifice even before it was ready. Their behavior showed a great disdain for the Jewish person bringing the sacrifice, as well as for those that served the priests in the Tabernacle.

The quotation from Pirkei Avot is about how the people of Israel is one of G-d’s acquisitions. The verses cited in support for this concept speak of how the Jews were acquired to be G-d’s servants after being freed from Egyptian servitude. They also speak of the Jewish people’s holy and noble character.  The sons of Eli denigrate both aspects above: they use the priests’ servants in the Tabernacle for their own selfish motives, and belittle the holiness and importance of the sacrifices brought by the people.

Chapter 12 is the last chapter of Ecclesiastes. The book ends with the well known words that encapsule the above relationship that the Jewish people have with G-d:

13. The end of the matter, everything having been heard, fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the entire man.

14. For every deed God will bring to judgment-for every hidden thing, whether good or bad.
These words make clear our role as G-d’s servants, followers of His commandments.  They also point to just how noble and holy is this task – “for this is the entire man.”
Rashi’s comments also reflect this:

The end of the matter, everything having been heard, fear God: What you can, do, and let your heart be to Heaven.

and keep His commandments, for this is the entire man: Because, for this matter, the entire man was created.

This week contains the yahrzeits of two prominent figures in Hungarian Jewry Chassidic Rebbes: Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried (author of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, 26th of Tammuz) and Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum (the Yismach Moshe, 28th of Tammuz).  Also this week is the yahrzeit of Rabbi Shlomo (ben Benzion) Halberstam of Bobov (Rosh Chodesh Av).

From Ascent:

Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum [1759-28 Tammuz 1841], known as the Yismach Moshe after the title of his book of Torah commentary, was famed both as a scholar and wonderworker. A disciple of the Seer of Lublin, he was instrumental in the spread of Chasidut in Hungary. His descendants founded the dynasties of Satmar and Sighet.

From Chevrat Pinto:

Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried was born in Ungvar, Hungary in 1804 (5564). His father, Rabbi Yossef Ganzfried, died during his childhood, and this orphan was brought up by one of the great of his generation, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Heller, better known as Rabbi Hirsch Charif, the Rav of Ungvar. He saw in the boy the potential of becoming one of the great authorities of Israel. During all the years of learning next to his teacher, his soul thirsted to penetrate the depths of Halachah until a clear answer was achieved. It was this objective that was the driving force of his various Halachic books, and which pushed him to give us – us and future generations – books destined for the instruction of practical Halachah. All those that devoted themselves to the Torah and all Talmidei Chachamim received everything that he wrote in the field of Halachah with favor and love. Yet more than with any other book, each of which in itself represented a special blessing, Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried acquired great merit for himself with his Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, a work that greatly benefited the general public. Beginning from 1864 (5624), when it was printed for the first time in Ungvar, this book has for more than a century been reprinted dozens of times in hundreds of thousands of copies. This has never been the case with any other author or book of its kind, so much so that Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried’s Kitzur Shulchan Aruch has become one of the most popular works of all time, destined for and worthy of every Jew. It is in complete harmony with Rabbi Yossef Caro’s hope that “young students consult it [the Shulchan Aruch] constantly, studying it by heart and having this study of youth well in their mouths in order to know the Halachah in each specific case, and also so as not to distance themselves from it in their old age.” Kitzur Shulchan Aruch study groups have been formed in hundreds of cities and towns, with the goal of learning and disseminating its teachings to the public at large in synagogues and houses of study.

“Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried was a man aided by Providence,” of the great masters of Lithuanian Jewry once said concerning him. In fact, none of the great men of Israel have ever seen in their lifetime, as did he, their works crowned by Halachic commentaries and new Dinim of other Rabbis. The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch was printed 14 times during the lifetime of the author, and at each reprint he himself added numerous new Dinim. During his lifetime, Rav Ishaya Hacohen came and “encircled” his work with a commentary entitled Misgeret HaShulchan (lit. “The Border of the Table”), which was printed, with permission from Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried, together with the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch. This resulted in a book that was important both qualitatively and quantitatively.

Despite the fact that Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried’s Shulchan was already vast in scope and had all sorts of sub-divisions, he decided to stay with the title Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (“Abridged Shulchan Aruch”). When a close friend asked why he incessantly clung to the name Kitzur, he responded with a smile: “In the book of Psalms, it is written, ‘You prepare [ta’aroch] a table [shulchan] before me’ [Psalms 23:5]. It not written, “You will lengthen [ta’arich] a table [shulchan] before me.’ ” May his merit protect us all. Amen.

Rabbi Shlomo (ben Benzion) Halberstam of Bobov, [1907 - 1 Av 2000], survived the Holocaust along with only 300 chasidim, succeeding his father who was among those martyred. Settling in Manhattan and then different locations in Brooklyn, he served as the third rebbe in the Bobover dynasty for over 50 years, rebuilding Bobov to an even more thousands than his father had before the war. In addition to being wise and pious, he was noted for his steadfastness in not taking sides in disputes. Interestingly, he passed away on the same Hebrew date as Aharon the High Priest, who was the first Jew to be known for "loving peace and pursuing peace" (Avot 1:12).

From Ascent:


Rabbi Shlomo (ben Benzion) Halberstam of Bobov, [1907 - 1 Av 2000], survived the Holocaust along with only 300 chasidim, succeeding his father who was among those martyred. Settling in Manhattan and then different locations in Brooklyn, he served as the third rebbe in the Bobover dynasty for over 50 years, rebuilding Bobov to an even more thousands than his father had before the war. In addition to being wise and pious, he was noted for his steadfastness in not taking sides in disputes. Interestingly, he passed away on the same Hebrew date as Aharon the High Priest, who was the first Jew to be known for "loving peace and pursuing peace" (Avot 1:12).
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