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Gaining Strength in Difficult Times Print E-mail
Sunday, 08 October 2023

Parshat Breisheet (Breisheet 2:10) describes the geography of the Garden of Eden:

A river went out of Eden to water the Garden, and from there it divides into four headwaters.

Verses 11-12 add:

The name of the first is Pishon which surrounds all the land of Chavilah, where there is gold. The gold of that land is good. Also found there are bdellium and onyx stones.

Where is the land of Chavilah?

According to Breisheet Raba (16:4), the Land of Israel is hinted to as Eretz HaChavilah”. We learn this from Tehillim 42:6:

Why are you miserable, my soul and why are you disturbed on my account? Hope (Hochili) to God! I will yet thank Him for the salvations of His presence.

Rashi explains the word Hochili (hope) to mean wait and look forward to the redemption.

We see a similar theme in Tehilim 31:25:

Be strong, let your hearts take courage, all who wait longingly (hameyachlim) for God.

This teaches us that in difficult situations we should put our trust in God’s salvation and we should not let devastation take control over us.

What is the gold of the land?

Gold is figurative for the Torah. As we see in Tehilim 19:11: The words of the Torah are more desirable than gold, than even much fine gold.” We learn from here that there is no Torah learning like the Torah of Eretz Yisrael and no wisdom like the wisdom of Eretz Yisrael.

What is unique about the Torah of Eretz Yisrael as opposed to the Torah from abroad?

Rav David Avraham Spector brings Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook’s answer from Orot HaTorah 13:3:

The Torah from Chutz La’Aretz (abroad) deals with correcting the individual soul, both in the material and spiritual spheres…The Torah of the Land of Israel on the other hand is totally different as it is always concerned for the entire society, for the soul of the entire nation.

This week, we have seen death and devastation in Israel that has affected every Israeli. Yet we are a nation that does not give up. We do not put our trust in our enemies, we continue to put our trust in God, mobilize our troops and work together to move forward and not let the terrorists win.

May our prayers for the welfare of the State of Israel be answered:

Strengthen the hands of the defenders of our Holy Land; grant them deliverance, our God, and crown them with the crown of victory. Grant peace in the Land and everlasting joy to its inhabitants.

Adam couldn’t wait for Kiddush Print E-mail
Thursday, 20 October 2022

Sponsored by Sharona and Josh Halickman in memory of Evelyn (Cookie) Halickman Seligman z"l, sister and sister in law of Mel and Myrna Halickman

We read in Breisheet 2:16-17:

And God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you are free to eat; but as for the tree of knowledge of good and bad, you must not eat of it; for as soon as you eat of it, you shall die.”

In Midrash Rabba 25:2, Rabbi Yehuda ben Pazi teaches us that Adam was not able to follow God’s commandment for even one hour.

We learn in the Talmud, Sanhedrin 38b: In the ninth hour (of the Friday of creation), Adam was commanded not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge. In the tenth hour, he sinned (he ate from it). In the eleventh, he was judged. In the twelfth, he was expelled and left the Garden of Eden, as it is stated: “But man abides not in honor; he is like the beasts that perish” (Tehillim 49:13). Adam did not abide, i.e., sleep, in a place of honor for even one night.

Midrash Rabba continues: And behold, your children, Israel are able to hold back and wait three years to eat from a new tree, observing the mitzvah of Orla.

Rabbi Huna said: When Bar Kafra heard what Rabbi Yehuda ben Pazi taught, he said: Rabbi Yehuda taught well. As it says (Vayikra 19:23): “When you enter the Land and plant any tree for food, you shall regard its fruit as forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden for you, not to be eaten.”

Three years it shall be forbidden for “you”. You know not to eat from the tree and can restrain yourselves as opposed to Adam who could not hold himself back.  

The Jewish people’s observance of three years of Orla is a tikun (correction) for the three hours that Adam should have patiently waited to eat from the tree.

Or HaChayim explains that according to the midrash, all Adam had to do was to wait until the advent of Shabbat to eat the fruit. At that point he would have been permitted to recite Kidush over the wine. This follows the view that grapes were the fruit of the tree of knowledge.

In order to make a tikun for Adam’s sin, we have to have patience. We can only make Kiddush when it is Shabbat. If we plant a tree, we can’t eat the fruit for the first three years. In the fourth year the fruits could only be eaten in Jerusalem. Only in the fifth year were the fruits permitted to be eaten everywhere.

May we start the new year with a lot of patience!

Dinner Rolls in the Garden of Eden Print E-mail
Thursday, 30 September 2021

In Parshat Breisheet, after Chava and Adam eat from the forbidden fruit, man receives the following punishment (Breisheet 3:19):

By the sweat of your brow you will eat bread until you return to the ground for from it you were taken for you are dust and to dust you shall return.

Rav Tzadok HaKohen of Lublin (1823-1900) in his book Sefer Pri Tzadik (Rosh Chodesh Shvat) explains that the month of Shvat (where we eat fruits on Tu B’Shvat and speak about their holiness) serves as a “tikun,” correction for Adam and Chava’s transgression.

In Breisheet 2:16-17 we see God’s two commandments to Adam:

HaShem Elokim commanded the man, saying, “You may certainly eat from every tree in the garden. But from the Tree of Knowledge of what is good and evil, you shall not eat from it, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.”

It was a mitzvat aseh (positive commandment-“you shall”) to eat from any of the fruits of the garden which were infused with kedusha (holiness) in the same way that we bring holiness into other mitzvot when we say “asher kidshanu bemitzvotav…”, “who has sanctified us with his commandments…”

It was a mitzvat lo taaseh (negative commandment- “you shall not”) to eat from the Tree of Knowledge.

Each of the Shtei HaLechem (two loaves that were brought on Shavuot) corresponds to each of the mitzvot mentioned above from the Garden of Eden. Through these loaves the fruits of the trees are blessed.

Rav Tzadok explains that in his opinion, the fruit that Adam and Chava ate was wheat. Before the sin, wheat was like a fruit on a tree. As it says in the Talmud, Shabbat 30b:

Rabban Gamliel sat and expounded the following: In the future (in the days of Mashiach) the soil of the Land of Israel is destined to bring forth ready-made bread rolls and fine woolen clothes.

According to Rav Tzadok, just as in the future the wheat will grow on trees as ready-made rolls, so too were there ready-made rolls growing on trees like all of the other fruit in the Garden of Eden. However, once they sinned, man received the curse of “By the sweat of your brow you will eat bread.”

Since we don’t have the Beit HaMikdash (Temple) and the Shtei HaLechem today, how can we make a tikkun for Adam’s sin, aside from eating fruit on Tu B’Shvat?

We have just started the Shmita (Sabbatical) year in Israel. Fruit grown in Israel during the Shmita year on land which is declared Hefker, ownerless, becomes holy. The fruit is infused with Kdushat Shviit, the Holiness of the Shmita year and must be treated respectfully. Those who are in Israel this year will have the opportunity to eat the holy produce just like Adam and Chava ate in the Garden of Eden.

Now all we have to do is wait for the time of Mashiach when rolls will once again grow on trees!

The Temple Mount, the place where it all began Print E-mail
Wednesday, 14 October 2020

We learn about the Even HaShtiya, the foundation stone of the Beit HaMikdash (Temple) in the Mishna, Yoma 53b:

After the Ark (Aron) was taken away, a stone was there from the days of the early prophets (Shmuel and David) and it was called “Shtiya”, foundation. It was three fingerbreadths higher than the ground, and upon it the Kohen Gadol would place the shovel full of burning coals.

The Gemara quotes a braita to explain the name of the stone:

The stone was called Shtiya, foundation, because from this stone the world was founded (hushtat).

The Shtiya stone is the foundation of the world because it is the place of the avoda (service) in the Beit HaMikdash and we learn in Pirkei Avot 1:2: The world stands on three things: upon the Torah; upon the avoda and upon gmilut chasadim (acts of loving kindness).

Our Mishna confirms the view that the world was created from Zion.

Rashi explains: Zion was created first and then clods of material struck around it from every side and continued to do so until they reached the ends of the earth.

According to Rabbi Eliezer: The world was created from its center, as it says (Iyov 38:38) “When dirt was poured to a single bedrock and clumps stuck around it.”

Midrash Tanchuma, Kedoshim 10 teaches:

Just as a navel is set in the middle of a person, so the Land of Israel is the navel of the world. As it is stated in Yechezkel 38:12, “who dwell on the navel of the earth.” And the foundation of the world comes out of it, as stated in Tehillim 50:1-2, “A Psalm of Asaf. O Almighty God, HaShem spoke and called to the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God appeared.”

The Land of Israel sits at the center of the world; Jerusalem is in the center of the Land of Israel; the Beit HaMikdash is in the center of Jerusalem; the Heichal is in the center of the Beit HaMikdash; the Aron is in the center of the Heichal; and the foundation stone, out of which the world was founded, is before the Aron.

The Talmud Yerushalmi, Yomah 5:3 brings an additional proof from Yishayahu 28:16 that the world was created from Zion: “Therefore, thus said my Lord HaShem Elokim: Behold, I have laid a stone for a foundation in Zion: a sturdy stone, a precious cornerstone, a secure foundation.”

As we read Breisheet, the account of the creation, at a time where we don’t have free movement to travel wherever we would like due to the Covid19 restrictions, let’s not take Jerusalem and the Temple Mount for granted and let’s hope and pray that we will all be able to visit the holiest place in the world as soon as it is safe to do so.

Transforming the curse into a blessing Print E-mail
Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Sponsored by Sharona, Josh, Dov, Moshe and Yehuda Halickman in honor of Myrna Halickman’s Eishet Chayil Award on Simchat Torah at Beth Zion Congregation, Montreal

When humankind was created, God gave the following blessing (Breisheet 1:28) “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it, and dominate the fish of the sea and the birds of the heaven and every living thing that moves upon the earth.”

Two chapters later, after eating from the tree, we read about the punishment for “the woman” (Breisheet 3:16): “I will greatly increase your sorrow and your pregnancy. You will give birth to children in pain. Your desire will be for your husband and he will dominate you.”

Rashi comments that “your sorrow” refers to the pain of rearing children, “your pregnancy” refers to the pain of pregnancy and “you will give birth to children with pain” refers to the pain of childbirth.

A few verses later (3:20) we see that “HaAdam, the man, names his wife Chava because she would become the mother of all of the living.”

It seems from here that every woman will be subjected to the punishment that the first woman received. However, according to Sforno, in the case of Sarah, the curse was actually transformed into a blessing.

From when we first meet Sarai, in Breisheet 11:30, we are told “Sarai was barren, she had no child.” At that point she was sixty-five years old.

In Breisheet 17:15-16, twenty-four years later, God changes Avram’s name to Avraham and then he changes Sarai’s name as well:

And God said to Avraham, “As for Sarai your wife, do not call her by the name Sarai, for Sarah is her name. I will bless her and I will give you a son through her. I will bless her and she will be a mother of nations, kings of peoples will descend from her.”

Sforno comments that Sarah’s blessing will be the opposite of the first woman’s punishment: she will have an easy pregnancy, she will not have pain when giving birth and raising the child will not be difficult.

After Sarah spent many years unable to conceive, God gave her an easy pregnancy and childbirth. From everything that we know, Yitzchak was well behaved and didn’t give his parents any problems.

May all those who are trying to conceive be bestowed with Avraham and Sarah’s blessings and may they be granted the child that they have been praying for. We hope that all women will be granted an easy pregnancy and childbirth and that their children will not give them too much trouble!

Israel: our substitute for the Garden of Eden Print E-mail
Tuesday, 02 October 2018

After Adam and Chava sinned by eating the fruit, their eyes were opened, they realized that they were naked and they made clothing out of fig leaves. They heard the voice of God and they hid among the trees of the Garden.

In Breisheet 3:9 we read: “HaShem Elokim called to Adam and He said, “Ayeka?” (translated as “where are you?”)

According to the Midrash, Breisheet Raba 19:9, God obviously knew where Adam and Chava were. Therefore, we shouldn’t pronounce the word “Ayeka”, “where are you?” Rather, we should vocalize it as a lamentation “Eycha”, “How did you change over from good to bad?”

Rabbi Abahu taught in the name of Rabbi Chanina, it says in Hoshea 6:2, “They (B’nai Yisrael) like Adam have transgressed the covenant; they have dealt treacherously against me.”

God put Adam in the Garden of Eden and commanded him not to eat from the tree. Adam transgressed and ate from it. God therefore punished him and banished him from the Garden of Eden so that he would atone for his sin and God lamented “Eycha.”

God brought B’nei Yisrael to the Land of Israel and commanded them to observe the mitzvot. B’nei Yisrael transgressed. As a punishment, God banished them to foreign lands to atone for their sins since they were no longer worthy of living in the Land of Israel. God lamented “Eycha” as it says in the book of Eycha (Lamentations) “Eycha yashva badad”, “How does the city (Jerusalem) sit solitary?”

We see from here that the banishment of the Adam and Chava from the Garden of Eden is similar to the banishment of the Jewish people from the Land of Israel.

How can we make a tikun (correction) for Adam’s sin? The best tikun would be for the Jewish people to return to the Land of Israel and take advantage of the opportunity to live in the Land that we were promised. Our ancestors were banished because they did not observe the mitzvot properly. Now that we have the State of Israel, the Jewish people can return to the Land and observe all of the mitzvot in the Land where they were intended to be observed including the Mitzvot HaTluyot Ba’Aretz (those commandments that only apply in the Land of Israel).

Theater of the Absurd Print E-mail
Wednesday, 23 November 2016

The first word in the Torah is "Breisheet", "In the beginning." Rashi asks why the Torah begins with the depiction of the creation of the world rather than with Rosh Chodesh (the new moon), the first mitzvah that the Jewish people were commanded as a nation.

Rashi's answer is that the description of the creation is necessary as it proves the Jewish people's claim to the Land of Israel. If the nations one day say to the Jewish people, "You are robbers, you have taken by force the land of the seven nations", then Israel can reply "All the earth belongs to God. He created it and gave it to whomever he saw fit. It was His will to give it to them and it was His will to take it from them and give it to us." 

How fitting that this portion coincides with the week that UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization) denies the Jewish claim to Jerusalem’s holy sites, a stolen papyrus that mentions Jerusalem was reclaimed and ten years of excavations on the Temple Mount produced proof of the First Temple.

In a comment on the fact that UNESCO refuses to acknowledge the Temple Mount as a Jewish holy site, solely calling it by its Muslim names, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon said: “The absurdity continues, and UNESCO has adopted yet another ridiculous decision that is completely disconnected from reality.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu commented, “This is the continuation of the theater of the absurd. Who is really deserving of condemnation is UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, not Israel. Extremist Muslim forces are destroying mosques and churches. Israel is the only country in the region that protects them and allows freedom of worship.”

The stolen papyrus which has been recovered by the Israel Antiquities Authority was originally found in a cave in the Judean Desert. It is a part of a wine shipping order that dates back to the 7th century BCE and is the oldest non-Biblical document to mention Jerusalem.

Yesterday, Israeli archeologists announced that they unearthed artifacts including olive pits, animal bones and pottery from the First Temple, over 2600 years ago.

What is unique is that these artifacts were found on the Temple Mount itself, not through the Temple Mount Sifting Project.

According to Prime Minister Netanyahu, the historic ties of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and Jerusalem are clear.

Even the Director General of UNESCO, Irina Kokova stated, “In the Torah, Jerusalem is the capital of King David, where Solomon built the Temple and placed the Ark of the Covenant.”

We now understand why the Torah needed to start from the creation and tell us the whole story as our enemies are stealing and destroying our artifacts which tell the story of our claim to the Land of Israel, the City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.

Each Shabbat We Become Partners in Creation Print E-mail
Tuesday, 06 October 2015

In Parshat Breisheet (Breisheet 1:31-2:1-3) we read about the completion of the creation of the world: “And God saw all that He had made, and behold it was very good. It became evening and it became morning, the sixth day. The heavens and the earth were completed, and so were their conglomerations. God completed by the seventh day His work which He had made, and He abstained on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, for on it He abstained from all His work, which God created to do.”

Did God create anything on Shabbat itself?

According to Rashi the concept of rest had not yet been created. With the coming of Shabbat came rest and when rest was created the creation was complete.

On Friday night, we recite “Vayechulu HaShamayim V’HaAretz ”, “The heavens and the earth were completed” (Breisheet 2:1-3) three times, once in the Amida (silently), once with the entire congregation in unison and once at home while reciting Kiddush over wine.

In the Talmud, Shabbat 119b, we learn from Rava or from Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi that even if one prays as an individual on Friday night (not with a minyan) they should still recite “Vayechulu HaShamayim V’HaAretz ” as Rav Hamnuna said: Whoever prays on the eve of Shabbat and says “Vayechulu…” is treated by Scripture as if they became a partner with God in the creation…

According to Maharsha, God’s creation would have fallen short of its purpose unless people acknowledged Him as the creator.

In Breisheet Raba 10:9 we find a parable of a king who had a chupa ready, the only thing that was missing was a bride! When the world was created there was just one thing missing, Shabbat.

Each Friday, as we set aside our work for 25 hours and declare how God created the first Shabbat, we once again become partners in the creation of the world.


God Planned the Changes in Nature at the Time of Creation Print E-mail
Thursday, 16 October 2014

In Breisheet 1:9 God said: “Let the waters beneath the heaven be gathered (yikavu hamayim) into one area and let the dry land appear.” And it was so.


According to Yalkut Shimoni the word “yikavu” comes from the word tikva, hope. It means that the waters will do whatever is necessary to help God in the future (even if it seems outside of the realm of nature).


Rabbi Yochanan in Breisheet Raba 5:5 points out that at the time of creation, God already planned for the splitting of the sea at the time of the Exodus from Egypt.


Rabbi Yirmiyahu ben Elazar takes this concept a step further and adds that at the time of creation God planned all of the changes in nature that would take place, not just the splitting of the sea. As it says in Kohelet 3:14, “I realized that whatever God does will endure forever: Nothing can be added to it and nothing can be subtracted from it…” In Yishayahu 45:12 we read: “I made the earth and created mankind upon it; It is I, My hands spread out the heavens and I commanded all hosts to come into existence.”


The Midrash continues, I commanded the heaven and the earth to be silenced before Moshe (in Parshat HaAzinu “HaAzinu HaShamayim VaAdabera…”, “Give ear, O heavens and I will speak…”). I commanded the sun and the moon to stand before Yehoshua (Yehoshua 10:12) at the time that he fought the Emorite kings (“Shemesh B’Givon don viyareach b’Emek Ayalon”, “Sun, stand still at Givon and moon in the Valley of Ayalon.” I commanded the ravens to feed Eliyahu HaNavi at the time that he was hiding from King Ahav (Melachim I, 17:4, 6: “I have commanded the ravens to supply you with food there…”, “The ravens would bring him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening…”). I commanded the fire not to harm Chananya, Mishael and Azarya when Nevuchadnezar, King of Bavel threw them into the fiery furnace. I commanded the lions not to harm Daniel in the lion’s den. I commanded the skies to open up for Yechezkel (Yechezkel 1:1) “The heavens opened and I saw visions of God.” I commanded the fish to spit out Jonah (Jonah 2:11) “Then God addressed the fish and it spewed Jonah onto dry land.”


We see from here that at the time of creation God knew that unusual circumstances would come up throughout history and he therefore planned accordingly.


Turning the Lights Back On Print E-mail
Friday, 12 October 2012

Part of Chava’s punishment is (Breisheet 3:16): “I will greatly increase your suffering (itzvonech) and your pregnancy (heronech). You will give birth to children with pain (be’etzev teldi vanim)…”


According to the Gemara in Eruvin 100b, the word “itzvonceh”, your suffering, refers to the anguish of raising children, The word “heronceh”, your pegnancy, refers to the pain of pregnancy. The words “be’etzev teldi vanim”, you will give birth to children with pain, refers to the pain of childbirth.


In Breisheet Raba 20:6 the word “vanim” is explained as the anguish of raising children.


Once the babies are born, we spend the rest of our lives raising them.


Many women say extra prayers and techinot when they are pregnant and/or in labor but it is important to pray for our children when we are raising them as well.


It says in the Gemara in Shabbat 23b: Rav Huna said: One who is habitual in lighting the light (candles) will have sons who are Torah scholars.


Rashi comments that in Mishlei, Proverbs 6:23 it says “For the commandment is a lamp and the Torah is light.” By observing the mitzvah of lighting Shabbat and Chanuka candles one brings the light of Torah into the world.


In  Mishlei 20:27 we read: “The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord”.


The Midrash in Tanchuma states that Chava extinguished Adam’s “candle” by giving him the fruit to eat.


By lighting the Shabbat candles, the woman is making a tikkun (correction) for Chava’s mistake and turning the lights back on.


Many women add the following prayer after lighting Shabbat candles:


May it be Your will Hashem, my God and God of my forefathers, that you will show favor to me and all of my relatives; and that you grant us and all of Israel a good and long life; that you remember us with beneficent memory and blessing; that you consider us with a consideration of salvation and compassion; that you bless us with great blessings; that you make our households complete; that You cause Your presence to dwell among us. Privilege me to raise children and grandchildren who are wise and understanding, who love Hashem and fear God, people of truth, holy offspring, attached to Hashem, who illuminate the world with Torah and good deeds and with every labor and service to the Creator. Please hear my supplication at this time, in the merit of Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Leah and cause our light to illuminate and not be extinguished forever and let our countenance shine so that we are saved, Amen.

Vayiven: God “Built” the Woman Print E-mail
Friday, 16 October 2009

In Parshat Breisheet 2:20-23 we read: And HaAdam assigned names to all the cattle and to the birds of the sky and to every beast of the field; but as for man, he did not find an “ezer k’negdo”, helper corresponding to him. So God cast a deep sleep upon HaAdam and he slept; and God took one of the sides of HaAdam and God filled in flesh in its place. Then “vayiven” (God fashioned) the side that He had taken from HaAdam into Isha (a woman) and He brought her to the man. And the man said, “This time it is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called Isha (woman) for from Ish (man) she was taken”.


Rabbi Shimshon Rephael Hirsch explains that the woman’s body was not taken from the earth but rather from the side of HaAdam so that the single human being HaAdam became two separate beings, demonstrating irrefutably the equality of man and woman.


In the Talmud, Niddah 45b Rav Chisda teaches that women mature faster than men (ie a young woman has her Bat Mitzvah a year before a young man has his Bar Mitzvah) this is derived from the word in our pasuk “vayiven” which teaches that God gave “bina yetera”, greater powers of understanding, insight and intuitive intelligence to a woman than to a man.


Rabbi Benjamin Blech points out that unfortunately throughout Jewish history women have not always been treated equally since Jews were affected by their environments as well as by the currents of foreign cultures in which they lived.


It is clear when we return to the creation story that God’s intent was to create women and men as separate yet equal.

A Tribute to Nehama Leibowitz Print E-mail
Friday, 24 October 2008

In chapter 2 of Breisheet, the first woman is created. The woman is called “Isha” as it says in Breisheet 2:23 “And the man said, this is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called woman because she was taken out of man (ki meish lookcha zot)”.


In chapter 3 sentence 20, the woman is called “Chava”: “The man called his wife’s name Chava because she was mother of all of the living (em kol chai)”.


Nehama Leibowitz brings down a commentary from the Akedat Yitzchak (Rabbi Isaac Arama 1420-1494):


The two names, “Isha” and “Chava” indicate two purposes. The first one, “Isha” teaches that woman was taken from man, stressing that like him you may understand and advance in the intellectual and moral field just as did the matriarchs and many righteous women and prophetesses and as the literal meaning of Eshet Chayil (Woman of Valor Proverbs 31) indicates. The second, “Chava”, alludes to the power of childbearing and rearing children as is indicated in the name “Chava”, mother of all of the living. A woman deprived of the power of childbearing will be deprived of the secondary purpose and will be left with the ability to do evil or good like the man who is barren. Of both the barren man and woman Yishayahu (56:5) states: “I have given them in My house and in My walls a name that is better than sons and daughters”.


Nehama Leibowitz (1905-1997) lived in Israel and was a teacher of Torah to thousands, maybe millions of people through classes, lectures, worksheets (which Nehama mailed out to people all over the world and personally corrected and mailed back) and books. Nehama exemplified an “Isha”. Since Nehama was not able to bear children, she did not fulfill the role of “Chava” in the formal sense. However, there is a quote from the Gemara in Sanhedrin 19b “Whoever teaches someone else's child Torah is considered as if he had given birth to him”. In that case, Nehama Leibowitz fulfilled the role of “Chava”, mother of thousands, possibly even millions of children from varied backgrounds throughout the world.



Torat Reva Yerushalayim is proud to give you the opportunity to have a learned person recite Psalms on your behalf on a weekly basis at the Kotel (Western Wall).

Jacob, our Forefather calls Jerusalem “The gate of heaven”. According to Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan z”l, “Just as things can go in through a gate, so can they emerge. Thus, all spiritual sustenance and blessing come only through Jerusalem , as it is written, ‘God will bless you from Zion ’ (Psalms 128:5). It is taught in the Zohar that God first sends a blessing to Jerusalem , and from there it flows to the entire world. Today, when the Temple no longer stands, the source of this blessing is the Western Wall.”

Tehillim (Psalms) at the Western Wall can be recited on your behalf for the following:

  • Health/ Recovery from an illness
  • Healthy childbirth
  • Shidduch (finding a mate)
  • Thanksgiving
  • Livelihood & success
  • Divine guidance
  • Troublesome times
  • Repentance
  • Peace

With your monthly donation of $18 or more (or yearly donation of $180 or more) to Torat Reva Yerushalayim, you will be performing the important mitzvah of contributing toward the Torah education of the forgotten population of senior citizens in Jerusalem, while having your prayers recited by a learned person at the footsteps of Judaism’s holiest site.

Your contribution can be made by mailing a check to Torat Reva Yerushalayim,

75 Berkeley Avenue , Yonkers , NY 10705 or via Paypal, by clicking on the link below and scrolling down to the “Make A Donation” button.


Please email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 718-593-4162 if you would like to take part in this exciting project!

What Really Happened in the Field? Print E-mail
Wednesday, 18 October 2006

In Parshat Breisheet 4:8 we encounter a perplexing account: "Kayin said to his brother Hevel. It happened when they were in the field (sadeh), that Kayin rose up against his brother Hevel and killed him."

The pasuk never tells us what their conversation was about.

Breisheet Raba 22:7 gives us insight into three different possibilities as to what Kayin and Hevel may have been arguing about:

1. Materialism: The pasuk mentions that they were in the field so their conversation must have had something to do with a field or land. They said: "Lets divide up the world." Kayin said, "You take the moveable property and I will take the immovable property (This makes sense since Hevel was a shepherd and Kayin worked the land). Kayin said, "The land that you are standing on is mine, go fly away." Hevel said, "The clothing that you are wearing is mine." Kayin tried to chase Hevel off of his property and ultimately killed him.

2. Religion: According to Rabbi Yehoshua of Sachnin who quotes Rabbi Levi, they were fighting concerning the sadeh, field, which is traditionally how the Beit Hamikdash was referred to. One said "On my land the Beit Hamikdash will be built" and the other said "On my land the Beit HaMikdash will be built. Their argument continued until Kayin finally killed Hevel.

3.Women: a person is referred to in the chumash as a field (Dvarim 20:19: Ki HaAdam etz Hasadeh). According to Yehudah Bar Ami they were fighting over Chava. Rabbi Ivo points out that Chava was no longer alive so they couldn't have been fighting over her. Rabbi Huna's opinion is that Hevel was born with a twin sister which they both wanted to marry. Their fight over a woman caused Kayin to kill Hevel.

All we have to do today is open up the newspaper and find that unfortunately we have still not learned our lesson. Most murders are still committed for the same reasons that we find in Breisheet Raba: materialism, religion and male-female relationships.

Why Does The Torah Begin With The Creation? Print E-mail
Wednesday, 26 October 2005
The Torah begins with the words "Breisheet bara Elokim et hashamayim ve‚et ha'aretz", "In the beginning God created heaven and earth."

Rashi asks why the Torah begins with a description of the creation of the world. After all, isn't the Torah a book of mizvot, commandments and laws? Isn't the Torah careful not to waste words? Shouldn't the Torah skip the account of the creation as well as the accounts of our forefathers and fore mothers? Wouldn't it make sense for the Torah to begin after the Exodus of Egypt with the first mitzvah that the Jewish people were commanded as a nation, the mitzvah of Rosh Chodesh (the new moon)?

Rashi's answer is that the description of the creation is necessary since it proves the Jewish people's claim to the Land of Israel. If the nations say to the Jewish people, "You are robbers, you have taken by force the land of the seven nations", then Israel can reply "All the earth belongs to God. He created it and gave it to whomever he saw fit. It was His will to give it to them and it was His will to take it from them and give it to us."

In the rest of Sefer Breisheet, we again see God's promise of the Land of Israel to Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov and their descendants and the promise is again reaffirmed to Moshe at the beginning of Sefer Shmot.

We can see from here that God did not "waste" the first book and a half of the Torah on the stories of the creation and the birth of the Jewish people. Rather, God wanted to emphasize the origins of the world in general and the Land of Israel in particular to show how special and unique the land is and why the Jewish people are destined to inherit it.

We are privileged to have the State of Israel today and we must do what we can to fulfill God's promise of the Land of Israel to the Jewish people.