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Parashat Eikev

Parasha Thoughts

By Rabbi David Cohen

That it was He who gives you the strength to make wealth. (8:18)

Targum Onkelos adds his own interpretation to the above translation. He writes: Hu d’yahiv lecha eitzah l’mikni nechassin, “He (Hashem) gave you the idea to purchase property.” Horav Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler, zl, explains that, while one may attribute his financial success to Hashem’s assistance, he still believes it was his strategy, his personality, his business acumen. He had Divine assistance, but it was his idea to initiate the project. Onkeles teaches us that this is categorically untrue. The very eitzah, idea, was not self-initiated. It, too, was placed into his head by Hashem.

How often do we hear someone say, “I had an idea.” To him we say, “Who” placed that idea in your mind? Hashem. Every ounce of your success – from idea to blueprint, to completion – is all from Hashem.

Shabbat Shalom.


Parashat Vaetchanan

Parasha Thoughts

By Rabbi Shemuel Akhamzadeh

וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם֮ וַעֲשִׂיתֶם֒ כִּ֣י הִ֤וא חָכְמַתְכֶם֙ וּבִ֣ינַתְכֶ֔ם לְעֵינֵ֖י הָעַמִּ֑ים אֲשֶׁ֣ר יִשְׁמְע֗וּן אֵ֚ת כָּל־הַחֻקִּ֣ים הָאֵ֔לֶּה וְאָמְר֗וּ רַ֚ק עַם־חָכָ֣ם וְנָב֔וֹן הַגּ֥וֹי הַגָּד֖וֹל הַזֶּֽה׃

Observe them faithfully, for that will be proof of your wisdom and discernment to other peoples, who on hearing of all these laws will say, “Surely, that great nation is a wise and discerning people.” Devarim, 4:6

Chatam Sofer explains that seemingly the Torah doesn’t provide us with all the wisdom necessary to uphold all of its laws and one would need to look at outside sources to gain this wisdom. For example, in order to set the Jewish calendar (as it’s required by Halacha), the sages were required to know astronomy. Similarly, a Bet Din ( Jewish court) would need to know the intrinsic details of sorcery to judge a sorcerer justly.

However, the truth is that all the required wisdom is hinted to in the Torah in the words of Pirke Avoth made famous by Shwekey’s album:
בֶּן בַּג בַּג אוֹמֵר, הֲפֹךְ בָּהּ וַהֲפֹךְ בָּהּ, דְּכֹלָּא בָהּ. וּבָהּ תֶּחֱזֵי, וְסִיב וּבְלֵה בָהּ, וּמִנַּהּ לֹא תָזוּעַ, שֶׁאֵין לְךָ מִדָּה טוֹבָה הֵימֶנָּה:

Ben Bag Bag said:Turn it over, and [again] turn it over, for all is therein. And look into it; And become gray and old therein; And do not move away from it, for you have no better portion than it. Avot 5:22.

There are many stories throughout history and up to our generation about Torah sages’ knowledge of the sciences without ever studying them. The pasuk above tells us that nations will call us נָב֔וֹן .Navon translates to one who learns an idea from another idea. When the other nations see us versed in all types of wisdom by learning them through the learning of Torah, they will call us נָב֔וֹן.

Shabbat Shalom


Parashat Devarim

Parasha Thoughts

By Rabbi Yosef Shemtov

Tisha Be’Av is the saddest day in Jewish history. Every year we commemorate the destruction of both temples on this day by fasting and performing rituals of mourners. We sit on the floor until midday, we don’t take showers, and refrain from regular Torah study. The rabbis tell us the first temple was destroyed because of three cardinal sins: idol worship, adultery, and murder. The second temple was destroyed only because there was baseless hatred among Beni Israel.

This month is called Av which means father. The reason for this name is when a father punishes his children, it is not because he hates them. Rather, he loves them greatly and wants to discipline them in order to direct them to good behavior.
Even though G-d destroyed the temple, he is hinting to us that he is forever our father and is waiting for us to come back to him.

Since the second temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred, we know that as long as the third temple is not built we are continuing that sin. If we focus on baseless love, we can bring Mashiach and the third Beit Hamikdash.

On behalf of Yachad Kollel, I would like to wish everyone an easy and meaningful fast.