Sunday, October 2, 2016

All lives matter versus black lives matter


Rabbi Yehuda Lave

Order Your Thoughts

When a number of unrelated thoughts enter your mind, try to construct some order. Decide which issue you will think about first. Only when you have finished that, then may you go on to the second issue.

This will train you to think in a way which prevents confusion.

Love Yehuda Lave and Shana Tova

All lives matter versus Black lives matter

Coming Closer By Rabbi Joshua Hoffman

  Parshas Nitzavim is always read on the Shabbos preceding Rosh HaShanah, either by itself, as is the case this year, or together with parshas Vayeilech. Tosafos explains that the parsha serves as an interruption between the tochecha, the section of rebuke, read the week before, which is done to indicate that the old year and its curses come to an end, and the new year and its blessings, as recorded before the tochecha, begin. We read Nitzavim this week so as not to enter Rosh HaShana directly after reading the tocheacha.   Another reason for reading Nitzavim this week, it has been suggested, is that it contains an allusion to Rosh HaShanah in its opening verse. Moshe tells the people, "You are standing this day, all of you before the Lord your God." The Zohar says that the words "hayom" – this day, in Scriptures, always refers to Rosh HaShanah, as the Mishneh tells us in tracate Rosh HaShanah, we all stand in judgement before God on Rosh HaShanah. We may add that the mitzvah of teshuva appears in this parsha, and Rosh HaShanah initiates the ten day period of repentance which culminates in Yom Kippur. In this way, as well, it is appropriate to read Nitzavim on this Shabbos.   Actually, however, it is interesting that in our prayers on Rosh HaShanah, there does not seem to be much mention of teshuvah, beyond what we say in the piyut "Unesaneh Tokef." We do not recite the thirteen divine attributes of mercy as we do during the rest of the ten day period, nor do we confess our sins. Rav Moshe Shapiro, zt"l, who was Rosh HaYeshivah in Be'er Ya'akov, raised this issue, and explained that the word teshuvah literally means to return. The ultimate purpose of teshuva is to return to God, to restore our relationship with Him. While the technical work of teshuvah involves examining our deeds and correcting whatever we did wrong, the goal is to return to God. Our prayers on Rosh HaShanah put us in that direction, of beginning the process of coming closer to God.   According to the Semag, the source for the mitzvah of teshuvah is the verse in our parsha "And you will return to the Lord your God" (Devarim 30:2). The Ramban, as well, refers to this verse as a source for the mitzvah of teshuva. In this formulation, we see articulated the goal of teshuvah as the restoration of our relationship with God.   Another aspect of teshuva that is brought out in parshas Nitzavim is that of the collective teshuvah of the Jewish people. Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, zt"l, pointed out that the covenant in this parsha, coming after the covenant in the previous parsha, is the covenant of arvus, of responsibility, by which a Jew has a certain responsibility for the actions of all other Jews. This covenant bespeaks the unity of the Jewish people. The mitzvah of teshuva, as mandated in this parsha, speaks not only to each individual, but to the collective of the Jewish people, as well. This aspect of teshuvah is dealt with at length by Rav Kook zt"l in his Oros HaTeshuvah, as well as by Rav Soloveitchik, zt"l. The placement of the mitzvah of teshuvah in parshas Nitzavim which is dedicated to the covenant of responsibility brings out this aspect of the mitzvah, adding to the parsha's importance as a prelude to Rosh HaShanah.

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Kahane on the Parsha Rabbi Meir Kahane- Parshat Nitzavim


There is no more fundamental axiom in Judaism than the one that decrees that man has free will, the ability, the right, and the obligation to choose for himself the path down which he will walk his life. "See, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil...therefore choose life" (Deuteronomy 30:15-19).
Choose life. Choose to be great or mediocre, choose permanence or passing transition. It is an individual and a collective choice, an individual and collective decision for the Jew and the Jewish people. "For you are a holy people unto the L-rd, your G-d; the L-rd, your G-d, has chosen you to be His own treasure out of all the peoples that are upon the face of the earth" (ibid. 7:6).

It is a decision that faces the Jew, individual and collective. A simple and so difficult decision. Shall I be great with all the difficulties that come with it or shall I choose mediocrity? Shall I desire to be chosen and special and carry out the sacrifices and the burdens that go along with choseness, or shall I flee from greatness and desire to be as all nations and individuals- all the other ordinary and transitory people who live and pass on, leaving nothing behind except their own petty and narrow lives?

To borrow the language of the Rabbis, "To what is this comparable?" To a woman who is beautiful and desirable and who is wooed by two suitors. One is wealthy and can offer her comfort and security and prestige but within a mediocre and myopic life of small-mindedness. The other not only cannot offer her the comfortable life of material pleasures and security that the first can give, but he also lives a life of difficulty and sacrifice. But he has one thing that the other has not. He is a life of doing for people, of vision and holiness. He has chosen greatness and permanence and the exciting way of life that is truly chosen. The other suitor, with all his comfort and security, is ordinary, narrow. His is not the life of the chosen but of the commonplace. In short, the poorer suitor has chosen true life and offers it to the woman he loves deeply- he wishes to grow with her, he loves her so much that he yearns to give her greatness by his side.

So is it with the Jew, Knesset Yisrael- the Congregation of Israel. The choice is before her. One suitor- the world- offers her the opportunity to be like the nations, following their mediocre, petty, narrow values. The "reward" will be apparent comfort and security. But the price is the loss of opportunity to be holy and great and special. The destiny that is offered is mere "ordinariness." The other suitor is the Almighty and He offers difficulty and sacrifice. But with it there are two rewards. Not only is Knesset Yisrael promised truth and nobility and greatness, but even the sacrifice is beautiful because G-d, the suitor, will walk and share it with her.

The choice is the same for both. The woman and Knesset Yisrael. Will both be great and strong enough to choose life?

The Jewish Press, 1976

The Christian nurse who declared "War on Hitler"

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