Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The Golden Gate -- Sha'ar Harachamim on the Temple Mount

The Torah states,

"Six days you shall work and on the seventh day, it should be a complete rest sacred to the Almighty" (Exodus 31:15) What does it mean "a complete rest"?

Rashi, the great commentator, tells us that rest on Shabbat should be a permanent rest and not merely a temporary rest. Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz, the former Rosh Hayeshiva (Dean) of the Mir Yeshiva, clarifies that a temporary rest means that a person has not really changed his inner traits, but he merely controls them on Shabbat. He still has a bad temper and has a tendency to engage in quarrels, but because of the elevation of Shabbat, he has the self-discipline not to manifest these traits. The ultimate in Shabbat observance is that a person should uproot those negative traits which are contradictory to peace of mind on Shabbat. One needs to uproot such traits as anger and the tendency to quarrel with others. Only then is your rest on Shabbat a complete rest.

It is not sufficient for a person just to refrain from the formal categories of creative acts on Shabbat. Shabbat is the gift of peace of mind. This is not considered righteousness, but an essential aspect of Shabbat. Only by being a master over your negative emotions can you have true peace of mind -- and elevate yourself spiritually!

Love Yehuda Lave.

The picture below, although one of my favorites is out of date. I have given 40 pounds back to the universe since this picture, so just imagine me thiner!!

The Golden Gate -- Sha'ar Harachamim on the Temple Mount
The Golden Gate ( Sha'ar Harachamim, Gate of Mercy) of Jerusalem's Old City wall has special significance on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.  If the gate were opened, it would lead directly onto the Temple Plaza.  The outside of the gate would open to the Kidron Valley and the Mount of Olives beyond.  In Talmudic literature the gate was also known as the Shushan Gate because of its eastern direction (toward the Persian city of Shushan) and perhaps because of the role played by the Persian leader Cyrus in the Jews' return to Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile.
The Golden Gate viewed from within the Temple Plaza (1860)
According to Jewish tradition, on Yom Kippur a messenger (usually a priest) took the sacrificial lamb from the Temple through the gate to the desert.  The Red Heifer purification ceremony also involved taking the sacrifice through the eastern gate to the Mount of Olives.
Interior chamber of the Golden Gate. Are the columns from the Temple structure? (1900)
Unlike most of Jerusalem's other gates, the Golden Gate was originally built at least a millennium before Suleiman the Magnificent rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem in 1540.  Indeed, some archeologists believe that the original gate, dating back to Herod's construction or even Nehemiah's period (440 BCE), still exists beneath the current gate.  Perhaps because of the great religious significance of the gate to Jews and Christians as the Messiah's route into Jerusalem, it is believed Suleiman sealed the gate and permitted the construction of a Muslim cemetery in front of the gate.
Hebrew writing - graffiti - on the internal walls of the gate's chamber is believed to have been left by Jewish pilgrims at least 1,000 years ago. (See study by Shulamit Gera, Catedra, in Hebrew.)
The graffiti scratched into the wall by "Avraham"
Diagram of the two levels of the Golden Gate (with permission of the
Biblical Archaeology Review)
The ancient subterranean arch and the pit  of bones. ( James Fleming)
The theory of an ancient gate received support in 1969 when an archeological student named James Fleming was inspecting the current gate. Suddenly the rain-soaked ground beneath him opened and he found himself in a pit of bones looking at the top of another gate eight feet beneath the surface.  Fleming photographed his discovery. When he returned the next day, the tomb had been sealed with a cement slab by the Islamic custodians of the cemetery.
Perhaps the bones date back to 625 CE when a Jewish revolt supported the Persians vs the Byzantines. Led by Benjamin of Tiberias and his army, the Jews controlled the city for several years, possibly even restoring religious practices on the Temple ruins. The period was marked with slaughters committed by all sides.

The Mysterious Life and Death of Hur

The story of Hur is one of heroism, tragedy and, ultimately, redemption.

Let us start from the beginning.

According to tradition, Moses' older sister, Miriam, married Caleb, son of Yefuneh. 1 Miriam and Caleb had a son, whose name was Hur.

The first time we meet Hur is during the war with Amalek. It was very soon after the Exodus, and the nation of Amalek aimed to poke a hole in the invincibility of this newborn nation:

Moses said to Joshua, "Pick men for us, and go out and fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of G‑d in my hand." Joshua did as Moses had told him, to fight against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur ascended to the top of the hill.

It came to pass that when Moses would raise his hand, Israel would prevail, and when he would lay down his hand, Amalek would prevail. Now, Moses' hands were heavy; so they took a stone and placed it under him, and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one from this [side], and one from that [side]; so he was with his hands in faith until sunset . . . 2

Hur, one of the three people who went up the hill to pray for salvation, was obviously a man of stature who was close to his venerated uncle Moses.

The next time we meet him is when Moses is climbing Mount Sinai for a 40-day learning session with the Divine, and tells the elders, "Wait for us here until we return to you, and here Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a case, let him go to them."

At the most important junctures of Jewish life in the desert, Hur was there, together with his uncle Aaron.

The subsequent—and final—time we meet Hur is just a few weeks later. Moses had told the Jews that he would ascend the mountain and remain up there for 40 days. The Jews miscalculated, and when Moses did not descend the mountain by the deadline, they decided to create a Golden Calf.

Just 40 days after hearing the words "Thou shall have no other god," they danced and celebrated before a Calf of Gold. And just twoscore after saying yes to "Don't commit adultery," they broke that cardinal rule as well. 3

Idolatry, adultery—and murder. They also committed murder at the scene of the Golden Calf.

Says the Midrash: 4

The sixth hour of the day arrived, and Moses had not descended from the heaven . . . They immediately gathered around Aaron. At that time Satan took advantage of the opportunity and made an image of Moses visible suspended lifeless between heaven and earth. The Jews pointed to the image with their fingers and said, "For this is the man Moses . . ." 5

At that moment, Hur arose against them and said, "You severed necks! Do you not remember the miracle that our G‑d did for you?" Immediately, they arose against him and killed him.

You read that right. It was six weeks after "Thou shall not murder," and there they were, murdering Moses' own nephew!

At the foot of Sinai, the Jews committed the three cardinal prohibitions. Moses would break the Tablets and beseech G‑d for mercy, and history would be changed forever in many ways as a consequence of this one morning.

You might think that Hur, who had just helped save the Jews from a terrible enemy a few weeks prior, and was now murdered for standing up for the honor of G‑d and His servant Moses, would end his story here at this all-time low.

But there is a postscript to Hur's story. The Torah tells us that when it came time to build the Tabernacle, G‑d told Moses to appoint an architect for this endeavor. The name of this young architect? Bezalel, son of Uri, son of Hur. 6 The honor to build the home for G‑d was given to the grandson of he who stood up to sanctify G‑d's name.

Meaning of the Name

The Ohr Hachaim 7 offers an insight into the name Hur. Hur (Chur) shares the same root word as chorin, "freedom." He explains that it was only through building the Tabernacle that the Jews were finally freed from the blemish of their sins at the Golden Calf. Building a home for G‑d was their rectification of the sinful behavior that pushed G‑d away from them.

In other words, Betzalel, grandson of Hur, provided the Jews with the freedom from their sins that included killing his grandfather.

Hur, the lover of Jews 8 and defender of the faith, must have been deeply proud that the honor of G‑d and the unity of His people has been restored, thanks to his own grandson.

Thus, Hur's story ends not with tragedy, but with forgiveness and redemption.


Rashi Exodus 17:10, based on I Chronicles 2:19.


Rashi on Exodus 32:6.


Cited in Rashi on Exodus 32:6.


Exodus Rabbah 41.


Malbim ( Exodus 17:12) refers to him as the unifier of Jews and the unifier between Jews and their G‑d.

PURIM - Thanking G-d for Our Struggles

This week was Purim Katan, thus a Purim article is appropriate.

During the festival of Purim we recite the Al Hanisim prayer. The prayer reads, "and for the miracles and for the salvations and for the mighty deeds and for the victories and for the wonders and for the consolations and for the BATTLES which You performed for our ancestors in those days, at this time."

In this declaration of thanks, we use many expressions of gratitude for the wonders and miracles and salvations and so forth. However, why do we end the phrase thanking G-d for the battles? I can understand thanking G-d for the victories from the battles, but why should we thank G-d for the actual battles themselves? Why is that also a gratitude and appreciation?

One inherent outcome of fighting battles is that we are forced to grow. Fighting the battles of life brings out the best in us. Only when the going gets tough, do the tough get going. Israel became the great Start-Up Nation and leader of life-saving techniques and inventions and medical wonders BECAUSE of all of our wars and all the terrorist attacks against us. These tragic events forced Israel to adapt and as a result we came up with these incredible, wondrous innovations and inventions that have saved countless lives all over the world. Whenever and wherever disaster strikes anywhere in the world, Israel is always there with a First Response Team. This is one of the reasons for expressing gratitude to G-d that we should focus on, this Purim.

Whatever challenges and hardships we are each individually facing, whether they be familial, inter-personal or communal, they have been uniquely given to us, carefully designed by G-d, to enhance our spiritual growth and achievement. It is only through our struggles that we can grow, progress, and reach greater levels and heights of Kedusha.

On Purim, we thank G-d for our victories, but we also thank Him for our struggles - for through them we can progress to become truly great and reach our maximal spiritual potential. As the Mishnah in Avot teaches, "according to the pain is the gain." Or, NO PAIN, NO GAIN.

Therefore, this Purim, let us all focus not only on the real victories but also on the real battles in our personal lives. May our personal struggles and efforts hasten the Final Redemption and coming of Moshiach speedily in our time.

Remember to Say 'I Love You,' Before It's Too Late

By Linda Goldberg

Is it worse for the survivors if the death of a loved one is sudden or a prolonged illness, where the survivors have to watch the loved one deteriorate and suffer?

For this question, there is no one answer.

After my husband passed

Watching my beloved husband waste away wasn't easy
away, I joined a bereavement group and listened to everyone's stories, as well as told my own. Some had loved ones that passed suddenly; others were ill for a long time.

Watching my beloved husband who had been a strong man waste away wasn't easy for me.

I was the caregiver. I spent most of my time doing things for him. I helped him into the car, then put his walker into the back seat, then drove to doctors hoping to find a handicap spot near the door.

After he had a stroke, they had sent him home on the condition that I was allowed to leave him alone only for two hours a day.

I rushed through grocery shopping, then opened the door to our house and shouted "Hello" as I ran in, hoping he was not on the floor from another stroke.

I cooked the meals and did whatever else I had to do to keep the house running smoothly. I helped him dress, and sometimes, if I believed he was having another stroke, I called 911 and accompanied him to the hospital, all the time saying, "You are not alone. I will stay with you."

Being a caregiver was and is a loving act.

In the group, I listened as others tell their stories.

They spoke of what happened and what they wished had happened.

"I should have called the doctor sooner," "I should not have left him alone," "I should have spent more time with him."

What more they could have done was always uppermost on their minds. They felt guilty.

"But you took care of them," I said. "That is not a trivial thing. They had you."

For survivors of the sudden death of a spouse or family member, they wished they had a chance to say good-bye or say "I love you" one last time.

But you showed them love in many ways, even if you didn't speak it. One answer for all survivors is to remember what is required on the High Holidays: to forgive others and also forgive yourself.

I had the chance in the

He was not alone
hospital to tell my husband that I loved him, and for that, I am grateful. He was not alone.

Tonight I am going to shul for my brother's yahrzeit. He died suddenly, all alone. I didn't have a chance to say "I love you" before he died. Tonight, I will also say a prayer for my sister, Bayla bas Chaya Sarah.

Last night, I dreamed of the apartment where our family of five lived in four rooms in what was then called Jewish Boston. Early in the morning, my father rose up and went off to work. My mother washed the clothes and put them out on the line to dry before she walked to Blue Hill Avenue to buy the kosher fish, meat or chicken to make the soup for Shabbat dinner.

Friday night we sat down at the kitchen table where the Shabbat candles were already lit. Dad stood at the head of the table to say the blessings over the wine and two challahs.

I don't remember saying "I love you" to everyone. But I did love them, and I still do.

The best thing I have learned is to remember to show the ones you love that you love them. It's also important to tell them.

That's what I plan to do.

By Linda Goldberg    More by this author
Linda Goldberg lives in Natick, Mass., where she belongs to the Chabad Center. She founded The Metro West Writers' Workshop and led it for 17 years. She is blessed with four grandsons.

Vatican's Secret Rules for Catholic Priests Who Have Children

"It's the next scandal," said Vincent Doyle, the son of a priest. "There are kids everywhere."CreditSuzanne Kreiter/Boston Globe, via Getty Images
"It's the next scandal," said Vincent Doyle, the son of a priest. "There are kids everywhere."CreditCreditSuzanne Kreiter/Boston Globe, via Getty Images
  • Feb. 18, 2019

ROME — Vincent Doyle, a psychotherapist in Ireland, was 28 when he learned from his mother that the Roman Catholic priest he had always known as his godfather was in truth his biological father.

The discovery led him to create a global support group to help other children of priests, like him, suffering from the internalized shame that comes with being born from church scandal. When he pressed bishops to acknowledge these children, some church leaders told him that he was the product of the rarest of transgressions.

But one archbishop finally showed him what he was looking for: a document of Vatican guidelines for how to deal with priests who father children, proof that he was hardly alone.

[ Pope Francis opens a meeting devoted to the issue of clerical sexual abuse: "We hear the cry of the little ones asking for justice." ]


"Oh my God. This is the answer," Mr. Doyle recalled having said as he held the document. He asked if he could have a copy, but the archbishop said no — it was secret.

Now, the Vatican has confirmed, apparently for the first time, that its department overseeing the world's priests has general guidelines for what to do when clerics break celibacy vows and father children.

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"I can confirm that these guidelines exist," the Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti wrote in response to a query from The New York Times. "It is an internal document."

The issue is becoming harder to ignore. "It's the next scandal," Mr. Doyle said. "There are kids everywhere."

As the Vatican prepares for  an unprecedented meeting with the world's bishops this week on the devastating child sexual abuse crisis, many people who feel they have been wronged by the church's culture of secrecy and aversion to scandal will descend on Rome to press their cause.

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There will be the victims of clerical child abuse. There will be nuns sexually assaulted by priests. And there will be children of priests, including Mr. Doyle, who is scheduled to meet privately in Rome with several prominent prelates.

The Vatican has confirmed that it has general guidelines for clerics who father children, pressuring them to prioritize the welfare of the child and leave the priesthood.CreditSpencer Platt/Getty Images
The Vatican has confirmed that it has general guidelines for clerics who father children, pressuring them to prioritize the welfare of the child and leave the priesthood.CreditSpencer Platt/Getty Images

For the church, stories like Mr. Doyle's draw uncomfortable attention to the violation of celibacy by priests and, for some former clerics and liberals inside the church, raise the issue of whether it is time to make the requirement optional, as it is in other Christian churches.

The children are sometimes the result of affairs involving priests and laywomen or nuns — others of abuse or rape. There are some, exceedingly rare,  high-profile cases, but the overwhelming majority remain out of the public eye.

The tradition of celibacy among Roman Catholic clergy was broadly codified in the 12th century, but not necessarily adhered to, even in the highest places. Rodrigo Borgia, while a priest, had four children with his mistress before he became Pope Alexander VI, an excess that helped spur Martin Luther's Protestant Reformation. Luther wrote mockingly that the pope had as much command over celibacy as "the natural movement of the bowels."

There are no estimates of how many such children exist. But Mr. Doyle said his support group website,  Coping International, has 50,000 users in 175 countries.

He said he was first shown the Vatican guidelines in October 2017 by Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, the Vatican's envoy to the United Nations in Geneva.

"You're actually called 'children of the ordained,'" Mr. Doyle recalled Archbishop Jurkovic having said. "I was shocked they had a term for it."

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