Devarim

The Secret to Jewish Continuity Rabbi David Brofsky is a Ra’M at Midreshet Lindenbaum In this week’s parasha, Parshat Va’etchanan, the Torah relates Moshe Rabbeinu’s final words to the Jewish people, before they enter the land of Israel. Moshe instructs the people to follow the commandments of the Torah: “And now, O Israel, give heed …

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“Parsha and Purpose” – Devarim 5782 
Rabbi Kenneth Brander’s weekly insights into the parsha 

 “When the Earthly Jerusalem Mirrors its Heavenly Partner

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When the Earthly Jerusalem Mirrors its Heavenly Partner

Real estate prices in Jerusalem have risen 10% in the past year. The joke in this country is the national bird in Israel should be the crane, because wherever you walk in Jerusalem, wherever you travel in Israel, there is building going on, thank God. And cranes mark the skyline.

Jerusalem is alive and well! Yet we still have the responsibility to fast on Tisha B’Av. Why is this?

Moreover, the prayer we recite at Mincha on Tisha B’Av states:

“נחם ה’ אלוקינו על אבלי ציון ואבלי ירושלים”

“God, comfort the mourners of Zion and the mourners of Jerusalem”, because the city is destroyed, despised and desolate.

While Rabbi Goren modified the prayer slightly to reflect the changed reality of the city, what is the authentic focus in our day and age on Tisha B’Av?

We often speak about two Jerusalems: the heavenly Jerusalem (“Yerushalayim shel Ma’alah”) and the earthly Jerusalem (“Yerushalayim shel Matah”). [Taanit 5a]

The prophet Isaiah explains in the haftarah that we read this week, Shabbat Chazon, how Jerusalem, how Israel, will be redeemed:

“למדו היטב דרשו משפט אשרו חמוץ שפטו יתום ריבו אלמנה”

We have to learn to do good. We have to devote ourselves to justice. We have to aid the wronged. We have to uphold the rights of the orphan and defend the cause of the widow. [Isaiah 1:17]

In order to be redeemed, Jerusalem must be an authentic city filled with justice. [Isaiah 1:21]

“קריה נאמנה מלאתי משפט”

It must be redeemed through justice. [Isaiah 1:27]

“ציון במשפט תפדה”

And while, Baruch Hashem, the stones of Jerusalem are being rebuilt – and we must be joyous and grateful for that; after all, it’s an unprecedented experience – Jerusalem is still the poorest city in Israel.

We still have agunot throughout our land. Jerusalem is still the place where Jews feel, in the name of God, they can attack the other.

We’re still waiting for the earthly Jerusalem to mirror the image seen in the heavenly Jerusalem.

And please God, we will get to that point, but until then, we have the fast day of Tisha B’Av.

Tisha B’Av exists to galvanize us, to be able to make the difference. So we celebrate the greatness of the redemptive period that we’re in, but we recognize that we’re just not there yet.

The earthly Jerusalem, the earthly land of Israel, is still riddled with injustice.

It’s our responsibility not just to rebuild the stones, but to rebuild the ethical and moral pillars that the land must represent, in order for it to be redeemed.

Shabbat Shalom, and have an easy but meaningful fast.

RSR

Shabbat Shalom: Parshat Devarim (Deuteronomy 1:1 – 3:22) By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel – “How (eichah) am I able to bear your contentiousness, your burdens and your quarrels?!” (Deuteronomy 1:12) Just prior to the conclusion of the 1978 Camp David Accords, U.S. President Jimmy Carter submitted a letter for Prime Minister Menachem Begin that …

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“And these are the words which Moshe spoke” – Moshe’s spiritual legacy to the People of Israel Rabbanit Renana Birnbaum is the director of Ohr Torah Stone’s Conversion Institute for Spanish Speakers The portion of Devarim opens the fifth and final book of the Torah, the Written Law, and focuses largely on Moshe’s departure from …

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Rabbanit Dena Freundlich Rock

Parshat Ha’azinu = The Torah? Rabbanit Dena (Freundlich) Rock is a core member of the faculty at Midreshet Lindenbaum in Jerusalem, where she teaches Talmud and Halakha, and coordinates the midrasha’s Matmidot Scholars Program. Parshat Ha’azinu is unique in that virtually the entire parsha is a song. Even in an actual Sefer Torah, the verses …

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 Parshat Ki Tavo – Maaser and Truma: Declaring our Avodat Hashem Devora Chait-Roth learned at Midreshet Lindenbaum for the year 2015-2016. She is in her second year of a computer science PhD at NYU, and co-directed a women’s summer beit midrash program called Bnot Sinai. The way a person spends their money often tells a …

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Marina Rivline

 Parshat Ki Tetze: “If brethren dwell together…”: Limiting Permitted Prohibitions Originally from France, Marina Rivline was a student in Midreshet Lindenbaum‘s Overseas Program from 2015-2017, officially making aliya in 2016. Marina performed Sherut Leumi in the Israel Police Forces and is currently finishing a degree in Law and International Relations at the Hebrew University. Parashat …

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Sarah Gordon

 Parshat Shoftim: Seeking justice while cultivating compassion Sarah Gordon spent a year post-college learning in the Midreshet Lindenbaum Educator’s Program (2006-2007). She is the Director of Israel Guidance and Experiential Education at Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls. Parshat Shoftim concludes with the atonement ritual of the Eglah Arufah, or beheaded calf (Devarim 21: 1-9), …

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Tamar Beer

Parshat Ekev: Reinventing the Covenant – Judgment, Mercy, and Second Chances Tamar Beer studied at Midreshet Lindenbaum  from 2016 -2018. She is currently enrolled at GPATS (Graduate Program for Advanced Talmudic Studies) and Azrieli Graduate School for Education, and directs a summer women’s beit midrash program called Bnot Sinai.   The concept of “shmartem et …

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“Parsha and Purpose” – Devarim 5781 
Rabbi Kenneth Brander’s weekly insights into the parsha 

“‘Where Are You?’ The Most Important Question of Tisha B’Av

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Parshat Devarim (Deuteronomy 1:1 – 3:22)

“‘Where Are You?’ The Most Important Question of Tisha B’Av”

When a loved one dies, God forbid, the intensity of our mourning is seen in its most dramatic form on the day of burial and then gradually diminishes from the first through the seventh day of shiva, through the next 30 days – the shloshim – and in the case of a beloved parent, throughout the year of mourning.

Our communal mourning for the destruction of our holy Temple, on the other hand, progresses in the exact opposite direction.

For three weeks, catalyzed by the fast of the 17 of Tammuz, we refrain from joyous activity. 

Then, during the final nine days of those three weeks, beginning on Rosh Chodesh Av (or, for Sephardic Jews, during the final week preceding the ninth of Av,) we progress to an even more heightened state of mourning. 

Ultimately, the pinnacle of mourning occurs on Tisha B’Av – the saddest day in the Jewish calendar.  

The reason for this opposite pattern is because unlike mourning a family member, it is so hard to sincerely mourn a 2000-year-old tragedy.

It’s true that the loss of our holy Temple led to the loss of our sovereignty and, even more significantly, the loss of our connection to God. 

But still it’s hard to immediately and emotionally connect to it. 

We need time to enter into the necessary mindset. 

The build up from 17 Tammuz to Tisha B’Av gives us the opportunity to think beyond the “what” of this period’s mourning practices and focus on the “why”.

One idea for getting into this “why” comes from the teachings of Rav Joseph Soloveitchik, ztz”l, based on the central text read on Tisha b’Av: Megillat Eicha, the Book of Lamentations.

Rav Soloveitchik teaches that Megillat Eicha also known as the Book of Kinot provides us with prophetic license to ask the ultimate question: “Eicha?!” – how God could this have happened?

How God can you have abandoned us the Jewish people to our enemies?

How God can you have allowed the Temple, Jerusalem and the Land of Israel to become desolate?

We begin Tisha B’Av by reading this book of Eicha, this book of Kinot, which gives us permission to question, and then spend the next 24 hours engaged in seeking the answers.

Rav Soloveitchik explained that when we read the word “Eicha,” we must also read it the first way that it is pronounced in the Bible, when God asks Adam and Chava: “Ayeka”? Where are you? (Genesis 3:9)

Eicha – how did this happen? – and Ayeka – where are you? – are intertwined. Because in order to repair the devastation , we must investigate where we are? 

Where are we in the treatment of other Jews and other human beings?

Where are we in our support of Israel?

Where are we in pursuit of unity?

Do we still not recognize that ultimately it was the judgmental hatred and the disrespect between us that caused famine, torture and the final destruction of the second Temple and all of its ramifications? (Yoma 9b)

Where are we in the process of trying to perfect the world, and help bring about the ultimate redemption?

This approach enables us to also mourn things taking place in our lives and in our generation, which are actually extensions of the tragedies that occurred two millennia ago, making the tragedy more relatable.

In the merit of heartfelt mourning over what we have lost and a resolution to prioritize fixing that which we have broken, may we witness the words of our Sages:

 כל המתאבל על ירושלים זוכה ורואה בשמחתה

Whoever mourns for Jerusalem will merit and see her future joy. (Taanit 30b)

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom and then a meaningful and easy fast.

Hannah Abrams

Tisha Bav: Using our eyes as well as our mouth Hannah Abrams studied in Midreshet Lindenbaum 2014-15, and is now learning in the Advanced Halakha Institute, Hilkhata, at Matan. She is also teaching in seminaries in Jerusalem. Megillat Eicha takes us deep into the world of despair. We cry out to Hashem, with a hopeless …

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