Archive for February 2015


Rabbi’s Baruch Dopelt Yossi Bilus, Yitzchak Aminov and Dr. Robert Goldman
New York has a lot to offer, both spiritually and materialistically, to the mild mannered observant Jew. First of all, one should know there is absolutely no excuse not to keep kosher. There are so many great restaurants and amazingly, many of them are open at anytime of the night. One, not only can always get something to eat, at the most absurd time, but he can be selective as well. With the convenience of the physicality comes the often celebrated American dream theme, of “opportunity”. We know a number of those success stories. It’s in the back of the many minds that success is imminent. However, many times there is often the temptation of greed in the pressure of reaching those dreams.It’s natural that one feels more spiritual at times than other times. This is where New York came in real handy after Purim ended 1 year. As a matter fact, it’s becoming a tradition ever since.

After feeling the Purim blues a good number of years ago (I guess I didn’t want it to end), I met a friend who took me to a very late Purim party. It was at the Yeshive Shar Yashuv. My family had gone to sleep already and I was still in the Purim celebration mode. To my surprise, it was a very good party. Every year they get a new band and every year it’s A plus and uplifting. The students and their Rabbis bond through the joy of the holiday. Everybody is drawn to happiness. Isn’t that amazing about New York? You could be celebrating Purim until the wee hours of the night. On this one particular occasion, as I was walking into the building of the yeshiva, I was startled for a brief second or two by noticing a Purim prank. Apparently, up in the rafters, were 10 dummies that look like they were being hanged. This was symbolic of Haman’s 10 sons who were hung on a tree.

The sages are puzzled by the dialogue that transpired between Haman and his wife Zeresh. After he came back from the party with King Achasverosh and Queen Esther, he felt really good. Then however, he passed by Mordechai the Jew. Apparently, he was the only one that did not respect and bow down to him. Haman was distraught and he said to his wife “nothing matters as long as Mordechai does not subordinate himself to me”. Funny, he was the second most powerful man in the world but the one Jew made a difference.

It seems like a non Jews of yesteryear knew more about our religion then the religious people of today.

So Zeresh replied strangely; “perhaps you should take Mordechai and hang him on the tree of 50 amot.” It’s weird that her advice was so detailed and descriptive. Why does it have to be 50? Why not 40 or 60? Also why did Zeresh choose the tree as the specific form of execution?  They were very creative back then on torture and death.

Apparently, though, she knew her history quite well:

Let’s understand what she meant. The first miscue of mankind we read about in the Torah is the sin of Adam and Eve. One has to ask himself, how did the snake convince Eve to eat from the tree? The scriptures say that she saw it was good.  What was good about the tree that it was good to eat?  Also, the snake repeats in his dialogue with Eve that death is imminent? It seems as if he’s conveying to her that it is worth it to reach.  She had to be a smart lady, nevertheless he convinced her.

Seems like snake had a game plan. We all know that when Moshe ascended up the mountain at Mount Sinai he reached 49 levels of intelligence. Reaching the 50th level would have required death because no man could reach 50 and still remain alive. Man always has a strong desire to reach great depths of intelligence. That pursuit is built in us. This was the snake’s selling point.  It doesn’t matter if you die or not. If you eat from the Tree of Knowledge, you reach hey euphoria of intelligence like no other, the grand prize 50.

Zeresh realized Mordechai was a tzadic and therefore a hard nut to crack. So she used the method of symbolism. Symbolism arouses certain compassion. It also evokes judgment, depending how you steer it. Here she intended on enabling G-d to scrutinize the Jews because of the negative symbolism.


Symbols provide us with the ability to communicate absolute values in a manner that goes beyond words. As a final example, consider what 9-11 would have been like without the American flag. How would each of us expressed the sorrow of the tragedy, the desire to embrace each other and give strength, the fear for our nation and the extraordinary solidarity of a people standing proudly and fiercely behind their President, if we did not have the American flag? What would we have done in its stead? How much poorer we otherwise would have been? Think symbolism and think our nation’s flag. How important is symbolism? How important is the flag?


In truth, everything has symbolic as well as pragmatic value. For example, Rav Hirsch Zt’l (Introduction to the Study of Symbolism) contrasted the symbolic meaning conveyed by words of farewell with the added meaning of a farewell accompanied by a warm handshake. Both the words and the handshake symbolize sorrow at parting and the longing to stay; however, words alone cannot convey the profundity extended through the tactile warmth of human contact and touch.


So we see that Zeresh’s plan was based on a very powerful concept. Seemingly her intention backfired. At the end, her husband Haman and their sons were the ones hung on the tree.

There is a common bond, unfortunately, between Eve and Haman. Greed was the weakness. Eve could have eaten from any of the trees except one, however she chose the tree of knowledge. Haman had everybody honoring him except one, Mordechai. Nothing mattered because he wanted it all

The symbolic act perpetrated from greed is presented though the tree. We have to know our place and not let our ambitions and success overtake our morals

Anti-semitism and emotions

This article was constructed with the help of either writings, lectures or shiurim of Rabbi’s  Berel Wein,  Henoch Leibowitz z’l, Akiva Grunblatt,  Yaacov Menkin, Akiva Tatz and Dr. Abba Goldman

Who was the greatest Jewish King we ever had?
Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah) succeeded Achaz as King of Judah. He was the greatest of all Jewish Kings, excluding David and Solomon. There are opinions that he was the greatest of all Kings including David and Solomon! That’s interesting!! How can anybody be chosen over David as the greatest of all Jewish monarchs. Perhaps, we should explore why this opinion places Chizkiyahu in such high esteem.
It’s vital to bring out an important point in order to understand the answer to our question. Let’s bring an example. My grandfather, Moshe Kimyagaroff, was one of the captivating chazanim in Israel in the 1940’s and 50’s. When a chazzan has his hypnotic moment on the congregation, any interruption will ruin the appreciation of his skill. Apparently, the moment is very special and has great value because it sprouts within anybody who is listening to an enormous amount of emotions. The power of music can be very moving.
 This leads us to ask a question about us – Jews. We pride ourselves of being intelligent people.  Our am Yisrael learns plenty of Torah, Baruch Hashem. It is often expressed that Gemara sharpens the mind. So, if that’s the situation, what is in the forefront for our illustrious people, emotion or intellect?

This Shabbat we have a special, additional Torah reading, Parshas Zachor. That text (Devarim, 25: 17-19) teaches us the mitzva to remember to wipe out Amalek. Amalek is the descendant of Eisav, Yaacov – our forefather’s brother.
Parshas Zachor is the only Torah reading in the entire year which we are all obliged to hear — men and women — as a mitzva de’oraita (a Commandment specified explicitly in the Torah).
However, it’s interesting to note. There are no modern maps with “Amalek” listed. There is no Amalekite government, no UN representative, not even an Internet Country Code. The only people remembering Amalek are the Jews, and we have a Commandment to destroy their memory. It would seem that the best way to perform this Mitzvah is also the easiest — namely, to forget the whole thing.
Why, one may ask, is it so hard to find or identify an Amalekite?
Our Sages tell us that Sancheriv,(705 – 681 BC) the Assyrian king, forced the many nations that he conquered to leave their homelands and settle elsewhere. As a result of these mass population movements, the Sages say, we can no longer identify the nations to which the Torah refers — e.g., Amalek — with the present-day inhabitants of the lands that bear those historic names.
It seemed Sancheriv’s decision to relocate the original inhabitant was a homerun. No one will ever dispute his authority; no one will ever rebel. The reason for this is immigrants are not patriotic. They don’t care about the government, its laws and its people. For the most part, they want to succeed financially. This is their focus, negating much of the French benefits that the host country offers. Their children will enjoy the money earned by the hard working immigrants. However, the kids would be more patriotic then the parents. But that process takes many years and by then Sancheriv would have a firm hold on the country.  A basic example is no babysitter will care and do a better job taking care of the baby then the mother.
 That was the master plan, switch everybody around and rule the world. Sancheriv was able to sleep at night knowing the his empire is secure.
Who are Eisav’s descendants today? Who are the prime candidates?  It seems as if history has caused a split in Eisav’s personality (Amalek’s ancestors), so-to-speak, spreading his characteristics amongst his many descendants of Edom, which can include people as diverse as Russians, Italians, and Americans. This was partially due to Sancheriv’s mixing up the nations a couple of thousands of years ago when Assyria controlled the world of that time. (Brochot 28a)
For this reason, the power of Eisav has dissipated somewhat, limiting his ability to control the world and truly due to Yaakov’s descendants what he set out to do from the beginning – annihilate them. However, should the various parts of Eisav’s personality reunite in a coalition of nations, especially against Yaakov, then WATCH OUT!
However, it’s all speculations, on the whereabouts of Amalek and who they are might very well be a fruitless and perhaps dangerous witch-hunt in trying to locate such brutes. The key to understanding the commandment though lies in the verse that the Torah says about him: ” Who happened upon you (“asher korcha”) when you were on the road, after you left Egypt.” The key word here is “korcha.” In addition to its literal meaning (“happened upon you,”), this word is also rich in allusions. Thus, Chazal add: Amalek “cooled you off” (from the word “kor” –cold), reducing the warmth of your relationship with G-d.
 We see a pattern in the Torah where G-d invokes a tough response to those who defuse the spiritual obeisance. When Yitzchak was born to Avraham and Sarah, G-d’s representatives, his ambassadors in this world, after so many years, it was proclaimed a miracle. Naturally, they couldn’t have kids, however, its G-d that runs the show. But there was one person who belittled Yitzchak, who was the first baby born tiny – Og – the giant was nasty.  All the babies born till then were delivered fully developed. By making fun of tiny Yitzchak, saying “this little thing can’t survive”, he downplayed the miracle. G-d’s response was “the descendents of this little thing as you call him – will end your life”. The Jews of Moshe’s time disposed of Og.
 Another example: when Moshe hit the rock after G-d instructed him to speak to it. By hitting the rock Moshe missed an opportunity to enhance the moment to a great spiritual height. Speech is man’s precious commodity and should be used in the appropriate time.
It seems like something got away of spirituality; there was a divide between G-d and man, a barrier where one doesn’t have the ability at least for a moment, not to see clearly.
 Dr. Abba Goldman says: “one has to use emotions properly, at times it’s important to let your enthusiasm take over, however, at times emotions can be dangerous and one has to hold back; one has to use measure of control.”
  A prime example is the story of Esther on Purim.
Haman, the Amalekite, convinced king Achashveirosh to sign a decree killing all Jews at a certain date. Not known to the king his new Queen, which he has grown fonder and fonder towards her, over the short time since her being chosen, is Jewish. Esther, the Queen, devises a plan, carefully orchestrated, largely, with the help of her uncle, Mordechai. Esther will invite Haman to a dinner party that only will have the company of herself, the king and Haman, where she will disclose that “one evil man, intends to destroy my people”. Achashveirosh, at that point in time, is mesmerized with the charming Esther, will no doubt stop the decree.
 The bait was set and taken. All three were at the table and Esther, on cue ready, stands, to point the finger at Haman, as Achashveirosh asks “who is this person” (that wants to destroy your people). At that moment, strangely, the Sages say – Ester pointed the finger at Achashveirosh, indicating that he is that wicked, anti-Semite who wants to destroy the Jews. Quickly an angel came and redirected the finger at Haman.
  The sages asked, what was she thinking? All you had to do is follow the script. Why mess it up now? You’re so close to a successful mission!!
 The reason: why Esther acted that way is because of stress. Perhaps, the readers are familiar with stress. Under duress, Esther let her emotions take over for the reason that emotion is extremely powerful component found in all of us. When the emotions are distracted one can’t think straight.


 The simple explanation of the passage “When wine goes in, the secret comes out”, is when people get drunk, they blurt out what is in their heart, which is often embarrassing. Rabbi Akiva Tatz has a different explanation quoting the mystics. “What’s the secret”? He explains, “When wine goes in, one sees life in a clearer picture. He becomes more spiritual, discovering deep ideas and a thinking pattern that can never be expressed with words. Words are limited; they are specific, and one who consumes wine can never express the feelings he experiences”.

 The Talmud tells us that on Purim one should drink until he does not differentiate between “blessed is Mordechai and cursed is Haman.” This is not an encouragement to reach an unconscious drunken stupor; there is a more profound explanation. Perhaps, we are being told that on Purim we should utilize the power of wine to remove the obstacles between head and heart, to facilitate this internalization process so that we do not just know this, but to assure we bring it beyond the realm of the intellect into the emotions. The wine helps obliterate the cold nature, to break the barrier that doesn’t make us see clear.
 When a Jew drinks – the loving nature, the warmth, should emerge not the anger and coldness.
Our task and G-d’s task are different ones. G-d protects us from the physical Amalek, while it is our responsibility to battle the Amalek, i.e., the evil, within each of us. Moreover, G-d’s ability to destroy the physical Amalek’s of the world is dependent upon our destroying our own Amaleks. This is the meaning of the Gemara (Chullin 139a) which states: “Where is G-d alluded to in the Torah? In the verse (Bereishit 3:11), `Hamin ha’etz’ / From the tree from which I commanded that you not eat, did you eat?'” When Adam committed the first sin in history, he made possible the existence of Haman and Amalek. (Haman was a descendant of Amalek.). One of the key methods in accomplishing that goal is with the right emotions. It is vital that we not allow the Amalek-kor-cold emotions to take over us. Our emotion has to be channeled correctly.
 Perhaps, David was able to accomplish more in his tenure as King however, as Rabbi Akiva Grunblatt, Rosh Yeshiva of Chaffetz Chaim, says Chizkiyahu was able to master his emotions in the area of bitachon-trusting G-d. A sensitive area where one can lose appreciation of the moment if he lets the Amalek in him to take over.
When an incident happens in our lives – our first reaction is with our emotions, that’s what strikes first, so it’s very important to be able to use our head and not to be compulsive in the heat of the moment.

My Royal dining room Table……Heaven!!

This article was constructed with the help of either writings, lectures or shiurim of Rabbi’s  Yissachar Frand, Baruch Dopelt , Yossi Bilus

A number of weeks ago the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, advised all Jews living in France to return to their homeland, Israel. He saidFrance is not a safe place to live. Perhaps we should always be on alert where we live; no place is safe!!  Forest Hills beware!!
The reality is Jews should never get too comfortable. The mind set of all Jews should be to strive to return to the Holy-land. This being said, historically France has had some of the strongest and most important communities in the Jewish past. The great Rashi, an acronym for (Hebrew: רש”י, RAbbi SHlomo Itzhaki) a medieval French rabbi (22 February 1040 – 13 July 1105) who was, and is, the most influential commentator on our holy books, took residence there. There have been many others, as well,who have made their impact felt.

Rabbi Yissachar Frand quotes something mind-boggling from the Rabbeinu Bachaye (1255-1340) about a common practice in France’s illustrious past. “It is a custom of the pious people in France to use the wood from their dining room table to build their coffins for burial.” Think about the imagery. A man spends many occasions, and has many meals, with his friend around his dining room table. Then he goes to his friend’s funeral and he sees him being buried in the same wood that was his dining room table! Perhaps he may notice the ketchup stains from those french fries binges he had with his buddy. This strange custom is rooted in this week’s parsha.
The kohen had at his right hand the table – shulchan. It was made of acacia wood and overlaid with pure gold. Its size was 2 cubits (3 feet) in length by one cubit(1 1/2 feet) in breadth and a height of 1 1/2 cubits (2 1/4 feet). Around the table was a border of gold and then a little further in, on the table top, an additional border which would hold the contents in place. The table had four legs, and two gold plated poles were inserted through golden rings attached to the legs for transporting.
The purpose of the table was to hold 12 cakes of bread made of fine flour. They were placed there in two rows of six, each loaf representing one of the tribes of Israel (Lev. 24:8).
The Rabainu Bahaye goes through the symbolism of the Table and the “Show Breads” that were put on the Table. Then he says, quoting sources, that the term Shittim (acacia wood, from which the Table was made) is an acronym for Shalom, Tova, Yeshua, Mechila (Peace, Good, Salvation, Forgiveness). He points out that the Aron and the Altar were likewise made of acacia wood (Shittim) for the same reason.

What he is saying is that all the gifts — represented by Peace, Good, Salvation, and Forgiveness — that the Jewish people received during the time of the Temple, came about through the conduit of the vessels of the Temple.

Rabbeinu Bachaye goes on to ask that this is all fine and good while the Temple was standing — we had all these utensils to provide us with these wonderful blessings — but what do we have going for us now that we have been in Exile for 2000 years? He quotes a famous Talmudic passage “Now that the Temple is no longer standing a person receives atonement through his table” [Chagiga 27a]. What is our “Table” that atones for us now that we don’t have a Temple? It’s our dining room table.

A person is judged by others via his table manners – how he holds a fork, where he places his elbows on the table and whether he speaks while having food in his mouth.  How he conducts himself at the meal can be a deal maker or a deal breaker. He develops relationships through lunch and dinner appointments. There are times where some of the largest business transactions are made over a pizza!!

One has to remember though something crucial when having meals for the bracha that we mentioned above to formulate. What a person does with his dining room table – if he feeds the poor,  welcomes in the bride, etc. – acts of kindness encompassing the words of the Torah — that is his altar of atonement. When one sits at his Shabbat table and is surrounded by others with whom he is sharing his bounty, when he uplifts his guests and family spiritually, his table becomes his altar of atonement.

There are a number of incidences that illustrate the power of the table in a tremendous way.  The popular Billy Joel was performing a concert at Madison Square Garden on a Friday night in 1979, at the height of his popularity. It was the hottest ticket of the year. Many of my friends were planning to attend. It would have been a great opportunity to get to know a particular individual that I was interested in a bit better.  Unfortunately and disappointingly, to my surprise, I realized that I was the only shomer shabbat person amongst  my peers. Should I go or not go was the great debate going through my mind all week.  What will my father think? My father z’l was a man who never ruled with an iron hand; he never forced me to observe. However I was drawn to my parents great Shabbat table through love. It was relaxing, filled with singing, jokes, wonderful stories of our heritage, both personal, as well as about our nation, divrei torah and delicious foods. My  parents had the platform at the Shabbat table. I learned all about our rich family background and my father’s and mother’s personality shined during those moments.  I couldn’t imagine seeing my fathers eyes when I would tell him that I want to go to the concert. Although he wouldn’t object outwardly it would have hurt him immensely.

I came down to the Shabbat table upset, after deciding against going to the concert, since I felt like I really missed out.  However, that feeling changed as the warmth and the love resonated through the Shabbat performance of my parents.  I had no regrets; I felt just lucky to have experienced the Shabbat table.

R. Shimon says: “Three who ate at the same table and did not say any words of Torah it’s as if they ate from offerings of the dead [idol worship]”. This is perhaps one of the more famous mishnayot in Tractate Avot, if only because it led directly to the custom to have someone recite a devar Torah (a Torah thought), at a meal.

The Maharal begins the discussion by pointing out that the act of eating in particular is a time when we show our dependence on those who provide us with the food – it is where a servant or slave most directly gets sustenance from the master.  As such, a meal provides an opportunity to recognize explicitly our dependence on God.  To do so properly, however, we need to make clear that we rely on G-d for two aspects of our lives, the physical and the spiritual.  In addition, one of those aspects, the physical, will die and be gone forever; it therefore has only temporary value.  The other, the spiritual, is eternal.

When we most manifestly display our dependence on God, the Maharal continues, we need to insure that both aspects are included.  By discussing issues of Torah at a meal, we actively demonstrate our understanding of the two areas of our life where we enjoy God’s beneficence.  Otherwise, we are simply feeding our bodies, which is like serving a dead vessel, since the body itself has no staying power.

One always has to be sensitive and on the alert, for if not he may miss a valuable lesson from one who he encounters. Dating, when I was single, was a horrific experience for me, overall. However one learns about humanity, its vulnerabilities and its courage, through those trying experiences.

On one particular date I asked the girl what was the deciding factor in becoming observant of mitzvot. She said, “I was listening to lecture tapes and it was nice however it was a visit to one of my new shomer shabbat friends that changed me.  I arrived to their house on late Friday afternoon where the house looked like a war zone. Kids were fighting on line waiting for showers, clothes were everywhere, nonetheless everything cleared up miraculously a few minutes before the start of Shabbat. The girls were dressed like little angels as they lit candles with their mother and the boys marched out with there little suits accompanying their father to shul. When the boys came back they all said Shabbat shalom to each other before the whole family got to their seats at the table. It was a sight to see as everybody was listening attentively as the father of the house was saying the kiddush. There was no electronic gadget intruding into the moment, no telephone interruption, nothing was able to penetrate the privacy of this special time. Then they all received brachot from their parents. I was so taken by the experience, seeing such a serene, intimate family moment that I excused myself to go to the restroom where I started to cry. I knew then that is the life I want.

The purpose of the  custom of the Jews of France where they used the wood from their dining room table to build their coffins for burial– says Rabbeinu Bachaye — was to teach that a person will take nothing with him to the World of Truth except for the charity that he gave in his life and the goodness that he shared around his table. The charity, the guests, the widows, the orphans, the Baale Teshuva that one has fed, and the influence that one dispenses around his dining room table is all that he takes with him. The table is the altar of atonement for our generation — only Kindness and Truth accompanies us to the True World.

Father and Son Relationship

Father and Son Relationship

The most intriguing and fascinating items of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) are the Keruvim. They were found on top of the Aron. They were two child-like faces with wings pointed upwards. When the Israelites were close to G-d, they would embrace each other, and when the Jews were not on the standards that they should be, the Keruvim would face away from one another.

The sages say, when G-d wanted to give the Torah to the Jews, he asked for a guarantor. So the Israelites replied “Our Forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Yaacov would be perfect.” G-d refused, stating “They owe me. How can they be guarantors?” An example was given, if a man wants to borrow money from someone and demands a guarantor, and the potential borrower says how about Joe? The potential lender refuses stating “how can he be a guarantor? He owes me money himself.”

G-d said to the Jews” bring me someone that doesn’t owe me.” The Israelites answered back “We know someone who doesn’t owe You a thing, the children; they’ll be the guarantors.”

Apparently, there are a number of different opinions as to who exactly were the Keruvim; some say it’s a boy and a girl; others say it was a boy and a man. Yechezkel’s vision was that of a boy and a man.

What’s the meaning of having a boy and a man on the faces of the Keruvim? Rabbi Noach Isaac Olbaum explains this is the essential part of

Judaism. It’s the father and son relationship that’s crucial to the continuous existence of our nation. It’s the father’s obligation to pass down the tradition to his son. Without a doubt, the fact that the Keruvim were placed in the holies of holies on top of the Aaron shows the importance of the relationship between the father and son. You can’t get holier than that place.

Therefore, we have to examine and fortify our relationship with our children. It should be healthy and communicative. The parody of the American dysfunctional family is brought out very well in the satirical TV series, The Simpsons. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen television and that show in particular. The show, indeed, well written, was very funny but very sad; but most important, a very true portrayal of many family structures, or I should say dis-structure in the western world.

The Torah emphasis the importance of the bond of father and son and the crucial treasure the Torah, passing down the tradition, that’s at stake. So perhaps what we could do is go out for a burger with our son; have a catch when the weather gets nice and most important, learn Torah with him. It’s important and it’s a priceless moment.

Pagen Ritual or the Truth


The obvious question that everybody on the planet asks is: “aren’t the KERUVIM-the angel like statues on the ARON a form of idol worship?”


Even if the Jews of that time period were 100% believers, wouldn’t it still be putting a stumbling block in front of a blind man, considering that this was the number one temptation of that time period?

Boy, the KERUVIM sure seem to go against a prime directive of “do not make for yourself any carved idols or any likeness of anything that is in the heaven above or here on earth below” (Shemot 20:4). We all know how our forefather, Avraham, broke all the idols in his father’s store. Then he placed the hammer into the hand the the biggest idol and when his father came in, Avraham simply pointed to the last remaining idol, and said he did it!


Speaking of Avraham, we find a similar incident. What made the test of the AKAIDA (G-d told Avraham to slaughter his beloved son) more difficult was that all his life he was preaching to  the world “it’s not proper to sacrifice your children to your gods” and here he is, Mr. self-righteous doing the same!


Similarly, the Romans ridiculed us after they conquered and destroyed our Temple. They brought out the KERUVIM and said “look they worship idols just like we do, they are no different”.


The Abarbanel explains that images were only forbidden if it was the intention to worship them.


The KUZARI explains regarding the sin of the Golden calf that the Israelites did not deny G-d’s existence rather they only wanted to make their worship of Him more concrete.


Interestingly, G-d issued two commandments regarding engraved images that seem to contradict each other. This is reminiscent of the Talmudic dictum that “whatever the Torah forbade, it made permissible by other means”. Thus, when G-d said “do not make for yourself carved idols” He also said “make two KERUVIM”. Likewise, one is prohibited to marry the wife of his deceased brother, but is commanded to do so if he dies childless. We are forbidden to wear any garments made of wool and linen, but the next verse states “make yourself tzitzit on the four corners of your garment” and these garments may wool even if the corners are linen. The Torah states that “those who violate the Shabbat shall be killed”, yet He commands “On the Shabbat day, a two year old lamb without a blemish shall be brought”. Such an offering involves acts that violate the Shabbat.


All of the above do not come close to the wonderment expressed regarding the commandment of placing the KERUVIM on top of the ARON which mimics idol worship. It sounds heretical, but mustn’t we ask-“what was G-d thinking?”


Perhaps that’s exactly the point. We have no authority or right to probe into something that G-d did not provide us answers for. We just have to follow the commandment and do G-d’s will. We tend to forget the proper outlook we should have; our religion is a belief. That’s the challenge. Belief comes from the heart. So one should not say “HEY MAN PROVE IT”. We answer to him ” WELL CHABIBI HOW DO YOU FEEL?”


Still, the KERUVIM remain one of the most perplexing mysteries in our religion.


This Dvar Torah is the fruit of a quick conversation had with Rabbi Lenny Bromberg plus some thoughts culled from the Nachshoni.

Secret power of a Talit at a traditional Jewish wedding

This article was constructed with the help of either writings, lectures or shiurim of Rabbi’s  Yissachar Frand, Yitzchak Aminov, Yossi Bilus

The flowers, the color table cloth, the hall, the caterer, the orchestra, the ring, I most likely missed some, my wife is better at coordinating weddings, are all necessary in preparing for today’s traditional Jewish wedding. Interestingly at my wedding, my florist gave me great advice in order to save money, since our wedding was separate seating, men and women, in accordance with modesty laws. He said “only put flowers on the women’s side since the men wouldn’t notice one way or the other. They’re more concerned about the food than the color table cloth, etc.” He was right.  No one from the men’s section asked about the flowers.  I actually took the initiative and asked some of the guys “what color were the flowers at your table? Many didn’t know; one said he thinks blue color flowers.  The old saying goes “men are from Mars and women are from Venus”.
 Many of the elements that are recited, conducted, served and sung at one of the most emotional charged celebrated Jewish event have deep meaning to them. For example, our brothers – the Ashkenazim – have a custom that I always found to be fascinating and I feel is one of the most fundamental concepts of life. At the chupah, the Kalah circles around the Chattan seven times.   This resembles the seven days that the world was built, so will the home the new couple build be blessed by G-d. Perhaps what I am also reminded by ushering the new home builders in the revolving door of life. I remember attending a funeral in the morning only to celebrate a wedding that very night. One begins to build while the other lets go, that is the circle of life!!
Furthermore, Kabbalists explain it that there are seven walls of evil that surround a person before marriage that falls when the Kallah circles the Chatan.
 Before the sheva brachot are recited, according to  Sepharadic and Yekkeshe [German Jewry]  tradition, the Chattan makes a  bracha of shecheyanu (blessing on something new), on his new Tallit. He then raps it around himself and spreads it over, with a little help from his friends, the bride. In essence, it looks like they are under a tent.
 What does the Tallit have to do with getting married and why cover it over the bride? Well, this tradition and the source stems from this week’s parsha.
 We are taught with regard to the restrained  Hebrew servant (eved ivri) that if “b’gapo yavo” then “b’gapo yeitzei” [Shmot 21:3]. What does this ambiguous term mean?
Rashi translates — based on Onkelos’ rendition — if he comes in by himself (i.e. – unmarried) then he will leave by himself. This interpretation fits in smoothly with the continuation of the pasuk [verse] “if he is married (im baal isha hu), his wife goes out with him.”
In modern Hebrew, we would use the term “ravak” [bachelor] for a single man and “nasui” for married person. The term “b’gapo” is very peculiar. It does not even appear in Mishnaic Hebrew. How does the word “b’gapo” indicate a person is single? The most common explanation is that it comes from the word “b’gufo” – meaning “with his body” (and with no one else). Rashi, however, cites another derivation for this word. Rashi equates “b’gapo” with “b’knafo”, meaning with his garment (i.e. – the shirt on his back).
According to Rashi, the metaphor for being single is one’s garment. The pasuk is saying: If you come in with (only) your coat, you leave with only your coat. What is the connection between a person’s garment and being single? The answer is that we define a person who is single as being one whose world ends at the end of this garment. He is a self-contained unit. His world ends where he ends.
If the definition of a single person is one whose world ends where his coat ends, then carrying the metaphor one step further, a married person is one whose coat extends over other people as well. A married person’s world extends to all others who have to come under his protection.
 With this idea, we can understand the Tallit’s role at a wedding. The groom puts on a Tallit and spreads it over himself and his bride. This ritual acts out the very implication of our metaphor. Under the Chuppah, at the moment of his marriage, the Chattan demonstrates that his world has now been extended by spreading his garment over someone else in addition to himself. My coat now has to cover someone else.
The Biblical source for this custom is the Book of Ruth. Ruth tells Boaz, in suggesting that he marry her, “And you shall spread your garment over your maid-servant” [Ruth 3:9]. In other words, “take me into your world.” Let your world no longer be the world of a single man that ends where your coat ends, let it be an extended world that includes someone else as well.
 It seems like a garment has a very important role in life and one cannot disregard its role. David in his quest to be King of Israel cut King Shaul’s coat while he was sleeping to show that he can easily infiltrate the inner privacy of his chambers.  One would have taken David’s act of “cut clothing” as showing his strength to Shaul as just that. However, David erred tremendously and was punished that his last days of his life, he would suffer by not being able to stay warm. No clothing would make him feel comfortable and warm. Midah k’neged midah – Measure for measure!
Why was David punished so severely for cutting King Shaul’s cloth? And why by covering the bride does the groom demonstrate that his world has been extended?
It’s our mission as Jews, who are the ambassadors of Almighty, the chosen people, whom we represent to emulate G-d. Yes, basically we’re copy cats.  We keep Shabbat because we read in the Torah that he rests on the seventh day. We put on Tefilin because we learn that He, metaphorically, puts on Tefilin. We take upon ourselves to do kindness because G-d does kindness with us. This is the primary directive, in this beautiful world. We pursuit this goal by acknowledging the very essence of what the word “world” means. The Ohr Gedalyahu points out that the word “olam”, world, has the same root as ‘he’elem’, which means hidden. The world is defined as the place where G-d’s presence is hidden. G-d reveals himself in a minimal way. He makes space for us to have our own world. He hides His light from us, so that we can make our own choices. But He remains immanently present within that hiddenness. In a way, He is yet more present in His absence than in His presence.  It’s our job to discover Him; however, that task is accomplished best by also being hidden. Although it’s impossible to be totally incognito, we have to accomplish without being too noticed.
 Walking the streets of Boro Park when we first got married, I commented to her of a few of the run down looking houses on the local streets. She laughed as I pointed to one particular one. She said, “Although it looks run down from the outside, however, the interior contains marble floors, a modern kitchen and a state of the art elevator”. She said, “It looks decrepit from the outside by design. They don’t want to be noticed”.
 The bracha of life is hidden, it’s covered. Strange – how nature works. The roots which are the most critical of plant life are formulated underground. A baby is conceived in the confines of privacy of the bedroom in the dark under the covers. We are obligated to cover some of major parts of life; married women cover their hair; the challah on Shabbat is covered; the ANANAI HACOVOD – the Cloud of glory covered the nation; we cover our heads with a kipah.
 David, by cutting his garment, breached the respect both of the King of Israel and Shaul –  personal virtue  for he was known to be careful with modesty laws. The apparent violation to clothing, a tool for Tzniut-modesty, a protection not to reveal, something G-d cherishes very much, cost David a great deal later on in life.  David, indeed, compromised the essence of the King; it wasn’t just the King of Israel but also the KING of the heavens. Therefore, he was punished with one of the benefits clothing has to offer, “Keeping warm”. No matter how many layers of clothing and blankets that was placed on David at the end of his life he could not stay warm.
 In a few weeks we will read Migilat Esther. Perhaps, it’s not a coincidence that Esther which means “hidden” is the descendant of King Shaul.
   The Chattan symbolizes, by placing the Tallit on the Kallah-bride, that we are now blessed. We are extending the bracha beyond the single status and are ready to start a family. Here the bracha starts from being covered-hidden by the Tallit which symbols the mitzvoth-commandments of the Torah.           
 May G-d grant us the perception to recognize that it is His presence, His light that permeates all that surround us in this olam. May this light enable us to see and realize all that we can accomplish.
 An accomplishment successfully done purely, discreetly but at the same time pronouncing and spreading His name.


Are you a member of a Bet Haknesset (Synagogue)?

Dr. Robert Goldman, Excerpts from Rabbi Gedalya Shore” Or Gedalyahu”, Rabbi Yossi Bilus 
 When you see the destruction that the Nazis brought to jewish establishments throughout the areas they invaded it’s remarkable that this beautiful synagogue survived. – Stadt Tempel Synagogue Vienna, Australia
What do you like the most about going to Synagogue? 
One of the things that I like is the Kiddush after services. Even though I come from a home with great cooks, my mother while I was growing up and my wife now, and they cook up a storm for the Shabbat meals, nevertheless, one still looks forward to eat at Shul and have a lechayim or two with the Chevreh (guys). Hey, that’s tradition!! 
Earlier in my marriage, when we were living in Brooklyn, I used to pray during the weekdays at a wonderful place with a great bunch of guys. We would learn Torah together after services and attend each others’ smachot. The chevreh would make any excuse to throw a kiddush. Whether it was for birthdays, anniversaries or just for feeling good, a nice spread would be presented. The kiddushes would be so frequent that they would taste a cookie and figure out what bakery it was from. Experts, that’s what they are; I love those guys. I must say, it was a lot of fun with some great memories. 
Synagogue hall in Samarkand
Were we focusing too much on the physical pleasures of life? Is that what Synagogue is all about? Was our social butterfly skills exercised a bit too extensively? After all, “They shall make me a MIKDASH sanctuary and I will dwell among them”(Shemt 25:8). Rashi, one of the mainstream commentaries interprets the word MIKDASH as a house of holiness-a structure from which holiness will emanate to the nation. 
A tremendous question is asked: Didn’t we learn in grade school that G-d is everywhere? How many of you remember the song: HASHEM is here HASHEM is there HASHEM is truly everywhere UP, UP DOWN DOWN RIGHT LEFT AND ALL AROUND THAT’S WHERE HE CAN BE FOUND!!” If that’s the case, who needs a sanctuary!! I got my home; I’ll pray there.” 
Eldridge Street Synagogue was the first great house of worship built in 1887 by East European Jews on New York’s Lower East Side
Secondly, why does the verse say ” I will dwell among them”? If the verse is speaking about a sanctuary, it should say ” among it”. 
We can learn many of our answers from this true story about a courageous young woman who became a ba’alat teshuva because of an Orthodox Synagogue experience. Growing up in a Reform home she on rare occasions would attend her parents’ Temple. The congregants were quite passive. Everybody was quiet except for the Rabbi. He was the entertainer; he conducted the whole service from A-Z, with a little help from the organ player. One day, her friend invited her for Shabbat and asked her to attend a particular Shul that they prayed at. After the services, they would all go home to this friend who hosted the Shabbat meal. 
She was quite astonished at the reaction of the congregants. Many would pray in their own way, their own style. Some would mumble: some would cry: some would shake their fist: some would just shake sideways or up and down. There were those who would pace up and down the aisle. However, incredibly, even though they seemed different in their prayer to G-d, they were in unison with each other as a congregation. When the Chazzan recited a kaddish or BARCHU, the whole congregation answered together. She noticed the tremendous freedom of expression and the ability from everyone there to find G- d in their own way. There was a genuine feeling of trying to get close to G-d. She also noticed after the services individual groups making kiddush on grape juice and then partaking of the food presented. No one would eat before they recited brachot. She was impressed with the individuality, at the same time floored at how everybody came together as a congregation by eating and drinking together. Similarly, we find the same at the Kotel which is our Temple in Yerushalayim. One can sense the KEDUSHA-holiness. Many people pour their heart out at the wall. There too, there is individuality; however, a feeling of togetherness is felt. 
Let’s get back to the question of “Is G-d everywhere? If so why do we need a sanctuary?” Before the sin of the golden calf there was a bracha ” In every place where my name will be mentioned, I will come to you and bless you”. Here G-d’s Omni-presence was apparent in each individual. Everyone had the ability of reaching G-d in a way that was similar to a congregation (minyan of 10). However, after the sin the power to bring the brachot was summoned to the Temple. The Temple, though, only was able to function when the Jewish congregation was present. G-d didn’t come visit, perhaps on rare occasions. But for the most part we had to go to G-d. If one recalls in our Jewish history how three times a year all Jews would travel to the Temple, it was a time of honor; it was a time where collectively, Jews joined together in unity. It’s where all Jews called each other chaverim, friends.
Today, the Temple is replaced by the Bet Haknesset (shul). The Sages say when the MASHIAH will come all the shuls will travel to Israel. The reason is that the Shul and the study hall are the life and soul of the community. It’s a place where we come together as worshippers, friends; it is where friendship is solidified; it is where unity is encouraged. In the Temple individuals would bring their own sacrifice. However, all were in unison and answered to the high priest. 
For this reason, there is a NER TAMID-ongoing light in each Bet Hakneset. We are reaffirming our loyalty to G-d and declaring that the Golden Calf will not recur. There will always be a light, an Omni presence, 24/7 in our Temple just like there was a ongoing light in our Temple way back then. This represented the ongoing presence that G-d is there and will never leave us. 
What is pigul?
  It’s very important that no conversations other than prayer should be conducted in the synagogue. One has to have concentration on what he is saying. In the times of the Temple, one would bring animals to sacrifice instead of the individual Jews bringing them. The owner of the animal would place his hand on the animal’s head and recite what the sacrifice is for. If there was any delay in the ritual, and he did not sacrifice on time, or he did not have the proper concentration when specifying the sin, the sacrifice is nullified. This is called Pigul. Therefore today since we emulate the actions of the Temple through prayer we must have the right intentions and concentration when praying. 
  Great Synagogue on Dohany Street, Budapest
Quiet demeanor required 
The Sages warn us that we must have a quite demeanor in Bet Hakneset. Raising one’s voice is forbidden, especially at a fellow Jew. If that occurs then G-d’s Omni-presence will depart. Whenever there is an embarrassment in shul, G-d’s presence will leave. The Sages learn out this lesson from this verse: “The Dove did not find a resting place for her feet only in KNESSET YISRAEL. The resting place will only take place if there is peace and tranquility. 
Allen Dershowitz, the famous American lawyer, attends synagogue every Shabbat. Interestingly, he’s not observant. “So why does he go?” one may ask. Dershowitz’s family wasdestroyed and decimated by Nazi Germany. Hitler said I want no trace of Jews in this world. Dershowitz said with a snicker, ” 70 years later, generations later, if one goes to Synagogue one sees Jews still coming with their children thriving in their Judaism while Hitler and the Nazis are dead. Every time I go to synagogue I feel like I’m sending a personal message to Hitler saying with a smile, “See? You were wrong ;We are alive and well.”

Come and Hear

Dr. Allen Goldstein,  Dr. Robert Goldman, Rabbi’s Isaac Oelbaum, Yossi Bilus, Yitzchak Aminov, Akiva Tatz and from the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל

“SHEMA YISRAEL HASHEM ELOKANU HASHEM EHCHAD-Hear Israel, G-d is our G-d, G-d is one” is the most famous prayer that we Jews utter. It’s the first catch phrase we teach our children.
 The question is asked  why did G-d choose to use the sense of hearing  as opposed to seeing as the vehicle to achieve this lofty spiritual act.
Is hearing more powerful then seeing? What is the difference between them?
 In this weeks parsha we learn  that if a Jewish slave decides to remain a slave and stay with his master rejecting freedom, “then his master shall bring him to the court and shall bring him to the door or door post and he shall bore through his ears with an awl”(Shemot 21:6).               This is a symbolic punishment. We are rebuking him for not exercising his rights of freedom. We were taken out of Egypt primarily so we can be servants only to G-d, not slaves to man. By choosing subordination to flesh and blood one is depriving himself of basic Jewish rights and the ability to serve G-d properly.
  The sages asked why is the ear singled out? Our entire body experienced the revelation at Har Sinai. The nose, eyes,  arms, legs all were present when we received the Torah where we committed ourselves to serving G-d. Secondly , perhaps  we should hit the ear after every sin we make. If one desecrates the Shabbat just wack the ear. If you insult your mother-in-law the ear will get abused.  Why only in  this particular incident do we go through this procedure?
 I remember many years ago there would be frequent audio recording on a devise called a tape recorder where only sound can be heard.  Also in those days  home made movies had no sound. Today my son’s spy watch is more sophisticated then those recording devises of yesteryear. If one views and  hears those images and sounds  some time later, one can ask, which has more of an impact and conjures up stronger emotions, the sound of the tape recording or sight of the homemade silent films?
Lets understand sight and sound a little bit more deeply.
 One of the more puzzling passages in the Torah is when we were on mount Sinai  “All the people saw the sounds, the flames….” Rabbi Akiva interprets this verse to mean that the Jews then “saw that which is heard, and heard that which is seen.” Thus, “the sounds” which by nature are normally heard were literally seen, and “the flames” which are customarily seen were actually heard.
   The special effects were probably very neat. However, why did the Torah have to mention this point? What does this passage  mean?  How does it relate to us receiving the Torah?
 Also the expression NAASEH V’ NISHMA  “we will do and we will hear” was pronounced. The word “hear” is used where perhaps understand would be more fitting.
Our Jewish law favors sight more than sound. With regard to the person, sight has a more profound impact on the viewer than hearing has on the listener. Accordingly, the person who sees something is surer of the information conveyed to him by his sense of sight than the listener is of that which is conveyed to him by his power of hearing.
This fact results in the law that “a witness [to an event] may not serve as a judge,” for as the Gemara explains, since he actually saw the person commit the misdeed, it will be impossible for him to find extenuating circumstances and deal leniently with the perpetrator.
However, when a judge merely hears the testimony of witnesses, he is still capable of dealing leniently with the defendant by reason of extenuating circumstances. This is so, even when he is thoroughly convinced that the eyewitnesses are telling the complete truth, and that the person did indeed commit the misdeed for which he stands accused.
 Apparently, sight is seemingly more important then sound. However, in the Jewish court of law if one makes one deaf he has to pay full compensation for the person as opposed to blinding him, which receives a lessor penalty. If sight is more vital then hearing why is this so?  There seems to be a special mystique about hearing.
 Perhaps we can get enlightened by King Shlomo who said NATAN AVDECHA LEV SHMIAH-you gave your servant a heart that can hear. There seams to be a connection between the heart and listening.
  Many commentaries mention that Yitro, Moshe’s father-in-law, heard then internalized  all what had happened to the Jews. He then converted to Judaism.  As a physical being, man is naturally closer to the material than to the spiritual. It follows that he will grasp a material object – with his power of sight – more intimately and thoroughly than something spiritual. However, sound is soulful and can penetrate deep inside a person. Perhaps for this reason music has such a mesmerizing effect on a person.
 The ancient Greeks were very much into art and physical beauty; It was all about vision. The Jews, on the other hand, had a different approach. When the Talmud introduces a question, if one notices  the expression is TAH SHEMA-come and hear. Why not come and see?  The expression SHMA MINA- I would have thought” is also used. Hearing is closely associated with deep thinking and spirituality.
   We can identify more closely to the physical world of sight than the spiritual world of sound.  When the verse states “seeing that which is heard, and hearing that which is seen.” Spirituality is generally only “heard” by means of experiencing it from a distance. When G-d gave the Torah to the Jewish people, however, He raised them to a level where they became capable of “seeing” and grasping spirituality through direct perception.In contrast, the physical world, which had always been clearly seen by them, now became distant from them. Their heightened spiritual state made it difficult for them to “see” and fully grasp the material world; they were now only able to recognize it with their weaker sense of “hearing.”
 G-d had provided them with an opportunity to get close to him in the most intense way by bringing the spiritual sound in full sight.
 The Jewish slave is deprived of a lot of mitzvoth.
Here it is his option, his choice to continue in his servitude therefore forfeiting  his Jewishness,
his spirituality. Of all the organs of the body, the ears represent the spiritual aspect of a Jew. Therefore he is punished with that organ.
We have to internalize the words HASHEM ELOKANU HASHEM ECHAD-G-d is our G-d, G-d is one, and we accomplish this task with the most spiritual part of our body, through hearing. Because we know that  hearing is the medium in which belief and trust is internalized. It will penetrate the heart.

Do not covet your neighbor’s house, wife, car and state of the art barbecue grill

This article was constructed with the help of either writings, lectures or shiurim of Rabbi’s  Pinchas Winston,  Yossi Bilus, Yissachar Frand, Noach Isaac Oelbaum     and Dr. Abba Goldman

The tenth of the Asserret HaDibrot [“Ten Commandments”] is Lo Tachmod: “Do not covet your neighbor’s house; do not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his slave, his donkey, his ox, or anything that belongs to your neighbor” [Shmot 20:13]. A person is not allowed to be jealous of his friend’s possessions.

There are three categories of expression — thought, speech and deed. In Jewish tradition, controlling one’s actions is the simplest level of self-control and observance. Speech is a little harder. Thought, such an internal, personal level of expression, is the hardest of all.

How is it possible to control one’s desires? It’s even more mindboggling that one would be violating the Torah if he is jealous of his friend’s purchase of a brand new car. Does that translate to us receiving severe punishment for the feeling? After all it’s a Torah violation and those are strict!! How can the Torah legislate against a person’s desires? It is very natural for a person driving a jalopy to be jealous of a person who has a new car and does not have to worry about leaking oil and whether the car will start each time he turns the key in the ignition.

If this is readily understandable in terms of our neighbor’s car, it is certainly understandable in terms of more meaningful things in life. We see other’s children more obedient, successful and perhaps accepting Jewish values more readily. Our perception is that our neighbors are living in bliss, happily married, while we look at our marriage as difficult. We see our neighbor’s families, we see their position, etc. How does the Torah command a person not to be jealous?

Granted, we learned in Torah 101 (beginner’s class) that desiring what others have is wrong. Everyone is tailor-made for his lot in life. G-d gives each one of us what we need materialistically and whom – wife, children, etc. (or lack of) – to make us better people. However that feeling, of desiring what our neighbor’s have, although diminished because of our Torah knowledge, is still apparent. What is the antidote so that we don’t desire other’s possessions, spouses etc.?

To be eighteen again is a wonderful thought. You have that youthful strength and energy but are now considered an adult though, by and large, you’re still supported by your fairly young parents. As a matter of fact, I’ve asked many men “What was the best years of your life?” and most guys of middle age, pointed to when they were young adults, before marriage years. Not that marriage is bad but it adds a huge responsibility of making a living – one might even label it the curse of Adam-ZE’AT APEHA-sweat of your brow.

A group of young adults were enjoying a cold wintery Sunday afternoon at Central Park when one of the young men spotted an attractive girl on the other side of the frozen lake. Being that age, when feelings for girls are at full bloom and difficult to control, the young man expressed his desire to put on his skates, which he had in his dufflebag so he could skate across the lake to meet that girl. Very often at that age one takes risks to satisfy one’s new found desires and tend to leap into situations, negating the danger involved, and so that’s exactly what he did.

As the young man was zooming half way across the lake, anticipating his conquest, he noticed a hole in the ice which he couldn’t manage to avoid and fell into the icy water. He immediately scraped at the ice with all his might; his life hanging in the balance.

From this parable we see the antidote for desire. As the young man anticipates his unfortunate doom, does he still have the desire for the girl across the lake? Fear has instantly grabbed this boy’s emotions. With the element of fear the young man sees, however briefly, the situation a bit more different and perhaps a bit more clearer. Gone is the desire; regret has set in. As a matter of fact, the word for fear in Hebrew is the same as the word for seeing – yireh. One sees with clarity; his perceptions are magnified when in fear. Perhaps, for this reason it is written in the Torah:
Now, Israel, what does G-d, your G-d, ask of you? Only to fear G-d, your G-d … (Devarim 10:12) These words are a central part of Moshe, our leader’s farewell address to the Jewish people on the last day of his life

The Talmud reiterates this point:

All is in the hands of Heaven except fear of Heaven, as it says, “Now, Israel, what does G-d, your G-d, ask of you? Only to fear ….” (Devarim 10:12) … Rebi Chanina said in the name of Rebi Shimon bar Yochai: The Holy One, Blessed is He, only has fear of G-d in His storehouse, as it says, “Fear of G-d is His storehouse” (Yeshayahu 33:6). (Brochot 33b)
Why is fear so important? Is it possible to manufacture fear? Ba’al Peor, one of the leading idols that people worshiped in Biblical times because of its rebellious streak against natural society (one would defecate on the idol), actually originated as a fear religion. When one is in tremendous fear what very frequently happens is loss of control of one’s bowel. This is how they worshiped their idol; by emotionally manufacturing the fear element.
Does one create that feeling when his neighbor’s child gives birth to a baby boy and he’s jealous? That’s insane!!
In order to understand how fear works let us examine a key element how we became a nation.

There were two people who led the Jewish midwives in going against Pharaoh’s orders of murdering the Jewish babies. Yocheved and Miriam possessed many beautiful character traits including, faith in G-d, kindness, an unwavering belief in a better future and courage in the face of adversity. But none of these traits is mentioned in the Torah. Instead the text tells us: “…it was because the midwives feared G-d that He made them houses” (Shemos 1:21) and “…the midwives feared G-d and they did not do as the king of Egypt spoke to them, and they caused the boys to live” (Shemos 1:17).

The “houses” – G-d’s reward to the midwives for their perfect fear of Him -were the dynasties of Priests (Kehunah) and Levites (Leviah) who served in the Temple, as well as Kings (Malchut), including the House of King David, for Yocheved and Miriam, respectively. Why is “fear of G-d” seen as the source of the midwives’ behavior and why is it considered so fundamental to the Jewish greatness they embody?

Our sages tell us that when a person leaves this world, G-d asks him six questions including, “were you honest in business, did you study Torah, did you wait for the Messiah?” If a person is on the level that he can truly respond “yes” to all six questions, he is then asked, “were you G-d-fearing?” If he says “no,” he is told that all six previous answers are worthless without the fear of G-d. This seems somewhat bewildering. Why are six accomplishments insignificant in the face of this one specific failure?

It’s important to add another element in order to truly understand the definition of fear. Let us examine the story of Avimelech, the king of Gerar who kidnapped Sarah, the wife of Avraham, our forefather, for himself after being told by Avraham that she was only his sister.
However, before he could lay a hand on her, G-d spoke to him and revealed her true status, which shook Avimelech up when he realized how close he had come to committing adultery. However, in his defense the Torah writes:

Avimelech had not approached her, so he said, “G-d, will you slay a nation even though it is righteous?” (Bereishis 20:4)
Righteous? How could he have called himself or his nation righteous? Even had Sarah really been Avraham’s sister, did she consent to being taken by Avimelech? Had Avraham agreed to her abduction? As Avraham later told an upset Avimelech, he had lied about Sarah:

“Because I said, `There is but no fear of G-d in this place and they will kill me because of my wife’.” (Bereishis 20:11)
But, how did Avraham know this? What had he seen during his short stay in such a booming metropolis that indicated to him that all that was missing from such an advanced place was yireh Shamayaim-fear of G-d?
This is what Rashi says Avraham asked Avimelech:

When a stranger arrives in a city, do people ask him about what he would like to eat or to drink, or do they ask him about his wife? (Rashi, Bereishis 20:11).
In other words, Avraham reproved Avimelech by saying:

“If your people are going to ask me about anything at all, it should be about my needs. If they ask about my relationship to the woman accompanying me, then it is evident that they are not G-d-fearing people! G-d-fearing people act in a Godly manner, and if they do not, then you know they will do whatever they want to achieve their own goals, including kill me for my wife.”
Thus, according to Rashi, it is fear of G-d that allows one to put the requirements of others before their own personal needs. Hence the verse, regarding Yocheved and Miriam, says:

The midwives feared G-d, and disobeyed the king of Egypt, saving the children. (Shemos 1:17)
This is the underlying reason it explicitly stated that the mid-wives feared G-d!!
However what does the fear of G-d have to do with doing good to others? One of the key elements in fearing G-d is respect for his creation. This is perfectly illustrated by this parable:

When the king’s son is amongst the people everybody will give him the utmost respect because if not, it will be reported to the king. Then they will pay the consequences. He can be the biggest brat and still the people have to treat him in the most delicate way. Everyone is born with a mission in life and has the stamp of the king. The fear of the heavens will keep your relationships in check and your eyes to yourself. Your friends and neighbors are the King’s children. As long as we have fear of the heavens then there will be clarity, a vision untainted by desires.

Hence, what transpires is that if one has fear of G-d he will eventually have respect for his fellow man. There will be no jealousy out of fear. That covers both sides of the 10 commandments. One through five, the first side, is between man and G-d. Six to ten is between Man and his relationship with his fellow man.
For this reason G-d proclaimed “Now, Israel, what does G-d, your G-d, ask of you? Only to fear ….”