Tag Archive for Rivka

The Little Red Headed Girl

This article was constructed with the help of either writings, lectures or shiurim of Rabbi’s Noach Isaac Oelbaum, Asher Hurzberg, Mr. Boaz Davidoff
Everyone on the planet, at one point in his or her life, has had a crush, whether in grade school, high school or for that matter, even old school.  When Cupid shoots his arrow, we’re sitting ducks and those arrows sting at any age and time.  Unfortunately, this experience can be quite debilitating, as can any consuming obsession.
I was taken aback by an article I read, about the waste of precious time and energy which infatuation can cost a person and how this topic played a key role in one of my favorite childhood cartoons. Perhaps this is why so many found it easy to identify with the main character and his experiences.
Peanuts was a syndicated, American comic strip, written and illustrated by Charles M. Schulz, which ran from October 2, 1950, to February 13, 2000. It was also made into cartoon TV specials, which earned high ratings. This strip is the most popular and influential in the history of comic strips, with 17,897 strips published in all, making it “arguably the longest story ever told by one human being”.
The premise focuses entirely on a miniature society of young children, with no shown adult characters. The main character, Charlie Brown, is meek, nervous and lacking in self-confidence. He is unable to fly a kite, win a baseball game, or kick a football.
One of the ongoing themes, is Charlie Brown’s infatuation with Little Red-Haired girl. Interestingly, Charles Schultz was inspired in this, by his personal experiences in real life.
A former co-worker, Donna Mae Wold (born Donna Mae Johnson January 3, 1929 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, died August 8, 2016 in Richfield, Minnesota), was Schulz’s inspiration for the character. A 1947 high school graduate, Johnson was working in the accounting department of Art Instruction Inc., a correspondence school where Schulz also worked. Johnson and Schulz eventually became romantically involved and dated for three years, but in 1950 when Schulz proposed to her, she turned him down, saying she was already engaged. Schulz was devastated, but he and Donna remained friends for the rest of his life. Schulz said of the relationship, “I can think of no more emotionally damaging loss, than to be turned down by someone whom you love very much. A person who not only turns you down, but almost immediately will marry the victor. What a bitter blow that is. Last summer, day after day, I called the Little Red-Haired Girl. And night after night, I wondered whether I would ever actually get to talk with her.”
Last July, Michael Cavna of the Washington Post, finally spoke with Ms. Wold, who was warm, humble and endearing, as well as reassuring that she had built a fulfilling and rewarding life. More than six decades ago, she had chosen her longtime firefighter husband over Charles M. Schulz. Schulz, the world-famous Peanuts creator, turned his heartache into art, with his scarlet-haired character.
“Oh, we dated for about two years,” Ms. Wold told me of her relationship with “Sparky” Schulz after they met at a Minneapolis instructional art school; both he and Allan Wold proposed marriage. “I loved him. I guess I chose Al because I knew all Al’s friends, who became my friends. I didn’t really know Sparky’s friends.”
“But it was a long time ago,” added Wold, speaking by phone from the Minneapolis area, where she had lived her full life, traveling and camping and adventuring (she loved the Grand Tetons) and becoming a mother to four and a foster mother to scores more.
Allan and Donna Wold married in 1950, the same year that Peanuts debuted.Schulz would introduce his mysterious, Donna inspired character to Peanuts readers on Nov. 12, 1963, as Charlie Brown said dreamily, “I’d sure like to eat lunch with that little red-haired girl.”
“She’s the object of his affection,” Jean Schulz, Sparky’s widow, told me last year. “We can’t [really] know her. … There’s this mystique and this fantasy.”
Ms. Wold lived in the shadow of that silhouette for more than a quarter-century, acknowledging her role of inspiration in 1989, upon the release of the Schulz biography, Good Grief. “It got her out in the spotlight just a little, not too much,” Allan Wold told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis.
Donna Mae Johnson Wold died Aug. 9 of heart failure and complications from diabetes, the Star Tribune reported over the weekend. She was 87.She is survived by her husband; her daughters Sally Wold, Peggy Baumtrog and Susan Trulen; a sister, Margaret Olson; seven grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren.”I’ve had a good life,” Ms. Wold told me last summer. “A very happy life.”
We live in a world in which it’s inevitable that we’ll have disappoint-ments. It is interesting to observe how the lives of Schultz and Wold took different paths. Did Schultz ever get over his love interest? We can often ask the same questions of ourselves. If we were able to overcome our feelings, how much pain staking time did we waste obsessing over them? How many different life decisions have we made, as the result of the emotional scars we were left with? It is sad to see poor, old Charlie Brown, dreaming his childhood away on that girl. The sweaty palms and practicing pickup lines in front of a mirror, are all too familiar. Wake up Charlie Brown!!!  We are all susceptible to plunge into those emotions, which can deter us from meeting someone else or prevent us from doing our work, advancing in our studies or building relationships. Of course, obsessions and their resulting negative effects, can arise over any area in life and are not limited to love interests.
The powerful, opening remark of our slichot, which we began reciting a month before Rosh Hashana, is BEN ADAM MAH LECHA NIRDAM- Son of Man why are you sleeping!! This phrase is designed to make us aware of our state of mind. The expression refers to a story from our Jewish history, where sailors approached the sleeping Yonah, when their ship was in dire straits. “We need your prayers; pray to your G-d, for we will all drown,” they said to him.  This statement is a wakeup call to us, as well. We too, have to wake up, smell the coffee and repent. We have been sleeping and letting life slip away. It’s about time to look for G-d before it is too late.
This lesson applies to every aspect of life, for in order to serve G-d properly- the reason why we are here- we cannot let anything deter us from being the best we can be. We cannot let anything debilitate us from doing our precious work, which can be done exclusively by us. If we get caught up in obsessions, we lose out on precious time; we lose out on true happiness; we lose out on life.
We learn an incredible lesson from the Torah’s perspective of matchmaking. I believe these words of wisdom alone, can enhance our quality of life, immeasurably.
Rabbi Yossi Bilus attended a lecture by Rav Pam, on Chayeh Sarah. Rabbi Bilus remembers a powerful lesson from that lecture, that made a lasting imprint on his life.
Often times, people date hoping to find their partner in life.  People frequently think they’ve graduated from “hoping to find,” to “it’s happening, I’ve found my match.” They already find themselves thinking about how many kids they are going to have and where they are going to live. And then a short time later, the other party walks away disinterested, leaving the partner devastated and doomed. There are those who never get over the hurt.
Avraham, our forefather instructed his trusted servant, Eliezer to find a wife for his son, Yitzchak. When Eliezer reached the well of the city where Avraham told him to go, he saw Rivka approaching. She did him tremendous kindness, giving him and his camels water. Eliezer was so sure he had found Yitzchak’s mate, that he showered her with jewelry. The mission seemed to be accomplished. But when Eliezer met Rivka’s family, he said something peculiar. “And now if you want to do kindness and are interested – tell me if not I will turn to the right or left”. In other words, if you’re interested, great, if not I will look elsewhere. Even after giving Rivka all of that jewelry, Eliezer was prepared to break off the process. We learn from here, that If it’s not working out, it’s not what G-d wants and no matter how perfect it seemed, we have to move on!!
My mother would always say to me when I was dating, “every pot has a cover”. Those were reassuring words. However, in order to feel that reassurance, we have to be at peace with ourselves. We have to have the right frame of mind, to make the great, big step. We also have to let go of the ghosts in our heads, of what it would have been like if the other party would have stayed. That was the past; we must look forward.
This is why we recite AL CHET SHEH CHATANU LECHA B’TIMTUM LEV-On the sins that we are committed through confusion of the heart.
Since when are we chastised for being confused? Isn’t that a little harsh? Many of us are confused. For goodness sake, we live in New York city!! with neon lights flashing all around us. Do we have to be chastised for that?
Rabbi Oelbaum says the answer lies in the Ten Commandment. The two tablets are shaped almost like a heart.
When we received the first tablets, the words were engraved in them symbolizing that everything found in the Ten Commandments is etched in each of our hearts. Our emotions are vital to our survival. The heart is pivotal in directing ourselves in the right direction. Therefore, it has to have clarity to the highest degree. It is for this reason the Torah was infused directly into our hearts.
However, after the sin of the golden calf, the passive, automatic connection to G-d was no longer. The heart entered a confused state as a result of our blunder. We had to start being more aggressive. We had to work to incorporate the Ten Commandments into our hearts ourselves, in order to see clearly and eradicate the confusion. In order to move forward, the Torah gives us guidance, so we shouldn’t fall off track into obsessing and time wasting.
When we don’t take that step of incorporating the Ten Commandment into our lives, our hearts remain confused and we are responsible for not taking the initiative.
For this reason, Eliezer, Avraham trusted servant was prepared to break away so easily. He ruled over his emotions and didn’t allow them to rule over him.
Good grief, Charlie Brown wake up!! Wake up and smell the coffee!! Good grief, we should wake up in time…. Be’ezrat Hashem.


This article was constructed with the help of either writings, lectures or shiurim of  Rabbi’s, Yonossan Zweig, Berrel Wein,  Yossi bilus, Akiva Tatz, Asher Hurzberg, Ilan Feder

Does the message of Pesach have any relevance in today’s day and age?
Why is the Halach Ma’anya written in Aramaic?
When is the best time to say Halach Ma’anya?
How do we answer the question that the four sons ask?
The much anticipated, much glorified, and if you’re a housewife (or for that matter in today’s day and age houseman) somewhat scary holiday is at our threshold. Pesach! Such wonderful childhood memories invoke yours truly of this glorious holiday. I must say my parent did a fine job; the singing, the rituals, the education, the entertainment, the tradition, the food!  A package deal is what my parents so artfully delivered to us every Pesach. We didn’t go away like most families. The home always had a very intimate flavor that naturally glorified the holiday so much more than any vacation package in Florida could offer.
Pesach marks the uniqueness of the Jewish people – a people delivered from centuries of bondage through miraculous Heavenly intervention. One of the main functions of Pesach is to connect us to an event that occurred millennia ago in a distant land.
However, if one doesn’t have the fond child memories, the natural inclination of people is to feel disconnected to that event.  Even if there were memories, they may be “lukewarm”, so to speak, so how can one muster the stamina to sit through an entire Seder?  How much juice is left in the clown outfit that the father wears, the Uncle Moishe type Seders with lots of singing, or as what my son’s past Pre-1A Rebbi who suggested, having little plastic frogs and use small super balls for the plagues to stimulate the interest in the kids?  Even the classic traditions like hitting each other with scallions during the recitation of “Dayenu” can grow “stale” over time. There are some who even march around the table carrying a sack of cloths as if they left Egypt. All these props are childish but loads of fun and carry much great memories.  Nevertheless, is it enough to keep the interest?  Life is such that kids grow up, Teens grow up and need more sophisticated stimulation. They start asking serious question.  What do we do then? This is implicit in the questions raised in the section of the Hagadah devoted to the four sons. Their basic question is: “What is the relevance of this long-ago event to me?” And this has remained the basic question in all of Jewish life throughout the ages.z
The enormous number of Jews who are completely disconnected from their faith and their people, from their homeland of Israel and from the values and observances of Torah, testifies to the intensity of the difficulty posed by this question. They say “If the Exodus from Egypt does not speak to me, then the rest of Judaism is pretty immaterial to me as well.”
 Perhaps, one can take a look at some cues in the Hagadah where one can seek a valuable lesson and the answer to that age old question of “What’s the relevance!?”
As we begin the Maggid – the telling over of the story of our history section of the Seder, we recite the very peculiar paragraph of Halach Ma’anya. Although it is a unique moment for every individual sitting at the Seder who each actually have their own turn to simultaneously say the proclamation and to physically hold the Matzahs, surprisingly enough, the recitation is not in Hebrew. Why do we recite it in Aramaic? It is a language no one understands!!
Secondly, one of the messages in the short paragraph is that we invite whoever is hungry to come and eat – “kol dichfin yesei v’yeichol”, and whoever requires a place to eat Korban Pesach to come and partake – “kol ditzrich yesei v’yifsach”. So, aside from the language issue, this invitation is not only presented at the wrong time, for Kiddush has already been recited and the meal has already begun, but it’s in the wrong place as well, for it is issued in the privacy of our own homes. If we want to invite people, perhaps we should recite the proclamation out on the street and catch some of the passersby where then we’ll invite them in. Furthermore, to partake in the Korban Pesach one had to be a member of the group from the time the Korban was slaughtered earlier in the day. What purpose do this invitation serve?
One of the conversations which we discuss at the start is about the individual “Lavan HaArami” the brother and no-goodnik of our sacred matriarch Rivka. Why start with him, out of all people, when we have some of the most colorful characters in history in our past? Purim was just a few weeks ago. Let’s use Haman instead!
The Torah describes Lavan as a “ramai” – trickster.” The entire region was known for this quality; the Hebrew letters of the word “Aram” when rearranged spell the Hebrew word “ramai”. A ramai is not the same as a “ganav” – “thief”. A thief maintains no pretenses that his actions are in the victim’s best interest. A ramai is a confidence man, possessing the ability to deceive the victim into believing that he is gaining from the actions of the ramai. It is only later that the victim realizes that he has been victimized. The ability to perpetrate such a crime requires the ramai to know exactly what the victim is thinking, to see the victim’s perspective. He has to be an expert on human psychology. It’s a sensitivity issue that the ramai has to proficient in.  This quality of sensitivity can be utilized in a positive manner. The greatest “chesed” – “acts of kindness” are performed by an individual who is sensitive to the needs of the recipient.
One of our forefather Avraham, the first Jew, greatest achievements is when he hosted the three angels. It was tremendous feat of kindness. It just so happens that the pinnacle of chesed incident, the “hosting the three angels” occurred on Pesach. Interestingly, a year later on the very day of Pesach G-d destroyed the city of S’dom and Amora (Sodom and Gomorra to use the English names for them). These two cities represented the antithesis of chesed.
A Jew essence is built on the philosophy of chesed this was passed down from Avraham. The importance of the virtue of kindness is immeasurable. We find that our Patriarch Avraham made it his number one priority by sending his trusted servant Eliezer to find his beloved son a wife.  The prime directive is that she should possess is the quality of chesed.
Incredibly, with the negative environment surrounding her it seemed miraculous that Rivka emerged as quintessence fit for Avraham’s family of chesed and for his heir apparent, his son Yitzchak.
How can that happen? How did Avraham know that a treasure lies among the swamps? The mainstream commentary, Rashi, sites that the Torah in its repetition of where Rivka came from praises her by noting that although she had been brought up in such adverse surroundings, she was not influenced by the actions of the wicked. Generally, Rashi’s comment is understood to mean that in spite of her environment she was able to maintain her righteousness. Analyzing the Midrash we see however that this cannot be the entire meaning of the message, for the Midrash from which Rashi derives his comment cites the verse in King Shlomo’s Shir Hashirim to describe Rivka’s qualities “kashoshana bein hachochim” – “like a rose among the thorns.” If the intent of the Midrash is to point out that Rivka retained her righteousness in the face of adversity, then the thorns would represent the adversity. This analogy is difficult for the rose does not thrive in spite of the thorns, rather because of the thorns that protect it and allow it to thrive. What then is the message of the verse?
Sensitivity is an important trait in elevating ourselves in developing relations with G-d and our fellow man. The greatest “chesed” – “acts of kindness” are performed by an individual who is sensitive to the needs of the recipient. Although Aram was notorious for their trickery, Avraham wanted a wife for Yitzchak who would possess this same sensitivity that a Lavan uses for his trickery, when performing kindness. It was this genetic quality that Avraham wanted to infuse into Klal Yisroel, and it was this quality that Eliezer was looking for when testing Rivka. This is the message of the Midrash; the thorns reflect the quality of the “ramai” by which Rivka was surrounded, but which enabled her to achieve the great levels of chesed of which only she was able. She had the gift of sensitivity as did her brother. However she used it for kindness and good while her brother used it for trickery and evil.
Many of us are proud to host guest on Shabbat and Holidays. We have to understand that a guest or for that matter a family member is very special on Pesach, for the objective is to perform for them a mitzvah of the highest level, which is the section in the Seder called “Maggid”.  The Pesach Seder is a celebration of our redemption and we are all guests of honor. To prevent the guests from feeling beholden to the “Baal Habayit” (host) which would hinder, and repress their involvement and participation in the evening, we begin the Seder by allowing the guests to invite others. The Talmud states “ein oreyach machnis oreyach” – “a guest is not permitted to invite other guests.” However, a guest of honor has the right to invite whomever he chooses. The message we are relaying to all the participants is they are not merely guests obligated to the homeowner. Rather, they are all guests of honor, celebrating their own redemption. It is imperative that all the guests feel comfortable, for they have to speak freely and engage in the conversations of the evening to fulfill the mitzvah of “Tzipur Yetzias Mitzrayim” – Maggid. In the same vein, the Tosafot Yom Tov had a custom to spill wine on the clean tablecloth so that the guests would feel at ease. The purpose of the invitation is for the guests already assembled, not for those who are absent.
Rashi explains the term “chesed” as an Aramaic word meaning “shame”. However, in Hebrew “chesed” means “kindness”, a term with positive connotations. When a person does chesed he receives fulfillment from the act, while the recipient feels shame. The Hebrew and Aramaic meanings are therefore not contrary, but, in fact, complementary. The Hebrew translation focuses on the perspective of the giver while the Aramaic translation focuses on the perspective of the recipient. By using the Aramaic word “chesed”, the Torah is teaching us that when we do chesed, we should be SENSITIVE to the recipient’s shame. This way, we will do chesed in a manner which will diminish the recipient’s shame. It is therefore appropriate to begin the Seder in Aramaic for this is the language that symbolizes the sensitivity of seeing the perspective of another.
The prime directive is to make the guest or family member feel as comfortable as possible so he’ll have the inner strength to “ask”.  Much of the Seder is designed to sprout those feelings. One of the reasons we drink the four cups of wine is for that very reason. Everyone is born with a certain defense mechanism where he or she has to a certain degree a feeling that makes one self-conscious and unable to act in a relaxed and natural way. We just don’t disclose our deepest and darkest secrets to the world. It’s unbecoming.  Wine, though, has the some element within to relieve ones inhibitions. We, depending how much is consumed, let our guard down when we drink wine. This is the optimal scenario at the Seder night for we are not afraid to ask questions; its designed that way. We have to be pro-active in conversation, speaking of course about Jewish or Torah topics.  All of a sudden, everyone at the Seder is your friend. Wine brings unity. We just have to be careful not to drink a little too much, not to spill the beans. For this reason we are forbidden to drink with non-Jews. We have to realize our place and our commitment to G-d.
Aside from the sensitivity required of the host to give the participants the feeling that they are guests of honor, the very nature of Tzipur Yetzias Mitzrayim – the telling of the story requires seeing the perspective of another. The mitzvah must be performed “derech she’eilah uteshuvah” – “by question and answer”, i.e. the Socratic Method. The only way for such an approach to be effective is if the listener is sensitive to the questions being posed. Very often a person’s only interest is to make heard what he is thinking, and he does not address the question at all. The most important Jewish literary work after the Torah is the Talmud. The Talmud is also presented in the Socratic Method, question and answer. It is therefore most appropriate that the Talmud is written in Aramaic and in the region of Aram for this is the language and region that lends itself to seeing the perspective of others, crucial when attempting to respond to the queries and difficulties which are the basis of the Talmud. In other words, the Seder is all about questions. This is represented by the Four Sons.
So, what do we answer the Four Sons?
Incredibly the Hagadah is out of character answering the Rasha, Wicked Son. It is very negative to him. What happened to super-duper outreach? The Rasha is treated that way because he is negative. He asks a question but he doesn’t seem to seek an answer. Therefore his question is not a question, it’s a statement.  Seemingly, he doesn’t want to listen. Even more so, the Rasha is making fun of it all. The Torah does not want have anything to do with scoffers and distractors. However the other sons are sincere about seeking an answer and should be approached differently.
Our fun ancient traditions, such as the scallions at the recitation of “Dayenu”, the sack on the shoulder, as well as our creative razzle dazzle new props of today, plastic frogs and so forth  are right on the money in answering the question. Granted the Hagadah has the answers describing our illustrious past and describing some of our ancestor’s pain and triumph, however, frankly I’ve been in this business many years and pardon me if I’m a little bold when I say there are more Jews returning to Judaism after spending a Shabbat meal and experiencing the warmth of a family then an intellectual debate whether G-d exist.
We are human and not perfect. You, the host, may not have all the all answers to the questions but it’s irrelevant for the true answer lies with the kindness, warmth and sensitivity. That’s the answer they want to hear.  Then they will hear the Exodus, the Matzah speak to them with all the traditions and all its glory.

What is a woman’s role in Judaism?

This article was constructed with the help of either writings, lectures or shiurim of  Rabbi’s Yissachar Frand, Yossi bilus also contributing Marina Goodman, Esther Matmon and Dr. Abba Goldman
Bnos Malka Academy – girls school located in Queens
Dr. Jessica Jacob is an obstetrician-gynecologist in New Hyde Park, New York and is affiliated with North Shore University Hospital. She received her medical degree from NYU School of Medicine and has been in practice for 31 years. Dr. Jacobs balances marriage, children and grandchidren, successful practice and a very strict orthodox life
Hillary and Bill Clinton stopped by a gas station to fill up their tank for their long journey back to New York. The gas attendant smiled and shmoozed with Hillary as if he knew her from the past.  After leaving, Bill asked Hillary “how do you know him?” Hillary replied “I once dated him”. With a snicker, Bill said to Hillary “you see, picking me was the right choice…..I became a President”.  Hillary countered back “if I would have married him, he would have been a President”.
 It’s a cute joke as a matter of fact, interestingly, the Gemara teaches us that women were born with a BINA YETERA-an extra intelligent sensory, where she can see what men can’t and man needs that. Rav Chaim Volozhin has a beautiful interpretation of the verse EZER K’NEGDO-man’s helper. An expression found pertaining to Eve, who helped man, her husband, Adam, to build the world. However, the literal meaning of K’NEGDO doesn’t mean “helper”, in fact quite the contrary; it could imply “against him”. Rav Chaim is emphatic in his interpretation. She should not be afraid to voice her opinion and on many occasions it very well can be the opposite opinion. A wife is not supposed to be a “yes lady”.   Men are from Mars and women are from Venus and each come to the table with a different perspective of how to achieve the goals set out by the couple.
 We see G-d telling Avraham to listen to his wife Sarah and confront his other son, Yishmael asking him to leave the house because Sarah saw him as a bad influence on her son, Yitzchak. It seemed like Sarah had a greater vision of the situation at hand.
Rivka, Yitchak’s wife, daringly orchestrated that the brachot should be given to the younger son- Yaakov as appose to Eisav. Rivka knew he was the right choice to be the air-apparent.
The question asked is what exactly is the BINA YETERA-an extra intelligent sensory and how do women use it to improve the world?
Dr. Goldman says women are more deeply inspired then men; they are unwilling to switch gears, while men did switch gears by fluctuating between believing in G-d one moment, and turning to Golden Calf the next.
This explains Rabbi Yissachar basis perspective on the verse in this week’s parsha.    After Moshe called the people together and urged them to donate to the Tabernacle, the people started bringing the material. “And the men came upon the women (al haNashim)” [35:22].  The commentary Da’at Zekeinim m’Baale HaTosfot, provides an interesting interpretation. The pasukim [verses] reveal that the donated items were various types of women’s jewelry. The Da’at Zekeinim comments “and nevertheless the women participated and were meticulous to contribute in the Service of Heaven”. The pasuk is teaching us that the men took the women to donate the gold from their jewelry to the Mishkan, thinking that the women would be reluctant to do so. However, in actuality, the women gave willingly. Therefore, the Da’at Zekeinim adds, the women were given a reward that they were excluded from having to do work on Rosh Chodesh. This is a custom cited in Shulchan Aruch, that women do not do work on Rosh Chodesh [The new moon (beginning of a new lunar month)] [Orach Chaim 417:1]. At what point in time did the women receive this holiday? They received this holiday at the time of the building of the Mishkan, when they distinguished themselves through their willing donation of their jewelry to the Service of G-d.
The Da’at Zekeinim explains further that during the incident of the Golden Calf, the men took their wives’ jewelry by force. The women had refused to contribute to the Golden Calf. In contrast, by the building of the Mishkan, the women wanted to donate their jewelry. According to the Medrash, the contrast is even starker. The Medrash records that in relation to the Mishkan, there were in fact many men who were reluctant to give their money, while the women were universally enthusiastic.
The Da’at Zekeinim theorizes that because the Mishkan was erected on Rosh Chodesh Nissan, it was specifically Rosh Chodesh Nissan which was originally given to the women as a work-free festival. The Da’at Zekeinim concludes that the custom to refrain from work on every Rosh Chodesh was a derivative of this original holiday.

What is the significance of Rosh Chodesh that it was seen as a fitting holiday to give to the women?
Rabbi Frand saw a beautiful interpretation in the sefer [book] Shemen Hatov by Rabbi Dov Weinberger, which answers this question. Later in the parsha, the pasuk says, “And he made the Kiyyor of copper and its base of copper from the mirrors of the legions [women] who massed by the entrance of the Tent of Meeting [Shmos 38:8]. There is a beautiful Rash”i here that elaborates: “The women of Israel had used these mirrors when beautifying themselves.”
Rash”i explains why these mirrors were so precious to G-d. When the Jews were enslaved in Egypt, the men gave up hope. They did not want to live with their wives. They did not want to have children. The thought of fathering children who would be born into and live and die in slavery was overwhelmingly depressing. As the Medrash in Shir HaShirim describes, the women went out into the fields and beautified themselves in front of their mirrors and convinced and persuaded their husbands to live with them and to have children. Those mirrors represented Klal Yisroel. Had it not been for those mirrors and that makeup and the beautification efforts of those women, there would not have been a Jewish nation. Consequently, G-d insisted that those precious mirrors did in fact belong in the Mishkan.
We see that those women exhibited the attribute of faith in redemption. When all seemed bleak and full of despair, when no future seemed to exist, when there appeared to be no purpose in having children, the women retained a hope in the future. The women kept the dream of rebirth alive. When the men were feeling down and were ready to give up, it was the women who insisted “We must go on.” When the time to build the Mishkan arrived (according to many Rishonim this was after the sin of the Golden Calf), the men said, “We don’t want a Mishkan”. The Mishkan represented a great descent from spiritual heights for the Jewish people. Had there not been a sin of the Golden Calf, there would have been no need for a Mishkan. The Shechinah [Divine Presence of G-d] would have permeated the entire camp.
There would have been no divisions — such as “The Camp of the Divine Presence”, “The Camp of the Levites”, “The Camp of the Israelites” — within the Jewish people. The entire camp would have been a “Camp of the Divine Presence”. We would have been on such a high spiritual level that G-d would not have had to confine Himself to a single Mishkan [Tabernacle].
But after the sin of the Golden Calf, G-d said that He could no longer dwell among the entire camp. He needed a special place — the Mishkan. Consequently, to the men, the Mishkan represented, not a spiritual height, but spiritual compromise and descent. The men lost their enthusiasm for contributing to the Mishkan. They were reluctant to donate their gold and silver.
The women, however, again prevailed. They came forward enthusiastically saying, “We must go on; do not despair; do not dwell on the negative; there must be a future; there must be rebirth; there must be renaissance”. This is a unique attribute of women! They demonstrated this attribute in Egypt, they demonstrated it by the Golden Calf, and they demonstrated it by the Mishkan, and it says in the Torah that in the merit of righteous women – Moshiach will come with its redemption!
This spirit, our Sages say, is most appropriately rewarded through the festival of Rosh Chodesh. Rosh Chodesh represents rebirth, renaissance, and renewal. “This month for you is the beginning of all months…” [Shmos 12:2]. In a homiletic sense, the word haChodesh (this month) is related to haChidush (this renewal). The moon drifts further and further away from the sun, becoming smaller and smaller, until we think it has disappeared. And yet, it comes back, renewed and refreshed. Our righteous women symbolize this power of renewal in the Jewish people. Therefore, it was only right that the women be given Rosh Chodesh as their own private holiday.

One can take this concept further; the whole physiological make up of a woman is based on renewal. Their monthly cycle is testimonial to this. At a certain time of the month they are able to mimic G-d and create. When opportunity is missed, the body rejuvenates itself and they try again. This power to create was not trusted upon men; it was the women that have the power physically and in all the other aspects that comes with it.


Lubavich headquarters gathering of women teachers all over the world
Women were given the privilege of being the makers of Jewish homes. The Hebrew word for “homemaker” is “akeret habayit”.
“Akeret” is the feminine version of “ikar”, which is the “central aspect”, or “the essence of something”. “Bayit” usually means “house” or “home.” The Temple that stood in Jerusalem was called the “Beit HaMikdash”, “beit” meaning “house of” and “hamikdash” literally meaning “holiness”. Often, it is referred to simply as “HaBayit,” “the House”. Thus, in Hebrew the same word is used for both a “home” and “the Holy Temple”. In fact, the purpose of a “home” is to be a “mikdash me’at,” a “miniature sanctuary”.

For an akeret habayit, there is no contradiction between valuing her central position in the home and developing her interests outside of it. A traditional Jewish woman who works outside the home considers herself every bit an akeret habayit as a woman who stays home. There is no “housewife” versus “career woman” dichotomy… In “Eishet Chayil,” the prayer that is recited at theFriday night Shabbat table-the ideal woman is described as an expert businesswoman.

Over thousands of years, girls were educated at home, by their mothers. However, the western world proved to be difficult to maintain the spiritually enthusiastic Eshet chail. It wasn’t until Sarah Schenirer, who was a pioneer of Jewish education for girls. In 1917 establishing the Beis Yaakov school network in Poland. She saw girls being uneducated in basic Torah knowledge to an extent that they desecrated the Sabbath. Schenirer started to give classes in her workshop (she was a seamstress).  The main goal of the schools was “to train Jewish daughters so that they will serve the Lord with all their might and with all their hearts; so that they will fulfill the commandments of the Torah with sincere enthusiasm”.

How important it is for a Jewish girl today to have a strong Torah education. If today’s women only knew the important role they have in maintaining the Jewish home, if they only knew their lone role to renew, to reinvigorate hope, they would approach life with a strong vigor. Rosh Chodesh is the Jewish woman’s holiday; it’s a time for her to celebrate the unique qualities she has, the unique qualities in maintaining the bait-house of G-d and raise banners by giving it over to the future generations by properly raising children in Torah environment who will continue the strong chain of our nation to continue to serve G-d and thus merit even more of G-d’s love and protection!

Parshat Toldot

First Portion
*BEWARE OF THE CYNICS! GOTTA STAY AWAY FROM THOSE PEOPLE!! We learn an important lesson in the first line of the parsha. It says (25:19)” Yitzchak was the son of Avraham”. Then it says “Avraham gave birth to Yitzchak”. G-d goes out of his way to confirm that Yitzchak was indeed the son of Avraham. People might think that he was the son of King Avimelech. For so many years Avraham and Sarah lived together and were not able to produce children. Apparently, right after the incident where Sarah was secluded for some time with the King, she became pregnant. But it was really Avraham who fathered Yitzchak. One of the biggest miracles that occurred when G-d granted Avraham and Sarah a child was that Yitzchak was a spitting image of Avraham, in order to shut down any minuscule possibility that Yitzchak was not his son. G-d went out of his way not to diminish the miracle. The importance of maintaining KIDDUSH HASHEM exalting G-d name and what Judaism stands for is of the utmost importance. Perhaps, we have to maintain the decorum required for that high slandered of spirituality. However one idiotic sarcastic comment by some clown can ruin and compromise the biggest miracle. Unfortunately we are susceptible to believing the cynics. This kind of stuff sticks. Therefore we have to do whatever we can to preserve our religion.
* The Sages say, Yitzchak and Rivka prayed to have children. However, it was Yitzchak’s prayers that G-d heard resulting in Rivka’s pregnancy. Rashi explains, the reason is that Yitzchak was a tzadik ben tzadik, righteous the son of righteous, while Rivka was tzadeket bat rasha, righteous the daughter of wicked. The Taz asks, wait just one minute fellow!! Haven’t we learned that if someone comes from a secular background and becomes observant, G-d listens to their prayers wholeheartedly, more so then one who has been religious all his life? Apparently, Yitzchak’s biggest virtue was the intensity of his prayer. For this reason Rivka, when she first laid her eyes on Yitzchak, (he was in the middle of prayer) she fell off her camel out of awe and fear. She had never experienced someone pray like that.
* From the first moment of contact with Yitzchak, the tone of the relationship was set. It was much different then the open heart dialogue relationship of his parents Avraham and Sarah. In fact when Rivka inquired why she was in such great pain, because of the pregnancy, she did not go to her husband. She went to an outside kabalist whose name was Malki Tzedek, even though her husband was considered just as holy. Malki Tzedek informed her there are two great nations in her stomach. She never informed her husband of her consulting with the great Rabbi nor did she inform Yitzchak of what he said.
* Since Rivka complained of her pain from her pregnancy, she did not merit to be the mother of the twelve tribes in which she was destined to have.
*Yaakov and Eisav are the definition of good and evil. According to the Zohar, they were both born in order to bring the world to the level of the messianic time. Yaakov was to take the good in this world and elevate it to the highest level. Eisav was an ISH TZAYID, a hunter, who used trickery, to capture its prey. He was to influence people through being a fine actor and capture their heart back to G-d. But Eisav did not reach the standard that was set up for him, so Yaakov was assigned both tasks.
Second Portion
*There was a famine in the land resulting in Yitzchak and Rivka moving to Grar, the land of the Pilishtim. Yitzchak actually wanted to go down to Egypt, however G-d refused saying: “you will not leave the land of Israel”.
* It seems like our forefathers had great taste in picking good wives because this is the third time the narratives tells us that our fathers and mothers traveled out because of the famine and our mothers were forced to see the king. They were saved by G-d, unharmed. Personally I have this lingering question for years on the three peat of the similar occurrence. An email response with an answer would be greatly appreciated.
Third Portion & Fourth Portion
* The Pelishtim wanted to kill Yitzchak because he was penniless and poor when he arrived to their land. Then after he became financially successful, they still wanted to kill him. Many commentaries say this was an indication of anti-Semitism. When King Avimelech comes to him and asks that they sign a new treaty, or to re-affirm the one made with his father Avraham, Yitzchak rebukes him and says “You hate me why do you come to me? Avimelech response is one that we have heard through the course of history: “We have done you nothing but good, and we sent you away in peace”. He wants Yitzchak to appreciate the fact that he was not sent to a concentration camp, but was allowed to leave the country after his wells and his land was confiscated (Nachshoni).
Fifth Portion
* The fact that Avimelech came to Yitzchak after all he had done to him and requested a treaty, is somewhat surprising According to the Ramban, his conscience bothered him because he had violated the treaty he made with Avraham and he was afraid Yitzchak’s descendants will expel his descendants in the future.
* We see another incident where there is a difference between husband and wife. Rivka secretly intervenes in giving the bracha to the Yaakov, who was deserving of it.
* We see that in order for a blessing to take place, the person giving the bracha has to be satisfied both emotionally and physically. Yitzchak asks Eisav, “hunt and prepare me a meal that I like, then I will bless you. Then and only then will the bracha take effect.
* Eisav was delayed in capturing an animal for his father because he did not go with his coat. He has this coat from wining a battle against Nimrod. This was Adam’s coat (first man). It had a special devise were animals would gravitate to and then they would be easy prey. Rivka gave this coat to Yaakov to wear so that Yitzchak would not know the difference.
* HAKOL KOL YAACOV the voice sounds like Yaakov. Many commentaries say that a Jew’s power is in his mouth, while the gentile nation have physical power. Perhaps this is the reason Jewish accountants and lawyers are not known for their physical beauty.
* When Yitzchak smelled Yaakov, Rashi comments that he smelled an apple tree from Gan Eden and he Knew he’s giving the bracha to the right son. This kindness that G-d did with Yaakov is reiterated on Rosh Hashana by dipping Apples in honey.
Sixth Portion
* As long as Yaakov’s descendants follow the ways of G-d they will prevail over Eisav descendants. However if they do not follow in that path then Eisav will prevail and inflict pain onto Yaakov.
*”Yitzchak trembled” when he realized that he could have given the bracha to the wrong son. Another opinion says that after Yaakov leaves, Eisav comes in and lets out a shout, letting Yitzchak realize that he really gave the bracha to Yaakov. He realizes that Hashem has a master plan and that it was done for the best. “Yitzchak trembles” because of the thought that he might have accidentally ruined that plan by giving the bracha to Eisav. That is why Yitzchak says shortly after that Yaakov should keep the bracha and be blessed.
Seventh Portion
*The stage is set for Yaakov to find a wife.

The Intensity of Prayer

   The great Avraham, our forefather, was extremely charismatic and one whose kindness to others was widely known. He was labeled G-d’s servant. He had a son, Yitzchak, who, like his father, had a very hard time having kids. The Torah describes Yitzchak praying in one corner and his wife Rivka praying in the other corner. We read in the Torah “G-d answered him”. Rashi, who is one of the main commentaries on the Torah, asks why was Yitzchak’s prayers answered over Rivka’s? He answers, Yitzchak is a tzadik the son of a tzadik while Rivka is a tzadaket the daughter of a rasha.

The Taz, who was one of the leading lawmakers, concludes from the above passage that if there are two people who want to go up to the bima to be a chazzan, (one who leads the prayer), one comes from a good family background, while the other fellow comes from a not-so-good family background. Even though they are both shomer mitzvot, religious (Shabbat observant), equal in good character, nevertheless because the father of one of them is non-observant, the tzadik ben tzadik is picked. This is the understanding we derive from Rashi.

“However”, the Taz continues “I don’t hold that way. We know, it’s common knowledge.” A person who is a Ba’al Teshuva – a person who becomes observant (keeping Shabbat, Kosher, etc.) is on a higher level than the FFB – frum (religious) from birth. The reason is because it’s harder for him to keep Shabbat and not turn on the lights or turn on the TV and watch a ballgame because he’s accustomed to it. It’s probably difficult to give up the non-kosher food, as well. To break away from those pleasures takes a lot of courage. G-d is well aware of the challenges the BT has and is overcoming . He therefore, puts him and his prayers above the rest. For a FFB, to turn on the TV on Shabbat is not even on the radar gun. He was trained since childhood not to turn on the lights on Shabbat.


This argument is divided among the Sages throughout the generations.


Let’s examine briefly the power of prayer:


There was a study taken and published in the New York Times a number of years ago, that people who pray regularly are less likely to get depressed. They are more motivated to do everyday life activities; they’re psychologically uplifted. So it seems like prayer is a tool to increase energy. Does prayer really work? Can it change destiny?


We see from the most important part of our history that prayer had an enormous impact. We were slaves in Egypt and destined to be there for four hundred years. “G-d heard their moaning.” As a result of hearing their prayer, their anguish, G-d let them out after only 210 years.


What happens when one prays for a sick person and he dies?


The hardest thing for a human to realize is that the last word is G-d’s. It’s His world, not ours.


The Chovot Halevavot says the very act of prayer elevates and transforms us where we are no longer the same individual we were before. So if there is a heavenly decree against a person, it could very well be annulled through prayer. Since he has been transformed through prayer, he is no longer the same person against whom the original decree has been issued. This is what Moshe tried to do in this week’s Parsha; however again, the last word is G-d’s.


Rabbi Bunim was once asked, how can a person who does not wear Tefillin, desecrates the Shabbat, and eats non-kosher, be wealthy, and generally successful? He answered, this is the curse of the snake who is cursed more than all the cattle and beast. “On your stomach, you shall go and eat dust all the days of your life.” We know dust is not tasty, but plentiful; it’s always accessible. Seemingly, G-d blessed the snake and did not curse him. However, a human has to work by the sweat of his brow and have childbirth pains; now that’s punishment.


The predicament means it forces him to pray, bond, and get close to G-d. In fact, it’s a big sin when man is in a crisis and doesn’t pray to his maker. The snake, who is provided all its necessities, has no connection with G-d and does not need to communicate. This is the biggest curse anyone can receive.


After agreeing to marry Yitzchak, and as she was being escorted to the house of Avraham, the scripture says “She saw Yitzchak for the very first time and she fell off the camel.” Rashi commented he was praying Mincha. R’ Eli Mansour quotes the Netziv of Veloshin who says, “She was awed at the intensity of him praying.” From that moment on, she developed a fear of  her husband, Yitzchak, that remained for the rest of her life. A fear that stemmed from the intensity of prayer; that through this prayer they got their children, Yaacov and Eisav.


So perhaps, it’s not the background of a person – but the individual – who can make a difference.
Shiurim by Rabbi Oelbaum