Parashat Tetzaveh 5768

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10 Feb 2008

Parashat Tetzaveh 5768

Parashat Tetzaveh: Where are the Vessels of the Beit Ha-Mikdash (Temple) Today?

We do not know exactly where. Some say that they are in the Vatican, other say in other places, but the truth is that they are buried somewhere under the Temple Mount. King Shlomo dug tunnels under the Temple Mount, because he knew through his Divine Spirit that the Beit HaMikdash would be destroyed.

[Commentary to the Book of Esther, pp. 23-24]

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“Who wants to live?”

Would you like a magic potion to live a good, long life? Would you like to add ten years to your life, and increase your quality of life? It’s very simple! Just strengthen the marvelous machine that G-d gave us in His kindness – the body! Obviously, the main thing is the soul, but you need a healthy soul in a healthy body. Besides proper nutrition, one of the prerequisites to achieving health is physical activity. If you are a farmer or a physical laborer, then thank G-d, you are active all day. Otherwise, your body can deteriorate. As our great master, Rambam, writes: “Another major principle of health is this: As long as a person toils and greatly exerts himself… he won’t get sick, and he will get stronger… Yet whoever leads a sedentary life and doesn’t toil… will suffer pain and weakness all his life” (Hilchot De’ot 4:14-15). He further writes: “If someone treated himself the way he treats the beast on which he rides, he would be saved from many pernicious illnesses. This is because you’ll never see anyone over-feed his beast. Rather, he rations its intake so that it never unthinkingly overeats. People likewise make sure that their animal moves around and toils so that it remains healthy and never gets sick. Yet they don’t do the same for themselves. They pay no mind to physical exercise which is the most important element for maintaining good health and in pushing off most illnesses” (Rambam, Medical Writings, Zissman Montner Edition I, page 32).

See the circular of the Director General of the Health Ministry (29 Nissan, 5765) which calls for physical activity and enlists findings from the World Health Organization, stating that a lack of physical activity leads to mortality and illness: Heart attacks; cancer; diabetes; high blood pressure; obesity; etc. Physical activity also decreases stress and depression, prevents tiredness, increases work productivity, improves mental functioning and slows aging.

To summarize: Physical activity adds an average of ten years to one’s life.

It is written about Hezekiah, King of Yehudah, that he repented, and then G-d added fifteen years to his life (Melachin 2 20; see Yevamot 50a). You should repent as well. Obviously, repentance is a spiritual matter, yet there is also “natural, physical repentance”, as our master, Rav Kook, taught us regarding “sins against the laws of nature.” He writes, “All improper behavior leads to sickness and pain. Individuals and societies suffer greatly from this…in terms of their sins that destroy their bodies and sap their strength.” (Orot Ha-Teshuvah, Chapter 1).

So please! Engage seriously in your favorite physical activity: Aerobic activities that exercise the heart, blood and lungs; running; running in place; fast walking; swimming; bicycle riding; exercise; ball games; dance; etc… It’s important! It’s essential! Rabbi Eliezer Papo warns in his sefer “Pele Yoetz” about “self-love”. Are there people who do not love themselves? Unfortunately there are, due to the “insane spirit” that possesses them, making them “knowingly destroy themselves,” ruining their bodies. Therefore, “whoever has a brain in his head should consider well that a person should love himself, body and soul.” He should “love his body more than his wealth”, and he should “be benevolent to his body and show kindness to his spirit”.

Some say that one should devote between at least 15 minutes and a half hour to physical activity. Some say it should be twice a week, others say three times, or even daily. The more the better, be it an hour or more.

One might say: “It’s bittul Torah – Time that could be spent learning Torah!” Yet is sleeping not bittul Torah? Yet it’s essential, and this is too. Moreover, you’ll get that time back, with high interest, and years will be added to your life, as well as quality of life. You’ll better be able to withstand physical stress, numerous illnesses and psychological pressure. Furthermore, this is itself Torah. Surely Rambam classifies good practices as fulfillment of a mitzvah: “Follow in His pathways” (Devarim 28:9; see Hilchot De’ot 1:5). This includes preserving one’s health (ibid. 4:1).

Obviously, one must do only as much as one needs, and not exaggerate. We certainly are not talking about watching professional sports, which is a big waste of time. Rather, we are talking about the exercise people do themselves: Men and women, boys and girls, young and old.

You will certainly say, “But I am middle-aged…I am old…How can I start now?…Isn’t it dangerous?” Indeed, exaggerated activity is dangerous. One must ask his physician and acquire instructional brochures from a health expert. Certainly one must work gradually as well, moving from the easy to the hard, and slowly increase the difficulty. One must also drink water during the activity. One should also take advantage of every opportunity to work his body: One shouldn’t use an elevator but should climb stairs. One shouldn’t use transportation if one’s destination isn’t far. One should walk. Park far away, or get off the bus a stop early. You make the effort and G-d will send you a blessing. The Prophet Yeshayahu (Chapter 58) enumerates blessings. Of one of them, Rabbi Eliezer said, “This is the most supreme blessing.” He was referring to 58:11: “Hashem L-rd will make your bones strong” (Yevamot 102b).

[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Parashat Tazria-Metzora 5767]

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Text Message Responsa
Ha-Rav answers hundreds of text message questions a week. Some appear in the parashah sheets “Ma’ayanei Ha-Yeshu’ah” and “Olam Ha-Katan.” Here’s a sample:

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Stories of Rabbenu – Our Rabbi: Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook

If only my children would be in the Land of Israel

A certain Rav explained the line in the Haggadah, “If we received the Torah, but did not enter the Land of Israel – it would have been enough,” that it would have been better for the non-religious pioneers to have remained outside of Israel rather than to commit sins in the Land of Israel. These words caused much consternation and when the students came to class, they told our Rabbi what they had heard. They thought he would discuss this issue at length, but he responded briefly: “See Yalkut Shimoni #1038” and taught the class as usual (The Yalkut Shimoni says: If only my children, my Nation, would be in the Land of Israel, even though they make it impure) (Iturei Cohanim #181).

Our Rabbi and honoring of the State – Part 1

“…Just as one who vilifies the Army of Israel is like one who vilifies the Armies of the Living God (Shmuel 1 17:26), so too one who vilifies the Kingship (the legal ruling authority) of Israel is like one who vilifies the Kingdom of Hashem. This honor may not be waived (Kiddushin 32b). According to the words of our Sages (Jerusalem Talmud, Yevamot chap. 16), even Aviyah, King of Yehudah, was punished by Hashem on account of his vilifying the Kingship in public – in the military campaign against Yerovam ben Navat, King of Israel. And Eliyahu the Prophet acted in an respectful manner – in the midst of his words of harsh rebuke – to Achav, King of Israel, and based on this our Sages established (Menachot 98a) the obligation for all people throughout the generations to act in this manner…” (Le-Netivot Yisrael vol. 2, p. 238 [in the edition of Mei-Avnei Ha-Makom vol. 2, p. 562]).

“From the first verse of the haftorah (of Parashat Pinchas – Melachim 1 18:46), we learn the value of the Kingship of Israel and our relationship to it. ‘And the hand of Hashem was upon Eliyahu, so he girded his loins and ran before Achav until the approach of Yizre’el.’ Our Sages learned from here: ‘The fear of the Kingship should always be upon you’ (Zevachim 102a and Menachot 98a). It is known to us how strained was the relationship between Eliyahu the Prophet and Achav, to the extent that Achav referred to Eliyahu with the term ‘troublemaker of Israel’ (Melachim 1 18:17), and Eliyahu responded: ‘I have not troubled Israel; but you, and your father’s house’ (ibid. 18). Nonetheless, the hand of Hashem was on [Eliyahu] to take him to the King, and [Eliyahu] arranged his clothes and pants in a manner to enable him to run quickly before Achav. Achav was worse than Yerovam ben Navat. Ostensibly, Eliyahu should have purposefully disregarded a horrible and dreadful king like Achav and not come to him. From this, we learn a lesson for all generations regarding the respect due to the Kingship” (Sichot Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah – Bemidbar, p. 390).

Rabbi Yochanan learned from Eliyahu’s relationship with Achav, about whom it was said: “But there was none like Achav, who gave himself over to perform wickedness in the sight of Hashem, because Izevel, his wife, incited him” (Melachim 1 21:25), about the relationship to the Kingship: On the one hand is criticism, even extremely harsh, and on the other hand is granting honor. Our Rabbi acted this way. Our Rabbi spoke at great length about the issue of giving honor to the Kingship, but he did not refrain from sharply criticizing the Government at the required time, regardless of the political spectrum to which it belonged.

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Shut She’eilat Shlomo – Questions of Jewish Law: Dulling of the Heart, Olives and forgetting one’s learning

“Dulling of the heart”

Olives and forgetting one’s learning

a. The Rambam does not include this teaching in Hilchot De’ot (chapter 4) where he lists foods about which one should beware.

b. The Yavetz – Rav Yaakov Emdem, on the bottom of the page, has a slightly different version of the Gemara in which the word “regular” is understood to refer to the olives and that this teaching only applies to fresh olives, but there is no problem if the olives are pickled or cooked. The authorities listed below also mention this distinction.

c. The Magen Avraham (170:19) writes that if one eats olives with proper intention then one actually strengthens his memory. The Aruch Ha-Shulchan (ibid. #15) also quotes this view. What is this proper intention? Various authorities explain that one should have in mind these three Names of Hashem: El, Elohim and Metzapetz which have the same gematria (numerical value) as the word “zayit – olive” (417) (see Bnei Yissachar – Maamrei Kislev-Tevet ma’amar 4 and Sivan ma’amar 15; Ben Ish Chai in Ben Yehoyada at the end of Horayot and Kaf Ha-Chaim to Orach Chaim 157:27 and Yoreh Deah 116:168).

d. Based on the above sources, Ha-Rav Ha-Gaon Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld in Shut Shalmat Chaim (vol. 1 #41) writes that there is no issue with olive oil.

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On Air

Every Tuesday and Thursday night Rav Aviner answers questions of Jewish Law and faith on the radio in Israel. On the Air presents a sample of these answers each week.

“May his name be blotted out” for a Jew

Moving a tree during the Shemittah year

Drinking from cups of the non-observant

Cutting down a tree on which a myriad of birds hang out

Yahrzeit for someone who died during twilight

Cooking non-kosher food for a non-religious Jew

Nursery school teacher reciting blessings for the children

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Special thank you to Fred Casden for editing the Ateret Yerushalayim Parshah Sheet

Ha-Rav Shlomo Aviner is Rosh Yeshiva of Ateret Yerushalayim. All material translated by Rabbi Mordechai Friedfertig. For more Torah:

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.