Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Parshas Toldos - Yitzchok in Gerar, Eretz Pelishtim - Isn't that Gush Katif?


This post comes from my evening Chavrusa with my 7 year old son. We read Little Midrash Says on the Parsha of the Week. There was a famine in the Land of Israel. Yitzchok wanted to go to Mitzraim like his father had done but Hashem says not to. Yitzchok has a special Kedusha because of the Akeida he was an Olah Temima (Rashi) and can not leave Eretz Yisroel. Hashem reiterates to Yitzchok the covenant that he gave to Avraham Aveinu after the Akeida and again reiterates that the gift of the Land is attributed to Avraham's loyalty in obeying the word of Hashem. He is sent to Gerar which I believe is Gush Katif. Therefore it must be part of Eretz Yisroel. The Parsha discusses how Avimelech realizes that indeed Yitchok is married to Rivka and restrains himself from taking Rivka knowing from the former Avimelech's experience what the consequences of such an action would be. He puts forth a warning for all not to do anything to hurt Yitzchok and Rivka or else they will die. Yitzcok plants and is blessed hundred fold. Rashi says he was scrupulous in keeping meticulous records in order to tithe properly (Maaser). Yitzchok digs wells in the valley of Gerrar that were originally built by his father Avraham and were closed up (Breishis Perek 26 Pasuk 18). The were fights between the shepherds of Yitzchok and the Pelishtim over the wells. Yitzchok's servents dug and the Pelishtim stole it. The wells dried up for the Pelishtim. The Pelishtim gave it back to Yitzchok. Here we see a foreshadowing of future history. In Avraham's time, wells that were built were closed up. Wells Yitzchok built were stolen, again to be given back to their rightful owner. The wells didn't produce for the Pelishtim and they were useless. They only produced for Yitzchok.

Here, once again the Torah is very explicit in tying the gift of the Land with Avarham's loyalty in obeying the word of Hashem. Perek 26 Pasuck 5. "Because Abraham obeyed my voice, observed my safeguards, my commandments, my decrees, My Torah's".

May Hashem give us the courage and fotitude to follow in the footsteps of our forefathers to keep the Mitzvoth of the Torah so that we too will merit al the blessings.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

My daugther's Bat Mitzvah

This Blog is primarily about a personal connection with the Mitzvah of Shemittah. Posts here may seem irrevelant to the Mitzvah of Shemittah. They are not. At the end of the post I will try to tie in the connection.


On Sunday was my daughter's Bat Mitzva. It was in Prospect Park yeshiva and there were around 100 women and girls of all ages. The Bat Mitzvah was in solidarity with the people of Gush Katif. There was the usual singing, dancing and fun but there was also solidarity with the people of Gush Katif.The girls really got into writing letters and including 99Cent items in their packages to Gush Katif. You can see the intensity in their expressions and their understanding that this chesed is real. They really wanted those girls from Gush Katif to in some way know them that they care. They won tickets from dancing etc and with their tickets they bought prizes which they could keep or send to the people of Gush Katif. It was l'ilui Nishmas my Father z"l Yosef Zeev ben Moshe who in his lifetimes had many startovers. His first family was wiped out in the Holocaust. He remarried my Mother and had us. He tried various businesses until he became a zipper manufacturer. At age 65 he liquidated because selling the business wasn't an option because of the competition from the East. He started a the bottom this time as an employee and worked his way up. 15 years later at the age of 80 he suffered a stroke and once again, started over with OT and PT his new job. He relearned to walk and do steps and went to shul twice a day and wrote Tzedaka checks as well as bookkeeping. For 8 years he was productive in this way. His last year it was downhill but he really gave it all he had. The Bat Mitzva was also Li'lui my mother-in-law who was 15 years old at the time Nazi Germany took over Poland and was in the Warsaw Ghetto and Concentrations camps for 4 years at least. She too started over always with a love of life and full of hope.

I rewatch the TV video of the expulsion of Neve Dekalim and I cry. "Al Tastir Paneicha Mimeni". We pray that once again we will be zocheh that Hashem will shine his face upon us and we will be saved. - Vehair Panecha venivashea" as we say after lichtbenching.

Connection to Shemittah: The expulsion of Gush Katif resulted in the destruction of personal property. People lost their material possessions. Now everyone is in the process of sharing their wealth. The shemittah year is a year when ownership of produce in the field is shared by all.(shemitas karka). We are asked to give poor people whatever they need and they don't have to pay back. (shemittas kesafim). The girls at the Bat Mitzvah shared what they had.