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Dear  Naaleh Friend,
 
This week we have featured our Torah class, Parshat Yitro: The Origin of Yitro's Soul by Rabbi Hershel Reichman from the Naaleh series Chassidut on the Parsha 5769 In this shiur, Rabbi Reichman explains the significance of the various names of Yitro, Moshe Rabbeinu's father in law. The names of Yitro teach us important elements of his spiritual makeup which affected Moshe and the entire Jewish People.
 

To watch this class now and learn more please click on the image below: 
 
 
This week's edition of our Torat Imecha Newsletter on Parshat Yitro is available on our Newsletter page Click here for the printer friendly version, to share at your Shabbat table! Be sure to visit the homepage as well, for many more inspiring Torah classes! 
 
Shabbat Shalom!

-Ashley Klapper and the Naaleh Crew
Altar Accentuation 
Based on Naaleh.com shiur by Mrs. Shira Smiles  

Bnei Yisroel
have just received the Ten Commandments and experienced God's presence. While still on this spiritual high, Hashem gives them instructions how to build an altar that will maintain this connection as they bring Him their offerings. Among the specifications are that it be an altar connected to the earth, and that one not hew the stones to build it with a sword. Further, one must build a ramp rather than a staircase to ascend "so that your nakedness will not be uncovered upon it." How did these specific instructions aid in achieving the goal of maintaining an intimate relationship with Hashem?
The  Toras Emes  explains that just as the Jews saw that the Torah itself came from Heaven, so must they realize that everything they have, material possessions as well as spiritual gifts, comes from Heaven and is not a result of personal strength. If you realize this, says the  Lashon Chasidim , you will not approach the altar, your prayers, arrogantly. You will refrain from "high stepping," for that would reveal your "nakedness," your shortcomings and spiritual failings.
           
The  Sifsei Chaim  explains that the purpose of our constant prayers is for our benefit, to help us maintain a constant awareness of Hashem's benevolence and constant gifts to us. In fact, the first request in the  Amidah is for wisdom and insight, for even these are gifts from Hashem with which we can understand this basic tenet of Judaism and feel the appropriateness of asking for Hashem's help when we cannot find our way on our own. By acknowledging that everything comes from Hashem, says R. Feuer, we become worthy of having the dominion over creation that Hashem entrusted to Adam, for we affirm that we are just His emissaries. We may also then use His gifts, His food, His materials for our personal benefit. In effect, every moment of our lives becomes a reenactment of the Sinai experience as we internalize the truth that nothing exists save Hashem Himself. But, warns  Vayovenu Bamikrah , as we reexperience Sinai, we must remember that we did not ascend to Hashem; rather, He came down to us. He wants our humility, not the symbolic sword in our own hands to build our altar to Him.
 
Rashi  explains that we must be sensitive even to the appearance of causing shame or embarrassment to the altar which is why a ramp was built. How much more so must we be careful not to embarrass a human being created in God's image. Rav Belsky points out that we "honor" the stones of the altar because they serve a holy purpose. So too each Jew was endowed with a holy spark of the Divine. This in itself is worthy of true honor. When we respect another human being, he senses it and mirrors it back and lets it refract outwardly in all directions as well, thereby forming a network of deep love of one human being for another. Further, continues Rav Pam, each person has a God given purpose in this world, even if we are unaware of that purpose. It begins with respect for the inanimate rock and grows from there to encompass all of creation, culminating in respect for all mankind. This respect for individuals and for society, writes Rabbi Friefeld, is a fundamental precept in the Torah, engendering many laws in the  Shulchan   Aruch . If you want to keep the Sinai experience alive, you must remain a "mentch" in your dealings with the world around you, from the  sefer  you put back on the bookshelf, to the food you do not waste, to your neighbor who deserves a sincere good morning greeting. As human beings, we crave respect and validation. Glide smoothly on a ramp in your interactions with others rather than being one step up on them.
 
The Mizkeinim Esbonen ,  quoting the Midrash, offers a homiletic interpretation of the ramp. He refers back to the ladder of Jacob's dream. The incline of the ladder is similar to that of a ramp. The bottom was planted on earth and its head reached to the heavens. This ladder symbolized the beit hamikdash . Each of us occupies our individual rung of the ladder as we ascend spiritually. Because of the incline, there is no one directly above us whose great accomplishments might discourage us from climbing higher. Nor is there anyone directly below us who will cause us to become arrogant. We must recognize that we each have our own place and our own journey.
 
If we are to keep climbing toward an ever stronger relationship with Hashem, to strengthen the bond first formed at Sinai, says Rav Pam, we must respect ourselves for the image of Hashem stamped upon us, and recognize this likeness in our fellow man and in all of creation.
The Turning Point in Egypt Part 3  
Based on Naaleh.com shiur by Rebbetzin Leah Kohn 
 
After Adam was expelled from Gan Eden, many of his descendants chose not to recognize Hashem to the extent that it was necessary to create a nation that would bring the world to know Him. The process began with Avraham and ended with the formation of the nation at the giving of the Torah. As part of the process, what Hashem did in Egypt was a reverse story of creation. While during creation, Hashem hid himself in ten stages, in Egypt Hashem revealed himself. The ten sayings of creation correspond to the ten plagues. Every saying further hid Hashem enabling another mistake. Hashem now needed to show how to overcome these mistakes, that they are only an illusion and do not express reality the way it was meant to be. If you put on ten blankets and now want to take it off, the last blanket you put on will be the first one off. It follows that the last saying will correspond to the first plague, the ninth saying to the second plague and so on.
 
Let us examine the plague of locusts and how it relates to the second saying. The word arbeh ( locusts) comes from the root word ribui ( many). The problem with locusts is that they are so many that they eat everything up. This corresponds to the saying on the second day, "Let there be a firmament." The first day of creation is called yom echad which is different than the way the other days in creation are referred to in the Torah. Rashi explains that on this day Hashem was one. There was no creation formed yet. On the second day Hashem took the bodies of water that filled the world and divided it into upper waters and lower waters. We exist in that space between heaven and earth. The concept of many begins with two. Arbeh and the second day and the division of heaven and earth in two bodies all stem from the same idea. When there's one you cannot differentiate. When you divide into two, there's the idea of havdala, of one being different than the other. On the first day it was clear that Hashem runs the world. The moment two came into existence, there was room for mistake. You could speak about one without the other and conjecture that creation is not the source of One Being. When we look at the world we may not see Hashem. One can logically claim that natures runs by cause and effect. The fact that there are many gives people some kind of superficial concept of existence. Hashem created the world in this way intentionally in order that we might find Him through our own efforts, that we might see the power beyond the veil of nature that is the cohesive force that's holds everything together. Differentiation requires understanding. When Hashem brought the plague of locusts it opened up the eyes of the people to see that although there are many, Hashem is behind it all.
 
Ribbis Part I 
Based on Naaleh.com shiur by Dayan Shlomo Cohen

Jewish owned banks usually do a general heter iska every year stating that their interest bearing transactions will be done with a heter iska . This allows one to put money in the bank which then earns interest or take a loan for investment. What if one borrows money from the bank by going into overdraft? The money is being spent daily to buy food and other necesseties. How can one pay interest on money that is not being invested? Some people are careful not to go into overdraft but the general custom is to rely on the heter iska . Although it can be problematic one could say I have other investment opportunities like a house or pension plan. I'm giving the bank a share in my profits and losses.
 
A serious problem can arise with a heter iska if everyone knows that the borrower lost his money. In general, it's impossible for the lender to know this clearly. He cannot know all the business activity the borrower conducted. Despite that, there can be cases where you do know. It cannot be said that a heter iska is free of risk and many batei din will not let the lender take a percentage from the borrower if there was a known loss.
 
The Chasam Sofer tells us in a responsa how he would arrange a heter iska . He would sit down with the two parties, explain what would be done and write on the bottom of the contract, "This contract has been made according to the laws of heter iska as discussed between the two parties." As long as there's a verbal agreement between the two sides that the loan was given according to the conditions of the heter iska it is halachically valid. However there is the risk that one can later deny this heter iska . Therefore it is good to have witnesses and a written contract. It is enough to include a general statement, "This loan has been arranged according to the conditions of heter iska ." Some business owners will place a sign in their store, "All who do business with us are doing so according to the conditions of a heter iska ." It's best if the parties involved understand what a heter iska is but as long as they realize it is solving the problem of interest according to halacha it's enough. Even if they don't know that, as long as they agree and sign the heter iska contract, they are obligated by its conditions as it is a legal document.
 
Featured Classes
Parshat Yitro: Arrival Accentuation
 Mrs. Shira Smiles
Speaking With Integrity
Rabbi Hanoch Teller
Parshat Yitro: Altar Analysis
Mrs. Chana Prero
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