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This week we celebrated the holiday of Tu B'Shvat and in honor of the holiday we feature Tu B'shvat: Combining Heaven and Earth by Rabbi Hershel Reichman.   In this shiur, Rabbi Hershel Reichman discusses the holiday of Tu B'Shvat. From a Chassidic perspective, this class delves into the spiritual meaning and function of the day. Just as a tree, acts as a conduit between the rain-soaked earth and the blossoming fruit, Man's purpose in this world is to use the word of G-d to galvanize himself to positive action. This class also discusses deep significance of each of the Seven Species that are unique to the Land of Israel.  Click on the image below to view the class now.


This week's edition of our Torat Imecha Newsletter on Parshat Yitro is available on our  Newsletter pageClick 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
For Tehillim list please click here to view our Refuah Shleima page
Parshat Yitro: Riveting Reminders
Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Mrs. Shira Smiles
Summary by Channie Koplowitz Stein

 After hearing about all the miracles Hashem wrought for Bnei Yisroel , Yitro, Moshe's father-in-law, goes to join them. He brings along Moshe's wife and two sons. The Torah mentions the names of the sons and again explains the reasoning behind them: "The name of one was Gershom, for he had said, 'I was a stranger in a strange land,' and the name of one was Eliezer, for 'the God of my father came to my aid and He saved me from the sword of Pharaoh.' " Why are the names and their explanation repeated when we were already told, at least of Gershom almost exactly the same words in Parshat Shemot . Secondly, it would seem that the first son should be called Eliezer, for Moshe was able to flee successfully from Pharaoh after Moshe killed the Egyptian. Only then did he reside as a stranger in Midian. Finally, each is referred to in the Hebrew as "the one", rather than "the one" and "the other". Yet, we are still told that the placement of these verses here is an appropriate introduction to the first of the Ten Commandments
 
Ramban provides a simple explanation. Now, when all the dangers are past, is an appropriate time to thank Hashem for all the good He has done. And now Hashem has informed Moshe that those who wished to kill him were no longer alive. Only now could Moshe feel he was no longer a fugitive. Therefore, naming his first son Gershom and his second son Eliezer is indeed the appropriate order.
 
These names were not just for Moshe's son but a constant reminder of Hashem's help to Bnei Yisroel   writes the  Menachem Zion . Our nation will constantly be strangers in strange lands, but in all our difficulties and challenges we must remember that the "One is my God, the God of my father" Who will always be with me to save me. The  Lekach Tov  cites the Chofetz Chaim z"l and Rabbi Feinstein z'l, that Moshe was living with Yitro in an alien culture. Naming his son Gershom would be a constant reminder to retain their separateness. Only after Moshe saw that he could do so did he feel comfortable thanking Hashem for His help. If he and the Jewish people had become assimilated, we would not have been worthy of salvation. Indeed, this is the message for all of us to maintain our Jewish identity wherever we find ourselves. This was the promise of Hashem to Avraham Avinu, your descendants will be strangers in a strange land but they will never lose their identity, and then I will redeem them writes the Limudei Nissan .
 
This very same message is alluded to in the first of the Ten Commandments, contends the Netivot Shalom.  It's not just that we accept Hashem as our God, but also that we constantly remember that He took us out of Egypt, and that He can take us out of any exile or situation. It is this Utterance that helps us stay focused on anticipating the salvation, and it is this name that Moshe constantly said to himself as a mantra to remember that he is always the  Ivri , the one who is different, the stranger awaiting Hashem's salvation, writes the Birkat Mordechai .
           
The  Siach Yosef notes that one of the 48 aspects through which one can acquire Torah is through truly feeling the pain of another.  Rabbi Wolbe z"l points out that even if you can do nothing substantive to help someone, you can always pray for him. When Moshe was in Midian, he could do nothing for Bnei Yisroel , but through the names he gave his sons, he kept their situation always at the forefront on his consciousness.
 
The  Minchat Michoel  explains that we are all strangers in this world until we reach our final destination in the World to Come. If we remember this, we will not waste our limited time. This is how the  Shlah Hakadosh  interprets the term  am haaretz , someone who is "a man of the land (earth)". He considers himself only of this world, without contemplating the effects his actions have on the future world. In the Ten Utterances Hashem speaks to us in the singular, "I am Hashem your (personal, singular) God Who took you (yourself) out of Egypt." It is the presence of God in our lives that makes our lives in this world meaningful.
 
Moshe named each of his children as an individual. "One was named... and one was named..." Just as Hashem sees the uniqueness of each of us, so did Moshe view his children, writes the  Be'er Moshe . As parents and as teachers, we must also see the uniqueness of each of our children, adds the  Mikdash Halevi .  Each child reflects a different aspect of Hashem. Our job is to uncover it,  nurture it, and point it in the right direction.
 
That is why Man was created as a single entity, adds Rabbi Wolbe z"l. And that's why this passage is a perfect introduction to receiving the Torah. The words were spoken to each of us as individuals in a way we could hear to fulfill our unique roles.
How do you find the right match? If you're fortunate enough to have proactive parents, you can assume they have your benefit in mind and are able to convey to others who you are, what sort of person you are looking for, and what you would need to build a home. Your parents will know what isn't good for you. They could screen for you and investigate, so that when you are finally sitting across the table, you could know at least externally that this is a person who might be suitable. That puts you ten steps ahead of the game.
Now if you have people banging down the door waiting to suggest matches for you, you need to have some idea what sort of person would be good for you in order to choose correctly. If we examine the teachings of our sages, we find that the most significant aspect is compatibility or similarity. When you have that, it's much easier to form common goals and to communicate. If you're different, it doesn't mean it's never going to work. But then there has to be greater flexibility and a willingness to work hard on the marriage.
It's much easier for a baal teshuva to marry a baalat teshuva who will know where her husband is coming from and how to relate to his non -observant family. The same holds true in reverse. It's easier to marry someone from a similar economic background because your ideas of what necessities and luxuries are will be less conflicted. This is only if neither one of you is walking away from that style consciously. So if you have two people who come from a simple background and she says, "I like not being drowned in all sorts of fancy nonsense., while he says, "I like space and luxury."  It's not going to be easy for either of them.
Both of them should want the same religious lifestyle, so that you don't have one person striving to go further from where the other person wants to go.  It doesn't mean they have to be on the same level at the moment, although it makes it easier. But it does mean they have to at least want the same goals.
I once had a very charming couple as guests. Both came from a country where Jewish education was not available. The husband was fortunate that when he came to the States his parents enrolled him in a yeshiva. But the girl's parents didn't. They were happily married but he was something of a scholar and she hadn't quite mastered the Hebrew alphabet yet. When they ate he said the blessing out loud and she answered amen. They're both fine. The day will come when she will be able to pray on her own and she'll know more and they are making efforts to make it happen. But if you take two people who might even be on the same level at the moment, but are going somewhere different, problems may arise. For instance people sometimes like to fix up a new baalat teshuva with someone from an observant family who isn't so observant anymore. At the moment, they might be on the same level. But his plan for the next five years might be to stay where he is or maybe do even less. Her plan is to move forward.  There has to be commonality of vision if not commonality of exactitude in practice.

In Seif beit , the Kitzur notes that when one recites a blessing one's mouth should be empty, free of excess saliva. The pasuk says, " Yimale pi tehilascha , Your mouth should be filled with praise." If a person is chewing gum, he must remove it before reciting a blessing. The Shulchan Aruch addresses the question if one has food in his mouth and forgot to recite the blessing. Preferably he should remove it, and then recite the blessing. If there is no other option, he can push it to the side and say the bracha .  An orthodontic retainer is considered part of one's mouth and is not included in this prohibition.

In Seif gimmel , the Kitzur writes that one is not allowed  to use Hashem's name in vain and one who does so violates the positive commandment of, " Et Hashem Elokecha tirah , You shall fear Hashem." This entails treating Hashem's name with the proper awe by not using it in vain. In Parshat Ki Savo where the Torah enumerates the curses of one who doesn't fulfill the commandments, it says if one is not meticulous in fearing the awesome and honorable name of Hashem all types of terrible curses will befall such an individual.  

The Kitzur addresses a number of questions: 1. Is there any case when one would be allowed to mention Hashem's name?  2. What names are we speaking of?  3. Does this apply to other languages besides Hebrew?  Part of fulfilling Et Hashem Elokecha tira is not to mention Hashem's name outside of the context of praise or a bracha or in Torah study. One's very body should tremble when uttering  His  name. What about using Hashem's name in the general context of praise? According to the Kitzur this is permitted as it is using His name for a very specific purpose. The Talmud teaches us that there was a point in history in which the sages enacted that one should bless another Jew using Shem Hashem . In fact the traditional Shalem Aleichem hints to this. The Talmud teaches that shalem refers to Hashem, " Melech sheHashalom shalo , the King to whom peace belongs."

Praising Hashem in any context should not be viewed as using His name in vain. Similarly if one is studying Torah there should not be a prohibition to recite His name during the actual course of study. Why then are so many hesitant to do so? Most people will sing the zemirot Shabbat  using Hashem's name. In fact the Shla Hakodesh writes that's its actually improper not to, as it is considered disrespectful  to praise Hashem without using His name. Nonetheless Rabbi Soloveitchik and his family did not do so. Likewise the common practice among Ashkenazic Jews when studying Torah is not to use Hashem's actual name. This may be in keeping with the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch who writes that when one says Hashem's name one must have specific intentions.



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