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Dear  Naaleh Friend,

This week marks Tu B'Av. To learn more about this day we feature Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller's class  Tu B'Av and the Essence of Marriage.  I n this Torah shiur on marriage and shidduchim, Rebbetzin Heller speaks about what the 15th day of Av represents.  On this day, the heavenly attributes of Chochma and Binah combine, as do the middot of Tiferet and Malchut.  This merging of forces represents the completion of the soul through marriage.    To view the class click on the image below.

soul mates
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This week's edition of Torah Imecha on Parshat Vaetchanan 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
For Tehillim list please click here to view our Refuah Shleima page
Derech Hashem: The Body and The Soul
Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller
 
The body and soul experience two phases, a time for work, struggle, integration, and becoming, and a time for reward. In the first stage there's absolute balance, the body and soul have equal power which creates free choice. In the second stage, the soul works to elevate the body.  According to the amount of effort one invested to strengthen one's soul in this world, that is how strong it will become in the next world. A strong soul can give illumination to the body and purify it and draw it closer to Hashem and to His light.

In this world, we cannot separate body and soul. It's like kneaded dough. After death the two split apart and become separate entities. This must take place for a time before they are reunited again. The body disintegrates and returns to the earth from which it came. The soul cannot yet return to the body because it hasn't yet reached its perfect state to be able to purify it.  It returns to the world of souls. It's impossible to totally separate the body and soul. Whatever side was stronger in life is the one the person will identify with more. For a person who totally identified with his body, the stage when the body decomposes is exquisitely painful. Not just because of the physical phenomena of worms dissecting one's body, but because of the attachment the person felt for his body which is now turning to earth. A person whose real self was his soul transcends this painful process. During the time that the soul is waiting for the world to be renewed it experiences pleasure according to the level it attained in this world. It will however not experience full reward until the revival of the dead.

It is very difficult to crack open a peach pit. But if you put it in the ground, the biological composition of the earth will soften it until it releases enzymes that eat away at its glue until it decomposes, and a new tree grows out. We call this nature, but it's only natural because we see it all the time. If we think about the intricacy and wisdom involved in the growth of each peach tree we would be forced to see Hashem there. Similarly, the course of nature dictates that the human body will decompose.  Yet the same force of life that makes a peach grow remains within the person even after death. Thinking about this makes the concept of the revival of the dead more understandable.

It was decreed that a person cannot become whole except through death. The soul loses the opportunity to do more after death, but since it doesn't have the body holding it down anymore, it becomes clearer and more aware and less given to mistakes. In this world the soul isn't fully cognizant of what it wants as a part of the body still functions within it. When the body disintegrates and submits, the soul can finally achieve a much higher level of affecting the body. All of nature desires to do Hashem's will. There are no birds that choose not to fly. Similarly the soul wants to achieve tikun . Its happiness will only be complete when it returns to the body. Likewise, the body was made for wholeness and cannot be complete until the soul redefines it. In the world of the souls, the soul radiates and becomes stronger according to its deeds so that when it returns to the body, it will be able to achieve what it was destined to do. This is the happy ending we are all yearning for, a perfected soul working in concert with a perfected body.
Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Rabbi Yitzchak Cohen

The Sefer Tomer Devora discusses the attribute of V'tashlich b'metzulat yom kol chatosom . He begins with a question asked by many Rishonim. Why was Pharaoh punished if whatever suffering Klal Yisrael endured was the fault of their sins? Likewise, the Rambam in Hilchos Teshuva asks, why were the Egyptians punished if it was already decreed in heaven that the Jews would need to endure the suffering of exile.  The Rambam answers, although it was in fact a decree it doesn't mean every Egyptian had to carry it out. In addition, they went above and beyond what was decreed. Therefore they were punished. The Meshech Chochma says, the Egyptians should've felt indebted to the Jews. Instead they repaid them with evil.  They tortured them not because they wanted to carry out Hashem's command, but out of a personal inner hatred. They went above and beyond the decree of hard labor. They took little children and threw them in the river and used them for bricks. That is why they were punished.

This question is also raised by the Tomer Devora. It says in Mishlei, "A tzadik is redeemed from his grief while the rasha endures his punishment." All the pain that the tzadik should have received is transferred over to the rasha . This is the meaning of " V'tashlich b'metzulot yam " After Klal Yisrael did teshuva, their punishment was passed over to the reshaim among them Pharoah, Sancheiriv, and Haman.    

Teshuva on Yom Kippur can erase sin but it's not uprooted entirely. The punishment still remains. Teshuva transfers it out of the sinner's domain to another domain. This is the concept of V'tashlich b'metzulot yam . In the time of the beit hamikdash all the sins of Klal Yisrael was passed over to the Azazel goat. If a person kills someone he is sentenced to death and the knife used to kill him is buried with him so that the cause of his death should be erased from this world. The idea is that the instrument used to kill is also responsible and a part of his punishment and atonement is that there should be no remembrance of the sin.  This is the idea of V'tashlich b'metzulot yam . The punishment is passed to the reshaim and then Hashem forgives us completely.

If a man kills another unintentionally, the killer must run to a city of refuge. He cannot leave until the kohen gadol dies. Rav Avraham the son of the Rambam explains, a kohen gadol is a tremendous inspiration to Klal Yisrael . When he dies, the goel (the relative of the victim) forgets his own personal sorrow and participates in the grief of Klal Yisrael. So much so that the hurt and anger he had towards the killer is no longer the same. Suffering erases sin. Therefore, if we see a sinner suffering we must have mercy on him. In this way we emulate the middah of Hashem that after a person is punished his sins don't exist anymore.

"Titen emet l'Yaakov ," Yaakov represents truth more than the other forefathers. The Torah tells us, " Ko tomar l'beit Yaakov ." Rashi says this refers to the women. Yaakov signifies what a woman represents. He was tested in a manner that Avraham and Yitzchak weren't tested. Avraham influenced people to do kindness. Yitzchak excelled in gevurah, commitment to Hashem.  Yaakov was a paragon of sanctifying the name of Hashem. All the years he lived in the house of Lavan he never succumbed to anger and accepted all his challenges with faith. He signified Torah im derech eretz , Torah scholarship with outstanding middot. Notwithstanding all the tension and the accusations Lavan leveled at Yaakov, he remained emet. That is a woman. No matter what difficulty she goes through she's able to absorb it all and remain emet. The numerical value of emet is 441. The numerical value of yud keh vav keh is 21. Twenty one multiplied twice equals 441. If you take the name of Hashem and make it greater, you'll come to emet. The more we see Hashem, the more we will see emet .  

In the Ways of the Gentiles
Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Rabbi Ari Jacobson
The Kitzur discusses the concept of chukat hagoyim , the Torah prohibition against adopting specifically non- Jewish practices. Hashem commanded us at Har Sinai to be a nation of princes and a holy people. We have a privilege and a responsibility to serve as a light unto the nations. If we are to succeed in our role, it's imperative that we maintain our distinctiveness. Bilaam praised the Jewish people, " Am lavad yishkan ..." The Ohr Hachaim explains, when we remain unique we can make a difference and impact the world. When we try to blend into gentile society we lose whatever we try to accomplish. The Rambam writes in Igeret Teiman that when we stood at Sinai, Hashem accepted upon himself to be a guarantor that every Jewish soul would remain loyal to Him and the Torah. However, we as the debtors have to do our part. We have to ensure that we will remain separate from the gentiles so that we can serve as a light to the nations. The Torah tells us, " U'bechukoseihem lo seileichu, do not follow in the ways of the nations." This does not refer to common human practices but rather to a specific type of practice. The Mishna in Masechet Shabbat makes reference to carrying around a fox tooth or a locust egg as a good luck amulet, not much different than a rabbit foot hanging from one's car nowadays. The Mishna calls this darchei Emori which is another term for violating the prohibition of U'bechukoseihem .

What exactly are the parameters of the prohibition? The Gemara in Masechet Avoda Zora discusses a common practice in ancient times. When a king died all of his personal belongings were burned so that nobody else would be able to use it. The Gemara says if a practice was begun by Jews or begun by both Jews and gentiles or can be explained rationally it is not a violation of U'bechukoseihem . The practice of burning the king's implements is not an issue as it was begun by Jews and demonstrates respect for the king. Carrying around a fox tooth or locust egg is a superstition but if it could somehow medically be explained it wouldn't be a violation. Rav Yosef Kolon noted that even if the original practice didn't have a reason but you now do it for a reason it wouldn't be a violation. An example of this would be a doctor wearing a uniform. This originally started for no reason. Rav Kolon and Rav M. Feinstein write that if one is wearing it for a specific reason in order to be clearly identified it wouldn't be a violation. Another example would be the clanking of glasses after making a toast. Many hold that this is a violation, while others disagree. The Mevaser Tov writes that it can be rationally explained. It's a sign of closeness- I'm not afraid of your drink mixing with mine. Or it's a way of mixing both drinks to determine that neither drink was poisoned, which was apparently a concern years ago. Rabbi Betzalel Zolty writes that a military funeral wouldn't be a violation because there's a reason why its done.

Any practice that has religious connotation is automatically a violation. The sense one gets is that the original Thanksgiving holiday was a religious Christion celebration in gratitude for making it through the winter and for the bounty that was harvested. In fact, Jefferson felt that Thanksgiving was a violation of church and state. However, the Thanksgiving celebrated today has nothing to do with the original holiday. It did not become a national holiday until Abraham Lincoln declared it so in order to encourage greater unity with the North and South. Once one assumes it does not have religious undertones, it still remains a gentile practice. However, if one celebrates for a reason it becomes permitted.


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