Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Gateway Sin

Those who debate the issue of legalizing certain types of drugs, will often encounter the notion of a “gateway drug,” something that, by itself seems somewhat benign, but may lead to the use of much more dangerous substances. Can there be “gateways” to sin?

Rabbi Israel Meir Hakohen (Kagan in Russian), known as the Chofetz Chaim, the title of one of his greatest works, also penned a lesser-known volume called Ahavat Yisrael, in which he codifies the laws regarding Ahavat Yisrael (loving a fellow Jew) and the horrible consequences of its opposite. He explains why the iniquity of Sinat Chinam (baseless hatred) has more deleterious consequences than other evils.

First, he writes, the act of hating causes one to violate, every second in which that hatred is present in one’s heart, the Biblical precept of hating a fellow in one’s heart (Leviticus 19:17). This can accrue for months or even years, where the sins multiply at a rate one cannot even quantify. Second, reasoned the Chofetz Chaim, Sinat Chinam serves as a gateway to further religious malevolence, such as causing disputes, evil speech, tale-bearing, deceit, and causing embarrassment, which our sages have homiletically likened to homicide. The prohibition of taking revenge (Leviticus 19:18), which is the Biblical prelude to the mitzvah of loving one’s fellow as oneself, implies hatred as well.

Finally, the Talmud suggests that two friends who do not talk to one another for three days because of anger, are considered to be in violation of the prohibition of hating a fellow. Thus, it is entirely possible that one small misunderstanding between Jews, a minor infraction, or an insignificant spat, could result in violating several major religious infractions. The Chofetz Chaim declares: “We must conclude that we must try very hard to see and fix this bitter iniquity, which is the principal cause of our extended exile. May our good G-d aid us in removing this hatred from our hearts. May no one be jealous of us, nor may we be jealous of others.”

Copyright © 2018 NJOP. All rights reserved.

Monday, July 16, 2018

On One Foot

Jewish Treats was asked to explain the Jewish faith in one tweet. For those unfamiliar with the Twitter format, that means in 280 characters or less.

It seems, at first glance, a daunting task. Oddly enough, the perfect answer for such a request can be found in the Talmud: "...it happened that a certain heathen came before Shammai and said to him, 'Make me a proselyte, on condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot.' Thereupon [Shammai] repulsed him with the builder's cubit which was in his hand. [Shammai thought that he was making light of Judaism.] When [the heathen] went before Hillel, [Hillel] said to him, 'What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour: that is the whole Torah, while the rest is the commentary thereof; go and learn it'" (Shabbat 31a).

Is it possible that the answer to that profound question is that simple? Yes, and no. Jewish law is divided into two main categories, laws that affect one's relationship with other people and laws that affect one's relationship with God. And while both are equally important, Jewish tradition teaches that God can forgive a human being for trespasses against Himself, but not for sins of one person against another. (God destroyed the generation of the flood because they treated each other badly, but He only confused the language of and scattered the generation of the Tower of Babel, who sought to overthrow Him.)

All of Torah is meant to teach a person how to be a "mentsch," a good and decent person. The golden rule of the Torah "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18), is phrased differently by Hillel, but is, nevertheless, the heart of Torah. While many people quote this story, some neglect to remember Hillel’s final instructions: “Go and learn it” (meaning the entirety of the Torah). Only by learning Torah, can one learn how to master the golden rule and to show deference and love to our fellow humans.

This Treat was last posted on December 28, 2012.

Copyright © 2018 NJOP. All rights reserved.

Make The Time

The non-Jew in the story seemed ahead of his time. He wanted a crash course version of Torah. While one can learn from headlines, true knowledge comes from studying in depth.

Friday, July 13, 2018

The Month of Av

The months of the Jewish year are called in the Torah by number only (the first month, second month, etc.) Over time, during the exile, the months assumed the names given to them by host cultures and thus the “Jewish” months as we know them today are actually Babylonian in origin. These names were so common, that 8 out of 12 are mentioned in the later books of the prophets. 

Even though the name Av is Babylonian in origin, one may note the subtle nuance of the name. Av means father, and in the fifth month of the Hebrew year, God’s persona of Father is truly demonstrated. 

It is stated in the Book of Proverbs (13:24): “One who spares his rod hates his child, but he who loves him, disciplines him in his youth.” God warned the Jewish people that their misguided behavior would result in disaster, but they ignored His warnings. Thus the beginning of the month of Av was the time of the destruction of both Holy Temples, disasters which the Jewish community commemorates with an annual day of mourning on the ninth of Av (Tisha B’Av). When He allowed the Babylonians (and then the Romans) to conquer Jerusalem, destroy the Holy Temple(s) and drive the Jewish people into exile, God had one fatherly goal in mind--that the Jewish people should see the error of their ways and correct themselves. 

A parent who punishes a child still loves the child and still wishes to share in the child’s happiness. Rejoicing is also an important facet of the month of Av. Tu B’Av (literally 15th of Av) is a day of tremendous rejoicing in Israel when in days of yore, unmarried maidens would go out to the field to find a husband. Thus in Av, after God completes the role of disciplinarian, He comes forward to watch, and enjoy, as His children rejoice. 

Copyright © 2018 NJOP. All rights reserved.

Use Hebrew Dates as Well

Do you know your Hebrew birthday? Try to find it on a Hebrew-English calendar. There’s tremendous richness in using the Hebrew dates. Try to use them.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Does Life Begin at 40?

In 1932 Walter Pitkin published his popular self-help book, Life Begins at Forty. Truthfully, before the 20th century, life expectancy, on average, rarely exceeded 40.

The number 40 is found quite frequently throughout the Torah. When seeking a common denominator, one finds that a time period of “40” represents a period of maturation. When God flooded the earth in the times of Noah, it rained for 40 days and nights. Humankind had to mature spiritually. Moses spent 40 days and nights on Sinai receiving the Torah; he returned for 40 days to pray for God to forgive the wayward nation after their sin with the Golden Calf. Both occasions represent periods of internal growth. Jews are warned not to study the mystical components of the Torah until they reach the age of forty and have spent the previous 4 decades studying the revealed aspects of Torah.

Perhaps the best known Scriptural use of the time frame 40 is God’s measure for measure punishment of the Israelites for believing the slanderous report of the ten scouts who were sent to survey the Promised Land. Since the mission occurred over a period of 40 days, God punished the wayward nation by decreeing they would wander the Sinai wilderness for forty years, one year for each day of the reconnaissance operation. The nation’s negative attitude needed to transform, hence the appearance of 40 once again.

Yet, even within this decree, the great Biblical commentator Rashi teaches that G-d showed compassion to his wayward people. According to tradition, not one of the punished Israelites perished before their 60th birthday, ensuring that those who did not enter the land were at least 20 years old at the time of the sin.

The day the Israelites believed the disparaging report of the scouts was the 9th of Av, and represents the original calamity on this day of many terrible tragedies.

Today, the 29th day of Tammuz is the 1,013rd Yahrzeit of Rashi (July 13, 1105).

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Punish Fairly

If and when we need to punish for bad action, try to make the punishment fit the crime. An added bonus would be to actually learn something from the punishment.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Sign Up for Role Modeling

Jewish Treats has addressed the issue of Arei Miklat, cities of refuge, in prior Treats. The cities of refuge were intended for individuals who accidentally killed another person. The perpetrators may run to an Ir Miklat (singular of Arei Miklat) where they will be safe from the possible vengeance of the victim’s family as long as they remain in the city until the death of the High Priest. The Torah addresses this topic in this week’s Torah reading, Numbers (35:9-34) and in Deuteronomy (19:1-13).

A related story is told of a famed Torah scholar who needed to spend many months away from his yeshiva during the year raising money abroad. He finally went to see his teacher, the saintly Chofetz Chaim, Rabbi Israel Meir Hakohen, or Kagan in Russian, (1838-1933) to ask his mentor why he was fated to spend so much time away from his students, and why he needed to grovel for money?

The Chofetz Chaim asked his student why our sages explain that there were signs at crossroads in ancient Israel, indicating the direction of the closest Ir Miklat, yet, there is no indication that there were signs directing pilgrims how to travel to Jerusalem, to the Temple? The Chofetz Chaim said that without signs the traveler would need to stop at a house to ask for directions. Those answering the door and welcoming a guest to their home and family, would certainly prefer a Jew en-route to the Temple with a sacrifice, or someone lost, seeking to experience Jerusalem during holidays as opposed to someone involved with the death of a human being who was being pursued by the victim’s family. 

The Chofetz Chaim told his student that his frustrating need to travel was meant to expose him and his holy personality to individuals all over the world who relished to host such an individual in their home and city. His travels were part and parcel of his teaching, albeit through a different venue. The student found great comfort in his teacher’s words.

Copyright © 2018 NJOP. All rights reserved.

Always Show Willingness to Explain

Sometimes we need to explain ourselves better, because we were unclear or the listener needs further explanation. Patience can enable someone to truly understand and appreciate what we are saying.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Herzl’s Vision of Haifa

International air travel today, especially in the “post 9-11 world” can be frustrating, annoying and anxiety-provoking. Because of the extra costs of traveling to and from airports, navigating the heightened security protocols and even the discomfort while on a plane, people often need a vacation after their vacation or choose not to travel at all. The distance of the trip is directly proportional to the anxiety and frustration.

But talk to someone who traveled to Israel from North America before air travel was ubiquitous and you’ll find out what true inconvenience and hardship were. The trip by oceanliner from ports such as New York City, as late as the 1960s, took over 10 days. When the port of Haifa came into sight for the fatigued passengers, their joy knew no bounds. This was the standard method how most people arrived from abroad to the State of Israel during its early years.

The port of Haifa, the largest of Israel’s 3 commercial ports (the others being Ashdod and Eilat), processes over 29 million tons of cargo a year, welcomes 140,000 passengers, and is staffed by over 1,000 employees. That number jumps to 5,000 when cruise ships arrive.

Akko (Acre in English), a city 17 km (10 miles) north of Haifa, served as the Holy Land’s primary port until the 20th century. When silt made the docking of large ships impossible, an alternative site was sought. In 1902, Theodore Herzl virtually “prophesied” in his famous book Altneuland, about the development of the city of Haifa and the transformation of its bay into a major commercial port. In 1922, construction began.

The port of Haifa opened for business on the 27th of Tammuz (July 21) 1933. Whether arriving by boat or plane, there is an ancient custom to kiss the ground of the Holy Land of Israel. Maimonides (Laws of Kings 5:10) relates that the great sages would “kiss the borders of the land, kiss her stones and roll in her dust.” This custom serves as yet another profound reminder of the Jewish people’s special relationship with the Land of Israel.

Copyright © 2018 NJOP. All rights reserved.

Thank Travel Industry Professionals

Despite the travails of travel, always make sure to offer gratitude to all those who help us move about more rapidly and comfortably.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Love in the Liturgy

Most people would identify prayer as a vertical endeavor: Mortals communicating with God. Yet, as we will learn, there is a beautiful custom to begin our prayers by thinking horizontally, i.e. about our relationship to our fellow human beings.

The renowned 16th century mystic Rabbi Isaac ben Solomon Luria, known by his acronym ARI, taught that those praying should begin with a verbalized commitment to fulfilling the commandment of loving one’s fellow. As such, some prayer books, especially those following Rabbi Luria’s customs, pronounce the following declaration at the beginning of the morning prayers: “Behold, I accept upon myself the positive Biblical commandment of ‘you shall love your fellow as yourself.’” 

Rabbi Avraham Gombiner (1635-1682), whose commentary is known as the Magen Avraham, ruled that prior to beginning formal morning prayers, one ought to accept upon themselves the commandment of loving their fellows as themselves (see Magen Avraham Orach Chaim 46). This brief comment brought the ARI’s mystical idea into the mainstream. Many other rabbinic commentaries have echoed this position.

Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried, author of Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (Abridged Code of Jewish Law), whose 132nd yahrzeit is observed today, wrote the following regarding the critical importance of this morning resolution: “If Heaven forbid there is division within the hearts of Israel in the lower world, there will also not be unity in the heavens.”

Many parents prioritize their children getting along with one another even above their own relationship with their children. Biblical commentaries note that when Abraham ran to care for his guests, he cut short a visit from God (see Genesis 18:1-2). God, like parents, would prefer that His children care for one another, even at the expense of God’s own honor.

Lessons such as these help build Ahavat Chinam, baseless love, and Ahavat Yisrael, love for Israel, during this critical time of the Three Weeks.

Copyright © 2018 NJOP. All rights reserved.

Verbalize Your Beliefs

It’s not sufficient to have beliefs; it’s best to verbalize them and act on them.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Good Sense from Nikolsburg!

The Biblical phrase, “Love your fellow as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18) serves as the foundational verse promoting Ahavat Chinam (baseless love) and Ahavat Yisrael (love for fellow Jews). Do we really need to love someone else, as much as we love ourselves? Are we not programmed biologically to look out for ourselves? Is it even possible to love someone else as much, especially if they are not related, or a friend or even an acquaintance?

A student approached his Rebbe, Rabbi Shmelke, (1726-1778) the Rabbi of Nikolsburg (Moravia, modern day Czech Republic) and asked how can one fulfill the Biblical mandate to love his fellow when the individual has caused much pain and suffering?

Rabbi Shmelke responded that all souls eminate from the same source and are united. If one’s right hand accidentally hits oneself, does the left hand punish its partner for the errant strike? Of course not! Both of one’s hands are part of the same body. It would be ludicrous for one hand to punish the other. It would even be counterproductive, as it would add pain, not alleviate it. The same can be said of the body of Israel, taught the Nikolsburg Rav. (This story and others can be found in Martin Buber’s Tales of the Hasidim).

Rav Shmelke teaches a powerful lesson, which can apply to any negative situation in life. If we envision the sad image of a person punishing his delinquent hand, we can perhaps forestall lashing out at, or responding in kind to, someone who may have strayed, someone whose intentions were pure, or someone who acted rashly without thinking the matter through. Rav Shmelke’s metaphor is one small weapon in the arsenal of Ahavat Chinam and Ahavat Yisrael we should always endeavor to employ, but especially during the Three Weeks.

Copyright © 2018 NJOP. All rights reserved.

Seek Jewish Unity

Think of daily opportunities that manifest the idea that all of Israel are one.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Campaigning From The Periphery Or The Center?

There’s an adage in American politics, that candidates win their party’s primary by positioning themselves to the extreme, and win national elections by moving to the center.

Should a leader stick to his or her guns, or should they endeavor to compromise?

Parashat Pinchas begins by describing the aftermath of Pinchas’ zealous act to stop a plague ravaging the camp of the Hebrews in the wilderness. God rewarded Pinchas and his progeny for the act with a “covenant of peace.” A few chapters later (Numbers 27:18-23) Moses publicly declares that Joshua, his loyal assistant, would succeed him in leading the nation. Why is the succession announcement revealed at this particular moment in the Torah narrative and not later, closer to Moses’ death?

Among a few answers provided, is the response of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Morgenstern, known as the Kotzker Rebbe. He describes that after Pinchas’ heroism, which potentially saved the lives of thousands, Pinchas became, de facto, a prime candidate to succeed Moses, who was aging and had already been informed by God that he was not going to lead the nation to the Promised Land. For this reason specifically, the Kotzker Rebbe teaches, God instructed Moses to ordain Joshua as his successor. Acts of zeal, while popular, may not be appropriate acts for leadership. While God values truth, peace and compromise are greater virtues, taught the Kotzker Rebbe.

A leader must be able, when circumstances demand, to try to find common ground among conflicting positions. For this reason, reasoned Rabbi Morgenstern, Moses rushed to ordain Joshua as his successor.

The Torah teaches that great leaders most often try to seek and pursue peace as an ideal, even, at times, at the expense of the absolute truth. While both Pinchas and Joshua were righteous and worthy, according to the Kotzker Rebbe, God felt that the nation needed to understand that while zeal has its place, leaders must most often try to avoid it. This is an important and valuable lesson during the Three Weeks, the time of year which we dedicate to focusing on eradicating Sinat Chinam (baseless hatred) from our midst.

Copyright © 2018 NJOP. All rights reserved.

Lead By Consensus

When weighing candidates in a vote, ask yourself who can best lead by consensus.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Maccabees In Africa In July?

Forty-two years ago today, on July 4, 1976, the Israeli military freed 106 hostages, consisting of 94 passengers and 12 crew members, whose Paris-bound Air France Airbus, which originated in Tel Aviv, was hijacked. The German and Palestinian terrorists landed with a plane full of hostages at Entebbe Airport in distant, equatorial Uganda. You can read the details here of this incredibly daring rescue operation, which was nicknamed Operation Thunderbolt. The commander of the operation, Lt. Col. Jonathan Netanyahu (older brother of Israel’s current Prime Minister) was killed by a sniper as he set up a command center at the Entebbe airport during the raid. In his honor, the Israeli government renamed the raid, Mivtzah Yonatan, “Operation Jonathan.”

When President Gerald Ford was informed by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin of the successful rescue of the hostages, he responded, “Mr. Prime Minister. You have just given the United States of America the greatest Bicentennial gift we could have ever asked for.” July 4, 1976 was the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

Jews worldwide swelled with pride as the tiny Jewish state demonstrated that the nations of the world need not capitulate to terrorism and that Israel stood tall as protector of Jews worldwide. Menachem Begin, the long-time leader of the opposition party in the Knesset, captured this idea in a memorable speech at the Knesset, where he called the rescuers, “Modern Day Maccabees.” Mr. Begin declared: “When the actions of Dr. Mengele in Auschwitz, with a finger to the right, condemned men, women and children to death, then there had been no one to save them. Now there was. Now we declare for all to hear, ‘Never Again!’ Let the world know, if anyone, anywhere, is persecuted or humiliated or threatened, or abducted, or is in any way endangered, simply because he or she is a Jew, then the people of Israel will marshal all of its strength to come to their aid and to bring them, with the help of the Almighty, to the safe haven that we call our land, Israel.” 

While several movies were made describing the daring rescue operation, we encourage all Jewish Treats readers to watch the NJOP-produced video about Operation Jonathan, entitled, “The Story of the Modern Day Maccabees.”

Copyright © 2018 NJOP. All rights reserved.

Honor America's Value On July 4th!

Think about the old adage, “Freedom is not free” on this Independence Day.  Discuss America's enduring values with those with whom you spend Independence Day.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Antidote Of Baseless Hatred

The calendrical period between the Fast of the 17th of Tammuz and the Fast of Tisha B’av is known as Bein Hame’tzarim (in the midst of distress) and is referred to colloquially as the “Three Weeks.” While the latter describes the time frame between these two fasts, the former, finds its source from the verse in Scripture (Lamentations 1:3), “all her [Israel’s] pursuers overtook her in the midst of her distress.” The Three Weeks represents the saddest period in the Jewish calendar.

The Talmud teaches that while the First Temple was destroyed because of the cardinal sins of murder, idolatry and sexual immorality, the successful razing of the Second Temple by the Romans is attributed to Sinat Chinam, which literally means “free hatred,” but connotes hatred for no apparent reason or, at least, no legitimate reason.

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook famously stated that the antidote to baseless hatred is baseless love, Ahavat Chinam (Orot Hakodesh, section 3, page 324). In modern parlance, which perhaps owes a proper citation to Rabbi Kook, the concept of “random acts of kindness” may find its source from this idea.

During the period of the Three Weeks, Jewish Treats will endeavor to share some brief and inspiring thoughts related to the topic of Ahavat Chinam, or Ahavat Yisrael, the love we should exhibit for our fellow Jews.

The primary Scriptural source associated with Ahavat Chinam and Ahavat Yisrael is the famous “Golden Rule: “You shall not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:18). Rabbi Hillel famously taught, “that which is hateful to you, do not do to others” (Talmud Shabbat 31a). Referring to this Biblical verse, Rabbi Akiva proclaimed: “This is a major principle of the Torah” (Jerusalem Talmud Nedarim 9:4).

Copyright © 2018 NJOP. All rights reserved.

Seek The Positive

Next time you hear something about someone who hurt you, try to find a way to see it in a positive light.

Monday, July 2, 2018

The Three Weeks

“When Av enters, we must lessen our rejoicing,” declare the Talmudic sages in Ta’anit 26b.

In truth, however, this period of "sadness" begins on the Fast of the 17th of Tammuz (observed yesterday) and lasts exactly three weeks - until Tisha B’Av (the Ninth of Av), the day on which we mourn the destruction of both the First and Second Temples.

While all Jewish communities mark the 17th of Tammuz by mourning and fasting, in Ashkenazic communities, this mourning continues during the rest of the month of Tammuz by refraining from haircuts and shaving, listening to music, reciting a sheh'heh'cheh'yanu blessing on new garments, and celebrating weddings.

From the first day of the month of Av onward (July 13, 2018), however, almost all Jewish communities have accepted upon themselves the period of mourning referred to as “The Nine Days.” During these nine days, we customarily avoid the following activities (along with all of the above):

1) Eating meat or drinking wine (except on Shabbat).

2) Bathing or swimming for pleasure. Some people take quick showers using cool water instead of hot so as not to derive pleasure from the shower. (One may bathe on Friday in preparation for Shabbat.)

3) Doing laundry or wearing freshly laundered clothing (except for Shabbat). It is therefore customary to choose outfits for the nine days and wear them in advance of the nine days for just a few minutes so that they are not “fresh.” Children’s clothing may be laundered as needed.

This Treat is reposted annually.

Copyright © 2018 NJOP. All rights reserved.

Focus On The State Of Israel And Global Anti-Semitism

It’s hard to mourn over the Holy Temple’s destruction since no one alive saw it or experienced its majesty. You can focus, however, on the unfair treatment by some of the State of Israel and rising anti-Semitism globally, and identify ways to help.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

The Tragedy of the Idol

Ever since Moses saw the Israelites dancing around the Golden Calf and smashed the two tablets of the law, the 17th of Tammuz has been an inauspicious day for the Jewish people, a day on which numerous tragedies occurred. One of the famous tragic events of the 17th of Tammuz was the placing of an idol in the Temple. 

There are different opinions about exactly when this incident occurred.

One view in the Talmud (Ta'anit 28b) says: “An idol was placed in the Temple. From where do we know this? -- It is written, ‘And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away and the abomination [idol] that causes desolation set up’(Daniel 12,11).” The daily sacrifice was abolished on the 17th of Tammuz and, therefore, the idol was placed in the Temple on that very same day (during the Babylonian siege).

Others believe that the incident refers to an act done by Apostamos, a Greek who was also responsible for burning the Torah (during the Second Temple period). 

Rashi mentions yet another suggestion, based on the Jerusalem Talmud, that this is a reference to the actions of the wicked King Manasseh of Judah:

Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign... And he set the graven image of Asherah, that he had made, in the house of which God said to David and to Solomon his son: "In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, will I put My name forever...'' (Kings II 21:1-7).

While a Greek placing an idol in the Temple was, indeed, terrible, a Jewish king doing so was a much greater tragedy.

This Treat was reposted in honor of the Seventeenth of Tammuz.

Copyright © 2018 NJOP. All rights reserved.

Smashing the Tablets

The sages declare that five tragedies occurred on the seventeenth of Tammuz, which is why the day is observed as a fast day. Days of what we might now call “bad karma” (on which bad things consistently occur) were, according to Jewish tradition, set early in Jewish history, and the seventeenth of Tammuz was fated to become one of the most painful days in Jewish history. It all began when Moses came down from Mount Sinai, discovered the Israelites dancing around the Golden Calf, and smashed the Ten Commandments on the seventeenth of Tammuz.

Since the Torah does not mention dates, the Talmud, asks how it is known that the Tablets were shattered on the seventeenth of Tammuz:

It is written (Exodus 24:16-18), "On the seventh day [of Sivan] He called to Moses...and Moses entered into the midst of the cloud, and went up onto the mountain; and Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights." The [remaining] twenty-four days of Sivan and the sixteen days of Tammuz altogether make forty. On the seventeenth of Tammuz he came down [from the mountain] and shattered the Tablets (Ta’anit 28b).

After the sin of the Golden Calf, God was ready to destroy the Israelites and create a new nation descended from Moses. Due to Moses’ fervent prayers, however, God forgave the Children of Israel. God’s anger at the Israelites for their easy fall into apparent idolatry is understandable, but what right had Moses to smash the tablets of law given to him by God? However, according to the Talmud, Shabbat 87a, Moses’ actions were driven by more than anger. He sought to protect the people. By destroying the Tablets, Moses created a situation in which the people had never fully received the Torah, so they could not be charged with having transgressed its laws.

This Treat was reposted in honor of the Seventeenth of Tammuz.

Copyright © 2018 NJOP. All rights reserved.

On A Hot Fast

If you are fasting in hot summer weather, try to stay inside.