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					Shyndee Mandel
Moreshet 06-07
Essay for Rabbi Edelstein




Shyndee Mandel
Moreshet
Shyndee Mandel
Moreshet 06-07
Essay for Rabbi Edelstein
                                             Passion

     In ‫ ספר דברים‬it lists the blessing and curses for ‫ ,בני ישראל‬in the middle it states ‫"תחת‬

"‫“ אשר לא עבדת את ה' אלוקיך בשמחה ובטוב לבב‬because you did not serve Hashem your God

with happiness and with goodness of your heart.” This lack of exhilaration in serving

God will result in these curses. The ‫ רמב"ן‬says1 that all the curses written in ‫פרשת בחוקתי‬

were fulfilled in ‫ חרבן בית ראשון‬and the curses in ‫ פרשת כי תבוא‬happened during ‫חרבן בית‬

‫ .שני‬The Jews during the era of the second temple had lost their happiness in serving G

God.

    One of the causes of the destruction of the first ‫ בית המקדש‬was because the Jews stopped

saying the blessing on the Torah.2 The Ran says they did not have the proper

concentration when they recited the bracha3. They did learn Torah then but they did not

value the treasure that they had and therefore could not prepare themselves to immerse in

the complexity of the Torah.

    There are specific reasons for the destruction of the two Temples. The ‫ רמב"ן‬says that

they can apply to some extent to both destructions but are more emphasized in one than

the other. As a result of not serving God with happiness, and added to that their

misconception of the depth of Torah the second ‫ בית המקדש‬was destroyed. What

happened to ‫ בני ישראל‬that triggered this passiveness to their religion, this loss of care?

After ‫ חרבן בית ראשון‬the gift of prophecy was taken away from the world. What is

prophecy and what was the consequence of its removal?

     Speech is a way of connecting. When one speaks he makes a connection between the

abstract thought in his mind and produces it in a physical fashion, in the way of words.

1
  ‫ויקרא כז:טז‬
2
  ‫ירמיהו ח‬
3
  .‫בבא מציעא פה‬
Shyndee Mandel
Moreshet 06-07
Essay for Rabbi Edelstein
‫ נבואה‬is the epitome of connection between God, the spiritual and the prophet, the

physical. This connection is achieved through ‫ נבואה‬itself, the highest form of speech.

    It says one who wishes to become a prophet should study ‫ ,מסכת אבות‬which contains in

it the refinement of character4. The ‫ מהר"ל‬says5this refinement teaches man to avoid

following the desires of his body and physical aspect. The physical is only there as a way

to get to the spiritual and should not be utilized in itself. Each of us contain within the

physical a window to God. However this window can get blocked by our obsession with

the physical and material. This is the opening that the prophet passes through when

connecting with the spirituality.6 And so to reach the level of a prophet one is required to

fix up his character, his physical, thereby clearing open his inner window, his channel to

spirituality.

    Towards the beginning of the second ‫ ,בני ישראל‬the ‫ אנשי כנסת הגדולה‬asked that the ‫יצר‬

‫ הרע‬for serving idols should be removed from the hearts of the nation.7 God complied and

consequently, in the year 3448,8 the gift of prophecy disappeared as well. A human, by

definition, lives in a physical world and is constricted by what he can accomplish in the

spiritual realm. To reach any spiritual height he is required to diminish his physicality as

the two cannot exist side by side. When one achieves the level of a prophet he is

breaking through his finite boundaries and reaches the transcendence, to the extent of

communicating with God. Prophecy is reaching beyond the self, beyond what is possible

for a human to accomplish.



4
  .‫בבא קמא ל‬
5
  Derech chayim p.8
6
  Rabbi Kagen - The Jewish Self p. 52
7
   :‫יומא צט‬
8
  exactly one thousand years after the giving of the Torah
Shyndee Mandel
Moreshet 06-07
Essay for Rabbi Edelstein
       Idol worship operates as a negative parallel to prophecy. The concept of withdrawing

the self to bind with a spiritual sort reality can occur through the mistaken route of

idolatry. Just as with the acquisition of prophecy, one requires transcendence, idolatry

requires a minimising of the physical to join with the spiritual.

       After the drive for idol worship was taken away by Divine Intervention, the whole

notion of diminishing the physical to serve something spiritual was no longer conceivable

and similarly with prophecy, the ability to lower the physical to access the spiritual to that

extent was taken away. 9

       With the removal of prophecy, in a certain sense God cut Himself out of the world, as

He no longer has a direct relationship with the world. This high form of connection is

now almost impossible to reach. He left us instead only the Torah as a means of

connection.10 The Torah is the platform for us to reach beyond this world, but it cannot

give us what we do not have. The Torah is a way to fulfill the potential we have inside of

us.11 The Torah was cut off from the Creator, from God and could only be acquired

through man himself. The tractate of ‫ אבות‬helps us now, as the guide to attain the

potential of torah, to unite the physical with the spiritual in this manner, as opposed to the

way of prophecy of the past.

       There is an obvious difference in the Jewish nation since the loss of the phenomenon

of ‫ .נבואה‬Due to the lack of spirituality involved in their lives from the days of Shimon

Hatzaddik12 and onwards there was a danger of a passiveness towards the Torah13, and

towards their religion in general. Around this time came the Greek empire and the

9
  Rabbi Tatz – Worldmasks pg 134
1010
     Rabbi Kagen – The Jewish Self p. 53
11
   :‫ מסכת פסחים מט‬Torah is described as man‟s bride, meaning his capacity to bind himself to completion
12
   Shimon hatzaddik was of the last of the anshi knesses hagidola, who had among them many neviim.
13
   ‫מהר"ל – הקדמת דרך החיים‬
Shyndee Mandel
Moreshet 06-07
Essay for Rabbi Edelstein
translation of the Torah. The tragedy of the translation of the Torah in c.270 bce14

symbolized the loss of the spirituality. Taking the Torah and writing it in Greek, into the

language of physicality, limited the Torah to physicality subtracting any chance of

meaning15. Because of the lack of passion for Torah and spirituality in the times of the

Greeks, many Jews were attracted to their man-centered culture, barren of any holiness.

This rejection of the Torah was the blueprint for their descendents; it was the blueprint

for the cycle of destruction.

     The apathy escalated until God became exasperated with his nation and brought about

the destruction of the ‫ ,בית המקדש‬sending the Jews into exile once again.

Rav Meir Simcha of Dvinsk was only 18 years old when he wrote the Meshach Chachma

in the late 19th century. (It was published more than 40 years later, posthumously). In his

astounding prophetic analysis of Jewish Europe, in ‫ ,61פרשת בחוקתי‬which was well before

WW 1 he predicts the spiritual underpinnings of the holocaust.

According to the Meshach Chachma, the tragic pattern of Am Yisroel in exile involves

the following cycle: Destruction is followed by a spiritual rebirth and building, the

following generations continue the Torah development of the Jews until there comes to a

stand-still of nothing to do. The new generation feels a lack of things to do, and

everything becomes very old to them. They then begin to lose their passion for what they

do and some just leave to find their passion and need for novelty elsewhere. Tragically it

comes to a point when God cannot put up with it anymore and brings another destruction

to give us a reality check.



14
   Oxford Dictionary
15
   '‫מהר"ל – תפארת ישראל פרק כט‬
16
   ‫פרשת בחקתי כו:מד‬
Shyndee Mandel
Moreshet 06-07
Essay for Rabbi Edelstein
     We see this constantly starting from the Romans at ‫ ,חרבן בית שני‬all throughout the

history of the Jews, back again in the 1800s in Europe. The Jews were let out of the

ghettos into the outside world. They discovered a whole new life of secular education

and reformation. The elders in their times rejected this new way of life, seeing it as a

rebellion to their age-old traditions. The youth saw this exploration as liberation from the

old days and embraced it17. Why stay with their old ways when they can join something

more exciting and new18. As a result of the assimilation into secular lifestyle, Rav Meir

Simcha predicts, God will bring about the destruction of Europe, its climax World War II

with its atrocious murders and horrors forcing the cycle to begin anew in a “far away

land.”

     After the holocaust, in fact there was a massive development of Yeshivos and learning

throughout the world. In the last 50 years the number of Jewish day school has leapt

from 30 to 570.19 Everything “old,” was started over again anew. And now, we find

ourselves yet again in this cycle of destruction. This time in the form of America, the

destruction of the spiritual world.

     Through statistics done in 200120 there was a calculation of 13.8 million Jews in the

world, and only 1.7-1.8 million of those were Orthodox. That is only one 7th of the

Jewish nation fully affiliated with the Torah.

     Alan M. Dershowitz conducted a predictive study21 of taking 200 Jews of all different

statuses in religion practice. The category of non orthodox Jews were not predicted to



17
   Torah Im Derech Eretz – collected writings of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch
18
   The Chtam Sofer established his shita of ‫ חדש אסור מן התורה‬because of this.
19
   Rupture and Reconstruction : the Transformation of contemporary orthodoxy – Haym Soloveitchik
20
   World Jewish Population, Ner LeElef
21
   The Vanishing American Jew Chapter One
Shyndee Mandel
Moreshet 06-07
Essay for Rabbi Edelstein
have more than 48 Jewish descendants four generations down the line. The 400 chareidi

and centrist orthodox Jews were expected to have 5,175 Jewish descendents.

     Although majority of the population do not care about their Jewish background22, it

can be agreed that the „ism‟ of the late 20th and early 21st century can be rightfully

labelled „returnism‟ where you will find ba‟alei tshuvot in almost every country. Middle-

aged adults are stopping their life in its prime and are ready to admit that what they

thought was their life‟s purpose was wrong and picking up and moving to a totally new

and unfamiliar lifestyle. Teenagers at the beginning of their road of opportunities

discover emptiness and start the search for truth. We are living in a phenomenal time,

where these miracles happen daily.

     Yet, while the quantity of the religious population is rising, there is a problem with the

quality of the already religious community. Why is it that people are living their life

without thought to what the Torah really means, to what‟s dictating their life and why?

Why is it that people find it so hard to fulfill the commandment of treating the Torah as if

it was accepted today?23 How can we get the passion into our lives to make all the

commandments worthwhile?

     In 2000 there were 17,000 Israelis in India for Pesach vacation.24 What were they

looking for? They have all they could need within arm‟s reach. A person cannot live

without a passion in their life, it is vital for survival and if they cannot find it in Judaism

they look for it in the ashrams in the East.




22
    54% of American Jews marry out. Jewish population statistics – Lisa Katz
23
   ‫פרשת יתרו יט:א – רש"י‬
24
   Israelis, orthodoxy, and Indian culture - Shalom Goldman – associate professor of Hebrew in Dpt. Of
Middle Eastern Studies
Shyndee Mandel
Moreshet 06-07
Essay for Rabbi Edelstein
      Many people when asked why they do a particular Mitzvah cannot give a proper,

concrete answer to why they are doing it. How can one be passionate about doing

something without know the reason behind it? If they would put as much effort into frum

teenagers as they do with kiruv programs, there would be less problems25. The regular

schools do not teach reasons behind the commandments, the basics, and therefore their

products do not know, and so they cannot complete them properly. Everything becomes

habit, something that is just done, as is brushing your teeth in the morning, you wash

your hands and you make a bracha.


Not everybody needs to know reasons, it is only a minority of people. The critical

problem is now, like 2000 years ago the value of the Torah and the value of being a

religious Jew is being lost. The ‫ 62מכתב אליהו‬brings down a parable of a king coming to

greet his subjects. The mayor of the city established a dress code for everybody to wear

and a speech for all the citizens to memorize and tell over to the king. When the king

arrived everything was ready for him, the mayor stepped forward and recited the speech,

followed by each person. When they reached the 2,017th person, this speech was said in a

monotonous flat voice, for why does the king want to hear the same thing over and over

again, what did he have to offer?

      This is what religious Jew may feel, what does it matter if he does something or he

doesn‟t do it? Everybody‟s doing the same thing, if I won‟t do it then someone else will.

But God gave each person their own individual strengths and abilities to be their own

person. Each Jew has his own value and it is his responsibility to live it up to the utmost.



25
     Rabbi Rapoport
26
     Rabbi E. Dessler – Strive for Truth volume 1 p.79
Shyndee Mandel
Moreshet 06-07
Essay for Rabbi Edelstein
     In the days of prophecy, it was so clear that God existed that it would have taken away

the free will of man. Therefore they had the ‫ יצר הרע‬for ‫ עבודה זרה‬to balance it out so that

there would be bechira. When the drive for idolatry was removed, ‫ נבואה‬needed to leave

as well so that there would still be bechira left. Since there is no more clear indication of

God, i.e. no more prophecy it is very hard to break out of this apathy, to reach the high

levels of spirituality, to be passionate about what one does. The heart is constantly

clogged up by materialism causing a shadow blocking the divine light from shining

through.27 It is brought down by the story of Eisav and his father Yitzchok. “‫”כי ציד בפיו‬

meaning that Eisav would ask halakhic questions so that Yiztchok would think that he

was doing the right things. It was not that Yitzchok was fooled by Eisav rather, Eisav

was trapped with his mouth, he would talk about everything but he refused to swallow

them, to internalize them so they remained on the outside.28

     When one struggles to do a certain thing then it becomes theirs and they are passionate

about it. Once the struggle is over, so is the excitement. People that live by rote are out

of the realms of bechira and the choice is not theirs anymore, which explains why it is so

hard to feel what they are doing, they are barely doing it. People can even have the fear

of God out of habit.29 The challenge of today is not to go back to the days of the old

struggles but to live in the world as it is now, to wrestle and find constant spiritual

growth. One element in this daily struggle is to enjoy what you are doing, to find the

simcha in serving God for the sake of serving God, and to understand the value that each

person has in fulfilling his role.



27
   Rabbi E. Dessler – Strive for truth volume 2 p. 209
28
   Rabbi E. Dessler – Strive for Truth volume 3 p.67
29
   Rabbi Miller - Toronto
Shyndee Mandel
Moreshet 06-07
Essay for Rabbi Edelstein
   Because the percentage of observant Jews is small in comparison to the rest of our

nation, it is so important that the Jews who are practising are doing it properly If they, if

we fail to do this, if we live without the passion, what will we pass it on to the next

generation? The gemara when talking about ‫ ,ברכת התורה‬brings down that a cause for

children of tzadikkim that leave the path of their fathers is because they do not have the

right concentration while saying the brachot. It is impossible to teach something when

the message that one gives by saying and by doing is different.

   Today‟s generation has produced a legacy of mediocrity. A survey was taken of bais

yaakov girls asking them if they‟d rather not to have been born Jewish. MAJORITY OF

THEM ANSWERED YES!! There seems to be no urgency to be Jewish, and no

importance attached to Judaism. Being religious has become just something you do, and

really, who needs it?

  When the Jews immigrated to the United States in the early 1900s, they struggled to

make ends meet whilst still keeping Shabbos. When every Shabbos would come around

they would sigh and utter in despair “how hard to be a Jew, it‟s so hard to be a Jew”. It is

no wonder then that so many of their children left the path of their father. Who needs it?

Is the cycle to happen yet another time? Are we destined to just repeat the same mistakes

until God needs to bring us another reminder? Can we not learn from the last 5000 years

of mistakes, not learn even from 60 years ago. Did our fathers suffer in vain just to watch

it unfold all over again?

  In the past, the eagle of ‫ כי תבוא‬symbolized curses and suffering. The sign of the

Romans and the Nazis was an eagle as well as America‟s to follow. If we do our part and

realize the importance of being a Jew and succeed in fulfilling the role properly, a
Shyndee Mandel
Moreshet 06-07
Essay for Rabbi Edelstein
renewed passion for Torah can bring a new symbol, redemption as the eagle of ‫.משיח‬
Shyndee Mandel
Moreshet 06-07
Essay for Rabbi Edelstein


Bibliography
Dershowitz, Alan M. The Vanishing         ‫תנ"ך – מפרשים: רש"י‬
American Jew                                       ‫בבא מציעא‬
Dessler Eliyahu Strive For Truth                     ‫בבא קמא‬
Goldman, Shalom Israeli‟s Orthodoxy                     ‫יומא‬
and Indian Culture                                     ‫פםחים‬
Hirsch, Samson Raphael Torah Im             ‫מהר"ל – דרך החיים‬
Derech Eretz                              ‫מהר"ל תפארת ישראל‬
Kagen, Jeremy The Jewish Self
Katz, Lisa Jewish Population Statistics
Ner LeElef World Jewish Population
Oxford Dictionary
Soloveitchik, Haym Rupture and
Reconstruction
Tatz, Akiva Worldmasks

				
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