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Parshas B'Haaloscha - The Clock Never Stops Ticking      20 Sivan 5780

06/12/20 13:08:00


One of my responsibilities as a Rabbi/clergyman is visiting people in hospital and care facilities. For me, it is an extra perk: first, of course, it is my duty, but on top of that I receive heavenly reward as well. To the perceptive mind and eye, there is something that hangs on the wall opposite each bed - a pull-off page calendar that marks the current day’s date, or at least a white board on the wall which has the day’s date and an update of other information for the patient. No one should ever need to go to a hospital, but for those who have had that experience, we understand how time seems to stand still. An incredibly sad Covid-19 story with a good ending tells about a Jewish man who was put onto a ventilator before Pesach and came out of it a few weeks after Pesach. One of the first things he said was, “When is the Seder?” He had completely lost all sense of time. I feel the same goes for the last three and a half months. I need to look at the calendar to know what day of the week it is as well as checking the current date and sometimes even what year we are in! One of our dedicated Daf Yomi attendees posted a meme about time, “I am not adding this year to my age; I did not use it!”

But besides a calendar or a watch, there are other indicators and reminders which serve to give us a sense of time. We associate people with time and time with people. When I try to remember something that happened in the past, I need an aid to remember. One method I use to calculate or to figure out when something took place is I think about an individual or family who were in the community or around me at that time. As my family and I close in on the completing of two dozen years at Beth Jacob, I look back at the many different people who have come and gone. As time goes by, the frames of time become clouded and blurred, sometimes making it difficult to remember when someone arrived or left the San Diego Jewish community.

San Diego, in general, tends to be a transient community. People come and people go. Perhaps this is the trend of our generation in all places throughout the world generally, but especially in the Jewish world. I often think what the community would look like if everyone who came just stayed and did not move away. To be fair and objective, I would have to look at the community as though no newcomers arrived at all. In other words, life is a balance of people and circumstances in all scenarios.

The idea of time standing still is not a new phenomenon for the Jewish people. We traveled in the desert for forty years with the same weather, the same food, the same clothing and the same living quarters. In fact, the Jews complained about many of those issues, especially the food and water supply. Even internal family squabbles erupted between Aharon and Miriam against their brother Moshe. Over this period there were religious issues and concerns of not being able to perform the Korban Pesach, resolving the issue with Pesach Sheini. I think this all sounds awfully familiar to us now with regard to our much shorter “shelter at home” order. With all that has transpired in our world over the last few months from the medical /health issues to the social unrest we are witnessing, I at least feel as though I am wandering through a fog of time. I do not have all the answers to the issues, but I can and will share an insight for each and everyone of us to think about concerning making the world a better place.

In this week’s parshas B’Haaloscha Moshe instructs Aharon to light the Menora. The Torah states in Bamidbar 8:2 "דבר אל אהרן ואמרת אליו, בהעלתך את הנרות אל מול פני המנורה יאירו שבעת הנרות" “Speak to Aharon and say to him, ‘When you light the lamps, the seven lamps shall illuminate the Menorah”. Rashi explains that this act and command to Aharon was a gift to him and the Kohanim for future generations. But Rashi, describing the lighting writes, "שאתה מדליק ומטיב את הנרות" “for you should light them and then clean the lamps”. In his sefer Panim Yafos *Rav Pinchas Ben Zvi Hirsch Horowitz comments that those actions should be reversed: first clean the candlesticks and then light them. He explains that in reality this may be reversed, but in purpose the given order is correct. The first thing a person needs to do is get the light going, fire it up and then clear its path. Sometimes, just the light and the resulting flame will clean and clear out some of the debris. The lesson and message for us today is that we need to just light the candle and the menorah. That light will, in turn, reflect, thereby lighting up the other things around it. More importantly, once a fire is lit and the candle burns, the light that it gives off is timeless. The long -lasting effects of the light which, of course, is brought through the learning of Torah and fulfilling the mitzvos, will continue to shine, clearing away the debris, opening the path of justice and purity. Each and every one of us should strive to light up our own lives, to clear the path, to clean up that which is around us, creating clarity of light for the Jewish people and the world that we live in.

Ah Gut Shabbos

Rabbi Avraham Bogopulsky

*HOROWITZ, Pinchas Ben Ẓvi Hirsch Ha-Levi (1730–1805), German rabbi. Horowitz was born in Czortkow, Poland, where his father was rabbi. He studied first under his father and then under his two brothers, Nachum (introduction to the Shevet Aḥim) and Shmuel Shmelke *Horowitz, later rabbi of Nikolsburg. During that period the two brothers were attracted to the circle of *Dov Baer of Mezhirech. Rav Pinchas Horowitz visited Dov Baer, first in Mezhirech and then in Rovno. As a result of these visits, he made the acquaintance of *Shneur Zalman of Lyady, the founder of *Chabad Ḥasidism.


Rav Horowitz was rabbi at first of Witkowo, Poland and then of Lachowicze (1764). In 1771 he accepted a call to the rabbinate of Frankfurt, a post he held until his death. During his later years he was frequently ill and eventually became totally blind. Horowitz was held in the highest esteem by the rabbis and scholars of Frankfurt. Particularly noteworthy was the cordial relationship which existed between Rav Horowitz and Nathan Maas, Av (father) of the Bet Din of Frankfurt and author of the Binyan Shelomo. Rav Horowitz maintained a close and friendly relationship with Nathan *Adler, although he opposed him in certain matters and later was one of the signatories to the 1779 proclamation signed by the leaders and rabbis of the community against Adler because of his cḥasidic leanings. His congregants also admired Horowitz because of his saintliness and integrity. On one occasion Rav Horowitz gave assistance to a Catholic priest who was in distress. Horowitz had a private *minyan where he followed the Sephardi rite, whereas the traditional Ashkenazi rite of Frankfurt was otherwise followed.


Horowitz vigorously opposed the *Haskalah movement. On the eve of the new moon of Tammuz 1782 he preached a powerful sermon (known as Tokhaḥat Musar, "ethical rebuke") against Mendelssohn's German translation of the Pentateuch and its commentary, the Be'ur (Biur). In this sermon, regarded as the first public statement reflecting fierce opposition to the Haskalah, Horowitz referred to the Biur as a work "which resuscitated heretical works in scoffing at the words of our sages." The opinion has been expressed that his opposition to the translation was directed chiefly against the special system of translation and the "dogmatic tone" of the commentary and not against the translation itself. It should be noted that despite his polemics against the aims of the Haskalah movement, he did not refuse to give his approbation to the German translation of the festival prayer book of Wolf *Heidenheim. In 1795. Rav Horowitz issued a ban on the proposed establishment of a teaching institute in Frankfurt, fearing that it would result in a diminution of the study of religious subjects, but under pressure from the civic authorities, he was compelled to rescind the ban. On the other hand, he was keenly focused on the contemporary problems of the community and participated actively in the concern of the communal council to create a harmonious relationship with the government Conspicuous among his prominent pupils was Moses *Sofer, author of the Chasam Sofer, who revered Rav Horowitz for his talmudic genius and his halakhic authority. He stated that despite Horowitz' attraction to Chasidism, he was averse to giving expression to cḥasidic or kabbalistic ideas. In the view of many scholars, the whole tradition of Horowitz' Chasidism is open to doubt.


The most important of Horowitz' works, on which his fame chiefly rests, is the Sefer Hafla'ah, in three parts: pt. 1, Sefer Ketubbah (Offenbach, 1787), consists of halakhic and aggadic novellae on tractate Ketubbot with an appendix entitled Shevet Aḥim on the Shulḥan Arukh Even ha-Ezer, laws of ketubbah chapters 66–118; pt. 2, Sefer ha-Makneh (ibid., 1801), to tractate Kiddushin and to Even ha-Ezer, 26–45. Horowitz wrote a homiletical introduction to these parts entitled Pitḥa Ze'ira. The Hafla'ah to tractate Berakhot and on the laws of meat and milk (1895) and on various tractates (3 vols., 1900) were published posthumously. Among his other works the best known is part 3 of Sefer Hafla'ah, his commentary to the Pentateuch, Panim Yafot (Ostrog, 1824), published by Ephraim Zalman *Margulies. That the 1876 Warsaw edition is still in print is evidence of the continued popularity of this work. In this commentary pilpulistic halakhic expositions are combined with kabbalistic and ḥasidic elements. He also wrote Shevet Aḥim in two parts; pt. 1 Netivot le-Shabbat, a commentary to Even ha-Ezer 1–23 (1838), pt. 2 Givat Pinḥas, 83 responsa (1838). A commentary to Psalms entitled Panim Yafot, collected from his various works was published by Pincḥas Finkelstein (1924). Various explanations by him of scriptural verses are found scattered in the works of his contemporaries and pupils. A commentary on the Passover Haggadah appeared in 1860 (reprinted in Jerusalem, 1994). On the occasion of the coronation ceremonies of the emperors Leopold ii and Francis ii in the years 1790/92 he compiled special prayers which were issued with German translations.

Mon, January 25 2021 12 Shevat 5781