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Parshas R'Ay - Leaving Your Mark                    28 Av 5779

08/22/19 23:05:54


As we all know, San Diego is a popular vacation and business destination. While businesspeople travel to San Diego year round to attend meetings, conventions, seminars, and the like, they are different than the tourist crowd. Although when a guest appears in Shul, I ask, “Are you here on business or for pleasure,” when they respond that they are here on business, I respond, “Your business here should be pleasurable.” On the other hand, Jewish tourists tend to visit our fair city at specific times of the year, depending upon their children’s school/yeshiva schedules, These calendar breaks also apply to winter vacation,. Some schools follow the secular school calendar, so vacations coincide with the non-Jewish holidays; other schools intentionally create a designated week-long break in January or February. The summer vacation is also organized around similar schedule issues. Some schools are off the full months of July and August while others schedule their summer breaks during the month of Av, resuming school the beginning of Elul. As we head into the new school year for everyone (after Labor Day and Rosh Chodesh Elul), I want to take a look back at some of the highlights and accomplishments of the past summer.

I am proud of the fact that Beth Jacob is a popular destination for so many tourists who come from the full spectrum of Judaism. Sephardim, Ashkenazim, observant and more observant, locals and foreigners all enter our Shul not only feeling welcome but also are immediately made to feel at home. We strive to provide an environment that is welcoming and warm, driving home the point that we openly make every effort to make every visitor’s stay that much more enjoyable, if that is even possible! The help we offer is accepted with appreciation and gratitude by our visitors, often expressing amazement at the warmth of our community At the end of their stay, whether it was a day or a week or more, I ask them if this was their first time to San Diego. If they say yes, I tell them “it won’t be their last visit either; they’ll be back, and we’ll look forward to their return.

Typically, the shul gets used - and abused - from the playground outside to the bathrooms inside and everything in between: the building and premises get used. the kelim mikva, Moishe’s Grill, our shul is a place to regroup and use as a base of operation. And still, this is the least of what we have to offer. The heaviest usage, without a doubt, are within the four walls of the Beis Medrash where davening, learning and the planning of vacation days take place daily. I announce to visitors and guests that the air conditioning blows all day, the lights burn throughout the night, water, tea and coffee available 24/6. The wear and tear on the Shul take its toll, but then again we are here to help and serve Klal Yisroel. Due in part to our hospitality, guests and visitors leave donations to the Shul for all these various reasons, either on-line, contribute cash to the office, write a check or use a credit card for donations. Some actually make use of the pink donation envelopes we have in the Beis Medrash. Last week I pulled one of these pink donation envelopes from the Tzedakah box. On the surface the two-dollar donation seems minimal, but the message is priceless!

On the inside flap of these donation envelopes are choices as to how the visitor wants the donation to be directed - general fund, youth activities, library fund, etc. In the comment section someone wrote, “Ripped pg in a סידור”. Click here Mi K’Amcha Yisroel - Who is like Your people, Yisroel? A prayer book is used for praying, and if used in the normal way, then a person would not be liable to pay damages if it rips. Of course, if it was negligence then he would be liable. My guess is the person was not negligent; it was accidental, yet he still felt obligated to pay something for it. The deeper reason is things that belong to a shul are known as ‘Mamon Hekdesh’ - holy money. While the Beis HaMikdash stood, there was a Mitzva M’ilah: using holy things for personal, use which is a grave sin. The halacha is similar today in that the shul has sanctity. e should not use shul property for personal use unless permission is granted. People did not take things from the Beis HaMikdash because it was “just there”; it was forbidden to take without paying for it. Today’s shul is the representation of the Beis Hamikdash; no one should think the shul is obligated to offer something for people to use just because it’s there. Holy, consecrated things could be used if there is compensation for it. These words ring no louder than in the Torah.

In this week’s Parsha R’Ay the Torah states in Devarim 12:8 “לא תעשון ככל אשר אנחנו עשים פה היום איש כל הישר בעיניו": “You will then not be able to do everything that we are doing, [where each] person does what is right in his eyes.” *Rav Meir Dan Plotsky, in his commentary Kli Chemdah on Torah, explains this verse is a warning to the Jewish people. The warning was about how life would be different in Eretz Yisrael than it was during their time in the desert. Do not think that you will be able to do here in Israel that which you did in the desert. There was no obligation on any individual to bring Olah and sacrificial offerings to the Mishkan, rather every man could do whatever appeared right in his eyes. There was no obligation to bring a Korban, an animal, tithings in the desert for those Mitzvos are dependent and connected to the land of Israel. Sure, they brought sacrifices in the desert, but they were optional and of their free will in contrast to when they were in The Land. In Eretz Yisrael it was no longer optional; it was a requirement. Only after arriving and settling the land were the Bnei Yisrael at rest and ease and therefore had time to undertake these Mitzvos as an obligation. Up until that point the Jews were busy in the desert, traveling from place to place with minimal rest, knowing that at any moment they would need to pack up and go. Hashem did not add the obligation of bringing a korban or sacrifice during the forty years in the desert.

With the Beis HaMikdash destroyed and the Jewish people in exile, the Shechina, God’s presence, is found within the shuls and Batei Midrashim. The Kedusha and holiness exists in these places, thereby the premises and their contents are considered holy. If damaged, restitution is an obligation. Even if one would argue the point of not being obligated, I think everyone would agree that we should not look to take things from the shuls and Batei Midrashim. Rather, we should give and pay because it is considered holy money. These items are forbidden to be used for personal benefit unless authorized for ordinary, day to day usage. If we begin treating our holy houses with proper respect, we will prove that we are worthy to see the return of the Shechina in the permanent Third Beis HaMikdash!!!

Ah Gut Shabbos

Rabbi Avraham Bogopulsky


*Meir Dan Plotsky 1866 - 1928 was the President of Kollel Polen. He was a Talmudic scholar who authored the Kli Chemdah, a commentary on the Torah. He also authored the Chemdas Yisrael on Sefer ha-Mitzvot.

Plotsky was the son of Rabbi Chaim Yitzchak Ber Plotzker of Kutno, who was first a follower of Rav Chanoch Henich of Alexander, but who then became a follower of the Sfas Emes of Ger. At the age of nine, Plotsky was sent to learn in the yeshiva of Rabbi Chaim Eliezer Wax, the Nefesh Chayah, in Kalisz, president of Kupat Rabbi Meir Baal HaNes Kollel Polen. Shortly before his bar mitzvah, he became a disciple of Rabbi Avrohom Bornsztain (the Avnei Nezer), first Sochatchover Rebbe, whom he considered his lifelong rebbe muvhak (primary Torah teacher).

Plotsky married at the age of 15 and spent the next 10 years in Dvohrt with his in-laws. In 1891, he became Rav in Dvohrt. Later he helped expose the forged Yerushalmi on Kodshim, claimed to be discovered by Shlomzo Yehuda Friedlander, who also claimed he was a Sefardi named Shlomo Yehuda Algazi. At the age of 36 Rav Plotsky published his work on the Sefer Hamitzvos of Maimonides, called Chemdas Yisrael. In 1918, he became Rav of Ostrov-Mozbaisk in eastern Poland. He was voted chairman of Agudas Harabbanim of Poland, a prelude to Agudat Israel. At the age of 60, he left the rabbinate to head a large yeshiva in Warsaw, known simply as the Mesivta

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