when Jews enjoy sovereign control over Jerusalem we may cease observing Asara Betevet and Shiva Asar Betammuz? The question is strengthened by the accepted practice not to perform Kriah upon seeing the city of Jerusalem because it is under Israeli sovereignty (unlike the Temple Mount, for which we must still perform Kriah). An answer might be that these three fasts are essentially branches and extensions of the fast of Tisha Beav, since Tisha Beav is a day of mourning for all of the tragedies that befell the Jews. Thus, only when we will not observe Tisha Beav will we cease to observe the other three fasts.
Rav Soloveitchik and Yom Hashoah Accordingly, we can appreciate Rav Soloveitchik's attitude regarding Yom Hashoah. He felt that we should subsume Yom Hashoah into our observance of Tisha Beav, as Tisha Beav is the day that is designated to mourn for all Jewish tragedies. Indeed, Rav Aharon Lichtenstein related (at the 5760 convention of the Rabbinical Council of America) that the Rav convinced Prime Minister Menachem Begin to make this change, when Begin met the Rav during a visit Begin made to the United States in 1978. We should parenthetically note that I heard from Rav Aharon Soloveitchik (in a talk to students at Yeshiva University in 1986) that Menachem Begin's father, Dov Begin, served as Rav Chaim Soloveitchik's Gabbai in Brisk, Lithuania, and the two enjoyed a particularly close relationship. Thus, there is a history of a warm relationship between the families of the Rav and Prime Minister Begin. Rav Lichtenstein relates that when Prime Minister Begin returned to Israel after meeting with the Rav, the former tried to convince the appropriate authorities to make the change. The Israeli government did not make the change due to pragmatic concerns such as the fact that the Israeli education system would not have an opportunity to teach about the Holocaust, since Tisha Beav is observed when Israeli schools are on vacation. Perhaps in the future a change will be made. Rabbi Yosef Adler, principal of the Torah Academy of Bergen County (who is a devoted student of the Rav), notes that until the broader community makes the change we should observe Yom Hashoah on the twenty-seventh of Nissan. Rabbi Adler explains that until we properly integrate commemoration of the Shoah into Tisha Beav observances, we should observe Yom Hashoah on the twenty-seventh day of Nissan. He says that it is better to remember the Holocaust on Yom Hashoah with the rest of the Jewish community, than to neglect it altogether. Indeed, Rav Soloveitchik once told me that one who studies about the Nazi Holocaust fulfills the Mitzva of remembering what Amalek has done to us. This comment is consistent with Rav Moshe Soloveitchik's (the Rav told me that people inaccurately attribute this comment to Rav Chaim) celebrated comment that anyone who identifies with the ideology of Amalek (baseless
Conclusion Rav Soloveitchik believes that Tisha Beav is the designated day for mourning all Jewish tragedies, including the Holocaust. We hope that the broader Jewish community will agree to observe Yom Hashoah on Tisha Beav. Until then, we should observe Yom Hashoah on the twenty-seventh day of Nissan. We eagerly anticipate the time when Tisha Beav will be a day of rejoicing for the Jewish People, when we will no longer know of sorrow and tragedy.
Halacha of the Week I asked the Rav (in 1983) if he felt it appropriate to purchase a German produced automobile. Rav Soloveitchik responded that he was not sure, because a conflict of Torah values is involved. On one hand, the Torah commands us to remember what Amalek did to us. On the other hand, the Torah believes that the children should not be punished for the sins of their parents. Rav Soloveitchik said that each individual should follow his moral intuition regarding this matter. Rav Avraham Shapira (the former Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel) expressed similar sentiments when I posed this question to him in 1984.
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From: National Council of Young Israel [YI_Torah@lb.bcentral.com] Sent: Wednesday, May 29, 2002 9:41 AM To: List Member Subject: Parshat Behalotcha
21 Sivan 5762 June 1, 2002 Daf Yomi: Baba Batra 73
Guest Rabbi: RABBI MENDEL KAUFMAN Young Israel of Briarwood, NY
This D'var Torah is written in memory of my father Yisroel Meir Ben Chaim Tzvi z”l whose Yahrzeit is on 26 Sivan. All of the traditional commentators are puzzled
by the placement of Parshat HaMenorah at the beginning of Parshat Behalotcha, immediately following the long recitation of the offerings of the tribal leaders. Rashi, quoting from the Tanchuma, explains that Aaron was chagrined that his tribe, the Leviim, had not participated in the dedication of the Mishkan and the insertion of Parshat HaMenorah, which discusses the privilege of lighting the Menorah, was brought forward to serve as a sort of compensation.
I would like to suggest that the placement of Parshat HaMenorah at the beginning of Parshat Behalotcha serves an additional function. It provides a framework for a sedra which otherwise seems disjointed and lacking in a cohesive structure. If not for the framing of the Parsha, as it were, with Parshat HaMenorah, we would experience the sedra as a series of unrelated topics and events, which took place during Bnai Yisroel's sojourn in the dessert. How does Parshat HaMenorah unify the sedra? The Menorah, we learn, was built from one solid ingot of gold and consisted of various components and ornamentation. These included the branches (kanim), cups (gevi'im), knobs (kaftorim) and blossoms (perachim).
Our Chachomim tell us that each component of the four minim taken during the holiday of Succot represents a different type of a Jew. The etrog represents the most righteous Jew, the willow the lowest type of Jew with the Lulav and Hadassim representing those in between. We are then instructed to bring them together in a demonstration of cohesiveness and membership of every type of Jew.
In a similar sense, the different components of the Menorah can be said to represent different types of Jews. The branches represent the leaders of the nation of Israel holding and supporting while responsible for the overall stability of the nation. The cups represent the teachers who are the source of knowledge. The flame, which burns in the cups, is representative of the light of Torah. The knobs represent the simplest Jew, with their absence of utility; they are simple, unadorned elements in the design. And the last element, the blossoms, can be said to represent the repentant Jew who displays spiritual growth and development and is an ornament that enhances the beauty of the Menorah.
At the core of our sedra we encounter several different groups of Jews. The sedra begins with the consecration of the Levites. The Levites are the teachers of Klal Yisrael and serve in the Temple and can be said to be represented by the cups fixed in the Menorah as they bring the light of Torah to those whom they encounter. We then encounter the next group of Jews who were denied the opportunity to bring the Pascal lamb in its proper time because they were spiritually unclean. They presented their disappointment to Moshe who consulted with HaShem and afforded these people a second opportunity, which was to become the Pesach Sheni. These people are represented by the blossoms fixed in the Menorah for they display spiritual growth and are an example of the gracious response that HaShem extends to those who seek a second opportunity. The next group we encounter is composed of complainers who expressed their dissatisfaction with the Manna and whined for meat as they nostalgically recalled their experiences in Egypt. This group is represented by the knobs found on the Menorah. This lowest type of Jew was goading HaShem to see whether the Al-Mighty had the ability to satisfy their craving for meat (Soforno). The final group that we encounter in this Sedra is the newly formed Sanhedrin, comprised of seventy men. These are the leaders of the people, represented by the branches of the Menorah. Thus we see that the Parshat HaMenorah, placed in the beginning of the Sedra, acts as a unifying theme that represents all the different kinds of Jew that we encounter in the Sedra itself. Furthermore, Parshat HaMenorah reminds us that every Jew, from the most spiritually uplifted to the lowest, are all an integral part of the national Menorah. This point is stressed even more dramatically by the insistence that the Menorah be constructed from only one ingot of gold, thus demonstrating that each element is an indivisible part of the whole.
This approach may also explain the difficulty that Moshe experienced in reference to the Menorah. As Rashi notes, Moshe had difficulty conceptualizing the Menorah until HaShem actually provided him with a model and pointed to a celestial Menorah saying, "So shall you make the Menorah". Moshe's difficulty was in his inability to understand how such diverse groups could be united into one united whole - "Miksha" - and form a cohesive nation. It was this very unity, despite diversity, that HaShem deemed possible and demonstrated it to Moshe. Looking at the Menorah, as a representation of the diverse elements of the Jewish people will allow us appreciate the Midrash, which states, "your opening words enlighten". The commentators explain that each element of the Menorah represents another one of the five books of the Torah. The seven branches of the Menorah are reflective of the seven words in the first sentence of sefer Bereshit. In sefer Shemot the first sentence has eleven words, which corresponds to the eleven buttons while in the first verse of sefer Vayikra there are nine words, which coincide with the nine blossoms. In sefer Bamidbar there are seventeen words, which equal the height of the Menorah, which according to some opinions was seventeen tefachim high (other opinions suggest a height of eighteen tefachim). Finally, the first sentence in sefer Devarim has twenty-two words and corresponds to the identical number of cups on the Menorah. The Menorah is thus representative of the entire Torah. According to tradition the Torah has six hundred thousand letters each one corresponding to another Jewish soul suggesting that every Jewish is precious and inherently critical to the well-being of the whole. For the Halacha states that if one letter is missing the entire Torah is rendered posul.
The Talmud (Babba Basra) tells us that if one would like to acquire wisdom he should pray towards the southerly direction consistent with the placement of the Menorah, which represents the wisdom of Torah, and stood on the south side of the Temple. In today's critical times there is little question that we need wisdom and insight to sustain the Jewish people and the land of Israel. We need to look in the direction of