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The Tragedy of Strife

How Fighting Destroys Families, Communities and Nations

39 min

Class Summary:

"If a matter eludes you in judgment, between blood and blood, between judgment and judgment, or between lesion and lesion, words of dispute in your cities, then you shall rise and go up to the place the Lord, your G-d, chooses,” states the Torah in the portion of Shoftim.

The greatest Kabbalist in Jewish history, Rabbi Isaac Luria (16th century), interprets this verse to be addressing the historical enigma of the disproportionate suffering of the Jewish people; suffering which seems to be in complete contrast to the systems of justice G-d Himself established in the Torah! He explains that this is all caused by the quarrels, strife, and dissension among Jews themselves.

This class explores the tragedy of strife and explains the extraordinary blessing when there is unity and love.

The Midrash makes a powerful contrast between two biblical generations of Jews, one pagan and the other monotheistic. The generation living during the reign of the evil King Achav was full of pagan idol worshippers. Yet, these sinful Jews were victorious in their wars against their enemies. Why? Because of their mutual accord and respect; they learned to like each other and get along.

On the other hand, the generation of Jews living during the reign of King David was very religious and observant, clinging ferociously to the Jewish faith in a single universal G-d. Yet they died in war. Why? The sages say, because they despised and informed upon each other.

The ultimate test for the integrity and spirituality of a human being in Judaism is not in one’s scholarship, faith or religious observance, but in our capacity to love the stranger, to transcend the ego, and to escape the traps of divisiveness and hate.

Please leave your comment below!

  • יש

    ישראל ש -1 year ago

    Thank you for the wonderful classes 

    Do you remember where the sfas emes you mentioned in middle of the shiur is

    It is 21 minutes towards the end of the shiur

    Thank you 

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  • C

    Chanie -6 years ago

    Amos

    Exile of 10 tribes - see נבואת עמוס for cause

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  • Y

    Yehuda -10 years ago

    Peice
    What is the meaning of the last words of the Arizal that it is through Torah? This seems to imply that if true peice can only be while following the torah?

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  • S

    Susana -11 years ago

    Muy interesante!
    Muy cierto todo lo enseñado por el Rabino Jacobson!

    Muchas gracias, por hacer posible la difusión en Español.

    Felicitaciones!

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  • L

    leonel -11 years ago

    exelente
    los felicito

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  • M

    Marcos -11 years ago

    Muy bueno!
    Muy bueno el video!!!

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  • M

    Michale -12 years ago

    Not the Time for Silence, by Rabbi Lazer Brody, shlita (Lazer Beams)
    Not the Time for Silence, by Rabbi Lazer Brody, shlita (Lazer Beams)

    Thursday, September 01, 2011



    Yesterday evening, we ushered in the new month of Elul, the month of

    teshuva and the last month of the Jewish New Year. This was the day

    that Moses began his 40-day prayer stint atop Mount Sinai, begging

    Hashem to forgive the Children of Israel for the golden calf fiasco.

    The forty days ended on Yom Kippur, when Hashem told Moses, salachti

    kidvarecha - "I have forgiven as you have requested."



    Yesterday I met with one of Israel's leading rabbis. I asked him,

    "Honorable Rabbi, why are all our spiritual leaders silent in the face

    of everything our people are facing now? Why don't they get up and

    speak? Why are you silent?"



    The Rabbi answered me, "Our people are broken. They can't stomach any

    chastising now. We shouldn't speak if they won't listen. Besides, it

    will only make things worse."



    I humbly disagreed. I told the Rabbi that in the army, the only way to

    bring a shell-shocked soldier out of his stupor is to slap him in the

    face. I also told him that in my humble opinion, all our troubles are

    the result of continued intramural hatred. Sure, there are so many

    wonderful things about our people - their Torah, the thousands of new

    BTs, mutual aid societies of every shape and form. But, the petty

    jealousies and the stupid infighting are still there - both of which

    are manifestations of lack of emuna. The Rabbi shrugged, indicating

    that the discussion was over.



    Business as usual? Yesterday, we lost another magnificent tzaddik,

    Rabbi Moshe Yosef Reichenberg of Monsey, of blessed memory. Rabbi

    Reichenberg gave his life trying to save a child who in all likelihood

    he didn't even know. This was an act of the greatest form of ahavat

    Yisrael that can be. I have no doubt that Rabbi Reichenberg has

    already been ushered in the highest portals of Gan Eden.



    Leiby Kletzky, Baba Elazar, and now Rabbi Moshe Yosef Reichenberg, all

    of saintly and blessed memory. Who needs more martyrs? Sorry Rabbi,

    I'm tired of funerals and Katyusha rockets. And what about Syria's

    doomsday arsenal of the most unthinkable deadly chemical warheads, all

    aimed at us? And what about a whole new stream of weapons pouring into

    Gaza from Libya? And what about the new wave of terror from Egypt and

    from the so-called Palestinian Authority? And what about the continued

    bombing of Israel's south? And what about Egypt's new regime that also

    wants to destroy us, starting with Eilat? And what about the

    back-to-back earthquake and hurricane in the USA? Is Hashem not

    raising the volume to make us listen? In 3 short weeks, the nations of

    the world will try to delegitimize our country by recognizing our

    enemy's so-called right to a homeland on our tiny piece of G-d given

    real estate. Do you know what that means? How can you be quiet?



    Honorable Rabbi, with such a stormy start of Elul, you - who so many

    people look up to - can no longer be quiet. As a leader of our people,

    it's your task to raise your voice even if it's not the most popular

    thing to do right now. Now is a time for action. Being frum doesn't

    help much if you turn your nose up at a dark-skinned Jew. When Rabbi

    Moshe Yosef Reichenberg jumped out of his car in the middle of a

    hurricane to save a little boy, he didn't ask the injured lad what

    shtiebel his father davened in. Rabbi Moshe Yosef acted like Hashem's

    bravest commando. That's how we all must act - with dedication and

    willingness to risk everything for a fellow Jew, no matter who he or

    she is.



    I'm sorry, Rabbi. You have forgotten more Torah than I have learned. I

    am dust at your shoes. But I'm sick of the sacrifices and sick of

    seeing my neighbors wince every time they hear a siren. Hashem expects

    us to cry out in behalf of our people and to repair what we need to

    repair. That's exactly what Moshe Rabbenu did for the 40 days that

    begin today. Please forgive my insolence, Honorable Rabbi, but this is

    not the time for silence.

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  • M

    Michale -12 years ago

    Hurricane, Heroism and Tears
    BS"D



    Below please see a dvar Torah from one of the Roshei Yeshiva of Ohr Somayach in Monsey, Rabbi Naftali Reich. Rabbi Reich is a descendant of both the Vilna Gaon and the Baal Shem Tov. He discusses the parsha in respect to the recent tragedy which occurred this past Sunday in which Reb Moshe Reichenberg, Zt'l gave his life in order to save a boy from being electrocuted.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    PARSHAS SHOFTIM

    Hurricane, Heroism and Tears

    2 Elul 5771/September 1, 2011

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    For most of us, last week's hurricane was no more than a terrible nuisance interrupting our weekend routine and leaving a flood of water in its wake. For our dear alumnus, David (Moshe Yosef) Reichenberg and his family, the storm's devastating effects left a flood of tears and grief.



    Moshe Yosef studied at the Yeshiva over twenty years ago. I fondly recall his early days at Ohr Somayach. He possessed a unique blend of seriousness and humor, and always seemed to have a special spring in his step and a smile on his face. His life was tragically cut short last Sunday as he attempted to save the life of a young child who had been electrocuted by a fallen power line. His final selfless act was particularly representative of the way he lived his life.



    Moshe Yosef was the quintessential family man. He and his dear wife experienced a battery of both health and financial challenges with their children that would have surely overwhelmed most of us. But his faith and joy of life remained undimmed. These extraordinary qualities

    were natural and spontaneous-and thus infectious. Many marveled at his ability to maintain a positive frame of mind even when the chips were down, and wondered what his secret was.



    I recall that approximately a month ago, he joined us at a Thursday night alumni get- together in my home. We were discussing the mitzvah in this week's Torah portion, 'Tamim tihiye im Hashem elokecha'; you shall be wholehearted with Hashem your G-d. I recall discussing with our group the nature of this mitzvah. How can one be expected to remain 'wholehearted' with Hashem in a world that is fraught with

    tragedy and challenge? Isn't it natural to question Hashem's judgment in the face of events that seem illogical to us-particularly when we see the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper?



    Sometimes Hashem besets us with such difficulty and challenge that it seems as if He is clearly pushing us away, implying that we have fallen short of serving Him properly. At times it can feel that our entreaties for His help are falling on deaf ears, that an impenetrable

    mask surrounds Him. How are we still expected to walk wholeheartedly with Him with a perfect faith?



    Rashi provides a fascinating insight into this elusive commandment. He explains that the verse really needs to be split into two parts. Hashem's instruction to us is to walk with Him at all times with pure, simple faith. There will always be times in our lives of joy and celebration during which we naturally feel close to Hashem and appreciate his munificent blessings. There will also always be times when He seems distanced and removed from us. Even then, we are

    expected to believe with absolute faith that He is still walking at our side and watching over us lovingly and carefully.



    If we succeed at this, the verse assures us that we will become ' im Hashem elokecho' one with Hashem our G-d, locked in what will be an eternal embrace.



    This level of wholesome faith demands that we do not assess

    circumstances to determine how close Hashem is with us. We are not supposed to approach life with our barometer at the ready, to gauge how warm his affections are towards us. Simple pure wholehearted obedience is what we are obliged to deliver.



    Upon discussing this mitzvah, Moshe Yosef mentioned that, as

    newlyweds, he and his wife were living in a rented home not far from the Yeshiva when one frigid winter night, their house went up in flames. They lost everything they owned, escaping just in time with nothing but their nightwear. They spent the rest of the night in a nearby home and in the morning, a compassionate neighbor came over with some clothing. Still dazed, the couple donned the ill-fitting

    attire.



    Moshe Dovid told us that as he entered the neighborhood synagogue to pray shacharis, he was overcome with such a sublime joy and gratitude to Hashem for sparing their lives. He felt completely in Hashem's arms. "It was a moment I will forever cherish", he said.



    His story was a lofty illustration of 'tamim tihiye' -being whole with Hashem in a pure-hearted way that cements a close relationship with the Divine.



    On rare occasions we meet people who possess a simple, unquestioning faith, yet we have difficulty according them genuine appreciation for this spiritual attainment. We question their blissful state by thinking perhaps that they are somewhat unsophisticated and detached from reality. We challenge their simplicity. Yet, deep down, we harbor

    strains of jealousy. We wish that we too could attain a higher level of temimus and wholesomeness in our relationship with Hashem. We wish we could encounter the sometimes bewildering or tragic life circumstances that beset us with questioning His justice.



    Let us absorb the lesson of selflessness and simplicity that Moshe Yosef exhibited, ensuring that his legacy of pure faith and goodness is perpetuated.



    We have set up a special fund to provide for the future needs of the Reichenberg family and secure the costs of special education for their autistic child. To donate now, please click here:

    "https://www.reichenbergfund..."



    Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos,



    Rabbi Naftali Reich



    Contact Information

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    email: [email protected]

    web: http://www.os.edu

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    [email protected]



    OHR SOMAYACH | 244 Route 306 | Monsey | NY | 10952

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  • SC

    Sam c. -12 years ago

    Strife & divisiveness
    Thank you Rabbi for a very movingly inspiring class.



     



    8. If a matter eludes you in judgment, between blood and blood, between judgment and judgment, or between lesion and lesion, words of dispute in your cities, then you shall rise and go up to the place the Lord, your God, chooses.



    The Ben Ish Chai in Aderet Eliyahu comments on this as following:



    This verse is coming to intimate what is known to everyone from the books of chassidus and kabbalah that ones actions have cosmic repercussions to either rectify and unify the upper worlds or G-d forbid wreak havoc and chaotic discord. The worlds natural order runs on kindness and judgment. If one merits, through his actions he transforms the judgment to kindness, but if he doesn't, his actions cause divine judgment to manifest on himself and the whole world. Because a small blemish down here, in our world, engenders celestial confusion and fragmentation in the order of the universe.



    The sages write in the holy books that a person sins separate the letter alef א from the word  אדם (man) and whats left is דם  (blood) the energy that destroys the world.



    In parallel, the letter Alef א naturally sweetens the judgment.



    Therefore, the sinner who strengthens the attribute of judgment removes the letter alef א from G-ds name אדנ-י  Ad-ni, and what remains is דין Din, judgment.



    Consequently, we have no idea how great and awesome each of our actions bring about great peace and unity above versus the destruction and discord that people can cause through their actions. 



    With the aforementioned, the verse is understood this way: Ki yipalah mimcha davar lamishpat, if the order of law and justice shall elude you, and you will not know for what reason this is, and why G-d has done it this way, you should reflect with your understanding בין מלשון בינה, Bein is Hebrew is synonymous with binah, which means understanding, דם לדם

    (blood to blood) dam ldam, you will understand that dam,(blood) that remains from אדם adam is because mans actions remove that letter א alef from אדם adam and א alef from. -אדנ-י Adn-yi which leaves us with דין din, judment and Dam blood.



    Furthermore, its mentioned that the evil and holy forces are at constant battle as to who will prevail. Gd forbid through our sins, evil has access to nourish itself from holiness, and the minister of evil receives his life force from the holy side because he anticipates the downfall of holiness where one side takes from the other and each side gets stronger or weaker by gaining or losing power from the other side.



    In relation to this the Arizal writes based on the Talmud (Bava Metzia 22a) that the Jordan river is on the border of Israel nevertheless its on the outside of Israel, and when the Jordan river increases its water, its on Israels account and Israels water gets reduced; whereas the evil nourishes its sustenance and robs from holiness, and the opposite is also true, at times Israels waters increase and Jordans water gets reduced.

     



    This also explains the verse further which states ובין נגע לנגע, between lesion and lesion, the evil forces infringe and maim holiness and they attempt to diminish and degrade holiness with their lesion-like existence.



    And when this harsh sin -baseless hatred- exists amongst the Jews, it is the root for all other sins which offshoot from it. This causes the judgments and bloodshed that we experience in the world. Because - דברי ריבות בשעריך- words of dispute in your cities, the hatred  ruins the pattern, wreaks dissension and triggers haughtiness and gossip.



    All this can be repaired and healed only through repentance and good deeds, which rectify the upper worlds and therefore וקמת ועלית אל המקום אשר יבחר השם אלקיך בו you shall rise and go up to the place the Lord, your God, chooses.



    We all need to attend classes and workshops that will help us heal our lives through the light and fire of Torah.



    The Talmud in Bava Metzia 30b quotes Rabbi Yochanan as saying that Jerusalem was destroyed because we were exacting in Torah law and we didn't go beyond the letter of the law.



    The Rabbi in this class quoted the Talmud in Yoma that hatred is equivelent to the three cardinal sins.



    This is clearly interconnected with the Talmud in tractate Erchin 15b that states: Tana d'Vei Rebbi Yishmael who teaches that one who speaks Lashon ha'Ra, gossip, is considered to have sinned so greatly that he has transgressed the three cardinal sins of Avodah Zarah (idolatry), Giluy Arayos (illicit relations), and Shefichus Damim (murder).



    How is it possible that any sin can be considered more severe than these three sins,for which one is obligated to give his life rather than to transgress?



    (RABEINU YONAH in SHA'AREI TESHUVAH 3:201-209)



    RABEINU YONAH gives five different answers to this question.



    (a) Speaking Lashon ha'Ra once is indeed not considered such a terrible sin. However, there is a tendency to speak Lashon ha'Ra regularly, which makes this sin worse than the others.



    (b) When one speaks Lashon ha'Ra with regularity, it becomes habitual and part of his nature. One speaks Lashon ha'Ra without even realizing that he is transgressing a severe prohibition, and this makes it extremely difficult to repent.



    (c) One does not realize how much harm he causes by speaking Lashon ha'Ra, and, as a result, he fails to have remorse for what he has done and fails to repent.



    (d) An essential part of Teshuvah is the requirement to ask for forgiveness from the person or persons whom one has hurt. Fulfilling this requirement when doing Teshuvah for speaking Lashon ha'Ra is virtually impossible, for a number of reasons.



    First, a person cannot possibly remember all of the people about whom he has spoken Lashon ha'Ra.



    Second, one who speaks Lashon ha'Ra often harms people without even knowing what he has done, and some of those who have been hurt by him may be too refined or embarrassed to inform him of what he has done.



    Third, when one speaks Lashon ha'Ra, his words sometimes stigmatize entire families, including generations yet unborn, for which one cannot possibly do Teshuvah.



    Fourth, one who speaks of Lashon ha'Ra tends to speak indiscriminately about all, and sometimes even about great Talmidei Chachamim. Speaking inappropriately about Torah leaders is considered heresy, for which a person loses his share in the World to Come (Sanhedrin 99b).



    (e) It is not uncommon for one who speaks Lashon ha'Ra to deride Hashem Himself with his evil remarks, because his evil habit has become such an inherent part of him.



    Rabeinu Yonah says that it is a combination of all of these reasons that render Lashon ha'Ra the worst of all sins.



    May we all better ourselves in this month of Elul which with its word adds up to the same numerical value of Chaim Life, to have a successful year filled with the highest blessings in every area of life and most importantly with the coming of Moshiach!



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  • C

    Chaim -12 years ago

    Shiur
    B"H



    Kvod ha'Rav Yacobson:

    What a beautiful shiur!!!.

    Chazak u'brachot



    Hearing you from Cordoba, Argentina.

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  • B

    Ben -13 years ago

    amazing! Brriliant!

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  • P

    pamela -13 years ago

    thanks
    This is a truly delightful and inspiring essay - thank you!

    Pamela Cohen (Raiza Bas Chana)

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  • CLT

    Chaim L Teleshevsky -13 years ago

    deep
    yasher koach! this was very insight full. i will bl''n learn it in the original to get the full flavor.

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  • MA

    Melb Australia -13 years ago

    Great Piece
    Beautifully put

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  • AY

    Asher Yitzchok -13 years ago

    A Timeless Message
    Besides an exhortation to get beyond our ego, how do we resolve disagreements? Does this help solve the present conversion problem? Or the differences between the various groups- Orthodox, Conservative and Reform? Or the battle about Kashrus issues? Etc., etc.

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  • M

    me -13 years ago

    Resentful
    Bringing peace between man and his fellow man is irrelevant in the context of a captive.

    Chabad ideology teaches genetic superiority; the fact that you implicitly reject converts unless they're someone else's problem first implies to the adoptee that he is a subhuman around would-be gods. While this isn't your intention or your concern, I plan on making it your problem. You cannot imagine how much I resent this rejecting the weakest of our society. What makes me really want to vomit is the Orwellian way you trick the adoptee into accepting his position; by lying to his face about being "holier" while people like Yitro still get crap for his blood. I stopped listening to Chabad.org weekly parsha audio after hearing Yitro. How many more adoptees are you keeping in a psychological prison? Do you care? 95% of your chassidim don't; they're barely aware we exist.

    Something must be done about your captives. Yes they are. I don't know yet.

    I'm not the first adoptee to lose his shit and I won't be the last.

    Mining companies are perhaps the most environmentally damaging operations on the planet.

    It's also impossible for strife to exist when there's only one party that cares. My enemy, albeit another Jew, must see justice even if he's incapable of understanding why. He's a spiritual murderer.

    I'll work on being less insane about it.

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  • Z

    zalman -13 years ago

    beautiful
    What a beautiful Shiur! I watch or listen almost every week. Is there a possibility for the source sheets to be also available to download as a word document? By the way, do you afterwords post the Shiurim on YouTube

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  • I

    isaac -13 years ago

    very powerful
    this is a must watch by each of us!

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  • TG

    tzipi glick -13 years ago

    tonight's shiur
    Very powerful message. Thnak you. Very inspirational.

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  • A

    Admin -13 years ago

    Class Description
    “If a matter eludes you in judgment, between blood and blood, between judgment and judgment, or between lesion and lesion, words of dispute in your cities, then you shall rise and go up to the place the Lord, your G-d, chooses,” states the Torah in Deuteronomy in the portion of Shoftim.

    The greatest Kabbalist in Jewish history, Rabbi Isaac Luria (16th century), interprets this verse to be addressing the historical enigma of the disproportionate suffering of the Jewish people; suffering which seems to be in complete contrast to the systems of justice G-d Himself established in the Torah! He explains that this is all caused by the quarrels, strife, and dissension among Jews themselves. This class explores the tragedy of strife and explains the extraordinary blessing when there is unity and love.

    The Midrash makes a powerful contrast between two biblical generations of Jews, one pagan and the other monotheistic.
    The generation living during the reign of the evil King Achav was full of pagan idol worshippers. Yet, these sinful Jews were victorious in their wars against their enemies. Why? Because of their mutual accord and respect; they learned to like each other and get along.

    On the other hand, the generation of Jews living during the reign of King David was very religious and observant, clinging ferociously to the Jewish faith in a single universal G-d. Yet they died in war. Why? The sages say, because they despised and informed upon each other.

    The ultimate test for the integrity and spirituality of a human being in Judaism is not in one’s scholarship, faith or religious observance, but in our capacity to love the stranger, to transcend the ego, and to escape the traps of divisiveness and hate.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

Rabbi YY Jacobson

  • August 9, 2010
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  • 29 Av 5770
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  • 4598 views

Dedicated by David and Eda Schottenstein in the loving memory of Alta Shula Swerdlov And in merit of Yetta Alta Alta Shula, "Aliya," Schootenstein

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