Limuda

Brief Introductory Note to the Limuda
Acts 15:25-29, is called the “Limuda”, commonly referred to in the West as the Didache, translated from the Aramaic manuscripts of the Assembly of Jerusalem. This is the Apostolic Letter that was composed by the First Apostolic Council around 50 CE under the direction of Mar Ya’aqub ha’Tzadik (St. James the Righteous). It was sent through Mar Shaul (St. Paul) to the gentile Believers as to what was expected of them to follow as far as Torah Observance. 

25 We all have thought fit, when assembled, to choose and send men to you, with our beloved Sha’ul and Barnabas,

26 men who have given up their lives for the name of Maran Yeshua Mshikha.

27 And we have sent with them Yudah and Silas, that they may tell you the same things orally.

28 For it was pleasing to Holy Spirit, and to us, that there should not be laid upon you any burden that would be difficult, besides these necessary things at this time:

29 There are two ways, one of life and one of death; but there is certainly a great difference between these two ways.

The way of life, then, is this: First, you shall love Alaha who made you; second, your neighbour as yourself; and you should never do to others, what you yourself would not want done to you by others.

And of these sayings the teaching is this: ((You shall)) bless all those who curse you, and pray for your enemies, and fast for all those who persecute you. For what good is it then if you love only those who love you? Do the gentiles not also do the same? But you should love those who hate you; and you shall not have an enemy.

Abstain from fleshly and worldly desires. If someone strikes your right cheek, turn to him the other also; this practice shall lead to perfection. If one asks you to go for one mile, go with him two instead. If someone takes away your cloak, you should also give him your coat. If someone takes anything of your own, do not ask to have it back for what good can you do with it in the first place?

Give to every one that asks of you, and do not ask for anything in return; for the Father wills that to all should be given of our own blessings which are free gifts. Happy is he that gives according to the Mitzvoth; for he is blameless. Woe to him that receives; for if one having need receives, he is blameless; but he that receives without having a genuine need, shall pay the penalty, why he received and for what, and, coming into confinement, he shall be examined concerning the things which he has done, and he shall not escape until he pays back the last penny.

But also now concerning this, it has been said, Let your alms sweat in the tight grasp of the palm of your hands, until you know to whom you should give.

The second of the Commandments of the Teaching is this:

You shall not commit murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not commit paederasty, you shall not commit fornication, you shall not steal, you shall not practise magic, you shall not practise witchcraft, and you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill a child that has been born. You shall not desire to have the possessions of your neighbour.

You shall not perjure yourself, you shall not bear false witness, you shall not speak evil, and you shall not bear a grudge.

You shall not be double-minded nor double-tongued, for to be double-tongued is a trap that will bring you to your demise.

Your speech shall not be false, nor empty, but fulfilled by deed.

You shall not be desirous of the possessions of another, nor greedy, nor a hypocrite, nor disposed to act in an evil manner, nor conceited. You shall not take evil counsel against your neighbour.

You shall not hate any man; but some you should reprove, and concerning some you should keep them in your prayers, and there are others whom you shall love more than your very own life.

My child, flee from every evil and everything that resembles evil.

Do not live a life filled with anger, for anger leads to murder, nor jealous nor contentious nor wrathful; for of all these things are not becoming of a follower of Mshikha.

My child, do not be filled with lust, for lust leads to fornication, neither foul-speaking neither with uplifted eyes; for of all these things lead to unfaithfulness and are not becoming of a follower of Mshikha.

My child, do not be one who deals with sorcery because these practices lead to idolatry, nor a worker of spells nor a worshipper of the stars and signs nor a magician, and do not even seek after those who do practice these things ((or remain in their company)); for it is from all of these things that lead to idolatry and are not becoming of a follower of Mshikha.

My child, do not speak lies, since lying leads to theft, neither greedy neither boastful; for all of these things lead to theft and are not becoming of a follower of Mshikha.

My child, do not go around murmuring, since this leads to blasphemy, neither self-willed, neither as one who thinks evil thoughts; for all of these things cause blasphemy to be developed.

But be meek, because it is the meek who shall inherit the earth.

Be patient in the wrong-doings you suffer and compassionate and without guile and be peaceful and kind to all, always paying close attention to what you have heard.

You shall not exalt yourself; neither shall you permit yourself to be audacious.

You shall not walk with the proud, but you should stay in the company of those who are righteous and humble.

Whatever trials and tribulations come upon you, you shall receive them for your own good, knowing that nothing is done without the knowledge of Alaha.

My child, you shall remember the one who teaches you Divar d’Alaha, night and day, and shall honour him as Maran; for whenever and wherever Divar is spoken, Maran is present.

Moreover, everyday you shall seek out the people who are walking as the saints so that you may find rest in their words.

You shall not cause a schism, but you shall be peaceful with those who are always trying to stir up controversy; you shall judge righteously, and you shall not be partial between people when reproving them for transgressing Torah.

You shall not doubt whether a thing shall be or not be.

Do not be found holding out your hands to receive money all the time, but drawing them in as to giving.

If you have anything, through your hands you shall give ransom for your sins.

You shall not hesitate to give, neither shall you murmur when you give; or you shall know who is the good employer.

Do not turn away from those who are in need; rather, share everything with your brother, and do not say that they are your own possessions ((for all good things come down from the Father)).

For if you are partakers in that which is immortal, how much more in things which are mortal? Do not remove your hand from your son or daughter; rather, teach them the deep reverence ([fear]) of Alaha from their youth.

Do not command your servants to do anything while you are angry, ((because)) they have faith in the same Alaha, because they ((might become offended and)) stop reverencing Alaha who is over both ((master and servant)); for he comes not to call according to the outward appearance, but to all those whom the Spirit has prepared.

And you servants shall be subject to your masters as they are your lord, in modesty and reverence. You shall despise all hypocrisy and everything which is not pleasing to Mar-Yah ((as shown in His Mitzvoth)).

You shall never forsake the Mitzvoth of Mar-Yah; but keep what you have received, neither adding thereto nor taking away therefrom.

In the company of your brethren you shall confess your sins, and you shall never say a prayer while having an evil conscience.

This is the way of life.

And the way of death is this: First of all these things are evil and accursed: murder, adultery, lust, fornication, theft, idolatry, magical arts, witchcraft, rape, false witness, hypocrisy, double-heartedness, deceit, haughtiness, depravity, self-will, greediness, vulgar speech, jealousy, over-confidence, loftiness, boastfulness; persecutors of the good, hating truth, loving a lie, not knowing a reward for righteousness, not cleaving to good nor to righteous judgement, watching not for that which is good, but for that which is evil; from whom meekness and endurance are far, loving vanities, pursuing revenge, not showing pity to a poor man, not labouring for the afflicted, refusing to know Him Who made them, murderers of children, destroyers of that which Alaha created, ((deliberately)) turning away from someone who is in need, afflicting someone who is distressed, advocates of the rich, lawless judges of the poor, and outright sinners.

Children, remove yourselves far from all of these things ((and those who practice them shall not even be found among your company)).

See that no one causes you to err from the Halakha of the Teaching, for someone who teaches you to err is causing you to distance yourself from Alaha.

For if you are able to bear the entire yoke of Mar-Yah, you will be perfect; but if you are not able to do all of what is required, do what you are able as you learn.

And concerning food, bear what you are able; but against that which is sacrificed to idols be exceedingly careful; for it is the service of dead deities.

And concerning baptism, ((you shall)) baptise in this manner:

Having first taught all of these things, baptise in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. ([Dalin text reads: water blessed by the Living Spirit])

But if you have no living water ((blessed by the Spirit)), baptise in other water ((preferably cold)); and if you cannot do so in cold water, do so in warm.

But if you have neither, pour water three times upon the head in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. ([Dalin text reads: “But if you do not have enough water, pour a little water three times on the head….”])

But before the baptism let the baptiser fast, as well as the one desiring to be baptised, and if possible whoever else is in the company of the one to be baptised; but you shall at least order the one who desires to be baptised to fast one or two days before their baptism ((between the rising and setting of the sun)).

But do not let your fasting be with the ((days of the)) hypocrites, for they fast on Monday and Thursday. Rather, ((it is our tradition to)) fast on Wednesday and on Erev Shabbat. ((And as far as possible, on Wednesday you should fast from that which contains dairy and on Friday you should fast from that which contains meat. Our fast is from the rising and the setting of the sun.))

Do not pray like the hypocrites do; rather ((you should pray)) as Yeshua commanded in His Gospel, in this manner:

The Prayer To Our Father
(translated into first century Aramaic)

Abwûn
“Oh Thou, from whom the breath of life comes,
d’bwaschmâja
who fills all realms of sound, light and vibration.
Nethkâdasch schmach
May Your light be experienced in my utmost holiest.
Têtê malkuthach.
Your Heavenly Domain approaches.
Nehwê tzevjânach aikâna d’bwaschmâja af b’arha.
Let Your will come true – in the universe (all that vibrates)
just as on earth (that is material and dense).
Hawvlân lachma d’sûnkanân jaomâna.
Give us wisdom (understanding, assistance) for our daily need,
Waschboklân chaubên wachtahên aikâna
daf chnân schwoken l’chaijabên.
detach the fetters of faults that bind us, (karma)
like we let go the guilt of others.
Wela tachlân l’nesjuna
Let us not be lost in superficial things (materialism, common temptations),
ela patzân min bischa.
but let us be freed from that what keeps us off from our true purpose.
Metol dilachie malkutha wahaila wateschbuchta l’ahlâm almîn.
From You comes the all-working will, the lively strength to act,
the song that beautifies all and renews itself from age to age.
Amên.
Sealed in trust, faith and truth.
(I confirm with my entire being)


Galilean Aramaic:

Abba, [1]
Father,

Yithqadash sh‘mak.
May thy name be holy.

Tethe malkuthak.
May thy kingdom come.

Teh’wey ra’uthak.
May thy will be done.

Pitthan d-çorak [2] hav lan yomden.
Give us today our usual bread.

w-Shbuq lan hobenan. [3]
And forgive us our debts / sins.

Hek ’anan sh‘baqin l-haibenan.
As we forgive our debtors.

w-La ‘ul lan l-nisyon.
And lead us not into temptation.

Amên.

Our Father in heaven, may your name be sanctified. Your Kingdom come. Your will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. Give us the bread of our need this day. Forgive us our offences, as we have forgiven those who have offended us. And do not permit us to be brought into trial, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen. You should pray this three times as Maran has taught. ([Dalin text does not have this verse])

Now concerning Qurbana, give thanks in this manner: First, concerning the cup:

We thank you, our Father, for the Holy ((and life giving)) Vine of David your servant, which you made known to us through your Servant Yeshua; to you be the glory for ever and ever.

And concerning the broken bread ((give thanks in this manner)):

We give you thanks, our Father, for the life and knowledge which you made known to us through your Servant Yeshua; to you be the glory for ever and ever.

Even as this broken bread was scattered over the hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let your Holy Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into your Kingdom; for yours is the glory and the power through Yeshua Mshikha for ever and ever.

But do not permit anyone to eat or drink from Qurbana, unless they have been baptised in the name of Maran; for concerning this also Yeshua has said, “Do not hang sacred ornaments on dogs.” ((Instead, give to those who are not baptised in the name of Maran some of the holy bread prepared for the evening meal afterwards.))

But after the Qurbana meal, ((you should)) give thanks to the Father in heaven in this manner:

We thank you, holy and heavenly Father, for your Holy Name which you caused to tabernacle in our hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality, which you made known to us through your servant Yeshua; to you be the glory for ever and ever.

You, El-Shaddai, created all things for your Name’s sake; you gave food and drink to men for enjoyment, so that they might give thanks to you; but to us you freely give spiritual food and drink and life eternal through your Servant ((Yeshua Mshikha bar Alaha)).

Before all things we thank you and acknowledge you as El-Shaddai; to you be the glory for ever and ever.

Remember, Mar-Yah, your Church, to deliver it from all evil and to perfect it in your love, and gather it from the four winds, sanctified for your Kingdom which you have prepared for it; for yours is the power and the glory for ever and ever. ((And the people in your company should say, Amen.))

Let grace come, and let this world pass away. Hosanna to Alaha d’David!

If any one is holy, let him come; if any one is not ((holy)), let him repent. Maranatha. Amen.

You shall permit the prophets to make thanksgiving as much as they desire.

Whoever, therefore, comes and teaches you all these things in which we have written you ((that have been said before to others)), receive him.

But if the teacher himself turns and teaches another doctrine which is contrary to this, do not even listen to him.

But if he teaches in such a manner that increases righteousness and the knowledge of Mar-Yah ((among you and others)), receive him as Maran.

But concerning the Apostles and prophets, act according to the decree of the Gospel.

Let every Apostle who comes to you be received as Maran.

But he shall not remain within your home more than one or two days if there is a need. But if he remains three days, it could be that he is a false prophet.

And when the Apostle departs ((from your company)), let him take nothing with him, except for a sufficient amount of bread for the period of time he needs to find a place to lodge. If he asks for money, it could be that he is a false prophet.

And you shall not try or judge any prophet who speaks in the Spirit; for every sin shall be forgiven, but this sin shall not be forgiven ((and Mshikha alone will hold him responsible for his wrongdoing)).

But not every one who speaks in the Spirit is a prophet; but only if he holds to the Halakha d’Mshikha.

Therefore the false prophet and the ((true)) prophet shall be known by their ways.

And every prophet who requests a meal while in the Spirit is not ((to be)) the first to partake of it ((at the table)), unless he is indeed a false prophet.

And every ((Apostle or)) prophet who teaches the truth, but does not walk according to what he teaches, is a false prophet.

And every prophet, proved true, working unto the mystery of the Church in the world, yet not teaching others to do what he himself does, shall not be judged among you, for it is with Alaha he has his judgement; for it was the same with the ancient prophets.

But whoever says, while prophesying or speaking in the Spirit, “Give me money”, or requests something else ((as a payment for his teaching)), you shall not listen to him. But if he tells you to give for the sake of others who are in need, let no one judge him ((for he is moved by the Spirit to speak)).

You shall receive everyone who comes in the Name of Maran, and prove and know him afterwards; for you shall have understanding right and left.

If he who comes is a traveller by foot, assist him ((with all his needs)) as far as you are able; but he should not remain with you more than two or three days, if need be.

But if he desires to remain with you, and has a skill, let him work to earn his food and shelter. But if he has no skills, according to your understanding, see to it that, as a follower of Mshikha, he shall not live with you without working. He does not have to be paid in money, but his food and shelter shall be proficient ((payment)) for him.

But if he refuses to do his part and complains that he is not receiving money, he is taking advantage of Mshikha. Observe carefully that you keep away from such ones.

But every true Apostle or prophet who wants to live with you or in your community is worthy of his support. The teachings of the true Apostle or prophet shall be their labour if they have no specific skill.

Likewise, a true teacher is himself worthy, as the workman, of his support.

Every first-fruit, therefore, of the products of the wine-press and of the threshing-floor, of the oxen and of the sheep, you shall take and give to the prophets, for they are your high priests under Mshikha.

But if you have no prophet, give what you are able to those ((you know that are)) in need.

If you make a batch of dough, take the first-fruit and give according to the Mitzvah.

Likewise when you open a jar of wine or of oil ((or of anything new)), take the first-fruit and give it to the ((Apostles and to the)) prophets; and of money and clothing and every possession you have, take the first-fruit, as you are able, and give according to the Mitzvah.

But gather yourselves together on each one of the Lord’s days ((- the Sabbath when Torah is read and on the Holy Days – )) and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your sins, so that your sacrifice may be pure.

But do not permit anyone who is holding a grudge against his brother or who is angry with his brother gather together to dine with you, until they have been reconciled, so that your sacrifice may not be profaned.

For this is that which was spoken by Mar-Yah ((the Alaha over all)):

“In every place and time, offer to me a pure sacrifice; for I am a great King, says Mar-Yah, and my Name is wonderful among the nations.”

Therefore, you should appoint for yourselves Bishops and deacons worthy of Maran, ((from among the)) men who are meek, and not lovers of money, and truthful and proven; for they also shall render to you the service of prophets and teachers.

Therefore do not despise them, for they are your honoured ones, together with the prophets and teachers. And reprove one another – not in anger, but in peace, as you know it is written in the Gospel.

But to all those who act in an unrighteous manner against each other, do not permit them to speak, nor let them hear anything from you until they have had sufficient time to repent.

You should say all of your prayers and do all of your alms and deeds, as you know it is instructed in the Gospel of Maran Yeshua ((bar Alaha)).

Be observant for the sake of your own life.

Do no permit your lamps to be quenched, nor lose sight of your sandals; but always be prepared, for you do not know the hour in which Maran will come.

But you shall assemble yourselves as often as possible, seeking all the things which are befitting to your souls, for the whole time of your faith will not be of benefit to you if you are not perfected in The Way by the last day.

For it will be during the last days when many false prophets and many who are causing corruption shall become multiplied ((throughout the earth)), and some of the sheep shall be turned into wolves, and the love of some shall be turned into hate;

for when lawlessness increases they shall hate and persecute and betray one another, and then the the evil ones will appear claiming to be the sons of Alaha, and the evil one ((who is their master)) shall perform signs and wonders, and the earth shall be delivered into the hands of the evil one, and he shall do unlawful things which have never yet come to pass since the beginning ((and many people will believe what they see by the works of the hands of the evil one and the works of the hands of his servants; and they will claim to see visions and to have seen Maran visiting them in their private chamber giving them secret sayings and visions of death.))

Then all humankind shall come into the fire of trial, and many shall be made to stumble and shall perish; but those who endure in their faith shall be saved from under the curse itself.

And then the signs of the truth shall appear: first, the sign of the heavens coming down, then the sign of the sound of the trumpet.

And third, the resurrection of the dead, yet not of all ((because the righteous shall rise first)), and it is said:

“Maran shall come and all His saints with Him.”

Then shall the world see Mar-Yah Yeshua coming upon the clouds of heaven.

30 Then the men who had been sent came to Antioch, and they assembled all of the people together in one place, and gave the letter to them,

31 and after it had been read (to them), (they) rejoiced and were comforted.

32 With a long discourse of teaching in Torah and what was required of the goyim, Yudah and Silas strengthened all of the brothers in that place and confirmed each one in his own home*, because they were prophets.

33 And after they had remained in that place for some time, the brothers dismissed them with shalom to the Apostles,

34*

35 Shaul and Bar-Naba decided to remain in Antioch so as to teach and proclaim the word of God along with (an assembly of) many others.

36 After a number of days*, Shaul said to Bar-Naba: We should now return and visit the brothers in all of the cities in which we have been proclaiming the word of God, to observe what they are now doing*,

37 and Bar-Naba wished to take Yokhanan*, who was also named Marqos*,

38 but Shaul did not wish to take Marqos with them, because he had left their company when they were in Pamphylia and did not walk with them.

39 And there was a dispute concerning this (matter), and they became separated from each other, and Bar-Naba took Marqos, and travelled to Cyprus by sail.*

40 Shaul chose Silas to be his companion and they departed from that place, being commented by the brothers to the grace of God.

41 And they travelled to Syria and Cilicia in order to strengthen the congregations in those places.

NOTES:
15:1, “salvation”, or “life”

15:2, “Bar-Naba”, “Barnabas”

15:2, “Elders”, the “Apostolic Council” consisting of Apostles and Elders; referred to as “Beit Knushta”, House of the Assembly, who preside over the Throne of Ya’aqub and the Throne of Mosha (Moses)

15:3, “Phenicia”, “Phoenicia”

15:3, “goyim”, “gentiles”

15:4, “doing among them”, or “doing through them”

15:5, “Mosha”, “Moses”

15:11, “Maran Yeshua Mshikha”, “our Lord Yeshua the Messiah”

15:13, “Ya’aqub” – James the brother of Yeshua and earthly head of the Assembly

15:21, From marginal note in Aramaic mss

15:32, “in his own home”, from marginal note in Aramaic mss

15:34, this verse does not appear in the more ancient mss; Murdock adds, “But it was the pleasure of Silas to remain there;” Etheridge adds within brackets: Some Greek MSS. read here, “Notwithstanding, it pleased Silas to abide there still.”

15:36, “a number of days”, or “after some days”, “after several days”

15:36, “to observe what they are now doing”, or “to observe how they have been progressing”; Aramaic-Hebrew mss adds to this, “in the Teaching” (the word “teaching” in this mss is from the Hebrew “Limudah”, referring to the Apostolic Letter noted in verse 23)

15:37, “Yokhanan”, “John”

15:37, “Marqos”, “Marcus”, “Mark”

15:39, “by sail”, or “by boat” 

Establish Many Students

The first Mishnah in Pirkei Avot states: “Moshe received the Torah at Sinai and transferred it to Yehoshua. Yehoshua then transferred it to the Elders and the Elders transferred it to the Prophets. The Prophets transferred it to the members of the Great Assembly. They (the members of the Great Assembly) said three things: Be patient in judgment, establish many students, and make a fence for the Torah.” 

Avot of Rabbi Natan states that Bet Shammai say that one should only teach a student who is wise, humble, and a Ben Torah. Bet Hillel, on the other hand, say that one should teach any student, for there were many criminals among the Jewish nation who came closer to Torah learning and as a result, merited having righteous offspring.

The opinion of Bet Shammai is seemingly quite understandable, for if one teaches a student who is not humble, when he grows somewhat in Torah study, he will immediately view himself as a wise man which will cause him to disagree with the Torah luminaries of the generation and this will cause great destruction. Similarly, if one teaches a student who is not intelligent, even after several years of learning, the student will still expound the Torah in an erroneous and crooked manner which will likewise cause great destruction. History has already shown several unworthy students who had studied a small amount of Torah and then proceeded to sway the Jewish nation from the proper path. However, according to Bet Hillel, this risk is worthwhile, for the light of Torah may bring back many straying Jews to the fold and they will then produce good and pious Jews.

Although the Halacha follows the opinion of Bet Hillel, this does not mean that one should teach Torah to literally every single person, for the Gemara (Chullin 132a) states, “One who teaches an unworthy student shall fall into Gehinnom.” Maran zt”l explains this to mean when one is clearly aware that this student is going in an unsavory path; however, if one is not aware of the student’s actions or behavior, it is a Mitzvah to teach Torah to such a student.

Nevertheless, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes that nowadays, it is a Mitzvah to teach Torah even to students who are unworthy as long as they appear to be products of “captured children,” i.e. that they do not observe Torah and Mitzvot as a result of their distorted secular education. It is likewise a Mitzvah to bring inmates in prison who were charged with heinous crimes to Torah and Mitzvot, for many of them return to the correct path after being taught Mussar and being rehabilitated. Indeed, Maran zt”lonce instructed us to teach Torah to a wayward youth who used to be aBen Torah but unfortunately strayed from the path of Torah, for only the Torah has the power to return him to the proper path. (However, one may not teach a student who only studies Torah in order to destroy.)

One must likewise try to spread Torah and Mitzvot lovingly to one’s relatives. One should not lecture them endlessly; rather, one should speak to them in a pleasant manner so that they may accept even one good resolution upon themselves, for this one thing will bring them further and further in their Torah observance. By registering friends to receive the daily “Halacha Yomit” email (obviously with prior consent), one merits teaching them Torah every day; the light of the Torah will surely raise their spiritual level. We have indeed seen some fruits of our labor and today, thank G-d, there are over twenty-five thousand regular members who have registered to receive these Halachot every day. Countless others receive these Halachot by other means and ascend the levels of Torah and Mitzvot and become truly knowledgeable in Torah, blessed be they.

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Humility

Our Sages teach us in Pirkei Avot (Chapter 4): “Rabbi Levitas of Yavneh says: Be exceedingly low of spirit.” This means that every person must try to excel in humility which is the greatest character trait of all. Even a king of Israel who must act firmly and with sovereignty is commanded by the Torah to likewise act humbly, as the verse states (Devarim 17), “Lest his heart become elevated over his brothers.” The greatest prophet of all time, Moshe Rabbeinu, was praised specifically regarding his humility, as the verse states, “And the man, Moshe, was exceedingly humble, more than any other person on the face of the earth.” 

The truth of the matter is that without humility, one can live one’s entire life in error and without the ability to rescue one’s self from the situation one is in, for such a person will never accept the advice of others wiser than him who will guide him along the proper path. Indeed, there are many people who are not very intelligent but view themselves as the wisest people on earth. It is for this reason that they constantly mock the opinions of others and they are completely confident in themselves although the rest of the world observes their crooked and arrogant ways.

We all remember the way Maran zt”l behaved with great humility in spite of his tremendous greatness. Although he was the leader of the generation and recognized his strengths and greatness, he nevertheless did not let this make him haughty. Once, a granddaughter of Maran approached him and requested his blessing for a certain matter. Maran proceeded to bless her. She told him, “Our Sages teach us that when a righteous man decrees something, Hashem fulfills the decree. I request that you decree for this matter to come about!” Maran zt”l immediately answered innocently, “How can I decree if I am not a righteous person?”

This is merely a small glimpse of Maran zt”l’s noble and humble ways. It is indeed his great humility that helped him ascend to the levels he reached and to be loved by both Hashem and the entire Jewish nation alike.

Maran would commonly recount the incident involving Rabbeinu Yehonatan Eibeschitz. Once, shortly after Rabbi Eibeschitz was appointed Chief Rabbi of Altona (Germany) and the surrounding areas, he travelled to Altona and on the way, arrived at a small town nearby on Erev Yom Kippur. The rabbi decided to spend Yom Kippur in this town. On Erev Yom Kippur, Rabbi Yehonatan took his Machzor and went to the local synagogue to pray Mincha with the congregation. He happened to have been standing next to an older man who was praying in a slight overtone. When he reached the “Al Chet” prayer at the conclusion of the Amida, this man translated every sentence into German and recited this prayer while shedding copious tears. When this man reached the final paragraph of the prayer which reads, “My G-d, before I was formed, I did not deserve to be. I am dust during my lifetime and certainly after my death. I am before you like a vessel filled with shame and humiliation,” he began to cry uncontrollably.

Rabbi Yehonatan was very moved by the truly emotional prayer and after services, he asked the synagogue’s Gabbai if he could seat him next to this man for all of the Yom Kippur prayer services, for this would cause him to concentrate more on his own prayers and recite them with more focus and emotion.

This scene repeated itself during the Arvit and Shacharit prayers of Yom Kippur; the older man prayed fervently and shed many tears in the process. When it came time for Torah reading, the Gabbai called up four people to the Torah and honored the older man with the fifth Aliyah. When the Gabbai went over to the older man to call him up, the older man was extremely insulted that he was not offered the third or fourth Aliyot which are considered more respected than the fifth. The older man looked square at the Gabbai and unleashed his wrath, “You fool! You gave so-and-so the third Aliyah and so-and-so the fourth while both of these people do not reach my ankles in age or wisdom and to me you offer the fifth Aliyah? Who appointed you Gabbai? You would be better off just staying home!”

Rabbi Yehonatan was astounded by what he saw and heard. Was this the same gentleman who had earlier recited, “I am dust during my lifetime”?

After Mussaf prayers, a break was announced before Mincha services. Rabbi Yehonatan took advantage of this opportunity and addressed the older man: “Why did you scream at the Gabbai? What about your exclamations of ‘I am dust during my lifetime’ and ‘I am before you like a vessel filled with shame and humiliation? Indeed, many people recite these words without understanding what they mean but you translated every sentence into German and you cried while reciting this prayer!”

The man replied, “Your honor, I am taken aback by your question. When I stood praying, I was talking to Hashem and relative to Hashem, I am dust and like a vessel filled with shame. However, this is not the case when speaking to this foolish Gabbai who does not even reach my ankles, for he should not have honored me with only the fifth Aliyah!”

This incident depicts a person who has not acquired the supreme character trait of humility and as a result of his great arrogance, he believes that he is also a truly humble person; however, this man possessed neither wisdom nor humility.

One who realizes his shortcomings in the service of Hashem and accepts the advantages of others graciously shall surely acquire the precious quality of humility which shall benefit one in this world as well as the next.

Who is a Wealthy Person?

Approximately six years ago in the midst of a Torah discussion with Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l, he instructed us that although our main focus at “Halacha Yomit” must be the dissemination of Halacha in order for all to know how to conduct a Torah lifestyle, we must nevertheless insert some words of Mussar (ethical teachings), for Mussar is the fundamental basis for every Jewish person as our Sages teach us in several places.

During the period of the counting of the Omer, Maran Rabbeinu zt”l would deliver a Mussar lecture between Mincha and Arvit of Friday night while including teachings regarding the love of Torah and fear of Heaven. He would begin his lecture by quoting various Mishnayot of Pirkei Avot (which is customarily read during this period), for the students of Rabbi Akiva passed away during this time because they did not treat each other with adequate respect. Even with his tight schedule and his time being as precious as it was, Maran zt”l nevertheless felt that it was extremely important to teach Mussar to the masses. We are therefore following in Maran’s footsteps and for the past several years during the period of the Omer counting, we publish teachings of Mussar and fear of Heaven found in Pirkei Avot.

The Mishnah in Pirkei Avot (Chapter 4) states: “Who is a wealthy person? One who is content with his lot.” This means that only one who is content with his lot in life can truly be considered a wealthy person, for he constantly trusts in Hashem and is happy with what he has. Indeed, wealth is quite relative, for a pauper is jealous of one who earns a living and one who earns a living is jealous of one who lives in a beautiful home and one who lives in a beautiful home is jealous of the person who owns an impressive estate, so on and so forth. Thus, mankind will never be able to live in peace and tranquility, for almost everyone will chase after what they perceive as “wealth”.

However, one who has faith in Hashem planted in his heart will always rejoice in what Hashem has given him and thank Him for all of the goodness He has bestowed upon him. Such an individual knows that the only true “wealth” in this world is Torah, Mitzvot, and good deeds which is the only genuine wealth which follows a person even past the grave.

Maran Rabbeinu zt”l quotes an incident recounted by Rabbi David, grandson of the great Rambam in his Sefer Midrash David. Once, there was a poor man who struggled to earn a living but was always content with what Hashem gave him, however little or plenty. Every night when he would eat with his household, they would all thank Hashem for the goodness He had bestowed upon them and each member of the household would play a different instrument and they would then all sing and dance for an hour or two joyfully after which they would disperse and go to sleep.

One night, the king passed by their door and heard a great musical ensemble but he did not bother them. The same occurred the next night and the night after that. After the third such night of hearing the joyful music, the king sent for this poor man. The man came before the king and the king asked him, “Are you the man? How much money do you possess?” The poor man answered, “Your highness, I am a poor man with no money. Whatever I earn every day I spend on sustaining my family. I am happy with whatever Hashem sends me, however little it is and because of this we play music and sing and dance every night.”

The king appreciated the poor man’s words and he thought to himself, “If these people are so happy and thank Hashem so much amid poverty, how much more so would they thank Hashem if they were wealthy.”

The king then commanded his servants to fill up a sack of gold coins for this man. The poor man indeed took these coins home and when he got there, he placed them in a box. When the man saw that the coins were not enough to completely fill up the box, he and his wife both thought that they must now work extra hard until they are able to fill the entire box up to the top with gold coins at which point they would be able to live their entire life in wealth. From that day on, whatever they earned they would place in the box but the box would nevertheless not fill up. The husband and wife now lived with fear and worry and the nightly musical production ceased. (Indeed, many people who become wealthy turn into upset and nervous people from then on.)

Sometime later, the king passed by their home and saw them sleeping in the darkness. The next two nights the king passed by and saw them living in anguish. The king called the man and asked him, “What happened?” The man replied, “Your highness, when I did not have money, I was happy that I did not have any expectations for thousands of gold coins. Now, however, I am always nervous and longing for the day when the box of gold coins will be filled and until this day, it has yet to be filled.” At this point, the king took away all of the man’s money and the poor man returned to his original custom amid much song and dance.

This idea is true and applies to every single individual.

Parashat Emor / פרשת אמור

Torah Portion: Leviticus 21:1 – 24:23

Full Kriyah

  1. 1: 21:1-15 (15 p’sukim)
  2. 2: 21:16-22:16 (25 p’sukim)
  3. 3: 22:17-33 (17 p’sukim)
  4. 4: 23:1-22 (22 p’sukim)
  5. 5: 23:23-32 (10 p’sukim)
  6. 6: 23:33-44 (12 p’sukim)
  7. 7: 24:1-23 (23 p’sukim)
  8. maf: 24:21-23 (3 p’sukim)

Triennial Year 1

03 May 2014

Triennial Year 2

09 May 2015

Triennial Year 3

21 May 2016

Haftarah: Ezekiel 44:15 – 44:31

 

A Fiery Torah

The Gemara states that HaShem gave the Jewish People the Torah because they are strong-willed and by studying the Torah, they will become subdued and their hearts will be humbled. The Gemara in Kiddushin states that HaShem said, “I created the Evil Inclination, and I created the Torah as its antidote.” These statements in the Gemara indicate that HaShem only gave the Jewish People the Torah to subdue their strong will and the Evil Inclination. Yet, the Gemara in Pesachim states that one of the seven things that were created prior to the creation of the world was Torah, and the Medrash states that HaShem looked into the Torah in order to create the world. How, then, could the Gemara state that HaShem only gave the Jewish People the Torah to subdue their will and the Evil Inclination? Perhaps the answer to this question is that the Gemara here refers to the fire that is contained in the Torah. If the Jewish People were not strong-willed, then HaShem would not have had to incorporate the fiery aspect in the Torah. Due to the strong-will of the Jewish People, HaShem created a fiery Torah, which could subdue the Evil Inclination and the strong will of the Jewish People.