Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Dvar Torah for Succos & Podcast

AIMeMTorah would like to wish all our readers a wonderful Succos! Please click here to read this week's Dvar Torah and click the link below to listen to the Podcast.

Chag Sameach!

Click here to listen this this week's Podcast (Also available on Apple Podcasts)

For any questions, comments, or to subscribe to our email list, please email is at AIMeMtorah@gmail.com.

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Don't forget to check out hashkafahandbook.com to learn about my book,Reality Check. And Like it on Facebook.

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Friday, September 29, 2017

Dvar Torah for Yom Kippur & Podcast

       While on a normal day we daven three tefillos and four on Shabbos, on Yom Kippur we daven five times. In addition to the typical tefillos of Shachris, Mincha, Maariv, and Mussaf, an extra teffilah of Neilah is added at the end of the day as well. Yom Kippur is the last day for us to commit ourselves to a proper life and to ask Hashem for a good year, so we do our best to pray as much as time allows. The major theme of davening is the Viduy, the Confession, where we ask Hashem to forgive us for the many sins we have committed over the previous year. Viduy is said both in the silent Amidah as well as in the Chazzan’s repetition for a total of ten times over the course of the day. Why do we need to say it so many times? After the first time, we have already committed to being better people, so why do we need to say it over and over again?
       The answer lies in discovering the main purpose of the Viduy. The Rambam in Hilchos Teshuva (1:1) explains Viduy contains four vital parts: recognizing that you have sinned, listing the sins you have committed, regretting your actions, and committing not to repeat those sins. All of these parts are vital and of equal importance. However, in a different place the Rambam says the only important part of Viduy is recognizing that you have sinned (2:8). What happened to the other three ‘important’ parts?
       Rav Shalom Schwadron, ZT”L, in his sefer Kol Dodi Dofek, explains this seeming contradiction in the Rambam. There is a type of Viduy that must be made in order to fulfill the mitzvah of Teshuvah. This is the one explained in 1:1 of Hilchos Teshuvah and includes four vital parts. However, the mitzvah of Teshuvah is a process that is focused over the entire time period from Elul through the Aseres Yimei Teshuvah; but when it comes to Yom Kippur, there is a special class of Viduy which must be done. It’s not simply about committing to a better future, it’s the recognition that we have sinned. It is the only vital part to this Viduy. (The Ramban in 2:7 actually seems to indicate that when it comes to Yom Kippur, there is a concept of Viduy separate from the obligation of Teshuva.)
       The idea behind Yom Kippur is not just to look at our actions from the past year, sincerely regret any sins, and commit to a better future; that’s the idea of this entire period! Yom Kippur, is specifically about recognizing even before we repent, that we have done something wrong. Even though we may have fulfilled the confession portion of our obligation to repent, we must make another separate declaration admitting that we were wrong.
       This is the reason why we repeat Viduy twice in every Tefillah. It’s not enough for us to request forgiveness, we must recognize what we did wrong. Yom Kippur is such an amazing gift, it’s the opportunity to start completely from scratch, an entirely clean slate. In order to properly recognize this gift, we must first understand how great it is. How do we do this? We say: We were wrong! We were not right! How embarrassing that is to admit, to say we have sinned against Hashem, the One to whom we owe everything. What an amazing chance we have now to make it all go away! Once we recognize that, the Teshuva process we have begun over a month ago takes on a different feel and rhythm; we can now truly begin to ask forgiveness and commit to being better people in the year ahead.
       May we use this Yom Kippur in its intended manner. May our Viduy be sincere and our tefillos be said with proper intent. With this mindset, we will truly merit a healthy and successful new year!

Gmar Chasima Tova!


Shabbat Shalom!  

Click here for last year's Dvar Torah for Yom Kippur

Click here to listen this this week's Podcast (Also available on Apple Podcasts)

For any questions, comments, or to subscribe to our email list, please email is at AIMeMtorah@gmail.com.

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Don't forget to check out hashkafahandbook.com to learn about my book,Reality Check. And Like it on Facebook.

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AIMeM

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Shana Tova! K'Siva V'CHasima Tova- 5778 (& Parshas Haazinu)

We would like to wish all of our readers and listeners a K'Siva V'Chasima Tova, a Shana Tova U'Mesuka, a year full of mazel and bracha for everyone.

This year's Dvar Torah for Rosh Hashana was published last week, please click here to read it

Previous years divrei Torah for Rosh Hashana are available by clicking here: 2016201520142013201220112010

Chag Sameach!



For any questions, comments, or to subscribe to our email list, please email is at AIMeMtorah@gmail.com.

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Don't forget to check out hashkafahandbook.com to learn about my book,Reality Check. And Like it on Facebook.

Check out our other AIMeMTorah project, Nation's Wisdom!



AIMeM

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Dvar Torah for Parshas Nitzavim-Vayeilech & Rosh Hashanah & Podcast

       It’s fitting that Parshas Nitzavim-Yayeilech comes out during Rosh Hashanah and the Aseres Yimei Teshuvah as it includes the source to the concept of Teshuvah in the Torah. One of the most famous series of pesukim in Sefer Devarim is found at the end of Nitzavim and is a good example of this as well as the idea of how we connect to Hashem.
       "כִּי הַמִּצְוָה הַזֹּאת אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ הַיּוֹם לֹא נִפְלֵאת הִוא מִמְּךָ וְלֹא רְחֹקָה הִוא. לֹא בַשָּׁמַיִם הִוא ... וְלֹא מֵעֵבֶר לַיָּם הִוא ... כִּי קָרוֹב אֵלֶיךָ הַדָּבָר מְאֹד בְּפִיךָ וּבִלְבָבְךָ לַעֲשֹׂתוֹ" “For this commandment that I command you today, it is not hidden from you and it is not distant. It is not in the heavens…Nor is it across the sea…Rather, the matter is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to perform it.” (Devarim 30:11-14). The Kli Yakar gives two explanations for these pesukim.
       There are two aspects to every mitzvah, the actual doing of the mitzvah and the intent, the kavanos, the thought behind it. While the actions we take to accomplish the mitzvos are written down in the Torah for anyone to see and perform, the proper intent behind the mitzvos is hidden from the nations of the world as part of our oral and mystical tradition. These ideas were intended only for the Jewish People, therefore, Hashem did not include them in the Written Torah. It is to these two aspects that these pesukim refer.
       “It is not hidden from you”, refers to the kavanos of the mitzvos, which were hidden from the goyim, but not from us. The next part of the pasuk doesn’t say specifically “from you”, but a general statement of “it is not distant”; this is because the actual obligations are written out clearly for anyone who desires to see them, regardless of which nation they belong to. The pesukim then continue, “It is not in the heavens”; the wisdom behind the mitzvos was not kept hidden from us in the heavens, Moshe brought it back with him and gave it to us! Furthermore, “Nor is it across the sea”, the opportunities for mitzvos don’t lie in a faraway place where we can’t reach them. But even if they do, we are still covered.
       The final pasuk reads, “The matter is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to perform it.” The heart is where the intent lies, where we consider what we are doing, accomplishing, when we perform a mitzvah. The mouth is where the action lies, even when the mitzvah doesn’t require speech. The gemarah (Menachos 110a) teaches that even when there is no opportunity to do a certain mitzvah (like nowadays when we can’t bring korbanos), studying its laws becomes as if you are performing it. This includes learning the kavanos of the mitzvah, which becomes as if we did the mitzvah with its’ proper intent. So no matter what happens, every mitzvah is always “in your mouth and in your heart.”  
       The second explanation connects these pesukim to the concept of Teshuvah. The phrase “For this commandment” is usually explained as a reference to the Torah. However, the Kli Yakar wants to say it refers to the mitzvah of Teshuvah, which is brought in the pesukim immediately preceding our topic. Teshuvah is not “hidden from you”. Hashem presents the idea of Teshuvah to us here in the Torah, and Chazal teach us that both the Jewish People and the concept of Teshuvah preceded the creation of the world; this idea is more present to us than to anyone else in the world! “It is not in the heavens”; we don’t need a representative, someone as great as Moshe Rabbeinu, to go ask Hashem for forgiveness, it’s already with us! We know that Hashem will forgive us. If we prepare our heads and our hearts to return to Hashem, He is already returning to us, waiting for the opportunity to exercise the mitzvah of Teshuvah for all of us.

Shabbat Shalom!


K’Siva V’Chasima Tova!    


Click here to listen this this week's Podcast (Also available on Apple Podcasts) 

For any questions, comments, or to subscribe to our email list, please email is at AIMeMtorah@gmail.com.

Please Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter: @aimemtorah

Don't forget to check out hashkafahandbook.com to learn about my book,Reality Check. And Like it on Facebook.

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AIMeM

Friday, September 8, 2017

Dvar Torah for Parshas Ki Savo & Podcast

       Parshas Ki Savo contains the second set of curses, known as the Tochachah, told to Bnei Yisrael. These curses, along with the first set in Parshas Bechukosai, tell a frightening tale of what could happen to the Jewish people if they fail to uphold the laws of the Torah. However, this parsha contains an interesting note not found in Bechukosai, which gives us a tip on how to avoid reaching this stag: “תַּ֗חַת אֲשֶׁ֤ר לֹֽא־עָבַ֨דְתָּ֙ אֶת־יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ בְּשִׂמְחָ֖ה וּבְט֣וּב לֵבָ֑ב מֵרֹ֖ב כֹּֽל“Because you did not serve Hashem, your God, with happiness and with goodness of heart, out of an abundance of everything” (Devarim 28:47).
       The Ohr HaChaim points out an important difference between the two sets of curses. In Bechukosai, after listing all the curses, the Torah follows up with a few uplifting pesukim, explaining how even when all seems lost, Hashem still will not give up on us. (See Vayikra 26:44-45.) However, Ki Savo contains no such pesukim, the Torah simply lists curse after curse until the section ends. How come there are no pesukim of consolation in our parsha?
       The Ohr HaChaim begins his answer by asking another question. Why do we need a second set of curses? Weren’t the ones in Bechukosai already enough? The answer is that the curses in Bechukosai were said for when the nation as a whole (or majority) will leave the path, while the curses in this week’s parsha deal with individuals who may sin. When the nation sins as a whole, there may be a good section of the people who never sin or repent, or vice versa. Therefore, we need another set of curses to deal with the individual people who persist in their evil ways, found in Ki Savo.
       We can now understand why the pasuk offers consolation only in Bechukosai. When dealing with the sins of the entire nation, the Torah wants to be sure we understand that Hashem guarantees that no matter how poorly we act, Hashem will always be there for us as a nation. When it comes to an individual, however, he does not have the same protection. If he sets out on his own and follows his own path, apart from the Torah and Bnei Yisrael, he loses this protection. He has no promise that he will be saved. There is no guarantee of consolation.
       As we go through the month of Elul, we are all focused on improving ourselves and correcting our course for the upcoming year. The Torah reading was set up so that Parshas Ki Savo is always read during this time of year. Perhaps this is the lesson Chazal wanted to teach us when they did so. If we stand together as a people, and look to improve as a collective, as a community, as the children of Hashem, then we maintain the guarantee of Parshas Bechukosai that Hashem will never leave us. And no matter how poorly we may have acted over the previous year, Hashem guarantees us that He will stick around until we return to Him.


Shabbat Shalom!  


Click here to listen this this week's Podcast (Also available on Apple Podcasts) 

For any questions, comments, or to subscribe to our email list, please email is at AIMeMtorah@gmail.com.

Please Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter: @aimemtorah

Don't forget to check out hashkafahandbook.com to learn about my book,Reality Check. And Like it on Facebook.

Check out our other AIMeMTorah project, Nation's Wisdom!



AIMeM

Friday, September 1, 2017

Dvar Torah for Parshas Ki Seitzei & Podcast

       The majority of Sefer Devarim is Moshe giving over his last words of direction to Bnei Yisrael before they enter Eretz Yisrael. As he would not be entering with them, it was important to Moshe to give over whatever guidance he could before the nation set out on their own. To that end, the majority of the laws given over in this sefer deal with matters on a national level. The justice system, guidelines of leadership, laws of business, our relationship with Hashem, spiritual guidance and direction; these are all matters discussed throughout these parshiyos. However, there are a few laws that seem to have slipped through this filter.
       Included in this week’s parsha, Ki Seitzei, are several halachos pertaining to marriage, divorce, which relationships are permitted by the Torah and the halachic status of any offspring that may come from those relationships. These halachos seem to affect only the few people who are involved in the relationship, so why does Moshe discuss them here, in the middle of imparting vital information necessary for the entire nation to understand? Furthermore, there is an entire section in Sefer Vayikra dedicated to the laws of illicit relationships; why wouldn’t these halachos be included there as well?
       Rabbi Yaakov Kaminetzky explains that the pesukim clearly teach us that a marriage is not just a celebration for the new couple and their families, it’s something which affects the entire nation. When discussing certain people who for various reasons are not allowed to marry Jewish girls, the Torah uses the phrase, “לֹֽא־יָבֹ֧א בִּקְהַ֥ל ה' ”, “They should not enter the congregation of Hashem” (See examples in Devarim 23:2-4). Chazal refer to these people as “פסולי קהל”, those that are disqualified from becoming part of the Jewish congregation. They are allowed to become part of the Jewish People, some of them are born Jews, but they can’t enter the congregation.
       Even if you are already Jewish, there is some aspect of being able to marry another Jew that allows you to be a part of larger national affairs. This doesn’t mean that a Jew who is not married is not part of the congregation, since they have the ability to marry another Jew they certainly are! It’s those who are unable to marry a Jew who can never be considered part of the קהל. When a couple marries, this potential is actualized and they become an official part of the קהל of Bnei Yisrael. This is a celebration for the entire nation!
       Therefore, these halachos have their proper place here in Sefer Devarim. These are halachos that affect the good of the entire people and will affect the decisions and thought process of the leaders; their proper place is here, not in Sefer Vayikra.


Shabbat Shalom!


Click here to listen this this week's Podcast (Also available on Apple Podcasts) We are celebrating the 1st year of the AIMeM Torah Podcast! Thank you for all your support!

For any questions, comments, or to subscribe to our email list, please email is at AIMeMtorah@gmail.com.

Please Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter: @aimemtorah

Don't forget to check out hashkafahandbook.com to learn about my book,Reality Check. And Like it on Facebook.

Check out our other AIMeMTorah project, Nation's Wisdom!



AIMeM

Friday, August 25, 2017

Dvar Torah for Parshas Shoftim & Podcast (8th Anniversary Edition!)

This week marks the beginning of the 8th year of AIMeM. Thank you so much for your continued support and we look forward to sharing Divrei Torah for many years to come!

       Parshas Shoftim discusses the different sections of leadership the Bnei Yisrael will have upon entering Eretz Yisrael. The halachos of smaller and larger Batei Din, the Kohanim and Leviim, and our topic this week, the King, are all mentioned. The role of the king is perhaps the most interesting as his role is not strictly a halachic position, but political as well. At the same time, he has a strong role in insuring the nation keeps to the Torah. With his position as a role model, he has halachos that apply specifically to him.
       In our parsha, there are three restrictions placed on the king. He is not allowed to own too many horses, the reason being according to the pasuk, to prevent Bnei Yisrael from returning to Mitzrayim, the horse capital of the world. Additionally, he is not allowed too many wives or to have more money than is necessary to provide for him and his household with certain a level of prestige. The pasuk following this list of restrictions says, “וְהָיָ֣ה כְשִׁבְתּ֔וֹ עַ֖ל כִּסֵּ֣א מַמְלַכְתּ֑וֹ“And it will be, when he sits upon his royal throne…” (Devarim 17:18). Rashi explains that if he keeps to these restrictions, he will be worthy of sitting on the throne. But why these three things? What is special about them?
       The Kli Yakar explains that when the king sits on his throne, he really represents a different throne, the throne of Hashem. (See Divrei HaYamim I 29:23.) Therefore, he must stick close to the ways of Hashem and remove any potential matters which may deter him from this path. As we saw in Parshas Eikev (8:13-14), an abundance of money leads to ‘forgetting’ Hashem, meaning, not realizing that all things come from Him. Secondly, the prohibition of sending Jews down to Mitzrayim does not apply by all forms of business, just for buying horses. For all other items, there is no problem to go to Mitzrayim to buy them! Horses were used for the military and other shows of force and splendor; an overabundance of horses could lead the king to believe his military was strong enough to defeat any enemy, even without the help of Hashem. Since the best place to buy horses was in Mitzrayim, he was not allowed to send people there to purchase them.
       Lastly, as we saw with Shlomo HaMelech, having too many wives, i.e. too many competing outside influences, can easily lead to falling off the Torah way. With so many people clamoring for attention and influence, inevitably a few will attempt to stand out by suggesting something different, something that calls attention to them. While all of them will suggest things that follow the derech Hashem at first, eventually, the need for different ideas will lead them to suggest less moral activities, inevitably leading to the king falling off the path.
       While these laws were specifically set up for the king, the same principle applies to each and every Jew. We all have the obligation to be a role model and stay on the proper path. During the month of Elul, let us seek out the proper method that will allow us to safely navigate the road to remaining on a true course to avodas Hashem.


Shabbat Shalom!


Thank you to everyone who participated in this year's SOS program. The program has now ended for the Summer. Stay tuned for next year's!

Click here to listen this this week's Podcast (Also available on Apple Podcasts)

For any questions, comments, or to subscribe to our email list, please email is at AIMeMtorah@gmail.com.

Please Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter: @aimemtorah

Don't forget to check out hashkafahandbook.com to learn about my book,Reality Check. And Like it on Facebook.

Check out our other AIMeMTorah project, Nation's Wisdom!



AIMeM