This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
The latest article is posted here once a week. You can search the archive for past articles.
Judaism is completely different from all the other religions.
And it stems from the fact that the Jewish calendar has TWO 'New Year's':
Tishre is the first of the DAYS and Nissan (six months later) is the first
of the MONTHS!!
The reason for this is explained in a Midrash (Shmot Raba 15:11) "When G-d
wanted to create His world he did it in the month of Tishre but when He
chose the month of redemption He chose (Nissan)".
In the month of Nissan the Jews were miraculously redeemed from Egypt (on
Passover) and will be redeemed even more miraculously by Moshiach.
In other words Jews are different because they are connected with
Nissan is the month of redemption and Passover, which is even called "The
Holiday of our Redemption", is the first truly Jewish holiday.
Now, all the other religions define 'redemption' as getting out of the
physical and becoming spiritual: going to heaven
But not Judaism; for Judaism the spiritual is still prison.
That's why the Jews had to leave Egypt. Egypt was a spiritual nation. The
Egyptians were spiritual people. They knew the deepest spiritual secrets by
which they could even transform sticks into snakes and water into blood.
Jewish redemption means becoming connected to the Creator of the spiritual.
That is also the message of this week's section "Ach'ray Mot. To become
'higher' than death.. which is no more than a spiritual state.
Here is a story told by Rabbi Shmuel Gruzman Chabad representative in the
town 'Migdal' near Tiberius (Bait Moshiach Magazine #505) to help explain.
There are presently some six billion people in the world and all of them
were born. Seemingly, nothing seems more natural and far from religion or
miracles than having babies ….. until there are problems.
Rabbi Gruzman knew such a case; a religious Jewish couple that after many
years of marriage had no children.
They went to doctors, professors, and experts of all sorts both
conventional and unconventional but nothing helped.
They increased giving charity, prayed without respite and tried all the
recipes or concoctions they heard of but it didn't happen.
They were so desperate that the husband, although he was a sworn 'mitnagid'
(opposer of the 'chassidic' teachings of the Baal Shem Tov and the
'Chasidim' that follow them) even agreed to go visit Tzadikim (Chassidic
But the years passed and nothing happened.
Finally his father-in-law boldly suggested that they both go to see the
"Forget it!!" was the emphatic reply. "There is no way that you can get
I've heard about the 'Lubavitcher'… it's all a bluff!! Even worse than that
His father-in-law tried to convince him otherwise but there was simply no
one to talk to. He refused to even bring up the subject.
But another year passed with no change. They tried new methods, even flew
to Europe for a treatment or two. And all that time his father-in-law
calmly had been 'softening him up' about the Rebbe, throwing in a word or
a question or two until his son-in-law finally admitted that not only had
he never even heard a concrete reason why to oppose the Rebbe …. he never
even dared to ask.
But there was another reason he couldn't go; all his friends were
mitnageds… if they heard he had visited the 'Lubavitcher' he would become
So it was arranged that he would travel with his wife in such a way that
no one would know about it. They would go one Sunday morning when
thousands of people waited in line to receive a dollar from the Rebbe and
would dress unusually so no one would recognize them.
It worked! They stood in line, never looked up and no one noticed them.
Finally they were standing before the Rebbe. The husband just looked down
and said nothing but his wife asked for a blessing for children. The Rebbe
gave her three dollars and blessed her with good news saying 'one dollar
is for you, the other for your husband and the third is for the child'!
They both felt something special… something 'clicked'. It was different.
Even he admitted it. But it wasn't to be so simple; another year passed
with no news.
She made up her mind to go again and asked her husband to join her but
this time he would have no part of it.
"You fooled me once," he shouted "You aren't going to do it again! In
fact, you know what??" He pulled out his wallet and took out the dollar
she had given it to him a year ago and waived it in the air almost
throwing it at her and yelled, "I have no need for this dollar of the
But she had made up her mind. The next Sunday she went again to 770 (the
Rebbe's headquarters on 770 E. Parkway in Brooklyn) to stand in line and
ask for another blessing. But when she again stood face to face with him
she froze.. she simply couldn't speak a word.
The Rebbe gave her a dollar and blessed her with good news… thousands of
people were waiting behind her… she had taken enough of the Rebbe's time.
She was just about to continue walking on when the Rebbe held out another
dollar and said "This is for your husband…. If he doesn't want it you hold
on to it yourself! And here is a third dollar for the birth… an addition
to the first one."
When her husband heard what the Rebbe said he was really impressed. "How
could he possibly know that I didn't want the dollar? And how did he
remember that he had given you a dollar? Why, it was over a year ago!"
But it was nothing compared to when he found out what the Rebbe meant by
"an addition to the first one":
Nine months later she gave birth to …. Twins!
This answers our questions.
The fact that G-d created the world and made man in it to serve Him is a
miracle. That is represented by the month of Tishre: the month that
contains the holidays of 'service' and 'repentance': Rosh HaShanna and Yom
But, like in our story, all that can be taken for granted: nature, birth,
even service of the Creator can become limited.
Therefore, once in awhile G-d gives us obstacles to make us realize that
EVERYTHING is really miracles.
That is represented by the month of Nissan and the holiday of Passover.
Like in our story the couple realized that birth and life is much more
miraculous than they ever dreamed.
That is also hinted at in the name of our section; Achray Mot means "After
death". In other words; after a person 'dies' to his old limited outlook
on life then he/she can really begin to live 'Jewish'… in a way that is
always appreciating the miraculous powers and opportunities that G-d
This is the purpose of Moshiach. Just as the Rebbe did and is still doing
to the Jewish people: to make them see the 'redemption' and true infinite
meaning in every detail of the world.
All we need to do is open our eyes and do all we can to see....
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