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  • BYB Office

Dear Faculty, Parents and Students,

There is always a special excitement which accompanies the start of a new ספר in the תורה.

Sefer Shemos begins with the listing of the names of the שבטים. The ספורנו comments:

“אלה הנזכרים בכאן היו ראוים להוודע בשם, כי כל אחד מהם ראוי להיות נחשב איש על שמו

המורה על צורתו האישיית, ואלה כל ימי חייהם היו למאורות."

“Each of the שבטים earned the privilege of being listed by name in the תורה, as a person’s name demonstrates their unique individuality. Each of the שבטים were unique, and each one was a shining inspiration for their entire lives”

This week the girls started their Midterm Journey. It is hard to believe that the first half of the year passed by. As we look at our girls, we are awed and inspired by their personal and academic growth over the past five and a half months. Their commitment to each other and to achieving excellence is truly remarkable. Ahava, Tehillah, Esther, Hadassa, Ayala, Esther Shifra and Naamah, each of you deserves to be mentioned by name. We are so proud of every one of you. May you continue to grow and be מאורות, sources of light and inspiration, to all those who are privileged to know you.

Wishing you an illuminating Shabbos,

Mrs. Malka Halpern and Mrs. Shaindie Schiller

  • Rabbi Binyomin Halpern

“Nothing is forever.” “There are limits to everything.” We tend to hear such statements all the time. (This is especially true regarding an ice cream cone, on a sunny Florida day.)

Most things in this world are indeed finite. Time, money, even life. But what if I were to tell you that there is something that we have, that we can create that is infinite? No, I am not talking about mitzvos, or Torah learning, or even reward in olam haba.

I’m talking about the ability to give brachos to others, and specifically, to our children.

וַיְבָ֨רְכֵ֜ם בַּיּ֣וֹם הַהוּא֮ לֵאמוֹר֒ בְּךָ֗ יְבָרֵ֤ךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר יְשִֽׂמְךָ֣ אֱלֹקים כְּאֶפְרַ֖יִם וְכִמְנַשֶּׁ֑ה וַיָּ֥שֶׂם אֶת־אֶפְרַ֖יִם לִפְנֵ֥י מְנַשֶּֽׁה׃

And he [Yaakov] blessed them on that day saying “With you, Israel shall bless saying ‘May Hashem make you like Ephraim and Menashe’ (Gen. 48:20)

Rashi explains this pasuk to be referring to the brachos that Jewish parents constantly give their children

הַבָּא לְבָרֵךְ אֶת בָּנָיו יְבָרְכֵם בְּבִרְכָתָם וְיֹאמַר אִישׁ לִבְנוֹ יְשִׂימְךָ אֱלֹקים כְּאֶפְרַיִם וְכִמְנַשֶּׁה:

One who comes to bless his sons, blesses them with [Ephraim and Menashe’s] blessing, and a man will say to his son ‘May Hashem make you like Ephraim and Menashe’

The famous question is: Why specifically these two? What was special about Ephraim and Menashe, that forever afterwards, parents bless their children with their bracha?

There are many answers to this question, but let me share with you the explanation of R’ Yeruchem Levovitz zt’l, famed Mashgiach of the Mir yeshiva.

The bracha that we give our children is not as much about the recipients, Ephraim and Menashe,as it is about the giver of the blessing, and the specialness of Yaakov’s bracha to them.

Anyone can give a bracha, but not all brachos are the same, or have the same power. Yaakov’s bracha at that moment, when he was leaving this world and passing on his legacy to his grandchildren, was unbelievably powerful. So powerful, that by merely invoking that bracha, all of klal yisroel forever after can tap into and access the bracha of Yaakov avinu to Ephraim and Menashe.

Where does the power of brachos come from and how can we make ours more powerful?

At the end of Parshas Vayeietzei, Lavan, gives brachos to his family; to his daughters, Rochel and Leah, and to his grandchildren. R’ Ovadia Seforno points out that even Lavan, who was surely not a tzadik, can give a powerful and meaningful bracha. The power of a bracha comes from the heart, and it comes from the soul. Often, we give and receive short standard brachos, however, every once in a while, especially at meaningful times, (eg. a wedding, a bris, or a tearful goodbye) we can conjure up brachos that can last forever. When we give brachos to our children on Friday night, or to anyone at any time, let us realize the power of the moment. In tapping into our deepest feelings of love and generosity, we can give and create something eternal.

Wishing everyone a beautiful Shabbos,

Rabbi Binyomin Halpern

  • Rabbi Binyomin Halpern

In all probability, someone did something wrong to you recently, and you are still waiting for them to admit their mistake. It is difficult to see, and definitely to admit, when we are wrong.

In Parshas Vayeishev, as the saga of Yosef and his brothers unfolds, Yosef is thrown into the bor, the pit, near Shechem. Reuvain returns to the pit, attempting to save Yosef, but unfortunately he is too late.

Where is Reuvain returning from?

Rashi tells us

עָסוּק הָיָה בְשַׂקּוֹ וּבְתַעֲנִיתוֹ עַל שֶׁבִּלְבֵּל יְצוּעֵי אָבִיו:

(רש"י בראשית ל"ז:כ"ט)

Reuvain had been doing teshuva, fasting and wearing sackcloth, for the sin of disturbing and disrespecting his father’s bed, [when upon Rochel’s passing, Yaakov placed his bed in Bilhah’s tent, instead of the tent of Reuvain’s mother, Leah.]

Interestingly, Hashem then declared the following: “until this time, no one had sinned before Me and done teshuva! It is only fitting that your descendant Hoshea, will be the one to bring up the topic of teshuva for Klal Yisroel, with the words שובה ישראל (Hoshea 14:2)

R’ Yaakov Yitzchak Ruderman, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Ner Yisroel, Baltimore posed the following question. Weren’t there many others who did teshuva before Reuvain? What about Kayin, and even Adam Harishon who did teshuva for 130 years for his sin of eating from the Eitz Hada’as, the Tree of Knowledge? What does Hashem mean that Reuvain was the first one to do teshuva?

Reuvain was definitely not the first person in the world to do teshuva. But he established a new type of teshuva, in a scenario in which no one had ever repented from previously. Adam’s sin was clear, and he knew it. G-d said ‘don’t eat from the tree, and he did. Kayin’s sin was clear and he admitted so as well. Reuvain’s sin was different because he was well intentioned. The gemara in Shabbos (55b) says that it is incorrect to categorize reuvain’s actions as a full sin at all. Although he shouldn’t have done what he did, but he did it out of כיבוד אם, standing up for the honor of his mother! When something you do is at least partially correct, and you have noble intentions, it is extremely hard to see any fault whatsoever. So much so that in the history of the world, it took approximately 2216 years (the Jewish year that Yosef was sold) for a well intended person to see his mistake and do teshuva.

Chanuka, as a time of gratitude, simcha and generosity, is a great time to take stock of our actions and relationships. In identifying situations where we may have been “partially wrong” we can reforge commitments and connections. Reuvain lit the flame thousands of years ago to start a legacy of teshuva, and we have the opportunity to keep it lit and pass it on to the next generation.

Wishing everyone a beautiful Shabbos,

Rabbi Binyomin Halpern

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