Eyal, Gilad, Naftali.

Gilad, Eyal, Naftali.

Naftali, Gilad, Eyal.

Three boys. Our three boys.

I have listened to many shiurim, been to tefillah groups, davened, called out to Hashem to brings these boys home safely, speedily. We can so easily lay the blame for this tragedy at the feet of any number of parties – it’s the fault of the Palestinians, the boys shouldn’t have tried to ‘tramp’ home, it’s our own fault – why didn’t we do more mitzvot, daven more, speak less lashon hara? Why? Why? Why?

We can so easily be caught up in this game of blame.

Instead, I have chosen to revel in this wonderful thing that is the broader Jewish community, a global entity that lives and breathes in all of us. A spiritual, non tangible thing that draws us in like super glue, catching us in its wave and flowing over us with warmth. How blessed are we that we belong in this way, that we have a connection to other people, that when tragedy strikes, there is an outpouring of support from all corners of the Earth and beyond, that we are never alone.

I can’t help thinking about those Nigerian girls, still missing, still lost. Where is their ongoing wave of support? Where is their community crying out for their return?

I can’t begin to imagine the trauma that these families are experiencing, the shock of not knowing, the uncertainty of it all. I can feel the love, though, and surely, it is that that will bring them through this, out into the other side? Surely, knowing that you are not alone counts for something?

So, instead of doubting or questioning, recommit yourself to the magic of this Jewish community, join in the wave of Jewish commitment and continuity. Add something more to your Mitzvah plate – it can be anything. Smile at someone, take a moment to rejoice in this beautiful world that Hashem has created for us. And do it all in the name of #GiladEyalNaftali, that they should be speedily and safely returned.


Shoftim: Yael


Well, we have finished Pirkei Avot – finally! – and have now plunged into Sefer Shoftim, not to be confused with Parsha Shoftim. 

I listened to a fascinating shiur by Kochava Yitzchak which detailed the role of Yael in the Sefer and her connection to Eshet Chayil. I thought it was well worth sharing so I have transcribed the Shiur and pasted it below. Please bear in mind that they are my notes so you would be better off listening to the actual Shiur. I hope you all enjoy it!

Women of Valour: Yael

Yaldeya shilcha … Eshet Chayil – she stretches her hands out to the distaff and her palms hold the spindle (spinning wool)

Midrash: She sends her hand out to the spindle = Yael. Why is she described this way? Wool/spinning instruments are typically female instruments. Yael embraced this feminine aspect of herself. When Yael in her moment of heroism had to kill Sisra she did not use a sword, rather she used a tent peg with the strength of her hands. Why didn’t she use a weapon of war? She was very sensitive to a pasuk in the Torah that a woman should not use a male instrument and a man should not use a woman’s instrument – – what is going on here?? What is the point of this explanation?? What are we supposed to learn?

Jewish people living in Israel, there is no king and the people have been living there for about 100 years. The rulers are judges/shoftim. At the time the leader was Devorah. For 20 year the people were being oppressed by a King called Yavin, king of C’naan. Why is there another king ruling over the land of Israel? Even though Joshua had conquered Israel, the Canaanites had been trying to establish control and had settled a capital city in the centre of the region. Sisra was a general and had achieved great heights. All he was missing was Israel to make his ultimate conquest. He has a big army (9000 iron chariots) and all he needs to do is conquer Israel.

Hashem had told Devorah that he was going to create a battle and the Jewish people were going to triumph. The battle ensues, Devorah is in charge and all the soldiers were killed and only Sisra remains – the most dangerous of them all. Sisra runs to the tent of Yael, the wife of Chever who comes from the people of the Kaynim – Yitro was from the Kaynim. Chever is from this tribe and is married to Yael and Sisra runs there because there was peace between the King of C’naan and the family of the Kayni so he thought that it would be a safe place for him to go.

Yael understands that he is coming and she realizes the import of this event so she goes out to meet Sisra – who else goes out of her tent? Leah too goes out of her tent to great her husband. Yael is compared to Leah – when a woman goes out of her tent there is an implication … Yael beckons him and covers him with a blanket (smecha) – sura, sura adoni – come, turn aside, come to me …. He asks for water and instead of getting it she goes to her container of milk and gives it to him and he starts to doze off. She kills him with a tent peg – bloody scene. Barak is running outside, he had been following Sisra. Yael goes out to greet (again she goes out of her tent) Barak and calls him to show him that Sisra is dead.

What was so amazing out Yael that this tremendous victory came through her? Simple say the Rabbis, she was a kosher Jewish woman who did the will of her husband… She does the will of her husband – she brings to life (gives reality) all the new energy from her husband. (Read Pasuk and listen to the words and the music – hissing …sly)…

Yael was not typical – she was the kind of woman who when you met her, you did not forget her. There were 4 women who inspired lust, passion, desire in other men in various ways –

–       Rachav = was a prostitute and she inspired lust with her name.

–       Yael = inspired lust with her voice. This was part of her greatness (she did not abuse this power). She knew she had magic in her voice!

–       Avigal = she inspired passion just by remembering her.

–       Michal Bat Shaul = inspired passion by her appearance.

Why does she get the milk? She needed to know what he had in mind – milk can get you drunk – real milk straight from the cow – she wants to know the truth about his intentions. When he had drunk he demanded that she do something inappropriate. Once she understood his true intention she had to take action.

Debate: Did Yael actually do anything with Sisra? Gemara tells us: it is greater to do a sin when you are doing it for the sake of a mitzvah – this has more value than doing a mitzvah for your own selfish purposes. Yael is the proof for this notion – seems to indicate that she compromised herself for lofty intentions.

Devorah sings a song of praise to Hashem and among the people she praises is Yael. She says of Yael: Yael should be blessed above all other women because he asked for water and she gave him milk/cream etc. He fell/knelt/lay between her feet, and there where he fell, he vanquished – number of verbs for falling = 7 verbs > from this pasuk the Rabbis understand that he had relations with her seven times. Or, perhaps this is just for emphasis?

Blanket: with a ‘sin’ not a ‘samech’ (semicha) – not repeated elsewhere in this way, therefore can’t just be a blanket = shmi co – my name is here (Hashem), Hashem is testifying that Sisra did not touch Yael.

Who are the women of the tent? Sarah, Rivka, Rachel, Leah – the women who preserved everything that was holy and sacred in the tent. Had it not been for Yael then the evil Sisra would have killed off the Jewish people.  So, while Sarah, Rivka, Rachel, Leah brought the Jewish people in to the world, Yael allowed their survival.

Don’t think that Yael was abusing the power of her voice (her voice makes her unlikely to be one of the women of the tent) – she is always referred to as “the wife of chever” – she embraced her role as a wife.

Three people in the Torah were put in a terrible test of sexual immorality, and were able to successfully pass the test and Hashem added his name to their name: Yosef (Tehillim he is called Yehosef) and Potifar’s wife, Yael (Ya-El – the name of Hashem is upon her), Palti

Batya also sends her hand to grab something – Moshe – from the teyva (same letters BATYA = TEYVA). Yael sends her hand she grabs the tent peg. Rabbis make a connection between these women – Batya’s basket and Yael’s tent peg = if not for the basket you would never have a tent peg. Connection: if Batya had not sent her hand to grab the basket with baby Moshe then we would never have a Moshe. But, she did. Moshe grows up, gets into trouble by standing up for the Jews, kills the Egyptian and gets in trouble with Paro who wants to kill him. Moshe runs away to Yitro. Yitro takes him in at his own danger and gives his daughter for Moshe to marry. Because Yitro took Moshe in, he merits to have an offspring (Chever) who is going to marry Yael who is going to kill Sisra who is a reincarnation of Paro.

 Cain and Abel (Adam’s children) > Cain kills Abel because Abel was born with two twin sisters and Cain was born with only 1 twin sister. Cain wants Abel’s second sister. – this was confusing.

What does it mean to be Eshet Chayil? The secret of an EC is that you pull out of your pocket whatever character trait is necessary in that moment.

Another woman who stands in stark contrast to Yael – here is Yael who does not abuse her power, she is contrasted with Sisra’s mother who looks out of the window and cries > where is Sisra? Her ladies in waiting imply that Sisra is out enjoying the spoils of war – two wombs for each man, it will take time. Sisra – his name encapsulates his downfall. Sisra = turning aside (lasur = to get off your straight path and turn aside.).

Compare Yael to Leah – Leah comes out of her tent while Yaacov was riding on his donkey which Hashem ensured made donkey noises. That night, Leah and Yaacov are together and she conceives Yisachar. When Yisachar gets his blessings he is compared to a donkey because a donkey carries a heavy burden. Yisachar carried the burden of Torah, the yoke of Torah. Another woman who goes out = when Yael goes out (like Leah) to greet Sisra (just like Leah goes out for Yaacov) and Leah and Yaacov created Yisachar, so too when Yael went out to Sisra she created Rabbi Akiva – not Yael’s direct child but a descendent of Sisra. Rabbi Akiva is a reincarnation of Yisachar. Rabbi Akiva for the first 40 years of his life he was not Torah observant but he also hated Torah scholars. He used to say that if he found a Torah scholar on the street he would bite him like a donkey.

Switch around the letters of Yael’s name and you get Eli from the story of Chana. Yael, the woman of the tent, comes back as Eli who is the High Priest in the mishkan. Yael’s husband is Chever. Chever was originally Rachav (prostitute), same shoresh. Chever gets reincarnated as Chana.

Yael spins wool and linen – Shatnez. Cain and Abel – Cain was a shepherd, a man of wool and Abel was a man of the field, a man of flax seeds, linen. Cain and Abel represent wool and linen – two different lifestyles. Yael knew how to combine the wool and the linen successfully. She knows how to use her power of linen (outside) and to take her power of wool (inside) and combine them so that they work successfully together and does not cause tragedy for her. Wool and linen exist in tzitzit (wool strings and linen garment) and also in the clothing of the cohanim – when Yael comes back as Eli there is a connection… a High Priest is an all encompassing being… like Yael.

Pirkei Avot, Chapter 3:3


רבי שמעון אומר, שלושה שאכלו על שולחן אחד, ולא אמרו עליו דברי תורה–כאילו אכלו מזבחי מתים, שנאמר “כי כל שולחנות, מלאו קיא צואה, בלי, מקום” (ישעיהו כח,ח).  אבל שלושה שאכלו על שולחן אחד, ואמרו עליו דברי תורה–כאילו אכלו משולחנו של מקום ברוך הוא, שנאמר “וידבר אליי–זה השולחן, אשר לפני ה'” (יחזקאל מא,כב

R. Shimon would say: Three who eat at a single table and do not say words of Torah are akin to those who eat from idolatrous offerings as it says “For all tables are full of filthy vomit and no pace is clean” (Yeshayahu 28:8). However, three who eat at a single table and say words of Torah are like those that partake from God’s table as it says: “This is the table that is before God” (Yechezkel 41: 22). (Avot 3:3)


From CHABAD: On the surface, Rabbi Shimon’s message is simple and straightforward: utilize your mealtimes to share the wisdom of Torah.  This way, the mundane activity of eating becomes a lofty and G-dly endeavor.

But surely the same applies to a single diner or to many who eat scattered about the room. Why “three who eat”?  And why specifically when they eat at “one table”?  On a deeper level, Rabbi Shimon conveys the true significance of our need for food.

Hunger In Two Dimensions

The human being consists of two primary components: the physical body and the soul that gives it life and direction.  The same is true of every created thing: its physicality and substance is but its outer husk. Within is a “soul,” an inner, spiritual essence and significance.

Ultimately, the soul of the entire universe is one: the drive to fulfill its Creator’s will. At creation, this unified “soul” splintered into a myriad of individual “sparks” that now form the core of every created thing.

But unlike the human soul, who exercises will and choice, all other creatures are passive containers of their purpose and utility.  They depend upon man, the crown and apex of G-d’s creation, to develop and utilize them in accordance with the Creator’s design.  It is man to whom the Torah, which outlines this design, has been given, and it is man who has been granted the franchise and the tools to implement it.

So the soul of man descends into the trials and trappings of physical life in order to gain access to these “sparks of holiness”:  By investing itself within a physical body which will eat, clothe itself, and otherwise make use of the objects and forces of the physical universe, the soul redeems the “sparks” that they incorporate.  For when man utilizes something, directly or indirectly, to serve G-d’s will, he penetrates its shell of mundanity, revealing and realizing its function within the essence and purpose of existence.

This explains a most puzzling fact of life: Why is it that man derives life and sustenance from the animal, vegetable, and mineral worlds?  How is it that the highest form of life is dependent upon these lower tiers of creation?

But in truth, man’s need of the nutrients that his environment provides him (and the many other material resources that sustain and enhance his life) is the manner in which these elements reach fulfillment.  When man makes positive use of the energy he derives from them, they become elevated to a station they could never attain on their own.  They become an integral part of a conscious, willful being who elects to serve the Almighty.  The meat of the beast, the grain in the bread, the water that quenches our thirst, these become the essence of an act of charity, an hour expended in the study of G-d’s wisdom, a feeling of love for G-d in prayer.

In this way, Rabbi DovBer of Mezeritch explained the verse: “The hungry and thirsty, in them does their soul wrap itself.”   A person desiring food may sense only his body’s hunger; but, in truth, his physical craving is the external expression of a deeper yen.  “Wrapped within” is his soul’s hunger for the sparks of holiness that are the object of his mission in life.

Three At One

When a person sits to eat there are three partners to the endeavor: his body, his soul, and the food–the vital glue that keeps body and soul together as a living organism.

But if his eating is dominated by the perspective of Torah, these “three who eat” do so at a single table.  Their eating is an act of unification, a revelation of the underlying oneness of creation and its connection to the One Creator.

New Beginnings: Yom Kippur, Tu B’Av and Tisha B’Av


This article explores the connection between Tu’B’av, Tisha’Be’Av and Yom Kippur. It is taken from morim-madrichim.org.

A full moon on a summer night. A dry, refreshing breeze caresses the hills. The perfume of ripened fruit floods the air. White, diaphanous dresses play in the moonlight and shadow of flourishing vineyards. Young people laugh and dance, going beyond the city walls in search of love.

According to the Talmud (Talmud Bavli, Tractate Ta’anit 30b-31a), this idyllic scene used to take place every 15 Av on the outskirts of Yerushalayim, only a few days after the fast commemorating the saddest day of the year, Tisha B’Av.

The two days, which appear absolutely irreconcilable, are actually united by more than their closeness in time. What is even more surprising is that this double act is a part of a triple: Rabbi Shimon Ben Gamliel (Ta’anit 4:8) considered Yom Kippur and Tu B’Av to be a pair, the two happiest days in the Jewish calendar.

The eyes, the heart, explorers, and discovery.

Tisha B’Av is a kind of North Star, a trusted guide to heartfelt love on a path we have a chance to discern on Tu B’Av. How so?

Twelve were the explorers—meraglim–sent out by Moshe. For forty days they remained in Eretz Kna’an before they returned to the desert. Their mission was clear: Latur et ha’aretz (“to discover, to explore the land”) (Num. 13). According to our rabbanim, the final report, and the consequent reaction in the hearts of the people upon hearing it (to weep and complain all night long), determined that the people’s entry into the Promised Land would be postponed by an entire generation (forty years). G_d was imagined as having declared: “These people have cried for no reason at all. I’ll give them a reason to cry on this day for all eternity!” The day on which this happened was identified as 9 Av.

We know that what we see depends on which glass we look through. And the meraglim looked upon the land with eyes and hearts lacking in faith.

The miracles (magnificent and grandiloquent, the exodus from Mitzraim, the crossing of the sea and the desert, the gift of the Torah and manna) were apparently not enough to instill belief.

On the subject of these paradigmatic meraglim, Rashi in his take on the Midrash Tanchuma, Shelach 15 (“they should not explore by following their hearts” – the heart and the eyes being the agents of the body that lead the body astray), changes its language slightly but significantly, maintaining that “The heart and the eyes are the spies of the body. They introduce it to sin: The eye sees, the heart desires, and the body transgresses.”

And one more factor adds complication to our reflections: Who leads? Do the eyes lead the heart or vice versa? Is it that, within the realm of all existing things and possibilities, we can see only what we desire? Or, do we desire because we pause to see?

Whatever the case, the Torah immediately offers us an antidote. So as not to repeat the errors of our ancestors in the desert, we have reminders: effective, forceful, daily reminders.

On the one hand, the mitzvah puts into perspective the tzitzit, which were given to us immediately after the episode involving the meraglim and which share etymology (latur, taturu), parashah, and semantics with that term.

More specifically, contemplation of the tzitzit symbolizes the opposite path from that leading to the spies’ transgression. It leads to adoption of a perspective nourished by faith, thus enabling us to explore the world fully, not merely with our eyes and the desires of our hearts.

Apparently this is the first tool any successful explorer should have to hand, and Av indicates that it is a conduit to true love: to choices based not only on the sense of sight and on desire but also on the spirit and faith.

The other element of the triplet, as suggested earlier, is Yom Kippur, which shares with Tu B’Av not only profound joy but also the transcendental values represented by this holiday.

Tu B’Av and Yom Kippur lead us to new beginnings that are the fruit of a time of introspection, far from the predominantly material considerations that dominate our lives throughout the rest of the year: one such new beginning is found in our interpersonal relations and the other in the intimacy of our own being.

Even in the midst of this idyllic scene of courtship and seduction on summer nights among vineyards, we are reminded that our vision and desires must be guided by values that transcend them.

None of the girls wore their own gowns. Instead, they submitted to the demand that their white dresses not belong to them but be borrowed, so that none of the men would be tempted to choose a woman on the basis of her social or material circumstances or the fanciness of her attire. And, although this requirement made it perfectly clear what the focus of the male’s attention should be, the women–who imposed the rules governing the scene of seduction–would proclaim: “Do not choose me for my beauty but for the good name of my family and for my respect and fear of G_d.” Don’t choose me on account of what you see, but on account of what I believe in, on account of what constitutes me.

These values are more than attractive items for a woman to carry in her purse, or a man in his pocket. They are reliable signposts providing guidance that points the way home, so that we don’t get lost in tortuous alleyways.

Pirkei Avot 4:18


Timing is Everything, Elana Mizrahi (from Chabad)

My son came home with a miserable look on his face. I knew what had happened even before he opened his mouth. I had warned him earlier in the morning when I saw the toy in his hand, “Don’t bring your new toy to school. It could easily get broken or lost.” Of course, he didn’t listen. So when I saw the look on his face, I knew. The toy was either lost or broken.

His story of woe spilled out like a gushing river. I was right. He had lost the toy.

What were the words on the tip of my tongue? What was the phrase I so much wanted to say? “I told you so!” I looked again at the sorrow on his face, at the tears in his eyes, and I kept my mouth shut.

“Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar said: Do not appease your fellow at the time of his anger; do not console him while his dead lies before him; do not question him about his vow at the time he makes it; nor attempt to see him at the time of his degradation.” (Ethics of Our Fathers 4:18)

In this teaching we have the secret to marital harmony; peace in the home; and happy, nurturing relationships. What is the secret? Timing. Timing is everything.

When a person is angry, rebuking him will only make him angrier. When a person is upset, giving her advice will only aggravate her further. With the timing of our words, we have the power to raise our loved ones up, or push them down still lower. As King Solomon teaches, “Everything has its season, and there is a time for everything under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Timing is everything.

Your husband comes home from a terrible day at work. You have all the utility bills in your hand, armed and ready to pounce on him as soon as he walks in the door. You see the defeated look on his face, and put the bills down. They can wait until the morning.

Your teenager comes home with a failed test. She was unorganized and waited until the last minute to study. You fold your arms and give her a glare. “I told you weeks ago that you needed to start studying!” Before the words leave your mouth, before you fold your arms, stop. Think. Is this the right time for discipline? “Do not attempt to see him at the time of his degradation.” It is our job as parents to teach, to transmit, and yes, to discipline. But if your child is angry or upset, then it’s not the right time. At such a time, nothing will penetrate the heart.

A friend received another rejection. “Cheer up,” you want to tell her. “It’s not so bad. Another opportunity will come along.” Stop. Wait. Is this the right time? There are times when encouragement is not appropriate. “Do not console him while his dead lies before him.” Instead of talking, just hold her hand, or maybe leave her alone. Follow her cues, and let her guide you.

Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar is certainly not telling us that we should not appease, not rebuke, not console. In fact, the Torah teaches us that we are obligated to do so, but at the right time and under the right conditions. Timing is everything.

Two Voices, Sara Yocheved Rigler


Taken from the book Lights from Jerusalem:

According to cognitive psychology, all human actions are in response to an ‘inner tape’ that plays nonstop in the human brain. This tape is most often recorded by heredity and environment. It tells us what to do, and like automatons, we obey: “That person just insulted you. Insult him back!” “That driver just cut you off. Get angry.”

This is the Torah’s definition of slavery. This is the voice of Pharaoh; it brooks no disobedience, nor does it even occur to us to disobey. There is no such thing as a bad slave, because a slave has no viable choices. For most of our waking hours, it does not even occur to us to disobey or change our inner tape.

In a world driven by the survival instinct and the pleasure principle, the Torah mandated an alternative way of life driven by holiness and spiritual values. The ethics of the Torah have become so imbued in Western civilisation that we may not realise what a radical alternative they offered to ancient man – and continue to offer to us today …

With the giving of the Torah, a human being was no longer a slave to the imperatives of his/her desires. A second voice – the Divine Voice – mandated a different, sacred course of action. The human being was free to choose. The exercise of choice itself is freedom.

That freedom entails choice is obvious when we observe the elections held in countries ruled by dictators. All the accoutrements of free elections are there, such as voting booths and secret ballots. But if only one candidate is running, the election is clearly not ‘free’. Freedom requires choice.

When Hashem gave the Jewish people the Torah, He gave us 613 choices. Observe Shabbat or not. Love your neighbour or not. Gossip or not. Unlike Pharaoh, Hashem, as you might have noticed, brooks a great deal of disobedience. That’s why a person who violates a Divine commandment is not struck by lightning. Immediate punishment would limit our freedom of choice. The ability to make moral choices is a Divine gift. It’s the only true freedom humans have.

The key phrase here is ‘moral choice.’ … Only in the moral realm do you have free choice. When your inner tape says to give tit for tat, to respond to an insult with an even more lethal barb, you have the power to change the tape. You have the power to ask yourself, ‘Is this who I really want to be?’ The very act of choosing between your knee-jerk response and the Divine imperative to be kind is freedom.

Each of us at every moment is heeding the voice of Pharaoh or the voice of Hashem. The voice of Pharaoh commands us to do what is instinctive, automatic, and reflexive. ‘Doing what comes naturally’ is the ultimate bondage because we exercise no power of choice.

The voice of Hashem, on the other hand, offers an alternative to instinct. For example, by commanding us not to take revenge (Leviticus 19:18), Hashem in effect is saying: ‘Your instinct is to hurt those who hurt you. By commanding you to act otherwise, I’m offering you the ability to choose a different course.’

The exercise of choice is the essence of freedom. Forget the taskmaster’s whip and the massive bricks. Each of us is enslaved every time we act on automatic pilot, every time we react according to our instinctual programming.

To experience liberation … we need only to break the bonds of instinct, to learn to deliberate and decide what we shall do or what we shall say, based on who we want to become – a slave of Pharaoh or a servant of Hashem.

Separations Between People, Rebbetzin Tzipporah Heller


The Maharal teaches that if we study the word shalom (peace) we can learn the deeper meaning behind it. The root of the word shalom is shalem (wholeness). Shalom is the complete picture. It begins with the letter shin which has three lines. The first line points towards the right which represents chesed, an outpouring of love and kindness. The second line leans towards the left which signifies boundaries, resistance, and overcoming evil. The bar on the bottom holds everything together. Anything that requires overcoming of the self is difficult to achieve. The shin tells us that the attractive pieces of the puzzle are no less part of the truth than the less attractive pieces.

 The next letter, lamed, is the highest letter of the aleph bet. It signifies the picture that joins together all the millions of pieces, namely Hashem‘s wisdom, which is above our wisdom.

 The last letter mem is closed. If the picture is whole, it is impregnable, it cannot be broken. If we live in peace we cannot be destroyed by our enemies, since there’s nothing for them to hold on to.

 Machloket (strife) gains its energy by latching on to what is lacking. When two people argue each has an agenda to prove that the other is missing something. This can go on and on. The nature of imperfection is to continually increase. A garment is hard to tear. Once it has even a small tear in it, it is easy to rip the rest.

People will always have flaws, because the good part of a person or group comes from the same root as the bad part. Anything with a good side has a potential bad side. You don’t have to focus on what’s lacking. You can choose to look at what’s there and see its beauty and integrity. If you hone in on what’s missing, it will become bigger and bigger until it overshadows the good.

 You can look at the same attribute from many angles. Let’s take the example of a husband and wife. She is more spontaneous and he is more pedantic. The flip side of spontaneity might be anger or talking too much. The husband could choose to focus on that until the good part of his wife’s nature is forgotten. He may be precise, honest, dedicated, and reliable. Yet she may choose to view him as boring or emotionless. Then it’s like the chet in machloket. The chet has a large opening on the bottom signifying endless descent.

 Machloket is very hard to get rid of. Once the words were said and the positions were taken, it’s difficult to go back. By nature, people enter easily into machloket because we all are different from one another. From that perspective no two people will get along. True shalom means coming together despite our individual differences.

 A person involved in machloket can sink so deeply that he’ll end up battling even against Hashem‘s presence. He may think the ends justify the means and commit evil in order to validate his side of the machloket. A person may go against his rav, which is tantamount to going against the Shechina. The mitzvah of U’bo tibdak teachesus to attach ourselves to a person who lives in ways that we aspire to. Studying how a tzaddik exemplifies good middot reveals an entirely different picture. This is how one can come closer to Hashem. Rebelling against one’s teacher is rebelling against the One Above.

 The next letter is kuf. It’s tail goes all the way down. This teaches us that the end of machloket is descent to gehinom. Gehinom is the absolute absence of Hashem. A baal machloket’s direction takes him to greater and greater separation from Hashem.

 The Midrash notes that the Torah does not say “ki tov” (this is good) on the second day of creation, yom sheini. Sheini comes from the word shoni – different. Being different is good when used well, when it is part of a something complete. Rav Yosi bar Chalafta said that gehinom (hell) was created on the second day. Gehinom is the tragic mixture of ego and shoni – affirmation of self above all others. Rav Chananya said machloket was created on the second day. Gehinom and machloket are one.

 The Zohar writes that Korach had a very great soul. Had he not become a baal machloket, he could have been the leader of the levi’im. He didn’t try to discern Hashem‘s picture of the puzzle. He only felt his personal frustration. Viewing things from his place of personal agenda, he claimed Moshe wasn’t big enough. He felt he could lead better. The truth, which he may not have been aware of, was that these feelings only came to him after Elitzafan was appointed nasi. What drove him to rebellion was the mistaken notion that someone had taken away what was coming to him.

 The last letter taf symbolizes ordinary day to day machloket. It is the conflict within ourselves when the different aspects of our personality war against each other. It is the battle of the heart and mind of the body and conscious. There’s also machloket within the family, where a person’s sense of self is so big that there’s no room for other people to have a role. When Hashem is removed from the picture, one’s ego takes over. A machloket in the home can lead to collapse of the family unit unless something stops it. Likewise, machloket within oneself can lead to disintegration of the personality unless something intervenes.

 Machloket usually burns itself out. The hot issues of yesterday are no longer significant today. The further a person descends to gehinom the less truth there is and the more ridiculous the machloket becomes. It does stay with the baalei machloket, whose whole identity is tied up in the machloket. Resolution is impossible for them. However, the issue itself will be forgotten and the baalei machloket will be stuck spending their life committed to an irrelevant issue.

 The fine line between defending truth and being a ba’al machloket is something we don’t negotiate very well. When you find yourself arguing against people who have a different opinion than yours, or battling yourself, consult with people who are uninvolved.

 May Hashem bless us to discern the truth in ourselves and other people. May He protect us from all our enemies within and without.