(Haftara: Shabbat Nachamu: Isaiah 40:1-26)
1. [4:1] “…the laws which I teach you…” Moshe was the leader of the Israelites. He gave laws, prayed that they would win wars, defended them and did many other things. However, we call him Moshe Rabbenu—Moshe our teacher. Why is teaching considered the most praiseworthy role for Moshe and for us?
2. [4:1] Rav Kuk (1865-1935) respects the role of teacher, but says that there is a negative aspect to teaching–the teacher is in a role that presupposes a kind of superiority—“I know more than you”. Do you agree with this criticism? Is there a way of avoiding this negative aspect of teaching?
3. [4:34] “…by trials, by signs, and by miracles…” In modern physics, we speak about anti-matter, and black holes in space and many very strange phenomena. What is a miracle in modern times?
4. [4:39] “…God is God in heaven above and on the earth below…” There are religious systems that only value heaven, and there are others that only value earth. We try to make heaven on earth—make earth heavenly. What commandments do we have that try to “make earth heavenly”?
5. [Haftara 40:4] “Every valley shall be lifted up and every mountain and hill shall be made low”. This messianic vision seems to say that in messianic times there will be no need to struggle. Other sources, however seem to say that there will be struggle in the time of messianic consciousness. The messianic era is supposed to be the ideal era. Do you think that there will be struggle in the messianic era or not?
[5:5] “I stood between God and you…”
The “I-ness”—the selfish ego of people is that which stands between God and the person. As long as a person is ruled by his or her selfish ego, he or she cannot come to Godliness, but if one rules over one’s own passions and desires, then one can come to Godliness.
–Rabbi Moshe Pallier of Kobrin, Belarus (Chassidic Rebbe, 1784 – 1858)
This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker
And to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer