Skip To Content


L’chvod Rav Avi, Rabbi Lopatin, Rabbi Linzer, Rabbi Love, Rav Katz and the rest of the faculty and staff, Obviously, we are grateful that you have created a holy place of learning for both Chai and Tzachi. But do you realize the profound influence you have had and continue to have in our lives? Thank you for helping us to create an open orthodox home where Torah is observed consciously. Thank you for modeling for us how to live the Torah that we learn. Thank you for helping us to raise our children with the knowledge that they could question anything that did not make sense to them, and that that is a proper and healthy attitude to apply to all aspects of Torah living. It brings us tremendous comfort and gives us strength knowing that Yeshivat Chovevei Torah is here to inspire and guide all of us.

With heartfelt thanks,
Estelle and Harvey Posner
Parents of Chai Posner (YCT ’10) and Tzachi Posner (YCT ’17)

What Communities Are Saying About YCT Rabbis

Eytan Yammer has provided remarkable leadership in the synagogue and the community. Rabbi Yammer’s sensitivity and learning have been a great gift for the congregation, which is made up of members with extremely diverse backgrounds and practices. And Rabbi Yammer carries his deep knowledge with humility… He and Marisa are respected and loved in the community.

Daniel J. Siegel

Knesseth Israel Congregation

Birmingham, Alabama

Home arrow Learning arrow Parshat Beha'alotkha
Parshat Beha'alotkha PDF Print E-mail
Written by webtools   
Wednesday, 06 June 2012

The Enormous Importance of the Spiritual Consciousness

June 8-9, 2012/ 19 Sivan 5772

By Rabbi Avi Weiss

In this week's parsha, God tells Moshe (Moses) that a person (ish) who is impure because of contact with a dead body (tameh lanefesh) or too far away from Jerusalem (derekh rehoka) is given a second chance to eat the paschal lamb. (Numbers 9:10-11)

The phrase tameh lanefesh speaks about a spiritual deficiency - when one has contact with a dead body, emotional and religious turbulence sets in.

The phrase vederekh rehoka, speaks of a physical impediment - one who is simply too far away to partake of the paschal lamb on time.

Indeed, throughout Jewish history we have faced both spiritual and physical challenges.  What is most interesting is that in the Torah the spiritual challenge is mentioned first.  This is because it is often the case that the Jewish community is more threatened spiritually than physically.  

Despite its rise, anti-semitism is not our key challenge.  The threat today is a spiritual one.  The spiraling intermarriage rate among American Jews proves this point.  In America we are so free that non-Jews are marrying us in droves.  The late Prof. Eliezer Berkovits was correct when he said that from a sociological perspective, a Jew is one whose grandchildren are Jewish.  The painful reality is that large numbers of the grandchildren of today's American Jews will not be Jewish.

And while we are facing grave danger in Israel, thank God, we have a strong army which can take care of its citizens physically.  Yet, in Israel, it is also the case that it is the Jewish soul, rather than the Jewish body, that is most at risk.  

Most interesting is that even the phrase vederekh rehoka, which, on the surface, is translated as a physical stumbling block, can be understood as a spiritual crisis. On top of the last letter of rehoka (the heh), is a dot.  Many commentators understand this mark to denote that, in order to understand this phrase, the heh should be ignored.  As a consequence, the term rahok, which is masculine, cannot refer to derekh which is feminine.  It rather refers to the word ish, found earlier in the sentence. (Jerusalem Talmud Psakhim 9:2) The phrase therefore may refer to Jews who are physically close to Jerusalem yet spiritually far, far away.  

The message is clear.  What is needed is a strong and passionate focusing on spiritual salvation.  The Torah teaches that the Jewish community must continue to confront anti-Semitism everywhere. But while combating anti-Semitism is an important objective in and of itself, the effort must be part of a far larger goal - the stirring and reawakening of Jewish consciousness throughout the world.



Connect with YCT