For more than three decades I have had the zechut to be involved with Torah education and the Rabbinate. I started my career teaching a mesivta class at the Lubavitcher Yeshivah, Brooklyn, New York and afterwards was invited to serve in an administrative capacity as a principal of the Hebrew department of the Lubavitcher Yeshivah.

Simultaneously, for more than two decades I have been in the Rabbinate as the Rav of the prestigious congregation Yeshivah of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York.

I thank Hashem for establishing my portion with those who dwell in the study of Torah and for giving me the zechut to be involved in the education of thousands of children.

During my early years of teaching I realized the need for the talmid to come to the Shabbat table prepared with a devar Torah on the weekly parshah. To meet this challenge I would prepare a weekly sheet with Torah thoughts in Yiddish. Afterwards as principal, I would give out a weekly Torah sheet in English. It was distributed in all the classes, and many of the teachers would review it with their students, so that they would be able to convey it fluently at the Shabbat table. The question/answer format is meant to stimulate the reader’s interest and to give each piece a clear focus. Many of the questions are famous ones which have received many different answers over the years.

Over the past decade, these weekly parshah sheets have, thank G‑d, become popular and have been very well received. They were faxed to other cities on a regular basis and given out in other schools.

Many colleagues and friends encouraged me to compile them in a book format and to publish it, but at first I was somewhat reluctant because it would require a complete rewriting and editing in order to achieve a uniform style, accessible for the mature reader. Also, the original Torah sheets did not have the sources, and searching for all the sources is very time-consuming.

Nevertheless, I yielded to the requests. After considerable effort this book is now a reality, thank G‑d. It gives me great pleasure to present to you, dear readers, the first volume, which covers Chumash Bereishit.

In addition to the aforementioned, the most compelling reason to publish is the following strictly personal matter:

For many years my children sat around our Shabbat table and enjoyed reading the weekly parshah sheets. Some of these thoughts have registered with them and left an indelible mark. Now they are all, thank G‑d, married and together with their spouses are conducting their own homes. Because of them and their children, I am publishing these works. It is my fervent wish and prayer that they and their families enjoy them and through it reminisce about their Shabbat experience at our home.

Moreover, in the sefer, I included some divrei Torah I heard from my grandfather, Rabbi Tzvi HaKohen ז"ל Kaplan. He was a great Talmid Chacham and a very righteous person. For twenty seven years he served as a Rosh Yeshivah in Yeshivah Torah Vodaath.

In addition, I also included some divrei Torah from my father Rabbi Shmuel Pesach ז"ל Bogomilsky. He was among the prominent talmidim of Rabbi Shimon ז"ל Shkop of Grodna and Rabbi Baruch Ber ז"ל Leibovitz of Kaminetz, and considered one of the elite talmidim when he studied later at the Mir Yeshivah in Poland. He was ordained by some of the Torah luminaries of the pre-World War era and highly praised for his Torah genius. In America, he served as the Rav of Congregation Anshei Teffilah, Bronx, New York for a short period of time and was acclaimed as a Gaon, Posek, and Darshan by prominent Rabbanim who knew him.

While delivering a drashah in his shul on Shabbat Parshat Shelach, he suffered a stroke and passed away that Motza’ei Shabbat at a very young age. I found his Torah thoughts in old notebooks which were written about sixty years ago and fortunately safeguarded by my mother ע"ה until her passing on the 29th of Tevet 5751.

When Yehudah pleaded before Yosef to release Binyamin, he said, “Venafsho keshurah benafsho,” — “His soul is bound up with his soul” (Bereishit 44:30). The word “keshurah” (קשורה) — “bound” — has the numerical value of 611, which is the same numerical value as the word “Torah” (תורה). Yaakov taught Binyamin Torah and through the study of Torah, their souls became connected.

Torah is the language that unifies Jews of past, present and future generations. Hopefully, the divrei Torah in this sefer will link together our family, past, present and future.



Why the name Vedibarta Bam?


The name Vedibarta Bam was chosen for the sefer because it originated from the weekly Torah sheets whose purpose was to enhance the Shabbat table, through “Talking of them” — discussing the divrei Torah of the parshah sheets.

Searching through many sefarim, I would select thoughts which I believed would provoke the interest the reader. Consequently, the people around the table would engage in Torah conversation and “Speak of them.”

Moreover, it is customary to inscribe the name of the author in the title of his sefer (see introduction to Sefer Rokeach). Therefore, the name Vedibarta Bam was chosen because the word “Bam” (במ) is an acronym for my family name and also my personal name.

My partner in life (until 120 years) is my wife Bracha. Together with her we, thank G‑d,have raised a beautiful family and pray that we merit to see much Yiddish and chassidish nachas.

When we became chatan and kallah a Lechaim was made for the family in my parents’ home. At the occasion, my uncle, Reb Shimon HaKohen Kaplan quoted a Midrash Rabbah in Devarim (11:2) which says that Psalm 24 “Who shall ascend unto the Mountain of G‑d?” refers to Moshe Rabbeinu. The Midrash concludes, “Yisa berachah mei’eit Hashem.” — “He shall receive a blessing from Hashem,” “Zeh Moshe” — This refers to Moshe. My uncle noted that the word ‘Yisa’ also means ‘He will marry’. Hence, homiletically the words of the Midrash can be interpreted to mean that Moshe’s marrying Bracha is a union which was made by Hashem.

Indeed, everything that happens is an act of individual divine providence (hashgachah pratit) and I am grateful to Hashem for giving me Bracha as a life companion. Her faithful support and patience throughout my career have definitely facilitated the journey. Her presence has truly brought a berachah — a blessing — into my life. Consequently, the sefer was named Vedibarta Bam because במ is an acronym for our personal names, Bracha and Moshe.

In accordance with the words of Rabbi Akiva to his students, “That which is mine and that which is yours comes from her, (Ketuvot 63:a), befittingly, her name is alluded to first.



Acknowledgments


Pursuant to the advice of our sages to begin with honoring the host (Berachot 63b), I express my sincerest gratitude to Yeshiva and Mesivta Torah Vodaath where I studied from my early youth until the highest shiur of Beit Midrash, and to Tomchei Tmimim Lubavitch where I continued my Torah studies and was ordained.

These two great citadels of Torah learning hosted me and instilled in me a love and yearning for Torah study and chassidut. I will always be indebted to them for their benevolence.

When Rabbi Elazar ben Shamua was asked, “In virtue of what did you merit longevity?” he replied, “never in my life have I made the Beit Midrash or synagogue a thoroughfare to get from one place to another” (Megillah 27b-Rambam, Tefilah 11:8).

In my father’s writing, he beautifully explains this as an allegory: In life man goes through many stages. As the person moves from one stage to the next, the previous one becomes history. Rabbi Elazar ben Shamua meant that he merited longevity because he did not consider the Beit Midrash where he learned Torah as a stage in his life which he passed through and graduated to go on to another stage in life. The Torah that he learned in the Beit Midrash became the way of life which he followed and ‘lived’ throughout all his years.

It is my prayer that throughout my lifetime I should “know Him in all my ways” (see Proverbs 3:6). This will be the ‘thank you’ my yeshivot will undoubtedly appreciate most.

The comments from teachers at the Yeshivah were welcomed and greatly appreciated; particularly I thank Rabbi Abraham A. Piekarski who assisted me in the very early stages by contributing Torah thoughts.

The Lubavitcher Yeshivah is fortunate to have Rabbi Dr. Alter Ben Zion Metzger as a adjunct faculty member. On a weekly basis he would review and edit the Torah Sheets and enhance them with his profound Torah insight and divinely blessed capability of writing. His comments and enthusiastic encouragement are immensely appreciated.

Rabbi Metzger acquainted me with Dr. Binyomin Kaplan, an instructor of English at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana. He in turn reviewed and edited the manuscript from cover to cover. Thanks to his proficiency and constructive criticism, the sefer is clear and aesthetically appealing. I am very thankful to him for his dedication and indulgence, and wish him much success in all of his endeavors.

The success of the project is greatly due to the devoted secretaries who served our Yeshivah over the years, particularly, Mrs. Devorah Kroll, my daughters Miriam (Fellig) and Yehudis (Leiter), Mrs. Debbie Cadaner, and Miss Shlomit Waks. Their dedication to this project, invaluable suggestions, and patience are sincerely appreciated. For their assistance in disseminating Torah, may they be blessed with the fulfillment of their heart’s desires and much Yiddish and chassidish nachas.

Yosef Yitzchok Turner of Sichos In English worked diligently on the layout and typography of the sefer. I am indebted to him. Rabbi Yonah Avtzon, Director of Sichos In English is credited for bringing this work to the public at large. Their suggestions and skills were valuable assets for which I thank them most profusely.

Last but not least, I extend advance thanks to you, dear readers, for your insight and comments. They will be received with high regard and will enhance the future volumes I anticipate publishing, please G‑d.

Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky

15 Elul, 5755

* * *

I wish to express my sincere thanks to Dr. Abraham Boyarsky, Professor, Concordia University and Director TAV (Torah and Vocation) Institute, Montreal, Canada for his critical and meticulous reading of the Vedibarta Bam Torah series. His many valuable suggestions and helpful comments enhance the current edition.

Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky

24 Sivan, 5761



Note on Transliteration and Format


Transliteration generally employs the Sephardi accent, with the following usages:

1. Words with a final hei are spelled with a final “h.”

2. “Ei” (the vowel-sound in “freight”) is used for a tzere.

3. “Ai” is used for the vowel-sound in the word “tide.”

4. An apostrophe is used between distinct consecutive vowels, as in “Ba’al.”

5. An “e” is used for a vocalized sheva, i.e. “bemeizid,” not “b’meizid.”

6. “F” is preferred to “ph.”

7. “O” is used for cholem.

8. Doubling of consonants is generally avoided.

Use of Italics:

Transliterated Hebrew words are generally given in italics without capitalization, except for proper nouns, which are capitalized and, in the case of names, not italicized. Some exceptions are made for very familiar Hebrew words, such as “Torah.”

English and Hebrew:

Names of Biblical persons and names of the books of the Pentateuch are given in Hebrew, but other books of Tanach are given in English; thus “Moshe” is preferred to “Moses,” “Bereishit” to “Genesis,” and “Proverbs” to Mishlei.” Generally English words are preferred to Hebrew ones, but often the content requires the use of the Hebrew.

Exceptions:

Exceptions to these rules most often involve forms already familiar to the English reader, forms that would otherwise be awkward, and ones likely to be mispronounced.