Friday, March 30, 2018

Friday, March 23, 2018

Parshas Tzav Messages 5778


Last Public Sicha of Maran HaRav Shteinman zt"l -- with Rough Enlgish Translation!


The following is a rough English translation: Mori V’Rabbosai:  Baruch Hashem, our Yeshiva was zoche (had the merit) during its years of existence to rear prominent Torah scholars, fearers of Heaven; Baruch Hashem.  HaKadosh Baruch Hu should help us further; so He should add to increase Torah and fear of Heaven.  And we will say a few words:

“As we know, in the Midrash [to] Parshas Vayikra, in the parsha that we are reading, it is written that Agrippas the king wanted to bring many Karbanos (Offerings) -- a thousand Karbanos on one day!  A thousand Karbanos!  But he requested one thing:  That even one should not precede him.  What is the simple meaning of ‘should not precede’?  It should not be more accepted (alt. favorable). The intention was not [regarding] to precede in time; only that it should not be more accepted (/favorable).  

“However, a poor person came and he said, “My master, Kohen Gadol!  Bring close for me two turtledoves or two young doves to offer them.” He [the Kohen Gadol] said to him, “The king commanded me that I was not to offer [anything] outside from his.” He [the poor man] said to him, “My master, Kohen!  If you do not offer them, you are ruining me (my livelihood), that I will not be zoche (have the merit) to anything.” And when he [the Kohen Gadol] heard this, he went and offered them.  

“At night, Agrippas the king dreamed; one poor person preceded you -- he did not precede in time -- he preceded [in the fact that] he was more accepted (/favorable).  And he [Agrippas] had pain [because of this], and he called to the Kohen Gadol and asked him, “Why did you offer for anybody else?  Behold, I said to you to not offer [aside from my sacrifices]!” He said [i.e. replied] to him [and told him what happened, with details that were not mentioned before], “My master the king, one person came to me and said ‘offer for me two turtledoves.   I trap four every day; two of them I offer, and two I eat. If you do not take [these two and offer them], you will be ruining me, that I will not be zoche to anything.’ Thus did he [the poor man] say to him [the Kohen Gadol].  He took and offered.  

“And the king asked him, “Why did you offer?  I said to you to not offer [anything besides my sacrifices]!” He said to him: “It is correct that you with the thousand Korbanos of yours… but this man that his entire life is Torah and Mitzvos, it is impossible to compare to him any man.” Thus did he say to him.  And he [Agrippas] answered him, “You are right in what you say.”

“Thus it is written in Midrash Rabbah Parshas Vayikra upon the verse [2:1] ‘And a Soul that will bring’.  The main thing to see in this… only what is more pure, more pure!  This will be accepted. This poor man said to him, his entire life is Torah and Mitzvos; if so, not anything can compare to him:  A thousand Korbanos, and even two thousand Korbanos, is not able to compare to this man, that his intention was so desirable.  

“And this we want to learn… but the pureness, what is more pure, is more accepted (/favorable), and this we need.  

“HaKadosh Baruch Hu should help that everyone be zoche to raise himself in Torah and fear of Heaven.  Although we are on a level not so great, far from being great, but we will aspire to this [greatness, it would seem, or pureness], perhaps with all this we will get a bit better, and we will be zoche to rise until we are zoche speedily in our days to the true Geulah (Redemption) speedily in our days, Amein Selah.”

Friday, March 16, 2018

Parshas Vayikra Messages 5778

Parshas Vayikra:

This edition of Shabbos Sparks is dedicated L’ilui Nishmas the Vizhnitzer Rebbe of Monsey, HaRav Mordechai Hager zt”l.

The Sages Say:

When a person (אדם) from [among] you will bring close an offering to Hashem…’ (Vayikra 1:2)

Why was it [אדם] said? [To teach us that] just as Adam HaRishon did not bring close [an offering] from stolen [things], for everything was his, also you, do not bring close [an offering] from stolen [things].  

(Rashi HaKadosh from Midrash Vayikra Rabbah 2:7)

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A Helpful Hint:

And He [Hashem] called to Moshe… -- ...ויקרא אל משה’ (Vayikra 1:1)

In a Torah Scroll, the letter א is written small.  And it is noted that if spelled out, אלף is a language of teaching (see Iyov 33:33).

Says Rebbe Pinchos of Koritz zt”l:  “The א is small:  Teach yourself to be small [i.e. humble].”

(Quoted in Lekach Tov).
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A “Lamdanishe” Insight:

If his Offering is an Olah…’ (Vayikra 1:3)

An Olah-offering, we are told, atoned for a bad thought.

Explains Rabbeinu Bachya zt”l:  The Olah-offering precedes in the parsha the rest of the offerings.  And by way of the simple interpretation, it is because the thought is the first of everything, and the sin of thought [about something bad] comes before sin in action…

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Mussar Message:

There is a video that has gotten around of what is supposedly the last public Sicha (discourse) given by HaRav Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman zt”l, which I believe was given last year in the week of Parshas Vayikra.  The following is a transcription and rough English translation of it (to see the video itself, search in a browser for ‘Rav Shteinman’s last Sicha’):

Mori V’Rabbosai:  Baruch Hashem, our Yeshiva was zoche (had the merit) during its years of existence to rear prominent Torah scholars, fearers of Heaven; Baruch Hashem.  HaKadosh Baruch Hu should help us further; so He should add to increase Torah and fear of Heaven.  And we will say a few words:

“As we know, in the Midrash [to] Parshas Vayikra, in the parsha that we are reading, it is written that Agrippas the king wanted to bring many Karbanos (Offerings) -- a thousand Karbanos on one day!  A thousand Karbanos!  But he requested one thing:  That even one should not precede him.  What is the simple meaning of ‘should not precede’?  It should not be more accepted (alt. favorable). The intention was not [regarding] to precede in time; only that it should not be more accepted (/favorable).  

“However, a poor person came and he said, “My master, Kohen Gadol!  Bring close for me two turtledoves or two young doves to offer them.” He [the Kohen Gadol] said to him, “The king commanded me that I was not to offer [anything] outside from his.” He [the poor man] said to him, “My master, Kohen!  If you do not offer them, you are ruining me (my livelihood), that I will not be zoche (have the merit) to anything.” And when he [the Kohen Gadol] heard this, he went and offered them.  

“At night, Agrippas the king dreamed; one poor person preceded you -- he did not precede in time -- he preceded [in the fact that] he was more accepted (/favorable).  And he [Agrippas] had pain [because of this], and he called to the Kohen Gadol and asked him, “Why did you offer for anybody else?  Behold, I said to you to not offer [aside from my sacrifices]!” He said [i.e. replied] to him [and told him what happened, with details that were not mentioned before], “My master the king, one person came to me and said ‘offer for me two turtledoves.   I trap four every day; two of them I offer, and two I eat. If you do not take [these two and offer them], you will be ruining me, that I will not be zoche to anything.’ Thus did he [the poor man] say to him [the Kohen Gadol].  He took and offered.  

“And the king asked him, “Why did you offer?  I said to you to not offer [anything besides my sacrifices]!” He said to him: “It is correct that you with the thousand Korbanos of yours… but this man that his entire life is Torah and Mitzvos, it is impossible to compare to him any man.” Thus did he say to him.  And he [Agrippas] answered him, “You are right in what you say.”

“Thus it is written in Midrash Rabbah Parshas Vayikra upon the verse [2:1] ‘And a Soul that will bring’.  The main thing to see in this… only what is more pure, more pure!  This will be accepted. This poor man said to him, his entire life is Torah and Mitzvos; if so, not anything can compare to him:  A thousand Korbanos, and even two thousand Korbanos, is not able to compare to this man, that his intention was so desirable.  

“And this we want to learn… but the pureness, what is more pure, is more accepted (/favorable), and this we need.  

“HaKadosh Baruch Hu should help that everyone be zoche to raise himself in Torah and fear of Heaven.  Although we are on a level not so great, far from being great, but we will aspire to this [greatness, it would seem, or pureness], perhaps with all this we will get a bit better, and we will be zoche to rise until we are zoche speedily in our days to the true Geulah (Redemption) speedily in our days, Amein Selah.”

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Chassidishe Vort:

And He [Hashem] called to Moshe… -- ...ויקרא אל משה’ (Vayikra 1:1)

Many, many lessons and things are derived from the small א (see above).  But overall, one of the big lessons we learn from the small א is how much can be derived from every last detail in the Torah:  From one letter -- a small one even -- there are so, so many insights and lessons to be gleaned. Just imagine one word, or sentence!  Indeed, the holy Torah is endlessly deep.

(Tal U’Matar)

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Chazak V’ematz:

Tells us Rebbe Shlomo of Radomsk zt”l:  Just as with a simple animal, when a Jewish person says upon it “Korban” (“Offering”), immediately it is sanctified with a high level of holiness, so much so that its blood is sprinkled in the Sanctuary, kal vachomer (basically all the more so)... if a person accepts upon themselves and declares: “From today and onwards I am [i.e. will be] holy to Hashem!” Then certainly, immediately they are infused with great holiness.  

(Vi’karasa L’Shabbos Oneg)

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Maaseh B’Rabbi…

There was once a young man who had, let’s say, taken an “alternate route” to end up in Yeshiva:  He had left his home in Brooklyn many years earlier to move out West, and explore Native American culture.

For many years, he lived amongst Native Americans in Montana, and had essentially become one of them.  However, when he met with one of their elders , who was said to possess the deepest of wisdoms, she encouraged him to return home and pursue Judaism!  

Feeling very disheartened and confused, he made his way back home, and somehow -- through Divine Providence -- ended up knocking on HaRav Shlomo Freifeld zt”l’s door.  Rav Freifeld listened to the young man's story and was genuinely fascinated!  He asked the young man what his greatest interest was, and the man said he is very interested in horses.  

They conversed about various types of horses for a while, and then Rav Freifeld had to go, but invited his young guest to meet him again at his office the next day.  The young man was impressed by Rav Freifeld’s willingness to speak with him about horses, so the next day he returned, and again began to speak about his interest in wildlife and nature for quite some time.  

Their daily meetings continued on for some time, until one day, Rav Freifeld had to leave his office to tend to an urgent matter.  The young man was waiting in the office for a few minutes when he saw out of the corner of his eye some books lying on the floor behind Rav Freifeld’s desk.  The young man knew enough to know that Jewish books are holy and shouldn't be left lying on the floor, so he bent down to pick them up and put them on the desk.  

However, when he bent down to pick up the books, he saw that these were actually not Jewish books… they were books about horses from the library!  It turns out that Rav Freifeld went to the library and took out several books on horses to read, in order to familiarize himself with the topic to be able to maintain a conversation with this young man.  

Needless to say, this young man was deeply moved and overwhelmed by Rav Freifeld’s effort to connect with him, and it made a lasting impression upon him.

(Told over in a Dvar Torah of my Rebbe, HaRav Binyomin Goldstein shlit”a.  
For the unabridged version, see the book ‘Reb Shlomo’)

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A Gut Shabbos to all!

Oy, Baruch Dayan HaEmes: The Vizhnitzer Rebbe of Monsey zt"l


Baruch Dayan HaEmes.  The great Vizhnitzer Rebbe of Monsey, Rebbe Mordechai Hager zt"l, has departed this world.  

YeshivaWorldNews reports... 

YWN regrets to inform you of the Petira of the Vishnitzer Rebbe of Monsey, Hagaon HaRav Mordechai Hager ZATZAL. He was 95.

The Rebbe was Niftar on Friday morning, with his children at his bedside at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. He had been in and out of the hospital for the past few months. many times his condition turned critical but miraculously, he was stabilized. This past week his condition continued to deteriorate with his blood pressure dropping. His children were called to his bedside, and on Friday morning he was Niftar as Viduy and Shema were recited during Yetziyas Neshama.
The Rebbe was the elder of the Admorim today.
The Rebbe was known for his devotion to learning Torah: Learning around 18 hours a day and asking his Chasidim to study at least two hours every day.
He has thousands of Chassidim around the globe.
The Rebbe, Hagaon HaRav Mordechai Hager ZATZAL, was born in 1922.
Following the Petira of his father, the previous Vishnitzer Rebbe the “Imrei Chaim” [HaRav Chaim Meir Hager of Bnei Barak ], he became the Vishnitzer Rebbe of Monsey.
He has 14 children, 8 sons and 6 daughters. His sons serve as Rabbonim in Vishnitzer Batei Midrashim around the world. His oldest son, HaRav Pinches Shulem ZATZAL, served the Kehilla in Borough Park, Brooklyn, New York; Rav Yisroel is the Rov in Monsey, New York; Rav Mendel is the Rov in Kiamesha Lake, New York; Rav Yitzchok Yochonon is the Rov in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The other sons serve internationally: Rav Eliezer in Yerushalayim, Rav Aron in Montreal, Canada; Rav Duvid in London, UK; and his youngest son, Rav Buroch Shamshon, in Beit Shemesh.
He has hundreds of grandchildren, and thousands of great grandchildren.
The Levaya will be at 12:30PM on Friday afternoon from the Vishnitzer Bais HaMedrash in Monsey. There will be no Hespeidim as is the Minhag in Vishnitz. The Kevura will be in the Vishnitzer Cemetery in Monsey.
Boruch Dayan HaEmmes…

Friday, March 9, 2018

Parshas Vayakhel-Pekudei-Parah Messages 5778

Parshas Vayakhel:

The Sages Say:

And Moshe assembled the entire assembly of the Bnei Yisroel…’ (Shemos 35:1)

[He assembled them] the day after Yom Kippur, when he descended from the mountain.

(Rashi HaKadosh from Seder Olam)

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A Helpful Hint:

And Moshe assembled the entire assembly of the Bnei Yisroel, and he said to them: “These are the words (אלה הדברים) that Hashem has commanded to do them:  Six days you shall do work and on the seventh day, it shall be for you holy…”’ (Shemos 35:1-2)

The division of labors [forbidden on the Shabbos]; from where [do we know them]?... Rabbi Nosson says: ‘You shall not kindle a fire in all your dwelling places on the day of Shabbos’, what does the verse [mean] to say?  [The answer is that] because it says ‘And Moshe gathered the entire assembly of the Bnei Yisroel, and he said to them: “These are the words (אלה הדברים), etc. Six days you shall do work’.  דברים -- ‘Words’ [are at least two things], הדברים -- ‘the words’ [make it three], אלה הדברים -- ‘these are the words’ [the numerical value of אלה is 36], these are [i.e. allude to] the 39 labors [that are forbidden on Shabbos] that were said to Moshe on Sinai.

(Gemara Shabbos 70a)

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A “Lamdanishe” Insight:

And they [the wise men] said to Moshe, saying: “The People were abundant in bringing, more than [is needed -- Rashi] for the work of the labor that Hashem commanded to do it.”  And Moshe commanded, and they passed a voice in the camp, saying: “Man and woman should not do further work for the Portion [for] the Holy,”; and the People restrained [themselves] from bringing.’ (Shemos 36:5-6)

[There are] four domains to Shabbos [i.e. with regards to the laws of carrying on it]:  A private domain, a public domain… (Gemara Shabbos 6a; brought in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 345:1).

Four Domains, etc.:  I will preface to this a short introduction.  And it is, behold, taking out [something] from a domain to [another] domain is in the category of the rest of labors that the Torah has forbidden [one] to do on the day of Shabbos, and it is like all the [rules in] the “body” of the Torah that was transmitted to Moshe from [i.e. on] Sinai.  

And our Sages brought upon this a proof also from a verse [Shemos 36:6 -- see above; this was after there had been contributed enough for everything in the Mishkan, and more]: ‘And Moshe commanded, and they passed a voice in the camp, saying: “Man and woman should not do further work for the Portion [for] the Holy,”; and the People restrained [themselves] from bringing.’ Hence, that bringing, for anyone from his [own] domain, which is a private domain, to the domain of Moshe, which is a public domain, because many [people] were [to be] found there, is in the category of ‘labor’ ([see] Rambam [Hilchos Shabbos], the beginning of Chapter 12[:8]).

(Mishnah Berurah 345:1)  

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Mussar Message:

And every man whose heart lifted him came, and all whose spirit inspired him, brought the Portion of Hashem for the work of the Tent of Meeting and for all its work, and for the holy garments.’ (Shemos 35:21)

It is known that the nature of people is that at times, there awakens in their heart the desire to do a good thing.  But after some time, the inspiration “cools down,” and in the end, the person may not even do the good thing they thought to.  

Explains the Chida {HaRav Chaim Yosef Dovid Azulai zt”l}:  It was not so with the Mishkan:  The Torah praises the contributors for the building of it that ‘every man whose heart lifted him came, and all whose spirit inspired him, brought the Portion of Hashem’.  The Bnei Yisroel actually upheld what they thought to do at first!

(Vi’karasa L’Shabbos Oneg)

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Chassidishe Vort:

And they brought to him [Moshe Rabbeinu] further voluntary-contributions every morning.’ (Shemos 36:3)

The Seforim HaKedoshim (Holy Books) tell us that the Bnei Yisroel brought their contributions early in the morning while people were still sleeping so as to not be noticed [and to give in the optimal form -- anonymously].

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Chazak V’ematz:

This week we have the special Maftir and Haftarah of Parah.  The Maftir discusses the Parah Adumah, Red Cow, whose ashes served to purify one from ritual impurity from a corpse.  

Says Rebbe Aharon of Karlin zt”l, the Beis Aharon:  One must believe that just as the ashes of the Parah Adumah purify… today, everyone becomes pure [spiritually -- not from ritual impurity] when Parshas Parah is read, each person according to his level.

(Meoros HaParsha)

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Maaseh B’Rabbi…

You shall not kindle a fire in all your dwelling places on the day of Shabbos.’ (Shemos 35:3)

It is told that once, a bachur (young unmarried man) was caught smoking in secret on Shabbos.  This caused a great shock… They came to the Chofetz Chaim zt”l to ask him what should be done with the bachur; should they remove him from the Yeshiva, or let him stay?  The Chofetz Chaim invited the bachur to his room, and spoke to him for around ten minutes, and when the bachur left, he was crying and regretting what he had done.  No one else knew what had gone on in Rav Yisroel Meir’s room, and the matter remained hidden for a long time.  

After some years, a Rav told over the story before the congregation, and in conclusion of his words he said: “It is too bad, very much so, that we did not ask the bachur what the Chofetz Chaim said to him, in order that we will learn thereof how to deal with bachurim.” At the end of the Drosha (sermon), the congregation began to leave, each person going to their own house -- except for one person, who remained, and their head was inclined upon the chair.  The Rav approached him to wake him up because he thought that he was asleep, but he discovered, to his surprise, that the Jew had fainted!  Immediately, he poured water upon him and treated him.  

When the man came to, the Rav asked him why he had passed out; perhaps he wasn’t feeling well?  But the man answered that he had caused him to faint, when he told in his Drosha about the bochur who was with the Chofetz Chaim.  The Rav wondered and asked; what connection did the story have to him?

Answered the man, that he himself was the bochur whom the Rav had told about.  The Rav was very moved and begged the man to tell him what truthfully the Chofetz Chaim had said to him, and how did he succeed to influence him?  

The man replied and said: “When I entered next to the Chofetz Chaim, he took my hand and grabbed it with warmth with his two hands, he looked into my eyes with a gaze of compassion and abundant love, and he began to cry and to say: ‘Oy Shabbos Kodesh!  Oy Shabbos!’ Such did the Chofetz Chaim cry throughout ten minutes… I trembled and I felt a flow of holiness that passed in the midst of my body.  I broke into tears and I regretted from the depths of my heart upon what I did and I accepted upon myself complete repentance until this day.  Therefore, when you told the story, I was very moved, because I remember the moving state with the Chofetz Chaim, and therefore I fainted.”

(Ne’imos Netzach, quoted in Peninei HaTorah)

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Parshas Pekudei:


I apologize for the less Divrei Torah for Pekudei, but at least we have one Dvar Torah for it:

And the Cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the Glory of Hashem filled the Mishkan… And when the Cloud ascended from upon the Mishkan, the Bnei Yisroel would travel in all their journeys.  And if the Cloud would not ascend, and they would not travel, until the day that it ascended.  For the Cloud of Hashem was upon the Mishkan by day, and there would be fire on it [the Mishkan] at night , before the eyes of all the House of Israel, in all their journeys.’ (Shemos 40:34, 36-37)

With this topic we finish off the Book of Shemos.  That Hashem would lead the Bnei Yisroel, letting them know when they should travel and when they should not.

We must understand that this is true as well in our own lives:  Hashem leads us and helps us on the right path through life with certain signs and messages -- whatever they might be.  As we say in our morning Berachos (blessings), ‘Who prepares the footsteps of man.’

This assurance that Hashem guides our way through decisions, etc. and is always involved in our personal lives is a wonderful way to leave -- and thing to leave with -- from Sefer Shemos.  And B’Ezras Hashem, to go forward with in the Holy Torah.

(Tal U’Matar)

Chazak Chazak V’Nischazeik, and a Gut Shabbos to all!  May Hashem help us to continue to trek forward in the Holy Torah, together.