Friday, July 27, 2018

Parshas Va'eschanan Messages 5778

Parshas Va’eschanan:

{These divrei Torah are l’zechus Refuah shleimah mi’heira to Rebbetzin Feinstein shetichyeh, Chava Sara bas Ita Devorah}

And Hashem said to me, “It is much for you (רב לך)!...”’ (Devarim 3:26)

In a different take on these words, explains the Or HaChaim HaKadosh that Hashem was actually telling Moshe Rabbeinu words of encouragement:  That all the merit of those who come to Eretz Yisroel, from the Mitzvos they perform which can specifically be only performed within the Land (Mitzvos t’luyos ba’aretz), he (Moshe Rabbeinu) would have a portion in all of them, because he is the one who commanded them [through Hashem] to do.

The verse says ‘רב לך’, ‘It is much for you’ -- meaning that the leadership [רבנות -- related to רב] of the upholding of the Mitzvos was Moshe Rabbeinu’s, and so he had a portion with everyone in everything they would do in Eretz Yisroel!


And you will seek Hashem your G-d from there, and you will find [Him] if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your Soul.’ (Devarim 4:29)

Here the Torah reveals to us the beautiful message that no matter where we are -- even if, Chas V’Shalom and Rachmana Litzlan, we have sunken to a low level -- if we truly seek out HaKadosh Baruch Hu, our Father in Heaven, with all our heart and Soul, we will find Him.  He is always there for us; we just need to seek Him out.

(Tal U’Matar)


I stood between Hashem and between you’ (Devarim 5:5)

There is a famous Chassidishe lesson on this:  ‘I’ -- being too much about ourselves and concentrating too much on ‘me’ -- stands between you and Hashem.


Hear Yisroel, Hashem our G-d, Hashem is One! -- שמע ישראל ה׳ אלקינו ה׳ אחד’ (Devarim 6:4)

The word שמע, if you look, is the first letters of the words עול מלכות שמים -- the Yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven, which is what we accept upon ourselves when we say it.

(Tal U’Matar)


Maaseh:  HaRav Yaakov Bender shlit”a relates that when the HaRav Shmuel Berenbaum zt”l’s son, Reb Leib, was hospitalized in New York with cancer, the Rosh Yeshiva (Rav Shmuel) became friendly with a man whose teenage daughter was in the same hospital, in need of a healing.

One Motzaei Shabbos, while walking from shul back to the hospital, the Rosh Yeshiva inquired about the man’s daughter.  When the man replied that the situation did not look good, the Rosh Yeshiva responded, “Send me an invitation to her wedding -- l’ll be there.”

Baruch Hashem, a few years later, this young woman became a kallah (bride).  The Rosh Yeshiva made an exception by leaving the Beis Midrash during second seder (session) to serve as mesader kiddushin (matrimonial Rabbi; a special honor at a wedding).  As soon as the chuppah ended, he returned to the Mir for the remainder of second seder.

(The Jewish Observer, Sivan/Tammuz 5768)


A Gut Shabbos to all!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Parshas Devarim Messages 5778

Parshas Devarim:

These are the words… -- …אלה הדברים’ (Devarim 1:1)

Teaches the Baal HaTurim zt”l:  If you take the last letters of the first words of every Sefer in the Torah -- אלה ,וידבר ,ויקרא ,ואלה ,בראשית -- and put them together in Gematria (numerical value), they come out to the same numerical value as the word תורה!


And Di-Zahav (די זהב)’ (Devarim 1:1)

Rashi HaKadosh from several sources explains that Di-Zahav [literally meaning, ‘enough gold’] alludes to the Golden Calf that they made because of their abundant gold, as it says (Hoshea 2:10), ‘And silver I multiplied for her [Israel], and gold; they made it for [the idol] Baal.’

We, in our own lives, must think about this:  Hashem gives us so much; so many wonderful gifts -- including our very lives.  But are we using and utilizing these gifts, or, Chas V’Shalom, squandering them -- or worse?...

(Tal U’Matar)


These are the words that Moshe spoke…’ (Devarim 1:1)

As we read about in this Parsha (and more), Moshe Rabbeinu famously rebukes the Bnei Yisroel for the sins that were committed in the Wilderness.  However, the people he was now rebuking were not the same ones who had actually done [at least most of] the sins he spoke of!

Explains HaRav Moshe Feinstein zt”l; every person needs to know that if they see someone sin, they should not say that with them, it is not possible that they will sin, because they know that it is a forbidden thing, and believe in Hashem and in His Torah.  Rather, they need to fear that also they are liable to sin in this -- even if it a terrible sin -- if they have not yet uprooted from themselves the bad forces which desire even the most terrible things. And a person cannot rely upon their intellect that it would not let them sin, but rather; they need to increase their learning of Torah and Mussar, until their traits and their thoughts change and they know to be on watch against sin with fences and the like.  

And therefore, all the time that they [the Bnei Yisroel} did not toil on this, to uproot the traits that cause one to sin, Moshe Rabbeinu rebuked them as if they were doing the sin itself…

(Darash Moshe)


How can I alone carry your trouble, your burden and your strife?’ (Devarim 1:12)

Says HaRav Avraham Leib Scheinbaum shlit”a:  In the annual cycle of Parshiyos, we always read Parshas Devarim on the Shabbos preceding Tisha B’Av, our national day of mourning.  

An obvious connection to Tisha B’Av, is the word ‘Eicha’, ‘how’ (in the above quoted verse), which appears in Megillas Eicha, the Book of Lamentations, that is read on Tisha B’Av.  The Vilna Gaon zt”l sees a deeper connection between this Parsha and Tisha B’Av in the third word of our verse ‘levadi’ (alone) -- ‘Eicha esa levadi’, ‘How can I alone carry?’ He noted that a form of this word appears in the beginning of Megillas Eicha, ‘Eicha yashvah badad’ -- ‘How the city sits alone.’ This gives us a clue to the essence of our national tragedy.

Alone, loneliness, isolated, forsaken, deserted:  These synonyms may shed light on Moshe Rabbeinu’s critique, and, by extension, Klal Yisroel’s tragedy.  Moshe was used to bearing the nation’s burden.  His complaint was that he was alone. We may add that certainly Moshe did not need any assistance.  He was quite capable of leadership -- even alone (with Hashem’s Help, of course).

Is anybody aware of the responsibility placed on the shoulders of our leadership, a responsibility which they shoulder all alone?  Do we empathize? It would be so much easier to shoulder the responsibility, if he knew that he was not really alone.

This same problem occurred in Yerushalayim.  In the first chapter of Eicha, a variation of the phrase ‘ein menachem lah’ -- ‘there is none to comfort her’ (Yeushalayim), occurs no less than four times.  This is what we mourn. Yerushalayim is alone, without anyone to comfort her.  We may suggest that the loneliness which Yerushalayim experienced was not only a product of Klal Yisroel’s seclusion from the other nations.  It was the separation from within, their divisiveness and discord resulting from the Sinas Chinam, unwarranted hatred among them, which was the cause of the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash.

We cannot change what has happened.  We can, however, focus on the source of our suffering, the reason for our misery, in order to attempt to correct our problem so that it happens no more.  Perhaps, with a little more ahavah, love, for our fellow people, we can reverse the trend of isolation from one another which has caused so much of our suffering.  Let us share the burden with our fellow, ease their plight, or just be available for moral support.

When we are present for our fellow, we can hope that Hashem will, likewise, be present for us.

(The Peninim Anthology)


Maaseh B’Rabbi:  We are rapidly approaching Tisha B’Av.  Additionally, today, the 8th of Av, is the yahrtzeit of the Alter of Kelm, HaRav Simcha Zissel Ziv zt”l.  With Hashem’s Help, I would like to share a story that connects to both:

Before the Alter’s passing, a fan was placed above his head in order to help with the air.  His pains increased from moment to moment, and the agony of death began.

With the last bit of “life-movement” in his nostrils, he exerted himself, and very carefully removed with his hands the fan from above his head, so that it would not end up perhaps getting broken.

All those standing near were amazed at the sight of this incredible effort of the dying man, to not ruin even a little thing like this, which was borrowed from a neighbor.  Such was the Alter’s great holiness and care to not commit even a trace of thievery, until it became his second nature --  even in the last moments of his Soul’s departure from him.

(HaMeoros HaGedolim)


A Gut Shabbos and a very meaningful Tisha B’Av to all!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Parshas Mattos-Masei Messages 5778

Parshas Mattos

He shall not profane his word; like all that goes out of his mouth, he shall do.’ (Bamidbar 30:3)

Our Gedolim explain:  If a person is careful with what they speak -- what goes out from their mouths; then Hashem will fulfill their blessings, etc. As the verse can be interpreted, ‘Like all that goes out of his mouth, He -- Hashem -- will do!


And Moshe said to the children of Gad and the children of Reuven: “Shall your brothers come to war, and you will stay here?  And why do you dissuade the heart of the Bnei Yisroel from crossing to the Land that Hashem gave to them?”’ (Bamidbar 32:6-7)

The Torah describes here how the people from the Tribes of Gad and Reuven had much livestock, and they saw the land right outside the Land of Israel, which was very good for animals.  So they brought the question to Moshe Rabbeinu; could they have that land as an inheritance, instead of a portion inside of Eretz Yisroel?  And Moshe Rabbeinu replies (see the quoted verses) that if they do so, they could cause others to not want to come across the Yardein (Jordan).*

Rashi HaKadosh explains that he was saying that they would remove and hold back the hearts of the Jews from crossing over to Israel.  Because the People would be under the impression that they [the Tribes of Reuven and Gad] are afraid of war and of the strength of the towns and people.  

From this it is possible to see the great power of influence that every person holds:  Moshe Rabbeinu was afraid that the children of Gad and Reuven could influence the rest of the Bnei Yisroel to not go into Israel -- and we too must be very careful to try to never, Chas V’Shalom, give any bad example.  

But it also goes the other way:  If we can have such a negative effect on people if we act badly, Chas V’Shalom, then we also can influence so many people for good if we just make sure that we behave properly.  By acting as we should, we can help the entire world!

People often like to tell others to do good.  But perhaps just as -- or more -- important than that, is to show them to do good…

(Tal U’Matar)

* Although, as things worked out, the Tribes of Gad and Reuven were allowed to take the portion they desired right outside of Eretz Yisroel.  On condition, however, that they come over the Jordan and conquer the Land with the other Tribes. (See 32:16-32).


Maaseh B’Rabbi:  Once, HaRav Yisroel Salanter zt”l came to a village, and he went to the local inn.  The innkeeper, noticing that Rav Yisroel was very distinguished-looking, asked him if he was a Shochet.  Because he had an animal that needed to be slaughtered and it was a burden to bring it to the Shochet in town.  

“No.” Rav Yisroel replied, though. “I am not a Shochet.”

After some time, Rav Yisroel came to the innkeeper with a question of his own:  Could he perhaps lend him a ruble? The innkeeper replied that he didn’t even recognize him, and he should trust him?!  

Said Rav Yisroel Salanter zt”l to the innkeeper, “Let your ears hear what your mouth speaks!  With money, I am not trustworthy for it, until the point of one ruble!” But yet with with Shechitah, upon which there are many laws in the Torah, he trusted him after merely inquiring after each other’s welfare!

(What a lesson Rav Yisroel imparted to that innkeeper -- and all of us, as well:  We seem to often be more worried about our money and material possessions than transgressing Commandments from the Torah!)


Parshas Masei

These are the travels of the Bnei Yisroel -- אלה מסעי בני ישראל’ (Bamidbar 33:1)

The four Exiles [not including Egypt], explains the Chida {HaRav Chaim Yosef Dovid Azulai zt”l}, are hinted to in the first letters of the words אלה מסעי בני ישראל, as they are the same as those of אדום, Edom, מדי, Maddai, בבל, Bavel, and יון, Yavan.  

(Nachal Kedomim)


And they journeyed from Rephidim and they encamped in the Wilderness of Sinai.  And they journeyed from the Wilderness of Sinai and they encamped in Kivros HaTaavah. (Bamidbar 33:15-16)

Rephidim, Mechilta tells us, is the place where the Jews ‘loosened their grip on the Torah’ (we were given some laws before coming to Sinai).  

However, Rashi HaKadosh quotes (Shemos 19:2) from Mechilta that just as our coming to the Wilderness of Sinai was with Teshuva, so too our traveling from Rephidim was with Teshuva.  

Based upon this, we may derive a lesson from the above verses:  With Teshuva, a person can go from not doing so good (as the Jews were in Rephidim) to being on such a great level, as we were at Sinai.  

But, the flip side is also true:  We can never grow complacent, because a person can go from a very high level -- Sinai -- and come to a level of Kivros HaTaavah, Chas V’Shalom.  We must always be careful and watch out for the Yetzer Hara’s traps…

(Tal U’Matar).


Maaseh B’Rabbi:  Someone was sick in the family of a certain man from Yerushalayim, and needed to have a particular medical procedure at Hadassah hospital.  He understood that for the success of the procedure, he had to speak with the president of the hospital.  But he was a regular person; how could he get a meeting with the “big chief”?

He tried calling Rav Elimelech Firer shlit”a, who has connections in all wards of the hospital. With his help, he could probably get a meeting with its president.  He tried calling Rav Firer, but he didn’t reach him.

This man was riding in his car, thinking about these matters, when he saw a car in trouble on the shoulder, and the driver was signaling for people to stop and help him.  At first, this man didn’t want to stop, since he had so much on his mind. But then he thought, “I have nothing to do right now, anyway. I might as well see if I can help.”

He stopped his car, and almost went into shock when he saw that the owner of that car was the president of the hospital!  He didn’t need to call Rav Firer anymore. He helped the car get started as the president and him spoke.

(Torah Wellsprings)


Chazak Chazak V’Nischazeik, and a Gut Shabbos and Guten Chodesh to all!  
May Hashem help Klal Yisroel to take everything we learned in Sefer
Bamidbar with us always, and to enter with a holy enthusiasm to Sefer Devarim!