Monday, September 18, 2017

Ha'azinu 5778

THE TORAH PORTION OF HA'AZINU - SHABBAT SHUVA


Excerpted and Translated from the the Teachings of Rabbi Gershon Steinberg ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben Chaim ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yochanan Yitzchak Ben Nachum z"l 
L'ilui Neshamat Yaakov Ben Matisyahu HaLevi z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Michael Ben Nachman z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Zehava Bat Shlomo z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Esther Mushka Bat Yaakov HaLevi z"l
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Malka Bat Rivkah Zlata
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Deena Bat Tzion Bat Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaya Basha Bat Esther
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Etan Naphtali Ben Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rivkah Goldah Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Shimon Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Yoledet Simcha Pearl Bat Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Ahuva Nechama Bat Simcha Pearl
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Moshe Shlomo Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaim Sh'muel Ben Rivkah Goldah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Avital Bat Rut
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Eliezer Yitzchak Ben Bracha Devorah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Michael Itzhak Nesshael Ben Avital 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Naomi Chana Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Refael Ben Masha Etel
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Fruma Freidel Bat Esther  
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rav Daniel Reuven Ben Esther and
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'kol Am Yisrael V'l'geulah Hashleima Bekarov



"May the heavens listen, and I will speak; and may the earth hear the words of my mouth."  (Devorim 32:1)


This presents a difficulty, for how are the heavens and earth connected to rebuke?  (see Rashi)   One explanation that can be given is based on what is written in Sanhedrin 91a: Antoninus said to Rebbe that the body and soul are both able to exempt themselves from judgment, how so?  The body says that the soul sinned because, behold, without the soul, I am like an inanimate stone.  The soul says that the body sinned, because without the body, behold, I would just fly away in the air. Rebbe answered him by means of a parable, about a king who had a garden which had very nice figs and he placed two guards there, one crippled and one blind.  The crippled one said to the blind one, I see nice figs, pick me up to ride on you and we will be able to take them so that we can eat them.  The crippled person rode on the blind person and they took them and ate them.  After several days the king came and asked them, where are the nice figs? The blind person answered, do I have eyes to see?  The crippled person answered, do I have legs that walk?  What did the king do?  He placed the crippled person on top of the blind person  and judged both of them together.  Similarly, the Holy One Blessed Be He brings the soul and throws it into the body and judges both of them together, as it is said "He calls upon the heavens from above..." (Tehillim 50:4) which refers to the soul, "...and to the earth to judge His people" (Tehillim 50:4) which refers to the body.  We see that "the heavens" is a reference to the soul, and "the earth" is a reference to the body. And that is the explanation of what is meant by "May the heavens listen", that is to say, this means that the soul should listen since the soul can be hinted at by the word "heavens".  And at the time that I am saying rebuke to the soul, then "may the earth hear", that is to say, that the body should hear, since the body is hinted at by the word "earth".  And by means of speaking to both of them, the soul and body together, they won't be able to exempt themselves from judgment.  (from Od Yosef Chai)  

"May my teaching drip like the rain..."  (Devorim 32:2)


The Torah is compared to rain.  Just as when it rains we don't immediately see the fruits, so it is with Torah.  Even if one doesn't see success immediately , in the course of time he will see success.  And just as when it rains nothing grows until one works the ground, so one first needs to struggle in the Torah and afterwards he will see great success.

"When I call out the Name of Hashem, ascribe greatness to Elokainu." (Devorim 32:3)


By virtue of the fact that we merit to praise Hashem, on that alone we should ascribe greatness to Hashem --  we need to praise Hashem for that in and of itself.

HAFTORA


"Return, Israel, to Hashem Elokecha, because you have stumbled in your iniquity."  (Hoshea 14:2)


Why does the Prophet need to say "because you have stumbled in your iniquity"?  Isn't it clear when he said "Return, Israel", that you have stumbled in your iniquity?  However, what the Prophet meant when he said this to Israel, is that if you had been precautious not to stumble in any sins, then it would be clear that you would not be stumbling in any transgressions -- even accidentally or under duress.  And this is why the Prophet seems to repeat himself and says "because you have stumbled in your iniquity".  The reason that you need to repent is because you have already stumbled in your inquity, and that is what has brought you to sin again in transgressions that you did not even know were transgressions.  And therefore we also confess "On the sin which we sinned before you by mistake, on the sin which we sinned before you under duress", because also these types of transgressions are thought of as sins.  (from the Gr"a)

"Return, Israel, to Hashem Elokecha, because you have stumbled in your iniquity." (Hoshea 14:2)


From this verse, Rabbi Levi said, great is repentance which reaches the Throne of Glory (Yoma 86a).  It has been asked, why did Rabbi Levi need to bring a proof from the Prophet?  Isn't there a verse which specifies this in the Torah, "You will return to Hashem Elokecha..." (Devorim 4:30)?  The explanation is that our Rabbis said (in Yoma 86a) regarding the one who repents from love, his willful sins are turned into merits, but the one who repents from fear, his willful sins are made into sins that he did by mistake.  And in truth, if we were to study only the verse "You will return to Hashem Elokecha..." (Devorim 4:30), we would think that only in the case of sins which were done by mistake does repentance reach the Throne of Glory, but in the case of sins which were done willfully that repentance does not reach the Throne of Glory.  But now, when we are studying the verse from the Prophet, "Return, Israel, to Hashem Elokecha, because you have stumbled in your iniquity" (Hoshea 14:2), the significance of this is that even for sins that were done willfully, if a man returns in repentance, we see that his repentance reaches until the Throne of Glory.

"...nor will we ever call again call our handiwork 'our god' -- only in You will the orphan find compassion."  (Hoshea 14:4)


The Rambam in the Laws of Repentance (Chapter 2, Halacha 2) writes: And what is repentance?...that the One Who knows hidden things will testify on him that he won't return to that sin forever, as it is said "nor will we ever again call our handiwork 'our god' etc."  And the Aruch Hashulchan adds, in the Laws of Rosh Hashana (siman 602), that is what the Torah says (in Vayikra 16:30) "...before Hashem you will be purified...", that is to say, that He, the Blessed One, will testify about you that you are purified.


"Our Father Our King, cause us to do complete repentance before you.  Our Father Our King, snd complete healing to the sick ones of your people."  (from the Avinu Malkeinu prayer)


One time, the Admor the Rebbe Yoel of Satmar ztz"l and the Gaon Rav Moshe Feinstein ztz"l met each other, and the Gaon Rav Moshe ztz"l asked the Admor from Satmar ztz"l, Your Honor is a Rebbe and when people mention a sick person before you, and you bless him with a "complete healing", what is the intention of saying "complete"?  Isn't it enough to bless him with "healing" by itself?  And the Admor of Satmar ztz"l answered him, Your Honor is a Rav, and if so, explain to me what is the intention when we say "complete repentance"?  Isn't it sufficient to just say "repentence" by itself?  And the Gaon Rav Moshe ztz"l answered that "complete repentence" means just what the Rambam wrote, that it is a repentance such that the One Who knows all hidden matters will testify that the person will never return to do that sin ever again, and if so it is not just repentance on what occurred but "complete repentance" so that he won't return to do that sin.  The Admor of Satmar ztz"l then said to him, if so, then this is the explanation of "complete healing", not just that the person will be healed from his disease, but that he will never again return to have that sickness again.

The Torah Portion of Ha'azinu  has 52 verses.  Haftora: "Shuva Yisrael"  (Hoshea 14).

  

May you all have a  light-filled and happy Shabbat.  Shabbat Shalom.


L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben R' Chaim ztz"l, Nilkach L'Bait Olamo Yud Gimmel Tishrei 5772


G'mar Chatima Tova - May you all be completely sealed for a Good Year


Rosh Hashana 5778

Rosh Hashana 5778


Excerpted and Translated from the the Teachings of Rabbi Gershon Steinberg ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben Chaim ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yochanan Yitzchak Ben Nachum z"l 
L'ilui Neshamat Yaakov Ben Matisyahu HaLevi z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Michael Ben Nachman z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Zehava Bat Shlomo z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Esther Mushka Bat Yaakov HaLevi z"l
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Malka Bat Rivkah Zlata
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Deena Bat Tzion Bat Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaya Basha Bat Esther
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Etan Naphtali Ben Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rivkah Goldah Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Shimon Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Yoledet Simcha Pearl Bat Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Ahuva Nechama Bat Simcha Pearl
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Moshe Shlomo Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaim Sh'muel Ben Rivkah Goldah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Avital Bat Rut
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Eliezer Yitzchak Ben Bracha Devorah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Michael Itzhak Nesshael Ben Avital 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Naomi Chana Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Refael Ben Masha Etel
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Fruma Freidel Bat Esther  
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rav Daniel Reuven Ben Esther and
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'kol Am Yisrael V'l'geulah Hashleima Bekarov


"May we be at the head." 


On Rosh Hashana we say "May we be at the head".  In Hebrew, the word for "at the head" is "La'Rosh", which is spelled with the Hebrew letters Lamed, Reish, Aleph, Shin.  These are the Roshei Teivot  (the initial letters) of the words "La'asot Ratzon Avinu Shebashamayim" (in English: "to do the will of our Father in Heaven").

Why should the Shofar confuse the Satan?


There are those who ask, the Torah was already given 3327 years ago, and every year we blow the Shofar.  Therefore, the Satan is already accustomed to the Shofar blasts, so why should that confuse him?  The Admor from Satmar explains, that every year there is a decline of the generations, and if so, the Holy One Blessed Be He requests less of us.  If so, the Redemption will come, and that is what the Satan is afraid of.  Also, there are those who say that the reason that we ask that question is because we don't see Mashiach, but the Satan is an angel and he sees how Mashiach is prepared to come, and because of that he is frightened.

Why do we sing on Yom Kippur "Ashamnu Bagadnu?"


The Tiferet Yisrael at the end of the Tractate of Taanit says, why do we sing on Yom Kippur "Ashamnu Bagadnu..." (in English: "We have been guilty, We have betrayed...")?  This is to remind us that sins are able to become Mitzvot if we do Teshuvah (Repentance) out of love.  There are those that say that the Satan wants to interfere with the prayers of Israel, but when he comes to the Bait HaKnesset (the synagogue) and sees all kinds of songs and Piyutim (Liturgical Poems) that the congregation of Israel are singing, he thinks that these are not prayers but we are only partying.

Why do we wash our clothing and take haircuts in honor of the Day of Judgment?


In the Shulchan Aruch it is written that we need to show that we trust that the Holy One Blessed Be He will bring our Judgment to light, and therefore we wash our clothing and take haircuts to honor the Day of Judgment.

"Erase in Your Great Mercy the Records of Our Guiltiness." 


The words of this phrase in Hebrew are: "Machok B'rachamecha Harabim Shitrai Chovotainu".  The first lettters of these words are Mem, Bait, Hey, Shin, and Chet, and those letters together spell the Hebrew word "B'simcha" (in English:  "With Happiness").  The trait of Happiness is effective for tearing up an evil decree against us.

Why do we stop blowing the Shofar on Erev Rosh Hashana?


We stop blowing the Shofar on Erev Rosh Hashana (the day before Rosh Hashana).  The Magen Avraham wrote two reasons for this: 1) to make a separation between the permissible, optional Shofar blasts during Elul and the mandatory Shofar blasts on Rosh Hashana, and 2) to confuse the Satan so he will think that Rosh Hashana has already passed.  The Taz gave a reason, that it is in order to separate between the Shofar blasts that were ordained by the Rabbis and the Shofar blasts of Rosh Hashana, which were ordained by the Torah.  The Gr"a in his explanation of the book of Yonah writes that it's possible the reason is that if the Shofar will be blown for 30 days straight, people will become accustomed to the sound of the Shofar and it will no longer arouse them.  This is similar to what was found about Titus (in Gittin 26b), that the insect (that was inside his head) after 30 days got used to the sound of the hammer and began again to drill into the brain of Titus.  It is written in the Mishna B'rura (section 581 paragraph 24) that even when Rosh Hashana falls on Shabbat, we don't blow the Shofar on Erev Rosh Hashana even though the reason that we need to separate between the the optional and mandatory Shofar blasts no longer holds (since we don't blow on Shabbos anyway).  The reason we still don't blow the Shofar on Erev Rosh Hashana in this case is that on Shabbos we say "In memory of the Shofar blast", and it is as if we really did sound the Shofar on Shabbos, especially since in the Temple they did blow the Shofar on Shabbos. 

Simanim Tovim (Good Signs)


On Rosh Hashana we eat fruits and vegetables for a Siman Tov (good sign).  In the Tractate of Horiot  (page 6) it is written that Abaye said that we should be accustomed to see the Simanim (Signs), and in the Tractate of Kritot (page 14) Abaye said that we should be accustomed to eat the Simanim.  If someone is worried to eat one of the Simanim, such as Rubia (black-eyed beans) which might be suspected to have insects in it, or if he doesn''t like one of the Simanim, it's possible to bring them to the table and just to look at them, and to say the "Yehi Ratzon" (in English: "May it be the will [of our Father in Heaven]...").

"May it be the will  [of our Father in Heaven] that our merits will increase."


When we eat the Rimon (in English: the Pomegranate) we say "May it be the will  [of our Father in Heaven] that our merits will increase".  It has been asked, how can we stand immediately before the judgment and say that our merits will increase?  How is it possible in a short time that we will have lots of merits?  The explanation is that when someone who does Teshuvah (repentance) out of love, his intentional sins are changed into merits, and also his bad thoughts are changed into good thoughts.  Therefore, we are requesting from Hashem to give us a heart to arouse ourselves to do Teshuva (repentance) out of love, and then we will have lots of merits, and that is why we say "so that our merits will increase".

Be careful to avoid anger.


One must be very careful not be be in a state of anger on these days, because that is the opposite of the Simanim Tovim (Good Signs).  (from the Mishna B'rura)

Events that happened on Rosh Hashana.


On Rosh Hashana Yosef came out of prison, and on Rosh Hashana the slavery ended in Egypt, and on Rosh Hashana Sara, Rachel, and Chana were appointed (to have children).

"There is no forgetfulness before Your Glorious Throne." 

  
Someone came to a Tzaddik (a Righteous Man) and said that he suffers from forgetfulness.  The Tzaddik answered it is written "there is no forgetfulness before Your Glorious Throne".  Repentance is great because it reaches until the Throne of Glory, so the closer you get to Hashem, the less forgetfullness you will have.


"Today the world was conceived."


It is written: "Today the world was conceived".  The explanation is that on Rosh Hashana Adam HaRishon, the first man, was formed, because the world itself was created on the 25th of Elul.  And why isn't it written "Today was when the world was conceived [in the past]"?  It is because the world was only conceived today -- every year the creation is renewed.

"Today the world was conceived." 


The explanation is that on this day Adam HaRishon was formed, because on the 25th of Elul the world was created.  It has been asked, if so, why don't we say that today Man was formed?  The explanation is that just as a woman who has conceived doesn't know what the future child will be -- righteous or wicked, strong or weak, also on Rosh Hashana we still don't know what will be the judgment.

"The remembrance of all the forgotten things comes before You." 


It is written: "The remembrance of all the forgotten things comes before You."  Those Mitzvot that a man does and he doesn't think about the fact that he's done a Mitzvah and he forgets about it, those very Mitzvot are cherished by Hashem because the person didn't regard himself with pride and conceit.

"Remember us for Life...for Your Sake, Oh Living Elokim."


We request spiritual life, and that's why we sake "for Your Sake, Elokim", that our lives should be for the Glory of Hashem.

Why is the Day of Judgment before Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement)?


It is asked, "Why is the Day of Judgment before Yom Kippur?"  Wouldn't it have been more suitable to clean ourselves of sin on Yom Kippur, and afterwards to come to the Day of Judgment already cleansed? The explanation is, that on Yom Kippur we need to do Teshuva (to Repent) and the Day of Judgment and the 10 Days of Teshuva (Repentance)  we arouse the heart to repentance, and Yom Kippur atones.

The Hebrew Letters of the Word Teshuva (Repentance):


The Hebrew letters of the word Teshuva are: Tav, Shin, Vuv, Bait, and Hey.  These letters are the initial letters of verses from the Tanach as follows:
Tav - "Tamim Tihyeh Im Hashem Elokecha." (Devorim 18:13).  In English: "You shall be wholehearted with Hashem Elokecha."
Shin - "Shiviti Hashem L'negdi Tamid."  (Tehillim 16:8)  In English: "I have placed Hashem before me always."
Vuv - "V'ahavta L'rayecha Camocha."  (Vayikra 19:18)  In English: "You shall love your fellow as yourself."
Bait - "B'chol Derachecha Dayaihu." (Mishlei 3:6)  In English: "In all your ways, know Him (i.e., know Hashem)."
Hey - "Hetznaya Lechet Im Elokecha." (Micha 6:8)  In English: "Walk modestly with Elokecha."

The Tzaddik R' Avraham Bardaki would quickly learn the ten reasons given by Rabbeinu Saadia Gaon for why we blow the Shofar on Rosh Hashana.  Briefly these are:

1) It is because today is the beginning of the creation and the coronation of the Holy One Blessed Be He.
2) Today is the first day of the Ten Days of Teshuva, so it's to remind us that the time of repentance has arrrived.
3) It is to remind us of our standing at Mount Sinai, since the Shofar was sounded at that time.
4) It is to remind us of the words of our Prophets, which are compared to the sounds of the Shofar.
5) It is to remind us of the destruction of the Temple, when our enemies were blowing Shofar blasts to announce their victory.
6) It is to remind us about the Great Day of Judgment in the Future to Come.
7) It's to recollect the Akeidat Yitzchak, the binding of Yitzchak.
8) It's because the Shofar's sound causes us to tremble and to become awakened.
9) It's to remind us about the ingathering of the lost ones of Israel.
10) It's to remind us of Techiat HaMaitim, the resuscitation of the dead.


"May I sit in the House of Hashem all the days of my life"  (Tehillim 27:4)


Since Rosh Hashanah this year falls on Thursday and Friday, we make an Eruv Tavshilin.


The Torah Reading on the First Day of Rosh Hashana: "VaHashem Pakad Et Sara".  5 men are called up to the Torah.  Maftir: The Torah Portion of Pinchas "Uvachodesh HaSh'vii".Haftora: "Vayehi Ish Achad Min HaRamatayim"


The Torah Reading on the Second Day of Rosh Hashana: The Torah Portion about the Akeida. 5 men are called up to the Torah.  Maftir: The Torah Portion of Pinchas "Uvachodesh HaSh'vii".Haftora: "Ko Amar Hashem Matza Chain Bamidbar".




May the old year and its curses end; May the new year and its blessings begin.


May you be written and sealed for a Good Year.


The new year is 5778, and in Hebrew the letters representing that year are Tav Shin Ayin Chet.
These letters form the Roshei Teivot (initial lettters) of the phrase "T'hay Sh'nat Ait Cheirut".(In English: "May This Be a Year of a Time of Freedom".)  These letters also form the Roshei Teivot (initial letters) of the phrase "T'hay Sh'nat Od Chazon".  (In English:  "May This Be a Year of Yet a Vision" -- [based on a phrase in the verse in Daniel 10:14 -- " And I have come to enable you to understand what will happen to your people at the end of the days, for there is yet a vision..."] .)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Nitzavim & Vayelech 5777

The Torah Portion of Nitzavim - Vayelech 


THE MONTH OF COMPASSION AND FORGIVENESS

Excerpted and Translated from the the Teachings of Rabbi Gershon Steinberg ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben Chaim ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yochanan Yitzchak Ben Nachum z"l 
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yaakov Ben Matisyahu HaLevi z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Esther Mushka Bat Yaakov HaLevi z"l
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Malka Bat Rivkah Zlata
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Deena Bat Tzion Bat Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaya Basha Bat Esther
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Etan Naphtali Ben Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rivkah Goldah Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Shimon Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Yoledet Simcha Pearl Bat Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Ahuva Nechama Bat Simcha Pearl
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Moshe Shlomo Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaim Sh'muel Ben Rivkah Goldah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Avital Bat Rut
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Eliezer Yitzchak Ben Bracha Devorah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Michael Itzhak Nesshael Ben Avital 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Naomi Chana Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Refael Ben Masha Etel
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Fruma Freidel Bat Esther  
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rav Daniel Reuven Ben Esther and
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'kol Am Yisrael V'l'geulah Hashleima Bekarov



When are Netzavim and Vayelech read separately?


The Ba'al HaTurim says there is a "Siman" (in English: a "sign", that is, a short phrase used as a memory device) for when the Torah Portions of Netzavim and Vayelech are read separately. If the first day of Rosh Hashanah falls on Yom Beit (Monday) or on Yom Gimel (Tuesday), then they are read separately.  And the "Siman" is "Bag HaMelech - Pat Vayelech" (Beit - Gimel HaMelech, Vayelech is divided).  The explanation is that when Rosh Hashanah, which is the day on which we declare the Kingship of the Holy One Blessed Be He upon us (as indicated by the Hebrew word "HaMelech", which in English means "The King"), happens to fall on the Days of "Beit" (Monday) or "Gimel" (Tuesday), then "Pat Vayelech".  "Pat Vayelech" is a linguistic phrase which indicates  that we break off of the Torah Portion of Vayelech and read it separately from Netzavim.  [Note: Therefore, since in the new year that is coming up, the first day of Rosh Hashanah does not fall on Monday or Tuesday, we read Netzavim and Vayelech together.]

"You are standing this day..." (Devorim 29:9)


The congregation of Israel is similar to a day; just as a day begins in darkness and afterwards there is light, so for Israel, in the beginning there is the darkness of exile and afterwards there will be light -- lightness and happiness and redemption speedily in our days, Amen.

"You ..." (Devorim 29:9)


The first word of this week's Torah Portion in Hebrew is "Atem" (in English: "You").  The word "Atem" has three letters: Aleph, Tav, and Mem.  These are the same letters which are found in the Hebrew word "Emet" (in English: "Truth").  If you behave truthfully with one another, and don't lie to each other, then all of you will be "standing", alive and well.  Also, the three letters of the word "Atem"  (Aleph, Tav, and Mem) hint to what the Sages said that "Three books are opened on Rosh Hashana, a book for Tzaddikim (Righteous people), a book for Beinonim (Intermediate people), and a book for Reshaim (Wicked people).  The "Aleph" hints about the Righteous people, because it is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  The "Tav" hints about the Wicked people, because it is the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  The "Mem" hints about the Intermediate people because it is in the middle of the Hebrew alphabet.

"You are standing this day, all of you, before Hashem Elokaichem..."  (Devorim 29:9)


When will you merit to be stable and standing? If you will be in a united group.  And that is why it says "all of you".  (from Yalkut)  In the book "Yalkut Me'am Loez",  a story is brought about an old man who said to his sons before his death: "Bring me a bundle of sticks". Then he asked them: "Who is able to break the bundle?"  Each one of them took the bundle of sticks and was not able to break it.  Their father said to  them, "I am able to break it."  The sons wondered how that could be possible, since he was old and his strength had waned and how could he succeed when they hadn't succeeded?  He took the bundle and separated out the sticks one by one and broke them.  He said to them: "This is what I wanted to hint to you.  If you will be all of you in one group then no one will be able to do you any harm.  But if you will be separated, then destructive forces will be able to rule over you."

"...every man of Israel."  (Devorim 29:9)


Every man of Israel is important and has special qualities.  It is told about the Tzaddik (Righteous man) HaRashab, that once a diamond merchant came to him and asked the Tzaddik why he praised a particular person, since he (the diamond merchant) didn't see any special qualities in that man.  The Tzaddik was quiet and didn't answer him.  Afterwards the Tzaddik requested that the diamond merchant show him the diamonds.  The merchant put the diamonds on the table, and told the Tzaddik that a particular diamond was very important.  The Tzaddik told him that he didn't see in that diamond anything which would make it superior to the other diamonds.  The merchant told him, in diamonds one needs to be an expert in order to understand them.  The Tzaddik answered him, also in regards to a Jewish person, one needs to be an expert to understand him -- every Jew is crowned with great qualities.  (from M'orah Shel Torah)

"And it will be that when he hears the words of this oath, he will bless himself in his heart, saying, 'I will have peace though I go as my heart sees fit'..."  (Devorim 29:18)


The head of the Yeshiva "Porat Yosef", HaRav Yehuda Tzadka ztz"l would say that when it is written in the Torah Portion "...he will bless himself in his heart, saying, 'I will have peace'...", this is a hint about the Chilonim (non-religious Jews) who say that the main point is the heart.  The Rav Shalom Shwadron ztz"l would give an analogy which is similar to this situation.  Someone entered a hospital and saw a person lying there without arms or legs and groaning, and asked him "What do the doctors say about your heart?"  The patient answered him, "They say that my heart is healthy".  The man said to the patient, "If so, why are you groaning, since your heart is healthy?"  And a wise person will understand the analogy.

"The hidden things are for Hashem Elokainu, but the revealed things are for us and for our children forever, to carry out all the words of this Torah" (Devorim 29:28)


The Sages said: "Why isn't the reward for the Mitzvot (commandments) revealed?"  The answer is, so that people will not choose among the Mitzvot.  A person might say that one particular MItzvah is more worthwhile, and abandon other Mitzvot.  There are only two Mitzvot for which the reward is revealed:  sending away the mother bird, and honoring one's father and mother.  And that is why this verse says "the hidden things are for Hashem Elokainu" -- all the rest of the Mitzvot are hidden and their reward is not revealed. But sending away the mother bird, is "for us", and honoring faher and mother is "for our children"-- and for those two Mitzvot the reward is revealed.  And the reason the reward is not revealed for the rest of the Mitzvot is so that we will "carry out all the words of this Torah", and not choose among the Mitzvot.  (from Meforshim)

"The hidden things are for Hashem Elokainu, but the revealed things are for us and for our children..." (Devorim 29:28)


Rabbeinu Bachya writes, "I heard in the name of the Rambam z"l an explanation of the verse "the hidden things are for Hashem Elokainu...", that the secrets of the Torah are hidden and the reason for the Mitzvot is known to Hashem.  And if a man merits to know a small bit of the root of a Mitzvah and its basis in the hidden realms, he should not say that he is absolved from that which is openly revealed and refrain from doing the actual physical Mitzvah, for he should not prevent himself from fulfilling it in the revealed realms, since "the revealed things are for us and for our children forever, to carry out....".

"And it will be that when all these things come upon you --  the blessing and the curse that I have presented before you -- then you will take it to heart..." (Devorim 29:29)


The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh says, that it's possible that the intention of this verse is to show us that which the Sages said:  "It's required for a man to bless on the bad just as he blesses on the good", for he needs to accept the bad with happiness in the same way that he is happy about the good.  The first word of this verse in Hebrew is "V'haya" (in English: "And it will be"), which is a language that indicates happiness.  The verse continues, "that when all these things come upon you",  to tell us that we should accept both the blessing and the curse with happiness, because they come together as part of one overall equation (i.e., the blessing and the curse are part of the overall "package deal").  

"And Hashem Elokecha will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring..." (Devorim 30:6)


In Hebrew there are four words within this verse, "Et Levavcha V'et Levav" (in English: "your heart and the heart"), which start with the Hebrew letters Aleph, Lamed, Vuv, and Lamed.  These four letters spell Elul, the name of the last month of the Jewish year.  In the Torah Portion of Eikev, it was written, "And you shall circumcise the foreskin of your heart" (Devorim 10:16), and in this week's Portion it is written "And Hashem Elokecha will circumcise your heart".  The Sages say, "Open for me an opening the size of a needle's tip, and I will make an opening for you which is the size of an opening to a large banquet hall".  The explanation is that we first need to start, and afterwards Hashem will help.  And that is why it is written "And you shall circumcise"  (in the Torah Portion of Eikev, which we read a few weeks ago) -- that first you will begin to serve Hashem.  And afterwards (in this week's Torah Portion), "Hashem Elokecha will circumcise your heart." 
(from Mayana Shel Torah)

"For the matter is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to do it."  (Devorim 30:14)


Why does it say "in your mouth" before it says "in your heart"?  The reason is that occasionally the heart doesn't get awakened.  And then, beforehand, one needs to express with his mouth the learning and the prayers, and afterwards, his heart will become awakened.  (from M'ora Shel Torah)

"For the matter is very near to you..." (Devorim 30:14)


The word "very" in Hebrew is "M'od", which is written with the letters Mem, Aleph, and Daled. These Hebrew letters are the Roshei Teivot (initial letters) of the names of Moshe, Avraham, and David.  Someone who wants to succeed in Torah should be lowly in his own eyes, like Moshe, Avraham, and David, for they were all humble men. 

"Your heart and the heart..." (Devorim 30:6)


The four initial letters of these word spell the word "Elul" in Hebrew.  The Chida adds that the last letters of these words spell "Tikateiv" (in English: "you will write".  This is a hint that in Elul we will repent and be written in the book of those who live a good life.

VAYELECH


"And Moshe went..." (Devorim 31:1)  


The Tirgum Yonatan says that Moshe went to the place of study -- to Yeshiva.  The Baal HaTurim says that he went to the Patriarchs to tell them that Hashem fulfilled his oath that Israel will enter the Land.

"And Moshe called Yehoshua and said to him before the eyes of all Yisrael, 'Be strong and be courageous'..." (Devorim 31:7)


The last words of the Torah are "before the eyes of all Yisrael" (Devorim 34:12).  After finishing the Torah we need to strengthen ourselves and to begin anew.

"Gather together the people -- the men, and the women, and the small children...."  (Devorim 31:12)


The Sages say, why do the small children come?  It is in order to give reward to those who bring them.  It has been asked, if the parents all come to the Temple certainly they will take the small children with them anyway, because how could they leave them?  But the explanation of the text is that the Holy One Blessed Be He wanted that they would have a Mitzvah  (and therefore a reward) to bring them, and therefore He commanded to do so.  

"...the men, and the women, and the small children..."  (Devorim 31:12)


In the Mitzvah of "Hakhel", the gathering together of the people, mention is made of men, women, and small children. The Roshei Teivot (initial letters) of the Hebrew words for men, women and children are as follows:  "Tet" is the first letter of the word "Taf" (in English: "small children"); "Nun" is the first letter of the word "Nashim" (in English: "women"); and "Aleph" is the first letter of the word "Anashim" (in English: "men").  The Gematria (numerical value) of each of these letters adds up to 60, as follows: "Tet" has a value of 9, "Nun" has a value of 50, and "Aleph" has a value of 1. The number 60 is also associated with Birkat Kohanim (the blessing given by Kohanim), because that blessing has 60 letters in it.  In addition, the number 60 is associated with the Talmud, because the 6 Orders of the Mishnah have a total of 60 Tractates. Because of this, the Holy One Blessed Be He wanted everyone to come -- men, women, and small children -- so that both blessing (from the Kohanim) and the holiness of the Torah (associated with the 60 Tractates of the Talmud) would apply to everyone. (from the Ben Ish Chai)

"And I will surely conceal My face..." Devorim (31:18)


It is told about a particular Tzaddik (Righteous Man) that he saw his grandson crying, and asked him "Why are you crying?"  The grandson told him that he was playing with his friends and hiding just like the other children that play hide-and-seek, but no one came to look for him, and that's a sign that he isn't worth anything to his friends.  The Tzaddik also started to cry, and he said, "Also Hashem hides His face and cries", as it is written "In hidden places my soul cries" (Yirmiyahu 13:17), and why?  Because "No is inquiring and no one is requesting" (Yechezkel 34:6).



The Torah Portion of Nitzavim has 40 verses.  The Torah Portion of Vayelech has 30 verses, and 2 positive commandments.Haftora: "Sos Asis"  (Yishayahu 61).  This is a "Sium":  the last of the 7 Haftoras of Consolation.

Pirkei Avot, Chapter 5 and 6.



May you all have a  light-filled and happy Shabbat.  Shabbat Shalom.

L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben R' Chaim ztz"l, Nilkach L'Bait Olamo Yud Gimmel Tishrei 5772

May you be written and sealed for a Good Year.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Ki Tavo 5777

The Torah Portion of Ki Tavo 


THE MONTH OF COMPASSION AND FORGIVENESS

Excerpted and Translated from the the Teachings of Rabbi Gershon Steinberg ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben Chaim ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yochanan Yitzchak Ben Nachum z"l 
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yaakov Ben Matisyahu HaLevi z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Esther Mushka Bat Yaakov HaLevi z"l
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Malka Bat Rivkah Zlata
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Deena Bat Tzion Bat Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaya Basha Bat Esther
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Etan Naphtali Ben Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rivkah Goldah Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Shimon Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Yoledet Simcha Pearl Bat Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Ahuva Nechama Bat Simcha Pearl
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Moshe Shlomo Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaim Sh'muel Ben Rivkah Goldah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Avital Bat Rut
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Eliezer Yitzchak Ben Bracha Devorah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Michael Itzhak Nesshael Ben Avital 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Naomi Chana Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Refael Ben Masha Etel
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Fruma Freidel Bat Esther  
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rav Daniel Reuven Ben Esther and
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'kol Am Yisrael V'l'geulah Hashleima Bekarov




"And it shall be, when you will enter the land..." (Devorim 26:1)


The Hebrew word "Tavo" (in English: "you will enter") has the same letters as the Hebrew word "Avot" (in English: "Patriarchs"). Because of the merit of the Patriarchs, we merited to receive the Land of Israel.
"And it shall be, when you will enter the land..." (Devorim 26:1)


Rashi says, do this Mitzvah, for because of it you will enter the Land of Israel.  In truth, they were not obligated to do the Mitzvah of Bikurim (the bringing of the First Fruits) until after 14 years: after 7 years of conquest and 7 years of dividing up the Land of Israel among the tribes.  But in essence, the merit of accepting upon themselves the Mitzvah of Bikurim gave them the merit to enter the Land of Israel.  (from the Malbim)

The Rebbe asked his students, Was Moshe ever in the Land of Israel?


And the answer is, that according to the Tirgum of Yonatan Ben Uziel that the cloud brought all of Israel from Egypt to Har HaMoriah to do the Korban Pesach (sacrificial offering of Passover), so certainly Moshe was also there.

"...and you shall put it in a basket..." (Devorim 26:2)


The portion required for the Mitzvah of Bikurim (the giving of the First Fruits) is 1 out of 60.  The Baal HaTurim says that this is hinted at by the Hebrew word "Tene" (in English: "basket), which has a Gematria of 60.  (Translator's Note: The Hebrew word "Tene" is spelled with the letters Tet with a Gematria of 9, Nun with a Gematria of 50, and Aleph with a Gematria of 1.  The sum of 9 + 50 + 1 = 60.)  Also, within the whole section of the Torah that deals with Bikurim, there is no occurrence of the Hebrew letter "Samech", which also has a Gematria of 60.

"An Aramean would have destroyed my father, and he descended to Mitrzrayim (Egypt)..."  (Devorim 26:5)


It has been asked, what is the connection between Lavan the Aramean and the descent to Mitzrayim (Egypt)?  The explanation is that Lavan was the cause of the Egyptian exile, because he exchanged Leah for Rachel and therefore the firstborn son was Reuven.  And if he hadn't exchanged them, the firstborn son would have been Yosef, and the sale of Yosef would not have occurred, and they wouldn't have gone down into Egypt.  Therefore we find that Lavan caused the Egyptian exile.

"An Arami ( that is, an Aramean) would have destroyed my father, and he descended to Mitzrayim (Egypt) and he sojourned there, few in number, and there, he became a nation -- big, numerous, and great." (Devorim 26:5)


The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh explains, "an Arami" refers to the Evil Inclination because it is a big Ramai (in English: a deceiver. Note that the Hebrew words "Arami" and "Ramai" both have the same letters.) The Evil Inclination deceives people in order to destroy them. "Destroyed my father" refers to the fact that the Evil Inclination caused the first man, Adam HaRishon, to sin. Adam HaRishon was our first father, and this destroyed him and caused death to him and the generations that follow him. "And he descended to Mitzrayim" refers to the the body of the person, because the body is called "Mitzrayim" since it causes distress (in Hebrew "Maitzar", which is a similar word to "Mitzrayim") to the soul because of its desires. "And he sojourned there", because in the beginning the Evil Inclination enters into the person just to sojourn there on a temporary basis. "Few in number" , means with only a small amount of power. "And there he became a nation -- big, numerous" , means that afterwards the power of the Evil Inclination increases by what the man himself does. "And great", that is to say, the Evil Inclination is great. Similarly, the Arizal explains the verse "And forgive my sin because it is great" (Tehillim 25:11), that this is a request that Hashem should forgive my sin because the Evil Inclination is great.

"And He brought us to this Place, and He gave us this Land..." (Devorim 26:9)


Why does this verse first mention the Beit HaMikdash (the Temple) and afterwards the Land?  It is explained according to the Tirgum of Yonatan Ben Uziel who said regarding the verse "... and that I have brought you on the wings of eagles ..." (Shemot 19:4)  in the Torah Portion of Yitro, that Hashem took the congregration of Israel on a cloud from Egypt on Erev Pesach and brought them to Har HaMoriah (the location of the Temple), and they slaughtered the Korban Pesach there and then returned to the land of Egypt, and on the next day they went out of Egypt. If so, they came to the Beit HaMikdash first and and only afterwards entered the Land, and that is why it says "and He brought us to this Place" and then afterwards "and He gave us this Land".  (based on Mayana Shel Torah)

"And you will be happy with all the goodness..." (Devorim 26:11)


The Ohr HaChaim says, that "all the goodness" is also hinting to us about the Torah, as it is said in Pirkei Avot (Chapter 6, Mishnah 3) "And there is no goodness except for Torah". For if people would feel the sweetness of the Torah and the pleasantness of the Torah's goodness they would be passionately crazy about it, and all the silver and gold in the world would seem in their eyes as nothing (by comparison), for the Torah contains all of the goodness in the world.

The Bikkurim (The First Fruits)


The Ari says that the Mitzvah of Bikkurim is an atonement for the sin of the Meraglim (the Spies), in order to show that we cherish the Land of Israel, and also to teach us not to be gluttonous, since the first fruits are for the Mitzvah of Bikkurim. Also, the Bikkurim instruct us regarding the trait of Gaiva (Arrogance), since the Mishna says that even the King needs to hold the basket of the Bikkurim on his shoulder as in the case of Agrippas HaMelech, because it is not appropriate to be haughty before Hashem.

The Four Verses explained in the Passover Haggadah (Verses 5, 6, 7, 8 in Devorim Chapter 26)


The four verses that are explained in the Passover Haggadah (Verses 5, 6, 7, 8 in Devorim Chapter 26), come from the section about the Bikkurim (the First Fruits). Why are the explanations in the Passover Haggadah based on these four verses from the section about the First Fruits, and not from the story of the Exodus in Shemot, which is where the Exodus from Mitzrayim is written about? The reason is that the concept of Hakarat HaTov (Gratitude) is written about within the section about the First Fruits, and at Passover we thank and express our gratitude to the Holy One Blessed Be He for all his kindness.

"I have not transgressed any of your commandments, and I have not forgotten... " (Devorim 26:13)


This is stated at the time of Vidui Ma'aserot (Confession of the Tithes). This occurs twice in seven years, 1) on Erev Pesach after the third year, and 2) on Erev Pesach after the sixth year. What is the meaning of "and I have not forgotten" ? Rashi explains "and I have not forgotten", that I haven't forgotten to say the blessing about separating the tithes. There are those that explain that the Sages say that if someone doesn't separate tithes, rats come and eat his produce, and if someone eats food after a rat ate part of it, that will cause forgetfulness. And this is why it says, "and I have not forgotten" -- I fufilled the Mitzvah of tithing, and therefore rats didn't eat my produce, and I wasn't caused to become forgetful. (from Mayana Shel Torah)

Vidui Ma'aserot (Confession of the Tithes)


The Soforno explains why it is called Vidui Maaserot (Confession of the Tithes), for in truth the Divine service needed to be performed by the Bechorot (First Born men), but only because of the sin of the Golden Calf, the T'rumot and Ma'aserot (offerings and tithes) are transferred to the Kohanim and the Levi'im. And that is why it is called the Confession of the Tithes -- because we are regretting our sins. There are those that explain that the reason is it called Vidui Ma'aserot (Confession of the Tithes), is that the Hebrew word Vidui is similar to the Hebrew word Vadaut (certainty), that is to say, we need to ascertain that in truth that the removal (of the tithes) was done properly. And also in the Vidui of Teshuva (the Confession when we Repent), the person confessing ascertains what he did in private and in public.

"Cursed is one who strikes his fellow in secret..." (Devorim 27:24)


The Chafetz Chaim says that there are those who request blessings from Tzaddikim (righteous men), and if the person is a Ba'al Lashon Hara (habitual speaker of derogatory speech) the blessings cannot take effect, because it is written "Cursed is one who strikes his fellow in secret" (Devorim 27:24), and this is referring to someone who speaks Lashon Hara (derogatory speech). If 600,000 Jews cursed him how can a blessing be effective?

"Cursed is one who will not uphold the words of this Torah..." (Devorim 27:26)


It is told that a man came to the Chafetz Chaim together with his son, to ask for a blessing. The Chafetz Chaim told him, you don't need my blessing. If you send your son to a Talmud Torah, you don't need my blessing, because all of Israel blessed you, saying "Blessed is one who will uphold the words of this Torah". And if your son learns in a Chiloni (anti-religious) school, my blessing won't help, because all of Israel cursed you when they said "Cursed is one who will not uphold the words of this Torah". The man was very impressed that the Chafetz Chaim knew that he was giving his son a Chiloni education, and he did Teshuva (repented). (from Torat HaParsha)

"Blessed is one who will uphold the words of this Torah..." (based on Devorim 27:26 -- since for each of the curses which were stated, a blessing was also stated)


The Ramban says that someone who properly performs Hagbaha (the elevation of the Torah scroll in front of the congregation) is included within the blessing, "Blessed is one who will uphold the words of this Torah". One of the Tzaddikim (Righteous Men) saw someone gluing Seforim (Holy Books) in the Bait HaKnesset (synagogue), and told him to say "Blessed is one who will uphold the words of this Torah". This blessing also includes those who hand out and arrange Seforim in the classroom, and those who return Seforim to their place.

"And it will be that if you do not listen ... then all these curses will come upon you and overtake you." (Devorim 28:15)


The Tirgum Yonatan says, that when Moshe began the words of this rebuke, the Earth quaked, and the Heavens shook, the Sun and the Moon darkened, and the Stars gathered in their brightness, and the Patriarchs of the World screamed from their graves, and all the creatures were still, and even the branches of trees did not move. And the Patriarchs of the World were saying, Chaval (Oy Vey!) on our children when they will sin and these curses will come upon them. How will they be able to stand them, and perhaps they will be destroyed entirely, and our merit will not protect them, and there won't be a single person who will stand up and pray for them? A Bat Kol (Heavenly Voice) came down from the Heavens and said, don't be afraid Patriarchs of the World, even if the merit of all the generations will cease, your merit will not cease, and the Covenant which I established with you will not be cancelled and it will protect them.

"Also every sickness, and every plague, which is not written in the book of this Torah, Hashem will bring them upon you, until you are destroyed." (Devorim 28:61)


In this week's Torah Portion, 98 curses are written, and in addition there are two more in "Also every sickness, and every plague" . Together that makes 100. In parallel to that, the Sages have established 100 blessings (to be said daily) to overcome the curses. May Hashem grant us that the year and its curses will end, and for this reason we read the curses before Rosh Hashana. And the Tosefot adds, that it is necessary to have a break between the curses and Rosh Hashana, so that we read another Torah Portion (such as Nitzavim), so that we don't enter immediately after the curses into Rosh Hashana. One of the Tzaddikim (Righteous Men) said that the reason we read the curses before Rosh Hashana is so that we will fulfill the curses only by means of reading them and not have them occur in actuality. (from Mayana Shel Torah)

REGARDING THE DAYS OF JUDGMENT



"Elokim has ascended with a blast, Hashem, with the sound of the Shofar." (Tehillim 47:6)


It is known that the name Hashem is associated with the trait of Mercy and Compassion, and the name Elokim is associated with the trait of strict Justice. Thus, the explanation of this verse is that "Elokim has ascended" , that is, the trait of strict Justice is exchanged by means of the Shofar to Hashem, which is the trait of Mercy and Compassion.

"Had I not (in Hebrew: Lulei) believed that I would see the goodness of Hashem..." (Tehillim 27:13)


The first word of this verse in Hebrew is "Lulei" , which has the same Hebrew letters as the month of Elul. The implication is that in the month of Elul, we need to strengthen ourselves in faith.

The Rambam's words regarding the Shofar: "Arouse yourselves, sleeping ones from your sleep, and dormant ones awaken from your dormancy, and search out your deeds and return in repentance and remember your Creator."

It is said that Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev remarked after the sounding of the Shofar: we blew 200 Shofar blasts on two days (of Rosh Hashana), and we are requesting from the Holy One Blessed Be He only one Shofar blast, and that is the Shofar of Moshiach who will be revealed speedily in our days Amen.

"...He walks along weeping as he carries the bag of seed, he will come with joyous song as he carries his sheaves." (Tehillim 126:6)


The Tzaddikim (Righteous Men) explain: "He walks along weeping" -- if a man grumbles and has complaints, then "he carries the bag of seed", that is, he receives a small package. "He will come with joyous song" -- if a man is happy with his portion, then "he carries his sheaves" , that is, he will receive great abundance.


"....MAY I DWELL IN THE HOUSE OF HASHEM ALL THE DAYS OF MY LIFE..." (Tehillim 27:4)


The Torah Portion of Ki Tavo has 122 verses. 3 positive commandments. 3 negative commandments.Haftora: "Kumi Ori" (Yishayahu 60). 

Pirkei Avot, Chapter 3 and 4 (fourth cycle).



May you all have a light-filled and happy Shabbat. 
Shabbat Shalom.

L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben R' Chaim ztz"l, Nilkach L'Bait Olamo Yud Gimmel Tishrei 5772

May you be written and sealed for a Good Year.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Ki Teitzei 5777

The Torah Portion of Ki Teitzei 

THE MONTH OF COMPASSION AND FORGIVENESS


Excerpted and Translated from the the Teachings of Rabbi Gershon Steinberg ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben Chaim ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yochanan Yitzchak Ben Nachum z"l 
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yaakov Ben Matisyahu HaLevi z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Esther Mushka Bat Yaakov HaLevi z"l
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Malka Bat Rivkah Zlata
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Deena Bat Tzion Bat Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaya Basha Bat Esther
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Etan Naphtali Ben Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rivkah Goldah Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Shimon Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Yoledet Simcha Pearl Bat Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Ahuva Nechama Bat Simcha Pearl
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Moshe Shlomo Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaim Sh'muel Ben Rivkah Goldah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Avital Bat Rut
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Eliezer Yitzchak Ben Bracha Devorah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Michael Itzhak Nesshael Ben Avital 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Naomi Chana Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Refael Ben Masha Etel
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Fruma Freidel Bat Esther  
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rav Daniel Reuven Ben Esther and
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'kol Am Yisrael V'l'geulah Hashleima Bekarov






"When you will go out to war against your enemies, and Hashem, Elokecha, will deliver him into your hand, and you will capture its [people as] captives. And you will see among the captives a woman who is of beautiful form... And she shall shave her head and she shall do (i.e., either cut or grow) her nails...And she shall remove the garment of her captivity... And she shall weep for her father and for her mother for a full month..." (Devorim 21:10-13)


Rashi says that the Torah text is speaking about an optional war. It is written in the name of the Arizal that the Torah text is hinting about a Baal Teshuva (someone who is repentant for his past sins). When a man returns in repentance to Hashem, he will "go out to war against his enemies"; the enemies being hinted at here are his evil inclination and the limbs of his body. "And Hashem, Elokecha, will deliver him into your hand (Devorim 21:10)"; that is, Hashem will deliver your evil inclination into your hand. Then, "you will capture its captives (Devorim 21:10)" ; this means that you will gain control over the limbs of your body. "And you will see among the captives a woman who is of beautiful form (Devorim 21:11)" ; this refers to the Neshama, the soul. "And she shall shave her head (Devorim 21:12); she (the soul) will remove from herself false beliefs. "And she shall do (cut or grow) her nails (Devorim 21:12)" ; this refers to removing and preventing unnecessary luxuries. "And she shall remove the garment of her captivity (Devorim 21:13)" ; this is the garment which was made from the acts of the sins that he did, as is written (in Zechariah 3:4): "Remove the soiled garments from upon him, and then he said to him: Behold! I have removed your iniquity from upon you". And afterwards it says, "And she shall weep for her father and for her mother" ; her father refers to the Holy One Blessed Be He, and her mother refers to the congregation of Israel (See Berachot 38). "For a full month (Devorim 21:13)" ; this is the month of Elul (according to the Zohar Chadash). For the entire month of Elul one needs to cry about his sins since because of them he is separated from his father -- the Holy One Blessed Be He, and his mother -- the congregation of Israel.


A Wayward and Rebellious Son (Devorim 21:18)


The Sages say that "A Wayward and Rebellious Son" never existed in the past and never will exist in the future, because there are too many details which need to be fulfilled.  If so, then why do we learn about this?  Only in order to explain it and to receive reward.  There are those who ask, wouldn't it be bettter to explain and receive reward about the usual topics in the Torah which occur regularly, rather than something which never occurred and never will occur? Rabbeinu Bacchya explains that in the Torah's wisdom, we are given the opportunity to learn this topic in order to increase our knowledge.   By learning this topic, people can come to understand the greatness of the requirement to love Hashem, may He be blessed.  For behold, there is no greater love in the world than the love of a father and a mother for their son, and since the son transgresses the Mitzvot of Hashem, they are are required to have their love of Hashem overcome theirr love for their son, to the point that they themselves must bring him to the court for to be punished by stoning, as we find in the Akeidat Yitzchak (the binding of Yitzchak by Avraham).


"And you shall destroy the evil from within the midst of you, and all Israel shall hear and they shall fear." (Devorim 21:21)


Someone who wants his words to have influence, first he needs to fix himself, and afterwards others will accept his words.


"You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together." (Devorim 22:10)


Not only with an ox and a donkey, but any two different kinds of animals.  And why did the verse state specifically an ox and a donkey?  The Ba'al HaTurim says that this teaches us that we need to join up with a good friend; an ox is a pure animal and a donkey is an impure animal.  Also, the Ba'al HaTurim and the Da'at Zekainim say, that if you join an ox and a donkey together, that causes Tza'ar Baalei Chaim (distress to animals). This is because the ox chews its cud and the donkey does not chew its cud, so that when you join them together the donkey thinks that the ox has more food because they are eating from the same container of food (and the ox seems to be eating more because it is chewing more than the donkey is), and end result is that it that causes the donkey distress.  From this we see how careful we need to avoid Tza'ar Baalei Chaim (distress to animals).  The Rama from Pano wrote in the Sefer Asara Ma'amarot another reason why it is written specifically "an ox and a donkey".   This is because this recalls the Sin of the Golden Calf; because the Golden Calf was in its upper half a calf, which is an ox, and in its lower half it was a donkey.


"Remember what Amalek did to you..." (Devorim 25:17)


Before the remembrance of Amalek, it is written about the remembrance of what happened to Miriam: "Remember what Hashem Elokecha did to Miriam...." (Devorim 24:9) The Masters of Mussar (Ethics) explain why these two remembrances are close to one another in the Torah. It is to tell us, that just as we like to beautify the Mitzvah of remembering Amalek by listening to the Torah Portion of Zachor about Amalek, so too we should beautify the Mitzvah of remembering the story about Miriam, by not speaking or listening to Lashon Hara (derogatory speech).


MUSSAR (ETHICS) FOR ELUL:



Defective Sight 


It is taught in Masechet B'chorot (40b) that if a first born domestic animal has one large eye and one small eye, that is a defect. Rebbe Ya'akov Perlov of Novominsk explained: a man always needs to look at the virtues of others and not their shortcomings. And this is hinted at by the Mishna: if a man looks at himself with a "large eye" and thinks that he is an elevated person, and he looks at others with a "small eye", and notices their shortcomings, this is a sign that he himself has a defect.


Saving the Honor of the Lowly


Much greatness of character was demonstrated by the Rebbe Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter, the author of the "Sefat Emet", in how he related to wretched, lowly people. One time a Tzedakah (Charity) box was stolen from the house of the Rebbe. Suspicion fell on a man who had come to help out in the house for a certain salary. The Rebbe called him and said to return the money that he had taken. That person tried to deny the theft, but when he saw how the Rebbe's burning eyes penetrated deeply within him to his very depths, he wasn't able to continue to deny it and he confessed. When he returned the money, the Rebbe told him, now I willl advise you to return to your city, for here they will not honor because of the act which you did, and I will send you your salary every month...


"....MAY I DWELL IN THE HOUSE OF HASHEM ALL THE DAYS OF MY LIFE..." (Tehillim 27:4)



The Torah Portion of Ki Teitzei has 110 verses. 27 positive commandments. 47 negative commandments.Haftora: "Rani Akara"  (Yishayahu 54) 


Pirkei Avot, Chapter 2 (fourth cycle).


May you all have a light-filled and happy Shabbat. 
Shabbat Shalom.

L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben R' Chaim ztz"l, Nilkach L'Bait Olamo Yud Gimmel Tishrei 5772

May you be written and sealed for a Good Year.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Shoftim 5777

The Torah Portion of Shoftim 


Excerpted and Translated from the the Teachings of Rabbi Gershon Steinberg ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben Chaim ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yochanan Yitzchak Ben Nachum z"l 
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yaakov Ben Matisyahu HaLevi z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Esther Mushka Bat Yaakov HaLevi z"l
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Malka Bat Rivkah Zlata
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Deena Bat Tzion Bat Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaya Basha Bat Esther
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Etan Naphtali Ben Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rivkah Goldah Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Shimon Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Yoledet Simcha Pearl Bat Rivkah Goldah V'Tinoka
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Moshe Shlomo Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaim Sh'muel Ben Rivkah Goldah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Avital Bat Rut
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Eliezer Yitzchak Ben Bracha Devorah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Michael Itzhak Nesshael Ben Avital 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Naomi Chana Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Refael Ben Masha Etel
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Fruma Freidel Bat Esther  
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rav Daniel Reuven Ben Esther and
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'kol Am Yisrael V'l'geulah Hashleima Bekarov


The Torah Portion of Shoftim ("Judges" ) always falls on the first Shabbos of the month of Elul, and it is written in the Sefer M''ora Shel Torah, that this is to remind us that we need to pray that our judgment will come out well.


"Judges and officers shall you put in all your gates." (Devorim 16:18)


The Masters of Mussar (Ethics) say that every man needs to make for himself "judges and officers in all your gates". The explanation is, in the gates of himself -- for speaking, for seeing, and for eating.  The Hebrew word for "your gates" is "Sha'areicha", which is spelled with the Hebrew letters "Shin", "Ayin", "Reish", "Yud", and "Chaf".   These Hebrew letters are the Roshei Teivot (in English: "Initial Letters") of the Hebrew words: "Shinayim" (in English: "Teeth"), "Ainayim" (in English: "Eyes"), "Rosh" (in English: "Head"), "Regel" (in English: "Leg"), "Yadayim" (in English: "Hands"), "Keres" (in English: "Belly" -- that is to say, to be careful to avoid eating forbidden foods).

"...for the bribe will blind the eyes of the wise..."  (Devorim 16:19)


Yonatan Ben Uziel translates, that the bribe will cause the wise to be stupid.  And in the Torah Portion of Mishpatim, its says that "the bribe will blind the eyes of those who can see" (Shemot 23:8), because the Dayan (Judge) first of all needs to know the Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat, and in addition, needs to know the trickery of the parties participating in the legal case.  And that is why it says "wise", because  the judge needs to be knowledgeable about the Shulchan Aruch, and "those who can see", because the judge needs to understand the trickery of the parties to the case, and the bribe interferes with both of those qualities. 

"Righteousness , righteousness shall you pursue, so that you will live and take possession of the land..." (Devorim 16:20)


Rashi says that "righteousness , righteousness shall you pursue" means that one should make a point of going to a high-quality court. There are those that explain, that the Sages say that there is no reward for a Mitzvah in this world (since the reward will come in Olam Haba, the world to come). But for beautifying a Mitzvah, or for the making an extra effort to fulfill a Mitzvah, there is a reward in this world. And that is why it says "righteousness , righteousness you should pursue" -- you should make an extra effort and fulfill the Mitzvot in a beautiful way, "so that you will live and take possession of the land" -- that your life in this world will be good and pleasant.

"You shall not sacrifice to Hashem, your G-d, an ox or a lamb or kid in which there will be a blemish, any bad thing, for that is an abomination..."  (Devorim 17:1)


Rashi says that the thought which causes a sacrifice to become "Piggul" (a rejected sacrifice because there was an invalid thought about it, such as to eat or burn it after the proper time), only causes the sacrifice to become "Piggul" if that thought is verbally spoken, and there are those amongst the Rishonim (early Torah Scholars) who say that it also happens by means of the thought itself (without verbalizing it).  In the verse it states, "You shall not sacrifice to Hashem, your G-d ... any bad thing..."  In Hebrew, the phrase "any bad thing" is "Kol Davar Ra".  Rashi notes that this is linguistically related to the Hebrew phrase "Kol Dibur Ra", which in English means "any bad speech".  Thus he explains that the process of a sacrifice becoming "Piggul" is by means of speech, that is, if someone says he will eat the meat outside of the proper time or location.  Furthermore, the Baal HaTurim says regarding the phrase "...any bad thing, for that is an abomination..." (Devorim 17:1) that someone who dirties his mouth by speaking unclean speech is called an abomination and hated (because of the linguistic connection between "any bad thing" and "any bad speech").

"If a matter of judgment will be hidden from you, between blood and blood, between verdict and verdict, or between affliction and affliction, matters of dispute in your cities -- you shall rise and ascend..." (Devorim 17:8)


There are those who explain this verse as a lesson in Mussar (ethics): 
"If a matter of judgment be hidden from you..." -- if you wonder why there are judgments and punishments 
"...between blood and blood..." -- all kinds of punishments involving bloodshed 
"...between verdict and verdict..." -- all kinds of harsh decrees 
"...between affliction and affliction.. ." -- all kinds of suffering 
'...matter of dispute in your cities..." -- the reason for all of the above is because there are quarrels and the people are not living in unity. What's the solution to this problem?
"...you shall rise and ascend..." -- the answer is that we should join together in unity.

"You shall be wholehearted with Hashem, Elokecha." (Devorim 18:13)


The name "Hashem" is used to indicate G-d's trait of Mercy, and the name "Elokecha" ; is used to indicate G-d's trait of Strict Justice. Therefore it is written "You shall be wholehearted with Hashem, Elokecha" -- whether He treats you with the trait of Strict Justice, or whether He treats you with the trait of Mercy, you need to serve Hashem in all situations.

"You shall be wholehearted with Hashem, Elokecha." (Devorim 18:13)


Not only in front of others should you be righteous, but also when you are alone by yourself, and only Hashem Elokecha is there with you, you also need to be righteous and wholehearted. 

"When you go out to battle against your enemy, and you see horse and chariot -- a people more numerous than you -- you shall not fear them, for Hashem, Your G-d is with you..." (Devorim 20:1)


The Ohr HaChaim Hakadosh says that maybe this verse is a hint to the battle that a person has with his Evil Inclination, the battle which is known to be the greatest battle of all. In that battle there are two difficulties, first the person is not trained in warfare like his Evil Inclination which is trained and accustomed to doing battle. Second, the person is composed in such a way that he has a tendency towards everything that his animal soul desires, and this will prevent him from listening to words of Torah and Mitzvot, and also afterwards when he will stumble in many transgressions there will be added evil forces that come about as a result of his evil acts. And thus the verse (Devorim 20:1) can be explained as follows:
"When you go out to battle...and you see" -- with the eyes of your intellect 
"horse and chariot" -- "horse" is a metaphor for the Evil Inclination which is a horse prepared for war, in contrast to the person, and "chariot" is a metaphor for the composition of a person which has a tendency and a desire for certain things (note: the Hebrew words for "chariot" and "composition" have the same root letters and are etymologically related)
"a people more numerous than you" -- this is a metaphor for the evil forces which are increased because of the person's evil deeds
"you shall not fear them, for Hashem, Your G-d is with you" -- the explanation is that it's true that if you had come to this battle with only your own strength, you don't have within yourself the strength to stand this battle, but since Hashem Your G-d is with you His strength is great to save you, because when a person comes to purify himself the right hand of Hashem accepts him and he becomes attached to Hashem, and in that way the evil forces that are besieging him will be overcome. 

"But you shall remove the innocent blood from your midst when you do what is upright in the eyes of Hashem." (Devorim 21:9)


If you will behave appropriately, then there won't be any evil.

"But you shall remove the innocent blood from your midst when you do what is upright in the eyes of Hashem." (Devorim 21:9)


If you will do what is upright in the eyes of Hashem, then there won't be tragedies and terrorist attacks.  Just as we see that on Yom Kippur, even people who are distant from the Torah the whole year, in any event, on Yom Kippur they strengthen themselves to go to the synagogue and the like, this is because those of us who are observant of the Torah and Mitzvot are also strengthening ourselves to be better in our service of Hashem.

HAFTORA


"Shake the dust from yourself, arise." (Yishayahu 52:2)


The Sages say, this is like a chicken. The explanation is, that if a chicken is dirty from dust, if you wash her with water, you will just make matters worse because the dirt will penetrate more deeply. The best advice is that she should clean herself, and she shakes the dust off. So too, everyone needs to make an effort to shake off his sins from himself, as it is written "If I am not for myself then who will be for me" (Pirkei Avot Chapter 1), and then the Holy One Blessed Be He will help him.

The Torah Portion of Shoftim has 97 verses. 14 positive commandments. 27 negative commandments.Haftora: "Anochi Anochi" (Yishayahu 51). 

Pirkei Avot, Chapter 1 (fourth cycle).

May you all have a light-filled and happy Shabbat. Shabbat Shalom.

L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben R' Chaim ztz"l, Nilkach L'Bait Olamo Yud Gimmel Tishrei 5772