Parshas Shoftim

Shlomo HaMelech made 3 seforim:
Mishlei Koheles and Shir HaShirim
to do Teshuveh on the 3 Lo Ta’asehs

Dear Chaveirim.

In this week’s mamar for parshas Shoftim, we discuss a sensitive but nevertheless important subject, concerning the three Lo-Ta’ase – prohibitions, that a Jewish king was warned against — the accumulation of horses, wives and excessive personal wealth as it says (Devorim 17, 16):

“Only he shall not have too many horses for himself, so that he will not return the people to Egypt in order to increase horses, for Hashem has said to you, “You shall no longer return on this road again.” And he shall not have too many wives, so that his heart not turn astray; and he shall not greatly increase silver and gold for himself”.

Surprisingly we learn that Shlomo HaMelech fell victim to all three of these mitzvos lo ta’aseh. He took many wives, stating confidently that they would not lead him astray; he accumulated many horses stating that they would not lead him back to Egypt; he accumulated a lot of silver and gold thinking that his wisdom will avoid all obstacles but yet he failed with all three…

A Beautiful Lesson from the Rambam

The Rambam writes in Sefer HaMitzvos (Mitzvah 365) that this should serve as a crucial lesson for each and every Jew, not to get too clever interpreting Hashem’s mitzvos in such a way, which will cause him to disobey the mitzvos, thinking that this specific reason doesn’t apply to him.

If Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, fell victim to all three of these mitzvos lo ta’aseh, because he thought that the reasons don’t apply to him, how can we, who are less wise and weaker than Shlomo HaMelech, dare chas vesholom to disobey a certain mitzvoh, claiming that the reason for this mitzvoh doesn’t apply to us.

So, now we must solve the unbelievable mystery — how could Shlomo HaMelech, gifted by HKB”H with such tremendous wisdom, fail as he did? The pessukim tell us (Melochim I 3, 5):

In Givon, Hashem appeared to Shlomo in a dream, at night. G—d said to him, “Request that which I shall give you.” Shlomo said…Hashem, my G—d, you have crowned Your servant in place of my father, David, but I am a young lad; I do not know how to go out or come in… May you grant Your servant an understanding heart, to judge your people, to distinguish between good and evil.”

“G—d said to him, “Because you have requested this thing… and did not request riches… I have given you a wise and understanding heart such that there has never been anyone like you before, nor will anyone like you ever arise”.

In light of this we are full of astonishment! How is it possible that with the wisdom that Hashem gave him more than any other human being as a reward for not requesting material wealth. Yet, in the end, based on his wisdom, he tripped on all three mitzvos lo ta’aseh imposed upon the king, thinking that they don’t apply to him.

Bezras Hashem I would like to suggest a new idea based on what the Gemoreh (Avodah Zoreh 4b) teaches us that Dovid HaMelech stumbled and, consequently, sinned, in order to demonstrate the path of teshuvah to individuals. In addition, we have learned in the Gemoreh (Bova Basra 116a) that David’s son, Shlomo, followed in his father’s footsteps.

So, we can suggest that what occurred with David also occurred with Shlomo. In other words, HKB”H intentionally stated the reasons for the three mitzvos aimed at the king, so that Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of men, would fail in these matters. His failures provided a valuable lesson to all that one should fulfill all of the mitzvos with simple faith, without any other calculations.

How fitting is it what Chazal said (Shabbos 56b): “Anyone who claims that Shlomo sinned is simply mistaken” — similar to the statement made about his father (Shabbos 56a): “Anyone who claims that Dovid sinned is simply mistaken”. Both men were truly tzaddikim, holy and pure; their failures were ordained in order to demonstrate the ways of Hashem to the masses.

In this manner, we come up with an idea. Since Shlomo HaMelech’s failure in the three Lo Ta’ase were designed by Hashem to demonstrate for Klal Yisroel the importance of serving Hashem without ulterior motives or calculations, this is why HKB”H provided him with the Ruach Hakodesh to author the three seforim: Mishlei, Koheles and Shir HaShirim — to rectify the three mitzvos lo ta’aseh.

More details about about the connection between the three seforim: Mishlei, Koheles and Shir HaShirim and the three Lo Ta’ase we will leave for the mamar.

A wonderful Shabbos

Pinches

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Parshas-Shoftim

Translation Shoftim 5771

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Parshas Reei

Open your hands to help your brother

Open your hands which were clenched at birth
So you won’t be forced to open them at death

           

Dear Friends,

This week’s maamer on Parshas Reeh presents a deep new thought that we merited to have on the mitzvoh of giving tzedoke to the poor.

The Torah teaches: “If there shall be a poor person among you, one of your brothers in any of your cities, in your land that Hashem gives you: “Lo seametz es levovcho Velo sikpotz es yodcho meochicho haevyon” – do not harden your heart nor shall you close your hand against your destitute brother: “Ki poseach tiftach es yodcho lo” – rather you should open your hand to him.

We need to understand why the Torah places such great importance on the hands with which we perform the mitzvoh of tzedoke, saying: “Velo sikpotz es yodcho” and “Ki poseach tiftach es yodcho lo”. We do many mitzvos with our hands such as returning lost objects and holding the 4 minim on Sukkos, yet we are never told: “Ki poseach tiftach es yodcho lo“, open your hands in order to do the mitzvoh.

The maamer begins with a wonderful explanation given by the early Rabbi Yosef Tzarfati ZT”L in “Yad Yosef” which is based on a Medrash in Koheles Rabbah:

“It was learned in the name of Rabbi Meir: When a person is born, his hands are clenched, as if to say the whole world is mine, but when a person dies, his hands are open, as if to say that I inherited nothing from the world”.

So, says the “Yad Yosef”, this is what Hashem is begging us: “Velo sikpotz es yodcho” – don’t keep your hand closed the way you were born, maintaining a greedy attitude of: “the whole world is mine”. Because in the end when you die: “Ki poseach tiftach es yodcho lo” you will be forced to open your hands and acknowledge that you were not able to keep anything from this world. So it is better that you open your hands of your own volition while you are still alive, to do the mitzvoh of tzedoke in the merit of which you can inherit Olam Haba.

This fascinating thought gives us a new understanding on the Gemore in Baba Basra: “The mitzvoh of tzedoke is equivalent to all the other mitzvos”, with the explanation of Reb Elimelech of Lishensk, that a person is created to break his nature. The holy seforim explain that the beginning and the root of anything, is the source for everything that follows, and by correcting the root you can correct everything that follows.

The first thing every new born does when it enters the world is, to clench it fists declaring that the world is mine. So this bad middoh – habit, is the source of all the bad middos – habits that we are born with. From this we can learn that if a person can break this first bad habit, by opening his clenched hands to give tzedoke, he can also overcome all his other bad habits. That is why the mitzvoh of tzedoke is the equivalent of all the other mitzvos which are intended to purify all our bad habits.

Based on this new idea we explain: By opening our hands willingly on this world to overcome our stingy nature, we in return cause Hashem to open his hands to shower us with all good, as we say to Hashem three times a day in Ashrei the possuk in Tehilim: Posayach es yadecho umasbia lchol chai rotzon – “You open your hand, and satisfy the desire of every living thing.” This fits in beautiful in the possuk: “Ki poseach tiftach es yadcho lo”open your hands to Hashem and then He will open His hands in the heavens to shower you with all goods.

This gives us a new understanding why our sages gave us the mitzvoh of washing hands before eating bread. Before we can eat the bread that Hashem gives us by opening his hands: Posayach es yadecho umasbia lchol chai rotzon”, we need to do a personal accounting and think if we opened our hands to give of our bread to the poor.

But because we are born with evil tendencies, who can honestly say that he opened his hands wide enough to give tzedoke to the poor. So the Sages established that before eating, we should wash our hands, to purify them from our having sullied them by not giving tzedoke properly. In order to wash hands properly we need to open them fully, thus cleansing them from not opening them sufficiently.

Brothers and friends: Let us all open our hands to help our fellow brothers, but not only our hands but also our hearts and feelings, giving them an encouraging word; greeting them with a broad smile; complement them. Sometimes it is much more than giving them money. That is the full meaning of the great mitzvoh: “Lo seametz es levovcho Velo sikpotz es yodcho meochicho haevyon” – do not harden your heart nor shall you close your hand against your destitute brother: “Ki poseach tiftach es yodcho lo”open your hand to him. It is then that Hashem will open his hands that contain all that we need: Health, parnose, Naches from our sweet kinderlich, tranquility and much more.

Wishing you a Good and Blessed Shabbos

Your friend,

Pinches

 

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Parshas-Reei

Translation Re’eh 5771

Parshas Eikev

Saying “Modim” which is gematriya 100 with great Kavone
Is Considered as if we said the daily 100 beroches
which saves us from all tragedies!

 

Dear Friends,

In this week’s parsha, Eikev, we learn that we have an obligation to make 100 broches a day. As it says in the gemoreh Menoches on the possuk: “Mah Hashem elokecho shoel meimcho ki im leyiroh” – “What does Hashem want from you? Just to fear him.”  The gemoreh teaches: Don’t read “mah”, read it as “mayoh”, which is 100 broches.

The Bal Haturim brings a Medresh, that Dovid Hamelech established saying 100 brochos every day because every day 100 people died and no one knew why, until it was revealed to Dovid by ruach hakodesh, that we need to make 100 brochos a day with great kavoneh.

How alarming and fearful are the words of the heiliger Rabbi Moshe Leib of Sasov zt”l, who wrote in a letter about himself: “What kind of person am I? And if I sinned against Hashem only by saying 100 brochos a day without fear and awe, angering Hashem 100 times a day, woe is to me that I do this every single day”.

If such a holy person can say this about himself with his great humility, what can we say? Who among us has the audacity to say that we have proper thoughts and concentration as we say 100 brochos a day? This and more, Dovid Hamelech established saying 100 brochos a day as to save 100 people a day from dying. When we see so much suffering around us, we must consider that the reason is possibly that we are not concentrating properly when we say the broches.

Perhaps, we can take solace from the Daas Zekanim from the Balei Tosfos (this week’s parsha), who say that the Chachomim established saying Modim three times a day, to correspond with the 100 brochos, and by saying Modim, which has the numerical value of 100, with proper concentration, it is considered as if we said all 100 brochos with proper concentration.

We take this opportunity to elaborate on the significance of Modim and our obligation to bow as we say it. The implications of not doing so are severe. The gemoreh says that after death, a person’s spine turns into a snake, if he didn’t bow when saying Modim. Tosfos say that such a person will not get up at Techiyas Hamaysim. Why is the punishment so great that his spine turns into a snake?

Davening and expressing gratitude
connects a person to Hashem

To explain this, let us explore a wonderful concept about the importance of Tefillo, from the great Rabbi Reb Bunim of Peshischa. He points out the difference between how Hashem punished Adam, Chava and the snake. Adam was punished that men would have to work to eat: “Bezias apecho tochal lechem”, Chava was punished that women would suffer great pain during child birth: “Beetzev teildi bonim”, and the snake that sinned and caused others to sin was punished that snakes would live on dirt: “Veofor tochal kol yemei chayecho”.

The Gemereh explains that the snake was cursed that wherever he goes his food supply is with him, since he can always easily find dirt. What is so terrible about the snake’s having its food supply available wherever it goes? On the contrary, it seems like a bracha to never have to be bothered to even have to look for food?

He explained: The greatest reward for any creature is the ability to have a connection to Hashem, by having to ask for things. As it says in Tehilim: “Einei chol eilecho yesabeiru veato nosein lohem es ochlom beito” –  “The eyes of all look to You with hope and You give them their food in its proper time”. And as it also says: “Hakfirim shoagim lateref ulevakesh meikeil ochlom” – “The young lions roar after their prey, and to seek their food from G-d.”

That is what Hashem told Adam after he sinned: “you will eat with the sweat of your brow”. The fact that you will have to work to eat is a punishment that is really good for you, since it will cause you to look to Hashem and daven to Him to give you parnosseh. This will cause man to constantly be connected to Hashem. Similarly, a woman in excruciating pain during child birth will turn to Hashem to daven and beg for mercy, causing her to be connected to Hashem.

But the snake that pushed us from the source of Hashem’s kedushe, so angered Hashem that He does not even want to ever hear his voice. So Hashem cursed him saying, your food will be readily available, you will have no reason to turn to me, which is fine because I do not want to ever hear your contaminated voice!

This my friends, is what we must have in mind when we bow 3 times a day to Hashem & say Modim. We must express our gratitude that we have a connection to Hashem; that he responds to our requests and does not push us away as he did the snake, whose prayers and voice he does not wish to hear.

On the contrary, Hashem wants to hear from us; he wants the connection, so he set us up so that we should come to Him to ask Him to fulfill our needs, and then we express our gratitude for all the wonderful things that He constantly does for us. As it says in Yeshaya: “Am zu yatzarti li thilosi yesapeiru” – “I created these people, so that they should recite my praise”. This is all only for our benefit so we have a connection to Hashem and not because Hashem kavayachol needs our praise.

These are just highlights of the Maamer, please take the time to go through it to get a full appreciation of how grateful we need to be to Hashem.

Let us all have a sweet and uplifted Shabbos,

From Yerushalayim iar hakodesh

Pinches

 

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Parshas-Eikev

Translation Eikev 5771

Parshas Vueschanan

Clarifying the wonderful chidush of the great “Pnei Yehoshua”

Moshe Rabeinu Wished to Daven 516 Tefillos to
Sweeten the Din of Six Times Elokim which is Begimatria 516

Dear Chaveirim.

In this week’s parsha, parshas Voeschanan, we learn of Moshe Rabeinu’s Tefillo to enter Eretz Yisroel: “Voeschanan el Hashem boeis hahu leimor”… Our holy sages teach us in Midrosh, that Moshe Rabeinu davened 515 Tefillos — the numerical value of the word “Voeschanon,” in order to be permitted to enter Eretz Yisroel.

Concerning this matter, the great Goen the “Pnei Yehoshua” writes in his seifer on Misechte Berochos (32:1): Moshe Rebeinu intended to implore HKB”H with 516 Tefillos — equivalent to six times the name of Elokim; he wished to sweeten the Din of these six times Elokim. After completing 515 Tefillos, he planned to add one more tefillah to complete the desired number of 516 Tefillos, but was admonished by HKB”H who told him: “Rav loch al tosef daber eiley od badover hazhe” – “It is too much for you! Do not continue to speak to Me further concerning this matter”. HKB”H informed him that the time to eliminate the six powers of Midas Hadin had not yet arrived, and, therefore, he should desist from davening one additional tefilloh.

We find it a challenge and a mission to explore and clarify this holy idea of this great tzaddik. Attesting to the Pnei Yehoshua’s greatness, the gaon Chida writes in Shem HaGedolim:

“Rabbi Yehoshua of Cracow was the brilliant head of the beis-din and the head of the yeshivah for the holy community of Frankfurt am Main, in the year 5501. He became famous throughout the world due to his four volume composition on the sha”s known as the Pnei Yehoshua. I was fortunate as a young man to spend time in his holy graces; he had the appearance of a heavenly angel”.

It is worth noting that we find support for the Pnei Yehoshua’s opinion from the great Mekubel, our Rabbi the “Megaleh Amukos” zy”a, who was also from Cracow (whose yahrtzeit falls on this Shabbos Kodesh the thirteenth of Menachem Av). In his Seifer on Voeschanan (194), he explains at length that Moshe Rabeinu wanted to enter Eretz Yisroel in order to destroy six negative powers of Midas Hadin.

On Shabbos Six Times the Name Havaya
Diminishes the Force of the Six Aspects of Elokim

We continue to show that the concept of the six powers of Midas Hadin, are the result of the six appearances of the shem Elokim mentioned during the “sheishes yemei breishis” six days of creation — one for each weekday.  On Shabbos, therefore, the effect of the six aspects of Elokim is diminished and balanced out by the six Havayas that join them.

This concept coincides beautifully with the mitzvoh to make a broche, by each of the three seudos of Shabbos, on “lechem mishneh,” a double portion of bread, on Shabbos. The Bnei Yissoschor writes (Rosh Chodesh 1, 11) that the numerical value of the word “Lechem” (78), meaning bread, is equivalent to three times the name Havaya (26); consequently, a double portion of “lechem” would equal six times the name Havaya. Thus, by fulfilling the mitzvah of “lechem mishneh” on Shabbos, we invoke six times the name Havaya to counteract the six powers of Midas Hadin generated by the six aspects of Elokim which are in effect during the six weekdays.

The First Letters of Yisgadal Veyiskadash Shmei Rabbo equals 516

Hashem has provided us with a wonderful source for the insight of the Pnei Yehoshua — that there are six powers of Midas Hadin deriving from six times the name Elokim, which equals 516. In the incomparable teachings of the Arizal in “Shaar HaKavanos” regarding kadish. He states that the first letters of the words: “Yisgadal Veyiskadash Shmei Rabbo” have a numerical value of 516. When saying these words, one should have in mind to sweeten the six aspects of the name Elokim which have the same exact numerical value. So, here we have an outright statement that reciting kadish with the proper intent counteracts the source of the six aspects of Midas Hadin originating from the six Elokim.

We should add, therefore, that since, due to our sins, Moshe was not permitted to complete the last prayer, it is our responsibility to complete that prayer by davening: “Yisgadal Veyiskadash Shmei Rabbo”. By uttering these words of prayer with focus and meaning — these words whose first letters equal 516 — we strive to complete the one missing tefilloh. When we successfully complete this tefilloh, all the decrees of the exile emanating from the six mentions of Elokim will be eliminated. Then, surely we will see with our own eyes that it will be: “Yisgadal Veyiskadash Shmei Rabbo”, His Name will be restored to its complete form, and we will be zoche to the Geuleh Sheleimo Bomhiro Beyomeinu Omein.

Let us all have a wonderful Shabbos.

Pinches

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Parshas-Vueschanan

Translation Voeschanon 5771

 

Parshas Devorim – Shabbos Chazon

Had We Been Worthy We Would Read: “Eicho eso levadi”
Now that We Were Not Worthy We Read
: “Eicho yoshvo bodod”

Dear Chaveirim.

This upcoming Shabbos parshas Devorim, is known as “Shabbos Chazon.” Because of the haftoreh that we read, about the Vision that Yeshayah hanovi had, concerning the churben – the destruction of the Beis HaMikdosh: “Chazon Yeshayahu ben Amotz” – the vision of Yeshayahu the son of Amotz, which he saw regarding Yehudoh and Yerushalayim. This parsha and this haftoreh are always read, without exception, on the Shabbos before the Fast of Tisho Be’Ov.

We begin our journey by refering to the following Medresh: “Had you been worthy, you would have recited from the Torah: “Eicho eso levadi” – “How can I carry alone”; now that you were not worthy, you are required to recite: “Eicho yoshvo bodod” – “How is it that she, Yerusholayim, sits alone”.

In the last week’s mamar we discussed at length, citing the Sefas Emes, that the reason HKB”H arranged for Aharon HaKohen to depart from this world on Rosh Chodesh Av — the commencement of the nine days on which we mourn the loss of the Beis HaMikdosh, which was destroyed because of “sinas chinam.” It is HKB”H’s wish that Aharon will influence us from above to follow in his ways and to love our fellow Jew. As we learned in the Mishneh that Aharon was “Ohev Sholom Verodef Sholom” — loving peace, pursuing peace, loving all creatures and bringing them nearer to Torah.

We can now begin to understand a bit, Moshe Rabeinu outpouring his heart to Klal Yisroel: “Eicho eso levadi” — how can I bear alone your trouble and your burden and your quarrels? So long as my brother Aharon — the ultimate peacemaker — was alive, he assisted me by promoting peace between all members of Klal Yisroel. Now, however, that Aharon has passed away on Hor HaHor, I have been left alone; how am I to bear this burden alone? I am not capable of eliminating the “sinas chinam” and resolving the disputes alone.

We can now shed light on the meaning of the Medresh: “Had you been worthy, you would have recited from the Torah: “Eicho eso levadi” – the possuk that Moshe rabeinu pours out his holy words concerning quarrels and “sinas chinam”; had you taken the message to heart, by putting aside your differences and learning to love and appreciate one another, the Beis HaMikdosh would not have been destroyed. “Now, however, that you were not worthy and did not heed Moshe’s words, you are forced to recite: “Eicho yoshvo bodod” – to cry over the destruction of the Beis HaMikdosh due to baseless hatred, “sinas chinam.”

So brothers and friends, it all boils down to the same important point again and again; a rule that makes us or chas vesholem brakes us: We need to stop being selfish; stop thinking only about ourselves. We need to seek for the good in all fellow Jews, no matter who and what. We must remember to except every person with a broad smile and a bright good morning and good night. It is then that HKB”H will smile down at us and great us with a bright new good morning. It will be then that he will shine at us with his holy glory and all pain and problems will vanish Bimheiro Beyomeinu Omein.

A wonderful Shabbos

Pinches

Parshas-Devorim Shabbos-Chazon

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Translation Devorim – Shabbas Chazon 5771