Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 12   No. 46

This issue is sponsored in honour of
our brothers and sisters in Gush Katif n.y.
Yeshu'as Hashem ke'heref ayin

Parshas Devarim
(Shabbos Chazon)

Who Said Seifer Devarim?

The Dubner Magid relates how, in light of the opening words of Devarim "These are the words that Moshe spoke to all of Yisrael", he asked his Rebbe, the Vilna Gaon to define the difference between Seifer Devarim and the other four Sefarim. In reply, the G'ro explained that when Moshe taught Yisrael the first four Sefarim, what they heard was the Voice of G-d speaking from Moshe's throat, as the Pasuk writes in Yisro "Moshe yedaber, ve'ho'Elokim ya'anenu be'Kol". Whereas when he taught them Seifer Devarim, he conveyed to them what G-d had taught him previously. In other words, although the words that Moshe spoke were precisely, word for word, what G-d had told him, they no longer emanated directly from G-d Himself, but from Moshe (much in the same way as the prophecy of all other prophets). And this is what Chazal mean when they say that Moshe said Seifer Devarim by himself.

The footnote cites the Maharal, who agrees with this explanation, and uses it to explain the Gemara in Megilah (31b), which permits stopping in the Tochachah of Ki Savo (because it was said in the plural), but prohibits doing so in that of Bechukosai (which was said in the singular). Indeed Tosfos there, seems to agree with the G'ro, too.


The Or ha'Chayim however, emphatically states that all the admonitions in Seifer Devarim were Moshe's own personal words of rebuke to K'lal Yisrael (and were even addressed to people who had reached the age of thirteen, as opposed to G-d's Tochachah in Bechukosai, which was confined to those who were over twenty). And what's more, he says, they are recorded in the Torah even though he was not instructed by G-d to do so. In fact, he adds, even when, throughout the Seifer, Moshe quotes what G-d had said, he did this of his own accord, and not by Divine instruction.

The Ramban too writes that 'Moshe saw fit to explain the Torah of his own accord, without having been commanded to do so'. The footnote however, cites the Gemara in Bava Basra (15a) which indicates that apart from the last eight Pesukim, the entire Torah was dictated by G-d to Moshe, who repeated it verbally word by word, before writing it down.

And he cites the K'li Chemdah, who reconciles this with the Ramban in the following way. Moshe did indeed say the entire Seifer Devarim in his own words, as the events in the Seifer unfolded. But when the time came to transcribe it, G-d took Moshe's words and eternalized them, making them part of the Torah, and then dictated them back to Moshe.


The Medrash explains how, when G-d told Moshe in Vayeilech (31:14) "Behold (Hein) your days are approaching to die", Moshe asked Him why he used the expression "Behold" to inform him of such bad news, the very expression that he had himself used to praise G-d, when he said in Eikev (10:14) "Behold the heavens ... belong to G-d". To which G-d replied by reminding him that many years earlier, he had used the very same word in a negative sense, when in Va'eira (6:12) he declared "Behold, the B'nei Yisrael did not listen to me, so why should Par'oh?"

This Medrash seems to corroborate the explanation of the Ramban and the Or ha'Chayim. For if, as the G'ro maintains, every word in Devarim was dictated by G-d, then the Medrash is rendered meaningless.

It is possible however, that the G'ro will agree with the Ramban's explanation. In the same way as, according to the K'li Chemdah, the Ramban is referring to the originality of Seifer Devarim, but not to its actual transcription (even though this is not what he seems to be saying), so too, might the G'ro be referring to its transcription, but not to who originally said it.

In that case, it is only the Or ha'Chayim who disagrees, and who ascribes all aspects of Seifer Devarim to Moshe Rabeinu, and who still needs to reconcile his opinion with the Gemara in Bava Basra will remain difficult.

* * *

Parshah Pearls

Suffering at Sinai

"You have spent long enough at this mountain" (1:6).

Perhaps, says the K'li Yakar, the Torah is admonishing the people here. Bearing in mind Chazal's description of Yisrael's departure from Har Sinai 'like a child running away from school', what the Torah means is that, due to the intense pressure of Kabalas ha'Torah and building the Mishkan, they were so eager to leave Har Sinai that the year that they spent there seemed to drag on forever. Hence the long time that they had spent at Har Sinai was really a reflection of their own negative thoughts. Maybe that is why the Torah refers to it as "this mountain" (which is a symbol of growth, as we find in the Pasuk in Tehillim "Who will ascend the mountain of G-d", and this was something which Yisrael currently spurned). And the K'li Yakar cites Ya'akov Avinu, who referred to the seven years that he worked for Rachel as 'a few days' (a short time) because he loved her.

That's how it goes. When there is love, a long wait doesn't seem so long; whilst when there is hatred, every day is a day too long.


Not Quite Like the Stars

"And behold you are as numerous a the stars in the sky" (1:10).

Just as the stars respect one another, and there is peace between them, so too the Tzadikim, says the Medrash.

The Tzadikim ought to take their cue from the stars, the P'ninim Yekarim explains, but unfortunately, they don't - for the Torah only equates them with the stars with regard to their numbers, but not in any other respect.


Money Speaks, but not Necessarily the Truth

(Adapted from the P'ninei Torah)

"You shall listen to the small just like to the big" (1:17)

See Rashi.

Taken literally, the Torah is referring to a poor man and a rich man, and what the Pasuk means is that when a wealthy man claims from a poor one, the Dayanim should listen to what the defendant has to say and take his words no less seriously than those of the claimant.

It may well be, that the claimant conveys the impression that he is a great man, and the defendant, a small one. But that is likely to be an illusion. Who knows whether, under the veneer, it is not the poor man who is truly great, and the rich one who is insignificant.

That explains, says the No'am Megadim, why the Torah writes "ka'koton ka'godol tishmo'un". The wealthy man certainly seems to be the greater of the two, but that is not to say that that is so.


No Need to be Afraid

"Do not be afraid of anybody" (1:17).

This Pasuk follows that of "you shall listen to the small just like to the big".

The No'am Megadim explains this in conjunction with the Zohar on the Pasuk in Tehilim (49:6) "avon akeivai yesubeini". A person needs to be afraid of having transgressed the 'small' sins that people tend to trample with their feet (see also the opening Rashi in Eikev).

Therefore the Pasuk says that anybody who is careful to perform those small Mitzvos with the same fervour as he performs the big ones will have nothing to fear (as he will be surrounded by Divine protection).


Retroactive Retribution

"And you approached me, all of you (together)" (1:22).

In connection with Matan Torah, comments Rashi, the Pasuk writes in Va'eschanan (5:23) "And you approached me, all the heads of the tribes and your elders". That approach was done civilly; there the younger people showed respect to the elders, allowing them to go in front of them, and the elders in turn, gave honour to the leaders. Not like here, where, with reference to the Golden Calf, total confusion reigned, with everyone pushing and shoving to get to the front.

Why do Chazal find it necessary to mention Matan Torah here, asks the K'li Yakar? The Torah is rebuking K'lal Yisrael, and this is not the place to praise them for what they did right?

Indeed, he replies, the reference to Matan Torah too contains a rebuke. Initially, he explains, when Moshe saw how well-manneredly Yisrael behaved when the Torah was given, he was duly impressed. However, when it came to the episode of the spies, he saw that when they really got excited over something, their good manners sort of dissipated. In that case, Yisrael's orderly behaviour when they stood at Har Sinai, was due, not so much to good manners, as to a lack of enthusiasm. This is not an uncommon trait, unfortunately. There are many people who are prepared to fight for Kavod and money and even for food. But when it comes to Mitzvos, they suddenly become gentlemen. A bit of honest self-introspection however, may well reveal that their gentlemanly behaviour when it comes to Mitzvos is really due to the fact that they simply don't consider Torah and Mitzvos worth getting excited about. Worse still, they will discover that all they really care about is a little more Kavod, a little more money and a little more food.


Seeing is Believing - but ...

" ... and in this matter you do not believe in Hashem your G-d" (1:32).

There is a saying that goes 'Seeing is believing'. That may well be true, but it has nothing to do with Emunah. Emunah is believing without the need to see anything, says the Dineve Rebbe, because Hashem's word and His track record are His guarantee.

Having witnessed all the miracles in Egypt and in the desert, Yisrael ought to have had sufficient faith in G-d to go into Eretz Yisrael blind. And if He ordered them to enter the land and take it without as much as raising a sword (see Rashi 1:8), then that is precisely what they should have done.

The fact that they insisted on seeing the land is indicative of a lack of Emunah, which is why the Torah writes " ... and in this matter you do not believe in Hashem your G-d".


Can't Wait to Die

"And you will not be plagued before your enemies" (1:41, in connection with the Ma'apilim).

One generally interprets "before (lifnei)" to mean 'in front of your enemies' (when they attack).

However, says R. Shlomoh Kluger, in this case, this is not necessary, since it is quite in place to translate it as 'earlier than'.

On the Pasuk (41) "like bees", Rashi explains that when the Emori chased after Yisrael and struck them down, they died (like bees that have stung). What the Torah is therefore saying is that, if the people attempt to march to Eretz Yisrael, the Emori will end up being plagued, only they will be plagued first.


All for the Good

"And also the Hand of G-d was against them to confuse them until they were finished (ad tumam)" 2:15.

The words "ad tumam", R. Shlomoh Kluger explains, can also mean 'until they reached perfection'. Because when G-d punishes K'lal Yisrael, it is not an act of revenge, but an act of love. G-d wants Yisrael to attain a level of perfection, so that they will merit His goodness. So when they sin and lose that merit, He does whatever needs to be done to enable them to regain their former status, to become eligible once again to deserve His goodness.

* * *


(Adapted mainly from the Ma'ayanah shel Torah)

The Ox Knows ...

"The ox knows its purchaser ... ' (Yeshayah 1:3).

The Tzavrei Shalal illustrates this Pasuk with the following episodes ...

The Yerushalmi relates the story of R. Yochanan ben Torsa's ox, which, after being sold to a gentile, refused to plough on Shabbos. All the merciless beatings that it received at the hand of its new owner were of no avail - until R. Yochanan came and whispered in its ear that it no longer belonged to him but to a gentile owner, with whose wishes it was from now on obligated to comply. Without any more ado, the ox arose and prepared to cary out its new owner's orders.

When the gentile saw this, he was so impressed that he immediately converted to Judaism.

From that day on, R. Yochanan became known as R. Yochanan ben Torsa ('Tor' is the Arama'ic word for an ox).


A similar story is told about the ox that Eliyahu ha'Navi gave to the prophets of Ba'al on Mount Carmel, to bring as a sacrifice on the altar that they had built, whilst its twin he chose to offer as a sacrifice to G-d. The ox, not wishing to be brought as a sacrifice to idolatry, dug in its heels and refused to move, until Eliyahu assured it that the Kidush Hashem that was about to ensue was as much due to it as to its twin. Only then did it condescend to walk to the Mizbe'ach of Ba'al ...


... And So Does the Donkey

" ... and the donkey the feeding-trough of its master" (ibid.)

... Yet a third story the Gemara in Chulin relates about the donkey of R. Pinchas ben Ya'ir, which refused to eat crops from which Ma'asros had not been taken.

The oxen and the donkey knew who their masters were, says the Navi, but Yisrael remained blissfully unaware ...


Some Slates Can be Wiped Clean, Others Can't

"If your sins will be red like red threads, they will become white like snow; and if they are red like a red dye, they will become white as wool" (1:18).

To explain this Pasuk, the Toldos Adam cites Chazal, who say that someone who causes others to sin will not be given the opportunity to do Teshuvah, which he explains to mean that even if they perform Teshuvah, their Teshuvah will remain incomplete. And this explains the Pasuk's change from "snow" to "white wool", which can be understood, if one bears in mind that a Baheres (the most blatant form of Tzara'as), is as white as snow, whereas a 'Se'eis' (a weaker form of Tzara'as) resembles white wool.

What the Pasuk is therefore saying is that if Yisrael's sins will be like red threads, in that, like red threads, they are themselves sinful, but do not make others sin, they will earn a complete pardon (white like snow). But if, on the other hand, they are like red dye, inasmuch as, like red dye makes others red, they cause others to sin too, then they will be forgiven, but that forgiveness will not be complete (like white wool compared to snow).

The Meshech Chochmah, following the same trend of thought, explains it a little differently ...

To begin with, he ascribes the two statements to the two Batei Mikdash; Hence, he says, quoting a Yerushalmi, in the first Beis Hamikdash, the red thread that the Kohen Gadol placed in the Beis-Hamikdash (and which would turn white as he pushed the Goat to Az'azel over the cliff), turned white like snow, whereas in the second Beis Hamikdash, it turned as white as wool. And the reason for this was that in the time of the first Beis Hamikdash, it was only on the outside that they were red with sin (due to their incredibly powerful Yeitzer ha'Ra for idolatry, as Chazal have explained). On the inside however, they teemed with a genuine love of Torah and of Yisrael, which is what Chazal mean when they say that 'their sin was revealed, and so the end of their Galus was revealed too'.

Indeed, the generation of Achav were successful in war because they were able to hold their tongues, and the same is said about Eliyahu ha'Navi, who claimed to be the only surviving Navi, and not a soul divulged to the king that another hundred prophets were being hidden in two caves. Furthermore, the same Achav acceded to Sancheriv's demand to hand him over his wives and money, but, for all his wickedness, when Sancheriv added his Seifer Torah to the list, he refused, placing his life in danger by doing so.

Not so in the time of the second Beis-Hamikdash, whose termination of the Galus is not revealed, because their sin was not revealed, meaning that it has penetrated their insides, to the point that, like the red dye, they became intrinsically evil, a trait which manifested itself in baseless hatred of one's fellow-Jew, and in slander. That is why even if they were to do Teshuvah and G-d would forgive them, they would only become white like wool, but not like snow.

* * *

This section is co-sponsored

Tish'ah be'Av Supplement

All About Tish'ah be'Av
(Adapted from the Medrash)

The Mask

The skin of R. Yishmael's face, says the Medrash, is still to be found in Rome, which is synonymous with the wicked Edom. Once every seventy years, the Romans bring a healthy man, whom they ride on the back of a lame one (symbolizing Eisav and Ya'akov respectively). They dress him in the garments of Adam ha'Rishon (which Ya'akov 'borrowed' from Eisav when he received the B'rachos) and on his head they place the skin of R. Yishmael Kohen Gadol's face (to demonstrate that even the physical beauty is really theirs).

They then take a weight of four (or two hundred) Zuzim, which they hang round his neck, and with another such sum they pave the markets (to show off the wealth of Rome), and they announce before him 'the brother of our master obtained the blessings (from Yitzchak) by means of trickery (when he declared 'I am your firstborn son Eisav).

Whoever sees (this spectacle), is fortunate to see it, and whoever doesn't, won't see it again. Woe to this one (Eisav) when this one (Ya'akov) arises'!


Megilas Eichah

When, in defiance of Yirmiyahu ha'Navi and his threatening prophesies, King Yehoyakim placed him in jail, the former prophesied that he would be punished by being 'buried (vertically) like a donkey, cast a distance away from the gates of Yerushalayim'. And that is precisely what happened, with one addition - he was buried minus his head.

And it was from prison that Yirmiyahu sent his faithful disciple Baruch ben Neriyah (who would later be the Rebbe of Ezra ha'Sofer) to continue to chastise Yisrael and to warn them to repent before it was too late.

And it was whilst he was in prison, that he finally foresaw the impending destruction of the Beis-Hamikdash and the troubles that would befall Yehudah and Yerushalayim at the hand of Nevuchadnetzar King of Bavel. So he called for Baruch ben Neriyah and, weeping bitterly, he dictated to him the events that would soon unfold, in the form of Megilas Eichah, each chapter (1, 2, and 4) containing twenty-two Pesukim (according to the letters of the alphabet). He then ordered him to guard the Megilah carefully, and when all the people would gather in the House of G-d to fast and pray, he should read it aloud in front of them, perhaps it would open their hearts to do Teshuvah and avert the looming tragedy.

Sure enough, the day that Yirmiyah had anticipated soon arrived. Nevuchadnetzar had just begun his quest to conquer the world. His troops were fearful to behold, his horses swifter than eagles, and his successes in the battlefield had to be seen to be believed. His fear gripped the people of Yehudah, and so, in the month of Kislev, the elders called a day of fasting and prayer, and all the people assembled in the Beis-Hamikdash to pour out their hearts before G-d.

Baruch ben Neriyah arose and read out to them the Megilah from beginning to end. When Michoyhu, the son of the King's Sofer, heard the Megilah, he was gripped by fear, and he ran to the 'Lishkas ha'Sofer', where all the king's officers were currently gathered, and told them what he had just heard.

Now although King Yehoyakim was a wicked man, his officers were all G-d-fearing, only they were unable to make an impression on the king, who was as stubborn as he was evil. So at the behest of the officers, Baruch went and read the Megilah to them, and indeed, he made a deep impression on them.

In the hope that the contents of the Megilah might just soften the king's heart, they suggested that the Megilah be taken and read out to him as well. However, knowing what sort of a man Yehoyakim was, they advised Baruch to let them do the job, whilst he and Yirmiyah hide somewhere in the deep recesses of the jail where Yirmayahu was being incarcerated, to escape the king's awesome wrath.

In fear and trepidation, the officers appeared before the king and informed him that they had bad news. When they told him about the Megilah, he sent a man to fetch it and bring it to his winter house in which a large coal-fire burned. The man began to read. The king heard that Yehudah was destined to weep, and its children would go into exile, the Kohanim to sigh and no longer be able to go up to Yerushalayim, but he laughed mockingly 'What does all this have to do with me?' he asked in mock surprise. 'As long as I remain king, all this doesn't bother me one bit!'

The officers lowered their faces. They wept inwardly.

'Continue', he commanded. And the man read "Its enemies became the leaders".

'What!' screamed Yehoyakim, 'The enemies of Yehudah will take over my throne! That is something I am not prepared to hear!'

And in a rage, he grabbed the Megilah and tossed it into the fire.

The frightened officers begged him to desist, but their words fell upon deaf ears.


As the officers had anticipated, Yehoyakim sent for Yirmiyahu and Baruch to be brought before him. The messengers searched every inch of the prison, but the two Tzadikim were under Divine protection, and they could not be found. Yirmiyah subsequently instructed Baruch to rewrite Megilas Eichah, adding chapter three, which contains sixty-six Pesukim, three times the alphabet (equivalent to the combined total of Pesukim in the other three chapters).


And what happened to Yehoyakim?

'Because he burned the Megilah', said G-d, 'he will not have a son who sits on the throne of David. His corpse will lie unburied, open to the heat of the day and the cold of the night, and he and his children will be duly punished for their sins. And G-d will bring to bear on him, on his children and on all the men of Yehudah, all the evil that he said he would'.

* * *

(Adapted from Seifer Or la'Yesharim)

Why are the Pesukim of Eichah written according to the 'Alef-Beis'?

Because Yisrael transgressed the Torah that is written with the 'Alef-Beis' (Sanhedrin 104).

Why does the letter 'Pey' precede the letter 'Ayin'?

Because they spoke with their mouths what they did not see with their eyes.


"Eichah" is the acronym of 'Ayeh Koh', which means ...

'where is the "Koh yih'yeh zar'echa" - "So (many) will be your children" (which G-d promised to Avraham [i.e. as numerous as the stars])? or ...

where is the "Koh somar le'Veis Ya'akov" (which G-d said to Moshe, prior to Matan Torah [where He promised that Yisrael would be a treasured nation])? or ...

where is the "Koh sevorchu es B'nei Yisrael" (introducing Birchas Kohanim)?


Yisrael were exiled because they denied ...
'Alef' ... Yechido shel Olam (the One G-d).
'Yud' ... the Aseres ha'Dibros.
'Chaf'... the B'ris Milah (which was given to Avraham Avinu, who lived twenty generations after the creation of the world).
'Hey' ...the Chamishah Chumshei Torah.


Three chapters of Eichah begin with the word "Eichah", corresponding to the destruction of the first Beis-Hamikdash, which was destroyed because Yisrael transgressed the three cardinal sins (Avodah-Zarah, Giluy-Arayos and Shefichus-Damim). Each of these sins carries with it the penalty of Kareis ... the numerical value of "Eichah" 36, is equivalent to the total number of sins that are punishable by Kareis.

The third chapter ("Ani ha'gever") does not begin with "Eichah", because it corresponds to the second Beis-Hamikdash, which was not destroyed on account of the three cardinal sins, but because of baseless hatred. On the other hand, baseless hatred is placed on a par with the three sins. That is why this chapter comprises the Alef-Beis three times.

These four chapters correspond to the destruction of the Beis-Hamikdash, which is the basis and the root of everything. That explains why they comprise the 'Alef-Beis', which is the basis and the root of everything, too.

The fifth Chapter "Z'chor Hashem", corresponds to the Galus from Eretz Yisrael, which is not the basis ... . Therefore it does not go according to the Alef-Beis. (Maharal)


"Eichah" has connotations of rebuke (Medrash). Hence -
Moshe said "Eichah ... eso levadi" (Devarim 1).
Yeshayah said "Eichah ... hoysoh le'zonoh" (Yeshayah 1).
Yirmiyah said "Eichah ... yoshvoh bodod" (Eichah 1).
But the first to say "Eichah" (albeit with different punctuation) was G-d, who said to Adam (immediately after the first sin) "Ayeka?"

* * *

The Ten Martyrs - A Divine Decree
(Part 2)

When R. Yishmael Kohen Gadol told his colleagues what he had heard before G-d's Throne of Glory, they all rejoiced. They sat before R. Nechunya ben ha'Kanah and organized a festive party. R. Yishmael and his close friend Raban Shimon ben Gamliel rejoiced too, But they mourned at one and the same time. They mourned 'on the left' because of the horrific death that they were about to suffer, and they rejoiced 'on the right', because G-d had informed them that they were on a par with the sons of Ya'akov; and not only that, but the Prince (Raban Shimon ben Gamliel) added that G-d would accept their souls as a sacrifice, and would avenge their blood from the evil Romans. Therefore, they declared, 'Let us celebrate with harps and flutes'.

They then sat and began to study the laws of Pesach. They had got as far as the third chapter of Pesachim 'Eilu ovrim ba'Pesach', when the Roman general, sent by the emperor, entered with his sword drawn. 'I see', he said sarcastically, 'that your hearts are still drawn to Torah, even in the knowledge that you are about to be sentenced to death!'

It was said about R, Yishmael ben Elisha that he was one of the seven most good-looking men who ever lived - (Adam, Ya'akov, Yosef, Shaul, Avshalom, R, Avahu and R. Yishmael). That is why, when they brought him before the Emperor, the latter asked him whether there was another Jew who could compare with his striking appearance, to which he replied in the negative. The emperor ordered him and Raban Shimon ben Gamliel to be executed, and the general stepped forward to decapitate them. R. Yishmael requested that he be the first to die, since he was a Kohen Gadol, son of a Kohen Gadol, a descendent of Aharon ha'Kohen, and he did not wish to witness the death of the other Talmidei-Chachamim. However when Raban Shimon ben Gamliel, made the identical request, on the grounds that he was a Nasi, son of a Nasi, and he did not wish to witness the death of his colleagues, the general ordered lots to be drawn. This was done, and the lot fell on Raban Shimon ben Gamliel, who immediately stretched out his neck. With one stroke, the executioner decapitated him, and ordered R. Yishmael to stretch out his neck, as his turn had arrived. But when the latter asked for a few moments respite to cry over the death of the Tzadik, his request was granted.

R, Yishmael then picked up Raban Gamliel's severed head and, placing it on his knees, he lamented 'Woe to the mouth that fought the battle of Torah on behalf of a holy and pure nation, the mouth that emitted pearls. Who will now cover you in the dust? How there was decreed upon you such a horrible death. It is surely about him that the Navi Zecharyah (13:7) wrote " O sword, arouse yourself against My shepherd, and against the man who is My colleague (says Hashem)".

At this point, the general interrupted him 'Empty-headed man! Rather than weep over his death, why don't you weep over your own, for your death will be far worse than his. Upon hearing that, R. Yishmael began to weep so loudly, that his cries caused the emperor's daughter to come and see what was going on. When she perceived R. Yishmael, she was struck by his beauty, and asked the general to stay the execution so that she could first speak to her father (to ask for permission to spare R. Yishmael's life). The emperor however, made it clear that the one thing he would not grant her was the lives of the martyrs.

'In that case', she replied, 'allow me to tear the skin from his face. With such a request the emperor was only too happy to comply, and he immediately ordered them to tear the skin from the Kohen Gadol's face, intact, whilst he was still alive. When they reached the area of the Tefilin, he began to weep bitterly, and his loud, heart-rending sobs filled the air. The Romans could not understand why he suddenly began crying now, and not from the moment they began their task. 'It is not on account of my departing Soul that I am weeping, but on the destruction of the exact spot where the Tefilin, containing the holy Name of G-d, rested'.

'What', they replied in surprise, 'you still believe in the name of G-d! If He is really so great, why does he not come and save you?'

That piercing scream of R. Yishmael caused the entire world to shake (perhaps as a sign that they would one day pay for their crimes). And at that moment, he commented 'Nobody has ever been sentenced to such a death as this; nor will anyone in the future do so!'

To which a heavenly voice replied 'Did you not learn the Pasuk (in Ki-Savo, 28:61) "Also every illness and every punishment that is not written in this Torah" (with reference, Chazal explain, to the death of Tzadikim)?' The administering angels spoke up and exclaimed 'Is this the sort of decree that a Tzadik to whom You revealed the hidden treasures in Heaven deserves?'

'Leave him', replied G-d, 'in order that his merit will stand for all generations'.

'R. Yishmael screamed a second time, and this time, G-d's Heavenly throne of Glory shook, and G-d wanted to overturn the entire world. At that point, the Angel Gavriel descended and warned him that if he cries out a third time, G-d will turn the entire world into null and void. 'Understand how fortunate you and your colleagues are, regarding the reward that is stored away for you in Olam ha'Ba'. When R. Yishmael heard that, he turned his face and his Soul departed, and G-d announced 'Zeicher Tzadik li'v'rochoh ... '.

May G-d destroy the wicked Edom, in fulfillment of the Pasuk in Yechezkel (25:14) "And I will place My vengeance against Edom ... ".

Praiseworthy is the eye that saw this! Praiseworthy is the mother that bore him and the breasts that suckled him! Praiseworthy is the Torah that he learned and the knowledge that he attained! Praiseworthy are you R. Yishmael, that you merited all this!

* * *

(Adapted from the Ta'amei ha'Minhagim)

No 'vi'Yehi No'am'

The reason that we do not say 'vi'Yehi No'am' when Tishah be'Av falls on Motza'ei Shabbos, says the Mateh Moshe, is because it was instituted when the Mishkan was set up (see Rashi, Pikudei 39:43). Consequently it is befitting to omit it on the day when the Beis-Hamikdash was destroyed. And this is the genuine reason, because if it was due to the prohibition of working on Tishah be'Av, one ought not to say it even when Tishah be'Av falls during the week, like we do on Motza'ei Shabbos, when Yom-Tov falls on any of the six days that follow it.


'u'Vo le'Tzi'on Go'el

A number of reasons are given as to why we say 've'Atoh Kodosh' following Eichah (even at night-time on a weekday [see last year's issue 'Who will sanctify G-d's Name]).

The Seifer Pardes points to the Gemara in Sotah (49), which explains that the world exists because of Kedushah de'Sidra (the Kedushah contained in 'u'Vo le'Tzi'on go'el'). In that case, on a day when learning Torah, which normally keeps the world going, is prohibited, it is most apt to recite Kedushah, to compensate the missing Torah.


According to the Roke'ach, one begins with 'u'Vo le'Tzi'on go'el'. It is most apt he says, that after 'Kinos', one immediately beseeches G-d to bring the Mashi'ach, to turn our mourning into joy.

The Tur however, rules that one omits 'u'Vo le'Tzi'on go'el, because of the tradition that Mashi'ach will not come at night-time. Nor do we say 'va'Ani Zos B'risi ...", because it looks as if we are making a covenant on the Kinos (and for the same reason we do not say it in the morning either). And besides, how can we declare that the 'Torah will not be forgotten' on a day when learning Torah is prohibited.


Standing up for a Rav

It is customary to sit on the floor up until midday like an Aveil (strictly speaking, one may sit on a chair immediately after Shachris). During that time, one is not obligated to stand up if a Rav enters the room, because, as the Gemara explains in Kidushin, it is not a 'Kimah she'yesh bah hidur' (standing up which is conducive to honour, like someone who is in the bathhouse or a sick person who is in bed).


A B'ris Milah on Tishah be'Av

If a B'ris Milah is scheduled for Tishah be'Av, it should not be performed until after the conclusion of Kinos. This is because, based on the Pasuk in Tehilim "Sos onochi al imrosecho", the Mitzvah must be performed with joy, and it is only after the Pesukim of comfort, which conclude the Kinos, have been recited that this is possible (Levush).

When a B'ris takes place, says the Maharil, then one says the Pasuk 'va'Ani zos B'risi' (in u'Vo le'Tzi'on go'el', which is otherwise omitted, as we explained earlier).

The Tashbetz writes that it is customary to call a baby whose B'ris takes place on Tishah be'Av 'Menachem' and one whose B'ris takes place on Purim 'Mordechai'.

The Seifer Kerem Sh'lomoh, commenting on the Shulchan Aruch, which permits the Ba'al B'ris to wear nice clothes for the occasion (though not his Shabbos clothes), does not permit him to wear shoes, since this is prohibited by the Gemara.


Tishah be'Av is a Yom-Tov
and 'Aneinu' on Tishah be'Av

One does not say 'Keil Erech Apayim' (should Tishah be'Av fall on Thursday), 'Lamnatze'ach', or 'Tzidkoscho Tzedek' (if it falls on Shabbos or Sunday), because the Pasuk in Eichah (1:16) refers to Tishah be'Av as a 'Mo'ed'.

The Taz adds 'Aneinu' (which the Chazan does not say at Shachris) to the above list, but the Dagul Mer'vavah rejects this, since even someone who fasts on Shabbos inserts 'Aneinu' in the Tefilah. He therefore cites the Hagahos Minhagim, who ascribes the omission of 'Aneinu' to the Pasuk in Eichah (3:8) "Sosam Tefilosi" (implying that our prayers are not answered on Tishah be'Av) with which 'Aneinu' seems at odds.


Leining 'Vayechal'

We do not Lein 'Vayechal' at Shachris because it contains Hashem's thirteen qualities of mercy, which are not appropriate to recite before midday (whilst the Midas ha'Din is still predominant). We do however, read it at Minchah, which is a time of consolation (Tanya).

And it is for the same reason that we do not make a 'Mi she'Beirach' In the morning (even where it is customary to do so on other weekdays). Consequently, one calls up the same three people at Minchah who were called up at Shachris, in order to honour them with a 'Mi she'Beirach' (Ya'avetz). However, where the Minhag is not to make a 'Mi she'Beirach' during the week, this is not necessary.


Inserting 'Nacheim'

The reason that we do not insert 'Nacheim' in the Amidah until Minchah is because until then, it is as if our dead is lying before us (and it is inappropriate to comfort a person whose dead is lying before him, as we learned in Pirkei Avos). Minchah, on the other hand, is compared to after the grave has been filled in (when the Mitzvah of comforting the Aveil comes into effect [Hamanhig]).

Another reason for saying 'Nacheim' at Minchah is because, as legend has it, it is at Minchah on Tish'ah be'Av that Mashi'ach will be born (Z'chor le'Avraham).

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