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

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Vol. 6 No. 48

Parshas Ha'azinu

Incorporating Yom Kipur

The Produce of the Lips
(Based on R. Bachye's introduction to the parshah)

"The mouth of a tzadik speaks wisdom, and the tongue that is the opposite will be cut off" (Mishlei 10:31). Shlomoh is teaching us here that a tzadik and a rosho are two opposites: the speech of a tzadik is the fruit of wisdom, whereas that of a rosho is its exact antithesis.


The tzadik is compared to a tree, as the posuk writes "And he will be like a tree that is planted by pools of water, that will give its fruit in its time, and its leaves will not wither" (Tehilim 1:3). The tree gives leaves and fruit, and this has been its nature since it was created on the third day. The leaves serve the purpose of protecting the fruit from the heat of the sun with their shade, yet no-one can deny that the main purpose of the tree is the fruit.

And so it is with the tzadik: he too, produces 'leaves' in the form of mundane speech, concerning worldly matters, with his mussar and his everyday speech. These serve an important purpose in the same way as the leaves that protect with their shade. And this explains why Chazal say in Avodoh-Zoroh (19b) "And its leaves will not wither" - meaning that even the mundane speech of Torah scholars is something from which one can learn. That is why Shlomoh wrote here "The mouth of a tzadik speaks wisdom". The word "yonuv" (speaks) derives from 'tenuvah' (produce), like we find in Yeshayah (27:6). And Yeshayah also wrote "He creates the speech (Niv) of the lips", because speech is the produce of the lips. The Novi is intimating here that the tzadik becomes so accustomed to speaking wisely, that wisdom comes naturally to him as fruit to a tree.


And the tongue that is the opposite will be cut off". He refers to the rosho as 'the opposite tongue' because, as we explained earlier, he is the antithesis of the tzadik whose mouth constantly speaks words of wisdom. In such a shameful light does Shlomoh view this negative characteristic of the rosho that he curses it, and adds that "it will be cut off", for that is the way of the Torah - to attach a blessing at the mention of tzadikim and a curse at the mention of resho'im, as the posuk in Mishlei writes "The mention of a tzadik is for a brochoh, whereas the name of the resho'im will rot".


It is well-known that humility is in the same category as wisdom. It follows therefore, that the rosho, whom the posuk refers to as the 'opposite tongue', contains the quality of pride. Consequently, if wisdom is the fruit of the tzadik, then the fruit of the rosho is pride. That is why Shlomoh wrote elsewhere in Mishlei "The staff (branch) of pride is in the mouth of the fool, but the lips of the wise men will guard them". The root of pride lies in the fool's heart, and the branch, in his mouth. There is no branch without fruit, and the fruit of the rosho's mouth is conceit and contempt, like we find in Tehilim (123:4).

Shlomoh is teaching us here that the rosho's lips become so accustomed to bursting with pride, and his heart with conceit, that they become second nature - as we explained earlier with regard to the tzadik. Because seeing as the branch of conceit lies in his mouth, it is impossible for him to avoid producing fruit; whereas the lips of the wise men guard them from that.


What emerges from all this is the totally contrasting characteristics of the tzadik and the rosho, based on the fact that, whereas the tzadik is drawn after matters that concern the soul, which is eternal, the rosho is drawn after matters that concern the body, which is finite; for the body, as we know, stems from the earth, and the soul, from the Heaven. As long as a person resides in this world, he has connections both in heaven and on earth; in heaven, on account of his soul, and on earth, on account of his body. That is why, when Moshe came to warn Yisroel about the fulfillment of Torah and mitzvos, he called as witnesses heaven and earth, which are close to man, like a man warns his friend and calls witnesses in the presence of his relatives. That is why the Torah writes "Pay attention, heaven and I will speak, and the earth will hear the words of my mouth".


Parshah Pearls


Adapted from the Chofetz Chaim

The Written Torah

"Pay attention, heaven, and I will speak, and let the earth hear the words of My mouth. My Torah will drop like rain, My words will flow like dew" (32:1-2). The written Torah is compared to the heaven, and the oral Torah, to the earth. The former is also compared to rain, the latter, to dew.


The Chofetz Chayim explains that the written Torah is compared to rain, because it is limited and can be counted like the raindrops. We know how many words there are in the Torah, and how many pesukim, how many positive mitzvos and how many negative ones. The oral Torah, on the other hand, is compared to dew which is spread out over the surface of the land and cannot be counted. So too, is the oral Torah limitless, 'longer than the earth and wider than the sea'.


That being the case, says the Chofetz Chayim, we might think that there are far more people who are fully conversant with the writen Torah than with the oral one. Yet the opposite is true. There are many fine talmidei-chochomim who are fluent in both the Talmud Bavli and the Yerushalmi. But when it comes to the written Torah, there is nobody who can translate a simple posuk properly, On many occasions, even the Gemoro admits that it does not know how to interpret a seemingly simple posuk.

This is what the Tana de'Bei Eliyohu means when it says that in this world it is only the light of the oral Torah that has been revealed to us; the light of the written Torah has not yet been revealed. So we continue to grope around in the written Torah like a blind man gropes around in the darkness. The light of the written Torah will be revealed to us when Eliyohu comes to inform us of Moshiach's imminent arrival.


He Does What is Best For Us

"The Rock whose work is perfect ... He is righteous and upright" (32:4).

Sometimes one sees a tzadik looking for a piece of bread to still his hunger, and clothes to cover himself, says the Chofetz Chayim, and one wonders whether it is fair that a tzadik needs to suffer so. Is Hashem short of money, one asks oneself? Why does He not provide him with the few pennies that he needs so that he should not need to stretch out his hand for help?


This can be compared to a wealthy man who had an only son who was very ill. The doctors tried everything but they could not find a cure for his illness - until eventually a great professor was found who was able to cure him. He left strict orders with the boy's father however, that under no circumstances was he to eat red meat, since red meat could prove fatal.

Not long afterwards, the father had to travel out of town on business. Before leaving, he reminded his wife to keep an eye on their son, to take great care to adhere strictly to the doctor's instructions. This she was careful to do, but sitting at table one day, the strong smell of roast meat proved too muh of a temptation for the youngster and, before his mother could stop him, he grabbed a piece, stuffed it in his mouth and ran outside. Needless to say, the boy had a relapse, and when his father returned from his trip, he found him hovering between life and death. Immediately, he called the professor and pleaded with him to come at once and to do whatever he could to save the boy's life. The professor hastened to the boy's bedside and it was only with great difficulty that he succeeded in saving the boy from the brink of death.


Some time later, the father organised a large banquet, to which he invited all the members of his family from far and wide. Before the banquet began, he ordered his son to leave the banqueting hall, and locked him in his room, much to the disgust of the guests, who could not imagine how a father could be so cruel to his son. Indeed, they could not know ...


We are all Hashem's children, and Hashem loves us certainly no less than a father loves his children. If sometimes, He finds it necessary to drive the tzadik out of the banqueting hall, the tzadik may not understand why. we may not understand why, but one thing is for sure - it is the best thing for the tzadik and in his best interest. Only, we do not understand ... We cannot possibly understand.


It Could Be Better

The Chofetz Chayim once asked someone about his personal situation, to which he replied 'A little better would do no harm!'

'How do you know that a little better would do no harm?' the Chofetz Chayim retorted. 'G-d is merciful and gracious. He wants to give more and He can give more! So if He doesn't give more, then the way it is, is certainly the best it could be!'


(cont. from last year)

(Adapted from the Kitzur Shulchan Oruch - Si'man 133)

M.B. = Mishnah B'rurah M.H. = Misgeres Ha'Shulchan

22. To Smell Spices

It is advisable to smell spices with a b'rochoh, a few times during the day, in order to complete 100 b'rochos (that one is required to recite each day). However, as long as one has not taken one's mind off the spices, it is forbidden to recite a new b'rochoh, since that would constitute a b'rochoh la'vatoloh. One must therefore leave a sufficiently long break to allow for a fresh b'rochoh. Alternatively, it is a good idea to smell each time different spices (which he did not intend to cover with his previous b'rochoh) even if they are of the same kind, and all the better if he has three different kinds (i.e. "atzei besomim - besomim of wood; "isvei besomim" - besomim of herbs; and "minei besomim" - different mixtures of besomim).

Someone who listens to all the b'rochos of the Shatz with the intention of being yotze, as well as to the b'rochos of all those who are called up to the Torah and for Maftir, will only be missing three b'rochos, which he can supplement with these three. (In fact, the Mogein Avrohom writes that one is only missing three b'rochos without the b'rochos of Chazoras Ha'shatz. Consequently, if he listens carefully to the Chazoras Ha'shatz, he will not fall short of his 100 b'rochos at all - M.B. The Misgeres Ha'shulchan also quotes the Mogein Avrohom who says that if one wants to be yotze with the b'rochos of the Shatz, he must answer "Omein" to them - M.B. (though it is not clear why he cannot be yotze [even without answering 'Omein'] through "Shomei'a ke'oneh").

23. Hazkoras Neshomos (Yizkor)

One makes "Hazkoras Neshomos" on Yom Kipur, because mentioning the dead breaks and humiliates a man's heart, and furthermore, because the deceased also require atonement, as the Sifri writes: 'Atone for your people Yisroel' - this refers to the living; 'whom You redeemed' - these are the deceased. This teaches us that also the deceased require atonement. And one also promises to give tzedokoh on their behalf. (See above Si'man 67:3, that the gabbai should say 'bli neder' when reciting the 'Mi she'berach'.). Support for this idea is found at the end of Parshas Tetzaveh, where the Torah writes 'once a year he shall atone' and follows this with the words 'and each man shall give a ransom of his Soul to Hashem' (i.e. tzedokoh). Tzedokoh is effective on behalf of the dead, because Hashem examines the hearts (and knows) that had the dead man been alive, he would have given tzedokoh himself (and if he was a poor man in his lifetime, then one can assume that if he were alive, he would have had pure thoughts and would have given had he been able to. The living can also daven to Hashem to ease the judgement of the deceased, like Dovid, who davened to Hashem for (his son) Avsholom (Sotoh 10b). Moreover, the deceaded Tzadikim defend their (living) offspring. (Therefore, one gives tzedokoh in their honour - M.H.)

24. Hazkoras Neshomos (Cont.)

Hazkoras Neshomos is also said on the last day of Pesach, on the 2nd day of Shevu'os and on Sh'mini Atzeres (in Eretz Yisroel, on the 7th day of Pesach, on Shevu'os and on Sh'mini Atzeres) because on them one leins "Kol ha'bechor" where it is written: "Each man (should give) according to his means" (which is why we donate to tzedokoh on Yom-tov, although this reason does not apply on Sh'mini Atzeres in Eretz Yisroel). And once we are already donating to tzedokoh, we have the minhag to give it on behalf of one's deceased relatives, so that G-d should remember them for the good, and at the same time He will remember us together with them, on their merits. It is customary for all those who have parents to leave shul during "Hazkoras Neshomos" and so do those who are still in the first year of aveilus of a parent.


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