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

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Vol. 13   No. 50

This issue is sponsored anonymously
with best wishes to all of K'lal Yisrael for a
Sh'nas B'rachah, Hatzlachah ve'Shalom.
Ve'Nizkeh kulonu li'ge'ulah sheleimah Omein.

Parshas Ha'azinu
(Shabbos Shuvah)

(Part 2)
Teshuvah and the Ge'ulah

After pointing out that the words "es le'vovcho ve'es" possess the same numerical value as 'Zeh li'yemos ha'Mashi'ach' (this applies to the days of Mashi'ach), the Ba'al ha'Turim goes on to comment on the juxtaposition of the Pesukim "And you will return ... " and "And G-d will leave you over ... " (30:8/9). If you perform a complete Teshuvah, he explains (based on Pasuk 10 - " ... because you will return to Hashem your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul") you will be redeemed immediately.

The Seforno, who follows the same line of thought, interprets the first Pasuk "ve'Atoh Toshuv ... " to mean that we will reside in the land in peace, never to be exiled from it again. Whereas the second Pasuk he interprets as a prophecy that G-d will grant us success with regard to children and material wellbeing the likes of which we have never before experienced. Indeed, the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos bases the sequence of these Pesukim on the Gemara in Yuma (86b), where R. Yonasan praises Teshuvah inasmuch as it brings ('it brings closer' according to the alternative text) the redemption, a process that we are surely witnessing today.

Whilst the K'li Yakar, commenting on the word "And you will return ... " (ve'Atoh toshuv), explains that perhaps for the first time in our history, we will no longer need to come on to Z'chus Avos (the merits of our forefathers). It will be we who initiate the Teshuvah process that leads to Mashi'ach, in which case it will be the fruits of our own labour that we will be enjoying.


According to the Bach, the two versions of the Gemara in Yuma that we cited earlier, are in fact, the opinions of R. Yossi Hagelili and R. Yonasan respectively. To explain this dispute, the commentaries connect it with a major dispute in Sanhedrin (97b). According to R. Eliezer there, the redemption is dependent entirely upon Teshuvah (and this is also the opinion of Rav there). To put it bluntly, if Yisrael do Teshuvah, Mashi'ach will come; if they don't, he won't. Whereas R. Yehoshua (with whose opinion Shmuel concurs) maintains that Mashi'ach will come when his time falls due, whether Yisrael have done Teshuvah or not.

The commentaries now equate R. Yonasan with the opinion of R. Yehoshua. Yes, they explain, Mashi'ach will come when the time falls due, with or without Teshuvah. Only, as the Gemara points out, in the event that Yisrael have not done Teshuvah of their own accord, G-d will send a king who is as wicked as Haman, and force them to do so, so as to be worthy of Mashi'ach. And it is in this vein that R. Yonasan issues his statement. To be sure, Mashi'ach will have to come by a certain time, but 'How great is Teshuvah that hastens his arrival!' It seems to me that this explanation also concurs with the same Gemara in Sanhedrin (98a), which, commenting on the Pasuk "be'Itah achishenah", explains that if Yisrael are deserving (i.e. they have done Teshuvah) then he will come before the due date; whereas if they are not, he will come only when he is due. Whilst R. Yossi ha'Gelili ('How great is Teshuvah that it brings the Mashi'ach!') follows the opinion of R. Eliezer, who, as we explained, considers Teshuvah as a prerequisite of the Ge'ulah. Without it, Mashi'ach will simply not come.


Commenting on the Pasuk "And Hashem will return your captivity (30:3 [which we discussed in Part 1]), the Chochmas Chayim further quotes the Pasuk in Yeshayah (56:1) " ... for My salvation is about to arrive and My righteousness to be revealed". And it cites R. Yosef Chayim Sonenfeld, who would end his letters with the words 'ha'mechakeh li'yeshu'ah kerovah' (one who awaits the speedy arrival of the salvation).

There are two words that denote 'someone who awaits'; one is 'mechakeh', the other, 'metzapeh'. Indeed, the Gemara in Shabbos (31a) which lists six questions that one is asked when, after a hundred and twenty years, one stands before the Heavenly Court, one of which is 'Tzipiso li'Yeshu'ah?' (Did you await the Mashi'ach?).

R. Yosef Chayim however, preferred to use the former, because of the difference in meaning of the two words. 'Metzapeh', he explained, refers to someone who casually waits for something to happen, whenever it will, perhaps only after a long time has elapsed; whereas 'mechakeh' has connotations of waiting in anticipation for something that one expects to happen at any moment. And it was to the second group of 'waiters' that R. Yosef Chayim claimed he belonged.

The question arises however, why the Gemara in Shabbos then cites the question as 'Tzipisa li'Yeshu'ah', and not 'Chikisa li'Yeshu'ah'?

The answer is that not everyone is on the level of R. Yosef Chayim Sonnenfeld, nor is he expected to be. The average person will be taken to task for not awaiting the coming of Mashi'ach at all. To be sure, he ought to eagerly anticipate his arrival every day, but for failing to do so he will not be taken to task (at least not so early in the proceedings).


The Return of the Two Exiles

Rabeinu Bachye ascribes some of the repetitive phrases in the Parshah (which we largely discussed in Part 1), to the dual redemption of the ten tribes on the one hand and of Yehudah and Binyamin, on the other.

The previous chapter (29), which describes the destruction of Eretz Yisrael and the exile of its inhabitants to a distant land, all because they worshipped idols, refers to the era of the first Beis-Hamikdash (when idolatry was rampant). This chapter (chapter 30) begins with the Exile of the Ten Tribes, as is borne out by the opening Pasuk (which speaks about the 'Nidachim' (those who have been pushed away), a term which generally refers to the Ten Tribes, whom the King of Assyria exiled to Lachlach, Chavor, the River Gozen and the cities of Modai). The Torah mentions them first, because they are the majority (ten tribes). And they are the ones the Torah is referring to in the first half of Pasuk 3, though the second half of the Pasuk switches to Yehudah and Binyamin, who are scattered over the face of the globe and who are subjugated by Eisav and Yishmael. And these two redemptions the Torah hints at in the two phrases that comprise this Pasuk, each one beginning with the word "ve'Shov". The Navi Yeshayah too, hints at these two redemptions when he writes (56:8) "I shall gather, over and above those who have already been gathered". And it appears from the sequence of the Pesukim that the major Teshuvah depends on the Ten Tribes, a concept that is enhanced by the fact that the Pesukim from Pasuk 4 and onwards ("Im yih'yeh nidachacho bi'k'tzei ha'Shamayim ... ") refer once again to the Ten tribes.

* * *

Parshah Pearls

Torah and Rain

"My Torah will drop like rain" (32:2).

When rain falls, no-one can see what it does to the plants, and it is only much later that this becomes visible retroactively.

And so it is with Torah, says R. Bunim from P'shischa. Torah deeply influences the person who learns it. Yet, like rain, this is not immediately discernable. It is only with the passing of time that its influence becomes evident.


R. Yisrael Salanter explains that 'the mouth is as distant from the heart' as the heaven is from the earth. This however, creates a concern that the Torah that one learns will have dissipated from the time that one learns it until the time it reaches one's heart.

Therefore, the Torah compares Torah to rain. Just as we see that the rain reaches the earth and makes everything grow, so too, is the Torah that one learns guaranteed to reach one's heart, never mind the vast distance between them. Exactly as the Navi writes in Yeshayah (55:10) "Because just as the rain and the snow descend from the Heaven, and it will not return there before it has satiated the earth and caused it to give birth and to make things grow; so too will My words that go out of My mouth not return to Me empty-handed before they have done what I want them to do, and have succeeded in their mission."


Yet others explain that just as rain only nurtures what has been planted in ground that has been ploughed, so too, Torah will only influence someone who possesses a heart that contains something positive, someone who works to improve oneself. On an empty person, not only will it not influence him for the better, it will actually cause him to deteriorate, as Chazal have said 'If one merits it, Torah becomes a balm of life; if not, it becomes a poison'.


Two Kinds of Rebuke

" ... and My words like dew" (Ibid.)

Like dew, says Rashi, which makes everybody happy, whereas not everybody likes the rain.

Rebuke which is said forcefully is referred to as rain (Matar', which is the acronym of "Masa'achem, Torchachem, Rivchem" [your burdens, your troubles and your quarrels"]), whereas a gentle rebuke is referred to as dew ('Tal', the acronym of 'Tov La'kol').

When rebuking a public, that is when a powerful rebuke is necessary; an individual requires a more gentle approach.

Seen in this light, we can better understand why Rashi comments on the Pasuk "like storm-winds on the expanse of vegetation and like rain-drops on the (blades of) grass". The former, representing the community, requires storm winds, whereas the latter, which represents the individual, needs soft rain drops.


It Depends When the Benefit Comes

"When I call the Name of Hashem, ascribe greatness to our G-d" (32:3).

We learn from here, says the Gemara in B'rachos (21a) the obligation to recite a B'rachah before learning Torah. As for the B'rachah after learning Torah, we learn that from the B'rachah after eating (which in turn, we learn from the Pasuk in Eikev "and you shall eat and be satisfied and bless Hashem ... ").

On the other hand, says the Gemara, we learn the B'rachah before eating from the B'rachah before learning Torah.

Why, asks the Chasam Sofer, does the Torah specifically mention the B'rachah before learning Torah and the B'rachah after eating (leaving the B'rachah after learning and the B'rachah before eating to a 'Kal va'Chomer')? What is the 'Kal va'Chomer', he asks?

And he explains that, on the one hand, a person only benefits positively from the food that he eats before he has eaten (when he is hungry). Once he has eaten, his appetite dissipates.

Whilst on the other, it is only after a person has learned and understood what he learned that he truly appreciates the experience of learning.

Now it makes good sense, he concludes. The Torah obliges a B'rachah before one learns ('Kal va'Chomer' afterwards) but after one has eaten (and 'Kal va'Chomer' before).


Yisrael Compared to a Rope

"Ya'akov is the lot/rope of His inheritance" (32:9).

Why are Yisrael compared to a rope?

A rope, R. Moshe mi'Kobrin explains, comprises many strands. Sometimes it contains a few weak strands. Not only are they not noticeable, he points out, but they even make the rope stronger.

And so it is with regard to the many thousands of strands that make up K'lal Yisrael. As long as they unite to form one entity, not only are the few weak members among them not discernable, but they also add an extra dimension to the community.

Presumably, that explains why Chazal stress the importance of incorporating the sinners in the prayers of the community.


Keeping an Eye on Them

"And He said 'I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end will be' " (32:20).

G-d may well hide His face from K'lal Yisrael , leaving them at the mercy of the forces of nature. But that is only in the short term. In the long term, He keeps an eye on them, to make sure that they survive, in keeping with the promise that He made in calling us an eternal nation (Shem mi'Sh'muel).


G-d's Arrows

"I will finish off My arrows against them (Yisrael)" (32:23).

'My arrows will come to an end', says Hashem, 'but they will still be there' (Rashi).

Hashem's arrows, the Toras Moshe explains, are the nations of the world, through whom He punishes Yisrael. Just as the Navi writes in Yeshayah (10:5) "Woe to Assyria, the staff of My anger, My fury is a staff in their hands".

What the Pasuk is therefore saying, is that the nations who start up with them will terminate, but Yisrael will remain intact, despite the incessant persecutions.

* * *

(Part 3)

Atoning Without Teshuvah

Last week, we cited the opinion of Rebbi in Yuma (85b), who maintains that (with the exception of three sins) Yom Kipur atones even without Teshuvah.

This is all the more remarkable, in that, as the Gemara explains in Shevu'os (13a, this applies even to a person who actually rebels against G-d and sins on Yom Kipur, even as Yom Kipur atones for him. In fact, the Gemara there has difficulty in establishing the penalty of Kareis which the Torah prescribes for someone who transgresses Yom Kipur. The Chachamim, on the other hand, maintain that Teshuvah is crucial, and that without it, there can be no forgiveness.


Why Did Moshe Hurry?

The Torah records that when Moshe heard the 13 Midos, he hurried and knelt, prior to prostrating himself before the Shechinah that had just passed in front of him.

R. Chanina ben Gamliel, with whom the Gemara in Sanhedrin (111a) concurs, explains that Moshe's reaction was the result of his becoming excited when he heard the Midah of Erech Apayim (the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos adds Rachum ve'Chanun). This was exactly what he needed to hear, as it served as a shield to save Yisrael from the immediate elimination with which Hashem had threatened them. So he hurried to bow down in thanks to Hashem.

The Chachamim there maintain that Moshe?s reaction was based on the Midah of Emes, and he hurried to prostrate himself before Hashem in prayer. In that case, his reaction was based on fear, and not on thanks (refer to the first explanation of ve'Emes', in part 1 [Torah Temimah]).


Hashem's Covenant with the 13 Midos

"Behold, the Pasuk continues, I am making a covenant in front of all your people (Yisrael) I will do wonders ... ". The Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (17b) extrapolates from this Pasuk that Hashem did indeed enter into such a covenant, whereby, whenever Yisrael evoke these 13 Midos in their prayers, they will never be turned back empty-handed.

Rabeinu Bachye has the following to say about the 13 Midos: Nowadays, when we are living in Galus, and we do not have a Kohen Gadol to atone for our sins, a Mizbei'ach on which to bring Korbanos or a Beis-Hamikdash in which to Daven, all we are left with is our Tefilos and the 13 Midos, and it is through the latter that we know how to arrange our Tefilos and how to plead with Hashem.



It is surely no coincidence that the Midos of Hashem number thirteen, which is also the numerical value of 'Echad' and 'Ahavah'.

If Hashem is unique, then it is expressed, more than in any other way, by these 13 Midos, which in turn, symbolize the love He bears K'lal Yisrael (as it is to them exclusively, that they were said, as is clearly indicated by the Pasuk which we cited in the previous piece).

And it is because Hashem wants us to be unique that He has commanded us to go in His ways, and to practice these 13 Midos with our fellow Jews and with others.

Hence the Sh'loh comments that when Chazal say 'Do before Me like this order and you will be saved', they deliberately said 'Do before Me '' rather than 'Say before Me ', for there is nothing as effective at bring salvation as acquiring these amazing Midos and putting them into practice.

Indeed, I heard from ha'Rav ha'Gaon R. Baruch Horvitz Sh'lita (Rosh Yeshivas D'var Yerushalayim) that virtually the same dual concept of 13 can be applied to the latter; in that one is obligated to love every single Jew and one must also unite with all our fellow-Jews.

Hence the Sh'loh comments that when Chazal say "Do before Me like this order and you will be saved, they deliberately said '*Do* before Me ' rather than '*Say* before Me ', for there is nothing as effective at bring salvation as acquiring these amazing Midos and putting them into practice.

* * *

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Yom Kipur Supplement

Yom Kipur Thoughts
(Adapted from the Ta'amei ha'Minhagim)

Shabbos Shabboson

When the Rebbi from Riminov was asked what was so special about the title 'Shabbos Shabboson' that the Torah confers upon Yom Kipur, considering that Shabbos too, shares the same title, he replied that the questioner, it would seem, did not fulfill the Mitzvah of 'Ma'avir Sedra' properly. If he had, he would have noticed that whereas the Torah refers to Shabbos as "Shabbos Shabboson la'Hashem", it calls Yom Kipur "Shabbos Shabboson Lochem". On Yom Kipur, it appears, we draw the Kedushah down to earth, as opposed to Shabbos, when it remains in Heaven.

It seems to me, that alternatively, we can explain that whereas the Kedushah of Shabbos descends from Heaven down to us, the Kedushah of Yom Kipur (like that of other Yamim Tovim) ascends from us to Heaven. This explanation is closely linked to the following one.


The Ta'amei ha'Minhagim answers the question with the G'ro, who explains that the opening Pasuk in the Parshah of Mo'adim in Emor "These are the Mo'adim of Hashem which you shall announce ... " refers to the six days of Yom-Tov that occur annually (Pesach - 2, Shavu'os - 1, Rosh Hashanah - 1, Succos - 2), whilst the continuation of the Pasuk " ... and on the seventh day is Shabbos for Hashem your G-d" refers (not to Shabbos, but) to Yom Kipur.

With this, he explains, we can say that whereas Shabbos is Shabbos Shabboson of the weekdays, Yom Kipur is the Shabbos Shabboson of the Yamim-Tovim.


Viduy Before (and After) the Se'udah

Everybody knows that we say Viduy at Minchah on Erev Yom Kipur, before the Se'udah, just in case the Satan, frantic that he may be done out of a job, tries to deprive us of the opportunity to do Teshuvah, by causing us to choke during the Se'udah. What is not so well known is the reason given by Rashi (and which the Mishnah B'rurah also cites) - that we do so in case we become drunk during the Se'udah, and end up being in an unfit state to say Viduy during 'Kol Nidrei'.

The Mishnah B'rurah also cites the Sh'loh, who advises reciting 'Ashamnu' again, before 'Kol Nidrei', just in case we did something we should not have, in the interim.

And he adds that everyone ought to recite Tefilah Zakah before 'Kol Nidrei', too.


Isartem, Eravtem, Hadliku es ha'Ner

R. Shalom mi'Belz explained this extract from 'Bameh Madlikin', in the context of this time of year, like this.

The Aseres Yemei Teshuvah were given to us specially for the purpose of doing Teshuvah. So, as Yom Kipur approaches, everyone should ask himself 'Isartem' - Did you do Teshuvah during the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah?

If for some reason, the answer is 'No', then he should take himself in hand and do Teshuvah on Erev Yom Kipur ('Eravtem'). In the event that one failed to do even that ...

... then at least one should do Teshuvah at the eleventh hour - whilst lighting the Yom Kipur candles ('Hadliku es ha'ner'!). Note, that this is no longer a question, but a command!


Doing Teshuvah Before it's Too Late

The B'nei Yisaschar cites the ... Arizal, who gives another version of the same Mishnah, which begins with 'Three things a person needs to say Erev Shabbos just before nightfall'. 'Erev Shabbos' refers to this world, he explains. This world is compared to Erev Shabbos (for so Chazal have said 'Someone who takes the trouble to prepare on Erev Shabbos [i.e. in this world] will eat on Shabbos [in the World to Come']), and 'nightfall', to old age. That being the case ...

'Isartem' means - 'You have tried your hand at accumulating wealth' (from the word 'Ashir').

'Eiravtem' - You have indulged in all the pleasures of life.

'Hadliku es ha'Ner' - Then it's high time to change your tactics and kindle your Soul, which is called 'the lamp of Hashem!'


Thirty-Nine Lashes

Some have the custom to receive thirty-nine lashes on Erev Yom Kipur, in the form of symbolical Malkos. This is to arouse them to repent on any Chayvei La'avin (which are subject to Malkos) that they transgressed. The person receiving the lashes faces the north, the Taz explains, because most of the sins that one tends to commit are centered around money, and the Pasuk says in Iyov (37:22) "Gold will come from the north".

The thirty-nine lashes are divided into three parts, one third is given in front, and two thirds, from behind. The reason for this, says the Ta'amei ha'Minhagim, is based in the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos 'Know where you came from (a putrid drop), where you are going to (a location which is teeming with worms), and before Whom you will have to give Din ve'Cheshbon (before the King, the King of Kings ... ), and you will not sin.

In order to sin therefore, one needs to forget these three things. That is why he receives one lot of Malkos in front of him (to remind him of the past - where he came from), and two lots behind him (to remind him of the future - where he is going and before whom he will have to give Din ve'Cheshbon).

Perhaps we may add that the twenty-six lashes that he receives a the back and the thirteen in front, are to remind him that in spite of his having sinned, Hashem (whose numerical value = 26) still loves him ('Ahavah' = 13).

* * *

(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)

Please bear in mind that the rulings in this article reflect the opinion of the Seifer ha'Chinuch and are not necessarily Halachah.

Mitzvah 315:
Not to Do Work on Yom Kipur

It is forbidden to do any work on the tenth of Tishri, Yom Kipur, as the Torah writes in Emor (23:24/25) "But on the tenth of this seventh month ... you shall not perform any work on this very day, for it is a day of atonement, to atone for you". The word (for - "ki" (which has no less than four connotations) is actually a reason (because) for the prohibition, as the author will explain in the parallel Mitzvas Asei (Mitzvah 317), and he will also elaborate with regard to the other issues connected with this Mitzvah.


Mitzvah 316:
Not to Eat and Drink on Yom Kipur

Eating and drinking on Yom Kipur is forbidden, as the Torah writes in Emor (23:29) "For any person who does not afflict himself on this very day is Chayav Kareis". The author discussed this entire Mitzvah above in Mitzvah 313 (the obligation to fast on Yom Kipur), and one can find the details there.


Mitzvah 317:
Desisting from Working on Yom Kipur

It is a Mitzvah to desist from work on Yom Kipur, as the Torah writes in Emor (23:32) "It is Shabbos Shabboson for you".

The author has already explained the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (2a) that the word "Shabbason" denotes a Mitzvas Asei.

Consequently, it is as if the Torah had written "Desist from working on this day".

A reason for this Mitzvah according to the simple P'shat is ... in order not to occupy oneself with other things, leaving one's mind free to concentrate on seeking pardon and forgiveness from the Master of the world, on the day which He designated for this very purpose, ever since He created the world, like the author wrote in Parshas Acharei-Mos in the Mitzvah of Avodas Yom ha'Kipurim.

Some of the Dinim of the Mitzvah ... Chazal have taught that whatever one is forbidden to do on Shabbos (even though it is not a real Melachah), one is forbidden to do on Yom Kipur. Generally speaking, there is no difference between Shabbos and Yom Kipur other than that someone who transgresses Shabbos be'Meizid is subject to Sekilah (stoning), whereas for transgressing Yom Kipur one receives only Kareis (incorporating Malkos, should there be witnesses). The Chachamim however permitted cutting up vegetables on Yom Kipur from Minchah-time and onwards, so as to be ready to eat immediately after the termination of the fast, even though this is prohibited on Shabbos (mi'de'Rabbanan). It is customary however, to treat Yom Kipur like Shabbos in this regard too ... and its other details, are discussed in Maseches Yuma.

This Mitzvah applies everywhere and at all times, to both men and women. Someone who contravenes it and performs Melachah has negated it, quite apart from having negated the La'av, as we wrote in Mitzvah 315.

* * *

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