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

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Vol. 14   No. 48

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Yerachmiel ben Yitzchok Dovid HaLevi
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Parshas Ha'azinu
(Shabbos Shuvah)

Like Father, Like Son
> (Adapted from the Ma'ayanah shel Torah)

There are people who themselves do not go in the way of the Torah, says the Sha'ar bas Rabim; yet they want their children to do so, and what's more, when they don't, they become frustrated.

The fact is, however, that these people make a bitter and basic, mistake. They forget that, in the same way as they demand that their children follow the right path, so too, does Hashem demand from them that they follow the right path. They seem to forget that G-d is their father in Heaven no less than they are their children's father on earth; So what makes the father think that, when their children see him disregarding the wishes and instructions of his Father, they will be the least inclined to obey theirs? Is it not a foregone conclusion that his plans for his children's success are doomed to failure?


And that is precisely what the Torah hints here, when it writes "Shiches lo, lo" (The fact that they themselves are corrupt, no! [that doesn't bother them]) "bonov mumam" (they are only concerned with their children's blemishes); "dor ikeish u'setaltol" (But this is warped thinking, because) "ha'la'Hashem tigmelu zos?" (Isn't that what you do to Hashem) "Hu Avicha va'yechoneneka" (Who is your Father, who established you)?

If you want to have good children who follow the right path, then you follow the right path; if you listen to the Voice of Hashem, then your children will listen to yours?


In a similar way, says the Ma'ayanah shel Torah, the Beis Yitzchak explains the Pasuk in Tehilim (112:1/2) "Praiseworthy is the man who fears Hashem, who greatly desires His commandments; he will be mighty in the land, his children, a generation of upright people, will be blessed". Praiseworthy, the Gemara in Avodah-Zarah 19 explains, is the man who does Teshuvah whilst he is still a man (before he becomes old), whilst he still has the strength and the good health to sin. This has two advantages, says the Beis Yitzchak. Firstly, it is a sign of Gevurah, as it enables him to put right his sin by overcoming his Yeitzer ha'Ra, (the Yeitzer ha'Ra remember, is bent upon making him repeat his sin, rendering Teshuvah all but unattainable, as Chazal have taught, when they said that once a person repeats a sin a second time, it appears to him as if it was permitted). Secondly, his change of heart will then take place in time for his children to take their cue from him in Torah and Yir'as Shamayim, prompting them to return to the path of Torah and Mitzvos, from which they have probably deviated.

Someone, on the other hand, who does Teshuvah only as he approaches old age, loses out on both fronts, he explains. This is because he no longer has the inclination nor the stamina to sin, neither does his Teshuvah demonstrate an act of Gevurah on his part (or weigh down the sin that he performed), nor will he be able to guide his children, who have long strayed from the path of Torah and Mitzvos, back to the right path.

That is why David ha'Melech writes "Praiseworthy is the man who fears Hashem " (whilst he is still a man), because a. "he will be mighty in the land" (when he withstands the efforts of the Yeitzer-ha'Ra to sin again) "his children, a generation of upright people, will be blessed" (because his early Teshuvah will not be too late to enable them to learn from him, and to return to the fold).


There's Nothing Like Example

The story is told of a father who approached a sage and asked him for a B'rachah that his son should study Torah. Back came the reply, 'If you want your son to study Torah, they you study Torah. The chances are that your son will take his cue from you and study Torah too.

If you rely solely on B'rochos, then you can be rest assured that when he grows up and begins to raise a family, he will take his cue from you. He will go to the Rabbis to ask for a B'rachah for his sons to study Torah, just like you did!'

* * *

Parshah Pearls

Better Not to Accept the Torah

"Is this how you repay Hashem, you base people who are not wise?" (32:6).

Unklus translates this as 'a people who accepted the Torah but who are not wise'.

The question arises as to how the Torah can possibly refer to Yisrael as base for having accepted the Torah?

The Avnei Azeil explains that the greatest Chochmah is Yir'as Hashem (which goes hand in hand with the fulfillment of Mitzvos); as David Hamelech said in Tehilim (111:10) "Behold wisdom is the fear of G-d", and Iyov in his Seifer (28:25) "Behold the fear of G-d is wisdom".

Consequently, a person who does not intend to observe the Torah that he learns, is better off not accepting it, as the Pasuk writes "And to the Rasha, He says 'Why do you relate My statutes, and bear My covenant upon your lips?' " (For by failing to observe the Torah that one learns, one is transformed from a Shogeg into a Meizid).

That is why the Torah here brands Yisrael here for accepting the Torah in the first place, and then choosing to remain unwise by failing to take its teachings to heart, and to subsequently implement them.

Interestingly, Targum Yonasan too, translates the Pasuk "This people who were foolish in accepting the Torah and not becoming wise". Yes, Kabalas ha'Torah without becoming wise and observing its Mitzvos was an act of stupidity on the part of K'lal Yisrael, because by doing so, they increased their punishment manifold.


Expel the Jews and Contract

"He set up the borders of the nations according to the B'nei Yisrael" (32:8).

G-d determines the borders of each nation according to the number of Jews that reside in it, says the Chafetz Chayim. The more Jews a country takes in, the larger its borders expand; whereas the more Jews it expels, the smaller they become.


Getting What You Want

"I will see what is their end" (32:20).

A woman once came before R. Pinchas Horowitz (the Hafla'ah) and complained that her husband was giving away all his money to the poor, and that they did not have sufficient funds on which to live.

She was still pouring out her heart, when a poor man entered and began complaining bitterly about his brother, who did not want to support him. The Ba'al Hafla'ah immediately invited both men to appear before him.

The husband explained that since he was getting on in years, and that since no man knows when his end will be, he might be forced to leave all his property to others. Perhaps, he argued, he was destined to die the very next day, leaving all his property to his heirs. That was why, he explained, he was distributing his money to Tzadakah now, whilst he was still able, in fulfillment of the Pasuk "charity shall go before him".

The poor man's brother on the other hand, argued that seeing as he did not know how long he would live, why, perhaps he was destined to live until hundred and twenty, he was obligated to secure his future, and to preserve what he owned, and not to squander it on other projects.

The Ba'al Hafla'ah issued his ruling, blessing each of the men that Hashem should protect him from what he was most worried about. He blessed the husband that he should survive tomorrow, and go on to live a long life; whereas the miser he blessed that Hashem should preserve him from the problems of long life.


You Pretend, I Pretend

"They Provoked Me with a non-god, they angered Me with their vanities; I will provoke them with a non-nation, I will anger them with a base nation" (32:21).

Chazal tell us that Yisrael were saved from the decree of Haman, despite the fact that they had prostrated themselves before the image of Nevuchadnetzar, for which they deserved to be punished, because what they did was only for show. They pretended to worship it, but in their hearts they did not believe in its omnipotence.

So G-d paid them back with the same kind. He sent them a punishment only for show. Once the show was over, He saved them and life went back to normal.

That is what the Pasuk says here: Yisrael aroused Hashem's anger with something that they themselves did not believe to be a god; They put on a show of foolishness, without really meaning it. So G-d sent against them a nation that He did not consider to be a nation, that would soon disintegrate ('Goy novol - a nation that will wither away').


G-d Does Only Good Things

"See now, that I am He (Ani Ani Hu), and there is no other god with Me; I kill and I bring to life, I wound and I heal" (32:39).

Whenever the Torah juxtaposes "Ani Hashem" next to a Mitzvah, it implies that Hashem is faithful to reward for performing it, and when it juxtaposes the same words next to a sin, it implies that He is faithful to punish for its contravention. The problem with this, says the Gan Raveh, citing R. Shlomoh Kluger, is that the Name 'Hashem' denotes mercy, so what is it doing with reference to punishment? Surely it would have been more appropriate to write 'Ani Elokim'?


The truth of the matter is, he answers, that everything Hashem does stems from Chesed, even the punishments. When Hashem punishes us, it is only for our own good, like a father who punishes his son because he loves him, because he wants him to go on the right path, and not because he wants to hurt him.

And that is what the Pasuk means when it says "Re'u atah ki Ani Ani Hu" ( See that the same 'Ani' that is written by reward, is also written by punishment); "ve'Ein Elokim imadi" (the Name Elokim is not mentioned even by punishment, only Hashem). "I kill and I bring back to life" (the punishment that I give is in order to revive the person) "I wound and I heal" (I strike having in mind to cure the wound), a clear indication that Hashem's Din is really Rachamim!


Its All Our Enemy's Fault

"If I sharpen My flashing sword, and My Hand grasps judgement, I shall turn the vengeance upon My enemies, and upon those who hate Me I shall bring retribution" (32:41).

Even if Yisrael's evil deeds have caused Me to prepare My sword, and to take them to task, I will be forced to turn it in the direction of their enemies (the enemies of Yisrael, say Chazal, are automatically enemies of Hashem, too), the Ohel Ya'akov explains. Why is that?

Because it is their constant oppression and succession of cruel decrees that weaken Yisrael's resolve, rendering them incapable of keeping Torah and Mitzvos properly.

That is why, he says, the Torah writes (not 'u'le'Son'ai Ashalem' [and I will repay those who hate Me',] but) "ve'li'mesan'ai ashalem" (and I will repay those who caused Me to hate [Yisrael]).

Yisrael's sins are the results of their enemies efforts; let their enemies pay for what those efforts achieved!


On the Merit of a Righteous Son

" that you will command your sons after you to observe and to fulfill all the words of this Torah ... but it is your life" (32:46/47).

R. Shlomoh Kluger cites Chazal, who say that when someone leaves behind a son who, like himself, goes on the right path, it is as if he had not died.

And that is what the Torah is hinting here.


From the Haftarah

"Praised, I will call out to Hashem" (Shmuel 2 22:4).

An astute person who comes before the king with a request does not present it directly, but rather in the form of praise. He flatters his majesty by referring to his wondrous ability to heal those who are sick and to save those who are downtrodden, and he knows that the king will respond favourably to his kind words.

That, says the Dinever Rebbe, is what David ha'Melech is saying here. He will sing Hashem's praises, and Hashem will respond by saving him from his enemies.

* * *


'And it was, when the end of Moshe the Navi arrived to leave this world, he said to himself 'I will not bring to testify against this people, witnesses who taste death in this world, rather I will bring witnesses who do not taste death in this world; But in the end, they will be revived in the World to Come. When Yeshayah the Navi prophesied to the congregation of Yisrael, he ascribed 'listening' to the Heaven and 'paying attention' to the earth, because he was close to the earth and distant from the Heaven; whereas when Moshe the Navi prophesied to the congregation of Yisrael, he ascribed 'listening' to the earth and 'paying attention' to the Heaven, because he was close to the Heaven and distant from the earth, for so the Pasuk writes 'Pay attention Heaven " (32:12).


"Woe to the Resha'im, who mention the Holy Name of Hashem with insults; for Moshe the Rebbe of Yisrael was unable to mention it before he had dedicated his mouth at the beginning of the Shirah with eighty-five letters, which made up twenty-one words. And only then did he say 'Because I will pray by the Name of Hashem, and you the people of Yisrael, ascribe honour and glory before our G-d' " (32:3).


"Moshe the Navi said 'When I ascended Har Sinai, I saw the Master of the World, Hashem, dividing the day into four parts; three hours He studies Torah, three hours He judges, three hours He arranges Shiduchim and decrees who will be elevated and who will be lowly, and three hours He sustains all creatures, for so it is written 'The Strong One, whose deeds are perfect ' (32:4).


"They perverted their good deeds, the beloved children, a blemish was found in them, the crooked generation who changed (the nature of) their deeds; so also the laws of nature were changed for them" (32:5).


"Is it possible that you are doing this to pay back (the Name of) Hashem, a nation that is foolish, who received the Torah but is not wise " (32:6).


"Remember the days of old Read the Books of the Torah and they will tell you, the books of the Prophets and they will say to you" (32:7).


"When the holy nation (Yisrael) fell to the lot of the Master of the World, Micha'el opened his mouth and said 'Because His people are the good portion of (the Name of) Hashem'; Gavriel opened his mouth and said 'the house of Ya'akov is the lot of His inheritance' " (32:9).


"The word of Hashem will settle them alone in their land, and He will not settle any (gentile) idolaters among them" (32:12).

* * *

(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 364: Viduy

It is a Mitzvah to confess before Hashem on all the sins that we transgress, whenever we feel sorry for having transgressed them. And this is the Viduy that one recites when doing Teshuvah 'Please Hashem, I sinned inadvertently, I sinned out of pleasure, I sinned rebelliously in this or that matter (and one verbalizes the sin by name)'. One goes on to request atonement from Hashem, and to speak about the sin at length, according to one's ability to do so. Chazal have said that even sins for which the Torah prescribes a Korban also require Viduy together with the Korban, as the Torah writes in Naso (5:6/7) "Speak to the B'nei Yisrael, a man or a woman who transgresses any of the sins of man to deal falsely with Hashem, that person shall be guilty. Then they shall confess the sin that they perpetrated on it" . "On it", say Chazal, on the sin-offering whilst it is still alive, and not after it has been Shechted. Furthermore, they said there, that the obligation to confess applies to a Tamei who defiles the Mikdash or who eats Kodshim (to which a similar Pasuk in Vayikra [5:5] refers). From where do we know that it extends to all the Mitzvos? In reply, the Medrash cites our Pasuk, which is written S'tam, and which we therefore treat as if it was not written in connection with any specific Mitzvah. And from where do we know that it incorporates Chayvei Miysos and Keriysos? And it answers by citing the Pasuk in Acharei-Mos (in connection with the Sa'ir la'Az'azel) "le'Chol Chatosam", to include all Mitzvos Lo Sa'aseh, whereas "ve'Chi Ya'asu" mentioned here comes to include all Mitzvos Asei, meaning that even someone who merely fails to perform a Mitzvas Asei is obligated to recite Viduy Furthermore, the Mechilta extrapolates from the expression "the sins of man", that sins between man and man, such as theft, robbery and Lashon ha'Ra, also necessitate Viduy; only that Viduy requires that one returns what one stole, failing which, one would have been better off not to confess in the first place. "To deal falsely with Hashem" comes to incorporate all those who have received the death-sentence in the Mitzvah off confession. And the Torah adds "and that person shall be guilty" to preclude the suggestion that the victim of false testimony too, should be obliged to confess to having perpetrated the crime for which they have received the death-sentence, even though they know that the witnesses are false and that they are in fact, innocent.

Seeing as this Mitzvah is written together with the Chiyuv to bring a Korban (as we find in Vayikra, 5:15), perhaps one may think that there is no independent obligation to confess. That is why the Mechilta learns from "B'nei Yisrael ve'hisvadu" that Viduy is required, irrespective of whether or not, one brings a Korban. One might still have thought however, that Viduy is confined to Eretz Yisrael, the location where the Kaparah of Korbanos takes place (even if the actual Korban is not required). The Torah therefore writes (in Bechukosai 25:40) "And they shall confess their sins and the sins of their fathers" (with reference to their fathers who sinned and were expelled from the land, to include other lands in the Din of Viduy. Daniel too, who lived in Bavel, said "To You Hashem, is righteousness, and to us is shamefacedness " (Daniel 9:7). It is quite clear then, that Viduy is an independent Mitzvah, which applies everywhere. The Sifri also comments on the word "And he shall confess", that 'this refers to a verbal confession'.


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Rosh Hashanah Supplement

The Four Rosh Hashanah's

The Mishnah in Rosh Hashanah (16a) lists four Rosh Hashanah's: On Pesach, the world is judged for produce, on Shavu'os, for fruit; on Rosh Hashanah, all individuals pass before Hashem like sheep , and on Succos, the world is judged for water. The Ran poses two questions on this Mishnah. Firstly, he asks, if the Mishnah learns that third of the above Rosh Hashanah's from the Pasuk in Eikev (11:12) " the Eyes of Hashem are on it continuously, from the beginning of the year (the word "me'reishis" comprises the same letters as 'mi'Tishri') to the end of the year". what are the Mishnah's sources for the remaining three?

Secondly, seeing as the entire world is judged on Rosh Hashanah, what is the significance of the four Rosh Hashanah's?


To answer the first question, he points to the B'raisa cited later on the Amud, which explains that we bring the Omer on Pesach, to stimulate Hashem's blessing on the produce. We bring the Sh'tei ha'Lechem on Shavu'os, for the fruit of the tree to be blessed. We pour water on the Mizbei'ach on Succos to stimulate good rains, and we blow Malchiyos on Rosh Hashanah, to signify our crowning of Hashem King on that day, Zichronos, so that He should remember us for good, and Shofros, symbolizing the medium via which we attain it.

This B'raysa, says the Ran, is the source for the four Hashanah's.

In answer to the second question, he explains that although the world supply of crops, fruit and water takes place on the four given dates, the portion that each person will receive is determined on Rosh Hashanah, though how that would work with regard to water is unclear, seeing as on the Rosh Hashanah that precedes Succos, there is nothing to determine vis--vis the individual, whereas by the following Rosh Hashanah, the season has already ended.

Moreover, in the Musaf Amidah, we refer to the fact that the hunger and the satiation of countries is decided on Rosh Hashanah, leaving the Ran's question unanswered.


The Gemara there cites a quadruple Machlokes as to the mechanics of Hashem's judgement on Rosh Hashanah and Yom-Kipur. R. Meir and R. Yehudah agree that the world is judged on Rosh Hashanah, only they argue over when their fate is sealed. R. Meir maintains that the judgement is sealed on Yom Kipur, whereas according to R. Yehudah each one is sealed on the date given in the Mishnah. Rebbi Yossi on the other hand, holds that Hashem judges the world on each and every day, and according to R. Nasan, every hour.

All of these however, do not conform with our Mishnah, (not even R. Yehudah, in whose opinion, all four judgements listed in our Mishnah take place on Rosh Hashanah) and the author of our Mishnah, the Gemara concludes, is Tana de'bei R. Yishmael, who reiterates in a Beraisa, what we learned in our Mishnah.

* * *

Why Daven at All?

The question the Gemara now asks is why we bother to Daven at all (for sick people and Talmidei-Chachamim, who are weak by nature) seeing as a person's health has been fixed and sealed, on any of the above dates that we discussed earlier (based on the opinions of R. Meir, R. Yehudah and Tana de'bei R' Yishmael).

And the Gemara initially answers that we Daven like R. Yossi, according to whom a new judgement is initiated each day. Tosfos queries this however, in that our daily Tefilos (incorporating 'Refa'einu' and 'Birchas ha'Shanim') are surely said according to the Chahamim too; and besides, the Gemara in Shabbos (12b) specifically cites R. Yehudah himself, who cites the prayer that one recites when visiting the a sick person?


Eventually, Tosfos confines our Sugya to prayers that one recites on behalf of individuals (without mentioning the community); whereas R.Yehudah and the Chachamim will agree that communal prayers (recited on behalf of the community at large) are always heard and answered, and this includes private prayers, in which one prays for an individual, but mentions the community.

Interestingly, Rashi in Nedarim (49b), commenting on the same Gemara as the one in Rosh Hashanah, in defining 'prayer', refers to the B'rachos in the Amidah, which are communal Tefilos. That being the case, Rashi will presumably agree with Tosfos' first answer, which draws a distinction between not becoming ill, which is not subject to Tefilah, and being cured of one's ailment, which is, seeing as when a sickness is destined to go away, is not predestined. I later found this in the Eitz Yosef.

The Ya'avetz however, queries Tosfos from a Gemara in Avodah-Zarah (55a) which distinctly states that every illness comes with a fixed date on which it is bound to depart.

And he replies that even though the date for the departure of the illness is set, this does not mean that it cannot depart earlier through prayer. What he appears to mean is that the decree to depart (which, the Gemara says, is made together with an oath), is merely the final date (i.e. by that date, they must go), but in no way precludes their leaving earlier, as a result of prayer - even though the Gemara talks about 'on which date the illness must leave', and not 'by which date '.


Alternatively, the Gemara explains, it is possible to establish the need to Daven, even according to the Chachamim of R. Yossi, according to R. Yitzchak, who maintains (on Daf 18a) that the Tefilos of an individual are effective, even after the final decree has been issued (because, as the commentaries explain, after praying with devotion, a person is no longer the same person as the one on whom the decree was issued). According to R. Yitzchak then, one can Daven for the well-being of an individual in whatever sphere it may be, with a good chance of one's prayer being answered.

* * *


(Cont. from Parshas Nitzavim-Vayeilech)

Turning the Shofar to the Right

One turns the Shofar towards the right, says the Magid Meisharim, based on the Pasuk in Zecharyah (3:1) "And the Satan stood on his right-hand side to prosecute".

It seems to me that it would be most appropriate to connect it to the Pasuk in Tehilim (109:31) "For He stands on the right-hand of the destitute, to save him from those who condemn his Soul".

The Shofar should also be held facing upwards, he says, due to the Pasuk in Tehilim "Oloh Elokim bi'Seru'ah " - equating the blowing of the Shofar with 'ascent'.

And the reason that the Ba'al Tokei'a stands, says R. Binyamin ha'Rofei, is based on the combination of facts that a. today is the Yom ha'Din and b. blowing the Shofar is the defense counsel of Yisrael, in its capacity to evoke their merits, and it is befitting for the defense counsel to stand in front of the Judge, like the litigant, who is obligated to stand in front of the Dayanim.


Tishri = Forgive

The word 'Tishri', says the Maggid Meisharim, actually means 'forgive', a good Si'man as to what we hope to achieve during these days.


From the Beginning of the Year
Till the End

In writing that Hashem's Eyes are on Eretz Yisrael from the beginning of the year till the end ("me'reishis ha'Shanah ve'ad acharis shanah"), the Torah spells the word "me'rieshis" without an 'Alef'. The Ba'al ha'Turim points out that the letters of 'me'reishis' without the 'Alef' are equivalent to those of 'mi'Tishri', a beautiful hint that the year begins on Rosh Hashanah.

The Rosh and the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos, make the same observation, only they connect it with the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (16b), which comments that a year which is poor (i.e. in which the people are lowly and humble) at the beginning, will become rich (successful) at the end. That, they say, is hinted in the missing 'Alef', since the "me'reishis" without the Alef has connotations of poor.

The Gemara's comment, says the Rosh, is based on the fact that when the people are humble, it is a great merit, and that is what will earn them a good year.


Fading Resolutions

Regarding the same Pasuk that we just quoted, why is it, one may well ask, that the first "ha'shanah" has a 'Hey', whereas the second "shanah" does not?

I heard an answer to this as follows. It is well-known that a 'Hey' often denotes importance ("ho'Olah", 'Olah rishonah'). On Rosh Hashanah, when the year begins, most of us make various resolutions, which we take most seriously, at least at the time that we make them. However, as time wears on, those resolutions seem to lose some of their shine, they become less and less important as the year progresses. Unfortunately, the 'Hey' that is present at the beginning of the year has disappeared by the time the end of the year arrives.

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