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

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Vol. 17   No. 48

This issue is sponsored
by the Glassman, Schwartz and Chernick Families
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Zahavah bas Chayim Yosef Luria z"l

Parshas Ha'azinu

Ovinu Malkeinu
(Adapted from the Sidur Iyun Tefilah)

The Gemara in Ta'anis (25b) relates that, once when there was no rain, they decreed a public fast. All their fervent prayers produced no results however, until Rebbi Akiva went to the Amud and began to Daven. The moment Rebbi Akiva cried out 'Ovinu Malkeinu, Chotonu Lefonecho! Ovinu Malkeinu, Ein Lonu Melech Elo Otoh!', the Heavens opened and the rain came down.

When the Chachamim saw that this particular Tefilah was answered, they added many verses to it and designated it for the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah.

The Gematriyah of 'Ovinu Malkeinu Chotonu Lefonecho', the commentaries point out, is equivalent to that of 'Akiva ben Yosef Yisad Zeh' (Akiva the son of Yoserf instituted this).


As we shall see shortly, the 'Ovinu Malkeinu' Tefilah corresponds to the middle twelve B'rachos of the weekday Amidah, and just as we don't recite the regular Amidah on Shabbos, the prevalent Minhag is not to recite 'Ovinu Malkeinu' on Shabbos either. Others explain that it is because R. Akiva said it in time of trouble in the form of Techinah (supplication), and it is forbidden to request one's needs on Shabbos.


This is how the Chachamim included all the middle B'rachos of the Amidah in the Ovinu Malkeinus

'Ovinu Malkeinu

Choneinu va'anenu ' - 'Atoh chonein'. And because it incorporates a Lashon of 'Techinah', they placed it at the end, like Tachanun, which we recite after the Amidah. Moreover, says the Eliyah Zuta, one should say it quietly like one does Tachanun (though this is not necessarily the prevalent Minhag).

Hachazireinu bi'seshuvah ' - 'Ho'rotzeh bi'seshuvah'.

'S'lach u'mechal ' - 'S'lach lonu'.

'Kosveinu be'Seifer ge'ulah ' - 'Go'el Yisrael'.

'Sh'lach Refu'ah ' - 'Refo'einu'.

'Chadesh oleinu' - 'Boreich oleinu'.

'Horeim Keren' - 'T'ka be'Shofar Godol '.

'Bateil me'Oleini ' - 'Hoshivoh shofteinu ve'hoser mimenu yogon va'anochoh'.

'Keleih kol tza'ar ' - 'Shover oyvim '.

'M'chok be'Rachamecho ho'rabim ' - 'Yehemu rachamecho'.

'Horeim Keren Mechichecho' - 've'karno torum '.

'Hatzmach lonu .. ' - 'Matzmi'ach keren yeshu'ah'.

'Sh'ma Koleini' - 'Shomei'a Tefilah'

The Chachamim saw fit to add other Tefilos concerning communal needs.

* * *


The dual concept of Father and King is a profound one. It is a concept that recurs a number of times in our Tefilos during the current days of awe - for example twice in S'lichos, once in 'Machei u'Masei' (immediately after Tachanun) and in 'Maran de'vi'Shemaya' (just two paragraphs later), where we plead with G-d from the point of view of a son who has sinned against his father and of a slave who has rebelled against his master.

One generally equates a son/father relationship as one that is based on love, and where the latter reciprocates with mercy (as David ha'Melech said in Tehilim "Like a father has mercy on his son"); Whereas that of slave/Master (and subject/king) is one of fear, which is met with justice (as the Pasuk states in Mishlei "A king establishes the land through justice"). The dual relationship also occurs in 'ha'Yom Haras Olam' (which we recite during the repetition of the Amidah, after each set of Teki'os. There too, we implore G-d to judge us favourably and grant us a good year, whether it is in the form of a kind Father or of a merciful King.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

Strength & Perfection

"The Rock whose work is perfect" (32:4).

Just as rock is the foundation of the earth, Rabeinu Bachye explains, so too is G-d the foundation of the world! In this sense, the title "Tzur" implies to Midas ha'Din.

Yet, although His might is unparalleled, "His work is perfect" "Tamim", he deals with His creatures with 'Temimus' and humility, which has connotations of Rachamim. Indeed, one might add, it is the combination of Din and Rachamim that denotes perfection.

David ha'Melech too, said in Shmuel "ho'Keil tomim darko" - presenting the same combination; "Keil" (meaning a strong G-d), and "tomim" (who is Merciful).

And so the Gemara Darshens in Megilah (31a) 'Wherever you will find G-d's might mentioned, there you will find His humility', and the Gemara proceeds to give three examples of this, one from Torah, one from Nevi'im and one from Kesuvim (as we recite every Motza'ei Shabbos in 'Ve'yiten l'cho').

Alternatively, the Torah describes G-d's works as "Tomim", because, unlike all other sources of power, whose work is incomplete, inasmuch as they receive their strength from powers that are greater than themselves (the earth from the stars, the stars from the angels and the angels from G-d, as we have discussed many times) G-d's Power is self-generating; He lacks nothing and has therefore no need to receive His strength from any outside source.


Tziduk ha'Din


This same Pasuk, which we say when burying somebody who has died, is known as 'Tziduk ha'Din'. It is an acceptance of G-d's Midas ha'Din. It is a declaration that whatever G-d does, He is always right.

Moshe Rabeinu, says R. Bachye, who knows that he is about to die, is actually reciting Tziduk ha'Din on himself. And that explains, he says, why he uses the word "ha'Tzur". Throughout the Torah, he explains, Moshe always refers to G-d as Hashem (the Midas Rachamim); never to the Names denoting Midas ha'Din - with two exceptions. Twice in the Torah he refers to Hashem using the Name 'Koh' (which is the Midas ha'Din), once in the Shirah ("Ozi ve'Zimras Koh") and once with reference to the destruction of Amalek ("ki Yad al keis Koh"), both of which he uses with direct reference to the Midas ha'Din.

Here too, he uses the Name "Tzur" precisely because he is acknowledging G-d's Midas ha'Din.


Substantiating the Redemption

" For I shall raise My Hand to the Heaven " (32:40).

Following in the footsteps of Rashi and most commentaries, R. Bachye explains that this expression denotes an oath. And so we find, he adds, that G-d swore that He would redeem Yisrael from Egypt (See Va'eira 6:6 &8), and again that he would redeem them from Bavel (see Daniel 12:7).


A Sixteen-Bladed Sword

"When I sharpen My flashing sword (charbi), and My hand grasps (ve'sochez) judgement I shall return vengeance upon My enemies " (32:41).

G-d's sword has sixteen blades, R. Bachye explains (see author's comment, Bereishis 3:24), which is hinted in the two consecutive words " charbi, ve'sochez (Yadi)", which can be read "cherev 'Yud' 'Vav' sochez" (Yadi)" - 'and My hand will hold a sword of sixteen (blades)'. This concept, he points out, is also hinted in the Pasuk that we recite each morning "ve'cherev pifiyos be'yadam" (and a double-edged sword in their hand), which (bearing in mind that the letter 'Pey' and 'Vav' are interchangeable in the Gematriyah of 'At-Bash') can be read as "ve'cherev 'Yud' 'Vav' piyos be'yadam") and a sixteen-bladed sword in their hand" (with reference to the Tzadikim in the days of Mashi'ach, as we will explain shortly). Incidentally, the sixteen-bladed sword, which represents G-d's Midas ha'Din, is also hinted in the sixteen times that we dip our finger into the cup of wine during the Seider.


The sixteen-bladed sword that we have been discussing refers to G-d's Midas ha'Din, as we explained. It is the sword with which G-d will punish the Resha'im in time to come. It will also cast fear into the hearts of the Tzadikim, only they will hold it in their hands even as they sing songs of praise to Hashem (see reference in previous paragraph).


Ha'Ziv Lach


The Shirah of 'Ha'azinu' is a great source of comfort to K'lal Yisrael, R. Bachye explains, as it contains a promise (see the author's comment on the previous Pasuk) that the redemption will take place, that the nations will be destroyed, that Yisrael will take revenge on their enemies and that they will receive atonement for their sins.

Perhaps, he suggests, that is why Ezra the Sofer, the Kohen and the Navi instituted the division of the Parshiyos of 'Ha'azinu' with the Si'man of 'Ha'Ziv Lach' (representing the first letters of the six Aliyos that comprise the Shirah). He foresaw that his Takanah of Leining the Torah in public would continue throughout the ages, and he arranged to divide up the Parshah of Ha'azinu in such a way that the Si'man of the opening letters would be 'ha'Ziv Lach' as an assurance that the glory would return to Yisrael like it was at first, and that "the children will return to their borders!"


In the Footsteps of his Rebbe

"And Moshe came and spoke all the words of this Shirah he and Hoshe'a bin Nun" (32:44).

Considering that, already from the time of the Spies, Hoshe'a's name had long been changed to Yehoshua, why does the Torah refer to him by his old name, asks R. Bachye?"

He explains that, even though Yehoshua had been appointed to succeed Moshe Rabeinu (the greatest leader of all time), he did not allow this to go to his head, but remained as humble as he was before.

He proved himself to be a true successor of the man whom the Torah describes as "the most humble of all men on the face of the earth!"

* * *


'When G-d will reveal Himself to redeem His people, He will say to all the nations "See now that I am the One who was and who is; I am the One who will be and there is no other god besides Me. By My command I sentence to death; I struck the people of the House of Yisrael, and I will heal them at the end of days, and nobody will escape from the hand of Gog and his camp, of those who wage war with them' (32:42).


'And it was when G-d said to Moshe "Ascend Har N'vo!", he thought in his heart that perhaps this ascent was similar to the ascent of Har Sinai; so he said "Let me go and prepare the people!" But G-d said to him "This is not the case - Go up and view the land "(32:48).


' " lie down on the mountain and be gathered to your people " '. Immediately, Moshe opened his mouth in prayer and said the following: 'Master of the World, I beseech You, let me not be like the man whose only son was captured. He redeemed him for an exorbitant sum, taught him wisdom and a trade, and betrothed him to a (fine) young lady. He erected a regal banqueting tent, built him a marital apartment, arranged the bridal suite in which he set-up the Chupah. appointed the groomsmen, baked the challos, shechted the animals and diluted the wine. Then when the moment arrived to bring his son (under the Chupah) to rejoice with his bride, and for the groomsmen to cut the challos, he received a summons from the king to appear in court. There he was sentenced to death, without giving him the opportunity to witness his son's rejoicing. In the same way, I exerted myself on behalf of this people; at Your command, I took them out of Egypt, I taught them Your Torah and I built for them the Mishkan in Your Name, and when the time arrives to cross the River Yarden to inherit the land, I am sentenced to death. If it pleases You, give me a temporary reprieve; let me cross the Yarden and see the good that Yisrael are about to receive, and then I will die' (32:50).

* * *

(Adapted from 'Ta'amei ha'Minhagim)

Hanging in the Balance

The Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (16b) describing the three Books that are open before G-d on Rosh Hashanah, explains that the Beinonim hang in the balance until Yom Kipur, when the Mitzvah of Teshuvah will determine whether they become Tzadikim or Resha'im.

Citing the Nachalas Ya'akov, the Ta'amei ha'Minhagim connects this with the Halachah that one should take care during these days to say 'le'chayim' (wherever the word occurs) and not 'la'chayim' (which has connotations of 'lo chayim', meaning death).

Consequently, he explains, on Rosh Hashanah, Tzadikim are inscribed 'le'Chayim' and Resha'im 'le'Misah'. Beinonim however, are inscribed 'l'Chayim', but without a vowel under the 'Lamed'. That hangs in the balance until Yom Kipur. If they do Teshuvah, then Hashem inserts a 'Sh'vo' (to read 'le'Chayim'); if they don't. then he inserts a 'Patach' (to read 'Lo chayim').


It's Happening Now

The L'vush explains that, in the opening words of Shchris, we change the wording from 'ha'Melech ha'yoshev' to 'ha'Melech yoshev al Kisei rom ve'niso' - because whereas the regular wording means 'The King who sits on an elevated and exalted Throne'. The current wording means 'The King is sitting - Now!'.


The Knife of Sustenance

The Rav ha'Kodosh from Lublin had the Minhag to carry a sharp and smooth knife in his pocket. This was a rather unusual manifestation of the principle that we apply on Rosh Hashanah 'Simna Milsa Hi', and was reminiscent of the Name of Hashem that is in charge of Parnasah (sustenance) 'Chatach' (which also means to cut), that is hinted in the last letters of the three words in Ashrei "posei'aCH eS yode'CHo". It was a Siman for a sharp and smooth judgement.

In similar vein, the Mahari from Ziditchev instructed each of his Chasidim to purchase a knife on Erev Rosh Hashanah and to sharpen it, as a Segulah for Parnasah.

Whereas others claim that the Kodosh from Lublin would distribute sharp knives to his relatives on Rosh Hashanah for the same reason, based on the Pasuk (that we quote in 've'Chol Ma'aminim') 'ha'Chotech Chayim le'chol Chai'.


Stick to the Right Tune

The Gabai who calls up to the Torah ('ve'ya'azor ve'yogen') should do so in the traditional tune of the Yamim Noro'im, and the same applies to the B'rachos that one recites when one is called up to the Torah and the actual Leining itself, as well as the Kadish that the Ba'al Korei recites after Leining. All of these, one should take care to recite in the special Nigun that pertains to this time of year, and not the regular tune of Shabbos and Yom-Tov. This is because the prohibition of changing the Minhag applies also to the realm of Nigunim.

The Seifer Chasidim writes that one may not "move the borders of one's friend as fixed by the early (sages)", who instituted the various Nigunim. One is therefore forbidden to use the Nigun of Torah for Nevi'im and Kesuvin, or vice-versa. Each of these he explains, has its own special tune, and this is Halachah le'Moshe mi'Sinai, and is hinted in the Torah when it writes (by Matan Torah) " and G-d assisted him with the Voice".

* * *

(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

" on the first of the month (be'echod la'chodesh) shall be for you a day of rest, a remembrance of Shofar-blasts (Zichron Teru'ah), a holy calling (Mikro Kodesh) (Emor 23:24.

"be'echod la'chodesh", R. Bachye cites the Medrash, refers to Avraham (whom the Navi Yechezkel describes as 'echod'); "Zichron Teru'ah", to Yizchak (in place of whom Avraham offered a ram); Whereas "Mikro Kodesh" refers to Ya'akov (whom the Navi Yeshayah refers to as "Mekora'i").

What the Medrash means, he explains, is that the Shofar blasts represent the Midos of the Avos the Chesed of Avraham, the Din of Yitzchak, and the Rachamim of Ya'akov. Simply put, the first Teki'ah denotes Chesed, Shevarim & Teru'ah, Din and the last Teki'ah, Rachamim.

The essence of Rosh Hashanah is of course Din. Din on its own, however, will destroy the world (which is what Chazal mean when they say that G-d saw that the world could not possibly exist on Midas ha'Din ("Bereishis boro Elokim ") alone, so He added Midas Rachamim ("Hashem Elokim" to temper the Midas ha'Din).

In reality, he explains, the main note on Rosh Hashanah (the Yom ha'Din) is the Teru'ah (Din); only in the knowledge that Teru'ah alone would destroy the world, He added a Teki'ah before and a Teki'ah after it, to contain it and to modify it between the Midos of Chesed and Rachamin. "Teru'ah" has connotations of Din and "Zichron" of Rachamim, both by virtue of the actual notes (straight and broken, respectively) and via the actual words, as "Zichron" (remembrance) has connotations of Rachamim, whereas

"Teru'ah" is rooted in the word "Tero'em be'Shevet barzel (to break)". Finally, R. Bachye explains, Midas ha'Din on its own constitutes 'Kitzutz Neti'os' - cutting off from the source, since Hashem's essence is Chesed.

* * *

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