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

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Vol. 14   No. 47

This issue is sponsored
l'iluy Nishmas
Chaya bas Uziel Alecsander Ziskin z"l
whose Yahrzeit is 29 Ellul
with wishes for
a Refu'ah Shleimah to
Aviva bas Raizel n"y

Parshas Nitzavim-Vayeilech

Moshi'ach Mo'shi'ach Moshiach
(Adapted from the Chochmas Chayim)

Anticipating the Redemption

" ... and Hashem will return your captivity .. and Hashem your G-d will bring you to the land ... " (33:5).

"For My salvation is soon to come, and My righteousness to be revealed" (Yeshayah 56:1).


R. Yosef Chayim Sonnenfeld was once asked to explain the Gemara in Sanhedrin (97a), which states that Mashi'ach will only come when we are not expecting him ('be'hesech ha'da'as').

How is this possible, the questioner asked him, when we refer to his coming three times a day in our Tefilos, as well as in the 'Ani Ma'amins' at the end of Davenning (plus, one may add, every time one recites Birchas ha'Mazon)?

R. Yosef Chayim set the questioner's mind at rest with the following answer.

Imagine, he told him, that we were sitting here in the Beis-Hamedrash, and somebody walked in and informed us that Mashi'ach has arrived at the edge of town. How would we respond?

We would instinctively answer 'Really? Is it true?'

That, the Rav explained, is 'hesech ha'da'as'.

The Chochmas Chayim, citing him, already interpreted 'I wait for him any day that he will come' (in 'Ani Ma'amin') to mean to anticipate his arrival literally every day, whenever he might arrive. It should therefore come as no surprise when he does appear, and presumably, one should react to the news of his arrival by running to greet him, like one would an expected guest.


What will Bring the Redemption?

The answer, says R. Yosef Chayim, is hinted in the last words in the Haftarah that we Lein on Shabbos Chazon "Tziyon ba'Mishpat tifdeh, ve'shavehah bi'tzedakah" (Yeshayah 1:27). The numerical value of "Tziyon ba'Mishpat tifdeh" equals that of 'Talmud Yerushaslmi'; and of "ve'shavehah bi'tzedakah", that of 'Talmud Bavli'.


When the Gedolei Torah heard this Gematriyah, they declared with certainty that it must have been said with Ru'ach ha'Kodesh.


Mashi'ach will Not be a Diplomat

It happened one Chol ha'Mo'ed, that a group of American tourists, on their way back from the Kosel ha'Ma'aravi, came to visit R. Yosef Chayim. When they stood up to leave, the Rav accompanied them to the door, and blessed them that the Tefilos that they had Davened at the Kosel should be answered, and that they should merit to greet the Mashi'ach, adding that then, true peace would reign in the world. Out of courtesy, he translated what he had said to the Consul of Czechoslovakia, who was also visiting him at that time (in his capacity as the elder statesman of the Austro-Hungarian community).

The Consul expressed surprise at what R. Yosef Chayim had said. 'Why does one need the Mashi'ach to attain peace?' he asked. 'Is that not the ultimate goal of all governments?'

To which the Rav replied 'That may well be. But Mashi'ach will not be a diplomat!'


A Redeemer of Righteousness

The same consul once asked R. Yosef Chayim why the Jews refer to Mashi'ach as 'Go'el Tzedek' (which literally means 'the Righteous Redeemer').

Back came the reply, that this was because the hypocritical world's national leaders abuse the word 'righteous', to suit their own personal agendas. That is why the Jews in Galus pray that the Mashi'ach should come and 'redeem Tzedek' from them.


Untying the Bandages

The last verse of the Pizmon 'Mal'achei Rachamim', which we recite on the first Sheini of Sheini, Chamishi ve'Sheini, reads 'Perhaps He will have mercy and extricate a poor man (from his sins) via his poverty, he will release the captured one from the land of his captivity, he will heal his pains and bandage his wounds, hear his cries and hasten his redemption'.

This is an obvious allusion to Mashi'ach, who, the Gemara in Sanhedrin explains, will sit in his poverty at the gates of Rome among the suffering lepers, bandaging his wounds. And a careful scrutiny of that particular Piyut, will reveal that the entire piece refers to the suffering of Mashi'ach, as described in that Gemara, and who will be sent amidst the circumstances described there to redeem Yisrael, who are suffering among the nations.

And if you want to know where Mashi'ach is hinted in this Piyut, the answer lies in the first letters of the second phrase in the above stanza "Chavusho Yatir Me'eretz Shivyo', which spell 'Mashi'ach'.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the P'ninei Torah)

Treating Every Jew Like One's Own Child

"The elders of your tribes, all the men of Yisrael ... your children ... " (29:9/10).

The Torah juxtaposes your children next to all the men of Yisrael, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, to teach us that a Jewish leader should bear every Jew the same affection that he bears his own child.


Indeed, says the Besht, as long as a Jew loves his own son more than he loves every other Jew, he has not reached the half-way mark of Ahavas Yisrael.


A Person is Where his Thoughts Are

"But (Moshe's covenant incorporated) those who are standing here with us today and those who are not " (29:14).


The Chasidim tell the story of R. Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, who once approached a certain Chasid as he terminated the Amidah, and greeted him with a hearty 'Sholom Aleichem!'

'Whilst you were busy Davening', he explained to the surprised Chasid, 'you visited the market in Leiptzig and a number of other interesting places, in which case you deserve a 'Shalom Aleichem' '.

As a matter of fact, he added, Moshe had the same thought. And it was because he suspected that some of the people were there in body only, that he referred to "those who are standing here with us today (in thought, as well as in body) and those who are not " (who may well be present in body, but whose thoughts are somewhere else).


A Good Heart

" and he will bless himself in his heart saying, 'Peace will be with me' " (29:18).


There are many people, says the K'sav Sofer, who transgress every conceivable sin, and they justify themselves by claiming that what is important is a good heart, as if a person with a good heart has a carte blanche to perform every sin under the sun.

But it is precisely with such people in mind that the Torah writes here "And he will bless himself on account of his good heart, saying 'Peace will be with me' ". However, the Torah concludes "Hashem will not be willing to forgive him ... ".


Perhaps the people about whom we are speaking mistakenly base their warped theory on Chazal, who have said that 'G-d wants the heart'.

If they do, they are sorely mistaken, for Chazal did not mean that G-d wants the heart at the expense of the rest of the body, but that every (good) deed that one performs should stem from the heart; in other words, it should be performed with sincerity, and not by rote.


Speech, Thoughts & Actions

"Because the thing is very close to you, with your mouth, and in your hearts, to do it" (30:14).

These three things incorporate the entire Avodas Hashem of a Jew, who must serve with his speech, with his thoughts and with his actions.


Parshas Vayeilech

(Adapted from the Ma'yanah shel Torah)

Tough on the Outside

"And Moshe called Yehoshua, and he said to him 'Before the eyes of Yisrael be strong and courageous' " (31:7).

The Meshech Chochmah attributes the punctuation to Yehoshua's deep humility, as is well-known from his days of serving as the Shamash in Moshe's Beis-Hamedrash (see also Targum Yonasan - Bamidbar 13:15).

That is why he needed to teach Yehoshua that a Jewish leader must keep his humility internal. Externally, he is obligated to display a tough streak, and to deal with his subjects firmly.

And a fine example of this is King Shaul, who in his humility, failed to punish the good-for-nothings who mocked him immediately following his appointment as king. And it was as a result of his failure to do so, the Navi told him, that he lost the throne.



"At the end of the seventh year, on Yom-Tov following the Sh'mitah, on the Yom-Tov of Succos" (31:19).


One can imagine that, after a complete year of not being able to work, says the Meshech Chochmah, everybody is raring to return to work in the fields and vineyards, to begin preparing for next year's harvest.

Yet the Torah stops them short, obligating them first to spend a short time in Yerushalayim in the Beis-Hamikdash to hear sections of the Torah, reminding them of the conditions under which they may return to the work-place.


Just for the Reward

"Assemble the people, the men, the women and the children" (31:12).

'The men, to learn', says Rashi, 'and the women to hear'. But why the children?

'To give reward to those who bring them', he answers.

If all the men and all the women had to gather in Yerushalayim, asks the Yalkut ha'Urim, is it not obvious that they had to bring the children with them?

That, he answers, is Rashi's question! Seeing as the children had to come anyway, why does the Torah find it necessary to mention them?

The answer to that is 'in order to reward those who bring them'. Like the Mishnah at the end of Makos states 'Hashem wanted to give Yisrael the opportunity to increase their merit, so he increased for them Torah and Mitzvos (transformed mundane acts into Mitzvos)'.


From the Haftarah

(Adapted from the Ma'yanah shel Torah)

Only the King Can Pardon

"Return Yisrael, unto Hashem your G-d, for you have stumbled in your sin" (Hoshei'a 14:2).

When a person decides to take his case before the king, it is a sign that he has no other hope of winning his case in court, presumably because he knows that he is guilty, and it is only the king who, in his mercy, is able to grant him a pardon. That is what the Navi means, says the Kochav mi'Ya'akov, when he tells Yisrael here to return unto Hashem. They have sunk so deeply into the mire of sin, he is telling them, that it is only Hashem who is able to extricate them, since no Heavenly Court would even consider letting them off the hook.


And this conforms with the Gemara in Pesachim (119a) which, based on a Pasuk in Yechezkel, explains how the Hand of Hashem is stretched out underneath the wings of the Chayos, to accept the Ba'alei Teshuvah, in spite of the Midas ha'Din's protestations, that they are unworthy of forgiveness.


"Moshe the prophet said 'I am not testifying against you secretly, but as you stand this day, all of you, before Hashem your G-d ' " (29:9).


"But all the generations that have arisen since the creation of the world; those (people) that are with us here today before Hashem and all the generations that will arise until the world terminates, all of them are with us here today" (29:14).


"Beware, lest there is among you now and that there should not be at a later stage, a man or a woman for the beginning of sin is sweet, but its end is bitter like poison (29:17).


"If your scattered ones will be at the edge of the heaven, from there the word of Hashem will gather you by the hand of Eliyahu the Kohen Gadol, and from there He will bring you close by the hand of King Mashi'ach" (30:4).


"And Hashem our G-d will remove the foolishness of your heart and the foolishness of the hearts of your children, because He will negate the Evil Inclination from the world, and He will create a Good Inclination which will advise you to love Hashem your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you will live forever" (30:6).


"Because the thing is close to you in your Beis-Hamedrash; open your mouths and study them (the words of Torah), clear your hearts and fulfill them" (30:14).

* * *


(Adapted mainly from the Yalkut Yitzchak)

Eating Sweet Things on R.H.

The Minhag to eat sweet things, says the Shibulei ha'Leket, has a source in Torah, Nevi'im and Kesuvim.

In Torah: in Beshalach (15:25), where the Pasuk writes "There He established for it (the nation) a statute and a judgement ... " (a hint to Rosh Hashanah, which is the Day of Judgement), and just prior that it writes " and the water became sweet".

In Nevi'im: in Shmuel 2 (chap. 25), when Avigayil took figs and raisins and other sweet things to send to David ha'Melech, after which it refers to the ten days (the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah, beginning with Rosh Hashanah).

In Kesuvim: 1. in Tehilim (chap. 19), where the Pasuk states "the judgements of Hashem are straight ", and continues "sweeter than honey ".

2. also from Tehilim (chap. 81), where the Pasuk first writes "Blow the Shofar in the month" and shortly thereafter " and from the rock I will satiate you with honey".


The underlying concept behind eating sweet things on Rosh Hashanah is Hamtokas ha'Dinim, to sweeten the Dinim.


Doing it Three Times

The Mahari Segal used to Tovel three times both on Erev Rosh Hashanah and on Erev Yom Kipur. The Rokei'ach too, cites this Minhag, which he ascribes to the fact that the Pasuk mentions 'Mikveh Yisrael' three times (Yirmiyah 14:8 & 17:13, and Ezra 10:2).

Whereas according to the Seifer Chasidim, it is because the Pasuk in Yechezkel mentions Taharah three times ("Ve'zarakti aleichem mayim tehorim, u'tehartem mi'kol tum'oseichem, u'mi'kol giluleichem ataher eschem" [36:25]).


In all likelihood, it also corresponds to 1. Nefesh, Ru'ach and Neshamah, 2. the three areas of sin - actions, speech and thoughts, and 3. the three sets of covenants that Hashem made with Yisrael, at Sinai, in the Ohel Mo'ed and at the Plains of Mo'ov.


More About Three

The Mishnah in Rosh Hashanah rules that one needs to blow, 'three lots (Malchiyos, Zichronos & Shofros) of three by three notes Tekiah, Teru'ah Teki'ah, three times each'.

The Magid Meisharim explains that the number three corresponds to the three functions of our enemy number one: In the form of the Yeitzer-ha'Ra, he descends down to earth to make us sin, then, as the Satan, he ascends to the Heaven to prosecute us, and finally, bearing the title of 'Angel of Death', he descends once more to take the life of the sinners.


The Reason Behind Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah, says the Remah, is in reality an act of Chesed. How so?

Seeing as the world was created on Rosh Hashanah (according to R. Eliezer), it is appropriate to fix it as the spiritual stock-taking day.

Imagine what would happen if no such day was fixed, says the Remah. Our sins would accumulate from year to year, with nothing to encourage us to do Teshuvah, until our measure was full, leaving us worthy of destruction with no chance of survival. It is the fact that, once a year, G-d gives us the opportunity of doing Teshuvah, and punishes us for our relatively few sins, that enables us to keep our slate clean and to survive the year.

Indeed, It is the annual Day of Judgement that keeps the world going. And that is why Rosh Hashanah is a Yom-Tov.


(cont. in Rosh Hashanah Supplement, Parshas Ha'azinu)

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