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

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Vol. 12   No. 54

This issue is sponsored
by the Glassman Family
Jerusalem - Efrat - Johannesburg - Edenvale
in loving memory of their grandmother
Zahavah bas Chayim Yosef Luria z"l

Parshas Vayeilech
Incorporating Yom Kipur

G-d Will Hide His Face From Us

(Adapted from the Ma'ayanah shel Torah)

Even When We Sin

"And My anger will burn against them on that day and I will forsake them and hide My face from them ...

" ... and they will say 'because G-d is not in our midst all these troubles befell us'. And as for Me, I will hide My face on that day ... " (31:17/18).

Many answers are given to explain why G-d sees fit to hide His face from Yisrael, even after they have acknowledged His supremacy, and ascribed their suffering to His absence.

R. Bunim mi'P'shischa explains that not only is this statement not considered a form of Teshuvah; it is in itself, a sin. The Gemara in Megilah (29a) has taught us that when Yisrael go into exile, G-d goes with them, and that (consequently), when they suffer Galus, He suffers Galus too. The claim that their suffering is the result of G-d's absence therefore, goes contrary to Chazal's teaching, and constitutes a lack of Bitachon. Bearing in mind the saying 'If you will forsake Me one day, I will forsake you, two', it is hardly surprising then, that following Yisrael's statement, G-d responded by hiding His face from them.


The Seforno too, explains the Pasuk in this way, only he adds that Hashem hides His face from them ('Midah ke'neged midah') because not only did they fail to turn to Him in time of trouble (with Tefilah and Teshuvah), but they actually sinned doubly by turning to other gods instead (perhaps that is why the Pasuk uses the double expression " ... hastir astir Panei ... "). Indeed he explains the Pasuk to mean that by turning to other gods, and denying G-d's Presence, they caused themselves immense harm by causing G-d to hide His face from them. It is as if G-d was saying to them 'You claim that I am not in your midst! I will hide My face from you as if I was not.


Note also that there is no indication in the Pasuk that the people are ascribing G-d's absence to their sins. They are not admitting that they drove G-d away, but rather they are claiming that it is He who forsook them.

In other words, they are placing the onus for all their problems on G-d, as if to say 'Why did you forsake us?'

That hardly constitutes Teshuvah.


Hiding the Hester Panim

The Chidushei ha'Rim explains the double expression " ... hastir astir Panai" like this. It would not have been so bad had Yisrael been aware that their troubles occurred because G-d had hidden His face from them. Then they would have at least been able to turn to Him in prayer and plead that He return to them so that they could do Teshuvah. Only because they turned to other gods, He hid the Hester Panim from them, so that they ascribed all their troubles to natural phenomena, without giving a thought to the possibility that it was due to the absence of the Shechinah. In that way, it never occurred to them to Daven or to do Teshuvah.

It is bad enough when G-d is not with us, but infinitely worse when we do not even realize that He is not with us!


Turning to the Root of the Problem

Even if we were to interpret the Pasuk 'because G-d is not in our midst all these troubles befell us' as a confession that their sins drove G-d away, says the Chasam Sofer, it would not be sufficient for G-d to act favourably on the basis of that confession. Real Teshuvah, he explains, entails going to the root of the sin (which in this case was the fact that they turned to other gods), not just to the result; and that is why G-d turned His face away from them, despite their confession.


A Thought that Counts

Why, asks the Binah la'Itim, did G-d punish Yisrael for thinking that He was not in their midst? Do we not have a principle that He does not punish for evil thoughts alone?

That is correct, he replies, but not when it comes to thoughts that are connected with Avodah-Zarah - and in this case, they did not only deny G-d's presence, but they also re-placed Him with other gods, as the Pasuk itself goes on to explain.


Hiding His Face from Our Evil Deeds

Perhaps the most radical explanation of all is that of the K'sav ve'ha'Kabalah, who explains that it is not from the people that G-d hides His face, but from their evil deeds (as if the Torah had written "And I will hide My Face from all the evil which they did by having turned to other gods").

Since, Yisrael ultimately come round to the truth, and acknowledge their sins, G-d in His mercy will turn a blind eye to their misdeeds and forgive them.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the P'ninei Torah)

The Growth Stops Here!

"I am no longer able to go and to come" (31:2).

Tzadikim are never stagnant (as the Gemara tells us at the end of B'rachos). As long as they are in this world, they are constantly growing, as they go from one level to the next with each passing day.

And that is what Moshe Rabeinu meant, says the Chasam Sofer, when, on the last day of his life, he made the above statement. He was no longer able to leave the level at which he now stood, and ascend to the next one; for so Chazal have said 'when a person dies, he becomes exempt from the Mitzvos', at which point there is no more room for spiritual growth.


Moshe Yehoshua and Yisrael

" ... because Hashem your G-d is walking with you"(31:6).

The K'li Yakar observes that the Torah uses the word "walking" (in one form or another) three times in this Parshah - " ... because Hashem your G-d is walking with you" (in connection with Yisrael), "And Hashem is the One who walks before you" (in Pasuk 8, in connection with Yehoshua); and "And Moshe went" (in Pasuk 1).

And he ascribes the different expressions to the different levels of Yisrael, Yehoshua and Moshe. Yisrael needed Hashem's support, so the Torah adds the word "with you"; Yehoshua did not need this; it therefore sufficed that Hashem walked in front of Him, and he followed. Moshe Rabeinu, on the other hand, had attained such a high level, that he was able to proceed under his own impetus, so the Torah writes merely "And Moshe went".


Hashem is Your Shadow

" ... He will not loosen His hold on you and He will not forsake you" (Ibid).

Rashi comments on this 'He will not loosen His hold on you to be forsaken by Him'.

To explain this, the Ba'al Shem Tov cites the Rambam, who states in Moreh Nevuchim that the Divine Providence is commensurate with a person's knowledge of G-d; the more he gets to know about Him, the more G-d responds by increasing His Hashgachah over him.

What the Pasuk therefore means is that if K'lal Yisrael will not be afraid of the Cana'anim, then G-d will walk with them and will ensure that they do not slip from their high level of Emunah. Consequently, He will not forsake them.

In the same way, he explains the Pasuk in Tehilim (33:22) "May your kindness be with us, like we longed for You". To the extent that we place our faith in G-d, He will shower us with His kindness.


Putting on a Show

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

R. Shlomoh Kluger places the comma after the word him, translating the latter phrase as 'before the eyes of Yisrael 'Be strong and courageous'.

Everybody, even a king, is obligated to be humble before G-d, as the Pasuk indicates in Shoftim. Only a king has an additional obligation to demand full allegiance from all his subjects. To that end, he explains, the king was strictly forbidden to humiliate himself before the people. That explains why the Torah commands Yehoshua here to be strong and courageous as long as he stands before the people. Because when he stands before G-d, that fortitude must dissipate, and he must be humble just like everybody else.


Moshe Got it Wrong

"Be strong and courageous, for you will come with this nation to the land ... " (Ibid).

Moshe told Yehoshua to follow the elders, and to seek their advice, whereas G-d said to him "You will bring this people to the land" ... the decision is yours and yours alone. If they do not obey you, then take a stick and beat it on their heads' (Rashi).

The Gemara tells how just before Rebbi died, he announced that Shimon his son was wise, but that Gamliel would be the Nasi, adding that the latter should carry out his leadership with a strong hand.

The K'sav Sofer asks why Rebbi found it necessary to refer to his son Shimon's wisdom before appointing Gamliel as Nasi? And he answers that Rebbi felt compelled to make it clear at the outset, why he had added to the initial appointment the command that Gamliel should carry out his leadership with a strong hand. This would not have been necessary, he is saying, had he been wiser than his brother, since that in itself, would have automatically gained him universal respect; but now that he was not, he needed to behave with authority, to avoid people treating him with disdain (as happened with Shaul ha'Melech after he was crowned king).

The incredible humility of Moshe Rabeinu, the greatest prophet of all time, in no way interfered with the deep esteem in which the people held him. And so he was able to consult with the elders without losing their respect. And because, as a result of that humility he considered Yehoshua as his equal, he instructed him to follow suit and consult with the elders too, on the understanding that his standing would not suffer either.

G-d however, knew that this was not the case (as Chazal subsequently taught 'Moshe face was like the sun, Yehoshua's, like the moon). And so, like Rebbi, He (Kevayachol) ordered Yehoshua, to make the decisions himself and act towards the people with a strong hand (see previous Pearl). Otherwise, He knew, his authority would come under fire.


Rebbi Yehoshua's Mother

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

The men come (to fulfill the Mitzvah of Hakheil) to learn and the women to listen, but why do the children need to come? The children need to come, says Rebbi Elazar ben Azaryah, in order to give reward to those who bring them. When Rebbi Yehoshua, who had not been in the Beis-Hamedrash when this was said, heard it, he exclaimed to the Talmidim who told it to him, (though only after much prodding) 'You had this pearl hidden away, and you wanted to withhold it from me!'

What did Rebbi Yehoshua see in this seemingly simple explanation that so impressed him?

The Meshech Chochmah cites the Yerushalmi in Yevamos, which relates how Rebbi Yehoshua's mother used to take his cot to the Beis-Hamedrash so that, already at that tender age her baby son should hear words of Torah under discussion, and develop a love for Torah already from then on.

No wonder Rebbi Yehoshua was so taken in by Rebbi Elazar ben Azarya's explanation. It referred to none other than his mother and himself.


After Moshe's Death ...

" ... because I know that after my death you will surely behave corruptly" (31:29).

What, asks the Ba'al Nesivos, is Moshe out to remove their free-will and choice by announcing that they were destined to sin some time after his death?

As long as Moshe lived, he explains, whenever Yisrael sinned, retribution followed swiftly (like we find with the Eigel, with the Meraglim and, with the copper snakes). As a result, they would immediately do Teshuvah and, aside from the short-term lapses, their slate remained perpetually clean.

Moshe knew however, that once he died, things would change for the worse. Yisrael would sin and sin again, without being punished immediately, allowing their sins to accumulate. That is why he found it necessary here to issue them with a stern warning not to begin the downward slide by perpetrating the first sin.

* * *


(Adapted from the Ta'amei ha'Minhagim)

Please note that although all the Minhagim discussed here are official Minhagim,they do not necessarily conform with the opinion of the Mishnah B'rurah.

Please check the Mishnah B'rurah or with a competent Rav before adopting any new Minhag

Human Angels

The reason for the custom to use round Challes on Erev Yom Kipur is because on Yom Kipur, we are compared to angels (who are devoid of physicality and,) whom the Pasuk describes as having six wings each (note the shape of the wings, according to our tradition).


Eating on Erev Yom Kipur

One of many reasons attached to the Mitzvah to eat on Erev Yom Kipur is given by the Maharit, who explains that, like everything else in life, something that becomes a habit, is easier to cope with than something that one is not used to. Consequently, after having eaten before Yom Kipur, fasting on Yom Kipur becomes more difficult, and one will receive more reward for the Mitzvah.

The Medrash Talpiyos cites the Zohar. Commenting on the Pasuk that seems to say that one should fast on the ninth of Tishri, the Zohar explains that if someone eats and drinks on Erev Yom Kipur, it is as if he had fasted on the ninth and on the tenth, and he will be rewarded accordingly. It is preferable however, says the Medrash, not to fast during the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah, since by the time Yom Kipur arrives, one will then be used to fasting and will not feel the affects of the Inuy (suffering) by not eating. One should rather eat during these days, and endure the subsequent difficulty when fasting on Yom Kipur. The Medrash substantiates the reasoning of the Maharit.

A second reason for not fasting during the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah (which incidentally, does not conform with the view of the Poskim), is in order not to feel faint on Yom Kipur, and be unable to complete the fast. Interestingly, this reason clashes with the previous one.


According to the Kuzari, the reason that eating on Erev Yom Kipur is considered like fasting, is simply because the Torah gives the same credit to someone who eats on a Yom-Tov as it does to someone who fasts on a Ta'anis (and Erev Yom Kipur is considered a Yom-Tov).


A Taste of Poverty

It is customary for the Gabai to distribute goodies on Erev Yom Kipur. Whoever receives some, should declare that if it has been decreed on him to receive from Tzedakah, then let this be the fulfillment of that decree.

Interestingly, it less than a week's time, we will be moving out of our homes into the Sukah, which, according to some commentaries, is similarly symbolical of exile - that if it has been decreed that we must suffer Galus, then let the Sukah be the fulfillment of that decree.


An Abridged Kareis

The Seifer ha'B'ris prescribes rising at dawn-break or a little earlier, and remaining awake for the rest of the day and the following night, eating only enough to be satisfied (thereby fulfilling "Zeh Keili", which spell the first letters of the Pasuk in Yechezkel [41:22]) "Zeh ha'Shulchan Asher Lifnei Hashem") and spending that entire period (until the following dawn-break) learning Torah and performing Mitzvos.

Someone who does this will be saved from one Kareis.

Whereas according to the Arizal, he can achieve the same result by staying awake all night until dawn-break and studying Torah.

Either way, it is certainly preferable to having one's life curtailed, and dying prematurely.


Lights of Atonement

Just before Yom Kipur begins, it is customary for every Balabos to kindle a light for his family, as an atonement for their sins, says the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch. This is because it was on Yom Kipur that Moshe Rabeinu descended Har Sinai for the third time, holding the second Luchos; and the Torah is called light as we learn in Mishlei ([6:23]"For Mitzvah is a lamp and the Torah, light"). And he kindles a second light in Shul before 'Kol Nidrei' as an atonement for his deceased parents. (A sign to remember which is which, says the Chayei Adam, is the sentence 'One should only be healthy in one's home').

If either of the lights goes out during the course of the day, says the R'mo, one should re-kindle it on Motza'ei Yom Kipur, and let it burn till the end. He should also undertake that neither he nor anybody else will extinguish his Yom Kipur candles for the rest of his life.

These candles, says the Sha'ar ha'Melech, should be specifically made of wax, since the word 'sha'avah' (wax) contains the same letters as 'shav'ah' (prayer), which forms the essence of our Yom Kipur Avodah.

* * *

Yom Kipur Supplement

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(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 313:
To Fast on Yom Kipur

It is a Mitzvah to fast on the tenth of Tishri (otherwise known as Yom Kipur) as the Torah writes in Emor (23:) "Only, on the tenth of the month ... and you shall afflict your souls". This, says the Sifro, refers to affliction which destroys the soul (of life), with reference to eating and drinking. Similarly, says the Gemara in Yuma, we have a tradition that it also applies to washing and anointing oneself, wearing shoes and marital relations. The Sifra explains that we learn these four prohibitions (over and above that of eating) from the double expression "Shabbos Shabboson", indicating two types of desisting, one from eating, and the other, from the remaining prohibitions.

A reason for the Mitzvah ... is that, out of compassion for all His creations, G-d fixed one day in the year to atone for their sins, by means of Teshuvah (as the author already explained in 'Acharei-Mos'), in the Mitzvah of Avodas Yom ha'Kipurim (Mitzvah 185). So He commanded us to fast on that day, because eating and drinking, together with the other physical pleasures connected with the sense of touch, stimulate man's physical soul, causing him to be drawn after desires and sin, preventing his spiritual Soul (the Soul of wisdom) from pursuing the truth. And it is the pursuit of truth that forms the basis of Avodas Hashem and the good and sweet ethical code that goes with it.

Nor is it befitting for a servant to appear for judgement before his Master with his mind full of mundane thoughts that result from eating and drinking; particularly bearing in mind that G-d judges a person the way he appears before Him at the moment of judgement. The right thing to do therefore, is to allow the Soul of wisdom to overcome his physicality on this honoured day. This will render him fit to receive his atonement, which would otherwise be barred from entering by a wall of desires.

Some of the Dinim of the Mitzvah ... The Gemara in Yuma (80b) gives the Shi'ur that one needs to eat in order to be Chayav on Yom Kipur as a 'Koseves' (a large date). The reason for this is because the Torah uses the expression of 'inuy' ('ve'inisem ... ", meaning affliction) to forbid it (rather than 'achilah' ['lo sochlu'], in which case the Shi'ur would have been a k'Zayis). And the Chachamim had a tradition that as long as a hungry person has not eaten the amount of a Koseves of food, he remains in a state of 'inuy'. A Koseves is larger than a G'rogeres (a dried fig), but smaller than a k'Beitzah (an egg [which is the equivalent of three (some say two) k'zeisim) ... The Gemara also discusses someone who eats less than the full Shi'ur ... The Shi'ur for drinking is a cheek-full ('M'lo Lugmav') of an average-size person, which is the equivalent of a k'Beitzah; for less than that, one will not receive Kareis, though it is forbidden to eat it due to the principle 'Chatzi Shi'ur asur min ha'Torah'. Therefore, one serves a sick person who is very weak (even though his life in not in danger) food and drink according to his needs, but less than the Shi'ur, making sure to leave a time space between each eating session of at least 'K'dei Achilas P'ras' (which is the time it takes to eat three egg-volumes, according to most Poskim). In this way, the amounts that he eats will not combine to turn it into one eating, in which case he would be eating a full Shi'ur (for which a healthy person would be Chayav Kareis). It is not however, necessary to make a break between eating and drinking (less than the Shi'ur), since the two do not combine in this regard ...

The equivalent waiting period between one drinking session and another is the time it takes to drink a Revi'is (one and a half egg-volumes) of liquid. One is permitted to measure and weigh these amounts on Yom Kipur itself, if necessary, because it is preferable to avoid eating something which carries a Chiyuv Kareis, than to weigh on Yom Kipur, which is only mi'de'Rabbanan ... In similar fashion, the Chachamim only forbade washing and anointing oneself unnecessarily, but where it is necessary (such as someone who has scabs on his head), he may rub in oils without hesitation. Indeed, Chazal even permit the owner of an orchard to wade through a river up to his neck (provided it is not dangerous) on Yom Kipur, in order to guard his trees; and it goes without saying that this is permitted when a Mitzvah is at stake, in which case the return journey is permitted too ... The Chinuch, citing his Rebbes, confines shoes that the Chachamim forbade on Yom Kipur to those that are made of leather, but not of any other material. According to some Poskim, whatever is valid for the Mitzvah of Chalitzah (which must be made of leather) is forbidden on Yom Kipur on the one hand, but permitted to be worn in the street on Shabbos, on the other. Whereas any other kind of shoe, such as those made of cork, rubber, palm-branches and various types of grasses, are permitted on Yom Kipur (provided they are not worn in a location where there is no Eiruv), but forbidden to wear in the street on Shabbos. Many Poskim however permit all the above on Shabbos ... One may feed someone who is dangerously ill, either if instructed to do so by a professional doctor or by the sick person himself (even if the doctor disagrees) ... The Din of a pregnant woman who smells food and expresses a desire to eat ... and that of someone who has an attack of Bulmus (a dangerous infection that affects the eyes) ... from which age a boy or a girl under bar and bas-Mitzvah are obligated to fast all day (mi'de'Rabbanan), and when one begins to train them to fast part of the day. The general rule according to some Poskim is that a healthy child begins to fast all day, two years before turning bar or bas- Mitzvah, and part of the day, two years prior to that; whereas according to others, the obligation to fast all day begins only one year before bar or bas-Mitzvah. Yet others maintain that it is only girls who are obliged to fast all day one year before their bas-Mitzvah, but not boys ... a King and a bride (within twelve months of her wedding) are permitted to wash on Yom Kipur. And this is what Chazal said about Tish'ah be'Av, which in essence, is very different than Yom Kipur in so many ways. Yet because it shares the title 'fast-day' with Yom Kipur, we will discuss it briefly here ... Firstly, it is important to know that in most aspects, the Chachamim gave Tish'ah be'Av the stringencies of Yom Kipur - like Yom Kipur, it begins before nightfall; bathing, anointing, wearing shoes and marital relationships are all forbidden on it, and pregnant women must fast just like everybody else (which is not the case by other fast-days, except for the three middle fasts of the three sets of fasts following a drought), as the Gemara explains at the end of the first Perek of Ta'anis. The remaining Halachos of this Mitzvah are to be found in Maseches Yuma (see Orach Chayim Si'man 612).

This Mitzvah applies everywhere, at all times to both men and women. Someone who contravenes it and eats on Yom Kipur the amount of a ki'G'rogeres of food (or who drinks a mouthful of beverage) has negated the Mitzvas Asei, as well as having transgressed a La'av for which one is Chayav Kareis, as the Torah writes in Emor (23:29) "For any person who does not afflict himself on this very day will be cut off ... ". Someone who eats or drinks the above be'Shogeg, is obliged to bring a Korban Chatas.

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