July 30th, 2016
Tamuz 24th 5776
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The Reward for a Mitzvah Is a Mitzvah
Rabbi David Hanania Pinto
“Therefore, say: Behold! I give him My covenant of peace” (Bamidbar 25:10-12)
Hashem commanded Moshe to inform Pinchas that in reward for taking up for Hashem’s honor and killing Zimri ben Salu, the Nasi of Shevet Shimon, together with Kuzbi bat Tzur, he would merit His covenant of peace. Pinchas would become the emblem of peace, and bring much peace to the world.
Chazal (Kiddushin 39b) teach, “The reward for a mitzvah is not in this world.” In this world, we can enjoy the fruits of our labor regarding mitzvot between man and his fellow man. But the reward for mitzvoth between man and Hashem are reserved completely for the World to Come. How can we understand that Pinchas was rewarded in this world for fighting Hashem’s battle?
The reward granted to Pinchas in Olam Hazeh is worlds apart from the reward a king would ordinarily grant a loyal subject. A citizen of Morocco once saved the king from an attempted assassination. As a token of his gratitude, the king appointed this man to a prestigious position in his kingdom. Their constant contact would serve as a reminder to the king
that this man saved his life.
The reward accorded to Pinchas was of an entirely different nature. It was along the lines of (Avot 4:2), “The reward of a mitzvah is a mitzvah.” In the merit of promoting peace among Am Yisrael, Pinchas was rewarded with becoming the peacemaker between Bnei Yisrael and their Heavenly Father. One mitzvah leads to another until a wealth of mitzvot is accumulated, which is reserved for Olam Haba.
A woman, let’s call her Mrs. Cohen, once complained to me that her husband was so absorbed in Torah study day and night that he was detached from his surroundings. Registration for yeshivot was taking place, and their son asked his father to put in a good word for him in a prestigious yeshiva, in order to guarantee him a place for the upcoming year. The man reassured his son that he had nothing to worry about. He would make every attempt to get him into the yeshiva of his choice. After a few days, the woman asked her husband if he had inquired into the yeshiva. He replied that the entire matter had escaped his memory. He would take care of it now, he said.
The next day, Mr. Cohen was traveling on the bus. A very distinguished-looking man sat next to him and posed a difficulty in his Torah study, which had been bothering him for a long time. Mr. Cohen offered him a satisfying solution. As they continued talking, Mr. Cohen said that he was seeking a yeshiva for his son for the upcoming year. The other man mentioned that he worked at a specific yeshiva and told the father he had nothing to worry about. He would arrange for his son’s acceptance. It would be their privilege to accept the son of such a learned father.
We see, time and again, how one who involves himself in Torah study has his needs provided by others. Furthermore, “If someone takes upon himself the yoke of Torah, the yoke of government and the yoke of worldly responsibilities are removed from him”. One who dedicates himself to the cause of Torah and Hashem’s glory receives special siyata di’Shemaya to have his needs fulfilled. Pinchas brought about a tremendous kiddush Hashem and therefore merited future opportunities for promoting peace, without any effort involved. These opportunities would increase his Heavenly reward manifold.
Guard Your Tongue
A Sharp Tongue Causes Destruction
One who possesses the trait of silence is considered most trustworthy, and everyone feels comfortable revealing secrets to him, since he is not used to gossiping and therefore will not publicize private information. Regarding this it says, “Death and life are dependent on the tongue.” A person can harm with his tongue more than he can with a sword, because through slander, he can stay fixed in his place and destroy people far away from him. However, the sword cannot kill unless his fellow is standing close to him. Thus, man was created with two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, but only one mouth, so that he should limit his speech.
The haftarah of the week: “The hand of Hashem was upon Eliyahu.” (Melachim I 18:46)
The connection to the parashah: The haftarah relates how Eliyahu, of blessed memory, zealously avenged Hashem’s vengeance upon Bnei Yisrael. This is similar to the parashah which discusses how Pinchas zealously avenged Hashem’s vengeance and thus achieved atonement for Bnei Yisrael and ceased the plague.
Walking in Their Ways
A Storm of Generosity
The charitable organization Chessed Chaim, which is connected to our institutions, is very active in France. Like its name implies, its goal is to provide resources for the destitute of Lyon. Its entire purpose is kindliness and charity. A large fundraising dinner is held annually, and I am often called upon to participate in this event.
One year, on the day of the scheduled dinner, the weather was especially stormy. A heavy blanket of snow covered the streets of France. As though the hand of the Satan was at play, a huge soccer game was slated for that very night. This game always drew multitudes of spectators, among whom were philanthropists and various guests who had been invited to the dinner.
The organizers of the event contacted me. They bemoaned the fact that the game was slated for that very night, and suggested that they might not even manage to cover the cost of the evening, never mind raise revenue. Moreover, the caterer demanded advance payment for the food. She was afraid that she might not get paid afterward. The organizers were wondering where they could get the vast sum of fourteen thousand dollars to pay her fees.
I was pained at their plight. I tried calming them with words of faith in Hashem, Who would surely not forsake them. Then I thought of ways of paying the caterer in advance. I suddenly remembered that I was carrying that amount in my pocket. Although this money was earmarked for the yeshiva, and I needed it back in a short time, I trusted that Hashem would return the money to me, for I was doing a good deed with it. I took the money and gave it to them.
A short time passed when a fellow Jew approached me. He explained that he had heard that my blessings are effective, in the merit of my forefathers, zy”a. He wished to donate a sum for tzedakah, in the merit of which I would bless him.
I sat there stunned. I could not hide my wonderment at Hashem’s quick way of repaying the yeshiva’s money. I told the entire story to the man.
Needless to say, if the arrangement of the dinner was accompanied by Hashem’s miracles, certainly He would bless it with great success.
That is exactly what happened. A tremendous kiddush Hashem resulted from the evening. Huge profits came pouring in. I was so impressed by Hashem’s kindness to us that I myself donated the sum that had been returned to me earlier.
Tuv Taam – Insights
It is a custom to eat eggs in the Shabbat morning meal following the Shacharit and Mussaf prayer.
This symbolizes mourning for Moshe Rabbeinu a”h, who passed away on Shabbat Kodesh.
The custom of chassidim is to eat eggs with chopped onions, because Bnei Yisrael were able to taste every food when they ate the mannah, except for five kinds of food. One of them was onion. Thus, they eat onion on Shabbat because they could not taste it in the mannah.
Rabbi David Hanania Pinto
Physical Organs Correspond to the Organs of the Soul
“Pinchas son of Elazar son of Aharon the Kohen saw, and he stood up from amidst the assembly and took a spear in his hand” (Bamidbar 25:7)
My holy forebear, Rabbi Chaim Vital, zy”a, states (Sha’arei Kedushah 1:1) that man’s body is comprised of 613 parts, corresponding to the 613 mitzvot. Each part of the body corresponds to a different mitzvah. And just as in the body there are 613 organs, so too, the neshamah contains 613 organs, paralleling the 613 mitzvot. This was very difficult for me to comprehend. The neshamah is a most elevated, spiritual entity. What connection can it have with the 613 physical parts of the body?
I thought over the matter and arrived at the conclusion that the body is physical mass. It is naturally drawn to materialism, not to mitzvot. Since the body does not want to part with its natural urges and temptations in favor of observing mitzvot, Hashem created the neshamah, corresponding to the organs of the body. The organs of the neshamah are spiritual, granting power to the body to overcome materialism and observe mitzvot. If not for these vital organs, the body would never be pulled to do mitzvot. How dreadful that would be! Hashem, Who knows our makeup, created spiritual organs in man’s neshamah. These are what motivate him to keep the mitzvot, which correspond to them.
For this reason, the pasuk (Eichah 3:23) states, “They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” The neshamah, which enters the body anew each morning, fuels it so that it can triumph over its materialistic nature and hurry to accomplish mitzvot. The neshamah, with its powers of purity, descends, sanctifying the body (see Eitz Chaim 29:3).
When Pinchas took note of what was transpiring with Zimri and the Midianite woman, he hurried to grab the spear and, sparing not a moment, killed both of them in one fell swoop. The pasuk (Bamidbar 25:7) states, “He stood up from amidst the assembly and took a spear in his hand.” The Zohar (see III, 237a) states that the word רמח (spear) hints to the fact that Pinchas sanctified the name of Hashem with all his 248 (רמח) limbs.
The gematria of the word בידו (in his hand), adding one for the word itself, is equal to that of the word גידו (his limb). Pinchas harnessed all his body parts for the purpose of fulfilling the injunction (Devarim 17:7): “You shall destroy the evil from your midst.”
From where did Pinchas gain the determination to act so zealously? It was from his neshamah, comprised of 613 organs which affect the physical organs, as explained according to Rabbi Chaim Vital, zy”a.
Words of Wisdom
Hands Laden with Wisdom
“Take to yourself Yehoshua son of Nun, a man in whom there is spirit, and lean your hand upon him” (Bamidbar 27:18)
Moshe did not only radiate wisdom through his mouth, but even his hands radiated wisdom, as it says, “and lean your hands upon him.” Further on it says, “He leaned his hands upon him…,” and then “and Yehoshua son of Nun was filled with wisdom,” etc. (Midrash Yilamdeinu)
Ultimately the Honor Will Come
“You shall place some of your majesty upon him, so that the entire assembly of the Children of Israel will pay heed” (Bamidbar 27:20)
So that the entire assembly of the Children of Israel will pay heed – that they should treat him with respect and awe the way they treat you. Moshe thought that his sons would inherit his position and lead the nation. He began supplicating Hashem that He should remember his sons.
Hashem told him: Moshe! It is not the way you think. Your sons will not inherit your position. You know that Yehoshua served you meticulously, and he accorded you great honor. He would arise early and remain until the evening in your assembly in order to arrange the benches and spread the awning. He will merit leadership. This is a fulfillment of what it says, “The protector of a fig tree will eat its fruit.” (Yalkut Shimoni)
“This is the fire-offering that you are to offer to Hashem: male lambs in their first year” (28:3)
The two were not brought simultaneously, as it states, “The one lamb shall you make in the morning and the second lamb shall you make in the afternoon.”
Rabbi Yehudah said in the name of Rabbi Simon: There was never a man who remained in Yerushalayim with sins on his hands. How? The continual burnt-offering of the morning would atone for the sins committed during the night, and the one in the afternoon would atone for the sins committed during the day. Consequently, no one ever spent a night in Yerushalayim with sins on his hands, as it says (Yeshayahu 1) “Justice will reside in it,” etc.
Hashem told Yisrael: In this world you serve me with Showbread and korbanot. In the World to Come, I will set for you a huge table, and the idol worshippers will look and be ashamed, as it says (Tehillim 23), “You prepare a table before me in view of my tormentors. You anointed my head with oil, my cup overflows.”
Until now we discussed the tremendous benefit of a framework and limits for children. We concluded that defined boundaries ultimately increase a sense of happiness and satisfaction, but we still have to realize that a young child is not mature enough to meet obligations and limits, whether it is commitments obligated by the Torah or social obligations.
For us, the parents, this presents us with the reality that when a small child was tempted and did something wrong, we cannot complain about his action. The complaint or claim we have against the youth is that he should have unconditionally listened to the adults in his life, such as his parents and teachers. He is obligated to respect older people and follow their guidance.
This characteristic, by the way, is inherent in every young child. He possesses the willingness and desire to depend on an older more responsible person and to accept his leadership and guidance. Thus, it is possible to demand from him to respect this relationship and keep a healthy connection with parents and teachers. This is a primary educational element, and therefore the Vilna Gaon, zt”l, specified in his famous letter: The most important of all is that they should obey and respect you and my mother and all those that are older than them.
When the child makes a wrong choice, the offense is not the real problem. The problem is that the child was disobedient and did not listen to his teacher who is older than him, and in this way he lost his connection to those older than him. This insight is learned in the parashah of the “ben sorer umoreh” (the “rebellious son”), where the Torah points out the iniquity, which is that the son “does not hearken to the voice of his father and the voice of his mother.”
The Torah does not specify the actions of the rebellious son, and there is no complaint about his behavior. The main claim is that he does not listen to the voice of his parents, his educators, does not follow their educational guidance, and thus he is termed the “wayward and rebellious son,” which signify the root of his deterioration and corruption.
On a deeper level, if we look at the overall relationship between the child and his parents, we see that regarding the son who chalilah hits or curses his father and mother, the Torah imposes upon him a death penalty. What is the reason for such a severe penalty? The commentary, Seforno, responds (Vayikra 20:10), “The reason that I am so meticulous that the seed should stem from kedushah is since the penalty of death by the Beit Din for one who curses his parents usually occurs because he is not an obedient child and he does not abide by what is stated: Heed, my son, the chastisement of your father, etc. Such a person will not respect the law and regulations because he does not accept authority from his father and mother at all.”
Consequently, the author of Ohel Yaakov V’Leah notes that a child behaving insolently towards his father and mother is a very serious matter and has to be treated sternly, because the lack of respect towards parents undermines all the educational effects on the child.
Thus, the authority of parents and their respect should be the center of a child’s life. This will influence him all the time, every day, every hour, every minute. And conversely, when the parents do not impact a child’s life, even for a short term, like a child whose parents are not aware of what is happening to him at school, or what he does outside, this situation causes his deterioration.
An excellent example of this is found in connection to Moshe Rabbeinu with his flock. Moshe Rabbeinu was the connecting factor between Am Yisrael and Hashem. The moment that Moshe disappeared from their midst, when he remained above and the nation thought that Moshe was not returning on time, then the nation deteriorated to the lowest level and eventually bowed to the Golden Calf.
Men of Faith
The Tzaddik Did the Surgery
An amazing incident occurred to R’ David Loyb in the merit of the tzaddik Rabbi Chaim Pinto, zy”a.
While still young, R’ Loyb lived in Mogador in the proximity of Rabbi Chaim Pinto, zy”a. He merited praying in the Beit Hakeneset with the tzaddik, basking in his greatness and occasionally serving him.
Approximately thirty years ago, R’ David Loyb began to experience terrible pain, which later proved to be symptoms of cancer. His condition steadily worsened, until he had to leave Mogador and travel to Casablanca, where a French specialist, Professor Buton, treated him.
When he arrived in Casablanca, he went through a series of tests and was informed that unfortunately he had a malignant growth. Furthermore, he was told that the operation necessary to remove the growth was very complicated and dangerous.
R’ Loyb began to tremble in fear. Worry filled his heart. “What will be? Will I recover from this illness?”
The doctor sensed R’ Loyb’s anxiety and told him, “We will not be able to operate on you like this. You must be more relaxed during surgery.”
However, this remark did not help calm him at all.
That day, R’ Loyb was hospitalized in Professor Buton’s ward, in order to prepare him for the operation, which would take place the following day. At night, the tzaddik Rabbi Chaim Pinto appeared to him in a dream. R’ Loyb saw the shining countenance of the tzaddik facing him, his head wrapped in a white tallit.
Rabbi Chaim took his tallit and placed it around R’ Loyb, and then smiled to him and said, “My son, I am Rabbi Chaim Pinto. Do not fear. Tomorrow I will stand alongside the doctor when he operates. The surgery will take an hour and a quarter, and it will be a success. You will be well and live long.”
R’ Loyb woke up and realized that it was a dream. A pleasant feeling spread over him as he recalled the encouraging words of the tzaddik. He calmed down, and slowly his fears evaporated entirely.
In the morning, Professor Buton entered his room in order to check the results of the most current tests, and to see if he was less anxious. To his surprise, he saw that R’ Loyb was entirely relaxed, as if the operation had already been performed with success.
“Mr. Loyb,” Professor Buton said to him, “what happened that you are so relaxed and calm?”
R’ Loyb explained to him, “I am from Mogador. In that city, some years ago, there was a tzaddik, who abided by Hashem’s will. He was like an angel from Heaven, a wise, virtuous, and honorable Rabbi, called Rabbi Chaim Pinto. He was a wondrous miracle worker. This tzaddik appeared to me last night in a dream and told me to calm down, since the operation will be successful and will not last longer than an hour and a quarter.”
The professor frowned and said, “Mr. Loyb, what are you talking about? This is a very complicated operation, which takes a minimum of three hours. It is not a simple procedure at all.”
The professor’s argument did not shake R’ Loyb’s confidence, and he remained calm and relaxed. In this way, he was able to undergo surgery.
The surgery went well, in the merit of the tzaddik Rabbi Chaim Pinto. When R’ Loyb recovered, he opened his eyes and saw Professor Buton standing beside him. His face was wreathed in smiles. R’ Loyb waited to hear the doctor’s report. It did not take long in coming:
“Mr. Loyb, the operation succeeded beyond our expectations. However, I do not think that I am the one who performed it. The operation did take only an hour and a quarter, something which is impossible to imagine. I think that your tzaddik is the one who helped me, and he is the one who operated on you…”