October 29th, 2016
Tishri 27th 5777
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A Breath of Fresh Air
Rabbi David Hanania Pinto Shlita
“And Hashem Elokim formed the man of soil from the earth, and blew into his nostrils the soul of life” (Bereishit 2:7)
The Gemara relates that Hashem originally created man with “two faces” i.e. as two people (Berachot 61a). Similarly, Rashi explains the pasuk, “You formed me, back and front, and You placed Your palm upon me” (Tehillim 139:5) to mean that, at first, Adam had two faces, one opposite the other. Hashem divided them and thus created Chava. This means that Chava did not originate as a separate entity, but rather, as the back of Adam Harishon. Only afterward, did Hashem fashion her into a new person.
Why didn’t Hashem make Adam and Chava separate from the beginning, just as He formed distinct categories of male and female in the animal kingdom? Also, why was Chava’s existence while she was still part of Adam kept from him? Only after putting Adam to sleep and separating Chava from him, did Hashem introduce her to him.
This teaches us the profound level of Adam’s faith. He was not curious about that which was concealed from him or beyond his control. It is human nature to investigate mysteries. But Adam lived by the credo, “Do not search after that which is beyond you.” It didn’t occur to him to check what was going on behind his back. He served Hashem in innocence and was satisfied with what he was given, as we are instructed to “be wholehearted with Hashem, your G-d” (Devarim 18:13). It is fitting for us to accustom ourselves to living with simple faith and honesty, not seeking all types of calculations and conjecturing what is behind us and what is before us.
Man was created as an individual in order for him to distinguish himself from the animal kingdom. This would enable him to value and guard his pure neshamah, a portion of the Divine nestling within him. “And Adam assigned names to all the cattle and to the birds of the sky and to every beast of the field; but as for man, he did not find a partner assigned to him” (Bereishit 2:20). Hashem brought all the animals before Adam for him to name. Rashi expounds: When Hashem brought each species before Adam, male and female, Adam said, “Each type has a mate, except for me.” By perceiving that he could not find his mate among the animal kingdom, Adam became aware of his intrinsic greatness. He was created with tremendous intellect and a pure neshamah, with the image of Hashem etched into his face.
This led him to understand that he stood head and shoulders above all the animals. He was the crown of Creation. It was his obligation to observe the mitzvot of his Creator. Adam asked Hashem for a fitting mate, who also contained a neshamah and the Divine image on her countenance.
Had Adam and Chava been created at the same time, Adam would never have made this distinction between man and animal. The animals have mates and people, too, have mates. However, when he was forced to seek a partner among the animal kingdom and could find none, he understood that he was inherently different from the animals. He thus turned to Hashem to provide him with a life partner.
Rabbi Elazar explains Adam’s exclamation upon seeing Chava, “This time it is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh:” Adam had relations with every species of animal and beast, but he did not attain satisfaction until he had relations with Chava (Yevamot 63a). This is not to say that Adam acted wantonly, chalilah. Rather, he made a personal accounting and examined each and every creature to see if it was compatible with him. He discovered that their differences were too great to fathom. He contained a sublime neshamah, a portion of the G-dliness, hewn from under the Heavenly Throne, while the beasts were mere creatures of the earth. He then prayed for Hashem to gift him a life partner, similar to himself. When Chava was presented to him, his mind was at ease. She, too, contained a neshamah from on High. Hashem created Adam alone in order to prompt him to pray for a partner. After beseeching his Creator for a wife, Adam would appreciate the power of prayer.
Often, Hashem longs to give a person what he desires. However, He refrains from doing so because the person did not pray for it. How many segulot do people try in order to find their life partner! They lose sight of the fact that the most proven method is prayer. Simply standing before Hashem and pouring out one’s heart is the most effective way to get what one desires.
The haftarah of the week: “Thus said the G-d, Hashem, Who created the heavens and stretched them forth” (Yeshayahu 42)
The connection to the parashah: The prophecy of Yeshayahu mentions the creation of the heavens and earth and everything within, as described in detail in Parashat Bereishit.
Walking in Their Ways
Covered with Yirat Shamayim
I once delivered a sermon to Jews who are distant from Torah observance. They did not cover their heads, observe mitzvot, or study Torah. But, unfortunately, there was one thing that they did persist in doing: studying Kabbalah. One who is unobservant, yet involves himself in the secrets of the Torah causes untold damage to himself, to his environment, and to the entire Jewish people. He fortifies the forces of tumah and kelippah.
I knew that discouraging them from their practice would be a difficult undertaking. Therefore, I put forth a prayer to Hashem that He should pave a way for me into their hearts by putting the right words into my mouth.
As I entered the room, I noticed that the majority of the men were bare-headed. I decided to open my words with the importance of wearing a kippah. I explained that this mitzvah has the power to grant a person pure yirat Shamayim.
“You have all exerted yourselves to hear the word of Hashem, not just any ordinary lecture. But in order to do this, you must cover your heads. Words of Torah enter the mind and the heart only when the head is covered.”
Most of the people hurried to put on a kippah. Some did it out of a feeling of inspiration toward yirat Shamayim and submission to Hakadosh Baruch Hu, and some did it out of respect toward me.
Those who were filled with a sense of awe for Hashem went on to become full-fledged ba’alei teshuvah. But those who did it merely to appease me did not become inspired at all.
The Torah must be observed with utmost seriousness and submission to Hashem. Only in this manner will our actions enter our hearts, encouraging advancement in Avodat Hashem.
Words of Our Sages
Gems on the Parashah From the Torah Sages
Rolling Up One’s Sleeves on Erev Shabbat
“It is not good that man be alone; I will make him a helper corresponding to him” (Bereishit 2:18)
The Attribute that Hashem conducts the world with is “middah k’negged middah – measure for measure.” The way a person conducts himself towards Hashem is exactly the way his wife will behave towards him.
Chazal alluded to this when they said: Zacha – ezer, Lo zacha – kenegdo (Merited – a help-mate, Did not merit – against him). His wife will ultimately rebel against her husband in the same measure that he rebels against his Creator. Therefore, every Torah Jew, whose wife does not obey him, should know that his conduct towards Heaven is the cause for this. Thus, it is not proper to resent his wife, because he caused the damage for himself. This principle, notes the gaon Rabbi Avraham Azulai, zt”l, (in his sefer “Chessed L’Avraham”) is true only regarding tzaddikim. The wicked are not included in this principle at all, because usually although the wicked are controlling and frightening, everyone listens to them.
However, we must remember that in order to merit achieving the level of “ezer – help-mate”, a person has a sacred duty to be helpful to his wife and help her in the household chores. In every area that his wife needs help, he must be a loyal partner. These words are true especially regarding the preparations for Shabbat, since the burden of the preparations lies heavily on the shoulders of the woman, in addition to her regular chores of running the house and caring for the children.
The following story is brought in the sefer “Marbitzei Torah u’Mussar”:
A person complained before Rabbi Eizik Sher that every erev Shabbat a feud erupts in his house. He completes his preparations for Shabbat quickly, but his wife is always busy until the last minute.
- And how do you prepare yourself to greet the Shabbat Queen, Rabbi Eizik asked him.
- Thank G-d! answered the man. Already from midday I sit wrapped in my Shabbat cloak and study the parashah of the week, and sanctify myself in preparation of the Shabbat Queen.
- If so, Rav Eizik said, my advice to you is simply to remove your cloak for an additional hour, get up and help your wife in the household preparations, and when the time for candle lighting draws near, gently reprove her. Then you will be assured that peace will reside in your home.
Guard Your Tongue
Who Can Overpower Me
Chazal say (Arachin 15b): R. Johanan said in the name of R. Joseph b. Zimra:
One who bears evil tales almost denies the foundation [of faith]. As it is said: Who have said: Our tongue will we make mighty; our lips are with us; who is lord over us?
This can be explained that it is the ways of one whose tongue is like a drawn arrow to boast in front of people and say: When I will open my mouth against you, I will finish you off with my tongue, and you will be crushed. Who can withstand the power of my tongue? And even if this time I will not finish you off entirely, after all, I still have my speech, and I will be able to discredit you in the eyes of the people, to be despised by all. I do not consider at all that there is a Master over me, Whose Eyes watch over the entire land.
Rabbi David Hanania Pinto Shlita
Chazal (Sanhedrin 29a) tell us that the serpent argued with Chava and claimed that she was not forbidden to eat from the tree. Chava answered, that not only was she forbidden to eat, but she was also prohibited from touching the tree. Although it is common practice for the Chachamim to add on and safeguard a prohibition, here the addition of an extra precaution led to her downfall. We find that the Chachamim (see Tosafot in Ketubot 61a) added to the prohibition of a niddah by forbidding her husband from even handing her an object. Yet here, the inclusion of touching the Tree caused the serpent to push Chava against it, and led her to believe that she would not be punished for eating.
The serpent also used another ploy. He said that Hashem did not want her to eat, because He knew that by eating, she could become great like Him. Why was Chava convinced by such a seemingly foolish statement?
Chava was also the handiwork of the Creator, a tzaddeket in her own right. She was worthy of being buried next to Adam. What, then, was the temptation of the serpent that enticed her to sin? And what was wrong with adding to Hashem’s prohibition?
Perhaps we can answer by explaining the connection between Shabbat observance and the Creation of the world. Chazal (Shabbat 119b) say that whoever prays Erev Shabbat and says the paragraph (Bereishit 2:1), “And the Heavens and the Earth were completed…” is considered a partner in the creation of the world. Why is this so? One who keeps the Shabbat demonstrates his belief in the Creation of the world. He rests on the seventh day because the Al-mighty rested on that day. By resting from all physical creative activity, he shows that he believes in their spiritual creative power. He recognizes the transcendence of the mitzvot and their far-reaching creative powers in the Heavenly spheres. Thus he has a partnership with Hashem, for he too can create worlds by his performance of the mitzvot.
This was the enticement of the serpent. By eating from the Tree of Knowledge, Chava would be able to discern right from wrong, and create worlds by her good deeds. The serpent convinced Chava that Hashem was simply satisfied with what He had already done. His contentment and self-effacement were the primary reason for prohibiting them to eat from the Tree. But for her own benefit, he deviously said, she should eat. What could be better than being like the Creator, creating worlds just as He? And so she took of the fruits and ate.
Adding to the Torah subtracts from its value
We learn from here an important principle. One should not add or be stringent in those things in which Hashem did not command us to be stringent. This thought contains a deep insight, one which played a prominent role in the sin of Chava. Hashem never commanded her not to touch the Tree. Holding on to the stringency of not touching it, because Hashem said so, was like grasping onto falsehood. The more one goes along with a lie, the more he absorbs it as truth. And this ultimately caused Chava to let go of the truth that was already in her hands.
They say of the Steipler zt”l that he would buy an etrog in every store that he entered. Later on, he would choose only one of them to use for his mitzvah. When asked why, he replied that he didn’t want people to think that one of the stores he visited did not have good merchandise.
From here we can learn how careful we must be not to let our stringencies cloud our view of good and bad. Even though the Steipler searched only for the finest etrog, he was careful not to cause others a loss as a result of his self-imposed strictness.
Strengthening Fellowship and Meriting Blessing
“Chazak U’Baruch” is a new feature introducing current issues that need strengthening. It is a feature that is open to the public, where you the readers are invited to bring ideas of matters that need strengthening and to be studied together.
The first topic in this feature was chosen by Moreinu, the gaon and tzaddik, Rabbi David Chananya Pinto, shlita, an important matter like no other, which results in acceptance of the yoke of Heaven and has the segulah of opening up the gates of Gan Eden.
This is the main issue that we will be discussing in the coming week. We will feature Chazal’s strengthening and encouraging words about the great impact of answering amen, whether when answering amen after blessings, or whether answering amen during Kaddish. They result in acceptance of the yoke of Heaven, and have many valuable segulot that are more precious than gold and pearls, such as: opeing the gates of Gan Eden, long life, one’s prayers getting accepted, drawing abundance from Above, and more.
Testimony About the King
The gemara in masechet Shabbat (119b) asks, “מאי אמן – what is the meaning of amen”?
“Rabbi Chanina says: א-ל מלך נאמן – G-d trustworthy King.”
Rashi explains that the intention of the gemara was to ask how does answering amen to every blessing result in the acceptance of the yoke of Heaven. Thus, the gemara answers that the word “אמן – amen” is an acronym of “א-ל מלך נאמן – G-d trustworthy King,” signifying that by answering amen, a person believes and gives testimony about his Creator, that He is the G-d and a trustworthy King.
We may add, that since berachot arouse fear of Heaven, as Chazal derive the obligation to say one hundred blessings a day from the pasuk (Devarim 10:12), “Now, O Israel, what does Hashem, your G-d, ask of you? Only to fear Hashem,”; which implies that mentioning Hashem’s Name when reciting the one hundred blessings arouses the fear of Heaven. Consequently, when a person answers “amen,” he declares his agreement and accepts upon himself fear of Heaven. (“Notrei Amen”)
Drawing Others Closer to Hashem
One of the students of the famous tzaddik who guides many people, the gaon Rabbi Eliyahu Roth, zt”l, relates (Ish Chassid Haya”):
From the day that I got to know Rabbi Eliyahu, zt”l, he always would speak, admonish, encourage and inspire others about the importance of reciting berachot out loud.
Once, when he was expounding about the importance of the mitzvah, he explained to us the positive consequences that result from this conduct:
He had a routine of going every day to a certain kiosk to get a drink and recite the blessing “shehakol” out loud.
The seller, who was a simple man and unfortunately did not observe mitzvot, would listen every day to the berachah uttered by the tzaddik, and he would think to himself – since such an important Jew comes here every day and recites a blessing out loud, it is not proper for me to stand in front of him bareheaded and not answer amen. He got himself a kippah, and from then on, every day when Rabbi Eliyahu recited the blessing, the seller would cover his head and answer amen.
This had a major impact on his life, and it did not take long until he did complete teshuvah.
Thus, concludes Rabbi Eliyahu, by reciting blessings out loud and answering amen it is possible to change another Jew’s entire lifestyle and draw him closer to Hashem.
Zachur LaTov – Of Blessed Memory
From the teachings of Eliyahu Hanavi of Blessed Memory
It is an ancient custom throughout the diaspora to mention on Motza’ei Shabbat after havdalah the merits of Eliyahu HaNavi and pray that he will appear and herald the redemption, as indicated by Rabbeinu Yaakov Ba’al Haturim (Orach Chaim 295):
We customarily mention Eliyahu HaNavi, and the reason is, since he will ultimately herald the redemption. It is brought in Eiruvin (43b): “Israel has long ago been assured that Elijah would not come either on Sabbath eves or on festival eves.” Therefore we pray for redemption, because Shabbat passed and he can come, so let him come and herald [the redemption].
The sefer “Sodei Raza” states: Every Motza’ei Shabbat everyone’s judgment is reviewed in order to decide if a person achieved atonement for his sins in Gehenom so that he should not be sent back there. Those that achieved atonement, Elyahu escorts them to the person who he is destined to be near. Even if there are tzaddikim that transgressed a few sins, they must be returned on Motza’ei Shabbat to finish their sentence in Gehenom, but Eliyahu defends them in order to save them from harm and not return them to Gehenom. This is as stated in Tana Dvei Eliyahu, “I am atonement for his resting place.” Consequently we mention the subject of Eliyahu Hanavi on Motza’ei Shabbat.
The mention of Eliyahu HaNavi’s name brings much success and salvation. It is brought in the sefer “Seder Hayom” that anyone who mentions the name of Eliyahu 52 times will succeed in his studies, since everything he touched was successful, as we find in other places that where the spirit of holiness appears, there is great success, sharp memory follows, and there is no forgetfulness.
The sefer Tanna D’vei Eliyahu is mentioned in the gemara in masechet Ketubot (106a): Elijah was a frequent visitor of R. Anan whom he was teaching Tanna D’Vei Eliyahu. But as soon as he acted in the manner described [there] [Elijah] stayed away. He spent his time in fasting, and in prayers for [God's] mercy, [until Elijah] came to him again,” and taught him until he finished the entire course that he prepared for him. What he taught him the first time was Eliyahu Rabbah and afterwards (after Eliyahu’s return) he taught him “Seder Eliyahu Zuta.”
With the blessings of Moreinu v’Rabbeinu the gaon and tzaddik Rabbi David Chananya Pinto, shlit”a, we dedicate this feature “Of Blessed Memory” for a weekly lesson from the sefer of Eliyahu HaNavi “Tanna D’vei Eliyahu,” to reinforce the sacred custom of learning every Motza’ei Shabbat from the teachings of Eliyahu, and to bring merit to the people who do not own the sefer.
Tanna D’vei Eliyahu
Blessed is the Omnipresent, Blessed is He, Who knows in advance what will be in the end and tells from the beginning what will be in the end before it occurs. He knows what happened and what will happen in the future, He sees for good and does not see for the bad, He is wealthy and content in His lot. With His sagacity and wisdom He created His world and prepared it; afterwards He created within it Man and placed him in front of Him. He scrutinized all his descendants until the end of generations and saw that they will anger Him. He said if I remember his first debts the world will not stand. It is incumbent upon me to pass on the first iniquities and so He did. From where do you know that it is such? For when Israel was in the Wilderness they sinned in their actions, and Hashem took care to pardon all what they did, as is stated (Shemot 34:6), “Hashem passed before him and proclaimed.” Do not read it as “veya’avor – He passed” but as vaya’avir – He removed [their sins]. This teaches us that He removed all their iniquity from in front of His countenance.
Know that it is as such; Mordechai, when Esther spoke with him improperly, he became angered at her. These are the words which she spoke improperly. She said: Now I, I have not been summoned to come before the king, etc.” He answered her: For if you persist in keeping silent, etc.” She responded and spoke with him properly, he then agreed to her words. These are the words which she spoke with him properly. [She said:] Go, assemble all the Jews. [Thereafter] He pardoned her for her improper words, as it says “Mordechai then passed on” (Esther 5). It is also stated (Micha 7): Who is a G-d like you Who pardons iniquity and overlooks transgression.
Your Eyes saw my unshaped form and in Your book all were recorded, etc. (Tehillim 139:16).
What does this come to teach us?
In the future the Holy One Blessed Be He will sit in His great Beit Midrash and the tzaddikim shall sit in front of him. He will say to them: The sons of generation so and so learned Torah such and such, and thus I did with them charity, and this and this person learned Torah in this way and I did with him charity. But I do not recall his sins and they did not enter My mind, as it is stated (Yeshayahu 43), “Do not recall former occurrences” etc., and (Yeshayahu 65), “For the earlier travails will have been forgotten,” etc.
Men of Faith
Waters of Life
The following miracle that happened to R’ Ishua Deri was told by Moreinu v’Rabbeinu:
R’ Deri was diagnosed with cancer. He turned to doctors for a cure, to no avail. None of the treatments brought him any relief.
Since he firmly believed in the power of tzaddikim, he decided to go to the cemetery in Mogador. He stayed there for twenty-one days consecutively. Day after day, he sat near the grave, praying for a complete recovery in the merit of the tzaddik.
One night, he dreamed that Rabbi Chaim and his wife came to him and gave him water to drink, blessing him with a complete recovery.
A few days later, he went again to his doctor for tests in the hope of finding a cure for his illness. When the results came in, they discovered that he had no signs of his former illness.
“A great miracle took place here,” the doctors informed R’ Deri. “The cancer disappeared as if it had never existed.”
“When I heard this story,” said Moreinu v’Rabbeinu, “I thought to myself that it is very difficult to find a person in our times who is capable of going to the cemetery for such an extended period of time, praying there every day with great faith that he would be healed in the merit of the tzaddik.”