August 5th, 2017

13th of Av 5777


One Unit

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

“I entreated Hashem at that time saying” (Devarim 3:23)

Moshe Rabbeinu implored Hashem numerous times to be granted entry into EretzYisrael. Finally, Hashem told him, “It is enough for you. Speak to Me no more regarding this matter” (Shemot 3:26). Rabbi Simlai asks: Why did Moshe so badly want to enter the Land? Was it in order to eat of its fruits? To enjoy its delights? Rather, Moshe reasoned, “BneiYisrael were commanded many mitzvot that can be done only in EretzYisrael. I will enter the Land in order to be able to do these mitzvot” (Sotah 14a).

All that Moshe wanted was to do Hashem’s will to perfection. He knew that the 613 mitzvot are one entity, each hinging on the other. A person is comprised of 248 organs and 365 sinews. Only when they are all operating optimally is he considered healthy. If, chalilah, one body part is damaged, the person is considered incomplete. So is it regarding the mitzvot. The Torah is comprised of 613 mitzvot, each one paralleling a different aspect of life. But they are intrinsically interconnected. And only when one does Hashem’s mitzvot to perfection is he considered spiritually whole. If he is missing a part of a mitzvah, his neshamah is lacking.

Moshe sought perfection. He wanted to fulfill all the mitzvot, without exception. This is why he so strongly wanted to enter EretzYisrael.

The Ba’alHaTurim states that the word ואתחנן (I entreated) is numerically equivalent to the word שירה (song). What’s the connection between song and Moshe’s entreaties to enter the Land?

The Torah is called “song,” as it says in Devarim (31:22), “Moshe wrote this song on that day.” Moshe specifically entreated Hashem in 515 forms of prayer, an allusion to the Torah. He thereby indicated that his motivation in entering the Land was solely to be able to fulfill the 613 mitzvot to completion.

Furthermore, without the merit of the Land-related mitzvot, Moshe considered himself, and the song within him, incomplete. This parashah repeats the Giving of the Torah because Moshe’s singular desire was to make himself whole through the fulfillment of all the mitzvot. Since the Torah is one body of holiness, when one mitzvah is lacking, one’s Torah is incomplete.

“How great is Torah for it brings to action” (Bava Kama 17a). The ultimate purpose of Torah is to bring a person to act properly. As we say in our prayers: Instill in our hearts understanding to understand and elucidate, to listen, learn, teach, safeguard, perform, and fulfill.

Torah study enables the Jew to repair his bad character traits, making room for good qualities to enter. The Torah has the power to transform a person from “a wild little donkey” to a straight, upright gentleman. All who see him exclaim, “Praised are his parents who raised him and praised is his teacher who taught him Torah.”

From here we see that one who learns Torah but fails to improve his character by uprooting his negative traits is held highly accountable. His Torah study is nothing but lip-service. The Torah must create within us an essential change, converting us to more elevated, more dignified people. Acting appropriately is proof that a person has truly accepted the Torah.

Moshe was the one who transmitted to us the Torah from on High. The angels fought against him to keep the Torah in Heaven, but Moshe valiantly seized it for his beloved people. Hashem made Moshe’s face resemble that of Avraham Avinu because, like the Avot, Moshe devoted himself wholeheartedly to the Torah’s honor. He was the one who “preached pleasantly and performed pleasantly.” It is our job to continue in his path.

The Haftarah

The haftarah of the week: “Console, console My people” (Yeshayahu 40)

The connection to this Shabbat: This is the first of seven Shabbatot of consolation, beginning with the Shabbat after TishaB’Av. It is one of seven haftarot, called Shiva D’Nechamta, read from SeferYeshayahu.

Guard Your Tongue

Hateful Words

There is no difference whether one explicitly relates to his friend what someone did against him, or he writes it. Also, there is no difference if he says that so-and-so spoke ill of him as if so-and-so derided his merchandise.

Walking in Their Ways

His Faith Keeps Him Alive

I am acquainted with a Mr. Cohen from New York. Unfortunately, this man contracted cancer. When I was receiving people on a visit to New York, Mr. Cohen sadly informed me that the disease had spread throughout his body. The doctors had given up on his ever recovering. He added that his daughter was scheduled to be married in three months. He did not want to spoil the festivities with his death, so would I please bless him with another three months of life? I blessed him that the merit of my fathers should stand by him, and Hashem should grant him another three months of life.

Approximately three months later, I found myself once again in New York. Mr. Cohen again approached me.I didn’t recognize him at first, for his appearance had improved tremendously. He informed me that my prayers had been accepted, and he had participated in his daughter’s wedding. For this, he thanks Hashem every day. Then he asked for a blessing that he merit another year of life, to see his daughter become a mother.

Upon hearing his words, I told him that in the merit of thanking Hashem for the added months of life, against all the doctors’ predictions, Hashem would surely take pity on him and allow him to live for this event, as well.

Another year passed. Mr. Cohen came to me, singing Hashem’s praises. He had merited seeing a grandchild come into this world. Now he asked that he receive another three months’ respite, for his next daughter had become engaged in the interim and was to be married in three months.

I immediately blessed him. I told him that his simple faith in Hashem and the tremendous gratitude he felt toward Him for his miraculous life, would grant him the merit to see his next daughter married.

Mr. Cohen danced at this daughter’s wedding, as well. Although he carries his disease with him, he continues functioning.

The doctors scratch their heads in consternation. They all agree that it is only his perfect faith which keeps him alive. According to the laws of nature, he would have succumbed to his illness a long time ago.

Words of Our Sages


“Honor your father and mother” (Devarim5:16)

Over the years that I merited sitting in on the visits of Rav Michel Yehudah Lefkowitz zt”l, on Thursday nights, I often encountered fathers and sons coming to invite the venerable sage to the boy’s bar mitzvah. The Rav would turn to the young boy and instruct him to undertake two things:

1. Distance yourself from a bad friend. A bad friend is extremely dangerous. He can do untold damage. Who is considered a bad friend? Someone who speaks unclean language and encourages his friends to do wrong things. On the other hand, a good friend causes his colleagues to want to do good. A good friend is priceless!

2. Strengthen yourself in the mitzvah of honoring your parents. The basis of kibbudavv’em is gratitude. The Sefer Hachinuch explains: When one establishes this quality (of gratitude) in his heart, he will be drawn to recognize the goodness of Hakadosh Baruch Hu, the One Who brought him and his ancestors into this world. He provided for all his needs and gave him health and intelligence. The person should consider how worthy it is for him to beware in his service of Hashem.

Rav Michel Yehudah once traveled with his family to the Moshav Bar Yochai. The Rabbanit was in need of a doctor who was happy to treat her. Afterward, Rav Michel Yehudah penned the doctor a long, beautiful letter of thanks, which he had sealed in wax,to make it more respectable.

A number of years later, this doctor was scheduled to marry off a daughter. Together with his future son-in-law, he paid a visit to the Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Michel Yehudah, to invite him to the wedding. Before they entered, Rav Michel Yehudah’s grandson told them that they shouldn’t have their hopes up; it was already five years that the Rav didn’t attend weddings, aside from his grandchildren’s.

The Rosh Yeshiva accepted his guests most warmly, and had a pleasant conversation with them. Then the doctor gathered up the courage to invite the Rav to the wedding. “I’ll come” was his reply.

“But Grandfather, you never go to weddings outside of the family,” his grandson reminded him.

“I know. Nevertheless, I’m going.”

He received a blessing under the chuppahand even danced in honor of the new couple.

The doctor was stunned, labeling Rav Michel Yehudah “The Rav of hakarathatov” (U’matokHa’or).


The following story was related firsthand by the gaon, Rabbi Zusha Horowitz shlita, Rav of the Chassidic community in Elad. It was told at a convention of yeshiva people in the month of Av, 5774:

The pitiful condition of the town in which our story takes place was not much different from that of other towns in the vicinity, prior to the Holocaust that decimated most of European Jewry. Secularism was seeping into the finest homes in Europe, wreaking spiritual destruction throughout. Many families had a number of generations living under one roof. It was not unusual to find elderly, religious grandparents living together with their children and grandchildren who had veered from the path of Torah. It was a painful sight to behold.

As the noose of Germany tightened around Europe, the ideological differences among Jews became somewhat blurred. Any Jew, regardless of his religious affiliation, was a target for persecution, torture, and murder. Millions of Jews fled from place to place. Most of them were murdered in cold blood. During those bitter days, many irreligious Jews made their way back to Torah Judaism. When their time came, they returned their souls to their Creator, purified through physical affliction.

Five years after the outbreak of war, the center of world Jewry was unrecognizable. Out of hundreds of flourishing communities, a pitiful few remained. Those individuals who somehow managed to survive, tried to band together and pick up the pieces of their broken lives, intent on building anew on the land of their fathers. But they quickly learned that the land drenched with their fathers’ blood had no desire to accept them any longer.

One family was different. Thirty-six members somehow survived the war, and dedicated their lives to transplanting their family in EretzYisrael. Many wondered how this family managed to accomplish such a feat. What was their secret? Only after many years was it finally revealed.

One of the family members who survived the war as a young girl made her way to Israel where she was raised in an anti-religious kibbutz. When she was preparing to marry, she insisted that a Torah-true Rav officiate at her chuppah. On that occasion, she revealed the story of her family’s survival:

“As a young child, I would often visit my religious grandmother. One day, I discovered a very old and worn-out note resting on the bookshelf. With child-like curiosity, I picked up the paper and began reading: To my dear children and grandchildren, In order to survive all difficulties, make sure to recite Birchot Hashachar each day, and have someone respond Amen.

“This note was our family’s private secret. All those who survived were people who undertook to heed Grandmother’s instruction. They were not observant Jews, but reciting these blessings and Amen afterward gave them the merit to survive the war. It was just as she had promised. Thirty-six souls survived, equal to the number of Birchot Hashachar (18) plus the number of Amens (18) recited daily.”


Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

Gaining Understanding

“Know, therefore, that the Lord, your God He is God, the faithful God” (Devarim 7:9)

This pasuk obligates each of us to ask, “Do we have a clear understanding that Hashem is the true G-d?”

The main element of avodat Hashem is knowing deep in our hearts that Hashem is in control of every situation and at all times. It’s no great deal to believe in Hashem and love Him when things are going our way. However, even when we find ourselves in darkness, we must fully believe that Hashem is in charge and can certainly change a situation in the blink of an eye.

But this is not enough. Even if one wholeheartedly believes that everything is from Hashem, he still must ask himself: Do I believe that Hashem is the faithful G-d? Do I trust that He does everything with faith and justice? Do I truly subscribe to the belief that every person gets what he deserves, in exact precision, with absolute fairness?

It is our moral obligation to internalize these truths, as it says, “And you shall know that Hashem is the faithful G-d.”

How can one reach this exalted level?

“That it will be for our merit that we keep to observe all these commandments” (Devarim6:25). This pasuk is referring to the imperative of Torah study, the most important mitzvah of all. When one sits and learns Torah, he should envision receiving goodness from Hashem Who gave him the opportunity to do so, with all its inherent benefits.

Imagine a pauper who has no food whatsoever. A rich man comes along and provides him with all his needs. Certainly, the pauper will feel a tremendous debt of gratitude toward his benefactor.

This is how we should approach Torah study. Hashem did a great kindness by giving us the Torah of life. We should not feel deserving of reward for studying Torah. On the contrary, we should feel obligated to fill our mouths with praise to Hashem for the great gift He has bequeathed us, a gift that offers us life both in this world and the Next.

Only after one realizes what a great kindness Hashem has done by proffering him the Torah, and he studies it with enthusiasm and joy, for the sake of Heaven alone, can he arrive at true knowledge of Hashem.

Food for Thought

Honoring Parents

Rabbi Benzion Abba Shaul zt”l was very careful regarding honoring his parents. He tried his best to fill their every wish and honor them in any way possible.

He testified about himself that there was not any time that his mother asked for something and he didn’t do it as soon as he understood what she wanted.

He even said that had his parents asked him to stand near them all night long, and this would give them pleasure, he would do it.

He lived in Katamon during the war of ’48. Every Erev Shabbat, he would walk to Rechov Shmuel Hanavi, where his parents lived, in order to give them a kiss. This, despite the fact that their home was on the Jordanian border at that time. The Arizal said it’s a mitzvah to kiss the hands of one’s parents on Friday night. Afterward, he made the long trip back to Katamon by foot, despite the darkness that had descended, together with its inherent dangers.

Men of Faith

Rabbi Chaim Hagadol’s daughter, Sara, was modest and righteous. She was well-known for her virtuousness. When she came of age, she married and had many children. But to her great sorrow, her husband died suddenly, leaving her with young children and without a source of income.

Sara became worn out from the burden of caring for her children while trying to provide their sustenance. She could not bear the hardship any longer. One day, it occurred to her to pray to Hashem for salvation in the merit of her righteous father. She lit a candle in his memory and, shedding many tears, prayed from the depth of her heart that her father intercede on her behalf before Hashem.

She beseeched Hashem for a wealthy husband, who would have the means to support her and her children comfortably, and that after her marriage, they would emigrate to the holy city of Yerushalayim. She also begged to give birth to more children.

Family members shook their heads, as if to say that her prayers were in vain. First of all, they argued that no one would want to marry a woman of her age, and it was extremely unlikely that she would be able to have more children. Despite everything, Sara did not despair.

After two months, her prayers were finally answered. A wealthy elderly bachelor from Portugal decided to sell all his assets there and live in the holy city of Yerushalayim for his remaining years.  

One night, Rabbi Chaim Hagadol appeared to him in a dream and told him, “I order you to go to the city of Mogador and take my daughter Sara for a wife. Emigrate with her to the holy city of Yerushalayim, and there you will be blessed with sons and future generations of offspring.”

The Jew, who possessed faith in Torah scholars, heeded the words of the tzaddik. He sold all his assets and properties and traveled to Mogador. There he sought the house of the tzaddik Rabbi Chaim Pinto. He revealed his dream to the family members and expressed his wish to fulfill the request of Rabbi Chaim to marry his widowed daughter, Sara, and emigrate with her to EretzYisrael.

The family recognized the Divine intervention orchestrated to fulfill their sister’s wish. Shortly after, they celebrated the wedding of the overjoyed bride and groom.

Following the wedding, the couple ascended to the Holy Land, and just as they had been promised, they merited having several children there.

The story spread all over the city, and everyone realized how righteous Sara was, since she experienced miraculous salvation, and had children in her old age. Furthermore, people were impressed by Rabbi Chaim’s greatness, whose merit had stood in her stead.

Moreinu v’Rabbeinu adds, “Once, I became acquainted with an outstanding Torah scholar, who told me that he was the grandson of the tzaddik Rabbi Chaim Pinto through his daughter Sara, who had children born to her in Yerushalayim.”


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