November 18th, 2017

29th of Heshvan 5778


Truth and Lie in this World

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

"And the youths grew up, and Eisav was a man who understood hunting, a man of the field, whereas Yakov was an innocent man, dwelling in tents" (Bereishit 25:27)

Yakov and Eisav were two brothers who were born to the same father and mother. They were both sons of Yitzchak and Rivkah, and they were both grandchildren of Avraham and Sarah, our holy fathers. We need to contemplate how this happened. After all, both of them at first learned in the same yeshiva, were raised by the same parents, and were even born to the same parents. So how is it that boys who grew up together turned out so diametrically opposed; one went out hunting while the other was an innocent man, dwelling in tents.

We may explain it in the following way: The World to Come is called the World of Truth, and our world is called a world of falsehood. We need to understand what in our world is considered falsehood. If a person has some garment and he declares that indeed he has such a garment, then is that falsehood? What in our world is considered falsehood? Is there a certain falsehood related specifically to this world? And if there is such a factor – what is it?

After Am Yisrael left Egypt and Moshe Rabbeinu ascended to heaven in order to bring the Torah, a big argument took place between Moshe Rabbeinu and the angels. The angels argued: can a person coming from the world of falsehood receive the Torah which is entirely truth? Moshe claimed that since we live in a world of falsehood, we need the Torah to guide us to truth, because if not for the Torah, a person would be totally in the dark.

We see how false our world is since Enosh the grandson of Adam Harishon. Adam Harishon begot Shet and Shet begot Enosh. Already in the time of Enosh there was idolatry in the world. It is truly amazing. If Enosh would have reflected a bit who his grandfather was, he would have recognized the Creator of the World, since then everything began. After all, Adam's father was Hashem, so how come in the days of his grandson there were already people worshipping idols and they did not recognize their Creator? The reason for this is because our world is called the world of falsehood. A person does not recognize Hashem even when it is obvious. This is what the angels argued with Moshe – that one cannot bring the Torah to such a world. But Moshe argued back that the Torah is imperative. Since the world is so false, a person is dependent on Torah in order to straighten his ways.

Here in this world we cannot fathom the World to Come. Chazal say (Avot 4:17), "Better one hour of spiritual bliss in the World to Come than the entire life of This World" If we would take all the pleasures of this world that a man enjoys for many years, it is not worth as much as one hour in the World to Come.

The World to Come is called truth and this world is called falsehood. Certainly one who grasps the Torah possesses truth, but the Yetzer Hara has the ability to portray falsehood as truth. A wealthy man cannot know what poverty is; only if he himself would be poor he would know the meaning of it. It is told about the gaon and tzaddik, Rabbi Chaim of Sanz, zt"l, who was entirely immersed in learning Torah and rose to take a sefer. As he walked, a blanket he had covered himself with touched the candle he was learning by and went up in flame. His attendant noticed the fire and he ran over and threw a blanket over his Rabbi to extinguish the fire. The Rabbi, zy"a, rebuked him sharply for interrupting his learning. He was so absorbed in learning; he did not notice the fire. Such total absorption is able to bring a person to truth.

In contrast, some time ago I visited a woman who was injured by a wall that fell on her during an earthquake. I asked her, "You didn't notice that there was an earthquake?" and she said, "No." I asked her, "How did you not feel the earthquake?" She explained that on that day she had received a shipment of diamonds and she was so busy with them that she did not notice what was going on around her. We see from this that whatever a person is involved in, that is the world he lives in. A person engaged in truth lives in a world of truth, and he will be totally absorbed in it like the tzaddik Rabbi Chaim of Sanz, zy"a. Conversely, a person absorbed in the world of falsehood, will be so engrossed in it that even during an earthquake, he will not be aware of what is going on.

Thus, Yakov and Eisav both grew up in the very same house, but Yakov was an innocent man, dwelling in tents. The World to Come is called "tent" and also This World is called a tent. In the plural tense, "ohel" (tent) is "ohalim", and it is said about Yakov that he dwelled in the "ohalim" (tents), since regarding Yakov also this world was a world of truth, just as the World to Come. Consequently, Yakov dwelled in two tents, which refer to two worlds, since both of them were considered by him worlds of truth. But really, life in this world is not easy.

Although Yakov and Eisav were indeed born in the same house, etc., Yakov chose to live in the world of truth. On the other hand, Eisav concluded that if Hashem created so many pleasures in His world, then obviously they were meant to be enjoyed, and that is the truth. We need to understand, that if Hashem wants us to live a spiritual life, then why did He create such an alluring world? We can explain this by reflecting that Hashem granted us free choice. He placed us in a world where on one hand one can achieve exalted spiritual levels by using all our resources to glorify Hashem, and on the other hand, one can live an absolutely materialistic life and descend to the lowest levels.

The Haftarah

The haftarah of the week: "And Yonatan said to him, "Tomorrow is the new moon" (Shmuel I 20)

The connection to the parashah: This Shabbat is a Shabbat that is followed on the next day by Rosh Chodesh Kislev, so therefore the haftarah is read which mentions "tomorrow is the new moon."

Guard Your Tongue

Accepting Rechilus

If he finds out that what he was told about someone who spoke about him, or did something against his will, is true, this matter should be judged favorably, as it is known that it is a mitzvah to judge his fellow favorably and give him the benefit of the doubt. By not judging him favorably, he is committing an injustice, and is considered like one who "accepts Rechilus."

Walking in Their Ways

A Burdensome Responsibility

One Shabbat, I spoke in the Beit Hakeneset about the middah of bitachon in Hashem. I said that it is crucial for us to constantly feel Hashem walking beside us. Our problems are His. All that we must do is cast our bundle upon Him and trust that He will bring salvation, as the pasuk states (Tehillim 55:23), “Cast upon Hashem your burden and He will sustain you; He will not allow the righteous to stumble.”

A few days later, I met a Jew who had been beset by a certain problem. I asked him how he was doing and if he had settled his quandary.

He replied that, Baruch Hashem, he had no more problems. When I asked how he had resolved his issue, he replied, “Honored Rav, didn’t you tell us this past Shabbat that all of our problems are really Hashem’s? That being the case, I spoke to Him candidly and said, ‘Ribbono shel Olam, my problem is really Yours. Please solve it in the best way possible.’ I have complete faith that Hashem will settle my problem quickly and easily. As far as I am concerned, the matter is over and done with.”

I encouraged this man in the matter of trust in Hashem. I added that Chazal tell us that when a Jew does not feel well, Hashem, as it were, suffers with him. This is the meaning of the verse (ibid. 91:15) “I am with him in distress.” When we internalize this message, we increase our bitachon, and we merit salvation.

Words of Our Sages

"It came to pass when Isaac was old, and his eyes were too dim to see" (Bereishit 27:1)

Chazal say that the gift of atonement through suffering is a gift we received in the merit of Yitzchak Avinu: "Yitzchak said; Master of the World, if a person dies without suffering, the attribute of justice is against him." Hashem said: "By your life! Your claim is right, and I will start with you."

The Maggid of Yerushalayim, Rabbi Shabtai Yudelevitz, zt"l, told a story about a man who experienced much agony and various ailments. Diseases plagued him and his family, he did not manage to make a profitable living, and other hardships befell him in his lifetime.

One day, he decided that he would travel to the tzaddik, the mekubal Rabbi Shalom Sharabi, zt"l, in order to ask him what he should do to lighten his burden. When he arrived at his house, he was asked by the Rabbi's wife to wait until the Rabbi was available.

The man sat down, and because he was exhausted from his trip, he fell into a deep sleep. In his dream, he saw himself in heaven and there was a long desolate road before him. Not a single soul was in sight and there was absolute silence. Suddenly he heard a loud noise behind him, and the noise was coming closer to him. Then, a large chariot full of snow-white angels overtook him, and raced by him quickly, disappearing in the horizon. Again all was silent and the man continued on his way. When the white convoy of angels ended, a huge convoy of chariots carrying horrible black angels began to pass him by. This aroused his curiosity, and he accelerated his steps until he reached the center of the square where huge scales stood, and they began to climb into them.

The man did not comprehend what was going on, until he was informed that this was the Heavenly Court, and presently a person was being judged. The angels climbing onto the scale were created by the mitzvot and the transgressions that he did during his lifetime. When a person performs a mitzvah perfectly, a large white heavy angel is created. However, when the mitzvah is not done perfectly, a flawed angel is created with missing limbs and is thin and slender. The same is true of the angels who were created from acts of transgressions. Those angels that were created by transgressions committed intentionally or with great pleasure are seen here as big and heavy. In contrast, the angels created by sins done unintentionally are thin and small.

He noticed that it was written on each angel which mitzvah or sin he performed. On the chariots in which the white angels sat it was written: Prayer, honoring one's father and mother, loving-kindness, observance of Shabbat, and so on. And on the chariots of the black angels it was written: Lashon hara, desecration of Shabbat, theft, jealousy and so on.

While angels were climbing onto the scale, the man asked to know who was the person being judged. When he was told that he himself was being tried, he was shocked and appalled to see that all the angels were already in position on the scale, and the weight was tipped by the black angels. He knew for sure that if this would be the final result, he would be judged as a wicked man and he began to tremble in fear.

Then he heard an announcement asking, "Are there any angels left?" The answer was, "No!"

Once again he heard the announcement: Perhaps this Jew experienced hardships during his lifetime? If so, they can be added to his favor. Immediately, there appeared a large chariot of angels created by the suffering and grief he endured, and for every hardship he experienced, some black angels were removed from the scale.

When the angels of hardships finished, he saw that the scale was still tipped toward the transgressions, and he understood that his situation was critical. Shortly his verdict would be announced and the scale was tipped against him. In his distress, a loud cry escaped his lips begging: "Please send me some more hardships!"

The man woke up from the sound of his own shouts, and when he realized that it was all a dream, he got up and headed for the door. The Rabbi's wife called after him: "Did you want to speak with the Rabbi?" He replied: "There is no longer any need. I received the answer from Heaven"…

Chazak U'Baruch

We learned previously that brotherly love and the complete redemption are intertwined and cannot be separated. This idea was already realized during the redemption from Egypt, the first redemption of the Jewish people and the redemption which forged them into a nation.

When Hashem asked Moshe to speak in His Name to Bnei Yisrael and to redeem them from Egypt, where they had been enslaved for hundreds of years – Moshe responds by saying (Shemot 4:13): But he said, "I beseech You, O Lord, send now [Your message] with whom You would send." Chazal explain in the midrash that when Moshe took the leadership and Aharon the priesthood, they did not hate one another, but were happy with each other's greatness. We should be aware that when Hashem told Moshe to go on his mission to Pharaoh, and he said, "send now [Your message] with whom You would send;" why do you think he did not want to go? It is because he respected Aharon! Moshe said: Until I was not appointed, Aharon my brother prophesied in Egypt to the people for eighty years. All these years Aharon my brother would prophecy and now I should compete with my brother and cause him grief? This is why he did not what to go."

Hashem said to Moshe: Aharon does not mind! Not only are you not causing him grief, but on the contrary, he is overjoyed! You should know, he was told: "Behold, he is coming forth toward you, and when he sees you, he will rejoice in his heart." It does not state that he spoke happily, or that he was just happy, but he rejoiced in his heart. When Moshe heard this, he agreed to go."

Maran Rabbi Shach, zt"l, comments that this is awesome.

Moshe is presented with a great mitzvah, that through him the redemption for all the Jews from Egypt would come about, and Hashem personally commands him to do so! Nevertheless, Moshe refuses to accept the mission because of his fear that his brother Aharon would be offended and pained. In other words, Moshe Rabbeinu understood that when there is a risk of offending others, the Torah obligates one to refrain from accepting Hashem's mission.

Moshe knew very well that to offend others and the redemption of Bnei Yisrael was a contradiction. It is inconceivable that the redemption would come by lowering the dignity of his fellow! Therefore, Moshe said to Hashem:

Master of the World, if as a result of my mission I will offend Aharon, it is clear that my efforts will not bring about the redemption for Bnei Yisrael. Thus Hashem revealed to Moshe Rabbeinu: You are mistaken in believing that your mission will offend Aharon your brother. Not at all! Moreover, not only will your mission not offend him, but it will cause him to rejoice in his heart. Consequently, it will not prevent the redemption.

Therefore, if we wish to merit the final redemption, we have no choice but to learn the immortal lesson, which has never changed. It is the lesson learned in the days of Moshe Rabbeinu and is true for all generations: We must love one another and distance ourselves greatly from baseless hatred. Only when we will rectify the sins for which we were exiled, we will merit the final redemption and the building of the Beit Hamikdash, speedily and in our days, Amen!


Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

The blessing of Yitzchak to Eisav

"And make for me tasty foods as I like, and bring them to me, and I will eat, in order that my soul will bless you before I die" (Bereishit 27:4)

Yitzchak Avinu turns to Eisav his son and asks him to go out to the field and hunt an animal for him and prepare tasty dishes for him as he likes. It is puzzling why Yitzchak asked for "tasty foods as I like." Did Yitzchak, who was holy and removed from all vanities of this world, desire tasty and rich delicacies?

Moreover, Yitzchak told Eisav to sharpen the knife before he went hunting for him. If Yitzchak trusted Eisav, his son, to bring him kosher food, why did he warn him to sharpen the knife? And if Yitzchak really did not trust Eisav, why did he ask him to go hunt game for him without fearing that Eisav would feed him non-kosher meat?

Yitzchak wanted to bless his son Eisav, and he also wanted Hashem to agree to the blessings and shower him with abundance. In order for the blessing to take effect, Yitzchak asked him to trouble himself for his sake and prepare tasty food, because the more Eisav would trouble himself to prepare the meal, this would increase his merits for him to be blessed. Yitzchak did not request delicacies because he desired good food, but only because he wanted to increase Eisav's merits, and consequently Hashem would consent to the blessings and they would materialize.

This is why Yitzchak asked Eisav to sharpen the knife. The entire reason for troubling Eisav was to increase his merits so that the blessings would materialize. We can learn a lesson from this that one wishes for his blessings to materialize, he must be meticulous in observing all the details of the mitzvah and not to be negligent in performing it. As we know, an angel is created from every mitzvah we perform, and the more perfectly it is performed, the angel created will be more complete. If, G-d forbid, the mitzvah is performed absent-mindedly or carelessly, the angel created will be flawed and missing limbs. Thus, after 120 years, all the angels created from the mitzvot a person performed gather together and come to testify before the Heavenly Court how the deceased had observed them. The more complete the angel is; the greater is his reward. 

Yitzchak Avinu was not afraid his son would feed him non-kosher meat because Eisav knew that the more meticulously he would perform the mitzvah, the more he would merit blessing. Since Eisav wanted the blessings very much, Yitzchak was sure that his son would trouble himself to prepare the food perfectly. And even if he would not slaughter properly according to the Torah laws, Yitzchak Avinu knew that Hashem protects his faithful servants from any mishap, as it is stated (Shmuel I 2:9), "The feet of His pious ones He will guard."

Men of Faith

Rabbi Chaim Hakatan’s extraordinary efforts to assist the poor and needy made him popular among the people. They sensed that all his actions were entirely for the sake of Heaven. Whoever searched for the tzaddik knew that he would be found among the poor and wretched people. He would spend time talking to them, offering words of encouragement so that they would not become depressed, but continue serving Hashem joyously. He also tried to influence the wealthy people not to neglect giving tzedaka.

During the chagim, and especially before Pesach, when expenses were greater than usual, Rabbi Chaim did not hesitate to burden the wealthy people with supporting the impoverished people. Prior to Pesach, Rabbi Chaim Pinto would go from house to house, asking everyone to open their hearts and pockets to give charity and gladden the hearts of the poor people, widows, and orphans for the upcoming chag. In this way, they could also rejoice during the festival, and the happiness of Am Yisrael would be complete. 

Anyone who donated money for charity merited the blessings of the tzaddik, issued from his holy mouth and from the depths of his pure heart.

However, the prominent people of the city did not take kindly to Rabbi Chaim sitting among the poor and needy people. But Rabbi Chaim would patiently explain to them that in order to understand a poor person's plight, one must actually put themselves in their place and sit among them, and only then can he truly understand how necessary it is to assist the poor and wretched Jews. Fortunate is he and fortunate is his portion. Who can replace him?

An interesting testimony was given by R’ Yeshua, the attendant of Rabbi Chaim Hakatan, about the daily schedule of the tzaddik. This is what he said:

I would go to his house early in the morning and already find him praying in the Beit Hakeneset, on the top floor. After praying, Rabbi Chaim went downstairs to his wife and asked her what she planned to cook that day. He would give her a sum of money to purchase the necessary provisions and then, immediately went on his way, going from house to house to collect money to distribute to the poor people of the city.

His feet literally led him to the houses of the sick, poor, and needy. He shopped for them himself. In every home that he visited, he would be offered some food, and he would make sure to always taste a bit. He told me to eat in every place.

I asked him, “Harav, how much can I eat?” He answered me, “You are still young; you can eat. If they offer you food, you may not humiliate them by refusing to eat in their home.”

In this manner, the tzaddik would walk for hours, going from one end of the city to the other, in order to practice kindness and charity. This was his custom in his young years, and he continued doing so until old age.

At night, the tzaddik would engage in tikkunim and in the study of the holy Torah. “Who may ascend the mountain of Hashem, and who may stand in the place of His sanctity? One with clean hands and a pure heart.”

Food for Thought

Which outfit shall we wear today?

"And Rivkah took the costly garments of Eisav, her elder son, which were with her in the house, and she dressed Jacob, her younger son". (Bereishit 27:15)

Rabbi Naftali of Rupshitz, zy"a, said:

Let us contemplate how greatly one is influenced by the clothes he wears!

It was not coincidental that Rivkah gave Yakov the costly garments of Eisav. Since it was difficult for Yakov to utter a lie, since his nature was to be truthful, as it is stated, "You shall give the truth of Yakov," Rivkah dressed him in Eisav's clothes. And when a person dresses like Eisav, he himself begins to somewhat resemble Eisav, and then he may say crooked things…


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