January 27th, 2018

11th of Shvat 5778


Divine Providence

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

"And Moshe stretched out his hand over the sea, and the L-rd led the sea with the strong east wind all night, and He made the sea into dry land and the waters split. Then the children of Israel came into the midst of the sea on dry land, and the waters were to them as a wall from their right and from their left" (Shemot 14:21-22)

A short time after Am Yisrael left Egypt, they found themselves in a precarious predicament, since the Egyptians were pursuing them, and to their right was the vast sea, while on their left they faced a desert. Bnei Yisrael tried with all their might to escape the Egyptians, but wherever they turned, they found themselves trapped, and they could not escape to the right or the left. Am Yisrael cried to Moshe in desperation and begged for help. Moshe Rabbeinu saw that the nation was in danger, and he turned to Hashem in prayer, pleading for Him to save Bnei Yisrael, so that the nations of the world would not say that Hashem took Bnei Yisrael out of Egypt just to have them killed in the Wilderness, because He was unable to bring them to Eretz Yisrael, G-d forbid.

Hashem heard the cries of His nation and told Moshe to stretch his hand over the Sea and then the waters would split before them, and Am Yisrael would be able to pass through on dry land. Moshe Rabbeinu did as Hashem commanded him and the unbelievable occurred; the stormy waters of the Sea stood still, forming a wall to the right and to the left of Bnei Yisrael. There are those who maintain that the Sea split into twelve paths, and each and every tribe crossed the Sea on his designated path.

One who contemplates it may wonder where all the waters of the Sea disappeared to. It is known that in 2005 the entire world was appalled by the massive tsunami that struck the Asian countries. High waves rose to an enormous height and washed everything in their way. Also during the Splitting of the Sea the waters stood at an enormous height, but yet they did not wash away the Jewish Nation as they passed through the waters. This is an incredible wonder, especially after witnessing the destructive consequences of the rising tide when a special miracle did not occur, and the resulting tsunami wreaked havoc.

There is no doubt that the devastation of the tsunami demonstrated to all the people of the world that G-d controls nature, and the moment that Hashem removes His Divine Providence from the shores and does not command it, as is stated (Tehillim 104:9): "You set a boundary that they should not cross," then everyone immediately sees what happens.

Many stories were heard following the natural disaster that occurred in Asia. After hearing one of them, I said to myself that there is no doubt Hashem wanted to arouse us to notice His Divine Providence. In the zoo in Sri Lanka there are many lions and elephants, and also many rabbits. Just fifteen minutes before the waves of the tsunami reached the zoo, it was entirely empty, since all the animals on instinct fled the place, while people did not understand what was happening. The animals possess sharp instincts for avoiding danger in time, and consequently they fled and were saved. It is absolutely forbidden for us to hear such a story and remain unmoved. I think that the fact that the animals were saved while the people died proves what Chazal say (Sanhedrin 38a), that when Hashem created Adam, He said to him, although the animals and livestock were created one day prior to you, this does not imply that they are more important than man. It is only as long as man cleaves to Hashem and His Torah; however, when man abandons Torah and mitzvot, the animals are considered more important than him and they even have an added advantage that they were created a day before man. We see how Hashem fulfilled His words and granted the animals sharpened instincts to flee from danger, while the people were not endowed with this sense, which shows that people have to correct their ways and return to Hashem in order to merit salvation.

The flood came to the world because the entire earth had become corrupt. Hashem demonstrated to the world that when there is a lack of modesty, He removes His Divine Providence and then the harsh consequences follow. It is sad to see how people try to explain the disaster scientifically and consequently deny that everything comes from Above as punishment for the deplorable immorality that is prevalent in those areas, as it is stated (Devarim 23:15) "For the Lord, your God, goes along in the midst of your camp, to rescue you and to deliver your enemies before you. [Therefore,] your camp shall be holy, so that He should not see anything unseemly among you and would turn away from you."

Guard Your Tongue

If a rumor is spread about a person that he either did something wrong or spoke inappropriately according to the Torah, whether it is a severe prohibition or a light prohibition, it is forbidden to believe it, but one may only exercise caution until the matter is clarified.

The Haftarah

The haftarah of the week: "Now Devorah sang" (Shoftim 5)

The connection to the parashah: The haftarah relates about the fall of Sisera and his soldiers, and the shirah of the prophetess Devorah and Barak the son of Avinoam, describing the miracle of their salvation from their enemies, which is similar to the parashah, which describes the fall of the wicked Pharaoh and the drowning of all his soldiers in the depths of the Sea, followed by the shirah of Moshe Rabbeinu and Bnei Yisrael, recounting the miracles at the Sea.

Words of our Sages

We are not paying only for the cold soda

"And Israel saw the great Hand, which the L-rd had used upon Egypt" (Shemot 14:31)

There was an interesting question brought before the Rabbi of Yerushalayim, Rabbi Shmuel Salant, zy"a, and the story was as follows: A resident of Yerushalayim in those days was walking on the street on a very hot summer day, and suddenly felt very thirsty. He looked for a store to buy a cold drink to quench his thirst. He came upon the store of Rabbi Zalman, which was an elegant restaurant. He sat down and ordered a cold cup of soda, recited a blessing over it, and drank to his heart's content. When he got up to pay, he received a fancy bill of a few lirot. He was outraged and argued: What did I order already? Just a cup of cold drink. Is it justified to ask for such a high price?

But Rabbi Zalman, the owner of the restaurant, replied: This is not a regular kiosk, but this is a restaurant where people sit, make orders, and receive an elegant serving on the table. For all this one must pay accordingly.

But the person shot back: "I don't know what you you're talking about. I was just thirsty and drank a cup of cold soda. I did not imagine I would have to pay such an inflated price!"

The two of them went to the Rabbi of Yerushalayim, Rabbi Shmuel Salant, to present their arguments so that he should decide the matter.

The man began his story that he was just very thirsty and then he saw Rabbi Zalman's store and ordered a cup of soda, assuming that it would cost a few cents. However, in the end, he got a bill for a few lirot…

On the other hand, Rabbi Zalman, the owner of the restaurant countered: My store is not a regular shop for selling drinks. I own a fancy restaurant decorated with curtains, with tables and chairs, where beautiful glass cups are served by a waiter, and there is air conditioning to make the setting pleasant, etc. So when a person drinks a cup of soda by me, he does not only pay for the "soda", but he also pays for the convenience and the service and the lovely setting…

The tzaddik Rabbi Shmuel ruled that the owner of the restaurant was right and added: Now I understand what the Sages meant when they established the blessing of "Through Whose word everything came to be," to be recited before taking a drink. Why is this blessing specifically recited? Because Chazal wished to teach us that when a person takes a cup of water, he may think to himself, "What's so great about this drink? It is only a cup of plain water." So specifically then one must recite the blessing and declare "Through Whose word everything came to be," because you are not just reciting a blessing over the water, you are actually making a blessing for the fact that you are alive altogether, and that you are able to drink, and have a hand that can hold the cup; you bless Hashem that the water gets absorbed properly in an incredible way in your body that Hashem created for you – you recite that e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g came to be through His word – for your entire existence and surroundings, which enable you to hold the cup of water and drink. All this came through the might and word of Hashem!

Likewise, the author of the "Sefat Emet" explains the words of the verse, "And Israel saw the great hand, which the Lord had used upon Egypt." It seems that it should have stated, "And Israel saw the great hand, which the L-rd had used upon the Egyptians," since they were no longer in Egypt, but were at the Sea.

The explanation is that only now, when Hashem split the Sea for the people, they saw the mighty Hand of Hashem, and the Gates of Heaven opened before them, so they understood that also everything they had experienced back in Egypt was from Hashem; down to every trivial frustration and annoyance which they had endured.

That is why it is stated, "And Israel saw the great Hand, which the L-rd had used upon Egypt," because only now they understood that everything they had endured in Egypt actually stemmed from the "great Hand of the L-rd."

Walking in Their Ways

A Silent Prayer

After the hilula of the tzaddik, Rabbi Chaim Pinto, zy”a, Mr. Shmuel Myara approached me. He was an admirer of my father and asked for my blessing. I blessed him in the merit of my holy forefathers and instructed him to become stronger in Torah study and mitzvah observance. He was very moved by my blessing and resolved to improve in his Avodat Hashem. Then he left my room, but after a moment, he returned.

Before he had a chance to open his mouth, I said, “Do not ask me for anything. Whatever you desire has been approved on High. You must believe this, just as I do.”

Mr. Myara was a staunch believer in Hashem. He did not even attempt to clarify what I thought he had wanted to ask, and did not question how I knew that his prayer had been answered, even though it had never been uttered.

Several months later, his wife gave birth to twins. On the day of the brit, Mr. Myara happily related to the participants the incident with my blessing. He had wanted to ask that he merit having two children within the year. Here, he and his wife merited just that, in a most unnatural turn of events. His family had no precedence of twins, and his wife had not undergone treatment which would have resulted in twins. Nevertheless, when Hashem decides that someone should have twins, twins it will be.

When a person is close to Hashem and subjects himself to His desire, his prayers soar heavenward, even if they are only in the realm of thought.


Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

Abnegation allows the maintenance of the world

"The L-rd said to Moshe, Why do you cry out to Me? Speak to the children of Israel and let them travel" (Shemot 14:15)

This seems puzzling. We know that when a person finds himself in trouble, he immediately turns to Hashem and cries and pleads for salvation. If so, why did Hashem tell Moshe, "Why do you cry out to Me?" We can explain that since Hashem told Moshe, "(ibid. 14:14) "The L-rd will fight for you, but you shall remain silent," it signifies that Bnei Yisrael has to aspire to reach this lofty level of trusting Hashem so implicitly that He will help them, that they do not need to cry out to Him. So Hashem said to Moshe, "You, who are the leader of Am Yisrael, must practice the words you preach and serve as a personal example. If you ask Bnei Yisrael to remain silent and trust that Hashem will save you, then why cry out to Me? By crying out you contradict what you just told the people about remaining silent.

The miracle did not come easily for Am Yisrael. This was in order to teach the people that the world is dependent upon Torah, and the self-sacrifice necessary to sustain the Torah. When this is absent, it is not simple to change the order of nature. In fact, when Nachshon ben Aminadav risked his life and jumped into the Sea, the Sea immediately became still and split into two (Sota 37a). The conduct of Nachshon ben Aminadav demonstrated self-sacrifice, which accompanies the sustenance of Torah. Since Am Yisrael's entire merit for salvation was because they were about to receive the Torah, when they additionally demonstrated self-sacrifice, immediately the Sea became still.

The commentaries (Ohr Hachaim Shemot 14:27) ask: How did the Sea dare to continue rushing and did not split immediately after it had been conditioned at the six days of Creation that it would split to allow Bnei Yisrael to pass through it? We may explain that the Sea's unwillingness to split was because of Am Yisrael's unwillingness to enter the Sea, signifying a lack in self-sacrifice. The unwillingness of the Sea to split aroused the nation to repent over this matter, and indeed, Nachshon ben Aminadav was the first to do so, and after him all of Bnei Yisrael followed.

We learn the lesson from the Splitting of the Sea that no supernatural miracles are wrought without merits. In order for a person to merit a miracle, he has to earn it by a virtue that will advocate in his favor. Only then will Hashem change the order of nature for him and turn his fate for the better.

Chazak U'Baruch

The virtue of "unconditional love" is all encompassing and it is hard to define how much one must practice it in order to acquire the trait. It is especially difficult to list conditions whereby it can be achieved, because it is termed "unconditional." The following is a story that can shed light on how one can overcome their base nature and love their fellow Jew unconditionally.

The gaon Rabbi Moshe Lorincz, the son of Rabbi Shlomo Lorincz, zt"l, relates (the story is brought in the "Kol Beramah" pamphlet) a most remarkable story about his father. Aside from being a Torah scholar in his own right, and remaining a member of the yeshiva all his life, he was a famous representative of the religious Jews in the Knesset, serving the great Torah sages of the generation, who greatly admired him.

The story took place after he retired from his position in the Knesset and devoted his entire day to studying Torah:

My father, zt"l, prayed regularly at the yeshiva of Torah Ohr, which is near his home, and the Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Sheinberg, zt"l, placed him at the front row, befitting his esteemed prominence. One Shabbat morning, when Rabbi Lorincz came to the yeshiva to pray and sat in the front row as ususal, one of the congregants, who apparently did not know that the Rosh Yeshiva had placed Rabbi Lorincz there, loudly censured Rabbi Lorincz for taking the honor for himself and sitting in the place designated for important staff members of the yeshiva.

The man was so furious that he demanded that Rabbi Lorincz leave the front row and sit among the ordinary people at once. With great humility, Rabbi Lorincz did not say a word, but rose and left the front row to sit on an ordinary seat.

When he returned home, he told his family about what happened, but not, Heaven forbid, to shame the person. He told it for another reason. In fact, just the opposite. "When I observed the face of the man who humiliated me in public, I saw that he was in great distress, and as a result of his deep pain, he poured out his anger at me."

"I implore you," Rabbi Lorincz begged his family, "to investigate what is troubling him, and tell me so that I can help alleviate his distress as much as possible."

"Perhaps he is experiencing financial difficulties, or family feud, or the like. Go find out what the matter is and inform me exactly about his problem."

The members of the household were stunned at the request of such a tzaddik. Not only was he not hurt by the terrible humility that he endured because of this man, but he was even interested in helping him! Of course, they fulfilled their father's request, and set out to investigate the matter. Soon they discovered the man's problem and Rabbi Lorincz volunteered to assist him in an indirect manner, so that the person would not know who had helped him.

After reflecting upon this story, we reach the conclusion that the person we are discussing is one who did not become arrogant after having served in such a prominent position for many years, and he did not lose his equanimity.

The exemplary conduct of Rabbi Lorincz serves as a living example of how we should behave. The choice is given to man. One choice Rabbi Lorincz had was to live a heavenly life of virtuousness and sympathize with other people's difficulties, extending himself for others. He also had the other choice of living in gehinom on this earth, while behaving arrogantly and becoming irritated by anyone who dared to disgrace him. Rabbi Lorincz chose the first option.

Food for Thought

Adhering to the tzaddik brings salvation

Bnei Yisrael stood at the seashore, while Moshe Rabbeinu commanded them to proceed, and they did as they were told. Rashi points this out as their praise; they listened to Moshe's command and did not argue that it was risky to near to their pursuers instead of running away, but instead they said: We have no other recourse other than following the instructions of the son of Amram!

The virtue of having "emunah" in our sages is not possible to acquire unless a person appreciates the supreme loftiness of Torah scholars. He must recognize their great sanctity and their unique qualities, and only then he can enjoy their shining light and follow their instructions.

There is a story of a barren woman who pleaded with the Admor of Vizhnitz (the author of the Imrei Baruch) that he should bless her with a child. She was not satisfied with only a blessing, but demanded an explicit promise. Without it, she would not leave the room!

The Rabbi promised her. Her faith was so strong, that she immediately went to shop for the baby's wardrobe…

Indeed, a year later she gave birth. They came to tell the Rebbe the good news. He said: "You think that it was my miracle? Her faith in tzaddikim is what granted her a child!"

Men of Faith

There was great excitement in the Loyb household when their dear daughter became engaged. The wedding preparations began in a flurry. R’ Avraham Loyb, the father of the kallah took care of all the chuppah and kiddushin matters. The mother shouldered the responsibility for purchasing the dowry with dedication and joy.

A few weeks before the wedding, a thief broke into their house and stole the entire dowry of the kallah. Mrs. Loyb despaired. Their financial situation was very strained, and it was only through great effort that they had managed to save enough money to procure a dowry for their daughter. If their situation would become known to the chatan, he might break off the engagement.

Anxiously, Mrs. Loyb turned to Rabbi Chaim Hakatan and asked him to pray for their salvation and that the dowry should be returned to them. Rabbi Chaim reassured her that in the merit of Rabbi Chaim Hagadol the thief would be caught, and the entire dowry would be returned to her.

Every day, the tzaddik would reassure Mrs. Loyb that the thief would be caught and the entire dowry would be returned. Several days passed, and the family despaired of finding the dowry.

The thief himself would come each day to Rabbi Chaim, offering him money that he should pray for his “success.” Rabbi Chaim would take his money, which came from an impure source, and would place it in a separate bundle, waiting to return it to its owner when the right time came.

Several days later, the thief was caught red-handed. He was trying to leave the city with all the goods that he had stolen. He was sent to prison, and the entire dowry was returned to the Loyb family. The preparations for the wedding resumed with great joy.

Meanwhile, Rabbi Chaim met with the prison wardens and interceded on the thief’s behalf, negotiating for his release. After the thief promised to change his evil ways and do complete teshuvah, Rabbi Chaim even signed as a guarantor that he would never steal again. In the end, the thief was released from prison.


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