August 31st, 2019

30th of Av 5779



Emunah Leads to Yirat Shamayim

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

"Now, O Israel, what does Hashem, your G-d, ask of you? Only to fear Hashem, your G-d, to go in all His ways and to love Him" (Devarim 10:12)

"Only to fear" – Rashi clarifies these words: "Our Sages expound from here, 'Everything is in the Hands of Heaven, besides for fear of Heaven."

Moshe told Bnei Yisrael that everything which Hashem requests from them depends on yirat shamayim (fear of G-d) and once they have acquired yirat shamayim, they will be successful in achieving all other qualities. Based on this, the Gemara (Berachot 32b) asks: "Is fear of Heaven a small matter and something easy to achieve?" From the way in which Moshe addressed Bnei Yisrael, it appears that yirat shamayim is something simple and easy to acquire. Yet how can we say this when our Sages have told us, "Everything is in the hands of Heaven besides fear of Heaven"? The Gemara answers that indeed for Moshe Rabbeinu yirat shamayim was something easy and simple to achieve and this is the reason why he addressed Bnei Yisrael using that connotation.

However, it seems that the Gemara's question has not really been answered. Although Moshe merited achieving yirat shamyim without difficulty, he is now talking to the Bnei Yisrael who are standing on a completely different level. If so, why did he not address them using language which was suitable for their level and attainment?

On contemplation, it is clear that all of a person's desires, for example finding a soul mate, ample income, health, marital harmony, nachat from one's children, success and blessings – all solely rest in Hashem's Hand. Concerning finding one's soul mate we are told (Soteh 2a): "[Finding] one's destined soul mate is as difficult as the splitting of the Red Sea". Just as when Bnei Yisrael were standing at the water's edge with the Egyptians close behind them, Hashem saved His people and split the sea, so too when seeking one's soul mate, it is Hashem Himself who splits the person's personal sea, eliminates all his challenges and presents him with his designated marriage partner.

Referring to a person's income, Chazal tell us (Pesachim 118a and Avodah Zara 3b)) that Hashem sustains and provides for every single thing – "from the horns of re'eimim to the eggs of lice". We are also told, (Tehillim 55:23): "Cast upon Hashem your burden and He will sustain you". Even though it appears to be that the extent of our income is due to our own power, talents and effort, this is not the case. It is Hashem alone who directs a person's parnassah and decides if he will make a living plentifully or pitifully.

I am familiar with many people who were extremely wealthy, yet suddenly in one day they lost all their assets. On the other hand, I know many people who were extremely poor and just putting bread on the table entailed great difficulty, yet in one moment the wheel turned and a large sum of money fell into their laps. If we try to give this phenomenon any kind of rational or natural explanation, we will not be successful, since there is no logical rationalization for this chain of events. This brings us to the conclusion that the key to parnassah is found in Hashem's Hands.

When we require a cure for an illness, we pray to Hashem, "Heal us, Hashem – then we will be healed; save us – then we will be saved", since the key to life and healing is in Hashem's Hands alone and He is the One decides if the sick person will recover from his illness and merit life or perhaps die. This is true with every area in life; every single event and cause is determined by Hashem who created the world. Everything belongs to Him, besides the matter of yirat shamyim which is dependent on a person's own efforts and desires. This being the case, we need to understand how, when Moshe told the Bnei Yisrael that Hashem only asks of them to fear Him, he used an expression that implies that achieving the special quality of yirat shamayim, which is attained through a person's own efforts alone, is easy and a simple matter to achieve?

The following idea suggests an answer to this difficulty: Immediately upon awakening in the morning, a person must recite the "Modeh Ani" prayer. "I gratefully thank You, O living and eternal King, for You have returned my soul within me with compassion – abundant is Your faithfulness!"

This recitation is a confirmation that when we fall asleep at night, our soul goes up to heaven and is deposited in Hashem's Hands and out of His mercy and compassion for us, He returns it to us in the morning. Declaring one's gratitude every single morning serves to sharpen our awareness and understanding that Hashem is the One who created us with wisdom, insight and discernment, and therefore all that happens to a person and all the actions that he carries out, are all from Hashem's power. This is exactly what the Navi Yirmiyahu (Eichah 3:23) is implying in the verse: "They are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness!" When a person's soul is returned to him in the morning, this immediately renews his faith in Hashem who in His compassion returns his soul to him.

Since we recite the "Modeh Ani" prayer on a daily basis anew, the frequent repetition can cloud our senses and weaken our awe. But if we step back for a moment and contemplate how we merited receiving our souls back after a night of sleep which is considered one sixtieth of death, this will serve to heighten our faith in Hashem and our love of Him.

When a person develops his faith in Hashem, that same faith brings him to yirat shamayim which is in fact the fear of sin. Contemplating our soul's journey strengthens our faith which then arouses fear of G-d, and as a result this leads to fear of sin. It follows that in order to cultivate our yirat shamayim, it is fitting for us to recite the "Modeh Ani" prayer every morning with great concentration and to consider the depth and implication of the words. This idea is indeed something simple and easy, therefore Moshe Rabbeinu was correct in telling the Bnei Yisrael that yirat shamayim is a virtue that can be acquired easily.

Walking in Their Ways

Catalyst for Return

Some time ago one of the talmidim that we merited to return to Jewish observance, became engaged to a young lady who was far from mitzvah observance. I told the talmid that this will definitely affect their marriage, since the fact that his intended does not observe mitzvot and lacks yirat shamayim, is a sure recipe for arguments and lack of marital harmony. I requested that the talmid send his bride to a seminar so that she could sample a taste of Torah, after which we will reconsider if she is truly a fitting partner for him.

We also decided that his bride will be a guest at my home for two Shabbatot, during which I will be able to observe if she is open to change and to the idea of coming closer to Jewish observance.

On that first Shabbat, I made Kiddush, we sang zemirot and danced a bit with the children, told over Torah thoughts from the weekly parsha - seemingly the pattern of a normal Shabbat se'udah.

Suddenly I noticed that the bride's eyes were suspiciously bright and tears started falling down her cheeks. She sighed and exclaimed, "How sweet is the Torah!"

Later on, during the se'udah, I noticed that she was very moved, and indeed she turned to me and asked, "Is this Judaism?" She explained that until now she imagined that being a Rav, I must be a stern person who does not know how to sing and who relates to his children in a firm manner. Yet now she came face to face with the idea that the opposite is in fact true.

I told this young lady that outside of my house, I conduct myself with nobility and dignity as is fitting for a Rav, for this is showing honor to the Torah that I try to spread. However, in my own home I am first of all 'Abba', a father who must behave tenderly and kindly with his children if he wishes to be able to impart the Torah's message to them. This is the way that the Torah guides parents to relate to their children.

At the end of the se'udah she told me that she is praying to Hashem, asking Him to forgive her for all her sins. As soon as Shabbat departed, she expressed the desire to change her wardrobe and began dressing modestly.

This story, in its great simplicity, demonstrated to me how yirat shamyim can indeed be acquired easily. It is solely dependent on a person's desire and sincerity.

Since this young lady possessed the desire to understand, one Shabbat was enough of a catalyst for her to change her lifestyle.

The Haftarah

The Haftarah of the week: "O afflicted, storm-tossed one, who has not been consoled" (Yeshaya 54)

The connection to Shabbat: This Haftarah is the third of the seven special 'Haftarot of Comfort' that are read starting with the Shabbat following Tisha B'Av. They are chapters of comfort for the Jewish people.

Ashkenazim have the custom to read the section, "Thus said Hashem: The Heaven is My throne" (Yeshaya 66), which they read when Rosh Chodesh falls on Shabbat. Some Sefardim have the custom to read the first and last verse of this section in addition to the section of "O afflicted, storm-tossed one…".

Guard Your Tongue

Controlling One's Power of Speech

Man must accustom himself to always control what comes out of his mouth since habit lends us the power of control. If we consider the matter, we will realize that the reason for the widespread, bitter sin of lashon hara is due to our habit, from a young age, of speaking unreservedly without being reprimanded, whereby one does not imagine that one may be transgressing a sin.

Words of the sages

Who is Victorious?

"And you will take possession from them and settle in their land" (Devarim 12:29)

There were times, there were generations, when the Jewish people faced bitter challenges to their faith, when the winds of heresy blew strongly and caused many casualties… However, today in our generation there are no true atheists. In our times there are only two kinds of people: believers or fools. Anyone who has eyes in his head cannot be an atheist. The existence of an Omnipresent is so clear and tangible; it is impossible to discount it!

We live among three hundred million non-Jews who possess a deep desire to annihilate us. With the biological and chemical weapons that they possess, they are capable of wiping out the entire country in two and half hours at most. Yet in fact, what happens? They sit quietly and do almost nothing. What explanation can there be for this, besides Divine Intervention which guards and protects us from our enemies?

The only reason why we are still around is because we have a loving and compassionate Father who watches over us! Entire empires were established and fell, but the Jewish people have remained on the platform of history! Is there any rational explanation for this, besides the magnificent Divine Intervention that we merit from the King of Kings? In order to come to this realization there is no need for a leap of faith, we need only to open our eyes and not disregard the facts!

Rabbeinu Tam writes in the 'Sefer Hayashar', that an Apikorus (heretic) who denies the existence of the Creator, can be compared to an animal who cries out with his head facing the ground: "The heavens do not exist!" What is our retort? "Animal, just pick up your head and you will see that there is a heaven!"

We who live here in Eretz Yisrael are veterans of war, but can we say, about even a single war that took place in this country from the year 5708, that the fighting and victory followed a natural course? Take the 5708 war, when six hundred thousand Jews – including men, women and children, faced the hostility of all the Western countries, yet nevertheless emerged victorious. Can this be considered a natural outcome?!

At the time of “Operation Kadesh,” during the Sinai War, Tel Aviv was home to an angel in the disguise of a man, the Admor Rebbe Aharon of Belz zt"l. His entire existence was supernatural, for he neither ate nor drank and hardly ever slept.

Once when his doctor came to examine him, he noted his extreme weakness. On completing his examination, the doctor declared that he does not suffer from any specific ailment - his extreme weakness is purely a result of a lack of nutrition. He therefore ordered him to partake of a nutritious meal and drink an adequate amount of liquids.

What did the Admor do? He requested his gabbaim to prepare an elaborate, substantial meal, exactly as the doctor had ordered, for how could he go against the doctor's orders? As soon as he was informed that the meal, which included fish, meat, soup, and even 'compote', was ready, he called over two bachurim and in a straightforward manner told them: "The doctor ordered me to eat a satisfying meal for the sake of my health, but I am not capable of eating so much food. Since our holy Sages teach that a person's messenger is considered like the person himself, I therefore order you to be my messengers, and to consume this meal instead of me!"

This was Rebbe Aharon, the Admor of Belz! Literally an angel in the disguise of a person!

Indeed, when 'Operation Kadesh' began, the Admor remained standing in his place like a rock, for twenty-four hours, until the war ended! This was a person who under normal circumstances could hardly stand on his feet till he had to be wheeled from room to room. Yet he stood on his feet, unmoving, for an entire twenty-four hours, and prayed! Do we now comprehend in whose merit we earned the miraculous victory? Do we have any doubt? Not in the merit of the tanks and planes, but in the merit of the Admor of Belz and other similar righteous individuals, who with their merits protected the nation that dwells in Tzion!

From the Treasury

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

Observing Mitzvot in Eretz Yisrael is Priceless

The Divine Intervention that is exclusive to Eretz Yisrael is unceasing and exists forever. It is the Land about which we are told, "The eyes of Hashem, your G-d, are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to year's end". (Devarim 11:12) Hashem's eyes are constantly upon the Land, from the beginning of the year which refers to Rosh Hashana, until the very last day of the year, and back again. There is no day in the year when Hashem does not endow His special intervention to the Holy Land and to those who dwell in it.

The reason for this is that in comparison to all other countries, Eretz Yisrael is unique for its great holiness. There are also certain mitzvot which can only be performed in Eretz Yisrael, for example taking trumot and ma'asrot (tithing), anointing a king, bikurim and more. Those who live outside of Eretz Yisrael cannot fulfill these mitzvot. Due to this, Eretz Yisrael has an additional, unique holiness in merit of the mitzvot that are dependent on the Land. This is in addition to the constant Divine Intervention that the Land merits.

The holy Sefarim mention that a person has 248 limbs and 365 sinews which correspond to the 613 mitzvot. This being the case, each person is a living Sefer Torah, with every limb in his body corresponding to a different mitzvah of the Torah. Since the mitzvot that are dependent on Eretz Yisrael are also part of the 613 mitzvot, this means that there are limbs in a person's body that correspond to these specific mitzvot. In light of this we can say that when a person lives in a foreign country and cannot fulfill the mitzvot that are dependent on Eretz Israel, his body is lacking something, since he cannot fulfill a portion of the 613 mitzvot.

On the other hand, a Jew who lives in the Holy Land and fulfills all the mitzvot, including those dependent on the Land, causes his body to become complete with Torah and mitzvot. Despite the fact that today we no longer have a Beit Hamikdash and therefore cannot fulfill some of the mitzvot, nevertheless a person who longs for the building of the Beit Hamikdash, receives a reward for all the 613 mitzvot since he is not at fault that the Beit Hamikdash has not been rebuilt.

The yetzer hara, with his cunning wisdom, realizes the importance of the mitzvah of living in Eretz Yisrael and the great advantage that one can attain through keeping all the mitzvot that are dependent on the Land. Therefore, he tries in every way possible to place stumbling blocks in a person's path to prevent him from having the opportunity of sanctifying his body through fulfilling all the mitzvot that the Torah contains.

Pearls of The Parsha

Annulling the Bad Days

"See, I present before you today a blessing and a curse" (Devarim 11:26)

The word "hayom (today)" appears superfluous. Could the verse not just say, "See, I present before you a blessing and a curse"?

Rabbeinu Yosef Chaim of Bavel zya"a, in his sefer 'Ben Ish Chai', explains:

Hashem gave Am Yisrael five festival days: Rosh Hashana, the first day of Succot, Shemini Atzeret, the first day of Pesach and the festival of Shavuot.

Were Yisrael to observe these five festival days according to the law, they would be saved from the five bad days which are: The fast of Gedalya, the Tenth of Tevet, the Seventeenth of Tammuz, Tisha B'Av and the Tenth of Av (as it is known, the majority of the Beit Hamikdash was burnt on the tenth of Av).

This is the meaning of the verse: "See, I present before you today (היום)". 'ה-יום', refers to the five days, (the letter 'ה' has the numerical value of five). There are five days that are a blessing and a curse, and if you are careful with the five festival days which allude to blessing, then you will be protected from the five 'bad' days which symbolize curse.

Qualities are Inherited

"You shall not eat it, in order that it be well with you and your children after you" (Devarim 12:25)

It is told that a non-Jewish researcher of the Tanach once approached Rabbi Yonatan Eibeshitz and asked him:

Why specifically in this context, when talking about the transgression of eating blood, does the Torah add the blessing "in order that it be well with you and your children"?

Rabbi Yonatan answered him: The Torah forbids eating blood since it clogs up the heart and implants the trait of cruelty in a person, and as we know the trait of cruelty is inherited by one's children through the parent's genes.

This then is the implication of "You shall not it, in order that it will be well with you and your children after you". Do not eat blood so that both you and your children will possess a refined soul, and then automatically you will not have the tendency towards cruelty.

Not All Fingers Are Equal

"If there shall be a destitute person among you, any of your brethren in any of your cities, in your Land that Hashem, your G-d, gives you, you shall not harden your heart or close your hand against your destitute brother" (Devarim 15:7)

Later on, the Torah details how we should behave with the destitute brother:

"Rather, you shall open your hand to him; you shall lend him his requirement, whatever is lacking to him" (ibid 8)

The Vilna Gaon explains that the Torah is alluding to the correct conduct when giving charity, which a person should be most attentive to:

If a person bends his fingers, all of them look equal, but if his hand is open, one can see that this is not really true – each finger is a different size.

Our Sages expound on the words "whatever is lacking to him" and explain that this includes even a horse to ride on and a servant to run before him. We must provide for each person according to his honor and importance. Great consideration is required in order to understand the difference between each person's individual requirements.

This is the implication of the words: "…you shall not… close your hand". When the fingers are bent, they all look equal, but we are commanded, "…you shall open your hand". Once you do this you will see that not all fingers are equal, which is a lesson for us that we must be perceptive and sense the difference between each poor person and his personal needs…

The Memory of a Tzaddik Should Be for a Blessing

Maran Rabbi Moshe Ahron Pinto zya"a

In honor of the hilula of Maran Rabbi Moshe Ahron Pinto zya"a, the father of our esteemed master Hagaon, Hatzaddik Rabbi David Chananya Pinto shlita, which falls on the fifth of Elul (September fifth 2019), we will unveil here some pearls and precious stones from the treasury of the Tzaddik's zya"a middot and holy ways.

Each generation of the distinguished Pinto family is another shining jewel in the crown of this illustrious family. Father and son, generation after generation, all possessed the highest levels of faith and were exceptionally holy and pious servants of Hashem. The tzaddik Rabbi Moshe Ahron zya'a is one of the magnificent links in the succession of outstanding talmidei chachamim who merited performing wonders and brought salvation to many, protecting Am Yisrael with the splendor of their holiness and purity.

Rabbi Moshe Ahron zya"a, was particularly famous for his unassuming manner in serving Hashem and for his extraordinary undertaking to seclude himself in his home for forty years, at the behest of his father, the tzaddik Rabbi Chaim Pinto zya"a. During this time, he devoted himself to Torah study with a diligence that is unfathomable to the human mind. Closeted in the four walls of his small room and devoid of any connection to the outside world, he ascended in levels of holiness and purity. With a holy passion to soar in his avodat Hashem, he paid no attention to his physical and material needs.

Rabbi Moshe Ahron zya"a was blessed with an outstanding humility which scattered its glow on all those with whom he came into contact. Standing in his presence felt like being in the presence of a lofty and exalted personality, who despite being head and shoulders above the rest of his generation, was able to lower himself to bear the pain and concern of all those created in the image of G-d. Anyone wishing to enter his home was welcomed with a special warmth, independent of the time of day.

Rabbi Mohse Ahron zya"a possessed great faith in Hashem Yitbarach. The verse "Cast upon Hashem your burden and He will sustain you" was his guiding light at every juncture and the principle with which he calculated his every step, to the extent that he paid no attention to the mundane matters of this world. Rabbi Moshe Ahron zya"a spent his days and nights secluded in his home, sitting close to the candles that he lit in memory of his holy ancestors, while occupying himself with Torah and good deeds.

In his modest home he received all those who turned to him for help. Nobody was turned away, both men and ladies were welcome. He was most particularly not to pick up his eyes to see who was entering his room, yet despite this custom he was able to discern the purpose of each person's visit and knew whether they had come to request a blessing or wished to ask his advice or request that he pray for the recovery of a dear one. His meticulousness in guarding his eyes is proved by the fact that even when his wife or daughters would enter the room, he would start to bless them with the traditional blessing of "Mi Sheberach", and only when he paused to hear the name, did he suddenly feel that the one standing opposite him was actually one of his close family members!

It is worth noting here a remarkable aspect of his conduct and despite the fact that we have mentioned this point on previous occasions, we repeat it now due to its prized value and importance: One of his revered customs was his scrupulousness in guarding his eyes. The concept of guarding one's eyes is mentioned time and again in our Holy Sefarim and is accorded great significance. Our Sages teach us that the foremost holiness and purity of a person, begins with his eyes. One who protects his eyes so as not to stumble with gazing at forbidden sights, merits achieving true fear of G-d. The tzaddik Rabbi Moshe Ahron zya"a, was most particular about this matter, and even though he was exposed to thousands of people who arrived at his home in search of his blessings, nevertheless he was extremely careful not to look at women. Even when his wife, the Rabbanit Mazal a"h, entered the room, the Tzaddik did not pick up his eyes and only realized who it was once she 'introduced' herself!

With his prayers he moved worlds in order to bring down protection for the holy nation of Israel. With his holy spirit he was able to grasp the future, and would beseech his holy, righteous ancestors, begging that they come forward to advocate for Am Yisrael and send them salvation and annul any bad decrees.

On the day of the hilula which falls on the fifth of Elul, throngs of people will visit Rabbi Moshe Ahron's zya"a final resting place - his righteous children, family members and devoted students, together with many of Am Yisrael who merited experiencing salvation and mercy in his merit, for both in his lifetime and even after his passing he was the conduit for incredible salvation for all those who prayed before the One who dwells on High, in the merit of this Tzaddik zya"a.


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