March 7th, 2020

11th of Adar 5780


The Power of Purity Against the Power of Impurity

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

"You shall offer the one sheep in the morning, and the second sheep shall you offer in the afternoon" (Shemot 29:39)

Rabbeinu Yosef Chaim zya"a, the author of the 'Ben Ish Chai', tells us (Shana Rishona, Parshat Pinchas), the reason for bringing the continual burnt-offering (Tamid) in the morning and afternoon: The Tamid offering of the morning atones for sins committed during the night, while the Tamid offering of the afternoon atones for sins committed during the morning. Since the Tamid offering is bought using communal funds, it is capable of atoning for the sins of the entire community. The Ben Ish Chai also adds that the word 'עולת', (offering) is derived from the word 'תולע', (Tolah- worm). There are evil angels, the klippah, who are considered like worms who gnaw at everything that they come across. Through bringing the Tamid offering, we weaken their power so that they cannot harm or destroy us.

Hashem created equal opposite forces. Just as there is an angel of retribution who is called 'תולע' (Tolah), there is also an angel of purity called Tolah, whose purpose is to weaken the power of the evil Tolah so that it cannot carry out its wicked plans. From where does the good Tolah draw upon the power to negate the evil Tolah? From the fact that the nation offers the Tamid offering in the morning and afternoon. In the merit of this offering, the good Tolah is able to destroy the power of the evil Tolah.

This is the reason why Hashem addressed Ya'akov Avinu and told him, "Fear not, O worm of Ya'akov" (Yeshaya 41:14). He was implying, don’t be afraid of the Tolah of the klippah and of the powers of impurity, since you also have a Tolah which has the power to destroy all your enemies.

Chazal (Nedarim 81a, Shabbat 119b and Baba Metziah 30b) ask: "Why was the Land (of Israel) destroyed?". The meaning of the question is that the Tamid offering was supposed to endow the good Tolah with the power to fight against the klippah. This being the case, how did our enemies manage to destroy the Land?

The question becomes even stronger in light of the fact that great Talmidei Chachamim lived in Yerushalayim, who possessed such Divine inspiration that we cannot fathom their lofty level. Those Chachamim would make the angels swear that they will fight against the destructive powers and not allow the goyim to destroy the Land (Midrash Zuta, Eichah 1:7). So how was the angel of destruction given permission to destroy?

This question was posed to the Chachamim and the Neviim but they had no answer. Until Hashem Himself answered them (Yirmiyahu 9:12): Why was the Land destroyed? "Because of their forsaking My Torah". The Gemara (Nedarim 81a), explains that this means that they did not recite the blessing before beginning to study Torah. Another reason given is because they stopped the young children from learning Torah. Also, because they did not behave above the exact law. In addition, they were forced to stop bringing the Tamid offering, since their supply of animals ran out. Since the Tamid offering atones for sins committed during the night and day, they no longer had any form of atonement, therefore they lost their protection.

Am Yisrael overcome their enemies only when they offer the 'עולת תמיד', the Tamid offering. 'עולה' symbolizes growth and elevation which automatically gives power to the holy Tolah. This ascent must also be 'תמיד', continual, like the Tamid offering which is called a continual burnt-offering. This can be compared to a plane which is taking off. The plane needs to constantly climb so that it shouldn’t lose altitude and drop. Once Am Yisrael stopped bringing the Tamid offering, the Tolah of holiness no longer possessed the power to overcome the impure klippah, so the goyim were now able to destroy Yerushalayim.

Am Yisrael stopped bringing the Tamid offering on the seventeenth of Tamuz since this was when they exhausted their supply of sheep (Rashi, Erakin 11b). But instead of being concerned about this and contemplating how they arrived at such privation, they accepted the situation and were not roused to investigate if this was a sign from Heaven that they must rectify their ways.

We can compare this to a mother who notices that her young child is not achieving the developmental milestones appropriate for his age, or that he is sleeping way more than the norm. She is immediately filled with concern and her heart tells her that something is not quite right with her child. She takes him to the doctor and tries to discover the source of the problem. In the same way, when a person feels that he is just loitering around in the same place and not growing spiritually, he must be concerned about this and should not rest until he finds a solution for his problem.

This is why Hashem created the world in the way that as people age, the color of their hair changes. Hair that was once black begins to turn white and neither does one's face remain smooth and good-looking as it did when one was younger. Why is this? Hashem could have created a reality where a person leaves this world looking as beautiful and youthful as when he was young. Why does a person need to die looking old and feeble?

It could be that signs of old age are supposed to arouse a person to the fact that he will not remain vigorous forever; his years in this world are limited and the time is approaching when he will pass away and be buried in the ground. This knowledge should stir us to utilize our days to study Torah and fulfill mitzvot, since the day will come when we will no longer have the opportunity to grow spiritually and we will be judged according to the deeds that we performed in this world, without being able to rectify them.

Am Yisrael's plight should have provoked feelings of concern for being unable to offer the Tamid offering. Their dearth of sheep was a sign that they had blemished the Torah and were found lacking in their fulfillment of it. But since Am Yisrael remained indifferent and did not search for a way to sustain the holy Tolah, the evil powers inevitably prevailed and Yerushalayim was destroyed.

Today, since we do not have a Beit Hamikdash and are unable to bring the Tamid offering, every single Jew must use the Holy Torah to elevate himself. He should examine his ways to see what he can rectify and where he can improve. When a person behaves in this manner, he reinforces the intensity of the forces of purity, adding to their potency in overcoming the impure powers.

Words of the Sages

Treated by the Baba Sali

Ahron carried the names of Bnei Yisrael in two different places on the Priestly garments: On the shoulder straps of the Ephod and on the stones of the Breastplate. Rabbi Shimshon Pincus zt"l points out the following distinction: The Breastplate was mounted with four rows of stones, and each stone was engraved with the name of a different Tribe. However, each shoulder strap had only one stone, and six names were engraved on each stone.

This brings out the lesson that the Gadol Hador, who bears the burden of the nation, has two roles: Firstly, he bears the weight of the public burden on his shoulders. He is responsible for all communal affairs and general matters which concern the people as a whole, for example, different guidelines and rulings that need to be enforced amongst the people. His second role is to bear each individual's burden in his heart, to show concern for each person who turns to him, to serve as a listening ear and address for his distress.

The burden of each individual is something fitting to be carried on the heart, for the heart is the place where feelings of mercy beat strong. This is why the Breastplate that Ahron wore on his heart had each name written on a separate stone. However, the more general burden, that one that expresses responsibility, Ahron wore on his shoulders. This is why on the shoulder straps of the Ephod, the names were engraved collectively, six on each stone.

The following story is told about the holy Rabbeinu Yisrael Abuchatzeira zya"a, referred to as the Baba Sali. One day a childless man came to see him. When he arrived at the house, the family members told him that the Baba Sali was about to leave for Yerushalayim where he would be staying for a few days. They showed him the bags that were packed and standing ready next to the door.

"I only came to ask for a blessing," he begged, "let me go in for just one moment!"

They allowed him to enter and as soon as he saw the Baba Sali, he burst out crying and asked the tzaddik to bless him with salvation. The Baba Sali listened to his tale of distress and clarified which measures he had already undertaken. The husband detailed the different procedures, pointing out that all the medical interventions had been ineffectual.

When the Baba Sali heard this, he asked his family to set the table for his honorable visitor… The Rav then sat down with his visitor to partake of the food and drink. After Birkat Hamazon the Rav blessed him, and promised him that next year he will be blessed with a baby boy!

As soon as he left, the family members gathered the courage to ask the Rav: "Why did the Rav not bless him straight away? Why did we have to delay our trip?"

The tzaddik answered: "When I heard how many trials this couple had already been through in order to be blessed with children, I realized that the gates of salvation were closed for them. I tried to consider what I could do to re-open them and I thought that if I overcome my middot by hosting this Jew and trying to inject him with a bit of joy, thereby delaying my trip to Yerushalayim, Hashem too will 'overcome' His middot and bring about salvation for him. Only once I felt that I had overcome my middot sufficiently, did I bless him"…

Guard Your Tongue

Even About an Am Ha'aretz

The prohibition of speaking lashon hara includes speaking about an Am Ha'aretz (one who is ignorant in the ways of the Torah), for he is one of Hashem's people who was taken out of Egypt. All the more so if a person speaks lashon hara about a Talmid Chacham, his sin is much greater.

Chazal tell us that one who speaks lashon hara about a Talmid Chacham who passed away, goes to Gehinom. This sin causes him to transgress several prohibitions included in degrading a Talmid Chacham. One who degrades a Talmid Chacham is considered as if "he scorned the word of Hashem" and the severity of his punishment is exceedingly great.

The Haftarah

The Haftarah of the week: "Shmuel said" (Shmuel I, 15:1)

The connection to the Parsha: Since this week is Parshat Zachor, we read the Haftarah which talks about annihilating Amalek for going to war against Yisrael at the time of Shaul HaMelech.

Ashkenazim read from "So said Hashem" (ibid 15:2)

Walking in Their Ways

Blessed is the One Who Gives Speech to the Mute

When I was receiving people at the Zer family H”yv home in Bnei Brak, a couple came in with their four-year-old son. One day, without any apparent warning, this boy had completely stopped talking. In spite of their visits to the top specialists, the boy remained mute.

“Did you perhaps purchase a new apartment recently?” I asked the father.

To say the man was thunderstruck would be an understatement. “How does the Rav know about our new apartment? He never met us before; we heard about him only now, when we needed advice for our son.” These were the thoughts running through his mind.

He confessed that he had recently bought a new apartment.

“Did you purchase a new car, as well?”

This time, the man was too stunned to speak, and merely nodded in agreement.

I then turned to the couple and told them that since they had purchased both a new apartment as well as a new car in a very short time span, their son was most likely suffering from the effects of ayin hara. This resulted from begrudging and envious onlookers.

I immediately offered them various types of tikkunim, in the merit of which Hashem would remove the ayin hara from them and their son would be completely cured.

Several days later, I returned to France. How happy I was to hear from the Zer family that with Heaven's help, after the parents had proceeded according to my instructions, the young boy’s speech had returned.

From the Treasury

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

The Torah is Not in Heaven

"Now you shall command the Children of Israel that they shall take for you pure, pressed olive oil for illumination, to kindle the lamp continually" (Shemot 27:20)

One can explain allegorically, that the word 'שמן', oil, is derived from the word 'משנה', the Mishna. This implies that Am Yisrael must take the Mishna and toil in it. Just as they must study the words of the Mishna, so too must they toil in all the Torah's treasures. Am Yisrael studying the Mishna which is part of the Torah, causes all the souls to join together, since the word 'נשמה', soul, is also derived from the word 'שמן' that is mentioned in the verse. Similarly, the word 'תצוה', you shall command, hints to the word 'צוותא', all together. When Am Yisrael study Torah in unity, this causes all their neshamot to combine and in this state, Hashem will rest His Shechina on them.

David Hamelech says in Tehillim (68:19), "You ascended on high, You have taken captives". The holy Arizal explains this verse, saying that it refers to Moshe Rabbeinu who went up to the Heavens and captured the neshama of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. How does the Arizal derive this idea from the above verse? He says that the word 'שבי', captives, is an acronym for 'שמעון בר יוחאי', Shimon bar Yochai. This seems difficult to understand. Why did Moshe Rabbeinu need to capture Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai's neshama and bring it down to this world? Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai symbolizes the secrets and treasures that are hidden within the Torah, and as soon as his neshama descended to this world, the secrets of the entire Torah also descended and were no longer in the Heavens. This is the meaning of "it is not in the heavens". Whoever wishes to study the Torah can do so since it is accessible to all.

The fact that all the secrets of the Torah descended to this world, even the most sublime secrets which are recorded in the Holy Zohar by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, obligates us even more to toil in Torah. We cannot escape this responsibility by claiming that the Torah is unreachable. Since the very beginning when Torah was given to the world, it has always been accessible and feasible for every single person. Especially since Moshe Rabbeinu captured the holy Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai's neshama, all the secrets of the Torah were brought down to this world and are not hidden from man.

Pearls of the Parsha

Oil is a Segula for Torah

"They shall take for you pure, pressed olive oil" (Shemot 27:20)

The Midrash says that Moshe found it difficult to fashion the Menorah, so Hashem told him to throw a gold ingot into the fire and the completed Menorah emerged.

Why did Moshe find it harder to fashion the Menorah than any other of the holy vessels? The Chatam Sofer zt"l explains that every vessel that was made for the Mishkan had a certain influence which had to continue its effect for all generations.

For example, the Table hints to livelihood and wealth, as Chazal say "One who wishes to become rich should face the north", for the Table was placed in the north of the Mishkan. When Moshe a"h made the Table, he drew down an abundance of livelihood for all the Jewish people, for all generations. The Menorah's influence is the wisdom of the Torah. Moshe found it difficult to fashion the Menorah for he did not understand how could he draw down this influence for all future generations, if Chazal said that in the future Torah will be forgotten from Yisrael, G-d forbid?

Therefore, Hashem instructed him to throw an ingot into fire and the completed Menorah will emerge. This shows us that Torah wisdom is truly something miraculous, and this power was given over to Moshe Rabbeinu, as it says, "A wonderful segula to remember one's learning: Cleave to Moshe Rabbeinu a"h, with one's entire self and thoughts". Hashem hinted to this by saying "They shall take for you oil", those who study Torah (represented by the oil) should cleave to you, and will thereby merit retaining their learning.

His Name Rests on Both Shoulder Straps

"Six of their names" (Shemot 28:10)

The Yerushalmi tells us that Binyamin's name was split up between the two stones of the shoulder straps of the Ephod. The right-hand stone contained the letters 'בנ', while the stone on the left-hand side contained the letters 'ימין'. This is derived from the wording of the verse "ששה 'מ'שמותם". Since it says six of their names and not six names, we learn that Binyamin's name was split up.

The Meshech Chochma tells us that we find a hint for this idea in the blessing that Ya'akov gave Binyamin: "and rests between his shoulders". This implies that his name was engraved in holiness on both the shoulder straps.

An Acronym

"You shall fill it with stone mounting, four rows of stone: a row of odem, pitdah, and barekes – the one row" (Shemot 28:17)

The Gemara (Baba Metzia 85a) says in the name of Rabbi Yochanan: "If someone is a talmid chacham, his son is a talmid chacham and his grandson is a talmid chacham, the Torah will never depart from his descendants forever". The Tosfot (Ketubot 65b) says that this is true only if all three generations live to see each other.

Rabbi Yehuda Gez zt"l brings a wonderful hint for this, in his sefer 'Nachal Ye'uda'. He tells us that these words of Rabbi Yochanan are hinted to in the verses that talk about the Breastplate. How do we see this?

The word 'אבן', stone, is an acronym for אב, בן, נכד, father, son and grandson. The words 'ומלאת בו', you shall fill it, contain the same letters as the words 'ולבו אמת', his heart is filled with truth.  What is truth? Truth refers to Torah.

The verse says, 'ומלאת בו מלואת אבן', You shall fill it with stone mounting. If 'ומלאת בו', if his heart is full of the truth of the Torah, then 'מלואת אבן', the Torah that fills him is 'אבן', it follows from father to son and grandson.

The continuation of the verses hints to the Tosafot that explains that these three generations must be alive at the same time. The verse begins by saying, "four rows of stone". This means that if one wishes for the Torah to continue into the fourth generation, that it should be 'אבן', father, son and grandson, then they have to live at the same time. This is the meaning of "a row of odem, pitdah, and barekes – the one row", meaning they are all on one row, alive during the same period. If this is the case, then the second row will be "nophech, sapir, and yahalom", a continuation of the first row and so forth.

A Novel Look at the Parsha

The Menorah in the Beit Hamikdash had to be kindled with "pure, pressed olive oil for illumination" (Shemot 27:20). In order for the olives to produce "pure, pressed olive oil for illumination", they had to go through a long and complicated process. They get beaten and pressed, they suffer blows and knocks. They go through hardships, crisis's, and complicated challenges. But what is the result? They emerge better and more improved, transformed into pure olive oil. At this point, they merit being used for kindling the Menorah in the Beit Hamikdash, and they are also used to anoint the vessels, the Kohen Gadol and the king.

So too, it is exactly the same with people, says the Gaon Rabbi Elbaz shlita. We sometimes suffer through "pounding and crushing", we suffer harsh knocks, but this process is meant to elevate us and improve us. Setbacks should not make us give up since it is especially the obstacles which are a sign that Hashem desires us, and He wishes to raise us and elevate us higher and higher.

The Chofetz Chaim zt"l was once climbing up the stairs when he suddenly slipped on a peel and fell. Small-minded people who witnessed this and did not realize that it was the Chafetz Chaim who had fallen, jeered at this old man who fell to the ground.

The Chofetz Chaim got up, noticed their sneering and greatly rejoiced…

His talmidim asked him: "Rabbeinu, why are you so happy?"

The Choftez Chaim answered, "Today I received a gift from Heaven! People laughed at me when I fell in the street. This distress serves as a great atonement for my sins, how can I not rejoice?"

The wise person hears and takes note!

When Harav Shlomoke of Zvhill zt"l lived in Yerushalayim, he used to go to the Kotel every day. Once on his way home, Rabbi Shlomke decided to go through 'Sha'ar Shechem', since that way he was not faced with the challenge of coming across forbidden sights. His attendant, Rabbi Eliyahu Rata zt"l, told him that it is better to go through 'Sha'ar Ha'ashpot' because 'Sha'ar Shechem' was considered a dangerous area.

However, in the end, they went through Sha'ar Shechem', where a wicked Arab approached them and hit the Rebbe very hard with his fist. The attendant turned to his Rebbe and said, "Look what happened to us!" He was trying to hint that they should have done as he suggested and gone through 'Sha'ar Ha'ashpot' because of the danger. Rabbi Shlomke replied: "It has been handed down to me from my ancestors, that if a Jew receives a blow after praying, it is a sign that his prayer was accepted by the Master of the World. It is better to get hit by an Arab than to be hit in the soul, G-d forbid." (Mishmeret Einayim). He used this idea to explain the verse, "pure olive oil – pressed, for illumination". If after praying, one is hit (pressed), this is a sign "for illumination", that his prayer was accepted and Hashem will illuminate His countenance for him.

In a similar vein Rabbi Shlomke said: When a person prays to Hashem for a certain matter, and shortly after his prayer the opposite of what he asked for happens, for example, he prayed for healing for a sick person and when he finishes praying he is told that the sick person's situation has deteriorated, he should know that his prayer was accepted! But if he immediately sees salvation, it does not mean that it will last. This too is hinted to in the verse "they shall take for you pure, pressed olive oil". If a person merits and manages to pray with concentration, as is hinted to by the words "pure olive oil", and afterwards feels "pressed", the opposite of what he asked for happens, he should be secure in the knowledge that all this is only "for illumination", a clear sign that his prayer was accepted and reached the Holy Throne, and salvation is on the way.


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