Parsha Re'eh

August 15th, 2020

25th of Av 5780


Without Torah, a Person is Under the Power of Harmful Spirits

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

"You shall observe the month of springtime and perform the Pesach-offering for Hashem, your G-d, for in the month of springtime Hashem, your G-d, took you out of Egypt at night" (Devarim 16:1)

Rashi asks, "Did they not leave by day (and not at night)? The reason is that Pharaoh gave them permission to leave that night as it says, 'He called to Moshe and Aharon at night and said, 'Rise up, go out from among my people' (Shemot 12:31, Sifri)".

This Midrash is perplexing. Did Bnei Yisrael leave Mitzrayim because Pharaoh permitted them to do so? Hashem smote him and his people with powerful plagues, through which He proved to them His great power and outstretched arm, and that He is the only Ruler and exclusive power over the entire order of creation. With the last plague of the Firstborns, Pharaoh became scared for his life for he too was a firstborn, therefore he immediately, against his will and not out of the goodness of his heart, agreed to release Bnei Yisrael from under his jurisdiction. The question is, is this called 'giving permission'? And was Bnei Yisrael's redemption dependent on his goodwill?

In general, why was it necessary for Pharaoh to give them permission to leave his land? Was not the entire redemption from Egypt accompanied by miracles, wonders, and signs? Would Bnei Yisrael really have been unable to leave without Pharaoh's permission?

To answer these questions, we will take a look at the beginning of the Parsha where we are told, "See, I present before you today a blessing and a curse" (Devarim 11:26). Why does the verse use the expression 'see'? Is it possible to tangibly see a blessing and a curse?

With siyata dishmaya, I would like to suggest an answer. Moshe Rabbeinu a"h was telling Bnei Yisrael to look and gaze at him, 'ראה אנכי', "See – I". They should observe him and see the immense levels that one who cleaves to the Holy Torah is capable of achieving. Moshe Rabbeinu a"h merited speaking with the Holy Shechina face to face, he went up to the Heavens and remained in the presence of the angels for forty days and nights. He achieved the height of spiritual levels, all in the merit of occupying himself with the Holy Torah and fulfilling Hashem's wish. If so, it is worthwhile for Bnei Yisrael too, to follow this path and cleave to Hashem Yitbarach and His Holy Torah.

This is also one of the reasons why the Holy Torah allows us to eat certain foods while other foods are forbidden. This puts a person to the test if indeed he is a faithful servant to his Master. Is he prepared to obey His mitzvot and fulfill His will wholeheartedly? Among other things, this comes to expression when a person is faced with the test of knowing that a certain food is forbidden by the Torah. If, although he craves this food, he immediately withdraws and does not consume it, this proves his faithfulness to the Creator. Hashem is then praised through him and He declares, "You are My servant, Israel, in whom I take glory" (Yeshaya 49:3), and due to this he merits all the blessings in the Torah.

Now we can understand why Bnei Yisrael required Pharaoh's permission to leave Mitzrayim. The reason was that they did not yet possess the power of Torah. When in Mitzrayim, Am Yisrael were weak and empty of Torah and mitzvot, and since they did not possess the power of Torah, against their will they were placed under the control of the wicked Pharaoh, who symbolizes the impure klippah and required therefore his permission to leave. This situation, which although was a cog in the wheel of Am Yisrael’s development and part of Hashem’s plan, was nevertheless most distressing as it were, for the Creator of the World that despite all the wonders and signs that He performed in Mitzrayim, superficially Bnei Yisrael required the wicked Pharaoh's permission. The absence of the power of Torah placed them under the control of the impure klippah, the wicked Pharaoh.

This is the implication of the verse (Devarim 16:1), "You shall observe the month of springtime…for in the month of springtime Hashem, your G-d, took you out of Egypt at night". Night is a time of darkness and obscurity. Moshe was telling Bnei Yisrael that they should remember that while in Egypt they were steeped in a spiritual darkness, without the light of Torah and mitzvot. This is why Pharaoh's impurity was able to control them and they required his permission to leave, for the main power that can subdue the klippah is derived from the power of the Holy Torah. In the absence of Torah, a person is ruled over by the forces of evil that raise their ugly heads and are able to defeat him. This will serve as a lesson for Bnei Yisrael that it is worthwhile for them to cleave to Hashem Yitbarach and His Holy Torah and fulfill His will, for it is only the Torah that can protect them against the spiritual and physical enemies that indict them. The Torah surely saves and surely protects, and it is the power of Torah that brings blessing to man.

Anyone who occupies himself with Torah and fulfills Hashem's mitzvot is also saved from poverty and will experience Hashem's blessing, as it says (ibid 15:4), "However, may there be no destitute among you; rather, Hashem will surely bless you". Rashi asks, later on it says, "For destitute people will not cease to exist within the Land" (ibid 11). How does one reconcile these two verses? Rashi answers that the promise of complete blessing is conditioned on the observance of the commandments, for if the nation keeps the Torah, poverty will be among the other nations and not among them. But if they do not keep the Torah, there will indeed be poverty among them.

This demonstrates that the assurance "It is the blessing of Hashem that enriches" (Mishlei 10:22), is only valid when one performs His will and fulfills His mitzvot, for then the external adversaries have no control over us and we are placed under the protection and Divine Intervention of Hashem Yitbarach, Who protects us from all evil mishaps.

Words of the Sages

The Kollel Avreichim are Maintaining Your Business!

The Maggid Rabbi Shlomo Levenstein shlita related a story that he heard from the Gitler brothers, the owners of the book store, Ha'Achim Gitler. The store has two branches, one in Bnei Brak and the other in Jerusalem. The Bnei Brak branch brings in a nice profit, while the store in Jerusalem is situated in a less-than-ideal location so naturally there isn't a steady flow of customers. Although the store does not make a loss, it is hardly profitable.

At a certain point, the brothers were thinking about moving the store to Malchei Yisrael street, the main thoroughfare in the Geula neighborhood of Jerusalem, but after considering the matter they concluded that this might harm the other book stores in the neighborhood and cause unfair competition. On the other hand, to leave things as they were was also not a reasonable option. They were at a loss as what to do.

The brothers decided to go to Maran Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman zt"l, and ask his advice. They explained the situation and told him why they do not wish to move the Jerusalem branch to a different location. They also added that one of the reasons for maintaining this store is since it supports the families of three avreichim, whose wives work in the store. Since the store does not make a loss, the brothers thought that maybe it is appropriate to continue maintaining this branch, if only not to deprive the wives of these avreichim with a steady income.

But when they presented this consideration to Rav Shteinman and told him that the store 'supports' three families of avreichim, the Gaon quickly retorted in surprise, "Who told you that you are supporting them? Maybe they are supporting you?" And then he added, "You cannot know if the reason why the store in Bnei Brak is so profitable is not because it is a source of livelihood for three wives of avreichim in Yerushalayim!"

Walking in Their Ways

Delivering the Goods

When I once went to pray at the gravesites of the tzaddikim in Marrakesh, Morocco, I also prayed at the tomb of the tzaddik, Rabbi Shlomo Timsut, zya”a.

When I read the name of the tzaddik that was imprinted on the grave, I suddenly remembered my friend from Paris who bears the same name. I decided to call him and tell him that I would pray for him. If he had any type of problem or challenge, the zechut of the tzaddik would stand on his behalf and, b’ezrat Hashem, his difficulties would be resolved. Unfortunately, my friend did not answer the phone so I left a message on his answering machine.

The next day, he returned my call. With apparent excitement, he declared, “Honored Rav, when you called me yesterday, I was in the midst of an important meeting with a big supplier who was advised by his lawyer to cease sending me merchandise. Needless to say, I stood to lose a sizeable income. Suddenly, this supplier's manager walked into the room unannounced and ordered him to halt any debate regarding the cancellation of our contract. Instead, the supplier was instructed to renew my contract and even double the supply. There was no logical reason for this.

“Honorable Rav, after hearing your message that you would pray for me, I had no doubt where my salvation came from. It was in the merit of your prayers at the grave of the tzaddik that stood in my defense on High, thereby preventing me from suffering a tremendous loss.”

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.

Guard Your Tongue

Even If He Does Not Intend

The prohibition of rechilut (giving over information that may cause strife between two people) applies even if one does not intend that one's words should cause Reuven to hate Shimon. Even if, according to his opinion, Shimon was acting according to the law when he spoke about Reuven or did something to him, he may not pass on this information to Reuven, for it may cause him to hate Shimon. Even if he does not have ulterior motives, but if he thinks about it this information might cause Reuven to hate Shimon, it is prohibited.

From the Treasury

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

A Fixed Place for Prayer

"Rather, only in the place that Hashem will choose, among one of your tribes, there shall you bring up your burnt-offerings" (Devarim 12:14)

Why is the Beit Hamikdash referred to as 'מקום', "the place"? Why does the Torah not call it by its explicit name?

I would like to suggest that the Beit Hamikdash to which the Torah is referring, is not only the Beit Hamikdash that was situated on Har Hamoria, but it also hints to the private Beit Hamikdash that dwells inside each person's heart. A person's body is also considered as a miniature Beit Hamikdash and dwelling place for Hashem, and as it says (Shemot 25:8), "They shall make a Sanctuary for Me – so that I may dwell among them". Chazal expound that saying "among them" and not "among it" implies that Hashem dwells inside each and every person. Therefore, each person must prepare his heart and sanctify himself so that his body becomes a fitting receptacle for the Shechina's presence.

This is why the Beit Hamikdash is referred to as 'makom', place. 'Place' alludes to man, for wherever man is found, that is his place. That very place becomes elevated and significant through man's spiritual powers. The more he elevates himself and spiritually sanctifies himself, the more his 'place' is transformed into one of holiness, in line with the Chazal that it is not the person's place that honors him, but the person who honors his place.

It follows that the entire service in the Beit Hamikdash was an allusion to man's personal service. This is why the Torah commands that just as all the service of the Mikdash was limited to one permanent particular place, one should also have a fixed place for one's prayers, as Chazal say (Berachot 6b), "Anyone who fixes a place for his prayers, the G-d of Avraham assists him". For when a person designates a place for his prayers and does not pray a transient prayer in an offhanded manner wherever he sees fit, this shows the extent to which he considers prayer to be important and precious in his eyes. Today, when due to our many sins, the Beit Hamikdash was destroyed and the service of the Korbanot was annulled, prayer in a fixed place has taken the place of Korbanot that were offered in a fixed place in the Mikdash. This permanence must be a cornerstone in our service of Hashem, and a person must be consistent in following the true path that he chose, throughout his life.

Pearls of the Parsha

The Significance of Rebuke is not Dependent on the Number of Listeners

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

"Even if the one offering the rebuke knows that only one person out of all those who are listening to his words will take them to heart," says Rabbi Chaim of Worms, "he should not hold back from admonishing the public, for so we find with Moshe Rabbeinu. He spoke to all Yisrael saying "I present before you", in Hebrew the word “you” is written in the plural, while the word "see" is in the singular.

Although he was addressing the entire Am Yisrael, his words were directed at the individual, to whom he said "see'".

Your Student is the King's Son!

 "You are children to Hashem, your G-d" (Devarim 14:1)

Rabbi Ya'akov Neiman zt"l, the Rosh Yeshiva of 'Ohr Yisrael', related the following story:

One Shabbat, I went to visit my master and teacher, Harav Moshe Rosenstein zt"l, the Mashgiach of the Lomza yeshiva. I saw that he was testing a young child in Chumash. I asked him, "Whose child is this?" and he whispered in my ear, "He is Hashem's child!"

Realizing that I was surprised that he hadn’t answered me conventionally, he continued and explained: "Had I told you that he is Chaim's child, you would then have some idea of who he is. And by telling you that he is Hashem's child does this not help you to know who the child is?"

The approach of one who educates Jewish children must be that he is educating the children of the King of Kings, Hakadosh Baruch Hu, as it says, "You are children to Hashem your G-d", and not that he is simply educating Chaim's or Aharon's child. Just as in all a person's ways he must fulfill "I have set Hashem before me always", so too when he teaches another child, he must keep in mind that the father of this child is Hashem. This thought is what will endow the educator with patience for his students and he will then treat them in a completely different manner.

The Relationship and Closeness Justify Becoming Impure

"You are children to Hashem, your G-d, you shall not cut yourselves and you shall not make a bald spot between your eyes for a dead person" (Devarim 14:1)

Rabbi David ben Moyal zt"l, in his sefer 'Kuntrus Zichron Devarim', expounds on the connection between "you are children to Hashem", to "you shall not cut yourselves" (the prohibition to cut one's skin) and "you shall not make a bald spot between your eyes for a dead person" (the prohibition of plucking one's hair out of grief and bereavement).

He quotes Rabbi Yehuda Rozanis, who wrote in his sefer 'Parshat Derachim' that by law Yisrael are considered as Hashem's children, for if not, how will Hashem be able to resurrect the dead in the future since as the Gemara tells us (Sanhedrin 39a), He is a Kohen? But since the Mishna tells us, "Beloved are the people of Israel, for they are described as children of the Omnipresent" (Avot 3:14), He can become impure for them, His children, just as a Kohen may become impure for his seven closest relatives.

Now we can understand the flow of the verse. Since "You are children to Hashem", automatically Hashem can become impure for you to bring you back to life with the future resurrection of the dead and this is why, "you shall not cut yourselves and you shall not make a bald spot…for a dead person", for death is only a temporary state and not something absolute.

A Novel Look at the Parsha

"To fear Hashem, your G-d, all the days" (Devarim 14:23)

In an inspirational talk where Maran Rabbi Ahron Leib Shteinman ztL addressed tens of businessmen from America who had come to Eretz Yisrael for a short time to study Torah and strengthen themselves spiritually, he quoted the famous mashal brought by the 'Nefesh HaChaim'. A king had two guards, one was responsible for guarding the royal crown, while the other one was responsible for the stables. Of course, the guardian of the royal crown is entrusted with the enormous responsibility of ensuring that there should not be a single scratch in the crown. Just as his responsibility is much greater than that of the one who guards the stables, so too we are entrusted with the special role of increasing the honor of Heaven through all our ways and deeds.

On this topic, there is an astonishing story, brought in 'Matok m'Dvash' (Chapter 5) by Rav Yitzchak Parchi, concerning Rabbi Moshe Galante zt"l, known as Rav HaMagen. He served as the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem and was famous for his righteousness and piety, besides for his ingenuity and expertise in the seven wisdoms: the wisdoms of logic, arithmetic, geometry, nature, dialectics, music and Divinity.

There was none as outstanding as him in his entire generation, other than an Arab Sheikh who was also proficient in the seven wisdoms. In addition, if someone fell ill, his family would go and ask the Sheikh to pray for the sick man's recovery. The Sheikh would seclude himself for some time, and then determine 'he shall live', or 'he shall die'. His prediction was always correct, just as we are told, lehavdil, about Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa.

When Rabbi Moshe heard about this, he asked in surprise, "How can it be that the affairs of the Books of the Living and the Books of the Dead were revealed to this goy and that there are even Jews who seek his advice?"

The Rav went to the Sheikh's house and he received him with great honor. They sat down and the Sheikh said to the Rav, "I heard that you are a very clever man. Are you familiar with the wisdom of logic?"

The Rav replied that indeed Hashem had blessed him with a small measure of this wisdom. The Sheikh began asking him various questions and quickly realized that his knowledge of logic was nothing in comparison to the Rav's.

He asked the Rav to share his wisdom with him, and they studied together until the hour grew late.

The next day the Sheikh yearned to acquire another of the seven wisdoms and sent his carriage to bring the Rav to his castle. They debated in this wisdom and once again the Sheikh came to the realization that there is no measure to the Rav's wisdom. This continued for a number of days, with Rabbi Moshe enhancing the Sheikh's grasp of the other wisdoms of the world.

Eventually the Sheikh asked, "Are you knowledgeable in the seventh wisdom?"

"Praised is G-d, I am somewhat well-versed in that wisdom," Rabbi Moshe Galante replied.

"Please teach me this wisdom until its completion," asked the Sheikh.

"This wisdom cost me dearly," replied the Rav, "therefore I cannot impart it free of charge."

"Please tell me your fee. I am ready to pay whatever you desire."

"Far be it from me to sell this wisdom in exchange for money," said the Rav, "I am only willing to teach it in exchange for a different wisdom. When praying for the sick, you are able to discern whether they will live or die. If you teach me this wisdom, I will teach you the seventh wisdom."

"You are challenging me with something most difficult," the Sheikh replied in gloom. "This is something that I cannot reveal to any human being."

"If so," Rabbi Moshe concluded, "I too cannot reveal to you the seventh wisdom!"

"My ancestors made me swear that I will not reveal this knowledge for all the wealth in the world," the Sheikh explained.

"You are not selling it for money," Rabbi Moshe Galante justified himself, "rather you are exchanging it for a different wisdom. This was not part of your ancestors' condition."

The Rav kept on entreating the Sheikh who eventually agreed. "Listen well," the Sheikh instructed. "Go home and accept upon yourself to abstain from food for two days. In the meal preceding the fast, do not eat meat or drink wine. During these two days immerse yourself in ritual waters morning and evening."

"I will do as you say," promised the Rav.

"Go in peace," said the Sheikh, "and on the third day I will reveal to you the awesome secret."

Rabbi Moshe Galante went home and fasted for three days. On the third morning after completing his prayers, he hurried over to the Sheikh's home.

After immersing themselves, the Sheikh took Rav Moshe to a palatial home that was surrounded by a silver gate engraved with emblems. The Sheikh took out a silver key from his pocket and warned the Rav, "Take care to enter this home with appropriate awe, just as I will do."

He opened the door, revealing a magnificent hall. On the facing wall hung an embroidered curtain, set with precious stones and pearls. The Sheikh entered with awe and bowed down seven times facing the curtain.

The Rav was very afraid that the curtain might be hiding avodah zara. The Sheikh turned to him and in a low voice said, "Approach the temple, move aside the curtain and you will find what you are seeking!"

The Rav approached, moved the curtain aside and his eyes beheld golden doors studded with diamonds. He opened the doors and came face to face with a breathtaking golden tablet, on which the form of the Menorah was carved. Above the Menorah were engraved the words "I have set Hashem before me always", while the letters of Hashem's Name were larger than the rest of the verse.

The Sheikh gazed at Rabbi Moshe who was standing there in astonishment, and in a shaking voice told him, "You should know, Rabbi of the Jews, that these larger letters spell the Name of the Omnipotent, Who created the world 'something from nothing' and sustains it to this very day." The Sheikh thought that he was revealing a secret unknown to the Jews…

"Furthermore, you should know that when someone asks me to pray for a sick person, I immerse myself and then approach this temple with fear and pray in front of it. At the conclusion of my prayers, I move the curtain aside and open the doors. If I see that above the golden Menorah the letters of the Name of G-d are illuminated, I know that the sick person will recover. However, if they are distinguished, this is a sign that he will die."

The Rav returned home and sobbed from the depths of his broken heart.

"Woe to us from the day of judgement! If this non-Jew, just by being aware that these letters form the Name of G-d, honors Him so greatly and approaches Him with such fear, due to which he merited fame and honor, we, who are children of Hashem and call His Name, to what extent must we conduct ourselves and tremble before Him, especially when mentioning His Great Name! What would we merit, if only we would feel this degree of fear from the Holiness of His Name and honor Him appropriately”.


Hevrat Pinto • 32, rue du Plateau 75019 Paris - FRANCE • Tél. : +331 42 08 25 40 • Fax : +331 42 06 00 33 • © 2015 • Webmaster : Hanania Soussan