March 20th, 2021

7th of Nisan 5781


Hashem's Love of Moshe

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

"He called to Moshe, and Hashem spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying" (Vayikra 1:1)

Rashi writes: "From the Tent of Meeting" (the Tabernacle): This teaches that the voice stopped and could not be heard outside the Tent of Meeting. "Saying": Go and tell them 'divrei kivushin', words of reproach, 'for your benefit He is speaking to me', as we find that the entire thirty-eight years that Bnei Yisrael wandered around in the Wilderness… Moshe did not receive any prophecy from Hashem."

We can ask why Hashem spoke to Moshe Rabbeinu a"h from the Tabernacle and not straight into his own tent?

There is an additional point that requires clarification: In the commentary of the holy Rabbeinu Yoel of Satmar zt"l, he quotes the above Rashi and brings the following observation. We find in Chazal (Ta'anit 16a) that 'words of kivushin' refers to words that capture the hearts of the people, causing them to repent and return to the correct path, while seemingly here, Moshe Rabbeinu's words were one's of praise, telling them that Hashem was talking to him for their benefit?

He also writes that the following Yalkut Shimoni is difficult to understand: "Moshe might have thought that Hashem was speaking to him for his own benefit, so the verse says 'saying', which implies that Hashem spoke to him for Yisrael's benefit and not for his own benefit. Another explanation: Moshe might have thought that Hashem was speaking to him only for the benefit of the people, so the verse says 'saying', implying that Hashem spoke to him for his own benefit." There is an essential difference as to why Hashem spoke to Moshe, was it for his own benefit or for the benefit of the people?

This can be explained by first introducing a different concept. Moshe's exceptional greatness as the Father of all prophets, "the man of G-d" as the Torah calls him, is well-known. He was the one who instilled in us that words of Torah are only sustained by those who have a humble spirit. Every person must feel like "When a man brings an offering from among you", meaning that he must consider himself as the offering. He must nullify and subdue himself just like the animal that stretches out its neck for slaughter.

This must be the intention of those who study and toil in Torah. One must wish to become knowledgeable and understand the will of Hashem and not, G-d forbid, use the Torah for one's own glory. Rather, one should approach the Torah with humility and submission. Moshe Rabbeinu a"h instilled in us this important outlook. He personified toiling in Torah without considering himself as anything special. He was the humblest of all men, as the Torah testifies (Bamidbar 12:3), "Now the man Moshe was exceedingly humble, more than any person on the face of the earth!".

This attribute of humility, the crown of all worthy and noble middot, finds expression in the beginning of Parshat Vayikra, with the letter 'alef' that is written smaller than the other letters. When young children first begin to learn the Holy Torah, they are taught sefer Vayikra. Moshe Rabbeinu himself felt that he is only beginning to study Torah like a young child since the words of the Torah were so precious in his eyes, to the extent that even the small 'alef', the first letter young children are taught to read, was so dear to him. This is the meaning of 'ויקרא', which can be re-arranged to spell 'יקרו א', they should cherish the 'alef'.

That is the reason why young children begin with Parshat Vayikra, so that the words of Torah should be precious in their eyes just as they were precious to Moshe, the leader of Bnei Yisrael.

We can see the extent of Moshe's humility from the fact that even just before his death when Moshe bequeathed his spiritual legacy to Bnei Yisrael, he implored Hashem saying (Devarim 3:24), "You have begun to show Your servant". Meaning at the age of one hundred and twenty, after forty years of being in Hashem's Presence, seeing what no other human being ever saw, ascending to Heaven and surviving without food and drink, solely engaged in Torah, he nevertheless felt that he is only now beginning to understand the words of Hashem. This was Moshe Rabbeinu's level of humility, he considered himself like a small 'alef'.

Now we have an answer to the question we asked above. We have a tradition from our Rabbis that "A person is led on the path he wishes to take" (Makot 10b). Therefore, seeing His servant Moshe's attribute of humility, Hashem told him, out of his affection for him, that He was only revealing Himself to him for the benefit of Bnei Yisrael, while Hashem in fact considered it as speaking to Moshe for his own benefit, for he was equal to all Bnei Yisrael. While it is correct that Moshe considered the revelation as being on account of the importance of Bnei Yisrael, Hashem actually spoke to Moshe due to his worthiness and His love of him.

This explains why Hashem's voice had to go through the Tabernacle, for the Tabernacle of Testimony and the Tent of Meeting hints to Am Yisrael, since this is what their lives revolved around. Speaking to Moshe from the Tabernacle showed that it was for the benefit of Bnei Yisrael. Even that which was for his own benefit, Moshe Rabbeinu considered as for the benefit of the people.

Since Moshe Rabbeinu understood that Hashem spoke to him for the benefit of Bnei Yisrael, he recognized that it could only happen if Bnei Yisrael were worthy. Therefore, Hashem advised him to tell them words of reproach. Meaning that he should tell them to constantly be in a state of prayer and repentance so that in their merit and for their benefit Hashem will continue speaking to him.

This idea reconciles the term 'words of kivushin', which the Satmar Rebbe zt"l questioned is generally understood as words that capture the hearts of the people causing them to repent, while seemingly here his words were one's of praise, telling them that Hashem was talking to him for their benefit. However, the two implications are intertwined. Moshe Rabbeinu, the faithful shepherd, begs Bnei Yisrael: Hashem only speaks to me in your merit, it is not for my own benefit. Therefore, continue following in the path of Hashem and subdue yourselves before Him. Then, in this merit, Hashem will speak to me for your benefit.

What follows from this discussion is that man must love Hashem wholeheartedly, without limit. He should constantly examine and calculate his steps to see if he is doing enough to reach this goal. This is the meaning of the words "He called to Moshe… from the Tent of Meeting". Hashem, in His great kindness, calls upon every Jewish soul to form a connection with and cleave to the Tent of Meeting. Through this, his love for Hashem will be as firm as a peg and will not falter.

The Haftarah

The Haftarah of the week: "This people which I fashioned for Myself" (Yeshaya 43)

The connection to the Parsha: In the Haftarah, Israel is accused of not bringing the offerings to Hashem, while the Parsha speaks about the laws concerning the service of the offerings.

Words of the Sages

What in Fact Are We Scrubbing?

Sefer Vayikra begins with the law of a Jew who sins unintentionally. In order to refine and purify himself, he is required to bring an animal offering for atonement. He purchases a healthy bull and goes to Yerushalayim, to the Beit Hamikdash, to offer his sacrifice. But for his offering to be accepted willingly, there is an important and critical condition: The offering must be brought with desire, with a sincere desire to atone for his sin, repent and draw closer to the Creator.

But what if a person does not understand the importance of the matter and does not want to bring his offering? If he brings his offering without true will and desire, it seemingly will not afford him the intended benefit? Chazal come and reconcile this problem: We are told to force him until he says he wants to offer; we force him to want!

Inside the heart of every Jew, points out HaRav Kovalesky shlita in 'Peninei Parshat Hashavua', burns a constant, powerful flame of desire, the aspiration and desire to do good, fulfil the will of his Creator and give Him pleasure. Every Jew, in every situation and every place, possesses this spark. His past or future does not make a difference. This spark will continue to burn inside him. It must only be set alight, the spark must be kindled, giving life to the glowing coal and enabling it to transform into a flaming fire that guides his actions. The more we are aware of this latent desire, the more we internalize that it beats in our hearts, the easier it will be for us to spark the momentum, to allow it to lead us to fulfil our true desire: To give pleasure to our Creator!

Once, towards the end of Adar, the Rabbanim of our Yeshiva approached the Admor, HaRav Sholom Ber of Lubavitch zt"l, to ask his advice about a certain bachur who had recently joined the Yeshiva. His conduct and way of speech were worldly and far from the Yeshiva way of life. "He is completely detached from the spiritual life of the Yeshiva, totally immersed in This World, in repulsive materialism. How can we help him?" They wished to know.

"During the day, he should attend all the study sessions," instructed the Rebbe and then added a surprising order: "After that, every evening on completing his learning, he should set aside some time to work hard at cleaning for Pesach. He should exert himself, polish, scour and scrub. The physical effort expended in Pesach cleaning possesses a segulah to cleanse the body from the materialism that governs it and bestow quality, spiritual life!"

The Rabbanim were surprised but they did as the Rebbe instructed. They were astounded to see the great change that took place in the bachur's heart. Indeed, the physical exertion cleansed his soul from the materialism in which it was enveloped, and lent him a spiritual aura and true aspirations, to the extent that he later became one of the acclaimed personalities among the Lubavitcher chassidim.

It transpires that the cleaning for Pesach, the intensive physical labor, the hours of rigorous work over several weeks, creates a deep turnaround in the soul. As the holy Rabbi Pinchas of Koritz zt"l revealed to us, the cleaning and scrubbing on Erev Pesach of the entire house, the re-organizing, getting rid of garbage and junk, is what leads to a cleansing and renewal of the soul.

Let us search out and pursue every opportunity of expending effort to clean and scrub because not we are not only cleaning the dirt on the floors, but we are renewing our souls, cleansing ourselves and allowing ourselves to connect to the elevated moments of general renewal that the festival of Pesach affords!

Walking in Their Ways

A Picture for Posterity

Rabbi David Elbaz, shlita, is the principal of the Jewish school in Paris. He related that once, while straightening up his office, he decided to throw out old binders which were dusty and no longer had any use.

Suddenly, from one of these binders, a photograph slipped out. It was a picture of a student who had learned in his institution years ago. Rabbi Elbaz picked up the picture and placed it on his desk. Whenever he came across it, he would give it a quick glance, remembering his dear disciple.

After two days, his phone rang shrilly. The voice on the other end asked if Rabbi Elbaz remembered this student whose photograph sat before his eyes. Rabbi Elbaz was stunned at the "coincidence". He replied that for the past two days, this student’s picture had sat on his desk. The voice on the other end had some bad tidings. A short time before, this boy had been killed in a serious car accident, rachmana litzlan.

Rabbi Elbaz was shaken by the news. He was filled with dread and came to me to ask if there was some sort of Heavenly message for him in the fact that he had found the photograph two days before the boy died.

I calmed him down, assuring him he had nothing to be afraid of. His finding the picture was only a sign that his pupil’s passing was imminent.

This incident should teach us all a life lesson. We are all living on a temporary visa, here today and gone tomorrow. Therefore, it would be wise to prepare food for the long journey ahead. This is Torah and mitzvot, the only fare which sustains a person in the World to Come.

Since the sign was sent specifically to the school office, I instructed Rabbi Elbaz to arrange an assembly to inspire the members of the school. He should share his story of the picture with everyone gathered. This would give them pause for thought about the end of all men. They would certainly be aroused to entertain thoughts of teshuvah, which would be to the merit of the pure soul of this young man.

Guard Your Tongue

It Will Be Impossible to Repent Completely

The main prohibition of lashon hara is "You shall not be a gossipmonger among your people". However, the Chafetz Chaim enumerates the large number of positive and negative commandments that a person transgresses if he is not careful about the prohibition of lashon hara and rechilut. A 'ba'al lashon hara', referring to one who habitually speaks lashon hara, can easily amass a considerable number of sins, more than is possible when committing any other prohibition. That is why Chazal say, "For three transgressions a person is punished in This World and receives no portion in The World to Come: idolatry, illicit relations and murder, and lashon hara is equal to and above them all".

Furthermore, it is not possible for a ba'al lashon hara to appease and ask forgiveness from all those who were hurt by all the lashon hara he spoke. He cannot repent fully for his sins because it will be hard for him to remember all those who were hurt and even if he remembers, he will not be able to reach them all, including future generations who were harmed. Therefore, he will not achieve forgiveness.

Pearls of the Parsha

The Shofar Was Left as an Eternal Remembrance

"And the Kohen shall cause it all to go up in smoke on the Altar" (Vayikra 1:9)

"'It all': Including the horns and the hooves" (Torat Kohanim).

Rabbeinu Chaim ben Attar zya"a, the Holy Ohr HaChaim asks:

Why, when Avraham Avinu offered up the ram as a burnt offering, did he leave the horns to serve as Shofrot (see Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer Ch. 31) and did not offer them up on the Altar?

The Ohr HaChaim offers several explanations:

It could be that in fact, he did place everything on the altar, but the heat caused the horns to fly off the altar and as the Mishna says (Zevachim 86a) says, "Whatever flies off the altar should not be returned".

Another explanation could be that since the Torah had not yet been given, whoever observed the Torah [as Chazal tell us (Yoma 28b), Avraham Avinu fulfilled the entire Torah], observed it of their own free will and did so whenever there was no reason to act differently. But, when there was a G-dly revelation not to observe a Torah command, they were permitted to act in that way, for example, the marriage of Tamar and Yehuda, or Ya'akov marrying two sisters.

In this case too, the horns of the ram were kept as a remembrance by Avraham Avinu due to a prophetical vision (Midrash Bereishit Rabba 56:9) and that is why he did not burn them on the altar.

There Are Commandments and There Are Commandments

"When a ruler sins, and commits one from among all the commandments of Hashem his G-d that may not be done, unintentionally, and becomes guilty" (Vayikra 4:22)

The words "and commits one from among all the commandments of Hashem his G-d that may not be done" seem redundant, for if a ruler sins, he is certainly transgressing a forbidden act?

The Divrei Yoel of Satmar asks this question and adds another puzzling aspect. Why does the Torah call the sin a 'commandment'?

The Divrei Yoel answers by explaining an important principle in Avodat Hashem. The Yetzer Hara does not approach man and openly seduce him to sin, rather he blinds his eyes and persuades him that the act he is about to commit is a mitzvah, a 'commandment', although really it is a great sin. When faced with a Jewish ruler, the Yetzer Hara will certainly not persuade him to sin in an outright manner, but will indirectly blind him and make him think that the sin is a mitzvah.

This, then, is the explanation of "and commits one from among all the commandments of Hashem", meaning that he makes a mistake and thinks that he is doing a mitzvah, but the truth is "that may not be done", it is forbidden to perform this kind of commandment because in fact it is a sin.

On these lines, the darshanim add in jest:

A Jew once mistakenly entered a reform Temple and noticed a sign hanging on the eastern wall stating "ותלמוד תורה כנגד כולם", "And the study of Torah is equivalent to them all". He immediately asked, "Since when is Torah study important to you? And what a proclamation!"

This was their ready answer: "We read the sign from left to right, as the English language is read, so it reads, "כולם כנגד תורה ותלמוד", "All are against Torah and Talmud".

The Soul Sins

"Speak to the Children of Israel, saying: When a soul will sin" (Vayikra 4:2)

"There are ten things that serve the soul" (man's main source of vitality), says the Midrash. "The esophagus for food, the windpipe for sound, the liver for warmth, the lungs for drink, the intestines for grinding (the food), the spleen for laughter, the stomach for sleep, the gall-bladder for jealousy, the kidneys for thoughts, the heart to conclude (the thought within the deed) and the soul is above them all. Hashem said to the soul, 'I made you more distinguished than them all and you go and steal and rob and sin? As it says, 'When a soul will sin'.

From the Treasury

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

Hashem Called Moshe Using an Expression of Closeness

There are many stories concerning our Gedolim who experienced revelations from the Upper Worlds.

It is related about the esteemed Maran Rabbeinu Chaim Pinto zya"a, that once during the Mussaf prayer he merited this experience of 'aliyat neshama'. Similarly, the Ba'al Shem Tov zt"l, while washing his hands for the third Shabbat meal, understood that the holy 'Ohr HaChaim' had passed away at that moment. He became aware of this through an 'aliyat neshama'.

Therefore, if a person sanctifies himself and conquers his inclination, elevating himself in Torah and yirat shamayim, he is considered greater than the angels. The angels stand ready to serve their Creator at all times and are prepared to fulfil any mission they are asked to carry out, while man who lives in This World, even though he has temptations and desires, for example, lashon hara, immorality, pride and honor, yet despite all this, he is ready to shout and declare "We will do and we will obey" and only seeks the closeness of Hashem without paying attention to the persuasions of the Yetzer Hara, will certainly achieve a higher level than angels. About him it says (Tehillim 103:20), "the strong warriors who do His bidding". He is called a strong warrior because he conquers his Yetzer Hara. This is the reason why the Midrash compares Am Yisrael to the level of angels who conquered their inclination and declared "We will do and we will obey".

This could be the meaning of the verse "He called to Moshe". Why does it not say 'He said' or 'He spoke'? "He called" is an expression that the verse uses for the angels, as it says, "And one [angel] will call another and say" and "will call" is an expression of closeness. The word 'וקרא', 'will call', adding an extra one for the word itself, has the same numerical value as 'וקרב', which can be re-arranged to spell 'קרוב', close, implying that just as the angels have a close connection to Hashem, so Hashem used the same expression of closeness to call Moshe Rabbeinu because He loves him and calls him by his name. Moshe Rabbeinu's great closeness to Hashem stemmed from his many mitzvot and good deeds.

Therefore, the Midrash says "Bless Hashem, O His angels", this refers to Moshe and Aharon whose closeness to Hashem was above the norm. Closeness to Hashem was the only thing that mattered to them in This World. This was their singular desire and toil in This World. Therefore, when Moshe Rabbeinu wished to sanctify and purify himself, he left his wife since he did not want to have any form of connection to the material world. All he sought was a closeness to Hashem, as it says (Tehillim 73:28), "But for me, G-d's nearness is my good".

A Novel Look at the Parsha

Save the Tension

When Should Kimcha D'Pischa be Given to Benefit the Needy?

The laws of Pesach begin with the following introductory halacha: "Thirty days before Pesach, one begins studying the laws of Pesach." The Rema writes, "And it is customary to buy wheat to distribute to the poor for their Pesach needs". The Chafetz Chaim zt"l, in 'Sha'ar Hatzion', asks in the name of the 'Beit David': This is a specific law brought by the Talmud Yerushalmi (Baba Batra 1:4) so why does the Rema define it only as a custom?

Several commentaries answer that the Rema indeed lays it down as a custom. For according to the Yerushalmi, it is enough to donate money for Kimcha D'Pischa on Erev Pesach itself or close to the festival, while the Rema brings it adjacent to the halacha about studying the laws of Pesach thirty days before the festival and writes "And it is customary…". The 'and' implies that the custom to buy wheat for distribution should also be observed already from Purim (which is thirty days before Pesach).

To illustrate the reason for this custom, HaRav Aharon Toisig shlita relates a most telling story (Korban L'Torah on Haggadah Shel Pesach):

A certain talmid served as a voluntary driver for the Posek, HaGaon Rabbi Moshe Feinstein zt"l, who as we know, considered every minute precious and calculated his time precisely. This talmid told over the following story in which he was involved.

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein zt"l once participated in an important meeting with his contemporaries, the leaders of American Jewry, the Gaonim Rabbi Aharon Kotler zt”l and Rabbi Ya'akov Kaminetzky zt"l. They discussed pertinent topics, made appropriate decisions, and then at ten o'clock Rabbi Moshe asked for permission to leave. He entered his car and asked his driver to take him to a certain hall where a wedding was taking place.

"A wedding of a talmid?" the driver asked in interest. "No", Rabbi Moshe replied.

"A relative?"

"Would it be a relative, my Rabbanit would also participate."

The driver probed no further.

They arrived at the wedding hall and the driver parked the car. He then accompanied the distinguished Posek to the hall. What excitement his entry caused! The mechutan welcomed him with great honor and Rabbi Moshe showered him with blessings. "I am from the Kallah's side," Rabbi Moshe introduced himself, "a relative who is personally acquainted with her. You merited a treasure, appreciate it!" The driver listened to the exchange and was astounded.

The mechutan too was surprised: "We had no idea that the Rav is a close family member. We would have invited the Rav to the chuppah!" Rabbi Moshe replied, "I would have come with pleasure, but I was involved in an important meeting concerning public affairs. I left before the end and hurried here!"

Rabbi Moshe was led to the top table and unlike his custom, he stayed for a considerable amount of time. A long line formed to wish the 'family member' mazal tov. Each of the guests introduced himself, explained how he was related and expressed his joy that he is now a relative of the Gadol Hador. With patience and affability, Rabbi Moshe accepted the blessings and blessed the guests, serenely waiting for the Chatan and Kallah to come out of the Yichud room. As the band played the welcoming tunes, he got up and danced with the Chatan. The fervor soared. He repeatedly praised the Kallah, her distinguished lineage, personality and upright middot, to the delight of the Chatan. As he left the hall, accompanied by blessings from the hosts, he turned to a young girl and asked, "Can you please call the Kallah and ask her to come to the mechitza?!"

The Kallah was called and Rabbi Moshe, accompanied by his driver, went over to the mechitza. She was utterly moved. "You are my relative," Rabbi Moshe explained simply, "Of course I came. You are joining a beautiful family." He blessed her profusely while the Kallah was moved to tears, answering 'Amen' with her entire heart.

Back in the car, the driver could not contain himself. "Can I ask the Rav a question?"

"On the way to the hall, the Rav said that the wedding was not of a relative, the proof being that the Rabbanit did not come".

"I will explain", answered Rabbi Moshe.

"Several days ago, while I was sitting and learning, the Rabbanit entered and said, 'A Kallah is here for a blessing'.

I told her to come inside, blessed her wholeheartedly and returned to my studies.

Several moments later the Rabbanit entered and said that the Kallah was standing in the corridor, weeping. 'I do not know what is wrong, the Kallah refuses to say'. I asked her to come inside. She entered, still crying, and explained that she is a Yerushalmit, from the Old Yishuv, and her parents are bitterly poor. They do not have a penny. She became engaged to an American boy from a well-to-do family, who stated that they are prepared to cover all the wedding expenses on condition that the wedding takes place in America. Without a choice, she agreed to go to America. But she has no-one here and feels so alone. Her sobs intensified. She was about to become part of an unfamiliar, extended, close-knit family, and she feels lost and lonely…

'How can I help you?' I asked.

She replied, 'If the Rav would come to my wedding and introduce himself as my relative, my value will immediately rise in their eyes and they will treat me with respect and admiration'.

'How can I lie and pretend, G-d forbid?' I wondered aloud.

The Kallah answered, 'Rabbi, is there such a thing as a Jewish person who has no relative?! There is no such thing. If so, I am a relative, even if only a distant relative'.  With this, she took out an invitation from her bag and handed it to me…"

The driver was still left with one question:

"Why was important to the Rav to take the time to call the Kallah, wait for her and bless her? She already received your blessings?"

"You must understand," explained Rabbi Moshe in his pleasant manner, "She asked me to come, it was important for her that I come. She put such hope into this as the way to be regarded with esteem by her new family. In another hour or two the wedding will end, she will certainly ask her husband if I came and she will be delighted to hear that indeed I came.

But meanwhile, for another hour or two she would be left in doubt. Although the family are making her happy and dancing for her, she isn’t calm. Her happiness is not complete.

What will I not do to save her one hour of tension?!"

Don't Leave Him Anxious!

And what about all the destitute, who have no idea how they will celebrate the approaching Pesach festival?

In truth, people are concerned for them and are in fact collecting money for Kimcha D'Pischa. Don’t worry, in the end, they will have what to eat, even in abundance. The words of the Vilna Gaon zt"l are well known. The verse writes "For a seven-day period you shall eat matzot… Matzot shall be eaten throughout the seven-day period" (Shemot 13:6-7). Why is the command repeated and why the first time is 'מצה', matzah, written without a 'vav' yet the second time with a 'vav'? The answer is that there is one command for eating matzah and a second command to take care that others should also have matzot to eat. Therefore, the first time 'מצה' is written 'lacking', because for yourself you are permitted to cut back and save. However, when it comes to others you should take care of them with expansiveness and abundance. But don't leave them apprehensive until Erev Pesach!

This concept is true not only concerning the poor and Kimcha D'Pischa. If you can help someone, make him happy, do it as soon as you can, and the earlier the better!


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