June 18th, 2022

19th of Sivan 5782


The Life of a Jew is Governed by Divine Providence

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

"According to the word of Hashem would they encamp and according to the word of Hashem would they journey" (Bamidbar 9:20).

This verse teaches us that all Bnei Yisrael's journeys and encampments were according to Hashem's command, for Bnei Yisrael did not move without His directive. Not only were their journeys and encampments according to Hashem's word, but also every single act of their lives.

This principle applies to each and every Jew no matter his level. He must know and internalize that all his deeds must conform with "According to the word of Hashem would they encamp and according to the word of Hashem would they journey." This means that all man's deeds and his entire conduct in This World must be only according to Hashem's word and the way He wishes us to live our lives. Living according to this important foundation infuses all our actions with holiness and purity.

We find that when Avraham Avinu sent his servant Eliezer to take a wife for Avraham's son Yitzchak, Eliezer asked (Bereishit 24:5), "Perhaps the woman shall not wish to follow me to this land; shall I take your son back to the land from which you departed?" Avraham answered that under no circumstances should he return Yitzchak to that land, for it is Hashem Who arranges marriages and we must live in line with "According to the word of Hashem would they encamp and according to the word of Hashem would will journey." Since this is the case, Hashem will send His angels to help him find a wife for Yitzchak.

Indeed, Eliezer knew well that trusting only in Hashem was how Avraham lived his life, knowing that everything is dependent on Hashem's judgement, as in "There is none other than Him." Therefore, Eliezer set off for Aram Nahara'im with this attitude, knowing that the outcome would be a result of Hashem's will. Reaching the well just when it was time to draw water, he stood there and began to pray to Hashem.

This was the education Eliezer received in Avraham Avinu's house. Eliezer was called "Damesek Eliezer" which according to the Gemara means that he watered others with the Torah of his master. What was his master's teaching? To know and instill deeply in one's heart that everything emanates from Hashem. Indeed, when Eliezer prayed for Hashem's assistance in finding a wife for Yitzchak, he said, "From where will come my help? My help is from Hashem." Eliezer's very name alludes to this idea. אליעזר can be split up into אלי – עזר , my help is from Hashem, for all assistance is from Hashem alone. In Avraham Avinu's home Eliezer learned to turn to Hashem for all his needs, for He is the One Who determines every happening and therefore all our actions must be according to His word.

When it comes to shidduchim we can clearly see the extent to which everything is orchestrated by Hashem, how He brings the two sides together in an unbelievable way. As Chazal say, "From Hashem is a wife for her husband;" He is the One who makes the match.

When a person wishes to take the straight path and live his life according to Hashem's word, then Hashem helps him along this path. In addition, Hashem may even change the natural order of the world for someone who devotedly follows Hashem's command.

My esteemed father zy"a personified "According to the word of Hashem would they encamp and according to the word of Hashem would they journey". He would often beg Hashem to fulfill a certain request, even if the matter seemed impossible according to nature. Indeed Hashem would fulfill his wishes since my father's every act was in accordance with Hashem's word.

Words of the Sages

The Diabetes that Buried the Temptation

"At the age of fourteen," relates a certain talmid chacham, "I began suffering from severe headaches that did not stop. At first they were attributed to the tension involved in registering for yeshiva, but when the pain did not let up, I was sent for comprehensive tests. It soon became clear that I was suffering from diabetes.

"I was very broken because it is not easy to live with this type of diabetes. It is hard for a healthy person to understand what it is like; it greatly limits daily life. I must not put anything into my mouth before measuring my blood sugar. My parents, who wished to encourage me, took me to the gaon Rabbi Yissachar Meir zt"l.

"We lived in Ofakim and Rabbi Yissachar, who lived in nearby Netivot, was a revered figure in our family. We often travelled to him for advice or a blessing, but now it was a different kind of trip. I knew that he too had diabetes and had tremendous experience in the field.

"We entered his room and my father told Rabbi Yissachar that the doctors had discovered I was suffering from diabetes. Rabbi Yissachar nodded and asked my father to leave for a few minutes while he speaks to me.

"Rabbi Yissachar held my hand, looked at me, and burst into tears. I felt he understood exactly what I was going through. I cried too, and when Rabbi Yissachar calmed down he began speaking in a fatherly manner, with words sweeter than sugar that I remember until today:

"'One of the great trials with which Hashem's tests man is in the area of food. It is very difficult to eat for Heaven's sake only, just to keep one's body alive, and not for the sake of satisfying temptation. Therefore most people put food into their mouths without thought. But we were given a precious gift. Hashem has given us a tool to elevate ourselves in all matters of food consumption. We have the merit to succeed in eating for the sake of serving Hashem.'

"At the time I did not understand the depth of his words, but I felt a wonderful sense of respect because Rabbi Yissachar considered both himself and I as one. 'We were given a precious gift…', 'We have the merit…' I, a fourteen-year-old, and he, an elderly Rosh Yeshiva and great talmid chacham, were in it together. We were both coping with the same challenge. I was not alone. We were both dealing with diabetes...

"'If we consider the matter it will cause us to thank and rejoice with this precious gift we received from Hashem!' said Rabbi Yissachar. 'Because from now on you will be able to eat only what you need to sustain yourself, and this transforms eating into avodat Hashem. Always remember that it is a special tool that we received for avodat Hashem!'

"Many years have passed since then. It's not always easy for me and my sugar is not always balanced. Life is not as sweet as I imagined it to be, but with Hashem's help I cope. Every day, with the rice cake or apple, with the cheese or fish, I remember the words Rabbi Yissachar told me when I was fourteen years old.

"Rabbi Yissachar served as sandak at our son's brit milah. When he warmly said goodbye to me after the ceremony, he told me honestly:

"'I was privileged to disseminate Torah among Klal Yisrael,' and he began enumerating the Torah institutions with which he was involved. 'I was privileged to establish a community of Bnei Torah, to establish yeshivot in the Negev, to bring students from Kfar Haro'eh to Yeshivat Azata. Hashem gave me the merit. But do you know with which merit I merited all this?'

"He cried, the baby cried, and I cried too. And then Rabbi Yissachar continued: 'I merited this as a result of eating for Heaven's sake. Due to my disease I cannot just put in my mouth whatever I want to eat. I cannot eat before I check my sugar levels. I do not know if I am allowed to eat an apple right now. Even salt I cannot put in a salad. Hashem took from me even this temptation, the last temptation. I have high blood pressure so my food must be salt-free. I have to weigh my bread accurately, and so as not to be tempted to eat more than the permitted amount; I eat only dry, old bread, never fresh bread. I don't open the door to the angel of death lurking at my door, wanting to enter along with the food I may not consume. But I have the merit of eating to sustain my body for avodat Hashem, and eating for the sake of Heaven is an unparalleled level of holiness…'"

Walking in Their Ways

True Valuables

When I was a child, I discerned Father’s abhorrence for money and all things materialistic.

Father had a shoe box which he hid in his closet, and in it he kept his so-called fortunes. We children imagined untold wealth accumulating in that small box. Only Mother a"h knew the truth. She would tell us, “One day, you will be surprised.”

After the shivah for our Father, we opened the shoe box and were, indeed, met with a surprise.

The secret box contained two envelopes. One held funds with which to marry off my siblings, and the other had money to cover Father’s funeral and burial expenses.

This, with another couple of thousand shekels, comprised all of Father’s possessions. When he had moved to Eretz Yisrael from Morocco, he had brought along tremendous fortunes. Where had it all gone?

Throughout his life, Father distributed his money among the needy. He also supported yeshivot. All that he left for himself was enough for the basic necessities.

After Father passed on, we learned the true value of money. It should never be regarded as an end, something to be amassed. Rather, it is only a means of serving Hashem.

A Day of Delight

Preparations for Shabbat

1. The sefer Chassidim tell us: "A person should not say, 'I will buy Shabbat delicacies,' if he knows this will cause dissension with his wife or parents, because 'Better a dry piece of bread with peace than a house full of contentious celebrations' (Mishlei 17:1). It also says, 'and you shall honor it,' and refraining from dispute on this day is honoring the Shabbat. The holy Zohar writes, 'Anyone who becomes angry on Shabbat is considered as if he kindled the fire of Gehinom.' Do not Chazal say that whoever has only a small amount of money to either buy wine for Kiddush or a candle for Shabbat, should rather buy a candle (lighting the Shabbat candles was established for marital harmony, at a time when there was no electric light), because marital harmony is preferable to wine for Kiddush? So how can he become involved with dissension right on the holy day?!"

2. It is advantageous to buy and prepare all the necessities for Shabbat on Friday. However, if this is difficult, such as in the winter when the day is short, or if it causes stress in the home, he should not leave all the preparations for Friday.

3. When preparing for Shabbat such as buying groceries, cooking, etc., he should say: "In honor of Shabbat Kodesh." These words cause the foods to be imbued with the sanctity of Shabbat. Before eating on Shabbat one should say: "I am about to fulfill the mitzvah of oneg Shabbat (enjoyment)," particularly since the mitzvah of oneg Shabbat is a Torah command.

4. Hashem does a great kindness with us and gives us the opportunity to erase our sins without terrible suffering, as the Arizal writes that Hashem uses the perspiration accumulated when preparing the Shabbat necessities to erase all a person's sins.

5. Every Erev Shabbat one should scrutinize his actions and repent, for he who observes Shabbat is forgiven for his sins, if he repented.

6. Even talmidei chachamim should try to prepare something in honor of Shabbat, as we find that some of the holy Amora'im would chop wood, kindle the fire, clean the house, replace the sand, or shop in honor of Shabbat. We should learn from them to take part in the preparations and no one should say "it is beneath my dignity", for on the contrary, honoring Shabbat is an honor for him.

From the Treasury

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

Moshe and Aharon's Desire to Draw Closer to Hashem

"Speak to Aharon and say to him: When you kindle the lamps, toward the face of the Menorah shall the seven lights cast light" (Bamidbar 8:2).

Chazal say, "Eleven of the tribes brought offerings (at the dedication of the Mizbeach), and the tribe of Ephraim and all the leaders brought offerings, besides the leader of the tribe of Levi. Who was their leader? Aharon HaKohen, who he did not offer with the other leaders.

Aharon was upset and said, 'Woe to me that perhaps because of me the tribe of Levi were excluded.' Hashem therefore told Moshe to tell Aharon, 'Do not fear, you are destined for greater than this.' Therefore it says, 'Speak to Aharon and say to him: "When you kindle the lamps…"' The offerings were brought as long as the Beit Hamikdash stood, but the lamps forever illuminate toward the face of the Menorah, and all the blessings I gave you to bless My children are never annulled."

Aharon HaKohen was chosen by Hashem to be the Kohen Gadol, the most distinguished position among Am Yisrael. So what place was there for Aharon HaKohen to be upset? Is an offering for the dedication of the Mizbeach more important than being the Kohen Gadol his entire life?

The reason could be that although Aharon was privileged to be the Kohen Gadol, he still regretted that neither he nor his tribe brought an offering for the dedication of the Mizbeach. Apparently, Moshe Rabbeinu, although he served as Kohen Gadol during the seven days of the dedication, must also have been as upset as his brother Aharon, that he too, who also belonged to the tribe of Levi, did not bring an offering.

On the one hand, both Moshe and Aharon possessed qualities that the rest of Bnei Yisrael did not merit. However, throughout their lives, these two leaders demanded of themselves to become ever more worthy, never satisfied with the level they had attained and constantly wishing to merit drawing even closer to Hashem. They understood there is no limit to how much a person should long for this closeness.

Therefore, not for nothing were they distressed about not having a share in the offerings. Even though Aharon HaKohen was the Kohen Gadol, and he and all his tribe worked in the Beit Hamikdash offering sacrifices and burning incense, nevertheless it never occurred to him that these services constituted any merit to be closer to Hashem than the rest of Bnei Yisrael, even the simplest of them.

Therefore Aharon HaKohen constantly searched for additional possibilities for further closeness, to no end, for he wanted to see the fulfillment of "Make for Me a Sanctuary so I may dwell among them." Besides carrying out his service in the Mishkan, his true desire was to become a "Mishkan" himself, worthy of the holy Shechina resting inside him.

Zecher Tzaddik Livracha

Rabbi Nissim Yagen

"Master of the world! I know why you take them, these young souls. Because of three transgressions: the desecration of family purity, tefillin, and Shabbat. Master of the world! Give them to me; I will return them to You in complete repentance. Do not take them, just give me time and I will return them to You in repentance!"

He indeed acted on his words. At the forefront of his mind was undoubtedly the mitzvah of zikui harabim (meriting the public). In order to merit a Jew with one mitzvah, he would travel great distances and do everything he could, just so a Jew would keep a mitzvah. He was once told that a woman from Beit She'an said that if Rabbi Yagen would bring her a head-covering, she would cover her hair. Without delay, he traveled from Yerushalayim to Beit She'an so the woman would cover her head as required by Torah law.

Rabbi Yagen had a regular 'companion' wherever he went in the country and in the world. He called this beloved 'companion' a "First-aid Kit." It did not contain sutures, tourniquets, or Polydine; these items can be obtained almost anywhere. Rather, the kit contained first-aid of a completely different sort – it included tefillin, mezuzot, equipment for examining mezuzot, prayer shawls, kippot, records and articles published in the press about the bankruptcy of state education, and more.

When asked about the necessity of such a kit in this age of fast shipment to anywhere in the country and in the world, he replied that sometimes a Jewish spark is ignited suddenly, and when that magic moment occurs, haste is of the utmost importance; one must quickly take advantage of an opportunity that sometimes may never return.

Many stories of miraculous salvations have been related in connection with Rabbi Nissim zt"l. But the common denominators of them all are on the one hand, his firm faith in the sages, and on the other hand, his enormous devotion to bringing merit to the public.

In a conversation with Rabbi Eliyahu Attias shlit"a, about the transcendent personality of Rabbi Nissim and his many activities on behalf of the public and the individual, he withdrew the Gemara Baba Metzia from his bookcase and pointed out the Chazal on page 85: "If you bring forth an honorable person from a glutton, then you will be like My own mouth;" meaning Hashem decrees a decree but cancels it for this person's sake.

You will find no brilliant innovations in this account. Just simple, natural things in line with the Torah view. Someone who returned the hearts of sons in repentance, drawing them closer to their Father in heaven. It is worthwhile for his words to be heard on High, to the extent that even if the Holy One pronounces a decree, He cancels it, for him...

When he fell ill in his prime, at the height of his success, he was extremely distressed that he could not continue his holy service. He repeatedly stated that he considers himself "an employee in the middle of the day who has not yet completed his work."

Despite his terrible pains and torments, he continued studying Torah at his yeshiva Kehillat Yaakov, which until today glorifies Yerushalayim. It is currently headed by his sons who follow in his footsteps. Rabbi Nissim passed away on the fourteenth of Sivan, may his memory protect us.


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