July 2nd, 2022

3rd of Tamuz 5782


The Great Responsibility Imposed on the Individual

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

"Korach son of Yitzhar son of Kehat son of Levi separated [lit. took] himself" (Bamidbar 16:1)

Rashi writes: He took himself to one side to be separated from the congregation, to protest about the priesthood. Onkelus translates "he took" as "split"; he separated himself from the congregation to support dissension.

We know that every Jewish soul includes within it a part of all the other souls of the Jewish people, because we all come from one root and are connected. Due to this, each individual has an enormous influence on the public. In particular, a great responsibility rests on the shoulders of Torah scholars, those who sit and engage in Torah, because the rest of the Jewish people, whatever their level, are connected to them. And through their toil in Torah they have the power to exert a tremendous spiritual influence on the rest of the nation, indirectly causing them to strengthen their Torah observance.

Today our holy yeshivot comprise many ba'alei teshuva who were previously empty of all spiritual content. They desecrated Shabbat, ate non-kosher food, and did not observe any of the mitzvot. But now, baruch Hashem, they have changed their ways and constantly seek to rise higher on the spiritual ladder, meticulously observing all the mitzvot, both 'major' and 'minor'. How did they merit climbing to this level of repentance and changing their ways for the better? It is certainly in the merit of those bnei Torah who toil in Torah! The influence of their Torah study stretches to even the most ignorant Jew, because all souls are closely connected with an inseparable bond. As Chazal say, "The Torah, the Holy One, and Yisrael are one."

This was Korach's mistake. Although he was a prophet and among those who carried the Aron, since he took himself to one side and excluded himself from the general public, his soul was no longer included with them. Since he took no responsibility for the public, he also lost the merit of the public and therefore lost both worlds.

This is the meaning of Chazal's statement: "Moshe is equal to all Yisrael." Meaning, Moshe Rabbeinu's soul includes all the souls of the rest of the Jewish people. This placed an enormous responsibility on his shoulders, to positively influence each one. That is why Moshe excelled in the attribute of humility, for if not for his modesty, just the very thought that he had the power to influence all Am Yisrael would be enough to fill his heart with pride.

It is not just the soul of Moshe Rabbeinu that includes all other souls, but every single Jew is responsible for all Jewish souls. This is the meaning of the words we say in the morning prayers, "My G-d, the soul You placed within me is pure." The word "בי, within me" has a numerical value of twelve, alluding to the twelve tribes. This means that when every Jew blesses Hashem for his soul, he is affirming that his soul includes the souls of all twelve tribes.

Therefore, when waking up in the morning, if a person would sincerely contemplate and consider these sublime matters, his soul would immediately become enthusiastic about the great merit that is its lot. On the other hand, he will also understand the great responsibility that rests upon him to improve himself; rectify his actions and straighten his ways, because the way he conducts himself affects so many others.

This is the meaning of the Midrash (Kohelet Rabba 7) which states that when Hashem created Adam Harishon, He took him and showed him every tree in Gan Eden. Hashem said to Adam, "See My creations, how pleasant and fine are they. All that I created I created for you, so pay attention not to spoil and destroy My world!"

The Mishnah (Avot 1:14) also tells us, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am for myself, what am I?" This means that a person must correct and straighten his ways and feel within himself that if he does not do this work, no one else will do it for him.

It is told that when the Vilna Gaon was a young child he sat alone in the beit midrash at the conclusion of Yom Kippur, studying Torah throughout the night. In the morning when his father found him still engrossed in his studies, he asked him, "What made you do this?" Eliyahu answered modestly, "On Motza'ei Yom Kippur everyone is busy either eating, or building the sukkah, so it turns out that there is a great lack of Torah study in the world. And as we know, the world exists only in the merit of Torah, so who will protect the world?! That is why I sat and engaged in Torah, so there would be adequate protection for all mankind..."

Words of the Sages

Marital Harmony

Parshat Korach is a most relevant section in the Torah. The darshanim say that unfortunately, to this day dissension rages wherever we find ourselves. We will therefore try to glean applicable moral lessons from the incident with Korach.

The sefer Kol Mishalotecha quotes fascinating conversations that took place between Rabbi Eliyahu Mann and Maran Harav Kanievsky zt"l. As he testifies, "Rabbeinu sheds tears and is distressed about the dissension that occurs in Jewish homes. On hearing their pain his eyes flow with tears. He also gave guidance on who should forgo, and when to forgo."

Today many people do not know how to behave. One must learn how to give in and yield! Most friction occurs over nonsense. Since it is harder for a wife to concede, the husband should give in! It all starts with something she said, a word that was hurtful, and the like. A ben Torah must know how to yield!

The Midrash Rabba (Nasso sec. 9:2) explains the verse, "איש איש, Any man whose wife shall go astray" in the following way: The Torah teaches you that you should be a vatran in your house. If the wine spills, do not make a big fuss, as it says "I have what to bequeath [to] those who love me;" and similarly if your oil spills, as it says "and I shall fill their storehouses." Regarding if your garment tears, it says (Tehillim 20), "May Hashem fulfill all your requests." But if you hear that your wife is not keeping a mitzvah properly, rise up like a man. One who is a man should be a man. That is why it repeats "איש, איש, Any man." It is clear from this Midrash that concerning material matters the husband must give in, but when it comes to spiritual matters, he must act like a man! 

"Harav Shteinman told me that once when he was abroad," Rabbi Mann related to Harav Chaim zt"l, "an eighty-year-old man asked him for a blessing. Upon inquiring as to what blessing was desired, the petitioner replied: 'For marital harmony.' Harav Shteinman turned to him in bewilderment: 'Such an old man and you still haven't learned how to get along with your wife?'"

Harav Chaim's reaction reflected what is found in the sefer Orchot Tzaddikim where it says that the way a person behaves at age eight is exactly how he will behave when he is eighty! Of course, this is only if he doesn't work on himself… however, truly, nature is difficult to change!

Harav Chaim pointed out another caution regarding peace: "Manoach and his wife had an argument (see Shoftim 13). He claimed it was because she was barren that they did not have children. But his wife said he is the barren one. The angel came to make peace between them, and informed her that she was the barren one (but despite that, Hashem will change her nature and she will have a child). Therefore he addressed her and said, 'הנה נא, Behold you are barren.' He used the expression 'na' as if implying, 'Please (נא) do not argue with your husband; you should know that you are the barren one…'

"This verse teaches us that whoever wants to reconcile between disputants should not approach the one who is right and tell him 'You are right!' for had the angel come to Manoach, on the contrary, he would have intensified the controversy, for Manoach could later claim, 'See, even the angel agrees with me!' Rather, a mediator should approach the one who is wrong and explain to him that he is not right and should apologize to the other party, and thereby peace will be restored between them.

"This is in fact how Maran the Chazon Ish acted when there was a big dispute and Maran felt one side was right. What did he do? He sent someone to inform the mistaken party that he was wrong, and did not say the other party should be told they are right."

Rabbi Mann asked further: "How old were Manoach and his wife?"

"Probably quite old. And we have already mentioned that the way a person behaves at age eight he will behave at age eighty. However, with Torah it is possible to change and transform oneself!"

Walking in Their Ways

A Brother Like No Other

A wonderful incident demonstrating my father’s far-reaching vision took place when I was approximately six years old. At that time, we were six children at home: my older brother and sister, myself, and my three younger sisters.

Throughout the years, family members would tease me and say, “What bad luck! You have three baby sisters and no younger brothers!” This type of statement caused me untold anguish.

I would ascend to my grandfather’s grave and pour out my heart to my Maker. I begged Him to make everyone stop their teasing, and added, “Let the next one born to our family be a boy.”

Father used to see my angst and would comfort me by saying, “Why are you distressed over such nonsense? Have no fear, with Hashem's help we will have another boy.” After some time, we were indeed blessed with a baby boy – my brother Rabbi Avraham shlit"a, who rescued me from the taunts of my tormentors.

Nowadays when people reach a level of despondency and despair, they often suffer in silence. Some of them even commit suicide out of desperation, may Hashem spare us! But we received a pure Jewish upbringing. We were taught that in every difficult situation, one must pray to Hashem. He alone can extricate a person from his hardships. Even as a very young child, I knew that the only solution to my discomfort was to pray to Hashem, Who can do anything.

A Day of Delight

Shabbat Preparations

1.  One should not greet the Shabbat amidst disorder, therefore in honor of Shabbat one should tidy, clean, and wash the house. One should also remove the cobwebs, a segulah for marital harmony.

2.  One should spread a beautiful tablecloth on the table for the duration of Shabbat. Even if during the week the table is nicely covered, in honor of Shabbat one should change it for a nicer tablecloth.

3.  It is a good and proper custom to buy flowers and even roses in honor of Shabbat. One should obtain several types of spices so that one can recite the blessing on fragrances. It is a choice mitzvah to recite the blessing over a hadas meshulash (Shabbat 32a).

4.  The Gemara (Shabbat 33b) relates the story of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and his son Rabbi Elazar. After thirteen years of hiding out in a cave and studying Torah, they left the cave and saw an elderly Jew hurrying on his way on Erev Shabbat, holding two bundles of hadassim. They asked him, "Why are you holding hadassim?" He answered, "In honor of Shabbat." They then said, "Is one bundle not enough for you?" He explained, "One corresponds to 'zachor' and the other to 'shamor'." Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai said to Rabbi Elazar his son, "See how dear the mitzvot are to the Jewish people!"

5.  One should not eat too much on Friday in order to have an appetite for the Shabbat meal. From the ninth hour, one should not even partake of a regular meal eaten during the week [i.e. the ninth hour from the beginning of the day; in the winter at about 2 p.m. and in the summer about 4:15 p.m.].

6.  If a bar mitzvah or brit milah takes place on Friday, one may hold the meal at any time during the day, since it is a seudat mitzvah. A seudat pidyon haben (even if it has been postponed) may also take place at any time on Friday, but it is preferable to have the meal as early as possible in the morning. However, it is correct to postpone a celebrative seudah for the completion of a masechet, even if it was completed on a Friday.

7.  A l'chaim celebrated by the parents of a bride and groom may take place on a Friday since it is not accompanied by a large meal and is generally not a large celebration.

8.  On Erev Shabbat it is a mitzvah to taste the Shabbat dishes to check that they are properly seasoned in honor of Shabbat. Anyone who tastes the Shabbat food is blessed with long years.

9.  It is a mitzvah to have a haircut on Friday, if one's hair is long. This is permitted even after midday. If it is not possible on Friday, he should have a haircut on Thursday night or even during the day.

10.  One should cut one's nails on Erev Shabbat. One may also cut them on Thursday, even though they start to grow after approximately three days, which would be on Shabbat. One should be careful to dispose of the nails in the toilet and not throw them on the ground.

From the Treasury

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

Grandeur and Greatness are His Who Lives Eternally

"Korach son of Yitzhar son of Korach son of Levi separated himself" (Bamidbar 16: 1).

The fact that Parshat Korach is written in the Torah between the section of tzitzit and the Parshah of Chukat is no coincidence.

In the section of tzitzit it says (Bamidbar 15:39), "It shall constitute tzitzit (fringes) for you, that you may see it and remember all the commandments of Hashem and perform them." And in Parshat Chukat it says (Bamidbar 19:2-14), "This is the decree of the Torah… a man who would die in a tent." Chazal expound (Berachot 63b), "Torah is only acquired by one who kills himself over it."

These are two necessary and fundamental conditions to merit the crown of Torah. First of all, "that you may see it," seeing Hashem and recognizing His greatness. To know Him and remember all the mitzvot by looking at the turquoise thread of tzitzit, as Chazal say (Chulin 89a), "[The] turquoise [thread] is similar to [the color of] the sea, the sea to the sky, the sky to the sapphire stone, and the sapphire stone to the Throne of Glory."

Thus when a person looks at tzitzit, he is reminded of the greatness of Hashem Who sits on the Throne of Glory, and thereby also remembers His mitzvot. However, this is not enough. Because we are accustomed to wearing tzitzit every day, we do not always feel the powerful impact we should get when looking at them. If so, how is the promise "and you will remember all the commandments of Hashem" fulfilled? Therefore Parshat Chukat comes along and lays down another condition for accepting the Torah: "A man who would die in a tent." Man is obligated to 'kill' himself for the sake of Torah, meaning to diminish himself before it. He must subjugate all his desires and aspirations for the honor of Torah, and recognize his [lowly] value in comparison to it, and behave with excessive humility.

These two conditions are intertwined. Although the mitzvah of tzitzit teaches us to remember Hashem's greatness and recognize how exalted He is, on the other hand man must also comprehend his limited worth and divest himself of his negative traits in honor of the Torah. For if he recognizes Hashem's greatness but is full of pride and considers himself honorable, he will certainly not want to remember and observe Hashem's commandments. Therefore, at the same time as recognizing the exaltation of the Divine Presence, it is man's duty to humble himself and realize his minimal value as compared to the Torah and its scholars.

Zecher Tzaddik Livracha

Hagaon Rabbi Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz zt"l

Hagaon Rabbi Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz zt"l was a sacred remnant from past generations, growing up in the city of Volozhin, Lithuania, metropolis of Torah. In his youth he studied in the Raimelis yeshiva in Vilna, under Harav Shlomo Heiman, and also in the 'Mother of all Yeshivot' – the Volozhiner yeshiva.

He later related regarding that period in his life: "When I travelled home from yeshiva for Pesach, I went by horse and cart. The roads then were full of protruding stones, the wheels of the wagon were made of iron, and the journey lasted many hours. When I arrived home I had to rest for a few days just to get over my exhaustion from the journey!

"During one period in yeshiva when there were no sugar cubes for tea, the talmidim approached Harav Heiman to ask for sugar. But he replied, 'Drink the tea with the responses of Rabbi Akiva Eiger!' He said this in all seriousness, because Torah was the song of his life."

In 5677 Rabbi Michel Yehuda immigrated to Eretz Israel and studied at the Chevron Yeshiva in Yerushalayim. After his marriage he accepted the position as maggid shiur at the Tiferet Zion Yeshiva in Bnei Brak, where many of the greatest Torah scholars, such as Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky zt"l, Rabbi Nissim Karelitz zt"l, and more, studied under his tutelage.

Later, together with Harav Shlomo Yosef Kahaneman, he founded the Ponivezh Yeshiva for young bachurim, which he headed together with Harav Aharon Leib Shteinman zt"l.

His son, hagaon Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak shlit"a, Rosh Yeshiva of Beit Midrash Elyon Yeshiva, related: "It was unbelievable how every single one of his disciples felt as if they were 'his beloved, only son,' as Chazal expound on the verse 'Teach them to your children,' – this refers to one's talmidim."

The respect he accorded every human being was astonishing and is woven into the memory of his talmidim. One student related: "Several years ago, at the end of a major event in Yerushalayim, I saw the Rosh Yeshiva get into his car. The car window was open and crowds gathered round to receive a blessing. When a reasonable amount of time passed yet the line showed no sign of abating, the driver turned to the Rosh Yeshiva to ask his permission to close the window and start driving. The Rosh Yeshiva answered him: 'People have so many troubles, how can I ignore them?' And so he continued listening to the angsts of his people, blessing each one as if he were his son or closest disciple."

In particular he bestowed special honor on Torah scholars. He once attended a certain Torah conference and noticed a young Rosh Yeshiva walk up to the dais. He immediately got up, ran towards him and offered him his chair. That talmid chacham was surprised, but Rabbeinu told him simply, "You are the Rosh Yeshiva of a Yeshiva Gedola, while I am only the Rosh Yeshiva of a Yeshiva Ketana"...

Hagaon Rabbi David Chananya Pinto shlit"a enjoyed a close relationship with Rabbi Michel Yehuda zt"l, and during his visits, the Rosh Yeshiva would grasp the hand of his visitor with clear affection, holding Rabbi David Chananya's hand in his holy hands for a long time. The connection between them went far beyond just questions and answers or even personal guidance. It was like a personal relationship, a family connection.

"I had the merit of 'making' Rabbi Michel Yehuda my Rav who guided me," relates Rabbi David Chananya shlit"a. "I would ask him for his advice in all kinds of areas; zikui harabim topics that concerned thousands of precious Jews, and also personal 'small' daily matters. He answered everything, paying attention to every question, answering clearly and with true seriousness.

"Rabbi Michel Yehuda was like Moshe Rabbeinu; he had true love for every Jew. If a chassid approached him he would receive him in the same way as an Ashkenazi or Sephardi Jew; with or without a beard made no difference to him. Everyone was awarded the same smile, the smile that never changed. That's what was so unique about him, like Moshe Rabbeinu about whom it is written, 'And the man Moshe was exceedingly humble.' The Rosh Yeshiva did not have a special smile for the rich and a different smile for the poor or average fellow. It was the same smile all the way."


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