July 23rd, 2022

24th of Tamuz 5782


The Power of Yehoshua Bin Nun

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

"You shall place some of your majesty upon him, so that the entire assembly of the Children of Israel will pay heed" (Bamidbar 27:20).

The sages expound: "'You shall place some of your majesty upon him' but not all of it. This implies that the face of Moshe was like the sun, and that of Yehoshua like the moon" (Baba Batra 75a).

Hashem commanded Moshe Rabbeinu to lay his hand on his disciple Yehoshua bin Nun and place some of his majesty upon him. However, he was instructed to give over only part of his majesty, not all his majesty. Thus Moshe Rabbeinu's light remained stronger than that of his disciple Yehoshua, for Moshe resembled the sun, while Yehoshua's light was comparable to that of the moon.

This requires clarification. We know that when a sage leaves This World, he gives his student twice as much as he has. We see this with Eliyahu and Elisha the prophet. Before Eliyahu left him and rose in a storm to heaven, he asked Elisha, "What shall I give you?" and Elisha answered, "May twice as much as your spirit be mine."

This was probably the case also with Yehoshua bin Nun and Moshe Rabbeinu, for later on the verse says (Bamidbar 27:23), "He leaned his hands upon him and commanded him, as Hashem had spoken through Moshe." And Rashi writes, "He leaned his hands – generously, more than he was commanded. For Hashem told Moshe 'lean your hand upon him,' but Moshe lay both his hands on Yehoshua, generously transforming him into a vessel chock full of his wisdom.

In light of this, how do we understand Chazal's statement that on the night Yehoshua bin Nun fought, he neglected Torah study and the angel came to punish him for this? As Chazal say, the angel said to Yehoshua, "'Now I have come:' I have come because of words of Torah, because on this night you neglected Torah study."

But if Yehoshua bin Nun received twice as much from Moshe Rabbeinu, then he received Moshe's power of Torah, and Moshe certainly did not neglect Torah since his entire being personified the power of the Torah – he was the emissary who gave Torah to Yisrael.

The meaning could be that Yehoshua bin Nun did indeed receive twice as much as Moshe's power, and the proof is that Yehoshua bin Nun fought against thirty-one kings. Furthermore, at the time of battle he stopped the sun from setting, as it says (Yehoshua 10:12), "Sun, stand still at Givon." The sun then stood still and did not set for thirty-six hours.

We see that he had great power from the fact that even though he faced a severe war, battling against thirty-one kings, he was not afraid. Moshe Rabbeinu told him before his passing, "Be strong and courageous;" you have nothing to fear for Hashem will be with you. He was battling Hashem's war against all the nations and enemies. And even after Moshe Rabbeinu's passing, Hashem Himself told Yehoshua (Yehoshua 1:6), "Be strong and courageous for it is you who will cause this people to inherit the land that I have sworn to their fathers to give them."

If Yehoshua received Moshe Rabbeinu's power of Torah, it is well understood why the angel came to Yehoshua that night, due to the neglect of Torah study. He did not actually neglect Torah study, but there was a slight diminution, and on his sublime level this was considered laxity. Chazal say that Yehoshua understood he was obligated to delve even further into the Torah even while involved in warfare, and indeed he immediately went and rectified the matter and plunged into the depths of halacha, toiling even more intensely in Torah, to correct the deficiency.

Walking in Their Ways

Born on Shabbat

Once when I was receiving the public in Yerushalayim, a Sanzer chassid approached me and asked that I pray for his young grandson who was in critical condition. When he told me the boy’s story, I said, "I see the sanctity of Shabbat hovering over this child. In the merit of Shabbat he will recover."

I then asked the grandfather when the child had been born, but he did not remember. He left my room for a few moments to call the boy’s parents and ask them for his date of birth.

However, since they did not answer the phone, he called his wife and asked if she remembered the boy’s birthday. She too did not remember, but was sure he had been born on a Shabbat!

Now the chassid understood why I had said that the holiness of Shabbat rested on the child! He returned to me with this information and I blessed his grandson with a complete recovery. The incident remained with him for a long time, providing him with encouragement in his time of challenge.

It is surely in the merit of my holy ancestors zy"a that Hashem puts the right words in my mouth. That is what enabled me to intend correctly and utter these words to the grandfather.

Words of the Sages

Chacham Ben Zion's Dedication to the Truth

When Chacham Ben Zion Abba Shaul zt"l was teaching masechet Yevamot at the Porat Yosef Yeshiva, he told over a most inspiring story in relation to the verse: "However, I will tell you what is inscribed in truthful writing" (Daniel 10:21). The Gemara asks (Yevamot 105a), is there writing that is untruthful? And Chacham Ben Zion illustrated the answer with the following account:

"During the bloody events that swept the Old City during the War of Independence, the Porat Yosef Yeshiva was evacuated to the Tzofiof beit knesset. Maran the Rosh Yeshiva, Hagaon Rabbi Ezra Atia zt"l, lived close by, in the Bucharim neighborhood in the new city. One day, three yeshiva bachurim came to be tested on the laws of "issur and heter" (milk and meat) and passed the examination. The Rosh Yeshiva wished to ordain them as Rabbis, but as he was about to sign the certificate, he noticed the title read: 'Yeshivat Porat Yosef of the Old City.' How could he sign this paper if the yeshiva was now situated in the new city? If he would be in the building at least, but how could he go to the Old City – it was a time of war, and he would have to walk through the Arab market to get to the yeshiva?! The Rabbanit would not allow this. But on the other hand, the bachurim were expecting a certificate, and they deserved it.

"What did he do? So as not to attract the Rabbanit's attention, he did not don his rabbinical cloak. He took the three certificates, made his way to the Old City, went up to the yeshiva and inside its walls signed his name on the certificates. He then returned to the yeshiva's temporary location and presented the certificates to the bachurim. All this effort so it should be 'truthful writing!'"

Chacham Ben Zion concluded: "For you, this is maybe a story. For us, it was instruction; a way of life that obligated us!"

His disciple, Rabbi Benyahu Shmueli shlit"a, related that once a student was caught saying something inaccurate. Chacham Ben Zion was horrified: "For more than twenty years I have stayed far away from any trace of falsehood, yet you are not careful about changing facts?!"

His son the gaon Rabbi Eliyahu zt"l testified: "About twenty-five/twenty-six years before his passing, my father was speaking to me about the adverse trait of falsehood and said: "I can testify that for twenty-two years I have not uttered a lie!" His son was most impressed and explained: "A man can say that he always speaks the truth, but to remember and know exactly how long, to keep an account, to say that for twenty-two years he had not uttered anything that was not true! And before that, he was certainly particular about the laws of falsehood, for he said about himself that from his youth he did not say anything that came close to a lie!"

Once, in a mussar class, when Chacham Ben Zion was talking at length in condemnation of a certain negative trait, its consequences and punishment, his disciples grew afraid. One student could not contain himself and said, "The Rav is exaggerating…"

Chacham Ben Zion gave him a piercing look and said: "You should know that not only am I careful not to utter anything false, but even anything that is not 100% true does not cross my lips!"

The following story illustrates how falsehood was so repulsive to him: He once heard someone informing his friend: "I received a check for you and cashed it at the bank." He handed him the money and his friend exclaimed, "I have no words to thank you. But how did you cash it in my name? Did I not have to sign?"

"Oh, I took care of that minor point as well. I did you a favor and signed your name!" was his retort.

"You forged his signature?!" Chacham Ben Zion cried out.

How can one 'kasher' something impure, and even think that the greatest kindness was done?!

One of the sages at the Porat Yosef Yeshiva informed Chacham Ben Zion that he was in a hurry because he had to travel to Tel Aviv.

When Chacham Ben Zion wondered, "What does his honor have to see to in Tel Aviv?" the sage replied, "I was invited to speak at a conference at the Yad Eliyahu Stadium."

Chacham Ben Zion marveled: "Oh, how I envy you!"

The sage was surprised. "His honor is as full of merits as a pomegranate; he disseminates Torah and brings immeasurable merit to the public. How can he be jealous of me?!"

Chacham Ben Zion replied: "I have never said something and meant something else. If I told his honor that I envy him, this is the real truth! Fortunate are you and fortunate is your lot!"

A Day of Delight

Activities that Continue on Shabbat

1.   The Torah commands us to refrain from doing various activities on Shabbat. However, if we begin the activity before Shabbat and it continues by itself on Shabbat, it is permissible. Therefore, before Shabbat one may place a dish that is not fully cooked on the hot plate, even though during Shabbat it continues cooking.

2.   When necessary, it is permissible to put clothes in a washing machine or dryer on Erev Shabbat and switch it on, and allow it to continue washing or drying automatically on Shabbat.

3.   One may set a timer (Shabbat clock) before Shabbat to turn on and switch off the lights on Shabbat.

4.   Current manual Shabbat clocks have small push buttons, with each button representing a certain period of operation. Changing the position of the buttons tells the clock when to operate or switch off the attached electrical device. If the clock has been set on Erev Shabbat to switch off the lights at a certain time, but on Shabbat one wishes to delay this time, one may push the buttons accordingly. However, if one wishes to shorten the time the lights will be on – switch them off earlier – in the first place one may not do so unless this is necessary for a sick person (even one who's life is not in danger), or other similar situation.

5.   If the clock has been set to turn on a device at a certain time, but one wishes to delay this time, one may do so. However, one may not cause the device to switch on at an earlier time, except for a mitzvah purpose, such as Torah study.

6.   The general rule is: one may continue an existing situation that is off or on, but not make this happen earlier, except in certain specific cases.

7.   One must be careful not to change the buttons too close to the time the clock is about to turn off or on, as it will then most likely switch on or turn off when one touches the clock.

8.   One may set a manual alarm clock to ring on Shabbat, in order to wake him for prayers or Torah study. As for stopping the ring, one may stop a mechanical clock, but a watch with a battery should be covered with a pillow or placed in a closed drawer.

9.   It is also permissible to set the alarm clock on one's cell phone to ring on Shabbat, but one may not switch off the ring or move it, since the phone is muktzah. One may set the alarm on a cell phone even if it plays songs.

10.   One may not leave music playing from Erev Shabbat (lest one come to repair the device). This is not permitted even for the purpose of Torah study, because it diminishes the sanctity of Shabbat.

For any questions in practical application of these halachot, please consult a rabbinical authority.

From the Treasury

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

Pinchas Endangered His Life for Hashem

"Pinchas son of Elazar son of Aharon HaKohen, turned back My wrath from upon the Children of Israel, when he zealously avenged My vengeance among them, so I did not consume the Children of Israel in My vengeance. Therefore, say: Behold! I give him My covenant of peace" (Bamidbar 11:12).

At first Pinchas approached Moshe Rabbeinu and said: I have received this tradition from you – "One who cohabits with a gentile, a zealous one may slay him." Moshe replied that since Pinchas was the one who remembered this law and made it known, he should be the one to carry it out (Sanhedrin 82a).

It is not considered that Pinchas ruled in the presence of his master, since he received permission from Moshe Rabbeinu. Hashem too was pleased with his act and added the letter yud to his name, which was now written פינחס. The yud alludes to the fact that Pinchas willingly endangered his life when he acted to avenge Hashem's vengeance. פינחס can be split  up into פני חס, he acted for Hashem's sake and held no feelings of pride for being the one to get up and take action.

Indeed Pinchas felt no pride because of his deed. Later on the tribes even degraded him by saying, "Have you seen this son of Puti whose mother's father fattened calves for avodah zara? And he is the one who went and killed a leader of Yisrael" (Sotah 43a). They even wanted to kill Pinchas, but he paid no heed (חס) to the danger to his life (חס has the same numerical value as חיים, life).

Since Pinchas did not worry for his life but was zealous for Hashem's sake, he merited rectifying the sin of Nadav and Avihu who ruled in front of their master Moshe Rabbeinu, when they offered a foreign fire. They neglected to ask him if it was permissible, and as a result died.

Pinchas, on the other hand, asked Moshe Rabbeinu, and Moshe Rabbeinu instructed him to do as he had been taught. Therefore this was not considered as ruling in front of his master. Although originally some thought this was the case, it was because all remained silent and he was the only one who got up and took action, knowing that Moshe Rabbeinu knew the halacha that a zealous one may slay in this case. But since Moshe Rabbeinu did not proclaim that the zealous should kill, it seemed as if no zealot had permission to avenge this great profanation of Hashem's Name.

Meanwhile, however, a great danger of annihilation hovered over all Bnei Yisrael at this time. That is why Pinchas stood up immediately from among the congregation, and went to tell Moshe Rabbeinu, you taught me that the zealous may slay one who cohabits with a gentile.

When he received permission from Moshe Rabbeinu, Pinchas realized he must not remain silent about Moshe Rabbeinu's silence. He understood that Moshe Rabbeinu had forgotten this halacha, and it was not considered ruling in front of his master.

Hashem caused Moshe Rabbeinu to forget this halacha so Pinchas would be able to rectify the sin of Nadav and Avihu, who also acted for Heaven's sake and wished to draw closer to Hashem by bringing an offering to Hashem.

Up to that time, only Aharon and his sons had been anointed as Kohanim, and any future offspring who would be born to the family would be Kohanim from birth. Pinchas, however, born before this pronouncement, was not included in the appointment and remained a Levite. But now that Pinchas risked his life for Hashem's sake, he earned and merited eternal priesthood.

Zecher Tzaddik Livracha

Hagaon Rabbi Refael Moshe Elbaz zt"l

Rabbi Refael Moshe Elbaz zt"l was born in 5583 and grew up in Tasfro, Morocco – the city of sages and writers. Already in his youth it was evident that he was destined for greatness. His father, Chacham Shmuel, made sure he utilized his time for Torah study, and even instructed him to copy manuscripts in his spare time. While still young, Refael was orphaned of his father. He then studied in the beit midrash of his uncle, Chacham Amram Elbaz, and also merited studying under Chacham Amor Abitbol zt"l, who trained him in rabbanut and ordained him as a Rabbi authorized to judge and rule.

Rabbi Refael Moshe had his own beit knesset and there he devoted much of his time to the good of his community, guiding them in Torah and yirat Shamayim through his lectures and musical compositions. Rabbi Refael Moshe was known as an expert mohel and he and his brother Rabbi Eliyahu were the city's acclaimed mohalim.

In his role as Rav, he was also in charge of Tasfro's hekdesh assets. He himself gave much charity and possessed a most compassionate heart, together with being humble and modest. He frequently visited the sick and hosted guests, and mediated in conflicts and matters of marital harmony.

Apart from his greatness in Torah, he acquired a broad knowledge of secular studies in several subjects, even authoring books on these topics. He had very broad horizons and believed that all wisdoms are appropriate and are included in the wisdom of Torah.

Chacham Refael Moshe Elbaz married the daughter of Chacham Avraham Maman, a wealthy man and one of the dignitaries of the Tsafro community. The couple did not merit children of their own, but raised an orphaned girl in their home and took care of all her needs.

Chacham Refael Moshe Elbaz composed songs for events and prayers. His songs are also sung as an opening in shirat habakashot. He also served as a lecturer, and in order to attract many sections of the people, he delivered his sermons in the Arabic language spoken by the Jews of Tsafro.

Once during a time of drought, the Muslims turned to Chacham Refael and asked him to pray and plead to Hashem to open His treasure houses and send rain.

In those days drought literally meant death, since it was impossible to grow anything without water, and more crucial, there was nothing to drink. If the situation would continue, the drought would soon leave its mark and people would begin to fall sick and die. Chacham Refael arranged a large prayer gathering in the Jewish cemetery, wishing to awaken the merit of the deceased.

With a long sermon he aroused the hearts of his congregation and asked that each one make a reckoning of his deeds and rectify his ways. His words penetrated their hearts and their prayers were soon accepted. As they were on their way back to the Jewish quarter, the heavens opened and blessed rain began to fall, causing a great sanctification of Hashem's Name. All the Muslims went out to meet Chacham Refael with drums and dancing. The minister ordered all Muslim farmers to give Chacham Refael some of their grain that year, considering Chacham Refael to be a heavenly messenger.

Chacham Refael merited meeting the divine Kabbalist, Rabbi Yaakov Abuchatzera zy"a, and asked him to pray that he merit children. But Rabbi Yaakov replied that heaven had already declared that his sefarim would be his children and cause him to become renown, more than sons and daughters. Therefore he should not take action nor should it be a source of distress.

On Erev Shabbat 22nd of Tammuz 5656 the distinguished Rabbi Rafael Moshe passed away. Just a few hours before his death he wrote a will in which he left instructions for distribution of his property and sefarim. He also asked that a yeshiva of talmidei chachamim be established in his home for thirty days. May his merit protect us.


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