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Devarim

August 6th, 2022

9th of Av 5782

PARSHA IN PDF Archives ARCHIVES

Begin Rebuke Calmly, and with Hints

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

"These are the words that Moshe spoke to all Yisrael, on the other side of the Jordan, concerning the Wilderness, concerning the Aravah, opposite the Sea of Reeds, between Paran and Tophel, and Lavan, and Chazerot, and Dizahav" (Devarim 1:1).

Rashi explains: "These are the words: Because they were words of rebuke and Moshe recounted here all the places where they angered Hashem, therefore he hid the incidents and mentioned them by way of insinuation to protect the honor of the Jewish people."

The pamphlet Al Kein Yomru Hamoshlim questions this. The verses continue with Moshe Rabbeinu explicitly mentioning the sin of the Golden Calf (Devarim 1:22), and in Parshat Eikev too we find that Moshe Rabbeinu openly and at length reminded Am Yisrael of the sin of the spies (ibid. 9:8-21). So what does Rashi mean by saying here that Moshe Rabbeinu did not rebuke them outright?

We can explain this by saying it teaches us the following lesson: When a rabbi wishes to rebuke the members of his congregation, he should not immediately do so loudly and overtly, for this will make it hard for them to accept his words. Rather he should begin by speaking calmly and with regard for their honor, and at first reprove them only by hinting at the matter, lest they disregard him and his rebuke.

Therefore in general, he should begin by putting his listeners at ease and speak pleasantly and with love, as it says (Kohelet 9:17), "The gentle words of the wise are heard." The sages explain that if 'the words of the wise' are 'gentle', then the listeners hear them. Once the listeners are open to listen, they will grasp the hidden implication of his words, take them to heart and repent. Only then can the wise one begin rebuking them openly about more severe matters.

This is what Moshe Rabbeinu did. He began his rebuke by hinting at various incidents, and only once Bnei Yisrael understood and grasped the significance of his words and began repenting, did he continue by openly and explicitly rebuking them for the more severe sins they committed during their sojourn in the Wilderness.

We find this formula for rebuke several times in the Torah. The very first time occurs after Adam Harishon transgressed and ate from the Tree of Knowledge. Hashem then called out to Adam Harishon and said, "Where are you?" (Bereishit 3:9). Did Hashem really not know where Adam Harishon was? But as we have explained, Hashem did not approach him suddenly. Rather, at first He stood at the entrance of the garden and asked Adam Harishon where he was, so as to begin a conversation. Only afterwards did He reprove him openly for his sin.

We find a similar statement expressed by Chazal (Niddah 16b): "A man should never enter his house suddenly so as not to alarm the members of his household. Rather he must inform them he is about to arrive." The same reason applies here – rather than making a sudden appearance or start, his entrance should be calm and pleasant.

The common denominator is that one must always evaluate the situation and proceed accordingly. But one should never immediately begin with open rebuke or topics that can frighten, just as Serach bat Asher slowly yet cleverly revealed to Yaakov that Yosef was still alive. Similarly one should not begin one's rebuke with harsh words that may frighten the ears and hearts of the listeners, causing them to run off, rebel, or ignore one's message. One's opening comments must always be offered in a calm and pleasant manner.

This is the lesson we can learn from the way Moshe rebuked Am Yisrael.

Indeed, this form of rebuke is a true demonstration of love between a man and his fellow. For one who truly loves others and wishes to reprove them out of love, should begin in a wise and gentle manner. And only once he has found the path to their heart can he continue with open rebuke. His words will then be accepted and serve their purpose, causing the penitent to improve his ways.

Walking in Their Ways

Wearing Our Names with Pride

A man once informed me of the name he had given his child. I said that as far as I knew, this name originated in China. The man hurried to correct me, stating it had its roots in Vietnam.

“What in the world possessed you to give your child a Vietnamese name?” I wondered.

“The truth is that I like the ring of this name. That was why I chose it.”

The phenomenon of Jews opening a book of names and choosing one that strikes their fancy is very distressing. In many such instances, parents are far from their Jewish heritage. Therefore, instead of calling their children by the holy names found in Tanach, those of our nation's forefathers and foremothers, they follow the dictates of the nations and call their children by foreign names, empty of content.

This is in direct opposition to the essence of the Jewish people.

Throughout the years of our exile and specifically in the Egyptian exile, Am Yisrael never changed their names, their language, or their dress. In this manner, they maintained their distinction as Jews in spite of the terrible decrees against them.

Nowadays, our nation has unfortunately become so assimilated among the gentiles that they have lost all pride in their Jewish identity. They adopt gentile names and fail to preserve our unique language and dress.

May Hashem call an end to our suffering and hurry to redeem us from this bitter exile, with the coming of Mashiach speedily in our days.

Words of the Sages

These Are the Words

When we encourage someone, we may be literally reviving his soul, and even earn immense reward for generations to come. As our sages interpret the words from the Friday night prayers, "Who resuscitates the dead – with His utterance;" reviving a person's soul can be done with just a few words.

A particularly poignant personal experience occurred with Maran Rabbi Ovadia Yosef zt"l, while he was a young bachur studying at the Porat Yosef Yeshiva. In those days it was not so common to commit one's novel Torah ideas or halachic clarifications to writing. Rabbeinu was among the few who did do so, and published a booklet called Yabia Omer. Maran printed one hundred copies and distributed the booklet to talmidei chachamim in Yerushalayim. Some paid him a few coins for it, but mostly Rabbeinu distributed it at no charge.

The bachurim in the yeshiva saw the booklet Rabbeinu had published. Some envied his achievement, but others mocked it and found many opportunities to make fun of it. Since Rabbeinu was then a young bachur, he took their words to heart and was offended. Once in the middle of shiur a bachur asked a powerful question. The bachurim repeatedly tried to find an answer, but each time realized the answer did not resolve the issue. One of the bachurim stood up and with a wink, exclaimed: "Why are we trying so hard? After all, the 'author of the booklet' is sitting right here. He is a genius and author, as wise as one of the Rishonim! He is extremely knowledgeable; let us ask him and he will certainly come up with an acceptable answer!"

Some of the talmidim broke out in a wide smile. Rabbeinu was stung by these words that were said with ridicule. He felt immense shame, especially since many bachurim were present and witnessed the derision. In this moment of vulnerability, he decided this place was not for him. He must leave the yeshiva! It was too hard for him to deal with the scorn.

It is hard to believe, but because of one person's words of mockery, Am Yisrael and the Torah world almost lost this leader of the generation; the spiritual leader of tens of thousands of Am Yisrael and President of the Torah Council of Sages.

But the Creator had mercy on the Jewish people and sent a savior in the form of the Gaon Rabbi Shimshon Aharon Polanski zt"l. He met Rabbeinu and noticed the sorrow and grief on his face. "What happened? Why do you look so upset? Please tell me, what happened!" Rabbeinu told Rabbi Shimshon Aharon what had occurred.

The gaon then put his hand on Rabbeinu's shoulder and said: "You should know, according to the great talents the Creator has graced you with, and on account of your great diligence, I can foretell you will become a gadol! Those who spoke badly of you are simply jealous! So why should you attach importance to their words?"

These words of encouragement were a lifeline for Rabbeinu. At that moment he decided to completely ignore the mockers; he would persevere and engage in the holy Torah and continue writing down his innovative Torah thoughts. Of course, Maran zt"l never forgot the gaon Rabbi Shimshon Aharon Polansky, and in his Yabia Omer responsa he crowned him with the wonderful title, "Master of my youth."

"See how great is the power of encouragement!" Maran zt"l later enthused. "Had Rabbi Polansky not encouraged me at that time, it is doubtful whether I would have continued following the path of Torah! From that moment on, I undertook to encourage every young scholar with approbations and letters of recommendation."

A Day of Delight

Lighting the Shabbat Candles

1.  The mitzvah of lighting Shabbat candles is incumbent upon both men and women. Therefore, if a man lives on his own he must light Shabbat candles.

2.  The sages instruct that the woman should be the one to light, because she is the one who is mostly at home and deals with the needs of the home, and lighting the Shabbat candles is part of preparing the house for Shabbat. Another reason is because Chava gave Adam Harishon to eat from the Tree of Knowledge and thereby brought death to the world. Since the woman "extinguished the light of the world" referring to Adam Harishon as it says (Mishlei 20:27): "A man's soul is the lamp of Hashem," therefore the woman is obligated with lighting the candles.

3.  The holy Zohar (Bereishit 48:72) says: "The women must light the candles with desire and joy, for it is a holy honor for her. And she will merit holy sons who will illuminate the world with Torah and yirat Shamayim, and increase peace in the world, and she merits her husband with longevity and good years."

4.  If a woman recited the blessing over lighting Shabbat candles in a certain place (room or hall etc.), another woman should not light in the same place with a blessing, since one does not bless for the addition of light. The Ashkenazic custom is for women to light with a blessing even if many other women have lit in that place.

5.  Yeshiva students who board in a dormitory should appoint one of the bachurim to recite the blessing and light the Shabbat candles in the dining room. In addition, in every bedroom one roommate should recite the blessing and light on behalf of all the roommates. (The bachurim cannot fulfill their obligation with the bachur who lights in the dining room, since they have been assigned their own room for sleeping.) They should light large candles so that by the time they return to their bedroom at night they will still be able to benefit from their light. Or they can return to their rooms immediately after the evening prayers and benefit from the light of the candles for a short time. Ashkenazim too follow the custom that only one roommate lights on behalf of all of the roommates.

6.  Girls who dorm in boarding schools should light Shabbat candles in their rooms with a blessing (besides the girl who lights in the dining room). In each room only one girl should light with a blessing, and they must stay in the room for some time to benefit from the light.

7.  If a married son is staying with his wife at his parents' house and they are given their own bedroom, the wife should light in the bedroom. If this is not possible, she should light in a different room to where her mother-in-law lit. But if they are not given their own room and the husband (son) sleeps in a room together with his brothers, while his wife sleeps in a different room with his sisters, or if they are given their own room but they cannot light there since the house is small and there is a risk of fire, the daughter-in-law should light her Shabbat candles next to her mother-in-law, but without a blessing. The Ashkenazic custom is to light with a blessing.

8.  A family who is being hosted for the Friday night meal and returns to sleep in their own home, should light large candles (or electricity) in their home before leaving, so they can still benefit from them on their return.

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

From the Treasury

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

Sharing the Burden

"How can I alone carry your contentiousness, your burdens, and your quarrels?" (Devarim 1:12).

When a person does not help carry his friend's burden, does not assist him, feel compassion for him, or love him as he loves himself as we are told, "You shall love your fellow as yourself," but even feels the need to argue with him, certainly this conduct is considered as causing great sorrow. This kind of person is not emulating the virtues of Hashem. Hashem carries the burden of every Jew, even when they sin against Him. He always has compassion on His creations, and we continually mention Hashem's mercy and kindness, for example (Shemot 34:6), "Hashem, Hashem, G-d, Compassionate and Gracious..." Chazal also say (Yerushalmi Peah 1:1), "You should resemble Him: Just as He is compassionate and gracious, so you should be compassionate and gracious." But when a person does not conduct himself in this way, he is not following in the ways of Hashem.

This was Moshe Rabbeinu's lamentation when he rebuked Bnei Yisrael before his death, saying: "If I alone carry your contentiousness, your burdens, and your quarrels, and you feel no need to elevate yourselves and intensify your avodat Hashem, it shows you do not desire a close relationship with Hashem. And this is certainly something to cry about. I alone cannot bear everything on my shoulders, and if you do not wish to help me, there is no way I can help you."

Moshe Rabbeinu spoke in this way because they were known as the Dor De'ah – the generation of true Knowledge of Hashem. He meant to say, "You have the power to resemble angels who have no evil inclination, if you would only engage in Torah, unite with one another, and share each other's burden. For you personally experienced miracles and wonders, and now too you constantly see Hashem's miraculous ways. But if you do not behave in this way, neither helping others or myself, I certainly need to cry and lament this fact." Moshe Rabbeinu actually used an expression of lamentation – "Eichah."

However, despite his rebuke, we see from Moshe Rabbeinu's words how much he loved Bnei Yisrael with his entire heart and soul. Bnei Yisrael were troublesome and did not behave with unity, nevertheless when he spoke to them he said (Devarim 1:6), "Hashem, our G-d, spoke to us in Chorev, saying." He included himself among Am Yisrael, and out of his great humility used the general expression "He spoke to us," to me and you. This means he considered Bnei Yisrael prophets like himself, as in "The honor of your friend should be as dear to you as your own."

Zecher Tzaddik Livracha

Hagaon Rabbi Chaim Perachia Kohen zt"l - The 'Milkman'

Over the last fifty years we have become aware of various tzaddikim and talmidei chachamim who hid under the cloak of hardworking tradesmen. However, beneath their disguise of simplistic laymen, we uncover exemplary figures who were well versed in Kabbalah and the hidden sections of Torah, generating blessings and salvations with their holy mouths.

One of these unique personalities was Rabbi Chaim Perachia Kohen zt"l, commonly known as 'The Milkman', after his trade. He would sit in the Dashan dairy under his ownership, with an account book open in front of him, and answer incoming calls for orders. The rest of the day he would spend giving lectures in Kabbalah.

From a young age he showed a growing interest in the Kabbalah sefarim on his father's shelf, leafing through them and acquiring incredible proficiency. "This was accompanied by incredible powers, such as the ability to discern what others do not notice," related the milkman's acquaintances. His father took him to the shiurim given to a group of Kabbalists, and he quickly became a full-fledged member.

Later the milkman found a connection between his activities at the dairy and the many acts of kindness he performed for those who came to seek his advice and blessing: "It is written, 'Like honey and milk it lies under your tongue,' while on Shavuot (the festival of the Giving of the Torah), we have a custom to eat dairy products. Besides, milk is white and pure, and acts of kindness are also white and pure. One must perform acts of kindness all day."

His acts of kindness expressed themselves in a variety of way. Rabbi Yitzchak Batzri shlit"a, who studied with the milkman for many years, spoke about the greatness of his noble personality:

"He was my chavruta for many years. He was an extremely dedicated charity collector; 90% of his own salary he would donate to charity. He would distribute everything he had to charity, not leaving anything for himself, not even one shekel."

Rabbi Batzri adds just one anecdote out of many, one which demonstrates somewhat the extent of Rabbi Chaim's dedication to chessed and how he pursued mitzvot:

"Once on Erev Shemittah, a Jew who owned fields and orchards approached Rabbi Chaim and told him that since it was difficult for him to keep Shemittah and abandon his fields, he wished to make a heter mechira.

The righteous 'milkman' replied: "Can you give me a reckoning of how much money you earn in a year?" "Yes," the farmer replied, and mentioned a huge amount.

The 'milkman' asked him to return the following morning. The next day when the farmer arrived, the 'milkman' handed him the entire amount he had mentioned the previous night! The 'milkman' then said to him, "Now all the fields and orchards belong to me. I ask you to sit and study Torah this year, instead of working in the fields!"

And this farmer became a G-d-fearing tzaddik.

"In addition to being a great gabbai tzedaka," Harav Batzri continued, "he was also exceptionally great in Torah. Every Tuesday he would give a shiur in the Tiferet Tzvi beit midrash. At first only a few select individuals turned up, but as time went on it was attended by hundreds! In addition, he would give Gemara and Kabbalah shiurim in the Hashalom Kollel in Givatayim, and merited establishing many students."

In 5770 his series of sefarim, Talelei Chaim, were published, a collection of his shiurim recorded by Rabbi Reuven Sasson. The series includes 16 sefarim on the pnimi'ut of Torah and avodat Hashem, the Torah and the Festivals, redemption, prayer, man's purpose in This World, and principles of faith.

Rabbi Chaim Kohen Perachia passed away on the 12th of Av 5779. He was buried in the Sanhedria Cemetery in Yerushalayim.

 

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