August 27th, 2022

30th of Av 5782


This World Belongs to Yisrael in the Merit of Torah and Mitzvot

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

"You shall tithe the entire crop of your planting, the produce of the field, year by year" (Devarim 14:22).

This verse is the source for the mitzvah of tithing the harvest of one's field – setting aside terumot and ma'aserot. Terumah gedolah is given to a Kohen, and according to the Torah this gift has no size. However, Chazal give us guidelines which include three levels: One who possesses a good eye will give one of forty, a regular eye will give one of fifty, and an evil eye – one of sixty (Terumot 4:3).

Besides terumah gedolah which is given to a Kohen, one must also separate ma'aser rishon, one tenth of the harvest, and give it to a Levi. The Levi then separates terumat ma'aser from his gift and gives it to a Kohen, as it says (Bamidbar 18:26), "To the Levites shall you speak and you shall say to them: When you accept from the Children of Israel the tithe that I have given you from them as your heritage, you shall raise up from it a gift to Hashem, a tithe from the tithe."

From the ninety percent of the remaining harvest, one must also set aside ma'aser sheini, (or in certain years ma'aser ani, given to the poor). This ma'aser is not given to anyone, rather it must be eaten within the walls of Yerushalayim, as the verse says (Devarim 14:23), "You shall eat before Hashem, your G-d, in the place that He will choose to rest His Name there – the tithe of your grain, your wine, and your oil, and the firstborn of your cattle and your flocks."

What is the significance of setting aside tithes? The Midrash (Yalkut Shimoni Re'eh 893) expounds: "'…the entire crop of your planting, the produce of the field.' If you merit, you will be able to sow your field. If not, the one who goes out to the field will end up fighting you. Who is this? Esav the wicked, as it says (Bereishit 25:27), 'One who knows hunting, a man of the field.'" Meaning, if you separate terumot and ma'aserot according to the law, then the field will yield abundant harvest. But if you are not particular with this mitzvah, then Esav, who is a man of the field, will fight you and punish you for the dealings with the field.

The sefer Zera Shimshon questions this: We know that Hashem acts towards us 'measure for measure' (Sanhedrin 90a). If so, what is the 'measure for measure' in this punishment? What is the connection between Bnei Yisrael not observing this mitzvah properly, and the wicked Esav, who is a man of the field, coming to fight them?

Were we to say that if Bnei Yisrael do not observe the mitzvah of tithing they will not merit produce from which they can separate, we can understood the punishment is 'measure for measure'. But what is the connection to Esav? Zera Shimshon also poses another difficulty concerning the mitzvah of tithing: Why is this mitzvah one that is only practiced in Eretz Yisrael (Kiddushin 1:9, Bechorot 53a)?

I would like to suggest the following answer: Chazal say (Yalkut Shimoni Toldot 110, Bereishit Rabbati ibid. 25:22) that Yaakov Avinu and his brother Esav allocated the two worlds already while in their mother's womb. Esav took This World as his portion, since he desired materialism and worldly pleasures, whereas Yaakov took the Next World which is entirely spiritual.

However, in order to merit life in the Next World and arrive there worthy, one must first observe Torah and mitzvot in This World. If we consider the matter, we will realize that most mitzvot are related to This World that belongs to Esav, meaning they are associated with physical matters. But how can a person benefit from Esav's world, if we are not allowed to have any connection whatsoever with Esav?

Hashem gave these mitzvot to Bnei Yisrael, mitzvot which Esav has a deep hatred for, since he wishes to live by his sword, as it says (Bereishit 27:40), "By your sword shall you live." He steals and murders and robs mankind, with no fear of judgement. Therefore, when Bnei Yisrael benefit from This World, it is not in Esav's merit, for even though the mitzvot are connected to This World, Esav has no connection with them. We enjoy This World only in the merit of the Torah and mitzvot we observe here, and through them we are permitted to enjoy This World.

Now we can understand the matter of setting aside tithes. When Bnei Yisrael observe the mitzvah of setting aside tithes from the harvest of the field that belongs to Esav, "man of the field," then Esav's hand cannot touch them for taking and enjoying part of his share. This is because they perform mitzvot with the field, and he has no connection to mitzvot.

This also reconciles the second question posed by Zera Shimshon – why is the mitzvah of separating maser specific to Eretz Yisrael? Since Hashem wanted to sever Esav from the Holy Land, He gave it specific mitzvot so that Esav would not have control over this Holy Land. The mitzvot specific to Eretz Yisrael, for example, terumah, ma'aser rishon, ma'aser sheini, ma'aser ani, eating ma'aser sheini in Yerushalayim, bikkurim, shemittah, yovel, leket, shikchah and pe'ah, d'mai, and others, were given to us so that only we should have a hold over the Holy Land, due to fulfilling the mitzvot dependent on it.

Walking in Their Ways

An Onnes is Absolved

As I walk the streets in many cities in the world, my eyes are bombarded from all sides with indecent images, thanks to those in the advertising industry. This causes many Jews to fail in a serious way with guarding their eyes.

A certain Jew, who makes a living as a truck driver, once approached me and asked: "How is it possible for me to guard my eyes while I am on the road, when despicable images appear in front of my eyes so many times during my travels? Were I to close my eyes, it would be fatal G-d forbid. So what chance do I have to protect my sanctity?"

I replied: "It is true that you cannot close your eyes, but you must think in your mind that you have a sincere desire not to see these sights. Do not wish to look at them and do not do so more than is absolutely necessary to stay safe on the road.

"Because when a forbidden sight is not in one's control, Hashem helps the person divest himself of what he saw, according to the Chazal, 'An onnes (one forced for reasons beyond his control) is absolved' (Baba Kama 28b). In addition, when the forbidden sight is imposed upon the person and is not out of choice, Hashem does not consider it a sin and helps remove it from his heart."

On a related note, once on a return trip from bringing chizuk to a community abroad, my escort and I were in high spirits. We had merited strengthening the spiritual level of our fellow Jews, especially the women, who undertook new levels of modesty.

But the Satan had also booked a seat on our flight, because he could not bear the fact that we had accomplished so much. So although we had asked not to be awakened for the meal, since we would not eat the food in any event, nevertheless the Satan, disguised as a stewardess, woke us up and suggested we watch the movie, which, of course, was not on our itinerary.

We were forced to spend the rest of our flight with eyes closed, in order to avoid forbidden sights.

This is the way of the Yetzer Hara. When he notices a Jew in an elevated state, he tries to take him down a peg or two by sending tests and temptations his way. But we must be smarter than him, in spite of the difficulty involved. In this manner we will be able to maintain the elevation we worked so hard to achieve.

Words of the Sages

Hashem Helps Those Who Wish to be Purified

Who is the one who merits Hashem establishing his steps in the paths of life in This World?

David Hamelech answers this question in the short and striking sentence (Tehillim 37:8), "By Hashem are a strong man's footsteps established." גבר, strong man, refers to "Who is strong? He who conquers his inclination" (Rashi). This, then, is the formula: One who is strong in yirat Shamayim and conquers his inclination, he is the one who merits Hashem establishing his footsteps.

Harav Reuven Sharbani zt"l related:

"Once there was a bachur who before leaving yeshiva for bein hazmanim (vacation) came to me, relating that he lives in a city in the south where there is much immodesty. The walk from his house to the beit knesset is over fifteen minutes, and he always meets up with challenges on the way, to the point that he feels he can't spend his vacation time at home.

"I told him that if this is the case, I think he should rather stay at home and pray on his own, than go out and pray with a minyan. The bachur told me that this is a problem because his father is not a ben Torah and will not be able to understand such a thing; the son he sent to yeshiva is praying at home and not in the beit knesset?!

"If so, I told him, travel every day from your house to the beit knesset by taxi, and thus avoid forbidden sights. His next question was, 'And how will I pay for this?' That very day I had received my salary from the yeshiva; I took out the entire package of bills and told him, 'Please, take whatever you need.'

"When the bachur said he was embarrassed to take money from me, I raised my voice at him and said: 'And are you not ashamed of the Holy One, blessed be He? Is committing crimes allowed? You are ashamed of me, and not of the Holy One, blessed be He?' The bachur told me he would indeed take taxis every day, but he would pay with money he would receive from the yeshivat bein hazmanim.

"He then added: 'Now we have solved the problem I have outside the house, but I really have a big problem inside the house too. We have a five-room home, and every room has a television set. I am afraid of being overcome by temptation...'

"The truth is, at that point I thought I no longer had anything to say to him. What could he do? But I considered the matter and then told him, 'Tell your father your rabbi wants you to remove all these devices from the house!' The bachur began laughing! 'Does my father know the rabbi that he would listen to him? Besides, it is their entire lives! I cannot imagine he would do such an unusual thing!'

"I said to the bachur, 'Look, we have to do everything we can. You sincerely desire not to sin; there is nothing else that can help you, only Hashem. At least trust me when I tell you that the way of the Holy One, blessed be He, is to assist those who wish to sanctify themselves. Do what I tell you and you will see that with Hashem's help you will succeed.'

"A month later, at the beginning of the new term, I returned to the yeshiva. I was just about to begin the Mincha prayer, just about to take three steps back, and this bachur comes running up to me, panting. He said, 'I have to talk to the Rav!' I explained that I was about to talk to the Holy One, blessed be He, so he should come back to me after Mincha and then we will talk. But he insisted and said, 'I have to speak to the Rav right now!'

"I thought it must be a matter of life and death, so I postponed my tefilla and agreed.  This is what he told me: 'I went home at the beginning of bein hazmanim and said to my father, "My rabbi asks that you remove all the televisions from our house." I thought he would yell at me just for asking, but to my surprise he was silent. A few hours later I saw he was starting to take the devices out of the house. And without another word, my home was clean of impurity and I could remain there safely!'"

Rabbi Reuven zt"l testified that he was extremely moved on hearing the story, and ended with a moral lesson: "Look how the Holy One, blessed be He, helps in such a way that one would not believe! It is something unnatural, not a normal thing, but as I have said endless times, I see how Hashem assists those who wish to guard their eyes!"

From the Treasury

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

To See and Be Seen

"Three times a year all your males should appear before Hashem, your G-d, in the place that He will choose" (Devarim 16:16).

There is a well-known statement of Chazal (Rut Rabba 4:12) that the significance of the simchat beit hasho'eva was the Divine Spirit that could be drawn from the occasion. This means that from the joy experienced at the simchat beit hasho'eva, the Jewish people merited attaining the high level of prophecy. I also saw Chazal say (Yerushalmi, Sukkah 5:1) Yonah Hanavi was granted the rank of prophet through the simchat beit hasho'eva.

Chazal also say Elkanah from Ramata'im Tzofim merited a son Shmuel Hanavi who was equal to Moshe and Aharon (Ta'anit 5b), as the verse says about him (Tehillim 99:6), "Moshe and Aharon were among His priests, and Shmuel among those who invoke His Name," only because every year he would be oleh regel (visit Yerushalayim on the festivals), and he did not forgo this mitzvah no matter what. He would publicize Hashem's Name among the people, and would also influence others to join him on his pilgrimages to Yerushalayim. We also see Channah, Shmuel's mother, merited prophecy, also from the fact that she went to Shiloh.

This demonstrates that the mitzvah of being oleh regel has great lofty significance. It connects man to his Creator with a supreme bond. This was particularly true in those days, when pilgrims had to literally show extreme devotion since every journey to Yerushalayim involved a great deal of effort and physical perils. They traversed great distances, travelling by foot, horse or donkey, until eventually arriving in the Holy City.

And if when Bnei Yisrael would visit Yerushalayim for just a few days to celebrate the festivals, they would merit high spiritual levels due to their self-sacrifice, how much more so during the year of Shemittah. During those years, the people would abandon their fields and vineyards and declare them ownerless! Thousands of men, women and children would leave their homes for several weeks in a row, and travel to Yerushalayim with faith and trust in Hashem. There in Yerushalayim they would fulfill the mitzvah of Hakhel on Sukkot (Devarim 31:10-12), and sometimes they would linger in Yerushalayim for a few weeks to take shelter in the study houses and study Torah. They desired to be close to the holy site of the Beit Hamikdash, wishing to physically fulfill both the mitzvot of seeing (Hashem's presence) and being seen.

Since this ascent to Yerushalayim was certainly carried out with great self-sacrifice, it was comparable to seeing the Shechinah and meriting prophecy (like Elkanah, Yona, and Channah). This is the meaning of "appearing before Hashem." Just as they came to be seen (by Hashem), so they also came to see (Hashem), meaning the light of prophecy, which is the source for receiving Divine Inspiration.

A Day of Delight

Reading by the Light of the Shabbat Candles

1. Chazal forbade reading on Shabbat by the light of the Shabbat candles, because this may cause one to adjust the light to shine stronger by directing the remaining oil to the wick. This would be considered as kindling, an act forbidden on Shabbat. Likewise, one may not read by the light of a wax candle, in case one removes the wax from the top of the wick so the light should shine better. However, one may read by the light of the candles if someone else is present who will ensure he does not touch the candle.

2. One may read the Mishnayot and Gemara of the second chapter of Tractate Shabbat, B'meh madlikin, but the rest of the chapters of this tractate customarily recited at every Shabbat meal must not be read by candlelight. The reason is because the second chapter discusses the laws of which type of oils and wicks may not be used for lighting the Shabbat candles for fear one may come to tilt them, and reading about this will remind him that it is forbidden to tilt the oil on Shabbat.

In this regard, it is told about the gaon Rabbi David Chaim Abuchatzera shlit"a, that when he was a young boy of about five years old, he was once a guest on Shabbat at the house of his holy grandfather, the Admor Rabbi Israel Abuchatzera zy"a, the Baba Sali. Late at night the electricity went off and only the candle lights flickered in the darkness. Since the boy had not yet finished reciting the eight chapters of Mishnayot from Tractate Shabbat which are part of tikkun Shabbat, he took his sefer and stood next to the candles to benefit from their light. When his grandfather noticed this, he reprimanded him and said it is a clear law that one may not read by the light of the candles. When the young boy apologized and explained: "I still haven't completed the chapters of Mishnayot," his grandfather replied: "A child your age should already know Mishnayot Shabbat by heart!" (Abir Yaakov).

3. If a person is familiar with certain texts, such as chapters of Tehillim, Shir Hashirim, the Haggadah etc., he may read the beginning by candlelight and then continue the rest orally. But if he is not completely familiar with the text, he should not read these sections by the light of the candles, if he is alone.

4. Just as one may not read by the candlelight, so one may not use this light to distinguish between two very similar things. Therefore, if one gets up while it is still dark and wishes to distinguish between his and his friend's clothes, he should not do so by the light of the candle. Since he must study the clothes carefully, there is a fear he may tilt the candle.

5. One may read by the light of a kerosene lamp since its light remains equally strong from when it begins burning until it goes out. In this case there is no need to suspect that one may try to increase the light, as with other forms of light where the brightness slowly dwindles. It is preferable to attach a note onto the lamp with the words "Today is Shabbat."

6. One may read by an electric light. Even if there is an option of lighting a few more lamps in the chandelier, or if it is a dimmer lamp where you can increase the intensity of the light, one may still read by its light.

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

Zecher Tzaddik Livracha

Rabbi Moshe Aharon Pinto zy"a

Insights into the holy and wondrous conduct of the holy tzaddik and miracle worker, Rabbi Moshe Aharon Pinto zy"a, heard first-hand from his dear son, the esteemed Admor Rabbeinu David Chananya Pinto shlit"a, in honor of his hilula

My esteemed father, the miracle worker Rabbi Moshe Aharon Pinto zy"a, was known for his extraordinary power revealed through the fulfillment of his blessings. However, he would always ascribe this to the merit of his holy ancestors, not to his own merit.

Similarly, out of his great modesty, he tried to hide the fact that he was a personification of "A tzaddik decrees and Hashem fulfills," and would often disguise the blessing by giving some item as a segulah, for example a bottle of water. When asked why he gives a bottle of water to the one being blessed, he would answer, "So the blessing should have something to attach itself to."

Many people experienced salvation after being blessed by Rabbi Moshe Aharon; whether it was in matters of finding their marriage partner, childless couples who were blessed, or matters of health and livelihood. Many even become wealthy as a result of his blessings. He was extremely generous with others, but frugal when it came to his own needs and never asked for anything for himself. He lived with exemplary simplicity and was content with the minimum; he never asked Hashem to improve his material conditions because he knew, "This is the way of Torah: eat bread with salt… live a life of deprivation – but toil in Torah." However, when it came to spiritual matters he poured out his heart to Hashem and asked for His help in fulfilling his desires.

Once while my esteemed father and I were staying in Morocco, hosted by Rabbi Mordechai Knafo z"l, an unusual request was made.

Rabbi Mordechai told my father: "A prominent lady from the royal house in Morocco has been married for many years but has not been blessed with children. The doctors were unable to help her and she wishes to come to you for a blessing. Would you receive her?"

Father replied: "Let her come." Since I knew she was from the royal family, I turned to my father and said apprehensively, "What if the blessing will not be fulfilled?" Father looked at me in surprise and said modestly, "Why should it not be accepted!?" And then he added, "It is not I who will bless her, but the holy Torah! I bless through the hidden light contained in the letters of the Torah." I had nothing more to say.

The next day the king's relative arrived, accompanied by a large entourage from the royal family – her mother, sisters, and relatives. After expressing interest in their welfare, father turned to Rabbi Mordechai and said, "Please bring me the glass which contains oil for lighting a candle in memory of the tzaddik Rabbi Chaim Pinto zy"a." Although he was very surprised, Rabbi Mordechai did as he was asked, bringing a glass blackened by burned oil and containing remnants of oil and water.

Father then instructed the woman to drink the remains of the glass. Rabbi Mordechai and I, who were standing beside Father, could not believe what we were hearing! How could this dirty cup be offered to such a noble woman? And how could she be told to down the dirty contents?!

At first, the woman appeared to be nauseated just by the thought of it. She looked at us questioningly, as if to ask if Father was serious. But I convinced her, saying that if she wanted Father’s blessing to have effect, she must do as she was told. The woman was convinced. With utter faith in the words of tzaddikim, she took the glass and drained its contents. Father then blessed her, “In the merit of our holy Torah, together with the merit of the tzaddik, my grandfather Rabbi Chaim zy"a, who engaged in Torah his entire life, Hashem will bless you and next year you will merit giving birth to a son!" The entire royal family answered "Amen!"

A year passed and I felt a strong urge to pray at the graves of my holy ancestors in Morocco. I flew to Morocco and when I arrived at Rabbi Mordechai's house, I saw he was dressed in Shabbat clothes, about to leave his house. He nearly fainted in shock when he saw me! He explained, "I am on the way to offer my congratulations to the royal family who were blessed by your father. Just a few days ago they gave birth to triplets! With great precision, Hashem arranged that you should arrive just now so you can join me in my visit to the palace!"

Of course I went along and we were welcomed with great honor. The entire royal family praised Hashem and my father zy"a who had blessed them. I rejoiced at this great sanctification of G-d's Name that had come about due to the power of my father's blessing.

At that moment I remembered what father had told me a year ago when I expressed my concern that perhaps the blessing will not be fulfilled. "It is not I who will bless her, but the holy Torah! I bless through the hidden light contained in the letters of the Torah."

With Hashem's kindness, my dear brothers and I merited absorbing an abundance of faith and trust in Hashem, from the power of my esteemed father's infinite faith in Hashem.

From when I was a young child, I remember how whenever my father needed something, whether it was livelihood, health, or any other need, he would immediately stand in a corner and plead before Hashem, just as a son turns to his father and asks him for all his needs. And just a short time later we would see with our own eyes the fulfillment of the verse (Yeshaye 65:24), "Before they call I will answer," and his request was fulfilled!

Many times Mother would ask Father for something she required. Father would reply with a smile, "I trust our beloved Father will grant you your wish!" And so it was. We inherited this special attribute as a legacy from our father; it is instilled deeply in our hearts.


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