August 4th 2023

18th of AV 5783

Indulging in Spirituality of Minor Deeds

Rabbi David Chananya Pinto

“And it shall come to pass as a consequence of your hearing these legal maxims and carefully carrying them out, that Hashem your G–d will keep the covenant and the love with you that He swore to your forefathers” (Devarim 7:12).

Many written blessings are promised in this week’s Parashah to those who keep Hashem’s commandments, and especially to one who is careful to keep the “minor” commandments. Rashi writes that “minor” commandments are those that people treat lightly. It would seem that these minor deeds are of little value and their reward is insignificant. However, the Torah reveals here that the greatness of a Jew is measured to the extent that he is a true servant of Hashem, and this is recognizable mainly in the degree to which he is careful even with minor deeds.

Another meaning of “eikev” (lit. heel) is “the end.” Therefore, I thought to add that this verse is also teaching us that what brings a person to keep the mitzvot is “eikev.” When we keep in the forefront of our minds what will be at the end — at the end of our physical sojourn on this earth — this very reminder will bring us to behave properly in keeping our holy Torah. Similarly, the holy tzaddik, Rabbi Yaakov Abuḣazeira, zt”l, explains in his sefer Pitucḣei Chotam that the connection between the Parashah of Eikev and the following Parashah (Re’eh) is that when we are “Re’eh,” when we “look” at the “Eikev”, at the end (of our lives), then we will do teshuvah and attain awe of Hashem.

I remember that I once participated in the funeral of a respected woman who lacked for nothing in This World, neither physically nor spiritually. She departed suddenly to the great sorrow of her family and friends. The tremendous shock that was evident during the funeral became so severely etched upon my heart that I found it difficult afterwards to sleep at night. The dread of Heavenly Judgement so filled my heart because that is truly the end of man.

One of the things that we treat lightly is time. We have many short moments that can be utilized to grow spiritually without limit. Our great Torah leaders merited to reach great heights through their proper use of time, whether it was time not specifically designated for learning or during the set periods of time for learning when they were very careful to learn without interruption, as interrupting our learning is very harmful for us.

Who is greater than those who went out to war in days of yore; they were all holy and righteous soldiers. The Torah (Devarim 20:8) tells us, “Whomever is fearful and fainthearted, let him go and return to his house.” The Talmud (Sotah 44a) explains that this refers to one who is fearful because of his sins. Therefore, those who did engage in battle were of pure and exceptional character. Their entire focus was to subdue the enemy and destroy it and they were not free for any other pursuit. Nevertheless, if they happened to notice a beautiful gentile woman in the battlefield, strong feelings for her were likely to develop in their hearts. The Torah, written by Hashem Who created man with these attractions and is thus fully aware of how strong they are, permits this woman in these circumstances so the soldier not be drawn to join with her, G-d forbid, in a forbidden manner.

We see how potent is the power of sight, even when it involves just a passing glimpse. Especially during the summer recess, when fine young men from the holy Yeshivot are on vacation, how much care must be taken even when they find themselves in proper surroundings. For example, we must take precautions to ensure that the journey to a beach where proper separation is conducted between men and women does not involve any Torah prohibitions and forbidden sights, G-d forbid. Immediately after the summer recess begins the month of Elul and with it preparations for the Days of Awe. Who cannot fail to tremble at the thought?

The Alter of Kelm, Rabbi Simchah Zissel Ziv, zt”l, entered the beit midrash during the summer recess and found three young men learning Torah assiduously and aloud. He told them, “If you are prepared to use your time wisely in this manner as is proper, even during the time not governed by the Yeshivah schedule, you can be assured that you are destined for greatness.” And so the Alter’s prediction proved correct.

Let us contemplate and derive a lesson from this how great and powerful are the short spans of time available to us. They shed light on the depth of the love for Torah planted in the heart of our Torah students when they invest their energy and abilities in assiduous Torah study, even during vacation when the Yeshivah or Kollel schedule does not obligate them. This speaks volumes about their will and longing for Torah and assures them a great Torah future in K’lal Yisrael.


Based on the teachings of Moreinu v‘Rabbeinu Hagaon Hatzaddik Rabbi David Chananya Pinto, shlita

Serve Hashem With Joy!

And it shall come to pass as a consequence of your hearing these legal maxims and carefully carrying them out” (Devarim 7:12).

The Gemara (Megilla 10a) tells us that “Vehaya” is a word that has a happy connotation. This means that every Jew who keeps the mitzvot should do so with joy, for this is the most proper way to serve Hashem.

Similarly, the prophetic spirit did not rest on the prophets except when they were in a state of joy, as it says (Melachim II, 3:15), “It came to pass, whe the musician played, that the hand of Hashem came upon him.”

Nonetheless, we need to bear in mind that we must serve Hashem with reverence and awe, as we say in the Friday evening service, “Him will we serve with reverence and awe.” Nevertheless, we need to integrate awe of Hashem together with joy, as David HaMelech, the sweet singer of Israel, said (Tehillim 100:2), “Serve Hashem with gladness.” This means that we need merge also gladness into our service of Hashem. This joy is not the result of lack of control, of indiscipline, G-d forbid. It is the true joy that flows from the heart, a result of the feeling of elevated bliss that we have merited to be faithful servants of Hashem and are beloved to Him.

The attribute of joy is a fundamental principle in serving Hashem. Because it is so important and crucial, one who serves Hashem without gladness but with sadness, will incur punishment, G-d forbid. The curses mentioned in Parashat Ki Tavo only really happen because people do not serve Hashem with gladness. As it says (Devarim 28:47), “Instead of you serving Hashem your G-d in joyfulness and with gladness of heart, through abundance of everything.”

Let us pay attention to the fact that the Torah is not referring to those who do not keep the Torah properly. On the contrary, the mitzvot are being performed scrupulously, but without gladness of the heart, bringing curses in their wake, may Hashem have mercy.

A Jew who serves Hashem with joy though, shows how happy he is with his service. He yearns with all his soul to serve and do the will of his Master, the King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.


Our Sages z”l ask: How do we fulfill the commandment of Kiddush Hashem, to sanctify Hashem’s Name? The Talmud (Yoma 86a) answers: “’And you shall love Hashem your G-d.’ i.e., that Hashem be beloved because of you. If someone studies Scripture and Mishnah, serves Torah scholars, is honest in business and speaks pleasantly to people, what do people then say concerning him? ‘Happy is the father who taught him Torah, happy is the teacher who taught him Torah; woe to people who have not studied the Torah; for this man who has studied the Torah, look how fine his ways are, how righteous his deeds!’ Of him does the Torah say: ‘And Hashem said to me: “You are My servant, Israel, through whom I will be glorified.”’”

In a lecture concerning the summer recess, Rabbi Shalom Schwadron, zt”l, clarified the topic of Kiddush Hashem. We are accustomed to think of Kiddush Hashem in terms of laying down our lives when faced with a gentile threatening to kill us if we do not bow before an idol. That is absolutely true. Certainly we fulfill the commandment in that manner and fortunate is one who merits such an experience.

However, we tend to forget that we are not only commanded to die for Hashem, which is the highest level of Kiddush Hashem, but we are also obligated to live for Hashem, which is also Kiddush Hashem.

Our Sages teach us that without Torah our ways are not fine and our deeds are not righteous, for all the good manners we see in the street are nonsense and rubbish.

Let us say that the horse I am riding on is running wild. I dismount to stroke its neck and give him sugar to nibble on. The horse calms down. Has the horse changed? Did it become a person? It was a horse and will remain a horse. It is merely quiet now. It is temporarily in a pleasant state.

Proper etiquette without Torah is not fine and righteous. It is impossible to say about those who practise it how fine and righteous is their behaviour. One who is merciful without Torah can have mercy on the ruthless and be kind with murderers. His heart overflows with mercy. However, Torah mercy is balanced, fine and truly righteous.

Although people on the street cannot gauge how much Torah he has learned, but one thing they do know. He learns Torah. And it is because of the Torah that he behaves with refinement. In this way he brings about a Kiddush Hashem because it is clear that the splendor of his character is only the result of Torah.

We need to take great effort, and pray and beg! “Master of the World, please help me, please strengthen me, please encourage me in all matters.” Fortunate are you, our fine young men who learn Torah, who return home for vacation and remember that you can make Hashem beloved to others, to your parents and siblings. And we must take care not to create the opposite impression, G-d forbid.


Birkat HaMazon Establishes Peace in Our Homes

“When you have eaten and are satisfied, then you shall bless Hashem your G-d” (Devarim 8:10).

From time to time we hear about the good tidings and salvation that come about for those who decide to be careful with Birkat HaMazon, to recite it slowly and with concentration, and above all, with joy.

In this vein, we will cite the Dubno Maggid’s parable that will help teach us about the greatness of Birkat HaMazon:

There was once a widower whose late wife had borne him one son who was very beloved to him. He later remarried a widow who had a daughter from her previous marriage. As often happens, the husband suspected his wife of favouring her daughter over his son and neglecting to provide him with food and raiment. His wife likewise suspected her husband of being more kind to his son and pampering him at her daughter’s expense.

In truth, they were both correct. Even subconsciously, people tend to favour themselves and their closest relatives. For this reason, tension prevailed in their home and peace was often absent.

Eventually, the two children grew up and their parents decided to marry them to each other. The couple established a proper Jewish home and they took care of each other. Their parents helped and showered them both with love. From then on, peace reigned in their abode. Their children, who until now were the cause for their marital discord, became the factor that generated bonds of love and harmony.

Hashem created man as a combination of the body and soul, corporality and spirituality. However, this integrated whole is afflicted with constant stress. The soul favors its own kind and desires to become elevated and purified with Torah and mitzvot, whereas the body loves worldly pleasures and its gratification.

Truly, there is one way to infuse them with peace and contentment. If man would only know that all his sustenance and the fulfillment of his wishes are provided by Hashem and he would thank Him always for these benefits, the food would engender feelings of gratitude and a drive to serve his Creator, resulting in mutual happy satisfaction.

With this comes appreciation for the boundless and perfect goodness associated with the provision of food, and the recognition “that You feed and sustain us constantly every day, in every season and at every hour!”


Tidbits of faith and trust penned by Moreinu v‘Rabbeinu Hagaon Hatzaddik Rabbi David Chananya Pinto, shlita

Glorifying His Name

The Moroccan House of Royalty was known for its tolerance of the Jews. Many of its members were staunch believers in the power of the Jewish Sages. They highly respected the tzaddikim in their midst.

Against this backdrop, the daughter of a Moroccan nobleman, who is today an elderly lady, would often come to ask my advice on various matters. One time, I asked why she approached me specifically, when she had many advisors and mentors at her disposal. Why did she seek out a Jew to resolve her difficulties?

“I recognize the merit of your fathers and am certain that this will ensure that your advice is sound.” Then she placed a blank cheque on my desk, and told me to fill it in with whatever sum I desired.

Since sanctification of Hashem’s Name was worth more to me than all the riches in the world, I replied, “I am only too happy to offer you advice in the merit of my holy ancestors. But bear in mind that ‘To man belongs the arrangements of his heart, but from Hashem comes the tongue’s reply’ (Mishlei 16:1). All of my advice comes only from Hashem, and I will therefore not take one penny from you.” The woman was extremely impressed by my words and took her leave.

Some time later, I was interested in purchasing a plot of land near my ancestors’ burial sites. I wanted to build a proper building which would house the masses who thronged to the graves of the tzaddikim. It would contain a beit knesset and a mikveh. But the sum demanded for the property was astronomical. I therefore presented my case before this noblewoman. When she heard my tale, she declared, “I am giving you this land as a complete gift!”

But I politely declined this offer as well. All I had intended to do was ask to pay the price of the previous year, and not the inflated price it had now risen to. Ultimately, we did not obtain the land, for security reasons. But I am sure I sanctified Heaven’s Name with my actions.

One must not allow money and honor to blind him to the truth. In every one of his actions, he must make sure to sanctify Hashem’s Name. All of the nations of the earth should realize that Am Yisrael is the Chosen Nation, head and shoulders above anyone else.


I Must Learn Torah

The trust in Hashem that Moreinu v’Rabbeinu Rabbi Moshe Aharon Pinto, zy”a, displayed was without limit.

And so it was when he wanted to print the sefer about the life and works of his father Rabbeinu Chaim Pinto, zy”a. He requested of the Rabbanit a”h to travel from Mogador to Casablaca to print the sefer at the printing establishment of Mr. David Amar. When the Rabbanit asked how she was to pay for the printing, Moreinu v’Rabbeinu simply said to her, “Tell Mr. Amar that you are going to buy a lottery ticket and will pay the debt with the winnings.”

The Rabbanit was accustomed to the greatness of her righteous husband and believed that everything would occur just as he said it would. She immediately travelled to Mr. Amar’s printing house and was received with great honor. He agreed to charge only half the printing costs. When she told him that she was going to buy a lottery ticket in order to pay him the next day, he had difficulty believing her and doubt began to gnaw at his heart. How on earth could she know that her ticket would be the winning one? Having no choice, he agreed.

The Rabbanit went to the lottery booth and bought a ticket. Obviously, it occurred exactly like the tzaddik said. The next day hers was the winning ticket and she had won exactly the sum she needed! She brought the money to the printing company. Mr. Amar was overwhelmed with incredible excitement and admiration and expressed how much of a merit and honor it was for him to be able to print the sefarim of Rabbi Moshe Aharon Pinto. His admiration was mainly on account of the fact that the Rabbanit went ahead and bought the ticket with absolute trust that the words of her righteous husband would be fulfilled to the letter.

The Rabbanit revealed to him that this is how they had conducted everyday life in their home for decades. Every time she asked her husband for some money for household needs, he told her that she will receive what she needs that very day, and so it was. As David HaMelech says (Tehillim 32:10), “As for he who trusts in Hashem, He will surround him with mercy.” Fortunate is he who trusts in Hashem, for he that relies on Him is granted all his wishes.


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