Nitzavim Vayelech

September 9th 2023

23rd of Elul 5783

Seeing Him

Rabbi David Chananya Pinto

“The hidden things belong to the Lord, our G-d, but the revealed things apply to us and to our children forever: that we must fulfill all the words of this Torah” (Devarim 29:28).

Why did Moshe Rabbeinu need to state that Hashem knows the hidden, while people know what is open? Everyone knows that those things unseen by the human eye belong to Hashem alone, while that which is visible belongs to mankind. What novel idea is Moshe revealing to us? I would like to share some memories of Rav Shach zy”a, which Rabbi Shlomo Lorincz recorded in his sefer:

“In everything, Maran, zt”l, saw the magnificent creation of Hakadosh Baruch Hu. When he ate an apple, he would proclaim, ‘How wonderful! This apple has a number of seeds. From each individual seed, an entire tree can sprout forth, growing hundreds of succulent apples each year! Apples are a joy to the eye and a delicious treat.’ At every opportunity, he would mention this idea to me. He was also wont to say, ‘Before I begin praying, I must reinforce my faith in Hashem.’ Maran never stopped repeating this over and over again. Before inspiring others, he sought to inspire himself. He would talk about simple faith without letup. He told me that once, before the tefillah on Yom Kippur, he told himself, ‘I must clarify emunah in my heart before I begin praying.

‘I sat in the corner of the beit midrash,’ continued Maran, ‘and I considered the wonderful, perfect world Hashem made. I began talking to myself. How foolish are the atheists who believe that everything came into being on its own, through a big bang. Aside from the question as to where the original matter came from, there is the question as to how a sudden bang can create a world with such precise detail.

‘Take the sun, for instance. Its distance from Earth is in exact measurement to our needs. Had it been even a fraction closer, our entire planet would burn to a cinder. The moon, also, is exactly where it must be to serve us. Were it even a bit closer to Earth, every single creature would die of frost. Additionally, only an utter fool does not tangibly experience the faith that emerges from science and worldly knowledge.’ Only after he acknowledged all this, did he feel ready to begin praying.”

After reading these passages, the wonderful words of Rav Shach zt”l entered my heart. I was so moved that my entire being cried out, “Hashem, who is like You?!” How great must be our joy that, baruch Hashem, we have Torah that enables us to recognize Hashem on deeper and deeper levels. It is the Torah that allows us the merit of, “He saves the pauper from one stronger than he” (Tehillim 35:10). In the merit of Torah, we are saved from the status of pauper, and from the yetzer hara that threatens to overwhelm us.

There are some things that are clear as day. It is indisputable that the world was made by a Creator with exact precision. It is impossible to claim that the world came into being on its own. The very world proves that it was created by a Higher Being. In His great kindness, He manages and renews it daily.

Would any sane person, upon arriving home and finding a table set with the finest foods, say that the food was prepared and set out on its own? Did the cutlery and dishes make their way to the table by themselves? Will the dishes get washed on their own? Who is foolish enough to say such things?

Moshe Rabbeinu warned Bnei Yisrael about the power of the gentile influence they were about to encounter upon entry into the Land. The gentiles did not have the Torah to guide them and were liable to infiltrate the minds of Bnei Yisrael with their heretical ideas. Thoughts of apostasy could slowly make inroads in their minds, to the extent that even clearly evident proof of the Creator would become blurred and misunderstood.

For this reason, Moshe cautioned Bnei Yisrael to fortify themselves with faith by increasing their Torah study and mitzvah observance. By immersing oneself in the holy words of Torah, he will reinforce his emunah in Hashem in all areas, seeing His hand in every detail of creation.


The Esteemed Rabbi Chaim Pinto Hagadol, zy”a In Honor of his Hilula, 26 Elul

The pure, untainted light of the ner ma’aravi, the tzaddik and mekubal, the holy Rabbi Chaim Pinto Hagadol zy”a, was accorded world-wide fame already from his youth, when he accepted upon himself a life of Torah and holiness, which he absorbed from his holy ancestors zy”a. He was famous in all the Jewish communities throughout Morocco, and even the non-Jews accorded him much honor, considering him as a holy person who was capable of performing miracles.

The blessings that were offered from the tzaddik’s pure mouth, brought about miracles and salvation as in the concept of “A tzaddik decrees and Hashem fulfills.” These miracles and salvation are experienced still today by the many people who visit his holy gravesite and beseech our Father in Heaven to bless them with salvation in the merit of the tzaddik and miracle worker.

Moreinu v’Rabbeinu Rabbi David Chananya Pinto, shlita, once told over a story that happened with his holy grandfather, Rabbeinu Chaim Pinto zy”a, which shows the fulfillment of the verse, “Then all the peoples of the earth will see that the Name of Hashem is proclaimed over you, and they will revere you” (Devarim 28:10). The esteemed Rabbeinu Chaim Pinto zy”a had a righteous son called Rabbi Yehuda Pinto zt”l, who in his youth was cursed by a non-Jewish child. The young Yehuda responded by picking up a stone and flinging it at the child’s forehead, which began to bleed.

This non-Jewish child was none other than the son of the mayor who was known for his tremendous hatred of the Jews. When he heard that Rabbi Chaim’s son had injured his child, he rejoiced at the opportunity to repay the Jews with suffering. He immediately set out for Rabbi Chaim’s house, but upon entering and coming face to face with the Rav sitting and delving into the Torah, he immediately retreated and quickly left the room.

When those who accompanied the mayor asked him to explain why he fled, he explained that he saw a light shining from the Rav’s face and was afraid to disturb him in case this would bring him harm. Not only did he return quietly to his home, but in addition he sent presents to Rabbi Chaim so he should not hold it against him for disturbing him.

Rabbi Chaim sent for the mayor who arrived with shaking knees and with great trepidation. Rabbi Chaim asked him to explain the purpose of his visit that morning, to which the mayor replied, “It was nothing important, there was a small fight between our children but everything is okay now.” This shows us, in a tangible way, that when a tzaddik learns Torah, he ascends and becomes attached to the Names of Hashem, which causes all the nations of the world to revere him.

I Will Not Leave You

The ner ma’aravi was extinguished on the twenty-sixth of Elul, 5605, not before the tzaddik requested from his talmidim to continue strengthening themselves in guarding the Torah and fulfilling the mitzvot, explicitly promising them: “Know, my beloved students! I will continue to stand before Hakadosh Baruch Hu in prayer after my death, just as I did while I was alive. I will not forsake you in my death, just as I did not forsake you during my lifetime.”

Rabi Chaim, zy”a, was buried in the old cemetery in Mogador. May his merit protect us together with all of Am Yisrael, for goodness and blessings. May we merit being written and sealed in the Book of Life and Peace and rejoice in the final redemption, Amen.


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

During the days of mercy and forgiveness it is customary to say chapter twenty-seven of Tehillim, “By David, Hashem is my light and my salvation,” written by David Hamelech, the sweet singer of Israel.

David says, “One thing I asked of Hashem, that I shall seek: Would that I dwell in the house of Hashem all the days of my life, to behold the sweetness of Hashem and to contemplate in His Sanctuary.”

David requested for himself neither honor nor dignity nor greatness, he had only one wish — to dwell in Hashem’s house all the days of his life and feel excitement and enthusiasm in learning Torah and keeping the mitzvot, as if it was his very first visit to Hashem’s dwelling. Not for nothing was this chapter chosen to be said during the days of mercy. The purpose is to awaken us that we should contemplate man’s purpose in This World which is to serve our Creator in the most perfect way — sitting in Hashem’s house and toiling in Torah day and night. Only through learning Torah does a person merit protection for his limbs so they should not be tempted to sin. The more a person takes care to guard himself, to that degree he will merit being saved from transgressing, enabling him to arrive at the Day of Judgment pure and clean.

David Hamelech was born red which indicates that his inherent nature was to be drawn after desires. Since David was conscious of the nature Hashem planted within him, he fought with all his strength against gratification by cleaving to the holy Torah which guards and protects a person from sinning.

After David Hamelech married Bat Sheva before he was supposed to, he was never at peace and said (Tehillim 51:5), “My sin is before me always.” And even though Hashem said (Shabbat 51a), “Anyone who says David sinned is making a mistake,” in spite of this David himself felt weighed down by a sin. And because of this he cried constantly and regretted this deed. Chazal tell us that the greater the person the greater his evil inclination, and therefore righteous people occupy themselves all their days in Torah and repentance in order to annul the bad influence of the evil inclination.

It is recommended to read this chapter of Tehillim with great concentration and not just as lip service. May it be His will that saying this chapter will have the ability to impact us with the power of the Torah and repentance of David Hamelech, who sole wish was to sit in the house of Hashem all his days and behold the sweetness of His Blessed Holiness, not only during the days of judgment but throughout his life.


The holy sefarim quote the Yerushalmi that on Rosh Hashana a person is not judged according to his past deeds, but according to his state on Rosh Hashana itself. What spiritual level is he on today? What deeds is he performing? What is he talking about and where are his thoughts taking him? If on Rosh Hashana his heart is found to be as it should, he is considered a pure tzaddik and is written and sealed immediately for life. Since at the moment he is in a positive place, even if he used to waste time, speak lashon hara or displayed bad middot, now that he is behaving for an entire day as is appropriate, it is a sign that he has really changed and become a different person.

The mashgiach HaGaon HaTzaddik Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe, zt”l, related a story about someone whom people considered a great person. A certain individual wanted to confirm if this was really the case, so he travelled to his home where he stayed for three days straight. He wanted to observe his greatness, but did not notice anything unique; everything was done simply without any special righteousness. He left disappointed that he had not perceived any special greatness.

When people asked him if he had noticed any act of pettiness or anything he could criticize, he said he had no complaints, but that the person behaves most normally and does not do strange or exceptional things. They replied, if so, this is proof of his greatness! If for three days you observed him and did not find him faulty in any way, this is the sign of a great person! According to what we explained about Rosh Hashana being an opportunity where even one day of this kind of behavior is enough, if every act is faultless and according to halacha, then one who stands up to this test for an entire day, his status is transformed and his nature changes in the merit of the holiness of the day. Habit becomes nature and he is already considered an absolute tzaddik who will merit a good year.

When we talk about the days of Rosh Hashana, the intent is the entire day and not just the time when we are praying. Who can know at which minute one is being judged? A person should take care not to transgress in his deeds, speech and thought, not to talk about unnecessary things, and all the more so forbidden speech.

In summary, the task of Rosh Hashana is to correct one’s deeds already on this day and not wait for the days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur or for after Yom Kippur, since on Rosh Hashana a person is judged according to his level on that every day.


Blessed Returns

“And it will be, when all these things come upon you the blessing and the curse which I have set before you… and you will return to Hashem, your G-d” (Devarim 30:1–2).

What can bring a Jew to the level that he “will return to Hashem”?

The Torah replies in one concise statement: “The blessing and the curse which I have set before you.”

It is well-known that difficulties bring a person closer to Hashem. But how can blessing accomplish this? Isn’t it the way of abundance to cause a person to sin, as it says, “And Yeshurun got fat and kicked” (ibid. 32:15)?

The sefer Even Shlomo offers a response, quoted in the sefer U’matok Ha’ohr:

Rabbi Shaul Rubin of Bnei Brak served as the Rosh Kahal in Afulah. He had occasion to meet with one of the wardens of the prison services. During the course of their conversation, the warden related that he had a very disturbing problem. Someone was imprisoned for many years for refusing to give his wife a bill of divorce. Perhaps the Rav has a way of dealing with this man?

“I am ready to meet him,” the Rav offered. A meeting was quickly arranged. Afterward, the Rav returned to the prison warden and said, “This man will never give his wife a divorce, because he’s very comfortable here in jail. He’s been here so long, he already forgot the meaning of freedom. If you really want him to surrender, set him free for half a year. Then re-incarcerate him, and you’ll see how he cooperates!”

The prison warden took these words to heart. He arranged meetings with the authorities to approve of this unusual “leave of absence.” The matter reached the Knesset before it was finally approved. To his utter amazement, the man was told that he was free. After half a year, he was again locked behind bars. And not a week passed before he gave his wife a bill of divorce. The pull of freedom was too strong to resist.

Hashem sends a person suffering in order to bring him back to Him. However, so that the person should not become accustomed to the suffering, He gives blessings from time to time. This reminds the person how much he stands to lose when he suffers hardships for not doing Hashem’s will. And it is thus also a means of returning him to Hashem.


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

Burning with Oil

The Beit Halevi on the Torah (Shemot 12:43) states that at the point where one’s intellect cannot grasp or comprehend a matter, it is there that his faith begins. We may add that in this world there are situations which seem logical and natural, which we comprehend. Notwithstanding, the realization of Hashem’s Presence is considered faith, since a human being cannot fathom or comprehend it fully; and at the point where one’s logic ends is where one’s faith begins.

I can testify that ever since I was very young, my esteemed and holy father, zy”a, instilled faith into our very bones; sometimes in a way that was difficult and painful. Because we realized that faith was so vital to our father, we also absorbed it and were always aware that we as Jews led a different life than the nations of the world and those who reject the yoke of Heaven, and therefore our outlook was diametrically opposed.

My father had a custom to light candles l’iluy nishmat tzaddikim every day in the beit knesset. Once, father lit all the candles, but when he got to the candle in the memory of Rabbi David ben Baruch Cohen Azug, a”h, his oil ran out and so he asked my brother Rabbi Chaim, shlit”a, to bring him a simple wax candle instead.

However, as father placed the burning candle into the cup, he burned himself, and his suit got burned slightly from the dripping wax. When my brother noticed what had happened, he told my father that perhaps this happened to indicate that Rabbi David ben Baruch was slighted because the candle in his honor was lit by wax, whereas all the other candles were lit with pure olive oil.

When father heard this, he accepted the validity of his explanation and sent my brother to go buy olive oil. In addition, he begged forgiveness from the tzaddik. My brother commented to my father that certainly the merits of the tzaddik will stand by him on this day and he will receive a substantial sum of money to distribute to the poor and also a nice suit instead of his suit that got ruined from the wax.

In fact, on that day, my father received a large sum of money. But upon seeing the money he remarked, “True that I got money, but I am still left with a burnt suit.”

And then, lo and behold! A half an hour later, knocking was heard at the door, and a man by the name of Assimini presented father with a suit as a gift, with no rational explanation.


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