October 8th, 2022

13th of Tishri 5783


Observing Mitzvot with Gladness and Goodness of Heart is of Utmost Importance

Rabbi David Chananya Pinto

"Yeshurun became fat and kicked. You became fat, you became thick, you became corpulent – and deserted G-d its Maker" (Devarim 32:15).

I am acquainted with many people who, as long as they did not have assets, felt themselves dependent on Hashem's kindness. However, as soon as Hashem blessed them with wealth and honor, instead of increasing their appreciation and love of Hashem, they unfortunately kicked at everything, placing all their faith in their wealth. This occurred because they were not sincerely attached to Torah, so when faced with the challenge of wealth, they were blinded by it. They actualized the verse, "Yeshurun became fat and kicked." On the other hand, one who is "fat" (immersed) in Torah, and with it satisfies himself and quenches his thirst is guaranteed to never abandon Torah. Silver and gold and other material acquisitions will never distract him from Hashem.

Let us consider the enormous difference between Avraham Avinu and the wicked Lot. One of the ten tests Avraham Avinu faced was the command, "Go for yourself from your land, from your relatives, and from your father's house." Now what was the great trial here? After all, Hashem promised him many assurances, as Chazal explain, "Go for yourself: for your own benefit and good." He was told, "And I will make of you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great." Is there anyone who would be offered these blessings and not rush to obey?!

On the other hand, let's look at Lot, Avraham's nephew. He also left his home and accompanied Avraham. But unlike Avraham who received many promises, Hashem did not promise Lot anything. Yet he still set out. Lot's greatness apparently surpasses Avraham's. So why does the Torah only praise Avraham?

I would like to suggest that although Lot clung to Avraham and left his hometown together with him, he only did so for his own personal benefit. Lot was then a poor man with no means, and here he sees Avraham leaving the land by Hashem's command, accompanied by blessings of wealth and honor. Lot knew these blessings would indeed come true, and he wanted to be a part of those promises. He wanted to take advantage of Avraham's wealth only to usurp it for himself. Joining Avraham was no challenge for Lot. On the contrary, he was happy to go for his own personal profit.

On the other hand, although this test appears easy, it was actually a great challenge for Avraham Avinu. Although Hashem promised him many things, Hashem wanted to test him and see if he would go because of the promises, or would he leave purely for the sake of heaven, simply because this is what Hashem had commanded him to do. Indeed, Avraham Avinu withstood the test, as the following verse testifies, "So Avram went as Hashem had spoken to him" (Bereishit 12:4). He went only because of Hashem's command.

Now we can understand the magnitude of the transformation Lot underwent. At first he clung to Avraham, but then he suddenly changed his skin and became a heretic. As it says (Bereishit 13:11), "ויסע לוט מקדם, And Lot journeyed from the east." Rashi expounds, "Lot journeyed מקדם, away from the Ancient One of the World. He said, 'I want neither Avraham nor his G-d!'" This is surprising. How did Lot suddenly change from one extreme to the other? How come he was not influenced by Avraham Avinu's yirat Shamayim?

We can answer according to the Mishna (Avot 5:16): "Any love that depends on a specific cause, when that cause is gone, the love is gone." And since Lot's love for Avraham was only for the sake of gaining his wealth and not for the sake of Heaven, as soon as the goal was achieved and Lot became rich, he no longer needed Avraham and so the love disappeared. That is why Avraham told him (Bereishit 13:9), "Please separate from me." You have already achieved your goal which was solely to gain and become rich, so now separate from me. Since Lot did not accompany Avraham for altruistic intentions, to learn from his good deeds and way of life, he therefore did not absorb anything from him and even descended to the lowest level.

I was once offered a huge sum which would allow me to support our institutions for several years, on condition I participate in the wedding of that rich man. But when I heard the wedding would not be held according to the spirit of the Torah, I refused on the spot, rejecting the offer outright. The philanthropist was simply astonished. But I explained that even if he would promise me all kinds of offers, I would never agree to transgress Torah laws. We must be decisive and clear in our service of Hashem, without making any concessions when it comes to mitzvah observance.

Walking in Their Ways

Reading between the Lines

Once when I was flying from New York to Frankfurt, I noticed a woman sitting nearby engrossed in a book. She was riveted, swallowing page after page, not bothering with the meals or even looking up once during the entire flight. Her expressions changed according to the drama of the novel; sometimes a smile lit up her face and at other times she appeared anxious.

When the long trip finally ended and we touched ground in Germany, the woman finally shut her book with a sigh. But I was surprised to see that she left it on her seat.

“Madam,” I called after her. “You left your book behind.”

She looked back and replied, “Oh, it’s okay. I don’t need it,” and made her way off the plane.

I was taken aback at her reaction. During the entire flight she seemed to be immersed in her novel, enjoying it greatly. Why then, upon finishing it, did she cast it aside? If she found it so interesting, why not pass it on to someone else to enjoy?

This is the attitude to falsehood and nonsense. When a person reads such triviality, even if he is not spiritually inclined, he ultimately rejects it. In contrast, one who studies works of wisdom and truth draws spiritual satisfaction from them and wishes to include others in his discoveries.

All the more so is this true for one who merits studying Torah, the ultimate, eternal truth. The words of Torah are pleasant. One who merits revealing Torah insights or deciphering a cryptic topic will surely share his satisfaction with his friends and acquaintances.

Words of the Sages

The Chafetz Chaim Insisted the Jew Return Home

A G-d-fearing Jew who merited both riches and greatness in Torah, maintained a forest leased from the Poritz, earning his living by chopping the trees and selling the logs. However, when the month of Elul arrived, he would leave his business behind and travel to Radin to spend time in the presence of the Chafetz Chaim and in the company of the yeshiva students, remaining there until after Yom Kippur.

Once during the Aseret Yemei Teshuva, he shared his apprehension over a certain matter with the Chafetz Chaim. He related how until now he had made a decent living from the forest he has been leasing for twenty years. He built a home there and set up a sawmill nearby, where he cut the trees into polished beams and then sold them at a handsome profit. But recently the Poritz sold the forest to someone else, and the new owner was challenging the term of the contract, trying to dispossess him of his livelihood. The new Poritz went so far as to file a lawsuit against him, and the court case was set to take place on Chol Hamo'ed Sukkot. He therefore would like to ask the Chafetz Chaim for a blessing to win the trial.

"Where will the trial be held?" asked the Chafetz Chaim. "In nearby Pinsk," the man answered. "If so, you must return home immediately," the Chafetz Chaim instructed him. "You must remain near the place of the trial and prepare for it."

"But how can I prepare?" he wished to know. "I have already hired a lawyer and the allegations are clear; true preparation for the trial is right here, with the Rebbe's blessing and my spiritual elevation in his presence on the holiest of days. My home is on the outskirts of the forest, far from any settlement. If I go home, I won't even have a minyan on Yom Kippur!"

But the Chafetz Chaim remained adamant: "You must go home right now!"

Heartbroken, he made his way back home. Night fell. Darkness settled in and a rainstorm further soured his mood.

Suddenly there were loud knocks on his door. Desperate voices begged him to open up. Four people, dripping with water, explained that they had gone for a walk in the forest when the intense storm took them by surprise. They tried to make their way out, but were falling into pits and getting stuck in the mud. Eventually they saw a light in the distance, and this is how they ended up at his home. They asked for shelter until the storm abated, and the man immediately agreed, hanging their coats to dry. He also lit the coals in the fireplace and offered them hot drinks and food.

Once they felt better their curiosity led them to ask, "What are you doing here, living on the outskirts of the forest?"

He explained how he supported himself, and told them about the recent transfer of ownership, and the harassment of the new owner. They shared in his distress and encouraged him, telling him that the truth would surely emerge. He smiled skeptically and said: "It is not a simple matter when a Poritz files a lawsuit against a Jew…"

His trial was held on Chol Hamoed Sukkot. How surprised he was to see that the judge was one of his four 'guests' who had visited his home on the night of the storm! Of course he won the case, even though he was appealing against a Poritz seeking to deprive a Jew of his livelihood (Mayim Chaim, Chafetz Chaim Al HaTorah).

From the Treasury

Rabbi David Chananya Pinto

Contemplating and Recognizing Hashem's Kindness

"Hashem alone guided them, and no other power was with them" (Devarim 32:12).

The Ben Ish Chai zy"a explains at length that this verse refers to the future when the Kingdom of Hashem will rule over everything. Then Hashem alone will guide His world and no one will worship any other power. As we know, in the future the world will change beyond recognition, and the inhabitants of the entire world will merit seeing the miraculous leadership of Hashem. "Hashem will be King over all the world – on that day Hashem will be One and His Name will be One."

In Ketuvim we are told how at that time the wicked will be speedily uprooted, and the Third Beit Hamikdash will descend from heaven in all its glory, built and ready, without us having to labor over it. And then the Kingdom of Hashem will be revealed in all its splendor. All will recognize that Hashem alone guides His world and there is no other power. Goodness and blessing will increase exponentially, to the extent that a wolf will live peacefully with a lamb and no one will fight against his friend, as it says (Yeshaya 2:4), "A nation will not lift its sword against another nation and they will no longer study warfare."

It is also stated (see Ketubot 111b) that Hashem will bestow a special and miraculous blessing on the earth; man will place a seed in the earth and it will immediately sprout ready-to-eat bread; man will place a flax seed in the earth and it will produce a garment ready to wear. Similarly, if a person places one grape in the corner of his house, he will immediately receive a barrel full of fine wine. These are unimaginable concepts we cannot fathom in the reality we live in today.

It seems to be that in order for man to truly believe in all that is written about the end of days, he must feel already now the special leadership of Hashem Who alone guides and sustains the world. And when a person believes and feels with all his heart that it is Hashem alone Who controls His world without any additional forces, it will be easier for him to believe in all the miraculous realities that will occur in the future, when all will recognize Hashem is One and His Name is One.

But the Yetzer Hara, with its tricks and cunning methods, seeks in every way to make a person grasp the rope at both ends, by telling him to both believe in Hashem and desire material things. However, we should realize that now is the time to perfect our belief in Hashem, for in the future the Yetzer Hara will lose its power and it will no longer be possible to dance on both sides. If a person truly desires to clearly see Hashem's sovereignty in the future, now is the time to toil for this, here in the world of deeds. Through a person's association and attachment to Torah, he will eventually merit enjoying the time when "Hashem alone will guide them."

A Day of Delight

The Shabbat Meals

1. One should try to not prolong the time between washing one's hands and reciting hamotzi, the blessing over the challot. When this is not possible due to a large number of guests, it is not considered an interruption. However, in such a case, it is preferable to provide small rolls so each person can recite the blessing themselves right after washing, without having to wait.

2. After everyone is seated, the head of the house takes two challot (lechem mishnah) and places one on top of the other. He should hold them with both hands and recite the blessing, "…Hamotzi lechem min ha'aretz." He should have in mind to fulfill his listeners' obligation of reciting a blessing, and they too should intend to fulfill their obligation through his blessing. While holding the two challot, he should intend to cut one of them. One should dip the challah in a little salt and not speak until he swallows the first mouthful.

The reason why we take two challot and cut one is because we are told about the manna, "They gathered a double portion of food." Taking two challot and cutting just one alludes to Bnei Yisrael who gathered a double portion but ate one on Friday and kept the second one for the next day – Shabbat. And even though it wasn’t fresh, "it did not omit any offensive odor and there was no infestation in it."

3. Some have the custom to cut the top loaf, while others cut the lower one. One who cuts the lower one should place it closer to him than the top one. The Ashkenazi custom is to cut the bottom loaf on Friday night and the top one on Shabbat morning.

4. The Shulchan Aruch (siman 274:2) writes: On Shabbat it is a mitzvah to cut a large slice that will be enough for the entire meal. And even though on a weekday one should not do so because it appears to be gluttonous behavior, doing so only on Shabbat shows his intention; he wishes to eat more because the mitzvah of delighting in Shabbat (oneg Shabbat) is dear to him.

5. Even if each person at the table has a small challah in front of him, he should not eat from it until the one reciting hamotzi eats a small piece. He should then cut and distribute to the others so they fulfill their obligation of lechem mishnah. However, if each person has two small rolls they can begin eating before the one who recites hamotzi.

6. One should not throw challah to anyone, for this is a dishonor for the bread. If he cannot reach everyone he is allowed to hand it to them with a little throw on the table. If this is not good enough he should pass it to them through someone else. Likewise, he should not put the bread into their hands, both during the week and on Shabbat, because this is the way of mourning. On Shabbat, even if there is a mourner at the table, one should not put it directly into his hands.

7. One should eat bread at all three Shabbat meals, slightly more than the size of an egg (about 54 grams), so it is considered a proper meal, and not a snack. If is difficult for him to eat this amount, he should eat at least the size of an olive (27 grams), but in this case he should wash his hands without reciting the "Al netilat yadayim" blessing.

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

Zecher Tzaddik Livracha

Rabbi Yosef Moshe Adas

Rabbi Yosef zt'l was born into the eminent and distinguished family of sages and writers – the illustrious Adas family.

He inherited the glorious tradition of disseminating Torah from his father, Rabbi Yaakov Adas. Rabbi Yosef also excelled in humility and true righteousness, and combined with his diligence and exceptional toil in Torah, radiated this greatness to his talmidim with true devotion.

One of the roshei yeshiva once expressed to a talmid that Rabbeinu instilled in the yeshiva the concept of fatherly love for the students. Indeed this was strongly felt by Rabbi Yosef's students; he would take an interest in their actions and conduct no matter the time, day or night, and took care of all their needs, both physical and spiritual.

Rabbi Yosef's world stood on three things: The holy Torah which enveloped his entire reality, his pure prayers which pierced the heavens, and the acts of kindness he engaged in, although many of his exemplary deeds remained unknown. Rabbeinu held onto each of these pillars with a firm and clear grip, with each and every one of his 248 limbs and 365 sinews.

Already in his youth, as a talmid of the Porat Yosef yeshiva, he became famous for his persistence and diligence in Torah. The talmidim were used to seeing him bent over his Gemara even after the last of the students had left the beit midrash in favor of a night's rest. Rabbi Yosef would continue sitting and meditating in Torah with unimaginable immense diligence.

It is not for nothing that the gaon Rabbi Beinish Finkel zt"l, one of the Roshei Yeshiva of the Mir, once said that Rabbi Yosef's very conduct was a living mussar sefer – the best way to glean practical mussar lessons.

Due to his abstention from the lusts of this world and its pleasures, he would quench his thirst with plain hot water, hardly ever drinking sweetened drinks. He would jokingly say about tea and coffee "beware of tzvu'im (lit. hypocrites, can also mean colored [drinks]..."

It is worth noting that whenever he took upon himself an additional custom of holiness, he maintained the practice throughout his life. Customs passed down by the elders were his guiding light, and he publicly protested those who wished to deviate from these customs and introduce changes and innovations.

Rabbi Yosef was a world full of benevolence. Every moment free from studying Torah was a moment used for chesed – for both the living and the dead. His students knew him as a caring father who would go out of his way for them, just as he would show concern for his own children.

Many homes were established due to his devotion and sacrifice. He would accompany the boy and speak to the father of the bride as if he were an official party in the matchmaking. He often pledged large sums of money just to bring the match to a conclusion.

It is customary to joke about a shadchan (matchmaker) using the acronym implied in his name (שדכן): "שקר דובר כסף נוטל, He speaks falsehood and takes money." With Rabbeinu, the word shadchan took on a completely different meaning: "שבחים דובר כסף נותן, He speaks praises and gives money!"

He steadfastly adhered to the saying of Chazal, "Prepare yourself in the lobby so you may enter the banquet hall." His every action was in accordance with this approach. Suffice it to say he never purchased his own home, instead paying a monthly rent (d'mei mafte'ach) for the modest apartment he lived in, as a lesson that there is no permanence in This World.

In his last days Rabbi Yosef's health deteriorated significantly, and on the 19th of Tishrei, the middle of Chol Hamo'ed Sukkot and just as Shabbat was about to enter, he passed away; it was his sixty-ninth birthday. As it says, "The Holy One, blessed be He, completes the days of the righteous from day to day and from month to month."

He left behind a blessed generation of outstanding offspring.


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