September 23rd 2023

8th of Tishri 5784

Living Yom Kippur Throughout the Year.

 Rabbi David Chananya Pinto

 “Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak; and may the earth hear the words of my mouth” (Devarim 32:1).

This parsha is read this year between Yom Kippur — the mightiest day of the year on which Hashem forgives the sins of Israel — and Succot, the festival of rejoicing. I would like to explain the connection between these two holy times. “Give ear, O heavens” — When Moshe Rabbeinu went up to shamayim after the sin of the golden calf and came down with the second set of the Tablets of the Testimony, he was told, “And Hashem said, ‘I have forgiven because of your words.’” That day, when Hashem forgave the Jewish people for sinning with the golden calf, was Yom Kippur. It seems that the power of this holy and awesome day, which is a day of forgiveness and pardon for all generations, as it says “For on this day He shall provide atonement for you to cleanse you; from all your sins before Hashem shall you be cleansed” (Vayikra 16:30), came into existence because of Moshe Rabbeinu. Since he sacrificed himself by praying and pleading on behalf of the people until Hashem was appeased on this day, from then on and for all future generations, this day was established as a time for forgiveness and atonement.

But in order to merit this atonement, there is a necessary condition. It is hinted at in the verse “For on this day He shall provide atonement,” “hazeh” (this) has the same numerical value as “tov” (good), and “The only thing good is Torah,” which means that the atonement of Yom Kippur is dependent on accepting the yoke of Heaven and the yoke of Torah and mitzvot. Hashem said, “I have created the evil inclination, I have created the Torah as an antidote.” The only way to overcome the evil inclination is through Torah. If a person undertakes to repent without accepting the yoke of Torah, his teshuva will be of no value.

Therefore, when Moshe Rabbeinu descended from Mount Sinai on Yom Kippur, the day they were forgiven for the sin of the golden calf which became a day of forgiveness for all future generations; he did not descend with empty hands but with the second set of the luchot, to allude to this concept that forgiveness on this holy day is dependent on man’s devotion to Hashem and His Torah. This is the meaning of “Give ear” — to the Torah I have brought down to you from heaven.

“And may the earth hear” — this alludes to the festival of Succot which is celebrated on the ground and the s’chach too must be made from material that grows in the ground. According to this we can say that with this opening verse of the Parsha, Moshe Rabbeinu reconciles the question of why the festival of Succot falls immediately after Yom Kippur, and if there is a connection to the Parsha. Through connecting Yom Kippur — the concept of “heaven” where one can attain heavenly achievements, to the festival of Succot — which is “earth,” the intention is that just like s’chach which remains connected to the ground is unfit (Gemarah), so too, a person must disconnect himself from the materialism of this world, not to be connected “for the most part” to this world because then he will lose all the spiritual growth he gained in preparation for Yom Kippur. Instead if he wants the holiness of the day to have an effect on the whole year he should enter the succah, which symbolizes the transient, with “most of his body,” for this world is temporary and the main world is the World to Come. In this way he will be successful in connecting the holy day of Yom Kippur to the days of “chol” — throughout the year he will be able to connect materialism to spirituality; this world — with the World to Come.

The way to bring us to this outlook is also derived from the festival of Succot. The holy Zohar describes the succah as “the shadow of faith”; the place where we take shelter under the wings of the holy Shechina. I remember from my childhood home, my father and teacher, Harav HaTzaddik R’ Moshe Ahron Pinto zy”a, would place a small chair in the succah for the ushpizin — our holy forefathers, and when he would enter the succah he would greet the ushpizin like a person talking to his friend. He would call out, “Peace unto you, Avraham Avinu,” and so forth each day, as if he was indeed setting eyes on them. We children, even though we didn’t see anyone, through the pure and utter faith of our father a”h, we genuinely felt the presence of the ushpizin in the succah. This idea was entrenched deep in our hearts for many years. This is another lesson that we learn from the succah — pure faith in the Creator of the world and in his righteous servants.

“You have been shown in order to know” (Devarim 4:35), a wonderful and profound understanding of why the festival of Succot falls immediately following Yom Kippur. It teaches us how to bring the illumination and holiness of Yom Kippur with us into the whole year — by being disconnected from this world. Our entire mission is to create a spiritual connection to materialism, and this is only possible if it is based on strong foundations of faith in Hashem and his righteous servants.


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

 The Obligation to Serve Hashem with Joy and Great Love

A woman of about sixty-five once came to me and said that although she was chozer b’teshuva twenty years ago, since her repentance was done out of fear and with the concern of being punished, she is continuously nervous that the fear she felt in great measure will slacken, and without this fear of G-d she will sin.

I told her that fear of Hashem is a means by which to do teshuva, but it is impossible to serve Hashem in a complete way only through fear. Therefore, the Torah writes, “since you did not serve Hashem with joy,” which teaches that there is an obligation for a person to serve his Creator with great joy, for if he serves only out of fear, when the fear disappears, all his avodat Hashem will also vanish.

If a person serves his Creator with happiness and excitement, then even in hard times his love for his Creator grows from the strength of the challenge, until he no longer feels the full intensity and pain of the hardship, and he continues serving Hashem with all his strength. This can be compared to a mother who takes care of her infant with great devotion and sacrifice, since she is filled with great love for her child. Due to this, all the inconvenience and difficulties dwindle in comparison to the love she feels for her baby.

Hashem commanded us to celebrate Succot right after Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is a day that has the characteristic of serving Hashem through fear and trembling, but since true avodat Hashem is done with joy and love, the Creator commanded us to celebrate the festival of succot immediately afterwards, about which we are commanded “and you shall rejoice on your festival,” “and you will be completely joyous.”

We must arouse ourselves to serve Hashem with joy and great love, since this is the way which gives a person a stronghold in avodat Hashem and endows him with the ability to serve Hashem at all times and in all situations, even when challenges and suffering befalls him.


 Who is Considered a Tale-Bearer?

 One who tells tales about one person to another and goes around and says, ploni said such and such about you, ploni did such and such to you, I heard that ploni wants to do such and such to you… Even if what ploni said or did is not something negative, and even if the tale-bearer is asked by ploni if he spoke about him and he does not deny it, nevertheless he is still called a rochel (talebearer).


 Maran Rabbi Chaim Pinto HaKatan zy”a, was well-known for travelling around collecting money for tzedakah and chessed.

(It is worth mentioning here how praiseworthy is the holy nation of Am Yisrael. They would not wait until Rabbi Chaim came to them to request a donation, instead they waited for him in the street, not only to kiss his hand, but so that he should ask them for money. They considered it a privilege. All Rabbi Chaim Pinto’s acquaintances knew that if he would bless them in return for their donation, that day would be a good one for them, and that week they would merit miracles. Therefore, they searched for ways to give Rabbi Chaim money for charity.)

The following story highlights how Rabbi Chaim was widely recognized as a charity collector: Shmuel Aberty, the grandfather of Rav Muzino, once entered a café in Casablanca with his wife. A few minutes later, Rabbi Chaim Hakatan came into the café, in order to collect alms for the poor.

The owner of the café noticed the tzaddik entering. He thought to himself that surely the Rav was coming to disturb people and lecture them to improve their actions and lifestyle. He began to curse and degrade the tzaddik, “Here is the Rabbi again, coming to my café to collect alms…”

Rabbi Chaim, who was deep in thought, did not notice the owner’s impudence and did not hear his insults. However, Mr. Shmuel Aberty’s wife heard what he said and was shocked by the affront to the honor of the Torah.

Mrs. Aberty turned to her husband and asked him, “How can a person dare to curse and degrade the tzaddik? Is he not afraid?”

Her husband did not know how to protest the insult of the tzaddik. Instead he emphatically stated, “I do not think he will live through the week, since whoever insults a tzaddik does not remain alive, as it says (Avot 2:10) “Beware of their glowing coal lest you be burnt — for their bite is the bite of a fox, their sting is the sting of a scorpion, their hiss is the hiss of a serpent, and all their words are like fiery coals.”

That week the owner of the café died suddenly. This incident became the talk of the town and is still remembered.


A Closed Umbrella Doesn’t Protect!

 A villager arrived in the big city for his first time and walked around the streets captivated. He noticed that the townspeople were carrying strange sticks, wrapped with cloth, in their hands. Carrying on his way he passed a shop window which displayed many of these sticks in a range of colors.

The villager turned to the store owner and asked: “Excuse me, sir, what is the nature of these sticks?” When the owner realized that the person standing in front of him was an ignorant villager, he patiently explained to him: “This stick is called an umbrella, its purpose is to protect against rain.” The villager was astounded to find out about this clever invention. “Really, can it be? Anyone who purchases this stick will be protected from the rain?”

The owner laughed: “No way, it is not a guarantee against the damages of rain… you can see that all the people are carrying the umbrellas in their hands in case it rains! It is not enough to purchase one; you must carry it with you wherever you go.”

The glowing impression of the innovation was slightly dulled, but it still fascinated the villager.

He paid for a colorful umbrella, to show it off in front of his friends back in the village.

The villager returned home and the farmers surrounded him to hear about the wonders of the big city.

“You won’t believe this latest invention,” he said, “Do you see this stick? The city people call it an umbrella!

Do you know why? Because it protects from rain!”

“Protects? How?” the villagers who were standing around him asked in wonder.

The villager hurried to explain: “You must carry it with you, and then you are protected from the rain!”

“Indeed, this is most miraculous!” they said, “Let’s see. Look, it has begun raining — go outside and prove it to us!”

The villager wore a look of importance, hung the umbrella over his arm like the people of the city would do on a cloudy day, and went outside. After a minute he retraced his steps in shame, wet through until his very bones…His friends mocked him, and he gritted his teeth. He must go back to the city and take the swindler, who made him into a laughing stock, to court.

He burst into the store and waved the umbrella that failed him: “Swindler, scoundrel, I fell for it!”

The seller heard his story and asked in surprise, “Maybe there was a hole in the umbrella?”

“A hole? How should I know? I hung the umbrella over my arm, and I got thoroughly soaked through and through!” The store owner let out a raucous laugh and couldn’t calm himself: “You fool! You went outside with a closed umbrella and you got wet?! A closed umbrella is of no use! You must open it and take shelter under it, and then you won’t get wet.” This, too, is what our Creator tells us:

My son! If you wish to merit My protection for your lives, your health, your possessions and your families, you must “open the umbrella” and take shelter under it at all times! Life in the shelter of holiness, even when occupied with material matters, is a guarantee for a good life and to be sealed for the good!


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

 The Yoke of Worldly Responsibilities is Removed from Him

 About seventeen years ago, Mr. Ron came to see me. This man had been completely irreligious. He merited recognizing his Creator and returning to Him in teshuvah, wearing tefillin and praying. Today, he is a generous benefactor of Torah causes and seeks to do acts of kindness. He sets aside fixed hours for Torah study each week.

“Honored Rav,” he began, with a look of despair on his face. “I have financial difficulties as well as marital problems. And I was just fired from my job. I accept these trials with love. But now another challenge has come my way, which I find very hard to cope with. My mother has been diagnosed with cancer and is already at an advanced stage. She cannot eat on her own, so she is fed intravenously. It simply breaks me to see her in this decrepit condition.”

“Do you set aside fixed times for Torah each day?” I queried.

“Certainly,” he answered, self-assuredly. “I consecrate three times a week for Torah study.”

“From now on,” I ordered, “take upon yourself to study Torah every single day of the week.”

Mr. Ron did as I had bidden him. Despite the effort involved, he was scrupulous to maintain a daily learning schedule and upheld it at all costs.

A month passed. One evening, as he sat by his mother’s side in the hospital, he suddenly heard her voice. She asked him to bring her some food, as she was hungry. He almost fell off his chair. It was a very long time since food had passed her lips. He did as she asked and began feeding her.

The scene repeated itself the next evening. She asked for food, and he fed her. She ate normally. The next morning, when he related to the doctors what had transpired, they were incredulous. He finally told them, “Come yourselves to my mother’s room in the evening, and you will see what has been transpiring every night.” The doctors saw with their own eyes how the woman ate like a healthy person.

They began performing a battery of tests. After a few days of thorough investigation, it was pronounced that her disease was completely gone. The growth had shrunk until it disappeared without leaving a trace. After some days of following up on her condition, she was considered perfectly healthy and was discharged from the hospital.

To add to Mr. Ron’s joy, he found a much better job than his previous one. His marital harmony, too, was much improved.

He and his wife were joyously anticipating the birth of a child.

In the merit of his Torah study, all of his problems were resolved.

This is the power of setting aside fixed times for Torah study. It can remove even the harshest decrees from a person. Chazal teach (Avot 3:5), “If one accepts the yoke of Torah, the yoke of government and the yoke of worldly responsibilities are removed from him.”


 There is a special mitzvah incumbent upon us during the coming festival, chag haSuccot, as it says (Devarim 16:14) “and you shall rejoice on your festival,” and the following verse even repeats this obligation “and you will be completely joyous.”

How do we fulfill this mitzva? Especially when a person is surrounded by challenges which trouble him on a day to day basis, suddenly the days of the chag spread their wings over him and he is supposed to disconnect from his suffering and simply be happy? How can one achieve this state?

The Rambam (Mishneh Torah, end of Laws of Lulav) warns us about the obligation to be happy on this festival and writes: “The joy a person should feel in doing the mitzvot and loving Hashem who commanded them is tremendous work. And whoever prevents himself from achieving this state of happiness, it is fitting that he should be punished, as it says “since you did not serve Hashem your G-d with joy.” And there is no greatness or honor but to rejoice before Hashem.

The Vilna Gaon, zt”l, was asked which is the hardest mitzva in the Torah to fulfill. He replied: The hardest mitzva is simchat hachag. Why? Because a person must be happy and in good spirits during the entire chag, including the days and the nights, without letting up even for a moment. Besides this it is also forbidden to nurture worrying thoughts on any matter, and no pain or sorrow should get caught up in the simchat hachag.

This obligation not to get upset about anything in the world, and to be only happy without a break during the entire chag, eight days in a row, one hundred and ninety-two hours, eleven thousand five hundred and twenty minutes! is indeed a very hard mitzva!

All the talmidim and those who were close with the Vilna Gaon knew that during the chag he had a different look on his face. And even though the commandment of “and you shall rejoice on your festival” is one of the hardest mitzvot, the Gaon fulfilled it in an exemplary manner. His holy face glowed with a precious shine which did not dim throughout the seven days of the chag.

Once his talmidim came to visit him, to fulfill the requirement of visiting one’s Rav on the festivals. They were extremely surprised to see him with a sad, drawn face. When they asked him about this and wished to join him in his pain, the Gaon did not want to reveal the reason for his sadness, but since his talmidim pressed him he divulged the reason.

This is what he told them: The previous night he had a dream where he had a revelation on the verse “Ascend here in the south and climb the mountain” (Bamidbar 13:17, concerning the spies). (The Gaon added: this revelation included 2260 explanations on that verse and just from one explanation, I could understand all the secrets of the creation, from the beginning unto the end.) When he awoke in the morning, due to the dearness of the revelation, he could not stop himself and thought about the things that were revealed to him, even though the Gaon himself rules that before saying birkat haTorah it is forbidden to even think about words of Torah. Suddenly he was unable to remember any of the revelation; it simply disappeared from his memory.

“This is the reason for my sadness,” finished the Gaon!

However, we asked previously, how is it possible to fulfil the mitzva of “and you will be completely joyous”?

This is the answer:

Once on erev Succot, Harav Shach zt”l was asked how one achieves simchat yom tov which is a Torah obligation. He answered: During Kiddush you will get your answer. The questioner was perplexed so Maran explained: “Your ears should hear what your mouth talks. When you give praise and thanks to Hashem “Who has chosen us from every people, exalted us above every tongue, and sanctified us with his commandments. And You gave us, Hashem, our G-d, with love, appointed festivals for gladness, festivals and times for joy.”

When I think about this, Harav Shach exclaimed, I want to dance, and you ask how to achieve happiness on Yom Tov?!...


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