Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Parashas Korach 5769

שבת טעם החיים פרשת קרח תשס"ט
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Parashas Korach 5769

Korach was not for the sake of Heaven
In this week’s parashah the Torah records the incident where Korach challenged the authority of Moshe. The Mishna in Avos (5:17) refers to this dispute as a machlokes shelo lisheim shamayim, a dispute not for the sake of Heaven. There are various explanations for this statement. One opinion is that the Mishna refers to the machlokes as a dispute between Korach and his entourage. Thus, the problem with this dispute was that Korach and his following had internal disputes. I have always found this interpretation difficult to understand, as it appears from the Torah that Korach was always on the same page as his followers. Another interpretation that is offered is that the sof, the end of the dispute, was not sustainable, whereas the machlokes between Hillel and Shammai was sustainable. This interpretation is also difficult to understand, as it would appear odd to equate the rebellion of Korach to the intellectual disputes of the Sages. What, then, is the Mishna teaching us by contrasting the two seemingly unrelated disputes? Reb Yeruchem Levovitz provides the answer to the question of why the Mishna equates the machlokes of Korach to the machlokes of Hillel And Shammai. Reb Yeruchem writes that the Mishna is teaching us that all that was lacking in the dispute that Korach had with Moshe was that Korach was not lisheim shamayim. Let us understand what it means to be lisheim shamayim. Hillel and Shammai were certainly lisheim shamayim. They were engaged in Talmudic disputes. What sort of dispute was Korach was engaged in? It would seem that Korach was essentially engaged in a dispute with himself. The Gemara (Sanhedrin 109b) states that Korach took for himself a mekach ra, a bad acquisition. What does mekach ra mean? Every person is looking for a good name for himself. Korach was also looking out for his name. The Medrash (Bamidbar Rabbah 18:8) states that Korach saw that Shmuel the prophet would be his descendant and Korach wished to be a part of this legacy. One must wonder, however, why Korach felt it necessary to act on this vision. Would it not have been sufficient for Korach to know that he would have illustrious descendants?

Korach challenged morality and Shmuel rectified it

The answer to this question is that after Korach challenged Moshe, it is said (Bamidbar 16:4) vayishma Moshe vayipol al panav, Moshe heard and fell on his face. The Gemara (Sanhedrin 110a) states that the reason Moshe fell on his face is because Korach and his followers accused Moshe of committing adultery. This statement of the Gemara requires a deep explanation. Is it possible that Moshe, who had ascended to Heaven and (according to the Meshech Chochmah in his introduction to Shemos) had lost his free choice, could have possibly succumbed to such a grievous sin? Perhaps the explanation of this Gemara is that the Pinei Menachem writes that the Medrash (Bamidbar Rabbah 18:3) states that Korach challenged the mitzvah of tzitzis, whereas Korach’s descendant, Shmuel, perfected the ideal of tzitzis. The Pinei Menachem proves this point from the fact that prior to killing Agag, the Amalekite king, Shmuel told Agag (Shmuel I 15:33) kaasher shiklah nashim charbecha kein tishkal minashim imecho, “just as your sword made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women.” This proclamation, writes the Pinei Menachem, alludes to the idea that Amalek sought to permeate the Jewish People with immoral thoughts, and Shmuel was able to rectify this sin. We can now understand why Korach accused Moshe of committing adultery, as the Gemara (Kiddushin 70b) states kol haposeil bimumo poseil, that one who finds a fault in someone else, it is certain that the accuser himself has that fault. In a certain sense, Korach himself was guilty of adultery, as the mitzvah of tzitzis serves as a protection from immortality (see Gemara Menachos 44a). One who debates the holiness of tzitzis must certainly be suspect regarding issues of morality. Although it is difficult to suggest that this was the deficiency in Korach’s character, it is even more difficult to suggest that Moshe was guilty in any form of this sin. Let us understand, then, how this deficiency relates to the dispute that Korach had with Moshe.

Desire for wealth and immorality are related

Korach was a very wealthy person, and he attempted to use his wealth to challenge Moshe’s authority. The sin of immorality is very similar to the desire for wealth, as it is said (Mishlei 6:26) ki viad isha zonah ad kikar lachem, because, for the sake of a licentious woman, [one may beg] for a loaf of bread. Once one is caught in the web of immoral desire, it is very difficult to extricate himself. Korach was a smart person, but his desire for wealth and honor led him to sin. While Korach did not actually commit the sin of adultery, he is likened to one who committed the sin, because he allowed his desires to overtake him.

Korach could not accept parameters

When we refer to the dispute of Korach, we are not just referring to the dispute that Korach had with Moshe. Rather, the Mishna is also alluding to the dispute that Korach had with shamayim, i.e. all Heavenly matters. By challenging the authority of Moshe, Korach ultimately sought to bring a spiritual downfall to the Jewish People. Korach was lo lisheim shamayim, not for the sake of Heaven, as his actions demonstrated that he was not within the parameters that HaShem set in the world. It is said (Koheles 5:1) al tivaheil al picho vilibicho al yimaheir lihotzi davar lifnei HaElokim ki HaElokim bashamayim viatah al haaretz al kein yihyu divarecho miatim, be not rash with your mouth, and let not your heart be hasty to utter a word before G-d; for G-d is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. Korach, in his challenge to Moshe, demonstrated that he was not willing to accept the parameters of heaven and earth. The idea that Moshe had ascended to heaven at Sinai and was now on a higher level than everyone else was something that Korach could not tolerate. For Korach, it was either we are all on heaven or we all are on earth. Indeed, the punishment that Korach and his followers received is that they were all swallowed up by the earth and were lost from the Jewish People.

Immorality is deemed to be a shtus

Furthermore, the Medrash (Bamidbar Rabbah 18:8) states that Korach’s eye deceived him. The eye alludes to the sin of immorality (see Rashi to Bamidbar 15:39) and although Korach may have not been contemplating such a grave sin at the time, his actions were going to lead him to the most immoral sins. This is also why the Medrash refers to Korach’s sin as a shtus, foolishness, as the Gemara (Sota 3a) states that one does not commit the sin of adultery unless a ruach shtus, a spirit of foolishness, enters him. We can now understand why Korach chose to act on his vision where he saw Shmuel as his descendant. While Korach understood that Shmuel would be great person, he felt that the best way to serve HaShem was without limitations Korach’s mistake was that it is specifically regarding immorality that it is said (Vayikra 19:2) kedoshim tihyu, and Rashi explains that wherever there is a fence from immorality, that is where there is holiness. When Korach attempted to breach these fences, he was declared guilty of the same sin of which he had accused Moshe.


In conclusion, Korach disputed Moshe’s authority and accused him of adultery, a flaw that Korach apparently had within himself. This dispute was deemed a dispute that was not for the sake of heaven, because Korach did not wish to accept the parameter of holiness, despite his claim that the whole nation was holy and HaShem was amongst them. Korach did not accept the idea that HaShem had instituted various levels of holiness in the world and amongst people, and this intolerance led to Korach’s downfall.
The Shabbos connection
The Zohar states that Korach challenged the concepts of Shabbos and shalom, peace. One who is at peace with himself and is satisfied with his lot in life can appreciate Shabbos, which is when the entire world returns to its source. We must prepare ourselves for Shabbos and realize that what we have is what HaShem has bestowed upon us as a gift, and then we can appreciate the ultimate gift in this world, which is HaShem’s Holy Shabbos.
Shabbos Stories
Job placement
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky writes: In the mid 1800’s, Rabbi Avraham Shmuel of Aishishok served as the Rav of the town of Rassein, a small village near Kownus, Lithuania. A brilliant scholar and the author of the Amudei Aish, the community revered him and afforded him the utmost respect. Unfortunately, the Czar government of that era had different visions for a rabbi and appointed their own lackey, a puppet of the state known as a Rav Mitaam. The Rav Mitaam served as the official liaison to the Russian Government and any official dictate or transaction, having to do with Judaism, went only through the Rav Mitaam. Unfortunately for that Rabbi, the townsfolk knew of his very limited capabilities, and relegated him to a seat in the middle of the congregation near the Bimah as opposed to the traditional place up front near the Holy Ark.
But one week the young designate decided that he had enough. He wanted to be afforded the same dignity as Rabbi Avraham Shmuel. He woke up early that Shabbos and came to shul before anyone arrived. He sat himself down in the seat designated for Rabbi Avraham Shmuel next to the Aron Kodesh (Holy Ark). No one had the nerve to say anything to him for fear of government reprisal.
During that era, immediately before Musaf, all congregations throughout Russia said a special prayer on behalf of the Government and Czar Nikolai. That week the chazan, it is not known whether it was an orchestrated ploy or a lapse in memory, forgot to say the prayer. He was about to continue with the Musaf service when suddenly an elderly Jew, a former cantonist soldier who was captured as a youngster and forced to serve in the Czar's army for many years, jumped up from his seat and charged toward the front of the synagogue. He began raining blows on the official designated rabbi, the Rav Mitaam.
“What kind of Rabbi are you!” he shouted. “How dare you allow the chazan to forget the prayer on behalf of our benevolent leader? I served the Czar faithfully for twenty years and you forget to bless him?!” The congregants joined the fray, some trying to separate the older soldier from the bedazzled rabbi, others getting in the blows they always longed to afford the government appointed rabbi.
It was not long before the police arrived, and arrested the soldier, who was dragged out of the synagogue, yelling and hollering about the lack of honor afforded his Majesty. “After all the years I worked for the czar, I will not allow this poor excuse for a rabbi, to belittle the dignity of His Majesty!” The local policeman could not decide the fate of the soldier who struck a government official, to defend the honor of the Czar.
Finally the case was brought to the Governor General of the region who asked the “rabbi” to defend his inaction. “You see,” stammered the Rabbi, I was sitting very far from the bimah and I truly did not hear the chazan skip, the prayer. After all, I was sitting next to the Holy Ark all the way up front!
The decision came down from the governor’s office. No more would the official Rabbi be allowed to sit up front. From now on, he must sit amongst the people to make sure that all the prayers are said correctly.
Appreciating Torah scholars
Rabbi Kamenetzky writes further: Rabbi Meshulam Igra of Pressburg was one of Europe's leading scholars in the latter part of the 18th century. As a young man, he was engaged to the daughter of a prominent community leader in the city of Butzatz. A few months before the wedding the young chassan ate a meal at the home of his future father-in-law. Dessert was served together with a hot treat a delicacy that the impoverished Reb Meshulam had never heard of -- coffee.
The servant brought out a cup of brewed coffee together with sugar and milk. The prospective father-in-law directed his son in law to partake. The young scholar looked quizzically at each of the entities and began to ponder. There were two liquids and sugar. The Talmud teaches that eating precedes drinking. He took a spoon of sugar and ate it. Then he was unsure what to drink first the milk or the black brew. Noting that darkness in the Torah comes before day, he drank the black coffee. Noticing the grinds at the bottom of the cup, he took his spoon and began to eat them. Not wanting to embarrass his soon-to-be father-in-law who had served such a difficult-to-eat dessert, he slowly chewed and swallowed the grinds. His prospective bride stood in shock.
“Father,” she cried. “I cannot marry a man who does not know how to drink a cup of coffee. He is a total klutz!” The engagement was broken.
Years later this same community leader visited the home of Rav Yeshaya Pick the prominent Rav of Breslow. Upon entering the study he noticed the rav engrossed in a letter. He looked totally concerned and distraught. When the man asked what problem was, Rabbi Pick told him that he just received a letter that is filled with the deepest insights. “I have to be totally immersed in Torah thought to begin to comprehend the level of this man's brilliance. In fact,” he continued, “I do not think a man of this caliber has emerged in the last fifty years! And,” he added, “besides the brilliance, one can note his amazing humility and fine character throughout every word he writes.”
Then he looked up at the man. “You come from Butzatz. Have you ever heard of a man called Meshulam Igra?”
The man didn’t emit a verbal response. He fainted.
When he came to, he recounted the entire story of the engagement and its dissolution, how Rabbi Igra was meant to be his son-in-law but the match was broken over coffee grounds. Rabbi Pick looked up at him and shook his head sadly. “Is that so?” he exclaimed. “You gave up the opportunity for this great man because he did not know how to drink a cup of coffee?”
Then he looked at the man and simply declared, “Faint again!” (reprinted with permission from

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim
Parashas Korach 5769
I will not be giving a class in Navi on Shabbos afternoon until after Tisha Baav.
Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.
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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Parashas Shelach 5769

שבת טעם החיים פרשת שלח תשס"ט
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Parashas Shelach 5769

Our mission in this world
In this week’s parasha the Torah records the incident of the Meraglim, the spies that Moshe sent to ascertain if the Jewish People would be capable of conquering Eretz Yisroel. The spies retuned from their forty day journey with a slanderous report, and this report was the catalyst for the Jewish People to die out in the Wilderness. There are many aspects to this episode, but I wish to focus on one subtle point that is the underlying theme of this tragic incident. It is said (Bamidbar13:3) vayishlach osam Moshe al pi HaShem kulam anashim roshei vinei Yisroel heimah, Moshe sent them forth from the Wilderness of Paran at HaShem’s command; they were all distinguished men; heads of the Children of Israel were they. Rashi writes that from the fact that the Torah states that the spies were all distinguished men, we learn that at the time that they were sent on their mission they were righteous. This statement, however, is very difficult to understand, as we see that after a mere forty days they had become traitors to their people and they caused a tragedy for all future generations. This tragedy was manifest in the destruction of both the first and second Bais HaMikdash, which, like the return of the spies, occurred on Tisha Baav. One must wonder, then, how it is possible that the spies commenced their mission as righteous individuals and yet their mission culminated in such treachery.
What is in a name?
In order to understand this transformation in the character of the spies, we must first gain an insight into a number of statements that appear in the Gemara and Medrash. The first statement that requires explanation is that the Gemara (Sota 34b) states that Rabbi Yitzchak said that we have a tradition that the spies were called by their actions and we only have a tradition regarding one of the spies. This spy was Sisur ben Michael, as Sisur means that he demolished (so to speak) the actions of HaShem, and Michael means that he made (so to speak) HaShem weak. Rabbi Yochanan added that we also have a tradition regarding the name Nachbi ben Vafsi, as Nachbi means that he concealed, (so to speak) the words of HaShem, and Vafsi means that he skipped over, so to speak, the character traits of HaShem. The Medrash (Bamidbar Rabbah 16:10) goes even further and states that there are those whose names are nice and their actions are despicable. There are those whose names are despicable and their actions are nice. Then there are those whose names and actions are nice, and there are also those who both their names and their actions are despicable. Regarding the spies, both their names and their actions were despicable. What is the meaning of this Gemara and Medrash? How is it that the names of the spies were despicable and contained negative connotations?
Name and soul are synonymous
Let us understand the significance of a person’s name. It would seem that the word sheim, meaning name, is associated with the word neshama, soul. Not only are the words closely related because of the word sheim that is contained within the word neshamah, but they are intrinsically associated with each other as it is logical that the essence of the person is his neshama. Thus, when we refer to a person’s name, we are referring to his neshama, which is the unique imprint that HaShem gave him to fulfill his mission in life. The Medrash (Bamidbar Rabbah 16:1) states that there is no one more beloved to HaShem than shluchei mitzvah, those who are sent on a mission regarding a mitzvah and they sacrifice themselves to fulfill their mission. The Sfas Emes writes that in this sense every person is a shilach mitzvah, a messenger with a mission in this world. The spies had great neshamos, souls, and their mission was to maintain that high level of spirituality. One must wonder, then, where they went wrong? It would seem from the reading of this episode that the spies failed to see themselves as messengers of HaShem and of the Jewish People. Rather, they transformed their mission to a mission of selfishness, where they chose to see what they felt would be to their benefit and not for the benefit of the rest of the people.
Seeing the land for the good
It is worth noting that specifically regarding this mission Moshe conferred upon Hoshea ben Nun the name Yehoshua. By adding the letter yud to his name, Moshe was demonstrating that Hoshea was charged with a mission of maintaining the purity of his neshama, and furthermore, that he should elevate the mission, as the letter yud reflects righteousness (Likutei Moharan I 34:6). It is also noteworthy that Moshe charged the spies with the mission of seeing the land. It is for this reason that when Moshe repeats the incident of the spies, he said (Devarim 1:23) vayitav bieinay hadavar, the idea was good in my eyes and Rashi (Ibid) writes that we can infer from this that it was good in the eyes of Moshe but not in the eyes of HaShem. How is it possible that Moshe disagreed, Heaven forbid, with the wishes of HaShem? Perhaps the answer to this question is that the Gemara (Nedarim 38a) states that regarding Moshe it is said (Mishlei 22:9) tov ayin hu yivorach, one with a good eye will be blessed. Moshe desired that the spies should see the good in the land, and had they done so, it would have been a reflection of the exalted level of their souls. When they failed to see the good in the land, it became necessary for HaShem to show Moshe himself the land, as it is said (Devarim 34:1) vayareihu HaShem es kol haaretz, HaShem showed him the entire land. The Sforno (Bamidbar 22:41) explains that whereas Balaam had an evil eye, Moshe had a good eye, and he used his good eye to see the good that is contained in Eretz Yisroel. Thus, we see that one has to look into his name and his soul, i.e. his essence, and determine what his mission is in this world. One who lives up to his mission will certainly be deemed a shilach mitzvah.
The Shabbos connection
The Sfas Emes (Mishpatim 5631) writes that the six days of the week are referred to as sheishes yimei melacha, the six days of work, and the word melacha is similar to malach, an angel. Everything in this world has within it life from HaShem and one was sent to this world to perform the will of HaShem, as there are mitzvos contained within every action of man. Nonetheless, the life from HaShem and mitzvah are concealed and one must realize what is contained within every action that he performs. The Sfas Ems writes that on Shabbos everything is revealed, as Shabbos is a semblance of the World to Come. The Zohar states that all illnesses of the body and of the soul are due to excess eating and drinking, whereas on Shabbos ones consumption is all considered to be a mitzvah. Hashem should allow us to fulfill our mission in this world and to merit the day that will be completely Shabbos and rest, for eternity.
Shabbos Stories
All in a day’s work
In the city of Vienna about two-hundred years ago lived a wealthy and famous banker, R’ Shimshon Werthheimer z”l. In the secular world, he was known for his great wealth and uncanny business acumen. Among Jews, he was famous for his love and support of Torah foundations, yeshivos, and generosity towards those less fortunate than him. Everyone knew: Those who knocked on R’ Shimshon’s door would not be turned away empty handed.
A short while after he passed away, the holy Rabbi Chaim of Sanz zt”l gathered his disciples. “Let me tell you,” he began, “what transpired in Heaven when the neshama (soul) of R’ Shimshon arrived, and the time came for him to give his ultimate reckoning:
“‘Let me tell you how I spent my day,’ R’ Shimshon began his testimony before the Heavenly Tribunal. ‘More or less, my days were always the same. I got up early, and went to shul to pray shacharis (morning prayers). After praying, I returned home for breakfast. After breakfast, I had a coffee and cigar as I read the daily newspapers. A banker, after all, must always be well informed. I recited Birkas Ha-mazon (Grace), and went to the bank.
“‘In the late afternoon, I returned home for lunch, and after eating a healthy meal and bentsching, I had a small rest. When I arose, there was invariably a line-up of collectors waiting for me. I gave each one of them my time, and tried to always give as generously as I could.
“‘At this point, it was already time to daven mincha. Between mincha and ma’ariv, I attended a shiur (Torah lesson). After praying ma’ariv, I had yet another shiur before going home to eat supper with my family. After supper I usually relaxed by playing some chess; it helped me overcome some of the day’s stresses.
“‘Before going to bed, of course, I recited the bedtime k’rias Shema, and that, give or take, was my schedule.’
“R’ Shimshon, as we all know, was a righteous man of great integrity, and after bearing witness, he was immediately ushered into Gan Eden among the righteous of Israel.
“It just so happens,” continued R’ Chaim, “that another banker, an associate of R’ Shimshon, also passed away that very day. After escorting R’ Shimshon to his exalted spot in Gan Eden, the Heavenly Tribunal once again adjourned.
“Not having been much of a shomer Torah u’mitzvos (Torah-observant Jew), he was quite terrified of having to bear testimony. Hearing R’ Shimshon’s testimony, and the Tribunal’s reaction, though, seems to have calmed his nerves.
“‘I was also a banker,’ he began. ‘In fact, my schedule was in many ways identical to that of my contemporary, R’ Shimshon. I too arose early. I ate breakfast, and read the dailies while savoring a hot coffee and smoking a cigar. I went to the bank, where I worked hard all morning, and returned home in the afternoon for a late lunch and a rest. I usually spent the rest of the afternoon keeping fit with some sports. After supper, I also liked to play a round or two of chess, and then I went to sleep. So you could say that, for perhaps four-fifths of our days, our schedules were identical.’
“Of course,” said R’ Chaim, “it takes no genius to realize that the Heavenly Tribunal did not view the second man’s daily schedule as being worthy of the reward given R’ Shimshon.
“‘Tell me something,’ the soul of the poor man protested, ‘my friend, R’ Shimshon, is he being rewarded for a lifetime of good deeds, or only for the few hours a day he spent studying Torah, praying, and giving charity?’
“‘R’ Shimshon was a righteous man,’ they said, ‘of course he will be rewarded for a lifetime full of righteousness.’
“‘Yet is it not true,’ he persisted, ‘that twenty out of the twenty-four hours of our days were identical? We slept, we ate, and we worked. If he’s being rewarded for all twenty-four, why shouldn’t I get my reward for at least twenty?’
“An original argument, no doubt, yet a foolish one all the same. The Beis- din shel ma’alah had no problem answering him.
“‘Suppose a farmer sells raw wheat at the marketplace,’ they told him. ‘To separate the straw and stones is too difficult, so he sells the wheat by the wagonload, ‘as is.’ Of course, all of this is taken into account when calculating his price, so his buyers know what to expect.’
“‘One day, he is struck by a brilliant idea. He goes around gathering lots and lots of stones and straw, and puts them in big sacks. He takes them to the marketplace, placing them alongside his regular wagonloads of grain. To his shock, no one seems the least bit interested in buying them.
“‘Tell me,’ he asks one of his regular buyers, ‘why is nobody buying any of these bags of straw and stones I prepared—I spent lots of time gathering them?’
“‘But who on earth would pay money for straw and stones?’ he replied. ‘And to boot, you’ve priced them identically to your grain! Who ever heard of such foolishness?’
“‘Yet you do pay me for straw and stones all the time,’ he replied. ‘You know that; there’s not a single wagon load of grain that I sell that doesn’t contain tens of pounds of them. When you pay me by weight, don’t you realize you’re paying me for the straw and stones too?’
“‘Of course I realize that. When I buy grain, I know there is invariably going to be some straw and stones too. I take that into account. I don’t need the chaff, but who ever heard of grain without it? When you buy grain, you’re always going to accept some straw and stones. But without the grain? It’s useless! Please don’t waste my time.’
“’A G-d-fearing Jew,’ they told him, ‘who lived a life of Torah and mitzvos, and used his business not only for his personal well-being, but to support Torah study and aid the poor, is rewarded for his whole day—all twenty-four hours! His work, his leisure time—it’s all part-and-parcel of the life of a dedicated Jew and philanthropist. The chaff, so to speak, joins the grain on the scale of life.
“‘But you lived a life void of Torah, of mitzvos, and of charity. Your days, so to speak, were all chaff and no substance. For what shall we reward you?’” [Ma’yan ha-shavua]
The Chozeh’s clock
as told by Rabbi Michel Twerski Shlita of Milwaukee
When the holy Chozeh of Lublin passed away, all of his Chassidim found themselves in a time of extreme aveilus [mourning]. It seemed to them that there would be no one, nowhere, to whom they could turn, that would replace the giant who had served as their guide and inspiration for so many years. Most grief-stricken of all was his son, R. Yossele Tulchiner, who was in his own right a man of great righteousness, he was himself a tzaddik of great repute, and he could find no consolation. He remained behind in Lublin for many weeks, trying to find someplace where he might comfort himself. At long last, he realized that he needed to move on.
Before he left, he went to see if he might collect some of his father’s belongings, so that when he returned home he would have some physical mementos with which to comfort himself. He threw a number of articles into a bag – amongst which was a wall clock. It was kind of a cumbersome thing, but it was something that reminded him of the room in which his father, the Chozeh, had learned, davened and received his Chassidim.
So he set out along the way, to return home to Tulchin. We must remember that R. Yosef, not unlike other tzaddikim of his time, was essentially destitute and penniless. And so he was very much dependent upon the goodwill of whoever happened to be traveling – that they might give him a lift in their horse-drawn wagon. Finally, someone pitied him, and as it turned out – as the Gemara says, “poverty follows the poor.” This fellow who gave him a ride, had an open carriage. A number of hours into the trip, it began to pour – it was a deluge! They were soon soaked to the bone, and a cool breeze began to chill them.
He knew that unless he found some haven, that he would catch the death of a cold. And so, he ran for the first shelter that he could find. He finally found an inn – the innkeeper was very hospitable and took him in, built a warm fire, offered him a warm drink, and something with which to cover himself in his discomfort. He spent the night there. The next day, the rain continued and he spent another day and night there.
Finally, the weather cleared, and he was able to set out again. It came time to negotiate with the innkeeper for his shelter and food. When presented with the bill, of course, R. Yossele had no money. So he turned to him and said, “Look, I have nothing. But I do have some of the mementos, the things that belonged to my illustrious father. Perhaps there is something here that would be of value to you.”
The innkeeper was no Chassid, and none of these things meant anything to him. So he searched through the bag. Finally, his eyes set on this clock. “This is really not worth it,” he said, “but it’s the only thing you have that even approaches in value, so I’ll take the clock.” Reluctantly but nonetheless gratefully, he surrendered the clock. R. Yossele left and continued on his way.
Many, many years passed. One of the Chozeh’s esteemed Chassidim, who was now a leader of a Chassidic community in his own right, [known as] the Saba Kadisha of Radoshitz, Rebbe Yissachar Ber, was traveling with his Chassidim. As they were traveling, they sought a place to spend the night, and they found this particular inn. The innkeeper was again very hospitable and gave the Rebbe his finest room.
The Chassidim did the best they could with the little bit of room that was left. Night fell, and everyone went to sleep. The proprietor of the inn went to bed. He heard sounds coming from the Rebbe’s room. At first he ignored them, but they became increasingly disturbing. The Rebbe was clearly marching around his room. Soon the marching turned into a dance. He could hear the Rebbe singing to himself and dancing.
At first, he thought it would soon end. Ten minutes. Half an hour. An hour. Throughout the night, the Rebbe danced. Finally, early in the morning, the innkeeper knocked on the door and said, “Rebbe, all night you’ve been awake dancing – I heard you! What’s happening?”
The Rebbe said, “I, too, would like to know what’s happening. Please tell me – where did you get this clock – the one in my room?”
The innkeeper replied, “There was once a traveler who couldn’t pay his bill. And he said that his father was a great Rabbi; I don’t remember the name. But some objects belong to him, and I claimed the clock in payment.”

The Radoshitzer said, “What did this traveler look like?”
The innkeeper described him. The Radoshitzer called his Chassidim. “It’s clear to me that R. Yossele must have traveled this way after his father’s petirah [passing]. And when he couldn’t pay his bill, he gave up the clock. I remember the clock well. When I used to go in to the Rebbe, the Chozeh, I would see that clock on the wall. I knew that this clock had to be the Rebbe’s!”

“What gave it away?” asked the Chassidim.

The Rebbe replied, “Every clock in the world, when it ticks, it’s depressing. Every tick signifies another second of life gone, spent, never again to be claimed. That’s how most of us deal with time.
“But the Rebbe had a command and appreciation for time; that every moment to him was a moment closer to the Geulah Shileima, to bias Moshiach Tzidkienu [the complete Redemption and coming of the righteous Messiah]. His clock did not tick with sadness or sorrow; it was not a mournful tick. It was positive – full of hope, not a tick of despair. The tick-tock of the Rebbe’s clock was one that marched towards the Geulah Shileima.
“When I came, I wanted to sleep – I was tired! But that clock – it kept me constantly moving towards the Geulah. How can you sleep when you have a clock that reminds you every moment that we are a moment closer to the Geulah Shileima? So I danced all night!”
Rav Michel Twerski adds: This clock of the Holy Chozeh represents something that we learned about, something which has the capacity to do two opposite things: the Parah Adumah [the red heifer], which defiles the pure, and purifies the defiled. For all of us, life presents many opportunities. For some of us, they turn into problems. We look at them – another problem, another nail into our hide, another difficulty, barrier, obstacle; another cause for sorrow, sadness; another area to drain us of our energy. And because we take that attitude, it cripples us; it turns into a shackle which won’t release us.
On the other hand, there are people who have very much the same kinds of challenges and tests. To them, they are opportunities, doors, gates – into bigger and better things – developing new strengths, insights; commanding new perspectives, and ways for us to be able to rise above the things that challenge our way in life. The same test – trial – tribulation; but attitude makes all the difference.
For some of us, those tests are the “tick in the clock,” which is a tick of despair, a sound of life wasted. For others, it brings us closer to our own Geulah, to redeeming all of the potential and all of the resources in ourselves. Something else to bring out the kochos hanefesh [soul powers] that we have. It is one move closer to our own personal Geulah, and ultimately, through us, a contribution to the Geulah Shileima.

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim
Parashas Shelach 5769
I will be giving a class in Navi on Shabbos afternoon at Beis Haknesses HaGra 14561 Lincoln in Oak Park, an hour before Mincha
Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.
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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Parashas Behaaloscha 5769

שבת טעם החיים פרשת בהעלותך תשס"ט
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Parashas Behaaloscha 5769

The ups and downs of life
In this week’s parasha there appears to be an underlying theme throughout all the episodes that the Torah mentions. This theme is the idea of contrast. We find in the beginning of the parashah that Aharon is disturbed that he and the tribe of Levi were not involved in the dedication of the Mishkan, until HaShem consoles him by informing him that he will be the one who will light the Menorah. The Torah then discusses the purification process of the Leviim, and the Torah explains how the Leviim were chosen instead of the firstborns of the Israelites. We then encounter the instruction to the Jewish People to bring the Korban Pesach in the Wilderness, followed by the complaint of those who were ritually impure and were not allowed to offer the Korban Pesach. The Torah then contrasts how at times the cloud would linger over the Mishkan for many days, and other times the cloud would only linger over the Mishkan for a day and then the Jewish People would journey. We then learn about the commandment for Moshe to make for himself two silver trumpets, and these trumpets could only be used by Moshe in his lifetime and no other leader after Moshe was permitted to use these trumpets. The Torah then records how Moshe implores Yisro to travel with the Jewish People and Yisro desists, explaining that he wishes to return to his homeland. This is then followed by the Jewish People complaining about only having manna to eat and nothing else. Hashem instructs Moshe to choose seventy men who will assist Moshe in bearing the burden of the people. Two elders, Eldad and Meidad, remain in the camp, and they prophesied without stop. The Torah concludes with the incident where Miriam spoke against Moshe, and HaShem explains to Miriam and Aharon how Moshe is different than all other prophets. Miriam is subsequently punished with Tzaraas, requiring that she be quarantined outside the camp and the people did not journey until Miriam was brought in. What is the meaning of all these contrasts and distinctions that the Torah records?
Three parshiyos in one
In order to understand the lessons that the Torah is teaching us with regard to these contrasts, we must point out what should be the most obvious distinction in this week’s parasha, but to the casual reader, it would not appear to be a distinction at all. Following Moshe’s entreaty to Yisro to travel with the Jewish People, there are two verses that are preceded and followed by two upside down letters. The upside down letters are the two nuns. The Gemara (Shabbos 116a) states that these two upside down nuns teach us that within this parasha there are really three parshiyos, and the nuns serve to separate between one parasha and the next, as there were two sections of rebuke and chastisements preceding and following the nuns. What are these two sections that the Gemara is referring to? Tosfos (Ibid) understands that preceding the first nun, it is said (Bamidbar 10:33) vayisu meihar HaShem derech shiloshes yamim, they journeyed from the mountain of HaShem a three-day distance, and the Medrash interprets this to mean that the Jewish People fled from Sinai like a child who flees from school. The rebuke and chastisements that follows the second nun is obvious, as the Torah records the punishment that was meted out to those who complained about the manna and requested meat. The Torah, by separating the two rebukes and chastisements, is teaching us a valuable lesson. Everyone has in his or her life ups and downs. The downs can be caused by seeing how others seem to have it good, as was the case with Aharon and the Nesiim. At times the downs can be a result of circumstances that are beyond one’s control, as was the case regarding those who were not able to offer the Korban Pesach in its proper time. Furthermore, there are times when a person can be in an up mode for a while, and there are times when one will be up for only a short period, and this was reflected in the length of time that the cloud lingered over the Mishkan. There are also people who seem to be born with a silver spoon in their mouth, as was the case with Moshe, who earned the status of being the master of all prophets, and only Moshe was allowed to use the silver trumpets, and only in his lifetime. Yisro, who forsook his pagan background and converted to Judaism, still insisted on returning to his homeland. In a similar vein, the Jewish People, were blessed with the manna, but they were not satisfied with this surreal existence, and they desired meat. Hashem then instructs Moshe to choose seventy elders who will be equal in sharing the burden with Moshe, and yet, Eldad and Meidad are noted for their distinction in being prophets who do not cease to prophesy. This contrast in greatness is highlighted further when HaShem informs Miriam and Aharon that Moshe is in a different league of prophecy than all other prophets. Thus, we see that everyone experience ups and downs in life and it is irrelevant whether he can control them. What is relevant, however, is that one should be cognizant that HaShem is the One Who is running the show, and jealousy and feelings of bitterness will not help one grow spiritually. Additionally, the Torah separates the rebuke and the chastisements to teach us that one should never view a series of “downs” as an excuse to avoid attempting to go back up. Perhaps it for this reason that between the two parshiyos of rebuke and chastisements, the Torah refers to the journeying and resting of the Aron, the Holy Ark. This reflects the idea that there are times when Torah study and mitzvah performance can appear to us to be elusive, and we wonder what we have accomplished with our days on this earth. Yet, at other times, we feel that we can study Torah and perform mitzvos in a relaxed state, and this should encourage us to always maintain hope that, despite the downs we may encounter in life, there is always an “ up” that is just around the bend.
The Shabbos connection
Throughout the week we are subject to ups and downs, as the tumult of life rushes over us and at times threatens to leave us without energy to do battle with the forces of evil. Yet, we know that every week HaShem bestows upon us His Holy Shabbos, which is a life-saving gift that allows us to begin the following week on a high. Hashem should allow us to delight in His Holy Shabbos, and our proper observance of Shabbos should allow us to merit experiencing only elevation in our physical and spiritual lives.

Shabbos Stories
Charity Is The Best Investment
Rabbi Yissachar Frand writes: Rav Betzalel Zolty cites a true story regarding Rav Moshe Mordechai Epstein, Rosh Yeshiva of Slabodka, who came to the United States in 1924 to collect money. While he was here, he received a telegram from the “Alter” [Elder] of Slabodka that the Lithuanian government was going to draft all the Yeshivas students into the Lithuanian army. This would have been a death sentence for all of those students, if not in a physical sense, then certainly in a spiritual sense.
The “Alter” told Rav Moshe Mordechai that he was sending 150 students from Slabodka to Palestine to start a Yeshiva in Eretz Yisrael. For this massive undertaking, he needed 25,000 dollars – a huge sum in those days. Rav Epstein went to a wealthy Jew from a Manhattan banking family, named Schiff. Rav Epstein told Mr. Schiff about the situation and expected a nice donation. Mr. Schiff wrote a check for the entire sum.
In the depression (1929), Mr. Schiff lost his entire fortune. In the 1930s, Rav Moshe Mordechai was already not well and could not make the trip to America. He sent his son-in-law, Rav Chatzkel Sarna to come to New York to collect money for the Slabodka Yeshiva. Rav Sarna came to America in the early 1930s, the height of the depression. Mr. Schiff lost everything he had in the stock market and everything he had in the real estate market. Indeed, he was then living in the basement of a building he once owned.
However, Mr. Schiff came to speak at a parlor meeting held in New York on behalf of the Slabodka yeshiva. At the parlor meeting, Mr. Schiff said that of all the investments that he ever owned - the real estate, the stocks, everything - the only investment that he still had was the $25,000 he gave 10 years earlier to the Slabodka yeshiva. Everything else he lost. He can only look at the Yeshiva in Eretz Yisrael that had young Torah students learning and say, “That is my investment; that still delivers great dividends to me and my family.” He told the assembled parlor meeting that the only money that one has that is guaranteed is the money that one gives to charity. (Reprinted with permission form )
Reb Yaakov Yitzchak of Lublin - A story about the Chozeh
The Chozeh of Lublin and his disciples had set out on a long journey. As the Shabbos quickly approached they found themselves at an unfamiliar crossroads. Dismounting from their wagons, they debated the question of which way to turn. The Chozeh interrupted the discussion, and advised them to let the horses’ reins go free and let them go where they would. They did as he said, and they traveled quite a few miles on the road before meeting a peasant who told them that the town which they had reached was not the one they had been searching for.
Nevertheless, as the Shabbos was quickly approaching, they had to stop over and find some lodging for the night. At that point the Chozeh announced to his Chasidim, “This Shabbos I am not to be known as a rebbe.” From this they understood that he wanted to be inconspicuous for some reason of his own. It was also understood that they would be on their own in finding appropriate accommodations. So, they entered the town and made their way to the synagogue, knowing that, according to time-honored custom, strangers always received an invitation from some villager for the Shabbos meal. Sure enough, they all received invitations, except for the Chozeh who, in his usual fashion prolonged his prayers until all the other congregants had left. There was, however, one very old man who also remained in the synagogue and sat singing the traditional Shabbos tunes. The old man noticed the stranger and asked him, “Where will you be having your meal?” The Chozeh replied, “I don’t know yet.” “Well, I would suggest that you have your Shabbos meals in the local inn, and after the Shabbos ends, I will go around and collect the money to pay the bill.” “No,” replied the Chozeh. “In that inn, they don’t even light the Shabbos candles. No, I won’t make Kiddush in such a place.” “Well,” the man said, “I would invite you to my own home, but we really don’t have much of anything to eat or drink.” “Don’t worry,” the Chozeh said, “I don’t eat very much, and I don’t drink very much either.” “All right, so you’ll come home with me.” said the old man, still sitting with his prayer book in his hand.
“Tell me, where do you come from?” the man asked.” “I come from Lublin,” the Chozeh responded. “You don’t say!” said the man. “Why, you don’t happen to know the tzaddik, the Chozeh, do you?” The Chozeh said, “It so happens that I know him very well. I spend all of my time with him.” The old man's eyes lit up like a fire and he proclaimed, “I would like very much to be able to see him in his glory, but I don’t know how it can be. I’m very poor and I’ve become weak in my old age, so it is impossible for me to make the journey to Lublin. Nevertheless, my desire is so strong, I fast one day a week that I should have the merit to see him with my own eyes. Please, what can you tell me about him?” “Well, what kind of things do you want to know?” asked the Chozeh. The man sighed and said, “You see, many years ago, when he was just a little boy, I was his teacher. In those days he was a regular boy, just like all the rest, nothing special about him. But now, I hear he performs miracles and is a great tzaddik. Every day when his turn came to read from the prayer book, he would be missing. And when he would finally turn up, I would always spank him. Then, one day I decided to follow him. I was curious to see where he went all the time. So, I walked a little distance behind him, and followed him into the forest. There, he sat down and cried out from the depths of his heart, Shema Yisrael, Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem Echad (Devarim 6:4)! From that day on I never spanked him again.”
The Chozeh was greatly moved by the old man’s recitation, and it was clear to him why G-d had directed his path to this out-of-the-way little village. He revealed to the old man his real identity, and the old man fainted away. After he was revived, the old man told the Chozeh not to reveal to anyone else who he was. After the end of Shabbos the Chozeh and his followers continued on in the originally intended direction. They arrived at an inn and enjoyed the Melaveh Malka (post-Shabbos) meal. (A ritual meal at the end of the Shabbos bidding goodbye to the “Shabbos Queen”). When they had finished, the Chozeh told them, “Let’s return to the village now, for it is time for us to pay our last respects to the old man I stayed with. He has just departed from this world.” They returned and said the eulogy for the old man who had such a burning love for righteous people, that God granted him his greatest wish.

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim
Parashas Behaaloscha 5769
I will be giving a class in Navi on Shabbos afternoon at Beis Haknesses HaGra 14561 Lincoln in Oak Park, an hour before Mincha
Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.
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Please send email to
View Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim
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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Parashas Naso 5769

שבת טעם החיים פרשת נשא תשס"ט
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Parashas Naso 5769

It will be good in the end
In this week’s parasha we learn about two seemingly unrelated ideas. One idea is that of the Sota, the adulteress woman who is warned by her husband not to have any contact with another man. The woman is subject to a humiliating process, where, if convicted, her stomach swells and her thigh falls, and she dies because of her deviancy., If she is found innocent, however she merits much blessing. The Torah also discusses at length the sacrifices that were offered by the Nesiim, the leaders of each tribe, upon the dedication of the Mishkan. One must wonder why the Torah elaborates on the offerings of the Nesiim. It is said (Shemos 35:27) vihanisiim heiviu eis avnei hashoham vieis Avnei hamiluim laeifod vilachoshen, the leaders brought the shoham stones and the stones for the settings for the Ephod and the Breastplate. Rashi cites the Medrash (Bamidbar Rabbah 12:16) that states that the Nesiim chose to be the first to bring offerings for the dedication of the Mishkan, whereas for the donations towards the construction of the Mishkan, the Nesiim brought their donations after everyone else. Their rationale was that the people should bring all the donations and whatever would be lacking, they, the Nesiim, would make up for. Once the Nesiim, saw, however, that the people had donated everything, they were left to bring the Shoham stones, and it was for this reason that the Nesiim chose to be the first to bring offerings for the dedication of the Mishkan. This act of laziness caused that the letter yud was left out of their name, and it is written in the Torah vihanisiim without a letter yud. This Medrash implies that the Nesiim were being chastised for their laziness. Why, then, does the Torah here elaborate on the offerings of the Nesiim, reporting the exact same details of each of the twelve Nesiiim’s offerings?
There is always hope
It would seem that the message that is gleaned from the discussion of the Sota applies equally to the episode regarding the Nesiim. While the Nesiim were reprimanded for their laziness with regard to their bringing donations for the construction of the Mishkan, they remained true to their title of Nasi, which means to elevate. The Nesiim elevated themselves by not despairing because of their previous delinquency. Rather, they hastened to be the first to offer sacrifices for the Mishkan dedication, and in fact, the Nesiim were ultimately the only ones who offered sacrifices in this regard. In a similar vein, the Sota is suspected of being unfaithful to her husband. She undergoes a debasing experience, but there is the possibility that she will be vindicated. The Gemara (Sota 26a) states that if she is vindicated then she will be rewarded. If until now she had given birth in pain, she will now give birth with ease. If until now she had given birth to girls, she will now give birth to boys. Furthermore, she will give birth to taller and whiter skinned children. Thus, we see that even a woman who is accused of infidelity has hope that her honor will be restored. This is the lesson of this week‘s parasha. One who has sinned and has despaired of ever repenting and being accepted by HaShem should study the portion regarding the Sota and the portion regarding the Nesiim, and he will realize that there is hope for everyone.
The Shabbos connection
This idea certainly reflects our weekly struggles, as every week we face challenges of earning a livelihood and succumbing to the forces that wish to distance us, Heaven forbid, from HaShem and His Torah. We must realize that despite our struggles during the week, Shabbos is a time of repentance and an opportunity where we can serve HaShem with true joy. It is said (Yeshaya 55:12) ki visimcha seitzeiu, for in gladness shall you go out. The Gerrer Rebbes write that this verse can be interpreted to mean that with joy, one can exit any situation. Hashem should allow us to serve Him with joy and to observe His Shabbos properly.
Shabbos Stories
Keeping what is yours
Rabbi Shlomo Katz writes: The Chofetz Chaim (died 1933) once visited the town of Slonim, and a certain wealthy resident, R' Yosef, asked the sage to review his (R' Yosef's) will. R’ Yosef want the Chofetz Chaim's opinion of whether he had divided his assets properly. The Chofetz Chaim looked at the will and saw that R' Yosef had divided his money into four equal shares - 10,000 rubles for each of his three sons and 10,000 rubles for his wife. In addition, R’ Yosef had willed all of his Sefarim to various yeshivos. The Chofetz Chaim returned the will to R’ Yosef and said, “You find the errors.”
R' Yosef reviewed his will and replied, “I do not see any errors. It looks to me like it is all in order.”
“No!” said the Chofetz Chaim. “Firstly, I am amazed that you left all your money to your family and your Sefarim to yeshivos. Your children, too, will need Sefarim, while yeshivos lack money for food more than they lack Sefarim.
“Secondly, you have transgressed the verse (Yeshaya 58:7), ‘From your own flesh do not turn away.’ True, ‘your flesh’ refers to your relatives, but you are your own closest relative, and you have made no provision for yourself. You worked hard for this money, and you should give yourself an equal share. Create another share of your assets,” the Chofetz Chaim said, “and then divide it again - one-half for Torah scholars and one-half to chesed organizations, for example, for bikkur cholim, for poor people, and so on. The portion that is for Torah scholars also will help feed and clothe poor people such that you will have a share not only in their Torah study but in their very livelihoods.”
R’ Yosef agreed and promised that he would change his will forthwith.
“Wait,” said the Chofetz Chaim. “My advice to you is that you take your 8,000 ruble share and distribute it to appropriate institutions in your lifetime. You know how it is; when children see that their father has left a large portion of his estate to charity, they hire a lawyer to prove that their father was insane. Imagine the reaction in the Heavenly Court if you come there and they hear that, not only were your pledges to charity not fulfilled, but you were insane to boot!
“This,” concluded the Chofetz Chaim, “is the lesson of the verse in Parashas Naso (5:10), ‘A man’s holies shall be his.’ Only what a person sets aside for holy uses will ultimately remain his.”
(Quoted in Otzrosaihem Shel Tzaddikim)
Observing Shabbos even in hard times
A Jewish peasant once came to ask for a blessing from Rabbi Chaim of Chernowitz. The rabbi was about to give his blessing, but paused and asked the man, "Tell me, do you keep Shabbos?"
The farmer averted his eyes and did not reply, but the rabbi continued speaking. “Perhaps you don’t understand the true sanctity of Shabbos. Let me explain: All week you toil with farm animals and till the earth. You work until you’re so exhausted that you fall into your bed. What connection do you have with the spiritual? On the Shabbos, every Jew receives an additional soul, one which is completely pure and refined. He rests his weary body, forgets his struggle of the preceding week and devotes his thoughts to G-d. A person who lives without the Shabbos has a life of work which never ends.”
The peasant listened to the rabbi’s words and they struck a deep chord within his heart. He burst into tears at the thought of all he was missing in life. “Rabbi, I see now how right you are. But perhaps I haven't explained the whole reason why I don't observe Shabbos completely as I should. You see, I rent my farm from a poritz (landlord) who requires me to produce enough food for his family as well as my own. Now that you have explained the importance of Shabbos, I will try my best to keep it completely. Just during the harvest I won't be able to.”
Rabbi Chaim gently asked the farmer why he was so certain that he would not be able to keep Shabbos during the harvest.
“Rabbi, during the harvest I don't have even one minute to spare, and I can't take such a long break.”
Rabbi Chaim smiled and said, “Let me tell you a story: A long time ago, a local landowner invited his friends to a celebration. When they were all seated around the table, and had all drunk much too much, they began to brag about their Jewish employees. ‘My Jewish tenant is unique. He’s as loyal as a good hunting dog,’ said one. Another countered, ‘He can’t be as loyal as my Jewish tenant. He's absolutely the best!’
“Then the host spoke up. ‘You may all have very remarkable tenants, but my Jew is unquestionably the most loyal. Why, he would do anything I asked without hesitation. You know, if I asked him to just convert to our religion, he would do it in a minute.’
“The others began to speak at once. ‘That would never happen. A Jew, no matter how loyal, would never convert because he was asked to do so by his employer!’ they all contended.
“'I see you don’t believe me. I will prove it to you! Send for Moshke!’ the poritz barked to his servant.
“The Jewish tenant was soon standing in front of his landlord and all the drunken guests. ‘Moshke,’ began the poritz, ‘would you do anything I requested of you?’
“The frightened Jew didn’t know what was about to happen. He just hoped to avoid trouble, and so he nodded his head and replied, ‘Yes, sir, I certainly would obey you.’
“'Moshke, I want you to become a Christian right now!’
"The Jew was shocked at the request, but he was too frightened to refuse. He needed a livelihood and his family needed a roof over their heads. As soon as he nodded his head a servant was dispatched to bring the priest. Before he could think about what he was doing, the Jew was baptized.
“When the poritz came out of his drunken haze, he remembered what he had done to his Jewish tenant and he regretted it very much. He apologized, ‘Moshke, I was drunk and I didn’t mean to offend you. Of course, you may become a Jew once again!’
“The poritz was shocked at Moshke’s reaction to his words. He didn’t express his relief or gratitude. In fact, he was none too anxious to resume his former religion.”
‘Thank you for your offer, but soon the Jewish holiday of Passover will be celebrated. It is a very costly holiday. So, I was wondering, would you mind if I put off changing back until after the holiday?’ “
Rabbi Chaim looked penetratingly at the farmer and asked, “Do you know that the Torah states, ‘Six days shall you work and on the seventh you shall rest. At the time of plowing and harvesting you shall rest.’ Doesn’t it seem strange that the Torah adds the words ‘at plowing and harvesting’ when it says that Shabbos must be observed on a weekly basis? Why is it necessary to mention plowing and harvesting in particular?
“The reason is to teach us that even at the most demanding times of the year, when it seems impossible to keep Shabbos, even then, we are commanded to observe the holy Shabbos.”
Rabbi Chaim continued. “Our Sages explain that the laws of Shabbos were taught when the Jews camped near the waters of Mara. Mara means bitter. From this we learn that even when life appears to be especially hard-bitter - and keeping Shabbos seems to be impossible, a Jew must have faith and must keep it despite the hardship. When he expends all the energy he needs to observe Shabbos, G-d will come to his aid, and he will surely succeed.”
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim
Parashas Naso 5769
I will be giving a class in Navi on Shabbos afternoon at Beis Haknesses HaGra 14561 Lincoln in Oak Park, an hour before Mincha
Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.
For sponsorships please call
To subscribe weekly by email
Please send email to
View Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim
and other Divrei Torah on