Thursday, January 28, 2010

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Beshalach 5770

שבת טעם החיים בשלח תש"ע
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Beshalach 5770

Manna and Preparing for Shabbos

ויהי ביום הששי לקטו לחם משנה שני העמר לאחד ויבאו כל נשיאי העדה ויגידו למשה, it happened on the sixth day that they gathered a double portion of food, two omers for each; and all the princes of the assembly came and told Moshe. (Shemos 16:22)
In this week’s parasha the Torah spends an inordinate amount of time discussing the manna, the food that fell from heaven for the Jewish People in the Wilderness. The manna fell from heaven every day without fail for forty years straight, and it was the manna that physically sustained the Jewish People for their entire sojourn in the Wilderness. The Sages elaborated on the virtues of the manna. The manna was essentially a spiritual entity. It is said (Tehillim 78:25) lechem abirim achal ish, humans ate the bread of angels, and the Gemara (Yoma 75b) states that this refers to the manna that the Jewish People ate in the Wilderness. Thus, the manna was more than a source of physical nourishment. What we need to understand is what was the spiritual aspect contained in the manna.
Manna means portion and faith
Rashi writes that the word manna means portion. Other commentators note that the word manna is associated with the word emunah, which means trust or faith. The connection between portion and faith in a simple sense is that the Jewish People had faith in HaShem that every day he would provide for them their required amount of nourishment. Yet, when we explore the history of the manna, we will discover that the manna was not merely a onetime event. .
Shabbos is blessed and sanctified with the manna
It is said (Bereishis 2:3) vayivarech Elokim es yom hashevii vayikadeish oso, HaShem blessed the seventh day and sanctified it. The Medrash (Bereishis Rabbah 11:2) states that HaShem blessed the seventh day by providing a double portion of manna on Friday, and HaShem sanctified the seventh day by not allowing manna to fall on Shabbos. This is truly an amazing idea. Already in the beginning of the world the manna was set to play a pivotal role in the lives of the Jewish People. Why was it critical to have the manna incorporated in Shabbos? Furthermore, how does the manna connect to Shabbos?

The manna required some sort of preparation

In addition to the definitions of manna mentioned previously, there is also another meaning to the word. The Commentators (see Sfas Emes 5637) write that the word Manna is associated with the word vayiman (Yona 2:1) which means prepared. Regarding the manna it is said (Shemos 16:22) vayehi bayom hashishi laktu lechem mishneh shinei haomer laechod vayavou kol nisiei haeidah vayagidu liMoshe vayomer aleihem hu asher diber HaShem Shabbason Shabbas kodesh laHaShem machar eis asher tofu eifu vieis asher tivashilu basheiulu vieis kol haodeif hanichu lachem limishmeres ad haboker, it happened on the sixth day that they gathered a double portion of food, two omers for each; and all the princes of the assembly came and told Moshe. He said to them, “This is what HaShem had spoken; tomorrow is a rest day, a holy Shabbos to HaShem. Bake what you wish to bake and cook what you wish to cook; and whatever is left over, put a way for yourselves as a safekeeping until the morning. Thus, we see that an important component of the manna was that the Jewish People prepared it in some fashion.

On Shabbos the Jewish People received the manna directly from HaShem with no deviation

While there is a debate amongst the commentators if the Jewish people actually prepared the manna or if it merely tasted like their imagined preparation, it is clear that the manna had to be prepared in some form. In fact, we can suggest that similar to the manna itself, which was composed of a physical and spiritual aspect, the preparation for the manna was also performed on both the mental and the physical levels. With this premise we can better understand why the manna was incorporated into the concept of Shabbos and its direct connection to Shabbos. The Sfas Emes writes that HaShem is constantly bestowing of His bounty on the entire world. However, the deficiency of the recipients causes that the bounty will deviate at the time of receipt. It is for this reason, writes the Sfas Emes, that HaShem instructed the Jewish People to prepare the manna, as this preparation symbolized that on Shabbos they would receive from HaShem’s bounty without any deviation. During the weekday there is concealment that prevents a direct bestowment, whereas on Shabbos there are no barriers and we received directly from HaShem. Thus, we see that the manna itself, with all its holiness, was transformed with the arrival of Shabbos. It is therefore clear why HaShem blessed the Shabbos and sanctified it with the manna.

Manna is for all generations

We mentioned earlier that the manna was not a onetime event. The Torah states that HaShem instructed Moshe to preserve a full omer of the manna for safekeeping for future generations. The Sfas Emes writes that the Medrash states that one who studies Torah, HaShem Himself prepares for him a meal. On Shabbos HaShem reveals the great treasure that He has concealed in His storehouse. When a Jew delights in eating on Shabbos, he tastes in the food a semblance of the manna. The reason for this is because the omer of manna was preserved for future generations, so it is a given that there is still a remembrance of manna in the world. The Sfas Emes writes further that the Medrash states that the Torah was only given to those who ate the manna. Can it be, wonders the Sfas Emes, that only that generation merited eating the manna? Rather, we are forced to say that on the Holy Shabbos the Jewish People merit to eat from the manna. Based on the words of the Safes Ems we can understand how the manna was introduced in the beginning of time and will endure until the end of time.
The Shabbos connection
Shabbos is a referred to as a semblance of the World to Come. Rabbeinu Bachye (16:4) writes that just like the manna was spiritual food, so too in the future the righteous will eat from spiritual foods, such as the fish referred to as Leviasan and other foods. HaShem should allow us to merit tasting of the Shabbos food a taste of the World to Come, which will be a day that is entirely Shabbos, and a day of rest, for eternity.
Shabbos Stories
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky writes: Once a religious man came to the Brisker Rav, Rav Yitzchok Zev Soloveitchik, and asked him whether he should join a certain organization comprised of people whose views were antithetical to Torah philosophy. Well intentioned, the man felt that his association would perhaps sway the opinions of the antagonists and create harmony among the factions. He would be able to attend meetings and raise his voice in support of Torah outlook.
The Rav advised him not to get involved. The man unfortunately decided to ignore the advice. Within a few months, he was in a quagmire, because policies and actions of the theologically-skewed organization were being linked to him, and were creating animus toward him throughout the community.
For some reason he could not back out of his commitments to the organization. He was torn. How could he regain his reputation as a Torah observing Jew and ingratiate himself to his former community? He returned to the Brisker Rav and asked him once again for his advice.
The Rav told him the following story. There was a young man who aspired to become a wagon driver. He approached a seasoned wagoneer and began his training. After a few weeks, he was ready to be certified.
Before receiving an official certification the veteran decided to pose a few practical applications.
"Let's say," he asked his young charge, "that you decide to take a shortcut and deviate from the main highway. You cut through a forest on a very muddy trail. Your wheels become stuck in the mud and your two passengers become agitated. The horses are struggling to pull out of the mud. They can't seem to get out. What do you do?"
The young driver looked up in thought. "Well," he began, "first I would take some wooden planks and try to get them under the wheels. "Ah!" sighed the old timer, "you made a terrible mistake!" "Why?" retorted the neophyte driver, "I followed procedure in the precise manner! What did I do wrong?"
The old man sighed. "Your mistake was very simple. You don't take shortcuts into muddy forests!"
The activist understood the Brisker Rav's message. (
An apple and the IRS

A certain Chassid, we'll call him Yitzchok, one day received a threatening letter from Israel's equivalent of the I.R.S. concerning an alleged unpaid income tax bill amounting in 10's of thousands of shekels. Understandably, Yitzchok was alarmed. Yitzchok is very meticulous with his accounting and he was therefore dumbfounded upon receiving the delinquent notice. Worse yet, due to delays in the mail, he received the notice and threat of lien, mere weeks before the due date. Even worse than that is the notorious nature of Israel's bureaucracy. Yitzchok needed a miracle to resolve the mix-up before the lien on his assets would take effect. All of this would probably require Yitzchok to retain the services of a pricey accountant or attorney.

Yitzchok took his concerns to his Rebbe, the Gerrer Rebbe Shlita. The Rebbe told Yitzchok not to worry; everything would turn out "ok" and he gave Yitzchok a blessing for a successful resolution of his thorny predicament. The Rebbe told Yitzchok to seek out a certain Chassid named Moshe Spiro. Moshe, the Rebbe said, would be able to help Yitzchok resolve the matter. Yitzchok asked the Rebbe how exactly Moshe Spiro how would help him... did Moshe have connections in the government? The Rebbe did not answer Yitzchok, he just reiterated to Yitzchok his advice to seek out Moshe Spiro. Nu? What does a good Chassid do? He listens to his Rebbe. Even though Yitzchok had no idea how Moshe Spiro would help him, he nevertheless sought out Reb Moshe with hope and prayer that Reb Moshe would be the right person to help.

When Yitzchok arrived at Moshe Spiro's house, Reb Moshe was just on his way out to drive to Tel Aviv to be "menachem ovel" - console a mourner during the "Shiva." Reb Moshe invited Yitzchok to join him for the ride, so that they would be able to discuss the pressing issue in the car. Reb Moshe also failed to understand why the Gerrer Rebbe would send Yitzchok to him. Nevertheless, Reb Moshe like Yitzchok had emunas Tzadikim - belief in the spiritual influence of righteous people, so, Reb Moshe knew that eventually he would understand the Rebbe's intentions and he therefore pledged to help Yitzchok in whatever way possible. When the two arrived in Tel Aviv, Moshe invited Yitzchok to join him to console the mourner. Yitzchok demurred due to the fact that he did not know the mourner. Moshe, however, convinced Yitzchok to join him to perform the great mitzvah of comforting a mourner.

Yitzchok entered the room with Moshe, and the mourner looked up to see the impressive view of two Gerrer Chassidim joining a crowd of largely secular and modern Israelis. Seeing the Gerrer Chassidim, the mourner began to discuss his parents' and his own relationship with Gerrer Chassidus.
Several years earlier, the mourner had a young daughter who unfortunately had became very ill, very suddenly. The man sought out the best available doctors who got to work right away to try to determine what was wrong with the girl. The situation was so serious, that the girl was placed on an

The girl's father wasted no time in dispatching a messenger to the Gerrer Rebbe at the time, the "Lev Simcha." The Rebbe listened intently and blessed the girl that she should have a full and speedy recovery. In addition, the Rebbe gave the messenger an apple and instructed that a piece be given to
the girl. The messenger returned to the hospital room of the girl where her parents waited on-edge and prayed for the recovery of their daughter. The father of the girl was surprised to receive an apple from the Rebbe. How would he feed it to his daughter who was on an I.V. and unconscious?

Nevertheless, the man had belief that his Rebbe would somehow be able to intercede on his behalf in Heaven on behalf of the girl. As the Sages tell us, "A Tzaddik (righteous person) decrees, and HaShem carries out the decree." (Medrash Tanchumah Vayerah 19)

The man went home and baked the apple well until it was very soft. And then, he took some back to his daughter's hospital room. Somehow, he managed to feed a little bit to his ailing daughter. Miracle upon miracles... the girl started to recover! In a short time, the girl had a full recovery. (Lest one think that it was the actual apple which caused the girl to get better, it is much deeper than that. The apple was symbolic of the Rebbe's concern for the girl. Another way of understanding this is that the Rebbe prayed very intensely for the girl's health and out of
humility, he wanted to "hide" the power of his prayer, so he gave the apple, which apparently brought about the recovery."

The mourner concluded his story and the assembled people gasped at the amazing nature of the recovery of the girl, who only recently was married, Boruch HaShem. What is more interesting about the story is the following: Yitzchok, the man with the tax problems spoke up and told the mourner that he was the bachur who had brought the apple to the mourner some 20 years earlier!

What's even more amazing is that the mourner worked in a government office. And in what government office did he work? The Tax Authority office. In short, after the Shivah ended, the mourner took care of Yitzchok's problems in short order.
The divine assistance and intervention involved with this story was amazing. Yitzchok had the tax problem. He went to the Gerrer Rebbe, the Gerrer Rebbe sent Yitzchok to Moshe Spiro, who has nothing to do with the Israeli Tax Authority. When Yitzchok arrived at Moshe Spiro's house, Moshe was on his way to console a mourner in Tel Aviv. Yitzchok accepted Moshe's invitation to join him in a ride to Tel Aviv. Moshe convinced Yitzchok to go into the apartment to join him in consoling the mourner. Yitzchok had not wanted to go in, because he did not know the mourner, or so he thought. The mourner saw the two Gerrer Chassidim and decided to tell the story of his sick daughter and the Gerrer Rebbe from many years earlier. The messenger with the apple was Yitzchok! The mourner asked Yitzchok why he came to console him. Yitzchok would normally not have initiated a discussion regarding such mundane things as the tax issue in the presence of a mourner. And then, as it turns out, the mourner worked in the Tax office! (from the Internet)
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Beshalach 5770
I will be giving a class in Navi on Shabbos afternoon at Bais Haknesses HaGra 14561 Lincoln in Oak Park, half 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, January 21, 2010

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Bo 5770

שבת טעם החיים בא תש"ע
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Bo 5770

The Great Redemption and Renewal

החדש הזה לכם ראש חדשים ראשון הוא לכם לחדשי השנה, this month shall be for you the beginning of the months, it shall be for you the first of the months of the year. (Shemos 12:2)
This week’s parasha is famous for the recording of the redemption of the Jewish People from Egypt. What passes under the radar is the mention of the first mitzvah that was given to the Jewish People as a whole, the mitzvah of Kiddush HaChodesh, sanctifying the New Moon. This mitzvah does not necessarily garner much attention for the casual reader of this week’s parasha. Nonetheless, this mitzvah features prominently in the first Rashi of Bereishis. Rashi raises the question of why the Torah commences with the story of creation and does not instead begin with the first mitzvah, which is the mitzvah of Kiddush HaChodesh. The premise for this question is that the Torah is not a history book. Rather, the word Torah means teaching or instruction, and given that function, the Torah should immediately set that tone with the teaching of the mitzvos. Let us understand what is so unique about this mitzvah that it would have been justified to begin the Holy Torah with this commandment.
The uniqueness of the New Moon
Sanctifying the New Moon is a practice that is no longer performed, as we now have a set calendar to inform us of when the Jewish festivals occur. Yet, we know from the Chanukah story that one of the three mitzvos that the Greeks sought to eradicate was Rosh Chodesh, the sanctification. It would appear that the sanctification of the New Moon plays a significant role in the lives of the Jewish People. What is the uniqueness of this mitzvah and the deeper concept that is contained within this mitzvah?
Torah study in contingent on renewal
The Gemara (Shabbos 147b) records a peculiar story with the Tanna, Rabbi Elazar ben Arach. R' Elazar ben Arach came to that region (where there was exotic wine and and delightful baths), he became attracted to their worldly delights and he forgot his Torah knowledge. When Rabbi Elazar returned he got up to read from the Torah scroll and he wanted to read ‘hachodesh hazeh lachem - this month shall be for you.’ Instead, he said ‘hacheresh haya libam - was their heart silent?’ (in the word hachodesh he substituted a resh for the daled, and in the word hazeh he substituted a yud for the zayin and in the word lachem he substituted a hey for the chaf). The sages beseeched HaShem to have mercy upon him and his Torah knowledge returned. While this Gemara requires a dissertation of its own, it is noteworthy that Rabbi Elazar ben Arach erred in the reading of the words hachodesh hazeh lachem, this month shall be for you. The Bais Yisroel writes in the name of the Imrei Emes that although the Jewish people studied Torah while in Egypt, HaShem told Moshe that the Jewish People would receive the Torah anew at Sinai. The Bais Yisroel suggests that this may be the interpretation of the incident with Rabbi Elazar ben Arach. Although Rabbi Elazar was known as a mayan hamisgabeir, an overflowing fountain, he forgot his Torah knowledge because Torah requires constant renewal.

Renewal in Torah study is like the renewal of creation

We can now better understand why the Torah should have commenced with this mitzvah. The entire Torah is based specifically on this idea of renewal. Regarding Torah it is said (Yirmiah 33:25) koh amar HaShem im lo brisi yomam valaylah chukos shamayim vaaretz lo samti, thus said HaShem: If My covenant with the night and with the day would not be; had I not set up the laws of heaven and earth. The Gemara (Pesachim 68b) understands that this verse means that if not for the Jewish People engaging in Torah study, the world would not have reason to be in existence. Thus, just like the world is constantly being recreated, so too our commitment to Torah must be constantly renewed. Furthermore, the merit that the Jewish People had to be redeemed from Egypt was based on the fact that they would accept the Torah at Sinai with a freshness and a renewal. Torah study, unlike all other academic pursuits, is not stagnant. Rather, one must constantly immerse himself in the wellsprings of Torah, as this task of renewal predicates our very existence and the existence of the entire world.
The Shabbos connection
In a similar vein, Shabbos is a time when we renew our commitment to HaShem and His Torah. The Gemara (Shabbos 86b) states that all opinions concur with the fact that the torah was given on Shabbos. This statement reflects the idea that Shabbos is a time of renewal and that renewal is best reflected through Torah study. HaShem should allow us to observe His Holy Shabbos and engage in renewed Torah study.
Shabbos Stories
Rav Shlomo Zalman Stays Around To See The Presents
The Rav of Ramat Chen, Rav Y. Auerbach, the nephew of Reb Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt”l was orphaned from his mother and father, and Rav Shlomo Zalman took care of all his needs. When he married, Rav Shlomo Zalman took the place of his father at the wedding. The wedding took place in Tel Aviv, and the chassan and kallah were planning on living in Tel Aviv after the wedding.
After the wedding, Rav Shlomo Zalman informed the family that he wished to spend the night in Tel Aviv. All the relatives were shocked since they were sure that Rav Shlomo Zalman would return directly to his house in Yerushalayim after the wedding. Whoever was familiar with Reb Shlomo Zalman's tight schedule of learning and davening, knew that it was very rare that he spent a night away from his home, if at all.
For many years, Rav Shlomo Zalman's nephew was unaware of the reason his uncle decided to stay the night in Tel Aviv. He eventually discovered the reason when he merited to also tend to the needs of an orphan, including accompanying him to the chupah. Rav Shlomo Zalman called him before the wedding and said, "I hope that you do for the orphaned chassan what I did for you." His nephew didn't understand what Rav Shlomo Zalman was referring to, until he reminded him about the night after his wedding when he stayed the night in Tel Aviv.
Rav Shlomo Zalman explained, "Every chassan and kallah receives many gifts on the day of their wedding. One of the happiest moments after the chasunah is when the young couple opens their presents, and afterwards they show them off to their parents. You had no parents, and I knew you wouldn't be able to enjoy these happy moments. Therefore, despite the difficulties it involved for me, I stayed in Tel Aviv the night after the wedding so that you could show me your presents the next day." (Aleinu Lishabeiach)
The Sfas Emes Refuses To Be Sent Out
The Sfas Emes rarely took any trips as he was a great masmid and preferred to stay put and learn. Any small trip he took was a great occasion to his Chasidim. One time he traveled to nearby Warsaw which was not far from his hometown Gur. When he arrived, a large gathering was waiting for him and his host prepared a lavish Kiddush for the occasion.
The Sfas Emes said that he does not want to attend such a reception. The host argued that Chazal tell us "Kol SheOmer Licha Baal HaBayis Aseh Chutz MiTzei", whatever the host instructs you to do you must do except if he asks you to leave. Therefore, said the host, the Rebbe is halachicly bound to attend.

The Sfas Emes replied that the word "Tzei" has another connotation beyond leaving the immediate premises. The Misha in Pirkei Avos (4:28) says that three things take a person out of the world, Kinah, Taava, Kavod. Since honor will take a person out of the world and anything that will cause a person to "go out" he need not listen to the Baal HaBayis, therefore the Sfas Emes need not listen to the host and indulge in this honor. (Chaim SheYesh Bahem - Aish Tamid)
Rav Chaim Soloveitchik's Brisker Door
Rav Chaim Brisker was an incredible Baal Chesed. His home was totally hefker to all those who wanted to enter. People ate his food, took away his sefarim, and even slept in his bed leaving him nowhere to sleep some nights. His concern for other was so great that it didn't dawn on anyone that they were inconveniencing him, and they probably weren't. His house was the local hangout for anyone who had nowhere to go.

Someone once asked why he had a door on his house if it performed no function whatsoever. The answer was obvious. According to one Deia, in order to put a Mezuzah in a doorway it needs a to have a door on it. The door is there just to make sure that the Mezuzah is 100% Lichatchila. Why else would someone have a door?
Rav Mendele MiRimanov Saves The Shul
A contingent of government officials came to Rimanov to search the city for a suitable storage warehouse for the army's food and supplies. After combing the city, the only place they came up with was the local Shul. When the heads of the Kehila heard, they ran to Rav Mendele of Rimanov to ask him what to do.
One person jumped up and said that as soon as the officials find out that the roof leaks and all their supplies will be ruined, they will not use our Shul as a storehouse. Everyone agreed and seemed satisfied with the plan. However Rav Mendele, with his great Yiras Shamayim, heard this and said that they are sorely mistaken. In fact it is because of the leaky roof that this Gezeira befell them. If we don't take care of our Shul and are Mizalzel in its honor allowing the roof to leak, what do you expect of the non-Jews? Go fix the roof right away and everything will be okay.
They did as they were commanded and never heard from the officials again. (
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Bo 5770
I will be giving a class in Navi on Shabbos afternoon at Bais Haknesses HaGra 14561 Lincoln in Oak Park, half 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

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Vaeira 5770

שבת טעם החיים וארא תש"ע
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Vaeira 5770

Ten plagues and Ten Utterances

ולא ישמע אליכם פרעה ונתתי את ידי במצרים והוצאתי את צבאותי את עמי בני ישראל מארץ מצרים בשפטים גדולים, Pharaoh will not heed you, and I shall put My hand upon Egypt; and I shall take out My legions – My people the Children of Israel – from the land of Egypt, with great judgments. (Shemos 7:4)
Ten Makkos, Makkos Ten, the Mitzriim were punished, again and again! We are all familiar with this children’s song depicting the ten plagues that HaShem used to punish the Egyptians. Yet, have we taken the time to contemplate the number ten? Why did the Egyptians need to be afflicted with ten plagues? Would it have not been sufficient to be stricken by one big plague that would have brought Pharaoh and the Egyptians to their knees?
The world was created with Ten Utterances
We find a similar question with regard to the creation of the world. The Mishnah in Avos (5:1) raises the question in the following manner. The world was created with ten utterances. Would it have not been sufficient to create the world with one utterance? Rather, this teaches us that HaShem created the world with ten utterances to punish the wicked that destroy the world that was created with ten utterances and to reward the righteous who sustain the world that was created with ten utterances. This teaching, however, appears to be extremely puzzling. What is the difference whether the world was created with one utterance or ten utterances?
The essential function of this world is speech
Let us understand what it means to create with an utterance. While it is beyond human comprehension to fathom the idea that HaShem speaks, we can at least relate to it in the context of human beings. It is said (Bereishis 2:7) vayitzer HaShem Elokim es haadam afar min haadamah vayipach biapav neshama chaim vayehi haadama linefesh chaya, and HaShem G-d formed the man of dust from the ground, and He blew into his nostrils the soul of life; and man became a living being. The Targum renders the words linefesh chaya, a living being, to mean liruach memalela, a talking spirit. Thus, HaShem designed man that his essential function should be to speak. Similarly, so to speak, HaShem brought the world into existence through speech. Thus, it would appear that the essential function of the world is through speech. How can we understand the idea that the essential function of the world is through speech?
Speech is to reveal that which is concealed
The Sfas Emes writes in many instances that the word dibbur is derived from the word dabar, which means a leader. More specifically, the idea of dibbur, speech, is a hanhagah, the way something is conducted. The Sfas Emes writes that it is clear to him that the wicked that destroys the world that was created with ten utterances refers to Pharaoh, and the righteous who earn a good reward for sustaining the world that was created with ten utterances refers to the Torah, which is good for the Jewish People. It is noteworthy that the word that the Mishnah uses for punishment is lihiparah, and when the letters are rearranged, it spells the word liPharaoh. It is even more noteworthy that the word para and Pharaoh mean to reveal. Thus, the Mishnah is teaching us that the essential function in this world is to reveal. What is it that we need to reveal?
Pesach is to reveal the power of speech
In a simple sense, we need to reveal HaShem’s Presence in the world, as this is the ultimate purpose of creation. On a deeper level, however, the revelation that was manifest in Egypt was a revelation of the power of speech. Pesach is the festival that we celebrate upon HaShem redeeming us from the Egyptian slavery. The Arizal writes that the word pesach is an acrostic for the words peh sach, the mouth speaks. The Zohar states that in Egypt, the dibbur, the power of speech, was in exile. Thus, upon redemption, the power of speech was revealed. The significance of this idea is that while initially the Jewish People were idolatrous and undeserving of redemption, they were able to effect a transformation where the righteous sustain the world that was created with ten utterances.
Pharaoh resisted revelation whereas the Jewish People allowed HaShem’s glory to be revealed in the world
We can now understand the idea that the Egyptians were afflicted with ten plagues. The Egyptians essentially destroyed the world that was created with ten utterances, as they refused to allow HaShem’s glory to be revealed (hence the name Pharaoh, which in this context means to disallow revelation, based on the idea that a word can mean one concept and its opposite definition). The Jewish People, however, went through the crucible of slavery and ultimately allowed for HaShem’s glory to be revealed in the world. Thus, the Jewish People were responsible for sustaining the world that HaShem created with ten utterances.
The Shabbos connection
Throughout the week we exist in a form of exile, where HaShem’s glory is concealed and the power of speech is obscured. With the onset of Shabbos, however, we recite the words hisoreri hisoreri ki va oreich kumi ori uri uri shir dabeiri kevod HaShem alayich niglah, Wake up! Wake up! For your light has come, rise up and shine; Awaken, awaken, utter a song, The glory of HaShem is revealed on you. Thus, on Shabbos we allow the glory of HaShem to be revealed, and this manifests itself through our uttering praises and thanks to HaShem, our Father, our King. HaShem should allow us to merit witnessing His revelation when He sends us His anointed one, Moshiach ben Dovid Tzidkeinu, speedily, in our days.
Shabbos Stories
Taste requires thought
Rabbi Yissachar Frand writes: Rav Simon Schwab (1908-1995) related how he once spent Shabbos Parashas Beshalach in the home of the Chafetz Chaim (1838-1933). They were discussing the Manna. The Medrash relates that the Manna would taste like whatever a person would desire. If you thought fried chicken, it would taste like fried chicken; if you thought macaroni, it would taste like macaroni, etc. So they asked the Chafetz Chaim - what if someone ate the Manna without thinking about anything - then what would it taste like? The Chafetz Chaim responded, if you did not think - then it had no taste! [oib mer tracht nisht; es haat ken taam nisht.]
Listen to your messages
Rabbi Frand writes further:
A woman recently wrote a nice letter to me in response to my book ("Listen to Your Messages"; Mesorah 1999):
"This year, the week after Sukkos, I was in Newark airport to see our son and his family off to Eretz Yisrael where they live. We have a daughter that was in need of a shidduch. Standing ahead of our son, waiting for security clearance stood a young man with his father. A few people had proposed this young man as a possible match for our daughter. Somehow, however, it was always felt that it was not a good match and promptly disregarded. For some reason the security setup at the El Al counter in Newark Airport that day was different than I had ever seen it there, either before or after. I was standing in position to observe this young man and since security was exceptionally slow, I observed him for quite some time. I began to think of your book and its title and maybe this was a message to listen to. The rest is history. We called one of the shadchanim who gave us the details. Everything sounded wonderful. It did not take long for the shidduch to take off, for the couple to get engaged, and for the wedding to take place." (
Lost in Torah
There was a closed-door meeting between the Gedolei Yisroel, headed by the gadol hador, Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzensky zt”l. Shock and confusion permeated in the room when all of a sudden the door burst open. A young man marched right up to Rav Chaim Ozer, grabbed on to his clothing - holding on as if for his dear life. He exchanged a few shouts with Rav Chaim Ozer. The rabbonim present got up to stop this apparently brazen young man shouting at Rav Chaim Ozer, but he motioned to them to leave him alone. When this young man was satisfied with Rav Chaim Ozer’s answer, he marched right out as if nothing out of the ordinary took place.
When Rav Chaim Ozer saw the hurt and shock written all over the rabbonim’s faces, he explained that this young man is such a pure soul immersed in Torah to such an extent that it’s his blood life and oxygen and he has absolutely no idea what’s going on around him. When he comes across a difficulty and can’t understand what the Gemara is saying, he chokes up as if trying to catch his breath. Hence, this young man doesn’t have the slightest idea that there is a meeting taking place now in this room. Nor does he know for that matter that there’s a whole room filled with the most distinguished rabbonim in session. “When I finally answered his question to his satisfaction,” said Rav Chaim Ozer, "it was as if he caught his breath and he was able to function again.”
When the Stoliner Rebbe, who was present at the meeting, heard that, he told Rav Chaim Ozer, “A talmid chacham who has such a burning desire for the devar HaShem, I want him as Rosh Yeshiva of my yeshiva.” Thus, the first official position of the gadol who was later to become the gadol hador, Rav Elazar Menachem Shach zt”l, was as rosh yeshiva of Karlin Stolin.
(Thank you to Rav Mordechai S. Bald, rov of Livov-Lemberg, Ukraine who submitted this story) ( Newscenter)
Dubna Maggid: A House On The River
In a small town, there lived an informer. He would receive money from the local ruler to report to him daily about all the things the locals were hiding from him. This man was hated among the community but the rewards he reaped made it worth his while. The local townspeople did everything in their power to isolate the pariah and make life as difficult as possible for him.
One day he had enough and he told the local ruler that he would leave town for a neighboring town where the people don't know him and he could live in peace. The ruler was very sad to lose his valuable asset yet thanked him for his years of loyal service. He even wrote a letter to the ruler of the neighboring town singing his praises and advising him to take full advantage of his wonderful service.
At the same time the townspeople were thrilled to finally rid themselves of this cancer in their midst and they too sent letters to their friends and family in the new town warning them about this evil and greedy informer.

When he arrived in the new town in the dead of winter with snow piled up all over the streets, he wanted to buy a house, but as soon as he knocked on a door the door was slammed in his face. With no choice he went to local ruler who gave him a warm welcome. When he told him his plight the local ruler told him that he cannot force anyone to sell him a home but any land he could find would be his to keep.
After searching all over town, he came up with nothing. However just as he was about to give up, on the edge of town he saw a large beautiful property which he claimed as his own. He called in the finest builders and contractors to build him a beautiful mansion.
He stood there each day supervising the work and watching his mansion quickly rising from the ground. Strangely, whenever one of the town’s people passed the site they would smile at him. He couldn't understand why since they all hated him. Whenever he asked them they wouldn't answer and just kept on smiling.
Finally the mansion was complete and it was magnificent. Now the people will stop laughing he thought. However they didn't and when the next person walked by he grabbed in and took him into his house threatening not to let him go until he told him what the big joke was. Without any choice the man told him, "You built your house on the frozen lake. In a few weeks when in get warmer, the ice will crack and your beautiful home will fall to the bottom of the river."
This is a Mashal from the Dubna Maggid. The moral of the story is that you can build magnificent structures with your Torah and Mitzvos. But if you build it on frozen ice it won't last very long. The ice will thaw and down will go all your efforts and all your work. You must build only on the solid ground of Emuna, Middos, and LiShem Shamayim. If you build it on ego, reward, and honor don't expect it to withstand the heat. ( )
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Vaeira 5770
I will be giving a class in Navi on Shabbos afternoon at Bais Haknesses HaGra 14561 Lincoln in Oak Park, half an hour before Mincha.
Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos.
Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.
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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Shemos 5770

שבת טעם החיים שמות תש"ע
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Shemos 5770

Have compassion now for future generations

ויפן כה וכה וירא כי אין איש ויך את המצרי ויטמנהו בחול, he turned this way and that and saw that there was no man, so he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand(Shemos 2:12).
The Torah records how Moshe went out to his brothers and witnessed an Egyptian hitting one of his fellow Jews. Moshe looked both ways and then struck the Egyptian, killing him. The Midrash states that when Moshe witnessed the Egyptian striking the Jew, he looked into the future to see if there would be any descendants who would be able to justify keeping the Egyptian alive. After Moshe came to the realization that the Egyptian would bear no such descendants, Moshe killed him.
Why did Moshe need to think twice about killing the Egyptian?
The Egyptian was guilty of engaging in an affair with the Jew’s wife, sinning with idolatry, and committing murder and persecution. Why was it necessary for Moshe to pause and contemplate whether the Egyptian deserved to be put to death? Could there be no better indictment than the Egyptian’s own actions? Why would Moshe have needed to consider the Egyptian’s descendants? Wasn’t his indiscretion egregious in its own right to deserve this punishment?
Rabbi Shmuel Birinbaum saves a boy’s future
Rabbi Yaakov Bender, Dean of Yeshiva Darchei Torah, was once addressing parents regarding the dangers of the internet. With the intention of imparting to parents that their children’s spirituality was at stake, Rabbi Bender related the following incident involving the late dean of the Mir Yeshiva, Rabbi Shmuel Birinbaum of blessed memory.
One of the students at the Mir became addicted to gambling. A group of older students were concerned about the boy’s potentially negative influence on them and believed that it would be prudent to ask Rabbi Birinbaum to expel that student. “I will never forget Rabbi Birnbaum’s response. After hearing us out, he had one question: ‘Did you fast for forty days? ‘Prior to making such a critical decision, you must realize that if we expel this boy, we may be the catalyst for his complete abandonment of Judaism. One who could fathom making such an essential decision would surely fast for forty days!’”
Subsequent to this discussion, Rabbi Birinbaum relayed that his personal intervention was necessary. Rather than expelling the student, Rabbi Birinbaum took him on as a personal study partner. The warmth that the rabbi demonstrated had a profound impact on him. With time, a complete transformation took place. That student eventually became an accomplished Torah scholar and a teacher of note.

Fast for forty days and pray for his successes
“The story doesn’t end here,” continued Rabbi Bender. “I related this incident while eulogizing Rabbi Birinbaum at his funeral. Months after the funeral, a woman with a son in our yeshiva, who had been having a very rough time, received a call from the principal to inform her of her son’s considerable improvement. The mother proudly explained what she thought was the cause of the dramatic turn-around.
“‘After hearing the incident with Rabbi Birinbaum and the troubled boy,’” the mother said, “‘I realized that one should never despair. I took it upon myself to fast for forty days and prayed for his success. It certainly was not simple, and I had to refrain from eating at luncheons and on a long airplane flight. Nevertheless, I saw it through and feel that HaShem has answered my prayers.’”
This incident might shed light on why the Midrash finds it necessary to inform us that Moshe looked into the future to see if the Egyptian would have any worthy descendants. While it is easy to jump to condemn someone for his wrongdoing, we must always contemplate the potential future of that person. Though his actions may not warrant special consideration right now, his future can be most promising.
The Shabbos connection
Throughout the week we are focused on earning a livelihood and raising families. Shabbos is a time when we can step back and observe other people’s needs. Shabbos is referred to as a semblance of the World to Come, thus Shabbos reflects the future of our people. HaShem should allow us to focus on helping others and then we will ultimately help ourselves, when we witness the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily, in our days.

Shabbos Stories
Anything to avoid shaming someone
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky writes: My 2nd grade rebbe, Rabbi Chaim Follman, asked his Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetzky, to officiate at the wedding of his daughter. Reb Yaakov checked his appointment calendar and shook his head slowly. "Unfortunately I have a prior commitment and cannot fulfill your request." He wished Reb Chaim and his daughter a heartfelt Mazel tov, showered them with blessings, and added that if his schedule would open he would gladly join them at the wedding.
On the day of the wedding, Rav Yaakov was informed that his original appointment was canceled. Immediately, he made plans to attend the wedding. Assuming he would come after the ceremony, he arrived at the hall long after the time that the invitation had announced that the ceremony would commence.
Upon entering the wedding hall, Rav Yaakov realized that for one reason or another, the chupah (marriage ceremony) had not yet begun. Quickly, Rav Yaakov went downstairs and waited, almost in hiding, near the coat room for nearly 40 minutes until after the ceremony was completed. A few students who noticed the Rosh Yeshiva huddled in a corner reciting Tehillim (Psalms) could not imagine why he was not upstairs and participating in the chupah. They, however, did not approach him until after the ceremony.
Reb Yaakov explained his actions. "Surely Reb Chaim had made arrangements for a different misader kedushin (officiating rabbi). Had he known that I was in the wedding hall he would be in a terrible bind --after all, I was his first choice and I am much older than his second choice. Reb Chaim would be put in the terribly uncomfortable position of asking someone to defer his honor for me. Then Reb Chaim would have to placate that rabbi with a different honor, thus displacing someone else. I felt the best thing to do was stay in a corner until the entire ceremony had ended -- sparing everybody from the embarrassment of even the slightest demotion."
Planning for the future
In the early 1920's, Silas Hardoon, a Sephardic Jewish millionaire, made his fortune living in China. Childless, he began to give his money away to Chinese charities. One night his father appeared in a dream and implored him to do something for his own people. Silas shrugged it off. After all, there were hardly any of his people in China. But the dreams persisted, and Silas decided to act. The next day he spoke to Chacham Ibraham, a Sephardic Rabbi who led the tiny Chinese Jewish community. The Chacham's advice sounded stranger than the dreams. He told Silas to build a beautiful synagogue in the center of Shanghai. It should contain more than 400 seats, a kitchen, and a dining room. Mr. Hardoon followed the charge to the letter. He named the shul "Bais Aharon" in memory of his father. A few years later Mr. Hardoon died leaving barely a minyan to enjoy a magnificent edifice, leaving a community to question the necessity of the tremendous undertaking.
In 1940, Japanese counsel to Lithuania Sempo Sugihara issued thousands of visas for Kovno Jews to take refuge in Curaçao via Japan. Included in that group was the Mirrer Yeshiva. They arrived in Kobe but were transported to Shanghai where they remained for the entire war. The Mirrer Yeshiva had a perfect home with a kitchen, study hall and dining room -- Bais Aharon! The building had exactly enough seats to house all the students for five solid years of Torah study during the ravages of World War II. The dream of decades earlier combined with action, became a thriving reality.
What can I do?
The holy Chafetz Chaim zt”l (R’ Yisrael Meir Kagan, 1838-1933) used to tell the following story: The famous Maggid of Dubna zt”l (R’ Yaakov Wolf Krantz, 1740-1804) was once strolling in the streets of Dubna when he saw something that caught his attention, stopping him in his tracks. Ahead of him, a blind man was being lead through the city thoroughfare by his young son. From their dress, it was obvious they were poor.
Some people might have passed the pair by without giving them much of a thought. One with a more sensitive heart might stop for a moment, reflecting sadly on the hard life this man and his son must lead. Someone else might take the opportunity to silently thank HaShem for the blessings of good health, before continuing on. “Tomorrow,” he would promise himself, “I will say ‘Blessed are You, HaShem…Who gives sight to the blind,’ with extra concentration!”
The Maggid had a sensitive heart, and knew how to count his blessings, but above all he had compassion. Despite realizing he was unable to solve all the world’s woes, he felt compelled to do something to help this unfortunate pair.
“Shalom aleichem, peace to you, my brothers! How are things?”
The blind man, resentful of his bitter lot, did not return the greetings, nor answer the Maggid’s query. The son looked up at the distinguished rabbi with eyes full of pain and suffering. “This is my father,” he said quietly. “My mother is dead. We live at the far end of town. Our house is run down, and very cold. We cannot afford wood to light the oven.”
Hearing his son’s words, the blind man chimed in: “Shloimie, who are you talking with? Come, let’s go—there’s no time to waste on such idle chatter.”
“My dear brother,” the Maggid said, “please, there’s no rush. Tell me, have you eaten?”
“I’m just now taking father to the soup kitchen. We will receive a hot meal, and then we will go back home. That’s why my father’s in a rush—he doesn’t want to miss our one hot meal.”
“Then please, come to my house. I promise to serve you a fine meal—even better than the soup kitchen!” With his offer, the young lad’s sad eyes lit up with the slightest spark of joy. For a moment, the Maggid saw through the sadness. Beneath those mournful eyes, he realized, a radiant soul lay dormant.
At first, to his son’s disappointment, his father refused the offer. It was beggarly enough, it seems, to be served by the anonymous workers of the soup kitchen. But the Maggid would not take no for an answer, and eventually the father was convinced of his sincerity; he consented to come.
The Maggid brought them into his warm house, and prepared them a sumptuous meal. He did everything he could to make them as comfortable as could be. Slowly, the blind man’s icy demeanor began to thaw. “Not bad,” he said quietly after the meal, “it’s nice being here.”
The delicious meal and first-class service could not possibly have prepared him for the rabbi’s next words. “Perhaps you’d like to move in with me?” he asked matter-of-fact. “I’ve got a spacious, heated, guest room for you to sleep, and we eat three meals a day. Thank G-d, I can afford to share with others. This way your son can learn in cheder with other boys his age.” The mere thought of living in a normal, warm home, and being able to go to school with other children brought a gleam to the young boy’s eyes. His father wasn’t sure. But after some sincere words of encouragement from his host, he consented to move in, “…on a trial basis!”
Despite the upgrade in living conditions, the blind man remained lonely and self-pitying; at times his grumpiness was almost too much to bear. Yet the great Maggid did bear it all, with a smile. “Welcoming guests is even greater than receiving the presence of the Shechina (Shabbos 127a),” he would remind himself when things got particularly rough. Rabbi Krantz’s home was to be the man’s last; it was there, a few years later, that he breathed his final breath.
As time passed, the young boy’s true potential began to emerge. After quickly catching up to the other students, he overtook them. He was blessed with what some called a photographic memory, able to recall almost everything he had ever learned to near perfection. And his remarkable diligence became a matter of wonder among the townsfolk. He approached his studies with a sharp, penetrating mind-set; he was never satisfied until he understood a topic to its absolute depth. With time, he began to compile his own novellae, which were in turn discussed by the eminent Torah scholars of the city, much to the satisfaction of his step-father, the Maggid.
When the time came for him to marry, the Maggid arranged a suitable shidduch. With his help, the young man began building his own family and home, much to our eternal gratitude. You see, after a short while, he was asked to become the Chief Rabbi of the famed city of Brody. His name? R’ Shlomo Kluger zt”l, eminent halachic authority and prolific author.
Let us imagine, for a moment, that things had worked out differently. That the Maggid, in a rush to get somewhere—had sighed in silent sympathy with the unfortunate father-and-son, regretting there was nothing much he could do for them—and then continued on his way. They too would have continued on to the soup kitchen, just like they did every day. No one would ever have known—what we would have lost, what the boy would have lost—what the Maggid would have lost! A single moment of contemplation, of asking, “How can I make a difference?” changed all that for eternity. (

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Shemos 5770
I will be giving a class in Navi on Shabbos afternoon at Bais Haknesses HaGra 14561 Lincoln in Oak Park, half 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