Revach L'Neshama RSS feed for - Section: DAAS TORAH Category:RAV SHIMSHON Copyright 2007, Revach L'Neshama en-US Revach L'Neshama Logo 144 31 Tue, 07 Dec 2021 03:00:00 +0000 240 Parshas Titzaveh: Rav Shimshon Pincus - The Sweet Smell At The End Of The Avodah Parshas Titzaveh discusses the Bigdei Kehuna after Parshas Truma was all about the Mishkan and the Keilim.  However the Mizbei'ach in side the Heichal for the Kitores is written all the way at the end of Parshas Titzaveh.  Why?

Rav Shimshon Pincus explains that the main avodah in the Mishkan was the Mizbei'ach in the Chatzer.  On it we sacrifice Korbanos all day long.  This teaches us that life is about sacrifice.  Torah is acquired by burning ourselves on hot coals with Yegias HaTorah.  Inside the Mishkan we learn a lesson on the difficulty and restrictions on our food and parnasa from the Shulchan HaTahor.  The Menorah teaches us that to achieve the ultimate wisdom we need to bring the purest of oil that costs money.  Again more sacrifice.

Only after all the hard work and mesiras nefesh do we make a Mizbei'ach HaZahav, the golden alter.  On it we burn some incense that is not hard work but gives off an incredibly beautiful aroma.  The lesson we learn, says Rav Shimshon, is that to acquire Torah, the beginning of the road is paved with difficulty along every step of the way.  But after we arrive, it is nothing but sheer enjoyment.  It is like the avodah of the Kitores.  Only after we've gone through all the other Avodah do we get to the sweet smelling Kitores.  Then, inhale pleasure with every breath.

Fri, 26 Feb 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Yisro: Rav Shimshon Pincus - Only Hashem Can Pay Back Midda K'Neged Midda Rashi says that after Yisro saw Hashem Punish the Mitzrim Midda K'Neged Midda he then declared, "Ata Yadati Ki Gadol Hashem MiKol HaElokim", I now know that Hashem is greater than any other power.  What is it about Midda K'Neged Midda that makes Hashem so unique, is it the ingenuity?

Rav Shimshon Pincus explains that every Koach in the world only has its own power to use.  Fire can fight water with fire only, and not water.  Aside from the fact that this is its only capability, it also wants to show tis opponent what makes it unique.  It cannot use power that it doesn't have.

Hashem works the opposite way.  To show fire who is boss, Hashem uses fire to fight fire.  He use water to fight water.  This unique fighting strategy shows that Hashem is more powerful than any other force.  Moreover it shows that He is the only force, and the force behind all forces.  In a way this doesn't counter the above logic, it works with it.  Hashem fights each element with His unique force.  He is Echad Yachid U'Miyuchad and every possible force is His. And He shows it to everybody as needed.

Sun, 31 Jan 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Bishalach: Rav Shimshon Pincus - Fresh Bread Is Like A Moment Of Life The Bnei Yisroel received fresh Man every day.  Rav Shimshon Pincus makes the following observation.  Bread is only good fresh.  As bread gets older it becomes stale and loses its taste.  Yet a cookie retains its taste for a much longer time.  Why is this?

He answers that the main staple in a human diet it bread.  It is the food that sustains life.  As the bearer of life it is only valuable for the moment, just like Hashem gives us life one moment at a time and each new moment is a new Chiyus.

Fri, 29 Jan 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Shimshon Pincus - Don't Forget To Cash In Your Petek Our wonderful year full of parnassah, health, and nachas from the kids has been signed and sealed. Succos is over. What do we do now, sit back and wait for the money to start rolling in? That would be a colossal mistake, says Rav Shimshon Pincus. Your good year is given as a coupon. It is the famous "Petek" from Hoshana Rabba. You now need to go to one of the distribution centers to cash it in. Where are those centers? Is there a listing by city or country?It is your local Shul.

Just like all the trees and vegetation were created during the six days of creation yet they waited below ground and did not sprout until Adam davened to Hashem ,so to the abundance of Shefa waiting for us in Shamayim will not come down until we call up to Hashem and ask for it.

Every millions upon millions of dollars, good health and lots of nachas are left with the master treasurer in Heaven simply because the people with the winning numbers didn't bother to pick it up. This year make sure that you are not one of them.

Fri, 09 Oct 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas VaYeilech: Rav Shimshon Pincus - Predicting The Future The Romans asked Rebbi Yehoshua how do we know that there will be Techias HaMeisim and that Hashem knows the future?  He answered from the pasuk in Vayeilech (31:16), "Vayomer Hashem El Moshe Hincha Shocheiv Im Avosecha V'Kam HaAm HaZeh V'Zana", "Hashem said to Moshe, you are about to die, and this people will arise and stray".  The word V'Kam can be read with the first half of the pasuk, meaning Moshe will die and then arise once again.  The Romans answered that maybe V'Kam is going on the second half of the pasuk only.  Rebbi Yehoshua said in that case you admit that we at least have proof that Hashem knows the future since he knew the people would stray.

Rav SHimshon Pincus asks that the whole Tanach is full of Nevius.  Why did Rebbi Yehoshua choose this pasuk to teach us that Hashem knows the future?  He answers that from all the other prophesies there is no proof that hashem knows the future.  Since it is His world and can do what He wants, it is not a prophesy since He Himself can make it happen.  You are not a prophet if you can predict what you yourself will do next.

However this pasuk is clear prophesy since this pasuk says that Bnei Yisroel will worship Avodah Zara.  This is not something that Hashem makes happen.  Each person chooses by himself and has full bechira to choose bad or good.  The fact that Hashem knows what a person will choose, even if he can change his mind at the last moment, is clear proof that He knows the future.

Tue, 08 Sep 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Shoftim: Rav Shimshon Pincus - When The Vilna Gaon Is Prepared To Eat Treif Uvasa... V'El HaShofet Sher Yihiyeh Bayamim Haheim", and you will come... to the leader in those days.  Rashi says that we see from here that the posek of your generation is the final word.  Even if he is not as great as the Chachomim of previous generations, his psak must be heeded.

Rav Shimshon Pincus tells an incredible story illustrating this point.  One Friday afternoon in Vilna in the house of the tailor who was a neighbor of the Vilna Gaon, a question arose regarding the kashrus of a chicken.  The tailor immediately sent his young son to the Gra who paskened that it is treif.  Unknowingly,, at the same time the tailor's wife sent someone to the Rov of Vilna, Rav Shmuel b"r Avigdor who paskened that it is Kosher.  When both sides realized that they received a conflicting psak din they faced a great dilemma.

The went back to the Rov's house and told him about the psak of the Gra.  Immediately the Rov went to the Gra and told him that while he concedes that the Gra is ten times greater than he is in Torah, nevertheless he is the Rov and if his word is not heeded his authority and psak will be severely weakened.  The only choice said the Rov was for the two of them to go together to the tailors house and for both of them to partake in the Seudah and eat from the chicken.  The Gra agreed.  I repeat, the Gra agreed to eat chicken that he knew was considered a treifa!!!  

Why are we so quick to judge out gedolim when our Torah knowledge and understanding of the world is not one hundredth of theirs?  Let's say they are not as smart as the gedolim we know from previous generations, that is still not acceptable.  Besides, just like we don't understand these gedolim, why do we claim that we know what the previous gedolim would say?  It would make more sense that they would agree with today's gedolim who received the mesora from them, and not with us whose understanding is shaped by the secular world and the media more than anything else.  

What makes Am Yisroel unique is that all its wisdom is derived from one source, the torah.  To that end our leaders are old men who have spend close to century toiling over nothing but the torah.  Fo some odd reason we hold that against them today, rather than subjugate our polluted thoughts to their clear vision.  Ein Licha Kohein Ela Shofet ShebiYamecha!

PS.  As an irrelevant postscript to the above story, when the Gra and the Rav Shmuel ben Avigdor arrived for their chicken meal the the oil lamp over the table fell spilling fat into the chicken and thus rendering the chicken inedible.

Sun, 16 Aug 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Shimshon Pincus - Why Rebbi Shimon Bar Yochai? In the piyut Bar Yochai that we sing on Lag BaOmer we say “Naaseh Adam Ne’emar Bavurecha”; when Hashem said, “let’s make Man” it referred to Rebbi Shimon.  Why him out of all people?  Was his great Rebbe Rebbi Akiva not as great as his Talmid?  What about all those before him?  Hillel, Yirmiyahu, Dovid, Moshe?  Why is there a personality cult around Rebbi Shimon that we do not find among any other great Gedolim?  Furthermore asks Rav Shimshon Pincus, why do we call Rebbi Shimon “Adam” this refers to a person’s physical and material side from the word “Adama” earth, as opposed to his spiritual side.  The word “Ish” is considered the highest accolade for a human.

Rav Shimshon explains that the miracle of the creation of man was the marvel of mixing two polar opposites that cannot, through any logic or explanation, go together; the Neshama and the Body.  A body cannot hold within it a Neshama.  It is simply not possible.  Can fire be stored in water?  Can air be stored in a punctured vessel?  The Neshama is pure holiness and the body is pure materialism by what means can these specks of dirt trap this tremendous spiritual element within it?  This is the “Peleh” of Hashem’s bri’a, the wonder of creation.  This is the meaning in the end of the Bracha of Asher Yatzar  “U’Mafli Laasos”, Hashem has made a marvel creating a body that can contain a Neshama.

This combination is called “Adam”.  The letters Dalet and Men spell the word “Dam”, blood.  It is our physical side.  The letter Aleph, spelled Aleph, Lamed, Pey spells the word “Peleh” or wonder.   A man is put on this world to work out this dichotomy and use his Neshama to tame his body and transform it into a Holy vessel.  In this epic battle the losers end up contaminating their Neshamos and living their lives as “Dam” constantly catering to their material callings.  The winners use their Neshama to cleanse their body and transform it into a physical body that is pure and holy, doing only the calling of its creator.

The first tool to enable this process is the Torah.  This is the blueprint to connect ourselves to Shamayim.  The torah provides us a way to purify ourselves and make ourselves “Adam”.  Rebbi Shimon Bar Yochai revealed to us the “Penimiyus” the inside of the torah, it’s heart and soul.  The Zohar contains the secrets of the Torah enabling us to reach incredible levels of Kedusha far beyond what we can accomplish by just following the rules of the Torah on a superficial level.  He takes us inside the Torah’s “Kishkes” allowing us to soar to unprecedented heights.

The Zohar was hidden from the masses for many generations.  It is written that b’zchus the Zohar Moshiach will come.  We were promised that in the end of the days there will be a special revelation and ability for everyone who wants to learn these Sodos, secrets of the Torah to successfully absorb them.  In these days immediately preceding the coming of Moshiach the Tumah in the world will also reach unprecedented heights.  Rebbi Shimon Bar Yochai with the Zohar is the one who can take these two ends of the spectrum and tie them together to serve Hashem.  More so than any other human being in the history of the world this is what Hashem had in mind when he created man.  By grabbing on to Rebbi Shimon even in these trying times, we can make ourselves into the quintessential A-Dam. (see Sichos Rebbi Shimshon - "Na'aseh Adam Neemar Bavurecha")

Tue, 12 May 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Shimshon Pincus - Purim And Yom Kippur Are Two Halves Of A Whole Every Yom Tov, says the gemara in Pesachim (68b), is "Chetzyoi LaShem V'Chetyoi Lachem".  Of course it is all for Hashem but our celebration has two parts.  One part in pure spiritual devotion like davening and learning and the other part is more earthly through eating (albeit with the goal of Kiddush Hashem).

What about Yom Kippur, where is the Chetzyoi Lachem as we are wrapped in talis and fast all day?  The Vilna Gaon answers that the Lachem part of Yom Kippur is Purim.  Purim is the completion of Yom Kippur.  It is the physical half.  Moreover say Chazal, Purim is the holier half as Yom Kippur is only Yom "K"Purim a day whose kedusha only approaches the incredible kedusha of Purim.

Rav Shimshon Pincus says that some Meforshim explain the connection between the two with the Chazal that says "Kol HaPoshet Yad Nosnim Lo".  Just like on Purim where we are obligated to give tzedaka to whoever stretches out his hand, so to on Yom Kippur Hashem gives us whatever we ask for.  Purim is a day where Hashem also gives whatever we ask and is more effective than Yom Kippur when we need to fast and daven to get it.  Purim we can be in a state of obliviousness "Ad D'Lo Yadah" and still get what we need.

Rav Shimshon Pincus himself offers that there are three days of celebration of Matan Torah during the year.  Shavuos where we celebrate the first Luchos with the hearing of them on Har Sinai, Yom Kippur when we received the second luchos, and Purim when we finally accepted the Torah by our own volition without being forced.  This was the most joyous kabalas HaTorah that came from a physical revelation that the torah is in our best earthy and heavenly interest.  That is why on this Kabalas HaTorah we celebrate in a most earthly way.

Tue, 03 Mar 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Humans, Plus Or Minus

I recently heard a story of a boy who reached the age of enlisting to the army.  He was perfectly normal and healthy but he didn’t want to join the army. Armed with a psychiatrist whom his parents paid off, they went for a hearing before the board.  The psychiatrist did everything he could to prove the boy was not normal and as such not fit to join the army.  It was to no avail.  They weren’t buying it.  Seeing he was doomed to serve, as a last attempt to get himself disqualified, he pulled down his pants and relieved himself before the panel. Immediately the head of the panel exempted him from the army and classified him insane.

When asked why he let the boy off, after this silly antic, he explained that a normal person has limits even if trying to act psychotic before the hearing board.  Human decency is one of them.  If this boy is willing to act like this, even under the circumstances, then he is truly not normal and need not serve.

Rav Shimshon Pincus brings a story from gemara in Sanhedrin 64.  There was a woman who was deathly ill.  She promised that if she recovers she would worship every avodah zara in the world. After recovering she went about fulfilling her promise.  When she got to the avodah zara of pe’or, whose way of worship is to perform vulgar and disgusting acts before it, she said I’d rather die than worship pe’or.  Why, what happened that she wouldn’t worship pe’or?

Rav Shimshon explains that a person’s soul is called “Kevodi”.  It is the natural honor that a person has.  It is his most basic connection to his creator.  A person was created a human and not an animal.  A person possesses an instinctive repulsion from vulgarity.  The objective of pe’or was to cut this last connection between a person and Hashem.  Once pe’or is worshiped, this connection is completely severed forever.  It is death from humanity and death itself.  Transforming from a human existence to life as a cow is equivalent to death or worse.  This woman preferred to die a natural death rather than commit suicide in this horrible manner.

Humanity is by definition a connection to Hashem. Every human alive has limits. Once they cross that threshold they are not human.  They are walking dead.  The further we separate ourselves from animals, the more human we are.  Am Yisroel has an even higher level to strive for.  V’Halachta B’Drachav, the more we resemble the pure and beautiful middos of Hashem and act with dignity K’Derech HaTorah, the more alive we are.  We can be above humanity, we can be Am Hashem.

Mon, 18 Aug 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Bayis Shlishi: My Broker Had A Little Lamb

I had a very sad conversation with my insurance broker the other day.  While we were together, the subject of Moshiach and the third Bais HaMikdash came up.  He then said to me, “I don’t know what we will do in the Bais HaMikdash, but I am very sure we will not be slaughtering lambs anymore.  Those days are over, the world has moved forward.”  Very quickly thereafter I realized my arguments were for naught.  I sadly realized that no matter what I said, it would not change his mind.

Rav Shimshon Pincus describes some of the horrors of the Churban Bayis Rishon, the hunger, the murder, the rivers of blood.  When they arrived in Bavel the situation only got worse.  Not accustomed to its waters, and being weak and feeble from all they had gone through on their subsequent journey to Bavel, many people died on “Al Naharos Bavel”, the banks of Euphrates River.  Nevuchadnetzar sat on a boat serenaded by a full orchestra, while the Malchus Dovid walked, chained and naked, hunched over by heavy loads placed on their shoulders on the banks of the river.  A sight that can make anyone cry.

Yet, points out Rav Shimshon, Dovid HaMelech testifies that when the Yehudim stood on that black day on the banks of the river they cried bitter tears, “Sham Yashavnu Gam Bachinu.”  But these were not tears of suffering.  These were tears of longing for the Shechina, “BiZachreinu Es Tzion.”  Imagine says Rav Shimshon, a boy is in a devastating car accident.  He lies in the hospital hanging between life and death with every bone in his body broken.  He let’s out a sigh and says, “Oy!  Where is my Rebbi?  I miss his shiurim.”  This is the greatest testament to Ahavas HaTorah.  Its absence hurts so much that the physical pain pales in comparison.  This was the pain of the Galus HaShechina.

We were born in the darkness of galus.  Our whole lives, we existed with Hester Panim.  We have never known what it means to experience the Shechina.  We have no way to relate to that kind of pleasure.  The only thing we can say is, listen the cries of our beaten and battered forefathers who sat Al Naharos Bavel.  Picture their tears that were all shed for only one thing, “BiZachreinu Es Tzion.”  The memory of the Avoda, the Korbonos, the Kohamim in their Bigdei Kehuna, the Levi’im B’Duchanam, and the main point of it all, the Hashro’as HaShechina.  Certainly the slaughtering of the lambs in Tzion was no primitive tribal ritual. 

May we all be zocheh to Bi’as Go’el Tzedek Bimheira B’Yameinu.  May we march into the Bais HaMikdash with faces ablaze followed by our little lamb, V’Noichal Sham Min HaZevachim U’Min HaPesachim.

Sun, 10 Aug 2008 03:00:00 +0000
The Critical First Seconds Rav Shimshon Pincus says that there is a Segula from Rav Chaim Volozhin that says, as your wake up goes, so goes your day.  If you wake up and the first thought is that today will be day full of torah and mitzvos, Hashem will remove all the barriers and give you the ability to overcome any obstacles along the way.

To this extent, Chazal were Misaken that the first words we utter upon waking up are Modeh Ani.  Instinctively the first thought of a person when opening their eyes in the morning is “I”.  Did I sleep enough?  Do I feel good?  If you wake and worry about the “I”, you are declaring yourself independent.  Beware, that it is a risky proposition in the tricky world out there.  If you are independent you are on your own.  Good Luck!  However if your first thought is not “I am independent” but rather, “I belong to Hashem” you are setting yourself on the right track and you are in very good hands.

The word “Modeh” is also used to mean “Kinyan” belonging.  You are “Modeh” which also means admit, that you belong to Hashem.  The neshama that was just returned to you is not yours.  It is merely on loan.  We say Modeh Ani and admit that it belongs to Hashem and ask Him to help us do our job and take care of it properly.  Suddenly our day is different day.  Our leaning is not for us, it is for Hashem the owner of our soul.  Doing mitzvos is not about me, it’s about fulfilling my task.  Similarly, going to work and trying to earn a living is not really my lone responsibility either.  I am just doing my job and the master businessman in Heaven has responsibility for profitability and success.

Chazal tell us “Sof Maaseh B’Machshava Techila”; the final product was already determined in the beginning.  Just like the way a building will look is already determined before the first bulldozer was called, everything action that gets done is already determined before the action starts.  The “Maaseh”; deed, follows a script written by the “Machshava”; the plan.  

Try spending a few seconds concentrating on Modeh Ani.  It will help you wake up with a blast and set the stage for a great day!  (See Nefesh Shimshon: Siddur HaTefila – Modeh Ani)

If you enjoyed this article please email it to your friends and family and be our partner in Harbotzas HaTorah.  Please help spread the word about

Tue, 01 Jul 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Dazzling Wheelchairs & The Unforgivable Sin Wheelchairs are becoming more sophisticated all the time.  Imagine however, says Rav Shimshon Pincus, a paraplegic boasting to his friend that he is more fortunate than him because his wheelchair can climb stairs, go really fast, and do all sorts of tricks that a healthy human cannot. This person is a fool.  True he has tools that may be quite advanced but when all is said and done, he is still disabled and cannot move around on his own.
Educated women says Rav Pincus, is a relatively recent phenomenon.  Up until a few generations ago it was common for women to be illiterate, an idea that is unfathomable today.  Our girls all learn to read, write, and can do all the things that most women never dreamed of or aspired to do.  They now daven, they learn, they do it all!  Are the tefilos better received in Shamayim? Nonsense.  Our mother's of old didn't need a Siddur.  They lived with Hashem and talked to him twenty-four hours a day.  Tefila is called "Avodah SheB'Lev", service of the heart.  We can read our siddur and we have a dazzling array of peirushim that we teach.  But do we really know how to daven?  Do we know how to really connect to Hashem?  Our "Bubba"s knew how to walk, they knew how to run, they knew how to soar.  They did not need a wheelchair.  We are hadicapped people grasping for the latest technology in the hopes that by the virtue of the tools themselves we will soar to the Heavens... by remote control.
When a person undertakes a project there are many pitfalls along the way.  It is inevitable that mistakes are made and they are all forgivable.  The one unforgivable sin is forgetting the objective. In a speech given by Rav Shimshon to Bais Yaakov teachers, after his introduction, he said that if he were to ask the audience what the objective of a Bais Yaakov teacher is, he would receive varied responses, including teaching Torah, instilling Yiras Shamayim, and other opinions.  True, he admits that teaching values such as Yiras Shamayim and Derech Eretz are important pieces of the puzzle, however it is unforgivable for a teacher for even one moment to forget the single objective, raising students to be "Nashim Tzidkanios" and trusted Imahos of Am Yisroel.

Tue, 17 Jun 2008 03:00:00 +0000 The gemara in Shabbos (88a) says that on the day of Matan Torah, Hashem lifted Har Sinai and told Bnei Yisroel, if we accept the Torah then "Mutav", if not Hashem will bury us under the mountain.  This seems a little rough considering that we already declared “Na’aseh V’Nishma”.  Why the hostility and threats, asks Tosfos?  Tosfos answers that after seeing the great fire on the mountain that preceded Kabalas HaTorah, Bnei Yisroel may get nervous so Hashem needed to force us to accept the Torah.

Even so why would Hashem force us now if he didn’t force us before?  Rav Shimshon Pincus explains (Sichos Shavuos – Ta’amu U’Ri’u) with a Mashal.  If you have a terrible toothache you go to the dentist.  During the procedure you feel excruciating pain and try to get up and run away.  Why do you run away?  It was your decision to come in the first place.  You even agreed to pay good money for the privilege.  The answer is that you know that this is good for you but in the moment of pain you can’t take it anymore and react against your better judgment.  The dentist does you a great favor and holds you down so he can finish.  Not because he wants his money but because this is for your own good… and you know it.

The Torah was new to Bnei Yisroel.  While being the Am Segula sounded great it appeared restrictive.  It would force a drastic change of lifestyle.  We all want in but need to be pushed to take the leap. To someone not frum Shabbos may seem like a 24-hour detention center.  Having the benefit of keeping Shabbos we all know that on the contrary, there is nothing more liberating than keeping Shabbos.  Free from the world.  Free to enjoy our families.  Free to enjoy Hashem.  

Similarly a masmid who sits and learns all day may look like he is giving up the good life and is cooped up in the Bais Medrash.  Only the masmid knows the real joy sitting over a gemara.  While the rest of the world runs around “outside” in circles, he unleashes his mind and soul and soars to Shamayim on the wings of the most difficult sugyos.

We all want the Torah.  We all know in principle what is good in life, what is important, and what really matters but… we need to jump through that great fire of Har Sinai to get there and really experience it.   This Shavuos cast aside your fears and take the plunge, so that this you can really smile without holes in your teeth.

Tue, 03 Jun 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Shopping For Your Shavuos Outfit The famous question that everybody asks is why do we count upward towards Shavuos.  Shouldn’t we count down watching the days go by, as we get closer?  These days are separating us from Har Sinai and we want them to go away so we can get to the magical moment already.

Rav Shimshon Pincus answers this with a vort from Rav Aharon Kotler.  Rav Aharon asks how is it that when Yaakov waited seven years for Rochel the torah says that these days went by quickly in his eyes.  Shouldn’t the normal human emotion make it feel like an eternity as he waited for the day that he and his beloved will finally join as husband and wife?  Rav Aharon answers that Yaakov was preparing himself for the building of Am Yisroel.

Rav Shimshon elaborates on these short and mysterious words with a Mashal.  If someone were to tell a desperate person that he will receive one million dollars but it would only come in one hundred days, he would be elated but totally impatient during this waiting period.  If however the deal was that he would get thousand a day for 100 days until he accumulates million, then each day we be fun and exhilarating as he adds up his earnings and closes in on his final goal.  What is the difference?  In the first case the days are empty of any meaning or progress.  They are simply dead space in his way and they are separating him from his good fortune.  In the second scenario, he is growing day by day as he closes in on his dream.   Each precious day builds him more and more.

Maybe another way to explain it would be a Chosson and Kallah.  After the engagement they are very excited to get married.  This is a very special time.  As long as they are preparing for the wedding they are enjoying each day.  Choosing halls, flowers, clothing, apartments, etc.  Two months go by very quickly and life is just grand with no complaints.  Then the preparations are all done and there is still a week to the wedding.  The Chosson and Kallah haven’t got much to do except wait.  Boy does the time go by slowly.  When oh when will the big day finally come?  This week lasts and eternity.

So too says Rav Shimshon, are the days of Sefiras HaOmer.  These are the days from when we finally gained our freedom, which we use to build ourselves into people who are ready to accept the Torah.  This takes hard work as we work on our middos first and foremost.  The Torah is not sitting and waiting to magically transform us without any effort on our part.  Each day we grow.  Each day we make ourselves more worthy.  Each day is a wonderful day where we go to sleep feeling accomplished and more complete than we were the day before.  These are great days that we don’t want to put behind ourselves.  We want to hold them and cherish them.  We count them one, two, three… We grow in Chesed, Gvura, Tiferes… each precious day until we hit the big 50 and we are truly ready to receive the torah.

Counting the Omer means growing with it and enjoying it.  If you sit around and do nothing, then not only will it feel like forever, but you will stand under the chupah totally embarrassed that you don’t even have wedding attire!

Thu, 01 May 2008 03:00:00 +0000 Not one to talk about himself (unless poking fun), on a rare occasion Rav Shimshon Pincus shared this incredible account with someone very close to him, giving us a glimmer of insight and clarity into his Gadlus.  It is published in the Hakdama to the Hagada Tiferes Shimshon.

“When I was a yeshivah bochur in Yeshivas Brisk, I shared an apartment with other bochurim.  One year, I was the only bochur who remained in the apartment the night of Bedikas Chometz.  At the proper time, I began to perform the bedikah, and my bedikah lasted for a few hours.  When I was finally finished, I was completely exhausted, but satisfied and happy that I had properly fulfilled the halacha.
Suddenly it occurred to me that I had forgotten about the roof, which required bedikah as well, according to the Shulchan Aruch.  I realized that the other neighbors in the building did not check the roof, and the responsibility would have to fall on me.
This realization did not come without an inner struggle.  After all, I was already completely exhausted.  I thought, “Does the mitzvah davka fall on me?  The roof belongs to everyone in the building.  Why do I need to do it?”  Eventually however, I overcame my inner struggle and decided that I would fulfill the mitzvah properly.
I left my apartment and climbed up the stairs.  I opened the door of the communal roof, turned on the light…. and my heart fell.  The roof was filthy; it was obvious that it had not been cleaned in years.  It was covered with thick layers of dust and dirt.  Performing a bedikah was impossible since the halacha requires the area to be cleaned before being checked.    
I stood in the doorway, feeling completely fatigued and overwhelmed.  Eventually however, I gathered my strength, went down to my apartment, filled a bucket of water, and returned to the roof.  It was close to midnight when I began to clean the roof which had not been cleaned in years.  From time to time, I questioned myself whether I was definitely performing a mitzvah.  Each time, I strengthened myself with the knowledge that I was performing a mitzvah d’rabbanan.  It was close to dawn when I had finally cleaned the roof thoroughly enough to perform Bedikas Chometz.
At Shacharis, and even more so afterwards, I felt exhausted.  I wasn’t able to rest because of the many things I needed to take care of before Yom Tov.  I thought to myself, “If I am so tired now, what kind of Seder will I have tonight when I’m even more tired?”
The Seder arrived, and I was imbued with a sweet spiritual taste and light.  I began to recite the Hagaddah, and tasted the sweetness of each word as if for the first time.  I ate the matzah and felt the incredible power of the mitzvah.  The entire night, I was engulfed with a great spiritual light.  I felt spiritually exalted and felt a special closeness to Hashem. It was as if I was transformed into a completely new person that Seder night. 

When the Seder ended, I wasn’t able to fall asleep.  I remained awake all night, and occupied myself with the story of yetzias mitzrayim.  I felt a closeness to Hashem the entire night that I hadn’t felt my entire life.  I thought that this exalted feeling would only last the night of the Seder, but the next morning and the entire next day, I continued to feel this wonderful closeness to Hashem.
In the afternoon, I thought to myself, “Who knows if this feeling will continue?  Maybe it will only last through the first day of Pesach.”  However, the next day - the first day of Chol Hamoed, I continued to feel spiritually elevated.  My feelings of elevation continued, and the entire Chol Hamoed, I could not tear myself away from my Gemara.  I wasn’t capable of occupying myself with anything other than closeness to Hashem.
When Pesach was over, a painful thought occurred to me.  “What will be from now on after such a wonderful Yom Tov?  Will it last?  I refuse to separate myself in any way from the inner light which I felt over Yom Tov.”
That year, Shabbos fell immediately after Pesach.  “I strengthened myself and I thought, ‘Tomorrow, Shabbos Kodesh will begin, and Shabbos is more kodesh than Yom Tov.’  That Shabbos, I truly tasted the spirituality of Shabbos Kodesh for the first time, and truly understood the concept of Shabbos Kodesh.  My entire spiritual elevation continued from that point.”
“If I have anything today, it all stems from the koach of that one mitzvah d’rabbanan of bedikas chometz which I grasped and fulfilled with mesiras nefesh.”  

On the night of Bedikas Chometz 5761/2001, after a tragic car accident that took Rav Shimshon’s life and the life of his wife and his daughter, Rav Shimshon was escorted by thousands of Talmidim and admirers to a world that is truly full of light.  

TiHei Nishmosom Tzirura Bzror HaChaim.

Tue, 15 Apr 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Pesach in The Aftermath of Purim

Purim is the holiest day of the year according to the Arizal.  You get intoxicated with love for Hashem… or so we hoped. Maybe some of you, like me, just got plain drunk without much spiritual lift.  What a disappointment!  You thought you’d be soaring with Ahavas Hashem, cutting all ties to the lower world, yet you found yourself groveling like a drunkard, the epitome of man’s lowness and earthliness.

One of Rav Shimshon Pincus’s favorite topics is the cycle of Yomim Tovim. The Yomim Tovim of the year are like the lifecycle of a person.  It starts on Pesach with our birth as a nation when we are released from being trapped in the womb of Mitzrayim. We become independent enabling us to start a relationship with Hashem.  Shavuos is our Bar Mitzva when we receive the torah.  The Yomim Noraim culminate with Hoshana Rabba and Shemini Atzeres, which is our marriage to Hashem. Chanukah is the making up over our first marital spat.  Purim is when we finally become one with Hashem.

Do you realize what this means? Purim not so coincidentally“falls out” thirty days before Pesach. This is the day that according to Halacha we start preparing for Pesach.  So even as we are wrapping up the previous year trying to finish on a high note we are starting the next cycle all over again!  Usually in life when we blow a big opportunity that we have been building up to for so long we don’t get another chance all that quickly.  Yet on Purim if we miss our big chance for “Dveykus”, that very same day is the first day of the next cycle.

Purim is not a one-day event.  It is the grand finale for those who spent a full year toiling in perfecting their Avodas Hashem.  Instead of sulking about our missed Purim opportunity we should use this as an incentive and start today to prepare ourselves the first 354 days of the year for next Purim. Maybe then we can finally reach the “high” we are looking for.

Mon, 24 Mar 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Purim's Potentially Fatal Hangover

I was sitting minding my own business in a back seat of the taxi. After a depressing news report the taxi driver turns to me and says, Yihiyeh Tov! Why? I wondered to myself. Not one to argue with a taxi driver I kept quiet but it got me thinking. Purim is the classic case we turn to for comfort when things look really bleak. After all there was no time in the history of Am Yisroel where they faced greater danger. The King of the entire world had decreed that every last Jew may be slaughtered and the King of All Kings our father in heaven even added his signature to a similar document where it really counts in Shamayim. What happened at the end? Just like the taxi driver said, "Haya Tov!" It turned out to be a day of joy for the ages.

Not so simple says Rav Shimshon Pincus. Hashem (Yeshaya 54) calls the mabul, "Mei Noach". Wasn't Noach a tzaddik? Why is the devastation called on his name? Rav Shimshon explains that Noach never believed that the Mabul would actually come. He was sure it was a ploy to get people to do tshuva. That's why even when it started to rain he refused to go into the Teiva. Because of this attitude although he spent many years building the teiva he didn't really put his heart into changing the world and saving it from disaster. Without Noach leading the way the world in fact didn't change and the prophecy of doom actually materialized. Since he was the Shaliach of Hashem to save the people and because of his eternal optimism he only managed to save himself, the Mabul is called "Mei Noach".

Mordechai on the other hand understood the danger. Eliyahu HaNavi told him that the decree was signed in Shamayim. He clearly saw the total annihilation of Klal Yisroel before his eyes without any rationalizations. He roused the people to despair and ultimately to uninhibited Ahavas Hashem. Mordechai's realism and honest assessment of the situation saved the otherwise doomed nation.

I heard Rav Shimshon once say that since the Churban Bais HaMikdash, Am Yisroel or at least a part of it has been subjected to destruction once every 60-80 years. True Eretz Yisroel has witnessed amazing miracle both in its creation and all it wars, but that was Hashem's kindness towards His undeserving only son in the wake of the gruesome calamity of the Holocaust. Today however the clock is running out. Are we going to have a Mabul or another Purim? That will depend on which route we choose. Will we rely on eternal optimism and repeating the slogan "Yihiyeh Tov" or will we go the Shushan route by changing our ways and actually becoming good, "Nihiyeh Tov".

Wed, 12 Mar 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Purim and Olam Haba - Just For Thrills

The thought of reward in Olam Haba generally does not make much of an impact on our daily decision making. First it is too far off but second and more importantly we can't relate to what Olam Haba is all about. Maybe if we saw a brochure with nice glossy photos things would be different. But we haven't so it isn't. Nevertheless the thought of Olam Haba provides at least a small incentive to perform mitzvos so it is important to frame a mature picture in our mind. We cannot go our whole lives with our childish images of having all the toys and treats we can imagine, says Rav Shimshon Pincus (Sichos Purim - Mishenichnas Adar).

Olam Haba is eternal which means that we must be entertained forever. Quite a feat since we easily get bored of even the greatest of pleasure as the thrill wears off. Justified or not our attitude is "out with the old and in with the new." Eternity is a very long time to remain excited. So how is this achieved? Rav Shimshon answers with the Vilna Gaon who explains the Pasuk, "Oz Yimalei Sichok Penu." Sichok or laughter, like happiness, is short lived. If someone were to tell you that you won the lottery it would be the greatest moment of your life. A truly carefree moment of pure enjoyment. This is Sichok. The next day you are very happy but in a more calm and calculated fashion.

Not so in Olam Haba. Every moment will be Sichok; pure unadulterated ecstasy. Before you have a chance to come off your high, you will be given another enjoyment that will evoke an additional outbreak of Sichok. It will be a constant state of ecstasy, new thrills coming at you moment after moment for eternity. That is what the Pasuk means "Oz Yimalei Sichok Penu"; only in Olam Haba will our Sichok be complete. In this world it can't last long, but in the next world the Sichok will be whole, with every single moment bringing us new thrills.

This he says is the inyan of Purim. We were signed and sealed by Hashem for destruction. That verdict was not repealed, rather Hashem created us anew. Purim is day to celebrate being newly created. It is the day we won the lottery. We have no care in the world. It is a day of pure uninhibited ecstasy. No special obligation to Hashem. The only obligation is to realize what we were given and breakout in endless joy and happiness.

Thu, 28 Feb 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Over Cover in Far Flung Lands

Did you ever travel to parts of the world where there are no Jews? The kind of place where if someone killed you no one would ever find you? Did you ever wait for the train in Brno central station and stand on the platform in Mannheim. Gone out for some fresh air in Metz and been in a Goy's house in San Felice. Have you ever walked the streets of San Marino, Lichtenstein, Thessaloniki, Almere, Gyor, Malmo and the list goes on. All while sporting a Yarmulke and tzitzis dangling from your pants. From where does one summon the courage or better yet the steel nerves to absorb the stares of the onlookers? Why do some people, as soon as they leave their "Daled Amos", feel they need the protection of a Yankee cap covering their Yarmulke, the last vestige of their Jewish appearance, while others are not afraid to go to parts unknown in full Jewish dress, looking as if they just landed from Mars and attracting quite a bit of unwanted attention?

Rav Shimshon Pincus himself was quite a globetrotter going anywhere he was called to give chizzuk and give inspiration to his fellow Jew. He quotes the pasuk in Tehilim (131:2) "KaGamul Alei Imo". When a nursing baby travels to a distant country, is it far away from its home town? No it hasn't gone anywhere. It is always in the same place, in its mother's arms. When the world is at war and refugees stream from city to city seeking safer ground, a baby has not moved from its home, from its nest. It remains in the safe embrace it has always known. Whether you find yourself in an anti-Semitic town in Eastern Europe that hasn't seen a Jew in 60 years or a remote island in the South Pacific, if you are in Hashem's embrace only the scenery changes, the location stays the same. Wherever you are it is always "home sweet home"... as long as you hold on tight to Mommy's hand and don't get lost among the crowd.

Thu, 14 Feb 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Shach: Rav Shimshon Needs To Know That Money Is Important

Reb Avraham Deutsch relates an incident in which a Chassan, a talmid of Rav Shimshon, was injured in an automobile accident just a few weeks before his chasuna. He began legal proceedings against the company that had been responsible for the damage, and stood to win a sizable amount of money. His lawyer felt that if he would postpone his wedding by a few weeks, the judge would be convinced as to the seriousness of the injury and he would win. Rav Shimshon felt otherwise, insisting that ‘One doesn't push off a Chasuna.' The question was a complex one, and the Chassan, the lawyer, and Rav Shimshon agreed to travel together to Bnei Brak and ask Rav Schach how to proceed.

Reb Avraham accompanied Rav Shimshon, and related to me how Rav Schach heard both sides of the argument, and then sat quietly, saying he didn't know. After an uncomfortable silence, with the Rosh Yeshiva refusing to decide, the parties prepared to leave. Rav Schach motioned to the Chassan to stay with him a moment, after the others had left. Then the Rosh Yeshiva spoke: ‘the truth is, Rav Shimshon is right, one doesn't postpone a Chasuna. However, I knew that if I would agree with his view, he would misunderstand my reasoning. He believes that money is absolutely worthless, and he would be certain that I agree, and therefore I say not to push off the wedding. He is wrong. Ich mein az ehr vet noch zein fun di Gedolim, I think he will yet be one of the Gedolei Yisroel, and he has to know that money is important...'    (A special thanks to Rav Yisroel Besser who provided us this story from his book Warmed By Their Fire Artscroll/Mesorah 2007)

Mon, 04 Feb 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Push Little Fly, Push!

One time a foreign dignitary was sent by the Emperor to visit the Bais HaMikdash and report on what he saw there. The Kohanim showed him around and he was very impressed. When they entered the courtyard where the Mizbei'ach stood, the Kohanim explained that there is always a fire which Hashem sends from the Shamayim that never goes out. Impressive indeed. A short while later he saw a Kohen take up some wood to light on the Mizbei'ach. Incredulously he asked why the Kohen was doing this if there was fire sent down by God Himself? They answered that although Hashem takes care of the fire we do it as well.

This answer stunned and shocked him and he declared that the Jews are crazy and deserve to die. The A-Mighty himself lights a fire and we think we have something to add to this? Does he need our help? This is akin to a fly on the wall of a locomotive pushing with all his might claiming he is helping to move the train down the tracks, says Rav Shimshon. Ridiculous!

Is he right?  Yes and no. Everyone understands that when a 3 year old child "helps" his Daddy lift a heavy object the father has lots of Nachas from his kid even though this was only a show. The father didn't need the help and the son didn't really provide any help for that matter. So too Avinu SheBaShamayim has lots of Nachas when we help him although he doesn't need our mitzvos.

A non-Jew doesn't believe that the creator of the entire universe who is beyond the realm of the physical, can have an intense love or any relationship with a mere mortal. We know that Hashem pays attention to every fine detail of each and every Jew's life but to them this is simply incomprehensible. They think that we are brazen and arrogant in our beliefs.  To this end each and every day for the past 2000 years they try to prove to us that no one is watching over us.

The purpose of creation is "Hashem Echad". Hashem's will universally be declared King over the entire world. To reach this goal Hashem has made us his emissaries. Through our mitzvos and Maasim Tovim the big day will finally come. If you think about this, it is a big joke. Sure I can do some mitzvos that will help out the situation but Hashem has the power in one second to make the seas dry, the heavens fall, the mountains crumble, and all the nations to believe in His power. He could make a far greater impact on the achievement of the ultimate world peace than the meager contribution I am capable of. Why hire a bunch of little kids with plastic shovels to spend a lifetime digging a tunnel through a mountain when you own heavy machinery that can blast a hole through the mountain in no time?

The world is speeding towards the end of time and the Geula will shortly be upon us. Because of Hashem's love for us he has given us little plastic shovels and asked us to dig a little. This way he can hold us high and like our proud Tatty he will declare "Yankele, helped me bring Moshiach". He wants to make us the hero with relatively little effort. He encourages us.  "Push little fly push!" he cries. Hashem is giving us an amazing opportunity. Don't be fool. Don't drop the shovel.

Wed, 23 Jan 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Is Seeing Believing? Ask The Camera

Have you ever seen family pictures with everyone smiling? You'll see the smiling happy faces as if life is just grand, of adults who are not on speaking terms with each other and kids whom it took ten minutes to get them to stop fighting and smile long enough for the photographer to say "cheese" and not a second more. The camera does not tell the whole story it is a snapshot in time. Who is the biggest liar in the world? Rav Shimshon always said it is the camera.

He had many interesting examples of this but two in particular stand out in my mind. He once went to a Holocaust exhibit in the Bnei Brak fire station (what he was doing there is a whole separate topic of his). Being the first time he had really seen something like this he walked out horrified at the images. How can such atrocities happen to Am Yisroel? How could it be that there were so many Yidden who not only stayed Frum but were even michazek their emunah through the fires of Auschwitz? At that point he realized that the pictures were a forgery. What the camera omitted was the Shechina that stood there side by side with every Yid. Imo Anochi Batzara. That side of the story a picture cannot relate. But the kedoshim who had their eyes open saw it.

In another example, Rav Shimshon often would say that if we'd see the Vilna Gaon in person we would not be able to get near him without being burned alive by the Kedusha. Even though we have pictures of the Vilna Gaon they are frauds. They don't relate who the Vilna Gaon really was.

What is the difference between human eyes and a camera? The eye has a complex brain behind it that processes not only the visible elements but also takes into account many other factors such as our past experiences, our common knowledge, and most of all in our case our emunah and our heritage. Of course a camera cannot see Hashem. Neither can a person without a brain. The mind's eye needs to be open. The eye alone is just another digital camera. The deeper and greater the mind the more one can see. That is what it means that with the Ohr HaTorah tzaddikim can see "MiSof HaOlam Ad Sofo". They can perceive and understand world events without reading a newspaper.

With all due respect to Rav Shimshon I believe he would agree that while maybe he couldn't walk into a room with the Vilna Gaon and come out unharmed by the fire, we on the other hand would probably have trouble picking out the Vilna Gaon from a lineup. Are our eyes any better than a camera? It all depends on your mind's eye or better yet the strength of your Torah eye.

Wed, 09 Jan 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Shimshon Shares His Trade Secrets and Gives A Lesson in How To Daven

Rav Shimshon Pincus was known for his extraordinarily passionate tefillos. Indeed, the sefer that he authored on the subject (She'arim BaTefila) has become a classic.

Rav Goldenthal (Rav Shimshon's ‘boss', the pioneer of the Torah community of Ofakim, and the one who brought Rav Shimshon to the town) shared with me the story about an Avreich he was close to, who had been married some time with no children. The fellow asked Rav Shimshon to daven for him, and he promised to do so. One day, when he felt especially despondent, the Avreich went to ask Rav Shimshon if, in fact, he had remembered him in his tefillos. The Rav admitted that he had forgotten to, and thought for a minute. ‘I have an idea,' he said, ‘Call your wife, and tell her you will be home late. Then let's go for a drive.'

They got in the car, and Rav Shimshon drove a while, until they approached a peaceful orchard, which was desolate at that time of year. It was approaching evening, and Rav Shimshon told him that they would each stand under a tree and beseech Hashem for a yeshua.

As they began to daven, Rav Shimshon suddenly got into his car and began to drive. He waved at the shocked Avreich, and called out, ‘I'll pick you up in an hour.'

The fellow described his feelings to Rav Goldenthal. It was dark, and he was in a deserted place, inhabited only by animals and the occasional Bedouin wanderer. He felt a feeling of panic and dread that he had never before experienced, which only compounded g brokenness and sorrow.

Suddenly, he realized with unprecedented clarity that he was totally in the hands of Hashem, and now completely alone with Him. He began to cry to Him from the very depths of his soul, and before he knew it, Rav Shimshon drove up, a broad smile on his face. ‘You davened well...'

Nine months later he had his first child.

(A special thanks to Rav Yisroel Besser who provided us this story from his book Warmed By Their Fire Artscroll/Mesorah 2007)

Tue, 01 Jan 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Shimshon Pincus: Defying All The Rules!

We always marvel at our great Torah giants and what they were able to accomplish intellectually. Rav Shimshon Pincus once said that it is not a Chiddush that the likes of the Rashba or Rebbi Akiva Eiger knew and where Michadesh the amounts of Torah that they did. It is far more amazing that we know the incredible amount of Torah that we do. Incredible amount? What is he talking about?

He explains that we all know that Torah is from Shamayim and existed before the physical world did. It is Hashem's personal toy and enjoyment "Torascha Sha'ashu'oi". It is pure Ruchniyos and by the laws of nature is impossible for a human being to grasp. When Moshe Rabbeinu was in Shamayim for 40 days living as a malach was unable to grasps the Torah for 39 days. Everything Hashem taught him he kept forgetting. Until on the 40th day Hashem gave it to him as a gift. Why? Because with all his kedusha and tahara he was still a person and could not hold on to it without divine intervention.

Hashem set up a roadmap to guide those who want to receive the gift of Torah. In general one must have sterling character traits, toil to no end with total dedication, and reject all worldly pleasures choosing only the pleasure of clinging to Hashem and his Torah. Only then can we acquire Torah says the Mishna in Pirkei Avos which list 48, yes count them 48, things that you need to acquire Torah.

The Bais Yosef and the Chassam Sofer worked on themselves and possessed these traits. We can't even list a half dozen of them. They sat and learned with intense concentration for hours on end. We sit down to learn for meager amounts of time and don't always last for more than a few minutes before our mind wanders to all four corners of the world or to the newspaper on the table near us or we simply doze off.

Should we wonder why we are not the Vilna Gaon? Of course not says Rav Shimshon. He earned his Torah the old fashioned way. We should thank our good fortune of being able to retain a single pasuk in Chumash because according to the laws of nature and the laws of Torah any knowledge we manage to retain defies all the rules of the game!

Thu, 20 Dec 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Are You Yaakov Avinu's Psychologist?

When Yaakov was finally reunited with his dear son Yosef after many long and bitter years for both of them, we find Yosef crying on his father's shoulder.  Chazal tell us that Yaakov at that time was saying Krias Shema.  What?  How?  Why? all the mefarshim ask.  A common answer runs along these lines.  Yaakov was so overcome with emotion and love that he wanted to channel this once in a lifetime feelings towards Hashem. 

Rav Shimshon Pincus relates that when this answer was told to Rav Chaim Brisker he got angry and dismissed it as nonsense.  Instead he offered that since Hashem commanded Yaakov to go down to Mitzrayim, during the entire duration of the journey he was Oseik B'Mitzva, busy with a mitzva and therefore Patur from any other mitzvos including Krias Shema.  Now as he reached Mitzrayim he finally was able to say Shema and didn't let the moment slip.

This is indeed a very Brisker approach which is interesting, but why did Rav Chaim so vehemently dislike the more plausible approach?  Rav Shimshon answers that Rav Chaim was teaching everyone a very important lesson about our understanding of the Avos HaKedoshim.  He was teaching us that we dare not superimpose our emotions on the actions of the Avos.  They were malachim and their only considerations and emotions were guided by the Torah.  To use our understanding of the emotions of love and longing to explain Yaakov's feelings upon seeing Yosef is ridiculous.  Then how does he suggest explaining Yaakov's actions?  Only through the Torah.  Whether an obscure Tosfos somewhere in Kodshim or a Rashi in Kedushim, these are the only tools available to us in which to view the actions of kedoshei elyon with whom we share absolutely no common emotional.

What about those mefarshim who lived a mere few hundred years ago that do indeed give the answer that Yaakov wanted to channel his love to Hashem?  Rav Shimshon answers that our emotional education is a product of foreign culture and stimulus that we are exposed to every day.  However these Gedolim, while they also stood a million miles apart from Yaakov Avinu, nevertheless their emotion were derived from the same source as Yaakov's; the wellspring of Torah. 

Thu, 13 Dec 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Once Upon A Kana'i (a/k/a Macabi)

Today if someone calls you a Kana'i he is probably insulting you.  However many years ago there was a group of Kanai'im that made our nation proud.  They saved Judaism from almost certain extinction.  These brave Kana'im took on Antiochus and his entire army with no support from their own people who either sided with the enemy who spread its Greek culture or were too afraid to stand up.    Who were these Kana'im?  Rav Shimshon Pincus describes them as thirteen Yeshiva boys.   What were they thinking?  Were they mad?  Why didn't they just say some Tehilim or commit to learn an extra hour of Gemara each day to ward off the evil enemy?

Rav Elchonon Wasserman Hy"d explains that on Purim Haman wanted to physically wipe out the entire Klal Yisroel.  This he says is a gezeira from Shamayim, "Maasei Hashem".  It is a wakeup call from Hashem that it is time to do tshuvah or else.  Our response in such a circumstance is not to wage war but rather to mend our ways.  That is the whole goal of the evil decree.  Chanukah on the other hand, he says, is called "Maasei Satan".  It is not a decree against our physical existence, it is a battle waged against religion.  A response of Tefila and tshuvah is not appropriate in this case.  Here we need to go out defend "Kavod Shamayim", with no concern for our physical well being, up the point of Mesiras Nefesh.  We need to make a statement that without our Torah, life is simply not worth living.  Our personal existence is not important to us, we live for Hashem.   

So why, asks Rav Shimshon, are there no Macabim today?  We live in a time where a battle is being waged on many fronts against authentic Torah MiSinai.  Why do our tens of thousands of potential Macabi recruits stay in Yeshiva learning and not get up and fight the fight of their lives?  Rav Shimshon explains that for a number of reasons we are not suitable warriors for the cause. A real Kana'i needs to possess some critical qualifications.

First and foremost he needs to know what he is fighting for.  Does it really bother us if another Jew is Michalel Shabbos?  He will tell you that you should keep Shabbos and mind your own business about what he does.  Do you have a good answer for that question?  Why does it really bother you?  Do we understand what it means that Hashem's Kavod is being violated?  Does it cause a true "torahdike" rage to well up inside us.  (If yes, we are probably the type that gets up for Tikun Chatzos and mourns bitter tears over the Shechina's pain of being in Galus.  We probably don't speak Lashon Hara since Hashem hates that.  We probably never answer back anyone who insults us because Hashem really loves those kinds of people.  Let's not forget to mention that our mind is constantly thinking only about learning and our love for Hashem and never about ourselves.) 

A kana'i needs to be truly fearless.  If a weak man was confronted by a strong thug demanding his money he would quickly relent knowing he has no chance.  But if the thug wanted to take his son he would fight him despite the odds of winning, even risking his life.  How do view the Chilul Hashem that is commonplace today; like an assault on our car or on our children?  Are you willing to tell someone off if there is chance that he will pull out a gun and put a bullet through your head just for bugging him?  Even if no one were looking and no one would ever find out about it?  A real Macabi would.

Back them before waging war they fasted and davened.  Are we disturbed to the point of starving ourselves over our distress that some of our brother's are virulently anti-religious?  How many tears have we spilled for them in our tefilos?  Do we yearn for a world where Kavod Hashem is everywhere or are we satisfied that we ourselves are more or less following the basic rules.

These are just a few points Rav Shimshon makes (Sichos Chanukah: "Milchemes Mesiras Nefesh" pg. 94) about the issue he was coming to address.  Our purpose in this article is not to figure out whether we could or should wage war against anyone.  Rather our purpose is to create a measuring stick to view our own lives.  Wherever we are holding in life and whatever mitzvos are applicable to our time, place, and standing in life we need to ask ourselves where exactly we rank compared to the Macabim.  The ultimate level of Avodas Hashem is to become a soldier in his army.  For this you need to have already won the personal battle raging within you and now turn it outward to the world at large. 

The Macabim were so wrapped up in service of Hashem that they were able to pick up the flag and totally give their lives and future over to the cause.  How loyal are we in the way we serve Hashem?  It can range from going through the motions without any heart to strict performance and even further yet to total dedication.  Using the Macabi standard of loyalty we should imagine ourselves being interviewed in the Macabi recruitment office and ask ourselves if we'd be accepted.

Sun, 09 Dec 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Shimshon Pincus Zt"l: His Life Unmasked The World, His Death Clouded It

"Sheker" roared Rav Shimshon Pincus as a response to his own statement that the "the way of the world is that shleppers drive a beat up Chevy while the smooth operator ends up driving the Cadillac." We need to be able see through the smoke screen of this world and see Hashem's hand behind it. There is no such thing as nature or the "way of the world." There is nothing in the world that doesn't happen without Hashem's divine plan. Hashem Echad!

He took the world as we know it, toyed with it, unmasked it, and showed us what really lay behind it. He was able to change our perception of things leaving us without a doubt as to what the truth was. He knew what life was all about and was able to paint a true picture where every detail fit neatly inside. He turned religion for us from a belief system where we tried our best to live our lives based on the "truths" that we were taught and drilled them into our heart leaving us without a shadow of a doubt. He made it all seem so obvious and simple that you would wonder why you were so confused until then. "Hashem Echad", this was the essence of Rav Shimshon Pincus zt"l.

A true loving relationship hinges more on not doing the things that upset each other more so than doing a bunch of loving, caring, and wonderful things yet causing hurt and pain without thinking twice. "Hashem Elokeinu" means that he is you personal Hashem who is close to you and loves you. To Rav Shimshon, Hashem was not a far off king who you needed "protexia" to petition. Hashem was here and now. Hashem is standing next to you as if you are the only thing in the world. He is waiting for you to call. He is yearning for your attention. And like the loving father He is there is no doubt that he will respond. When you heard Rav Shimshon speak you saw it in his eyes and heard it in his voice. That is how he lived his life. 100% dveykus, emunah, and bitachon all day every day. From our end of the relationship he demanded you to stay far away from any practices that Hashem hates no matter how much chesed and torah you did today. If you love Hashem you don't annoy him. "Hashem Elokeinu", this was the essence of Rav Shimshon Pincus zt"l.

Rav Pincus gave his life and soul to travel the globe to spread the message. His speeches captivated audiences across all the continents and changed the lives of many "frum" bnei torah and more distant Jews as well. "Shema Yisroel", this was the essence of Rav Shimshon Pincus zt"l.

His life was all about "Shema Yisroel Hashem Elokeinu hashem Echad"

He returned his pure neshama back to "his" Hashem on his drive back home from one of his fiery drashos the night before bedikas chametz together with his wife and daughter. While people cringed at the wreckage from the horrific car accident, in his typical way he probably sat in Shamayim screaming "Sheker!" There is no doubt he died a Misas Nishika, as Hashem gently took the souls of his faithful folllower and placed it safely before the Kisei HaKavod while the lifeless bodies played out the details of the false picture painted by a world of inaccurate images. Unfortunately our master Rav Shimshon was not there to explain this to us, a generation of bereft orphans who so desperately need his guidance.

Sun, 02 Dec 2007 03:00:00 +0000