Revach L'Neshama RSS feed for - Section: AVODAH Category:OLAM HATORAH Copyright 2007, Revach L'Neshama en-US Revach L'Neshama Logo 144 31 Fri, 03 Dec 2021 03:00:00 +0000 240 The Ponevezher Rov Teaches The Children How To Remember Their Name On Yom HaDin One time when the Ponevezher Rov, Rav Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman, came to visit the children of the orphanage, as they all gathered around him he asked them if they know why we say a pasuk with the first and last letter of our name at the end of Shmoneh Esrei.  One child raised his hand and answered that the Shela HaKadosh says it will help us remember our name, when they ask us at our Yom HaDin in Shamayim.

The Ponevezher Rov nodded his agreement and asked another question.  If our friends and teachers call us tens of times a day by our name and we still won't remember it while standing in awe and fear at our Yom HaDin, how can we expect to remember it because of a Pasuk that we say only three times a day? 

This the children could not answer.  "Listen carefully", said the Ponevezher Rov.  The fear of standing at Yom HaDin is so great that we will forget everything, even our own name.  The only thing w will remember are the things etched in our hearts and minds for eternity, and that is only Torah.  Even the pasukim that we say at the end of Shmoneh Esrei is Torah.  That will remain with us even during the mind blowing ordeal of Yom HaDin. 

During our lifetime when preparing for our Yom HaDin we should make sure to fill up our bags with things that will remain with us, such as Torah, even in the minutest pieces.  Everything else will not survive the journey no matter how tightly we hold on to it, even our own name.

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Trumah: Rav Moshe Feinstein - Make Yourself Big, but don't Take up Space

Chazal tell us (Yuma 21a) that the Aron HaKodesh took up no space in the Kodesh HaKedashim. If you measured from each side of the Aron to the wall, you would get the total of the entire area, with no space left for the area the Aron sat on. This was a great Nes.

Rav Moshe Feinstein in Darash Moshe asks, if the Aron which held the Luchos took no space then certainly the Luchos themselves should warrant such a miracle and take no space. Yet the Gemara in Bava Basra (14a) tells us specifically that the Luchos filled up the entire space inside the Aron.

We learn from here, says Rav Moshe, a very important lesson. A person must be like the Aron Kodesh. He must fill up his entire being with Torah. If he leaves any part of himself lacking Torah and does not learn the Torah in its entirety, then he will be "missing something" and will be rendered incomplete.

However after he has filled himself with Torah he needs to act with total modesty. He needs to take the major heft that he has imbued himself with, and act as if he takes up no space. And on the flip side he must also realize that the precious Torah he has filled himself with, is "Kulo Ruchni" pure spirituality, and stands above any boundaries and space in this world.

Wed, 10 Feb 2016 03:00:00 +0000
The Paradox of Rewarding Torah Study

In the first parsha of Shema it says that you must love Hashem, "בכל לבבך ובל נפשך ובכל מאודך", with all your heart, soul, and your physical possessions. In the second parsha it say you must love Hashem, בכל לבבכם ובכל נפשכם", omitting the requirement to love Hashem with your possessions. Why?

Rav Mattisyahu Solomon in his Sefer on the 48 Kinyanei HaTorah explains, that a central aspect of acquiring Torah She Baal Peh is limiting ones pleasures in this world, including sleep, food, and even business. Indulging in worldly pleasures is a contradiction to acquiring Torah, which is only acquired through toil and deprivation.

Therefore says the Medrash Tanchuma (Noach 2), the first parsha of Shema which refers to learning Torah SheBaal Peh, as it says "the words that I command you should be in your heart", requires that you sacrifice your possessions. However, the second parsha is referring to keeping the other mitzvos, and to accomplish that one need not in principle sacrifice his worldly possessions. All that is required is heart and soul.

Furthermore this why the second parsha talks about earthly rewards, while the first parsha does not, for these rewards would thwart further growth in Torah. The reward for learning Torah can only be paid in divine pleasures and is reserved for Olam Haba!

Tue, 21 Apr 2015 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Gamliel Rabinowitz - A Measure of Comfort in Real Poverty

Dovid HaMelech says in Tehilim (119:49), זאת נחמתי מעניי כי אמרתך חיתני, this is my comfort in my poverty for your words keep me alive. This seems to imply that wealth is the goal in life, and Dovid HaMelech is consoling himself that at least he has Torah. If a person has Torah and lives in poverty does he need comfort? On the contrary, maybe a wealthy person who has no Torah can comfort himself that at least he has material comforts in this world if not the next. What is Dovid HaMelech trying to teach us here?

The famed Mekubal Rav Gamliel Rabinowitz says that we can explain B'Derech Remez that Dovid HaMelech is teaching us a valuable lesson about our need to keep learning at some level no matter our situation in life. He explains that in fact עניי in this case refers to poverty in Torah, as the gemara Nedarim (41a) says, "אין עני אלא בדעה" a poor person is one who is lacking knowledge and wisdom. During difficult times, he says, a person must keep learning even if his learning is not on the level it was during his better days. A person who goes out to work and cannot plumb the depths of the Talmud can still learn each day on some level. Or even a Yeshiva who has a difficult day and is forced to be outside Yeshiva can still pick up a sefer and learn something. Moreover even a person who does not have the intellect, the experience, or the fortitude to learn in depth, can and must learn Torah on his own level.

This is what Dovid is teaching us. Dovid uses the word אמרתך as opposed to לימודתך, your words as opposed to your teachings. Even if a person is only capable of a poor shallow reading of the gemara as opposed to toiling over its intricacies, still the words of Hashem's Torah bring him comfort and can carry him over until the good days return once more.

Maybe we can add that this is the meaning of the following pasuk as well. זדים הליצוני עד מאוד, the wicked and haughty ones will laugh at my low level of learning, yet מתורתך לא נטיתי, from your Torah, at any level, I will not stray. For Torah is close to my heart, as it is my connection with you, and not a crown to glorify myself with. Even if it means that when I learn people will laugh!

Sun, 05 Apr 2015 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Yeruchom: When Accepting The Torah Became a Matter of Life of Death

The gemara (Shabbos 87a) tells us, "SheKafa Aleihem Hakadosh Baruch Hu Es HaHar K'Gigis". At Har Sinai Hashem held the mountain over Bnei Yisroel and told us that if we accept the Torah all will be well, but if we don't then we will die. Why was this necessary given that a few days earlier we all jubilantly proclaimed in unison Naaseh V'nishma?

Rav Yeruchom Levovitz (Maamarim Mishpatim) explains as follows. We know that there are levels of creation; inadamate objects, things that grow, living creatures, and humans who speak. Each one is a step above the one below. What happens when the creation fails to live up to its level? If a flower stops growing it does not become inadamate, rather it dies and disintegrates. The same goes for an animal that is no longer alive. It doesn't continue to grow, nor does it remain in its same state, it decomposes.

Klal Yisroel is in a class apart from the rest of humanity, as we are a creation called "Yisroel". Yisroel is defined as Hashem's people, the people who live by the Torah. The ramification of this is that as soon as we stop living by the Torah we don't lose our status as Yisroel and become just another human being. That is not the way it works. Rather we slowly disintegrate into a nothing.

After Bnei Yisroel joyfully accepted the Torah, Hashem taught us this crucial lesson. As Torah Jews we must live by the Torah for without it we lose our entire purpose and being. We don't have an option to give up our uniqueness and live like the rest of humanity. Relinquishing our status of Yisroel is tantamount to forfeiting existence itself.

Fri, 06 Feb 2015 03:00:00 +0000
If You Promise He'll Be The Next Reichmann! The Mashgiach Rav Dov Yaffe tells a story about a father who wanted to pull his son out of Yeshiva. In a very innocent and honest way the father told the Rosh Yeshiva that if the Rosh Yeshiva truly believes that his son will become a big Rosh Yeshiva one day he will gladly let him stay in learning and support him. However if not then he should leave Yeshiva and come to work.

The Rosh Yeshiva considered the concept and posed the following to the father. He said, I accept your thinking but why don't we turn the tables. If you are convinced that your son will become the next Reichmann, then by all means take him to work. But if not, you may as well let him stay here where he can learn Torah.

Tue, 18 Dec 2012 03:00:00 +0000
Maharsha - The Four Lameds of Learning Torah The letter Lamed represents "Limud" HaTorah. The Maharsha (Nedarim 62b) says that if you spell out each of the letters of the Aleph Bais as they are named, there are only four letters that contain the letter Lamed in them. Aleph, Gimel, Dalet, and Lamed. Each of these letters represents a type of person who learns Torah.

Aleph is Aluph or learned person. The first type of person learns in order that people should recognize and praise him as a Talmid Chochom.

Gimel is Gmul or reward. Some people learn Torah because they appreciate the eternal reward they will get in Olam Haba.

Dalet is like Dal or poor person. Torah like everything else can be looked at as a money making opportunity. Some people make Torah a profession to support their families and avoid poverty.

Lamed is for Limud or learning for the sake of learning and for love of Hashem. This is the kind of Torah we all should learn.

Wed, 21 Nov 2012 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Binyomin Finkel & Rav Mattisyahu Solomon - 48 Way To Acquire Torah But Not Tefila?

The Mishna in Pirkei Avos says that Torah is acquired in 48 ways, consisting of Middos, Yiras Shamayim, and teaching methods, including things like humility, happiness, learning with others and from a Rebbi, and more. Yet prominently missing from this long list is Tefila. How is it possible that Tefila, which is the answer to all problems, did not make the top 48?

Rav Binyomin Finkel says that the reason Tefila is not on the list is because Tefila is needed for all 48 ways. In order to manage to accomplish even one of the things on this list you need to Hashem daven for help.

Rav Mattisyahu Solomon has a different approach. The Mishna in Pirkei Avos says there are three pillars of the world, Torah, Tefila, and Gemilus Chasadim. These three pillars, says Rav Mattisyahu, are all completely interrelated, and success in any one depends on success in the other two. We often think that we need to daven in order that Hashem should give us the things we so desperately need or want. Quite the opposite is true says Rav Mattisyahu. Hashem holds back our needs from us in order that we should daven, for if we didn't daven the world would cease to exist. Therefore he explains that our lack of Torah is in order to force us to daven, meaning the purpose of davening for Torah is not only to acquire Torah but for the davening's sake itself.

Thu, 03 May 2012 03:00:00 +0000
Pirkei Avos - Rav Zemele Volozhin Waits for the Music

The Mishna in pirkei Avos (4:7) says "Kol HaNeheneh MiDivrei Torah Notel Chayav Min HaOlam", whoever enjoys for himself Divrei Torah is taken from this world. The literal understanding is that if you use Torah for your personal use you have used the Kings crown and deserve to die.

Rav Nachman of Breslov has an interesting twist B'Derech Drush. He says anyone who truly enjoys learning Torah knows what Heavenly pleasure is and removes himself from all earthly pleasure. Materialism no longer speaks to him.

The Yeina Shel Torah tells the story of Rav Zemele Volozhin who came to town because his brother Rav Chaim was making a wedding. Rav Chaim wanted his brother to enjoy so he told him he would send over the band to his room to play some music for him.

The band entered while Rav Zemele was deep in torah thought, but they thought he was just sitting there waiting for them since he had no sefer opened before him. They began to play and got really lebedig with Rav Zemele sitting before them.

After they left Rav Chaim came in and asked Rav Zemele how he enjoyed. Rav Zemele told him that the band did not arrive yet! Rav Zemele was lost in another world and didn't even here the ruckus before him!

Thu, 10 Nov 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Rebbi Akiva Eiger's Vacation To Remember Every now and then you read a story that makes you realize what it means, and what it takes, to truly become a Gadol BaTorah.  Rebbi Akiva Eiger was not in great health and his children wanted to take him to a place with fresh air, to get away and rejuvenate his ebbing strength.  But how would they convince him of this?  First of all how would they approach him since he was always busy learning.  Even if they would interrupt him, there was no way he would agree to go.

The decided to make all the arrangements without telling him and at the appointed time a carriage waited outside the house.  His son went him and took his father and walked with him to the carriage.  Rebbi Akiva Eiger walked with him while continuing to be immersed in his learning.  They got into the carriage and were off to the mountains.  When they arrived at the inn, they took Rebbi Akiva Eiger up to his room and sat him on a couch facing a window with a view of the mountains.  All the time he continued learning without paying any attention to his new surroundings.

Finally after sitting on the couch for a while, he turned to his son and asked, "where is the baby?"  No one understood what he wanted.  Finally they figured out that since he was seated on the couch, he though he was called to be Sandak at a Bris and was waiting for the baby so that they can perform the Bris and he can get back home to his learning.

Tue, 11 Oct 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Re'eh: Kotzker Rebbe, Rav Sholom Schwadron, & Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky - A Torah for All, But a Torah for One

"Re'eh Anochi Nosein Lifneichem", see that I have given before you (Re'eh 11:26). All the meforshim ask, why does the pasuk start in the singular and end in the plural? The Kotzker Rebbe answers as follows. The pasuk refers to two experiences of the Torah. "Nosein", the giving of the Torah and "Re'eh", the seeing and understanding.

When it comes to the giving of the Torah, it was given to everyone in Am Yisroel together. It belongs to all of us and we are all responsible to learn it. However when it comes to the actual learning, each person is an individual. Each person must plumb the depths with all the talents bestowed on him. He cannot satisfy himself with a level of knowledge of the average man. "V'Sein CHelkeinu B'Sorasecha", each person has his own cheilek that he is responsible for.

In this vain quipped the legendary Rav Shalom Schwadron, the beauty of our Torah is that both a five year old child and an eighty year old man study the same holy words. The sad part is that they learn it with the same initial understanding. Similarly Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky would say, we must advance past our shallow vision of the stories of Parshios as our Rebbe taught us in Cheider.

Mon, 22 Aug 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Why Did The Torah Only Give One Day Of Shavuos? The Torah says that the celebration of the great miracles of Pesach is seven days and the happiness of Succos lasts eight days. Yet for the precious Chag of Shavuos when Hashem gave us the greatest gift of all, the gift that preceded the universe and is the basis of the world, we only have a Yom Tov of one day. Why is this?

Rav Yonah Metzger answers with the Mishna in Pirkei Avos. The Mishna (2:5) says, "V'Al Toimar K'SheEfneh Eshneh Shema Lo Tipaneh", I will learn when I have time, because maybe you will never have time. Torah learning is the lifeblood of a person. It is not a task that must be taken care of at some point in time. Every moment is a new obligation. One who pushes off his immediate obligation will inevitably continue to push it off forever.

Shavuos is the great day of Kabalas HaTorah. If there would be seven days Yom Tov we'd take it easy on the first day knowing we have a whole Yom Tov ahead of us. With Torah there is no time ahead of us, we must embrace it here and now. Hashem gave us one day, if we accept the Torah on that day, it is with us for the rest of the year. If we miss our chance, Shema Lo Tipaneh, we may not get another opportunity

Mon, 06 Jun 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Naso: Rav Moshe Feinstein - Taking The Inside Voice To The World

"U'Bivoi Moshe El Ohel Mo'ed Vayishma Es HaKol..." (Naso 7:89). Rashi explains that Moshe would come to the Ohel Mo'ed and then he would here Hashem's voice from above the Kapores. Rav Moshe Feinstein explains what Rashi is trying to teach us.

Surely, says Rav Moshe, the entire creation is a testament to Hashem. Hashem's hand, the Hashgacha Elyona, can be seen in everything that happens to us. Everyone can see it, but not everyone understands what they are witnessing which leads to erroneous interpretation. When can you see it? Only after you've been to the Bais Medrash and filled your mind with Torah. Only then can you go to the outside world where everything now appears crystal clear.

This is the lesson learned from Moshe. The voice he heard emanated from on top of the Aron, from the Torah itself. Moshe was carefully attuned to that voice. Therefore the voice traveled to him outside the Paroches, where with that voice he was able to stand outside and see everything clearly.

Mon, 30 May 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Bamidbar: Chesed L'Avrohom - Yisachar Rises From The Desert Floor

The name of the Nasi of Shevet Yisachar was Nisanel ben Tzuar. The Chesed L'Avrohom (Iturei Torah) explains the meaning of this name. Yisachar was the Shevet of Lomdei Torah and provided the Talmidei Chachomim for the Sanhedrin. How did they reach such heights?

The gemara (Eruvin 54) tells us the pasuk U'Mimdbar Matana teachs us that Torah is a Matana, a gift from Hashem. Whoever considers himself like the Midbar, dust of the desert floor that is stepped on by all and does not complain become the recipient of Hashems's precious gift, the Torah.

Tzuar is like the word Tza'ir, small. Yisachar was ben Tza'ir, they held themselves to be very small. Therefore Nesanel or Nosan Keil, Hashem gave them his Torah.

Tue, 24 May 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Titzaveh: Rav Shimshon Pincus - Asking Permission To Be Ultra Frum

On the bottom of the Me'il there were bells. The Ramban explains that these bells were the Kohen Gadol's way of asking permission before entering the Kodesh to perform the avodah. Yet a Kohen Hedyot had no bells, why did he not need to receive permission before entering?

Rav Shimshon Pincus explains that the Kohen Gadol's avodah represented lofty avodah beyond what is expected. The Torah is teaching us that in order to undertake Chasidus and Prishus a person must be worthy. He can receive permission only after obtaining a certain level of tzidkus. Therefore the Kohen Gadol needs to announce his request to avodah and receive permission.

On the other hand the Kohen Hedyot's avodah represented the obligations of every Jew. When it comes to fulfilling our obligations as a Jew, we don't need permission. The fact that we are not perfect in one area does not exclude us from anything else. Therefore the Kohen Hedyot needs no introduction.

Interestingly says Rav Shimshon, on Yom Kippur when the Kohen Gadol goes into the Kodesh HaKodashim his begadim have no bells. How can he go into the holiest place of them all unannounced? Rav Shimshon answers that the Aron represents Torah learning. Learning Torah is the holiest thing man can do. It is like bonding with Hashem Himself. One would think that only tzaddikim who have never sinned can go that close the fire without getting singed. Here also the Torah is teaching us an important lesson. To learn Torah no one needs any permission. No matter who you are or what you have done, you may enter the gates of Torah, as the crown of Torah is there for anyone's taking.

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Truma: Ksav Sofer - The Aron & The Menora, Two Kinds Of Learners

The Shulchan with its bread represents wealth, and the Menora and its lights represent the light of Torah. The Ksav Sofer says in the name of his father who brought it from an early peirush, that the Shulchan is written in the Parsha before the Menora because the supporters of Torah need to come first to pave the way and finance Torah. Yisachar cannot learn without Zevulun's support.This is why the Torah mentions Zevulun the businessman before his brother Yisachar the learner.

If so asks the Ksav Sofer why is the Aron written first? It too represents Torah so shouldn't it be preceded by the Shulchan? He answers that there are two kinds of learners. One can only learn if he receives proper financial support but the other learns whether he has support or not. An example of the latter is Rebbi Chanina ben Dosa who was penniless yet his Torah sustained the whole world.

This kind of Talmid Chochom is like the Aron. He has the Luchos inside of him and sits alone in the Kodesh Kodashim, receiving nothing from anyone but radiating goodness onto the world with his Torah. The Menorah is also a Talmid Chochom but he needs support to learn. He come only after the Shulchan. While he too is Kadosh and has a coveted place inside the Mishkan, still he has not reached the glorious status of the Aron which lies in the Kodesh HaKodahsim and lives only with Hashem.

Fri, 04 Feb 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Truma: Maharsham - A Talmid Chochom Must Have Worldly Wisdom

The Menora had seven branches, but needed to be made out of one solid piece of gold that was hammered into shape. Why was this so essential? Why couldn't it be made out of separate chunks of gold to make it easier to make?

The Maharsham (Tcheiles Mordechai) explains that these seven branches represent the seven secular wisdoms of the world. The Menora represents Torah and a talmid chochom must know all these wisdoms. If each branch was developed separately and then added to the menora, one would think that a talmid chochom must study each one of these subjects independently in order to complete his wisdom.

Hashem cmmanded Moshe to make the seven branches by shaping it out of one piece, the Torah. One must study Torah, and from plumbing the depths of the Torah he can know all the wisdom of the world, if he is willing to work hard and bang and shape himself.

Mon, 31 Jan 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Yisro: Maharsham - Flying Higher Than High On The Wings Of Eagles

When Moshe Rabbeinu went up to take the Torah the Malachim complained. The Maharsham in Tcheiles Mordechai brings that they were upset that Moshe had ascended higher than them and stood between them and Hashem. This is what the gemara in Shabbos (88b) brings that the Malachim said "MaL'Yilud Isha Beineinu?", how dare the child born to a human stand between us and Hashem.

Moshe's salvation from the angry Malachim was to hold on to the Kisei HaKavod. On of the four tzuros in the Kisei was of Yaakov. He was showing that Yaakov already fought with a Malach (of Eisav) and was victorious and his images in engraved above the Malachim in the Kisei HaKavod.

Both Yaakov and Moshe were the Koach HaTorah. With the Koach HaTorah a mortal man can rise above Malachim. This is alluded to in the Pasuk (Yisro 18:4) where as the prelude to Matan Torah Hashem tells Bnei Yisroel, "VaEsa Es'chem Al Kanfei Nesharim", if you accept the Torah I will lift you up on the wings of eagles. "VaAvi Es'chem Eilai", and I will will bring directly to me, even higher than the Malachim.

Fri, 21 Jan 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Boruch Ber To Rome & Persia - We Know The Real Truth! The gemara (Avodah Zara 2a) says that L'asid Lavo, Hashem will take out a Sefer Torah and clutch it. He will then declare that whoever toiled in it should come and claim his reward. All the nations will unabashedly line up and plead their case. Rome will brag about the marketplaces, bathhouses, and their gold and silver. Persia will boast of the bridges they built and the wars they waged, and so and so forth.

Rav Boruch Ber Liebowitz asked, how dare they stand before Hashem and present the ridiculous claim that they did this for the sake of Torah? He answers that while we don't understand world event now during the darkness of the Galus, we know and believe that everything that happens is for our sake, for the sake of the Torah. L'Asid Lavo, Hashem will reveal himself and there will be clarity and truth and nothing else. This truth will shed light on the Galus and we will be able to see how things were orchestrated purely for our benefit.

Based on this new realization the vicious Romans and brutal Persians will use this to claim their reward. After all everything they did was for the Torah. The Brisker Rov commented that even with the benefit of hindsight, the gemara says that Hashem threw them out and called them Shotim SheBaolam. Don't try to claim reward for Hashem's work. Your work was purely for yourselves as you indulged in the pleasure of abusing the people of the Torah.  "Chutzpah" thundered the Brisker Rov!

Thu, 25 Nov 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Noach - Why Didn't The Fish Die In The Mabul?

Every single living creature on earth outside the teiva during the Mabul died, except for the fish.  The explanation for the destruction of innocent animals is that the world is created to revolve around mankind and man influences his environment.  Man's corrupt ways spreads unconsciously even to animal that do not possess intelligence to make any decisions.  Such is the power of humanity.

Why were the fish spared?  Why were they protected from man's influence?  Many explain that since they lived alone and not with man, the influence did not spread to them.  However most living creature live far away from civilization and have never been in a 100 mile radius of a human.  Why were the animals in the middle of the desert, the beasts of the Himalayas, the species living in a remote island in the South Pacific, or the living creatures in Antarctica killed?  Were they more influenced by man then the fish swimming off the Mediterranean coast?

Maybe we can offer B'Derech Drush as follows.  It is impossible for anyone to hermetically seal himself from bad surroundings.  No matter how strongly we protest and fight off bad ideas and negative influences, when society degenerates a level, the top of society goes down as well although no one notices because they are all focusing on he bottom of the totem pole.  

There is only one way to prevent yourself from falling and even elevating yourself in this period of decay, to immerse yourself in Torah.  If your life is Torah you will protected from all that goes on around you and continue to soar to lofty levels even as the world crumbles around you.

Ein Mayim Elah Torah.  Water is compared to Torah.  While animals that never came face to face with mankind disintegrated with the rot of human behavior, the fish who were immersed in water were able to come face to face with mankind and not be influence the slightest bit. They were in a world of their own, a world of water or Torah.

Tue, 05 Oct 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Anyone Can Cry, But Rav Meshulam Igra Knows How To Learn Rav Aharon Kotler once told over the following story on Chol Hamoed Succos at a Simchas Beis Hashoeva.  Two baalei batim once approached the great Gaon Rav Meshulam Igra in Tismenitz with a halachic dispute, which was extremely complicated.  Rav Igra pondered the case for a considerable amount of time, but eventually told the men that they would have to return the next day so he would have more time to judge the case.  However, the two men, who lived in another town, did not have time to delay their trip home, and instead they decided to travel home and consult their own Rav. 

The men traveled home and went directly to their Rav.  The Rav was a talmid chacham but had never encountered such a difficult case.  He told the men to wait, and enclosed himself in a private room.  Shortly later, he left the room, and explained his psak.  The psak was satisfactory to the two men and they left in peace.

A few months later the two men traveled to Tismenitz again on business.  They decided to take the opportunity to ask Rav Meshulam how he had judged their dispute which he had deemed too difficult to judge in one day.  They went to ask Rav Meshulam, and it turned out that his psak was the exact psak that their own Rav had ruled.  When the two men heard the psak, they looked at each other meaningfully.  Rav Meshulam asked them to explain themselves, and couldn’t hold themselves back from telling him that their Rav had reached the same psak after a half hour.  

When Rav Meshulam heard that a Rav of one of the small towns had judged such a difficult case in such a short amount of time, he said to himself, “This must be an awesome Gaon in our generation and I must acquaint myself with him.”  Rav Meshulam didn’t delay and he immediately traveled to that Rav.  When he reached his home, he entered with awe and stood before him with great humility, like a talmid in front of his Rav.  He began talking with the Rav and asked him how he was able to solve such a complicated matter, when he himself had to delay until the next day.

The Rav answered him, “It’s true; I had no idea how to judge the dispute, and I became very distraught.  I entered a private room, and began crying and pleading with Hashem for rachamim.  I said before Hashem, ‘I’m the Rav in this town and the baalei habatim are unable to discern between a difficult or light matter.  If  I’m unable to provide a solution for them, it will cause a chillul Hashem, chas vechalila.’  I then approached the bookshelf, and min hashamayim they answered me that I immediately found an old sefer which presented a similar case, and that’s how I ruled!”

When Rav Meshulam heard this, he immediately arose to leave, and said, “To cry?  I also know how to cry, but for the Torah one must labor and toil!”     (Shaal Avicha Veyegadcha)

Sun, 26 Sep 2010 03:00:00 +0000
The Minchas Chinuch - No Time Even For Mishnayos!
Rav Elazar Reinman the Rav of Galagov said that when he received Smicha from his Rebbi the Maharsham, he told him that surely as a descendent of Holy people he will soon start to learn Zohar and pilpulim on Shas.  However, warned the Maharsham, if he does spend his time learning these things he will need to one day give a Din V'Cheshbon on that time.  He explained that as a Rov, he has a non-stop obligation to the Tzibbur to spend every moment of his time learning Psak Halacha with all the Meforshim.

The Maharsham said that his Rebbi, the Minchas Chinuch, told him that during the week by Korbanos he should say the Mishnayos of Eizehu Mikoman Shel Zevachim because saying these Mishnayos is considered like bringing the actual Korban.  However, said the Minchas Chinuch, on Shabbos we don't bring these Korbanos so saying Eizehu Mikoman on Shabbos is purely Torah Lishma.  Therefore since you are a Rov you may not say this on Shabbos since your role does not allow you spend your time learning Mishnayos.   Rather during this time, as the tzibbur says Eizehu Mikoman, you should be learning Hora'ah.

Thu, 02 Sep 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Elya Lopian - The Chofetz Chaim Explains The Travels & Travails Of Fundraisers
Rav Eliyahu Lopian (Lev Eliyahu Parshas Ki Seitzei) explains from Chazal that without Torah a person cannot come to life by Techias HaMeisim.  הָקִיצוּ וְרַנְּנוּ שֹׁכְנֵי עָפָר, כִּי טַל אוֹרֹת טַלֶּךָ (Yeshaya 26:18).  Ohr is Torah and that is the Tal, the dew that Hashem will sprinkle on us to arouse of from our slumber at the time of Techias HaMeisim.  A person could be the finest example of a human being and even perform many mitzvos, but without Torah he cannot wake up from death.

Rav Eliyahu says that he once heard the Chofetz Chaim ask, why must fundraisers for the Yeshivos travel to every forsaken corner of the world to raise money?  The Chofetz Chaim even rattled off names of rich people right there in Radin who were more than capable of supporting all the needs of the Yeshiva.  It is because of Hashem's rachmanus, said the Chofetz Chaim.

Many people living in these far away villages are fine people but they have never learned a single word of Torah.  These people would not get up by Techias HaMeisim.  When the Mishulach comes collecting part of his pitch is saying some Divrei Torah.  It is these Divrei Torah that will spark life in these people LeAsid Lavo.

Tue, 17 Aug 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Skulener Rebbe: Adapting The Torah For Modern Times
The Skulener Rebbe, Rav Eliezer Zusya Portugal said that the Apikursim say the Torah is outdated.  It was written for a time that has long gone by.  The world has progressed and the Torah was only appropriate in the olden days.  The truth is that the Torah was given by Hashem who not only knew the future, but shaped and sculpted history from the beginning to the end of time.  His blueprint?  The Torah!

Torah is made for every generation and each generation has it own challenge.  The Torah was never in vogue in any generation, and has been so-called outdated since the day it was given.  It is our job to find the relevancy of Torah in our lives, and not for us to measure the Torah's compatibility within today's society.  We shape our lives from the Torah's point of view and then build the rest around it.

When we come to Shamayim they will ask us Kavata Itim LaTorah (Shabbos 31a).  Simply this means did you set aside time for the Torah?  The Skulener Rebbe says that we can interpret this B'Derech Drush to mean that they will ask us, did you set your time and your lifestyle to be compatible and relevant for Torah even in your modern sophisticated society.  The Torah is a Torah for all Itim for all times, but did you not get it?

Mon, 09 Aug 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Eikev: Chofetz Chaim - When The Enemy Takes Away Your Ammunition
הִשָּׁמְרוּ לָכֶם פֶּן יִפְתֶּה לְבַבְכֶם וְסַרְתֶּם, וַעֲבַדְתֶּם אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים, watch yourself that your heart does not persuade you and turn and worship Avodah Zara (Eikev 11:16).  Rashi says that וְסַרְתֶּם means to turn from Torah which will lead you straight to Avodah Zara.  

Chazal tell us that the Yetzer Hara works in very slow and deliberate increments turning you from Hashem one baby step at a time.  How could Rashi say that the pasuk is telling us that stopping to learn Torah will lead us to the worst aveira of Avoda Zara in one fell swoop? 

Rav Elchonon Wasserman relates a Mashal from the Chofetz Chaim.  In war when one side wins a battle over the enemy it doesn't guarantee that the war is over.  The other side can lift itself off the floor to win the next battle and ultimately win the war.  However if when victorious in battle one side manages to take away all the ammunition from their opponent, then the war is over.

Similarly with our war against the Yetzer Hara he may win many battles, but the war is not over.  He carefully fights many small battles until we find ourselves weak and trapped in the web that he has woven around us. Yet we can still ultimately save ourselves and be victorious because we have the greatest weapon of all, the Torah.  However once he wrestles the Torah away from us we have no chance.  As soon as we turn from the Torah we fall straight into the hands of Avodah Zara.

Fri, 30 Jul 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Nachman MiBreslov - Stealing Torah From Your Boss
The gemara in Shabbos (31a) says that when a person comes to Shamayim they will ask him "Kavata Itim La'Torah?"  This means simply, did you set aside Torah each day?  A novel Pshat is said in the name of Rav Nachman MiBreslov.  The word Kava can also mean to steal.  The gemara in Rosh Hashana (26b) proves this from a Pasuk in Malachi (3:8) that asks, "HaYikva Adam Elokim", can a person steal from Hashem?

When a person comes to Shamayim they ask him why he did not learn more Torah.  Rav Nachman says that he will answer that he was busy working hard trying to support his family.  They will then ask him "Kavata Itim LaTorah" why did you not steal a few minutes here and there between tasks to "chap arein" a little learning?  

Stealing?  How can person steal time from his boss to learn Torah?  The answer to this can also answer the perplexing way Bais Din Shel Maala conducts their trial.  Before asking Kavata Itim LaTorah, the gemara says they ask you "Nasasa V'Nasata BeEmuna", did you deal honestly in business?  Maybe this question is not a question in its own right, but rather a set up for the next one.  First they prove that you indeed wasted time on the job.  You "chapped a shmuz" here, hung around by the coffee machine there, you took a few more moments for lunch than you should have, and you came late because you woke up late.  That being the case, they ask you, if you didn't consider a few brief moments and felt your boss did not mind then why didn't you do that for Torah?

Thu, 22 Jul 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Korach: Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky - For Torah's Sake Moshe Dreamt Up Tales Of An Earthquake Moshe Rabbeinu tells Korach that if Hashem doesn't do something extraordinary and unprecedented, then it is proof that Moshe is not really the Shaliach of Hashem. Yet we don't find anywhere Hashem assuring Moshe that he would do any sort of miracle for him to prove his righteousness. From where did Moshe get the courage to make such a bold prediction on his own? What would happen to Klal Yisroel and the Torah if Hashem didn't back him up and Moshe was proven to be a sham?

Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky answers that Moshe Rabbeinu felt he had no choice. After all that Moshe did in Mitzrayim, at the Yam Suf, and most of all on Har Sinai, there were already doubters that he was the Shaliach of Hashem and the Torah is from Shamayim. Moshe felt if he did not make the Torah's veracity absolutely clear to the current generation, he knew that in future generations who did not witness the great Nissim and Maamad Har Sinai, there was no chance that the Torah would have a Kiyum. It would be attacked and under fire from all sides until forgotten altogether.

Moshe knew that this bold approach may backfire but on the other hand it may work. Yet he was convinced that by keeping the status quo there was absolutely no chance that the Torah had a future. He therefore was ready to fall on his own sword and be Moseir Nefesh for the sake of the future of Torah.

Thu, 10 Jun 2010 03:00:00 +0000
The Brisker Rov Doesn't Know About Shema, But Knows About Closing A Gemara The Shulchan Aruch says that if a person does not say Krias Shema right before sunrise, he must still say it as early as possible and not wait until the Shiur.

Rav Michel Shurkin (Meged Givos Olam 2:3) tells a story that he heard from Rav Moshe Shmuel Shapira about someone who came to the Brisker Rov and told him that he has a chavrusa ( a fixed sesion of learning)(before davening.  He wanted to know if he may learn then or he must daven right away in order to say Shema as close to Netz HaChama as possible.

The Brisker Rov aswered that he did not know the answer to his question. However he said  "since there exists a  possibility of doubt, the general rule that I suggest that one  should follow is one never closes his gemara if there is the slightest doubt in the world that he must do so."

Thu, 03 Jun 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Chaim Volozhin - Shas Is Shas In the time of Rav Chaim of Volozhin, there was a baal habayis who had completed the entire Shas.  Rav Chaim would stand up for him when he would enter the room.  The talmidim of R' Chaim felt that it was an affront to his kavod to stand up for a baal habayis.  They protested to R' Chaim, saying that although the baal habayis did learn Shas and spent a lot of time learning, he didn't know the Shas in depth, so it was not respectful for a great Gaon like himself to stand up for him.

R' Chaim answered that there are two types of Shas - the Vilna Shas which was a beautiful Shas with a quality print, and another Shas printed in Poland which was of lesser quality with inferior print. Rav Chaim explained that if one had these two Shasim, he wouldn't say the inferior Shas is not a Shas -he would merely say it was not as beautiful.  Similarly, someone who knows Shas is someone who knows Shas, and therefore it's appropriate to treat him with the proper kavod.

Thu, 27 May 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Meir Shapiro: Torah's International Flavor When Bnei Yisroel arrived at Har Sinai the Torah says, "Vayichan Sham Yisroel Neged HaHar" (Yisro 19:2).  Rashi says the Torah uses the singular term for encamped because there was total achdus, "K'Ish Echad B'Lev Echad".  From here says Rav Meir Shapiro we see the Torah's marvelous power to unite in Achdus.

The world was created from the Torah that was used as a blueprint.  Achdus is something we find in the creation of Adam.  The gemara (Sanhedrin 38b) tells us that the earth that was used to create Adam came from all over the world.  His body was from Bavel, his head from Eretz Yisroel, and his limbs from the other countries.  He encapsulated the attributes of all the lands and they were united in mankind.

Similarly points out Rav Meir Shapiro, our gemara maintains this same international flavor.  The Mishna at the  top of a sugya(a talmudik discussion) is authored by Rebbi Yehuda HaNasi who composed it in Eretz Yisroel.  The gemara found below is from Bavel.  To the right and left are Rashi from Germany and Tosfos from France.  Around them are Meforshim that came from other lands.  

While to us, people and events all appear fragmented and disconnected, at Har Sinai the truth was revealed.  The Torah and the whole Bri'a echoed these most important words, "Hashem Echad".

Tue, 18 May 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Bichukosai: Rav Shimon Schwab - The Weaklings On The Front Lines Of The Battle "V'Radfu Mikem Chamisha Mei'a" (Bichukosai 26:8). When Bnei Yisroel keeps the Torah, five soldiers will chase 100 enemy soldiers. Rashi writes that this refers to the weak soldiers and not the strong ones. What are weak soldiers doing on the battle field, asks Rav Shimon Schwab?

He answers that the Brachos were given, "Im Bichukosai Teileichu". Rashi says that means "Shetihiyu Ameilim BaTorah", when we toil in Torah learning. We know that "Torah Mateshes Koichoi Shel Adam", learning torah saps a persons strength (Sanhedrin 26b). It is these weak Amalei Torah who will be our soldiers and will miraculously win every battle and wipe out our enemies. This is why Rashi says it will be the weak ones.

The end of the pasuk continues "U'Mei'ah Miken Rivava Yirdofu", and one hundred of you will chase ten thousand. This is of much greater proportion than five to one hundred. Rashi comments on the strength of the army of the Amalei Torah. Rashi explains that one cannot compare the power of a few people who learn to that of many who learn. The power of a Bais Medrash that is full of weaklings wall to wall effects the world in a way that is immeasurably greater than that of a few lamdanim sitting in one corner. When the many talmidim go out to fight and squint in the bright sunlight, they will wreak much greater havoc, proportionally, than if they were a small group.

Wed, 05 May 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Vayikra: Rav Shimshon Pincus - The Precious Snoring Of The Korban Ani The Korban Mincha, a measure of flour, brought by the poor man is precious in Hashem's eye's more than the fat cow of the rich man.  Why?  "V'nefesh Ki Sakriv Korban" (Vayikra 2:1), Hashem understands that paying for this paltry gift is like giving away his entire being, his nefesh.  He sacrifices the pennies he needs to live on, and offers it up to Hashem.  To us it may look pathetic but to Hashem it is priceless.

Today we do not have Korbanos, but we have Limud HaTorah which is more dear to Hashem then multitudes of korbanos.  Here also, says Rav Shimshon Pincus, we have the Korban Ashir and the Korban Ani.  How pathetic does it look when a person comes to Shul at the end of a long day of work, sits down in a Shiur struggling to keep his eyes open.  He spends half the Shiur dozing and half trying to concentrate and follow.

In our eyes this is a very weak Torah learning, but not in Hashem's eyes.  Hashem sees this person sacrificing his entire being.  He'd rather be home relaxing and eating since his energy is long gone.  But he chooses to use the last ounces of strength left in himself to drag himself to the Bais Medrash to give it to Hashem.  That he brought with him a few kernels of wheat instead of a fat cow is irrelevant.  What matters is that he sacrificed whatever he had and offered it to his Creator.

Fri, 19 Mar 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Titzaveh: Netziv - Higher Than A Kohen Gadol "V'Ata Hakrev Eilecha Aharon Achicha",  Bring close to you, your brother Aharon (Titzaveh 28:1).  Hashem is telling Moshe to make Aharon a Kohen.  Why does the torah say bring close to you? 

The Netziv explains that although to be Kohen Gadol is an exalted level, the Keser Kehuna the crown of being a Kohen still falls short of Keser Torah the glory of torah, which was Moshe's crown.  Hashem tells Moshe that he should make Aharon a Kohen, thereby bringing him close to Moshe's level but not quite there.  Torah rises above all, even the Kehuna Gedola.

Tue, 23 Feb 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Mishpatim: Rav Nachman MiBreslov & Rav Chaim Volozhin - Your Business Deals Are All In The Torah "Al Shor Al Chamor Al Seh Al Salma... Ad HaElokim Yavo" (Mishpatim 22:8).  This pasuk refers to a Shomer who stole the item he was watching.  The Iturei Torah brings that Rav Nachman of Breslov read this pasuk B'Derech Drush to teach us that even when you are doing business, your pnimius and your mind must be tied to the Torah.

He read the pasuk to mean that whether you are dealing with your oxen, donkeys, sheep, or textiles, "Ad HaElokim Yavo", your mind must be immersed and tied to Torah.  This way you can elevate your working time to the status of Torah.  Even things that are more mundane, Al Kol Dvar Pesha, must be firmly connected to Torah.

It is said that the Duke who ruled Volozhin would come to seek the advice of Rav Chaim Volozhin.  Rav Chaim would sit immersed in his gemara as the Duke laid out his question.  When he finished Rav Chaim would lift his head and give him the advice he sought.

Yisroel V'Oiraisa V'Kudisha Brich Hu Chad Hu.  Both in Breslov and Volozhin, everything anyone sought, was in the Torah.  U'Mi KiAmicha Yisroel Goy Echad BaAretz.

Fri, 12 Feb 2010 03:00:00 +0000
An Interesting Theory As To The Secret To Our Generations Astounding Torah Success Our generations is a shining light in history in Torah learning.  Never has there been so many people learning torah full time for so many years.  Never has there been so many Yeshivos and Kollelim filled with older boys and married men SheTorasam Umnasan.  What is the secret?

A well known Yerushalayimer Tzaddik offers a theory.  All of Torah is found in Torah Shebichsav.  This includes Torah SheBa'al Peh, Nigla, and Nistar.  It is all right there in the words, the words of Hashem.  It is told of the many great tzaddikim who learned Chumash with a special joy and a special kirva to Hashem, soaking in the Kedusha of every word.

This tzaddik says that the Seforim HaKedoshim say that the Mekor for our success in Torah stems from being Maavir Sedra Shnayim Mikra V'Echad Targum each week.  How we do this, makes all the difference in the Torah we will be able to absorb from all of our learning the next week.  This is why according to many early sources it is a special Mitzva to do Shnayim Mikra V'Echad Targum on Erev Shabbos after Chatzos, since that is when the Kedushas Shabbos descends on the world.  Yet according to many, Shnayim Mikra is just a preparation for the greatest Kabalas HaTorah, which is listening quietly and attentively to Krias HaTorah on Shabbos. 

So here is the theory he offers.  The Sifrei Torah we have today are by far better than any Sifrei Torah ever.  They are scanned by computer to ensure there are no mistakes of missing or extra letters.  Not only that but the quality of the parchment and ink ensures that the Osios keep their integrity without any erosion.  He says that an expert Sofer told him that most of the Sifrei Torah in Europe were pasul, while our a primarily Kasher.  With a pasul Sefer Torah you cannot be Mikabel the Torah, but with a Kasher one you can get very far.

So this week when you are Maavir Sedra keep in mind that not only are you learning Toras Hashem but also you are being Mikabel Torah Min HaShamayim.  You are also preparing for the great Kabalas HaTorah of Shabbos morning.  Learn the Halachos and do it right.  It is not a major investment and there is a lot riding on it.

Thu, 04 Feb 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Bishalach: Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky - The Para Aduma Is Great Preparation For Matan Torah Rashi in Parshas Bishalach (15:25) tells us that in Marah, before Matan Torah, Hashem gave the Bnei Yisroel the mitzva of Para Aduma.  Why is this mitzva singled out (as well as the mitzva of Shabbos) to be taught before the rest of the Torah, especially considering that it is relevant to Tumah and Tahara and there was no Mishkan yet?

Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky answers that Torah is unlike any other subject in the world.  It predated the universe and is beyond human comprehension.  We can only comprehend Torah, not based on our own intellect, but rather as a gift from Hashem.  This in itslef is a hard lesson to understand but vital in order to properly learn Torah.  Surely Bnei Yisroel needed training before Matan Torah to understand how to approach Torah, and how different it is then any other subject matter.  There was no better place to start teaching Bnei Yisroel this lesson than by learning about the Para Aduma.  Para Aduma is one of the perplexities of the Torah.  It doesn't make sense from a logical point of view that something can be Mitaher the Timei'im yet be Mitamei the Tihorim.  

With this Sugya, Bnei Yisroel were taught that Hashem's commandments don't need reconciliation with human logic. Lesson 1 in Torah 101 was about the Para Aduma, in order to set the minds straight.  Thereafter, everything we learn, we must understand that even when the Torah says something that makes perfect sense to our logic, our stamp of approval is not needed in any way.  It is Hashem's will and Hashem's way, and that is what counts.

Thu, 28 Jan 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Shemos: Rav Yehoshua Leib Diskin - Bnei Yisroel Spread Their Wings Outside The Bais Medrash "U'Bnei Yisroel Paru Vayishritzu Vayirbu Vayaatzmu B'Miod Miod Vatimalei HaAretz Oisam" (Shemos 1:7)  The Shnayim Mikra brings that Rav Yehoshua Leib Diskin asks why did the Torah need to say that the land was filled with them, if they multiplied so rapidly of course Mitzrayim was full of Jews?

He prefaces his answer with a similar question.  By the Bris Bein Habesarim, Hashem tells Avrohom, "Ki Ger Yihiyeh Zaracha B'Eretz Lo Lahem".  Again the same question is raised.  If they were Geirim, foreigners, then by definition they were in a land that did not belong to them.

He answers that the Medrash says in Yehuda's zchus that he went ahead of the family to start  Yeshiva, Bnei Yisroel was awarded Goshen which was given by Paroh many years before to Sara as a gift.  The Mitzrim did not dispute this territory and they lived there peacefully.  Had they stayed in Goshen and continued spending their time learning Torah like Yaakov wanted they would have never been subjected to any Shibud, since Yosef made a rue that the clergy is exempt from any taxes and work related participation.  We see that throughout the years in Mitzrayim, Levi was always exempt because they stuck it out in the Bais Medrash.

This is the meaning of the pasuk, "Vatimalei HaAretz Oisam".  The shibud started when they no longer stayed within the cloistered confines of Goshen.  They got involved in local politics and local trade.  They spread beyond Goshen and into Mitzrayim proper creating a presence throughout the country.  Only then did the Shibud begin.  Hashem told this to Avrohom when he said that not only will they be in strange land, but they will go into a land not intended for them, and Eretz Lo Lahem.

Sun, 03 Jan 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Bnei Yisaschar: Your Light Shines Bright Even If It Is Blown Out The Halacha is that if you put enough oil in the Menorah to last the required time period, you have fulfilled your obligation even if it blows out right away. You are not even required to relight it. The Bnei Yisaschar is amazed by this Halacha. The whole Yom Tov of Chanukah revolves around the mitzva of Hadlakas Ner Chanukah, so how is it that the Halacha is so lenient about the candles blowing out? One would think that the flame must actually last for a specified period of time since the mitzva is all about Pirsumei Nisa, publicizing the Nes.

He answers that the light of the menorah represents the wisdom of Torah. Torah is very special in that when you work on it, it is never in vain. Even if after toiling in an area of torah for a long time you realize that your understanding is completely wrong, you still have the Sechar of Torah. Torah is about a "labor of love" and not results. The goal is the journey, not the finish line.

This, says the Bnei Yisaschar, is the secret to the burnt out flame. Torah shines a light onto the world. We say of a great tzaddik that his light shines from one end of the world to the other. What happens to us lesser people whose torah doesn't produce much light? Chanukah teaches us that even if your Torah is completely useless and it produces no light you still have the mitzva. If you put your heart into your learning no matter how wrong your conclusions are you have the entire Mitzva of Talmud Torah. So too paskens the Shulchan Aruch even if the light of your menorah doesn't shine as long as you poured your oil, your soul, your heart into it, Hashem considers it as dear as the light of the Menorah that gives off a beautiful glow.

Fri, 18 Dec 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Maharal MiPrague - The Magic Of Turning Leah Into Rochel "Vayehi BaBoker ViHinei Hi Leah" (Vayeitzei 29:24).  After the controversial chasuna where Yaakov was supposed to marry Rochel the Torah tells, when the morning came, behold it was Leah.  Rashi adds, "but at night it was not Leah since Yaakov gave the Simanim to Rochel".  What does this mean that at night it was not Leah?  Then who was it?

The Maharal MiPrague tells us that from here a very powerful lesson in what it means that the Torah is the blueprint and central power of the world.  He says that the halacha is that Simanim Muvhakim are Min HaTorah.  This means that although the Chachomim decree that we can return an aveida to the person who gives simanim, nevertheless it is still not clear that the item belongs to him without a shadow of a doubt.  This can have ramifications in Halacha such as returning a lost Get or divorce.  However when a person give Simanim Muvhakim, perfect detailed and unique simanim, the gemara concludes that the item belongs to that person Min HaTotah as these simanim are conclusive.

Since Yaakov gave Rochel Simanim Muvhakim, MiDinei Torah that night the Kallah was actually Rochel as she presented the Simanim that were unique to Rochel alone.  It was only in the morning light when Leah was physically appeared before Yaakov, that Min HaTorah the Kallah was Leah!  We can learn from this Rashi and the Maharal what it means to have emuna in the Torah.

Tue, 24 Nov 2009 03:00:00 +0000
A Wild Meeting Between Rav Chaim Oizer & A Budding Future Gadol HaDor There was a closed meeting between the Gedolei Yisroel, headed by the Gadol HaDor Rav Chaim Oizer Grodzinsky.  Shock and confusion permeated in the room when all of a sudden the door bursts open.  A young man, marches right up to Reb Chaim Oizer, grabs on to his clothing holding on as if for his dear life.  He exchanged a few shouts with Rav Chaim Oizer.  The Rabbis got up to stop this apparently brazen young man shouting at Rabbi chaim Oizer, but he motioned to them to leave him alone.  When this young man was satisfied with the Rabbi's answer he marched right out as if nothing out of the ordinary ever took place.  

When Reb Chaim Oizer saw the hurt and shock written all over their faces, he explained; 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 distinguish Rabbis in session. When I finally answered his question to his satisfaction it was as if he caught his breath and he was able to function again.

When the Stoliner Rebbe, who was present at meeting heard that, he told Reb Chaim Oizer, a Torah scholar that has such a burning desire for dvar Hashem, I want him as Rosh Yeshiva of my yeshiva. Hence 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 our partner HaRav Mordechai S. Bald, Rav of L'viv-Lemberg, Ukraine who submitted this story!

Sun, 15 Nov 2009 03:00:00 +0000
How To Improve Your Memory Rebbi Yochanan ben Zakkai had five talmidim whom he praised dearly (Pirkei Avos 2:11).  About Rebbi Eliezer ben Horkynos he said, what makes him special is that he is like a well sealed pit that doesn't let a single drop of Torah that he learned escape.  If his best asset was his photographic memory why was that a credit to him?

The Yeina Shel Torah brings a story from the Chofetz Chaim.  In the town of the Chofetz Chaim there lived a very old man who remembered the day that Czar Nikolai came to visit their small town of Radin.  Despite the fact that the man had difficulty remembering events that happened yesterday, he had no trouble remembering the Czar's visit in great detail seventy years later.  Certainly this wasn't the product of a gifted memory.

The Chofetz Chaim explains that memories are etched in your mind by things that make a deep impression on you.  Things that are so exciting toy you will never be forgotten.  Rebbi Eliezer cherished every word of Torah so much that each one was a precious memory that could never be forgotten.

If learning Torah is something we feel obligated to do but don't really cherish the words of the Torah themselves, the only memories we will have when we grow old are of our fantastic fishing vacation.  Learn Torah, cherish its words and ideas and you will grow old with a priceless storehouse of treasured memories.

Mon, 12 Oct 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Elul Zman - Don't Go In Circles, Climb Higher All the Baalei Mussar make a big deal about learning "B'Retzifus" meaning without interruption.  Not because of  the few moments of batala when you take your break and indulge in idle chatter and the like, but rather because it makes all the difference in your learning when you resume.  We can explain this with a Mashal.

When a person needs to get somewhere and he walks there, every time he stops for a moment it delays his arrival by the amount of time he stopped.  But imagine blasting off in rocket ship to get to the moon.  Once you stop the engines you will fall back to earth.  You can't just turn them back on and resume your journey.

To borrow a vort from Rav Shimshon Pincus the gemara says that in one pasuk it says that Adam HaRishon's height was from one end of the earth to the other.  Another pasuk says that his height was from earth all the way to heaven.  The gemara answers that these two distance s are the same.  Rav Pincus says that this gemara means that person can use his intellect to climd to shamayim and reach all the way to the Kisei HaKavod.  Or he can use his intellect to involve himself in earthly matters knowing what's going on all over the planet.

Similarly there are two kinds of learning.  One learning is to know the material to be knowledgeable for whatever reason.  From this perspective it your Torah is just worldly knowledge for worldly gains.  Taking a break will only delay your progress momentarily until you resume your "studies".  Another kind of learning, torah lishma, real learning, is to be close to Hashem.  To study His torah, the torah He calls His "toy" His "joy".  It is the vehicle with which a human can connect to his creator.  With every word we learn we climb higher and get closer to Hashem.  When this kind of learning is disrupted to discuss an earthly matter, we are right back down where we started from whether ten minutes ago, half hour or tow hours ago.  We can't just resume, we need to start our ascent all over again from ground zero.

Whether you are a Ba'al HaBayis who is Kovei'a Itim or a Yeshiva Bochur in the Bais Medrash, when taking an otherworldly trip through the galaxies of Torah don't come back every second.  Keep on going further and further and don't stop until you arrive, or else you never will.

Thu, 20 Aug 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Tzvi Mayer Zilberberg & Rav Shimon Schwab - Give An Opportunity To Every Child Every morning every Jew prays, "V'haarev Na... BiFinu", sweeten the words of Torah in our mouths.  We all wish that our entire life was to learn torah.  Even if we don't spend much time somehow things could be different and that learning torah was truly our obsession.  Let it be geshmak for us!  But we don't stop there.  "ViTze'etza'einu", we want our children to learn as well.  We toil hard to earn a living so that our children can learn.  If we work and make far more money than we need to live, all in the name of supporting the next generation and then we want our children to work to earn a living for their children, when will it all end ask the Baalei Mussar?  After how many generations of accumulated wealth will one smart child stop and say, "enough"?

But we don't stop there.  We daven U'BiFiyos Amcha Bais Yisroel.  We want every Yid to learn Torah.  We are all responsible for one another we are "Areivim" guarantors of our brothers and sisters neshamos.  "Ki Eich Eleh El Avi V'HaNaar Einenu Iti" (VaYigash 44:34), how can I go back up to my Father in Heaven, even with a lifetime of mitzvos, if my young brother is not going up to Gan Eden with me, asks Rav Tzvi Mayer Zilberberg?

Rav Shimon Schwab says that we can accomplish this by giving money to Yeshivos or through other means of helping and ensuring that every Jew has an opportunity to learn torah and not only our own children.  "V'tze'etza'ei Amcha Bais Yisroel Kulanu Yodei Shimecha", we will then be an entire nation learning torah and giving great satisfaction to our great father in Heaven.

Mon, 17 Aug 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Moshe Rabbeinu Is Waiting For Us To Start Learning Torah The Ohr HaChaim brings from the Zohar that each of the four Galuyos that Am Yisroel have been cast into is redeemed in the merit of someone else.  In the first Galus we were redeemed in the Zechus of Avrohom, the second in the zechus of Yitzchok, and the third in the zechus of Yaakov.  The final redemption will be in the zechus of Moshe.  However Moshe Rabbeinu refuses to redeem us unless we learn torah and do mitzvos.  This is why the galus is lasting so long.

The Ohr HaChaim reads this into the words in Parshas Titzaveh (27:20).  "VAta Titzaveh Es Bnei Yisroel ViYikchu Eilecha Shemen Zayis Zach".  "Tzav" is an expression of to reign as king.  Hashem tells Moshe, "VAta Titzaveh", that after the last galus, Moshe will reign over us once again.  However there is a condition attached to this.  "ViYikchu Eilecha Shemen Zayis Zach" only if Bnei Yisroel learns the pure words of the torah which is compared to olive oil.  "Zach" he says means pure.  The Torah must be lishma, for the sake of Hashem and not to argue or to glorify yourself.

Mon, 20 Jul 2009 03:00:00 +0000
The Klausenberger Rebbe: A Tale of A Talmid Chochom and Am HaAretz

The Klausenberger Rebbe zt”l tells a story about two people come to Shamayim after 120, a Talmid Chochom and an Am HaAretz.  They are Dan the Am HaAretz L’Kaf Zechus and send him straight to Gan Eden because he learned a perek in the morning before work and a perek in the evening after work.  The Talmid Chochom is sent straight to the depths of Gehinom since had he learned straight without stopping he could have mastered Kol HaTorah Kula.  They will scream at him and say “Rasha!  You were given a holy neshama and a good mind and you neglected it!”  

If a persons talents allow him to know more than he actually knows no excuse will save him regardless how much torah he learned.  He will be judged by how far he is from his full capacity.  Only Hashem the King of All Kings who sees through the heart of a man can be the judge of this.

This is the meaning of the Gemara in Pesachim (50a) that says “Ashrei Ish Sheba L’Kan ViTalmudoi B’Yadoi”, fortunate is the man who comes to Shamayim with his learning in his hand.  Meaning, all the potential bestowed upon him comes with him and nothing is left behind.  (Kinus Chizuk Olam HaTorah pg 261 – Dirshu)

For us laymen we should remember that as “Am HaRatzim” or “Chashuva Baalei Batim” we are not excused with a limited amount of Torah either.  We also have potential that we must fulfill albeit far less than our brothers fulfilling the role of Yisachar.  We must also utilize our free time and our full capabilities to bring all our Torah whatever that may be, back home!

Wed, 01 Jul 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Chaim Brisker Heeds The Bubba Meisa One time Rav Chaim Soloveitchik paid a visit to his elderly cousin.  When he walked in to the house a button fell off his coat.  His cousin quickly took out some thread and she sewed the button back on while Rav Chaim was wearing the coat, which is said to make someone forget his Torah.  Rav Chaim then employed the known antidote and took the edge of the collar and put it in his mouth.

Puzzled, Rav Chaim's cousin said to him, do you really believe in these Bubba Meises?  Rav Chaim answered that when it comes to anything to do with forgetting Torah he doesn't play around and he even takes Bubba Meises very seriously. (Dirshu Chizuk)

Mon, 29 Jun 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Bahalosicha: Rebbi Akiva Eiger - A Man On the Move...

"VihaIsh Asher Hu Tahor UvihDerech Lo Haya" (Bahaloscha 9:23), if a person was Tahor and was not far away from the Bais HaMikdash and still does not bring the Korban Pesach in the proper time, he will receive Kares"

It is said in the name of R' Akiva Eiger a Drush on these words. One who is constantly running around and not sitting and learning can not serve Hashem properly.  "VihaIsh Asher Hu Tahor - who is a tahor person? "UvihDerech Lo Haya" - one who is not always on the road, but rather sitting in the Bais Medrash.

So too we find in parshas Shmini that a Marbeh Raglayim - an insect with many legs is Tamei. We can also translate that to mean that one who has many feet and is constantly on the move is considered Tamei!

Tue, 09 Jun 2009 03:00:00 +0000
The Klausenberger Rov Hears A Painful Secret From His Uncle The father of the Klausenberger Rav once told him something that he heard from Rav Avigdor Dukla brother of his grandfather the Divrei Chaim.  He said when I was young I wanted to break the power of my Yetzer Hara so I undertook four painful measures.  

1) I fasted the entire week eating nothing from Motza'ei Shabbos until Kiddush Friday night.  2) I went into voluntary exile, Galus.  3)  I burned myself with a bitter grass that leaves hard scars.  4)  I didn't change my shirt for six months.

"After all this I came to the conclusion that I want to reveal to you.  It is impossible to beat this guy (the Yetzer Hara) with anything other than a Daf gemara!" (Kovetz Chizuk - Dirshu 5768)

Tue, 26 May 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Elya Svei zt"l - How Does A Manhig Make Himself Better? It is difficult as a Talmid to think of words to describe Rav Elya Svei zt"l. Who comes within any measure of his gadlus in Torah, Hasmodah, Avodah, Mussar, Middos, Hishtadlus? Who can fathom the depth of his Heiliga Neshama, his closeness to the Ribono Shel Olam. As a Talmid, I cannot in the slightest describe the Gadlus of the Rosh Yeshiva zt"l. I can only say a few words as to what I observed.  And, in doing so, I see the Rosh Yeshiva, with his famous warm smile, shaking his head. The Rosh Yeshiva was an Anav Gadol M'Od and had no interest in any recognition of his gadlus. He would turn his back on it. I only write these few words, because the whole being of the Rosh Yeshiva was to be Mashpiah and to be Madrich, to influence and guide our generation to Kavod HaBorei Olam, and Kavod Hatorah.  So in the hope that perhaps these few words have some impact, I believe the Rosh Yeshiva would be Maskim to my writing down some observations.

The breadth of the Rosh Yeshiva in so many areas, is almost incomprehensible. His Shiurim, his Shmuessim, his Hishtadlus for the Tzibbur, his love for his talmidim, his love for every Jew whether in the US, Eretz Yisroel, or Russia, was so great, it is from our perspective beyond the capability of one person to accomplish so much. But, to understand the Rosh Yeshiva, I would like to put forth two generalities that were stated by Rav Aharon Kotler, the Gaon who perhaps had the greatest impact in molding the Tachlis HaChayim of the Rosh Yeshiva.

I happened to be at a Chasuna where Amos Bunim was the grandfather of the Choson. Mr. Bunim, and his revered father Mr. Irving Bunim, were from the founders of Bais Medrash Govoha of Lakewood, and were prime supporters of Rav Aharon in all his efforts throughout his life. I sat next Mr. Bunim, and implored him, “Nu tell me Divrei Torah from Rav Aharon.”  He shared with me two Divrei Torah that in themselves defined Rav Aharon and Rav Elya.

Rav Aharon referred to the gemara where the Malach came to Yehoshua with an outstretched sword. Yehoshua understood that he had been at fault, but was not sure what for. Yehoshua asked the Malach whether it was because he was mevatel the Korbon Tamid, or because he as mevatel Torah? The Malach answered it was because of Bitul Torah.  Rav Aharon asked that Yehoshua was in midst of Milchama to conquer Eretz Yisroel from its fierce inhabitants, it’s understandable that in war one has to concentrate on the issue at hand, and does not have the freedom to learn Torah as in less severe times.

Rav Aharon answered his Kasha as follows.  If you take a general and put him in a room with all this maps and strategies, and you take out the air, wouldn’t he ask for air?  Torah to Rav Aharon was air. The very oxygen of life. Even in the most difficult pressing times, even during war, one cannot live without air!  That was the musag that Rav Aharon brought to American shores. And, that was the musag that the Rosh Yeshiva, as a Talmud Muvhak of Rav Aharon, lived by. Torah is the essence of life, we cannot live without Torah, without dveikus B’Torah, without Ameilus B’Torah, without absorbing Torah until it is the very fiber of our being.

Rav Elya was always dovuk in torah.  Not only in the yeshiva, not only when preparing and giving shiurim, not only when speaking to other Gedolim in Torah, not only when speaking to talmidim in Torah, but even when he was osek b’inyanei Klal Yisroel his mind ‘Ligst Zich in Torah’, his mind was always busy with torah. Torah. Torah. Torah. That was rav Aharon. That was the Rosh Yeshiva. They couldn't live without it.

The second Dvar Torah from Rav Aharon that Mr. Bunim told me is as follows. It says that after building the Mishkan Klal Yisroel had to bring a korbon Chatas for the aveira of Geneiva. What did they steal? Not everyone gave their gold, silver, diamonds, and other valuables purely lishma. Some gave it because others gave,and  they had to give to show themselves as equal.  Rav Aharon asked, but the fact is they gave their gold, silver, so where was the geneiva?

Rav Aharon answered that as much the Mishkan lacked the element of Lishma, that is how much Kedusha was lacking from the Mishkan. Through the lack of lishma, they stole kedusha from Klal Yisroel.  They were Ganavim, thieves!  This too was Rav Aharon, and Rav Elya. There was no such a thing as half a mitzvah or half an effort. Every mitzvah, every davening, every moment of life was done 110% for the Ribono Shel Olam. It wasn’t done with half-measures. It wasn’t done with excuses, it wasn’t done with half Kochos or half concentration.  Rav Aharon and Rav Elya lived in a state of lishma. Every moment of their time was lived with only one though in mind, being and Eved HaShem, serving HaShem to the fullest kochos.  Living Kuloh Lishma to create Kavod Shamayim.

All the stories spoken at the Levaya in Philadelphia, all that has been written, and will continue to be written, I believe come from these two klallim.  Torah is our oxygen. As we cannot live without air, so too we cannot live without Torah.  One has to serve HaShem to one’s fullest kochos and beyond, to keep striving to improve one’s Avodas HaShem in every manifestation, at every moment of life.  That was the musagim that the Rosh Yeshiva taught his Talmidim, not through words, but through being a living embodiment. We saw every day, no matter what time of the day, no matter what day of the week, the Rosh Yeshiva exemplified those klallim.

This was the gift that the Rosh Yeshiva, along with the Gaon HaRav Shmuel Kamenetzky Shlita, ybcl"c gave to American students, far removed from Slabodka, and Mir, and Brisk. Far removed from the Chofetz Chaim, and Rav Elchonon, and Rav Issur Zalman and the Brisker Rav. Far removed from Rav Chatzkel Levenstein and The Alter from Slabodka, and the Alter from Kelm. Far removed from the musagim of Mesiras Nefesh that was the neshama of pre-war Torah life.  So many Talmidim were changed from Americans to true Bnei Torah, so many had their neshamos catch the fire of Ahavas Torah and Ahavas Yisroel, that they too became a link in the chain, giving over to their talmidim this comprehension, so that B"H Torah in the world today is beyond anyone’s dream for post-Churban Yiddishkeit.

In ending, I would like to tell one brief story that exemplified the Rosh Yeshiva.  I was fortunate to be Oleh Regel to the Rosh Yeshiva, on the last Chol Hamoed Pesach that he was truly well. I was there with my sons, who were Talmidim, as well as other talmidim. At one point the Rosh Yeshiva said to me “Nu Reb ____ Vi Machtzich Besser”, how does one better oneself?  Without a moment’s hesitation I responded “Mir Kumin Tzu Dem Rosh Yeshiva”, we come to the Rosh Yeshiva. A quick response that had everyone smiling.  But I was looking at the Rosh Yeshiva and, I saw him close his eyes, and a look came over his face that was as clear as day “but who do I go to”?
That was the question that was so clear the Rosh Yeshiva was asking himself.  But who do I go to.  The Manhig Hador inn his upper seventies, already weak and growing frail. Millions upon millions of words of Torah, millions upon millions of words of Mussar and Chizuk, thousands upon thousands of hours spent on behalf of Tzorchei Klal Yisroel, from the klal to the individual.  And, still he was asking of himself – how do I get better? How do I improve? How do I serve HaShem better? How do I create more Kavod Shamayim? How do I help Klal Yisroel more?  The Rosh Yeshiva asked this of himself. How much more do we have to ask ourselves that question?

May our efforts in this direction be a zchus for Rav Elya, and ybcl"c Rav Shmuel Kamenetzky, he should have Arichas Yomim. May the Rosh Yeshiva be a Meilitz Yosher for Klal Yisroel, for the Dor that was the Tachlis of his Achrayos.

A Talmid

Mon, 06 Apr 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Tzav: Kotzker Rebbe - The Places Torah Can Take You "Zos HaTorah LaOlah LaMincha V'LaChatas V'LaAsham" (7:37).  The Kotzker Rebbe darshans this pasuk regarding the Mitzva of learning Torah and the integrity with which you do so. Learning Torah can take you anywhere.  Zos HaTorah, this is the torah.  If you learn it with a pure heart then, LaOlah LaMincha it goes up to Hashem for a present.  If misused or abused then LaChatas V'LaAsham.  Torah learned for the wrong reasons can being you to sin and guilt!

Fri, 03 Apr 2009 03:00:00 +0000