Elul is the time for spiritual breakthroughs! Find a color in the spiritual rainbow of Klall Yisrael and make it your color – your mission! In layman’s terms – pick a mitzva or a mida/trait and make it yours! Become the best in it anyone can become! Become the gadol hador! It’s in your hands – and it’s close to your heart! (see Devorim 30:14)
Machon Daniel Torah Weekly
“To Stir the Mind and to Light up the Shabbos and the Holidays”
The Building of the Beis Hamikdash is Dependant on Bnei Yisrael’s Level of Commitment to Torah and Mitzvos
“ונתצתם את מזבחתם ואבדתם את שמם לא תעשו כן לה’ אלקיכם” (דברים יב:ד)
“And you shall destroy their alters and destroy their name don’t do as such to Hashem your G-d” (Devorim 12:4)
Rashi explains that “לא תעשון כן” / “don’t do as such” is a warning not to erase the name of G-d and not to remove a stone from the altar or from the courtyard of the Beis Hamikdash. Rebbi Yishmael said, is it imaginable that a Jewish person would damage the altar!? Rather he explains, it means to say that the Jewish people should not transgress the Torah so that their transgressions should not cause the Beis Hamikdash of their forefathers to be destroyed!
Question: Is this not indirect damage regarding which we have learned that a person is not held liable for indirect damages!? Accordingly, how can the actions of Bnei Yisrael lead to the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash!?
The Laws of Monetary Damages vs. the Fulfillment of Mitzvos
The answer is that the exemption for indirect damages applies only to monetary claims and not to the fulfillment of mitzvos. Actually, regarding the fulfillment of mitzvos the very opposite is true – that the result and the effect of a person’s action to perform a mitzvah is not dependent on him at all but it is completely decided by Hakadosh Baruch Hu. That is, He is the One and Only who decides if and when a person will receive reward or punishment for his actions.
Hakadosh Baruch Hu Alone Knows What’s in a Person’s Heart when He Performs the Mitzvah
The truth is that it is not possible for a person to decide the outcome of his actions for he is unaware of his deeper internal motives for his actions which are evident only to Hakadosh Baruch Hu. Regarding this the posuk states”היוצר יחד לבם המבין אל כל מעשיהם” / “He creates their hearts together, He understands all their actions” (Tehillim 33:15). That is, Hakadosh Baruch Hu “understands” a person’s actions while the person himself does not fully comprehend their value. Similarly, the prophet states”וה’ צבאו-ת שופט צדק בוחן כליות ולב” / “Hashem judges righteousness, examines a person’s kidneys (advisors) and heart (Yirmiya 11:20). And Yirmiya says as well”אני ה’ חוקר לב בוחן כליות ולתת לאיש כדרכיו כפרי מעלליו” / “I am Hashem Who searches one’s heart and examines one’s kidneys to give/pay a man according to his ways, as fruit for his actions” (ibid. 17:10). The Malbim explains as follows: Hashem responds with reward or punishment according to a person’s inner thoughts and intentions and as well according to his actions. And, although it may appear to a person that his actions or those of another are positive, only Hashem examines and therefore only He knows the inner intentions and drives of a person.
Hashem’s Judgment is All-inclusive
Our sages learned from the above-quoted posuk from Tehillim that Hakadosh Baruch Hu includes additional parameters in His final decision regarding how to respond to each and every action of a person. For example, in the case where an individual commits a sin whose punishment is known, if a person he is associated with will needlessly suffer as a result of the sinner’s punishment, the punishment will be withheld. Regarding this we are taught in Gemora Rosh Hashanah (18a), On Rosh Hashanah all of mankind passes before Hashem and they are examined in one swoop, meaning as one unit as the posuk states”היוצר יחד לבם המבין אל כל מעשיהם”.
Benefitting or Harming the Klall
Another example of unusual reward or punishment is found in the case where one benefits the community through his actions or causes them harm through his actions. The person will be rewarded or punished in measure. This is as we find in Avos (5:18) Moshe merited himself with his actions and as well merited the Klall/community. Therefore, the merit of the community is accredited to his name as the posuk states “צדקת ה’ עשה ומשפטיו עם ישראל” / “The righteousness of Hashem he (Moshe) did and His laws with the Jewish people” (Devorim 33:29). On the other hand, Yeruvum sinned and caused the public to sin as well and thus the sins of the community are attributed to him as the posuk reads “על חטאות ירבעם (בן נבט) אשר חטא ואשר החטיא את ישראל” / “for the sins of Yeruvum (the son of Nuvat) who sinned and caused the Jewish people to sin” (Melachim A 15:30).
Reward for Mitzvos is not Given in this World
Additionally, our sages (Rebbi Yaakov) have taught us that one is not rewarded for the mitzvos he performs during his lifetime (Kidudhin 39b). That is, not only does a person not have the ability to decide the reward or punishment he should receive for a particular action, but the reward he will receive will be given to him in a completely different world. Also, when a person sins, sometimes he will receive his punishment in this world and sometimes in the next. And sometimes, if he has acted in an extremely wicked manner, he will receive reward for his mitzvos in this world in order to prevent him from obtaining true reward in the next world. This the rabbis have quelled from the posuk “ומשלם לשנאיו אל פניו להאבידו” / “And He (Hashem) rewards His hated ones before him (in this world) in order to cause him eternal loss (the reward of the next world)” (Devorim 7:10).
With the above, we can better understand the words of Rebbi Yishmael that the actions of Bnei Yisrael affect the standing of the Beis Hamikdash and that here there is no exemption for indirect damages.
A Jew’s Actions Affect the Events of the Whole World
Why in fact in our case is one responsible for indirect damages? For each and every spiritual action of a Jew carries great weight for this is the very purpose of his creation – to uplift the whole world through the power of his spirituality as expressed in the performance of Hashem’s mitzvos.
From the above we learn a powerful lesson – that we have the ability to bring about the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash! How? Not by placing physical stone on top of physical stone, but by placing spiritual stone, meaning mitzvos, on top of spiritual stone. If we take our job seriously, we will merit to see the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash in our lifetime!
Menachem Av 5778
We are Hashem’s Children
“בנים אתם לה’ אלקיכם לא תתגודדו ולא תשימו קרחה בין עיניכם למת” (דברים יד:א)
“You are children to Hashem your G-d, don’t create conflict and division, and don’t place a bald spot between your eyes for the deceased” (Devorim 14:1)
Honoring Parents and Inheriting Them
Children are the blood and soul of their parents and are as one with them as the posuk states “והיו לבשר אחד” / “and they were as one body” (Bereishis 2:24). Therefore, a person is instructed to honor his parents, and, because of this special relationship, a child inherits his parents’ possessions after their demise without the need of any formal act of purchase or transfer.
Creating Conflict and Division and Placing a Bald Spot
The posuk tells is that just as we are one with our parents, so we are one with Hakadosh Baruch Hu, as He too is our Father and we His children! For this reason, He commands us in the two mitzvos mentioned in our posuk as they correspond to our obligations and relationship toward our physical parents. That is, we are not to cause conflict and division as this is an insult to G-d our Father and we are obligated to honor Him as we honor our parents as the posuk states “כבד את ה’ מהונך” / “Honor Hashem from your possessions” (Mishlei 3:9) (See Kidushin 30b.)
And as well, one shall not pull out his hair in anguish over the loss of a relative and this is parallel to that which a child merits to inherit his parents after death. That is, just as a child receives the full inheritance of his parents, so too a person should accept the news of his relatives’ demise with full trust in Hashem and not pull out his hair as a demonstration of distrust and non-acceptance.
Chol Hamoed Succos 5776
The Happiness of Yom Tov vs. the Joy of Shabbos
“ושמחת בחגך” (דברים טז:יד)
“And you shall rejoice in your holiday” (Devorim 16:14)
On Yom Tov we are commanded to serve Hashem with happiness as it states “ושמחת בחגיך” / “And you shall rejoice in your holiday” while regarding Shabbos we are instructed to rejoice with “oneg” as the posuk states”וקראת לשבת עונג” / “and you shall call to Shabbos oneg” (Yeshaya 58:13). Why are we commanded to rejoice on Yom Tov with simcha and on Shabbos with oneg, and what is the difference between these two expressions of joy?
Yom Tov – Improving and Perfecting the Jewish People
Now, in order to understand why we are commanded to serve Hashem with happiness on Yom Tov, we have to first understand the purpose and the goal of the Yomim Tovim (the holidays). In the first seven days of Creation there is no mention of Yom Tov – only of Shabbos and the six days of work. The reason for this is that before man sinned, the world stood in its original state of purity, and Shabbos was able to shine its spiritual light and its blessing on the six days of work as the posuk states “ויברך אלקים את יום השביעי ויקדש אותו” / “And Elokim blessed the seventh day and sanctified it” (Bereishis 2:3). Therefore, at that point there was no need for Yom Tov. However, once man sinned, the kedusha and the blessing of Shabbos was no longer able to penetrate the other days of the week as beforehand. In order to correct the original sin and to remove its influence on Bnei Yisrael, Hashem sent them into the fiery furnace of Egypt. When this cleansing process was completed, Hashem took Bnei Yisrael out of Egypt with a strong hand (Shemos 13:9) and in recognition of this purification process we were given special days of joy called the Yomim Tovim in which to express our gratitude and praise to Hashem for saving us and purifying us.
The Reasons for the Three Holidays
The holiday of Pesach is in recognition of the process of our purification until the point where Hashem took us out of Egypt. Shavuos is in recognition of Hashem granting us His holy Torah by which the perfection and purification of the Jewish people reached its climax. And the holiday of Succos is in recognition of Hashem’s protecting and guiding hand during the course of our wanderings in the desert and which continues to be at our side throughout history.
That is, all the holidays have a similar purpose – the recognition of Hashem’s overwhelming kindness in purifying us from the sin of the first man and in choosing us as His favored nation. In effect, the light of the Yomim Tovim returned to the weekdays the light they had lost from Shabbos.
The Simcha/Happiness of the Holidays
With this we can understand the simcha/happiness of the holidays. That is, simcha is that which one feels when he works to improve or perfect something and succeeds in his efforts. That is, a feeling related to his actions. Therefore, we are commanded to serve Hashem with simcha on Yom Tov in recognition of the purification and perfection of the Jewish people which we benefit from to this day as the posuk states”ליל שימורים הוא להוציאם מצרים… לכל בני ישראל לדורותם” / “A night of guarding to Hashem to take them out of Egypt… guarded for all the generations of the Jewish people” (Shemos 12:42). And thus on Yom Tov we outwardly show our recognition and appreciation through actions – through the drinking of wine and meat and all fine foods, the purchasing of new clothing and gifts for the children. In addition, the Torah allowed cooking on Shabbos so that we can fully rejoice on this day. (This permission hints as well to the fact that Yom Tov was given in order to repair the damage caused to the days of work by the original sin.) For this reason we explained in another place that the Torah calls Pesach Shabbos for its purpose is to allow the light of Shabbos to penetrate the days of the week as it originally did.
However the role of Shabbos is different than the role of Yom Tov as it is the source of kedusha and perfection and forever it remains in its original state of purity, and only upon sin its light is covered over. Therefore, it is not a day of simcha as is Yom Tov is but rather a day of oneg!
What is the definition of oneg? Oneg is enjoying radiance from the source of kedusha, dissimilar to Yom Tov where we celebrate the expression of kedusha. Therefore, one does not express outward signs of simcha on Shabbos as we do on Yom Tov, rather we express our joy of Shabbos in its preparation, as one who prepares himself before meeting the king. (For this reason, we are not obligated to enjoy as large a meal on Shabbos as we are on Yom Tov, and as well, we are more easily exempt from the meal if we will have problems in consuming it.) For this reason, Shabbos is called Shabbos Malchasa – Shabbos the Queen – for it is as a king or a queen which sits on his/her throne and we prepare ourselves to enjoy the very meeting with the King. This is oneg Shabbos!
Shabbos and the Six Days of Work in the Future
In the days of the future, when all the people of the world will recognize that “Hashem is one and His name is one” (Zechariah 14:9) then all the days of the week will return to their original state of perfection and we will no longer show outward joy but only internal joy. This is as the posuk says “אז תתענג על ה” / “Then (in the future) you will feel oneg before Hashem (meaning oneg and not simcha)” (Yeshaya 58:14). (See the Radak who says that this future oneg can be felt in the oneg of each and every Shabbos.)
The Secret Path to Repentance
“סור מרע ועשה טוב בקש שלום ורדפהו” (תהלים לד:טו)
“Leave from evil and do good seek out peace and chase after it” (Tehillim 34:15)
Dovid Hamelech’s Advice to a Sinner
The posuk does not read “לא תעשה רע” / “Don’t do evil” as we find in the Torah regarding the negative commandments”… מכל מצוות ה’ אשר לא תעשינה” / “…of all mitzvos that you shall not do” (Vayikra 4:1) rather “סור מרע ועשה טוב” / “Leave from evil and do good”. From this we learn that the posuk is referring to a person who has already transgressed a negative commandment and evil has encompassed him. To this person, Dovid Hamelech/King Dovid offers advice on how to escape from the binds of his evil act – and that is – to “do good”, meaning to fulfill a mitzvah!
Negating the Stain of Sin with a Spark of Kedusha/Spirituality
The explanation of this is that when a person has transgressed a Torah command he becomes like a person who is incarcerated in prison about which the sages have taught that a person cannot free himself from prison on his own (Brachos 5b). If so, how can a person ever rid himself of his sins!? By doing good! That is, even though he does not have the key to open his cell door and free himself, he does have the option to create a different type of key which offers him an alternative escape route. This he creates through the performing of a positive commandment. The explanation of which is that through this he ignites a spark of spirituality which lights up his soul supplying him with the ammunition he needs to combat and negate the stain and the influence of his transgression to the point where he will never return to commit that sin again!
HaKadosh Baruch Hu Forges a Special Path of Teshuva for One Who Repents
We find a similar approach to repentance in the Gemora (Menachos 29b, with Rashi’s commentary) as follows: Why was this world created with the letter heh? For it is similar to a corridor which is open below allowing anyone wanting to fall into evil behavior to do so. Why is the left leg of the heh not connected to the roof (top line) of the heh? For if a person who fell to sin decides to repent, he will be lifted up through the open space between the roof of the heh and its left leg. The Gemora asks, why not lift him up from the same opening he fell through at the bottom of the heh!? The Gemora answers, it won’t help, for a person who sins needs special help to get himself back on his feet (see there). So too here, only through the performance of a different type of act, meaning a positive commandment, can a person remove himself from the influence of his sin.
Fighting the Yetzer Hora with Mitzvos
The posuk ends “בקש שלום ורדפהו” / “seek out peace and chase after it”. This teaches us that after performing the mitzvah, the person should try and free himself from all connection to his transgression in order to fully repair his soul. If the person finds this to be a struggle, he should not falter but rather “chase after” his goal of ridding himself of his sin. The reason why he is likely to find this work a great challenge is because the way of the evil inclination is to run after a person to prevent him from correcting his ways and returning to the path of purity. To ward off the evil inclination who pursues him so enthusiastically, the person as well must run after the correction of his soul with vigor and enthusiasm. Then he will merit to a helping Hand from Shamayim which will help him free himself completely of the influence of the evil inclination! This is as the above Gemora concludes, why is a tag placed on the top left of the roof of the heh? To teach us that Hakadosh Baruch Hu says to the sinner, if he will repent, I will tie for him a special tie (crown)!
Menachem Av 5778
Have a nice Shabbos
and an enjoyable summer!