Thursday, April 26, 2012

Rav Moshe Weinberger - Shalosh Seudos Drasha - Parashas Shemini 5752

Below is a write-up of Rav Weinberger's Shalosh Seudos drasha from this Shabbos, Parshas Shemini. You can see past write-ups of Rav Weinberger's Shalosh Sheudos Torahs here and get thousands of his shiurim in mp3 format at

Rav Moshe Weinberger
Shalosh Seudos Drasha Parashas Shemini 5752
Reb Moshele Vishnitzer: Being truly "alive".

(Original text of the Maadanei HaShulchan (Shemini p.67) is in regular font. Rav Weinberger’s comments are in italics)

Reb Moshele of Vishnitz זצ״ל was recently niftar and they have started to print out his torahs. He was a Gaon in learning and in Avodah and hopefully we'll see a lot more of them coming out soon. This torah gave me a lot of Chizuk.

He starts by bringing down a torah from his ancestor Reb Mendele Vishnitzer zy"a.

My holy zaidy the Tzemach Tzaddik זי״ע comments on the passuk in our parsha (Vayikra 18:47) "להבדיל בין הטמא ובין הטהור ובין החיה הנאכלת ובין החיה אשר לא תאכל" (To distinguish between the impure and the pure, between the animal that may be eaten and the animal that may not be eaten). The commentaries have been bothered about the passuk seeming out of order. The first section opens with "the impure", but the last section opens with "the animal that may be eaten", meaning "the pure". We would have expected the last section to also open the with "the animal that may not be eaten", and only then "the animal that may be eaten", as in the initial order.

We can explain that true "life" cannot derive it's meaning exclusively from this world. If we draw all our "chiyus" (life-force) from physical things, from objects, from finite things, from money and honor, from all those "weekday" (וואכענדיגע) things, then you can't really call that "life". Rather one is just walking around in the world, just going here and there. The opposite of this is one that draws his "chiyus" from eternal things. Hashem Yisborach is eternal, the Torah is eternal, the Mitzvos are eternal. This is a completely different path, the one of real true "Life". 

Of course we have to eat and do all kinds of other physical and material things, but that's not what being "alive" is about.

This is "להבדיל בין הטמא ובין הטהור" (To distinguish between the impure and the pure). Where do we see the difference? "ובין החיה הנאכלת" (between the animal that may be eaten), "חיה" (lit. Animal) comes from the word "חי" (alive). If his "chiyus" comes from the things that are "eaten" (that are consumed and disappear), he is in the aspect of "הטמא" (impure) as it's written at the beginning of the passuk. He lives in a world of foolishness. "ובין החיה אשר לא תאכל" (the animal that may not be eaten), if his "chiyus" comes from things that are eternal, things that are "not eaten" (eg. Torah learning; serving Hashem, Tefilah; good deeds; rectifying our Middos; sensibility for the holiness of Shabbos, not simply knowing that it's the seventh day of the week) he is then in the aspect of "הטהור" (pure). He is a pure creation and is truly "alive". This is why the passuk brings first "ובין החיה הנאכלת" (between the animal that may be eaten), and only later "ובין החיה אשר לא תאכל" (the animal that may not be eaten).

 If we were to ask anyone if they want to "live", he would obviously answer "yes". However, if we were to ask him what is he doing about it? The answer would be that he is taking some kind of medication or a natural remedy, or something similar (he is probably speaking about medications for anxiety and depression. Note of the translator) however this can still not be called "life".

When I was young I remember hearing in the news about these new units in the police department. They would spend thousands of dollars training these guys to go and convince people to come down before jumping off a bridge. It doesn't matter how much money you spend, it's not going to make any of those people feel any more "alive" inside. The question will always be: "now that I'm not dead, why an I alive?".

I have spoken about this to explain the nusach of the "Blessing of the Month" in the prayer service. "חיים של ברכה, חיים של פרנסה, חיים של עושר וכבוד, חיים של חילוץ עצמות" (a life of blessing, a life of sustenance, a life of wealth and honor, a life of physical health). But when it comes to Torah it's written "חיים שתהא בנו אהבת תורה" (a life where in which we will have a love of Torah). And regarding Yiras Shamoyim (fear of heaven) it's written "חיים שיש בהם יראת שמים ויתר חטא" (a life in which there is fear of heaven and fear of sin). We have to question why the language is changed for these requests and not the others. Why do we not say "חיים של אהבת תורה ויראת שמים" (a life of love of Torah and fear of Heaven)? The answer is that regarding material things we ask the we should receive an abundance of wealth and honor. But even if we end up not being deserving of them, we will still have a "life". However if we don't have a love of Torah and fear of Heaven we don't have a "life".

What is "life"? "שיש בהם יראת שמים ויראת חטא" (a life in which there is fear of heaven and fear of sin). "A life". But what is "life"? "שתהא בנו אהבת תורה ויראת שמים" (a life in which we will have a love of Torah and fear of Heaven). Because without them it can't be called a "life" at all. A person can deceive himself into thinking that he is "alive", but it's just an empty dream. Without fear of Heaven, it's not part of the concept of "life".

The  Ohr Hachayim Hakadosh explains the passuk in parshas Nitzavim (30:19) "ובחרת בחיים למען תחיה אתה וזרעך" (choose life so that you may live, you and your offspring). And what is the purpose of such a "life"? The passuk continues and explains "לאהבה את ה׳ אלוהיך ולדבקה בו, כי הוא חייך" (to love Hashem your G'd and to attach yourselves to Him, because He is your life). That's "life"! "חייך" (your life) in this world, "ואורך ימיך" (the length of your days) referring to the World to Come. He then asks a piercing question: "because what life does man have if it's not His will?" it's terrifying! To earn more or less money, to eat more or less food, what value does any of it has? That's not the will of the Creator! These words from the Ohr Hachayim burn like fire in anyone who meditates upon them.

We are entering Chodesh Iyar tonight, a Chodesh that is mesugal (suited) for all kinds of Refuos and Yeshuos (cures and salvations). This the month where the Ikkar (essence) of the Sefiras HaOmer takes place, with all it's  amazing Tikkunim (rectifications) Bein Adam le Chavero (between man and his fellow) and Bein Adam Lamakom (between man and G'd). But the biggest Refuah for everything is to have a "life". And for that we have to work on filling it with the meaning that comes from our Torah and Yiras Shamoyim.

Hashem Yisborach should help us that we should all be blessed with "ובחרת בחיים, למען תחיה, אתה וזרעך" (choose life, so that you may live, you and your children), and that we should all see together the Geulah HaSheleima VeHaamitis בב״א.

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