Friday, July 31, 2009

Kol Brisk on Parshas Ve'eschanan - Shabbos Nachamu

לעלוי נשמת הגאון הר"ר אהרן בן הר"ר משה הלוי סאלאווייציק זצ"ל

פרשת ואתחנן

Shabbos Nachamu


ואתם הדבקים בה' אלקיכם חיים כלכם היום.
"And you who cleave to Hashem your G-d, you all are alive today."

הנצמדים לבעל פעור כצמיד ע"י אשה ואתם הדבקים בה' אלהיכם דבוקים ממש  (סנהדרין ס"ד)
Those who latch on to baal peor, are like bangles on the arm of a woman.  And you who cleave to Hashem, are truly attached."

What is the difference between hanitzmadim and hadveikim?
From the words of the Medrash we learn that nitzmadim is an external and loose connection.  Dveikim is an intrinsic and eternal connection.

The Torah describes the involvement of Am Yisrael in the sin of peor as external and temporary.  Just as a trinket is easily removed from the arm and discarded, so was the attachment of Am Yisrael to the abhorrent, obscene peor.

ואתם הדבקים בה' אלקיכם חיים כלכם היום.  

These words of Moshe Rabbainu to us are a great source of encouragement.  Am Yisrael,  Moshe Rabbainu tells us, your true place is with Hashem.  Only with Hashem and with His Torah are you capable of bonding, of connecting, and of finding true fulfillment, pleasure and meaning to your existence.


Am Yisrael are not told that they won't try to dabble in foreign cultures, to mimic the behavior and temperament of the seventy nations of the world, and to taste their impure lifestyles.  However, Moshe Rabbainu tells us that ultimately, ואתם הדבקים בה' אלקיכם , our connection and place is only with Hashem and His Torah.  This is the deepest part of every Jew's personality, and ultimately only this connection is what will give us comfort and will satisfy our most basic needs.


Let us compare it to an undernourished starving child who enters a room and sees unhealthy candy on the table.  He can eat the candy.  It will very temporarily delay his hunger pangs.  The only thing, however, that will truly provide the solution to the problem is real nutrition.  The only nutrition of the Jewish neshama is Torah and mitzvos; tefilla, chesed, tikun hamiddos.

Am Yisrael can try to copy the goyim.  A hedonistic lifestyle, malice and hatred, competitive careers and politics, slanderous evil talk, immoral behavior all provide a temporary outlet to offset emptiness, by deluding the starving soul into feigned satisfaction or relief.  And sadly, these behaviors are addictive, one can become temporarily stuck to them.  Am Yisrael are dvaikim b'Hashem, connected to Hashem.  We need this connection for our very sustenance and survival.  Often, we may find ourselves in situations that seem to call for a response of impatience, anger or despair.  These may seem to be alternative and legitimate responses to situations.  But for the Jew, these are no answers at all.  They merely postpone further confrontation with ourselves, and when the further scenes do arrive, the intensity of the emptiness which accompanies them increases.


This is reminiscent of an incident that took place and Rav Aharon Soloveichik zt"l's penetrating insight:


A divorced woman was engaged to a newly observant  man.  The grandfather of the man was a famous conservative rabbi, who spoke often of  his being a Kohain, although he renounced his priestly status.  He participated in funerals, and did not perform birchas Kohanim.


A certain poisaik permitted them to marry.  Being that the family was not religious, he said that they had no credibility and it was not necessary to believe that they were Kohanim.


Rav Aharon rejected this argument and said this was not a case of credibility but of Chazakah (it is generally presumed and taken for granted beyond

doubt), and this family was muchzak, known by all, as Kohanim.  He forbade their marriage.  Rav Aharon stated further that this marriage, in any event,

would not last, because a Jew in the depths of his soul feels an aversion to forbidden things.  He quoted a study, done by a secular body, that an assimilated Jew, even after a few generations, experiences tension and emotional unrest while eating pork, in contrast to how he feels while eating

kosher meat.


The two did marry.   The marriage, however, did not last too long..


Rav Levi Yitzchak miBerditchev explains as follows:
It is true that the reward for mitzvos is in the World-to-Come.  However, when a person learns Torah and fulfils mitzvos, Chayim kulchem HAYOM, he immediately is reinvigorated and refuelled with chiyus, vitality and strength.  This is not something for which he must wait around.  It happens instantaneously, HAYOM, today, now.

According to what has just been said, we can conclude that most of us are truly starved for chiyus!  Why not nourish ourselves with tikun hamiddos, working to uproot jealousy and anger and laziness and impatience, etc.?  Why not nourish ourselves with tefilla for which we first prepare by quieting out all the mental noise??
And of course  with Torah, with maasei chesed?       Why deny ourselves?



Another very basic lesson of this pasuk is hinted to in the word ואתם .  Take notice, the letters of אתם  are the same letters as אמת - TRUTH.  Am Yisrael cleaves to Hashem through EMES, truth.  We bring here the timeless words of the סמ"ג , (Sefer Hamitzvos Hagadol, mitzvah 74)  quoted in the sefer Kol Brisk:


                I have already expounded to the exiled of Yerushalayim that are in Spain and to the other exiles of Edom.  For now that the galus has extended far too long,  Am Yisrael must separate themselves from the follies of this world and grasp onto the stamp of Hashem that is EMES.  Not to lie –  not to Jews and not to non-Jews.  And not to deceive them in any matter.  And to sanctify themselves also in what is permitted to them, an it is stated, "and the remnant of Yisrael will not do wrongs and will not speak lies, and words of deception are not found in their mouths.  And when HaKodosh Baruch Hu will come to redeem them, the non-Jews will say, it is right what He did, for they are people of truth, and they speak a Torah of truth.  However, if they behave towards non-Jews with deception, they will say, Look what He has done, He has chosen for His portion swindlers and thieves.  Furthermore, it states, "And I have planted her (Am Yisrael) over the earth".  Doesn't a person that plants one measure  expect to reap many more measures?!  So, HaKadosh Baruch Hu planted Am Yisrael in the lands in order that Geirim join them.  As long as they behave with deception, who will cleave to them??


* * *



In פרשת ואתחנן, Moshe Rabbainu relates to us how he implored Hashem to enter Eretz Yisrael, and was told that the time had not yet arrived for complete redemption, and therefore, Moshe would have to remain on the other side of the Yardain.  So what did he accomplish with all of his 515 supplications, the numerical value of ואתחנן?


A person, explains the Pri Tzaddik, can accomplish even more through his yearnings and longings than he does through his actual deeds.  Moshe Rabbainu, through his tefillos affected the entire functioning of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael for all generations.  And so it is with all the tefillos of Am Yisrael, whether we see immediate results, or we still wait for them to come.  They all are effective.  In words of chazal:


כל המתאבל על ירושלים, זוכה ורואה בנחמתה.
Every person who mourns the destruction of Yerushalalyim, merits and sees in the joy of Yerushalayim.


Commensurate to the longing deep in our hearts, we will IMMEDIATELY (roeh = present tense) behold and sense the simcha, the joy of Binyan Yerushalayim.


On Tisha b'av, I was reading the autobiography, entitled "Bas Ami,"  of Hadassah Levine, H"YD, a great Tzaddekes, a Kedosha, who went through the gehinom of the shoah, recorded the events, and shortly afterwards died of tuberculosis.  May Hashem avenge her blood and the blood of all the Kedoshei Elyon.  She was present in the Telzer camp, on the spot when  all the men were brutally shot by the german and lithuanian men-beasts.  By the fresh mass grave she cried Kaddish and read out the perek lamed-zayin in Yechezkel about Tchiyas Hamaisim.  What gave her the strength to continue?

That night, she describes how, utterly numbed and exhausted, her spirit broken, Hadassah fell asleep... and beheld a wondrous and astonishing dream,  a spectacle of splendor and of awe, a vision not of this world.  A great clear and bright Light filled the barn in which she was interned.  She shut her eyes.  The deceased were rising from their graves!! All the men, all the nation. They were shaking off the earth from their clothes, a huge, huge multitude of people!!



This awesome vision gave her strength to withstand her further sufferings and trials.


Let Hadassah Levine's faith be a beacon of light to us.
May Hashem avenge the blood of all His faithful servants.

Let us never forget who we are and what are our goals, דבקים בה'.


כי אתה באש הצתה ובאש אתה עתיד לבנותה

"For You, through fire consumed Yerushalayim, and through fire You will rebuild her."
ברוך מנחם ציון ובונה ירושלים


A gutten Erev Shabbos from Yerushalayim Ir HaKodesh

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