Thursday, January 19, 2017

Sponsor the Ohr HaChaim HaKodosh shiuron leil shishi in Eretz Yisrael!

Sponsor the Ohr HaChaim HaKodosh shiuron leil shishi in Eretz Yisrael!

As we have been publicizing, many Tzaddikim teach that learning the sefer Ohr
HaChaim HaKodosh is a segula for parnossa, Emunas Hashem, Yiras Shomayim, refua sheleima, yeshuos and zera shel kayoma. If you would like to sponsor a shiur in Eretz Yisrael, please contact Rabbi Tal Zwecker at for further details, and I can help arrange this for you.

"The gates of heaven opened up and I saw G-dly visions, the Creator of the four corners of the earth, and I gazed and meditated upon that which I had permission to, and began to explain at the beginning of Hashem's holy words" Ohr HaChaim, Bereishis

Praises For The Holy Ohr HaChaim HaKodosh

Rav Shlomo Gestetner, the Rav of the Gush Shmonim neighborhood in Yerushalayim, related the following story, which he heard firsthand from the yungerman who told it about himself:

A Talmid Chochom living in Yerushalayim in the year tov shin nun ches had a son who lost his sight and became blind. The doctors could find no antidote or treatment to help him recover his failing vision, and his eyesight was lost.

The father of the yungerman went to the tziun of the Ohr HaChaim HaKodosh on Har HaZeisim and davened there for a yeshua, taking upon himself to study and learn the sefer Ohr HaChaim. Not long afterward, his son's vision returned and he was healed with no medical intervention!

After some time he heard of another yungerman who suffered from diabetes and was stricken with total blindness as a result! The Talmid Chochom hastened to the house of the poor yungerman and urged him to visit the tziun of the Ohr HaChaim HaKodosh, to daven there and ask that his eyesight be restored so that he could take upon himself to learn the sefer Ohr HaChaim each week on the Parsha. At first, the yungerman was despondent and did not take this piece of advice seriously. Eventually, after constant prodding, he agreed and they set off together to Har HaZeisim to the tziun of the Ohr HaChaim HaKodosh. There he prayed and cried from his heart that he merit a restoration of his vision, so that he could see and study the holy sefer Ohr HaChaim.

Upon arriving home, he was given a volume of the Ohr HaChaim. He opened it and was dumbfounded and amazed when he could see something faintly, as if in a fog! Where total darkness had prevailed, he now began to regain his vision little by little. The more he studied, the more his vision returned each day, the holy letters becoming clearer and more sharply defined, until he was able to see again normally just like everyone else. Today he sees completely normally, overjoyed with the gift of the light of life – the Ohr HaChaim.

Rav Meizlish, who recorded this story, adds: How true are the words of the sages of Venetzia who wrote in their haskoma that "whoever tastes of the honey of this sefer, his eyes shall shine and be enlightened, for just as it is named, it is the Ohr HaChaim – the light of life and all light dwells therein." (Shivchei Ohr HaChaim p. 22)

The Holy Lights Of The Ohr Hachaim

"And she named him Moshe...because I drew him from the water" (2:10).

The Ohr HaChaim HaKodosh points out that in most cases in the Chumash where the Avos are given names, the reason for the name always precedes the actual naming. For example, in Bereishis 21:6 we learn that Yitzchok is given his name because of laughter, and only afterward is he named. Similarly, in Bereishis 25:26, the Torah tells us that Yaakov was holding onto Esov's heel, and that is why is called Yaakov. The same scenario repeats itself in the case of the Shevotim, first regarding Reuven (29:32) and then Shimon (29:33) where the reason for the name is given first. The exception to the rule is Moshe Rabbeinu, whose naming precedes the explanation for it.

The Ohr HaChaim explains that perhaps because the Imohos, our holy matriarchs, were prophetesses and their Ruach HaKodesh revealed to them what they should name their offspring, they differed in this way from Bas Paro. Whereas they were able to discern the deep, spiritual essence of their children, they named them based on what they understood about their souls, whereas in contrast, Bas Paro could not understand Moshe's depth and what his name signified in relation to the great stature of his neshoma. In reality Moshe's name is exceedingly deep and great and holds many wonders, as is explained in the Zohar (III p. 276) and Tikkunei Zohar (Tikkun 69). Hashem is the One Who brings down names into this world and placed Moshe's name into her mouth. The reason she gave later for having drawn him from the water was only her mundane explanation, for she did not really know the true deeper divine reason for Moshe's name.

"And she opened [the basket] and she saw the yeled (baby) and behold a naar (young child) was crying, and she had mercy on him and said, 'This is one of the Jewish children.' (2:6)

Rav Moshe Franco, a talmid of the Ohr HaChaim in Livorno, records in Meor HaChaim the following teaching from the Ohr HaChaim on this pasuk:
Chazal say (Bova Metzia 59a) that the gates of tears were never locked. Whenever a person cries, from Heaven they have mercy on him. Asks the Ohr HaChaim: Why does the pasuk switch from yeled to naar? Shouldn't the pasuk should have said yeled, as it does in the beginning of the pasuk? But this pasuk hints at us all; when it says a young child – naar – it means us. Naar is Am Yisrael, as Hoshea says (11:1), "Yisrael is a young child and I love him."
And when we, Klal Yisrael, daven, cry and shed tears, then Hashem has mercy on us all from Heaven. In addition, if you daven, cry and shed tears, this is a siman (proof) that he is "one of  the Jewish children".

Thursday, January 12, 2017

השיעור בסה"ק אור החיים

השיעור בסה"ק אור החיים

נתנדב ע"י

הנדבנית החשובה מרת

אסתר בת ליבא חיה

לעילוי נשמת הוריה היקרים

רב יוסף בן רב צבי הירש ז"ל

ליבא חיה בת רב דוד ז"ל

ולגזונט הצלחה ולפרנסה בריוח בנחת ובכשרות



[PERMANENT INTRO QUOTE] "The gates of heaven opened up and I saw G-dly visions, the Creator of the four corners of the earth, and I gazed and meditated upon that which I had permission to, and began to explain at the beginning of Hashem's holy words." Ohr haChaim Bereishis



It is said in the name of Rav Meir Abuchatzeira zatzal of Ashdod that he used to say that the holiest most sanctified where tefilos are answered is the tzion of the Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh. Some say that the primary reason that Rav Yaakov Abuchaitzeira traveled to Eretz Yisroel was to daven by the tzion of the holy Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh. (Toldos Ohr HaChaim Intro.)


I should point out that the commentary of the Ohr HaChaim is one of those specific commentaries that through Divine Guidance and Hashgacha Pratis was printed together with the Chumash like the commentary of Rashi. Therefore it is more connected to the simple plain meaning or peshat of the text more than other commentaries which were printed on their own. (Toras Menachem by Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson Zatzal of Lubavitch)


Reb Moshe Weiss Zatzal was a chassid affectionately known as Reb Moshe Batlan (because he was always learning and studying and batel from work). He was an expert in the Ohr HaChaim and was always studying it would and delve into the sefer constantly. He was so attached to the Ohr HaChaim that he knew it by heart and would often quote it verbatim. He would also teach from it often adding his own comments, novel insights and chiddushim. When asked why he did not gather his comments and chiddushim and print them as a commentary to the Ohr HaChaim he answered: "What can I do? Everytime I learn the sefer Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh I find a new flavor and taste and so the explanations are new and different each time as well! The Sefer Ohr HaChaim can be studied in the manner of Pardes – Peshat Remez Derush and Sod, simple straightforward meaning, hints and allusions, sermons and exegesis and the secret of Kabbalah. Therefore why should I write a sefer when next time I study the sefer I will understand in a whole new and different manner, and taste in it a brand new other ta'am?!" (Ner HaMaarvi 429)



(49:9) Gur Aryeh Yehuda – Yehuda is like a lion cub:

The Ohr HaChaim gives the following introduction in which he sets about to explain this pasuk:

The first man, Adam HaRishon was like a tree whose many branches branched off in many directions. All holy souls that once came and will one day come from the side of kedusha are all branches from Adam's tree. When Adam sinned, the side of evil captured some of these holy souls. Tzadikim and Anshei Emes – men of truth in each generation seek out these captive souls to redeem them and save them from the clutches of evil. The holy nation of Yisrael, Am Hashem – G-d's people are constantly refining the world and daily trying to save these captives and redeem them. They do this using the holy source which Hashem planted within our nation, the Torah and Mitzvos. Sometimes when a holy soul becomes attached to an impure soul by force against her will, the holy soul can redeem the captive spark found in that impure soul as well, this is secret of why Shechem ben Chamor's soul cleaved in dveykus unto Dina bas Yaakov's soul (VaYishlach 33), because Dina's holy soul drew forth and pulled out the captive holy soul which was found in Shechem, our sages say (Arizal in these three sources: Likkutei Torah VaYishlach, Shaar HaGilgulim 36, Shaar HaPesukim VaYeitzeh) that this was the soul of Rav Chanina  ben Tradiyon as is hinted in by the acrostic his name spells Rechavas as in the pasuk there that land is Rachavas Yadayim – the land is bountiful and expansive for you to settle.

Sometimes such a holy soul is born into the world in a foreign body, because the klippos and impure souls spawn so many numerous offspring and so such a holy soul can slip in there as well among their spawn and then the holy soul desires to walk on the path of good and righteousness, and this is the secret of the souls of the gerim and converts, who of their own volition come and convert desiring to attach themselves to the side of holiness. Sometimes the captor who holds such holy souls captive only allows them to go free if they are born into the world through sinful abhorrent unions, such as the holy soul of Rus who was from Moav, and the story of how Moav was born was an incestual sinful union as in the story of Lot. Notice how from Rus are descended the lineage of the kings of Malchus Beis Dovid and this comes from Moav who Chazal declare (Bava Kama 38b) that their sins were worse with more chuptza than Amon despite this greater sanctity comes from Moav. Now because Lot had greatness, his descendants were great, because even among evil and klippos there are levels of greatness each according to its stature. This can be seen clearly that among the nations there are royal families and pedigree of kings, some greater than others and some of lesser stature such as lords, dukes, barons and other lower castes and this demonstrates that there is a hierarchy even among the klippos.

Now our sages call these final days the heels of Meshiach – Akvisa DeMeshicha (Sotah 49b), the secret here is that we are constantly refining the gross material and releasing captive holy sparks and when the final refinements have all been accomplished we will have reached the end or heel. Chazal called this the ekev or heel because it is the end or extremity of man's limbs. So that in the past great souls were refined, freed and redeemed, such as our great patriarch and forefather Avraham Avinu the first righteous convert, and Sarah Imenu, Rus the Moabite, and in later generations the souls of Shamaya and Avtalyon and Onkelos the Ger. Now although today in our times we also have righteous converts, today's gerim are of a smaller stature than those great tzadikim, because we have reached the end, the final extremity, the heel or akev. All the refinements are coming to an end and conclusion.

Now based on this introduction you can understand why Hashem sent an angel who forced Yehudah against his will to be with Tamar (Bereishis Rabbah 84) because through such a sinful improper union which was against the Torah, and because Yehudah was forced against his will, and he did not recognize Tamar as his daughter in law, this created the ability to redeem the holy souls of Peretz and Zerach which were held captive by the forces of evil. And how many tzadikim and the entire royal house of malchus beis dovid were their descendants. Only Yehudah whose lineage was royal and whose destiny was to give birth to kings could redeem such lofty souls in such a manner. By such an evil act (done unconsciously and by force) he was able to enter the realm of evil and redeem captives from evil.

This is what the pasuk means, says the Ohr HaChaim, before he lived with Tamar he was a Gur, a cub, afterwards he was uplifted to be an Areyh, a lion, because the souls he redeemed would rule as kings (like a lion is king). How did he merit this, asks the Ohr HaChaim? He answers that the continuation of the pasuk answers this question: Miteref Beni Alisa – from that Teref – from the prey that was captured and held captive which Yehudah redeemed, Alisa – he was uplifted to be the forefather of the royal dynasty of malchus beis dovid. These lofty holy souls were preyed upon and captured from Adam HaRishon's tree branches by the forces of evil after he sinned. Now through the story of Tamar you redeemed them, and thus you too are uplifted, because your descendants shall rule as kings and have royalty forevermore.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Please Daven for Rav Aharon Yehuda Leib ben Gitel Feiga

לקיים בנו חכמי ישראל!

Please Daven for Rav Aharon Yehuda Leib ben Gitel Feiga

 בעקבות החמרה במצבו של רבינו מרן רה"י הגראי"ל שטיינמן שליט"א 
הורה מרן שר התורה הגר"ח קנייבסקי שליט"א
 לומר לפחות שני פרקי תהילים לאחר תפילת מעריב ולהוסיף שעת לימוד בליל שבת ולנשים הורה מרן להתפלל בשעת הדלקת הנרות לרפואתו של רבן של כל בני הגולה שליט"א
העתירו לרפואת רבינו אהרן יהודה לייב בן גיטל פייגא לרפו"ש
והן קל כביר לא ימאס תפילת רבים 


*המרכז הרפואי 'מעיני הישועה':*
החמרה במצבו של מרן ראש הישיבה הגראי"ל שטיינמן שליט''א.
למרות שהחלים מדלקת הראות והשפעת מהן סבל ובימים האחרונים החל בהתאוששות,  חלה התדרדרות כללית במצבו הרפואי. 
בהתייעצות שהתקיימה בין המנהל הרפואי פרופ' מוטי רביד, מנהל טיפול נמרץ פרופ' אליהו סורקין, מנהל המחלקה הפנימית פרופ' אילן בנק ורופאו האישי של ראש הישיבה, פרופ' אברהם ויינברגר, הובעה דאגה רבה לשלומו של מרן מנהיג הדור.
יחד עם כל העם היהודי בארץ ובתפוצות מתפללים אנו להחלמתו המהירה והשלמה.

Kol Tuv,
R' Tal Moshe Zwecker
Director Machon Be'er Mayim Chaim Publishing
Chassidic Classics in the English Language
in Israel: 972-2-992-1218 / Cell: 972-58-322-1218
from US call VoIP: 516-320-6022 or 718-210-9732
Free Audio Shiurim
join the mailing list here:
Author Page

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Holy Ohr HaChaim HaKodosh

"The gates of heaven opened up and I saw G-dly visions, the Creator of the four corners of the earth, and I gazed and meditated upon that which I had permission to, and began to explain at the beginning of Hashem's holy words" Ohr HaChaim, Bereishis

Praises For The Holy Ohr HaChaim HaKodosh

Illuminates the Soul and the Eyes

Rav Avrohom of Slonim, mechaber of Yesod Ho'Avoda, writes in Be'er Avrohom that "the Zohar and the Ohr HaChaim illuminate a person's soul and his eyes...till this day the Chassidim study the holy Ohr HaChaim's commentary to the Torah on Thursday nights (Leil Shishi – Ohr LeYom Vov) and on Shabbos Kodesh at night."

A More Appropriate Segula for our Generation Than the Zohar

Rav Menachem Nachum of Shtefanesht felt that studying the Ohr HaChaim HaKodosh is a more appropriate segula for our generation than the study of the Zohar, because as he explained, the Zohar illuminates the part of the soul called Neshoma, whereas the Ohr HaChaim illuminates those parts called Nefesh and Ruach. The part of the soul called Neshoma is so lofty that few individuals in our generation possess and attain that level at all, whereas all of us in this dor have a nefesh and ruach, making the Ohr HaChaim more fitting.

A Segula for Emuna Tehora

A delegation of Chassidim once approached Rav Yaakov Yosef of Skver seeking advice for a certain bochur who had sfeikos be'emuna – doubts and skepticism regarding his faith and belief. The Rebbe advised them to study with him the sefer Ohr HaChaim HaKodosh. When they asked him if they should focus on those essays that deal with Yiras Shomayim specifically, he explained that they should study with him the entire sefer from start to finish.

The Holy Lights Of The Ohr Hachaim

Why Did Yaakov Send Actual Angels to Esov?

"And Yaakov sent out angelic messengers before him to Esov his brother, to the land of Seir, to the field of Edom" (32:4).

The Ohr HaChaim HaKodosh asks why the pasuk apparently needlessly points out that the messengers were sent out lefonov – "before him". He further asks why it is necessary to call Esov "Yaakov's brother" considering that this is a well-known fact, and why mention the detailed names of their destination as "the land of Seir, the field of Edom" (when it would have been sufficient to leave out any of these seemingly extraneous details.) What difference would there be to the messengers' mission had they gone there or elsewhere?

The Ohr HaChaim points out that when we answer the next question this will explain to us why all these details are necessary after all. The question is why Yaakov sent actual angels as messengers to Esov. Why use angelic beings for no apparent reason other than to relay a message to Esov? Surely any human being could do that just fine.

The Ohr HaChaim answers that this is why the pasuk says lefonov – meaning that the
angels were there before him. By understanding that lefonov here means that the angels were right there, standing before him, rather than that Yaakov sent them "ahead of him", the Ohr HaChaim explains that Yaakov deduced that since these angels were standing "before him", he had every right to use them and send them on a mission. Furthermore, this mission was one that could not be carried out by mere human beings but only by angels. The pasuk therefore points out that the mission was to relay a message to Esov, a great and important person (see Bereishis Rabba 75). Had Yaakov sent simple people, perhaps Esov would have been unimpressed and not considered them worthy of an answer, or regarded their message as important in any way. Perhaps Esov would have attacked them straight away even before hearing what they had to say. Then he could have attacked Yaakov as a vulture sweeps down on his prey. Obviously, this is not the case with angels! By sending actual angels, Yaakov sought to frighten Esov and cause his heart to tremble from fear of the army of heavenly hosts, as Chazal say (ibid) that some of the terrifying angels were clothed in fiery flames and riding on horseback. This should have frightened Esov sufficiently to prevent him from harming Yaakov. The reason the pasuk points out that Esov was his brother is because Yaakov feared to go to war against his own flesh-and-blood relative because anyone of his own family had zechus avos, which might have protected Esov.

The Ohr HaChaim explains another reason for sending actual angels: Angelic beings do not travel as we do. They are spiritual and the entire world is like their immediate vicinity,
likened to their daled amos (four cubits). Practically, this meant that by sending angels on a mission, Yaakov achieved a dual form of protection, because the angels never actually left him – they were lefonov – they stood before him. Even after having been sent to Esov, they remained standing guard over Yaakov; since they did not have to physically traverse any space to deliver their message, they were able to be in two places at the same time! They could reach the land of Seir and the field of Edom, Esov's home, before he even set out to approach Yaakov, allowing them to head him off – and simultaneously they would still be lefonov – standing before Yaakov and guarding him!

Thursday, December 8, 2016


"The gates of heaven opened up and I saw G-dly visions, the Creator of the four corners of the earth, and I gazed and meditated upon that which I had permission to, and began to explain at the beginning of Hashem's holy words" Ohr HaChaim, Bereishis

Praises For The Holy Ohr HaChaim HaKodosh

An Angel in White, Shining as the Sun

In one of his letters, the Chida describes the shining countenance of the holy Rav Chaim ben Attar, mechaber of the Ohr HaChaim HaKodosh, as follows:

"It was the night of Hoshana Rabba and our Rav was awake the entire night reciting the Tikkun. His countenance glowed like the light of the sun and brilliant rays shone from his

face, and he resembled an angel robed in white garmnents!"

His Holiness, Miracles and Holy Name

The Chida continues to praise him and says:

The Rav [the Ohr HaChaim] was well versed in performing miracles and our own ears heard many wondrous tales of the wonders and miracles he performed while alive and after his passing, for those who daven at his matzeiva and for those who swore oaths in his name. I heard from elders and Rabbonim and other sages of the East that he was a holy, G-dly man; he did not benefit from the honor of the Torah, nor did he draw a salary, nor was he supported by public funds. They threw him once into a pit of lions and he was saved after having spent a day and a night inside! He was exceedingly G-dly and holy; many swore in his name and all those who took his name in vain and swore falsely by it, died.

The Holy Lights Of The Ohr Hachaim

Defeating the Yetzer and Reaching Heights of Prophecy

And Yaakov left Beer Sheva and went to Charan. He happened upon the place and lodged there because the sun had set, and he took from the stones of the place and put them around his head and he lay down in that place. And he dreamed, and behold there was a ladder set upon the ground, and its top reached heaven, and angels of G-d were going up and down it. And behold Hashem was standing over him...(28:10–13)

This entire episode can be interpreted to hint at the stages in a person's life:

"And Yaakov left" – Yaakov refers to the soul, which leaves its place in the heavenly worlds. The soul is called "Yaakov" because the evil force of the yetzer clings tenaciously to our heel – okeiv.

"Be'er Sheva" – Be'er – this well alludes to the supernal chamber from which souls depart, known as the Be'er Mayim Chaim – wellspring of living waters. Sheva – this means an
oath, hinting at the oath each soul swears before departing the upper world, promising not to transgress the Torah (Nidda 30b).

"He went to Choron" – Charan means "anger" and refers to the yetzer, which then enters the body as soon as we leave the womb (Sanhedrin 91b), as it says in Bereishis 4:7: "sin
crouches at the door".

"He happened upon the place" – [Chazal teach that this means he established Maariv (Berochos 26b)]. This alludes to the fact that we must daven to Hashem, Who is known as
Mekomo Shel Olom, that he save us from the evil one and not leave us in the yetzer's clutches.
"And lodged there because the sun had set" – we must conduct ourselves this way our entire lives until the sunset of our days, as Chazal say in Avos Ch. 2: "Do not believe in
yourself until the day you die".

"He took from the stones of the place" – Chazal say in the name of Rav Shimon ben Lokish (Berochos 5b) that a person should always encourage his yetzer tov – his good inclination – to overcome his yetzer hora – evil inclination. If he succeeds –good; if not, he should toil in Torah. If that does not work he should recite Shema, and if that, too, fails, he should remind himself of the day of death.

"The stones of the place" allude to the armament of Torah used against the evil one.

Toil in Torah is called the building blocks and foundation of the world – binyono shel olom, hence the allusion that the stones have to toil in Torah study. Another interpretation of the Ohr HaChaim is that the stones are like missiles to be hurled against the yetzer hora to defeat him and his allies and forces. As Chazal say (Sota 21a) – Torah study saves us from the yetzer, both when we are actively engaged in it and also once we have stopped learning.

"And put them around his head" – this hints at the second piece of advice given – to recite Shema when we lie down to sleep, as a device against the yetzer hora.

"And he lay down in that place" – this refers to the last piece of advice: to remember the day of death. Lying down refers to a person's final resting place.

After employing all these forms of warfare we are guaranteed to defeat the yetzer.

Once we succeed, the Ohr HaChaim reveals, we will merit a branch of prophecy – Hashem will reveal Himself to us in a dream (as we find in the dreams of Rav Elozor ben Aroch in the Zohar I 139 and Zohar Chodosh, Lech Lecha 25a).

"And he dreamed, and behold there was a ladder set upon the ground, and its top reached heaven, and angels of G-d were going up and down it" – the ladder refers to the secret of our human soul, which leaves the body when we sleep. We know that the soul does not leave completely, which is why the pasuk says that its feet were planted on the ground, referring to the body. We can demonstrate this fact, since when a person is sleeping we can shake him awake. If his soul had completely departed, shaking his body would not cause the

soul to feel anything and it would not wake him up. "Its top reached heaven" – alludes to the fact that nothing can block us or stand in our way to reach spiritual heights; since the evil one has been defeated, the soul can reach the heavens.

The angels of Hashem ascending and descending hint at the good deeds and mitzvos we perform, since each one creates an angel (Avos Ch. 4), causing heavenly lights to ascend and blessings to descend upon us as well.

"Hashem was standing over him" refers to the prophecy of the revelation of the Shechina, as the Rambam teaches us (Hilchos Teshuva Ch. 5) that we are all muchshar – each one of us has a real potential for prophecy!

השיעור בסה"ק אור החיים

נתנדב ע"י

הנדבן החשוב כמר

יצחק פאריסער ורעיתו

לר"ש פרץ יעקב בן שרה ביילא

ישעיה מאיר בן מאטל

ולפרנסה בריוח בנחת ובכשרות


As we have been publicizing many tzadikim teach that studying and learning the holy sefer Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh is a segula for parnasa, emunas Hashem, Yiras Shomayim, refuah sheleima, yeshuos and zera shel kayama, if you would like to sponsor a shiur in Eretz Yisroel please contact me at for further details and I can help arrange this for you

Friday, July 29, 2016




Rav Pintshe of Piltz asks why the pasuk calls Zimri ish Yisrael; how did a sinner merit such a lofty title?

Rav Pintshe tells in Sifsei Tzaddik how the holy brothers, the Rebbe Reb Melech of Lizhensk and the Rebbe Reb Zisha of Hanipoli wandered together in self-imposed exile, drawing many of their fellow Yidden back to Hashem as ba'alei teshuva. Once, during their many wanderings, the two holy brothers encountered the evil yetzer in the guise of a large, black, demonic visage that stood before them, towering as high as a wall, reaching from the earth to the heavens, barring their progress. It warned them, threatening that if they did not desist and separate from one another and stop journeying and working together, then it would turn away from all its other matters and instead concentrate all efforts against them to cause them to stumble, heaven forbid! From then on, the two tzaddikim separated and never saw each other again.

Using this story as a basis, the Sifsei Tzaddik creates the following formula: just as we see that the yetzer hara was able to ignore the rest of the world and instead concentrate all its efforts in waging war against these two tzaddikim, so can any tzaddik also take upon himself to battle the evil yetzer alone.

Using this deduction Rav Pintshe attempts to answer the difficult question: how could Zimri have sinned so gravely? How is it that a nasi, a leader of the Jewish people, could stoop so low? The question becomes even more difficult when we examine Chazal, who say that Zimri was really Shlumiel ben Tzurishadai, the nasi of the shevet, who, in turn, they say was actually Shaul ben HaK'naanis, which makes him the son of Shimon, the son of Yaakov, and places him as one who lived some two hundred and fifty years and who had actually known Yaakov Avinu and seen his holy face! So if this was his identity, wonders Rav Pintshe, how could he then commit such a crime?

He answers based on the above deduction, that when Zimri, aka Shlumiel, saw his fellow tribesmen falling like flies, dying and stricken because of their failure against the zenus, he took upon himself the entire mission, to stand alone to wage war against the yetzer hara. Although his valiant efforts failed, nonetheless Hashem rewards all creatures; our pasuk therefore calls him ish Yisrael. His mercy was awakened to save his brethren. In order to save Klal Yisrael he tried to enter the fray and take on the war against the yetzer alone. Surely he did them a favor, by saving the lives of some Jews who would also have fallen prey had he not engaged the yetzer in mortal combat. But because he drew all the evil to himself, he failed and could not withstand the test. Still his efforts were rewarded and the pasuk thus calls him ish Yisrael, to teach us that he did not lose that merit – the merit of having given himself for the benefit of Klal Yisrael…

Perhaps just as Rav Yehuda HaNasi, Rebbe, said of himself that the reason he was superior to his fellows was because he at least merited seeing Rav Meir, even from behind, perhaps Zimri, aka Shlumiel, also thought that the merit of having gazed at the holy face of Yaakov would have saved him from the temptation of zenus, a desire that he believed was far beneath him and far removed. Instead he thought the difficult war would be against the yetzer hara of the avoda zara of Pe'or. But he underestimated the yetzer of zenus and that was his downfall.



Rav Gedlaya Schor, in Ohr Gedalyahu, teaches us some important lessons for Bein Hametzarim, the time of the three weeks between Shiva Asar BeTammuz and Tisha B'Av, when we remember and mourn the churban – the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash. He quotes the pasuk in Eicha (1:3): kol rodfeha hisiguha bein hametzarim – "All who chased her caught up to her and reached her between the straits." The great Maggid of Mezritch explains this pasuk as follows: "All who chase Y"ah – all who chase after Hashem, after the revelation of Hashem and His presence, can reach and grasp Him – bein hametzarim." Specifically in these darker, mournful times, we can feel Hashem's presence and closeness more and more than ever. But why is this? The Maggid uses a mashal (also quoted by the Noam Elimelech) to explain how:

"A lowly serf can never expect an audience with His Majesty!" laughed the guards. Their horrible smirks leered at the poor farmer as their jowls quivered and their fat, expansive bellies rumbled with laughter and scorn. "Ha, ha, ha, what a fool! Be gone with you!" they cried, as they jeered and turned away the simple farmer. He had traveled to the capital to see his beloved ruler, the great king; how was he to know that the castle was guarded by such rough guards at the gates?

A kinder court magistrate witnessed the ordeal and explained to the poor farmer, "The king is extremely busy with royal matters at his court. Why, even magistrates such as myself must make an appointment weeks in advance to have a precious few moments of his time! He is surrounded by guards, courtiers, and nobles. My suggestion to you is to go back home, and perhaps when the king goes on his annual journey surveying the countryside, you will be able to catch a glimpse of the royal entourage!"

The disappointed farmer thanked the magistrate and made his way back home.

When the king did embark on his annual journey in his royal carriage drawn by stately white stallions, the entourage passed through the simple farmer's village. But on the rough country roads the carriage hit a snag and one of the wheels broke. While the carriage was being repaired by the local wheelwright, the king needed some lodgings, but where to find a clean home in such a rough village? In the cold winter, all the farmers' animals were indoors, the woodburning and coal stoves filled the homes with soot, and the stench of the animals was unbearable; the dirty straw and stinking filth was no place for a king.

Just then they passed by the farmer's homestead. He had prepared for the king in advance, hoping for just such an opportunity.

"Please, Your Majesty, my home is poor but clean."

He had cleared out all the animals, spread clean earth and sand on the filth and brought new, soft, sweet-smelling straw. The house was shabby, small, poor – but clean and pure. Wandering through such dirty and smelly places, a small, clean corner was all the king could wish for. Here he retired on the new, soft bed of straw after a hot, simple meal of soup and freshly baked bread. The farmer was delighted at the honor of having the king so close!

"Just think! At the royal palace I had no chance even to glimpse his royal visage – and here the king is my very own guest!"

Similarly, explained the Maggid, normally when Hashem, the King, is in His palace, it is difficult for most commoners to see Him or even glimpse His glory. However, when wandering in exile, even the simplest can merit an audience with Him!

Bein Hametzarim is such a time; the Shechina is exiled from her place in the palace and the galus is felt most strongly; what better time is there to catch up to the King?

The Ohr Gedalyahu also cites the teaching that rav lach sheves be'emek habacha, normally translated as "enough to sit in the valley of tears." We can now understand it as "Shabbos (which contains the same letters as sheves) is greater (rav) in the valley of tears. The Rebbe Reb Bunim taught that just as Shabbos is most lofty during these three weeks, so is the time of Mincha and Shalosh Seudos. For especially that time which, during the week, is a time of din (harsh judgment), now on Shabbos it is transformed into raava deraavin – the highest point, when the divine will is most revealed and great divine mercy and compassion are awakened.

Mattos – Nedarim

So what can we do to take advantage of all this? We cannot build the Beis Hamikdash ourselves, so what are we practically to do? He answers based on the Sefer Chareidim – let us build Hashem a mishkan, a sanctuary in our hearts! This is why we read parshas nedarim of Mattos during Bein Hametzarim. The purpose of making a neder is to draw closer to Hashem. The closest possible is in the Beis Hamikdash; we must awaken ourselves to set aside a clean, pure corner for Hashem. What sanctity and holiness can we take on? We may not be able to rebuild the Beis Hamikdash yet ourselves, but surely we can clean out and purify a corner in our hearts where we can build Him a place, a sanctuary while the King is wandering in exile, a place to rest during His journey.

That place is in our hearts.

הפרופסור פרץ בבכי: "כיצד הגראי"ל ידע שערכתי ברית מילה?"


Original Hebrew follows the English adaptation:

A Russian professor of Mathematics declared his desire to study Torah with a Yungerman. He was uncircumcised never having had his bris milah, and he was married to a non Jewish woman. He emphatically emphasized that while he was willing to study Torah it was on the sole condition that his study partner, his chavrusa not mention nor bring up these matters for they were not up for discussion.

The Yungerman approached Rav Shteineman and the Rosh Yeshiva told him, no problem, study the Talmudic tractate of Gemara Bava Metiza Perek Hazahav, and make no mention of either bris or his gentile wife.

And so it went, the professor was brilliant and quickly grasped the material, he was learning so well that as they progressed he could easily summarize the sugya, and even began asking question, giving answers and recording novel chiddushim. All went well until. . .until they reached the sugya known as Tagrei Lud. Here, no matter how many times they reviewed the material, the professor failed again and again to understand or grasp any of it. Frustrated he continued reviewing on his own. He even went so far as to visit the Chevron Yeshiva where he asked a student to teach and explain the sugya to him, all to no avail.

Then a thought entered the professor's mind: Its the Orlah, my uncircumcised foreskin is blocking me and preventing me from understanding the sugya! He clandestinely contacted the organization Bris Yitzchok and secretly underwent circumcision. Due to the pain and discomfort of recovery he contacted his chavrusa and not telling his study partner why, he asked that they push off their study sessions while he recovered as "he wasn't feeling well." Then once he recovered again they tackled the sugya of Tagrei Lud and lo and behold, a miracle, the professor who could not grasp the sugya not only mastered it, he began to offer new mathematics and explanations until he had masterfully written up a summary of the sugya.

Overjoyed, the two approached, Rav Shteineman to receive the Rosh Yeshiva's beracha on their success in learning. The yungerman introduced his study partner as someone who wished to review his masterful explanations of the sugya of Tagrei Lud, after the recitation which Rav Shteineman lauded, the yungerman added: "This is the chavrusa I had told the Rosh Yeshiva about previously the Russian professor who has not yet had his bris." Smiling, Rav Shteineman turned to the stunned professor and declared a statement that shocked him, "You have already had a bris!" The professor burst into emotional tears and asked, "How could the Rav know, its a secret I havent yet told anyone, I got a bris and then I understood the sugya, it inspired me so much and suffused me with such kedusha that I even left my non Jewish wife. How did you know?"

"Simple," explained Rav Shteineman, "It is impossible for an Arel, an uncircumcised Jew to grasp Torah such as this, if you have mastered it so, it is clear you must be mahul - circumcised!"

הסיפור הבא מובא בספר 'כאיל תערוג', וסופר על ידי אחד מתלמידיו של מרן הגראי"ל שטיינמן שליט"א. נעמה גרין - אתר הידברות

"אני אברך שלומד עם יהודים שעדיין אינם שומרי תורה ומצוות. באחד הפעמים הגיע עולה מרוסיה, שהוא פרופסור למתמטיקה, וביקש להצטרף לשיעורי התורה, בשני תנאים: הוא לא מהול עדיין, ומבקש שלא ידברו אתו על ענין זה, וכן הוא נשוי לגויה, ומבקש שלא ידברו עמו על זה, "באם אתם מסכימים לתנאים אלו", אמר היהודי, "אשמח להצטרף לשיעור".

מוסר השיעור ניגש למרן הגראי"ל ושאלו מה לעשות. תשובתו של מרן היתה: 'תלמד אתו פרק 'הזהב' בבא מציעא, ואל תדבר אתו שום דבר על מה שאינו חפץ'.

מוסר השיעור והפרופסור החלו ללמוד את הפרק עליו הורה הרב שטיינמן. "הוא היה מוכשר גדול, הבין וקלט יפה, וכך למדנו כמה שבועות".

בעל המעשה ממשיך בסיפור: "עד ששבוע אחד הגענו לסוגיא של 'תגרי לוד', וכהקדמה לסוגיא אמרתי לו אתה הרי מתמטיקאי, וכנראה מאוד תהנה ממנה. התחלנו ללמוד, אך הוא לא קלט. כך חזרנו פעם שניה ושלישית, אך הוא לא הצליח לקלוט, והיה לו צער גדול מזה. השיעור הסתיים, הפרופסור חזר לביתו, נסה ללמוד בעצמו את הסוגיא שוב ושוב, ולא הצליח להבין.

"בצערו, נזכר הפרופסור כי מוסר השיעור הזכיר את ישיבת 'חברון', בה לומדים התלמידים גם בשעות הלילה המאוחרות. הוא החליט לנסוע לישיבה, ואולי שם יסבירו לו את הסוגיא.

"הפרופסור הגיע לישיבה, ביקש מאחד הבחורים שילמד איתו. הם החלו ללמוד, הבחור הסביר לו את הסוגיה פעם אחר פעם אך הוא לא הבין.

"למחרת הגיע יום השבת. במהלכה ניסה שוב הפרופסור ללמוד ללא הועיל. 'הערלה מפריעה לי להבין את הסוגיה', חשב הפרופסור, והחליט לבצע ברית מילה", ממשיך מוסר השיעור ומתאר כיצד התגלגלו העניינים.

ביום ראשון פנה לארגון 'ברית יצחק' שמתעסק בבריתות לאנשים מבוגרים, וארגנו לו באותו יום ברית. לאחר מספר ימים הגיע יום השיעור. הפרופסור התקשר והודיע למוסר השיעור כי הוא אינו מרגיש טוב ועל כן לא יגיע. יצוין כי הוא לא סיפר מעולה על ברית המילה שערך.

בשבוע שלאחר מכן, למדו השניים שוב את סוגית תגרי לוד. "אך ראה זה פלא, הוא הבין את הסוגיה, וקלט היטב את החשבונות והיו לו קושיות ותירוצים עד כדי חבורה שלימה. השתוממתי מאוד למראה עיניי: לפני שבועיים לא הבין כלום וכעת הוא מבין כל כך טוב", מספר מוסר השיעור וממשיך. "הפרופסור אמר לי: אתה ודאי מתפלא מה קרה... הרגשתי שהערלה מפריעה לי, ועשיתי ברית מילה. שבוע לאחר הברית הרגשתי קדושה, ועזבתי את אשתי הגויה. זוהי הסיבה שאני מבין את הסוגיה".

למחרת, נסעו השניים בהתרגשות לביתו של מרן הגראי"ל שטיינמן לתפילת ותיקין. לאחר התפילה נכנסו למרן, ומוסר השיעור אמר למרן כי האיש שלידו רוצה לומר לו 'חבורה' בענין 'תגרי לוד'. מרן הגראי"ל האזין בקשב לסוגיה, ולאחר מכן העיר מוסר השיעור: "זה האיש שדיברתי אודותיו לפני כחודשיים, שאינו מהול".

שמע זאת מרן הגראי"ל, חייך ואמר לפרופסור: "אתה כבר מהול". בתגובה פרץ הפרופסור בבכי, ושאל את מרן כיצד הוא יודע. השיב מרן הגראי"ל: ''אי אפשר להבין סוגית תגרי לוד כשיש ערלה, ואם הצלחת להבין את הסוגיה ברור שאתה מהול"...

Friday, July 22, 2016




The Avodas Yissachar asks what is hinted at by the mesora that traditionally the letter vav in the word shalom (25:12) is to be split in half. The word shalom is of course read as usual; there is no discernible difference in the traditional way we read shalom – the keri remains the same as always. Yet the kesiv, the written word shalom here, is traditionally different, as the vav is split. What does this teach us?

The split symbolizes the internal conflict we all face when serving Hashem. We all know the truth: we have sinned at times, sometimes we fail and falter, and many times we have not served Hashem properly, transgressing against Him and His laws of our holy Torah. So we feel broken, ashamed, and lowly. We know that humility leads to true yiras shamayim (fear of Hashem). However, teaches the Avodas Yissachar, we would do well at lowly times such as these to remember the teaching of the Tiferes Shlomo of Radomsk on the maamar Chazal, Pesachim 64, that ein maavirin al hamitzvos, which means literally that we don't pass over mitzvos. But the Tiferes Shlomo understands this to mean that when a mitzva comes to hand not only should you not let the opportunity pass you by; you should also not remember your aveiros. Rather, push those thoughts aside; focus not on past mistakes but on future accomplishments and achievements! This is what the broken vav symbolizes; it is our brokenheartedness due to past misdeeds.

The Avodas Yissachar also cites the holy Kozhnitzer Maggid that teaches us that the pasuk in Bamidbar 19:2 – asher ein bo mum asher lo ala aleha ol – "that has no blemish and has born no burden," can be read to mean that whoever does not recognize that he has blemishes and has made mistakes, cannot become elevated and his tefillos and mitzvos do not ascend to Hashem.

We need a balance. This is the balance of the keri and kesiv of shalom. On the inside, the kesiv, we are broken like the vav; on the outside we never give up, continuing to serve Hashem with joy. This is true shalom and shleimus!

The Nesivos Shalom says that one of the explanations of the sin of Klal Yisrael at this time was that they all stood mourning and crying outside the tent. He cites the Sabba Kadisha of Slonim who explains that this grave sin of the klal was yeush – hopelessness and despair! They had given up; they thought their sins were so bad, that they had sunk so low, that there was no way back, heaven forbid. This is when the yetzer hara is strongest: when a Yid chas veshalom falls into despair and says, "I give up – there is no hope!" Then he falls even lower to worse sins!

The Sabba Kadisha of Slonim taught the meaning of the pasuk: mussar Hashem beni al timas, which literally means "My son, do not hate or disparage the mussar of your father." The Sabba Kaddisha read this as: "The best mussar lesson from Hashem is – you are my son; I shall never disparage or hate you!" Even after the worst of sins, says Hashem, you will always be My child.

With such a message of hope we will overcome the evil yetzer and rise up to serve Hashem with joy, Amen.



There was once a soldier in the king's army who had a secret weapon. The king had granted him a precious weapon of such power and might that he alone was entrusted to safeguard and wield it in battle. What did the soldier do? He went to war; but once he had crossed over into enemy territory all his best-laid plans were foiled.

There he was ambushed by the enemy. The enemy was cunning, crafty and…beautiful and enticing. The enemy had sent a female soldier to lure and capture the king's soldier. The soldier was ensnared and betrayed the king. He handed over his secret weapon – the king's prized treasure, into the hands of the enemy! Although he was captured and held as a prisoner of war, he was eventually redeemed and brought back from captivity. Yet his judgment was not only to be court-martialed, he was sentenced to death for his betrayal, for handing over the king's secrets to the enemy!

The Slonimer Rebbe, in Nesivos Shalom, asks why Klal Yisrael were collectively blamed and punished for the actions of an individual (Zimri). He answers that their collective sin was the failure of hakaras chet – the failure to recognize the calamity and gravity of the sin in their midst. Which grave sin was this? Licentious behavior by a leader of the generation with a non-Jewish woman. What is so grave about this sin as opposed to others? Why does this crime outweigh others in its weight so that it brings about collective punishment as harsh as a plague that killed so many? The Nesivos Shalom explains that relations with a gentile woman are tantamount to taking the king's secret weapon, the sparks of holiness, and handing them over to the enemy. The penalty is death for such a grave crime, a betrayal of the King Himself.

Thursday, July 21, 2016



LeOzni Mishpachas Ho'Ozni – To Ozni, the Oznite family (26:16).

Rashi – this is Etzbon (mentioned in Bereishis 46:16).

The Shela HaKodosh learns a moshol from these words. He asks why Rashi equates Ozni with Etzbon. What's the connection? He teaches us a mussar lesson based on a play on words. Chazal teach (Kesubos 5b) that man's fingers were created shaped so that they fit perfectly in our ears. Why? So that he can place them in his ears and prevent himself from hearing anything negative. Rashi therefore compares Ozni to Etzbon: Ozen means "ear" and Etzba "finger". Thus, the pasuk, based on Rashi, is seen as a moshol telling us to team up the Ozen with the Etzba: if you wish to prevent yourself from hearing something ossur, stick your fingers in your ears!


LeYetzer Mishpachas HaYitzri, LeShillem Mishpachas HaShillemi – To Yetzer, the Yitzrite family, to Shillem, the Shillemite family (26:49).

The Chofetz Chaim used to say that this pasuk teaches us mussar by way of a moshol. Yetzer refers to the Yetzer Hora, the evil inclination to sin, and Shillem refers to the acquisition of shleimus, perfection, righteousness and good. The pasuk warns us that LeYetzer – whoever chooses to listen to his Yetzer HoraMishpachas HaYitzri –will have no problem finding a large family to take him in, a family of sinners, and others who chase after their passions and desires to do evil. The opposite, however, is also true: LeShillem – whoever decides to pursue the path of righteousness and straightforwardness and become whole and pure – Mishpachas HaShillemi – he is welcomed to the family of Tzaddikim, righteous people who all share the same desire to grow in Avodas Hashem. As Chazal tell us: BeDerech She'Odom Rotzeh Leylech Molichin Oso – a person is led upon whichever path he chooses.




Rav Elimelech Biderman tells a story:

"Rebbe, I am worthless," complained a dejected, despondent bachur before the Steipler Gaon, "I have no connection left to Torah or Avodas Hashem. The evil one has ensnared me in his net and I cannot fight anymore." The poor talmid sat there deflated and and explained why he felt this way: "I am constantly fighting my yetzer hora and I am defeated again and again; I never win!" "Never?" wondered the Steipler. "Do you honestly never succeed? Can you truly say you never win at all?" "Well, maybe just sometimes – once in a while," admitted the bachur. "Well," concluded the Steipler, "if so, your way is clear; don't look back at your failures at all – instead focus only on your victories. This will console you, and this is how you will slowly rise back up." The Steipler bolstered his words by pointing out how many seforim illustrate the process of teshuva by prescribing various methods to atone for past misdeeds. "However, the greatest tikkun one can effect," asserted the Steipler, "is to say to yourself, 'AD KAN – stop! Till here did I stumble – but no further. From this point on, I will get up and strengthen myself.' This is the greatest tikkun you can do!"



The Arizal teaches us that in the scheme of the head, the months of Tammuz and Av correspond to the eyes. This is the secret of the pasuk in Eicha (1:16), Eini Eini Yorda Mayim – "My eye runs constantly with water", referring to the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av. It is no coincidence that in the summer months of Tammuz and Av we have a special obligation to safeguard and sanctify our eyes more than at any other time of year.

A bachur once came to the Gerrer Rebbe, the Bais Yisrael, and complained that he had visited a Mekubal who had told him terrible things. "The Mekubal told me," he said, "that I have a lot of Ayin Horas that I must rid myself of!" The Rebbe calmed him and answered him thus: "Let me explain to you the Gemara's statement (Bava Metzia 107b), that 'ninety-nine out of a hundred die because of Ayin Hora (the evil eye) and one of natural causes'. What Chazal meant by Ayin Hora is that they died because they did not sufficiently protect and safeguard their eyes!" Concluded the Rebbe.

The Zlotshuver Maggid once observed that no other organ in the human body is as delicate as the eye. Take one single grain of sand and place it on any organ, nothing negative will happen. However, place just one single grain of sand in the eye…! The reason for the exalted position of the eyes is because the Shechina Herself rests on our eyes and, because they are a vehicle or dwelling place for Her, just one grain of sand or dirt can injure them!

The Biala Rebbe, author of Chelkas Yehoshua, had very poor eyesight in his later years. Eventually, during the last six years of his life, his right eye ceased to function, and his left eye saw only very dimly. His grandson related how, one Shabbos morning, the Rebbe awoke before dawn, as was his custom, and asked for a Siddur so as to recite the morning blessings of Birkas HaTorah and Keriyas Shema. When his grandson said it was still too dark to see, he went into the next room with his grandfather's Siddur, and, by the last light of the guttering candles, turned pages till he reached the Berachos in the Siddur. He asked the Rebbe if he would like to sit by the candles, yet the Rebbe demurred, saying it was unnecessary. After saying the Berachos, the Rebbe turned a few pages, recited the Rambam's Thirteen Principles of Faith and began reciting Shema – all from the Siddur, as his minhag was to daven only from a Siddur. His grandson, however, couldn't help but notice that as he gazed at the Siddur, it was so dark that he couldn't make out a single word. He wondered if his holy grandfather was simply gazing at the Siddur, because it was his minhag to daven only from a Siddur, yet not actually reading anything, being that his eyesight was so poor. Afterward, he took the Siddur and checked by the remaining candlelight and – lo and behold – the Siddur was turned to the correct page for Shema. He approached the Chelkas Yehoshua and asked him, "Zeida, how can you see? I am younger than you and my eyesight is better, yet I cannot read in this darkness! How do you do it?!" The Rebbe took his einikel's hands in his holy ones and said to him, "When you guard your eyes all your life, all the Devorim She'bikedusha shine!" (Kedushas Einayim Chap. 15, #126)

The Modzitzer Rebbe writes in Divrei Yisrael (Klalei Oraisa #Hay): The pasuk says in Sefer Shmuel Aleph (16:7): HaAdam Yireh La'Einayim Va'Hashem Yireh LaLevov ("Man sees with the eyes but Hashem sees into the heart"). The word Levov is an acronym whose Roshei Teivos (initial letters) spell: Lechem, Beged and Bayis (Bread, Clothing and Home). These items symbolize all the needs of a person. If a person takes care guarding his eyes, Hashem will take care of providing for all his physical needs, seeing to it that he lacks nothing, has bread to eat, clothing to wear and a place to live.

The Ra'avad writes in Ba'alei HaNefesh (Sha'ar HaKedusha) that the first protective fence that a person must erect around himself is to safeguard the eyes. Whoever protects his eyes protects his heart as well.

The Yerushalmi (Berachos 1:5) promises us that HaKodosh Boruch Hu declares: "If you give Me your heart and your eyes, I know that you are Mine!"


In honor of the Ohr haChaim HaKadosh's Yohrzeit we are re-issuing last year's parsha vort: ZYA


"The name of the Ish Yisrael who was slain, who was slain with the Midianite woman" (25:14).

The Ohr HaChaim HaKodosh is bothered by the seemingly repetitive mention of the word "slain" or "struck (down)" in our pasuk, as opposed to the single occurrence of the word in the following pasuk referring to the Midianite princess, Kozbi. He tells us, therefore, that this pasuk can be read in one of two ways: either as "The name [and soul] of the Ish Yisrael was struck down [because] he was struck by the Midianite woman [spiritually]", or as "The name of the Ish Yisrael who was struck down [physically by Pinchas], he was struck by the Midianite woman [spiritually, through his relationship with her]".

The Ohr HaChaim points out that Zimri was struck twice: physically, his body was struck down and slain by Pinchas who, in a zealous act of righteousness, killed him; and his soul was also struck down by his relationship with Kozbi, the Midianite princess, which defiled his name and his inner essence, the Jewish soul. The Ohr HaChaim says that this is why the pasuk points out the name of the Ish Yisrael – because we know that a person's name influences and expresses his soul's nature (Berachos 7b, Yoma 83b). When Zimri sinned with Kozbi, he fatally wounded his own name, together with his Jewish soul, dealing himself a lethal blow even before Pinchas slew him.

Nonetheless, the Ohr HaChaim concludes in the name of the Mekubolim that "Lo Yidach Mimenu Nidach" – no one is ever left behind; there is hope and a tikkun (rectification) for every Jew, no matter what. All the sparks of kedusha will eventually be ingathered and uplifted. No matter how far a Jew might stray and – Heaven forbid – blemish or defile his soul, Hashem guarantees that it will be rectified and will return to its root source in the end.

Therefore, says the Ohr HaChaim, the pasuk still calls Zimri an Ish Yisrael – an Israelite, a Jew. The pasuk testifies that although his act was sinful, and, since he was killed in the midst of sin he surely did not have time to do teshuva, nonetheless he is still called Yisrael – he still achieved his tikkun. How? Pinchas did that for him. Pinchas' act was not a random act of vigilante justice or murder; it was a zealous act of righteousness LiSh'ma – for the honor and glory of Hashem, with pure motivations. Thus, by killing Zimri, Pinchas did him the ultimate favor and was mesaken him, thereby atoning for his sin and elevating his soul.

Friday, June 10, 2016





"And Hashem spoke to Moshe saying "Naso es Rosh Bnei Gershon Gam Hem – please also uplift the heads of the sons of Gershon as well." (Bamidbar 4:21)

In his sefer Divrei Yechezkel, Rav Chatzkeleh Shinover conveys the following vort from Rav Tzvi ha'Kohen of Rymanow (also known as Reb Hirschele MeShares). The name or term "Moshe" can be interpreted as referring to a Tzaddik, because often the Gemara refers to a Talmudic sage speaking truth as "Moshe". For instance, "Moshe Shapir KeAmris," Moshe you have spoken truthfully." (Shabbos 101b). The name or term "Gershon" can be interpreted as referring to those who are "gerushin" or "megerushim", that is "sent or chased away".

Thus, we can interpret this pasuk as Hashem telling the Tzaddikim in each generation to uplift and raise the heads of those who feel distant from sanctity and holiness. The Shinover confided that when he heard Reb Hirshele MeShares' words, they uplifted him, enlightening his soul, making it shine and raising him high.


"Ko sevarchu es Bnei Yisroel Emor Lahem – So shall you bless the children of Israel, say unto them." (Bamidbar 6:23)

"Emor Lahem kemo Zachor veShamor – say to them just like "remember and safeguard [Shabbos]". (Rashi ad hoc)

It was Erev Shabbos. Rav Menachem Mendel of Rymanow was in a quandary. He had no fish for Shabbos Kodesh! What should he do? As the afternoon waned and Shabbos drew near, he turned to his faithful servant, Reb Hirschele MeShares, and asked him to prepare the cooking utensils they used to cook fish in honor of Shabbos. Reb Hirschel gathered wood, lit and stoked the fire in the stove and boiled water in the fish pot. Rav Mendel also asked Reb Hirschel to chop and cook up the carrots and the onions. With each act and task Reb Hirschel was instructed to say "Le'Kuved Shabbos Kodesh - " in honor of the holy Shabbos. Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. A guest had arrived to celebrate Shabbos with his Rebbe. Amazingly, the guest had brought Rav Mendel a gift in honor of Shabbos… Fish!

Later on during the Shabbas tisch, Rav Mendel explained to his followers and Chassidim,: "The sanctity of Shabbos comes down and draws down with it all forms of shefa (abundance) and blessings from on High. Whoever wishes to accept and receive the shefa must prepare himself by transforming his will and desire into speech by saying "Le'Kuved Shabbos Kodesh!" Then the shefa will come down to him. Chazal( our sages) alluded to this when they said: "Zachor and Shamor (remember and safeguard Shabbos) were said together as one – Be'Dibur Echad," (Rosh HaShanna 27a) because all blessing hinges upon and depends upon speech! I based my bitachon (faith) that I would have fish for Shabbos on the fact that Reb Hirschel had prepared everything for Shabbas by saying the words "Le'Kuved Shabbos Kodesh."

As Rav Menachem Mendel's replacement Rebbe in Rymanow, Reb Hirschel MeShares used to relate this story and to illustrate the meaning behind Rashi's commentary to the pasuk "Ko Sevarchu…Emor Lahem" concerning the Birkas Kohanim – the priestly blessings. Rashi is troubled as to why the verse includes the additional words v'emor lahem – so shall you bless them, say to them? Wouldn't it have sufficed to say "So shall you bless them." Rashi then explains that these extra words "say to them" demonstrate the power of words. Just as with the enactments of Shabbos, the Torah included the words "Zachor and Shamor" both written in words and spoken due to the secret power of the spoken word to bring forth shefa and blessings, similarly this power of words is reflected in Birkas Kohanim as well. Just as the abundance and blessings of Shabbos can be harnessed via the words "Le'Kuved Shabbos Kodesh", Hashem wanted the Kohenim to say the words aloud in order to harness the blessing and abundance that flows from the words themselves.



A terrible thing had happened! The crown prince had been kidnapped and captured by a band of criminals! Bound and fettered, the prince languished in a cell, a prisoner with no hope of escape. The criminals sent ransom notes to the king asking him to pay them hefty sums to free their captive.

The king had a faithful servant who was a skilled warrior. In order to save the prince, he knew he would have to descend to the deepest rankest, the foulest pits and dens below the earth. The criminals lurked in hiding amidst the scum and filth, sewers and cesspools, in darkness.

The servant approached the guarded den of thieves and criminals.

He steeled and girded himself with courage. He reminded himself of the great service he was doing to his beloved king, and how grateful and happy the king and prince would be when they were reunited. For the sake of the king, the servant slunk down into the depths and descended into the underworld, braving its dangers. Finally, he reached the cell where the prince sat, forlorn and despondent. The prince dreamed of the day when he would once again bask in the light and splendor of the king's royal visage. He longed to be reunited with his beloved father, the king. Waiting for the opportune time, the skilled warrior attacked the guards. Executing a few skilled strokes, the servant defeated the criminals and rescued the prince!

In Mevaser Tzedek Rav Yissacher, Ber of Zlotshuv uses this parable to illustrate the pasuk: "And Hashem spoke to Moshe saying Naso es Rosh Bnei Gershon Gam Hem – please also uplift the heads of the sons of Gershon as well." (Bamidbar 4:21) He teaches that there are Tzaddikim who use their prowess and skills to rescue and uplift Bnei Gershon - the cast away and captives –that is, those that have been sent away and chased away into dungeons – and reunite them with Hashem, their Father the King. These Tzaddikim draw these princes close and reunite them with their loving families to Beis Avosam - their loving Father.


There was once a wealthy man whose only son resisted all attempts at refinement and education. His tutors and teachers could not help, all was to no avail. He simply refused to act and live a just and true life. The wealthy man disowned his son and refused to have anything more to do with him. He neglected him and did not buy him any new clothes or shoes. Eventually, the boy's appearance matched his deeds, he looked as well as acted like a homeless tramp! His once beautiful and refined garments eventually grow soiled, tattered and torn with use and lack of repair. His jackets needed mending, his knees were torn, his shoes were unpolished and full of holes and he looked like an unkempt street urchin.

One day, a former acquaintance of the boy's father saw the son in the street. Appalled by the boy's appearance, he asked , "Why do you, the son of such a wealthy man, go in such a manner, dressed in rags and tatters?!" The silly boy responded that he did not have a penny to his name to mend his clothes or buy new ones. "My father won't have any new clothes made for me!" he finished in a sulk. The man laughed. "You foolish child! I didn't ask you why you don't have new clothes made for you, I am asking why don't you behave yourself and act the way someone of your status and station ought to behave? If you lived a just and righteous life, your father would be proud of you and would care after you, including buying you shiny shoes and a new suit of clothes fitting for the son of a wealthy nobleman! You would not need to wander the streets like some lowlife ragtag. You would make him happy and would enjoy the pleasure of being taken care of and of giving him the nachas he deserves. you would have satisfaction of knowing you deserved this goodness and kindness. He only wants to bestow all his goodness, riches and wealth on you, his precious beloved son?!"

Inn Siach Sarfei Kodesh, the Kozhnitzer Maggid explains that this is the way we, the Jewish people, act. We are Hashem's beloved precious children, the apple of His eye. Hashem wishes to bestow upon us a wealth of blessings and abundance of shefa from His supernal storehouses of Beracha and Hatzlacha. However, we often act in such a way that prevents us from receiving all that goodness. The yetzer hara causes us to deviate from the path of righteousness which breaks the vessel we need to accept His blessings. In this pasuk, "Ko sevarchu es Bnei Yisroel Emor Lahem – So shall you bless the children of Israel, say unto them." (Bamidbar 6:23), Hashem is telling Moshe to tell Aharon that He wishes to bless Bnei Yisroel and they will be the vehicle to carry that out. However, there is a condition embedded in the words "emor lahem" – that is, they must tread on the righteous path of justice and truth and walk in the ways of Hashem with Torah and Avodah. They will only be worthy of receiving the berachos, that is of having a vessel with which to receive the bounty of shefa if their behavior (their sins) break their vessels and thus prevent them from doing so.



Rav Elimelech Biderman taught the following from Rav Aharon of Karlin, author of Beis Aharon.

Once when the Karliner was sitting at his tisch, he sent one of the Chassidim outside to see what was going on in the street and report back what he had seen. The Chassid reported that he had seen two drunks swaying back and forth to and fro across the pavement. They were so drunk they could not walk in a straight line. One drunk said to the other: "Here, let's hold each other and this way we won't fall down!" The holy Tzaddik, the Karliner taught a lesson from these drunks to his Chassidim, "Do you hear?! Did you hear what he said! If we each hold onto each other, then we will not fall!"

The Beis Aharon explained the statement of our Sages (Sukkah 52b) "Whoever is greater than his fellow, his evil inclination is greater than him." . If a person feels that he is "greater than", then that is from "his fellow", this greatness is achieved through his friendship and love and attachment to his fellow Jews. However if his evil inclination is "greater than", then that is from him, then he remains alone because he is by himself lacking the companionship and camaraderie of others to uplift him.


Rav Eliyahu Roth, the faithful gabbai of Rav Shlomka of Zhvill, told the following story in which he himself featured. It was Shavuos night, when Klal Yisroel stays up all night. As dawn approached, the tzadik Rav Shlomka of Zhvill turned to his trusted gabbai and said, "You should know that every year as the dawn of Shavuos approaches, Hashem Himself asks each and every Yiddishe Neshama, "Who is willing to accept the Torah?" and all the Yiddishe Neshamos answer, Naase VeNishma! – "We will do and we will hear!" Turning to Rav Eliyahu Roth, Rav Shlomka said, "Now let us together declare Naase VeNishma."

Rav Meizlish in his sefer Sichos BeAvodas Hashem cites the above story and asks, what is the purpose of declaring "Naase VeNishma" every year specifically before dawn? Would it not be more fitting for us to proclaim "Naase VeNishma" during the day when we hear these same words in Keriyas HaTorah of Shavuos? Furthermore, what is actually achieved when our souls are asked to accept Torah and they reply "Naase VeNishma "? After all, the soul has no free will, and we are not even aware that this dialogue transpires.

Rav Meizlish answers that when studying all night long, you often feel frustration as your head swims, you need another coffee, you push yourself, psyche yourself up. You try harder to keep going, another line, another blatt, another Rashi and Tosfos, another pasuk. The darkness of the night reflects the darkness of our minds, toiling and suffering to break through the obscurity and a lack of clarity.

This is precisely the type of Mesirus Nefesh in learning that Shavuos demands of us. The proclamation of Naase VeNishma is a form of oath. The Beis Avraham says that the name of the Yom Tov of Shavuos can be interpreted as a shavua (an oath) such as the pledge of allegiance that a soldier takes when he is sworn in to serve in the armed forces and fight against the enemy.

We too are soldiers in Hashem's army and on Shavuos we pledge allegiance to Hashem, our Commander in Chief, as we are sworn in with a shavua that we will serve Hashem faithfully and fight against our enemy, the yetzer hara.

The Meor Aynaim of Chernobyl teaches in parshas Yisro that the primary virtue of Klal Yisroel's having declared Naase VeNishma is not that they accepted the pleasant and pleasurable aspects of Torah. This is taanug and neimus (pleasure and delight) in Torah study and observance. When Klal Yisroel said Naase VeNishma, they were accepting the Torah under all circumstances, even when it is an ol (a yoke and a burden), even when it is difficult and requires effort and exertion. Specifically during trying times, when Torah study is challenging, when one lacks the enthusiasm to learn and one needs to push oneself, Klal Yisroel's declaration of Naase VeNishma is relevant! Because, explains the Meor Aynaim, he who wishes to serve Hashem only when it is pleasant is not serving Hashem at all; he is worshipping himself! Such an avodah where you are focused on your own delight and pleasure is in fact a taavah like all the other taavos — a desire like any other desire! Rather, we must be faithful servants of Hashem who serve at all times and under all circumstances. This is the Naase VeNishma that Klal Yisroel accepted upon themselves at Matan Torah.

This is also why we read Megilas Rus, for Rus converted under trying circumstances demonstrating true Mesirus Nefesh, saying, "Where you die there I shall die" (Rus 1:17). Rus was ready to die for Hashem and follow Klal Yisroel even though it mean self-sacrifice and poverty.

This is our affirmation of Naase VeNishma on Shavuos night before the dawn after a long hard night of learning.


Rav Elimelech Biderman shares the following story of Hashgacha Pratis apropos Kabbalas HaTorah and Chag HaShavuos:


There was a Yid who made Torah study his primary occupation and his livelihood secondary. Although he was occupied with his business concerns for most hours of the day, nonetheless he punctiliously attended a Gemara shiur each evening. His daily attendance at the shiur was a firm commitment; nothing prevented him from attending the shiur. Nothing…until the day he received an invitation to his nephew's chasuna.

Now he was in a real quandary. On one hand, how could he miss the shiur? On the other hand, how could he miss the chasuna of his own nephew? Not knowing what to do he approached the Maggid Shiur and explained his dilemma. The Maggid Shiur listened patiently, smiled, and said, "No worries, I have a solution for you that will allow you to fulfill both your obligations. What if I told you that you could attend the shiur and still dance at the chasuna?" The Yid was at a loss — he couldn't imagine how he could accomplish both on the same evening. "I already taught this masechta last cycle and recorded all the shiurim," explained the Maggid Shiur with a smile, and with a flourish he presented the man with a recording of the shiur on the same daf that he would be teaching that evening.

Elated, our protagonist entered the car with his family, and as he drove to the chasuna, the shiur began playing. All was going well until the family found themselves behind a large, slow-moving vehicle. The truck's pace was that of a large snail, and gradually the frustration in the car grew until it reached a crescendo. "At this rate we will get to the chasuna after the last mitzvah tantz," cried the exasperated family. Finally the pressure was too much and the driver decided he had to do something about it. (Now let me make this clear, interrupted Rav Biderman, it is absolutely forbidden to do what this Yid did; it is illegal and sakanas nefashos (a deadly danger). We are commanded by the Torah to look after ourselves — "venishmartem me'od lenafshosaychem — and you shall watch yourselves very well." However, we cannot judge the pressure he was under.) Despite there being a straight and unbroken dividing line on the highway that forbids passing in the opposite lane, our driver checked for oncoming traffic and seeing none proceeded to enter the opposite lane in order to pass the truck in front of him.

As soon as he entered the opposite traffic lane, his heart jumped into his throat at the sound of a blaring police siren. "Oh no, here comes a ticket!" Instinctively he pulled back into his lane...just in the nick of time for it seems that although our driver had checked beforehand, a truck was speeding down the opposite lane. He was traveling so fast that although he had not been in our driver's field of vision before, had our driver entered the opposite lane and attempted to pass the truck in front, there was no doubt that he would have collided with the speeding vehicle head on! Amazed at the fact that Baruch Hashem their lives had been saved, our driver braced himself for the chastisement and ticket that the traffic cops would surely hand him after pulling him over. He was happy to pay, since they had clearly just saved his life. To his amazement, however, there was no siren, no police car in his rearview mirror, nor any other car behind him on the road at all! The police seemed to have somehow vanished into thin air. Well, he didn't need to actively seek a ticket and so he continued driving. At a further point the slow-moving truck in front of him pulled over a little onto the shoulder. This, combined with a now-dotted line, allowed our driver to legally and safely pass the truck and make it together with his family to his nephew's chasuna and fulfill the mitzvah of simchas chosson vekallah.

On the way home after the mitzvah tantz, the driver decided to make good use of his time and review the shiur. He turned on the tape and after a short while in the middle of his listening to the shiur his heart jumped as again he heard the loud blare of a police siren. It was then that he grasped that the siren was in fact recorded on the tape! The Aibishter had prepared the refua before the maka (the cure before the calamity). Hashem had arranged it so that a police car with shrieking sirens had passed by the shiur while this very daf was being taught, and it had all been recorded. Due to our driver's diligence and unfailing devotion to kevias itim leTorah, he had procured the tape that saved his and his family's life!


After Rav Shlomka of Zvhill got married, he continued eating all his meals in his father Rav Mordechai's home, relying on him for parnassa. Each day Rav Mordechai handed his daughter-in-law a set sum for their needs, until one day Rav Shlomka thought to himself, "Isn't a Jew supposed to believe that Hashem alone takes care of all his physical and financial needs? Isn't it therefore inappropriate for me to rely on my father's help and support? Surely Hashem will send me what is due to me no matter what!" So he told his wife to no longer accept the daily income from his father, Rav Mordechai.

Several days later, there was no food left in Rav Shlomka's home. He began to doubt his decision and reasoned, "Perhaps I was mistaken. Who am I to mix into Hashem's affairs as to how He runs the world? If Hashem chose my father as the emissary, surely I must not question this or decide that my parnassa should come from some other source." And so he asked his wife to go back and accept money from his father as she had previously. When she came into Rav Mordechai he saw her and remarked, "I see you weren't here for a few days, so I shall give you the sum of one full ruble which will total a week's worth of allowance."

That day two wealthy Chassidim came to visit Rav Mordechai and afterwards they decided to visit his son, Rav Shlomka, as well to congratulate him on his recent marriage. They wished Rav Shlomka mazal tov, and one of them took out a ruble from his pocket as they conversed. Rav Shlomka realized that this was to be his wedding gift. However as their conversation drew to a close, the chassid forgot what he had wanted to do with the money and simply slipped the coin back into his pocket. After some time Rav Shlomka's Rebbetzin returned from her father-in-law with a ruble in hand. Then Rav Shlomka put one ruble and one ruble together and understood that a ruble had been ready and waiting for him from Shomayim! The chassid was sent to hand it over to him, however as he was poised to do so, his Rebbetzin accepted the ruble from his father and so the chassid pocketed the ruble.

Rav Biderman said, "Although simple people like us are not on such a high level, we can learn from this an important lesson. Whatever we receive from others is ultimately from Hashem and these people are just his shluchim (emissaries). If someone stops giving us, it is not to them we need to turn to with tearful entreaties, rather it is to Hashem, for that person neither gave nor took, rather Hashem Himself is the Source of all!"