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!"

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