Before we enter bein hazmanim we have to realize that
it requires preparation, like any spiritual endeavor. If one
does not prepare himself he would be like someone who
commits suicide. The foundation of bein hazmanim is
that we must have things to do.
Certainly, bein hazmanim is a time to rest. However
rest is also something positive, active. This is implied in
the posuk: "And G-d completed on the seventh day His
work that He did, and He abstained on the seventh day from
all His work that He did" (Bereishis 2:2). Rashi
cites the Chazal: "What was the world lacking? Rest. The
Shabbos came, and so came rest. The work was completed and
If rest were only the cessation of work, how is possible
that the world was lacking such a thing and that work was
needed to finish it?
We find in the halachos for writing a sefer
Torah the law of the "open" paragraphs (pesuchos)
and the "closed" ones (setumos). If the scribe closed
a paragraph that was meant to be open, the entire sefer
Torah is invalid, even the parts done properly with
The same applies to a ben Yeshiva during the bein
hazmanim. If he makes sedorim for himself just as
he has when he is in yeshiva, he will be physically weak
when the new zman arrives while his friends are
starting with renewed vigor. This is a great wrong. He is
not only invalidating the new zman, he is
invalidating the previous zman as well.
The Rambam entitled the section in Mishneh Torah on
seder Moed: "Zmanim." The explanation is that
zmanim are special times for some purpose. Therefore
the holidays are called "zman," such as the zman
kotzir, time of harvesting, or zman matan
Toroseinu, the time of the giving of our Torah.
Likewise, the holidays are called "moed" in the Torah
(for example, mo'adei Hashem, asher tikre'u osom
bemo'adom, lemo'eid chodesh ho'oviv). However, the Torah
does not write moed regarding Shavuos. This is
because all the other Yomin Tovim have set dates
(Pesach - 15th of Nisan, Succos - 15th of Tishrei), but
concerning Shavuos the gemora says: "Sometimes it is
on the fifth, sometimes on the sixth, and sometimes on the
seventh" (Rosh Hashanah 6b). The date depends on
whether Nisan and Iyar were full 30 day months or 29 day
months, but Shavuos is always fifty days after Pesach. Since
its date is not fixed it is not called a moed,
because moed refers only to what has a fixed date or
fixed place, such as the Ohel Moed, the Tabernacle,
or "veno'adeti eileicho."
Zman in a yeshiva means that the student is obligated
to keep the Yeshiva's sedorim. Bein hazmanim is a
time of rest but not a time for bitul Torah; it is a
time that is "between the times." (Not to kill time —
"men harget avek di tzeit").
The zman of bein hazmanim is a particularly
hard zman, because there is no mashgiach and
we have to make the sedorim by ourselves. In yeshiva
we have an advantage in that we are obligated to keep
sedorim and have to accept upon ourselves the yoke of
On the other hand, the yeshiva also has a disadvantage. For
example, if someone enjoys learning beki'us —
and there is a great advantage in learning what one enjoys
— he will have difficulty doing so when he must keep
up with the roshei yeshiva's shiurim and learn only
what is learned in the yeshiva.
I knew that the gaon HaRav Dovid Rappaport
ztvk'l was a boki in all of Shas,
literally by heart. He knew the entire Shas word for
word, and anyone who needed to the exact language of any
gemora, anywhere could ask him. I tested him and I
have never seen another man who was a boki in the
entire Shas by heart as he was.
Now, such an accomplishment is impossible in a yeshiva. He
was able to do so because his father was wealthy and hired a
private teacher for him instead of sending him to yeshiva.
He held the view that the Torah shebe'al peh means
literally that his son should learn the entire gemora
For another godol, the yeshiva system was a definite
benefit. If he would not have been forced to learn the
yeshiva's curriculum he could have made chiddushim on
the entire maseches, and not just the first two
perokim. However, if he had not been in the yeshiva
he would have become a "vilder iluy." The yeshiva
provided him with the great benefit of forcing him to learn
in sedorim and he was thus able to utilize his
Someone might make the claim that since it is written in the
gemora and codified by the Rambam that a man's main
wisdom comes from studying all night, he will learn from
sunset until sunrise and pray in the vosikin minyan,
and then sleep all day. Perhaps he would become a
chochom, but he has no place in a yeshiva.
The purpose of bein hazmanim is that a ben
yeshiva can think for himself about his path in
learning, and evaluate his situation [for what to do in that
time]. He may learn a lighter maseches, or
beki'us, or catch up on Chumash with Rashi in
depth, or Tanach, which are not part of the yeshiva's
curriculum. Resting our mind from the strenuous thought of
iyun is a great benefit. We also need to rest our
bodies from the physical exertion of the zman and
strengthen ourselves. One could learn to swim if his father
never taught him.
Another point needs to be clarified regarding the bein
hazmanim. We are living in a generation of baalei
teshuvoh. There are so many baalei teshuvoh
because man's nature is to continuously change his path in
life. In this generation, which is on such a low level that
they cannot descend any lower, automatically some people
return and recognize the truth.
Returning even one Jewish soul back to learning Torah and
observing the mitzvos is certainly a great mitzvah, and is
equivalent to saving the entire world. However, this mitzvah
requires great caution. Many methods that people use for
kiruv require a shailas chochom whether they
For example, going to a place of mixed dancing between young
men and women, thinking he could be mekarev them by
taking part in the dancing, is certainly prohibited. It is
prohibited to mix with them; this is simple and needs no
shailas chochom, because "your life," i.e. your
spiritual welfare, takes precedence.
There is a yetzer hora to think that for the sake of
making baalei teshuvoh everything is permitted
without making any calculations.
HaRav Itzel Petterburg said in the name of his rebbe, Maran
HaRav Yisroel Salanter, that kiruv rechokim is
compared to those who serve as garbage collectors. No one
could say that because they clean the street they are clean
themselves. Of course not! Since they carry the garbage the
odor clings to them.
The same applies to kiruv rechokim: the odor of
transgression clings to the one who deals with it and so he
needs to be cautious.
There is a method of kiruv rechokim that is kosher
according to all views and does not present the danger
discussed above. In Megillas Rus we read: "And they
said to her, `No, but we will return with you to your
people'" (Rus 1:10). Both Rus and Orpah wanted to
return with Naomi to Eretz Yisroel. "And Naomi said,
`Return, my daughters; why should you go with me?'"
(Ibid. 11). "And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but
Rus cleaved to her" (14).
The Sages revealed what kind of inner potential they had.
(Orpah returned and engaged in immoral relation on that
night, becoming pregnant with Golias the Plishti, the one
whom the people of Yisroel later needed to kill). Both of
them wanted to return to Eretz Yisroel with Naomi
even though she never tried to convince them and, on the
contrary, she tried to dissuade them.
In the end Orpah returned to her people and her gods, "but
Rus cleaved to her." What did Rus see that encouraged her to
cleave to Naomi? She had never been in Eretz Yisroel.
They had never heard anything about the Jews, because it
was a time of famine and foreign peddlers were forbidden to
go to Eretz Yisroel. Orpah had great potential as
well, and yet she returned to her people. What did Rus see
more than Orpah?
The answer is that there are two types of guidance: 1)
Chinuch — education, and 2) Hashpo'oh,
influence. Chinuch means going down to the level of
the one being educated, understanding his situation, and
leading him — the way one would lead an ox.
Hashpo'oh comes from the same language as
meshupah, slanted. This can be compared to rain
falling on a slanted roof and the water pours off onto a
pedestrian on the sidewalk below. The roof is not aware that
it pours water upon the man below; it occurs
We need to do the same thing in spiritual matters. We should
not attempt to educate another person at all. Rather, our
behavior should automatically influence the other. When the
other person sees our behavior he will be awakened on his
own to do teshuvoh.
The ben Torah should practice kiruv through
hashpo'oh — inspiring a fellow Jew to become a
ben Torah. In this method the goal of a ben
Torah is to be himself — a ben Torah
— and not to lower himself from the level he is
currently in. The searching person will eventually realize
the greatness of Torah, tefilloh, and middos,
and be inspired to follow in the ways of a ben
This was the way it was regarding Naomi. She kept the Jewish
religion and made her home a Jewish home, and her daughters-
in-law saw her practices. The power of influence is
Through Naomi's actions, Rus was influenced and cleaved to
her, and Melech HaMoshiach is descended from Rus.
On the other hand, Orpah did not learn, and she was
therefore not influenced and she did not realize her
potential. From Naomi, though, the Sages learn the laws of
conversion. On the contrary, there is no mitzvah to bring
the gentiles closer; we must actually discourage them from
Maran HaRav Yisroel Salanter had three disciples: HaRav
Itzel Petterburg, HaRav Simcha Zissel (the Alter of Kelm),
and HaRav Naftoli Amsterdam. Maran HaRav Yisroel instructed
HaRav Itzel to be a rov, and HaRav Simcha Zissel to be a
maggid, a preacher. The custom of maggidim in
those days was to go to cities to preach mussar in
shuls, between minchah and ma'ariv, and they
placed a pushka to collect money by the door of the
shul for their parnossoh.
HaRav Simcha Zissel told Maran HaRav Yisroel Salanter that
he did not wish to use a pushka because he already
had a parnossoh from his wife's store. Maran HaRav
Yisroel answered that he should put the pushka down
anyway and give the money to tzedokoh.
He told him that this is because when they see the
maggid does not take any money, human nature dictates
that they will think the maggid is only coming to
rebuke them and they will close their hearts, because they
do not want to hear any mussar. But when they see he
takes money they think he is coming just for his
parnossoh and not to rebuke them, so they will
listen. Even though it is not clear they will actually
listen, but still, a few words of his rebuke will enter
their hearts. How great is the power of influence!
There is another point of caution for bein hazmanim.
Although chillul Hashem is possible when a ben
Yeshiva is in the Yeshiva, nevertheless, it is on a
smaller level because only the other bnei Yeshiva see
it. However, when the ben Yeshiva goes to the street,
the potential for chillul Hashem is much greater,
because everyone looks at him as a ben Yeshiva and
therefore all his deeds must be appropriate for a ben
The gemora says that chillul Hashem for Rebbe
Yochonon would be if he walked four amos without
tefillin. Even if he had a headache he had to wear
his tefillin or else write a sign that he had a
headache and hang it around his neck. Even though for a
normal person this would not [even] be a transgression, for
Rebbe Yochonon it was a chillul Hashem!
All this is included in the Beraissa that interprets
the posuk: "And you shall love Hashem your G-d"
— the Name of Heaven should become beloved through
your actions. One should read and learn and serve Torah
scholars, and he should be pleasant in his business dealings
with others. What will they say about him? "Fortunate is his
father who taught him Torah, . . ."
The Rosh writes in Orchos Chaim that people normally,
"discount the good points and magnify the faults." If a
ben Yeshiva does something improper during the
bein hazmanim, people will say: "That's what a ben
Yeshiva is all about." One needs to be very careful
about this, and try to do good deeds so that people will say
about him: "Yisroel — in you I am glorified."
This shmuess was originally delivered in Yeshivas
Philadelphia and was originally published in a Daf
Chizuk of Zeirei Agudath Israel of America in Sivan 5738,