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16 Ellul 5767 - August 30, 2007 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Opinion & Comment
"Evil Comes on its Own to an Evildoer"

A shmuess by HaRav Shach ztvk"l given before Rosh Hashonoh

Really I should be standing before you without speaking, I should just be standing and crying . . . .

One has to know that the biggest chalaf (shechitoh knife) of a person is habit. A person cannot free himself from his habits. He will always keep his regular habits. He does not change. Most people return to being who they were before Yom Kippur after Yom Kippur is over. They daven differently on Yom Kippur. They klap Al Cheit, cry, beg Hashem and do teshuva, but the next morning they are the same as they always were. The same! Why? Habit!

Habits pull a person back to his previous status. On Erev Yom Kippur he was on a certain spiritual level, and the morning after Yom Kippur he did not change. This is the avodoh of the Torah, the avodoh of mussar: to eradicate habits.

You should know rabbosai, man's nature is such that he may stand and daven, say Krias Shema, and when he says "Shema Yisroel Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echod" and thinks about "echod" — "echod Elokeinu bashomayim uvo'oretz" — he simultaneously thinks about other things, about other business. Those thoughts are like misasek (thoughts that come virtually automatically), he thinks them by the way (literally "es trocht zich" — they think themselves), without intending them and without prior reason, the words of Krias Shema and the tefilloh come out of his mouth automatically ("es redt zich fun moil arois verter"), and he does not even know what he is saying! This is habit, this is nature, he does not know what he says — and this is the greatest churban.

This is the way the world runs. Everyone lives without substance. They have nothing. They do not know how to define their life's goal. Nothing is clear because their life is just food, drink, dance, making themselves happy, and to live pleasurably, to enjoy the world and to while away the time. They give birth to children, and their children will be just like them and so on ad infinitum — so what is the purpose?

What is life? What do you have? You have nothing! Why are you alive? They have no interpretation, they have no explanation, and do not know how to justify why we have to live eighty years. After all, if you die after seventy years you do not need more. If you live eighty years then you need to be happy and enjoy yourself for eighty years. But if you live only seventy years then you only need to enjoy yourself for seventy years. So what do you gain from the extra ten years?

No one knows how to answer this, in all their literature there is no explanation to this. Although I am not a professor and I have not read all their literature, I cannot imagine that they have any other theory. No one thinks that after he dies he will rest peacefully in his grave. No one thinks that he will also enjoy the theater in the grave, and that he has pleasure and dances there. But this is what he worked on all his life. His whole life is worthless and he gains nothing from it.

In one Mechitzoh with the Chofetz Chaim

You know who can tell us what is the purpose and the end of every man? Only One: He who created the world, He who created man. He knows that after death He resurrects. After death man sits in the heavenly Yeshivoh, AYY!

After death the Chofetz Chaim sits, this Gaon, this Tzaddik, this Gaon, this godol and this masmid and this person who stayed away from aveiros. I mention the Chofetz Chaim now while he sits happily and dances! I saw in the sefer Galia Maseches (fourth teshuvoh) a teshuvoh from HaRav Dovid Novardoker to Rav Dovid Mirrer, who were both talmidim of HaRav Chaim Volozhiner, and he writes there about pshat in a Rambam: "I am convinced that all the gedolim, may they rest in peace in Gan Eden, will be grateful to me . . . especially since they are in the same quarters (mechitzoh) as the Rambam z"l and he testifies and tells them his real intention, and he tells them that his real intention is what the Novardoker writes about him." How much happiness this brings a person!

We find in the gemora of Chagigah (15b): Rav Bar Shiloh was walking on the street when he met Eliyohu Hanovi as we meet a friend. He asked Eliyohu Hanovi what Hashem was doing at that moment. Eliyohu replied that Hashem was saying the statements of all the rabbonim except for those of Rabbi Meir. Eliyohu Hanovi answered that Hashem was saying all the words of the Tanoim and Amoroim, everything that is written in the gemora, in Chazal, in the Beis Yosef, in the Shulchan Oruch, Hashem says all the Halochos — except for those of Rebbi Meir. He asked him, "Why not those of Rebbi Meir?" Eliyohu answered him, "Because he learnt Torah from Acher who left the ways of the Torah." He then asked Eliyohu, "But he learned Acher's Torah, and not his evil ways!" Eliyohu told him, "Now that you argued on behalf of Rabbi Meir, Hashem is learning his halochos."

Do you hear what is written here? Also after Rebbi Meir's death Hashem learns his halochos and he is alive forever! Who is alive forever? Not the person who goes to the theater! Not the person who is busy with "ball games"!

Who lives forever? He who learns Chazal, he who learns gemora, a person who is a masmid, a yerei Shomayim. He stays alive after death.

Thus we also found in Gittin (6b): "Rav Evyosor is the one whose view is confirmed by his Master (Hashem), as it says, `And his concubine played the harlot against him.' Rav Evyosor says that the Levi found a fly on her, and Rav Yonoson says that he found a hair on her. Rav Evyosor (subsequently) came across Eliyohu and said to him, `What is HaKodosh Boruch Hu doing?' and he answered, `He is discussing the story of Pilegesh Begiv'oh.' `What does he say?' `He says, My son Evyosor says so-snd-so and My son Yonoson says so-snd-so'." When HaKodosh Boruch Hu repeats a person's statements, such a person lives for ever, but the rest of the world dies (shtarbt doch op). Should one then be jealous of them?

The Torah is a Toras Chaim

It is now Erev Rosh Hashonoh. We have to wake up! I just realized something that had never occurred to me before: Look in parshas Ki Seitzei and you will notice something wonderful. There is no one in the world who can take account of all the details man's needs in this world, because a human being cannot know the whole world's needs. I may know my needs, but I do not know Reuven's needs, and of course I do not know the needs of a thousand people. I cannot dictate to a thousand people how to conduct themselves. But the Torah instructs millions of people.

Look at all the parshiyos, especially in parshas Ki Seitzei, and you will see how every little detail is written in the Torah. Even permissible things the Torah warns us about. First it says "and you will see an eishes yefas to'ar in her captivity," the Torah permitted this, since "the Torah did only spoke against the yetzer hora," but it is written that she will give birth to a ben sorer umoreh. A man should not marry a yefas to'ar because she will beget him a ben sorer umoreh.

After this the parsha carries on with the mitzvah of hashovas aveidoh and the mitzvah of perikah and te'ina "You should surely help him." This mitzvah applies even to someone one dislikes intensely as is written in parshas Shofetim (23:4-5). Even if you hate someone you have to return his lost object and help him set up his donkey. And we were commanded which nations not to distance ourselves from, (23,8). If you look carefully you will notice that every small detail is written in the Torah, even simple things. Anything which may happen to a person the Torah advises us on how to behave in those circumstances. Therefore the Torah does not make life difficult for a person, the Torah is a Toras Chaim, and is appropriate for all details of our lives. The Torah is eternal! Even before a person's death the Torah advises him to do teshuvoh. A person is filled with joy with because of the Torah.

End of Part I

(This shmuess was given in the Ponovezh Yeshiva and is published here almost verbatim. It is in the pamphlet, "Hi Sichosi.")

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