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11 Tishrei 5766 - October 15, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Opinion & Comment
"I love Him, for Hashem hears my voice"

by HaRav Shmuel Halevi Wosner

We are in the midst of the holy yomim tovim, and in hallel we say, "I love Him, for Hashem hears my voice, my supplications. As He has inclined His ear to me, so in my days shall I call. The pains of death encircled me, the confines of the grave have found me, trouble and sorrow I would find, then I would invoke in the Name of Hashem: please Hashem save my soul, gracious is Hashem and righteous, our G- d is merciful, etc."

Holy things are written in the medrash Shochar Tov on this chapter, and in addition a short explanation, "I love Him for Hashem hears my voice," there is nothing Hashem wants more than to hear the tefillos of Bnei Yisroel. If Hashem hears our prayers He forgives us, as it says, "Hear Hashem, Hashem forgive, Hashem listen and act, do not delay." Bnei Yisroel is a loving son to Hashem so He hears their tefillos, therefore it says "I love Him, for Hashem hears my voice." Knesses Yisroel says "I love You and therefore I love Him, for Hashem hears my voice and because I love You so much I am sick, as it says `for I am sick with love.' I am not ill from heartache or from headache but from love as it says `for I am sick with love.' I love Him and I love His home as it says, `Hashem I love the House where You dwell.' " The medrash continues and explains the essential and deepest point of Bnei Yisroel's love for Hashem. A man does not know the extent of his love, as it says, "the love is as intense as death." He says to them "you love Me and I love you," and it replies, "And He loved you and blessed you and multiplied you."

The meaning of these words is as follows: From where does a person derive a love for Hashem so powerful that he will literally be able to be moser nefesh, as Chazal have said (Brochos 61) on the posuk `. . . and you shall love Hashem your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul' — even if He takes away your soul. "And with all your resources" — with all your money, and this is a man's entire reality and being. It must be concluded that this love is rooted and implanted within each person in Klal Yisroel, whereby the neshomoh of each person has a Divine portion from Above, as we say in our tefillos, `Happy are we! How goodly is our portion and how pleasant is our lot!' `How goodly is our portion' this is the Divine portion.'

It also says in the gemora (Avodoh Zora 5a): "Ben Dovid will only come when all the neshomos in the guf will be exhuasted." Rashi explains that there is a trove called the guf, and during Creation all the neshomos destined to be born were created and deposited there. The baalei haTosfos write in the name of Rav Elchonon, that the Jewish neshomos and the non- Jewish neshomos are not kept in the same place — because the Jewish neshomos are special, and surely the reason for this is that they have a portion of the Divine.

Lehavdil, we can compare this to what is written in (Bovo Metzia 38a): "A man prefers a kav of his own to nine of his neighbor's." Bnei Yisroel are Hashem's kav and therefore Hashem's love is greater and therefore each person in Klal Yisroel also has a deep- rooted love in his neshomoh for Hashem.

We must say that the reason a person sins and transgresses sometimes is that during that time the love is hidden. We also see a very wonderful thing: people may sin for thirty or forty years and are chayov kores and death for their sins, and suddenly a spark within their soul is ignited and they do teshuvoh. From here we see that "even a lot of water cannot extinguish the love." This means that even a lot of sins and transgressions cannot extinguish the love which is the Jewish neshomoh's connection to its Father in Heaven. "And rivers will not wash it away" even large rivers cannot stop this love because our love for Hashem and His Torah and His House is a natural part of the Divine spark in each Jew, and this is the reality imprinted within Klal Yisroel and nothing can withstand it. This is what the Medrash says, "And a man does not know what this love is, he wonders and contemplates from whence came this tremendous love for Hashem."

What does a Jew have to do to discover this love and merit it? This matter is discussed in the Sifri, parshas Voeschanon, as it says "and you shall love Hashem your G- d with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your resources." I do not know how to love Hashem, so it comes to teach me: "Let these matters that I command you today be upon your heart," imprint these things upon your heart because through this you will learn to recognize Hashem and cleave to His ways. By learning and toiling over the Torah — one sees the essence of the Divine hidden within the Torah, then the hidden Divine power in his soul is awakened and Hashem's love is revealed therein.

"As he has inclined His ear to me so in my days shall I call." It is written in the Medrash, "In my days I call" — in the good days which You gave me, as it says, "Every Shabbos he shall set it in order before Hashem continually" and it writes this also about Yom Habikkurim and also about "On the 15th day of the seventh month on Chag Hasuccos."

"And in my days I shall call": it is obvious [??] why the Yomim Tovim are referred to as "[and in] my days [I shall call]"? The explanation can be found in the beginning of Pesochim (2b:) on the posuk, "`If I say, surely the darkness shall overwhelm me, and the light about me shall be light.' Dovid said: I thought surely darkness shall overwhelm me in Olom Habo, which resembles day, but now even in Olom Hazeh, which resembles night, is light about me. A person who lives in this world, during his years he has many regular days, which are mingled with good and bad and bad with good. During these days he is preoccupied with earning a living and he has various problems and all sorts of hindrances and impediments. Therefore he has no free time to sufficiently consider his purpose on this world. So his days are considered nights not days, but during the lofty times of the year such as Shabbos Kodesh and Yomim Tovim during which a person feels elevated according to his spiritual level, the days are considered days not nights. Therefore these times are called "My days."

According to this, we can understood why we say this perek: "I love Him for Hashem hears my voice, my supplications. As He has inclined His ear to me so in my days I call, etc." During these holy days. These are the only days during a lifetime that are good days, and as the Medrash says, "In my days I call" — in the good days which you have given to me . . . I remember that my Rebbe, Reb Shimon Zelchover zt"l, when people would wish him a quick "a guten Yom Tov" he would repeat slowly and with emphasis "a guten Yom Tov" so that they would remember that this day was a good day.

It is written in the gemora (Succah 53a) about Hillel Hazoken, when he would rejoice in the Simchas Beis Hashoevoh he would say to Hashem: "My feet lead me to the place I love; if you come to My House I will come to your house." It seems to be an esoteric statement. This may be explained by what the kadmonim said, "a man is led by his two hundred and forty eight limbs to where his thoughts are" this means, that when a man dedicates a certain thought to which he aspires throughout his life, he will eventually fulfill his yearning.

There is a famous Medrash (Vayikro, at the beginning of parshas Bechukosai) about Dovid Hamelech's words, "I calculated my ways and returned my feet to Your Testimonies " — as if today, every day I would say, "To such and such a place, to such and such's home I will go, and my legs would bring me to shuls and Botei Medrash." This is the meaning of "if you will come to My House, even if your feet come on their own to My home, then Hashem will come to your house."

The Oruch Laner explains this Medrash: the purpose of aliya loregel is to greet the Shechinoh, as it says, "Three times a year all your males will see the face of Hashem your G-d," and as Tosafos says in perek hecholil (Succah 56b) in the name of the Yerushalmi, which says that the phrase "beis hashoevoh" refers to something from which one derives Ruach Hakodesh. When a person comes with the purpose of seeing the face of Hashem, Hashem kevayochol bestows abundance and blessing upon him. To the extent that a person comes to see Hashem, i.e. to serve Him in the Beis Hamikdosh with devotion, does he merit receiving blessings from Hashem.

A person should not chas vesholom be oleh loregel just in order to receive Heavenly blessings, without the object of serving Hashem. This is the opposite of Hashem's Will, and thus it says in the posuk, "and when you come to see My face, who asked it of you to trample My courts" — if your only object in coming is to be seen — to be blessed in all your handiwork and not to serve Hashem in his Mikdosh, this is not Hashem's will. This is what is meant by `if you will come to My House' — if you desire to come to the Beis Hamikdosh in its aspect as My House, the place chosen by Hashem for avodas Hashem in order to draw from it the strength of Torah, fear of Heaven and ruach hakodesh, only then will I come to your home to bestow blessing upon your home and your handiwork. But if you will not come to My House — if you do not come with the purpose of strengthening your avodas Hashem, I will not come to your house to bless you.

This is the kavono each person should have during a simchas Beis hashoevoh. The purpose of the gathering should be for strengthening their avodas Hashem. The only days during the year which are called "days" are the Yomim Tovim, therefore we have to give praise to Hashem and thank him for giving us Yomim Tovim which are merciful, compassionate, blessed days. May Hashem multiply them for you many times over and bless you as He has promised you with great compassion, Amen.

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