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29 Iyar, 5784 - June 6, 2024 | Mordecai Plaut, director | Vayishlach - 5782 Published Weekly
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HaRav Chaim Kluft shlita on the Importance of Shavuos

Less than one week remains before our receiving the Torah anew.

How must we prepare for such an important day?

HaRav Chaim Kluft: At the beginning of the parsha dealing with the giving of the Torah, the Netziv states a vital fundamental:

"From here we are expected to learn that regarding everything related to kedusha, the more one prepares himself in advance, the more it is able to affect and impact upon him. This is saying that one cannot approach the Giving of the Torah without prior preparation. What does this entail?"

The Ohr HaChaim says that there were three kinds of preparation before the Giving of the Torah at Har Sinai.

The first: "Intensifying ourselves in Torah study." One can sit and study and still not experience that intensity of overcoming obstacles, of self-fortification. I once noticed a student applying himself to study but appearing very tired. I asked him why he wasn't going to sleep. He replied that he had committed himself to twelve hours of consecutive study. Woe unto such study!

In a letter, the Chazon Ish wrote that application to study is not measured by the time one devotes to it but " one's personal mesirus nefesh and heartfelt involvement for the love of Torah. Better one wholesome hour of dedication through love than many others of lukewarm study. To be sure, the time devoted therein, in itself, is a natural result of dedication."

Furthermore, HaRav Chaim of Volozhin writes in the same vein: "One who studies one hour through genuine joy, will cover much more than if he spent several hours of study through sadness and lethargy."




A Reiner Mentsch, A Reiner Torah: HaRav Moshe Soloveitchik zt'l

Part V

This multi-part essay was originally published in honor of the first yahrtzeit. He was niftar 19 Iyar, 5755. This was first published in 5756 (1996).

Part V: Instilling a Love of Torah


Although Reb Moishe Soloveitchik zt'l, was consulted about numerous Torah institutions during the fifty years in which he lived in Europe, there were just two yeshivos with which he was personally involved. He was the first rosh yeshiva of the yeshiva in Lucerne, where for ten years he raised a generation of European bnei Torah who went on to play a crucial role in the development of Swiss and indeed, European, Jewish communal life.

In the last five years of his life, he founded another new institution, Yeshivas Toras Chaim in Moscow, whose guiding spirit he remained until his petiroh. Yeshivas Toras Chaim has already produced a generation of Russian bnei Torah who have left Russia for yeshivos throughout Eretz Yisroel as well as America, where they hold their own among their more experienced peers with astonishing success.

Actually, Reb Moishe filled completely different functions in the two institutions. In Lucerne, his time was spent with the bochurim, whom he taught, by word and perhaps even more so, by example, what Torah is and the kind of life it demands that its sons lead. The support and the administration of the yeshiva were the responsibility of a committee of laymen. The need for such a yeshiva in Switzerland was already sufficiently recognized there to make this possible.

With the Moscow yeshiva, the situation was reversed. As soon as it became clear that it might be possible to disseminate Torah freely in Russia, Reb Moishe despatched emissaries whose task it was to assess the possibilities for doing so. After their initial efforts met with success, the yeshiva was established and it has been flourishing ever since.

From Zurich, Reb Moishe and two of his close confidants managed the financial side of the Russian yeshiva's affairs. Reb Moishe responded to the many difficult questions which the operation of a yeshiva in a country that had been cut off from the rest of world Jewry for seven decades gave rise. He advised as to what should be learned and how. He took a strong personal interest in the bochurim and their problems. In short, he did almost everything except for actually going and teaching there.




The Show Must Go On

Whoever was present at the grand show which took place at the beginning of the week in Jerusalem, in a place called 'The High Court for Justice,' knew the end of the spectacle in advance, similar to what took place in the parallel High Court in The Hague. There, everyone knew the expected culmination in advance, which did not stop them from participating in person, either as a representative or a spectator. Similarly regarding the fiasco in Jerusalem.

Each one of the 'players' had rehearsed his role, be they the judges themselves, the lawyers, the reporters or the curious crowd, each one contributing his 'necessary' role in the play script whose finale had been written in advance. The Greek play-writers who wrote the famous tragedy scripts, designated the purpose and message in advance, and the actors and audience already knew from the very start how the performance's tragicomedy would end, even though the progress towards the culmination was riveting and convoluted.

Much the same was the formula of the event taking place in the Jerusalem 'theater of justice,' before the cameras which broadcast it live, with each player playing his part in the script which had been written in advance.




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Outstanding Articles From Our Archives

Opinion & Comment
Zman Matan Toraseinu - Torah is Entirely for our Benefit

by Rabbi Zev Leff

Rabbi Leff's column appears every week in the print edition of Yated Ne'eman - Bnei Brak. It is included in Dei'ah Vedibur this week in honor of Shavuos and the importance of its message.

Reb Yosi and the Chachomim argue as to whether the date when the Torah was given was the 7th of Sivan or the 6th of Sivan. Many say that the halochoh is like Reb Yosi that the Torah was given on the 7th day of Sivan. If so this raises a question raised by various sources, since Shavuos always falls on the sixth of Sivan according to our fixed calendar: Why do we say in our prayers Zman Matan Toraseinu, the time of the giving of the Torah on Shavuos - when in fact the Torah was not given until the next day?

Although the Rabbis refer to Shavuos as Atzeres connoting the holy convocation that accompanied the giving of the Torah, the Torah itself does not refer to Shavuos this way. The Seforno explains that this is due to the fact that the result of that convocation was nullified when the Luchos were broken by Moshe Rabbenu on the 17th day of Tammuz.

If so we can ask an even more fundamental question as to why we celebrate Shavuos at all as the day of the giving of the Torah. Even according to the opinion of the Chachomim that the Torah was in fact given on the 6th day of Sivan - that giving was subsequently rescinded and nullified. The Torah was not actually received until Yom Kippur.

The Torah relates the question of the wise son. "When your son will ask you in the future: what are the testimonies and statues and judgments which Hashem our G-d has commanded you, you should tell your son we were slaves unto Pharaoh in Mitzrayim and Hashem took us out of Mitzrayim with a strong hand - and Hashem commanded us to do all these statues for the good all the days to give us life as this day" (Devorim 6:20).


Opinion & Comment
Derocheho Darchei Noam - The Ways of Torah are Pleasant

by Rabbi Mordecai Plaut

The pleasantness of the Torah is what we would like to display for all to see, since that would undoubtedly be the most effective aspect to draw in the lost souls, and also to impress the rest of the world.

Yet this is often problematic: there are aspects of the Torah which are not perceived as pleasant by outsiders in today's world. For example, the Torah has capital punishment, which in principle is considered by some to be unpleasant, and it is meted out for actions that are considered trivial (carrying on Shabbos) or even heroic (living a hedonistic life in deviant ways) in modern times.

On the other hand, it is clear that the Torah does not advocate wholesale execution of those who transgress its mitzvos when there are masses of people who do so. Whenever transgressors became too numerous, Chazal suspended the Torah sanctions: when murderers became numerous they suspended Egloh Arufoh. When adulterers became numerous they suspended the waters of Sotoh (Sotoh 47a). In fact, when murder became too common the rabbinical judges stopped judging murderers altogether (Avodoh Zorah 8b).

The Torah is not intended to correct the imbalances and perversions of a world run wild. Rather, it is a comprehensive system that provides a blueprint for all aspects of life from the ground up: the individual, the collective, and all of humanity. It cannot be interposed or imposed upon a reluctant community. It must define the basic parameters as well as the particular laws.

Opinion & Comment
The Importance of our Personal Portion of Torah

By Rabbi Shlomo Furst

The Nachalas Yaakov in his preface to his commentary on Masechtos Ketanos quotes the remarkably inspirational words of the Midrash Rabboh: "Rabbi Yitzchok said: `What the prophets were to prophesy in the future, in each and every future generation, was [already] received on Sinai . . . And not only did every prophet receive his prophecy from Sinai, but also the chachomim that arise in each and every generation - every single one of them received his [chochmoh] from Sinai'" (Midrash Rabboh, Parshas Yisro 28:6).

The Nachalas Yaakov elaborates on this midrash, explaining that at Har Sinai, Hashem gave each member of Klal Yisroel a specific portion in His Torah. Each of us has a unique share in the Torah HaKedoshoh and that portion consists of the unique insights each of us is capable of deriving from the Torah. If we temper our physical desires and steadily work hard to progress in Torah then, according to the Nachalas Yaakov, the exact portion of Torah we received from Sinai will be ours.

Toward the end of the fifth perek of Ovos, Yehuda ben Teimo teaches us how to utilize our energies for avodas Hashem. We are taught to "be bold as a leopard, swift as an eagle, run like a deer and strong as a lion" to serve our Creator. Next, comes a warning that the brazen are destined for Gehennom and an encouragement that the humble are destined for Gan Eden.

In conclusion, Yehuda ben Teimo offers a prayer: "May it be Your Will, Hashem, our G-d, that Your City be rebuilt, speedily in our days, and grant us our portion in Your Torah."

In his commentary, the Tiferes Yisroel notes that this is the only place in all of Mishnayos that such a prayer exists.

In order to explain why, Rabbi Akiva Eiger quotes the Teshuvos HaRadach. In siman 20 of his teshuvos, the Radach notes that immediately prior to this prayer, Yehuda ben Teimo taught us to be bold as a leopard. This is often useful in learning Torah. A shy person may refrain from asking questions and, as a result, the clarity of his knowledge will suffer. Nevertheless, the bold may also be in danger because of his aggressive behavior.


These links were fixed, Tammuz 5781