שבת טעם החיים פרשת ראה תשס"ט
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Parashas Re’eh 5769
The need to be vigilant throughout the month of Elul
The month of Elul is approaching. What is required of us in this month of awe? The Medrash (Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer §46) states that on the first Rosh Chodesh Elul that the Jewish People were in the Wilderness, Moshe blew a Shofar, signifying to the Jewish People that they should be on guard when Moshe ascended upon high. This sounding of the Shofar would ensure that they would not succumb to the temptation of sinning through idolatry as they had a mere few months earlier. This Medrash reflects on the essence of Teshuva, repentance. The Jewish People had committed a grievous sin by worshipping the Golden Calf. Moshe entreated HaShem that He should not destroy the Jewish People and that He should grant them forgiveness. Yet, prior to ascending to Heaven to receive the second Luchos, Moshe still felt it necessary to warn the Jewish People not to sin again. Was Moshe really concerned that after experiencing severe repercussions upon worshipping the Golden Calf, the Jewish People would actually have the audacity to commit the same sin again?
Constant state of repentance
The answer to this question is that although there may not have been a serious concern that the Jewish People would sin again, Moshe sought to demonstrate to the Jewish people that one must always be cognizant of the possible temptations to sin. Teshuva is not merely a once a year obligation. Rather, one must constantly aware that the temptation to sin lurks just around the corner. In a similar vein, it is well known that Rabbeinu Saadia Gaon said that he felt the need to repent daily for his lack of recognition on the previous day of HaShem’s greatness. This form of repentance is also an indication of vigilance, in that one does not rest on his laurels. Rather, he constantly seeks to improve his relationship with HaShem.
The sounding of the Shofar reminds us to be vigilant
The sounding of the Shofar, in addition to arousing us to repentance, is also a signal of vigilance. It is said (Amos 3:6) im yitaka shofar bair viam lo yecheradu, is the shofar ever sounded in a city and the people not tremble? This refers to the initial arousal that one experiences with the sounding of the shofar. Yet, there is another dimension to the sounding of the shofar, and that is the cognizance of being vigilant from the attack of the Evil Inclination. It is said (Bamidbar 10:9) vichi savou milchama biartzichem al hatzar hatzoreir eschem vahareiosem bachatzotzros, when you go to wage war in your Land against an enemy who oppresses you, you shall sound short blasts of the trumpets. In the simple sense, the purpose of these trumpet blasts is to arouse the nation to battle against their enemies. On a deeper level, however, the Torah is teaching us that when one is vulnerable to the enemy, he must be vigilant so that the enemy cannot attack. Perhaps this is why the Torah states al hatzar hatzoreir eschem, against an enemy who oppresses you. It would have been sufficient to state against your enemy, as it is obvious that the enemy oppresses. The reason that the Torah states that the enemy “oppresses” alludes to the Evil Inclination, who is constantly seeking ways to destroy his opponent. When one is vigilant, he will not allow his Evil Inclination to gain a foothold in his territory. Evidence to this idea can be found in the words of the Lev Simcha (Ki Savo) who writes that when the Torah instructs a person regarding building a fence around his roof, it is said (Devarim 22:8) ki sivneh bayis chadash viasisa maakeh ligagecho, if you build an new house, you shall make a fence for your roof. The words a new house allude to Rosh HaShanah and the words you shall make a fence allude to the month of Elul. Thus, we see that the month of Elul is a time for one to be extra vigilant so that he does not become tempted by sin.
The Shabbos connection
HaShem, in His infinite kindness, granted His beloved children one day a week, and that is the Holy Shabbos, when we do not have to be concerned for the overtures of the Evil Inclination. On Shabbos we are engaged in spiritual pursuits, and sin should be the last thing that is on the mind of a Jew. Hashem should allow us to enter into the month of Elul with recognition of the seriousness and awe that these days entail, and we should merit repenting completely before HaShem, Who desires our repentance.
R' Eliyahu Shlomo Raanan z”l Hy”d
Shlomo Katz writes: This Shabbos is the tenth yahrzeit of R’ Eliyahu Shlomo Raanan, who was murdered by an Arab terrorist in his home in Chevron. R’ Raanan was born in Yerushalayim on 12 Tishrei 5694 (1934). His mother, Batya Miriam, was a daughter of Chief Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook. His father, R’ Shalom Natan Raanan, was a teacher in, and director of, R’ Kook’s yeshiva (now known as Merkaz HaRav). The child was named “Eliyahu” for the Vilna Gaon and “Shlomo” for his great-grandfather, R’ Shlomo Zalman Kook.
R’ Kook passed away before his grandson’s first birthday, but the future R’ Raanan grew up in his illustrious grandfather’s house, which also housed the yeshiva. When he was old enough, R’ Raanan himself enrolled in the yeshiva.
While he was still single, R’ Raanan began teaching in several yeshivos ketanos/ schools for pre-teenage and teenage boys. He also worked with new olim. In 1978, R’ Raanan joined the staff of the Halacha Berurah institute, which publishes Torah works designed to bring to fruition one of R' Kook's educational goals - to tie together the advanced study of Gemara as practiced in mainstream yeshivos with the study of the practical halachic/legal conclusions that flow from each Gemara passage.
In 1963, R’ Raanan married Chaya Weisfish. After living in Yerushalayim for more than 20 years, in 1985, they joined the tiny settlement which is now the city of Beitar. For six years, the Raanans lived in a caravan (trailer) in Beitar under very difficult conditions. In 1992, they moved to Chevron, settling in the Admot Yishai / Tel Rumeida neighborhood believed to be the site of the Biblical city. Here again, their home was a caravan, an inconvenience which they gladly accepted for the sake of settling the Land of Israel.
Those who knew R’ Raanan used to say that he had a “soul of Shabbos,” which in chassidic and kabalistic literature refers to a certain purity of the soul and calmness of manner that characterize Shabbos. Indeed, Rebbetzin Chaya Raanan related that on their first date, she had absent- mindedly pulled a leaf from a branch as they walked and she was momentarily horrified at having violated a Shabbos prohibition. Suddenly she realized, however, that it was not Shabbos, but rather a weekday. Such was the aura that surrounded R’ Raanan and affected those who knew him!
The caravan where R’ Raanan was murdered today houses a kollel named Ohr Shlomo in his memory. (Source: Neshamah Shel Shabbos)
You are HaShem’s children
Shlomo Katz writes further: The legendary chassidic master, Reb Zusia, once heard an itinerant maggid/preacher deliver a fire-and-brimstone speech to a large group. When he finished, no one seemed to have been moved by his words. Then R’ Zusia rose and said, “Dear brothers! Doesn’t HaShem love you and care for you? How is it possible to transgress His will?” Immediately, heart-rending cries filled the synagogue.
Afterward, the maggid asked R’ Zusia, “Did I not portray in vivid detail the terrifying punishments of Gehinom? Why did that have no impact on them, while your words, which were not frightening at all, had an immediate effect on them?”
R’ Zusia answered: “Your words had the effect of closing their hearts, scaring them until they could no longer feel. My words had the opposite effect.”
Jewish until the very end
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky writes: Velvel was infamous in his native Tarnogrod. A notorious gangster, he not only transgressed the mitzvos, but mocked those who observed them. He really did not have much to do with the members of the community, if not to lure someone into a promising business deal, only to rob him of his ill-invested monies.
Velvel rarely visited the inside of the shul, save every few years on the yahrzeit of his pious father when the cobwebs of time were dusted off by the winds of guilt. Yes, Velvel was different than most of the villagers.
Except for early 1940, when he was no different than anyone else. The Nazis had overrun the town. They herded the community into the shul, and unfurled the Torah scrolls on the floor. Then they lined the people up and told them to march on the Torah, forcing them to spit on it as they past. And Velvel was right there amongst them. Velvel was a Jew and no different from anyone else.
Everyone lined up to obey and Velvel pushed to be first on line. And then he showed how special, how different he was. As he approached the Torah he stopped short, not even letting the tips of his soles touch the sacred parchment. Then he turned to the SS officer. “I don’t tread on my Torah and I will never spit on it.” They shot him on the spot, and like the rest of the villagers who followed suit, Velvel became a holy martyr. (Reprinted with permission from www.Torah.org)
Collecting charity on condition
Reb Yechezkel of Shinova the son of Reb Chaim of Sanz wanted to collect money for a worthy cause. Before doing so, though, he asked his father's permission. “I agree,” said Reb Chaim, provided that it doesn’t result in animosity against Jews.”
“What do you mean, Father?” asked Reb Yechezkel.
“What I mean,” said Reb Chaim, “is that as you go from one person to another and seek a donation, you may feel inwardly that this one person should have given more, that another person should not have turned you down, and so on.”
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim
Parashas Re’eh 5769
Is sponsored by Rabbi and Mrs. Shmuel Adler from Chicago in honor of the Bar Mitzvah of their dear grandson,
Yisroel Meir (Sruly) Adler, of Oak Park, Michigan.
HaShem should allow his parents to raise him litorah ulichupah ulimaassim tovim.
I will be giving a class in Navi on Shabbos afternoon at Beis Haknesses HaGra 14561 Lincoln in Oak Park, an hour before Mincha
Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.
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