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Nahar U'Pashtei: Blog2

Dovid's Eyes

This weeks edition of Nahar U’Pashtei comes from conversations I had with my Zaidy, shlit”a, during shiva. Most of the body of the vort reflects what he said in his hesped of HaGaon Red Dovid, ztvk”l, but bears repeating. May he be a meilitz yosher for the entire Klal Yisroel, who heeded his guidance. The parshah begins with the departure of Sarah Imeinu from this world. The Torah tells us how Avraham came to eulogize and to cry for Sarah - interestingly, delivering the eulogies that bespoke her greatness before engaging in the mournful crying at having lost her. This was a departure from general procedure, which would have normally been to first mourn the terrible loss, and only then to spend time to learn and teach about the departed, and to try and glean some inspiration from their memory. The Rosh Yeshiva, ztvk”l, would explain that the proper order to follow is dependent completely upon whom is being spoken to. An audience that understands the tremendous void that is left when the righteous make their leave of this world can cry immediately, saving the eulogies for afterward. Avraham, however, was in the presence of the bnei cheis, people who could not properly fathom the tragedy of Sarah’s death, and so he began by explaining to them who she was. Once this was accomplished, mourning Sarah properly was possible.     Much has been written and said of the gadlus of my brother, Morainu HaGoan Reb David ztvk”l. His legendary hasmadah, his sharp and precise halachic decisions, and his otherworldly humility have been well documented. He was a pillar of chessed, a true friend to all who knew him, and truly caring of everyone who sought his counsel. But there is one tremendous maalah that he possessed that I think really set him apart as a leader in our times. We see in the Torah that the members of the Sanhedrin are given the name einei haeidah, literally, the eyes of the nation. And why is it that the biggest tzaddikim are branded “the eyes” of the people? It is because they see things that the hamon am, the regular people of Klal Yisroel, do not see. People of this elevated stature have a unique sense to perceive what we cannot, and to understand matters in a way inaccessible to the common folk. They know how to advise people to act in whatever situations may arise, for they can see clearly. This broad vision is something that made my brother, ztvk”l, a true leader and manhig of Klal Yisroel. He always saw deeper. He always knew exactly how to look at things, and would arrive at conclusions that would lead people to where they needed to be.      One tangible example I can give; an example of the perspective that Reb Dovid, ztzvk”l, had which was unique, and which he used to guide the Klal. My brother Reb Dovid grew up in communist Russia. He was not allowed to be taught Torah, and there was no cheder for him to attend. He did learn the entire Tanach by heart at age seven just from listening to my Father, the Rosh Yeshiva, ztzvk”l, learn aloud, and yet he did not know the Alef Beis! Surely, there is lesson in gadlus and in the importance of Torah from this. But also, this time in Reb Dovid’s life, I believe, instilled within him the perspective he utilized to lead a generation who did not see what he saw. He carried this experience with him throughout the journey of his life, and understood never to take America for granted. No matter how wonderful and full of religious liberties this country became, he never lost sight that we are in Galus, and there is a certain specific way for a Yid to go about his business in Galus! He approached his decisions and guidance relevant to everyday events in our lives with these lessons in hand. He saw past the surface, and understood concepts that others could not. If we can realize this greatness, then its time to cry for the loss of our beloved guide in this time of turmoil. And if we do not understand what we lost, and believe that our eyes see better than his, we must cry even more.   A gut Shabbos! A Project of the YSI Alumni Association Written by R’ Moshe Weiss

Nahar U_Pashtei Chayai Sarah
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The situation is critical


   We often discuss the gevurah of Yitzchok Aveinu, and how the akeidah epitomized this trait. So great was his devotion to the service of Hashem that he was willing to give up his life to achieve it. Yitzchok had no sense of self, and it was only the Will of God that drove him. Thus, Yitzchok symbolizes unwavering determination to Hashem, and represents the ability we all have inside of us to reach this lofty madreigah of incredible mesiras nefesh, no matter what we may face. But I believe there is an even deeper lesson for us to learn. 

   Yitzchok’s demonstration at the akeidah was more than just mere mesiras nefesh, it was a burning love for Hashem that resonated inside his soul. The Torah tells us that when Yitzchok became aware that he was to be the sacrifice for Hashem, he continued onward with the very same alacrity and vigilance as that of his father Avraham. We see here not just a willingness to accept his fate and give Hashem that which He desired, but an eagerness to fulfill the will of Hashem.

    We say each day in the first paragraph of Shema that a person must strive to love Hashem bechol nafshecha, with all of his soul. We find a dispute between R’ Eliezer and R’ Akiva as to the exact parameters of this mitzvah. R’ Eliezer groups it together with the next few words, uvechol meodechah, and with all your possessions, and thus explains that the Torah refers to two different types of people. Whichever is more important to him - his life or his money - he must be willing to give it all up for Hashem. Now, however we are able to understand the possibility that one’s possessions can be more important to him than his life (see Nahar Shalom, comments to Bereishis 22:8, where this is discussed), R’ Eliezer’s opinion effectively limits the extent of the obligation to love Hashem to accepting whatever He decrees. If this is what Hashem wants, one must be ready and able to accept with love. 

     R’ Akiva says something different entirely. He expounds the verse to mean that a person must love Hashem afilu Hu notel es nafshecha, even if He takes your life. We must not merely be on the madreigah to accept, but we must gain a level where even should Hashem come —at a moment’s notice — and take our life, we are ready. We are obligated to love Hashem so much that we are constantly in a state of happiness and serenity to have our lives taken, should that suddenly become His will! This is the highest and most pure level of ahavas Hashem imaginable. This was the gevurah that Yitzchok showed on the way to the akeidah. So strong was his love, so potent was his desire to please Hashem, that the sudden realization of his impending death did not cause him to hesitate, but rather spurred him on further! Yitzchok then became the pillar of gevurah, an example and a lesson for his descendants for all time.

Thanks to the sponsor of this publication the Rosh Yeshiva will now have a website which will feature live Chumash shiur as well as many other great features.

May we hear besuros tovos

A gut Shabbos!

A Project of the YSI Alumni Association

Written by R’ Moshe Weiss

Nahar U_Pashtei Vayeira 5781
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Updated: Nov 1, 2020


    Every child learns the episode of the “great” fight between the shepherds of Avraham Aveinu and those of Lot. They all come home sporting muzzles, explaining how Avraham Aveinu knew it was forbidden to steal, while Lot didn’t care. Some children even learn this story on a slightly deeper level, and are aware that the argument really hinged on whether or not Avraham Aveinu had rights to the entire land of Eretz Yisrael at that point in time. Whatever the case, this disagreement is what the Torah tells us ultimately caused Lot to remove himself from Avraham and his influence, a move which had drastic ramifications for Lot’s descendants from that point forward. It seems quite illogical to say that such a simple and basic disagreement should spiral into a separation that would change so many lives forever.    There is an interesting Midrash that perhaps sheds some light on what was truly going on here. The Midrash teaches us from this story that ein shalom yotzei mitoch merivah, peace cannot emanate from a fight. On the surface this Midrash seems puzzling. During a fight, there is by definition no peace, and after a fight dissipates, why, many times there is peace! What is the meaning, then, of this cryptic statement? The Midrash is teaching us that if the attitude surrounding the argument is hostile, peace can never triumph. If the parties involved in the disagreement are looking to find fault with one another; each party is seeking to convey a feeling of hostility towards the other, peace cannot prevail. Indeed, this relatively minor quibble between the shepherds did not need to evolve into a full blown argument that would change the course of history. The two groups could have acted with more respect, restraint, compassion; all these things could have kept the machlokes from erupting. If when Avraham’s shepherds saw Lot’s men allowing the animals to graze on other people’s fields, they had respectfully approached and asked them why this was permitted, the other shepherds would have calmly explained their position on the matter. At that point, the shepherds of Avraham could have respectfully presented their position, and even perhaps asked as a favor if Lot’s shepherds could place the muzzles on the livestock just this once, until they could ascertain who was correct. Ultimately, they would have peacefully brought the question before Avraham Avinu, who was their undisputed leader, and he would have explained their mistake to them. Lot’s men would have acquiesced, and the whole issue would have been over with. What was it then that led to the separation of Lot and Avraham? It was that the shepherds created a merivah, an atmosphere of disrespect, nitpicking, and hostility. When they saw Lot’s shepherds, Avaham’s men started their rebuke by calling them “thieves!” And of course, Lot’s men yelled back, “How dare you call us thieves! This land is ours!” And so, the machlokes grew and grew, all because of the incorrect approach that the people took.    Let this be a harrowing lesson for all of us. Disagreements and arguments should never be expressed with hostility, personal insults, or disrespect. When people are accused, yelled at, or spoken down to, they lock into their opinions even more strongly, and the machlokes only gains momentum. When you express something to someone, even if they are one hundred percent wrong, it must be done with respect and humility. Nothing is to be gained by name-calling or accusing. When you talk with respect and dignity, you give the other person a chance to respect himself, and actually listen to what you have to say. A gut Shabbos! A Project of the YSI Alumni Association Written by R’ Moshe Weiss

Nahar U_Pashtei Lech Lecha 5781
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