Lubavitcher Rebbe

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Vo’eschanan

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In this week’s Torah portion, Vo’eschanan, the Torah describes (for the second time[1]) the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. It tells us all of the Ten Commandments which Hashem gave us. The Torah then tells us that[2] “Hashem spoke these words to your entire assembly at the mountain out of the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the opaque darkness. (He said) these words with a great voice, which did not cease.” Rashi cites the words from the verse “which did not cease” and gives two explanations. The first is that “Targum Onkelus[3] explains the words to mean ‘and it did not cease,’ for His voice is strong and exists continuously.”

In other words, Rashi tells us that this voice had no limitations. The spiritual and the material are opposites; physical objects are not inherently capable of “absorbing” G-dliness. Likewise, G-dliness cannot “penetrate” the physical. However, this was a “great voice,” a Divine voice, transcending both the material and the spiritual. Before this mighty voice, the physical and the G-dly are equal, and only the physical world could absorb such G-dly energy.

The same is true of a person’s service to Hashem. There are two aspects of the Torah. One is its intellectual aspect. Understanding the Torah, to the extent that a person can grasp it, requires using one’s mental faculties. However, there is a second aspect of the Torah; it is Hashem’s will and wisdom. He is a perfect unity. Hence, His will and understanding are one with Him[4]. This is the Torah’s “great voice,” which transcends this physical world.

Torah, which one learns from its intellectual perspective alone, cannot penetrate the human body. However, when one learns “the great voice” of the Torah, it is absorbed by his entire being; it can even penetrate his heels, the lowest part of his body.

The Torah which he learns, affects him even after he finishes learning. When one is busy conducting worldly activities, it is apparent that he is a Jew who learns Torah.

By hearing the “great voice which does not cease” when learning Torah and fulfilling Mitzvos, we can transform this world into a dwelling place for the Holy One, blessed be He, and bring about the coming of Moshiach.

I wish one and all a good Shabbos! May we merit the time of the complete and final redemption now!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 4, Page 1095

DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE

IN LOVING MEMORY OF
DR. MINDEL RIVKA (MURIEL) BAS REB MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO ע”ה STITT
PASSED AWAY ON SHABBAT PARSHAS LECH LECHA, 10 MAR-CHESHVAN, 5782
MAY HER SOUL BE BOUND IN THE ETERNAL BOND OF LIFE

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris


[1]. The first time was in Parshas Yisro, beginning with Shemos 20:1.

[2]. Our Parshah, Devorim 5:19.

[3]. There are a number of Aramaic translations of the Torah. That of Onkelus is the closest to the simple explanation of each verse. It is often quoted by Rashi.

[4]. See Tanya, Chapters 4 – 5.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Devorim II

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At the beginning of this week’s Torah portion, Devorim, we find that[1] “On that side of the Yardein (Jordan River), in the land of Moav, Moshe began explaining this Torah, saying.” Just what did Moshe explain? Rashi cites the words “explaining this Torah” and tells us the following. “He explained it to them in seventy languages.”

We need to understand why there was a need for this. All of the Jews spoke Hebrew! Furthermore, they were on their way to conquer Israel, remaining its sole inhabitants. What purpose would be served by translating the Torah? Additionally, we can understand that every moment of Moshe Rabbeinu’s time was precious. Why was he specifically chosen to render the Torah into all languages?

Until the building of the Tower of Bovel (Babel), everyone spoke Hebrew[2]. It is the Holy Tongue with which Hashem created the world. The sin of the generation that built the tower changed that. It brought division into the world. As the Torah says, “… one will not understand the language of his fellow.” As a result of their rebellion against the Almighty, they brought division into the world. This is the exact opposite of the unity which goes together with holiness. There is one indivisible G-d. The Jews are the one nation, meaning the nation of unity. They draw Hashem down into the earth, meaning into all earthly matters, through the one Torah.

This is the true meaning of Moshe translating the Torah into 70 languages. He drew down the unity of the “Holy Tongue,” Hebrew, into all spoken languages. He infused the unity of the one G-d into the world through the one true Torah.

That also explains why the translation of the Torah had to be explicitly done by Moshe Rabbeinu. Only the highest source can draw down Torah to the lowest level.

The same applies to the Moshe of each generation, meaning the leader of each generation. Only he can infuse holiness into this physical world. Therefore, each of us must connect ourselves to our Moshe. Then we will be able to fulfill our mission of transforming this low world into a dwelling place for Hashem above.

I wish one and all a good Shabbos! May we merit the time of the complete and true redemption now!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 3, Pages 862-863


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE

IN LOVING MEMORY OF
DR. MINDEL RIVKA (MURIEL) BAS REB MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO ע”ה STITT
PASSED AWAY ON SHABBAT PARSHAS LECH LECHA, 10 MAR-CHESHVAN, 5782
MAY HER SOUL BE BOUND IN THE ETERNAL BOND OF LIFE

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris


[1]. Our Parshah, Devorim 1:5.

[2]. Talmud Yerushalmi Megillah, Chapter 1, Section 9. This is also brought in Rashi’s commentary to Parshas Noach, Bereishis 11:1.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Devorim I

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This week’s Torah portion, Devorim, is always read on the Shabbos immediately preceding the fast of Tisha B’Av. The holy Sheloh teaches that the weekly Torah portion is always connected to the time of the year it is read[1]. Based on this, there must be a connection between Parshas Devorim and Tisha B’Av. We must understand the relationship between the Parshah of Devorim and our (all too) long exile.

Rashi tells us at the very beginning of our Torah portion that even at the same time that Hashem is rebuking the Jews, He is also concerned with their honor. Rashi cites the words from the first verse of our Parshah, “These are the words.”[2] He comments, “these are words of rebuke, and Moshe lists all of the places where the Jews angered Hashem. Therefore, the Torah does not explicitly mention their transgressions. Rather, it alludes to their sins by mentioning the names of the places where they angered G-d. This is done out of respect for the Jews.”

Why is this concern for the Jews’ honor when He rebukes them? Because the goal of criticizing them is to elevate them, i.e., to add to their honor. This teaches us that even at the time of exile, the Jews’ glory is apparent. The reason for the exile and destruction commemorated on Tisha B’Av is the redemption that will ultimately be enjoyed. The exile itself is an expression of Geulah.

We find the same idea in the book of Eichoh, Lamentations[3]. It begins with the words, “O, how has the city that was once so populous (Jerusalem) remained alone!” There is something very positive about “remaining alone.” We see this in the prophecy that the Jews are[4] “a nation that will dwell alone and will not be reckoned among the nations.” Jerusalem “remained alone,” and the Jews “dwell alone” means that the Jews would not mix with idolaters. It is indicative of the time of redemption.

Even when things may not seem optimistic, we can be confident that all is well. Nothing negative descends from above, and the exile prepares us for a step toward redemption.

I wish one and all a good Shabbos! May we merit the time of the complete and true redemption now!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 14, Page 7


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE

IN LOVING MEMORY OF
DR. MINDEL RIVKA (MURIEL) BAS REB MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO ע”ה STITT
PASSED AWAY ON SHABBAT PARSHAS LECH LECHA, 10 MAR-CHESHVAN, 5782
MAY HER SOUL BE BOUND IN THE ETERNAL BOND OF LIFE

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris


[1]. Sheloh at the beginning of Parshas Vayeishev. See also Zohar volume 2 page 206, b.

[2]. Parshas Devorim, Devorim 1:1.

[3]. As implied by its name, this book of the Bible laments the destruction of the Holy Temple and the ensuing exile. It is read as part of the service on Tisha B’Av.

[4]. Parshas Balak, Bamidbar 23:9.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Pinchos

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In this week’s Torah portion, Pinchos, Hashem commands us to[1]Distress the Midianites, and smite them.” The Torah continues by telling us that the reason for this is[2]for they distressed you with their plots which they contrived against you in the incident of Pe’or …” Pe’or was an idol. The Midianites tempted the Jews to become involved with this idol worship to see that Hashem would punish them. Just what was the service of the Pe’or? What is the source of this unusual name? Rashi tells us that it was[3] “because they bared (Po’er) themselves before it and relieved themselves, and this was the manner of its worship.”

This requires an explanation. How is it possible to tempt Jews to perform such a lowly act? How could the Jews have been persuaded to worship an idol in such a degrading manner?

We can understand this by first understanding the more profound explanation of Pe’or. The Alter Rebbe explains that all physical pleasures stem from the “waste products” of the supernal angels[4]. When a person eats food, it animates and strengthens him. In other words, the person is receiving from the diet. If he eats the menu for the sake of Heaven, i.e., to have the strength to serve Hashem, he elevates the food[5]. In other words, he does not merely receive from the food he eats; he is also adding something to it. However, if he is simply eating to satisfy his earthly desires, he is only a recipient of the food. That which he receives comes from the waste of heavenly angels.

This is the more profound, mystical concept behind serving the Pe’or. It is benefitting from this world purely to satisfy one’s bodily pleasures. In that case, it is as if he is serving and bowing down to the angel’s waste.

Whenever we use the bounty of this world, we must remember that Hashem gave it to us for a reason. Hashem wants us to benefit from it, but we must keep in mind to use it to serve Him. We need to eat, drink, and sleep to have the energy to serve Hashem. We must even use the time during the summer when we relax and exercise to enable us to serve G-d with a healthy body and in a relaxed state of mind.

I wish one and all a good Shabbos! May we merit the time of the complete and true redemption, which will mark the beginning of an eternal Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 28, Page 157-164


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE

IN LOVING MEMORY OF
DR. MINDEL RIVKA (MURIEL) BAS REB MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO ע”ה STITT
PASSED AWAY ON SHABBAT PARSHAS LECH LECHA, 10 MAR-CHESHVAN, 5782
MAY HER SOUL BE BOUND IN THE ETERNAL BOND OF LIFE

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris


[1]. Our Parshah, Bamidbar 25:17.

[2]. Our Parshah, Bamidbar 25:18.

[3]. Parshas Balak, Bamidbar 25:3.

[4]. See Likkutei Torah Parshas Shelach, 46, d. See also the sources which are cited there.

[5]. See Tanya Chapter 7.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Chukas

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This week’s Torah portion, Chukas, says, “This is the statute (Chok) of the Torah which Hashem commanded saying[1], ‘Speak to the Jewish people and have them take for you a perfectly red unblemished cow, upon which no yoke was laid.’ A “Chok,” translated as a statute, is a Divine commandment that has no explanation based on human understanding and can only be understood with G-dly intellect. The law of the “Red Cow” is the statute of the Torah, and it is the most outstanding of all “Chukim” (plural of “Chok”). One who came into contact with a corpse can become ritually purified through this procedure.

There are various levels of spiritual impurity, each resulting from contact with death in one form or another. Hence the most severe form of spiritual impurity is contact with an actual corpse. The only way to remove this defilement is through the “Red Cow.”

Rashi comments on the above verse, citing the words “and have them take for you.” He writes, “It will always be called in your name; the cow which Moshe prepared in the desert.” We have written many times that Rashi only writes that which is necessary. What need is there to tell us that Moshe prepared the cow “in the desert?” We all know that whatever Moshe did after the exodus was in the desert! He received the Torah and fulfilled Hashem’s commandments in the wilderness!

As is the case with everything in Torah, this comes to teach us an important lesson. One can ask how it is possible to purify a Jew who has descended to the lowest level and is found in an unclean environment. The answer is that he must remember that the “Red Cow” was prepared in the desert. A desert is a place of[2] “…snakes, vipers, scorpions, and drought, where there was no water …” Nevertheless, it was from this cow specifically that all subsequent cows would be prepared. Rashi writes that each cow is called by Moshe’s name. With the power of Moshe, the generation’s leader, we can purify every Jew. This is true regardless of how far he has fallen and his surroundings.  

We must use that power to sanctify ourselves and those around us. In that manner, we will undoubtedly bring Moshiach now!

I wish one and all a good Shabbos and healthy summer!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 4, Page 1061


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE

IN LOVING MEMORY OF
DR. MINDEL RIVKA (MURIEL) BAS REB MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO ע”ה STITT
PASSED AWAY ON SHABBAT PARSHAS LECH LECHA, 10 MAR-CHESHVAN, 5782
MAY HER SOUL BE BOUND IN THE ETERNAL BOND OF LIFE

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris


[1]. Our Parshah, Bamidbar 19:2.

[2]. Parshas Aikev, Devorim 8:15.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Korach

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This week’s Torah portion, Korach, tells of a rebellion against Moshe and his brother Aharon’s position as High Priest. Korach was the one who instigated this terrible rebellion, and surprisingly he managed to recruit 250 leaders of the nation to his side! Rashi tells us that Moshe Rabbeinu told Korach[1], “We have only one G-d, one ark, one Torah, one altar, and one Kohen Gadol. However, you 250 men are all seeking the position of High Priest! I, too, would like that!” From Rashi’s words, it seems that Moshe agreed with them; he included himself with them. He allowed for the possibility of multiple High Priests. Even if he made a point verbally, how could he say such a thing?

We can understand this by explaining the answer to a different question. Hashem had promised Moshe that[2] “they (the Jewish Nation) will believe in you forever.” Given Hashem’s promise, how could 250 heads of the Sanhedrin, the supreme Jewish court, rebel against Moshe? The explanation is that Korach and his band did believe in Moshe! Their rebellion was not against him but rather against Aharon. They sought the office of Kehunah Gedolah.

Why was this position so important to them? They realized the tremendous spiritual heights that only the High Priest could attain. They knew that G-d had separated the Kohen Gadol from all other Jews; he alone would achieve the status of “holy of holies.” They had witnessed the sin of the spies. They knew that prayer could annul a physical decree against the Jews, and they thought it might also cause them to attain a higher spiritual status.

That is why Moshe was able to tell them that “I too want that.” The desire to reach that sort of connection to G-d is desirable! However, it cannot be. Just as “we have only one G-d, one ark, one Torah, and one altar, so too do we have only one Kohen Gadol.

May Hashem help us strengthen our connection with the Moshe of each generation. May Hashem help us improve our relationship with Him. In this manner, we will all reach the most incredible heights and bring Moshiach now!

I wish one and all a good Shabbos and a good month!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 18, Pages 187-189


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE

IN LOVING MEMORY OF
DR. MINDEL RIVKA (MURIEL) BAS REB MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO ע”ה STITT
PASSED AWAY ON SHABBAT PARSHAS LECH LECHA, 10 MAR-CHESHVAN, 5782
MAY HER SOUL BE BOUND IN THE ETERNAL BOND OF LIFE

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris


[1]. See Rashi’s comments to Bamidbar 16:6.

[2]. Shemos 19:9.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Naso I

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This week we read the Torah portion of Naso, the longest Parshah in the entire Torah. As such, it discusses several different subjects. Among that which is discussed is the law of a Sotah, an unfaithful wife. At the beginning of this subject, the Torah says[1], “Should any man’s wife go astray ….” The word which the Torah uses for “going astray” (תשטה) is related to the Hebrew word for folly or foolishness (שטות). Rashi is quick to point this out. He cites the words “Should any man’s wife go astray” and explains as follows. “Our Sages teach that adulterers do not sin unless a spirit of folly (שְׁטוּת) enters them …” In fact, the Sages teach this as a general rule which applies to all types of sins. The Talmud[2] tells us that “Resh Lakish said, ‘A person does not commit a transgression unless a spirit of folly (שטות) enters into him; as the Torah says, ‘If any man’s wife goes astray (תשטה).'”

Rashi and the Sages are telling us that one would never sin unless he is overcome by temporary insanity. The Torah contains 613 commandments. Why teach us this concept here? Many of these Mitzvos are so much more common than adultery! Why not use one of the other 612 commandments to teach us that sin is a form of insanity?

Our relationship with G-d is analogous to that of a wife to her husband. That is the basis of an entire book of the Bible, the Song of Songs. Hence when a Jew sins, he is comparable to an unfaithful wife. Hashem gives us life, sustains us, and takes care of us, and he cares for every detail of our existence. Listening to Him should be axiomatic! How is it possible for one to ignore what “her Husband” tells her? Moreover, how and why should I allow myself to “wander” and express interest in a different “Husband?”

There are two possible explanations. One is that I am unaware of the care that G-d shows me, and I was never taught about the relationship I have with my “spouse.” In that case, now is the time for my fellow Jews who are fortunate enough to have received a Jewish education to share their knowledge with me.

If I am fortunate enough to have a proper Jewish education and nevertheless choose to stray (G-d forbid), I must be temporarily insane. But that is no reason to despair, and it is only temporary. I always have the option to get my priorities straight and do Teshuvah.

May Hashem help us all to regain our sanity!

Have a wonderful Shabbos and a healthy summer!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 2, Page 311-314


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE

IN LOVING MEMORY OF
DR. MINDEL RIVKA (MURIEL) BAS REB MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO ע”ה STITT
PASSED AWAY ON SHABBAT PARSHAS LECH LECHA, 10 MAR-CHESHVAN, 5782
MAY HER SOUL BE BOUND IN THE ETERNAL BOND OF LIFE

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris


[1]. Our Parshah, Bamidbar 5:12.

[2]. Talmud Sotah 3, a.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Bamidbar Ii

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This week we begin reading the fourth book of the Torah. It is called Bamidbar, meaning “In the Wilderness.” Our Sages refer to it as Chumash Hapekudim, meaning the “Book of Counting.” We indeed find that this book begins with counting the Jewish people, and this would seem to be the reason for the English name of this book, Numbers.

This book begins[1], “Hashem spoke to Moshe in the Sinai Desert in the Tent of Meeting on the first day of the second month. This was in the second year after the Exodus from the land of Egypt. He said, ‘Take the sum of all the Jewish people by families following their fathers’ houses. You shall take a head count of every male according to the number of their names.’” In the first verse, Rashi cites the words, “The Lord spoke… in the Sinai Desert… on the first of the month.” He explains that “Because they (the Jews) were precious to Him, He counted them often. When they left Egypt, He counted them[2]. When many fell because of the golden calf, He counted them to know the number of the survivors[3]. He counted them when He came to cause His Presence to rest upon them (by erecting the Mishkan). On the first of Nissan, the Mishkan was erected. On the first of Iyar, He counted them.”

This appears to be quite baffling. The reason for counting what is precious is to know how much of it one has. People count their money because the amount of money they have fluctuates. However, this does not apply to the omniscient G-d! Hashem always knows how many Jews there are!

The explanation is that counting expresses a unique characteristic of the counted item. Each “object” is counted as one, no more and no less. This tells the greatness of each Jew. Whether one is intelligent, refined, or unrefined, we each have a common denominator: the soul clothed within us. The soul is a veritable part of G-d, and its essence is the “great equalizer.” From that perspective, each of us is equal. That is the reason that G-d took a census. G-d expressed, i.e., revealed the greatness of every one of us.

This Parshah is always read before the festival of Shavuos, the time we received the Torah. Why did each one of us merit to receive Hashem’s law? Because just the Torah is a part of Hashem, so too is each of us.

I wish one and all a good Shabbos! May we all merit receiving the Torah in joy and internalizing all of its holy teachings!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 8


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE

IN LOVING MEMORY OF
DR. MINDEL RIVKA (MURIEL) BAS REB MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO ע”ה STITT
PASSED AWAY ON SHABBAT PARSHAS LECH LECHA, 10 MAR-CHESHVAN, 5782
MAY HER SOUL BE BOUND IN THE ETERNAL BOND OF LIFE

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris


[1]. Our Parshah, Bamidbar 1:1-2.

[2]. Parshas Bo, Shemos 12:37.

[3]. Parshas Ki Siso,  Shemos 32:28.

Pearls of Rashi: Bamidbar I

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This coming Shabbos, we will read the Torah portion of Bamidbar – meaning “In the Wilderness.” It is always read before Shavuos when we received the Torah[1].

Our Torah portion tells us that[2]These are the descendants of Aharon and Moshe on the day that Hashem spoke to Moshe at Mount Sinai.” Rashi cites the words “These are the descendants of Aharon and Moshe” and makes the following comments. “(The Torah says ‘the descendants of Aharon and Moshe,’) yet only the sons of Aharon are mentioned. However, they are considered descendants of Moshe because he taught them Torah. This teaches us that whoever teaches Torah to the son of his fellow man is regarded as if he had begotten him[3].”

Everything in the Torah is precise. This is also true of analogies that the Torah makes use of. This is true of the comparison between teaching Torah and fathering a child. However, it would seem that the two are not entirely alike. A person is only born once, and from that point on, the individual grows and develops. Therefore, it would seem that Rashi (and the Talmud) should have said that “this teaches us that whoever teaches Torah to the son of his fellow man Torah for the first time is regarded as if he had begotten him.” It is at that point that the individual is born. Afterward, he is just developing.

This can be understood with the help of a teaching of the Baal Shem Tov. He taught that creation was not a one-time event; it is an ongoing process. Hashem is creating and re-creating the world every moment[4]. Based on this, the life force of each of us is constantly being created.

We say in the Siddur,[5] “for they (meaning the words of Torah) are our life and the length of our days.” In other words, the life of each of us is dependent upon Torah.

This means that had one not taught “the son of his fellow man” Torah, he would have lacked the renewed life energy he needed to receive at that moment to remain in existence. Hence, he actually “fathered,” brought about the creation of his fellow at that moment.

I wish one and all a good Shabbos! May we all merit receiving the Torah in joy and internalizing all of its holy teachings!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 23, Pages 8 – 16


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE

IN LOVING MEMORY OF
DR. MINDEL RIVKA (MURIEL) BAS REB MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO ע”ה STITT
PASSED AWAY ON SHABBAT PARSHAS LECH LECHA, 10 MAR-CHESHVAN, 5782
MAY HER SOUL BE BOUND IN THE ETERNAL BOND OF LIFE

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris


[1]. In fact, this year we read Parshas Bamidbar the day before Shavuos.

[2]. Bamidbar 3:1.

[3]. The source of Rashi’s words is from the Talmud, Sanhedrin 19, b.

[4]. See Shaar Hayichud Ve’emunah Chapter 1 where this is explained at length.

[5]. See the blessing before Shema in the Evening Service.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Behar I

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This week’s Torah portion, Behar, begins by teaching us the Sabbatical year and the Jubilee year laws. We would count six years, during which we would work the land. During the seventh, Sabbatical – Shmittah year, we would neither work, plant nor harvest the land. Furthermore, after seven cycles of seven years comes the Jubilee – Yovel year, when working the land is also prohibited.

The Torah introduces this by saying,[1] “Hashem spoke to Moshe on Har Sinai, saying.” Rashi is bothered that Hashem gave us all Mitzvos at Mount Sinai, not only these. Therefore, he explains that the Torah mentions Har Sinai in this context to teach us an important lesson. Just Hashem gave us the laws of Yovel and Shmittah at Sinai with all of their details; the same is true of all other commandments.

One year out of seven, we do not focus on our earthly needs. We place our faith totally in Hashem. However, it is not G-d’s intention for the world to work this way in general. For six years, we abide by the laws of nature. However, this prepares us for the seventh year. The seventh year makes it possible for us to serve Hashem throughout the other six. The Torah tells us that[2] “the land shall rest a Shabbos to the Lord.” Rashi explains that it is “for the sake of the Lord. This is just as it says of the Shabbos of Creation.” We spend six days of the week working within the world’s natural order. This prepares us for the seventh day, Shabbos. Likewise, Shabbos prepares us for the six weekdays.

On Shabbos, as during Shmittah, we transcend nature, relying solely on Hashem. During the week and the six years, we work within the laws of nature, using the world to elevate it.

How is it possible for a human to straddle between the natural and the Divine? The answer comes from Har Sinai. The portion begins, “And the Lord spoke to Moshe on Har Sinai, saying.”

The Midrash tells us[3] that when Hashem was about to give the Torah to the Jewish people, He gathered together all of the mountains. Each mountain claimed that Hashem should give the Torah on it, and Hashem asked them why they were complaining. “Being bigger does not matter, and I choose Sinai, for it is the smallest of all mountains.”

If being the lowest is advantageous, why give the Torah on a mountain? Why not give it in a valley or on a plain? If Hashem gives us the Torah on a mountain, why not give it on the tallest mountain?

The answer is that “the smallest mountain” best expresses the idea of the Torah. The idea is that we are small people who are involved with nature. Simultaneously, we must be mountains, giants, united with G-d Almighty Himself.

I wish one and all a Good Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 1, Page 273-281


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE

IN LOVING MEMORY OF
DR. MINDEL RIVKA (MURIEL) BAS REB MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO ע”ה STITT
PASSED AWAY ON SHABBAT PARSHAS LECH LECHA, 10 MAR-CHESHVAN, 5782
MAY HER SOUL BE BOUND IN THE ETERNAL BOND OF LIFE

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris


[1]. Our Parshah, Vayikroh 25:1.

[2]. Ibid, Vayikroh 25:2.

[3]. Midrash Tehillim 68:72.