AN ETERNAL PROMISE
"We passed from our brethren, the children of Esav, who live in Se'ir."
Benei Yisrael were instructed not to start up with the descendants of
Thus, when they were denied entry through their land - the land of Edom -
Benei Yisrael had no choice but to turn away and circumvent the country of
Edom. "And in Se'ir used to live the Horim, and the children of Esav
conquered them and destroyed them, and settled in their stead, just as
Yisrael did to its land of inheritance, that G-d gave them." The Humash
here equates Esav's settlement in the land of Se'ir with Benei Yisrael's
occupation of the Holy Land. The message is, just as we are instructed to
honor the settlement of Esav, so will the Al-mighty then honor our
settlement and not allow any other nation to occupy our land. "Like it
says: Woe unto all the evil neighbors who infringe upon the plot that I
[G-d] apportioned to My nation" (Ramban, Devarim 2:12).
For two thousand years, our land lay in fulfillment of the verse, "I will
make the land desolate, so that your enemies who settle in it shall be
appalled by it" (Vayikra 26:32). Those who wished to settle there and
establish a kingdom and autonomy therein were driven away, except for
willing to live there as individuals or in tiny groups. We therefore have
no reason to fear the attempts to establish an independent country of a
foreign and hostile nation in the middle of our country. The eternal
promise will be fulfilled until the end has come to every wicked neighbor
who undermines our settlement. We are confident in this promise just as
are sure of the eternal promise of our redemption.
A STORY AND ITS MESSAGE
In the work "Mora'im Gedolim" (p. 79), it is told of how the Western Wall,
the remnant of our Temple, was disclosed in the year 5300, four hundred
sixty years ago. When the Sultan captured Jerusalem, he chose for
the chamber now used by the Arab judges, called in Arabic the "Mahkamah."
One day he looked out the window and saw an elderly woman carrying a huge
sack of garbage, climbing up a heap of garbage next to the building and
dragging her collection in front of the heap. The despot was furious at
woman who dared deal with such filth right under the window of his private
offices. He ordered his men to bring her to him at once. "What is this
that you are doing?" he shouted.
The woman tried to justify herself before the Sultan. "I am a Christian
woman and I live far from Jerusalem, a two-day journey. We have a
time-honored tradition, dating back to the time of the Romans, that
living in Jerusalem brings his garbage to this place every day, those who
live in the surrounding areas bring their garbage twice a week, and those
living a three-day distance from the city bring their garbage once a
The Sultan was awfully curious about this peculiar practice. "Why, what
for?" he asked.
She answered, "On this spot stood the house of the G-d of Israel, and the
Romans burnt it and destroyed it. Only one wall survived, which the Roman
armies were unable to take down. They therefore decreed that it should be
covered with mud and garbage, so that an artificial mound be formed to
conceal it. In this way, the Temple will be eradicated from memory."
The Sultan was stunned and ordered that the old woman be imprisoned until
her story was verified. He instructed his men to surround the area and
every person bringing garbage to that spot. The guards stopped one person
after another and brought each one before the Sultan. Indeed, every
said that this was a ancient custom, though not all of them knew the
The Sultan thus ordered the woman's release from prison. He then
throughout the kingdom that anyone who wants to find favor in the eyes of
the Sultan should come to that area of trash near the Mahkamah and follow
his lead. An enormous gathering assembled, consisting of men, women,
adolescents and children. The Sultan took a bucket and scoop and climbed
top of the mound of garbage. He scooped some trash and poured it into the
bucket. Before he came down, he took a couple of handfuls of gold and
silver coins from his pocket and threw them onto the mound. Immediately,
the onlookers jumped onto the heap in a wild frenzy trying to retrieve the
coins. Meanwhile, the Sultan's servants scooped the heap into buckets and
carried them outside the southern gate of the city, called "Dung Gate."
They worked this way for a full month until they had finally cleared away
the entire heap and reached the ground. Once the pile has been cleared,
Western Wall was revealed in all its glory. The Sultan appointed
to ensure that anyone who attempts to bring garbage to that spot would be
incarcerated. He then called for the rabbi of the Jewish community and
warmly asked him to rebuild the Temple, in all its majesty and grandeur,
with funding provided by the royal treasury. The rabbi responded, "We
Your Majesty for his great kindness, but we wait for the Messianic King
will soon be revealed, and he will build the Temple." He did, however,
request that the Western Wall be recognized as a place designated for
prayer, a spot where Jews can beg for the rebuilding of the Temple.
We recall this story in honor of "Shabbat Hazon" and the week of Tisha
B'Av. Additionally, this truly remarkable story contains within it a
powerful lesson, one which we see unfolding right before our eyes, more
more each day.
Just as there is a Beit Hamikdash in the world, so does there exist a
Hamikdash" within a person, in his heart: "They shall make for Me a
sanctuary, and I will reside among them"; "They are the Temple of G-d."
Just as the Temple was destroyed on account of our sins, so is the private
Beit Hamikdash destroyed as a result of the person's sins. Every sinful
thought is like an idol brought into the sanctuary of the Mikdash, and
actual committal of a sin constitutes a unraveling and taking apart of the
structure, one brick at a time. However, just as the enemy was unable to
tear down the surrounding walls entirely, and the Western Wall withstood
attempts of destruction, so will all the sins never be able to extinguish
the Jewish spark, to untie the thread connecting any Jew - no matter who
is - to his Creator. No matter what, there will always be a remnant:
"...and on the Mountain of Zion there will be a remnant, and it will be
Unfortunately, though, at times that remnant is covered with trash, with
garbage bags filled to capacity with sins, misdeeds, desires and
behavior, all kinds of nonsense and filth. We must take the initiative to
clean ourselves from the dirt, and then the Western Wall will once again
emerge in all its glory and splendor, and it will serve as place where one
prays for the imminent redemption.
FROM THE WELLSPRINGS OF THE PARASHAH
"...in the desert, in the Aravah"
The Or Hahayyim zs"l explains that the desert symbolizes extreme humility,
as it remains open to everyone, with no owner to claim possession.
one who exhibits such a degree of modesty may refrain from correcting the
mistakes of another as a result of his low self-esteem, and will then bear
portion of the sin, for all Jews are responsible for one another.
Therefore, the Torah writes: "These are the words that Moshe spoke to all
Israel, in the desert" - referring to his harsh rebuke. Despite his
been the most humble of all people, characterizing the quality of the
desert, nevertheless, "ba'aravah" - related to the word "areivut," mutual
responsibility for one another. He was infused with this strong sense of
responsibility for his fellow Jews, and therefore overcame his humility
"...in the desert, in the Aravah"
Rabbenu Mordechai Hakohen zs"l, in his work "Siftei Kohen," writes that
administering rebuke must speak to each individual in a manner appropriate
for him. One cannot offer one piece of reproof that will encompass and
relate to everyone. Therefore, when Moshe began his words of rebuke to
Benei Yisrael, he turned first to one segment of the populace - the "eirev
rav" who joined Benei Yisrael in Egypt and were particularly
"bamidbar," which may be read as a combination of two words, "bedibbur
in a sharp, critical tone. To the rest of the people, however, he spoke
"ba'aravah," which may be related to the word "areiv," pleasant. Moshe
rebuked the rest of the nation in a gentle and pleasant manner so that it
may enter their hearts and bring about the desired commitment and
"...in the desert, in the Aravah"
Rashi explains that "desert" refers to Moshe's rebuke over their sins in
the desert, when they asked, "If only we had died in the desert..."
"Aravah" refers to his censure of the incident of Ba'al Pe'or, which took
place in Arvot Moav. ("Aravah" alludes to the location of Arvot Moav.)
this way, Moshe administered reproof through allusions, rather than
embarrassing them by explicitly enumerating their misdeeds. The Alshich
zs"l questions this approach of Rashi based on Devarim 9:22, where Moshe
holds nothing back and rebukes them directly and openly: "And in Taveirah,
and in Masah and in Kivrot HaTa'avah, you angered Hashem." He answers
one offering rebuke must calculate his words meticulously, for "just as it
is a misvah to say that which will be heard, so is it a misvah not to say
that which will not be heard." If they object to his words of reproof,
their guilt will intensify even more, and his rebuke will then have
in curse rather than blessing. Moshe therefore opened his critique with
subtle allusions to see their reaction. If it turned out that they
his reproof, he would continue to rebuke; otherwise, he would stop.
Rabbeinu Ovadia of Bartenura zs"l offers a slightly different approach.
Moshe did not want to open a sefer with direct and overt rebuke, just as
Rashi (Bemidbar 9:1) teaches us that Sefer Bemidbar did not begin with the
parashah of Pesah Sheni, although such an opening would have been
chronologically warranted, since this section involves shame on behalf of
Benei Yisrael, who observed only one Pesah in the wilderness.
This approach, too, teaches us that one must not begin his words with
sharp words of criticism. Rather, the critique should surface only
gradually, over the course of conversation.
THE GOLDEN COLUMN
The Ar"I zs"l
This Sunday, the first day of the week of Tisha B'Av, the day of
destruction caused by our internal conflicts and senseless hatred, marks
anniversary of the death of Rabbenu Yisshak Ashkenazi zs"l. He was known
the Ar"I, an acronym for "Adonenu Rabbi Yisshak." He, too, died on
of the bickering and fighting among people. The Ar"I closed himself off
his courtyard with his students and their families. Each family had a
to itself, and the group of scholars would sit before the rabbi as he
revealed profound secrets that were not revealed even to the Tannaim,
Amoraim or prophets. The Satan was incapable of entering that courtyard
because of the pillar of fire that extended until the heavens. Indeed,
Torah session resembled the initial receiving of the Torah at Har Sinai.
After four months, an argument broke out among the women, who then brought
the matter to their husbands. Eventually, the students themselves began
fighting with one another. The rabbi tried restoring peace by telling
"You should know, as long as there is love and fraternity among you, no
Satan or heavenly prosecutor can cause us any harm, as Hashem Himself and
the Heavenly Hosts protect us. But if you continue to fight, be warned
it will result in calamity." But unknowingly, the women brought their
husbands into the dispute and on Friday a fight broke out among the
students. The argument reached such a degree that their voices could be
heard from afar. At late afternoon, the rabbi went with his students out
into the fields to greet the Shabbat, as was there custom. When they
returned, he sat to pray arvit with great pain and anguish, as opposed to
joy and exuberance that normally characterized the Friday night service.
After the tefilah the students came before the rabbi and asked, "Why was
master praying with such a troubled look on his face?" Sadly, he
"Because during kabbalat Shabbat I saw the Satan, and he was reciting the
verse, "...both you and your king will be finished" (Shemuel I 12). It
seems that he was given permission to take hold of me, and this can be
because of the fighting that occurred today. So long as there was peace
among you, no prosecutor or harmful spirit could have affected us." Sure
enough, just a few days later the Ar"I took ill and was called to the
yeshivah up in the heavens. May his merit protect us, Amen.
ASKING AND EXPOUNDING
A Series of Halachot According to the Order of the Shulhan Aruch,
the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
By Rav David Yossef shlit"a, Rosh Bet Midrash Yehaveh Da'at
Chapter 8: The Laws of Sisit
Reciting the Blessing Over the Tallit After Putting it On
If one's hands were unclean when he wishes to put on his tallit and was
therefore unable to recite the berachah, or if one finds himself in an
unclean place where reciting a berachah is forbidden, he should put on his
tallit without a berachah. When he is later able to recite the berachah,
should feel some strings from the tallit and recite the berachah. If he
planning on putting on another tallit at some later point that day, then
should recite the berachah over the second tallit and have in mind that
berachah should apply as well to the first tallit he had worn earlier. In
such a situation, he does not need to feel the strings of the first tallit
before reciting the berachah. These halachot apply as well to someone who
puts on his tallit before daybreak. [Regarding one who puts on his tallit
katan in the morning before washing his hands, we have already mentioned
previous issues that the common practice is not to recite a berachah on
tallit katan at all. Rather, one fulfills the requirement of the berachah
for the tallit katan through his berachah over the tallit gadol. However,
one who puts on a tallit katan after tefilah, and is not planning on
a tallit gadol for the rest of the day, does recite a berachah over the
tallit katan, provided it is of a large enough measurement to require
according to Torah law. If, in such a situation, one cannot recite the
berachah because of his dirty hands or because he finds himself in an
unclean place, then he puts on the tallit katan without a berachah and
later, when he can recite a berachah, he feels the sisit and recites the
Wearing the Strings of the Tallit Katan Under One's Clothing
The common practice among the Sefaradim and Middle-Eastern communities is
to wear the tallit katan under one's clothing, including both the garment
well as the sisit themselves. This is the view of the Ar"I zs"l and the
Kabbalists. Yeshivah students, too, should not deviate from the custom of
their parents and grandparents who have practiced this way for many
generations. However, those Ashkenazim who have the custom of wearing the
sisit outside their clothing may do so, as they have authorities upon whom
Although, as we said, the tallit katan should be worn specifically under
one's clothing, it should preferably not be worn directly on one's body.
Rather, it should be worn on top of another garment but under one's shirt.
Nevertheless, strictly speaking there is room for leniency in this regard.
Interruption and Diversion of Concentration During the Berachah
One who wears several four-cornered garments, even at the same time, must
place sisit on all of them. This is indicated by the pasuk that says
(Bemidbar 15:38), "They shall make for themselves sisit, on the corners of
their GARMENTS." The plural form of "garments" suggests that sisit must
attached to even many garments, so long as they have four corners.
If one has in mind to wear several four-cornered garments and plans on
putting them on one right after the other, he recites a berachah over the
first one, and this berachah suffices for the subsequent garments, as
However, he must ensure that his concentration is not diverted from the
misvah until they have all been worn. If his concentration was diverted,
must recite a new berachah.
However, as explained in previous issues, the custom is not to recite a
berachah over the tallit katan in the morning, even though it is worn
the tallit gadol. The reason is that the Aharonim are in dispute with
regard to the minimum measurement of a garment required to fulfill the
misvah, and we never recite a berachah when its obligation is in doubt.
Therefore, rather than reciting a berachah over the tallit katan - which
be too small according to some views - one recites a berachah only on the
tallit gadol, and has in mind that this berachah should apply as well to
tallit katan. However, one who did recite the berachah - "al missvat
- over the tallit katan and had in mind that the berachah should apply as
well to the tallit gadol to be worn later, has fulfilled his requirement
regarding the tallit gadol and does not recite a new berachah when he puts
on the tallit gadol. But if, when he recited the berachah over the tallit
katan, the person did not have in mind to fulfill his obligation regarding
the tallit gadol, and the tallit gadol was not in front of him when he
recited the berachah, he must recite a berachah when he puts on the tallit
THIS IS THE STYLE TODAY
What can I tell you, my good friends, sometimes it seems that we live
inside some kind of bubble, isolated from what goes on in the general
society. I met a Jew from Tel-Aviv, a young modern man, who felt that he
can longer have his children educated in the city. He sensed that the
trials confronting the youngsters are simply too difficult for them at
a tender age. He therefore decided to move to nearby Benei Berak and rent
out his apartment. He put an ad in the paper and received a host of
responses. The majority of those who called were young couples living
together without having been married. What's frightening is that this is
longer a rare occurrence, something out of the ordinary. What more, these
are the products of the present educational system. We cannot but wonder
terror how the precious first-graders of today will look fifteen years
now. Will they have earrings on their tongues and eyebrows, living lives
outright, unrestrained permissiveness?
As a matter of principle, this man decided he would rent his apartment
to an established family. One family that came under consideration was a
single-parent unit, a divorcee with her daughter. And so, they signed a
contract and the man prepared for his move. He went over the neighbors to
inform them of his relocation. He knocked on the door and said, "We are
moving, but don't worry - a very nice family is moving in. They have a
daughter the same age as your Telli, and they can walk to school
Telli studies in a secular public school. After he told the neighbors the
good news, he felt it necessary to add, "This is a single-parent family, a
mother and her daughter." He expected some kind of response, but he was
prepared for what he heard: "That's now in style," said the neighbor.
"Sixty-five percent of Telli's grade have only one parent."
He was shocked. He was still stunned the next day, when I spoke with him.
"Try to figure out what's going on. There are some single-parent families
because the parents were never married, others were married and then
separated. The institution of the family faces extinction. But have you
thought about the children? In another fifteen or so years, these
will be parents. What kind of memories of parenthood will they carry with
them? On what kind of foundation will they build their homes? What will
their families look like?"
Indeed, this is frightening. Thankfully, this is not how things are in
society, this is not the case in our schools. But if there was a handful
refugees on an island who saw a boat lost at sea and people sinking, is it
enough to say, "Thank G-d we are safe!"? At very least, we would try to
allow as many people possible to join our island, to save themselves; to
save the integrity of the family unit and the ultimate success and
of the children as they join the world of Torah, by being registered in
Torah educational institutions.
The Deserted Woman of Jerusalem
A Story From the Work, "The Seraf of Brisk" - The Life of Mahari"l Diskin
Flashback: Mahari"l Diskin, known as the "Seraf of Brisk," spent the end
his life in Jerusalem, and was blessed with ru'ah hakodesh. Once when a
bar-misvah boy came to receive the rabbi's blessing, he told the boy to
of his tefillin because they were pasul. The boy's father took the boy to
Rabbi Moshe Shohet, the sofer who prepared the tefillin, who discovered,
much to his horror, that the beautiful parshiyot that he prepared for the
tefillin were replaced with leaves from corn-stalks. He took the father
see Baruch Mordechai, the one who made the batim (tefillin-boxes.).
The next hour was a most difficult one for all of them. It was an hour of
wonder and anger, cries and outrage. It was a period marked by wails and
tears, and pleading for forgiveness. Baruch Mordechai was utterly broken,
emotionally. Choking in tears, he told of how the financial difficulties
and the pressure of feeding his large family overcame him, and he
a whole series of sins. He replaced the beautiful parshiyot with cubes of
corn stalks and pieces of rags, Heaven forbid, and he sold the parshioyot
for full price. Not only did he steal and mislead, but he led his
to sin, by causing them to wear improper tefillin and recite a "berachah
"I will return everything!" he pleaded, "to the very last penny, I will
return it all!"
Shocked and aghast, they the two men left and walked out quietly. The
spread quickly throughout the community: anyone who purchased
from Baruch Mordechai should check their tefillin immediately.
Many sighs of anguish were heard that day in Jerusalem. The sofrim will
busy at work as many corn stalks were found in people's tefillin. A group
of angry customers gathered around the house of the fraudulent artisan and
expressed their harsh resentment over what was done. They demanded their
money, they demanded compensation and demanded a fine. People gathered
released their frustration in each other's ears. However, the subject of
their conversation disappeared from his home, as if swallowed by the
A few strong men left the gathering and went to Jaffa Gate to see if they
can catch him and seize him before he left the city. But investigations
reported that a man resembling his description had already rented a wagon
and left Jerusalem.
His wife, Mereishah, became an "agunah," a deserted woman. She now lived
life of a widow. The embarrassment, which had accumulated so heavily in
beginning, gradually subsided. More recent troubles diverted her
from the earlier shame. Financial hardship came crashing down on her and
her family like a stone wall, as her children asked for food but there was
none. She opened a flimsy stand in the vegetable market but was pushed
one place to the next. She managed to sell a little bit to compassionate
wives and with great difficulty was able to feed her small children,
under difficult conditions of poverty.
Several years of loneliness, poverty and hunger passed. The profits from
the small vegetable stand, together with some money from charity, barely
sufficed. The time eventually came when the wound was opened once
to be continued...
THE WONDERS OF CREATION
Creatures Living Between the Grains of Sand
People who walk along the sand at the beach on a hot summer day certainly
have no idea that they are stepping on tiny creatures hiding in between
grains of sand. The truth is, that within the grains of sand along the
beach exists a whole world of its own. Here lives a wide and impressive
range of small creatures. In any given handful of moist sand, many small
creatures no larger than .1 mm live in hiding and crawl between the
In order to collect these creatures, one needs a net whose holes are much
smaller than even the holes of a flour-sifter. These millions of
found at the beach don't stop moving for a moment. They crawl and
move back and forth, and even swim. Among these fascinating creatures is
the nematode. Through a microscope, the nematode looks like a worm that
bends in between its two ends. It's covered with small thorns that help
stick itself between the grains of sand. It's color is generally clear,
after it eats it changes to either green or gold. Another creature in the
grains of sand looks like a cylinder with arms protruding therefrom.
the arms is a head crowned with six bones that look like tiny thorns.
this creature, called the kinorhintz, wants to move, the head and arms
thrust out and it begins to move in a rowing-like fashion. This motion
enables it to climb on top of a grain of sand, which, for a creature its
size, is like a skyscraper. Has anyone heard of the turbellarian? These
creatures are far more dangerous than the first ones. In their mouth lies
hidden a tiny pitcher that can thrust forward and catch any creature it
wishes to become its dinner. Many years of research have found that these
tiny creatures serve a most critical function, as the "sanitation workers"
of the beach. They feed off of bacteria, fungus and other harmful
that each day wash up on shore. Thus, they are responsible for keeping
So, as it turns out, even a microscopic creature serves an important role
in serving man. How much more so does man, then, play a critical role in
the world. Every Jew must therefore ask himself why he was created, and
what is his role in the world. He must search, investigate and seek out
Jewish roots and figure out what Hashem demands of him each day. In this
way, he will realize the ultimate purpose - the fulfillment of his job in