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The Torah, in Sefer Debarim 8:10, introduces the misvah of birkat hamazon, to offer a blessing to Hashem after we have eaten our fill of bread. All other berachot, however, including those recited before eating and those recited after eating, are required only miderabbanan (by force of Hazal's enactment).
Hazal comment that whoever derives benefit from this world before reciting a berachah is considered as having benefited unlawfully from sacred property (Berachot 35a), and as having stolen from both the Al-mighty and Am Yisrael (Berachot 35b). Hazal required a berachah before the consumption of any quantity of food, regardless of how small, and a berachah aharonah - a berachah recited after eating a kezayit of food or drinking a revi'it of liquid. All these berachot must be recited verbally; one does not fulfill his obligation by just thinking the berachah in his mind. He must recite the berachah loud enough that he can hear it; if, however, he cannot hear his berachah, he has nevertheless fulfilled his obligation ("bedi'avad"). One should not raise his voice too much when praying. One must articulate the berachah properly and ensure not to swallow letters or words. One must also take two brief pauses when reciting a berachah - after "Baruch Atah Hashem," and after "Elokenu Melech ha'olam."
According to the Shulhan Aruch, whose rulings we have accepted, one recites "borei peri ha'ess" over all crushed fruits, even if their original form has been completely lost, as well as jams, even if they have been blended in a mixer. Similarly, one recites "borei peri ha'adamah" over mashed potatoes, crushed radishes, crushed carrots, diced vegetables, and popcorn.
Over all beverages one recites "she'hakol," even if they are produced from fruits or vegetables, with the exception of olive oil, over which one recites "ha'ess," and wine, over which one recites "borei peri hagefen." However, one who drinks plain olive oil does not recite any berachah, since this is harmful for one's health and thus does not warrant the recitation of a berachah. If one eats it with bread, his berachah over the bread covers the oil, as well, and thus no separate berachah is recited over the oil. If, however, one drinks olive oil mixed with some liquid that renders it healthful, and one drinks it for its medicinal effect, then he recites "ha'ess." If, however, one drinks this mixture simply for drinking, and not for any medical purpose, he recites "shehakol."
One does not recite shehehheyanu when drinking a fruit drink, even if he has not yet eaten of that fruit.
If one mistakenly recited "ha'adamah" over a fruit that grows on a tree, he has nevertheless fulfilled his obligation. If, however, one mistakenly recited "ha'ess" over a vegetable, grown from the ground, he has not fulfilled his obligation. Therefore, if one is in doubt concerning a given food as to whether it grows from a tree or from the ground, he should recite "ha'adamah." Over bananas one recites "ha'adamah." If one recited "shehakol" over any food, including bread and wine, he has fulfilled his obligation.
Foods eaten during a meal after bread do not require a berachah if they are foods over which one normally makes a meal, such as meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, cheese, porridge, and types of salted foods. They do not require a berachah aharonah, either, as birkat hamazon covers the entire meal. Other foods, however, that do not normally make a meal, such as fruit, require a berachah before their consumption even during the meal. They do not, however, require a berachah aharonah.
All this applies when one eats a kezayit of bread at that meal; otherwise, all foods require berachot as usual and are not covered by the berachah of "hamossi."
The leader of the household, rather than his guest, should himself break bread on behalf of everyone at the table. Birkat hamazon, however, should be recited by the guest.
One who places a mezuzah on his door recites the berachah "asher kideshanu… likbo'a mezuzah." If he wishes to give this honor to a Torah scholar, then the scholar recites a different text for the berachah - "al kevi'at mezuzah." The same applies to other misvot. For example, when one makes a fence around his roof, he recites the berachah "asher kideshanu… la'asot ma'akeh." If, however, a Jewish worker places the fence for someone, he recites "al asiyat ma'akeh." Likewise, one who personally performs his son's circumcision recites "lamul at haben," whereas if a mohel circumcises someone else's son he recites, "al hamilah."
There are bright people working for the Homefront Command in Israel. No, I am not saying this in jest. Actually, I say this with a sense of respect and gratitude. In general, whoever works on behalf of others, to help them, is guaranteed reward from Hashem, and we must show appreciation for those involved in this important work. There is no doubt that the staff of the Homefront Command fall into this category. They work for the public's welfare, for our welfare. All Israelis have received from the Command an information booklet with guidelines for family protection. It is a shame they did not make it appropriate for all sectors, meaning, even for us. No one would have felt insulted if the woman on the front cover was wearing a skirt. A little sensitivity wouldn't hurt, particularly during a time of fear that unites all of us. But this is really a small, parenthetical note. Obviously no one had any intention of insulting anybody, and perhaps that's even worse - that people don't even notice that they are insulting, we are not even aware of the necessary sensitivity. In any event, I read the booklet carefully, for, after all, we are commanded to protect our lives. I paid particular attention to the tenth page - the instructions for what to do in case of an attack on the homefront.
I read that when the siren sounds, we should turn off all ovens, furnaces, heaters, air conditioning units, faucets and gas outlets. Understandable, I thought to myself.
Next: Close all exterior doors and windows in the home. Why, I asked myself. What does this instruction have anything to do with the Iraqi threat, the threat of a missile attack? What do they care if the windows are sealed and the door is locked?
I realized that the Homefront Command thought of everything. The threat is not only from Iraq, but also from burglars, who will not hesitate to take advantage of this opportunity. Imagine: The entire family hurries to the sealed room, closes and seals the door, and covers their faces with gas masks. In the meantime, the front door opens and thieves come inside, emptying one room after the next…
Thank you, people of the Homefront Command. But what would you say, in light of all this, of the holy Torah's command in our parashah: "Three times a year all your males shall be seen in the presence of the Master, Hashem, the Lord of Israel." From Dan in the north to Be'er Sheva in the south, from Yaffo in the west to Jericho in the east - everyone leaves their homes and fields, they leave their cows in the barn, the horses in the stable, they leave all their possessions in their homes and estates, and they go to spend a week of spiritual elevation and joint celebration in House of Hashem, in Yerushalayim, in the courtyard of the Bet Hamikdash, three times a year!
Meanwhile, the country is surrounded by enemies - Amon, Moav, Geval, Peleshet, Tyre and Aram. Benei Yisrael had not even driven out all the enemies living within the country's boundaries. Not to mention the thieves from within…
How could the Al-mighty command that we abandon everything, collectively, to travel in giant caravans leaving behind empty cities? Will we have anywhere to return?
Of course! Hashem promises us and says, "No man shall desire your land when you go up to be seen in the presence of Hashem your G-d three times a year."
This is a promise that withstood the test of time, not one year or two, not ten or twenty, not one hundred or even two hundred years - but around one thousand and four hundred years, throughout the period when the Mishkan was in Nov and then Givon, Shilo and Yerushalayim, during both the first and second Batei Mikdash, over four thousand Yamim Tovim. No one desired this land, nobody took advantage of the abandonment of the cities and property!
Could the Homefront Command make such a promise and carry it out? Do we need any other proof that the Torah is divine, that Hashem protects those who observe His misvot?
Rabbenu Ovadia Seforno zs"l writes that at Matan Torah Benei Yisrael earned the presence of the Shechinah but then lost it with the sin of the golden calf. These are the "pieces of jewelry" that the Torah records they removed after the sin (see 33:6). Moshe Rabbenu petitioned the Al-mighty to return His Shechinah to the nation, and said that otherwise, they will remain in the wilderness: "If Your countenance does not go with us, do not move us from here." Without the Shechinah, they would not survive in the land, they would be very soon banished from it. Hashem agreed and instructed Moshe with regard to the Mishkan, through which the Shechinah will reside among Benei Yisrael.
But there was one condition for the Shechinah's return to the people: "However, you shall observe My Shabbatot, for it is a sign between Me and you." The Seforno explains: "If you ruin this sign, there is no place for making a Mishkan for Me to reside among you." Without Shabbat, without the observance of Shabbat, there is no Shechinah. There is no Shechinah in the nation, and it thus cannot survive for an extended period of time in its land. If there is no Shechinah in the home, then the opposite occurs: "Man and wife - if there are deserving, the Shechinah is among them; if they are not deserving, fire consumes them," Heaven forbid. If there is no Shechinah within a person, if he never receives his extra soul on Shabbat, if there is no spiritual elevation and purification of Shabbat - then there is nothing.
We must therefore strengthen ourselves in the observance of Shabbat, to ensure to make all the necessary preparations early, to meticulously observe all the intricate halachot, and not to end Shabbat until the time of Rabbenu Tam, as the Shulhan Aruch rules!
What prompted the erev rav, the people who left Egypt with Benei Yisrael, to make the golden calf? What led tens of thousands among Benei Yisrael to remain idle as this took place? What led to this sudden deterioration, to the removal of the spiritual crowns, to the divine anger to the point where Hashem decreed the nation's destruction? What brought about all our troubles - "There is no calamity that befalls the world that does not contain some punishment for the sin of the calf, as it says, 'and on the day of My accounting, I will make an accounting for your sin'" (Sanhedrin 102a). We ask this question not merely to understand what happened there and then, but to know how to act here and now. The word "Torah" means instruction, it is a guidebook, and its lessons are eternally relevant to and binding upon every person in every generation.
The pasuk itself gives us the answer: "The nation saw that Moshe delayed coming down from the mountain" (Shemot 32:1). Rashi explains that when Moshe ascended the mountain, he told them that he will return after forty days, within six hours. They thought that the day Moshe ascended the mountain counted towards the forty days. He, however, had meant forty complete days - forty days including the nights. Therefore, the day he went up the mountain did not count as one of the forty days.
A miscalculation, the result of a mistaken assumption.
When we look a bit deeper, we discover that their error actually had a basis to it.
Rabbi Pinhas Horowitz zs"l, the "Hafla'ah," established ("Hamakneh," Kiddushin 37b; "Panim Yafot," Noah, and elsewhere) that before Matan Torah the night followed the day, as the pasuk states, "day and night did not cease" (Beresheet 8:22). The pasuk mentions first the day and only thereafter the night. But then the Al-mighty said to Moshe, "From evening until evening you shall observe your day of rest" (Vayikra 23:32) - from which point the "day" as defined by halachah began at night, rather than in the morning.
Thus, Benei Yisrael were accustomed to considering morning the beginning of the day. Now Moshe Rabbenu always ascended Har Sinai early in the morning (Rashi, 19:3). Understandably, then, Benei Yisrael counted the day he went up as the first of the forty days, and a complete day still lay ahead of them after he went up. But they failed to realize that the Torah was given and introduced the concept that the "day" begins at nighttime. Thus, the day Moshe went up was not a complete day and therefore did not count towards the forty days. Once the forty days ended according to their miscalculation, they became bewildered and frightened. They lost themselves and made the golden calf.
By the time Moshe came down from the mountain the following day and showed them their error, it was too late. The luhot were broken, the decree had been issued, and the angel of death, the evil inclination, and the subjugation to foreign rule returned.
What does all this come to teach us?
Sometimes a person encounters a certain difficulty, a point of uncertainty. He becomes confused and perplexed. At times he feels convinced that his question is sound and well substantiated. At that point he must be told: Stop! Don't do anything! You do not know everything, you do not understand everything. The Rambam was far more intelligent than you, as was Rav Saadia Gaon, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai, Rabbi Akiva, Yirmiyahu the prophet, Yeshayahu, Eliyahu the prophet, and Moshe Rabbenu. They knew it all, including your question - and the answer. They believed in and observed the misvot, and thereby earned ru'ah hakodesh and prophecy, each according to his level and the level of his generation. So be patient. If you receive your answer here, in this world, great; if not, you will understand in the next world.
The Ben Ish Hai zs"l tells (in his "Hasdei Avot" 5:22) that Rav Haim Vital - who lived around four hundred years ago - concluded, on the basis of a pasuk in Sefer Iyov (28:25), "When He fixed the weight of winds," that air has weight. A certain scientist scoffed at him and claimed that this contradicted logic and reason. Space is filled with air, he argued, and if it had weight we would be crushed by its force. At the time, there was nothing to say; this was a perfectly sound, logical argument. How did Rav Haim Vital's students respond? They said that the question is indeed in its place, but the pasuk says what it says and is true. We can easily imagine the response to such an answer. But, lo and behold, generations passed and science discovered that indeed air has weight. Not only that, but hot air is lighter than cold air, and hydrogen is lighter than oxygen, and thus was the hot-air balloon invented. But what about the conclusive, logical proof raised against such a theory? Now all of a sudden we'll be sophisticated scientists and scoff at those who doubt it. Water clearly has weight, and yet it does not weigh down on the fish and crush them. So simply has the question been discarded, and the pasuk's accuracy has been proven.
This is the message for us - to realize that Moshe and his Torah are true, that every question has an answer. We will walk innocently and thereby walk securely (Mishlei 19). Fortunate are those who walk innocently - who follow the Torah of Hashem!
"Take the herbs stacte, onycha, and galbanum - those herbs together with pure frankincense"
The Midrash (Tanhuma, Tesaveh 15) says: "The Al-mighty said: Of all the sacrifices you offer, there is none dearer to Me than the ketoret [incense], for it comes not for any sin or transgression or guilt, but rather for joy, as it says, 'Oil and incense gladden the heart' (Mishlei 27). See how beloved the ketoret is, for through it the plague ended. Aharon found the angel [of death] standing and destroying. He stayed opposite it and did not let it go. He said to Aharon: Let me go and carry out my mission. Aharon stopped it with the power of the ketoret."
"Take the herbs stacte, onycha, and galbanum - those herbs together with pure frankincense"
Not only the actual offering of the ketoret, but even studying and reciting the parashah of ketoret yield remarkable power as the Zohar writes (2:218): "This matter is a decree issued by the Al-mighty, that whoever studies and reads the topic of the constitution of the ketoret every day is saved from all evil things and witchcraft in the world, and from all serious injury, from evil thoughts, from harsh judgment, and from death, and will not be harmed that entire day, for the evil force has no control over him. One must concentrate during this recitation. Rabbi Shimon said, if people would know how exalted the concept of the ketoret is before the Al-mighty, they would take every single word in it and wear it as a crown on their head like a golden crown. Whoever involves himself in it must delve into the concept of the ketoret. If he concentrates on it every day, he earns a portion both in this world and in the next world, and death will be eliminated from him and from the world, and he will be saved from all prosecution in this world, from impurity, from the judgment of Gehinnom and from subjugation to foreign rule."
"Take the herbs stacte, onycha, and galbanum - those herbs together with pure frankincense"
The Yalkut Me'am Loez cites a story from the Midrash Hane'elam. Rav Aha once arrived in a certain town that had been ravaged by a plague for seven days. The townspeople came to him and told him of their troubles. The plague was only intensifying, and they did not know what to do. He said, "Let us go to the Bet Kenesset and pray that it stops." As they made their way towards the Bet Kenesset, people came and told them that the plague had claimed even more victims; others are about to die. He said, "Since the calamity is so severe and time is running out, we will not go to the Bet Kenesset. Rather, bring me forty G-d-fearing people and they will divide into groups of ten, each of which should go to one direction of the city and recite 'pitum haketoret' (the Talmudic discussion of the ingredients of the ketoret) three times. They should then add, 'Moshe said to Aharon: Take the firepan and place fire upon it from the altar and place ketoret, and quickly bring it to the nation and atone on their behalf… ' until 'and the plague ended.'" They did as he told, and the plague stopped. All those who had been stricken were cured. A heavenly voice called out to the harmful spirits, "Do no more damage in this town, for the attribute of justice no longer has any control over them!"
Rav Aha was exhausted and fell asleep. He dreamt that it was told to him, "Just as you eliminated the plague from the city, so must you bring them back in teshuvah, for one cannot endure without the other, because it was on account of their sins that the plague was decreed." He told this to the townspeople and they repented. They changed the name of the town to "Mahsiya," which means "town of compassion." They kept the town's name in their minds at all times so as to ensure that they would not return to their sinful ways.
"Take the herbs stacte, onycha, and galbanum - those herbs together with pure frankincense"
Rabbenu Yosef Haim zs"l cites an enigmatic passage from the Midrash. Rebbe's students asked him, how do we know that the ketoret annuls the venom of the original snake [of Gan Eden]? He answered, "Notice how the pasuk distinguished between the two and the five." Rabbenu Yosef Haim explained that the Torah does not specify all the ingredients of the ketoret. Hazal extract the information from the pasuk. "Take the herbs" refers to two ingredients; "stacte, onycha and galbanum" adds another three; "those herbs" adds the same number of ingredients as already mentioned - meaning, another five; and "pure frankincense" makes eleven. Thus, the word "samim" ("herbs"), which appears twice in the pasuk, refers to two ingredients the first time and five the second time. In between we have "stacte, onycha, and galbanum" - or, in Hebrew, "nataf," "shehelet" and "helbenah." The first letters of these words spell the word, "nahash" - snake. This alludes to the fact that the ketoret eliminates the snake's venom and overpowers the forces of impurity!
Rabbi Shelomoh Zafrani zs"l
Rabbi Shelomoh Zafrani zs"l was born ninety-two years ago in Aram Soba. Already in his youth he showed signs of remarkable talent, and became known as a G-d-fearing young man with a very special character. He placed himself in the shadow of Torah giants, the great Rabbi Yeshayah Dayan, Rabbi Shelomoh Safdieh, Rabbi Yaakov Doueck and Rabbi Yis’hak Bechor Mizrahi zs"l. He became the close disciple of Rabbi Ezra Sha'in zs"l. His diligent study and devotion to learning were extraordinary and very quickly students gathered around him to learn Torah from him. Together with his colleague Rabbi Moshe Tawil zs"l, he founded the "Degel Ha'Torah" yeshivah and served as supervisor of the local mikva'ot. His community supported him as well as the yeshivah. With the outbreak of the first World War, the situation in the city steadily deteriorated and the community's funds ran out. Rabbi Shelomoh no longer had any means of a livelihood. He then received a great offer from the one of the founders of a certain school, that he come and serve as director of the Torah studies which would be conducted alongside general studies. He was offered a generous salary, but he soon realized that the Jewish studies in the school were only a facade. The clear emphasis was placed on the general studies, which were taught by secular teachers who scorned all that is sacred. A lightheaded atmosphere pervaded the school, and there was little fear of G-d among the students. He innocently thought that perhaps the administration did not know what really was going on. But when he brought all this to the administration's attention, he was told, "A school is not a Bet Midrash; as far as we are concerned, we are prepared to forego entirely on the Judaic studies. Their job, and the rabbi's job, is simply to convince parents to send their children here, and help them overcome their fears."
Rabbi Shelomoh heard this and immediately quit his post. He knew that years of hunger and poverty lay ahead of him, but this did not deter him. He immediately began waging a tenacious battle against the deception of the school, which set as its goal raising a generation of heretics who would be detached from their religion.
At the age of sixty-eight, he moved to Eress Yisrael and settled in Tel-Aviv. He lived there for nine years, until his death on 23 Adar Rishon 5728.
According to the Order of the Shulhan Aruch, Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
by Rav David Yossef shlit"a
Interruptions in the Middle of Pesukei D'zimrah
One who is in the middle of Pesukei De'zimrah should not respond to "modim de'rabbanan" with the congregation. He should rather bow and say the three words of "Modim anahnu lach" and no more. The rest of the "modim de'rabbanan" he should think to himself in his mind. If one had completed yishtabah and had yet to begin the berachah of "yosser or" when he hears the congregation responding with "modim de'rabbanan," he may say it along with them in its entirety.
If one is in the middle of Pesukei De'zimrah and hears that the congregation now recites shema, he should not interrupt his recitation to say the pasuk of "Shema Yisrael" along with the congregation. Instead, he should place his hand over his eyes and recite the words of Pesukei De'zimrah that he currently says in the same melody in which the congregation chants the pasuk of "Shema Yisrael," in order to give the impression that he says the pasuk along with them. However, in between yishtabah and the berachah of "yosser or," one recites the pasuk of "Shema Yisrael" along with the congregation. The Ashkenazim have the practice that one does, indeed, recite the pasuk of "Shema Yisrael" along with the congregation even in the middle of Pesukei De'zimrah.
If one is in the middle of Pesukei De'zimrah or shema or its berachot, and he sees a Torah scholar or elderly person walk within four cubits of him, he must stand up in their honor to fulfill the Torah obligation to rise before scholars and elders.
If someone reciting Pesukei De'zimrah sees that the final time for shema is approaching within the next few minutes and he will not complete Pesukei De'zimrah in time, he should immediately stop and recite all three parshiyot of shema. Even if more time remains before three hours (as defined by halachah) will have passed since sunrise, he may still interrupt Pesukei De'zimrah to recite shema if soon three hours will have passed since daybreak.
All this applies only when the time for shema will end very soon. If, however, one could reach shema with its berachot in time by skipping the chapters of Pesukei De'zimrah and reciting only Baruch She'amar, ashrei, and yishtabah, he should do so.
If one hears thunder or sees a rainbow in the middle of Pesukei De'zimrah, he should immediately interrupt and recite the appropriate berachah, even if he is in the middle of a chapter. This applies even if one is in the middle of shema or its berachot; he may interrupt his recitation in order to recite the appropriate berachah over the thunder or the rainbow. If one has yet to put on his tallit or placed tefillin, as he had to wait for them to arrive, and they were brought to him while he was in the middle of Pesukei De'zimrah, then he should interrupt in between paragraphs and put on his tallit and tefillin with their berachot. If, however, one has completed Pesukei De'zimrah but has yet to recite yishtabah, he should first recite yishtabah and only then put on his tallit and tefillin with the berachot, before proceeding to the berachah of "yosser or."
The Ant-Eating Monkey
Do you know what is the chimpanzee's favorite food? No, it's not bananas, but ants! In certain periods of the year, when these insects multiply at a particularly fast pace, they leave their nests in droves, at which point the chimpanzee has easy access to them to satiate its appetite. When it discovers an underground nest of ants, it smells and searches around in the area until it finds an entrance. This entrance is usually covered with a piece of thin earth, which the chimpanzee easily removes. It then takes a piece of straw or dry grass and carefully pushes it inside the nest's opening. The ant grabs onto the straw and hangs on it, and the chimpanzee then pulls its makeshift "fishing rod" outside. Its meal is then ready. This strategy is the closest to that employed by human beings - the development of instruments as means to achieve a certain goal. This in effect proves that the monkey is the most intelligent among animals. When a chimpanzee looks for food with its friends, they wander about in fast-paced jumps from one tree to the next. While doing this, they make various types of strange sounds, wails and shrieks, or they bang on the tree barks as if playing the drums.
The chimpanzee is known as a very good imitator. But its imitation is not accompanied by any thought or emotion; it is purely mechanical by nature. Therefore, a person who does something without thinking first is said to have acted like a monkey. It is important for us to remember, however, that not every imitation is necessarily negative. Sometimes, imitating can be very positive and should be encouraged, such as imitating a person with good middot. An attempt to imitate his conduct will hopefully improve one's own character; these attempts at imitating will gradually become second-nature and the personality will thus improve. This is why we must set a positive example for children, as this will help them in their own lives and certainly impact upon even their own children. The most important imitation that a Jew must undertake is the imitation of the Al-mighty, as Hazal taught us, to follow His example of compassion and kindness towards others.
The Sin and Its Punishment (9)
Flashback: The souls of Berona and his wife, Hannah, awaited their judgment in the heavens. The heavenly prosecutor demanded that they be punished - Berona for accidentally killing his slave as he fled, and Hannah for remarrying on the basis of questionable evidence that her husband had died. Eliyahu Hanavi then rose to their defense.
Recall that during his years as a prominent merchant in Alexandria, Berona would always make a point of serving as sandak. He would generously pay for the expenses of the se'udat berit milah and support the family that invited him to be the sandak for their child. Hannah set a very high standard of the misvah of inviting guests, and nobody ever left her home hungry. Eliyahu Hanavi now stood before the heavenly tribunal and said to himself, "I attended over five hundred beritot where Berona served as sandak. His wife was also a remarkably kind woman. How could I see them punished now?" He began pleading Berona's case, arguing that he purchased the slave in the first place only in order to find out if he was Jewish and then set him free. If a different master had purchased him, how miserable would his life have been! By escaping, he repaid evil in exchange for kindness, and the pursuit after him had already begun. If he would have been caught, he would have been immediately executed. Berona ran after him to save him; he certainly had no intention of hurting him! He shot the arrow only to warn him; he killed him by accident. She, too, was not to blame for what she did. She did not know the complex guidelines and procedures. The Bet-Din issued its ruling, she waited over a year and her husband did not return. There was no sign at all that he might be alive. What could she have done? The judges discussed the situation and issued a ruling. They certainly cannot be viewed as intentional sinners, but they are not free of blame. Even a mistaken violation that resembles an "oness" (violation through circumstances beyond one's control) requires atonement.
Eliyahu was then allowed to choose their punishment - either one hour in Gehinnom, or their return to earth in a different life to correct that which they did wrong.
Eliyahu knew that one hour in Gehinnom is worse than seventy years of Iyyov's suffering in this world, so he chose for them the lesser of the two evils.
There was a man who lived in Yemen, a wealthy merchant who also studied Torah. He had no children and constantly prayed to Hashem to grant him a son whom he can teach Torah. The Al-mighty heard his cries and blessed with his a son, who received the soul of Berona. The father rejoiced in his son and named him Shaul Matanyah. "Shaul" means "request," referring to his having requested this boy from Hashem, and "Matanyah" means a "gift of G-d."
In the country of Tyre there lived a wealthy man who donated charity generously and kindly. He had ten sons, and his wife very much wanted a daughter. She made a promise that if Hashem would grant her a daughter, she would marry her off to a Torah scholar. Even if he is poor, she promised, she would support him honorably from her own money so that he could study Torah unencumbered. The Al-mighty heard her prayers and blessed her with a daughter, who received the soul of Hannah, Berona's wife. The woman gave birth to a daughter and named her Hannah, which comes from the word "hen," grace, referring to the fact that she had earned Hashem's grace and He heard her prayers.
From the day Shaul Matanyah was born, his father began downsizing his business enterprises in order to devote more time to learn with his son. Soon, the child become very knowledgeable. When Shaul Matanyah was eighteen years old, his father took ill and sensed that his end is near. He said to his son, "I have not had the privilege of bringing you under a hupah, and I am not leaving you much wealth. But I do have one piece of advice for you - always use four eyes."
The son wondered, what did his father mean by "four eyes"?
The father explained, "In addition to your two eyes, have Torah and kindness shine the light for your path. These two lights shall show you the way, and through them you will be successful."
Then he closed his eyes and passed away.
His son cried over his father and mourned him with great sorrow. After the mourning period ended, his mother told him, "From now on the burden of making a living falls on your shoulders. Take your father's money and go do some business."
To be continued
Senyar Bat Mazal and Yis'hak Shaul Ben Leah
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