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Mosheh Rabbeinu, Yehoshua, and Us
In order to avoid any confusion, this essay does not deal with politics. After this introduction, we can address the important things. How much effort do you think it would take to convince Shimon Peres to be appointed as prime minister? Who would we have to draft to convince him to accept the opinion of the party, and fulfill the will of the people, and accept the task? What a ridiculous question. The impression is that even if he were tired in iron chains, at the first hint of possibility he would lunge forward. Not only him. Who wouldn't want such a lofty job? Netanyahu, Mofaz, Sharon, Livnat. Who, except for me? Even if it were offered on a silver platter, my answer would be, "No, thanks. Are you crazy?!"
Why not? It is an explicit verse, "As lofty as the sky, as low as the earth, but there is no understanding the heart of kings" (Mishlei 25:3). The Gemara says, (Shabbat 11a), "If all the seas were ink, and all the reeds pens, and the heavens papers, and all men writers, it is not possible to write the depth of the heart of a ruler." Rashi explains that he must pay attention to economics, the military, legislation, and all this in one day! He has such responsibility on his shoulders, internal and foreign affairs, policy and security, economics and internal security. He has to put out fires, prevent conflict, and determine long term policy. He is the head of the secret service, and must hear all the state secrets that would make anyone lose sleep. Who needs this headache?! Just let me rest!
Why do I mention this? Because this weeks' parashah supports my approach. We recall how much Mosheh did not want to be appointed to the leadership of the nation. Mosheh only agreed after God had convinced him for seven days, and even became angry with him (Shemot 4:14). He agreed to accept the weight of the people, "as a nursemaid carries the nursing child" for forty years. Now, near the end of his life, he appoints his student, as Hashem said, "Take for you Yehoshua son of Nun." "Take", [convince him] using words, says Rashi. How happy you should be that you are worthy of leading the sons of God. "And Yehoshua took." He also "took," using words. He told him the reward that Israel's leaders will receive in the world to come. It seems that they do not gain much pleasure in this world. "Know that they are troublesome and objecting" (Rashi).
This is how Jewish leaders have always acted, and they understood why. King Shaul was reluctant to be appointed. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Perahiah, the chief of Israel, testified about himself: "Anybody who tells me, 'Rise to power', I will tie him up before a lion'" (Menahot 109b). When a great rabbi, the greatest of the Amoraim, went into his court he would say, "Of my own free will, I give myself over to death (due to the great responsibility). I do not earn anything here, and I will return to my house empty-handed. I hope that I do not lose" (Sanherdrin 7b).
It is well known how the great ones of the previous generation, zss"l, had to pressure, request, and convince our teacher, our light, the beauty of the generation, the master of Torah, and the pillar of education, the Rishon Lessiyon, Rabbeinu Ovadiah Yosef, may he be blessed with a long life, to accept the job as Rabbi of Tel Aviv. What connection does he have to that kind of power? His entire life revolved around Torah. He was a teacher and instructor, writing his books which shook the Torah world. Why should he take on other responsibilities, like kashrut, eruvin, divorce and marriage, and tens of classes? "All the issues in a town fall on the Torah scholar in the town" (Moed Katan 6a). When he accepted this job, he was totally dedicated. He worked day and night, without a break! It is also well known how much they had to pressure him to accept the job of chief rabbi, where he returned the crown of Oriental Jewry to its previous glory! How much he fled from honor, and how much honor chased him.
There is no doubt, honor is a compliment. So we wonder. If these jobs are so desirable, why did they have to apply such pressure? Because the great leaders understood the great responsibility. They knew that they will have to account for every action they do.
Certainly, this is a kal vahomer. If a simple shepherd has to account for each sheep, and have the dedication of Yaakov our father (Rambam, Hilchot Sechirut 13:7), a shepherd of souls, how much more so!?
Whey have we written all of this? Because the task which Mosheh Rabbeinu, Yehoshua, Kind Shaul, and Rabbi Yehoshua ben Perahiah accepted in Am Yisrael, is the same responsibility which every father of every family has. The same responsibility and more! Because the king cannot supervise each child in the whole nation, but the father must supervise each child in his family, particularly during summer vacation.
Why the Trip Was Cancelled
There is a true story that happened recently. Two people came to one of the ssadikim of the generation. They planned a trip, and wanted to ask for a blessing. They were asked three questions: First, about the food. No problem, they are taking food with the finest supervision. Second, about dedicating time for Torah study. No problem, they are taking Xeroxed pages, and will learn for an hour each day. Finally, about prayer with a minyan. No problem, they planned the trip such that they will say shaharit with a minyan before they continue their journey. "What about minhah?" asked the ssadik. They will say minhah alone. "If so, don't go!" This is a true story.
"The prayers parallel the korban tamid" (Berachot 26b). Shaharit parallels the morning tamid, and minhah parallels the afternoon tamid. "Rav Huna said, a person should always be cautious about minhah prayer, because Eliyahu was only answered (and had a fire descend from heaven) due to minhah" (Berachot 6b). Just as it is unthinkable to cancel the korban tamid, God forbid, so too it is unthinkable to cancel the minhah prayer. Just as the korban minhah is a public sacrifice, so too minhah should be recited in public. This is true even when you are planning a trip, even during vacation.
Our Teacher, the Rashba, zss"l
The Rashba is our teacher, Shlomo ben Aderet, zss"l. He was born in Barcelona in Spain at the beginning of the current millennium, by our count (1240, according the count of the nations), and learned from three shepherds: our teacher, the Ramban; Rabbeinu Yonah the Hassid; and our teacher, Yisshak son of Rabbi Avraham, zss"l. He led the large yeshiva in his city, and was the head of the beit din. During his life, his name became world famous, and he was asked questions from all corners of the earth. There had not been such a halachic authority since the days of the Geonim. People turned to him from France, Germany, Spain, Egypt, the Land of Israel, and Babylonia. We have over 3000 responsa of his, which touch on all areas of Torah: halachah, aggadah, homily, casuistry. He knew about everything!
He also wrote novelae, which we have on almost all the tractates in the Talmud. His comments on aggadah are included in the Ein Ya'akov. His book, Torat Habayit addresses issues of mixed permitted and prohibited foods. His Mishmeret Habayit defends the former book from the comments of the Ra'ah (Rabbeinu Aharon Halevi of Barcelona, zss"l). Beit Nashim deals with questions of marriage and purity, and Avodat Hakodesh deals with eruvin and yom tov.
The words of Yedayah Habedoshi testify to the great honor and respect which the great ones of his great generation showed to him. He wrote a letter to the Rashba, in which he joined the ban which the Rashba placed on those who study philosophy before age twenty-five, at which point they will have filled themselves with Torah, will have well-formed opinions, and will not be led astray by the opinions of the philosophers. "Our great master, the holy and humble genius, the king's-crown of our religion, the beautiful adornment of our beautiful Torah, the father of Israel who comforts them with his kindness and help, wisdom and leadership. The angel of God, who is with us to teach justice and reveal the mysteries. The rider and cavalry of Israel when it goes to war, our Rabbi the light of Israel, the right hand with the strong hammer." These praises are only a drop in the sea in that letter. In the year 4070 (1310) he died, and his Torah is eyes for us.
"Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation."
The Rambam writes (Hilchot Melachim 2:6) that a king must have a humble heart inside of him, as it says, "My heart is empty inside me." He should not act in a vulgar way with Israel, as it says, "So that his heart shall not become haughty over his brothers." He should be kind and gentle with both big and small, should treat their possessions with respect, and should treat even the smallest person with honor. When he speaks to the entire community collectively, he should speak softly, as it says, "Hear me my brothers and my people." He should always act with great humility. We know of no one greater than Mosheh Rabbeinu, who said "What are we, that they shall complain against us?" He tolerated their troubles, difficulties, complaints, and anger, just as the nursemaid carries the nursing child. The verse speaks of him as a shepherd, when it says that he went, "to shepherd Ya'akov his people." The verse speaks explicitly about how a shepherd acts. "He shall gather the sheep in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead them."
Mosheh Rabbeinu referred to the Creator as "The God of all the spirits." Our teachers, Ibn Ezra and and Rabbeinu Bahya zss"l, explained that it means, since He knows the soul and character of each person, He knows who is worthy of being the nation's leader.
But the holy Or Hahayyim zss"l explains that there must be a mutual relationship between the leader and the people, a similarity though which the leader understands the soul of the people, and the people listen to their leader. That is what the verse means, "Who shall go before them, and will come before them." When they go and come, he will agree with them and join them. "When he takes them out and brings them in." When he goes, they follow in his footsteps. Mosheh Rabbeinu was this kind of leader. He was the root of the souls of Israel (Tikkunei Zohar, 69). This kind of leader makes requests on their behalf, and this characteristic of Mosheh extends in each generation and to each and every ssadik (Tikkunei Zohar 114a).
"A man over the congregation." The holy Alsheich, zss"l, explains that the soul of the leader must be high above the souls of his flock and congregation, so that he will be able to influence them, and have his influence affect them. Only God the spirit of all flesh knows whose soul is so high, who is this "man over the congregation," who is worthy of being the leader.
Rabbeinu Yisshak Aramah zss"l explains in his book, Akedat Yisshak (Sha'ar 84) that Mosheh Rabbeinu hinted here that the role of the leader is like the role of the spirit relative to flesh. The body without the spirit of life is not only not alive and immobile, but rots and becomes disgusting. When the body has a spirit of life it is not only alive, but each and every limb and organ works together, in unison and harmony. This is the way a leader influences the community. Without a leader, there is no spirit of life, and there is no activity, leading to rot and filth. The leader gives more than life. He makes each "limb" operate to the best of its ability in relation to the other members of the congregation.
Rabbeinu Yosef Hayyim zss"l cites in his derashot the words of Eliyahu Hanavi. "With too many captains, the ship sinks." Even if all are wise, understanding, and know the Torah, there must be one who manages things and decides. Therefore, even though seventy elders were appointed, and ministers of thousands, and nesi'im, all of them worthy, great, and proper, still they should choose "a man over the congregation," one leader, so that everyone will follow the shepherd.
According to the Order of the Shulchan Aruch, Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
By Rav David Yossef shlit"a
• Someone who is a regular shaliah ssibur and doubts if he mentioned rain eighteen days after Pesah, does not repeat, because he regularly says the shaliah ssubur's repetition, and the amount of prayers that he says in eighteen days is the same as a congregation says in thirty days.
• During the first day of Pesah, a person may say ninety times "mehayey metim atah rav lehoshia, morid hatal", parallel to the thirty days in which he would say "morid hatal," (i.e. three times a day for thirty days). If he then doubted if he had said "morid hatal," or had said "mashiv haruah", he does not repeat.
• The same is true of those Ashkenazic communities who don't say "morid hatal" during the summer. If during the eighth day of Shemini Atzeret he said "mehayey metim… mashiv haruah" ninety times, or if during the first day of Pesah he said "mehayey metim… mechalkel hayyim," and then doubted if he said things properly, he does not repeat.
• If he habituated his tongue only somewhat, and then a few days passed since the holiday, but in total he said "mehayey metim… morid hatal" ninety times - for example if one day he said it forty five times, and fifteen days passed since the first day of Pesah - and then he doubted if he said things properly, he does not repeat, because the total amount of times he said it properly was ninety.
• According to many recent authorities, the aforementioned laws refers specifically to ninety times, whether in reference to mentioning rain (even though in thirty days there are more than ninety prayers, because of the musaf prayer) or in reference to tal umatar (even though in thirty days there are fewer than ninety times, because on Shabbat and yom tov he doesn't request tal umatar). There are some who say that you should evaluate how many times you would say it in ninety days, such that as far as rain is concerned he would have to say it more than ninety times to habituate his tongue, and for tal umatar fewer would be enough. It is preferable, lechathilah, to follow the stringencies of both opinions.
The Tze Tze Fly (2)
Thirty years ago in the year 5734 (1974), the world declared war against this dangerous fly which spreads the sleeping disease throughout Africa. The United Nations sponsored a world conference in Rome, and they invested two billion dollars in the war against the poisonous fly.
Yes, a world went to war against a fly. Based on an understanding of the enemy, the battle was scheduled to take some forty years. In the first stage, infected areas would be sprayed with insecticides. In the second stage, they would grow different species of animals that are immune from the sleeping disease. They said they would, and they did. Airplanes spread poison over vast areas, and the scientists followed the results, which appeared quickly. The flies had developed immunity against the poison. Science, as is well known, does not give up. They used stronger and stronger insecticides, which only strengthened the defenses of the stubborn flies. The scientists decided to be no less stubborn than the flies. If the insecticides won't kill them, then they will diminish their food supply. The flies live by sucking the blood of animals. No problem. They destroyed herds and herds of wild animals, in order to starve the flies to death. They discovered that the flies found shelter from the blistering African sun in the shade of tress. They began uprooting vast forests, to deprive them of the shade. They forgot one thing. The flies have wings. If you deny them food in one place, it only pushes them to spread to other places… In the meantime, there was a midway evaluation of the vicious war: many animals were destroyed, many birds were poisoned, vast forests were destroyed, the ecosystem was left out of balance, and the fly was laughing at everyone.
"God uses everything as his messengers, even bees, even frogs, even mosquitoes" (Bereishit Rabbah 10:7).
From the book, "Great are the Deeds of G-d"
Summary: The son of a wealthy man from Kushta traveled to Alexandria in order to meet his father's trusted friend. He was received with love and honor, and was introduced to a young man, a wise and understanding teacher and friend. When it came time for the guest to return, the host asked him what gift he wanted to take with him. He answered, the friend who I met here… This was a difficult request, but the host agreed. The host only asked to tell his guest about the intense friendship between him and the young servant. He explained that he was once a wealthy merchant when his luck changed, and just before Pesah he had nothing in the house. His wife said, "How long will you sit idly?"
"I asked her," the merchant said, "'What should I do? I have nothing to sell.'"
She responded, "Here, take the sheets from our bed, and sell them for a little wheat for flour, and wine for the four cups.
I took the sheets and went to the market. I doubted if I could get enough to buy flour and wine. As I walked in the market, a man walked with a crying boy and said, "Who wants to buy him?" I looked and saw that he was Jewish. He was a young boy who had been captured by pirates who wanted to sell him. I felt terrible, but I did not have the money to save him. Deciding quickly, I turned to the man and said, "Look. I have these sheets. Will your people agree to sell him to me for them?" "I don't think they will agree," he said. I said, "Take them and ask them. I will wait for you to return." He took the sheets and dragged the boy after him. I had already prepared my heart for the possibility that he would not return, and I would be left with nothing. But, after about an hour he returned with the boy. "Take him. They agreed," he said. "He is weak, and incapable of work. But, what do I get as a finder's fee?" I told him that I have nothing, so he agreed not to take anything. I extended my hand to the boy, and spoke to him in the holy tongue. How his eyes sparkled, how his spirit returned!
I was very happy that the Creator had arranged for me to fulfill such a great and incomparable missvah as redeeming captives. But, "according to the effort is the reward," I imagined. What would my wife say when I return home empty handed? Not only will I not bring flour for massah and wine for the four cups, I will bring back another mouth to feed… I said to myself, whatever will be will be. Should I feel bad because of a missvah, and lose out on the reward? If I have no choice, I will turn to the community rabbi and sign up for charity.
I turned home, hand in hand with the boy. Suddenly, a man stopped me. He turned to me and said, "I have a request for you."
To be continued, G-d willing, next week…
A Summary of the Shiur Delivered on Mossa'ei Shabbat by Rav Ovadia Yossef shelit"a
1. You cannot make up a missed missvah. If you miss the time of a missvah, you can not do it at some other time instead. For example, if you do not eat an olive size piece of massah on the night of Pesah, you cannot make up for that by eating the massah the next morning. There is one exception to this rule: prayer.
2. Thus, someone who was forced to miss shaharit, says minhah twice: the first time for minhah and the second time to make up for the missed shaharit. But, if he thought that the first one was the make up and the second one was minhah, he did not fulfill the prayer for make up, and must make up shaharit again.
3. This law of making up prayer is only if he was forced to miss prayer or did so by accident. But if he deliberately missed a prayer, he cannot make it up. For example, if he was busy with something and did not want to be interrupted for prayer, he cannot make up the prayer that he missed.
4. You can only make up one prayer. For example, someone who was imprisoned in a filthy place, and was unable to pray for several days, can only make up the last prayer that he missed. But, he can make up these many prayers by saying "optional prayers." That is, he can volunteer to take extra prayers upon himself as a way of making up for the missed prayers. He should say, "If I am obligated to repeat all these prayers, then these prayers should fulfill that obligation. If I am not obligated, then these prayers should be optional prayers."
5. Someone who forgot to say "Ya'aleh Veyavo" on Rosh Hodesh, and remembered only after Rosh Hodesh, there are those who say that his original prayer did not count at all, and therefore he must make up that prayer, even though in the make up prayer he will not be able to say "Ya'aleh Veyavo." Others disagree, and say that since he will not say "Ya'aleh Veyavo" in the second prayer, it does not help.
6. Later rabbis say that one cannot say a voluntary prayer on Shabbat, just as one may not offer a voluntary sacrifice on Shabbat. Therefore, someone who due to a doubt would like to say a voluntary prayer on Shabbat cannot do so. Rather, he should tell the shaliah ssibur to have intention in his repetition of the prayer to include that person's voluntary make up prayer.
7. If, on Shabbat, someone accidentally recited a weekday prayer, but then hears from the shaliah ssibur the entire Shabbat prayer, and has intention of fulfilling the missvah of that prayer, he has fulfilled the requirement of that prayer, and need not make up the prayer.
8. We begin saying "mashiv haruah" in the second blessing of Musaf on the holiday of Shemini Asseret. We stop saying it at the Musaf prayer on the first day of Pesah. If he forgot, and continued to say "morid hatal" then before he said "baruch atah Hashem" of that blessing he should go back and change to "mashiv haruah". If he already finished the blessing, and began saying "atah kadosh" then he does not go back. This is true only for those customs that say "morid hatal" during the summer. Even if a mistake was made he mentioned at least "morid hatal". But, for those customs that do not say "morid hatal" in the summer, if he missed "mashiv haruah" he must go back and repeat even if he finished the blessing. Thus, someone who said minhah prior to Shabbat, but forgot to say "morid hatal," and remembered after Shabbat started, he can have intention to fulfill the missvah with the repetition of the shaliah ssibur.
The Lessons of the Tamid and the Musaf
Let us learn a paragraph from the Midrash. When God said, "Command the Sons of Israel, and say unto them, my offering of bread for my fire," Mosheh said, who can provide me with korbanot? Even if we sacrificed all of the animals of the forest on a pyre made of all the trees of Lebanon, it is not enough for Him. As it says, "Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor are its beasts enough for an offering" (Yeshayah 40:16). God said, I do not demand something commensurate with my power, but commensurate with your ability. "And you shall say to them, this is the sacrifice which you shall offer to God, perfect yearling sheep, two each day for a offering always." Not two at the same time, but "The first sheep you shall make in the morning, and the second sheep you shall make in the evening."
Our teacher, the Hafess Hayyim zss"l, learned from here that God does not demand more than a person can do. "Our prayers are parallel to the korban tamid." Open your day with shaharit, and in the evening each day say minhah and ma'ariv. Rabbi Yohanan did say, "If only a person could pray all day long," (Pesahim 54b). This is similar to David's testimony about himself, "As for me, my prayer" (Tehillim 109:4), that is, I pray to you always (Rashi). But this level is not required of every person.
Similarly in Torah study. Happy are those who are planted in the house of God, who flower in the courtyards of our Lord. Happy are those who fulfill "I dwell in the House of God all the days of my life, to view the pleasantness of God and to visit in his palace."
Still, we must establish set times for study in the morning and evening, in order to fulfill that which is said "One who leaves the synagogue and enters the beit midrash and is involved in Torah, is worthy to receive the face of the shechinah, as it says (Tehillim 84:8) 'He who appears before God in Zion'" (Berachot 64a). The Shulhan Aruch cites the law (155:1), and it is said in the Mishnah Berurah that today one need not change place [from the synagogue to the beit midrash], but rather arrange to learn regularly some Humash or mishanayot following prayers, whether a little or a lot, and become worthy of accepting the face of the shechinah!
These things are wonderful. Happy is the nation who is in this state, happy is the nation whose God is Hashem. But, with your permission, I will add one point. We are commanded to bring two sheep each and every day, but not at the same time. Rather we should bring one in the morning and one in the evening. This hints to learning Torah and praying at the beginning and end of each day.
But on the holy Shabbat we are commanded to add two other sheep, the korban musaf. These are brought at the same time. This shows you that on Shabbat you must dedicate yourselves more to spirituality. More time for prayer, as we generally do, and more time for Torah study. Not only reading the parashah, which we should listen to with honor and fear. But we should also fulfill the commandment of reading the parashah twice, and once with the Targum. We should study its commentaries, and we should study with our children. We should hear a derashah and a class. We should recall the words of the Ben Ish Hai zss"l, in the name of the Kabbalists, that an hour of Torah study on Shabbat is worth a thousand hours of learning during the week. Happy is the one who is worthy of this!
With the blessings of Shabbat Shalom,
Gamliel Ben Nizha and Yosef Ben Hanom
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