Hear and Your Soul Shall Live
Insights on life from the weekly Parsha.

By: Rav Moshe Weber, Shlita, Editor: Rabbi I. Ido Weber Erlich, Shlita
Eng. Translation: Emanuel Behar, Ari Chester

Portions of the following are included in the collection of tapes: "Shemu ViTachi Nafshechem". To obtain them, call: 02-828284, or e-mail: weber@shemayisrael.co.il

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vol 36.


While one is eating, it is a mitzvah to:
A. recite words of Torah.
B. give food to the poor
C. not eat in gluttony
D. recite grace after meals with a cup of wine.

One is commanded to fulfill four directives during a meal:

A: to recite words of Torah.

B. to give to the poor that of which he himself partakes. (If he does not have a poor person taking part in his meal, he may give cash value of the meal to Tzaddakah.)

C: not to eat in a gluttonous manner.

D: to joyously recite grace with a cup of wine, hence causing the Shechina to remain upon his head.

The Source in the Parsha: "You shall eat there before Hashem, your G-d, and you shall rejoice" (12:7). The Holy Zohar elucidates on this verse that in the beginning, when our holy Temple stood we would eat and rejoice before the Holy One blessed be He, but now, how is it possible to do so?

When one partakes of a meal and blesses Hamotzi the Shechinah manifests Her Presence before him. Accordingly one needs to recite words of Torah at the table consummating the verse "This is the table that is before the Lord" (Ezekiel 41:22) and similarly the verse "You shall eat there before Hashem, your G-d" (12:7).

Since at this time one stands before his Master, he needs to pity the poor and give him that of which he himself partakes.

One is forbidden to be a glutton and to eat in such a manner like Esav who said, "Give me a swallow of that red stuff!" (Gen 25:29) upon which it is written "The bellies of the wicked are deficient." Therefore one must fulfill the verse "You shall eat there before Hashem, your G-d and you shall rejoice" only before Hashem and no other. It is forbidden to speak anything other than Torah and words pertaining to the needs of the meal, thus fulfilling "You shall eat there before Hashem, your G-d, and you shall rejoice" with a cup of wine. Likewise he should rejoice and show joy, and consequently the Shechina will remain above his head.....(The Shlah.)

"When He has granted you safety from all your enemies around you, and you live in security" (11:10).

In the city of Baghdad lived an affluent, charitable Jew, Reb Yisroel. In fact, he served as the Minister of Finances for the governor. Reb Yisroel generously supported the sacred, venerated Kaballist of Jerusalem, Raphael Avraham Sherabbi, of blessed memory, grandson of the Rashash. The governor of Baghdad trusted Reb Yisroel, entrusting tremendous responsibility into his hands.

Scornful and envious, the other ministers, unlike the governor, despised Reb Yisroel, slandering him whenever possible. "He is plundering government funds, squandering the money of our people," they would claim. Their envy grew and grew, until they paid off witnesses to falsely testify against Reb Yisroel, attesting to his, "surreptitious pillaging of government funds."

"I have little choice," decided the governor, "but to bring the Jew to trial." The malicious ministers, zealous to witness the downfall of their rival, bribed the Judges, fixing the verdict even before the trial began! "We hereby deem Reb Yisroel - guilty. So, being thus culpable, guilty of breaching his loyalty to the governorship, having betrayed the ideals of his duty and position, Reb Yisroel has the option - of denying his faith in One God, and abandoning the faith of his fathers; or we will confiscate his property, and ascertain further measures of rebuke, in accordance with his wickedness..."

The court guards suddenly surrounded Reb Yisroel, binding him in chains. They threw him in a damp cell, and slammed the steel door shut. Reb Yisroel's wife, helpless and confused, wondered, "What now? Where shall I go for help?" Pondering the situation, crying from anguish, she finally remembered the holy Rabbi, Raphael Avraham, the Kaballist from Jerusalem. Without fail, she sent a messenger to the holy Kaballist, notifying him of her husband's dilemma, pleading for assistance.

Upon hearing the unfortunate news, Raphael Avraham traveled to Baghdad with two students. "We have arrived, my students. This is the house," he said. They opened the door, only to find an empty house with Reb Yisroel's wife, sobbing hysterically, frantically hugging her children. "The news... the news," she struggled to say, choking, "the news has gotten worse. In three days... three days... they will --chop off his..." That is, the courts decided that only execution would absolve Reb Yisroel of his treacherous betrayal of the State.

Raphael Avraham comforted her, assuring, "Please, have no fear. Tomorrow, the governor himself will release your husband, innocent, free from all guilt." Though doubtful, his assurance brought her relief. She prepared a room for them to sleep in, yet they didn't sleep. Despite their tiresome journey, Raphael Avraham and his students remained awake, engaging in Torah, the revealed and the hidden.

With the dawn of the sun, Reb Yisroel's wife knocked on the door. Trembling, she said, "Last night, two guards of the governor himself came. They asked if visitors from Jerusalem were here. I was so petrified, and admitted your presence. Then, they left. I fear for you. Trouble looms in the near future, I daresay." Raphael Avraham displayed no signs of concern whatsoever. He continued to engage in the holy Torah with his students, as if nothing had occurred.

After an hour or so, Reb Yisroel's wife heard a carriage enter the courtyard. She looked out the window, and saw the governor's guards... Brazenly, they entered the house, boldly demanding, "We have come for the visitors from Jerusalem." Distraught, she pointed to their room.

The guards opened the door, yet Raphael and his students did not so much as acknowledge their presence. "You are the wise men from Jerusalem?" the guards demanded. Raphael Avraham lifted his head, and nodded, as though indifferent. "You will come with us, please, to see the governor." Raphael Avraham did not respond, at first. After a few moments of silence, he shut his book, kissed it, and rose. "Certainly, we shall come and pay our respects to the governor," the holy Rabbi said, politely.

The carriage sped through the city, through alleys and streets, markets and gates. At the palace, the guards led Raphael Avraham and his students through an intricate maze of corridors and halls, past gates and guards, until they reached the governor's quarters. They heard dissonant whining, horrific weeping, such devastating agony; the weeping echoed in their ears. As they entered the governor's room, they realized the source -- the governor himself, for anyone who saw him rolling, shaking, squirming like a worm, could but wonder what gruesome sickness slowly and painfully devoured him.

The governor gasped upon seeing Raphael Avraham and his two students. He called to the guards, crying, "Protect me, protect me! It was them, they did it!" Terrified, heshuddered violently, convulsing. He addressed the holy Rabbi, with awe and reserve, "You came here, last night. You had whips, all of you. You tortured me! You did this to me, brutalizing me from head to toe, without mercy. Who are you? Why? Why did you do this to me? How did you get here, past the guards, through the gates? Please, explain yourselves, I beg you."

"I am Raphael Avraham Sherabbi, from Jerusalem. These are my two students. We come concerning Reb Yisroel, former minister of finance, an upright individual of unquestionable virtue. We heard that he is imprisoned. We heard that the courts pressured him to convert. Also, we heard that the courts intend his execution. Were the accusations against the honorable Reb Yisroel true, would harm have befallen you, governor?"

The governor, his suffering waning, clearly understood. He instantly ordered the release of Reb Yisroel and return of his property. He apologized to the holy Rabbi, Raphael Avraham, and promised to investigate the matter thoroughly. Finally, the governor personally supervised the travel arrangements of Raphael Avraham and his two students, so they would return to Jerusalem in luxury and comfort.

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