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Parashat Re'eh


This week's perasha commands us that should a false prophet approach us and try to convince us to worship idols, Heaven forbid, then, even if he makes the sun stand in the sky and perform all types of wonderous, supernatural miracles; "Do not listen to him, for Hashem your G-d is testing you." We face many tests; some withstand them heroically, others fail. On what does this depend? The "Saba" of Nevarduk zs"l explains this based on the following, true story:

A sly group of fraudulent criminals operated in Warsaw and devised a sophisticated plan to cheat their victims. Their agents approached a person with an offer he could not refuse. They owned an advanced printing-machine that prints counterfeit money. They would sell him two hundred thousand fraudulent bills in exchange for only sixty thousand real bills. Understandably, the man hesitated. They continued, "Here is the fake money. Take three bills and bring them to the bank to ask for change. See if even the experts in the bank will notice the difference." The man agreed. He innocently brought them to the bank and approached the banker. He had an elaborate excuse ready in case the fraud was detected (Someone bought something from him and paid him with these three bills; he had no idea that they were counterfeit). The man at the bank took the bills, looked at them carefully, and warmly gave him change. The man saw that the fake bills were not noticed, and agreed to the deal. He withdrew all his savings and even borrowed money to pay the sixty thousand for the two hundred thousand fake bills.

The group was thrilled, and they brought him the money in two suitcases.But the man wasn't going to fall into the trap - he suspected that maybe initially they gave him three real bills, and these are the fake bills. He opened one suitcase, took out three bills, and exchanged them in the bank. Now he was confident that the fake money worked. He gave them the due sixty thousand dollars and sat down to count his new treasure - two hundred thousand nice, new bills. He just made the deal of his life - he made one hundred and forty thousand with no effort whatsoever, in a single moment! He took the two suitcases, proudly and happily walked through the streets.

Suddenly, a policeman stopped him. "Hi, what are you carrying there?"

"Money," answered the man, frightened.

"Money? Open up and let me see!"

At the officer's request, he placed both suitcases on the ground and opened them. The officer saw the huge stacks of bills and gasped. "What is this?These are counterfeit bills! You're under arrest! Come with me to the station!"

The man trembled, realizing the trouble that he now faced. Before the policeman could stand up, the man took off and ran. By the time the officer could lock the suitcase and stand up, the man had disappeared. The officer stood there with two heavy suitcases, unable to run. The man lost his money, but consoled himself with the knowledge that he salvaged his freedom.In an instant he had become wealthy, and at the next moment he was impoverished.

The policeman, meanwhile, picked up the two suitcases and went to the base of the counterfeiters. He belonged to the group, who just made sixty thousand official bills. The thieves divided up their money among themselves and proceeded to their next victim.

So, what was the secret? How did the people at the bank not notice that the bills were fake? Very simple: the bills weren't fake; they were real! The tricksters fooled people with real, authentic bills. The question is, though, once the victim saw that the bankers confirmed the authenticity of the bills, why did he run away from the police? Why didn't he just insist that they were real, and go ahead and prove his innocence? The answer is clear - he himself had his doubts, he was not convinced. Therefore, he fled.

This is the answer to our opening question. Someone who knows confidently that his beliefs are true, who is assured and secure in his faith, will not stumble when faced with a test. He will stand strong and firm, his faith will emerge unscathed from the furnace of tests and trials. Only one whose faith is shaky from the outset will flee when confronted by trials.


One pasuk states, "Indeed, there will be no poor among you," while another pasuk posits, "For there will never cease to be needy in your land." When Benei Yisrael follow the will of Hashem, then there are no poor among them; when they do not obey the will of Hashem, "there will never cease to be needy in your land," Heaven forbid.

Anyone could easily figure out whether or not Benei Yisrael are following Hashem's will today. The answer is clear from simply looking around at what transpires. Baruch Hashem, we have few poor people in the strict sense. We do, however, have many poor people in the broad sense of the term. Rashi explains the term used in the pasuk - "evyon" - as "[one who] longs for everything."

This is the plague of our generation, this is its curse. All the television and radio stations, the entire institution of the media, are united in one goal: that we will yearn and long for everything, that we feel a sense of poverty and lacking if we have yet to purchase a new car, a new refrigerator, if we haven't yet built our dream house, if we have yet to experience and enjoy this, that or the other thing. They implant within us a feeling of self-pity and shortage if we don't display wantonness and join the race for wealth, a race that never ends and offers no respite, a marathon that leaves us all paupers. We are just longing for more and more, frustrated and disappointed. Indeed, we have plenty of "evyonim" in our generation.

The Deserted Woman of Jerusalem

a continuing saga (part seven)

Flashback: Rabbi Aryeh Leib Salant met in Germany Baruch Mordechai, who had deserted his wife, Mereishah. After being chastised for abandoning his suffering wife, Baruch Mordechai gave Rabbi Aryeh Leib a large sum of money for her and promised that he will be back in time for his son's bar-missvah. The deserted woman and her son anxiously awaited the man's return, together with their neighbors and friends. The celebration of the bar-missvah passed with no word from or about the husband.

One cannot describe the intense disappointment, the anguish and sense of having been double-crossed. All the neighbors and friends shared in the frustration and distress of the deserted woman.

At the request of his son, Rabbi Aryeh Leib, Rabbi Shemuel Salant, the rabbi of Jerusalem, wrote a letter to the rabbi of Frankfurt asking about the husband's whereabouts. The reply came after several weeks of tense anticipation: the man had disappeared several months earlier, leaving behind several heavy debts. He told one of his debtors that he was planning to continue on to France.v Rabbi Shemuel sighed in distress after reading the painful news. Evidently, the man is continuing to take advantage of and cheat others. He sent a letter to the deserted wife, with a sense of helplessness and sympathy. Mereishah had already used up all the money her husband had sent and continued living a life of destitution, barely supporting the family with the few coins she earned at her vegetable stand in the marketplace. The time for the lease was approaching, and she would have to either renew her rent or vacate. With the money her husband had sent she paid last year's rent, and now the Arab landlord was pressuring her to pay rent on time. If not, she will be evacuated.

Where would she go? What will she do with her children? Out of despair and hopelessness, she turned to Rabbi Shelomoh Zalman Parush, the founder of the general charity fund, to receive a loan to pay her rent. No. She could not find anyone to sign as guarantors, she had nothing to give as collateral. She could also not overlook the painful reality - she had no way of ensuring that she would be able to pay back the money. She tearfully told the story of her tragedy, of the ray of hope that faded and the bitter disappointment she had gone through.

Rabbi Shelomoh Zalman heard her cries, collected the papers from his desk and put them into a drawer. He temporarily closed the office. "Please, come with me," he said. "Only the rabbi from Brisk can help." The rabbi of Brisk, the "Saraf"! She trembled at the thought. She had never gathered the strength to come before him, she never thought she would ever have the opportunity to stand in his presence. Who can stand before an angel? "I can't," she wispered.

"I will speak on your behalf," he assured. "You can wait at the door, look on and listen."

He got up and left, and Mereishah timidly followed behind be continued...

The Golden Column

Rabbi Nissim Bitan zs"l

One of the signs indicating that a given generation is the generation on the brink of the coming of the Mashiah is the ability for any simple person to challenge the authority of the G-d-given Torah and its eternal commandments. Anyone can come along and write headlines to scorn and mock all that is sacred. One of the defining characteristics of the "hester panim" (lack of revealed Providence) of our time is that the Al-mighty patiently tolerates the attacks against the Torah and withholds His anger for the time being. Once, the Attribute of Justice would react instantly. Rabbi David Edan zs"l, in his work "Maskil Ledavid" (vol. 2, 43), records an amazing incident that he heard from the person to whom this event occurred. The man's father died, leaving an apartment as inheritance to his two sons. They came before Rav Nissim Bitan zs"l to oversee the division of the inheritance. He said, "Whichever of you offers the higher price will give his brother half of that amount and take the apartment."The one telling the story, Kila Hadad, said to the rabbi, "My brother knows that I am very poor and could offer any price, no matter how small!"

The rabbi answered, "If he does not offer a reasonable amount, then I will put the apartment up for sale."

Kila pleaded, "But I want the apartment, not money. Money can be wasted; an apartment stays right where it is."

The rabbi answered, "This is the halacha - either you pay half price, or you take half price."

Kila cried bitterly, "The halacha is oppressing the poor, and the rabbi is assisting this corrupt system!"

The rabbi said to his servant, Yossef, "Please call Sa'id, the messenger of the Bet Din, and have him announce that this brazen, audacious man must be publicly reprimanded for scorning the authority of the court!" Just as he was finishing his sentence, Kila fell to the ground, dead. Yossef said to the rabbi, "There is no need for the public reproach; he died in his sin." The rabbi cried in terror, "What are you talking about!" He ran to Kila, who was lying on the ground, and placed his hand on his head. Kila opened his eyes, regained his composure, and stood up. Yossef escorted him home, and on the way he asked, "Tell me, what did you feel?"

He said, "I lost my consciousness and I heard in a dream the pronouncement, 'He died!' When the rabbi placed his hand on my head, I felt my head become very heavy and my soul was restored." All this Kila himself told to Rabbi David Edan!

From the Wellsprings of the Parasha

"See, I place before you today a blessing and a curse"

The Or Hahayyim zs"l questions the pasuk's use of the word "Re'eih," see, in this context, as well as the unusual term "anochi" employed for the word "I," rather than the more common word, "ani." He explains that generally, when a saintly, sacred ssadik who withdraws from the pleasures of this world calls on his constituents to dedicate themselves to spirituality, they may say, what does he know from the pleasures of this world, and what concept can he possibly have of the enjoyment the world offers? But Moshe tells Benei Yisrael, see, 'anochi' - understand that I grew up in Pharaoh's home, and to this day I am wealthy and enjoy leadership and prestige. Nevertheless, I urge you not to be drawn after the vanities of the world, and rather take for yourselves the eternal beracha of the fulfillment of Torah and missvot, the pleasantness of spirituality.


The Abarbanel zs"l explains that this pasuk illustrates the power of missvot. Although we know that missvot constitute light and blessing whereas sins are darkness, it never occurs to us that a person who neglects a missvah brings a curse upon himself. Similarly, if he just avoids committing a sin, he brings a blessing upon himself. Moshe here reveals to us that every missvah contains a blessing for its performance, and each sin offers a blessing for its avoidance; similarly, each sin has a curse associated with its committal, and a blessing for its avoidance.


Rabbi Hayyim Kafusi zs"l, in his work, "B'Or Hahayyim," explains why the pasuk opens in the singular form - "r'eih" (see) - but then switches to the plural form - "lifneichem" (before you). The Gemara (Kiddushin 40b) says that a person should always imagine to himself that the merits and demerits of the entire world are exactly equal. Thus, should he do a single missvah, he has tipped the scales in the world's favor; a single sin, though, will disrupt the balance in the opposite direction, Heaven forbid. Therefore, Moshe says, "R'eih," see, to each individual, urging each person to recognize that the entire world may be dependent upon his actions.


The Alshich zs"l explains that sometimes an employer will have his workers perform a certain task, and one worker will be lax in his responsibilities and not carry out his duty. If the boss sees that the job has been effectively completed despite the negligence of one employee, he will ignore the inappropriate response of that individual. Here, though, Moshe warns, "I place before you today," with the plural form "lifneichem," implying that the job is charged upon the nation as a whole. Yet, he opens the pasuk, "r'eih" - see - in the singular form, indicating that each and every individual will ultimately be held responsible for his actions, regardless of the performance of everyone else.


Rabbenu Hayyim Hakohen zs"l of Aram Soba explains that Moshe here is not promising blessing for performance of missvot or threatening a curse, G-d forbid, should sins be committed. Rather, he reminds them that blessing is latent within the missvot themselves, and curse is latent within the sins themselves. One who performs a missvah brings upon himself a beracha, while one who commits a sin brings upon himself the disastrous results thereof.

The Wonders of the Creator

The Secret of Growth

A newborn baby weighs about 1/25th of his weight when he finishes growing. As such, over then next fifteen to twenty years, each part of the body must grow and alter its form in a specific manner. The attainment of this goal is connected to a series of events that is designed in wondrous fashion and entails far more than mere addition to size. There are major differences in proportions between a baby and an adult. Take the size of the head, for example. The head comprises one quarter of the total size of a baby and only one eighth of the total size of an adult. Thus, the growth process affects not only size but also form. The hands, for example, grow in a very sophisticated manner, and don't simply develop at the same rate at all sides. Similarly, the composition of the human face demonstrates the ability the Al-mighty implanted within the human body to maintain proper form and balanced proportions throughout the various stages of life. A person's face will not change for seventy years or more in such a manner that it cannot be recognized. How does the body maintain proper form and size of the limbs throughout the life-cycle, even as they grow three-dimensionally?

Scientists have yet to arrive at a clear-cut answer. Undoubtedly, the growth process is one of the most wondrous features of creation. The inherent ability of the human body to grow in appropriate proportions constitutes a miracle that the most knowledgeable experts cannot figure out. At most, researchers can arrive at a thorough knowledge of the process itself. But as to why the process unfolds this way and not any other way - this they cannot discover. In this regard, everyone stands in awe and amazement before a slight, minuscule fraction of divine wisdom. It may be no exaggeration to say that just as one would never expect an animal to understand how human being's act, and at most they can learn to recognize the different reactions of people to their various modes of conduct, so too can a person never understand the wondrous ways or infinite wisdom of the Al-mighty. Everyone, therefore, must reach the inevitable conclusion that, despite his advanced intellect, despite all the knowledge he has attained and his superiority over all other creatures, there are things which he must confess remain beyond his comprehension. Therefore, when confronted by missvot which seem to elude human understanding and seem to have no rationale within the framework of human intelligence, a person can attribute the mystery only to the limits of his own wisdom. Just as one cannot fully understand the secret of growth, so too are there missvot in which are embedded secrets far beyond his intellectual capabilities.

Halacha Berurah

Halachic decisions according to Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
arranged in the order of the Shulchan Aruch
By Rav David Yossef shlit"a
Rosh Bet Midrash "Yehaveh Da'at"
Chapter 8: The Laws of Ssissit

If one puts on a tallit in his home and then another tallit in Bet Kenesset, in order to satisfy all views he should specifically have in mind that the beracha recited over the first tallit at home should not fulfill the requirement vis-a-vis the second tallit, to be worn in Bet Kenesset. Thus, he must recite a second beracha when putting on the tallit in Bet Kenesset according to all authorities.

One who removes his tallit and has in mind to put it back on, if the time period involved is less than a half-hour, then he needs not recite a new beracha when putting the tallit back on. Even if he used the restroom in the interim, a new beracha is not required. But if he waited for a half-hour or longer, then he must recite a new beracha when he puts the tallit back.

If he removed his tallit with no particular intention to wear it again or not, then if he puts it back on within a half-hour he does not recite a new beracha. This applies even if he had removed the tallit katan, as well, and even if this occurred sometime other than tefilah. Certainly if this happened during the tefilah, he does not require a new beracha. If, however, he put the tallit back on only after a half-hour or later, then he must recite a new beracha even if he had intended to wear it again at the time he took it off.

However, if one removes his tallit with the specific intention that he will not put it back on, then if he decides to wear it again he must recite a new beracha, even if he put it back on immediately after taking it off.

Similarly, if one folded his tallit and placed it in its bag, this action is tantamount to specific intention not to put it back on, and a new beracha is required in the event he decides to wear it again, even immediately thereafter.

One who takes off his tallit in order to wear a different tallit, and then decides to put back on the original tallit, must recite a new beracha when putting back the tallit, even if he puts it back on immediately after having taken it off.

One who takes off his tallit and puts on another must recite a beracha on the second tallit, even if he had intended to put on the second tallit when he removed the first. Similarly, if one removes his tallit katan and puts on another that is of a measurement that requires a beracha (see Halacha Berurah, 16, regarding this measurement), he must recite a beracha on the second tallit katan.

One whose tallit falls off of him completely and then puts it back on does not recite a new beracha, since its requirement is in doubt, and a beracha in never recited when its requirement is uncertain. Certainly if it did not fall off completely, a new beracha is not recited when it is returned to the body. Similarly, if the tallit falls from one's hands after he recited the beracha but before he could put it on, he does not recite a new beracha when he picks the tallit from the ground to put it on.

There is a difference of opinions among the authorities whether or not one recites a beracha in the morning over his tallit if he slept with it throughout the night. The Shulhan Aruch rules that a beracha is required, but since we never recite a beracha whose requirement is in question, even when the Shulhan Aruch does require the beracha, one should not recite a beracha in this situation, even if he has no intention of wearing another tallit thereafter.

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