Illuminations #89, Elul 5776, Parshat Ki Tavo

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Illuminations #89, Elul 5776, Parshat Ki Tavo

Torah Gems

The Torah warns: “Because you did not serve Hashem, your God, with happiness and goodness of the heart [terrible consequences will occur]” (Devarim 28:47). But if a person is making a great effort to do mitzvos, isn’t that the main thing? Why should there be such severe implications for a lack of joy in serving Hashem?

Imagine someone who already has a fine house taking on a project to build a second house. Since there is nothing compelling him to build the house, he will not put his full heart into its completion. Even worse, he won’t trouble himself to learn the various techniques and numerous details required for construction. He will proceed in a lackadaisical manner, and the ultimate result will be an unfinished eyesore.

Conversely, someone who needs shelter for his family will put his full energy and intelligence into the project. He is so motivated to get a roof over his head that he will not even feel the massive and intense effort that he is making. In little time, a new house will be built for his family.

Likewise, if a person does not impress upon himself the bounty of blessings that will be showered upon him for each mitzvah that he performs, he will undertake divine service with a halfhearted attitude. His lack of awareness of the pleasantness of mitzvos will leave him with no desire to perform them. He will have to force himself to do mitzvos, begrudgingly, and even worse, he will neglect to attend to many of the important details of his obligation.

However, a person who appreciates  the beauty and pleasantness of the mitzvos, both in this world and in the World to Come, approaches divine service with love and happiness. He is so impassioned to perform mitzvos and study Torah that he doesn’t even sense the effort that he is putting in. He will give his best to Hashem, and in turn he knows Hashem will bless him with the greatest delights.

May the sublime pleasantness of Torah and mitzvos always shine within our souls!

Parsha Pearls

Hashem created the entire universe with the attribute of kindness, as King David declared, “The world was created with kindness” (Tehillim 89:3). All of the functions of the entire creation, the  air we breathe, the water we drink, the light and warmth of the sun, are founded upon and flow forth from God’s kindness.

The Talmud (Sanhedrin 37) teaches that all of the creations were created in great numbers, except for man.  Adam was created as the sole human in the universe. Hence, Hashem revealed that each individual person is so precious that Hashem created the whole world just for him or her.

And what is the purpose of human existence? The Torah teaches, “And you shall walk in His ways” (Devarim 28:9). The Talmud (Shabbos 133) explains: “Just as He is merciful, so should you be merciful. Just as he is kind, so should you be kind.” Hence, it is fitting for human beings to instill this precious attribute of kindness within their hearts. Just as “the kindness of Hashem is forever,” so, too, man should continuously aspire to benefit and bestow delights on all creations as much as he possibly can. Awareness of the endless, unbounded love of Hashem, Who bestows beauty and life upons us, is the greatest inspiration for us to walk in His ways.

Glimpses of Greatness

In 1918 fundraisers for the Slobodka Yeshiva approached a very wealthy person and asked him for a donation to their yeshiva. Refusing to give even a penny, the rich man rudely turned them away. A few weeks later, the man was arrested by the government although he had committed no wrong. Upon hearing of the arrest, Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, Rosh Yeshiva of the Slobodka Yeshiva, felt great sorrow and said, “It would have been better had I been arrested instead of him. I am used to living without luxuries, he isn’t.”


Halacha Weekly

Q. What is the law regarding fish in an aquarium on Shabbat?

A. Generally, it is prohibited to pet a domestic animal like a cat, dog or bird on Shabbat. It is also prohibited to carry them because they are muktzeh (designated for forbidden forms of work on Shabbat). An aquarium has fish it, and it has water. What is the law regarding the fish and the water? It is prohibited to change the water of an aquarium on Shabbat. However, if it is necessary to add water every day, then it is permitted to add water on Shabbat as well. This law is similar for Yom Tov.

However, it is prohibited to carry the fish themselves because they are muktzeh (designated for forbidden work on Shabbat). However, it is permitted to carry the aquarium with the fish in it (Ktzot Hashulchan 121), for it is like a vessel whose use is permitted since it is made only for the sake of its decorative appearance and as an ornament for the home. Rav Ovadia Yosef, Z”L, in Yabea Omer ( 5-27), however, makes no distinction that it is forbidden to carry them in any form whatsoever.  Az Nidbaru, however, holds that in a situation of great need it is permitted.

 This week’s Illuminations is sponsored in honor of Kollel NH for their dedication and commitment to our community.

by Jacques and Amy Elfersy