Illuminations #92, Tishrei 5776, Parshat Ha’azinu

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Illuminations #92, Tishrei 5776, Parshat Ha’azinu

Torah Gems

The third passuk of our parshah reads: “When I call out the Name of Hashem, attribute greatness to our G-d” (32:3). There are differing opinions as to what greatness we are to assign to Hakadosh Baruch Hu. In one place, Chazal explain that upon hearing Barechu et Hashem Hamevorach, one should reply Baruch Hashem Hamevorach le’olam vaed (Sifrei). Elsewhere, Chazal elucidate that it refers to the Beit Hamikdash where the answer of every berachah was to be Baruch Sheim Kevod Malchuso le’olam vaed (Yoma 37a). The Rosh, in his teshuvot, writes that this is the source of our responding Baruch Hu uvaruch Shemo when hearing Hashem’s Name in every berachah. The Torah Temimah comments on this that he sees no justification as to why people are lax in saying Baruch Hu uvaruch Shemo, even though he has heard different reasons. We, who unfortunately have no Beit Hamikdash, try to answer amen after every berachah, wherever we are, and its power should not be underestimated. Chazal have revealed to us that when one answers amen with all of one’s strength, all the entryways to all the chambers of Gan Eden are opened up for us (Shabbat 119b). The Sabba of Kelm said: “It was worthwhile for Hakadosh Baruch Hu to create the world and keep it going for six thousand years so that a single Jew would say Baruch Hu uvaruch Shemo once!” Nevertheless, he continued, “one thousand Baruch Hu uvaruch Shemo’s do not equal the tremendous eminence of one amen, and a thousand times one amen does not reach the prominence of one amen, yehei Shmei Rabba.” Rav Chatzkel Levenstein said that it would be worth it for a person to come to the world and suffer for seventy years as Iyov did just to be able to answer amen once in the course of his lifetime! Citing the above Chazal, Rav Moshe Aharon Stern, zt”l, comments that although the Torah and mitzvot we do build the palace that awaits us in the next world, nevertheless, to get into Gan Eden and reach the palace, one needs an entrance card. What is the entrance card? As was stated above, if a person is careful to say amen as one should, this will open up the gateways for him to enter Gan Eden.

Parsha Pearls

“The Rock (Hashem)! Perfect is His work, for all His paths are justice; a God of faith without iniquity, righteous and upright is He” (32:4). Praising Hashem that He has no iniquity seems out of place; this would not be much of a compliment for anyone – this is the way it should be, not something commendable! The Yosef Lekach and Rav Yisrael Salanter explain that in earthly courts, if one transgressed the laws of the land, he is brought to court, sentenced and punished accordingly. It makes no difference to the judge if he has elderly parents who are supported by him, a wife and small children who need him, or friends who will be very much affected. He receives the punishment solely corresponding to his actions. Hashem, however, although “all His paths are justice,” and He is “a God of faith,” and this person indeed deserves retribution, nonetheless, Hashem also is “without iniquity.” Meaning, if this person would have a friend, relative or neighbor who is not deserving of the anguish that his punishment would cause, indeed, the deserved reckoning will not occur. Hashem has everything in mind, measured to a hair’s breadth. Rav Eliyah Lopian, zt”l, used to say, “It’s worthwhile to have a lot of friends. In this way, there will hopefully be at least one of them who is not deserving of the distress they would have if you are deserving of something, God forbid.”

Glimpses of Greatness

A talmid of the great Ramban was on his deathbed, and the Ramban came to visit him. The Ramban requested from his talmid help in answering questions concerning pressing issues with Klal Yisrael. “I will give you a kemei’a (a type of amulet with kabbalistic words written on it) that will enable the gateways of the Heavenly chambers to be opened before you, until you reach the highest chamber where the Shechinah dwells. There you will be able to ask these vital questions I have regarding Klal Yisrael.” The Ramban then gave his student a written list of his questions. “And please, if you are able, appear to me in a dream and reveal the answers they give you.” His talmid indeed was niftar, and not long after, when the Ramban was studying Torah, the image of his talmid appeared to him and said, “You should know, my teacher, that every place I entered with the kemei’a, they opened the gates of the chamber and let me enter and ascend – one after another – until I came to the chamber you told me about. But when I was there, I immediately understood that the questions that my master and teacher gave me to present do not exist in the world of truth! Everything is done with perfection and justice!” (from Meam Loez, sefer Shoftim, p. 81)


Halacha Weekly

Q. If One Spoke Lashon Harah (Slander) About His Friend, How Should He Ask Forgiveness?

A. The Chafetz Chaim (4-12) writes if one speaks lashon harah (slander) about his fellow and his fellow does not know, then when he comes to request forgiveness from his fellow he would have to reveal to his fellow what was said about him. However, it is known in the name of the GR”Y Salant, Z”L, that if one speaks lashon harah about one’s fellow and his friend does not know anything at all about it, and if one is intending to ask forgiveness from his friend, he does not have to make known to his fellow that he has spoken lashon harah about him.  The reason is that if he now  speaks about what was said to him this way (in his presence), it will aggravate the situation  arousing his anger and increasing his suffering. 

Rather, he should request from him forgiveness in general terms.  Yalkut Yosef  (Yamim Noraim 606—17) in the name of R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Z”L, says that if he will dishonor his fellow if he speaks  to him words as they were actually spoken, and his fellow will object and it will arouse his anger, one has permission not to speak to him at all about it but rather to request from him forgiveness in general terms only.