Illuminations #129, Elul 5777, Parshat Nitzavim – Vayeilech

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Illuminations #129, Elul 5777, Parshat Nitzavim – Vayeilech

Torah Gems

“See I have placed before you the life and the good and the death and the evil.” What is life and how do we get it? It is known that a person with real simcha, true inner happiness, is the one with a good life. The Mishna in Pirkei Avos says, “Hakinaah, Taava, ViHakavod, Motzein Es HaAdom Min HaOlam. Jealousy, Desire and Honor remove a person from this world.” Many people are unhappy. Unhappy refers to true internal happiness. We find ourselves in a state of happiness and fool ourselves into believing we are really happy, but we are not truly happy. The reason for this superficiality is because of these three traits referred to above. We all have some Kinaah,  jealousy, within us. It may be that our neighbor has a better job or our friend has a nicer car. The same applies to Ta’ava, desire.  People feel a strong pull towards technology. They constantly need to know what is going on.  Kavod, honor, too. We want to be considered the most successful in a specific area and if not we feel low.

Rabbi Yitzchak Berkowitz, a noted Rav in Yerushalayim, explains that true, internal happiness comes from working hard for the purpose of serving Hashem. There is no better feeling than when one exercises self control  or does something he knows is right even when it is hard for him. The inner simcha a person feels when he pushes himself to learn Torah and do Mitzvos is so much greater than all the superficial happiness that the world has to offer. With this idea in mind we can understand that when the Torah tells us to “Choose Life,” we understand what is wanted from us – TRUE LIFE!

Parsha Pearls

The Pasuk says, “Rather it is very near to you in your mouth and in your heart to perform it.” Usually, we first desire in our heart and then we do it with our mouth. So why is the mouth mentioned first? Shouldn’t it be written the other way around?  Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Levenson, son-in-law of the Chafetz Chaim, explains that the Torah switched the order because even if your heart desires something, your mouth can overcome it.  For example,  after mincha and a long day of work, the yetzer tells you that you are too tired to stay and learn. The Torah tells you  the antidote. Just start learning with your mouth for a few minutes even though you don’t want to, and your heart will follow. It is for this reason that the Torah switched the order.

Glimpses of Greatness

Before Rabbi Moshe Feinstein married, he served as the Rav of the town Uzda, Russia. A woman used to prepare meals for him. Once, when Rav Moshe’s sister was visiting, she tasted one of these meals and realized that it was inedible, so she discreetly removed it from the plate. When Rav Moshe ate the meal, however, he ate all of it and asked for seconds. We see his incredible middos! Not only did he not want to make her feel bad, but he tried to make her feel good, too!

Halacha Weekly

Why Is It Permitted To Pay Someone to Blow Shofar on Rosh Hashanah?    (1-69)

Shulchan Aruch (Orech Chaim 65) writes one that one who receives pay for blowing shofar on Rosh Hashanah, or in order to pray, or to translate (the Torah reading ) on Shabbat and Yom Tov will not see from that pay any good sign [of blessing]. The Magen Avraham (R. Avraham Abele Gombiner Z”L) writes there (100-12) that our Rabbis say there is no prohibition in it , since it is for the sake of a mitzvah. Similarly, the Bach writes (Orech Chaim 306) in explanation of the Shulchan Aruch (Orech Chaim 306-65) and rules it is prohibited to hire chazanim to pray on Shabbat, but there are those who permit it. Ramah writes if one hires for a year or for a month according to all opinions it is permitted.

Yaskil Avdi (R. Ovadia Hedaya Z”L,7 Orech Chaim 19) writes one should not permit it except if it is through havlaah(Absorption of time spent in preparation on weekdays for the mitzvah on Shabbat or Yom Tov). Similarly writes Aruch Hashulchan (R. Yechiel Michel Epstein Z”L,306-12), that we  can learn out a merit [a reason why it is permissible] for chazanim who  receive pay for leading tefilah on Shabbatot [and Yom Tovim]. He says it is possible to consider it as a sachar batalah[payment for being idle during the weekday from one’s occupation],  that they are preparing [for it] during the weekdays. Likewise, Shemirat Shabbat Kehalchata (R. YeshuahYeshaya Neuwirth Z”L, 739 , 29-66)  writes that it is better to do this with an havlaah (absorption of time spent during weekdays).