Illuminations #163, Sivan, 5778, Parshat Behaalotecha

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Illuminations #163, Sivan 5778, Parshat Behaalotecha

Torah Gems

Every morning we say in our tefilla, “Unite our hearts to love and fear Your name.” Rav Schwab writes that the combination of ahavas Hashem and yiras Hashem can be achieved only through learning Torah. Without learning Torah, any feelings of longing that a person may have for the Jewish way of life do not represent the love or fear of Hashem. Rather, they are mostly nostalgic sentiments. They have no real connection with Hashem. Such a connection can only be achieved through learning Torah. One cannot fear or love something that is only an idea. By learning Torah, we recognize the reality of Hashem and, consequently, can achieve both ahavas Hashem and yiras Hashem. Love and fear are really contradicting relationships. One either fears another or loves him. Love draws one to something and fear repels one from it. Therefore, in our tefillos we ask Hashem that in our relationship with Him, He allow us to have both sentiments.

Parsha Pearls

“The man, Moshe, was most humble, more so than any other person on the face of the earth” (12:3).

The Ramban explains that the Torah teaches us the virtue of Moshe Rabbeinu, that he was very humble and did not reply when he was insulted, and that is why Hashem was zealous on his behalf. 

According to this, the Chofetz Chaim writes in his sefer Shemiras Halashon: A person who is insulted and accepts the decree and does not reply to the one who insulted him, Hashem will raise his glory in this world and in the World to Come. 

Once the Chofetz Chaim came to the city of Lodz to help the people there strengthen their avodas Hashem. Everyone in the city was very excited and waited with great anticipation to see the tzaddik. The principal of the local school organized the children in festive clothes and went out with them to where the Chofetz Chaim was staying so they could see his holy face. When the children entered the room, the Chofetz Chaim began by saying, “I am surprised! Does someone who has a successful store on the main street close it because he wants to open a small business in a storage room on a side street?” The Chofetz Chaim concluded, “Dear children, you are like that. You are sitting and learning Torah, and instead, you are coming to see some old man who came to the city? I am puzzled!”

Glimpses of Greatness

Shamai said, “Greet every man with a pleasant expression of countenance” (Pirkei Avos 1:15). The sons of Rabbi Avraham Grodzinski wrote that their father worked for two years on acquiring a pleasant facial expression. This became so ingrained in his character that even during the darkest and gloomiest days of the Second World War when he and his family were enslaved in the ghetto of Slobodka and their lives were in constant danger, his outward expression was always cheerful.

Halacha Weekly

Q. Is one permitted to call a child a name used by both males and females? [1-YD12-287]

A. Divrei Malkiel (3-75, R. Malkiel Tzvi Tanenbaum Z”L ) writes that the custom of calling women by names which males are also called as well is hard to understand, and it is not proper to act this way. There are several concerns in this matter, and the basis of the matter is the prohibition of a man wearing a woman’s clothing, Lo yilbosh (that a man should not dress in a manner customary for women).

R. Chaim Konievsky, in Taamah Dekra al Ha Torah (Ki Teitzei149), writes that there are many places in Shaas Bavli and Yerushalmi as well as Midrashim and the Rishonim where [the Sages] call a man and a woman by the same name. Similarly, it is written in Shoelin V’Dorshin ( 3-45, R. Tzvi Natan Natah Kaufman, in name of the Chafetz Chaim Z”L ) that there is no prohibition in using the name of a man for a woman or vice versa as regards to Lo Yilbosh. However, one should not deviate from the tradition of the generations who were always accustomed to give names of the  Patriarchs and Matriachs and not names whose [gender ] were not distinguishable, and certainly not names which can be interchanged between a son and daughter.