lluminations #34, Sivan 5775, Parshat Behaalotecha

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lluminations #34, Sivan 5775, Parshat Behaalotecha

Torah Gems

The Torah relates that the Jewish people complained about the man in the desert: “Who will feed us meat? We remember the fish that we ate in Mitzrayim, and the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic, all free of charge. But now we have nothing, the only thing we see is the man (Bamidbar 11:4-6).” This dissatisfaction awakened Hashem’s anger.

Yet, the Torah relates that Moshe told them, ” He (Hashem) afflicted you and let you hunger in that He fed you the man that you did not know (Devarim 8:3).” According to this passuk, it sounds like the man was an infliction because it left them hungry and it was not a normal food substance. If so, why did their complaint about the man anger Hashem?

In order to answer this question, let us refer to a mishnah in Avot 6:4:      “This is the path of Torah – eat bread with salt, drink water by measure, sleep on the floor and live a life of deprivation… and toil in Torah.”

To understand this, let’s think of a path to a king’s palace that is full of thorns and rocks. Wouldn’t it be befitting for a path to the king’s palace to be filled with flowers and nice, smooth pavement?

Similarly, the Torah is Hashem’s word, and Hashem is the King of the universe, so we would assume that the path to the Torah would be beautiful, like the path to a royal palace. Yet the Mishnah teaches us that the path to the Torah is a path of deprivation. Why should the path of Torah be so challenging?

The learning and living of Torah is the purpose of our existence. When one is immersed in Torah learning, his heart is not overly concerned with the material world.  The holiness of the Torah gives his neshamah satisfaction. This spiritual joy and satisfaction that ones gets from Torah learning helps him to feel satisfied even with the most minimal material provisions.

If the man does not satisfy a person, or on the same note, if one is not happy with his frugal lifestyle, it indicates that he is not yet fulfilled with Torah. When the Torah permeates a person’s being, the sweetness of Torah fills him and makes everything in his life sweet, including the man.

As the Mishnah concludes: “If you do so (toil Torah and eat bread and salt, etc.) you will be happy and it will be good for you, you will be happy- in this world; and it will be good for you- in the world to come.”

Based on Lev Eliyahu by Rav Eliyahu Lopian

Glimpses of Greatness

A wealthy Chasid who was visiting in Eretz Yisrael came to participate in a bris that was held in Rav Elyashiv’s house with Rav Elyashiv being the sandek. Someone asked the visitor to donate money to one of Rav Elyashiv’s talmidim who was experiencing severe financial difficulties. He offered to donate 70,000 shekels to the talmid if Rav Elyashiv would give him his own tallis kattan. The people present were astonished when they heard him make his offer- and even more astonished when Rav Elyashiv immediately removed his tallis kattan, happy to do what he could to partake in the mitzvah of tzedakah. The visitor then wrote out a check for the needy talmid.
Rav Shmuel Paley tells over a story to demonstrate the humility of Rav Shalom Schwadron.
When Rav Shmuel’s father, Rav Hirsch Paley, received the copy of the sefer “Lev Eliyahu” and began to go over it, he let out a scream. Frightened, his son and others ran over to him to see what was wrong. Rav Hirsch Paley pointed to where the names of the sefer’s editors appeared. Among the list of editors were the names, “Rav Shalom Mordechai HaKohen Schwadron, Rav Aryeh Leib Friedman, and Rav Tzvi Hirsch Paley.”
Of the three people listed only one actually wrote the book, and that was Rav Shalom Schwadron.
Rav Shalom Schwadron did not want to take credit for his work so he sent some other Rabbonim several pages of the sefer so that they could review the material. This provided him enough of a reason to credit the other two people as co-editors of the work. One can only imagine the anava that Moshe Rabeinu had. As the Torah says of him, “Now the man Moshe was exceedingly humble, more than any person on the face of the earth.”

Halacha Weekly

Q: Does a single man have to light Shabbat Candles?
A: The mitzvah of Hadlakat Nerot (lighting Shabbat candles) is an obligation for both men and women equally, and everyone is obligated to light Shabbat candles. However, this mitzvah was given especially to women, because the Gemara tells us that Adam was the candle or light of the world and Chava caused that candle to be extinguished. Therefore, the mitzvah of kindling Shabbat Candles was given to women more so than to men.
There is a difference between men and women in lighting the candles. Women accept Shabbat by lighting candles. Men do not accept Shabbat with their lighting but by saying Bo’i kala in the section where we welcome Shabbat in the evening prayer.  Women should therefore try to pray minchah (the weekday afternoon) prayer before lighting candles, since by lighting, Shabbat has been accepted for them. However, if a woman makes a Tenai (a verbal condition) on Erev Rosh Hashana for the rest of the year that she will accept Shabbat at sunset on Friday, then she can do melacha (Work) until sunset, even after she lit candles.  Men, however, are permitted to pray minchah and drive to synagogue, since they do not accept Shabbat with their candle lighting.  A woman who forgot to pray minchah and lit the Shabbat candles already is permitted to pray minchah after lighting.

In honor of our new grandson Avraham Michael Elfersy
Jacques and Amy Elfersy