Illuminations #46, Tishrei 5776, Yom Kippur / Parshat Ha’Azinu

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Illuminations #46, Tishrei 5776, Yom Kippur / 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. Chazal in one place explain that upon hearing Barechu es Hashem Hamevorach, one should reply Baruch Hahem Hamevorach leolam vaed (Sifrei). Elsewhere, they elucidate that it refers to the Beis Hamikdash where the answer of every berachah was to be Baruch Sheim Kevod Malchuso leolam vaed (Yoma 37a). The Rosh, in his teshuvos, 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 Beis Hamikdash, answer amen after every bearachah wherever we are. However, its power should not be underestimated. Chazal have revealed to us that one who answers amen with all of his strength, all the entryways to all the chambers of Gan Eden are opened for him (Shabbos 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. [He concludes, and a thousand times amen, yehei Shmei Rabba does not reach the distinction of one word of Torah!] 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 palace built from ones Torah and mitzvos awaits him in the next world; nevertheless, to get into Gan Eden and get to his 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 for him the gateways to enter Gan Eden. Especially now, during the aseret yemei teshuvah, isn’t it a beautiful way to honor the King by acknowledging His praises by saying amen…

Parsha Pearls

“The Rock (Hashem)! Perfect is His work, for all His paths are justice; a G-d 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 and 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… for he receives the punishment solely corresponding to his actions. Hashem, however, although “all His paths are justice,” and He is “a G-d of faith,” and this person indeed deserves retribution, nonetheless, Hashem also is “without iniquity.” Meaning, if this person would have a friend, relative or the like who is not deserving of the anguish that he being punished would cause, indeed, the deserved reckoning will not occur. Hashem has everything and anything in mind even to a hairs breadth. Rav Eliyah Lopian, zt”l, used to say, “It’s worthwhile to have a lot of friends. This way, there hopefully will be at least one who is not deserving of distress even if you are deserving of something, G-d forbid.

Glimpses of Greatness

Chazal relate how when Elisha ben Avuyah, the rebbe of the great tanna, Rabbi Meir bal Haneis, died, he wasn’t let into Gan Eden, for he had abandoned Yiddishkeit, and transgressed many very serious aveiros; on the other hand, he wasn’t thrown into Gehinom either, because all the Torah that he had learned protected him. So he simply remained in limbo (according to some he endured other punishments). Rabbi Meir understood this and said that when he would leave this world he would make sure to get his rebbe, “Acher,” as he is referred to in Chazal, into Gehinom. This way, after being cleansed from his sins, he would eventually be able to get into Gan Eden. Sure enough, after Rabbi Meir passed away, there was smoke coming out of Acher’s grave, a sign that he was in Gehinom.
Rav Shlomo Bussu, shlita, says that we can receive that kapparah and be ready to receive all our deserved Gan Eden by doing teshuvah on Yom Kippur! By doing teshuvah on Yom Kippur we gain straight entry even if, chas veshalom, we would be deserving of years and years of Gehinom. And of course, this includes berachos and avoided punishment in this world as well. So we should be very thankful to Hashem for this great gift He has given us and utilize it to the fullest and return to Him with a teshuvah shleimah!

Halacha Weekly

A person should try to receive a berachah from his parents (all year around, but especially on erev Yom Kippur). The Midrash teaches us that all the good and power Eisav’s descendants have is all due to the fact he wanted to have his father’s berachah!
Erev Yom Kippur is a Yom Tov! We don’t say tachanun or lamnatzei’ach, etc., and we are supposed to have a lavish seudah. Why? Rabbeinu Yonah writes that the Seudah is for the simchah we feel that we are receiving a kaparah for all our aveiros (Shaarei Teshuvah 4:8-10)! It is a seudsa Hoda’ah! The Ritva (Rosh Hashanah 9a) quotes Rabbeinu Yonah, saying that really, due to the tremendous feelings of simchah we have on Yom Kippur for receiving kaparah, we should be eating beautiful festive meals; the only reason we don’t is because the Torah commands that we be like malachim and not eat. So instead we eat on erev Yom Kippur.


In loving memory of 

Hershel Meir ben Shemuel, ז”ל, 

Harvey Meyer Yaffe

by Dr. & Mrs. Barry Yaffe