Illuminations #164, Sivan, 5778, Parshat Shelach

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Illuminations #164, Sivan 5778, Parshat Shelach

Torah Gems

“And Moshe called Hoshea Ben Nun, Yehoshua”

The Midrash explains that Hashem took the “yud” of Sarai and added it to Hoshea to form a new name, Yehoshua. Rabbi Nissan Alpert states that this attachment to Sarah was by specific design. In order for our people to conquer and rule Eretz Yisrael, it was necessary for Yehoshua to be imbued with Sarah’s hashkafah, philosophy. Sarah emphatically expressed her opinion regarding the proprietorship of Eretz Yisrael. It belongs to B’nei Yisrael and to no one else. With determination and resolve, she demanded of Abraham, “Cast out this maidservant and her son, for the son of the maidservant shall not inherit with my son Yitzhak” (Bereshit 21:10). Yishmael and his descendants have no portion in Eretz Yisrael!

We may suggest another thought. By her words as well as her actions, Sarah implied the need for maintaining a pristine environment, untainted by the harmful influence of Yishmael. She implored Abraham to raise their child in a protected surrounding, conducive to the sublime education he would receive. She understood that Yitzhak’s Torah hashkafot must be developed in a pure environment, completely detached from any outside influences.

This was the message to Yehoshua. He needed to stand resolute and maintain indomitable faith and trust in Hashem in the face of dissenting views from other factions of B’nei Yisrael. In order to do so, he was responsible for immersing himself totally in the Torah. The juxtaposition of outside influences would taint his perspective. Just as it was true then, it is all the more relevant in contemporary society in which the harmful influences of the outside environment can so easily undermine our sense of values. (Peninim on the Torah)

Parsha Pearls

“And how is the land…are there trees in it or not?”

Moshe Rabenu allows the people to send spies to the land. In his explanation of the mission, he tells them to look for trees. Rashi explains: “See if there is among them a decent man who can protect them through his merit.” The Satmar Rebbe zt”l (as quoted in Ha-Meir) asks, if the trees mentioned refer to a righteous man, what is the explanation of the rest of the pasuk, “And take from the fruit of the land”? If we are not talking about real trees, what is meant by taking their fruit? Furthermore, it is difficult to understand Moshe’s instructions. How were they to know who is a true Tzadik? A person may look one way on the outside but be different on the inside. How were they to know whether the man has the power to protect the people? But, Moshe gave them a sign that would let them know the true nature of the man. The essence of the man can be determined by looking at the behavior of his “fruits,” his children and his students. If they walk a straight path in life, it’s a sign that the man is a tzadik. If they don’t follow the path of Hashem, it’s an indication that his interior is not like his exterior, he only appears like a tzadik. Now we can understand the pasuk when it says, “And take from the fruit of the land,” it means go and see the behavior of his children and students and thus you will know that the man is a tzadik.

Glimpses of Greatness

Harav Ezra Attia z”l was the revered Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Porat Yosef. Some of the greatest Chachamim of our generation were his students, such as Harav Ben Tzion Abba Shaul and Harav Ovadia Yosef . He was once visited by the Chazon Ish and after talking with him, the Chazon Ish said, “He has the S’varot (logic) of a Rishon (early scholar).” Another time he sent his student Rabbi Baruch Ben-Haim (Rabbi of Shaarei Tzion in Brooklyn) together with another student to deliver a message to the Chazon Ish. After they delivered the message they stayed to learn in the same Beit Medrash as the Chazon Ish. Soon students began to gather around and listen to them learn. When asked, “What’s so interesting?” they answered, “The Chazon Ish told us that you are the students of a Rishon and that we should listen to every word!”


Halacha Weekly

Q. Is it permitted for men to use fragrances like after shave lotion? [1-YD12-289]

A.  There is a prohibition of a man wearing the clothing of women, (lo yilbash simlat Ishah). Regarding the question of men’s fragrances (like after-shave lotion, etc), Az Nidbaru (4-37, R. Binyamin Yehoshua Zilber, Z”L)writes that anything which one does for the sake of healing or for cleanliness does not involve the prohibition of lo yilbash simlat ishah (that a man should not where the clothing of a woman). It therefore does not apply to these things. According to the strict rule of law it is permitted to wash with a soap that gives a good fragrance for the intent  is for the sake of healing (or cleanliness), not for the sake of ornamentation.

Baer Sarim (6-59, R. Avraham Yafah Schlessinger) writes that one who applies to himself a fragrance which has a strong scent  that is normal  for a woman certainly is prohibited [for men to use].  If one applies a fragrance for men, [they should use one] with a lesser strength [or fragrance]. It appears for Bnai Torah that are stringent [in these matters] that it is a disgrace for them to go in the marketplace in any event [having scented clothes]. As it says in Berachot (43b) that ‘Regarding five things it is disgraceful for a scholar to go out in [Public with] them.’ One of these is ‘to go out scented’ in the marketplace. It is also written regarding this that even so, it is customary for men to go out scented for the sake of purity to remove odor and sweat, [and this] is permitted.