Illuminations #175, Tishrei, 5779, Parshat Ha’azinu

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Illuminations #175, Tishrei, 5779, Parshat Ha’azinu

Torah Gems

“And for the sin that we have sinned before You by showing contempt for parents and teachers.”

It is a common misconception that the mitzvah of kibud av v’em is limited to physical manifestations of respect and honor. This section of Al Cheit teaches otherwise. In viduy, we say al cheit for zilzul, which means to hold cheaply or to be disdainful. Included in this is not honoring parents in one’s mind. 

It is not enough for a son to fulfill every aspect of kibud av v’em in deed. He must also be careful to think highly of his parents in his heart and certainly not denigrate them or mock their spiritual shortcomings. If for anything else, the fact that his parents have merited a son of superior spiritual attainments like himself should be enough of a reason to think highly of them. 

This is not simply an ethical requirement, it is codified in halachah. Chayei Adam (67:3) writes that one must think of his parents as if they were great and noble people even if, in the eyes of others, they are considered insignificant. If a son criticizes his parents in his heart, he is put in the category of what the Navi describes as a person who ”scolds the Jewish nation, who with its mouth and with its lips honors Me, but its heart is far from Me” (29:13).

Parsha Pearls

“And now write yourselves this song.”

The Gemara learns from this pasuk that we have been instructed that every person in Klal Yisrael should have a Sefer Torah. It is even more praiseworthy if he wrote it himself, as it says, “kisvu,””write for yourselves,” meaning with his own hand. One who does so is considered by the pasuk as though he received it from Har Sinai. Anyone who is not able to write it for himself should hire someone to write it for him. It states, “And now write for yourselves this song and teach it to Bnei Yisrael.” In other words, write the Torah for yourselves which contains this song. 

The Chafetz Chaim’s son once asked him why he did not write a sefer Torah for himself since the Torah lists it as a mitzvah. The Chafetz Chaim replied, “Do I have the energy to do it? I rely on the poskim who said that now, since we do not learn out of the sefer Torah itself, we are able to carry out this mitzvah with the sefarim of the Talmud and the poskim that we study in order to know how we should act.” The Chafetz Chaim had a large number of these sefarim to learn from.

Glimpses of Greatness

The Chafetz Chaim once met a Jew with whom he was acquainted and asked how he was doing. “It could be better”, the man replied with a sigh. “You are mistaken!” the Chafetz Chaim responded. “It cannot be better! Hashem, whose ways are all extremely exact to the extent that we cannot fathom, knows exactly what is good for you and what is not good for you. Therefore, whatever He has given you is exactly what is good for you! There is nothing better!” 

Halacha Weekly

Q. What should one do if one will have non-observant guests on Yom Tov? [Milium 2-1)

A. It is not permitted to invite non-Jews for Yom Tov meals. We learn this from Beizah (21b)-Mar Shmuel says that one may invite a non-Jew [to a meal ] on Shabbat but one may not invite a non-Jew on a Festival as a preventative measure  so that one will not come to cook more [food than is necessary] for his sake. (If one cooks food for a non-Jew he will be performing a forbidden melachah on Yom Tov, because it is not for the sake of Yom Tov that he is cooking the food.) What is the case for a non-observant Jew? Does the same principle apply if one invites non-observant guests on Yom Tov?

In fact this ruling also applies to non-observant Jews whom one has at one’s Yom Tov table. How should one act then? Haarot Chidushei Rashba (Beiah 21b- haarah 188) brings down in the name of Rav Elishev that one should purchase food on behalf of those guests who are not Shabbat observant and [simply] let them know which food they will be eating during the meal. Similarly, in Sefer Chut Hashani (Hil. Yom Tov, Perek4, R. Shimshon Bachrach Z”L) writes that one should take possession of the food on behalf of those guests who do not observe Shabbat and make known to him that the food is his. This avoids the prohibition of hazmanah-invitation of those who do not observe Yom Tov [and a desecration of Yom Tov by preparing food on Yom Tov which is not for the sake of the Yom Tov itself.]