Illuminations #185, Tevet, 5779, Parshat Mikeitz

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Illuminations #185, Tevet, 5779, Parshat Mikeitz

Torah Gems

“Did I not speak unto you saying, ‘Do not sin against the child?'” (Beresheet 42:22)
The Gerer Rebbe (Bet Yisrael) suggests that the words, “Do not sin against the child,” allude to another form of “sin” against a child. He is referring to the parents’ responsibility to provide their children with a quality Torah education. Parents who neglect to give their children the opportunity to have a Torah chinuch are placing them at a disadvantage. They are themselves sinful. As parents, it is our moral obligation to transcend our personal prejudices and vested interests in order to provide for our children’s eternity. There is an interesting story regarding the Beit Halevi, who was confronted with a communal problem in the city of Slutzk, Poland. A substantial number of distinguished families in the city refused to send their children to the Torah school. Rather, they sent them to the secular school, which provided no Torah studies. Furthermore, the student body and faculty were obviously not conducive to spiritual development. He called a communal meeting in the shul to rebuke these irresponsible parents. He began his admonishment by citing the Talmud in Ketubot 54a, which states that a widow is supported from the inherited property of the orphans. This halachah is applicable only as long as she retains her status as a widow, demonstrating fidelity to her first husband. Once she has begun to beautify herself, she indicates that she is interested in remarrying and no longer has any allegiance to her first husband. The same concept applies to Klal Yisrael in galut, exile. We are like a widow, who looks to Hashem for sustenance and support. When we begin to accept the blandishments of the gentile nations and adorn ourselves with the multifaceted trappings of gentile persuasion, we indicate a schism in our relationship with Hashem. No longer can we entreat Hashem to have pity on us during our exile. By venerating the secular and relegating Torah to a demeaning second place, we are unfaithful. His heartfelt words made an enormous impression upon his audience, and they immediately enrolled their children in the community’s Torah school. (Peninim on the Torah)

Parsha Pearls

But we are guilty concerning our brother” (Bereshit 42:21)
Teshuva is a spiritual phenomenon which must be expressed verbally in the form of viduy. The Rambam states that the major part of this confession consists of the words “Aval anachnu chata’nu (but we have sinned).” These three words acknowledge man’s failure in serving Hashem properly. It may be suggested that the inclusion of the word “but” is not only crucial, but is perhaps the device which allows us not only to sin, but also to maintain a facade of innocence and virtue. Very few people are really mean and malicious. Most people are decent, and truly admire virtue and righteousness. However, we tend to rationalize and find excuses for our misbehavior. We are aware of what is correct, yet we do not follow it, always finding reasons to justify our straying from the proper course. The word “but” represents the exception we take to the life that is good and decent, by justifying and apologizing for ourselves. “But” is a loophole which allows us, even after committing a sin, to act self-righteously and complacently. We will always say, “We wanted to do the right thing but…”As the brothers were reliving the selling of Yosef into slavery, they were saying to each other, “Our guilt was that of ‘but.'” We tried to excuse and justify our actions, but in retrospect we see it was no more than a mere cover-up. The recognition and acknowledgement of their sin was the beginning of their repentance. (Peninim on the Torah)

Glimpses of Greatness

The Chaftez Chaim writes that although it is usually commendable to speak as little as possible, it is a moral obligation to boost the spirit of someone who is dejected by conversing with him at length. 

A disciple of Rabbi Yisrael Salanter once saw him standing on a street corner, engaged in common place chatter and jokes with a stranger. Since  the student was accustomed to the sincere and serious behavior of Rabbi Salanter, he later asked his teacher about his out-of-character humor. Rabbi Salanter explained to his student that the man had problems that were weighing very heavily on his heart and he wanted to alleviate his depression.

Halacha Weekly

Q. When a synagogue is sold, are menorot included in the sale as well? [I-OC-2-25}

A. Is the Chanukah Menorah of a synagogue considered part and parcel of the synagogue? Does this apply equally to all other objects dedicated to the synagogue? If one sells the synagogue, are these all included in the deal?  Can one instead sell them off to another synagogue? Is the first congregation allowed to retain these items?

Kav Venaki (2-35) in the name of Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv Z”L) was asked this question: are those who want to sell a synagogue permitted to take the handle that is on the menorot [for lighting of the Menorahs of the synagogue, to use it in their new synagogue]? He answers that this would be prohibited because what one is selling to the second [congregation] is all rights [to the objects dedicated to it] that come into its possession. Since the first congregation  received all these dedicated objects on the conditions that they be rooted in that place [the place of all the people that made dedications to that synagogue], it is therefore not possible to sell to the second Congregation [the menorot] without [their] accessory.