When rearranging the letters of יתרו we arrive at תוֹרָי. Indeed, Yitro was impassioned by the Torah.
Rabbi Menachem Genack
Megillat Esther is not Batul
The Rambam (Hilchos Megillah 5:18) says that all of the books of Nevi’im and Ketuvim will be batul when Mashiach comes except Megillat Esther and it will remain intact like the 5 books of the Torah and the Halachos of Torah She’bal Pe which are never batul. And even though all the remembrances of tragedies will be forgotten …Purim will not be batul..as it says..the days of Purim will pass from the Jews and its remembrance won’t. The Raavad, in his hasagot, comments that none of the Nevi’im and Ketuvim will be batul as they all have limud in them, and the only exception relating to the Megillah is that should the other sefarim be deemed not to be read from anymore amidst the tzibur the Megillah will still be read betzibur.
The source for the Rambam is a Yerushalmi (Megillah: Perek1 Halacha 5) relating to an argument between Rav Yochanan and Reish Lakish. Rav Yochahnan says the Nevi’im and Ketuvim will be batul in the future but not the 5 books of the Torah while Reish Lakish says even Megillat Esther and its halachos won’t be batul.
It needs explanation in the Rambam why he says Megillat Esther will remain like the 5 books of the Torah and like the Halachos of Torah She’bal Pe that are never batel. What’s the connection between the Halachos Torah She’bal Pe and Megilla?
The link has been alluded to in the Yerushalmi where it says the halachos of Megillah won’t be batul just like the Torah won’t. The essence of the Torah to which the Yerushalmi compares the Megillah and the Torah is regarding it’s halachos that will never be batul. This is unlike all other Nevi’im and Ketuvim that don’t stand to teach halachos. A Navi isn’t allowed to mechadesh (teach anything new) rather he offers words of mussar and reproof. In stark contrast, we see in the beginning of Gemara Megilla that all of the laws of Purim are extrapolated from the Megillah itself. The Megillah stands as a manifestation of Torah that stands to be darshened from.
This explains why the Megilla needs Sirtut. For the Griz proves from the Rambam that the reason the Torah needs Sirtut is not because it’s a book of Torah but because it’s a source of Divrei Torah, and Divrei Torah needs Sirtut. And we find this explicitly written in the Yerushalmi (Megillah: Perek 1 Halacha 1) where a gezera shava is made to say the Torah and the Megillah both need Sirtut.
The Raavad understood that the mussar and illustrations of how to walk with G-d are also considered Torah and therefore would never be batul, whereas the Rambam holds it’s all dependent on whether you can learn halachos and whether it is given to be doresh from.
Purim was a time for acceptance of Torah as the Gemara in Shabbas (88a) enunciates. It was a time when, Kemu ma she keblu kvar (we upheld anew what we already received from before), an acceptance out of love. And this can be another reason why Megillat Esther is considered like the Torah itself and was given to be darshened halachos from.
The Zohar compares Purim to Yom Kippur and darshens on the words Yom Kippurim, that it is a day like Purim. They were both days of giving of the Torah, for the second luchos were given on Yom Kippur, and the Gemara Taanis (30b) says there were no better days for Bnei Yisrael than Yom Kippur and Tu B’Av. Thus on Yom Kippur the Torah was given to Bnei Yisrael and on Purim we received the Torah anew.
Rav Avrohom Zt”l
Can a Rabbinic Obligation Excempt a Torah-Based One
Rabbi Akiva Eiger (Shulchan Aruch Siman 186 Seif 2) writes that in a case when a katan (child before bringing simanim) washes and has bread and reaches a point of sevia (satiation, the trigger that necessitates birchat hamazon) and then blesses on a derabanan level he’s not yotze his deorita level when he turns a gadol, as long as he is still within the shiur ikul (digestion time that determines when still obligated to say birchat hamazon). Therefore he must bentch a second time as a gadol to fulfill his deorita obligation.
Similarly, the Kapot Temarim (in his Sefer Yom Teruah on Rosh Hashanah, Page 27) says a katan that hears the shofar and then that day shows simanim and becomes a gadol will have to hear shofar again as his derabanan obligation earlier in the day is not able to exempt his deorita obligation as a gadol.
The Teshuvat Meishev Davar (Chelek Aleph, Siman 18) argues on both Rabbi Akiva Eiger and the Kapot Temarim and says that a derabanan will help a deorita.
According to Rabbi Akiva Eiger and the Kapot Temarim, a katan who shows simanim and becomes a gadol on shabbas, if he made kiddush mebeod yom, he would have to make kiddush again.
It may be proffered that we see the words of Rabbi Akiva Eiger in the Biur Halacha (Siman 184 s.v. be’kzayit) that says if one ate a kzayit and bentched then continued eating to a point of satiation, even though the second eating itself wouldn’t bring on a deorita obligation, however he is still chayav from the Torah since the first eating was not exempted by the derabanan bentching.
The Chazon Ish (Siman 34 Seif Katan 4), however, differentiates the above case, saying since there was no casual connection between the 2 eating’s you wouldn’t be chayav to bentch again on a deorita level, however, if one did have in mind to continue eating after he says birchat hamazon, such as on Erev Pesach that falls on Shabbas, then he would have to bentch again.
We see again that a birchat hamazon mederabanan will not help for a deorita.
The Mordechai in Megilla (Siman 798) brings a differing opinion, that of Rav Tuvia who holds a that a kiddush made during Tosephet Shabbas (a Rabbinic time period) fulfills one’s deorita obligation, exhibiting that a derabanan does help for a deoriata.
There seems, however, to be an explicit Gemara in opposition to Rav Tuvia. The Magen Avraham (Siman 267 Seif Katan 1) asks from a Gemara in Brachot (20b) that says a katan can’t be yotze a gadol because he is only chayav mederabanan and the gadol is chayav medeorita. One must therefore answer for Rabbi Tuvia that it depends on whether we are discussing one’s own obligation versus 2 people’s obligations. So when a person for himself, on Tosephet Shabbas, makes kiddush it helps, but a derabanan won’t help for a deorita if two people are involved as in the case of Gemara Brachot, where one katan is trying to be yotze another gadol.
However, there’s still a difficulty because Rav Tuvia seems to apply his concept with 2 people as well. He says a blind man (who has a Rabbinic obligation) can be yotze his family (who are under a deorita obligation) for kiddush, indicating that even in the case of 2 separate obligations the derabanan helps for the deorita. Therefore, we must say either Rav Tuvia is not Gores the Gemara in Brachos, as many nussach’s don’t have it or he holds like the Ramban who understands the Gemara to be saying that even medarabanan the katan can’t be yotze the gadol because the mitzvah of chinuch is on the father and not the katan.
Based on the major holdings of the achronim that a derabanan can’t help a deorita even with one person, the Birkat Hatorah of a katan (Rabbinic) that he says in the morning should not help his deorita obligation at night.
The Teshuvat Eretz Tzvi (Siman 16) answers that the katan can be yotze with ahavat olam if he says it after tzeit hakochavim. Therefore if the katan davened Maariv while still day or he doesn’t daven at night then he can’t learn. The Eretz Tzvi brings the opinion of Rav Tuvia and says that his reasoning will not help for Birkat Hatorah. Only by Kiddush made on Tosephet Shabbas can it help, in concordance with the Rambam, as it’s Samuch Le’Shabbas and the reasoning can only be applied when its “memela ka ati la” unlike from katnut to gadlut where your missing the maase of simanim. (Regarding the blind person who made kiddush one can say it’s not mechusar maase because he can be healed).
We know women are chayav in Birkat Hatorah because they must learn about the mitzvos they are obligated in. And after they say Birkat Hatorah it helps when they then say yivarechech. There are numerous opinions whether women are obligated Min Ha Torah or not in Birkat Hatorah, however if they are obligated Min Ha Torah then according to the Eretz Tzvi, every girl should be taught when she becomes Bat Mitzvah to have kavana in ahavas olam and we don’t find as such. The Rav leaves this as a Tzarich Iyun.
Finally, a proof is brought against the Eretz Tzvi because the Rama (Siman 53 Seif 10) writes that a katan shouldn’t be the shliach tzibur for Maariv if the minyan takes place before shekiah. It can be inferred from the Rama that if the katan is not the shliach tzibur his davening helps, even though he’s saying ahavas olam while he’s still a katan. What will then be with his Birkat Hatorah at night for there an obligation to learn at night (even more so according to the opinions that kriyat shema needs Birkat Hatorah).
We find according to Rabbi Akiva Eiger, the Mishnah Berurah, the Magen Avraham and the Chazon Ish a deraban won’t help for a deorita.
Stories of Rav Avrohom Zt”l
A Shirt Exchange
Rav Avrohom encountered a young man on the bus in Yerushalayim and asked him where he was going. The young man replied he was going to see the Western Wall. Rav Avraham asked him how he planned to rip as he would be at the makom hamikdash and the young man was not sure. Rav Avraham told the young man to come back to yeshiva with him where they could exchange shirts, for the halacha is that you need not rip if the shirt does not belong to you. It was noticed in shiur that day that Rav Avraham took all safeguards to keep the shirt in its original condition.
Rabbi Menachem Genack
1:1 “And He called to Moses, and the Lord spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying.”
Rabba said: Whence do we know that if a man had said something to his neighbor the latter must not spread the news without the informant’s telling him ‘Go and say it’? From the scriptural text: The Lord spoke to him out of the tent of meeting, lemor [saying] (Yoma 4:2).
We see these words were specifically spoken to Moshe and if not for the fact that Hashem gave him permission to share them with Bnei Yisrael they would be just for him. This was a personal dialogue of love as further evidenced by Rashi on the word “Vayikra” – “that G-d spoke in a language of love, using language that the malachai hasheret use.” This idea is further bolstered by the Gemara Nedarim (38a) where it says the Torah was given to Moshe as a present and he treated it with favor and gave it over to Bnei Yisrael. The original giving over was personal and just for Moshe but he chose to share it with Klal Yisrael. This relationship of love is further personified by the fact that Hashem speaks to Moshe in the voice of his father, Amram.
1:2 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: When a man brings a sacrifice from [among] you to the Lord; from animals, from cattle or from the flock you shall bring your sacrifice.”
There is a famous diyuk on the pasuk that by its specific order of wording, the verse is telling man that when he brings a sacrifice he should in fact view himself as the one being sacrificed (as the verse says a man when he brings himself…whereas it could’ve said…when a man amidst yourself brings). This idea that a person should view himself as the karban is premised on Akeidut Yitzchak, where Yitzckak himself was bound to the altar. Yitzchak’s binding set the precedent for the understanding of all future sacrifices. This explains why we have the minhag in the morning davening to say the Parsha of Akeidah before the saying of the karbanos. The Rambam (Hilchos Beit Ha’bechirah 1:3) says the altar is specific in nature and its place can never change, as it says this is the altar to go up for Israel. And in the mikdash Yitzchak was sacrificed as it says go up to Har Hamoria and it says in Divrei Hayamim Shlomo began to build the House of G-d in Yerushalayim in Har Hamoria. It’s clear from the Rambam that the sacrifice of Yitzchak was the sino qua non for understanding all future offerings
Rabbi Yaakov Nagen (Genack)
“The Animal from Within”
Man tends to take offense when compared to animals. Even non-Darwinists that don’t believe in ape lineage cringe at the comparison. However, it is in the nature of things that we all have an animal side, a positive phenomenon.
The Zohar in his work, Safra de Tzniuta, believes man has divine basics and fundamentals bestial. This idea is known to many of us through the teachings of Tanya. However, the Tanya and Zohar disagree on how to understand this phenomenon.
The Tanya is of the belief that man is an a continual struggle between these two forces, of human versus bestial, as opposed to the Zohar who believes it’s as a bridal relationship, accentuating the necessity of both the human and bestial elements to exist in harmony.
The Zohar brings the verse that equates beast to man. “And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kind, cattle and creeping things and the beasts of the earth according to their kind, and it was so” (Genesis 1:24). The verse specifically identified the beasts as “living creatures” (nefesh chaya – a living soul), just as man himself was a living creature (nefesh chaya). This explains, says the Zohar, the verse in Tehillim (36:7), “Save O’ G-d, man and beast.” With clarity the verse is saying that within man exists animal.
As has been discussed (See the Divrei Torah of Rabbi Menachem Genack above), Vayikra is the Parsha of karbonos. A man who sacrifices an animal should feel as if he, himself, is being sacrificed. It’s no coincidence that the word “karban” (sacrifice) and “kerevah” (close) have the same root. By sacrificing to G-d one becomes closer to Him.
However, says the Zohar, the aforementioned idea contradicts the next verse. “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: When a man from [among] you brings a sacrifice to G-d; from animals, from cattle or from flock you shall bring your sacrifice” (Leviticus 1:2). The first part of the pasuk says it must come from “among” you (from you) yet when the pasuk continues it says the karban is from the animal. The Zohar answers this contradiction in saying the “animal is in you.” In other words the animal that man is sacrificing is the animal within him. Man must dedicate his brute and animalistic tendencies towards G-d as well, for these tendencies have inherent Kedusha if utilized properly. The sacrificing in the mikdash was not a wholly spiritual manifestation, but also a physical one, as one had to physically rise up and travel to the mikdash, purify his body and eat the karbanos.
These 2 sides that exist within us were placed inside of us by G-d at the time of creation. According to the Safra de Tzniuta, when man comes down to this world he has two sides to him, the right and left. On the right side is the neshama and on the left side is the soul of the animal. Man was created in the image of G-d and as such we have two sides. Not only were we imbued with the neshama that has its roots with G-d but also with the animalistic side.
If the animal soul is part of the natural essence of man, how does sin arise? Safra de Tzniuta further explains that “the sin of Adam spread left.” Sin is the violation of the balance, when the animal side spreads across borders. Rav Kook echoes this sentiment for he doesn’t see material desires as such a calamity. Desire to sample the material world and attain mental tendency is originated in holiness. But when this desire becomes all the rage, with all powers pledged to achieve material desires, the balance is disturbed and the person loses the power of self control and falls into the depths of darkness.
But according to Safra de Tzniuta when they work in harmony, they can give birth to and breathe life into new creations. To bring a new neshama into the world we need our physical body. This concept holds true in the arts; in dance, sculpture and painting; in the Torah and literary works. In all of them there is a combination, a partnership, between the two forces of man, the spiritual and bestial.
When analyzing a pivotal pasuk in Lech Lecha we see the above mentioned interpretations come to light. The famous verse says about Avraham, “Lech Lecha Me’artzhecha” (Go from your land) (Genesis 12:1). The Maggid of Mazrich darshens the pasuk to mean, in order to reach yourself (licha), you must go (lech) and leave the land to free yourself. This interpretation would follow the understanding of the Tanya that within man there always exists an existential battle between man’s soul and animalistic tendencies. Rabbi Naftali of Ropshitz says just the opposite. He darshens it to mean – go out with your earthliness (Artzecha) and use your human and bestial side to conquer the world in balance and harmony. This is in tune with the Zohar who views our earthliness as an asset and a phenomenon that exists within all of us.
In this week’s parsha, we finish reading about the makkos which were inflicted on the Egyptians. The Meforshim explain that in general, when we learn about the Makkos we have to realize not just the physical manifestation of the Makka itself, rather why HaShem chose this specific way to afflict the Egyptians. With this in mind, each Makka has to be learnt fully to reveal its true depth and purpose. We have to consistently be asking ourselves, what was HaShem trying to reveal to the Jewish people through each Makka? So when the Torah tells us of each makka, and describes the situation surrounding the plague, that too needs to be understood to provide a proper context for what the Torah is trying to express.
There’s one part of makkas bechoros which I always found puzzling. It says that when Pharaoh learned that every first born in Egypt was either dead or dying, he got up in the middle of the night to seek out Moshe Rabbeinu. Rashi says on the words “and Pharaoh got up” that Pharaoh got up “from his bed”. The question I’m bothered by every year is what’s Rashi coming to add here? As a general rule, Rashi doesn’t go out of his way to explain things which are obvious and can easily be understood by themselves. So whats this chiddush of Rashi? Of course Pharaoh got out of his bed, where else could he be “getting up” from?!
At face value, it certainly does seem that Rashi really isn’t coming to add anything here. However, if we stop for one second and ponder the circumstances, it seems that Rashi is indeed adding a very potent chiddush. Think about it. Moshe Rabbeinu had come to Pharaoh nine consecutive times and foretold him of terrible plagues which would afflict the Egyptians. And nine times his prediction came true. Now Moshe comes to Pharaoh and says “tonight, every firstborn in your country will die…” Would you be able to sleep? Would you be able to go to bed as if nothing was wrong? Rashi is in fact adding a huge chiddush! Moshe had told him that every bechor in Egypt would die, and Pharaoh was still able to go to sleep in his bed, as if everything was completely normal! How could this be?!
I think we see from here a very big yesod. Even when emes is right in front of a person’s face, he has the ability to completely ignore it. Rav Yisroel Salanter said that this is one of the wonders of creation. How a person can realize and know something with pristine clarity, yet completely turn his back on it and act as if it weren’t there.
Some may think that this idea is something which is below us and irrelevant. “If WE were in Pharoah’s shoes, surely we wouldn’t have gone to sleep, surely we would have spent the night worrying for our children and the children of our country”. I once told this idea over to a friend who claimed that this was why Pharaoh was a rasha. Because he didn’t associate himself with what he knew to be true. I told him that this idea isn’t just by Pharaoh, it exists by every one of us. Rav Shach says that every letter of the Torah is coming to teach us an idea which is relevant to us. Literally everything in the Torah has something to be learned from it. The limud from here is as we’ve said. How many times do we know with a clarity what we should or shouldn’t do, yet we fail to act accordingly?
Rav Itzele Peterburger, also known as Rav Yitzchak Blazer, writes in his introduction to Kochvei Ohr that the intellect of man differs in regards to physical matters and spiritual matters. In regards to physical matters, if someone understands something intellectually, it oft times makes a serious impact on his body. For example, if someone perceives a danger to himself, he may begin to sweat and tremble with fear. However, by ruchniyus, its different. The way HaShem created the world was in a way that a person has the ability to choose whether or not to follow the ideas he knows to be true. That is, a person can understand the concept of an all seeing G-d so clearly, yet still choose to act as if there was no one watching him.
The limud from Pharaoh is that we have to act with emes that we know. We need our actions to be synonymous with our ideas and ideologies. To internalize all of what we know about HaShem. We know HaShem created the world, we know He was, is and always will be. We know He plays an active role in our lives. Our job is not just to have these ideas; its to not ignore them. The only way to change and better ourselves is to tap into what we already know and connect ourselves to it. We learn from Pharaoh the terrible and unfortunate nature of man. We learn from Pharoah what not to do. We learn the dangers of not listening to that inner voice which screams to seek truth and act in accordance with it. We learn what each one of us has the ability to do- to take a pure, unadulterated knowledge, pure Emes and listen to it. Our job is simply to not ignore it.