Shabbos By Rav Avrohom Zt”l

Shabbos usually unfolded in the following fashion. For mincha, he would walk me to daven with a chutz la’aretz minyan of young yeshiva bachurim. I would return and accompany him to the shiur he would give, which usually took place in a different shul each time. On the way to the shiur, he would pose a question to me and then I knew what the shiur was about. He would ask my opinion on the matter and ask for a sevara. I would usually take a seat near the front of the shul where he spoke. He was famously known to end every drasha by using the lamdus in the shiur to give mussar. On the way home, he usually asked me how I liked the drasha. On the table for Shabbos at night, he had garlic and after hamotzei gave challah to each person so as not to have it handed over. He often told stories at the table. After the meal, at some point he would do shnayim mikra v’echad targum and ask the rebbetzin to be his shomer as he held chumras when it came to electricity. Shabbos day I often joined him to daven at Sanz. If we ever walked to shul and a group of females were walking towards us, he would grab onto my jacket. As written in many places when people saw him walking in the street they would stop and bow their heads and he would give them a Shalom aleichem. At lunch we usually learned “Kitzur Hilchos Shabbos” which he said was a wonderful book. He also always told me to have extra kavana in Ein Kelokainu (as it relates to the avodah). By shalosh seudos, during the summer months, we would learn Pirkei Avot. Also it was well known that Rav Avrohom zt”l reviewed seven blot of gemara, rashi and tosofot every day. At shalos seudos I would often see him turning pages of a gemara so in my estimation that was when he reviewed those pages for that day. After Shabbos, the rebbetzin always made a great melava malka and she packed a large bag of cakes and other food items for me to take back to yeshiva. Though I tried to resist, Rav Avrohom always walked me to the cab station on motzei Shabbos and always inquired with the cab driver that he was going to the place I had to go. These were magical times that I got to spend with a Gadol. I can only reminisce about it now missing every nuance and emotion that accompanied these Shabbosim.





The Need For Chiddush

“And God completed on the seventh day His work that He did, and He abstained on the seventh day from all His work that He did” (Genesis 2:2)

The Beis Halevi extrapolates a wonderful chiddush from this pasuk. Based on the simple reading, the pasuk says that G-d finished creating the world on the seventh day. However, a fundamental question could be asked. Was the world not fully completed after six days? It must not be the case as the verse specifically says G-d finished it on the seventh day. Therefore, the Beis Halevi understands that in fact the world was finished on the seventh day, but two separate kinds of creation took place. The first six days were “melacha” work – which implies creating something from nothing, exemplified by all of the animal, vegetation life and other creations that were created anew. However, on the seventh day rest was created – more of a passive creation that continued to perpetuate the original creation. Therefore, whether something totally new or something passively new was created the word “melacha” refers to a “new” entity.

Based on the Beis Halevi’s idea that “melacha” implies “newness” we can say another chiddush. In Pirkei Avot (2:1), it says, “Rabban Gamliel the son of Rabbi Yehuda the Prince said….All Torah study without work (“melacha”) will result in waste and will cause sinfulness.” The classic understanding of the Mishna is that simply studying the Torah without busying oneself with work as well will leave a man idle, thus leading to a scenario where one won’t utilize his time in an organized fashion and eventually not learn at all. However, according to the Beis Halevi, we may now suggest that the Mishna is also saying that “All Torah with no “melacha” – “chiddush” will in the end be “batul” – for one won’t be innovating in the Torah and claiming it for his own. Without innovation and chiddush, one can lose passion and closeness with the Torah. Both messages are powerful and relevant and necessary to have the Torah endure.  

The “Chiddush Of Shlomo HaMelech”

וְאֵין כָּל חָדָש תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶש
“And there is nothing new under the sun”
 (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

Peshat – There is nothing new that man can create or imagine that hasn’t been created or explored already

Remez – The Jewish months (חָדָש) are not guided by the sun (הַשָּׁמֶש), but by the moon – we have a lunar calendar

Drush – Chadash (חָדָש) – New Grain does not exist anymore in the season of the sun (הַשָּׁמֶש) for then it’s “yashan” – old wheat

Sod – There is no “Chiddushei Torah” (חָדָש) under the sun (הַשָּׁמֶש), in this human planet – for any new “Chiddushei Torah” is merely uncovering the potential already embedded in the Oral Law

Rav Avrohom Zt”l Refusing Transportation

I was privileged to accompany Rav Avrohom zt”l to many of his bein hazimanim shiurim which took place all over Eretz Yisroel. I remember it gave me the chance to get a pulse of the country as well. I would always hear him on the phone trying to refuse transportation that was being offered to him so that he would be able to get to the shiur. The rebbetzin would tell me how everyone wanted to hear him speak, but he didn’t want to put the inviting party out. Eventually he accepted and we would be on our way. He always treated the cab driver like a king. Sometimes when he had to prepare the shiur, he would put me in the front, but I was no match in engaging the driver. It’s also well known that the Genechovsky’s would bring the cab driver into their apartment to provide food and beverage.