Rabbi Binyomin Adler – “Holy Unification” And “Halachah”


In this week’s parashah it is said (Vayikra 19:1-2) vayidabeir HaShem el Moshe leimor dabeir el kol adas binei Yisroel viamarta aleihem kedoshim tihyu ki kadosh ani HaShem Elokeichem, HaShem spoke to Moshe, saying: Speak to the entire assembly of the children of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for holy am I, HaShem, your G-d. Rashi quotes the Medrash (Vayikra Rabbah 24:5) that states: this portion of the Torah was said by Hakhel (in a group) as the majority of the essentials of the Torah are dependant on this portion. One must wonder what the meaning of this statement is. Prior to performing certain mitzvos we recite the following words: “the performance of the mitzvah should be worthy before HaShem as if one has fulfilled it in all its details, implications, and intentions, as well as the six hundred and thirteen commandments that are dependant upon it.” Thus, it appears that all mitzvos are dependant on each other, so what is so unique about this portion of the Torah that it was said in a group?

Performing a Mitzvah Demonstrates Love for a Fellow Jew

To answer this question, we must examine the verse that instructs us to be holy. Rashi, based on the Toras Kohanim, interprets the verse to mean that one must distance himself from immoral relationships, as wherever we find a safeguard from immorality, there we find holiness. The Ramban disagrees and writes that the Torah is instructing us that one should not even engage in permitted activities for the sake of indulging. Rather, one should restrain himself as much as possible and limit himself to what is absolutely necessary in the realm of materialism. Assuming that one can adopt the approach of Rashi and the approach of the Ramban, we can better understand why this portion of the Torah was said in a group. It is said (Vayikra 19:18) lo sikom vilo sitor es binei amecha viahavta lireiacha kamocha ani HaShem, you shall not take revenge and you shall not bear a grudge against the members of your people; you shall love your fellow as yourself – I am HaShem. The Toras Kohanim states that Rabbi Akiva said that the words viahavta lireiacha kamocha are a klal gadol baTorah, a great rule in the Torah. It is written that this statement can be interpreted to mean that whenever one is engaged in a mitzvah, somehow that mitzvah incorporates the mitzvah of loving your fellow as yourself.

Engaging in Immoral Behavior Causes One to Remain Alone

It is said (Mishlei 18:1) lisaavah yivakeish nifrad bichol tushia yisgala, one who removes himself to court desire will be exposed in every Torah enclave. Rabbeinu Bachye (Introduction to Parashas Kedoshim) writes that this means that if one is constantly pursuing his desires, he will ultimately find himself to be alone. People will flee from him because of his inappropriate behavior. It would follow, then, that one who refrains from immoral actions and distances himself from indulging in physical pleasures will be embraced by his fellow man. When one performs a mitzvah, he is clearly distancing himself from inappropriate behavior and he is engaged in holy pursuits. Thus, whereas the immoral person remains alone, the holy person is part of the Holy Congregation, i.e. the Jewish People who serve HaShem with fear and love. It is for this reason that when one performs a mitzvah, he is incorporating the mitzvah of viahavta lireiacha kamocha. Now we can understand why the parashah of Kedoshim, which commences with the laws of holiness, was said in a group. The only way to be a part of the Jewish People is by performing mitzvos and attaining a level of holiness.

The Shabbos Connection

Every week HaShem is gracious to us and bestows upon us His Holy Day of Shabbos. Shabbos is a time when we are free from materialism and we can perform mitzvos and involve our families and friends in holiness. HaShem should allow us to all be a part of the Jewish People, and when we are all together as one, we will witness the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkienu, speedily, in our days.

ממרח – Smoothing

To What Does this Prohibition Apply?


The Poskim debate whether the melacha of smoothing applies to food items. The Rema rules that one may follow the lenient view that exempts food from this prohibition, but nevertheless המחמיר תבוא עליו ברכה, one who is strict shall be blessed; i.e. it is praiseworthy to follow the stringent view that includes food in the prohibition. Thus, it is praiseworthy to avoid smoothing out any thick food substance.

However, this stringency applies only where one wants the food to appear smooth for decorative purposes, such as icing a cake or smoothing out an egg salad. In a case where one intends merely to spread the food substance over a large area, but does not care whether the surface appears smooth i.e. spreading butter on bread, there is no basis for stringency. Accordingly, one is allowed to spread any firm food substance, i. e. butter, jam, cheese, egg or tuna salad on a slice of bread, so long as one does not care to make the surface appear smooth.

Rabbi Nagen (Genack) on Shavuos

Rabbi Yaakov Nagen (Genack)

*Giving of the Torah

In the Shavuos davening, we describe the Yom Tov as “The time of the giving of the Torah.” However, according to the Zohar every day G-d teaches the Torah anew, implying the Torah is transmitted each day as well, not just on Shavuos. Therefore, how is Shavuos unique and why don’t we hear G-d’s voice talking to us on a daily basis?
The Chasid, Rabbi Yaakov Leiner, answers that G-d keeps the world moving at a constant and gives us the Dibros to us on a daily basis (see Zohar: Siman 71, relating to the words in the verse  “with a great voice, which did not cease” (Deuteronomy 5:19) and see also Berachos (17b)), but because of the noise and dealings that we are preoccupied with, a separation is created between us and G-d and we don’t hear the daily expressions from Heaven. By Matan Torah, G-d himself silenced the outside noise allowing us to hear the Dibros [that are present every day], but after that experience, the regular noise of our lives consistently drowns out G-d’s voice (paraphrased from “Beit Yaakov” by Eliyahu Kitov; Order of Parshios: Book of Exodus: Volume 2, Page 130, 1985).

For years, I took the time to walk from my home to the Beis Medrash, preoccupied with preparing for the daily shiur. However, when I began to live in the present and sensed all the sweetness around me, I was awakened to my immediate surroundings. Already, on the first day, the voices that were hidden from me appeared. The birds sang “all” day, not just in the morning and at sunset.

Soon I realized that life’s journey is not over time, but exists in the present, and should therefore compel one to delve deeper into his current reality. Now, I’m trying to establish the life of the order, “Seek out my face every day.”

The Gemara (Sanhedrin 98a) brings down the story of one who asked, “When will Moshiach come?” and he was answered, “Today.” The

questioner waited until the evening and was disappointed when the redemption didn’t materialize. Then they explained to him, “Indeed it will come today, if you hearken unto the voice of G-d.”

Listening to the present after undergoing spiritual preparation for seven weeks is the purpose of Shavuos. On this day, a person must try to tear down the walls that separate him from the “here and now” so that he may hear the voice of G-d that is speaking to us on a constant basis.
*A Translated Version from the writings of Rabbi Yaakov Nagen (Genack)

The Difference Between Torah Shebechtav And Toral She Bal Pe

Rabbi Menachem Genack

*“This thing is very close to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can fulfill it” (Deuteronomy 30:14)

The verse (Deuteronomy 30:14) says, “This thing is very close to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can fulfill it.” Rashi says on this verse, [this] thing is very close to you: The Torah was given to you in writing and [accompanied by an] oral [explanation]. In the previous verses of the Parsha it says, (ibid. 30:11) “For this commandment which I command you this day, is not concealed from you, nor is it far away,” and (ibid. 30:12), “It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will go up to heaven for us and fetch it for us, to tell [it] to us, so that we can fulfill it?”, on which Rashi comments, “It is not in heaven,” for if it were in the heavens, you would have to climb up after it [in order] to learn it (quoting Eruvin 55a). So according to Rashi that which is very close to you in your mouth and heart refers to Torah.

This explanation seems to be going on the simple meaning of the words – (ibid. 30:14), “It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can fulfill it.” With the mouth one can read the Torah Shebichtav and with the heart one can understand Torah she-be-`al peh. Rabbi Genack heard from the Rav zt”l that Torah Shebichtav is different from Torah she-be-`al peh, in that Torah Shebichtav – one has a kiuyim of Talmud Torah by just reading the words even without understanding them whereas Torah she-be-`al peh, if one learns a Halacha or Gemara and doesn’t understand it – one does not fulfill Talmud Torah.

This is further evidenced by the Halacha relating to Megillat Esther that even though we don’t understand the explanation of some of the words, such as האחשתרנים בני הרמכים  (Esther 8:10), we are still yotze.
The notion of differentiation between Torah Shebichtav and Torah she-be-`al peh is further illustrated by the following story. The Griz zt”l was walking with Rav Elchanan Wasserman zt”l and they were discussing Torah. As they were speaking in Torah, Rav Elchanan mentioned that perhaps they should look inside to get reward for otiot machkimos (The letters bring wisdom). The Griz zt”l responded that such a notion only applies to Torah Shebichtav and not Torah she-be-`al peh. In regards to Torah she-be-`al peh, it’s the understanding of the sugya that brings fulfillment of Talmud Torah, not the reading of the letters.
While Rashi understood the above mentioned verses (Deuteronomy 30:11,12,14) to be going on Torah, the Ramban understands the verse (ibid. 30:11), “For this commandment which I command you this day” is going on Teshuva and the verse (ibid. 30:14), “It is in your mouth and in your heart” refers to vidui on sins with the mouth and returning to Hashem with the heart.

There seems to to be a proof to Rashi from the Tanna Dvei Eliyahu Zuta (14:1), where it’s written that Eliyahu encountered a fisherman that didn’t know how to read or learn Torah. The fisherman remarked that he wasn’t given the intelligence nor ability to learn. Eliyahu countered by saying – being that it’s true that you have the ability to weave a net from flax that is then placed in the water to trap fish, certainly you have the ability to learn the Torah, as the verse (ibid. 30:14) says, “This thing is very close to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can fulfill it.” This seems to be a direct proof for Rashi as Eliyahu uses this verse to reference Torah and not Teshuva.

*Birchat Yitzchak – Deuteronomy – Section 3 – Pages 287-288

The Times We Live In

I heard Rabbi Jungreis speak for Yom Hashoah. He very interestingly said we are living in the time of Moshiach and even had a kind of proof based on the verse in Leviticus 26 – “I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.” In essence the land has now been remembered as we got Israel after Yom Hashoah. He felt the Holocaust was worse than the Tochacha and when he passes Newark, NJ and sees in EL Al Plane he says “Shma Yisroel” acknowledging that Israel is a mere flight away.

A Visit From A Gadol

While studying by HaGaon Rav Tzvi Kushelevsky, I contracted mononucleosis which confined me to months of bedtime rest. For two years (and more), I battled the disease with some respite in-between. One afternoon while sitting for lunch, all of a sudden a lot of hissing went around the room. I, nor the people I was sitting with, knew the reason. All of a sudden, I saw Rav Avrohom zt”l and a few others approaching. He came to the yeshiva for a visit. One person with him recommended the drinking of grape juice to gain energy. Though I was honored to receive the visit, I knew a yeshiva not so far away was missing their leader during this time.

The Chasam Sofer (Rebbetzin Genechovsky is an ainekle)

The Chasam Sofer was once asked how he could pasken very complicated shaylos so quickly. He responded that when he learned a Gemara, he first crystallized the principles that emerged from his learning, and then he tried to imagine all the different circumstances to which those principles might apply. Thus when a case involving those principles later arose before the Chasam Sofer, he found that he had usually thought about just such situation previously and how the principles would apply. Unfortunately, few of us learn like the Chasam Sofer in this respect.