The words עָנִ֤י (poor) and קַל (easy) equal be’gematria 130. Sometimes a poorer life is an easier one as it allows one to focus on Torah and belief.
Appropriately, as Moshe is giving his last ceremonial farewells to Bnei Yisroel, he appeals to their senses. This can be felt by the names of the parshiot themselves that are contained within Deuteronomy. We come off of Shoftim, with the famous phraseology, “Shoftim veshotrim titen-lecha bechol-she’areycha,” and as the Shla Hakodesh points out this allegorically refers to us guarding our own senses, with the message to place “guardians” to watch over our own individual corrupt practices. Last week we read Re’eh, another signal whereby Moshe says “Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse,” another beckoning calls to use our senses and see and attach ourselves to the right path. Next week, we are told “Ki Teitzei..” and commentators point out that this again contains an allegorical message to our senses to engage the yetzer hara with all our might, and lastly, after one engages in a battle with the yetzer hara, he is ready for Ki Tavo, to enter the holiest land, Eretz Yisroel, that contains the greatest kedushah than any other land in the world.
Kingship in Our Times
In this week’s parashah the Torah discusses the laws of appointing a king over the Jewish People. It is difficult for us to imagine in our times what it means to have a Jewish king, as the Jewish monarchy has been defunct for some two thousand years. Yet, in some sense we are required to fulfill this mitzvah of appointing a king, as every Jew must attempt to perform the mitzvos that are within his abilities. The Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah 497) raises an obvious question. We know that once Dovid HaMelech was anointed as king of the Jewish People, there was no longer a mitzvah to appoint a king. This being the case, how could there be a mitzvah for future generations to anoint a king?
We are still under the Rule of Kings
The Chinuch answers that the mitzvah is not limited to appointing a king. Rather, included in the mitzvah is to appoint a new king when necessary, to establish the kingship of an heir to the previous king, to fear the king and to conduct oneself with the king according to the Torah’s instructions. These facets of the mitzvah are certainly prevalent forever. This idea described by the Chinuch also has its applications in our daily lives. In our current exile we are under the yoke of the local government, and the Gemara (Brachos 17a) states that it is our will to perform HaShem’s will. However, we are held back because of the seor shebiisah, the yeast in the dough, i.e. the Evil Inclination, and the subjugation of the gentile kings.
The Shabbos Connection
On Shabbos, however, we recite in Kegavna the words kad ayil Shabbsa ihi isyachadas viisparashas misitra achara vichol dinin misabrin minah, when the Shabbos arrives, she unified herself in Oneness and divests herself of the Other Side, [any trace of evil] all harsh judgments are removed from her. Thus, the Evil Inclination and the rule of the nations of the world cease to dominate us on the Holy Shabbos. Furthermore, the theme of Shabbos, which is reflected in the prayer of Kabbalas Shabbos which we recite at the onset of Shabbos, is the reign of HaShem, Who is the King of all kings. Thus, every week we are given the opportunity to, so to speak, appoint HaShem as our king, and no force in the world can prevent us from that wonderful opportunity. We are now in the month of Elul and we are preparing ourselves for the upcoming Days of Awe, when we will once again proclaim HaShem as our King and King of the whole world. It is worthwhile to reflect on the meaning of kingship and to realize that our true aspiration should be to have HaShem as our king, as we recite daily in Shemone Esrei hashivah shofteinu kivarishona viyoatzeinu kivatchila vihaseir mimenu yagon vaanacha umloch aleinu miheira atah HaShem livadcho bichesed uvirachamim, restore our judges as in earliest times and our counselors as at first; remove from us sorrow and groan; and speedily reign over us – You, HaShem, alone – with kindness and compassion.
Shabbos in the Zemiros
The composer was Dunash ben Librat, the famed medieval grammarian and paytan who lived from 4680-4750 (920990 C.E.). He was born in Baghdad and, except for twenty years in Fez, lived there his entire life. He was a nephew and disciple of Rabbeinu Saadiah Gaon and was acquainted with many of the Sages of his time. Rashi and Ibn Ezra quote him extensively. His name appears four times as the acrostic of the stiches in stanzas 1,2,3, and 6. This zemer is a prayer to HaShem to protect the Jewish People, destroy its tormentors, and bring the Nation peace and redemption.
נְתוֹץ צָרַי בְּאַף וְעֶבְרָה. שְׁמַע קוֹלִי בְּיוֹם אֶקְרָא, smash my foes with wrathful anger; hear my voice on the day I call. What is the association between HaShem smashing our foes and hearing our prayers? Perhaps the answer to this question is that it is said (Tzefaniah 3:14-15) רָנִּי בַּת צִיּוֹן הָרִיעוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל שִׂמְחִי וְעָלְזִי בְּכָל לֵב בַּת יְרוּשָׁלִָם: הֵסִיר יְ-ה-ו-ָה מִשְׁפָּטַיִךְ פִּנָּה אֹיְבֵךְ מֶלֶךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל יְ-ה-ו-ָה בְּקִרְבֵּךְ לֹא תִירְאִי רָע עוֹד, sing, O daughter of Tziyon! Sound the trumpet, O Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart. O daughter of Jerusalem! HaShem has removed your judgments; He has cleared away your enemy. The King of Israel, HaShem, is in your midst, you will never again feel evil. Thus, we see that when HaShem vanquishes one’s enemies, one exults and praises HaShem. When we acknowledge that HaShem is Almighty, we then turn to Him in prayer.
This Rebbe is OK!
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky writes: Often the readers of Faxhomily and Drasha send in stories from anthologies or personal reminiscences that I might be able to use in future faxes. Here is one that I received not long ago, though, unfortunately, I do not have the name of the author. He related the following revealing story: I remember my wife’s grandfather of blessed memory. He was a shochet (butcher), a Litvishe Yid (Lithuanian Jew). He was a very sincere and honest Jew. He lived in Kentucky, and later in life he moved to Cincinnati. In his old age he came to New York, and that is where he saw Chassidim for the first time. There were not too many Chasidim in Kentucky and Cincinnati. Once he went to a heart doctor in New York. While he was waiting, the door opened and a distinguished Chasidic Rebbe walked in accompanied by his gabbai (personal assistant). It seems that the Rebbe had a very urgent matter to discuss with the doctor, who probably told him to come straight into the office. The gabbai walked straight to the door and ushered the Rebbe in to see the doctor. Before going in, the Rebbe saw my grandfather waiting there. The Rebbe went over to my grandfather and said, “I want to ask you a favor. I am going to be with the doctor just one minute, if it’s okay with you. If it’s not okay with you, I won’t go in. One minute is all I need.” My wife’s grandfather said okay, and the Rebbe went inside. He was in there for a minute or so, and then he came back out. The gabbai was ready to march straight out the door, but the Rebbe walked over to him again, and said, “Was it okay with you? I tried hard to make it short. I think it was just a minute or two that I was there. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.” Later my wife’s grandfather said to me, “I don’t know much about Chassidim and Rebbes, but there’s one Rebbe that I could tell you is okay.”
Degradation for his Benefit
Rabbi Kamenetzky writes further: Rav Yosef Poesner was the son-in-law of the Nodeh B’Yehuda, the esteemed Rav of Prague. He was a brilliant scholar and an amazingly righteous individual. During his entire life, he seemed to be plagued by a nagging wife who would belittle him at every opportunity. After a brilliant lecture, she would come into the room, and belittle him. During meetings at which his opinion was prominently sought, she would serve the company food, but at the same time she made sure to deride him. During all these outbursts, he never said a word. He never defended himself. In fact, he hung his head low, as if to agree with her words of derision. Then, suddenly, he passed away. Hundreds came to the funeral. All of the gathered contrasted his greatness to the difficult life he had led, by being married to a shrew of a wife who was about to bury him. After the eulogies, his wife suddenly appeared before the coffin, crying uncontrollably. She begged his permission to speak and then burst into tears. “All these years,” she cried, “I fulfilled the adage that a loyal wife fulfills the wishes of her husband. And due to my loyalty and respect to you and your greatness, I did whatever you had asked me to. But now that you are in the world of the truth, I can finally say the truth.” She began to declare her respect for his greatness and humility, his piety and patience, his kindness and compassion. The people near the coffin were shocked to see this woman transformed into a loving, grieving widow. And then the true shock came. She continued her soliloquy. “Despite how difficult it was for me, I kept the promise and commitment you had asked me to make. Any time you were treated honorably, or were asked to fulfill a prestigious role, you told me to come in and belittle you as strongly as possible. You were afraid that the honor they afforded you would make you haughty. I only complied because that was your will!” “But now I can finally say the truth!” But that was only in front of people! “You know how much I appreciated and cherished you!” She continued to cry over the great tzaddik and lifelong companion she lost. The stunned grievers were shocked at the tremendous devotion of the Rebbetzin, who deemed herself a harrying nag all for the sake of her husband’s wishes. (www.Torah.org)
Shabbos in Halacha
הכנה – Preparing for a Weekday
Limitations to the Prohibition
Under the prohibition of preparing, one is only prohibited from performing genuine acts of preparation that bring about actual benefit. One would be permitted, however, to perform actions that merely prevent spoilage.
To illustrate this point: One is prohibited from cleaning a room that will no longer be occupied on Shabbos, for doing so simply prepares the room for a post-Shabbos function. Accordingly, if the Seudah Shlishis (the Shabbos afternoon meal) ends late and there is no purpose in having the room cleaned on Shabbos, one must refrain from cleaning off the table until Mo’tzai Shabbos. However, one is permitted to take perishable goods from the table and refrigerate them to avoid spoilage, despite the fact that these foods will not be eaten until after Shabbos.
Hashem madee a קנין (be’gematria 210) on Bnei Yisroel after redeeming them from Mitzraim for a time period of רדו (be’gematria 210), which spelled backwards is דור, a generation symbolic of hard work and slavery. A קנין in Torah also comes through back-breaking work to own the sugya. May Hashem initiate the final קנין in our days.