Dovid Weinberg – A Direct Descendant Of The Rama – Parsha Chaya Sara – The Need To Shed Tears For Our Fellow Brethren That Pass

It says in Bereishis 23:2, “Sarah died in Kiryat Arba, which is in Chevron, in the land of Canaan; and Avraham came to eulogize Sarah and to cry over her.” It seems from the Passuk that Avraham did the opposite of what most people do.  Most people first cry over the Niftar and then give their Hesped.

Why did Avraham do it in this order? Another question is why is the letter כ in the word ולבכתה written in a small size?

Maavor Yabok answers the question with the following explanation. The eulogy for the deceased serves an important purpose. The reason we have Hespedim is because it is very crucial for the person who was Niftar that the people listening as well as crying are opening the Gate of Tears, while redirecting the Din away from the Niftar. The Gemara in Berachos 32B says that Hashem never closes the Gate of Tears. In truth, the focus for the crying and the sadness that one is feeling should be focused on the spiritual loss of the person’s Neshama and not on the physical loss of the person’s body.

The Zera Shimshon says that the Torah wrote the letter כ small in the middle of the word to show that Avraham held back from crying over of the physical and only exhibited sadness regarding the loss of Sarah’s spiritual essence as well as his partner in life in making the world realize that Hashem is in the world, which was the subject of his eulogy.

There happens to be another explanation of why the Torah does not mention Avraham Avinu crying for his wife before the Hesped. We all know that when one hears about a tragic loss of a loved one, that tears come to their eyes automatically as this is a normal human reaction to a loss or tragedy. When Avraham Avinu learned that his beloved wife Sarah had passed away, he too had this reaction. This type of reaction was not considered an act of crying or mourning the death of Sarah Imenu, for this is what happens to everyone who hears tragic news. What the Torah is doing is explaining that Avraham Avinu’s reaction and the fact that he cried for his wife was something much greater and more meaningful than the natural reaction that every individual has when he/she is confronting a loss.

It is for this very reason that the Torah uses the word ולבכתה is to let all of us know that even after the days of mourning were over Avraham Avinu continued to cry for Sarah Imeinu every time he recalled all her good deeds, involvement in her household, and her fear of Hashem. It was this type of memory that would cause his eyes to well up with tears as well as when anyone mentioned her name, this even after the funeral, Hespedim and burial.

The question is, can we say the same thing about ourselves? We should also take this prime example from Avraham Avinu that this is how one should react when one hears about another Yid passing. Whether you knew the person or not, it is a loss for all Klal Yisroel as each one of us is an important component that makes up our Nation. With this we can connect ourselves with one another and reach a level of Achdus and herald the Final Geulah.

Dovid Weinberg – A Direct Descendant Of The Rama – Vayera – The Lesson Of Avraham

It says in Bereishis 22:12, “And He said, ‘Do not stretch out your hand toward the lad, nor are you to do anything to him, for now I know that you fear Hashem, and you did not withhold your son, your only one, from Me.’” We know that throughout Avraham Avinu’s life, doing the will of Hashem was his guiding light. Whatever Hashem asked Avraham Avinu to do was done.

The question is why was it until now that it became clear that Avraham did the Mitzvos out of love and fear of Hashem?

The Vilna Gaon answers that for a person to be considered to have absolute Yiras Hashem he must subjugate himself completely before Hashem, to dedicate all his talents, hopes and desires before the Will of Hashem.  Throughout the life of Avraham, he had never experienced fundamental conflict between his own inclinations and the Mitzvos of Hashem. We all know that Avraham Avinu was a profoundly good person with his hospitality, charity, and outreach in the name of Hashem and was in perfect harmony.

HaRav Meshulam Dovid Soloveitchik Shlita gives another explanation for the word “ממני.” He explains that when Hashem commands a person to do a certain Mitzvah then that very Mitzvah becomes infinitely more difficult to accomplish. The reason being is that when it comes to doing Mitzvos instantly a fierce adversary appears, the Yetzer Hara. This very principle rings true whether it is regarding sacrificing your own life or the life of your very own child. Per Rav Dovid, the trial of the Akeidah was immeasurably more difficult because Avraham was sacrificing Yitzchak to Hashem in compliance with His command. Therefore, this is the very reason that Hashem declared ‘Now I know that you are Hashem fearing Man, since you have not withheld your only son from Me.” The factor of “from Me” is what proved to Hashem extraordinary, unequivocal fear of Hashem beyond all doubt.

We also know that the Akeidah represents the opposite of Avraham’s entire being was for it was an act of cruelty. Nevertheless, Avraham suppressed this and occupied himself by setting about fulfilling the word of Hashem. The Akeidah was greatest test of them all for it shows how Avraham and Yitzchok were willing to act just to fulfill Hashem’s command. It was here that Hashem realized that everything that Avraham had done was in the Honor of Serving Hashem with total Ahavah and fear of Hashem.

The Akeidah has become a symbol of how far one should go to do the Mitzvos of Hashem. We should be willing to sacrifice ourselves just to do the Mitzvos of Hashem and it does not matter what that sacrifice is, whether it is financially, your health, and even your life.

The question now is how far are we willing to go to bring about a full sense of Achdus to all Klal Yisroel? What sacrifices are you willing to make and how far are you willing to go? These are the questions we should be asking ourselves in how we could make a difference in anyone in Klal Yisroel’s lives. If Avraham was willing to sacrifice his son Yitzchok to Hashem to show the Ahavah and Yirah to Hashem, we should be doing the same for God’s children, willing to go to great lengths to bring about Shalom to Klal Yisroel. With all of us willing to make such a sacrifice of ourselves for the sake of another member of Klal Yisroel, we should also remember what Avraham and Yitzchok have done for the Honor of Hashem and we should learn from them. Then Hashem will know that we just did our own Akeidah in the honor of Him and with that Hashem can finally bring about the Final Geulah.

Dovid Weinberg – A Direct Descendant Of The Rema – Lech Lecha – Giving And Receiving Blessings

It says in Bereishis 12:2-3, “And I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you, and I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. And I will bless those that bless you, and the one that curses you I will curse; and all the families of the earth will be blessed through you.”

It states in the Tosefta (Sofrim 21:9) that the “person great among giants” mentioned in Sefer Yehoshua 14:15 is referring to Avraham Avinu, whose eating and drinking was comparable to that of seventy-four people. Who are these seventy-four people? It says in Shemos 24:1 that when Klal Yisroel were encamped at Har Sinai, at the giving of the Torah, Moshe, Aharon, Nadav, Avihu and the Seventy elders were at the mountain and they saw Hashem and ate and drank, meaning they basked in the glow of the Shechinah. The Vilna Gaon says that these seventy-four people who “ate and drank” were the one’s equivalent to Avraham’s eating and drinking.

Reb Avraham Mordechai Alter the Rebbe of Gur brings a different explanation, that the seventy-four people correspond to those individuals mentioned in the Torah from Noach to Avraham. It says in the Mishnah Avos 5:2; that Avraham’s reward was equal to the ten generations from Noach until Avraham.

Let me now explain the words “and you will be a blessing” and “I will bless those who bless you.” In transmitting Brachos to people, it has the effect to rebound back to the original person who gave the Bracha. The Zera Shimshon gives insight to this rebound factor. It says in the Gemara Bava Kamma 92A that the one who davens for his friend, while needing the same thing will be answered first. The main idea is that if Hashem answered his Tefillos on behalf of his friend it will rebound back to the original supplicant. However, if Hashem did not answer the person’s Tefillos on behalf of his friend, then he too will not receive whatever it is that he lacks, although he will be rewarded for his efforts on behalf of the other person. What we see is that this is a two-way street, that receiving salvation is dependent on the second individual’s salvation.

The lesson we must take from here is that when one is davening, he should have in mind for others with total Ahavah for the individuals that he is davening on their behalf, similar to the Birchas Kohanim where the bracha is made with Ahavah. By always having in mind our fellow brethren, we can bring about true Achdus among Klal Yisroel.

Dovid Weinberg – A Direct Descendant Of The Rama – Remedying The Sins Of The Generation Of The Flood

It says in Beresheis 6:11-13; “And the Earth became corrupted before Hashem, and the Earth was filled with robbery. And Hashem saw the Earth, and behold, it was corrupted, for every living creature had corrupted its way upon the Earth. And Hashem said to Noach, ‘The end of all living creatures has come before Me, for the Earth is filled with robbery through them, and behold, I will destroy them from the Earth.’”

It says in Pirkei Avos 4:11 that our Chochamim tell us that when every person does an Aveira he creates an antagonist for himself in a form of a Malach of Destruction but it cannot harm this person until the sentence is passed in the Heavenly Beis Din. The Ohr Hachaim explains that this is forbearance which is preventing this Malach in harming the person prior to judgment. Once the person is judged and found guilty, the Malach that which you created through your Aveira is now free to wreck its devastation, so the person is in fact the author of his very own punishment.

There is a general rule, however, that when the sins of a person are so numerous as well as serious that the person’s guilt is a forgone conclusion, in that case the Malachim of Destruction are granted permission even before the sentence has passed. This was the fate of the Generation of the Great Flood, for their Aveiros were so numerous and serious that the Malachim of Destruction were unleashed before the generation was tried by the Heavenly Tribunal.

Rashi says their fate was sealed because of robbery. Why was robbery the one that sealed the Generation of the Great Flood more than any other Aveira that they committed?

The Zera Shimshon answers that because of thievery everyone was steeped in immorality as well. It says in Yalkut Shimoni Iyov: 909 that the people walked around without clothes on because thievery was so rampant that people were afraid to wear clothing for they feared someone would steal it off their backs. It would have been bad enough in the eyes of Hashem if people walked around immodestly because of an innate lack of tzniyus, but walking around without clothes because of a thievery issue was worse.

Another reason that thievery was the Aveira that caused that Generation total annihilation is because regardless of how serious the Aveiros that the entire generation committed, Hashem was prepared to deal mercifully with the people. However, since the people showed no mercy to other people when they robbed someone without the least compunction, they lost the benefit of all merciful treatment. It was because of this lack of mercy and care toward one another that sealed their fate.

What we must take from here is that now we that have begun the month of Mar Cheshvan we must continue to grow in the way that we were during all the Yomim Tovim of last month. All Klal Yisroel should continue to grow in Torah and Chesed and know that the total opposite of thievery is doing Chesed for one another. It’s also another way we can bring about Achdus among Klal Yisroel. If all Klal Yisroel acted on this, we can do the opposite of the Generation of the Flood and when Hashem sees us acting with Chesed with one another as well as unitying, Hashem will bring the Final Geulah.

Dovid Weinberg – A Direct Descendant Of The Rama – Breishis – Why Not Begin The Torah With The Letter Aleph? Emes And Beracha Intertwined

We have just finished the Yom Tov of Simchas Torah where we finished the Torah and we also began reading from Sefer Bresishis, so now we are ready to begin again. The Torah begins with the first passuk, “In the beginning Hashem created the Heavens and the Earth.” The Yalkut states that the Torah starts off with the letter Beis because it is the first letter to the word Berachah.  

The Zera Shimshon has a question and he brings it from Tehillim 119:160, “Rosh devarcha emes – Your very first utterance is emes, truth.” According to this,  it would seem to make more sense that the Torah should begin with the letter Alef which is the first letter of the word אמת. The word Emes is alluded to in the last letters of the words of ברא אלקים את, which spells Emes, truth. So you can see from here that one can read the passuk as saying, בראשית, “In the beginning the very first thing is אמת.” By doing this, the Torah is stressing the importance of the concept of truth from the very beginning. If that is the case then it would seem to be more appropriate for the Torah to begin with the letter Alef, which is alluding to the word Emes, so why in fact did Hashem choose the letter Beis, which is alluding to Berachah?

It may be said, however, that the word Emes is in fact hinted to in the word, בראשית, whose letters can be rearranged to form two words, Bayis and Rosh. Rosh alludes to the words in Tehillim 119:160, “Rosh devarcha emes,” and Bayis alludes to the letter Beis, which stands for Berachah, a blessing.   

Therefore, the Alef which stands for Emes and the Beis which stands for Berachah are eternally intertwined and the one that makes sure to live his life with total Emes will undoubtedly be Zocheh from Hashem to receive His Berachos.

Another thing that we can learn out from here is that the word Bayis which stands for house, can represent the interpersonal relationship one has with one’s spouse in that everything should be done with righteousness and Emes for then that person can be Zocheh to receive the Berachos from Hashem. So much more so for us all, if we dealt with each other with righteousness and Emes we would certainly reach the ultimate state of Achdus and  be Zocheh to receive the best Berachah from Hashem and that is the final Geulah Shelemah.

 

Dovid Weinberg – A Direct Descendant Of The Rama – Miketz And Chanuka

In this week’s parsha the Torah tells about a third famine that happened in the time of Yaakov Avinu.  The type of famine that occurred was a regional famine that threatened the lives of the patriarchal family. Yaakov was besieged with even further troubles. In addition to Yosef’s disappearance, another one of his sons Shimon was imprisoned in Mitzrayim. In response to the crisis, it says in the Midrash Tanchuma that Yaakov prayed: “May He Who said to the universe at the time of creation, ‘Enough!’ to my troubles.  I have had no rest since my youth –  troubles with Lavan, troubles with my brother Esav, the troubles of Rochel, Dina, Yosef, Shimon and now Binyamin.”  

Yet previously, when Yaakov requested tranquility, Hashem responded to Yaakov’s request according to how Rashi explains, Bereishis 37:2: “Is the reward that the Tzaddikim receive in Gan Eden insufficient that they even ask for reward in this world?  Since Yaakov asked for undue measure of tranquility, Hashem brought the troubles of Yosef upon Yaakov.” 

If Yaakov’s initial request for a peaceful existence resulted in bitter consequences, why does Yaakov again in this week’s parsha beseech Hashem for serenity?  The Patriarchs attained an aspect of Gan Eden even while living in this world.  However, they did not experience the higher level of absence of all sorrow and hardship.

Yaakov’s first prayer was striving for an existence that surpassed the conditions of Avraham and Yitzchak.  This was denied to him.  However, now this time Yaakov was not demanding that type of tranquility.  He realized that the kindness of Hashem would ultimately bring him a measure of good fortune that would bring him comfort for the turbulent episodes that happened during his lifetime.  

Therefore, Yaakov asked to balance out the tragedies of his life with blessing and goodness.  Indeed, this happened during his final years in Mitzrayim which were a time of peace, fulfillment and joy.  May we also gain enjoyment in our own lives by considering and applying Yaakov’s profound insight to our prayers and life experience.  Although life in this world cannot be totally free of all our troubles, we can daven to request to Hashem to balance out the hard times with good times.  

During the time of Chanukah, it is an important time to strive to grow in our Torah as well as Yiras and Ahavas Hashem. It is also an important lesson that we should learn from Yosef in how he survived such an immoral place like Mitzrayim for Yaakov taught Yosef how to survive in Galus. If we want to bring the Ketz (End) to this Galus we must strive to better ourselves and learn from one another. With this it can bring about a higher level of Achdus which in turn could bring about the Final Geulah. In the end, we should all witness the Lighting of the Menorah in the Third Beis HaMikdash in our time.  

This Dvar Torah is based on Toras Chaim of the Chasam Sofer.

 

Dovid Weinberg – A Direct Descendant Of The Rema – Parsha Vayishlach – The Name Of Avraham Versus The Name Of Yaakov

In this week’s parsha, the Torah tells us about the confrontation between Yaakov and Esav’s spiritual counterpart. Yaakov clung tenaciously to Hashem and prevailed. However, in the midst of the struggle, the Malach of Esav injured Yaakov in the hip. Subsequently, the Malach of Esav blessed Yaakov as it says in Bereishis 32:29; “No longer will it be said that your name is Yaakov, but Yisroel [will be your name], for you have striven with the divine … and you have overcome.”  Even though the Malach of Esav changed Yaakov’s name to Yisroel, the Torah in many places still refers to him as Yaakov.  In contradistinction, the Gemara in Berachos 13a states that Hashem was the one that changed Avram’s name to Avraham, and his name remained forever changed to Avraham and it is forbidden to call him by the name of Avram.  

Why by Yaakov when his name was changed it was not permanent? In the Gemara Nedarim 32b the Chochamim say tha Avram’s name has a numerical value of 243, signifying that Hashem initially gave Avraham mastery over 243 limbs of the body.  After his circumcision, he was given mastery over all 248 limbs of the body. The name of Avraham has a numerical value of 248, meaning that he was the total master of himself. Hashem blessed him so that the negative impulses would be powerless against him forever. On the other hand, the incident of Yaakov’s battle with the Malach of Esav foreshadows that the descendants of Esav will desire to destroy Klal Yisroel throughout the ages.  

The injury that Yaakov sustained signifies that all the righteous descendants of Yaakov will be endangered in each generation. Therefore, although Yaakov did prevail over the Malach of Esav, his victory did not mark a decisive defeat of Esav’s destructive force. Hence, Yaakov’s name change to Yisroel was not permanent, just as his victory was temporary.  

This incident that happened between the Malach of Esav and Yaakov conveys the message that no matter how many times we are endangered, we can triumph, just as Yaakov Avinu did. Moreover the Bracha and healing that Yaakov ultimately received signifies that the great light that will shine on us at the time of our redemption – when the dominance of Klal Yisroel will finally endure forever.

My own thought is that the lesson to remember is that the Yetzer Hara is the Malach of Esav. That the Yetzer Hara strikes when we least expect it and he tries to defeat us and to completely destroy us spiritually. It is it up to you to look for your inner “Yisroel” to prevail against him. The biggest thing that I see throughout Klal Yisroel and it is still a big problem is our own prejudice against one another. We should learn to more tolerant and accepting to help Klal Yisroel unite under one banner and this will be the ultimate defeat against the power of Esav and can bring the Final Geulah.  

This Dvar Torah is based on Etz Pri of the Steipler Gaon.

Dovid Weinberg – A Direct Descendant Of The Rama – Parsha Ki Teitzei – Building Your Home To Serve Hashem

It says in this week’s parsha, Devarim 22:8, “If you build a house, you shall make a fence for your roof, so that you will not place blood in your house if a fallen one falls from it.”  The Me’am Loez comments: That when a person is ready to build a new house, at the second the builders begin the construction, he should say, “I am having this house built so as to have a place to live in, and I will thus be able to serve Hashem.”  He will then have help from Heaven, and holiness will rest upon the house.  

When a person builds a house for the sake of Hashem, it is certain that Hashem will assist him, as it happened during the building of the first Beis HaMikdash in the time of Shlomo HaMelech.  Our Chochamim say that the stones for the first Beis HaMikdash miraculously placed themselves in their proper places.  Why did Shlomo HaMelech merit this very great miracle?  The answer is that Shlomo HaMelech built the first Beis HaMikdash for the sake of Hashem as the pasuk states in Melachim 5:19, “Therefore I have decided to build a House for the Name of Hashem, my G-d.”  

So too, if a person says at the time that he commences to build, “I am building this house in order to serve Hashem,” the holy influences will help in a concrete way.  Actually, before a person does anything, he should say “I am doing this with Hashem’s help,” and Hashem Himself will then help him.  This is what the pasuk means in Mishlei 3:6 “In all your ways know Him, and He will smooth your paths.”  This means that one should know Hashem with each and every action he does, because He is the one Who gives you the strength.  

When a person merits that the Shechinah rests in his house and on his actions, the powers of impurity will run from him.  Whenever there is help from Hashem, the powers of impurity have no permission to effect change.  Everything in this house will be protected from any negative influences, in fulfillment of the pasuk as it says in Tehillim 91:10 “No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent.”  

Therefore, if one constantly learns Torah in one’s home, the proximity of the Shechinah keeps things that are unholy from the house.  This is also true by a person who learns Torah constantly preventing him from falling into the Yetzer Hara’s trap thus keeping him pure.  The lesson is to strengthen learning Torah at home and to keep oneself occupied by having Torah thoughts throughout the day.

Dovid Weinberg – A Direct Descendant Of The Rama – Parsha Eikev – The Heart Of The Matter

In this week’s parsha the Torah speaks on how the heart is our spiritual center.  The Torah is instructing us to cut away the barrier to the heart (Deuteronomy 10:16). The Ramban comments: “Your should know the truth…and you should not err to think that there is any benefit in serving intermediate forces, such as Melachim, Avoda Zara, or the planets.”

After Klal Yisroel experienced the miracle of Yetzias Mitzrayim why would Klal Yisroel give credence to any power other than Hashem, the King of Kings and the Master of the Universe?

In this material world we know that Hashem’s radiance is hidden. Regardless of how clearly Hashem reveals Himself, once the revelation has passed, the Neshema is cast into darkness.  The nature of this “blackout” makes it impossible for humans not to err. You see that a person’s heart is vulnerable to all types of temptations and grasps at any force that seems attractive or powerful enough to benefit him.  

By Klal Yisroel, because of the special favor that we found in the eyes of Hashem, we have been endowed with the clarity to recognize the worthlessness of the un-Godly forces, despite the deceptive comfort of placing one’s Emunah in planets, Melachim, and the superstars. It is known that Hashem instilled a consciousness within every Jewish Neshema. Each person in Klal Yisroel knows that all these deceptive powers are unconditionally and totally subject to the divine will. Hence, Klal Yisroel has an inner light, a sensitivity that enables everyone in Klal Yisroel to distinguish between the truth and falsehood.  

We acknowledge this gift everyday in our morning Davening “Blessed is Hashem…Who separated us from those who stray from the truth.”  You see deep inside of each and everyone in Klal Yisroel’s Neshema we know the truth. However, we must open our hearts to connect with this inner awareness.  

Therefore, the pasuk instructs to “Cut away the barrier to your heart.” The people of Klal Yisroel must see beyond the smokescreen and reject the false persuasions. Then and only then we will be free to fully embrace the eternal Torah and it everlasting truth. This Dvar Torah is based on Da’as Torah of Yerucham Levovitz.  

 

Dovid Weinberg – A Direct Descendant Of The Rama – Parsha Va’etchanan

In this week’s parsha the Midrash states: “The one who merits wealth merits everything.  Under what circumstances is this so?  When the wealth he holds has been conferred by Heaven and is in the accordance with the Torah, then [the person who possesses the wealth is considered as if he has everything].  Conversely, if his wealth was sanctioned by Hashem, then it is considered as if the wealth was taken undeservedly.”

What the Midrash is teaching us is that there are two kinds of wealth: (1) divinely authorized and (2) wealth that is unauthorized by Hashem.  The question is how do we understand this distinction? The answer is that there are two types of divine reward that pertain to Tzaddikim: (1) reward bestowed in This World and (2) reward that is bestowed in Olam Haba.  Some Tzaddikim merit both types of reward.  When that is the case, the wealth they enjoy in this world is sanctioned by the Torah. This is the individual that the Midrash refers to – “the one who merits wealth merits everything.”  On the other hand, other Tzaddikim merit a share in Olam Haba, but do not attain wealth in this world.  If they hold wealth in this world, it has to come to their hands against accepted Torah principles.

The Midrash provides an illustration of wealth that was inappropriately attained.  The Shevatim of Gad and Reuven requested a portion of land across the Jordan River.  When Moshe heard this from them he felt disturbed by their willingness to separate themselves from their brothers. He also perceived that they assigned more importance to their material concerns than their spiritual endeavors.  Moshe therefore insightfully concluded that their yearning for material possessions indicated that their wealth was not divinely sanctioned.  Therefore, the Midrash reveals the importance of evaluating our relationship to materialism.  

Essentially, we must be certain that all our financial affairs are in accordance with Torah practice and thought.  If Klal Yisroel does so, then we can be assured that the wealth that we receive in this world is sanctioned by Hashem. This is based on Ohr Rashbaz of the Alter of Kelm.