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5 Av 5761 - July 25, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Bein Hazmanim

by HaRav Meir Kessler

There are three main reasons for allowing a period of bein hazmanim for yeshivas:

1) A person requires rest and a break from his daily toil, whether the toil of work and ol parnossoh which is a result of the decree "bezei'as apecho tochal lechem" which was the response to the cheit of Odom Horishon, or whether it is from the amal haTorah which, even though it is the foundation of the world and is the purpose of creation, it also has its source in the cheit of Odom Horishon. If not for this cheit, the crown of Torah would be more easily reached and without so much toil, similar to what we see by animals which do not have to toil for their food and therefore do not have a need for any vacation.

2) The gemora says that Rovo asked his talmidim not to come to learn from him during the days of Nisan and Tishrei, which are days of harvest and manufacturing, so that they should take care of their parnossoh in those periods. By doing so they could sit and learn with peace of mind, free from the worries of parnossoh which one is burdened with. This is also one of the reasons for bein hazmanim: in order to give us time to take care of all those things which we do not get around to during the zman, including personal affairs or repairs in the home, and the many other things that come up.

I would like to point out that besides the material aspects of the home, bein hazmanim is a golden opportunity to build and strengthen family unity on solid foundations; both between ourselves and between us and our children. When the parents and children are together on vacation, each one from his learning or work, one can use this opportunity to sit with the children with peace of mind and soul and to give them more personal attention, which they unfortunately may not receive during the year due to responsibilities and distractions. At the same time we can strengthen and enhance the sholom bayis which is something we do not always get around to in our daily routine.

3) The Torah wants us to learn Torah in such a way that it is always kechodosh. On the posuk in Chumash: "Asher Onochi metzavecho hayom," Chazal tell us the following: "Bechol yom yehiyu be'einecho kechadoshim -- every day it should seem to us as if new and fresh."

However, when a person learns for a long period in the same framework and with the same chavrusah, he finds it hard to keep up the feeling of hischadshus, because the force of routine weakens the feeling of hischadshus. Therefore our gedolim zt"l instituted this break of bein hazmanim in which, by resting a while and changing surroundings, one can start again with fresh kochos and achieve a madreiga of new simcha in avodas Hashem.

We see however that, sadly, in this generation there are some that have missed the point. The term vacation means to them having fun and indulging in all types of worldly pleasures. These people go to places which are full of crowds and noisy attractions. In this way they are definitely defeating the Torah purpose of vacation.

In such public places it is impossible to have peace of mind and rest. One is active all day and late into the night with all types of "time killers." In such a lifestyle, of noise and disorder, it is impossible to strengthen any bonds with one's spouse and children. More likely, the opposite will happen, because in new strange places one usually feels unsettled and very not at ease, especially the children. And when the "sweet" vacation comes to an end, one returns home tired and exhausted, with barely energy to unpack. Where are the fresh kochos? What is the benefit derived from this vacation?

Let us therefore examine carefully how we use these vacation days, deriving from them the best we can in ruchniyus and gashmiyus.

We must realize the terrible dangers that lie behind such indulging in worldly pleasures.

One can forget one's learning (and even completely stray off the path, Rachmono litzlan). Chazal tell us about the holy Tanna, Rebbe Elozor Ben Aroch. Once he indulged himself by drinking some special wine and bathing in some attractive springs. Due to this he forgot his learning to the extent that, instead of reading "hachodesh hazeh lochem" he read "hacheresh hoyoh libom."

His intention in indulging in these pleasures was purely to renew his strength for serving Hashem. However, due to his exceptional lev tov (as it says in Pirkei Avos) he made a slight pegam in the purity of his heart.

Hearing this, what can we say about small people like ourselves? How careful we must be not to go over the border!

Should one already have decided on going to a holiday resort, take care, and even more so, guard your children, guard their pure neshomos! Take care who they associate with and consider what effect these people will have on them.

In Eichoh, Yirmiyohu Hanovi laments:

"Eichoh yu'am zohov, yishge hakesem hatov, tishtapeichno avnei kodesh, berosh kol chutzos. How has the gold dimmed, the fine gold become dull. The holy stones are poured out into the prominent places throughout the streets."

Rashi explains that the avnei kodesh are the sons who shine like diamonds and gold. How their appearances have changed -- they are roaming the streets. And further on it says, "Bnei Tzion hayekorim, hamesulo'im bapoz, eichoh nechshevu lenivlei cheres, the dear children of Zion, lined with gold, how have they now become considered like worthless pieces of pottery shards." Rashi explains in a similar vein to the first quotation, that the Bnei Tzion who were so dear, "hamesulo'im bapoz," who are compared to poz and gold since they have such pure faces, have now left all this and turned into "cheres hanishbar."

Chazal say that a talmid chochom is normally compared to a golden pitcher. But after chatting with an am ho'oretz, he becomes like an earthenware pitcher which has no takonoh but smashing it.

Who is this am ho'oretz which connection with him is so mesukon? The gemora says, "Who is considered an am ho'oretz? R' Yonoson ben Yosef says: One who has sons and does not educate them to learn Torah." From here we see that to be mischaber to a person who does not send his sons to learn Torah in yeshiva is dangerous, to the extent that from a kli zohov one turns into cheres hanishbar, which has no takonoh.

This is something that is seen just too often. When returning from vacation, many people, especially bochurim and children, are on a much lower madreiga in Yiddishkeit and hardly manage to return to their original madreiga even after a long time.

Therefore we must be chachomim. We must choose locations that are quiet and modest so that we should rest properly menuchas haguf vehanefesh, and spend more time with our families, being mechazek them in Torah and yiras Shomayim. This can be done by going for a short and simple, but enjoyable, stroll. Even close by one can show the family the wonders of Hashem which lie behind every plant and bird. It is well known that gedolei Yisroel, among them HaRav Itzele, the brother of the Chazon Ish, would set aside time to contemplate the niflo'os haBorei and through that they would remember pesukim and divrei Chazal which linked to whatever they were contemplating.

Above all, one must remember that even in times of vacation we do not chas vesholom skip over being shomrei Torah umitzvos. We must be aware that we should always consider mitzvah kalah kechamurah and not abandon any halocho or minhag. Extra care must be taken to be kovei'a itim for Torah learning. One of the great roshei yeshivos suggested that it would be correct to set aside more time for mussar and cheshbon hanefesh during this period.

The One Above should help us to utilize the bein hazmanim for menuchas hanefesh and to reach even higher levels of ruchniyus and to educate our children in the derech haTorah. By doing so we should be zocheh to what it says: "Ein peretz ve'ein yotzeis ve'ein tzevocho birchovoseinu (Tehillim 144)."

HaRav Meir Kessler is the rov of Kiryat Sefer.

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