Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

27 Teves 5764 - January 21, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Oleinu Leshabei'ach -- on Sefer Shemos

Volume II of Oleinu Leshabei'ach on Sefer Shemos was released last year. The series in progress consists of divrei mussar and chizuk said by HaRav Yitzchok Zilberstein and rendered into book form by R' Moshe Michoel Tzoran. Preceded by the popular series Tuvchoh Yabi'u, the new series includes new stories and anecdotes from gedolei hador as well as a collection of sheilos utshuvos on topical matters.

The volume on Shemos also brings hundreds of stories from gedolei hador in language that speaks to the heart. Each volume ends with a section containing sheilos utshuvos, providing halachic rulings regarding various problems that often arise today. The topics covered in the volume on Shemos range from beis haknesses, krias haTorah and brochos to Shabbos, loans and tzedokoh and ma'aser gelt; from bikur cholim and nichum aveilim to hilchos seudah, Bircas Hamozone and hilchos shecheinim. This section even includes responsa on questions related to the terrorist attacks in Eretz Yisroel today.

The questions are notable for dealing with "burning issues." The following are excerpts from Volume II.

The Case of the Burned Bible

He is considered a leading expert in his field. In these trying times sappers are in high demand in every army and in every country. The wars being waged between various countries in every part of the world have brought those trained to neutralize explosives to the top of the list of military professions.

His first name is Yaakov. Just about everyone in Northern Israel knows him. He is the first to arrive at the scene of every suspicious object and at every incident where armed personnel take part, to ensure the area is sterile--i.e. free of booby traps, bombs and other hazardous devices.

He has already made hundreds of such calls. He knows the police robot dispatched to explode suspicious objects -- purses, travel bags, and unclaimed packages left along the way -- like the back of his hand. Yaakov is a well-known figure in northern towns and settlements and when he arrives in his large van marked, Chablan Mishtarti ("Police Sapper"), everyone knows that in a few minutes the roads will be blocked and Yaakov will start surveying the scene with his robot.

Yaakov was not observant until a certain incident that instantly persuaded him to start laying tefillin. The security personnel who have worked with him for years noticed the change right away. Since he was respected as a man of high seriousness, his friends and acquaintances recognized that his recent efforts to come closer to G-d should not be dismissed as a fly-by-night affair and took a keen interest in his story.


Over the years Yaakov detonated hundreds of suspicious objects in cities and remote settlements during the course of his police and military work. At a certain point he began to take note of a very peculiar phenomenon. "Every time I was summoned to blow up a suspicious bag," he says, "after the robot did its bidding, if there were tefillin or sifrei kodesh in the bag I would find they had been undamaged by the explosion. They would remain intact. Every single time."

This phenomenon defied explanation. Each and every time, the holy articles would emerge from the charred remains entirely unscathed. Yet somehow he still did not arrive at the inescapable conclusion that there is a hand guiding all of Creation. Today he cannot explain why he failed to wake up to these incidents and draw closer to the G-d of Israel. But an incident that occurred at a settlement near the Lebanese border tipped the scales.

Yaakov was called in to neutralize an unidentified bag that looked particularly suspicious. Arriving in his van he prepared the equipment, sent all of the onlookers to a safe distance and proceeded to explode the suspicious article. Soon thereafter he found that the bag in question, as in almost every other case, was someone's harmless personal belongings. Yaakov sighed in relief and after thoroughly examining all of the contents, he was about to return to his headquarters when he noticed a Tanach. Unlike all of the previous cases, the book was burned from cover to cover. The verses were almost totally unreadable.

Yaakov stopped in his tracks. He had never encountered such a sight. Why had the Tanach burned on this occasion? He took a better look, turning the book over and over, but because of the charred remains he was unable to discern anything unusual. The renowned sapper was just about to attribute it to chance when he noticed small letters engraved on the back cover. The letters were so small they could barely be seen, but straining his eyes he saw the Tanach was actually a copy of the "New Testament."

His heart skipped a beat. Now everything became clear to him. He knew there was a Creator. One hour later Yaakov arrived at the home of a rov he knew in the area and asked him to order a pair of tefillin. The next day he arrived at Shacharis, head and arm adorned with the new tefillin.

Av Beis Din Struck with Inspiration

A dayan who handles a case earnestly merits tremendous siyata deShmaya in all of his endeavors and receives Heavenly guidance to reach the truth of the matter. Observers are often astounded at the ideas that pop up in botei din, ideas so sophisticated even veteran investigators do not think of them. This is illustrated by the following story, heard from an extremely reliable source, about a case brought before Rav Yitzchok Yaakov Weiss, author of Minchas Yitzchok and former av beis din in Jerusalem.

A certain Jew demanded a large sum of money from a second party, who had allegedly borrowed the money and had not yet repaid it. The defendant denied the claim outright. "I have not borrowed a single agorah from him, my entire life," he declared. The dayanim asked the claimant if he had a shtar chov, whereupon he whisked a promissory note bearing the defendant's signature and listing all of the details presented in the case.

When the shtar was presented to the defendant, he admitted it bore his original signature, but continued to insist he had not loaned any money from the claimant, declared the note a forgery from beginning to end and said he had no idea how his signature had come into the other man's hands.

Apparently the case should have been decided in favor of the claimant since even the defendant admitted the signature was his, but the Av Beis Din, sensing justice was on the side of the defendant, asked for some time to think.

The next day Rav Weiss told the defendant to approach the bench and asked him to bring several books from his bookcase at home. Although unable to fathom the reason for the request, the defendant did as he was told. The Av Beis Din opened each book to the first page and saw that the defendant had a habit of writing his name not on the top of the page but in the middle.

"Did the claimant ever borrow a book of any kind from you?" he asked the defendant. Straining to think, he did recall that many years ago he had loaned the claimant a book. "Go home and bring the book here," the Av Beis Din instructed. When the book arrived the first page was found to be missing.

Now everything was clear. The claimant was a big shyster and when he saw the name of the book-lender written in the middle of the page he decided to tear out the entire page, write a promissory note on the blank space above and later come to beis din flourishing the alleged borrower's original signature.

How did this brilliant idea come to the Av Beis Din's mind? Only through the Divine promise given to Jewish dayanim to reach the truth with help from Above.

Today as well, faithful Torah Jews can see this special power granted to dayanim to see what other people cannot. This is the power of Torah, and this is the power of all of Am Yisroel.

HaRav Eliashiv Notes Forgery at a Glance

And I have another story that attests to the Heaven-sent supernatural powers given to truth-seeking dayanim to enable them to rule and bring the truth to light in the best possible manner. I recall an incident that occurred to Maran HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv, shlita, when a certain shtar reached his hands and he instantly identified it as a forgery.

I was present at the time and asked HaRav Eliashiv how he knew the shtar was fake. "Can't you see it's forged?" he replied, adding, "The shtar is written in red ink."

I reexamined the shtar and was quite surprised at HaRav Eliashiv's remarks, for to me the ink appeared to be black. Maran told me to take another look, and then I saw that there were, in fact, several different shades of red and black, proof that someone had tried to forge it by writing on top of other writing.

A subsequent inquiry indeed proved HaRav Eliashiv correct. Hardly speaking a word, he recognized the shtar to be a fake with amazing ease. This is the way the world appears to a dayan when "Elokim nitzov ba'Edas Kel."

All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.