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8 Tishrei 5769 - October 7, 2008 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Opinion & Comment
Let Us Rejoice And Be Happy With This Torah — Stories and Anecdotes Excerpted from Sorosecho Sha'ashu'oi

[An excerpt from Toda'ah (Parshas Vayeilech, 5754)]

Rejoice On Your Festivals, You, Your Son and Your Daughter

The Rambam writes (Hilchos Yom Tov 17-18), "A person must be happy and glad of heart on [the festivals] he himself, his wife and his children . . . each of them with something suitable for them. For women, one should buy clothes and fine jewelry etc."

Someone close to HaRav Shach related: "Once on erev Succos, our master gave me an envelope and told me, `This is yours!' I thought there was a letter or something similar inside. I opened it and found three hundred dollars there. I was dumbfounded.

`Rosh Yeshiva, what is this?' I asked him.

He told me, `You led the davening very well on Rosh Hashonoh. You deserve payment!'

`Rosh Yeshiva! Should I take money for being chazzan?'

`I'm telling you its honest money,' he said. `Take it with a clear conscience.'

`Rosh Yeshiva, I won't touch that money!'

`I'm telling you to take it without a fuss. It's from me,' he responded.

`I won't touch it,' I said.

The Rosh Yeshiva stroked me and said, `It's erev Yom Tov. Maybe you need something at home? . . . Buy something for your family. Maybe your wife needs something?'

`Rosh Yeshiva, I want a blessing!'

`A blessing one thing and money is another,' he said and continued, `Listen, buy something nice for your wife to wear for Yom Tov. Take it. Listen to what I'm telling you . . .' He said it in such a fatherly way!

Of course I shrugged in refusal: `Chas vesholom. Nothing. Just a gutte brochoh' "

Make Yourself the Festival of Succos!

Rav Partzovitz relates: "When our master was living in Yerushalayim's Kerem neighborhood, I saw him on erev Succos carrying a load of branches for sechach down Rechov Geulah (today Rechov Malchei Yisroel). He had already been appointed rosh yeshiva of Ponovezh but he still lived in Yerushalayim. I hurried over and asked him if I could take the sechach from him but he wouldn't let me.

" `I can take it myself,' he said. `I'm stronger than you.'

"I thought to myself, `Nu, he doesn't let me take it because of his humility — he doesn't want to derive benefit from his standing as a talmid chochom. He says that he can take it himself and I can see with my own eyes that he can. But as for being stronger than me . . . I am young and he is middle aged. How can he, the paragon of truth, say something that isn't true?'

"Much later, when I heard Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz' idea on `he made his heart one and rolled away the stone,' about the power of a person's will that can increase his strength, I realized that our master had been speaking the plain truth. He did have more strength than me because he had stronger a will and greater enthusiasm for the mitzvah!"

Rejoice Before Hashem . . .for Seven Days

We learn (Succah 41), "This was the custom of the men of Yerushalayim. A person would leave his house carrying his lulav; he went to the beis haknesses carrying his lulav; he said krias Shema and prayed carrying his lulav . . . What does this teach us? It tells us how eager they were to do mitzvos."

HaRav Shach asked his uncle HaRav Isser Zalman Meltzer zt'l, that if they went to shul carrying their lulavim, they fulfilled the mitzva of taking lulav before they prayed, yet we rule that, `A mitzva that is performed more frequently comes before one that is done less frequently.'

Rav Isser Zalman replied that the Netziv asserted that even though the mitzva of lulav can be fulfilled by picking up the arba minim momentarily, every subsequent taking is also fulfillment of the mitzvah since the posuk tells us, "and rejoice before Hashem . . . for seven days" (Vayikra 23:60) [i.e. all taking of the lulav during this time fulfills the mitzvah]. (Similarly, the Netziv maintains that all matzoh eaten on the seder night fulfills the mitzvah of eating matzoh because the posuk says, "you shall eat matzos in the evening" (Shemos 12:18).)

The men of Yerushalayim were therefore fulfilling the mitzvah from daybreak until nightfall. A frequently occurring mitzvah only takes precedence over a non-frequent one if delaying the latter will not result in its being lost. Here, where the mitzvah can be fulfilled every moment [and every moment's delay means missing some of it], there is no need to wait past the first time it can be done. One should take the lulav early on and keep it with him for as long as one can.

I Have Never Been a Man of Words

Rashi (Shemos 4:10) explains, "We learn that Hakodosh Boruch Hu enticed Moshe for seven days by the bush to accept His mission . . . the reason for his reluctance was that he was unwilling assume a greater position than that of his brother Aharon who was both his senior and a prophet . . ."

HaRav Boruch Shmuel Deutsch relates: "One Simchas Torah, it was suggested to our master that since he didn't usually go to daven in the yeshiva on Simchas Torah, he should daven in one of the batei knesses in the yeshiva's proximity. He refused and explained, `I know that they'll accord me honor there, which is really due to the rov of the shul'!

This, despite the fact that that rov was not only willing to forgo his own honor but had actually personally invited our master to come and daven there."

And Yosef Sustained His Father and Brothers

One of his talmidim relates: "I remember one year when one of the bochurim who was supposed to have been among those helping our master to put the sechach on his succah, arrived in a state of alarm because he was late. Our master told me that he'd waited for this bochur and had not completely finished putting up the sechach, even though other bochurim had wanted to help him finish, because he thought that this bochur might arrive late and be upset to see that they had finished the succah. He therefore left an area for him to help with. There's a lot to learn from such a story."

And When You Lie Down

HaRav Meir Heisler relates: "Our master once showed us a difficult piece of Ramban in Bava Kama. The following day he met me and asked me, `Have you eaten breakfast?' I told him that I had.

"He asked, `And did you sleep well?'

" `Boruch Hashem,' I replied.

" `Aren't you ashamed to admit it?' he asked in amazement. `Yesterday I showed you a difficult passage of Ramban in Milchamos!'

"He told me how many sleepless nights he'd had because of that question. `And you can sleep well and calmly eat breakfast . . .?' "

Dwell On it Day and Night

HaRav Eliyahu ben Shlomo relates: "A certain communal matter once had to be attended to and someone suitable was found for the job. He was unwilling to accept the task though, unless our master specifically instructed him to do so. He argued that if he became involved in it his learning would suffer.

"Our master agreed to speak to him and told him, `Listen and I'll tell you something. While I was teaching in Bnei Brak and living in Yerushalayim, I used to travel along the old, narrow, winding road. One day, while we were driving around some sharp curves, the driver steered towards an abyss while talking to one of the passengers. Everyone worried about him taking his attention away from the road and one passenger rebuked him, `Stop talking and concentrate on your driving!'

"The driver replied, `Don't worry, I'm reliable . . .'

"HaRav Shach laughed and said, `If the posuk (Yehoshua 1:8) instructs us to 'dwell on [Torah] day and night,' it is testimony that one can be immersed in learning literally all day and night, without anything else diverting one's attention. I wouldn't advise you to be immersed in learning while you drive but with that exception, you can learn under any circumstances!' And he instructed him to accept the task."

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