HaRav Dovid Cohen, rosh yeshiva of Chevron Yeshiva and a member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, delivered a halacha shiur at the Yerushalayim Yarchei Kallah of American Agudas Yisroel. He also spoke on non-halachic matters, including a short hesped for HaRav Moshe Shapira zt"l and chizuk for the Shovevim period. The following is not a full report but rather the notes taken by someone listening to the shiur.
I know that a lot of people in America had contact with HaRav Moshe Shapira zt"l. HaRav Moshe Shapira had a kind of gadlus that is not common on our time. He had greatness in all areas of nigleh, including Kodshim, Taharos, Noshim, Nezikim. He said shiurim in all areas, with mastery of all details and penetrating to the depth of each and every area. He had a mastery of the nigleh of the Torah with complete iyun throughout.
He also had a mastery of the machshovoh and the pnimiyus of Torah. His achievements in this area boggle the mind. His mastery of the writings of the Gra not only in Mishlei but also in Sefer Yetzirah and Safra Detzniusa and Tikkunei Zohar. He knew all the works of the Maharal, with deep understanding and dikduk in his leshonos. He had a truly unusual mastery of the works of the Arizal, with full iyun and understanding. Also the works of the Leshem, which he considered one of the sifrei yesod of this area. He also had a thorough knowledge of the sifrei Chassidus. He used to say that there is an area of Komarno chassidus and a different area of Chabad chassidus, Peschischa, Rav Tzodok, and much more. All of this was with a thorough iyun which is hard to grasp.
He opened the gates of machshovoh for thousands of bnei Torah and chareidi Jews. He was unique in this generation in bringing this area to thousands.
He had unusual abilities. But he also put in a tremendous amount of work and toil in Torah. I do not know when he slept or ate for years and years. And he was on fire to pass on this Torah to Klal Yisroel. He said maybe 30 shiurim a week in all areas of Torah.
Rav Moshe was a gevaldig man of emes. He hated sheker. He hated the people of sheker. He hated sheker in learning. The posuk in Tehillim (119) says, Sheker soneisi vo'asa'eivoh, Sorosecho ohavti. We see that Torah is the opposite of sheker: The result of hating sheker is loving Torah.
The Malbim says one cannot have ahavas Torah without hating sheker. Sheker soneisi vo'asa'eivoh, Sorosecho ohavti.
Without ahavas Torah one cannot understand how anyone could come to such a romemus as Rav Moshe did.
People speak about his anivus. I do not think he was an onov. He simply hated kovod. He considered it all illusory. Nothing is real except Torah. He hated all illusion. He had contempt for the olom hachitzoni. In Mesillas Yeshorim it says: Ein kovod elo Torah. What is kovod? Kovod is romemus. A person is elevated through Torah. All the illusions are not kovod.
Emes burned like a fire in him and he tried to spread it.
One short point I would like to make. Vayivoseir Yaakov levado. Said Rav Berachya: Ein kokeil. Umi koKeil? Yeshurun. There is nothing like Hashem just Yeshurun. Who is that? Yisroel Saba — Yaakov Ovinu. What does it say of Hashem: Venisgav Hashem levado bayom hahu. Also of Yaakov it says: Vayivoseir Yaakov levado.
What does this mean? In which way is Yaakov like Hashem. Rav Yeruchom discusses this. He writes, What is `Venisgav Hashem levado'?
At the beginning of Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah the Rambam says, Hashem made all creatures. Hashem made everything that exists. All the creatures need Him and He does not need them. This is what the posuk means, Hashem Elokim emes. He is emes and there is no emes like his emes.
What is emes? If one has his own existence, that is emes. One who is dependent on another, does not have real existence. Hashem's existence is not dependent on anything else. The Rambam says: This is what is meant by the posuk, Venisgav Hashem levado, Ein old milevado.
Reb Yeruchom says: What is an ish emes? One who is self-contained, one who is not dependent on any other.
We know our limitations. We are dependent on our families. We are dependent on others. We need other people in ruchniyus and gashmiyus. We constantly think about what others will think or say about us.
This is not true spiritual life. A person should be independent. It says Vayivoseir Yaakov levado. It is well known that Yaakov Ovinu's middoh is emes. Titein emes leYaakov. This is reflected in, Vayivoseir Yaakov levado. Yaakov is not dependent on anyone else. He goes only with what he knows to be emes and not on anything else. He only cared for emes. In this he was a reflection of Maaloh.
Rav Moshe was a gevaldig man of emes. Emes burned in him. He was fiercely independent. He was never machnif to anyone. He always simply followed the emes just because it was emes. This was a derech that produced such a great man.
It the sefer Aliyos Eliahu it asks how the Gaon reached his tremendous madreigoh. We cannot compare ourselves to the Gaon. We have no grasp of what the Gaon was. Rav Chaim Volozhiner discussed whether the Gaon was like the Ramban or like the Rashbo. We have no concept of either the Ramban or the Rashbo. They are both way beyond our comprehension.
But according to our concepts, Rav Moshe lived a live of Vayivoseir Yaakov levado — he was on one side and the whole world was on the other side. He cared only for emes and hated sheker.
In Aliyos Eliahu it says that the path that leads to the House of G-d is the search for emes. The bakkoshas hoemes. It says that the Gaon was connected only to emes and to the Ribono Shel Olom. He was totally torn away from all the blandishments of Olom Hazeh and was only connected with Hashem and His Torah.
It is only with such a burning ahavas ho'emes that one can come to such a dargoh. Complete dedication to emes and totally cut off from the sheker of the world, is the only way to come to such a connection to Torah. Rav Moshe translated this madreigoh into a life in our time, Vayivoseir Yaakov levado.
May the gates that he opened raise up the whole world of Torah. By the "world of Torah" I do not mean only the bnei yeshivos. We see here so many whose trade is not Torah, but still have a connection to Torah. May his achievements serve to raise it all.
One of the outstanding things that could be said of HaRav Moshe Shapira is that he lived emunah. In all aspects of life he lived emunah.
The parshos that we are reading now are the basis of emunah. Shovevim, says the Sheloh, starts from Shemos until Terumah. It covers yetzias Mitzrayim, matan Torah, Krias Yam Suf. These are the foundations of the emunah of Klal Yisroel.
The gemora in Makkos says, "Torah tzivoh lonu Moshe." The gematria of Torah is 611. That is because 611 mitzvos were given by Moshe. Onochi and Lo Yihiyeh we heard from Hashem. What is the content of these two mitzvos? The Gra and the Maharsha say that it is emunah. And emunah is the foundation of all mitzvos.
The gemora says, Dovid came and was ma'amid all the mitzvos on 11. Yeshaya was ma'amid them on 6. Nochum was ma'amid them on 3. Then Chabakuk came and was ma'amid them all on one: Tzaddik be'emunoso yichyeh.
The Gaon and the Maharsha there say: The foundation of the entire Torah is emunah. Onochi is not a history of what happened. Hashem himself, as it were, told us that this is the basis of it all. A tzaddik who keeps the Torah is only on the basis of emunah. These days when we read these parshos are the days of emunah.
in Orchos Chaim it says at the end of Day 1: To be botei'ach in Hashem with all your heart and to believe in His Hashgochoh Protis. He speaks of emunah together with bitochon. What is this combination?
In his sefer Emunah Ubotochon, the Chazon Ish says: Emunah is bekoach (potential). Bitochon is bepo'el (actual). One who has emunah must bring this principle into reality. How does the maamin live with emunah? By living with bitochon.
How does one live with bitochon?
The Rosh says: to believe in His Hashgochoh Protis. One who lives with emunah lives with bitochon. What is bitochon? To believe in Hashgochoh Protis.
The yesod of bitochon, is not to trust that it will be good, meaning what we want. The true bitochon is to believe that everything that one encounters comes from Hashem. One gets what is coming to him. No more and no less. No one can take away from someone else what is coming to him. And no one can prevent someone from receiving his due.
Any problem or pain that one has, whether it is in health or parnossoh or any other area, it is all measured out exactly by Hashem. Everyone comes from His Hashgochoh Protis.
The Rosh says: His eyes survey the entire world and watch the actions of man and he discerns a person's innards.
Whoever does not believe that Hashem took us out of Mitzrayim and Onochi is not a maamin.
What does it mean that one must no only believe in Onochi but also in the fact that He took us out of Mitzrayim?
HaRav Isaac Chover writes: Yetzias Mitzrayim is the foundation of Hashgochoh Protis. All the makkos in Mitzrayim showed Klal Yisroel the Hashgochoh Protis of HaKodosh Boruch Hu, that He is not only a Creator of the world, but he has Hashgochoh Protis. That is what Yetzias Mitzrayim showed.
Onochi says that Hashem is with us. But we also have to know that He took us out of Mitzrayim. Emunah is not only to believe in a Creator of the world. It is also be believe in Hashgochoh Protis. And to believe in Hashgochoh Protis is to live with bitochon.
And that is why the mitzvah of emunah is: Onochi Hashem Elokecho asher hotzeisicho mei'Eretz Mitzrayim.
And the Rosh continues: Because this is the uniqueness of Yisroel of all other nations, and this is the yesod of the entire Torah.
Hashgochoh Protis is a unique feature of Klal Yisroel. Goyim do not have Hashgochoh Protis. They are only supervised for the needs of Klal Yisroel. The Creation is for Klal Yisroel. And this is the foundation of all Torah: Tzaddik be'emunoso yichyeh.
These are the principles of the entire Torah, and this is the time suited to work on them.