Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

6 Ellul 5760 - September 6, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








Sponsored by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Produced and housed by

Opinion & Comment
The Four Amos of Halocho

by HaRav Aviezer Piltz

The following hesped for Shmuel Yoel Greenhaus zt'l, a yeshiva student recently killed in a car accident near Kiryat Sefer, was given at the end of the shiva. This presentation is based on the notes of one of the listeners. It is an inspiring his'orerus for Elul and the new zman.

In the first part, HaRav Piltz explained that in contemplating even the short life of such a ben aliya we have to realize that what he was doing, the life he lived in the four amos of halacha toiling in Torah and elevating himself -- that is the purpose of the world today. That life is what Hashem wants. Someone who lives like that should not say, "What will I do in the end?" but should realize that his life is the ultimate desire of Hashem today.

Part II: Toras Chessed -- Chessed of Torah

There is another point interwoven with this. The pillar of chessed is an additional pillar that we have, and it too receives its spiritual power from the pillar of Torah.

Chessed itself has several levels. One person does a chessed with some material detail for another person who needs that detail. Surely this attribute of chessed is valueless and limitless. A person attracts immense rachamim when he does a chessed for another person.

There is, however, a much deeper chessed. When a person does a chessed for another person's spiritual possessions, when a person helps another in Torah, when he helps him elevate himself, that is the utmost chessed. This is a Toras Chessed -- a chessed of Torah.

Perhaps this is something that might be forgotten when we hear about other chassodim. We certainly must do chessed with those who are, Rachmono litzlan, sick. Surely we must do chessed with the poor, and the reward for doing so is immeasurable. But another chessed exists which is a spiritual chessed. Everyone sees many bnei aliya around him, many who could bolster the Torah and become gedolei Torah, who fall on the way to their goals.

We have lost many gedolim because a boy or yungerman slipped. Although it might have been for a moment, for a split second, still it may determine the way a person acts in life. When a person is at such a stage, when he feels downtrodden, he makes decisions and does things that determine his fate for generations to come.

We all know that with one good word, one word of encouragement, one kushya said to another boy who is not yet a ben aliya, we can change him. The ben aliya realizes how the other person feels, since he remembers that when he was at such a lowly stage he was suddenly elevated with the help of a good word or encouragement from someone, or from a good kushya for which he said a teirutz. That built him and helped him again to realize his obligation in the world.

This is the second virtue that we must see in such a boy, such a ben aliya, who as we have heard and seen was not only concerned about his own Torah but for all those around him.

"So teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom" (Tehillim 90:12). What is the connection of the heart to wisdom? The heart relates to feelings, the heart has desires, but what does the heart have to do with wisdom?

The answer is well known. We say in our tefillos: "Instill in our hearts [the capacity] to understand and elucidate" (Bircas Krias Shema). The Torah's wisdom is not detached from man. It is not like other wisdoms. A person can be an expert in science or medicine or another area, but that has no connection to actual wisdom. He can be an expert and can remain a corrupt person with every possible bad middah.

The posuk teaches us that for Torah we need the heart, that Hashem should "instill in our hearts [the capacity] to understand." If middos are more refined, with more cultivated yiras Shomayim, true wisdom increases.

Something else can be learned from the posuk. The posuk writes "levav" for heart, which actually indicates the plural and suggests two hearts. A person needs one heart to feel his aspiration to Torah, his aspirations to spiritual achievements, to feel "the nearness to Elokim which is my good" (Tehillim 73:28), that "my soul thirsts for you" (ibid., 63:2).

We need another heart to be zoche to wisdom: a heart that feels, that senses how one is not alone in the world, that perceives how other children of Avrohom, Yitzchok, and Yaakov exist who were also created with that same goal. They too were created for the goal of clinging to the Creator and taking pleasure in Hashem, "which is the greatest pleasure and the truest enjoyment of anything that can be" (Mesillas Yeshorim). The second heart must think about other people.

We are thrilled, and rightly, over the success of those trying to help people become baalei teshuva and those who help the sick. We must, however, tell the truth. We need to have a helping heart, a sensitive heart, for our brothers within the beis midrash, for those sitting with us on the same bench, for the person davening with us. He too wants to come closer to Hashem.

Who knows? Perhaps my success is causing him to despair, causing him damage -- and with one word from me, with one kushya that I ask him, with one beaming look, I can completely change him.

It is difficult for me to cite stories at length [under present circumstances]. One famous story tells about a talmid chochom, an eminent rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Ponevezh. This story is told in various versions and it probably has some truth in it. I heard the story this way: One day this rosh yeshiva received an invitation for a wedding in Switzerland, together with a free plane ticket since the bride's father had once studied in the yeshiva. Since he was not well- acquainted with the person who sent him the invitation and plane ticket, the amazed rosh yeshiva phoned to ask why the man had invited him.

The father told him the following: "I studied in the yeshiva for a period of half a year and felt lonely. No one spoke to me, and I decided to return home to Switzerland. You know, of course, that Switzerland is not exactly Ponevezh. The same day I was supposed to return home you passed by me and fixed my jacket collar. I was so full of simcha at what you did, realizing that someone thought about me, that I decided to cancel my trip and continue in the yeshiva. Because of this I remained a ben Torah. I owe you my life! How can I not invite you to my daughter's wedding?"

With [less than] one word, merely by fixing a collar, one can build worlds, and generations and generations of talmidei chachomim. This is the second kol korei, the appeal of the blood of our brother Shmuel Yoel, z'l, that is screaming to us from the earth!

What is his blood screaming? "I was not zoche. I became a korbon to let people know of this truth, and my body and soul will be a parchment to write this appeal to people's hearts."

The appeal is not to the niftar z'l but to us. The blood of Shmuel Yoel, z'l, is screaming to us from the earth that his should not be a korbon in vain, that there should be a benefit from his sacrifice.

Let us think about his behavior. Who would have thought that there is a boy who arranges chaburos, who smiles at each boy, upon whom a whole yeshiva is dependent? Who knew that such a thing exists?

Usually if a person is talented and is already a ben aliya he worries about himself. If he decides to concern himself with others he will leave the yeshiva and try to inspire others to become baalei teshuva.

The plea that this korbon extends to us is that it is forbidden to stop studying. Within the beis midrash, within the pillars of Torah, you will find the pillar of chessed.

Only "between the pillars" of Torah will you find the pillar of tefillah, and only there will you find the pillar of chessed. This is the chessed of Torah, the chessed that supports generations. With one word, with one smile, with one kushya, one can build worlds and save a neshomo.

This is the way we must read the kol korei. We need a baal korei to read and proclaim the sefer Torah before us. "HaKodosh Boruch Hu has in His world only the four amos of halocho."

From these four amos we have botei knesses, from them we have gomlei chassodim. From here warmth emanates, warmth for tefillah, for chessed. Everything stems from the gates that excel in halocho. We must review this principle, and then we can say, "Shmuel Yoel, z'l, your korbon was not in vain."

We now add our tefillah and request to Hashem that He may have pity on the she'eiris hapeleitah, and may He gather together all Jews, and may we be zoche speedily to the building of the Beis Hamikdash, that the three pillars of which the world depends may be repaired, and then "He will submerge death for ever; and Hashem Elokim will wipe away tears from off all faces" (Yeshaya 25:8).

HaRav Aviezer Piltz, shlita, is the rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Tushiyah in Tifrach near Beer Sheva.

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