Monday, September 17, 2018

Erecting Yom Kippur - Rabbi Yitzchok Wolpin

The holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur is approaching and we are all preparing to be cleansed and merit an inscription and a seal in the book of Life.

On the day preceding Yom Kippur there's a special mitzvah to eat and drink more than usual. This is derived from a phrase in Torah Vayikra 23/32, you shall afflict your souls on the ninth day in the evening. The Talmud asks is the fast on the ninth ? It is on the tenth that we fast. Says the Talmud (Rosh Hashono 9a), "this is to teach us, that if one eats and drinks on the ninth it will be considered as he fasted both days". The question we still have, why is it that the Torah tells us that it is a mitzvah to eat, with this type of language (affliction), why not say, eat and drink ? I would to share with you two approaches to explain this.

The Torah wants to teach us how to fulfill this mitzvah. One can eat like a Jew with proper ethic and thought and one can eat and his whole mind and soul is in the plate. The Torah wants to tell you that when fulfilling this mitzvah, your mind should be on the mitzvah and not engulfed in the food, just as if you were fasting.

There's another approach. We know that when one does a mitzvah and he toils for it and it comes with great difficulty, the reward is much greater. This is why the Torah tells us that if one eats and drinks on the ninth it will be considered as if he fasted, so that we should know that the reward will be greater than just fulfilling an easy mitzvah, but rather it will be rewarded like a mitzvah that came with hardship.

The holy Berdichev Rebbe once walked in to Kol Nidrei (opening prayer of Yom Kippur), and began searching under the tables and benches. No one understood what he was searching for. He then lifted his head to the Heavens and said "Holy L-rd! You commanded the Jewish people to eat and drink today, I don't see even one drunk person in this synagogue. Imagine if other nations had been given this mitzvah. This was his way of defending Klal Yisroel.

In closing, I'd like to ask all, if I offended anyone, please be kind enough and forgive me, and I'm sure G-d will do the same.

May we merit to be sealed in the book of Life, for a sweet year, with spiritual and material growth in good health with nachas and happiness.

Gmar Chasima Tova,

Friday, September 7, 2018

Dvar Torah Parshas Nitzovim - from Harav Rabbi Yitzchok Wolpin

We are about to usher in the Shabbos which closes 5778. We know that Shabbos is the source of all blessings. As we look forward to a better year, let us work on the preparation thru celebrating this holy Shabbos with greater observance, greater emotion and stronger commitment to utilizing every free moment of the Shabbos for Torah study and fulfilling more mitzvohs. Hopefully, we will all merit a sweet new year filled with blessing, material and spiritual.

This week we are privileged to read the portion of Nitzovim. The portion discusses the importance of everyone, regardless of education or financial background, being bound to Torah observance. The covenant between us and Hashem is meant for everyone. We are all obligated to repair what we did wrong.  Although the portion is short, it is huge in content.

The Torah states in Devorim chapter 30 verse 11: For this commandment which I command you this day, is not hidden from you, nor is it far off.
12. It is not in heaven, that you should say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us, that we may hear it, and do it?

13. Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it to us, that we may hear it, and do it?

14. But the word is very near to you, in your mouth, and in your heart, that you may do it.

These verses are referring to all of us regarding Torah study. One shall not say the Torah is out of reach.

Reb Yehoshua of Dzhikov explains the verse Ki Korov eilecho hadovor meod - But the word is very near to you, the word meod also means finances. This, says the Dzhikov Rebbe, is a hint to those who are tied up and don’t have the ability to study Torah as much as they should. There’s an option for them to be rewarded just as if they were studying, that is, thru financially supporting those who learn and teach Torah. By doing so one will be rewarded as if he too studied, just as it was with the the two brothers Yisoschor and Zvulun. (That is the reference to the word Meod as in b’chol meodecha, we read daily in Shma).

There's another important lesson from these verses. When someone feels that he's struggling to keep a specific mitzvah, the Torah tells us the way to deal with it, to learn the laws of that specific mitzvah in the Torah this will bring a desire in our hearts to fulfill the mitzvah. That is the reference in "your mouth and in your heart,  that you may do it".

May we merit to properly prepare for the new year, and merit to be inscribed in the book of life.

Ksiva vchasima Tova

Gut Shabbos,