Parshas Netzavim 5782 – Rosh Hashanah 5783
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Confusing The Satan
On Rosh Hashana we blow the shofar again and again. And although we’re hungry; we want to go home and eat already but we stand in shul listening to the baal tokei’a blowing the shofar much more than is required by the Torah. We have tekios before mussaf, a lot of them. And then more tekios during mussaf; and then again another set of tekios after mussaf.
What’s that all about? Aren’t we overdoing it? That’s the Gemara’s question (Rosh Hashana 16b): לָמָּה תּוֹקְעִין וּמְרִיעִין כְּשֶׁהֵן יוֹשְׁבִין וְתוֹקְעִים וּמְרִיעִין כְּשֶׁהֵן עוֹמְדִים – Why do they make tekios so many times? It seems so unnecessary! We fulfilled the mitzvah before mussaf already – you can’t do a mitzvah twice!
Now listen to what the Gemara answers: כְּדֵי לְעַרְבֵּב הַשָּׂטָן – We do it in order to confuse the Satan. It’s the Day of Judgment and there’s a malach Hashem standing there ready to prosecute us. That’s his job today and he has many claims against us – we’re human beings after all, and human beings do things; and we’re being judged now for those things. And the prosecutor comes to the courtroom with a lot of files, a lot of evidence. There’s a lot he has written down about our past year. And that’s not good; it’s quite scary.
So what saves us? How do we come away from the Yom Hadin safely? So the chachomim tell us it’s by blowing extra tekios! We confuse the Satan by blowing more than we have to.
Now that needs to be explained because the Satan is not a foolish man. He’s a malach, a very wise malach who’s not easily confused. You’re not going to trick him by repeating some tekios, you can be sure about that. And so it’s a puzzle; what does it mean that we confuse the Satan with extra shofar blows?
So we’ll preface the answer with a possuk in our parsha. Moshe Rabeinu, al pi Hashem, is warning the Am Yisroel to stay far away from sin and he says like this: פֶּן יֵשׁ בָּכֶם אִישׁ אֽוֹ אִשָּׁה אוֹ מִשְׁפָּחָה אוֹ שֵׁבֶט אֲשֶׁר לְבָבוֹ פֹנֶה הַיּוֹם מֵעִם הַשֵּׁם אֱלֹקֵינוּ – Perhaps there is someone among you, a man, a woman, or a family or tribe, whose thoughts stray from Hashem our G-d (Netzavim 29:18).
It’s talking about someone who has an inclination to follow after his own thoughts and because of that he’s veering away from the ideals of Hakodosh Boruch Hu. He’s a ma’amin; he believes in Hashem and he’s a shomer torah u’mitzvos but there are certain attitudes that are simmering in his mind. שָׁלוֹם יִהְיֶה לִּי כִּי בִּשְׁרִירוּת לִבִּי אֵלֵךְ – “I’m going to go the way my mind sees,” he says.
And in case you would think that it’s not too serious, the Torah says, שֹׁרֶשׁ פֹּרֶה רֹאשׁ וְלַעֲנָה – it’s a root producing gall and bitter fruit (ibid.) “מַפְרֶה וּמַרְבֶּה רֶשַׁע בְּקִרְבּוֹ – He planted bitter seeds in his mind and now there are poisonous plants growing there” (Rashi, ibid.).
The Satiated and The Thirsty
Now, what is the example that the Torah brings of a man who is planting poisonous ideas in his head? It’s important information to know so that we can stay clear of the danger. So the possuk says like this: His sin is that he’s סְפוֹת הָרָוָה אֶת הַצְּמֵאָה, he’s joining together those who are satiated with those who are still thirsty.
Now these are very mysterious words; “He’s joining the satiated with the thirsty.” We can say them but we don’t understand them. And yet we must understand them because whatever they mean, whatever that man is thinking, it’s quite terrible because the Torah says: לֹא יֹאבֶה הַשֵּׁם סְלֹחַ לוֹ – Hashem will be unwilling to forgive him, כִּי אָז יֶעְשַׁן אַף הַשֵּׁם וְקִנְאָתוֹ בָּאִישׁ הַהוּא – the wrath of Hashem will fume and His vengeance will inflame that man, וְרָבְצָה בּוֹ כָּל הָאָלָה הַכְּתוּבָה בַּסֵּפֶר הַזֶּה וּמָחָה הַשֵּׁם אֶת שְׁמוֹ מִתַּחַת הַשָּׁמָיִם – and there will come upon him all the curses written in the Torah and Hashem will wipe away his name from beneath the sky (ibid. 19).
All the curses written in the Torah?! Fuming wrath and vengeance?! What did this person do already? We’re expecting to hear something very big now, something terrible.
The Wicked Good Citizen
And so the Gemara (Sanhedrin 76b) says like this: What did he do? He was walking, let’s say, past a Chinese fruit store and he saw a fruit lying on the sidewalk. An apple fell off the bin and in another minute someone will pass by and kick it into the gutter. So this Jew bends over, picks up the apple and puts it back on the bin.
Ohh wha, that’s a good citizen! Maybe he should get a special commendation from the mayor, a key to the city? Could be. But about him the Torah says: לֹא יֹאבֶה הַשֵּׁם סְלֹחַ לוֹ – Hashem will not want to forgive him for what he did. Not only that He won’t forgive him; He won’t desire to forgive him.
Hashem won’t even desire to forgive him?! What did this man do wrong already? He did a good deed! He picked up the apple and put it back on the bin – that’s all he did.
The answer to that puzzle is “he added those who are already satiated onto those who are still thirsty.” It means like this: The Jewish nation is a nation that is thirsty for mitzvos; the other nations on the other hand are satiated. And by putting that apple back into the bin, by fulfilling the mitzvah of hashovas aveidah to a gentile, you’re equating the “satiated nations” with the “thirsty” one.
Thirsty for Mitzvos
Don’t think hashovas aveidah is just something we do for the sake of the upkeep of society. Our sages are teaching us a secret here, a secret that applies to all of the mitzvos bein adam lachaveiro. When we go out of our way to do a mitzvah – whether it’s returning a lost object or giving tzedakah, whatever it is – we do it because there’s a special mitzvah to honor the Jewish people; the nation whose desire for avodas Hashem is never quenched.
Now, that’s not the whole story of the Am Yisroel, but it’s one of the important differences between us and the nations of the world. Am Yisroel are tzmei’im l’avodas yotzram, they’re thirsty for mitzvos, while the gentiles are satiated; they’re not interested.
The Jew is busy all day long with mitzvos. Poshute Jews are keeping the Torah everywhere. A frum Jew gets up early in the morning to go to shul and then a few hours later he’s back in shul again. Old people, bochurim and little children are going to shul. Back and forth, back and forth. Shachris, mincha, ma’ariv – he davens and he learns a little bit too. He puts a nickel in the pushka whenever he gets a chance.
All week long the Am Yisroel is busy with mitzvos – nobody is looking to dodge any mitzvos – and then Shabbos comes. Everyone is preparing for Shabbos; women and young girls are standing over the stove for hours l’kavod Shabbos – a very great mitzvah! The Jewish stores are crowded; long lines filled with people paying big sums of money – and for what? For the mitzvah of Shabbos!
Thirsty for Alcohol
Are goyim busy with mitzvos all day long?! They don’t even fathom the idea of such a thirst. The goy sees the Jew walking back and forth to shul a few times a day and he doesn’t understand what’s happening. “Where is this crazy Jew going back and forth, back and forth, all day long?”
He doesn’t understand! He goes to church once a month and the priest says, “All your sins are forgiven,” and finished. Don’t think that the Catholics or the Protestants, even the religious ones, are the same as you, only that the religion is different. Don’t make any mistake about that! There is a very wide chasm between you and them. Even if they do some things, they’re zaht – they’re overfed; they’re not thirsty for mitzvos.
I’ll tell you what they’re thirsty for. You walk in the streets early in the morning in a gentile neighborhood, a respectable upper class Catholic neighborhood, and lying stretched out on the ground is a good Catholic. He’s drunk and he’s been sleeping on the street all night. I walked in the Catholic neighborhoods forty years ago and I saw that many times. Drunk all night, fast asleep in the gutter; and then he gets up in the morning, staggers home, and tells everybody, “Ooh wah! What a time I had last night!” He’s proud of himself.
It wasn’t even considered a chisaron. Many people admired him; they were jealous of him. It was an exploit! He would tell his friends about it: “Did I ever tell you about the time that I slept drunk in the gutter the whole night?!” A goy is satiated with drink; other things too. He wants mitzvos like he wants a hole in his shoe.
Working for Tuition
Did you ever see a Jew lying drunk in the street at night?! Maybe today you could, but forty years ago you couldn’t. Does a Jew go to the pub and drink after his day at the office?! He’s busy with better things; he’s learning with his children. He’s wiped out from a long day in the office but he sits down to chazer over the Gemara with his boys.
And what’s he doing in the office anyhow? He’s there for mitzvos! It costs big money to raise a Jewish family today! People are spending tremendous sums to bring up their children b’derech haTorah! We’re trying very hard to get vouchers; at least the I.R.S. should recognize what we’re paying for tuition and give us a rebate on our income tax.
The Reform Jews are fighting against us – they don’t want us to get deductions because once we have an opportunity to get rebates on our school expenses, then maybe more and more Jews will send their children to yeshivos. The Reform is afraid of that. But no matter what, rebate or no rebate, the Am Yisroel is paying the money anyhow; we’re spending tremendous sums on schar limud. Only a thirsty nation would do such a thing!
Even our little children are צְמֵאִים לְמִצְווֹת, they’re thirsting for mitzvos. Go out in the streets in the morning. You see boys and girls everywhere waiting for the buses. The little boys with the tzitzis and yarmulkes and payos – all mitzvos – and the girls in skirts, tznius girls. They’re going to the Beis Yaakovs, the yeshivos. And the little boys are in the cheder all day long sitting and learning Eilu Metzios, all kinds of dinim; when you have to return a lost article, how to return it. Little boys, not even bar mitzvah are learning the details of the mitzvos.
Does the Italian send his children to places where they learn the mitzvah of hashavas aveidah? No; he’s sending his children to public school or to the gentile private schools where they’re learning kol davar ossur. What they study and practice in those schools, I don’t want to even say the words in a shul. That’s the thirst of a goy.
There’s no comparison between the gentile and the Jew – no comparison at all! And if you compare them by how you act and how you think when you’re passing the Chinese fruit store, then you’re committing a very terrible sin. For a Yisroel, achicha, yes, you bend over and pick it up. אֲבֵדַת אָחִיךָ — the lost object of your brother in mitzvos you’re michuyav to return. A nation that does mitzvos, so we do mitzvos for them – it’s an honor they deserve! We’re thirsty for mitzvos and we deserve tremendous honor because of that. But the gentiles? They don’t want to do any mitzvos, so we don’t go out of our way to honor them with our mitzvos.
Follow The Government
Now I don’t want you people to go away and make a calumny against me that I said you shouldn’t return lost articles to gentiles. I never said such a thing. Suppose you find a lost article, a wallet. You open it up and you see the name James Walsh inside. James Walsh, not a Jew. And so you’re considering, “Do I have to return it?”
Well, if the police ordinances require that any lost article must be returned, so a Jew is as loyal a citizen as anyone else – a good Jew is even more loyal to his country than a gentile citizen; so you obey the city ordinances and you take Mr. Walsh’s wallet to the police station. That’s well and good. If the government says you must, so you follow the government; דִּינָא דְּמַלְכוּתָא דִּינָא – it’s a law.
And even if it’s not a law, if you tell me that you pick it up because you want to show that Jews are good people, darkei shalom, all right, maybe. Let’s say there are goyim standing around, all right, pick up the apple and put it back in the bin. Be a nice fellow so that the goyim will say, “You see that; the Jews aren’t so bad after all.” Absolutely it’s a mitzvah to raise the honor of the Jewish people in the eyes of the goyim.
But if you put it into the bin and you’re thinking, “I’m doing the mitzvah of hashovas aveidah, this is what the Torah means.” so you’re doing something terrible.
What’s so terrible? It’s a wickedness to give to a non-Jew the recognition, the honor, that the Torah reserved only for the people of Israel. And לֹא יֹאבֶה ה’ סְלֹחַ לוֹ – Hashem will refuse to forgive him because he has committed a crime, a very great crime against the greatness of the Am Yisroel. שֶׁהִשְׁוָה כְּבוֹדָן שֶׁל אוּמוֹת הָעוֹלָם לִכְבוֹדָן שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל – He made equal the satiated, the ibergezetigt, with those who are thirsty always for mitzvos.
And therefore, sometimes you just have to pass by. After all, there’s no law that you have to bend over to pick up the apple. There’s no such thing that when you pass by a fruit stand, you must pick up the apple and put it back, no. And therefore when no one is watching you’ll just have to pass it by. Because as good as it is to raise the honor of the Jewish people in the eyes of the gentiles, it’s even a bigger mitzvah to raise the honor of the Jewish people in your own eyes!
I myself make it a point to pass by! I wouldn’t pick it up. I make it a point to keep on walking and I remind myself, “Only for a Yisroel, for a tzamei lamitzvos, there’s a mitzvah.”
Now, we’re not disparaging anyone else. We’re polite and kind to everyone. We follow all the laws of the land and we have nothing against anyone. Only that we’re talking here about a matter of especial esteem for those who deserve to be honored. We’re talking now about how we have to go above and beyond for a poshute Jew – because he’s not poshut at all!
Knocked Out by Love
And the mitzvah of hashovas aveidah is just one example of how we do that. It’s one opportunity to demonstrate how greatly you value the importance of a Yisroel: for him you’re moichel on your time, on your kavod, on the tircha and you bend over and pick up the apple. And you think, “I’m doing a mitzvah d’oraysa of returning a lost object to a brother—a brother b’mitzvos, a person from the nation that goes overboard for mitzvos.”
And so we come back now to the puzzle that we began our talk with tonight. What does it mean that the Satan is confused when he sees that we’re standing up again by mussaf and blowing shofar? How do the extra tekios protect the Am Yisroel on the Day of Judgement?
The answer is like this: It’s not the mitzvah that saves us; it’s the chibah of the mitzvah; it’s the love of the mitzvah that “confuses” the Satan. שֶׁהֵם מְחַבְּבִים אֶת הַמִּצְווֹת – Because he sees that they love mitzvos; they love mitzvos very much.
Gaining His Respect
That’s the one thing that knocks the Satan out entirely. When he sees that we’re standing up now to blow shofar again – “What’s going on?! They blew already!” – then all of his claims become muted; they’re made quiet. When he sees that the Am Yisroel just can’t get enough of mitzvos – they did the mitzvah already but they’re thirsty for more – that knocks him over. He still has claims against us, but he does it with a different niggun. He says it with respect now; the Satan has a newfound respect for us.
And therefore, even though the Satan will not yield his duty – he has to carry out his mission to be melamed chov on Am Yisroel – but when he sees that we’re חוֹזְרִין וְתוֹקְעִין, that we’re blowing shofar again, that causes him to be quiet. He gets confused. He knows exactly what he wanted to say, but all of a sudden his arguments fall apart. The foundation of his whole argument against us becomes confused because he sees he’s dealing now with the nation that is hungry for mitzvos.
Emulating the Satan
Now, I told you once before that one of the purposes of malachim is that they should be a model for us. That’s why we say every day in davening about the angels praising Hashem. We talk about it at length; in the bracha of Yotzer Hame’oros and then in Kedusha. It’s because we’re supposed to study that and learn from them how to praise Hashem.
And since the Satan is a malach Hashem too – we have to know that he’s a model for us too. Not only do we see that the malach is knocked out by this attitude of the Am Yisroel, but we see that it’s an attitude that matters. If it’s so big that this malach is confounded and all of his arguments against the Am Yisroel fall apart, then it’s something we have to learn to appreciate.
Greatness Amid Suffering
There’s a tale, a story in the Gemara (Shabbos 33b) about Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. Rabbi Shimon was once sentenced to death by the Romans because he had criticized the Roman government. Now, when the Romans pronounced a death sentence on a person it wasn’t like in New York; it was serious business. So when Rabbi Shimon heard about this he did the smartest thing; he ran away with his son and hid in a cave. For twelve years they sat in the cave hiding from the Romans.
Now, you have to know that it was during those twelve years that Rabbi Shimon and his son became exceedingly great. What went on in that cave was tremendous. They didn’t want to wear out their clothing, so they dug a hole in the ground and they sat in the sand up to their necks all day long and they learned Torah. When they had to daven, so they climbed out of the hole and put on their clothing and davened. Then they took off their clothing and went back in the hole again. That’s how they spent twelve years.
It wasn’t an easy life – their bodies were full of sores from the sand. They had a lot of other tzaros too. But they became very great in shleimus! Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his son Rabbi Elazar b’Reb Shimon became very great men as a result. These twelve years elevated them immensely.
Finally at the end of twelve years a message was sent to them m’shomayim: “The danger is over; you can go out now.” So they went back out to civilization and what did they see? They saw people, poshute Jews. They saw people who were farmers, people raising cattle, and they said, “What’s this? Milking cows?! You’re wasting your life with milking cows and planting fields?!” They didn’t understand! That people should give their time for anything but perfection, shleimus of avodas Hashem?!
So wherever they looked they were dissatisfied with what they saw. And because of their kedusha, wherever they looked with their holy eyes, it was destroyed. They took a look, they disapproved of what they saw and מִיָּד נִשְׂרַף, it was destroyed. They destroyed this field, they destroyed that field. They couldn’t tolerate what they were seeing.
So Hashem said, “You think I let you come out of your cave to destroy My world?! Is that how you look at My people?! Go back to the cave again! Go back and stay there!” And so, Rabbi Shimon and his son returned to living in the cave.
After one more year in the cave they finally came out again. It was erev Shabbos and they saw an old man running. Now, old men don’t run. For an old man it’s hard sometimes just to bend over and tie his shoes, but here was an old man who was running. And in his hands he was carrying two branches of hadasim. So they said to him, “What are you running for?” He said, “I’m going home to bring flowers for Shabbos – l’kovod Shabbos.” So Rabbi Shimon said, “So why do you need two?” He said, אֶחָד כְּנֶגֶד זָכוֹר וְאֶחָד כְּנֶגֶד שָׁמוֹר. “L’kovod Shabbos, one sprig for the word zachor and one for the word shamor.”
When Rabbi Shimon saw that, iz ehr arois fun di keilim, he became so excited! “Oooh,” said Rabbi Shimon. “I change my mind now about the poshute Jews.” חֲזִי כַּמָּה חֲבִיבִין מִצְווֹת עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל – “Look how cherished the mitzvos are to the Jewish people. The poshute Jews are kodesh kadoshim,” said Rabbi Shimon, “because they’re thirsty for mitzvos. An old man running l’kovod Shabbos!”
And so nisyashev da’ato, the mind of Rabbi Shimon was appeased. Now he was satisfied with the Am Yisroel – not only satisfied; he appreciated them, he respected them. And now he didn’t cause any more trouble when he looked. Because wherever he looked, he saw greatness; wherever he looked he saw a nation that thirsted for mitzvos. They’re milking cows, they’re planting crops, they’re in their homes; whatever they’re doing, they’re living lives of mitzvos!
One More Level
What we see from this story is that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, despite all of the shleimus that he achieved in that cave during those twelve years, nevertheless, he needed one more madreigah of perfection. And that was to recognize the gadlus of the frum Jew, even the poshute frum Jew.
Rabbi Shimon was already very great from his years in the cave but it wasn’t enough – he had to achieve one more thing, one more attitude of the mind. The apex, the crown of his shleimus – was to be impressed with the stature of the most simple Jew; to respect and admire the nation that is thirsty for mitzvos.
So we begin to see that even though you’re a sholeim; even though you’re moiser nefesh for avodas Hashem like Rabbi Shimon and his son. You’re succeeding in learning Torah — you’re even learning the deepest secrets of the Torah – nevertheless, there’s one more secret that you still have to learn. You must add to the list of your achievements, the very great perfection of recognizing the gedulas Am Yisroel – the nation that loves mitzvos. No matter how great you are in avodas Hashem, and how great you are in Torah knowledge, you must add this attitude of mind to your store of knowledge, the respect and honor for our fellow Yisroel.
Thirsting For Honor
On the Yomim Nora’im, in our tefillos, we say the following words: וּבְכֵן תֵּן כָּבוֹד הַשֵּׁם לְעַמֶּךָ תְּהִלָּה לִירֵאֶיךָ – “Hashem, give honor to Your people; praise for those who fear You.” Again and again we repeat those words.
It means that we’re praying to Hakodosh Boruch Hu that the time should come when He should reveal to the nations of the world that we are the ones deserving of honor. Right now they’re busy doing the opposite. It’s an old story – from the beginning of our history no people have been vilified and insulted and blackened as the Jew – and therefore we look forward to the time when the gentiles should give honor to Jews.
Now, it’s not merely a selfish desire. We don’t need their honor. We’re not looking for that. But it’s the honor of Hakodosh Boruch Hu. Those who honor Him deserve to be recognized. And who in the world honors Hakodosh Boruch Hu like we do? We are the osei mitzvos, the ones who are constantly fulfilling His commands, and therefore we’re looking forward to the day when the world will finally recognize that because we are the ones that have remained thirsty for mitzvos and loyal to Him always, we are the ones deserving of honor. That’s our fervent wish and we repeat it again and again in our tefillos. וּבְכֵן תֵּן כָּבוֹד לְעַמֶּךָ תְּהִלָּה לִירֵאֶיךָ.
Pursuing The Honor
Now the first thing Hakodosh Boruch Hu says when He hears that is, “What about you?! Are you honoring your fellow Jews?” Did you ever say to yourself, when you see a stranger, a Jew, in the street: “That man over there is an aristocrat who deserves all the honor in the world. Even if the king of England would be walking past me, that would be nothing compared to this Jew, the one who is tzamei la’mitzvos.”
If you’re not thinking that way, then you’re not thinking. And it’s a requirement — otherwise you’re not speaking to Hashem in truth. “Hashem should honor the Am Yisroel”?! You’re just saying words; it’s in the machzor so you have no choice; you can’t skip it after all. But do you really care about their honor? Are you doing something about it?!
I’m talking halacha l’maaseh now, practical things; not just d’varim b’alma. Suppose you’re sitting on a bus — it’s a bus that runs through a certain neighborhood and it’s packed with anti-Semites. A lot of irreligious Jews too — many of them are also anti-Semites. And suddenly there comes up on the bus a Jew with a beard, a big conspicuous beard. He’s standing there, one elderly Jew, standing all alone on a bus full of goyim. Everybody has seats; he happens to be the only one without a seat. And he’s swaying with every lurch of the bus and nobody even bothers to offer him a seat; what do they care for an elderly Jew – let him stand, let him collapse, they don’t care.
A Demonstration on The Bus
But you remember now what you said on Rosh Hashana, “Hashem, give honor to your people.” And even though you’re wiped out after a long day of work – could be you’re older than him and maybe your beard is whiter, but no matter, you get up and you offer him your seat.
You’re making a scene, a public demonstration of תֵּן כָּבוֹד לְעַמֶּךָ. You shake hands with him – with respect, with kavod – a big shalom aleichem you give him and you show that he’s an honored man.
Now it could be he sells herring in the grocery store. He’s not a great rabbi; maybe he’s not even a little rabbi; but it makes no difference. He’s a Jew; he’s from the יְרֵאֶיךָ, those who fear Hashem. He’s from the צְמֵאִים לְמִצְווֹת, the nation that thirsts for mitzvos. And that’s why you go out of your way to honor him – that’s enough of a reason. It doesn’t matter to you, a herring salesman or a rosh yeshiva; he’s a thirsty Jew and he deserves all the honor in the world!
You have to work on that until it gets into your bones! Some people live their entire lives and never gain this attitude and it’s a tremendous loss because it’s one of the yesodos of being a Jew. It’s one of our functions in this world – it’s a principle of the Torah to realize the greatness of the nation that appreciates avodas Hashem, absolutely.
Not only on the nation as a whole but b’prat on each Jew. It makes no difference if it’s an old man, or a little girl or little boy; all the frum men and women, all the frum boys and girls, we should be giving them great honor.
It’s something you have to practice; you won’t believe it unless you think about it often. It takes training.
Imagine your wife’s cousin is coming over to visit. Now, I’m not saying you have to waste time with him; sometimes you might waste time and it’s devarim beteilim, it’s a waste of a life. But here is an opportunity for you to become great, by learning to respect a tzamei lamitzvos. While he’s talking, maybe he’s not saying anything important, so you’re nodding your head and you’re thinking, “This man is so holy. I admire him and respect him. There’s nothing in the world more dignified, more honorable, than my wife’s cousin.”
You know, it’s not easy to love every Yisroel; but to train yourself little by little to have a respect for him because he’s serving Hashem that’s much easier. He’s a tzamei la’mitzvos and you have to deal with him like he’s kodesh kadashim. It is completely impossible to think of being mivazeh him. Even though you are angry at him, you can’t scorn, you can’t speak impolitely to a Yisroel. It’s of the utmost importance to be mechabed every Yisroel. Every Yisroel.
I’ll give you another eitzah, something to practice. Let’s say you pass by a home, a Jewish home. And one house over, there’s another Jewish home. But in between there’s a gentile home with an Italian flag outside – it’s a neat home, with a neat garden. Very nice, very nice. But you should understand there’s a hefsek in between the two Jewish homes. Here’s kedusha, then there’s nothing, then there’s kedusha again. A Jewish home is without measure superior to the non-Jewish home.
You have to have the greatest derech eretz for a frum Jewish home. Because who’s living in those homes? It’s not the overfed Italians living there – it’s thirsty Jews! Jewish children! Jewish grandmothers! Jewish mothers and fathers! It’s a nation that is beloved by Hashem because they love mitzvos! All day long you hear brachos in that house. There’s a tehillim on the table. The girls are davening shemonah esrei in the corner. It’s a house of mitzvos!
And if you don’t appreciate that, then it’s a danger because, לֹא יֹאבֶה הַשֵּׁם סְלֹחַ לוֹ, Hashem won’t want to forgive you if you equate the Jewish homes with those of the gentiles.
A New Year’s Resolution
And therefore there’s no better time than now, as we’re going into a new year, to make a commitment to yourself: “Hakodosh Boruch Hu, this year is going to be a year of raising the banner of the greatness of Your people. This year I’m going to respect and honor the Am Yisroel – all of them! I’m going to take the tremendous lesson of Parshas Netzavim and the tefillos of the Yomim No’ra’im and make it a principle all year round, to give honor to Your people.”
And then you get busy doing it. Honor every Jew; at least in your mind you should look at a fellow Jew with great respect. It’s not only a matter of picking up lost apples from the sidewalk; it’s an attitude of the mind – it’s a tremendous perfection of the mind to think this way.
Every frum mother deserves honor; the bigger the family, the bigger the honor. How greatly you respect a mother who raises a family of little tzaddikim, boys and girls who will someday be big tzaddikim! What a tremendous achievement! We honor such a mother.
We honor Jews who sit by the gemara in the beis medrash. We honor the young boys and girls who give away their days in the yeshivos and Beis Yaakovs. We honor the poshute Jew on the street – because he’s not poshut at all! We make sure to honor all people who are proud to show they’re frum Jews; they look like Jews and talk like Jews and are thirsty for mitzvos like Jews. We honor the thirsty nation to no end.
The End Of Days
And by means of always honoring the shomrei Torah u’mitzvos, we fulfill our function in this world of not “joining the satiated to the thirsty,” of not equating the Jews with the nations of the world; and then the time will come when what we worked on all these years, this attitude that we gained, will be revealed to the world.
The Gemara says (Avodah Zarah 3a) that in the days of Moshiach, those goyim that survived will bring up a claim against Hakodosh Boruch Hu. They’ll say that they are just as thirsty for mitzvos as the Jewish nation is. “If we had received the Torah,” they’ll say, “we would also have fulfilled it the same way the Am Yisroel did.” That’s what the goyim will say. “Why are we considered so low? Why are Am Yisroel superior to us? You gave them a Torah! If you had given us a Torah, we also would have done the Torah.”
So Hashem says, “You’re claiming that you have an argument against Me so I’ll give you one last chance. One last chance – I want you fulfill the mitzvah of sukkah.” It states זֹאת תִּהְיֶה … חַטַּאת כָּל הַגּוֹיִם (Zecharya 14:19). It’s the last chance to show that they really would mean business if they had the Torah.
87 “Oh,” the goyim hear that. “Our last chance – we’ll show Hashem.” And they all make sukkos. They’re sitting in the sukkah. Why not? It’s nice weather. It’s not too hot outside. It’s comfortable in the sukkah in that weather. They’re sitting comfortably and they’re eating, having a good time and they’re patting themselves on the shoulder. “We could also make a mitzvah of sukkah. We’re also a thirsty nation; if only He would have chosen us!”
The Glory Revealed
What does Hashem do? הַשֵּׁם מוֹצִיא חַמָּה מִנַּרְתִּיקָהּ – He makes the sun become very hot. The sun becomes very hot and in the sukkah it becomes very hot. What happens? The goyim get up and leave the sukkah. They say, “It’s so uncomfortable here now. I had enough.” And some of them even give a kick as they walk out.” They’re בּוֹעֵט; they give a kick to the sukkah as they walk out.
“Oh,” Hakodosh Boruch Hu says, “These people are not thirsty for My mitzvos. That’s what I meant to show you. The Am Yisroel is the nation that is thirsty for mitzvos; that’s how they lived for thousands of years and a hot sun means nothing to them. They’re My chosen nation, the people that deserve the true kavod because they are thirsty for mitzvos. And just like they never equated the thirsty and the satiated, I’ll never do it either.”
And then we’ll witness with our own eyes the fulfillment of וְתֵן כָּבוֹד לְעַמֶּךָ – Hakodosh Boruch Hu, give honor to your nation; and the people that truly thirsted for Hashem and His mitzvos will forever bask in their well deserved glory.
Have A Wonderful Shabbos
Tapes: R-37 – The Honor Of Hashem|#204 – Loving His People | #E-8 – The Battle for the Mind | #E-207 – My Children, My Holy People | #E-270 – That Love Me And Keep My Mitzvos
Appreciating Those Appreciated by Hashem
This week I will bli neder work on differentiating between “the satiated” and “the thirsty” and on “giving honor to those who fear Him”. Three times a day I will look at a fellow Jew and think “He/she is a beloved son/daughter of Hashem, and I appreciate him/her”.
The Horowitz boys hurried along with Totty as they went around Passaic, NJ dropping off stacks of Toras Avigdor at the various distribution points.
“Wait,” said Sholom, after leaving a pile of booklets at Bagel Munch. “Bagel Munch is our last stop. Why do we still have more booklets left in the bag?”
“Well there is a new location that we are delivering to starting this week,” Totty replied, as the family got back into the car.
“Oh look!” exclaimed Mordechai, as they pulled into a large parking lot. “It’s the grand opening of the new Aisle One kosher supermarket!”
“I heard it’s supposed to be an amazing event!” Sholom said. “There’s going to be free cotton candy, a marching band, and the mayor, Lector Hora, is going to be there!”
“Oh wow, is this where we’re dropping off the Toras Avigdor booklets?” asked Yisroel Meir, excitedly.
“It sure is,” Totty said, smiling again. “Come, let’s go inside.”
Inside the store, the Horowitz boys stared in astonishment at the size of the new supermarket. There were so many aisles – it looked like you could park a jumbo jet inside the store!
“Look, Totty!” Yisroel Meir said. “There’s the Spira family from down the block! And there’s Rabbi Isaacson,” said Yisroel Meir. “Did you know he has his own kashrus agency? Maybe he’s here to make sure everything is kosher!”
Just then everybody was startled by a sudden loud trumpet sound. “Toooooo, Tooooooo, Tooooo,” and the band began to play with a loud clash of cymbals, accompanied by trombones and french horns.
“What’s happening?” asked Mordechai.
“Oh, it must be an important guest has arrived. I’m not sure who it is but let’s try to get close to the stage and see who it is.” Sure enough, as soon as the trumpets quieted down, the popular mayor of Passaic, Lector Hora, ascended the stage and began to speak about how important the new store is for the city and how he hoped it would solve all of the city’s parking and plumbing problems.
Once everything had died down and the Horowitzes finished their Shabbos shopping, Totty handed the stack of Toras Avigdor booklets to the manager and they headed back to their car.
“Wow, that was so fun, Totty!” said Sholom. “Thanks for taking us to the grand opening!”
“Yeah,” added Mordechai. “But Totty, when they blew the trumpets I thought it was a smoke alarm or something. How did you know that the trumpet meant that someone important is arriving?
“Well, it’s just like when we blow the Shofar,” said Totty as he and the boys loaded the grocery bags into the back of the car.
The boys looked at each other, confused. They had been hearing the Shofar in shul the entire Elul and didn’t remember anything happening after the Shofar was blown.
“But nothing happens when we blow the Shofar,” said Yisroel Meir, confused. “The baal tokeia just blows and then we continue davening.”
“Nothing happens?” said Totty as everyone got into the car and buckled up. “The biggest thing happens! Hashem arrives! That’s what I learned from this morning’s Toras Avigdor email. When somebody asked Rav Miller why we blow shofar on Rosh Hashana, he explained that in the olden days when a King was arriving in a city for a visit, they blew trumpets. It was a way of showing special honor to the King, to greet him with blasts of a shofar.
Totty continued as he started driving. “The same way that people use the trumpets of a marching band to signal that someone important is coming, we also do the same with the trumpet of Klal Yisroel.”
“The Shofar is the trumpet of Klal Yisroel?” asked Mordechai.
Yes, the Shofar says ‘He is here! The King has arrived!’
The boys thought about this for a few minutes.
“I never realized that,” said Sholom. “I thought it’s just a Mitzvah that we do.”
“Every Mitzvah is more than ‘just a Mitzvah’, Sholom,” said Totty. “Hashem gives us Mitzvos because they are supposed to make us think. Each time we do a Mitzvah, we should be thinking about Hakadosh Boruch Hu – and doing so brings us closer to him. And when it comes to tekias shofar, one of the most important thoughts is that Hashem is arriving to judge us.
As they drove home, Sholom and Yisroel Meir discussed how they would be trying to use what Totty just told them to enhance their davening this Rosh Hashana. But Mordechai was just sitting quietly, frowning at the booklet in his lap.
“Is everything okay, Mordechai?” asked Totty.
“Yeah, it’s just that the story in this week’s Toras Avigdor Junior is all about us and what just happened. How did they know?”
Have A Wonderful Shabbos!
Takeaway: When we hear the Shofar we know that it is a Mitzvah of Hashem, but it also reminds us of the sound of a trumpet which announces the arrival of the king. On Rosh Hashanah, the King comes for a visit! We should keep that in mind.