Friends, I’d like to speak with you tonight about a possuk that we say every day. Every day in our Shema proclamation we say the words וְשִׁנַּנְתָּם לְבָנֶיךָ (Vaeschanan 6:7). Now the word וְשִׁנַּנְתָּם has a number of meanings but the most simple one is ‘You shall repeat them to your children’; it comes from the word שֵׁנִי. Sheini means twice, and so וְשִׁנַּנְתָּם translates as ‘you should repeat them.’ Some translations say, ‘Teach them diligently’. It means to go over and over and over. Now, shinun – review and repetition, that’s going to be our subject tonight, but first a preface.
In Mesichta Eiruvin (54b), Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah quotes the following possuk from Mishlei: לֹא יַחֲרֹךְ רְמִיָּה צֵידוֹ – A deceitful man will not scorch his catch (12:27). It’s talking about a person who went hunting for some kosher birds and finally he netted a catch. And now he’s thinking about how good of a supper he’s going to have later; how he’s going to shecht his catch and then make a fire and hold the bird on a stick over the fire to broil it.
Did you ever eat a roasted pigeon? It’s delectable. And it tastes especially good right off the fire. That’s what the hunter is imagining — he’ll sit by the campfire and enjoy fresh roasted fowl, reaping the benefits of his hard work.
The Deceitful Hunter
But Mishlei tells us that this man, the deceitful hunter, goes to sleep hungry. What’s the story? Why can’t he eat his bird? Because as soon as he trapped his first bird, he dropped it into his basket and he went back to hunting. Now, hunters have a little knack; they know where to break a little something in the wing, a harmless thing that prevents the bird from flying; or they know how to tuck one wing under the other in such a way that it is secured. But instead of doing that, this hunter just put it into his basket and went back to his fowling. And so when he returns at the end of the day to broil his bird and eat supper he discovers that it didn’t wait for him; it’s gone. And that’s why לֹא יַחֲרֹךְ – he won’t be able to scorch it.
Now it’s important to know what kind of catch Mishlei is talking about. Shlomo Hamelech is not giving advice to fowlers after all; he didn’t write Mishlei for bird-hunters. And so Rabbi Elazar says like this; he makes a play on words so that we should understand the real meaning of the possuk: לֹא יַחֲרֹךְ – ‘He won’t scorch his catch’ means לֹא יִחְיֶה – he won’t live, וְלֹא יַאֲרִיךְ יָמִים – and he won’t have long days, צַיָּד הָרַמַּאי – if he’s a deceitful hunter.
Now, it’s interesting that this is all he says and the Gemara takes it for granted that everybody knows what he is talking about. He didn’t say the word ‘Torah’ even once but it was immediately understood. It would be superfluous to say anything more because what other birds are there to catch in this world? There is one catch, that’s Toras Hashem. כִּי הֵם חַיֵּינוּ – that is the purpose of our lives.
The Deceitful Lamdan
And so we’ll go back to our possuk now and learn it again, this time with the pshat that Shlomo intended: “Someone who is hunting Torah but he doesn’t make sure to secure his catch, so because he’s a deceitful hunter he won’t enjoy his catch.”
Now, right away we have the right to ask a question. Because if it would say, ‘A careless man won’t broil his catch’ or maybe ‘a reckless man,’ – he is in such a hurry to go ahead and get more so he didn’t take care to make sure that what he had would remain with him – OK, we’d understand that. Like Rashi says there, he’s a plain shoteh. If you accomplish something in this world and in your carelessness you let it evaporate, you are nothing but a fool. But it doesn’t say ‘careless’ or ‘foolish.’ It calls him deceitful.
And so we’ll explain it as follows. When you discover a din you never learned before or when you learn a line in the Gemara or the Mesillas Yesharim, or if you studied a possuk in the Chumash or any idea you found in a Torah sefer, it is a great acquisition – it’s like catching a bird that one day might be a delectable course at your dinner table. In this world and the Next World that Torah thought, when it becomes part of your personality, would support you wherever you go.
Only that what happens? Most people enjoy being tickled with a new idea, a new thought, and that’s enough for them. But to put effort into acquiring it – to tie up the bird and settle it into the basket – that it should become part of your mind, part of your personality, that’s already another story. And so the deceitful hunter comforts himself with the thought that he already caught the bird and that’s all that’s required.
Easy Come, Easy Go
And so Mishlei warns us, ‘A deceitful man’, it means a man who is not honest with himself, ‘is not going to enjoy his catch’. Why? Because he doesn’t make sure that it remains with him. He says “Ah! I learned it and now I already know it” and he doesn’t go back to make sure that he actually does know it.
And then by the time he is ready to recollect, to make use of that information, it has already flown the coop; it’s not in his head anymore. “What was it I learned in that sefer the other day?” Or, “What was that Torah thought I heard from the Rabbi?” And even if it’s still there, it’s there in a pale way; it doesn’t mean anything to him. It could be he understood it at the moment and it made a little impression then but now it evaporates. By means of deceiving himself, he loses everything.
There are people who are ambitious to swallow the whole yam haTalmud and they think if they will gulp down everything quickly they will become big Torah scholars. So they have to know as quickly as it comes that is how fast it is going to depart. Like they say, ‘Easy come, easy go.’
Cherish Your Gems
We’re learning now that you must always review your Torah learning. When you learn one line of something new in the Torah, something you never learned before, it is a great acquisition, a diamond. Mishlei says ‘bird’ because of how easily it can escape, but actually it’s more valuable than a flawless gem. And you must do everything you can to keep that gem, to make sure it doesn’t go lost.
That what the Chachomim say, הַלּוֹמֵד וְאֵינוֹ חוֹזֵר – if you learn and don’t review, כְּזוֹרֵעַ וְאֵינוֹ קוֹצֵר – it is like planting seeds and not reaping (Sanhedrin 99a). We are plowing the ground and planting seeds – learning Gemara is like plowing the hard earth – and then when the crop is already fully grown and waiting to be reaped, nobody comes to gather it in. Because he’s already tickling himself with something new.
Torah is Life
Now, some people will say that they’re not in the planting business anyhow; here’s a man listening to this tape and when he hears this subject he’s already tuning himself out. He thinks it doesn’t apply to him because he’s not learning too much anyhow. “I’m not a Gemara buff,” he says.
That’s a big mistake! Gemara is not a hobby. We learn Gemara because that is the air we breathe. Jews always knew this! You must breathe Gemara. That’s our life! Everyone must aspire to greatness in Torah! And therefore even if you haven’t done much yet, you have to get busy planting. Maybe you won’t have a big field but at least you should have a little flower pot on the window sill; at least something you must have. And you should start planting in that pot – even if it’s not too much – because that is the purpose of life.
And ladies, you too, you shouldn’t feel that you are left out in the cold because you are soon going to hear there is a lot for ladies to plant and a lot to reap – we’ll soon come to that. We’ll soon see that there are bigger principles to internalize than learning Gemara. But right now we’re talking about Gemara because to the Torah nation this is one of the most important hunts. Every Jew should be in the hunt for knowing Shas.
Learning on Shabbos
That’s why you have to be very busy on Shabbosim. Shabbos morning, before the davenen you can get in an hour. Friday nights, four hours. Shabbos night is a gold mine. That’s what they did in Slabodka; four hours on the long Friday winter nights. And later, three hours, and then two hours. And the long Shabbos afternoons in the summertime – four hours – why not?
I remember a man, today he is an old mashgiach in a very big yeshiva, he used to learn all day Shabbos afternoon. And he reviewed sometimes six blattgemara Rashi and Tosfos, six blatt. Today he is an elderly mashgiach in one of the biggest yeshivos in the world. But I recall; he used to sit all day long and review. Because that is what Shabbos is for.
Now, if you are a person who is going to deceive yourself with a happy feeling that you accomplish so much, and you are not interested in seeing if you actually have it – “I learned through a mesichta!” Or “I learned through a perek”, or whatever it is you say you learned through. But do you have it? Many times a person has the impression that he acquired a piece of the Torah, but later on he comes back to it and he sees that it’s all new. And that’s a frustration of the purpose of the Torah because it never became part of his mindset. And the more dishonest a man is with himself, the more he is going to frustrate his purpose in this world.
Creating a Torah Mind
And so now we come back to Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah and we can understand a little better how he explained the words of Mishlei. What does it mean לֹא יַחֲרֹךְ, that he won’t roast his catch? It means לֹא יִחְיֶה, he won’t live, וְלֹא יַאֲרִיךְ יָמִים, and he won’t merit long days in this world.
Not to live?! How does Rabbi Elazar come to that? It’s a play on words but Rabbi Elazar is telling us that it’s included in the words of the possuk. How does he see that? Because once you understand that we’re talking here not about hunting birds but hunting for a Torah mind, it’s a much more serious subject!
Because what is the purpose of asking Hakadosh Baruch Hu that He should give us additional years? The purpose of life is כִּי הֵם חַיֵּינוּ – the Torah is our life. We’re here to create a Torah mind and so Hakadosh Baruch Hu is willing to lay out for us another year – but He wants to know what will be the purpose.
So when a man is a רַמַּאי – a deceitful man who learns superficially; he’s acquiring all of his Torah knowledge and Torah ideals and attitudes in a superficial way, so לֹא יִחְיֶה – the end will be he won’t deserve to live. When he’ll come again on Rosh Hashanah to the president of the bank and ask for another loan, this time the president will say, “Look, I advanced so many loans to you but I am not getting anything in return.” Someday He might turn him down.
Part II. Reviewing Shabbos
Your Inner Child
And now we understand that commandment in our Parshah – the command to repeat the Torah diligently to our children – a little better. It means that whatever we’re going to accomplish in ruchniyus, it’s only going to become a permanent accomplishment by means of repetition. Repeating the great concepts will create a Torah mind for your children over the course of time.
And while you are talking and repeating to your children, you should make sure to listen in too. And even if you don’t have any children or they’re not around, you are your most important child for whom you have to create a Torah mind.
And what’s lesson number one when you want to make a Torah mind? Repetition! When you talk to yourself or to your children or your students about the ideals of our nation – when you talk about the Almighty Who created the world or about how our forefathers were taken out of Egypt with miracles, when you talk about the great event when our nation stood at Mount Sinai and heard the voice of Hashem speaking to them, or about Olam Haba and Techiyas Hameisim or the thousands of other Torah ideals, the first rule is וְשִׁנַּנְתָּם – you have to repeat it to them.
The Lion and the Tiger
Now this goes against the grain because once we heard about the creation of the world – that is when we were five years old and we toddled into Hebrew school and our rebbe told it to us – from then on it’s already trite and we don’t want to hear about it. We imagine there’s nothing more to gain. We know all about it – at the age of five we heard this subject already.
And that is why there are Jews who are fifty-five who come in the synagogue and when somebody proposes to speak on this subject of the creation of the world or Matan Torah or something else, so they are bored. They want to hear something new, something mystical, sisrei Torah, because those boring subjects, they know all about it. It’s enough already.
And therefore this principle in our Parshah tells us that you can never repeat great ideas enough – being bored with what you once heard is only a sign of extreme shallowness. It’s like a rabbi once told me; he said that he can never speak twice using a parable of a lion. If there is a lion in the story he can’t use it again because people have heard about the lion already. Even if it is an entirely different story, no connection, he has to change it to a tiger or some other animal. People are half asleep, waiting for the services to be over so they can make kiddush, and in their slumber they heard the rabbi say something about a lion; so next time he talks about a lion again, they’re bored stiff: “He’s repeating the same old stuff,” they say.
Bring it Back
And that is how people are; when they hear a profound idea – the truth is that even the first time they didn’t understand it; it didn’t penetrate too far – now they are already bored. And the entire purpose goes lost because the idea is not to hear it, but to assimilate it, to make it part of your permanent mindset, and that only happens by means of v’shinantam.
Now that’s what it says in another possuk in our parshah (4:39) – we say it every day in our davening. It states וְיָדַעְתָּ הַיּוֹם – You should know today … that ה’ הוּא הָאֱלוֹקִים – Hashem is the Almighty. But it says something more than that. It says ‘You should know it today’ and then it adds וַהֲשֵׁבֹתָ אֶל לְבָבֶךָ – andyou should bring it back to your heart.
What does it mean to ‘bring it back to your heart’? I just said וְיָדַעְתָּ, that you know it already. So what’s this business about וַהֲשֵׁבֹתָ אֶל לְבָבֶךָ, about bringing it back to your heart?
The answer is that even though you said it once, take it back again into your mind and think it over. And then again; each time, think about it more: הַשֵּׁם הוּא הָאֱלוֹקִים – Hashem is the Elokim.
The Never Ending Hunt
So a simple Jew hears this and he doesn’t understand what I’m talking about. “How much is there to think on הַשֵּׁם הוּא הָאֱלוֹקִים already? There is one Hashem; there is no trinity, there is no pantheon, there is no buddha and whatever other garbage they come up with. There is nothing in the world except Hashem. Ok, I’m done hunting. I caught the bird.”
No. It says וַהֲשֵׁבֹתָ אֶל לְבָבֶךָ. Keep taking it back into your mind. The same thing! Think about the words again and again. Each time you say שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל ה’ אֱלֹקֵינוּ ה’ אֶחָד – it’s repetition, it is nothing but repetition. But that’s everything! Repetition is what makes the mind.
The Chovos Halevavos says הַמַּחְשָׁבָה נִמְשֶׁכֶת אַחַר הַדִּבּוּר – Your mind follows your words. Do you hear that important principle? Your mind follows your words! It means if you say the right words enough times – and you’re thinking into the words – then your mind changes. The more you say the same words again and again the more your mind becomes influenced by these words.
That’s why the Am Yisroel lives by repetition. Our whole system of Judaism is repetition. When we finished this week Mesichta Kesubos in the shul, you remember what we said? הַדְרָן עֲלָךְ – We promise we are coming back to you; we are not finished, הַדְרָן עֲלָךְ מֶסִכְתָּא כְּתֻבּוֹת – You precious friend Kesubos, you beloved Mesichta Kesubos, we have put so many hours into you and we’re so happy with our accomplishment that we finished a whole mesichta but we are not saying farewell to you; we are coming back.
And soon, on Simchas Torah we’ll be finishing the whole Torah. A big happiness! We finished all the parshiyos! So what are we going to do now? Maybe something new, something novel we never saw before? No, it’s Bereishis all over again.
Bereishis again?! How many times can we do that? The answer is it’s never enough! As many times as we’re still breathing in this world we’ll repeat it because each time we read the words – if we think about them – we carve them deeper and deeper into our minds.
Dancing … Again!
Even the dancing and singing on Simchas Torah is a story of repetition. Now, most people don’t know this and so the day becomes a wasted opportunity. But actually that’s the purpose of going around and around repeating the same words again and again. Let’s say they’re singing כִּי מִצִּיּוֹן תֵּצֵא תוֹרָה וּדְבַר הַשֵּׁם מִיְּרוּשָׁלַיִם. It’s a pity; it’s a waste of time. A whole morning of repetition?! Maybe you should learn Mishnah Berurah or some other sefer during that time – you could accomplish so much. No; it doesn’t have to be a waste. The fact that you’re repeating the words should be utilized by you.
Each time you say it you’re thinking ‘From Tzion someday will come forth the Torah’ (Yeshaya 2:3). And each time, you say it with more conviction, with the intention that it should be deeper and deeper impressed into your neshamah that a time will come when the Torah will come out of Tzion. You’ll see what’s going to happen one day. It will be tremendous! A whole torrent of Torah will flow out of Tzion, and the dvar Hashem will come forth from Yerushalayim to the whole world.
Same thing when we sing אֲנָא עַבְדָּא דְּקֻדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא; that’s the national anthem of the Jewish people. ‘I am a servant of Hashem.” Now it doesn’t mean he’s an eved Hashem yet. But he’s saying it again and again, אֲנָא, אֲנָא, אֲנָא. “I want to be loyal to You, Hashem. I’ll think about You as much as possible. I’ll serve you as much as possible.”
Singing … Again!
So you say the words again and again. Again and again. Again and again you say the words. Not because you want to hear the niggun again; not because you want to maintain the tune. No, you want to maintain the words! You want to maintain the ideas! You want to put those words into your mind; you want it to go in so deep that you become a new personality.
All those songs which are shirei kodesh – you have to get those words into your head. That’s why it’s not good to have a niggun without words. No, it should be with words. And you say the words over and over again. And each time, as you walk and stamp and dance, you’re stamping the words into your heart. With each stamp, you bang it into your heart deeper and deeper. That’s the way to celebrate the Yom Tov – with repetition – so that when Simchas Torah is over, you’re not just tired and worn out; you’re also not the same person anymore!
That’s why I say it’s a beautiful minhag that some people have to say the Ani Maamins every day. Now, others might think, “Why every day? I said it once and I believe it.” It’s a good question – maybe the bar mitzvah boy should say it once at his bar mitzvah and finished. He accepted it once so why keep repeating it?
Emunah … Again!
The answer is that it’s not a matter of signing on the dotted line that you believe something; it’s a matter of making it part of who you are. Emunah in the beginning is like a very thin layer of paint – if you give a little scrape, the paint comes right off. But we’re in this world to get an emunah that’s thicker than that. And therefore it’s a matter of repeating the foundations of truth in order that each time we say it – if we say it properly – we’re adding another layer of paint each time. Each time we’re making it more and more clear to ourselves. And if you say it a thousand times you’re making a much deeper impression than saying it just once – even if you believed it the first time. It makes a tremendous difference in a person’s mind.
That’s why it is so important to repeat the same kriyas shema every day. And the same tefillos. Every time you say it you are making it more and more deeply engrained into your mind. Every word in the davening is a goldmine for changing your personality.
When you come to the second bracha in Shemona Esrei – I’m just saying an example – you say וְנֶאֱמָן אַתָּה לְהַחֲיוֹת מֵתִים – I trust You, Hashem, You will revive the dead. That’s one of the thirteen yesodos of our emunah, that the soul will be placed back into this body of flesh and blood. Now, I’m sorry to say – please be moichel me if I’m wrong – but almost nobody thinks what they’re saying. But that’s frustrating the plan of tefillah; the purpose of the repetition is so that you’ll think about it again and again until you become a maamin.
Coming Alive … Again!
You have to train yourself to believe it. You’ll say it by Shacharis and by Minchah and by Maariv again. And tomorrow you start the same business again. Again and again, וְנֶאֱמָן אַתָּה – I trust You, Hashem, לְהַחֲיוֹת מֵתִים – I trust You, Hashem!
If you want, you can say it twice; there’s no issur to repeat it. Because there’s no question about it you’re changing yourself every time you say it. Every day you hammer it in a little bit more until little by little, it starts becoming actual in your mind. It becomes real – you’re beginning to believe in techiyas hameisim,
That’s the great program of repeating the great truths over and over again. Instead of every day wanting to say something new, chiddushim; No! Repeat the same thing again and again, and spend your time impressing upon your neshamah the great truths of the Torah. When you repeat an idea over and over again it becomes part of your personality. And that’s the great Torah secret of וְשִׁנַּנְתָּם – you shall repeat them diligently again and again.
Part III. Reviewing Forever
The Repetitious Holiday
Now, once we learned this golden rule of וְשִׁנַּנְתָּם, let’s take it a step further and talk about putting it into practice in a different way; let’s talk about Shabbos. Shabbos is the day, more than any other day in the Jewish calendar, that we repeat again and again. And that’s because Shabbos is the day, more than any other, for acquiring a Torah mind by means of repetition.
Imagine that you are getting ready now to make kiddush on Friday night. Your family is assembled around the table and you are holding the goblet of wine. And because you’re a nervy fellow, you are gutsy and original, so you say, “Children, you know what we are going to do now?”
So your children look at you funny. “Oh no,” they’re thinking, “not this again.”
“Totty, we’re making kiddush.”
“But do you know what kiddush is about? Kiddush is about the Creation of the world!”
Not Again, Ta!
They heard it a hundred times already. That’s what they’re thinking. So, a hundred and one times tell them. Let them hear it again! Because if a hundred times didn’t impress them enough that they want to hear it again, then it is not enough. You have to be thirsty to hear kiddush again. That’s how important of an event it is.
The Gemara says that when you come home Friday night so before you make kiddush you have to say Vayechulu. וַיְכֻלּוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ וְכָל צְבָאָם. You are making that statement, an announcement, that the world was finished in seven days.
Now you say it every week and you’ve been hearing it even before you had your own house, from your father who said it every week. There is nothing new here it seems; you are not adding a single word – it is exactly the same. But we’ll see now that it’s not.
The Gemara says בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁאוֹמֵר וַיְכֻלּוּ בָּאִים שְׁנֵי מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁרֵת – at the time when a man says Vayechulu two angels come. Isn’t that a good idea to think about when you are getting up to say kiddush? Two malachim just slipped in. You don’t see them; they know how to do it in such a way that you shouldn’t see them. But they’re standing there.
And our Sages tell us that these angels put their hands on your head. Now, nobody should grin — we have to take this seriously; it is very important. When the malachim see that you are saying vayechulu they put their hands on your head and they are giving you a blessing.
And they are giving you some blessing. They say, וְסָר עֲוֹנֶךָ וְחַטָּאתְךָ תְּכֻפָּר – “Your sin is departing and your iniquities are wiped out.” You didn’t know about that? A glorious opportunity to wipe out your sins! Of course, it can’t be better than Yom Kippur; Yom Kippur also wipes out your sins but you have to repent.
Time for Introspection
So before we say vayechulu now we have an idea what to do. We should be meharer b’teshuvah. Isn’t that a good idea? Before you make kiddush – the family is chattering and your wife is bringing in some more things on the table, and nobody is thinking about doing teshuvah, but you; you’re sitting there for a moment and you’re thinking of something wrong that you did.
It’s not so hard to find. It doesn’t have to be something new every week; think of the same thing two, three weeks. Sometimes it’s so serious you can think about it for years and years every time you make kiddush. You regret that you did it; that’s teshuva – you regret that you did it and you’re thinking of ways to make sure you don’t repeat that sin. So now when you stand up to say Vayechulu, you are utilizing that great opportunity for achieving atonement. Kiddush becomes now a Yom Kippur for you – you’re forgiven.
The question is why do you deserve it? Are you saying something original? What’s new about it? You said it last week too. Your whole family is a scholarly family; all the children go to yeshivos, the girls go to Beis Yaakov – they all know the words by memory. So what are you telling them?
The answer is what we’re talking about tonight. Repetition of great ideas is priceless! You can never say a great idea once too much. And this is the greatest of ideas! You are saying here that the whole universe came into being at the Word of Hashem. Forget about certain molecules coming together. That’s good for a high school boy, for superficial people. On Shabbos we’re talking about the One who made the molecules.
The Great Creation
A molecule is a very complicated business; an atom is extremely complicated. An atom is a whole system of electrical circuits and it operates in an orbit, and orbits within orbits. You see pictures, models, of an atom. It’s tremendously complicated. And even that is a simplified version. They once thought they knew what the nucleus is but now they discovered that the nucleus is a whole new kind of secret; it’s more complicated than they ever dreamed.
So how did all this happen? Where did it come from?
So you get up now on Friday night to make the big announcement. And it is such a great announcement that you just can’t say it with mere words—you have to make a proclamation over a goblet of wine. So you pick up the wine and you say, “Listen my children! וַיְכֻלּוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ. He made everything! From His own imagination He caused this great universe – that is so complicated in every detail – to come into being.”
“But we said it last week,” your children are thinking, “so how much originality can we add this week?” You need a microscope to detect the amount that you added this week to what you thought last week. But there is a difference. Repetition makes a difference! Repetition turns simple things into gold.
“And therefore my children,” you say, “for the thousandth time and the ten thousandth time; and if you will hear it a billion times you still won’t understand it because it’s so profound; all your lives and the lives of your progeny forever can be spent in studying this and you will never come to the bottom of it, to the depths of this truth how Hashem made everything from nothing.
The Moment of Forgiveness
That’s why we say Vayechulu every Friday night. And that’s why we say it three times every Friday night! Because each time is another layer of emunah. And the malachim appreciate that and they come forward and put their hands on your head and they say, ‘This is a great moment for you my friend. You don’t know how lucky you are. You just acquired another little bit of daas, a little bit more of a Torah mind. And therefore you deserve to have your sins forgiven.” Now, some sins will need the help of Yom Kippur too, but they will put it on the conveyor belt and convey it for Yom Kippur; it is already on the way.
You have learned a great thing tonight. Next time you hear kiddush – you don’t have to be the father of the house; even a child who is listening – prepare yourself.
So while your brothers and sisters are frolicking, think for a moment about the words that you’re about to hear – the tremendous principle of Maaseh Bereishis Yeish Mei’ayin. And the malachim will put their hands on your head too because you are listening; you are yotzei kiddush.
And once you get started, once you’ve learned this lesson of repeating the great truths of Shabbos, so it’s not merely kiddush — the entire Shabbos is transformed into a goldmine of opportunities. You know, that’s what the Shabbos seudos are for; the real purpose of oneg Shabbos is to get you into a good mood, to be more energetic and enthusiastic about activating your mind to repeat the great lessons of Shabbos.
The Great Lessons
So while you’re chewing the first bite of challah, your mind is chewing over again the most important truth, the first principle of the Torah, Bereishis bara Elokim. You’re thinking, “You, Hashem, made the world out of nothing. Before, nothing existed, not even energy particles. No chemicals at all. You, Hashem, by Your command caused everything to come into being. The entire nature was created only by Your wish.”
But you don’t stop there. You can do it on the second kezayis too if you want. “I’m eating for the purpose of celebrating briyas ha’oilam yeish mei’ayin. There’s no walls, there’s no ceiling, there’s no floor, there’s no sky, there’s no earth. It’s only Hashem’s Word.”
Don’t think it’s boring. The more you review these ideas, it becomes sweeter and sweeter in your mouth. And you’ll be amazed at what it does to you. You’ll find that you’re changing, every bite, every thought, you’re becoming a new person. After a while you have a Shabbos mind – even on Sunday and Monday and all week long, your mind is a Shabbos mind, a Torah mind.
Career of Preparation
Now, all this repetition — that’s the life of a loyal frum Jew — is the best preparation for the Next World. Because the more of a Torah mind you create for yourself in this world, the more you’ll reap the benefits of that acquisition in the World to Come.
What’s going to be in the next world? About the Olam Haba it says, וְאָמַר בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא – He is going to say on that day. Who is going to say? Anybody who will be around – not everybody will be there but those who will be around will say on that day. הִנֵּה אֱלֹקֵינוּ זֶה – “Behold this is our G-d, קִוִּינוּ לוֹ וְיוֹשִׁיעֵנוּ – we hoped to Him and He saved us, He helped us. זֶה ה’ קִוִּינוּ לוֹ – this is Hashem to whom we hoped, נָגִילָה וְנִשְׂמְחָה בִּישׁוּעָתוֹ – let us rejoice and let us be happy in His salvation.
Now listen what the Gemara (Taanis 31a) says about this verse. אָמַר רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר – Rabbi Elazar said, עָתִיד הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לַעֲשׂוֹת מָחוֹל לְצַדִּיקִים – In the time to come Hakadosh Baruch Hu will make a ring dance for the righteous. Pay attention to that – a ring dance. Why a ring dance? You know, there is such a thing as a single-file dance. But a single file dance comes to an end; sooner or later you come to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean and you can’t go any further. A ring dance however goes around in a circle and so it goes on and on forever. It means that in Olam Haba will be a dance that will never end.
Pointing Him Out
Who are we dancing around? וְהוּא יוֹשֵׁב בֵּינֵיהֶם בְּגַן עֵדֶן – Hakadosh Baruch Hu is sitting in the middle and we are dancing around Him. וְכָל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד מַרְאֶה בְּאֶצְבָּעוֹ – and everybody will point with his finger to Hashem and he going to say these words: “This is Hashem!
In this world we talk about Hashem but we can’t say where He is – He is everywhere but everywhere doesn’t mean you can point it out. But when the World to Come will arrive we are going to be able to see Hakadosh Baruch Hu to our heart’s content.
Now, the first time around, it’s going to be tremendous happiness. To see Hashem?! There’s no greater happiness! But each time they go around they are seeing more. They went around once and they saw Him the first time. Then they go around a second time, this time they recognize Him even more. It’s the same circle but each time they repeat this dance around Him they see more and more.
And that is the picture we are given of what is going to happen to the people who are busy repeating the great Torah ideals in this world. The great ideas, never weary of them. And repeat them constantly in this life and the time will come when we will enjoy that in that ring dance that will last forever. And we are going to say the first time Elokeinu and the second time Hashem and the third time I can’t tell you and the fourth time I surely can’t tell you, and it will go on and on forever, greater and greater and it will be a happiness that is endless. נָגִילָה וְנִשְׂמְחָה – we are going to rejoice and be happy בִּישׁוּעָתוֹ.
Have A Wonderful Shabbos
Let’s Get Practical
Career of Repetition
The command in our Parshah that we repeat the Torah Truths to our children teaches us the great principle of always reviewing Torah principles. Only by means of constant repetition can we make these great principles part of our personalities, so that it becomes etched into our souls for the World to Come. This week I will try to repeat the great Torah Truths to my family constantly. Additionally I will bli neder repeat the words וְנֶאֱמָן אַתָּה לְהַחֲיוֹת מֵתִים when I recite the Shemonah Esrei, having in mind thereby to acquire real tangible belief in techiyas hameisim, as well as practicing repetition for the rest of the day.
Tapes: 141 – Repeating Great Truths | E-123 – For the Greater Honor of Hashem | E-202 – Career of Speaking | E-252 – Man the Seeker | E-267 – Remember Me
Over and Over and Over and Over and Over and Over and Over and Over and Over
The bochurim from Yeshivas Toras Gavriel excitedly got off the buses at Achziv National Park outside the town of Nahariyya. The entire yeshivah was going on a bein hazmanim “tornado” boating trip in the Mediterranean.
As the boys approached the boating club, they were greeted by a worker who started assigning them to the different boats that were awaiting them. The talmidim of shiur beis took their seats on a boat driven by a friendly man named “Ofir”.
“Do you boys want me to drive fast or slow?” Ofir asked them.
“Fast!” all of the bochurim answered at once.
“Excellent,” Ofir said with a huge grin.
Soon all of the boats were sailing away from the coast.
“How far away is Rosh Hanikrah?” Tzviki, the bochur sitting closest to the driver asked.
“Oh, just a few kilometers,” Ofir answered. “Do you want to go in that direction?”
“Yes!!!” the bochurim answered enthusiastically and the boat zipped off to the north.
After a few minutes Ofir slowed the boat down. The boys looked up and saw the famous yellow and red Rosh Hanikrah cable cars hanging from wires above them.
“Look, there you can see the Rosh Hanikrah caves,” said Ofir, pointing at the coast. “Those were formed by the rushing sea water, which cut into the rock.”
Ofir got as close as he safely could to the caves and some of the boys took pictures of the beautiful niflaos haborei. A little while later, Ofir turned the boat south and they began picking up speed again, water occasionally spraying them as they cut through the waves.
“Ofir, look! Are those islands?” asked Tzviki.
“They sure are! Here, I’ll give you a closer look!” Ofir turned towards the small islands about a kilometer off of the coast.
The bochurim admired the view as Ofir circled the islands, when there was a loud crash and the whole boat gave a huge jolt. Everyone suddenly grew very quiet.
“Oh no, we appear to have hit a rock,” Ofir said, as water began to slowly fill the boat. “Everyone, jump out!”
The boys were a bit nervous, but they were all wearing life jackets, so they all climbed overboard and started swimming towards the closest island.
It didn’t take long for the boys to reach the island, where they took off their life jackets and the hot sun began to dry out their clothes.
“Elchonon, is that a daf of Gemara?” asked Levi.
“Yes,” said Elchonon, carefully unfolding a soaking piece of paper in his hand. “I copied the amud that I’m currently holding in so I could learn on the bus.”
Elchonon gently placed the amud Gemara on a rock so that it could dry out.
After a few minutes, Ofir said “they are going to send a boat to pick us up, but it is going to take some time because there is a mechanical issue with the boat’s engine.”
“Levi, do you want to learn with me?” asked Elchonon after his amud Gemara had dried off.
“Sure!” Levi replied as they sat down on a rock and began to learn.
Within a few minutes, all of the bochurim had gathered around and were learning together. It was an easy amud, and after finishing it they went back and started chazering it. Even Ofir, who had nothing else to do, sat listening to them learn.
As the time ticked away, the bochurim kept learning and re-learning the Gemara over and over. Soon, they all knew the whole amud baal-peh and were able to learn without even looking inside.
They were so involved in the learning that they all jumped when they suddenly heard the loud horn of a boat. They looked up and saw a much larger boat than the one they had wrecked about a hundred meters from the tiny island.
Quickly, two men on the boat lowered a rubber raft into the water, and after a few back-and-forth trips, everyone was safely aboard the boat. The men on the boat had brought along bottles of water, which the thirsty bochurim gratefully accepted.
A few minutes later, as they reached the shore, Ofir turned to the bochurim.
“I don’t understand,” he asked. “You spent several hours learning the same thing over and over and over. You obviously knew it well – you were even saying it by heart! Why did you keep learning? What is the point, once you know it?”
“Ofir,” Elchonon said with a smile. “We say every day in Shema ‘וְשִנַּנְתָּם’. This means that it’s not enough to learn Torah. The mitzvah is to repeat it over and over and over again. No matter how many times we learn something, every time we learn something new. And more than that, the Torah becomes more and more a part of us. The Gemara tells us that someone who learns without reviewing it is like someone who plants a field and then never harvests it. The point of learning Torah is not just to learn it – the constant review is the point because that is what makes it a part of who we are!”
Ofir thought about this. He didn’t know much about learning Torah, but what Elchonon taught him made him want to start discovering what it was all about!
Have a Wonderful Shabbos!
Takeaway: The ideals of Torah are something that we want to make a part of ourselves. It’s not enough just to hear something once and move on, we have to review it and review it and never get tired of hearing the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over