Memorial Day Weekend
This Shabbos I had tremendous Siyatah Dishmaya – Divine Providence. I was in Shul Shabbos morning and I am a pacer. As I was walking out the Shul at its back entrance to study Daf Yomi in the back yard, I noticed an old Sefer sitting by the Rabbi’s seat. I picked it up and was smitten. I forsake learning Daf Yomi, which set me back 2 Blatt, to learn and understand the Sefer. I spent over two hours learning the Sefer.
The name of the Sefer is Ahavas Shaul, printed in Chicago in 1916 by Rabbi Shaul Yedidya Shochet. He was Rov of a Shul called Anshei Nariditch. I found the following biographical information on the web:
Shochet issued them (his Teshuvos) between 12 June 1905 and 12 Feb. 1920 while serving as a Rabbi in England, Kansas City (MO), Louisville and Chicago. Most deal with matters of divorce. Some were issued in response to conditions in the various communities in which he served. Others are addressed to Russian, German, British, Belgian and American rabbis. Among the American correspondents are R. Zevi Hirsch Grodzinsky of Omaha. (Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik mentioned Reb Tzvi Hirsch Grodzinsky in a Sholsh Seuduas speech in 1973.) R. Dov Baer [Bernard] Abramowitz of St. Louis, R. Joseph Zechariah Rosenfeld of St. Louis, R. Robias Geffen of Atlanta and R. Mordekhai Solomon Siber of Minneapolis. Shochet was born in Old Zagare, Kovno Province, in 1860. He served as rabbi for 14 years in a number of Russian communities before immigrating to Hull, England in 1905. After serving as a rabbi there for one year, he proceeded to America and occupied pulpits in Perth Amboy (NJ), Kansas City (MO), Louisville and finally, in 1916, Chicago. Bookseller Inventory # 005673.
Who knows when this Sefer was last opened and when someone last read Rabbi Shochet’s Torah, let alone spoke it out at a Shabbos meal. I decided to speak the Torah of Rabbi Shochet at the Shlosh Suedas meal. Rabbi Shochet lived at 736 S. Marshfield, Chicago. The Gemora says that when the Torah of a deceased person is read, the lips of the deceased person who wrote and said the Torah moves. Rabbi Shochet mentions this Gemora in his introduction.
Early in the afternoon I went to my nephew’s house, Yonatan Glenner, to show him and learn from the Sefer. I was re-reading the introduction and a thunderbolt hit me. In his introduction, Rabbi Shaul Yedidya Shochet said that he wrote and signed the introduction to his Sefer on the 20th of Iyar 1916. This Shabbos is the 20th of Iyar (May 23, 1916). I discovered this Sefer 103 years to the date when the author finished the Sefer. Wow. What a Zichus.
When I spoke later Shabbos, I discovered that my nephew, Mayer Chase, knew about Rabbi Shochet and had another one of his books, Tiferas Yedidya, which is on the four portions of the Shulchan Aruch. Tiferas Yedidya was published in 1920. Rabbi Shochet put in his Haskomos – approbations that he received when his first Sefer came out in 1903. On Monday of Parshas Yisro 1902, January 27, 1902 Rabbi Avrohom Yitzchok Hacohen Kook wrote a Haskama. The Haskamah was written when Rabbi Kook was still Rabbi in Boisk. Rabbi Kook made Aliyah in 1904. It is signed, Rabbi Kook. Servant of this Nation of God.
There is also a Haskama from Rabbi Yaakov Dovid Wilovsky, the Ridvaz, who signed his Haskama on the 19th of Shevat 1903, February 16, 1903. The Ridvaz writes that he is the Goan, Av Bais Din of Slutzk. The Ridvaz travelled to Chicago to raise money to publish his Seforim. The Ridvaz was forced to flee Chicago in the middle of the night in 1900 due to problems with Schitah in Chicago. The Ridvaz’s opponent was Rabbi Album of Mishne Gemoro, the Shul where I daven. In the Rivdaz’s Haskamah he writes, “I know quite well that the author is a great person, one of the expert Rabbis, but his Mazel caused him to live in a distressful place.”
The third Haskama is from Rabbi Shmuel Yaakov Rabinowitz from Yalik. I tried to locate him but am so far unsuccessful.
It is important to not the Rabbi Shaul Yedidya Shochet wrote the below in 1916 when it was very difficult to keep Shabbos. His first essay on Behar touches upon this difficulty.
Vayikra – Chapter 25 – Verse 2:
דַּבֵּ֞ר אֶל־בְּנֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ וְאָמַרְתָּ֣ אֲלֵהֶ֔ם כִּ֤י תָבֹ֙אוּ֙ אֶל־הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֲנִ֖י נֹתֵ֣ן לָכֶ֑ם וְשָׁבְתָ֣ה הָאָ֔רֶץ שַׁבָּ֖ת לַיהוָֽה׃
Speak to the children of Israel and say to them: When you enter the land that I give to you, the land shall observe a sabbath of the LORD.
The words לַיהוָֽה וְשָׁבְתָ֣ה הָאָ֔רֶץ שַׁבָּ֖ת means, just like on a regular Shabbos, Shabbos is for God where we have no power to earn a living – yet it protects us and provides support for our families during the six days of work, so I am asking you, וְשָׁבְתָ֣ה הָאָ֔רֶץ, that for six years plant your fields, prune your vineyards, and gather your crops; but the seventh year should be a שַׁבַּ֤ת שַׁבָּתוֹן֙ יִהְיֶ֣ה לָאָ֔רֶץ שַׁבָּ֖ת לַיהוָ֑ה – “the land shall have a sabbath of complete rest, a sabbath of the LORD”. The explanation being that just like Shabbos is completely holy to God because Hashem Yisborach rested from work, so too the seventh year must be holy to God, forbidden to plant, plow, and harvest. The Torah concludes that even though you cease from work; nonetheless if you have faith in Hashem Yisborach, “The Sabbath produce of the land shall be yours to eat” and “even for your animals” because through faith in Hashem Yisborach, Hashem Yisborach will send you a double blessing.
Rabbi Shaul Yedidya Schohet continues. Based on this (concept of faith in God) we can answer the question of the Alshich. The Parshah opens with כִּ֤י תָבֹ֙אוּ֙ אֶל־הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֲנִ֖י נֹתֵ֣ן לָכֶ֑ם -plural, when all of you come into the land. The Torah then continues in the singular – שֵׁ֤שׁ שָׁנִים֙ תִּזְרַ֣ע שָׂדֶ֔ךָ וְשֵׁ֥שׁ שָׁנִ֖ים תִּזְמֹ֣ר כַּרְמֶ֑ךָ וְאָסַפְתָּ֖ אֶת־תְּבוּאָתָֽהּ׃.
The Alshich asks – the Torah should be consistent, either all plural or all singular. The Ahavas Shaul answers that we can understand it according to the above explanation (which is all about faith in God). How is it possible that a person can keep the commandants of the Seventh year to allow everyone take the fruits of the land in the seventh year that comes to a person him with great effort. Therefore the Torah explains, do not question this commandment (of Shmittah) because the Torah tells us כִּ֤י תָבֹ֙אוּ֙ אֶל־הָאָ֔רֶץ, you (all the Jewish people) received the land of Israel because I gave the land to all of you. As a result all the Jews are partners in the land of Israel. It is enough for each one of you to work your own fields, prune your vineyards, and you alone gather the crops for six years and not others. However, the beginning of Behar tells us that the Jews are partners in the land because God gave Israel to the entire nation of Israel to settle the land. This partnership manifests itself during the Shmittah year, the seventh year, when anyone can walk into any field and take the produce on any field. (I may add – this creates a comradery, a sense of responsibility, a partnership)
Rabbi Shaul Yedidya Shochet then goes on and discusses the Gemoro on Sanhedrin 91A which brings down the story where the people of Africa brought a lawsuit against the Jews before Alexander the Great. I spent two hours on the last 2 pages of his Torah on this Gemara. It is attached in the Hebrew