August 15, 2020 – Shabbos – Parshas Re’eh

My Speech on the Parsha

Passing of Rabbi Adin Evan-Israel Steinsaltz

Cholent by Rachelle and Aryeh Benjamin.

My Speech on the Parsha

Chapter 11, Verse 26 states:

  רְאֵ֗ה אָנֹכִ֛י נֹתֵ֥ן לִפְנֵיכֶ֖ם הַיּ֑וֹם בְּרָכָ֖ה וּקְלָלָֽה׃

“See, this day I set before you blessing and curse”

The word רְאֵ֗ה is singular and the word לִפְנֵיכֶ֖ם is plural.  The question is why.  The Kli Yakar says:

Look, I place before you today. “See” is singular. “Before you” is plural. This is what our Sages teach us: A person must always view things as if the entire world is half righteous and half wicked. If he performs a single mitzvah he tips himself and the entire world to the side of merit. Therefore Moshe spoke to every individual, “See” that he should see in his thought that every single action affects all of them.

The Kotzker asks the question and answers based on the Zohar on the words in Exodus 18:1 –

וַיִּשְׁמַ֞ע יִתְר֨וֹ .  The entire world heard about the miracles, the Jews leaving Egypt, the splitting of the sea, and everything else, but Yisro heard and acted.  Same thing when something is giving, everyone is included because it is given to everyone. Equally., but when it comes to seeing and perception, everyone is different, because everyone sees things through their efforts and understanding.   

Similarly, the Kotzker says the Shevous is called “the time of the giving of the Torah,” not “the time of the acceptance of the Torah” because God gave the same Torah to everyone, but everyone accepted it differently.  

The understanding of Torah is based on what we put into a piece of Torah. Written Torah is two dimensional; sometimes the Torah even in a two dimensional format is profound by itself.  However, many times  the Torah seems flat and the reader must put his being and thoughts into the bring out the profundity of what is being said.  This differs from person to person, based on their level of learning, life experiences, age, childhood, and everything else that makes up a person.

There is a story in the book, Siach Sarfei Kodesh, about the RIM that takes place in roughly 1815.  After the RIM’s marriage and spending three months with the Koshnitzer Magid, who was the Shadchen, the RIM moved to Warsaw to live by his father-in-law.  The Lissa Rav – Yaakov ben Moshe Lorberbaum of Lissa (1760-1832)  (  had a question he could not answer.  The RIM (1787-1866), answered the question.  The Lissa Rav stood for a few moments in deep thought and said – that I answer the question this way and the RIM says another answer.  I can engage in debate with the RIM, however, ultimately I know he is right.  I do not want to engage in

debate because through the power of debate and persuasion I may get him to change his answer, and I know he is right.  The truth lies with him.    

Interesting that the Lissa Rov learned in the Yeshiva of Rabbi Yosef Hochgelenter in Zamusz, the same yeshiva that the Kotzker Rebbe learned years later.

This is a nice story, but would like to add my learning and understanding into the Torah and bring out the WOW of the story. 

The RIM was born in 1799, while the Lissa Rov was born in 1760. The Lissa Rav was the Gadol Hador of Torah Jewry at that time.  Per Rabbi Dishon, the RIM this story takes place when the RIM was a teenager, roughly in 1815.  Therefore at the time this meeting took place, the Lissa Rov was 55, while the RIM was 16.   The Lissa Rav did not let ego get in the way.  He was willing to recognize the truth in what the RIM said, someone who was only 16.   Even more amazing.   The RIM was a Chassidic young man.   Imagine a Chassid answering the Misnagdic Gadol Hador.    The Misnagdim were locked into a fight with the Chassidim for the hearts and minds of Jewry.   Misnagidm claimed that Chassdim were ignorant and did not produce Torah scholars.  The RIM disproved this.   The Lissa Rav could have been bribed by the need to fight and disprove the RIM simply because we Misnagdim do not like Chassidim.  As we say, bribery twists the truth.  The Llissa Rov could have disagreed on a conscious or subconscious level  with the RIM because a Chosid cannot learn like a Misnagid, so therefore the RIM had to be wrong.  Or even if he recognized that the RIM was correct, he may have purposely disagreed with the RIM so as not to acknowledge the greatness of the Torah of a Chosid.  

Had ego been a factor or a Misnagdic dislike for the Chassid, the Lissa Rav would not have had a clear mind to see the truth in the RIM’s answe and  the Lissa Rav could have argued with the RIM and perhaps gotten the RIM to change his mind.  Remember, the Lissa Rav had memorized the entire Shas, Rishonim, and Poskim in his mind.  Had he had an agenda, then he would have fought the RIM.  However, the Lissa Rav was committed to the truth in Torah and publicly admitted that this Chassidic young man is correct.

This is how Torah has to be learned and why Torah is not the same for everyone.

Passing of Rabbi Adin Evan-Israel Steinsaltz:

On Friday, August 7, Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinslatz passed away.  He was a prolific author, an inspiration to many people, and was one the first to make Gemoro accessible to the masses.   He was generous with his time.  He grew up in Israel, not Orthodox, and became a great Torah scholar.  He was the living embodiment of the Kli Yakar.  He was an individual that made a major impact on the entire Jewish people.  He did not live for himself, but to spread Torah and educate Jewry.  He was a Lubivatcher, but his Yeshivas were in the Dati Leumi world.   I failed to meet him and am diminished for not having met him or heard him speak. The closest I came to him was in 2015 when I was in Israel visiting Chani, my daughter who was at Seminary, I happened upon the Tzemach Tzedek shul located at the start of the Arab Shuk that leads to the Damascus gate.  I came after davening.  I was told that Rabbi Steinsaltz davens in the Shul.

His history is detailed on the website:

RabbiAdin Even-Israel Steinsaltz
עדין אבן-ישראל שטיינזלץ‎
Rabbi Adin Even-Israel (Steinsaltz) (cropped).JPGSteinsaltz in 2010
BornAdin Steinsaltz11 July 1937Jerusalem, Mandatory Palestine(now Israel)
Died7 August 2020 (aged 83)Jerusalem, Israel
Resting placeHar HaZeitim
Alma materHebrew University of Jerusalem
OccupationRabbi, author
Notable workThe Talmud: The Steinsaltz Edition
SpouseChildrenSaraMenachem, Amechaye, Esther Sheleg

Cholent by Rachelle and Aryeh Benjamin.

For lunch I had Cholent by my cousins, the Benjamins.  Rachelle’s cholent was fabulous.  No garlic.  I came at 12:40 PM and was the guest who never left, leaving at 4:00 PM.  This is the fourth Shabbos of “going for Cholent by my family”.  I previously have been to Yonatan Glenner, Mayer Chase, and Eliyahu Glenner.