Shabbos Parshas Shemini – April 10, 2021 – 29Nisan 5781

 

Tomorrow is Zedi Sklar’s mother Yahrzeit – see pictures at the end of this post.

I saw this beautiful Kotzker.

VaYikra 11:33

וְכָל־כְּלִי־חֶ֔רֶשׂ אֲשֶׁר־יִפֹּ֥ל מֵהֶ֖ם אֶל־תּוֹכ֑וֹ כֹּ֣ל אֲשֶׁ֧ר בְּתוֹכ֛וֹ יִטְמָ֖א וְאֹת֥וֹ תִשְׁבֹּֽרוּ׃  

Rashi –             (אל תוכו. אֵין כְּלִי חֶרֶס מִטַּמֵּא אֶלָּא מֵאֲוִירוֹ (חולין כ”ד

Rashi –    ואותו תשברו. לִמֵּד שֶׁאֵין לוֹ טָהֳרָה בַּמִּקְוֶה:

Kotzker Torah on this Passuk:

הטעם שאין כלי  חרש מטמא אלא מתוכו וגם כן אין לו טהרה בּמקוה, משׁום שכלי חרס אין לו שׁום חשיבות בּעצם, כי במה נחשב הוא  חרש מחרשי האדמה,  ורק עיקר חשיבות אצלו  שיש לו תוך ויכולין להכנס בו איזה דבר לפיכך אינה מטמאה  מגבּה אלא מתוכו  שעיקרו  הוא התוך,  וכן הוא האדם עפר מן אדמה ואין לו חשׁיבות אלא אם כן ישׁ בּתוכו ממש.

The Kotzker says that we can give a reason for this anomaly by Tumah  – a  כְּלִי־חֶ֔רֶשׂ only becomes Tamah from its inside and there is purification in a Mikvah because  a  כְּלִי־חֶ֔רֶשׂ has no  חשׁיבית בּעצם – intrinsic value, because it is made out of plain dirt (clay). All of its חשׁיבית is only because it has an inside – תוך and can hold items.  Therefore an earthenware vessel does not become Tamah from its outside, only from its inside because the essence of an earthenware utensil is the inside.  So it is true by man who is created from the dust of the earth –  וַיִּיצֶר֩ יְהוָ֨ה אֱלֹהִ֜ים אֶת־הָֽאָדָ֗ם עָפָר֙ מִן־הָ֣אֲדָמָ֔ה וַיִּפַּ֥ח בְּאַפָּ֖יו נִשְׁמַ֣ת חַיִּ֑ים וַֽיְהִ֥י הָֽאָדָ֖ם לְנֶ֥פֶשׁ חַיָּֽה׃  (Bereshisis 2:7), man’s only value is if he has a  תוך.  

What does the Kotzker mean?   I believe that the Kotzker Is speaking about the human condition.  Man’s value only comes about when he puts self worth, positive values, and essence into his being, into his psyche.  Man has to feel in his core that I am something. Man does have life force from Hashem, however, that is not enough.  

This is expressed in a story about Reb Leible Eiger. See below for the complete Hebrew text.   Reb Leible Eiger travels to Kotzk against the wishes of his grandfather, Reb Akiva Eiger, and father, Reb Shlomo Eiger.  Reb Shlomo Eiger sends a messenger to Kotzk to see what is going on in Kotzk.  The messenger sees Reb Leibele Eiger sitting at a meal with the students and someone runs in and says  Reb Hersh Ber has arrived. They all ran to greet Reb Hersh Ber.  The messinger follows expecting to see a Talmud Chocom or a distinguished person.  He sees a man dressed as a farmer without the appearance of a distinguished person.  When the messenger asks, why did everyone run to greet Reb Hersh Ber, he is told that Reb Hersh Ber is an עניו – a humble person

has nothing.  On this Reb Chenich Henoch from  Alekander responds, I say that even though he has nothing, and yet he is an  עניו – this is his great מדריגה.    Explanation – someone who is down because he has nothing is depressed.  He is not an  עניו.   I believe what Reb Henoch Chenoch was saying is that Reb Hersh Ber despite having nothing significant in this world, still embraced life, he was happy, and my guess is that his joy of life was infectious.  His being an עניו was that he embraced God, accepted his lot in life, and spread joy to everyone.   Kotzk is synonymous with learning and great Torah scholarship.  Yet Reb Hersh Ber was embraced even though he was unlearned.   Reb Hersh Ber had a strong  תוך .

I showed this to Yonatan Glenner and he answered the way most people would say that he needs to put into himself holiness, Torah, and dedication to Hashem.  You can also add  that man has the spirit of God within him as it says  וַיִּפַּ֥ח בְּאַפָּ֖יו נִשְׁמַ֣ת חַיִּ֑ים.   I do not think this is what the Kotzker means.     Man is created from lowly earth, a product that has zero value.   Man must put value into his life. Man must create a חשיבות into the vessel that was created by God from earth.  

My wife had an uncle who had a tough life.   He needed medication. He was divorced.  In the family business, he was given no responsibility and was ignored.  He lived a life of solitude.  How did he create a  תוך? His son in law spoke at the first year Yahrzeit Kiddush that,”my father-in-law was an honored person, why? because his daughter honored him.”  This said it all, by his daughter getting involved in her father’s life towards the end and showing him honor made her father a man of respect.  

In 1998 I was unhappy at work and interviewed at another bank.  I was offered a job.  I decided not to take the job because I was told that I would not have control over my position.   The person offering me the job had wealth.  About 15 years later lost everything.   I also had a boss who also lost close to $20 million.  How do you live with yourself?  My boss does not have a family and has no one. He has to somehow create a   תוך.     The person offering me the job in 1998 has a son in law who is a big Talmud Chachum and has a beautiful family.  This person through his family has a תוך , something he can be proud of, a sense of accomplishment and wake up every morning with a zest for life.  I do not know if he focuses on his bad decision making or if he realizes that he had to lose the money to have a great family.

It took me many years to find my personal  תוך.        

Pictures of Zedi’s mother, Chana Henya Sklar:

Selichos, Eruv Rosh Hashanah – September 18, 2020

 Kotzker Vort:

אין שׁלם כלב שבור, אין ישר כסולם עקום, ואין עקום כבּדותת יושר (גלייך ווערטל)

There is nothing whole as a broken heart, there is nothing straight than a crooked ladder, and there is nothing more crooked (deep) than a simple thought.


I attended Selichos tonight, Eruv Rosh Hashanah.   In Selicha # כט  which starts אֵל־אֱמוּנָה עֶזְרָה הָבָה it says    הַיְשַׁר לְפָנֶיךָ לֵב־עָקֹב. – “Straighten before you a crooked heart”.    I stopped as if hit by a thunderbolt.  The following Kotzker Vort popped into my mind  – (אין שׁלם כלב שבור, אין ישר כסולם עקום, ואין עקום כבּדותת יושר (גלייך ווערטל -“there is nothing whole as a broken heart, there is nothing straight than a crooked ladder, and there is nothing more crooked than a simple thought.”  I gave this Kotzker Vort much thought.

I pictured in my mind one Eruv Rosh Hashanah morning while it was still dark, Selichos were being said in Kotzk.  The Kotzker Rebbe read the above Slicha, stopped, and became immersed in thought.   He thought to himself,  Klal Yisroel are a broken people from all their  צרות, both on personal levels and on communal levels.  The Kotzker Rebbe prayed – Hashem Yisborach, the Jewish people have broken hearts, there is nothing more whole than a broken heart, אין שׁלם כלב שבור , there is no need to straighten out their hearts, they are pure and holy.  Give Klal Yisroel everything they need, both spiritually and a fulfillment of their physical needs.  Give them Parnossah, let them marry off their children, free them from the heavy hand of daily living, the Poritz, the government, and having their kids berong forcibly pressed into the army by the Russian government (cantonists). 

The Kotzker perhaps at this moment or later added two more sayings that talk about  ישר and  עקום.        

 אין ישר כסולם עקום – There is nothing straight like a twisted ladder.   I speculate that it means – the ladder refers to the spiritual ladder of Yaakov on which people ascend during their lifetime to the heavens, to achieve Ruchniyos.   The lifetime striving to do the right thing to reach Hashem does not follow a straight and direct path.  It follows a jagged path, rising, falling like a crooked ladder that has twists and turns, but always moving skyward.   The crooked path is really the straight path because it cannot be done any other way.  Similar to the following chart of the stock market prices, while there are dips and valleys, the stock market trends upward. 

Beautiful  Kotzker on the Pri Megadim:


Emails to and from various Rabbis:

From: Mitchell Morgenstern <mitchellamorgenstern@gmail.com>

Date: Fri, Sep 18, 2020 at 1:27 AM

Subject: Thank You

To: Ben Sugerman , Moshe Revah

Dear Teachers:

Thank you for all the Torah you have taught me this year and every year.  Have a Kesiva V’Chasimah Tovah.  

I worked on the below Kotzker Vort.  While you can change the way I expressed my thoughts, the examples I gave, I believe they are the basic ideas of the Kotzker..At the bottom of the email I put in a magnificent Vort from the Kotzker.on the Pri Megadim and the Pri Megadim’s efforts to understand the Rashba. 

Please. please make any improvements – ideas, spelling and grammar.   Please add.-+9999999999  



Weinreb, Tzvi H. <execthw@ou.org>
Sep 18, 2020, 4:36 PMReply

to me

It definitely works and I like it. It called to my mind a book by the British philosopher Isaiah Berlin, “The Crooked Timber of Humanity”. It is based upon a passage in the writing of Immanuel Kant: which translates as “Out of timber so crooked as that from which man is made nothing entirely straight can be built.” The German original begins: “Aus so krummem Holze, als woraus der Mensch gemacht ist, kann nichts Gerades gezimmert werden.” Shabbat Shalom, Chag Sameach, Shana tovah. THWeinreb


From: Mitchell Morgenstern <mitchellamorgenstern@gmail.com>

Sent: Friday, September 18, 2020 5:05 PM

To: Weinreb, Tzvi H. <execthw@ou.org>

Subject: Re: Thank You

Thank you.  Does my leap to something that has twists and turns and contains a hidden/deep Peshet work?

Sent from my iPhone

On Sep 18, 2020, at 9:28 AM, Weinreb, Tzvi H. <execthw@ou.org> wrote:

 Thank you for your thoughts and good wishes. As you know the Yiddish for עקום is “kroom”.  A better English translation than “twisted” is therefore “crooked” which has the dual connotations: “bent, not straight” and “crook = criminal”! Be well and Kesiva v’chasima tovah THWeinre

Selichos – Erev Rosh Hashanah – #29:

כט. על פי א”ב. חתום אפרים בר יצחק

אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ  Our God and God of our fathers!

אֵל־אֱמוּנָה עֶזְרָה הָבָה. לְעַמְּךָ כֻּלָּם הֵטִיבָה. יַחַד לַמִּשְׁפָּט נִקְרָבָה: בּוֹחֵן לִבּוֹת כֻּלָּם. מוֹשֵׁל בִּגְבוּרָתוֹ עוֹלָם. יָבִיא בַּמִּשְׁפָּט עַל־כָּל־נֶעְלָם:

Trusted God, extend help and do goodness to Your entire nation [when] they come together to be judged. [He] Who knows their innermost thoughts [and] rules the world with His might brings to judgment for everything hidden.

גָּבוֹהַּ בַּמִּשְׁפָּט הָאֵל. נִקְדַּשׁ בְּצִדְקוֹתָיו כְּהַרְרֵי־אֵל וּמִשְׁפָּטָיו עִם יִשְֹרָאֵל: 

God, Who is exalted through judgment1I.e. by bringing the evil to justice, all perceive Him ruling the world. [and] sanctified through His righteousness, [powerful] as the mighty mountains when He judges Israel.

דְּלֵה מֵעֹנֶשׁ נְשֹוּאֶיךָ. בְּחֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת מְנַשְּׂאֶיךָ. צֶדֶק וּמִשְׁפָּט מְכוֹן כִּסְאֶךָ:

Remove retribution from those You carry,2“Those You carry,” i.e. the nation of Israel. those who exalt You with “Grace and truth.”3I.e. those who recognize God’s grace and truth. Righteousness and justice are the foundations of Your Throne.

הַיְשַׁר לְפָנֶיךָ לֵב־עָקֹב. דִּינֶךָ הָהָר יִקֹּב. מִשְׁפָּט לֵאלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב: וְיֹשֶׁר מִדּוֹתֶיךָ נֶחֱמָדוּ. יוֹשְׁבֵי־תֵבֵל צֶדֶק לָמָדוּ. לְמִשְׁפָּטֶיךָ עָמָדוּ:

Straighten before You, a crooked heart, Your judgment bores through the mountain4I.e. nothing can stand in the way of God’s judgment.— the justice of the God of Jacob. The righteousness of Your virtues are delightful, the world’s inhabitants learned justice as they stand to be judged by You.