Shabbos Nachamu – Parshas V’Eschanan – July 23 -24, 2021
Kotzker Vort on Devorim Verse 3:23 says – אֶעְבְּרָה־נָּ֗א וְאֶרְאֶה֙ אֶת־הָאָ֣רֶץ הַטּוֹבָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֖ר בְּעֵ֣בֶר הַיַּרְדֵּ֑ן הָהָ֥ר הַטּ֛וֹב הַזֶּ֖ה וְהַלְּבָנֹֽן׃
Kotzker Vort on Dvorim Verse 4:9
” רַ֡ק הִשָּׁ֣מֶר לְךָ֩ וּשְׁמֹ֨ר נַפְשְׁךָ֜ מְאֹ֗ד פֶּן־תִּשְׁכַּ֨ח אֶת־הַדְּבָרִ֜ים אֲשֶׁר־רָא֣וּ עֵינֶ֗יךָ וּפֶן־יָס֙וּרוּ֙ מִלְּבָ֣בְךָ֔ כֹּ֖ל יְמֵ֣י חַיֶּ֑יךָ וְהוֹדַעְתָּ֥ם לְבָנֶ֖יךָ וְלִבְנֵ֥י בָנֶֽיךָ׃
Kotzker Vort #3: Devorim Verse 4:23
הִשָּׁמְר֣וּ לָכֶ֗ם פֶּֽן־תִּשְׁכְּחוּ֙ אֶת־בְּרִ֤ית יְהֹוָה֙ אֱלֹ֣הֵיכֶ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֥ר כָּרַ֖ת עִמָּכֶ֑ם וַעֲשִׂיתֶ֨ם לָכֶ֥ם פֶּ֙סֶל֙ תְּמ֣וּנַת כֹּ֔ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר צִוְּךָ֖ יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶֽי
Kotzker Vorton Devorim Verse 4:29:
וּבִקַּשְׁתֶּ֥ם מִשָּׁ֛ם אֶת־יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ וּמָצָ֑אתָ כִּ֣י תִדְרְשֶׁ֔נּוּ בְּכׇל־לְבָבְךָ֖ וּבְכׇל־נַפְשֶֽׁךָ
I had planned to walk to Anshe Sholom to hear Rabbi Wolkenfeld’s Shabbos Drasha and attend their welcome back Kiddush. Afterwards walk to Chabad of East Lakeview. They were having a Bat Mitzvah and an Aufruf. Chabad’s Cholent is a Pesach Cholent and Kiddush is the best. As I walked out of my house, I had to change my pants three times because each pair was stained including the pants I had just picked up from the cleaners. By the time I was ready to leave, it was too late to make Rabbi Wolkenfeld’s speech and since I would miss most of Davening, I stayed and davened at Sidney’s Minyan. He was in South Haven. There was a nice Kiddish. Just give me Cholent and I am happy.
I spoke at Shalosh Seudos and the following is my speech.
We are fortunate to have Chazzen Silber with us. I have listened to his Torah for years at Mishna Ugemora. (As a side note, I am very intimidated when I say Torah with Chazzen Silber listening.)
There are three Tefilos that I love from Chazzen Silber. One is on Shabbos Mevorchim, his יהי רצון. Chazzen Silber said that his father composed the tune for him. I would time Chazzan Silber when he chanted the יהי רצון. Usually it took about 10 minutes, with the record 20 minutes. Once his daughter, Dina, called him from Israel excitedly telling him that they were playing his יהי רצון one Erev Shabbos Mivorchim. The second Tefilah is the אב הרחמים right before Musaf, it evokes the whirlwind of the Holocaust, and the third is his אהבת עולם on Rosh Hashana night.
There are a number of Divrei Torah from the Kotzker on this week’s Sedra that are pure Kotzk. The first Kotzker Vort:
Devorim Verse 3:23 says – אֶעְבְּרָה־נָּ֗א וְאֶרְאֶה֙ אֶת־הָאָ֣רֶץ הַטּוֹבָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֖ר בְּעֵ֣בֶר הַיַּרְדֵּ֑ן הָהָ֥ר הַטּ֛וֹב הַזֶּ֖ה וְהַלְּבָנֹֽן׃ –
“Let me, I pray, cross over and see the good land on the other side of the Jordan, that good hill country, and the Lebanon.”
The Kotzker comments are follows:
Devorim Verse 3:23 says – אֶעְבְּרָה־נָּ֗א וְאֶרְאֶה֙ אֶת־הָאָ֣רֶץ הַטּוֹבָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֖ר בְּעֵ֣בֶר הַיַּרְדֵּ֑ן הָהָ֥ר הַטּ֛וֹב הַזֶּ֖ה וְהַלְּבָנֹֽן׃. The Kotzler asks what is the intent of the Torah in the above Pasuk when it says וְאֶרְאֶה֙. Obviously if Moshe were to enter into the land of Israel, he would see the land. The Kotzker answers that Moshe’s prayer was also on the ראיה – the seeing, not just on crossing over into Israel. A person who is working on anything must pray that Hashem will show him the good in what he is doing.
The Vort by itself is beautiful. We have to pray that we see the goodness in everything we do.
Perhaps a deeper understanding is as follows. Everything we do has goodness wrapped in it. We have to recognize it and pray to Hashem that he show us the goodness. Giving Tzaddikah is obvious. However, for most of our daily lives, we just have to open our eyes and pray to Hashem to show us the goodness that results from our actions. When I worked at a bank, I routinely waived overdraft fees and bank charges. I felt that I was preventing calamities. I was setting the person’s mind at ease and making him feel better. This was especially true for someone who lived paycheck to paycheck. I was doing Avodas Hashem and felt the bank was better off in many ways from my generosity. In that rare instance, the person in front of me with this request may be having a bad day. By waiving the fee, I put the person in a better mood and now his earlier frustration is gone. I know what it means to get hit with an overdraft charge. That person’s frustration and anger did not result in a calamity. It could have resulted in yelling at his wife and kids later in the day and from there resulting in worse things. Good comes from even mundane acts and part of our prayer is that good should flow even from our mandance acts. We should pray to merit to see the goodness.
A person who is in a trade, such as an electrician, plumber, etc does tremendous Chesed working his job. Ezra Moskowitz is a plumber. I told Ezra, you are not just a plumber. You are doing the work of Hashem. All of us can understand what it means to have an honest and reliable plumber, especially a Frum person. Another example. Pizza stores are centers of Chesed. Klal Yisroel needs relatively inexpensive, tasty food to feed their families. The owner running the pizza store is feeding Klal Yisroel and this is what I see when I walk into a pizza store.
Kotzker Vort #2:
Devorim Verse 4:9 says ” רַ֡ק הִשָּׁ֣מֶר לְךָ֩ וּשְׁמֹ֨ר נַפְשְׁךָ֜ מְאֹ֗ד פֶּן־תִּשְׁכַּ֨ח אֶת־הַדְּבָרִ֜ים אֲשֶׁר־רָא֣וּ עֵינֶ֗יךָ וּפֶן־יָס֙וּרוּ֙ מִלְּבָ֣בְךָ֔ כֹּ֖ל יְמֵ֣י חַיֶּ֑יךָ וְהוֹדַעְתָּ֥ם לְבָנֶ֖יךָ וְלִבְנֵ֥י בָנֶֽיךָ׃
“But take utmost care and watch yourselves scrupulously, so that you do not forget the things that you saw with your own eyes and so that they do not fade from your mind as long as you live. And make them known to your children and to your children’s children.”
רק השמר לך ושמור נפשך מאד פן תשכח וגו’. השמר לך ר”ל שמירת הגוף ולא הזכיר בו מאד כמו בשמירת הנפש אשר בשמירתה צריך האדם להזהר ביותר מבשמירת הגוף לכך אמר ושמור את נפשך מאד.
Look out for yourself and guard your life exceedingly- מאד . “Guard yourself” means look after your physical body. It does not add “exceedingly” ( מאד) as it does after the second part of the verse which refers to guarding one’s soul, because one must be even more careful to protect one’s soul than one’s body.
The Kli Yakar focuses on the word מְאֹ֗ד . By watching your soul it says מְאֹ֗ד, however, in the first part of the pasuk by watching your body, the Torah does not use this word.
The Kotzker seems to say the same thing but focuses on the first word of the Pasuk רק. The Kotzker says:
“רק השמר לך ושמור נפשך מאד: והדקדק מבואר ויש לפרש על פּי הידוע כי תיבת רק מיעוט הוא והיינו רק השמר לך, שתשמור את הגוף מעט ושמור נפשך מאוד, כי העיקור לשמור את הנפש “
The editor of the Sefer אהל התורה has a beautiful footnote on this Vort”
The Editor in his footnote explains that while on the surface it seems that the Kli Yakar and the Kotzker are saying the same thing, as the Editor phrased it, “these two prophets, prohitized in the same style” however, the Kotzker is – משונה לשבח. The Kotzker is saying that your Neshamah is covered with physicality. Once you humble your physical body, it becomes translucent and your inner soul – the צורה – enlarges and increases its light, because it is no longer covered up. It seems that Kotzker is expressing the idea in a more Chassidic bent. This is what Chazzan Silber says that a person’s Neshamah is always pure.
The editor’s ending is beautiful – “ואף כי מי הוא זה אשר יקח העטרה לעצמו אשר יאמר כי הוא זה הפירוש האמתי בּדברי מרן הנורא האלקי זי״ע אכן תורה הוא וללמוד אנו צריכין”.
“Who is the person who can take a crown for himself – take the initiative – and say that this is the true understanding of the words of this awesome man of Hashem, however, it is Torah and we have to learn it.
Kotzker Vort #3: Devorim Verse 4:23 – Beautiful Vort and pure Kotzk.
Kotzker Vort #4: Devorim Verse 4:29:
וּבִקַּשְׁתֶּ֥ם מִשָּׁ֛ם אֶת־יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ וּמָצָ֑אתָ כִּ֣י תִדְרְשֶׁ֔נּוּ בְּכׇל־לְבָבְךָ֖ וּבְכׇל־נַפְשֶֽׁךָ
But if you search there for the LORD your God, you will find Him, if only you seek Him with all your heart and soul—
The Kotzker asks two questions”:
וצריך להבין כי תיבת משׁם לכאורה כמיותר? ועוד דתיבת ומצאת היה צריך לכתוב לבּסוף?
We have to understand, the word מִשָּׁ֛ם is extra and the word וּמָצָ֑אתָ should be at the end of the Passuk.
The Kotzker answers:
ונראה כי “משׁם” היינו מעומק נקודה הפנימיות שבּלב ועל ידי זה כִּ֣י תִדְרְשֶׁ֔נּוּ בְּכׇל־לְבָבְךָ֖ וּבְכׇל־נַפְשֶֽׁךָ והיינו שׁתמצא מציאה יקרה ונעלה מאד כי תתאוה לדרוש את ה” בּכל לבבך ונפשׁך בכל פּעם יותר ויותר:
The “משׁם” is not referring to the location of the soul searching, but is referring to looking inside of oneself for that place in your heart where you connect to Hashem. Once you find that connection you will desire to continue to inquire of Hashem with all your heart and soul on higher and higher levels.
Beautiful. This is brought out in Sivan Rahav-Meir’s article in this week’s Jewish Press.
What did Omri Casspi tell me?
- e on emare on printTranslation by Yehoshua Siskin
“I hope it was an easy fast for all who fasted.” This was the first sentence spoken by Omri Casspi, among the greatest Israeli basketball players, at his press conference yesterday evening in which he announced his retirement. I have nothing to add to all the praises of the world’s elite basketball players who spoke of the professionalism, the humility, and the perseverance of the boy who grew up in Yavneh and made it to the NBA. But I was reminded of when Casspi interviewed me on his podcast and opened our conversation with this surprising statement: “I departed for the United States as an Israeli only, but I returned also as a Jew. He explained this transformation as follows:
“Outside of Israel, if you do not create an identity, it will not happen on its own. I lived in places like Sacramento, Cleveland, and Houston – without a large Jewish community. But at some point, I stopped and said to myself: ‘Wait a minute, what is going on with me?’ I felt a sense of obligation and began thinking: I represent something, but I know nothing about what I represent.
For example: I land in Boston and American Jewish kids are waiting for me there with much excitement and they are staring at me. I represent for them the Jewish nation, the State of Israel, but I am conflicted. After all, if you go outside in Los Angeles on Yom Kippur, it’s just a regular day, traffic as usual. If you do not do something special on Shabbat, you won’t feel any Shabbat. It’s your responsibility to do something since you are not in a Jewish country.
My wife and I went through this process together, as a family – Friday night dinner, kiddush, tefillin, holidays, community, Jewish education, kosher food. I felt a sense of obligation towards myself and towards the Jewish community. Many Israelis feel this over there, but there are many unfortunately who do not. Only there was I able to understand that I am an emissary of something great. Sometimes you need to go far away in order to come closer, to discover who you really are.”
Wishing you much success, Omri, as you continue in the game of life.
Sivan Rahav-Meir is a media personality and lecturer. Married to Yedidya, the mother of five. Lives in Jerusalem. She works for Israel TV news, writes a column for Yediot Aharonot newspaper, and hosts a weekly radio show on Galei Zahal (Army Radio). Her lectures on the weekly Torah portion are attended by hundreds
Sivan Rahav-Meir’s column had another beautiful article, titled The Bench.
Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
Shani Avigal, mother of six-year-old Ido Avigal from Sderot who was killed in the recent “Guardian of the Walls” conflict, is still healing from her painful loss. Yesterday she wrote me the following:
“I thought a lot about how to memorialize Ido, how he would want me to memorialize him. I thought about the value of friendship and that it was sometimes difficult for him to connect with others. Whether in kindergarten or on a playground, he would play alone and find it difficult to participate in group activities. I thought that if there had been a ‘friendship bench’ at his kindergarten, that could have been most helpful to him. The idea is this: If it is difficult for a child to connect, he can simply sit on the bench and others can approach him and ask him to join their game. If children argue amongst themselves, they can also resolve their argument on the bench.
The idea began with one bench at his kindergarten and has now spread to schools and even public parks. A number of cities have already ordered these benches in preparation for the coming school year. The feedback I have been receiving is tremendous. The benches simply help children who are socially isolated or otherwise in distress. Every night before bed, Ido would share with us what happened to him that day and said that he always made sure to ‘love thy neighbor as thyself.’ Therefore, this is what is written on the bench.”
As Tisha B’Av is almost here and we become aware of what is missing and what we need to change, I wrote Shani that perhaps a bench like this is needed for adults as well.