Shabbos Parshas Netzavim

Shabbos Parshas Netzavim, 29 Elul 5776

Week of September 26 – 30:

Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch

Toda Rabbah Shimon

During Shabbos Parshas Netzavim, October 1, 2016, I thought about the week that passed. Would I find inspiration in this week’s Sedra. The following events transpired:

Tuesday September 27:

My brother -in-law held a fundraiser and three leaders came in from New York. Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, the Satmer Rov, and Rabbi Malkeil Kotler. I said hello to the Satmer Rov. He is personable. I told Rabbi Dovid Feinstein that Klal Yisroel still lives in the merit of his great father, Reb Moshe Feinstein, the great patron of Israel.

Wednesday, September 28:

The passing of Shimon Peres, ZL

A siyum was held in Shul on Seder Mishnayos and the last Mishna was read that says:


Friday, September 29:

The funeral of Shimon Peres, ZL

End of the quarter and very, very hectic at work. A customer who I was upset with needed a favor.   We talked it through on Thursday and were okay. On Friday I had to help him out when I really did not have the time.  BH I was there for him. I also had to wire out money and ran to two banks. At Citibank while transacting business I overheard Abraham who needed to deposit his payroll checks. The checks were not drawn on Citibank and the money was unavailable. He had to pay rent and this would be a problem for him. I interceded and helped him. He told me that he lives paycheck to paycheck and was once homeless. He barely had money for food. For him to cash the checks would have cost $30 and aggravation. Hashem put me in this location at this time to help this young man.  Many other times I failed, including my own family, and have paid a huge price.

Shabbos, October 1:

My nephew spoke a Dvar Halacha which was nice. I said that the issue he raised is a major problem and that a Jewish Posach would not Pasken against Klal Yisroel. Everyone attacked me for saying that a Posak would paskan against the Torah. However, that was not what I was saying. I was saying the Poskim have the backs of Klal Yisroel. If they saw people doing something, they would not Pasken if possible against Klal Yisroel to make them sinners. They would see holiness in Klal Yisroel.

I looked for inspiration in the Sedra and it was difficult. It is a very dark, Mussar Parsha. However, I found comforting words in Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsh’s commentary on the Haftorah. The Haftorah is from Isiah, Chapter 61, Verse 10. Verse 10 is the first Verse in the Haftorah, but RSRH mentions Verse 9:

ט  וְנוֹדַע בַּגּוֹיִם זַרְעָם וְצֶאֱצָאֵיהֶם בְּתוֹךְ הָעַמִּים כָּל רֹאֵיהֶם יַכִּירוּם כִּי הֵם זֶרַע בֵּרַךְ יְהֹוָה:

Verse 9:  And their seed shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall recognize them that they are seed that the Lord blessed.

Verse 10:
ישׂוֹשׂ אָשִׂישׂ בַּיהֹוָה תָּגֵל נַפְשִׁי בֵּאלֹהַי כִּי הִלְבִּישַׁנִי בִּגְדֵי יֶשַׁע מְעִיל צְדָקָה יְעָטָנִי כֶּחָתָן יְכַהֵן פְּאֵר וְכַכַּלָּה תַּעְדֶּה כֵלֶיהָ:

Verse 10:  I will rejoice with the Lord; my soul shall exult with my God, for He has attired me with garments of salvation, with a robe of righteousness He has enwrapped me; like a bridegroom, who, priestlike, dons garments of glory, and like a bride, who adorns herself with her jewelry.

RSRH explains verse 10 as an explanation of Verse 9 and explains “that all who see time shall recognize them that they are seed that the Lord blessed”. Verse 10 says “for He has attired me with garments of salvation,” is the consequence, the reward to the Jewish people. This benefit and blessing to Israel only happens because “with a robe of righteousness He has enwrapped me”. This means that God has put Klal Israel in a position to do good and not just the Jewish people but to mankind, to be a light unto the nations. Isiah goes on to say that if the Jews do good they are like a groom and bride whose inner beauty makes the expensive garments and Jewelry shine. (It is not that the expensive garments and Jewelry make the groom and bride shine, but the opposite.) Therefore when I do good because God gave me the responsibility and opportunity, and I do good, then Verse 9 applies, people will see in me Godliness that I am the seed that the Lord blessed. Salvation results and blessing to the Jewish people is because of my actions.

The actual words of the translation of RSRH from the German, page 448:

Security, salvation יֶשַׁע  is the consequence, “clothing oneself in the priestly mantle of devotion to duty” is the cause.  In educating me, Israel, to faithfulness to duty and thereby dedicating me to be the priest of mankind, God has made me not only worthy of the highest degree of human happiness but also to participate in it.  The worthiness is express in the second half of the verse in an extraordinary characteristic manner.  Thereby a point of view is expressed which is the exact opposite to that usually taken.  For an ideal perfection of the bridegroom is presupposed if one says that he has not to thank his festive “get up” for his dignity and august appearance, but, on the contrary he lends them a priestly consecration and grandeur.  And further, it is the most delicate description of feminine grace and charm if one says of a bride that it is she who in truth gives beauty to her bridal dress and ornaments, rather than that they grace her.   In the same way, in the sharpest contrast tot he past, material possessions will attain their purest and noblest use by the sons and daughters of Zion new grown to maturity.

The last Mishna says the Torah is protected by peace. How true. Klal Yisroel only survives when there is peace and Torah must lead to peace. This is a powerful message. Peace is not only mentioned at the conclusion of Mishnayos, but at the end of Shemonei Esra, and the end of Bentching which quotes the Mishna in Uktzin. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks says that at the end on Shemonei Esra we mention peace and take three steps back. Peace can only be achieved if we step back and let people in front of us, we give them space, we listen to them. How many leaders do not understand this powerful statement of Rabbi Simeon Ben Halfata, pay lip service to it, and explain with a Drei, well it does not mean the current situation.  Read the Kehati on this Mishna.

The three leaders from different spectrums and personalities, were able to come together for Klal Yisroel at my brother-in-law’s house, may they come together for all of Klal Yisroel, not to bash and criticize, but to uplift, not to just their communities but to Dati Leumi, secular Jews, all Jews, and inspire mankind. It will result in peace emanating from them and Godliness from the Jewish people as Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch says.

I was blown away by the funeral of Shimon Peres. It seemed that the entire world came to honor Shimon Peres and consequently the Jewish people and the Jewish state. I felt uplifted by Shimon Peres ZL. It calls to mind a Midrash in Bereshis that when Yaakov was buried in Hevron, the kings who had gathered to battle each other, stopped, and hung their crowns around the casket of Yaakov. Unity because a great man was passing by. Shimon Peres, a Jew from Europe, who helped found Israel to be a safe haven for Jews around the world, including Satmer Chassidim. All I heard in the past was criticism of him that he was selfish, not Jewish in his heart. Bibi Natanuhu said it beautifully. I believe in security first and then peace; and Peres believed in peace, then security. We are both right. I read the glowing accounts on the internet and see in Shimon Peres ZL the words of Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsh. Read this from the Jerusalem Post:

“In August 1942, Shimon Peres’s grandfather Rabbi Zvi Meltzer was marched by the Nazis along with more than 2,000 Jews of Vishneva into the town’s wooden synagogue, where they were burned alive.

Seventy-four years later, the leaders of more than 70 countries – representing well over half of humanity – came to Jerusalem for Peres’s funeral. That, as much as anything, epitomizes the change the State of Israel has brought upon the Jewish people.
As Elisha Aviner, the Rabbi of my local synagogue, said Saturday morning, kings, princes, presidents and prime ministers dropped everything to pay respects for a little Polish Jew. Put in historical perspective, he said, that is nothing short of a miracle.”

To quote President Obama, TODAH RABA SHIMON.







Moshe FeIglin –

Moshe Feiglin spoke at 5:00 PM at KJBS and I went to hear him and his ideas for Israel. It was very informative. I walked him home with others to his host after the speech. I told him what he said in his speech is what Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsh said on the Haftora for Shabbos Chazon. Moshe Feigln wants both religious and secular Jews in Israel to go back to their purpose which is to be a light to the nations. This is why Moshe Feiglin moved his political center to Tel Aviv. He wants to bring a universal message to all Jews, that we are to be a beacon of light to the world, whether secular or Dati.

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsh said the first temple was destroyed because the Jewish people were no longer the light to the world. They did not bring morality and spirituality to the entire world, so God destroyed the temple and sent the Jewish people into exile.

On Tisha BAv, I heard the Consulate General Roey Gilad.  He said that depsite all of the problems in Israel, he trusts the Jewish people and that God will not let us down.  Moshe Feiglin said the same thing.

I only wish I was a Talmud Chochem so I would give a Shiur with Moshe Feiglin and Roey Gilad and with Torah we can unite all Jews together.  They can argue but they would leave the Shiur as friends and can work together.


This Shabbos I focused on the following verses.

כדאי לעצמו:
9 And I said to you at that time, saying, ‘I cannot carry you alone. ט וָאֹמַר אֲלֵכֶם בָּעֵת הַהִוא לֵאמֹר לֹא אוּכַל לְבַדִּי שְׂאֵת אֶתְכֶם:

Rashi comments –  “What is the meaning of   לֵאמֹר   ?” (This is an extra word as the Verse makes sense without this word.)    “Moshe said to them, “not by my own accord do I speak to you, but by the command of the Holy One, blessed is He.”

The next Rashi on the words “I cannot carry you alone” explains why God did not let Moshe carry the burden of the Jewish people alone. Rashi says:

Rather Moshe said to the Jewish people – The Lord, your God has multiplied you: – meaning – He has made you superior and elevated you higher than your judges. He took the punishment away from you and imposed it upon the judges.

Rashi seems to be saying that there is too much responsibility for one man, even as great as Moshe. I feel that God is also saying to rule and judge, one man cannot do it alone; especially a court system. Honest judges and a fair court system are the cornerstones of a normal society, a just world.

Verse 12 says:

כאשר דבר לכם:
12 How can I bear your trouble, your burden, and your strife all by myself? יב אֵיכָה אֶשָּׂא לְבַדִּי טָרְחֲכֶם וּמַשַּׂאֲכֶם וְרִיבְכֶם

Why does Moshe essentially repeat himself? In verse 9 he already said that he cannot do it alone. Although the plain meaning of the text does not seem to criticize the Jewish people, as Moshe on a plain meaning is saying how can I alone put on my shoulders the trouble, burdens, and strife of my people Every leader put on his shoulders the responsibility of his people.   Moshe is saying I need help doing it. However, here Rashi is saying that Moshe is criticizing the Jewish people saying they are 1) troublesome  2) burdensome – they were heretics, and 3) they are contentious.  This is very difficult because the Rashi on verse 9 said that God told Moshe that God is not allowing Moshe to be the sole leader because God made the Jewish people superior and elevated them higher than the judges.

Another question is that the first Rashi on Verse 12 says, Even if I were to say, “I will do so in order to receive a reward,” I cannot do so. This is what I have already said to you, “Not by my own decision do I tell you [that I am unable to bear your trouble], but by the command of God.

What does it mean, even if I were to say, I will do so in order to receive a reward, why would Moshe want a reward, leaders do not ask for a reward, they want to do the right thing, they are leaders.

The Gur Aryeh on this Verse asks this question and another one, and explains Rashi

Final questions on Verse 15, Rashi says what does it mean “So I took the heads of your tribes, . . .” – “I attracted them through fine words: “How fortunate you are! Over whom are you to be appointed? Over he children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – over the children of people who are called brothers and friends, God’s portion and inheritance and every term of endearment.

In verse 12 Rashi says that Moshe severely criticized the people, saying they fight, are heretics, and are burdensome and to attract the judges he says the people are great.

There is a beautiful Mesh Chochma, on Verse 9 which is in line with the Gur Aryeh. The Meshech Chocma is Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk (1843 -1926), My daughter was in Michlala and she bought me the Meshech Chocma edition with Rabbi Cooperman’s footnotes. The Meshech Chocma is a difficult Sefer to understand and Rabbi Cooperman opened up the Sefer with his footnotes.

Reb Meir Simcha says:

Verse 9 is can be explained in the following manner: A person who is blessed with wealth and children. He has problems raising his kids, from his business. He says, how great are these problems from you. God should give you, my children and grandchildren the same problems.   This is what Moshe the faithful servant said , God increased you and made you like the stars of the heaven, in numbers and greatness almost as if by miracles.  So should all leaders say about you and complain how difficult it is because that is their job. They are not complaining, but saying thank you Hashem for giving me this opportunity to lead the Jewish people.

As Rabbi Cooperman says, Moshe is really blessing the Jewish people. There are always problems and only because of the problems can we be leaders.

Rabbi Samson Raphael says on Verse 12 that these three negative attributes are not specific to the Jews in the desert, but to all nations, like the Gur Aryeh and the Meshech Chocma.

Dr. Ungar added the following:

Submitted on 2015/07/26 at 6:15 PM

Rashi has a different definition of apikorus…

“troubles” meaning litigious and using the legal system to further business aims…
“burdensome” means apikoris (like the targum) it means alsways questioning the leader’s motives….ie the definition of true heresy…

Heresy is any provocative belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs. A heretic is a proponent of such claims or beliefs. Heresy is distinct from both apostasy, which is the explicit renunciation of one’s religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion.

However the Rambam made apikorsus into apostasy.

has anyone done a study on the difference between the French and Spanish Jewish theologies?
( I would argue that being exposed to Arabic philosophy the JEws of Spain were more inclined to arguing about doctrine.)

How can I bear…all by myself?: [Even] if I were to say, “I will do so in order to receive a reward,” I cannot do so. This is what I have already said to you, “Not by my own decision do I tell you [that I am unable to bear your trouble], but by the command of the Holy One, blessed is He.”

איכה אשא לבדי: אם אומר לקבל שכר לא אוכל, זו היא שאמרתי לכם לא מעצמי אני אומר לכם, אלא מפי הקדוש ברוך הוא:
your trouble: This teaches us that the Israelites were troublesome [people]; if one saw his opponent in a lawsuit about to win, he would say, “I have [other] witnesses to bring, [more] evidence to introduce, I [will exercise my right to] add judges to you [in your tribunal]”.

טרחכם: מלמד שהיו ישראל טרחנין. היה אחד מהם רואה את בעל דינו נוצח בדין, אומר יש לי עדים להביא, יש לי ראיות להביא, מוסיף אני עליכם דיינין:
and your burden: This teaches that they [the Israelites] were heretics: If Moses was early leaving his tent they would say, “Why does the son of Amram leave so early? Perhaps he is not at ease inside his house?” If he left late, they would say, “Why does the son of Amram not leave? What do you think? He is [probably] sitting and devising evil schemes against you, and is thinking up plots against you. [Other editions of Rashi have”commandments and reckonings.”]

ומשאכם: מלמד שהיו אפיקורסין. הקדים משה לצאת, אמרו, מה ראה בן עמרם לצאת, שמא אינו שפוי בתוך ביתו. איחר לצאת, אמרו, מה ראה בן עמרם שלא לצאת, מה אתם סבורים, יושב ויועץ עליכם עצות רעות וחושב עליכם מחשבות:
and your strife: This teaches that they [the Israelites] were contentious (Sifrei).

Parshas VaYeira – November 8, 2014

It is getting colder in Chicago, but still nice. I received the Sefer Sholem Yershalim and we will have our Shiur at Kins this Sunday night at 8:45 PM.

Chapter 18, Verse 19 (from

  1. 19. For I have known him because he commands his sons and his household after him, that they should keep the way of the Lord to perform righteousness and justice, in order that the Lord bring upon Abraham that which He spoke concerning him.”
יט. כִּי יְדַעְתִּיו לְמַעַן אֲשֶׁר יְצַוֶּה אֶת בָּנָיו וְאֶת בֵּיתוֹ אַחֲרָיו וְשָׁמְרוּ דֶּרֶךְ יְהֹוָה לַעֲשׂוֹת צְדָקָה וּמִשְׁפָּט לְמַעַן הָבִיא יְהֹוָה עַל אַבְרָהָם אֵת אֲשֶׁר

What does the Hebrew word, יְדַעְתִּיו , mean and how is it translated.   The plain meaning is “to know”.  The Bible and common usage is that the phrase “to know” as something more intimate, something about the nature of a person, I know his or her attributes greatness, etc.

What does the Hebrew word   לְמַעַן mean.  It means either 1) for the sake of, in order to  or 2) because of.

Onklys and the Rishonim translate as follows.

1) Onklys – Pashut translation – “I know that he will command his children”

This is the standard translation in Klal Yisraol.  I have chosen Avrohom because I know that he will command his children.

2) Rashi – I know him – I love him.

 Rashi says:

For I have known him: Heb. יְדַעְתִּיו, an expression of love, like (Ruth 2:1) “a kinsman (מוֹדַע) of her husband”; (ibid. 3:2) “And now, Boaz our kinsman (מֹדַעְתָּנוּ)”; (Exod. 33:17): “and I shall know you (וָאֵדָעֲךָ) by name.” But, in fact, the primary meaning of them all is none other than an expression of knowing, for if one loves a person, he draws him near to himself and knows him and is familiar with him. Now why do I love him? “Because he commands” … for he commands his sons concerning Me, to keep My ways. But if you explain it as the Targum renders: “I know about him that he will command his sons, etc.,” the word לְמַעַן does not fit into the sense [of the verse].

3) Ranban, Pshat #1

I know his greatness.

 4) Ranban, Pshat #2 – See Rabanu Bachyaa.

The Ranban say there are two types of Divine Guidance, Hasgacha, and Providence in this world.     Most people and Righteous people. Read the Hebrew and the below English translation. When you read the Hebrew, at first blush it seems that God for most people lets the world run itself, look at Reb Samson Raphael Hirsch. See also the Rabbinu Bachaya

Rabbi Chavel translates the Ranban into English as follows:

“The correct interpretation appears to me to be that the word yedativ literally means “knowing.” He is thus alluding that God’s knowledge, with is synonymous with His Providence in the lower word, is to guard the species, and even the children of men are subject despite it to the circumstantial evil occurrences until the time of their visitation comes. But as regards to His Pious, He directs His Providence to know each one individually so that His work constantly attaches to to him, His knowledge and remembrance of home never departs, as it says: He withdraweth not His eyes for the righteous. There are many verses on this theme, as it is written, Behold, the eye of the Eternal is toward then that fear Him, and other verses besides.”

See Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin for his explanation in the Oznayim LaTorah.

See Professor Nechama Lebowitz, page 167 for her explanation.

1) above, “For I have known him because he commands his sons”

   Onklys – Pashut translation – “I know that he will command his children”

2) Artscroll, “ For I loved him, for he will command his children”

  Rashi – I love him

3) Soncino, “For I have known him, to the end that he may command his children”

Footnote – Known him, i.e. loved him. This is a secondary meaning of ‘know’, for one      who loves another brings him near to him and thus knows him,

 4) Rabbi Hertz – “For I have known him, to the end that he may command his children”.

Footnote:   for I have known him. i.e. regarded and chosen him.

I think Rabbi Hertz is based on Onklys. Rabbi Hertz says, “for I  have known him. i.e. regarded and chosen him.”   As I said before this is the standard explanation the Jews have used for years.

5) The Pentateuch, by Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, “For I have given him My special Care so that he will command his children”.

Ranban, Pshat #2.

Footnote –  “But those who offer themselves to be His instrument on earth, who strive with their whole existence and activities to fulfill His Will, and leave everything else to Him, they form a complete contrast and God takes them under His special guidance and care (protection). This is what is called Yaidah”

“However, people whose attitude towards God is just casual, who treads the paths of God just if and when it happens to suit him, “BeKeri”, . . .       To him God also turns and leaves him to the haphazard chances of life.”

Reb Samson Raphael Hirsch’s translation of לְמַעַן – “so that he will” is problematic. It seems that God gave Avrohom “special Care” so that Avrohom will be able to properly teach his kids.