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:
RABBI SIMEON B. HALAFTA SAID: THE HOLY ONE, BLESSED BE HE, FOUND NO VESSEL THAT COULD CONTAIN BLESSING FOR ISRAEL SAVE THAT OF PEACE, AS IT IS WRITTEN: ‘THE LORD WILL GIVE STRENGTH UNTO HIS PEOPLE; THE LORD WILL BLESS HIS PEOPLE WITH PEACE’.
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.
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.