is dedicated by Avraham Hirsh Stadtman
In loving memory of his Grandmother
Ruchel bas Zelig
26 Menachem Av 5756
is also dedicated to
Mr. and Mrs. Marshall Goldberg
of Chicago, IL
in Honor of their Wedding Anniversary
May they have much nachas
from their children and grandchildren.
Parshas Ki Seitze 5758
"When you go out to war against your enemies, Hashem will make you victorious over them, and you will take captives." (Devarim 21:10)
"This is talking about a Milchemes Rishus, an optional war. . ". (Rashi ibid.)
The Chassidic literature finds in this verse and Rashi's commentary on it, some basic tenets of Chassidic practice.
R' Avraham Yaacov of Sadiger, the son of R' Yisroel of Ruzhin, explained that every material thing in creation is endowed with a unique and wholly spiritual element which enlivens that object, as it is written in Nechemia 9:6, (and found in the Shacharis service in the end of V'Yevaraiych Dovid) ". . .and You constantly give life to all living things."
Every item of food and drink is especially imbued with this spiritual vitality as it is written, "The Tzaddik eats only for the satiation of his soul". (Proverbs 13:25). The Tzaddik eats in order to extract and elevate the spiritual portion of the food.
A person is bound in his every action to be conscious of the spiritual element inherent in any item from which he is benefits.
Given this understanding, one might think that it is permissible to partake of something which the Torah forbids in order to raise up its spiritual element! Nevertheless, our sages inform us that the opposite is true. "Sanctify yourself with that which is permissible to you". (Yevamos 20a) This Avodah is proper only with things which are not forbidden to you.
Now understand the meaning of the verse. "When you go out to war against your enemies. . .", When you set out to do battle against the Yezter HaRah, your negative inclination, then you should "take captives". Gather up and elevate the Holy Sparks; the spiritual element enlivening every living thing which have fallen into captivity.
According to Chassidus this is the "Milchemes Rishus", which Rashi mentioned. It is the battle to sanctify those things which the Torah permits us to have benefit from. Even those things which the Torah permits us (gives rishus to us to use), must be enjoyed in a manner which will liberate and elevate the fallen sparks which have become captives of the Yezter HaRah.
The Pipe of the Divrei ChaimOnce, R' Chaim of Tsanz, the Divrei Chaim (1797-1876), was traveling on a boat across the (Dnieper?) river. During the crossing, the Rebbe stood on the deck in deep comtemplation, leaning against the railing and smoking his ever present pipe. Suddenly, the pipe slipped from his mouth and fell into the water of the river below!
The Rebbe made a quick calculation. If he acted immediately, he could manage to bend over the railing and retrieve his pipe. But just as suddenly as the pipe had fallen in, he remembered that he had never in his life bent himself forward to draw closer to, or to partake of any material pleasure. Although smoking his pipe was a significant component of his Avodas Hashem, he left it to float away in the water.
When the boat docked on the other side of the river, R' Chaim disembarked. As he walked down the pier towards the shore, he became aware of something near his feet, bobbing up and down in the water. He realized that it was his pipe! He nodded his head in appreciation to Hashem, and this time bent over slightly, just enough to reach the pipe.
His grandson, the late Tsanz-Klausenberger Rebbe (1904-1994), remarked, that he remembered seeing the pipe which had been kept as a family heirloom, before it was lost during the Holocaust. It was recognizable by its distended wooden bowl which had become swollen from water absorption from that day when it fell into the river. He then added, that since his grandfather always raised the spiritual level of any material item that he had had benefit from, he experienced a miracle that day when Hashem returned his pipe, in essence, raising up the material to a more spiritual level.
How the Rizhiner Battled the Yetzer HaRahWhen R' Yisroel of Ruzhin was about to turn thirteen years old, his father, R' Shalom Shachna of Prohovitch, called him in for a talk.
"Son", he said, "I'm sure you know that tomorrow, the day of your Bar Mitzvoh, a special guest, the Yetzer HaTov is coming; for a boy doesn't have a receive his Yetzer HaTov until this day. You must greet him and honor him according to his stature."
"Yes father, I know', replied the youngster. "You see I have been preparing for the arrival of the Yetzer HaTov for sometime. Since the Yetzer HaTov and the Yetzer HaRah are partners in the soul of a Jew, I said to my Yetzer HaRah, 'You know that it is not nice for one partner to come and to begin work without waiting for the arrival of the second. Therefore I request that you wait until my Yetzer HaTov arrives. Then you may begin your work together!'"
The Inner Struggle
". . . and you will eliminate the evil within (from amongst) you, and all of Israel will hear about it and they will fear." (Devarim 21:21)
R' Avraham Mattisyahu of Shtefanesht, (1847-1933), the son of the Shtefaneshter Rebbe, the fourth son of R' Yisrael of Ruzhin, was considered to be one of the hidden Tzaddikim of his generation, even though he never recited a Torah thought in public, and there is hardly one idea that can be said over in his name. He learned in strict privacy in his room and forbade entrance to all comers. He carefully replaced the books when he finished, leaving no sign that they had ever been used. Only once was he "caught" with a sefer in his hands. Yet, he was totally immersed in his Avodas Hashem.
Once, a certain chossid of the Rebbe asked him about his behavior. "The Rebbe", he said addressing R' Avraham Mattisyahu, "doesn't ever deliver a Torah thought, not even at the Tish, nevertheless, thousands constantly arrive to be in the Rebbe's presence! How is this possible?
"What is so surprising to you?", began the Rebbe in what was to be one of the only Torah thoughts attributable to his name. "The verse says, '. . . and you will eliminate the evil within (from amongst) you'. When one does that, then the result is, 'and all of Israel will hear about it and they will fear'."
"When a man takes a new bride, he shall not enter military service nor be assigned to any associated duty. He must remain free for his wife for one year, and he shall rejoice with his bride that he married." (Devarim 24:5)
As it is well known, marriage and family are at the core of Jewish life. In fact, the very first mitzvoh in the Torah is to be fruitful and multiply. (Bereishis 1:28) We understand marriage to be a prerequisite to bringing children into the world.
As most people know, the divorce rate today in our traditional Jewish communities, is exceedingly low. One of the reasons why, even in today's world, we have so much success in transmitting the values of marriage and family, may well be because of the mitzvoh we learn from the above verse.
The Sefer HaChinuch, the book of Mitzvoh education, explains the underlying reason for this Mitzvoh. (the 582nd from amongst 613)
"The groom shall rejoice with his bride for a full year."
The Torah enjoins the young groom to gladden his new bride and rejoice with her for a full year. He should not travel out of town, nor go to war, nor engage in any other activity that will result in him being separated from his bride for a number of days. He should dwell together with her for a full year after the wedding, as it is written, ". . . he must remain free for his wife for one year, and he shall rejoice with his bride that he married".
The underlying reason of the mitzvah is, that Hashem, in His infinite wisdom, chose to create the world. He desired that it be populated with healthy and deserving creations who would unite in holiness, male and female. Since to Hashem, promiscuity and immorality are abhorrent, he decreed for the people who are called by his name, that a man should dwell for a full year with the woman who has been designated to bring souls into the world together with him.
In this year, he accustoms himself to her nature, and she to his, and he binds his thoughts to hers. He instills her likeness in his heart and allows her ways to permeate his soul. Then she will become familiar to him and any likeness or association with any other woman will be utterly foreign to him. He will shun any contact with other women. His wife, with whom only he is intimate, shall become the sole concern of his being. The children born of such a union will be pleasing and becoming, and the world will be full of grace in the eyes of Hashem.
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