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Posted on June 7, 2002 (5762) By Shlomo Katz | Series: | Level:

Hamaayan / The Torah Spring
Edited by Shlomo Katz


Volume XVI, No. 10
30 Kislev 5762
December 15, 2001

Today’s Learning:
Bava Batra 5:8-9
Orach Chaim 552:8-10
Daf Yomi (Bavli): Bava Metzia 23
Daf Yomi (Yerushalmi): Kilayim 35

The gemara (Shabbat 23b) teaches: “Rav Huna said: `If one is meticulously careful in lighting candles, he will merit to have sons who are Torah scholars’.” Rashi explains: “This is based on the verse (Mishlei 6:23), `For a mitzvah is a candle and Torah is light’ – through the mitzvah of Shabbat and Chanukah candles comes the light of Torah.”

So many people light Shabbat and Chanukah candles, observed R’ Kalman Winter shlita (rabbi of Southeast Hebrew Congregation in Silver Spring, Md.), yet there are relatively few Torah scholars! Why? Because Rav Huna’s promise is addressed only to those parents who want their children to be Torah scholars.

Not so long ago, R’ Winter added, the concept of studying Torah “lishmah” / as an end in itself was relatively unknown in America. If a young man announced that he wanted to remain in yeshiva and study Torah, his relatives would ask, “But what will you do with it? Do you plan to become a rabbi?” Rav Huna’s teaching, which relates the mitzvah of Chanukah candles to the study of Torah, shows us that this attitude is wrong. Halachah states that one may derive no pleasure from the Chanukah lights. One may look at them, but nothing more. Similarly, there is a concept of studying Torah lishmah, studying Torah without any practical goal in mind. This is the type of Torah study which creates real Torah scholars. (Heard from R’ Winter, 23 Kislev 5762)


“Now let Pharaoh seek out a discerning and wise man and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh proceed and let him appoint overseers on the land . . .” (41:33-34)

R’ Gavriel Ze’ev Margolis z”l (1849-1935; rabbi in Lithuania, Boston and New York) asks: If Yosef recommended that “Pharaoh [himself] proceed” and “appoint overseers over the land,” what was the purpose of first recommending that Pharaoh appoint “a discerning and wise man” to head the food-gathering effort?

He answers: Once, when there was a famine in 13 Russian provinces. The Czar appointed a commission to oversee the distribution of food to those provinces, and he named the crown to prince to head that commission. Why did he do this? Because without a very high-ranking official at the head of the relief efforts, those efforts undoubtedly would have become bogged down in inter-departmental red tape. Of course, the Czar himself could not be expected to become involved in the day-to-day activities of the relief effort, but someone whose stature was close to that of the Czar’s stature did have to participate in order to cut that red tape.

Similarly, said Yosef, Pharaoh must appoint a discerning and wise relief director whose stature would approach that of the Pharaoh himself. When Yosef said, “Let Pharaoh proceed and let him appoint overseers on the land,” he did not mean that Pharaoh should do this; he meant that the head of the relief effort should be named “Assistant Pharaoh” in order to ensure that he could mobilize all necessary resources.

What was the outcome? We read in the verses which follow (verses 44-45): “Pharaoh said to Yosef, `I am Pharaoh’ . . . and Pharaoh called Yosef’s name, `Zofnat Panai’ach’.” Pharaoh gave Yosef sweeping powers, but he made clear that there was only one “Pharaoh” and that Yosef would have to be called by some other title, not “Assistant Pharaoh.” (Torat Gavriel)


“They said to him, `Why does my lord say such things? It would be sacrilegious for your servants to do such a thing. Here, look — the money that we found in the mouth of our sacks we brought back to you from the land of Canaan. How then could we have stolen from your master’s house any silver or gold? Anyone among your servants with whom it is found shall die, and we also will become slaves to my lord.’

“He replied, `What you say now is also correct. The one with whom it is found shall be my slave, but the rest of you shall be exonerated’.” (44:7-10)

The above exchange took place when Yosef’s servant overtook Yosef’s brothers and accused them of stealing Yosef’s goblet. What did the servant mean when he said, “What you say now is also correct”? Does he not contradict them with his very next words? (They said, “Anyone among your servants with whom it is found shall die, and we also will become slaves to my lord,” but he said, “The one with whom it is found shall be my slave, and the rest of you shall be exonerated.”)

R’ Noach Rabinowitz z”l (1839-1902; member of the Brisk rabbinical court and rabbi of several Lithuanian towns) explains: When a person is convicted of a crime, but the judge is unsure how severe the punishment should be, the judge may consider evidence of good character as a mitigating factor. However, when the police come to search someone’s house, character evidence is irrelevant. The police say, “We have to search your house. Save your character evidence for the judge.”

When Yosef’s servant came to inspect the brothers’ bags in search of Yosef’s goblet, they offered character evidence – “Here, look — the money that we found in the mouth of our sacks we brought back to you from the land of Canaan. How then could we have stolen from your master’s house any silver or gold?” The servant responded: “What you now say is also correct.” He meant: Your character evidence is persuasive. But now is not the time for character evidence. Save that evidence until sentencing so that “the one with whom it is found shall be my slave” – instead of being executed – “and the rest of you shall be exonerated ” – instead of becoming slaves. (Toldot Noach p. 208)


From the Haftarah . . .

“[The angel] said to me, `What do you see?’ I said, `I see, and behold! — there is a menorah made entirely of gold with its bowl on its top, and its seven lamps are upon it and there are seven tubes to each of the lamps that are on its top. And two olive trees are near it, one to the right of the bowl and one to its left.’

“I spoke up and said to the angel that was speaking to me, saying, `What are these, my lord?’

“The angel who was speaking to me spoke up and said to me, `Do you not know what they are?’ I said, `No, my lord.’

“He spoke up and said to me, saying, `This is the word of Hashem to Zerubavvel, saying, “Not through armies and not through might, but through My spirit,” says Hashem, Master of Legions’.” (Zechariah 4:2-6)

R’ Joseph B. Soloveitchik z”l (1903-1993) explains these verses in the name of his grandfather, R’ Chaim “Brisker” z”l (1853- 1918):

The prophet Zechariah did not understand the images he was seeing in the above verses: a menorah made entirely of gold and two olive trees. Presumably, the two olive trees represent the anointing of the two leaders of the Jews – the Kohen Gadol and the king. But Zechariah lived in the Second Temple era, when the Kohen Gadol and the king were not anointed with olive oil (unlike their predecessors in the time of the First Bet Hamikdash). Furthermore, the Jews in Zechariah’s time were quite poor, and the Second Temple did not have a gold menorah, only one of lead! What, then, was G-d showing Zechariah?

The angel answered that Zechariah was seeing the future Third Temple, not the Temple in his own time. “`Not through armies and not through might, but through My spirit [will that Temple be built],’ says Hashem.” R’ Chaim explains: Rambam teaches that the sanctification of Eretz Yisrael that resulted from Yehoshua’s original conquest of the Land was only temporary. [This refers to Moshe’s disciple Yehoshua, not to be confused with the Yehoshua mentioned in our haftarah.] In contrast, the sanctification of the Land as a result of Ezra’s aliyah at the beginning of the Second Temple Era was permanent. Why? Because Ezra sanctified the Land by building the Temple, thus bringing the Shechinah to the Land contemporaneously with its settlement. Yehoshua did not do this.

Nevertheless, the sanctification of the Land through the building of the Second Temple was incomplete. [For example, the Holy Ark of Moshe was missing from the Second Temple.] That missing sanctity will be supplied only in mashiach’s time. Thus, the sanctity of the Second and Third Temples are not independent; they complement each other. “Not through armies and not through might” – not through Yehoshua’s conquest – “but through My spirit” – through bringing the Shechinah into the Second Temple, will the future Bet Hamikdash – which will be complete with a gold menorah and anointing oil – be sanctified. (Quoted in Reshimot Shiruim: Sukkah p.280)


R’ Isser Yehuda Unterman z”l

R’ Isser Yehuda Unterman, second Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel, was born on 14 Nissan 5646 / 1886 in Brest- Litovsk (Brisk), where his father, R’ Eliyahu, was a melamed / teacher of children. Among R’ Isser Yehuda’s ancestors were R’ Yom Tov Lipman Heller (1579-1654; author of the Mishnah commentary, Tosefot Yom Tov) and R’ Shaul Wahl Katznellenbogen (1540-1616). Legend records that this latter personality was elected King of Poland for a day.

At a young age, the future R’ Unterman became known as the “Illui” / “Genius” of Brisk, and, before age 12, he was studying under R’ Simcha Zelig Reiger, the famous dayan / judge of his hometown. In 1898, the future Chief Rabbi was invited to become one of the founding students of Yeshiva Anaf Etz Chaim in Maltsch, headed by R’ Zalman Sender Kahana-Shapiro. For a time, the young man studied in the Mir Yeshiva, but he later returned to Maltsch. Eventually, the yeshiva in that town came to be headed by R’ Shimon Shkop, who R’ Unterman considered to be his primary teacher. Following his marriage, R’ Unterman studied in the kollel of the Volozhin Yeshiva, which had reopened under the leadership of R’ Raphael Shapiro, who ordained R’ Unterman.

While R’ Unterman was studying in Volozhin, he was invited to open a yeshiva in the neighboring town of Visnhova. The yeshiva was very successful – even the Chafetz Chaim sent one of his nephews to study there – but R’ Unterman soon developed laryngitis, which ended his regular teaching career. He then began a career in the rabbinate, with his first position being in the town of Mohilna, near Minsk. Later, he moved to the town of Amstivova.

During World War I, R’ Unterman refused to flee as the front approached, and, when the Germans occupied his town, he became a leading spokesman for Jewish interests before the new rulers. This aspect of his leadership continued when the town passed to Polish control after the war, as it did in every place where he served as rabbi thereafter. After the war, R’ Unterman served on the board of Ezras Torah, which was devoted to rebuilding destroyed Jewish institutions. In this period, he also began to take an active role in the Mizrachi Zionist movement. In his speech at the 1922 Mizrachi convention, and in articles which he published, R’ Unterman emphasized that Zionism must be more than a call for a place to escape from anti-Semitism; rather, Zionism must have “a soul,” a solid Torah foundation. He called for all Jews, whether they were affiliated with the Agudah, with Mizrachi, or with the secular Zionists, to cooperate on achieving shared goals, and he expressed the hope that enough Torah observant Jews would settle in Eretz Yisrael that they would be able to determine the nature of any future state. – To be continued –

Sponsored by:

Rabbi and Mrs. Sam Vogel
on the yahrzeit of mother Miriam bat Yehuda Laib Kalkstein a”h

Rabbi and Mrs. Barry Greengart
on the first yahrzeit of father R’ Hyman Friedman a”h
(R’ Chaim Raphael ben Yom Tov Lipman)

Dr. and Mrs. Irving Katz, in honor of the bat mitzvah of
granddaughter Elisheva

Copyright © 2001 by Shlomo Katz and Project Genesis, Inc.

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