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Posted on September 15, 2022 (5782) By Rabbi Yissocher Frand | Series: | Level:

These divrei Torah were adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Series on the weekly portion: #1304 Erasing a Tatoo of the Shem Hashem – Davening for Personal Needs on Rosh Hashana. Good Shabbos!

The Alschich HaKodesh quotes the Medrash regarding the first pasuk in Chumash (Bereshis Barah Elokim…) that the world was created for the sake of three things which are called Reshis (First): Yisroel, Torah, and Bikkurim (the mitzvah of bringing First Fruits to the Beis HaMikdash in Yerushalyim). The Alschich notes that it does not seem like hyperbole to say that the world was created for the sake of Yisroel. Nor does it seem surprising to say that the world was created for the sake of Torah. However, what is the emphasis in this statement of the Rabbis that the world was created for the Mitzvah of Bikkurim?

The Alschich answers that Bikkurim is a demonstration of Hakaras HaTov (gratitude). The world was created for the mitzvah of Bikkurim because the attribute of expressing gratitude is so fundamental to being a decent human being. Bikkurim demonstrates to us the importance of Hakaras HaTov.

The Vilna Gaon makes a very interesting comment in Sefer Yehoshua, from which we see the precision with which the Gaon learned a pasuk in Torah. We think of HaKaras HaTov as a very fundamental human attribute – if someone does not possess it, he is fundamentally flawed in his humanity. The Gaon understands the matter as more than just a human attribute—it is literally a Torah obligation!

In the beginning of Sefer Yehoshua, Rachav haZonah hid in her house the Spies that were sent by Yehoshua. When the Canaanite population came searching for them, she protected them and helped them escape capture. Rachav asked the spies to swear to her in G-d’s Name that they would repay the favor to her and her family by sparing them from death when the Jews would conquer the Land. The Gaon points out that when she talks about saving her family she requests “Chessed” (a kindness—over and above what “truth” requires). However, when she asks that her own life be spared, she asks for an “Os Emes” (a sign of “truth”) (Yehoshua 2:12).

The Gaon points out that for Rachav herself, who risked her life to save the spies, their “payback” to her is in the realm of Emes (truth). Returning a favor is not merely a “Chessed“, being nice. Remembering a debt of gratitude for a kindness done to you and paying back the favor at the appropriate time is something that a person needs to do—it is the absolute truth!

A Thought for Rosh HaShanah

Given our proximity to the upcoming Rosh Hashana, I believe it is appropriate to share a thought related to Rosh HaShanah.

In the sefer Orchos Rabbeinu, the author brings a ruling of the Chazon Ish that a person may insert into his Rosh HaShanah prayers any type of personal requests to HaKadosh Baruch Hu. At this auspicious time, a person has license to ask for whatever he needs—be it financial support, matters of health, shidduchim for family members—whatever a person needs! This is the time to pour out our hearts to the Ribono shel Olam.

This ruling is by no means obvious. We have spoken in past years in a Halachic context about whether personal requests are even permitted on Rosh HaShanah. The Vilna Gaon’s opinion—based on a Zohar—is that a person is not supposed to ask for any personal needs on Rosh HaShanah. The reason for that—as the text of the Rosh HaShanah liturgy indicates—is that the time is dedicated to asking for the revelation of the Glory of G-d on the entire universe.

If the Ribono shel Olam is the Melech (King), and we are supposed to be devoted servants, there is only one thing that should be our concern—the revelation of the Glory of Heaven (Gilui Kevod Shamayim). We have been in Galus for 2,000 years, most of the world does not recognize the Ribono shel Olam, and the Shechina is in Exile, so to speak. It is a terrible situation. According to the Gaon and the Zohar, Aseres Yemei Teshuva (the Ten Days of Repentance) and Yom Kippur are the time for personal requests. However, Rosh HaShanah is the time for petitioning that G-d’s Glory should be recognized throughout the world. So, what is pshat in the Chazon Ish?

The sefer Leket Rishimos by Rav Nosson Wachtfogel, zt”l, quotes the last schmooze that Rav Leib Chassman said in the Chevron Yeshiva the year before he died, on the last Rosh HaShanah of his life. Rav Leib Chassman quoted an idea in the name of the Chofetz Chaim. He gave a parable: The Czar of Russia went out to visit his kingdom. He began his grand tour in what was then the capital city – St. Petersburg. He marched through the streets of St. Petersburg and was given the honor due a monarch. The ceremonies, the pomp and the circumstance were not to be equaled.

He finished his tour of St. Petersburg and he went on to what was then the second most important city in Russia—Moscow. Moscow also put on a very impressive show. It was not as elaborate and extravagant as St. Petersburg, but it was still very, very impressive. And so it went from province to province and from city to city, town to town, and village to village throughout the country.

The Czar was about to come into one of the smaller villages of the empire in the hinterlands of the country, far away from the capital. It was a town of peasants where they barely knew about the Czar. The people had no grasp of his stature or the aura of his dominion. Think of hillbillies—rednecks from the hills of Appalachia—who were the inhabitants of this town and were now being graced with a visit by the distinguished Head of State.

The custom here was that when a stranger came into town, they threw stones at him. They did not like strangers visiting their village. Before the arrival of the Czar, the mayor of this little village gets up and addresses the people. He tells them, “Listen, the Czar is coming. I must ask of you one thing: Please don’t throw any stones! You don’t need to bring out a brass band. You don’t need to get dressed up in your holiday best, but just don’t throw rocks!”

The mayor’s request was heeded. The Czar came, he did not get much of a reception, but at least no one threw any stones at him. Tragedy was averted and his visit passed without negative consequences for this little village.

The Chofetz Chaim continued with his parable: When the Ribono shel Olam visits this world on the Day of Judgement, he first visits the Holy Patriarchs. They give Him an ample Kabalas Panim (welcome) because they know who the Ribono shel Olam is. He then goes through the generations—Moshe Rabbeinu, Yehoshua, etc. The reception down through the ages is not as elaborate as with the Avos, but it is certainly very appropriate. The Chazon Ish was in effect saying that we are like those peasants in the last stop on the Czar’s grand tour of the country. We are like those subjects of the Czar who had no idea who the Czar was and what he represented.

We don’t appreciate who the King of the World is. For us to go ahead and say that our main request in life is “You should rule over the whole world and over all Your creations” is not really sincere. We are not holding at that level. But we need to show the Ribono shel Olam that we believe that everything comes from Him. By directing our pleas for Parnassah and Gezunt and Hatzlacha and Shidduchim and Nachas (and the list goes on…) to Him, we are at least verbalizing our conviction that everything comes from the Almighty. If we tell that to the Ribono shel Olam and we believe it, that itself is a form of Kavod to the Ribono shel Olam.

He knows that we don’t have the proper level of Fear of His Majesty, and Awe and Reverence. Just like those poor farmers in Siberia who do not know who the Czar is or what the Czar is, we are so far removed from Giluy Shechina that we no longer have a proper understanding of the revelation of the Glory of G-d on the entire universe.

For sure, the Zohar is right and the Gaon is right. For sure, in the perfect world, we should be concerned about Hashem alone ruling over all His creations, and everyone knowing that He created them, etc., etc. But we are not holding by that. So how do we show the Ribono shel Olam that He is the King and everything comes from Him?

We do it by saying: Ribono shel Olam I NEED Your Help. I need parnassah. I need a shidduch. I know that everything comes from You. This is an expression of accepting the Yoke of Heaven — that He is in charge and from Him comes all. Therefore, because of our low stature, it is acceptable to place our needs before Him. This is the twenty-first century version of “V’Simloch Ata Levadecha al kol ma’asecha!” (May You alone reign over all your creations!)

Transcribed by David Twersky; Jerusalem [email protected]

Edited by Dovid Hoffman; Baltimore, MD [email protected]

This week’s write-up is adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissochar Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Series on the weekly Torah portion. A listing of the halachic portions for Parshas Ki Savo is provided below:

  • 021 The “Ins and Outs” of Mezzuzah
  • 066 Learning Hebrew: Mitzvah or Not?
  • 111 Allocating Your Tzedaka Dollar
  • 157 The Prohibition Against Erasing G-d’s Name
  • 204 Giving a Sefer Torah to a Non-Jew
  • 251 Shidduchim and Parental Wishes
  • 294 Geirim and Davening: Some Unique Problems
  • 340 The Pushka in Halacha
  • 384 The Prohibition of Chodosh
  • 428 Mentioning G-d’s Name in Vain
  • 472 Teffilin Shel Rosh
  • 516 Hagbeh
  • 560 Selichos
  • 604 Reading the Tochacha
  • 648 The Onain and Kaddish
  • 692 The Staggering Cost of Lashon Ho’rah
  • 736 Your Aliya: Must You Read Along?
  • 780 Can You Sue Your Father?
  • 824 Hitting An Older Child
  • 868 Loshon Horah Vs Lying – Which Is Worse?
  • 912 Shaimos What I Do With All Those Papers?
  • 956 The Phony Tzedakah Collector
  • 999 Can Your Mother Serve You Dinner?
  • 1043 Checking Mezzuzos: What Do You Do While They Are Down?
  • 1087 Saying A Borei P’ri Ha’Adama On Fruit
  • 1130 The Silent Shmoneh Esrei – Must It Be Silent
  • 1172 Can One Remove His Mezzuzos When Moving To A New Home?
  • 1216 Are Women Obligated in Yishuv Eretz Yisroel?
  • 1260 Mezzuzah – Case of No Case; Kissing the Mezzuzah – Good Idea or Not?
  • 1304 Erasing a Tatoo of the Shem Hashem – Davening for Personal Needs on Rosh Hashana
  • 1348 All You Ever Wanted to Know About Hagbah
  • 1392 Wearing Tephillin on a Toupee or a Cast
  • 1436 But If We Punish Him He May Not Remain Frum

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