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Posted on October 13, 2023 (5784) 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: #1264 – Can Women Drink from the Wine of Havdalah? Good Shabbos!

The pasuk says, “And Hashem Elokim made for Adam and his wife garments of skin…” (Bereshis 3:21). After Adam and Chava ate from the Etz ha’Daas, they realized that they were naked (they were previously unaware of this fact) and they covered themselves with fig leaves. However, Hashem made for them leather garments and dressed them in the garments.

The Gemara (Sotah 14a) inquiries about the meaning of the pasuk (Devorim 13:5) “you should walk after Hashem your G-d.” Is it possible, the Gemara asks, to walk after the Divine Presence? Behold it says elsewhere (Devorim 4:24) “For Hashem your G-d is a Fire that consumes…” Rather, the intent of the pasuk “you should walk after the Ribono shel Olam” is that you should emulate His Ways.

The Gemara gives several examples of how we should emulate Hashem: Just as He clothes the naked, as it is written “And Hashem made Adam and his wife leather garments and He dressed them” so too you should clothe those without clothing. Just as He visits the sick, as it is written that Hashem visited Avraham in Elonei Mamre after his Bris Milah, so too you should visit the sick. Just as Hashem comforts the mourners (Bereshis 25:11) so too you should comfort mourners. Hashem buried the dead, as it is written “and He buried him in the depression opposite Beis Peor…” (Devorim 34:6), so too you should bury the dead. All the mitzvos of chessed that emulate the ways of the Ribono shel Olam are a fulfillment of a Biblical mitzva falling under the rubric of “And you shall walk in His Ways.” (Devorim 28:9)

The Gemara in Sotah continues: Rav Simlai expounded – Torah begins with gemilas chassadim (acts of kindness) and ends with gemilas chassadim. The Torah begins with an act of kindness as it says “Hashem made for them leather garments” and the Torah ends with an act of kindness as it says “and He buried him (Moshe Rabbeinu) in the depression…”

Rav Avraham Buxbaum asks a simple question from a sefer called Mishmeres Elazar by Rav Shaul Brach: What is Rav Simlai adding to the previous statement of the Gemara? The Gemara already enumerated all the ways man is supposed to emulate Hashem, cataloging the examples that we find in Chumash, beginning with Hashem‘s making leather garments for Adam and Chava in Parshas Bereshis and ending with His burying Moshe Rabbeinu in Parshas ve’Zos haBracha. Rav Simlai does not appear to be telling us anything we do not already know by saying “the Torah begins with an act of kindness and ends with an act of kindness.” What is he emphasizing for us?

The Mishmeres Elazar answers with a beautiful observation: There is a stark difference between the Torah’s first chessed (clothing Adam and Chava) and the last chessed (burying Moshe). The Torah is explicit by the first chessed, when it says: “And Hashem Elokim made for Adam and his wife garments of skin and he clothed them.” The pasuk says explicitly who did it: Hashem Elokim.” However, the last chessed in the Torah is mentioned anonymously “And He buried him in the depression.” Obviously, we know that the anonymous “He” is the Ribono shel Olam, but why doesn’t the Torah say “Hashem Elokim buried him in the depression”? Why the inconsistency? If anonymity is appropriate, both places should be anonymous; if attribution is appropriate, both places should mention Hashem Elokim!

The Mishmeres Elazar observes that Rav Simlai is teaching us a chiddush (novel idea). Not only do we need to emulate the ways of the Ribono shel Olam, but we also need to emulate how the Ribono shel Olam carries out His acts of chessed. Often the proper approach to chessed is to remain anonymous. Under normal circumstances, no one needs to know who gave the money, who sponsored the Kiddush, who cleaned up the Beis Medrash, who visited the sick, etc., etc. Anonymity is usually best. The person who receives the chessed does not need to know that I did it. Certainly, everyone else does not need to know that I did it. The best form of chessed is “matan b’seiser” (giving in secret) – anonymously!

On the other hand, sometimes circumstances dictate that it is a mitzva to let the recipient know who is performing the chessed. When burying Moshe Rabbeinu, the Ribono shel Olam did the chessed anonymously. That is a paradigm. Under most circumstances, don’t claim credit. Let it be anonymous. Don’t say it explicitly. Try to remain in the background. Let people try to figure out who did it on their own.

However, regarding making clothes out of skin for them, Adam and Chava appropriately felt that they just ruined the world and that they were out of the good graces of the Ribono shel Olam. He gave them one mitzva (forbidding them to eat from the Tree of Knowledge) and they didn’t keep it. “How angry the Ribono shel Olam must be with us! How rejected we must be by Him!” So the Ribono shel Olam could have made clothes for them and left the clothes somewhere in Gan Eden. Lo and behold, Adam and Chava would happen upon these leather garments and use them to clothe themselves instead of the fig leaves. But the Ribono shel Olam wanted them to know “I still love you. I still care about you.” Therefore, the pasuk explicitly states “And Hashem Elokim made for them leather garments” as if to say “I want you to know that this comes from Hashem Elokim. I am not only exercising my Attribute of Mercy, but I am also exercising my Attribute of Justice.” No matter what you did, you are still My Handiwork. You are still dear to me.

Sometimes a person needs a certain sense of kiruv (intimacy) even when he has erred and caused himself great misfortune. This is the chiddush of Rabbi Simlai – the Ribono shel Olam is not only teaching us what to do as chessed, He is teaching us as well how to do chessed.

I once heard a story about Rav Soloveitchik, zt”l, calling a widow on the telephone. Usually when he would call someone, he would begin the conversation by saying “This is Soloveitchik…” But when he called this widow, he said “This is Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik…” He wanted her to know who was calling her. She should appreciate that she was being called by Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik and not just by any old rabbi. Sometimes the bigger chessed is to make sure the recipient realizes who still cares about them and is looking out for their welfare. Thus, it is written: “And Hashem Elokim made them leather garments and dressed them.”

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 Bereshis is provided below:

  • # 026 – Adoption: Problems and Solutions
  • # 068 – Artificial Insemination
  • # 117 – Inducing Labor: A viable option?
  • # 164 – Weddings in Shuls: Is there a Problem?
  • # 210 – Is Marriage a Mitzvah?
  • # 254 – Truth Tellings and Shidduchim
  • # 300 – A Mamzer’s Obligation in Mitzvos
  • # 344 – Marriage and the Birchas Airusin
  • # 388 – The “Kedushai Ketanah” Controversy
  • # 432 – Choices in Marriage Partners
  • # 476 – Melacha of Planting
  • # 520 – Kavod and Oneg Shabbos
  • # 564 – You and Your Wife – Ishto Kegufo
  • # 608 – The Tefilah of Modeh Ani
  • # 652 – The Tefilah of Asher Yatzar
  • # 696 – The Bracha on the Havdala Candle
  • # 740 – When Exactly Does Shabbos Start?
  • # 784 – The Beautiful Essrog – How Much More?
  • # 828 – The Baal Teshuva and Pirya Ve’Rivya
  • # 872 – Marrying Someone With The Same Name As Your Mother
  • # 916 – Not Having Children?
  • # 959 – The Case of the Mixed Up Wedding Ring
  • #1003 – The Case of the Missing Shabbos Bathroom Tissue
  • #1047 – Mogen Avos on Friday Night – When and Why?
  • #1090 – Bracha on Havdalah Candle: Before or After?
  • #1133 – Bracha of ELokai Neshama She’Naasaata Be
  • #1176 – Chupa: Inside or Outside? In a Shul or Not In A Shul?
  • #1220 – Forgetting Mashiv HaRuach on Friday Night
  • #1264 – Can Women Drink from the Wine of Havdalah?
  • #1308 – Can You Make Kiddush for Someone If It Is Not Shabbos for You?
  • #1352 – Is It a Mitzva for a Man to Get Married?
  • #1396 – Is a Person with a Hereditary Genetic Disease Obligated to Have Children?
  • #1440 – Is This The Year That You Are Going To Be Maavir Sedra Properly?
  • #1484 – The Bracha of Borei MeOrei HaAish
  • #1528 – The Magnificent Bracha of Asher Yotzar
  • (2022) – Jumping the gun on saying v’Sein Taal u’Matar

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