Parshat Ki Tavo Vol.10 No.2

Date of issue: 16 Elul 5760 -- September 16, 2000

This week's issue of Kol Torah has been
sponsored by the Zecher family in honor of
Rabbi Adler being honored by the
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for being an outstanding religious leader.

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This week's featured writers:

Rabbi Joel Grossman
David Gertler
Daniel Wenger
Rabbi Howard Jachter
*Bishul Akum*
Halacha of the Week
Food For Thought
-by *Dani Gross*

Proper Intent
by Rabbi Joel Grossman

This week's Parsha discusses the topic of Maaser Sheni, which is brought in the third and sixth years of the Shemittah cycle. The Torah (26:13) teaches us that when bringing Maaser Sheni the farmer must recite the phrase Lo Avarti Mimitzvotecha Velo Shachachti, "I have not violated any of Your commandments and I have not forgotten." In his Sefer Something to Say, Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser asks about the apparent redundancy. If one did not violate anything, he obviously has not forgotten anything. Rav Goldwasser quotes the Sfat Emet, who answers that sometimes we may perform a Mitzva only out of habit, forgetting the reason behind it. While we may fulfill the commandment, we lack the proper intent. Therefore, when removing the Maaser, the farmer declares, "I have not violated and I have not forgotten," meaning not only has he fulfilled the Mitzva, but he has also not forgotten its true meaning.

This point is also demonstrated by Rav Moshe Feinstein on the Pasuk Lalechet Biderachav Velishmor Chukav Umitzvotav Umishpatav Velishmoa Bekolo, "to walk in His ways and to observe His decrees, His commandments, and His statutes and to listen to His voice" (26:17). Rav Moshe asked, "Why does the Pasuk say 'and to listen to His voice' after already having said, 'to walk in His ways and to observe His decrees, His commandments, and His statutes?' It is obvious that someone who observes all of these laws has already listened to Hashem's voice!" Rav Moshe answers that we must do the Mitzvot in a manner that will be pleasing and acceptable to Hashem. We cannot do them as one would pay a debt; rather, we must do them with love, joy, and graciousness.

As we continue in the month of Elul and approach the Yom Hadin of Rosh Hashana, we must work on the concept of Ivd Et Hashem Besimcha, serving Hashem with joy, and do each commandment with a feeling of love and closeness to Hashem. We must stop doing Mitzvot by rote; rather, we should study their true meanings and be cognizant of those meanings when we do the Mitzvot. The Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 90) rules that Mitzvot Tzerichot Kavana, we must have proper intent in order to fulfill a Mitzva.

There is a famous story about a Baal Tokea (someone who blows the Shofar) who learned all the Kavanot to have in mind before each blast of the Shofar. He studied them and took notes, and he was so happy and proud that this year everyone in his Shul would fulfill the Mitzva on the highest level. On the morning of Rosh Hashana, a gust of wind blew his treasured notes out of his hand. He tried to retrieve them, but they were lost. When he came to Shul, he told the Rabbi he cold not blow without his notes. The Rabbi told him to blow anyway, so he did, and it was the best job he had ever done. The Rabbi came over to him and said that the proper Kavana for blowing Shofar is a broken heart, and this year, because the Baal Tokea was so upset, he did the best job he could ever have done. If each of us can do every Mitzva with its proper Kavana, then we, too, can do every Mitzva in the best possible manner and be able to say in regard to all the commandments, Lo Avarti Mimitzvotecha Velo Shachachti.

What, Me Worry?
by David Gertler

The Pasuk says, "Your life will hang opposite you, and you will be frightened night and day, and you will not be certain of your life" (28:66).

Rashi comments that this is referring to people who worry throughout life. There is a Gemara in Menachot (103b) that divides this Pasuk into three sections: the first deals with one who worries and plans one year in ahead. The second deals with one who worries and plans from one Friday to the next. The third deals with one who worries constantly of death and only plans one day at a time.

To be in constant fear is extremely bad for one's self esteem, as Rabbi Abraham Twerski explains in his book Dearer than Life. It is a Mitzva to be happy, as it says (Devarim 16:15), "And you will celebrate…and you will be completely joyous." It also says in our Parsha (28:47) that one of the reasons for the exile is because we did not do the Mitzvot in happiness.

The Chafetz Chaim on Parshat Haazinu says that many people look at their Yisurim (troubles) as pains because they suffer in this world for them, but when they go to Olam Habah they will see all their reward for their troubles and will wish they had many more Yisurim in this world.

It is important to accept all the bad things in one's life knowing that Hashem knows what He is doing. The Chafetz Chaim says that one should be happy with what he has. The Gemara in Berachot (54a) says that one is obligated to be thankful for the bad that Hashem gives him. Rabbi Twerski says that a Talmid asked the Maggid of Mezeritch how one can fulfill the edict of this Gemara. The Magid told the Talmid to ask a Rebbe, Reb Zushia:

Reb Zushia was a Talmudic scholar who concealed his knowledge of Torah and gave the impression of being unlearned. Hence, when the Talmid posed this question to him, he responded, "Why do you ask me? I am not well versed in Torah." When the Talmid stated that the Maggid had referred him to Reb Zushia, Reb Zushia shrugged his shoulders and said, "How can I answer that question? I have never experienced anything bad." The Talmid looked at Reb Zushia, who was wearing tattered clothes and was stricken with a painful disease, and he realized that his question had been answered.

A second story about Reb Zushia furthers this point:

Someone asked Reb Zushia, "How can you say the Beracha thanking Hashem for all of your needs when you are so impoverished that many of your needs are unmet? Don't you think you are dissimulating when you say this Beracha?" Reb Zushia responded, "Not at all. God has a much better understanding of my needs than I do, and He understands that poverty is one of my needs."

Bereishit Rabbah says that Tzaddikim are able to control their emotions. It is very important, especially when times get tough, to really think through one's emotions. Rav Twerski uses a comic by Charles Schulz in his book When Do The Good Things Start. In the comic, Charlie Brown says "It's very strange, sometimes you lie in bed and you don't have a single thing to worry about; that always worries me." Some people think that worrying has to be a part of life, so much so that if they are ever at rest with their problems they are worried that they must have overlooked something.

To be happy is not something to be scared of. To be at rest with one's problems, no matter how big they may be, is something to be achieved and not something to be avoided. Peace of mind about life is the best thing one can do for oneself. The only fears that we should have are Yirat Shamayim Veyirat Chet, fear of Heaven and fear of sin (Berachot 60a). If it is unhealthy to worry about one's future, then it is certainly wrong to be worry about the past; what was, was (Moed Katan 25a).

The best plan for life is to take everything that one is given and understand that it has been given for a reason. To worry about past deeds is useless unless one can fix them. To worry about what will be is useless because one has no control over the future. Whatever will be, will be, and when life seems to be dragging you down simply remind yourself: "This, too, is for the best."

The Serenity Prayer used in the twelve step program states: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

Rising from Defeat
by Daniel Wenger

When Moshe began to speak the words of the Tochacha (reproof), the Midrash relates that the earth and heavens shook, the sun stopped shining, the wind died down, all animals were silent, and our forefathers cried out from their graves. They asked Hashem, "How can our children survive all these harsh punishments? Even our merit will not be able to stop this from happening!" Hashem responded that His promise to keep Bnai Yisrael alive to build the Bait Hamikdash had not been nullified, and He would save Bnai Yisrael from complete destruction.

The curses, which came true in the times of the destruction of both temples, are as follows:

Failed business dealings: When the Jewish people stray from Hashem, He will first cause their businesses to fail. Produce will be hard to come by, children will leave their parents, and farm animals will die. During times of siege, the Jews inside a besieged city did not have enough food, so their children and animals died.

Sickness: With a lack of food and water, epidemics will spread through the land killing much of the population.

Defeat at battle: Without supplies, Bnai Yisrael's enemies will be free to attack, and there will be no way to prevent them from entering the walls. This is how the two Batei Mikdash, as well as many other cities, were destroyed by the Babylonians and the Romans.

Confusion: With disease ravaging the population and no cure to be found, the land will be thrown into chaos, and there will be no order in the cities. This, too, happened in the time of the destruction of the second Bait Hamikdash.

Failure: Bnai Yisrael will not succeed in any of their endeavors. They will build houses but not be able to live in them. Their animals will stray and be taken from them. The enemy will eat the fruit of their labor. Indeed, every time the enemies went through the cities, they stole all the Jews' produce, animals, and houses, leaving the Jews powerless.

Exile: The final curse is that of exile. When the Jews do so much wrong, they are no longer worthy of even living in the land, so they must be removed from it. This, of course, is what happened after the destruction of the Batei Mikdash, when most of the Jews were exiled to the lands of their conquerors.

Each curse, however, has a parallel blessing that speaks of healing and success. If we follow the ways of Hashem and the teachings of Chazal, we will be able to make the Torah's blessings come true very soon, Am Yisrael's health will be restored, and the Bait Hamikdash will be rebuilt.

Halacha of the Week

Lashon Hara is biblically forbidden even if it is merely presented as a joke (Chafetz Chaim Hilchot Issurei Lashon Hara 3:3).

Food for Thought
by Dani Gross

1) Why is it that when one brings Bikkurim he reads the Pesukim of Arami Oved Avi?

2) Why were the Shevatim split as they were in order to receive the Berachot and Klalot on Har Gerizim and Har Eival?

3) There are twelve curses written in the Pesukim. Rashi, however, mentions that the eleven curses correspond to the eleven Shevatim that received Berachot from Moshe. (Shimon did not receive a Beracha.) Why is there a discrepancy in Rashi's accounting?

If you have a response to these questions, please contact us at Responses may be published upon agreement of the provider.

Staff at time of publication:
Editors-in-Chief: Avi-Gil Chaitovsky, Dani Gross
Managing Editors: Moshe Glasser, Zevi Goldberg
Publication Editor: Daniel Wenger
Business Manager: Yechiel Shaffer
Staff: Josh Dubin, Zev Feigenbaum, Michael Humphrey, Binyamin Kagedan, Yair Manas, Uriel Schechter, Yoni Shenkman, Gil Stein, Uri Westrich
Webmaster: KJ Leichman
Faculty Advisor: Rabbi Howard Jachter

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