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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Nitzavim

Parshat Nitzavim

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Nitzavim                                                                 Print Version
27th of Elul, 5781 | September 4, 2021

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Aharon Feldman
The Secret of the Siyum

Each letter of the Hebrew alphabet has a name (aleph, beis, gimmel etc.). When we pronounce the letter, however, we only pronounce the first letter of the name. In example, the name of aleph is spelled aleph-lamed-fei, but when we pronounce it, we only pronounce the aleph. Beis is written bei-yud-tuf, but when we pronounce it, we only state the first letter of beis.

In the view of Chazal, the part of the letter that we pronounce is called the revealed part of the letter (nigleh), while the part of the letter which we don’t pronounce is known as the hidden part (nistar). As we know, each Hebrew letter has a Hebrew equivalent, known as gematria. The numeric equivalent of siyum is very unique, the Vilna Gaon points out.

The revealed part of the word siyum – the samech – has the same numeric value (60) as the hidden part of the word – the letters mem (40) and chaf (20). The same is true of the rest of the letters of the word siyum

Yud is the next letter, and is spelled in full as yud-vav-daled. The letter yud, as the revealed part, numerically equals 10, and the letters vav and daled add together to equal 10 also. The revealed part and the hidden part are thus both equal to each other.

Vav, next letter, is spelled in full as vav and vav, both of which have the same numeric value of six.

Mem, the final letter in the word siyum is the revealed part and equals 40, but the hidden part – also the letter mem –equals 40. Notably, these are the only four letters in the entire Hebrew alphabet – samech, yud, vav and mem – where the hidden part equals the revealed part.

What is the significance of the hidden and revealed parts of the word siyum equaling each other?

A certain, outstanding talmid chacham suggested an idea to me, which I would like to apply to this word siyum. The revealed part of the word siyum represents the actual learning of the Gemara, whereas the hidden part represents two aspects of the process of Torah study. The equivalence of the hidden and revealed parts of the word siyum hint to the fact that both the actual learning of Torah itself and the other two aspects of Torah study are both elements of equal importance.

What are these two aspects?

One is that our learning is not complete unless we understand it, which is accomplished through analysis and breaking it down into its basic components. The second aspect is that our learning is not complete unless we review it, to ensure that we do not forget it. These two aspects are symbolized by the two parts of the letters siyum – the revealed and the hidden parts.

The last two letters of samech when spelled out in full are mem and chaf, which are different letters than the first letter (a samech). They represent the fact that you must break up the samech into its components; that you must understand your learning and rigorously analyze it. The same is true of the next letter in the word siyum – yud. The hidden part of the letter (vav and daled) is different from the initial letter (yud). This likewise emphasizes that we must break down and analyze the wisdom we have learned.

The next letters (vav and mem) in the word siyum have both the hidden and revealed parts as the exact same letter. The hidden part of the vav is a vav, and the hidden part of the mem is a mem. This teaches us another aspect of learning – reviewing what we have learned. We must go over the same material we have studied again and again until we are sure that we will not forget it. Without that, our learning is incomplete.

As Daf Yomi celebrates a siyum over completing Mesechta Sukkah, let us recognize the two aspects of learning which are necessary to complete our learning. We must understand it, analyze it, and break down its components to comprehend what they are made up of. And secondly, we must review what we have studied and ensure that we don’t forget it as quickly as we learned it. Let us keep this in mind as we continue our journey through Shas.

Rabbi Meir Simcha Sperling
In Your Pocket

You’d never think that you can have the yetzer hara in your pocket, but in today’s day and age, you literally can. However, you can avoid putting yourself in that position. That is completely in your control. Yes, of course, it is annoying and bothersome to have a filter on your phone and the like, but for your success as a Jew and a person, you need this, No one, no matter how great you are, is impervious to the snares of the yetzer hara. No one. Period. In fact, the greater you are, the greater your yetzer hara is (Sukkah 52a). So, if you are a well-respected individual who is known to hold high spiritual standards, then this is especially true for you.

A filter is something that you cannot bypass. If you can get through it, the filter is not useful. Don’t deceive yourself. Be honest with yourself.

If someone is in physically in jail but can get out, they are not for all intents and purposes in jail. True, they are there now, but there is nothing stopping them from leaving. Remember, you are doing this for yourself, for your benefit. Yes, you have self-control, but your yetzer hara knows your weak points and knows just how to work slowly and slyly to weaken and corrode your self-control until he pounces on you and you fall.

So prepare for battle. Take the necessary steps to get ready, and you’ll be set.

Rabbi Paysach Krohn
Ensuring Continuity

Shlomo Hamelech tells us, “Ki ner mitzvah v’Torah ohr – a mitzvah is like a candle and the Torah like light (Mishlei 6:23). For many years, there has been a term fondly applied to those who carefully and unwaveringly carry out a specific mitzvah – mitzvah yiddin, mitzvah Jews. There would be a community where everyone kept Shabbos. They didn’t necessarily learn Torah, but they were very strict with the observance of Shabbos. However, they weren’t successful in passing it along to the next generation. There were other communities where everyone was extremely strict with keeping Kashrus and they wouldn’t touch anything that had any semblance of a doubt as to its kosher standard. There were others who were very scrupulous about praying.

But transmitting this dedication to mitzvos did not pass to the next generation, because all the influences of secularism and materialism had an effect on those people and it broke them. The only ones who were able to pass it on to their children were those who opened yeshivos. Those who learned Torah passed the tradition of Judaism on to their children.

This is what it means in the above Pasuk. If you light a candle and the windows are closed, it’s not a problem; the candle will remain aflame. However, if you open the window and the candle goes out, it makes it clear that the candle could never really resist the stronger winds.

This is what defines a mitzvah and Torah study. A mitzvah is very good, but it is a candle. And therefore, when you have the outside influences of the world come up against its observance, even when someone is keeping Shabbos or kashrus, the outside influences can break a person. However, Torah is more than just a candle. It is a fire. A fire, when faced with wind, grows even bigger. When a person immerses himself in the study of Torah and the winds of secularism and immorality sweep across, then the person grows even stronger and he wants to learn even more Torah to protect himself. That is why it is so important to learn Torah. It is more than just a mitzvah. Of course, a mitzvah is important, but Torah study does something that nothing else can accomplish.

The future of the Klal Yisroel lies within those who teach and learn Torah.

Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser
Not All or Nothing

A man once called me and said, “I can’t daven; it’s just not going.” “So what did you do?” I asked. “I stopped davening altogether,” he said. That was it. But I had one thing to ask him. “Why did you stop? Daven something, anything.” “If I don’t pray the whole thing,” he went on, “everything is missing and I didn’t pray the first part or second part, and isn’t it all a build-up?!”
“I have one thing you can do. Could you say Kriat Shema? 3 paragraphs. Is that possible?” “Yeah, I could say that,” he replied, “but what’s the point? What does it mean if I don’t daven everything?”

Think about it … Kriat Shema! It says in the Torah to say Shema, and a person with that merit, who knows, it can save their life. It can make them a ben Olam Habah, worthy of the World to Come. Just Kriat Shema; that’s all you got to do. “Well, if the Rav says…” the man acquiesced.

Shortly after that, a member of Hatzalah received a call about a man who was in critical condition. Unfortunately, upon their arrival, they realized that he was in worse shape than they anticipated. One of the people, looing at the man, said, “It doesn’t look good; I’m not sure if he’s going to make it.” The head Hatzalah member that was there then said, “We will say Kriat Shema; it’s time to say Kriat Shema. We will say it and give the zechut to him that he should live.” Each member said Kriat Shema like it was Neilah on Yom Kippur. Each member accepted upon themselves G-d’s dominion over the world and the responsibility to carry out His mitzvos like they never had done before.

The patient pulled through.

After this incident, I called the man back and let him know about this incident, as I emphasized the power of Shema. The man then said, his voice cracking, “Rebbe, I didn’t want to tell you… that person is related to me.”

It’s not all or nothing in Hashem’s eyes. It’s always something. Whatever you can do is valued, is a significant step and is cherished by Hashem.

Rabbi Shay Tahan
Convert it To Positive

The Steipler Gaon writes that how much pain and struggle a person will endure for the upcoming year is decided on Rosh Hashanah. Since it’s already decided, you can either, writes the Steipler, use it in a positive way or negative way.

In example, if a person is determined to experience a certain amount of pain, with the right intentions of teshuva, that amount of pain could be converted to pain which bears good results, such as having a baby or something else that yields a positive result. Let’s say that Hashem decreed that you will be in the hospital on a certain day. The reason you are there could either be due to an illness, G-d forbid, or because you are vising someone and performing a mitzvah. How we utilize our time and how we occupy our focus will determine and translate the meaning of what Hashem decrees for us on Rosh Hashanah. If we choose to lead a life of Torah and mitzvos, much of the struggle we might have been decreed to endure can be experienced through our very actions of mitzvah performance, such as the struggle of rigorous Torah study. The point is that the decree will be signed and sealed; how it is interpreted is up to us and our actions.

Rabbi Daniel Staum
The Four Women

While throughout the High Holidays, it is naturally required that someone overlook young children, and as if often is, mothers take on this role, this shouldn’t in any way undermine the pivotal role women play in the Yom Tov of Rosh Hashanah.

On the first day of Rosh Hashanah, we read about the birth of Yitzchak Avinu. Sarah Imeinu, deep-down, laughed upon hearing of the impending birth of Yitzchak. Yet, although she laughed, the birth of Klal Yisroel was generated through him. The hope in impossible situations, the symbolism of the history of the Jewish people, is read about on the first day Rosh Hashanah.

The next woman who plays a central role on Rosh Hashanah is Hagar. Hagar placed Yishmael to the side when his death was looming. She couldn’t bear to witness the tragic end of her son. Yet Hashem told her to look up and open her eyes, whereupon she saw a well and brought Yishmael to life. The takeaway from this is that Hashem judges a person where they are at the moment in which they are judged. At this point, Yishmael deserved to live, and despite his future ignoble acts, Hashem granted him life, in light of his actions at that point. We too are judged on Rosh Hashanah as we stand before Hashem on that day, which evokes Hashem’s kindness and compassion.

In the Haftorah of the first day of Rosh Hashanah, we read about Chanah, the mother of Shmuel, who was accused by Eli Ha’Kohen of being drunk, though her downtrodden state was truthfully the result of her inability to have a child. Yet, it was from this encounter that Chanah was blessed and eventually gave birth to Shmuel.

And lastly, on the second day of Rosh Hashanah, we read from the Book of Yirmiyahu about Rachel Imeinu who refused to stop crying out to Hashem about her children. If Rachel was able to put aside her emotions and allow her sister to step in and marry Yaakov, how much should Hashem look at us with compassion and empathy and bless us.

As we stand before Hashem on Rosh Hashanah, we turn to the great lives of Sarah, Hagar, Chanah and Rachel. Their actions continue to inspire us and give us the insight and encouragement to improve our lives and fulfill our potential.

Rabbi Yisroel Majeski
3 Tips to Tip the Scale

Here are three things you can take into Rosh Hashanah and help tip the scales in your favor for an incredible year ahead.
The Gemara (Rosh Hashanah 17a) relates that Rav Huna son of R’ Yehoshua got sick, and R’ Papa went to visit him. As R’ Papa predicted, Rav Huna was not going to survive. But as it turned out, Rav Huna proved this wrong; he survived. When R’ Papa heard this, he was embarrassed to the point that he couldn’t bear to see Rav Huna. “I said he was about to die and now he lived!” The students of R’ Huna went to him and asked what he had seen in Heaven when he was sick.

“I was going to die,” he said, “but then Hashem came and said, ‘Because Rav Huna was not so strict about his own honor, and he let things go when he was slighted, I must do the same and let things go, even though he deserves to die.’”

We all have people in our life who have wronged us. But imagine that if you really let it go…

The Gemara says that we refer to Hashem as One who picks up the sins of a person and overlooks them. Whose sins does Hashem pick up? The one who lets things go.

Secondly, Chazal tell us that whoever has compassion on Hashem’s creations, Hashem will also have compassion on him. There are many people who are undergoing a difficult time. Be there for them. Go out of your home and have compassion for others. That is how Hashem will have compassion on you.

Lastly, the Rabbeinu Yonah writes that some sins require pain in order to expiate the sin. However, says the Rabbeinu Yonah, there is a way to avoid this pain: tzedakah. Charity saves one from death. And if you don’t have any money, then speak well of a poor man and motivate others to help him. Help him fundraise.

And as it relates gemillus chasadim, we can help people by doing chesed. Speak to a person and give them some hope. These acts stop the yissurim, afflictions, from resulting.

Let’s take these three ideas to heart, and with that, we’ll be blessed with a tremendous year.

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