HA’RAV HENOCH PLOTNIK SHLITA – ON THE SITUATION IN ERETZ YISROEL OCTOBER 9 2023
The mishna in Pirkei Avos famously teaches us איזהו חכם הלומד מכל אדם, a truly wise person
is someone who learns from everyone. Sometimes it is a lesson that is taught in the literal
sense, and other times it is a matter of learning from what someone did or experienced. The
real חכם is on constant alert to learn and absorb lessons from everyone and everything.
In this week’s parsha we read about the encounter of Kayin and Hevel, as the pasuk says ויהי
בהיותם בשדה ויקם קין אל הבל אחיו ויהרגהו , Kayin murdered his brother Hevel after seeing
how his offering to Hashem was accepted, as opposed to his own. One would think that the
reaction of אדם הראשון to such a despicable and unprecedented act, the murder of his own
son, would cause אדם to completely disown Kayin from his life, or at least severely take him to
task for his senseless brutality. Yet, all we find in the Torah is the words ויצא קין מלפני השם,
Kayin "went out" from before Hashem. The Medrash comments, “Where did he go out from? He went out happy… he was met by אדם and was asked how his judgement turned out for his
terrible crime. Kayin answered I did teshuva and reached a compromise with Hashem,
עשיתיתשובה ונתפשרתי .
After hearing that, אדם tapped himself on his head in disbelief and said in amazement that he
had no idea that teshuva was so powerful ! (that it could even atone for such a despicable sin,
along with the idea that it was possible to achieve תשובה at all, for any aveiros such as his
own). It seems quite incredible that this is the only reaction the Torah records for posterity. Not
only is אדם giving his son's murderer the time of day and not completely dismissing him, but he
is actually seizing the opportunity to learn a positive lesson from his experience, and
internalizing the ability for one to do תשובה on just about anything, what became a lesson for
eternity. What are we supposed to take from this?
Rav Dovid Povarsky zt"l, as recorded in ישמרו דעת, a collection of his Chumash shiurim that he
delivered over the last few years of his life, tells us that this is precisely the message of Pirkei
Avos that we quoted at the outset, איזהו חכם הלומד מכל אדם. A growing and ambitious person
is always on the lookout for lessons to be learned in life, even from the most unlikely, or most
despicable places. This is the impression the Torah wants to leave us with, not Odom's personal
reaction and horror to what Kayin perpetrated, not the anger and sadness he must have felt
after losing his son at the hands of his other son, and not the revenge he may have been
compelled to take on Kayin. If there was a positive lesson to be learned in the ability to do
teshuva on an aveirah even as awful as fraternicide and to grow from that lesson, then that is
the order of the day. This is how the Torah wants us to react to tragedy.
In light of the horrific events of this past week, it would seem very challenging to take anything
away going forward that would impact us in a positive way. But such is apparently not the way
of the Torah. It was brought to my attention how the events of Simchas Torah echo the words of
the navi Zechariah that we read just one week previous, on the first day of Succos. The pesukim describe the dreadful days of מלחמת גוג ומגוג, the final battle before Moshiach's arrival, how
Jews will be taken captive and exiled, women will be abused, and homes will be destroyed and
plundered. Though we are not in the business of interpreting anything that happens in our time
without a Navi, great people such as Rav Chatzkel Levenstein zt"l would use tragedies such as
other ones alluded to in the Torah, to reinforce our Emunah, not to detract from it. He would cite
the Ramban that tells us how the two תוכחות in Parshas Bechukosai and Ki Savo are the
Torah's way of predicting the two churbanos of our Batei Mikdash, and he added that this alone
should be a great source of chizuk to our emunah, as all of those promises were sadly fulfilled.
One cannot help but feel the same in the difficult time we are experiencing.
When suicide bombings became de rigueur in the world of the Yishmaelim, Gedolei Torah
would point out that we can learn lessons, even from depraved barbarians such as them, as to
how people are willing to sacrifice everything including their lives as well as their children, for an
unwavering belief in an afterworld that is blissful and fulfilling, as sickening as their ideas of the
afterworld are. On our level, we too must be willing to make sacrifices of a very different sort,
with the absolute belief that a world that is כולו טוב awaits us.
Avrohom and Yitzchak taught us what true מסירות נפש is, and handed it down for future
generations as a legacy we treasure. That other descendants of Avraham have sadly taken their
version of מסירות נפש to such a degree, only shows us how much potential we possess to use
it for good.
It is not for nothing that Chazal spoke in such strong tones when they said that words of Torah
can only be acquired by one who is ממית עצמו עליה, literally, willing to kill himself over it. Of
course, that מסירות נפש is the epitome of the Will of Hashem, unlike the barbaric ממית עצמו
of the בני ישמעאל.To learn how to give up personal desires and indulgences for the sake
spiritual pursuits is not only commendable, but the formula taught to us by Chazal for achieving
true happiness and hatzlacha. In our world it means living a life where our focus is always
towards Olam Habah and not Olam Hazeh. Maybe a dose of such mesiras nefesh is in order.
It is worth pointing out what Rav Eliezer Shach zt"l quoted from his uncle Rav Isser Zalman
Meltzer zt"l , to explain why Shaul Hamelech was hesitant in finishing off Amalek by killing Agag
,the epitome of evil in the world and our eternal arch rival, and actually convinced himself he
was doing the right thing until Shmuel Hanavi took him to task, as he was told אל תהי צדיק
הרבה. Shaul did indeed have every intention to kill Agag and eradicate Amalek once and for all,
as per the mitzvah. However, he was concerned that such actions would turn him into an אכזר,
a vicious and callous personality. He wanted to first learn mussar and ensure that his motives
were pure and absolutely only a fulfillment of the will of Hashem. To that he was told that this is
not the time for mussar, actions take precedence. He needs not be concerned for his middos,
for Hashem would protect him from that, just as one who is mandated to punish an עיר הנדחת
is promised ונתן לך רחמים ורחמך, he will not lose his capacity for rachmanus since he is
carrying out Hashem's will.
This is our fear, even as we are commanded to kill, that we should not become brutes in the
process. How different we are than our Yishmaeli counterparts, about whom the אור החיים
writes based on a personal conversation he had with a Yishmaeli executioner, that every time
he kills he gets a bigger desire to kill some more. We cherish our middah of compassion, and in times like these we need to practice that middah more and more to counter balance the ru'ach
of brutality and אכזריות that is so prevalent in our world. During the Yom Kippur war, this was
Rav Shach's message to the world, as we were witnessing אכזריות of the highest degree, to be
mechazek in the middas hachesed more than ever. What would be have said today? But we
must do our part. Every little bit will go a long way in influencing and changing the poisonous
ru'ach that has become so pervasive in the cruel world that we are part of. Whether it means
reaching out to a friend in need, being mechazek someone who is down, or simply offering to
pick something up from the supermarket, any little act of kindness can change the world for
good, and for real.
May Hashem have rachmanus on אחינו כל בית ישראל wherever they are and may we merit
seeing ישועות ונחמות בקרוב.
RAV MOSHE WEINBERGER SHLITA – PLEASE, HASHEM LET THERE BE LIGHT REPRINTED FROM JEWISH HOME: OCTOBER 12/23
This past Monday night was the yahrtzeit of the great tzaddik, Reb Levi Yitzchok of
Berditchev, the defender, the advocate of the Jewish people. This pasuk in Bereshis describes
the horrible emptiness and darkness at the beginning of time, which is how we feel right now.
The Rebbe read the pasuk in the following way: “Va’yomer’ – A Jew has to say, not just to say,
but a Jew has to scream out, “Elokim! Please Hashem! “Ye’hi ohr! Let there be light! We can’t
go on with this darkness….
The Bereitchever said that when it’s “Tohu va’vohu, darkness and emptiness,’ a Jew has to
scream out, “”Ye’hi ohr!’ We’re begging You for light! We don’t know a way to see any light in
this situation. We only know, “B’orcha ner’eh ohr.” Only in Your light, do we see light. As the
Berditchever said, “Hashem promised in the beginning of time that when He hears Jews crying
and begging for light, then “Va’yehi ohr ,there will be light.” If we storm the heavens and we
scream and beg, then we can be zocheh to hear the words of “va’yehi ohr.”
But I know that what we’re feeling most-more than the misery, more than the memories,
especially those who are children or grandchildren of survivors…-there’s a terrible feeling of
helplessness. We want to do something.
When Moshe Rabbeinu left this world, he was able to extract from Hashem two good things:
“Shema Hashem kol Yehuda.” Moshe Rabbeinu said to Hashem before he left the world, “I’m
leaving. There are going to be hard times coming up. There is going to be a person coming forth
from Yehuda, Dovid Ha’Melech, and he’s going to leave our people with Sefer Tehillim. So,
I’m begging You (Hashem) listen to the voice of Yehuda.”
Hashem, listen to Jews wherever they are in the world, who are brokenhearted, who are
crying out with the words of Dovid Ha’Melech and Sefer Tehillim. Bring all of Your
children home! Bring all the boys, bring all the girls who are out there, Bring every single
Jew who’s out there in Gaza, in the north, wherever they are, bring them home!”
Moshe extracted this from Hashem Yisbarach. We will be victorious, and Hashem will help us.
That’s the first promise.
The second promise is Moshe said, “Dam avodov yikom’ He will avenge the blood of his
servants and bring vengeance onto His enemies and He will cleanse he land. The time of
reckoning is coming, and Hashem is going to clean Eretz Yisroel. Many of our children, our
brothers and sisters, are going to be in great danger, but the time has come for Hashem to
clean Eretz Yisroel. It will be cleansed of the filth of our enemies, and Hashem will avenge every
single drop of blood…
As it says in Tehillim, “He will extract judgement upon the nations, and He will pile up their
Ribbono Shel Olam, it’s Berishis now. We are crying out to you,”Yehi Ohr, give us light.”… We said this week” Chazak, chazak, v’neschazek.” Yoav said to the army of the Jewish
people, the army of Dovid HaMelech, “be strong, strengthen yourselves. For the sake of our
land and our people.”
This is leading to something bigger than we ever dreamt of. All of the fulfillments of the words of
the Neviim are gong to be seen by our eyes with the coming of the final redemption, speedily in
(Rav Moshe Weinberger said these words at the community wide evening of Tehillim and
Chizuk at Young Israel of Woodmere on Monday October 9 2023
RAV ASHER WEISS SHLITA – (AMI MAGAZINE OCTOBER 11 2023: ABOUT WAR IN GAZA)
This is a geziras shamayim, which we can never understand, but we need to believe and feel
that Hakdoesh Boruch Hu is with us in our pain and agony, and his love is always with us.
…We have the koach of tefilla. I told all of these young soldiers. “when you go out to combat,
you should always have a Tehillim or a siddur with you.” … We believe in the koach hatefillah,
and I told the young soldiers, “If you have five or three minutes, take out your Tehillim. One
perek or even one pasuk can make all the difference. It can be a lifesaver for you, for your
friends, for anyone.”
We need to believe in the koach hatefilah, and we need to daven in every shul in the world. In
my shul, we have been saying three perakim of Tehilim after each tefillah -20, 83, and 130.
Perakim 20 and 130 are a segulah for an eis tzarah in general, and 83 deals explicitly with
war and when klal Yisrael is at war with its enemies. I think these three perakim should be
said every day until this terrible war will be over.
Achuds, Torah and tefilah-that is our challenge. To feel the pain of other Yidden, to feel that we
are one and that ish es rei’eihu yaazoru vl’avhiv omar chazak. Daven more, daven better.
Learn more, learn better. And with siyata dishmaya we will merit that vatishkot haaetz v’ilo
yishama shod vashever.
Rabbi Eliezer Ginsburg – Koach of Tehillim in a Time of War. (FJJ OCTOBER 12 2023-TIMELY MESSAGE ON WAR IN GAZA)
The weapon which we inherited from our avos, as Yitzchok Aveinu said hakol kol Yaakov-is that
we have ability to have our voices heard in shomayim . My zaide, R’ Chatzkel Levenstein said
that since Yitzchok Avinu used the lashon hakol kol Yaakov, when klal Yisroel gets together like
we have gathered tonight to say Tehillim, the voice that Hakodesh Boruch Hu hears in
shomayim is the Kol of Yaakov. Our voice that we are going to use to say Tehillim comes up to
shomayim in front of the kisei hakavod and turns into the kol Yakov.
When the Klal Yisroel went out to fight milchemes Midyan the posuk says elef l’mateh – each
shevet sent a thousand, It says elef twice. The medrash tells us that a thousand went out to
battle and a thousand went out to daven. Each soldier had a partner. When the soldier went to
fight, his partner went to daven. The ability to daven is a koach which isn’t less than the
strongest invention of the bomb – that’s the koach of tefillah. When klal Yisroel gets together,
how powerful and successful the tefilah will be. What is needed for its success is the Emunah
that with our tefilos that we’ll daven tonight and in other areas in the world that are davening –
the pesukim of Tehillim we will say, has such strength and ability to protect, to watch over, to
hear, to bring success for what has to be done.
In the war it’s up to us to put in that heart and Emunah. That we are not less than the soldiers
that are going to actively in battle or to the pilots flying the jets, or those in the tanks. We’re not
less, we believe that Hashem is milchama, battle is b’yad Hashem. We have to believe
with the koach of tefilah that we have, we believe that we are going to accomplish – – we’re not
just getting together for nosei b’ol which is very important – -we are actively taking part in the
protection of Klal Yisroel in Eretz Yisroel – in essence eizehu chacham hareh es hanolad. We
must understand that this has an effect on all of us no matter where we find ourselves. No one
should think that we are protected, that we are from the battlefield, we are not far at all.
Therefore, how important it is that we put our hearts in our tefillos and have in mind first and
foremost the hostages, which Chazal say is worse than death, bring captured and in the hands
of Amalek. The wounded in the hospitals, the pain that they are going through. The families, that
are suffering from their losses. Hashem should give them chizuk. That’s all part of our tefilos,
and of course the success of whatever Hashem has planned out, hoping that with our tefilos it
will come quickly to a successful end. Our tefilos should unite with everyone else’s tefilos, and
go up to the kiseli hakavod and the kol of Yaakov Aveninu should be poel b’karavo the great
yeshua we are hoping for.
From Rav Yosef Chesny
Yaakov lived for 147 years. The Gra in משלי כ”ב ט says that 147 is Gematriah עין טוב, the trait of having a positive perspective on life. Yaakov, who lived 147 years, personifies this trait. This means that when he endured difficulties, he embraced them with the perspective that it was from his Loving Father and is thus for his ultimate good.
Traditionally, when we endure difficulties, we utilize Tehilim as our conduit of prayer. There is a fascinating Midrash that states that Dovid Hamelech composed Tehilim specifically with 147 chapters* )corresponding to the years that Yaakov Avinu lived. What is the connection between Tehilim and the Years of Yaakov Avinu?
The answer is, Tehilim gives us the perspective that all of our suffering is from Hashem and that it is for our ultimate good. This is the legacy of Yaakov Avinu. For this reason, Dovid Hamelech wrote Tehilim with specifically 147 Chapters.
*Although our Tehilim contains 150 chapters, the Gemara in Berachos ט teaches us that the first two chapters were originally one. (See the Mahrsha there as to why it was split.) According to this Midrash there are several other chapters that were originally combined.
From Rav Gershon Edelstein
During the recent fighting in Eretz Yisroel, Rav Edelstein encouraged the men to learn more Torah and also said the following:
“…And we need to do something else – to daven, tefillah, Tehillim. It’s a well-known fact that the Sefer Tehillim, pirkei Tehillim, if you recite it every day, it’s a source of enormous zechuyos. There are great people who say Tehillim every day – great people, Gedolei Torah mamash – a few perakim every day. It’s a tremendous zechus.”
From the Lubavitcher Rebbe
“The Previous Rebbe related; As a young child I debated whether angels knew the solutions to mathematical equations. After all, they know everything: perhaps they knew this too: I then asked my father, the Rebbe Rashab. My saintly father clarified it for me and went on to say that one thing is certain: The angel Michoel makes an accurate reckoning of all the chapters of Tehillim people recite, and with it he fashions a beautiful chandelier which serves to illuminate the heavenly realms as well as this world for the person and for all his future generations.
Although I was still young, my father would often ask me, ‘What’s doing with the chandelier?’” Sefer HaSichos 5709 p. 336
From Rabbi Ben-Zion Rand
In Tehillim, each person will find prayers and supplications for Hashem’s help in every kind of distress, and he can ask for all the things, large and small, needed for survival.
The author of Shnei Luchos HaBris (the She’loh HaKodesh ) writes: “Anyone whose soul desires to cleave to Hashem, let him cling to Sefer Tehillim.”
Dovid HaMelech davened that his Tehillim be recited in shuls and batei midrashim, for they contain everything. When one recites Tehillim, he is offering a tefilla and he is also studying Torah, in accordance with Dovid’s wish that anyone reciting Tehillim be considered as if he were studying the most difficult subject matter in the Talmud (and be rewarded accordingly).
The author of Chikrei Lev writes that whenever calamity would strike in his community, whether it was a personal tragedy or a common affliction, he would institute no special
prayer. Instead, Tehillim be recited many times with devout concentration, and then he would add the words: Dovid Ha’Melech, olov hashalom, will be my intercessor. He will be the mouth that speaks for me, and he will commend me to Aveinu Sha’Bashomayim to our Father in Heaven.”
SUMMER OF 2018
A mother was thinking of sending her son to camp for the summer of 2018. Her one concern was that her son was still bed wetting and she was very unsure as to whether or not she should send him to camp. From the fall of 2017 till June 2018, she was in constant touch with the Camp Mother.
The Camp Mother kept reassuring her throughout the year, not to worry as she takes full responsibility and she will change his sheets if need be.
Summer arrived and the boy came to camp. The Camp Mother was sure she would have to change this boy’s linen every day. Every morning, she goes into the bunks of the younger campers and feels the sheets. If they are wet, she changes them. Every morning, she went to this camper’s bed and checked the sheets and lo and behold, they were dry. Every day this repeated itself.
After the boy was in camp for 2 weeks, the Camp Mother again checked his linen and this time it was wet. She changed the linen.
As she was leaving the bunk house, her phone rang. It was this boy’s mother and her voice sounded distraught. “Was his bed wet, this morning, “ she asked.
“Yes”, answered the Camp Mother and truthfully I was surprised, ‘ she added. “It hasn’t been wet the whole summer.”
“I knew it would be wet this morning, “ answered the mother. “Every night before I go to sleep I say Tehillim that he shouldn’t wet his bed and this morning I realized I had gone to a wedding last night and I had forgotten to say Tehillim for him.”
Rav Michal Yehuda Lefkowitz and The Malachim
The Rosh Yeshiva’s son Rav Avraham Yitzchok relates that on Leil Shabbos several weeks before the Rosh Yeshiva’s passing, he called him over and said, “I hear someone reciting Tehillim for quite some time already.”
Puzzled, Rav Avraham Yitzchok answered, “I do not hear anything. Are you sure?”
The Rosh Yeshiva was insistent. “I hear the person reciting Tehillim with such sweetness. Come, let us recited Tehillim together as well.”
They sat for a half hour, reciting Tehillim together, word by word, until the Rosh Yeshiva said, he had no more energy. When they ended the Rosh Yeshiva said, ” I still hear that person reciting Tehillim.”
Rav Avraham Yitzchok remained mystified as to what his father may have been hearing until he chanced upon an account of a similar occurance in the life of the Chasam Sofer.
One Sukkos, the Chasam Sofer’s was sitting in the Sukkah with his talmidim. Suddendly he told them, that he heard people reciting Tehillim. His talmidim looked around, but did not find anyone reciting
Tehillim. The Chasam Sofer said, “If so, the Tehillim I must be hearing is being said by the Malachim.”
When Avrohom Yitzchok repeated this story to gedolim they agreed that this must be what his father had been hearing as well.
(taken from Insight, Foresight and Beyond)Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ
One day The Chazon Ish (Rabbi Avrohom Yeshaya Karelitz, 7 November 1878 – 24 October 1953) arrived in a town for a short visit. This occurred when he lived in Lithuania and except for a small group of people in the know; he was for the most part an unknown prodigy. He also dressed extremely modest and simple; he did not have a nice hat or suit and he was by nature a quiet and unassuming man. He arrived in the town Shul before Mincha as he was to meet the town rabbi after Maariv. He sat down at the table and seeing that there was another fifteen minutes until Mincha began, he opened up the Massechta Kiddushin which was already on the table. After about five minutes the Gabbai (sexton) of the Shul entered and began to arrange the benches and clean up before Mincha. He then noticed the Chazon Ish learning from the Gemara. Without any fanfare, he approached the Chazon Ish and removed the Gemara from his hands. As he did so he explained, “These Gemaras are for the members of a Shiur which meets between Mincha and Maariv and you are not a part of the Shiur.” He then placed a Sefer Tehillim in front of the Chazon Ish as he remarked somewhat dismissively, “Anyway, a Gemara is not for a person like you; a Tehillim is for a person such as yourself.” With that, the man left the Chazon Ish with the Tehillim and proceeded to clean up.
After Maariv the town Rav greeted the Chazon Ish warmly and announced to the 15 or so men in the Shul, “Beruchim HaBaim” (welcome) Rabbi Avrohom Yeshaya Karelitz; a great Talmid Chochom who is staying with us for the night. He is a great sage from Vilna.”
All of the men politely shook hands with the Chazon Ish and continued on their way; that is except for the Gabbai. In a very apologetic and submissive style, the Gabbai approached the learned Rav and stammered, “I am so sorry… I had no idea who you are…. Please forgive me…”
The Chazon Ish looked at the man and with complete sincerity said, “What is there to apologize for? You were correct on all fronts. First you mentioned to me that the Gemaras are for the attendees of the Shiur; I am not part of the Shiur and therefore you were correct in taking it from me. You then handed me a Tehillim and said, “Tehillim is for a person such as you”. Here too, you were right. I have been negligent in reciting Tehillim and you were on the mark in pointing it out to me. So there is nothing in the world to apologize for.”
The amazing part of the story is not just that it is true; it’s that the Chazon Ish was not being ‘nice’ to the person; he really and truly meant every single word he said to him!
“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel
Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ
FROM THE SEFER SHABBOS KODESH-WHY WE DON’ T SAY NAMES OF CHOLIM ON SHABBOS
Chapter 3: Shabbos is the Day We Can Find Hashem Why We Don’t Say Names of Cholim on Shabbos
On Shabbos we refrain from Davening for a sick person unless they are in dire need. Chazal state, “Shabbos is not a day for crying and the healing will arrive quickly… she Shabbos is capable of having compassion”, in other words, Shabbos itself will usher in compassion and heal our wounds and all our troubles. Why don’t we ask for Refuah or any material needs on Shabbos? Furthermore, how do we merit this specific Brocha on Shabbos?
Rav Shimshon Pincus zt”l answers this fundamental question with the following Mashal:
There was a successful fund raiser who would glean as much information as possible on a potential large donor’s past, family and interests before he approached the donor and when he meet the individual he would inquire about and discuss the person’s hometown, family, and other matters that were important to him. This fundraiser would first develop a relationship with a potential donor and only after he felt close with that individual would he discuss his yeshiva’s needs and in the end, he would receive a far greater check than he would have had if he simply asked for money.
THE GREATNESS OF SAYING TEHILLIM
In the Sefer “Chesed L’Avrohom” it is brought “that in the year 1352 c.e. there was a poor righteous man who only knew how to learn the basics. He became old and passed away at a ripe old age. Within the thirty days after his death, he appeared in a dream to an exceptionally learned man. It appeared to the leaned man that the poor man was standing in front of him in shrouds and was holding a small book. The learned man asked, “Aren’t you the one we buried on such and such a day?” The man answered, “You have spoken correctly, it is I”. The learned man said, “What is that book you are holding in your hand?” He answered, “The book of Tehillim. And I have come to warn you to warn th e people of my town where I lived that they should run away and save their lives. Because a tragedy will strike whoever stays in that town. While I was alive and I finished Sefer Tehillim every day for al thse years, that merit allowed the people to sojourn in peace and they were saved from tragedy until now. But from now on there is no one to guard them.”
And it was in the morning and the man shook with terror and he send a special messenger to that town with a letter warning the inhabitants. There were some people who listened to the words of the Chosid and ran for their lives and there were some who were not afraid of the punishment and they stayed in that town, until the hand of Hashem touched them (and they lost their lives.)
From that day forward, he completed Sefer Tehillim every week. Therefore say Tehillim constantly because the constant repetition of Sefer Tehillim will prevent many disasters and tragedies from coming upon us and members of our household, our families and all of our generations. The zchuses of the one who says Tehillim will bring bounty, heavenly mercy, blessings and success. Fortunate is the person who was worthy and causes other people to do good things.
THE POWER OF TEHILLIM
Ever since my children could first talk, my wife and I have made sure they say Kiryas Shema out loud each and every night. Many years ago we took on the habit of having the children say Tehillim for different people who needed help at the same time they said Krias Shema. Every once in a while, I’d be able to report to my children.
“This girl we davened for has recovered, this boy is better.”
Sometimes, unfortunately we had to let them know that “Hashem took back the Neshoma.”
I never knew for sure how to explain to my children that sometimes despite the strongest Tefilos for a person, that person had to die anyway. The best I could do was to explain that Hashem knows far better than us what is right and it is always our job to daven for a person no matter how hopeless it seems. This year I stumbled unto a startling other answer to the question as to why w must always say Tehillim for people no matter how hopeless the situation.
Someone complained to me about how the whole world said Tehillim for Rav Shlomo Zalman Urbach and the Tefillos did not seem to be answered.
“The whole world said Tehillim for Rav Shlomo Zalman Urbach this year, yet the day after we said Tehillim, so many Yidden went to his funeral. How do we handle the fact that so many men, women and children can say Tehillim for a man, and yet they were disappointed with the results?” he asked.
Good question, but you see, I am one of the few people who experienced the answer to this question first had.
I’m one of the few people who did not know the world was davening for Rav Shlomo Zalman ben Rivka, Rav Shlomo Zalman Urbach, on that particular Shabbos. I spent that same Shabbos in a hospital, desperately davening for another Shlomo Zalman be Rivka, Rav Shlomo Zalman Urbach, on that particular Shabbos. I spent that same Shabbos in a hospital, desperately davening for another Shlomo Zalman ben Rivka. The Shlomo Zalman ben Rifka I was davening for, was hit by a car in Boro Park and lay in Kings county Hospital fighting for his life.
In Shomaim that day, perhaps because of the Tehillim said by so many, it was decided that a Shlomo Zalman ben Rifka must live and recover, and so perhaps it was with that in mind, that my brother Shlomo Handler, otherwise known as Shlomo Zalman ben Rifka recovered so well, that he is back at work and getting better each and every day.
The world asked that Shlomo Zalman ben Rifka recover and although many did not know it, and that is exactly what they got!
Remember this lesson well! You many not know exactly how your Tehillim and Tefilos are being answered, but you must know, not one word is ever wasted. The cries of the Bnei Yisroel are never in vain.
THE POWER OF TEFILLA
By Rabbi B. Bamberger, Rav of Bais Medrash of Flatbush
How powerful is a prayer? It is beyond the capabilities of the human mind to grasp the sheer awesomeness of the strength of a tefilla. Were we to realize the impact that every letter of our tefillos has in the heavenly spheres, we would definitely invest more time and effort into our davening. Every letter of our tefillos has its own place in heaven . No tefilla, not one word or one letter is ever lost.
The Avos and Imahos-our forefathers and foremothers laid the very foundation for all of us to be great people who pray . They created for all time an open line of communication between Klal Yisroel and Hashem. We have only to follow in their footsteps to achieve great heights in our tefillos, and be worthy that they reach the Kisey HaKovod (throne of glory), without any impediments.
The power of one’s tefilla is directly related to one’s Kedushas HaPeh V’Taharas HaLev U’Machshova – the sanctity of one’s mouth and the purity of one’s heart and thought. One must concentrate on one’s tefillos with a purity of heart and thought and must utter the words with a sanctified mouth. If one’s mouth is used for inappropriate speech it cannot succeed in davening words that will move the heaven and earth. If ones heart and thoughts are clouded with information unacceptable to the Yiddishe neshama, it will not be a wellspring for proper tefillos. It is for this very reason that a Tzaddik’s tefilla seems to have much more of an impact than our own: it stems from a pure heart, pure thoughts, and is said with a pure mouth. We beseech Hashem, V’Taher LeBeinu L’Avdocha Be’Emes –please purify our hearts that we may serve YOU in truth. The word la’avodcha –to serve you refers to tefilla as it is written – Aizehu Ha’Avodah Sha’Belev? Zu Tefila. What is considered a work of the heart? Tefillah.
Yet even with the proper thoughts and Kedushas HaPeh – the holiness of one’s mouth, one’s tefilos are only guaranteed to be heard by Hashem. It is not promised that they will be answered in the manner in which we expect and wish, or in the time frame which we desire. One need only to took back into the Torah to see how many times the tefillos of Tzaddikim remained seemingly unanswered, and how many other tefillos were only answered after many years.
In relation to the world’s existence we all live through but a tiny speck of time. Can we really judge if our tefillos have been answered? The following moving story illustrates this point beautifully.
Many years ago in Yerushalayim we met a woman whom we shall call Rochel (not her real name). Rochel told us an amazing story, one which touches everyone who hears it. Rochel was raised in a totally assimilated family and was very distanced from her religion. One day a flippant remark made by a family member sent her on a search for her roots. This eventually led her to Israel and subsequently to Yiddishkeit.
When Rochel’s grandmother heard that she had become religious, she sent her a letter of encouragement and told her how proud she was to have a frum grandchild….”I know I should have remained religious, Rochel, but I just couldn’t, it was too hard. Enclosed you will find a letter from my father which he sent to me from Europe. You will find it interesting I am sure.”
The letter was written in Yiddish. Rochel took it to a Rav in her school to have it translated for her. It was an emotional and poignant letter “…I know that you are in America, my child, and there are many temptations, but I will daven every day that you will remain a good Jew, keeping the Mitzvos…”
Rochel’s voice cracked with emotion as she reached this part of her story. “Look what my great-grandfather’s tefiloh accomplished! After all these years, and against all the odds, I suddenly became religious. It has always been the furthest thing from my mind….” However, it was not the furthest thought from Hashem’s mind. Rochel’s grandfather’s prayers, her zeidie’s tefillos had been stored for many years, and until Rochel became religious it seemed as though the tefilos would remain unanswered. It was only that Hashem was waiting for the right moment.
This story should serve as a source of inspiration and consolation to all of us. We often daven for a particular person or for a change in a specific situation and we are left feeling that our tefillos have not been answered. We must have the belief and firm knowledge that our tefillos are never wasted and never unanswered.
It is a tremendous zchus (merit) for all of Klal Yisroel that so many women get together every week to recite Tehillim. Bnei Yisroel were redeemed from Mitzraim in the merit of noshim tzidkonious (righteous women). There is no doubt that the noshim tzidkonious of today who are reciting Tehillim in all four corners of the world, will speed us to the final geula (redemption) when Hashem will gather all of Klal Yisroel from all four corners of the world and bring us to Eretz Yisroel quickly in our time.
TEHILLIM THOUGHT FROM THE REBBE FROM TOSH
“There will come a time when you will pull out your hair and shed tears like a river because you didn’t listen to what I have to say.” So writes the Tosher Rebbe shlit”a.
It is only through the power of prayer, including the recitation of Tehillim, that we can be saved from our yetzer hara. By saying the holy mizmorim a person develops an intense connection with Hashem, and gains protection from the forces of evil in this world. With G-d’s help, we have adopted the custom to say all of the book of Tehillim together. What the tzaddikim have told us in the name of Eliyahu Hanavi about how great the tikkun that comes about from saying all of the Book of Tehillim is, is well known. There are those who don’t want to do this wholeheartedly and willingly. They don’t understand why I make so much noise about this. What can I say? All I can say to all my good students, young and old, is that there will come a time when you will pull out your hair and shed tears like a river because you didn’t listen to what I have to say about reciting Tehillim, especially on Shabbos, because when the Son of David will come he will be closest to those who developed familiarity with Sefer Tehillim.
I want to recount a story that highlights the power of Tehillim. In the year 1352, at the time that the Jews of Germany suffered great persecution, the village of Erfurt had been left untouched by our enemies. There was a poor Jew there, not learned but very pious. He died at a ripe old age. Thirty days after his passing, he came in a dream to a talmid chacham in Erfurt. He stood in front of the chacham wearing a shroud and holding a small book.
The chacham told the pious Jew, “Aren’t you the man we buried?”
“That’s right,” he said.
The chacham asked him, “What is that book you are holding?”
The poor man answered, “It is the Book of Tehillim. Warn the people of this town to escape. A terrible decree is about to befall them. They should escape to the village nearby. During my lifetime, for many years I would finish the book of Tehillim weekly. Through that z’chus the people of Erfurt lived in peace. But now there is no one to protect them.”
In the morning the chacham was startled awake by his dream, and sent a special messenger to warn the townspeople. The ones who took the warning seriously escaped and were saved. Those who stayed and didn’t heed the warning were killed.
From the day that my father heard this story, he made sure to say Sefer Tehillim seven days a week. Whoever reads Tehillim protects himself and those around him from disaster for many generations, and spreads an aura of bliss.
FROM RAV SHIMSHON PINKUS ZT”L:
Many women might say, ‘oh if I could say tehillim like the rebbetzin. If I understood it, I f I had the right kavana, I would say, it but because I don’t understand it, I don’t have the right kavana, I wont say it or say so much.’
He says, “just say it” start and keep going. he says, we don’t have to understand it, we don’t have to have the right kavana, just start because Dovid hamelech comes after we start and he finished it for us. And it says about Dovid hamelech, ‘lev kol adom bo’ he has the heart of every jew in him. he experienced everything and anything a yid can experience, so he understands us. He knows if we are saying tehillim for joy or from tzaar. Dovid HaMelech takes our tehillim straight to the kisah hakovod.
THE IMPORTANCE OF GIVING TZEDAKA BEFORE SAYING TEHILLIM ( OR BEFORE DAVENING)
“The Gemmarah in Bava Basrah states that R’ Elazar used to give a perutah and then he would daven. The Kav Hayashar writes that the relationship between tzedakah and teffilah, is the relationship between seasoning and food. Just as spices and seasonings bring out the real flavor locked in the food, so does tzedakah bring out the tremendous power locked inside a teffilah. The Meiri adds that the tzedakah one gives before davening help serve as an advocate to the Abishter on behalf of the mispaleil. And this prepares the way for the Abishter to accept one’s teffilois favorably. R’ Meir of Premishlan used to say that if one were to squeeze the true intent of every Jewish prayer, he would find that each one contained an overwhelming desire for money. However he would also say, that if one were to squeeze out all Jewish gelt in order to extract the real reason yidden want that money, he would discover that a Yid wants money to give tzedakah and do chessed. For that reason we give tzedakah before we daven. To tell the Abishter “it’s true, I am davening for money, but what I really want the money for is to do chessed.” May we all be zoiche to have out teffilois be niskabail, very quickly, and may we only hear of simchas among Klal Yisroel. Besurois Toivois.”
Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi
“In times of darkness and distress, verses of Tehillim are a light to our souls. They are an antidote to discouragement and despair. They console and give hope. They raise our sights. Throughout the ages when our ancestors faced challenges, whether relatively minor ones or serious life-threatening challenges, the holy verses have been a source of encouragement and support. They have provided inner strength in the past, and continue to do so in the present.
“Tehillim is the ul…timate work that connects us experientially with our loving Father and All-powerful King, Creator and Sustainer of the universe. We connect with our loving Eternal Father with our profound appreciation for all of His many kindnesses to us personally and to the entire world.
“In Tehillim we express many diverse needs: Needs for healing, for being saved from harm, for release from deep emotional pain and distress, and also the need to enrich our positive experiences by realizing that they are gifts from the Source of all Kindness. Thanking Him for those gifts exponentially multiplies the value of those gifts. They are no longer material and temporal. They become spiritual assets that nourish our eternal soul.
“There are times in life when a person feels that ‘nothing can be done’ to change a dire situation. But there is always something that we can do: we can connect with our Father and King in heartfelt prayer. We can pray in our own words after we repeat the sublime, uplifting words that were Divinely inspired and sanctified in Tehillim. Reciting Psalms elevates us and opens our hearts. The personal prayers we say afterwards follow our greater awareness of our connection with the One Who can answer our prayers.”
RABBI YY JACOBSON
One of the most oft-recited chapters in Tehillim is that of “Shiur Ha’Maalos Mi’mamakim-A song of ascents. From the depths have I called…”(130:1). While this chapter of Tehillim to be healed from their sickness or alike, one specific verse therein peculiarity stands out. “For with You is forgiveness, that You may be feared” (130:4). How does this make sense? Generally, when you forgive someone, it increases their love for you, not fear of you. The teacher who is easygoing and quick to forget and forgive typically evokes love from the students, whereas the strict, militant disciplinarian engenders fear. Why then does the Pasuk here state that Hashem’s forgiveness is done so that we fear him?
The Baal HaTanya offers an especially enlightening explanation, which can be understood with the following example.
It is 2006 and the real estate market is doing quite well. Deciding it is time to make it big financially, you take out a loan for $50 million and begin building condominiums in Manhatten, expecting to make around $70 million in return in a couple years’ time.
But then 2008 arrives and the market devastatingly crashes. No one is interested in buying such largely expensive property, and you are left with tons of apartment complexes under your name and an outrageous loan needing to be repaid next month. The catastrophe can get now worse than it already is. The manager of the bank schedules an appointment with you for next Wednesday, and all you can do is shiver with fear. When you finally walk in, he says, “It doesn’t make a difference what happened; we must be repaid every cent with interest. Your first payment is due next Tuesday when we will be expecting $5.4 million. The same is true for every single upcoming month.”
You look at the bank manager and do nothing more than laugh. Turning aside, you call your wife and say, “this manager is off his rocker. Don’t even begin to worry because there is nothing we can do.” The next few days go by and you still don’t begin worrying. The expectations to repay such large amounts are literally impossible and so beyond any semblance of reality. You know that even if they summon you to court, you will fight to push it off for twenty years, and by then, the bank or bank manager will be long gone.
But what happens if you walk into the bank and the bank manager looks at you and says, “I am so sorry; we all have to bite the bullet. I know you were wiped out, and so were we. Let’s make this work. Firstly, I will release you of the interest you owe. Secondly, I will cut you 30% of the entire loan. Now tell me what you can do. Let’s work together.”
If this is how the bank manager approaches yout, then you need to start worrying. You call your wife and say, “I have to pay back the loan. The manager is a fine fellow and he wants to work with me. I can’t just run away.”
This is the meaning of the above Pasuk, explains the Baal Ha’Tanya. “For with You is forgiveness…” Hashem knows that we are human and have our share of failures and foibles. He knows very well that we are going to make bad deals and ecisions decisions. But HE wants us to amend and correct those errors. He therefore comes to us and says, “I love you and cherish you, t want you to be successful and happy. Let’s make this work. I forgive you, and know you can do better.”
When this is how Hashem approaches us, then we have much to fear, as the verse concludes. We cannot escape, but must take stock of our lives and engage in serious self-introspection and thought. Hashem powers us with accountability and we then feel responsibility. There is forgiveness, but with it comes fear. And that is because we know that change and improvement is not impossible. G-d wants us to return and helps us to do so. And when the door is wide open, we would only be wise to enter.
DOVID HA’MELECH AND TEHILLIM
by Rav Elimelech Biderman. shavous 5770
The Kaf HaChaim writes, “It is ideal to learn (say) Tehillim on Shavous because Dovid Ha’Melech was niftar on this day, as stated in the Yerushalmi)… Tehillim that one recites on this day will be answered.”
The Ben Is Chai writes (Bamidbar 6), “It is important to learn Tehillim on Shavous, because Dovid Ha’Melech a’h was niftar this day,and the Tehillim will be more accepted din heaven. Therefore, everyone should recite the entire Tehillim on Shavous.”
Chazal tell us that tzaddikim are niftar on the date they were born. Thus, Dovid was born on Shavous Some say that this is the reason we read Rus on Shavous. The final pasuk is “V’Ishai holid es Dovid” Yishai begot Dovid. We want to read this pasuk on Shavuos, on the day Dovid was born.
BINDING TORAH WITH TEFILLAH
DOVID’s essence is tefillah, as he says about himself (Tehillim 109:4) V’ani Tefillah” “I am tefillah.” Furthermore, the Gemara (Brachos 7) says, Why was her name Rus? It is because Dovid is her descendant and Dovid pleased Hakodesh Baruch Hu with songs and praises.
So Dovid is tefillah, and he was both born and niftar on Shavous, which is about Torah. The Chidushei HaRim zt’l explains that this demonstrates the close bond between Torah and tefiah. And it teaches us that to acquire the crown of Torah one needs tefilah.
Once, the Beis Ahron of Karlin zt’l said to his chassidim who came to him from Poland, “The Polish Yidden love to learn Torah. We also love learning Torah. Only we say “Learning Torah needs tefillah” (Megillah 28) One can’t succeed in Torah without tefillah and one won’t succeed in tefillah without Torah. Torah and tefillah are bound to each other.”