Acharei Mos/Kedoshim – Can Fear of Heaven be Measured?

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This dvar Torah is based on part of a shmuz given by Rav Moshe Chait zt”l, who was Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim Yerushalayim, zechus yagen aleinu.

When speaking in terms of Fear of Heaven, Yiras Shamayim, if a person is a real Yirei Shamayim he will do a mitzvah at the highest level he can reach.

There is a story of a new yeshiva student in Slobodka who was entrenched in his frumkeit, and would daven very loud in a minyan. The Alter of Slobodka, Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, asked one of his students to pass by this yeshiva bachur’s room one time when he was davening alone to see if he davens very loudly alone too.

There is an expression in the world called Yiras Shamayim, people are called “Big Yirei Shamayim” but what kind of instrument is used to measure Fear of Heaven?
This week is the double Torah portions of Achrei Mos and Kedoshim in the portion of Kedoshim in one of the pesukim it says, “You shall not curse a deaf person. You shall not place a stumbling block before a blind person, and you shall fear your G-D. I am Hashem” (Vayikra 19:14).
Rashi
on this pasuk writes, “and you shall fear your God: [Why is this mentioned here?] Because this matter [of misadvising someone] is not discernible by people, whether this person had good or evil intentions, and he can avoid [being recriminated by his victim afterwards] by saying, “I meant well!” Therefore, concerning this, it says, “and you shall fear your God,” Who knows your thoughts! Likewise, concerning anything known to the one who does it, but to which no one else is privy, Scripture says, “and you shall fear your God.” – [Torath Kohanim 19:34]”
Rashi explains that this person is not literally blind, but, for example, he does not know how to conduct his business affairs properly. So one should not give him bad advice, such as if  someone were to ask if he should sell his field and his friend says I’ll buy it for a donkey. The friend’s intent was only for his own gain, to acquire the land.

About this kind of thing the Torah says: “And you shall fear Hashem your G-D.” These kind of cases could turn out badly and someone will lose, but the person who gave the advice will say ‘It is not my fault, I only tried to help, I am your friend,’ when in fact he purposefully thwarted his plans. No one will ever know what his real intentions were. That is why it says “and you shall fear Hashem your G-D;” for He knows.

Later in the perek it says, “Before an elder you shall stand and you shall glorify the face of a sage, and you shall fear your G-D, I am Hashem” (Vayikra 19:32). 

Rashi
on this pasuk points out, “one might think that he may close his eyes [when the elder approaches], as if he did not see him [and thus evade the obligation to rise before him]! Therefore Scripture adds here, “and you shall fear your God,” for this matter is privately known to the one who commits it, and no one knows about it except the person himself, and, concerning any matter known only in the heart [of one person,], Scripture says, “and you shall fear your God,” [for God knows man’s thoughts]. — [Torath Kohanim 19:80; Kid. 31b, 32b]”
What are a person’s real intentions? When an old person or a sage walks by he looks away and claims he never saw him, but what was he really thinking? Fear of Heaven is purely a private experience between man and Hashem so no one can really claim this guy is a big Yirei Shamayim. Only Hashem knows and any one that tries to judge is acting like they are G-D.

The Alter of Slobodka said that Yiras Shamayim is pure ruchniyus, unadulterated spirituality, and one cannot measure pure ruchniyus.

Passover – Giving of Yourself vs. Emulating Hashem

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This dvar Torah is part of a shmuz I heard from Rav Moshe Chait zt”l, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim Yerushalayim at around the beginning of the century.


Equivalent to the seventh day of Passover, by the splitting of the Red Sea, Klal Yisrael reached what is essentially the highest point of Holiness. They sang Shira [songs] to Hashem while crossing on dry land. In the Shira it says, “ זֶ֤ה אֵלִי֙ וְאַנְוֵ֔הוּ” which literally means, “This is my G-D and I will build Him a Sanctuary,” or “I will make myself into a G-dly sanctuary” (Shemos 15:2). This is the loftiest expression because they pointed and said “This is my G-D”. They had such a high level of emuna, belief in Hashem, that they were able to point at something. People recognize things with their senses, and the most realistic sense is sight, as they say, “seeing is believing.” The level they were on was above that because of their emuna [belief in Hashem].

What does אַנְוֵ֔הוּ refer to? The Gemara in Shabbos 133b goes through a list of mitzvos and says it comes from the word, נאה, to beautify the mitzvos. The gemara then quotes Abba Shaul who says they felt that they had to be comparable to Hashem, meaning they wanted to act like Hashem, just like a child wants to act like his parents, אני והוא.

The first view holds there is a level of a person who is putting a part of himself into doing a mitzvah. Abba Shaul is saying you should want to be just like Hashem which is a higher level.

The way Avraham found Hashem was not from a physical understanding of the world, but he saw the kindness that Hashem did in creating the world. Kindness is spiritual. This is how he came to recognize Hashem!

The truest love is trying to emulate someone else!

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Beshalach – Chesed: Natural Kindness

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This dvar Torah is taken from the notes I took about 18 years ago of Rav Moshe Chait zt”l’s Shmuz in Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim Yerushalayim

 
We find in this week’s Torah portion of Beshalach The Song the Jew’s sang at the sea. One of the stanzas says: “You stretched forth Your right hand and the earth swallowed them up” (Shemos 12:15).
The Yalkut Shimone says that Hashem required the land to swallow up the Egyptians as a burial. What was their merit to be buried? It was because they said “Hashem is the righteous”. They declared it almost by force, but still it is a tremendous merit that outweighed all the evil they did. Despite all their evil, they admitted they were wrong, so Hashem gave them a burial. This is hinted to in the words: “You stretched forth your right hand;” the right stands for chesed, kindness.
The pasuk “You stretched out Your right hand“ also hints that they were thrown out of the sea onto dry land, and then the dry land threw them back into the sea because it didn’t want to bury these evil people. What was the claim of the sea and dry land to not bury the Egyptians? Their claim was that just as the earth had to receive the blood of Hevel, after Kayin killed him, which looked like a cover up, which is why the Torah says the land shall be cursed, then all the more so, they claimed, if we bury all the Egyptians who died, the land will be cursed! They wouldn’t bury the Egyptians until Hashem “stretched out His Right hand,” which is a sign of an oath that he wouldn’t curse them.
Hashem said to the sea: ”You now have an obligation to perform your duty which is the kindness to bury the Egyptians.” But why did the dry land not want to do its normal duty which is a moral Chesed? Because it had its justifications and Hashem had to assure the land under the sea that they weren’t doing wrong by serving the wicked.

By Yaakov it says he ‘took a bunch of stones to rest his head on,’ and then it says he ‘took one stone.’ Chaza”l says all the stones wanted to be a pillow for Yaakov, so they became one.
The Mesilas Yesharim in the first chapter says there is a reason for all aspects of creation and the ultimate purpose of creation is to serve man, who is the purpose of creation.
The magnetism of rocks is to serve mankind. Can you imagine what a merit it is to have Yaakov Avinu lay on the rock? Not one rock had any more merit than the other rock, so they had, one might say, a magnetic spirituality to serve Yaakov!

This is a new definition of Chesed, because people think kindness is usually for people that deserve it. However Chaza”l say “The world with kindness was built.” That does not mean Hashem created the world with acts of kindness, but rather the whole identity of creatures were implanted with kindness. Not just man was created with one of his attributes to do kindness, but the whole essence of man is kindness. It is part an parcel of his nature, as well as the nature of all creation. That is why the evil Egyptians had a right to be buried, because of the remark they made, that Hashem is the Righteous. This triggered kindness to bury them.

An example of kindness to the highest degree is Avraham Avinu. Immediately after circumcising himself, he welcomed and served 3 “Arab idol worshippers.”
Doing a chesed for a close relative isn’t a big deal; it is expected. But still Chaz”al say Hashem said to Avraham you can wear My Garments of Chesed only after he buried his wife because at that instant he showed he did kindness out of love more than any other time which generated even more kindness.
Every one of us has an obligation to emulate Hashem, which is why we should do chesed. A person should have feelings that you need to help another, this kindness comes immediately when you see an opportunity coming your way. One should not have the attitude that the other needs to be helped which comes when you see a friend giving you signs that he wants something done for him.

Acts of chesed are everywhere don’t miss out on the opportunity!
Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Dovid Shmuel Milder