The Weekly Shtikle Blog

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Friday, October 27

The Weekly Shtikle - Noach

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my dear Zadie and Bubbie, HaRav Chaim Yaakov ben Yitzchak and Yehudis bas Reuven Pinchas.

    The first pasuk of this week's parsha declares Noach a "ish tzaddik tamim," a man of complete righteousness. Later on, however, when HaShem is speaking with Noach, (7:1) He says to him "for I have seen you as righteous before me..." The word "tamim" is left out. Rashi teaches us from this discrepency that one should only give partial praise of an individual in his presence. His complete praise may only be expressed when he is not present.
    R' Chaim Kunyevsky makes a simple, yet important clarification of this concept. One should not mistakenly understand this to mean that half the praise should be given in the presence of the praisee. If this were the case, the praisee need only multiply the praise by two to know what people really think of him. This would be the antithesis of what this practice is meant to accomplish. Rather, the term "miktzas," partial, refers to any fraction. Therefore, when one hears his own praise he is not completely sure what to make of it. It could indeed be half of his praise in which case the full praise would be double. However, the praiser might very well be giving 99% of the man's praise. And so, he is unsure.
    On that note, it occurred to me that Noach, although it is said that he learned Torah, never saw the finished product. Whatever is written in the Torah about him was without his knowledge. Moshe Rabbeinu, however, wrote the entire Torah. Anything that is written about him (perhaps with the exception of the last eight pesukim - certainly not a discussion for now) was with his full awareness. Therefore, we must conclude that even the great praise of Moshe Rabbeinu that we find in the Torah is only a portion of the praise he is due.
Have a good Shabbos
Eliezer Bulka

Friday, October 20

The Weekly Shtikle - Bereishis

Today is the fifth Yahrtzeit of my dear friend, Daniel Scarowsky, o"h. This week's shtikle is dedicated leiluy nishmaso, Daniel Moshe Eliyahu ben Yitzchak.

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my dear Zadie and Bubbie, HaRav Chaim Yaakov ben Yitzchak and Yehudis bas Reuven Pinchas.

    A number of times throughout the gemara and in later seforim as well, we find the term, "tavo alav berachah," a blessing shall be bestowed on him, with regards to a chumrah. The gemara will often say that a certain action is not necessary but if one takes on a special stringency and does it anyway, he should be blessed.
    My father suggests an interesting source and explanation for this particular wording. After all, we do sometimes see other terms used such as "harei zeh meshubach," this is praiseworthy, with regards to noble deeds. Why is the adoption of a chumrah given this specific blessing? Very early on in history, in this week's parsha, we are exposed to the first ever chumrah. Chavah, in her discussion with the snake, mentions that they were forbidden to eat from or touch the Eitz HaDa'as. Of course, they were only commanded not to eat from it and nothing was said about touching it. This error in judgement is used by the gemara as a source for the gravity of the prohibition of "bal tosif," not adding to the mitzvos. Indeed, this chumrah led to a serious curse on all of humanity - certainly not a great start.
    Chavah's assertion lacked the proper context. She did not tell the snake, "You know HaShem told us not to eat from this tree but we are trying to be extra careful and we are not even touching the tree." Rather, she quite falsely declared that HaShem had commanded them not to touch the tree. When someone is aware of the halachah and aware that certain things might be permissible but nevertheless takes it upon themselves to be extra careful, to be more stringent, they are correcting the error made by Chavah. For this reason, we declare that in contrast to the curse that was bestowed upon Chavah, one who takes upon himself an altruistic chumrah should be bestowed a great blessing.
Have a good Shabbos and Chodesh Tov
Eliezer Bulka

Friday, October 13

The Weekly Shtikle - Shemini Atzeres / Simchas Torah

This past Tuesday was the first Yahrtzeit of HaRav Naftali Neuberger, zt"l of Ner Yisroel. This shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Naftali ben Meir.

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my dear Zadie and Bubbie, HaRav Chaim Yaakov ben Yitzchak and Yehudis bas Reuven Pinchas.
    In every other Yom Tov, the parsha next in line is not read. Rather, a section of the Torah which is connected to the Yom Tov is read. On Pesach we read about Yetzias Mitzrayim. On Shavuos we read about Matan Torah. Simchas Torah, however, seems at first glance not to follow suit. We read V'zos HaBracha, the next and last parsha in line. Why is Simchas Torah different?

    The answer is, of course, that Simchas Torah is not different. V'zos HaBracha has its connections to Simchas Torah as well. In fact, we find in the gemara Megilla 31a that even when the Torah was read in a three year cycle, V'zos HaBracha was still read on the last day of Yom Tov. Abudarham writes that the reason why V'zos HaBracha is read on Simchas Torah is because that was the time that Shlomo HaMelech would bless the nation as seen in Melachim I 8:14. Therefore, we read V'zos HaBracha which includes Moshe's blessing of the tribes before his passing. Meshech Chachma offers a different answer. The time of Shmini Atzeres is a special time for B'nei Yisroel. Over Succos we bring 70 korbanos corresponding to the 70 nations. Succos holds some significance for the other nations. But Shmini Atzeres symbolizes HaShem's special love for B'nei Yisroel, asking them to stay behind for just one more day as it were (see Rashi Vayikra 23:36). So it is on this day that we read of HaShem's giving the Torah to Bnei Yisroel. The pesukim at the beginning of the parsha (33:2) "vezorach mi'Seir lamo, hofia meihar Paran", according to Rashi, refer to HaShem's offering of the Torah to the other nations and they did not accept it. Just as Shmini Atzeres symbolizes our separation from all other nations, so too, the beginning of V'zos HaBracha illustrates how we differ from all other nations.

Have a good Shabbos and good Yom Tov.

Wednesday, October 4

The Weekly Shtikle - Sukkos

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my dear Zadie and Bubbie, HaRav Chaim Yaakov ben Yitzchak and Yehudis bas Reuven Pinchas.
    As we lead into the holy month of Tishrei with the month of Elul, we recite the chapter from Tehillim (27), "L'Dovid," twice daily. We continue this practice through Sukkos. There are various explanations given for this practice. One of the correlations between this chapter of Tehillim and the days of Elul and Tishrei is the reference to a sukkah in verse 5: "For in the day of trouble He will hide me in his sukkah: In the covert of his tent will he Hide me; He will lift me up upon a rock." Surely, there is something deeper than the mere mention of a sukkah.
    This pasuk seems to refer to two distinct types of protection. If, in the face of danger, one is lifted up upon a rock, they are removed from scene of the danger. They may appear exposed, but they are out of reach and out of harm's way. Being protected by an enclosure, however, is not the same. One is still technically in the line of fire. But they are protected from attack and are sheltered by the walls of the fortress.
    The holidays in Tishrei reflect these two forms of protection. From Rosh HaShanah to Yom Kippur, we are raised to a higher level. Through the intense tefillah and teshuvah of the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah, we are elevated to new heights. We are no longer in the realm of mere mortals. We are promoted to the level of angels. HaShem, so to speak, protects us from the rest of the world by bringing us to another world.
    Unfortunately, this experience cannot last forever. We must grow from it and take with us what we can. As we come back to our this-worldly existence, we are given seven days of the second level of protection. Sukkos symbolizes our slow return to real life,. We are once again in the midst of the world around us. Indeed, we bring 70 sacrifices over Sukkos symbolizing the 70 nations. But only we are given the sukkah in which to dwell and be sheltered from outside forces. Eventually, we have to leave the shelter of the sukkah and return to our homes. Indeed, this pasuk speaks significantly of  our special experiences in the month of Tishrei.
Have a good shabbos and chag samei'ach!
Eliezer Bulka