1. This Shabbos, being the first day of the month of Iyar, also has a close connection to the previous month of Nissan.

Today is, after all, the second day of Rosh Chodesh Iyar and since the first half of Rosh Chodesh is still in the month of Nissan it follows that today — the second day of Rosh Chodesh — still has some connection to Nissan.

This year the first day of Iyar falls on Shabbos, which means that all the days of preparation for the Shabbos were in the month of Nissan. Even Friday, the main preparatory day for the Shabbos was also the last day of Nissan.

Being the second month of the year indicates that Iyar has some sequential association with the first month. This is expressed by the theme of Pesach Sheni as well as the esoteric advancement from the Divine service of Nissan to the Divine service of Iyar as Chassidus explains it (see Likkutei Torah, Bamidbar 3:1).

Thus we see there is a clear connection and continuity between Nissan and the first day of Iyar.

It follows, then, that today is a fitting time to make an accounting and balance sheet of the accomplishments of the month of Nissan; to evaluate the spiritual advancements and to gauge the projected work of the coming months. Hopefully this will lead to increased activity and action in the future.

Shabbos enhances this reckoning potential of the first of Iyar. For the Gemara says:

Does then the Shabbos affect the additional service (Mussaf) and not affect the Minchah service. (Just as it invests the former with greater sanctity, so it invests the latter too, because they both occur on Shabbos.) (Zevachim 91a)

This means that even normal daily observances (corresponding to the daily Tamid sacrifices) become “Shabbos — irradiated” when done on Shabbos. Thus, when the Nissan month retrospective takes place on a Shabbos, it has the extra quality of Shabbos imprinted on all the results.

In addition, Shabbos will “affect” the reckoning directly, since Shabbos normally tends to influence and affect the days that have passed, as it says:

And the heavens and the earth...were completed. (Bereishis 2:1)

Shabbos confers perfection to the past. What is the superior quality of Shabbos? That when Shabbos comes all your work is completed. Therefore your Divine service — your ritual “work” on Shabbos is only in degrees of delight. “You call the Shabbos ‘a delight’“ (Yeshayahu 58:13). Thus, calling is a form of empowering. The Jew must call out and bring down the state of “delight,” as the Gemara explains that a Jew has the power to “delight (in) the Shabbos” in a sense he introduces and intensifies delight in Shabbos. And although the delight is bestowed from above, as it says, “The Shabbos has already been sanctified and so continues” (Beitzah 17a), nevertheless, since G‑d longs for our activity, here too the individual has the potential to increase and intensify the Shabbos delight even beyond its heaven-ordained sanctity.

In a sense, the sanctity bestowed from above causes the delight below, while the delight introduced by man below causes the true Divine delight above.

Relating this to the account-taking of Nissan on the first of Iyar, we can understand that it will be done with joy and delight and in the fullest measure.

Now how will the reckoning of Nissan relate to the month of Iyar?

The theme of Nissan is liberation. Not just freedom, but miraculous liberation — and in the name of the month — Nissan — we see the indication of miracle of miracles. The double letter Nun indicates double miracles (cf. Berachos 57a). This state of double miracles begins on the first day of Nissan, when the second day of Nissan arrives, it stands to reason, that the level of miracles also increases. Projecting this concept to the 30th of the month we must agree that the loftiest state of miracle of miracles is attained on that day.

Consequently, it is this lofty level of miracles which we can utilize in the month of Iyar in our Divine service to G‑d.

Practically speaking.

When a Jew contemplates on this continuously increasing state of miracles during the month of Nissan, he may become complacent and imagine that supernatural condition to be the ultimate goal; a life of miraculous occurrences, above and beyond the real world.

Comes the month of Iyar to remind him that the loftiness must be drawn down to the reality of the mundane world — we do not live in a world of miracles all year round!

G‑d’s goal for the world is to create a lowly physical existence and then find a dwelling place for the Shechinah in the lowest place — the subsequent indwelling causes the elevation of the mundane world, as well as all the higher spiritual worlds.

Thus, action in the corporeal world is the ultimate purpose of the universe. It effects redemption in the reality of the world. Let the physical corporeality reveal G‑dliness and declare:

There is no one besides Him! (Devarim 4:35)

There is no independent reality to the world other than G‑d’s creative force!

And so, each and every one should utilize all the lofty powers of Nissan to increase his worldly involvement for religious purposes, by spreading Yiddishkeit, Torah and mitzvos, and disseminating the fountains of Chassidus to the farthest “outside.” When a Jew realizes the potential he will not seek a way out.

If one is deeply involved in other aspects of holiness and cannot see the vital importance of this mundane approach let him know that there is a deep intellectual discussion of the logical validity of this approach and he should proceed to study it.

But for the moment, until he reaches the clear wisdom, understanding and knowledge in this area, he should start carrying out the directives of spreading Torah and the wellsprings to the outside. He should rely on the logic of the Chassidic masters and then after doing his job he will then find the opportunity to sit down and thoroughly study the philosophy of his deeds.

The concurrence of the conclusion of Nissan, with its lofty powers, and the beginning of Iyar on Shabbos, which introduces the aspect of delight, presents us and bestows upon us the power to increase our outreach work of spreading Torah and mitzvos and it therefore behooves us to utilize these opportunities and potentials.

There is an additional theme in the month of Iyar which will enhance these powers even moreso.

The word Iyar forms an acrostic from the initial letters of the words: “I am G‑d Who heals you” (Aleph, Yud, Yud, Reish). G‑d’s healing, of course, takes the form of not allowing the sickness to strike, as the verse states:

I will not strike you with any of the sicknesses that I brought on Egypt. I am G‑d Who heals you.... (Shmos 15:26)

Coming from Pesach, when we ate the matzah of “faith and healing,” this aspect of Iyar is also enhanced. The point is that the month of Iyar does not leave room for any problems to arise which might interfere or create a roadblock to the Divine service of spreading Torah and mitzvos.

Iyar is also unique because the mitzvah of counting the Omer gives each day a special quality.

May G‑d grant that by our acceptance of these good resolutions to do these good actions, we will immediately merit the reward — which is our ultimate goal — the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach. And although for some reason Mashiach did not come during Nissan he can come instantly on the second day of Rosh Chodesh, which is still connected to Nissan. So that for the coming holiday of Shavuos we will all go on the pilgrimage to Yerushalayim.

Actually, we will not have to wait for Shavuos for as we said in this morning’s Haftorah:

And from one New Moon to another and from one Shabbos to another, all mankind will come to worship before Me, says G‑d. (Yeshayahu 66:24)

The Yalkut Shimoni elaborates:

In this world you went on the pilgrimage to Yerushalayim three times a year, when the end of time will come you will go up for the pilgrimage every new month.... How will they come every Shabbos and every New Moon from the end of the world? The clouds will carry them to Yerushalayim as it is written “Who are these that fly as a cloud.” (Yeshayahu 60:8)

The redemption, too, will come speedily “on the clouds of heaven.” So may it be for us, quickly and truly in our days.

2. Being the first day of Iyar this Shabbos is also the eve of the second of Iyar, the birthday of the Rebbe Maharash.

Every Nasi of the Jewish people, just like every king of Israel, fits into the category of those who are called the “heart of the Jewish people,” as the Rambam says:

For his heart is the heart of the whole congregation of Israel. (Laws of Kings 3:6)

The Nasi thereby symbolized the essence of his generation and the future generations. As such, the lesson we garner from the Nasi’s customs and his way of Divine service must serve as a guide for all the Jewish people. This will be especially true for those aspects of the life of the Rebbe Maharash which the previous Rebbe stressed and taught us to emulate.

The day of his birth, the second of Iyar, falls on the 17th day of the Omer, which corresponds to the attribute of “Beauty in Beauty.” The Previous Rebbe retold the story that when the Maharash was seven years old he was brought by his teacher before his father, the Tzemach Tzedek, to be tested. His teacher was amazed at his excellent knowledge. The Tzemach Tzedek said to the teacher: “Why all the emotion? Beauty in Beauty is perfect.”

In his early years he reached the pinnacle of Divine service of “Beauty in Beauty” and later, when he matured and eventually became the Nasi of Israel, he certainly always functioned on the level of “Beauty in Beauty.”

The Previous Rebbe revealed to us an important facet of the Rebbe Maharash’s Divine service, expressed in his well-known and oft quoted dictum.

People say that if one cannot go (overcome his problems and obstacles) from below, one must go from above. I say that from the start one should go from above (transcend and nullify all opposition)! (Likkutei Sichos, English ed. vol. II, p. 30)

We must adopt and internalize these two points. (1) Beauty in Beauty and (2) “from the start...go from above.”

All aspects of Judaism, Torah and mitzvos, goodness and charity must be carried out in a manner of “Beauty in Beauty,” in a simple, down-to-earth way, with honor and beauty, while at the same time you must “go from above.”

In a like manner, our relations with the non-Jewish world must also follow this path. The Rambam rules that we are commanded to teach the Seven Noachide Laws to the people of the world. It was in this area, too, that the Maharash set an example, for we know that among all the Nesi’im he had the best liaison with ministers, princes and kings, and he had good and beneficial influence on them, and through them on the countries under their rule.

Let us also apply this to certain basic concepts in Judaism such as Ahavas Yisrael, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” which is called “a basic principle of the Torah.” This includes the laws of lovingkindness, as well as the responsibility to reach out and spread the teachings of Torah. Apply to this the rule of “Beauty in Beauty” and going “from above.”

This year the setting of days of the Sefirah works out that the “Tiferes” attribute (Beauty) of each cycle applies on the first day of the week. Since the goal of man is to labor and strive and then to seek G‑d’s blessings on his work, it therefore follows that when the week begins with the attribute of Tiferes Sheb’Tiferes (Beauty in Beauty) every action of the week will be on a loftier level. And, “... abundant bounty will thereby be bestowed upon all the worlds” (Siddur, Sefirah service).

Even the blessing engendered from above will be more bountiful and gracious.

As a result of the preparation during Sefirah, for Matan Torah, the receiving of the Torah, which we experience again every year during Shavuos, this year’s Matan Torah will be all the more meaningful and consequently it will radiate more blessing throughout the year.

May the “Beauty in Beauty” radiate throughout the year and may all the blessings we pray for on Rosh Chodesh be realized. This will include a promise which we read in today’s Haftorah:

And they will bring all your kinsmen from all the nations as an offering to G‑d.... Just as the Israelites bring an offering in a clean vessel to G‑d’s house. (Yeshayahu 66:20)

And, as we say on Shabbos when the Torah is taken from the holy ark:

And the glory of the L‑rd shall be revealed, and together all flesh shall see that the mouth of the L‑rd has spoken. (Ibid. 40:5)

At Minchah we will soon start the portion Emor, on which Rashi says:

“Say,” and again, “you should say to them,” this repetition is intended to admonish the adults about their children. (Rashi ad. loc. Vayikra 21:1)

This admonishment applied first and foremost to the members of the Sanhedrin who had to admonish the smaller Sanhedrin, and so on, down to every Dayan and Rav and thereby to every person.

This “preaching” will also “polish” them, so that:

And they who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament. (Daniel 12:3)

With the complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach, when the prophecy will be fulfilled:

And from one New Moon to another, and from one Shabbos to another, all mankind will come to worship before Me says G‑d, (Yeshayahu 66:23)

speedily and truly in our times.

* * *

3. [Note: the following sichah also incorporates several points from the sichah spoken at the Yechidus on 26 Nissan.]

This week let us study the Rashi on the verse:

Do not stand still when your neighbor’s life is in danger. (Vayikra 19:16)

On which Rashi states:

Witnessing his death, you being able to rescue him: if, for instance, he is drowning in the river, (vechayah) and a wild beast or a robber is attacking him. (Rashi, loc. cit.)

This Rashi may be studied without paying special attention to its nuances (as is often the case) and accepting it simply as written.

However, if a bit of analytical scrutiny is applied — even on the part of young students, you will immediately discern unique subtleties and intentional emphases in Rashi’s language, for you will realize that Rashi made several intentional changes in the wording of the commentary — as compared to the original sources from which this commentary is derived.

The source of Rashi’s commentary is in Toras Kohanim where the version appears as follows:

How do you know that if you see someone drowning in a river, or being attacked by robbers or by a vicious wild beast you have to save his life.... (Toras Kohanim, ad. loc.)

Similarly, we find in Gemara Sanhedrin:

Whence do we know that if a man sees his fellow drowning, mauled by beasts, or attacked by robbers, he is bound to save him?... (Sanhedrin 73a)

Comparing Rashi to these sources we find discrepancies in several salient points.

(1) Rashi says “...drowning...and a wild beast....” In other words, Rashi does not list three different cases, as do the Toras Kohanim and the Gemara, rather Rashi’s scenario speaks of someone who is drowning and while he is drowning he is also attacked by a wild beast or robbers. The Toras Kohanim and Gemara clearly describe three distinct dangers, drowning, wild beasts, or robbers.

(2) In Toras Kohanim the robbers are mentioned first, and then the wild beast. Rashi mentions the wild beast first which is according to the Gemara’s version.

(3) The Toras Kohanim version uses the term “vicious (or evil) wild beasts” while in Sanhedrin it simply says “wild beasts.” Rashi uses the Gemara version.

Often when the “cheder teachers” teach this Rashi they are not careful to translate Rashi precisely, and they say that the case deals with one who is drowning or being attacked. However, when we make a careful comparison between Rashi and the Toras Kohanim and Gemara we realize that Rashi purposely changed the scenario, and we must understand the emphasis of Rashi in that context.

In this Rashi we find a rare and unique opportunity to study a verse of Torah with its pertinent commentaries on several levels. For here we have Rashi’s approach, the Toras Kohanim, Gemara Sanhedrin and we will also find the same discussion in a different version in the Rambam, Laws of Bodily Damages and in the Shulchan Aruch.

When we compare all of these authors we will find that no two places will be the same — surely we have a classic case in Torah which demands exposition and elucidation.

We should preface with the observation that their apparent differences have occurred because of the different systems of learning in the different branches under discussion:

A — Rashi teaches the plain meaning of the verse.

B — Toras Kohanim represents the words of the Tannaim, which is the system of the Mishnah.

C — In Sanhedrin we have a fine example of the development of the Mishnah in the Talmudicstyle.

D — The Rambam of course gives us the final post-Talmudic, halachic ruling.

E — The Shulchan Aruch written by the Alter Rebbe takes into account the Rambam, the Shulchan Aruch of R. Yosef Karo, and all the latter annotators on the Code of Jewish Law. Therefore it presents to us:

The essence and inner meanings of the rulings recorded in the names of the earlier and later codifiers...including all the rulings to the present day. (Introduction to Shulchan Aruch written by the sons of the author)

This role was delegated to the Alter Rebbe by his master, the Great Maggid, who saw and appreciated the gifted talents and abilities of the Alter Rebbe, being a “new soul,” etc. (cf. Sefer HaMaamarim 5707, p. 265).

This careful analysis will reveal that the differences in the various versions represent the recognized differences based on the system of study in each branch, plain meaning, Mishnah, Talmud, halachic, and the unique halachic approach of the Alter Rebbe. Thus, we have here a rare opportunity to pursue this study through all these gates of Torah.

Several answers have been suggested for these questions (in the published pamphlets of “Notes and Comments” by the yeshivah students), among them: The word “vechayah” — and wild animals — may be understood as if it had said “O Chayah” — “or wild animals” — according to the rules of Talmudic study and study of the codes. This, however, will not satisfy the five-year-old Chumash student who has not perused the “rules of Talmud study.” Furthermore, Rashi uses the word “O,” (not “Ve”) meaning “or,” later in the same sentence; clearly Rashi makes a distinction between the prefix “Ve” meaning “and,” and the conjunction “O” meaning “or.”

Rashi also uses the verb “attacking him” only once, to apply either to the animals or the robbers and if Rashi were listing three dangers, the verb “attacking” would have to be inserted in both the case of the animals and the robbers.

All of the long explanations proposed do not do justice to Rashi’s simple approach to the verse.

In reviewing the Rashi and the other sources and later works which discuss this rule of Torah we come to the following conclusions and/or questions:

A) The verse “Do not stand still while your neighbor’s life is in danger” seems to be self-explanatory and elementary to understand; what did Rashi find difficult which motivated him to propose his explanation?

B) It should have sufficed for Rashi to cite the words “your neighbor’s life is in danger” and give the exemplum. Why quote the whole clause and why say “witnessing his death...to rescue him”? What does all this add?

C) Why must Rashi give any example of a life-threatening situation, the five-year-old Chumash student can surely think of one by himself?

D) Should an example be necessary, why not choose one already mentioned in the Torah, e.g. the death of Hevel (i.e. “If someone sees Cain threatening Hevel...”) etc.

E) Rashi creates a scenario which has the neighbor drowning and being attacked — why must there be two dangers, would not the same rule apply if there were only one danger?

F) In mentioning the “wild beast,” Rashi drops the word “ra’ah — vicious” which appears in the Toras Kohanim version. Would it not be appropriate to include the word “vicious” which would maximize the danger?!

G) Why does Rashi give precedence to the possibility of a wild beast attack before the possibility of an attack by robbers? (see Klallei Rashi 4:4)

H) The commandment “Do not stand still...” follows the first half of the verse: “Do not go around as a gossiper among your people,” why does Rashi not seek an explanation in the plain meaning which will connect both halves of the verse? The Or HaChayim does:

“Do not go around as a gossiper among your people,” and although I have warned you against slander, “do not stand still,” if someone revealed to you that he was planning to kill somebody do not “stand still” until you have informed the intended victim. (Or HaChayim, ad. loc.)

Let us now view the verse through the eyes of the five-year-old Chumash student. When he reads this sentence he is troubled by several “klotz-kashes” — perplexing ponderations.

A) Why is this commandment taught in the negative case, “Do not stand still...”? When we are dealing with a friend who is in danger the Torah should speak positively: “If you see someone in danger go out and save him.” We find this to be the approach of Torah in the case of a lesser level of assistance, e.g.,

If you see the donkey...make every effort to help him....” (Shmos 23:5)

B) Why does the Torah use the case of danger to life? We must help someone even when the possible loss is only monetary, and we must protect another Jew from any form of physical injury.

C) Most perturbing: why use the term “stand” when we speak of saving someone from death?!

In anticipation of these perplexing points Rashi realizes that this verse must be revealing a particular case in the mitzvah of saving someone who is in danger.

The basic principle of extending a helping hand to a friend and saving someone’s life, may be inferred from many verses in Torah, starting with Avraham:

..He will command his children...after him...to do charity and justice, (Bereishis 18:19)


..Lend money to My people, (Shmos 22:24)


You must make every effort to help him, (Ibid 23:5)


You must love your neighbor as (you love) yourself. (Vayikra 19:18)

All of these verses would indicate that you must do all you possibly can to save someone from a danger of death.

Rashi could not say that “Do not stand” makes reference to giving warning (or witness), for that rule we deduce a minori ad majus from the rule that says one must not withhold testimony in a case where the evidence will incriminate the accused, how much more so when it will help save a victim!

For all of these reasons Rashi concludes that this verse deals with a unique case where “you must not stand by — witnessing his death, you being able to rescue him.”

And what might that scenario be? Where your neighbor is in a danger and you could be hurt trying to help him. In other words, by not standing still and approaching the zone of danger you could be putting yourself in danger.

In such a case there would be an a priori opinion that you should stay put and not endanger yourself — therefore the Torah says “Do not stand still....” When there is a case of danger to his life you are not permitted to be indifferent and apathetic and “witness his death,” because “you are able to rescue him.” Go and save him, even if you encounter peril.

And since Rashi follows the rule that the Torah speaks of what usually occurs, Rashi cannot bring an example of a murderer because in civilized society it was not common. Vicious wild beasts and murderous highwaymen were also not common in civilized areas, only in the wilderness, where people usually traveled only in caravans and therefore would normally not be attacked.

So, Rashi picks a common occurrence. The five-year-old Chumash student knows that civilization needs water for human consumption and irrigation, usually river water, which is sweet and may be drunk, and does not need much labor to be drawn. It is likewise common for people to bathe in the river for hygienic as well as ritual purposes.

Now, the possibility of somebody suddenly losing strength, being battered by strong winds or currents and floundering in the water is also common.

Hence, this is fact one in the scenario — someone is bathing in the river and begins to drown! But why would you hesitate to save this person by at least throwing him a line?!

The nature of one who is floundering is to try to get back on the shore and here the wild animal is introduced — not the “vicious” wild beast who could attack anyone, anywhere — but a “normal” wild animal which normally is afraid of a human. However in our case, because the human is drowning and fighting weakly to get out of the water, the wild beast waits for an opportune moment to pounce on the seemingly easyvictim. Similarly, a non-murderous thief who normally could not, and would not, attack someone in the center of civilization, might be tempted to attack this person who is only half-alive!

Now, in this clear-cut case do not think that you have an excuse to stand still and not intervene because you know that if you intervene the anticipating animal or thief will turn on you. In this scenario the Torah teaches us “do not stand still” when your neighbor is in danger of death and you can help, even if you might face peril.

Rashi’s synthesis also sheds light on the halachic impact of this rule. By not quoting the Toras Kohanim that the beast was “vicious,” we may infer that were it “vicious” Rashi holds you must not intervene. And from the points we have gleaned we understand that you must not jump into the water to save the victim (if you will be in danger of drowning), just throw him a rope!

However, in the case which Rashi creates, you must put yourself in danger in order to save your neighbor, because it is not a life-threatening situation.

This will also be compatible with the ruling of the Rambam, Beis Yosef and the Alter Rebbe.

* * *

4. Several other questions have been submitted on this portion and we will discuss two more at this time.

1) On the verse:

When you reap your land’s harvest, do not completely harvest the ends of your fields. (Vayikra 19:9)

Rashi notes:

This means that one must leave the Peah (uncut portion) at the extremity of one’s field. (Rashi, loc. cit.)

Now, if Rashi wants to teach us that the term Peah means the “end” and therefore we must leave the extremity of the field uncut and not the beginning or middle, why then must Rashi cite all these words in his caption — “Do not completely harvest the ends of your field,” and then say “that he must leave etc.,” Rashi could just as well have cited the word Peah and commented “the extremity.”

2) The Torah teaches us:

Stand up before a white head and give respect to the old. (Ibid.:32)

Rashi comments on this:

One might think this reverence is also due to an (Ashmai) aged sinner, Scripture however says Zaken (give respect to the Zaken) and Zaken denotes only one who has acquired wisdom. (Rashi, loc. cit.)

The term that Rashi uses — Ashmai — appears for the first time in Rashi; it would seem that Rashi should translate it in order to help the five-year-old Chumash student. In fact, in Gemara Kiddushin where this topic is discussed and the Talmud uses the word “Ashmai” — Rashi does find it necessary to translate: “a sinner, evildoer, and ignoramus.” Well, if Rashi deems it necessary to translate this term Ashmai for the 15-year-old Talmud student how much more so is it necessary to translate it for the five-year-old Chumash student?!

In dealing with the commandment of leaving the fruits at the end of the field, we have a case where the Torah has not yet commanded the positive commandment of Peah. The five-year-old Chumash student therefore wonders why does the Torah prohibit before it commands. For this reason Rashi explains that the words of the Torah, even though they are in a negative case, still mean to inform us of the actual positive mitzvah of Peah, for the verse says:

“When you reap” — which means — you are in the process of harvesting — at that time you “must leave the uncut portion at the extremity of the field.” (Rashi, paraphrased)

Admittedly, this is a novel interpretation of the Scripture and the Rashi — if someone can suggest a better interpretation let him come forward.

As to why Rashi does not deem it necessary to translate “Ashmai” it is because the word comes from the root “Asham — sin” which the five-year-old Chumash student already knows. [In the Gemara Rashi has a different intention (see loc. cit.).]

* * *

5. In my father’s commentary on the Zohar section of Kedoshim, he expounds on a story in the Zohar which tells of a person who fell into the trap of letting one sin lead him to another sin. The lesson to be learned, explains my father o.b.m., is that one must sanctify himself in worldly matters and then G‑d will sanctify him from Above.

The interpretation seems out of place. In dealing with the phenomenon of one sin leading to another it would seem that the antidote would be to “steer away from evil.” Why speak of sanctification? The answer is that when we approach the choices in life with the attitude that “from the start one should go from above,” (the way of the Rebbe Maharash) then, when we are faced with a problem of contagious sin, the remedy is to go from above, “do good” and bring sanctification! In this manner you jump over the evil and go right to the good.

This, then, is the lesson in Divine service: if you sense some negative force in yourself — do not get involved with it, instead increase your holiness and radiance — then the negative forces will automatically be nullified. By nature light banishes darkness, and especially when there is intense radiance, so much good has been accomplished during the centuries of exile, now we can put it to good use!

The same rule will also apply when dealing with helping others, and so it is more favorable to speak of the quality of redemption rather than to decry the galus.

It is, however, self-evident that despite all this emphasis and involvement on the positive side, so long as there still exists actual evil, there will have to be direct effort and involvement to nullify the evil forces. Although this is not the preferred approach, yet relative to the evil traits and powers it is the best approach.

This reality of eradicating the negative applies not only to prohibited areas, but also to permitted areas such as luxuries and superfluity, where, normally, only the principle of sanctification would apply — to turn away from the relative evil of material luxuries in the manner of Iskafia (bending the evil inclination to conform).

Careful and honest introspection will also uncover the evil side of such luxuries, even when they are cloaked in a mantle of religiosity or sanctity, for example the need to purchase a new automobile for the alleged purpose of being able to move more quickly and fulfill the will of the Holy One, Blessed be He. This evil must be eliminated.

Having come to this subject — there are those who try to involve me in this matter and they say that there is a need for a new automobile for the aforementioned reason. The argument goes on to say, “What is more, the upholstery on the seat is worn out,” and this is not in conformance with the words of the prophet: “Your eyes shall see...his beauty” (Yeshayahu 33:17).

As for me — being that the whole idea of a new car never entered my mind and has absolutely no validity with me, it follows that it would not apply to speak of turning from “evil” or “bending.”

The old car is fine, with it many good things were accomplished, and it can do the same in the future. Especially since we will immediately be flying on the “clouds of the sky,” then we will not need cars. Thus, even the concept of “restraint” is also not relevant to me.

I am not speaking out of false modesty. For example, if one likes only red apples and not white ones, for him there is no accomplishment of restraint relative to white apples — his nature is not drawn to them and no one will say he has controlled himself by not eating them. Similarly, I have no leaning regarding the car.

So, there are those who say, “If so, on the contrary — have the desire, buy the new car, park it near the house and then drive only in the old car!”

To this “argument” the answer is, if you seek avenues of fulfilling the Divine service of bending your nature — then bend yourself to give more tzedakah than usual. While it is true that you donated $15,000 to tzedakah, yet you know only too well that that sum was really no strain on you, and you could have given twice that amount!

Well you thought of that too and you have reasoned out an “excuse”:

Knowing the lofty nature of tzedakah you decided to practice restraint and not donate, so that you should not benefit from the pleasure of giving! And then again, you may fall into the trap of pride — no matter how hard you have tried to be discreet in your philanthropy it can always happen that people will discover your munificence — and it will cause you to be haughty and proud!

Thus, you argued with yourself, that the safest bet was not to give the charity, and meanwhile, you will have the fringe benefit of the money lying in the bank collecting interest.

You do know that one must do all he can to bring the redemption — well for that you have thought of a different plan. You will say Tehillim and you will influence others to give tzedakah! As for yourself, you will not scratch your self-imposed Iskafia!

Therefore, here is the answer to your arguments. The poor person and the institution do not need your self restraint — they need your cash!

And as for your choice of ways to bring the redemption, it is easy to guess where the suggestion of Tehillim versus money comes from.

There is a well-known story of the great Tzaddik, R. Nochum of Chernobyl. Someone once brought him a large sum of money to be used as he saw fit. He was followed by another chassid who requested R. Nochum’s assistance in marrying off his daughter. The sum requested by the second petitioners was the exact amount he had just received. Automatically, R. Nochum decided to give the money to this needy chassid. But suddenly a thought arose in his mind that perhaps it was not wise to give so large a sum to one person; but to divide it among several needy people! Finally, he concluded that since the second thought arose in his mind after he had decided to give the money to the first person it was clearly not the advice of his good inclination, rather the confusion of the yetzer hora (evil inclination).

In the case of saying Tehillim to bring the redemption, this idea did not enter his mind until he was asked for a donation, before that he had never been so enthusiastic about the recitation of Tehillim! If so, it was certainly not a suggestion of the yetzer tov — rather a scheme of the yetzer hora.

If all this does not clarify the picture let him talk it over with another Jew who is objective or ask a Rav for an halachic ruling. But he should not make a condition with the rabbi that if he rules according to his whims, then he will give him a loan, once in seven years, and if he rules against his opinion he will not even give him that loan!

In any case, the self-restraint and bending of the yetzer hora should be in the area of giving more tzedakah than he normally does. But if the practice is too revolutionary for him, then let him start by giving free loans, and after several times he will consider it as tzedakah and then he will not mind if he does not get the loan back.

Practically speaking, tomorrow morning before getting involved in his personal business, before he drinks his cup of “juice,” or looks into his calendar to check his appointments, he should start a new appointment book for “acts of kindness,” and every morning he should study this book and see who needs a loan and who is really poor and needs tzedakah and to immediately go out and assist those people. Without doubt this is permissible even before Shacharis. As the story of the Tzemach Tzedek who took his tallis and tefillin and set out to the synagogue: Suddenly he returned to his house and took a sum of money to give a loan to a Jewish butcher.

Contemplate this:

The Tzemach Tzedek, in a state of preparation for prayer, was already carrying his tallis and tefillin to the shul, he left the synagogue, in front of all the people, returned to his house, took money and went looking for the butcher to give him the funds to enable him to buy a calf and earn some money for his family.

Here we can learn an important lesson in the attribute of lovingkindness in soul, body and mainly, with money. He had to interrupt his spiritual prayer preparations, and personally go to get the money that involved soul, body and money.

May all Jews be able to carry out the directive of Torah, “Make yourselves holy for I am holy.”

And may we speedily proceed to the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach with joy and joyous hearts — speedily and truly in our days.