1. An assembly of Jews for a good purpose — the strengthening of Judaism and helping one another in one’s needs by friendly encouragement and good advice — produces feelings of joy for the participants. This is especially so when the participants are men and women who have reached senior age, about whom the Talmud says (Kiddushin 33a): “How many troubles have passed over these!” To Jews who in their lifetime have experienced many events can certainly be applied the verse (Iyov 32:7): “Multitude of years teach wisdom” — which means that from year to year they gain in wisdom and in heartfelt feelings to others who need help. They have attained the wisdom to learn from their personal trials the great importance of helping others, and have clearly seen that such behavior elicits G‑d’s blessings for all necessities. can easily be understood, then, how great is their joy when these Jews meet together to strengthen and inspire each other in all good and holy matters. And surely a result of such a meeting is that they increase in giving aid to others, which in turn adds to the happiness and pleasure in their lives — may they live long and good years blessed by G‑d, good, healthy and happy years with true satisfaction from themselves, their children and grandchildren.

Extra emphasis is placed on the above when this meeting is taking place in a synagogue and study-hall, a place where Jews pray and pour out their hearts to G‑d and beseech Him for their needs, and a place where they learn G‑d’s Torah. Such a place is most auspicious for undertaking good resolutions to increase in all good and holy matters.

This assembly should be utilized, therefore, to resolve to increase in Torah study. And since Torah is the “living Torah” and the “Torah of light,” providing clear and illuminating directives for life, the study of Torah effects that one’s daily life be conducted according to the Torah’s directives. Torah then assures one “your days will be prolonged”: A Torah lifestyle elicits further blessings from G‑d for long life, extra tens of years of good and happy life. And, because G‑d is the “All-merciful Father” — of all people, particularly Jews, and among Jews, especially of those who have achieved much during their lifetime and now have reached the stage of assembling together in a synagogue and study-hall — the assurance of long life includes the fulfillment of all your desires for good. Until finally we merit to see the fulfillment of the request we made now in prayer — “May our eyes behold Your return to Tziyon in mercy” — i.e., to see the coming of our righteous Mashiach, who will take us, amidst all Jewry, out of exile, and bring all Jews to our holy land, the land of Israel, to the holy city of Yerushalayim, to the Beis HaMikdash.

Since at that time all Jews will be gathered together from the four corners of the world, everyone will meet his relatives who were dispersed throughout the world. Moreover, each Jew will meet relatives that until then he did not know about, and to his great surprise he will discover that he has an extensive and widespread family. It is easy to picture the great joy that will then be present. We see how happy people are when meeting relatives they haven’t seen for a long time — and how much more will be the joy when G‑d redeems all Jews and brings them to our holy land — joy about both the redemption and the ingathering of the exiles, when all Jewry will meet together, healthy and whole, with joyful hearts.

* * *

2. As noted above, Torah provides clear and illuminating directives for every detail in one’s daily life. Thus, for any event, it behooves one to ascertain what Torah says about it.

In our case, it behooves us to ponder the significance of the particular day on which this assembly is taking place. We can learn lessons from the fact that it is taking place on Tuesday, the third day of the week, and from the fact that today’s Torah section is the third section of parshas Re’eh.

Third day of the week

The third day of the week is special in of it (of the third day of creation), “it good” was said twice. Torah explains that this means “good for heaven and good for creatures i.e., that a Jew must do good both concerning himself (“good for heaven”) and concerning others (“good for creatures”) — that for them, too, everything should be good. The connection between Tuesday and this assembly, then, is that its goal is to strengthen and increase in all good and holy things, concerning both oneself and others — “good for heaven and good for creatures.”

Third section of parshas Re’eh

This section states (Devarim 13:5): “You shall walk after the L‑rd your G‑d ... and you shall cleave to Him.” G‑d requests of all Jews, and grants them the strength, to go in the path G‑d has shown in His Torah. and to reach the level of “you shall cleave to Him” — not just be close to Him, but to cleave to Him.

This verse also emphasizes the idea of “good for creatures.” Rashi, on the words “you shall cleave to Him,” comments: “Cleave to His ways, do deeds of loving kindness ... visit the sick, just as the Holy One, blessed be He, does.” These things are the idea of helping others — “good for creatures” — and in general is the fulfillment of the command, “You shall love your fellow as yourself.

The idea of “good for heaven and good for creatures” is thus expressed in this verse. The plain interpretation of it is that each Jew should personally cleave to G‑d and follow Him — the idea of “good for heaven.” Our sages interpreted it to also mean the idea of “good for creatures” — to cleave to G‑d by doing good deeds to others.

By following G‑d’s ways and cleaving to Him, Jews elicit all the blessings from G‑d, the source of all blessings — blessings from G‑d’s full, open, holy and ample Hand for yourselves, your families, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

* * *

3. The above lesson from today’s section of Torah has a special connection to the name of the Kollel in which you are members: “Tiferes Zekainim — Levi Yitzchok” — “The Beauty of the Elderly — Levi Yitzchok,” named after my father, of sainted memory, whose yahrzeit was just recently (on the 20th of Av).

Every name has meaning, and the name “Levi” means to “bring near,” “attached,” as explicitly recorded in Scripture (Bereishis 29:34). Indeed, the function of the tribe of Levi was to bring near all Jews to G‑d, by being a living example, and by speaking to them about it. The connection to today’s section of Torah is that it, too, speaks of becoming attached and cleaving to G‑d (as noted above).

My father’s second name is “Yitzchok.” “Yitzchok” derives from a root meaning laughter and joy, as we see that the first Yitzchok (the Patriarch) was so called because “G‑d has given me laughter; all who hear about it will rejoice for me.” This teaches that the service to G‑d represented by the name “Levi” — attaching oneself and cleaving to G‑d — should be done in the manner of “Yitzchok” — with joy and a good heart.

Further, Yitzchok was given his name meaning laughter and joy because his birth was a miracle. This teaches that when a person cleaves to G‑d (the service of “Levi”), G‑d performs miracles for him when necessary.

4. The above words concerning the name “Levi Yitzchok” is connected with today’s portion of Rambam. As you surely know, it has recently become a widespread custom to learn Rambam’s works (Mishneh Torah or Sefer HaMitzvos), and presumably some of you participate in studying them.

Today’s portion of Rambam deals with the laws of a Nazir (one who vows to abstain from drinking wine and to let his hair grow long). The laws of a Nazir are part of the laws of vows, and its connection to the name “Levi Yitzchok” is that this name is the numerical equivalent of “neder” (vow).

What can we learn from the concept of a vow and Nazir? A vow exemplifies the power given to a Jew by G‑d: A Jew is able to take something which is of a mundane nature, and to infuse it with sanctity, binding it to G‑d. This teaches that a Jew need not be afraid that learning Torah and observing mitzvos is a difficult task, or that he doesn’t have the requisite strength or financial resources to do so. Such fears are groundless, the product of the foolish Evil Inclination — for a Jew has the power to infuse sanctity into a mundane object without any difficulty — simply by speaking. If, for example, a Jew says that something should be considered for him as a sacrifice — that something gains special sanctity!

So too with a Nazir: When a Jew, man or woman, takes upon himself or herself an obligation for the glory of G‑d — even a simple thing such as not to cut his hair for thirty days — he gains special sanctity since his intention was for the sake of heaven. Although it involves only a simple thing, not necessitating any special effort or expenditure of money, his intention for the sake of heaven renders it a service to G‑d and brings G‑d special satisfaction.

Automatically, this is also good for the person. It is an observable phenomenon that when one gives satisfaction to an important person, and certainly to the President of the U.S.A., for example, the very fact that he had the merit to bring satisfaction to such an important person is considered an honor for him. In addition, the important person tries to reward him by helping him at every opportunity.

How much immeasurably more so does this hold true concerning G‑d. The merit one has of giving satisfaction to G‑d is considered the person’s greatest honor, and in addition, G‑d rewards him by giving him a surfeit of blessings and success in all his needs.

* * *

May it be G‑d’s will that this assembly, which is taking place in a synagogue where Jews pray to G‑d and in a study-hall where they learn His Torah, lead to an increase in all good and holy matters. This includes particularly the above mentioned directives: from the third day of the week — “good for heaven and good for creatures”; that from today’s section of Torah — “You shall walk after the L‑rd your G‑d ... and you shall cleave to Him”; and from the concept of a vow and a Nazir. All these directives should be carried out in the manner of “Levi Yitzchok” — attachment to G‑d (“Levi”) with joy (“Yitzchok”).

When a truly sincere resolve is made concerning these matters, success greater than could be expected surely follows. And when a resolution is undertaken in the presence of a congregation, it has great force and importance, and thus automatically it becomes much easier to carry it out fully.