The Shabbos Table – Shoftim: R’ Y. Sacks Shlita: “With Him”
This D’var Torah should be a Zechus L’Ilui Nishmas my mother Chaya Rochel Bas Dovid Tzvi (Hareini Kaparas Mishkavah), my sister Kayla Rus Bas Bunim Tuvia A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my paternal grandfather Moshe Ben Yosef A”H, my paternal grandmother Channah Freidel Bas Avraham A”H, my uncle Reuven Nachum Ben Moshe & my great aunt Rivkah Sorah Bas Zev Yehuda HaKohein,
It should also be in Zechus L’Refuah Shileimah for:
-My father Bunim Tuvia Ben Channa Freidel
-My grandmother Shulamis Bas Etta
-MY BROTHER: MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO BEN CHAYA ROCHEL
-Mordechai Shlomo Ben Sarah Tili
-Noam Shmuel Ben Simcha
_R’ Simcha Yitzchak Ben Mirela Yudka
-Chaya Rochel Ettel Bas Shulamis
-It should also be a Z’chus for an Aliyah of the holy Neshamos of HaRav HaGa’on V’Sar HaTorah Shmaryahu Yosef Chaim Ben HaRav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky A”H, Dovid Avraham Ben Chiya Kehas—R’ Dovid Winiarz ZT”L, Miriam Liba Bas Aharon—Rebbetzin Weiss A”H, as well as the Neshamos of those whose lives were taken by terrorists (Hashem Yikom Damam), COVID-19, and other tragedies.
-It should also be a Z’chus for success for Tzaha”l as well as the rest of Am Yisrael, in Eretz Yisrael and in the Galus.
Be”H, I will be translating / transcribing / paraphrasing Divrei Torah of my Rebbi, HaGaon R’ Yonason Avner Sacks Shlita. (Any inaccuracies, whether added, misrepresented, or due to omission and/or points lost in translation or context should be attributed to me alone. * = My addition.)
“Imo Anochi B’Tzarah”
“Sichah – Parshas Shoftim – Imo Anochi B’Tzarah” (2017, 5777)
“V’Chai” – “Maglin Rabbo Imo”
One of the many themes of Parshas Shoftim is the plight of the Rotzei’ach B’Shogeig, one who takes a life unintentionally and is sent to the Ir Miklat. However, the Torah qualifies by stating “V’Chai” (Devarim 4:42) that the Talmid must “live,” that he has to survive and endure this plight of his Galus.
Accordingly, the Gemara in Makkos (10A) comments that if, Rachmana L’tzlan, one takes a life B’Shogeig, then not only is he Chayiv Galus (condemned to exile), but “Maglin Rabbo Imo”-“We exile his Rebbi with him.” That is because life without his Rebbi is not considered to be absolute life.
When Rambam quotes this Halachah (Hilchos Rotzei’ach 7:1), he writes: “V’Chayei Ba’alei HaChochmah U’Mevakshehah B’Lo Talmus K’Misah Chashuvim”-“and lives of masters of wisdom and those who seek it, without the ability to learn, are considered dead.”
“Shechinta B’Galusa” – “Imo Anochi B’Tzarah”
I would suggest that above and beyond that profound Chiddush of the Gemara, the relationship between the Rebbi and Talmid, this is a model in the broader sense for K’neses Yisrael. No doubt, we are often guilty of significant Aveirah, and as such, we too find ourselves in Galus, “U’Mipnei Chata’einu Galinu MeiArtzeinu” (“And because of our sins, we have been exiled from our land”).
But, there is that certain Havtachah (guarantee) of “V’Chai,” that we will live and survive, maybe even be given the capacity to thrive in Galus. And if that is indeed true, then just as it so that “Maglin Rabbo Imo,” perhaps the parallel is “Imo Anochi B’Tzarah”-“I am with him in distress” (Tehilim 91:15), that “Shechinta B’Galusa,” that even though we are Galus, we are not alone and not abandoned, but that the Shechinah is here with us, just a Rebbi always accompanies the Talmid.
The Phenomenal Simcha of Tu B’Av
The profound concept of Shechinta B’Galusa might be the basis for the unique day of Tu B’Av, which is described in the Gemara in Bava Basra (121A). The Mishnah in Ta’anis (26B) states that Tu B’Av was a day of great Simcha, such that there is no Yom Tov that compares to the joy of Tu B’Av and Yom HaKippurim. The Gemara raises the obvious question: We can understand the Simcha of Kaparas Aveiros of Yom HaKippurim. But, what is the basis for Simcha on Tu B’Av?
The Gemara suggests various possibilities, and the answer according to R’ Masna is that Tu B’Av was the day when the Harugei Beitar were Zocheh to Kevurah, that despite the calamitous massacre, at least the bodies of those who were killed did not decay; at least they were buried.
It Could Have Been Worse?
It is quite surprising that the burial of the Harugei Beitar could be so transformative, to turn a time of incredible calamity to a time of unparalleled Simcha, the mere fact that the massacred were buried. And yet, that same Gemara in Bava Basra teaches that it was in response to this burial of the Harugei Beitar that Chazal were Misakein a fourth Bracha in Birchas HaMazon, of “HaTov V’HaMeitiv” (He Who is Good and [continuously] bestows Good), “HaTov” that the bodies didn’t decay, “V’HaMeitiv” that they were buried.
Now, I have no doubt, if you or I were asked how we think it might be appropriate to commemorate the tragedy of the Harugei Beitar, it would be a day of absolute Aveilus. And if one were to point out that at least they were Zocheh to Kevurah and that “it could have been worse,” then we might have argued that indeed, there should be an Aveilus that is somewhat diminished, perhaps there should be a Ta’anis (fast) with only an Issur of Achilah (eating) and Shtiyah (drinking), but not She’ar Inuyim (other forms of affliction), and which perhaps begins only BaYom and not BaLailah. But, to suggest that the fact that the Harguei Beitar were buried makes Tu B’Av into a Yom Tov of unparalleled Simcha, at first glance, is puzzling. Why is this occasion so transformative? Why is it a means for such Simcha?
I have often thought that the answer is as follows: When a person is seen as successful, he suddenly finds himself surrounded by friends. When he is riding high people begin to place tremendous interest in his views, his opinions, and his friendship. And yet, sometimes, we see the effect in the exact opposite case. When a person is down and out, in a situation of despair; he’s distraught. He’s suffering. He feels loneliness and that he is abandoned. But, that Eis Tzarah (time of distress) is a real opportunity. That is because there are always a few individuals who will come forward for him. And I would suggest that that is the measure of a true Oheiv, of true friendship. True friendship is not determined when one is riding high. But, when individuals come to his aid at a time of desperation, that is an indicator that they are among Rei’im Ahuvim.
When one is living in a time of Hashra’as HaShechinah, in the times of the Beis HaMikdash, the Mishnah tells us that one witnessed Nissim (miracles); Nissim were commonplace. You could plan a tour of the Beis HaMikdash and witness miracles each and every day. There is nothing remarkable about a Neis in the Beis HaMikdash. But, when one lives in a time of Hester Panim, in Galus, and yet, despite everything, despite calamity, one experiences a Neis, that is remarkable. The Kevurah of the Harugei Beitar was a Neis in a time of Hastarah. The greatest Nechama and Simcha is not that “it could have been worse,” but that K’neses Yisrael is never alone, without Hashem’s friendship, but rather, “Imo Anochi B’Tzarah,” that “Shechinta B’Galusa.”
We should be Zocheh not only to experience the true friendship of Hashem in our time in Galus, but to be able to experience that friendship in the times of the Geulah with the coming of Moshiach, Bimheirah BiYomeinu! Have a wonderful Shabbos!