The Shabbos Table – Vayechi: R’ Y. Sacks Shlita: Mach’shavas HaCheit

This D’var Torah should be a Zechus L’Ilui Nishmas my mother Chaya Rochel Bas Dovid Tzvi A”H, 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


-Mordechai Shlomo Ben Sarah Tili

_R’ Simcha Yitzchak Ben Mirela Yudka

-Chaya Rochel Ettel Bas Shulamis

-Yonatan Menachem Mendel Ben Orly, Eli Aharon Michel Ben Chaya

-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) and other tragedies.


-It should also be a Z’chus for success for Tzaha”l as well as the rest of Am Yisrael during this dire time, in Eretz Yisrael and in the Galus.

-The wounded should experience Refuah Shileimah, the captives should be returned safely, the fallen should experience Kevurah and Aliyah for their Neshamos and Nekamah for their Dam, their Krovim should experience Nechamah, the Chayalim should be Matzliach and Minatzei’ach, and Am Yisrael should experience Geulah.







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.)








“Mach’shavas Cheit”




Based on:


Parsha Shiur – Vayigash: Yosef & His Brothers (2017)—yosef-and-his-brothers

“Mach’shavah Ra’ah Einah Mitztarefes L’Ma’aseh” (Yomim MiKedem – Vayigash, Page 79)

(“An Evil Intention Does Not Constitute as an Action”)

“Mach’shavas Cheit” (Yomim MiKedem – Vayechi, Page 346)



“Elokim Chashvah L’Tovah”


When Yosef reveals himself to his brothers in Parshas Vayigash, he insists that the brothers not be distressed over the fact that they had sold him into slavery, “Ki L’Michyah Sh’lachani Elokim” (Bereishis 45:5), that Hashem sent him ahead to preserve their lives.

In Parshas Vayechi, Yosef reiterates that although “Atem Chashavtem Alai L’Ra’ah,” that you intended to do me harm, “Elokim Chashvah L’Tovah,” that Hashem intended and considered the entirety of this situation for ultimate good.


Or HaChaim: Even “B’Dinei Shamayim”


It would have been one thing for Yosef himself to overlook the actions of his brothers, to forgive them B’Leiv Shaleim. But, what is intended by these words “Elokim Chashvah L’Tovah”?

The Or HaChaim writes a Chiddush that since Mechiras Yosef was a direct catalyst for Yeshuah for the B’nei Yisrael at that time, Yosef’s brothers were not only exempt from any culpability in Dinei Adam (*civil law), but that they were absolved from culpability even B’Dinei Shamayim (in the heavenly court). That is the meaning of “Elokim Chashvah L’Tovah.”


Wine in Place of Poison, Sheep in Place of Pig


The Or HaChaim gives a Mashal of someone who intends to serve his friend poison, but instead gives him wine. One is not guilty, neither in a court of law, nor in Dinei Shamayim.

The Bechor Shor goes a step further and provides another Mashal of an individual who attempts to consume Basar Chazir (pig meat), but instead grabs a piece of Basar T’leh (sheep meat). Hashem protects Tzaddikim from faltering, and by sending Yosef to sustain the brothers, Hashem demonstrated His favor toward them by allowing them to be catalysts of the good that resulted from their actions.


“Mach’shavah Ra’ah Einah Mitztarefes L’Ma’aseh”


It is in this vein that the Gemara in Kiddushin (40A) differentiates between a Mach’shavah Tovah (good intention) and a Mach’shavah Ra’ah (ill intention).

On the one hand, the Gemara states that “Mach’shavah Tovah Mitztarefes L’Ma’aseh,” that a good intention, for example, the attempt to perform a Mitzvah, is considered a fulfillment of the Mitzvah in deed.

On the other hand, “Mach’shavah Ra’ah Einah Mitztarefes L’Ma’aseh,” an “ill intention does not constitute as an action.”


Kaparah for Mach’shavas HaCheit – “VaHashem Yislach Lah”


While we do not view ill intentions with same gravity of an actual Ma’aseh Aveirah, a later Gemara in Kiddushin (81B) indicates that one does require some level of Kaparah (atonement) for Mach’shavas HaCheit.

The Pasuk in Parshas Mattos speaks of a woman who had uttered a Neder, and unbeknownst to her, her husband had already annulled her Neder, for example, not to partake of wine. And of this woman, the Pasuk states “VaHashem Yislach Lah” (Bamidbar 30:6), that Hashem will forgive her. That is to say that if she were to violate what was only once her Neder under the assumption that her Neder was still Kayam (upheld), in other words, a Mach’shavas HaCheit, she would nonetheless be forgiven. The implication however is that Selichah and Kaparah is in fact warranted.


When Does Mach’shavas HaCheit Require Kaparah? 


The Maharil Diskin (Bereishis, Vayechi, 50:19) provides the precise Hagdarah (parameters) and circumstances for when an individual requires Kaparah for either an Aveirah or a Mach’shavah Ra’ah.


 1. Mach’shavah L’chud vs. Mach’shavah Im Ma’aseh

First, he differentiates between one who merely has an ill intention and one who also engages in a Ma’aseh. One can only be culpable for a Machshavah Ra’ah in cases of Avodah Zarah and Minus (apostasy) where the essence of the Cheit is B’Leiv, in the mind. For all other Aveiros, one isn’t culpable for a mere Mach’shavah. And that is true even B’Dinei Shamayim.


 2. An Actual Ma’aseh Aveirah

Next, Maharil Diskin lists the most obvious case, where one actually commits the Aveirah in deed. In this case, he is Chayiv even B’Dinei Adam.


     3. A Mach’shavah Ra’ah with a Neutral Ma’aseh

Finally, Maharil Diskin presents our earlier case of an individual who not only has a Mach’shavah Ra’ah and even intends to perform a Ma’aseh Aveirah, but one who even acts on that Mach’shavah with a Ma’aseh, however the B’Sha’as Ma’aseh, what he did was in fact not an Aveirah. In this circumstance, one is not Chayiv B’Dinei Adam, but he requires Kaparah B’Dinei Shamayim.


“Am I in Place of Hashem?”


And this, writes the Maharil Diskin, is the meaning of that which Yosef asks his brothers incredulously, “HaSachas Elokim Ani”-“Am I in place of Hashem?” (Ibid.). In other words, if their sin was against Yosef, it turns out that what they had done did not constitute as a direct Ma’aseh Aveirah, since after all, “Elokim Chashvah L’Tovah,” so they are not culpable in Dinei Adam.

However, for their Mach’shavas Ra’ah, perhaps they would require Kaparah in Dinei Shamayim.


*May we all be Zocheh to align and subjugate both our minds and actions to that which is pure and Tov, to be Neki’im (clean from guilt) B’Einei Elokim V’Adam, to smoothly achieve atonement B’Dinei Adam and B’Dinei Shamayim, worthy of Geulah the coming of Moshiach, Bimheirah BiYomeinu! Have a wonderful Shabbos!