Parshas Vayeishev 5777
Candle Lighting Time: 4:22 pm
December 23, 2016
Volume 13 Issue 8
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Dvar Torah

Non-Verbal Lessons
 By Rabbi Moshe Yosef Spiegal

In this week's Parasha during the debacle of the attempted murder/sale of Yosef, a most unusual event occurs. Picture the scene. The brothers unanimously decide Yosef deserves capital punishment. Reuven suggests, "Why kill Yosef with our hands. Rather, throw him in a pit and allow nature to do its job". If Reuven truly meant what he said, it would be understandable for him to be unconcerned with the ultimate outcome. However, the verse is clear that it was all a ruse. Reuven planned to subsequently extract Yosef from the pit and save him. Rashi comments on the verse regarding Reuven returning to the pit, that he wasn't present when the brothers sold Yosef. The question begs itself, is it conceivable for Yosef's sole advocate to go AWOL at this most pivotal moment? And to compound the question, Chazal tell us he was fasting and praying for forgiveness for moving his father Yaakov's bed after the death of Rochel. Couldn't Reuven come up with a more opportune time to repent for a sin he committed fifteen years before? Why repent now, when he was in the midst of saving his brother's life?
 Rabbi Daniel Lehrfeld answers with a powerful message. Until this point Reuven didn't appreciate the magnitude of his sin. He may have realized that what he did was inappropriate after he incurred his father's wrath, but certainly not to fully. Finally he realized what his sin really was. He, after all may have made a judgment error, but don't we all? Now he understood that although he felt he knew what was correct, nevertheless he should have consulted his father. He came to this conclusion after seeing how the brothers were ready to take Yosef's life. They judged and found Yosef guilty when Yaakov and Yitzchak, their father and grandfather, were both still alive. They should have consulted these great men before making a life or death decision.. Reuven understood that his brothers were, to a degree, emulating him. By his actions he had taught them, "If you know - there is nothing to ask," and they felt they knew. Only now did it dawn upon him the severity of his sin and the enormous fallout. It is for this reason that he was repenting and praying, for it is only then that he understood he had what to beg forgiveness for.
A story is told of a man who met a fellow Jew in the airport and exclaimed, "I have been looking for you for years"! "Me!? I don't think we ever met." The man replied, "We never formally met but boy did we meet. You changed the course of my entire life." What had happened was that many years earlier these two individuals were at the Kosel at the same time. The fellow who he bumped into at the airport was davening as usual, gave some tzeddaka and left. Unbeknownst to him this man, who was not religious at the time, was watching. The intensity of his prayers coupled with the fact that he gave a complete stranger charity made such an impression that it inspired him to look more intensely into adopting a religious lifestyle. The rest as they say, is history.
In the course of our life, the Jewish People are constantly in a position to be a positive role model. Often, we don't realize it. With some forethought we can take simple actions and turn them into powerful lessons for the hidden eyes around us. Just as Reuven and this simple Jew at the Kosel profoundly, unknowingly affected others, we too can act and speak in ways that will influence others in healing ways.

Dvar Halacha
Laws of V'Sein Tal U'Matar  part 1
By  Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi

Earlier this month we began reciting the phrase v'sain tal u'matar liv'racha by Maariv. The Tur [OC 117] writes that the main request of this brachah is that we are asking Hashem that He prepare our parnassah (livelihood) with ease and in a permissible way. In this brachah, we praise Hashem, the Life giver, Who controls the elements and provides wind and moisture as needed in the seasons when they generally occur. We are asking Hashem for rain and therefore it is recited only when rain is actually needed in the agricultural cycle [which is in the winter months] (see Artscroll Siddur).

In this brachah, there are two possible texts that one says: either v'sain brachah (give a blessing) or v'sain tal u'mahtar l'vrachah (give us dew and rain as a blessing). Depending on whether it is the time of the year that we need the rain will determine which phrase we ask for. During the yemos hageshamim (winter months), we recite the words asking for the rain.

Since we only ask for rain when it is needed, there is a difference in halachah as to when to start asking for rain in Eretz Yisroel and in Chutz L'aretz. The Gemara [Kiddushin 69a] teaches that Eretz Yisroel is go'vah mekol ha'aratzos (higher than all the other lands) (this means either physically [Ma'arumei Sadeh] or spiritually [Marharsha & Maharam]). The Poskim explain that since Eretz Yisroel is higher it needs rain earlier (Mishneh Berurah 117:5). In Eretz Yisroel they begin saying v'sain tal at Maariv of 7 Cheshvon. In Chutz L'aretz, we start saying it at Maariv 60 days after the tekufas tishrei (autumn equinox), which comes out to either December 4 or 5 (Shulchan Aruch 117:1).

The Aruch Hashulchan [117:2] explains that really in Eretz Yisroel they should have started saying v'Sain Tal immediately after Sukkos, however, since there were people travelling home after being oleh regel, they waited some time (see Mishnah Taanis 10a). Once it was enacted this way, even nowadays that there unfortunately is no longer aliyah l'regel, the halachos of when to start remain the same. Furthermore, the Aruch Hashulchan [117:3 & 4] explains from numerous Rishonim that even though 60 days after the equinox was specifically when Baval (Babylon) needed rain, it was enacted that all of Chutz L'aretz starts asking then even though different countries need rain at different times. We continue to recite v'sain tal through Mincha on Erev Pesach (Shulchan Aruch 117:1).

If during the winter months one forgot, depending where in Shemoneh Esrei he or she is will determine the halachah. If one is still davening the brachah of birchas hashanim [and did not say Sheim Hashem at the end of the brachah], should go back to where he was supposed to say v'Sain tal and continue normally (Mishneh Berurah 117:16). If he has already finished the brachah of Birchas Hashanim [i.e. he has already said the Sheim Hashem], one should say v'sain tal during Birchas Shema Koleinu as a bakashah (request for rain) (Sefer Ishei Yisroel 23:44 & ftnt. 175 quoting Harav Chaim Kaneivsky, shlit"a). If one has finished saying the brachah of Shema Koleinu but did not start saying birchas Retzei, he should say v'sain tal before reciting Retzei (Shulchan Aruch 117:5). If one already started saying Retzei, but did not finish Shemoneh Esrei [i.e. he has said Yehei L'ratzon after Elokei Netztor, should go back to the beginning of the brachah of Birchas Hashanim and continue straight (Sefer Ishei Yisroel 23:43). If one already finished Shemoneh Esrei, he would be required to repeat Shemoneh Esrei entirely (Shulchan Aruch 117:4-5).

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