Parshas Devarim/Chazon 5777
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July 28, 2017
Volume 13 Issue 28
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Dvar Torah

Making Sense of Senseless
By Rabbi Yosef Prupas  
            
The book of Devarim, otherwise known as Mishneh Torah, is referred to by the Masters of Mussar (ethics) as the "Book of Ethics" of the Torah. Moshe prepares the Jewish People with a combination of rebuke and teachings, for the life they will live upon entering Eretz Yisrael. In this week's parsha, Moshe recounts the incident involving the spies and the Jewish nation's response. When hearing the "devouring" capabilities of the Holy land, they react by saying, "Because of Hashem's hatred for us did He take us out of the land of Egypt." The strong expression, "hatred," strikes a raw cord within us, especially during this time of year. It was because of senseless hatred that the second Temple was destroyed and resulted in our present exile. In the same vein, it seems "senseless" to ascribe "hatred" to G-d's benevolent act of taking us out of Egypt!? How can we rectify the cause of that feeling which led to the sin of the spies, which in turn reared its ugly head toward the end of the second Temple in the direction of their fellow Jew, bringing destruction on the day the Jewish people committed that very sin?

Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler explains that senseless hate rises from the desire for power. Unlike the desire for pleasure, the drive to demonstrate one's superiority knows no rest. In an individual's quest for fame the very existence of another is detested, thus creating senseless hatred, and with it, destruction. If this is its cause, what is the cure?

Rabbi Dessler, in his enlightening essay, "Giving and Taking" writes the following: "The true service of G-d is built on a foundation of gratitude... This basic principle is hinted at in the first of the Ten Commandments... 'I am Hashem your G-d, Who took you out of Egypt, the house of slavery.' It is clear that mention of the release from Egypt... is intended to arouse the feelings of gratitude as a prelude to our acceptance of G-d's Torah."

Rabbi Dessler quotes a statement from our sages who say, "Whoever is ungrateful for good done to him by his friend will eventually prove ungrateful for the good done by the Holy One, blessed He." His teacher, Rabbi Nochum Velvel Ziv explained that one who acquires and fosters the precious quality of gratitude to others will not only give thanks to G-d, but will feel with all his heart and soul how much he owes Him for the manifold bounties he has received, and continues to receive every day of his life. By training oneself to be a "receiver," through a genuine expression of gratitude to a fellow Jew, and not a "taker," it enables one to truly appreciate the good that G-d bestows upon him. In this way the person can become attached to Hashem through love, the highest achievement of the human soul.

We can learn from the above that the cause for senseless hatred stems from complete ingratitude. Lack of appreciation of our fellow Jew translates into lack of appreciation of G-d, and vice versa. How ironic is it that the very example that G-d used to inspire feelings of gratitude, was used by the Jewish people at the incident of the spies as an example of the "hatred" of G-d. Moshe admonished the Jewish Nation, "you are ungrateful and the children of those who are ungrateful." When all we are concerned about is ourselves, than we become haters. But if we learn how to be true givers, and in turn, grateful receivers, than we transform ourselves into a loving people and therefore true lovers of Hashem. May we imbue ourselves with this lesson and correct the cause of senseless hatred, thereby bringing Moshiach and the third Temple, speedily in our day.


 
Dvar Halacha
Laws of the Nine Days
By  Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi

It is prohibited to wear new or freshly laundered clothing, in order to show signs of mourning. This prohibition applies to men, women, and children who have reached the age of chinuch [i.e. can understand the concept of mourning]. This includes all outer clothing [e.g. shirts, pants], coats, towels, tablecloths, and bed sheets. According to Harav Moshe Feinstein, zt"l, one may wear freshly laundered undergarments (Shu"T Rivivos Ephraim 3:340). Additionally, one may give fresh linen for a guest sleeping at his home (Laws of Daily Living, The Three Weeks, pg. 88).

One may wear any clothing that is not freshly laundered. Therefore, if one wore clothing before the Nine Days, he can wear it during the Nine Days. There is a dispute amongst the Poskim how long one needs to wear them. Harav Y.S. Eliyashiv, zt"l, holds for 30 minutes (Laws of Daily Living, The Three Weeks, pg. 85). Harav Shmuel Kamenetsky, shlit"a, holds that it is not dependent on how much time one wears them, rather as long as while he was wearing them he is not thinking about that he is wearing a freshly laundered shirt (Koveitz Halachos, Bein Hamitzarim, 11:27). Wearing many pairs of clothing at once does not help, unless he is sweated up (Koveitz Halachos, Bein Hamitzarim, 11:28).

There is a machlokes haposkim if one who did not prepare enough clothes beforehand, does the option of switching his clothing [numerous times] on Shabbos [when it is permitted to wear freshly laundered clothing] so that he may wear those clothing during the week. According to Harav Shmuel Kamenetsky, shlit"a, one may do so. It is not considered hachanah (preparing on Shabbos for weekday) because he is benefiting from wearing the clothing at the time (Koveitz Halachos, Bein Hamitzarim 11:29).

Another option available is to place your clothing on a floor which is not freshly cleaned [but does not have to be definitely dirty] (Koveitz Halachos, Bein Hamitzarim 11:30). Additionally, one may step on his clothes or sleep on them, or place them together with dirty laundry [e.g. in a hamper] to make the clothing not fresh (Laws of Daily Living, The Three Weeks, pg. 87).

Bathing, swimming, and showering for pleasure, even in cold water, is prohibited. Refraining from these activities and being a little uncomfortable is in order to remind ourselves about the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash (Shulchan Aruch & Rama 551:16).

One who showers daily, and finds it very difficult not to shower, may possibly take a non-hot shower with soap (Koveitz Halachos, Bein Hamitzarim, 14:4). One does not have to have an exclusively cold shower; one may add some hot water in order to take away the chill. One who normally takes a hot shower every Erev Shabbos (Friday) may take a hot shower on Erev Shabbos of the Nine Days (Halachos of Three Weeks [Rabbi Shimon Eider, zt"l] pg. 13, # 7).

Swimming for pleasure is prohibited even for very young children (Laws of Daily Living, The Three Weeks, pg. 96), however, they may play in a sprinkler (Koveitz Halachos, Bein Hamitzarim, 14:3).

Construction or decorating should be postponed until after the Nine Days (Shulchan Aruch 551:2). Included is planting for pleasure, or buying plants for decorative purposes. Building for basic dwelling purposes, to prevent damage, and basic upkeep of a house or for a mitzvah is permitted (Laws of Daily Living pg. 97- 98).


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