Pekudei 5784: Have You Done Your Accounting Lately?

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The Precious Donations

The parshah begins by saying אלה פקודי המשכן, these are the cheshbonos, theaccountings, of the donations for the Mishkan (Shemos 38:21). The word pekudei means counting. When you have a lot of different things to take into account and keep track of, that’s called pekudei. To build the Mishkan there was gold, there was silver, there was copper that was involved. All kinds of donations. And there has to be a cheshbon, an accounting given by Moshe Rabeinu as to what everything was used for and where everything went.

The medrash (Shemos Rabbah 51:6) says that when Moshe Rabbeinu finished the building of the Mishkan, he couldn’t figure out where all the donations went. And then Hashem revealed to him where everything was. Chazal ask a question. If Hashem trusted Moshe Rabbeinu why did Moshe Rabbeinu feel that he had to make a cheshbon? It says in the passuk לא כן עבדי משה בכל ביתי נאמן הוא, we know very well that Moshe was fully trustworthy![i]

Chazal tell us that Moshe Rabbeinu heard some of the leitzanim, the comedians telling jokes about him, “We wonder how Moshe became so rich. How could a man be involved in such a project, involving gold, silver, copper, precious jewels, and not become rich? Do you blame him if he wanted to have a little bit of wealth?” So Moshe Rabbeinu said, “Chayeichem, I swear. The Mishkan is going to be finished, and I’m going to give you a cheshbon.”He said, “Come let’s make a cheshbon, אלה פקודי המשכן משכן העדות, these are the pekudei haMishkan, these are the accountings and the cheshbonos of the Mishkan, the Mishkan Ha’eidus.

Using the Gifts Hashem Gives Us

Now, this concept of keeping a cheshbon and being on top of what you’re doing is extremely important. Rav Moshe Feinstein says that the actual cheshbon for a person is to take stock of every single thing and aspect that Hashem presented him with. Hashem grants you time to live. What did you do with that valuable time that Hashem gave you? Did you move rocks around in a forest? Is that what Hashem gave you that precious time for? Did you plant flowers? Is that what Hashem gave you the time in your life for? Did you designate any of your time to Torah and mitzvos? How much time? How much time did you waste? When Hashem gave you parnasah, how did you use that parnasah? What did you do with your money? What types of charity did you use it for?

Now, a person should not think for one second that his life is his, his time is his, his money is his, his home is his. There’s no such a thing. If Hakadosh Baruch Hu presents you with something you have to utilize it for the purpose that Hashem gives it to you for.

The Torah tells us exactly how a man has to conduct himself in his day, how he has to spend his time. For example, you have to daven to Hashem before a certain time in the morning. You can’t get up whenever you want and daven whenever you want. That’s an amazing thing. In the world, people don’t understand that, they don’t grasp that. You can’t spend your money however you want. You decide you don’t want to give tzedakah because you’re doing a building project. You’re building an addition to your house and it’s costing you a lot. A guy once told me, “I can’t give tzedakah.” I said, “Who gave you the right to steal money?” “I didn’t steal a penny!” I said, “You’re a thief.” He said, “What are you talking about?” I said, “You just told me you can’t give tzedakah because you needed four hundred grand for your addition. Do you know who gave you that four hundred grand? Hashem. You know, Hashem said there’s a chiyuv to give tzedakah. You can’t give tzedakah?! That means you’re a thief. What’s the difference between you and a bank robber?” The guy said, “I never heard of that.” I said, “Well, get smart.”

There was another guy I was trying to convince to come and learn in the night kollel. He told me, “I can’t come. I’m doing work on my house.” Work on my house? I used to meet the guy every few weeks. I would say, “Are you finished yet?” “No, no, it’s a project.” I said, “What are you working on?” He said, “I’m doing the bathroom.” “You’re making a bathroom? Very interesting. How long do you think it’s going to take?” He said, “I’m hoping – six months.” It ended up taking him a year and two months. I said, “A year and two months of your life went to the bathroom! Can you imagine that?!” I said, “You invested more than a year of your life into a john, my friend. Are you out of your mind?” He said, “No, that was important to me. It’s my time. It’s my life.” I said, “My dear friend, you’re wrong. It’s not yours. Hashem is going to someday hold you accountable for that. He’s going to say to you who gave you a right to be a ganav? I gave you the time to learn Torah every day. I gave you the time to daven three times a day. I gave you the money to give tzedakah also.” I didn’t say you can’t enjoy the money for yourself but you can’t do it at the expense of your chiyuvim, obligations.

You have to know, Rav Moshe Feinstein says, that every single one of us is going to be held accountable. How did you use your kishronos? How did you use your kochos that Hashem has granted you? Did you use them the way Hashem wanted you to?

Here is a person that loves playing ball. A lot of people like playing ball. They never grow up. They like to play ball. What do they do? They play ball all the time. Every night that they have free time, they try to put together games – I am talking about adults! The problem is you can’t get too many adults to come together every night. They have a hard time with this. They try as much as they can. Hashem is asking you, “Is that what I gave you that time for? To play ball as much as you can?” But people don’t understand this. They don’t begin to grasp it. They’re going to give an accounting for every single thing: What did you do with your life?

An Obligated Yeshivah Alumnus

A very common thing with people who learn in yeshivah and then leave yeshivah is that they think that when they leave yeshivah, they’re free. They can do what they want, how they want, and where they want. But there is nothing further than the truth! There’s no chiluk if you’re in the yeshivah or out of the yeshivah. There’s nothing wrong with a person going to work. But on Sunday you don’t work. I’ve asked this to many people. “How come you’re not in yeshivah on Sunday?” “I’ve got things to take care of.” I said, “How come you’re not in yeshivah on Shabbos?” “I’ve got to rest.” “When are you going to fulfill your chiyuvim, your obligations?”You have to fulfill your obligations. But people go through their lives, their entire lives, years upon years upon years, and they think that it’s a hefker velt. They’re going to have to answer for that. Just because a person is not in yeshivah,it doesn’t mean he doesn’t have to shteig. It’s shameful. It’s a tremendous bizayon.

I see a yungerman who learned in yeshivah and then leaves yeshivah, and he can’t come to daven in yeshivah anymore. And on Shabbos he can’t come on time. I told the guy, “What kind of a shameful thing is that? Why don’t you come on time to davening?” “Now I’m a balebus.” I said, “What? That’s why you don’t show up in yeshivah?” If I see a yungerman who left yeshivah and doesn’t show up in the beis medrash on Sunday – that’s disgraceful! A shame. A bizayon. He’s mevazeh himself berabim. That’s what he’s doing. Hashem is going to hold it against him like nobody’s business! Why didn’t you show up? What’s your excuse? You don’t work on Sunday.

It’s not pashut Rabosai. You have to understand this is a chiyuv.

Rav Hutner was once having a conversation with a person about when he could leave yeshivah. Rav Hutner told him, “You could never leave the yeshivah.” So the guy looked at him, “What?! I have to learn in yeshivah all my life?! I’m not going to be in the yeshivah all my life.” Rav Hutner said, “You could never leave the yeshivah!” “What does that mean?” the fellow asked him. Rav Hutner said, “You don’t understand what I mean. What I mean to say is you could never forsake the yeshivah. When you walk out of the yeshivah at the end of your time of learning, if you’re not taking the yeshivah with you, you failed in your life’s mission. You have to be able to take the yeshivah with you.” It doesn’t mean you learn all day. It means that you have to take the yeshivah with you. That’s what a person has to understand. It’s a very, very fundamental understanding.

Accounting on Fingers and Toes

Now, there are two hundred and forty eight mitzvos aseh, positive mitzvos, in the Torah and there are three hundred and sixty five lo sa’asehs in the Torah, things you’re not allowed to do. Chazal tell us (Midrash Tanchuma, Shoftim 19:1) that the two hundred and forty eight mitzvos aseh correspond to a person’s eivarim, to a person’s organs, to a person’s limbs. Every mitzvah corresponds to one of the organs. Chazal tell us that each organ cries out to the person and it says, “Please do mitzvos with us, שתחיה בזכותינו ותאריך ימים, so that we could live in the zechus of the mitzvah and we should have arichus yamim.”Every time a person does a mitzvah he has to know he’s making one of his organs healthy. Exercise does not give your organs any chiyus. That’s not what gives a person chiyus of arichus yamim. There are three hundred and sixty five aveiros that correspond to the person’s body. And they also cry out to a person and they say, “Please אל תעבר בי את העבירה, don’t do the aveirah with me. Don’t mess me up.” Whenever you see a person with a messed up organ that’s an indication that he lacks that mitzvah or he did an aveirah. It’s always like that. I tell people when you have a problem with one of your organs or one of your limbs, the first thing you do is to find out if you’re doing the right thing with that organ. Are you doing the mitzvos that Hashem gave you that organ for or that limb for? It’s not a hefker velt.[ii]

When people get older, they have hearing problems. What do people say? That’s just a consequence of age. As you get older, your hearing gets diminished. No. Your hearing gets diminished if you didn’t do the mitzvos with your ears and if you were doing aveiros with your ears. And so too with your eyes.

Except that there are big tzaddikim. I once heard that the Steipler davened for his hearing to be diminished. He didn’t want to be involved so much with the world. He wanted to learn. Most people that I know don’t make that request from Hashem. You want to have your hearing. You want to maintain your eyesight. You want to maintain your healthy feet and healthy arms.

An Enlightening Self-Assessment

Rabosai, you have to understand that this is how it works. Everybody has to ask himself this question. What’s my accounting? How am I doing? Do I feed and nourish my limbs with mitzvos? No? You had better get started! Hashem is going to say, “For years, I put up with you. For years, I was patient with you. I gave you healthy feet and healthy hands and a healthy mind.” And then suddenly your mind starts to become feeble, because people never thought once: are they using their minds like Hashem wants them to? People are young. Hashem has a lot of patience when they’re young. All of a sudden they get older, they get more nervous. They start dealing with all kinds of issues.

Rav Eliyahu Dessler in the sefer Michtav Mei’Eliyahu (חלק א) writes an amazing point. He says as follows: The neshamah is a living organism. The source of a person’s life is from the neshamah. He says the neshamah is nourished from every moment in time. He says every single moment a person’s neshamah opens up a unique window. And that window is now yearning, and calling, “Give me, bring to me a hashpa’ah, a spiritual hashpa’ah. Make me better. Strengthen me.” He says after a moment, that window gets locked and now another chelek of his neshamah opens up, he says, its window. And then it gets closed. Every single moment that the neshamah is in this world, it constantly has windows opening up and a person has to pour kedushah into it. A person has to pour into it something that’s going to strengthen the neshamah, that it could take with it for netzach netzachim. You’re not taking your arms to the next world. The only thing you’re taking with you is your neshamah.

The way a person puts things into that neshamah is by fulfilling mitzvos. That’s how a person puts in the right influence. Ruchniyus is what builds and establishes the soul of a person and that’s how a person goes through life.

Let’s say a person does not fulfill the will of his neshamah. It means that chelek was not mekabel a hashpa’ah at all. It remains dark. And if he did an aveirah at that moment chas veshalom, so that chelek of his neshamah is mekabel the negative hashpa’ah. When a person comes to the olam haemes after arichus yamim veshanim,that person is going to see all the ‘windows’ that he didn’t open.

I always think of this. I used to take my kids to places with little games. They have this game where things come up, and you have a little hammer, you have to hold it and try to knock down as many of those things as you can. If you miss some, you go, “Aahh! They ain’t coming back. You missed that one.” If you want to get a perfect score, every one that pops up, bop it on the head, bop it on the head, bop it on the head. I used to think, that’s mamash what life is!

You should know that the ‘window’ that opens now has nothing to do with the ‘window’ that opens up in the next world. The tachlis that a person lives for this moment is never going to come back. It does not repeat itself. That’s what a person has to know. A person has to make that cheshbon. It’s a very important cheshbon for a person to make.

Healthy Neshamah – Healthy Body

We go through life and we witness people at every turn and every twist who are suffering from all kinds of physical challenges and mind challenges. It’s all an indication of lack of health. You talk to the fools of the world. They’ll tell you it’s an indication they don’t eat properly. They don’t eat organic food. Some will tell you they don’t eat enough carbohydrates. Yesh omrim they eat too many carbohydrates. Yesh omrim you have to have different families of foods, so that you have the right tziruf. The bottom line is it’s nonsense. A healthy body is a result of a healthy neshamah.

I used to always marvel at the roshei yeshivah in Telz. When I first came here, the whole mizrach wall was full from side to side with aged people. They kept on getting older and older.  It was amazing to watch them. These were people who never did a drop of exercise in their life! Their diets consisted of all the food that they fed them in Telz, all the oily margarine and mayonnaise. They used to eat in yeshivah. I used to always marvel at them, how do these people walk? Their hands don’t shake. They were 70, they were 80. They were going strong. I’m talking all day long, from early in the morning until late at night! What was keeping them going? To me, that was the greatest proof of the power of Torah and mitzvos. That’s a siman of a healthy body. They were generally all healthy. And not because they were eating the right amount of carbohydrates. It was amazing to see! They didn’t suffer from heart conditions. Their minds were sharp.

Now, of course, we are encouraged to keep a healthy body by eating healthy foods, not overeating, watching our weight, and exercising, but none of us should think, even for one second, that our “healthy” lifestyle and diets is what determines our health. All it is a just a hishtadlus to try to keep a clean and functioning guf, but it’s ultimately Hashem Who brings chiyus to every cell in our body, not the combination of exercise and the perfect balance of proteins, fats and carbs.

Now of course, if you want to maintain horses you have to make sure they eat well. If you want to feed your dog and you want your dog to have a shiny coat, you have to make sure he eats healthy dog food full of good nutrients, full of good animal food in there. For horses, that works…but for a person?! A Yid? The mitzvos are what keeps him alive and brings him life.

Where are the Older People?

To me, it’s a clear proof. Look at Rav Shach. I remember going to see him and being blown out of my mind. He was 90 something years old and he was giving shiurim and fighting. I saw him come alive. Because all he did was Torah and mitzvos. You’ll ask any guy out there. That’s the worst ingredient, to sit by a desk bent over looking at books and little words. That’s the worst thing. It will tax your brain. It’s going to make your body feeble. You’re going to fall apart. I’ve never seen an Olympian 90 years old walking around the streets. Never! They’re long gone and buried. It amazed me when I went to a health club for a little while – when they only had men there. Once, I went to that club, and I said to the owner, “Where are the older people?” He said, “What do you mean?” I said, “Don’t old people exercise? This is the perfect place for them to come.” He said, “Do you know what happens to the joints after you do exercise for life?” He said, “The joints go.” He was an Olympian champ, this guy, a Yid, he had these joints that were all swollen. His elbows. His knees. He was the picture of a battered man. He looked like he went through the torture. And he prided himself on his prowess. There was a picture of him on the wall. There are no older folks in these places. Maybe once in a blue moon. All these guys get heart attacks.

I remember there was a fireman, a real health guy in his 40s. One day he’s not there. What happened to him? He had a heart attack.

It’s pashut. The yetzer hara fools us. What keeps you alive is the mitzvos. Our eivarim scream to us, “Keep us healthy! Give us arichus yamim.

When Neshamah Departs Olam Hazeh

The Ponevezher Rav once said over a moradige ma’aseh. One day, the Chafetz Chaim called him in and said to him, “I have to tell you something. For seventy-eight years, I’m saying every day the following tefilah אלוקי נשמה שנתת בי טהורה היא! And only today I understood what I was saying.” You hear an admission from the Chafetz Chaim?! The Chafetz Chaim gives an admission! “Only today, I chapped what I was saying.” He said: The neshamah is pure. And because it’s pure, it’s eternal. It’s forever. My neshamah was around from when the world was created and will be until the end of time. There is a short period of time that the neshamah is in this world. For seventy years, Hashem attached the neshamah to a guf. However, these years that it’s in the guf are the deciding factors for the whole eternity of that neshamah because only in this period of time am I capable, and obligated, to fill my mission, to guard the purity of the neshamah, to better it, to beautify it. Because that neshamah אשר אתה עתיד לטלה ממני, that neshamah You’re going to take away from me, that’s the neshamah that Hashem in the future is going to be להחזירה בי לעתיד לבוא, Hashem will give it back to me in the future. It’s only going to come back on the madreigah that it was on when I left this world!”

You look at older people who are about to depart this world and you think what did they do to their neshamos? What do they have to look forward to? What madreigah? How is it going to come back?

“A very short time,” says the Chofetz Chaim, ”כל זמן שהנשמה בקרבי, that’s when a person could make his neshamah better. You have to picture it as the windows opened and windows closed, windows opened and windows closed, and a person is obligated to fill those windows with mitzvos. It’s through the neshamah that the body lives.”

Hakadosh Baruch Hu should help us be able to make these cheshbonos, be able to make these pekudim, and be able to strengthen ourselves. We should ask ourselves, “How are we doing? Do we have anything to show?” If you had to leave the world right now, what would you have to show? Which one of your organs do you think did the mitzvos? Are you even aware that you do mitzvos with your organs? Many people aren’t aware of that. They don’t even think about it. They go to work. That’s what they know. Their main focus in life is on work. But keeping their health together by doing the mitzvos that Hashem granted them – that, they don’t do. What a tragedy! Because the neshamah you will leave this world with is the neshamah you’re going to have forever and forever! So it behooves us to start making a cheshbon, to start making an accounting and to think how are we doing healthwise? How are we doing with what Hashem gave us and Hashem granted us? Hopefully we can all wake up and smell the coffee

The Bottom Line

When Moshe Rabbeinu informed Klal Yisrael that he would do a careful accounting of all the donations to the Mishkan – to remove any doubts that he personally benefited from those gifts – he also taught us an important concept of making a cheshbon and giving an accounting in every important area of our lives that Hashem granted us: are we utilizing the precious time we’ve been allotted, are we directing our tzedakah dollars properly, are we setting aside enough time to learn, are we using our talents and kishronos accordingly, are we investing ourselves enough to perform mitzvos properly to give our body’s organs their literal life force and nourish them with the shefah, etc? This coming week, I will set aside a few minutes before davening to ask myself these questions, bli neder, and make a realistic plan to strengthen some of these areas. And in the zechus of committing to this daily exercise, I will also internalize how precious every moment of my day is, where my neshamah opens up a unique and irreplaceable window of opportunity for me to fill it with ruchniyus and kedushah that it wants and needs!

Part 2: The Ultimate Simcha of Purim (5778)

The Status of Mitzvas Mikra Megillah

I would like to mention an important point about the Yom Tov of Purim. The Rambam in the beginning of his sefer Yad Hachazakah writes the whole tradition of Torah sheba’al peh ish mipi ish from Moshe Rabeinu until the Rambam’s times. Afterwards, he enumerates all the mitzvos. At the end he writes the mitzvos derabanan. Before he lists the mitzvos he gives a hakdamah and this is what he says. There are some mitzvos besides the six hundred and thirteen that were nischadesh after matan Torah and the chachamim were kovea them through nevi’im, and they spread them throughout Klal Yisrael. One of the examples is mikra megillah on Purim. Some others are ner Chanukah, the ta’anis of Tisha B’Av, netilas yadayim, and eiruvin. Each one of these mitzvos has many complexities, many dikdukim. He says all of these mitzvos that we were obligated in, that were nischadesh, we’re chayav to be mekabel them and to observe them like it says לא תסור מן הדבר אשר יגידו לך ימין ושמאל – “do not deviate from the instruction that they (Neviim and Sages) will tell you to right or left.”[iii]

Now how should you view these mitzvos derabanan? Do you view them as additions to the Torah? 

We know you’re not allowed to add or detract mitzvos. That means that no one could add mitzvos and come and tell you that Hashem Himself added mitzvos to the mitzvos of the Torah. But if a beis din with a navi who lived in that time added a mitzvah derech takanah or derech gezeirah then it’s not considered a ‘tosefes’ because the rabanan never came and said that Hakadosh Baruch Hu was metzaveh to read the megillah in its proper time. If they would have said it in that fashion, it would have been prohibited to do that mitzvah! It would have been asur. But this is what they said. The nevi’im, with a beis din were mesaken and commanded to read a megillah bezmanah in order to remember the praises of Hakadosh Baruch Hu and the salvations that He did for us and that He was קרוב לשעותינו, in order to be mevarech Him and be mehallel Him and in order to notify the generations to come that it’s אמת מה שהבטיחנו בתורה כי מי גוי גדול אשר לו אלקים קרבים אליו, “who is a great nation that has Hashem close to them,” כה’ אלקינו בכל קראנו אליו, “like our Hashem, whenever we call to Him.”

The Function of Mitzvas Mikra Megillah

Now, what is the function of the reading of the megillah? What are we trying to accomplish by reading the megillah? To publicize the nes, pirsumei nisa. That’s what the purpose of reading the megillah is, lefarsem the nes of Purim through the megillah. What exactly are we trying to be mefarsem? The Rambam (ibid.) says that the purpose of being mefarsem the nes is first to thank Hashem for the great salvation that He brought to us and in order to be modia, to inform and publicize to the future generations שאמת מה שהבטיחנו בתורה, it’s true that which the Torah promised to us, כי מי גוי גדול אשר לו אלקים קרבים אליו. You hear this?

So now we’re going to study this Rambam through the eyes of the heilegeh Brisker Rav. The Brisker Rav knew how to chap the nekudah that had to be chapped in any statement, and this is what he said. He was once having a conversation with Rav Shach about this Rambam who writes that the whole purpose of the megillah is “to publicize to the future generations.” What is the function of doing that? What do we want to notify the future generations about? He said, “You have to know that the Torah is telling us that there’s going to come a time in the future history of Klal Yisrael, in the galus, when we’re going to face middas hadin, judgment for our sins and terrible gezeiros, and it’s going to be a matzav where we’re going to find ourselves very distant from Hakadosh Baruch Hu. But then we will turn to Him betefilah ubeteshuvah and in that very second Hakadosh Baruch Hu will return to us with amazing nissim and niflaos.”The Brisker Rav said, “You know when this was fulfilled? In the era of Mordechai and Esther. And all the goyim were amazed. They understood there was a terrible gezeirah on us and they understood that we had sinned to Hashem. But in three days they hung Haman in Shushan Habirah, the capital city. Three days after the gezeirah was made!כי מי גוי גדול אשר לו אלקים קרבים אליו בכל קראנו אליו. Even if you’re at the bottom of the pit, and you’re very, very far away, with teshuvah, a great yeshuah can come.”

In order to ascertain and establish and prove these words, the rabbanim made a takanah – and you’re allowed to make such a takanah.

No Shame for All Who Hope to Hashem

But the Brisker Rav didn’t stop there. Had he stopped there what I would have said is that the function of the reading of the megillah and the pirsumei nisa is to teach us the power of tefillah. That’s where I would have stopped. Right there. That’s what I would have said. Comes along the Brisker Rav and he says that this Rambam is the pshat in the famous Purim piyut called Shoshanas Yaakov. What does it say in Shoshanas Yaakov? It says להודיע שכל קויך לא יבשו, that all those who hope to you, who are mekaveh el Hashem, לא יבשו, they won’t be shamed.

So why are we doing this mitzvah? To announce to the world that שכל קויך לא יבשו ולא יכלמו לנצח כל החוסים בך, all those who have bitachon in You won’t be shamed.

When I saw this Brisker Rav a number of years ago, the lights went on! Because before the Brisker Rav, I thought the pshat was “tefillah” and I didn’t see bitachon having anything to do with this. But I see in Shoshanas Yaakov that it’s all about kivuy (hope) and chisayon (reliance), which is bitachon! בך ה’ חסיתי אל אבושה, “I seek my refuge in You, Hashem,” it says in Tehillim (31:2).

I want you to know what the Ramchal explains in Yalkut Yedias Ha’emes on the passuk בך ה’ חסיתי, in You Hashem I relied on, אל אבושה. Zugt the Ramchal, it’s known כי בשביל הקיווי שיש לישראל בזמן הגלות יהיו נגאלים, because of the kivuy that Klal Yisrael has during the time of the galus, they will be redeemed. That’s why it says כי בך חסיתי אל אבושה לעולם.[iv]

Two Types of Bitachon: Receiving and Earning

I want to explain again and to clarify further what is unique about the bitachon of Chag HaPurim. What is unique about that bitachon? I’m going to share with you a pshat from Rav Avraham ben HaGr”a (1766-1808). He explains the last passuk in Hodu from pesukei d’zimra. It says ואני בחסדך בטחתי יגל ליבי בישועתך אשירה לה’ כי גמל עלי. We always say over a famous pshat from Rav Chaim Halevi Soloveitchik. Today, we’re going to share with you a pshat from Rav Avraham ben HaGr”a. Now, listen to this because there are a lot of the yesodos here. You may hear yesodos from me sometimes, and you don’t know if there are any mekoros for these yesodos or if we just make them up from the air. Today, I will tell you a mekor for two of the famous yesodos of bitachon.[v]

Listen what he says: כשאכיר בעצמי, when I will be makir, when I will recognize about myself, היותי חסר מכל, that I am lacking everything, ושאני מוכרח לקבל הטוב, and that I am forced to be mekabel the tovah from Hashem, על צד החסד המוחלט, because of absolute chessed. You hear that? He continues: so then it’s true כי בבוא אלי הישועה, when the yeshuah shall come to me, לא אמנע מלהתעלס בה, I won’t refrain from rejoicing in it. ואני בחסדך בטחתי יגל ליבי בישועתך, however לא בשמחה שלימה, it won’t be simchah sheleimah. It’s going to be יגל ליבי בישועתך. You know what that means to say? Where do you see it’s not a simchah sheleimah? Where does it say in this passuk יגל ליבי בישעותך that it’s not a simchah sheleimah? Because it says in the passuk יגל ליבי, my heart will rejoice. It won’t be מתפרץ לחוץ. It won’t “break out” into the open. It won’t have enough koach to break out. The gilah is going to be belibi, on the inside.

אמנם, however, he says, מה שיגרום לפרסם בגילה, what is going to cause that the gilah should become publicized? When does a person publicize a nes and להראות בכלים החיצונים, and it’s demonstrated and shown in his outside keilim, his feet, his hands, his face, ‘אשירה לה? You want to know when I’m going to sing shirah with my mouth, שיר וכל תודה and גילה ברינה מרוב שמחה? The answer is: it’s only going to be כי גמל עלי.”

And what does that mean כי גמל עלי? Listen to what he says. You know what the word gamal comes from? Gemul. You know what gemul means? That’s when you earn something. When you work and somebody pays you for your earnings, that’s called gemul, tashlum gemul. Gemul is something you earn. It’s not a chessed. It’s not tzedakah. כאשר אם אזכה לקחת מצד מעשי הטובים, if I’m going to earn something because of my ma’asim tovim, I’ll be able to say, שגמל עלי בדרך גמול כפי מה שרצה הקב”ה ליחס עלינו, that’s something else.

והדברים נפלאים. It says over here there are two types of bitachon. Bitachon number one, is when I realize I’m in a pickle. I’m stuck. I have no hope. There’s nothing I can do. Let me give you some real life examples of this type of bitachon.

Pure Gift,  Partial Joy – The Story of the Renters

A fellow called me today, let’s call him Pinchas. He wanted to add to my story repertoire, so we will. Pinchas had a house in Lakewood and he rented out his basement. It wasn’t a cheap house. He needed that income from the basement. He found somebody who was willing to sign for three years. The guy was willing to sign a lease for three years! That’s pretty good. They cut the deal. The price was right. Everything was good. Nu, two years go by. The guy in the basement tells Pinchas that he’s looking to buy a house. “Okay.” “Don’t worry I’m not moving out now. I’m going to buy the house and then fix it up a little bit. I’m only going to move after the three years are up.”

One night the guy flees. The guy brings a truck and he skitches out like a mouse in the middle of the night. He doesn’t answer his phone. Pinchas calls him up, “Hello? Hello?” He found out from a neighbor that the fellow moved only eight houses away. A chutzpah! Usually in such situations you get all upset. That’s what happens. And then the yetzer hara sees the guy is vulnerable and the yetzer hara gets a person to be over kol haTorah kulah plus. He gets you with lashon hara. He gets you with rechilus. He gets with sinah. He gets you with shekarim. He gets you with ואהבת לרעך כמוך. He gets you loaded, basically. The yetzer hara loves machlokes because when he sees machlokes he sees  vulnerable people in the world, people that are just screaming, “Yetzer hara help me!” The yetzer hara says, “Don’t worry, son. I’m coming right to you. I’m going to give you special attention.” And he gets you right in the be’er shachas. He’s mored you into Gehinom she’ein kamoso.

Baruch Hashem, Pinchas called me up. I told him, “No fights. That’s the first thing. What you can do is go to beis din. You can go to beis din. Don’t get angry. Go to beis din.” So he went to beis din. He said the renter wasn’t answering his phone. Beis din called him and told the guy to come to beis din. Beis din told him, “If you don’t come by this day, you’re getting a judgment.” Ah! ויבא… And the neighbor all of a sudden came to beis din. They told beis din, “You know it’s hard for us. We can’t afford it. We had to move out. The house was ready. We’ll still try to find somebody to rent out the basement to. We hope to help him.”

They looked for somebody to replace them. So they found somebody. That somebody is not willing to take it for the whole time. Only part of the time. And that somebody is only willing to pay part of the price. So Pinchas is going to lose out. The yetzer hara says, “I’m still here my friend. Just call me up. I’m going to help you with this too.”

I told Pinchas, “Do two things. The first thing – have bitachon. Have bitachon.” I told him a similar story about a guy who called me not long ago. He had to rent his basement in the middle of a development. I have many stories like this but that was just the story that came to my mind. This guy also had a basement he had to rent out. It was a pressure for him. He had no idea how, what, where, when. He called me up and said, “How am I going to rent this thing out?” I said, “Very simple. A little bitachon.” He said, “What kind of bitachon?” He said, “There are three hundred and fifty listings in the Masa U’Matan publication alone. Why would a guy take my little dinky basement that’s not anything special?! It’s not at the end of a block. It doesn’t have a private driveway. I have nothing to offer the guy. Gornisht. Why would a guy do it?” I said, “Because Hashem is the one who arranges real estate. Hashem is in charge of all the real estate in Lakewood. Not the yeshivah and not the politico. Not Mr. Miller, the mayor, or other people. It’s all the Ribono Shel Olam.” I told the guy, “Put in one ad and im yirtzeh Hashem it’s going to happen.”

So lo and behold the guy told me, twenty-four hours later somebody from Atlanta called him. A couple wanted to move in. I said, “You’ve got to make sure that they can pay. That’s the ikar.” I said, “Do they have where to pay from? Do they have money?” Anyway, the guy’s wife had a good degree. They had where to pay from. I told him, “Grab it.” In twenty-four hours the guy found a renter and he signed. I said, “You see what I’m talking about? Three hundred and fifty listings in Masa U’Matan. Most people are being boteach in Masa U’Matan. And it sounds Jewish. They’re boteach in people. But you’re boteach in Hashem. You cut to the head of the line and nobody has any ta’anos on you. That’s the best thing. No one has any ta’anos on you.”

So I told Pinchas, “What do you have to mess around for? You don’t have to settle for this. First, I will tell you to have bitachon. Tell Hashem, ‘I need this apartment filled. I don’t want to find somebody. I’m a busy person. It’s not exactly next door to the yeshivah.’It’s a shtickel out of the way.”  I told him, “If it doesn’t work out then you can always take the partial renters.”

Pinchas called me this morning, all excited. He said, “I want to be one of the stories.” He said, “A couple came. Not only did they want my apartment and they’re going to pay my full asking price, but they said they want to repaint the whole thing, on their cheshbon! And not only that, they want to put down all new flooring.” I said, “What kind of flooring do you have there now?” He said, “Right now I have carpet. Carpet is the cheapest covering for the floor. He wants to put down a nice floor. He happens to work for some company.” I said, “You see? That’s from Hashem.” To me it’s no chiddush anymore. 

So, that’s the first kind of bitachon that Rav Avraham ben HaGr”a discusses. That’s the יגל ליבי בישועתיך. You know why? Because you realized you were choser, you realized you were lacking, you realized there was nothing you could do about it. You’re boteach in a chessed Hashem. You understood it was chessed muchlat, absolute chessed and I’m happy when the yeshuah comes but it’s יגל ליבי בישועתך.

Full Simcha – Bitachon with a Peulah

But then there’s another, a second type of bitachon and that is when a person did peulos, he did an avodah of bitachon. He did ma’asim tovim. He did tefillos. He bonded with Hashem. He connected with Hashem. Then the guy feels כי גמל עלי.

You have to know you can get chessed from Hashem, tovos from Hashem, על דרך חסד גמור. That’s when a person is not holding by being raoy to receive the tovah based on his ma’asim. But the simchah is not a simchah sheleimah.

From the beis medrash of the Gr”a, Rav Yitzchak Isaac Chaver writes, איזהו עשיר השמח בחלקו. You know what that means? He says the person who was toreach beatzmo (invested his own effort) and he was zocheh for the chessed and he didn’t have to get mishel acheirim, he didn’t have to receive chessed muchlat without working for it, that’s a שמח בחלקו. That’s the guy who really is happy. That’s the emese simchah. That’s the emese yegia kapecha your own effort, that’s the emese yegias kapayim because I worked for it. I worked on my bitachon. I connected with Hashem!

This is a very important zach.

The simchah of the yeshuah of Purim was that type of simchah. The simchah of the yeshuah of Purim was such that the Yidden worked on it. They fasted for three days. They put their bitachon in Hashem. Esther, Mordechai, they were boteach in Hakadosh Baruch Hu. Oh! You’re boteach in Hakadosh Baruch Hu? כל קויך לא יבשו. That’s why the simchah was a moradige simchah. ליהודים היתה אורה ושמחה וששון ויקר. When a person does avodas hatefilah and he’s mekarev himself to Hakadosh Baruch Hu from a matzav that’s rachok meod, he undertakes ma’asim tovim and he’s boteach baHashem, בך ה’ חסיתי אל אבושה, then you won’t have bushah.

An Immediate Response

I just want to add one more pshat from Rav Avraham ben HaGr”a on the brachah of Al Hatzaddikim. He says, what is the meaning of כל קויך לא יבשו? As we explained from the Brisker Rav, based on the Rambam, the lesson of Purim is להודיע לדורות that if a person is boteach in Hashem לא יבשו כל החוסים בך. If you’re choseh in Hashem you’re not going to have bushah.

So he says as follows. Bushah could mean shame and bushah could also mean the word boshesh, delay. He says, when we say over here, “Hashem we’re boteach in You ולא נבוש,” you know what it means? We don’t want our tikvah to be delayed in coming. כל קויך אל יבשו means it won’t be long in coming. Hashem will be ימלא משאלותינו לטובה. So the yeshuah of Purim was quick in coming – within three days, Haman was already hanging on a tree! Bushah means delaying of the yeshuah and over here it was ולא יבשו. The geulah came immediately.

There’s an interesting medrash. It says why did it take three days? The medrash (Bereishis Rabbah 91:9) says: לפי שאין הקב”ה מניח את הצדיקים בצרה יותר מג’ ימים. So if you happen to see a tzaddik is in a tzarah more than gimmel yamim either it’s not a tzarah or he wasn’t zocheh to the bitachon. What you think is a tzarah is not necessarily a tzarah. In the time of Achashveirosh it was a tzarah, a gezeirah להשמיד ולהרוג.

What we’re learning from the yeshuah of Purim is שכל קויך, that those who are metzapeh and mekaveh to the yeshuah of Hakadosh Baruch Hu, לא יבשו.

Purim is a Yom Bitachon

Hakadosh Baruch Hu should help us be zocheh to both types of bitachon. But now that we’re in the sugya of Purim – we want to be zocheh. It would behoove each person to try. We told you Purim is not a yom tefillah. It’s a yom bitachon. The tefillah of Purim is a tefillah shel bitachon. That’s what the tefillah is. There’s a tefillah bli bitachon. There’s an avodah called tefillah that a person could be zocheh to certain things and there are all kinds of tana’im to get your bakashah answered based on your tefillos. There are many conditions that have to be met. Over here, you’re not getting your bakashah fulfilled because of your tefillah. You’re getting your bakashah fulfilled because of the bitachon and what was mechazek the bitachon. A chelek of the avodah of bitachon was the tefillah itself.

Hakadosh Baruch Hu should help us be zocheh to the avodah of bitachon.

The Bottom Line

In the coming weeks before the Yom Tov of Purim, I will review the idea brought down by the Brisker Rav, that the deeper meaning behind the mitzvah of reading of the Megillah is not only to publicize the power of tefillah, but to announce to “all the future generations” the power of bitachon that comes when I work on my bitachon and I connect with Hashem. This is expressed in the words שכל קויך לא יבשו ולא יכלמו לנצח כל החוסים בך, that all those who have bitachon in Hashem will not lose out and will not be ashamed. The sublime avodah of bitachon that the Yidden actively did during Purim, enabled the Yidden of that generation to be zoiche to amazing yeshuos,because they “earned it” through the maasim tovim of their tefillos, fasting and connecting to Hashem. The simchah of making our own efforts in bitachon is what’s behind the true simcha shleimah of Purim. May we all be zoiche to experience it this coming Purim, as individuals and, collectively, as Klal Yisrael, iy”H.

[i] מִשְׁכַּן הָעֵדֻת אֲשֶׁר פֻּקַּד עַל פִּי משֶׁה, כָּל מַה שֶּׁהָיוּ עוֹשִׂין, עוֹשִׂין עַל פִּי משֶׁה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: אֲשֶׁר פֻּקַּד עַל פִּי משֶׁה. וְכָל מַה שֶּׁהָיָה משֶׁה עוֹשֶׂה עַל יְדֵי אֲחֵרִים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: עֲבֹדַת הַלְוִיִם בְּיַד אִיתָמָר בֶּן אַהֲרֹן הַכֹּהֵן, לֹא עָשָׂה אֶלָּא מִשֶּׁנִּגְמְרָה מְלֶאכֶת הַמִּשְׁכָּן, אָמַר לָהֶם בּוֹאוּ וַאֲנִי עוֹשֶׂה לִפְנֵיכֶם חֶשְׁבּוֹן. אָמַר לָהֶם משֶׁה: אֵלֶּה פְקוּדֵי הַמִּשְׁכָּן, כָּךְ וְכָךְ יָצָא עַל הַמִּשְׁכָּן, עַד שֶׁהוּא יוֹשֵׁב וּמְחַשֵּׁב שָׁכַח בְּאֶלֶף וּשְׁבַע מֵאוֹת וַחֲמִשָּׁה וְשִׁבְעִים שֶׁקֶל מַה שֶּׁעָשָׂה וָוִים לָעַמּוּדִים, הִתְחִיל יוֹשֵׁב וּמַתְמִיהַּ, אָמַר עַכְשָׁו יִשְׂרָאֵל מוֹצְאִין יְדֵיהֶם לֵאמֹר משֶׁה נְטָלָן. מֶה עָשָׂה הֵאִיר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עֵינָיו וְרָאָה אוֹתָם עֲשׂוּיִם וָוִים לָעַמּוּדִים, אוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה נִתְפַּיְּסוּ כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל עַל מְלֶאכֶת הַמִּשְׁכָּן, מִי גָרַם לוֹ עַל יְדֵי שֶׁיָּשַׁב וּפִיְּסָן, הֱוֵי: אֵלֶּה פְקוּדֵי הַמִּשְׁכָּן. וְלָמָה עָשָׂה עִמָּהֶם חֶשְׁבּוֹן, הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא יִתְבָּרַךְ שְׁמוֹ מַאֲמִינוֹ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר יב, ז): לֹא כֵן עַבְדִּי משֶׁה בְּכָל בֵּיתִי נֶאֱמָן הוּא, וְלָמָּה אָמַר לָהֶם משֶׁה בּוֹאוּ וְנַעֲסֹק בַּמִּשְׁכָּן וּנְחַשֵּׁב לִפְנֵיכֶם, אֶלָּא שֶׁשָּׁמַע משֶׁה לֵיצָנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מְדַבְּרִים מֵאַחֲרָיו, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות לג, ט): וְהָיָה כְּבֹא משֶׁה הָאֹהֱלָה יֵרֵד עַמּוּד הֶעָנָן וְעָמַד פֶּתַח הָאֹהֶל וְדִבֶּר עִם משֶׁה, (שמות לג, ח): וְהִבִּיטוּ אַחֲרֵי משֶׁה, וּמַה הָיוּ אוֹמְרִים, רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן אָמַר אַשְׁרֵי יוֹלַדְתּוֹ שֶׁל זֶה, וּמַה הִיא רוֹאָה בוֹ, כָּל יָמָיו הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מְדַבֵּר עִמּוֹ, כָּל יָמָיו הוּא מֻשְׁלָם לְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, זֶהוּ: וְהִבִּיטוּ אַחֲרֵי משֶׁה. רַבִּי חָמָא אָמַר הָיוּ אוֹמְרִים חָמֵי קְדַל דִּבְרֵיהּ דְּעַמְרָם, וַחֲבֵרוֹ אוֹמֵר לוֹ אָדָם שֶׁשָּׁלַט עַל מְלֶאכֶת הַמִּשְׁכָּן אֵין אַתָּה מְבַקֵּשׁ שֶׁיְהֵא עָשִׁיר. כְּשֶׁשָּׁמַע משֶׁה כָּךְ אָמַר לָהֶם משֶׁה, חַיֵּיכֶם, נִגְמַר הַמִּשְׁכָּן אֶתֵּן לָכֶם חֶשְׁבּוֹן. אָמַר לָהֶם בּוֹאוּ וְנַעֲשֶׂה חֶשְׁבּוֹן, הֱוֵי: וְאֵלֶּה פְקוּדֵי הַמִּשְׁכָּן.

[ii] כי יקרא קן צפור לפניך, שלח תשלח את האם. זה שאר הכתוב, מכל משמר נצור לבך כי ממנו תוצאות חיים (מש’ ד כג). אמר רב אדא, מאתים וארבעים ושמונה מצות עשה יש בתורה כמנין איברין שבאדם, ובכל יום ויום צועקים על האדם, עשה אותנו שתחיה בזכותינו ותאריך ימים. ושלש מאות וששים וחמש מצות לא תעשה כמנין ימות החמה, ובכל יום ויום שהחמה זורחת עד שהיא שוקעת, צווחת ואומרת לאדם, גוזרני עליך במי שהגיע ימיך ליום הזה, אל תעבור בי את העבירה הזאת, ואל תכריע אותך ואת העולם כלו לכף חובה. הרי שש מאות ושלש עשרה מצות. וכל מצוה ומצוה נזכר מתן שכרה, כגון כבוד אב ואם, ושלוח הקן, שכתוב בהן אריכות ימים. ויש מצות שמתן שכרה בנים, כמו שרה שאירחה את האורחים, ושונמית על שקבלה את אלישע. ויש עבירה טעונה סקילה, שריפה, הרג, וחנק. ואין לך מצוה קלה בכל המצות יותר משלוח הקן. ומה שכרה, למען ייטב לך והארכת ימים. משל למה הדבר דומה. למלך שהכניס פועלים לשדהו לנטוע ולא גילה להם שכר נטיעתן. לערב, כל מי שנטע אילן אחד, נתן לו זהוב אחד. התחילו הכל תמהין ואומרין, ומה זה שלא נטע אלא אילן אחד קל ופחות, נתן לו זהוב אחד. אנו שנטענו הרבה, על אחת כמה וכמה. ומה שכר שילוח הקן, שכרה אריכת ימים. שכר מצות שיש בהן חסרון וטורח והחיית נפשו, על אחת כמה וכמה. לפיכך לא פירש הקדוש ברוך הוא שכר עושי מצוה בתורה, שיהיו ישראל עושין אותן מעצמן, להרבות שכר. שכך שנינו, אל תהיו כעבדים המשמשין את הרב על מנת לקבל פרס, אלא הוו כעבדים המשמשין את הרב שלא על מנת לקבל פרס. לכך כתיב, מכל משמר נצור לבך, וכו’. [וז”ל הזוה”ק (ח”א ק”ע ע”ב): “בגין דאית בבר נש רמ”ח שייפין לקבל רמ”ח פקודין דאורייתא ואית בבר נש שס”ה גידין ולקבלהון שס”ה פקודין דלאו אינון אתייהיבו למיעבד ולקבל שס”ה יומי שתא ,וכו’]

[iii] וכו’ אלו הם שש מאות ושלוש עשרה מצוות שנאמרו לו למשה בסיניי, הן וכללותיהן ופרטותיהן ודקדוקיהן; וכל אותן הכללות והפרטות והדקדוקין והביאורין של כל מצוה ומצוה, היא תורה שבעל פה שקיבלו בית דין מפי בית דין. ויש מצוות אחרות שנתחדשו אחר מתן תורה, וקבעו אותן נביאים וחכמים ופשטו בכל ישראל כגון מקרא מגילה, ונר חנוכה, ותענית תשעה באב, וידיים, ועירובין. ויש לכל מצוה ומצוה מאלו פירושין ודקדוקין; והכול יתבאר בחיבור זה. כל אלו המצוות שנתחדשו–חייבין אנו לקבלם ולשומרם, שנאמר “לא תסור, מכל הדבר…” (ראה דברים יז,יא); ואינם תוספת על מצוות התורה. .ועל מה הזהירה תורה “לא תוסף עליו, ולא תגרע ממנו” (דברים יג,א) – שלא יהיה נביא רשאי לחדש דבר ולומר שהקדוש ברוך הוא ציווהו במצוה זו להוסיפה למצוות התורה, או לחסר אחת מאלו השש מאות ושלוש עשרה מצוות. אבל אם הוסיפו בית דין עם נביא שיהיה באותו הזמן מצוה דרך תקנה, או דרך הוראה, או דרך גזירה אין זו תוספת שהרי לא אמרו שהקדוש ברוך הוא ציווה לעשות עירוב או לקרות מגילה בעונתה. ואלו אמרו כן, היו מוסיפין על התורה. אלא כך אנו אומרים, שהנביאים עם בית דין תיקנו וציוו לקרות המגילה בעונתה כדי להזכיר שבחיו של הקדוש ברוך הוא ותשועות שעשה לנו, והיה קרוב לשווענו כדי לברכו ולהללו, וכדי להודיע לדורות הבאים שאמת מה שהבטיחנו בתורה, “ומי גוי גדול, אשר לו אלוהים קרובים אליו” (ראה דברים ד,ז; דברים ד,ח). .ועל דרך זו היא כל מצוה ומצוה שהיא מדברי סופרים, בין עשה ובין לא תעשה (משנה תורה, מצוות לא תעשה)

[iv] כתב הרמח”ל עה”פ “בך ה’ חסיתי אל אבושה” (תהילים עא, א), וז”ל: “ידוע כי בשביל הקיווי שיש לישראל בזמן הגלות יהיו נגאלים”, ו”המקווה, אע”פ שיש לו מעט מעשים טובים לא יבוש, שנאמר אני ה’ אשר לא יבושו קווי. וזה כי לדל יש תקוה, ומי שהוא דל ממעשים טובים, יש לו תקוה. כי ה’ מתגלה עליו ומעביר כל פשעיו, וזה סוף התיקון מגודל תקוות ישראל באורך הגלות, ובוטחים באמונה שיגאלו” (אוצרות רמח”ל עמ’ קנז, רמז)

[v] וזה שאמר ואני בחסדך בטחתי כשאכיר בעצמי היותי חסר מכל וכל ושאני מוכרח לבטוח לקבל הטוב על צד החסד המוחלט, אמת הוא כי בבא אלי הישועה לא אמנע מלהתעלץ בה אך לא בשמחה שלימה כי יגל לבי בישועתך תהיה גילת לבי בתוך קרבי לא יתאמץ כחה להראות החוצה, אמנם מה שיגרום לפרסם בגילה ולהראותו בכלים החיצונים שאשיר לה’ בשיר וקול תודה אף גילת ורנן מרוב שמחה הוא כי גמל עלי כאשר אני אזכה לכך מצד מעשי הטובים עד שיאמר שגמל עלי בדרך גמול כפי מה שרצה יתברך לייחס עלינו כאמור עד כאן דבריו (באר אברהם תהלים יג,ו)

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