Ve’zot Haberacha/Simchat Torah

Leilui Nishmat Yaakov Ben Sara by Ezra&Sarah Ashkenazi and family

Ve’zot Haberacha/Simchat Torah

At the end of last weeks perasha Haaznu (32;46-47), Moshe is speaking to B'enei Yisrael before he dies..."Apply your hearts to all the words that I testify against you today, which you are to instruct your children, which you are to be careful to perform all the words of this Torah, for it is not an empty thing for you, for it is your life and through this matter shall you prolong your days..." Ramban says on this that this encompasses all of Jewish history because as Jews our purpose in this world is to have children and to instruct them and teach them the ways of the Torah because education of our young children has always been the key to our survival as a Jewish nation.

Rashi says, that the Torah is our life and if someone finds it to be unsatisfying, then the failure stems from that person because the Torah is not lacking. Rashi is saying that if the Torah doesn't intrigue and challenge that person then it must be that they didn't apply themselves properly to really learn. We pray every morning as part of our everyday prayers..."Vehaarev na Hashem elokenu et divre toratecha bephenu" which means..."sweeten for us Hashem our G-D the words of your Torah in our mouth...". This prayer should encourage us to learn more so we may achieve that sweetness from learning Torah.

Our attitude plays a critical role in the success of acquiring Torah. If someone wants to learn Torah, he must first have a desire to achieve success in Torah and must be willing to work hard to achieve his goal. The study of Torah will ultimately be the most rewarding thing in your life. In 1945 when the Holocaust finally ended, a thirteen year old boy who managed to survive the war alone, landed safely on the shores of America. Because of the war, this boy missed out on his early schooling years as a child. This boy had a very strong desire to go to yeshiva and study Torah but he didn't even have an aleph bet education. He was fortunate to befriend a family that took him in. He tried to enroll in one Yeshivah after another but none of them would allow a thirteen year old boy to sit in the first grade class to learn the basics. After many attempts, he decided that he would try one last school and again the principal turned him down. After that final rejection,he turned to the principal and made this somber request...He asked the Principal with tears in his eyes..."Can you please write me a note stating that I came to you and asked to be accepted in your Yeshivah, so that I could learn Torah and you told me that you couldn't accommodate a thirteen year old boy to sit in a first grade. Please see to it that when I die, the Chevrah Kadisha buries me with that note in my hand, so that I can come before Hashem and tell Him that at least I tried to the best of my ability to learn Torah but wasn't able to because of my dilemma". When the principal heard this heartbreaking plea from the boy, he jumped from his chair, embraced the boy and together they both cried. The very next day, this boy was learning Torah with boys who were nine years younger than him. He was finally doing what he has been striving to do...to Learn Torah! Today he's a Talmid Chacham, who for almost 50 years has been teaching Torah to eager young men in Yerushalaim, who like himself, have a strong desire to achieve Torah knowledge!"

Rabbi Twersky makes an interesting observation on perek 33 passuk 4 that reads..."The Torah that Moshe commanded us is the heritage of the congregation of Jacob". Rabbi Twersky is saying that "Torah is like an inheritance and its the parents responsibility to see that their child's inheritance does not fall into despair as a result of neglect. The failure to preserve a child's Torah inheritance for him is a serious dereliction"...This dereliction will not only affect that child but all the generations that will ultimately come from that child! When we deprive a child today of his Torah education for any reason, weather it be for financial or behavioral reasons, we have to be very sensitive to what we are doing. By making a decision for this one child, we must realize that we're setting off a ripple effect that will have a negative impact on all the future generations that will ultimately come from that child.

In the late 18th century Leon Trotsky joined Karl Marx to start the communist Revolution. When Trotsky known then by the name of Leibal Davidovich Bronstein was a young boy, he was somewhat mischievous when his father died making him a yitom (orphan) with a struggling mother trying desperately to control him. The Rebbe at Trotsky's Yeshvah also couldn't control this boy and made the decision to expel him from school. The Rebbe's decision came back to haunt him because many years later as history showed Trotsky and Karl Marx were responsible for millions of lives that suffered under the harsh yoke and oppression of communism.

How appropriate that this Perasha also ends the cycle of reading the Torah which brings us to the end of Succot and the very joyful holiday of Simchat Torah....where men, women and children celebrate the love of our Torah by dancing and singing with that gift that Hashem gave to the Jewish people through our Rabbi Moshe Rabenu at Har Sanai. This gift doesn't come for free and with no strings attached because each one of us has an obligation to take advantage of the Torah by learning it every day. We must keep the words of our Torah close to our hearts, so that we can live by them every day and so we may benefit from its instructions for our lives and through our children and grandchildren's lives.

We all know that the main theme of this chag of Sukkot and Simchat Torah is simchah, as it is called zeman simchateinu – the time of our joyfulness and exultation, and we have been commanded (Devarim 16:15), “Vehayita ach samei’ach – And you should be – solely – in a state of happiness.”

The question is that being besimchah is an all-year-round mitzvah, so why do we have a specific mitzvah to be in a state of simchah during Succot more than any other time of the year? Seemingly bothered by this question, the Rambam (Hilchot Lulav 8:12) wrote that though there is a mitzvah to be joyous during every Yom Tov, during Succot we find that in the Beit Hamikdash there was a state of great joy and happiness. But the question remains, what is so special and unique about Chag haSuccot?

The answer is that Succot is actually the simchah-source of the entire year! The Baal Hatanya explains it this way: the simchah of Succot can be likened to a concentrate; just as using a little concentrated juice will enable a person to make an entire bottle of drink, so too, the simchah we can draw from the simchah of these days Succot to enrich all the days of the year with happiness and joy. In fact, the talmidim of the holy Arizal write that one who will be in a state of simchah, be happy-hearted and not have any distress during the course of this holy chag, is guaranteed a good year, and will be incessantly happy!

But being happy during this chag is more than just a segulah. Whereas during the course of the year there are times when our happiness is to be limited or even restrained, such as when we repent and say viduy as we are pained by our sins, or the like; however, during Succot and Simchat Torah we are not allowed to have even a slight lack of simchah not even for a moment! We are commanded to be happy and have only joy – ach samei’ach.

The simchah on Succot is so crucial that even if someone, chas veshalom, stumbled and transgressed the most serious and terrible of sins after Yom Kippur, and he wants to do teshuvah, he is not allowed to pour his heart out in repentance by saying viduy and being pained! He must not let anything get in the way of his being besimchah! Rather, he has to constrain his ill-feelings until after the Chag, when the time comes that he will be allowed to say viduy and offer his supplications.

May we all merit to always be able to learn Torah and may we be worthy to have our children and grandchildren follow in the ways of the Torah and May we truly feel the Simcha of these holidays until we see the arrival of Mashiach in our days! Amen!

Shabbat Shalom and Tizku Leshanim Rabot!

Rabbi Amram Sananes as written by Jack Rahmey

Leiluiy Nishmat....

Eliyahu Ben Rachel Rabbi Shimon Chay Ben Yaasher

Sarah Bat Chanah Esther Bat Sarah

Shulamit Bat Helaina Rabbi Meyer Ben Chana

Batsheva Bat Sarah Esther Rafael Ben Miriam

Rav Haim Ben Rivka Moshe Ben Mazal

Yitzchak Ben Adele Avraham Ben Mazal

Chanah Bat Esthe Ovadia Ben Esther

Moshe Ben Garaz Rahamim Ben Mazal

Avraham Ben Garaz Avraham Ben Mazal

Yaakov Ben Rachel Avraham Ben Kami

Meir Ben Latifa Moshe Ben Yael

Malka Bat Garaz Mordechai Ben Rachel

Yaakov Ben Leah

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