Thursday, September 22, 2011

the response of hester panim

1. Every Shabbos brings into the world the potential for all that will unfold in the upcoming week. R' Leibele Eiger writes that this Shabbos is therefore the last real day of the year, as all that will happen during the upcoming week until Rosh haShana will be set on this day.

(Similarly, the Shabbos before Rosh Chodesh is when we usually recite birchas hachodesh as the potential for the upcoming month comes into the world on that Shabbos. The exception is te Shabbos before chodesh Tisrei where we do not bentch rosh chodesh because bri'as ha'olam was not preceded by a Shabbos.)

2. The meforshim struggle to make sense of the rasha's response to the tochacha: "Shalom yi'hiye li ki b'sherirus libi eiliech..." M'mah nafshach -- if the tochacha means something to the rasha, then why will he think he will have shalom? And if the tochacha had no effect, then what good will the threats in the rest of the parsha do?

The sefer l'Horos Noson explains the pasuk in light of Chazal's teaching that "Gadol hashalom," as Hashem promises to go easy even on idolators so long as there is peace among them. The rasha who hears the tochacha is scared, but he thinks he has an out: "Shalom yi'hiye li," I'll play nice with others and foster shalom and achdus, but I'll do it for the purpose of, "Ki b'sherirus libi eiliech," because I want to continue to be a rasha and not be punished.

Hashem is willing to ignore everything else when shalom is truly valued; however, if making peace is just being used as a "matir" to try to get Hashem to overlook other problems, then no dice.

3. The Torah in VaYeilech descibes how the idolator will finally come to recognize, "Al ki ain Elokai b'kirbi metza'uni kol ha'ra'os ha'eileh." Sounds like we are dealing with someone who is engaged in teshuvah or at least on the road to teshuvah, someone who realizes that Hashem does not approve of what he is doing. Yet, Hashem's response (31:17) seems far from welcoming: "V'anochi haster astir panei... al kol ha'ra'ah asher asah." Why is this ba'al teshuvah or potential ba'al teshuvah met with even more punishment, with Hashem hiding? Why slam the door in his face?

Ramban answers that the teshuvah here is incomplete -- it's a teshuvah b'lev, an introspective realization, but not a teshuvah that is accompanied by any verbal commitment, viduy, or action. That teshuvah is enough to stop the harsh punishments of the tochacha, but not enough to cause Hashem to come out of hiding (kavyachol) and reveal the light of geulah.

Yet the question is still troubling. The gemara (Kid 49) says that if a rasha is mekadesh a woman on the condition that he is a tzadik, the kiddushin is chal (m'safeik) because perhaps a thought of teshvah passed through the rasha's mind and that is enough to change his staus to tzadik. Why not apply the same standard here?

R' Tzadok says a pshat that you have to be R' Tzadok to say, and it all hinges on the one little word "al" in the pasuk. R' Tzadok says the pasuk does not mean that Hashem will hids his face because of the evil done by this rasha. Aderaba -- the pasuk means that Hashem will hide his face from the evil done by the rasha and refuse to look at it! Despite the rasha having only a hirhur teshuvah b'lev, Hashem is willing to overlook and hide himself from seeing the misdeeds.

I would answer for the Ramban that perhaps once a person has come to the point that they recognize that they had been on the wrong path, they already have a hirhur teshuvah, continuing to remain in that state of hirhur teshuvah without translating it into some concrete action or change is indeed a further indictment. The gemara in Kiddushin is speaking only about the immediate effect this first step of hirhur has on the individual's status. The Ramban is speaking about what happens when this first step is never more than a first step.

4. One final halachic point. The Rambam has an interesting din describing hakhel (Hil Chagiga 3):
אפילו חכמים גדולים שיודעים כל התורה כולה, חייבין לשמוע בכוונה גדולה יתרה.
Super-kavanah (kavanah gedolah y'seira)! Do you find such a din anywhere else? And where did the Rambam get this from?


  1. Anonymous1:55 AM

    1. a tohu v'bohu Shabbos, while the
    unsuspecting quietly nap?

    >>>2. The meforshim struggle..."
    why? is this not simply a case where the tochacha would scare, but that the man/woman, family, tribe think to mevatel their
    deviance in the obedience of the majority...not so! al pi Hashem

    3. thus if the newlywed suffeik tzaddik fails to take more than a
    first step, Hashem will hide His face from that marriage...

    4. 'chemla g'dola viyseira'-- perhaps great sages are to greatly
    concentrate pity on the
    phenomenon of their boundless Torah
    confined to an occasional & partial
    & simple & ceremonial reading?

  2. great unknown11:31 AM

    suggestion: since "anoshim lilmod", and the chachomim gedolim already know "everything", they are obligated to focus to a level where even they will learn something new.

    (when a ba'al tshuva complains to a rebbi that it's easy for the rebbi because he already "knows it all", a standard reply is that: a) that's not true; and b) that just makes it harder.)

    I'm certain you already thought of the parallel v'chol ha'marbeh le'sapair bi'yetzi'as mitzrayim...

  3. From the post: "One final halachic point. The Rambam has an interesting din describing hakhel (Hil Chagiga 3):
    אפילו חכמים גדולים שיודעים כל התורה כולה, חייבין לשמוע בכוונה גדולה יתרה.
    Super-kavanah (kavanah gedolah y'seira)! Do you find such a din anywhere else
    " ?

    As for the "super"( "Gedolah Yeterah") part, I'll do you one better, from Hilkhot Teshuvah 10:5[3]:
    וכיצד היא האהבה הראויה: הוא שיאהב את ה' אהבה גדולה יתרה רבה, עזה עד מאוד, עד שתהא נפשו קשורה באהבת ה', ונמצא שוגה בה תמיד ...
    In English:
    "What is the proper [degree] of love ? That a person should love God with a very great and exceeding[note: as opposed to only "exceedingly great" in Hil. Chagigah 3:6] love until his soul is bound up in the love of God. Thus, he will always be obsessed with this love as if he is lovesick" ...

    So that would be a "Super-duper-Ahavah" with which we should love God ?

  4. chaim b.10:35 AM


    When it comes to ahavas Hashem, we need a baseline definition. I love hamburgers. I love my wife. Those are obviously two very different types of love -- where does love of G-d fit in when we speak of ahavas Hashem.
    When it comes to kavanah, we already have definitions -- we know the sugya of mitzvos tzerichos kavana or ain tzerichos kavanah. There seems to be no reason to create a new standard of super-kavanah, unless a makor for such an idea exists.

    G.U. -- I'm not sure how they gain anything new from a kri'as haTorah. It seems from the Rambam's continuation there that the idea is to treat hakhel as a re-experience of mattan Torah. The kavanah yeseirah seems to go hand in hand with being attuned to the experience (that's my guess at least.)

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