Parashas Nitsavim – 5779 Winning the Din

The Pasuk says: “You stand this day, all of you, before the Hashem your God, Your heads, your tribal leaders, your elders, and your officers, every person in Israel. Your babies, your wives and the convert that is inside your camp, from your woodcutter to your water drawer. to enter in the covenant of the Hashem your God, which Hashem your God is concluding with you this day, with its sanctions”

There are a few difficulties with the Pasuk: 1) “This day”, if it’s such an important day, why not inform us which day it is? 2) “All of you” means that every person had to attend, so why does it repeat by saying “Every person in Israel” and why denominating every possible category of people? 4) What about the sick people, the women that were giving birth etc. how was it possible for them to attend?

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai’s Midrash points out that from “your tribal heads” till “your water drawer” are 10 levels of people that include every possible Jewish person. Then why repeat “Every person in Israel”?

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai answers: this attribute is intentionally disclosed to inform us, that although I have appointed for you heads, judges, elders, and law officers, you are all equal before me, as it is stated “Every person in Israel.” Before Hashem there’s no difference between the most exalted and learned Rabbi and the water drawer who only has time to go to Shul for the prayers. In our society, the social ladder impacts our judgement, we’re drawn to respect the rich and the important, but don’t even see the poor, the afflicted, the orphan and the widow. Though the Zohar states clearly, that in a congregation the prayer of the congregants are accepted because of the prayers of the poor, which are among them. Hashem doesn’t let any Angel “touch” the prayer of the poor and the afflicted, they get to Hashem without any interference.

Besides, when a rich person “helps” the poor, it’s called “Tsedaka”, which doesn’t mean “charity”, but means “Justice”. It’s intriguing, as the Torah is extremely severe with the prohibition of stealing’ because by working to earn his money, the person’s soul becomes attached to his belongings. Therefore, stealing is in part a level of killing. Then, when a person gives away his hard-earned money, why shouldn’t it be considered as “charity”?

The Zohar provides a shocking answer. When a person gives money to the needy, “Who’s helping who?”, the Zohar says the poor helps the rich. As the rich person only shares with him some “worldly possessions”, which benefits have a very limited scope, while the poor provides him “Eternal benefits”, as he saves him from 2

the “Judgement day” and the fire of Gehinom. Hashem says, I have purposely created the poor to enable people to inherit the “world to come”. So, let me ask you again, “Who’s helping who”? that’s the reason Tsedaka is called “Justice” and not “Charity”. The benefits of the rich by far exceeds the benefits of the poor. Even though the poor has an immediate benefit but seemingly not the rich, is that the reason behind such a disparity of outcomes?

The Zohar explains: Hashem is responsible for the well being of all his creatures, and therefore was supposed to provide even to the poor. However, out of His infinite Goodness, He requested that the rich help the poor so that in return the poor will help the rich by removing some of the punishment in the afterlife. Though, by giving Tsedaka the rich accomplishes a few Mitzvos: 1) he’s accomplishing the will of Hashem to help the poor. 2) he, somehow, does Hashem’s work. 3) he shows his trust in Hashem by believing this is what’s requested of him.

The Rambam warns: if you harbor ill feelings toward the needy, you’re a Rasha, a wicked, a miscreant. Be very careful as there’s a covenant between Hashem and the poor, “whenever he calls, I will listen” as stated in Exodus 22:26 [pay attention to those numbers]. The Tur also mentions it in Shulchan Aruch [Y.D 247:1]. This is not Kabala but Halacha, and therefore we must be very careful with our interaction with poor people as the Zohar says, they are the closest to Hashem.

Most afflictions and duress we encounter in our lives is mostly due to our lack of respect for the poor and the needy. In reverse, some people are barely Torah observant and are nevertheless very successful. In part, it is because of the way they treat the poor and the needy and how they attend to their needs. This Mitzva is the foundation of the Torah. It is the shortest way to be close to Hashem and to receive His blessings.

A person can come out victorious from the Judgement of Rosh Hashana and be a righteous person that deserves all the blessings, or he was born under the best Mazal, but his life is only aches and pains, a slow agony, why? Very likely because a poor person was offended and ended up pouring his heart to Hashem. The result is immediate, unlike other sins.

This is the reason why the Pasuk, besides mentioning “Every person” still described the 10 categories of people that were present at the covenant. Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai explains, the ten levels of people, are five corresponding to five. In other words, just as the 10 commandments that were divided in 2 groups of 5, so are the 10 levels mentioned in the Pasuk. The first and the last correspond to each other. So, the “Heads”, the most exalted and holy are first in their column, while the “Water drawers” are first of the second column. So, the “Heads” are next to the “Water drawers”, which are poor, unlearned and sometimes not with the best manners. Despite that, the Torah put them on top of us. Why? because of their proximity to Hashem, just as the most Exalted and Holly Rabbis. 3

Now it’s self-explanatory why the Pasuk had to also mention “Every person in Israel” to symbolize the traits of love and unity we must have towards our fellows. We shall care that each family has it needs. In return, the needy will pray for those who helped him, and will immediately be showered with Hashem’s blessings. This is the secret of a harmonious and successful Nation.

The Zohar says: Hashem tells the rich; it is My duty to feed the poor, though please lend me money and I will return it. Giving money to a poor is a mark of trust towards Hashem and therefore will be rewarded with blessings and success. On the other hand, refusing is illustrating a poor level of trust in Hashem and its reward is well deserved. If a banker would guarantee you a loan, wouldn’t you feel secured? But when the Kings of kings who created this entire world and gave you the means to enjoy many of its pleasures, you fail Him? Understandably, the unraveling won’t be to rosy.

Tsedaka is our foundation, this is our mean to share a part of ourselves, and the way to express our unwavering trust in Hashem. When a person presents himself with these attributes on Rosh Hashana, there’s only one possible outcome: Victory in the sweetest possible manner. That’s the reason the Pasuk says “This day”, which is the day of Rosh Hashana, the day of judgment. The proof being that all Bnei Yisrael were at the covenant, “there were no sick people” because when we attend each other’s needs, Hashem protects us and blesses us. There were no cripples, not a blind or deaf person, or anyone with any other form of sickness in the Nation of Israel. When we are One only then can we connect with the One above.

Add to this, if you help a needy person before Rosh Hashana and expressly and humbly ask him to pray for you and your family, you will be showered with blessings. This is one of the most direct way to reach Hashem!

I wish you all a Year of Health, Success, Happiness and all your prayers should be answered, and we shall all welcome the Mashiach very soon.

Rabbi Fridmann

By Rabbi Fridmann * [email protected] * 305.985.3461

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