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Parshas Nitzavim 5758 - '98

Outline Vol. 2, # 46

by Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein

This issue has been dedicated by Shimshon, Reuven and Malcah Formey in honor of the birthday of Chana (Roxanne) Formey.

Soul Searching -- Chodshei Hashanah Vol. 2, Part 29

Jewish sources say that there is a fundamental difference between Judaic studies and secular studies: The academician believes that his studies are advancing, strides are being made, accomplishments in the field are leading to new developments. The Jew, however, is trying to return to something.

The Sefer Hayashar of Rabbenu Tam is one of the classic ethical texts from the middle ages. In the introduction, Rabbenu Tam explains that he studied the other texts available with great interest, but came to the conclusion that one could not rely upon such works alone. Instead, it was necessary to assemble a composition of his own thoughts.

Rav Yerucham Levovitz dwelt on these words. People feel that a stirring speech or a powerful text is sufficient to arouse the multitude to correct their ways, but Rabbenu Tam indicated that it is not so simple. Just as one medication cannot treat every symptom, so, too, people have different varieties of spiritual maladies, and need different treatments. Each person should put his own thoughts together until he composes his own "Sefer Hayashar!" (Da’as Torah, Parshas Ki Savo, pp. 55-56.)

Elsewhere, Sefer Hayashar states: There are two types of knowledge. First, the soul is able to understand everything in the world. Secondly, it can know itself. This is called the "knowledge of knowledge." By knowing itself, the soul can know everything, for everything is included within it. (Sefer Hayashar, end of Fifth Gate.)

It is interesting that the study of human consciousness has led modern researchers to conclude that many of the complex structures of the universe can only be understood by studying the human mind. (Cf. Prof. Roger Penrose, "Shadows of the Mind.") Of course, this is not our subject here, rather, that each person needs to examine his own spiritual difficulties, and consider solutions for them. By knowing one’s self, one becomes empowered...


Hayom Haras Olam -- The Birthday of the World

Rebbe Eliezer was of the opinion that the world was created at Rosh Hashanah time. Actually, the date was the 25th of Elul; the first of Tishre was the sixth day -- the day that man was created. (Pirke D’Rebbe Eliezer.)

Chasom Sofer (quoted in M’vakshei Torah, Vol. 3, p. 355) asked the following: Ramban explains that all matter was created at one instant; each entity took on its actual form, however, on a particular day. If so, why don’t we celebrate man’s beginning on the first day of creation? The answer is that man, by nature, makes mistakes, and is inclined transgress. If so, by his very creation he is headed for destruction, and would bring the entire world to destruction... Prior to creation, however, Hashem conceived of Teshuva -- the ability for man to change himself. Therefore, Rosh Hashanah was fixed on the day in which man was judged and forgiven. This is the day in which Teshuva was actualized -- and the continued existence of the world was secured.

Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein
11 Kiryas Radin
Spring Valley, NY 10977
Phone: (914) 362-5156

Good Shabbos!

Text Copyright © '98 Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein and Project Genesis, Inc.



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