In our last
paper, we discussed the great simchah of Sukkos. Still, the entire period
is not only filled with rejoicing. Because the very nature of the Sukkos
rejoicing concerned the Beis Hamikdosh services, we are today at a loss.
This loss is mentioned daily during Sukkos in the Musaph prayer: "Due to
our sins, we are exiled from our land... unable to fulfill our obligations..."
itself reminds us of the folly of the material world; and it is fitting that
the book of Koheles ("Vanity of vanities, all is vanity...") is read at this
Where Can Advice Be Found?
We live in
an orphaned generation; confusion abounds. Those who don't seem confused
may perhaps be the most confused, for they have devoted their life's work
to worthless endeavor. Where is true counsel to be found?
not a creation of our own minds, nor is every Rabbi a Gadol Batorah (one
of the generation's authorities). Titles are meaningless; everyone can call
himself or his Rabbi the sage and genius. Many generations ago, the Kav Hayashar
(circa 1700), decried the abuses of the rabbinate. How often the truly great
masters are belittled and given insufficient recognition... Today, the young
judge the elderly, the student judges the teacher...
the main struggle of the evil inclination: to limit and confuse the mind
of the one serving Hashem. In this way it will lessen and limit the lofty
spiritual heights of his service..." The Slonimer Rebbe of Jerusalem, Nesivos
Shalom, 5762 (1982), p. 11
One of the
well known rabbis in our age said that real simchah is associated with the
removal of one's doubts, leading to clarity of thought and purpose.
Let it be a Song (Zemurasa T'hei)
Tractate Beiya, 24a. Abaye said, "Why did we state definitively: 'This is
the law,' which indicates controversy? What was the controversy? Everyone
had agreed." "What difference does it make to you?" He answered: "Learn the
Talmud; let it be a song (zemurasa t'hei)."
merely learn the Talmud by rote, as if it were simply a song? Without analysis,
without knowledge of the sources of the ruling and the logic behind them,
our studies amount to little more than sweet music. (See Meiri).
of pilpul (rigorous Talmudic discussion) is great. Clarity in Torah knowledge
only comes about through deep analysis. The Ari Zal, the great mekubal, would
learn pilpul until he would sweat. Sweating in pilpul, he would say, is a
great way to destroy chitzonim (external forces). The Chasom Sofer used this
to explain the word "Zemurasa." Our songs and praises are called "zemiros."
The language means "cutting" -- cutting through the external forces.
The Strong Hand of Moshe (Last Verse of the Torah)
the tablets, which would force the people to acquire knowledge through their
own diligence. After Moshe died, seven hundred laws were forgotten; they
were returned through the pilpul of Osniel ben Knaz. Only through broad
discussion and analysis, can the truth really come out.
does it make to you?" Abaye answered: "Learn the Talmud; let it be a song
(zemurasa t'hei)." Let it become "zemiros" -- cutting -- that is, cutting
through the forces of distraction and confusion, cutting through to clarity
of purpose, dedication of mind and spirit, building of character. (See Toras
Moshe of Chasom Sofer, parshas Brocha)
Chaim of Volozhon describes "atzas hatorah" (counsel of the Torah): When
a person has a difficult decision to make, he should study Torah intensely,
until it appears to him that he is learning for its own sake. Then, immersed
in holy meditation, he should make the decision. (Siddur Hagra)