Once, on Thursday of the week in which Parashat Vayetze was
read, a chassid came to take leave of R' Chaim Hager z"l of Kosov
(the "Torat Chaim"; 1795-1854). Before leaving, the chassid
mentioned that he planned to be in the town of Zablutov, where R'
Chaim's brother lived, for Shabbat Parashat Vayishlach. "So you
plan to be in Zablutov for Shabbat Parashat Vayishlach?" the
rebbe repeated, but he made no other comment.
The trip did not work out as the chassid planned, and he was
forced to return to Kosov. He appeared before R' Chaim, and he
asked: "If you knew that I would not make it to Zablutov, why did
you not say anything?"
R' Chaim responded, "You had to learn a lesson. We read in
Parashat Vayetze (28:20), `Then Yaakov took a vow, _laimor_, "If
G-d will be with me . . ."' What is added by the word, `laimor'?
It means, `to say.' Yaakov took a vow that wherever he went and
whatever he did, he would say, `If G-d will be with me.' Since
you did not say, `I hope to be in Zablutov, if G-d will be with
me,' I had a feeling that your trip would not succeed." (Quoted
in Otzrot Tzaddikei U'geonei Ha'dorot)
"Yaakov departed from Beer Sheva vayeilech Charanah / and he
went toward Charan." (28:10)
Rashi writes: Any word that requires a "lamed" at the beginning
may instead have a "heh" at the end. [Here, for example, instead
of "le'Charan," the Torah says, "Charanah."]
R' Zvi Elimelech Shapira z"l (1843-1924; the "Bluzhover Rebbe")
asks: Why is the form with the "heh" better than the form with
the "lamed"? Also, what is added by the word, "vayeilech / he
went"? The verse would mean the same thing without that word!
He answers: Our verse was written with four extra letters: vav,
yud, and kaf of "vayeilech" and heh of "Charanah." (The lamed of
"vayeilech" is needed to convert "Charanah" to "le'Charan.")
These four letters are the ending letters of the phrase (Tehilim
91:11): "Ki malachav yetzaveh lach" / "He will charge his angels
to you, [to protect you on all your ways]." This is precisely
what Yaakov experienced!
(Quoted in Otzrot Tzaddikei U'geonei Ha'dorot)
"He became frightened and said, `How awesome is this
place . . .' " (28:17)
Rashi writes that when Yaakov reached Charan he said, "Is it
possible that I passed the place where my father and grandfather
prayed, and I did not pray there?" He then returned to Bet El
and prayed and slept there.
R' Eliyahu Meir Bloch z"l (1894-1955; founder and Rosh Yeshiva
of the Telshe Yeshiva in Cleveland) observes that Yaakov was
distressed because he had passed Bet El and had not taken
advantage of being there, more so than he would have been had he
never been in Bet El. This teaches, says R' Bloch, that a person
is responsible for getting the greatest spiritual advantage out
of his present circumstances; the failure to take advantage of
one's favorable situation damages the soul.
We see this about Moshe, as well. When he said (Shmot 33:14),
"Show me Your glory," Hashem responded (according to Chazal),
"When I wanted, you did not want. Now that you want, I do not
want." When Hashem first appointed Moshe to lead Bnei Yisrael,
Moshe resisted. By not accepting the spiritual gifts which
Hashem offered, he damaged his soul. Therefore, when he wanted
to "see" Hashem's glory, he was unable to fathom it.
"If He will give me bread to eat and clothes to wear."
When the first winter arrived after R' Pinchus David Horowitz
z"l (the "Bostoner Rebbe"--see page 4) had settled in Boston, he
had only the clothes on his back to keep him warm, and no coat.
There was an old Jew (Mr. Rosenblatt) in Boston who had been a
chassid in Europe of R' Pinchus David's great-grandfather, R'
Moshe of Lelov. One night, R' Moshe appeared in a dream to Mr.
Rosenblatt and rebuked him, saying, "My descendant is cold, and
you are sleeping?!"
After this dream repeated itself, Mr. Rosenblatt sought out the
recently arrived immigrant from Yerushalayim. "Who are you?" he
"A Jew from Eretz Yisrael," R' Pinchus David responded humbly.
Only after he was pressed did he admit that he was a great-
grandson of R' Moshe of Lelov.
Mr. Rosenblatt bought the Rebbe a warm winter coat, which he
wore until it disintegrated. But he never threw it away. "If my
ancestor came all the way from heaven to bring me this coat, I
cannot throw it away," he explained.
"Rachel saw that she had not borne children to Yaakov, so
Rachel became envious of her sister; she said to Yaakov,
`Give me children -- otherwise I am dead'." (30:1)
R' Saadiah Gaon z"l (Egypt and Iraq; 882-942) writes: Why did
the early generations desire children? It was so that they would
have someone to whom they could teach the faith, so that they
(the parents) would achieve merit through them. Thus is it
written (Yishayah 38:19), "A father can make Your truth known to
children." The Torah, too, states (Devarim 11:19), "You shall
teach them to your children to discuss them." It also is written
regarding Avraham (Bereishit 18:19), "For I have loved him,
because he commands his children and his household after him that
they keep the way of Hashem . . ."
We know, continues R' Saadiah, that parents enjoy the fruits of
their descendants' righteousness for up to four generations. The
good deeds of those descendants actually lessen any punishment
which the parents themselves may deserve. This is the meaning
of the verse (Bemidbar 14:18), "[R]ecalling the iniquity of
parents with children to the third and fourth generations."
[Apparently R' Saadiah means that Hashem recalls the iniquity of
the parents together with the good deeds of their descendants,
and thus does not punish the parents.]
But the opposite is not true, concludes R' Saadiah. If one of
the first four generations of descendants is wicked, this is not
held against the parents, so long as the parents had spared no
effort to educate their children properly. That being the case,
are not children the best investment, for one can only profit and
(Perushei Rabbeinu Saadiah Gaon Al Ha'Torah p.46)
R' Pinchus David Halevi Horowitz z"l
(The First "Bostoner Rebbe")
R' Pinchus David arrived in New York in June, 1915. While still
living in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, R' Pinchus David
designed what may have been one of the earliest Shabbat-clocks.
Before long, he was recognized for the tzaddik and scholar that
he was, and he was offered several rabbinic posts. He chose
Boston, in gratitude to a Bostonian Jew who had helped him settle
his immigration status.
In Boston, R' Pinchus David found a motley group of chassidim
of various geographic backgrounds and different "styles" of
serving Hashem. However, R' Pinchus David had no trouble
catering to the needs of all of them. Eventually, he adopted the
title "Bostoner Rebbe." Explaining why he did not choose the
more distinguished title of one of his ancestors, R' Pinchus
David said that this way, if he failed in his mission, people
would say, "Well, what can you expect of an American rebbe?!"
As in many American cities, Boston in the 1920's had large
congregations made up of elderly people, but very little
religious participation by the youth. To remedy this situation,
R' Pinchus David founded a talmud Torah in Boston. He later
realized that a few hours of Torah study in the afternoon would
not overcome the public school influence, and he therefore
proposed a day school with a joint religious-secular program.
However, this proposal was rejected by his rabbinic colleagues,
who felt that there was no place in a talmud Torah for secular
R' Pinchus David never stopped acting and dressing like a
Yerushalmi Jew. He introduced to the United States several
customs which we take for granted, most notably shemurah matzah.
He also introduced the idea of chalav Yisrael. R' Pinchus David
frequently spoke out on family purity, telling people who found
its laws irrational that ritual purity, just like the invisible
force of electricity, is no less powerful just because one
doesn't understand it. The Rebbe's work on behalf of kashrut
even brought him death threats from the Mafia, which controlled
many aspects of food production.
R' Pinchus David never stopped longing for Eretz Yisrael, and
he made aliyah three times. Each time, however, the Hand of G-d
brought him back to Boston. Eventually, he moved to Williamsburg
(Brooklyn), becoming one of the earliest chassidic rebbes to
settle there. (Source: Shoshelet Boston)
Please see above for a story about R' Pinchus David
Robert and Hannah Klein
on the first yahrzeit of mother Dorothy J. Klein
(Devorah bat Avraham) a"h
Baruch and Rochelle Wertenteil
on the yahrzeit of father Elchonon ben Peretz Kurant a"h