This weeks דבר תורה is לזכות רפואה שלימה ל-אברהם בייניש בן גאלדה שפרינצה.
ולאה בת חנה
And לזכר נשמת ר’ אברהם בן שמחה זצ”ל
ר’ חיים בן ר’ צבי ארי-ה זצ”ל
ר’ יחיאל יהודה בן ר’ אברהם מרדכי הכהן זצ”לור’ אליהו מרדכי זצ”ל בן ר’ אברהם יעקב נ”י
When talking about a lady who makes a neder, a vow, the Torah notes that if she was to make a vow and her husband was to nullify it, even if she didn’t know that it was nullified, or she says ‘I don’t care’ and she breaks her promise, she still needs to get a kapara from Hashem – ‘vaHashem yislach la’. The gemarah in kedushin (81) wonders about this and asks why she needs atonement if there is no misdeed? The gemarah answers, because she had intended on sinning and did not know that her husband had nullified her vow. Since she thought she was sinning, she requires atonement. The gemarah continues and makes a kal v’chomer: If someone who thinks they sinned has to ask forgiveness from Hashem, how much more forgiveness must one ask from Hashem for ACTUALLY sinning?
We learn from here a tremendous lesson. If someone intends to sin – even if he doesn’t actually do anything wrong – he still needs atonement. With this concept in mind I would like to share with you a powerful story on this subject.
There was Rosh Hayeshiva who would travel throughout the year to collect money for his institution. He would travel to many different out of town states and had specific people with whom he would stay by and with whom he would collect by. He would travel for a few days at a time and then come home to his family.
On one of his trips out of town, he would stay by a religious man who ate kosher, kept up with the daf hayomi and seemed to be a pious Jew. It happened that he was scheduled to fly home on a Thursday night but due to poor weather, his flight was canceled. With no way to get home, he phoned his host and asked if he would mind if he joined him for Shabbos. His host responded that it was not a problem, but there is something he must know. The Rosh Hayeshiva asked what it was and the man replied, ‘I just want to let you know that I desecrate the Shabbos.’ With complete shock the Rosh Hayeshiva asked him how this can be so. The man began with a story…
When I was just a young boy, in my teenage years, I found myself away from my family, in a country called America. I was sent by my family to my relatives with whom I was to live by. When I arrived, they told me that they couldn’t just have me hang around because it was too expensive to support a teenager, especially when money was so scarce. They told me I would need to chip in by going out and getting a job to help pay for my stay, food and upbringing. With no other choice I set out and found myself a job.
That Friday afternoon, as I was getting ready to leave work, I told my boss to enjoy his weekend and that I would see him on Monday. With a puzzled look he asked me what I meant. When I told him that I keep Shabbos, he told me ‘no work Saturday means no work Monday. We’re operational six days a week here.’ Not wanting to desecrate Shabbos, I left and lost my job.
When I came home to my cousins they said to me that in order to stay with them they would need me to get another job to help with the expenses. So I went out and looked for another job the following week, and I got one. Unfortunately, the same thing happened at this job, too. After my third job, I realized that I’m young and if I want to live and have a place to sleep at night and food to eat, I would have to work on Shabbos. With that in mind, and with no other choices available, the following Shabbos morning I davened early and headed to work. I decided to minimize my desecration as much as possible and I walked twenty blocks to shul and then up six flights of stairs to my work. As I reached for the door I stretched out my hand and touched the doorknob. Upon feeling the cold knob, I let out a shriek and I yelled SHABBOS! I turned around and ran from the building as fast as my feet could carry me. I continued running and running until I had run out of breath and I literally fell on top of a bench and passed out.
When I awoke, I found a Jewish man with a beard sitting next to me. He asked me what I was doing there and I explained to him what had happened. I told him that I came to the realization that in order for me to have a bed at night, and food to eat, I would have to work on Shabbos. He told me he would take care of me and that I didn’t need to work on Shabbos. He took me in to his home and watched over me until I got older.
Upon hearing this story, the Rosh Hayeshiva was confused; hadn’t the man told him that he desecrates the Shabbos?
The man answered, “On Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I was m’chalel Shabbos! When I made that decision, on every single one of those days, to go into work and desecrate the Shabbos, I was in essence m’chalel Shabbos every single day!” This man felt the need for atonement for intending to desecrate the Shabbos many years earlier.
That is the meaning of the pasuk; ‘vaHashem yislach la!’ Atonement for a sinning intention.
There are two elements to sinning. One is to sin and the other is to rebel. If a person has the intention to sin, then he is also rebelling. One must have an understanding that all Jews are servants of Hashem and we must recognize that our purpose on this world is to make Him proud. Not only to stay away from sin, but to have no desire, no intention of ever considering a sin, even for the sake of our livelihood or even if we find out later that perhaps we didn’t actually sin. As we can see, even those ‘sins’ need atonement.
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