1. Derush on Simcha, Shabbos and in General
  2. Stories of Rebbi’s Shmiras Ha’Lashon
  3. Stories of Rebbi’s Anivus
  4. Inyan of Yom Kippur


1 – Derush on Simcha, Shabbos and in General

(“וביום שמחתכם ובמועדיכם ובראשי חדשיכם ותקעתם בחצצרות…” (י:י

What is yom simchaschem?  There are two shitos in the Sifri.  The Tanna Kama says that yom simchaschem is Shabbos.  Even though it is mevuar from Masechtos Shabbos and Beitzah that only on the Shlosha Regalim is there a mitzvah of simcha, but not on Shabbos, we nevertheless see that the metzius of Shabbos is that it is a day of simcha.  It could be, in fact, that it is the opposite when it comes to the Shlosha Regalim.  Are they considered a yom simcha?  Could be not, even though there is a mitzvah of simcha.

There is no mitzvah kiyumis of simcha b’kum v’aseih on Shabbos.  Yet, it is called yom simchaschem.  What is the pshat in this?  Really, it’s pashut if you think about when a person has simcha.

Shabbos is an entirely different metzius.  From beginning to end, from the most miniscule detail here in our world, going all the way up through the Olamos Ha’Elyonim until the Kisei Ha’Kavod, everything is totally different on Shabbos.  A completely different metzius.  Whether one is aware of it or not, on Shabbos he enters a totally different reality.  If he is not aware of it, that’s yom simchaschem.  If he does know it, then he can partake of the simcha of the yom ha’simcha.

This different metzius of Shabbos is reflected in the fact that eino domeh mareh panav – a person looks different on Shabbos than he does during the week.  Also, there is a chiyuv to wear Shabbos clothes.  That’s in terms of a person’s externalities.  And as far as his pnimiyus is concerned, he has a neshama yeseirah.  On Shabbos, he enters into a better, more exalted state of being; so that is simcha.  Smeichim b’tzeisam v’sasim b’voam.

The formula for how to be a tov leiv mishteh tamid, to always be b’simcha, is to always find a hischadshus in life.  If all a person is is mitzvas anashim melumadah v’su lo midi, then he likely is not going to be very happy.  However, when rises above the mitzvas anashim melumadah and approaches every day as a new experience and new opportunity, that infuses him with tremendous simcha.

If someone were to get a hischadshus by winning the lottery it would be easy to be happy.  I’d be happy to win the lottery and have a million dollars (ed. note: if you listen to the recording you’ll hear that these words were clearly said a bit tongue in cheek).  But then it wouldn’t be an avodah.  When a person approaches another Shachris, another Mincha, one could feel a sense of habit; but if one works on cultivating a sense of hischadshus in it, then he will have simcha.

Shabbos is yom simchaschem because it inherently is a day of complete hischadshus.

The other shitah in the Sifri, Rabi Nosson, holds that yom simchaschem is the temidim, meaning every day.  There seems to be a stirah in the Rambam, and the Achronim say that it must be that the Rambam holds that there are two dinim of chatzotzros: one din that applies every day, and another din chatzotzros on the Moadim.

The question is, though, what is the pshat in this shitah of Rabi Nosson?  In what way are the korbanos tamid a yom simchaschem?

The Maharal says that something which is kavuah b’zman, meaning it is completely consistent in terms of its frequency and never wavers, is essentially l’maalah min ha’zman.  The Mesillas Yesharim says that we cannot have the absolute zerizus that Malachim have because we exist within chomriyus.  The sefarim say that atzlus comes from chomriyus.  Someone who is sunk in chomriyus is a prone, a little bit, to the opposite of simcha.

What is the eitzah to be l’maalah min ha’zman?  To be a tamid!  If one makes a kevius for himself that is a yaseid v’al timot, then he accomplishes this.  The whole duration of the korban tamid took only one hour, so for us even a kevius of five or ten minutes can be our tamid.  A ten minutes that is totally kavuah no matter what – even on days where for whatever reason it may happen that he may not be able to learn his normal sedarim, he still has his tamid, chok v’loh yaavor.  Doing this puts him l’maalah min ha’zman.  He’s a tamid mamash!  This creates a metzius of yom simchaschem, and ein lecha simcha gedola mi’zu!

(Audio recording, available here:

2 – Stories About Rebbi’s Shmiras Ha’Lashon

“ותדבר מרים ואהרן במשה…והאיש משה ענו מאד…והנה מרים מצרעת כשלג…ותסגר מרים…” (יב:א-טו).  “התבוננו מה אירע למרים הנביאה שדיברה באחיה שהיתה גדולה ממנו בשנים וגידלתו על ברכיה וסכנה בעצמה להצילו מן הים והיא לא דברה בגנותו אלא טעתה שהשותו לשאר נביאים והוא לא הקפיד על כל הדברים האלו שנאמר והאיש משה ענו מאד ואף על פי כן מיד נענשה בצרעת קל וחומר לבני אדם הרשעים הטפשים שמרבים לדבר גדולות ונפלאות לפיכך ראוי למי שרוצה לכוין אורחותיו להתרחק מישיבתן ומלדבר עמהן כדי שלא יתפס אדם ברשת רשעים וסכלותם …אבל שיחת כשרי ישראל אינה אלא בדברי תורה וחכמה לפיכך הקדוש ברוך הוא עוזר על ידן ומזכה אותן בה…” (רמב”ם הל’ טומאת צרעת טז:י).

After the seudah on a particular Purim had already finished, and a few bachurim were lingering in Rebbi’s house, I mentioned a certain talmid chacham and was effusively praising this person’s phenomenal koach in learning.  The individual was someone Rebbi knew well, and he was apparently concerned that I should not be negatively influenced by him.  All he said, though, is, “But he is not a yeshivisheh guy!”  When I asked Rebbi to please elaborate, he responded, “What I said was mutar to say, and nothing more needs to be said.”

(From the editor)

“He was a very serious and intense young man.  Literally, he was always with a book.  While his roommates would go out and have fun, he would stay home and study…When he was not studying for his classes, he was studying Gemara.  He would wake up by 6 a.m. to daven, then study before class.  Life was deadly serious for him, and life was all about devotion to studying the word of God…He would never criticize his roommates for their lifestyles.  But he was unstinting in his own morality, to the point that he refused to take telephone messages for his roommates other than the name and phone number of the caller.  He didn’t want to hear anything he might have regretted hearing.”

(Roommate of Rebbi in Harvard, Adapted from an article written by Mrs. Shira Schoenfeld [attached])

When asked about a certain rabbi who was not orthodox, Rebbi responded, “He was chutz l’machaneh, [but] he’s not alive anymore [so] we don’t have to talk about him.”  Rather than rant against this man – about whom someone else said, “I don’t think there’s a single aveirah he didn’t do” – Rebbi chose not to get involved.

(From Reb Yosef Weiner, Kuntras Divrei Zikaron page 20)

3 – Stories About Rebbi’s Anivus

“והאיש משה ענו מאד” (יב:ג)

It was erev Pesach, and my husband went to open his matzos to check them for kefulos, to be mafrish challah, and get them ready for the Seider.  These were his precious matzos.  Into which he put so much time and energy.  He would say that the whole reason we had a car was for two things: to be able to go to the Rebbeh in Bnei Brak (Rav Yisrael Elya Weintraub), and to be able to transport the sticks for the matzah baking.

When he opened the box, he was met with an awful sight.  The packer had negligently put two kilos of matza into a one kilo box.  Practically everything was broken into pieces.  This was a disaster.  My husband would not eat any other matzos.  These were the matzos for his seider, for the seudos of Yomtov, Shabbos Chol Ha’Moed, everything!

In the end, he did manage to find matzos that were still whole for the seider, but in those first moments of opening the box, it looked like one big mess of broken pieces.

He fell silent, and his face started getting redder and redder.  He was clearly so upset.  The tension in the house was palpable.  Both I and my daughter were at a loss.  We were just waiting there, frozen.

And then, all of a sudden, my husband broke out into joyous song.  And that was that.  All the tension was gone, completely melted away as if it never existed.

It was such a beautiful song.

This story took place about fifteen or sixteen years ago, around the year 5760 (2000).  A few years ago, I mentioned the incident to my husband and asked him to remind me what song it was that he sang then.  It was so beautiful and I wanted to remember it.  All he said to me, though, is, “I don’t remember, and please don’t make a big deal out of nothing.”

(From Rebbetzin Twersky)

“Many people have all different types of audiences in their lives, but Rav Moshe Twersky had but one audience, the Ribbono shel Olam.”

(Rav Moshe Meiselman, Hesped at the Levaya)

For a certain tekufah, my father decided that he wanted to work on the middah of chesed.  So he volunteered with a charitable organization to be one of their drivers who delivers food packages to needy families.  One time, a certain family was not home, so my father said to leave a note that says, “We came by to deliver the package, but no-one was home.  Next time, if you can let us know when you will be home, we will make sure to come then.  Signed, the delivery man.”  We refused to leave such a note at the door; what a thought – that the words “delivery man” would be said about my father!  But my father insisted and that was that.

(Reb Avrohom Twersky, Hesped at the Levaya)

(The following is a translation of a letter that a talmid wrote to Rebbi and then the letter Rebbi wrote back.  This correspondence took place this past Elul, pdf of the original words in Hebrew attached)

“I rejoiced very much about two months ago when I received the disk that was sent from the Yeshiva, and I saw that [there was a shiur of Rebbi’s] divrei Torah there that discusses matters pertaining to the period of bein ha’meitzarim and kedushas ha’aretz.  I listened carefully to every word, then I listened a second time, and I even listened a third time.  I felt a tremendous excitement from the divrei Torah themselves, from the way the [ideas were] organized, and from the mussar [lessons thereof].  It partially quenched the thirst that I still have to learn from Rebbi’s [words of] Torah and Rebbi’s ways.

I drew particular pleasure from the fact that I found my notes of a shiur that Rebbi delivered twenty one years ago regarding the same topic, on Erev Shabbos of parshas Pinchas, 5753.  I compared what I wrote then with the understanding that I attained now.  The question and answer that I wrote in my youth almost seems like a sharp “vertel ” that encases a deep principle.  Now, [the matter] has greatly expanded and become clarified [in my mind such that the topic] is well resolved [to me now].

After the matter became clear to me, and I studied the Tashbetz inside, I conveyed a few of the main points to the Kehillah before whom I have the merit, baruch Hashem, of being marbitz Torah on Leil Shabbos Kodesh before Maariv.

In another two weeks, iy”h, I will reach the stage of binah.  It is terrifying to face the fact that I have learned and understood so little up to this point, and I am confused as to how to improve this from here on in, in the most straight and effective manner.  I feel the lack from being so distant from Rebbi and all of the Rebbeim who had a positive impact on me as a bachur and stood me on my feet.  The responsibility of nine children…baruch Hashem (which comes along with [the need to furnish] significant amounts for their tuition!…), does not allow me to ascend to Eretz Yisrael and to connect and be once again within the walls of the Beis Ha’Medrash.

Therefore, I am bursting with gratitude over the opportunity to hear Rebbi’s words, even though it lacks the facet of ‘Your eyes shall behold your teacher’.”

(Letter from Talmid)

“I greatly rejoiced upon receiving your letter.  When I first read it, I experienced that which was said about Rabi Akiva, “he laughed and he cried”.  I laughed out loud when I read that you found the fundamental principles of the words of Torah [about which we had corresponded] in [your] notes from twenty one years ago.  When I read the paragraph about your age, and how you are searching and seeking for the correct and effective approach [to true Torah attainment], I literally cried, because I am roughly two decades older than you, and my miniscule self-worth and the nothingness of my knowledge [feel to me as a] slap on my face, and I am deeply perturbed [by it].”

It was a pleasure for me to hear a bit about your family, and about your two older sons.  One method, which is tried and tested, is to daven a lot – supplications and beseeching from the depths of the heart, and with copious tears – to merit growth in Torah, and with heh’aras panim (and see the commentary of the Gra on Mishlei, chapter thirteen, on the pasuk, “A tree of life, desire comes”, that teffilah for success in Torah is accepted!).”

(Rebbi’s Letter in response)

4 – Inyan of Yom Kippur

Chaf Sivan is this Sunday.  Rebbetzin Twersky said this day marked a very important point on the calendar for Rebbi, as it is 100 days before the Yamim Noraim, and Rebbi would begin hummind “chamol al maasecha” to start getting himself in the Yamim Noraim mindset.

The Ramah paskens that we do not make a bracha on besamim as part of Havdalah after Yom Kippur.  As the source for this, the Gra points to the statement of Rashi that the neshama yeseira enables a person to eat more and take in all the extra pleasures of Shabbos.  The implication of this, seemingly, is that on Yom Kippur there is no neshama yeseira.

However, there is a kashya on this.  The Ramah says that we do not say Nishmas on Hoshana Rabbah.  As the source for that Halacha, the Biur Ha’Gra points to the Rashbam’s statement about when Yomtov falls out immediately following Shabbos; that when that happens the reason we do not include making a bracha on besamim as part of Havdalah is because on Yomtov there is also a neshama yeseirah, and thus no need for besamim after Shabbos.

The implication of this Biur Ha’Gra is that only on Shabbos and Yomtov is there a neshama yeseirah, but not on Hoshana Rabbah or any other day of Chol Ha’Moed, and that that is the reason why we don’t say Nishmas then; because Nishmas is only said on days that have a neshama yeseirah.

This apparently poses a contradiction because we do of course say Nishmas on Yom Kippur, but if there is no neshama yeseirah on Yom Kippur, then why do we say it?

The answer lies in a statement in Kisvei Ha’Gra which provides another understanding of the function of the neshama yeseirah.  Shabbos is mei’ein Olam Ha’Bah.  In order to appreciate and experience this elevated status, the person must be raised to greater spiritual heights.  The neshama yeseirah provides that boost, allowing him to enjoy the mei’ein Olam Ha’Bah of Shabbos.

However, the distinction of Shabbos is only a mei’ein, a likeness of Olam Ha’Bah, and can only be realized with the advantage of the neshama yeseirah.  Yom Kippur, on the other hand, elevates the physical body to the point at which we can enter Olam Ha’Bah as physical beings.  Shabbos is mei’ein Olam Ha’Bah, but Yom Kippur is Olam Ha’Bah mamash!

It is like being in Olam Ha’Bah for twenty four hours!  This is something that every Jew cannot help but feel!  We don’t eat or drink or engage in the other inuyim, just like in Olam Ha’Bah these things are absent.

During Neilah you have to pinch yourself to make sure that you are still here.  A mere few hours after Yom Kippur is over, if you try to recall where you were then, it feels as if it was a different world – because it was a different world; and already the next day, Yom Kippur feels so far away.

And that is also why we don’t smell besamim after Yom Kippur.  After Shabbos, we smell besamim to help us cope with the loss of our neshama yeseirah, but leaving Yom Kippur is an exit from a state of being a neshama, being in Olam Ha’Bah, and for that, besamim just wouldn’t help!”

(Synthesis of what was heard from the following talmidim: Reb Chaim Rosen, Reb Ephraim Weiss, Reb Reuvein Knoble, Reb Yechiel Leipnik, Reb Yoni Welcher, Reb Avi Klotz, and Reb Yehoshua Goldfinger.)

Provided courtesy of