Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto’s talks are known throughout the Jewish world. They combine chassidic teachings and philosophy, along with tips for a better life. We have collected pearls from his teachings that are relevant to our daily lives. This week he comments on the Torah section of Nitzavim - Vayelech.
All Jews are responsible for each other. This means that when one Jew strengthens himself spiritually, it influences everyone else. It is the same vice versa.
This week's Torah section states, "You are all standing today before the Lord your God, your heads, your tribes, your elders, and your officers, all the Israelites. Your children, your wives, and your convert who is in the midst of your camp, from the woodchopper to the water drawer." Our holy sages explain that the word "today" is emphasized because that day was a great day, the day of the universe’s birth - Rosh Hashanah.
The Holy Zohar similarly says (Boh 32b) on the verse "And it was on the day when the sons of God were called to appear before God, and the Satan also came among them" (Job 1:6): “It was the day of Rosh Hashona, when the Holy One, blessed is He, judges the universe.”
The fact that the Torah describes ten different groups in our Torah section when discussing how they gathered on Rosh Hashona, teaches us important lessons. The groups described in the verse can be divided into two different categories. The first five groups are grouped together. “Your heads” - one group, “your tribes” - a second group, “your elders” - a third group, “your officers” - a fourth group, “all the Israelites” - a fifth group. On the other side, there are also five groups: 1) your children 2) your wives, 3) your convert who is in the midst of your camp, 4) woodchoppers 5) water drawers.
These ten groups divided into two can be compared to how the Ten Commandments were divided into Two Tablets - five commandments on one side and five commandments on the other, with each group corresponding to a different commandment. “Your heads” correspond to the first commandment, “your tribes” to the second commandment, “your elders” to the third commandment, “your officers” to the fourth commandment, and “all the Israelites” to the fifth commandment. And the commandments on the second half of the Tablets correspond to the other groups - “your children” to the sixth commandment, “your wives” to the seventh commandment, “your convert who is in the midst of your camp” to the eighth commandment, the “woodchoppers” to the ninth commandment and “your water drawers” to the tenth commandment.
The sixth group that the Torah lists - “your children” - corresponds to the commandment "Do not murder." One implication is that if a person doesn’t educate his children in the way of God, and instead lets them go however they want, doesn’t put effort in them and doesn’t deal with them wisely to teach them fear of heaven, he is responsible for his children’s deterioration and their going to bad and indecent places. The child may even reach the point where he transgresses the worst level imaginable - "Do not murder." May God save us from such dreadful things.
There is another important lesson to learn from this. All ten groups in the Jewish people are interrelated. There is a bond between one Jew and another, and it is extremely strong. When a Jew doesn’t fulfill one commandment, this has a ripple effect on his fulfilling all the other nine commandments and he will weaken in all of them. But when everyone is exalted and strengthened, and everyone is sanctifying themselves, one Jew uplifts the other due to the bond between them.
The Ten Commandments correspond to the Ten Statements with which the world was created. The Ten Commandments also correspond to the Ten Days of Repentance. Each day during the Ten Days of Repentance rectifies a different one of the Ten Commandments that God commanded us. These three series - the Ten Commandments, the Ten Statements and the Ten Days of Repentance are interrelated. When one of them is strengthened, everything is strengthened, but if one is weakened, everything is weakened.
When we are all devoted to God and prepare ourselves to be judged by approaching God with fear, awe and great humility, then God views the judgment through our joint bond to each other and He channels down a powerful wave of heavenly help that uplifts everyone.
The upcoming Shabbat is the last Shabbat of the year. It contains the essence of all the year’s Shabbats and has the potential to rectify all of them. When a person behaves as God desires in the right and proper way on this holy Shabbat, it has a great impact which is capable of rectifying all the Shabbats of the previous year.
Shabbat is the source of all blessing. If Shabbat is kept in the proper way, then the essence of the week is also rectified and one achieves a higher level before the Almighty. Rosh Hashanah’s essence is nourished from the holy Shabbat that comes before it. If we are holy and pure and achieve the exaltation of our soul on this Shabbat, we will experience a sublime Rosh Hashanah in which we will soar to the highest spiritual levels on Rosh Hashanah.
Rosh Hashanah is the Day of Judgment, the day when a person's entire life is examined by God. Therefore, if a person observes the upcoming Shabbat with all his might in holiness and purity, he will not only rectify all the Shabbats of the past year but this Shabbat will also empower the coming week including Rosh Hashona and the Ten Days of Repentance. Keeping this one holy Shabbat will have a great beneficial impact on our upcoming High Holidays.
Therefore, go all out on this holy Shabbat! Utilize it to infuse yourselves with great devotion and enthusiasm in your service of God! Every moment that we take advantage of this Shabbat will have an enormous and unimaginable impact. As our teacher the Ben Ish Chai says (Ben Ish Chai, Gate Two, Shemot): “Every hour of Torah study on the holy Shabbat has an effect like a thousand hours during a weekday.”
The more a person devotes himself to God on the holy Shabbat, the more he will feel invigorated with holiness and purity during the week. Our holy rabbis say that a person who does his utmost to observe the Shabbat, will subdue his evil inclination throughout the week. His evil inclination will be weaker that week due to the holiness of Shabbat. Every thing of holiness that a person carries out during the week, is due to the holy Shabbat bringing upon him goodness and blessing.
May the next Shabbat be a good preparation for us for the upcoming Judgment Day and may we all be written down and sealed for a good year.
This article was written in cooperation with Shuva Israel