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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Mordechai Lipskier

My heart aches for Yosef.

Ki SAVO After giving all the necessary maasros (tithes) of the third year of the shemitah cycle, every Jew would go the Beis Hamikdash and announce, “I have removed the holy [portion] from the house, and I have also given it to the Levite, the stranger, the orphan, and the widow, according to all Your commandment that You commanded me…” concluding, “Look down from Your holy dwelling, from the heavens, and bless Your people Israel.” This last statement is puzzling. The term hashkifa, look down, usually connotes a negative look. Why would we use this term? Also, the Jew seems to be asking that Hashem recognize his good deeds and bless him for them. If so, why does he say it in general terms, “bless your people Israel”? The Jew making this announcement just went through a season of giving to all types of needy people, from those suffering materially and emotionally, such as widows and orphans, to Leviim who had no land of their own. One might think that the giver would come to Hashem with a sense of pride and righteousness, “Look at all the charity I’ve given.” And thus ask for Hashem’s blessings in return.  But not a Jew. When we see pain and suffering, we first do all we can to help, but then we turn to Hashem and say. “Hashem, this is not fair! Why should these Jews need to depend on my help?! They deserve to have all their needs provided for directly from You, in dignity. So, now that I’ve done all that I can do, I feel entitled to ask You: Bless Your people Israel!”

Furthermore, the Jew asks that Hashem express His sternness, hashkifa. But instead of directing it on a Jew, He should do so on His own attribute of judgment. Hashem should, so to speak, become enraged with the sternness He has shown the Jewish people.[1] Feeling for Another Jew The chossid Reb Elye Abeler was a businessman and a simple Jew. He once came to the Rebbe Maharash for yechidus. “How are things with you?” the Rebbe asked. “Baruch HaShem,” said R' Elye. “And how’s your business getting on?” “Baruch HaShem,” said R' Elye. “But Rebbe, my heart aches for Yosef – Yosef who lives in our village. He seems to have no success in anything he does. (May no one know from such woes!) We all got together and bought him a horse and wagon so that he could peddle his wares from one town to the next, so the axle breaks, and then his horse breaks a leg, and then someone steals his meager merchandise. Every kind of misfortune seems to strike him. Rebbe, how can I help him?” With a deep sigh, R' Elye broke into tears and pleaded: “Rebbe, give him a brocha!” Hearing this, the Rebbe Maharash assured him: “You can help him a great deal. When a Jew is distressed by another’s distress, and pleads on his behalf, he silences all the accusatory voices and shatters all stern decrees.” The Rebbe Maharash then handed R' Elye a coin from his pocket and said: “I want to be your partner. May Hashem enable you to do favors for fellow Jews, and may He bless your efforts with success.” When the Rebbe Maharash related this account he said that R' Elye gave him pleasure, and then added: “If I’d wanted to give in to my G‑dly soul, I would have given R' Elye Abeler a hearty kiss.”[2] May we all open our hearts to feel for our fellow Jew. But more importantly, may Hashem bless all Yidden with all they need, materially and spiritually. And may we merit very soon to march up to the third Beis Hamikdash with joy and gladness of heart. [1] Alshich. [2] During the daytime seuda of Shvi’I shel Pesach 5705. Translated by Sichos In English. Good Shabbos and K'siva V'chasima Tova, Rabbi Lipskier


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