13 Av 5770/July 24, 2010

Beit Midrash Zichron Dov
Toronto Toronto Toronto Torah Torah Torah
Parshat Va‟etchanan/Nachamu Vol. I Num. 41
that a tribe didn‟t plummet from the
precipice of extermination, that murdered
soldiers were interred? How could the
Talmud (Taanit 30b) identify this as the
“best day on the calendar,” above Pesach,
above Shavuot, even above Succot with its
title of “Zman Simchateinu - the time of our
The answer may be that “best day” does not
necessarily equal “happiest day.” We
celebrate many happy days, including the
aforementioned Shalosh Regalim, but Tu
b‟Av is not a day of joy. Tu b‟Av is a good
day, the best day – because on Tu b‟Av we
hit rock bottom.
The greatness of hitting rock bottom may be
best explained through a comment by Rav
Chaim Vital, as cited in Rav Dovid
Eibeschutz‟s Arvei Nachal (Behar, Derush
ש תדירי ךיא רעשיו תוגירדמה רועיש עדיש ימ
םיאלפ דרת םויו םוי לכב תוגירדמה , יתמ עדיל לכוי
הלואגה ץק , ץראל הקבד ונשפנ רפעל החש רשאכ יכ
ונל התרזע המוק זא וננטב ( ע ' דמ םילהת , וכ - זכ ) יכ
לופיל דוע םוקמ ןיאש ףוס דע ךכ לכ לופת רשאכ
רתוי , התעב לש הלואגה איה זא ( חצ ןירדהנס . הע " פ
בכ ס היעשי ) , בותכה רמאש ומכ ( ה סומע , ב ) הלפנ
ףיסות אלו , ר " ףיסות אלש דע ךכ לכ הלפנ רשאכ ל
לכד הפוס איהש ץראל הליפנ ונייהד לופיל דוע
ןיגרד , לארשי תלותב םוק זא .
One who knows the measure of the levels
[to the bottom], and who can measure our
shocking daily descent, can know when the
moment of redemption will arrive. After our
soul will descend to the dust and our belly
will stick to the ground, then G-d will rise
and help us, for when the nation falls until
there is no more room to fall, then will come
the redemption described by G-d as
coming „at its proper time.‟ It is written
(Amos 5:2), „She has fallen, and she will not
continue,‟ meaning that when the Jewish
nation has fallen so far that she cannot fall
further, meaning she has fallen to the
ground, the end of all levels, then [G-d will
say], „Rise, betulah of Israel.‟”
In other words: Hitting rock bottom is a
positive experience because we are
promised that it will be followed by
This is why the punishment for the Golden
Calf is considered worse than the
punishment for the Spies – because the
The hoariest of hoary Jewish jokes describes
the plot of the Jewish holiday as, “They tried
to kill us, we survived, let‟s eat.” The point
could be challenged regarding most of our
national celebrations, but for this Sunday‟s
holiday, Tu b‟Av [the 15
of Av], out-running
our enemies actually seems to define the
The gemara (Taanit 30b-31a) lists seven
reasons to celebrate Tu b‟Av, and three of
them offer the underwhelming applause
line, “We didn‟t die!”:
 HaShem informed the Jews who had
listened to the Spies that they would
perish in the desert, over a period of 40
years. Annually, a segment of that
population passed away on Tishah b'Av,
until the year finally came when the full
moon shone on Tu b‟Av and yet no one
had passed on. Their failure to expire is
our cue to strike up the band. (See
Tosafot Taanit 30b for more on this.)
 After a woman was tortured and
murdered in the territory of Binyamin,
the Jewish national army took up their
weapons against that tribe. The war
decimated Binyamin, and it was followed
by a decree lest any woman from
outside Binyamin marry any of their
males. The tribe teetered on the brink of
extermination, until the decree was
revoked on Tu b‟Av – another trigger for
joy and celebration. (See Shoftim 19-21
for additional information.)
 Approximately sixty years after the
Second Temple was destroyed, our
ancestors revolted against Roman
tyranny. The Romans crushed their
revolt and demolished the mighty
fortress at Betar, murdering thousands.
For years thereafter, Roman authorities
refused to allow the Jews to bury their
dead fighters; Tu b‟Av was the day when
we were able to bury the dead of the
Betar revolt. We held funerals for the
miraculously preserved remains of our
heroes, and this, too, is cause for an
annual national festival.
Normal nations celebrate birthdays,
anniversaries, revolutions – would anyone
other than a Jew institute a holiday to
celebrate that his ancestors stopped dying,
punishment for the Golden Calf is
postponed for an undefined future (Shemot
32:34), while the punishment for the Spies
ends after forty years. This is also why the
Talmud (Sotah 9a) takes comfort in the
Divine malediction, “I will finish My arrows
upon them,” for even though G-d will launch
many arrows at us, there will be a finish and
conclusion, and yet we will survive and be
On Tu b‟Av we recognize that the
punishment for the sin of the Spies is over.
On Tu b‟Av we recognize that the threat to
the tribe of Binyamin has passed. On Tu
b‟Av we recognize the conclusion of Roman
aggression. There is no joy in these bitter
recognitions, but there is the empowering,
invigorating, rejuvenating hope that from
these depths we will ascend and emerge.
R‟ Menachem Meiri saw this message of
hope, too, in the abrupt talmudic transition
from discussing Tishah b'Av to discussing Tu
ונעי רשא לכ לבא תורצה בורל שאיתהל ןיאש ראבל
ד תויהב הברנ ןכ ונתוא ' ויכרדב ונתכלב ונתא .
To show that we should not lose hope under
the strain of our troubles. However much
they oppress us, so we will multiply, as long
as HaShem will be with us, as we follow His
We are taught (Nedarim 39b) that G-d
created the possibility of teshuvah, of return
to G-d, even before creating this universe.
Teshuvah is more fundamental than the
fundamental elements of our world, more
natural than nature itself. This is true even
after the dramatic descent of Tishah b'Av,
and it is the theme of the best day on our
When Moshe ascended Mount Sinai, he
entered a cloud which the Torah describes
as “Arafel,” utter darkness. Moshe entered
this Arafel, because, “Asher Sham
ha‟Elokim,” “that‟s where HaShem is.”
When the Jews go through the three weeks
of mourning, when we endure a Tishah b'Av,
we are in the Arafel, we are in the darkness
– but so is HaShem. And the 15
of Av
promises that having hit bottom, we will
always emerge, with HaShem, from that
Tu b’Av: The Holiday of Hitting Rock Bottom R’ Mordechai Torczyner
סב “ ד
2) A second connection between Torah
and T’filla is reflected in the statement of
Abaye in Brachot, 8a, that one should
pray in the place he studies Torah. Based
on the pasuk in Tehilim (87:2), “HaShem
loves the gates of Tzion”, Rav Chisda
HaShem loves the gates of [the study
of] Halacha even more than the gates
of the synagogue.
3) The Rambam in his Sefer HaMitzvot
(Mitzvat Aseh #5) quotes the very same
Biblical source for both the mitzvah of
T’filla and the mitzvah of Torah study. The
pasuk in Dvarim (11:13), “And you shall
serve HaShem with all your heart and all
your soul” is for the Rambam, the Biblical
source for the obligation to pray. The
Rambam writes:
The language of the Sifri (on this
verse) is: “And you shall serve Him,
this refers to prayer.” The Sifri further
states, “And you shall serve Him, this
refers to study...serve Him with His
Torah, and in his Mikdash.
We can derive a fundamental conclusion
from the Rambam. Service of the heart
(avodah she’balev) consists of two
elements: T’filla and Torah. Through the
study of Torah, one fulfills his obligation
of avodah she’balev, just as he does so
through T’filla. Torah study and prayer
are integrated to form a unit of avodah
We can understand the relationship
between Torah study and prayer if we
establish the underlying purpose of both.
1) T’filla is an integral part of the mitzvah
of Kabalat Ol Malchut Shamayim

Tefillah, Torah Study and Kriyat Shma R’ Azarya Berzon
Many fundamental mitzvot are taught in
our parsha. I would like to discuss
various aspects of Torah study, T’filla,
and Kriyat Shema. The insights I will
share with you are based on the shiurim
of my Rebby, HaRav Rabbi Yosef Dov
Soloveichik, zatz”al, and are relevant to
ןנחתאו תשרפ.
I) The Relationship Between Torah Study
and T’filla
In a number of statements of Chaz”al, we
find that the mitzvot of Torah study and
T’filla go together:
1) The Gemara in Berachot, 31a, quotes
two braitot regarding T’filla. The first
braita states:
“One should stand in prayer following
[the study of] Halacha p’suka (Jewish
The second braita states:
“One should stand in prayer following the
joy of a mitzvah”.
Rashi explains that according to the
second braita, before one davens, he
should read sections of Torah, for
example: the Exodus from Egypt or
Ashrei from Psalms, which contain
psukim which express HaShem‟s
relationship and concern for His people.
According to both braitot one must read
from the Torah prior to his T’filla. The
difference is that whereas the first braita
requires the study of Torah She’bal Peh
(the Oral Torah), the second prefers the
recitation of Torah She’Bichtav (the
written Torah), specifically psukim which
express ideas of consolation and
(accepting the sovereignty of HaShem),
as the Gemara tells us in Brachot, 14a:
R‟ Yochanan said: one who wishes
to accept upon himself the yolk of
HaShem‟s Kingship in a perfect
way, should follow the following
order: he should [wake up and]
relieve himself, wash his hands, don
his T’fillin, recite Kriyat Shema and
pray. This is complete Kabalat Ol
Malchut Shamayim.
2) Torah Study. The study of Torah also
contains within it a fulfillment of Kabalat
Ol Malchut Shamayim. The Rambam,
Hilchot Kriat Shema, 1:2, defines the
various elements of Kabalat Ol Malchut
Shamayim in the recitation of Kriyat
We start with the parsha of Shema
[before the second and third
parshiot that are recited] because
Shema contains the unity of God
(Yichud HaShem), the love of
HaShem (Ahavat Hashem), and the
study of His Torah, which is the
great foundation (ikkar hagadol)
upon which all rests.
That Torah study generates a kiyum of
Kabalat Ol Malchut Shamayim can be
proven from the custom of reciting
kaddish d’Rabbanan following the study
of Torah. This Kaddish is a dramatic
expression of accepting the kingship of
HaShem upon ourselves.
Thus, the study of Torah is the expression
of one‟s commitment to HaShem and His
Torah, and is a fulfillment of avodah
shebalev. (See Shiurim le‟Zecher Abba,
Vol. II, p. 7-8) abezon@torontotorah.com
Shabbat, July 24, 31, August 14
7:50AM R‟ Azarya Berzon: Ramban al haTorah, Or Chaim
After Hashkamah: R‟ Azarya Berzon, Clanton Park
One Hour Before Minchah: R‟ Azarya Berzon: Masechet Kiddushin, Mizrachi Bayit Cancelled July 31
One Hour Before Minchah: Russell Levy: Daf Yomi, Bnai Isaac, Baysville Will be delivered on August 7
Sunday, Weekly through September 5; Monday, August 2; Monday, September 6
8:30AM Russell Levy: Daf Yomi, Bnei Isaac, Baysville
9:00AM Russell Levy: Practical Halachah at the Cottage, Bnei Isaac, Baysville
Sunday, July 25, August 15
7:30PM R‟ Azarya Berzon: Masechet Kiddushin, Shaarei Shomayim
Monday, July 26, August 16
7:30PM R‟ Azarya Berzon: Hilchot Talmud Torah, Clanton Park
9:15PM R‟ Azarya Berzon: Ramban al haTorah
Tuesday, July 26, August 17
7:30PM R‟ Azarya Berzon: The New Method of Rationalization of Mitzvot, BAYT, West Wing Classroom #1
Wednesday, July 27, August 18
8:30PM R‟ Azarya Berzon: Shiur Highlights
Thursday, July 28, August 19
7:50PM R‟ Azarya Berzon: Halachah and Life Issues, Clanton Park Men
Schedule for the Summer, July 24-August 20
Come join us for Slichot on the
Lake at Bnei Isaac in Baysville for
the first night of slichot, Sunday
September 5. Email Russell Levy at
rlevy@torontotorah.com for more

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