Parshas Ki Savo

September 7, 2012
20 Elul, 5772

Candle-lighting Time: 7:04 PM

This week’s edition of Sparks of Torah is dedicated in memory of Irwin Fine, Yisroel Yoseph ben Menachem Mendel, father of Stel Fine and Joyce Fine, who passed away this week. May his soul be bound in the bonds of eternal life.

Shabbos Off

by Rabbi Raphael Leban

Here it is, Shabbos again. I feel like I just digested last week’s cholent and it’s time to make another one already. More kiddush, more challah, more gefilte fish. Same foods, same order. Sometimes you just want to take a Shabbos off.

Better not be this one.

This week’s parsha is one of the scariest parhsas of the Torah. In it is found the tochacha or klalos—a long list of frightening, terrible consequences that Moshe warns the people may come to pass. Foe anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of our history, or even a slight appreciation of the precarious situation we find ourselves in today, these verses are nothing short of chilling.

Moshe also tells them why such terrible things might happen. Tachas asher lo avadta es Hashem Elokecha bsimcha uvtov laivov mairov kol. Because [that] you didn’t serve God with joy, good-heartedly, in your abundance.

The Vilna Gaon identified that the particular short-coming that is referred to here is our failure to properly delight in the Sabbath. The Sabbath should be a pleasure. Good food, uplifting ruach, songs, merriment and enjoyment. It should be a day of joy.

There’s even a hint to this idea in the verse itself. The word tachas which is translated ‘because,’ literally means ‘under.’ The next word, asher, meaning ‘that,’ is spelled aleph, shin, reish. If you take the letter in the aleph-beis that immediately follows each of its three letters, you get beis, tov and shin, which spells Shabbos. Under asher is Shabbos. It’s because of a lack of enjoyment of the Sabbath day that these tragedies can occur. Conversely, writes the Vilna Gaon, one who takes pleasure in the Sabbath brings the future redemption and ultimate end to suffering closer.

A woman once remarked to my wife that to her Shabbos felt like jail. My wife responded, “Are you kidding? Shabbos is a five-star hotel!”
Whether its special foods, meaningful time spent with family, meditative time used to connect God and His Torah, or a combination of all three, what’s important is that Shabbos be a holy pleasure. Good Shabbos!

What About My Neighbor?
by Rabbi Dovid Nussbaum

The Torah offers a curse to one who does not ‘uphold’ the words of the Torah to perform them. Our Sages question the language employed in this verse. It would seem as though the Torah is ‘falling’ and requires assistance to remain upright and erect. Is this possible?

TheJerusalemTalmud addresses this and answers with insightful acuity. Even if one spends his time productively observing mitzvos and studying Torah and furthermore teaches Torah to others, still he has not fulfilled his obligations. If he could also support and strengthen Torah, but he does not, he is included in this curse! Nachmonides, understands this to encompass our Rabbonim and leaders to reinforce their responsibility to insure that others realize the importance of their commitment to obey the Torah. Furthermore, he adds that even if someone is a perfectly righteous individual but he does not take measures to assure that others likewise follow the correct path of Torah, then he also is liable for this curse.

This is our obligation for two very important reasons. Firstly, the importance of the Torah for each and every Jew is so vital that we cannot forfeit the opportunity to introduce and inculcate our wonderful legacy into their hearts. Furthermore, we cannot afford to detach even the most seemingly distant Jew from his rich heritage which we know to be so imperative to his future and to those of his eventual progeny.

By the same token, we need to appreciate that in order for our Rabbonim and  lay leaders to successfully undertake to guide their respective communities and organizations, there must be financial support that will allow them this opportunity. Often we hear of situations where a family or an individual could have been helped in a meaningful way but the resources were not available to  provide for the project.

Rosh Hashanah is rapidly approaching and we are in dire need of merits that will promote our case before Hashem. Certainly our observance of the Torah is sorely lacking and we need to improve many areas of mitzvah observance. However, hard as we may try, it is difficult to make significant inroads in such a short time.

However, we are guaranteed that if our communities and organizations depend on us to guide them, Hashem will award us a favorable verdict. Our Sages teach that when theHeavenly Courtjudges an individual, his verdict is largely based upon his interaction with others. If a community or organization relies upon him for either substantial financial support or personal involvement the loss of which would be very damaging, it is a significant factor in his ruling. Therefore, the more that one effects the success and sustenance of a community or organization, the more so that person is guaranteed another year of life replete with productivity and accomplishment.

Byte For Shabbos

The relationship of a Jew to the Torah should be similar to that of a child to its mother. A child does not make his own decisions, he relies upon his mother to guide and instruct him. So too, we rely upon the Torah realizing that every step of the way our best interests are foremost in the eyes of God.


Question for the Rabbis
By Rabbi Mordechai Becher, reprinted with permission from

It is customary for those present to fast when, G-d forbid, a Torah scroll falls to the ground (Magen Avraham, 44:5). What is the source for this custom? Rabbi Shmuel ben Moshe Kalai cites the verse in this week’s Torah portion, “Cursed is he who does not uphold… this Torah” (Deuteronomy 27:26). Nachmanides, quoting the Jerusalem Talmud, explains the verse as referring to one who does not properly hold up the Torah scroll while it is raised up before the community (hagbah). Rabbi Kalai says that perhaps the whole community fasts because they feel that had they been more attentive or quicker, they could have prevented the Torah from falling, and so as atonement for that sin, they all fast (Mishpatei Shmuel, cited by Magen Avraham).

Joke of the Week

Q: What did the grape say after the elephant sat on it?

A: Nothing, it just let out a little whine.


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