Last Wednesday [Parshat Vayechi], 15 Tevet, close to evening time, members of our community from the city of Elad, came to a shiur at the home of Moreinu HaRav Eliezer Berland shlit”a. The Rav shlit”a delivered a very long shiur, around an hour and a half of words of Torah, including all the intricacies the holy Torah, beginning with Aggadah to Talmudic analysis, and concluding with stories and chizzuk.
Here is a summary from the shiur, a tiny bit of the words which the Rav shlit”a gave over to participants:
The Rav shlit”a began the shiur discussing what Rebbe Nachman says, that through the Torah, all prayers and requests are accepted. And Torah means learning Gemara and Rambam, noting that Sunday would be the Hilulah of the Rambam. A person needs to take onto himself to learn Rambam every day.
Afterwards, he spoke about the miracles that there have been in the war and how the merit of the Baba Sali certainly protected the city of Netivot. He discussed the verse, “Shimon and Levi are brothers; instruments of crime are their wares.” Afterwards, he related the story of how Saba Yisrael Ber Odesser zy”a became a Breslover Chasid.
During the majority of the shiur, the Rav discussed many sugyot from the Talmud and disputes among Poskim (legal decisors). He explained that these were the dispute between Yosef and his brothers. At the beginning of his words, he brought the dispute between the Radbaz and the Urim V’Tumim about the opinion of the Rambam, and the question of whether fowl is halachically considered “meat.” He brought another subject where Yosef and his brothers disagreed – “the wives of one’s father,” whether it was permissible for the brothers to sell the sons of the maidservants, as is brought in Rambam.
In the midst of these words, the Rav cited the incident brought in Midrash, that in a shiur of Rebbi [Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi], two deaf-mutes sat for a long time, and Rebbi requested mercy for them and they were healed. It was found that they knew the entire Torah. The Rav said that we learn from this that one needs to come to all the shiurim even if one doesn’t understand anything. He also brought from Gilgulei Neshamot that these were the souls of Eldad and Medad, who really meant well when they went through the camp and announced prophetically, “Moshe will die and Yehoshua will bring the people in,” because they didn’t want their maternal brothers to die. However, it was forbidden for them to reveal the prophecy, because it’s forbidden for a prophet to reveal a prophecy that isn’t given over for verbal revelation. Amongst these words, he mentioned Miriam and Aharon who spoke about Moshe, saying that they also meant well, because it is written in Sefer HaMidot that a man who abstains from his wife is liable to death. Therefore, they wanted to explain to Moshe why a decree of death had been passed. The Rav said that this was their mistake, because if there is a decree on the Tzaddik, the one who needs to repent is you, and not the Tzaddik.
He also spoke about the humility of Yehoshua, that the spies plotted to kill him so that there would not be the situation of “Moshe will die and Yehoshua will bring the people in,” but the truth is that words of prophecy don’t add or detract, and if Moshe says to enter the Land, then we enter, even if all considerations suggest otherwise. And really, if they had entered the Land, there would have been the revival of the dead, because someone who lives in the Land of Israel can revive the dead. The Rav emphasized that dwelling outside of Israel is forbidden, and spoke at this point about the days of Mashiach and the process of redemption.
After this, he returned to the subject of disputes and the sugya about whether a “Ben Pekuah” (an animal born through Caesarean section) requires ritual slaughter. He brought a number of examples, such as Yaakov’s sheep who became pregnant through water and therefore their offspring did not count as the flesh of an animal. Likewise, he mentioned Rabbi Chanina and Rabbi Hoshea, who every Shabbat eve would create a calf using the Sefer Yetzirah.
Later on, he spoke about Nachum Ish Gamzu, saying that a person needs to know that the essence of what happens to him is for the best, just like the dirt was the best thing for Nachum Ish Gamzu, because the king has endless gemstones, and they wouldn’t have caused him to cancel the decree. And now that he brought dirt which turned into arrows, it was specifically in the merit of this that the decree was cancelled, like it was with Rabbi Akiva when the candle went out, and the donkey and rooster were devoured, that specifically this was what helped him so that the bandits wouldn’t find him. In the continuation of the topic, he said that like the dirt of Nachum Ish Gamzu, so it was during the time of Devorah that the dirt turned into arrows and swords. Because Yehoshua revealed the mitzvah of Periyah, and said that if the Jewish people had the mitzvah of Periyah, they would not have sinned with the Golden Calf. After that, the matter of Periyah was forgotten again, and the one who renewed the mitzvah was Devorah, and in the merit of this, she defeated Sisra.
After these words, he discussed other topics, among them “Miriam’s Well,” and said that if a person immerses in Miriam’s well, they are healed of all illnesses! Likewise, he discussed the subject of marital harmony and the need for a person to be pleasant in his home, bringing the Gemara, “A person should never instill excessive fear in his home” in the context of the concubine of Giv’ah. Likewise, he discussed the grave of Otniel ben Kenaz, stating the Otniel merited to be buried at the end of Ma’arat HaMachpelah.
Towards the end of the shiur, he returned to the dispute between Yosef and his brothers. He mentioned that most of their disagreements hinged on the question of whether they were Rabbinically obligated, and likewise if they were obligated as Sons of Noach [as non-Jews, since it was before the Torah was given]. He discussed whether a “Limb from a Living Animal” includes a situation where the two “simanim” of ritual slaughter are cut [the trachea and esophagus]. He brought the Rambam in five places for a more detailed explanation of how it is still considered living – regarding betrothal; divorce – whether a person whose two simanim are cut can give a divorce document, and whether such a person can release an agunah [a woman whose marital status is doubtful]; and, likewise, the impurity of the dead, and whether in such a case a Kohen can still stay in the same room.
The Rav shlit”a concluded the shiur discussing the revelation of Yosef and the self-sacrifice of Serach bat Asher, who revealed to Yaakov that Yosef was alive, despite the fact that in a single moment, he could have resented the sale of Yosef, and everyone would have been dead. He spoke of the entire story described in these Torah portions, how Yosef revealed himself to his brother and told them, “I am Yosef!” Then their souls left them, because when we scream, “I am Yosef,” and know that everything is because of, “I am Yosef,” then this is the rectification of the world!