A Student Publication of the Torah Academy of Bergen County
Sukkot 15-21 Tishrei 5764 October 11-17, 2003 Vol.13 No.5
In This Issue:
Rabbi Chaim Jachter
The entire staff of Kol Torah wishes
all of its readers
Holding Down Two Jobs
by Jesse Dunietz
One of the many customs of the Chag of Succot is the reading of Megillat Kohelet, a rather cynical guide to life. Near the end of the Megillah, Shlomo HaMelech writes (12:10), “Bikesh Kohelet Limtzo Divrei Cheifetz, V’katuv Yosher Divrei Emet.” “Kohelet (Shlomo) sought to find delightful words, and properly recorded words of truth.” The Gemara (Rosh Hashana 27) explains the first half of the pasuk Midrashically as referring to an attempt by Shlomo to be like Moshe. A Bat Kol came out and told him, “There has never arisen in Israel a prophet like Moshe” (a direct quote from Devarim 34:10).
At first, Shlomo’s intent appears to be perfectly acceptable. He wanted to achieve a very high level of Nevu’ah, like that of Moshe. He certainly had Ruach HaKodesh and had several prophecies in his lifetime, so why did the Bat Kol object to what he was doing?
The Likutei Bisamim answers that Shlomo had an entirely different goal in mind. He cannot have been striving for Moshe’s level of prophecy, as the Torah states specifically in Devarim exactly what the Bat Kol said, namely that such a level is impossible. Rather, Shlomo wanted to imitate a different aspect of Moshe: his dual role. Shlomo HaMelech, who was one of the greatest kings in our history, wanted to be an outstanding Navi at the same time. The Gemara does not say his aspiration was “to be a Navi like Moshe,” but rather, “to be like Moshe.” Thus, his precedent was Moshe Rabbeinu, who served both roles at once. Hashem, however, had other ideas, saying, “There has never arisen in Israel a prophet like Moshe” – Moshe was the only one who could meld the two jobs. Shlomo’s attempt would fail, simply because of the incompatibility of the positions. The job of the king is to provide for the day-to-day lives of his kingdom’s inhabitants, dealing with the practical and the political. A Navi, on the other hand, engages almost exclusively in spiritual dealings, having little to do with the details of everyday life. Therefore, Shlomo could not possibly have performed both duties simultaneously. Only for Moshe was Hashem willing to grant the special gift of a dual position, but since his death no prophet has ever been “like Moshe,” who combined both leadership aspects. (This is the reason why even righteous kings who had Ruach Hakodesh, such as David Hamelech, had personal Nevi’im serving them: they needed the Nevi’im to serve as the other half of the nation’s leadership.)
This Midrash provides an valuable lesson in reality. It was one thing for Shlomo to want to be a great leader, but another thing entirely to try to be a Moshe. Realistic ambitions are key to actually accomplishing them; no one ever got anywhere by intending to sprout wings and fly. We, like Shlomo, must first learn the inescapable limitations which exist in some areas before becoming great in other areas, which, as we all know, Shlomo eventually did.
by Nachi Friedman
Yom Kippur and Sukkot are connected in many ways. The most simple and obvious connection is the fact that Sukkot follows Yom Kippur. This makes it the holiday on which each Jew takes a few days to celebrate after a month and ten days of utter seriousness, when he or she literally prayed for his or her life. However, there is also a much deeper connection between these to holidays.
This year, Rabbi Blackstein took the time to illustrate the connection between Sukkot and Yom Kippur through a very significant question. Kohelet seems to be a very sad and scolding megillah, so why is it read on the happy and joyous occasion of Sukkot? Wouldn’t Yom Kippur seem like a more appropriate time to read it? In fact, in his opening comment on Kohelet, Rashi says that the definition of “Divrei,” the first word in Kohelet, is “Divrai Tochacha,” words of rebuke! Would it not make more sense to read it on a day when we are constantly reminded to do Teshuva and follow the right path? I personally brought along a Sefer Kohelet to shul on Yom Kippur to read, as it gave me a better understanding of what the seriousness of the day had to teach me.
Obviously, there is some connection between Sukkot and Kohelet, as all holidays have connections to their readings. Perhaps the connection here is that even though Sukkot is a time of Joy, it also has to be elevated into days of understanding what Yom Kippur was about and why you just did Teshuva. These are days when we have just been pardoned for our sins, but now we must strive to become better people.
In his Chumash class last year, Rabbi Jachter raised a question as to why the Torah gives two sets of borders for Eretz Yisrael. The noticeably larger one is from the Nile to the Euphrates, while the smaller one is just from Shevet Dan to Be’er Sheva. The Jewish people received the smaller Nachalah just for being Jews and accepting Hashem’s Torah, but why must Hashem include another border and what is its significance? The answer is that we, as good Torah Jews, should always be striving for the better. Only once we have reached our higher goals and reached complete purity will we attain that extra Nachalah that Hashem described for us.
If we make a mistake we should not jump to conclusions of “he did it, it definitely was not me” but rather “I made a mistake how can I correct it”. I’m not sure how many Rabbis who have finished Shas have said, “That’s it, I’m done with learning because I am complete”. As we see, not even Moshe was complete (he was not given eretz yisrael because even he sinned) but yet, we say every day in Yigdal, “Lo Kam Biyisrael Kimoshe Od.” We should all set the highest expectations for ourselves. How we go about reaching those expectations are our own business.
Walt Disney once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it and it’s kinda fun to do the impossible.” Indeed, many people may look at their current situation in life and say, “It’s an unfixable and impossible situation to be in and I cannot do anything about it.” However, this is the message that Kohelet is trying to relay to you. You’ve just capped off another year on a clean slate. Now, don’t take Sukkot to be only a time of endless happiness, but take some time to reevaluate yourself. This is the time to set your goals for the year and to change what you want to change because if you want to do or change something, you, and only you has the power to do so for yourself. I wish everyone a happy Sukkot and hope that as we read the cryptic Sefer Kohelet it is a little more meaningful and enjoyable to each and every one of us as we strive for our goals.
Halacha of the Week
Although one is permitted to eat a snack outside of the Sukkah, one should not snack outside the Sukkah in the middle of a meal (see Sha’ar HaTziyun 639:29).
Staff at time of publication:
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