How to Buy a House by Rabbi Joel Grossman


In this week’s Parsha, we find the famous commandment of ולא תתורו אחרי לבבכם ואחרי עיניכם, “And do not stray after your heart and after your eyes” (15:39).  The אלש"ך poses a question: “Usually, a person first sees something with his eyes and only then desires it with his heart.  Why, then, does the Torah first mention the heart and then the eyes?”  He answers that there is a difference between seeing and looking.  If someone sees something without intending to, he is not held responsible for seeing it.  He is held accountable only if he subsequently goes back for a second look.  Therefore, the Pasuk speaks first of the heart and then of the eyes.

There is a story that illustrates this point, which is quoted by Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser in his Sefer Something to Say.  A Jew went to the Gerer Rebbe to ask the Rebbe’s advice about the purchase of a new home.  The Rebbe said, “Tell me, please, about the windows.”  “The windows?” the man responded.  “Yes.  Where do the windows face?  What will the children see when they look out the windows?  Will they see the sight of holiness or, Chas Veshalom, will they see negative sights that can drag them down?  If the sights they will see are less than reputable I would not buy the house.”

We should live our lives with this in mind when we make choices regarding camps and vacations.  If they will lead to קדושה, holiness, then we know our decision is correct, but if they will lead to seeing or doing the wrong thing, then we should not take the chance.  The most important thing for a parent to watch is our children’s friends and influences.

There is a famous story quoted about Yeravam ben Nevat.  Hashem told him that Hashem, King David, and Yeravam would walk together in Olam Habah.  Yeravam, who was a sinner and one who caused others to sin, asked Hashem, “Who will go first?”  Hashem repeated the same line again.  Many commentaries explain that Yeravam’s answer, “If I cannot go first, then I do not want to go,” showed his true colors.  I once heard from Rabbi Leib Tropper that Yeravam’s sin was being too haughty.  He heard who was going to go but only wanted to hear again that he would be one of the two who would be able to walk with Hashem.  Someone who constantly needs to hear something over and over again is a sinner and someone we should stay away from.

At the conclusion of the Parsha we have the section about Tzitzit.  In 15:38, the Torah writes that we must put a thread of תכלת, blue wool, in our Tzitzit.  The Gemara in Masechet Chullin explains that this color was chosen because it will remind us of the blue water, which will remind us of the heaven, which eventually will remind us of the throne of glory.  Rav Moshe Feinstein asks why Hashem did it this way rather than picking a color that is closer to the color of the throne of glory.  He answers that the Gemara is trying to teach us that in order to advance in Judaism we must do so in levels, little by little, until we reach our proper level.  This is done through tremendous effort that one must exerted, because without work, one will not be able to attain the level that he wants to reach.

We must take these messages to heart: proper and continuous effort must be done in order to progress, and we must also realize that we should not look at the wrong things.  With this in mind, we can help ourselves and our families do the correct things and make the proper choices in life.

Judge Positively by Yonasan Shapiro

Lighting Souls by Yehuda Turetsky