Rav Moshe Twersky Hy”d zt”l on the Parsha

Rav Moshe Twersky zt"l, Hy"d
Rav Moshe Twersky zt”l, Hy”d

Compiled by Rabbi Yehoshua Berman

1 – Ish Ruach

“קח לך את יהושע איש אשר רוח בו” (כז:יח)

The Torah refers to Yehoshua as an Ish Ruach. The Sforno explains that what this means is that “He is ready and prepared to receive the light of the Countenance of the [eternally] living King, similar to that which the pasuk says, ‘And in the heart of all those wise of heart He gave wisdom.”
This could be understood as follows. A person is composed of two totally different entities: a body and a neshama, representing gashmiyus and ruchniyus. This is echoed in the words of the Ramah in his explanation of the bracha of asher yatzar, “Hashem does a wondrous feat in that which He guards the ruach (spirit) of man inside of him, and binds something spiritual into something physical .”

Whenever it is possible to have shleimus in both components of that which comprise the adam, ashrecha v’tov lach. However, whenever shleimus in both is not possible, the individual must make a choice whether to impoverish his ruchniyus for the sake of a more complete gashmiyus, or to allow his gashmiyus to become impoverished for the sake of a more complete ruchniyus.

Without a doubt, the correct choice is to allow an impoverishment of gashmiyus, which, after all, is only temporary, and not to impoverish ruchniyus which is eternal.

Even when there is no choice but to allow for a certain degree of impoverishment of one’s ruchniyus component, for example if one needs to engage in efforts to make a parnassa, he should nevertheless remain cognizant of the main objective; and, whenever possible, to re-focus on the ruchniyus.

This type of choice can be relevant to a person for one minute, one hour, one day, one year, or ten years. The definition of an Ish Ruach is one who, when confronted with this decision, will never choose to impoverish his ruchniyus for the sake of his gashmiyus; the gashmiyus will always remain secondary for him vis a vis his ruchniyus. Hashem told Moshe that this is a quality required for a leader of Klal Yisrael, and that Yehoshua has this quality.
(Notes of Reb Matis Feld)

2 – Stories Regarding Rebbi and his Matzos

“שבעת ימים מצות יאכל” (כח:יז)

Rebbi was extremely particular about his matzos and would only eat those prepared by his special matzah-baking group. His role in that group was manifold. The sticks that were used for rolling the dough were stored in a special storage room throughout the year. The baking would take place on the first Friday of the month of Nisan, and it was his job to transport the sticks from the storage room to the bakery on the previous Tuesday. Even that job was done with full application of energy, and in an expeditious manner. On Thursday, the day before the baking, he would check and clean all the sticks together with other members of the group. In addition to that, he would move all the other utensils from their storage places to the baking room. Many years, he would joing those who would go to the well later that day to draw the water that would be used for the baking (mayim sheh’lanu), and he would be the one to transport the water to the bakery the next morning. However, he did not want to transport the water during the daytime when the sun was shining already (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 455:1), but he also did not want to do so before davening. So, he just woke up really early and transported the water before dawn. After davening vasikin, he would go to bring the flour from where it was stored to the bakery. During the actual baking process, his role was to pour the flour into the bowls in which it was mixed with the water. Beyond that, he also made it his business to remind all the people there to say “l’sheim matzas mitzvah”. He would do that by loudly saying those words in a special, enthusiastic sing-song way.

(Based on what was heard from Reb Avrohom Twersky [and a bit from personal experience of the editor])

It was erev Pesach, and my husband went to open his matzos to check them for kefulos, to be mafrish challah, and get them ready for the Seider. These were his precious matzos. Into which he put so much time and energy. He would say that the whole reason we had a car was for two things: to be able to go to the Rebbeh in Bnei Brak (Rav Yisrael Elya Weintraub), and to be able to transport the sticks for the matzah baking.

When he opened the box, he was met with an awful sight. The packer had negligently put two kilos of matza into a one kilo box. Practically everything was broken into pieces. This was a disaster. My husband would not eat any other matzos. These were the matzos for his seider, for the seudos of Yomtov, Shabbos Chol Ha’Moed, everything!

In the end, he did manage to find matzos that were still whole for the seider, but in those first moments of opening the box, it looked like one big mess of broken pieces.

He fell silent, and his face started getting redder and redder. He was clearly so upset. The tension in the house was palpable. Both I and my daughter were at a loss. We were just waiting there, frozen.

And then, all of a sudden, my husband broke out into joyous song. And that was that. All the tension was gone, completely melted away as if it never existed.

It was such a beautiful song.

This story took place about fifteen or sixteen years ago, around the year 5760 (2000). A few years ago, I mentioned the incident to my husband and asked him to remind me what song it was that he sang then. It was so beautiful and I wanted to remember it. All he said to me, though, is, “I don’t remember, and please don’t make a big deal out of nothing.”

(Rebbetzin Twersky)

I once was zocheh to be a guest in Rebbi’s home for a meal on Pesach. A relative of his was there, and he was talking about how he’s very careful to only eat hand-made matzos. “What do you do for matza?” he asked. Rebbi replied, “I eat whatever they put in front of me! ”

(Reb Yitzchok Goldsmith)

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