Comments of Rabbi Dovid Shteiman on Weekly Parshah Devarim

The whole book of Devarim consists of Moshe’s moral teachings to the nation of Israel before he left this world. Our Sages explain that people take closer to heart whatever a person says right before his passing.

Moshe Rabbeinu knew that without his teachings the Jewish People would not win the war with their evil inclination. That is possible only if we strive to be closer to G-d, love Him with all our heart, and learn His Torah.

One of such lessons we can learn from the following story.

When the famous tsaddik reb Levi Yitzchak from Berdichev was newly married, his fatherin-law wanted to bestow upon him the honor to lead congregation in prayer on Simchas Torah. Reb Levi Yitzchak approached the bima, place where Torah is read, placed tallis on his left shoulder and prepared to recite the blessing. However, instead he took off the tallis and placed it back on the bima. A few seconds later he again took the tallis, but put it down again. He did the same a few more times, until he resolutely placed it on the bima and returned to his seat.

No one from the congregants could understand his action. His father-in-law was embarrassed by such bizarre behavior of his son-in-law, but decided not to ask him until they returned home. Someone else led the prayers.

At home reb Levi Yitzchak explained,

- When I came up to the bima, I heard the voice of my evil inclination, telling me that he wants to pray with me. I asked him what right he has to do that. I learned in the yeshiva of greatest sages, and he? He said that he learned right next to me. When I heard this, I agreed that he was right and put my tallis back.

Then I told him, “I passed exams on all the laws of Torah in front of greatest Rabbis.” He told me that he passed the exam right along with me. I told him that I learned chassidus from the greatest tsaddikim, and he said that he was learning right beside me.

Then I told him, “Well, if you are such a tsaddik, then you lead the prayers!” and I returned to my place.

Reb Levi Yitzchak’s father-in-law was amazed at his son-in-law’s humility and purity of motives, and began to respect him even more.

Torah teaches us that when our forefather Yaakov was going to meet his brother Eisav, he turned to Hashem in prayer, “Save me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Eisav!” (Bereishis 32:12).

Why did Yakov use double language “hand of my brother, hand of Eisav”?

Nesivos Shalom explains that sometimes evil inclination comes to a person like a brother. He is always next to him, even during prayer, learning of Torah, and performance of mitzvos, as it shows in the story of reb Levi Yitzchak. He, “like a friend,” detracts attention to extra things, persuading that they, too, are part of service of G-d. Sometimes evil inclination comes as Eisav, like an enemy, and makes us commit horrible sins.

A person must always keep himself on guard.

Source: Ohr HaTorah