chiddush logo


Written by Rabbi Yehoshua Alt, 25/4/2020

 Please send your feedback to [email protected] 

To join the thousands of recipients and receive these insights free on a weekly email, obtain previous articles, feedback, comments, suggestions (on how to spread the insights of this publication further, make it more appealing or anything else), to support or dedicate this publication which has been in six continents and over thirty-five countries, or if you know anyone who is interested in receiving these insights weekly, please contact the author, Rabbi Yehoshua Alt, at [email protected]. Thank you.    

לעילוי נשמת שמואל אביגדור בן יצחק מאיר

This newsletter can also be viewed atהורדות-עלונים/fascinating-insights/


To view these essays in German, please visit

Please feel free to print some copies of this publication and distribute it in your local Shul for the public, having a hand in spreading Torah.   


Fascinating Insights—The Sefer (in English)


There are those that give different excuses for why they believe they can’t accomplish in various areas (studying Torah, being successful at a profession and so on). One’s excuse is because of his upbringing while another blames his Rebbe. Another claims he has a learning disability. The list goes on. Nevertheless, we see some that have troubles yet become successes and others that don’t, as it depends on us, not outside factors. In this way the Ritva[1] explains why Yaakov and Esav were twins, as it was to show that the righteousness of Yaakov came because of himself and not because of his parents or any other reason. Yaakov and Esav were in the same stomach, the same parents and so forth yet Yaakov was righteous and Esav evil. So, the cause of our greatness or lack of it is dependent on us. This is just as R’ Elazar Ben Durdiya remarked אין הדבר תלוי אלא בי, it depends solely on me.[2] 


The great R’ Akiva could have had many excuses why he shouldn’t be a success. He didn’t begin learning Torah until age 40,[3] didn’t descend from Jewish lineage,[4] his father-in-law was against him marrying his daughter,[5] 24,000 students of his died[6] and so on. Yet he persevered and became the great R’ Akiva to the extent that he recited Shema at his final moments on this world while being combed to death with saying I finally have the opportunity to fulfill בכל נפשך (even if he takes your soul)![7]


This idea is shown in the Parsha where it speaks of the two goats of Yom Kippur. The Mishna[8] states that they should be alike in appearance, height, value and purchased in a single transaction. Yet, one is for Hashem and one is לעזאזל.[9] Similarly, two people can have the same parents, attend the same Yeshivos and the like and turn out so different. 


One may have good excuses for why he is unsuccessful. We can compare this to one that is overweight who was extremely busy working and taking care of his family that he had no time to exercise thereby being unable to lose weight. Although it may be true, nevertheless because of his inaction he looks the way he looks.


The Gemara says שובו בנים שובבים חוץ מאחר, return wayward sons except for Acher.[10] This can also be interpreted that those who say I am the exception, I am different (אחר) are the ones that can’t (חוץ) do Teshuva because they think they are different. It is the ones who say I am different that don’t accomplish in life, as they always have excuses.

Rabbi Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander Ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. Rabbi Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.

[1] In his commentary on the Haggada, p. 27 s.v. ואתן ליצחק (printed in Chidushai HaRitva after Mesachta Pesachim).

[2] Avoda Zara 17a. The Pasuk says by Yaakov and Esavויגדלו הנערים..., they grew up. Esav became one who knows hunting and Yaakov was an איש תם, wholesome (Breishis 25:27). When one grows up and he is out of the domain of his parents and Yeshiva, which way does he go? Like an Esav or a Yaakov. 

[3] Avos Drebi Nosson 6:2. It describes there how he, together with his young son, went to Cheder to learn the Alef-Beis.

[4] Brachos 27b. See R’ Nissim Gaon, s.v. נוקי לר' עקיבא.  

[5] Kesubos 62b. After he betrothed her, and she sent him away to learn Torah, her father threw her out of his house and made a vow prohibiting her to benefit from his possessions. 

[6] Yevamos 62b. This is alluded to in את עמר (Vayikra 23:15)— which is dealing with Sefira—as it is an acronym forתלמידי ר' עקיבא מתו מגבת עד אנטיפרס, the students of R’ Akiva from Gevas until Antifras (border towns) died during Sefira. How many died? This is alluded to in the same Pasuk in the words וספרתם לכם, count for yourselves. Let us multiply each letter of the word לכם by its adjoining letter. ל (30) multiplied by כ (20) is 600. 600 multiplied by מ (40) is 24,000!    

[7] Brachos 61b. R’ Akiva was arrested because the Roman government decreed that the Jewish people not engage in learning Torah yet R’ Akiva convened public assemblies and studied Torah with them. 

[8] Yoma 62a.

[9] Vayikra 16:8.

[10] Chagiga 15a.

To dedicate this Chiddush (Free!) Leiluy Nishmas,Refuah Sheleimah, Hatzlacha, click here
Agree? Disagree? Want to add anything? Comment on the chiddush!
Discussions - Answers and Comments (0)
This chiddush has not been commented on yet