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Chasdei David: The Chesed of Torah

The Eighth of Kislev is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Dovid Borenstein of Sochotchov, the Chasdei Dovid (1876-1942). Born to Rav Shmuel (the Shem MiShmuel), who was the son of the Avnei Nezer. His primary teacher was his grandfather. In 1906, he became the Rav of Vishogrod, Poland. He moved to Lodz in the late 1920s. He was very active with Agudas Yisrael and encouraged many to settle in Eretz Yisrael. He died of heart failure in the Warsaw Ghetto. The Sochatchov heritage continued under his brother, Rav Chanoch Henoch, who had established a beis medrash in Bayit Vegan.

The Tosfos Yom Tov (Berachot 7:3) explains why we use the Name “Hashem” when we recite the blessing over Torah learning, as in: Borachu et Hashem HaMivorach,” yet, when we recite the Birchat Hamazon – the Grace After Meals – we use the Name “Elokeinu,” as in “Nivarech lelokeinu.” He explains that the Attribute of Justice, represented by “Elokim” demands that God feed His creations. However, Torah was a gift given to Israel as an expression of deep love and Chesed, represented by the Name, “Hashem.”

The idea of Torah being an expression of love is also found in the Mishna (Avot 3:18): Beloved are the people Israel, for a cherished utensil (Torah) was given to them. It is indicative of a greater love that it was made known to them that they were given a cherished utensil.

The Malechet Shlomo (Berachot 7:3) asks how the Mishna and the Tosfos Yom Tov can describe Torah as an expression of unique love, when the Talmud (Avodah Zarah 2b) describes God as offering the Torah to all the nations of the world who rejected the gift.

The answer is found in the same selection in Avodah Zarah, when the nations complain that God forced Israel to accept the Torah by holding the mountain over their heads and warning them they if they did not accept the Torah, they would die right there and then.

The extra love and Chesed that is manifest to Israel in the gift of Torah is that God made it clear to them that it is not possible to exist with meaning for even one second without Torah.

All of the experiences of Israel since Sinai have been to remind us that we cannot exist without Torah. The constant reminders are a great expression of the limitless love that God has for Israel, and a wonderful Chesed that helps us remember the source of our existence. (Chasdei David)

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