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Shabbat Prayers: Tzidkat Yosef: Kabbalat Shabbat Psalm 96:13

The 15th of Adar is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Yosef Leifer (ben Yissachar Dov Bertcha) of Pittsburgh, the Tzidkas Yosef (1891-1966). A grandson of Rav Mordechai Leifer of Nadvorna, Rav Yosef was a descendant of Rav Meir HaGadol of Premishlan. After marrying and living in Krula for seven years, he traveled to America in 1924 to raise funds for his orphaned sisters (his father died when Rav Yosef was 15 years old). One of his stops was  Pittsburgh, and he decided to stay. His brothers, Rav Meir and Rav Shalom, also came to America, taking positions in Cleveland and Brighton Beach, respectively.  His youngest son, Yitzchak Eizik, passed away when he was early twenties. Two other sons, Rav Yissachar Ber and Rav Mordechai were murdered by the Nazis in 1944. Only his oldest son, Rav Avraham Abba, escaped and succeeded him after his petira. Rav Avraham Abba moved to Eretz Yisrael in 1970 and founded Yeshivas Tzidkas Yosef in Ashdod. He was buried on Har Hamenuchos.


“The field and everything in it will exult, then all the trees of the forest will sing with joy, before God, for He will have arrived; He will have arrived to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and peoples, with His truth (Psalms 96:13).” When we compare this with the closing verse of Psalm 98: “Rivers will clap hands, mountains will exult together. Before God, for He will have arrived to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness and peoples with fairness.” we find a number of differences:

  1. 96 ends with a double, “or He will have arrived; He will have arrived.” 98 ends with just a single, “He will have arrived.”
  2. 96 says, “with His truth.” 98 says, “with fairness.”

When God judges those with a Higher Soul, He judges them while they are sleeping, and therefore, not sinning. However, when He judges those who reject the Higher Soul, He judges them while they are awake, and actively sinning.

Psalm 96 is describing the meticulous judgment of the latter and therefore twice describes God as “arriving,”; He judges and then judges again. They are judged by absolute Truth. However, those with a Higher Soul are judges lightly, and therefore the verse only mentions once, “He has arrived,” and does with a gentler judgment, that of fairness.

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